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CURATOR'S CHOICE SHORT STORIES

 

DASLEAH CALIN DESAI by Dasleah Calin Desai

The wind stirred the leaves, their frail forms shaking against the sky and falling to the forest floor far below.  The mist coated the ground, bringing with it the cool chill of morning, the feeling of ice upon skin.  The leaves shook once again as the wind picked up, whispering through the trees, building, building until it became a roar, shaking the trees, ripping limb upon limb from the trees, and then, as soon as it had come, it went.  The solitary form of Dasleah moved, his armour making heavy steps in the now-quiet forest, the dull thumps contrasting against the quiet of the morn.  He moved slowly amongst the mist-ridden trees, his bulky shadowed form weaving amongst the trees.  He took short, quiet breaths, sounding ever louder as he grew quicker and quicker, his shambling pace soon racing against the mist.  Cold sweat slowly trickled down his white skin, his green eyes darting nervously, left,right, gazing into the white clouds beforehim.  The wind picked up again, a quiet sound carrying with it, quiet, but as the wind picked up, so did the sound.  To Dasleah's ears it was unmistakable.  He screamed mentally, his minds eye red with rage as the pictures of his past flashed faster and faster in his head.  The coming of the warriors.  The choosing of the ones.  The screaming of the village.  The screaming of those not chosen.  The screaming of those not worthy.  His heart seemed to pound in his ears, the dull thump, thump, thump barely drowning out the screams.  Dasleah gripped his head, the screams echoing in his mind, the wind whipping around him, the thump of his heart beating in his ears.  And the pain.  The pain of being alone.  The pain of watching the slaughter of his village, his family, his very reason for existence.  And the pain of the tears in his eyes.  The burning of his tears.  He beat the ground, the trees, the mist.  He wanted it all gone.  He had ho reason to live.  In his rage, he had not noticed the circle of warriors surrounding him.  The mist changed from a pure white to a sickly green, with wafts of putrid brown swirling within, as the warriors closed in.  And yet, Dasleah did not care.  He had nothing to care about anymore.  He lay on the leafy carpet of the forest, the warm tears still slowly trickling down from his eyes.  His empty, cold eyes, the flame of life and hopehaving long been extinguished.  The warriors closed in, and one raised his arm, bringing it down swiftly.  Dasleah's vision swam with colours, before the world went dark before him.

The jolt of arrival awoke Dasleah.  He was in a cell, the drip-drip-drip of some water the only sound that penetrated the darkness.  A sickly smell of rotting meat filled the air, making the air seem thick.  Dasleah's vision swam as he sat up, bright colours dancing before him.  He groaned as he looked around, the darkness seeming to almost envelop him, the smell peverting his nostrils, the stench of the cell flaming his head.  Blindly he groped around, his hands waving blindly before him, the darkness his only feeling.  A sudden groan of steel upon steel filled the cell, along with a blinding white light, announced the arrival of his captors.  Dasleah shielded his eyes, the light stinging upon them, and the dark shadow of a single figure suddenly filled the door frame, blotting the light almost as suddenly as it came.  The sickly-sweet smell of the room seemed to intensify.  The figure stepped into the room, his cold footsteps echoing loudly against the walls.  A wheezing sound followed, witch Dasleah realised was the figures breathing.  It spoke and said "Dasleah...You have been chosen by our Lord to serve the Father.  Your people have served us well, Dasleah.  Their souls were a fitting tribute to Father Nurgle...and if you fail here, so will yours." The figure's cruel laughter echoed as the door shut, plunging the damp cell into darkness once more, cloaking the shaking form of Dasleah in the blackness of captivity.

The screams of Dasleah seemed to shake the walls as the Priests recited their sacred rites, every now and then bending down to place something into Dasleah's open chest.  His blood stained their ornate robes, now dry and flaking from the seemingly day-old ritual.  Despite the pain, Dasleah could feel the new stregnth coursing through him, the power that came from induction into the Death Guard, the honoured warriors of Nurgle.  Tears fell from Dasleah's cheeks as he screamed once again, the sound seeming to fall upon deaf ears as the priests implanted more organs into the open chest of Dasleah.  Rippling pain spread through his body again as the probed and cut, his blood staining his hands of the Priests.  His mind was numb with shock.  He was fixed to cold marble slab, the arches of the cathedral like-temple coming together above him.  He vowed he would live through this, just to kill those who had done this to him.  Pain ripped through his mind again as the Priests continued their dark ritual...

The air seemed to ignite as explosion after explosion blossomed across the battlefield, the clouds of dust swirling and brushing across Dasleah’s face.  The dull sounds of the battle passed over Dasleah as he strode forward, cruel fire erupting from his bolter, his decaying armour ringing with every shot.  His boots crunched over mountains of bones, their stained marrow spilt over top, turning green and pungent in the stale air.  Overhead, wave after wave of the Legion’s Doomlord craft filled the sky, the corrosive fumes of their exhausts turning the sky a shade of sickly grey.  Dasleah marched on, his body long dead to the feelings of fear and mercy, gunning down squad after squad, their remains ridden with flies, their hearts filled with dread.  Over the next hill lay the heart of the enemy, their dying stronghold, a towering cathedral of black obsidian, the sharp peaks of the roof displaying grim trophies of fallen foes and heretics.  Still Dasleah marched on, the fortress nothing but another False Temple that must be brought down.  To the left of him, Dasleah saw a single squad approach him, rage lining their faces, coldness filling their hearts.  Dasleah turned and fired.  The squad seemed to explode from within, their faces a mask of pure agony before their bloody demise.  A deep rumble sounded in Dasleah’s ears, and he turned to face the stronghold.  Explosion after explosion cut deep into the fortress, scoring deep marks in the once clean temple.  Around the base, Dasleah saw hundreds of men give their lives fruitlessly as they threw themselves against the fortress, the cultists screaming praises to Nurgle as they sold their souls to him.  Heavy weapon fire screamed overhead, bright lances of light and spiralling missiles plummeting down into the seemingly endless armies, singed craters and foul-smelling smoke their payload.  Dasleah began walking again, through the crowds of rotting corpses, the screaming cultists, the silent Plaugemarines.  Wave after wave of loyalist dogs threw their lives at Dasleah, a cruel burst of bolter shell their reply.  Sick clouds of green mist rolled in front of Dasleah, the flies buzzing furiously.  Dasleah’s body took blow after blow, his venerable armour breaking away, revealing his pale skin, oozing with an unnatural green liquid.  Bolt after bolt flew out of his gun, exploding flesh and bone, until he had arrived at the front line. 

The screaming of the cultists seemed to make the walls of the temple vibrate, and they drowned out the flies completely.  Dasleah looked at them.  Already the blessings of Father Nurgle were touching them.  Flesh was turning black before falling off completely, ridden with maggots.  A look of pure fear and joy raced across their faces as they ran forward, gladly meeting the volleys of fire that had struck down so many before them, creating small hills of grotesque texture.  Dasleah shambled forward, his aged bolter erupting death, seeking out the leader of these False Worshippers.  At last Dasleah saw him.  A sickly-looking man, his thin stature apparent against his flailing robes, deep with the blood of war.  Fear turned into terror as Dasleah lurked toward him, drawing his oozing Plague Knife from its rotten scarab.  The sickly man raised a rusting chainsword against him, but Dasleah welcomed the mans feeble attempts at defence.  He had gone to long without a worthy opponent.  He shifted sideways, the sword cutting thin air, Dasleah sweeping down with his knife, the ring of metal upon metal following.  Dasleah swept his knife up, following the blade of the chainsword, the only sign of the blade hitting flesh a small slowing of the blade.  Screaming, the sickly man gazed in horror at his dismembered hand.  Dasleah followed through with a punch that crushed through the man’s chest, shattering rib and heart, lifting the man off the ground.  Dasleah let it slide off his hand, but not before holding it above his head, the lifeless body shaking in its death spasms.

At this, the loyal soldiers let loose a wail of despair.  They had lost.  Many ran, but many also simply stopped.  They had lost all hope in what they had done.  They lay silent at their guns and bunkers, the forces of Chaos sweeping into them, sorting out who would be taken as a war trophy, and who would be granted the pleasure of serving the Lords of Nurgle on one of the many Plague Worlds in the Eye.  Dasleah took the head of their leader as his own, impaling it on his growing trophy rack, the heads of many other fallen foes lining them.  The wind picked up, bringing swarm after swarm of biting locusts into the sky, darkening the light from the yellow suns.  Dasleah turned, sheathing his knife, still dripping with blood and mixing with the slime that covered it.  All around him, fellow Plaguemarines stalked away silently, towards a growing crowd.  A look of curiosity crept over Dasleah.  As he got closer, he realised the truth.  There, on the ground, lay their Lord, gaping stab wounds deep in his rotting body.  A medallion with the Mark of Khorne hung around his neck, and close to him lay the heads of his retinue.  Their Lord had sworn allegiance to another god, and had begun slaughtering his retinue in the name of another god before the remainder of his retinue slew the traitorous Lord.  The forces of Chaos were now leaderless.  The wailing of the cultists swept over the blood-drenched plains.  The marines looked around.  But soon all eyes fell on Dasleah.  Dasleah, perhaps the most powerful warrior that had ever been in the warband.  Dasleah, who had single-handedly slain countless enemy champions.  Dasleah, the Plaguemarine raised not of the original Death Guard Legion.  Dasleah, their new Lord.

The decaying ship Despoiler of Hope dropped out of the Warp with a dull thump and a shake.  Dasleah, his ornate Lightning Claws resting upon the armrests, shifted his Terminator-armoured form against the throne, the massive seat st the centre of the ship.  It had been over five-thousand years since he was taken from his home, his family, his dreams.  Now he commanded over fifteen thousand warriors, and perhaps the largest Plague-fleet ever assembled.  And yet, it did not matter to Dasleah.  He was nothing now, an emotionless husk bent on ending his prolonged life.  He had lived for so long, killed so many, and it was nothing.  All that mattered to him was marching against the foes of Father Nurgle.  Everything else was nothing...

 

HAEL OF THE NIGHT LORDS by Dasleah Calin Desai

Chapter One: The Fall

The night air carried with it the stench of war.  The dark mist that rolled over the open plains lit up, accompanied by the explosive roar of bolters.  Tracer rounds dotted the night sky, casting bright patterns against the light of the moon.  Against the violent flashes, deep craters could be seen, massive holes where the heat of a thousand suns fumed, before slowly fading away, their smoking craters a testament to their power.  In the shadows of the night, one could not see the warriors advance, their cruel fire raining down upon their foes.  But that was why they were powerful.  Night Lords, masters of the shadow, lords of the moonlight, had waged a dark war against the Imperium for untold millennia.

Their campaigns of genocide rang fear into the hearts of men, and hate in the hearts of soldiers.  As the night lit up with the power of war, their dark blue shapes could be seen, their fierce spikes lining their armour, their grim trophies flailing in the wind.  At their head, their Lord charged forward, hacking and slashing into the foe, his cruel laughter bellowing across the battlefield, his macabre smile growing as he plowed forward, plasma gushing from his gun, blood flowing from his halberd.

So it had always been for Hael.  He had led his fellow Night Lords in countless raids, their silent night raids turning into wars of annihilation, purging whole worlds in the quest to destroy the followers of the False Emperor.  Hael laughed again as another proud warrior fell beneath his blade, adding another fallen to the mounds of the dead, their grim piles growing by the night.  Another one jumped forward, blade drawn.  Hael dodged sideways, his opponents blade meeting cold air, and he swung his stained blade down, lacerating deep into his opponents leg, causing the man to scream and flail.  With his free hand, Hael drew his plasma pistol around.  The night air seemed to be set aflame as a gushing beam of plasma shot out, carving a deep hole where the mans chest should be.  A look of pure agony swept across the mans face as he fell, his red blood dark in the night.  Hael heard a cry and looked up.  Already their foes were breaking, falling back in the line of the Night Lords, their detonations still thundering in the night.  The wind stirred as Hael gave the command to pursue.  With a grim smile he added there was to be no prisoners.

The far-off sounds of battle continued into the morn.  Hael, his white skin a stark contrast to the blackened ground, squinted at the rising sun.  A cool breeze built up, moving his black hair, shaking the grisly trophies at his belt.  He had slain all who challenged him, all falling easily under his blade and gun.  A shadow cast over Hael, and he welcomed the dark shadow.  Lord Hael, we have slain all those before us.  Where to we march now? Asked Aron, Hael’s second-in-command.  Hael looked away.  He had conquered this world, slain all those who raised a finger against him.  He was master of this place, and a thousand other places strewn amongst the stars.  We return to the ship.  Contact the Legion to inform them of our success.  Tell them...tell them that this world now belongs to the Night.  Aron stalked away silently, and Hael resumed listening to the wind.  With it carried the sounds of victory.  The sounds of the captured being slain.  The sound of trophies being made.  The sound of...wind.  It brushed against him.  Hael laughed.  He recalled the first time he had landed on this world.  The villages of proud people eking a living from the harsh land.  The local soldiers marching against them.  The hundreds upon thousands of warriors falling against the might of the Night Lords in the first night.  He turned away, the sounds of the screams of battle ringing in his ears.  He was master of this world.  He was the master.

High above the world, a solitary ship hung in place.  The dark blue of its hull gleamed in the darkness, the intricate patterns hidden in the shadows of endless night.  Rows of guns, quiet now but thirsty for blood, lined the sides, pointed earthbound, least one unfriendly force attempted an attack.  Far below the warriors of the Night Lords climbed into their ships, before hurtling like comets upward, ever upward into the black of space, broken only by the light of stars shimmering in the distance.  The deep rumble of the engines sounded in the silence, the heavy clicks echoing as the ships docked, one by one.

Hael felt the cool air rush out as the doors opened, leading into a dim hallway, deep with shadows.  His footsteps sounded, echoed, as he strode into the black, his form fading into nothing.  The ship was quiet; the only sound was the dim murmur of the engines, warm from the recent travels.  Hael strode through the endless corridors, turning almost instinctively into doors hidden in shadow.  Deep groves in the walls swirled into patterns; one of a great battle won by the Night Lords when they marched on Terra, another inscribed with their Primarch, the Night Haunter himself.  The dull clink of blade upon armour followed Hael as his silver halberd swayed on his back.  The sound echoed down the corridor, fading into nothing in the shadows.

Hael strode into a doorway, opening into a vast room, its cathedral-like arches towering into the dark above.  Hael sat on an ornate throne in the centre, arms carved with skulls screaming in anguish, their jaws dropped.  The back towered up, far taller than any man, far grimmer than any Daemon.  It was carved in the shape of people, their bodies thrashing in agony, their faces with a look that could level a mans soul, their black flesh burning and smoldering.  A vast window spread against one wall, revealing the vast nothingness outside, a sweeping panorama of cold, emotionless space.  Hael spoke."Leave now.  Set course to join up with the rest of the Night Lords.  Hasten, we have much to do when we arrive." The ship shuddered as the cold black of space ripped open, a swirling nebula of energy creating a vast gate before them.  A sense of motion announced the ship was stirring, the ancient engines thundering into life, as they entered the swirling maelstrom of energy before them.

The ship was bathed in a violent red light, a red of domination and power.  The swirling patterns of light lay before them, fast currents of pulsing energy, deep rivers of flourishing force.  Hael’s Inner Eye revealed it all to him, the currents, the light, the power.  He had kept his secret power for over ten millennia.  He could see, he could fell, the energy pulsing around him, swimming before him.  If he had not become a Night Lord, he would of surely been enslaved as a distant Navigator, sitting atop a golden edifice, hidden from the world.  Ha, he thought, they will never get me to do that.  I decide what I do.  No one will ever control me.  Sitting upon his throne, he only then noticed the downtrodden Cultists lining the walls.  Their eyes cast down, they had been...taught...to serve Hael with the respect of a god.  He motioned one to come forward, a young woman."Bring me food.  Summon my captains and tell them to bring the Possessed.  I wish for a little entertainment." The woman hurried out, her naked form accompanied by the laughter of Hael.

The journey was slow.  The swirling tides of the warp seemed to be against them.  They passed many a world; strange oval planets where the seas were black as night, and the sky red as blood.  Vast bridges connected worlds, huge wooden structures that vanished away in the distance.  Worlds where the soul purpose of the natives were to recite chants to a forgotten god, worlds where the sun raged and set the atmosphere alight.  All was found in the warp.  The unclothed Cultists were looking at their feet, as they had been told, while Hael addressed his captains."When we arrive, we will take part in an assault against the Daemon-World of Shi’lanthk.  This world has great strategic importance for the Night Lords, and its capture and defeat of the Slaaneshi and Tzeentchian realms there would secure our place in the Eye.  We will join with the fleet and fall upon the world, and our victory will be the slaughter of all who appose us.  Go now, ready your warriors, we have arrived." As soon as the words left his mouth, the ship shook and the red glow of the warp faded into a dull red, the colour of dried blood.  They were in the Eye.  The captains saluted and went off to raise the word, and Hael sat back in his throne.  Before him, lay a thousand ships, many the same size as Hael’s, but many far greater.  So was the size of the Night Lords fleet, a massive collection of ships used once for the conquests of hope, now for the wars of hate.  The view stretched into the distance.  Countless smaller ships sped past, their dark blue livery fading in the coldness of the red light.  Suddenly, the air before Hael cackled, and the static form of a man appeared.

Greetings, Hael.  You have arrived just in time.  I had begun to fear that you were slain..." The figure of the man spoke, shaking, but the image still clear.
   "I am not that easily defeated, Huran.  I have waged wars more fierce than you ever will, and I have survived."
   "Of course, Hael.  But we are not here to talk.  Are your warriors ready?"
   "They are.  Tell us where, and we shall attack."
   "Has no-one told you? You shall not be fighting in this war, Hael.  You shall just watch."

The words burned in Hael.  ‘You shall not be fighting in this war, Hael’.  They echoed within him, burning in his mind with unquenchable rage.  With a start, he voiced his disgust."I shall be watching? I have fought the Long War more fiercely than any Lord.  Without me, we would've gone leaderless when our Master was slain.  I lead the Lords into the Eye! I conquered our founding worlds! I lead the Night Lords in countless campaigns, endless battles, and you tell me to watch? I should slaughter you now, you weakling dog of a warrior! May your heart be filled with curses of a thousand gods! Curse you Huran, curse you!" At the peak of his rage, he drew his pistol and blasted a smoking hole where the static image once stood.  Hael, still raging at his disgrace, bellowed at his servants. "Summon my captains!  Ready the guns!  We march to war, and may Chaos itself tremble at our might!"

Massacre.  That was the only term that could come close to describing the acts that followed Hael on the Daemon-World.  He had attacked at once, without any consent from his fellow Lords.  He dropped his entire force from the Eye, nearing numbers of five-thousand Night Lords, all crying for blood, all crying for war.  They slaughtered all who came at them, the mounds of rotting bodies building high into the night, their festering corpses rotting the air, defiling the very sky itself.  By the second night, they had commited acts of genocide dreamt only in the nightmares of gods.  They murdered millions upon millions of Cultists, cutting them down as they slept, as they ate, as they ran.  They welcomed the blood; it gave them strength, it drove them on.  They ripped flesh from bone with their chainswords, they rent organ from flesh with their fire.  Their armour was stained with the blood of millions, their rage building, their rage consuming them.  They raced into battle, their hearts pounding, their blood racing, howling for the justice that they should get.

They were cheated of their fighting, but they shall fight.  And through all this, Hael laughed.  His bellowing laughter washed over the fields of blood, his grim pile of enemy heads building.  He laughed for the insolence that he was shown.  He would show them.  He would show them all.  He would be victorious, he would hunt down that dog Huran, he would assume command of the Night Lords once again, as he had done so long ago before he left to conquer worlds in the name of the Night.

His rage knew no bounds.  He howled with hatred, his blue-black armour moist and damp with the blood of thousands, the ground beneath him swirling with the life of untold champions.  He would win.  He would claim this world for the Night, for himself.  He would command the Lords once again.  He would raise them once again as the most powerful Legion, and he would march against Terra and rule this realm.  The rage pulsed in him, became him, and he let loose a monstrous howl, one that echoed through the ears of all around him.  He fell upon his knees, clinging his head, shaking it back and forth.  He would be Lord of All.

His Inner Eye raged, the swirling nebula of power racing through him, calming him back to the realms of sanity.  The world around him froze.  The twisted masks of pain around him tore at his soul.  He had led hundreds of his brothers to their death in an attempt to prove his worth.  His Inner Eye raced as he saw the soulflames of his brothers fade and race past him.  He could hear their cries as they were destroyed, their very existence being shattered.  It tore at him, like a thousand knifes, cutting deeper, deeper, until he seemed to bleed his very life away.

He had let his rage control him.  His Inner Eye caught the faint whispers of Khorne pulling at him.  The rage.  The slaughter.  The power...No! He must control it! The whispers grew as he screamed.  No! No! No! The screams erupted into shouts, the screams of thousands upon millions of daemons tore at him, all calling him to come.  Come to Khorne.  He felt their power.  He could...swim in it.  The sheer magnitude of it...No! No! Nooooo! He screamed.  He shrieked.  He tore at the ground.  He writhed in agony as the daemons tore at him.  He could feel his soul being wrenched at, pulled at, splintered.  The pain coursed through him.  His innards were afire, his body racked with sweat.  He thought that this was the end.  His pain increased a thousand fold as he thought of ending his own life.  But, through the pain, the screaming, the millions of daemons tearing at his soul, he knew he could not.

His vision cleared, and before him stood the banner of the Night Lords, the winged skull.  He focussed on it, became it.  It pierced his Inner Eye, and the daemons cursed untold curses of heretical power, condemning Hael’s soul.  But he did not listen.  There was nothing but the skull.  It was everything.  He was a Night Lord, a proud warrior of the Dark, not a crazed butcher of Khorne.  He stood.

I am a Night Lord.  The pain left his body a shivering wreck.  All around him, the mounds of fallen reeked in the air, their blood flowing like a river, their faces twisted and seething.

I am a Night Lord.  His armour was red from the blood.  He coughed up blood, already flowing from his mouth and ears, mixing with the sweat, his stomach convulsing with a bitter taste.

I am a Night Lord.  All around him lay the bodies of his battle-brothers, their armour rent from a hundred blows, deep gouges that cut into their flesh, their gut flayed open, their innards strewn across the ground.

I am a Night Lord...

The quiet was all.  The darkness hid the still form of Hael, his cold eyes staring into nothing.  He could still hear the calls of Khorne, faint whispers of power and might.  But he ignored them.  Here he had sat, on his black throne, dead to the world.  The indents where the Cultists once stood were empty, long since banished from service, but Hael did not care.  His forces had been nearly decimated.  What was once five thousand was now struggling at just over five hundred.  They had won the battle, but lost the war.  It would take hundreds of years to build up the forces to full strength.  He had been shunned by the other Lords, many disowning him from the Legion, others turning their back on him with cold silence.

Those who he still commanded were bitter and malign.  They had all been touched by Khorne.  He had taken their rage and turned it to his own foul whims.  Hael sat in the dark, his thoughts his only companion.  He was numb with shock.  After all his promises of glory, his pledges of power, his vows of bringing the Night Lords to their true place in the Eye, he had led them all to their slaughter by the whim of a cackling god.

Hael cursed himself again.  He would never give in to his rage again.  He would not be perverted by pleasures of a immoral god.  He would led his forces on a quest of redemption.  He would fight the foes of the Night Lords, seeking death in combat.  But he would never again become consumed by his rage, be defiled through his anger.  He would resist the calls of power from the hordes of daemons clawing at his soul.  His Inner Eye burned with a single image.  The winged skull.

I am a Night Lord.

Chapter Two: Hunted

The deep rumbles probed through the ship.  Outside, the blackness of space seemed to blaze with a hidden fire; vivid flashes of colour erupted in the dark, only to be silenced by a brighter, more bright flash of light.  The dark blue ship gleamed in the light, its long cannons gleaming silver, the dark details of shadow disappearing from its end.  Sitting upon his grim throne, Hael looked out of his panoramic window into space.  His Inner Eye saw swirling patterns, fast fluxes of pulsing energy, racing faster and faster, radiating with power.  He could hear the souls of those caught in it untold millennia ago, their slow demise the whimsy of some fallen god, and he could feel their banshee wails tearing at him.  His breathing quickened as he forced himself to look on, searching for a way out.

After fleeing from the Daemon-World Shi’lanthk, away from the scornful eyes of his former brothers, Hael had led what remained of his warband and crept across the stars, hastening faster and faster away, the mad calls of Khorne at their heels, they had been caught in the spiralling arms of a great maelstrom, a swirling nebula of tainted energy that threatened to rip them asunder, and cast their souls adrift for all eternity.  The faint whispers of daemons flashed in Hael, but he pushed them back, his Eye probing the infinite swirls and rips, eddies and currents.  The strain of a thousand times a thousand tonnes of metal being ripped at tore through the ship, the metallic groans echoing down the dark hallways, through the ears of the few who remained.  The taunting of the daemons grew as Hael saw a small calm spot, barely larger than a planet, through which they could escape.

Slowly, the dark ship turned, the light reflecting into every gap and space, toward the small realm of tranquillity, a quiet pearl in the sea of blood.  The groans grew, the gravity of a thousand stars pulling on a single ship, until they roared through the vessel, great bellows of mock life, pulling at the walls, burning at a man’s heart, growing, growing until...the quiet reigned in the ship, its lonely corridors bathed in shadow, the cold of its steel chilling the air, the soft breeze seeming to pull at your soul.  Hael paused, the faint gibbers of daemons calm, his Inner Eye filled with a soothing presence, an almost refreshing stillness.  The deep rumble filled the ship as they moved on, the solitary sparkles of lonely stars their companion.

Huran paced angrily, his aged features flaring with anger, fierce determination raging within him.  His thin form seemed almost frail, but he moved with an air of power, an air of murder.  His dark armour seemed to absorb the light, his white face a stark contrast to his grey hair, flowing to his shoulders.  His steps echoed, cruelly in the dark air, his bony face teetering on the verge of pure indignation.  He stopped, turning to the lone man kneeling before him, his bulky armour still in the shadow."Tell me again, Gasaer.  Why did you let that foul being Hael leave? He is tainted by a False God, given in to his unearthly pleasures of indecent deeds, and led a great number of our brothers to their death." Huran’s face flared with anger."Tell me, Gasaer, when did you think you had the right to choose the guilty from the innocent? Tell me why I should not kill you here and now, strike you down when you cower and tremble before me?" The kneeling man raised his head, his grim face deep with shadows."It will not happen again, my Lord.  I swear by my name and honour, it will not happen agi.  .  ."

"You are right at that, Gasaer.  If you fail me again, you shall lose your other arm." At that, Huran raised his blade, moving it like lightning, striking down at Gasaer’s shoulder, severing it with one fell swoop.  Gasaer’s face tightened, the blood pouring thick from his severed shoulder, his arm quivering on the ground at his knees.

"Ye...yes my Lord.  It...shall not...happen again..."

"Very well.  Now, leave my sight.  You do not deserve to be in the company of one so much greater than you."

The cruel laughter followed Gasaer down the dark hallway.

Dark puddles of gleaming blood followed Gasaer down the shadowy hallway, gleaming ripples black in the concealing dark.  They slowly faded as Gasaer’s body adapted and healed.  The pain went; his face raged as he turned to face down the hallway he retreated down."Fool," Gasaer spat."Greater than I? Ha, that spineless coward is old and frail! One day, you shall fall beneath my blade.  You truly do not know my power..." Gasaer laughed a poisonous laugh, his fangs gleaming in the pale light, the short stump of a rapidly growing arm hidden in shadows.

Hael strode down the hallway, the ornate walls darkened, his armoured boots echoing.  The double echo of another man made Hael spin, the silvery gleam of Aron his reply.  During the battle that shamed them, Aron had found Hael, surrounded by wave after wave of daemons, slowly edging closer and closer.  He had leaped at them, preparing to sell his life dearly so his Lord could live.  He fought them, his skill with gun and blade untouchable, before he himself was brought down.  This act had lost him half his face, as well as his arms and legs.  It was a dark miracle that he survived; it was known only to Hael that Khorne had marked him too, for some greater purpose.  The dark silver of his body gleamed in the dark light as he spoke."Lord Hael.  We have emerged far into the Eye, further than perhaps any have gone.  We are in a current orbit around a planet that seems to be empty.  However, we are also short on fuel.  Permission to take the Tech-Priests earthbound to search?" The sudden spark of another presence rippled through Hael’s Inner Eye, then silenced."...Granted.  I will accompany you.  Gather the Priests and meet me at the drop-pod chamber." The sad eyes of Aron seemed to bore holes in Hael as he strode back into the shadows.

Huran sat upon his throne at the bridge, the busy workings of the Tech-Priests glowing around him.  The copper gleam of Gasaer’s armoured arm stifled by the shadows.  The low rumble of the engines grew as the dim ship lurched forward, slowly gaining speed as it launched into the murky red glow of the Eye."My Lord," Gasaer started, "Is it wise to chase Lord Hael? He is now far weaker than any Lord, and his death will achieve nothing..." Huran’s dark look was his only reply.  The red light dappled in the room, casting blood shadows against the wall, giving the air an aura of murder.  Huran sat low in his throne, his mind deep in thought.  He would find that traitor Hael, and he would make him pay.  He would finally achieve victory against his rival.  He looked back on the days when he and Hael would of been called friends.  Now they were enemies.  When Hael led the flight from their dying homeworld, deprived of their Father and Lord, Huran raised his voice in resistence.  They should stay, fight their way back to Terra while their enemies thought they were leaderless.  The ensuing argument lasted until the fires of Nostramo burned in the coldness of space, their once proud and dark home now ablaze with the fires of a False Emperor.  The rage of defiance burned like a cold flame in his mind.  He would kill Hael, and his quest for Master Of The Legion would come to hand.  He would be master.  Master of the Night...

The planet seemed out of place; a blue orb, cloaked in shadow, floating in the red light of the Eye.  The clouds burned as the single ship dived earthward, the dark plumes of smoke trailing off, soon disappearing in the blue sky.  If not a different time, Hael would of thought this place as beautiful.  Now it did not matter.  He was on the run, chased by his brothers.  His former brothers.  The rippling waves of the vast ocean below parted as the ship descended, a whirlpool of water swirling round and round.  The Tech-Priests began their mystic chants to their machine-god, the ancient devices surrounding them springing to life.  The doors opened as the Tech-Priests began their tests; running long tubes down into the blue ocean, gasping at vast amounts of water, the Priests’ machines blazing with colour.  Hael tuned out as they once again began their chants.  He was able to suppress the daemons chatters to a faint whisper.  He sighed as he knew he would live with them until he died; and then, perhaps, beyond that.  The gleam of Aron standing at one of the vast doors, staring at the endless sea, made Hael lose his train of thought.  He knew that he could hear them too.  He could hear the whispers, the promises, the...silence? Hael’s eyes bulged.  His Inner Eye had stopped.  It was as if it was not even there.  It just went quiet.

How?...The long shadow of a descending craft was Hael’s only reply.  The thing looked like the spawn of every mans nightmares.  Its gigantic maw opened and it let out a roar, a massive howl that quieted the scurrying beasts around it.  The dark carapace rattled as it moved, the long plates of bone still damp from hatching.  The long, destructive claws that raked the ceiling seemed to cry for blood, their new edge eager for the life-force of others.  Sacks of corrosive poison dotted it’s dark skin.  It hissed and spat at those who came near it, the anxious rows of teeth glistening in the bulging hallway.  Its heavy footpads made quiet thumps as it continued its advance, moving as fast as its newborn legs would bear it.  The long tail swayed behind it, the pulsing glands that dappled the wet body throbbing as they began to stimulate, the creatures howl’s growing into madness.  The gills opened in the side of the ship, and the newly born Tyrant roared its repulsion at the Prey-That-Fought.  And, amongst the red glow of the Eye, Gasaer smiled.

 

NEYWON'S NIGHTMARES by Neywon Darkson

Inquisition report on traitor units known as Neywon's Nightmares:

Neywons Nightmares are an offshoot of the Sons of Horus Chaos Marine Legion.  Neywon began his career as a Space marine loyal to the Emperor prior to the Horus Heresy.  During his early years as an aspirant and then as a scout, he showed a vicious desire to win in battle.  At first he was reprimanded for this, but as the legion turned more and more towards Chaos this changed.  He was rewarded for his vicious and brutal fighting methods.  He was awarded the title of Veteran Sergeant for his actions in putting down the rebellion on Tegolus VIII.  It was here that he ended up taking command of a company of Marines when the officers were killed, and leading them in totally eliminating the rebels.  The death toll was in excess of three million of the worlds inhabitants.  Some it was later found may not have been part of the rebellion.  There was some question about just how the rebels had managed to get into the compound and kill the officers in their bunker.  But as all three rebels and all the officers died in the meltabomb blast, no answers were to be had.

Neywon was given command of two squads of ten men.  They all painted their shoulder pads a dark bronze color, Neywon took the name "the Darkson" at this time.  Although he was not the one to choose it.  It was a name he was called by the Inquisition, they called him "Neywon the Dark Son of Horus".  This was not a term of respect, they had intentions of bringing him up on charges of treason and heresy.  However the Horus Heresy erupted before they were ready to try and face down the Warmaster Horus for one of his own.

During the Heresy Neywon built his following up too sixty Marines, some deserters from other Space Marine Legions.  He quickly became an Aspiring Champion with a mark of Khorne.  No one who saw him fighting during the Heresy ever doubted he was a true follower of Khorne, and totally devoted to his Warmaster.  He and his followers were well known by the loyalist troops.  His unit got the name Nightmares because they became very adept at attacking fortifications at night.  The last thing many loyalist troops heard was the scream of chain axes coming to life as Neywon and his men attacked out of the darkness.  Soon loyalists all over the front couldn't sleep at night due to nightmares and fear that Neywon and him men were out there somewhere in the dark watching.

At one point an imperial assassin was dispatched to put an end to the threat of Neywon and his men.  It was believed that if Neywon died his men would fall apart as a unit.  Nothing was heard of Neywon or the assassin for three weeks.  Then at the battle of hill 1423 on Tegaren III The butchered, tortured body of the assassin was spotted tied to the front of a Rhino bearing the markings of the Nightmares.  None of the troops that stayed and fought to the last man on the hill lived.  The report of the assassin's fate was made by the few officers who escaped during the first minutes of the attack.  This report was made just before they were executed for desertion by the regiment's Commissars.

During the siege of earth Neywon and his ever growing following butchered their way across the planet.  They seemed to never stop killing and moving on to the next battle.  According to loyalist reports they were everywhere at once.  While in fact they were never far from the Warmaster.  They fought at the walls of the Emperors palace, and in the ruined cities nearby.  They were ever on the hunt for pockets of loyalists to ferret out and sacrifice to Khorne.

It is said that at the moment of the Warmasters death Neywon threw back his head, cried out in pain, and fell to his knees.  When he got up a few moments later, he lead his men directly to the nearest spaceport boarded a transport and left the system.  The ships that were with him did not however go straight to the Eye of Terror.  They made raids on several worlds along the way, gathering weapons, vehicles, equipment, and slaves.  They then drove deep into the warp and attacked a Daemon world.  After one hundred and fifty years of fighting, the world was under Neywon's control.

The Nightmares are now made up of the remnants of Neywon's original men, and deserters from many other Chaos legions, as well as renegades from many Space Marine Chapters.  There have even been reports that the Nightmares recruit new members to become Chaos marines from several worlds inside and outside of the warp.  Members of Neywon's Nightmares have fought along side the great leaders of Chaos as they have made their raids and Black Crusades into real space to attack the forces loyal to the Emperor.

Neywon has sworn to crush the power of the Emperor in revenge for the murder of his Primarch.  He and his men are ever ready to attack the imperium in any effort to this end.  For an unknown reason they gather the fallen bodies of all Space Marines after a battle is won.  If the battle is going against them they will still try to take the bodies of their fallen enemies with them.

The exact disposition of Neywon's forces is unknown.  It is known however they to consist of several hundred Marines, Tanks, Dreadnoughts,heavy support, an unknown number of allies and cultists.  It is believed that he is paid ransom in equipment, services, and slaves by several worlds inside the Imperium in return for not attacking the worlds.

This lords is what is known, or suspected about the traitor unit known as Neywon's Nightmares.  This knowledge has been collected from survivors of attacks, captured cultists, and arrested heretics.  The information has been gathered by the Inquisition and its agents at some risk to life, and some loss of operatives.  As more information becomes available and is deemed relevant it shall be made known to you.

 

DURIEN THE DAMNED by Neywon Darkson

Brother Interrogators, representatives of the Deathwing, and Lord Chapter Master.  During the cleansing of Gregus IV we did capture one of our fallen brothers.  In the process of his interrogation we learned the location of yet another of those we seek.  Brother Sgt.  Duiren of the 7th Company has been located.  Unfortunately he has not gone into hiding as so many of the others have, he has joined a Chaos warband of traitor marines and renegades, heretics all.  He has over the years worked his way up to become the second in command of the Chaos warband known as Neywon’s Nightmares.  It is because of his position in this warband that they give comfort and aid to our fallen brothers and hide them from us.  I will now tell you what we know of his history.

After the battle that sundered our world and left us with only the Rock to call home.  Brother Sgt. Duiren and the others fled into the warp and into hiding on distant back space worlds.  During the first century of our hunt the heretic Duiren was almost captured on three occasions the first two he was already gone when our brothers arrived on the planet where he was hiding.  On the third he only managed to escape after murdering 5 members of the unit sent to return him to us.  He escaped with the aid of an Eldar pirate operating in the area, further proof of his fall from grace.  He has freely and willingly associated with aliens, another reason he needs to be found and cleansed of his sins.  With the aid of this accursed alien he fled deep into the Eye of Terror.

No longer willing to just hide and attempt to go unnoticed he decided to protect himself by joining with the renegade heretics of the warp.  Swearing himself to the accursed chaos lord of battle he fought along side other foul mutants and heretics in various attacks on imperial worlds.  Slowly he built his own small band of traitors into a devastating fighting force.  Using his imperial training he made himself and his men a warband to be feared.  It is said that he was given a fortress city on a war world of Khorne to rule over as his own.  This world is the one of the worlds ruled over by Neywon the Darkson.  He and his force joined with the traitorous black legion and others in four separate black crusades.  This alone should fortify our resolve to capture him and make him repent his heresy.

When the Neywon’s Nightmares struck out on their own as an independent warband, Duiren the Damned went with them,swearing himself and his men to the service of the accursed heretic Neywon.  After several battles and slave raids, Neywon, seeing the value of Duiren, made him his second in command.  The horrors that must have been committed by our fallen brother to gain this recognition would stain my soul just to know of them.  I have learned that because of his power in the warband a full squad of Fallen fight along side the mutants, traitors, heretics, and renegades at times.  Worse yet lords, or maybe better now that we know, the arch traitorous heretic Cypher, Emperor curse his name, travels with them on occasion as it suits his purpose.

Lords, it is this information that forces me to call this hidden conclave.  It is this information that causes me to insist that we send out scouting parties to find these traitorous "Nightmare’s" and expunge them from the universe.  And in doing so capture and gain repentance from our fallen brothers that we can cleanse the stain from our chapters honor.  Lords, if we act at the proper moment, we could even capture the arch heretic Cypher and finally determine his true identity, the reason behind his wanderings, and his mission.  Lords, I leave the dicision to you, but with this warning.  Do not waste too much time, for the power and strength of the chaos warband grows daily.  In order to keep the true reason for this mission secret and known only to ourselves we can ill afford to let them grow too much more.  I fear we may already be too late.

 

THE BLOOD WOLVES by Neywon Darkson

**** Inquisitor Abuliss' report on the Renegade Marine unit known as "The Blood Wolves" ****

For many years now we have heard rumors of a new and very vicious renegade marine unit within the Eye of Terror.  Due to the actions of myself and a hand picked ships crew and investigative team, we now know for sure about this foul band of heretics.  Traveling slowly and in secret with the aid of two primarus psykers to keep us invisible to anyone looking for us we made our way deeply into the Eye of Terror in search of these renegades.  Posing as rogue traders and smugglers we investigated rumors, followed leads, gathered evidence, until finally we were able to capture one of them and interrogate him.  What follows is what we learned from our investigations.

The original Blood Wolves heretic band numbered just over 200 marines when they first came to the warp two millennia ago.  Yes it is true they are a fairly new group to the Warp.  They now recruit replacements from near feral worlds at the edge and near the Eye of terror.  For some reason they wish to stay within the immaterium rather than venture out and fight in the real universe.  I believe this is because they had a wish to build their strength first.  This has changed in recent times, the Renegades made the mistake of attacking one of the worlds ruled by the Heretic Neywon the Darkson.  By the end of the third battle there were less than a hundred of them left alive.  Since only the strongest and most violent of them were left alive they were given the choice to join the renegade unit know as "Neywon’s Nightmares" or die, they joined.  The one we captured was a deserter from the last battle.  With the end of that battle the worlds under their control fell under the control of Neywon the Darkson.  Due to this increase in strength I believe this makes the foul Heretic a major threat to the Imperium and suggest a crusade be sent to wipe his stain from the universe.

There are other troubling aspects to these traitors I must report.  They bear a striking resemblance to the troublesome Space Marine Chapter the Space Wolves.  They decorate their armor with wolf skins and skulls, as well as have the same fang mutation seen in so many Space Wolves.  I have as yet been unable to determine if there is a connection between the two units other than a mere physical resemblance.  We are still interrogating the captured heretic in order to answer this question.  However due to his resistance and stamina the going is slow.  One major piece of information he has let slip is that the Blood Wolves trade often and have even on occasion served the arch heretic Fabius Bile.

They are a foul and vicious bunch these renegades, they paint their armor blood red and adorn it with talismans and runes of foul accursed power.  Before becoming a full marine they must hunt down and kill an animal known as a Blood Wolf, which they take their name from.  They have three days to do this, if they fail they are hunted down and killed in turn by the other marines.  The renegade has told us that the pile of skulls collected from those who have failed this test rises higher than even the highest hive city on a hive world.  These accursed heretics are, at least to some point followers of Khorne the foulest of the Chaos lords.  From what we have been able to learn they were accepted my the heretic Neywon because of their brutal viciousness and love of battle.

The traitor has for the last few days been trying to get us to hurry and leave the warp as he is deathly afraid of being captured by his brother traitors and returned to face what the heretics call justice for deserters.  We have a few times picked up a shadow on our long range scanners but nothing that has appeared to be following us or even searching for us.  I have faith in my psykers, and am convinced that a slow and circuitous route is in order.  For now it is time to return to the interrogation of the heretic.  As soon as I have more informa

****Record Ends****

Report found in derelict Inquisition scout ship "Glory to His Name" on damaged datafax.
Fate and disposition of crew unknown.
Nature of ships mission unknown.
No record found of Inquisitor Abuliss found in Inquisition records.
Status of report, questionable.
Recommendations: Further investigation

 

LAKUS THE CRAZED by Neywon Darkson

**** Recording of the last battle briefing by Chaplain Dotries of the Howling Griffins Space marines before they attacked a traitor marine force on Klamus III ****

Lakus the Crazed: Chaos champion commanding a forty man Khorne Berzerker detachment, five squads of eight renegades bringing death and destruction everywhere they set their filthy feet.  These traitorous scum who have turned their backs on our beloved Emperor and have embraced the filth that inhabit the warp are our targets today.  We go forth to rid this planet of these renegades who have come here to subvert, enslave, or kill the citizens loyal to the Emperor on this planet.  These filth are known to serve any master that will allow them the opportunity to shed blood and fight.  At present they serve the heretic Neywon the Darkson, as his shock troops.  Well today my brothers we shall be the one to deliver the shock, for today we rid the universe of this blight.

Today we third section fourth tactical company will lead the fight against this foul Chaos incursion into our beloved Imperium.  Be ever vigilant my brothers for these renegades are experts in the art of ambush, and are loath to face an enemy on fair terms.  They prefer to attack into close combat and use their foul chain swords and axes to kill rather than to cleanly kill an enemy.  But this is also a weakness, for if we can spot them quickly we can take many down with bolter fire before they reach our lines.

Their forces now are as follows: Forty renegades of the Traitorous World Eaters Marine Legion.  Two foul accursed Dreadnoughts consumed by the filth of Chaos itself.  No less than four Rhinos for the troops to be transported in.  My brothers we are three Tactical Squads and one Devastator Squad of the Howling Griffins Chapter Space Marines, the Emperors finest and chosen sons for this job.  Begin the prayers of preparation for battle, say the litanies of honor and duty.  Prepare to board the drop pods.

**** End Recording****

**** Report by Inquisitor Joctin ****

It has come to our attention after investigation of the disappearance of a tactical detatchment of the Howling Griffins Space Marines, that the world of Klamus III was lost to the actions of traitor renegades of the Chaos warband known as Neywon’s Nightmares.  Investigations revealed that the force was accompanied by the foulest of all Traitor units, the accursed Khorne Berzerkers.  They are used as shock troops to attack and demoralize and area to make it’s conquest easier.  The renegade Neywon keeps his own troops behind the Berzerkers and makes them the tip of any thrust into a well held defensive area.

This particular unit of Berzerkers is led by a maniacal murderer callinghimself Lakus the Crazed.  Little is known of this renegade except that he wears the markings of the traitor legion of the World Eaters Marines.  We find no record of him in any of our ancient texts from the time of the Heresy.  We know little of him or his band.  What we do know is that they number from thirty to sixty renegades and have been seen to fight alongside two Chaos Dreadnoughts that fight with the same insane qualities as the rest of the Berzerkers.  They have vehicles to transport them into battle and are experts in the art of ambush.

No town or village they have attacked was left standing nor were there any survivors of the defense forces that fought against them.  Of the Howling Griffins Marines, other than some blood and a few damaged weapons and bits of armor nothing was ever found.  There was evidence of a battle taking place, but no bodies were ever found.  As yet their fate is listed as undetermined, but I am sure that they all died for the Emperor in that battle.  It is recommended their names be added into the ledgers of honor and their Chapter be informed of their fate.

The planet Klamus III was found to be almost completely in the control of the Chaos forces at the time of our investigation.  We saw no evidence of the traitor marines while we performed out investigation, yet the majority of the population was under the sway of Chaos and foul cults had taken hold in all the cities.  Almost the whole of the planetary defense force was under the command of officers who were members of these cults.  As we decided that it would be far more destructive to retake the world from the forces of Chaos who were so well dug in and heavily armed.  We ordered the Exterminatus of the Planet.  Klamus III is now to be removed from all records of Imperial planets and no contact with the planet is to ever be attempted again.

**** End Report ****

 

SKARR by Neywon Darkson

Skarr stood in the dark shadows of the rocks and waited.  He could hear the vehicles coming up the road and as he listened he stroked the power rune on his chain axe in anticipation.  He knew his men were feeling the same building excitement in their blood as the Imperial guard unit approached the planned ambush site.  There were sixteen men in under his command, two squads of Chaos renegades all had dedicated their existence to Khorne, lord of battle.  Also to take part in the attack were eighty-five cultists that Skarr looked upon as no more than troublesome cannon fodder.  They would be useful during the opening phases of the ambush, after that of no more use to him.

The chimera’s were almost in sight now, and Skarr could smell them, the mixed smells of oils, fuel, food, wine, and human fear.  The men coming up the road were new to battle, almost no seasoned troops were in the convoy, they would never get the chance to become veterans.  He could feel his blood begin to race as his prey came closer, ever closer.

Spies loyal to the Chaos cult in the capital city of Bragithis had passed information that at least one squad of loyalist marine scouts would be with this convoy.  This would make the fight all the more enjoyable, for the last ten thousand years nothing had brought Skarr more pleasure then the look of pain and shock on the face of a dying loyalist marine.

Skarr watched as all the vehicles entered the killing ground and the battle started with a simple command of "Now".  He and his fellow renegades stood firm as the cultists attacked the convoy with all their fury.

The cultists attacked from all sides with shouts and cries to the Lord of Battle to aid them in this fight.  Bright beams of energy struck out from the chimeras as the loyalists fired their lasguns and Lascannons into the attacking cultists.  The noise of the stubguns and grenades going off was loud and at times punctuated by the blast of a meltabomb thrown upon a chimera.  At first the battle seemed to be going the way of the loyalists, but as the cultists got close enough to use the meltabombs they had been given to take out the vehicles the tide of battle turned.

The doors of the chimeras opened and out poured the guardsmen inside to counter the attack.  In the open the cultists stood little chance to survive, but they fought on like men possessed.  The marines scouts exited the second vehicle in the convoy in a more orderly manner, taking up firing positions at once and laying down a withering field of fire around them.  With every shot of a bolt pistol a cultist died.  There were nine scouts in white and green, one sergeant in green power armor, and last out of the vehicle a robed marine in power armor carrying a Crozius Arcanum.

A marine chaplain, this will indeed be a good day.  Thought Skarr, "Take them," he ordered as sixteen chainaxes roared to life as one.  "Blood for the Blood God" the renegades roared as they charged the marine scouts.  The look of surprise in the face of the loyalists showed plainly that they had not been prepared for Chaos marines to be present.  To their credit they did recover quickly, not quickly enough to save four of the marines from bolter fire though.  The scouts drew their large knives and charged the renegades in an attempt to change the course of the battle.  As the marines fought each other the curses flew fast between them as they each fought against their most hated enemy.  Loyalist against traitor, renegade against the followers of the false emperor, there would be no quarter given or asked.

Skarr moved towards the Chaplain, but a scout tried to stab him as he went by, the knife simply slid off of his chaos mutated power armor.  Skarr returned the attack with a swipe of his chainaxe, it easily cut through the scouts unprotected neck.  Blood flew over Skarr’s arm and armor, the scent drove him to an even higher degree of battle fury as he again moved towards the Chaplain.  Skarr could see the Chaplain fighting Vrardess, one of the renegades who was closest to becoming a full fledged Berzerker than the rest of them, Vrardess was losing ground as he fought.  With a roar he attacked and over extended himself, the Chaplain struck with his Crozius Arcanum and crushed Vrardess’s head.

With a roar of rage and hatred Skarr was upon the Chaplain, chainaxe biting against Crozius Arcanum.  They both snarled, spit, cursed, and vowed revenge for past wrongs at each other, the battle around them all but forgotten.  Each got in good strikes against the other, both were bleeding, neither would back down until the other was dead.  Skarr’s Chainaxe cut a deep gash across the chaplains chest plate, drawing blood and injuring the marine yet again.  The chaplain staggered back and Skarr followed in to finish off the wounded Chaplain.  Yet the Chaplain was not dead yet and struck a mighty blow with his Crozius Arcanum.

Skarr dodged to the side just avoiding getting his head crushed and caught the blow upon his shoulder pad.  The blow caused the red and bronze paint to break away taking with it several of the Chaos emblems from the shoulder pad.  There beneath was revealed black pain with red trim, and a small portion of a winged dagger emblem.

The sight enraged the Chaplain into a flurry of attacks, "you will be returned to the Rock to face cleansing and repentance".  But in his rage, his attacks were reckless and left Skarr the opening he needed.  He stepped in close and pushed his chainaxe deep into the already open wound in the Chaplains chest."I think not, ‘Brother’", Skarr replied as he watched the life leave the Chaplains eyes.  Now Skarr knew for sure his former ‘brothers’ who still followed the rotting corpse on Terra suspected he was here.  Next time there would be more of them, better prepared for the fight.  Skarr reached down are took the Chaplains head with one mighty twist removing it from it’s former owner.

Looking around Skarr could see this battle was over, all the loyalist lay dead or dying.  He had lost fifty six cultists, and four renegades."Gather the heads, all useable equipment, and the fallen bodies of my renegades.  Mark all the vehicles with the symbols of our lord of battle, and lets get out of here and prepare for our next battle." That’s all that really mattered to Skarr after all, it mattered not how many fell, just how long till the next battle.

 

THE DEATH OF NARINUS by Neywon Darkson

He stood on a hillside just inside the tree line overlooking the town, the late hour of the night made no difference to his enhanced eyesight.  It had been many millennia since he had last noticed the difference between a day and night battle.  Just outside the town was a small forest of gibbets, crosses, and poles where the local members of a Chaos cult had been hanged, crucified, and impaled.  They were lit by the ruddy glow of the embers in the adjoining pit that had served as the mass pyre for the cultists.  He could detect the aroma of burnt flesh in late night air, he was sure it would be much stronger before the night was over.  He was attended by his champions: Durien the Damned, commander of the possessed Veteran company; Lakus the Crazed and Skarr, the commanders of his two Khorne Berzerker contingents; Blackfang and his Blood Wolves; Bloodwing and his Raptors; and standing tall and silent in his Terminator armor, Eviseratus, who commanded the Terminators.  They all waited for Neywon the Darkson to give his orders and send the Chaos Warband know as Neywon’s Nightmares into the town.

"Blackfang, how many sentries?" snarled the deep voice of Neywon, a cross between tearing flesh and gushing blood.  Filled with the power of the Lord of Battle, Khorne, the great axe at his side moaned in hunger, the dark collar around his head glowed blackly.

"Twelve lord, in patrols of two.  My Blood Wolves are in position to take them at your order," replied the feral commander of the Blood Wolves, his hunger for blood and battle plain to see in his eyes and movements.

Neywon looked at his commanders and issued his orders.  "As we advance on the town the Blood Wolves will take the sentries.  At the front of the town-- that’s the west gate-- I want Killer Khile and Murderous Myron, my Dreadnoughts, let them think they have an escape route and plug it with the Dreadnoughts.  Back up Khile and Myron with two Predators-- that should plug the hole well.  Bloodwing, wait 'til the battle is joined and then hunt out the Inquisitor and his men-- I want them alive if possible.  Lakus, Skarr, I want you to come in from the east of town.  I want your attack to be loud and bloody.  Durien, bring the veterans in from the north, lead with our blessed brothers, the possessed squads.  The Nightmares and I will hit from the south with the Terminators.  No noise till we are at the gates they have so kindly left open for us! Then I want it loud and bloody, I want to draw the notice of our lord Khorne this night.  There are over thirteen hundred citizens of this town, by dawn I want them all dead and every building aflame!"

The Champions all moved out to convey the orders to their men, and to assign each man his duties.  All were feeling the rush to battle and could smell the sweet scent of death and blood in the air.

Neywon subvocalized through his com unit and gave his commands to his three Land Raiders."I want you each to take one of the gates except for the west gate.  Hit them fast and hard, I want you in first.  Slow for nothing, fire at everything,don’t worry about hitting anything at first, I want you to spread confusion in the town as we hit it." Upon receiving affirmative replies, Neywon smiled a truly evil and blood freezing grin.

All the sentries died without uttering a sound, the nightmares were at the gates and no warnings had been given.  Just inside and to either side of the gates were barracks buildings filled with Imperial Guardsmen.  They had been smuggled into town on the hope of another cult attacking in revenge of the day's executions.  Most were sleeping and a few waiting for the alarm to be sounded by the sentries.  The first they knew of the attack was when the Land Raiders came through the gates with their lascannons firing.  Many of the guardsmen died in their sleep, others as their ammo cooked off from the heat of the lascannon hits.  As the survivors escaped the burning building they ran into the advancing Chaos Marines, it was a short massacre...

At the south gate a commissar attempted to rally his men for the fight, a casual backhand blow from Neywon’s axe took his head and all but ended the fight.  The sight of the blood on his axe being absorbed into it, took the fight out of all the guardsmen who saw it, they were cut down from behind as they attempted to flee.

At the Mayor's residence, two Inquisitors, Balliros and Joasinat, rushed out with their men to attempt to bring some order to the Imperial presence in town.  They were spotted and attacked by Bloodwing and his raptors before they got all the way down the steps.  Mindful or their orders they killed all but the Inquisitors in a fierce and bloody fight.  The Inquisitors had eight well trained fighters with them, and the Mayor had ten personal guards who had been chosen for their family names not their martial prowess.  The battle was a blur of flames, blue balls of plasma, blaster fire, bolts exploding.

"Vile Heretic scum" cried one of the Inquisitors as he attacked with his poser sword."Here is your traitors reward" snarled the other as he pulled out his Plasma pistol.

One Raptor fell wounded by the power blade, another was reduced to smoldering ash by the plasma exploding in his chest.  Both Inquisitors fell immediately after from blows to the back of their heads.  As Balliros fought the darkness taking him, he heard Bloodwing say, "You will not be so lucky as to die yet, Imperial fool." And then he felt another blow to the side of his head.

Elsewhere in the town the fighting was much the same, no one here was prepared to fight Chaos Marines.  They had been expecting an ill armed mob of cultists.  The Nightmares advanced from building to building.  No one was spared, all the heads were taken and the buildings set afire.  All the defenders could see were large black and red forms coming at them out of the fires.  It was a scene from out of their worse nightmares come true.  The towns people and fleeing guardsmen fled to the west gate, the only area not attacked and burning.  As they left the brightly lighted town and entered the darkness they ran into the weapons and waiting power claws of Killer Khile and Murderous Myron, the two insane Dreadnoughts of Khorne.  The slaughter was horrific as they advanced and sealed the gate with their bulk and weapons.  Anyone who miraculously got by them were cut down by the two Predators waiting in the darkness behind the Dreadnoughts.

An hour before dawn, the town was entirely in flames.  The heads of every citizen of the town, save one, and all the guardsmen were piled high in the pyre pit in front of the burning west gate.  Chaos losses had been minimal yet again for a nighttime attack by Neywon’s Nightmares.

Kneeling before Neywon the Darkson was the lone survivor of the town.  He was being forced to bear witness to what had happened here.  The two Inquisitors, still alive were bound and standing before him, he looked over the Inquisitors as one would look over a captured animal.
   "You will pay for what you have done here tonight foul traitor!" spat Balliros. 
   "You are the ones who will be paying here tonight, follower of the rotting corpse!" Spoke Neywon, signaling for his men to come forward. 
   "Accursed heretic!" screamed Joasinat.

Neywon gave a horrifying smile and laugh as his men impaled the Inquisitors on either side of the carnal pit filled with heads."This sacrifice we have made in the name of our Great Lord Khorne!" Neywon bellowed, his men taking up the chant of "Blood for the Blood God." He then led his men away, stopping only to tell the lone survivor, "Bear witness to what has happened here, tell them that Neywon’s Nightmares haunt the nights on this world now!"

At noon the next day an Imperial Guard relief force arrived to reinforce the men already in town.  They found a single survivor babbling in his madness about "the nightmares coming for them." They were ordered back to their base with their obviously insane prisoner after making their report that the town of Narinus was dead.

 

A GOOD DAY by Damien 1427

Romanov, leader of the Red Army Van Saar, slumped in the chair at his table.  It had been a bad week.  Worst in his life.  It was only 3 days ago that Spyrers, the "Daemons of The Spire," had ravaged his settlement.  He looked into his glass, and saw a disorted reflection of his old, worn face in the Wildsnake.  He had lost his father, his mother, and his wife that night.  He could see the long clawed daemons dismembering his kin, laughing hoarsely, faces lit by the fires of his family's home.  He sighed, and let himself be reminded that he and his son had survived.  Nikolai, his son, was in his teens, about sixteen if he remembered correctly, and was filled with hate.  It had taken several whacks with a cudgel to calm him down.  He had told his son:
   "Listen.  You think you are angry? My family died in those flames, at the claws of those fiends.  You have your whole life to forget, I do not!"

He hated remembering his age.  Forty-one.  He was getting old and weak.  Soon, he would be met by Death's scythe.  Until then, he had a gang to run, and a vendetta to settle.  Well, several in fact.  First, those bloody Spyrers.  He would do anything to get revenge.  Secondly, Scragg, the leader of the Iron Dogs.  He was an ox of a man, and about as smart as a lame grox.  But he had muscles the size of barrels and fists the size of babies.  He rembered when when Jac, his brother, had gotten drunk and challenged Scragg to a duel.  Scragg had picked him off the ground and torn him clean in half.  To add insult to injury, Scragg had taken to carrying Jacs head on his belt.  Romanov wanted to see him torn in half, or drained by a spider or...
   "No, self restraint." He told himself, "Calm down.  It's the Wildsnake talking..."
   He took a second swig of Wildsnake as his cousin, Davidov, returned from releaving himself.
   "I heard that a new Guilder is in town" said Davidov, making conversation "Could get us some extra creds, since we lost Ghosts Forge."
   "Davidov, I would rather we forgot about Ghosts Forge.  At least, until I had a private army," replied Romanov, taking a final swig. 
   "Well, I guess you do," smiled Davidov, "The Red Army!"
   "Oh ha ha, Davidov," grimmaced Romanov, "I guess we should leave."
   "Oh come now, don't tell me your leaving after a single drink," moaned Davidov. 
   "It was my last promise to Tanya." Romanov's stare was getting darker, and to Davidov, the tavern's already dim lighting seemed to darken as well."I said I would cut it out."
   "Oh come on, one more couldn't hurt?"
   "Very well," replied Romanov, as Davidov walked up to the counter.

Strangely, the lights seemed to dim, and the spider head on the celling seemed to be grinning.  Romanov shook his head, and took his glass off Davidov, and drank deeply.  There was a scream, and a tall stranger, dressed in long brown robes stepped through the doorway, blood streaming down one arm.
   "It would appear somebody got in his way," wispered Davidov, as not to offend the stranger.

Romanov watched the stranger walk up to the bar, and purchase a small glass of Second Best, before sitting down in Scraggs Chair. "Poor fellow," thought Romaonov, "he's gonna get the hell kicked out of him." As if the gods were having fun, there was a crunch, and what seemed to be an Ogryn appeared through the doorway.  Oh no, thought Romanov, Scragg.  Scragg stommped in, his bulk casting a huge shadow over the counter, as he strode over to the newcomer.
   "What do yoo fink you iz doin'" bellowed Scragg, seemingly ratted on Second Best. 
   "Having a drink.  I suppose you are offended," replied the newcomer, apparantley not botherd by the brute roaring mere inches from his face.
   "Yus it doz.  Dats moi chair.  Get off it!"
   "No," answered the Stranger.  There was an unease drawing in the bar, and so was a crowd.  No one ever stood up to Scragg.
Scragg picked up the half-glass of Second best, and threw it on the stranger. 
   "Nar move!"
   "No."

Scragg was becoming impaitent with the newcomer, and being a straight thinking Goliath, he threw a punch in the direction of the newcomer.  As if by sorcery, the newcomer caught the Scragg's fist in one black armoured hand, and crushed it.  Scragg roared in pain as his fist was crushed, blood oozing out and bone cracking and splintering, piercing the flesh.  The newcomer threw him down on the floor, and left him for a few seconds, watching the pain he had inflicted.  Then, in one movement, the stranger drew an arcane Plasma Pistol.  As the thing charged up, it hummed, and then screeched as a ball of white hot energy landed on Scragg, singeing his crest of bright lime hair, melting his studded and tatooed flesh, and burning his bones and organs.  As the Scragg's corpse cooled, there was little left to recognize of the once powerful man.  Only a charred skull, and blackened bone.
The stranger sat back down, and the crowd drifted off.  After 15 minutes, Romanov walked up to him.
   "That was amazing! How did you learn to fight like that, er, what was your name?"
   "Nicodemus.  I learned it in Hive Triplex, under the warrior monks," replied Nicodemus.
   "I was wondering if you could help me.  I need some hired help--"
   "And you wondering if I was for hire? 50 credits." Nicodemus was making Romaonov uneasy, probably his monotone voice and covered face.
   "Err, ok.  Meet us at--"
   "The Ruins of the settlement once known as Ghosts Forge?" replied Nicodemus, "I shall see you at 8AM, Premier Romanov." With that, Nicodemus got up, and walked out into the night.
Davidov walked up to Romanov "How did he know your name?"
   "I don't know.  Probably the same way he knew where we wanted to meet him."
   "Perhaps he's a Wyrd," suggested Davidov.
   "Don't be stupid.  Wyrds can't fight like that.  Anyway, we'll ask him tomorrow."

With that, they left to go back to their lodgings above the bar.
   "I don't know what," thought Romanov, "but there's something about that man, something creepy."
He shrugged, picked up Scraggs skull and tied it to his belt. 
"One vendetta down, one to go..."

 

FEAR THE COMING OF THE NIGHT  by Neywon Darkson

Part 1

As the cruiser Final Redemption approached Morrig VII, a hive planet that produced large quantities of weapons and munitions for the Imperial Guard.  Inquisitor Gyraxx was reading reports on production shortages running back at least twenty years.  He was not happy that no one had thought the matter needed investigation for so long, and wondered if there had not been some tampering with the reports to keep them hidden this long.  There were references to pages, or appendices that were missing, and in several cases supporting reports that were unavailable.  If things were as bad as he believed they were on Morrig VII, he was going to make sure an investigation found out who was responsible for this.
   "Renthros!" Gyraxx bellowed, summoning the Tech Priest who was under his command.  The door made loud protests as it was opened and not for the first time Gyraxx wondered how long it had been since this cabin had been used on the Final Redemption.
   "Lord Inquisitor?" Renthros asked as he entered, his bionic eyes glowing green with an inner light.
   "Give the orders to ready the Thunderhawks for launch and have the Howling Griffins prepare for our descent to the capital."
   "All shall be made ready," was Renthros’s only reply as he backed out the closing door leaving only the smell of his unguents and the sound of the squealing door behind.

Gyraxx had under his command the Tech Priest Renthros, 40 members of the Howling Griffins Space Marine Chapter, Gravanat, an assassin of the Vindicare Temple, and Dravis and Grendus, his personal bodyguards and bounty hunters.  Also accompanying them on the Thunderhawks would be four companies of Imperial Guardsmen.  He had requested a force this large because of the inconsistencies of the reports he had reviewed from the planet.  This was not the first time he had been sent to investigate a planet he felt sure had been infected by rebellion, heresy, or worse.  He looked at the stack of reports on his desk a final time and headed for the hanger deck with his personal team.

He didn’t speak as they walked to the flight deck and his team followed suit.  When they arrived, the Marines were already loaded and ready to launch; the Imperial Guardsmen were loading the last of their men.  Gyraxx and his team loaded onto the Marine command thunderhawk.  As they were locking themselves down for the flight, klaxons sounded and red lights flashed."Torpedoes incoming, fore, aft, and starboard! Launch all ships, emergency combat launch conditions!"

There was no orderly paced launch into formations for the thunderhawks, they lifted off from the deck and out the launch bays in a mass of ships.  It was a miracle and a testament to the skills of the pilots that no ships were lost in the frenzied launch.  The thunderhawks dropped away from the cruiser and headed for the surface of the planet-- that's when their luck ran out.  The planet defense lasers opened fire on the Final Redemption catching some of the thunderhawks in between them and the ship.  Four thunderhawks instantly became expanding balls of incandescent gasses, the men on them did not even have the time to cry out in pain, their deaths came so quickly.  Looking out a porthole at the Final Redemption Gyraxx could see it beginning to fight back, however he could also see there were four Chaos Murder class cruisers and a Styx class heavy cruiser attacking it.  That, combined with the close range of the planet defense lasers left little doubt as to the outcome of the battle.

One of the ship's crewmen made his way back to where Gyraxx was seated and reported, "Lord Inquisitor, we have received a message on a coded emergency frequency that the capital has fallen to the rebel forces and are directed to a safe landing at a secondary hive".

"Pass the information to the other ships and order all troops to be battle ready the moment they leave the ships.  I want total security and all men ready for combat in case this is yet another act of treason," Gyraxx ordered.  Then, turning to the Captain in command of the Marine detachment he said, "Captain Uthyr, this is no longer an arrival, it is now a drop into a combat zone, have your men ready!"

The captain's cold emotionless black eyes met those of the inquisitor's as he calmly stated, "They were ready for combat before they got on the ships, we never drop to a planet without preparing for the possibility of attack.  You would not have brought us with you if you had not thought this was a possibility.  The only reason we are here is that we are needed to render the Emperor's justice to rebels or heretics."

Looking past the Inquisitor out the porthole at the valiantly fighting Final Redemption, a slight smile crossed his face, "From the looks of that, I feel we may ever find traitors of the worst kind on this planet."

As they both looked at the Final Redemption, it’s fusion drives overloaded and exploded creating a small sun where the ship had been a moment ago-- a sun that continued to burn long enough for the thunderhawks to drop into the atmosphere of the planet and head to their landing zone.  The hive city they landed at was Belkrew Hive, listed as the seventh largest hive on the planet.  This boded ill if it was the largest still held by Imperial forces! They had lost a total of nine thunderhawks, seven from the defense lasers, two from ground fire as they traversed the planet to Hive Belkrew.  Almost two hundred men lost before they even landed on the planet, fifteen of them space Marines!

Gyraxx’s anger was in full flame when the planetary governor and his command staff approached to welcome them."You are all under arrest for heresy and high treason against the Imperium, for allowing this to get to this point without reporting it to Terra," he verbally lashed out at them.

They all stopped dead in their tracks with looks of utter shock upon their faces."But lord Inquisitor, we have been reporting the troubles for over ten years now, and fighting a civil war for just over six.  We have been sending messages daily requesting aid and reinforcements.  We have received promises of a large military relief force for over a year now," said the Governor bowing deeply to Gyraxx.

The inquisitor's worse suspicions had just been confirmed, there had indeed been a concerted effort to hide what was happening on this planet.  A deep penetrating fear gripped him, "I will need a full report on all that has happened.  There is something deeply wrong here." A sadness had eased into his voice, a deep sadness that revealed the depths of his fear for what was happening on this planet.  He was silent as they proceeded to the command level of the Governor's residence to hear the report the governor and his aids would give.  The reports would not improve his mood any. 

It turned out that Governor Jonas, actually Acting Governor Jonas, was the last of the original Governor’s surviving advisors.  The trouble on Morrig VII had started small, minor discrepancies in the output of a few smaller factories.  Then a string of murders in one hive had killed off several of the shift leaders and caused a slow down at the factory there.  More reported breakdowns and worker strikes had been reported.  On two occasions the members of the Adeptus Arbites dispatched to deal with strikes had failed to return, no bodies were ever found.  Planetary Defense Force troops had been used to end the strikes and arrest the leaders of the rebellion.  The governor had started to really worry when they had all committed suicide in their cells rather than face trial and execution by tribunal.  All was quiet for a few months and then there was an attack on an Arbites compound.  Hundreds of men and women attacked and over ran the compound killing all the Arbites and taking all the weapons and equipment they could, the place had been stripped bare.  Then the killings began.

They started in the lower levels of the hives.  At first they were just rumors of brutal murders deep in the underhive.  No one investigated them as they were too far down in the dangerous levels of the hives, bounty hunters and adventurers were hired to go down and find out what they could, but none of them ever returned.  Soon, no one would take the jobs at any price.  That was when the governor had started requesting help form Terra.  Most of the answers he got were that he had to take care of it himself, as no one could be spared at the time to investigate his problems.  This information deepened the worry Gyraxx felt about the whole situation.  Next the murders moved uphive into the mid sections, the business and residential areas of the educated and trained workers.  They were brutal, grisly affairs, the bodies horribly mutilated, drained of blood and the heads always missing.  The attacks only came late at night, and there were never any surviving witnesses.  At first there were just a few murders in distant hives, then the numbers grew and the killings moved to other hives.  It became apparent that the governor was going to have to handle it himself so he mobilized the PDF to seek out and eliminate the killers.  Martial Law was declared and the searches began, at Hive Darkash the PDF ran into real trouble, the whole hive rose up in rebellion.  As all the hives on Morrig VII are engaged in the manufacture of weapons and munitions there was no shortage of arms for the rebels.  The PDF forces advancing on Darkash were ambushed and nearly annihilated.  The few survivors who made it back reported that he people of Darkash had fought like they were possessed.  No matter how many of them were killed the others just climbed over the bodies and kept advancing and killing, the whole time chanting strange incomprehensible words.

It was after the loss of Darkash that the enemy started wearing uniforms of red and black.  They also started to fly banners and flags bearing the markings of Chaos, in particular the Lord of Battle Khorne.  This was just under six years ago, the loyal imperial forces had been fighting a slowly losing battle ever since.  During the day, they fought against Chaos forces trying to take the remaining hives, at night they hid in locked rooms afraid the night killers would come for them.  Many were still found butchered as the morning sun rose, and fear gripped the hearts of all who still fought in the Emperor's name.  They had been sending full reports and begging for help, Gyraxx was the first person to land on the planet in almost four years.  The last being one Inquisitor Nargtreth, who had proceeded into the wastes to attempt to find out who was leading the rebels.  He and his small force had never been heard from or seen again.

With this revelation, Gyraxx knew they were all in trouble, for he had heard of Nargtreth, an inquisitor branded heretic and been ordered hunted down and executed for his corruption by Chaos.  He had vanished with all his research and his most loyal followers, now their location was finally known.  Gyraxx was sure they had not been killed by the rebels, but may well have been the original cause of the rebellion here on Morrig VII.  This was indeed bad, a rogue inquisitor, a death cult dedicated to Khorne, and quite possibly Chaos Renegade Marines.  Well no one ever claimed serving the Emperor would be easy.  It was time to get to work!

Part 2

Nargtreth strode through the ruins of Darkash hive as if he ruled them.  The cultists and rebels who saw him kept out of his way or showed great respect as he moved among them.  Had he known the real reason for this, he would have fled the wastes and turned himself in to Gyraxx and begging for the Emperors mercy.  As he approached what had mere weeks ago been a cathedral dedicated to the worship of the Emperor of Mankind, the changes in it struck at him.  All emblems and icons of the Emperor had been removed and the building was now covered in the emblems and icons of Chaos and the Khorne, the Lord of Battle.  The number of headless bodies piled around the building was beyond the minds ability to comprehend.  They were piled five times the height of a man, and there were hundreds of piles.  At the doors of the cathedral he was surprised to see Chaos marines standing guard.  He had not been prepared for this.  They barred his entrance.

"Do you know who I am?" Nargtreth demanded, bringing himself to his full height and allowing his weapons to show from under his cloak.  The only answer he got was the activation of the chainaxes held by the guards as they drew their bolters.  He stepped back and was preparing to fight when a sound that was a cross between a growl and a bark come out of the darkness within the cathedral.  The renegades stopped, put up their weapons and returned to their positions as guards, one of them jerked his head towards the door without speaking.  Nargtreth took this as meaning he was allowed to enter and did so hurriedly before they changed their minds.  He was not accustomed to being treated this way.  Normally, when someone saw that he was an armed Inquisitor and ready to use his weapons they backed down in fear.  This time the fear was his.

The interior of the cathedral was filled with the skulls and heads of the slain: the bodies of high ranking officers and officials were crucified upon the walls.  The imperial alter had been defaced with the sigils and emblems of Khorne: blood ran down its sides and pooled upon the rich carpets that had decorated the floor in days gone by.

   "There are new forces with which we have to deal upon the planet now," Nargtreth stated as he entered the central area of the cathedral.
   "I know, and they will be dealt with in short order.  They were expecting to find cattle they could easily scare back into submission with a minor show of force.  Many of them died before being able to land, and their ship is no more.  They are cut off and will soon be dead," a voice in the darkness replied-- a voice he had heard several times before.

He had come into contact with this voice while searching for an artifact of Chaos he needed for one of his experiments.  He had never seen the face the voice came from, and suspected it belonged to a rogue trader who had been dealing within the Eye of Terror and with the denizens of Chaos for many years.  The man not only knew of the artifact, but knew where it was stored and was able to acquire it for Nargtreth in a very short time, but for a price.  They had been working together for over twenty years now, Nargtreth gaining the artifacts he needed to continue his experiments, while helping the man in the darkness corrupt this world to Chaos.  The corruption of the world was of no real consequence to Nargtreth as he was able to observe how it progressed and help by applying his experiments using the artifacts to help it along.  He was even allowed to take corrupted cultists and do experiments upon them to discover the mental and physical changes in them as the corruption progressed ever further.
   "When did we start associating with renegade Chaos marines?" asked Nargtreth, more than a little put off by this development.
   "I have always had dealings with them, and you have been dealing with them for over twenty years now," growled the voice as a large shape moved out oft he darkness.  The man, if you could call him that was well over eight feet tall, wearing ornately decorated Chaos armor with many sigils, glyphs, and emblems of Chaos upon it.  He bore upon his person many markings of Khorne, and held a great axe in his hand.  Nargtreth knew he was looking upon a great champion of Khorne, and he felt his heart sink for he knew that he had been dealing far deeper into the powers of Chaos than he had ever thought.  He also knew with certainty that he would never leave this planet alive unless he swore himself over to the Lord of Battle with all his heart and soul.
   "Nothing to say? No demands, no threats, no recriminations or excuses?" asked the Chaos champion with more than a little humor in his voice.
   "You will never corrupt me as you have those on this planet.  I am an Inquisitor in the service of the Emperor of Mankind, and as such will never join one such as you.  All my experiments were to find ways of defeating you and your kind, and I have been very successful in my work," stated Nargtreth filling himself with the power of his faith in the Emperor.
   "You have already been corrupted you silly little man.  You located the artifacts of power, and I retrieved them, I allowed you to play your little games with them while I subverted this world to my lord Khorne," the Chaos champion disdainfully explained to Nargtreth.
   "My men have already recovered the artifacts and are bringing them here as we speak.  You have served you purpose Inquisitor, and have outlived your usefulness."
br /> The champion advanced towards the Inquisitor and raised his axe to strike.
   "Not so fast minion of Chaos," sneered Nargtreth as he unleashed a bolt of psychic energy at the Chaos lord.  A bolt of blue green energy flashed out towards the Chaos champions head.  Just as the power came into contact with his body, it flashed out of existence.  Nargtreth was stunned, he had never heard of such a thing happening, he attempted another psychic attack, but it to ended with the energy being dissipated.  Nargtreth staggered back as if struck with a physical blow, shock and disbelief fixed upon his features.

"Not quite as knowledgeable about the powers and gifts of Chaos as you thought?" laughed the Champion as he advanced upon Nargtreth.  He fingered a bronze collar around his neck, this is a gift from my lord Khorne, it was forged at the foot of his throne of bone, and quenched in the souls of sorcerers and psykers such as yourself.  It gives it wearer protection from magic and psychic attacks." He stood smiling down at the Inquisitor."Don’t worry, your head will have a place on the trophy rack of Neywon the Darkson this day".
   "Who is that?" asked Nargtreth, resignation and doom in his voice.
   "Me," Neywon stated as he struck a lightning quick blow with his axe, removing the Inquisitors head before he could even think to react to what was happening.  With his free hand Neywon caught the head before it hit the ground.  Tossing the head into the darkness near the door Neywon spoke to his aid, "Put that on a spike on the front of my command vehicle, let him serve a new purpose now, to instill fear in our enemies.  .  .  and gather my champions! It’s now time to really strike fear into the hearts of those who think they can oppose us.  Pass the word, there are loyalist marines on this planet now, time to show the followers of the false emperor what real marines are made of." The aid exited the cathedral and began to spread the word to the followers of Neywon the Darkson that soon they would be making more sacrifices to Khorne and making this planet theirs once and for all.

All across the hive the word spread.  Soon everywhere you could hear cheering and chanting, "Blood for the Blood God!"

Part 3

Renthros entered the office that Inquisitor Gyraxx had taken as his own, a very austere room containing only a desk, two chairs, and a small table with communications devices."Lord, we have intercepted a communication from Darkash Hive to this hive on the enemy frequencies."

Gyraxx looked up from his datafax encoder and asked "And were you able to decode this transmission"?
   "Lord, it was transmitted in the clear and consisted of one word, 'Havoc'," Renthros replied, handing over the report of the communications and intelligence officers.

Gyraxx sat back in the plain metal chair behind his desk and appeared to be deep in thought.  Renthros remained standing and awaited his commander's orders, he knew that the time was near for his master to take action against the enemies of the Emperor, and he would be needed to convey those orders.
   "'Havoc'... it must be the attack code to a group of heretic cultists here in the hive.  Attacks will most likely increase in frequency now.  Have the PDF triple the security patrols, and place static guard posts at every gate between levels and sections of the hive.  Send Capt.  Uthyr in to see me as you leave.  I will have orders for him as well," Gyraxx ordered, as he started to make entries into the datafax.
   "It shall be done Lord", Renthros stated as he turned to leave.
   "And tell the Arbites I want to see their best hunter, tracker team immediately," the Inquisitor shouted as Renthros was closing the door.

Within minutes, there could be heard an increase in activity outside the office in the command and communications area of the Inquisitor's HQ.  Captain Uthyr entered the office without knocking or awaiting an entry command."My orders, Inquisitor?" was all he said as he stood towering over the smaller man.
   "We have intercepted a communication..." Gyraxx began.
   "Yes, 'Havoc,' obviously the command to begin increased attacks against the loyalist forces here in the hive," Uthyr interrupted him.
   "Yes we were informed also, I’ve had my men preparing for battle in anticipation of your orders."
   "For now, I want your men guarding the approaches to the upperhive, they are not to minor attacks elsewhere.  Once the cultists begin their major attacks, you will take your men and eradicate these vermin once and for all.  I don’t want you wasting your time chasing small groups of terrorists! We will wait till they group up into large fighting units and then wipe them out!" ordered Gyraxx.
   "As you order, Inquisitor.  Fear not, for the Emperor is with us and we have his blessings! This world will not be lost to him so long as even one of my men live!" Uthyr stated it not so much as a confirmation of the order but more as a prayer to the glory and driving faith he had in the Emperor.

Gyraxx was always amazed at the devotion the Space Marines showed for the Emperor.  There were those in the Adeptus Ministorum who didn’t trust the Space Marines because of their loyalty to their primarchs.  However after working many times with the Adeptus Astares, Gyraxx knew that they were far more loyal to the Emperor than many of those who served him on Terra.  He would far rather face the forces of Chaos with Space Marines at his back than most members of the Adeptus Terra.  If what he suspected was true, then other members of his own organization, the Inquisition, were in league with the Chaos forces here on Morrig VII.  Gyraxx slumped in his chair as he felt the weight of what he believed was the beginning of a long battle to free the planet from the taint of Chaos.

Deep within the bowls of the hive, in the deepest, darkest levels of the underhive, where of late even the most desperate and dangerous of the gangers would no longer adventure, the one word transmission was received and a deep growling howl echoed through the rusted dirty caverns.  Gralagan, the commander of the Blood Wolves Chaos Marines, howled his joy at being set loose upon yet another hive with his men.  They would hunt out those who could oppose their Lord, the Darkson, and remove them from this world in violent brutal ways.  The Blood Wolves hunted at night as the Darkson ordered.  They hunted quietly and in secret so as to bring fear to all who lived in the hive they hunted.  Gralagan knew just where to start this new reign of terror: the small cult of death they were here to support had made arrangements to meet with a new arms seller after their last contact had been captured.  While the leader of the cult had been fooled by the new arms dealer Gralagan had not been, he had smelled the odor of the Arbites upon the man.  He was sure that the meeting set for this evening was a trap to capture the leaders of the cult.  Now that he had been ordered into action, it would pay to change the outcome of this particular meeting.  After tonight, even the vaunted Adeptus Arbites would know fear when they entered the darkness of the night.

Porton, the leader of the Cult of Blood in Belkrew Hive was waiting at the appointed time and place for the delivery of a very large shipment of arms for his followers.  After tonight he would be the most powerful and feared man in the underhive.  It would be the beginning of his rise to absolute power on this planet.  He would deliver this world to Khorne and all would then be forced to do his bidding for as long as he lived.  He saw the arms merchant approaching with several men pushing carriers with arms crates upon them.
   "You’re late!" he stated in a hard voice, "I don’t like to be kept waiting." There was warning in his voice, as if he already wielded the power he dreamed of.
   "I will make sure you are never kept waiting again," the arms dealer said with less respect than Porton thought should have been there.
   "Just show me the weapons we are paying so much for," Porton demanded with more than a little contempt in his voice.
   "Credit voucher first," the arms dealer demanded."Without credits in full, you don’t even get to see the merchandise.  We didn’t come all the way down here for a charity cause!" He held out his hand waiting for payment.

Porton would have loved to be able to order his men to open fire on these fools right now, but there might be a need for them again in the future.  He handed over the credit chit, and waited for the dealer to use his hand datafax to confirm the payment.  The dealer looked up from the fax and smiled at Porton, "It’s all there, so I guess this deal is done.  You’re under arrest in the name of the Emperor!" The man snarled as he drew a bolt pistol out from under his coat.  Porton was shocked as lights came on and he and his men were surrounded by Arbites in full combat uniforms.  Porton and his men were quickly and efficiently disarmed and manacled together.  The Arbites lieutenant who had posed as the arms dealer opened the crates to show Porton the weapons within: lasguns, slug guns, stubbers, and bolt pistols along with explosives and grenades.

"Take a good look at them traitorous scum, this is the closest you will ever get to holding one of them in your hands!" the lieutenant laughed.  Then there was a loud howl as if some great animal was loose in the old warehouse with them.  Prisoners and Arbites alike looked around in fear, they all knew that death stalked the warehouse around them in the darkness.  Then the terror really began, several objects came arching out of the darkness to land in the center of the gathering of cultists and Arbites.  They were the heads of the Arbites who had been guarding the entrances to the warehouse.  The remaining arbites spun and began firing into the darkness around them with their shotguns and bolt pistols.  When they stopped there was nothing but silence in the building.  The silence seemed to last forever.  It was shattered by bolter fire and the sound of bolts tearing through the flesh of the Arbites and their prisoners.  Some of the Blood Wolves rushed in to attack the Arbites with large knives, the pistol bolts and pellets from the shotguns just bouncing off their armor.  In seconds it was over, only the Blood Wolves remained standing-- all the arbites were dead or dying.

Porton and one of his men survived by hiding under one of the carriers the arbites had brought with them.  They were dragged out but two of the Blood Wolves and thrown to the ground before Gralagan."So this is the great leader of the Cult of Blood in Belkrew!" sneered Gralagan, the contempt in his voice heavy as a siege hammer.
   "Yes I am," Porton replied with the fear starting to leave his voice."And as such I am the commander of all rebel forces in this hive," he replied in a tone that demanded the obedience of all those around him, a smirk forming upon his face.  The smirk lasted only so long as it took Gralagan to backhand Porton back to the ground with two busted lips and several broken teeth.
   "I would advise you to watch how you speak to Chaos Marines in the future!" Gralagan snarled as he jerked Porton back up to a height where he could look him in they eyes."If our lord the Darkson didn’t believe you and your men would be of value in the coming fight you would already be dead.  You had better pray that you never loose that value." He then dropped the cult leader back down to his feet.  Porton now knew fear as he had never known it before, even as an orphaned child living in the underhive."Now gather your new weapons and men and get to following your orders, there is a battle to fight and you have your part in it."

Gralagan and his men left the warehouse as fast as they had appeared in it and far more silently than Porton would have thought men that large and well armed could move.  He and his surviving follower hooked the carriers into a train and headed out to do the bidding of the Darkson in the service of Khorne.  There was much blood to be spilt and much power to be gained, he was going to make sure he gained a lot of that power.

High in a gantry outside the warehouse Gravanat of the vindicare temple said his prayer and chants of accuracy and finality as he awaited for the combatants to exit the warehouse.  He had followed the arbites knowing that they would most likely fall prey to whomever the activation command had been for.  From the sounds of the battle within the warehouse he had been right.  In the darkness he could see the victors moving in the direction of one of the entrances to the upper levels of the hive.  Two squads of traitor marines, he didn’t recognize their markings, but that could wait till later.  Right now he was going to remove their leader then take as many of them as he could before they got out of range.  As he sighted in on the leader the man looked up at him as if he could see over the great distance and look into his eyes.  As Gravanat tried to figure out just what was happening he saw the renegade smile up at him and tap a rune on his wrist, there was a beeping from the debris piled in the corner of the gantry.  Gravanat had just enough time to realize another had seen the value of this firing position before the meltabomb went off turning him and the gantry into just so much debris littering the floor hundreds of feet below.  Gralagan smiled as he and his men moved into the night to bring terror to those who thought they were safe and protected.

Early the next morning the reports started coming in.  A marine patrol had found the remains of the arbite hunter tracker team in the warehouse.  Uthyr brought in an Exitus pistol and laid it upon Gyraxx’s desk."I believe this belonged to one of your men," was all he said.
   Gyraxx looked up."And the body?" he asked.
   "We couldn’t find it, but then a meltabomb doesn’t leave much of a human body when it goes off close to it.  We did however find the bodies of six gangers around the pistol," answered the marine captain.
   A smile crossed the Inquisitor's face, "The handle of the pistol contains sensors coded to the assassins DNA, anyone else takes hold of the handle and a micro fine needle injects them with a very nasty neurotoxin.  Death is almost instantaneous."

Uthyr began to turn and leave, but was stopped by the inquisitor asking one last question."After examining the records of the planetary defense and patrolling the hive last night, what do you see our chances here being?"
   "This is where the Emperor has chosen we will die for him." Uthyr stated as he turned and left.

Gyraxx sat at his desk looking at his datafax, his last report had concluded in very much the same fashion.  He knew that without a miracle from the Emperor this planet had been lost years ago.  He straightened up in his chair and started bringing up files on the datafax, there had to be a way to rob the Chaos forces of this planet and by the Emperor's light he would find it.

Conclusion

Then new reports began coming in from the far south, outbreaks of disease and mutation.  The forces of the repulsive Chaos lord of disease and decay had taken this opportunity to attack the planet as well.  Now the PDF was fighting a war on two fronts, the Khornates to the north, the followers of Nurgle to the south.  Gyraxx wondered what else could possible go wrong, it seemed as if the Emperor had turned his eyes away from this world.

Far to the south in Hive City Labrigyn, sat Figornus Bilious, chosen Lord of Nurgle, Leader of the Infectious Scum Chaos warband.  He was feeling quite pleased with himself, his forces had landed almost unopposed to take three hive cities so far.  He and his men had already insured that the putrid beauty that was the rot and disease of Father Nurgle had taken root and would be very hard to clean out of this world.  His plan was a simple one, he would allow the Khornates to the north to do most of the fighting against the followers of the false emperor and then sweep out of the south with his ever growing army of Nurgle cultists.  He would take at least five more hive cities before then, not by conquering them but by infecting them.  He already had men in all of the hives of the south making sure that infection would grow quickly.  Figornus had arrived on planet with one thousand Renegade Marines and Cultists.  So far he had lost twenty-three men.  Their bodies had been used to infect the water supplies of the area and the hive cities he wanted to bring under his control.  Infection and disease was spreading fast throughout the south.

Neywon turned to his second in command Duiren the Damned and asked, "You have made contact with Bloodslasher"?
   Duiren smiled and replied "Yes his forces will arrive later today and he has been told which space port to use and that he could have that part of the world to do with as he wanted".
   "The blood cult is ready to do as they have been ordered and trained to do"?
   "Yes lord, they believe the bombs they are delivering and setting off will allow them access to the PDF’s armory and armored vehicle storage areas.  They are fools at best, but will do the job they have been set to and on your order detonate the bombs".
   "Good Three hours after Bloodslasher begins his attacks on the hives of his area of operations, pull back all the Nightmares and Blood Wolves.  Get them all off planet as quickly as possible".
   "Sacrificing a whole planet and two of our rivals to Lord Khorne in one stroke, very well planed Darkson."
   "Even better that the followers of the false one shall be the instruments of our sacrifice".  They were both laughing as they left the room to prepare for the final hours of the planets life.  Neywon knew it all came down to timing now, he knew his men would follow orders to the letter and minute he just hoped the cultists would too.

Bloodslasher’s force landed right on schedule and began their attacks on the hives closest to the star port.  He had brought with him 12000 men in total, Chaos Marines, traitor imperial guard, and cultists.  He was suspicious of Neywon the Darkson for asking him to help here as they had been enemies before, and had fought on at least seven worlds.  But his own Berzerker tendencies caused him to overlook this and simply assume that the Darkson was too weak to take the planet alone.

Neywon himself led what was to be the last attack by his forces.  They made a surprise frontal assault on the encampment of the Howling Griffons.  The Howling Griffons only had twenty three men left when the attack came, Neywon attacked with just over three hundred and fifty renegades and two hundred cultists.  The battle was very short and brutal.  , The cultists were sent in first followed by the renegades.  Eighty four cultist and six renegades fell to the marine fire.  The battle lasted less than two minutes, the marines didn’t live long enough to even reload their bolters once, most didn’t have time to empty the clip on their bolter.

Standing in the center of the carnage Neywon lifted his com unit, "To ships!" was his first order, he then changed the frequency and gave another order to the blood cultists, "Release hell!".

Proton was pleased that his time had come to be a hero for his lord Khorne.  He lead his men along the long closed and forgotten work ways deep into the heart of the hive.  He and his men were grateful to the Marine lord for giving them the bombs that would open their way into the heart of the armory and allow them to take the fight to the highest levels of hive.  They had no way of knowing that all of the Chaos marines and cultists who had arrived with the Darkson were at this moment leaving all the hives they had been fighting in and heading at top speed to the spaceport.  If they had they might have rethought what they were about to do.

High in the hive however Gyraxx was well aware of what was going on.  It made no sense, the renegades had just killed what was left of his Space Marine force, and now they were running.  Fighting had stopped in all the hives The nightmares had been attacking and they were all falling back to their original landing zone and boarding their ships.  The newer Khornate to the far west was still fighting, as was the forces of Nurgle to the south, something here was very wrong.

In the heart of the hive Porton and his men had found the great bolted door right where they had been told it would be.  It was very large and oblong, the bolts were two feet across and set with a two foot interval between them.
   "This is it my brothers, set the charges and prepare for the day of glory".  Shouted Porton.

Cheers went up as the men set about placing the charges as they had been taught, wiring them all together so that they would all go off at once and ensure the opening of the great door.  Once the charges were set they all moved back a safe distance.
   "We do this in the name of and for the greater glory of our Lord Khorne" Porton shouted as he pushed the rune of detonation.

All the charges went off just as they were supposed to, the door fell away just as it was supposed to and that is when things went very wrong.  Thousands of metric tons of water came pouring out of the opening.  The water was heated way past the boiling point, and as it flowed out much of it turned to super heated steam.  Porton and his men died without even having time to figure out what went wrong.  They never knew that they had just blown the access door off of the fusion reactor that powered all the hives on the continent.

High above them Gyraxx had just enough time to see the first reports of the reactor being breached before it reached critical mass and turned the once gigantic hive into a very deep radioactive crater that would mark the surface of the planet for many millennia to come.  At the same time far to the west the star port where the ships of Bloodslasher had landed exploded as strategically placed fusion bombs turned it into a wasteland of twisted metal and burning death.

On Neywon’s command ship "Inevitability of Death," the Darkson turned to Duiren asking, "We got all the factories?"
   "Yes lord, Everything was dismantled and loaded well ahead of schedule and all the ships departed over an hour ago.  All our surviving men have reported in, and many new cultists recruits and PDF forces have joined us."
   "How much time do we have"?
   "The Imperial fleet will arrive at Morrig III in less than an hour.  We are leaving to the galactic west they are arriving from the galactic east, they will never see us, or even know we have been here."
   "Good command all ships, best speed back to the Eye we’re going home for a short while."

Coming in from the east was the Imperial fleet, Aboard the commands ship ‘His Vengeance, Our Duty" was Inquisitor Gavariel.  All the initial reports were the same, two large chaos forces controlling much of the planet, no sign of any substantial imperial forces defending the planet.  After very little thought he had the fleet take up position and begin an orbital bombardment using the largest weapons at his disposal in order to exterminate all life on the planet.  His report would read that due to the destruction of so many of the hive cities and the large size of the two warring chaos hoards on the planet he felt it would be too costly to retake planet with so little value anymore.  The planet could be reclaimed at a latter date if it was decided it again had value to the Imperium.

Gavariel would never know that the distress call that had brought him here was sent by Neywon the Darkson.  Or that he had acted in just the way Neywon had planned for him to.  Neywon had made a sacrifice of thousands of lives to Khorne and had used the Imperial fleet as his weapon to do so.  The thought of this would make him laugh for many years to come.  He had allowed a few imperial prisoners to escape in a Thunderhawk to let the work get to the Inquisition as to how they had been used. He knew that now even on cursed Terra they would fear the coming of the night!

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