Tollman’s Journal

Somewhere to post stories, journals, and other fiction based on No Rest for the Wicked.

Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:18 pm

[Tollman’s Abacus]

*A memory engram encoded two years after the initial purges upon Seraph*

Thought for the day: Rejoice in service.

Seraph...

Part of me fell in love with this place when I first came here. I was entranced I think, by the adventurous spirit of the place. That little spark of good natured rebellion that pushes the boundaries and begets further inspiration. Part of that called to me as a scholar, then of course I came to know the place for what it really is and a little of that died. A shame really, I have often felt that this was the very spirit upon which His great crusade was founded.

We were after all explorers, once upon a time, when man first carelessly flung himself into the void with little knowledge but a thirst for more. We were ignorant then, innocent perhaps. But we know better now...

I remember visiting the Sea of Tranquillity, I watched auto cars and lifters crawl across the mega highways and cyclopean cityscape where once, my books tell me there was nought but ash and dust. There is a legend, a romantic little tale, of an archaeotech horde out there somewhere. A fortune in the form of man’s first landing site upon the surface of blessed Luna.

I think perhaps it was there once, but now it is long gone.

Turned to ash when [REDACTED] came home to see his father’s throne or paved across by the adepts of Mars, too small a find to even come to their notice. A sad thought yes, but one best left to the past for sure.

We know better now.

We know that survival is not a birth right but rather something rested from the clutches of a hostile galaxy by heroes long forgotten.

Not that I am saying any of this.

My lecture today concerns other matters.

The scholam is upper spine, of course. One of the most prestigious on the planet I am told, which I imagine on a planet that prides itself upon the quality of its scholam system must mean something indeed. Not that it matters to me, I’d talk at a underhive junk school if I felt that someone might come away having learned something. I like to tour the scholams of Seraph and its moons. Partly because it allows me to keep an eye on what is being taught and by whom but also because it allows me to give something back in my own way.

The scholam masters turn this to their advantage naturally, this lecture theatre, appointed in what I am again told is a perfect production of some ancient seat of learning. Wood panels, real wood no less, merged with compuscreens and holo casters. All the latest in educational tools at the finger tips of a lecturer.

Not that I am using any of it.

My audience looks down at me as I slowly circle the bounds of the pit I find myself in. Apparently the this vaunted old style was to cage men of learning so that they might be seen and studied form all angles as they gave their lectures. Above me in tiered seating I see young lords and ladies, older ones too. Merchants with money and perhaps even I think the odd military man or woman down from the orbital pickets.

Some of the younger ones are students here, others have come from elsewhere to hear me talk. Some of them I suspect, paying handsomely just so they can say they have laid eyes upon an Inquisitor in person. Something to tell their friends about in their salons and the like, I imagine. It is good they are here of course, this is the next generation of nobility for this world, those who will inherit the estates of their fathers and mothers. Those who would be made great by the fortune of their birth.

It is my hope that they learn something.

I know some of the faces looking back down at me, supporters and enemies gained during my work here. They are here to keep an eye on me as surely as I am keeping an eye on them. It’s good to be seen by the people sometimes, just like it is good to give something back. I know some of the faces looking back down at me, but they do not know me. I put them here by virtue of paying scholarship funds and the like.

My associates often ask me where all the money that comes my way goes, I exclaim, that I am a man of simple tastes. I like bolt shells and books for example. But a fair chunk of my funds go to invest in something far more dangerous than bolt shells and just as worthwhile as books.

Minds.

There are six of them, three from the lower hive. One from a mid hive merchant family of little import and two from offworld. I find them in the course of my work. Orphans sometimes, soon to be orphans other times. Some of them have families which seek the best for them, others are locked in a cycle of misery and ruin. So when I see potential, I do my best to give it a chance to blossom. I recognise after all, that I am only standing here addressing these lords and ladies because [REDACTED] took me from the ruin of [REDACTED] and gave me a chance to be more than just another meaningless statistic.

It is nice to give something back.

I talk about that, I talk about virtue and how it is a shield against heresy.

What I do not say is that heretical thought is akin to sexual fantasy and the like. Everyone has them from time to time, even the most disciplined of minds in fact and anyone who says else wise is woefully naive at best and a poor liar at worst. Our obsession with what is and is not heresy is both justified and dangerous. It simply is not natural and perhaps in its own way it does more damage than good sometimes.

We were explorers once...

...But we know better now.

My audience is attentive.

Some of them at least.

Of my six prospects four of them are paying attention, of the other two. One of the off worlders and one of the down hivers...Off world is staring into space, I suspect he might well be a psych job, too much trauma and shock. It happens sometimes, people see things they are not meant to and they simply do not recover. Down hive is eyeing pretty women or men or perhaps even both. I feel an urge to laugh at that.

This one thinks he is still in the juve gangs for sure.

Though in a way, he has the right of it.

They’re like a collection of gangs, these nobles. The men bristle and sneer at each other when they think their fellows are not watching. The women flick their fans this way and that, I’m told it’s a subtle form of communication between them. Some of it about me I suspect, yes, I rather imagine some of those high paying men and women have come here with designs upon me. More than a few if my experience of Seraphim noblewomen is anything to go by.

Some of these people would...

...Well.

I put that thought aside, after all, part of my experience here is that the man or woman looking up at me from the pillow tonight could well be looking up at me from a court dock the next day.

That is the way of things here.

I turn instead to the crux of my lesson.

My sole prop is a simple abacus, a simple thing, six racks of beads alternating between rows of black and rows of white. I spell it out for them simply every set of two represents a component of what it is to be human. Body at the base, the mind in the middle and the soul at the highest. At each level we may commit deeds that are righteous, thus moving the white beads along and we may perform deeds that are unrighteous, thus moving the black beads along. I tell them that the white beads must always outnumber the black and that they must live accordingly. Charity, hope, sacrifice and more, these are the things of nobility.

That is what I tell them.

What I do not tell them is that it is far more complex than that.

You see, on an abacus, there are an equal number of beads.

Black.

White.

The numbers are the same.

I have come to realise this, all the beads on my abacus were once white, but since I have painted half of them black. I have come to realise that there are times where it is not enough to just be pure of thought and deed. Sometimes there are things which must be done, things which move those black beads along, one way or another.

Sometimes we need to move the black beads so that we may shuffle the white ones along.

I’d say that the trick is balance, but that implies an illusion of control, that this is a process than can any in any other way than how it is going to end.

That isn’t the case.

It never was.

I think I’ll leave my abacus to [REDACTED] when I am done, that seems somehow fitting to me.
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:42 pm

[A dream]

Three fingers on my right hand, my left knee cap.

These are the parts of Ambrose Cordell Tollman that are no longer the parts of Ambrose Cordell Tollman…

The knee I lost on Esramir, smashed by shots and bayonetted from me.

The fingers…An aspect of [REDACTED] cut them from me with a blade so sharp I didn’t even realise it had happened till I removed my gauntlet and discovered that three of my fingers were not to be found there.

Little parts of me, given willingly of course.

But that is how we start, isn’t it?

We spend so much time concerned about the cost to the mind and the soul that we oft forget the body.

I have haptic sensors in my fingers, they tell me what I am supposed to be feeling.

But I feel nothing.

My left knee aches when the cold comes or witchery is afoot.

But I feel nothing.

They of Mars preach to me that the machine is strong and through embracing it they become more. But I have seen them walking, seen them struggle with something so basic as humour and miss out on higher things such as love.

I think it obscene.

But such thoughts do no one any good, so I keep them to myself.

Though I know, the bionics are like the drugs, they make you lesser.

They make you lesser.

I had a dream last night.

A hood in black and red, the colours of my Ordo.

A skull, metal or bone, it doesn’t matter.

No mouth, just an array of tubing.

A single eye, gazing out from a socket.

All that is left.

I woke screaming.

I’ve no shame in saying that.
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:36 pm

[Acheron]

*A vox engram encoded upon a data sheet slipped between the pages. The recording is of a dry, slightly rasping voice, conveying the impression of being spoken in the dark hours of the early morning perhaps.*

Thought for the day: I shall make my own home be as my gallows.

Old words those, pre-heresy, pre-unification in fact. Their true source unknown, lost to the fires of the past but for a chance happening upon a notation scrawled in the margin of another text, long since consigned to the cleansing fires of the future…He hated them, I’ve always found that to be one of the great ironies of my position. Oh how He hated them, the book burners…

I become one when required.

I’ve burned many a man and many a witch atop a pyre of their own works in my time and I’ll burn many more before my time is done.

There’s this idea of me, I’m told, that I am somehow blameless.

No.

That’s the wrong word.

Bloodless.

That’s better.

That I am somehow removed from the things I do, that my hands don’t get dirty. It’s not the case, there are times perhaps where I wish it was, but then I remember if it were not me, it would be a thousand others, a million others.

Do you know that we have no idea how many Inquisitors there actually are?

My hands got dirty when I became an Interrogator, my mentor saw to that, they saw to that.

I could never go back now.

The blood doesn’t rest on my hands, gloves, armour, eventually soap and water, all of these things see to that.

But sometimes I can still smell it.

Sometimes.

A small price to pay to protect my home, this Imperium of ours.

My home…

This ship…Silently slipping between the cracks, gliding between the shadows of stars, collecting its cargo of witch-breeds and bringing His wrath where needed.

My home…

I fear it.

My cargo is dangerous. So very dangerous.

We all know it.

We can’t avoid it.

I could join them…

Every time I get one of those headaches.

I fear it.

We all do.

We can’t avoid it.

But this is our home.

The quiet halls.

The sterile spaces.

We’d all die to defend it.

We’d all die to defend our Imperium too.

I touched something on the bridge today, some slight scoring upon the side of the command throne. An imperfect repair, a relic.

I’d burn it like those books I treasure.

Acheron reporting damage all decks. Venting atmosphere, hull breaches on decks 34 through 59. 6000 souls lost…Enemy vessel breaking up. No escape craft. Confirmed detonation of primary engine cores…

I’d burn it all.

…Your will is done Inquisitor

I’d burn it all.
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:01 pm

[Funus Imperatoris]

[REDACTED BY EDICT OF THE ORDO HERETICUS]
[REDACTED BY EDICT OF THE ORDO MALLEUS]



Image
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:36 pm

[Secrets]

Tollman’s fingers moved over the mechanism of the auto rifle, the metal and wood was cool under the tips of his fingers, his real ones anyway. The ferro-ceramic digits of his bionic were occupied elsewhere, tapping words into his journal. Much like his hand, no part of the rifle was truly real. The metal, some junk compound from the southern forges of his home world and the wood was vat grown, such that it was.

He had owned the weapon for years, since childhood in fact, having being issued it by dint of is passing from one corpse to another in a hail of gunfire. He’d fired it a few times then, sometimes out of anger, other times out of cowardice. It didn’t really matter which, there had been no commissars for the civilian militias, hastily assembled to meet the latest foe to set their eyes upon visiting their own brand of armageddon upon Armageddon. Partly because the commissars were busy overseeing the real soldiers, partly because there were not enough of them to go around. But mostly it was because the enemy did an effective job on their behalf…

It served a purpose, to keep this thing. Mostly it was calming, to take it apart and reassemble it, over and over, like the real soldiers had shown him before they died. Though now he found, one handed, for to his mind, to touch it with the bionic would be to somehow taint the thing. Sometimes touching the thing brought back the memories, other times he found it brought the headaches and so it lived in his foot locker, seeing the artificial light of wherever he happened to be staying less and less these days.

Still, it was something.

There was a dry click as he slid a bolt into its housing, clumsy now that he had to do it one handed. Today it was the memories, flashes of a time half remembered. Faces came to him; sometimes he even had names for them. Today it was a woman who had lived down the hall from him in the hab-complex, she had been friends with his mother, she had answered the call when the soldiers came around and called for the militia, every man, woman and child above the age of 12. Tollman had been 13, just. The woman from down the hall had died screaming less than three days later as he recalled…

That was the great truth of Armageddon, a world which put the guns into the hands of the soldiers of the Imperium of Man. That those without guns in their hands died as quickly and as readily as those with guns in their hands.

Another click, another bolt.

Truth.

His life had been about that once, so he had thought, when he had first met [REDACTED] who had set him on the path. She had taught him much and in many ways still did. Tollman knew enough now to know that while he did still seek truth, some truths were dangerous, others were best left unknown and some truths…

Well…

Secrets.

An Inquisitor can be defined by the secrets they keep.

The bionic deftly tapped the words into the journal, his thoughts expressed through digital medium as he recalled the words of [REDACTED]. She had spoken them to him in his early teens when he had been an interrogator. When he had learned of the task and how he would spend his time seeking the secrets of dangerous individuals, dragging them into the light of the pyre or ploughing them under deeper still as necessary.

He kept so many secrets, so many of those dangerous truths… But so few of them were his own. There were things Tollman knew, the correct codes to authorise the weaponry that shattered the crusts and cores of planets, the manner in which one could directly contact the High Lords of Terra. Commands and ciphers that could see Titan Legios walk and Astartes drop from orbit upon a world all this and more.

Classified information.

Secrets…

Those were different, he reflected, his ceramic fingers bringing the words forth into reality. Secrets were things like…The names of cults, their members, the little indiscretions of the noble classes, matters of forbidden lore and such. Some of these things were beneath him, others were not, it did rather depend.

But these were things he had learned, the secrets of others.

Tollman had so very few secrets of his own.

That place he could visit, that place he could visited but did not dare to do so for he knew it would hurt him… That truth that [REDACTED] had revealed to him about how the [REDACTED] had changed the face of the galaxy itself through their [REDACTED] the wreck of the galaxy having been wrought by [REDACTED] so long ago.

There was one secret in particular…

Perhaps one of his most terrible, based purely on just how personal it was.

He had let that secret go.

Something he considered as he slid the sights onto the rifle.

He had shared it with someone in the hopes that his experience would help her move past her own. He had shared it with her because it was important that she did. He had shared it with her because it was unhealthy to keep such things to oneself. Secrets were at once like armour and wounds. Secrets could protect you but they could also destroy you.

It had been an act of trust.

But not one given freely…

…A certain thought had occurred to him after all.

In his vocation, trust was often death.

Time would tell there.

The rifle was complete, Tollman found his thoughts turning to the woman that had lived down-hab from him…

She had been brave too.

They had both been brave.
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:04 pm

[Lines]

*A recently encoded memory engram*

Thought for the day: A coward’s only reward is to live in fear for another day.

I remember a time a time when the things I did were much simpler, they could be separated into that which was good and that which was evil. That which was white and that which was black. Naturally that is not to say that I am or was an evil man, more so that there were times where I was compelled to do things which I did not agree with in order to accomplish greater goals such as bringing down that which is truly evil and corrupt.

To do evil in order to do good is…

Suffice it to say I find the line less clear these days, sometimes I think I see the end in sight. Sometimes I worry that others see it too…

Then I recall that upon reflection, the simpler times were no less terrible, it was just a different kind of horror all along…

I remember…

Lord Colbert of the noble Confederation of Rekarth took another sip of the chilled amnesac, having thanked his host, the noble Lord-Governor Kell-Seville with a graceful nod. Lord Colbert had loved amnesac, too much certainly, the medical scans had told that truth. Damage to the liver and the surrounding tissues.

Death within ten years or so.

Not that it mattered.

Lord Colbert of the noble Confederation of Rekarth was currently slowly decomposing in one of the recycling vats located around the hive spire.

I know this because I put him there…

…I put him there because Lord Colbert of the noble Confederation of Rekarth was in fact, a heretic.

His time table stated that he was here upon a trade mission from the Confederation of Rekarth, a system somewhat further spinward than the planet he found himself upon now. My intelligence stated that Colbert was a follower of the ruinous powers and that he had lead the good Lord-Governor Kell-Seville astray to the point where he was ready to attempt to succeed from the Imperium of Man.

Arkel.

The world had been called Arkel.

There were noble houses there, engaged in the games of intrigue and politics such people tend to play.

The taint had started with Kell-Seville and had moved throughout the houses of Arkel, spreading its lies and its poison. Accidents were arranged for the non-compliant. The population fed a steady diet of misinformation and propaganda to the point where they could not see the true face of their enemy…

Lord Colbert of the noble Confederation of Rekarth sat upon the Lord-Governor Kell-Seville high spire residence, looking down upon the continent city that sprawled outwards in every direction from the spire. It was civilised, the amnesac was of the highest quality and their discussion of the unfolding heresy carried out in gentle tones.

I practiced for weeks, scrubbing the factories of Armageddon from my speech and replacing them with the clipped, breathless High Gothic of Rekarth. The face was mine though, no one here had seen Colbert after all…

The first explosion tore the heart out of the commercial docks.

And Colbert sipped his drink.

The second ripped open the part of the hive that hosted one of the houses involved with the conspiracy.

And Colbert sipped his drink.

By now Kell-Seville was upon his feet, leaning over the edge of the balcony as he watched the series of explosions unfolding across his capitol.

There was a pattern there, each explosion tearing through a noble house or its interests. Spaced far enough apart to look like retaliation going back and forth between the houses. The game of houses played here, coming to an end in this one, final, costly night of blood and fire.

You could hear the screaming in the distance, between the explosions.

Each blast carefully calculated to cause the most collateral damage it could.

Every now and then, secondary devices saw to the destruction of fire and medicae crews responding to frantic pleas for aid.

Kell-Seville had asked why.

Colbert had set his drink down then, coming to join Kell-Seville upon the edge of the balcony.

The work of the hated Imperium, Colbert had ventured.

That was perfect for Kell-Seville, the final push the world needed.

Unless of course…

Colbert had elaborated.

Unless of course the explosions were made to look like the work of the houses themselves…

Imagine that, Colbert had continued, the most terrifying and bloody terrorist attack in the history of the planet, the work of its own government…

Already you could hear the shooting in the streets, the reports of rifle and las-weapon as the population rose up, seeking to revenge itself against those who would waste their lives so callously in pursuit of their own petty power.

Kell-Seville had asked why once more, he had asked as Colbert’s hands grasped the fine silk of his shirt, he had asked as those hands pitched him over the edge of the balcony…

“Because it is righteous…”

Colbert had answered.

Kell-Seville screamed all the way down.

He screamed for a long time.

Long enough for Colbert to finish his drink.
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:36 pm

Tollman shifted in the throne, the motion bringing with it the combined scent of old leather, blood and amnesec, the burning visage of LV 7-86 playing across the thick glass of the observation dome. Nuclear fire warred with rampant geo-thermic spikes from the ruptured core of the planetoid as they raced to consume it…

Nothing lived there now, the highly calibrated sensors the Acheron had for instances such as these told him so. Not that they needed to, not any more. Tollman did not just watch the planetoid burning, he felt it, he heard it, heard it and everything on it scream as the fire rose to claim them. Then he had heard the silence and so he had come here, turning his ruined eyes to space as he watched the fires and drank to those who had not made it back to the fleet.

They would come for him soon, Tollman could not feel them, yet, but he knew they were there. Somewhere beneath him, slowly making their way up towards the observation dome. He glanced at the chronometer set into the arm of the throne, having to squint quite hard in order to be able to see the numbers.

Nothing for it but bionics, the medicae had told him.

Tollman responded with a bitter little laugh as he walked, navigating his way out of the medical bay as if he could see.

He could see though.

He saw them every time he closed his eyes.

They looked upon him the darkness, eyeless sockets, burned and black.

Always at night, with the moon fat and high.

There were those he knew, the recent dead and those he did not and indeed those he did not care to know, Kessel and Tanhauser among them.

They looked at him.

Nothing more…

And behind them…

It was always there.

It had no eyes.

But it could see none the less.

It looked at him as well.

Tollman killed the urge to scream with another hit of amnesec and turned back to the data slates.

They told him many things, though he had to hold them close to his face to learn of them.

They told him of an alien menace and the bravery of man and the angels that defended his works with fire. They told him things that gelled with what he had learned. They told him of the location of all of the inhabited planets in the vicinity of LV 7-86.

They told him what he must do.

Finishing his drink with a sigh, Tollman rose from the throne and began to shuffle towards the grav lift.

They were coming for him, a delegation of the Silent Sisterhood, coming to take him below decks.

Not too far though, upon a Black-Ship, there were after all, passengers and then there was cargo…

Cargo went to the black decks.

Tollman keyed in the codes that allowed access, killing the trembling in his hand with a moment of focus, coming to lean against the bulkhead as the lift hurtled down the grav shaft, free falling for miles as it descended towards the black decks.

A fitting penance for what it is he had to do.

Even before he had accessed the records, he had known, stopping off in his quarters long enough to adjust his abacus to reflect this new sin and his proposed penance before liberating a bottle and heading up to the observation deck, the marching steps of the Silent Sisters upon his heels.

The elevator stopped then.

Two floors short.

Tollman sighed.

So that’s what that feels like…


The thought crossed his mind just as the doors opened and the sheer…Absence of the sisters, hit him full in the face, forcing him back against the bulkhead as they entered, their touch oddly gentle despite how firm it was as they formed up around him and entered their own destination.

Upwards.

Upon a Black Ship, there was after all, cargo and then there were passengers…
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Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Fri Dec 02, 2016 9:16 pm

His Angels

--

I saw Him today.

Or tonight perhaps.

I am not permitted a chronometer here.

Not permitted…

That is not something I hear often any more…But that is beside the point…I saw Him today and what is more, He saw me…

--

The slap breaks my chain of thought, bringing me back to reality.

Gauntlet, armoured, the taste of blood from a split lip and the sharp rush of a new pain that rapidly faded into a dull echo amongst my other hurts.

The question.

“How may you ask the Emperor what He owes of you?”

There are five of them, slender armoured shapes, one in each corner of the room and one stood before me. Their accents clipped, High Gothic spoken through the vox casters of their armour, sealed and warded appropriately of course. I’ve lost track of which one spoke and which one came forth to strike me across the face.

Such things would never occur above deck…

But I am not above deck…

I am below.

Even the passengers go below eventually.

And here…The difference between passengers and cargo blurs with alarming ease, as I have come to learn.

The question at hand though…

Ravenor, The Spheres of Longing…

I rattle off the chapter and verse before making my reply.

“All I owe is to the Golden Throne and by duty I shall repay…”

--

To say that He saw me is somewhat disingenuous on my part, that implies some sort of personal connection and while we are connected now, He and I. To say He saw me sounds like He looked me in the eyes or acknowledged me in some way. No, better to say that He became aware of me and I became aware of Him.

Yes.

I have seen His angels though.

And they have seen me.

--

Another slap, the back of the hand this time, I feel blood trickle from my nose as another of the Sisters speaks.

“Chaos claims the unwary or the incomplete…”

There is a purpose to this. Once we believed that the mere act of the binding and subsequent branding was enough. But in time we observed those who came to us with darkness hidden in their souls and those who had been claimed by the fell powers. So now we know better and so we begin with the Holy words, those that cannot be spoken by them that serve the darkness. Then we move to logic and philosophy to ensure that one’s facilities are still intact and so we come to.

“…A true man may flinch away its embrace, if he is stalwart, and he girds his soul with the armour of contempt…”

Ravenor again, the Armour of Contempt this time.

I state the chapter and verse for the sake of completeness, I can see where this is going now.

--

It was [Redacted] I think.

Or perhaps [Redacted] I cannot seem to focus on that particular aspect of the memory.

It has to be almost forty years ago now, I was a boy then and this was my first taste of full scale planetary conflict since leaving my home planet.

This was a different war though.

On Armageddon you always knew your enemy. First came the howling Greenskin hordes and then came the [Redacted] and so we knew who to fight. Here though on [Redacted] it had come as a surprise as these things often did. The taint of Chaos spreading unseen until [Redacted] had erupted in a searing hotbed of rebellion, openly declaring for the worship of [Redacted]. Of course, [Redacted] was home to [Redacted] and so could not simply be burned from orbit.

The conflict had raged for two years by the time I got there. The forces of the enemy had escalated as they were driven back, calling upon their foul sorcery in the hopes of forcing us from the planet. It had become a mind war, witches doing psychic battle with our sanctioned battalions for the soul of the planet and so my mentor Inquisitor [Redacted] had come to [Redacted] to lend her aid where she could.

[Redacted] had gone deep, located a [Redacted] which of course needed to be addressed. So she called to me and I traveled with our answer…

--

No question, a blow to the back this time, the sharp edge of an armoured heel scoring the flesh of my back. I lean forwards in the shackles that hold me, listening for the question or the refrain I am to quote back to them to prove I am sane and untainted. I laugh however, the sound earning me a blow to the back of the head, a fist by the feel of it, as I consider that somewhere across our great Imperium, there are people who would willingly pay for this sort of treatment.

“Verses of Sigismund, Book One Hundred and Five, Verse One…”


That clipped accept hisses at me, even the vox caster cannot hide the annoyance inherent to how each is considered and capitalised.

A challenge.

One to lead to additional punishment, I gather.

Silence, in which I hear my tormentor tense for another blow.

I part my lips, cracked and bloody and speak the answer.

“You carry the Emperor's will as your torch, with it destroy the shadows.”

--

There were five of them.

A combat squad they said.

A force to conquer worlds, I thought.

The answer to our pleas for aid in the face of the horror that had been unleashed upon this world by the forces of the Archenemy.

I only saw one of their faces, the rest never removed their helms, not once. They at once awed me and saddened me. Awe, here was, a boy stood among angels. Their mission was to see me to my mistress and then tackle [Redacted] while she and I [Redacted]. My part was relatively minor in all this, I knew it would be, but to me, it felt as if I would be marching to war with them, shoulder to shoulder.

Sadness, I witnessed them kneel before each other and swear upon their bonds of brotherhood that in this moment they would see this thing done or die in the attempt. I knew something of them, the post humans, I knew how no one knew how old they might live to. How they were each gifted with an immortality they would never enjoy. The scourge of conflict would deny all of them an old age. How many of them were great thinkers, artists, philosophers and scientists. How many of them could be so much more than they were now but would never get that chance.

I felt for them.

I felt for them because I understood that for them there truly was only war.

I felt for them because I knew my history and so I knew exactly how many Astartes Brothers a Thunderhawk Gunship could and should hold…

--

I smelled it before I heard her withdraw it from the coals. Hot iron has a scent all of its own, did you know that?

I certainly do.

I had known exactly where this was going, it could after all end in only one of two ways. We had played this game for hours and now it was time to finish. They begin to speak the words, the last part of this process, oddly enough the part I hold the most quiet dread of. Why? Because the brand makes it real, the mark of the witch, seared into the skin, the matter closed and final until your dying day.

I hear only some of it.

“You must face the truth squarely and without flinching from duty. Our Enemies are mortal no longer. Mercy for such as they is a chimera, self-deception is its only ally.”

One of Heers’ lectures, I take some solace in the fact that my captors are at least well read. Though the words, obviously chosen with me in mind burn in my ears more surely than the brand will upon my flesh momentarily.

--

It was their care for me that touched me the most. They never said anything of it and spoke to me only when necessary. But I saw it. There was a moment as we descended into the Hive, [Redacted] where the gunship bounced through flack and various other anti-air munitions, hymns of devotion and vengeance pouring from its loud hailers. The drop bays had opened as was standard, the sides of this particular model drawing back to expose a nightmarish vista.

A shell burst close a few moment later, nothing to worry about of course, not to a great and noble beast like this machine. But a shard caught me, ripping a small line in my cheek. I laughed of course, hoping to impress these giants with my bluster… Knowing that their only real consideration for me was the fact that I bore the seal of my mistress and an Interrogator’s pin upon my breastplate. Of course, it was not until I came to learn more of the Astartes that I knew they had been able to hear my heartbeat and so had known full well just how terrified I actually was then.

But I stood.

I stood as we bounced through the fire towards the drop point.

One of them moved.

Oh, it was a slight movement, barely perceptible, for a moment or two I wasn’t even sure it had actually happened. No, a slight shifting of his shoulder, dropping it a touch so that I would be shielded by the ceramite plate.

He had nodded.

I have never forgotten that.

In fact, looking back I believe this is in fact the exact moment where I came to believe that there were no [Redacted] only [Redacted] and that [Redacted] was not [Redacted].

--

They burn me then.

Pressing the mark of my shame and horror into my flesh.

I would scream.

But I have burned before and all I can see are His angels.
War across the stars...for every child...
Designer Bloodstain
Captain
Captain
Ambrose Cordell Tollman
 
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:06 pm

Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:26 pm

The Kryptman Protocol

Tollman stood upon the bridge of the Acheron, it was quiet there, much more so than usual. The Black Ships of the Inquisition were not known for being raucous and merry places at the best of time. But this quiet, this was something entirely different from the norm. It was different because today, Tollman was about one of the highest and most solemn duties of his office as an Inquisitor…

The planet did not have a real name, just a designation and little else. It was one of the myriad of worlds out here beyond the line, claimed by some Rogue Trader Dynasty or another. Such things meant little to Tollman, he cared not so much who would think to set themselves as ruler over these worlds but rather that they did so in a fashion that did not lead to outright heresy and more of this grim work.

Ordinarily he would not have looked at this place twice, but Tollman knew what was down there. It was a so called treasure planet, a pleasure world maintained for the purposes of playing to the vanity of a Lord Captain who had since passed away. Vanity was something many of that ilk suffered from, Tollman allowed himself the ghost of a smirk as he thought to name a few, anything to distract him from his current task, even it if was for but a moment.

This world had changed, things had progressed beyond mere vanity. Below him stood a world where in the name of greed, scientists had experimented upon xenos bioforms and had attempted to exploit such creatures and integrate their traits with pure human stock. Below him stood a world where he had seen such horrors, heresy in open action. Below him stood a world where he had been hurt more grievously than he had ever been hurt before. Below him stood a world where a number of his friends who had ventured to the surface, returned to the stars in boxes and body bags.

Below him stood a world that needed to burn…

There was a chime followed by a red glow that washed the bridge entirely, giving all present something of a more sinister cast, almost as if it foreshadowed exactly what they had come here to do. These things dragged Tollman’s attention back to the real world for a moment. Sensors, specifically calibrated for this sort of thing, had reached out to the planet below, plotting perfectly the firing solutions that would see this world sunder and burn.

Tollman had never done this before, he had never given this particular order and in truth had hoped that he would never had to. But this time had come, there was no choice. He had seen the [Redacted] and indeed it had seen him. The [Redacted] knew to come this way now and it would not stop until it had consumed all in its path. As such it behoved Tollman to ensure that when [Redacted] arrived there would be nothing to find. No new biomass, nothing with which to build and grow and multiply.

Only dead worlds, stripped of life at the sub-atomic level.

This was the measure of the tools at his disposal, this was the measure of his resolve. Tollman had never given this order before, but the Acheron, over the long years of its service had acuminated a number of planet-kills. As such its systems were well suited to this sort of business, not that Tollman allowed it control. No, he took that data and input the firing sequences himself, it seemed correct that the hand of a man and not that of a machine should be that initiated this course of action.

Firing solutions accepted, Inquisitor.

The ship intoned to him, its machine voice light, obviously not burdened by the weight of what it was about to do. Tollman nodded to himself before pressing another set of buttons, this having the effect of producing a few moments of vibration as the Acheron extended its guns and focused them upon its targets below.

The Acheron was a powerful vessel, well protected from the horrors without and indeed within. As such it was heavily armed, well suited to engage the manifold enemies of mankind. But the guns it extended now were not part of its usual armament. Over charged lance batteries and specific torpedo tubes, all things too slow and cumbersome to be of any use in a void engagement but perfect for the task of cracking a planet.

Another chime, another set of lights.

Authorisation was required of course, such weapons could not be deployed upon a whim. Tollman granted such, slipping the Rosette from his neck and holding it within his hand for a moment or two. Here was a thing, such a simple thing to look at. A gothic “I” cast of silver, a simple skull with a tiny rub set in one of its eye socket. It was heavy, both in the real and metaphysical sense. Here was a thing that gave an Imperial citizen nearly unlimited authority. The Rosette declared that nothing was beyond the sight of an Inquisitor and all things could be brought into the light. The Rosette allowed an Inquisitor to commandeer resources and co-opt personnel as and when necessary. The Rosette also gave an Inquisitor the ability to enact this most final of sanctions upon a world…

Perhaps then, that was why they made them so heavy…

Tollman considered this as he pressed it into the slot that had opened up in the control panel before him, using the hated bionic that served him for a left hand for that task, his right coming to press against the gene reader as it compared the information encoded upon the Rosette to the information it could read through his living flesh. A moment later he was required to provide further confirmation and thus he went about this. His living voice and that of the machine, the only real sounds upon the bridge now.

Tollman, Cordell, Ambrose

He spoke each word and the series of numerical codes that followed, slowly and clearly, ensuring that his name was put to this monstrous act. Tollman knew what he did was right, he knew that it was necessary. The sacrifice of a few billion across a handful of worlds in order to save trillions across thousands of worlds. The numbers made sense, as cold and as clear as the firing solutions he had plotted. That didn’t change the nature of the act however, that didn’t change that he felt this to be a failure, a breakdown of correct process. It was a waste, this genocide to prevent a genocide…

Tollman knew full well that this was a crime against humanity itself.

It was a crime he would bear the shame of until his dying day.

But it had to be done.

He knew this.

All of this had happened before, this he knew. It was not widely available information of course, but his clearance, that Rosette again, had opened the right doors and unlocked the right files. Fire was the only answer. Kryptman had been right of course, his thinking was much in line with Tollman’s. The [Redacted] was much like a man lost in the woods that had seen a camp fire in the distance. Someone could put out the fire, but that man would always know that it had been there and so would proceed in that direction. As such steps needed to be taken that there was no “camp” to find when that man reached where he had seen the fire.

It all seemed so simple when he put it like that and to a degree it was. Most of the worlds that were set to burn were beyond the line and sparsely populated to boot, but then there were those that were neither of these things and this is where the problems lay. Tollman did not have the time our resources to evacuate those people, he could only undertake this current course of action in the time he had. It had been much the same for Kyrptman, though history did not treat that man well at all, despite the necessity and success of his act.

They had burned him in the end.

Tollman knew this.

There had been outcry, declarations of traitoris extremis, writs of excommunication and then of course, the pyre.

That was his face in the end, this course of action was the end of him, ultimately.

Sure, there would be some time, a conclave perhaps. But ultimately, Tollman knew that by doing this he had signed his own death warrant. Yet what was one life in the face of trillions? Indeed what were billions of lives in the face of those trillions? Things could not be otherwise and although he knew this to be the end of him, he would do it anyway.

Final authorisation received and accepted, the panel rose from its security sealed niche, the button glowing an ominous red. If anything the bridge became even more silent at this time. Tollman allowed himself a moment before taking a breath, opening the ships external communications system to broadcast his words.

Inhabitants of LV 7-86, your world is hereby subject to exteminatus extremis, may the Emperor have mercy upon your souls.

That was it, it seemed funny in a way, that a man could come to burn a world and have so little to say about it. These words would be broadcast on all frequencies to each world in his path now. There was no hiding, no attempt at stealth.
One simply could not outrun the flames…

A moment or two later, all ships in the vicinity acknowledged his message and signalled their readiness to open fire.

Tollman took a breath.

A moment later he pressed the button.

--

It was quite a thing to see a world burn, especially when it was by your own hand. Tollman sagged into the command throne, forcing himself to watch the flames as his ship pounded the surface with its lance batteries, the other vessels of the armada adding their weight of fire, fueling the flames that ate continents and boiled the seas below.

The Acheron was well shielded against warp incursions and various other psyker phenomenon, the bridge in particular. But Tollman had felt the death of the world below none the less. All pyskers had a gift and his was telepathy and so he had heard them. Heard them scream and die, felt their terror as the hard rain fell and glassed the earth beneath them. Men, women, children, xenos. All had burned and Tollman felt it all…

All eyes focused upon the view screen as they watched planet below crack and burn, no one saw how Tollman convulsed with the death trauma of the world below.

No one saw him wipe the blood that slowly flowed from one of his nostrils.

No one saw how black that vital fluid ran.

If they had, perhaps they would have countermanded his next order when he called out for them to set course for the next world they would burn in accordance with the Kyrptman protocol.

LV 7-86 was just the beginning.
War across the stars...for every child...
Designer Bloodstain
Captain
Captain
Ambrose Cordell Tollman
 
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:06 pm

Re: Tollman’s Journal

Postby Designer Bloodstain » Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:48 pm

I did it half an hour ago...

Where was I when Arboria was burned from the heavens?

I was elsewhere.

I had received a distress signal from the Spectres, a desperate call that denoted the presence of another bound daemon host.

It was as it happens, a false alarm.

Some deranged cultist, actively trying to invite his own possession. That much had been obvious pretty much as soon as Lucius had put the door through with the tip of his power armoured boot.

His pentagram was too small for a start.

The man had ranted and raved, as was the way of the heretic.

Until of course, Lucius had caved in his skull with the butt of his rifle.

I had simply shrugged and nodded, quietly relieved that it had been a false alarm, that I didn’t have to face another of these things, that I didn’t have to…

It was over by the time I got back…

…It had happened half an hour ago.

Arboria was not my home, I had never set foot there or indeed even so much as cast my naked eyes upon it from orbit.

But I call her sons my friends.

And I do not have many friends.

This marked the second time in my life where someone I called a friend had needed me and I was not there for them.

I have destroyed many worlds of late, I have given that terrible order.

Shane asked me how you live with something like that.

I told him you didn’t.

I wasn’t just talking about destroying worlds.
War across the stars...for every child...
Designer Bloodstain
Captain
Captain
Ambrose Cordell Tollman
 
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:06 pm

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