Hive Fleet Nidhoggr: Ignition

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This is a collection of stories dealing with the first sightings of the Nidhoggr Hive Fleet. Enjoy.

Small Book.pngThe following article is a /tg/ related story or fanfic. Should you continue, expect to find tl;dr and an occasional amount of awesome.

It started on a clear autumn day. I had ended my shift, and was headed back to the barracks when the Global Defense Alarm sounded. Immediately the base was back on high alert, Guardsmen scrambling to their posts, grabbing their equipment and jumping into whatever transport they could find. After everyone had made it to the briefing area, we were told that a series of bizarre meteor strikes had occurred across the planet. We were to assist in humanitarian aid and ensure that the Adeptus Mechanicus could get to the various strike locations and study the impacts. We rolled out of there with the techies and were off to the closest impact site: Municipal Centre #142, where two Class II meteors and one Class III meteor had struck. We weren't optimistic about what we would find, but we had our orders, and we planned to carry them out.

After arriving at the Centre, we discovered that the meteors had impacted on the eastern edge of the city, reducing most of the financial district to dust, but sparing a good portion of the residential district. Luckily, casualties at the time were put at an acceptable 550,000, far lower than the 3.5 million which would have resulted had the meteors struck the center of the city. The Mechanicus were stationed at the edge of the impact craters, set up to do whatever they usually do, and we were given boxes of purified water and corpse rations to hand out to the local population. Clean-up and recovery took a few months, but eventually the outer portions of the city were restored to working order. Now, I'm an Emperor-fearing man, and I've never put much stock in the Omnissiah or those "machine-spirits" the Mechanicus always mumble about, but some of the stuff they discovered from the samples of the rocks and shit they took from the impact site made me a little uneasy. They tell us that they found bio-mass within the craters; more specifically, from the xenos known as Tyranids. I knew a man once, lost his arm and a good bit of his face fightin' them filthy xenos, and he always said that they were the most terrifying sight he had ever beheld. I shuddered to think that they may bear down upon us. I might have shuddered more if I had known what was to happen in the days to come.

Nearly three years after the meteor strikes, we received communications from the Tech-priests that they had made a breakthrough with the impact craters. After scanning through the earth beneath them, they had uncovered several unusual shapes within the crust of the planet. The Mechanicus had granted them some of their more sacred technologies to drill down as far as they could and try and retrieve a sample from the anomalies. They would keep us posted on their findings. A battalion was dispatched to the Centre to keep an eye on things, as civil unrest was flaring up around the anniversary of the calamity.

Seven days after the initial report from the Mechanicus, all hell broke loose. Planet-wide earthquakes rent the continents along major fault lines, resulting in massive damage to infrastructure and the population of the planet. We received frenzied reports of creatures emerging from the choking pyroclastic flows and terrifying lava geysers, but no two reports were the same, and we lost contact with nearly every Guardsmen outpost on the planet, save one: the one at Municipal Centre #142.

From there, we received a final report from the commander in charge, complete with pictures of the foul xenos. They were far more terrifying than I could have possibly comprehended. The smallest were nearly eight meters tall, and the largest reached a staggering forty. They were clad in obsidian-like armour, jagged black claws rending flesh and tearing plasteel apart like it was paper. The most horrifying aspect of these beasts, however, was their ability to spew molten geysers of lava from within their very bodies. I saw men I had known my whole life turned to dust; I saw tanks melted, buildings reduced to ash. I saw all these things, and I know the face of fear.

Nidhoggr. The All-Consuming Flame, the Eater of Yggdrassil.

May the Emperor have mercy on me.

+++++

--Intercepted Encrypted Intel Transmitting from Tiji Sector, three months after classified event codenamed "IGNITION"--

Analysis of world extinction event code named IGNITION on planet [CLASSIFIED], the subsequent liquidation of the world, and the emergence of the new Tyranid Hive Fleet, codenamed NIDHOGGR, have been completed.

It is speculated that the bioforms first arrived via the impact of several massive meteorites who's true purpose remained undetected for over two years. The traces of Tyrannid DNA were reported as likely remains of the incinerated Leviathan Fleet of years past and the case was subsequently closed.

Though not the first identified biomorphs, the first xeno believed to have arrived were variant strains of Magma Corers, a xenomorph not seen since the First Tyrannid war and thought obsolete. It is believed that several buried themselves into the lower mantle of the world and systematically assembled a small hive structure incubated by the molten currents of the subterranean magma flow.

What transpired in the years that followed are difficult to determine, but increased volcanic and seismic activity and a statistical increase in sinkholes point to the likelihood of intense underground activity and possibly predation of native fauna and flora.

During the first encounter, modified Raveners leading heavily equipped Carnifexes, with unique inflammable mutation of their Bio Plasma, were the first encountered life forms during IGNITION.

The traditional swarms of Gaunts were not witnessed at any time during the attack, and it is predicted that their strain may not exist within this splinter fleet. It is possible that their relatively long preparation time and preference for massive tunnels to rise suddenly and without warning from below leaves little use for infantry, using terrain to supplement their artillery.

The artillery were not observed directly, or at least no record survived the blitz of the invasion, but heavy melta-class artillery was witnessed to rain down from the skies, propelled from afar. The expected culprit of Tyrannofexes has yet to be documented, but extreme caution, particularly for non-heat reinforced vehicles, is advised should any encounter be made.

Analysis indicates the likelihood of Zoanthrope presence as a significant shadow was observed within the warp during the time of the assault. Whether this elusive morph was present or played any part during the assault is unknown, but the possibility of their involvement must be mentioned.

This may hint at the origins of the new fleet, possibly a result of the warp storm generated by the events at Leviathan's Rest. Though the Salamander 5th Company confirmed complete destruction of the local fleet there it is possible that there were survivors affected by the rampant warp storm.

After a period of less than a week there were no remaining survivors. Observations later confirmed that the atmosphere was completely blacked out by ash and dust so what occurred over the next month still remains a mystery. But what was observed was three fleet ships, unlike any Tyranid formation seen before, leaving the world in a plume of flames. When the dust of the atmosphere finally cleared there was nothing of value left upon the world. Every rare metal, every trace of life, stripped from the barren earth. Surface analysis indicated that the molten core of the world was completely gone, the mantle nothing but a web work for tunnels and holes, and it would only be a matter of time before it degraded in interstellar dust and nothing remained.

This fleet operates like nothing ever seen before. They do not only devour the body and soul of all that live, but entire worlds, from within. We must learn to fight this new foe, to be vigilant for the dragon below, and to save the very galaxy itself from the new flame of war.


The hive mind stirred, its primal ecstasy alighting with new life. The first Norn Queens were in place within the massive metallic ship, picking through the accumulated genetic material and crafting and recrafting new designs. New bio-morphs were born and extinguished in the blink of an eye, being rejected by the mysterious selective process of the hive mind. There was great potential but it was something missing. Important pieces were still missing. And this the Fleet would not abide. So in silence the hive mind cast its gravitic drives towards a new target. It would find it's new source of material.

The hive mind turned its attention to the world known to mortals as Kratos, and cast out a small exploratory vessel into the blackness of space.

A splash. The experience was not unfamiliar to the tyrant guard within but it was far from a welcome experience. Water was anathema to the creature, eroding well constructed tunnels and creating an unfavorable location for incubation. The creatire staved off panic and it took a small degree of focus from the hive mind to keep it from bursting forth into the primordial sea and to a quick death.

As the remains of the meteor crashed into the sea floor with a jolt, the guardian of the new clutch inhaled deeply, carrying the life sustaining oxygen contained within the vessel into its lungs before beginning to dig. It didn't take much work. Sulfur vents were everywhere on the sea floor, drawing up the yellow mineral from super heated pockets beneath the surface. And sulfur was an invaluable nutrient to the young of the swarm.

After carefully placing the young into enclosed sacks to engorge on the nutrients and rapidly mature the stalking tyrant began it's hunt. Little did it know would be in vain, for the world was not made for the living.

But the young bio-morphs were far more fortunate, because within the vents of the sulfur there was tiny life, undetected by their keeper, but easy prey for the filtering feeders of the ravenous new brood...

The serpentine Trygon moved as quickly as it could, not pausing for anything despite the signals flying to its brain that might register as pain had it not been bred to ignore them. The volcanic island rose above the surface of the blackened waters, its fiery crater glowing and alighting the poisonous sky above. It had not been there a month before and its sudden arrival did not go unnoticed by the local inhabitants.

The titan crawled through the frozen and shattered corpses of its fellows. Liquid oxygen was a surprisingly effective weapon against a creature that required incredible temperatures to stay alive. It was the last surviving one of its fellows, the only trace of what glorious undertaking had begun here. It did not fear its pursuers but it was driven by an overpowering command from the hive. Survive. Escape. Rebuild.

It could sense its tunnel opening just before it. It was nearly there, back into its escape to the venomous earth below. Had there been more food the hive could have flourished much quicker, but the planet was barren. But the new and unique extremophiles found here were deemed too important a genetic resource to abandon by the overbeing in the stars above.

It trailed its bleeding husk behind it, dragging its form with the one remaining claw it possessed. Escape was so close. Life was so close.

But this was the last impulse through the creature before a well placed lasgun blast burst through its neural synapses, spraying the superheated acrid bile within upon the salted earth.

After so brief a time, the world was once again without life. The Deep Ones looked out upon the corpses before them, checking their oxygen supplies. They gathered up whatever remains they could for analysis and hauled them back to their ship. This may have been the end of the first Tyranid incursion, but for them, it was only the beginning.



The ground beneath Tilarus' feet rumbled, the asphalt of the street cracking, releasing gouts of super heated steam. The astartes took no notice, however, as he lifted his flamer overhead, bringing it down with a deafening crack on the carapace-covered skull of a tyranid warrior. It was a happy coincidence that none of the chapter's techmarines were nearby, lest they see the flamer's machine spirit so sorely disrespected.

Tilarus brought his impromptu melee weapon up, cracking the butt into the warrior's chin, sending its head reeling up, mouth open in a high-pitched screech of pain. Tilarus followed through on the swing, holding the flamer high above his head, before bringing it down with all his might into the open maw of the beast, lodging it deeply within the creature's esophagus. He brought one iron boot up, delivering a bone-shattering kick to the tyranid's midsection that sent it reeling back into three more onrushing warriors while he simultaneously pulled his bolt pistol free. He let loose three quick shots which found their way into the flamer's fuel tanks, igniting them and consuming the warriors in the sudden conflagration.

Tilarus brought his arm up to shield against the sudden burst of light and heat, the force of the blast nearly taking him off his feet. He was satisfied to see the tyranids reduced to splattered organs and shards of chitin, which he took significantly less satisfaction in wiping off of his power armor. At least they're vulnerable to explosions, he thought, and silently cursed whatever fool was responsible for the intelligence the chapter had been given. The only information they had been given before planetfall was that there had been a tyranid attack on Vexus Prime, the chaos of the situation making it nigh impossible to get any decent communications with the planetary forces.

He was no stranger to tyranid swarms, having fought invasions in three systems, but he had not expected this. There were none of the swarms of weak gaunts which would have found his flamer (Omnissiah rest its machine spirit) a more than effective bulwark against their advance. Instead, what met the Steel Hawks chapter was a horde of tyranids larger and more vicious than any Tilarus had ever seen, their pitch black armored hides ignoring the searing heat he threw their way. The sky above was not blackened by a rain of mycetic spores, but choked with the noxious subterranean gasses and gouts of volcanic ash from where these new beasts tore their way through the planet's crust like maggots eating their way out of a rotten carcass. He never though he would wax nostalgic for swarms of chittering abominations falling from the sky.

He took another look at his surroundings. Piled behind him, as well as all around him to varying degrees, lay the crumbled ruins of the southeastern portion of the planetary governor's palace wall. The top of the massive twenty-eight meter structure had been where he had been fighting the tyranid advance, holding off those few beasts that were able to scale it while his battle brothers rained death down on the oncoming host that had erupted from the massive sinkhole several kilometers to the south. The section of wall had finally given way under the onslaught of countless xeno beasts, one final tremor serving as its death knell. This section of the wall was the only one that had collapsed, it seemed, and it had been large and thick enough that even as rubble it would provide a difficult obstacle for even the tyranids to pass. Thank the Emperor for small mercies.

Sighting no more enemies, Tilarus activated his helmet's vox. "This is battle-brother Tilarus requesting coordinates of the nearest Imperial force. Transmitting my coordinates as well." The only sound that greeted his ears was that of silence and the occasional burst of static. He tried a second time only to be met with more of the same. Tilarus was growing increasingly pensive as he stood amid the rubble. He tried once more. "This is battle-brother Ti-"

A voice suddenly cut in through the static before suddenly fading out. "-ouldn't fix a toaster if it was your own ass-" Tilarus listened intently for a moment before the signal came back, now significantly clearer. "-et it fixed or I'll break the other one, you sniveling gear-humper!"

"This is battle-brother Tilarus of the Steel Hawks, who am I speaking to?" Tilarus intoned over the vox.

"This is Sergeant Verence Giles of the Vexus Prime Planetary Defense Force," came the reply, the voice now much more respectful. "Apologies, sir, our vox was damaged when the wall came down. We only now got it transmitting again. We did, however, receive your previous messages. We're transmitting our coordinates to you now."

As the transmission came through, Tilarus relaxed slightly. It was good to know that at least some had survived the collapse. The PDF had set up a defensive line some distance to the north at the edge of the gap. Tilarus hefted his bolt pistol eagerly and began running.

The trek was difficult, even for an astartes. The rubble was almost impassable in places, forcing Tilarus to backtrack. Eventually, though, he finally found his way. It began as the distant sound of gunfire accompanied by piercing shrieks and bestial roars. He slowed his approach, moving slowly through whatever cover he could find and keeping his senses piqued for even the slightest hint of a threat. It was for this reason that he found it highly embarrassing when he nearly tripped over the corpse of a tyranid warrior, a pair of massive bolt holes in its alien skull.

He paused for a moment, an idea forming. With a quick twist and crack, and a shower of boiling ichor, he wrenched off one of the creatures massive scything talons. He gave it a few swings through the air. It was no chainsword, but it was better than nothing should any of the disgusting beasts attempt to get up close.

He found the PDF in the midst of a brutal fight. They had dug into the rubble of the collapsed wall, using the larger chunks as cover. Somehow, they had managed to acquire a pair of chimeras which were frantically letting loose with their heavy weapons. The sight that Tilarus focused on, however, was not that of the valiant PDF, but of the warriors before them, holding the encroaching swarm at bay. The brown and grey clad warriors of the Steel Hawks, a full dozen, held the line. Chainswords sang as they bit into alien flesh, bolters barked and spat flaming death into the chittering masses as all around them flashed the beams of the PDF troopers' lasguns.

Tilarus' heart practically soared as he watched Brother Halstoff, the oldest dreadnought in the chapter fight off the advance of a pair of carnifexes. Holding the head of one in a gargantuan steel hand, he twisted it this way and that, using the stumbling behemoth as a living shield between him and the second. Using his captive to maneuver its comrade, he twisted and turned until the second carnifex was in just the right spot to leave its left flank wide open to a trooper's krak missile which took down the beast in a rain of steaming flesh. Halstoff then let loose a string of heavy bolter fire into the captive monster's neck point blank, decapitating it in an instant.

Tilarus' smile did not last for long as he saw from his perch amongst a rubble pile a single marine had been separated from the rest of the line. A group of warriors slowly circled, preparing to move in for the kill. Letting a cry of "For the Emperor!" ring out across the battlefield, Tilarus charged down the embankment, scattering rocks and debris as he went. The nearest warrior turned to face him just in time to have Tilarus jam his newly-appropriated talon into its throat. Without missing a beat, Tilarus opened up on the next xeno with his bolt pistol, sending shards of chitin flying.

The other marine quickly joined in, letting fly with his own chainsword and bolter.

"Are you all right, brother?" Tilarus inquired as he ducked under a gout of flame from one of the warriors.

"Tilarus?" exclaimed the other marine in mock surprise. "Aren't you dead yet?"

"Anties, I could ask you the same," Tilarus quipped as he recognized the voice.

"I see you've lost your flamer," Anties called as he parried a warrior's strike. "Brother Avrost will be most displeased," he mocked.

"I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about, brother," replied Tilarus. He ducked another strike and brought his pistol up right beneath his latest foe's chin, letting loose a shot that sent boiling gray matter splattering everywhere.

"Whatever you say, brother! I see you have gained a new weapon in any case," Anties said, noting the large claw that Tilarus was using to cleave at his foes. "A goodwill present from our xeno compatriots?"

"Indeed, brother. They can be most generous when pressed."

"Then let us see if we can extort some more acts of generosity." Tilarus could almost see the massive grin that must have been adorning his battle-brothers face as he said that. As one, they cried, "For the Emperor!"

The fight was long and brutal, but they had won, for the moment at least. The tide of xenos filth had ebbed, leaving behind the disgusting jetsam of countless tyranid corpses. Even with their victory, though, they had sustained heavy losses. The PDF had sustained the worst casualties. Of forty troopers, they had lost a quarter of that with another quarter in various states of injury. One chimera had been completely destroyed when a carnifex had somehow managed to flank them and done considerable damage before Halstoff had added another kill to his ever-growing collection. The Hawks had taken casualties as well. Four battle-brothers had fallen, three more were grievously wounded. Even mighty Halstoff's armored form bore the wounds of battle, gashes rent in the metal from countless claws.

Tilarus and Anties waited in the impromptu command center that had been set up. It was little more than a single table, balanced precariously amongst the rubble, adorned with a tactical map and a voxcaster sitting on its edge. Tilarus glanced around at the ragged group of assembled personnel, his gaze stopping on a PDF sergeant.

"Sergeant, you appear to be injured," he said, noting the man's missing left arm. He would not expect anyone to be up and about with an injury like that.

"It's only a flesh wound, sir," responded the sergeant in a voice that Tilarus had hear only once over the vox. "Not even that much, actually. That arm was mostly augmetic."

"Ah, good." Tilarus wasn't sure what more to say. He was thankful as he heard the rumble of Halstoff's approach. In the power vacuum that the wall's collapse and the subsequent casualties had caused, the dreadnought had taken over command of the assembled forces. No one had complained.\ "Report," ordered Halstoff. He had never been one for pleasantries.

A ragged-looking tech priest spoke up. "We received new intelligence about ten minutes ago, my lord," he intoned, his voice raspy and metallic. "The situation is quite dire. Two more sinkholes have opened up near our position. More of the creatures are pouring out as we speak. We have little time before they reach us."

Sergeant Giles cut in. "Our forces around the palace have beaten back the last wave, but we're battered and bleeding. We aren't gonna' hold if we get hit again like this. If we don't get reinforcements, it's over."

"Reinforcements are unlikely," replied Halstoff. "We have lost all contact with our other forces on the planet. I fear this world may be lost." Tilarus felt his chest tighten as he heard those words.

"I must agree, my lord," the tech priest added. "Current seismic scans are dire. The entire planet seems to be breaking apart. Even if we were to destroy these creatures, the planet would be uninhabitable."

"Then it is settled. I will speak to the other commanders. We will evacuate our forces. Begin preparations to move the wounded to the landing pads at the center of the palace. Dismissed."\ Tilarus' heart felt heavy as the group made its way to the palace. The gargantuan structure was more like a small city than a palace. It would take some time to actually reach the landing pads in the center and load up the troops. If they moved quickly, the last of their forces would be lifting off just as the tyranid host arrived at their walls.

"Your heart is heavy, brother," said Halstoff who was bringing up the rear alongside Tilarus and several more of the astartes, including Anties. Tilarus nearly stumbled at the sudden statement. Halstoff was one of the most revered members of the entire chapter and not know to speak unless it was on something of grave importance. To be addressed by him personally was the greatest honor Tilarus had ever known.

"Apologies, sir," said Tilarus when he had once more found his tongue. "It just does not feel right," he clenched his teeth. "Leaving the planet to these creatures is just-"

"Wrong?" Halstoff finished for him. "Yes, I know how you feel. It is your desire to fight to the last against these abominations. That is good. It is your duty to fight for humanity and for the Emperor. The hatred you feel for these monsters is good, but you must not allow it to blind you. Your death here would provide nothing save more food for these beasts. Know this, though, even though this world may fall today, we shall have victory. These abominations will be purged someday. Have faith in the Emperor, brother."

"Thank you, brother," replied Tilarus. His spirits were higher now, hearing the wisdom of Halstoff. It was for this reason that the fall was so much more painful when he heard the tech priest speak.

"Sir," he screamed, his metallic voice straining, "we've just detected another seismic disturbance. It's massive!"

"Where?" Halstoff barely had time to speak the word before the ground began to tremble. The ground buckled and cracked, spewing steam and smoke. Before them, the spires of the palace began to crack and fall, disappearing into the growing cloud of noxious fumes. As the tremors increased, the entire palace seemed to begin sinking into the ground.

"FALL BACK, BROTHERS!" Halstoff cried, pushing his voice synthesizers to their limit.

None of them had to be told twice. Everyone, astartes and PDF alike, began to run as the earth beneath them began to fall away. Tilarus took his power armor clad legs to their limit. Even with the mechanical aid and his numerous implants and augments, his muscles still burned and his lungs struggled for breath under the strain.

All around him, geysers of steam and dust obscured his vision. His ears were filled with nothing but crashing sound of stone and earth cracking and falling away into the void. Through the smoke and the steam, he could just make out the destroyed ruins of the wall. He was only a few meters away when he felt the earth beneath him disappear and gravity take its hold on him as he began to tumble down into the void.

Then his fall stopped. He felt something around his body, holding him in place. He was jarred to and fro as he was carried along. Up and down, up and down, in great, rumbling strides, Halstoff carried Tilarus to safety with speed the younger marine never knew a dreadnought could muster. They finally came to a stop amongst the rubble and Tilarus was set down.

He looked over the devastation. The ground now slanted downward in a steep, cracked slope that disappeared into a dense cloud of dust about a dozen meters away. There was no sign of the palace or anything at all for that matter.

"What of the others?" he asked Halstoff. The dreadnought's silence was all the answer he needed. They were all that was left.

A shadow suddenly appeared at the edge of the swirling cloud of dust and ash. Tilarus readied his weapons. The rumble of machinery beside him, told him that Halstoff had done the same. He nearly dropped his bolter when the shadow formed itself into the shape of the smiling Anties who had somehow managed to lose his helmet along the way.

Tilarus laughed and called out, "Anties? Aren't you dead yet?"

Anties waved to him and replied, "It would take more than that to kill me!"

The cloud behind Anties suddenly darkened as a massive blade flitted out through the smoke, cutting through the unaware marine at the waist, sending the halves flying through the air.

Trailing smoke and soot, the hive tyrant stepped forward. It was larger than any Tilarus had ever seen. Its carapace was the shiny color of obsidian and its skin blazed red like magma. Its entire body seemed to be wreathed in steam. The very rocks that it stood upon baked and melted and the saliva that dripped from its maw set the ground beneath it ablaze. It locked its eyes on Tilarus. Tilarus' blood ran cold as he met those eyes. They burned like miniature suns. There was nothing there but hunger, the all consuming hunger of the flame.

The beast reared back and let out a deafening roar which seemed to make the whole world tremble. From every corner it was echoed, from the highest mountain to the very core of the world, the Great Devourer roared its hunger. A billion mouths, one voice. As the sound slowly faded, the tyrant slowly lowered its head again and stood as if waiting.

Halstoff's voice suddenly stirred Tilarus from his stupor. "How much ammunition do you have remaining?"

Tilarus looked at his pistol. "I'm out."

"As am I."

"What do we do?" As they spoke, the smoke cloud was darkened as more nightmarish shapes amassed.

"We do our duty."

END


<On-board a Nidhoggr Hive Ship in Orbit around [Classified], 18 hourse into IGNITION event>

The being opened it's eyes for the first time, vaguely aware of its upside down orientation. It stretched its limbs to the membrane encasing it and cut its way out of the sac, flowing forth onto the moist and fleshy interior of the Brood Nest. It stood up on its legs with instinctive ease as it remembered what it was. It have never opened its eyes before or felt the mucus membrane of the ship beneath its feet, but it drew its consciousness from the hive mind and awakened its own synapses in response. The newly created biomorph, what a human might call a Hive Tyrant due to its resemblance, threw back its head and let out of roar that echoed through the tubes and compartments of the ship.

The corpulent forms of the Norn Queens, little more than deft tentacles and precision bone instruments attached to a massive sac of organs and refined bioresources, flowed back from their greatest accomplishment in their short time among the stars and let all the eyes of the mind marvel at their work. A new Hive Lord to lead a new force, unlike any other.

This world below was a first but it would certainly not be the last. And so the hive mind had proceeded with the utmost care in deployment, curiously examined every facet of its attack, explored every tactic and relearned the ways of bloody battle in this first world where the inhabitants struck back. And from this need for battle and hunger for flesh was born a creature of new design. A creature with the knowledge of the old ways before the flames, hidden within the genetic memory of the hive, as well as mastery over the new and fearsome designs of the swarm. This champion would have unparalleled autonomy, carrying the webwork of the hive mind on a barren world below as it lead the swarm in a fury of smoke and blades.

The creature did not react as the tendril wrapped around it and pushed it into the contracting tube in the side of the room. It merely waited, knowing it was to be encased and placed inside a specially prepared and disguised Mycetic Spore for immediate combat deployment. It did not fear death, for its mind would always exist within the hive, waiting to be reborn again on another, for another battle, for another feast. It's sacs of flammable ichor oozed in excitement, lighting its lashwhip aflame as it contacted the air. It could already smell the bloodshed below.

Unflinching it waited as the amniotic fluid filled in the containment chamber. It did not panic as it's lungs were engulfed and breathed in the gelatinous broth. The ooze thickened and the beast found itself paralyzed, drifting slowly in a state of suspended animation. It's mind crackled across the synapses of its brothers still forming in the hollowed recesses of the hive ship. Each of them would become a living appendage of the hive mind, the embodiment of all the hunger and instinct of the brood. They were all within him now, those minds waiting to be born, watching and learning so that they would be born with all the collective intelligence and combat experience of every veteran of a thousand invasions. With a mental nod the Spore bowed to the will of its overlord and launched itself through the membranous barrier before it and out into the cold vacuum beyond. It drifted for but a moment before bracing itself. The thickened fluids within it solidifed in the absence of the mother's warmth to preserve the integrity of it's favored child. As much dead as alive, the two vessels plummeted, one within the other, to the world below. But then after a few moments both roared into life again as the atmosphere ignited the outermost musculature of the mycoloth. The whole hive watched through the beast's eyes as it crashed into the rock below.

First impact would be a disorienting experience for most, but for the warrior of shadow and flame it was an experience it held many memories of, even though they were not its own. After the vessel halted completely, the Tyrant ripped out of the side of the spore, pushing aside its chitinous exoskeleton from within, and leapt to the ground below. It scratched its claws into the soft earth and only took a single sniff of the air to determine where the most bloodshed was as it search the web of thought for the best prey. It reached out through the synapses of the brood and flexed the muscles of its hundreds of bodies.

A million voices roared as one. The very earth trembled and cracked as its hungering mouths clawed their way to the surface. A building crumbled in the distance and the resulting crater pulled the nearby organics into its stony maw. The fiend that would one day be known as the Balor turned and charged off towards its new found quarry, hungry to join the din of battle.

As it approached its dorsal vents began to billow forth plumes of smoke and ash. By the time it reached the Imperial front line it was almost completely cloaked in the shadows and flickering glow of red hot cinders and blackened charcoal. It fired a bolt of scorching organic plasma from its Incinerator Canon and hit an armored vehicle leaving its smoldering husk immobile, but it craved closer more intimate combat. It spread its massive and powerful wings and with a powerful thrust leaped into the skies above before plummeting down onto its first unsuspecting victim below. It's uncoiling whip of flame would be the last thing the poor marine ever saw. The lick of the whip cleaved the pathetic creature in half. Engulfed in shadows it folded its wings down and stepped slowly from the ashen cloud it had left in its wake. Two remaining adversaries stared forth, defiant, one of flesh and one of metal. Both would serve the purposes of the brood.

The scavengers crawled from the ash and encircled their prey, as others were doing to the last isolated pockets of resistance all across the world. They wanted nothing more than to descend and feed but the Hivelord held them at bay. These ones would be his and his alone. He needed to learn the nature of his foe and his own capabilities so that this instinct might be imprinted into the millions of copies of himself waiting to be born miles above.

The dreadnought was the first to move, errupting at the nearest figure with it's assault cannon. The Ravener did not even try to defend itself, its instincts held in reserve by the Tyrant's indomitable will. It exploded into a burst of molten blood lighting the wrist mounted weapon of the venerated warrior with a red glow of intense heat. A dozen warriors aimed their weapons but held their fire.

Now it was the turn of the beast. It lashed forward with it's whip and grabbed the already super heated weapon, pulling the dreadnought closer as it's bonesword flew in a wide sweeping horizontal arch.

The dreadnought deftly caught the blow with its free hand as the marine began his own charge. Throwing aside the empty bolter he drew his combat knife lunging into the beast with all the fury he could muster. The knife struck him from behind but was deflected uselessly by the thick metallic carapace of the tyrant. The beast, looking upon this foolish human with the eyes of its brood, effortlessly spread its wings and knocked the marine from his feet.

Refocusing on the dreadnought now locked in combat it fired its Incinerator at point blank range into the left shoulder of the helpless warrior to soften the metal shell before leaning forward and ripping it apart with its teeth. The metal nearly held but with the sound of metal on metal, a bloodcurdling scream, and a sickening crunch the beast ripped the arm free and tossed it into the waiting horde of its lesser brethren to be consumed. It's sword freed, it began hacking relentlessly into the man of metal until it ceased its pitiful struggles.

It stopped its merciless attacks only to glide aside as a bolter flew through the air towards where its head had been a moment before. The beast had spied the man's attempt a second before, reflected in the perception of the gathered witnesses. Turning to the smaller and much less intimidating foe, it loosed its whip once again as flames erupted through the air. But the marine dropped to the ground to avoid the heat of the lash, then rolled to the side to avoid the following blow. He struggled to his feet as the tyrant leveled it's cannon on the tiny fool. It was weak and it's genetics were of no use to the brood. It would serve better reduced to it's elementary components. But as the beast began to flex its chemical sacs to ignite the bio plasma within the human did an unthinkable thing. It charged. Right into the tyrant, its knife again steady it its hand. With an unparalleled fury at all he had lost he plunged the combat knife into the glowing sac of the cannon, causing an explosion of fiery chemicals as they rapidly ignited int the air. The marine was instantly incinerated.

The hive panicked. The synapse web was severed as their master fell to the ground wrapped in his dark wings. Instinct nearly drove them all to flee back underground. But them the grip returned. The gathered hive writhed in pain as the rage of their master ignited their very synapses with psychic backlash.

The Balor stood up.

It's glorious red hide was covered in black soot and festering burns left gaping wounds where molten fluids oozed forth. Around it was nothing but ash. No trace of anything but ash remained around it within the crater. Everything was blackened in a fiery inferno. Only the boiling marrow of cracked and blackened bones interrupted the roar of the flames.

The Tyrant looked upon what its wrath had unleashed. The marine had inadvertently triggered a psychic awakening within the warp-touched beast. The flames had consumed both man and tyranid, flesh and steel alike.

This was the power of ultimate destruction. The power of the dragon. The power of the Nidhoggr. A power that would need to be tempered and honed.

The Balor spread its wings and took flight towards the nearest catacomb where it would return to the reclamation pool. The Hive had lost much, but much had been learned too. And in time, both the living and the dead return to the earth. And the earth would be consumed. The Brood was pleased.