The universe of Warhammer 40,000 is, as we all well know, dark and full of terrible things lurking in the corners. Below is the first chapter of a multi-part story. It was supposed to be arriving in the summer but circumstances and real life delayed our campaign momentarily, so here is the opening of the story of Imperial Guard Corporal, Rosa Dominguez. She’s having a very bad day…
Chapter 1. Landing
Smoke, thick and bitter, poured into the settled compartment. Corporal Rosa Dominguez stirred. Each sense was disconnected but scent cut through first, jerking her head around with the scorch of ozone. The hiss and crackle of a small electrical fire came next, followed in short order by the grey light filtering through the spiderweb-cracked carapace of the vessel she was in. Rosa finally tasted the familiar tang of copper in her mouth before she registered that she couldn’t move. Each of her senses coalesced quickly: she was in a shuttle; the shuttle had crashed; the crash had killed the shuttle; she was alone.
Rosa’s legs felt heavy. Did they still work? She glanced down. They were both there but they were leaden. Where was she? That didn’t matter now because there was smoke pooling above her head, clouding the carapace window. Smoke meant fire. Fire burnt oxygen. Rosa’s methodical thinking brought her to another conclusion swiftly: she was fond of oxygen. The shuttle’s navigation systems should have set her down somewhere on a planet with breathable air, but the damage she could take in around her might have occurred in flight. Briefly a memory flashed to mind, the flight, the panic, the screaming. What had happened up there?
It didn’t matter, a fire in the shuttle would burn through the air quickly. Rosa strained her neck to look around, the flight suit she was in didn’t fit particularly well (the guard had a noted tradition of matching their emergency suits to the average wearer, and the average wearer was notably more male than Rosa). To this end the flight suit’s neck line obstructed her peripheral vision. She couldn’t see the fire, but she could smell it and a tell-tale crackle indicated that the electrics were involved.
Hands aching and arms heavy with unaccustomed gravity, Rosa managed to press the harness release. Her world re-oriented immediately and painfully. Bile rose in her throat, mingling with the heated metallic air. She swallowed it down, no time. The world was off-kilter. The angle of landing had evidently been less than optimal. The exit was above her now, at least a 45 degree climb. Smoke continued to gather. The glow on the far side of the cabin was the source. Rosa didn’t know whether there was any fire safety equipment. The last time she’d been in one of these was back in basic training, and even then her instrucotr’s had said: ‘pray to him that you don’t need one of these.’ So she climbed.
Bright cool light and a dry heat greeted the emerging soldier. Having managed to grab an all-purpose survival pack and a fully charged standard issue lasgun from the storage by the exit door, Rosa considered herself lucky. That was, until she saw the drop. The shuttle had planted itself nose first into a rocky outcrop in, what looked like, a desert. Actually, that wasn’t right. As her eyes adjusted to the clear light, she could see the scored path of the shuttle before it had come to a rest, at least half a klom into the distance. Regardless, she was about 18 feet off the ground and climbing over the cracked window on the top of the ship and sliding down that way with a fire under her was an unappealing option.
Looking around, Rosa found cargo webbing on the inside of the door. Using it she swung herself down onto what remained of the landing gear and managed to find several foot-holes to clamber down from there. The minor sense of victory from overcoming such a small obstacle soon found itself drowning in the questions presenting themselves to her. What do you do? Where do you go? Where the hell are you now? There were no answers, so training kicked in. Rations to stretch to a week or more, combat knife, standard issue med-kit, lasgun charge adapter, folding shovel, compass, bivouac tarp, prayer book, and firelighters. What else could a guardsman need?
Rosa gave herself a bit of space between her and the shuttle, just in case that fire got to a fuel tank, and dug a foxhole. She may well have been unconscious for a while, but the bile rose in her throat again the coppery taste of ozone threatened to trigger her to vomit. But Rosa was in a desert she didn’t know. She wasn’t about to let fluids go to waste. Even the ones that wanted out of her body that badly. She forced herself to calm her insides and breathe. A slick sweat beaded on her forehead. No amount of rational thought and breathing processes would help her in this situation. She was shafted and she knew it. This planet might not even be inhabited, and if it was the odds of her finding a population, let alone another living sentient creature in a week, were slim. The thoughts assailed her clouding mind. The smoke inhalation had brought on a painful sensation behind her eyes. Sleep beckoned. The night was falling. Corporal Rosa Dominguez pulled the tarp over her foxhole, fixed her eyes on the light orange glow of the burning shuttle nearby and melted into semi-consciousness.
We hope you enjoyed our first 40k fiction. If you don’t want to miss out on part two then make sure you like and subscribe to Master of Magics to keep up to date with all the content we make. If you want to help support us and donate to our Patreon you can do so at the link provided. Until next time citizen remember, “Only in death does duty end”.