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[40K] World Eaters (part 2)

20/10/2014 in Warhammer 40K

5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 3 votes

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

5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 3 votes

1 response to [40K] World Eaters (part 2)

  1. NoPoet said on 22/01/2015

    This is excellent. It’s also fairly consistent with the new Heresy novel, Betrayer, as it shows the World Eaters as having a strongly cynical humour – a gallows humour – and they fully appreciate the ridiculous situations of the 41st Millennium. Can’t WAIT to see the direction this takes. A World Eaters Dreadnought! The closing lines are brilliant.

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