Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.


Postby Nineswords » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:29 pm

A short to accompany my DIY White Scars chapter:

– Sulde –

LATE AFTERNOON TURNED into twilight, the sun casting rich, long turquoise shadows on the salted earth. Standing in ranks fifteen deep on two sides, forming a corridor half a mile long, the XXVIII Imperial Parthans waited in respectful silence, regimental silk banners rippling softly in the breeze. Even the incessant chirping and clicking of the local fauna appeared to have vanished, as if guessing the import of the occasion.

Good discipline all round then, thought General Lisbeth Berman, trying to take her mind off how anxious she was. I've led us into the maw of hell and seen things that no citizen of the Imperium should ever see, and I'm actually nervous.

Berman cut an impressive figure, her stocky frame sporting a brocaded ceremonial uniform of indigo chased with black, and a peaked General's cap upon her head, its front catching the last of the dying day. She glanced down once again at the body, trying to commit every detail to memory.

A full third taller than even the largest Parthan, the Space Marine emanated an aura of danger even in death. The warrior's studded and spiked armour was covered in a fluid ritual script, inscribed onto bronze of varying hues, converging on a round shield marked by a stylised lightning bolt and corona picked out in anodised bronze. The plate was polished to a sheen by the Parthans' armorers, who had done their best to repair the battle damage. For all intents and purposes, the Space Marine looked like a statue of antiquity, were it not for a sky blue topknot of hair that jutted out from the helmet of ancient artifice.

A loyal son of Jaghatai, so said the warrior himself once before. His name was Nergüi, and for reasons undisclosed to Berman, he had fought valiantly with the XXVIII Imperial Parthans against the Rethan rebellion. A more than capable warrior, despite his taciturn demeanour. Now he was gone, cut down by sustained las-fire; not exactly the heroic death Berman had imagined all of his kind were destined for. As the ranking officer in the current theatre, Berman had received a communique from the Explorator General, instructing that she prepare Nergüi's body for 'processing'.

Now, at the appointed hour, Berman felt a surge of pride observing the assembled regiment before her. The passing of one of the Emperor's own, conducted in the funeral rites of the Parthans' demanded a degree of pomp and ceremony; including a detailed record of Nergüi's last actions.

Berman squinted as she glimpsed a bulky landing craft resolving in the distance kicking out a salt storm in its wake, heading at full thrust towards her. The regimental corridor parted in waves as it became apparent the lander wasn't going to slow down or stop at the platform Berman had ordered to be constructed as part of the ceremony.

'Fall back! Fall back!' Berman yelled, her voice all but useless as she was drowned out by the pitch of thrusters and the accompanying dust storm, followed by an earth shattering clap as the craft engaged its landing gear, knocking her sideways. Bent double and coughing, the General to her dismay realised the craft had already disgorged its occupants. She didn't know what to expect, but it certainly wasn't this.

Five, awesome, identical facsimiles of the dead warrior Nergüi were striding towards her. Struggling to collect herself, Berman tried to convey a greeting, but was subdued by the raw savagery of the bronze warriors.

The entire Parthan regiment instinctively knelt.

'The XXVIII Imperial Parthans welcomes our honoured lords to mark the passing of the great Ner–' mumbled one of Berman's adjutants.

'SILENCE,' boomed the lead giant, with a voice of rolling thunder. The adjutant squeaked, and an uneasy stillness hung over the assembly. Any semblance of ceremony had been extinguished with a word, and Berman felt she could do nothing apart from simply kneel with the rest of her regiment.

The warriors reached Nergüi, and Berman observed that these new Space Marines were pointing at the dead warrior's polished armour in a manner that she interpreted as barely concealed annoyance. The warrior who spoke had disengaged Nergüi's helm and reverently detached his blue topknot, before casually tossing the helmet onto the salt earth which landed with a heavy thud. Without ceremony, he nodded at one of his companions who promptly plunged a curved knife straight into Nergüi's exposed throat. Berman gasped as bright red fountain of blood spattered across the salt earth, her outrage replaced by a mounting horror of the spectacle before her. She gagged as a small, fleshy organ was extracted from the dead warrior; transferred to a sterile container provided by yet one of the other giants. Apparently satisfied, the first warrior turned to Berman. Trying to avoid the blazing eye lenses before her, Berman instead concentrated on the black topknot above it. She couldn't imagine the face underneath the helmet.

'Brother Nergü–,' Berman half whispered.

'The Sons of the Storm do not speak of our dead, General,' replied the bronze giant. The voice was softer, but still carried the threat of violent authority, distorted by his helmet's vox. 'To do so is to invite disaster. The Emperor has blessed us with his sulde intact, and he will live on through it in glory'.

'I don't understand,' said Berman, her confidence returning.

The warrior held out the sky blue topknot towards her. 'He has walked the Chāyā, his duty to his former bond-brothers is fulfilled,' said the warrior as if by way of explanation.

As one, the Space Marines turned and stalked back to the waiting lander, its hum blossoming into a high pitched whine as thrust engines powered up.

'Wait!' cried Berman over the din. 'What about the rest of him?'

'Do as you wish. The Explorator General will retrieve the armour. Leave his body for the beasts,' the Storm Son called out coldly, his massive bulk vanishing in a turquoise dust storm.

- END -
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Re: Sulde

Postby mstevns » Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:34 am

Hi Jay, and welcome!

Glad to see that you are taking the opportunity to share your stories with us :)

I think the story is a good scene-setter for further material, and I definitely look forward to seeing more of the Storm Sons.


This is Mike, who is *the most* Prussian-looking guy I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
- Aaron Dembski-Bowden
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