His pen scratched bone, the scalpel of Law excising Flesh.
The sound of it echoed through the high chamber, a lonely, dry sound.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mono sighed and rubbed a stone face with his hands,
dried out by solar winds and too many atrocities.
Another fifty signatures, lethal. The paperwork was murder.
His chair recoiled with a screech, and the man stood a stretched seven feet.
It seemed as if he had been drawn-out by rack and ruin, but instead of being broken by it, had grown infinitely more massive. He was almost not there, and as he shuffled from the pool of darkness surrounding the desk to a brilliant piercing shaft of white, falling from a divine skylight above, he appeared to phase through space, as if projected by intermittent, fragmentary film-reel. As he stood, eyes to the light, he muttered to himself, trancelike.
'What tortures of loneliness...'
'How long will my heart suffer under this?'
Three bangs boom on an iron door, and it breaks the glaze.
'Enter', and he trails back to corporeal concerns.
The Boy entered, and Mono steeled himself against the Wash, breaking through the pain barrier. He was a Culexus reject, who had escaped from the Temple under unclear circumstances, and according to files pertaining to his willing capture and unduly pleasant interrogation, had been living on the Planet for forty years, quite literally. He had been waging a terror campaign against the Hollow Ones, those Non-Borns, indiscriminate killings and blood sprayed on ceilings where knives separated heads and suppurated atrial septum. A smiling, pleasant, killer.
He was of the opinion that the Non-Borns were not human, lacking the ability to reproduce and lacking some divine spark, some soul, some phantom quintessence. He knew he was human, and considered himself put here for some special purpose. He had adapted to the air and could subsist on life-force and simple Brown Sugar. He spoke of mad things inside the planet, embodiments of human soul, tortured fragments of Truth and Love, echoes of machine and mainline, but most of all, he felt a great connection with the evil of the place. He took his substance from it.
Mono was intrigued and ordered an audience with the Boy.
His name was D.
In his face was the ghost of Di, perhaps some overdub of the soul.
Mono was transfixed by him.
He had found Di's vacant brother.
And he was eternally young, as long as he had soul.
'Mind in if I fix here?'
Mono was still out.
'Yeah, sure, go ahead.'
Mono watched from the desk, his hands steepled in front of his mouth.
He watched the youth cook up, in every movement an echo of Di.
He took the syringe and drew amber.
'But a brief Cure from this terrible Condition.'
The needle punches through vein on tourniquet arm, a tiny blossom of blood before he pushes the bulb and it disappears, vacuumed by hungry junk flesh, the H metabolism. The blood shoots from arm to heart, up the droppers neck and flood the brain. 'A little more time...' Sighs and fades through the floor '... in the hourglass.'
A junky, a beautiful junky.
Anomien to the core.
A little later, Charles rattled in with the tea.
Thirty-five years of faithful mechanical service.
He had worked in a factorum back on Anomie, obsessed by his job, and to support his family. He worked overtime for a better wage, and eventually had his hands replaced as he needed to be more efficient. Next were obsolete organs, replaced, a stainless steel spine, metal cogitator and so on until he had integrated fully with the machine. By then, the old metal presser was obsolete, and Charles himself was thrown onto the scrap heap along with the machine he had devoted himself to. His starving wife and child were given the scrap price for him.
Rusting out in a back alley where he had dragged himself, and dying in a pool of machine oil. Mono came across him and repaired him, taking him onto in his retinue.
Charles was ever grateful, and bore his standard into battle, and served the Man himself.
D had been taken away, and Mono was drifting amongst old memories, his Master and 'The Work' chiefly. Charles knew when the man was not to be disturbed, and left the tray there with a nod. Mono was alone again, and behind him the daemon weapon rattled in its scabbard. The Telic Knife, only ever a means to an end, never forget that. A Phase sword, embedded within was the smallest fragment of star gods. He was told to never touch it, yet the master disobeyed his own commands. Mono's thoughts turned to betrayal, evisceration, and then once more to Di, and the Pact made with the Planet.
But first, back, back into the ether of Time...
He was young then, barely fresh from street life, let alone command of a platoon. He was an Acolyte, indentured to the Inquisitor T. He had doubts.
Please pray specifically for me, that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself- for there is such a terrible darkness within me, as if everything were dead. It has been like this more or less since the beginning of 'The Work.'
'Feelings are not required and often may be misleading in this line of Work.'
'Learn to read them, and discard them.'
'Yes, my Lord.'
And what was had for troubles?
A Knife, and a knife in the back.
Empty, broken, hollow and falling.
They all died a little that day.
Another hammering on the door.
The next guest.
++++++END PART ONE++++++
'It was simply question of balance.'
Null shifted uneasily in his chair, Mono high on the dais, hands behind his back, taking a slow, measured pace.
'It would be unnatural if they did not fall'
'There must be order, whether man-made or divine.'
'It was never a question or good or evil, it was reason or insanity.'
Null gave up trying to follow and bit off hangnails, then drummed fingers on the vast expanse of armoured gullet. The diatribe trickled through, and he raised his head.
'...Chaos gods mean just that, gods of unreasoned thinking and disorder. No respect for the clean and dispassionate. Our world was weak, it slipped and it fell. This is an opportunity to make new life, a golden society, free from disorder.'
'New life sir? On a death world?'
The soldiers are tense, and you know we don't spook easy.
Eldar attacks keep hittin' hard, and we can't replace our losses.
With all due respect sir (which meant fuck you), even with the support of your uh...'
'Benefactors. Go on.'
Null was under orders not to mention the Commander's Inquisitorial ties.
...Benefactors, we can't make a life here.
It's insanity. All the pills in the world won't make them stay.
'And sir... you know that too, don't you?'
Mono had his back turned and was looking out the porthole, his face reflected in the glass, a pale ghost staring through a mirror into Null.
'I am planning great things, Major Null.
'You are free to leave'
A rough scrape, heavy footsteps and a door slamming.
He was gone.
The airlock hissed open, and Mono's lungs filled with searing screaming air.
His vision swam with white noise and static, and he collapsed to his knees. He balled his fists against the excruciations of cold, gritting his teeth so hard they cracked, refusing to go for the emergency oxygen. He forced breaths into protesting lungs with titanic effort and stood against the universe, eyes torn to twirling misanthropic pulsars as the rogue planet passed through dead space. Alveoli burst with strain, but the air was breathable.
He would walk twenty meters to an outcrop, and look over the land, his land.
Every footstep was a struggle, but he set foot on the highest point that he could reach, and looked outwards. i've changed it...
Small moulds and algae bloomed beneath his foot, and a vast forest of razorweed broke down barren hateful rock into breadcrumbed soil. They had been terraforming the planet for fifty years, and it had crossed the threshold between death and life. This was not necromancy, as far as they could ascertain, Nihil had been dead for aeons, an airless, lost moon. ...for the better.
What were the deaths of a few hundred thousand clones?
His new generation would breath, the culmination of 'The Work', once the inner wall of the planet had been pierced. Di's own brother would see to that. and lead me back to her, where i had left her all those years ago... He turned to leave, rime crusting a smile and tears of joy frozen to eyelashes.
this is as it should be!
Inside, heart defrosted but still feeling the chill, Mono converses with Herr Ober.
'And that's all it can say?'
The two mean seated around a low table, slightly worse for wear.
The haze of dubious smokes hangs around them, and a half drained bottle of loqua on the table, a bucket of crushed ice and a dropper full of milk.
'Nihil! Nihil in intellectu! Nihil! Nihil! Nihil in intellectu!'
The good doctor took his cocaine.
He petted the augmetic-stuffed parrot on his shoulder, which hummed slightly.
'Well, what's the rest of the memory taken up with?'
Mono lay on the stuffed couch, and his head rolled back.
Clicking his fingers, the room suddenly erupts in a storm of whipping laser- and autopistol fire, the bird distended by several weapons at once. The cacophony ceases, and Mono, smoking slightly, gives a low whistle.
'Impressive. Ever kill anyone with it?'
'No, but usually the shock and awe of it lets me pull a runner, or stick a scalpel in somebody's eye.' They both laugh.
The Doctor sighed.
'We're having fertility problems.'
'You and the wife or-'
'The whole damn planet. We need more incentives, less front-line duty, better radiation shielding. The diet helps, but a cocktail of drugs doesn't.'
'Can I ask a direct question? How long are we planning to stay here?'
He says nothing, preferring to look at the ceiling.
He gets up, and walks to his private corners, beyond the desk, beyond the dais, beyond the people and beyond the Planet. Up the steps and and Herr Ober tries to call him back.
His naval door rings shut.
Mono stands alone in the inner sanctum, ankle deep in grass.
A few marble headstones rise up from the green, and he caresses them.
A scythe leans against the wall. His most sacred possession had born fruit, a single sod of Anomien turf, kept through 15 years, through storm and hellfire, through the warp and finally to here. The grass had chosen life at all costs, and so would he. He thought of the young Commissar, and in him, perhaps, he saw a protégé.
And again, in a lonely green womb, he felt the world move.
They would all walk in green fields once more.
Every single last one.