In the vein of Stephen King's "Jaunt": The Last Confession of Battle Brother Konig.
Grieve child. Grieve for the world that you shall not see. But be thankful that you do not last longer underneath the wheel of time. Young Initiate, so eager and ready, allow me to tell you a tale of fifty years past.
We served in a punishing crusade against a fiend, an Ork called Mochoppa - he was a mad one. Obsessed with his vile and alien gods, he had set himself to the task of converting his entire world into one gigantic Gargant. Thankfully, the 3rd Company had arrived, and had scoured the smoke belching, iron-plated world clean of the vile greenskins, and set ourselves to securing the core of it, ensuring that their mad plan would not succeed.
It was a task for Guardsmen, or perhaps Salamanders; we of the White Scars have never been fond of sacrificing mobility. However, when the task calls for it, all Astartes serve. All Astartes serve.
Our Captain then was Khulan - a man in Jaghatai's mold. You would have liked him. He was bold, fearless, and ever-confident. If he was in doubt, he moved forward, pressing onwards until he found his enemy's throat in his hands. A good Space Marine. He had volunteered us of the 3rd Company to hold, and would not accept relief from nearby units, insisting that elements of the Waaagh! had not all been accounted for. We of the Third could do our duty.
The Orks did come, true to Khulan's prediction, and those reinforcements were better spent elsewhere - we fought for two years on that Orkish blasphemy. Two years, wading through greenskin blood, crawling through the labyrinth built by mining Meks, racing to prevent their dream of activating their planet Gargant.
Two years. A long time. I was then as I am now, perhaps a bit more zealous a Chaplain, and definitely with more trappings of Chogoris, but still there to tend to the spiritual needs of my battle-brothers.
The second year had just passed, when Konig came to me.
You must understand, that Konig was the most ancient of our number, perhaps second in age only to some of the rare Dreadnoughts we hold. It was Konig who held watch over the ceremony that saw Jubal become our Khan, it was Konig who held aloft the head of Archon Valestrix over the feasting hall of the Slow Poison, it was Konig that carved those ancient words, "Oderint Dum Metuant", that he learned as student to the revered Saint Algonsi, into the beams that reside far above your head when he earned Terminator honors.
And it was Konig that saw us still serving our Captain Khulan. Konig had mentored Khulan, and it was his quiet voice that kept us dutiful and honest. It was funny, now that I think of it - he was the one that mentored Kor'sarro Khan. He was a kingmaker, that one, always managing to pick the Captain of the Third.
We had made a chapel on a blasted plain that was supposed to be the planet Gargant's right eye, a rough construction built of torn and remelted steel. At the back of it was a hole by which we accessed the interior of the accursed Ork weapon - we had identified the greenskins had something important there, so as is our way, we set to befoul the xenos' plans for Khan and the Emperor.
At the moment, I had retired for prayer over the bodies of two more of our fallen. Our Apothecary had fallen three months hence, so it was my duty to recover the Progenoid glands. I was about to set to my grisly work when Konig came into the chapel from underground, fresh from combat with the greenskin hordes.
His gait was shuffling, not entirely normal. The injuries he had sustained in the Emperor-forsaken tunnels must have caught up with him, as he moved slowly and purposefully to me, still dressed in full Terminator armor. An assault cannon hung loosely from one arm, the other sealed in a deactivated power fist.
"My Chaplain," he called to me, his voice booming against the steel-plated walls, "My Chaplain, it is good to see you."
I told him it was good to see him as well, and it was good to see that he had returned victorious - the reeking blood of Orks covered him, and dripped from his person. I returned to my duty, before pausing, and asking him why he had not used his teleporter? Our Stormseer and our Techmarine had gone to great lengths to establish a secure teleporter beacon in the chapel, that those valued members of the first company may have a means to escape in the dark tunnels below.
He told me it took too long.
"It takes too long."
I had never teleported before, and I have never teleported since, but I've been told that teleportation is instant. Admittedly, the range of experiences are from agony to a sense of nonexistence, to no difference at all, but I had never heard then or heard since that it was "too long."
"Does it hurt you, Brother Konig?" "No. It is just too long." "Do you wander out of range of our most holy beacons, and require to traverse the distance back?" "No. I have yet to be out of our most holy beacons' range." "Then, how can it take too long, honored brother?"
Brother Konig shuffled to one of the pews, and sat down in the steel, hands still stiff at his side as the metal squealed, and repeated his mantra.
"It takes too long."
I was curious. I left the corpses of my brothers, and approached Brother Konig. I had fears, then.
"What happens, in the journey?" "I converse, Chaplain."
Perhaps it was the Emperor's fortune that guided Captain Khulan to the chapel then, perhaps Khulan had his own suspicions.
"Who do you converse with, Brother Konig?" "I do not know, Chaplain."
Brother Konig hesitated then - Captain Khulan had made no attempt at stealth in arriving, and the ringing of his footsteps was audible to all, but something drove Konig on anyways.
"I know who the High Lords of Terra are. I am told about each in turn. The representative of the Administratum's harvest of the pilgrims, the Navis Nobilite's priest protected decadence, the Assassin Master and the Inquisitorial Representative's murders by proxy."
Konig kept an even timbre throughout all this, calm, as if reciting lines from a long-gone song. If he had any emotion, the speakers in his suit did not betray any.
"I've seen the first titan, at rest deep in the heart of Mars, a secret so well-kept, it's forgotten. It heals. Its heart beats with a noise mistaken for tectonic movements. I've heard the songs of Cadian men, marching off of hive spires, a hypnotic suggestion activated as they learn too much. I've read the last words of two men, forgotten under the snow of Lorn V, scratched into the ice and steeped in their blood, words that might reveal a road to the Imperium's purity, at the cost of its existence, my Chaplain. I-" "Who do you converse with?" asked Captain Khulan asked, taking off his helmet.
"The Emperor. My assault cannon. My power fist. My armor," Konig shrugs, "I talk to what is there."
"Why?" I asked.
He is silent for a time, before the faceless helmet tipped forward, my battle-brother breathing, "It takes too long."
It is duty to our Emperor that drives us. You can not fault Brother Konig for lack of zeal. It is only, that in his faith, his willingness to serve, that he fell.
I know not what corruption had claimed him - it may have been due to the lack of safeties upon our teleporters. It may have been that this was some Ork befoulment, cooked up by one of their Mad Doks. It might have been this was a long time coming.
He had never asked for ammunition, confessed Captain Khulan after the fact. He should have known something was wrong then.
I took up my Crozius, and asked Konig for confession.
"In my sin, I have not died in battle, and I have lived too long."
A strange statement. I lifted aloft the emblem of storms, and set it to crackle with power, waiting for some reaction for Konig. He only stayed still. With disgust in my heart, I brought my weapon low upon his head.
His armor broke and split like rotten fruit, and for a moment I was aware of a faint spray, as if there was red sand within, before following out of the gouge there came a rush of red flesh, blood, and liquefied bone, with strange organs bobbing in the midst of it. We called the Stormseer, as I chanted exorcisms and rites of cleansing surrounding the pew. His armored frame was still there, just with a gaping hole torn in it, the last remains of Brother Konig dribbling out of the empty vessel.
We found his teleporter beacon, whole, within the red mess. We melted it into slag. We banned any further use of the teleporter, and Captain Khulan called for an evacuation to the surface, while he sent for relief.
A force of Cadians, the 412th, I believe came to secure the planet. They held it for six months, before rotating with the Vostroyan 14th, who held it a further two months, before an Imperial fleet arrived to destroy the accursed object.
The entire time, the last shell of Konig lay there.
Now, see the wisdom of Jaghatai Khan's Tactica, children. We are great. We are mighty. We are sons of the Emperor. But one must be mindful of his limits. You do not wish to die, only because you have not seen what is worse than death.
Our Stormseer performed an augury, over the remains of Konig. He determined that Konig was and two thousand, six hundred and seventy three years old.
Trust in your steed, trust in your brothers. But do not tempt fate.