The Only Wars

The Inevitable Sleep

It didn't work

“…Mom? Dad?” There they stood, behind him. He knew they were there, he could feel them. His hometown exactly as he left it. The refinery building off in the distance, rising above the residential habs and smoke billowed out of the massive stacks dimming the burning sun. The cars and carriages sat empty along the sides of the road. He stood in the center plaza of the merchant district, and yet the only other person with him that he could see was the tall statue of a Space Marine.

“How’s your work?” said the soft voice of his Mother, just over his shoulder as she would do when she sneak into his bedroom. Often catching him procrastinating his homework.

He spun, but was greeted by an empty street. Down the road was the school. It sat silent, the lights were off and it was covered in the ash from the refinery. The bell rang.

“See you tonight for dinner.” His father always told him that as they would part ways for the day. The smoke in the air thickened. It grew dark. Emil closed his eyes, he could hear the footfalls of workman’s boots and laughter of children.

Opening his eyes he saw the massive doors were open. A figure moved inside. Vanishing inside the gaping maw. Emil began to run the 8 long blocks to the refinery. The sky grew darker and darker as he approached. A deep red light shown through the sporadic windows across the Gothic edifice. Bursts of flame erupting from the smoke stacks and exterior piping. His chest burned.

Lurching to a stop in the factory, the doors behind him slammed shut. Then with a mechanical click, locked. Sweat began coating his skin from the heat. It was blisteringly hot in the building. Rusted mechanical equipment surrounded his ever narrowing hallways. “One day you’ll be working here,” rang the voice of his father from the vox speakers on the wall. It was metallic and distant, “it’s a hard life, but it’s a good life in the service of the…” a gurgled static cutting him short.

Colored lines lead down the different hallways. The blue line lead to a passageway labeled offices. There were dusty windows lining the hallway, he could see movement behind the ash. Approaching cautiously, he checked the first one. Brushing away the soot and cupping his hands around his eyes he peered inside.

The room before him was immense and it appeared he was on the 2nd or 3rd floor looking down. Black figures stood in parade formation. Another figure walked up and down the line. From this distance though he couldn’t make out much.

With his eyes closed and the ear to the degraded window, he could hear better. It sounded like the speech the Geno’s Commander gave the first day the Runners had arrived to the flotilla. Though it was garbled and sounded like the words were being mixed up.

“Regiment First.” crackled the speakers.

Emil jumped back. A ghastly visage of his commander fading from the window. Disappearing with a grin. He stood there staring at the window.

A body slammed into the cracked tile floor in front of him. It let out a heavy moan and clutched at its chest. “Sarge!” Emil exclaimed. Then ran to his commander’s aid. Charred flesh, muscle and bone showed in the center of his chest.

Slowly a deep chuckle came from the vox speakers. Faydra stood several feet away, lasgun still smoking in her hands. A halo of light encircling her smiling face. “One by one the rest of your family will die.” Crackled the vox speakers. “All in the name of the… *static*” Faydra was glad in golden armor, holy symbols emblazoned across it.

Looking down, Emil discovered his mother in his arms. Her skin burnt and scarred, but it was her. Then she began to change, or face shifted to Emil’s father. The face kept changing, though each one was burnt and scarred. “You did not save them.” rumbled the speakers.

“Fuck you! You leave my family alone!” Shouted Emil. Leveling his plasma pistol. The whirl of his particle chargers igniting. He kept his finger on the charger.

Lowering the gun and standing up Faydra opened herself to be shot. Emil tensed on the trigger, “Why? Why’d you do it?”

Only silence.

Depressing the trigger, Emil tensed for the heated back blast. Nothing. Then the gun crumbled to dust in his shaking hand. “Because that is my wish.”

Faydra’s face had disappeared and was replaced by Roth’s. The bastard who threatened to kill them for doing their jobs. Inquisitorial symbols covered his golden plate. The plasma pistol sat firmly in his hand. It fired, once, twice, again and again.

Emil let out a gasp and bolted upright in bed. Covered in sweat he found himself in the small tent given to his bunk rotation.

“Emil? Are you okay?” Said a crackled voice from above him. “Was it that dream again?”

“Yeah.”

The face of his new comrade, Solomon, lowered from the above bunk. His often smiling face was plagued with concern. “You might want to talk to Noelle about this.” spoke his mechanical voice. The vox speaker implanted into his scarred eye socket. Swinging down from his top bunk, he snagged Emil his bottle of Amasec.

“This was Notch’s,” Emil took a swig from the bottle.

“Ain’t good resting on the dead like that. Bring bad luck and spirits.” Solomon sat down next to Emil and took a drink.

“We can’t just forget them either, else they’ll be gone forever.”

Solomon shrugged. “From how I hear it the Emperor crackle watches over the dead.”

They sat in silence, for some time. The steps of boots of the muddied ground and distant cannon shots punctuated Emil’s night time requiem. Patting Emil’s knee, Solomon jumped gracefully into his top bunk.

“Get some sleep, brother.crackle I hear we got work crackle tomorrow.” Spoke the vox speaker. “The Trickster god watches over us. Sleep well.”

Screwing on the cap, Emil slunk back into bed muttering, “Emperor protects the regiment first.”

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