Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rise of Phaeton



I have dulled.


Suspended aimlessly above Thul like some forsaken fruit, this accursed station has become my prison.  Twenty-nine million, four hundred and thirty-six thousand, two hundred and eighty-seven other souls trapped in this grinding hell with me, statistically speaking, that number has already risen.  The concept of “overstimulation” doesn’t do it justice; the maddening sound of existence permeates the stale recycled air all around.  I didn’t sleep for six days when we arrived.  The all-consuming noise burrowed its way through my subconscious from the moment we landed, until shear exhaustion finally overtook me.  Months later, I’m so desensitized to the cacophony that I can’t even hear a gunshot in the room next to me.  The past months of aimless seclusion have made me a slave to time and monotony; I have grown as predictable in my habits as the abhorrent Priesthoods’ mindless service drones that wander the corridors.  I sleep, I observe, I try to establish contact, I push forward through the madness; I exist.  I have become not so much a man, but the flesh and blood manifestation of countless questions.  These questions, I believe, have made me a threat, a cancer to be removed.

Not fifteen minutes before, I stood in this very doorway maniacally hoping that this would be the day I had long awaited.  That Einrich had finally received even just one carefully encrypted word from the Inquisitor, that my warning had been received, that my vigilant watch had meaning and purpose.  There was far less blood then; Einrich’s face was less of a ragged hole.  His mouth and third eye were once more noticeably divided by his face’s plain, expressionless features.  Now those plain features are nothing more than a dark crater, pockmarked with the embedded bits of metal from his Astropathic helm.  Broken and unmoving on the floor of the small utility room, his back arched, arms awkwardly sprawled.  A lake of deep crimson has seeped from the dark crater amongst the isles of metal scattered across the polished floor around him, a matte sheen already gathering across the top.  There’s no evidence of a struggle, but I can’t say Einrich was ever much of a fighter.  In his defense, no one puts up much of a fight when shot from behind.   If he had even heard the door open, he probably assumed it was just me.  We have all dulled.

My mind begins to race, I’ve become so cold, so calloused; not just the past months, but the years have worn my soul down to this.  Einrich was my comrade, my friend.  He will be remembered, but only if there are those left who remember him.  The years of dehumanization, the ingrained discipline, the horrors this galaxy has bestowed unto me, all of it kindled in the forge of my master’s guidance and training.  Despite the months of stagnation, the fierceness of my mind begins to wake.   Einrich’s killer is close, the Emperor’s grace is the only reason I am still breathing.  This abomination of a world, drowning in its own deafening cries, seems so distant now.  My senses retreat within from the shock of this enlightenment, I feel only the rapid beating of my own heart in my chest.

The only sound piercing this newfound calm is the constant stream of binaric chatter that seems to permeate from all around me.  Standing there, like it has every day for the past two hundred and fifty-seven days, is the Servo-Drone.  So like me in its fixations, another insignificant gear grinding perpetually.  My distorted mirror, its hardwired functions as synchronized as my habitual routine.  Like every other drone on this station, tirelessly bound to a cycle, forever grinding forward.  Every day I have watched it, bent in prayer in the hall adjoining our rooms.  One of its many arms outstretched before it, tracing holy unguents around the symbol of its home, a symbol etched by its own hand slowly over time into the wall before it.  It’s face freshly slicked in the oil from its pious bowing and loving contact to the symbol in which it communes.  It had become just another part of my routine, to the point I no longer noticed it when I left Einrich’s quarters not fifteen minutes ago.  I didn’t need to see it to know it had already began its ritual, forever grinding forward.  I see now, for the first time in all these days, it is turned in my direction.  Its lifeless eyes fixated on the doorway in which I stand.  It’s voxcaster endlessly spewing the same binaric greeting as if frozen in the moment of meeting one of its betters.  It has become a phrase I no longer need translated, despite understanding little to none of the priesthoods binaric language, so unique in its tone or cadence or lack thereof.  It is the same call and response greeting that begins every exchange between those of the priesthood, like oil applied to every gear of this station, it binds them as one.  Until now I had not stopped to ponder its literal meaning, and as I do it turns my blood cold.  Through this one, the Omnissiah judges your deeds.

Our cover has not been blown; it was never there to begin with.  The Priesthood have been watching me from the moment I first set foot on this station; they have been watching all of us.  In plain view they have watched our every move for months with no need to lift a finger.  Why act now?  They clearly have the means to block Einrich’s messages from leaving the station; why risk their own discovery with his death? The first logical answer in months rises through the thick ocean of questions, as my mind races through possible scenarios.  This new realization brings a grim smile to my lips as I begin to understand the monumental occasion that is upon us.  The Priesthood has been watching me, they have been watching everyone.  They must have seen something or someone; a threat they fear more capable than myself.

Subtlety be damned, the Imperium must know of the monstrosity we have allowed to fester in the dark.  I will send the warning the only way its delivery can be assured; the station’s primary Astropathic Choir.  The teeming masses of the station shall bear witness as I expose these monsters or, at the very least, I draw an ally’s attention.  I look into the blank eyes of the Servo Drone still uttering its greeting.  I can’t help but defiantly mutter the customary response as I un-holster my sidearm. “This one shall not be found wanting.”

- Eli Parsons

2 comments:

  1. ....looking forward to seeing where this collaboration goes... :)

    ReplyDelete