What would it be like to the last man? The last man of your kind, holding all of the culture of your time, all the dreams, all the sacrifices, all the good times and all the memories of people who will long forgotten before you speak of them. What would it be like to known that your whole way of life is gone, that you can never go home to the world you had been born on and bled for your entire existence? That every brother you cared for was destroyed, all one thousand of them, and that in place of the honourable habitants that assisted in maintaining the chapter were the filthy green skins?
Whisky, Tactical Marine of Squad Morpheus from the Second Company had to fight a thousand battles throughout his long life to earn his position. Most battles had been against the orks, all successful encounters resulting in the total annihilation of the scum despite their overwhelming numbers. Their conquests sometimes resulted in a small assault upon the home world of the Dragoons’ yet every time their ships had been shattered and all the pores from the slain that could turn into new orks had been eradicated by cleansing fire and unrivalled determination of their proud chapter. Yet for some reason, one conquest of the orks had shattered the Dragoons utterly, how was that possible? A thousand space marines across the planet had waged war against the beasts only to face predestined death. It was as if fate itself had condemned their chapter for doom, when in fact this ‘Waaagh’ was one of the smallest the chapters had seen to reach their home world, Vidiek.
Could it be that the planning of an outside force?
The ruinous power of the heretical traitors?
The cowardly Eldar out to fulfil some childish prophecy?
Or some other unknown power with a vendetta against the chapter?
“Go away dark shadow, go away, go away, go away my dark shadow...” he groaned between fits of consciousness and unconsciousness.
Pray. Pray. Pray.
Pray for blood.
Pray for fire.
Pray for salvation.
The bleeding hand. The bleeding hand. The bleeding hand.
The bone mask. The bone mask. The bone mask.
The young Librarian who put himself before his brothers.
He swore he knew his face. Those chestnut eyes. The fiery lightning.
“...destroy, must eliminate...”
Whisky believed he had put aside irrational anger. But in some part he had not. He wanted to go down to his home world and obliterate every last ork and save the warboss to last. Then he would reveal to that disgusting creature what true strength composes of and rip out its gizzards for all to see. Then he would be content at avenging his chapter. But one marine on his own, injured and slightly unnerved from the destruction of his chapter, could not kill all of the orks. So he would discover what force had played in the destruction of his chapter first and highlight their mistake in leaving one of the Dragoons alive.
But the heat, so hot, he couldn’t concentrate...
He felt so alone.
When the time came for him to wake, he heard the casual rumbling of celestial seas. A chill gnawed at his bare toes, though this he thanked, from the hell he had departed. The air was pure and clean, his pain numb and forgotten, the breath of propelled incense rinsing his nostrils from caked blood. Soft silk swathed his taught muscles, a cloak of peace tied around his body. Dim lights cast a light haze over the darkness of his closed eyes, which he gradually opened to see an unmasked apothecary drenched in blood. This youthful apothecary was conversing with a fully prepared sergeant, both expressing stern faces. Whisky could not hear their words, yet it did not matter for long, as they quickly turned their attention to him as he made his awakening noticeable.
“He...he stirs?” The sergeant’s gritty face was painted with confusion, “You informed me he passed away.”
“That is what I thought,” the apothecary replied with equal perplexity across his features, “It seems as if Half’s abilities were far more potent than we expected...damn...Zeek, set a course for Wulfaz. We should leave this place in case the orks pierce our stealth drives.”
Zeek nodded and departed the tiny room with haste.
“What happened?” Whisky grumbled, barely able to keep his eyes open.
“You were escorted back to the Thunder Hawk-”
“No. How did the greenskins successfully take Vidiek? How did they destroy my entire chapter?”
The apothecary sighed deeply, taking a seat upon one of the sturdy drawers in which he removed a towel to remove the blood stuck to his vambraces, “There are more pressing matters ahead, though I assume you will wish to know what you have asked immediately, in which I do not blame you for at all. An EMP resonated from an unknown source and time and wiped out the defence grid at all bases around Vidiek, as well as annihilating all of your ships...from there, the orks dropped in en masse without any reduction in their numbers. Half of the bases were lobbed with comets and destroyed completely – apart from your main armoury base.
“As this occurred, our own chapter, the Wolf Pack, received your distress call. Zeek and Zaku were training the new scouts when they gathered of the destruction taking place. But as they exited the warp, the signal vanished of the last survivors, cut off. It came from a ship exiting the local system, bearing the mark of the Dragoons. By the time they could manually locate the remnants of your chapter, you, they had vanished from sight.”
Whisky inhaled deeply, and then sighed out the two words with agony, “A traitor.”
“So it seems,” he responded and placed a hand upon the shoulder of the Dragoon, “But I’m afraid there is more ill news. Half’s abilities have barely come out of his latent stage and as such, in attempting to preserve you, crippled your Progenoids. If there was any hope in restoring your chapter, it is gone, I am truly sorry.”
Whisky parted the robes from his chest and distinguished the surgical incision from the clotted tissue from his wounds and now, aroused from sleep, could feel the sharp sting at his neck where the other organ had been placed.
“Thank you for trying, though in all honesty I had already conceived the end of my chapter long ago...you mentioned with the sergeant that the Liberian that saved me...Half, was still alive?”
The apothecary shook his head and looked down, “No, Half is long gone. What he did was a very noble thing to do, despite our black history of Moon Howlers – that would be Librarians to you...” he paused, sensing Whisky’s anxiety, “Our Moon Howlers have a tendency to be consumed by their powers, a mutation that allowed them to possess tremendous power, but at the cost of their sanity...and eventually their life...”
“I owe him my life. I owe the Wolf Pack with not only my life, but hope.”
“Hope of what?” The apothecary asked.
“Hope to destroy whoever destroyed my chapter and make the name of the Dragoons known before they are wiped from the pages of history.”
“I assure you, Whisky,” the apothecary smiled kindly, “You will be known in the history of the Wolf Pack. But we too have a suffered a great battle recently, our numbers are...limited...your vengeance will come, yet I cannot promise-”
“...Whisky...” a voice sang into the forefront of his mind.
“Are you alright?” the apothecary shook the Dragoon awake.
Whisky’s vision danced around the small room situated in the Gladius Frigate. Voices so many voices, all in his head, he couldn’t put them away.
“Whisky...Whisky...Whisky. I cannot hold this...connection for long...but I need you to stay in that room...all will be explained...we need to remove something from your ship...maybe by force...”
The lips of the apothecary parted, spittle flying into his face as Whisky's eyes rolled back into his head.
“Your path is entwined with us. It always has been. We will help attain your vengeance.”
Panic shrouded the apothecary’s face. He looked up. Suddenly red lights were dancing around the ceiling in the moments he could see clearly. The apothecary grabbed his bolt pistol and stormed out in his white armour, closing the door jammed shut behind him.
“He is returning. But only someone you know can help us. We need him. You, in time, will rely on what he will become and accomplish. Many evils are threatening everything that the Imperium has managed to cling onto. But a golden age is coming: One of peace, one without wars between mankind and the Eldar. You too are needed, so do not threaten yourself now. None the Wolf Pack will be harmed unnecessarily, but we need the Moon Howler...”
Then the voice vanished and the ringing deafened him at first.
“The Eldar are on board. I repeat, the Eldar are on board!” Zaku’s voice growled out the speakers with infuriated malice.
What did the voice mean? What help could he be? Why not another marine?
He lifted himself out and over the operating table, ignoring his state of mind and body. He seized a combat knife he glimpsed in one of those drawers, relishing in the comfortable weight in his hand. More so, that he now had power to express the Emperor’s will. In that moment of satisfaction, he slammed the door aside and jogged out at speed. His damage-worn admantium boots were loud upon the floor as he limped along, shielding his tender eyes from the flashing crimson blasting into his eyeballs. There were no sounds of gunfire or screams of war, only that ringing noise in his ears. That damn bell persistently yelled down every corridor Whisky limped through, although past the third corridor he finally became accustomed to the sound, or his sensitive ears deafened to the agony set by the clamour.
As he did, the white suit appeared in front of him, sprawled against the right wall. Whisky placed two fingers and checked for a pulse. There appeared to be no immediate damage, as if the man had simply collapsed out of fatigue. It was present, but very sluggish. He snatched the bolt pistol out of the clenched fingers of the marine and continued on, following the signs to the starboard section where Half was being kept.
When he stumbled across into the confined space, all he saw was one, fully draped Farseer. For an Eldar, she appeared to compose of nearly the same height of a space marine. Whisky did not at first contemplate this, yet when she turned him, with the vermillion eyes of her helm directed right at his, did he shudder at little at the power she maintained just by glaring at him. He also could not help but glance at the hand outstretched over Half’s head.
“I told you not to come here,” she boomed, “You put yourself at harm to do what? Halt me?”
“No,” Whisky explained, keeping the bolt pistol poised at his side in case he needed to use it, “Only to seek answers.”
“Which would be?” She smugly retorted, flexing her hand upon the cream, wraithbone dagger she held loosely in her spare hand.
“Why do you require my assistance? Why do you require him?” Whisky frowned, taking a step forward and staring right back into the Farseer’s gaze.
“For the destruction of the C’tan. For the annihilation of the Chaos Gods. For peace to finally reign. For the restoration of both mankind and the dying Eldar.” She stated simply and selectively.
“Stop speaking in riddles!” Whisky roared, eyes dampening with ferocity of his projected words over the screaming of the alarm bells, “What do you hope to accomplish in confounding a man who should be dead with nonsense and removing a dead husk of a Librarian! Emperor have mercy, why didn’t I die with just the rest of my Chapter!”
“You should choose your words more carefully, Dragoon,” the Farseer replied, placing her knife at hip and hitting one of the red runes upon her orange thigh, “Until the next time our paths cross-”
“You aren’t going anywhere until you answer my questions, ELDAR!” Whisky bellowed, aiming the sight of his bolt pistol.
“I shall answer one question. Time is slipping away. Choose it wisely.” She smiled, as energy crackled from her free hand around Half’s still body.
Whisky’s furious gaze remained vigilantly poised upon the Farseer as he direly asked the stout words: “What have I and Half got to do with this ‘golden’ age.”
The confident body language from the Farseer dropped significantly. She rinsed the face of her war mask twice, glancing at her feet before turning to Whisky’s angry gaze.
“You and Half are blood brothers. You both were not born between the thighs of a human woman.”
In a flash of white, Whisky was thrown back through the doorway.
As it faded away and he rose to his feet, the Farseer and Half had vanished.
“The vessel is retreating! Pursue the scum before they reach the Webway!”