The drug induced sleep was dreamless, and I awoke with a start. There was a strange sensation on the left side of my body. I looked down and was startled at the sight of the machine now attached to me. It felt weird, but at the same time, strangely familiar. I looked it up and down, examining the bundles of black electo-plast muscle fibers and the gun-metal grey of its artificial bones and joints. It looked like an anatomically correct mechanical version of the human arm. The hand looked incredibly dangerous, but it too closely mimicked its natural human counterpart.
I attempted to move it and was again startled as it instantly responded to my brain's command. The arm raised exactly as it was told to. I turned it over, so my palm was now facing up. I tried flexing my bicep, and it obeyed. I could feel air pass over the machine as I moved it to and fro. I tried balling my hand and was entranced as I watched the artificial muscles in my forearm contract, pulling my fingers into a fist. I clenched my hand as tightly as I could and was again surprised to feel my fingers hurt. I stretched my fingers back out and then attempted to touch my thumb to the tips of each of them. This was difficult. My hand clumsily tried to obey, but it just wouldn't get the motion right.
"Dexterity will return with regular use." Broken from the spell I was in, I looked up to see the doctor standing at the foot of my bed. "As you have probably already noticed, the surgery was a complete success."
"It's amazing." I replied, "I can feel it. It feels almost… natural… like it's supposed to be there."
"Yes, every last millimeter is covered in microscopic fibers that simulate the signals real nerve cells would send to your brain."
I ran my hand up and down my new arm causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up with the strange sensation.
"Older models didn't have this feature. It was added to prevent you from damaging it. You'll actually feel pain when you reach the limits of the prosthetic's capabilities."
"I'll keep that in mind Doctor. Now when can I get out of here and back to my unit?"
"Well, you haven't had a seizure for over forty-eight hours, and brain scans are showing little residual damage from the concussions you received."
"That's good I guess."
"Good? It's down-right amazing. When you first showed up, I thought you were never going to wake up, and if you did, you'd be severely mentally handicapped at the very least. The fact that you're even talking to me right now is somewhat of a miracle." He let that soak in before continuing.
"I've never seen someone so close to death come as far as you have. I actually expect you to make a full recovery. As far as discharging you back to your unit, it'll be a few days. I want to keep you here for observation. As long as you don't have another seizure, I'll clear you for light duty and send you back by the end of the week."
I never did have another seizure and the next couple of days went by quick. I took the time I had to learn how to better manipulate my new arm. I tested it over and over to find out exactly what its capabilities and limitations were. Everything came quickly except anything that required fine movement of the fingers. I got so frustrated trying to write my name that I slammed it down and broke the table I was writing on. I'm right-handed, but my new arm is definitely the stronger of the two now.
On the fourth day, the doctor signed off on my release as promised. Captain Drennan arrived to pick me up as soon as he received the message.
"You ready to get back to work?" He asked as he walked into my room in a highly starched and creased set of fatigues. Captain Drennan was always dressed immaculately in a uniform that looked as if it were brand new with boots that were always polished to a mirror finish. He was bigger than most people, close to my size though I was broader through the chest and had a couple of centimeters on him. He had a chiseled jawline and sharp, rugged features that made him look like he came straight out of an Imperial propaganda pic. I've heard almost that same description used to describe me.
To answer his question, I got out of bed, walked straight up to him, and issued a crisp salute, "Corporal Frost reporting for duty, Sir." He returned the salute and beckoned me to walk with him.
We exited the medical bay and walked the halls of the cruiser I'd originally deployed on, headed towards the launch bay. My legs felt strong as we walked in silence despite the month I'd spent in bed. We were going to board a small transport to return the short distance to my home-ship, "The Pride of Gudrun."
We entered the launch bay and stepped aboard the transport that would take me home. We sat in the back as the transport was already piloted. I looked around and was surprised to see my dress uniform hanging up beside Captain Drennan's. Apparently he'd brought them with him.
"Get dressed." He said offering no explanation. I tried to ask questions but he shot me a look that demanded silence, so I did as I was told. Once finished, I took a seat across from him, and he got up and put his own dress uniform on. This was all done in silence as the transport flew us the short distance home.
When he finished, he sat back down and stared at me for a good minute before bursting into laughter, "Frost… that was absolutely priceless."
"What you said to that shit-bag Marine before you shot him."
I couldn't remember what I'd said, so I had to ask.
"I'm Force Recon, you son of a bitch." He mocked my voice to help me recall the moment. I didn't see anything funny about it but even saying it caused him to laugh all the harder.
"Sir, I'm confused. I'd taken my helmet off when that happened. How did you see it?"
"It landed on the ground in a way that had it pointed at the both of you. Your recorder caught the whole thing." He stopped laughing after a minute, then got serious, "How did you do it, Frost?"
"Make him stop short like that?"
"I don't know what you're talking about Sir."
He stopped laughing, "The Marine, you did something that scared him so bad he hesitated. I want to know what you did."
"Sir, I honestly don't know what caused him to do that. I just stood there, and it happened. All I did was take advantage of it." My explanation was weak and the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. Why did he pull up short like that?
Captain Drennan looked like he wasn't ready to let it drop. He started to say something else, but thankfully, the pilot picked that moment to interrupt us, "We're here guys, it's gonna take a couple of minutes before everything's ready, so sit tight." The pilot landed the craft and turned the view screen off so I could no longer see what was going on outside in the bay.
Confused, I looked to my CO, "What's going on Sir?"
"You'll see Corporal."
"Why did he cut the view…"
He cut me off, "I said you'll see! Now sit there and shut your God-damned mouth." The tone of his voice discouraged me from asking any more questions, so I sat quietly. I heard a lot of movement from outside the transport which confused me even more. The bay must be pressurized for someone to be out there, so why hadn't the pilot dropped the ramp?
We sat there for a while longer until the pilot received a transmission I couldn't hear over his headset. He then turned back and looked to Captain Drennan, "They're ready Sir."
"Good, give us a second." He turned back to me, "Follow my lead, and do as I tell you when we get out there. You got me?"
"Yes, Sir." But in truth, I had no idea what he was talking about.
"Good. Trooper, Atten-hut!" I snapped to the position of attention, so I was facing my commander, who also took the position. "Left, face!" I turned to my left so that I was facing the ramp at the rear of the craft. Captain Drennan simultaneously executed a right face so that we were now shoulder-to-shoulder. "We're ready Sergeant; open her up." He said over his shoulder to the pilot that was now behind us.
The ramp lowered, and I was surprised to see, that standing in formation, were dozens of aircraft should have been; was my battalion, and at least half of the trooper regiment I was a part of, all at the position of attention. There were thousands of them. I'd never seen a formation this big aboard ship before. I'd been part of bigger ones planet-side, but never on a ship. That's when it occurred to me what was happening. This was an award ceremony, and with all eyes locked on me, I was pretty sure who it was for.
"Forward march," Captain Drennan said in a voice only I could hear. I marched forward with him and made the appropriate adjustments to my course with his barely audible commands leading the way. His commands eventually placed us so that we were dead centered on, and facing the formation.
"Regiment, Pre-sent, ARMS!" The Sergeant Major ordered from somewhere off to my left.
Captain Drennan, I, and everyone else in the bay snapped our right hands to the corner of our eye so that we were all now saluting. I heard a door open from somewhere behind the massive formation. I then observed the Commissar escort the ancient looking Fleet Commander, Admiral McGlower into the room. They walked around the staggering mass of humanity towards Captain Drennan and me. As they closed, Commissar Bowen broke off from the Admiral and came to attention a couple of meters in front of and facing Captain Drennan and me.
The Admiral continued to a podium that had been set up directly behind me. The Commissar was smiling, the first time I'd ever seen him do so, with a polished wooden box under his left arm.
"Regiment, Or-der ARMS!" We all dropped our salutes, resuming the position of attention. I heard a couple of thumps as the Admiral tapped on the microphone he would use to deliver his speech.
"Ah- hem…" He said clearing his throat. "Thank you very much, Sergeant Major." His voice was stronger than I thought possible for a man his age and full of authority.
He began, "When Commissar Bowen first told me he'd signed an order awarding Corporal Frost here the Imperial Cross, I was skeptical, to say the least. In my extremely long career, I'd only seen this award given to three people. All three of those people were dead, and it was given to their next of kin."
He paused for a second to let that sink in. "All three died in combat. All three gave their lives to earn this highest of military honors. So naturally, my first question for Commissar Bowen was to inquire as to the whereabouts of the fallen trooper's remains."
He paused again. "When Commissar Bowen informed me that there were no remains, that Trooper Frost was still alive; I kindly asked him to quit wasting my time and then terminated his transmission without hearing another word."
"Needless to say, when Commissar Bowen then showed up to my office demanding to speak with me regarding Corporal Frost, I was highly agitated. He was persistent and with great effort convinced me to at least watch the recording of the mission in question."
"Reluctantly, I watched as Corporal Frost and the now deceased Gunnery Sergeant Maximus Christoff embarked on a pretty standard mission. I'd just started to lose interest in the recording and was close to turning it off when things went wrong, and I mean horribly wrong.
"Some of the things I saw sent chills up my spine. Some of the things Corporal Frost witnessed, I could barely watch. I'm ashamed to say, that at certain points during the recording of this brave trooper's mission I had to turn away to protect my own sanity." Again, another pause.
He raised his voice as he continued, "But Corporal Frost, in the face of extreme adversity, never faltered. Not once. He showed great bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. I watched in disbelief as he single-handedly defeated a fully armored Chaos Marine in hand-to-hand combat." An audible gasp had issued from our audience before he continued, "And I almost lost my lunch when he tore his own arm off to do so."
"I can tell you Troopers are already amazed, but that's not even the half of it. Let me continue. Near death and bleeding profusely, Corporal Frost put the needs of the Imperium ahead of his own well-being and did what I can't honestly say I could have in the same situation. He picked himself up and completed the mission." Even though everyone was at attention, all eyes were now on me.
"During the course of this mission, Corporal Frost killed not one, not two, but three fully armored Chaos Marines all by himself. If you would have told me this without showing me the proof, I would have called you a liar. Even with the proof right in front of me, it was still very hard to believe. During the course of that recording, I saw a trooper go above and beyond the call of duty in his service to the Imperium." His voice had reached a crescendo, and the entire bay was now in the palm of his hands.
"For his gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty, I took it upon myself to add my signature to Commissar Bowen's order awarding Corporal Mabien Frost the Cross of the Imperium. Sergeant Major, read the order."
I almost lost touch with reality as the Sergeant Major read the details of my mission in their entirety. As he read the words I relived the experiences of that terrible day. It took everything I had not to pass out when he described the events of Gunney's death. I guess Captain Drennan saw this, and he placed his hand on my shoulder to steady me long enough to regain my composure.
When he finished reading the order, Commissar Bowen opened the box containing the medal. Captain Drennan walked up and reverently took the medal from him and then came to face me. He shook his head no when the Sergeant Major again ordered the regiment to present arms. Everyone in the room was now saluting me. Captain Drennan issued a crisp salute which I returned. When I lowered my hand so did he. He then reverently placed the gold and platinum Cross of the Imperium around my neck, and the formation was ordered to order arms.
The colors of the Imperium were then marched to the front of the formation. We were then all again ordered to salute as the Imperial Anthem was keyed up over the bay's loudspeakers. I was saluting the colors when out of nowhere the Anthem was abruptly stopped right in the middle of the crescendo.
A door opened from the back, and I watched as a dozen armed men dressed in all black, walk in like they owned the place. They were clearly not military, these guys were civilians, but every one of them had the look of grizzled combat veterans. As they approached, one of them disrespectfully shoved the Commissar out of the way before coming to a stop in front of me. The commissar looked as if he were about to kill the man, but pulled up short when a bolter was stuck into his face.
A pale-faced man with long, jet black hair pulled tightly into a ponytail then stepped to the front. He looked right at me and pointed, "Place this man under arrest."
Two of the men started for me. They were just about to grab hold when out of nowhere Captain Drennan stepped forward and leveled one of them with a vicious right hook to the face. I followed his lead and knocked the other one out just as he was pulling his bolter.
The rest of the group drew down on us but quickly had to re-aim their weapons at the circle of troopers that broke formation to quickly surround them. The troopers were unarmed, but I guarantee those guys didn't have enough bullets for all of them. My comrades also knew this. They were tightening their circle in preparation to overwhelm these pricks when I heard the Admiral's voice.
"Hold it, hold it! Everyone calm down!" The guys in black were all looking pretty nervous. All except pony-tail who hadn't even attempted to draw a weapon he just stood there quietly. "If you people don't immediately lower your weapons, I cannot guarantee your safety," said the Admiral. They all looked to ponytail who simply nodded his head causing them to holster their weapons. The troopers had blood in their eyes and tightened the circle even further. "You troopers will stand down, right now." I heard the admiral say as he marched towards the center of the commotion. The troopers backed up a couple of steps but didn't relax.
The Admiral stepped in front of me, walked straight up to ponytail, and looked him in the eye. The pale-skinned man had, at least, ten centimeters on the old officer, but that did not intimidate him in the least. "Just who in the hell do you think you are barging in here like this? If I hadn't been here, you'd probably all be dead right now."
I could see the anger on his face as he continued to berate ponytail who simply stood there quietly. "What kind of an idiot walks into the middle of one of my regiments and pulls a gun with just a dozen or so men? Are you out of your god-damned minds?!"
The old admiral was getting angrier by the second, "This man is a hero, under whose authority are you here to arrest him? It damn sure wasn't mine! And the last time I checked, I'm the highest ranking officer in the whole god-damned fleet!" Ponytail was smiling now; this caused the Admiral to lose it, and he started to reach up in an effort to poke the larger man in the chest,
"Just who the hell do you think you…."
Ponytail snatched the old man by the wrist before he could poke him a single time and simultaneously produced a strange looking rosette which he shoved in his face. Upon seeing this funny looking emblem, the old man wilted, visibly deflating in front of my eyes. He didn't look afraid but he was now clearly intimidated by the larger man.
"My name is Damon Shrock," ponytail stated in a very commanding voice, "And I can assure you that my mind is sound. And furthermore, you will find that I am completely within my rights as my authority was granted me by the Emperor himself. And I can exercise that authority as I see fit in the execution of His Majesty's Most Holy Inquisition." Everyone in the room backed up from the inquisitor. "This man is not a hero, he's a traitor, and I plan to extract every traitorous thought from his Chaos-corrupted brain."
There were well over a thousand troopers in that room, but this single man had just out trumped us all. Not one set of eyes were on this Damon Shrock guy anymore. They were all submissively looking to the ground. He had asserted his Emperor given authority. Not even the Commissar or Captain Drennan dared to look this man in the eye.
Frag that! I didn't care who he was; he didn't scare me. My discipline as a Storm Trooper; was the only thing preventing me from choking him to death. That son of a bitch called me a traitor. I've never had a traitorous thought in my life. The Emperor as my witness; I've been fighting for the Imperium since I was twelve years old. Who the hell was this guy to call me a god- damned traitor? The more I thought about it, the more I grew angry.
I about said the hell with it when Captain Drennan grabbed me by the collar and said, "Calm down Frost, don't make this any worse on yourself."
Shrock released his hold on Admiral McGlower, who immediately backed up a few steps and regained his composure, "I'll defer to your authority, for now, Inquisitor, but this isn't over, not by a long shot buddy. Troopers, you will all stand down and let this man do his job, and that's an order." He then turned around and looked at me, "Corporal Frost, you will offer no further resistance and do as this man says. Don't worry trooper; I've got friends in high places. You have my word that I will do everything within my power to straighten this out." He then turned and called for the Sergeant Major, "Sergeant Major, I want Commodus Voke on the line by the time I reach my office."
He turned back to Inquisitor Shrock with fire in his eyes, "Come on to one of my ships and make a fool out of me will you?! We'll see about this. You may have won the battle son, but you'll soon find out that I always win the war." With that, he turned and stormed out of the bay full of indignation.
Shrock looked around the room, "Anyone who interferes with this man's arrest will be subject to the full prosecution of the Imperial Inquisition." This effectively deflated any remaining thoughts my comrades may have had of trying to stop him. I was all alone now. There was now no one in the room that could help me now, and I didn't blame them for it.
The men stepped up and surrounded me. Shrock looked at me and nodded his head, "Take him." My hands were grabbed roughly from behind and cuffed behind my back. A black bag was then put over my head so I couldn't see.
I heard Shrock's voice, "Captain if you take even one more step, I will shoot you right where you stand." Even now Captain Drennan was trying to protect me.
I turned towards the approximate direction he was in, "It's all right Sir, what's the worst that could happen?" I would never have said that had I known what I was in for.
They must have known that despite the Admiral's orders and Inquisitor Shrock's threat they were still in incredibly grave danger because I was removed from the bay as fast as they could walk me out. They led me through the ship for what seemed like forever, all the while holding my arms tightly to prevent me from trying to escape. I thought this all very unnecessary as I had already been clearly ordered by Admiral McGlower to offer them no resistance of any kind.
I remained silent as I was led to our unknown destination. When we arrived, my cuffs were removed, and I was forced to sit in some kind of chair which they then secured my hands and feet to. After they had been satisfied that I was completely immobilized, they left me there alone with the bag still on my head.
I sat for hours. I tried listening for clues as to my whereabouts, but could hear only the sound of my own breathing. The room had no noticeable odor to it either if anything it smelled like a sterile environment. The longer I sat there, the colder it became. At first, I wasn't sure if it was just my imagination or not, but when the fingertips on my right hand became numb and started to hurt, I knew my mind wasn't playing tricks on me. The temperature had dropped drastically and was continuing to do so. It became so cold I was shivering, and my teeth were chattering within my skull. Even worse, as the hours pressed on I had to use the bathroom more and more.
I didn't think I could be any more uncomfortable than I already was. As if just to show me that I could be a lot more uncomfortable, a sprinkler cut on and sprayed me with water until I was thoroughly soaked. This made me even colder and needed to use the bathroom even more. I started squirming against my restraints, but it was no use. I was about to call out when I suddenly realized that that was the point of this whole exercise. They were trying to make me beg for mercy. I wouldn't give them the satisfaction, so I clenched my knees together to prevent wetting myself and held on.
I'd just made up my mind that this torture would not break me when a door opened. "Have you pissed yourself yet?" It was Inquisitor Shrock's arrogant voice. I remained silent, "Let's find out." I heard him walk over and sniff the air a couple of times, "I guess not. Let's see if I can fix that for you."
Without warning he kicked me hard in the stomach; driving the air from my lungs and the urine from my bladder. "That's better."
That bastard made me wet myself! I wanted to kill him! I wanted to tear him limb from limb! I was about to start cursing him when I realized that's exactly what he wanted me to do. So I remained silent in my indignity, my only consolation was that the piss had warmed my freezing legs.
"That's strange," I heard him say, "Normally people are telling me what a whore my mother is right now. I salute your discipline, but you'll break. They all do, it's just a matter of time." With that, he left without saying another word.
After he had left, the room started to warm up. This made me sleepy. I fought against it, but it was no use. I had been in here for Emperor knows how long and was getting more tired by the minute. I was just starting to nod off when the chair shocked me. I'm sorry, shock isn't the word for it; it felt as if I was being electrocuted. It went on for so long; my frozen clothes began to melt and steam. Despite the pain, I refused to cry out. I forced myself to grit my teeth and endure until it finally stopped.
I was now wide awake and reeking of urine. The heat in the room continued to increase until it became unbearably hot. My throat dried out, and my tongue became so parched and swollen it felt as if I would choke on it. I was covered in sweat, and the metal of the chair was burning me. This went on for hours. I was beginning to think I would die of dehydration when the heat died down, and the room returned to a comfortable temperature.
The door opened, and someone walked in the room and put a bottle of water under the bag and to my lips so I could drink. I drank it all, I had to, if I didn't, I would surely die.
After I had finished the water, he left the room and the entire cycle of torture repeated itself. I would freeze until I couldn't freeze anymore. Shrock would come and ask me irrelevant questions I wouldn't answer and then beat me until I soiled myself again. He'd then leave, and they'd proceed to cook me alive again. Whenever I came close to falling asleep, the chair would electrocute me until I was wide awake. I figured one cycle was roughly equivalent to one day give or take a few hours. I used these cycles to keep track of time.
On the tenth cycle, Shrock became very frustrated with me, "Why won't you call out? Beg for mercy?" He asked, "Say anything and we can move on." I remained silent. I'd started hallucinating three cycles ago and was having flashbacks of Subjuga Two. But whenever he came in I forced myself to pull it together and refused to speak a single word to him. I wasn't sure how long I'd been strapped to that chair, but he could keep me in here forever before I gave him the satisfaction of hearing me beg for mercy.
After that, every time he came in he'd wait longer and longer for me to respond to him in any way. I never did. Somewhere between the fifteenth and twentieth cycle he went ballistic and beat the hell out of me. He punched me over and over, screaming for me to admit I was a traitor. I never said a word. The beating just steeled my resolve, even more, it actually gave me strength. When he left that time, the cycle did not start again. The room remained a constant temperature, and the chair did not shock me as I fell asleep.
I don't know how long I'd been asleep when I was awoken by the bag being removed from my head, "Rise and shine traitor." It was Inquisitor Shrock. "You smell awful, let's get you cleaned up." I was still in my dress uniform from the ceremony, but it was now totally soiled and filthy.
Two men in black fatigues came and unstrapped me from the chair. They then picked me up as my legs would not function from the days or weeks I'd been forced to sit in it. They carried me over to a corner where one of them held me up while the other expertly cut my uniform off with a knife. Completely naked, they dropped me on the floor, threw me a bar of soap, and proceeded to spray me down with water from a high-pressure hose.
I washed myself with the soap as the painful spray of water ran up and down my body. Upon finishing, I was thrown a towel and a pair of cloth pants. After I dried off and put them on I was placed back in the chair and strapped back in. They then gathered my dirty clothes and left the room, leaving me all alone with Inquisitor Shrock.
He was sitting in a chair about two meters in front of me. He sat quietly and stared at me for a good while. I took the time before he spoke to take in his features. He was smaller than me, average sized I guess, with an athletic build. He wore the same all black fatigues as everyone else that worked for him. His face was neither handsome nor ugly. The best way to describe it was nondescript. He had no identifiable markings, and his long black hair was again pulled tightly into a ponytail. His face was clean shaven, but I could tell he was about ten years older than me.
"I'm impressed, Mr. Frost." I said nothing as he continued, "I've never seen anyone hold out as long as you have. Without breaking down, crying, and begging for mercy, that is. The previous record was nine treatments. You've made it seventeen."
I just stared at him, "I'm very sorry for losing my temper yesterday. That was extremely unprofessional of me." He paused. His whole demeanor had changed. He was pleasant now, far from the raging maniac he'd been throughout the rest of my ordeal. But behind his mask of pleasantry was something dangerous, something sinister. The way he was now speaking made me feel incredibly uneasy, like something far worse was about to come.
"If I wasn't before, I'm now absolutely convinced that you are corrupt beyond any salvation." I stared at him coldly, "Only someone completely and totally poisoned by Chaos could have resisted my efforts for as long as you have. Your continued resistance is proof beyond any doubt of the total corruption of your soul. I've now come in here eighteen times and have yet to pull a single thought from your traitorous skull." What the hell was he talking about?
"Granted, I'm not a very powerful psyker, but the treatments should have weakened you enough for even me to pull the secrets from your head."
His voice changed and became menacing, "But not one thought, not one image could I extract. I'm not sure how you're doing it, but I can't pick anything up from you, anything at all. It's like you're not even there." I hadn't a clue what he was talking about as he pressed on. "So let's just talk. It's okay. I've realized I cannot break you through traditional means." I just stared at him blankly.
"Now I'm going to ask you some very pointed questions. I expect the correct answers. Should you fail to answer truthfully, I will be forced to move on to more extreme methods." What could possibly be more extreme than he'd already done to me?
"I have a psyker out there powerful enough to break whatever mental defense it is you're using. The only reason I haven't brought him in yet is that he'll probably kill you in the process. Voke wants you alive when he gets here, so I have been patient, but I will have the answers I want regardless of what the old fool desires. Do you understand everything I've said to you?"
I didn't, but I nodded my head yes anyway.
"Good, let's begin. How long have you been a traitor?"
"I'm no traitor," I choked, my voice hoarse from the previous torture.
"Not a good start Corporal. Keep it up, keep testing my patience. I say again, how long have you been a traitor?"
"We're going to be here a long time if you're just looking for the answers you want." I croaked.
He lost his cool and started yelling at me, "I know for a fact that you're a traitor! And this supposition is positively proved by the fact that you destroyed that site to cover up any evidence of your misdeeds!"
"I nuked that site to prevent them from escaping."
"You lie! How is it that you stared into the face of Chaos without so much as flinching? The answer is clear; you were corrupt long before you went down there."
I lost my cool, "Bull-shit! Just because you're a coward and can't stand the sight of their silly runes doesn't mean that I am. I'm a soldier, and it's my job to look the devil in the eye and put a bullet in his face without asking any questions. I don't fear Chaos as you obviously do. I just get paid to kill it."
"You expect me to believe that you're such a hero that you killed three of the galaxy's most dangerous beings all by yourself? I saw your mission log and to me, it reeks of conspiracy."
"What the hell do you mean conspiracy? They killed my best friend and damn near killed me. And suppose you're right, that I am some Chaos conspirator, why would I kill my own people? Your argument makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!"
"You think you're clever don't you. Here's how I see it. Being that it's impossible for you to have done what you claim to have. You, in collusion with those marines, staged the whole thing." He was up now, walking circles around me as he explained his version of events. "You let them kill Gunnery Sergeant Christoff to eliminate the only witness to your treachery. You then faked their deaths and nuked that site to explain the fact that there were no bodies to recover and prevent any kind of subsequent investigation." He was leaning over me now, "That's what I think happened, and it seems far more likely than a single trooper killing three Space Marines all by himself."
"You are one paranoid son of a bitch; you know that? You see conspiracy where there is none. You see devious plots where there are none to be…" He shut me up with a punch to my face.
"I will hear no more of your lies traitor; my patience has come to an end. So I will ask you one final time. How long have you been a traitor?"
"How long have you been sleeping with your mother?" I replied. His mouth hit the floor. He couldn't believe what I'd just said.
He quickly composed himself, "Okay, have it your way. I will have my confession one way or the other." He turned and left the room.
I sat there for a minute, wondering what would come next. I didn't have to wait long. The door opened, and Inquisitor Shrock came back in escorting a very frail looking man. He was tall and thin and completely bald. His head was bulbous, and his eyes had sickly appearance about them. They were milky white all the way through the corneas to the pupils.
Inquisitor Shrock smiled at me with a look of victory on his face, "This is Interrogator Hazimuth, and he is by far the most gifted psyker I've ever met."
"Is that supposed to scare me?" I asked condescendingly.
"It should. He's about to rip every traitorous thought from your corrupt brain. I suspect when he's finished, you'll either be dead or at the very least, a babbling fool."
They began to move in my direction when all of the sudden Hazimuth doubled over as if some invisible force had punched him in the stomach. He gasped for air as Shrock quickly grabbed hold to prevent him from falling over. "What are you doing to him?!" Shrock yelled.
Before I could say anything the psyker cut me off, "I'm okay Inquisitor, just give me a second. This one's defense is very strong, but I'm sure I can break it. Let me sit here for a moment to collect myself."
Shrock helped him to the chair in front of me where he sat for a while before speaking, "It's very strange Inquisitor. It's like he's creating a dead space all around him. I'm getting nothing from him, or even you sitting this close."
"Can you break it?" Shrock asked.
"I will try. All I have to do is touch his mind once, and his barrier should crumble." I was beginning to get really nervous at all this talk of my mind and mental barriers. I wasn't creating any defense I was aware of and I damn sure didn't like the idea of this weirdo getting inside my head.
Hazimuth continued, "You might want to leave the room, Inquisitor. The amount of force I will have to use to break this man is likely to kill him and anyone else in the room."
"But can you get the answers I need?"
"I'll get the answers. I've never met anyone from whom I couldn't."
Shrock smiled at me, "Go ahead trooper, keep playing your silly little game. As soon as he cracks your skull, I'll be back to pick up the pieces." He patted Hazimuth on the shoulder and left the room. I was now all alone with the psyker.
The interrogator stared at me for a long time before speaking, "Are you ready for what's about to happen to you?"
I shrugged my shoulders, "As ready as I'll ever be."
"No, I don't think you are. Granted, you have a strong mind. So strong I can't even feel you, but I will break you, it's inevitable. The more you resist, the worse it will be. So I suggest you stop doing whatever it is you are and just let me in."
"I don't know what you're talking about, and I'm not doing anything. I'm no psyker, so all this talk of my mind and mental barriers means nothing to me."
"Okay have it your way." He sat up in his chair and stared right into my eyes. I watched as his milky eyes turned pure white and beads of sweat formed on his forehead. I could tell he was putting immense effort into whatever it was he was doing, but for the life of me I felt nothing. He continued on for a couple of minutes, visibly straining against some unknown force. He finally stopped when he began gasping for air to catch his breath. I thought he would surely pass out when his breathing unexpectedly calmed, and he recollected himself.
"I don't understand," he finally said, "You shut me out without so much as blinking. I can now see I will have to go much further." He stood up and placed his hand on his forehead and redoubled his efforts upon me.
His eyes again turned pure white and even started to glow. He took a step forward, and his whole body started to shake. Sweat now poured from his face. The room started to shake in sync with his body, but I still couldn't feel a thing. The temperature in the room dropped drastically, and blood started to leak from his eyes and nose. He took another step towards me and the room started to shake violently. He looked at me and spoke through gritted teeth, "I, will, break, you!" I still felt nothing even though I could tell he was trying to touch my mind with all his might.
He continued his advance until he was standing over me. He reached out to touch me, but it seemed as if something was pushing against his hand to prevent him from making contact. He leaned into the unseen force and sparks started flying from his fingertips, growing ever closer to my head. I was worried now, unsure of what was happening. What would happen when he touched me?
It was very cold now, and it felt as if the whole ship was coming apart at the seams. With one final effort, he forced his hand to touch my head. I felt nothing but his body convulsed violently as if he were being electrocuted. I heard a liquid pop come from within his head and watched as blood gushed from his ears. He was thrown back and landed face down on the floor. He was unconscious and not breathing. All the energy quickly dissipated and the room stopped shaking. I sat there bewildered, staring at the dead man while the temperature quickly returned to normal. Whatever the frag had just happened was completely beyond me.
I was still sitting there completely dumbfounded when the door burst open, and Inquisitor Shrock ran in. He leaned over Hazimuth's dead body and checked him for a pulse. He soon gave up and shook his head, "What the hell did you do to him?"
"I didn't do anything!" I yelled.
"I don't believe you." He pulled his bolter, walked up and pressed it against my forehead, "What the hell did you do?!" He screamed.
"Nothing!" I screamed back. He smacked me across the face with the bolter, cocked it, and shoved the barrel into my mouth.
"I'll hear not another word from your traitorous lips. I'm going to end this right now!" He was just about to pull the trigger when I heard someone enter the room.
"Just what the hell is going on here?!"
Shrock looked back at the new voice and started to stammer.
"Shut your mouth. I don't want to hear it." The new voice was unknown to me. "You will remove the gun from the prisoner's mouth and explain to me exactly what's going on here." Shrock hesitated, and the new voice became angry, "Do it now! That's my prisoner and as such, only I have the right to execute him. You will remove that gun and give me the respect I deserve."
Shrock removed the gun from my mouth and turned to face the man, "Sir, he's dangerous. He just killed Hazimuth." I could see the new man now, and he was old, very old. He even made the Admiral, who was standing right beside him, look young. He was dressed in a long, very expensive looking black robe with one of those strange rosettes around his neck.
He stepped forward and just as Hazimuth did, gasped for air. Shrock stepped forward to help him, but the man stopped him short by holding up his finger. He caught his breath and when he was ready continued, "Shrock you damned fool, this man didn't kill anyone."
"Sir I saw it myself, he…"
"Shut up." The old man interrupted, "That idiot Hazimuth killed himself trying to touch a man who cannot be touched by any psyker."
"What are you talking about?" The now confused Shrock asked.
"Inquisitor Shrock, the magnitude of your ignorance astonishes me. I felt and recognized what this man is as soon as I walked in here. This man is an untouchable."
"This man is corrupt beyond all belief and nothing more." Shrock countered, "The stench of Chaos is all over him. I deal in reality Inquisitor Voke, and the reality is, is that there is no such thing as untouchables. I've never met one. This man is nothing more than an agent of Chaos. Albeit, a very powerful one I have yet to break. And trust me, Inquisitor, I will break him."
"You ass! You haven't broken him because there is nothing to break. This man is no traitor. What you feel to be Chaos is nothing more that the natural aversion any psyker feels in the presence of an untouchable. There is a dead space in the warp that completely surrounds him. Reach out with your mind Shrock. Try to feel my presence, try to feel Admiral McGlower's for that matter. You can't, can you? That's because his mere proximity is completely nullifying all of our psychic abilities. No agent of Chaos can do that. The only possible explanation is that he's untouchable. I doubt he even knows what he is or the effect he's having on us."
He was right I wasn't doing anything. I've never even heard of an untouchable. Now this man was calling me one. There's nothing special about me. I'm just your garden variety leather-neck.
Shrock seemed just as unsure of himself as I was as he walked back to stand beside me. He looked at me for a minute, and I could see him trying to figure out what he was going to do with me. Slowly the confidence returned to his face, "Maybe he is as you say." He set his hand back on his holstered side-arm, "But when it comes to Chaos, I simply don't take chances." In one swift motion, he drew his bolter and brought it to bear on my head.
Admiral McGlower was quicker. With lightning speed, I thought impossible for a man his age, he drew his own side- arm and shot Inquisitor Shrock right through the shoulder of the arm holding the bolter. The gun fell to the ground as did Shrock.
"You… you shot me." He whimpered in disbelief.
Admiral McGlower walked to stand over the fallen Inquisitor holstering his weapon as he did so, "Yes it appears that I have." He smiled as he looked down at him, "Like I said you arrogant little prick… I always win the war." He then looked over to me, "You okay trooper?"
"I've been better Sir." Just then four armed troopers burst into the room, weapons at the ready.
"It's all right troopers. Everything's under control." McGlower said, "You two; take Inquisitor Shrock to the infirmary. When he's all patched up, you will confine him to quarters until Inquisitor Voke, and I decide what to do with him." The troopers obeyed without question. They were from my regiment and were smiling widely as they roughly picked him up and drug him from the room. Admiral McGlower looked at the others, "You two; get this trooper out of that damned contraption and take him to the brig."
He looked down at me, "Sorry Corporal, I have to keep you in custody until Inquisitor Voke clears you. Don't worry. They'll take a lot better care of you down there; I'll make sure of it." He then looked to Inquisitor Voke, "Is this acceptable Inquisitor?"
"Yes Admiral, I just have a couple of routine questions to ask him. I've seen his records and despite his extensive disciplinary problems, I see nothing to indicate that he's a traitor. Give me a couple of days and I'll return him to you."
With that, my comrades unstrapped me and helped me from the room.