Chants and the slow chime of bells echoed into the balcony from the pews below. Teufel felt bile rise within him. He was sick of churches; even ones as heretical as this. The foul xenos halfbreed beside him looked down upon the masses within the makeshift chapel in serene reverence. Teufel’s instinct told him to snap the hybrid’s neck and hurl himself from the shrouded balcony, landing amongst the infested below and slaughtering them. They were all hideous mutants, deserving only death. However, if he did so, his master Gorath would be disappointed.
Teufel would not survive that disappointment long.
“Know joy, unbeliever,” the bizarre xenos halfbreed beside him said, looking at the masses below with serenity. “You are the first outsider that has ever been gifted with the sight you are about to see.”
Teufel stood silently, ignoring the feeble beast’s words. That he had been sent to treat with these half-wit cultists was bad enough. Being proselytized to was almost unbearable. His wings, folded behind him, reflexively stretched, as if anticipating the slaughter Teufel desired. He suppressed a sigh. It was of no use. There would be no violence tonight. Teufel cursed Gorath for sending him on such a base errand. He knew the weight of the plan Gorath had shared with him, and it was not the first time necessity had required him to deal with unworthy allies. However, he had served as Gorath’s right hand for a hundred centuries, by mortal reckoning. This was beneath him.
He swore to make Gorath pay for this indignity, as he would so many others. Soon, he thought. Very soon.
The lights in the chapel faded, but Teufel’s enhanced senses could see through the dark lace curtain with perfect clarity. The creature beside him bowed its bulbous ridged head, chanting in tongues. Its third arm made a gesture with its unseemly claws as its other two arms were clasped in prayer. Robed acolytes below lit candles, illuminating the chapel with a tender, flickering glow. Above the altar, a symbol of gold shone dimly in the reflected light. It was little more than a set of jaws with a tail.
Teufel averted his eyes from it. All this worship, all of this reverence. Base, mortal things, emotions with no purpose and no conviction. It disgusted him. Damn Gorath for sending him here. Damn him for his petty suspicions and insults. The servos in his gauntlets whined almost inaudibly as he clenched his fists.
Two more robed acolytes entered from behind the altar. Unlike the simple purple robes worn by the others, these were more ornate, embroidered in red and gold. Between them, they carried a palanquin no bigger than a case of bolter rounds, shrouded with pure white lace. Reverently, they set it upon the altar, removing the metal bars supporting it. A stand within clicked loudly as one of them tipped the palanquin forward, exposing the top. Teufel leaned forward, his curiosity overcoming his hatred. The second acolyte motioned, and the congregation fell to their knees.
The lace fell away, revealing an infant within the palanquin. Teufel felt his gorge seize. The child was an abomination. Its skin was the same pale purple of the thing prostrating itself beside him, but where his minder had one extra clawed arm, this child had two. Further, its head was swollen, covered not just with the ridges that others had, but hideous pulsing blue veins, and creases indicative of a brain unbound by the protection of a skull. Its eyes shone with an unholy yellow-green light.
Then it spoke.
“I-am-the-voice-of-the-All-fa-ther.” It said in a high pitched monotone. Its syllables were rhythmic, as if it were singing tunelessly. “Through-me-the-will-of-a-cen-sion-is-known.”
“Our lives for the Allfather…” the masses replied.
“Our-pur-pose-is-to-serve-the-All-fa-ther. By-our-works-will-he-be-man-i-fest-on-this-world.” it continued.
“We await the coming glory of the Allfather.” the congregation once more replied. Teufel sighed. Ceremony. It was so… undignified.
“There-is-one-a-mong-us-who-does-not-hear-the-voice-of-the-All-fa-ther-come-for-ward-non-be-lie-ver-and-know-the-joy-of-true-be-lon-ging.” it said, croaking near the end as its voice exceeded its infantile lungs. In response, the crowd gasped.
Teufel saw movement and a glint of gold in the hand of one of the audience members. Instinctively, he flung himself from the balcony, flaring out the black curtains that hid his hulking armoured form from the congregation. His target stood, leaving his false third arm to clatter to the ground with the unmistakable sound of plastek hitting concrete. He drew a pistol with his left hand, aiming for the altar.
Teufel’s leathery wings unfolded with a familiar snap. Despite their wingspan, their daemonic nature supported the bulk of his power armour, propelling him across the space of the chapel with alacrity. As the supposed assassin drew bead on the altar, Teufel was there, crushing an unfortunate mutant. The assassin’s arm made a sickening snap as Teufel broke the bone. A bar of red light seared upwards, cracking through the poorly maintained ceiling and bringing a rain of dust. The pistol clattered to the floor. Teufel shook his head. Aiming with one hand was foolish. Then he noticed what was in the man’s other hand.
A deadman’s switch wired to his chest.
With a superhuman roar, Teufel awkwardly flung the man by his broken arm into the pews near the back of the chapel. Slower acolytes failed to get out of the way as the man’s flailing limbs knocked them to the ground. Teufel fell backwards, anticipating the explosion. What he did not anticipate was the wave of bodies that had swarmed the altar. Monstrous hybrids flung their hideous bodies between the child on the altar and the rest of the chapel.
A shockwave tore through the room, sending shrapnel and gore into the air. Splinters of pews rained down, and screams rose up. Shards of metal made bright blooms of purplish blood spurt from the living shield that covered the altar. Bodies fell with dull, wet thuds.
Teufel pushed himself upright, brushing debris from the bare ceramite of his power armour. At his feet was the pistol. It was matte black, coated in rubber, and studded with devices meant to baffle weapon detectors. However, one detail shone out through the black: the gold and red of an Inquisitorial Rosette. Teufel snarled. If these fools had brought the Inquisition down on their heads…
Teufel picked up the pistol with his thumb and forefinger, as if it were a filthy rag. He turned, holding it so the Rosette was clearly visible to the altar. “It seems your security was lacking.” he said with absolutely no mirth.
The crowd around the bulbous-headed child dispersed as it spoke.
“…and if I had been a moment slower?” Teufel sneered.
“I-was-nev-er-in-an-y-dan-ger. These-men-serve-the-All-fa-ther-through-me.” It chimed emotionlessly.
Teufel snorted in disbelief. He let the pistol clatter to the floor once more. “I tire of this, child. I did not come here for theatrics; I came to secure your service to the IVth Legion. Show me to your master. This ‘Cha-Dawn.’”
“You-are-mis-tak-en. I-am-Cha-Dawn. I-am-the-voice-of-the-All-fa-ther.”
Teufel narrowed his eyes and growled with impatience. “My master did not send me to parley with a child.”
“You-do-not-be-lieve. How-ev-er-be-lief-is-not-nec-ess-ary.” The infant gestured at the crowd. “Re-joice-and-sub-mit-to-the-will-of-the-All-fa-ther.”
Teufel followed the creature’s gesture. Every foul half-breed that survived the explosion prostrated themselves before the palanquin, chanting. “Cha-Dawn. Cha-Dawn. Cha-Dawn.” They knelt, lowering their heads to the floor stained purple with the blood of their brethren. What madness had Gorath entangled him in now?
“Continue, then,” Teufel growled. “Cha-Dawn.” The child nodded.
“We-have-need-of-you-and-you-have-need-of-us. We-a-gree-to-the-terms-of-your-Lord-Gor-ath. In-re-turn-we-re-quire-on-ly-one-thing…” as it continued, Teufel purposely relaxed his facial muscles, attempting to keep his surprise and disgust from showing. Teufel was uncertain Gorath could procure what these wretched mutants asked. However, if Gorath failed, he would be in a position of weakness…
“Agreed.” Teufel said, with the first smile he expressed in decades. “Tell your followers to begin preparations immediately. I will bring word to my master, and he will procure that which you seek.”