When that lander came down in a public square and crunched down on the paving stones, my platoon and I were the first to step our boots down onto the surface of Piety. My name is Trooper James Reed. A few short months ago I was Prisoner 09119, serving a fifteen cycle sentence for assault on a defense force officer and disturbing the Emperor’s peace. Its funny how fast things can change.
We were not told much about Piety or what we were going to encounter. When we were standing in that square, the only thing that we encountered was a lot of silence. That wouldn’t be bad, except that all around us were tall buildings and statues staring down at us while the sun set and cast its glow over everything.
So many buildings. So many shrines to the Emperor. The silence was deafening. Where were all the people?
Sergeant Grimm receives orders over his headset and the Valkyrie’s engines whine as they pick up tempo and lift the craft off of the ground. We are left on our own for twelve hours, given a sweep of an area of the city in an effort to find out exactly happened here.
My platoon is the Bravo Company “Devil Dogs”, part of the NorCal army division requisitioned by the Lords of Terra and given under the command of the Red Scorpions space marines to hunt down and bring the traitor Huron the Tyrant to justice.
Today, NorCal has sent us to Piety to discover where its population went.
Sergeant Grimm has us move east away from the sunset so the sun is not in our faces, five on the left of the avenue and five of us on the right. The sergeant leads on the left. Corporal Deuce has the radio behind him. We’re all looking around us trying to find some kind of answer but in the beginning there simply weren’t any.
There was a lot of dirt covering everything, like nothing had moved in that city in a long time; not even the wind. Landers and other vehicles sat where they had been parked covered in that grey film. Windows stared blankly from buildings covered in dust. The only sound we heard was the sound of our boots on the pavement and the whining of engines off in the distance as our Valkyries were dropping other troops around the area like they had us.
The sun had been done only a little bit when we came to this big cathedral. It had a big belfry and these stain glassed windows that depicted the Emperor and his space marines liberating worlds, the colors of which were many as the nighttime light reflected off of their dusty surfaces.
There was this crunching noise under our feet. At first I thought it was gravel or something, I mean it was dark out and we really couldn’t tell the difference between the pavement and, well… the paving stones had turned into skulls. The crunching sound were the skulls being smashed in when we stepped on them.
Once we knew what we were standing on there by that cathedral, the sergeant called us back. That was when the rustling noise started. The paving stones were moving. Not just moving, they were GETTING UP!
Bodies started rising up around that cathedral. Most were skeletons. Some wore some type of uniform but it looked old and mouldy and it was hard to pick any of the details out. All of them carried weapons which they picked up off of the ground.
Gopher fired first. He was always skittish. We were backing out of there when I saw the blue beams from his las rifle slam into one of the bodies. That shot would have taken down anyone, but these guys weren’t alive. These guys were dead already, and when they returned fire on us and we all hit the ground we knew we were in some deep shit…