+++Author’s Note: So I’m stumbling through some old files and I ran across this one. I wrote it many many years ago and it’s just been chilling on a disk ever since. I had it show up online a couple of places, but now it seems to be lost to time. It’s a little bit of Warhammer 40,000 fic I cobbled together one night. It’s pretty rough, but then again, so is my brain. Y’all enjoy!+++
E PLURIBUS UNUM
Nobody told me dying would be like this.
Laying on my back on the ground, blood soaking through my uniform shirt.
I can still feel.
The butt of my lasgun is jammed against my hip. The air is creeping over the hole in my chest, cool tendrils caressing me like Alicia’s hair when she rested her head on me. There’s a bit of rock behind my head, not sharp, but sticking up enough to feel.
Alicia. God-Emperor, but I miss her. I wish I’d stayed home instead of signing up.
What happened anyway? What put me down?
Hey, hey, hey! Marauder overhead. Someone’s going to get pasted. Give it to them, flyboys.
Oh, Emperor’s blood, it hurts. Somebody get me a medic! I can’t reach my kit and it hurts so much!
Filthy Eldar bastards! Yeah, we hear you screaming. Hope you’re hurting real bad over there, you pointy-eared freaks. See what you get, messing with Captain Mancara’s boys? That’s right, mutie! You get screwed nine ways over!
There’s sand in my eyes.
Stop standing on me. Hey, idiot! Get off my legs! Come on, bro, don’t stand on me!
There were warning signs on the troopship doors. Why would anyone put warning signs on those doors? ‘CAUTION’. Like the door is more dangerous than what it opens onto. It sure wasn’t for us. Never has been. Back on Uvril III, sixteen guys get cut down by beastmen when the doors open. Don’t remember a single one of them saying he stubbed his toe.
I smell smoke. Chems, too. Burning plastics?
How long am I going to lay here? Is this what eternity feels like? Will I be like this forever? Emperor, no! It can’t be like this.
Ah, listen to that whine….heavy plasma gun cooking off. Autheril. Best shot in the Fourth! That’s showing them, Autie!
He’s been in for what? Seven years? Eight? Came in as a replacement on Shindar Prime. Two years before the Captain notices him and then he goes straight into Support. Stone-cold shooter.
He was with us on Mollak Secundus when the orks landed. Thousands of them. I can still see them as they ran up the hill. That Commissar with us, what was his name? Griza? Griva? Oh, well, he’s dead now, so it doesn’t matter. Standing there yelling orders. Then his arm comes off. Must’ve been thirty rounds hit that man while he stood there looking down at his arm.
Can’t believe I can’t remember his name. Seems like I should remember something like that. A man falls beside you, you should at least know his name.
I can’t feel my legs now. That can’t be good.
Golden Throne, Imperator Ultima, stand with me now in my time of need. Guide me into Your Holy Grace. Let my life be an example and my death be with honour. Let me carry no trace of heresy.
Alicia, I am sorry. I’m sorry I never married you. Sorry we never got to grow old together. Sorry we’ll never watch our children play in the fields.
Las-fire to the east. We were moving east. It’s Imperial guns, too, not Eldar. Get some for me, boys! Looks like I won’t be there at the victory party. Somebody raise a glass for me. To me.
Somebody remember my name…
Holy Father of Mankind, I commend my soul to You. Save me from the taint of Chaos. Guard me always from evil.
Where is the medic? I’m bleeding here!
Stupid. Should have ducked. It was a shuriken cannon. Huh. Now I can remember it. Dark blue armour. Massive crest on the helmet. Boots reinforced, spikes on the heels to hold the heretic in place when it fired. When it shot me. When it killed me.
I’m getting my uniform dirty laying here. I hope they clean me up before they bury me. No point, I guess. They bury you in the dirt anyway.
Why is no one helping me? Oh, Emperor, I never helped the fallen either. Strange it takes something like this to show just how much of a bastard I really am. Did they think this way, too? Did I rush past them to the line, too busy to even offer comfort to the dying? By the Golden Throne, did I step on them?
My name will be inscribed in the Regimental Honor Rolls. I will be remembered.
A medic! Praise the Emperor! Yes, I can feel it! It hurts! Help me, man! Yes, I see your bloody fingers. Two! You’re holding up two fingers! Yes, there’s sand in my eyes, but who cares? Get me a bandage and some Morphex! What the hell are you doing? NO! No, oh Emperor, no, don’t let him close my eyes…
I don’t want to be dead.
Don’t give up on me.
It’s so dark.
Imperial Father of Terra, hold me in Your Holy embrace as I…
“Another one,” noted the Graves Registration Trooper as he examined the stretcher brought to him by the pair of exhausted Guardsmen. “That’s about the four-hundredth one you guys brought up today. Anyone important?”
“Naw,” answered the first Guardsman. “Just another stiff. Bled on me, though.”
Breathing heavily from exertion, his partner nodded to the man from Graves.
“Can ya just take his damned tags so we can throw him on the bus? There’s another two hundred out there,” he griped, jerking his head toward the line of Guardsmen carrying the dead.
“Yeah, yeah,” replied the Trooper. He pulled the tags from around the Guardsman’s neck, snapped them off the chain and slipped them into a handheld auspex that whined and rattled as it absorbed the data stamped on the chip. It made a beeping noise as a rune flashed from red to green and the Graves Trooper removed the tags, jamming them roughly into the mouth of the corpse. A tiny strip of parchment came from the side of the auspex and he casually dropped it into a box with all the others.
He never bothered to look at the name.