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Authors: Ian Watson

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The Inquisition War

BOOK: The Inquisition War
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A WARHAMMER 40,000 OMNIBUS

THE INQUISITION WAR

Ian Watson

v1.2 (2011.11)

I
T IS THE
41st millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.

Y
ET EVEN IN
his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of the warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor’s will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds. Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary defence forces, the ever-vigilant Inquisition and the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants and worse.

T
O BE A
man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruellest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

THE ALIEN BEAST WITHIN

DRACO

PROLOGUE

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

EPILOGUE

WARPED STARS

HARLEQUIN

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

CHAOS CHILD

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

INTRODUCTION

I wrote the trilogy of novels and the two short stories in this omnibus volume in the early 1990s, when Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 fiction were just beginning. I believe I was the first writer to tackle Warhammer 40,000 fiction. Other early scribes fled in consternation from the Encyclopaedia Psychotica of 40K rulebooks into the more familiarly medieval Old World or into the post-apocalypse America of Dark Future.

The then-owner of Games Workshop yearned for real novels by real novelists set in his beloved games domains – yet how could one possibly imagine that those little Citadel Miniatures of Space Marines were real human characters? Or even real superhuman characters? Never mind the array of abhumans, inquisitors, assassins and aliens as sketched in the rulebooks of those bygone days? (The aliens, of course, being unhuman characters!) How could these possibly come alive? Some voices muttered darkly that the task was impossible.

Here was a challenge. So I attacked the mountain of information, and I climbed it. Or ate it. And then I hallucinated myself into a strange state of mind whereby I could believe in such an insane future 40,000 years ahead. I only needed to remind myself that during the course of human history to date huge numbers of people have entertained delusionary belief systems which often lead to ultra violence. Need I mention the Crusades, the massacre of the Albigensians, the activities of the Spanish Inquisition, the horrors inflicted on suspected witches? Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century provided a bit of a model for the Warhammer 40,000 universe. However, the daemonic presence in the universe of 40K is real and actual – so to survive in such a future era you need to be psychotic, from our point of view.

For me the secret of writing Warhammer 40,000 fiction, and making it believable, was to go completely over the top in style and also in content – to be lurid and brooding and hyperbolic and generally crazy, although in an elegant, ornate way where a dark beauty pervades the atmosphere as in a painting by Gustave Moreau. (Some years earlier I wrote a story about Moreau’s painting of the disembodied floating head of John the Baptist.)

Just to be educational, I put in passages in Latin. For some comic relief, as Shakespeare has a fool in the tragedy of King Lear, so I created Grimm the squat. (Subsequently, I understand that tyranids ate all the squats, which is a shame.) And I enjoyed myself enormously, and I grew fond of my brave, mad characters. I became deeply involved in their destinies, and to this day I still think of them – particularly since by the end one is very insane, another is dead, and one is hopelessly lost; which suggests that perhaps I ought to write a fourth volume some time to rescue them from lunacy, death and solitude. For a while, anyway. In the 41st millennium, where all is whelmed in darkness, any moderately happy ending seems unrealistic.

Fortunately I was able to switch on my own psychosis in the morning at the same time as I switched on my computer, then switch it off again later in the day – or else I might have been possessed by Chaos! Something similar happened to me when I was writing my novel about the UFO experience, Miracle Visitors. Reports began to appear in the local newspaper of UFO sightings closer and closer to where I was writing. If I didn’t finish the book soon, who knows what might happen to me?

I was so happy with the resulting 40,000 books that I used my own name on them. Other tech-scribes used pseudonyms. They preferred to distance their Games Workshop fiction from their “real” artistic endeavours, but I didn’t feel this way – and as it turns out, my 40K novels appear to be the most popular things I’ve written in terms of sales and fan mail.

A kindly reviewer once wrote that I resemble HG Wells “in invention, and impatience”. I also quite resemble him physically too, consequently I have appeared as HG Wells at various events in England, Romania and Italy. But I do not mention a similarity to Wells out of egotism – perish the thought! I mention it because HG Wells is actually the chief inventor of modern-day wargaming. In 1913 Wells published a book entitled Little Wars, a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and to that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books; with an Appendix on Kriegspiel. In that book is a photograph of a layout which Wells built for what he called “The Battle of Hook’s Farm”. In an early Games Workshop manual, Rogue Trader, lo and behold, there’s a very similar photo of a layout for a fight between orks and Space Marines. Gosh. So my resemblance to Wells in various respects holds true in the realm of Warhammer 40,000 too!

Wells’s reason for pioneering wargaming to be played on a carpet or table or lawn was, in his words, “to show that Great War, real war, is the most expensive game in the universe and is a game out of all proportion”. He goes on to say that to the blundering insanity of war he opposes the striving for Utopia, and that excitable self-proclaimed patriots and adventurers should be locked up in a room to play wargames to satisfy themselves.

Well, almost immediately the First World War happened. The trenches, the slaughter. To be followed by Hiroshima and Dresden, Vietnam, the Congo, the Twin Towers... Is the universe of the year 40,000 actually madder than ours?

Fortunately, yes, it is. So far. But just as the daemonic visions of Hieronymus Bosch compare to horrors in the Netherlands a few hundred years ago, so perhaps Warhammer 40,000 compares to our own recent history. At the moment we are semi-enlightened and fairly civilised, on the whole. In a few hundred more years, who knows? If the climate changes radically, if resources run out and are not replenished, if jihads succeed, if x, y, and z, might there be a new Dark Age? Might our own daemons stalk a ravaged world?

To write stories set in the deranged future of 40K is to adopt, for a while, the medieval mind of Bosch – if Bosch could have written space opera.

Ian Watson, 18th March 42,004

THE ALIEN BEAST WITHIN

T
HE GIANT EXERCISE
wheel accelerated yet again while Meh’Lindi raced, caged within it. The machine towered two hundred metres high, under a fan-vaulted roof. Shafts of light, of blood-red and cyanotic blue and bilious green, beamed through tracery windows which themselves revolved kaleidoscopically. Chains of brass amulets dangling from the rotating spokes of the wheel clashed and clanged deafeningly like berserk bells as they whirled around.

Elsewhere in the gymnasium of the Callidus shrine, high-kicking initiate assassins broke plasteel bars, or else their own tarsal or heel bones. Injury was no excuse to discontinue the exercise – now they must master pain instead. Others dislocated their limbs by muscle tension so as to escape from bonds before crawling through constricted, kinking pipes. A pump sucked blood dazingly from two youths prior to their practising unarmed combat, and from another before he would attempt to run the gauntlet along a corridor of spinning knives. Scarred veteran instructors patrolled, ever willing to demonstrate to the unbelieving.

Callisthenics machines shrieked and roared and spun so as to disorient their users.

Meh’Lindi had been running for half an hour, trying to catch a fellow assassin who ran vertically above her, upside-down, wearing an experimental gravity-reverser belt. She ran in a self-induced trance, imagining that she might presently reach such an enlightened state of mind that she could speed up inhumanly and loop the loop, stunning her quarry as she passed by. Whenever she was about to put on such a spurt, the wheel speeded up to frustrate her.

Suddenly, with a thunderous crash of engaging sprockets and a screaming of its gears, the wheel halted.

Meh’Lindi was hurled forward violently. Though the event was entirely unexpected, she was already fully alert, and arching herself into a hoop so as to roll. Uncoiling, she somersaulted backwards. She leapt about-face. The wheel was already beginning to turn in the opposite direction. It was picking up speed. High overhead, her quarry was tumbling. She sprinted, up, up, willing the friction of her bare feet and her sheer renewed momentum to stop her from toppling back down the giant curved track. Presently a siren wailed, signalling the end of her session – just when she fancied she had a slight chance of succeeding in what was virtually an impossible task.

BOOK: The Inquisition War
12.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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