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Old 29 Apr 2010, 21:47   #1 (permalink)
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Pysa was my world, and I loved him for that.

My biological parents were dead before my ninth year, replaced by a series of surrogates who raised me to kill with blade and Autoloch. Their goal was to make a man out of me and in time that is what I became - and more besides. The last memories of my old life was a bloody battle against Mawkaals that came swarming upon our homestead. I killed five of them; five monsters bigger than a warhorse with a mouth full of swords and talons strong enough to crush a human skull. Four toppled under volleys of my gun, the fifth was impaled through the heart with my sword. The sixth fell upon me so fast I didn't have time to scream. When I next opened my eyes, I was being stared at by a giant. I was floating in warm, sickly-sweet fluid that somehow let me breathe as it it were air, with wires plugged into my flesh all over my slender frame. I wanted to rip them out, so terrifying it was for me to be hooked up to this alien device, but the giant had forseen this and restained my limbs. When I realised I could not escape, I turned back to the unmoving creature before me. His glassy eyes, which I now know to be the viewslits of an Astartes war-helm, remained locked upon me in an unflinching, emotionless glare. It was then I became acutely aware that I was naked, which made the ordeal all the more distressing for me.

In time, the giant released me from my prison. I was dressed in a simple pale blue tunic and left in a bare cell to recouperate. I ate my fill of rich food, gorging myself to the edge of vomiting, and let myself drift off to sleep for an hour. When my stomach stopped aching from the sudden binging feast, my thoughts turned to my body again. I lifted the shirt to reveal three dozen fading scars, each of which little more than a pale line upon my flesh. Though I did not remember how they were earned, I knew they should never have healed so cleanly. Soon after, Pysa entered my life. He told me he was one of the Emperor's warriors - the Angels of Death. He told me of the glory I had shown on the field, and how he wished to join him as a Battle Brother of the Supernovas. He told me it would be a long, hard journey. He told me all of this and more, and from the moment I laid eyes on him I was convinced I wanted the life he offered.

The years passed. Trial after trial was presented and bested. I was indoctrinated into the rites and rituals of the Chapter, subjected to genetic manipulation, hypno-psychotherapy and the myriad of other processes that changed a mere mortal into one of the Astartes. Weeks became months and months became years until, after a long and arduous transformation, Pysa deemed me ready for war. I was so eager for battle amongst the stars, but totally unprepared for the reality. I was thirteen years old yet physically I made a mockery of even the greatest men, but physical prowess did not grant mental fortitude on its own. Once more, Pysa was there; he took my fear and doubt and forged it into courage and resolve. It was on these long campaigns against the enemies of the Imperium that I truly became a Space Marine, and when Pysa saw that I was worthy he bade me partake of the rituals that marked the transition from Novitae to Eratae. So it was that I became a true Angel of Death.

That was over a century ago. Pysa now lies on the soil of this Throne-damned world, his body rent apart by countless wounds inflicted by the Great Enemy. The dead lay around him in all directions, testiment to his glorious end, but I care not for that. There is still a breath of life in his body, and I cradle him in my arms begging him not to let go. He looks at me with his deep green eyes, now bloodshot and unfocused, and whispers my name in confusion. I grip his hand with my own, and he looks down at the contact. His eyes focus on the narthecium mounted on my arm.
"Brother... I am in pain."
I tell him it will be alright, but he does not believe me. I can see the anguish in his eyes - the terrible mix of agony and shame consuming him from within. He was instilled with a belief from his youngest days, as I was, that to die in battle was noble and glorious. There was no nobility in bleeding to death like this; no glory in being helpless to control your own destiny.

Chaplain Akal places a black-gauntleted hand on my shoulder. I sense the contact through my armour's neuro-interface and turn to face his helmet's rictus grin. Akal knows what must be done as much as I do. I am here as an Apothecary, to ensure Pysa's Gene-seed returns to the Chapter and that his legacy, our legacy, endures. When I am done with my bloody work, Akal will take away the body. He will perform the rites that ensure Pysa's soul finds its way to Terra. He will remove Pysa's armour, clean and bless it and return it with reverence to the Company Armourer. He will clean and bless Pysa's flesh before clothing him in silk robes and burning his remains on a pyre. Then he and the Archivist will compile the history of Pysa's deeds, storing them for all eternity in the archives on Tasal. In a way, in many ways, Pysa will live forever.

That brings me no comfort. Pysa was everything to me; father, teacher and friend. I have served beside him in countless battles both as a pupil and an equal. I cannot bear the thought of him not fighting by my side.
"Don't go." I say. My voice is hard yet not unkind, the words issued as an order to the dying man.
"It was a good day..." Pysa smiled at me, his gaze becoming distant. He was looking through me now - looking toward Terra.
"It was a good day. Don't go."
Something brings him back to this world. "My sword. I lost my sword."
The Chaplain steps forward, placing the chainsword into Pysa's free hand. "It is here." I say to him, my voice as calm as ever. "Stay with me. Stay here."
"It hurts to be here!" Pysa gasps, body shaking as vital organs fail. "Throne of Terra! It hurts, Brother!"
I look to the Chaplain. He knows what I am going to say. I know the answer to that question. To every question. There is no saving Pysa.
"Don't go." I tell him.
"Don't go." I ask him.
"Don't go."
But there's no-one left to listen.

I let go of his hand. The armoured gauntlet falls to the dry soil. His bolter lay nearby, and so I placed it in his grip. Then I cut his chest open, the Narthecium's blade perfectly designed for the task. The Progenitor recovered and stored for transport, I rise to face the Chaplain. He sees the tears in my eyes, sees the trembling in my stance. Pysa is gone, and I loved him too much to stand that.
"I will tend to him, Brother." Akal intones. "He will be remembered."
I should have screamed at that point. I should have howled for vengeance, shaken the world with promises of the pain and suffering I would bring to the enemies of Mankind. I should have been a font of rage and righteous anger. I was not. I nodded to the Chaplain, turning to recover my helm I had removed so as to look upon my friend face to face one last time. I stroked the long beak of the Corvus helm, recalling the pride I'd felt wearing it for the first time; pride mirrored in Pysa's eyes.

The helmet locked in place, and the sorrow vanished from my heart as if it was never there. My Battle Brothers were fighting out there, dying out there, and they looked to me to perform my duty. I returned to the waiting Thunderhawk, my mind drifting to the genetic legacy stored within the Narthecium's armoured heart - a boy of Tasal would be blessed with this Gene-seed, implanted and set upon the path to becoming an Angel of Death as I had long ago. I made a silent vow I would mentor that Novitae, as Pysa had mentored me.

There would be time for that later. There would be time to mourn later. There would be time for all things, later. For now, there was Duty.
"Farewell, Brother." I nodded to the Chaplain as I passed, but we both know the words were not for him.
Farewell, Kangaroo Joe, you shall not be forgotten.

Originally Posted by Tom Norman
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