A simple idea I have to alleviate the occasional writers block and ensure that I do something. Every so often I will be adding flash fiction inspired by relatively obscure but fully cannon Space Marine Chapters. The first person to correctly guess the chapter will receive a like!
Now, without further ado...
Now comes the time.
The battle is won and our enemies lie shattered upon the rocky soil of this inhospitable planet. It once played host to an Imperial colony; hardscrabble men and women who eked out a pitiable existence on the rude ores and other detritus, paid a pittance by the local mining guilds when the tithing of the Mechanicus did not reap their yields to exhaustion. Now they are dead – all of them. Something came for them from the mines; something inhuman, dredged into the light by the careless ministrations of desperate industry. I do not know what they are and I do not care. I am here for one purpose and one purpose alone: to destroy the Enemies of Mankind wherever they rear their ugly, misbegotten heads.
I came to this world with my brothers, lured by the death pangs of the colony screaming into the void. By the time we arrived, there were no colonists left alive and the raiders were gorging themselves insensate on the human wreckage. It was a simple thing, for my brothers and me, to destroy those abominations. We ripped and tore them to pieces with our blades and our fists and, for some of us whose appetites run hotter, with our teeth. The day is won for Mankind.
This is a bleak setting for triumph.
The cry of scavenger avians draw the eyes upwards but my own are locked on the task set before me. I am the Sin Eater. I wear my badge of office tattooed across my face: a patchwork of scars that carry to the bone, artfully entwined with the looping scrawl of a dead language, lost to all but those inducted into my esoteric brotherhood.
“The enemy is me, and I am he,” I intone with ritual gravity. I lift the offering to my lips and bite deeply into the tissue. A taste both rancid and succulent flows through me and I struggle to maintain focus. I must not fall to the Appetites, not now. I focus on the kaleidoscope of images that slide across my mind, biting and clawing at them in a desperate attempt to create a coherent whole. Minutes pass, eons, epochs… And then I have it.
My eyes snap open and I look around at my brothers. They surround me in a loose circle, grim-faced and hollow-eyed. Not a man among them wears his helm and their mouths are stained bloody. One of them – Brother Tibor – has succumbed to the Appetites to a greater degree than the others, gnawing still on the calf muscle of a truncated leg. I cannot tell from which species it comes. I stand and unsheathe my short blade in one motion. Tibor is looking at me now, sensing my intent as his brothers back away, giving me space to attend to the second of my sacred duties; the first is set aside while I attend to this, the more urgent of the two. My blade meets transhuman flesh and I struggle, sawing desperately at super-dense vertebrae. Mercifully, Bother Tibor does not fight me. Like so many of our wayward brothers, he greets his release with a final surge of herculean discipline and dies with a bitter smile on his lips.
“Your strength becomes our strength,” I whisper once it is done. “Live on in your brothers and kill with them, for Him on Earth.”
Then the feast begins.
Once it is over, I convene with the others. We are sated and calm, digesting the new strength gifted to us by our brother. I look to Veteran Sergeant Ferenc and he nods through a mask of blood. His eyes are haunted like the others.
“I know where they are,” I begin, gesturing to where we have piled the dead of our enemies. “They make their lair in the mountains nearby.”
The sergeant nods again and checks his weapon, racking the slide to ensure a round is chambered. “Then let us meet them there,” he growls. A chorus of affirmation answers him and the battle chant begins:
“Pray for death! Pray for Death!” the others howl in unison. I can already feel the Appetites taking hold of them once more. I would be lying if I said I do not feel it also.
“Apothecary,” Ferenc says, using my formal title, “lead the way.”
Which Chapter Am I?