Despair: a short 40k story
by Blight ·
Hello there. You can call me Blight. I’m a 40k and AoS player from Iowa and I’ve been asked to share this story with you and maybe articles about 40k and AoS if people are interested.
Well here goes
He had failed. The thought filled him with more dread than awaiting the charge of a greenskin horde. The shaso stared at the corpse of the ethereal his detachment had been assigned to protect. His troops had gathered around the impromptu funeral, some openly wept and he didn’t have the heart to discipline them. They all now bore the burden of allowing one of the greatest tragedies to have ever befallen their sept.
It was just supposed to have been a simple operation to annex this Agri-World. What the humans called a warp storm had overtaken the system and it was determined that the planet had been cut off from their Imperium of Man. Then the barbarians came.
Their ship had screamed into the system like a predator pouncing on prey. When their troop carriers fell from the sky he was prepared to fight Space Marines; what he got were monsters. Savage versions of the enhanced, guel’a, warriors bounded out riding giant beasts of fur and fang. It had taken the entire firing line to fell one when the rest of the pack had burst from a nearby ruin. Their leader had barreled his way to the honored ethereal and tore him to pieces without hesitation or regard to the great one’s pleas for reason. From there it had almost become a complete rout but he managed to regain a semblance of order and drove them off with the help of the riptide heavy battle suits he had been assigned. Now all that was left was the sounds of still near howls and their shame. The wolves would return soon.
As the shaso brooded on their situation the unnatural skyline had taken on a sickly quality and the droning of insects could be heard on the wind. His suit’s COMM burst into life and from it came the sound of thousands of tiny wings beating in unison. It had begun to take an almost familiar melody; like a song he could almost remember being sung by a stranger. He tried to raise the others and confirm if they were recieving the same strange signal, but none of them reacted to his calls. They could still be lost in mourning. Then a voice became audible over the haunting sound. It was barely a whisper at first but soon it was as if the voice was in the suit with him. He could feel foetid breath on his ear. He had wanted to disengage his COMM, open his suit (anything to stop this), but a strange malaise had gripped him.
“Worry not little one, I wish you no harm. Rarely does your kind even glimmer in the sea of souls but your despair is a shining beacon in the dark. Such suffering is rare, potent.” The voice spoke with the dying words of a thousand mortals on their sickbeads.
The shaso had vomited inside of his suit at some point he could not recall and his suit blared with warnings for his vitals but he continued to listen while the droning began to sound like a woman faintly humming.
“Your sadness must find an outlet. Allow me to aid you. Allow me to ease your suffering as only the grandfather can.” The voice began to change too, taking on distinctly feminine and disturbingly familiar qualities.
“What would you ask in return?” He choked out through phlegm caked lips.
“I wish for nothing but to share my father’s gifts with you and your people, and bring you deliverance. All you have to do is let me in” the voice said.
The shas’o was becoming light headed. He wasn’t sure how long he had stood over the corpse of the ethereal but now it was all he could see. The humming was growing louder and he could almost recognize the melody. Then as fever sweat creased his brow it came to him in a flood like a boil bursting at fullness. As a young child he had contracted a debilitating fever that had almost crippled him. His future as a firewarrior was in question but his matriarch had stayed by his side and tended to his sickbed. She taught him the combat drills he had missed from the day’s lessons. At his worst moments she had hummed a local song she had picked up from the guel’a. The song was now all he heard and then with a cracked and bleeding smile he began to hum.
Their commander had not moved from his place of mourning for some time and some fire warriors began to worry that he had become catatonic in his grief. There were always rumors of such things happening to commanders who had allowed an ethereal to die. Then the shas’o jerked suddenly as if in a palsey. His body guards moved to aid him but as they did their COMMs came to sudden life. All they could hear was the sound of their commander humming, and it was infectious. As the signal spread from ear piece to ear piece the whole of the detachment began to hum in sync. Suits began to leak brackish fluids from ruptured seals. Armor plates began to corrode and flake, and power cells began to whine with strain. As one they turned to their shas’o, now the leader of their choir, from whom a great pool of detritus had formed. A huge hand burst from the pool and began to pull it’s colossal bulk into this world. “The bargain is struck” it said with the voice of a woman long dead.
Norag Wolfkin found it hard to restrain himself at the best of times but now it was especially difficult after having tasted first blood. He had personally dismembered the xenos leader and it wounded his pride immensely that he had not been able to finish off the rest. However, reinforcements had come and the time to ride into battle was at hand once again. He rubbed the wolf tooth talisman which hung from his ear absentmindedly. Most of the pack were doing the same with the various talismans and fetishes that each warrior adorned their armor with. They had all seen the change in the storm and knew what it meant (Malificarum). Still the Tau were hardly the type to employ the ruinous powers but it never hurt to be cautious. It didn’t help that the Iron Fist chapter librarians had all reacted very strongly to something they could not describe. One was still bleeding from the nose despite his llaraman cells. A very bad omen.
As the wolves and Space Marine bikers bounded over the hill which overlooked the Tau position they were immediately fired upon. Not from the clean blue of plasma and ion weaponry but by putrid, burning, warp matter. Shields that had weathered thousands of years of enemy fire fizzled and died as their wielders and their mounts were enveloped in burning horror. Then the daemons appeared.
First a bloated daemon prince flying on wings of buzzing bott flies crashed into the ground in front of the wolf lord. Then shambling corpse like creatures pulled themselves from a nearby marsh that had been a verdant forest when Norag had first attacked. Following them was an obscene horror of blubber and vileness that stung the eyes just to look upon. On its shoulder sat a version of the creature in miniature cackling with delight.
The Space Marines charged with a prayer to the emperor on their lips. The words hadn’t even fully left those of the apothecary when a great ball of burning pus was vomited from the sky and annihilated him and a brother librarian. Undaunted by their losses, the Iron Fists hit the wall of rotting flesh like the avenging angels they were bred to be. When they came to a halt amid the slime they found a tide of grasping hands and rusted knives reaching out for them. Their bowels clenched in agony as the giant appeared at their side. With each swipe of its massive cleaver armor parted like rotten wood and flesh blackened. Soon only the chapter master remained. His entire command squad and his charter’s entire Librarius was a devastating loss to his chapter. He was now island in a sea of maggot eaten bodies with a great shadow moving to loom over him.
Norag knew that if he could break this disgusting amalgam of Space Marine and daemon he could tear through to the heart of the Tau lines. Even tainted by daemons the Tau could hardly hope to stand up to the wolves of fenris. His pack leapt at the daemon prince and tore great chunks from the creatures flanks but what awaited his mounts’ jaws were layers of fat as hard as adamantium and flies beyond counting. They swarmed into their mouths and eyes making it near impossible to strike out accurately at the creature. The daemon was terrifyingly fast for a being of it’s bulk, swing a heavy chain around with incredible speed. One by one the daemon crushed the wolf Lord’s riders and their mounts using its unnatural strength. Norag was overcome with disgust when he saw that for every member of his guard that died a new daemon joined the ranks now swarming his beleaguered allies. With a snarl of rage he broke free of the flies and swung savagely at the towering monstrosity with his relic frost axe. When he hit it felt like he had struck the towering stone of the Fang itself. The axe buried itself in the gut of the monster only to be caught by the fiend’s flesh and dragged from his hands. Smashing his wolf to the ground the daemon picked Norag up in a powerful embrace, pinning his hands to his side.
“The gardern grows each day. It is time to plant another seed” the daemon prince slurred. With that the Wolf Lord’s armor finally gave way and so did the body within.
Desperately swinging his thunder hammer in a wide arc the chapter master fought valiently against the tide but he was tiring and several noxious blades had already found what little flesh remained of him. Poisons and desieases coursed through his body but he had to fight on. Then his hammer flew through the air, ripped from his hands by a plague bearer that towered over its fellows. It had not been there a moment ago. He saw the single worn, bone, talisman hanging from its ragged ear and his shoulders sagged as the herald of Nurgle pushed its blade past his gorget seal into his throat.
The shas’o was delighted. He no longer dwelt on his earlier failure. The ethereal could rot here as the Grandfather intended. After all he had a new purpose, a new greater good. He would show his sept and eventually all Tau. There could be no greater good than in the embrace of grandfather Nurgle.
The air caste ship came from its hiding place behind the planet’s moon now that that the guel’a ship had been swallowed by the storm. They were now able to make contact with the ground forces safely. Hopefully the ethereal and his honor detail were still alive. Then the first transmissions from the surface came in and the sound of soft humming flooded the ship.
Hope you liked it. Please comment if you’d like to see more.
I'm an Iowa gamer who plays 40k and AoS in Iowa City. I have way too many armies and I love the setting and fluff of 40k. AoS fluff is growing on me.
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