No Rest for the Wicked

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16/7/2019 10:35 pm  #11


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[Fate and fortune]

Thought for the day: I wanted to say something about the duality of man. The Jungian thing.

I spent some time in conversation with [Redacted] today. We talked of many things, we talked of family of fate and fortune. It was curious to spend time in such candid conversation with one of [Redacted] I could see that [Redacted] was trying, perhaps even sincerely. But I looked into those eyes and I could see a millennia of murder and torment looking back at me. Though I may perhaps be being unfair there, when I think back on it, perhaps I also saw myself reflected there.

Curious how stepping outside the bounds of our society brings about these moments, it does make me wonder just how many insights are lost because we so often shoot first and ask questions later. How much more might we have learned or achieved if we had a modicum more of self-control as a species I wonder. Not to say I love the xenos of course, they have never been a particular interest of mine, hence my taking of the [Redacted] vow.

They can of course be of use, hence my current situation. I am asked on occasion, by those who know of my place of birth. How is it that I can stand to have Orks aboard my ship? A reasonable question certainly, but in truth I do not hate them. They are a grubby, violent race for sure, but there is no true malice in them I think, they simply are what they are and they do what they do. Their capacity for violence can of course be harnessed and directed to great effect and therein lies their use. There is a certain purity to them I’ve come to learn, in a strange way, but that would not stop me from stamping out their entire species in a heartbeat if given the chance.

Our discussion of the notions of fate and destiny was of particular interest, it is my belief that we are ultimately as beholden to fate and destiny as we choose to be. That is not to say that these things cannot be influenced and directed. Certainly it is an absolutely fact that there are forces that can and do influence the course of someone’s life. In this for example, I consider what I know of the histories of some of the Champions of Darkness. I look back upon their lives, to the circumstances and events that set them upon their path to damnation.

Ultimately each of them made a choice in the end, they may well have been manoeuvred to the point where they could make the choice but in the end, the freedom to say yes or no was entirely theirs. Interestingly, there are not many of them that are inherently born to darkness of what we would consider as evil from the first day. Sometimes I look back across my own life and I fancy I see a hand at work there too. Other times I dismiss this as nothing more than self-aggrandising nonsense, the kind of dark fantasy the mind creates when say the lander creaks in an odd way and you imagine yourself falling from the stars in a ball of flames.

Then there are times where I feel like two souls inhabiting the same body. One soul dark, twisted, fed upon the carnage of my life and all that I have done. The noble purpose of the Holy Ordos carried out to an extreme, glorying in that strength and despising others for their weakness and blindness while at the same time seeking to tear those flaws from itself. A hateful being, pure, determined and strong. In this I could well see the seeds of [Redacted].

The other soul is weaker at times, sickened by the unending cycle of violence dressed up as adventure, wishing for it to stop. It is the part of me that feels pain, the part of me that wishes to save others from such and create a better world where I can. That which I do nourishes this soul but even then I sometimes find it difficult to turn from the horror that unfolds before me.

[Redacted] asked me what I would do when I was done.

I answered that I did not think I would ever be done.
 

 

09/9/2019 9:12 pm  #12


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[The virtues of revolution]

Having come from the Imperium of Man, through the Maw to this uncharted space in which we now find ourselves we have been given the opportunity to observe many wondrous things. Some of these events being both great and terrible, their spectacle inherent in their sheer scale or complexity upon the galactic stage. Recently however we have been privileged to witness and indeed take part in something quite rare and all the more human.

Coming from the Imperium of Man, there is a word we often shy away from, a word that stirs images of squads of Arbites marching through the precincts of Hives and of the deployment of planetary defence forces to quash sundry threats and subversive types alike.

That word is revolution.

In the physical sense we define revolution as an instance of revolving, which as dull as it sounds, will become relevant later. In an ideological sense we define revolution as the forcible overthrow of a government and/or social order in favour of another. A notion which can of course be broken down even further, indeed even scientifically defined. Classical study has it that the Primer of the Pan-Soviet Union stated that revolution was merely the transfer of power from one political class to another before his sacking of the Romanakov Genocracy’s palace a scant decade before the onset of the Unification Wars.

As a party to the recent events upon Olfiem we have had a chance to experience and witness a faucet of our humanity we have perhaps long forgotten. Revolution is a feared word in the Imperium, it conjures images of bloody uprisings, atrocities wrought upon the average citizen by the very authorities meant to protect them and sometimes, worst of all, the insidious hand of the Archenemy or the Xenos at work, seeking to undermine and cast down all that we have built for ourselves across the stars.

But we forget ourselves.

We forget that revolution is in our blood, the coming of the Emperor, the march of the Eagle and the Lightning during the Wars of Unification tore down the old order. Despots, sorcerers, tyrants, those who had held the people of Terra so firmly under their boot that they could not so much as look up at the stars that were their very birth right. Perpetrators of atrocities so dire that even now, some ten thousand years later there are parts of Holy Terra that still bear the scars. Men, women and other things that spat in the face of Mars and kept they of Mars and we of Terra from realising our destiny and going forth into the galaxy we had once ruled and would do so again. All of these things were torn down so that we might see ourselves truly once more, so that we might come together and realise our destiny.

The Great Crusade itself was revolution upon a galactic scale, the Emperor and our ancestors reached forth across the stars, seeking those of our brethren that had been taken from us, lost in the long darkness of Old Night.  From Terra a golden beacon, shining forth, casting down that which was ill and corrupt so that all of humanity, no matter where they dwelled, no matter how terrible things were there, could look up at the stars and know not terror, but hope.

This is where we came from, this is what brought us here, this is what we must remember while we venture beyond the bounds of the Imperium of Man as our ancestors once did. Our works now are but a shadow of the Great Crusade that once sallied forth from Holy Terra, a mere spark if you will, but even a spark may ignite an inferno. In these strange stars we carry a spark of our civilisation, it is our duty then, to use that spark to light the beacons that will cast of the darkness that dwells here beyond the Maw.

Our governors fear revolution, they fear the machinations of rivals or enemies. But they do not remember what it was that sat them upon such high thrones in the first place. They do not remember that the values of humanity, the worth of man and all we can achieve lay not in the gift and destiny of the individual but in the hands of the collective. Those who would seek to bring us down realise this, they see our strength and quality and they fear that were we to set ourselves upon one path, one task as we once did in the halcyon days of the Great Crusade, then all their machinations would be as nothing before our might.

We must be mindful however, revolution is in and of itself, by its very nature, a circular motion. Something which comes back upon itself. I have seen in my time, uprisings of people who stood and did violence upon a corrupt and oppressive government only to find themselves subject to the very same at the hands of those they had uplifted into office through the shedding of blood and tears. Revolution without end, revolution without purpose, these things are dangerous, these things give rise not to a great beacon, but a terrible fire that rages and rages until all is consumed and all is ashes.

And for what?

It is not our destiny to rule a kingdom of ash, it is not our destiny to root about in the ruins, watching the stars burn out above our heads and lamenting the sins of our fathers. We are more than that, we are more than the sins of our fathers and we are stronger than the shackles those who would seek to keep humanity down work to bind us with.

What then, is the purpose of revolution?

The tyrant of the Ninth Reich wrote in her death bed memoirs that she believed that all the noble cultures of the past had declined because of the introduction of inferior blood. I argue that the noble cultures of the past had declined because of something far more insidious and far more dangerous that some petty racial notion long ago set aside with the realisation that we are humanity and we are not alone in this galaxy. I argue that the so-called noble cultures of the past declined as a result of stagnation.

Each of them came to a point, a pinnacle of Empire and went to further, the conditions within these hegemons being that the learned who saw this stagnation were ignored or derided by the people and the people fared little better at the hands of their rulers and governments. Our history prior to the Unification of Holy Terra is replete with cycles of revolution where violence begat nothing more than further violence. The Unification changed that in that it represented a new phase of socio-political evolution of mankind.

This was so for two main reasons, firstly the Unification combated one of the great enemies of all empires, stagnation. Secondly it replaced the gratification and indeed glorification of the individual with the exaltation of the collective. We are Mankind and the Emperor’s dream united us with purpose and so we went forth.

Revolution then, must not be thought of in cycles, but rather stages. We create ourselves as the New Man and rise above what has come before to move forwards and beyond. There was a dream that was the Imperium of Man, once. An Imperium where each life was counted and given the chance to be more than the station it was born to. An Imperium where anyone could reach out and grasp the stars because when they did, they took each and every one of us with them.

The Great Crusade was not just the vastest mobilisation of military force seen in the history of our species, it was an idea. Something that each of us could carry within ourselves. It is something many of us have forgotten and something we all need to look within ourselves and rediscover. We have a chance here, beyond the Maw, to not only reconnect with lost branches of humanity but to show them a better way, to show them a way of kinship, of progress and pride.

There are species that look down upon us, deride us as infant creatures. But their day has long since passed and their words are born of both envy and fear. Envy because they know that it is our time, fear because they cannot match our quality. Fear because they know we cannot and will not be dictated to by decaying order.

Across the galaxy the tally of Imperial victories grows great, we triumph in our crusades, in our battles. But this is merely the beginning each victory a mere step towards something greater still. It is within us to do that which is necessary, that which is hard. It is we who have the strength and the vision to extend our hand to our lost brethren here beyond the Maw and show them a better way.

We know that sacrifices lie ahead and that we must pay a price for the heroic fact that we are, as an expedition, a vanguard. We, as leaders, know that we must pay a price for the right to say that we are at the head of an idea, a dream. Each and every one of us readily pays his or her quota of sacrifice, conscious of being rewarded with the satisfaction of fulfilling a duty, conscious of advancing with everyone toward the New Man and Woman glimpsed on the horizon.

There is within each of us the potential to be that New Man, that New Woman.

Seize it.

That is the dream that is the Imperium of Man.

Seize it.
 

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10/11/2019 11:42 pm  #13


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[The reflex to cruelty]

Thought for the day: Hail, horrors, hail.

It has been a while since I have come across something as base and degenerate as the Cromm. Even the Drukhari have a purpose for what they do, a reason for why they are as they are and while that reason is abhorrent, at least it exists. That which they do, ultimately it is nothing new. I have seen cruelty, I have seen horror and yet, what strikes me most about this is that with them, it is so, simply because it is so and nothing more.

I understand it in a way, the horrifying precision of their philosophy, this grim ideology that drives them in an endless cycle of abuse, experimentation and other less savoury pursuits. Their technology is astounding, they have the ability to craft weapons that would draw the souls out of psychically awakening individuals on a sector wide scale. It is a testament to their focus, to all that they have shorn from their being to be this way in order to create such things.

That I understand them, says something about me I think.

Or at least it certainly shows me something about myself. Some I could be perhaps, should I lapse into base behaviour. A great man tried to teach me an important lesson once, I do not think I understood it at the time and I certainly did not have the ears to hear it, for sure. But I have tried since that day and seeing what I saw has only served to further reaffirm this to me. There is a power in that, a sense of vindication that will serve me long after I have departed this place, long after I have put this benighted race to the sword.

For a time, after I did what did in the Ruhort, I considered for a time, what right did I have to rain fire from the heavens upon the worlds of men, despite the necessity of us. I have carried the shame of that genocide with me and will do so until the day of my end. Despite this, I know how many more were saved by my actions, it does not make it right, but it does justify my actions, at least to myself anyway.

I had not, since that time, felt this urge, but when I meet the Cromm, I know that it is not only necessary that they be expunged from this galaxy and indeed anywhere they are found, but it is also right that we do this thing. These creatures are an affront to the purpose to which we as a race have set ourselves. We must not lose sight of that and nor must we tolerate their works when we come across them.

We were assailed by another foe, a primordial creature of ruin, which we defeated without loss, but it was a close run thing. The entity had such vast power that it could have and would have ploughed this world under without a second thought had we not come to stop it and perhaps…

It hurt me.

We considered, my companion and I, the sheer senseless brutality, the utter insanity of all that we had seen so far. We looked upon the works of those who call themselves our ultimate enemies and we wept, not out of disgust or fear, we had no true horror of them. But rather, we wept for all others. For if we had but a fraction of their power, truly we would make a better place for all.

It hurt me.

But not as badly as I hurt myself.

I was forced to show the Cromm something of myself, which in turn allowed others to see the truth of me too. It shames me, that those who I sought to protect, had to see the things they saw from me at that time.  It shames me that they saw, it galls me that I have no recourse but to apologise to people I would not normally care to do so.

But that is not what gives me pause.

I have much time to consider this, to share that aspect of myself, the things I had done, things that I had put away so long ago, I have had to open that particular aspect of my psyche and so now my nights are plagued by terrors I had defeated over a century ago. I question why I have no regard, no sense of purpose or community as we once had. I seek that now, something with which to anchor myself and banish these horrors once more, but I cannot find it.

I do not feel it.

I feel adrift, with only my own purpose to hang onto.
 

Last edited by Tollman (10/2/2020 1:12 am)

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11/2/2020 12:14 am  #14


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[A prayer]

Thought for the day: Lux lucis inde in saecula saeculorum

I came across a curious thing today, it was little more than a strip of paper but to someone it was so very important, to me it was so very important. It hung upon the corner post of some peddler’s cart, swaying softly in the faux breeze generated by the air recycler, one among a crowd of its fellows. They were prayer strips, the sort of thing you can pick up in pretty much any corner of any Imperial fleet or world, let alone the more exotic locale of Arkangel itself. You could take them from the hands of wealthy merchants and grubby mendicant types alike and never find two that were quite the same.

These were no different, each of them a different length, a different quality of paper and a different hand. Some were fine vellum, others ragged parchment. There were flowing hands, angular hands, Gothic, both low and high and some even in more exotic tongues still. A mix of expressions of faith, a hundred little prayers.

I am not by my nature a praying man, I confess the habit of doing so was beaten out of me as a child when the shells rained down upon us and no salvation came no matter how hard any of us prayed for deliverance. Even before I came to know of certain other matters, I had not earnestly uttered a prayer and meant it in something like twenty years or so. Know is of course, a key word there, it is difficult to have faith when you know something for sure, it is an entirely different kind of belief…

Why this one particular prayer strip caught my eye, I cannot say. I had not looked closely and the state of my eyesight is such that I must look closely to see. So I would say that I felt the thing more than I saw it. There was a weight to it, something composed of an alloy of both hope and pain. I do not know who put pen to paper to write these words, I could find out with a little effort, but I shall not. There is something about these words, the weight of them that demands privacy. That I have read these words and share them here in this journal, is quite enough I think.

“Honoured ancestors, I pray that you align me with a path of ease. I wish to learn through softness and grace. I wish to learn through joy and laughter. I release my desire to learn through pain and devastation. I choose ease.”

Powerful words.

I have no belief in ancestor worship, I can tell you the names of my parents and their parents. I have or more likely had some cousins in the Steel Legion and I am given to understand that I have some distant relations elsewhere in the Imperium. But there is little of note to my blood, the existence of my immediate family as defined by the choice between the factory floor and the mustering yards of the Steel Legion as it is the frequent violence done upon the world of Armageddon. I could investigate this matter, learn the names of those distant relatives, send them wealth, treasures, things beyond their imaginations. I could give them all of the opportunities I never had, would never have had but for the various twists of fate that brought me to where I am now.

But I do not think I shall, they do not know me and I rather think it is best that they do not.

I have children of course, a number I know of for sure, but I also know that there are yet more that I do not know of. The products of an Inquisitor’s life, the children of all the men I pretended to be as I moved from place to place. One of them may come to find me one day, perhaps to lay some claim over what I have, by right of blood. Perhaps to take some form of vengeance upon me as they feel is right or perhaps even both of these things. Ultimately that is their business and if they are worthy to do so, if they have the strength and will to do so, then it would be remiss of me to judge them for it, given my own circumstances.

I had…perhaps a little over a century where there was some ease to my life, a little over a century where I could simply…Be. Take the time to appreciate the things I had gained and the wealth I had come by. I was busy of course and it behoved me to keep moving constantly, but I didn’t mind that. It was a chance to see places I had never seen before, to come across them and simply appreciate seeing them, experiencing them rather than having to come upon a place with some complex agenda or dire objective.

It would please me to get back to those times, but I fear for the time being they are quite gone. Nothing is impossible of course, I imagine that should we be able to defeat [REDACTED] I may well be able to return to that place in my life.

Perhaps I too, should pray for ease.

Unlikely, but the notion is at the least touching.
 
 

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12/4/2020 2:47 pm  #15


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[A memory – Delandria - Over a century earlier]

Thought for the day: There’s something in the way I want to cry.

There is little to do currently, the quarantine is such that it is best to keep to one’s own quarters and while I might find manifold diversions there, I find that I have been looking inward more often than not. Disease is a great leveller I find, more often than not it kills you just the same, rich or poor. Lately I have been considering my growing disillusion with our great Imperium. This has not been a slow process by any means and I can see specific points, specific incidents where this grew within me all the more, but I cannot quite put a finger on exactly where it started.

I remember a time when I yet still believed in the inherent decency of the Imperium and those I worked with within it. A naïve sentiment but a reasonable one, consider the manner in which we are raised. That which is human is good and pure, tradition is our bastion, and things are the way they are for the right reasons. The xeno is twisted and impure, any deviation from authority, tradition, the established order is heresy to be stamped out.  

Delandria…

--

The soldiers were leaving, piling into their transports even as Interrogator Tollman stepped off his own, handing off the sealed container he held at his side to one of the grateful medicae staff. There was death in that case, the death of this world if he had not found it, now at least there was a chance that something would be done and this hive and the world it stood upon might live.

Delandria…

A verdant agricultural world, spinward of Terra, some hundred days travel from the nearest front, which at this time happened to be the Pilgrim World’s Crusade. Which of course made this place the perfect target for insurgent action. It was a far reaching strategy, clever really. An explosion here, an uprising there and you would have people fighting a hundred fires on a thousand different worlds, your foe dying from a thousand wounds before they ever took to the field against you. This was ancient thinking, the art of war employed by minds polluted by the taint of the Archenemy with horrific effect.

In this case, a sickness had been unleashed.

It was in the water and then of course in the way of these things, it had become airborne, a small mercy for Tollman and his fellows that they were clothed in containment suits, breathing safe air and the like. But for those that live here, part of what made Delandria so verdant was a highly advanced hydroponic growth system, which of course meant that the tainted water and oxygen was everywhere within the megastructure of the hive.

Of course, by the time this had been worked out, infection had near consumed this hive and would likely spread to others soon enough, hundreds of thousands were dead from some sort of haemorrhagic fever that ate someone alive from the inside before the passing of a week. The case he had retrieved form one of the water treatment plants contained the bio weapon that had caused this and it so happened that the weapon was Imperial. Something the Imperium of Man had designed to protect itself and its people in wars too vast and horrific to imagine, turned against the very populace it was meant to protect.

He knew why the soldiers were leaving of course, there would only be one reason why, but he did not mention this to the medicae, they did not need to know and it would only hamper their work to do so, instead he headed for the command bunker of the complex where he found Interrogator Geraint, the other of his mistresses’ acolytes sent to address this issue while she attended to more pressing matters on the Pilgrim Worlds front.

“Why are the soldiers leaving?”

The question was redundant, Tollman knew exactly why, he just wanted to hear his counterpart say it. Even now they would be evacuating to minimum safe distances, reinforcing quarantine perimeters, ensuring that none would escape what was coming. They had no armada in orbit, so it would be something more clandestine, a mid yield atomic, Tollman imagined.

“You know why Ambrose, standard procedure, quarantine, burn and cleanse. This hive is lost, we can still save the others.”

The logic of it was sound, Tollman knew that, but the thought that they would just abandon the citizens of this hive to burn turned his stomach. He had of course, by this point in his career, been responsible for the bombing of a number of civilian populations, but this was different, here he could do something or at least try to do something anyway.

“The weapon is Imperial by design, Cedric, that means it is on file somewhere, I can access those files, give the medicae team a chance to synthesise the cure.”

He could not see the face of his fellow Interrogator, concealed as it was behind the faceplate of his containment suit, but he could well imagine the sneer that was there and could see the flash of fear in his eyes.

“It’s too late, I’ve authorised the assets, they’re in the air, in nine hours this hive burns and we were never here. We have to protect the secret of the weapon and stop the spread of the infection.”

Perhaps this was the moment where Tollman’s faith in the inherent decency of the Imperium had died. He had not been in service as long as Geraint had, but already he knew that there was always another secret weapon, always another forbidden technology to be concealed after use. Chances are someone somewhere was already developing the next one and this was a cycle that would continue long after he was gone. Tollman was already heading for the door, knowing now that he had nine hours to try and avert this tragedy.

“I was here Geraint, I was fucking here.”

Tollman hissed the words through his respirator, aware of how unpleasantly hot the suit had become, aware of just how heavy the master crafted bolt pistol, a reward for success in earlier assignments, belted at his hip had become. Aware of quite how heavy the chain which bore his rosette weighed about his neck. There would always be another weapon, another secret, another link in that chain.

He paused then, turning back as he stood in the doorway, regarding the other Interrogator through his faceplate, holding his gaze.

“When the people of this world learn what happened here, they’ll call for heads to roll. [REDACTED] will give them mine, and I will give them yours…”
--

Ultimately, there was no cure, there never was.

The hive and the rest of that world had burned.

And like Interrogator Geraint had said, they were never there.

--

Perhaps it had happened on Delandria after all.
 

Last edited by Tollman (12/4/2020 2:48 pm)

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24/5/2020 11:13 am  #16


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[Heroism]

Thought for the day: Guilliman? The Victorious, The Blade of Unity, The Master of Ultramar. We called him the butcher…

The medal is heavy in my hand, a Macharian Cross.

Tollman, Inquisitor Tollman, Lord-Captain Tollman, he doesn’t have many medals. The nature of his work is oft unpleasant, that which is best done out of sight and out of mind. It is necessary, so very necessary, but no one wants to know the details, no one wants to know how it was done or even why half the time, they merely want to know that it is done. They want to know it is done so they can nod and smile and forget about it.

Until the next time of course.

I have been other men throughout my life, men with chests full of medals, stars, crosses and bars. I have seen in that time the value or lack thereof that can come with these things. I have seen generals, chests gleaming with medals and marks, quail at the sound of close guns and send soldiers to meaningless deaths through decision paralysis and fear. I have seen ordinary men and women, civilians, fight harder than Stormtroopers because some battered Commissar pinned a bottle cap scavenged from the wreck of a hab to their chest and told them it was a medal.

They say that the Imperium is built upon the blood of martyrs, are all of those martyrs heroes? Would they have chosen to be? The dead know a great secret, their truth is that it is better to be alive. When I burned worlds to halt the [REDACTED], none of those people chose, none of those people had wanted to give up their lives for the Imperium.

So were they heroes?

I have never really felt like one, I have done things that would be regarded as heroic certainly. But I am not, ultimately I am merely another flawed man attempting to make his way in the universe. I think it would be a terrible burden to be a hero, to truly be someone to look up to, to inspire and lead like that. Certainly I aspire to do these things, lead and inspire, show people a better way, show people what we could be. But my work in this is more subtle than great speeches and leading charges. Anyone can do these things, anyone at any time, but to see a grander, wider picture is a much longer road…

Then of course, there is the simple truth that someone should never meet their heroes. I’ve seen it happen quite recently in fact, watched hope turn to comprehension of the awful truth. I have listened to tales of past glory being told, knowing full well that it simply did not happen like that and the truth, the truth was covered up as a matter of political expediency. After all who wants to hear that the great [REDACTED] [REDACTED] on [REDACTED] rather than the stirring tale of Guard heroics that sits in its place.

A grand lie, one of many.

No one wants to hear it.

Perhaps this is part of why I do not feel the sense of belonging and community that I felt before, we unite in the face of our enemies certainly, but we do not unite with each other. That is not to say that fear and mistrust rule here, far from it. But we lack community, it is the nature of our business now.

This collection of pirates that we are.

Yet the medal is heavy in my hand, a reminder, reassuring in its weight, the Cross of old Macharius. A reminder of things achieved, of the things that could be achieved. We lack community yes, I lack that sense of what was. But I am not without a sense of what could be, what we could create, what we could achieve out here.

When I look to the stars I wish to feel hope again.

I wish to walk with heroes.

Like I did before.
 

Last edited by Tollman (15/5/2021 8:37 pm)

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16/6/2020 11:16 am  #17


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[Family]

Thought for the day: While my mother waters plants, my father loads his gun.

I think a lot about my parents of late, I wonder what they would have made of all this, of me. They would be proud I think, of the title and the wealth it brings certainly, but not perhaps the journey I took to get here. But then I consider that really I am no different from anyone else sat around that table. Everyone sat here got here by breaking rules, by seeing horror, by doing things they were not supposed to do or by earning it in some measure of mud and blood.

My father always told me that a man must fight the good fight, he was very straight down the line, old man Tollman. Loved the factory, loved the hive, loved the Imperium and its God-Emperor. Died for the very same…

My mother should have been born elsewhere I think, another place and another time. An agri world perhaps, a few thousand years ago when we were still exploring rather than endlessly warring. Somewhere a person could breathe and see the sky. Though I did not realise this until I myself had reached adulthood and even then it took me some time to appreciate it.

It makes me wonder what they both could have been in another place and time. It makes me consider our place in this galaxy. My home world for example, an important place to this Imperium of Man. One that is regarded with envious eyes. Those that seek to take it come often and the scale of their desire is titanic, the cost in men and machines equally so. So much blood has been spilled upon the surface of my world that I cannot help but feel that ultimately that which is produced there is tainted and that taint of course spreads across the Imperium with each and every bolt and bomb that is delivered.

Yet we defend this place as ardently as if it were Terra itself. Sometimes then, I think perhaps it would be best if we did not, if we did not fight. If we simply burned the place from the heavens and ended its cursed legacy there and then, once and for all time. But that will not happen, there is too much value attached to the place, too much pride and blood soaked into the ground. The irony of our position here is that it is our very belligerence as a race that allows us to continue fighting, that allows us to refuse the dominance of cruel overlords and obscene Gods. Yet it is also that belligerence that undoes us, we could achieve so much more if we stepped forward with an open hand rather than a weapon in that hand.

I am fortunate, because I do not know exactly how my parents died. I know only that one day they went out with the militia to do their duty, to defend our home as so many others did and that one time they simply did not come back. My parents are fortunate that they did not live to see all of the things that I have done and all of the things that I might do.

This doesn’t really go anywhere, my parents are dead and there is nothing I can to bring them back. My heirs, such as they are, scattered across the Imperium, perhaps to come and claim what is in their blood and all I have should they be worthy.

Thoughts for another time, another place.

I think strange thoughts about ghosts lately, is it my sins that hold me to this place or theirs?




 

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26/9/2020 5:56 pm  #18


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[Faith]

Thought for the day: Oh Lord, this Galaxy was made for us…

Today I heard of a woman who claims she can heal the pox with but a touch. One might imagine that such miracles are the province of the Saints alone, but that is not so, more often than not such things are accomplished through concealed technology or the channelling of specific frequencies of warp energy, assuming they are accomplished at all. There are after all, those whose craft it is merely to convince someone that such a thing can or has been done. It works best with invisible ailments and usually results in a number of people being parted from their Throne-gelt, very quickly indeed.

On a personal level, I have seen the real thing. I have walked with a living Saint and I have stood before the Emperor and saw [REDACTED] and in my time I have seen fakes of various stripes. Witches, shamans, con-men, preachers, faith healers, those who had power and those who just had words and cheap tricks. Those who had a semblance of real power and those that cheated with tech and other things beside.

Both of these sorts are powerful in their own way, some more so than others obviously and some more overtly or more subtly than others. Because all someone has to do is listen, all someone has to do is open themselves to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, it is real, that they are what they say they are.

Faith is a powerful thing, faith can sway ordinarily reasonable and meek people to acts of extreme bravery or extreme violence with just a few words, just a few ideas. It is what makes the followers of the dark powers so very dangerous. Each and every one of them has their faith in their vile patrons, each and every one of them as ardent a fanatic as the most devoted ecclesiarch.  Their faith demands action and sacrifice, this in turn produces results. The same can be said for the Imperial Faith, though by its nature one finds it is more collectivist in both its worship and the manifestation of its results while their dark powers are all the more individual.

The Imperial Cult preaches all things for the Imperium, each and every life expended for the Emperor and the Imperium. The blood of martyrs is the fuel of our expansion and it is right that we hate the witch, the mutant and the xenos, the diabolic trinity. Thus, the population of a planet can be mobilised in the name of crusade, to die across the stars on worlds they do not know the name of for leaders they will never see in person, much less meet. Everything to be given in furtherance of the whole.

No I, only the hive, the Imperium, the Emperor, Mankind.

To the dark powers, individual effort is everything. The warband may achieve many things together but it is only their champion that achieves the blasphemous glory of ascension and immortality. The Chaotic will is entirely individual in its expression, it is a thing spoken in the recesses of the heart, an entire kingdom hidden behind the eyes and teeth of each and every follower. Uncountable hearts beating in the dark, each of their own rhythm.

No we, only me. I, I am the truth. I am the light and the glory.

I look to my fellows and I see them as they go about their business. Some of them do the work of the church, others less so. That is the thing with our society, we exist now in a state of continuous holy terror. Our enemies are everywhere, both within and without. A single stray thought expressed to the wrong set of ears can be the death of someone and the damnation of their soul in the eyes of the state religion.

There is a truth I know, one known only to a very small amount of people in this day and age. What we have now is not what was intended. That holy terror, is not what should be. It is what we should have risen beyond and yet here we are. Driven ever onwards by a faith that should not be. There is a paradox to this oddly enough in that this thing which poisons us, which may ultimately destroy us, may also be the thing that sees mankind achieve its mastery over the galaxy. Our destiny made manifest, if you listen to the words the preachers speak.

Most of those I know, they are not ready to hear the truth I know and of those that may perhaps be ready, I doubt they would believe it. Ironically, it is almost a faith in and of itself, it requires a lot of belief and will to hear that the entire foundation of your culture, of your life, is simply not correct at all. I do not begrudge them their faith, not for a second of course. There are times where I wish I did not know what I do and I would not inflict that on another so willingly.

One of the most terrible things you can do to someone is to take their faith.

 

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24/1/2021 9:33 pm  #19


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[A journey]

The air is thin here, chill. The altitude, while not extreme, gives it a certain bite. Especially to lungs that grew up breathing smoke and went on not subsist primarily upon the recycled air of void ships and orbital facilities. Every breath has to be taken that much deeper, causes that much more pain. It is refreshing in a way, there is something to be said for the painful purity of cleanliness. The sensation made all the more stark by everything else I feel in this place.

You would never know it was here, unless you were specifically looking for it. A ledge upon the side of a mountain in a range of mountains, the way lost among thick trees, dark forest. A valley stretches out far below this place. There are primitives down there, a society having discovered the black powder and the mysteries of combustion but innocent of the horrors of advanced technology. The atom has not been split here, the sun has not been brought down from the sky and no one has learned that they are very much not alone in this galaxy and this galaxy is very much not a pleasant place.

I cannot see them, even if my eyes still worked the way they should, they are much too far in the distance. But I have smelled their industry on the wind, the place of my birth means there is smoke and oil in my blood as surely as there is iron and oxygen. Like knows like. There is a comfort to that, something that cuts the awful cleanliness of the air here. I cannot see them, but I can feel them, the dull collective mass of them far below. It makes me wonder, how they go about their lives, not knowing.

Some of them know of course, whether they realise it or not. They are humans down there, a remnant of our great expansion across the stars. Not Imperial obviously, but humans none the less and where there are humans there are those who are sensitive to places such as this. Dreams, whispers on the wind and visons. I can feel them down there too, the odd point of light. Like smoke and oil, like knows like.

It is natural, each and every year that passes, the rate of birth for those with latent psychic talent increases, each and every year, more of those individuals awaken and on and on and on. Our destiny as a race, manifest in our blood and brains. The next stage in our evolution as a species, happening before our eyes. This is inevitable, it cannot be stopped. Likely, it is the case that we would already be there had we not spent the past ten or more millennia mutilating ourselves in a fit of self-loathing.

The irony of this position of course is that I have been involved in this work. I have turned such hateful eyes upon my fellow man and indeed upon myself. I have done this because I was told it was necessary, I have done this because I believed it to be necessary. People want to live in their nice safe hives and drink expensive amensac without being bothered by the mutant, the heretic or the xenos. So they need people like me. They need people like me yet they hate and fear people like me.

Considering this, I feel the acrid tang of hatred rising within me. I feel rage, fire in my blood. I know that the only reason they get to continue living as they do, judging everyone else from the positions they hold, is because of people like me balancing scales in their favour. I take my hand off and their world gets extremely feral, extremely quickly and suddenly they learn of the wars we fight for them with their own eyes because it happens in their streets, their houses.

I can taste that hate, that rage, it’s thick like blood in my mouth. I feel that urge to rip and tear, to bring it all down and stamp upon the ashes. I know what is happening of course, it is this place. Those little thoughts you don’t give credence to, those urges you repress. All of these things are that much closer to the surface. That is both the beauty and danger of it. I look down at the valley again, I am so high above here, it would be so simple for me to step forwards and be done with it all. Another little trap of this place, but I understand this and I turn from the edge. It is after all, not the urge to jump that is dangerous but rather the desire to fall.

A rough block of stone, jagged dolmens circling it, containing it almost. This is a place of power, the walls between reality and the warp are thin here. Hence its amplification of base desires and urges, these things fundamental undercurrents of the warp. Great things can be done here, have been done here. Terrible things too, more often than not. There is elemental power here but it is also a place sacred to the darkness.

This is a place of beginnings, champions of darkness were born on this spot and others have made pilgrimage here. It is not, a place of absolute darkness, it is not where one must take a great undertaking in order to reach such as locations within the Eye or worlds that sit within the space held by the forces of the Archenemy. It is a place of simple choice that one can reach simply by being open to the question. In a way then it is more important than many of the greatest shrines, the dark cathedrals or demonic altars. Those that venture to such places willingly have long since made their choice.

This then, is a place where the choice can be made and is all the more important for that. There are of course, uncounted number of these places across the stars. Where man or stranger things have walked, you will find them. Living worlds, primitive worlds, and dead worlds. All of these places and more.

It is also a place of endings, such choices are not made lightly. They are the death of someone, of the life they knew, their ties, their friends and family. All that they were and all that they might have been had they said no. A place of endings… I do not touch them, but I can see the marks cut into the stone, the eight pointed star to channel the blood, the grooves and scratches of a thousand knives. The discoloration of the stone…  

It would be so easy now, to take my knife and make my choice. To watch the altar drink my blood like a toast to the death of Ambrose Tollman and walk from this place as something else entirely. No one would ever know until I returned and by then it would be far too late. But that is not why I have come here. No, I have come here because it is important to understand these journeys, the ways in which they start. I have hunted the heretic and the traitor for most of my life and while I have seen this story many a time, it would be grotesquely arrogant on my part to think I know each and every word of it by heart.

Dreams brought me here, as they have no doubt done with so many others. I have had many such nights of late and I know others have as well. It is not the first time but certainly it has never been like this and that is why I must come here. I have become too used I think, to grandiose plans, to sector shattering machinations, to the games of champions, captains and princes. Perhaps I have lost sight and thus needs must that I adjust my perspective. So I have come here to the start of road. I have come to feel it, to know it.

Perhaps I have also come to test myself against the choice, to see just how many times I can go without having to say no. Now that is arrogance, I feel the resonance of the site shift at that, almost as if it shares my amusement at this realisation. There is that familiar sensation, like when you see dealer at the table tell her thousandth customer of the week that the house always wins like it was the first time she has ever said it. Then of course, I feel it pulling that deeply buried fear that all Inquisitors come to know, that we are in too deep and that by the time any of us realises it, it is far too late. That a life of service and great deeds brings only an eternity of damnation and torment for our troubles.

And there it is.

But it does not push, it does not demand and I do not answer. It is almost as if there is a pause, as if it is waiting for something and that in turn tells me all I need to know. It is not a pleasant answer and while in truth I am unsure as to what answer I really wanted. But it is an answer and that is a start. So again, this is as I have said, a place of beginnings.

I make my offering and walk from the clearing, back into the forest. I shall leave this place and never set foot here again, those who call this planet home shall never know I was here and none shall follow in my wake. It is not lost upon me, that my efforts to discover the truth of these matters may well ultimately be my undoing. But I cannot sit and watch events unfold before me, it has been a long time since I have been a mere spectator to my own fate and I shall not go back that way.

Behind me, my offering, a compact melta device, turns the fane to glass behind me. The altar and its twisted dolmen vaporised as if they had never stood. Nothing more than ash, carried away on the wind, over the very same edge I had stood at moments before even as I consider what it was to stand upon that precipice.

And really, it’s not the urge to jump, it’s the desire to fall that is dangerous.




 

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09/5/2021 3:55 pm  #20


Re: Tollman’s Journal [Volume 2]

[A memory of Hera 1]

My Mistress,

I am pleased to report that I have been able to use the heightened clearance you so graciously granted me in order to access the [REDACTED] archive. The encryptions upon these reports are as complex as you would expect them to be. As such they are taking some time to decrypt, unfortunately I suspect that shall be the case for some time as without the Rosette of [REDACTED] or the heretic Tollman himself, we will not be able to gain access as quickly as we would like.

However I suspect that given the length of time between the submission of this report and events we are currently interested in there is not perhaps so great an urgency upon this matter as we had first thought.

That said I am of course still devoting my full attention to this matter.

From what I have observed so far the report seems to be broken into various phases and incidents across the Hera event.

Yours,

Interrogator Dalforth.

--

[Engrams and keys]

Thought for the day: It’s hard to dance with [REDACTED] on your back.

We have chased our enemy and indeed ourselves all across the sector looking for the engrams of the Iron Star Empire and the key to the heart of their empire and there in turn the prize we have sought for so very long. Unfortunately our foe has shifted tactics upon us, they know now that they cannot beat us to Hera and so they have abandoned such endeavours, bending their efforts to a more esoteric solution to ensure that they will arrive either as we do or indeed not long after.

It is my hope that they will fight among themselves as is their way, but I fear that their [REDACTED] is sufficiently strong willed that he will be able to bind the various factions to his cause for long enough for them to cause us some real problems.

It seems trite to say, but the board is set, everything we have done has brought us towards this meeting, this confrontation. Literally in this case, I have written before of the game board into which the greater daemon [REDACTED] is bound, exercising its subtle influence, playing a great game across the sector. Some pieces have moved to the edges of the board, the [REDACTED] and the [REDACTED] for example. But those of the great Dynasties, my own piece and indeed those of our enemies.

The equation is out of balance of course, the [REDACTED] already lies dead and [REDACTED] has claimed the mantle of [REDACTED]. He is new to his power and will seek to keep it, it is the nature of all who have power to come to fear to lose it and so it will not surprise me if he attempts to make moves against his fellow champions of darkness, but this is a truth only time will tell. After all, the expression of the chaotic will is both entirely individual and wholly mutable by its very definition.

This place comes with the weight of endings, everything leads here, everything ends here. It would be a shame to die here, but I am at peace with this reality. There may come a time when I need to go outside, I do not want to go, but I will if I must. There may come a time where they need to be strong enough to ask me to go outside.

I will if I must.

It feels poor to me to do so, considering how much time [REDACTED] and her crew spent in trying to help me.

But I will if I must.

 

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