Last Son of Caliban: Questions
Interrogator-Chaplain Habbakuk paced his small cell. Behind his quarters stood four Deathwatch members in full battleplate, Thunder hammers charged, storm shields crackling. Two faced Habbakuk, two stood at their backs, facing into the cells. The 5th company patrolled the planet below, each squad scouring sectors long since cleaned of foes, pushing them hard while Habbakuk and Ezekiel struggled to explain the disaster unfolding before them.
“It cannot be coincidence Master Librarian. Someone must have orchestrated this. How else could the Fallen have sent one of their own, one who knows the Company Master sent on this mission here before he was even assigned to command OUR mission. There is treason at work! I must be free to interrogate BOTH of them. You must grant this, yes and bless it!” he growled. His basso voice grinding in the stonework and metal of his quarters on board the Tempus Occidere.
“Must Inquisitor-Chaplain? I was not aware that an Inquisitor-Chaplain could tell the Grand Master Librarian, the Holder of Keys, and the bearer of the Book of Salvation what he must do when it comes to the fallen. I grant that you have your own expertise. In fact I requested you specifically when Grand Master Sapphon presented me with his choices to accompany us. But do not think that my support for you means you can tell me what I must do. Interrogate the Fallen. I will question Master Cain. To date he has done nothing himself warranting suspicion beyond admitting knowing our wayward ‘brother’ and he has been very forthcoming with that knowledge himself. When you are done with your prisoner we will question Cain together. QUESTION I say. Remember, it was only by his actions that this Fallen was captured by us. Develop your questions and we will ask, ASK them.” Ezekiel said. He stood motionless before the door to the quarters, as still as Habbakuk was agitated in his pacing.
Habbakuk glared at his brother before jamming his helmet on sharply turning towards his cells he shouldered the gigantic Deathwing guardian aside as he went to collect his confession. Ezekiel watched him disappear into the soundproofed cell, then advanced himself down to the cell opposite it, where Master Cain waited, still in his robes as Master of the 5th Company, but nevertheless detained.
Master Cain stood in the empty cell. The unadorned room was designed to be uncomfortably small for an astartes so incarcerated. For a Primaris every dimension seemed downright torturous. Master Cain hunched over, the top of his spine pressed to the ceiling, along with his neck and the back of his skull. His arms folded across his chest as if he was totally at ease.
“Grand Master Ezekiel. We have had this discussion many times. I have told you what I know of my cousin. I have told you many things I am not certain of about my cousin. I have told you of my complete lack of knowledge regarding the Fallen. I have expressed my disappointment in so many… indeed practically all of those inducted with me if, IF what you have told me is to be believed. How long must I answer for the crime of capturing this Fallen for you.”
Master Ezekiel sighed. He knew the fairness of Master Cain’s questions. He understood the rage of betrayal hidden so long, exposed so suddenly. He knew equally that he could not free the Company Master to his duties, or even beyond these rooms until Habbakuk, Master Cain, and Ezekiel himself understood what exactly had happened, and how much they should tell the company. Ezekiel reached behind him, grabbing a pair of simple metal stools. Setting them in the room wordlessly they sat, so close their knees nearly rested in the other’s groin in the tiny cell.
“I cannot deny the truth behind your questions Master Cain. Nor will I try to. I can only defend them by saying this: The Unforgiven must protect our secrets, and honor, justice, and sometimes even the lives of our fellow servants of the Emperor must be sacrificed until we are certain these secrets are safe. We do not detain you because you deserve to be detained, but because we must isolate your knowledge from the company until we are certain what of it to share, and what to suppress.”
He paused. Master Cain stared at him for long minutes before nodding fractionally. “Now, and I hope this shall be one of the last, if not the last time. Tell me of your cousin, Japath.”
Master Cain’s eyes rolled back in his head a moment. His head hung briefly and a weariness entered his voice, even as he started repeating the story. “Japath was my father’s sister’s son. He grew up in my own household after his father perished, crushed under a tree during the great clearing to build armaments factories. We grew up from a young age, we had to work hard to help our family survive, even with the improvements the Emperor brought to our world. We were strong children, and faced the ordeal of the orders’ trials with eager anticipation.
When we were old enough we fought to go, my father wished to deny us but he had no right to do so, and we snuck away anyway. We made our way to the Order’s fortress and stood our night of vigil, silent, unmoving, feeding off each other’s strength. When the sun rose only four of more than one hundred boys remained in the field. The rest fell to weakness, of the mind or of the body. We passed through our trials and the screenings, and were about to begin the process of being transformed into astartes. At the end of the trials there were two nights of rest, separated by a day of meditation. During that day Sar Luther came where Japath and I were resting, meditating on the history of the Order. Behind him came a pair of metal men bearing the insignia of the mechanicum. Luther seemed greatly agitated. He questioned us, back and forth, probed our knowledge, tested our will. Japath challenged him. He answered with anger. Sar Luther didn’t respond to his anger, but soon after pointed at me. ‘That on’ he said. ‘That is the one the Lion will wish you to take'” Cain paused. Looked through the open door, at the closed one across the hall. “The Mechanicus adepts moved suddenly, instantly transitioning from still as statues to full speed they grabbed me with immense strength and ushered me out. They had a small ship, no more than a corvette, more like a courier ship, waiting to go. As soon as I was aboard I was placed in stasis. That was the last I saw of Japath.”
Ezekiel sat back, his hood low over his eyes. “Tell me of Japath. Tell me something about him. Not the dry history of how you came to wear the marks of our order. Tell me of your cousin the boy.”
Master Cain cocked his head. “The memories are not clear. The process of becoming a Primaris clouds our youth, much as the ways of becoming Astartes clouds your own.” He paused, weighing his words, gathering glimpses through the clouds of memory. “We had a pet. A bird of some sort. My sister. His sister? One of the other children living with us cared for it. The winter before we tested for the order the bird got out. The cold would kill it overnight. I thought it already dead the cold lay so heavily on us. The whole family huddled together under blankets. Japath couldn’t bear her moaning about the bird. He grabbed me by the collar. Dragged me from the pile. We went out together. We must have searched for hours. We found the cursed beast huddled in a nest of needles. It was shivering, not so lost to the cold that it couldn’t do that at least. Japath, he hated the thing. He thrust it at me, ‘Put it under your shirt Cain. I’m not warming the little shit up'” Cain smiled a moment. Slowly the smile slid to a grimace remembering how lost that boy was to him now. “He turned around looked back to where the snow had obliterated our trail and said ‘I hope you know where home is Cain. I found the bird, you find the house.’ He didn’t realize we’d gone out halfway to the manufactory and come near all the way back. He never could find his way in bad weather. I had us home in less time than it took me to tell you this story. When I handed… her… the bird she gave me all the thanks, and ignored Japath. I think that bothered him. I think it bothered him a lot.”
Ezekiel stayed in place, looking down, keeping the hood over his eyes. He stayed like that for a long time, not trusting his face to keep secret the thoughts in his head. Many stories of the Fallen and their history lay in the heavy book secured to his hip. None of them contained a tale like this. How to use it. How to turn it on Japath. “I think you have clarified things Cain. I must ask your patience a while longer. I will consult with Habbakuk, and with the Lieutenants. I think your little bird might just grant you flight from your prison.”