Two of them stood silently, as the third presided over the room from his desk.
They were in a small cabin, on a distant planet half-heard and created by the imaginings of a fevered dreamer, vivified by the essence of chaos.
They occupied this faint satalite in the warp, only half-existent, as a temporary oasis sculpted from the rest of the warp. It would not last long.
It did not need to.
“We may dispense with the formalities now, I presume?”
The sounds here were wrong, they came to the ears seconds after they were spoken, out of synch with the tongues that shaped them. But then again, ‘wrong’ as a term held no meaning here. Wrong implied some sense of right, of what should be, and holding on to any of the expectations of normality, would drive one insane in the warp.
A dusty block of starlight yellowed the room.
Pantocles rapped his fingers on the desk twice in impatience.
Rogan, the sorceror, took a slow turn to the new high-born initiate.
“Ergol Braun, you, a space marine, wish to join us unto finality?”
It took Braun several minutes to reply. Standing on the nostalgic verge of memory, he half heartedly gave a second thought to the decision he’d made long before he realised it.
“And you understand the meaning? You lay your life down for Tzeentch? You surrender to the grand changer of ways? You forsake the cult of the emperor, in favour of that of the living gods, to bathe in their glories, and fight for their cause?”
Ergol stood in the silent scrutiny, being weighed.
Ergol who had fought during sky bruising rips in reality, as S’Zark Ghzum’umblek opened up warp portals to allow the petals of chaos to flower on his home world.
Ergol who had stared a hive tyrant in the eyes, and witnessed the cruel intellect moving it from light years of empty void away.
Ergol who had lived to three hundred in the service of the emperor, with blessed rounds on his hip, and the blood of the emperor’s enemies on his blade.
Ergol stood in a small cabin room, with shimmering walls that became translucent under peripheral vision, and solidified under direct scrutiny. Now he stood with two servants of chaos, with only the ubiquitous drone of energy to remind him of something less peaceable outside.
Now, Ergol felt uncomfortable, he felt fearful of the judgement of the sorceror, and through his daze he only barely heard the echoed whispers of those cracked lips.
“Tell me why” they asked.
“Isn’t it simple?”
“Simplicity is a complicated subject. Explain your rhetoric.”
“Well then… In all my time in the imperium’s service, I’ve been fighting for the god-emperor who saw humanity to its golden age. I’ve slain more orks than I can count, I’ve permanently stained my armour with the ichor of tyranids, and I’ve nearly made my way inside of a necron monolith while flayed ones skinned my brothers and wore their skins in putrid psychological battle. Still, despite all the wars I’ve fought against every xenos threat, I carry more human blood on my hands than of any other species. A single exterminatus command wipes out all life on a planet. I’ve come to question the morality of what I was doing. And while I’ve done this, the emperor has sat, motionless, consuming a thousand psykers per day just to stagnate in a vegetative state. While I’ve fought for the dead doctrine of a brain-dead comatose god, who would never have wanted the imperium to drown in the dogmatic deluge it has, the imperium was crumbling. Since I was born, our vast network of planets has been fraying at the edges, unable to support its own weight. There is no moving forward, technologically, ideologically, or even astrographically. There is however negative growth, gene seed is lost in every war, planets are lost in days, when they took millenia to populate, dreadnaughts are mangled beyond repair, while we can build no more. And I found… Chaos. The first problem is morality. Chaos embodies all that is evil to subjects of the imperium, yet within the imperium itself no life has value, all are expendable. It is considered glorious to die for an emperor that supposedly watches us all psychically. I could not reconcile my belief, to the reality of what I was seeing anymore. No loving emperor-god would, in his omnipotence, sacrifice whole worlds of people in tactical strategems against an alien force. It seemed to me that the love given to the emperor was non-reciprocal. Not through fault on the emperor’s part himself, but simply because he is…”
Ergol still struggled with the blasphemy.
“He is not conscious, he is no god, he was decided to be one after his spirit was trapped in a corspe by the people who spread his gospel. With chaos, glory is based on merit, not bureaucracy. In chaos change is allowed. In change, there is progress. In progress, there is the concept of hope which was so desperately absent in the imperium.”
“Ah, Ergol, the scales fall from your eyes, but there is always more to intuit. What do you know of the Chaos gods?”
Ergol took a while, thinking, slivers of his thoughts played out in fleeting pictures against the roof.
“I know that the chaos gods are the ultimate avatars of what chaos is. I cannot presume to understand them.”
Pantocles spoke for the first time.
“Wise words Ergol.”
After a pause he continued:
“To understand the chaos gods might not be possible, but as you yourself said, in chaos is progress, and we do find ourselves slowly becoming more enlightened. We can grasp at the… Science, of chaos. Chaos itself, the raw essence of the gods, is born in the subconscious of every conscious being. Every dream, every thought, every emotion swarms together from all the infinite life forms in the galaxy to create a collective subconscious if you will. The psychic capacity of even the most inept creature gives a certain life to this collective subconscious. It gives it a certain consciousness in itself, and that consciousness is chaos. The gods themselves are certainly the most prevalent expressions of the strongest aspects of this consciousness, and in this, they themselves are not actually distinct beings, but rather merely four expressions of the infinitely more complex consciousness of chaos itself.
Now the epiphany, is that chaos, is what connects all psychic life. Chaos connects the eldar to the ork to the human, and from all of these, we may draw power, if we have the capacity, and in understanding this grossly simple concept, you understand that we are all, every living being, able to be gods in our own right. That is the true call of chaos, those heroic figures who are capable, shall never see their potential in the imperium. They shall fight and die and rot, but in the service of chaos, you are truly in the service of all life. You are in the service of yourself, you shall ascend the mortal shell and become more than you ever thought possible, and your actions shall echo into eternity.”
Pantocles’ eyes blinked horizontally, and his razor-teethed mouth rasped out his snake tongue in a harsh laugh.
“That, Ergol, is of course, if you are worthy. If not…”
The mewling form of a chaos spawn was vomited out by the roof. It had once been a man, but had been overcome by a transformation greater than it could handle, its organs hung loosely from its skin, which had been inverted to reveal throbbing muscles draining of blood.
“You see, the chaos gods are merely expressions of psychic consciousness, and in radical theory, you may surpass them. Like the imperium, chaos grants glory, not sympathy for the weak. Unlike the imperium, chaos grants freedom, and the chance to true power. So… Are you certain of your choice Ergol Braun?”
Braun stood stolidly. Looking on the wretched chaos spawn with no fear.