Short Extract from The Emperor’s Gift
1,000 Facebook friends today. Admittedly, 200 of them are just normal Facebook friends rather than readers, but I thought the other 800 might find this interesting.
Here’s an extract from Chapter Eight of The Emperor’s Gift, my Grey Knights novel in progress.
First draft, obviously. And as always, it may never show up in the final book.
But I like it lots, so here it is.
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I still recall the first time I trained in the void, wearing a featureless, honourless suit of thin ceramite only barely approximating a knight’s true armour. To look down was to see the nickel-dull skin of the strike cruiser Unforsaken; to look up was to stare into the far reaches of absolute space, where distant stars winked in reply to my silent stare. I hadn’t been human in some time – the Emperor’s Gift wrought too many changes in me even then – but such a sight couldn’t fail to move me. Nothing prepared me for it. And how could I be ready? I’d seen little beyond my cell within the monastery and our fortress’s great stone chambers, forever ringing with the sound of crashing weapons, even when all voices fell to whispers.
I looked into the dark for a long time, hearing nothing but the slow, uneven rhythm of my own two hearts. Never had I felt so alone, so unsure of my worth in the endless, hostile expanse of space humanity claimed as its galaxy.
Saturn was a tilted orb to my left, oppressingly vast despite its distance, its curdled skies making my stomach coil. I remember how I raised my hand to it, as if it was a bauble to be drawn from the night sky. From so far away, it looked no larger than my palm. Deep below the cruiser’s hull, I could make out the curvature of Titan itself: milky with poisonous cloud cover, yet the only home I knew. To fall from my footing would be to plunge through its rancid atmosphere, ending my training as ashen particles enslaved by the nitrogen winds.
I looked away again, out into space. Far, far beyond Saturn lay the sun itself, and even with its corona crown it was a remote, pulsing speck.
In that moment, I felt what ancient generations must have felt when they first sailed to the stars. Should we have come here, so far from humanity’s cradle? Was this manifest destiny, to reach out into the black and carve an empire upon the rocky bones of conquered worlds?
Our masters tell us that to consider every perspective is a dangerous virtue. On that night, I learned why. Blessed is the mind too small for doubt. Humanity’s champions should never question our right to own the stars.
I carried that lesson with me when I first swore to serve the Inquisition. I carry it with me now, as a knight in the war our species must never see.