Parchments and Bolters
Parchments and Bolters is a relatively recent piece of /tg/ writefaggotry about adept #5552, a perpetual who soon finds herself getting unwanted attention from The Emperor, declaring her as the assistant for Magnus the Red.
Beginning on June 29, 2020, it is still in its early stages. Please be patient for more content. It has been finished, read on in all of its glory! (Though there is an ending, OP has been writing some more, though there is some doubt on whether he will finish it. In the event that he doesn't, "All Hail the God-Empress of Mankind!" will be regarded as the true ending)
First thread can be found here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/73461308/
And the second one here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/73558282/
And the third one here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/73641606/
And the fourth one here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/73793884/
And the fifth one here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/73962519/
This is currently in the process of being redone. On April 16th, 2021, Parchment Anon has made his triumphant return, declaring a rewrite of this story with the original ending that he intended for it. The original threads from a year ago will remain for now, but the story below is the redone version, which is currently in progress. Enjoy!
First Thread can be found here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/78702562/
And the second one here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/78828951/
Hey /tg/ so I'm the guy who made Parchment and Bolter. I wanted to end/start the story how I originally planned to be. I hope you guys can enjoy this journey once again. This is a redo of a redo with completely new written stuff. I want to end it the way should have been.
She had seen empires rise and fall. She watched it many times. In the deepest pit of her memories, where the fragments idly floated, she remembered the burning cities of old. The names no longer rested on her tongue, but she still remembered.
The floor above was filled with muffled sounds of various activities. Be it Space Marines, Imperial Guards, Governors, there was always something going on above. Below the Imperial Palace the adepts of the Administratum roamed about like moles, scurrying through the intricate tunnels. They were insignificant, but as a whole served the Emperor. As long as she could be insignificant that’s all she wanted.
Adept #5552 carried a box of supplies to be delivered to an officer in the docks. If she had a laspistol on her head and was forced to tell the truth, she hated the floor levels of the palace. It was not only the brightness of the gaudy gold. No, that was just the beginning. The offices were too damn far apart, not to mention it was a cursed labyrinth where she couldn’t find a simple route to anywhere. Would it kill for them to have a sign? 5552 thought. The uniform itself was another issue to complain about.
“Stupid uniform…” 5552 muttered.
As if a divine retribution, her foot snagged on the loose cloth. 5552 didn’t remember the tumble she took to save for how bouncy she got. When she opened her eyes, she watched tepidly as her unnaturally bent limbs healed itself by time itself. 5552 quickly looked around the area, making sure that no one saw what had happened. She would have released a sigh of relief, if not for the fact that she saw someone on top of the stairs. A golden giant with a crimson plume, a custodes.
5552 grabbed whatever supply that survived the fall then fled the area, she hastily gathered the snarring cloth then ran for her life. When 5552 finally arrived at the docks, she didn’t question her successful escape. Only thing she knew now was to escape the palace, to start again with a new identity. She covered her nose as she entered the office filled with pungent smoke of some fancy pipe. Some things never changed.
“My lord.” 5552 bowed briefly. “This is the supply that you requested for.” 5552 said.
“Carry that box to the Departmento Munitorum.” The officer ordered, he didn’t even bother checking.
“I thought you wanted it delivered here.”
The fat man lazily nodded, the rolls of lard folded as he nodded. “And now I don’t need it. Send it up to the Munitorum.”
“Which one m’lord? The main office or-”
“How should I know? You’re the adept. Now git!”
5552 exited the office with another supply to deliver. Meaning she had to stay longer in this bright golden mess. Her mind ran with all manners of panic beneath her indifferent demeanour. She was discovered, and in a time like this she thought she would be able to live peacefully. She was but a speck of insignificant dust, and that’s just how she preferred it.
5552 set the box of supplies then went to the opposite direction of the Departmento Munitorum. She needed to first get to her room to retrieve her escape items. There was a slight quake, boasting and dreadfully ominous at the same time. She shivered, remembering the days when the Men of Iron reigned their cruel hatred. It was not a space marine, but a custodes. Those walking slabs of gold.
“G-Good day to you, honored lord… is there something this mere servant can do?”
There was a long drawn silence between 5552 and the custodes. She could run for it, make a desperate attempt. But she knew it would make her more suspicious.
“Anomaly, you are to come with me.”
“R-Right, I will follow.”
The room she was led inside was a quiet one, a lot more homey and less gold. There were odd trinkets laying about chaotically but controlled. Stone walls surrounded the room.
Any room with less gold was above in her standards. Even the cramped “quarters” she was given were far better than the floor level of the palace. A cloaked old man entered the room. He was unlike the tall astartes that she was familiar with. Yet, he carried an aura like none other. His wrinkled face creased like old leather as he squinted his eyes at 5552, he rubbed his chin as he inspected her. He reached out his hand to touch her cheeks, turning her head one side to another with a low “hm” as he inspected further. 5552 didn’t bother resisting, she just knew doing so meant a worse fate than currently she was in.
“As humanity crawled out of its cradle you have walked alongside it in the shadows.” The old man said. “You have seen much have you not?”
“I have, my lord. That is why I prefer to remain in the shadows.” 5552 answered.
The old man nodded, eyes scowling with an indifferent attitude. “You prefer to cower in the dark for self-preservation.”
5552’s brow twitched irritably. “I live out my life like any other.” 5552 said.
“No matter what words you layer it, the truth is the same.” The old man said bitterly.
“Was I dragged here just to be mocked?” 5552 questioned, her soft eyes hardened. “I did what I always did, survive. I’d rather live in eternal stagnation than to assist humanity.”
“A life of perpetual mediocrity. Do you not see humanity as nothing but a destructive force?”
“I see them as such because they’re all that is.”
“Must you be so ignorantly blind?” The old man said.
“I’m not the blind one here.”
“Then you are a fool, I suppose I expected no less of a child who happened to live long. Stay here, I must inform the Emperor.”
Meeting the Emperor
“Wait, the emperor? You can't be seri-”
The door slammed behind, a few seconds later custodes guards entered the room and ensured she would not try to escape. Her blood ran cold. She just knew she would either be used for experiments or locked up forever. She wanted neither of them.
Eventually, she was escorted again by the custodes guards. It was neither a torture chamber or dungeon, but the throne room itself. She squinted her eyes to be able to see around. How people went about without some kind of visor she did not know.
Then, there he was. The Emperor of Mankind. The Emperor of Mankind entered along with another man that stood by him. A rush of elation ran through her, any negative emotion gone. Sadly, it only lasted for a few minutes. 5552 squinted at the lights that shone out of the Emperor and didn’t bother to question how on Earth that would even work. The Emperor’s voice boomed like an echo of a bell, yet his mouth did not move. His voice echoed inside her head.
“I have not expected to see another.” The Emperor said, voice soothing yet authoritative. “Welcome.”
5552 with her knee on the floor. “I give you the most sincere greetings, my Emperor. It is an honor to be in your presence.”
5552 did as she was told, almost stumbling thanks to the new weight of the dress. Her eyes briefly met with the man next to the Emperor, a charismatic man with a wolf pelt hung over his power armor, he simply nodded slightly then returned his attention to the Emperor.
“Malcador has informed me that you prefer to be inconspicuous rather than lead.”
“I do. That is where I belong.”
“I have witnessed what you have as well. Do you not see the potential of humanity?”
“I do not. Do you not remember when the Men of Iron attacked and the disgusting barbarism that followed after?”
“He dares question father?” A voice said from the above
5552 looked up, seeing more uniquely armored giants.
There was a brief but volatile argument. One that was filled with threats laid against 5552. She quickly averted eyes toward the top, then back to the Emperor. The arguments ceased immediately as the Emperor raised his hand with a slight glance toward the top as well.
It was an amazing thing to see, like watching highly trained soldiers following orders to the very letter of the instruction. Except they were what could be described as demi-gods The Emperor’s attention returned to 5552.
“I understand your pain. I am here now and I will lead humanity to its rightful place. An individual that has seen humanity as long as I have is knowledge that humanity needs.” The Emperor declared as if 5552 had already joined.
“My knowledge are but lost, I have nothing that will benefit the Imperium.”
“That is not what I see.” The Emperor said. “Do you not see what this Imperium can achieve?”
“All empires rise and fall, my Emperor.” 5552 answered. “You have witnessed it too, did you not?”
“I am here to take humanity at its helm to a new era. A new chapter of humanity will be written.” The Emperor declared once more. “Join me.”
“Every conqueror has thought that my Emperor.” 5552 reminded. “While spilling blood across the fields like you are. You are a conqueror like many before you. I cannot join you.”
5552 heard another argument but much more quiet, hushed in sharp whispers. At this point she couldn’t care much. It wasn’t her first time if she was to be imprisoned, she actually liked it since it made her feel one with the prison cell. Time was but an eternal shackle for her.
“I may be, but if I am to unify humanity in a new light, I will need individuals such as yourself.” The Emperor replied. “I cannot force you, but I implore you to do so.”
“May I request something, my emperor?”
“I cannot promise it, but speak.”
“When I wish to leave, will you allow me to leave peacefully?”
The Emperor of Mankind simply nodded at the request. The entire room was stunned in silence, save for Malcador who knew how this entire exchange would occur.
“Adept 5552. You are an immortal. Walked with humanity as much as I have. I have finally found another that has witnessed as much as I have. For that I am elated.”
“The honor is all mine, my Emperor. To hear your words is an immense honor I will ever achieve in my life.” 5552 answered mechanically.
“Your long life left you with nothing but hopelessness, despair, regret, wrath and sorrow. However, I also see jubilation, hope, passion, and love.” The Emperor said warmly. “You will guide my son, Magnus."
Such was the declaration of the Emperor. Neither Magnus nor 5552 was pleased about the plan. A week had passed after her assignment, and for once it was not as bad as she thought. She was a mere serf to the Thousand Sons. 5552 carried the stack of dusty tomes in her arms. 5552 was a tiny rat among the lions, desperate to not touch any one of them. Through luck 5552 ended up in Magnus’ study, she set the tome down and gave herself a time to rest.
“Ah, you return my book carrier.” Magnus said.
Magnus was in his usual ‘throne’, holding up on several books with his psyker ability. 5552 sighed as she held on to her anger. She told herself that she just had to outlive the imperium to have her life of annoying servitude end. Nothing lived on forever after all. Magnus’ quarters was a library, tomes, books, scrolls, all were tightly packed into a labyrinth made by bookshelves. There was always a sharp electrifying sensation whenever she would enter the room. A gigantic chandelier lit the room, as did the emerald flames on the floating torches,
“I’m honored, m’lord.” 5552 said. “Truly.”
The relationship was less insulting than she imagined. Perhaps it was she was made his ‘personal attendant’ that Magnus spoke so freely with 5552, or Fives, as Magnus preferred to refer to her. Or maybe she was a mere punching bag.
“Tell me, my glorified book carrier, what do you think of sorcery?”
5552 quirked an eyebrow, but shrugged indifferently. “They’re but unnatural powers, that’s all I can say as I do not know much.” She answered.
“You’ve seen what powers in a fool’s hand can do. Surely you must have as you lived long as father.”
She nodded. “I have seen what evils they can do and what good they can do.” 5552 said. “I only fear the wielder of the sorcery, not the power itself.”
“If only more masses were not so ignorant.”
“Ignorances are from those who are not taught, I merely have the luxury of time know.” 5552 said. “To call them ignorant makes you the ignorant one.”
5552 slumped her back on her seat, though she waited for an outburst or her limbs being split apart. Instead of rage, Magnus pondered for a moment then nodded.
“Perhaps, but their way of thinking is surely ignorant compared to our Imperial Truth.”
5552 bit her tongue to not speak out again. Religion was banned in the Imperium after all.
“You are right, m’lord.”
“I suppose father wanted me to have someone to speak to who wouldn’t simply agree with me. But it seems like you already do, as you should be. Your purpose was to tame my arrogance should it overtake me, was it not?”
“Should that be necessary, yes. I do know why I am chosen, but I do not dare to fathom or question his orders.”
“And that is all you are told to do?” Magnus questioned suspiciously.
5552 stared back into the Primarch, unafraid and unwavering, with her heart steady as it could be.
“Yes, m’lord. I am but a servant, nothing else, only to serve you and the Imperium as the mere insignificant being and coward I am.”
“It’s comforting that you know your place. Even millennia of life doesn’t mean wisdom, much like that arrogant Malcador.” Magnus said.
Once again, 5552 held her words.
There was a barely noticeable huff in his stiff posture, bordering on being impressed or something similar to it. Magnus lifted the tomes set and added into his collection of reading materials. The room was filled with a low hum of his telekinesis field. When no other work was needed 5552 simply sat on her seat, counting the tomes as much as her eyes could see. There was one thing that did attract 5552’s attention however. She knew bloody well of what that conduit was, the very energy made her sick to her stomach, worsened by knowing what her responsibility was.
“May your servant ask a question?”
“Hm.” Magnus grunted.
“What is that conduit?”
“Nothing that your unopened mind should worry about.” Magnus said.
“I see…” 5552 said.
There was a knock to his chambers. As a good attendant should she opened the door ajar. From the appearance and the insignia, it was the First Captain and the Chief Librarian, it was Ahriman. Even with his face covered there was an air of tension.
“I must speak with my father.” Ahriman said.
“Allow me to speak to my lord, master astartes.”
5552 then closed the door. Magnus didn’t even look like he noticed what had happened, already too engrossed in his books.
“M’lord, First Captain Ahriman requests your audience.”
“Then let him in.”
Ahriman entered through the door that was held open by 5552 and with the help of a small hook that kept the door open. The two spoke, and further the conversation went Magnus nodded then smirked.
“Book carrier.” Magnus said.
“We are to depart, come.”
5552 flinched. “What use will I have? I’m but a mere serf.”
“To carry my books of course.”
A mouse among giants, that’s how 5552 saw herself as. She followed Magnus as he made the preparations, and on his way to the Thousand Son’s vessel, she watched Magnus and his brother, Lorgar. They discussed the uses of their psykers and the help Magnus gave, 5552 simply stayed silent until their discussion was over. It was still difficult to believe she was to leave on the Great Crusade. What was she going to do? Out live the entire planet and its systems?
“I must thank you, Magnus. My librarians have become more skilful since they took Ahriman’s advice.”
“I’m glad it did, brother.”
The Primarch was tall, true. But compared to the rest of the Primarch he seemed shorter and weaker. Not that he wasn’t weak by her standards. 5552 focused her gaze on Lorgar’s eyes instead of the silly tattoo on his face. Then again, she did hear from Magnus that the Word Bearers were rather… eccentric people.
“You're the immortal who father has taken notice of. Greetings.” Lorgar stated.
5552 did not speak, as she waited for the permission to do so, she merely bowed back.
“Is she actually useful?” Lorgar said.
“I learned much of the past, but that’s all I could learn from her. She does make for a good book holder.” Magnus said nonchalantly.
5552 held the urge to throw the book at Magnus, among many reasons the heavy backpack loaded with books wouldn’t even let her be flexible enough to reach the back. She could use her laspistol, but that just meant being imprisoned forever, or at least dying painfully. She, for one, was not fond of painful deaths.
“I see…” Lorgar said.
“Where will you be going?”
“To the Ark Reach clusters.” Lorgar said. “It is given a second name known as ‘shrike’. Is the gift coming with you?
“In case the language has a root of ancient languages, she is to translate.”
“She’s bequeathed by father, you should treat her with respect.” Lorgar said sternly.
“She is with me so she will be safe, and she’s immortal, there is not much to discuss further than that.”
“Then I see no reason to protest.” Lorgar said. “May the Emperor’s light shine upon you, brother.”
“Swift tidings to you, brother.”
A low mechanical hum filled the vast spaces of the Thousand Sons’ vessel. The metal guts of the vessel were everywhere, always carrying a strange aura of the psykers. In 5552’s hands were another stack of books. On a nearby platform she placed the book for a momentary rest. She watched the space marines walk past her without a second thought, already discussing something else that was far more important than her.
“Greetings, serf.” Ahriman said. “Are these books for my father?”
“Yes, master astartes.” 5552 said.
5552 picked up the stack of books then walked alongside the halls. She began to miss the imperial palace, at least in that place it was made in the mind for both humans and enhanced humans. In the astartes exclusive vessel, a normal human was a foreign concept to them. Ahriman and 5552 walked alongside Magnus’s quarters.
“It seems that you are lacking the strength to carry the books.”
“Astute observation, master astartes. I am in awe.” 5552 said flatly.
“Yet your tongue is filed sharp at least.” Ahriman said musedly. “I’m surprised you’re not afraid of us. Have there not been more fiercer and deadlier warriors than my brothers and I?”
“All warriors are the same, but your brothers are scholars as well. Scholars are expected to be rational so I do not fear them. And I have seen plenty of sorcery in my time. ”
Ahriman paused, 5552 continued to walk without much care. Even a few steps ahead did not give enough time to be caught up in no time. The metal gauntlet grasped at 5552’s shoulder gently.
“You should not speak that word so easily.” Ahriman said sternly.
“Forgive me, master astartes. It is a mere slip of this old woman’s tongue.” 5552 said nonchalantly. “I believed the children of the Thousand Sons would understand knowledge is just knowledge.”
“So it is.”
There was a small grunt of pride in Ahriman. He took the book off her hand and continued to walk alongside 5552. In which she took ever so naturally without a protest.
“I sense there’s another layer beneath the expected respect.” Ahriman said. “Perpetual or not, soldiers and ignorant savages still fear us.”
“They only fear what they don’t know… and dying” 5552 said.
“I suppose being immortal has its benefits.” Ahriman said.
“Perhaps, but not enough to make this life worth living.” 5552 said.
They soon ended up in the door to Magnus’ chamber.
As always Ahriman and Magnus spoke of the effort in their conquest, though that was mostly for a few minutes until they discussed the lost knowledge and artifact found. Most of the time there was little discussion of the actual battles, not that it was ncessary. Not like there was much to talk about, when his sons could use sorcery to win most of the fights ‘tactics’ had little use.
There was a subtle frown on Magnus’ lips, just enough to show his distaste but not enough to make him look foolish. Though 5552 thought his horn-bosoms were already silly enough. As a servant, it wasn't her job to give critiques. She just wanted the Great Crusade to be done and over with.
“As always, the world is rooted in fear and doubt…” Magnus said sadly. “Book carrier.”
“Just how potent is your immortality?”
“Potent enough to be immortal.” 5552 said flatly.
“It would not be wise to hide it now.” Magnus said. “You will be participating in the first assault on this system.”
5552 could practically hear the long sigh gearing up. To wear that ridiculous armor again… many will not believe but only the flesh survives. Clothes and armor are just as moral as any other material in a war. Even so, 5552 did not make any noticeable reactions. Being immortal did not mean being immune to pain.
“If this servant may ask, is there a reason why I will be participating?” 5552 said.
Magnus nodded, smirked. “The initial scouts found that this planet is overflowing with libraries and has the chance to be built with traps.” Magnus said. “I assume I do not have to speak more to convey your position,
“You do not m’lord. Though I must say one thing, if I am permitted.” 5552 said.
“And that is?”
“Do not let your penchant for collecting knowledge overshadow The Emperor’s original intent in the Great Crusade.” 5552 said calmly yet with a firm stance.
“Knowledge and understanding is just as if not more important than conquest.” Magnus said. “For a mere book carrier you are not afraid to be vocal.”
“My official title is your assistant, I did not step out of any line. The Emperor has given me authority and powers that I’m aware you know.” 5552 said. “I am also well aware of the conduit.”
“Conduit?” Ahriman said confusedly.
The aura of the room darkened to an ominous dread. 5552 still remained in her composure, it wasn’t as if she could be killed. Not to mention, she had the protection necessary to speak as such.
“That matter is well under control. It is best to hold your tongue, lest you wish a painful day.” Magnus said.
“I did not say otherwise.” 5552 said. “All I will warn is that many have fallen in their pursuit of knowledge, oft’ ignorant by their blinding hubris..”
“You take me like the fools from your past?” Magnus said lowly.
“I do not dare think of you as a fool, m’lord.” 5552 said, unafraid. “I only say from the experiences from my life. I will now leave to prepare.”
“I did not give you permission to leave.” Magnus said.
“Then may this low servant of humble origins ask for permission?” 5552 said tiredly.
5552 bowed then turned her back and headed for the armory. She just knew it was going to be a turbulent event. . 5552 sighed, she didn’t sign up to take care of children… not that she had much of an option. Not one would dare deny The Emperor’s request. She felt more like a spy than an ‘assistant’
It was all so tiresome. In the backline of astartes the war echoed on. There were less bolter fire and more sorcery. Pillars of flame incinerated the vanguards, and the lightning instilled fear of The Emperor. The distant canons cracked like a mighty earthquake, in the midst of it all 5552 watched the ongoing savagery with little to no interest. Their sorcery was commendable however. The dark red sky loomed over the raging battlefield.
The carapace armor was heavy on her shoulder, making sure that she felt each chaff on the corners of her bodies, and the armor was not kind to her knees. The sling of her lasgun also dug into her armpits. Not to mention the debris and dust reminded her of the wars she was in… except this time she was actually participating in a war. 5552 waited in her personally dug war hole, when from above, one of the space marines approached.
“Serf. You are to follow me.”
5552 winced, then suddenly she was grabbed by her waist. She would have protested, if not for the fact that this was the best way to traverse the battlefield. She held her guts as the ride was more turbulent than she expected. Her vision shook, but she managed to watch the swarming sorceries dominating the battlefield.
“We have arrived.”
5552 reoriented her balance, then took notice of the temple before her. The old stones of the temple still stood, despite the abuse it has withstood against the rampant sorceries. While the battle was not over, if she was brought here the battle was soon near its end. Several space marines were behind her, whether they were here to protect her or watch her was none of her concern.
“The conquest isn’t over yet.” 5552 said.
“Our Primarch stated that it would soon, and it would be better to start earlier.” The space marine said. “The route to the underground cavern has been marked. Now, go.”
5552 turned on her tracker and gathered her exploring supplies, she entered the temple.
As expected, dust might as well have been air inside the temple. Be it from the recent attacks or it was long forgotten, dust managed to be infesting inside the temple. Her footsteps were heavy, as were the muffled sound of the distant battlefields. 5552 opened one of the books, only to put it back not knowing the root of the language. However, something did catch her attention.
On the stone walls were carved by strange symbols. Some were incorporated with the planet’s biological life. Some from what should be from the planet’s ruling hierarchy. Her eyes widened. Among the etched symbols was one of chaos, she swallowed hard. As much as she wanted to run she knew she had to explore further. 5552 unslung her lasgun.
5552 followed the route to the underground cavern, and as she delved deeper there was a chill in the air. The damp scent of moss and other nocturnal fauna filled the air, and she tripped more times she could count against the rocky floor of the cavern. 5552 looked up, and the light emitting from her helmet was swallowed by the darkness.
“Why not, send an immortal so they don't have to when it’s clearly their job…” 5552 muttered. “No, just arm a woman with a lasgun and send them in like cannon fodder. What’s this?”
Something sinister slithered beneath here, something she felt when sorcery was a common evil amongst evil. When she neared to the tightly packed bookshelves a wave of rancid miasma intensified. 5552’s nose scrunched as she delved deeper. Despite not knowing the language she didn’t have to know what this was.
“Come closer… It has been a long time, child.”
A voice whispered, so slimy and crawling that she’d rather die right now.It was a familiar voice back when sorcery was common. 5552 simply turned back and walked away. She suddenly stopped, then checked into her backpack for her flare gun. “Well, at least I won’t die.”
Along with her official tasks, she was also to report to The Emperor should Magnus betray his order to not meddle with the immaterium, which he already did. 5552 shot up several flare guns to start the fire. Until the fire would engulf the entire damned library she didn’t leave. She knew damn well that Magnus would hoard the unholy documents. His intentions may be noble, but there were things that shouldn’t be remembered.
“Do you think that will stop us?”
5552 held back her voice, she knew better than to indulge in such primordial evil. She would rather face Magnus’ wrath than the forces of the unholy… But she knew The Emperor had a plan as well and she had a part in it. If she didn’t, The Emperor wouldn’t have made an effort to hide her true presence.
From the entrance of a temple a pillar of smoke spewed out continuously. 5552 dusted herself off as she exited the temple.
5552 avoided the gaze of her lord and her object under her watch. Magnus was not overtly angry, but furious. 5552 certain why he would be, since he has been delving into the occult despite his father’s order not to. Casting that thought aside 5552 took a good helping of stepping back. Even so, the heat of anger singed on her skin.
“I panicked and shot my flare gun.”
“You shot.” Magnus calmed himself before speaking. “You shot your flare gun where flammable materials were? Not with your lasgun but with your flare gun.”
“I panicked.” 5552 said.
“You, an immortal that has been living since the dawn of humanity. You panicked because of some strange creature and shot it with a flare gun.” Magnus repeated the situation. “And because of you this planet’s portion of knowledge will never be recovered.”
“That’s correct, m’lord.” 5552 said. “An astute observation.”
“Return to the vessel, serf.” Magnus said, holding back a sigh. “We will speak of this later.”
“As you wish, m’lord.”
5552 bowed, then began her walk back to the vessel as quickly as she could, accompanied by other space marines. On her way back she stared at the burning temple one last time, never regretting what she did. This world wasn’t ready to know the vile forces that existed in the immaterium.
Magnus had his arms crossed, his only working eye fixed on 5552. The mechanical hum of the vessel was nothing compared to his aura producing a dangerous red light surrounding him. Even so, 5552 remained calm in her seat. Compared to Magnus’ giant height, 5552 merely looked like a small pebble, she might as well be as well.
“You are hiding something.” Magnus said.
“I hide nothing m’lord.” 5552 said.
Magnus' eye sharpened its glare, bordering on making its own sorcery by the sheer anger he’s been trying to hold on to.
“There is no possible way that you were panicked enough that you used your flare gun.” Magnus said. “You did not stand in fear of neither father nor I. You even conversed with Ahriman.”
“It’s called fear, m’lord. I simply do not like creatures with such… strange shapes. Though I do not remember it now.” 5552 said. “I understand the Primarchs have no fear. I may be immortal, but fear still exists.”
“Father has no fear.”
“Yes, but I am no giant who wields no flaming swords or commands an army of mighty warriors. Despite my age I am still in the body of a frail woman.”
“Are you frail?” Magnus said.
“M’lord, I am no astartes. Surely you know it by now.” 5552 said. “What more must I do to prove my sincerity?”
“You are sent by my father. I trust you that all your actions are sincere.” Magnus said. “Go, I will call upon you when I need you.”
5552 bowed and left for her room. She soaked in the sweet silence, the planet was almost under compliance save for a few clusters. That, however, was not her concern to take notice. Inside the cramped quarters, 5552 laid on her bed tiredly. A voice echoed inside her head, none other than The Emperor himself. She saw a bright light that only she could see, and the light spoke. She sat up, not bothering to kneel, fatigue demanded her to rest. His rich baritone voice echoed like the beautiful bell tolls of victory.
“So you have seen the taint of the immaterium here as well.” The Emperor said.
“I have, my Emperor.” 5552 said.
“And Magnus is continuing his research into the occult?”
“Yes, my Emperor.” 5552 said, she paused briefly in her hesitation. “I believe his pursuit of preservation and knowledge will distract him from the true purpose of the Great Crusade.”
“I am aware.” The Emperor said.
“Then why do you not stop him? He is far too young to delve into the immaterium.”
“I believe in him to stop.”
“He is too arrogant.” 5552 said. “Because of his ever rising power he believes he can resist the influence. I fear his predilection for the lost and the esoteric knowledge will harm him. ”
“We shall see in the future, should there be further issues, notify me. Until then.”
“I am in your service.”
The light disappeared, and the night began.
While a regular denizen would be in shock and awe being inside a vessel for space marines, this place has become a source of annoyance for her. Other than the tech priests who required no sustenance, there was not much in the controlled portion in the said food. The MRE was big as her head as well and weighed just as heavy as a head would. Though that meant she was able to keep some portion of the food to enjoy later.
With a biscuit in her mouth, 5552 wandered the vessel halls. In the air she sensed the old chaos arrogantly wafting. It was small, barely a taint but she knew that taint all too well. One does not simply live out millenniums and not know what they are. On that, she and the Emperor of Mankind had an understanding: Humanity wasn’t ready. Not even Magnus.
The problem with prodigies was that they were too arrogant. 5552 walked to Magnus’ quarters, tracking down the faint miasma of chaos. She heard the voices, skittering and scratching like the disgusting vermin they are. There was nothing more than she wanted to do than destroy whatever he was working on. However, this was not in her place. She opened the door slightly ajar. She took notice of the materials floating in the air.
‘For the love of all that is life!’ 5552 thought. ‘That child has no business delving into this!’
His quarters, as expected, were cluttered with books in his own way of organization. She wanted to enter his quarters, kick the door down and rush in to stop his hubris. However, it was not time for such action. Magnus’ distrust of his father will be seeded in if he ever discovered her true intentions.
The link was made, and the Emperor was notified again. It may have been a simple telepathic message but a brief quake vibrated her head, no doubt being the Emperor’s anger. His voice boomed.
‘My Emperor, I fear for the future of all psykers if we let this continue. May I have your permission?’ 5552 asked.
‘No. You will persuade him without revealing yourself. He will know the folly of his arrogance soon.’
5552 groaned in her thought. ‘As you wish, my Emperor.’
The next morning followed with Magnus and his sons awaiting the rest of the report. The assumed conquest was not going well. In the dusty fields, 5552 walked alongside Magnus to another temple. By now she’d hope that Magnus would realize someone like her would not be the wise choice in excavation. As always, 5552 waited behind the frontlines as the final assault was reaching its end behind Magnus.
“Impressive, is it not?” Magnus said.
“It m’lord. I am in awe.” 5552 said with dripping sarcasm. “For what purpose can this servant have in this raging battle?”
“I suppose it is not obvious to you.” Magnus said condescendingly. “You are to explore the temple again.”
5552 raised an eyebrow of confusion.
“May your lowly and humble servant ask why I am being sent again despite the last result?” 5552 said.
Magnus carelessly tossed a simple necklace weaved with a red thread. When 5552 wore the necklace an odd sensation surrounded her. It was certainly Magnus’ presence, the sensation invaded her sight, smell, and rest of her senses.
“This time, I will see what you see, you will be an extension of myself.” Magnus said. “Know that I could have well taken control of you. Do not disappoint me again.”
“You are merciful m’lord.” 5552 said, withholding her sarcasm.
Once the final assault ended, 5552 delved into another temple. The entrance and the interior were much darker, as did the forbidding ominous air.
Her body shivered once she traveled further into the temple. She just knew this temple would be different.
With a fragment of Magnus' presence, 5552 walked in the damp halls. The light glow of the necklace illuminated wider than she anticipated. However, that barely eased her apprehension on what was about to come. If this was going to be the main temple she feared what manner of chaos lay within. 5552 made her walk hastefully, not bothering to look at any signs or symbols etched in the murals. From the necklace Magnus’ voice transferred to her mind.
“Stop. look into the symbols” Magnus ordered
“M’lord, they are mere etchings.” 5552 said exasperatingly. “I already feel ill by simply being here, may I continue.”
“I will not repeat myself, serf.”
5552 sighed. “As you command.”
5552 ceased her movement, and followed Magnus’ orders. She heard a few mutterings of the observation. The etching’s theme were mostly man-birds, no doubt the people of this planet were followers of that abominable thing. After a few minutes passed she knew this had gone on for too long. 5552 turned around and kept walking.
“I did not say you can move”
“If I do not, I will truly find myself ill!” 5552 said. “Will you not allow me mercy?”
There was a pregnant pause, one of hesitance but never pity. One of the curse of an immortal was that everyone forgets that immortals in fact, do feel pain.
“Go on then.” Magnus said.
Once again, 5552 found a labyrinth within the cavern. Per order, she delved in further between the bookshelves. The material was close to wood, yet hard as steel. 5552 sucked her stomach in then tried to pass between two bookshelves for an open space. The rancid stench of the musty book assaulted her nostrils, enough that she just noticed she stepped on something.
Something was pressed on the floor. Before the knew it the bookshelves began to move closer. The hesitant side shuffle became a full on sprint with an awkward shuffle. In midst of her desperate race for another death, she heard the sneer in the Primarch’s voice.
“Tell me, how do immortals recover from crushed injuries from a state of mangled flesh pile?”
5552’s heart raced and her lungs were working overtime. She, for one, was not fond of a painful death. 5552 leapt once she was close to the open space. Her face slammed on the jagged stone floor, her delicate skin tore like paper as the momentum and her pack contributed to a heavier fall.
“I’m waiting for my answer, excavator.”
“I nearly died!” 5552 shouted.
There was an honest laugh from Magnus.
“An immortal afraid of death, that is the first I have ever seen. I will inquire about my curiosities later.” Magnus said. “If I had to send my sons, those bookshelves might be damaged during its removal. Can you not see why you are a great fit?”
The mocking joke did not go unnoticed.
“You are merciful m’lord.” 5552 clenched her teeth. “Truly. A paragon of all virtues.”
5552 had made her way through further into the labyrinth with the help of Magnus’ direction. Several books and tomes whispered the promise of power and greed. 5552 ignored the voices, until she was ordered to take some selection of times.
“M’lord, I beg of you to reconsider.” 5552 said.
“You are letting your ignorance blind you, it is mere tomes of old. Nothing to be worried of.” Magnus said.
“Is it wise to bring in unidentified tomes, it might have contaminating materials.” 5552 said.
“I will ensure it does not. Take the tomes.”
The cover of the tomes were creepily furry colored in the ugliest brown and blue, not to mention they were smooth in the most wrong way imaginable. In some, she felt the pulse on her fingertips on the spine of the tomes. Nevertheless, she swallowed her disgust and placed the book into the pack. She shivered all the while. The miasma crawled inside her ear then wrapped her neck, it gripped her sanity as a hostage. The voices of chaos spoke.
“Yes… take us. Let our knowledge flow.”
5552 bit her lips as she ignored the moist and gooey voices. A tiny amount of blood trickled from her lips to her chin. Not out of resistance, but out of pure hatred. And to think Magnus was willingly researching them… she wanted to smack the arrogant childs’ head and drag her to the Emperor’s throne room just to admonish him in front of his brothers.
“And that book.” Magnus said. “You are to travel that way. I can sense something strong.”
Her trial of handling the tomes was over. Relief rushed in through her veins. After escaping countless near death traps, she finally entered through a small and narrow passage of a cavern. Her armor was now scratched and beyond repair. 5552 tightened her the strap of her helmet.
Unlike the cavern interior, stone walls and statues adorned the long hallway. She saw the birdmen statues again, some two headed, some hooded, and others made of serpents. The clicks of her combat boots echoed in the halls. The etchings were gigantic, taller than ten space marines combined. A chill climbed her spines and skins. This was its doing.
“M’lord.” 5552 said calmly. “I highly suggest we stop now.”
“I grow tired of your protests, serf. Why are you afraid when you are my eyes? You are being ignorant as you have called me before.”
It’s EXACTLY because you are my eyes. I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE SO I HAVE A REASON TO BE AFRAID! 5552 thought to herself.
5552 tightened her fist, the vein on her head was pulsating hard. She gritted her teeth, once again swallowing the bouts of anger she was to unleash. 5552 reminded herself that she was a serf, not above a Primarch.
“As you wish…”
5552 ventured further into the halls, where the mounds of corpses were.
Corpses upon corpses. Not enough to be truly horrifying, yes. 5552 merely stared at the corpses that were piled in a hollowed out altar. It’s just like a cult’s final act of desperation, thinking that sacrificing a handful of corpses would summon a daemon. But it was not that simple. She turned away soon as she saw the symbol. Out of all daemons it had to be that thing.
“M’lord. I suggest we go now. There are only corpses, I fear I will grow sick at such a stench, and I do not wish for a disease that will kill me slowly.” 5552 said.
“I suppose so, return to the vessel, this system is under Imperial Compliance now.”
It was a great break to be back int the vessel again. 5552 rested in her room comfortably until her stomach growled, protesting for sustenance. 5552 broke out her MRE and utilized the mini heating pads. As the MRE cooked the image remained, not the corpses but the symbol. 5552 bit her thumb, nibbling on it like a snack. The MRE bag bloated, leaking out steams from the heat that expanded the bag from inside. 5552 sighed, worrying can come after eating. 5552 opened the bag, licking her lips in anticipation and eyes sparkling in excitement. She needed some kind of food to ease her mind, even if it would be delaying the inevitable.
But of course, as if that god chose to make her life miserable, her door opened as soon as her utensil cut into the meal. 5552 regrettingly placed her utensil aside. She grabbed the hydrated biscuit into the sleeves of her robe then stood up. The Space Marine opened the door.
“Serf. You have been summoned by our Primarch.”
“And here I thought I was being awarded the Star of Terra…” 5552 muttered.
“You are not.”
“It’s called sarc-” 5552 sighed. “Just forget it.”
Inside Magnus’ quarters, there was a birdled scowl spread disapleasuringly on his face. The parchment floated, earning the ire the parchment did not deserve. The wrinkles between his eyes slightly unfolded, enough to be noticed but never to be taken notice of. 5552 waited in silence, only hearing the small scrunch of the parchment and the crackling fire from the torches.
“If one should ask for help, is it not obvious to ask politely?” Magnus said.
“It is obvious, m’lord.”
“Then it seems like you’re smarter than my brother.” Magnus said.
5552 replied with silence, simply awaiting. Magnus handed the parchment to her. The writing was impeccable, as if produced by an artist. The content however… was arrogant and insulting, almost confusing 5552 whether it really was a request for help. It was a demand more than anything.
“When will you aid them?” 5552 said.
Magnus let out a sneering scoff.
“If I had my way, never.” Magnus said assuringly. “I will take my time in responding.”
“I believe it would be wise to help now.” 5552 said. “Perhaps this can be a good way to interact with your brother.”
Magnus raised his eyebrow.
“Do you mean to say ‘bond’?”
“I did. However, I worried such words would bring discomfort knowing your dislike toward the Space Wolves.” 5552 said.
You are correct. But the sooner I deal with him the better I suppose.” Magnus said. “I am interested in these creatures known as ‘shrike’ and Ark Reach Secundus is said to be a trove of lost knowledge.”
There it was again, his motivation was led by pursuit of lost knowledge than the actual purpose of the Great Crusade itself.
“It looks like you want to tell me something.” Magnus said.
“It is nothing, m’lord.” 5552 said. “I only hope the battle will go well.”
Magnus let out a single arrogant bark of laughter.
“Of course it will be. For an immortal you worry too much.” Magnus said. “You’ve seen what my sons can do. How is it that you still have doubt?”
“I’ve lived too long to trust on mere observations, m’lord.”
“For an immortal, you worry far too much.” Magnus said. “
“Or perhaps you worry too little…” 5552 said.
It was another battlefield, but with a different story. The Word Bearers did their best to ask the system to be under compliance peacefully. However, as all things would be the governing body, the Phoenix Court declined with vitriolic anger. It was then the Space Wolves joined the campaign. The Thousand Sons, the Word Bearers, and the Space Wolves were in an unexpected team during the five months long assault on the Ark Reach Secundus.
5552 absentmindedly sat on the rock. The cruel, cold wind howled. Despite the cold-weather gear provided, the Prospero Spireguard still struggled against the cold. The psychic warriors were also heard to be bordering on fatigue due to the swift war pace of the Space Wolves. Despite their armor hiding their visage, the toll on their pace was noticeable. Inside the temporary base, the foresights gathered to read the future.
The battle, the future, and the fate of the universe was a lot to think about. And a perfect deterrent to keep her mind occupied that wasn’t about the bone chilling cold. 5552’s teeth chattered, even inside the heated base.
“There will be an ambush.”
5552 overheard, and soon the entire base was on alert. The guardsmen prepared their heavy lasguns and the psykers already erected their barriers. Then, the thundering explosion ripped in the air. The destructive symphony of war began. Like the brave immortal 5552 was, she stayed inside the base comfortably.
“You are the perpetual.” The space marine said.
“I am, master astartes. Is there something you need?”
“No, I was ordered to keep you safe. I am Hastar.”
“It is an honor to know the name of an astartes. I am 5552.”
Hastar paused. “Do you not remember your own name?”
“It’s not like I’m going to be remembered.”
Unlike the indifferent and sometimes down right unsympathetic space marines that were the Thousand Sons, Hastar was different. It was like seeing a young soldier brimming with the foolish notion of honor and courage. Though 5552 did not say those words as she was being carried by the said space marine during the march.
If she was being honest, she’d thought she was to walk until exhaustion would kill her then carry the corpse. Then again, the weight of an old woman like her was basically paper. The brutal wind hit against the fabrics and against her air mask.
“That’s what the foresights said? Six months is very short for taking over six systems.” 5552 said confusedly.
“The foresights are never wrong.” Hastar said. “I believe them. Have you not met individuals with such skills such as seeing the future?”
“Perhaps.” 5552 hummed at the possibility. “But my memory is deeper than the deepest chasm in existence. I lack the capacity to remember everything, unlike our Emperor.”
“What’s the oldest memory you have then?”
“I remember tripping on the stairs to the docks back at the palace.” 5552 said. “It was very painful.”
“That was not very long ago.” Hastar said.
“I never said I was good at remembering.” 5552 said.
There was low and thick chuckling, muffled by the helmet. They spoke more, exchanging stories of her time below the Imperial Palace and living in Prospero. Their conversation ended abruptly once they soon reached the final assault point. 5552 jumped off of Hasta’s pauldron then unslung her lasgun to join with the guardsmen.
The battle went on to be expected: A total annihilation. The Word Bearers provided general support. The Space Wolves were a breed of their own, iron fangs tore into the resisting enemies with reckless abandon. Blood spilt anywhere the sons of Leman Russ were. The Thousand Sons, despite their wariness of the rapid pace, still showed their psychic might. Unfathomable powers of the warp displayed what true strength could be, rendering the enemy upon the jaws of raw sorcery. It was a sight of awe, but once the battle ended woe was all that was left. War never changed it seemed. 5552 blanched at the sight of gore, like a child’s aversive reaction to vegetables. 5552 walked along the snowy fields, taking careful steps to not dirty her cold climate gears.
“Yer the immortal, ye look nothin’ for a woman who lived thousands of years.”
Unlike Magnus’ voice, it was thick with an odd accent. He was a giant through and through, in one hand was a sword and an ax. 5552’s neck stretched to the limit to speak with the Fenrisian giant. Upon recognizing his face, she bowed.
“It is an honor to be upon your grace, m’lord.” 5552 said.
The Wold King bended his waist to look at her close, 5552 took a step back. His canines flashed every time he spoke, and the wild free hair somehow remained unfrozen. Immortality did not mean knowledge, for her that is. The gauntlet grabbed her face ever so gently, then her arms and legs.
“Yer also fragile and brittle.”
“Perpetuity does not mean invulnerability m’lord.” 5552 said.
“Do you possess knowledge or memories of the past?”
“I do not m’lord.” 5552 answered.
“What are ye good at?”
5552 wished that she was back in the vessel, with a heated MRE in her hand, not to indulge in this child’s curious nature.
“Archiving, stitching, and…” 5552 paused for a moment. “I suppose the general ability of a serf.”
“So yer useless.” The Wolf King said.
“You are right my lord, I am useless.” 5552 agreed quickly.
“With no fangs either.”
“No, I do not possess fangs. I am no wolf. Very astute observation, m’lord.” 5552 said.
“But ye do have a tongue of serpent.” The Wolf King said with a snarl. “Very fitting of your ilk.”
5552’s eyes twitched. “I suppose so…” 5552 said. “If that is all, I will be making my leave.”
5552 did as ordered. “Yes m’lord?”
It was then she noticed the Space Wolves marines were more present than other marines.
“Do ye trust them?”
“Trust who m’lord?”
“The psykers.” The Wolf King said. “Ye’ve seen what they do, and the similarity of those that were tainted. I know ye hide yerself. I ain’t blind, lass. Those psykers are not to be trusted, yer immortality cannot save you from that and ye can’t defend yerself as well.”
5552 paused, long enough to know she should’ve spoken. But how could she? Not when she was slapped with such hypocrisy of a magnitude that might surpass Magnus’ arrogance.
“Yes, and I can’t defend myself against your Rune Priests either. Yet here I am, m’lord, being alongside your sons.”
The Wolf King’s lips contorted to a snarling glower.
"What did ye say?"
“The Rune Priests, m’lord.” 5552 said calmly. “They are psykers yet I am not afraid of them.”
It was marvelous to see someone who was already deadly looking, to be even deadlier. Upon hearing her words the Rune Priests gathered as well, obviously displeased by the correct comparison. 5552 only hoped that the death would be quick, and the winter gear would survive. She supposed being mauled by men of wolves and wolf spirit to death would be the first.
“Rune Priests ain’t no psykers.” The Wolf King said. “They harness the power of Fenris and use powers unknown by psykers.”
They are different m’lord, but you see…” 5552 said then stopped. “No, you are correct m’lord. Please forgive this foolish serf for thinking otherwise.”
5552 bowed deeply, almost prostrating. With such desperate attempt seen, the space marines of the Space Wolves left. The Wolf King let out a grunt of satisfaction.
“See that ye don’t make the same mistake again.”
The wolves parted away after, and she let out a long sigh of relief. Her tensed shoulders finally relaxed. She sat on a nearby rock as she waited for the last temple to be secured.
“And here I thought you would be in pieces by now.”
5552 rolled her eyes beneath her visor. “I’m honored that I was in your thoughts, m’lord.”
“I merely saw you on the edge of being devoured by feral wolves.” Magnus clarified gladly. “I have yet to record your regeneration process.”
“To be used as your research subject will bring nothing but joy…” 5552 grumbled. “Is the assault finished?”
“It has, my sons will initiate a scout inside the temple this time.”
“I’m not being sent?” 5552 asked calmly.
“I did not know you enjoy delving into temples. However-”
A commotion interrupted the conversation. The Word Bearers were already thrown off as the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves were on the verge of tearing each other's necks. On the library steps, the Thousand Sons formed an impromptu barrier toward the entrances, while the Space Wolves were on the verge of breaking through. The Word Bearers marines did their best to mediate between the two legions.
“Oh… that is not good.”
Magnus went off on his own to speak with Leman, which had already devolved into a heated argument. Lorgar did his best to intermediate 5552 merely watched from a distance. Tensions brewed, boiling to a point of no return. While the civilian casualty was not high due to the Thousand Sons' use of psychic powers, she feared there would be casualty done amongst themselves. 5552 silently approached toward the two bickering and one troubled children.
“I have made me claims on this werld, I have the right to do what I want.” Leman said.
“And your answer is to spread destruction with no regard for the loss of knowledge?” Magnus said. “If we lower ourselves to wanton savagery we are no better than beasts.”
“They’re the enemies, who rejected Lorgar’s peaceful invitation. If they are to be under Imperial Compliance their history needs to be forgotten.” Leman said. “The systems must be united by the ideologies of the Imperium.”
“That can be done without the destruction of the library. Let my sons and I dictate what should and should not be released.” Magnus said. “Without my sons this entire system would not have been easily taken. You make a claim when you were not the most instrumental force in this campaign.”
“Brothers, perhaps we should first establish Imperium control first?” Lorgar said leisurely. “Come now, father wouldn’t want us to fight so much.”
“Lord Primarch of the Word Bearers, is correct, m’lord.” 5552 jumped in. “We must establish control lest we waste further time. Did you not have materials to review in your quarters as well?”
“This is no place for you to-”
Magnus cut Leman’s words. “You dare interrupt me?”
“I do and I already have.” 5552 said frankly.
“Know your place, serf. I am warning you one last time. Death will be slow should you defy me.”
“Magnus, she is a servant of our father. You must treat her with respect.” Lorgar said.
“Lest you forget m’lord, I am to be your guidance neither your serf nor assistant, I merely played along with your whims.” 5552 sad with a blunt indifference. “ I am employed by the Emperor, not by the arrogant child I stand in front of.”
Magnus bristled while Leman laughed, until her attention soon fixed on the Wolf King himself. “And you, Leman Russ. You are a fool to think if your Rune Priests are not psykers, escape the abyss that is your preconceived notions.” 5552 sighed exasperatingly. “Lord Primarch of the Word Bearers, I thank you for your help. I will take care of this myself.”
"You will what?" Magnus said.
5552 walked toward the marines, where their fingers and hands twitched, ready for violence at any given moment.
Images to be inserted Soon™