An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Boman Modine
Reading Time: 5 minutes
The klaxon’s call rises through the factory like the bellowing of an enraged giant, summoning the teaming millions who cling to life among the Rez-stacks to their labors. My eyes open in my lair, the pain of my twisted body stabs through me and forces me to rise.
Each dawnshift, I wake with the thousands of other laborers who will surge forth to continue the work of generations mining ore from the crust of Fhorinak 616. Not me, I will remain behind, an outcaste even amongst my own.
As I crawl down from the rafters, I see the adults of my kin congregate on the road. They embrace one another and make ready to face another grueling day. They fit rebreathers over their faces, share in meals from the communal larder and strap dark lensed goggles over their eyes to guard them from the hateful sun.
I will not find solace amongst them.
They avert their attention when they sense me, look away as I step forward, towering over them. I do my best to wipe the lines of drool from my misshapen mouth. I call out to them but what emits are not but the guttural nonsenses of a brute.
“Let me help you my sisters!” I say, “Brothers, let me carry the load!” I plead.
They ignore me and mutter prayers to our shared god to keep bad fortune at bay. I am that bad fortune. They are ashamed of me, no matter that we are family or that we share the weight of the oppressor’s boot upon our necks. For I am the failure of the union between mankind and the divine made manifest. I am weakness, despite my strength.
I wrap a canvas tarp across my hunched shoulders, as if it could hide my deformities, and watch as my kin climb aboard trucks and speed toward the mines.
I would wait here until their return, like some pathetic canid scavenger, but…
That… thing in the darkness behind my mind, urges me back to my peoples’ warrens. I hate how it drives my limbs and reduces my consciousness to a passenger within my own body. I hate its silence. Yet, I love it as well, for it is the only companion I have ever had.
I reach the border of our territory, the walls decorated in holy sigils. Totems made from the bones of our enemies hang from chains as a warning. I ignore them and pass through a rusted portal.
A girl? She is aiming a weapon at me. I can smell her fear. The juves are left behind to protect our home. The other communities are a constant threat and thieves are everywhere.
I raise my hands in greeting but she flinches, disgusted. She steps back and I shuffle past her. She glares at me and returns to her vigil as I continue deeper into the gloom.
Others move about in the warren, clutching children and pulling them away from me. They permit me, once a day, to drink from the wastewater. I paw the water and see myself in its fetid surface.
As always, I am filled with detestation by the creature that looks back. Why was I allowed to live? Why did my father not dash me against the wall in the wake of my birth?
I was told my mother screamed as she looked upon me before she died.
Self loathing explodes within me like a fire. I smash a crate with a single blow from both my right hands, reducing it to splinters even as I sob.
“Away with you! Begone!” I crane downward and see an elderly man. He is fearless as he waves at me with his one remaining hand. Two small children, their blessings subtle on their foreheads, cower behind him.
“Aberrant! Do not trouble us here!”
I howl and flee from the avenue toward the compactor pits.
I eat from a discarded package of corpstarch atop a pile of refuse when I hear voices and see electo-torches stab through the darkness. There are twenty of them, moving through the detritus of the pit.
I lower myself; curious. They wear oiled carapace armor and helmets who’s visors glow. They are Enforcers, the iron fist of the Mining Guild. They should not be here. The largest of them holds up a gloved hand. They stop instantly, weapons ready.
“The cult’s been hiding down here for almost eighteen cycles.” His voice is filled with contempt. “No need to tell the Overseer, we’ll burn them out, have another team exterminate the rest in the mines once we’re done.”
I can smell old blood on these men.
“And there’ll be a hefty bonus in this, per skinning.”
“And a promotion for you!” Another chortles, a scatter gun in his gauntlets.
“No one does this for free!” The leader raises an ugly looking pistol above his head, “Conspiring with xenos is a sin! We purge in the name of the Emperor!”
“FOR THE EMPEROR!” They shout.
And… suddenly, that darkness within me takes hold. It does not smother me this time or shove my mind to a corner of my misshapen skull. Instead I hear a voice! For the first time, another speaks to me and says;
This is why you were made!
My doubt, my shame, all of it falls away as I look upon those who would hurt my family. Now I know what I am supposed to be, what I am to my family. I am their protector.
I land among them. I lift and tear apart their leader before any of them know what is happening. I let them see me with their torches.
I roar my own battlecry;
“FOR THE MANY ARMED GOD!”
But to them, it is only the bellow of an enraged giant, a nightmare made manifest that now tears them limb from limb. Abomination, monster, cursed…
I am at peace, for that is what I am.