Back From the Dead
An Unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Story
- Reading time: 5 minutes
- Contains graphic descriptions
Slowly, each head in the auditorium turns and locks onto you. Pouty and smug faces become wide-eyed and slack-jawed; some even point!
The line of hopefuls, waiting for their chance to see the Governor, parts before you. By the time you’ve crossed the room, you can practically feel a sea of eyes boring into the back of your head.
The Governor himself sits behind a bronze desk. He’s leaning heavily on one elbow, his eyes practically closed, and the sharp scent of expensive amasec wafting from his fat lips.
“Who’s next?” He mumbles to the aide beside him.
His staff are too busy staring at you. Even the ring of PDF soldiers and security officers around the auditorium can’t help but throw double-takes in your direction.
The governor tuts as he looks up. “Cotton in your ears? I said-” his beady eyes fall on you, widen, then immediately become wet with tears. “Cambrasia?” He rises to his feet.“ Cambrasia!” His massive gut flips over the table, and his flabby legs force him to waddle as he crosses the distance and embraces you. “Daughter!” He blubbers, “I thought you were lost, I thought that you- that you’d…”
You rest a hand on the side of his face. “It’s okay father, I’m here, I’m safe. The Emperor was merciful and delivered me to safety.”
You and your father turn towards the voice.
Alek Marstrom, the man you had entered with, smiles wryly at your father. “Indeed, the Emperor mercifully delivered Lady Cambrasia’s stricken corvette into my trade route. Dare I say, had I arrived any later, I may not have been able to save her life. But now that she has been safely escorted home, at great expense to my vessel’s reverses of fuel and provisions… Perhaps her doting father would like to consider demonstrating his gratitude?”
The Governor looks Alek up and down.
He’s tall and lean. His skin is a smooth and rich dark brown. A red leather greatcoat sits tight against his body, and a pelt from some exotic and white-furred beast drapes over his shoulders.
The Governor raises an eyebrow. “You style yourself a Rogue Trader boy?”
“Ha! I wish, no, I am merely a Free Chartered merchant doing my civic duty.”
Now the Governor returns Alek’s wry smile. He waves an aide forward. “Speak to this one, we’ll see that you’re appropriately rewarded.” Now his attention returns to you. “How are you feeling, are you okay? When I heard that there’d been a Warp accident… I looked for you, ships were sent to your entry and exit points, and almost every system in between, we-”
His small eyes soften as he looks at you.
“It’s not your fault.”
He lowers his head, his shoulder shaking, “thank you, daughter!” He blubbers.
“Come now father, you are a Planetary Governor, appearances must be maintained.”
He hesitates, then draws himself up, pulls out a crisp white handkerchief, and wipes the wetness from his face.
“Rejoice!” He booms, taking your arm and facing the packed auditorium. “My only daughter, Lady Cambrasia, whom for 2 years we thought lost, has today returned!”
The room breaks out into cheering and applause. You cling to your father’s arm and smile sheepishly for the pict-capturers.
Your father leans towards you. “Your room is untouched; I’ll have it freshened for you. Do you need anything else?”
“A meal, a boy, and a vox-unit, I’d very much like to tell my friends that I’m not dead.
“That’s all? I was going to offer-”
Vomit slaps against the floor behind you, interrupting your father.
Vaughn, your father’s pet psyker, is bent double but glaring at you.
The two PDF soldiers assigned to him already have their laspistols against his skull.
Drool and globules of phlegm drip from Vaughn’s thin lips as an invisible pain forces his teeth to gnash together. “My Lord.” Vaughn croaks. As he speaks, one side of his face becomes flaccid, whilst the other pulls taught. “This one reeks of the warp. Please have it inspected before allowing it to-”
Vaughn’s head snaps back, a blast shears it apart above the brow and evacuates his brains in a spray of pink flesh.
Your father reloads his stub-revolver and retracts the implant back into his arm. “Anyone else fancies insulting my daughter? No? Good!”
You lean back against your settee’s cushion, enjoying the smell of perfumed soap coming from your still damp hair.
You reach over and pick up the room’s vox-unit, then set about pulling it apart. You look over your shoulder, then flex your fingers. The digits elongate, split, then soften into a mass of writhing and pin-thin tendrils. You quickly dismantle the vox-unit, check the inside for surveillance equipment, then reassemble it.
Your knuckles click pleasantly as your hand reforms. You dial a number.
An image of Alek is projected in front of you. His perfectly symmetrical and blemish-less face regards your own. “Jaella.” He says, “report.”
“Facsimile. My new name is Facsimile. Use it.”
“As you wish, Facsimile, report.”
“Nothing to report. The only issue would have been that psyker, but the old man took care of that for us.”
“Yes, my apologies, I didn’t realise that Vaughn would be present.”
“Do better research next time.”
Alek bristles, but continues, “and how is your, gift, holding?”
You run your hands across your body. “Wearing the girl’s skin feels much better than simply studying it all day. And these memories… I could get used to this.”
“Yes, the old man won’t suspect a thing.”
“Good, well, begin making your regular reports, and I’ll be in touch when our operation moves onto its next stage.” He moves to end the transmission. “And Facsimile, do enjoy yourself.”
The projection dies, revealing the collection of amasec bottles, stims, and meats waiting for you on the table opposite.
You press yourself back into the settee and lick your lips.