Big Game VI – Chapter Seventeen: Fateful Words

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Intro  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  Epilogue

Gehn had fond memories of Morgail.  After the defeat on Iperin, he had been the first among Matthius’ cult of renegades to call him “Lord Gehn.”  Morgail had risked his safety to alert Gehn to enemy ambushes during the raids on Exian.  Gehn had spent many a long night confiding in Morgail, who had been fighting the long war for so much time, he no longer remembered which chapter he had been in before he came to the worship of the True Gods.  Morgail was the closest thing Gehn could count as a friend.

As Morgail levelled his bolter at The Boy, Gehn lashed out with his power fist.  The blow took Morgail completely by surprise, shattering the chestplate of his armour, and crushing his organs instantly.  Morgail’s ruined, lifeless body toppled into one of the many control consoles strewn about the remnants of the Command Center.

“MINE!” Gehn screamed with equal parts rage and joy.  “No one touches him but ME!”

Tension ran high among the remaining renegades surrounding the lone Loyalist.  Matthius’ cult was visibly on edge, their attention wavering between Gehn and their master.

“Yes.” Matthius’ soothing baritone confirmed.  “You have earned this joy, Lord Gehn.  The Gods reward those who serve them.  Take your prize.  Make him feel all you felt, crushed under the boot of your former masters.”  At Matthius’ command, the traitor Astartes relaxed and stepped back, clearing a space for Gehn.

Gehn let himself smile for the first time since he had chosen to walk among those unshackled by duty to a corpse.  He breathed in, audibly, and let out a long sigh of contentment.  The black laquer and bronze of his power fist gleamed with the dull reflections of the remaining lights in the room, like stars.  He flexed the fingers of the oversized fist, then pointed its index finger at The Boy.

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this.  Much longer than Iperin.  I’ve hated you since I saw your smirking, curly haired face on Altea, in one of those pathetic camps.  Did you know I was there, boy?  Did you know I slaughtered the Orks that ransacked your city and drove you to the ranks of your brothers?” Gehn’s voice was full of contempt.

The Boy said nothing.

“Look around you, boy.”  Gehn sneered.  “Your brothers lie in pieces.  You are going to die, unremarked, and failed, Captain.”  Gehn chuckled at his joke.

The Boy looked at his slain comrades.  Sorrow painted his face as he considered the dead Apothecary, and saw his green-fringed banner crumpled on the ground, stained with the blood of its bearer.  Something inside him seemed to steel itself, as The Boy raised his wicked twin-headed power axe, and held it in a readied stance.

Gehn barked a laugh.  “You think you can fight me?  ME?  You are dead, boy.  I have been slaying foes greater than you for DECADES before you even drew breath.  You have NOTHING!” Gehn shouted, his hate filling the air.  “Azure Flames protocol demands that in a situation like this, a captain would have called for reinforcements.  But you haven’t, have you?  HAVE YOU?” Gehn began advancing towards The Boy.  He kicked The Boy’s spent, broken plasma pistol at him.  The ruined weapon clattered across the debris-strewn floor of the command center.  The Boy’s eyes did not follow it.  His stare was only for Gehn.

“You KNOW!” Gehn screeched, building momentum.  “NO ONE is coming to help you!  You are going to die here.  Then, we will finally take control of this station and burn your pathetic Imperium to ASHES!”  Gehn’s advance slowed.  “Go on.” Gehn whispered in tones of the purest contempt.  “Call for help.  Or are you too brave for that?  Perhaps you can affirm your faith in a corpse, or call me a heretic.  It doesn’t matter.  Nothing you say will save you now.”  Gehn’s fist closed.

The Boy’s face softened.

“Gehn, I’m sorry.” He said.

Gehn felt both of his hearts skip a beat.  He had played this conversation in his head over and over.  He was prepared for cowardice, stoicism, faith, or even desperate heroism.

But not this.

“Wh… what?” Gehn’s whisper echoed through the silent shock of the room.

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