Peace, in Quiet
An Unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Kristopher Pigg
Reading Time: 5 minutes
I sat alone in my little hovel, fifty kilometers beneath the surface of Tarsian Secundus. Vidfeeds circled me, keeping a close watch on the complex web of pipes that funneled deep thermal heat to power the world. We worked in shifts. Six solar months alone in the void, then back up to serve on the central control team or maintenance crews.
The monitor station consisted of two rooms. Where I sat now, cramped by all the readouts and information, and a living area with room to lay and little more. My legs cramped and my shoulders ached, both worsening each day. One of my two lumens went out in the third month and the other promised to follow soon. It left me in a dull gloom of vidfeeds and dim, flickering white.
A red light flashed on, the station requesting their regular update. My only relief.
‘This is Alfin Teyid,’ I said across the vox, my voice trembling. ‘Daily check in, all clear.’
‘Equal reading Teyid, maintain.’
That exchange repeated itself each day, month after month. I would watch unchanging readouts, alone with my thoughts and offering prayer to the machine spirits until that red light. After sixteen hours the door to my living space opened and I would shower, eat, then sleep. Five hours later it began again.
This routine reduced me, day by day, until I better resembled a servitor who hid its augmetics. They recorded me, every moment, and when my shift ended someone would watch it from start to finish for any sign of dereliction or failure. Thus, this purgatory would extend far after I left the pit.
In the fourth month, my little prison shook. Seismic readings spiked and an alert went up across the lower lines. A great anxiety took me, and my prayers redoubled.
‘This is Alfin Teyid. Seismic disruption of Southern Vystal lines.’
‘Equal reading Teyid, servitors dispatched.’
This too repeated itself every few days with new lines and new disturbances. It ended toward the close of my final month. All fell quiet, still. The system ran as it always should, but no red light. Two sleep cycles passed and still no sign from above.
Prayer, holy oils, and great fervor did nothing to help my cause. Days passed without the sound of a voice, save my own. Still, I radioed back as first ordered; for fear of punishment and for fear of being alone. I could not sleep and eating became a necessary torture. My ragged form trembled, and my pale skin turned a nauseous green. Even in the cold of my station I sweat. My clothes dampened and I chafed where the wet rags rubbed my body. For fear of great disaster, I took to catching all the shower water in my toiletry buckets, to ensure I would not die of thirst.
The rations could last multiple shifts, but still I ate less and hoarded all that remained. Anxiety held me like a starved beast upon plump prey. I wanted to speak to someone, see someone, anything but this waking death. Omnissiah be praised, my duty neared its end now. Any longer and there would be nothing left of me to return to the surface. I clung to that, my last hope.
Upon the conclusion of my services, I opened a channel for the first time since my arrival. For only now was it permitted.
‘This is Alfin Teyid. Shift complete as of two minutes passed. My replacement is yet to arrive but, as instructed, I shall now enter the lift and return to the surface. Over.’
To my great relief, the lift arrived at the scheduled time. It shook as it took me back. Small pebbles broke off the stone wall and pattered about, some landing at my feet while others fell to the abyss. For five hours I rode, weeping without shame. My praises pleased the machine spirits and the swaying stopped as I neared the top.
No one greeted me. I travelled an empty control room, through forgotten corridors, and out into the hot night of my home. Shadows hid great foundries and manufactorums, melding it all into a continuous form of dark, spiring shapes. Clouds hid the stars and brought a great gloom upon the world which snapped my fraying nerves.
So accustomed was I to the quiet hum of the pit that it took two hours before I noticed the silence of the forges. I could not fathom it, as if the stars all winked out. It frightened me such that I feared to go further. Could I be the last soul on this world?
I retreated to the control station, slinking through the shadows and sought a vox with an open channel. Yet, when I found it, I hesitated to speak. What if I was alone? Worse, what if I was not? My attention turned to the vidscreens. Perhaps the surveillance system still worked, and I might see something from the safety of the control room.
The feed flicked through different views, until it reached the main courtyard, where the masses took daily devotions. Where, now, an unending mass gave undying devotion.
+ + +
Tremors shook the world as I sat in the abyss. I studied my supplies, the only thing to ease my mind in these silent days. If I conserved, my food and water would outlast my sanity. Perhaps I would not ration.
The vidscreens died two days prior. Hours ago, I noticed a rasping sound from the shaft. Was this the right decision?
As the rasps grew, as the last light flickered off for the final time; I realized I never had a choice. The darkness settled and I accepted my fate. It brought a cold serenity and eased my aches. I would take solitude over the truth. My eyes closed, welcoming denial’s peace.
The truth dashed it in a glow of red.
About the Author
Kristopher has been playing Warhammer on and off since the 7th editing of Fantasy Battles, and writing far too much fluff since then. As a writer, he loves mixing the absurd with the serious, and trying to find all the ways those two things intersect. Right now, most of his time is going toward his web serial at stonwardtale.com, a fantasy story with action, shades of horror, and a fair bit of comedy.