Over at the Black Library Bolthole, one of the regulars has set a challenge. To take a literary classic and put a W40K or WHF twist on it. I couldn’t resist. Neither could I resist the opportunity to write something just a little more lighthearted than usual, either. So here’s the first part of my W40K re-working of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’…
My dear sister
We have exited the warp at the very edge of the Catinitcra asteroid belt. Some say it was impossible to navigate – I defy them! We have plotted our course with great care and I am confident beyond confidence that we will successfully break through the asteroid belt to the unexplored systems beyond.
It is bleak and lonely at this lonely edge of the world, and yet there are wonders to behold that are beyond description. Dust clouds glimmer and catch the light of dying stars. It is heartbreaking in its beauty. Yet imagine! What awaits our party at the other side of the Catinitcra Belt fills my heart with excitement.
I will send further missives when the opportunity arises.
The Emperor bless my beloved sister.
Expedition Day 20 – Deep in the heart of the Catinitcra Belt
My dear sister
So strange an accident has happened to us that I can barely bring myself to relate it. Two days ago we were deep in the heart of the Catinitcra Belt, and a thick, impenetrable dust cloud rolled in. It obscured not only our passage, but our instruments as well rendering us blind in the Belt. We drifted, unable to navigate for what felt like an age until the cloud finally began to clear.
What wonder! We were stranded deep in the Belt, surrounded by asteroids and meteors of all shapes and descriptions – and yet to the north, several of my crew mates swore by the Emperor that they saw a figure – the shape of man with the width and breadth of the Adeptus Astartes drifting far beyond view sat atop an asteroid.
The ship’s chirurgeon has ordered a full check of the ship’s water supply for hallucinogenics.
We continued upon our way when disaster struck! An asteroid struck our vessel, all but destroying the starboard warp engines. It is repairable, but there is little fun to be had going round in circles when only your port engines are firing. Our expedition has thusly halted whilst the enginseers attempt a repair.
I took advantage to slip away from all the squabbling to catch up with a few hour’s sleep. I was awakened by the klaxxon alarm of the proximity warning and rushed up to the bridge where my Lieutenant was communicating with a very small ship, a one-man shuttle, really, that was requesting assistance.
‘We cannot allow him to perish!’ My Lieutenant was most adamant about the matter. ‘I’ve told him of your great benevolence and that you will gladly allow him aboard the Archangel.’
‘It might have been nice if you’d bothered to ask me first,’ I retorted, but could hardly say ‘no’ without appearing to be anything but the benevolent captain that I like people to think I am, right before I let a bolt pistol off in their face.
Where was I?
The castaway, for this was what he seemed to be, addressed me. He wore tattered robes that marked him as a fully paid-up member of the Adeptus Biologis and never have I seen a scruffier individual. ‘Before I board your vessel,’ he said in a voice filled with the weariness of ages, ‘will you have the kindness to inform me whither you are bound?’
We ran his request through the translator, because none of us had a clue what he meant, and realised what he was asking.
‘Why,’ I said with a hearty chuckle. ‘We are on a voyage of discovery! We seek to break through the Belt and explore the systems beyond!’
‘Have you got food and water aboard?’
‘That’ll do for me,’ he said. ‘Permission to come aboard?’
I granted such permission. This man had a story and I yearned to hear it. If I had to listen to Lieutenant Rogerson’s tale about the Time His Auntie Edna Had A Falling Out With Their Vera’s Second-Cousin, I may have been forced to rip his tongue out and flay him to death.
A lucky escape for him, perhaps.
My mysterious visitor repaid our kindness by drinking the last of the synthetic alcohol and cadging all my lho-sticks and only when he had done so would he agree to tell me his tale, all full of cares and woe.
‘Tell me,’ I asked him. ‘What brings you out to this remote part of the universe?’
‘I seek one who fled from me,’ he replied, between puffs of my very expensive lho-sticks. I stayed my temper. Later, I told myself. Later.
‘And did the one you chase also travel in a small one-man shuttle?’
‘No,’ he replied. ‘The daemon caught itself an asteroid. It’s all the rage.’
‘Then you may be in luck, for some of my men believed they saw such an apparition but a few days ago, incidentally, those lho-sticks are VERY expensive.’
‘Hang on,’ I said. ‘You’re actively pursuing a daemon?’
‘Yes, no, maybe… oh it’s all so COMPLICATED!’ He lit up another lho-stick. ‘Alas, alas, that it should come to this…’
He continued in much this vein for the rest of the evening. Sensing that I was going to get nothing further from him, I took my property back and adjourned to write this note.
I will advise you should he elect to elaborate on his personal circumstances.
Please send more lho-sticks.
PS: The Emperor bless my sister and all that.
Expedition Day 26 – Deep in the heart of the Catinitcra Belt
My dear sister
We’re still stuck. The enginseers are falling out with one another, someone used the last toilet roll and I haven’t had a lho-stick for three days. Things about the Archangel are extremely fractious – but at least my guest has finally agreed to open up and tell us what he is here for.
‘You may perceive,’ the stranger said, ‘that I have suffered some great misfortune.’
I struggled to see it, because as he asked the question, he was wearing my finest dress uniform, supping on synth-whisky and smoking Lieutenant Rogerson’s lho-sticks (having smoked all mine), but I kept my counsel.
‘I was planning on letting the truth of my endeavours die with me,’ he continued, a statement which allowed my imagination to temporarily run riot with as I thought of all the interesting and painful ways I could help him achieve this. ‘But I see your foolishness in this venture and I would share my cautionary tale with you, lest you fall to the pride and over-confidence that has destroyed my life, oh woe, oh woe…’
He lapsed into a great melancholy from which he took an age to recover, but finally he set down the synth-whisky and fixed me with a careful, steady stare.
‘Heed well my tale,’ he said.
And he began.
Here Endeth Chapter the First