No longer shall I hear the war cries of my battle brothers. If cannot hear them, then none shall hear mine, forsaken as I am by the God-Emperor.
Five companies, and but one sole survivor. I cannot believe what I see. Once again I look across the fields of death. The enemy utterly destroyed. Devastation surrounds the bodies of my brothers, the wall breached, and inside the fortress I know there are others. I have checked every single one. Forty nine comrades dead, worse I cannot retrieve the geneseed, that which would allow us to be reborn.
This is when I spot them, the Imperial Guard, sitting smugly in their vehicles, chatting happily. There is talk of a war well won, light casualties, then they refer to my chapter, my battle brothers whose bodies remain strewn at the forlorn hope.
One of the guard is bending over one of my brothers, I see his stinking hands touch the sacred armaments of the Astartes. My Vow of silence forbids me to shout a warning, however the crack of the bolter startles carrion beasts that are flocking to the dead. He turns, and others look to see what has broken the silence of peace after the battle. The bolt hits the guard in the centre of his face, the bolter in his hand flies into the air and all eyes are following the bolter to where it lands. The guard look agog at me, horror and fear in their eyes. Not smug now are they.
I walk to the bolter and return it to my dead brother’s hand. The filth won’t touch the blessed arms of the Astartes now.
There is no honour now. I was made to kill, kill with my squad, kill for the God-Emperor, slay the xenos, the rebels and the insidious chaos. This was the workings of chaos. A small rebellion, easily quashed if the Arbites had done their job properly. They of course blamed the governor; they said he didn’t want to make things worse so they sat back. It festered. It grew. Then the Daemon came. How many died because of this Governor. Too many. If but one marine died it was a tragedy, but forty nine!
I gathered the bodies of my brothers, and my heart was joyous at the kill tally around their bodies. I would burn them, remove the taint of this world, they would be released to join the Emperor, He who would not take me. I feel shame, there is no honour in this victory.
The Guard avoid me, and with good reason. If any get in my way they will die, these rites, the final time I consider them, the last time I will recite them in my mind, for my vow forbids any utterance, and once this ritual is complete I shall no longer have any brothers, no chapter, and no rituals.
I will Kill as I was bred to do, and may my enemies know fear.
The fire is cathartic. I am released by it, and my understanding of what I must do now.
I head to the battle headquarters, all eyes are upon me. I know some want to shoot, I see it in their readiness, but none have the nerve.
The tent is guarded by two imperial soldiers, and I see they consider whether to stop me entering the head quarters, wisely they choose not to.
The Governor begins to speak, uttering praises on my old chapter, their deeds not in vain, talk of a memorial. However he stammers as I point my bolter at him. He calls to the guards, offers monies riches to those who stop me, but none will intercede.
His final heresy is accusations that I have been tainted, my choler truly breaks, and the decision is made, a single shot through the stomach. Guts, intestine, blood splattered bits of lungs fall from the six inch whole in his body. I move to stand over him, I watch him die in pain. Guards have entered behind me, and I feel weapons trained on me, my suit is already plotting a kill sequence. None fire though. Time passes slowly as the Governor calls out in pain, crying for aid, his words getting fainter as his life blood pools about him. I watch him try and push his intestine back into his body, hands slipping as they become more and more coated in blood and ichor.
His eyes finally close, and silence pervades the room.
I hear the general then, maybe he has been speaking, “So where to Marine?”
I look at him, this general doesn’t show fear. He knows I did what was right. I look upwards.
The general nods, “That was well done marine, the man was a fool.”
There is only one place I can go, only one place where I can seek redemption, one final task to complete before I embark on the last stage of my journey.
I find the armour paint. Black. With great care I paint the shoulder pauldron black. With my separation from my chapter complete, I board the transport destined to take me on the final leg of my journey.
The Watch Captain greets me, asking me questions, I answer none. He asks for a name, but I cannot speak. I point to my left shoulder, my old squad number VII is painted there.
He understands, “You shall be known as Septimus, welcome to the Deathwatch, may your final death bring you honour.”