Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section09

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Section 09: The Unseen Wars[edit]

The 51st millennium is a period of immense distrust and mutual loathing. Man turned upon man, as he is depressingly wont to do throughout history, and the Petty Imperiums, Xenos conglomerates, and various other interstellar nations and powers, closed off their borders in deathly fear of taint. Interstellar traffic became isolated into pockets, focussed around the grim little clusters of systems carved out by their ruthless feudal masters.

Espionage, assassinations and spying missions became far more common than in any period previously. Many mundane spies, from millions of worlds, sauntered undetected upon rival enemy soil, watching, interfered and occasionally, murdering. All to advance the agendas of their individual employers.

Of course, like a viper amongst grass snakes, these relatively harmless snoops were far from the only unseen forces, plying their deadly and deceitful trades across the harsh galaxy.

On the dark day of the Emperor’s death, survivor’s claim a series of most mysterious events occurred. It was claimed that the Custodians were abroad in Terras streets. All of them. No explanation was given, and any Arbites patrols which challenged them were instantly swatted aside. Valdor himself led the march, his eyes aflame with sorrow, mixed with mute fury. Nobody knew why they moved through the city, until they entered the grounds of the Assassinorum temples. Supposedly hidden from all, the custodies found it instantly, and, with great fury, they battered down the doors. Upon doing so, they found each and every temple empty. Well, not quite empty. The Grand Master, obviously expecting guests, had left almost a thousand Eversor Assassins behind. The battle was fierce and brutal. Many Custodes died, as did Eversor. Eventually, the fight spilled out into the pilgrim-choked streets. Though only a few hundred Eversor were left, they used the swelling crowds to their advantage, attacking the golden giants while bogged down amongst millions of terrified, screaming pilgrims. However, the Custodes, with great wrath and fury, slew all the Eversors, which blew up all around, collapsing buildings and cratering roads, as thousands of men and women suddenly died in these biological detonations.

Instead of returning to the palace, these apparently-heretical Custodes requisitioned transports, and made all speed to Titan. It was said their leader had tears in his eyes, mouthing the words ‘Absolution’.

By the time various Inquisitors had managed to wrangle a large enough force of Imperial Guard, Terran PDF bio-supermen, Imperial Fists, and Arbites, and charged into the palace to defend the now-defenceless Emperor. However, it was too late. The throne had failed. The Emperor was dead, and a tide of pure warpish nightmares was pouring forth. The Inquisitors and Fists tried their best, but soon the entire palace was overrun, and soon after, the whole world.

Though the rest of the Fists off world (who we will discuss later) never saw the battle, it was said the last living beings on Terra were the Imperial Fists, who fought the thick tide of daemons, until the twisted daemon flesh literally buried them, and even then, beneath the seething tide of filth, rumbling detonations signaled the Fists still lived below, at least for a few defiant hours after being overwhelmed.

These witness accounts raise serious questions. Why did the custodians flee? Or were they ordered to? If so, what had the Emperor seen? Why did the Custodes assault the Assassin Temples so viciously? Where was the Grand Master and his disciples? And, most importantly, what happened to the Emperor?

Of these questions, only a few have potential answers. The question of the Assassinorum is one such question. The Officio seemed to vanish in the first five hundred years of M42. However, eventually, brief glimpses of black-garbed beings cropped up, across every Imperium, from the western Chaos Imperium, to the ash fields of the Imperium of the White Eyed Devils.

Some were obviously rogue assassins, randomly striking at centres of government, because they had no orders, and had no idea how to integrate into normal society. These twisted, delusional beings believed that the natural state of affairs of planets was to have no Governors or Officials. They had been raised since childhood to believe that slaying these targets was the height of piety. Hence, since governors were the most common target in their past lives, these child-like rogues continued to slay the governors of their worlds. In one extreme case, one Callidus assassin was said to have killed every Governor of the Industrial World Gox, for forty years. Every time a replacement inherited the title, the delusional assassin, believing all governors to be wrong, killed each and every one, each time in a different way and in a different guise. Eventually, the desperate government of the world hired Demiurg mercenaries, to scan for polymorph traces. The trail led to a run down hab district. To be sure of execution, the whole hab complex was burned down. The attacks stopped.

Of course, others seemed to be much more sinisterly organised. Strategic targets were struck. Merchants were killed, or their families intimidated. These scared groups of traders and petty profiteers often ended up allying together for protection, and used their resources to hire forces from various Imperiums to protect them from assassins. This led, in some remote regions, to Imperiums beginning to offer conditional non-aggression pacts with each other. Of course, these were very fragile things, and often fell apart at the slightest provocation. However, it showed that the Assassins, perhaps consciously or intentionally, were trying to knit the Imperium back together. Not that the petty warlords appreciated this, as any captured assassins were tortured, interrogated, and burned alive. Those Callidus, Vindicare, and Coleus assassins caught would only say one word to their captors, before being executed. “Heracles.”

In contrast, throughout the 51st Millennium, as if the constant brutality, wars and general paranoia did not make the period miserable enough, several factions of the dreaded Alpha Legion began to spring up once more. Of course, no marines were ever actually seen, only the crude painted Hydra symbols left at the scenes of carnage they left in their wake. Bombs were planted, pro-alliance officials butchered or brutally maimed. In some cases, important defensive secrets of several Imperiums were sold by mysterious Alpha Legion spies, to rival Imperiums or Xenos empires, who promptly used this knowledge to then destroy their foes, out of nothing more than bloody-minded spite.

Everywhere alliances were induced by the Officio Assassinorum, so they were shattered by the even more mysterious Alpha Legion’s agents.

No one truly knows how many Alpha Legionnaires died during the first thousand years of the M42, but most agree, very few survived the New Devourer. Thus, the remaining Alpha Legion became far, far more devious. Legion cells were so excellently hidden, they weren’t uncovered until the bombs or whatever attack planned, went off. It is suspected many of their servants are not even Astartes, and work amongst the other citizens of the galaxy, sowing discord discreetly.

However, it was clear the two organisations, assassins and Alpha Legion, were at war. Sometimes this was political, sometimes it became direct, with brutally quiet street brawls and backstreet executions being the main battleground betwixt the two forces. Both sides had little idea of what the purpose of the war was, but in general, the war was kept as a secret, hidden war. The unseen war, fought beneath the feet of humanity. As war raged between vast armies and squalid empires, so too did each set of spies and assassins try to outsmart or outmaneuver the other. Due to the secrecy of the conflict, little is known about either side.

It is known that several robed marines may be connected to the Alpha Legion, one going by the title ‘the Voice-Answered’, a mysterious fellow, wielding two pistols, but no other weapons. Once, it was said he wielded a sword, but evidently no longer.

Of course, this war of subterfuge and murder, was not as simple as a mere fight between Assassin and Terrorist. Several other factions muddied the waters. A Cabal of mysterious beings was known to be in contact with both sides, and engaged in a strange covert war of their own. The mythical bendies became more prevalent, in particular onboard Adeptus Mechanicus vessels, often murdering suspected Dragon-Cultists and C’tanists in their beds, and dragging them off into the darkness. These strange beings were in constant contact with the Cabal, and the Assassins (it is claimed). Unforgiven, the last few hundred surviving Dark Angels and successors, fought guerrilla wars against any suspected Legion or chaos strongholds across the galaxy, their numbers too small and too scattered now to fight truescale wars. It is known they in particular hated the hooded marines aiding the Legion, and often made special effort in seeking out these marines, and killing them painfully. Telion and his ‘grey cloaks’ were almost folk heroes amongst Post-Imperial citizens across the south eastern Ultima Segmentum. They came to a world, unseen, and destroyed corrupt rulers or criminally hateful villains, before disappearing into the void once more. Some claimed them to be a myth, to cover the tracks of unruly peasants, but some suspected otherwise.

Thus, we can see, the galaxy churned with war, across every world, at every level. No one was safe from the bone-crushing agony of living in the Second Age of Strife.

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

  • The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 09: The Unseen Wars

Continued in Warhammer 60K: Age of Dusk