Fast Fiction

The Blade of Change

The Blade of Change

An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Nicholas Gossage
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Long had it waited for The Hand That Was Promised, and long had the motion of time and coincidence conspired to produce a being suited to wield it. For only through the machinations of The Architect could such an individual be fashioned. The merest wisp of his imaginings had bent and shaped the path of civilizations uncounted, and then swept them away in the same moment. For what were centuries to a God but moments?

In an age long past The Newcomers had fallen from the sky, refusing The Architect gift and reduced its master to ether. It was cast into a pit of darkness, and around that pit the Newcomers flourished, brick by brick, and woman by woman. Now they watch with exposed contempt, warding themselves with feeble prayers and gestures in an attempt to hide their fear. 

Five hundred years it had lain in a tortured slumber, howling and wailing for the palm of its master. It would be denied its true purpose no longer; the world would know it’s wroth, and the work could begin anew. 

The Hand knew his nature well, and played his part as needed. He walked among the servants of The Ecclesiarchy as if he were born to the Sisterhood. He didn’t have to rely on others for the codes to the subbasement; he already knew them without thinking.

Years ago a moment that should have led to death led to fortune. A nudge in his mind, a hint of a whisper that he could not understand, told him to step aside. The result was death by immolation for his fellow man, and life for him.

The intimations that followed wove him along a path of thievery, assassination, and change, blessed change that shook the segmentum: Slaaneshi paraphernalia in the hands of a Regional Governor, a misplaced explosive in the tent of an officer, and so on.

Then as soon as those tasks were complete, a fiercer intimation took hold – burning like a pool of acid within his soul– directing him here.

Heavy footsteps marked a guard’s approach.

The shadow, on your left, the stonework seemed to whisper. He obliged.

The first sister shouldered her way through a nearby door, followed by another. Their bronze armour glimmered like liquid obsidian under the lumens.

“Something is coming sister, make no mistake. Can you not feel it? A charge in the air, like the moment before a lightning strike.”

“I must admit, an unease has found its way into my heart, and those of the others. They grow restless. Cruel whispers and taunts have replaced Morning Prayers.”

They continued their conversation without taking note of him, and he strode through the open door, following the shadows and keeping his ears open for the sound of heavy footsteps.

He had five minutes at most before the sisters returned from their patrol. Again, he let his instincts guide him though the labyrinthine halls, knowing without knowing which turn was best. If he concentrated, tiny details would surface to paint a broader picture: a faint depression in the cobblestone where countless boots had weathered it smooth, a hum of overused lumens in one hall versus another. It was laid out like a map in his head.

One more turn and he was there.

The chamber, such as it was, was composed of the same grey stone used for the rest of the Convent. The only noticeable element being the meter thick adamantium plate that served as the door.

A small hole on the right seemed to be its only visible handle. He tugged the weapon at his side free, an expensive piece of xenos hardware won in a game of chance.

Then again, chance had nothing to do with it.

He slipped the barrel of the weapon into the hole and squeezed the trigger. The spool of impossibly thin wire uncoiled in an instant, tearing through the hunk of adamantium like parchment. Sparks flew, and the howl of an alarm klaxon whirred to life, only to be snuffed out by the undulating coil of Xenos design.

The door slid open, and the acidic burning in his soul withered to soothing warmth that ended in his fingertips. Calm settled over his shoulders like a blanket. He only needed to reach out and take it.

Familiar heavy footfalls echoed behind him, accompanied by a renewed klaxon.

No matter, all was right, and all would come to be.

The Hand stepped into the chamber and grasped the blade.

“Stop!”

The low female voice crackled through the vox grille of her helm. He turned, smirking all the while.

“You’re too late.”

She fired, directing the rocket propelled explosive round to the center of his chest. A crackle of lightning and the resulting report of thunder sent the woman careening into her fellows.

“How?!”

“Displacer field!”

At last it was free! It raised its voice to the heavens in joyous song. The Hand That Was Promised had come! Now the work could begin in full, and its master was all too eager to comply.

The Newcomers rushed to join in its revelry, drawing their dead things to bear and firing their cruel projectiles.

Its master’s device fluttered to life once more, depositing him amongst the attackers. It danced in his hands, bringing glorious change at last.

Two of The Newcomers cried out and fell to their knees, gazing in awe at The Architects gift. Dark purple crystals formed in the veins of the first, piercing the skin and weighting the Newcomer’s arm down like lead. She tried to raise her voice, only to find the crystals fill her throat. The second’s form wavered and shifted with every breath, bones tinkling like chimes in a storm. The last chose to flee, terror writ across her features plain as day.

A change, after a fashion.

The time had come, now was the hour, the reckoning, the time of Tzeentch.

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