Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section05

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Section 05: The Adamantine Worlds: The Adeptus Mechanicus, The Awakening, and The War of Two Spheres[edit]

The Adeptus Mechanicus, unlike all other branches of the ruined Imperium, did not collapse with the loss of the Astronomicon. Their end came from a far more shameful reason.

The Machine Cult had always been distinct from the rest of the Imperial society. Always there have been Ministorum clerics who frown on calling the Emperor 'Omnissiah', and magi who chaffe at the idea of some unaugmented Terran claiming lordship over their church. As a result of this friction, the Forge Worlds had always operated more independently than the average Imperial world. Forge Worlds communicated through the Mechanicus' esoteric Manifold system rather than standard astrotelepathy, further widening the cultural divide.

During the collapse of the Imperium, the Mechanicus continued on much as they did before, albeit with less active personnel since they could no longer receive food shipments from agri-worlds to feed all their adepts. Physical contact between Forge Worlds and outlying research stations was also mostly extinguished, as the explorator fleets had not yet invented a replacement for Navigators. Yet, the Mechanicus could not capitalize upon this advantageous position. Each individual Forge World possessed massive strategic resources, but these were too valuable to be risked in the dangers of warp travel, and so meant nothing at the galactic level. Seeing this weakness, the more opportunistic Petty Imperiums began using their superior numbers to raid the starving Forge Worlds. Those Tech Priests stationed on non-Mechanicus worlds and star ships were indentured by their employers. These isolated Machine Cultists were forced to declare oaths of servitude to their new masters. Inquisitor Delphain's Imperium greatly benefited from this practice, filling his arsenals with many terrible weapons.

The Petty Imperiums (not to mention the countless pirate bands and daemon-worshiping cults), realized they desperately required Mechanicus expertise in order to maintain the technology looted from the late Imperium. Trafficking in Tech Priests quickly became a very lucrative trade. Mechanicum vessels were ambushed when they burst back into the materium after perilous warp transits, their under-supplied crews no match for the highly motivated raiders. Forge Worlds were besieged in some extreme cases, often assaulted by brief alliances of several Petty Imperiums. These alliances would quickly crumble once their leaders began to squabble over who would get the largest shares of the human and technological plunder.

To combat this, the Forge Worlds were forced to pour their dwindling resources into their military forces. Each Skitarii army would have to defend its own Forge World, without any hope of off-world support. Thus, they had to expand into nearby resource worlds. Forge Worlds lucky enough to have some Agri Worlds or mining colonies nearby lost no time in subjugating these precious areas, setting up vast defence stations around these worlds. It was said any world without a dense forest of gun platforms and space stations was doomed. Agri Worlds controlled by a Forge World became known as 'bullet farms', as every plantation had a battalion of Skitarii stationed in it.

Most Forge Worlds followed this policy, but others followed different doctrines of the Cult Mechanicus. Some Forges were heavily influenced by the dreaded Innovator Cults, and contemplated the worst heresy possible: developing new technology and armaments. The Forge World of Griminnar was the main forge to actually put this policy into practice. The dead ruins of Griminnar still howl with the mechanical cries of orphaned monsters, and technologies that shouldn't be trifled with.

Some Forge Worlds, like dread Caltar, became even more isolationist than before, sealing their worlds from the outside universe. The Magi of Caltar sent out their few remaining Naval vessels to every world within reach. Those not already left barren by the New Devourer, were made so by multiple virus barrages, before the ash-fields left in the exterminatus' wake were then laced with toxic chemicals, which prevented any terra-forming to ever take place again. Thus, surrounded by a network of dead worlds, these forges sealed shut, and many of the highest Magi retreated deep under the surface. To survive, the workforce were slowed, over the course of a thousand years, rendered down into fleshy substances, remade as servitors, or fed to the few remaining Magi, via feeding tubes and osmosis chambers. These worlds became underground, twisted metal hellscapes, filled with cybernetic zombies, and ruled by ravenous, cannibalistic Tech Priests, who were now virtually nothing more than spidery, cloaked machines, covered in twisted structures, which barely kept their wasted rotten flesh from dying.

Of course, some forge worlds were subverted by a previously weak cult, following their respective periods of isolation; the Cult of the Dragon. These forge worlds seemed to churn out technology far above their skills, and this technology diffused into every strata of the hierarchy. Serfs and Slave Workers began using the sophisticated cutting tools brought to them, the thick green beams far in advance of anything previously seen. Mid range tech Adepts began to utilise strange technologies, apparently from the dark age, which could teleport them around the forges safely, without fear of daemonic attack, for the teleportation devices did not send them through the warp. Even the highest level, the Fabricator and his Magi, would begin to use sophisticated semi-solid metal alloys, which apparently resisted the aging process entirely. Of course, day by day, inch by inch, the forge world was subverted. When the great silver vessels came for them, and they moved to attack these forces, they found their weapons useless, as their technology itself rebelled against their masters. Their odd green energy weapons failed to fire, teleporters teleported unfortunates inside ferrocrete walls, or simply into the void. The great silver fleets arrived, and enslaved the worlds within hours, as the tiny Dragon Cults on the worlds struck deals with their silver overlords. These worlds' central forge complexes were stripped down and converted, becoming great glowing green gates, which pulsed with vile un-life. The populations of these worlds were herded into the vast gates, where they were stripped down into their component atoms, and pulsed away somewhere. Those Cultists who loyally stood by and watched, as their brethren were destroyed, were rewarded the gift of immortality. Their bodies were painfully broken, and metallic additions were grafted into their still living bodies. Their minds were scoured. Those who showed signs of blankness were remade as tall, strong-limbed Pariah machines, while the others were simply stripped of all conscious thought, and were grafted into the workings of the machines themselves, by the mechanical spyders which roamed across these cold metallic Forge Worlds.

Across the collapsing galaxy, hundreds of forge worlds fell this way, the souls of their populace fed into the central core of a vast web of ethereal horror, all channeled into the world whose name lived in infamy for countless millennia to come: Mars.

Mars was near the centre of the Emperor's fall. The Tech Priests were driven utterly insane by this sudden realisation that their Omnissiah was no more. Some tried vainly to claim He had merely turned into nought but information, the Machine God made pure, but their voices were drowned out by the increasingly insane ramblings of the divided rival cults across the planet. Fanning the flames of this madness was the nauseating waves of warp psychosis, rippling through the void, and driving their souls to madness. The Cult Of the Dragon grew marginally in numbers, but mostly retreated to the Noctis Labyrinth, where the taint of the warp was extinguished by powerful, mysterious wards. Here, they awaited the awakening of their true master, the true Machine God incarnate (in their opinion of course); The Void Dragon.

During the 41st Millennium, five of the Dragon's silver vessels managed to land upon Mars, depositing an item of extreme importance to the Star God's dread plans. The item was a vast, monolithic block of metal. It writhed with unseen power, and seemed to exist in a rectangular shape through choice, rather than through physical necessity. It was the Dragon's Necrodermis, his metal flesh. However, it was not until the fall of the Emperor, that the Void Dragon's essence was finally free from its binding. Unlike the other star gods, it did not burst forth then and attack. It was not rash and foolish, like the Nightbringer. It instead waited, as the converted Forge Worlds across the galaxy, fed into its chamber, filling it with revitalising and delicious energy.

Once it did arise, however, it was almost as powerful as it had been before it had ever been struck by the Talisman of Vaul. With cold fury, the Void Dragon conquered Mars, easily batting aside the sporadic, gibbering armies of the Martians. The vaults were plundered. All the lethal, forbidden technologies, were fixed and perfected, and those weapons kept only due to stupid ignorance, were discarded. The Solar System, at this moment, was not equipped to face the Dragon's sudden onslaught, and world after world fell, and every fleet was combated and defeated. Only Titan held out against the Star God, but we shall discuss the valiant and stubborn defence of Titan, by the Custodes-in-exile and the Grey Knights, at a later stage.

Thus, with the Solar System secured, the Void Dragon turned its ancient gaze outwards, coveting the realm of life and sentience, denied him for so long. Fortunately for the Galaxy, an unlikely saviour intervened in that same year.

Screaming across the void, streaming for the eye like a vile spew of vomit and pus, Abaddon the Despoiler, the dark leader of the Western Chaos Imperium, was expanding beyond his already extensive borders. With his Legions of monstrous Astartes, his countless billions of the Despoiled, his fallen Cadian army, backed up by countless demonic engines and vile, semi-living demonic vessels, and renegade formerly-Imperial fleets, the chaos lord promised that he would finally seize the Solar System, and make his ultimate victory complete. As it transpired, he was beaten to it by the great C'tan.

The War of the Two Spheres began in earnest, when his initial vanguard fleets surged forth from the warp, and were instantly engaged and destroyed by vast, silver ships, shimmering with arcane power. The Despoiler, in his fury, deployed more and more vessels, hoping to engage and destroy these interlopers. He would not be denied his prize!

The Necron Vessels of the Dragon, however, were far too powerful and, above all, maneuverable. Only the most corrupt and demonic vessels could effectively hold off the Necron Ships. Slowly, it seemed as though the Forces of the dragon Ascendant, would push back Abaddon, and perhaps even begin counter-invasion. The battles fought in the war could fill a library themselves, such was the dark legends birthed from that cataclysmic war. From the lead-melting hell of Venus, where specially-designed molten Necron constructs battled hellfire daemons, and Astartes and mortal vaporised in the heat, to the unforgivably cold expanses of Europa, where mighty Necron-tainted titans, and spidery metallic creatures from ancient myth, wrestled great tentacled Tzeentchian nightmares, and monsters dragged all below the icy crust, to their doom; all seemed to be turning against Abaddon. No matter the infernal fury of his constructs, Legions of fanatics and daemons, he could not match the dreadful majesty of the Void Dragon's forces. It was master of the Void, and everything in it. On the very surface of the sun, it strangled the life from a summoned Skarbrand. It slew the entire army of Fellshan Torben, a dread Daemon Prince that was old when humanity was young.

Abaddon grew desperate. Throughout the Oort cloud, the hollow sphere region of comets which orbited Solar, the Despoiler dropped spawn. All the billions of spawn birthed by aborted ascensions were dumped on the frozen comets. Using vile sorcery, these spawn were filled with the dreadful Obliterator virus, driving their bodies to expand and twist ever more than before, as billions of tons of machinery and weaponry were spewed forth from the chaotic monsters, fusing into horrific merged constructs barely resembling anything in reality should ever resemble. Through ruined lungs, and innumerable twisted vox mouths, Abaddon's Dark Mechanicus servants pumped scrap code and logic daemons, distorting reality itself for light minutes in all directions.

Even as the Void Dragon slaughtered the last of Abaddon's forces within the Solar System, Abaddon and the majority of his forces outside the Solar System, beyond the Oort Cloud, sealed the trap. The giant obliterator spawn were spewing forth anti-machine energies, straight from the warp, in a perfect sphere around the entire Solar System. The void dragon tried to send his forces beyond the cloud. However, as soon as they tried to push their way through the cloud, their machines would fail, and self destruct, lest chaos contaminate the Necron Nodal net.

The howl of the Dragon at that moment, so the legend goes, reverberated throughout the galaxy. He had escaped one trap, only to be lured into another.

Abaddon had sealed the Dragon away in the Solar System out of mere hate and spite, yet unbeknownst to him, he had possibly saved the entire galaxy, as it cut the awakening Necron forces from their master, and thus they returned to dormant mode across the galaxy, merely securing the local area around their Tomb Worlds, in preparation for the next call to arms.

Of course, saving the galaxy is a relative term. For thousands of years after this period, things went from bad to worse for every inhabitant of the Milky Way. False gods rose, tyrants butchered millions, Forge Worlds became ever more violent and isolated, and humanity fragmented into ever more ignorant and brutish factions, as a new, far worse power arose in the hearts of the deluded. Also, the Necrons only had to wait a few thousand years, before they returned to their original destiny. For, as the galaxy at large would come to realise, the Void Dragon was only one C'tan…

The Shape of the Nightmare to Come: Section Navigation[edit]

  • The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 05: The Adamantine Worlds: The Adeptus Mechanicus, The Awakening, and The War of Two Spheres

Continued in Warhammer 60K: Age of Dusk