Saturday, 21 May 2011

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

They will wake the one who sleeps

They will wake the one who sleeps

It just didn't make any sense. Inquisitor Huron sighed heavily as he began reading through his log for the fifth time in the last hour. The dim light in the stark and spartan cabin of the Imperial cruiser Black Prince wasn't helping much either. Besides, he should really be investigating the Claws of Lorek and their ambitions, not this.

Huron had been travelling with Admiral Dreyer's fleet for over a month, heading into the Perseus Deeps and joining the crusade against chaos instigated by General Veers. The Inquisitor lord had an interest in crushing the heretics, and knew very well the consequences that would follow were the forces of chaos to unite under one banner. It was not however chaos which brought him into the dark places of the galaxy, far from the light of Imperial civilisation. No. It was much worse.

First, there was the prophecy. Written in an old language few loremasters of the 41st millenium had any knowledge of, Huron had managed to get it translated. Not that well apparently, as the grammar made for poor reading:

When chaos reigns in the Deeps,
they will wake the one who sleeps.
His metal ghosts will walk abroad,
and put his cattle to the sword.
They will sate his greatest need,
upon all races will they feed!

So far Huron had managed to piece together much of the meaning with reference to old and somewhat heretical scripts, as well as some of xenos origin. What he did know was that the Perseus Deeps were old. Millennia ago the density wave which formed the spiral arms of the galaxy had passed through this area of space, invigorating star formation and creating the ideal conditions for the growth of life and civilisation. Gone were those days. The larger, brighter stars had long since flickered and died or obliterated themselves in dramatic supernovae. All that remained were the long lived red dwarf stars and an all pervasive cloud of dust and gas. Out here days were dim and nights black as obsidian, distant younger stars glittering in the night sky of long dead worlds testament to their former glory. The spiral had moved on, and the civilisations which had once populated the Perseus Deeps were nought but ash...

Or so the Imperial texts explained. Now mankind laid claim to the stars and those dead worlds between the spiral arms were of no consequence. Poor in resources and of little strategic value, worlds in the Deeps were now home to bandits, raiders and the heretical outcasts of the Imperium. Orks of course were an ever present danger and other races also made their home here, but so long as the Imperium stood watch, there was no need to venture far into the Deeps, there was no threat.

If the forces of chaos had not begun to muster their armies and fleets here, Inquisitor Huron would not have been interested when the small world of Gamador and its meagre colonial population had stopped all communication. Local folk tales of an enslaving army of metal warriors would have gone unheeded. But Huron was here, and although no member of the Ordo Xenos, he had heard these stories before.

Necrons. That could be the only explanation. That much made sense. When the ancient race of the Necrontyr was at its height, they must have had a presence in the Deeps at a time when its stars were young and bright. Perhaps some remnant of that once great civilisation lived on. Perhaps they were just old folk tales. Huron could have let it go, he had far more pressing matters, but then the news from Malius arrived.

Huron had sent a spy ship, a cloaked vessel utilising arcane technology that only an Inquisitor lord knew how to obtain, to monitor the movements of the Claws of Lorek, the thrice damned traitors who were trying to unite chaos where the Imperium's hold was weak. His vessel had tracked the traitors to Malius but then lost contact. Something had happened. At great risk a small team ventured to the surface but found nothing except the signs of battle. Until the third day. The Adeptus Mechanicus agent Huron had sent identified a strange repeating digital signal from deep under the planet's crust, and with each passing day the signal increased in intensity. Placing an automated relay on the surface, the team had left.

Worrying signs. Huron rubbed his tired eyes and once again read his notes and was stumped by the prophecy. The one who sleeps. The rest of the prophecy was, once translated, painfully unsubtle, and it was coming to pass. The traitorous and foolish heretics had awoken the Necrons on Malius and it appeared Gamador had also awoken. Huron's scouting force to that world had barely escaped and the Inquisitor had lost a whole company of the Imperial Guard regiment he had requisitioned for the Veer's crusade, something that irritated him even more.

The one who sleeps.
Who or what could that mean?

Knocking interrupted Huron's concentration. By the second knock he realised there was someone at the door.

"Come", Huron said, looking up as the pallid face of his scribe, Tyhrmenius poked round the cabin entrance.

"Lord, there is more news."

Tyhrmenius was clearly agitated, and Huron beckoned him in.

"Tell me", Huron's voice stern but calm.

Tyhrmenius rushed in, moving to the room's lectern which housed the holographic display. After several seconds of urgent fiddling the holograph lit up, presenting both men with a three dimensional schematic of the Perseus Deeps. Five systems were flashing.

"See my lord?" said the scribe, looking anxiously at Huron.

Huron did see. Malius and Gamador were there, both flashing icons, but now also three more systems, Cathasaea, Enaloth and Aganthus. A data readout picked out in light scrolled past each one. The same pulsing signal first recorded at Malius. A countdown. A countdown to what?

They will wake the one who sleeps

A feeling of dread was settling in Huron's consciousness.

"Get me Lord General Roover, Admirals Magnus, Jellicoe, Dreyer and General Veers." He said quietly.

Tyhrmenius looked shocked.

"All of them?!"

"Yes dammit, all of them!"

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Chronicle of Namhaft

Private Drayton died in a spray of gore. The first bolter round had struck him in the shoulder, the second blew a hole straight through is torso. The third shot splattered brain matter over the other his squad mates. The guardsmen turned in shock as fifty iron clad giants lumbered through a dark tear in reality. The terminators mercilessly dispatched the other members of the enemies rearguard platoon before they could even fire a shot. The sounds of battle echoed from over the rise of the green hill. General Garenth smiled to himself as he watched the battle unfold. The advance of the traitor marines had begun to falter as the heavy artillery, positioned near the top of the slope, opened up.

" You see Eremus? These traitorous dogs are no match for a well placed earthshaker round. And to think that you were worried about facing these scum."

He paused for a moment as an enemy land raider blew out under sustained fire from the weapons teams in the ruins on the right flank.

"I shall have to commend Sergeant Tarsaul again, his men always seem to be in the right place at the right time."

A mere second after that a battle cannon from the enemy lines blew the position apart.
"Or not, so it would seem. Order Carmel's platoon to take up that positon would you Eremus. I think he will he would like the chance to get to grips with the enemy. I wouldn't like such a talented man as he to spend the entire battle guarding the rear. Move Frapelli's lot to replace him."

"Sir, I'm not getting a response from Sergeant Carmel."

Suddenly an eerie silence fell across the battlefield as the artillery pieces upon the top of the hill ceased firing.

" What does Peten thinks hes doing? Those guns should have enough ammuniton to last a ......"

Upon viewing the guns, the actual reason for them falling silent became apparent as Garenth watched fifty terminators emerge from the fires of the destroyed guns. The leader of this new threat was a terrible sight to behold. Eremus vomited at the sight. Garenth's nose beagn to bleed spontaneously as did the noses of the other members of his retinue. The figure raised his head to the heavens and let out a yell that echoed across the battlefield, his voice amplified by an unknown means.

"Iron Within!"

Every warrior in the enemy force replied as one.

"Iron Without!"

With this the traitors main battle line surged foreword, the Imperial's main line opened up but seemed to be ineffective. Garenth still stared at the towering lord of darkness, unable to look away, even as the terminators began to slaughter Sergeant Frapelli's platoon. The sound of Eremus's crying brought him back into reality. He unsheathed his glimmering power sword and pointed it towards the advancing marines.

"Men of Mordholt, the traitorous enemy commander has revealed himself. Cut of the head and the body shall fall. With me! Charge!"

Two hundred guardsmen joined the charge, screaming curses at the enemy and chanting prayers of cleansing. Robed priests were at the head of the advance, revving their chainswords at the prospect of engaging these traitors to the God-Emperor. As the last of Frapelli's men were finished off, the terminators turned to engage this new threat. Reaper autocannons roared and the chatter of combi-bolters filled the air. The imperials answered with a withering hail of las shots and plasma rounds, seven terminators fell to the initial volley. As the advancing tide of soldiers neared, heavy flamers doused the first few ranks in liquid fire. Men scremed and fell to the ground. The smell of burnt meat and promethium filled the air. Only one hundred and twenty guardsmen reached the lines of the marines. Bayonet met powerfist. For every terminator that fell the imperials lost at least six men.

The fighting was brutal. Garenth swung at a huge monstrosity. His power sword cleaved through the beast armour with ease, severing its arm at the elbow. The giant swung back with his remaining arm, his armoured gauntlet putting Garenth down on his back. He moved to get up, the ends of his broken ribs grinding together. He pushed past the pain, rising to meet the terminator again. The broken body of Eremus lay at its feet, his head in its hand. The giant looked at and hurled the head of Garenth's voxman at him. Dodging the severed head, Garenth lunged forward in a rage, severing the marines remaining hand before cutting its head off with the reverse stroke. Its giant form wobbled for a second before falling upon a limping guardsman, killing him instantly.

A vast shadow fell across Garenth from behind. As he turned he froze in horror as he saw the form of the enemy lord enter his view. Garenth had faced many terrible foes during his time but this was by far the worst. It very presence seemed to defy nature, the grass underfoot turned to ash with its every step. The air became stagnant whilst any water vapour turned to ice and drifted to the blood-soaked ground.

The giant was busy gutting Garenth's standard bearer, a friend for decades, with its pair of shimmering lightning claws. He shook of the effects of the lord's presence and lunged to engage the foul beast. It turned just in time to deflect his initial blow, immediately muttering a praise to something called Tzeentch. Garenth never even got to take a second blow as the lord's other gore covered claw swung upwards, lodging itself under Garenth's ribcage.

Lord Namhaft lifted the squirming maggot that had killed Brother Travidius. Even moments before its death it still defied him, spitting at the insignia of the dark gods on his chest armour. The creature began to chant a prayer to its corpse-god. He laughed.

"The false-emperor cannot hear you mortal. Give your praises to Grandfather Nurgle and you may yet be spared from an eternity of suffering in the warp. The true gods hear and see all."

The pathetic creature gasped for air, both its it lungs punctured. It tried to speak but only blood came from its mouth. Defiance was still in its eyes. Around him, the last of the imperials were being rounded up. Those not intact were offered as a sacrifice for the gods. The few hundred left were shackled and led back to the Iron Warriors encampment. They would be put to work building trenches, temples and fortifications as Namhaft exapanded the influence of Lord Perturabo throughout the sector.

The mortal that clung to its miserable life, still on his blades, was not of any use. He ended its existence with a swipe from the claw on his index finger, offering the severed head to the Khorne.

"Iron Within!" He bellowed in triumph.

"Iron Without" Screamed back his Iron Warriors.

General Obsidius Hakor Garenth, hero of Mordholt, servant of the Emperor, was left to rot on the fields of his homeland, along with the bodies of nine thousand of his loyal guardsmen. The last line of defence to the capital was now gone and the millions of civilians were at the meracy of Lord Namhaft, chosen of Perturabo, the butcher of Hellcorst Maximus.