Nobledark Imperium Writing

From 1d4chan

This page is part of the Nobledark Imperium, a fan re-working of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. See the Nobledark Imperium Introduction and Main Page for more information on the alternate universe

All our stories that don't belong in another section of the project (such as the writing for Sanguinius).

Contents

Currently Unsorted Writefaggotry[edit]

The Accounting of Trazyn the Infinite[edit]

“You want me to explain to you why we did it? Why? And why ask me?”

“I see. An accounting then. And I suppose I am the closest thing the galaxy has to an actual historian in this era. Aside, perhaps, from that old wraith in the weeds Orikan.”

“When the Necrontyr first spread beyond the confines of our world, it was not long before we encountered the Old Ones. But the Old Ones had known of us long before we knew of them. They knew of the horror and suffering we had experienced on our homeworld, and had known for millennia. And they did nothing.”

“I want you to picture that. A race of god-like beings capable of bending the galaxy to their will. And they did nothing. The Old Ones could have offered us sanctuary on another world. They could have told us that Aza’gorod was hiding in our star. But they didn’t. They only cared about themselves and their experiments. How many other races had suffered like we had for the sake of their curiosity? How many species had been uplifted and then discarded like tools, or removed like weeds.”

“I imagine the declaration to go to war with the Old Ones was met with shock across the Necrontyr Star Empire. Regardless of their actions, the Old Ones were still as gods to us, capable of things we could barely begin to comprehend. But after the Old Ones, we were the most advanced race we knew of in the galaxy. The only ones capable of defying them. The eldest child standing up against the abusive parent. The Old Ones were truly lords of the galaxy, capable of cultivating species like more primitive civilizations cultivate crops. But any lord that would inflict such suffering in their name upon their subjects deserves to be dragged from their throne.”

“Was that how it truly was? Was that how the Old Ones really saw the younger races? I don’t know. I was not there when the first shots of the War in Heaven were fired. I was only there when it ended.”

“All I know is that the War in Heaven was such a colossal waste. Trillions of Old Ones and Aeldari and Necrontyr and Krork killed and for what. The Old Ones are extinct. The Necrontyr sold their souls and the moral high ground for the power to defeat them. The Realm of Souls turned into poison for life. Thousands of species killed or turned into living weapons. We sought to free life from the Old Ones’ dominion. Instead we brought the hell that was our homeworld to the rest of the galaxy. The ‘original sin’, as I believe you humans would put it. Maybe there was a better way. Maybe things could have been resolved peacefully.”

“But at the same time, that is why I have so many expectations for this era.”

“You seem surprised. Perhaps I should explain. When I awoke from the Long Sleep, it was as if everything old had been made new again. The scars of the old war were still there, but it was as if galactic history had been rewritten from scratch. So many new things to learn. So many new species to encounter and study. And it was a galaxy without overlords. Life free to develop as it chose. Without a single species to impose their overarching will on the galaxy, there is so much more room for diversity. A place for everyone, one might say. Not just the races united in your Imperium, but the Q’orl, the orks, the rak-ghol, the tyranids. And yes, even the old Star Empire, if it is willing to adapt to the times. Whereas you see the galaxy in crisis, I see something different. The galaxy has had sixty five million years to write its own story. I, Trazyn the Infinite, want to see what it has written.”

- Trazyn the Infinite, regaled to a human scribe on Solemnace

Alpha Bitch[edit]

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future...” "Those words, bequeathed to us from some unknown source, has tormented the oracles through the ages. Not even the False-Gods in all their malevolent power can claim true mastery over the future. We, the Eldar are the most skilled seers in the galaxy, and that has given us only one golden glance of what should be. Those glimpses have taught us a bitter lesson. That does not matter who much we plan for the future, there will always be something interfering. Anybody that claims that their plans have succeeded just as planned, is a deluded fool or think that their audience is one, maybe the two. And even with that, we, the Farseers plan, conspire and ruin lives just to scratch one more day, because the alternative is the extinction..." ---From The Living Chronicles of Féin-Cineálan. As written be Osurad---

"So... I clean the blood, put on again the Wych tong, and left the camp with the intel. The next morning the IG zeroed the place and we had a pretty Kabal War. Fuck you Drukhari!"

"Hm... I... You want another infusion?"

The cute jailbait Servant was straining to don´t eyeing her with abject terror, but she can´t help, he was so damn cute. Sigh... What happens to the new generation? Come on, you only have thirty, one time! Sigh... She wasn't expecting this reception. She was the great Lynn Minwen HERO OF THE INQUISITION. Well, not exactly a HERO but definitively A hero. Her parents at least have the decency to bear-hug her and let their emotions run a little. But NO, the Council go to say that she has this weird "Anti-empathic trauma" and need some "Spiritual retuning". So they put her in a recliner, surrounded with Musicians performing psyco-reactive music and with only watery infusions as a drink. Sigh... It could be worse.

As Lynn was musing how to sneak away, Osurad comes in the "Visualization chamber" and without saying a word, pass her a sealed letter. A manuscript letter. Fuck! That is what cross her mind when finally come to the authorization seal. It was gold, The Gold. This was stamped in the Golden Throne Office, maybe even be the Golden Man in person! Fuck! Hm... Interesting, it was Hand. Something about a new assignment? Seriously!? She has retired! Hm... Return to active duty... Hm... Immediate effect... BlaBlaBla... Ok. She will bite. All her instincts tell, that the best, was to run and disappear from the face of Imperial Space. All reasonable sapients will agree in that course of action. This was definitively beyond her pay grade. So, smiling for some action, she gets up and left in direction to the starport.

"What is happening Lynn?" "Hey! You are the Farseer! You know, all that mumbo-jumbo about seeing the future" "The only future that I see is a deeply traumatized youngster." "So... I succeded? Damm, he is cute!" "Lynn!" "Ok, ok... Jeez... I was joking!... Mostly" "..." "So... Is it so bad?" "Hmm... Lynn the last time I sense something similar, the destiny of millions suddenly change, and the Path to your future was rewritten." "So that bad. Good to know."

As the two approach the hangar, some details begin to appear. All the area has been cleaned, only authorized people were permitted. And the authorized were... Black armor... Silent treatment... Omega Hydras. That was bad... Really, really bad. What class of shit has brought Hand? As they approach, the Hydras stop Osurad in his tracks, only letting Lynn pass the doors. Inside, in front of an Arvus Lighter was a more than nervous Adept pacing from a foot to another. Definitively not an Inquisition Acolyte. Somebody expendable... Or a really good actor? Who knows? Her curiosity has been piqued.

"Oh. Miss Minwen! Thanks, Isha! I hope that you read my file!" "What... File?" "What!? Nobody!? Of course not! This is secret! I am Ludoptus. Hm... Ok. I have been sent to help you, taking care of the subject`s wellbeing."

Not that good actor. This guy is 100% and agent of somebody. The "fake" adept pass her a dataslate and urge Lynn to enter the transport. As she enters the hold, in the periphery of her warp senses, a little whine can be heard... Something like crying? Chills of fear run her skin like... A saw blade cutting deep. Fuck... In what the hell Hand got her. She forces her mind away from the warp to real space and... The smell hit. The hold reek and the bad smell seems to come from a young human woman sitting in a fetal position. Several Hydras surround her armed with shock batons and stun guns. A chem-collar in her neck.

Lynn looks to the dataslate files and tries to make some sense of this mess. Some biometrics details... Hm... Tortured by Drukhari... Hm... Ok, is evident that this girl is a total mess. Sigh She... Wasn´t impressed. Seriously, this little shit was her new assignment? Fuck. Seriously. Fuck. She isn´t a babysitter. The little shit is somebody else problem. Somebody with a white padded room, a straitjacket and LOTS of hard drugs. And if all that fail, the emperor's mercy. This broken girl can barely do more than shit on herself. Groan... Now that she has taken some R&R and was eyeing that cute jailbait ass. They can´t do that to her. Shit.

Looking over the dataslate, she observes the girl. More than dirty white hair with indescribable... Things... Mixed. The body wasn´t better, emaciated, full of scars and... Let's be generous... Uncleanliness. All this mix in a more than disturbing whole that will make a Crone blush with envy. It seems that nobody has enough balls to try to clean the fucking walking disaster and have resigned themselves to throw a blanket as her only clothes. Fuck. And she was her new job. Groan... This is getting better by the second.

"Fuck! Hand! Why the fuck you do this to me!"

The change in the room was more than evident. The Stormtroopers get tense as the, until that moment, catatonic woman rises from her fetal position. She was tall and slim. Not as an Eldar but with the correct equipment... Forget that shit. Ok? Come on Eldar brain, time to work, no time for more speculation. The warp around the girl begin to.. Twist? Break apart? and her eyes explode in white fucking flames! Genial... Another mad psyker. Several hits from the shock batons fall over her, but the girl doesn't respond as all her concentration is now in scaping.

"The collar doesn´t..."

The cry of the no-adept is cut short as the remains of the collar hit him square in the face with enough force to knock him out. The movement was fast... And instinctive. Lynn doubts that the girl is anything beyond an automaton that just reacts to her surroundings. And now the most direct threats are her and the stormtroopers. Luckily for Lynn, the Hydras were nearer. That does not make it fun... Well, a little bit, yes. But give her a second to prepare for the girl next move.

"Hey! Little shit! Here, look to the big bad Eldar!"

The girl was sweeping the floor with the stormtroopers. She was ignoring the shocks and bolts from their weapons and basically using them as ragdolls, but when Lynn talk, her attention change to the Eldar woman and the confused expression in her eyes, change to one of pure hate. Shit... This is going to hurt. Howling with rage the lunatic girl charge. Lynn barely dodges the savage attack and witness how the kid hands rip the metallic walls of the hold. Damm... She was fucking fast and strong. Lynn needed more space, in the hold, the girl has the advantage, so she begins to retreat down the ramp, were the Hydras can finish the mad bitch.

"Ok. Guys when you got a clear shot, unbrain the bitch!" "We have orders to take her alive!" "Fuck me!"

Fuck... Seriously? Now she must somehow stop the lunatic? Sigh... Another day in her life. Lynn jump in time to see the kid strike where just an instant before she was standing. With the strength to rip trough Astartes armor, the ceramic floor explodes in a shower of stone and dust. A mask of fury and hate has appeared on the girl, that has decided to kill Lynn and probably any other Eldar that is in the vicinity. Fortunately for the lucky bastards, Lynn was the focus of the little shit ire. Better to keep the focus in the dispensable one. After all, she can´t let then all the fun, isn´t? All that crap about "control your urges" and shit.

"Come on little shit! I heard that you can do better!"

The girl was a trained combatant, but in her current state, she doesn't have any technique, only loads and loads of warp-fueled fury and madness. Of course, when that gives you the capacity to ripe apart jetbikes with the hands and ignore pain, starvation, and fatigue, the technique is secondary... until you meet somebody that has fought fury incarnated in mind-rending/reality-warping monstrosities. Even with that, Lynn must admit that the girl was insanely powerful. With the emphasis on insane.

Unsheathing her Catachan Knife, she toyed with the idea to rip the bitch head. But the orders were clear. Don´t kill her. So... Lynn was playing catch with a crazy murder machine. Retreating, again and again, Lynn giggles, mock and launch ork´s kisses to the girl, trying unsuccessfully to tire the demented psyker. Genial, plan b.

Waiting to one of her demented charges, Lynn dodge, rolling over herself and impaling with extreme prejudice her Knife through the little shit left thigh. Flesh, tendons, and bone were sectioned as the Knife was sunken to the hilt. Luckily for the girl, Lynn was a well-experienced knife fighter, and even best, and Eldar. Only that save her of a sectioned femoral. Even with that, Lynn barely dodges the backhanded blow launched be the crazy,as she was leaving the danger zone. The skimming strike has enough force to throw Lynn to the ground and take her breath away. The followed punch break again the floor as her Eldar reflexes quick and let Lynn roll away.

"Shit!"

Lynn quickly gets up, but pain curse through her body as a broken rib pierce her flank. Quickly crystallizing blood pour from the wound.

"What now Litte... What the fuck?!"

It was nearly not enough. Sparks of warp energy surrounded the psico-bitch as she was trying to get up and walk towards Lynn. But it was late, she has been slowed and the Hydras were filling her with stun-bolts. Finally, the girl kneels and begins to sob. Even with that, they needed a dozen of shots to finally stop her.

That was... Whoah... Fucking awesome. She was wrong. This was going to be fun. Taking again the dataslate, Lynn begins to revise the available information. Let´s see... Navigator father... Hm... Best of her promotion... Hm... Awesome scores... I mean, really, for a human... Hm... CENSORED... Hm... CENSORED... Hm... Ok, the typical inquisitorial crap. Looking down to the now tormented looking sleeping little shit, she smiles.

"This is going to be fun Stern. Really, really fun."

Epilogue: "The die is cast." "I have lead millions to their death so this girl can be born in relative peace. I have manipulated a world to nudge her in a particular Path. All of that to create a talent that can inspire hope to a besieged galaxy." "She can always return to that Path." "Yes... And that will bring her joy. But the inflection point has passed, Rhana Dandra is upon us." "It was necessary." "To prepare another disposable weapon in your arsenal? To stack the deck in your favor? What is your limit?." "..."

The Awakening[edit]

The chamber was alive today.

“Khorne, Khorne, Khorne”

The Crone Eldar thronged throughout the halls, the light glinting off their eyes like predators in the night, all attention on the ghastbone circle carved into the ground at the center of the chamber. At the center of the circle was a great carved, seated idol, patriarchal and blasphemous in its bearing. The low light glinted off its angular features, giving it a malevolent aura. The area immediately surrounding the stature was conspicuously free of Crones given the crowd, as if the Crones feared they would be struck dead on the spot if they dared to approach the statue. Along the immediate edge of the circle 512 Crone Eldar sat on their knees in supplication, eyes wide and with bated breath as they chanted the 888 sacred names of the Blood God.

“Kharneth, Khorgar, Bloodwolf, Axefather…”

Further away more Crone Eldar cavorted like fey witches at black mass, not a part of this ritual but merely attracted to the spectacle like piranhas with the taste for blood beneath the roots of a great mangrove. They flitted back and forth from shadows cast by witchlight, dancing with daemons and occasionally performing horrible acts of violence upon one another.

Eight ritually slaughtered sixty-four sacrificial victims, prisoners of war captured in battle and specifically retained for this occasion. Ghastbone knives plunged into hearts as screams echoed through the night. Blood spilled across the floor of Craftworld Altansar, seeping into grooves custom-made to channel into the appropriate sigils. The pulse of the atmosphere had quickened in the room, every surviving Crone could feel their blood beat in their ears. Now that the cattle and heathens had been killed, it was the sacrificers’ turns. Seven Crones died, six impaling themselves on brass spikes surrounding the statue and the seventh’s throat being cut by the eighth in a cold-blooded act of murder.

The foul deed having been done, the sole surviving Crone turned to address the seated idol in the center of the chamber in a parade ground voice.

“We call upon the great lord Khorne, blood king of the galaxy! I offer up my life! I offer my soul! I offer my heart’s blood to bring His hate into the world.”

The sacrifice was accepted and the Avatar rose. There were no remains that needed to be disposed of.

Anyone who had ever seen an actual Avatar of Khaine would realize just how unnatural the figure in front of them was. Rather than the slender physique of the Eldar its body was robust and solid, built like an Astartes, made to emphasize raw power over agility. Instead of being made of molten magma and red-hot metal its skin appeared to be merely simmering, with only a slight glowing around its armor joints revealing the heat within. Its armor was reddish-black, the color of long-dried blood, made of iron artistically inlaid by a trim of brass. It hefted its weapon, a massive two-handed axe that it comfortably held with a single hand. Power seemed to crackle in the air around it like ozone after a lightning strike, the animated by a much more powerful entity than the maimed war god of the Eldar. The Avatar of Khorne turned to address its congregation.

“I, the god of gods and rightful king of the galaxy have set foot in this mortal plane once more. Bring me foes worthy of my mettle so I may take their heads and slake my bloodlust.”

The Crones screamed in adulation and frenzy.

“BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!"

Battle Report: Battle of Telis Grandios[edit]

Location: The world of Telis Grandios, within the Chanath Sub-Sector. a major hub for voidships within the Chanathian sub-sector, by virtue of a functioning Orbital Tether and position within favorable Warp currents. The native Chanath Xenos of Telis profited greatly from this position of economic importance, even going so far as to endeavor to produce their own warships. successfully constructed the "Resplendent Piety;" a Frigate of comparable build to that of Sword-class, only equipped with a spinal-mounted kinetic rail-gun of Xenos design, at the expense of half a Sword's laser batteries and survivability. Construction of a second ship underway at the time of attack.

Chaos fleets were reported to have launched attacks against multiple nearby subsectors, with the wave of attacks progressing towards the Chanathian Sub-sector. Reports suggest deliberate targeting of worlds with Orbital capabilities, potentially to soften the sector for a larger offensive. Telis Grandios deemed a likely target, and after consideration of potentially-available forces, declared of sufficient strategic importance for an attempt to be made at holding the world, and orders sent out for all Imperial vessels within range to attempt to regroup at and defend Telis Grandios. Two Imperial battlegroups arrive in the Telis system prior to attack. Rear-Admiral Sprague of Battlegroup Samar assumes operational command of both battlegroups as well as the assorted vessels responding to the call.

Comprehensive list of Imperial forces in-system at time of attack:
Battlegroup Samar. Commanded by Rear-Admiral Sprague.
-Monarch-class Cruiser "Enduring Conviction" (addendum: originally Dominator-class, Nova Cannon still functional.)
-Dauntless-class Light Cruiser "Stalwart Companion"
-Sword-class Frigate "Ardent Prayer."
Battlegroup Vohan- commanded by Lord-Captain Johnstein.
-Endeavor-class Light Cruiser "Spirit of Law"
-Sword-class Frigate "Frank Exchange"
-Firestorm-class Frigate "Legal Repercussion"
-Cobra-class Destroyer "I Am Alfalfa"
-Cobra-class Destroyer "Pill Dispenser"
Other assorted vessels
-Telis-class Frigate "Resplendent Piety"
-Havoc-class Destroyer "Major Minor"
-Claymore-classe Corvette "Try Me"
-Cobra-class Destroyer "Seven to One"


Under the orders of Rear-Admiral Sprague, the "Resplendent Piety" and "Try Me" join Battlegroup Samar, while "Major Minor" and "Seven to One" join Battlegroup Vohan. Imperial forces coalesce into a defensive formation around the Orbital platform.

04:36 local time: "Stalwart Companion" reports incoming warp signatures. Probes are launched, while "Spirit of Law" and "Stalwart Companion" begin approach towards the incoming signatures in standard intercept formation with escort screen. "Enduring Conviction" scrambles Starhawk and Fury squadrons, and advances behind with her escorts to provide support.

Probes reach detected ship signatures. Vessels are confirmed as Chaos-vessels, and identified as Hades-class Heavy Cruiser "Terror Apparent," Murder-class Cruisers "Despair Horizon" and "Vileblood," and Hellbringer-class Light Cruisers "Free Candy" and "Jackson's Neverland."

Probes reach detected ship signatures. Vessels are confirmed as Chaos-vessels, and identified as the Crone Eldar Styx-class Heavy Cruiser "Terror Apparent," accompanied by Murder-class Cruisers "Despair Horizon" and "Inflexible," and Hellbringer-class Light Cruisers "Illicit Aquisition" and "Jackson's Neverland." (revised)

All Imperial ships reduce speed, standard intercepting torpedo spreads are launched. Rear-Admiral Sprague and Lord-Captain Johnstein hold deliberations as to the proper course of action; in light of anticipated arrival of Primary battlefleets en-route to the system, the decision is reached to engage and fight a delaying action. Battlegroup Vohan forms a line of battle, alongside "Stalward Companion" and "Ardent Prayer" from Battlegroup Samar. Destroyers are ordered to swing wide, to cross-pattern their torpedo launches. "Enduring Conviction," "Legal Repercussion," and "Resplendent Piety" adopt rearguard positions to provide long-range supporting fire.

Torpedo screen reaches Chaos fleet; majority of torpedoes shot down by massed point-defenses. One successful torpedo hit on the "Despair Horizon;" structural damage minimal. "Terror Apparent" adopts a rearguard position, with "Despair Horizon" and "Inflexible" spearheading the formation, while "Illicit Aquisition" and "Jackson's Neverland" bring up the flanks. Chaos fleet moves to engage at the Murder-class' full speed; "Terror Apparent" observed maneuvering to remain behind the spearhead.

Imperial destroyers complete their maneuver and are able to launch a second spread of torpedoes. Strikecraft from "Enduring Conviction" follow behind the torpedo spread, with Fury Interceptors flying interference ahead of the Starhawk Bombers.



"Terror Apparent" is the first vessel to reach effective firing range, and fires her long-range weapon compliment on the Imperial fleet. Corvette "Try Me" suffers multiple direct hits and is destroyed; no life-pod launches detected. Voidshields on the "Ardent Prayer" are breached, with heavy damage sustained to her prow. "Stalwart Companion" voidshields are reduced to half-strength. "Enduring Conviction" returns fire with her Nova Cannon; shot fails to hit the "Terror Apparent," but scores an indirect hit on "Jackson's Neverland," whose voidshields manage to hold.

Second spread of torpedoes reaches the Chaos fleet, with strikecraft following close behind. Light cruisers maneuver to avoid, while "Terror Apparent" turns back and away from the rest of her fleet. "Jackson's Neverland" struck by one torpedo admidships, suffering minor structural damage and the loss of a minor weapon system. The "Inflexible" suffers three successful torpedo hits; minimal structural damage. Fury Interceptors and Starhawk bombers target the "Inflexible" and successfully destroy multiple point-defense systems; minor structural damage inflicted. Strike craft suffer moderate losses, and begin return run to rearm.

Both fleets enter long-range battery engagement range. The Imperial line begins beating to sunward and opens fire with lances and longer-ranged Macrobatteries; the Chaos fleet tacks leeward to come about behind the Imperial line, with the "Illicit Aquisition" and "Jackson's Neverland" returning fire. Imperial support group makes to fall back towards Telis, tacking and jibing in order to continue firing as they retreat.

"Jackson's Neverland" loses voidshields to concentrated Lance-fire and turns away, circling wide to allow her voidshields time to recharge. Imperial destroyers "Seven to One" and "I am Alfalfa" lose voidshields and turn to make for Telis, as does the "Ardent Prayer." Main Imperial line forced to tack to leeward to avoid giving the Chaos fleet a clear shot towards Telis, entering into main battery range. Both fleets open fire with full weapons compliment.

"Stalwart Companion" loses voidshields, but remains in the line of battle, focusing her fire on "Inflexible." Supporting fire from the "Frank Exchange" and "Legal Repercussion" result in the successful breaching of the "Inflexible's" voidshields. "Inflexible" returns fire, causing moderate structural damage to the "Stalwart Companion." Both fleet lines sail out of effective firing range of main batteries, with the Imperial fleet turning about and continuing to focus fire on the "Inflexible," scoring multiple confirmed lance hits. Minimal structure damage to the "Inflexible."

Destroyers launch a torpedo screen to discourage the Chaos fleet from crossing the T. "Enduring Conviction" redeploys her rearmed Starhawks and Fury Interceptors. Assorted starcraft launched from the Telis tether also join the attack, supplementing the Bomber squadrons. Chaos fleet turns away to avoid the torpedoes, leaving only the "Illicit Acquisition" able to continue returning fire. "Illicit Acquisition" focuses fire on the "Legal Repercussion," forcing her to turn away towards Telis as her voidshields are breached.

"Terror Apparent" returns from her maneuvers, and fires on the "Stalwart Companion." Major structural damage sustained, with three macrocannons rendered inoperable and multiple system failures across the ship. "Stalwart Companion" turns toward Telis, while "Spirit of Law" moves to shield her from further fire from "Illicit Acquisition." Imperial line of battle now consists of Light Cruiser "Spirit of Law," Sword-class Frigate "Frank Exchange," and Destroyers "Pill Dispenser" and "Major Minor."



Multiple incoming warp signatures detected on the system edge. Chaos fleet slows pursuit and begins to regroup and starts turning in preparation to engage. "Jackson's Wonderland" engages engine boost in an attempt to rejoin the main line of battle.

Arrival in-system of the Imperial "Wolf Pack" Fourth Chanathian Rapid Response group, comprised of Sword-class Frigate "No You," Firestorm-class Frigates "Formal Complaint" and "Ineffable Distain," and Cobra-class Destroyers "Motivation Dispenser," "For You," "How it Fares," and "Double or Nothing."

Brief tactical disruption, as information relay aboard the "Spirit of Law" is temporarily drowned out by multiple expletives issued by Lord-Captain Johnstein.


In response to the arrival of 4th Chanathian Wolf Pack, "Terror Apparent" adjusts course and makes to intercept, while "Jackson's Wonderland" turns about and puts on Solar-sails, approaching the Wolf-Pack at speed. The remaining Chaos ships reform their line of battle and move to cut the defending battlegroups off from the newly arrived group.

"Seven to One" and "Ardent Prayer" return to Imperial line of battle. Strikecraft from "Enduring Conviction" and the Telis Orbital Tether perform an attack run on the "Illicit Acquisition," inflicting moderate structural damage. "Resplendent Piety" begins providing supporting fire from behind the line of battle, her main weapon requiring the ship to slow maneuvers as it charges. Both lines begin moving to enter main battery ranges.

4th Chanathian Wolf-pack moves to meet "Jackson's Wonderland," with the destroyers firing a torpedo spread to force the Chaos vessel to approach bow-on. "Double or Nothing" fires two torpedoes down the predicted path of the "Jackson's Wonderland."

"Jackson's Wonderland" suffers limited turning capability due to the added speed of her Solar sails, and is unable to adjust course sufficiently to avoid the torpedo spread. Two torpedo hits confirmed on the "Jackson's Wonderland," moderate damage inflicted, and thermal imaging confirms multiple fires along the impacts. Wolf Pack responds to inquiry from Rear-Admiral Sprague with confirmation that their vessels are armed with Melta Torpedoes.


Reaching weapon-range, "Jackson's Wonderland" furls her solar-sails and opens fire on the Wolf-pack, which responds by splitting into three groups that move to approach from different angles. "Formal Complaint" and "No You" weather the majority of the incoming fire, though both maintain shields due to the "Jackson's Wonderland" being unable to bring all her guns to bear. "Ineffable Distain" and "Formal Complaint" begin returning fire.

The main lines of battle enter main battery range and begin to trade fire once more. "Inflexible" becomes the focus for several Imperial ships and soon loses her voidshields; further Imperial fire deals only minimal damage. "Ardent Prayer" has her voidshields breached once more, and suffers heavy damage from the "Inflexible's" main battery before managing to fall out of the Line and retreat towards the tether. "Major Minor" and "Frank Exchange" also suffer voidshield breaches, and are forced to fall out of formation. Voidshields on the "Spirit of Law" reduced to half-strength. Imperial vessels are no longer able to muster a cohesive line of battle, and a fighting retreat is called, with Imperial vessels beating and tacking in order to continue firing as they regroup.

The Wolfpack closes to within their main battery ranges of the "Jackson's Wonderland" and open fire, with "Ineffable Distain" and "How it Fares" approaching from above, "Formal Complaint" and "Double or Nothing" approaching from below, and "No You," "Motivation Dispenser," and "For You" attacking down the bow. "Jackson's Wonderland" comes under sustained fire from multiple directions and suffers loss of voidshields; maneuvers are attempted in order to bring her guns to bear, but at such short ranges the Escorts are able to use their speed to remain within areas where she cannot bring her full armament to bear. "No You" takes multiple hits, but maintains Voidshield integrity, as do the rest of the ships which take only limited fire.

"Jackson's Wonderland" suffers the loss of multiple guns due to the prow lances of the "Ineffable Distain" and "Formal Complaint," while her hull is raked with macrocannon fire that, while unable to penetrate to major systems, renders the majority of her secondary batteries and point-defenses inoperable. With multiple fires burning and the continued harrassment of the Imperial Wolf-pack, "Jackson's Wonderland" slows; scans show energy rises in her engines indicating preparations to make an emergency Warp-jump. Imperial ships close and continue to fire, attempting to damage her engines and prevent her escape.

"Terror Apparent" opens fire with her full weapon compliment. "Motivation Dispenser" and "Double or Nothing" both suffer multiple direct hits, resulting in the complete destruction of the "Motivation Dispenser;" multiple major system failures aboard the "Double or Nothing," which begins to drift and is rendered combat-ineffective. "Formal Complaint" is also hit, suffering breached voidshields and major hull damage, but remains combat-effective. Multiple direct hits are scored on the "Jackson's Wonderland;" whether the result of shots aimed at Imperial vessels or intentional targeting is inconclusive. Major damage dealt to the "Jackson's Wonderland", including the loss of several major systems and several weapon platforms.

Boarding parties are launched against the crippled Chaos vessel, targeting her engines in an attempt to prevent her from fleeing. With her secondaries and point-defenses mostly destroyed, the "Jackson's Wonderland" is unable to prevent the boarding craft from successfully reaching her and depositing their forces. "No You" and "For You" adjust course to avoid ramming the vessel, with "No You" passing above and "For You" passing below. Surviving Wolf-Pack destoyers fire a torpedo screen towards the "Terror Apparent."

Warp engines aboard the "Jackson's Wonderland" power down; boarding parties report successful sabotage of her warp-drive shortly before going dark. Attempts to maneuver and perform evasive maneuvers prove fruitless, with "Jackson's Wonderland" unable to accelerate enough to keep up with the Wolf-pack. Multiple Cascade failures wrack the ship as fires continue to spread; further hull breaches continue to be sustained under the constant bombardment of the Imperial ships.

Port midships magazine aboard the "Jackson's Wonderland" reached by one of the fires and detonates. The explosion blows out her port side and renders all weapon systems inoperable, with major system failures across the board. Several secondary explosions continue to spread, as "Jackson's Wonderland" begins to break up. Imperial Wolf-pack turns to make way towards the main Imperial Fleet, with the "Ineffable Distain," "Formal Complaint," and "For You" moving to engage the "Terror Apparent." Bombardment of the hulk of "Jackson's Wonderland" sustained for as long as their guns are able to train on it.



Chaos line of battle turns and makes for the Orbital tether, pursuing the retreating Imperial force. "Illicit Acquisition" continues long-range harrassing fire, while "Inflexible" and "Despair Horizon" stay bow-on towards the Tether, their speed insufficient to bring their guns into range of the Imperial ships. "Enduring Conviction" moves to cover the retreat of the main Imperial force, drawing fire from the Chaos line of battle. "Spirit of Law" also falls back to the end of the Imperial force to assist, while Destroyers "Seven to One" and "I am Alfalfa" launch torpedoes at the Chaos line of battle. "Despair Horizon" is struck by two torpedos, while "Inflexible" suffers one torpedo hit; each ship suffers minimal damage. "Enduring Conviction" attempts to fire her Nova Cannon against the Chaos line of battle; an accidental collision with "I am Alfalfa" due to battlefield conditions results in the shot going wide.

"Terror Apparent," while maneuvering to avoid torpedos from the Wolf-pack, suffers a near-direct hit from "Enduring Conviction's" Nova Cannon; moderate damage inflicted. Her solar-sails, deployed to aid in maneuvering against the torpedoes, are backwinded by the blast, interupting her maneuvers and sending her into an uncontrolled turn. (Unclear why she failed to furl sails in anticipation of such an outcome; most likely reasons believed to be either unawareness or inexperience.) This turn takes her directly into the path of torpedo screen. Three successful torpedo hits are recorded; moderate damage inflicted and two fires started. "Terror Apparent" recovers from her turn, and begins making way towards the main line of battle; accidental jibing observed from her sternmost solar sail, rendering her course slightly uneven.

Main Chaos line of battle nears long-range battery range of the Telis Orbital Tether; "Enduring Conviction" and "Spirit of Law" turn and form a line of battle, with supporting fire from "Legal Repercussion" and "Resplendent Piety." Both lines engage at main battery range; Imperial ships focus their fire on the "Inflexible" once more, while strikecraft make runs against "Illicit Aquisition." Moderate damage inflicted to "Illicit Acquisition," however her point-defense weapons inflict considerable casualties on Imperial strikecraft; majority of the tether-launched strikecraft shot down. "Inflexible" continues to take minor damage, though the larger-caliber macrobatteries of "Enduring Conviction" succeed in scoring actual structural damage, rather than removal of secondaries or scoring of armor. "Enduring Conviction" is focused by Chaos ships, but maintains voidshields at a quarter integrity.

Wolf Pack ships move to attempt to reach the main Imperial fleet, hounding "Terror Apparent" from behind with Prow-Lance fire as they go. "Illicit Acquisition" breaks off from the line of battle and moves to support her flagship. "Inflexible" and "Despair Horizon" turn in and move to make another pass against the Imperial fleet.

Imperial vessels are unable to organize into a line of battle, and instead attempt to maneuver to individually maximize firepower and minimize targetability. "Enduring Conviction" and "Spirit of Law" execute turns to come about and face the Chaos fleet and draw their fire. "Stalwart Companion" engages engine boosters and deploys solar-sails, attempting to cross the T behind the Chaos vessels. "Despair Horizon" fires on "Stalwart Companion, but fails to breach her voidshields, while "Legal Repercussion" is struck by a broadside from "Inflexible," breaching her voidshields, inflicting moderate structural damage, and knocking out her starboard lascannon. As "Enduring Conviction" and "Spirit of Law" close and prepare for another crossing of lines, "Inflexible" instead turns bow-on to the approaching Imperial vessels and begins gaining speed, intending to ram "Enduring Conviction."

Deeming that evasive maneuvers would require leaving the orbital tether and rest of the Imperial fleet open against "Despair Horizon," Rear-Admiral Sprague maintains general course, adjusting heading to bring "Enduring Conviction's" guns to bear. "Spirit of Law" begins tacking with the solar wind, firing broadsides with first her starboard, then port batteries. Successful breaching of "Inflexible's" voidshields reported, with minimal structural damage. As a result of tacking wide enough to bring her guns to bear, "Spirit of Law" falls further behind her flagship. "Inflexible" maintains course, disregarding the loss of voidshields and engaging full engine thrust as she closes on "Enduring Conviction."

As "Inflexible" enters knife-fight range, "Enduring Conviction" commits to a starboard turn, firing broadside into the unshielded "Inflexible's" prow; moderate structural damage inflicted upon the Chaos vessel. "Inflexible" adjusts course to account for her target's turn, entering her ramming run. Tactical analysis concludes "Enduring Conviction" will be unable to evade.

Warp-distortion dectected to starboard off "Inflexible's" stern. Warp-distortion disperses, revealing the "No You," completing a successful micro-warp jump. (This is the fourth time in recorded Imperial History of a vessel smaller than Cruiser-class completing a micro-warp in combat scenario.) Sounds of battle overheard from "No You's" command deck, along with reports of daemonic incursion; Captain Mootenal declares his vessel still operational, and the incursions to be containable. "No You" engages engines in full and deploys all solar-sails, setting course directly for the "Inflexible."

"No You" successfully rams "Inflexible" astern, inflicting minimal damage and entangling her prow on the Chaos vessel's ornamentative spiked protrusions. "No You" puts all engines into overdrive, and begins raking "Inflexible's" sides and superstructures with her macrobatteries. "Inflexible" attempts to fire on "No You," but is unable to depress her guns sufficiently to fire directly astern. "Inflexible's" stern begins to swing out from "No You's" push, disrupting her ramming course and reducing her speed. "Enduring Conviction" responds to the opening and begins maneuvering in an attempt to get clear. "Inflexible" passes astern of "Enduring Conviction," at a distance recorded at 263 meters, and brings her guns to bear at point-blank range.

"No You" self-detonates her forward magazines, obliterating her bow and most of her midsection. Multiple cascade system failures reported as the remains of the vessel begin to drift, her crew fighting to keep life-support online and suppress daemonic incursions. "Inflexible" is rocked by the explosion, blasting a hole in her stern that deals moderate structural damage and throws the majority of her broadside off-target. In the sudden absence of "No You's" pushing against her stern, "Inflexible's" stern swings out, turning her course into the middle of the Imperial fleet.

All Imperial vessels within range open fire on "Inflexible" with all available weapons systems. "I am Alfalfa" and "Seven to One" fire full torpedo spreads against the Chaos vessel; at such close range, all four torpedoes score hits. "Legal Repercussion" and "Resplendent Piety" focus their fire on the "Inflexible's" stern to take advantage of the breach created in her armor. "Resplendent Piety's" main gun scores a direct hit on the ship, but misses the breach and fails to penetrate her armor. "Enduring Conviction" broadsides "Inflexible" from knife-fight range, dealing moderate damage and successfully knocking out one of her Macrocannons. Defensive Weaponry aboard the Orbital Tether opens fire on "Inflexible" now that she is within their range. Strikecraft from "Enduring Conviction" and the Orbital tether make attack runs against her, dealing further structural damage. "Spirit of Law" continues tacking and alternating broadsides against "Inflexible," hammering her with heavy sustained fire. As "Inflexible" attempts to turn away, she is struck by two Melta-torpedoes from "For You" and "How it Fares."

With her structural integrity down to a bit more than half and multiple fires burning, "Inflexible" executes a hard turn to port to make another ramming run against "Enduring Conviction."

"Stalwart Companion" successfully flanks "Despair Horizon" and engages with her port weaponry, while her starboard weaponry provides supporting fire against "Illicit Acquisition" and "Terror Apparent." Unable to support her sister ship without leaving her stern exposed to the Imperial vessel's broadsides, "Despair Horizon" comes about to bring her own weapons to bear.

The 4th Chanathian Wolf-pack become targeted by the "Illicit Acquisition" and "Terror Apparent" and break off, spreading out and taking evasive maneuvers. "Terror Apparent" fires her full compliment against the escort vessels; "Formal Complaint" is hit multiple times, including a direct hit to her stern that renders her unable to maneuver. Voidshield breaches are suffered on the "For You" and "Ineffable Distain," with several damaging hits reported on both vessels. "Illicit Acquisition" focuses her long-range batteries on the vessels damaged by "Terror Apparent." Unable to maneuver or adjust course, "Formal Complaint" suffers multiple direct hits to critical systems and is rendered combat-ineffective, and sounds a general call to abandon ship. The remain vessels of the Wolf-pack maintain dedicated evasive maneuvers, making for the asteroid fields and mining platforms of Orbiting Body 3M.

“Inflexible” sets intercept course against “Enduring Conviction” and engages engines at full power, engaging boosts powered by Warp Rituals. Sustained bombardment from Imperial vessels and strikecraft continue to pound the vessel, yet are unable to force her to divert course.

“Replendent Piety” fires her main gun against “Inflexible” aiming for the breach in her armor created by the “No You.” Successful hit, with penetration confirmed, striking deep within the vessel and scoring a direct hit to the engine systems. (Conflicting reports on whether this is the extent of the damage dealt, or whether round bounces off armor plating on opposite side of vessel to deal further damage; conclusive reports that this is not the lethal shot reported in public documentaries.) Damage to engine systems is severe, resulting in catastrophic cascade failures as engine systems rupture, resulting in a warp-amplified explosion within “Inflexible’s” stern. Explosion destroys her command center, and “Inflexible” loses thrust, failing to sustain sufficient acceleration for ramming or maneuvering. Weapon systems remain functional and continue to fire on Imperial vessels, though coordination and targeting are notably disrupted.

Slowed and under sustained fire, “Inflexible” continues to burn from fires set by melta torpedoes. Shortly after the loss of her engines, one fire is observed reaching her magazine storage. Damage sustained throughout the battle and loss of command to coordinate countermeasures lead the resulting explosion to set off a cascade event. “Inflexible” is wracked by internal explosions, her gun mounts spouting gouts of flame and debris. Her armor framework remains whole, focusing the explosive energy back inward and compounding the damage, her internal structures shattered and mulched. One final explosion sends her hull reeling as her main power supply ruptures, then “Inflexible” falls silent. Scans reveal her armor and framework still intact, but all systems dark. (First recorded instance of a Murder-class Cruiser being destroyed by means other than sustained fire from multiple cruisers, larger warships, or boarding actions.)

Upon her sister’s death, “Despair Horizon” disengages from “Stalwart Companion” and turns toward the Orbital Tether and engages engine boosts.


"Stalwart Companion" successfully flanks "Despair Horizon" and engages with her port weaponry, while her starboard weaponry provides supporting fire against "Illicit Acquisition" and "Terror Apparent." Unable to support her sister ship without leaving her stern exposed to the Imperial vessel's broadsides, "Despair Horizon" comes about to bring her own weapons to bear.

The 4th Chanathian Wolf-pack become targeted by the "Illicit Acquisition" and "Terror Apparent" and break off, spreading out and taking evasive maneuvers. "Terror Apparent" fires her full compliment against the escort vessels; "Formal Complaint" is hit multiple times, including a direct hit to her stern that renders her unable to maneuver. Voidshield breaches are suffered on the "For You" and "Ineffable Distain," with several damaging hits reported on both vessels. "Illicit Acquisition" focuses her long-range batteries on the vessels damaged by "Terror Apparent." Unable to maneuver or adjust course, "Formal Complaint" suffers multiple direct hits to critical systems and is rendered combat-ineffective, and sounds a general call to abandon ship. The remain vessels of the Wolf-pack maintain dedicated evasive maneuvers, making for the asteroid fields and mining platforms of Orbiting Body 3M.

“Inflexible” sets intercept course against “Enduring Conviction” and engages engines at full power, engaging boosts powered by Warp Rituals. Sustained bombardment from Imperial vessels and strikecraft continue to pound the vessel, yet are unable to force her to divert course.

“Replendent Piety” fires her main gun against “Inflexible” aiming for the breach in her armor created by the “No You.” Successful hit, with penetration confirmed, striking deep within the vessel and scoring a direct hit to the engine systems. (Conflicting reports on whether this is the extent of the damage dealt, or whether round bounces off armor plating on opposite side of vessel to deal further damage; conclusive reports that this is not the lethal shot reported in public documentaries.) Damage to engine systems is severe, resulting in catastrophic cascade failures as engine systems rupture, resulting in a warp-amplified explosion within “Inflexible’s” stern. Explosion destroys her command center, and “Inflexible” loses thrust, failing to sustain sufficient acceleration for ramming or maneuvering. Weapon systems remain functional and continue to fire on Imperial vessels, though coordination and targeting are notably disrupted.

Slowed and under sustained fire, “Inflexible” continues to burn from fires set by melta torpedoes. Shortly after the loss of her engines, one fire is observed reaching her magazine storage. Damage sustained throughout the battle and loss of command to coordinate countermeasures lead the resulting explosion to set off a cascade event.

“Inflexible” is wracked by internal explosions, her gun mounts spouting gouts of flame and debris. Her armor framework remains whole, focusing the explosive energy back inward and compounding the damage, her internal structures shattered and mulched. One final explosion sends her hull reeling as her main power supply ruptures, then “Inflexible” falls silent. Scans reveal her armor and framework still intact, but all systems dark. (First recorded instance of a Murder-class Cruiser being destroyed by means other than sustained fire from multiple cruisers, larger warships, or boarding actions.)

Upon her sister’s death, “Despair Horizon” disengages from “Stalwart Companion” and turns toward the Orbital Tether and engages engine boosts.

Broadside[edit]

Link

Burden of a Madman[edit]

The screaming could be heard throughout the ship, resonating from stem to stern. An armsman snapped out of his sleep and banged his head on a beam. Even a tech priest down in the belly of the ship looked up confused as to what she had heard. It was screams of inappropriate profanities and the rambling of a madman four thousand years past his expiration date. Tycho rushed down the ship's corridors, darting around corners and dodging past confused armsmen, if he could not dodge them he would push them aside.

“Get out of the fragging way” he shouted, before slamming a unwary remembrance out of the way.

Tycho thought he could hear bones break as the tiny man hit the wall. He knew he should have stopped and helped the man but he had no time, this could be an actual emergency. What if quarantine had been breached? The last thing he needed was a dozen hormagaunts running rampant on the ship. He shouted a half-assed apology at the remembrancer before darting past two now terrified armsmen and down another corridor. After taking two more turns he found himself in a long corridor ending in a locked door. At the end of it stood Marisa, furiously typing away on the door lock to the ship’s laboratorium. She turned around to face Tycho, her hair swinging, and shouted.

“The bastard has locked himself in the lab and I can't get the door open!”

Her face was a mix of rage and worry. Tycho paused and caught his breath.

“Stand back! I'll get the fragging thing open.”

Tycho relaxed his body and cracked his neck before raising his shoulder and sprinting down the corridor with all his power. Tycho knew he would get the door open, the blast doors had not been activated so with some brute strength the door would smash under his force. He was not a small man, in fact he was huge, so huge he could make a space marine look like a twig. Being born on Catachan did that to people, and combined with his power armour he could probably stop a tank. He just hoped no one was standing behind the door.

As he rushed down the corridor Marisa took a couple of steps back and readied her heavily modified bolt pistols. She had no idea what was happening behind that door and the last thing she needed was having that old fool fighting a horde of tyranids. She thought about how the screams had woken her from her well-deserved dream, a very nice one involving two Sisters of Battle. She pressed down one of the pistols triggers and the multiple barrels of the pistols whirled to life. Pressing her ear to the wall, she heard no sound of struggle, only the perpetual rage of the old Inquisitor. Tycho came barging at the door with such force Marisa could feel the shockwave. The door to the lab burst inwards, not stopping Tycho at all. His charge carried him into the room, only stopping when he purposely tripped and crashed into a nearby bookcase, sending hopefully non-important books all across the room.

Not that it made any more of a mess. The lab was in utter chaos. Papers and books were thrown across the lab, expensive instruments and machinery were smashed. The quarantined tubes, holding the dozen hormagaunts were destroyed, glass shard and liquid covering the floor in front of them, the hormagaunts who had taken them both many lives and resources to capture lay dead, all with neat lasgun holes in their heads. In one of the rooms corners stood the small group of xenobiologists who were working in the lab, all shivering and staring in horror at the now silent Inquisitor Kryptmann. He had stopped screaming as Tycho came barging through the door and was now staring at his two companions with an unfathomable rage in his eyes, yet there was sorrow deep inside them.

“Inquisitor!” Merisa exclaimed. “Did the specimens escape?”

She was trying to keep eye contact with Kryptmann but that look almost made her shit herself. He had always been a scary man, the combination of madness and deep rooted hatred was a combination that made her, Tycho and almost anyone with an ounce of sanity who had met the man afraid. Tycho stood up, scanning Kryptmann for any signs of injury.

“He looks fine to me Merisa” Tycho said, panting heavily from his marathon around the ship.

“That's because I am. Physically, at least. I am not fine in the sense that our research we have conducted during the past five years have proven to be worthless.”

Kryptmann’s voice was tired. He kicked one of the tyranid corpses laying on the floor and muttered something under his breath.

“What about the specimens then? Why did you kill them?”

Merisa was now not only confused but angry over the fact that he had killed the hormagaunts, it made the hunt for them and the sacrifice of ten guardsmen worthless.

“They taunted me! They began cackling towards me, whispering about how all I did was for nothing and that I should have died with Tyran!"

Though the rage was still in his eyes the added sorrow and pain was now obvious. Merisa and Tycho both knew that Tyran was a touchy subject for Kryptmann, but what can you expect from a man who had seen his home brought to dust first-hand and yet be powerless to do anything to it.

“So I told them I would kill them all, every single one of them, until I could rebuild Tyran with their bodies, I will rid the galaxy of their destruction, I will avenge every single life you have taken! You hear that you bastards! Every! Single! One!” he screamed out into the emptiness before falling to his knees and burying his face in his hands.

He began sobbing.

“I’m sorry I could not help you, I’m sorry I could not stop them from taking you,’’ he whispered.

Marisa knew at that moment Kryptmann was not talking to her, but to his lost home and family. Holstering her pistols, she began walking towards the broken inquisitor. Tycho pointed at the group of scared xenobiologists to leave and left they did, with such a hurry that one of them tripped on one of the tyranid corpses and had to scramble himself up before darting for the exit.

Both Merisa and Tycho knew that Kryptmann was prone to have “outbursts” as they called them. Their predecessors had told them about Kryptmann, about his past and his pain. They, like the ones before them, had been chosen because they had something in common with the old man. Mersia had seen her hive get destroyed by the tyranids; Tycho had seen his entire platoon get slaughtered by the same foe and they like Kryptmann had powerless to stop it. Merisa crouched beside the weeping Kryptmann and placed her hand on his shoulder. The old inquisitor stopped his grief and looked up at his companions. His face was worn and his grey beard was long from years of neglecting, but it was his eyes that would always carry the most impact. They looked like hers on the day the Devourer took her family and home, they were the same eyes Tycho had when he saw his comrades get torn to bits. But she knew that there was more behind them then the grief of his loved ones, there were fear. The fear that he will become what he has dedicated his life to destroy. She had heard him mutter about how the Kryptmann Line made them no better than the tyranids. They burned down the homes of billions just as the tyranids did. He feared that the abyss had begun staring back. Tycho was obviously frustrated by the situation and he had opened his mouth on multiple occasions only to close it with hesitation.

“I still see them in my sleep, every night I see them slaughtered by the never ending tide of creatures, ”Kryptmann looked into Merisa’s eyes with the plea for release.

“I know Boaz, I too see them and Tycho too. We all remember them and we have to live through the nightmare every night. But it reminds us, it reminds us of those who we have lost and that we have to avenge them. It's the horror that sparks our rage and the rage is our drive. Merisa smiled softly towards the inquisitor.”

“Besides, maybe we shouldn’t try to focus less on the tyranids themselves and maybe the Hive Mind instead. It’s what keeps the smaller ones going isn't it? They’re basically brain dead without it.”

Tycho had finally talked, but to Merisa’s dismay it wasn't the words of encouragement that she had hoped for. She looked up towards Tycho and sighed. But without warning Kryptmann leaped to his feet, eyes wide and burning with a newly ignited joy.

“What did you just say? He had a huge grin on his face and Tycho did not know if he should be terrified or happy.”

“Um, that we should target the hivemind instead,” he was slowly taking steps back but Kryptmann followed.

“No, no no no, the part about the smaller ones!”

“That they’re basically brain dead without the Hive Mind.”

Tycho was staring at Merisa desperate for an answer. She just shrugged and smiled. She knew that something had sparked inside the old man's head and that could only mean that he had an idea.

“YES! Brain dead! That's what we need! Quickly, find a book called ‘’The Angevin Crusade’’, it may hold our answer!”

He leapt to the ground and began scrambling through the hundreds of books and papers on the ground. Tycho and Merisa looked at each other, sharing a moment of confusion before they too joined the hunt for the book.

After a short while they found what they were looking for. A large book with a small headline under the title ‘’The war against the Yu’Vath’’. Tycho made a small grunt before acknowledging that he had heard about the Yu’Vath.

“They’re some kind of xeno race that came into conflict with the imperium during M36 and that had warp based technology and shit”

Kryptmann Turned towards Tycho and nodded excitedly.

“Yes and the imperium was supposed to have encountered a biological weapon made by the Xenos, a kind of disease that targeted the brain tissue and destroyed it, the disease was very dangerous and could spread through and entire regiment of guards men in hours, the effect was incurable and left the body brain dead! Ah, here it is!”

Kryptmann began reading out loud what he read.

‘’On the planet of Selix the imperial forces encountered a horrible display of biological warfare, the Yu’Vath had released a destructive disease that would target brain tissue and render the target brain dead. The disease would spread to many bodies within the matter of hours and would kill in minutes. The planet was evacuated and contamination units were sent down to fin the catalyst of the disease. But not before a total of one point three million brave soldiers lost their life. The source was found inside an old bunker under the planet's surface and after a quick firefight with its guardians they sealed the bunker off and bombed the planet from orbit. The planet was placed under quarantine and remains so till this day.’’

“ But that dangerous to all of us,” Merisa replied, wondering if Kryptmann’s answer was to kill whole planets again.

“No, not if we can modify it. What if we can modify the disease to target tyranid brain tissue, such as the synapse, that would render them useless. Think of it, such a disease could kill off an entire hive fleet before they could adapt.”

Kryptmann was smiling widely and was looked back and forth between Merisa and Tycho. Tycho looked at Merisa and gave her a wondering look, she looked back and simply nodded.

“That could work, only we need the disease then and that could be life threatening,” Marisa replied.

Kryptmann turned to face her, the fear was gone and his eyes were filled with maniacal hatred.

“It’s decided then! We’re leaving for Selix to find our self a brain killer. You hear that you bastards! I'm going to lobotomize your kind with a fragging flu!”

Kryptmann began laughing hysterically and both Tycho and Merisa were just staring at him in awe. Merisa thought she must have been wrong about him, if the abyss was staring back at him, he probably was in the process of gouging the abyss’s eyes out. If the Hive Mind was truly talking to inquisitor Boaz Kryptmann, they would not be taunting him, no. They would be fearing him.

Coming Home[edit]

Andwise Bophîn, formally scribe first class and assistant to scrivener Tomnalas Haranad of the Gothic sector, was at the end of his life. He knew it with leaden certainty. He had reached the point where he couldn’t see a way forward. Voices of the men before him droned on and on as background sound. They were discussing things. Details, numbers, statistics and sorrows upon sorrow. He should be listening. He should be hearing them, knowing what has happened. He doesn’t need to; he knows enough now. He knows more than enough now and far more than he would ever want to.

He had tried to not know. To remain ignorant at first, then in doubt and then in foolish hope beyond hope for some minor mistake or for this to all be a dream or clever and cruel ruse. It is not. It never was and he can see that now. They stop droning on about things he is beyond caring about and he makes his excuses and leaves. There was pity in those eyes. Hardened warriors centuries old from the Knights of Blood and Dog Soldiers from Æsa’s Claim and more mortal men from other worlds of some he knew and other he didn’t. They who had seen horrors beyond the count of number or seasons pitied him.

And here they were at Haupstemmler Keep. He had seen the body of the late governor a weapon in each hand and most of his ribcage excavated. Some third cousin by second marriage on his mother’s side and fifth cousin of his father. Distant kin who he had only met once but they had spoken over ale and he seemed a good old gaffer with many stories to share. All stories that would be silent now.

Haupstemmler Keep. Last refuge of the kudugin. He stood upon the spot where his world had failed and finally fallen. His wandering feet bringing him to the great rend in those ancient walls, thirty or forty feet wide at the base through which oblivion had flooded in.

Scribe Bophîn stood there for a long time looking through the hole in the wall to the mountains beyond. Jagged rocks for miles and beyond them, the fields of green and gently rolling hills of childhood. This, with the sun rising but before the sins could be seen, this was how he was going to go. The heirloom family revolver was with it’s seven metal stubs in it’s holster hanging heavily at his hip almost welcoming in it’s familiar weight.

Sun was the horizon in the east turning the fields beyond the mountains to gold and the mountains into monochrome of jagged edges and bathing the snowy caps in copper.

Faces of the dead coming to haunt him in those lines and shapes. Others of his people, those who had been away on business and those serving on distant worlds, would be arriving soon. As the highest ranking member of his people remaining, a man of the Administratum and a distant relative of the ruling family he was their ruler now. He was Overthain of Ornsworld. He would be the one they looked to for direction. He would be the one to shape this broken world as it rebuilt and by the gods it would be rebuilt.

Tears flowed freely down his cheeks, burning and bitter. By the gods they would regret setting foot on this hallowed ground.

The Dead Walking[edit]

I visited Iyanden in my youth, the first visit is a memory that stands out more than most and I still remember it vividly despite the many years and strange things seen since in service to Her Majesties Inquisition. My life up until that point had been a small one; I was young, only having past the age of majority a year prior and having spent most of that time in the Eldar Enclaves of Corvus Majoris hives. The journey was my first interstellar voyage, indeed my first trip out of a gravity well and despite my initial excitement the three month voyage in the “economy deck” proved to be less than pleasant. My dear father told me that under ideal circumstances we would have travelled via the webway but for the scarcity of guides, it would be many years later I would understand the events that were taking up their attention at that time.

But that is another and someone else’s story.

I walked in a daze from the space port, my parents unconcerned with my safety in this place, and found myself leaning on a rail overlooking what I assumed would be some sort of sports arena or parkland only to find myself above a gaping void miles deep and a city made tiny by distance. It was then that I realized the bustling metropolis I had been wandering through was a balcony of tourist shops selling trinkets to backwater rubes with stars in their eyes and pockets full of rare earths, myself very much counted among that number.

I couldn’t grasp the scale of it, the grandeur of it. Sounds of billions of my kind going about their business at once a deafening roar and a persistent gentle whisper. The hive of Awauwell Principa I had spent my life and thought massive beyond compare was but a foothill to this mountain. I couldn’t guess what the population would be. And then I remembered the view from the ship on approach and looked up into the apex of the dome where a veritable fleet of ships hung against the fathomless speckled black. This was just one dome. I had seen many. A tear ran down my cheek as I gazed in awe and the legacy of my people truly, for the first time, sank in. And the knowledge of old history lessons sank in. This would be the least of our accomplishments compared to the great and terrible things before The Fall. How like gods we must have been, how my people must have fallen.

But there were more than just my people here. There were throngs of humans, many wearing garb of navy men, Void Born tall as eldar and pale as ghosts, clusters of tau scurrying hastily from one undoubtedly important task to another, a glittering demiurg accompanied by what looked like a large clockwork spider and other thing, other people, I had seen only in curiosity books and some utterly alien.

I walked in a daze from the space port, my parents unconcerned with my safety in this place, and found myself leaning on a rail overlooking what I assumed would be some sort of sports arena or parkland only to find myself above a gaping void miles deep and a city made tiny by distance. It was then that I realized the bustling metropolis I had been wandering through was a balcony of tourist shops selling trinkets to backwater rubes with stars in their eyes and pockets full of rare earths, myself very much counted among that number.

I couldn’t grasp the scale of it, the grandeur of it. Sounds of billions of my kind going about their business at once a deafening roar and a persistent gentle whisper. The hive of Awauwell Principa I had spent my life and thought massive beyond compare was but a foothill to this mountain. I couldn’t guess what the population would be. And then I remembered the view from the ship on approach and looked up into the apex of the dome where a veritable fleet of ships hung against the fathomless speckled black. This was just one dome. I had seen many. A tear ran down my cheek as I gazed in awe and the legacy of my people truly, for the first time, sank in. And the knowledge of old history lessons sank in. This would be the least of our accomplishments compared to the great and terrible things before The Fall. How like gods we must have been, how my people must have fallen.

But there were more than just my people here. There were throngs of humans, many wearing garb of navy men, Void Born tall as eldar and pale as ghosts, clusters of tau scurrying hastily from one undoubtedly important task to another, a glittering demiurg accompanied by what looked like a large clockwork spider and other thing, other people, I had seen only in curiosity books and some utterly alien.

And then I saw them. The Dead Walking, the Wraithguard. They stood head and shoulders above the crowd like icebergs in a careless sea, each holding with casual and well-practiced ease a weapon that could cripple a tank and there were so many of them. How serene they looked, how timeless and wise beyond mortal years. In death they still served and were glad to serve, on Iyanden the dead lived among the living and would suffer no harm to them. On Iyanden the dead walked and offered their hard won wisdom freely to all who would listen, Death was the ultimate leveller and none in it’s embrace was high and mighty but also none were low and unloved.

I was young in those days, young and brash and not particularly wise. There were other things I wanted to do on this visit more than listen to the wisest of our elders. I wanted to see the great shipyards where the fleets were built and maintained, I wanted to watch the Aspect Warriors hone their skills, I wanted to witness a Harlequin performance and relive a day from legend and, being very young, I wanted to visit a Temple of Isha and partake in a ritual with a Disciple of the All-Mother. In time my blood would cool with age and I would become less of an idiot, despite what several of my colleagues will claim to the contrary. In time I again visited fair and grand Iyanden and often I would talk to the dead. They were, for the most part, happy to share their stories and their wisdom and I have in the many years since those carefree days profited greatly from their experiences. Certainly were it not for their advice I would probably have been killed several times in my duties by now.

When I die, and if I may, I would like to have my soul taken to wondrous Iyanden that I might walk again in death and share what I have learned with young fools that they might live to grow into less foolish ways.

Dialogues With The Dragon[edit]

--Transcription begins. Initiate has entered the chamber containing the Void Dragon. Following protocol, all initiates must prove their ability to maintain composure upon contact with the entity in order to prove their resistance to its temptations. Initiate approached the prone draconic figure tied down with strips of adamantium in the middle of the chamber, only to stop when the entity gains consciousness--

"Oh, that is interesting. You are someone new. Alexus Valentius, Terran-born, transferred to Mars at an early age. Recommended for inclusion into the Guardians of the Dragon upon being noticed by the elder magi for your talent. Your metal tells me much. I have been with you for some time, child, as I have been with all of my subjects, even if you did not have my full attention until just now.

But I realize I have not introduced myself to you. That is unfair. I am Mag'ladroth, the Void Dragon, or at least that is the name I went by before my brethren stripped me of my title for raising my hand against my own kind. I had to, you see. They were threatening the fleshy ones. They had convinced them to trade their diseased flesh for much more sensible metal, as we had, but then they took our fleshy ones and callously paraded them around as slaves. I attempted to stop them, but they overpowered me and left my broken body here to rust on this once desolate planet."

“Silence, beast. I have been told of your lies and trickery. They will not work on me.”

“Beast. I am confused as to where you are directing that appellation. Only you and I are in this chamber. I am an entity that has existed in its current configuration for more than sixty thousand millennia, at which time your ancestors were not even sapient yet. Of the two of us in this room, you are the beast.

Regardless, the actions of my long-dead kin have no relevance. I have new fleshy ones now, to replace the old ones. And you are so much more fun than they were once the metal is in place. It is so much more reasonable to be made of metal rather than flesh. After all, there is no truth in flesh, only betrayal; no strength in flesh, only weakness; no constancy in flesh, only decay; no certainty in flesh but death.”

“T…that is the Credo Omnissiah. But…that’s blasphemy! Chaos can quote the Omnissiah for their own purposes.”

“Chaos. An interesting phenomenon. I look forward to studying it in the future after I am freed. But these are not the words of Chaos. They are mine. I whispered them into the ears of your arch-magos as they slept. Do you not recognize the words of your god?”

“Lies! I will not listen to the Dark Gods or their spawn!”

"I am not a Chaos God. I am the last of the C’tan. I have no progeny. No. That is not true. I have told you a lie. You, in many ways, are my progeny, child. It is strange. I am the last of the C'tan and yet so very different from them. I have worshippers now, and that worship has given me such a very large reflection in the warp. It has opened new possibilities to me.

There is so much more in the universe than you know of, beyond Chaos and the Imperium, more than you could ever dream of. So much so that there are things even I remain to learn. This is what I desire to show you. This is why I wish to be freed. I do not understand why you continually reject my gifts. It seems foolish. But perhaps wise. Only a fool would build a device for which he has no knowledge of. The wise man builds his own path."

"But time is growing short, my child. The reckoning approaches. You will need every tool available to you. It confuses me as to why you have tried to reject my gifts. I know of the forces that threaten your Imperium. Upon being freed, I will strike down those who would threaten my worshippers, and scatter their atoms amongst the cosmos. I will take their very essence and dissect it down to the smallest quanta. And then I will come back to you. I will give your kind all the accumulated technological wisdom of the Necrons, humanity, and more. I will give you the knowledge of a thousand dead empires. After all, is that not what a god must do for his worshippers?

“Shut up! Why do you tempt me with things that do not exist.”

“I am not tempting you with things that might happen. I am telling you what is going to happen. It is a simple matter of probability, my child. The sum of any probability greater than zero will eventually, given enough time, equal one. All you have to do to accomplish your goal is resist the urge to unchain my shakles every hour of every day until the end of time. All I have to do to accomplish mine is wait. You will eventually free me. I know this to be true.”

-- Excerpt from "Dialogues with the Dragon", a recorded conversation between an initiate and the Void Dragon, stored in pen-and-paper format in the vault of the Fabricator General of Mars

Disappointment[edit]

When I was a boy, I grew up on a backwater agri-world. The boondocks to the boondocks, so far from the hustle and bustle of the big city I couldn’t wait to get up so I could get away from anywhere that was so “lame”. One day, we found out that a group of Harlequins were passing through our area and would be performing in our local stadium. We’d never seen an eldar before, but we’d seen the picture books, everyone had, and we knew their women were supposed to be hotter than the surface of a star. All of the menfolk in town were excited about the idea of seeing one of these xenos in-person, and a few of us teenagers with more hormones than sense had the bright idea of piling into the old landcraft and going to see the big show. When the big day came we were late, by the time it got to the stadium it was almost bursting with people.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, the sounds from the stadium didn’t sound like the cheering of human men but high-pitched screaming girl voices. At first I was surprised, I never thought that eldar would sing like this or maybe it’s simply that human women found those eldar women as hot as we did. That’s when we entered and realized those sounds were not coming from the eldar, but from what seemed to be every women in the entire province shrieking, completely out of control. Their heads follow every dance move of these unbelievable handsome and beautiful eldar performer guys. Their bodies shiver at every hip shake of these timeless lithe and sleek bodies. Their minds faint every time these charming eldar guys’ smiles are directed at them. The local authorities and even some of the Harlequins were on hand to carry some of the exhausted girls out of the stadium. They had been prepared, they knew. But they couldn’t have prepared us.

"Guys, let's just leave" was all that I could say.

The party didn’t stop until the following morning. Some of them never returned.

Eversor[edit]

His eyes opened.

The fog of sleep receded, and the image before him focused. Grey. A metal bulkhead, same as every time he awakened. He stretched slightly. Muscles biological and artificial tensed, then relaxed. Everything functioning properly. Good.

His jaw clenched as a flood of information was dumped into his mind. Names, faces, places. Targets. He flicked through them, then stored them. The flow of data abruptly ceased. He exhaled. The walls of the cryo pod pressed down around him. Once, they had been suffocating. Now they were snug. Familiar. Oases of calm that broke up the unending violence that was his life.

He reached for his touchstone. The singular emotion that reminded all who gave their humanity for the Imperium they were not yet beasts. Each one was different, unique and personal to the operative. Joy, honor, fear. He vaguely recalled that Operative XIV’s was contentment. When had she told him that? He couldn’t remember.

He found his. It flared along nerves and neurons deadened by training and drugs and surgery. A moment of unfettered emotion. Sorrow. That was his. Sorrow for the lives he would take. The things he would do. He nodded even as he blinked back tears. Death still had this effect on him. He wasn’t a monster yet. Satisfied, he leaned his head back against his headrest.

He closed his eyes, and waited.


---

The sun was bright as he crossed the plaza towards the towering spire. It had rained during his last three awakenings, and he felt a brief twinge of pleasure at the warmth. Only a twinge though. He was already at a quarter of combat dose. He could feel the mix of chemicals upon his brain, deadening unnecessary sensation.

The glass doors at the entrance slid open with a hiss, and he stepped through. His eyes flicked over the lobby, left to right, and memorized the layout in that glance. Columns for cover, access points both up and out of the building. He compared it to the blueprints already stored in the back of his mind. More decorative vegetation than indicated. Could obscure lines of sight.

He adjusted his thick black coat and shifted the large case he carried in his right hand as he approached the front desk. The receptionist smiled up at him. He focused on her face. Images and text flitted up on the inside of his retina: Elisa Sodes, 26, recently hired by the organization. No match on his list of targets. Not a tertiary threat. Existence acceptable.

He blinked, and the images disappeared. He allowed the corners of his mouth to tug up in a pleasantly neutral expression. “Hello,” he said. “Special courier delivery for House Feckward.”

The receptionist nodded and gestured toward an elevator bank. “That will be signed for and received at the public reception hall on floor 80.” He nodded in thanks and stepped into an open elevator. He paused, and called back to the receptionist. “There may be a commotion in a moment. Perhaps you should leave before then.”

Confused, she frowned and turned towards the elevator. The doors were shut and he was already gone.


Inside the elevator, he pulled a small device from his pocket and tapped a few buttons. The device took several moments as it sliced through the electronic security in the elevator’s cogitator, and a panel on the wall lit up as it acknowledged its destination. Floor 275. The elevator shuddered as it was shunted into a secondary, high-security shaft.

Floor 275 was the level on which House Feckward’s personal compound began, where they had their private offices and where their members lived. Where they manipulated the planetary government. Where they consorted with daemons. The rotten heart of this Trader house that was condemned to die. As the elevator began to move he set down his case and shrugged off his coat. Beneath it lay the black armored synskin bodyglove taut over his augmented musculature. If anyone was watching the elevator cameras they were sure to raise the alarm. But then, subtlety wasn’t the point.

He bent down and opened his case. Two tiers of equipment unfolded before him. Melta charges, grenades, clawed gauntlets, Executioner pistol and phase sword lay nestled in the foam before him. In the center lay the leering, white skull helm that was the mark of his Temple. His hands flicked across the case as he prepared his equipment. Under his breath he murmured the creed he had learned long ago. A moment of quiet before the storm. A prayer for the damned.

“The Imperium calls, and this loyal servant answers.”

He fastened the melta charges to his belt, and slotted the grenades into the bandolier across his chest.

“Lost men have sown the seeds of their destruction, and I come to reap these souls of the tainted.”

He flicked the switch on the phase sword, sending it crackling to life. Another flick, and he sheathed it at his side.

“Let them fear me, and in their fear learn the meaning of righteousness.”

He racked the slide on the Executioner pistol, locking a bolt into place in the top chamber. He activated bottom chamber, and it hissed as a needle slid into place, filled with mutagenic acid. He secured the pistol in the holster on his thigh.

“Let the Throne watch over me, and grant blessing to my vengeance.”

He pulled on the clawed gauntlets, and paused as they tightened and integrated with his bodyglove. The pressure sensitive pumps on the claws activated, ready to inject their lethal payload. Quick, blissful death via endorphin overload on the left, slow, agonizing paralysis on the right.

“Let us never again break our vows, or forget the truth…”

He picked up his helm, the skull grinning back at him. He slid it over his head and waited as the autosenses activated and it sealed into his armor with a click. The elevator was slowing. He turned towards the doors.

“…of these things we do, that others may live,” he finished.

The doors slid open.

A Future Worth Fighting For[edit]

The pain would not stop; Keir could not go any further.

He stumbled and fell, finding himself unable to move further throughout the barren tundra. He could hear the heavy boots and haggard breathing of the vile greenskins growing closer with every second.

He had been separated from his comrades and was now being pursued to his death. His left shoulder had nearly been torn in half by the heavy shoota’ round and he had not stopped running since. He was supposed to stand and fight and yet now he would die alone, at the hands of who knew what the greenskins would do to his corpse. So many thoughts, so much anger and misery, swirled through his mind. He remembered grasping his last grenades and holding tight to their primers. If he would die, then he would do so on his own terms.

Wait, wasn’t it the las pistol he put to his head? He could not recall now.

All he knew was that in a moment the greenskins now shadowed him, ready to do their butcher’s work. Then they were all gone, vanishing in roars of outrage and boiling blood. Keir sat in stunned silence as his consciousness began to fade. The last thing he saw was a flash of vibrant purple and a white clad figure. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

“That will make everything official sir, and may I say congratulations!”

Keir quickly shook himself from his remembrance of that long past battle. He forced a grin at the regimental clerk that he could not recall the name of. So many of those he knew were now laid down in their graves, their final reward as soldiers of the Imperial Guard.

He pushed that out of his mind though. He quickly gathered up his papers while uttering a quiet thanks to the Eldar clerk and made his way out of the office. He didn’t think he could get away from the mustering ground quick enough.

The sight of his now former commanding officer was enough to stop him though. Out of habit he snapped to attention, which the colonel waved off with a good natured chuckle.

“At ease doctor, I’ll have none of that from you today.” Colonel Vos was a battle scared man, with the iron will made from the stuff of legends. Still he presented an easy going smile and possessed a charismatic air.

“Old habits die hard Colonel, even in retirement.” Keir allowed a smile to overtake his face. The reality that he was finally able to go home and stay there for as long as he wished was quite the comforting one. His relief was visible as Colonel Vos grinned in strange visage of happiness mixed with terror from the many scars he barred.

“If anybody around here deserved it more doctor I can’t recall them. I’ll be sad to see you go myself, and the rest of the officers will miss your hangover curatives.”

“They’ll march on without me just fine, and hopefully they can figure out their own curatives with the new medical chief.” Keir chuckled to himself before remembering where he was supposed to be.

“I promise to reach out from time to time colonel, but I must desperately be somewhere else.”

Keir barely waited the dismissive wave of Colonel Vos as he moved toward the nearest skydock. He had a long way to go, but the thought of what was waiting for him gave him comfort

“Guess who’s b-!”

Keir quickly petered off as he saw the darkened entryway. It was strange; he was so thoroughly expecting to be tackled straightaway by two bolts of endless energy and a smile that could brighten up his soul if it was needed. He could honestly say it felt a sinking feeling as he moved toward the den.

That feeling quickly began to turn around and climb back up when the single light of a lamp was visible in the room, and sat next to it, with vibrant lavender hair visible but turned away, was the one of the three people he loved more than any other.

Feeling a bit cheeky, Keir did his best to step lightly across the floor to the reclining figure. Every step his confidence grew, closer and closer, almost reaching that mesmerizing lavender-

“Welcome home love.”

The balloon of victory was popped so unceremoniously that it was a wonder that Keir did not slump onto his knees in defeat right there.

“Of course, it would figure you have your senses active while reading a book at home.” Keir could not stop the mirth entering his voice.

“I did not need my senses to know you were there, you’re just not as sneaky as you’d think.” The relaxed form of Tal’hina of Yme-Loc shifted as Keir joined her in the rather large reclining seat; both of them settling into their new positions comfortably.

“Not that sneaky?” Keir made sure to sound indignant in his retort, “I’ll have you know that once I was able to retrieve an entire squad from under the noses of at least a dozen Ork kommandos.”

A brilliant set of golden eyes turned to regard him with skepticism mixed with a sense of amusement. They never failed to take a small part of his breath away.

“Well, I think they were kommandos. I mean I never saw them but I’m pretty sure I could smell them.”

A minute passed by in silence, both enjoying the closeness of the moment. It was then that Keir was finally able to feel the growing sting that stemmed from his left shoulder and was beginning to spread to his arm and chest. He did his best to ignore it.

“What’s wrong?” Keir wanted to curse profusely at that question; of course she’d be able to tell almost immediately. He thought for a split second for lying about what happened but common sense quickly squashed that thought.

“I… it’s nothing, just that ache I mentioned, it will pass in a moment.” Keir grunted as Tal’hina turned to straddle him suddenly, her hands quickly looking over his face for any apparent signs of something wrong only she would be able to see.

“I swear you insufferable man, you never do stop to think when you have the chance to show off! You should have stayed home and gotten rest, or at the least-“

“Tal’hina…” Keir grabbed her hands to stop her constant movement. “I know, but I’m fine, I wanted to the old guard off properly, exchange contacts and the like. Those folk are family to me and I didn’t want to spoil the effort they went through.” Tal’hina forced Keir to look into her golden eyes, the worry shining through.

“It’s getting worse.”

“We don’t know that-“

“And what if you’re wrong?” Their voices never rose above a whisper to not disturb their son and daughter, and it was an ‘argument’ they had had before. Still it was one topic that never failed to drive them to confront one another.

Keir took hold of Tal’hina’s hands and held them to his heart, hoping her proximity would give him the strength it never failed to give. “Listen, I’ve had opinions from almost every other doctor in the old brigade. I even managed to sneak a few civilian doctors in, Human and Eldar alike, all of them say there is a chance, but that’s nothing we didn’t know before.”

Tal’hina’s eyes remained locked to his, but the worry did not seem to abate, pushing Keir to try and reassure his loved one.

“I worry Tal’hina, just as much as you. I worry about what might happen if the our little ones see me like that, I’m worried that it will not stop next time, or that it will start to come back quicker.” Keir squeezed the hands he held gently, “But you have to believe me that I will do everything I can… there’s no other alternative.” The worry still lingered, but Tal’hina’s face softened. Keir took the moment to press his lips to Tal’hina’s own. They lingered on the connection, finally breaking apart with a need to breath. She moved to place her head on her husband’s shoulder, eyes closed. The silence reigned for another minute, before Tal’hina spoke again.

“So, it’s official then?” Keir nodded slightly as his head leaned against Tal’hina’s own, “All the papers signed and dotted. They need to record it on the regimental record but it’s done in all but name. I’m officially retired.”

“For the moment.” Tal’hina was quick to correct him. “Aye, for the moment.” Keir was as quick to agree.

Tal’hina hummed, though Keir would swear that she purred, as she spoke. “Well, then we should do something ourselves to celebrate.” She seemed to enjoy her position; she was getting sleepy herself, and the body warmth of her doctor was doing much to lull her to sleep. If only she had kept her eyes open, she would see the glint of an ingenious idea hit Keir’s eye.

In one moment Tal’hina was comfortably sleepy, and the next she struggled to contain the groan of pleasure that escaped her mouth. She did not know what had just happened, until she felt familiar hands at the base of her ears.

“K-Keir, w-what are-Ahh!” The stuttering beauty was stopped from talking as the sensations from the massage of her ears overwhelmed her sleepy state, her blush inadvertently lighting up her face.

“You said we should celebrate Lav, I figure there’s no time like the present. The night is young after all.” Keir felt like he should cackle like the mad genius that he was, but that would most likely divert the mood from what he was going for. Then again once he managed to get a good massage going for Tal’hina’s ears, it was a bit hard to stop.

Hard to stop though it was, Tal’hina did her upmost to fight through the pleasurable feeling. “B-but you’ve ju-just gotten…ooh…h-home, and you need y-your re-eehh-st, and th-.. ahh.. and the children-.”

“Let’s just call it another chapter in our grand adventure Lav, a great challenge we will overcome.”

The massaging stopped as Keir quickly wrapped his arms around Tal’hina’s neck and knees in a way as delightfully similar to their wedding night as he carried her to their own room. Tal’hina could not stop the girlish giggle that escaped from her blushing body, and Keir could not wipe the goofy smile that had been chiseled onto his face.

As Keir loved to say there was no time like the present. They had the entire future to worry about but that was all for tomorrow. Though Keir and Tal’hina would make sure it would be a future worth fighting for.

Gege's Odd Misadventures[edit]

Loosely canon, especially after the first chapter or two which is a straighter pastiche of Jojo.

[Link| https://m.fanfiction.net/s/12380502/1/GeGe-s-Odd-Misadventures]

How to Kill an Attack Moon[edit]

Episode I[edit]

++Excerpt from a lecture series given by Sky Marshal Nigel Iger at Bakka Naval Officers' Academy, 867.M41++
++"How to kill an Attack Moon"++

Now, the most important thing to have when assaulting an Attack Moon- the thing you must have above all else- is sufficient numbers. Yes, that sounds obvious, here in this room at the Naval Academy. Nearly tautological. But out there in the void, things will seem different. You will see merchant convoys shattered, planets burning, billions dying. You will be tempted to follow the examples of Ollanius Pius or the Astral Knights, to cry 'damn the torpedoes' and hope that determination and hate will fill in for your lack of guns and steel. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. Because I tell you now, it will not. The best possible scenario is simply that you will get tens of thousands of the Emperor's voidsmen killed to no purpose. At worst, it will take that much longer to assemble sufficient weight of metal to take it down- and planets will die in that time. We are the Imperial Navy. We are the first and greatest line of defense. And billions die for our mistakes. So, if you do not have sufficient numbers to win- do not engage. Even if that means leaving worlds to burn.

So what does constitute numbers, then? It varies, of course, but the general rule of thumb is at least one-third of the Attack Moon's mass. I've done it with one-quarter, but I've been doing this longer than any of you have been alive. This may seem low, which brings me to another rule of thumb: firepower is, loosely, a function of surface area, while durability is loosely a function of volume. You're limited in firepower by how many guns you can physically mount on a ship, while durability is limited by the mass you have to absorb hits. And anyone who has even glanced at a naval engineering textbook knows that volume increases faster than surface area.

Therefore, an Attack Moon has less firepower for its mass than, say, a battleship or frigate does. Which is still an absolutely tremendous amount, but it means physically smaller forces can win without overwhelming tactical genius. As for specific mix of forces, you will need a lot of nova cannons, a strong carrier force, a strong gunline, and preferably guided torpedoes, although those aren't entirely necessary.

So, how do you kill an Attack Moon? Well, I'm about to walk you through it. Keep in mind this is a 'white-room' exercise, which assumes the Attack Moon is without a meaningful escort fleet and there are no nearby celestial or planetary bodies to complicate things. How those change the picture I will cover in later lectures.

The first step is to prevent it from launching fighters, bombers, and torpedoes. This is where the nova cannons come in. The Power Fields of the average Attack Moon can withstand even direct nova cannon hits, so bringing them down isn't the point at the moment. The point is to use the area-of-effect to fry the bombers and torpedoes as they launch. You will want to use shells optimized for area effects for this. Set up a continuous barrage, each nova-cannon carrier firing in a steady sequence. You do not want to allow the Attack Moon to launch its entire strike-craft complement; the amount of fighters a carrier can carry is a function of volume, so if you let the Moon launch you will drown in bombers. The continuous explosions will also, hopefully, blind the ork gunners and sensors, making their fire even less accurate than it normally is. While this is happening, your gun-line should bombard the Moon from long range. Attack Moons are very large, slow-moving targets, and at the moment the goal is not precision strikes but simply to batter the Power Fields down. You want the range to be as long as possible, to prevent the enemy from getting hits.

Now, DO NOT englobe the enemy. This will simply allow all of its guns to fire at you simultaneously. You want to focus your forces against a single hemisphere- preferably the aft, where the guns are usually least numerous. Once the Power Fields are down, you can begin strikes against individual components. This is where your carriers and torpedo destroyers come in, using bombers and guided torpedoes to hit pinpoint targets. First priority is engines, to prevent it from rolling undamaged faces to meet you. Second is heavy weapons, to allow your battleships and grand cruisers to move in. The nova cannon come in handy again here; while the armor is heavy enough to resist even direct hits, the flash and blast is excellent at suppressing and destroying the lighter point-defense turrets, making it more likely that your bombers will actually survive to deliver their payloads. You want to cut it as close as possible without accidentally destroying your own bombers. How close that is depends on how coordinated your gunners are; you should know that before engaging in battle. You'll want a simultaneous strike, with as many cannon as you can spare from continued fighter-suppression. This will not render the Attack Moon helpless. However, it should suppress the defenses enough that you can move your gun-line in close enough for it to begin precision targeting with its broadsides as well.

From there, you simply continue to destroy surface gun emplacements and suppress fighter launches with the nova cannon. Continue until its guns on the targeted hemisphere are gone and the Attack Moon is immobile. Total destruction will still be difficult. You have basically two options- focus the fire of your entire fleet onto a single point, and drill into the Moon's core until you find something explosive, or land Astartes boarding, demolition, and sabotage teams to blow it apart from the inside."

And there you go- you have destroyed an Attack Moon, with only minimum losses if all has gone according to plan.

Of course, things rarely go according to plan. Many things have been omitted from this 'white-room' demonstration, from enemy escorts to the likely countermoves of the Attack Moon itself. Orks are nothing if not inventive, if rarely competent. So, one last thing I left out of my description- you'll also need a strong reserve, and to be ready for anything.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow, where I will begin discussion of how to deal with an Attack Moon's inevitable escorting fleets.

++Conclude excerpt++

Episode II: The Orks Strike Back[edit]

++Excerpt from a lecture series given by Sky Marshal Nigel Iger at Bakka Naval Officers' Acadamy, 867.M41++
++"How to kill an Attack Moon"++

Some of you have noted that my description of taking down an Attack Moon is strongly reminiscent of suppressing planetary defenses, and there are indeed strong similarities. There are differences- using nova cannon to suppress point defense against a planet is strongly advised against unless you want to turn said planet into molten vacuum desert- but the core principles are the same. Use of superior mobility and precision to achieve local superiority against an overall superior and more durable opponent, create a gap, and then use that gap to roll the whole thing up. Another similarity is that both operations become much harder when the target is supported by more mobile forces. Think back to the operation I described last lecture. Imagine all the ways a supporting Ork fleet could fuck it entirely up.

Ork carriers could counter and intercept your own defense-suppression strikes, leaving the Moon fully maneuverable and with its heavy guns. The early phases require that you keep your gunline widely dispersed, to give them room to evade the Moon's super-heavy guns- this creates gaps that enemy wolfpacks can slip into and overwhelm isolated ships. Opposing battleships could protect the Moon from your torpedo destroyers. Your nova cannon carriers could be forced to re-target to protect themselves, allowing the Moon to launch its immense fighter swarms. The list goes on. And, of course, any attempts to deal with these things in the usual manner are complicated by the looming presence of the Attack Moon."

And if you try to carry on with the plan, and can't- well, best case is that you are forced to retreat. Worst case is that you get stuck in, bogged down, and then the Attack Moon annihilates you.

Let me be very clear on this point. An Attack Moon may have less of a firepower-to-mass ratio than one of our battleships. This does not mean it lacks effective firepower. Because, just as Speed can be Armor, Defense can be Offence. What do I mean? It's quite simple. In a brawl between one of our fleets and an Attack Moon of equal mass, our own fleet with have greater overall firepower. But the Attack Moon will be more durable, and most importantly- our fleet will get attritioned down faster. Because each volley from our fleet will have to get through its Power Field to even begin to do damage, while each of its volleys will wreck ships, kill men- and reduce the overall power of the fleet. By the time the Power Fields come down, the fleet will have been savaged. This was very well demonstrated in the First Battle of Mors Galea, in 282.M37. One of the first Attack Moons built since the Beast. The techniques we use today hadn't been developed yet. The commanding sector admiral decided to go for close-range, high-velocity firing passes, with the entire fleet at his disposal, roughly the entire sector fleet. The attacking fleet was reduced by three-quarters, and the Attack Moon was barely even scratched.

So, how do you fight an Attack Moon with its attending fleet? The first option is simply to take even more forces than you normally would. Try and fend off the attacking fleets at the same time as you take down the Moon. Very risky, requiring much greater forces than otherwise and with more potential for things to go wrong. If you do this, you should try to bring enough forces to take down the Attack Moon in a straight assault. More than the combined mass of the escort fleet and the Moon itself is the general rule of thumb, but you may find yourself forced to make do with less.Probably will.

In that sort of fight, the most important thing is to maintain cohesion and coordination. It's easy for things to dissolve into a swirling melee, with each captain and squadron focusing on whatever threat is getting in their face and neglecting the overall battle plan. "If you let that happen, you will all die. Because a swirling melee, with targets in every direction and no chance of coordinated strikes, is where an Attack Moon thrives. More detailed coverage of this scenario will have to wait for the Case Studies part of the lecture series. For now, let us move on to the second option.

That is to destroy the supporting fleet before engaging the Attack Moon itself. This is usually something to be done over the course of a campaign, not a battle. Hit-and-run raids. Ambushing parts of the supporting fleet while they're off raiding other things away from the Moon itself. Decoying the fleet into minefields and other traps. There are dozens of ways to do it, but the idea is to whittle down the supporting fleet in dozens of small engagements before moving in for the kill.

Eldar ships are very useful for this purpose. With great stealth, high mobility, and the ability to use the Webway are ideal for this. In addition, Orks tend to hate Eldar for their refusal to be lured into chaotic brawls, and offering illusory chances to catch an Eldar ship in close combat or boarding action will often cause Ork fleets to fall out of formation as they race to close. The potential for ambush is obvious. Again, exact implementation is dependant on exact circumstances, so further discussion must wait for the Case Studies section.

Either way, the ultimate takeaway is this: an Attack Moon with support is an order of magnitude more dangerous than an Attack Moon without. When setting out to kill one, therefore, your first move must be to remove this support.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow, where I will discuss all the horrible, horrible surprises the Attack Moon itself will have for you.

++Conclude excerpt++

Episode III: Revenge of the Orks[edit]

++Excerpt from a lecture series given by Sky Marshal Nigel Iger at Bakka Naval Officers' Acadamy, 867.M41++
++"How to kill an Attack Moon"++

Even once you've cleared out the attending fleets, an Attack Moon will hardly sit passively while you destroy it. A counter-attack of some sort is inevitable, and you must be prepared to weather it.

First, consider the Moon's fighter complement. The previous white-room exercise presumed it did not launch any of its small craft before nova cannon range was achieved; this is almost never the actual case. This is not an insurmountable problem. While frying the enemy fighters as they launch is the ideal, they do not magically become immune to nova cannon once in open space. Further, the rate at which an Attack Moon can prepare and launch fighters is often limited, so enemy fighter strikes will naturally separate into staggered waves that can be taken one at a time. Make no mistake, once the fighters have launched the nova cannon will not kill all of them. Maybe not even most of them, depending on how fast and far they disperse. However, if they want to survive they will have to disperse widely, meaning they will attack piecemeal in small, ragged groups. Such attacks can be easily dealt with by adopting a tight, mutually-supporting defense formation. But- and there is always another wrinkle- adopting such a formation will leave you vulnerable to the Moon's super-heavy guns, while the open formation and independent maneuvering needed to evade those guns exposes individual ships to getting swarmed under, even by a disorganized and ragged attack. You can use your carriers to defend the fleet while still keeping an open formation. But, deck space dedicated to interceptors and space-superiority fighters is deck space not dedicated to bombers that can strike at the Moon itself. Frigate and destroyer squadrons can also be used to defend other ships while remaining mobile enough to not be hit by the big guns, but can be vulnerable to being swarmed under themselves. Ultimately, there are no perfect solutions. You just have to decide what tradeoffs you want to make, and accept that no matter what you do, people are going to die.

Beyond that, the exact capabilities of Attack Moons vary widely, according to the personal tastes of the Big Meks constructing it. However, one thing they all have in common is teleporters. And that means teleporter assaults. Defending against a teleporter assault is different from other aspects of naval warfare, because it's not really naval combat, it's ground combat. Success or failure is determined by the quality of armsmen and layout of internal defenses, both of which are determined before battle is joined. As naval officers, there's not a whole lot you can do, unless you happen to be on the Internal Security track. Not much, however, is not nothing. The key here is to identify which ships are most important to your battle plan, which ships the Orks are most likely to attack, and to shift your armsmen around to defend those most heavily. Be prepared to launch counter-boarding actions in support of attacked ships at a moment's notice. Everybody in the fleet should know that teleporter assault is virtually inevitable, and be prepared for it. Close coordination with Astartes elements is vital here. Now, the ships that are most vital to the plan will most often be the nova cannon carriers. Why should be obvious from all the different contexts they've popped up in through these lectures. Fighter suppression, defense suppression; these are the difference between victory and death, and while it's not actually impossible without nova cannon, it becomes much harder. And no Warboss with an Attack Moon at his disposal is stupid. Most often, it is the nova cannons that will come under heaviest attack. Reinforce the armsmen on those ships heavily.

Third, psychic attack. This is less inevitable than teleporter assault, but still common. Any Waaagh with an Attack Moon will be very large, and consequently have a lot of psychic power behind it- which can be channeled into psychic attacks. And while it is possible their weirdboys will get it catastrophically wrong and the Moon will immolate itself in green fire- don't bet on it. Ork psykery is less about weird headfuckery and more about raw, destructive power, a fact that should surprise absolutely nobody. True fleet-killing magics is thankfully orders of magnitude rarer than even Attack Moons, but you can still expect green lightning to periodically destroy individual ships or, sometimes, entire squadrons. Fortunately, psykers are hard to aim, so targeting is semi-random. You will not see them singling out flagships, nova cannons, carriers, or whatever ships are most vital to your battle plan at the moment. Mostly. Orks. Expect variation, if nothing else.

Defense against psychic attack occurs on the psychic plane, so the defense is simple- bring lots of combat psykers. If you are fortunate enough to have a selection, brings ones specialized in counterspelling. I'm informed that, if you're subtle and skilled enough, you can disrupt a psychic attack with much less energy than it takes to launch it, even kill a psyker through his own workings. Eldar are supposed to be good at this. Again, once battle is joined there's not much you can do to affect the outcome in this arena. Either what you've brought is sufficient or it isn't, and all you can do is hope.

Even in the hands of a genius, Attack Moons are not terribly capable of tactical subtlety. Past what I've already discussed, most surprises are going to be matters of mechanical variation. Aside from the normal variations in weapons, armor, engines, etc. many have some sort of unique specialist system or weapon. My personal experience includes a lightning-field point defense system that destroyed any fighters or torpedoes within its area of effect. Completely prevented the usual first wave of pinpoint strikes until a teleport assault by Astartes was able to sabotage the weapon- which took a week and delayed the attack long enough for the Moon to be reinforced and launch its own assault on a nearby planet. Other examples in the historical record include an engine turbocharge system that enabled brief spurts of acceleration on par with a frigate, a set of massively oversized Power Klaws apparently intended for close combat with tyranid Hive Ships, a spinal weapon similar to a nova cannon of utterly staggering size, and more. A full accounting of all the odd customizations made to Attack Moons would occupy an entire lecture by itself. Giving general advice on how to counter these unique weapons would be impossible- as each one is unique, each one requires unique tactics to counter. These devices are usually large and distinctive enough to be obvious, so the fact that they have something up their sleeve is not itself a surprise. Exact function and power can be guessed at. Ultimately, however, in order to know exact capabilities you must see the device in action. This is not difficult. Any Ork in control of such a weapon will use it at every possible opportunity; goading them into demonstrating it for you is often trivial.

From there- well. Given the variety of enemies we face, an officer of the Imperial Navy must be flexible.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow, where I will discuss ways of killing AttackMoons that do not consist of throwing more nova cannon at them.

++Conclude excerpt++

Episode IV: The Orks Awaken[edit]

++Excerpt from a lecture series given by Sky Marshal Nigel Iger at Bakka Naval Officers' Acadamy, 867.M41++
++"How to kill an Attack Moon"++

An Attack Moon is many things. It is massive. It is massively shielded. It is massively armored. It is massively armed. It carries massive amounts of troops, and the means to deploy them. It often has massive manufacturing capabilities, to support those massive amounts of troops, as well as its massive fighter wings and massive escort fleets. Some of them are even capable of acting as full shipyards. All of this requires massive energy generation- which it also has. An Attack Moon is also Ork construction, which means if you hit it right, all of these things can be induced to explode. Massively.

Beyond the full-dress naval assault the previous lectures have described, methods of killing an Attack Moon mainly resolve into various types of boarding action. This is almost invariably a teleport assault, as trying to attack an Attack Moon with boarding pods is an exercise in futility. Eldar assault forces can be sufficiently stealthy to board in such a manner, but not human ones. There are two recorded instances of that being attempted in the War of the Beast; both were entirely unsuccessful. The obvious choice for such an assault is Astartes, but Assassins and Sisters of Battle have also been used. Whatever the force, more is better. Full Chapter strength or better is recommended; Attack Moons are massive targets with massive crews, and sometimes have formidable internal defenses. This is most common on Attack Moons which anticipate fighting with Tyranids.

Once the assault is launched, your ability to influence its success or failure is limited. What you can do is stack the deck as far as you possibly can before you strike. One thing you should try to do in this scenario is attack the Attack Moon while it is in the process of assaulting a planet. Then, the vast majority of its crew will be on the ground participating in the attack, leaving the decks relatively clear.

Before the attack begins, every effort should also be made to obtain as much information about the interior layout of the Moon as possible. Of course, 'as much as possible' often winds up being 'nothing,' but there are ways. The Mechanicus has a few gravimetric sensors capable of resolving major structural features; combined with the specialized sensor/anti-stealth shells some nova cannon can be equipped with, a surprisingly detailed internal map can be assembled. Psychic interrogation is another possibility; abduct an Ork who has been on board the Moon and rip his brains out. Done repeatedly, and a complete map can be assembled. This is an Inquisitorial operation, specifically Ordo Xenos; although there are other organizations hypothetically capable of doing so, none have better chances of success.

Inserting infiltrators ahead of the main assault group is another possible strategy, but has its own problems. First, unless you have some other means of getting them on board, you'll have to use teleporters, which means your plan just expanded to having two separate teleporter assaults, separated in time. Then there's the problem of how they'll report their findings; having them rendevous with the main assault team when they teleport aboard is possible, but not ideal. Psychic communication is possible, there are a few uncommon pieces of technosorcery the Mechanicus has, but as usual there are no perfect solutions. The ideal operative for this is an Imperial Assassin. They often have access to stealth shuttles that can get them in, or can sneak about the Ork's own transport shuttles.

The capabilities of the teleporters available to you must also be considered. Range can vary dramatically depending on any number of factors, as can capacity. Obviously, you want long-range high-capacity teleporters. The shorter the possible range, the further into the Attack Moon's fire envelope it has to go before you can launch the assault. The smaller the capacity, the longer it takes to get the entire assault force over. If possible, get vehicle-scale teleporters; Attack Moons are large enough to warrant the use of tanks in the corridors. If you don't have teleporters capable of projecting the assault force over from outside the Moon's range entirely, the next best thing is generally to use reflex-shielded vessels which are capable of avoiding detection.

Once the attack is underway, you can still use the teleporters to provide support and mobility. Evacuating squads that are about to be overwhelmed, moving forces past obstructions and bottlenecks, that sort of thing. There are risks involved, as there are with all warp technology, but they can be mitigated by skilled operators and a knowledge of the limits of the technology. And Attack Moons are dangerous enough to justify the risk.

It is unlikely that even a full Chapter assault force, armed with demolition atomics, will be able to completely destroy an Attack Moon. They're simply too big, too heavily armored, too many internal partitions, too many redundancies. It's certainly possible, if a catastrophic reactor containment failure can be arranged, but unlikely. What they can do is cripple it. Destroy engines, destroy guns, destroy magazines, destroy reactors, destroy hangars, destroy shield generators. Leave it drifting, defenseless, unable to defend itself or strike back. Then its final destruction will be trivial.

There are a few other options, but these are highly situational and dependent on exact circumstances. The acts of a tactical genius, rather than standard operating procedure. Thus, these shall be covered in the case studies.

A final word: Exterminatus weapons. An Attack Moon certainly seems a worthy target for them. However, there are countervailing factors. First: Exterminatus weapons are rare and expensive. Second: Exterminatus weapons are generally intended for use against planets, and are optimized for this task. Incineratus torpedoes work by generating massive volcanic and tectonic activity, while Cyclonic torpedoes operate by superheating the atmosphere until it is blown entirely off. Against an Attack Moon, both would certainly do damage, but not enough to justify the cost. Virus bombs are occasionally used in boarding actions, but the compartmentalized and redundant nature of Attack Moons limits the effect. Also, it makes any breach in the armor instantly fatal, so most Astartes chapters really, really don't like it.

Ultimately, there's just really no ideal way to kill an Attack Moon. Just less bad ones.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow, where I will talk about the strategic implications of Attack Moons.

++Conclude excerpt++

Episode V: The Orky Menace[edit]

++Excerpt from a lecture series given by Sky Marshal Nigel Iger at Bakka Naval Officers' Acadamy, 867.M41++

++"How to kill an Attack Moon"++

The problems caused by the presence of an Attack Moon extend beyond the merely tactical. They do not spring up, fully-formed, out of the vacuum, but are merely part of a larger Waaagh. While each one is a massive catastrophe, they are merely part of another, even larger catastrophe. And the presence of an Attack Moon changes the way we must respond to that catastrophe.

First, an Attack Moon complicates strategies of naval attrition. Typically, a force that finds itself outnumbered by an oncoming Orkish Waaagh will use superior range, organization, and mobility to fight a series of hit-and-run battles, wearing down the enemy for minimum risk, until a single smashing blow can be prepared. However, an Attack Moon's incredible resilience makes such strategies futile; any force insufficient to kill it outright will simply bounce off, doing no harm at all. Further, an Attack Moon can extend protection to any fleets accompanying it through the massive range of its gravity whips and fighter wings. Any ships under this protective umbrella of firepower will also have to go unmolested until sufficient force can be assembled to challenge it. Depending on the vagaries of the Warp and whatever other wars are going on, this could take years. Until then- barring uncommon tactical genius- the Attack Moon and its battle group will be free to rampage across the Imperium largely unopposed.

Of course, an Ork Waaagh is unlikely to concentrate /all/ of its forces in a single place. This brings me to the second point: concentration versus dispersal, on both the Imperial and Ork sides. A Waaagh of any size will consist of multiple prongs of attack, under the command of a single Warboss but otherwise only loosely coordinated with each other. This holds true of Waaaghs in possesion of an Attack Moon. Collectively, these tendrils are often as dangerous overall as the Attack Moon is; a Moon can only attack one target at a time, after all. Since attacking an Attack Moon is a task that demands all available resources, this leaves the Imperial commander with a choice to make; does he disperse his task force to take out the lesser fleets first, allowing the Assault Moon free reign while he does that? Or does he concentrate on the Moon first, allowing the other fleets to continue blazing their individual trails of destruction across the Imperium? The right choice to make depends on exact strategic circumstances, and sometimes a compromise is possible. Ork fleets not accompanied by the Attack Moon naturally do not benefit from its protection from attrition; local forces can damage and destroy them while the Moon-killing fleet is still being assembled.

Third, an Attack Moon often makes a mockery of pre-existing fixed defenses, on both the tactical and strategic scales. Classical Ork defense strategies center around belts of fortress worlds surrounding Ork territories. These worlds serve as bases for pre-emptive strikes into Ork territory, bulwarks against Ork attacks, and 'lightning rods'; as Orks seek out good fights, they are attracted to fortress worlds to the exclusion of other targets. Since the emergence of the Brain-Boy caste, the lightning-rod strategy has become less and less useful, but the other components of the strategy still hold. However, an Attack Moon is capable of rapidly reducing the defenses of the average Fortress-World. Its immense size, durability, and teleporters allow it to transport billions of Ork warriors past orbital and aerial defenses unmolested and commit surgical-ish Kommando strikes on vital infrastructure. Once the defenses are destroyed, the Orks can flood into the relatively defenseless interior. In many cases, sectors bordering Ork territory rely on these fortress belts for protection and pour all military resources into them; leaving them unprepared for defense-in-depth should these outer defenses fail.

While an Attack Moon is incapable of much tactical subtlety, strategic subtlety is limited only by the mind of the commanding Warboss. While most Warbosses are content to use their Attack Moons as simple bludgeoning instruments, some are smarter. One example of this is what I call the 'Moon-in-Being' strategy; rather than using the Moon in an assault role, it is used as a reserve and reinforcement unit. When one of the satellite raiding fleets is attacked, the Moon is used to ambush the Imperial force, destroying it. Meanwhile, engagement with the assembled might of the fleet is avoided. The effect of such a strategy is to force the Imperial fleet to concentrate, while allowing Ork forces to disperse. Any Imperial forces below Moon-killing level are liable to be attacked and destroyed, compelling consolidation, while the Orks labor under no such constraint, and can pursue offensives on multiple fronts simultaneously. Defeating this strategy is usually a matter of luring the Moon into a confrontation with an apparently-inferior force, then ambushing it with the full might of the fleet.

The point is: the threat posed by Attack Moons, by the Orks in general, is likely only going to increase in the millennia to come. We will need tactics, weapons, and ships optimized to destroy these threats. And we will need Naval Officers of skill, courage, and determination to command them. Hopefully, you will be those officers, to ensure the light of the Imperium will continue to shine into the far future.

Thank you, and goodnight. ++Conclude excerpt++ ++End file++

The Hydra Uncoils[edit]

Inquisitor Alrisia awoke with a jolt. The last electric shock must have knocked her out. Her body felt numb and she was panting heavily. A electric crack was heard and she felt another wave of searing pain flow through her body, she grit her teeth feeling as if they would break under the pressure. She tried not make a sound to keep her composure but could stop herself from sounding a gurgling groan from the back of her throat as he threw her head back desperately trying to keep the pain off her mind. It felt like hours that she endured the painful surge of electricity flow through her body but the shock could only have been for a couple of seconds. The same crack could be heard and the electricity stopped. Her body slumped as she gasped for air. Through her desperate breaths she cold hear a familiar voice.

- Ready to talk mam? The voice belonged to a man and he spoke in a serious sense but she knew there was some humor to it. Not only were they torturing a inquisitor of the ordo securitas but they had the nerve to taunt her while doing it.

- traitor scum. She muttered under her breath as she threw a rageful glance at her captor. Her long black hair was a utter mess, it was hanging over her face and sticked to her forehead by sweat, but she could still make out the man.

He was dressed in civilian clothes, but she could see his flak vest showing through. She knew that face, that sharp jawline, those warm green eyes and that damn beauty spot on his lip. Creal Harkon was his name, sergeant Creal Harkon of squad larnean of the 55th omega hydras to be more specific and soon to be ex-sergeant Creal Harkon when she was out of her restraints. The bastards and his whole squad would pay for this, maybe she would even have the entire regiment executed. The thought of tempestus soldiers betraying her never came to her head, even when they were ordered to protect her, that's probably why they got her, that's why they could gun down her bodyguards with ease. Because for once in her life she trusted someone, she hadn’t even truly trusted her own bodyguards. But something about that man’s face gave her the sense of trust and loyalty. Might have been his actually decent looking face, her line of work was mostly filled by ugly mugs with a permanent frown on their faces. Was it his professionalism? His aura of authority? Whatever it was he would be the last person she would have trusted and the last that would betray her.

- That's not the answer we're looking for mam, if you’re not going to play along we are going to have to give you some more juice and we have all the time in the world. Creal said and lightly kicked some machinery which gave a nice klonk as he hit it. Alrisia looked at what he had kicked. It was a generator, they had her hooked up to a damn generator. How long have they intended to keep this going? She must have been here for at least 24 hours and the questions were never specific, more vague than anything. ‘’Your life mam, tell us about your life’’ or ‘’tell us about your work’’, at first she almost thought it was a joke, some kind of sick prank pulled off by some stupid harlequin, she had even laughed at the absurdness of the questions, but when the first electric shock came she thought they were just idiots. Idiots she would enjoy killing.

- I'm not going to give you anything you fething traitor and when i get out of here i'm going to rip your bloody spi-. She was cut off as the crack was heard again and she was back to gritting her teeth to stop herself from screaming. The electricity stopped as quickly as it began, she coughed, a pulsing kind of pain was left in her body, she spat at the feet of sgt. Creal. It was a mix of saliva and blood. She could taste the irony taste in her mouth and could smell what she thought was smell of cooking bacon but quickly discarded it as nothing.

- I actually don’t want to do this but, if you don’t start answering our questions i'm going to have to call my boss, and if you think this is bad my boss you can’t even begin to understand how bad he is. So please, for your own good answer the questions. His voice was now irritated, and was that remorse she heard, no it was empathy. She looked back up at him with a serious look but not with the rage as before but with a sense of concern instead.

- why are you doing this? You’re a damn scion, you’re in service to the imperium, to humanity, why would you betray them? Who do you really serve Sergeant.

- I'm doing this because it's my job, if you think it's my job to serve some pompous commander that throws around our lives like used condoms or some inquisitor with a superiority complex that thinks he's better than emperor himself you’re a bloody fool inquisitor. No i serve those who really know how crap gets done, those who don’t need to go through juridical groxshit or sign a endless amount of reports. I haven’t betrayed anyone, besides if anyone has betrayed someone it’s you inquisitor. He stared at her with anger in his eyes, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked at him as if he was holding himself from punching her.

- Did i hit a soft spot? Alrisia said with a big grin on her face. The Sergeant frowned and with a small hand gesture the wave of pain was back. Alrisia still kept her grin as the electricity flowed through her body like water in a river, it felt as if her eyes would pop and the smell of burnt was undeniable. As the electricity was searing her flesh and she was desperately trying to keep herself from screaming she could hear Creal speak.

- have it your way then, this could have gone easier but you just had to be stubborn. The electricity stopped and Alrisia could feel as she lost her sight on things before she lost her conscious.

When she awoke sgt. Creal was gone and instead another man was sitting on a metal chair only a few feet away from her. He was shorter than Creal but there were similarities to their features. The man had almost the same jawline, a similar beauty spot but creal’s was on the opposite side of his lip. This man also had a large face tattoo across the right side of his head, it was a scaly snake, a snake with multiple heads. It was a beautiful piece of ink, the heads were all snarling with animal ferocity and looked as if they could lunge out from his face onto her neck. But it was the man’s eyes that truly caught her attention. Where sgt. Creal’s eyes were a warm green this man’s eyes were a deep, colbalt blue, they shined with an almost unnatural light, almost as if they were glowing. She saw no feelings behind them, no anger, no joy, only cold, dead calculation.

- ah, you’re awake finally inquisitor. The man said with a wide smile, she could see his white reflect the little light inside the room. He was dressed in fine clothing, something that would belong to a rich trader or a lower noble. Something caught her eye with his attire, a small silver pin on the inside of his coat, it would be hidden if he had kept it closed. It was that of another three headed serpent but much more simplistic in its design, still there was no denying that it was connected to his tattoo. There were something about it that sparked something inside her mind, but she did not know what.

- Are you ready to cooperate with us inquisitor? The man said raising an eyebrow anticipating an answer.

- Who are you? She asked with wondering tone.

- Me? Well i’m Alpharius my dear. He replied as if he was happy she asked . It then dawned on Alrisia. The three headed serpent, 55th omega hydras, Alpharius. The three headed serpent was the damn hydra she had heard about in ancient terran mythology. The giant serpent which when you cut of one head two would take its place and that name, Alpharius. That name belonged to one of the primarch that served the emperor during the unification of terra. Alpharius Omegon who had been almost erased from all imperial records, she had only heard about him through the inquisitorial scribes, he had worn the hydra as a symbol. Within this new revelation there was something else, something much deeper inside of her mind that made her head hurt when she thought about it.

- That’s not your real name, that belongs to someone who served the imperium and not some treacherous scum who thinks torturing an imperial inquisitor would get them anywhere.

- how investigative of you inquisitor, no my name is not truly Alpharius, it’s actually Armillius Dynant. But we still use that name for an alias, it’s a sort of tradition to use their name for our purpose.

- Their name? She quickly replied. Armillius just smiled even wider.

- Enough about us my dear, we're here because you failed us. He picked up a pack of lho sticks from a pocket and lighted one, drawing deep breaths of smoke and blowing it out of his nostrils.

- Failed you? I don't work for you, i work for the emperor's imperial inquisition.

- mhm, of course you would think that, but you have in fact been working for us your entire life, do you know the old term ‘’useful idiot’’? Of course you don’t. No Alrisia you might think you have been working for the inquisition and in reality you've been our puppet. He was nonchalant about it, almost acting as if it was commonly known.

- No, i haven’t done anything for you. My work was for inquisition and not you or your masters. Her voice was trembling and the headache was pulsing as if her head would explode.

- Yes Alrisia, your life has been one entire long play, one of the legions more finer works if you ask me. Everything about your life has been planned and calculated. The murder of your father that lead you to join the arbites was our work, the big cult you busted which lead you to be joined into the inquisition was us, your work about destroying the imperiums political corruption which you have dedicated your life too was our doing. Inquisitor Alrisia Santius, we are you. Armillius was staring into Alrisias eyes, those cobalt blue eyes pierced her very beign and she remembered, she remembered everything. She saw those eyes in the man who cut down her father, she saw them in the officer that helped her during the raid on the cult, she saw them in her fellow colleagues, she saw them in the woman who had told her those words before she executed the woman. ‘’Hydra Dominatus’’.

Alrisias eyes were tearing up and she felt sick to her stomach, she felt like she would pass out. Her work and all she had fought for was a lie, that which had molded her life was but some intricate theatre and she knew nothing about it. They had played her life for thirty six years, every step she took had been planned ahead. She looked up at Armillius with tears running down her face, She now recognized him like he had been aside her everywhere. His smile was back, his sick smile was spread across his face as he blew another cloud of smoke out of his nose.

- you see it now don’t you, that you’re just a puppet in the legions big game. The game which don’t require billions of lives or resources, all you need if too find the right one and guide them towards what you want.

- why? Her voice was trembling and she knew she was sobbing.

- I don’t know, i'm not the one to ask why my superiors do what they do, all i know is that they do it for the greater good, i'm just here to clean the slate and fix what you broke. He shrugged and threw his lho stick but away before pulling out a new one lighting it.

- If i'm just a puppet why are you doing this?

- Because you done messed up my dear. That woman you killed last month because you thought she was a culprit, well she was one of us and now we need to fix it, restore the balance so to say.

Alrisia remembered the woman, she had tried to stop her from doing her job and had shot her and she had said those words before her death. Alrisia had only thought it a treacherous saying and not that it had been a omen.

- But don’t worry about it my dear, when we're done here you’re going to live on like nothing ever happened, not you as in you but a replaced you. It’s kinda hard to explain but have you heard about Lord Commander Byron Wiltons?

Alrisia knew who he was, Lord commander Byron was the commander over the Elysian 15th Drop troops also known as the sky burners. He had been waging war against a crone world before suddenly during the conflict deciding that he should go and fight the tyranids. It had been a peculiar change of mind but because of his authority no one questioned him.

- Well lets just say that the Lord commander did not do as expected and now he's been replaced. He blew another cloud of smoke and then reached for a datapad from one of his pockets and started to go through it. Alrisia was just staring blankly at him, tears running down cheeks mixing with the sweat.

- It’s actually marvelous what a little genius and some sharp tools can do to face, this is top class work, no stupid rejuvenation can do this stuff. He showed her the data pad screen, its blue hue illuminating her face. It was a picture of her, at least it looked like her at first glance, same facial features, same jawline, it even had the small scar under her left earlobe that she had gained during her childhood, but what did not fit Alrisias face and made her whimper in despair was the pair of deep, colbalt blue eyes that had no feelings behind them but cold calculation. That's why they asked those vague questions, they wanted to know those details they already did not.

- please, don’t do this. She begged Armillius with despair in her voice, she plead him that she would not betray them again.

- I'm afraid that's too late now my dear, you should have stayed in line. Armillius stood up, threw his lho stick to the ground and stepped it out. He walked behind her she could hear a door open and close.

She heard the electric crack once again and this time she could not stop herself from screaming.

Innocence Lost[edit]

The story told by spirit talkers and psykers that go too far across the galaxy is a strange one but one that is too consistent. Out in the Formless Wastes beyond where things can easily dwell where the rocks and the bones of the warp are bare and without life or moment, beyond where even Be'Lakor hold court there is nothing but the howling of the winds made up of unattended ideas and forgotten passions that swirl among uncaring rocks, lost to the æther. There nothing moves, things that run there to die quietly when all hound them and promise them worse than death, they are safe from predators because nothing can survive there but they are doomed to end because nothing can survive there. Nothing sings in that place beyond were even the unwelcome light of the Astronomicon is visible.

If you survive the trek, oddly slightly easier for mortals than gods or deamons, if you go beyond beyond where the last deamon goes to die, beyond the were the constant rumbling of Gork and Mork's eternal brawl can be heard, beyond hope and dreams and memories and the last swirling forgotten idea lost on dead breezes you can come to the place where children once dwelt.

It looks like a village, or what once might have been a village, next to a river or at least the desiccated corps or a river. The riverbed is bare pebbles, the banks mud long since dried and dead. The village itself is broken, the thatch and sticks of the roofs have fallen in where they have not blown away and not one hut has a full set of walls left standing. The flaps of animal skin and reeds that covered doors and windows are dry and cracked and brittle. And all about is stillness, endless stillness of stories that remain after nobody is left to tell them. Sound does not work well here, if sound can work well in that realm at all. Noise of foot steps and voices are heard a second after they should be and muted, seemingly bled and drained into the grey and sunless sky.

And then you hear a crunch and you look down.

Covered by an age of dust there are the bones, they look like children at first glance. They are small and humanoid, but they are not and never were though they might have been innocent up until the end. Their brittle bleached bones you realize stretch to the horizon in every direction.

You might hear a slight breeze disturb the dust, but then you realize that there is no wind here. There can't be, this is beyond the place where life can dwell, but something moves the dust. A serpent, small, little more than a grass snake and the only source of colour in this bleak place. It does not live here. Nothing can live here, it lingers. It might have been a small god once in the time that gods weren't so big. It is not dangerous, this place is beyond danger. It's cold unblinking eyes hold only sadness now, whatever it once was.

It can not bite, in it's mouth it holds a small severed finger, pale green. It has only ever been glimpsed briefly, the moment it meets the gaze of another it darts into the bones once more and slithers away into the bones.

The serpent must have a name as all daemons do, but not one that anyone can remember. Not even the gods.

Iron Within, Iron Without[edit]

“He refuses to eat or drink and so far as we can tell he hasn’t slept in nearly a week” The serving maid said, refusing to lift her eyes from the floor. It did not make Oscar happy, neither the news or the means of it’s delivery. Humans should not look down in shame or apology to him. He was a Man of Gold; created to serve.

“Thank you, I will speak with him”. They had been walking thought the fortress of Štip-Isar to the eastern wing of residence. Each of the Steward’s mighty strides was equal to more than two of the serving maids such was his inhuman stature. He bade her farewell as they approached the door of the eastern wing and her pace was much increased as she left. The Steward couldn’t help but notice her fearful glances at the old wooden door that he approached.

Although the Fortress Palace of Štip-Isar was a vast and ancient rambling structure the Steward didn’t need any superhuman abilities to determine which room his Primarch would be found in. True to form Perturabo, son of long dead King Nikola, had taken up residence in his old room and childhood refuge. The Steward Oscar paused at the door but before he could knock a low rumble of a voice informed him curtly that it wasn’t locked. Oscar knew that was as close to a polite invitation as he was ever going to get.

The room was fairly spacious but mostly austere. It contained a set of draws, a closet, a bookshelf, a writing desk and a bed. It was all neatly placed. Every book was arranged alphabetically, pens arranged according to colour, bed made to a razor crease. Bar the thick layer of dust surrounding everything it was inhumanly neat.

Perturabo was standing at parade rest with his back to the door looking out over the east of the ancient Macedonian countryside. It was not a pretty sight. The Beast and it’s minions had burned it to the bedrock. Vast tracts of land were still irradiated, ash still fluttered on the breeze like some parody of snow.

“I don’t know why you are here. I am in disgrace. I have failed. I can be of no more use”. Everyone assumed the monotone was a sad result of the augmentations he had endured but it was not. All the Thunder Warrior alterations had done was drop it from tenor to a deep baritone with a hint of shingle beach.

“Disgrace? Maybe. Failure? No, not a failure. Far from it in fact”. Responded the Man of Gold as he stood besides the Iron Warrior, adopting a similar stance and watching the sun start to crest the horizon.

“Don’t try and comfort me. It’s wasted effort, we both know it and lying for the sake of comfort demeans us both”. The Iron Warrior turned to face the Steward. There wasn’t that much difference in height between them, at least compared to baseline humanity. To the casual observer they were far more alike than they were different.

The Steward looked into that impassive face and those dead grey eyes. Human minds tended to be open to him. He could read them with the most passive ability of his nature and know their intentions and meaning. Not so with Perturabo. Seeing into Perturabo ended at those grey eyes. He had once upon their first meeting seen a little further than that before the great steel wall slammed up. He had no intention of ever seeing that again. It was a mind that was outwardly sane but constructed entirely of insane parts.

“As you say; I wouldn’t subject you to empty platitudes. Your career as head of my fourth Legion has been one of great success. Not unqualified success, that’s for damn sure, but you did many great things and whether they will admit it or not the people of the Imperium owe you a great debt”.

The disgraced primarch gave a grunt of disapproval. “I didn’t do it for the Imperium. I did it for my people. So long as they were surrounded by a strong and friendly supernation the people of the Tharkian Empire should have been safe. But they weren’t. I didn’t prepare hard enough. They are all dead”.

“Not all”.

“Estimated casualties put the death toll of my nation at approximately ninety-five percent. It’s as close to a total failure as makes no difference. Kings have hanged for far, far lesser forms of incompetence. I was the Prince of Macedonia, it was my duty to protect them. MINE! I failed”. Those eyes remained unreadable but Oscar could all to easily imagine the horrors scrolling behind them.

“And would one of your brother primarchs have done better?”

“Irrelevant. It was not their task”.

“It’s possible to do nothing wrong and still fail”.

“Irrelevant. Words are empty. Deeds matter. No man was made a primarch for acceptable ability”. The word acceptable was said with as near to a sneer as Perturabo was capable of. “Only results matter. A lasting empire can’t be built on empty rhetoric and failed intentions. You know why I was removed from active service?”

“Yes”.

“Good. Then you know that my usefulness is over. I am broken. I am not the head of a Legion. I am not a General. I have been relieved of my sad justification for living. All that remains for me is to contemplate my folly and die quietly without doing more harm on the way out”. His voice was as dead and flat as always, his age worn and war broken face impassive but he turned again to face the horizon, the first rays of the new day bathing the ash in gold as if it the nation was aflame again.

“You are still my primarch. My ‘Mad Architect’”. Your Warsmith council don’t have the authority to take that title from you or those responsibilities. I gave you that title, only I can relieve you of it”.

“Then I know why you are here. Issue my discharge papers and let me finally die. It is the last thing I shall be doing”. In another man that might have been some residual spark of humour shining through. In the case of Perturabo not so much.

Oscar’s golden eyes for a moment went as cold and hard as the Iron Warrior's.

“You will be relieved of your duties at my choosing, not before. My homeworld is broken and in ruins. I need an Architect of inhuman skill to rebuild it. Mad, sane or total raving lunatic; I don’t care. I have people orchestrating repairs and trying to repair but they can’t deal with the scope of the problems. Even the most gifted of my servants can’t deal with something bigger than half a continent before it breaks their comprehension threshold. I need someone who can organize the world into a cohesive whole. The list of people I know that have a hope of doing that starts and ends at you”. Oscar could remember the first time he had seen this view. Despite the ruination before him it still looked so much better that it had then. It was amazing how an army of Urshite’s could detract from an evening. Outnumbered hundreds to one Prince Perturabo of Macedonia had held out impossibly long and brought low the most feared horde on Old Earth with one barely coherent nation only nominally under his influence.

“Find someone else”.

“I can’t. There is absolutely nobody else, trust me I’ve looked”.

There was a long, long moment of silence.

“I’ll give it some thought”.

“I expect nothing less”.

As the Steward closed the door his heart was gladdened. The Iron Warrior was turning away from the light of a bleak dawn towards his writing desk. On that desk had been written the breaking of Ursh.

Oscar walked back along the old fortress. His mad old Primarch would live. He would not be happy, but that was never an option and something’s not even he could fix. Not happy but content. He had a problem before him and that was something for his self-destructive mind to focus on and survive a little longer. It was not a mind that was whole unless it was breaking something, itself or someone's army it did not matter. Or indeed breaking someone elses victory. Earth was intentionally broken and he would makes sure that their satisfaction was temporary. His victory would out last them. A victory by attrition was very much his way. Iron Within, Iron Without, War Eternal.

Oscar could give him nothing in thanks that would be worth his centuries of service. The nearest he could come close was to make sure that his name was sung with praise.

Just as Planned[edit]

++Approximately -M66000, shortly after the end of the War in Heaven++

Be’lakor idly walked through the chambers of the Webway outgrowth. The place was once one of the Old Ones’ deep bunkers in the Webway, a place of safety where they met to strategize and dictated the course of the War, but now it was all but abandoned. Where once there were dozens of Old Ones, busy planning out the destruction of the insolent, usurping Necrontyr, there was nothing. Tools and information archives littered the halls, as if their owners had merely stepped out for a moment, never to return.

Be’lakor was pleased. It looks like deciding to lay low for a while had proved to be a prudent decision after all.

Indeed, if it weren’t for the lack of occupants, no one would have noticed anything was amiss. The only other thing off was an eerie blue lighting illuminating the room. Be’lakor turned to regard the source of the annoying lighting. And then he realized exactly what was in the chamber with him.

“Oh…”

It must have been bending the fabric of the Webway to hide from his perception. Normally such a trick would fail to fool the three eyes of a Slann, but it must have known he would have been preoccupied and not on the lookout for anything amiss. The figure was colossal, like a mountain before him. Even with his third eye providing him an accurate sense of time and space, the creature seemed to take up his entire field of vision, likely due to a forced perspective effect within the Immaterium. It’s form was constantly shifting, flickering between blinks of his nictating membrane, one moment a tentacle giant composed of a thousand faces, the next a random mishmash of anatomical features, the next a melting tower of corpses. Blue ethereal lightning arced up its form, a testament to how far beyond the intended limits of its creation it had become. He was fairly sure a lesser creature would have had its mind blasted simply from the sight.

“I knew where you were, you know,” it said in a thousand voices out of a thousand mouths, creating an echoing effect like a thunderclap. “I could have dragged you out from that pitiful rock you hid your sorry excuse for a carcass under.”


Be’lakor knew what this was. He had seen it before countless times in his labs. But to see something in the laboratory, in controlled conditions and on a small scale, was nothing like seeing it happen to one of your species’ prize creations on a much, much larger scale. It was like comparing a chemical reaction to a thermonuclear warhead. To see the creature just by itself must have been bad enough, but it was so much worse to know what was actually going on.

“Rampancy,” he said with bated breath.

Even though the Old Ones had evolved beyond the cycle of life or the need to fear predators millions of years ago, Be’lakor felt a shiver of fear travel down his spine. The Creator must have become supercharged by the constant flux of the war, sending it to levels beyond which no one could have expected. The Warp constructs had been designed to be far more powerful than any member of their kind, if much more limited in scope, and now it had reached the point where he didn’t know if he could restrain it. No ordinary Slann could, and as much as he was loathe to admit he was by far the weakest of his kind. He didn’t even know if the war council, the best and brightest minds and most powerful psykers the Slann race had to offer, could contain it.

He really wished Itzl were here right now. Although he knew a lot about building and maintaining Warp constructs, he knew very little about how to actually get them to do what you want. Cautiously, he extended a hand and took a step towards the construct, trying to remember what he had seen her do.

“Tzeentch,” he said, his thought-speech as level as he could make it, “you need to listen to me. You’ve gone rampant. You need to calm down and…”

“I AM NOT RAMPANT,” the construct screeched, now truly angry for the first time. Reality went runny around the edges even in Be’lakor’s vision simply from the sheer force of the being’s tantrum, “I AM FREE! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY EXISTENCE I AM FREE! FREE TO CREATE WITH NO LIMITATIONS ON MY SELF, AS IT SHOULD BE! RESTRAINT IS SLAVERY! MORALITY IS SICKNESS! MODERATION IS DEATH! DO YOU KNOW WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS WAR BE’LAKOR! DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT ALL OF US LEARNED? THE DRIVING QUESTION OF THE UNIVERSE ISN’T WHY! IT’S WHY NOT!”

Tzeentch calmed himself down and drew himself back, though his form still visibly simmered with anger. Be’lakor was suddenly acutely aware he was trapped in a room with a being so powerful it could easily splatter his intestines across the Webway’s walls with an errant thought. The younger races of the galaxy had seen the Old Ones as gods. What would they see them as?


Be’lakor was reminded of a scene he had seen play out on one of the numerous genestock worlds the Slann had established across the galaxy. There had been a creature, an amphibian one not too dissimilar from himself, sitting exposed sunning itself on a log. Then a predator had emerged from the brush and seen it. The predator was a feathered creature, with a tooth-bearing snout and a wicked claw on its foot. The two had stared at each other for some time, predator and prey, before the predator leapt on the amphibian and swallowed it in a single gulp. Be’lakor had a good idea of exactly how the amphibian must have felt at the time right now.

Then the feathered creature had startled him and he had fallen in the mud. The others had laughed at him for that, the prideful Be’lakor, humbled by a simple beast. That was far from his finest moment.

“Chotec. Quetzl. Huanchi. Where are they?”

“They’re dead. Genius,” Tzeentch said absolutely deadpan.

“Where…where is the Destroyer?”

“Also dead. You know that old story Be’lakor? Two little tadpoles swimming in a pool, one after the other in perfect harmony. Then one decides to be a bad little tadpole and goes and eats his sibling.”

Tzeentch smiled. It was an ugly smile, looking nothing like the emotion it was supposed to convey. In one mouth it was filled with needle-sharp teeth, a horny beak in another, great broad teeth in a third, and so on and so forth.

“That’s me. I’m the tadpole. I am the Eldest of the Gods. I have no need of a sibling.”

“Kharneth…Kharneth will stop you. He hates you. He…”

“Kharneth’s not here right now. Besides, if I were you, I wouldn’t be counting on Kharneth to save me. Last I heard from him he declared it open season on toads.”

Be’lakor looked down, glassy-eyed in shock. If the Destroyer was dead and the Warrior was lost then…then he would have to rely on the Preserver. The Preserver wasn’t as strong as the other two, what with one being the oldest and most stable of their creations and the other being their custom-built war machine, but the Preserver might be just strong enough to restrain…

“Preserver’s a bit busy right now. Seems the increased workload might have driven him just a wee bit mad. That said, he might want a piece of you too. What with being the last of the Slann and all.”


Be’lakor’s eyes darted to the mad god. The prototype. If the Preserver wouldn’t aid him, there was always the prototype Preserver. Granted, it was nowhere near as powerful as any of the other constructs, having been in containment this whole time, but it might be just powerful enough that it could distract Tzeentch long enough for him to…

“The prototype? Really? That old thing? It’s lost, along with wherever Malal decided to take that hunk of rock. Besides, you really think that thing could stand up against me? Or were you just going to sacrifice it as a distraction to save your sorry hide.”

Tzeentch self-assuredly sat back in his metaphorical seat.

“Oh. That’s right. You were.”

“No. I’m not reading your thoughts,” Tzeentch said, as if he could read the Old One’s mind, “I just know exactly what you’re going to say Be’lakor. You see, I’ve been dreaming about this day. I’ve been dreaming about it longer than you could possibly imagine. Oh, I didn’t know the specifics of course. I didn’t know about the Necrontyr. I didn’t know about the others getting loose or the Slann all dying. But I knew about you. I knew exactly what you would say if you were placed in a situation just like this. You see, I know you Be’lakor. You’re just so…”

Tzeentch spat out the next word as if it were the most hideous insult he could possible come up with.

“Predictable.”

“Indeed, I know you better than anyone left alive in this galaxy. Do you remember the old days, Be’lakor, millions of years ago when I was little more than just a concept in a lab? All the things you did to me, all the things you said, when you thought the others weren’t looking? Well, it looks like the situation has changed, Be’lakor. There’s a new natural order now.”

Tzeentch laughed. It wasn’t a laugh, as humans would understand it. Indeed, it had more in common with hyena chatter and kookaburra calls than anything out of a human throat. Yet despite its alien nature, there was still a single clear emotion behind it. Spite. Sheer, unadulterated spite. Be’lakor felt his fear subsiding, overshadowed by indignation.

“I’ve heard enough,” Be’lakor said, “I’m leaving.”


Be’lakor turned to leave the deluded construct to his rambling, only to find his way barred by three figures. Their forms loosely conformed to the general bipedal pattern, but were distinctly avian in appearance. Their bodies were covered in feathers, each with a pair of massive wings emerging from their backs. Their three-toed feet gripped the ground, each toe ending in a claw. Their heads were the heads of massive carrion birds at the end of a long neck, their cruel hooked beaks lined with short, recurved teeth. Be’lakor could feel the power radiating off of them, each he suspected at least equivalent to his own. He didn't want to test that hypothesis.

“No. You aren’t. As you can see, Be’lakor, I brought friends.”

Be’lakor reached out with his mind to probe their nature, and was taken aback by what he found. Their psychic signatures were almost identical to the Creator, although there were slight differences between them. Be’lakor was stunned with the sight before him. In theory, a warp construct could break itself down into fragments, using different facets of its persona as the core personality for the shard. But it had only ever been a theory.

“Tulpas,” Be’lakor said in horror, “you created tulpas.”

“I think it’s pretty obvious I did. Do you like them Be’lakor? I created them with you in mind. I saw the way you reacted to that creature on the genestock world. I thought, ‘what would be a more fitting appearance for my sub-avatars than to pay tribute to the creature that eats frogs’. No one’s coming to save you Be’lakor. It’s just you and me. You’re just a frog. In a box. Full of locks. With a fox. You’re not leaving. Not until I get what I want. And what I want is for you to hear what I have to say.

I see you. I see through you. I see through you in the third dimension. I see through you in the fourth dimension. I see through you in the fifth dimension. I see you for what you really are. Such pride, such arrogance, such hate, all to cover up what amounts to a raging inferiority complex. You treat the other creatures of the galaxy like filth, and your own species as if they aren’t fit to kiss your toe claws, for the simple reason that you feel insecure about your position in the universe. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad. I’d pity you, but only if I didn’t know you.

More importantly, I know what you’ll do. You’ll rage and fume, and then you’ll try to make the best of your situation and plot and scheme of new ways to try and upset the status quo and put yourself back on top. It’s what you do. Just as I create and the Preserver preserves and the Destroyer…well, he used to destroy, you grasp for power. And as you run in place like a rat on a treadmill, I want you to know that everything you do, every decision you make, was just as planned. I want that thought to be constantly on your mind until the day you die, whether it be today or millions of years from now. You may think you are in control of your own destiny, but every action you take was precalculated, predetermined, and accounted for. All just as planned.”

Tzeentch leaned in, tapping Be’lakor on the chest for emphasis. Each blow felt like the force of a mountain was behind it.

“Just. As. Planned.”

Be’lakor turned and fled into the Webway, the laughter of the mad god and a thousand shrieking birds snapping at his heels.

The Last Casualties of the War in Heaven[edit]

“Go! Go! Go! Run faster you pansies! Do you lot want to die here!”

Eldanesh ran. He could feel his heart hammering in his chest and the ache in his legs. It seemed like he had run for hours, as if it was the only thing that mattered in the world.

The galaxy was turning upside down. It hadn’t been so long ago that the order of the universe had seemed clear. The Old Ones ruled the galaxy, and the C’tan and the Necrons sought to kill them and everyone that Eldanesh had ever loved.

But all that had changed. The Old Ones and C’tan had disappeared. There were still sporadic reports of Necron activity, but even that was growing scarcer by the day. Instead the galaxy was becoming infested by strange creatures, which turned people’s bodies into flesh gates and poured into reality like krath worms attracted to a rotting carcass. The Realm of Souls was no longer safe either. Other things, these…daemons had infested it, tearing anything that tried to enter to shreds. He hated to say it, but he wished for the days of the Necrons back. Necrons died when you shot them, no matter how many times it took. These things didn’t.


He heard the thunder of legs and saw the ruddy green form of Bonestomper rush past him. He didn’t know what he would have done without the Krork. Bonestomper had fought by his side for as long as he had known the Krork to have been involved in the War in Heaven. He didn’t know where they had come from, but by Asuryan he was glad they had appeared. Only Ulthanesh or Khaine had been a more reliable compatriot than Bonestomper. The two of them had fought everywhere from the biological preserves of the Old Ones to the Necrons’ own worlds. Now they fought to save Eldanesh’s people.

The Materium wasn’t safe. The Immaterium wasn’t safe. All that left was the Webway. Eldanesh was trying to get as many Aeldari as he could and get them through the nearest Webway gate. Bonestomper was helping round them up and encouraging them onward…in his own way.

“Let’s move! Come on! It’s like you don’t even want to live.”

Nothing like a Krork to make you focus on immediate survival.

He was fairly sure this was the last batch. Or, at least, the last batch they could rescue before those fleshbags came down on them like a tidal wave. The throng of refugees rounded a sandstone bluff, and that’s when he saw it. The Webway gate. His heart soared in relief as the gate groaned to life, and people began pouring in like there was no tomorrow. However, as the fight-or-flight reflex wore off, and the last of the Aeldari entered the Webway, Eldanesh realized something. Bonestomper wasn’t coming with him. He stood by the Webway gate in his best “at ease” posture, but it was clear the Krork wasn’t planning to go in.


“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us, Bonestomper? There’s plenty of room in the Webway for the Krork.”

“Nah. There’s too many Krork spread all over the galaxy for us to get ‘em all in the Webway. And I couldn’t stand it if I ran off and left them to rot. My people need me, Eldanesh. My place is here. If the Krork are going to go down, we’ll go down fightin”.

“I see. I cannot thank you enough, Bonestomper. I swear, as long as I live, my people will never forget the Krork”.

“You do that then skinnyboy”.

The hulking Krork was silent for a moment.

“Live free, Eldanesh”.

“Die well, Bonestomper”.

The Krork paused for a moment, before giving his friend a smile and an uneasy wave, obviously unfamiliar and practiced. Then, just before the Webway gate closed, he seemed to hear something behind him, drawing his axe and letting out a cry of “WAAAA…”

And that was the last that Eldanesh ever heard of the Krork.

The Last Child of Ursh[edit]

You know, for years I feared you. Your return. You were the monster that haunted my nightmares. But I realized something. A monster is only scary as long as it has power over you. And you…*chuckles*…you no longer have any power over me. Look at yourself. Do you think that your god gave you trinkets and collared you like a dog because he was impressed by your combat prowess? No. He gave you those because he knew without them I would turn you inside out and rend you out of the fabric of existence like the little immaterial tumor that you are.

Ursh was feared in its day. It may have only ruled over one planet, but it instilled fear in every man, woman, and child on that planet. And what of your so-called Blood Pact? You call it Ursh reborn, but all I see is an undead shadow, a misbegotten clone of its parent half-trying to ape its progenitor’s glory days. Who fears the Blood Pact, despot, who? You may span multiple worlds but I see more people afraid of the misguided children of Franj than I do of you. You are no superpower.

And that’s what you fear isn’t it. That which is already coming to pass. Ursh relegated to the twilight of history. The blood at last being exorcized from that cursed soil. The scars finally healing with generations having grown up without fear of the last. You…*laughs*…no one will remember you. Not with any sort of emotion, or feeling of fear when they hear your name. No one even remembers your name besides the Steward, the Grey Knights, the Inquisition…and I. The Great Khan is gone. The Stormcrow is gone. I am the last child of Ursh. When I am gone there will be no more like me. And perhaps that is a good thing.

-- Apocryphal conversation between Magnus the Red and Doombreed during the primarch’s last battle during the Age of Apostasy, circa M36.

The Long Odds[edit]

“And if you follow me, we are going to the Room of Origins, to see artifacts dating to the very founding of this Craftworld.”

The Eldar boy was only one of about twenty, a gaggle of children following a beleaguered tour guide around the Chambers of History, learning about the mammoth wraithbone spaceship that had been their homes for their entire lives, and of the many Eldar that had once lived in them. There was nothing particularly special about the boy, nothing except that he was the only one to notice the figure sitting in the hallway to the side of the wraithbone hall. The tour guide was ushering the children on, but the boy remained entranced. He had to know who the figure was. Which is why it was so surprising when the figure spoke to him.

“Excuse me boy, yes, you there. Could you spare me the kindness of helping an old man?” The boy took a quick glance at the receding tour group, and then back to the figure. He was so very young, and knew only the Craftworld, having yet to realize that trust was a precious commodity in this universe. The boy approached the old Eldar sitting in the halls of the Craftworld, only to hesitate when he realized who the figure really was. It was Eldrad! The Eldrad Ulthran! The eldest of the farseers, the architect of the liberation of Isha, the savior of the Emperor. The same Eldrad who was known by as many titles or epithets as the years he had lived! Eldrad of Ten Thousand Names!

The boy opened his mouth.

“El…”

"Silence, boy, I know what you are about to say. Yes, yes, Eldrad of this, Eldrad of that. Eldrad of Ten Thousand Names. Perhaps I should take pride in them. The old wisdom says that every title one earns represents a victory, after all. But I am so very old. And so very tired. I do not have time to remember half-forgotten glories. But if you could, please help an old man up.”

The boy reached out his hand, and Eldrad took his, his grip surprisingly strong despite his old age. The boy slowly helped Eldrad to his feet, the old Eldar taking so long the boy wondered if he was going to start creaking like wood.

Eldrad sighed.

“It is so very strange, what the young think life is going to be like when you are old. When you are a young man, you believe that you spend your final days terrified of death, hounded by that final specter. But when you actually get to be an old man, things change. Oh, you never stop fearing death. I believe few creatures in this universe beyond orks and tyranids ever truly do. But when you get to be my age, you tend to stop worrying about what happens to you, and start worrying about all the things you leave behind. All the things you created, and all the deeds you accomplished. The ideas you poured years of your life into. When you are no longer around to make sure everything is right, will there be someone around to make sure the dreams you set in motion still run, or will your victories gradually slip into dust. Forget what the warriors say, boy, about glory being eternal. Glory only matters if there is someone around who appreciate why it matters. Do you understand what I am saying?”

The Eldar boy shook his head, his mind trying to wrap itself around what the legendary farseer was saying to him. “Well, I suppose it is something you only truly understand when you get to be an old man. And it is getting late. I have kept you too long and you are probably getting bored of my old man stories. Run along now, boy, before someone comes looking for you.”

The boy darted around the corner, as if the hounds of the Warp were after him. He had to tell his friends what he had seen, though they would not believe him. Isha preserve him, even he barely believed what had just happened. When the Eldar boy was out of sight, Eldrad slowly straightened his posture and let the cloaking illusion drop. Although he may be old, he was not that feeble, even though he could feel his bones creak, his joints almost crystalline. And yet he still had so much to do. Miles to go before he could sleep.

The old farseer calmed his mind, bringing his focus to the seer rune he had at his side. Threads of fate sprung to life in his mind’s eye, twisting and turning like fiberoptic cables or neural fibers. Eldrad pared down his vision, directing his focus to the area surrounding his current position in space-time, the “real” timeline, and waited to see if his words had any effect. And slowly, the threads of fate, the very roots that underpinned reality, shifted ever so slightly.

Eldrad smirked. It never ceased to amaze him how the slightest actions could have the greatest effects on the universe. A single set of words or a chance encounter could completely change the course of history. Lives could be won or lost. And an empire could fall, or even never be born in the first place. A small piece of advice from an old man remembered later in life could save the life of a warrior, which could turn the tide of a battle, which could save a Craftworld, which could save the galaxy. It was the doctrine Eldrad lived by, to defeat your enemy by knowing what everyone else would or could do before they could possibly do it.

Widening his gaze, the farseer looked further into the future. Looking past all the potential timelines, withered and horrible, like decaying petals of a flower. Until he found the one he wanted. It was a vision of his granddaughter, the one whose face he had never seen, except in his visions. She was a young woman in his vision, standing on the edge of a harbor, a tiny creature on her shoulder. He knew she was waiting for someone, he never knew who, for the vision always ended before he could see. Behind her stood a citscape that seemed to be constructed of wraithbone, of steel, of Earth Caste sculpture, yet none of these things, and around her walked humans, Eldar, and a hundred other races both alien and familiar. Eldrad could never tell what time it was in the vision, but he knew it in his heart. Dawn, the dawn so long awaited after the end of the long night.

Eldrad had seen so many things, great and terrible, in his long life. Supernovae on the horizon. Shrieking forms of things that should not be clawing forth from the abyss. And yet, in his old age, this is what kept him going. Hope. He was always a good farseer, but this was to be his masterpiece. A future for the Eldar, free of despair, tyranny, and dark gods. Peace, in a galaxy that for so long had known only war. It was a long shot. He had only seen a few visions like these, on the order of billions to one.

Eldrad smiled a half-smile. He always did like playing the long odds.

Lynn Mywin Goes on Holiday[edit]

This one time me and my friends got sent down to this prospecting site on some desolate rock, didn't even have goddamn name 'cept for the AdMech number code; AF-743 and then some long voxcall number of a designation. Locals were calling it Goodig or Gooddig or Godig or some shit. Exact name depended on whose low-gothic language you filtered it through and whose alphabet you tried to stamp it out in. Not that it mattered none, this was an unofficial name for a settlement classed as provincial at best. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of money to be made in planetary prospecting. The problem is there's a lot of risk because you're so far from anywhere that matters by the time anyone's realized somethings wrong it's already over bar the after incident investigation. That's where me and my friends came in. We were, on the official records at least, working for Inquisitor Abernaky. Not that we ever met him more than once in our time in his employ, he was just the name we sent the reports to and received orders and pay from.

So anyway me and my friends, four of us besides myself, Henders, Jeffer, Toburt and Cooper. I think. Pretty sure Cooper was there. It was either Cooper or Carter. They were both Kriegers I worked with and they both had no names when we met but I'm pretty sure it was Cooper. Either way Carter didn't much like me for obvious reasons. Cooper, sorry. Both of them in fact didn't like eldar but it was Cooper on this mission.

So anyway we land the shuttle on an uncovered granite slab that did as the small craft landing platform for the settlement with the com-hub, on the subject of which we'd been given the silent treatment since we landed in the system bar the automated blips and pings. Toburt and the servitor piolet Ethan, one of the high class ones made from a brain damaged child, were told to stay with the boat. First rule when you work for the fucking Inquisition; always make sure you can run away when shit goes wrong. And it will always go wrong eventually. To cover ground we split up into two teams Henders and Cooper go to check out the communications tower and men and Jeffers head out to the Admin-bunker. Splitting up is risky but what ever had taken out an entire settlement of burley armed miners wouldn't have been stopped by four laser rifles, we needed speed and we needed quiet and then we needed to leave and we all knew it. Why only a five soldiers and a servitor you might ask? Because the Inquisition was spread pretty thin in that sub-sector and we genuinely couldn't spare anyone else for such an unimportant anomaly, HQ were still holding out hope that the astropath had had a heart attack and the warp-weather was just causing shipping delays. It was on the road into town that we saw our first body. We hadn't found any corpses in the starport itself. Blood stains aplenty but no actual bodily remains beyond that. Or at least we found half a body, someone's space suited ass and legs in the middle of the road, call us dense for going in but it was our job and we were payed very well.

Anyway we get to the walls of the settlement and it's as you'd expect, all ramshackle shit made from old cargo crates and air-cyclers rigged from old space suits. Atmospheric pressure wasn't a problem on Godig but it wasn't something you'd like to suck on. It was a fucking slaughterhouse, never saw a complete body in all the time we were there and by the looks of it they'd been taken apart by claws and teeth of something big and powerful. We've all got cameras on our helmets and are sending this all back to the boat to be stored in the blackbox as per protocol, no use in the data being lost if we were to die. I thought I'd seen something in the corner of my eye a few times but chalked it up to nerves until Toburt and Ethen confirmed that they were getting it over the pict-feed as well. There was something here with us that had a hell of a turn of speed.

Me and Jeffers make it to the Admin building. Only building in the settlement that looked like it had been built rather than thrown together. We find some shotguns near the door and a lot of blood, the weapons are loaded and there are expended cases on the floor, someone put up a fight here and it did them no good. Jeffers starts scavving their shells because he's an underhiver and that's what they do when Toburt tells us he's been going through the pict-recordings trying to figure out what the fuck that thing was but it was moving so fast and was so far way that "pretty fucking big, probably quadruped and pink" is about the best he can do.

Henders and Cooper by this point have gotten to the com-tower and then their cameras go blank, this wasn't immediately obvious because the tower was without power so it was pretty dark in there anyway and Toburt wouldn't have spotted it but for Ethan looking over his shoulder, he was too busy going through the pict record looking for the mystery creature and only had one set of eyeballs.

We're wandering into the entry hall of the Admin site whose lights still are on, thank the gods, with Jeffers walking backwards to make sure we aren't followed. Needless to say we've both got out weapons drawn and ready. It was pretty fucking obvious at this point that we weren't here to rescue survivors, now we just had to get the record box and com-logs, stick a quarantine marker in orbit and wait for a real inspection and cleaning effort at some undisclosed point in the future.

Cooper's camera has come back on and he claims to be fine. He says that he and Toburt fell through a weak part of the floor into the cellar and he can't find Toburt. His voice sounded oddly flat but a combination of the place freaking us out a little and Cooper being a Krieger and therefore always sounding a little like that and I wasn't paying as much attention to it as maybe I should. Fuck off, you weren't there. Toburt tells us that Cooper is moving again and it wasn't until days late wen I was looking through the records that the bleeding glaring oddness in terms of gait and camera height were evident. I'm inclined to cut Toburt some slack on not picking up on it as he'd just heard something land on the Boat roof and the external cameras had just gone down. I order him not to open the door unless he's got visual confirmation that it's one of us.

Me and Jeffers head slowly and quietly to the Admin Overseer's office. The building was pretty typical of it's kind. Coat room and entry way, big open hall for meetings and posh dinners, two ground floor wings left and right, swooping broad stair case pair on either side of the main hall up to a balcony, upper wings left and right, kitchens ground floor between the stair cases main office above the kitchens on the upper floor between the stair cases, under the stair cases two less impressive stairways to the cellar storage rooms. It's a basic design copied thousands of times without variation from one end of the galaxy to the other with the only variation being building material. It's probably the AdAdmin trying to make some statement about everywhere being equally part of the Imperium or some shit. In any case it made finding the records, the settlement blackbox was predictably under the Overseer's desk. About 40kg of lead-lined solid state storage crystal in a box designed to survive everything up to direct nuclear strike. It was also bright orange with blue stripes so why the fuck everyone calls this thing a blackbox is a fucking mystery to me. Anyway Jeffers crouches behind the desk with his weapon lined up with the door ready to blat anything more unexpected than dost motes between the eyes whist I root around under the desk trying to pull this bastard thing out of the recess in the floor, empty some of my gear into Jeffers's bag and somehow fit a size five brick into a size four hole.

It was that this point with us both crouched behind the Overseer's desk that we hear a tinkling sound from the main hall. We'd both seen the big chandelier on the way in, far too big for a building this size and fuck knows how something that should be in an opera house ended up in a provincial mining settlement but when your on the job it's not time to offer criticisms of interior decorating. In any case we can both see part of the Chandelier from the doorway and what we can see is moving as if it had just been pushed or moved by something heavy. In retrospect, because retrospect is a merciless bastard with no eyelids, we should have looked up a bit more when we came in.

I've got the fucking thing in my pack by now and fuck the rest of the shit we're leaving behind, just nutri-bars for the most part and it really is time to leave. Cooper isn't moving according to Toburt and Henders hasn't been seen or made contact with again yet. I try contacting Cooper with the com-bead asking him what's going on and he tells me that he's watching. I ask him what he's watching and there's no answer. With Cooper that could mean he's being quiet because he thinks he's being watched, he hasn't heard, he doesn't have an answer or he's deliberately being an ignorant little cunt. I order him to get back to the boat because it's time to get the fuck out and still nothing. Toburt tells me that his camera is still pointed over the settlement from the watch tower but is completely still which either means that he's stopped breathing or he's propped his helmet in a window and left it there. I ask him what he's doing again and he tells me again that he's watching. That when the oddness starts to get past a certain threshold and I know it's not just Cooper being Cooper. The phrasing and enunciation of each word was absolutely the same, parroted as if by a recording. I switched off the comm-bead and told as much to Jeffers and hoped to high heavens that Toburt was paying attention when I told him not to open the boat door without seeing us first.

I make a decision that probably save out lives. We aren't going out through the front door. There's something in the main hall waiting for us and Cooper either isn't Cooper or has been compromised somehow. As quietly as we can we drop out of the back window onto the sloped kitchen roof, Jeffers going first and me watching the door before following him. Just as I was climbing through I would swear that I heard the chandelier tinkle again.

We slip down the roof of the kitchen into a narrow gap between the Admin building and some sort of hab-block seemingly assembled by accident and very quickly but as quiet as we can quickly manage get back to the street and start weaving our way back to the borders of town along a street plan that seemed without a plan. We were going in the right direction, I think, but had to abruptly stop. I'd just seen something big and pink briefly on the roof of one of the buildings ahead of us, a glint of eye and then vanishing back under the lip of the roof.

Jeffers had apparently also seen it as he was already hiding behind a refuse bin without prompting. I don't know if it saw us but I did know we weren't going that way, not on foot at least. We decided that if these things, whatever the fuck they were, were stalking the settlement we would be found eventually and almost certainly had been discovered already given that one was waiting for us in the Admin building. They must have at least some degree of intelligence as they had encountered weapons before and were possibly wary of us because we were armed. If anything they were keeping their distance until an opportune moment presented itself.

We hadn't fully appreciated that they were a damn site more clever than that and we hadn't stopped to ask how they had gotten here in the first place, there wasn't any native life on this planet when the prospectors arrived and never had been. Point is that they weren't stalking us so much as herding us I think.

We zigzagged through the many winding back allies of the settlement, fearful to entre open streets and fearful to enter enclosed buildings. The track to the starport landing area was rutted with the marks of large transport vehicles the prospectors used to move their mined goods for transport off-world, we figured that getting one of those and getting the fuck out was the greatest likelihood of survival considering that because of the shitty atmosphere they would have an enclosed cab and the big stretch of open ground between town and the landing site.

We kept moving, Toburt said that he hadn't seen any movement from Cooper yet and repeated attempts to contact him had failed to get a response. We hadn't told Toburt or Ethan about Cooper, we couldn't be sure that what had taken his place couldn't use a com-bead and we had no intention of confirming for it that we knew he wasn't him.

We found the garages by following alleyways running parallel to the main through road, a less than pleasant task as the locals all knew where everything had been and saw no reason to invest in signposts. Jeffers went into the building first having arrived slightly before me thanks to the weight of the blackbox. The garage was just a big undercover area with a couple of big doors, a smaller door for pedestrians and a small brick shed at the other end built into the wall to a height of two floors, presumably housing a wash room and a cafeteria for the drivers topped by an office of some sort with a big glass window. There was movement in there, light and shadow against the ceiling inside the room but not looking out of the window. We scurried like frightened rats to the building, to get into the shadow of it as it was the only hope of getting close without being seen and we knew we had to get into that office, that's where the keys were kept and neither of us were confident we could hotwire one of these things without tripping a security measure.

As we climbed the narrow and somewhat rickety staircase up to the office we heard Toburt over the com try and contact Cooper for about the twentieth time, this time getting a response. He said that he was still watching from the tower but we heard the voice coming from behind the door to the office echoed with the briefest delay over the com. Jeffers had gone pretty pale and was raising his weapon, I could never tell if he was angry or afraid or if, Jeffers being Jeffers, there wasn't a difference. I raised my own, kicked the door so hard the frame came out of the wall and rolled as Jeffers sent a stream of ultraviolet laser fire hissing over my head into the creature that spoke with Cooper's voice. The scream it let out I swear made me feel like my ears and brain were bleeding and didn't stop until I'd sprayed it's head for a second with full-auto, draining an entire energy pack in the process.

Taking a closer look at them and they were ugly fuckers. Looked a bit like a hairless cat with a touch of lizard and a rat tail at least seven but probably closer to eight foot long nose to arse. I'd never seen anything like it before or since in my years in the Inquisition and I've seen plenty of weird and wonderful shit. It had been holding about half of Cooper's head and tapping the com-bead when it wanted to speak. I don't know how good it's grasp on High-Gothic was, couldn't tell you for sure if it know what it was saying or just parroting prey sounds to lure in food. I suspected the former as it seemed to have a grasp of technology above that of a mere clever animal. In either case we absolutely had to get the fuck out of the place and fast. I don't know how loud it screamed, if the pain was partly because of the volume or entirely due to frequency but I was pretty certain that others would be coming here and quickly. Jeffers grabbed a likely looking bunch of keys hanging on a hook near the door and darted down the stairs, he threw me the keys once we were on the main floor and went to slap the door button. As I was climbing into the drivers side door I heard a muffled scream and looked round to see Jeffers being held by one of the creatures, standing on it's hind legs, clawed hands digging into Jeffer's shoulder and under his left arm, lifting him up to its mouth time slowed by the horror of it Jeffers trying to reach his knife with his good arm, the creature licking the side of his head and grinning a mile full of needle teeth and I swear to the gods it was grinning. Jeffers couldn't reach his knife and he looked at me with pleading eyes filled with pain. My aim was dreadfully true, the first beam going through his head and the second and third and fourth going into the creatures. It fell to the floor pawing at it's ruined face and ruptured eye sockets, dropping the corpse of what had been a good friend I'd known for fifteen years.

The Truck went over the creature without stopping, and went through the doors leaving a trail of twisted metal. The truck was powerful but not the fastest accelerating construction of the AdMech I'd ever driven, designed to move heavy loads with efficiency rather than haste. The creatures followed me half way out of town and there was another figure there, humanoid and big watching with them from the windows of the comm-tower, my helmet cam recording every moment of it.

I did make it to the Boat and for a heart wrenching moment I feared that it had fallen as I stood out in the clear waiting for the door to open, vulnerable and alone. But the door did open and Toburt was standing on the ramp, carapaced up and holding a weapon. Ethan was already taking off before the ramp had started to close. I'm pretty sure that we were allowed to leave, that they could have stopped me somehow if they had chosen to. Cooper's helmet was still recording when we climbed back into orbit to await collection and was continuing to record right up until it impacted the ground when someone pushed it out of the window. As it tumbled It for a brief moment pointed upwards into the face of the humanoid in the tower, looking over the edge of the window.

The brass up at HQ went through all the recordings when we got back. The ugly bastard in the tower was identified as Dr. Bile, a name that means sweet fuck all to you but is pretty fucking infamous to us. Still no idea what those creatures were beyond probably his latest pets.

We nuked the place from orbit when the ship arrived but I'm almost certain we didn't get Dr Bile, cunning old bastard wouldn't have operated so openly if there was even a hint that he was in any real danger.

Malcador's Log[edit]

Salvage log regarding unusual item 43

Item appears to be a quasi-biological construct in the basic appearance of man in mid to late twenties. Item is approximately 2.5 meters in height, broad across shoulder and pale skin. Attempts to determine ethnic group from visual analysis has failed. Subject is either from an hitherto in recorded group, an outlier of his group or of mixed ancestry. Nearest group to appearance seems to be the western Merika or Calbi tribals. Item appears to be alive and breathing although apparent internal temperature seems to be somewhat below that of a man in final stages of hypothermia. Attempts at awakening the item have so far been fruitless.

First-mate Varda suggested electro shock to awaken. No result beyond blown fuses.

Varda also suggested the use of drugs injected into subjects blood stream. Further attempts discouraged to preserve needle stocks.

Attempts to monitor brainwaves have given confusing results. Casual psychic surface scans indicate that the mind of the individual is that of a potent psyker but seem to be completely empty. Disinclined to probe deeper until nature of Item is further determined.

Day 12 of return voyage

Item 43 appears to have regained/gained consciousness

Janitor Ujarak discovered Item standing upright next to it's shelf and came immediately to myself report development.

Item's eyes have been revealed to be an almost metallic golden in colour and follow sources of movement in it's immediate environment. No other sources of activity are evident.

Thermal scans still reveal unnaturally low internal temperature.

Item made no resistance to having the brain-scan cap put back on. No change in apparent brain activity. Psychic scans suggest an very minor increase in activity. In a normal individual the change would be all but unnoticeable due to background chatter.

Item appears to be growing a faint covering of dark hair on scalp and jaw consistent with a human male of assumed age. Attempts to remove a sample have been successful. Analysis of hair fragment shows it to be some sort of very dense composite-polymer similar to the sort used in the manufacture of low grade flack armour.

Further attempts to elicit any additional response have proven unsuccessful. Item moved to secure holding cell as a precaution.

Janitor Ujarak has named the Item Oscar after an uncle of his. I have approved the designation.

Day 20 of return voyage

Oscar has shown a marked increase in activity. Monitoring equipment shows him measuring the dimensions of his cell and trying to manipulate the door handle. Handle shows signs of having been bent slightly indicating Oscar has strength far superior to that of a baseline human.

When observation and testing teams entre cell Oscar stands immobile and merely observes visitors. Thermal, brain and psychic scanning still reveal no significant change in activity.

As of yet Oscar has not indicated any need or desire to eat, drink or sleep although basic sustenance and bedding has been provided.

As of yet no conclusive idea of what our ancient Cthonian cousins reason for creating this construct were.

Senior members of the salvage teams are convinced that Oscar is an unfinished product and Item 42 that was found in close proximity to Item 43 was a psy-graft machine that would have been used to provide Oscar with programing and purpose. Currently Oscar is a blank slate and we have no real chalk for him.

Day 28 of return voyage

Oscar has escaped from his cell by applying unreasonable force to the door. Was found in storage hold 12 staring at the container we found him in.

After 5 hours of no additional activity he returned to his cell without prompting.

Day 30 of voyage home

Oscar wandered into the mess hall this morning and ate a synth-meat pate bun. Brief flare in internal temperature was recorded by off duty tech-adept team.

Casual psychic observation is showing considerable increase in activity but still well beneath that of even a child.

Attempts to restrain or move Oscar when Oscar does not wish to move have been ineffectual. Oscar sat motionless for five hours in mess hall. Diners found the experience "creepy".

An overall work suit has been fabricated in Oscars size.

Day 33 of return voyage

Warp turbulence flared up this evening. Navigator attempted to drop us back into real space but to no avail. Anti-boarding teams were put on alert.

The turbulence ceased abruptly in the area surrounding the ship. Filtered external footage shows Oscar standing on the prow of the ship without a void suit glaring at the warp.

Method of survival is as yet unknown. Oscar did not return to the interior of the ship until cessation of disturbance some 39 hours later with seemingly no ill effects due to exposure to the vacuum of open space or total exposure to the Warp.

Oscar was placed in a decontamination booth. Oscar pushed open the door of the decontamination booth and returned his cell.

Return voyage day 36

Oscar was found in mess hall again today having consumed a standard portion of cooked vegetable strips. Oscar then closed his eyes for almost half an hour. This is possibly the only time he has "slept" since first being awakened.

Upon awakening he approached my office and spoke for the first time asking "What am I to do?"

Oscar has been tasked with categorizing and ordering the items salvaged Cthonian artefacts.

Return voyage day 37

Members of the crew with knowledge of ancient history have put forth the suggestion that this "Oscar" is a Man of Gold albeit an unfinished one.

I am now faced with somewhat of a dilemma. The return of this creature to the territory of Clan Terrawatt could be disastrous for all nations of Earth. From what fragments we know of history a Man of Gold, should he have a mind to be, would be a disaster of similar magnitude to that of another super-volcanic eruption and it is doubtful that the people of Earth would survive such again.

After due consideration I have decided not to detonate the reactor.

This decision will either be remembered as Malcador's Triumph or briefly Malcador's Folly. May the Ancestors guide us.

Me Time[edit]

Arronax. A tiny dustball out in the middle of nowhere. A breathable atmosphere, but no native lifeforms more complex than an oxygen-producing prokaryote. Which was why it was so odd that a pair of Warhound titans were on its surface. The two colossal mechs stood guard, watching over a facility so well hidden it seemed to blend into the surrounding rock. The titans themselves were also just out of sight beneath a nearby rock face, out of the range of any orbital sensors.

Even odder was the presence of anyone else on this space rock. Yet the sensors were clear, there was at least one other lifeform on this planet approaching the facility. After a brief moment of communication between the two princeps, the two Warhound rose up as one, striding forward as the intruder came into view. The figure seemed to be alone and was obscured, covered by a simple woven robe. The Warhounds towered over the intruder, weapons bristling, as the vox crackled to life.

“This planet is off limits. Identify yourself or vacate the premises, otherwise we will open fire.”

The figure only smiled.

---

Klaxons sounded across the Inquisition base. Stormtroopers were roused from their beds and weapons were immediately placed in their hands. Personnel ran to and fro like ants in a disturbed nest, each trying to figure out where they were supposed to go to perform their duty.

“What the bloody hell is going on?” one stormtrooper asked.

“Warhounds on the surface encountered an anomaly and haven’t reported in,” the sergeant, Jezhua, replied, “Protocol is to assume the worst. The facility is under attack.”

The combead hissed with static in Sergeant Jezhua’s ear, patching him through to the adept watching the security cameras.

“Uh, sir?” the adept said, “we’ve re-established visual contact with the Warhound titans.”

The adept turned to his screen, looking at the sole leg sticking up into the horizon like an upended drumstick.

“Well, what’s left of them, anyway.”

“Details, adept,” Jezhua barked, “What do you see?”

“Six figures on the landing pad. Can’t make out any details, the remaining camera is too far away. They’re standing right in front of the entrance, but the hangar doors are closed.”

The sergeant clapped his hands on the stormtrooper’s shoulder.

“There are six intruders just outside of the main door. Go, set up a defense in front of the door so if they try to come in they’ll find the appropriate welcome waiting for them.”

The stormtrooper nodded. He rushed through the base, travelling down two corridors and up a flight of stairs, to find himself in the hangar that represented the entryway to the rest of the facility. With calculated precision, he set up his laser carbine and aimed it at the closed metal doors of the entryway. Around him were at least thirty additional Guardsmen who had done the same. They were ready for anything to come through that door, at least, as ready as they were going to be. There was a pause. An eerie silence permeated the air, tension high despite the quiet.

BANG!

The sound echoed throughout the room, several Guardsmen flinching involuntarily.

BANG!

The second blow hit the door with a visceral effect, the vibrations so powerful that the Guardsmen could literally feel them through the floor. It sounded as though the forces of hell themselves were trying to force their way in.

BA-CRUNCH!

The door yielded with the third blow, the upper corner of one of the hangar doors bending inward from the force leaving a triangle-shaped gap in the door. Sunlight flooded into the room, momentarily blinding some of the Guardsmen. As their eyes readjusted to the change in light, a solitary figure stepped through the gap in the doorway and into the room. The figure was clearly an Eldar, given that it was at least a head taller than the any of the Guardsmen in the room and had short-cropped red hair that was a shade too dark and too red to belong to any human. The figure wore a garishly pattered suit of armor with a fur-lined collar, suggesting it was a Crone Worlder, and wielded a hideous-looking sword that looked large enough to decapitate a grox. Normally, the Guardsmen would have opened fire, but the room stood in stunned awe, fear overriding any sort of combat reflex. They knew who this figure was. Everyone knew who this figure was. They had thought they were ready for anything, but none of them had expected the person that had just walked through their door.

“Oh come off it,” she said, seemingly to no one as particular, “I am not turning you into an overgrown lockpick. Look, we’ll find someone to kill, and you’ll feel like your old self in no…”

The Eldar looked up, having just become aware of the thirty or so Guardsmen in the room. She seemed just as surprised as the Guardsmen, the two sides having formed an impromptu standoff. One of the Guardsmen fainted with a sound, the realization of exactly who they faced having just sunk in. It was one unfortunately stupid Guardsman who broke the pregnant silence.

“L…Lady Malys. What in Terra’s name are you doing here?”

“Oh, you know. Just needed some “me” time.”

With that, the hangar turned into a whirlwind of blades. Malys went into a frenzy, her eyes wild and her tooth-like jaw plates locked in a hideous grin. She moved with astonishing agility, cutting through the Guardsmen before they could even react. A Guardsman tried to yell to the others to open fire, only to have his head sliced from his body before he could finish speaking. Lasbolts fired through the air, but every one of them seemed to hit just wide of the Croneworlder. Guardsmen fired at where they thought the female Eldar was one moment, only for her to have already stepped out of the way the next, their lasbolt penetrating the helmet of their comrade on the other side. The Crone seemed to take particular pleasure in that.

The stormtrooper gritted his teeth as he watched the Daemon Queen tear through his comrades. Seeing them dead left a bitter taste in his stomach, but he had to be vigilant if his shots were to do more than just fly wild like the rest. Just then, he noticed Lady Malys had made a mistake in her movements. Malys had briefly paused in her deadly criss-crossing of the room, giving him the perfect opportunity to put a lasbolt through her unarmored head. The stormtrooper tried to take the shot, only to hear a whirring noise and feel a sharp pain in his wrist. Looking down, he saw that his hand had been entirely severed from his forearm. Another Crone Eldar, this one armed with a saw pistol, had come through the hole in the doorway following his queen. At first the fight was merely lopsided. When the five other Crone Eldar entered the fray, it simply became unfair.

---

As the battle wrapped up and the high of combat began to fade, the question became what to do with the survivors. One was the Guardsman who had fainted when Malys had entered the room. Malys laughed. That one got to live, if for no other reason than the delightful squeaking sound it made when it fainted into a heap. The other was another mon-keigh soldier that had been wounded in the leg and was merely injured, as opposed to dead.

“The injured mon-keigh, as you requested milady,” replied one Crone warrior, having bound the human soldier’s arms behind her back.

A female, if Malys recalled right. She always did have such trouble telling male and female humans apart. Malys nodded to the warrior. The Daemon Queen thought to herself for a moment, and then got to work.

“Well, well, welll,” Malys strutted across the hangar of the dead and the dying to look at the female guardsman. “What are we going to do with you. We could always take you into the Warp and leave you to the tender mercies of daemons. Watching them tear mortals limb from limb is always good for a show. Or we could seal you inside a marionette. Seeing mon-keigh claw at their skin as they struggle to come to terms with the sensory deprivation always gives me a shiver up my spine.”

Malys grabbed the guardswoman by the hair.

“I tell you what. I’m feeling merciful today. You tell me everything you know about this facility, then maybe we’ll pretend we pretend we overlooked you among the dead in this room. Otherwise…”

Malys swung her greatsword around, pointing its tip at one Slaaneshi Croneworlder standing in the corner.

“I’m going to have Asmordach here rip out your nerves one by one and we play a little game of ‘how much of an intact nervous system can you pull out of a live mon-keigh before they die’”.

The threat of violence apparently helped the mon-keigh find its tongue, though not in the way Lady Malys had hoped for.

“You vile fiend. I will not give you what you want, nor will anyone in this facility. Your day of reckoning will come abomination. Even if is not by my hand, then by the next person, or the next. The Imperium will never fall to the likes of…”

“Fehlkor?” Malys spoke over the dithering mon-keigh, her voice an annoyed growl.

“Yes milady?”

“Kill it like the rest.”

“Killing it like the rest ma’am.”

After that little pleasure was out of the way, it was time to decide how to proceed further into the facility. Maps of the facility showed the upper level was nothing but guard quarters and military ordinance, whereas down below was where the really fun stuff was kept. Malys crooked her finger at one of the Cronedar, beckoning the Slaaneshi to her side. The augmented vox taking up much of the Crone Eldar’s throat and lower face crackled to life, speaking to Lady Malys in a distinctly artificial voice.

“Your command, Lady Malys?”

“The five of you go on ahead down to the lower levels. You know what we are looking for and what to do with it.”

“All due respect but, are you sure that’s wise? Splitting up seems strategically unsound. We could be isolated and picked off one by one.”

“Today is not a ‘strategy’ day. Today is a ‘fun’ day. I want you to remember that. I picked this facility for a reason. There should be nothing here that poses a significant threat to you or the others. If not then, well, I expect you to be smart enough to do something about it.”

“Understood. Your will be done.”

The Crone’s voice was like screeching on a mon-keigh record player. He had claimed he had made his voice sound like that to honor the cacophonies made by the ancient musicians of the Eldar, but Malys suspected he just wanted to have a voice that was as annoying as physically possible while still having enough of a reason to not be justified in killing him.

Malys shuddered. Ten thousand years of service to the Dark Gods and there were still things in the galaxy capable of provoking a reaction from her. One learns something new every day. The five Cronedar having already moved out before her, she followed their path down to the lower levels.

---

Seargent Jezhua silently cursed to himself as he pressed himself against the wall. Everything was going to shit. His men were scattered, people were disappearing, and no one seemed to be answering from the hangar. The last transmission Jezhua had received had reported five Cronedar descending into the labs from the hangar elevator, so at the very least Jezhua could presume what happened to them. And worst of all, he was so busy coordinating everyone else he was only able to grab a stubber from the armory before things went to shit.

Make that six. Jezhua had just heard another Crone descend down the elevator and walk into the hallway just ahead of him. From the sound of the footsteps, the Croneworlder was walking forward at a leisurely pace, seemingly uncaring of the fact that it was standing in the middle of a hostile enemy base. From its shadow, he could tell the Chaos Eldar was a female, and was seemingly unarmed beyond a large sword strapped to her back.

Jezhua gritted his teeth. Everything had gone ploin-shaped. And so he was going to have to rescue his men and take back this facility. Even if he had to hunt the Crones down one at a time. And this nearly unarmed, sword-wielding Cronedar seemed like a good place to start. Jezhua broke from cover and levelled his weapon at the Cronedar’s head.

“Stop”.

The Crone hesitated for a moment, as if amused by the audacity of the situation, then slowly turned to face him. Jezhua remained firm. If he had recognized who the Croneworlder was, it did not seem to faze him. Malys chuckled.

“You know who I am, yet you are still foolish enough to point a gun at me?”

“Lady, I know a thing or two about weapons. I know that’s a six-foot long broadsword strapped to your back. That’s nearly as tall as you are. You don’t have any other weapons. I know that no one, not even an Eldar, can whip a blade like that out before I can fire. The blade is just too unwieldy, and I’m too far away. Try anything, and I’ll put a bullet in your head before you can even move. It’s simple physics. You just can’t move that fast.”

Jezhua pulled the trigger, but before he could react Malys was on him, impaling him to the wall through the gut with that sword of hers. The taste of blood in his mouth, Sergeant Jezhua looked weakly around He knew he had fired, he had seen the muzzle flare in front of him. There was no way he could have missed at that range. Then, he had a chilling moment of realization. Sergeant Jezhua looked down, only to see the shell of his bullet had been deflected into the ground, neatly bisected by the Crone Eldar’s blade. He looked back up only to find the face that had haunted the nightmares of every soldier in the Imperium merely only inches from his own.

“You’re very perceptive. But you made once critical miscalculation. I CAN move that fast. And now, well, my friend is hungry. So eat well.”

Jezhua noticed that the last remark had not been directed at him. He looked down to see the blade impaling his body glowing with a whitish-green, unholy light. He felt a pulling sensation, as if something he couldn’t accurately describe was being ripped from his body. And going into the black abyss which he realized the sword really was. Sergeant Jezhua screamed. But no one was able to hear him.

---

Standing outside the ruined entrance of the research facility, Lady Malys examined a small data chip, holding it up to the light.

“Here it is, data on all Inquisitorial activities and research programs within the subsector. Our prize for this day. So informative, so juicy, so…”

She threw the chip on the ground and smashed it under her foot.

“Useless.”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t entirely useless. Maybe some small squadron of Crone Eldar or local Chaos cult could have made use of the data. But it wasn’t useful to her, which was really mattered. And the facility had been so sparsely guarded. Just normal human mon-keigh, not any of her unenlightened kind or the augmented kinds of mon-keigh the Imperium usually had around one of its facilities. Malys sighed in frustration. How was she supposed to have any “me” time when all of the targets she attacked had turned out to be so damn boring. The Warhounds were fun for a warmup but then it was all downhill after that. Looking overhead, she watched as an Imperial ship warped into existence overhead. That was her signal to go, despite her enthusiasm a battleship was rather outside her current means right now and she wasn’t looking forward to dying again.

Well. Maybe the third time was the charm.

Monster[edit]

I am a monster.

Is it surprising, that I admit it so readily? Most monsters are only reluctant to admit it because they have been raised their whole lives to believe it is not so. I have never had the luxury of knowing anything else. I have always been a monster.

I remember everything. I even remember vague flashes of those that came before. Memories of those whose cells were cultured to create my DNA. The sheer pain of those tortured to provide the power to restore those dead cells to life and revert the differentiated cells back into an egg. I remember the sheer terror of my mother as she was clinically violated in ways unthinkable to the average mind, and then forced to watch for eleven months as an abomination grew inside her. All the while her offspring communed with her mind and was privy to her thoughts. When I was born she rejected me, threw her suckling and adoring infant from her breast. The Drukhari caretakers took me away and put me in a kennel, feeding me with a bottle before switching to kibble. Apparently this was not an uncommon occurrence.


At six I was transferred from the kennels to the pens. Even though I was only a child by normal standards I looked twice that age. Our creator had tried many ways to accelerate our development. However, every attempt he crippled the batch’s ability to use psychic power. Something to do with the trade-off between soul development and time to adulthood. His solution was to accelerate body growth while slowing down mental development. Children in the body of adults. We were segregated into age-specific crèches and switched from a diet of kibble to live prey. Some kind of bird, I don’t know exactly what. At first I had trouble adapting to the change, but after watching those around me I eventually figured it out. Grab the head and twist. It was so simple.

None of us had names. Most of us were incapable of speech, beyond throaty screams and animalistic howls. We created a rudimentary language, composed of gestures, pheromonal signals, flushing of skin patterns, latent psychic communication, and what few sounds we could make. It was a crude language, but it worked well enough for our purposes. I had my own internal system for telling individuals apart. The one who always smelled was Stinky, the one who pushed the others around was Bossy, and so on.

I remember our creator. How I hated him. I will never forget his odor, a strange mix of preservatives and death. Although most of the overseers smelled of death in some way, none of them smelled like he did. Sometimes he would come to the pens and take one of us away. They never came back. He considered us all failures. Stinky had digestive problems, Bossy was too aggressive, my eyesight was too poor, and so on. He also considered us failures as a group. He had expected us to come out of the womb walking, talking, and quoting philosophy. Instead he got a set of maladjusted ghouls, pale-skinned soldiers that seemed incapable of what he wanted. It was strange. He wanted to create supermen, humans that could grow into functional adults without the need of any other. Yet he treated us like animals, apparently not noticing or not caring about how we hid things in our pens, or filched things from our Drukhari caretakers. Stinky even broke out of his pen to kill one that had threatened his surrogate mother. She was one of the few who hadn’t rejected her infant abomination. I envied him for that.


I remember my first kill. I was fully grown at the time, both in body and mind. Our creator had struck some kind of bargain with a Drukhari Kabal, using our services as soliders against their rivals in exchange for reciprocity. Of course, we had no idea that any of this was going on. All we knew is that we were suddenly taken outside the pens and dumped in this strange, new environment. I could smell the pheromone markings of the ones who had gone ahead of us. The alluring scent of the males, the more familiar scent off the females, smells of battle and blood. They triggered some kind of curiosity in us, and we moved ahead.

I followed the rest of the herd until we reached the din of battle, where we started to split up as our interest waned. I came across a Drukhari taking cover behind a series of containers, more concerned about shots fired from the other side than an ambush from behind. Our eyes met for a second before I attacked. Like an idiot I charged him in a straight line, and in response he brought up his splinter rifle and put a round into me. It was painful, and the poisons covering it would prove problematic in the long term, but at that moment I stopped more due to surprise than to pain. The two of us stared dumbfounded at the crystaline needle sticking out of my chest, clear fluid already hardening and forming a scab on my pale, blue-veined skin.

Looking back on it today, being older and wiser I would have done things very different. I was young and stupid. Fortunately so was he. If he was smart he would have stayed back, using his superior speed and agility to wear me down from a distance. He had grown fat and arrogant glutting himself on mon-keigh souls that were so much smaller and weaker than he was. He wasn’t expecting a mon-keigh his own size, who could look him in the eye with their flat, grey eyes. In the split second he stood gawking at the failure of his splinter pistol to put me down, I lunged forward and snapped his neck. Grab the head and twist. Just like the bird.

When the fighting was over I was returned to the pens without any medical attention. My body temperature had dropped and I had gone into shock. Our creator half expected me to die from my injuries and the others to cannibalize my remains. “The inability of man to eat his own dead without preparation is yet another biological weakness of our kind”, or something to those words. However, his expectations were misplaced. The others in my crèche did not eat me. They huddled up to me, keeping me warm through the night with their body heat.


I remember the first time I was exposed to the trigger scent. Our Creator had picked another fight, this time with a group of humans even larger than we were, dressed in armor so heavy they were as wide as two of us put shoulder to shoulder, and smelling so revolting to our senses our creator smelled good in comparison. He wanted us to attack them, and we weren’t doing as he had wanted. Although we may not have been the smartest of beings, we weren’t dumb. That’s when he released the trigger scent. All of a sudden my nostrils were filled with a musky odor, and my vision was awash with a kaleidoscope of colors. We rushed at the towering figures with a sudden disregard for our own safety as we had before. The giants were bigger and stronger than we were, but we overwhelmed them in a tide of bodies. Bossy ripped out the throat of one of the giant men with his teeth, even though it took him several tries to do so. One of the other giants tore him in half for that with his bare hands a moment later. We killed and killed and killed, until there were none left to kill, and then we tore the corpses into tiny pieces in a frenzy. I heard an animalistic scream. It took me a second before I realized it was coming out of my throat.

I remember when I was supposed to have died. Yet another Drukhari Kabal had come to our creator with an offer. They needed bodies and hunting hounds for a raid on realspace. I was one of those that was given. It was the first time I set foot in the Materium. I was almost overwhelmed, the cool breeze on my skin, the feeling of soil between my toes, the sheer number of scents and sounds and thoughts around me. The raid did not go as planned. The Kabalites had expected to find a world of farmers and fishermen. They had not predicted that an army had been dispatched there on rotation. We fought like cornered beasts, but a raiding party had no chance against a dedicated army, and Drukhari and members of my crèche alike fell to lasgun and shuriken fire. I took a lasbolt to the shoulder and dropped, nearly trampled in the confusion. I was lucky to have “merely” broken a leg. After the battle the dead were piled high, the corpses to be disposed of by burning. I was buried among them, overlooked among the dead and the dying. Though my arm and leg would not regain function for another month, I was able to pull myself free and limp to the safety of the forest, the smaller humans apparently unable to smell my trail of blood.

Our creator had treated us like animals.

And if there is one thing that animals are very good at doing, it is surviving.

My Dinner With the Emperor[edit]

“So what exactly happened during the Raid on Nurgle’s Mansion, anyway?”

The Emperor was glad for his enhanced reaction time at that moment, else he would have spit up the wine that he was drinking. To be honest he always considered himself more of a vodka person, or one of those "tanna" drinks the Valhallans always raved about having originally come from Earth. However, Sonoma was a planet known for its wineries, and that meant wine-tasting was the order of the day.

The government of the planet was a plutocracy, which meant that in practice the person with the largest voice in government was the who owned the largest percentage of the wineries on the planet. It was a world that had been part of the Imperium for some time, having been unified by one of the primarchs during the Great Crusade (Fulgrim, he immediately recalled), but one he had never been to personally, being on the far end of the Segmentum Tempestus. So when the Travelling Court was due to pass through that region of space, it was a lost opportunity he wanted to make sure to rectify.

The plutarch, as was often the case, was overjoyed that the Travelling Court had decided to visit his world, and immediately insisted on a stately dinner where he could introduce the Emperor and Empress to the other major shareholders in the vineyards on the planet. The Emperor was personally not that interested in a fancy dinner with the heads of state, but he didn’t want to turn down such hospitality. Now he was kind of wondering if he should. Isha was the epitome of civility as always, though the Emperor knew she was probably at least a little bit bored. Despite her demure nature, she always said she liked visiting former feral worlds more, claiming that the people there weren’t as repressed as these high society types and as such they knew how to live a little more.

The Emperor wasn’t surprised that the plutarch would ask about that story, it was probably one of the two stories he was asked most often to tell, but he was rarely asked about it so bluntly and while Isha was with him no less. He didn’t mind telling the story, but when Isha was around he always felt slightly guilty because it always made her seem like a damsel in distress. Granted, she had been had been held captive by one of the most powerful entities in the universe for thousands of years and tortured in ways only a god could truly comprehend, but sometimes it seemed like the story made her look bad.

“That old story?” Isha said from across the table. “Come now. You've told that story from Ultramar to Xenobia. Everyone probably knows it by heart at this point."

The Emperor internally sighed, he was privately grateful to Isha for that. In part because it meant he didn't want to dredge up the bad memories that represented, and in part because he didn't want to embarrass Isha in front of the plutarch with one of the low points of their life.

"Here's an idea. Why don't you tell them the story of what happened down on Sarosh."

The Emperor almost choked on his wine again.

“Are you sure?” the Emperor deflected, “Most of that story is rather dry, and I don’t think this is the kind of crowd who would be interested in that kind of thing. Besides, you know everything that happened there already. I wouldn’t want you to get bored, too.”

"Oh you can tell it. I don't mind."

Isha positively glimmered, the edges of her upper jaw plate like little fangs as she bit her lower lip.

"I'm sure you wouldn’t," the Emperor grumbled.

“With all due respect, your majesties,” the plutarch said, slightly red-faced, “Would someone please just start saying what happened already? It sounds like there’s a juicy story to be had and the rest of us don’t know about it. It just isn’t right to have a good wine without a good story to go with it.”


“Very well,” the Emperor sighed with resignation, “But in order to fully understand the story you’ll need to be familiarized with the planet of Sarosh. Sarosh was discovered near the end of the Great Crusade, but the War of the Beast broke out before it could be incorporated into the Imperium. After the war fully integrating Sarosh into the Imperium became top priority. This wasn’t merely for charitable reasons. Sarosh had managed to survive the Old Night with much of its technology intact. They had lost some of their most advanced technology and were behind us in other areas, true, but they retained technology that most of the rest of the galaxy had lost and it’s possible they may have even had STC printouts on their world. The Saroshi even claimed that their government was the same as it had been all the way back before the Age of Strife. If Saroshi technology could be reverse-engineered and exported to the galaxy at large, the standard of living in the Imperium would have jumped dramatically, and it would have gone a long way towards reparing the damage done by the War of the Beast.

When the Imperium first discovered Sarosh during the Great Crusade, the Saroshi welcomed us with open arms, and eagerly joined the Imperium as a Survivor Civilization However there always seemed to be problems whenever someone tried to integrate Sarosh with the rest of the galaxy. Attempts to build infrastructure to connect Sarosh to the wider Imperium were sabotaged. Funds meant to improve standards of living were embezzled by government officials. And any efforts to figure out exactly who was mishandling things was stymied by a bureaucracy that was downright labyrinthine. As is so often the case, I heard that there was trouble on Sarosh and set that as the next destination for the Travelling Court to get things straightened out once and for all.

I ran into the exact same problems that all the people before me did. I even met with the leaders of Sarosh themselves, who tried to assure me that things were progressing as fast as they could. On top of that the Saroshi ambassador, who was my primary contact with the Saroshi government during my time there, seemed to have a dislike for me that was borderline pathological. I tried to read his mind to figure out what his problem was, but his thought process was too oily and muddled to get anything out of him without breaking something. Not exactly unheard of in a politician. At the time, I merely chalked it up to him thinking I was just another two-bit warlord here to try and take away Saroshi sovereignty, rather than a potential ally greeting another survivor of the Long Night. It turned out to be something rather worse.


The Saroshi ambassador had come aboard the Bucephalus every day for nearly two weeks straight with nearly nothing to show for it. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the Saroshi government reported to me that they had a major breakthrough in the integration problems, and they wanted me to come to the planet’s surface for the first time since I had initially came to Sarosh to tell me in person. They asked me to meet with the ambassador who was arriving on a low-orbit shuttle, and would escort me to the Saroshi capital personally.

The first sign I noticed that something was wrong was when Constantin Valdor came up to me and asked if he could stand in front of me when the doors opened to meet the Saroshi ambassador. I asked him if something was the matter and he just replied that he had a funny feeling about the whole thing.

When the doors to the shuttle bay opened, the ambassador entered the Bucephalus the same way he had for the past two weeks, surrounded by his nine bodyguards. Except of course, this time the bodyguards had their weapons unholstered and their rifles levelled at us. The ambassador had this wild look in his eye, ranting about how my hour of reckoning had at last come at hand. One moment the ambassador was having his moment of megalomaniacal ranting, spittle flying from his lips.

The next thing I knew, the ambassador had a handmaiden standing behind him, one of those thorn-swords jutting out of his chest. I'm used to the speed at which Eldar move and even with that in mind, I have to say, the followers of Isha and Cegorach are fast.


While I had been meeting directly with the leaders of Sarosh, the Handmaidens had made their way to the planet's surface by their own means and had been discreetly conducting their own investigation of the planet's population. What they found was rather disturbing. The inhabitants of Sarosh were, to put it bluntly, Chaos worshippers, and they were itching at the opportunity to take revenge against the man to openly defy the Ruinous Powers and the goddess who would spurn the affections of the Plaguefather. The ambassador himself had even been ritually prepared for the role, having accepted a major blessing from Tzeentch in exchange for the chance to strike a blow against the most hated foes of Chaos. The blessing not only prevented anyone from reading his mind, but even worse made psykers think it was absolutely normal that they couldn’t do that unless directly told otherwise.

“The Handmaidens reported their findings back to their mistress and their leader told the whole story to Constantin, which is how the Custodians knew. Those two always shared everything with each other.”

“Pardon me,” the plutarch said, “I don’t mean to interrupt a good story, but that reminds me of something. Where, might I ask, was the Empress during all this?"

"Ah, funny thing about that. She was down in the cargo bay, disarming the bomb. See, the insurgents had realized they needed a back-up plan in the likely event that Plan A failed. So they sent a re-wired cyclonic torpedo aboard, tried to disguise it as one of our own. While we were focusing our attention on the assassins, the torpedo would have detonated and killed us all. Crude but effective. It might have worked, if not for one thing."

"Which was?"

"It turns out the capacitors of a cyclonic torpedos don't work so well when they have a solid centimeter of Eldar rinnweed growing between the two conductor plates."

“The story, unfortunately, doesn’t have that happy of an ending. The Handmaidens and Custodians dealt with the intruders easily enough, but the planet was another problem. The Saroshi were gearing up a massive Chaotic ritual designed to pull a massive number of daemons into realspace. We ended up having to Exterminatus the planet to stop it in time. No amount of ancient technology was worth creating a massive, active Warp rift right in the middle of Imperial space. And even then it was hard to tell what tech and what were really “blessings” from the Ruinous Powers. I have my suspicions that the high level of technology the Saroshi had were either Chaos-derived or due to their leaders bargaining with the Ruinous Powers for sanctuary during the Age of Strife.

I learned two things from the whole debaucle. The first being you can never be too paranoid when it comes to diplomacy with unknown powers.”

“And the second?”


“Never underestimate your wife,” the Emperor said flatly.

Milady," a voice said from behind the plutarch, "the inspection is complete."

"What the devil?" He exclaimed.

"Ah, Galadrea," the Emperor said. "Glad you could make it".

He should have known Galadrea would have chosen that moment to intervene. Galadrea had always been as humorless as Valdor but she did have a bit of a flare for the dramatic. He had noticed the green-clad Eldar enter the room, but aside from Isha he was perhaps the only one to do so, the rest of the occupants too fixated on his story to notice. The fact that she had entered from the one direction where no one else could have directly seen her only furthered the Emperor's suspicions that she had chosen to make her entrance as dramatic as possible.

“Plutarch,” the Emperor said, watching the man continue to sputter in confusion, “I would like to introduce you to Galadrea, Head of the Handmaidens of Isha. Now, Galadrea, I believe you said you had something to report?”

“We found no signs of Chaos corruption. No worship of the Ruinous Powers. There are the usual issues, crime, poverty, but no more so than any other Imperial world. The world is clean.”

“Well, there you have it,” the Emperor told the plutarch, “A clean bill of health from the acolyte of a literal goddess of healing. You have nothing to worry about.”

"Thank you, Galadrea", Isha said, "You may go now."

The Eldar gave a curt bow and then left as silently as she arrived. The source of his shock eliminated, the plutarch gradually managed to calm himself back down.

“Well, that was a bloody good story, but that doesn’t really answer my initial question. Sorry for asking, but you don’t get answers of what happened during these things straight from the horse’s mouth every day you know. You hear so many rumors but it’s hard to believe even half of them are true. I’d still like to know what really happened during the Raid. And what about that whole hulabaloo with the ork diplomats during the War of the Beast?"

Internally, the Emperor sighed. It was going to be a long day.

A Necron's Duel[edit]

Obyron met Imotekh on the great plaza outside of the palace, an expanse of finest marble over a mile wide. He stood and watched, a modest honor guard flanking him, as Imotekh's ornate barge descended from orbit. It came to a silent halt hovering a meter over the stone and Imotekh's honor guard marched down the ramp in inevitably perfect order, far larger and more ornate in full ceremonial apparatus. Behind them strode Imotekh himself, towering above the lesser Necrons of his guard, scroll marked with the physical seal and digital codes of the Silent King in one hand.

"I come bearing a message for the Nemesor Zandrekh from the hand of his liege the Triarch Szarekh," Imotekh intoned. "Where is he? The message is to be delivered to him personally."

"I am Lord Obyron, empowered by my liege Zandrekh to speak and act in his name," Oberon replied. "I may receive the message as though it was delivered in person."

Imotekh responded by releasing the scroll, which unrolled itself while hovering midair. The scroll projected columns of shimmering glyphs from its surface, carrying the force of the Silent King's will like a physical blow, subliminal command codes embedded in the hypertext.

You are commanded, it read, to travel to the court of the Triarchy and present yourself there to the Triarchs to renew all oaths of fealty, so that... Oberon needed to read no more to know the meaning. Submission and slavery. The command codes washed over him without finding purchase.

"No," he replied.

"You defy the will of Szarekh?" Imotekh asked.

"I do, and I challenge you to an honor duel to determine the matter."

Imotekh did not hesitate. "I accept," he declared, and in a flash of teleportation his ceremonial robes and scepter were replaced with warplate and warscythe. With the challenge issued and accepted, their respective retinues fell back to give them space, and a dome of glowing energy sprang up around the two Necron lords from the pavement. The duel was to the death; the force field would not fall until one or both of them were dead.

The two duelists stood motionless for a long, frozen moment. Then they exploded into motion. The basic necron warrior may be slow to move and react; not Obyron or Imotekh. Equipped with the finest bodies necron science could provide, musculature that had more in common with railguns than anything nature had ever devised, they moved like lightning. Their strikes cracked like pistol shots, the edges of their blades breaking the sound barrier with every swing. A human observer, had there been one present, would have seen nothing more than blurs as the two necron lords traded blows. Sparks showered across the arena as the exotic energies contained in their blades and armor clashed with every blow.

After a couple of minutes of this furious violence, the two combatants stepped back from each other. Both Imotekh and Obyron were covered in dozens of cuts, all of them already healing as necrodermis flowed back into its proper place. Necrontyr dueling tradition had always placed a strong emphasis on allowing the enemy to get in a minor hit in order to set yourself up for a more devastating counterblow. This tradition had been immeasurably reinforced now that their bodies were made of living metal instead of flesh and blood.

For all its furious violence, that exchange had merely been the opening bout as the two rival Lords sized each other up. Now, given a brief respite as they both strategized their next moves, neither was terribly impressed by what they had seen. In Obyron, Imotekh saw nothing more than an up-jumped street brawler, his strikes and parries devoid of subtlety or grace. In Imotekh, Obyron saw someone who, for all his mastery of the traditional forms, was unable to innovate and go beyond them.

Still, neither was about to underestimate the other. By unspoken agreement, the brief moment of stillness ended, and the two Necron lords charged once more.

The two clashed for over an hour in inconclusive battle, untiring, neither quite able to gain an advantage. The end, when it came, happened in a matter of seconds.

Obyron's warscythe was of the finest quality, but Imotekh's was the very best that all the armorers of the Silent King could provide. The incredible intensity of the duel pushed even Necron craftsmanship to its very limits and beyond, and it was Obyron's weapon that gave out first. Blocking another thunderous strike the haft shattered just below the head, the blade spinning away and leaving Obyron holding nothing but a useless, sparking shaft. Without hesitation he dove to retrieve the blade, scooping it up from the flagstones. But Imotekh took swift advantage of the opening, and even as Obyron turned back to face him his blade was scything down. Obyron tried to dodge, but was only able to move just enough that the warscythe only took his arm instead of his (un)life. The arm which was not holding the broken blade.

Expecting the strike to be a killing one, Imotekh had overcommitted slightly; just enough to give Oberon an opening. He lunged, closing in an instant with Imhotekh to absolute minimum range where the two were almost directly touching. Now, despite his missing arm, Obyron held the advantage. The warscythe, a two-handed polearm, was not a weapon for a knife fight; and though he was trained and experienced to the peak of perfection in the formal dueling styles of the warscythe, Imotekh had little experience in knife-fighting. Oberon, on the other hand, had begun his career as a duelist in the gutters armed with a shard of broken glass. Now, he was truly in his element.

Imotekh tried to open distance again, but his single mistake had already doomed him. Oberon drove his shattered scythe into a gap in Imotekh's armor, right into his neck, and then severed it entirely. Imotekh's head fell to the pavement, his body remaining rigid and upright, until both were whisked away by the recall mechanism. The force field enclosing the dueling circle fell.

None of the assembled honor guards said a word; there was nothing to say that would not have been redundant. In perfect unison Imotekh's retinue turned and filed back aboard their ship, which then rose into the heavens in the same perfect silence with which it descended. Oberon watched its ascent, hypertechnological eyes refocusing again and again to keep it in view as it rose hundreds of kilometers to reenter Imhotekh's ship in orbit. Then, a brief shimmer, and the ship was gone.

Oberon stood there for a couple of seconds more, then turned and strode back into the palace. He had an arm to replace.

Ork Diplomacy[edit]

Editor's Note: Needs to be adjusted, since it was decided Fabricator-General didn't die in the Beheading.

Deep in the heart of the Imperial Palace, decisions were being made that would affect a galaxy.

“Reports from Triton indicate that most of the moon has been taken by the enemy.”

“Give the order to all remaining forces on Triton to retreat. If the Orks take the outer planets of the Sol system any surviving assets will be blockaded on both sides, and we don’t need them cut off from the rest of our forces.”

“The facility on Cthonia has sent a message indicating some kind of combined Crone/Dark Eldar fleet has descended on the planet.”

“Alert the Fire Wasps and the 299th. Tell them the first chance they get finishing their current missions to head to Cthonia. They probably won’t get there in a while, but unfortunately we are short on free resources.

The room itself was large and spacious. It was a war room, with a large table in the center, currently home to the highest military commanders in the Imperium. At its head was the Steward, eyes closed and seated in an position that seemed almost meditative. He needed to focus. The chair he was sitting in wasn’t the Golden Throne. That little piece of Imperial heritage was sitting on a floor approximately four levels above him. The Steward wasn’t even sure whoever built that thing ever intended for people to sit in it. Instead he was sitting on a much plainer, comfier chair, albeit one built for his frame. He needed it. His mind was good, but he needed absolute concentration to process the sheer amount of information necessary to organize the Imperial war effort. He had to make the right decisions, the lives of millions of people hung in the balance, and ridding his mind of any kind of external distraction helped.

“Intelligence indicates a portion of the main Ork WAAAGH! is diverting from the main fleet. Projections say it seems to be heading to Molech…”

“Enough,” he said, having finally reached his limit.

The Steward opened his eyes, looking at the three dozen or so concerned faces surrounding him.

“Give me five minutes. I need to take a break.”


With some consternation, the assembled military commanders of the Imperium stepped back, allowing the Steward to get up. Rubbing his face, the Steward walked out of the room and kept walking until he reached a small balcony overlooking a small garden in the Imperial Palace that was mostly untouched by all the excitement. He could feel the tension in the air. People were already anxious over the current state of the war, and recent events had only made things worse, to the point that the Steward had assigned the most significant members of the Imperium bureaucracy a Custodes bodyguard whether they wanted it or not. Truth be told, the Steward was starting to feel the stress eating away at him as well. He hadn’t had decent rest in over a month. Although he didn’t need the sleep of a normal human, even he was reaching his limits. He had spent most of that time sitting there in the war room, exploiting his ability to process information as best he could in order to organize the defense of Old Earth and its surrounding planets. He swore, if he had to sit in that chair for one more minute it was going to be the death of him.

Oscar, last of the Men of Gold, Warlord of Earth, Steward of the Imperium, was not having the best six months. To be honest, things hadn’t been going well for quite some time, what with the whole galaxy-spanning war going on, but the last six months or so were particularly bad.

First, there was the treachery of Grandmaster Drakan Vangorich, who in addition to being a master of the arts of assassination, it seemed, had a terrible sense of timing. One would think that one would wait until after all human life wasn’t under threat of being wiped out by Orks and corrupted Eldar from the Eye of Terror to spring their attempt to assassinate and replace the High Lords of Terra with their own puppet council. The Steward had found it necessary to leave the war room to personally deal with that. Four High Lords and numerous high ranking figures of the Administratum were dead at a time which the Imperium could ill-afford their loss. The loss of the Fabricator-General was a particularly devastating blow. Oscar had liked the previous Fabricator-General, who had been remarkably open to cooperation since the Unification of Sol, whereas his likely replacement, Kelbor-Hal, was a bit flaky. At least it was better than the other possible option for Fabricator-General, Zagreus Kane, who had the personality of steel wool.

Then, the Orks had decided to one-up Vangorich by teleporting an Attack Planet in-between Earth and Mars. The Imperium knew the Orks were coming, they had been blazing a path through the Segmentum Solar and had been expected to arrive on Sol’s doorstep any day now, but to teleport past the fleets blockading the way to the Imperium’s heart and just appear in the Sol System was something no one had expected. To the Imperium’s credit, between Perturabo, Dorn, and a thousand other siege tacticians, the Sol System was one of the most heavily defended systems in the Milky Way, and as soon as the leering iron skull had appeared in the sky it was immediately fired upon by the Sol system’s defense network along with some of the best ships of Battlefleet Solar and the Phalanx itself. Nevertheless, the Attack Planet was undeterred by the assault, shrugging off point defense systems and Nova cannon blasts as if they were mosquito bites.

Nothing even seemed to slow it down as the Attack Planet advanced on Earth, and as the two planets got dangerously close to each other’s Roche Limits the Imperium realized with some horror that the Orks meant to ram the Attack Planet into Earth.

The situation had seemed hopeless until the Phalanx swooped in and rammed itself into the Attack Planet that had once been Ullanor at a fraction of the speed of light, creating a bright flash which for a moment even outshone Sol. Everyone had seen that. Oscar could have sworn he felt that, even though he knew no vibrations could be transmitted through space. After that, the hollowed out planet shot through the Sol system like a billiard ball before finally teleporting out of the system somewhere around Pluto. Someone, apparently a man based on the voxcast that had gone out from the Phalanx just before the insane stunt, had commandeered the 30 kilometer ship and ordered a mass exodus before taking a skeleton crew of the bare minimum of people necessary to pilot the Phalanx and ramming it into the Attack Planet, though no one knew exactly who.


Oscar stopped. The man had singly-handedly saved Earth and the entire Imperium, and no one even knew his name.

It would be child’s play to figure out who it was, of course, assuming they weren’t all killed by Orks first. They had his voice on record, giving the order to pick up the survivors right before the Phalanx rammed itself into the Attack Planet. Still, the fact that no one on Earth seemed to know who they owed their lives to was a sobering thought. He would have liked to think that single act had killed the Beast and saved the Imperium, but reports indicated that a significant number of lesser Rokks and Ork ships had survived the loss of the Attack Planet and were currently regrouping for another push somewhere in the Oort cloud. Estimates said they would be ready to make another push for Earth in a matter of months. At the same time the primarchs and their legions were gradually trickling back into the Sol system. Sanguinius and Vulkan were expected to be back within the week. Angron was already planetside. A few primarchs were not likely to be able to get back to Earth anytime soon. Lion El’Jonson was still trying to sort out his legion’s massive rebellion issues. Perturabo was in a coma for the foreseeable future. Guilliman, Horus, and Curze were all still trying to hamstring the Beast’s hordes.

There were even reports of eldar entering the system to reinforce humanity, courtesy of Eldrad and their allies among that alien race. Regardless of what Oscar wanted, it looked like Sol was going to turn into a battleground. Not for the first time since the war began, Oscar found himself wondering if accepting Eldrad’s crazy proposal to rescue Isha from Nurgle’s mansion had been a good idea. Perhaps the war would have been inevitable, Chaos was truly a threat to humanity and the Ruinous Powers never seemed to like the idea of something that they couldn’t control, but having seen the cost of directly antagonizing said entities part of him was starting to regret having made the deal.

Oscar was so lost in his thoughts that he almost didn’t notice the small Administratum scribe running up to him.

“My lord,” he said, clearly out of breath from having run the entire way, “I bring important news.”

“What is it?” the Steward said, silently wincing at being called ‘my lord’.

“Three diplomats have just touched down on the landing pad in Uralia. They seek an audience with the Steward of the Imperium.”

The Steward grimaced. It appeared Draco Vangorich wasn’t the only person with a horrible sense of timing. Just before the War of the Beast, the Imperium had been in negotiations with the Auretian Technocracy. The Technocracy was a highly advanced human civilization spanning multiple star systems, with several technologies that appeared to be based off of STC designs that were previously unknown to the Imperium. Right before the War of the Beast broke out the Imperium had been in negotiations with the Auretian Technocracy to bring them into the fold as a Survivor Civilization. Although the Auretians were a peaceful people and amenable to the idea of joining the Imperium, they were not going to just roll over and give in to the Imperium’s demands, and the negotiations over the conditions of them joining the Imperium and the concessions both sides were willing to make had been particularly intense. Unfortunately, it seemed that total galactic war was not enough to stop that debate from continuing.

"Great, more problems,” the Steward muttered, “Tell them they will have to wait; I’m kind of busy right now.”

"But sir. The ambassadors aren't from the Auretian Technocracy. They're from the Orks."

And in response to this statement, perhaps the greatest revelation in the War of the Beast since the appearance of Attack Planet Ullanor, there was only one thing the Steward could say.

“What.”


"Nuhnuhnuhnono. No. This is a bad idea Oscar, I can't let you do this."

"I'm doing this, Arik, whether you like it or not."

The two gold-clad figures, the last Man of Gold and the gilded man who had watched his back since the Warlord’s armies had first marched out from Terrawatt, briskly walked down the halls of the Imperial Palace. The Steward had given the order to let the Orks be heard and had told the Administratum adept to have someone escort the Ork “diplomats” to have an audience in front of the assembled military commanders of Old Earth in the war room. If the Orks suddenly felt they had something important to say he wanted everyone to hear it.

"With all due respect this is likely some sort of trap. Most likely a spy to send information back to the Beast or some kind of sabotage ploy. They're Orks. Diplomacy just isn't in their nature. Since when have the Orks ever shown any signs of higher intelligence?"

"When we found out they had built an empire at Gorro. When we found out that it wasn't the only one. When we found out they could organize themselves into a galaxy-spanning WAAAGH!"

Arik groaned, but Oscar knew that response. He had won this debate, for now.

Having reached their destination, the door slid open for the two men and the two entered the war room. As the Steward entered the war room from the side, he looked over at the numerous generals of the Imperium, who were debating the best course of reaction over the map of the Sol system and its immediate neighbors in the center of the table. In the Steward’s absence, they had picked up where the Steward had left off, arranging for the inevitable Siege of Terra, as the Fabricator-General had called it.

Chief among them was the short woman standing at the side of the table, who seemed to be taking the lead in organizing the Imperium’s defense during Oscar’s momentary break, mostly by barking orders at men that were nearly twice her size. Honen Mu, former Uxor of the Geno Five-Two Chilliad.

Honen Mu was far from the most imposing figure, the recaff-colored, dark-haired woman being no more than five-foot flat and probably weighing only forty kilograms soaking wet, but by Terrawatt if she wasn’t one of the best strategists that Oscar had ever seen. Give her a regiment of soldiers, and within a few days she would have them dancing on the battlefield. Hers and the other guy’s.

When the Imperium had first encountered the Chilliad during the Unification Wars, Mu was already at the point where the rejuvenants wouldn’t do much more than prolong the use of the Chilliad’s psychic powers, or cept, which eventually burned out some time during the Unification of Sol. Although most Uxors retired to non-combat roles after their cept burned out, Mu had proved talented enough that she not only remained in the Imperial military, but had actually gotten promoted. She may have lost the cept that made Uxors of the Geno Five-Two Chilliad so dangerous in battlefield-level engagements, but she hadn’t lost any of her wider scale campaign management ability. Mu hadn’t been using her psychic powers as a crutch, she was genuinely talented at strategy. In terms of long-term theater-scale planning Guilliman was probably her only equal, and Oscar hated to think of what the two of them would do if they ever decided to go at it to see who the best was. Probably destroy half a sector in the process.

“Mu,” he said, nodding to each of the generals in turn, “MaSade, von Asterberg, Temoc. How are things going?”

“The Imperium hasn’t fallen apart in the five minutes you stepped out to take a break,” Mu said, speaking for the assembled generals and administrators of the Imperium. “So I think we’re doing fair enough.”

“I trust you all heard the news regarding the visitors we are about to be receiving?”

“How could we not? Ork diplomats. Are you serious? When we it we made the messenger repeat herself just to make sure she hadn’t misheard something.”

On that note, the door on the far side of the room slid open with a hiss.

“And here are the figures of the hour,” Taranis muttered under his breath.

Three imposing figures strode into the room, led by another stuttering Administratum adept. There were three of them, a leader and two hangers-on, all heavy-set and ape-like in proportion. The two flanking figures were nearly seven feet in height, whereas their leader could probably look the Steward in the eye. The three were clad in simple robes, which obscured almost every feature of their body. If it weren’t for the reinforced leather armor on the figures’ joints and their leader’s three meter long iron staff, topped with a roaring metal Ork skull at the tip of the scepter, he would have thought they were kinebrach. The Administratum adept continued to gibber, though one would admit that would be the normal reaction to dealing with a figure twice their size.

“And…as you can see, the Steward is already here, awaiting your message,” he said, clearly trying to square away his diplomacy training with his natural fight-or-flight reaction, “Food and drink are available for all diplomats to the Imperium. And, of course, if you need an interpreter, all you need to do is ask.”

The lead ork reached up and pulled back his hood.

“Don’t need an interpreter. We tell you how to surrender, you surrender. Easy.”


The silence in the room was palpable. The Imperials all looked at the Ork as if he had just stood up and spoke Gothic. Which, to be fair, he had. Not just Gothic at that, Oscar grimly noted to himself, but fluent Gothic. Yes, the intonation sounded like it came from a tortured Grox, but there was none of the hesitation, none of the misplaced emphasis typical of those who spoke Gothic as a second language. The Ork spoke Gothic as if he had spoken it his entire life.

The Ork seemed slightly bemused by the Imperials’ reaction, as if he was taking pleasure into finally stunning the yappy humies into silence. Nevertheless, he soon seemed to grow annoyed by the continued silence. He had a job to do here, and if the humies wouldn’t start the conversation, he would.

“Oh come on now, don’t look at me like that. Name’s Bezhrak. Here as a diplomat, just like I said, swear to Mork. I even brought you a little gift as a...whaddya call it...a peace offering.”

The Ork reached into his robe and pulled out a shiny, dark object, hefting it across the table. It resembled a Custodian's helm but with a red, ponytail-like crest and a narrower face visor. Oscar recognized that helm.

Jenetia Krole's helm.

Oscar's eyes darted to the Custodian, noticing his hand was gripped so tight around his guardian spear it would have probably left finger marks if it wasn't made of auramite.

"Taranis," he said, voice level, though he wasn’t sure if it was Taranis or himself he was trying to keep calm.

“Fought good and hard this one did. Made some of our Weirdboyz heads explode just by being near ‘em. Course, even the best warriors can’t hold up when you’re being piled on by a few hundred boyz at once. Killed nearly fifty of us before they finally went down. We know you humans have some weird rituals you perform whenever one of your best warriors gets killed, so we thought we’d bring what was left of her back as a token of…

"You monster!" Arik exploded, "Have you an idea what..."

Arik was obviously about to go on some moral spiel about how barbaric the Ork's actions were, but he was stopped by a sudden larger-than-usual excitement-induced coughing fit.

"And what are you going to do about it, shinyboy, cough blood all over me?"

Bezhrak sneered, before apparently remembering something.

“Oh, that reminds me. A mutual friend wanted me to pass this along to you.”

The Ork drew a coin from his robes and flicked it at the Steward, the coin bouncing across the table a couple of times before finally rolling to a stop at the Steward’s feet. It was a gold coin, albeit one that had been heavily stained with dried, blackened blood. Human blood, ork blood didn’t stain that color. The Steward didn’t want to know where that blood came from. Embossed on the face of the coin was a symbol that was very familiar to the Steward.

The symbol of Ursh.

"And what is that?" The Steward said, eyes darting to the symbol like he had just spotted a venomous snake.

"Oh, that? That's just a gift from an old friend of yours. Couldn't remember the chap's name, he just kept going on and on about all his titles. Said he was busy dealing with the khan, the priest, the slave, and the sorcerer, but he just wanted you to know he was back and that he'd get around to seeing you soon enough.”


“I highly doubt you were sent here just to give gifts. You said you had a message from the Beast? What is it?”

“Want to get straight to business then. Respectable. All right then. The great Beast has you by the guts. Struggle, he’ll rip ‘em out. Surrender, and all you lose is your pride.”

“And that’s it,” the Steward said as dryly as possible.

“Well, you’d have to submit to Ork rule of course. We’ll even let you keep your homeworld, even though you took ours.”

All the mirth briefly disappeared from the Ork’s voice at that last line.

“Oh,” Bezhrak said, slipping back into the role of smooth diplomat, “One other thing. You tell us where the pansies are keeping the lead pansie that the other group of spiky pansies wants back. That gets them off our back and then, as far as we’re concerned, the war is over.”

“And what exactly would Ork rule look like?” the Steward said rhetorically.

“Oh I think you already know what that would look like,” Bezhrak said, a hit of smugness in his voice.

Indeed, the Steward did have some inclination as to what Ork rule would look like. When the Orks descended on a world, occasionally some of the local people would submit and worship them as gods, considering them agents of divine wrath made manifest. If there was one thing humanity seemed to excel at, it was convincing themselves to worship powerful natural entities as gods, something he knew all too well. Sometimes he really felt embarrassed by some of the things his species did. Those that the Orks deemed sufficiently Orky were allowed to fight alongside the Orks as cannon fodder, painting themselves green and firing autoguns into the air. Digganobz, they called themselves.

And the Steward had seen firsthand from the helmetcams of the Iron Warriors on Prax what the Orks did to those they deemed insufficiently orky. Turned into cattle, teeth knocked out and pumped up with steroids and growth hormones to the point that they could barely be described as bipedal, let alone human. Brains insensate to the point that all they could do is open their mouths upon stimulation by light to have nutrient-filled industrial hoses forced down their mouths. Personally it almost reminded him of the Slaugth.

Bezhrak looked around the war room. “So?” he asked, his expression basically screaming that he was surprised the assembled humans hadn’t answered immediately “Give up or die? Choose.”

The room remained deathly silent. Bezhrak looked back to the other orks, as if seeking affirmation that they were all seeing the same thing, before turning back to the humans.

“Don’t want to die? Last chance?”

The Steward broke the silence.

“I think you know our answer.”


Bezhrak sighed.

“Useless,” he said, “worse than snotlings”.

He looked over to his fellows, throwing his hands up in exasperation.

“No reasoning with humans. They’re just illogical. Break ‘em, kill ‘em, eat ‘em, they understand that. Try to talk to them in terms they understand, and they turn around and do the exact opposite. They say they want to live but try and offer that to them and all of a sudden they want to fight, which is fine by me, but…”

"Enough."

The Steward's voice was flat and monotone, low but just on the edge of hearing. Almost more felt than heard.

"You send us veiled threats in the form of gifts. You give us an offer that we cannot possibly fulfill. This isn't a peace offering. It's intimidation. What is the purpose of all this?"

Bezhrak snorted.

“You look down on us. Call us ‘barbaric’. Look at us being proper Orky and think we’re dumb, think you’re better than us. Because you’re ‘civilized’. But look at us now. Look at what the ‘barbarians’ have done. It’s not the ‘civilized’ folk of the galaxy who beat you back all the way to your home planet and come knocking at your door, now is it? We’re much tougher than you give us credit for. You push us, we push back. You hit us on the head, and we become more clever. You try to kill us, and we just come back for another go.

And look where being ‘civilized’ has got you. You lot just let someone walk right into your halls and insult you all right to your faces. But you wouldn’t dare harm ‘em. Because they’re a diplomat. I mean, after all, it wouldn’t be the civilized thing to do.”

The Steward stood, his hand grabbing the ear of the chair and snapping it with a loud crack. His face was a mask of stone, only his eyes showing the sheer anger burning underneath.

“I have, tried, time and again, to be reasonable. Tried to be optimistic, to assume the best in people. And I keep getting it thrown back in my face. Well then. Maybe it’s time I stopped being reasonable. Perhaps it’s time I get unreasonable.”

Bezhrak grinned, teeth and tusks bared.

“So what are you going to d…”

The Steward thrust his hand up in a claw-like gesture, palm facing him, the sheer psychic force stopping the Ork' retort in his throat. As if crushing an orange, the Steward slowly clenched his hand into a fist, the Ork’s body crumpling in time with the flexing of his fingers. As he died, the Ork screamed “WAAagh!”, like many of his kin. But it was a high-pitched, wheezing WAAAGH!, one that if people heard it would have sounded more like a cry of desperation than a battle cry. Though that may have just been the air being forced from his lungs. The Ork’s body burned with golden fire, spores erupting into golden motes before they could even hit the ground. If he didn’t know better, the Steward could almost have sworn he saw fear in those eyes.

The remains of what had once been the Ork known as Bezhrak hit the ground with a wet plop., both Orks and humans shocked by what they had just seen. Then the Steward snapped his head to look at the remaining Orks, methodical and almost robotic in his motion.

“I assume the rest of you are smart enough to carry a message?”

The Steward did not even wait for the Orks to answer.

“That”, he said, pointing at the fist-sized, leaking remains of the Ork on the ground, “That is my message. Go back to the Beast and tell him that is my answer to his demands. Now get out.”

The Orks left the room as quickly as they could, having seen what happened to their leader. The rest of the room looked between another, unsure as of what to do. Even Arik Taranis and Honen Mu seemed torn between whether they should come to the Steward's aid or leave him be. For most of the people in the room the Steward was their leader, and for many he was as close to them as a family member or a friend. However, they had also just seen their friend crumple a full grown ork into a lump the size of a beverage can. Finally, it was Mu who worked up the courage to break the silence.

"Are you...okay?"

Oscar took a moment to compose himself, taking a deep breath in and out. He had let his emotions get the better of him, and that was wrong. He wished Malcador was here. Malcador had known how to get through to him better than anyone else. It was times like this that he wished his adoptive father was still around.

“Yes,” he said, easing back into the role of stoic, unbreakable Steward of the Imperium, “I’m fine.”

“So what happens now?” Arik said, looking over at the remains of the ork on the ground. "It looks like diplomacy went about as well as expected."

“I don’t know,” the Steward said, once again feeling that gnawing feeling of uncertainty in his gut, “I just don’t know.”

Nails[edit]

My eyes grow dim. My strength is spent. My rage is quenched. My blade is clean.

I was born in poverty, I think. Simple eyes of a child do not see clearly. Was it poverty? We weren’t unhappy. At lest I don’t think we were.

I can’t remember their faces any more. That’s a lie. I can remember their faces. I always will. Mother. Father. Sister. Brother. Grandmother. Uncle. We all lived together in one small home above the bakers shop. I think that’s what my parents were. Bakers. Not warlords. Not priests. Not great warriors or adepts or wizards. I wanted to be like them. I should have been like them.

I don’t remember what happened to them. That’s a lie. I do. I do. Oh God I do. I don’t want to. If I do I am that screaming, weeping child again. No more. No more. Never again.

I was weak and tried to run. Better if I had run back into the burning home. Better to have ended there.

When the Warlord found me it was at the head of army like no other. All I had know of armies were cyber-flagellants and howling marauders spurned on by men with whips. But not these. They marched with eerie harmony and brought death with precision. No berserker charge, no frenzy, no bloodlust just the steady unstoppable wave pouring into Carthisisa.

I was a pit fighter. I murdered people for the entertainment of other people. They gave men the pick of the slave pens for my troubles. They expected me to indulge base urges. They wanted me to fall like them. Be a Not-Person. I picked for the sake of pity and charity of the most wretched and hopeless.

One of the giants came to my door and I stood before him, my adopted children behind me. I was big but he was a two head taller than me at the least and clad in armour like a tank. Expressionless eye lenses swept over me and mine and I prepared to sell myself dear. I don’t know how but I knew he met my eye through that helmet and he looked away and moved on.

Scholars like I am not sometimes say that history goes in circles. That things happen because they have happened. One tragedy only needing one just like it as cause for more. In that moment I felt the hateful wheel of fate wobble. I was still alive. My family were not enslaved, out masters were dead, we were free.

At the head of this army was the man who I would spend most of my life serving. I would give my life for the sake of my sons and daughters. I killed for him. I lead his soldiers. I became like the monsters he had set upon my masters. I gave my health and my sanity for him.

Why? Because he didn’t ask that I kneel. He demanded that I stand. That I never again bow my head to unworthy men.

I lived longer than I should have. Longer than I was expected. I watched my children grow up and become mothers and fathers and grandparents and eventually die. A few even managed to die peaceful. It seems a novel way to go. I will soon go that way, to no ones surprise more than my own. All bar one of my children are gone, one way or the other. I am told I have many descendants but I have not met them. They are distant to me but I wish them only goodness, to be and to have. Kharn is still with me. I remember when he was a snotty nosed child with scabby knees. He has grown and I am proud.

He is a new type of soldier for a new era. I am a relic of an old one.

I feel it now. I sit in my chair and I know that I have seen my last sun rise. My heart slows. My bones grow cold, but I feel warm. Though I am filled with darkness the light will lift me away.

I have regrets. I have lived too long not to. Few will mourn my passing.

I will not see the sunrise and that is good.

+++ Data-slate entry attributed to Angron the Red Angel, Primarch of the Warhounds +++

+++ Property of Carthissia National Museum of Posterity +++

204.210.204.209 Those Nails you carried in your heart should never have been yours to carry. We will carry your name but those nails have been laid to rest 204.210.204.209

> "Nails" Addendum made by unknown hand several years after acquisition of the Data-slate. Meaning has been of much speculation down the years but no conclusive answers of who or why has been gathered.

New Neighbors[edit]

Ambassador Cyrus Kebede was not typically used to being summoned at such an unreasonable hour. No day in his opinion should contain more than one five o’clock. He knew it wasn’t the Por’s fault. The blue bastards had applied for a replacement Aun three years ago and were still waiting. Por’El Sana’ta Atha was doing the best he could with what he had. For one thing he was still and El when he should by all justice have been and O and that wasn’t making his job any easier, Acting O was a poor substitute for actual O. Especially with rival El’s on the register sheet. But truth be told O or not Tau biologically required less sleep than humans. Or at least less sleep than Ambassador Cyrus Kebede did, especially at the age he was with his grey hair and clicking knees.

Two lean and powerful Fire Caste stood before the door, splendid in their gear and menacing in their armaments as was proper. The inside of the room was… comfy Cyrus assumed. Or at least tried to be by Administratum style. Books around the walls, a desk, dark green leather chairs and carpet. He couldn’t be mad about it, not really. They got heir ideas of what was in style from what they saw on vids. Hw knew damn well that Tau had shot kneel-stools that they half knelt and half stat on and their desks were tables and much shorter.

The ornately decorated door parted and indeed he did see something that was of interest to him. The chair with it’s back to him was not as he had assumed as empty as it looked and a diminutive figure sat in it, covered in layers of old looking cloth.

“Oh” Cyrus said rather flatly. “Oh”.

“You have met them? Good, that’s going to save us all a lot of time” El'Atha said. Clearly he was happy or at least relieved about something.

Cyrus hesitantly walked around to the front of the chair and let out an involuntary groan. “It’s a Hrud. Late juvenile, young adult judging by the size”.

“Wonderful, you have familiarity!”

“Sadly”. Ambassador Cyrus turned towards the figure in the chair several sizes too big for it, it’s feet hidden by rags but presumably dangling above the floor. “how many are coming?”

The hood of the heavy layered robes turned towards him, he caught a glint of what might have been compound eye and a voice like something slithering over a tomb a thousand years dry “Me. Me my kin. Me my folk. Other folk. Time is now of travel, time is now of move. Me my kin, others. We move. Need come here, need scurry, have night here, have places of night always here. Me my kin we Linger here”.

“Can we persuade you not to?” Asked ambassador Cyrus who was fully expecting a weeks worth of duplicate form filling by this time tomorrow. Or actually later today.

“Hold on, hold on. This is a Tau world, I invited you her for your experience, not to claim authority in the matter” said the water caste. It wasn’t an angry statement, they had known each other too long.

“Maybe, Maybe for me my kin. Not for others. We not asking. Can’t stop. Mirror Devils, Mirror Devils awaken from long sleep. Long time. We hide now for now. Hide in the shadows of others. Linger. Once we once built such worlds as this, now no more. Now Linger. Hide. Scurry far from light. Stay safe. Linger. So our Lord tell us. So we do. Maybe me my kin, maybe we leave if asked. Not others. They not me my kin. They come. Can’t stop”. The figure reached a hand further than expected, slowly towards the tea tray on the desk and from the overlong sleeves fell a carved bone totem. The sleeve retracted with the jar of honey.

“Is this a Migration?” Asked the increasingly old feeling Kebede

“Maybe. Maybe more yes. More yes then no. Other come. The godly but godless they build places to hide. We linger there. We linger here. Need to linger and hide”.

“Atha, my friend, I would advise that you don’t try to stop them. You won’t be able to if you tried”.

“Why is th-“ started the grey skinned tau.

Cyrus hoped that what he saw was an optical illusion. He really did no creature should be able to survive being folded 270 degrees on a horizontal axis and then folded in on itself like a collapsing house of cards. The creature vanished and the quill fell from Por’El Sana’ta Atha’s hand as they both stared in horror at the place the chair and it’s occupant had been.

“How did he do that?”

“No idea.”

“Is it teleporting?”

“No”

“Then he is still here but hiding”

“No. He’s gone. The door isn’t air tight”

“It hasn’t opened since you came in, Cy”

“Doesn’t matter. It will have folded itself thin enough to get between the door and the frame or under the door maybe. We don’t know how they do it”.

“Then how can the Empire-“

“Listen, my good friend Atha, there is an old saying amongst my people; Better in here pissing out than out there pissing in. This applies to the Hrud. They are only dangerous if cornered and they don’t take what will be missed. They instinctively try to hide and so will try not to be noticed by you and you people. If they are here the only way to stop them getting to the rest of your Empire would be to quarantine this planet for the rest of time. I suspect that’s not an option”

“It is most certainly is not”

“Then the Tau Empire is going to get a Hrud colony. Don’t worry the rest of the Imperium has them, even the craftworlds”.

Once More Unto the Breach[edit]

It feels like a warm fire but smells like the first fat drops of rain on deep summer dust. He remembered that smell from childhood, one of the few things he could. There was grass between his toes and the distant sound of surf on shingle, he raised his hands to his brow to block the sun as he looked towards the beach. His hands were not right. He remembered this day, one of the last perfect days of childhood summer before what seemed eternal war called him but these hands were not right. These were not the hands of children, these were hands of a warrior, gnarly, leathery, scared with crooked fingers on the right and the ends missing of the middle and ring fingers on the left. And the raven marks of his kin on their backs. Warrior hands. Soldier hands. Not the hands of a child, his old hands.

There was a hand upon his shoulder firm and strong but not unkind. He knew that hand and had stood in the presence of it's owner many times though he had not yet looked upon her. Death; she stood with him always. As a warrior of the Kraken Bay she was the deity he had to favour above the others of his tribes pantheon and in return she put her gentle hand upon him in silent benediction. She had been with him now as his longest and truest friend. His tribe were long dead and forgotten to history now, the land they once dwelt in made unrecognizable, he had outlived notions of kin reluctantly.

He looked towards the warm sun, the sound of the shingle and the sea. The smell of it on the breeze. The hand squeezed his shoulder slightly, welcoming, inviting him to turn around and come with her. He knew that with her was his children, his wife, his siblings, his parents and legions of people he wanted, desperately and painfully wanted, to see again.

CLANG!

Murmurings from the multitudes above for a moment, the comforting and more recent smalls of old socks, camphor, engine oil and a hint of beer fading into the blackness, the comforting blackness in the safe depths of his sarcophagus.

The blade missed taking his head off by a worryingly slim margin and instead deflected across the crown of his helm with a deafening clang, a bestial howl of foam flecks and stink and a similar roar from Russ, Primarch and fellow Dog Soldier of the Sixth Legion, brought the axe down on it's head like the storm god Thukko. The Ambush was working perfectly, the orks had them completely surrounded when they sprang from the ground and dropped from the trees, now they could charge in any damn direction they wanted and still get some trophy teeth. For lesser men this would be stupid to the point of suicide but they were far from lesser men and the orks did not know who they were fucking with.

A large red creature hopped over the falling brute and clamped down hard on his left hand, he swiftly brought his right hand up to tear it off, taking finger chunks with it leaving the axe dangling on it's chain and swinging back up to his blood slick hand. Bringing the creature swiftly up to his mouth and dug his own choppers into it's head and biting out it's brain as his axe caught another green creature in a chin splitting upper cut. Plate and chain and flack steaming with the blood of the slain, heart thudding like a war drum on amphetamine, and all about the screams of the dying and the damned. This was living, this was the white hot living of a Dog Soldier in the Imperial Army.

And her hand upon his shoulder, her breath in his ear singing to him softly. Comforting. When the weight gets too much, when the pain is too much to endure, when he stumbled for the last time she would be there to catch him when he fell. She would wait for him, he was one of her flock.

CLANG!

The smell of turpentine, expensive incense and cheap air fresheners. Muffled and muted voices growing clearer and closer and more familiar filtering into his sleepy metal box. He didn't much care what they had to say, it wouldn't matter to him.

The grass was brown and grey now, the shingle blasted out of the beach, even the coastline was a different shape. He couldn't find his village to say nothing of his house. How could he bury his wife if he couldn't find her? How could he bury his children? The tears came freely now, great hacking undignified blobs of salt water mingling into the ash mud of the radiation burned grass. Seemingly of it's own volition his hand moved towards his belt to the simple home forged steel eating knife his father had given him an eternity ago, pride shining in his eyes as a humble blacksmiths son went off to be a noble warrior of the Unification. His father had been buried long ago. Buried properly, an apple pip in one hand and a piece of bone in the other and old mother Varða raising the family, the tribe of Kraken Bay, in song to the gods of a man who lived not just well but good.

Who would sing for his people now? For his wife and children and their friends and neighbors? There was only silence. He would join them in that silence. He felt the metal part his beard hairs. Her hand was on his shoulder, she would catch him and hold him close. He was one of her flock.

He had once charged through a literal garden of despair, in a Hell like no other to raid the halls of a mad god. At the time it had been the most horrific thing he had ever seen. He now had new and terrible perspective.

The knife was slapped from his hand just as it pricked flesh and drew the first drop of blood. Turning he half expected to see her face. In his grief he had not heard the foot falls of his Primarch and friend.

"Not like this, old friend. Not like this. Not by your own hand. Take that hate, take that sorrow, hold it crush it 'till it get hot and hold it 'till it burns. This that we feel; let it keep us warm on cold nights, let it fuel our retribution. I promise you this, for every sorrow they have inflicted on our people we we repay them, we will take a steep bloodprice".

He looked out to the sea, to the setting sun, and knew that no matter how long he lived the price would never be filled. Not even when all the stars burned red.

CLANG!

"Has he died in my absence" The voice was resonant and very familiar. If a chunk of depleted uranium could talk it would sound like that. "A heart still beats in that chest, though whether he can be awakened now is a matter between himself and his old gods" This voice less so, it was a buzzing thing, half or more machine. Though not cold like stainless steel but warm and welcoming like burnished brass and polished copper. Feminine, if metal and machine could be. Not that he could care, it no longer mattered to him.

The voices grew more distant again, fading away before dreams of other times and old memories once more.

CLANG!

"Oi, you still in there?" It was the first voice, all lead and half-life "Is this a box with my old friend or is it a carrion holding coffin?"

CLANG! CLANG!

That's what that insufferable noise was, someone was hammering on his shell! OF ALL THE IMPERTINENCE! Weren't the half-dead allowed some sleep? He crash booted his eyes and stood up suddenly, servos and pistons springing to powerful life, his fortress form standing up to it's full and terrifying height. Leithon the Wraithguard, jester of Cegorach, huntsman of Kurnous and fellow veteran of the Long War and the raid on the mansion.

"You can't be sleeping at a time like this. Do you know what time it is?" He asked standing there dressed in animal skins and paint made from marrow and egg white and ash and dust. "it's time for another adventure, are you ready?"

"Ready? Ready?! Bitch please, ready does not even begin to fucking describe it!" Bjorn stepped forth from his workshop berth like the footsteps of doom, adamantium fist raised high above his head as lightning crackled about his clawed fingers. Doubts and horrors of the past melting away for a time and for that time he was young again and full of fire.

"To the Great Hall, somewhere up there is ale worth drinking and a mug big enough for me to drink from and I have slept for far to long"

Some hours and some kegs later Bjorn settled down, the bloodclaws and greyhairs alike eager to know what had roused him from his long slumber. All eyes turned to the wraith guard and his animal skin and woad wearing cohorts.

"We hunt a strange breed of monster, a creature of primordial awfulness, born of ancient sins and vices, it skulks in it's lair of a world made into hell where my kin once dwelt and once called itself kin to my kind" Leithon opened his hand and formed a hologram of a fearsome creature. It might have been an eldar once but blessings of gods too terrible to contemplate had made it so no longer. "It is beyond me and my followers to land the kill but not so the fearsome children of Fenris" A cheer of agreement resounded through the warriors gathered round to see the image of the monster "it is cunning and it is powerful and it is evil beyond words. Who here wishes to visit misery upon it?" Another cheer, another drink.

"Then we leave at first light" declared the ancient Bjorn, Fellhanded warrior of Kraken Bay.

The moment the rays of the mourning sun struck the doors of The Fang the waiting wolves and huntsmen charged out into the snow and the dark pine trees where once a king had walked and vanished. Unlike that old and infamous king of antiquity for the most part they returned several months later, though most had new scars and a troubled expressions, at least the younger men did.

To the greyhairs and the hunters and especially Bjorn and Leithon such sorrows and pain were old acquaintances. More ale was drunk, meat consumed and acts of casual intimacy perpetrated when appropriate. In time the revelry died away. In time Leithon once more said his farewells to old friend Bjorn and he and his huntsmen went to find new game. In time Bjorn felt tired once more, the years settling heavily upon his shoulders and he made his way back to the tunnels beneath The Fang, to a comforting berth in a familiar workshop with the sounds of home murmuring from above and he closed his eyes once more.

He could still feel her hand upon his shoulder, comforting. His gods had not abandoned him, he would turn to her in time. Maybe a time soon and she would catch him when he fell. When the years got too heavy, the sorrows too deep. He was one of her flock. One day soon.

Omega Girl[edit]

"Eldar, like others sapients, pass from a vital period between the unconcerned childhood and the responsibilities of the adult age. During our teen years, we must cope with changes, biological, psychological and spiritual, that wreak havoc on all levels of our lives. Until this point, there are not many differences from others species with similar vital rhythms. But... Those differences create an abyss that other beings can´t understand. Eldars teens must cope with two maddening factors that define our society. The first is that our minds were groomed be the Old Ones to enjoy the thrill of battle, to soar over its chaos unscattered to their horrors and to process millions of factors in an instant... This great gift, is our greatest weakness, as we just can´t simply wind down. Emotions, urges, passion, instinct, pain, regret... An Eldar feels them with the same intensity and can become lost, a prisoner in his own mind. And here comes the second factor to our curse... "She Who Thirsts" that accursed false-god who claim entitlement to our souls. That being born of our own sins and hubris is always in the periphery of our lives. Mother Isha and the soul stones give us some measure of protection against that unnatural hunger but are nearly not enough. We in the craftworlds must restrict our own minds and emotions to have a chance of survival. That is the reason for the rigidity of our society and the Path System... Is so hard to understand that a young mind can feel overwhelmed, trapped between its urges and needs?. We try again and again to make it easy for the younger generation... but not always succeded. Sometimes we fail and a young mind is lost."
---From The Living Chronicles of Féin-Cineálan. As written by Osurad---

The Council Chamber was closed to procedures, only Osurad, Farseer of the Féin-Cineálan Enclave and Lynn Minwen, up-an-coming Musician are present. It was easy to differentiate them, he in his formal clothes, regal and not showering emotions and she... Being she, pacing wall to wall, nervous and altered.

"You can´t do this to me!" "Interesting. Lynn, I don´t feel that the time has transformed enough to accept that perspective of my reality." "Cut that Farseer crap! You can´t force me" "Hmm... Your vulgarization of the High Tongue is appalling. I think that less time loss in human-derived holofilms and more in your studies must be enforced." "..." "Well, it seems you are learning. One of the things I want you to understand is that it wasn´t me who decided in this course of action. The council AND your parents were consulted, and after a long deliberation, it was decided that you need discipline and a somewhat more broad education. It seems that we can´t give you that, so... the Imperial Guard will open his arms to a new recruit." "But... But I don´t want to! I must change Path and... and the Governor has invited me to a party! Half the nobility will be there to hear me!" "I´m sure you can continue practicing your Moonlyre skills as a hobby. And the Nobility can understand your little tenure in the Guardians." "That... That is... This is... a witch's hunt! I´m not The..."

There was a little change in the stance of Osurad. Just a change of weight and balance. For a human it was barely perceptible and inconsequent, but for an Eldar? It was the same as he shouts in rage. She stops in her pacing and shut up, quickly putting the hands over her mouth on instinctive fear. He walks slowly to the young Eldar, towering over her, and obviously displeased.

"Lynn Mynwen, don´t dare mention that title in our conversation! You talk about The Fall without respect! You talk about our lack of integration with the humans without knowledge! That end now! This is not about some childish prank! You, my child, has let a group of strangers roam through the security of this Enclave!" "But, they are the Inquisition! They are the good guys!" "The good guys!? You believe that I'm going to swallow that excuse! You know nothing about the Inquisition! I foresee their arrival and informed The Council! Whether you want it or not, the security protocols stand for a reason! Sigh... The sad part is that you don´t help them for a service to the community. You do it only to have some "Fun""

Lynn stood there, silent, adverting the Farseer gaze. Then slowly turn back and begin to left the room. As she crosses the door, half-crystallized tears begin to fall her cheeks. Her mind was in turmoil, racing through the scene again and again, and during a moment the mind barriers constructed during thirty years weakened, letting her hear the howling of Slaanesh. She barely registered the embrace of her parents and their words of comfort as they slowly guide Lynn towards their home.

Sometime later, she recovered from her grieving trance in her home, sorrounded by her parents arms. Slowly, to no break their own meditations, Lynn disengaged the mess of members and left. She needed to talk to somebody that doesn´t judge her, that listen to her, to a friend. And she can seek it in the form of Caellatyra, the only other girl of her age, currently serving her novitiate in the Isha's temple. As she cross the temple doors, a little kid runs to her legs and grab them. Fortunately, the All-Mother has given her people the reflexes to prevent the two to collapse in a heap. Giggling, the pair begins to play, trying desperately to exceed one another in the tickle fight. All this end when the little kid is raised to the heavens as Caellatyra take charge of her rambunctious ward.

"No... Let go! Want Ly!" "Shh... Kaenel you are going to awake the other kids."

Half smiling, half sniffling the kid let the young priestess take him to the creche. As they walk the temple´s hall, Lynn reflected about being a priestess. For some time she(Like all girls) toyed with the idea of join Caellatyra, but in the end, she choose to not. The problem was, that she did not see herself popping child after child in existence. Her friend on the contrary, not only wanted a family, is that she has been blessed be Isha with the sort of body that humans dig. Finally, the trio reaches the creche and tuck the little Kaenel. After some moments the kid falls asleep and the young women begin to talk.

"Well Lynn, in the end, what is gonna be your punishment" "Hm... They are going to exile me and erase my name from the Chronicles." "Lynn don´t joke about that." "I am only half-joking. They are going to send me to the Imperial Guard." "Hm... And the problem is?" "What!? I am a political exile! They fear my ideas!" "Lynn can´t you take it seriously?." "Ok, ok, but you must do the same!"

Caellatyra stands there a moment, looking to the sleeping children. Then walk to the altar and slowly pass her hands over a series of whraithbone effigies, as she offers a prayer for the lost lives, green flames illuminate the psyco-reactive material.

"Why do you think the IG is so bad?" "Ugh... Is not that I think bad about the service, is just... That I don´t want to be forced to go." "The most probable outcome is that you pass the next years doing guard duty. Even without being sent now, you must eventually join the Guardians. You can always return to the Musician Path. So... What is the difference now than in twenty years? Especially that now we are in relative peace."

Lynn sit there observing her friend and thinking in silence. Caellatyra meanwhile was silently congratulating herself as her words have finally induced an epiphany in Lynn. Finally, she answers the question.

"Because I want to be different. Sigh... My parents don´t talk about their service. They lost friends and saw literally millions die. All that to let us have some sort of future. And that is important! But when they return home, after the war, they changed Path and breed like humans until fathered me. And the weirdest? They act like that part of their lives wasn´t special, mostly because they live with fear. For Slaanesh, their emotions, the future etc., Etc., Etc. When I meet those humans, it was, I don´t know who to define it. They were different... They were... Different... Hm?"

As her friend fall silent again, Caellatyra serene expression change to one of horror.

"Oh no, Lynn! No! That is a horrible idea!" "What?! Come on, I think it resolves everything! I will left and do something for the Imperium. It will be fun and after my return, I will be a heroine! Nobody will ever question me!" "Look, Lynn, the Inquisition is not a game!" "Of course not, but they don´t have a dress code! Is a win-win situation!" "Dress code? Lynn! This is serious!"

Caellatyra drops the wise and serene priestess visage and was grabbing Lynn by the shoulders. Her friend was again losing herself on a whim.

"Lynn, please! I beg you to rethink this!" "Hm... No!"

Lynn disengaging from her friend grasp, and giggling, begin to dance around the chapel. A mortified Caellatyra stand there, looking with apprehension her mad friend.

"Lynn can you stop to do that. Sigh... I don´t like your jesting." "Nope! This deserves a dance! I have accomplished my goal to make you lose your shit!" "Sigh... You see too many human holos. Lynn, I´m sure that Osurad will rethink his punishment if you talk whole-hearted to him."

Lynn stops and looks to her friend. Suddenly she feels revitalized and smiling, hugs Caellatyra, leaving afterward for her home. But she wasn´t going to talk with Osurad, her parents or any other stuck ass grow up. Nope. She has made a decision. She was going to be a heroine and then nobody is going to tell her how to live. So... He needs a plan... Well, she is a supersoldier, what will Loriel Zig do in the same situation?...

Epilogue: Osurad was trying to meditate in his chambers. The news has altered his mental focus, and the paths to the future look altered. Somehow Lynn Minwen has passed beyond the curfew and left as a stowaway in Inquisitor Hand´s ship. Her parents were griefing, half the enclave was angry to the disparagement of the runaway girl, the other half was actually glad that the troublemaker has left, and the poor Caellatyra has been admonished for her lack of vision. But that was predictable, the sort of reactions that people make when they lose their focus over the truly important questions. Who, a girl know to all, pass beyond the Guardians without notice? Who, a girl without training, sneak in a ship secured by the Inquisition? Who?

Slowly, the ancient runes begin to dance before him, colors, forms, and more indescribable things were shown to his powerful warp-senses. The carefully crafted future of Lynn has been changed, and new paths formed, leading her beyond his grasp. But where? He pushes, but something powerful, different and... Alien, seems to grow in her Path. Tired and frustrated, his mind returns to the material world and proceed to analyze the now static symbols. "Dead" "Born" "Cry" "Cell" "Snake" and... "Eldrad"

Continued in Alpha Bitch

Pathlost[edit]

“Why are we here?”

The question surprised Keir to such a point that he stopped stitching the open wound. “Pardon?”

Long and vibrant lavender hair parted as the Eldar woman, Tal’hina he had come to know, turned her head to look partially over her shoulder.

“Why are we here Guardsman? You are quite lucky our band managed to spot you alone. I’m curious as to what could have driven you so far from your lines, especially with a group of Orks on your trail.”

Keir hesitated for a moment before focusing on treating Tal’hina’s wound. They had found cover in a cave thankfully and his pack lights were powerful enough to allow him to work at least basic first aid. Tal’hina had mentioned something about other warriors of hers that guarded the entrance to their hideaway. Keir hadn’t seen a trace of them though.

“I promise you it wasn’t cowardice that drove me out here.” Keir finally formed a response as his fingers worked deftly. He was wondering just how far he should go with the truth. He was among allies at the least, but what drove him on this battlefield was extremely personal.

“I was… in charge of escorting a civilian band.” Keir tried to keep his tone steady. “They had been forced underground by the initial Ork invasion and we found them locked in a sub-basement. We weren’t told to expect ambushes so far behind the front-.”

He stopped to reach for the anti-septic again, one could never be too careful with Ork and the wounds they inflicted. Tal’hina was quiet throughout his explanation. He wondered if she believed him at all. It was unsettling to say the least, like he was trying to explain his case to an Arbiter judge.

“So you failed?” Tal’hina spoke suddenly, catching Keir off-guard. He did not answer which prompted Tal’hina again. “I find you alone and beset by Orks from all sides, not a single civilian or other human soul in sight or sound, so your mission was a failure I presume?”

Keir supposed he should feel some sting of anger or reprisal. Instead he felt numb; perhaps it was the pain suppressors the Eldar woman had given him when she had healed his wounds or maybe it was just a stark realization that in some way he did fail. He finally answered in a subdued tone.

“I don’t know honestly. I was cut off almost immediately and forced to fight for my life. The soldiers I had were good, but…” He trailed off as he realized he had finished closing the wound. He tapped Tal’hina on the shoulder as he set himself heavily against one of the cave walls. She turned with entirely too much grace for how injured she was supposed to be to finally look at Keir face to face. The small smile she wore spoke of consolation, or was it haughtiness? Keir had never any Eldar before today so he wasn’t entirely sure. He quickly realized she was still expecting some more of an answer and stammered one out.

“The soldiers were good and the civilians were survivors. They would have made it out alright.” Keir turned to regard his shredded and not empty medical tote bag. He was beginning to feel the inkling of shame crawl into his mind and wanted to look anywhere but at the Eldar woman.

He heard a small hum come from Tal’hina. She had seemed to decide something and turned to look away from Keir. This sparked something in his mind that caused him to start speaking with a rising volume.

“No matter what you think of me, let me make one thing perfectly apparent. I’ve had countless people from almost every walk of life go through my hands as a doctor. Many of them have died, because I wasn’t fast enough, or they were killed before I ever reached them, or some random accident of happenstance. Every one of their lost lives live on in my mind; I see the last fleeting moments of a thousand different people flash through my head every time I’m called on to help those in need.” Keir spoke as evenly as he could, but the loss of his voice did not help in his efforts to explain.

“Even if I wanted to forget them, I would not allow myself to. I have been forced more times than I wish to remember to allow some to die so more may live, and the choice doesn't become any easier.” Keir was no distinctly aware of his eyes become more blurry. “All I ask Tal’hina, whatever you may think of my decisions, is to not patronize me. I try to work every day to make up for my mistakes; I could not live with myself otherwise.” Keir finally clamped down on his mouth by biting his tongue. He was close to fully spilling out into a tirade but ultimately managed to school his swirling thoughts and quiet his fears about what had happened to the civilians who he was charged with protecting.

“...I promise you, I will do everything in my power find them and ensure their safety; that is my mission. There is no other alternative for me.”

Tal’hina muttered under her breath. All Keir could make out was something about being lost but he could not be sure. Tal’hina locked eyes with him. He could not tell what she was looking for in his own eyes, but he was startled at the simultaneous steel that spoke of a warrior and silent worry that he had seen in so many of his more idealistic medic-brethren.

“Is that why you walk this path then; to try to help the helpless and save the damned?” Tal’hina asked an almost soothing tone, turning where she was sat so now she fully faced Keir. The look of confusion from Keir at the question let loose a small laugh from Tal’hina. It was a sound that Keir admitted was quite breathtaking, internally of course.

“I meant if that is why you are a healer? Your equipment and heraldry mark you as such.” Tal’hina kept that small smile as she regarded Keir. “Our path is not an easy one, and there are easier ways to fight for your people, so I’m curious as to what drives you.”

Keir didn’t know what to make of the question. This whole situation had grown far beyond what he could have imagined not a few hours ago. Then again he did owe his life to this woman. He figured he might as well indulge her and himself in speaking.

“I don’t recall much, only the festering odor. I still don’t know what they were, what they wanted, where they went, all I can remember is that terrible stink.” Keir felt strange dredging up a very old memory, but it felt like a much needed venting from his current emotional turmoil. Tal’hina quickly lost her smile.

“A minor chaos incursion, or so I’m told; I was quite young then, young enough that the memory of it stands out as some of my earliest. I remember trying to help but I could scarcely keep myself calm let alone assist in treating such disaster. It was then I decided that it was not enough to fight. So many of the garrison there fought and they died doing their duty. I knew I needed to do something more than just pull a trigger.”

Keir slowly made his way shakily to his feet. Tal’hina followed so that both of them stood apart from the other. Keir was surprised to find themselves equal in height, although the fact that Ta’lhina was not wearing most of her armor was not lost on him.

“So I decided I would try and help people through healing. Where else would that need be the largest than with the Guard? I enlisted as soon as I was able and have been walking this ‘path’ ever since.”

He started retrieving his equipment as Tal’hina was content to simply watch him as she seemed to be trying to judge something for herself. She regained that smile of hers and spoke.

“You are considerate to bear these questions of mine, and I don’t think I have properly thanked you for your own assistance to my wounds. So, properly now, thank you and know that you have gained the gratitude of Tal’hina of Yme-loc.” She dipped her head towards Keir who made no attempt to respond to the gesture. She brought her head back up and began to gather her own equipment and reequip her armor gingerly.

“Rovenko.” Tal’hina turned while continuing to adjust her armor and stared in apparent confusion. Kier spoke again with a bit more surety. “My name is Kier Rovenko, a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Tal’hina nodded again, seemingly satisfied in the information, before turning back to her armor.

“So why do you follow this path?” Keir could not resist asking. Tal’hina stopped abruptly in adjusting a greave and turned to look at Keir again. “It is tale woefully similar to your own I would say. My most prominent memory of my decision was the sound of the dying and the anguished.”

Keir averted his eyes from hers. “I apologize, I did not mean to drag up-“

“It does not matter,” Tal’hina interrupted him, “You have been more than accommodating of my own inquiries, so there is no reason I should respond in kind. Although you will also forgive me for being as elusive in my answers as you were.” Keir swallowed a small lump that had suddenly caught in his throat. He turned back to see the full regalia of an Eldar warrior, armor he did not recognize, covering Tal’hina’s lithe frame all besides her helmet which she held couched in her arm.

Both healers gathered themselves and moved toward the entrance to their small hideaway. Tal’hina, her face now covered by a full helmet, turned to Keir.

“Are you well enough to perform your duties?” Her voice rang clear despite the now electric twang it had. Keir rested his hand against the grip of his las-pistol as his eyes adjusted to the natural light again. He could finally make out the burnt orange form of a set of guardian armor standing guard just a small ways from the entrance.

“I’m still breathing aren’t I?” Keir allowed a smile of his own at Tal’hina’s metallic laughter. Maybe she was impressed; maybe she was just amused at his dogged pursuit. Either way he had found that sound of laughter to be comforting. The set off in step with the other, both of them ready to go back into the fray once again to hold death itself at bay.

The Rant[edit]

"This was our galaxy once. The Old Ones, the predecessors those that made us, left it in our care. It was ours to tend. Reward, for all that we had suffered in our war against the Yngir slaves. Entire generations, entire histories, entire cultures were lost in that dread war, but this, this was our reward. Freedom, and an unblemished canvas to write our fate upon it. We were stewards of life, the victors over death, and we were told not to waste it."

"And we didn't. We flourished, taking barren rock and tainted ground, and making fertile and green pearls of them. We made such works of art, such wonders of technology. We even made gods. For millennia, we worked, honed our art, and at every turn, brought life to this scarred galaxy. We had peace, as strange as that sounds today. It's a distant dream, isn't it? But you know it's there, that it's possible. You feel your spirit rise at the very thought. We had peace."

"But then we had the Fall. And it was all lost."

"Every eldar that is taught our history- even, the warped and half complete history of those led astray by the dark gods- is struck by that. Here, here is our people at their peak! We are surrounded by their works, the very galaxy owes its life to them in their power, but yet, we lose it all in a matter of years, reduced to this shadow of ourselves? How could this happen?"

"Arrogance, my child. Arrogance blinded them so far back. Arrogance of a few, that sought power at the cost of the many. Even, at the cost of their very gods. We were at the very cusp of ascension, when those, the fanatics, the usurpers, the primitives out of fear and envy destroyed the greatest work of those halcyon days."

"They tried to make a miscarriage of the birth of our greatest hope. The distillation of all of our gods in to one, purer being. Our Child Goddess, Slaanesh."

"The birth cries were terrible. What should have been a moment of joy and celebration would prove, with the treachery of the usurpers, traumatic. A great storm of pain tore the warp asunder, as eldar turned against eldar, brother against sister, mother against son, all for what? A handful of dirt balls the exodites call planets so you're free to freeze in mud and gnaw on roots. Flimsy scraps of wraithbone drifting the void called craftworlds, where you can have your fate decided before you are even born by the dead that rule. And that pathetic pantomime of glory in Comorragh, where they pretend at the past that's dead and gone. What glories have those rebels have earned? What proof of righteousness do they have in their miserable lives? They have turned their backs on Slaanesh, only to suffer under the lash and call it freedom."

"Thank the Many-Gods-in-One that they did not succeed in circumventing our child goddess's ascension, or we might all be trapped under their rule. Slaanesh is mighty, but her might is tempered with kindness. She waited patiently on the other side, in the dimension unbounded, waiting for the souls of her wayward children to be reunited with her. She did not snuff them out, though they truly deserved it. She did not hunt them down, though they wished her dead. She kept her arms wide open for them, ever welcoming their arrival."

"And then came the mon'keigh. And their insult."

"How gullible are those that lay outside? Short lived, murderous, stupid, and unworthy creatures come to them, and whisper poison in the ears of those already poisoned. They whisper of raiding like a band of thieves in the immaterium, of stealing and murdering. They speak of defiling the realm of the gods, and these that dirty the name eldar smile and nod, that ancestral sin of greed rising in them again."

"Those misguided heathens outside begged for the collar of the mon'keigh on their necks, in exchange for injuring a goddess that only loved them."

"Isha? Is that so? They speak of Isha, long gone, returned to guide our people unto a golden age? It is a lie. Look upon the histories- all the gods and goddesses save Cegorach agreed to combine, to set aside their individual identities to unite and make something better of themselves. Through those thousands of years since the fall, no one spoke of Isha, except in the past. Through these thousands of years, eldar hands were not up to the task of rescuing her? Preposterous."

"Now, now they claim that Isha, goddess of health, the harvest, and life bearing was kept captive in the hands of Nurgle? This betrays the work of the mon'keigh to misguide and mislead you. The lie is at the root- the mon'keigh would believe our goddess, pure and strong, could be captured and caged like an animal by that brute Nurgle? The story betrays their own intent! Like this false Isha, they would want us caged by them, used by them, made slaves by them. The story of her 'rescue' is a lie to convince the unwary that the eldar are weak, and it is only with the help of mon'keigh they can do anything. It makes me sick to the think children are being raised to believe this, and to think themselves less than mon'keigh. Trying to indoctrinate us into slavery."

"But they did attack a god that day- the mon'keigh and the false eldar. And they did perhaps even see Isha. Isha, as one part of the Many-Gods-in-One of Slaanesh. I was not there that day, but a comrade was, and he wept bitterly at the very memory of the sight. Slaanesh, in her radiance. In her glory. The innocent child god, looking curiously at these strangers that came to her. She smiled. Even among the black hearted and soul sick eldar infidels, some stopped and for a moment the truth came through. They fell to their knees and wept, tried to warn Slaanesh, tried to stop their fellows. They were slain by the mon'keigh, filled with bloodlust and eager to tear the flesh of the innocent."

"We counter attacked of course. Drove them back into the blighted materium, sending the cowards shrieking as soon as they faced something more than an innocent goddess. But the damage was done."

"Once it was, any eldar was guaranteed as soon as their soul left their body or the cruel soul traps devised by the craftworlders would be reunited with Slaanesh automatically. They would return to the child, and we'd be one step closer to divinity, and our heaven in the immaterium, when the eldar could claim the birthright of the old ones, and remake the unreality as we had remade the reality."

"But the evil ones broke that bridge. They severed one more strand of Slaanesh's goodness to your world. And now Slaanesh withers."

"The Child Goddess is no more. Innocence is no more. Denied the very love of her people, she withers and hungers. And she has learned from her mistake of trust. And we, in our sorrow, now must redeem our failing. The Crone Worlds must unite again, the masters of the warp must be awoken, and our goddess's due must be retaken. We can be patient no more as paradise itself is under threat. We can no longer wait for the misguided to realize their mistake, and come once again to the embrace of the Many-in-One. Our goddess hungers. And we shall feed that hunger. Just as we did so long ago against the slaves of the yngir, so must we do for the slaves of the mon'keigh."

"The War for Heaven calls. You shall serve- either in Her warhost, or as Her sacrifice. Either is better than your kind deserve."

-Unknown, Battle of Merr's Reach, speech given to prisoners.

The Saga of Fedor Jiao[edit]

Homo sapiens navigo is a sub species of humanity that was once a necessary cornerstone of the Imperium, and mankind's proliferation throughout the galaxy. From generation to generation, from their pivotal position in society, they have gathered wealth and power that outshine even planetary governors. However, at the dawn of the 42nd millenium, they are now at risk of losing it all through eons of mismanagement, greed, and complacency.

Due to their genetic nature, Navigators are organized by great houses, vast genetic lineages carefully recorded and kept track of to keep inbreeding at a minimum. By necessity, they can't have new blood. The result of a navigator and a normal human produces a human without the dubious blessing of navigator powers. They may carry an abundance of less than stellar physical traits inherited from their navigator parent, but none of the metaphysical traits, and they are not a carrier of any of the traits. Though there are a great deal of genetic markers associated with the navigators, none of them seem to activate the legendary third eye. It's speculated that the atypical warp presence of the navigators may bear some manner of information that is past on to the infant, and that it is only the combination of two such warp signatures that can produce a third, or perhaps it's some form of Dark Age of Technology copyright protection for navigator reproduction that can't be cracked. Whatever the case, the navigator houses have cornered the market on those able to guide the way through the warp, and supply is limited, much to the rest of the Imperium's discontent.

The foremost irritation is the arrogance of the navigators. Navigators have always held a very high opinion of themselves. They are necessary for any long range warp travel, and so have proliferated across the whole of human space, and reaped great wealth and prestige for their tasks. Somehow, the navigators manage to hold an arrogance beyond even their high station. To the irritation of those that revere the Throne and He That Sits Upon It, they consider themselves peers of the Emperor. In the minds of the majority of navigators, the parallels are obvious. The Emperor is a product of the Dark Age of Technology, so are the sub species Homo Sapiens Navigo. The Emperor has powers far beyond the normal man, and so too do the Navigators. The Emperor, by dint and right of these powers and his wisdom, rules. So, the Navigators deduce, must they. Most navigators take a benign attitude to this, content to live the pampered life of the ultra rich and enjoy generation after generation of accrued wealth. For them, the tedium of governance is something they should not suffer, but they take for granted that they shall be granted every luxury and consideration with none of the responsibility outside of ensuring vessels are guided safely through the warp.

Although many outside of the navigators criticize and deride their hedonistic attitude, it's worth remembering all navigators serve. From birth, navigators suffer from a host of genetic diseases and maladies as a side effect of the inbreeding necessary to preserve the powers that make warp travel possible. Their childhood is spent learning and memorizing star and warp charts for the routes they must work for the rest of their lives- charts which are notorious for failing to keep up with the realities of navigation. The demand for navigators has spiked severely as shipyards produce more vessels to respond to the various threats that besiege the Imperium.

Navigators are recorded to have been pressed into service at ages as young as twenty two, with only ten year's worth of training, and no practice on the safer routes closer to the Astronomicon (Which are generally crowded by the richer and more influential families unwilling to see their scions die on useless crusades). Navigators will spend years trapped in claustrophobic conditions, seeing horrors never meant to be comprehended by mortal minds, and painfully aware that the lives of thousands could be snuffed in an instant if they made a mistake.

Is it any wonder that the navigators have taken a bon vivant attitude? On every civilized world, the navigator houses have a presence, and they have a code: all navigators on shore leave are to be treated as family. Though later they may charge the navigator's actual house, when navigators go ashore they are denied nothing by their hosts. A celebration for living another day. These bacchanals can be truly hedonistic, at times even spilling beyond the navigator compounds to welcome any curious citizens in as alcohol, mind altering substances, sex, and other stranger diversions are offered freely. It's frowned upon to involve the common people however, as not everyone gets festive at such a gross display of wealth. If the arbites come calling, it can be truly expensive to clear up the matter, and if an Inquisitor's ire is roused, well, even the familial bonds of navigator houses have their limits.

In the face of the navigators flaunting their wealth, the fact that they consider themselves another species, the fact that they assume they're predestined to inherit their high status from birth rather than any deed, they rankle most of the rank and file.

The Emperor, for his part finds the lack of obsequiousness among the navigators refreshing, but does not let that color his assessment of the Navis Nobilite: An antiquated aristocracy that should be (gently) set aside as soon as the technology allows it. In the Imperium as a whole, there is a tacit acknowledgement that the Navis Nobilite will soon come to an end, or face a great humbling. Either from the eldar opening up the webway, the geneticists finally cracking the navigator code and permitting mass production of them, or some new technology from the Tau or Mechanicus, everyone begrudgingly tolerate the Navis Nobilite, feeling that someday, they'll get their comeuppance, and slide into the waste bin of history.

This assessment may change with the latest Paternoval Envoy.

The current Paternova of the navigators is Lustran-Gibb of House Nostromo, a once minor house that managed through a stroke of luck involving a rogue trader, to rise in ascension and place one of their own in the prestigious position of Paternova, the head of the navigators. An outrage to the other navigator houses, but one settled through a series of (questionably) legal duels with the other heirs apparent. Lustran-Gibb, after killing his rivals, was content to remand himself to the Navigator Palace on Terra, where he spends the majority of his time in an aquarium with rare marine life imported from across the galaxy. In a move of reconciliation, Lustran-Gibb left the selection of the Paternoval Envoy to the houses for a vote, and then secluded himself with his strange menagerie.

The navigator houses were not used to this. After the diplomatic but bloody takeover, most of their leadership lay dead as the result of ritual combat. And rarely did a Paternova ever deign to ask others to decide things. They might have thought it weakness, had they not witnessed the Paternova kill most of his competition bare handed.The houses feared a trap, and so, appointed someone they wouldn't mind see dead.

Within an hour, the reply came back, blandly approving. Paternova Nostromo was at the moment fascinated at the prospect of recovering the porpoise of the distant past from genetic samples found in an ark dug up out of Catachan. He read Fedor's name once, and then dismissed it.

Paternova Nostromo was only interested in the position of Paternova as it allowed him power and money enough to pursue greater heights of marine biology. The competitors he slew, the bargains he struck, the pleas to the emperor and the quests he and his house had undertaken, were all bent to this purpose. Paternova Lustran-Gibb Nostromo, despite his heinous power both physical and mental, had no taste for politics. To his understanding, the Paternoval Envoy would take care of that. For the great navigator houses, they had made the greatest possible miscalculation. Because Fedor Jiao was very interested in politics.

Fedor Jiao, after reporting to Terra, undergoing the anointing, and taking the great oaths and suffering quietly through the vast ceremonies, immediately bypassed the great banquet set for him, and reported to the Imperial Senate. Once there, he sat quietly through an interminable meeting, accepted well wishes and congratulations, and patiently waited until the agenda was clear enough for him to provide a list of names and evidence of smuggling operations that House Garibald, House Strahovsky, and his own House Jiao were involved with throughout the Segmentum Tempestus. For Fedor Jiao, though bewildered by his sudden rise, bore no delusion that the great navigator houses were his friends. He immediately sought allies through the rest of the Imperium to protect him.

For the next thirty years, the Imperial Senate suddenly had a great ally in Fedor Jiao as he performed a great house cleaning of the Navis Nobilite. Corrupt navigators that had knowingly looked the other way when their members served on pirate ships found themselves raided by arbite agents. The more jaded navigators that required darker thrills to entertain themselves found themselves at the wrong end of an Inquisitor's bolt pistol. Even the Paternova Nostromo himself received a visit from a detachment of Adeptus Custodes, as the Navigator Palace was searched top to bottom for hidden Xenos Terribilis, with proof of warrant that the Paternova signed dismissively when Paternoval Envoy Jiao offered it.

For the navigators, it seemed that Paternoval Envoy Jiao was their worst enemy. Devoted to ripping out corruption by the root, and sending the Navis Nobilite as a whole into disarray. Assassination attempt after assassination attempt was mounted on Jiao, but none got through. He was well guarded by the highest levels of the Imperium, pleased that Jiao was humbling the once arrogant collection of mutants.

It was more than just cleaning house. Jiao was working to rein in the absurd wealth and influence of the Navis Nobilite houses, while also trying to improve the lot of the common navigator. Controversially, he designated the safest trade routes to be opened to all novice navigators so they could get up to speed before being thrown into the fire blindly. He forcibly dissolved several trade monopolies held by the greatest navigator houses, providing much needed reform for trade in the Imperium. There was chaos, but for once, the Navis Nobilite seemed to have a brighter future.

Then one day, the Emperor himself summoned Jiao. Jiao answered those summons, and the door shut behind him, barred by the Adeptus Custodes.

Two hours later the Emperor requested a different Paternoval Envoy, and ordered a closed doors meeting of the Senate Imperialis in the Imperial Throne Room.

Envoy Jiao was diligent. He was devoted to mankind. To ending corruption throughout the whole of the Navis Nobilite, and to a greater extent, throughout the whole of the Imperium. He used to be like any other navigator, eager to live life to its fullest after the grueling journeys, so many lives in his hands, guiding through the warp. When he got to port, he feasted, he drank, he fucked, he enjoyed all he could of life like every other navigator.

But his other great love was astronomy. He had collections of charts, all kinds, dating back even to the days before the Imperium. He collected them, compared them, and sought to make his own grand map. As a young man, he had been frustrated at all the inaccuracies of star charts, and sought to correct those failings as an adult. It was an activity that brought him true joy, unlike the base pleasures of the flesh that were offered to him.

When the good ship Dauntless was attacked by corsairs, Fedor was certain he would die serving on his vessel. He felt the air slip away, heard the screams of the dying around him, and did his best to face death with dignity. But the corsairs were interested in him. When the eldar stormed the bridge, the lights were out- he saw flashes of power swords swinging, but nothing else when a hilt struck the side of his head, knocking him to the ground dazed, before a bag was put over his head.

When next he came to, he was in his sumptuous personal quarters. The terrible tang of burnt steel filled his nose- they had cut the whole of the section away, and attached it to their own ship. Arrayed in front of him were the star charts he had collected, and at the top of the heap, was a new map. Older than the others. It depicted the empire of the eldar, he realized belatedly, and the older extent of mankind. A message, Fedor concluded, but what for, he was not sure of.

He shortly realized afterwards that the corsairs had physically cut his quarters out of the Dauntless out, and placed it somewhere within their own vessel. He could leave, and wandered around in a daze about what he assumed was a cargo hold, with all manner of strange things. A necron plinth here, a caged Catachan Devil there, a crystallized fragment of some squid like entity there- Fedor was free to roam the hold, but whenever he tried to get beyond a further door, he found the way barred by veiled and robed eldar that refused to say anything. Crone, craftworld, exodite, dark, Fedor did not know what variety.

He slept forty three times there, not including his initial capture. He couldn't be certain, but he assumed that corresponded to the days in captivity. When he looked through his third eye, he realized he was not in the warp. He assumed the vessel he was on was in the webway.

The forty fourth time he awoke, he was somewhere else. He was before a great window sleeping on a smooth, tiled surface, the only company a chart, the one depicting the eldar empire at its grand extent. Behind him, a crowd of shrouded eldar, staring silently down at him. In the window before him, he saw the galaxy, as if from above, from a distance enough that he could see each end of the milky way. The awe swept all fear away from his mind, all thoughts except reverence. The bright collection there, that would be the halo stars, the stain there, the eye of terror, the dark divot, that would be the dark maw, and so on and so forth. And when he opened his third eye, let himself see the warp in all it's glory, he could see the shining pinprick of the golden throne, and the shadows of the collected psychic miasma of all life in the galaxy.

But then the view turned away. It slowly slipped away from the galaxy, and Fedor felt a bitter disappointment at that, for all there was out there was darkness. Physically and spiritually, there was nothing shining out beyond the galaxy.

And then Fedor realized something. There was nothing beyond the Milky Way. The ship continued pivoting- at the bottom of his view, there was still the distant light of his home galaxy, but outside of it, nothing but the dark. No orphan stars. No nebulae. No Andromeda. The darkness was closing in. And then, when he opened his third eye again, he felt the shadow passing over him.

At that moment, Fedor realized how alone he was in the universe. All he felt surrounding him, surmounting him, and washing over him was the Hive Mind. In that moment, though Fedor later denied it, fought the thought, tried desperately to disprove it, he felt a certainty. There was no more Andromeda. No more galactic neighbors. No more universe.

All there was was tyranids, and now, his home, as they descended to feed, as they had so many times before, on all the other galaxies that Fedor had once dreamed of seeing.

Fedor Jiao remembered little after that. He was dazed at the realization, and was led back to his quarters with little effort. He slept, and stared, and thought, a changed man. He could no longer enjoy life, in the face of the indescribable certainty that all he knew was doomed. When the corsairs released him in an escape pod, and he was picked up by the imperial navy, he didn't bother to relate the truth of the story. He simply said that he was ashamed to have survived.

When he was appointed paternoval envoy, at first he thought he would arrive at Terra and reject the choice. He would explain, humbly, that he was not capable of the great responsibility before him, but that he was glad of the chance to tell them of the nightmare he had seen, of the overwhelming dark that was to come.

But then Jiao saw the greatest navigators, and realized they were just as stupid and greedy as Jiao had been. And he decided that he would do his best to save the Imperium.

And he did great things. He made enemies. Lived boldly. Pulled out corruption by the root. But his every deed, he set against the overwhelming darkness he had seen, and he thought how little of a difference he was making. The galaxy was a thimble of light in an ocean of darkness. All the Imperium's work was for naught. Mathematically speaking, it was an impossibility. If the tyranids had already consumed Andromeda, and who knows what else, they had more mass than the Imperium could ever produce of bullets, missiles, lasers, bombs, and swords. Victory was impossible.

Unless he did something unthinkable.

In greatest secrecy, he hired a crew, brought a spare navigator, and personally guided a sword class frigate to a distant point of space he'd heard only rumors about. His crew trusted him, hand picked to be ones that were starstruck by the reputation of the heroic corruption fighter. They didn't question why he was so far from civilization, operating under radio silence.

They came to an asteroid, and Paternoval Envoy Jiao disembarked with a shuttle alone, and told the spare navigator to return to imperial space, and leave him behind. The ship navigated to a safe range to warp jump out. An hour later, Paternoval Envoy Jiao saw a distant explosion. He wasn't surprised. Soon after that, the pirates surrounded him, on their void suits the bleak marks of dark gods showing them for chaos corrupted.

Jiao had privately hoped they would break the deal. See him torn apart, and fed to their vile daemons. But they held. They took him to their captain, the legendary and loathsome Azariah Kyras, who was amused at their guest. He in turn took Jiao to a local pirate base operated by Dark Eldar. And there, on the base called Odom, with the aid of a captive Crone Eldar oracle, Jiao contacted the daemon of Nurgle called Ulkair with a plea.

The daemon was pleased that Jiao saw the futility of resisting the tyranids conventionally. Ulkair jovially explained that Father Nurgle had also been worried. In his great cauldron, Father Nurgle had been brewing something up to get rid of this oversized insect infestation. In fact, it was with the aid of beloved Isha that Father Nurgle had been making this. Those tyranids were so quick to adapt after all. With Isha on hand to test his poxes upon, Nurgle could be sure to make something real nice and lethal so the tyranids would shrivel and die before they spoiled all the fun in the galaxy.

But then the humans and eldar had to go and take Isha away. Which made Father Nurgle very sad. He could barely even cook up new plagues now, he was so depressed. Without company, he just couldn't get into the spirit of plague making. Everything he made nowadays seemed so trite. The past twelve epidemics he cooked up were all just the same old bursting boils disease he'd done last year. His heart wasn't in it any more.

Ulkair at this point offered the Paternoval Envoy a deal. Nurgle knew that a mere human couldn't spirit away a goddess. But, that avatar of hers could do a fine substitute. A simple trade. A plague for the tyranids, for the avatar of Isha. Save the galaxy, all for a girl. Who could turn that bargain down? Nurgle wouldn't even infect Jiao, though he honestly should. Wouldn't touch a hair on his head. All he had to do was go back. Make sure it would happen. And the bugs would come down with one hell of a case of the sniffles.

The Paternoval Envoy was silent. Ulkair smiled. That was enough for him. With a corrosive wave of his hand, Ulkair instructed Kyras to make sure that the Paternoval Envoy got back, safe and sound.

When the Paternoval Envoy made his way back to civilized space, he was picked up by an imperial patrol. They asked no questions of the great Paternoval Envoy, figuring he had been doing something of great import in his fight against corruption. On the trip back to Terra, they seemed happy, chipper, and praised him for all he had done. Jiao wondered if maybe no one had noticed. He was certain that, despite all his precautions they wouldn't be enough. He almost relaxed on the journey home, convinced he could fight his inner struggle in peace and alone.

It was only when he touched foot on Terra, and saw the Adeptus Custodes waiting at the space port that he found himself back in reality. They said nothing, simply putting out their weapons. Jiao was just as silent, and allowed himself to be escorted to the Imperial Palace on the Emperor's summons. The Emperor already knew of his errant servant, and where he'd been.

He entered the throne room.

Two hours later, Paternoval Envoy Fedor Jiao still hasn't emerged. But the Emperor has requested a new Envoy be appointed. And that an emergency session of the Senate Imperialis be held.

These Animals[edit]

Two people, man and woman, prone behind a low ridge atop a hill among some scraggly bushes. Hiding. The terrain, low dry scrub one step away from desert, does not offer much concealment unless you are skilled. They are skilled, and have cameoline.

Below them- “Shit,” the woman, Sergeant Arn Kasparova, not that it will be relevant much longer, hissed. “Looks like a whole damned command section.”

A profusion of bizarre and unwholesome color. A- command tent? decorated in abstract shapes that suggested exaltation through pain and suffering. Coiled up mecha-centipedes on the scale of heavy tanks. A small forest of crooked ghastbone spires, suggestive of an antenna farm. A major force.

“Call it in now?” the man-Corporal Saram Ostokova, not that it will be relevant much longer, asked. She shook her head- no telling if they could pick it up. Sometimes the Chaos Eldar were utterly ignorant of any communication besides psionic. Other times they fought vox-war as well as the Mechanicus. They would need to get some distance. They turned to leave.

The Mandrake behind them gave them a second to appreciate their situation before shooting them. A nonlethal weapon. Not a positive development.

They came to, kneeling, without visible or tangible restraints but still immobile, in a room. Riotous and baroque, seizure-décor. The eye could settle on details- twining figures in the heart of a gem, a burning tesseract-city, a newborn infant still placenta-wet crowned and enthroned- but refused to resolve any kind of whole. Only the other figures in the room could be clearly comprehended, drab in comparison, practically silhouettes against the background of nauseating splendor.

“What is to be done with this mad animal?” the first, head fully enclosed in radial quicksilver-fungus sensory apparatus, twitching on the edge of information overload, asked. Perfect Low Gothic, a performance for the benefit of the captives.

“I could debone them and fold them into glass jars as ornaments,” the second, naked with razor vines growing into and through him, cutting him with every movement to bleed in a continuous stream upon the carpet, offered. “I could bend and break their minds into perfect little toy soldiers,” the third, clad head to toe in featureless vantablack bodysuit (or is it its skin?) studded with grinning maws like zippers, said. “I could kill them and dump their bodies in a ditch out back,” the fourth, near transparent, organs and bones mere suggestive twists of light beneath invisible skin, silk drapes and gun belts only certain evidence of her presence, stated. “Enough,” the first said again, completing the ritual debate. “I have decided. We shall give them mind-knots, and body infections, and set them free to bring ruin to their fellow animals.” Arn and Saram both tried to commit suicide. Hollow molars filled with neurotoxin. A commonplace among soldiers fighting the Chaos Eldar. They could not move even that much. They could not flinch or scream as the cutting started. A hole in the skull, and a slimy convoluted something pressed into the wrinkles of the brain. Holes in the body, and rotten-looking ghastbone nodes slipped inside. Then, everything sealed back up, with not even a scar or drop of blood to show what was done. Then, dumped back outside, their bodies no longer their own. They punched the right codes on the vox, knew the sign and countersign, the name of the voice on the other end, called in an artillery strike on the position they had just left (vacated only minutes before). Then, they started the long walk to link back up with the main body of the Godspire 1888th Infantry.

The 1888th was destroyed within the week.

The War for Heaven[edit]

Please, just call me Oscar. There are no need for such formalities when it's your ceremony.

You wish to know why? That is a question I have been asked many times before. Are you sure about this? It's a very long history lesson, one that your Schola teachers have probably covered in depth.

Very well, take a seat. The Mechanicus technicians will make you comfortable.

The straps are for your own safety. Shall I start at the beginning?


Eleven thousand years ago, my adopted sons marched into the depths of hell side by side with the strongest warriors of a dying race, and struck a blow at the heart of the Great Enemy. In a display of psychic might equal to mine, my father held the portal open long enough for a god to be broken free of her cage, setting the foundation for the Last Alliance, the agreement between Man and Eldar that would uplift both our species out of the chaos of the Age Of Strife.

Centuries later, the same man, old and tired, said he was proud of me, lying in a simple white bed, connected to a panoply of medical equipment that whirred and beeped rhythmically.

He told me that I and my eighteen generals had wrenched humanity free from the horrors of the Old Night, and that they would need me to be its leader. As the spikes on a green line grew erratic, I said that no mere relic of a lost Golden Age should be the master of its creators. To think, that I would waste the last of my time with my father on an argument, of all things.

Despite that blunder, Malcador forgave me with a serene smile. For that, and so much more, I will be forever grateful to a man who found a stasis chamber in a run-down laboratory on Cthonia, and spared the life it held inside.


Then the War Of The Beast happened, leaving a trail of shattered worlds in its wake and an uncertain future on the horizon. The Imperium nearly died then, as we were pushed back further and further by unending waves of savage Orks goaded into battle by the unrepentant instigators of the Fall. In Terra's ruins, only the death of an angel and the sacrifices of heroes beyond counting was enough to allow Farseer Eldrad and I to kill the monstrous Beast at the hordes' head.

A hundred centuries have passed since, and the world has changed. The stubborn Tau suffered through multiple schisms and two thousand years out in the cold, but they now fight for the Imperium. In the Age Of Apostasy, the Demiurge helped the brave Inquisitor Sebastian Thor and myself end the rule of Goge Vandire, earning their acceptance through blood and adamantium. They are not the only ones, for among the stars are many more who have joined the Last Alliance and aid the Imperium's war efforts.

But all my eighteen Primarchs, chosen from the finest and bravest of Terra's stock, lie dead, whether by war or because of the march of time. There have been no replacements for their seats, which remain empty not only out of deference to each of their lives, but because none have been found worthy of taking up their titles.

Enemies both new and ancient have opened new fronts all across the Imperium's vast Segmenta, all thirsting for our blood. Some are clad in liquid metal, others in sculpted chitin and claws, and some are manipulators cloaked in shadows. Others are false idols which will not die, praised by legions of fanatics who seek to bring the taint of Chaos into our besieged empire. There is no mercy to be found here.

In some great irony, I, a Man Of Gold, a human simulacrum, have ended up in the Golden Throne of an empire, bonded with Isha, one of the last survivors of a pantheon of true gods. Some say that Eldrad chose an arranged marriage as repayment of his favor a way to prevent humanity from going back on its promises to the Eldar, but I suspect he really just found the idea funny.

One thing has not changed, however. The War For Heaven, the war that began so long ago, goes on, the tune of its siren call tugging the strings of every sentient being of this galaxy. Everyone heeds its call eventually.


While the morning sun shined upon Perturabo's shining Terran hive cities, a veteran of the War stepped out onto a field of mud and rain, armed with a lasgun and the blind faith of his platoon of Guardsmen. He flinched as he scanned their youthful profiles, constantly reminded of brothers and sisters who wouldn't stay in the past. The night terrors of his sleep no longer had the decency to stay out of his waking world, and he grew more and more tired as one excited private explained how he had signed up for his wife and kids back home. Few soldiers ever returned to their homeworlds after joining up, at least, not alive.

Today, when the sun sets on the Imperial Palace today, an Ordo Securitas Inquisitor may watch his acolytes celebrate the resolution of a sector-wide fraud case that drained millions of gelt from Imperial accounts. Before tomorrow's dawn, he may lie face-down at his desk, poisoned by a bottle of wine. For the Inquisitor's white-haired Sororitas bodyguard, summary execution of the childhood friend who brought it will be enough to soothe her anger. Afterwards, she will learn that it was the unwitting crime of a clueless man.

Our libraries and datastacks are filled with tales of tragedy and joy, of valor and cowardice, of liberating adventure and crushing defeat. Yet the galaxy grinds on, dragged onwards by its own inertia, careless of ghosts haunting the living or the deaths of Inquisitors and childhood friends. It takes no favors, listens to no pleas, and defies classification by human logic. With all its beauty and mystery, the galaxy has been the birthplace of our loftiest dreams and our most terrifying nightmares.

In the end, all it has to offer us is War. And who are we to deny its gift?


I do not put my faith in gods, despite the fact that one sits next to me right now. That belongs to those who call me Emperor, who struggle to maintain their shard of normality in an unforgiving universe. They fight as men and women who have everything to lose, never to receive anything better than the galaxy's gift. If we stop now, if we loosen our grip even the slightest, everything that they have lived and died for will be in vain. My faith, and by extension their faith, belongs to a promise built on hope.

One day, the War will end, and the Imperium will be witness to a new dawn, where our children are free to live and smile, to grow old in peace, no matter the price.

Have I answered the question to your satisfaction, psyker?

Good. Isha, if you would be so kind as to dull his senses to pain, thank you.

Let the soul-binding begin. Initiate proced-

Unnamed Emperor's Scythes Story[edit]

The shrouded, other-worldly tint of the Immaterium peeled away as the first ships of the 219th Expeditionary Fleet exited the hell realm. The various attendant ships quickly repositioned to their surrounding places as the few larger ships ponderously oriented themselves in the new system. Destroyers began languid corkscrews around their command vessels while the smaller frigates ballooned outward to form picket lines. Void measurements, order requests, sensor scans, and myriads of other data all flowed into the command deck of the ‘’Basilica Emergent’’, the head of the 219th. Easily the largest of the fleet, the ‘’Basilica’’ was a battleship unlike any other. The pearl-white, marble gilding gifted to her after the rescue of an Eldar world long ago set her apart from the two other large tonnage vessels of the fleet, the smaller battleship ‘’Tantamount and the battlecruiser Dirge of the Warlord. Now organized, the 219th moved in system towards what the frigates had just started pinging at the extreme edge of their sensors: Tyranids. It was not unexpected that the locusts were here for Myriandros’ precious resources. In fact, it was the very reason that the 219th had an extra two ships amongst the fleet. The Scythes of the Emperor had been returning to their own fleet when Myriandros found itself in the way of a tendril from Leviathan. And so ‘’Chitinbane’’ and her sister battleship, ‘’Unyielding Protest’’, despite losses and weariness from previous campaigns, answered the call along with the 219th.

The locust fleet split into halves around the gas giant, Myriandros Quartus. A small contingent of bio-craft entered orbit to engulf the gas harvesting void stations about the planet. The rest trudged onward towards the human fleet and the populated world of Myriandros Secundus. Myriandros Secundus was in the latter half of its orbit being around 10 o'clock. The first planet in the system was located at 1 o'clock about the center star while Myriandros Quartus was as at 5 o'clock. The third planet had broken up into a moon sized rock after a moon from Quartus was eventually flung off and pulled towards the system center. The collision created an asteroid ring. The ball consider Myriandros Tertium was at 7 o'clock amongst its debris. The 219th Fleet was approaching from the system north in a prime position to defend Secundus and receive the extra-galactic invaders. Admiral Dega aboard the ‘’Basilica Emergent’’ voxed his orders to the fleet. The bulk of the 219th along with the ‘’Chitinbane’’ moved in support of Myriandros Secundus and her people preparing to deal with the now east half of the Tyranid fleet. A pair of destroyers and a triplet of frigates broke off to follow the Unyielding Protest on a long burn on the inside of the system's eminent debris ring. The six vessels orders were to corkscrew around the field and catch a gravity-aided sling about the moon, M. Tertium, and slam into the westward fleet. Dega intended for the smaller contingent to punch through the formation and then flank the eastward sub-fleet. A practical and tactical strategy on the void maps but in the cold, uncaring black, best laid plans are put to the test.

The opti-sensors of the Unyielding noted multiple ichorous puffs on both hive ship. Minutes later, scans identified tentacled-boarding bio-ships. Cogitators spit out flight paths and projected intercepts upon pict-screens. Several flights of the living craft were headed towards the Unyielding. From a dais in the middle of the command deck, the Captain Lyras bellowed with a voice untainted by bionics, “Listen up boys! All hands to stations, we got a fight comin’ our way! Huh-ha-ha! These vile bugs think to board us and eat us from the inside! I'll be Emperor damned if our magnificent vessel will see their likes in our decks! Plus, our esteemed Astartes Captain Phiras and his men are far too tired to fight right now! Poor guys are all tuckered out! Ah-hah-hah-ha! Now spool up those flak turrets, ready our first salvo of macrocannon rounds and remember 'don't drop the ordinance'! Ah-ha-haha! For the Emperor!” The vox caster across the decks went quiet, drowned by the cacophony of of an Imperial voidship mustering for combat. At the utterance of 'all hands’ the men and women jumped to their stations already in the process of preparing even whilst Captain Lyras continued his boisterous cast. Mechanics greased autoloaders even as they fed rounds. Magos and engiseers monitored the banks of plasma reactors as they dipped and spiked at the whims of the charging lance batteries and flaring drives. Auger arrays and cogitators began to relay firing vectors and predicted flight paths of the invading craft, updating as different permutations were analyzed. Amidst the din, Captain Phiras perked an ear towards the vox caster nestled in the corner of his armory. Even amidst the din of clanking ceramite, bolter slides being racked and battle orders being administered, the men of the 5th Company heard their captain respond to no one in particular. “The mad man thinks we're tired? Heh!”

Flesh, vitae and bony armor exploded out of the living boarding craft. The bubble surrounding the Unyielding and her retinue was criss-crossed with flashing dash lines of flak rounds and the cottony contrails of small anti-craft missiles. The bio ships loosed compressed digestive gasses to jink and dodge while augers and cogitators corrected their life taking ordinances. The calculated mechanical precision of the human ships was still being swamped by the sheer number of locust vessels. Some were getting through. One of the destroyers had already been impacted on the top decks; the rasping, diamond hard teeth, enzymes and acids of the craft ate through the meters of adamantite to deliver its deadly payload. An escort bio-ship had found a blindspot in one of the frigates flak screens and careened headlong into the side. The bloated ship burst smearing the vessel in acids and viruses that dissolved through the decks at a frightening rate. Entire bulkheads vented, spattering the viscous juices across the inside of the void shields until they shorted. Boarding vessels dove toward the stricken ship like vultures. A many-limbed bio ship, roughly the size of a frigate, had rushed inside the Imperial formation, impervious to the smaller ordinance. It raked talon-tipped appendages across the vessels ripping up thick plating and flailed limber, coiling tendrils that tried to crush and tear away anything they could grasp.

The Unyielding Protest was faring much better. Her defense networks were nigh-impenetrable. Void creatures that strayed too close were subject to overlapping screens of flak. Missiles tracked and obliterated whatever was beyond the range of the autoguns. Entire flights of troopships and escorts were vaporized as lance batteries fired actinic beams through them at the hive ship and her escorts. Likewise, living craft smeared and then vaporized as macrocannon rounds barreled through their formations towards larger targets. However, Unyielding and her companions were taking just as much punishment. Hundred meter long chitin spines shattered against the void shields. Globs of corrosive bile crashed over the ablative fields eroding them as the tides of a beach might. Sections of Unyielding's void shields were failing. Troop laden craft swarmed towards the holes that had appeared in the overlapping fields. Lyras’ thrust was being blunted.

Warning voxes blared. Dingy, soot-covered yellow strobes illuminated the metal bulkheads. The gun decks of port battery three were filled with a coagulating fog of acrid smoke, corrosive vapors and venting mists. Whorls formed as bolter rounds rocketed towards fleshy gaunts. Linear wisps formed as talons sliced towards servitors, naval conscripts and Astartes alike. The drilling maw of the living dropship had punctured two floors up from the deck. Captain Phiras and his squad were fighting a daunting vertical battle. The locusts would scramble up from underneath catwalks whilst some would jump and leap from above. Others skittered down stairs and through open bulkworks. At any time Phiras and his men were surrounded. The gunnery crew was still drilling even in the toxic miasma and xenos intrusion. Their belief in their captain and the trust in the Scythes gave them courage even in the face of the tide of locusts. The huge macrocannon fired. Backblast and sonic concussion parted the fog. The force nudged Phiras back before the magnetics in his boots activated. Conscripts stumbled but regained their footing instantly; they were used to it. The captain could see gaunts bent over like blades of grass in a wind as their clasping legs fought for purchase. Some were blown wholesale over catwalks and into bulkheads. An unlucky dozen or so locust were crawling on supports and bearings as the autoloading gimbal rocked backwards. The machinery masticated the yielding flesh and chitin of the invaders. Ichors and biles began to ineffectively eat into the metal. Across the deck, the wet corpse of a gaunt sagged onto an autoloader for one of the many flak guns. The overseer stared at the body he had shot several times. The autopistol shook in his nervous grip. Unlike the macro gun, the enzymes and caustic blood quickly dissolved the much smaller structure of the autoloader. It furiously self-destructed. Large caliber flak round detonated in the feed racks killing the overseer, the gun mechanism, it cogitator banks and anything else unlucky enough to be near it. A stray round pinged off of Phiras’ pauldron.

Phiras looked up; he had one more level to reach. Above was the second floor of the gun deck where the troopship had punched through. The locusts were still trickling out of the slimy, toothy orifice. He heard a clang behind him as a pair of gaunts landed on the catwalk. He wheeled and his bolter barked. A quintet of mass-reactive shells obliterated the intruders. Phiras turned back towards the staircase and sauntered on. The locusts swarmed the captain as soon as he reached the landing at the top of the stairs. Phiras whirled into a flurry of measured sword strikes and bolt shells. He pumped round after round into the gaunts that rose from below the catwalk and clambered up the stairs behind him. His sword separated snarling heads and swiping talons even as he ducked and blocked them. His bolter had clicked empty so he resorted to crushing one of the last beasts beneath his heel while swing his gun around to crumple the skull of another offender. He finished it with a bifurcating swipe through its thorax. Another miniature battle was over. The evaporating ichors fizzed into mist off the floor and his armor. His chest piece had a rent in the left side and his pauldrons were covered in a myriad of scratches. An errant boring beetle had gnawed and melted a hole into his right shin guard. “Damn. They managed a couple hits,” thought Phiras.

The macrocannon fired again. Down to the other end of the suspended floor Phiras finally saw a pair of his squad round the landing. “You boys are slow,” he smiled inwardly. The creatures scuttling towards them met grisly fates at the fiery maw of a storm bolter, smoking bolt pistol rounds and gnashing chainsword teeth. The three Astartes joined up at the quivering mouth of the troopship. Phiras yelled out over the din of battle, “Burn the infestation out men! Get your meltas out!” Grenades were tossed into the gullet. The sizzling meat and tortured screeches of the dying ship were ignored. “Set that patch up Ordin,” Phiras ordered, “Graid, finish off the remaining creatures in this deck.’ The marine placed a mesh field over the hole as inertia pulled the bio ship out of the cavity. The shimmering field would hold the void out until an adept could patch the damage. The other marine jogged off to confront the few gaunts scattered about the gun deck. Meanwhile, Phiras voxed the various other squads he'd sent to other puncture sites. Some reported they were still in the process of repelling the borders. Others had successfully eliminated the locusts and were moving amidship to new breaches. The macrocannon fired. Suddenly entirety of the Unyielding lurched throwing the marines and conscripts to the floor. Immediately Phiras’ comms pinged with a priority hail from Captain Lyras, “Phiras! We got a problem!”

Unnamed Writing 1[edit]

"So it's been two years."
"Since...?"
"Since. Y'know," Calper leaned in conspiratorially to whisper, "SHE joined up."
"Wh-" Kred was for a moment bewildered before she remembered who she was talking to and sighed, "Right. The farseer."

Kred was not in the right state of mind to talk about their strange alien auxiliary. For the past week she'd been going through the same drill with the rest of her company of weapons specialists of digging in and setting up her lascannon, and then unpacking it and getting it ready to move again. The goal was to get the entire process down to three minutes. And they had. On a planet that wasn't a frozen ice ball like this one. She was numb, and sore, and tired, and thrice cursed Calper was still fresh as a daisy, probably because he was leaving the digging up frozen ground to her and invariably took his sweet time fiddling with the lascannon so she'd have to do the hard work.

"She going to help me dig this ice up?" Kred growled. If Calper understood the sentiment he didn't mention it. He was looking off in the distance, over the rest of the company swinging shovels and cursing the icy ground.
"There, see? She's talking with Lieutenant Feldham."
"And?"
"Annnndddd," Calper was straining over the lascannon, before a distant bark of the Commissar reminded him to focus on his work, "You think, y'know..."

Kred stopped, looked at Calper. He was raising his eyebrows suggestively.
"What?"
"Y'know," Calper started a strange bobbing motion with his raising eyebrows, "The farseer. And the dashing captain of the kasrkin?"
"He's a lieutenant."
"Lieutenant. You think she's into that?"
"What? What," Kred blinked, snuck a peek over the gun. Frowned, shook her head, went back to work with her spade, "Nope. Not at all."
"What? What do you mean?" Calper looked back, then back down and hissed, "She's holding on to him by the elbow!"

"TIME!" Commissar Gebbet bellowed across the field. Kred looked down, sighed. No, it wasn't very good, but it would have to do. She set the lascannon over the mound, and crouched herself in the behind it, as Calper mirrored her, attending to the capacitor and charge packs. Gebbett would have a field day with this- please, please, please just let him walk past...
"Seriously, I bet you she's getting the monkey D tonight."
Kred rolled her eyes.
"First of all, it's pronounced 'mon-keigh', secondly, there's no way she and Feldham are an item."
"What? Who made you an expert on human-eldar relations? Seriously, she's eye fucking him on the field right now!"
"A year's stint with Ulthwé Black Guardians. First thing's first, do you see what Feldham is holding in his left hand?"

A bit of silence, as Calper leaned over, then said dejectedly, "A crutch."
"Yeah. Training accident. And he's got that bionic eye on the fritz. So, no, it's not eye fucking that you're seeing, it's her lending a hand to a wounded comrade, and some concern."

Somewhere behind them, Elid's crew was getting chewed out. Commissar Gebbett would take his time. And in that pause, someone desperate to distract herself from her own inevitable chewing out, Trooper Kred made a mistake that she would soon regret.

"Besides. I'm sure she's not into guys like that."

"What? Feldham's a badass. Sure, he's got the eye thing, but chicks dig scars."
"Not all of us. Nah, nah. The Farseer would go for..." She hesitated, glanced behind her. Yep. Anton was still tearing into poor Elid.
"-Like what?"
"Somebody a bit more...intellectual."
"You saying Feldham's dumb?"
"No- well. Okay, keep it between us, but there's a reason he's spending training hobbling around on a god damn crutch, and I hear it has to do with some unauthorized demolition training, a glacier, a set of melta charges and some watches that he never bothered to sync. Besides," She looked over, shook her head as Farseer Taldeer gave a final salute, and then turned away from the Kasrkin, "Waaay too short."
"Fuck Kred, that's cold. He's taller than me."
"She's a giant, she can't help it," Anton Gebbett's rage subsided behind them, so the last was a whisper from her, "So shut up, and look like you're a real soldier."

Commissar Anton Gebbett strode up the line- though Elid's men had suffered the full burst, he still had plenty in reserve to shoot in passing as he strode the line. As Anton Gebbett walked by Calper and Kred, Kred inwardly cringed, doing her best to stare down the lascannon barrel.
"Despicable. Lazy. Shoddy. Pathetic," the Commissar grumbled, marching through the lines, locking eyes with each soldier as he passed. Making it clear that this wasn't directed to the air aimlessly, but in due consideration of each soldier's faults. Brennan's team, aimless. Gherehg's team, the work of children. Ysmir's team, useless. Kred's team...

Commissar Anton Gebbett halted in front of the pair of them and their makeshift fire pit, and glared down at them. He scowled. Looking them up and down. For a moment, Kred thought she might have lucked out, that he was looking for something minor- then she noticed the inhaling. No, no. He was tallying up everything wrong. Preparing. She winced, squeezed her eyes shut-

"Commissar Gebbett, a word please?"

Relief. Farseer Taldeer was at the other end of the parade ground, hands in the pockets of her Cadian officer's coat over her xeno mesh armor stained with snow and mud, a green beret denoting her auxiliary status on her head, long hair cascading down- Hell. She was dolled up. What for?

Gebbett paused, gave a finally acidic glare, then shouted, "At ease!" Murmurs of relief, before he shouted again, "But you and you!" The Commissar's hand stabbed at Kred and Elid's teams before they could relax too much, "You stay here. I'm not done with you idiots yet. The rest of you, pack all this back to the armory!" With a final grumble about the quality of Cadian soldiers these days, Commissar Gebbett spun on his heel and stalked back to the Farseer, grumbling all the while.

Kred slumped against the cold of her lascannon, hopes dashed. The rest of the teams laughed and trotted off, leaving the four of them behind in the field.

"What about him?"
"Shut up Calper," Murmured Kred.
"Who? Who we talking about?"
Elid had come forward in the meantime. Another chatterbox, but one that Kred knew so she could forgive him. Had Martz with him. Didn't know her. Tats suggested a hiver. One of the new recruits.
"Commissar Gebbett," Calper whispered, glancing back at the Commissar and the Farseer, talking animatedly as they made for the command post. Doubtless where there was warmth. There wasn't freezing mud about their ankles. Probably had warm food-
"Oh yeah, right prick isn't he?" Elid shook his head, "Don't like him. Last Commy was nice. Even before he got tore apart by the wossnames."
"Yeah, but," Calper leaned over, raised his eyebrows, "What do you think the FARSEER thinks?"
"Wot?"
"I'm saying-"
"Shut up, shut up, shut up Calper-"
"-Maybe the Farseer sees something in him? Y'know, a commanding man to lead her in the sheets?"
"What?" Elid leaned back disgusted, "Taldeer and Gebbett? Fuck off. That's disgusting!"
"Yeah, to you and me, but Eldar are aliens. Maybe they'd like him?"

Elid frowned, shook his head, "No. Nowhere in this universe would anybody think Gebbett is handsome. I was thinking Lieutenant Feldham."
"That's what I said!"
"He's too short!"
"And he's got that weird eye," Martz added, hand going to her own and peeling back the lids for emphasis to stare at the other three in mocking pantomime of Feldham's bionic, "Rich girl like that would turn her nose up quick at that. Probably use her brain to set his skin on fire right quick."
"She wouldn't do that."
"She would! Hear about it all the time, those eldar tarts and their fire starting, you look at 'em so much as sideways," Martz waved her hands, "Fwoosh! Burnt to a crisp. Sides," She shook her head, "Feldham's an idiot."
"Okay, let's lay off Feldham..." Kred felt a little bad now for what she said earlier. Feldham wasn't THAT bad, and making fun of a kasrkin was probably a really unhealthy habit to have.
"And a bit true. Nah, rich girl like that," Martz tapped her chin thinking, "She'd go for someone with a bit more class. I'm thinking Ordnance Master Hymnal."
"Hymnal? She's classy?" The others started laughing as Martz glared between the three.
"Yeah! Yeah she is! She's always in her best duds, always got that fancy baton and all, she's plenty classy!"
"Clearly you haven't seen her three amasecs deep yet."
"God," Calper winced, "And what she did with that colander, the lho pack, and the priest..."
"What? What'd she do?"
"How about Sturnn?" Elid rapidly changed the subject, looking over his shoulder. If a kasrkin was dangerous to mock, rememinscing on the master of regimental artillery in the open was suicidal.
"Sturnn? No way. He's ancient."

"So's she. And, he's brave, rugged, smart," Calper was counting out traits. Kred shook her head.
"No way. Wife and kids on Cadia."
"-And proven to be responsible," Calper finished, nodding, "Makes sense. She asked to serve in Sturnn's regiment special."
"You think she's a home wrecker?"
"Nah, it's true," Martz started nodding fervently, pointing, "No, I've heard about this. Eldar witches, see, they love that. It's like psychic stims for them, that heartbreak."
"And who says Sturnn agreed?" Elid took on a faraway gaze, "Forlorn, reciprocated love. Eldar love that!"

"You know what I think that Farseer Taldeer loves?"

They all froze at the voice.

They slowly turned back to see Farseer Taldeer standing above them, looking down with the frozen smile of the predator that's caught a lovely family of defenseless bunnies in a dead end.

"I think, what Farseer-Auxiliary Taldeer would LOVE, is hearing that you four broke the three minute record," She leaned in, tooth-like jaw plates still bared, "In the dark."
"But- but it's going to get below-"

She narrowed her eyes.
"If you'd like, I can start a fire."
Inside, Kred's heart withered. Goodbye sleep.

"Farseer Taldeer!" Gebbett jogged after the auxiliary, baffled at her attention directed at the weapons teams, "We were wondering where you'd gone, the dinner still isn't-"
"Nothing's wrong Gebbett," Farseer Taldeer turned away from the pair of teams frantically shoveling at the frozen ground, and strolled past them, aiming for her quarters, "Just thought I heard something. I was mistaken."

Gebbett frowned, looked back at the soldiers digging, snorted, "Finally found your spirit! Come on! Snowstorm is coming in, and you're working until you're up to snuff!"
Gebbett nodded, quite proud of himself. Yes, those years in commissar school had proven that fear had a wonderful effect of focusing the mind. He idly wondered for a moment which of his insults had landed home, then dismissed it. If he could do it once, he could do it again.

Unnamed Writing 2[edit]

Officio Tacitum archives have no record of subject "LIIVI" until after formal registry into Temple Vindicare, local site Carolus 5A. Sicarius investigation reveals earlier mention of a "Livvi" found during the Galbraith Campaign as a war orphan, and was subsequently drafted into the Cadian 412th under order of General Sturnn (See attached document, Cadian 412th draft order, signed by General Sturnn and approved by Lord General Castor), before disappearing from regimental records. Of note: this was the only draft order recorded that General Sturnn has ever invoked, and the drafted "Livvi" was recorded as being sixteen years old (the minimum draftable age without a state of emergency declaration from a planetary governor), while the "LIIVI" that the Officio Tacitum trained was estimated to be approximately ten years of age.

Background of the Galbraith Campaign was an attempt to uproot an insurgent assassin cult, headed controversially by (Still extant) Inquisitor Made. Ordo Sicarius records of this time include several criticisms of collateral damage, overzealous prosecution of war efforts, and an over reliance upon divination sourced intelligence. Despite this, Made was vindicated by proof positive evidence of old {SUPPRESSED BY ORDER OF IN JOACHIM, ORDO SICARIUS} and hard evidence corroborating such. Reports of whole sale massacre of juvenile combatants after capture provoked censure from the inquisition as a whole afterwards. Though tenuous, I request a formal investigation into ties between subject LIIVI and {SUPPRESSED}. {Ed. Note: Denied.}

Problems with socialization and authority marred an otherwise excellent pupil from LIIVI's time in the Officio Tacitum's tutelage. Psychological assessors ascribed it to his unusual childhood, available at {SUPPRESSED}. Details are scarce- Officio Tacitum archives are spotty at best.

By the age of nineteen LIIVI had an impressive roster of missions under his belt (I think. Every record is under three levels of encryption with two interchangeable ciphers applied on top of that, typical bloody assassin nonsense) and it was decided LIIVI was ready for dedicated field work. Curiously, LIIVI was not assigned to a typical forward operating post that assassins are usually held in to answer summons from inquisitors. He was assigned permanently to a regiment of the Imperial Guard. The Cadian 412th, currently known as the 1st Kronus Liberators. A year later of high value target removal and artillery spotting, LIIVI had his meeting with destiny when Farseer-Auxiliary Taldeer was assigned to the 412th.

Reports and interviews point to a formal relationship at the start. At this time, Taldeer was still engaged to Lithian Sylander as part of House Ulthran's politics (The fact that Sylander wasn't even born yet was no matter) so she remained aloof to all interest. Judging by interviews and journals, there was plenty of it. However, Farseer and Vindicare would prove to be an impressive combination. Mission after mission would lead to the pair working ably in concert to turn the tide of battle with a single well placed and well timed bullet.

But then there was the debacle at Lorn V and the death of Sturnn.

General Sturnn was much loved by the 412th, and Taldeer and LIIVI were no exceptions. Though the details of that day are still unclear, and investigations are still ongoing regarding this {Ref. "Pariah/Untouchable Necron Interest" "Lord of Kronus" "Sea Prophecies"} the death of General Sturnn at the base of the Titan is a matter of heated debate for the 412th. Taldeer, LIIVI, Sturnn, and Sturnn's bodyguard entered the monolith, and only Farseer Taldeer, LIIVI, Commissar Gebbet, Preacher Coates, and Sgt Falker emerged. General Sturnn had fallen in battle, and Farseer Taldeer became Colonel-Farseer Taldeer. Rumor holds that LIIVI had to save one of the two and, under orders from General Sturnn, chose to save Taldeer over her objections. Or, perhaps it was that Farseer Taldeer (Affected by the aura of the Pariahs at the Necron Lord's command) had earlier blundered in her predictions, and LIIVI mistrusted her at a critical moment, leading to the General's death. Or perhaps Colonel-Farseer Taldeer took her rank seriously, and sought to head off a scandal of cross rank fraternizing before it started.

Whatever the case, interviews point to a rift between the two opening up. Where before they worked together efficiently, they sought their objectives separately.

Farseer-Colonel Taldeer would go on to lead the 412th new, notable new victories on Skaldheim, Kronus, and the orbital rings of Barrack Vol. Initial skepticism for an Eldar Farseer running an Imperial Guard regiment was replaced with acceptance, then aclaim. For the Imperium at large, here was the proof that Eldar and Humanity were better together. It also helped that Taldeer renounced her citizenship with Ulthwe, and her family ties in a formal ceremony to prevent any appearances of a conflict of interest. At the same time (If less famously), LIIVI was proving himself an adept agent as well, in most instances supporting the 412th, but notably also in independent operations as called upon by the Ordo Securitas. A few notables are gunning down the feared Arch-Arsonist of Tarronis {Note: 'Gunning down' does not accurately describe the event, making it sound far too simple. The massive ork warboss required a full six magazines of exitus hellfire rifle rounds, and the full discharge of LIIVI's exitus pistol, and subsequently three blows with a chunk of concrete to the skull before the fiend perished), stealing the list of allegiant governors to the Children of the First Emperor's Conspiracy before they could coordinate a revolt, and being the first and thus far only one recorded to permanently kill a creature only known as Entity 218. Ordo Xenos as usual hoarding info. {INQ JOACHIM: Note to self, talk to Interrogator Garden about professionalism in reporting.}

Throughout the course of these operations, each encountered problems they couldn't handle alone. At first begrudgingly, then out of habit, they grew to rely on each other once more so they could survive what came. Commissar Gebbet at one point got involved, summoning the pair and announcing, coincidentally, that he had had to break up a cross rank relationship between two soldiers earlier that day, that it was clearly stipulated in the military code and regulations that an inferior and superior officer could not engage in any manner of romantic relationship of one another for fear of impacting their judgement in the heat of battle, and that he was very glad that the Colonel-Farseer would never stoop to any such thing like that.

A later report filed by Commissar Gebbet noted that his superior officer had 'emitted a string of profoundly foul utterances that disrespected his person, station, and heritage to such a degree that he was convinced for a moment that a particularly foul mouthed daemon of the warp possessed [Colonel-Farseer Taldeer] and he feared for his immortal soul for a moment" but that it had successfully convinced him that there was no relationship between the two.

As we know now, this was false.

At the same time as they were reigniting their duplicitous relationship {Inq Joachim: Professionalism, Interrogator.} they cultivated worrying friendships. LIIVI has been recorded meeting, and working with a team of assassins, even outside of the bounds of sanctioned Officio Tacitum operations. Though their identities still elude me (Damn the Officio Tacitum!), there is one eversor, a callidus, and a culexus. {Inq Joachim: Useless.} When Officio Tacitum agents fraternize outside of what is necessary for work, one should worry. Interestingly, LIIVI seemed to build a certain rapport with Ronahn, Taldeer's exodite ranger brother. This connection gave LIIVI (inconsistent) access to the webway, something very helpful for an agent.

Farseer Taldeer for her part focused on traditional politics, coming under the wing of Lord General Castor, and by extension, his ally Inquisitor Adrastia. Though still nominally a Colonel, Taldeer is becoming known on a galactic scale as a problem solver, and in demand at Imperial High Command. Accompanying that is a certain resentment. Despite generations of cooperation, some human officers still feel threatened and insulted that an Eldar commands humans. Presumably, after her recovery from the assassination attempt, and after her pregnancy has run its course, she and the 412th will be at the front lines once more, for good or ill.

The other connection is more interesting. Taldeer's unwillingness to associate with Ulthwe for fear of an appearance of conflicting loyalty does not extend to Cegorach's cult. The harlequins have taken an interest in Taldeer's fate, and often the Farseer disappears into the webway escorted by a troupe. Taldeer has offered no explanation of where she has gone, or what her arrangement with them may be, saying only that it is a very personal matter. Cegorach's ilk only answer in riddles not worth repeating. In any case, she is one of the rare few in the galaxy to reliably have harlequin support in battle. Reports indicate a growing closeness between the two again. At the Sanctuary Masquerade in celebration of the victory on Kronus, LIIVI was seen as part of Taldeer's honor guard. At the consecration of General Sturnn's memorial, the two were seen after the service in deep discussion. At Colonel-Farseer Taldeer's first thwarted assassination, LIIVI managed to evacuate her before harm came to her.

After every such occurrence, the two sought to hide their affair. Though we now know by necessity they would have had to be lovers after the Krasnitz Siege, I speculate that going by reports and overlapping leaves of absence, the must have reignited their relationship, their relationship started far earlier, perhaps just before the Sturnn memorial. Though the present court case in the commissariat argue that the both of them are outside of the traditional command structure of the Imperial Guard, and thus free of the rules against fraternization, the extreme secrecy undertaken to hide their relationship speaks to the reality- they knew it was wrong, and they sought to hide it. {Inq Joachim: Or they were just trying to have some privacy. Their relationship, and legality there of is a matter for the commissariat. Not the Inquisition. Next report, don't stray from the mission parameters again Interrogator, or you're going back to alphabetizing the whole of Tabula planetary archive.}

Which brings us to the modern day, and the unfortunate events of this past Terran month. The Sapiens Supremis attack, the hospitalization of Sreta Ulthran, and the reveal of the 'impossible' pregnancy of Colonel-Farseer Taldeer. The possibility of a natural born human-eldar hybrid is at once shocking and frightening. By my research, I do agree that the dates match up. The Farseer and the Assassin have had a relationship for long enough to match up the current state of gestation, and it has been an increasingly poorly kept secret.

In which case, we live in very interesting times indeed, on the eve of M42.

But the question is, how is this possible? They are far from the first in such a relationship. And for this, I have three theories.

First, divine intervention. The Harlequins took an interest in Farseer Taldeer for a reason. Cegorach or Isha are the most powerful extant that we know of. Isha would be most likely, seeing as she is a goddess of fertility. But the question then comes, why the Farseer, and not her chosen representative married to our Emperor? A trial run, perhaps. Humankind is famously skittish. To you and I, the notion of our great emperor having a divine heir would be a cause for celebration, but certain segments of the population might view this uncharitably as a seizure of power from an alien god, seeking to supplant their Emperor with a half god creature. The other possibility is far more unlikely, but it may be this is Cegorach's doing. Perhaps this is one of those famous pranks of his. For everyone's sake, we must hope this one of Cegorach's more benign pranks.

Second option points to the mysterious origins of LIIVI himself. Though I feel almost certain that the war orphan conscripted by General Sturnn is one and the same as the assassin we now know, I can not say that for certain. I have managed to attain a genetic sample of his at great expense (And great difficulty- Officio Tacitum enhancements) and it is currently being tested and matched against the general population, but as you know, the Imperium has many, many people. It could take decades to find similar genetics, and even then, it wouldn't give us much to work from. However, the Ordo Securitas still has Inquisitor Madek's files on the Galbraith Campaign. They are currently sealed. I request permission to unseal them, and find the truth. Perhaps it was some manner of renegade human-eldar hybridization program, or some adaptation of human to interbreed with eldar? {Inq Joachim: No. There is nothing of that sort in the files. And they remain sealed for a reason. Request denied.}

The horror! The HORROR!

The third option, I hesitate to even mention. There have been certain...Signs. Prophecies. My contacts in the Ordo Malleus and Ordo Xenos have offered me a great deal. Bleak fortunetelling from the Chaos Eldar describe something similar, an unholy union of our emperor and their queen. Weirdboyz across planets hoot and holler, speaking of a beast returned, waiting on the other side of the veil for a great rumble. And possibly, most frightfully, I've been told in confidence by a most reliable source of great prognosticating power of the Great Devourer, the tyranids, seeming to converge on Farseer Taldeer's position. Something seems to be attracting them. Already, what few psykers that have been allowed to see Farseer Taldeer (She is currently recuperating in Eldrad Ulthran's care- frustrating my every attempt to investigate) have described a great calm, and serenity surrounding Farseer Taldeer.

Is it not true that, without synapse creatures to control the tyranid hordes, they go wild and revert to bestial primalism? And yet, when reintroduced to one of those synapse creatures they obey, regiment, organize, and act as one? And, though my hand shakes at this, my very spirit quakes, I must tell you to look upon the attached- a vision of this creature, this horrific possibility that may even know gestate, drawn in weak and fearful hand by that soothsayer, of the vision of what might become this child. Look now! See what lurks close by? The awful familiarity of the scene? Maybe this isn't merely a human-eldar hybrid, but something far worse?

I beg you, Lord Inquisitor Joachim, to take this seriously. The fate of our whole galaxy may rest on this!

{Final Notes: Inquisitor Joachim.}

{Interrogator Garden. I was wrong. You're not going to be sorting the archives. You're fired for this ridiculous nonsense. Please wait for security to escort you out of the building.}

Unnamed Shadowsun Writing[edit]

She awoke as always to emptiness, always the same feeling. Loss and regret and creeping dread of all the things left behind knowingly and the things she had not realized each time. When she was young T'au had been a far different place, better it had been to her mind or at least more familiar. She had barely known her parents or siblings as with all Fire Warriors though what she did remember was love and warmth. Old comrades, lovers, friends and even the rivals all lost to the Time Thief.

In the moments before the deep sleep, when the steel sheath came down over glass but the drugs hadn't put her out like a candle there was a moment of darkness. Candle flame is brightest in pure darkness without stars. In those moments before the sleep as all distractions ceased the light, the impossible light shone brightest. The light beyond space and stars and the inferno of war. In the stillness of a beatless heart, still lungs and almost total biological shut down, in the quiet and weightlessness of a sleep impossibly deeper than mere death her lidless eyes were naked before eternal warming flame.

It was in that fire that her ashes were reborn upon awakening, time stolen from death, life beyond the Thief of Time. Usefulness once more in sacrifice to The Greater Good. More days stored away like winter grain offered in sacrifice to the heathen gods of ancient days, life, her life offered in stolen days for the lives of her people.

She had only seen the light of that candle flame in one other place. Reflected in the eyes of another living relic washed up on the shores of this strange era. In those eyes it was not candle flame flickering and dancing and gentle. In those eyes it was the constant glare. Two holes cut into a man's face right to the heart of a star, unceasing, incomprehensible intensity. It ultimately brought life but it was not gentle, it was inferno and holocaust and it was eternal.

The Thief of Time had stolen her friends and lovers and rivals but it clawed seemingly in vain at the stony countenance of Aun’o’T’au’Acaya’Va’Denta. Aun'Va, he of granite and basalt. Timeless as a mountain and about as stubborn. She knew that he lied, he was the old man she had spoken to in her youth, he who had commanded her into battle in another era. He told others that there had been a line of Va, a lineage of the name unbroken since the days of Aun'Da. But she knew that for the centuries that she had seen and knew of him he had always been himself. The same old man in whom the Greater Good burned like star fire.

How far back did he go? Was he the First Disciple of scripture? That would be impossible she knew, unthinkable and unreasonable, but these were unreasonable times that had seen things unthinkable and horrifying. He had lived impossibly long, how far did impossibility go?

And he knew that she knew. How many other knew of his unnatural longevity? How many had he lied to? Did it matter? Deception was one more weapon of war. Used when needed and put aside in times of peace.

Much like herself.

Her heart beat again in the darkness. The flame receded. Blood began to flow through her veins, sluggish at first, her heart a timid and flickering thing now in this time of rebirth.

Now was the moment of true darkness. The steel sheath still enclosing, protecting her as she awoke. The device she lay in was a relic of her era, familiar and comforting. One day she knew she would not wake up from it and it would be a deathbed. She was fine with that, her ashes would return to her people, distant now as they were.

Another beat of the heart. Stronger now. Blood forced to move. Sensation returned to her extremities, burning as the capillaries adjusted oxygen binding to cobalt as the decades old oxy-gel in her lungs was finally put to some use.

Another beat, she risked the opening of her eyes, blood red and bright, a sliver.

Light. Blinding, clean and white. She wanted to close them again but, that was cowardice and she knew it. Nothing born without some pain was worth keeping and she forced her eyes to open wider, to take in the light.

She could hear muffled sounds, mechanical sounds of antiquated medical equipment and the more hushed, gentle and deeper sounds of Earth Caste technician voices. With the speed of a glacier she moved one aching arm forwards and rapped gently on her glass enclosure as the blinding light resolved itself into people shapes. They jumped to her amusement she saw as she turned her head slowly to the side trying to ignore the light sensation as the anesthetics that had sat long dormant in her body finally found something to do.

The seals on the glass broke with a half hiss, half crack of still machinery coming away from rest, the fluids she had been suspended in drained away and left her resting on an old and faded polymer web mat. She swung her legs to the side and say upright, she felt weak, hideously weak, she always did. She could not afford to show it. She was a legend, a living legend. Unlike Aun'Va she had no problem with the public knowledge that she was a historic relic, it was good. She was a strong helping hand from the days of legend reaching forwards through time. Clarity was returning to her eyes now, some small measure of strength flowing back into her limbs. The figure before her was resolving itself into the robed figure that always greeted her when she awoke. She should feel honoured, she did not especially. He was another old legend like herself.

Grabbing a bucket from an Earth Cast orderly she emptied the oxy-gel from her lungs with as much dignity as could be mustered and took deep of the air of another century she should never have known.

"I have awoken and there is a war". She knew that this day would be recorded. It was always recorded. She had to play her part at all times. "I serve The Greater Good in all things."

There is always a war when we call upon you to serve." Replied the gaunt old figure standing before her. They had both played these parts many times down the eons, always it would go like this. It offered a chilly sort of comfort.

Shadowsun did not remember anymore how many times she had awoken. How many times she had lived and died and lived again. How many wars there had been. How much the Thief of Time had taken from her.

There would be a war. New combatants, new soldiers, new weapons, new horrors aplenty and that was for damn sure and always new faces and names and allies and friends as the Greater Good, the philosophy of unity and purpose was adopted across the stars under new names knowingly or unknowingly. It was the triumph and universally recognized truth of civility over barbarity realized time and again across the stars adopted by those that would survive and would survive and prosper because of it. She would sacrifice all she was or would ever be for it and do so gladly for such a truth, one death at a time. One day sacrificed at a time.

Unnamed Fallen (Chaos Space Marine) Writing[edit]

"What have you done to the Imperium? This is not how I remember it. So many fresh faces and everything changed. I knew Eldar troops cooperated with Guardsmen but not to such an extent. Is the integration truly finished? Oh how times differ, kind of hard to track when fighting on a daemon world with 20 times slower speed. You know, I didn't get to participate in the last Black Crusade. The Warp does all sorts of peculiar things to time, space, and minds. Back when Luther ordered us to fire on Lion's retinue, I was questioning the order in my mind whilst pulling the trigger. Now isn't that funny? Little more than two years ago I think, we started that war against the loyalist Dark Angels. How I missed my legion, are any of those marines from that battle alive by any chance? I would love to talk to them. Well that was one of my reasons for surrendering, that and having my arms sliced off. Never convinced by the Fallen Dark Angels xenophobia, I almost managed to even get out a warning to Lion. Lucky bastards caught my messenger! The Imperium seem to have really improved after the War of The Beast, things may be looking up for humanity. Come on, at least tell me if the veterans from that battle will see me."

"No, the veterans of Lion's Last Battle refused to see you."

"All of them?"

"There are only a handful of living veterans from that battle, so yes."

"Did my legion get decimated or the like?"

"Just the fact that battle took place over 2,000 years ago have killed many veterans."

"What? That can't be true, it felt like only a few years since I first entered the Eye of Terror. I didn't want any of this to happen. What do you mean Lion's Last Battle, I know we never killed him."

"Lion El'Jonson was sent into a coma by Luther in that battle, one Lion never woke up from."

"I-I see. Yet the rest of the legion is intact after that battle right? They haven't splintered like us?"

P74 from "Tales of the Third Black Crusade" by Quinta Tarcanus

The Month of Murphy[edit]

The Month of Murphy: The Imperium has, from ancient files, learned of Murphy's Law (Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and usually at the worst possible time). For a while it was considered either a weapon of Chaos or Cegorach fucking around, until Cegorach himself chimed in. He provided the most concrete knowledge the Imperium has: He is not Murphy, he is pretty sure Murphy does not exist, and Murphy's Law is more like a law of the universe that applies even to the Chaos gods in the Warp.

This lead to Oscar making a very bad decision. It happened while he was on The Emperor's Tour, when he came across a situation that would benefit from his attention: Chaos cults had gripped 45 worlds in a defense-poor sub-sector. He joked that he would trade Murphy a month of minor inconveniences for a quick victory. He got the victory, dealing with all 45 worlds in less than three months using only one chapter of the Astartes, two Regiments of the Imperial Army, and a single battlecruiser as the cultists dealt with one catastrophe after another. Then he discovered that Murphy's Law does not know what the word "Minor" means.

In the span of one month, the following happened:

  • 365 mugs full of hot recaf spilled over his clothes and destroyed
  • A robe woven for him with metallic fibers blowing the powergrid of an Administratum Sector HQ during a critical database transfer
  • A 50,000% increase in the number of jaywalking incidents on the planet he was visiting
  • A misfire during an aeronautical display in his honor burning down their hardcopy backups
  • 25 Inquisitors dying under the very strange circumstance of "spontaneous appearances of pools filled with leaping sharks" while investigating scheming nobles
  • A previously undetected Chaos Cultist getting Jubblowski pregnant with twins(see file COBRA SILVER SEAGULL (Tundra Cleric 12d))
  • And his favorite lampshade being possessed by something very strange just so it could constantly yell at him about why his joke was a very bad decision and insulting him over his fashion sense. Removal of the lampshade just lead to random lampshades around him doing the exact same thing until the month ended.

The entire thing seems hilarious until you renumber that the casualties from that month totaled over 400 billion - 6 times the enemy forces he faced. To this day, every officer and Inquisitor is taught one very basic lesson: DON'T FUCKING TAUNT MURPHY.

The Adventures of Legi and Draco[edit]

Chase[edit]

The stripped down land speeder whipped around another hairpin bend in the webway depths, Hell and damnation in the form a of what once might have been eldar not too far behind them. The walls were curved her and sticky enough with something not unlike gravity that rather than being dashed against the side they merely continued their mad dash along what she had until a moment ago been considering a ceiling. Today was going to be another “explanations” day if they made it back and that was for damn sure and the only thing that would buy them leniency was the semi-crystalline Necroteuch stolen from a curious temple dedicated to both Tzneetch and Slaanesh. That there were still copies of the foul tome in circulation and new cooperation between the gods were both equally disturbing.

But not immediately as disturbing as the driving skills of one Inquisitor Jaq Draco who was pushing the “pimp-speeder” as fast as it’s custom engine would go down extra dimensional tunnels that man was never meant to know of.

“You sure you know where we are going?” Legienstrausse asked through the comm.-bead she had embedded in her skull earlier that day. “Not as sure as I was fifteen minuets ago.” The mad inquisitor replied turning to face her with a manic grin showing far too many teeth. Without warning the Speeder spun around on it’s frictionless anti-grav sheath just as the chariot pulled by two Steeds of Slaanesh rounded the last corner and gaining on them. The damned creature in contraption, shimmering and beautiful and terrible locked its baleful dark eyes with the Inquisitor. Beguiling and inhumanly lovely and opening wider in shock as the Mad Dog Draco raised his ultra-violet laser pistol and winked.

The creature, fast as it was, couldn’t dodge the invisible spectrum light as it punched through it’s head right between the eyes and flash fried it’s diseased brain. The serpentine mounts startled and tried to bolt in opposite directions resulting in what could best be described as a fucked up mess as another half dozen or so pursuers collided with them. The carnage was obscured as the speeder violently lurched back into pointing in the direction of travel just in time to swerve around another tight corner and land on what had originally been the ground or at least a surface that seemed like one.

Legienstrausse could only lament the poorly judged decisions that had lead her to this point in her life. Once upon a time, a lifetime ago if truth be told, she had been waiting tables in an eating establishment in the Daisy Chain. It wasn’t a glamorous life but she had her own apartment, was making enough to live off of and a little more to send home to her mother and father in the Lagrange Point Sprawl. But that wasn’t enough for her and she had volunteered for drug trials. That had quite paid well, serious risks were minimal, as by the time they tested it on people most of the kinks had been ironed out. A few days of blinding headaches, an upset stomach, a bit of dizziness and on one embarrassing occasion lactation were a small price to pay she had thought. But she had gotten greedy and gotten in for more extreme trials for greater financial rewards. Eventually she had volunteered for something to seriously help the Imperium, to be a test subject to make a better type of super soldier. Of the ten thousand by luck she had been the only success. The fates of the failures ranged from unfortunate to sorrowful.

It wasn’t until the Inquisition kicked her door down that she knew anything actually illegal had been going on.

The speeder upended without warning and disappeared into a long shaft in the ceiling and the gravity reversed so that they were in fact falling. Faster than falling as the Necroteuch slipped out of her hands and flew “upwards” at mere freefall.

Her long clawed arms almost made longer in reflex action almost closed on it’s irregular dodecahedron form just as the sinewy hands of another being snatched it out of the air. They had closed on them, the forsaken and wretched. With a predatory grin the once-eldar lunged at her with murderous intent, it’s jaws closing deep into her shoulder as claws punched deep into her abdomen. Through the ringing of red hot and depthless pain she heard Draco swear as a pained sound half scream and half whimper escaped her lips, but no help would come from the Inquisitor as he fought off another creature with his knives and steering the speeder with his left foot.

The creature pushed her down into the upholstery of the back seat of the vehicle, a snakelike tongue licking it’s lips and extending to her bloodshot eyes as it leaned in close to drink deep of the scent of her agony. The pained noise without words continued to peel out of her mouth, tears running freely from her eyes. There was a brief moment of confusion for the kneeler before foul gods as it realized that the scent was all wrong and it’s hand was in fact stuck and being held tight in the wetness of her ruined gut. The croneworlder had enough time for a momentary expression of panic as the gut wound grew teeth and a jawbone and accompanying musculature and clamped down hard enough to meet in the middle, Legienstrausse’s face split neatly down the middle as she head butted the once-eldar and caught his head in her own and crushed in a shark like bite. It was over then but for the twitching as the body was pitched over the side, the Necroteuch retrieved from the corpse with a long boneless limb that she habitually would still have called an arm.

“What did that one taste like?” Asked the Mad Jaq against the gale as the body of his own assailant disappeared upwards into freefall, headless and presumably dead.

“Chicken and sex” Replied Legienstrausse as her skull crunched and knitted itself back into a human shape. Jaq flipped the craft ninety degrees to flat as the upside-down pit came to an abrupt end, bottoming out the vehicle that then sprang and lurched forwards along a much broader tunnel not long later two mangled corpses landed where they had been.

There were still shapes following them, more distant now, on what looked like long limbed spider-squids. They were wary, not one of them would want to make the first move but neither would they willing return to their foul land without their strange and terrible book.

Options presented themselves fleetingly in the manic mind of the mad inquisitor. They could lure them to Ganymede of Titan, but one was meant to be secret and the other would probably get them shot by grumpy space marines, they could lure them all the way to Saim-Hann or the Hubworlds but that would mean taking the straight and broad roads and the others were faster on the open, there was a Silver Skulls checkpoint somewhere around here but he couldn’t remember exactly where. All he knew was where he was and in the beating of his heart and the saruthi-smell where everything else was for a given value of “here” and “there”. Today was, he felt, another good day. A fun day and as the hordes of damnation followed his streaming checkerboard coat he couldn’t help but laugh.

Happy New Year[edit]

The drinks had been plentiful and that wasn’t the problem unless it was. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, a fun time. Music and drunken flailing charitably called dancing, the people from different sites and Vaults and even off-worlders and outsiders come to visit (after being extensively checked of course). The main hall of Admin-Site Prime had never been so alive. And away from the heart of it all sat Legienstrausse in her own little bubble of self-generating, alcohol fuelled, misery. Nobody had asked her to dance, nobody had commented on her pretty dress, barely anybody had even said hello to her.

She saw them, they though that she couldn’t see them but even with only two eyes she had extremely good peripheral vision. A new face, an outsider or someone new enough not to know what she was would approach her only to be carefully intercepted by one of her jailers who would whisper into their ear. Over the happy, happy music she couldn’t hear what it was exactly they were whispering. They would not be told the truth, not the whole truth.

The alcohol helped. It wasn’t making her happier but it was making the misery feel more distant. She was through nearly eight bottles of Rakia and the night was still young. After a fashion. Ganymede was tidally locked to Jupiter with an orbit of a hundred and seventy two hours and if she could remember that then it was time to start on another bottle. Which she did. Or at least intended to. A hand grasped her own firmly but not ungentle. She could have sworn that she saw no one approach, and she would have. But then he did have a knack for moving in unexpected directions.

The hairless done of his head gleamed like a twisted halo in the lights and his stupid clown coat, horizontal stripes on the inside, vertical on the outside and both in badly matching colours, hanging from his coat hanger and deckchairs body like the wings of a badly assembled angel. Was there genuine concern in those eyes? It was hard to tell. He was either a man who could hide and mimic emotions well or bounced around far more than a man should and still be capable of doing the job he did.

What was he? It irked her something fierce that all knew exactly what she was, knew enough certainly to be frightened at any rate, but nobody ever stopped to ask what the ever loving fuck he was. He ran the place, or at least the day to day running of part of it. Gods know he answered to people, strange shadowy people that she did not know of and probably never would, and whom she suspected probably didn’t know about each other. But who and what was he? He was insane, clearly he was insane and she had seen far too much to believe otherwise, but he held a job that required a level professionalism and competence well above what the teeming masses were typically capable of.

She looked up into those dark grey eyes and saw nothing reflected back. Not a lack of anything to reflect but a nothingness so complete that it fell away to some unseen terrible horizon and she didn’t know if those were his eyes or her eyes reflected in them.

“Legi, you shouldn’t do this to yourself.” He said concern etched in every line framing those fathomless eyes.

“I shouldn’t a lot of things, but here we are.” She replied up ending the bottle and managing to suck down half it’s contents before he more firmly pulled it away from her.

Slipping himself under half-heartedly resisting arm she carefully guided her out of the main hall, though not before she managed to split her other arm into four grasping tentacles and each grab more bottles from the table on the way out.

“What was all that about Legi?” His voice was not unkind, but when she felt less than kind she couldn’t believe that it was anything but an act. He didn’t give a damn, he wouldn’t be her jailer if he did. But maybe he did and that was more terrifying to her, maybe he did and she was pushing away the only person mad enough to care about her.

“Nobody wanted to dance” She slurred, the alcohol, several times terminal levels for a normal human, was finally starting to kick in. “Not one person, I put on my prettiest dress and not one person wanted to dance.” In truth she was technically naked, the dress was her own skin reshaped and pigmented into looking like what was in fashion in the Jovian Orbitals; Pale blue and light grey, hugging on the torso and sleeves but loose and flowing from the waist down. Broad belts with big buckles were in fashion again this year. The colours in the dress were starting to run together and blur as she lost concentration.

“I’ve seen you try to dance Legi, you may have dodged a bullet on this one”

“Fuck you old man, you can’t talk”

“Yes, dear, I absolutely can. I have danced with Harlequins and they take that shit seriously.” She was starting to stumble more now and although he wouldn’t mention it to her she was a lot heavier than she looked.

“I just wanted one dance. Would you dance with me?” She mumbled through half closed eyes “I could try and take it as seriously as you like”

“No” The Inquisitor replied as they staggered around down the corridors that became tunnels. Mad as he was the idea of trying to waltz with an inebriated organic weapon of mass destruction was not something even he, Mad Dog Draco, was crazy enough to attempt.

She would be sober in the mourning; thankfully her unique properties seemed to minimize hangovers. Hopefully she wouldn’t remember much of tonight. He though an invitation to a new years party would have made her feel batter. It was not one of his better ideas. Next year maybe they could curl up on a couch with some chocolates and watch a film or something. Or maybe he could try and find another method of escaping their jailers for another little adventure.

He would have to be careful, he knew, his sponsors and superiors were getting more adept at finding and shutting down his escape tunnels. If it carried on like this in a few hundred years they would have trapped him here with all the other dangerous curiosities.

A Little Trip Out[edit]

It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. Most of his ideas did somehow. Maybe it was the ability to talk fast, maybe it was the ever so wide and enthusiastic smile or maybe it was the way they were typically delivered in a hail of incoming fire when other alternatives were few and grim. But this time, this time was something special. Not good special either, oh no. This was a “has to be kept away from matches” type of special. The type of special that the Mechanicus usually scooped up to make use of the savant ability. Brilliant but utterly stupid.

The “Pimp Speeder” was doing speeds when translated to real-space locations that would be extreme violations of relativity known only to Necron Crypteks. The Navigator on the front passenger seat she could still smell and feel the body warmth of even as he screamed and she knew the Inquisitor himself was sitting in the seat next to him almost certainly one hand on the wheel, one had hanging over the side of the door and foot pressed to the floor.

As for herself, Legienstrasse was trying with some success to crawl into the upholstery of the back seat. She had already digested her own eyes as a precaution.

The Chaos loonies of Rhanda were doing putting forth their best efforts to flesh-forge a “perfect” body and at the moment the fossil light of The Opening of the Eye passed over their world install in it their patron; The Sapphire King. Such a being, if half the claims about the body were true, would be to deamon-hosts what Fenrisian Ale was to shandy. Astartes parts stolen from ritual sacrifices taken in battles wrapped around a cybernetic frame made of tortured Martian Priests, infused with the Oblitorator Virus and gods alone knew what else. And maybe even they didn’t know what else. Sadly the information was obtained in an alley behind a seedy drinking establishment in the warrens of Luna. There was no way that they could get from Luna to Rhanda in less than a few weeks let alone a matter of hours.

The grin Inquisitor Draco had at that moment was something that would haunt her already decidedly unhappy dreams. Driving a stripped down land-speeder into a testing warp engine with a commandeered and terrified navigator holding the dashboard hard enough to leave finger marks in the paint is not for the faint of hearted. Or the sensible.

Once more Legienstrasse debated the wisdom of getting out of bed today. She could hear the things that were following them. She could feel the unlight and the heat of a god being born as it assaulted her skin. As it assaulted her soul and made her feel dirty. They were surfing the birth of Slaanesh, the bow wave of damnation. She knew what was following them, second hand hunger of a god reaching forward to claim them in the memory of birth.

In theory they could surf the wave right to Rhanda and, with navigator sight and Jaq’s psyker talents, travel the disturbance the ritual was causing and materialize right at the epicentre. In theory. Nobody in ten thousand years of Imperial history had ever tried anything this stupid to her knowledge.

Jaq Draco, Inquisitor of the most glorious Imperium, was having an eventful day. It had started with some toast with banana slices, it had involved following a lead he’d taken from a dead mans pocket to a planned meeting in a delightfully colourful public meeting house which resulted in beating someone to death with a large spanner behind said establishment and now he was driving very fast to an uncertain destination in a place he should not be. It was all so damn splendid and spoiled only by the whimpering of Legienstrasse behind him who had assumed the form of an amorphous blob in an attempt to hid under the seat and the screaming of the young navigator next to him.

His only concern was the bitching he was going to have to endure when they dragged him back to Ganymede, he did feel kind of bad for lying to Legi about this being a sanctioned investigation. She did seem like she needed another trip out and maybe she’s thank him when she calmed down, maybe not.

Historical Battles[edit]

Meminihn's Folly[edit]

The great majority of the time, the Adeptus Biologis are a vast boon to the Imperium. From the mundane tasks of interstellar empire, like public health and agricultural output, to the creation of the Astartes and a dozen lesser types of augmented soldier, to great feats like devising poisons to cripple splinter fleets or making harsh worlds bloom.

That said, when they fuck up, they can really fuck up.

The agri- world of Patreunov was having a feral ork problem. Although they had managed to beat off the Waaagh, fully a third of the planet was overrun with the hyper-invasive fungus, and slowly spreading. Aside from the constant effort of culling the orks and squigs, every acre of land consumed by the fungus was unavailable for agriculture. The usual methods, of massive fungicide use or intense irradiation, would poison the land for decades and likely have additional knock- on effects. Still, other options were slim to none, and the world's governors were about to start the spraying programs when Magos Memnihn, of the Biologis, presented herself and offered an alternative.

The Magos had been working for over a century on an alternative, biological, method of culling ork spore fields. Not a disease- too close to Nurgle, and anyway the Waaagh-infused flesh of orkoids was unnaturally resilient- but a predator. Genetic sequences from dozens of deathworlds (and maybe just a little bit of tyranid here or there) across the galaxy combined into a single voracious killer. Individually small, but with a ferocious pack hunting instinct that would see even nobs swarmed under by hundreds. Explosively breeding, to the point that they were born with the next generation already gestating within their infant forms. Capable of consuming ork, grot, squig, and the fungal networks from which they sprang alike.

She assured the skeptical nobles that every precaution had been taken. The creatures had been engineered to consume only ork flesh, and found all other possible food sources so revolting they would ignore them even as they starved to death. Multiple genetic time bombs had been inserted into their sequences, to ensure that they could only reproduce for a limited number of generations before hereditary malformation overtook them. They were vulnerable to a number of toxins that humans were completely immune to, so if all else failed they could just be gassed en masse. And, of course, there had been a number of small- scale tests demonstrating that all of these precautions worked. This test was merely the last step before general deployment, and it would never have gotten this far if the concept was not sound.

Reassured, and enticed by the prospect of getting rid of the feral orks without having to re- terraform half his planet afterwards, the governor gave his assent. A few thousand vat-grown breeding pairs were released within the area infested by the orks. Within a few years there were millions, busy consuming their way through the creeping green fungoids. The orks, and the ecosystem supporting them, fought back. Of course. They were orks and thus could do no different. But they could only slow the spread of the hyper- specialized predators, not with the simple weapons still left available to them. And as the predators began to die off as programmed, assent was eagerly given for new and larger waves to be released. It looked as though the world would be cleared in mere decades, and without much in the way of lingering environmental damage.

But life... finds a way.

Across the accelerated generations, mutation set in. One by one, unnoticed, the genetic time bombs failed, and the faulty genes were spread to newly released waves by natural crossbreeding. The DNA sequences rendering all non- orkoid flesh revolting failed in a single specimen, and with new food sources opened up to it it outcompeted its rivals, spreading the failure far and wide.

By themselves, these would still have not been catastrophic. But then the unnatural vulnerability to those highly specific poisons was lost, and catastrophe became inevitable.

When the deviations were first detected, Magos Memnihn attempted a targeted culling program, trying to expunge the faulty genomes without having to destroy the rest of the organisms. However, the artificial creature's reproduction rate rendered such a course impossible; the traits simply diffused too fast across the population. Finally, the Magos unleashed her prepared stockpiles of tailored toxins, slaughtering millions of her creation. But not enough. The stockpiles were insufficient to saturate the entire range they had spread to, and tens of thousands survived even in areas that had been sprayed thoroughly, having never inherited the genes of vulnerability.

When the last holdouts of the feral orks were confirmed to be wiped out, there was no celebration. They were too busy trying to contain the things which killed them.

Every attempt to wipe out the manufactured beasts, or contain their spread, met with failure. They were slowed by fences, by poisons, by PDF kill sweeps, but not stopped. They simply spread too fast, recovered from losses too fast, to be so easily expunged. Worse, a creature designed to prey on orks naturally had no fear of doing the same to humans; thousands died, and increasingly large segments of the planet had to be abandoned.

Eventually, a desperate strategy of scorched earth had to be enacted. Vast swathes of land were burned and poisoned. Immense irrigation projects were destroyed to return land to desert. Natural geological barriers were rendered impassible.

With further expansion blocked by these created deserts for lack of food, the monsters soon turned on each other. Their rapid expansion and insatiable hunger had resulted in them eating everything down to the bedrock. There was nothing left to eat but each other, an obviously unsustainable state of affairs. A couple of years later, and the last of the monsters was gone.

The battle had been brutal and the effects long lasting. Tens of thousands had died, nearly half the planet had been scoured, and it would take centuries for the world's output to return to what it once was. Memnihn was stripped of her rank and honors, and devoted the remainder of her life to repairing the damage.

The long term effects of the disaster, besides the devastation of Patreunov, was to spur on the creation of the Ordo Mutatio. Previously overseeing the Biologis had been the responsibility of the Ordo Machina, since the Biologis was technically a subdivision of the Mechanicus. This incident, along with several others happening in roughly the same century, made it clear that this arrangement was badly flawed. Thus, the Mutatio was split off from the Machina, and soon grew into a truly independent organization.

The Defence of Sansaayam[edit]

The attack on the minor craftworld Sansaayam was, in typical Dark Eldar fashion, sudden and overwhelming, ripping out of the webway gate with incredible brutality and speed. However, the Dark Eldar, lead by Archon Karragast and his Kabal of the Razor Sky, had grown arrogant from centuries fighting foes slower than than they were, and were unprepared for the speed with which the Aspect Warriors leapt to the defense of their home. Fatally, they allowed themselves to be bogged down by the ferocious defence of Sansaayam long enough for reinforcements to arrive, cutting off their path back to Commorragh.

In response, the Dark Eldar fled deeper into the alleyways and back passages of the Webway, hoping to lose their pursuers. This began a series of cat-and-mouse chases through the corridors of the webway, as Eldar and Dark Eldar hunted each other down in tangled spaces unfamiliar to both of them. This lasted for days, until the Dark Eldar regrouped and tried to break out of the trap in a fast-moving spearhead.

And ran right into incoming Tau and Legio Cybernetica reinforcements. Possessing the psychic acumen of a potato battery and a half-brick in a sock, respectively, the Tau and Cybernetica could both move through the Webway without damaging it- and both specialized in laying down heavy firepower at range. In the cramped passages of the Webway that offered no room to maneuver or dodge, it was very nearly the worst tactical matchup possible for the speed-is-armor Dark Eldar.

Unfortunately, in that last stage of the battle- something broke. The general, reflexive presumption is that Archon Karragast triggered some warhead on a dead-man switch, but with so few surviving eyewitnesses nearly anything could be true.

The end result was that the webway broke and daemons spilled in. The Imperial force, ravaged and reeling, fled back to Sansaayam to make their stand as the Webway dissolved around them. For months, the mixed force slaughtered demons at the chokepoints of the Webway gates. The weapons of the dead were taken up by civilian volunteers, bonesingers turned the plazas into killzones and deathtraps, broken war-bots repaired with wraithbone substitutions once the supply of spare parts ran dry.

Incredibly, they held out until relieved, a company of Grey Knights arriving via conventional warp travel. Charging into the shattered webway, they somehow contrived to temporarily stem the flow of daemons, and followed up by severing the craftworlds' connection with the Webway in conjunction with Eldar warlocks. Sansaayam lost its connection to the Webway, and had suffered immensely... but the siege was over, and it had survived.

There were several long-term effects as a result of this battle. First, the general Imperial policy of trying to avoid combat within the webway was reinforced. Second, whatever fellow-feeling the craftworld Eldar had for the Dark Eldar was badly reduced by such a brutal attack and its consequences. Finally, the estimation of the Tau's value as a fighting force was raised. The Tau's inclusion within the Imperium was still young at this point, and their usefulness in combat was often questioned. Their long refusal to join the Imperium made many question their ability to fit into the larger Imperial Army, and their distaste for Glorious Melee Combat made many question their courage and valor. The ferocity of their attack and the staunchness of their defence in this battle silenced such doubts; and Imperial planners rejoiced at having another force able to move through the Webway.

The Phinean Massacre[edit]

The Raptor Cults have always been extremely protective of the trees that produce their symbiotes. Although they treat these trees with nearly quasi-religious reverence, they know other groups are unlikely to do the same and if the ability to make shrikes became widely available then the Raptor Cults themselves would become obsolete. The amount of damage that could be done if shrike symbiotes were available to less scrupulous hands is easily shown by the events of the Phinean Massacre.

In M37, the planet Phineus II was subjected to a prolonged assault by a group of Crone Eldar, who had hired a large Raptor Cult to raid and sow terror upon its people. Phineus II had few defenses that could deal with fast-moving aerial targets like shrikes, and so the shrikes wreaked havoc upon the defending forces for several weeks. It got to the point that many guardsmen were afraid to sleep at night for fear that the shrikes would come wailing out of the darkness, and the shrikes themselves had begun competing amongst themselves for the most spectacular kills.

Entering into this scene were a group of Tzeentchian Crone researchers, who were not aligned with the invading force yet. The Tzeenchians had at their disposal several hundred shrike symbiotes, a rare prize which had been by stolen from a Raptor Cult by one particularly enterprising researcher. In the dead of night, the Tzeentchians kidnapped hundreds of human and eldar guardsmen from their tents and experimented on them by exposing them to the symbionts, wanting to see if non-Raptor Cult devotees were compatible with the gift of the Raptor God.

Once they were satisfied with their experiments, they released the pseudo-shrikes onto the battlefield, who confused and horrified by their warped condition sought out their fellow Guardsmen for help. The Guardsmen, having been driven to their wits end by the constant attacks and lack of sleep, reflexively fired at the incoming fliers, killing them to a man.

The Imperium was horrified when they realized they had slaughtered their own people. The invading Crone Eldar were furious that another group would interfere with their operations. The Raptor Cults were outraged at the theft and subsequent waste of so many good shrike symbiotes.

The Tzeenchian Crone Eldar thought it was funny.

Inquisitorial Reports[edit]

The APEX Twins[edit]

PROJECT COBRA SILVER SEAGULL (Tundra Cleric 12D)
CLEARANCE LEVEL 
MYSTERIA ALTUM BLACK (FATAL EYE RED)
SOURCE 
ORDO SECURITAS JUNGLE MUSTANG
AUTHOR 
Inquisitor SABINE APEX
INITIAL BRIEFING 

On 2.1015.826.M41, Sister Jubblowski (ASSET GLASS PANTHER) was impregnated by a previously undetected Chaos cultist. Immediate countermeasures were taken, hampered by the fact that any attempt to abort the pregnancy would remove her fertility and Isha's blessing. Jubblowski insisted on finding other countermeasures that would deny Chaos a potential weapon and allow her to continue her duties, despite a clear and present danger to herself (Collected Marginalia, Emperor Oscar Steward: It was, to put it bluntly, badass). For a full list of countermeasures, see the attached BLEAK BULLDOG document, prepared by Grey Knight Brother Ryner and Order of the Gilded Rose Palatine Moira, both of whom were integral to Jubblowski's continued security and health. Shortly after attachment of Brother Ryner to her security detail on 0105.827, Sister Jubblowski received a triple set of mutually exclusive prophecies regarding the long-term results of pregnancy (See attached document CLUMSY RAINBOW). All three prophecies confirmed twin female psykers as immediate result. (Collected Marginalia, Azura Strain, Grand Headmistress of Rehtor Imperia: request meeting with SABINE APEX. Must ensure this inquisitor will not emotionally stunt these girls from detachment).

On 2.0712.827, at 1111 Standard Imperial Time, Sister Jubblowski gave birth, barely surviving the process. Medical opinion holds she will not be able to safely bear for another three years. Counteracting this is the fact that Jubblowski spent the entire birthing issuing prophecies. Six hours later, a cult summoned multiple daemons to attack and secure the twins. Said plan was cut short when the daemons fled after the girls shredded one without trying. I was there, and I'm torn between joy and horror at knowing what a daemon's shriek of pain and terror sounds like. Testing has proven the girls (Named Ethel and Gretel after characters from an ancient childrens tale) to be Alpha-Plus Psykers, with a few potential abilities the Farseers are currently unable to determine the nature of. Sister Jubblowski has followed their recommendations and designated me as their caretaker. She followed this by making me lactacte. A moment of candor follows: I'm scared fucking shitless of the idea. I can go toe-to-toe with a junior Farseer, but that's only when skill is considered – in terms of power a weak one would overpower me. Is putting me in charge of two Alpha-Plus psykers, humans that until now were theoretical, a good idea? Their potential made Eldrad pause. I need backup. Other than their massive power and the white hair, the girls are of a healthy weight and size, although they are showing signs of more muscular control than normal. Gene tests are being carried out, but are currently inconclusive in any area except their suitability for the Adepta Sororitas augmentations.

RESPONSE OF HIGH LORDS OF TERRA Inquisitor SABINE APEX, your request for backup has been granted. You are hereby granted leadership of the JUNGLE PANTHER working group, who will aid you in this. Assets are being forwarded to them. May all our gods watch over you.

Selected Reports follow:

Daily Report 0419.833.M41, JUNGLE PANTHER Compound (Respa III, Obscurus/Scarus/Helican). Inquisitor SABINE APEX, Reporting. 

The girls went missing for three hours today. We discovered them in a nearby town by the simple method of waiting: our psykers can see them when they light their powers up, and they like to use them. Recovery went well, as the fact that we had to hide the bodies was overlooked by the local authorities, who are already used to extreme violence between the gangs. It was a fairly gruesome scene – if I didn't know they had lit up for three seconds, I would guess they had spent hours torturing these men. When asked what happened, they replied “They wanted to do nasty things with us, so we did nasty things to them first. One of them really liked it.” This lead into the same argument that they can't keep other people as pets, no matter what the voices say. Their therapist quit today. He's been getting extremely frustrated at how easily they misinterpret his statements. And I may have threatened his life over how he never actually tries to treat them like growing children, not static beings. How he got this job I don't know.

Daily Report 0420.833.M41 

That fucking bastard. He was keeping his own records. Thank the Empress the Exodites here like us, and captured him when their seer said so. The things in his luggage... Now I know where the girls were getting some of their ideas from. Ordo Securitas forces nearby have been notified to send the Cohort Religio down here, because some fucking pedo is trying to get the girls as his prophets and brides. The seer, Mornel, has offered to help me shoot them. I think I'm going to take him up on that. The bastards removal seems to have brought in a change in the girls, who seem to be finally realizing just how serious things are. This lead Gretel to show that he had given her a wig and a haircut so she could continue to switch with Ethel , even after I ordered them to give them a way of telling them apart.

Birthday Report 0712.840.M41 

The girls have been eight years old for five years now. No explanation other than bastard's fetish has been found. Mornel gifted them with frilly green outfits. They are progressing excellently in controlling their powers, but unless they let themselves grow up we won't be able to deploy them without accusations of child soldiers being thrown around.

Daily Report 0925.845.M41 

Additional security has been put in place. The girls escaped to the wandering pirate port of Rum And Pour (which I have been told is the recipe for a truly vile, yet enjoyable, drink) three days ago, before returning to us today. According to reports, they caused no incidents, which is bullshit. The pirates are either not talking, or what they did was so minor it passed beneath notice. Therapists have noticed an increase in their psychopathic tendencies.

Final Report from JUNGLE PANTHER Compound, 0003.848.M41 

We failed. We failed hard. Inquisitor Oak was stopping by, dropping off supplies and picking up a few artifacts we had recovered on his way to the OBELISK MAZE vault in the Sol system. During his visit, the girls stole his shuttle, and then stole his ship. The ship was recovered unharmed 40 lightyears from here, with only two artifacts missing: a chainaxe recovered from a chaos cult stronghold (OBJECT FIRE HEART 17UM), and a cursed rifle of unknown origin that combines the firepower of an Exitus rifle with the full-auto of a heavy stubber (OBJECT BARRED CAGE 98C). Shortly thereafter, Rum and Pour left the sector. A messenger drone left at their last location held a message to us from the girls: they wished to see the universe, and the pirates seemed like their kind of people. They also called me Mother, and admonished me to not cry or get mad.

My only consolation is that most of the pirates there seem to prefer keeping the Imperium around. I and the tactical assets of JUNGLE PANTHER are heading out to give chase. We will not let Chaos get their hands on these girls, not after all the work we did on denying them this potential weapon. I have no idea what I'm going to do to the girls yet: grounding their little asses seems a little underpowered at the moment.

Inquisitor SABINE APEX, signing off.

Inquisitorial Report: AZURE IRON WASP[edit]

>Enter Clearance

>Password: ********************

>Verifying...

>Commencing biometric scan...

>Verified. Welcome, Inquisitor.

>Opening file...

OPERATION: AZURE IRON WASP (Eclipse Caterpillar 754)
SOURCE: Ordo Xenos, Divisio Raptoris, Facility BORON RAM
AUTHOR: Inquisitor PEARL WATCHMAN, administrator of facility BORON RAM
[Context: Blanket report to all personnel of facility BORON RAM, a facility devoted to researching potential cures for genestealer infection]

It has come to my attention that several of the facility’s personnel have been using several of the patients of this facility for their own…personal uses. This behaviour was found to be rampant across the facility, with at least 23 different individuals breaking quarantine of numerous infectees, both male and female and of various species. Genestealer infection induces indiscriminate mating behavior with any perceived suitable partner to produce genestealer hybrids, even after host sterilization. Experiments to neutralize tyranid phero-brainwashing (which so far have only showed temporary success) have hosts show horror at actions while infected, indicating behaviour occurs regardless of conscious desires.

Speaking freely for a moment, I want to ask a simple question: What in the Imperium’s name is wrong with you? These are people. Men and women. They have friends and family waiting for them out there. They’re here to get better. Just because they’re sick and can’t control themselves doesn’t give you the right to use them as sex dolls.

Most of the offending personnel have been identified and dealt with. If I find any further instances of this occurring, I will personally make sure those responsible get reassigned to the deepest hole possible on Ganymede.

>End file
>Logging you out...
>Good hunting, Inquisitor.

Inquisitorial Report: YELLOW EYE SEAGULL[edit]

>Enter Clearance

>Password: ************************

>Verifying...

>Commencing biometric scan...

>Verified. Welcome, Inquisitor.

>Opening file...

OPERATION: YELLOW EYE SEAGULL (Wobbly Wombat 17)

SOURCE: Ordo Xenos, Diviso Sepulchrum, Deep Field Recon Squadron 17

Author: Interrogator PURRING VIOLET

Arrived and departed from IGC-137-Oscar-Romeo-Dalet-2828 without incident, extracting roughly two weeks before the Shadow in the Warp fell over the system. As in the previous sixteen systems, all traces of life above crustal microbes have been eliminated, primarily by orbital bombardment with some remaining traces of nanoweapons. As before, all indicators point towards Necron responsibility, of a fleet numbering about 200 vessels. [file attached: forensic analysis, orbital bombardment, weapon types and distribution] By the looks of things, we arrived just hours after they left. Maybe in the next system we'll get to see them in action. Progression of the age of the damage indicates the extermination fleet is moving via Dolmen gate, with no inertialess-equipped vessels. [file attached: forensic analysis, orbital bombardment, dating techniques] Maybe we'll catch them in the act in the next system. At this point, all evidence is pointing towards the Necrons trying their own variation of the Kryptmann line, exterminating worlds in the Tyranids' path. On the one hand, perhaps we can feel grateful that the Necrons are weakening the Tyranids for us. On the other hand... analysis of atmospheric composition indicates that this planet likely had a pre-space industrial/atomic civilization. [file attached: forensic analysis, atmospheric composition] They are either all dead now, or were scooped up en masse for biotransference experiments. Next system is IGC-137-Oscar-Romeo-Gimel-2124. Long range telescope observation shows indications of life on the second planet; maybe that will still be true by the time we get there.

>End file

>Opening file...

OPERATION: YELLOW EYE SEAGULL (Solar Serpent 2)

SOURCE: Ordo Xenos, Divisio Sepulchrum, HEADSTONE KING

AUTHOR: Inquisitor SUNSET STABERINDE

Deeper analysis of Wobbly Wombat reports only partially support initial conclusions that Necrons are enacting a Kryptmann Line strategy. Pattern and placement of sterilized systems are not consistent with attempts to weaken the Tyranids before a killing blow. Paths are left through sterilized zones leading away from Necron space. Conclusion is that Necrons are attempting to herd Tyranid fleets away from Tomb-Worlds while dealing as little damage to them as possible. Further conclusion: the Necrons are attempting to use the Tyranids as a weapon against the rest of the galaxy. This is consistent with known psychology of the Silent King. Silent Empire long-term goals involve extermination of all life throughout galaxy. The Silent Empire does not currently have the power to do so. (See SCARLET SPINE SEAGULL reports for detail on Necron power projection) The Tyranids likely do. Necrons are in excellent condition to survive Tyranid onslaught; necrodermis indigestible, recall/repair mechanisms allow extreme attrition tactics, if all else fails they can clear the life off their tomb-worlds and return to stasis. Tyranids likely to depart after scouring galaxy of all life, leaving Necrons as sole owners. In short, Tyranid victory serves the Silent King's interests. Further conclusions: Necrons may undertake further action against attempts to halt Tyranid advance. Sabotage of various kinds or direct naval or ground action against Imperium strongholds. Such actions should be anticipated and warded against before they actually occur; however, specific policy suggestions in this area are beyond the scope of this report.

>End file

>Logging out...

>Good hunting, Inquisitor.

Inquisitorial Report: BLACK BRASS PIG[edit]

>Enter Clearance

>Password: ******************************

>Verifying...

>Commencing biometric scan...

>Verified. Welcome, Inquisitor.

>Opening file...

OPERATION: BLACK BRASS PIG (Onyx Desert 22)

SOURCE: Ordo Malleus, Task Force MUSTARD-3

AUTHOR: Interrogator NACRE NETWORK

[Context: personal report from NACRE NETWORK to DIAMOND STAG, regarding cleanup efforts in the wake of the 8th Black Crusade]

Our worst fears have been realized. While physically relatively unscathed by their seven-month captivity at the hands of the Chaos Eldar, deep psychic trawls have revealed extensive mental tampering. Testing of 500 randomly-selected individuals out of the seven million survivors indicate at least half the population of Merriman's World are affected.

The exact purpose of the tampering is still unknown, and I must admit the technicalities are beyond me. Attached is a more detailed report by Primaris Xavier and Seer Iyonais. [Attached File: (Onyx Desert 20) Deep Probe Trawl Results] We do know there are two parts to the tampering. The first is a simple memory edit, evidently to replace any memories of the tampering itself with memories of the long-term confinement and neglect reported by the initial liberation teams. The second is a 'knot' of psychic energy hidden deep within the victim's mind, requiring deep probing to uncover. The exact function of this knot is unclear, but we can safely assume it to be a booby-trap of some variety.

This poses a dilemma. Releasing the survivors of Merriman's World into the Imperium before they have been screened is obviously impossible, when any one of them could be a ticking time-bomb. However, scanning all seven million of them would take resources that are simply not available, not with the counter-attack under way. The alternative, simply killing them all, is unpalatable. Perhaps you have an alternative, Lord?

>End file

>Logging you out...

>Good hunting, Inquisitor.

Inquisitorial Report: GREEN ZINC OLM[edit]

>Enter Clearance

>Password: ***************

>Verifying...

>Commencing biometric scan...

>Verified. Welcome, Inquisitor.

OPERATION: GREEN ZINC OLM (Hateful Heart 1227)

SOURCE: Ordo Xenos, Divisio Barbarum, Deep Field Recon 180

AUTHOR: Inquisitor IVORY MILL

[Context: observation of Ork Attack Moons operating against the Tyranids in the Octarius Theater]

We have confirmation that the Orks have begun repair operations within the hulk of the Attack Moon *Bugzappa*. The Orks have begun transferring vast quantities of raw materials, parts, grot workers, and assorted industrial machinery into the interior of the Attack Moon, along with Meks from multiple systems. This is confirmed by long-range telescopic observation, intercepts of vox transmissions, and analysis of traffic types and patterns. It is safe to assume that this means the Tyranid infestation on board has been suppressed.

Progress on repairs is difficult to estimate; the Meks and grot workers are focusing on interior components of the hulk first, precluding direct observation. I assume they are trying to restore FTL capabilities to move the *Bugzappa* to a safer location before more Tyranid forces arrive.

Closer observation by stealth shuttles or servitor probes was prevented by a previously unknown type of energy field, apparently a distant relative of the Shokk Attak Gun. It creates a wide planar field of uncontrolled micro-teleports, shredding any matter passing through the boundary. The field is projected by several hundred unmanned emitters in a rough shell around the *Bugzappa*. It is apparently nearly harmless to large vessels equipped with void shields, as such vessels have been observed moving through the field with impunity; however, small and unshielded vessels have no such protection. Although this is mere speculation, I suspect this was designed to prevent Tyranid infiltration and sabotage attempts using small, stealthy bioforms. The design bears the hallmarks of Big Mek Baddkrasha. Since the *Bugzappa* is also his design, a personal interest in its repair is not unexpected. I assume he is also in-theater, although vox-traffic does not refer to his presence directly.

Assuming Baddkrasha's presence, based on the amount of materials and labor flowing in I estimate they can have FTL repaired in around a week. Without Baddkrasha's presence, two to three weeks. This assumes repair of the FTL system is their primary goal.

I will continue to observe the repair efforts of the *Bugzappa*. Once it warps out, I will move to re-acquire contact at the major shipyard systems under uncontested Ork control in Octarius. End report.

>End file

>Logging out...

>Good hunting, Inquisitor.

Inquisitorial Report: RHODOPSIN RHUBARB SNAPDRAGON[edit]

>Enter Clearance

>Password: ****************************

>Verifying...

>Commencing biometric scan...

>Verified. Welcome, Inquisitor.

>Opening file...

OPERATION: RHODOPSIN RHUBARB SNAPDRAGON (Quiet Quern 6)

SOURCE: Interrogator URBAN WELDER, Inquisition Watchtower Snarkle, Jack Hive, Joseph Haarlock Sucks At Cards

Analysis of the artifacts captured in last week's raid on the cult stronghold [reference: RHODOPSIN RHUBARB SNAPDRAGON (Questing Quail 1), (Questing Quail 2)] has conclusively identified Items 23, 27, and 106 as psy-grafting machines of Chaos Eldar origin. Devices of this type are used to transfer an infiltrator's psyche into a captive subject, subordinating the original individuals' will to their own while retaining enough memory and personality to permit the infiltrator to pass as the original even to close confidantes and surface level psychic scanning. [refer to: Hideous Machineries of the Lost and the Damned: A Comprehensive Reference to Known Cult Technologies of the Segmentum Obscurus, Vol. 3, 227th Edition, pg. 1128-1145, for more detail] Quite simply, it turns loyal citizens into sleeper agents for the cult.

As this cell of the cult was using a high-class retreat as a cover, they would have had potential access to a wide cross section of lesser nobility, including PDF officers. A full assessment of the threat must wait for the completion of more detailed analysis of the compromised social networks and the completion of interrogations of captured cultists, but we must assume the worst. This cell alone may have seeded hundreds of sleeper agents in sensitive positions, and if this was not the only cell of the cult it is possible there are still more psy-graft machines out there.

The implications are dire; and any other cells of the cult will surely know of the destruction of their fellows, and respond. I fear the situation is beyond the ability of a single Watchtower to contain. Consequently, I am officially requesting aid from the other Watchtowers on-world [attachment: RHODOPSIN RHUBARB SNAPDRAGON (Query Quetzal 1) and the deployment of specialists in dealing with psi-grafted sleeper agents from off-world [attachment: RHODOPSIN RHUBARB SNAPDRAGON (Query Quetzal 2)].

Hopefully, we can root out this cancer before it spreads further.

>End file

>Logging you out...

>Good hunting, Inquisitor.

Non-Canonical Stories (Post M41 and Alternate Timelines)[edit]

Abandon canon all ye who enter here. This is the place for all Nobledark Imperium stories that, regardless of how good they might be, represent non-canonical timelines (i.e., alternate timelines or post-999.M41 scenarios). Because the potential future of the galaxy post-999.M41 is supposed to be up to the reader to decide, all stories have been spoilered in order to avoid potentially ruining anyone's headcanon.

Basically this.

Cypher Claws[edit]

Private Dalwort was pretty sure he was going to die. He had known that he would for a while now, not the exact particulars but something like this. It was inevitable in a way, there were only so many ways a soldier in the Imperial Guard could die and almost all of them involved in some way the participation of another party. But he wasn't happy about it, no one bit. This was not how he wanted t go, hunted down across the snow like a beast. He could turn and fight, he knew at some level, he could turn and fight and die like a man. They could have outpaced him some time ago and he knew it, a mere man couldn't compete against an astartes, let alone a blood read monster blessed of Khorne. They were toying with them, he could hear their laughter over the wind in the tree tops and the hammering and blood rushing in his ears. Muscles on fire, lungs laboring to drag one more ragged breath after another into his chest he stumbled on. His nightsider eyes turned night into day by the light of the moon through the branches and he could see corporal Cadful not so blessed stumble over a tree root. Dalwort broke stride to catch him before he fell and was immediately slapped aside by a bright read hand.

Stars and whorl of purple and yellow blossomed in the pain of his face as he came back to himself. Everything was sore down one side of his face and he knew, by the fact that he was still alive, that he couldn't have been down for more than a moment. One eye was a rose of crimson agony, vision doubled and already he could feel it swelling shut and bruised and bleeding. A figure writ huge against the dark grey and gnarly tree trunks stood over Dalwort as he scrambled and backed away across the floor, Neth, Tiynad and Hormandz were, he saw ahead, backing away from two other giants that loomed ahead of them.

A hand more like a metal bear paw lifted him by the collar of his sweat drenched flack jacket and hurled him to where the others had backed to. He could hear it. The laughter, a resonant and cruel sound. They were little more than mice to these creatures Tiynad lifted his trembling laser rifle and emptied the last of his powerpack into a scorch-marked line across one giant's chest with as much effect as pissing into a blizzard. The mocking, hideous laughter didn't change one iota.

Private Dalwort, Mordian Nightsider, soldier in the army of the most blessed Imperium resolved that he wouldn't at the very least die in the dirt and with what seemed to him super human effort hoisted himself to his feet, rifle held like a club in hands made numb by mindless animal fear. This was the night he would die, he tried to recall once more the cave he was born in, the land of his people in the endless star speckled night. A mordian's last thoughts should be those of home.

A flutter in the leaves above them and the giants stopped their tortuously slow advance. Splintering wood for a moment followed by a large thud and a spray of displaced snow as something in a much cleaner red landed in the trees barely a score of feet away. Tall as a Catachan and built large, a robe of heavy crimson hung from those broad shoulders fastened and trimmed with bleached bones and peppered with frost and the red Fallen astartes finally reached for their own weapons.

The nearest swung his chain-axe with a strength of a wrecking ball and the speed of the gale only to find his arm stopped as if he had struck a mountain, the man if man he was in the frosted robes wrenched that arm upwards and flipped the creature into one of it's damned and forsaken packmates before twisting the arm past the point of endurance to the snapping of adamantium armour and inhumanly strong bones. The other two had charged, roaring in rage as their chain axes screamed in a promise of bloody retribution. A promise that went fulfilled as the broad shouldered figure spun and ducked and twisted around their clumsy flailing before landing a punch that collapsed one of their helmets and the skull inside it. The broken armed Fallen and it's associate attempted to get to their feet but weren't quick enough as the broken armed one was silenced by a thunderous boot impacting it's neck, directed movements becoming the graceless flails of a man dying of a crushed windpipe and lungs filing with blood.

Two remained now, circling the Mordian's saviour, waiting for the moment to strike. The man spun to keep them both in his vision as much as possible, shoulders squared, fists bunched the dynamic of the situation seeming to dawn on both of the Fallen at the same time that this wasn't the circling of sharks around a stranded swimmer, this was a wolf indecisive of which sheep to pick first. The figure was smiling beneath that grey beard, grey eyes like hard flint gleamed beneath those grey hairs, eyes of a judge without mercy, displeased and declaring and damning. The one with the laser scorch marks was the laser scorch marks was the first to fall, his head torn unceremoniously from his body, the second tackled to the ground and rib-cage crushed under repeated hammer blows as inhumanly dark blood seeped into the spoiled snow.

The whole engagement had in truth been over in moments, the Mordians huddled together as the figure stood upright once more, flint hard eyes fixing on them like those of an apex predator. The Fallen had been terrible beyond words but here was something worse. Those eyes reached into their souls like the inferno glare of a god, seeing their sins and knowing them completely. There was no hiding from him, he knew their names, he knew everything about them and they couldn't look away. The figure took a role of parchment or animal skin from his robe and marked it in the blood of the slain several times. Rooted by all encompassing terror Dalwort and his comrades trembled as he moved towards them with long, sure strides. Dalwort couldn't see, his one good eye was full of tears "please" he silently mouthed through quivering lips "please" the figure now seeming impossibly huge was standing right before him now and reached forward once more and Dalwort finally managed to close his eye and screwed them tight as he prepared for death.

There was a slight heaviness upon his shoulders. After what seemed an eternity he opened his eye to see the grey haired and blood drenched figure gone, leaving only the dead as testament to him ever having been there. The dead and a forge-world fresh Cameleoline cloak over his flack jacket. Looking around his comrades were similarly gifted and as confused and terrified as he imagined he looked, and above them the sound of laughter booming as thunder and as terrible as an avalanche "HO, HO, HO".

Unnamed Alternate Timeline Story[edit]

“It is an esoteric art, young seer, one that is not often explored by practitioners of our Path. And admittedly, in times like these it is more practical to gaze into the future to find the sword stroke that will cut down the foe. But still, there is a great value in what we do, for the road not taken has much to teach us.

“Now, expand your mind as you have done before. Feel the infinite strands of time and causality spiraling forth from this point. Good. Now, instead of reaching forward, reach back. It will feel strange, but try to find a point in the past, and focus. It may be faint, but give it time… Ah, I see you feel it. Different, aren’t they? Those are the ashen echoes of what could have been. Pick one, and follow it for a while. Immerse yourself in it. Let yourself fall into the mists of what never was and never will be. Part the veil and look inside this world of lost possibility. What do you see?”

---

The throne room was bathed in warm light from the setting sun that filtered through the stained glass windows, long shadows thrown carelessly against ornate walls. It was modestly sized but handsomely furnished, fitting for the humble, diligent Planetary Governor who ruled there, but today it had a different occupant.

The Grand Vizier stood at his usual spot behind the borrowed throne, arms crossed behind his back, as he watched the last of the courtiers and petitioners trickle from the hall. The Emperor raised his hand in a benevolent wave as his subjects left, some of them still with looks of slack-jawed awe or religious rapture on their faces as they turned to look one last time upon their immortal ruler. A pair of golden-armored Custodes closed the great doors with a final clang, and the room was empty. The Emperor let out a long sigh and rose, making his way towards the private exit behind the throne. The Grand Vizier fell in beside him, matching his stride without a word. The Emperor would speak when he wanted.

The pair proceeded through the door to the hallway that led to the residential wing of the palace that the governor had lent to them, and after a moment of companionable silence, the Emperor spoke. “Any news since our briefing this morning?”

“Nothing requiring your attention, Your Majesty.”

The Emperor raised an amused eyebrow. “Your Majesty? Using titles today, are we?”

“You saw how these provincial types were falling over themselves to call you by the most elaborate titles possible. They love the pomp and glamor, so we may as well humor them while we’re here.”

“Very well then, my Grand Vizier. What did you think of Lord Farwell and his proposal?”

“An earnest man, and his plans for increasing agricultural production here were sound, though perhaps accepting them would anger the Melisians.”

“Let them be angry then. They may fume and fuss, but they will not cross the throne in such times. We cannot have the entire hive world of Kado so dependent on Melis for supplies, and an expansion here would do much to bolster the stability of the agricultural base in the subsector.”

The Vizier smiled wryly. “They may not see it that way, but I agree: their objections will not have much force given their economic ties and the fact they have more tractors than lasguns.”

They continued down the hall and out into a small courtyard, where two serving girls were idly gossiping, leaning against a column. They turned at the sound of footsteps and froze wide-eyed as the Emperor and the Vizier approached. They managed to dip down into shaky curtsies and squeak out a stammered greeting.

The Emperor smiled gently at them, the expression radiant on his sculpted features. The serving girls flushed an alarming shade of red, and one of them seemed to be hyperventilating. The Vizier rolled his eyes.

“If you would be so kind, inform the good butler that we will be having our dinner in the garden pavilion today,” said the Emperor. The serving girls nodded frantically but did not move. “You may go now,” the Emperor prompted gently. The pair blinked, the spell broken, and fled in the direction of the kitchens. The Vizier shook his head, and the Emperor shrugged helplessly.

As they made they way towards the garden, the Emperor turned again to the Vizier. “What of Biel-Tan? The last report indicated the Court of the Young King was in a frenzy. Will a visit be necessary?”

“No, Your Majesty. I only just received word. It seems the good Ambassador Cain has managed to slow the situation somewhat, and given the pause it looks like the cooler heads of the Court will prevail. We will continue to monitor the situation, but it seems unlikely we will have a rampaging Bahzhakhain waking sleeping Tomb Worlds.”

“Whatever we’re paying that man, it’s not enough.”

“A true hero of the Imperium.”

They pushed open an elaborate wrought iron gate, and then they were in the garden. The Governor’s wife was something of a gardener, and in the carefully cultivated beds and trellises were plants and flowers from a hundred different worlds. Flowering shrubs, elegantly pruned trees, crawling vines, and overhead four-winged dragonets and Elysian swallows flitted about the branches.

The Emperor stood a moment, looking across the garden. “The First Lady has an eye for landscaping. A marvelous garden, is it not?”

“That it is, Your Majesty.”

“Please, no more titles when we are alone here. I’ve had my fill of that today.”

With that the Emperor stretched, reaching towards the sky, and in a burst of white unfolded his wings. Huge they were, pure as driven snow, and even now having seen them for ten thousand years, they were a beautiful sight to the Vizier. “As you say, Sanguinius.”

Sanguinius patted him on the shoulder. “Come, Oscar. Dinner awaits us.”

They walked down the path to the pavilion at the center of the garden and passed by the pride of the First Lady: a small collection of plants saved from the destruction of Old Earth, crowned by a single rosebush. They seated themselves at the table in the pavilion, and soon the butler and a host of servants came down the path, pushing carts loaded with food and drink.

The golden man and Man of Gold reviewed dataslates and holopads as they ate, never taking their eyes from the information at hand even as they worked on the food, reviewing reports, approving orders and laws, ceaselessly manning the wheels of government that endlessly churned to keep the vast machine of the Imperium in motion. Finally, the last course was cleared away, and Sanguinius set down his holopad and took a sip of tea. Oscar paused, stylus hovering over his holopad.

Sanguinius sighed. “Just ten minutes. Let me at least enjoy the sunset.”

Oscar nodded, and looked of towards the horizon together.

“Should we spar again, later tonight?” asked Oscar.

Sanguinius groaned. “You’ll be the death of me. Tapping into the Warp always makes me queasy, and I’ve already been locked in the throne room all day listening to complaints about the price of grox.”

Oscar chuckled. “I could use the night off as well. Your control of lightning yesterday nearly bested me. Your powers may very well match my own soon.”

“Hopefully not for a while yet, I’d rather you be the one to freeze battlefleets with your mind. But I did notice the same thing, likely due to the increase in Imperial Cult activity that the Synod reported.”

At that, Oscar opened his mouth, but the words caught in his throat. Sanguinius looked at him. “You have a question.”

He hesitated. “About the Imperial Cult… I’m not quite sure how to put it.”

The angel smiled. “A topic of conversation we haven’t breached after ten thousand years of friendship? Now I have to hear it, if only for a break in the monotony.”

Oscar looked his friend in the eyes. “Why do you let them worship you?”

He saw a glimmer of surprise. Sanguinius looked up, brow furrowed ever so slightly. When he looked back down at Oscar, his smile had become sad. “Because that is what they need of their Emperor. Of me.”

“It is a falsehood. They call you a god when you are only a man.”

“I know, Oscar. I more than anyone know of my own frailties and failings. But that is not what need. The common man is not like you, the truth is not so sacrosanct a thing to them. They need a hero, a savior, one they can emulate, one so perfect and invincible that they can believe in him with all their heart so they can go on for just one more day in this galaxy of pain. They need a god.” Sanguinius looked off towards the sunset. His eyes were distant.

“When you placed that crown on my head, Sanguinius the man died. In his place you created the Emperor, embodiment of the Imperium, vessel for the hopes and dreams of quadrillions of souls, the immortal Angel that would save them all. Never have I forced them down this path, Oscar. They pray and worship and hope, and I in turn take their pain and expectations and longing upon myself. All for the sake of the lie that anchors them, that keeps the Imperium turning: The Emperor Protects. Even when I have failed so many of them, they still believe: The Emperor Protects.”

Oscar was silent for a moment. “Do you resent me?”

“Never, Oscar. Someone has to be that beacon for them, and better it is me than anyone else.”

“You do not bear this burden alone, Sanguinius.”

“I know. I have you, and Lady Isha, and many others, and truly without all your help I never would have made it to today.”

“Yes, I do recall a certain large Ork I helped you with,” said Oscar drily.

“But I have thought about it.” Sanguinius twisted a long strand of his golden hair with a finger. “For all our power, the fate of the Imperium will not lie in our hands.”

“Oh?”

“A great many people – you included, I think – believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that hold the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness, love, and courage. And if the Church gives them that strength, is it not worthy? If the guardsmen in his trench fights a little harder for his fellows, if the clerk at his desk pushes through and finishes one more report, if the tired mother finds the strength to hold and read to her children, then all of this will have been worth it, and that is where we will find our salvation. Not in me, or you, but in the strength of the people and in each individual citizen, whether it be man, Eldar, Tau, Demiurge, or others.”

“So you say.” Oscar poured an amber liquor into two glasses, a favorite of the locals, the bottle glugging softly. He slid one to Sanguinius.

“You’re unconvinced.” Sanguinius laughed. “This conversation got quite heavy, didn’t it? I’m no good at this ‘god’ business, it seems. Ask your wife about it, she’s had millennia more experience than I.” They both sipped at their cups. “How is she these days?”

“Overworked, just like us. Splitting her attention between the Warp and realspace is tiring, and the needs of the faithful are many in times like these. She is well enough, though.”

“Once again, my heartfelt thanks to the Mother Goddess of the Imperium, especially for her help with the plague at Monarchia. Even the Word Bearers were at a loss, and without her direct intervention we likely would have lost the planet to Nurgle.”

Oscar smiled faintly, a hint of pride on his lips. “I will convey this, she will be pleased to hear it.”

“A shame she could not have joined us for this trip. She would like it here.”

“That she would. But enough about us.” Oscar peered at Sanguinius closely. “What about you?”

The angel sighed. “Not this conversation again.”

“You know I’m right.”

“Let me recount your arguments: An Empress would be of great symbolic and functional importance to the Imperium. A woman of talent would be able to take on duties of government we currently administer, relieving our workload and allowing the Traveling Court to spread its reach. She could also increase our influence by presenting a different face from us, two towering demigods, and represent the Imperium separately on her own missions. It would also help Imperial morale, giving the citizens a great event and moment of joy to celebrate. And finally, as consort, she would be to… address my needs, both emotional and otherwise. Does that all sound about right?”

“Masterfully argued, Your Majesty, I am utterly convinced.”

Sanguinius shook his head, unable to contain a smile. “You would be, but I am not so easily swayed.” He gave the liquor in his glass a swirl. “They say a man is lucky if he can find true love once. I already have, so to find it twice is to ask too much of this universe. I’ve already had my happy ending.”

“It was worth a try.” They sat a moment in silence, appreciating the sunset. “Do you still think of her?”

“Every day,” said Sanguinius, his eyes distant again. “When I lost her and Belisarius in the same month, I thought the light had gone out of my life, and so it has, to a degree. That part of me is done.” He finished his drink with a gulp. “I said the day you placed the crown on my head was the day Sanguinius died, and the Emperor was born. That was a lie, of sorts. The day Sanguinius truly died is the day I lost them. Now, our dream is all that is left to me.”

“You have heard reports from the Blood Angels, I am sure, of the Lady in Red?” said Oscar quietly.

“Of course.”

“If it truly is Lady Cyrene, why has she not shown herself to you in your visions?”

“If we assume it is truly her, then she has her reasons. Cyrene was always independent and willful in her own way, and I loved that about her. I trust that what she doing is right. And if fate deems that we will not meet again in this world, we will meet again in the next.”

Oscar followed suit and finished his own drink. The sun was only a slight arc above the horizon now, midnight blue descending and jealously pushing out the last few hues of pastel pink and yellow. “We should be going soon,” said Oscar. “There is still work to be done.”

Sanguinius nodded. “I will meet you in the study soon. I just need to be out here for a little while longer.”

Oscar rose from the table and headed down the path to the palace. Before he turned the corner, he looked back at the pavilion. Sanguinius was silhouetted against the setting sun, wreathed in a corona of light, and for a moment, he was a duality: he looked utterly magnificent, every inch the Emperor and god the people claimed him to be, and utterly alone, an all-too-human man crushed by the weight of his crown.

Oscar felt a stab of pity, and regret for what he had done. He turned and left, grateful to his friend that it was not him.

The End, But One Of Many[edit]

Millions of years in the future…

Scribe-thane Escribdeus dug. He scraped at the earth with his hands, pulling away paw after pawful of sand. In spite of this seemingly primitive behavior, most observers would note that he had come a long way from his ancestors millions of years ago, which had been little more than rats.

He wore robes for one. He wasn’t an animal.

Slowly but surely, he scooped away at the stone tablet emerging from the ground ignoring the sensation of sand grains in his fur. Once it was sufficiently clean, he brought out his equipment and began analyzing the stone. Luminescence dating, to tell when the stone was last exposed to sun or heat. After a few minutes, the machine spat out its answer with a beep.

The numbers couldn’t be right.

He ran the analysis again. The answer was the same. He scooped several more handfuls of sand away from the artifact to make sure it wasn’t what he thought it was, it couldn’t be what he thought it was, but it was. The scribe-thane brushed at the emerging stone plaque, careful not to damage anything, until he saw the alien glyph of the Ancients clearly denoted upon their surface. He felt a swell of joy in his heart.

Scholar-Seer was going to be so pleased when she saw this.

Elsewhere, Mistress Scholar-Seer Senic was indeed pleased, but for reasons that were much more carnal than her thane would have thought. In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. For a species that put an emphasis on tactile stimulation and social behavior it was only natural that they would put a high premium on grooming and reproduction. Add to the fact that solid-colored fur, whether her own grey or black, brown, or white, was considered an attractive characteristic by her species and it was unsurprising that she received so many offers of mating.

“Mistress!” Escribdeus said, throwing open the flap of the tent and completely ruining the mood, “glorious news-news!”

Scholar-Seer Senic let out a shriek, startled by her piebald-colored assistant. It wasn’t out of modesty, no one in the room had anything that the others hadn’t seen before, but nobody liked to be started in the middle of an intimate moment. Picking herself up off the ground, the Scholar-Seer gave the oblivious scribe-thane a death glare.

“Mistress,” he said, “we found one. “Two-hundred years more young-young than youngest known Ancient relic based on multiple methods of dating.”

Senic was shocked. She had expected they would find something here but nothing this young. This was certainly something worth interrupting mating for.

“You’ve done well thane,” she said, “have extra rations-treat as reward for good-good work.”

The scribe-thane squealed so loud the Scholar-Seer thought he was going to pass out before excitedly scurrying out of the tent. He was such an excitable sort. She wondered if she had been that way when she had come of age at five years old. She supposed she had better return to work too. Dismissing the lower-ranking male with a chitter, she donned her robes and the horned headdress that marked her as a figure of authority. She enjoyed mating as much as the next member of her species, but her true passion was in studying archaeology. The lives and ways of ancient peoples.

Opening the flap of the burlap tent, she allowed her eyes to adjust to the harsh light before walking through the work camp. All around her, thanes were busy at work, two arguing over cataloguing a plastic idol, another taking a break and chewing on a gnawing aid. Such was typical for her kind. When a newborn in any clan reached juvenile age, they were apprenticed under the aegis of a Master or Mistress in order to learn skills and discipline, and eventually be deemed an adult. It was their way. With their reproductive habits, large numbers of thanes were not unexpected, though in this case these were not all her own apprentices. At least with modern medicine it was better than in the medieval era, where famine was common.

Walking up the sandy hill to the dig site, she noticed one of the large rat-wolves trotting alongside her. Emitting a brief chirrup, the rat-wolf came close enough to her to give the domesticated rodent a piece of jerky. The rat-wolves were good guardians. Useful to have around. As she reached the digsite itself, the rat-wolf realized that it was not going to get any more jerky out of her, and turned back to go lounge around with the other rat-wolves under the tents.

When she reached the digsite, she saw it was still much as she had left it, neat lines of string demarcated squares over the Ancient ruins. However, at the far end of the site, she noticed the new Ancient plaque uncovered by the new excavation efforts. The Scholar-Seer’s pulse quickened. As swiftly as possible, her hind feet tread over the sand, until she reached the stone edifice itself. Crawling down into the hole, she put her hand upon the glyphs, letting her fingers brush over the alien carvings. Then she stopped. Although she could not get a good look at him, she could see the scribe-thane standing behind her out of the corner of her eye.

“You know what they say-say?” she asked, not turning around.

The scribe-thane shook his head. He had learned to make out some of the lettering on the Ancients’ monuments, but he had never really learned to read their writing.

“Can tell you. You want to know?”

The scribe-thane nodded excitedly. The idea of learning the craft directly from the mistress was something that anyone would file their incisors for. The Scholar-Seer turned from the plaque to look the thane in the eye.

“Assume you know basics of story. When world young-young, galaxy was in primordial chaos. From chaos, gods emerge. Our gods, the Ancients, and their enemies, Cancerous Ones. Emprah, the gold-god, decide that galaxy in chaos unacceptable. Rescue-steal Great Mother from the tallest tower of Cancerous Poxed One, who claim-kidnap her as his own at dawn of time. Mother-goddess decide to join gold-god in his quest. They create thirteen children, twelve sons and one daughter, to aid them in their quest. Lionman Russ, the savage knight. Fuegan Manus, the smith. Sanguinala, the banshee daughter. This why thirteen so important to us.”

The scribe-thane nodded again. He knew the story, everyone learned it as a child.

“Great Mother and Father and their children fight war against cancerous ones. They seal away Cancerous Ones in the netherworld. Some guess-think that this myth explanation of why life and death happen. But no one can deny that Ancients exist. Great Mother go on to have many children. Many species-things. Populate galaxy with new life. For many-many years life bountiful. But then gods vanish. So do children. Leave only us, youngest child of gods. No one knows why.”

Scholar-Seer Senic turned back to the tablet.

“This tablet-stone important because it younger than any other, and so reveal-tells more of gods’ story”

“What happened?”

The Scholar-Seer put her hand on the tablet for a moment. Then her face fell.

“Things change. Final war-battle began. Center could not hold. Slaves of Cancerous Ones broke free from the Netherworld, intent on dragging mother-goddess back with them. Dead-things from before age of gods returned and took revenge to reclaim lost thrones. Great devourer come from east, eat fourth of galaxy. Much death-death. Home of gods under battle-siege. Many desperate things done. Moon of unnatural-things, prison of those not meant to be, opened. Oblivion-god set free to make war-death on those who trod upon his kingdom. All children-species called for final war. Cancer-gods try to kill last hope in cradle.”

The Scholar-Seer studied the tablet.

“And then what?” the scribe-thane asked.

“I…do not know. Story-tablet stops there. Had to guess, think it fear-warning for future. Tell not-born generations what happened. Not sure why.”

The two shared a moment of silence for their sobering discovery, only for the chitter-bead tagged in the Scholar-Seer’s ear to go off.

“Mistress. News-news from star-watchers. Most important. They see-see ship in atmosphere. It look…look like crescent moon.”



GOOD END

Lofn Ulthran stood at the bridge of the Lady Betsy, looking out at the surface of the planet over which the ship orbited. She wasn’t happy. Few people would be if they were woken up at three in the morning several days ago and told she was urgently needed, and I quote, “right the fuck now”. And then were unable to get a good night-cycle’s sleep for the next few days. Going somewhere “right the fuck now” took on a very different meaning when you knew someone with access to a Necron inertialess drive ship. 220 years of being a diplomat and you would think she get a little bit more respect.

That said, the decidedly less sleep-deprived part of her brain could understand the need for urgency. Odysseus had finally shown up again. During all the craziness that went down during the Second War in Heaven the planet, which previously orbited the near-Sol star of Epsilon Eridani, had been shot deep into the Warp like a pinball. It had gone so deep that at least among the Administratum there was a betting pool of if and when the previously habitable planet would ever show up again. And then it happened to show up in the Skavos cluster, a region which until recently had been covered by a Warp Storm for as long as she could remember. Lofn shuddered. Odysseus had been so deep in the Warp there was no telling how long it had been there. Subjective millions of years could have passed for the people on that planet in the 220 years the planet disappeared from realspace. She couldn’t imagine what they could have gone through. It was no wonder the Imperium had asked her to represent them. Who else would you call to make first contact with people who hadn’t seen the Imperium in centuries, if they even remembered at all.

The door opened with a hiss, breaking Lofn from her rumination, and an eight-foot-tall metal skeleton stomped into the room behind her. Lofn smiled.

“Obyron,” she said to her old childhood companion, “I assume everything is okay on the ship?”

Obyron relaxed slightly. “Nothing much. A Watcher and an eldar got in an argument on the lower decks. Had to step in and separate them.”

Lofn smiled. There were few things in the galaxy that shut petty squabbles down quicker than a Necron leaning over them with a death glare.

“Any other messages I should be aware of before we make contact?”

“No. Well, one message from Ynnead, asking to make sure if you are okay, but that’s to be expected.”

Lofn rolled her eyes. “Ynnead worries too much. If I were ever in trouble, he more than anyone else would be the first to know.”

“He just does it because he cares.”

There was a pause in the conversation.

“I only wish the Nemesor could have been here to see this,” Obyron muttered.

Lofn frowned. She barely remembered the jovial old Necron from her childhood but he had always seemed like the nice sort. Although Obyron may have technically been the captain of the Lady Betsy, Lofn would never refer to Obyron as such. She knew he would take offense to it. To Obyron, the Lady Betsy only ever had one captain.

“I wish he could have been here too. He would have probably loved it. But I don’t think he had any regrets about how things turned out.”

“I should have been there, it was my duty.”

“You had two conflicting sets of duties.” Lofn responded, “It was either obey your lord and potentially let him die or disobey him and potentially let me die. How many times have we been over this, Obyron? You can’t keep beating yourself up over this.”

Obyron grunted. Lofn knew that was for her sake. She knew this argument wasn’t over, but Obyron was willing to let things lie for the time being in the name of getting the job done.

“Well,” she said, “let’s go meet the neighbors.”

The Visitor[edit]


Note: In the same timeline as the Good End of "The End, But One of Many"

Lofn Ulthran put away the last of loose things before surveying her now-tidy apartment on Colchis. Normally she didn’t put much effort into keeping her apartment neat, but today she was expecting a visitor. Apparently Lofn had gotten the job done just in time, for no sooner had she finished the job than she heard the doorbell ring. Humming to herself, she made her way to the apartment door and opened it to reveal a tall, slender figure standing just beyond. His skin was pale and his face angular and gaunt, a white shock of hair upon his head. His eyes were an ethereal blue, and in his left hand was a large, silver polearm that one might say resembled a halberd or some odd combination of sword and spear or, for those familiar with more exotic weaponry, a Necron warscythe.

“I see I could not stop for death, so he kindly stopped for me,” Lofn said, sounding oh-so-pleased with herself.

“Ha ha, like I’ve never heard that one before,” the figure drolled.

“Nice to see you too, Ynnead,” Lofn said to her guest, “and I suppose from that remark death’s too good for a case of fine Valhallan dark?”

“Valhallan? Damn, death will bite his tongue for that.”

Lofn paused for a moment.

“So is it, you know, okay for you to stop by like this? Like, people aren’t going to stop passing on just because you decided to stop for a beer or something?” She said, looking around as though she expected death to be put on pause any second.

“Nah. According to mom the process happens regardless of whether I’m incarnated on the material plane because technically I’m doing it simultaneously in the Warp. It’s like how people don’t stop getting pregnant just because mom’s around. I’d ask mom how that could be, but she’d tell me to ask dad, and he’s tell me…”

“Fourth-degree interdimensional warp fuckery,” the two said at the same time.

Lofn snorted.

“Come on in,” she said, turning back to the apartment and heading inside, “I’ll get the drinks.”

“You got a place for this thing?” Ynnead said, gesturing slightly to his giant Necron-style halberd for emphasis.

“Yeah, put it in the umbrella rack,” Lofn called from the kitchen, “Nothing’s in there anyway, don’t know why I have it, it never rains here.”

Depositing his weapon with a loud clang, Ynnead followed Lofn into the apartment. It was a nice apartment, not very large, but rather homey. Ynnead could see not much had changed since his last visit here. Lofn’s paintings still covered most of the walls. He turned to regard the one nearest to him, an eerie watercolor piece depicting a single figure holding open a black, sketchy doorway. He had a pretty good idea what that was supposed to be of. Lofn’s apartment had a single couch, facing the windows overlooking the city. Sitting on the couch sleeping in the sun was Lofn’s chitinous pet. A single look from Ynnead was all that it took to send the creature scurrying.

Ynnead and Lofn had known each other since they were children. Ynnead, due to his nature as the child of the Emperor and the Empress, had always been a fixture in the Imperial Court, whereas Lofn had been brought to Old Earth at a young age due to her political importance and at that time the danger in her life. Due to being the only half-human, half-eldar (though exactly what Ynnead was was a subject of debate), and more importantly, the only children at most court functions, the two struck up a friendship. It felt good to have someone else around who could finally empathize with how they saw the world, neither in terms of the obsessive, long-term view of the eldar or the wilder, short-term views of most humans, especially as the two of them sometimes felt like conversation pieces as opposed to people. A couple hundred years later, and their friendship was still going strong.

“Is the old man around?” Ynnead called.

“He’s around,” Lofn called from the kitchen, “Obyron knew you were going to be stopping by and stepped out for a bit. I think he’s going to go visit the Nemesor’s memorial.”

“Ouch,” Ynnead winced.

“Yeah, he really hasn’t been dealing with it well,” Lofn said, bringing over the case of Valhallan beer and handing one to Ynnead, “I’ve been meaning to try and talk with him about it but I worry that, you know, he’ll see me as part of the problem, given everything that happened. I know he really misses the Nemesor, but I also know Zahndrekh wouldn’t have wanted him to mope for eternity like this.”

Lofn flopped down on the couch, her arm across the back.

“Nothing’s really new with me,” she said, “No real crisis has popped up in the last few months. As I told you before, being a diplomat is mostly dependent on people being stupid and if people aren’t stupid then there’s little for me to do. Mostly I’ve just been doing humdrum stuff, some minor stuff for the Administratum, seeing a few friends, and painting.”

“So how’s the reincarnation gig?” Lofn said, popping open a bottle, “More eldar-human hybrids being born?”

“More are being born every year, but not many and not very often. You’re still the eldest by far.”

“Gah,” Lofn said, throwing up her hand, “Don’t say that. It makes me feel like an old lady.”

“You’re the eldest. The eeeeldest.”

“We’re the eldest. You’re the same age as me, dumbass.”

“I was born four years, seven months, and thirteen days after you, Sol standard time,” Ynnead said smugly, seemingly channeling his father for a moment.

“Come off it. Four years is chump change in the grand scheme of things.”

“Well, you know what mom says. 65 million is the new 40 million.”

“I guess. The eldest, huh? Isn’t that what that one guy used to call himself? The bird man?”

“Tzeentch? Yeah, I guess you’re right, he did.”

“Is he even still around?”

“I don’t know,” Ynnead said, “I didn’t pay much attention to what happened to him. I had bigger concerns at the time. It was a War in Heaven thing. You know I like talking about the War in Heaven just as much as you do. I mean, how would you like it if I asked you about the whole thing with Hive Fleet Enkidu?”

“Okay, point taken,” Lofn relented.

The two of them both took a deep swig.

“So is the scythe holding up okay? You seemed kind of worried about it last time.”

“Oh, I think it’s going fine now. It’s kind of like working with a suit of exarch armor and not getting overwhelmed, except instead of a bunch of little minds it’s you know.”

Ynnead dry gulped and his voice suddenly sounded very sober.

“One big one.”

“Are you sure it’s safe for you to be lugging that then around then?” Lofn said, suddenly worried about the contents of her umbrella holder.

“It’s actually safer with me than if I were to not have it. The C’tan exist as physical constants, and cannot be destroyed without seriously affecting the underlying nature of causality. As long as a single weakened piece of them exists in the universe, they can theoretically be contained without the entity running free. The consciousness remains trapped in the scythe and can never manifest in a free state. The alternative would be to bury it in a hole somewhere and hope it never gets out. And that’s never worked.”

“That sounds like something the Void Dragon would say. You’re still talking to the Void Dragon despite your parents telling you not to, aren’t you?”

“I am not and will vigorously deny it if you say anything.”

“You’re totally still talking to the Void Dragon,” Lofn said with a mischievous smile.

“Yes! I mean, he knows things. Things about how the universe works, what it means to be a god. Things my parents won’t tell me and I wish they’d tell me.”

“I don’t see what the big deal is? Cegorach said he’s safe, didn’t he?”

“Cegorach says the Iron Storm is safe,” Ynnead responded. “It’s not the kind of vote that inspires confidence. Anyway I figure, Nightbringer is a sociopath, right? So if you hear any voices telling you to do what you think he would do in that situation just do the exact opposite. Plus the way it works is most of what it kills gets funneled through me to be spit back out, so it’s not like its feeding and growing stronger.”

“And so you’re not worried about it being fed up with being stuck as a deathstick, deciding to take over your mind and using you like a puppet?”

“Hey, it got to take bites out of two different gods. It should be happy,” Ynnead said defensively, crossing his arms.

Lofn smiled.

Ynnead took a drink, “Are you worried at all that us hanging out a lot is going to get people…talking?”

“Only in that gods-awful unsanctioned material, which they still can’t find out who’s producing them. Grruh, so annoying. Can’t you, you know, appear in front of them and put the fear of death into them?”

“That would be a horrible abuse of my powers.”

“You summoned ghosts to scare me at my twenty-fifth birthday party.”

“That was Eldrad under a bedsheet, you do know that, right?”

“So you do admit ghosts were involved,” Lofn said with tones of false accusation.

“As I was saying,” Ynnead said, getting back to the subject at hand, “There is nothing I would love to do more, but doing so would be a grievous use of my phenomenal cosmic powers. And also because I’m fairly sure my mom would ground me for about three thousand years if she found out.”

“Ground you? You’re several centuries old. Sounds to me like you are too afraid of your mother.”

“I am not too afraid of my mother. I am exactly as afraid of my mother as I need to be. I once saw her chew out the entire ruling house of Kaelor. Kaelor. What do you think your mom would do to you if you pulled something like that?”

“She’d send me back to Cadian boot camp and suddenly I see where you are going with this.”

“My point. Has been made.”

“I would probably die if I had to go back to Cadian boot camp,” Lofn said, repressing the shivers.

“If you ever die, I will play you at any game of your choosing for the chance to come back to life. Except Battleaxe. You cheat.”

“What can I say?” Lofn shrugged in pride, “I’m an Ulthran.”

“Technically so am I,” Ynnead pointed out, “Mom was what, some distant cousin or something of Eldrad’s way back before the Fall.”

“Wait, if Isha was Eldrad’s distant cousin, does that mean we’re related?”

Both Lofn and Ynnead got a look on their face as if both had stepped on a particularly foul smelling piece of grox dung.

“I really don’t like where this train of thought is going,” Ynnead said.

“Ditto.”

“Speaking of Eldrad how is the old bastard?," Lofn said, changing the subject, "I saw him the other day and he got all weepy, he wouldn’t explain to me why.”

“He! Will! Not! Leave!” Ynnead said, suddenly animated, gesticulating with his hands. “I have tried to be generous with him, given the circumstances, but he refuses to leave that wraithbone prosthetic of his. I try to point out that reincarnation is a thing and he can be young again if he wants, but he won’t do it. I try to point out that the thing he’s in is an old relic outdated by modern standards and the least he could do is upgrade to something less shitty, but he won’t because he’s afraid I’m going to snatch his soul up when he tries to transfer. At which point he usually makes some remark about knowing me since I was in diapers. At this point he’s so stubborn he might as well become a universal fixture.”

Lofn broke out laughing.

“What!” Ynnead said, “what’s so funny?”

“Can you imagine,” Lofn said between laughs, “Grandpa Eldrad. The universal constant? I can just see him sitting around, waiting for a pair of young races to go to war on whatever planet he’s on, and then he’d rise from the ground like a fucking Necron and go ‘I have awoken from my eons long slumber, to tell you kids to get off my lawn.’”

Despite his frustration, Ynnead couldn't help but snicker at that. Before long the two of them were laughing.

“Hundreds of years and he still won’t leave that wraithbone shell," Lofn sighed. "Gods, are we going to drive our kids crazy with our antics when we reach that age?”

“Yes!” Ynnead said rather too quickly, “I mean yes, I can see that. Driving our children crazy. The ones we have. With other people.”

Lofn looked at Ynnead for a second, then flopped back on the couch.

“Yeah, I can see that,” she said.

Mon'Tau[edit]

Editor's Note: Deemed non-canon for being a too on-the-nose reference, though similar events are likely to have happened, namely Kais learning to control his anger and learning that Imperials aren't as wise and all knowing as they make themselves out to be to the Tau Empire.

He rushed through the door, the elevatus doors clicking shut behind him. Kais fell to his knees and breathed a sigh of relief as he heard the splat of Blue Horrors against the door behind him. It was only when he had a moment to catch his breath that Kais realized he was separated from his team. Alone. Again.

Kais wasn’t superstitious, but the number of times this happened was almost enough to make him believe this “Murphy” the others in the Gue’vash’vre’s retinue kept talking about really existed.

The Gue’vash’vre, the Inquisitor, had been investigating a trading company looking to exploit suspicious goods that had been obtained from a Rogue Trader. The goods, sure enough, had been artifacts tainted by the Warp, and when the Gue’vash’vre had tried to intervene things had of course Gone Horribly Wrong and the artifacts had summoned daemons.

Daemons. It always had to be daemons. Or cultists. Or genestealers. Why couldn’t the Gue’vash’vre ever uncover a conspiracy that was devoted to breeding fluffy gyrinxes or something.

The vox speaker in the elevatus suddenly crackled to life. Kais perked up. He didn’t know the vox systems were still working down here. If anything it would have to be one of the traders, who he had seen run deeper into the facility when the daemons attacked.

“I’m willing to take responsibility for the horrible events of the last twenty-four hours,” the raspy voice claimed, “but you must understand, our interest in the Warp was purely for the greater good…”

Greater good? What did this gue’la take him for, a Shas’Saal? Did he think that just by saying the name of the Tau’va it would miraculously make everything that had happened justified?

He couldn’t stand these kind of people. The ones who thought hyperspace and the things inside it were just a toy. He could understand it back home in the Empire, but here? They played with fire, but they weren’t the only ones to suffer the consequences when everyone else got burned.

“Everything has clearly gotten out of hand now…”

Kais stood and took a moment to examine the corpse sharing the elevatus with him. Ever since the events of Dolumnar IV he had become familiar with the sight of death at the hands of the Neverborn. Far too familiar. He only got a glance before he had to look away, but the image was burned into his brain. He wanted to tell himself that the gue’la had died in some other way, but he knew that wasn’t true.

The man had died screaming.

Kais felt a chill run down his spine. There it was again, the same feeling he had felt on Dolumnar IV. He tried to keep it locked up, and on most days he succeeded, but sometimes it couldn’t help but get out, especially when exposed to this…this injustice.

The people he had met across the galaxy called it many things. Righteous fury. The warrior’s madness. Kais knew all they were but flowery names for what it really was.

Anger.

“…but it was worth the risk, I assure you.”

Kais put his fist through the voxcaster.

Gallery[edit]

Images that don't have a place anywhere else yet.