today is the joyous day

“Rest assured, you fools. Your time will come. This is only the beginning. Let us start a new reign of terror. I will let you live a fantasy beyond your imagination.”

(He was one of us… Seifer… You’ve become just a memory. Will they… Will they talk about me this way if I die, too? Squall was this and that. Using past tense, saying whatever they want?)

“There are no guarantees in the future. That’s why TODAY, the time we have now, is important.”

“You've all grown so much… and become so strong… I have waited for this day to come. And also feared this day would come. Is today a joyous day? Or an odious day?”

“You can find out things about the past that you never knew. And from what you’ve learned, you may see some things differently in the present. You’re the one that changes. Not the past.”

 “I don’t want the future. I want the present to stand still. I want to stay here with you…”

 “Reflect on your… Childhood… Your sensation… Your words… Your emotions… Time… It will not wait… No matter… …how hard you hold on. It escapes you…”

 In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the original Where I Belong Challenge and the third annual Successor Challenge, time is this year’s theme.

 All Final Fantasy VIII fans — both experienced and new — are invited to participate in The Successor Challenge in August 2017. This challenge is open to any character(s) you wish to write about, draw or create fan mixes for.    

The challenge’s requirements are as follows: 

1. Entries have to be posted and completed in August 2017. Any submissions after 11:59 EST on August 31st will not be accepted. The submission page will be enabled on August 1st.

2. Submissions have to be made specifically for the challenge. No reused or re-purposed pieces will be allowed.

3. Any fanfiction pieces submitted cannot rely on any knowledge other than the game canon so they can be readily accessible to everyone. They must be standalone pieces - no sequels to existing works will be allowed.

4. As this year’s theme is broad in scope, the sole thematic requirement for fanfic submissions is that the word ‘time’ is included somewhere in the body of said submission. Other mediums are not subject to this requirement but it is encouraged to be depicted some manner.

5. There are no restrictions on fic length or genre. One-shots and poems are welcome. Multi-chaptered fics must be completed before the end of August or else they will be removed from listings.

6. All works posted on other sites must mention that the submission is for the Successor Challenge.

7. If you would like your works featured here, please use the submission page as changes to the site have made it impossible to pull up tagged posts with links.

8. All that is required for submissions is a link to the original posting. As submitted fanfiction posts are formatted to a standard convention, the details (synopsis, featured characters, genre, etc) will be pulled from the link provided. Other mediums will simply be reblogged if the work was posted on Tumblr or hosted with appropriate credited links otherwise. Feel free to include any additional links for collaborators, if applicable.

9. As the challenge is here to celebrate the game and the relationships within, please refrain from character bashing and keep OCs to perfunctory roles only. They should be either minor characters to support the main cast or serve as antagonists - no Main Character x OC pairings, please.

If you have any questions about the guidelines outlined above, please do not hesitate to send an ask! :)

(Note: all questions will be answered publicly to minimize repeat questions - barring any requests to be answered privately, of course. As the theme is different from previous years’, please do not refer to asks from 2015/2016.)

Hello young ones! Today is a most joyous of days for Soul Island!

We Temmies of the Island are elated to announce that Undersoul Academy is ready to accept Enrollment from potential students!

Oh the merriment we’ll have! The growth of our beloved home has given us the rare opportunity to truly test your abilities.

Magic, young ones! We will teach you to harness the strength of your soul!

The Call has been made!

So please, should you wish to visit our home; to grow, to frolic, or merely to make a friend, take the time to [Enroll Here] by June 25th! While we may accept late arrivals, it will help our record keepers immensely to have all students accounted for before the Academy opens.

Remember your [Uniform]! Obey the [Rules]! And please, should you have a question, feel free to [Ask]!

I truly look forward to seeing you all, newcomer and returning guest alike!

~Sincerely, Your Host Headmaster Eimmet

SQ Official Twitter: 22 April 2017

translated by m0yo @ tsukipro-en

Today is Murase Dai (CV Umehara Yuuichirou)’s birthday☆

Tsubasa: Ha~h! There’s also a celebration happening in the dorms below (happy birthday Mori-kun!), and we’re having one here as well! Let’s drink today! Dai-chan, congraaaats!
Rikka: Dai, you’re really growing…
Shiki: Oh joyous day
Dai: We haven’t even crossed the International Date Line yet, you guys are going at it too hard

# Murase Dai birthday celebration 2017

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

If you're still doing requests, um Angsty Whink Soulmates When Pink is Shattered and White feels her utter fear, Terror and stuff before Pink is just GONE.

Lol I’m definitely gonna make another part to this. Props to anyone who can guess what the surprise was supposed to be, although I tried to make it pretty obvious without completely giving away what happens next.

Please forgive any mistakes I’m terrible at proof-reading. 

White paced back and forth nervously, the base on which they had gathered seemed to be oozing with anxiety.

Today was supposed to be a joyous day for the gem empire. The news she had received only yesterday made sure of that. Even the rebellion taking place on her soul-mates colony couldn’t dampen her mood.

And then that deep foreboding feeling settled into her chest, and every bit of joy she felt completely flew out the airlock.

Yellow watched her pace with a frown decorating her face, her hands laced underneath her chin and she leaned forward on the meeting table from where she sat, “Pacing isn’t going to get Pink here any faster. Honestly, I’m surprised you haven’t created a trench yet.”

“Yellow,” Blue chided. “Be nice.” The more sullen of the three smiled kindly in White’s direction, “She’s only worried for Pink.”

“Something’s not right,” White groaned, checking the bond for the thousandth time that day. As usual, Pink responded by sending feelings of love and amusement, her way of saying ‘Hey I’m fine, you big baby’ through their shared connection.

But it still did nothing to help appease her, and she continued on her path of anxiety and self-torment over a simple feeling nagging at the back of her head.

Idly, she ran a hand over her gem, feeling the heat radiating from it.

White realized she probably should be more concerned about what she was going to tell Pink. Blue and Yellow didn’t worry her as much, the pair would probably be ecstatic at the opportunity presented before them.

But she’d never discussed this with Pink, heck White didn’t even know this could still even happen!

Calming waves from Pink’s end gently brushed into her, and embarrassedly White realized she must have been sending her distress over the bond.

With a sigh, she righted herself, “Perhaps I am overthinking it, I can get a bit para-!”

Something hot and sharp slammed into her stomach, leaving her to double over in pain as stinging tears filled her eyes.

In a flash, Yellow managed to grab her just before she fell. Blue screamed at the Pearl’s to call for help.

But it wasn’t White who needed it.

Anger, fear, hurt, and a overwhelming feeling of defeat stabbed through her heart. Radiating from the top of her head down to the soles of her feet.

Pink’s end of the bond was chaotic and scattered, as if all her emotions were spilling out without restraint.

She heard Yellow curse, followed by a hand pressing into her stomach.

Right where Pink’s gem would be.

Even without looking she could feel the burning on her skin, the cracks slowly spreading throughout her torso, all originating from the same spot.

Blue grasped her hand, pleading and crying- but White could no longer hear.

Her only focus was on the bond between her and Pink.

The ties keeping them together began to snap one by one, and White could only sob reach out to her other half, using all her mental power to keep them connected.

But it was all for naught, and the last thing White ever felt from her beloved was a quick thought of love and thanks.

White cried- the burning spread to her gem, a scream tearing from her throat.

Then an icy darkness consumed her, the silence only rivaled only by that of the broken bond.

Since we have a couple of imagines with the farmer having a panic attack, maybe we could have one where the farmer helps their spouse with their panic attacks?

Abigail: It was during the annual egg hunt that Abigail tended to shine, putting her monster hunting fantasies to practice as the imagined the eggs as little slimes.

“Go!” Called out Lewis, signaling the beginning of the hunt to the farmer, their wife, and the other children that had gathered to participate.

They each ran off in their own respective directions, playfully teasing about who would get the most eggs as they began the search.

Suddenly, Abigail froze in her tracks as she rounded the corner to the saloon, finding in front of her a wild dog, it’s head obscured by the trashcan it was digging through for scraps. Suddenly, she was trapped in ice and she couldn’t move a muscle. She could only hear her heart pounding in her chest and her breathing as it rapidly decayed into a raspy gasp.

Moments later, the farmer briskly walked down the pathway to the left of the graveyard, and they stopped in their tracks when they saw a hint of purple hair and a purple boot poking out from the side of the saloon. Curiously, they approached and stopped short when they found Abigail leaned against the side of the outer wall, clutching her vest tightly.

“Abigail?” They asked gently, tenderly placing a hand on her shoulder. She jumped and looked up at them with wide eyes and the farmer understood.

They gently scooped Abigail up in their strong arms and ducked into the saloon to be alone and hold their wife. “It’s okay,” they whispered soothingly to her until her shaking stopped. They tilted her face up to theirs and gently laid a kiss on her forehead. “You’re alright. Why don’t we leave early this year and go play Prairie King?”

“But,” Abigail sniffed, “What about winning the egg hunt? I just ruined our chances.” The farmer gave her a gentle squeeze.

“Don’t worry about it, there’s always next year. Now come on, I have a piece of Fire Quartz with your name on it.”

Alex: The farmer opened the door to the cabin they shared with Alex, they could instantly feel something was off. There was something like dread hanging in the air.

“Alex?” They called out as they searched for their husband. “Oh, Alex,” they sighed when they spotted him in the kitchen, leaning over the stove. “I just had the worst feeling that something bad had happ-” they were cut short when Alex crumbled to the floor.

“Alex?” The farmer knelt down and took their husband into their arms. He was in a cold sweat and, as he shook, grasping onto the farmer for comfort, it became apparent what was happening.

The farmer scooped him up and carried him outside, setting him down on a rocking chair that had been set on the porch of the cabin. They disappeared into the cabin again then returned with a glass of cold water, giving it to Alex and taking a few steps back to give him room.

When his breathing had stabilized, the farmer asked quietly, “Feel better?”

Alex finally opened his eyes and looked at them. “Much better. Thank you so much.”

Elliott: “Please,” Elliott sounded desperately overwhelmed, “No more questions for now.” He held his hands up defensively as he took a step back, finding his back pressed to a bookshelf. Today was a very joyous day, his book had finally been published and he was having his first panel about it. He hadn’t expected such a large, demanding crowd.

“Please step back.” The farmer commanded firmly, squeezing themselves between their husband and the crowd.

“I need to get out of here!” Elliott whispered to the farmer, gripping the back of their clothes. The farmer could feel how his fingers shook and how tight his grip was.

“Step back.” The farmer commanded again, pressing the crowd back. Elliott turned and pressed his forehead to one of the books on the shelf. He desperately needed to keep it together in front of all these people.

The farmer turned back to see their husband beginning to wilt and took him by the hand, pulling him through the little gap they had made until they were safely outside. They helped him mount their horse and they rode together, Elliott clinging to the farmer gravely, until the cabin came into sight.

The farmer gently nudged Elliott off the horse and helped him inside where they brewed some of his favorite tea and set a gently crackling fire in the fireplace. They then took one of Elliott’s favorite poetry books off the bookshelf they shared and read to him until his troubles seemed miles away.

Penny: “Try to calm down,” the farmer tried to soothe their newly wed wife.

“No, you don’t understand!” Penny was frantic, her fingers tangled in her hair as she was pacing along the rug that was laid out on the floor of the farmer’s cabin. “She can’t take care of herself without me! She’ll drink herself to death at the saloon, or she’ll give herself food poisoning trying to cook for herself–” Penny’s words were beginning to run on together and resemble gibberish more than words. She had known marrying the farmer would mean moving in with them, but she hadn’t considered it would mean leaving her mother alone.

The farmer approached Penny and took her firmly by the shoulders, looking in her eyes. “Penny. It’s okay. You need to breathe,” they reminded her, their hands trailing from her shoulders then down her arms, taking her hands in theirs. “Your mother is a grown woman.” The farmer’s tone began to be more gentle and soothing as they went on, but they never stopped using at least a bit of a firm tone. “She’s going to be okay, but you won’t if you don’t stop worrying.” They glanced down at the rug. “Or if you don’t stop trying to rub a hole in my rug.”

Penny sighed and nodded. She knew she was being irrational. “Thank you.” She smiled and kissed the farmer’s cheek, giving their hands a little squeeze.

Sam: Helping his father with therapy had taken it’s toll on Sam. The normally easygoing, laidback man had been strung out and wound way too tight for several days now. Things had gotten bad enough that he now needed his own therapy, which he had now decided to bring his love along to.

The farmer sat in a long, overly plush chair with their husband as he prattled on about how his father had almost died so many times, and how lost he and his younger brother would be without him.

“I keep imagining burying him,” Sam said, clutching his shirt over his chest. “I even dream about it sometimes.” His jaw clenched and his whole body went rigid. The trembling began in his fingers and hands then carried up his arms and to his shoulders like the cold seeps into you on a chilly winter day.

“Sam?” The farmer asked gently after the silence seemed too long for him to only be gathering his thoughts. That’s when Sam’s breathing began to escalate. At first it seemed like he felt the room was a bit stuffy, but it snowballed quickly into him clawing at the collar of his shirt as he gasped rapidly.

The farmer quickly wrapped their arms around Sam and laid his head on their shoulder, squeezing and nudging him in an effort to bring him back. A few tears began rolling down Sam’s cheeks before the shaking and heavy breathing stopped almost as abruptly as it began. He raised his head weakly and looked between the therapist and the farmer.

“I’m sorry,” he laughed halfheartedly, trying to forget that the episode had occurred, “Where was I?”

Sebastian: Sebastian had been laying in bed all day today, thinking about his career and how nobody but his adoring farmer seemed to take it seriously even in the slightest bit. He heard the door to the cabin clatter open and he felt fear spike up through his heart. He couldn’t let the farmer see their rock, their husband like this.

“Sebastian?” He heard the farmer call and he could feel his breathing began to race so he clapped his hand over his mouth, forcing the air in and out of his nose.

The farmer could hear some weird sounds coming from their bed, so they approached it and drew back the covers only to be surprised by what they found. Sebastian was curled in the fetal position between the sheets, and he jolted when the blankets were removed.

He suddenly crumbled into a gasping, shaking mess and his farmer knew what to do right away. They climbed in bed with him and pulled him into their embrace, folding the blankets bock over them and whispering to him about how much they cared for them and anything they could think of to distract him until he he regained composure.

“Come on,” the farmer stroked his hair, “let’s go catch some frogs then play videogames. Okay?”

anonymous asked:

Yuki-onna anon! You don't have to if you don't want to but i loved your first scenario! Could you do a super short one with Gaara reassuring her on their wedding day cause she heard someone talk shit abt the fact hes marrying a monster? Tysm!!

It took Gaara a few moments to come to his senses, but when he did, he realised he was being woken up by his sister shaking his shoulders violently.

“It’s already nine o’clock, Gaara. Why aren’t you awake yet?” Temari said, rolling her eyes.

“W-What?” Gaara mumbled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He soon remembered – it was his wedding day. Nervous and excited butterflies soon developed in the pit of his stomach, but he didn’t have time to dwell on this because Temari was interrupting his thoughts.

“You need to go and see Y/N,” she commanded him.

“I didn’t think I was allowed to see her before the wedding,” he stated with a confused frown.

“That doesn’t matter. She’s upset, and she needs you,” Temari told her brother firmly.

“Upset? Why?” Gaara asked worriedly, feeling very awake all of a sudden.

“Some assholes were hassling her, telling her the kazekage shouldn’t be marrying a monster,” Temari explained, her disgust evident in her expression and the way her lip curled.

Gaara’s heart sunk at the cruelty of the world, and he swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Tell her I’ll be there in five minutes,” he instructed Temari.

True to his word, in just a few minutes Gaara had changed out of his pyjamas and had rushed over to where Y/N was staying. Upon seeing his soon-to-be wife, he could’ve sworn he felt his heart break in two. Her face was stained by tears, and the devastated look on her face was enough to bring pity to anybody’s chest.

“Gaara!” she exclaimed when she saw him, running to him and collapsing into his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, and he felt her icy frame shudder in his arms.

He heard a sniffling sob before she whispered, “Perhaps they’re right, Gaara. Perhaps you shouldn’t marry a monster.”

Gaara pulled back from his fiancé in order to look her in the eyes.

“You’re far from a monster, Y/N. The real monsters are those who judge others before they even know them.” Gaara told her, his voice soft and soothing.

A small smile showed on Y/N’s face, and her tears subsided. “Now, you’d best get ready. We have a big day today,” he told her, his expression joyous. Y/N nodded, her smile growing.

Gaara pushed a lock of her black hair behind her ear, and pressed a light kiss to her cool, pale forehead. “That’s my girl,” he commented.

-Admin Will

anonymous asked:

Just a PSA my cat yawned it was adorable this is a joyous time ((I may be supposed to ask about politics or society but cats are cute so there)) Also a bunch of tadpoles are just… in my pool? There's water on the pool cover that never really goes away and there are over 50 tadpoles just swimming around. You probably don't care but it's hilarious?? I told my dad that there were tadpoles and he was like "No those are discolored sperm" Today is just a joyous day and I wanted to share happiness

I’m glad that you’re having such a great day! It’s awesome that you want to share the wealth.

Hi guys~! How’s your weekend? (*ò∀ó*ノノ”チャ☆

Today I’m going out with Kurokocchi, Aominecchi and Momoicchi! We were playing basketball since morning. ⁽⁽◝(*≧ᴗ≦)◜⁾⁾ Now we are at the restaurant near park to have a lunch together. Also today is Aominecchi’s birthday! Best wishes for a joyous day filled with love and laughter. Happy birthday Aominecchi!! ( b*ゝ∀ó*)☆

I hope we could continue to hang out after this but I should go home earlier to work on my summer homework. Ah tomorrow school already゚(゚ノДó*゚)゚。              

JAMBO! (HELLO in Swahili) Today, is the eve of Joyous Kwanzaa. In the next seven days we will celebrate the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa which are: Umoja for Unity, Kujichagulia for Self-Determination, Ujima for Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa for Cooperative Economics, Nia for Purpose, Kuumba for Creativity, and Imani for Faith.

My recent obsession with CGI clowns has overshadowed my love of DHMIS quite a bit, but nevertheless my love still remains. And since today is the joyous day of June 19th, a day we have yet to learn the actual significance of other than it simply being a recurring theme in DHMIS, I whipped up this quick little celebratory piece. And so today marks the end of Puppet Awareness Month for 2015, with an interesting Kickstarter update to mark the occasion


Happy Annual Celebration of Birth Zhang Yixing! The world has known a wonderful 23 years of you! If everyone had ¼ of your spirit and compassion like wow imagine how beautiful the planet would be. So much talent, so polite, all round you are just da bes. You deserve like more than 1 cake today, like a whole bakery. Enjoy your day of merrymaking and have a joyous & healthy year. God bless you. God bless your soul. God bless us everyone.

Blood Price

Since I need to calm my rage about Star Wars, here’s something that isn’t infuriating: Blood Price, a short story written by Black Library author Graham McNeill to promote the game Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade.

“Has there ever been a day like this?” said Governor Tarqel Roschin, puffing out his chest and brushing imagined specs of dust from the puffed sleeves of his fur-lined pelisse. Gold thread woven through the material made it sparkle in the late morning sunlight and accentuated the deep crimson of his bronze-buttoned tunic and polished boots.

“Not in living memory, my lord,” answered Nuri, adjusting the golden scabbard at the governor’s hip.
“How long has it been?”
“Two hundred and sixty three years, my lord.”
“A glorious day for Arkhona,” said Roschin.
“A glorious day for you, my lord.”

Roschin nodded, pleased Nuri understood the nuances inherent in this moment. He expected no less. His bodyslave was attentive to detail, and Roschin was forced to concede the man had done a commendable job in making sure he was presentable.

On a day like today, appearances were everything.

A shame, then, that Roschin was forced to share the dignitaries’ pavilion with his fellow planetary officials. The heads of Arkhona’s noble Houses had come with swollen entourages, military escorts, and a level of pomp that might be expected were the Emperor himself to set foot on Protos.

Not that any of the other nobles could match the spectacle the wealth of Protos could provide. Roschin glanced up, but the sky was heavy with low cloud and atmospheric disturbances from the fleet in low orbit.

No sign of any landers, but as far Roschin could see, Aquila Primus spaceport was awash with immaculately presented specimens of Arkhonan soldiery, epitomising his efficient, loyal and productive world.

Planetary Defence Regiments by the score mustered in the shadows of the bustling port’s towering lifter-rigs and launch cradles. Tens of thousands of men, well-trained, well-armed and fiercely proud, arranged in resplendent ranks amid a sea of vividly-hued banners and glittering eagles. A hundred or more colours bands filled the air with rousing martial tunes as booming hymnals bore words of piety skyward from the Ecclesiarchy’s Capitol Imperialis devotionals.

Orbital traffic had been grounded for the day, and though the parsimonious mercantile guilds had wailed in protest, Roschin’s decree was absolute.

Today the skies belonged to the visitors.

Today the Imperium returned to Arkhona.


Tamara of Aridus had come clad in voluminous jilbab of russet brown that did little to conceal her swollen belly in which she grew yet another heir. Roschin wrinkled his nose as he caught a faint whiff of industrial-grade chemical fertilisers in the folds of her robes.

“How many does that make now, Lady Tamara?” he asked.
“This will be my thirteenth child, Lord Roschin.”
“Thirteen? Emperor’s Mercy,” said Roschin, with a shake of his head. “I know Aridus is fertile, but it’s crops you’re supposed to be growing down there.”

Tamara dutifully chuckled as Roschin turned his attention to the other nobles. Losekin of Sylvae was clad in imitation of an Imperial Preacher, swathed in intricately arranged robes of gold and cream and with a pair of pistols belted at his hip.

“Taking the term, “defender of the faith” a little too literally, aren’t we?” said Roschin.

Losekin shook his head. “If you’d walked the Vea Sacra as often as I have, you’d know better than to mock, Tarqel.”

Roschin ignored the rebuke and turned to Edrek of Planus, whose dusky skin and stoic demeanour made him all but unreadable. Yet even the taciturn Edrek couldn’t help but look to the skies every few minutes with anticipation.

“Worried they’ll not come?” said Roschin.

Edrek ignored him and Roschin turned to the last of the nobles, Talabek of Volcanus. Alone of his fellow nobles, Talabek wore an expression that looked like he’d just bitten into something unpleasant.

“Something troubles you, Lord Talabek?”

The man looked over and gave him the kind of look Roschin remembered from the Scholam just before Pastor Alevant would beat a child for misremembering an obscure fragment of Imperial lore.

“This whole day troubles me, Lord Roschin,” said Talabek.

The man’s voice was rasping and parched, which served him right for living on Volcanus. All that heat wasn’t good for a man’s constitution. Or his temperament.

“It troubles you?” said Roschin. “This is a great day for us all. After…what is it again, Nuri?”

“Two hundred and sixty three years, my lord.”

“Yes, after two hundred and sixty three years, the servants of the glorious Emperor, amongst whose number we must all count ourselves, have returned to Arkhona. Today is a day for joyous celebrations and giving thanks for His beneficence.”

“Then you’re an even bigger fool than I thought.”

Roschin’s lifewards bristled at the insult, but Roschin ignored them. He’d sparred with Talabek enough in the palace debate chambers not to be fazed by the man’s boorish manner.

“An unkind interpretation of that remark might be to consider it treasonous, Lord Talabek.”
‘Is it treasonous to ask why the Imperium comes here now, after so long?”
“That all depends on how you ask.”
“Then why do you think they are here, Lord Roschin?”
“Because we are a world of the Imperium and it is our duty and honour to offer up our proud sons to fight in the Emperor’s glorious wars,’ said Roschin. ‘It is our solemn and most privileged task to serve His ineffable wisdom by being part of the holy machine that is His Imperium.”
“Words were spoken by rote,” sneered Talabek.

“True,” admitted Roschin, “But I believe them. Can you say the same? My House has been preeminent among the noble houses of Arkhona for centuries because my antecedents lived by them. You and others like you have grown soft; complacent and too much in love with the rewards position grants you, never once considering the duty such position requires, no, demands.”

Talabek hid it well, but Roschin saw his surprise.

“Well said, Lord Roschin,” said Talabek with a short bow, “but please do not mistake my natural caution with a lack of faith in the Emperor. I am, as are we all, dutiful and loyal subject of the God-Emperor, but where the Imperium walks, it does not step lightly.”


The first ship broke through the clouds an hour later. Not a single colours bands failed to miss a note in their playing and prayers faltered as every soul took an awed breath at the ship’s incomprehensible scale. It seemed impossible that something so vast, so monumental, could remain airborne let alone traverse the stars.

Like the craggy underbelly of an ocean-going leviathan, its metalled flanks were encrusted with gnarled growths, but of architecture and robust practicality instead of parasitic organisms. Vast holds gaped and spilled lambent illumination across Aquila Primus. The downdraught of enormously powerful repulsor fields made every banner snap and billow in electromagnetic thermals that made Roschin’s teeth hurt.

Only a portion of the ship was visible, its bulbous ventral structure protruding beneath the clouds. Who knew just how large it truly was? Thousands fell to their knees, weeping at its sheer magnificence.

“Wondrous, just wondrous,” said Roschin, the bass thrum of its vast engines almost obscuring his words. A bark of grating binary from the foot of the dignitaries’ pavilion drew his attention, and Roschin saw a number of red-robed priests of Mars making oddly geometric gestures across their chests.

Ave Deus Omnissiah,” said Talabek, copying the gesture of the Martian priests and his earlier unease seemingly forgotten. “Adeptus Mechanicus…”

Roschin understood immediately. The lion’s share of wealth generated by Volcanus was largely thanks to the array of forges and mining facilities thralled to the Martian priesthood. Roschin supposed it only natural for Talabek to now view the identity of this sky-colossus as a welcome sight.

Dozens of smaller craft split from the main vessel and dropped through the lower atmosphere. Most were boxy and ungainly, looking as they ought to be drilling into a mountain instead of flying, but Roschin saw one that swiftly outpaced the rest and dived towards the landing fields like a hunting raptor. Hard edged and angular, its armoured flanks were a rich cobalt blue with crimson edging.

“Is that Mechanicus as well?” asked Tamara, placing a protective hand across her stomach.
“I do not believe so, Lady Tamara,” replied Talabek.
“It’s Adeptus Astartes,” said Losekin.
‘Space Marines?’ said Tamara.

“A Thunderhawk, if I remember correctly,” said Losekin. “An assault craft. My great grandfather claimed to have seen such a ship in his youth and painted many years later. It hangs in the great hall of my villa.”

“An assault craft, you say?” said Roschin, now wary of the rapidly approaching aircraft’s predatory lines. His eyes were drawn to its brutal functionality, the enormous cannon on its dorsal surfaces and the sleek missiles on its wing pylons.

Losekin nodded. “A gunship,” he said, one hand instinctively curling around his pistol grip.

Roschin raised an eyebrow and said, “Are you planning on fighting these Space Marines?”

Losekin released the weapon with an embarrassed cough.

The gunship flared its wings, slowing its hurtling descent at the last moment. Shearing jetwash battered clear space for tens of metres around it and Roschin shielded his eyes as clouds of dust billowed over the platform, ruining the fabric of his pelisse and tunic. Hours spent polishing his boots wasted. Well, hours of Nuri’s time wasted.

He coughed and waved away the fog of hot grit and exhaust gasses as a ramp beneath the prow of the gunship lowered. The dust obscured the disembarking crew, but even partially occluded, Roschin felt his heart thud against his chest at their inhuman scale.

He’d heard tales of the Adeptus Astartes. Who in the Imperium had not? Each retelling magnified their deeds and might until such warriors became little more than legends of immortal gods to walk in children’s tales, mythic heroes conjured by fertile imaginations to vanquish evil.

The dust settled and Roschin now understood even the tallest of such tales fell woefully short of the truth.

One Space Marine would have been awe inspiring, but ten were marching from the gunship. Ten giants in strikingly blue armour, the heavy plates edged in crimson and the eagles upon their plastrons forged from purest gold.

They towered over a tall, elegantly willow-limbed adept in a robes of scarlet and slate-grey. Roschin had seen enough tech-priests to recognise another member of the Cult Mechanicus. The adept’s lower jaw was a ceramic death-mask of acid-etched circuitry, his elongated skull tonsured with a fringe of silver hair. Arms formed from slender latticeworks of multiple-jointed articulations were in constant motion around him like mechanised snakes. A pack of goggled servitors bearing an assortment of books and analytical devices followed a respectful distance behind him.

The adept appeared not to notice the armoured giants surrounding him and tapped a black-feathered quill stylus on a wood-framed dataslate with a pincered limb of engraved jet.

The guards at the foot of the ramp leading to the platform stood aside, understanding they could no more prevent the approach of the Space Marines than they could the approach of nightfall.

Roschin pulled himself together and stiffened his spine. The Adeptus Astartes were titans of flesh and blood, but the adept – augmented as he was – remained a man. Titans in war-struck plate were one thing, but a man he could deal with. Even one with ten Space Marines as an honour guard.

“Welcome to–” began Roschin, but the adept lifted a bronze hand, palm outward. He did not look up. His eyes, softly glowing augmetics, Roschin now saw, scanned the slate.

“Confirm that this is planet Arkhona,” said the tonsured Martian adept. “Segmentum Obscurus, Scyllan Sector, Atreyan sub-sector. Imperial Cartographae Designation Three-Nine-Nine-Seven, Lambda-Ultima Compliant.”

‘It is,’ said Roschin.

“And you are its Imperial Governor, hereditary biological scion of House Roschin, as ratified in Imperial Edicts laid down by the Adeptus Terra in the two hundred and fifty first year of the thirty-eighty millennium.”

Roschin wasn’t sure if that was a question or a statement, but chose to answer as though it was the former.

“I am Governor Tarqel Roschin, yes.”
“Most excellent,” said the adept, turning to the Space Marine nearest him.

Before he could speak, Roschin said, “And you are?”

The adept considered the question, as though his designation was of no relevance to Roschin. He paused, as though listening to an unheard voice.

“I am Adept Nyla, Secutor Tributi of the Adeptus Mechanicus,” he said, making a quarter turn to point his quill stylus at the nearest Space Marine. “And this is Sergeant Protus of the Ultramarines Chapter of Adeptus Astartes.”

“It is an honour to receive you,” said Roschin. “It has been two hundred and sixty three years since the Imperium last turned its benevolent gaze upon Arkhona. We–”

‘”Two hundred and sixty six, Terran sidereal,” corrected Nyla. “The check digit in your planet’s chronometers indicates an unverifiable deviation from Astronomican baseline.”

“Ah, well, then we have even more reason to be thankful for your return,” said Roschin.

“Enough, Nyla,” said Protus, his voice impossibly deep and sounding like rocks in a grinder. “We do not come to Arkhona to discuss technicalities, we come to prepare for war.”

“What war?” said Roschin, taking a step back at the blunt force of the Space Marine’s words. He knew the warriors of the Adeptus Astartes spoke, of course they spoke, but in the devotional holo-picts, their voices had the lofty tones of heroes, not this atonal rumble.

“You are governor of this world,” said Protus. “Yet you know nothing of the threat pouring from the Eye?”

“Threat? I know of no threat.”

“The forces of the Ruinous Powers was strong, and our bitterest foe stands poised to unleash a Black Crusade. All strength of arms must be yoked to the Imperium’s defence,” said Protus.

Roschin turned to Nyla for clarification.

The adept nodded and said, “Arkhona lies within the Secundus tithe volume of the Ocularis Terribus, a spatial anomaly more commonly known as the Eye of Terror. As laid down in Arkhona’s planetary charter, established in the two hundred and thirty second year of the thirty first millennium, you are oath-bound to supply such and material as decreed by the Departmento Munitorum whenever a threat of sufficient magnitude is declared by the reigning Sector Lord.”

Nyla finally deigned to meet Roschin’s gaze.

“Such a threat has been declared.”

The nobles of Arkhona looked up as the sky split with a thunderous roar. The bands fell silent as hundreds of ugly slabs of blackened steel dropped through the clouds on blazing columns of blue-hot fire.

Enormous bulk haulers, freighters, refinery vessels and geoformers. All stamped with the cog-toothed skull of the Adeptus Mechanicus. A fleet of exploitation, designed to strip a planet’s resources and bear them into hostile warzones. Vast troop transports dropped like falling hab-blocks, forcing entire regiments to scatter lest they be crushed beneath their inexorable descent.

“War demands its blood price,” said Protus, stepping in front of Roschin. “And Arkhona will pay its share.”

Christmas morning. I get up at 3am because I’ve been getting up at 3am lately. The house is quiet and dark, just the lights on the Christmas tree providing a warm glow. The dogs get up with me, follow me to the couch and plop themselves down next to me. They immediately go back to sleep. I’m not that fortunate. 

There are no kids home. For the first time in 24 years, there are no kids home. Sure, it’s been a while since my children were actually of an age where Christmas meant getting up at 5am and running to the tree to see what Santa left for them. But having them here Christmas morning has always meant something special. Tradition and all. 

I’m not sad. It’s not like that. I’m just lost in nostalgia, thinking about Christmas mornings past, and how those mornings have changed over time. Today will be different. I’ll put on some Christmas music while the yule log flickers on the television. Todd will get up at a more reasonable hour than I, we’ll wish each other a Merry Christmas and then he’ll change the yule log channel to something like A Very Merry COPS Christmas. 

The kids will come over later. We’ll exchange presents and have breakfast and then they’ll be on their way to their father’s house. That’s ok. They have their traditions, too. 

It’s our first Christmas in the new house. I’m happy here. We’re happy here. Things are going well and we’re content and settled. I know we’ll make new memories here, start new traditions. Like getting up at 3am and contemplating Christmases past. 

Here’s to the past, the present and the future. I feel hopeful today, like maybe wishing peace on earth and good will toward everyone isn’t such a naive thing to wish for (I know better but let me have this today).

I hope all of you who celebrate have a wonderful, joyous Christmas Day. Much love from all of us to all of you.