A short story by Billy about Theadorus, his character from our Dark Heresy Campaign. Please enjoy.
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His Mother always screamed like an angel in his dream.
Alexandros Theadorus’ eyes snapped open as the ship shuddered through the damnation known as the Warp. How long he had been sleeping was unknown- though, when traveling the Warp, time lost meaning.
“Illuminate,” he mumbled as he sat up in his chair, wiping the drowsiness from his face before standing fully. The lights took a second before finally flickering on, showing off the meager quarters he’d been forced to accept on his voyage.
The ship’s hull groaned in the distance, the vessel shaking as Theadorus moved through his room, plucking up discarded garments and data pads. Cleanliness was instinctual when he awoke, one of Father’s many lessons that were hinted on the skin of his back. He tosses his clothing into the proper bin, placed the pads in their proper order, and began working the creases from his shirt before halting.
His Mother was staring at him again.
Not his real mother. No, Theadorus had lost her years ago to the Xenos and her own ignorance.
The Tau’s corruptions.
He moved to the nightstand and plucked up the image screen. Mother in white. Taken on some Paradise World that she was so blinded with.
Theadorus had spent many nights staring at the picture, trying to recall the details of her so not to allow the memory fade.
And yet, it had
But never her scream, oddly enough.
The scream he heard when he was a child coming from his Father’s chamber when he had found Mother’s messages to other Tao supporters. Or when she misspoke during a dinner party, voicing her belief of a possible ‘Greater Good’ beyond that of what the Emperor offered.
Oh, he recalled her scream quite well. It never faded.
He took a moment to stare at the image, once again trying to force the memories that remained to solidify and remain as they were.
He was sure it didn’t work.
He set the image back into place, adjusted the angle of it, and then moved off. Passing his noble robes, he instead decided to don a simple vest and gloves with last night’s shirt and slacks. The vest to remind the Lessers that he was still of noble heritage and the gloves to hide his hands.
Another lesson his Father gifted him with.
The shipped shuddered again before giving a slight buck to the side. He looked up at this, his brows furrowing in annoyance before moving off.Theadorus reached out, snatching the bulkhead above him before pushing off towards the door.
The Warp Storm was proving to be a spiteful one.
Outside in the corridor, technicians moved with the timing of clock work, each focusing their attention of their job and nothing more. Theadorus moved passed them, ducking his head as he moved through the hatch and towards the elevator.
And just as the door opened, the maelstrom slammed into the vessel. The ship lurched, the lights flickered, and somewhere in the distance, an alarm began to blare. Steam billowed from cracked pipes, the floor panels shuddering as he tried to brace himself once more.
He stumbled back, the overhead lighting flashing once before switching to a reddish tint.
And another wave hit, sending him into the nearby wall. His head collided with the wall and for a moment, his eyes failed to achieve sight. A buzzing took the place of the alarm, and for a moment, he simply sat their on his kneels, blinking as the ship continued to be tossed in the wave of the Warp.
Hands. Hands on his shoulders. Pulling him up. Pulling him to his feet.
Sight finally returned and he was greeted with the sight of a Lesser. A female technician. Perhaps beautiful if her nose had been set straight after a disciplinary action. Perhaps beautiful still in Lesser opinions.
“Sir- Are you alright?” she asked as Theadorus straightened himself up, pulling away from her unclean hands.
“Explain or get back to your station,” he spoke through the darkness and buzzing.
Was the buzzing getting louder? He cracked his jaw, shaking his head, before turning his head towards the elevator. The buzzing was coming from…
If not for his Father’s lessons, he wouldn’t have discovered that the buzzing was not from his head at all. If not for his lessons and scars, he would have been too slow to avoid the swarm of… energy?
If not for all the tears and broken bones, he would have been too slow and perhaps the technician that had stopped to help him would have lived to escape.
Instead, his hand snatched her elbow, pulling her in front of him as the buzzing struck from the darkness of the elevator. Pushing her into the energy, the woman barely had time to scream before her body rose up by an unseen force and slammed violently from ceiling to floor.
Theadorus’ eyes were wide as he watched as the Warp energy ravished and defiled the woman’s body.
Blood splattered. Bones slapped. Screams and pleas.
She didn’t sound a thing like his mother…
He ran. Simple as that and without courage. He stumbled through the corridor as the energy of the warp twisted the metal around him. Technicians swam around him, trying to push their way through the hatchway and away from the horrors behind him. For a few unlucky ones, he caught hold of their shoulders and tossed them back to delay the creature.
He fell through the corridor as something – a tentacle? – swept overhead and snatched someone just in front of him. The man’s voice was only evident for a few seconds before turning wet and faded. Theadorus chanced a glance behind him as he tried climbing to his feet.
The energy from early had transformed now. Instead of plasma, it was more fleshy. It’s tentacles held several of the ship crew, they screaming as the very flesh from their bodies seemed to dry out and travel the length of the tentacle and into the creature’s body. Small tumors bubbled along the creature’s belly, popping open only to allow for more appendages to appear from them.
Abomination. A word that could only describe it and yet not do it justice.
Theadorus got to his feet and slammed a hand into the hatch’s panel. With the sound of metal scraping against metal, it slid down at what seemed like an elder’s pace. And just as it was sealed, another tentacle found a way to get between it. With might not witnessed by him before, the appendage squirmed and pulled, the door slowly being pulled back upwards.
He ran. With no weapons and armor- Hell, without a squadron of Marines, such a fight was a useless one. Overhead, the speakers boomed with orders for security and sanctuary. These lasted only a moment before the voice suddenly broke into a gleeful cackle before a shot was heard and a thump.
The air in the corridor filled with fumes and everyone stumbled half blind towards… anywhere, mostly. Perhaps they were heading towards the bridge, perhaps security. Or perhaps they were all just searching for a place away from the terror that was taking the ship a deck at a time.
Theadorus reached out ahead of him as the bellows grew deeper, taking hold of the shoulder in front of him. The fumes were blinding- He could barely breath. And occasionally, shadows would dart at his sides, smaller than children with hands that ended with claws. Screams ahead of him, screams behind him. Screams.
Theadorus twisted around, letting go of the body in front of him (Or was it torn away from him?) as a familair scream filled his ears. A scream that had haunted him from childhood to adult. A scream of such broken innocence that had remained so vivid to him.
Down a corridor. Leading away from possible safety.
Someone brushed past him as he tried to force his eyes to see through the sting in the air. A few people even stopped to try to get him to continue moving- warning of creatures in the mist and how they had to keep going. At one point, a pilot had grabbed his wrist only to be pulled sharply upward by a set of clawed hands.
Drips of blood dribbled downward onto his head as he stared at the corridor.
“Mother?” he finally called out as he took his first step towards the voice. Several more people ran into him but he pushed them aside. He continued forward, his hand held outward to feel for any obstacles in front of him.
His hands finally found the corner and he pulled his way into the new hall as weapons fire discharged down the corridor he had just been in. Laughter- human laughter followed before more las-energy was dispensed.
He didn’t care.
He stumbled through the mist, hands feeling along the wall as he made his way towards the scream. Past the corpses and past the crouching creatures he could barely make out.
He found himself at another junction. He spun around, trying to follow the scream once more before something grabbed his boot firmly. His attention snapped downward only to find a servant girl, bloodied and desperate.
“Please, sir! Don’t leave-”
Her voice was cut off as something yanked on her legs, dragging her into the nearby vent. Her cries were cut off by the suddenly crunch that followed shortly after.
He watched in numb curiosity for a moment before his attention was drawn back towards his mother’s voice again. To the left.
He half stumbled, half ran through the corridors, following the scream. And each time he grew near, it never seemed to be around the corner or just below the stairs. It always seemed just far away to keep him moving.
Chaos. Blood. Screams not of his mother. People begging. People dying around him. Limbs missing bodies and bodies missing limbs.
He just continued moving deeper into the ship. Deeper into the vessel that wasn’t as he remembered it. Corridors he had never traveled and through rooms that looked as if they had been just started but instead of steal and iron, bones and blood were used. He walked from reality to nightmare and back, following the siren’s call.
And then he found her.
She sat in front of a console more beautiful than he could have recalled. Still in white. Still smiling at him as if he was but a child still. Still as untouched as he had tried to remember he as.
Near her was a body, an engineer draped over a device with his spine partially ripped from his back.
“Alexandros,” she spoke as she stood up. “I come to you looking how I did as I died.”
He blinked and remained still, mouth a gape as his mother made her way towards him. Cold hands touched his shoulders before she leaned forward, brushing her lips against his cheek.
All familiar. All too familiar.
“He was almost done. Connect the red wire to the coil.”
And with that, she stepped past him and out of his view. He spun quickly, reaching out to swipe her arm. To pull her back and demand to know how this was all possible.
Nothing. His hands found nothing. As did his eyes. He was the only one there, standing in a puddle of blood and surrounded by the shadows. Hisses sounded overhead, and lights blinked wildly as more and more systems seemed to buckle under the pressure and fail.
And yet, he didn’t care. He just remained staring at nothingness. His mind felt as if it had just trespassed on a dream, his mother’s look and words fading.
She had looked so… beautiful? Innocent. Clear of crime. No blood on her body as he had seen in the crime images he tortured himself with for years as he tried to solve her murder. And she had spoken. She had said…
His head snapped towards the device as a small explosion rocked the ship. That blind abandonment that had led him down here had been replaced with a hunger for life. He was not a puppet of childhood fantasies any longer. Grabbing the body on top of the device, he tossed it to the side before leaning forward and examining the work.
He had no idea what it was. He was an Arbiter of the Emperor, not a Techmage.
He saw wires poking from the thing’s opening. The lights on the side of the device weren’t on and he was able to assume this meant it wasn’t functioning.
Another explosion rocked the vessel, and he slammed painfully to the side. Laughter came over the speakers, it taunting him to just give up and hide. He pushed himself back into the crouch, ignoring the pain as he stared at the technology.
Connect the red wiring to the coil.
Screams. Growls. He heard them all over the beating of his own heart. And all seemed to be getting closer. All the madness and death filled his nostrils as he fingers worked, digging through wires.
His hands snatched the red wiring and pulled until it uncoiled in his hands at the ending of it. He felt the temperature around him drop suddenly and he felt breath on his neck. Or was it just a sudden awareness of being watched? He didn’t put too much though in that- his attention being completely focused on the task at hand.
He never excelled in technological understand. However, he knew enough to follow simple instructions. And wrap a red wire around a coil was as simple as they come.
He was not one to pray to the Machine Gods but he felt praise escape his lips as the device suddenly blinked on. Suddenly, a popping sound was heard and a rage-curdled scream came from behind him. He spun around only to find a clawed creature of horns and teeth towering over him. It rolled its heads back and screamed again, puss dripping from it’s mouths and caking his face.
And then it was slammed backwards by an invisible force. It flew back to the hatch, it’s clawed hands desperately trying to dig into the metal around it with little avail. As if someone had opened a hatch into space, it was dragged down the corridor until it met the wall at the end.
And then it simply exploded into goo.
Theadorus just watched it, his body shaking with a mixture of adrenaline, fear, and confusion. He just stared, watching nothing. Stared at the absence of his mother and the empty dream that they’d be together soon. He stared as the mist slowly left the ship and technicians found their way to him. He stared as they clapped his shoulder, crying thanks.
He just stared.
Because beyond all the celebration of escaping the Warp and all the promises of what to come for being the savior of the ship, Theadorus could only think back to what his mother had said to him when he first saw her.
“I come to you looking how I did as I died.”
Not a touch of blood was on the image that saved him and the ship. Not a scratch, not a slice, not a hint of injury. She looked beautiful and happy and desperation was not in her eyes. Nor was pain. Only coldness and serenity.
Yet why had he been told that she had been killed by a Xenos’ blade?
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