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My first ever short story, so be blunt and cruel.
It may be the part of a bigger thing if its well received, and it introduces the three main characters of my World Eaters Army.
The cultured amongst you may notice where the names have been taken from, which is as with most GW stuff, Hell.
+ + “Do not mistake me for a simpleton, Inquisitor. Do you think I have lived for ten thousand years by charging recklessly into the fray? Do you think I have spent the last one hundred centuries simply baying for blood? You are a fool to think us bloodthirsty savages, that the spilling of blood is all we live for, and it is your folly that has condemned this system to death. What I want is here, Inquisitor, and when the last drop of Hellassian blood falls to the earth I will claim my reward.” + +
Attributed to Dreadlord Asphodel Nyx.
Like crimson tears they fell, pouring from the lacerated sky on a tsunami of blood craving fury and hellish torment. Hundreds of dreadclaw drop pods descended upon Halphas like a plague of locusts, whilst the Onyx Deliverer, the mighty strike cruiser of the Dreadlord poured barrage after barrage onto the walls of the capital city.
If a city could feel emotion, Halphas would be screaming.
Asphodel Nyx stood astride his lieutenants, Blood Priest Lix Tetrax and Harvester Valak Xaphon on the bridge of the Deliverer and smiled as he watched the carnage unfold. It pleased him immensely to be the first entity in the galaxy to invade Hellas Prime, and the fact his plans had come together so perfectly justified his delight.
The pains he had gone to, the torment he suffered in dealing with such vile creatures as the Dark Eldar, had finally shown their worth and created a suitable diversion to distract the Hellassians long enough for the fate of Hellas Prime to be sealed. Promises of power and glory, Nyx had learned, lost their sway over time, but to the naïve and ignorant they presented limitless opportunities and a whisper in the ear can claim more souls than the guns of a thousand men. Such promises were made to the poor unfortunate soul who deemed fit to disable the cities defences, leaving the capital city, Helphas, vulnerable to assault from the skies. Such promises, Nyx had learned, were rarely kept.
‘Are you going to grace the Governor with your presence, my Lord, or simply let Lethe and Charon have their fun?’ asked Xaphon with a wry smile. He knew full well that Nyx could barely restrain himself any longer.
‘Of course. They have strict orders not to kill the governor, lest it be their blood spilled in return.’ He clicked the comm link on the control panel in front of him. ‘Tantalus, ready your Raptors for immediate descent.’ He shut off the comm without waiting for a response. He knew Tantalus well and aside from himself and possibly Xaphon, he was the finest warrior in the warband. So fine a warrior, Nyx had reminded himself on more than one occasion, that he will have designs on his own warband sooner rather than later, and that warband would likely be Nyx’s.
‘Are we to convert, or to destroy?’ Blood Priest Tetrax spoke up. Blunt and to the point, Tetrax found the preamble of titular reference disturbing and dispensed with it some time ago. Such insolence was the catalyst for his departure from the Imperial Fists some two thousand years earlier. That, and the removal of the heads of his superior and two dozen initiates.
‘Convert where possible. Those in supplication will give their blood gladly when the time comes, but ultimately, every man, woman and child on this planet is going to die, gladly or otherwise.’
Tetrax nodded and slunk back into the shadows, his fingers gently rapping against his long, black staff. ‘Perhaps a prayer?’ he offered.
Asphodel nodded and dropped to one knee before the Blood Priest, Xaphon doing likewise.
If Halphas was screaming now, it would be silent soon enough.
Governor Jonas Dane was everything an Imperial Governor should be. He loved his world and those under his command like they were his sons, he strove for the betterment of his society and his people loved him in return. He was prompt and efficient with every aspect of Imperial Administration, but he was not a warrior.
He was a coward. Quaking with fear at the sight of almost a hundred blood red warriors storming his walls he felt his bladder weaken. His fear turned to terror as the mutilated remains of the general of his armies, Colonel Strasz, was flung through his window, his detached head landing a few feet away with his eyes open in abject horror. He screamed a silent scream and tears began to stream down his cheeks. Then, silence. Panic gripped as the disquieting silence enveloped him, knowing that the internal sentry guns of his palace had been disabled.
No. He must be stronger than this. His people deserved more than this. His astropath. His astropath could transmit a message, a call for aid. With luck there may be allies close by, Space Marines, Titans even.
He slammed his fist against the internal communicator. ‘An astropath, by Terra, get me a damned astropath in here now!’ After a few seconds of static a voice responded. ‘She’s dead, sir. Not that it matters, we’re all going to be dead in a minute.’
Defeated, he slumped to the floor. He activated the comm link again, his voice barely a whisper. ‘Did she manage to get any sort of message out?’
‘I think so, sir, although her head was severed during transmission. We don’t know if she got any message out at all, although to be honest, I’m not altogether sure how these mutants work. For all I know the message could still be in her head. Perhaps we could send that up in a shuttle?’
Dane groaned. ‘Idiot.’ He said to himself and terminated the link. Moments later the corridors were filled with the whirring of chain blades, gunshots and the screams of men. He turned to face his door, knowing that death was imminent but determined to meet it with the steely resolve he had failed to show moments earlier.
Then silence, again. Confused, he inched towards the door. Could his personal guard have killed his attackers?
He turned around and felt his bladder weaken again. There before him, borne on leathery pinions, hovered Tantalus, his wings keeping him aloft making him appear as though he was twelve feet tall.
‘My name is Tantalus,’ he said, ‘And my Lord begs an audience with you.’ With that, Tantalus thrust his lightning claws into the shoulders of Jonas Dane and carried him off, high into the night sky.
Dane awoke what seemed like an eternity later and found he had reached his destination. An uneasy feeling crept into his stomach as he realised he felt no pain. The power of the lightning claws cauterising the wounds in his shoulders almost immediately. He still had no control over his bladder, as was demonstrated when he realised he was sandwiched between two great mountains of skulls and chained to a throne made from bones.
‘Your men fought well’ came a voice from behind him ‘you should be proud.’
Dane craned his neck to see a cloaked figure crouching behind him, ripping the spinal column from the corpse of a guardsman. ‘We do not keep the skulls of cowards, Governor. Your men fought with honour and courage. Even the sight of their Governor being flown across the battlefield did not cause panic. You should be proud.’
‘I am.’ He said, surprised that he could even utter a word. ‘I should fancy they took a few of you bastards down with them.’
The cloaked figure stopped and looked up, amazement apparent on his face before letting out a bellowing laugh which shook Dane to the core. ‘I said they fought well, Governor, but we would consider this a failure if we suffered any casualties. There are over two thousand skulls here, all of which belonged to Hellassian men. Not one single World Eater fell here today.’
‘W-world Eater?’ Dane stammered, aghast that one hundred warriors could claim so many lives without the loss of one of their own.
‘Yes. World Eater. How well do you know your history, Governor? Do you know what happened ten thousand years ago? Do you know what tore humanity apart?’
‘Th-the Great Crusade. We are taught about it when we are children. How…how the Emperor united mankind in a glorious crusade before sacrificing himself so that humanity could live.’
‘Yes. The Great Crusade.’ Mused the cloaked figure ‘We conquered world after world for your Emperor. We were fearsome and soon our reputation meant that our enemies would sooner surrender than face us in battle. Do you know what happened then?’
Dane looked at the cloaked figure, his ignorance as plain as could be.
‘I’ll tell you. We stormed Terra, we attacked your beloved Emperor. Back then there were so many more of us. Thousands. You have seen what a hundred can do, Governor. Can you imagine what would happen if six thousand of us descended upon this world?’ he let that thought sink in before continuing.
‘You know of the Space Marines, yes? Well, that is what we once were. The Emperors finest. Twenty legions, with each legion numbering thousands. But half of us saw the truth of the False Emperor and under the command of the Warmaster we attacked.’
‘Lies.’ Stated Dane bluntly.
‘It is not lies. I know the truth. Do you know how I know the truth? Because I was there.’
Dane stared at him numbly. ‘But you said this was ten thousand years ago. You couldn’t have been…’
‘But I was. I fought alongside my Primarch and I fought with pride and honour.’
‘What ‘truth’ were you referring to?’ asked Dane, tentatively, unwilling to let his mind process the words he had heard.
The hooded figure laughed again. ‘If I told you that your mind would cave in and your head would explode.’ He said, running his fingers through the Governors hair and his voice fell to a whisper. ‘But my Lord would not like that. He has already laid claim to that skull of yours.’
The hooded figure stood upright. ‘My Lord.’
Dane turned to see another figure approaching, his brilliant red armour crowned by a hideous skull mask.
‘Xaphon. Has our student learned anything?’
‘Yes, though he doubts the validity of my claims. I think he believes it in his heart but his head refuses to accept. He is of no use to us. If he hears anymore of what we have to say I think his mind might just collapse.’
‘That’s a shame.’ He raised his axe high above his head, the daemon blade pulsing in anticipation. ‘Governor Jonas Dane. You are cowardly and ignorant. What I do now I do for your benefit. You would learn the truth and it would destroy you. Prepare for illumination.’
Moments later, Hellas Prime had a new ruler, and his name was Asphodel Nyx.
I can't say I've seen it all but I live for the things that keep me hollow.