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by NoPoet

[40K] Rise of the Tau (part 1)

20/10/2014 in Warhammer 40K

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A Warhammer 40,000 epic by Revenant

Introduction

Time most distant, future’s zenith.
In tears, the star-sea mourns.
Isha’s children lament. All is lost to arrogance, grand designs soured by success, dreams are dust.
Shattered and done, the progeny set sail for the forever-beyond, flight borne on the tides of shame.
To dwindle and expire, forever denied.
The New Star burns too intense to douse, unchecked, untamed. Gods despair.
Tide surges, the end time is come.

Future’s path runs red as Khaine-blood, Hate-Winter rages, the portents scream their siren song. The song of Ulthanash is silent, Isha’s eye closed in slumber. Asuryan’s Shrine-light flickers and dies. The Cosmic Serpent reveals the truth and sheds his final skin. The Rebirth is denied. The Doom of Eldanesh comes to pass, the Red Moon rises.
The Rhana Dandra is come, let young and old cower before the chaos of the end.

The New Star will rise unprecedented, all the dread despoilers of the old kingdom quail beneath its fire.
Dead-King shivers on his maggot-throne as the Tide assails his walls, his kingdom lost.
Locust flees, no longer to plague creation-fields, feast denied.
Slave-puppets, once free, now lie in chains, conquered anew, rebellion’s essence bound in blood.
Long-Dead are exhumed, tombs razed. There shall be no flight, no peace in death. Their gods shall tremble.
Damned Shores become bastion as Dark Souls return. Exodus-flight before the rising swell. Denizens of Under-Kingdom cower behind its gates as the Tide surges.
Shame-Kin be damned in the bowels of the Webway, vermin scuttling in filth and terror, afraid of the ragescream storm above. Let them gather souls in shame and desperate haste, past sins quail as the All-Thirst is quenched. The brightest hope may lie amongst the darkest of shadow, the Learned Mongrel-Soul exhumed to see a destiny fulfilled.
Many Mighty Kings shall offer their swords to the Tide. None shall escape. None shall escape.

Skeins divided, hope defiant. Light and darkness heed, else collide and be damned. Fractured is as death, no other path leads to hope.
Existence-Tree be razed to its roots, bitter leaves cleansed. Then can hope’s light flicker. All forgotten to the core of creation. Then can hope’s flame catch the breeze.
Let the Lost Princes of the Young gather, shoulder to shoulder they alone may weather the Hate-Winter’s wrath.
Bright Hope’s flame still burns deep in the shadows of the Dead Land, too powerful to extinguish forever. Soul Beacon, the Horn of Kurnous will sound the call to war. They shall gather, let but some of their names be known.
The Revenant. The First-And-Ever Lords of War. The Lost Princes. The Wrathful Masters. The Reapers of Light. The Stolen Giant. The Prophet. The Last Avenger. The Entombed Ancient. The Oracle. The Blazing Rebel.
All these names and more shall stand ready as the Rhana Dandra dawns and the light of the Final Day casts her glow upon armour and weapon.

Maelstrom, life and death gather for war, old and young collide beneath the Red Moon. Origin revealed, too sour a taste to accept.
It matters not, what is, is.
Gods splintered reform in deed to counter the twilight. The children rise, menagerie gather in bitter winds of division’s death. Choice is murdered for all time, no longer sustainable in revealed irrelevance.
Diversity is power, the only power left unconsumed. Youth’s vigour an appetite insatiable above all else, desperation will rule the firmament. There can be no more old-thought. Every shadow will shift, writhe with hidden stirring. Life’s last breath must be deep.

Let them stand on the Final Shore as one, faces turned to the Tide. I have seen future’s zenith. I have seen crux and apex. Past, present and future united. Enmity is not survival. History rewritten at its very core, primeval puzzle complete.
One must tell the tale. Paths cannot be altered, only destinations revealed.
Unity. When the ash-wake clears, no more division, only Unity.
The Great Unity will prevail.

–Translation of ancient eldar tablet found on Cadia. Artefact thought to be the oldest example of eldar archaeology yet discovered.–

#

RISE OF THE TAU.

‘It is not the manifest destiny of man to rule, but to lead.’

Attributed to Pontifex Archabus Venn, executed heretic, 553.M39

Prologue

+++Location…Leonosis System.+++
+++The Protea Wash.+++
+++Date…666.M42.+++

He opened his eyes slowly and a wave of nausea hit him like a wall. He dry-retched, his lungs burning, his body aching.
What in Guilliman’s name was happening here?

He sat up, feeling his every muscle burning, his every nerve screaming. His hearts hammered in his chest, shocked into a sudden flurry of hyperactivity. His head pounded, aching with a pain so sharp, so raw he could almost hear it.
Stasis-dulled, his senses fought to re-establish themselves. His eyes fought to cut through the grey fog swimming before them. His ears struggled to dispel the constant pounding of his own pulses…
Something was wrong.

He lifted his head, shuddering as muscles that had lain dormant for centuries protested. The light of the small chamber was already starting to grow brighter, the shapes about him sharpening, taking form. He turned his head and his newfound breath was stolen once more.

The empty eye sockets stared back lifelessly, two pools of shadow set into a face of mummified skin.
‘Artemon…’ He whispered, his ragged voice barely more than a dry croak.
Captain Artemon was dead. He had been for a long time.

He released the safety harness with shaking hands and pushed himself into an upright position, his atrophied muscles protesting painfully. Memories began to come flooding back, cutting through the thick viscous soup of his addled mind.
The Eldar. Guilliman’s Wrath. The loss…

He dispelled the memories of what had passed and glanced around the cramped hold of the escape pod, feeling his scarred face harden, his eyes narrowing as he looked upon the prone bodies of the command squad. Even here, safe from the predations of the insidious and despicable aliens, the loss had continued.

Captain Artemon had not been the only fatality here. Of the original ten survivors, five were now little more than ceramite-encased cadavers, sitting in darkened and long-dried pools of their own body matter.
He himself had led the Litany of Preservation as they had all entered the state of deanimation. How could it be that half of them were now dead? How could the process have failed so badly?
As Chaplain, it would be up to him to ensure the souls of these warriors joined the immortal Emperor. There would be time enough for this later. For now, he had to see which of his brothers still lived.

He made to stand, grateful of the enhancing influence of his artificer armour. Without the aid of its powerful servo motors he imagined he would find movement near impossible, given how wasted he felt.
The activation of the sus-an membrane was always a risky procedure, yet they had had little choice. The pod had no stasis capability and the Leonosis system was a veritable stellar wasteland, not far from the hub of the galaxy’s core. Given the strange phenomenon that occurred here and the desolation of the region itself, a rescue could take years.
None of us could have survived that long without sustenance, he told himself again, kneeling beside brother Laenar, the company’s Techmarine.
That was when the realisation hit.

He hauled himself up onto his feet, his vast form wavering. A Marine could not consciously revive himself from this state. Who had woken him?

Almost as if in answer to this question, the escape hatch of the pod rumbled open, gears squealing as it retracted. He spun on his heel and tore his crozius from its belt holster, activating the ancient weapon’s power field with a swift flick of the thumb.

‘Ah, you are awake at last! Thrungi’s beard, I thought I’d never get it!’

He watched with amazement as something short and humanoid stepped through the open hatch, covered from head to toe in a filthy, oil-stained pressure suit. A mess of pipes spread out from the creature’s domed helmet, its clouded crimson visor glowing weakly beneath the pale light.
It stopped in the doorway and placed its fists on its hips, shaking its head as it did so.
‘You stalk-legs sure know how to sleep. Some of you a little too well by the looks of things.’

Chaplain Daelo Codian took a single laboured step forward, the head of the crozius out before him, the eyes of his skeletal helm glowing.
‘You dare to mock the honoured dead? I will…’
‘Ah, put that down.’ The squat creature snapped, waving his hand dismissively. He waddled further into the small chamber and removed his helmet, releasing the pressure seals with a hiss of escaping steam. A shock of bright hair spilled from the helmet, matted and twisted by years of grime.
‘Besides, Astarte or no, in your condition I would have you on your **** in the blink of an eye.’

He lowered his hand as he looked upon the face of the alien for the first time. A single eye stared back, glowing with all the intensity of the pulsing augmetic opposing it. Surprisingly human features met his gaze and he found himself almost too stunned to speak.
‘What…what are you?’

The creature gave a gruff laugh and shook his head, the long orange braids of his beard and scalp lock sweeping his barrelled chest and shoulders.
‘What am I? I am your salvation, Imperial. You should thank the ancestors that it was I and not the Nicassar who found you floating out there amongst the crud of the Wash. You owe your life to me.’

With that the flame-haired humanoid shuffled over to where the Techmarine lay and began to mutter quiet but guttural obscenities under his breath, his stubby hands finding the long cables snaking into the faded leather headrest of the chair.
Codian simply looked on in astonishment, his clouded mind reeling. The small man glanced up from his labours a moment later, emitting a long, frustrated sigh.
‘If you can do anything then I suggest you try. I have no idea how I managed to wake you. I am having little success with the others.’
‘I can wake them.’ He answered, the weapon in his hand deactivating with a decreasing whine. The small man smiled and nodded his head.
‘Good. The Imperials will pay well for five strong warriors.’

Codian stepped forward and knelt before the Marine once more, deactivating his crozius and placing back in its holster. He removed his helmet and took a deep breath. The air was bitter, recycled and stale. He could taste oil and rust.
‘Pay? What do you mean by that?’ He asked, placing a hand upon the warrior’s forehead. The small man simply gave a sharp, nasal laugh and shook his head.

The Chaplain leaned forward and began to whisper quietly, his eyes closing. He continued this for several minutes until the first noticeable breath passed the Marine’s lips.
The bewildered being behind him raised his eyebrows and huffed beneath his breath.
‘So that’s how you do it? You talk to them. Bloody marvellous!’ He exclaimed, shaking his head once more.

Codian made to rise and stepped back as the warrior began to stir, in order to give him space enough to take in his surroundings. He knew only too well that even the most level-minded Marine could struggle to adjust to reanimation.
‘Very wise.’ His new companion observed, folding his short arms across his chest. ‘I see you have done this before.’

He exhaled slowly and turned to look at the creature, finding his tolerance levels slowly receding. The alien met his gaze without fear or apprehension, his augmetic eye twinkling.
‘I have.’ He answered. ‘And I am grateful for your assistance in rescuing us. Now, I will awaken each of the survivors and then you will take us back to Imperial space. I will ensure that you enter and leave unharmed.’

The small man sniggered as he heard this, emitting a sound not unlike the choking of some mange-ridden canine.
‘I see.’ He chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. ‘That is…very kind of you. And of course, you can ensure that we actually reach Imperial space unharmed, I take it? You know each and every safe back route and blockade gap from here to your system, yes? I suppose you are renowned experts in evading the Unity.’

Codian frowned and shook his head, turning to face the stirring Techmarine once more. Perhaps it was the effects of the reanimation, but the creature seemed to be making no sense at all.
Slowly, eyes drifting open, the warrior began to rise.

‘Brother Laenar.’ The Chaplain uttered, bowing his head as the crimson-armoured soldier rose. Laenar blinked and glanced about him, his eyes wide with the effort of use.
‘What…what happened to us? The fleet..?’
‘The fleet is gone, Laenar. Our brothers must have thought us lost. We were picked up by this…’
He turned and presented the short individual behind him.
‘Thurgus Grungi. My name is Thurgus Grungi, Imperial.’

Laenar’s eyes narrowed as he looked upon their saviour, a snarl of contempt curling his scarred lip.
‘Demiurg.’

Codian threw himself around and bunched his fists, anger flaring in his eyes. Grungi remained steadfast, his arms still folded. Despite the palpable anger of the huge warrior he never even flinched.
‘That’s right. You seem rattled, Imperial. I would suggest rest, but then again I would say that you have had more than enough of that.’
‘Hold your tongue, xenos! If you thin…’
‘Ah, get over yourself, Imperial. You should count yourselves lucky to be in my presence. If I hadn’t found you here then you could have drifted back into the warp and been lost for an eternity.’

Laenar was on his feet and standing beside the Chaplain, the same expression of revulsion written across his face.
‘Where are we, Demiurg? Are we still in the Ultramar system?’
Grungi’s smile seemed to fade slightly. He glanced between the two soldiers, a look of unsure bemusement creeping across his ruddy features.
‘Gods, no. Not even nearly, and I very much doubt that you’d be alive if you were. This is the Galactic Hub, Imperials. The Wash has carried you a long way from home.’

The silence he was met with spoke volumes. Codian and Laenar simply stared back, their expressions unchanging.
‘The Protea Wash.’ He continued, spreading his arms. ‘One of the largest and most stable warp drifts in the galaxy. Whatever its scoops up it carries here eventually. I have scavenged these tides for many years. I have to say though, this is the first time the wash has ever given up the living.’

Codian exhaled and turned to look at Laenar. By now his mind was beginning to clear and had begun to process the information he had gleaned so far.
‘You said that the Imperium would pay well for our return. What did you mean by that?’
‘Exactly what I said. How else do you think I make my living now? I am the only Demiurg who knows of this place. Well, the only one left alive. I have been collecting Imperial salvage now for many years. The Wash is by far the best source for this. Even the Tau don’t much bother with the Hub.’
‘And why would they?’ Laenar continued. ‘You make little sense, alien. Speaking of which, how is it that you claim to ‘trade’ with the Imperium. Don’t your kind serve the Tau?’

Grungi froze, a look of utter disbelief sliding over his face. His skin seemed to take on a bright crimson glow all at once, as if he had been slapped.
‘Imperial, I will ignore that comment but once, given your current state. Say that again and I will peel you from your armour and liquefy you.
Let me make something clear. If this had been a Tau vessel I would have dragged it on board and murdered you all without thought. I hate Tau. To hunt and slay them is my life’s work.’
‘But you are Demiurg.’ Laenar continued, unsatisfied and unafraid of the alien’s threats. ‘I thought the Demiurg were part of the Tau empire.’
‘Gods, Imperial! Has the space sickness taken your mind? Don’t tell me you have been drifting through the warp for the last five centuries!’
‘Six and a half.’

Grungi fell silent. Codian turned slowly as he heard this to find Laenar standing quietly, his face deathly pale. He continued to stare at the dust-laden deck, his augmetic eye pulsing rhythmically.
‘666.M42. That is the date as specified by my internal chronometer. There is no malfunction, Chaplain. We have been lost for six and a half centuries.’

‘Ah.’ Grungi uttered, scratching his head. ‘Then perhaps it would be better if you returned to the warp. You would be safer there. This galaxy belongs to the Tau.’

#

PART ONE.

‘Ridiculous!’
Grungi shrugged.
‘I agree. It is, however, the truth. Those treacherous grey-skinned parasites all but run this galaxy now, and no one seems to be doing a great deal about it.
As more and more empires fall to their knees before the damned Tau the hope of ultimate victory against them diminishes. Much has changed here in the time you have slumbered.’
‘And what of the Imperium? The warriors of the Emperor would never bow down to the Tau.’ Codian asked, his eyes wide with troubled anticipation.
‘Your Imperium survives still, human. It would seem that your Emperor does not wish hand over his rule just yet. Be warned though, the realms of man are not what they once were.’

Codian opened his mouth in order to continue the conversation when a loud squeal began to echo through the space beyond the hatch, causing the compact alien to sigh and roll his eye. He turned to leave, muttering under his breath as he did so.
‘Wait. We must learn more.’
‘Then you will have to follow me, Imperial. Some things are more important than answering questions.’
‘Go.’ Laenar uttered. ‘I will tend to the others.’
The Chaplain nodded his head and turned to follow the departing figure, sweeping his black cloak aside.

+++

Each ceramite-weighted footfall echoed through the endless spaces about him. The deck beneath his feet hummed with the deep rumble of the ship’s mighty engines, a dull resonance that seemed to perpetuate endlessly.
Pipes and conduits snaked from the floors and the walls wherever he looked, some rusting away, others slick with glistening grime.
‘Where are we going?’
‘Ah, questions! More damned questions!’ Grungi answered, throwing his hands in the air. ‘it is about time that I asked some questions of my own.’
He lifted his head to look upon the warrior.
‘You have yet to introduce yourself, marine.’
‘My name is Codian. I am an Ultramarine Chaplain.’ He answered sullenly and after a lengthy pause. Such formality disquieted him, especially when in the presence of an alien.

‘Well Codian, it seems that something has come up. Don’t ask me what as I do not commune with the ancestors.
Now, I believe you have questions. Try to keep them short and to the point as I am not in the mood to be giving a sermon.’
‘Very well.’

He glanced down at the curious alien. Despite the fact that he towered over him, this Grungi seemed almost nonchalant to his presence. He found himself admiring the small creature’s spirit.
‘You say we are at the centre of the galaxy, brought here by the Wash. How did this happen?’
‘Hmm. Well, think of the Protea Wash as a strong current in the warp. From time to time it enters and exits realspace, sweeping up space debris as it goes.
The trick is to know when and where it spits the crud out, see? Think of the Wash as a shifting scrap pile. I have recovered many treasures in my years collecting salvage.’
‘And the Imperials pay you to do this?’
‘In a fashion. Imperials will pay for technologies and weaponry that can be restored for use against the Tau. War is a greedy thing, Codian. It consumes resources ravenously.’

His eyes narrowed as he heard this. He could not bring himself to imagine an Imperium that bartered with aliens, especially for its own property.

‘You say that the Tau hold dominion over this galaxy. I simply cannot accept that. The Imperium is simply too vast and powerful to allow that. There are many empires and races that would never have allowed such an expansion.’

Grungi sighed and shook his head, throwing him a sideways glance.
‘Grindel’s ****! The galaxy is in a state of total war, Marine. You either fight for the Tau or against them. Many of the most powerful races opposed the expansion of the Great Unity. All have so far failed.
Your Imperium is on its knees, the hands of the Tau around its throat. What remains of your once mighty fleets and vast armies are now clustered around the Segmentum Solar, fighting tooth and nail to defend your Emperor’s throne.’

Codian felt his chest tighten as he heard this. For the first time since he could remember, he felt an unfamiliar emotion stirring deep within his heart.
Fear.
‘What of Ultramar?’ He whispered, hardly able to bring himself to ask the question.

Grungi slowed a little, his single eye narrowing as he turned to face the towering Marine.
‘Hmm. Ultramar…was the last to fall.’ He answered after a lengthy pause. ‘Of all the outer systems of the Imperium, Ultramar fought the longest and the hardest. The Great Unity expended many, many lives conquering the Ultima Segmentum.
Your Calgar is a mighty warrior, Codian. He refused to bow to the Tau for centuries and it was only the impending advance upon Terra that saw him forced to abandon the system. He is an honourable and courageous warrior, and he holds a grudge well.’
‘Mighty Calgar still lives?’
‘As far as I am aware. I have heard tell that he wears the armour of the ancients now, as do those most celebrated amongst your kind. Even in death he refuses to die. His rancour does him credit.’

The duo turned a corner sharply, the sudden shift in direction throwing him off for a moment. He ducked his head as they passed beneath another doorway, the alien scaling of the craft far less than accommodating.

‘Your kind are hunted with the utmost vigour.’ The Demiurg continued, slamming his fist into the access panel beside him. The door next to it opened with a serpentine hiss and they passed through, never once slowing their pace. Codian found he had to almost bend double to enter the small room.

‘You and your brethren are a dying breed. The Tau deplore those who cannot be swayed to their cause. They hate your kind, Codian, and they wish for nothing more than to see you exterminated. As I remember, the Astarte homeworlds were sought out and cleansed, one by one. Your kind are few now, and yet they still fight the expansion of the Great Unity.’
‘Cleansed?’
‘Yes. As the Demiurg were. I am the last of my kind, at least as far as I know. I seek only a honourable death at the hands of the Tau.’

The two figures slowed as they approached a huge bank of augurs and screens, each one alive with activity. Grungi stepped forward, bathed in the light of the multitudinous screens.
‘Hmm. Perhaps I will find this death sooner than I had anticipated. I am about to alter our course, human. I will show you what it is you face here.’
Codian was about to ask what he meant by that when he found himself cut off by the mournful wail of an alarm system.
‘Gods! What is it now?’ The Demiurg snapped, glancing about him at the clustered screens.
‘Are we under attack?’
‘The holding bay.’ He answered, finishing his course alterations as fast as he was able to do so. ‘And I suggest we make haste.’

+++

Codian barrelled through the hatch to be met with a scene of utter horror. Epistolary Kreusus was awake and on his feet, roaring and screaming like a madman. His eyes were two shining balls of bright azure fire, his outstretched hands aflame with the same ethereal energies. Pulsing lightning arced around the hold of the small vessel, igniting systems and melting whatever it touched.
Laenar was on his back beneath the crazed Librarian, shaking like a terrified child as his augmetic systems shuddered and convulsed, sparks flashing across his prone form.
Apothecary Umbras and brother Berolinus were also awake now, fighting to bring down the flailing psyker and bring his rampage to a halt.

‘Kreusus! Brother, can you hear me?’
It was no good. His mind was gone, ravaged by the centuries of slumber. He ducked as a whickering flash of energy passed by overhead, missing him by inches.
He had seen it before. The risks associated with the activation of the sus-an membrane were great for psykers. Their bodies would shut down but sometimes their minds would not, and so they would be left to wander, awaiting the revival of their bodies.
Kreusus had been all but conscious for over six centuries, and what he had seen in the warp had driven him utterly insane.

He launched himself forward and wrapped his arms around the warrior’s legs, sending both of them crashing into the bulkhead. It was to do little good. He felt himself lifted up and hurled through the air by the Librarian’s superhuman strength, his body aflame with burning pain. Kreusus continued to roar and thrash, bellowing the same thing over and over again.
‘Lost! We are lost! We are lost! We are all l…’

He glanced up through the haze of pain to see Grungi standing beside him, his teeth bared.
‘It must be done, Codian. Your Ancestor Lord is beyond help.’

Before he could protest the Grungi stepped forward and something dark and heavy hit the deck. It was his own augmetic fist, thick chain rattling as it unfurled behind it. The Demiurg lifted the chain and began to twirl it around his head. Bright energies burst across its length and the fist became a thrumming, swirling ball of energy, casting a crimson hue over the small alien and the entire chamber of the small craft.

Codian looked on in horror as the alien bounded forward and took the Librarian’s head from his shoulders with a single blow, sending the extremity spinning away with a sickening thud. The body of Kreusus fell forward, bright energy pouring from its torn neck.
It was over in seconds

Codian felt his rage building inside him. He made to rise and his hand found his crozius, the winged skull atop it flaring with energy as it ignited. A blur of movement and a burst of energy saw the weapon knocked from his grasp to spin away across the hold, sparks raining through the air before his face.
‘Don’t be a fool! He was beyond help! The mind sickness had taken him!’

Berolinus and Umbras rose behind the squat killer, their fists bunched and their eyes glowing with hatred. Chest heaving, Codian shook his head slowly.
The Demiurg was right. He knew only too well that Kreusus could not have been saved. The insane Epistolary would have torn them all to pieces in his madness.
‘He…he could not have been helped.’ Umbras admitted, shaking his head. ‘Without the facilities of the Chapter to hand we would not have been able to help him.’

In the long moments of silence that followed, the entire ship seemed to lurch and sway around them, a long, resonating groan echoing through the vast spaces beyond. Laenar rose to his feet to stand beside the others as the lights of the small escape vessel began to flicker above them.
There was no mistaking it. the ship had altered its course.

‘Mourn your brother if you must. I know how you feel. The Tau have taken everything from me. They took my homeworld from me. They took my family and my Brotherhood. They took my crew of the Grudgebearer.’

The others watched in silence as the cooling fist retracted, the greased chain sinking back into his arm until the cooling fist locked into place once again.
‘They even took my hand. They betrayed the Demiurg and I vowed to give my life hunting them down and destroying them.’
He turned to Codian, the fingers of his weapon-hand flexing.
‘You can ask me a thousand questions and never be satisfied with the answers, human. Better that I show you what it is you face here. Let me show you what has become of the Tau. Who knows, we may even kill a few along the way.’
End of part 1

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by NoPoet

[40K] World Eaters part 2

20/10/2014 in Warhammer 40K

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A Warhammer 40,000 story by LoneLictor

Chapter Two
One Of My Turns

Beneath the ironclad boots of Lord Kaalek of the World Eaters 3rd Company, corpses squelched.

Many of Lord Kaalek’s brethren had seldom put much thought in their daemonic allegiances. They just saw Chaos as a means to an end; the Pleasure God would empower them to indulge every whim and desire, while the Blood God would empower them to strike down their enemies with inhuman strength. The Rot Lord and the Change Lord would empower them to truly live, driving them to greater and greater heights. These Astartes, which were especially prevelant among the Undivided Legions, rarely considered the perspective and thoughts of the Gods. Many didn’t believe the Gods to be sentient at all, viewing them as forces of nature. “The warp”, they called it, not Chaos. No, just “the warp”. Even those who acknowledged the Gods referred to them by mortal names with shocking disrespect. “Khorne,” they said, as if a single syllable could express all that the Blood God was.

Kaalek was not one of these Astartes. When the Blood God had first whispered to the World Eaters, Kaalek hadn’t immediately consigned himself to damnation. He refused to act as mindlessly as the men under his command did, allying themselves with Chaos without even the slightest understanding of what it was. Kaalek had required persuasion.

Chaossss…. the daemon had drawled, snorting in disgust at the word. Mortal terms were so barbaric. Is the expression of… emotion. Yesssss, pure emotion. You, Kaalek, will be unbound by order. Free from the physical laws that constrict your realm. Free from unjust rule. Free from the Anathema’s suffocating light. That is Chaos. And you, Kaalek, are wrathful. Your realm has wronged you greatly, and the Anathema has held you back from vengeance. Order has held you back, forcing you to swallow your indignation, forcing you to swallow your rage. No longer.

A body, its torn and bloodied flesh caked with dust, moaned beneath Kaalek. It was too disfigured to identify its gender, but the World Eater suspected it was male. Most Guardsmen were. The Imperium preferred males for almost all occupations, save those related to child-rearing. Gender was such an unpleasant and alien subject to Kaalek. The sole purpose of gender was sexuality, which was pleasurable and therefore intolerable. Through daemonic manipulation and ritual mutilation, the World Eaters had been freed from it. They would not allow themselves to be ruled by lust.

Kaalek rested his foot on the moaning body. He shifted his weight, and the Guardsmen beneath him made a wet crunching sound. Reaching down, he grabbed the Guardsmen by the scalp and tore its head free from its broken body. A mortal could survive for a few scant seconds following decapitation. Kaalek intended to make these seconds count. He held up the head so that its last sight would be him. His sloped, canine helmet. His tusks of dry, dead bone. His narrow eyes, burning with daemonic flame. Kaalek wanted this mortal to know who had claimed his skull.

He made his hand into a clenched fist, and his power fist mimicked the motion. The mortal’s head ceased to exist.

With some irritation, he noted that twelve World Eaters were requesting to open vox-channels with him. Their names, alongside their official pre-betrayal ranks, were blinking on his head’s-up-display. He neglected the first three requests, seeing as they were not from his Chosen. Whatever they had to say, he had no interest in it. In the heat of battle, Kaalek only had time to communicate with the most skilled and most essential Astartes, his Champions, Pack-Leaders and Lieutenants. The only names of note he saw were those of Sergeant Nulr and Third Slaughterprince Maliki. The way Maliki spoke, always gagging and choking on something he could never quite fish out of his throat, irritated Kaalek. He chose to answer Nulr’s request.

“Lord,” said Nulr. The Sergeant’s voice reminded him of the daemon that had swayed him to Chaos. He regretted opening the channel already. “My squad is atop a Hellhound, peeling back its metal flesh.”

“So?” Kaalek said.

“It heads in your direction.”

“How close is it?”

The Hellhound came roaring over a hill, around a half dozen Berzerkers clinging to its haul. An Inferno-Cannon turret was rotating to face them, belching smoke and flame like a wyrm of old. Its treads, which whirred and clicked angrily at the damage they’d sustained, left the ground for a fleeting moment, revealing the Hellhound’s scarred underbelly. It’d clearly run over a landmine; the silver-grey metal had been scorched charcoal black. The darkest patch was within a web of cracks where the landmine had detonated, just barely failing to penetrate the haul. The Hellhound hit the ground hard, kicking up a storm of dust. Its treads sunk into the debris, wrenching it to an almost-but-not-quite halt. One of the Berzerkers was flung before the tank. He hit a beam of adamantium feet first, shattering both his ankles. Already the Hellhound was picking up speed. The Berzerker was slashing his gore choked chain-ax haphazardly in one last act of petty defiance. The tank reached him and his ax clattered against it, as its treads bared down on him with, crushing him beneath several tons of steel. His armor caved in and his bones followed shortly.

“Fairly close,” answered Nulr. The Sergeant’s dry sense of humor irritated Kaalek. He cut the vox connection.

Its Inferno Cannon rotated to face him, and Kaalek realized that the Hellhound was now hunting him. The tank was already swarming with Berzerkers and on the verge of breaking down, yet its crazed driver was still intent on bringing the God-Emperor’s retribution to His enemies. Kaalek could’ve run; the Hellhound was fairly distant from him and, in its crippled state, was incapable of any difficult maneuvers. If he had just hidden behind a support beam or some other fairly large piece of debris, it would’ve sped straight past him.

Kaalek locked the joints and servos of his legs. He extended his power-fist as though he were punching the air, and then locked its servos too. The fist’s energy fields came to life, sparking and cracking with killing energy. Daemonic faces with leering maws and too many teeth faded into and out of existence by the thousands on the fist’s crackling energy sheath. They laughed and screamed hysterically, forming a terrible chorus.

He saw the Hellhound, still roaring towards him. Its Inferno Cannon turret seemed to be quaking. It could have just been the tank falling apart. It also could be the driver’s hands quaking on the turret’s controls, as he steeled himself for the impact. Kaalek showed no such fear; Astartes were not made for it.

The Hellhound broke against him.

He saw light, like the sun shining hazily through a shroud of smog-grey clouds. The clouds began to part, and Kaalek saw what they had been hiding. Rays of brilliant light burned into him, eroding him away into nothing. He opened his mouth to scream but his throat was already turning to dust. Where the sun should’ve been there was instead a great canker sore in the sky, swarming with maggots.

Here was a realm where the daemons that buzzed about his fist were all too real. They had become tangible, something that you could reach out and touch. Something that could reach out and touch you. Seemingly billions of them formed into one inescapable mass, which swept over Kaalek in a burning tide. Black smoke rose from his wounds and the creatures engorged themselves on it. He saw others like him, other souls freed from their prisons of flesh. Some were the Guardsmen he’d slain, now being killed a second time. With mouths, pincers and other grotesque appendages, the daemons devoured them, competing with one-another for the precious soul morsels. Kaalek, and the Berzerkers who had died in the crash alongside him seemed brighter than the Guardsmen. Ten thousand years of daemonic exposure had already brought them close to the Empyrean, entwining their flesh with it. Their icons of the Blood God, emblazoned onto their armor and branded into their flesh, glowed brightly here.

Hunched crimson beings, with slanted reptilian faces and cold eyes, seemed to have universal claim to their souls. Other daemons, for whatever reason, gave the Berzerkers a wide berth. Kaalek tried to resist the crimson things, but he couldn’t. Already several of his comrades had met their demise, the things having chosen to eat their faces first. They ate messily, always chewing with their mouths open so that scraps of gore were always falling out. The way they looked at him… it was the way he looked at Guardsmen.

Now Kaalek could scream.

They dragged Kaalek free from the smoldering wreckage. As they pulled him, he seemed to slough off his broken armor and then his flesh. His skinless, eyeless face was agape in a scream. Where there should’ve had a mouth instead there was a bloody tear in his head, one with blackened teeth and what used to be a tongue.

Erezak remembered little. He had been wrestling a grenade away from a warrior, because he wanted to live. There were still empires to be laid low, worlds to be burned and skulls to be claimed. The Blood God had promised him the galaxy, and he would not be denied it.

Kaalek awoke to darkness.

He couldn’t see, but he could feel the bundles of segmented cabling that pressed against his eye sockets. Whenever he shifted his head, it felt like his eyes were crawling with tiny black ants. He imagined them hiding beneath his eyelids and in his eyelashes, burrowing into the fleshy pink corners of his eye sockets. Sometimes his eyes felt unbearably hot and wet, like they were welling with tears, which he hoped would flush the ants away. When this didn’t work he would struggle against his metal coffin, screaming soundlessly and reach up with his misshapen stump limbs as though they had any hope of reaching his face, let alone somehow getting the ants out. The servo-harness around his neck and the steel rod locking into the back of his head prevented him from moving too much.

He couldn’t hear either. Kaalek wasn’t entirely sure if he even had ears anymore. The back of his head was numb. It didn’t itch like his eye sockets, or even ache like his phantom limbs. Maybe the back of his head had been scorched away, when the adamantium hood of his armor had begun to slouch under the heat. Maybe molten adamantium had seeped into the pores of his flesh. Sometimes Kaalek heard muted voices, voices that spoke in regal, clipped Terran accents. They were auditory hallucination, he told himself. Nothing more. He didn’t like how clinical and detached the voices sounded.

He could smell though. His coffin stank of ammonia and nutrient rich ooze long turned foetid. If he forgot to breathe through his mouth the stench would make him feel like his coffin was tottering, stuck on the verge of falling over. Sometimes he smelled blood. Kaalek lived for those fleeting moments, when the coffin stench was drowned out by sweet blood. In those moments he could relive his past triumphs and almost forget where he was now. Sensation is anathema to the Blood God he recalled. After glimpsing into the Empyrean, Kaalek cared little for the Blood God’s wishes.

To keep himself distracted, he told himself stories. Once upon a time there was a boy named Kaalek. He grew up on Terra as a gutterhound, which is Imperial slang for an impoverished child ganger. Kaalek was big and strong, so he was recruited into the World Eaters Legion. He had to go through trials, along with other gutterhounds to become a Legionnaire. He tried really hard, and he won. The Red Angel, Primarch of the World Eaters, blessed be his name, decreed that all Legionnaires will have anger implants. Kaalek got anger implants, and they made him bigger and stronger. The Emperor was mean to the Red Angel, so the World Eaters turned away from the Imperium. They worshiped the Blood God, because he was like them but even bigger and even stronger. Kaalek lived happily ever after. The end.

The muted voices were talking again. Kaalek didn’t want to hear them; he didn’t want to go crazy. Here, in this wretched and crippled state, his mind was the only thing he had left. He couldn’t afford to lose it.

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Kaalek. He grew up and became a Traitor Legionnaire. He was a World Eaters Captain, leading over ten companies, each one containing one hundred men. After Skalathrax, the World Eaters didn’t have clear ranks anymore. Kaalek called himself a Lord, and he ruled over three thousand men. But he couldn’t recruit like the Black Legion, and his numbers dwindled. The Black Legion took over him and took away his freedom. They made him into a slave. When his men failed, they blamed him. When his men succeeded, they took responsibility for the success. Kaalek kept fighting though, because fighting was all he had left. And then-

His hand itched. He knew that he didn’t have hands anymore, but that didn’t help. If he still had that hand, he would’ve cut it off just to rid himself of that infernal itching.

Once upon a time, there was a little freak named Kaalek. He was an idiot, so he suffered and suffered and suffered. First the Emperor, then his Primarch, then the Warmaster and then his God abused and degraded him until there was nothing left of him. They wore the proud Kaalek, Lord of the World Eaters 3rd Company, down to a little nub.

It was impossible to keep track of the passage of time. His new Dreadnought body had been deactivated since his entombment. No one had bothered to turn it on. Perhaps they didn’t want Kaalek to know what was going on. Perhaps they were afraid of him in his new glorious body. Without the Dreadnought’s chronometer, he couldn’t tell how long he’d been here. Perhaps he had been waiting in here for years. Perhaps it had only been a few minutes of sensory deprivation, and that was all it took to drive him insane.

Once upon a time there was a glorious Traitor Legionnaire, Lord Kaalek of the World Eaters 3rd Company. He was laid low in combat and entombed by his so-called allies. Rather than falling victim to despair, he vowed revenge. His new body would be christened with the blood of his enemies, and his name would once again be feared.

That was a story Kaalek could appreciate.
As ashamed as he was to admit it, Kaalek didn’t care about blood anymore. All he wanted now was human contact. No, not human contact. Sentient contact. He just wanted to talk to something, anything. He’d read somewhere that humans were social animals. They were meant to live and die together. Not alone, like this.

He tried to kill himself multiple times, by holding his breath. It never worked.

“Captain Eqeurius of the 8th is dead,” said his former comrade, Captain Skchalick of the 1st. He wore the old colors of the World Eaters, pure white and a soft blue. His helmet was off, showing a normal face, one with a sharp jawline and piercing blue human eyes. Over the next ten thousand years, Captain Skchalick’s handsome features would gradually be perverted into a snarling daemon mask., one with gnawing mouths for eyesockets and and a crown of rotted horns. “He was slain leading the charge at Ghhivh. He died like a true Astartes should.”

“Who will take his place?” asked Captain Tezz’ract of the 7th. In thirty eight years Tezz’ract would be slain at the walls of the Imperial Palace, howling challenges to the besieged loyalists within. They would mount his head on a pike in an attempt to ward off the World Eaters, but this would only spur them to further violence.

“It will be Kharn,” Captain Dedirek of the 5th said. The others glared at him. In four years Didirek would be flayed alive during the Night of Skins, where the World Eaters cemented their loyalty to the Blood God. “I mean, Sergeant Kharn,” Dedirek corrected. “Apologies for my disrespect.” Captain Skchalick would later wear Captain Dedirek’s tanned flesh as a cloak.

“Sergeant Kharn is a mediocre swordsman and an even worse Sergeant. I simply don’t understand how the Red Angel sees him as Captain material,” said Captain Risus of the 9th. In ten thousand years, when the 13th Black Crusade raged and the galaxy was in flames, he would lead the largest free World Eaters warband, lording over twelve thousand frothing Berzerkers with an iron fist. He would still hate Kharn.

“Agreed,” Captain Kaalek of the 3rd said. In ten thousand years he would be entombed within a Dreadnought following the disastrous Assault on Kyros, where his warband was nearly destroyed. His Lordship would be usurped by Qul, a Berzerker of little note who was initially thought slain in the combat.

Kaalek woke up screaming. His throat burned. He tasted blood with what was left of his tongue. When they finally released him into combat, it would be glorious. He imagined charging into enemy lines with suicidal bravery. The enemy rounds would blow open his Dreadnought body, and it would look like flowers with steel petals were blooming on his chest. Death would be a release at this point.

No, death wouldn’t be enough. He told himself the story again. Once upon a time there was a glorious Traitor Legionnaire, Lord Kaalek of the World Eaters 3rd Company. He was laid low in combat and entombed by his so-called allies. Rather than falling victim to despair, he vowed revenge. His new body would be christened with the blood of his enemies, and his name would once again be feared. Revenge came first, then death.

“The meaning of anything I say will be lost on you,” said Kaalek. “You are a naive mortal, one who knows nothing of warfare.”

“Then enlighten me,” said the remembrancer, whose name escaped Kaalek. She seemed fearless, like an Astartes. Kaalek could respect that about her, but nothing else. She was a mortal, and an especially frail one at that. Kaalek imagined it would take little effort to snap her bones.

Kaalek snorted. “No. Find someone else to annoy, mortal. Perhaps Captain Kharn. That glory hound seems like the type who would enjoy answering your incessant questions.”

“Captain Kharn of the 8th slew the last remembrancer to speak with him.”

“Good for him. He’s finally starting to act like a World Eater.”

“And what do you mean by that?” On the surface she was calm, but Kaalek could taste her fear. Her pheromones reeked of it. At that moment, Kaalek was consumed by hatred. He couldn’t stand the way she presented herself, her faux courage and her droning voice.

“It means,” said Kaalek, slow and deliberate. His eyes burned with barely restrained fury. “That you should find someone else to annoy, or I might just reach over there, tear out your guts, and hang you by your own intestines.”

Kaalek could see again. The bundles of segmented cabling forcing their way though his eyesockets were feeding his brain blurts of sensory data, which his mind processed as ‘seeing’. But it wasn’t. His new vision was in ugly shades of dark red, as though his eyes were filling with blood that he was powerless to blink away. The computers that slaved to his new body categorized and labelled everything he saw. Ahead of him stood an Astartes. The computers picked out the Eye of Horus emblazoned on his right pauldron, identifying him as a Black Legionnaire. They also picked out the eight pointed star of his left pauldron, identifying him as a slave to darkness. They made special notes of the weakspots of his armor, noting where exactly he should shoot. In the center of his abdomen, which was running with exposed cabling, the Black Legionnaire’s armor was in need of repair. One bolt from his twin-linked autocannon could penetrate this spot with ease and then detonate within the Legionnaire’s organs.

Unfortunately, the autocannons weren’t responding. They registered as being fully loaded and in no need of maintenance, but they refused to fire. The computers had already made note of this, determining that the next best course of action was to smash the Legionnaire with his powerfist. It was a cumbersome weapon, and it was possible that the Legionnaire might be fast enough to get out a shot with his holstered plasma pistol before being slain. If Kaalek open fired with its built-in flamer, it could blind the Legionnaire.

Unfortunately, neither his powerfist nor its built-in flamer were responding. At this point the computers hadn’t the slightest idea what to do. They were panicking, wracking their databases for ideas. Kaalek supposed he could trample the Legionnaire—if his damned legs would respond. Whoever this bastard was, he’d turned on Kaalek’s dreadnought but kept it disconnected from its limbs.

“Greetings Kaalek.”

Greetings Markov.

“It is Lord Captain Markov, to you.”

I will tear out your guts and hang you by your own intestines, Lord Captain Markov.

“That’s better.”
End of part 3

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[40K] World Eaters (part 1)

07/10/2013 in Warhammer 40K

3 votes, 3.67 avg. rating (77% score)

A Warhammer 40,000 story by LoneLictor.

This story originally appeared on www.dakkadakka.com and is presented here with permission from the author.

—-

We must no longer concern ourselves
with the God Emperor’s
disapproval regarding our methods

In the service of Lord Khorne, we have found the perfect outlet for our rage

-Chaplain Xabreith of the XII Legion

Chapter One
The Long War

According to a series of papers written by the late Inquisitor Thrax, the armies of Khorne fight for the thrill of battle and the pleasure of vanquishing one’s opponent. This is not entirely true.

Slaughter Brother Erezak was a sight to behold. His armor was the vibrant blood red, brass edged plate of the World Eaters. Hydraulic tubing ran about his form, plugging into outlets that were carved to resemble the eight pointed star of Chaos. Skulls, some human and others daemonic, were mounted on trophy poles and swaying from rusted chains. The brass icon of Khorne and the outlandish symbol of the World Eaters, a verdant blue and green world caught in the maw of some sort of fanged beast, were built into every facet of his armor. In one hand he clutched a whirring chainaxe, it’s rending teeth stained a dark, gore red from 10,000 years of slaughter, and in the other hand he held an archaic bolter pistol, fed a by a belt of warp cursed ammunition.

He and a thousand other Berzerkers just like him came crashing into the Imperial Fists’ position, screaming bloody praise for their mad God.

Subtlety was not the World Eaters’ strong suit.

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[ORIGINAL] Ashild (part 1)

05/10/2013 in Original

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An original fantasy epic by Trondheim

This story originally appeared on Dakkadakka.com and is posted here with the author’s consent. This is an epic work which will be posted onto Imp Lit in several parts.

To the far north there lays a land so inhospitable, and wracked by cold weather and the lack of any friendly place to rest, in these rugged foothills and vast rolling tundra plains those who are shunned by the world or driven here by either fear or a need to vanish come. Some find shelter in the few lonely fortified towns that hug the valley floors. Or some live alone, forever wandering those cold marches in search of solitude or perhaps some company to ward of evil dreams.
Known o traveler. In these lands there is but one law, and that is the law layed down by the biting cold north wind and the harsh land itself. Only the strong or lucky can hope to eke out a living here.
So let us begin our story, and let us discover who or what will unfold in it.

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[WHFB] A Bloody Road

03/10/2013 in Warhammer Fantasy

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A Warhammer story by Mr Morden.

Originally posted on www.dakkadakka.com. Posted here with the author’s permission.

——————————

PART 1

——————————

The Drakwald, south of the fortress city of Middenheim, The Empire.

Captain Lucarius was quicker than the beastman, deftly avoiding the huge cleaver. In retaliation, his own slender blade sliced through the creature’s body, cleaving deep matted fur, thick muscle and malformed bone. He pivoted swiftly and decapitated another of the foul creatures, his speed far surpassing their own crudely powerful movements.

He risked a glance to see how the rest of his command fared and witnessed two of his own hacked down. The beastmen were no match individually for the elvish warriors, but they had come in numbers and whilst slender blades were momentarily mired in dark furred bodies, so their pack mates took full advantage.

Lucarius ducked a wild blow from a bellowing monster and parried a swinging club as he dropped to one knee and then launched himself forward to stain his blade again in another creature. However, this time his rapid pivot took him into the path of a mighty fist and it sent him reeling back, scarcely retaining his grip on his sword.

Blood pouring from his shattered nose, the captain rolled and scrambled from the fists, axes, clubs and cleavers that sought a more decisive blow. The bloody mud of the forest floor clung to his armour and clothes, slowing his movements resulting in his left leg being crushed by an ill crafted club, little more than large tree branch.

His own sword, the product of a craftsman who had spent centuries mastering his art, sliced the tendons of a beast, but then like the hand that wielded it was hammered deep into the yielding ground by the hefty hoof of another. Growling in triumph, the creature ground his foot, shattering the bones beneath and causing a cry of pain to leap from the Elf officer.

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[WHFB] The Rising Tide of Filth

27/09/2013 in Warhammer Fantasy

2 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (96% score)

#1: The Breaking of the Kurgan

Our settlement had grown large, not through conquest, but through farming. We sustained a population by feeding them while making the proper obeisance to Neiglen, Grandfather Nurgle, who is the god of fecundity as well as the god of decay.

My people had not become soft. The occasional terror of a Chimera attack meant we were always vigilant, and the followers of the Crow God would like little more than to divine their fate by studying our innards.

Yet it was neither beast nor Crow Brethren that saw our destruction. Khorne had looked upon our settlement and found our warrior spirit wanting, for he despises the man who lays down his sword to take up the implements of the farmer, especially when that man is a capable fighter.

The Kurgan horde attacked us in full daylight, giving warning enough to prepare ourselves. Still we suffered many casualties, warriors of the Blood God swiping axes and hellblades in strikes that disembowelled and drew great gouts of blood. They attacked with fury rather than skill, yet somehow the speed and strength of their rage overmatched our discipline, so we knew the Kurgan were favoured indeed.

I was cut down and my guts hit the dirt a heartbeat before my body. As I lay dying, flies began to land upon my exposed vitals. We had always suspected that our tribe carried the favour of Nurgle and as I saw putrefaction spreading across my flesh, I knew the Plague God would hear me. While I prayed, I lost the strength to speak, so I finished the plea in my thoughts.

“Please, Lord Nurgle,” I whispered. Flies landed on my face and began to crawl down my throat. It took me a moment to realise they were chewing into my tongue.  “Give me the strength to strike back against these blood-mad heathens. Give me the chance to avenge my people and I will serve you.”

My child, a voice seemed to say in my head. I could hear flies buzzing madly in my ears, feel them burrowing into my skin to lay their eggs.

My child, I do not abandon faithful servants to the torments of other hells, other deities. Am I not a loving God? Is my intervention not inevitable? I have come to claim you and your people, but you shall serve me with your lives, not your deaths.

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2 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (96% score)
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[40K] The Rising Tide of Filth (40K version)

27/09/2013 in Warhammer 40K

2 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (96% score)

057.M36 Founding of the Angels Vigilant

Positioned towards the galactic north-west, defending an obscure approach into Imperial space from the Eye of Terror, a thousand brothers were born into ignorance and fear. The forges of the False Emperor provided us with fine wargear with which we pursued a hopeless mission: to stem the wrath of the Gods themselves.

066.M36 The Order of Carrion

Traitors attacked our Chapter’s recruiting worlds. Plague began to break out among the human populace. This was no physical illness. This was a contamination of the will, of the spirit, which turned great men into hateful wretches and devout warrior-priests into faithless prophets of doom. Great indeed was the shame of this time. Yet our Chapter endured.

We did not know it at the time but we were marked for greatness by a Power older and more wicked than the False Emperor of Terra. Not a single Angel Vigilant fell to the plague. We seemed, to the hopeless, embattled populace, to be upright, untouchable warriors of vengeance as we blazed bolter fire into the hordes of plague zombies. Little did the civilians know of our desperate, miserable battles against daemons, or the Great Unclean Thing that killed half a battle company, along with two of our treasured Predator tanks, on its own.

We remembered this display of might and later we would view our lost brothers as a sacrifice to the Grandfather… an appeasement… a downpayment on immortality for those of us who survived.

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[40K] The Peace of Extinction

14/09/2013 in Warhammer 40K

2 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (96% score)

A Warhammer 40,000 story by Lord of the Night

This story originally appeared on www.heresy-online.net. Reproduced here with the author’s permission.

Though the air was alive with the crackle of gunfire and the screams of the dying, it was only half of what it would have been had the men of the Imperium faced any other foe. Against the Orks the air would be filled with tribal chanting and guttural laughter; against the Eldar the sibilant whispering and cruel mockery of their lilting tongue would be like a dark sonata in their ears; against the vile Tyranids the chittering of a billion monsters would take on a life of its own. But today they faced a foe that was as silent as the graves they looked to have crawled out of. The Necrons had come to Parafic, their dark harvest cutting a swathe through the western edge of what had once been known as the Orphean Sector, a name now stricken from the endless records of the Administratum, and now was just another warzone where men went to die for the honour of the God-Emperor.

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[20K] Flight of the Fireblade

06/09/2013 in 20K

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (94% score)

A 20K story by NoPoet

In a universe so big no megaship could ever cross it, there was at least one galaxy where everyone needed to find the smallest place to hide.

Yuri Aksakov was squeezed into the cockpit of a fighter in a tunnel inside an asteroid. The tunnel had been bored by some unimaginable space-worm in aeons past. Luckily, it hadn’t left any spawn.

“I know you’re there,” the alien said across the vox. It was male, though with eldar, there wasn’t much to choose between the genders. “I can smell your soul, little rabbit.”

Yuri didn’t answer. He missed the cultural reference because he wasn’t from Earth.

The auspex showed nothing outside his hidey-hole but a chain of floating rocks. No sign of the eldar, or Yuri’s wingmen, if any had survived. No sign of the XMS Destiny.

“You can’t hide, human. I will claim you.”

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[20K] Legacy of the Future

07/04/2013 in 20K

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++ EARTHWATCH TOP SECRET ++

Author: Albert Lamm
Location: ++ Location denied ++
Transmission Time: 023987/M21
Received: Saturn, Relay point 5

Sir,

I reluctantly bring another unsettling report from an Earth expedition. The DMS Barclay, a decommissioned Canyon-class cruiser currently owned by the Pan-Pacific Treaty organisation and renamed the Horizon, has sent a report back to Earth regarding an abandoned planet which seems to have been an outpost of the Chinasian Alliance.

The report was intercepted by one of our intelligence operatives working for Solar Command. The Treaty seems to be aware of our existence but we do not currently know if they’ve made the connection between Detachment 44 and Earthwatch – they simply refer to us within the following report as “secret intelligence”. It is a matter of concern that our organisation’s existence is known and we clearly have some work to do, given that our ranks might have been compromised by Pan-Pacific.

Clarification follows:

1. The Pan-Pacific Treaty is formed from a coalition of businesses and nation-states who have expressed resistance to assimilation by the Empire. The Treaty views itself as a collective working towards a greater whole, a whole which benefits only the members of the Treaty. The Treaty was only formally declared six weeks ago, although many of its members have been working together for about two years. So far, the Treaty has been conducting their own research and exploration using a small fleet of ships they have recently purchased – a fleet which contains at least two decommissioned vessels of the Terran Navy.

2. We do not currently know the extent of the Treaty’s manpower, military strength or influence.

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