Sunday, 5 November 2017

The twelfth of my many entries for this year's Pod and Planet. This is another very short fiction, entered in the 'Eight Thousand Suns in New Eden' category. This one is 678 words.


A dedication to myself, who didn’t really think this through: “You’re really done it this time, pal.”


Divine Devotion

"Our Lord visited his flock and saw that all was not good.
Blasphemy and heresy ruled the land.
The Lord punished the sinners and drowned them in their own blood.
But the people of Amarr lived righteously and in fear of God.
Thus they were saved and became God's chosen."
- The Scriptures, Book II 2:1

The metal plating was inscribed, he could tell. It pressed sharply into his brow and forehead deeply, and he could feel the symbols continuing outwards with his hands. Still, he remained sharply immobile, as to move from his chosen position was to disrespect God himself. ‘Not long now’, he prayed inwardly. Soon, it would all be over, for all of them. The Heresiarch would be dead and so would his guards, heretics all. To act in the service of one such as him, without divine purpose, was to act as a demon’s servant. Had Molok not led the Amarr astray, as this demon had?  Only God’s will could destroy such a malevolent spirit.

He pressed his forehead harder into the carvings, feeling every ache in his flesh. The golden plates had grown warm minutes ago, even as he prostrated himself atop them. The City was beginning to breathe, reaching out to embrace its demonic master. Such a shame, he told himself, that it was impure. This was not what God had wrought, that no man could put asunder, this was the work of mortal, sinful hands. Hands that rejected His teachings and rejected His judgement. Hands that should be severed.

At last, he heard it. The noise of an approaching group, echoing within the cavernous space. He breathed deep and slow, working each group of muscles individually. Hands, he flexed invisibly, then legs. Each muscle warmed slowly, shaking off pains and aches as they had done so many times before. It was, he reflected, their usual routine now. Hours of penance before God had strengthened his mind and his flesh, all the better to embody the divine will. The footsteps grew closer still, even as he stretched.

When he finished his obeisances, he was surrounded. Heavy gauntlets rested on his shoulders, threatening to drag him away. Thankfully, the Devil interceded, “He is my grandson, really! There is no need to treat him like some common slave.”

One of the Paladins grunted an affirmative and the hands lifted. Inwardly, he exulted. The Divine Will acts even on the heretic! The slipper-shod man shuffled forwards, and reached for him, placing one gnarled hand on each of his shoulders. He stiffened, ’How dare the demon profane him?’

Gradually, the man drew him upwards, clutching him close. “Inire,” he called. “Grandson! You don’t need to prostrate yourself before me. God knows there are enough lackeys in Amarr without my own Grandson joining in.”

If he had been jesting, it fell flat. Inire stood in his grasp, as still as death, and said nothing.The Demon profaned his grandfather’s body ever more deeply. His grandfather tried again. “Why have you come here, Inire? We’re meant to be feasting.”

Still he said nothing. Both hands were clasped in prayer, holding the inverted cross in a white-knuckle grasp, and his eyes were focussed on the mighty throne before him. Sallow gold rotated around it, forming, by turns, the seals of the Empire and his family. A deliberate heresy, he knew. No-one was equal to God. With each rotation, his eyes bulged further. His grandfather eyed the cross, and recognising it, smiled. “You still have that? You honour me with it.”

He howled suddenly, lunging. He pulled the blade from the cross, sinking it deep in his grandfather’s neck.  As the blood spurted, he sawed it in and out, screaming denunciations of heresy.

The Paladins fell back, stunned. His grandfather fell, oh so slowly, to his knees, wheezing from a ruined throat.

He raised the blade to the Imperial seal, blood dripping along its length.

“a Manu Dei e Tet rimon!”

The Paladins fell on him in a storm of blades, yet he died smiling. He had freed them all.

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