Posts Tagged ‘Kaltos


testament, part four

It should be my moment of triumph, but as I stand above him I know that it is not yet time to finish what he began all those years ago when he left me for dead in those damn caves on Corfun III; it is not yet time to kill him. There would be no revenge in this, no satisfaction in snuffing out this pathetic life of his. I see him laid there — Colbert — all wrapped up in tubes and wires, placid and lost to the world. I see him, and as my hand closes around his throat I feel… I feel nothing.

To kill him now, what would that achieve? Would my great victory be to release him from his bed-ridden comatose existence? A victory for whom I wonder. I release his throat and snort in frustration, my vocoders translating the sound as a harsh atonal chirp of noise. All these years focussing only on killing him, just to find death itself may have beaten me to the punch.

A nurse enters the room. I continue the pretence which secured my entrance into the hospital facility – a maintenance technician, here to check the equipment. I shoo her away with repurposed irritation, griping that her presence will offend the machine spirit of the ventilator. She leaves, unaware of how close she had come to my simply killing her. It would be a complication, however, that I can ill-afford.

Events on this planet several years ago led to a full Inquisitorial blockade, which has only been degrading bit by bit as vessels from the flotilla are gradually released of their obligation. Arriving here was difficult. I did not wish the deaths that occured, but they were necessary and I do not regret them. It has been so long since I felt regret that I wonder whether that emotion is still within my capacity. Perhaps it is a weakness of the flesh I have cast away and replaced with the cold hard steel of logic and reason.

Such ruminations are a waste of my time. I must decide what to do. I know only one thing: destroying this pathetic creature would be no vengeance at all. If only he were alive, if only he were in his prime… then I could triumph. To reduce him from what he once was, to smash his potential as he did mine, that is my goal. And it is not yet beyond my reach.

I have always had experience in the ways of the flesh. Since I went rogue I have worked alongside many of the Magos Biologis, or extracted their knowledge through other means; I am a skilled physician should I choose to be. If these incompetent and fleshy medicae here in this hospital have failed to heal him, that is no discouragement to me. I will save him. I will save him so that  I can destroy him.

I examine his charts. Multiple gunshot wounds. Three bullets entered his chest, two of them exiting neatly after puncturing his right lung. The third fragmented, spraying his chest cavity with shrapnel. I run a quick scan with my auspex. This was a grave wound and has had a lasting impact unlike the previous two. His heart is scarred and beats limply. If I had an upper lip, it would be curling now in a derisive sneer at the weakness of biological constructs.

That it beats at all is thanks wholly to the actions of the medicae who directed Colbert’s care and restarted his damaged heart. Too late. I direct my auspex scanner up and run its cool blue beam over his face, his eyes taped shut to protect them from drying out. I see cellular death in the brainstem. His coma will never end; his damaged brain unable to keep him conscious, his damaged heart keeping him bed-bound forever even if he were somehow to awaken. It is beyond Imperial medical skill to heal him.

Beyond Imperial medical skill. Yet not beyond the capabilities of medicine. So much of our knowledge has been lost, and so much has been put aside, ruled unacceptable by quill-pushing know-nothings who value inky-fingered superstition above quantifiable benefit. However that which has been lost can be found, and the edicts which stand in the way of progress can be ignored, defied, destroyed.

Xenobactia novavitauctus is an interesting organism. I take the phial containing it from within a secure compartment inside my chest plate and tilt the cloudly purple liquid from one side to the other, watching as the agitation and heat from my fingers awakens the dormant bacteria within the suspension. The fluid turns clear as they consume the nutrients. An interesting organism. It mimics the tissue surrounding  it, in every way appearing identical. If placed on scratched skin they will become as skin cells, a liver will yield liver cells, and so on.

However much of a miracle it may seem, there is a down side. The novavitauctus organism will only mimic the surrounding tissue. In fact it is an alien which enjoys a symbiotic relationship with its host. Once introduced, the organism will remain there until its host dies, always appearing and functioning as ordinary tissue, but never losing its identity as an alien organism. And this minor drawback caused led to its use being denounced as a sacriledge against the Imperium, a defilement of the image of the God-Emperor. How petty.

I extend a filament mechadendrite, first drawing up half the phial into an injector chamber, then guiding the mechadendrite into Colbert’s face. I enter behind his eye, being careful to avoid damaging his eye, and micro-scourges activate as I burrow through his eye socket to access his brain. Snaking around important structures, and ploughing through unimportant ones, I direct the mechadendrite to his brain stem. Using my auspex to pinpoint the appropriate location, I again use the filament to oblate the damaged brain tissue, before I release a cloud of the novavitauctus suspension onto the site of the injury.

I need to work quickly. In approximately ten minutes, the organism will have bonded with the surrounding tissue well enough for Colbert to regain consciousness. Before he does, I must repair his heart; there will be no joy in hunting a cripple. I remove the filament from his head, knowing the vague ache in his eye socket will most likely simply be dismissed as a headache. Even if it isn’t, the organism itself is invisible to scans.

I lift his arm and detach an IV line, silencing the monitoring machine’s alarms with a whispered command in binary. Its machine spirit cowers before my will. Using the catheter in his arm, I again extend the filament and run it down his vein, towards his heart. A quick application there too of the organism and I know that he will recover, in time, to full health. As my mechadendrite retreats from his body, I use it to nick the inside of his vein and I catalogue the tissue sample. Undoubtedly this will come in useful some day.

“Time to wake up now, Bradly Colbert,” I tell his sleeping form as I walk around his bed and place something on his nightstand so that it will be the first thing he sees on awakening. “Time for you to wake up. The game has started.”

I place on the nightstand a gold sovereign coin I acquired on Corfun III. It is blackened and scorched by the flames which almost crippled me. I glance at him again as I leave. I will enjoy this. He will awaken tainted, just the thing he turned against me for… and he won’t know it. I can almost taste the irony. I open the door and walk out.

“And, Colbert, it is your move.”


testament, part three

I am a madman and my experiment is an affront to the tech-god Himself. I know this because Arch-Magos Drellan told me it, shouted it at me in fact, just before I excised his brain and threw his body into the white-hot promethium jets. I did not feel angry or sad when he said it, even though the Arch-Magos was an old friend. I do not feel very much at all these days.

Whatever I was before my colleagues betrayed me on Corfun 3, now all I am is the desire for vengeance. Every simulated pulse of my artificial heart is a beat on the drum whose rhythym calls me to war. I last felt pity four months ago, as I euthanised a young woman whose body was rejecting my modifications. She would have died anyway, but I opted to save her the pain of systemic immuno-collapse. She kept her eyes fixed on mine as I asphyxiated her, made sure I would understand every delicate nuance of hatred, fear and pain.

If my mind were purely mechanical, I would suspect that it burnt out the circuits responsible for empathy; yet my brain is not a machine and whilst I have by necessity memorised human physiology emotional affairs still baffle me. It would be illogical to feel any connection to this woman, whose death I ultimately engineered. She was just a test subject, just a cog playing her part in my beautiful machinery, just a caged bird dying to warn of gas.

I should not remember her at all. Why do I? The question frustrates me and I desire answers. I will likely never find them, as I know my priority and it is revenge. Perhaps by achieving it I will validate her sacrifice, perhaps her death will have meant something. Perhaps I will care.

It does not matter to me at this moment. Little does, as I really am irrefutably insane. Raging through my veins like liquid fire, the alchemical tincture I have devised is temporarily thickening my blood vessels, pressing on my hypothalamus which is in return poisoning my body with all manner of hormones and chemicals. It is, I suppose, its protest at what I am doing to myself, and were my prosanguinators not filtering my blood as well as they are I would simply be dead. Instead I am driven to madness, wandering blindly and wildly through alleys and passageways, sending dustbins crashing out of my way and rodents fleeing. I have days left before the swelling will subside and sanity will return. My olfactory nerve enhancements tell me I smell strongly of stale sweat, urine and decayed food. It is worth the indignity, however, as my blood vessels will have acquired an internal plastic-like coating. I will function up to 5% more efficiently.

Madness is a price I pay gladly for my genius.


Testament, part two

I decline the man’s offer of a drink and consider the most enjoyable way to kill him. He is perched on the bar stool next to me and as he talks I have the privilege of being assaulted by his foul breath and the stink of synthahol. I do not know what he hopes to achieve; do not know why he imagines that acquiring the secrets of the Crux device will be as easy as getting me drunk and hoping I let my mouth run away with me.

We are in what I think is technically a bar, but which resembles more a horrendous golgotha of a dance club, with the acrid bite of stale sweat thick in the air. Everyone here is scum, and I do not exclude myself. I am a dishonoured failure, but that is a misunderstanding that I will one day correct so spectacularly that no-one will even remember my current shame. Still, the denizens of this place give me comfort in a strange way because they remind me that there are some depths I have not yet plumbed.

The man sat next to me slurs his speech and sprays me with spittle. I prepare a dose of toxic gases in my medical mechadendrite in return, but delay taking action. Killing him now would be enjoyable, yes, but it would ultimately complicate things too much for me. The local enforcers were insufferable enough without me stirring them up with another slaying. I had already killed two people since arriving on Albu 3, and things were already getting hot enough for me to move cities.

I am tracing my betrayer. He was here, on this world, some time ago. I think of his face, lit by gunfire in the dark space of the mining tunnel where he had sealed my fate – and his own. I remember the faint glimmer of a smile as he sent a barrage of explosive bolts down the tunnel, a barrage which ultimately nearly claimed my leg. I remember this, and tell  the man on the bar stool  that another drink sounds good.

As I drink I ruminate more. I have grown since that day on Corfun when I lost everything. I have seen what few others would dare to see, basked in the forbidden light of the Midas stars, touched the mantle of infinity itself in the warp storms of the Jafk Abyss – lost my soul and found it again.

Later that evening I sit alone in a private booth with the man from the bar stool. I have found out everything I need to about the organisation he is associated with, learned the names of the leaders who I will have to burn. I ask him whether he has ever seen the effects of the aerosolised pollutants of my homeworld. He is slurring his speech now, and he tells me that he hasn’t. I whip out my medical mechadendrite and point it at his face, before ejecting the toxic gases I prepared earlier.

His screams have stopped by the time I reach the exit.


Testament, part one

I could not forgive him. A betrayal was a betrayal, and when that betrayal leaves you alone, disoriented, disowned and bleeding on a planet which actively seeks to hasten your demise it becomes all you can think about. From the moment I opened my eyes and caught my first glimpse of the skies, dark with smoke and ash, all I knew was anger and lust for revenge.

I had tried to save his life. I had tried to save his life by shooting him. A shoulder wound would have knocked him down, taken him out of the fight. Saved him. He had ducked, and returned the favour by blasting my left leg open. He could not have known the extent to which his actions were putting my plans — and the Imperium itself — in peril. I had had to be the one to do it; had to be the one to step forward into the blackness. My colleagues were not experienced enough, were not ready to do what must be done.

And so I had stepped in. I had tried to save them, tried to save us all. The galaxy is a dangerous place, and every possible measure must be taken to defend it against the alien, the mutant and the heretic. This is my creed, this is my duty and this is my curse. I must step where angels fear to tread, seize the weapons of the darkness and use them to bring light into the pitch black that waits for the slightest chance, the slightest slip in one’s will, the most minor transgression… if it finds a way, that darkness will seep in and it will seize the heart of humanity with its tenebrous grasp.

I digress. I am laying on my back. The sky looks as though it is on fire. The acrid smell of destruction fills my nostrils. I wonder whether I have died. Perhaps, looking back now, it would have been best if I had died there, just another heretic, utterly damned, cast away into the river of time. I was not so conceited as to think I mattered, and the truth was that I did not matter. I was not special in any way, had achieved nothing worthy of note, wrought no great works. Not then, anyway. Once again I deviate from my narrative. You will forgive me, but I find my personal story less interesting than the greater issues upon which it touches.

The sky was dark. I was leaking blood from the hole in my left leg, and I was burned quite severely along my right side. The augmentation I had received from my supposed benefactor, the one with the flair for the dramatic who deemed himself worthy of the respect a name such as ‘the Shadow’ should command, was unpowered and I was later to find it was entirely unsalvagable in its current form. Worse still, I knew from the scale of destruction unleashed upon the planet that it would not be long before the might of the Imperial military descended upon this world, and I knew that they would not look kindly upon my part in the affair.

I shall not bore you with the details of my remarkable escape from Corfun 3, nor of my run-ins with Astartes of the Deathwatch. These things are quite inconsequential, and my mind fixes most easily to important matters rather than trivial ones. And then, as now, my mind had only one desire: vengeance. Vengeance which then was little more than a pipe dream, but which as I record this testament, is at last within my grasp.

July 2018
« Apr