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1_For_The_Emperor, page 1

 

1_For_The_Emperor
 


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1_For_The_Emperor


  1_For_The_Emperor

  Sandy Mitchel

  ++Priority Transmission: Coding/Delta/Rouge++

  ++Recipient: Loyal Imperial Commanders - as designated by Commissariat, The Librarius Staff, Inquisitor Baptiste Canoness Arrea.++

  ++Subject: Traitors and Executions++

  ++Author: Andrei Viktorov - Scrivenor-in-attendance to Inquisitor Nikolay Vinogradov++

  ++Thought for the Day: To cheat is both cowardly and dishonourable++

  Attention all loyal citizens of the Imperium!!!

  Scanning of sacred books is a mortal sin!

  *********

  Whispered by Tzeentch, Lord of Hidden Knowledge.

  Inspired by Slaanesh, Master of Forbidden Pleasures.

  Resist foul machinations of the Dark Gods and buy books from the Black Library.

  ***********

  Thought of the Day: All traitors will be executed without mercy and compassion!

  Inquisition is watching YOU!

  A WARHAMMER 40,000 NOVEL

  Ciaphas Cain

  FOR THE EMPEROR

  Sandy Mitchell

  To Judith, for everything.

  A BLACK LIBRARY PUBLICATION

  First published in Great Britain in 2003 by

  BL Publishing,

  Games Workshop Ltd.,

  Willow Road, Nottingham,

  NG7 2WS, UK

  10 987S5432

  Cover illustration by Clint Langley.

  © Games Workshop Limited 2005. All rights reserved.

  Black Library, the Black Library logo, Black Flame, BL Publishing, Games Workshop, the Games Workshop logo and all associated

  marks, names, characters, illustrations and images from the

  Warhammer 40,000 universe are either *, TM and/or ® Games

  Workshop Ltd 2000-2005, variably registered in the UK and other

  countries around the world. All rights reserved.

  A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library.

  ISBN 13: 978 1 84416 050 1 ISBN 10: 1 84416 050 5

  Distributed in the US by Simon Schuster 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, US.

  Printed and bound in Great Britain by Bookmarque, Surrey, UK.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval

  system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,

  mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior

  permission of the publishers.

  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in

  this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or

  incidents is purely coincidental.

  See the Black Library on the Internet at

  www.blacklibrary.com

  Find out more about Games Workshop and the world of Warhammer 40,000 at

  www.games-workshop.com

  IT IS THE 41st millennium. For more than a hundred

  centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden

  Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the

  will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the

  might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass

  writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of

  Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for

  whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that

  he may never truly die.

  YET EVEN IN his deathless state, the Emperor continues

  his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the

  daemon-infested miasma of the warp, the only route

  between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican,

  the psychic manifestation of the Emperors will. Vast

  armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds.

  Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes,

  the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their

  comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and

  countless planetary defence forces, the ever-vigilant

  Inquisition and the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants - and worse.

  TO BE A man in such times is to be one amongst untold

  billions. It is to live in the cruellest and most bloody

  regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times.

  Forget the power of technology and science, for so much

  has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the

  promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim

  dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst

  the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and

  the laughter of thirsting gods.

  Editorial Note:

  What, for want of a better phrase, I will henceforth be refer ring to as the 'Cain Archive' is, in truth, barely deserving of so grandiloquent a title. It consists merely of a single dataslate, stuffed full of files arranged with a cavalier disregard for chronology, and to no scheme of indexing that I've been able, to determine despite prolonged examination of the contents. What can be stated with absolute certainty, however, is that the author was none other than the celebrated Commissar Ciaphas Cain, and that the archive was written by him during his retirement while serving as a tutor at the Schola Proge-nium.

  This would pin the date of composition to some time after his appointment to the faculty in 993.M41; from occasional

  references to his published memoirs (To Serve the 'Emperor: A Commissar's Life), which first saw the fight of day in 005.MAZ, we can. safely conclude that he was inspired by the process of writing them to embark on a fuller account of his experiences, and that the bulk of the archive was composed no earlier than this.

  His motives for so doing we can only guess at, since publication would have been impossible; indeed, I placed them under Inquisitorial seal the moment they came to light, for reasons which should be immediately apparent to any attentive reader.

  Nevertheless, I 6efieve they are worthy of further study. Some of my fellow inquisitors may be shocked to discover that one of, the lmperium's most venerated heroes was, by his own admission, a scoundref and self-seeking rogue; a fact of which, due to our sporadic personal association, I have long been aware. Indeed, I would go so far as to contend that it was this very combination of character flaws which made him one of the most effective servants the Imperium has ever had, despite his strenuous efforts to thz contrary. For, in his century or more of active service to the Commissariat, and occasional less visible activities at my behest, he faced and bested almost every enemy of humanity: necrons, tau, tyranids and orks, eldar, both free of taint and corrupted by the ruinous powers, and the daemonic agents of those powers themselves. Reluctantly, it must be admitted, but in many cases repeatedly, and always with success; a record few, if any, more noble men can equal.

  In fairness, it should also be pointed out here that Cain is his own harshest critic, often going out of his way to deny that the many instances in which he appears, despite his professed baser motives, to have acted primarily out of loyalty or altruism were any such thing. It would be ironic, indeed, if his awareness of

  his shortcomings should have blinded him to his own (admittedly often well-hidden) virtues.

  It is also worth reflecting that if, as is often asserted, courage consists not of the absence of fear but the overcoming of it, Cain does indeed richly deserve his heroic reputation, even if he always steadfastly denied the fact!

  However much we may deplore his professed moral shortcom ings, his
successes are undeniable, and we can be thankful that Cain's own account of his chequered career has at last been dis covered. To say the least, these memoirs shed new light on many of the odder comers of recent Imperial history, aruf his eyewitness accounts of our enemies contain many valuable, if idiosyncratic, insights into understanding and confounding their dark designs.

  It is for this reason that I preserved the archive and have spent a considerable amount of leisure time in the years since its discovery editing and annotating it, in an attempt to make it more accessible to those of my fellow inquisitors who may wish to peruse it for themselves. Cain appears to have had no overall structure in mind, simply recording incidents from his past as they occurred to him, and, as a result, many of the anecdotes are devoid of context; he has a disconcerting habit of beginning in media res, and many of the shorter fragments end abruptly as his own part in the events he is describing comes to a conclusion.

  I have therefore chosen to begin the process of dissemination with his account of the Gravalax campaign, which is reasonably coherent, and with which the members of our ordo will be at least passingly familiar as a result of my own involvement in the affair. Indeed, it contains an account of our first meeting from Cain's perspective, which I must admit I found rather amusing when I first stumbled across it.

  For the most трап, the archive speaks for itself, although I have taken the liberty of breaking up the long and unstructured account into relatively self-contained chapters to facilitate reading. The quotations preceding them are something of an indulgence on my part, having been culled from a collection of such sayings compiled by Cain himself for the apparent amusement and edification of the cadets in his charge, but I justify this as perhaps providing an additional insight into the workings of his mind. Apart from this, I have confined myself to occasional editorial interpolations where I considered it necessary to place Cain's somewhat self-centred narrative into a wider content; unless otherwise attributed, all such annotations are my own, and I have been otherwise content to let his own words do the work.

  ONE

  I don't know what effect they have on the enemy, but by the Emperor, they frighten me.

  - General Karis, of the Valhallans under his command.

  One of the first things you learn as a commissar is that people are never pleased to see you; something that's no longer the case where I'm concerned, of course, now that my glorious and undeserved reputation precedes me wherever I go. A good rule of thumb in my younger days, but I'd never found myself staring down death in the eyes of the troopers I was supposed to be inspiring with loyalty to the Emperor before. In my early years as an occasionally loyal minion of his Glorious Majesty, I'd faced, or to be more accurate, ran away screaming from, orks, necrons, tyranids, and a severely hacked off daemon-host, just to pick out some of the highlights of my ignominious career. But standing in that mess room, a heartbeat away from being ripped apart by mutinous Guardsmen, was a unique experience, and one that I have no wish to repeat.

  I should have realised how bad the situation was when the commanding officer of my new regiment actually smiled at me as I stepped off the shuttle. I already had every reason to fear the worst, of course, but by that time I was out of options. Paradoxical as it might seem, taking this miserable assignment had looked uncomfortably like the best chance I had of keeping my precious skin in one piece.

  The problem, of course, was my undeserved reputation for heroism, which by that time had grown to such ludicrous proportions that the Commissariat had finally noticed me and decided that my talents were being wasted in the artillery unit I'd picked as the safest place to sit out my lifetime of service to the Emperor, a long way away from the sharp end of combat. Accordingly, I'd found myself plucked from a position of relative obscurity and attached directly to Brigade headquarters.

  That hadn't seemed too bad at first, as I'd had little to do except shuffle datafiles and organise the occasional firing squad, which had suited me fine, but the trouble with everybody thinking you're a hero is that they tend to assume you like being in mortal danger and go out of their way to provide

  some. In the half-dozen years since my arrival, I'd been temporarily seconded to units assigned, among other things, to assault fixed positions, clear out a space hulk, and run recon deep behind enemy lines. And every time I'd made it back alive, due in no small part to my natural talent for diving for cover and waiting for the noise to stop, the general staff had patted me on the head, given me another commendation, and tried to find an even more inventive way of getting me killed.

  Something obviously had to be done, and done fast, before my luck ran out altogether. So, as I often had before, I let my reputation do the work for me and put in a request for a transfer back to a regiment. Any regiment. By that time I just didn't care. Long experience had taught me that the opportunities for taking care of my own neck were much higher when I could pull rank on every officer around me.

  'I just don't think I'm cut out for data shuffling/ I said apologetically to the weasel-faced little runt from the lord general's office. He nodded judiciously, and made a show of paging through my file.

  'I can't say I'm surprised,' he said, in a slightly nasal whine. Although he tried to look cool and composed, his body language betrayed his excitement at being in the presence of a living legend; at least that's what some damn fool pictcast commentator had called me after the Siege of Perlia, and the appellation stuck. The next thing I know my own face is grinning at me from recruiting posters all over the sector, and I couldn't even grab a mug of recaf without having a

  piece of paper shoved under my nose with a request to autograph it. 'It doesn't suit everybody.'

  'It's a shame we can't all have your dedication to the smooth running of the Imperium,' I said. He looked sharply at me for a moment, wondering if I was taking the frak, which of course I was, then decided I was simply being civil. I decided to ladle it on a bit. 'But I'm afraid I've been a soldier too long to start changing my habits now.'

  That was the sort of thing Cain the Hero was supposed to say, of course, and weasel-face lapped it up. He took my transfer request from me as though it was a relic from one of the blessed saints.

  'I'll handle it personally/ he said, practically bowing as he showed me out.

  And so it was, a month or so later, I found myself in a shuttle approaching the hangar bay of the Righteous Wrath, a battered old troopship identical to thousands in Imperial service, almost all of which I sometimes think I've travelled on over the years. The familiar smell of shipboard air, stale, recycled, inextricably intertwined with rancid sweat, machine oil and boiled cabbage, hissed into the passenger compartment as the hatch seals opened. I inhaled it gratefully, as it displaced the no less familiar odour of Gunner lurgen, my aide almost since the outset of my commissarial career nearly twenty years before.

  Short for a Valhallan, Jurgen somehow managed to look awkward and out of place wherever he was, and in all our time together, I couldn't recall a single

  occasion on which he'd ever worn anything that appeared to fit properly. Though amiable enough in temperament, he seemed ill at ease with people, and, in turn, most preferred to avoid his company; a tendency no doubt exacerbated by the perpetual psoriasis that afflicted him, as well as his body odour, which, in all honesty, took quite a bit of getting used to.

  Nevertheless he'd proven an able and valued aide, due in no small part to his peculiar mentality. Not overly bright, but eager to please and doggedly literal in his approach to following orders, he'd become a useful buffer between me and some of the more onerous aspects of my job. He never questioned anything I said or did, apparently convinced that it must be for the good of the Imperium in some way which, given the occasionally discreditable activities I'd been known to indulge in, was a great deal more than I could have hoped for from any other trooper. Even after all this time I still find myself missing him on occasion.

  So he was right there at my side, half-hidden by our combined lugga
ge, which he'd somehow contrived to gather up and hold despite the weight, as my boot heels first rang on the deck plating beneath the shuttle. I didn't object; experience had taught me that it was a good idea for people meeting him for the first time to get the full picture in increments.

  I paused fractionally for dramatic effect before striding forward to meet the small knot of Guard officers drawn up to greet me by the main cargo

  doors, the clang of my footsteps on the metal sounding as crisp and authoritative as I could contrive; an effect undercut slightly by the pops and clangs from the scorched area under the shuttle engines as it cooled, and Jurgen's tottering gait behind me.

  'Welcome, commissar. This is a great honour.' A surprisingly young woman with red hair and blue eyes stepped forward and snapped a crisp salute with parade ground efficiency. I thought for a moment that I was being subtly snubbed with only the junior officers present, before I reconciled her face with the file picture in the briefing slate. I returned the salute.

  'Colonel Kasteen.' I nodded an acknowledgement. Despite having no objection to being fawned over by young women in the normal course of events, I found such a transparent attempt at ingratiation a little nauseating. Then I got a good look at her hopeful expression and felt as though I'd stepped on a nonexistent final stair. She was absolutely sincere. Emperor help me, they really were pleased to see me. Things must be even worse here than I'd imagined.

  Just how bad they actually were I had yet to discover, but I already had some presentiment. For one thing, the palms of my hands were tingling, which always means there's trouble hanging in the air like the static before a storm, and for another, I'd broken with the habit of a lifetime and actually read the briefing slate carefully on the tedious voyage out here to meet the ship.

 
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