A random story by a sleep-deprived anon. moderately interesting.
The old officer didn't. Years of training and muscle memory conspired to wheel his arm around and level his bolt-pistol on its next target.
He was startled, however, when he saw the angry red light of the shot that would kill him. The world remained frozen as he stumbled out of himself. His body didn't move. The world didn't move. The fatal bolt didn't move. A shell from his bolter remained fixed in its tumble to earth, a beautiful pirouette of smoke marking its trajectory.
Circling the scene, he had to admire the angle. The shot would hit him right through his eyepiece. And that was when he felt the presence. Overpowering and coming from everywhere at once. He knew at once it was what had frozen this moment. And he knew at once it was of Chaos.
You know what I am. It wasn't a question.
I have watched you. I have not come to tempt you in this moment of mortality. You do not fear your own death. I know you are loyal to your Emperor. You will not turn from him for anything I can offer.
No, I cannot sway you. But I still have an offer for you.
He remained silent. The voice continued, each word seeming to reverberate through him.
Your life has been one of war. You were conscripted in your childhood, sent to die time and again, daring the front lines on a dozen worlds. Neither wounds nor age have slowed you.
"I do my duty."
Yes... you do.
You know what I represent. The countless battles you've fought, in not one have you faltered. You felt fear and overcame it through force of will. You cared for the soldiers under your command. Without hesitation you have laid your life on the line for that of your race.
You have served with honor.
It sounded like an officer at an award ceremony, now.
If you will agree to serve my ends, I will intercede and save your life. You would not need to join my flock.
You would not even need to do anything different.
"You know I can't trust you. You could be lying...or an agent of the Changer."
I could. But...that is the sort of maneuvering Tzeentch favors. There is little deception in me.'
The ways have changed. Less and less desperates turn to Chaos as the eons go by. Though your technology stagnates, its employment has been most effective. Things need to change for our continued survival. I need to change. Chaos as it is, is dying. Does that please you?
It did, but he listened quietly.
You are the first I offer this boon, but you will not be the last, whatever you decide.
And, with some satisfaction, it added I think not even your Changer will anticipate this.
Wherever you have gone, you have answered the call to war. In your wake you leave only bodies. You know war, but you know honor, as I have said. As long as you live, you will continue to fight, continue to kill. Traitors, aliens, 'heretics...' it matters not. Exalt your Emperor. Fight with distinction as you always have.
The voice fell silent. There was a long, long quiet. He thought.
"What must I do?"
One day you will die and your soul will be mine...but that day will not come for a long time, I think. You serve both our ends while you live. Speak the words, and be returned.
Sweeping over the preserved second one more time, he looked from face to face. The hate in the eyes of the enemy. Desperation and determination in his men. Fear in all of them. And like the eye of the storm, his own weathered countenance in the middle, illuminated by the flash of his gun.
He had so much more he could do. Rally his men, take this planet, then this sector. Beat them back to the warp storm they flew in from and leave shattered fleets orbiting it as a grim warning to those who would try again. And that was just to start...
Say the words.
Time resumed its flow.
Report on the defense of Alstaire, Sanctus system of Segmentum Tempestus.
Casualties high, but tolerable. Enemy routed, remnants likely amassing for continued assault (see Scouting Report 15562; attached). Governor and Force Commander wounded on front lines; of note is his survival of an almost certainly fatal wound. A brass casing from his bolt-pistol chanced to very slightly redirect and absorb part of the laser shot, causing his eyepiece to take the full impact. Though this wargear was rendered utterly inoperable, and indeed, the Governor has lost the use of that eye, it is doubtlessly a miracle of the God-Emperor that he is not only alive, but fit to return to the battle almost immediately.
Thought for the day: Success is measured in blood; yours or your enemy´s.