Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k
|The following was written and posted by LordLucan, of the www.heresy-online.net forums, from 2009 to 2010. The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k was his imagining of how the universe of Warhammer 40,000 would change by the year 50,000. As might be guessed from the title, it was an especially grimdark outlook.|
Regardless, the writing represents some of the finest Warhammer 40k fanfiction that has ever been posted to the Internet. It is with that in mind that the writing has been copied and posted here, almost word-for-word. After all, posting the stories to two sites better ensures that fans will always be able to access and enjoy the writings in times to come.
Incidentally, as of this edit, the original posts comprising The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k can be accessed via http://www.heresy-online.net/forums/showthread.php?t=51806&page=1 .
Edit: new updates here: http://www.thebolthole.org/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2890
The Shape of the Nightmare to Come 50k
Author's Aside By LordLucan
This is my 50k speculative background piece. I could only post the first few parts of my twenty-plus part full background document, due to the BL forums going down. Hope this is good enough for now. I'll update it when BL returns. Has anybody given any thought to the title and where it came from, because it seems like it was inspired by The Shape of Things to Come By H.G. Wells.
Overview of the Second Age of Strife
In the grim darkness of the 51st Millennium, the endless war continues.
There was no great conflagration or calamitous final battle.
Across the vastness of the galaxy, the Imperium died-- not with a bang, but a whimper. The galactic empire of humanity crumbled, its enemies too many, too great and too terrible to imagine. The great conflict of Octavius had no victory, a war without end. In the fiery chasm of strife, the locust and the green holocaust fused, as beast looked upon barbarian and both saw the other as kin. The new entity spread with a speed undreamt of by Ork or Tyranid. War and hunger melded into a singular desire to ravage, rape and remake all in the image of the New Devourer.
The Devourer's hybrid nightmares were regenerative and spore-born, combining into a grand horror which murdered the galaxy, leaving naught but fragments as it left. Metallic sentinels of unflinching dread rose up on some worlds, leaving them safe from the New Devourer Waaagh, but instead made them slaves to the silver sentinels, and fodder for their glowing metal gods.
The Eldar race who had held onto life for so long, slowly winked out of existence, one Craftworld at a time. Eventually even the rumbling hearts of the Avatars fell silent. For a time... In the dead Craftworlds, something slithers through the infinity circuit to this day. Unfortunately, the great god of the dead, Ynnead, is trapped within this infinity circuit, howling its mournful song into the darkness, eternally hungry in its desire to wreak vengeance on She Who Thirsts.
The Tau, naive in their hope of unity, expanded into a realm of corpses and ash. Every world they came across was dead. The hard and unpleasant task of terraforming each world turned the Tau into bitter, self-righteous beings. They were disgusted at the actions of their predecessors and vowed to not understand their fellow races, but to purge them. Only the Tau could be trusted with worlds. They decided that all others must be cast out. Watching, their patron laughed his sardonic laugh as his puppets were twisted into terrors.
The Golden Throne finally failed. No one knew for certain what happened to the Emperor. For once the throne fell, no vox or astropathic transmissions came from Terra again as warp storms engulfed the planet. The shattered remains of humanity had neither the power nor the will to return. All that is known is that the Astronomican died with the death of Terra, sputtering to nothing over the course of five hundred years. Eventually, the Imperium, its coherency lost by the splitting of its forces against the New Devourer and the sudden surge in warp storms, was shattered like glass. Chaotic cults stampeded through humanity like electrical surges in an ancient power grid.
With the death of the Emperor, The Inquisition finally lost its facade of unity, and most died, killed by the more powerful within its once hallowed ranks. The greatest Inquisitor Lords seized whole systems for themselves, becoming feudal Kings and Regents. Uniting scattered mobs of their deadly fellows around them in order to wrestle power from local governors.
The Church also shattered, becoming nothing more than a series of minor sectarian cults. All save Ophelia. The Adepta Sororitas withdrew from as many worlds as they could, and gathered around Ophelia and nearby systems. Ophelia became a vile charnel house for the Ecclesiarch, who had been driven insane by all he had seen. He gathered his Canonesses, Abbesses and Witchhunters together and put billions to the torch. Any system within range of short warp jumps (as navigators could no long make long jumps due to the warp storms) of Ophelia were terrorized by the Imperial Church, who searched desperately for someone to blame for this nightmare.
It was said that in those days, a hundred thousand 'Petty Imperia' were created from the carved-up corpse of the Imperium of Man. Each claimed legitimacy, led by a leader claiming to be chosen by the Emperor as he finally died. Some even claimed to be the Emperor reborn. Humanity, so scared in their huddled masses, believed this heresy without question, too afraid to imagine a universe without their father and protector.
The noble Space Marines fared little better. Most Chapters utterly disintegrated as their forces, who fought individual missions across the galaxy, found they could not return to their Chapter Masters. In the darkness and loneliness, many Marines chose the only path they knew: war. They became rogues and near bandits, pillaging Imperial worlds for the war effort (as they would say in justification for their actions). It was said the White Scar and Raven Guard war bands were the worst, as they were especially swift and ruthless in their pillaging.
The Black Templars retained most of their original fervor, and merely continued their crusades. They became full worshipers of the God-Emperor, and High Marshall Dorstros declared a new and greater crusade-- to destroy every human that did not submit to them and the God-Emperor, and to purge everything and everyone else. Their zealotry blinded them to their own heresies as more and leaderless Marines, desperate for orders and purpose, tagged alongside the Black Templars' crusade. Millions of rag-tag former Imperial Guard and massive mobs of flagellating Imperial Cultists quickly joined the crusades' march across the stars. Soon their depleted numbers, drained from the wars with the New Devourer, had nearly reached two thousand Astartes, representing the second largest single group of Imperial Marines still in existence (second only to Grand Sicarium). Yet, no matter how large their crusade got, the Templars were naught but a band of raving fanatics.
Ultramar was renamed Grand Sicarium under their new ruler, Cato Sicarius. His realm became a holy site for the other Ultramarine successors, their fractured remnants gathering around Ultramar like a swarm of flies. Sicarius declared himself High King, decreeing that those under his protection should worship him as the god he was. As the ruler of his own little empire, the angelic Marines and ordinary mortals under his decree became his worshipers. Upon Macragge itself, the Fortress of Obsidian was crafted; the heads of Agemman and Calgar were stuck upon great steel pikes, a grim demonstration of Sicarius' desire to rule all. Ultramar became a darker place in those centuries.
Those Forge Worlds still intact after the collapse of the Imperium either fell to Chaos or Dragon-cult invasions. Some were ransacked by rival warbands desperate for tech priest slaves to help them work their stolen technologies. These slaves became bartered like currency amongst the various larger Petty Imperia (as they became known now). Some Forge Worlds simply sealed themselves off from the galaxy entirely, their Fabricators for once preferring ignorance over knowledge of what lay beyond.
Chaos became a raging torrent in these dark millennia, rising to levels of corruption not seen since the Age of Strife. Worlds were dragged into the Warp as whole planets were overrun by rogue psykers, madmen, and monstrous Space Marines. The Chaos Legions became virtually indistinguishable from rabid bands of former loyalists. Some groups slaughtered in the name of Dark Gods, others just slaughtered.
Abaddon the Despoiler seized massive swathes of space around the Eye, being careful to not disturb the New Devourer as it blundered around him. Dodging like a skilled swimmer giving a swarm of predatory fish a wide berth, Abaddon and his 200th Black Crusade plunged into the Sol system. It is there that legend tells of the war of two spheres. Here, Abaddon faced the army of the Dragon Transcendent, a vast army of fallen Mechanicus and those same silver sentinels that already plagued thousands of worlds.
The confrontation was epic in scale. Warp-spawned magic and daemonic machinery and weaponry battled arcane weapons of unimaginable power. The vast serried ranks of Necron and Pariah, which covered nearly every solid world in the Sol system like a silver carpet. In the end, Abaddon was forced to merely surround the Oort cloud. The Dragon had ensured the solar system was his. His, save for a single orb of diamond-hard stubbornness: Titan. It stood a stony fortress, its doors sealed from the Necrons by adamantium and heavy cannons, its soul sealed from Abaddon by the cold steel cage of faith encasing the hearts of the Grey Knights and Custodian Guard trapped upon the world. All other humans on the world had perished a thousand years previously, yet the ancient warriors stood firm, a shadow of the Imperium's past glory.
In the turbulent energies of the Warp, the Chaos Gods also suffered, for with the end of the Emperor, something else was stirred. Birthed upon the death of the Carrion Lord on Terra, the Starchild suckled upon the rag and religious lunacy of the dying Imperium, consuming every soul remaining upon Terra in its birth pangs. This is what killed the Astronimicon. Ophelia became a focus for this dark zeal. At the dawn of the 50th millennium, the Starchild became the Star Father, and the Warp became a battleground. For a brief instance (or perhaps an eternity-- in the warp, none can tell for sure) the Star Father became dominant over the Chaos foes. Then, with the sickening inevitability of the great game of Chaos, the Star Father became one amongst the five, a god of order amongst gods of chaos.
Where they spread chaos, He spread oppression. Where their daemons were feral nightmares that rend souls, His daemons were faceless automata enslaving the souls of humans into servitude. The Star Father's daemon worlds sprung up in the Eye and across the galaxy in the closing millenia of this dark age. They were globes of featureless gold, with golden faceless daemons and billions of mindless, empty humans. The inhabitants of these worlds shuffled across the surface for no particular reason until they simply died of starvation or fatigue.
It is the 51st Millennium and I cannot wake up from this nightmare! I cannot wake up!
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 05: The Adamantine Worlds: The Adeptus Mechanicus, The Awakening, and The War of Two Spheres
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 07: The Crusade of Insanity: The Templars on the Rampage
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 08: Ravagers and Rogues: Piracy in the Second Age of Strife
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 12: Warriors of Fortune: Mercenaries in the Second Age of Strife
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 15: The Dying: Biel-Tan, the Eldar, and the Lord of the Dead
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 18: The Xenos Resurgent: Alien Empires of the Second Age of Strife
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 20: The Hammer Shattered: What Happened to the Imperial Guard?
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 21: The Psychic Apocalypse, The Black Ships, and the Nex…
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 22: The Blood and the Sword: Blood Knights of Baal, and the Legacy of Mephiston the Undying