Fast Fiction

Once

Once

An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Andy Clark
Reading Time: 5 minutes

I was your acquaintance once. Oh, how I respected you then. Your poise and command ran through every communication like ribbons of gold in veins of quartz. Through courier and missive, astropath and hololith we bartered deals and competed, sometimes in concert, sometimes opposed. Your mastery of negotiation was matched only by your devotion to secrecy. No one could know of your location; none could track your movements. Through misdirection and double blinds, you guarded your privacy as a dragon of myth would guard their hoard. I saw hints though. Breadcrumbs of data that forged a gossamer path. The faded reflection of a cityscape captured in the background of a pict. The psychic spore of an astropath that lingered too long on a message like the most subtle of perfumes. Little things to draw us closer together. A quaint turn of phrase gave you away. A lexicographical misfit. A simple letter out of order that narrowed the cartographical madness of a galaxy wide quest to a single subsector, a single world. One word was enough to bring me into your orbit, and in your orbit I remained.

 

I was your partner once. Oh, how I admired you then. You had contacts; I had a ship. You had leverage; I had a crew. A symbiotic relationship grew up around these intersections of need and want. Together we grew our wealth and influence until an entire subsectors worth of merchants would tremble and rejoice at our calling. I looked down on you from my ship, peering down through layers of smog laden cloud to the soaring spire I knew you called home. You did not reciprocate. You could not. As far as you were aware, we were distant still. I maintained the illusion through networks of relays. Sending our communiques to distant stars for them to be returned almost to their point of origin. Almost. Time passed and we grew closer through word and affection. Slowly, ever so slowly, you drew me in. You tore down walls between us brick by brick. Layer upon layer of obfuscation pulled aside until we stood metaphorically face to face. An invitation and an address were offered and snatched at greedily. Our converging spirals tightened into a dance.

 

I was your confidante once. Oh, how I treasured you then. You held court in such splendor, a palace of wonders. Objet d’art from lost worlds; tablets inscribed with unknown languages; esoteric devices of alien design. A priceless collection of many lifetimes displayed in service as a distraction, for as you told me, a delighted mind was so much easier to sway. I could not be so distracted. Such trifles held no appeal for me as you became the centre of my universe. The picts and hololiths never did you justice, they could not capture the glint of joy in your eye as we shared a conspiratorial glance. Nor the way you cocked your head just so when preparing to make your final entreaty to a willing mark. In the day rooms you were always surrounded, always flanked by unsubtle armsmen and haloed by the telltale glow of a displacement field. We stole moments though, a confessional of sorts that only we could share. We were so close then, just a sliver of armourglass separating our booths as we made plans in hushed tones. I could almost touch you, my fingers dancing lightly as I traced the outline of your smile. 

 

I was your lover once. Oh, how I adored you then. It was inevitable of course; I think we both knew it as soon as we beheld each other. Spirits so alike are drawn together, a gravity well of desire that would consume us both. A stolen glance, a lingering thought that would not be dismissed. My presence grew in your mind as you had taken residence in mine until I would not be denied any longer. We walked slowly through the residence; I was demure. You played your part admirably, to your guards and staff I was just another conquest in a long line of conquests. They would do well to forget me as you would. They did not know the depth of our connection, how could they? An ultimate set of doors, a final sentinel dismissed, and we were at last within the most private of chambers. No vox thieves or pict scanners to observe us we took advantage of our freedom. All semblance of decorum was abandoned. We tore at each other’s clothes, rare fabrics and jewels discarded in our rush to embrace. I held you tight. Tighter than you imagined I should. Realisation dawned for you then and as a little death gave way to its greater cousin, I let you see my true face. I think you deserved that much. Just once. 

What is Fast Fiction?

Enter the world’s only Fast Fiction contest for Warhammer 40,000. Weave your tale in less than 1,000 words while working around a unique theme.

About the Author

Andy Clark is an avid reader of all things Warhammer having rediscovered the setting with the Horus Heresy series. He’s recently got back into painting models after a two-decade gap and wonders why he ever stopped. This is his first foray into writing 40k fiction.