: Updated attribution and general formatting to current blog standards.
Well, I really wanted to throw down an excerpt starring Emarella, but I realized her entire introduction in the book needs to be redone. Sooo, instead, you get to see her in a very different setting!
The following excerpt comes from a project I never finished, a work of (yes) fanfiction set in the sci-fi universe of Warhammer 40,000. No, there’s no objectionable content that a lot of fanfiction is infamous for having. But it did come from an idea I had that went something like, “What if there was a pair of star-crossed lovers in the grimdark universe of 40K?”
So I took Zaelor and Emarella, two of my favorite characters from my books, and I threw them into the setting. Zaelor here is a stoic and intensely proud Space Marine–think Goliath in plate armor–who was injured during a mission gone bad on this foreign planet, the sole survivor among his group of Battle-brothers. Emarella, by contrast, is a military officer and native to the planet. Her people are tribal and primitive in Zaelor’s prejudiced (well, racist really–anti-alien) eyes; to Emarella, Zaelor is a symbol of the brutish Sky Warriors who ruthlessly slaughter her people and have caused them to go into hiding.
Prior to this scene, Zaelor had finally awoken after Emarella’s people had rescued him from certain death on the battlefield. And he proceeded to attempt to kill one of her soldiers. They didn’t like that much.
Regular Beauty and the Beast, eh? Or maybe more like John Smith and Pocahontas… Now I want to watch a Disney movie. Uh, but read this first!
He stared up at the ceiling and thought. Usually he did so with his eyes closed. He could only stare at the hideous women warriors for so long. They reminded him too much of Eldar. It made him ill.
They were human, he had decided. They looked like xenos. They attempted to act like xenos. But the way they moved… The way they spoke, their gestures as they babbled to one another. Human.
He was alive. That was what lingered most in his mind. Somehow, he had survived.
I should not have.
He could not shut out the images. Faces of his Battle-brothers. The look on the face of his Watch Captain and Chaplain, as they had tried so hard to reform their battle-lines. The dead eyes that met his as he and Cedrus stumbled away.
Coward… an iced voice hissed in his mind, and he agreed. He had allowed Cedrus to take him away. He should have stood his ground. Fought back. Died alongside his brethren. His time had come, and now it was gone. But he remained alive.
And utterly dishonored.
“Well. Behold, the noble Sky Warrior.”
Zaelor looked up from his reclined position. He could not rise due to the guards. Four guards they had posted permanently at his bedside now, two to each flank. They were tense, stock-still and ready to strike if he attempted to attack them again.
The woman who had addressed him as “Sky Warrior,” their captain, swept into the room. She was accompanied by her translator from yesterday. It was pathetic, hearing the captain’s powerful, commanding voice siphoned through her translator’s small one. “Are you pleased with your childish outburst yesterday?”
Zaelor didn’t satisfy either woman with a response. He stared at the captain blankly.
I will not play your games.
He watched as the captain skirted his cot. She slid into a chair beside him and leaned over its arm rest, staring. That impish smile of hers remained. He watched her lips move, heard her smooth tones. Then the delay before her translator’s voice came. “Ah, so this is how the revered Sky Warriors thank those who rescue them. Killing and maiming them. Clearly, this is the greatest act of honor—!”
“You healed me,” Zaelor murmured at last. It must have been them; not even his powers of regeneration could have helped the grievous wounds he had taken. It was them. They were the reason he was still alive, how he had cheated death and judgment.
But to hear the translator say it—“rescue”—as though what they had done was some supreme good…
The captain’s eyes narrowed. More words he did not understand. Again, her translator’s tiny voice: “We did, yes.”
“You should not have.” Zaelor stared directly into the captain’s brown eyes. He let his emotions flow. Let her see the hatred. Let her see the anger, the unquenchable rage, the seething pain. She had stolen him from the embrace of death, the seat of honor he had fought so hard to obtain.
He felt knife points pricking into his back. He maintained his stare, but spoke without passion now. “Kill me. You will gain no information. Leaving me alive will waste your time and mine.”
He was finished with the conversation. He closed his eyes.
But the captain was apparently not finished with him. He heard her voice right beside his ear. Then, “You think this is a game? Very well, I will play too,” came the translation.
He did not bother opening his eyes. What would he see beyond that garish war paint that marred her face? He certainly did not yearn to see her impish little smirk. He could nearly feel her eyes searing into him. She was searching, hunting. He cared not; he had a stinging gaze to match, if he chose to use it. She would learn nothing from studying him. No one could. He had a reputation even among his Chapter as being a particularly stoic, unreadable soldier.
The captain’s voice was still right at his ear. The translator expressed her determination, “You will give us the information we want. You will do what we say, when we say so. You will do this because you have no choice.”
He isolated the captain’s tone from the little voice of her translator. The captain’s voice was deep for a woman’s voice, but smooth and hard like stone. Her tones grew steadily heavier as she spoke until it almost had an edge to it, like a blade… Was that anger?
“You Sky Warriors are so bold. You come here on your ships as if the planet is yours. You massacre my people as though they are beasts. But…”
Zaelor kept his eyes closed, not willing to give her the satisfaction of believing she was in control. But he did not need his eyes to hear the shift in her voice.
“Now? Now you, friend, are the prey. You will dance for us, if we command. Because if you do not—”
The captain must have leaned even closer, right in his face. Her dreadlocks brushed against his face. He could feel and smell the puff of her breath. But when he heard her speak next, it was no longer in her strange tongue. No, this time she hissed venomously in broken High Gothic: “You alone. Die here. No songs. No tale. No honor. Forgotten.” She snapped her fingers. He swore he could still feel her gaze upon him, even with his eyes closed. “Greatest dishonor,” she finished.
She said something to her companions, once again in their foreign tongue. The translator delivered her concluding statement, “Touch my warriors again, and I will run you through.”
He heard footsteps, then the clicking of a door. And then Zaelor resumed his prison of tension and silence.
Got some questions about this scene, the characters, the setting, or something else? Want to see more of this or some of my other projects? Lemme know down below.
Warhammer 40K®, Space Marines, Deathwatch, Battle-brothers and all related terms are the property of Games Workshop Limited. And I am not affiliated with them.
For Him, to Him