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Found 2 results

  1. Chapter One: Prologue I​ I cannot tell you who I was. His name, if indeed a 'him' it was, is lost to me. But he had lived a fine life by most reckonings, acquiring every mandated achievement his society had ordained as fitting of a 'life well lived'. He had sought and acquired position, a mate and a legacy. Not out of any real desire or ambition, but from an unbending certainty that he must meet the expectations laid out before him and the ability to do so. And then he died. I died. Death had come peacefully enough and with no just regrets to speak of, for the things I had been missing had been willingly sacrificed, but I had been expecting an end when my eyes had closed for the last time. That was the way of things, humans were meant to grow lined and grey. To gain and lose loved ones, then they themselves passed of some malady or another. I had no reason to think it would be different for me. I had neared a century of life, enough to have passed any reasonable desire or expectation of yet more time. I had not predicted the pain however. Yes, it was in that pain that the life I had lived had become indistinct and faded in the way that the wear of eons makes a page grow weathered and brittle. Even the memory of that pain became brittle, whether from being repressed or from the cannibalization of its own memory. It still escapes me whenever I try to think of it, a lick of destructive fire stroking my consciousness until it jerks back like a child might pull their hand away from the fire. But from the first, I remember my surprise at what came next. As I said, one tends to expect an end or perhaps some sort of verdict at their death. Most do not expect their eyes to open again. I had certainly not been expecting my eyes to snap open after my mind and soul had been ravaged and twisted out of shape. Nor for the body that bore those eyes to be something so far from what I had once been. Strangest was that my ignorance was incomplete, I was uncomfortably sure I knew what I was in fact. Normally that revelation coupled with my mind frantically trying to adapt to its new circumstances would have been sufficient to drive anyone into a fit of panic. But it did not come. Instead, I felt an icy curiosity. Suppressed fear reaction, I mused. I felt distress only as a dull echo which faded away as quickly as it had come. Where I should have been crying or screaming, I could only sit there with an idle curiosity. "Hmm", The voice that came from my lips registered as distinctly unfamiliar to me. "Where am I?" The lighting was bad enough that under normal circumstances I would be quite blind. But my new eyes rapidly compensated for the lack of light, registering several spectra simultaneously, something I had only ever seen through goggles before. It was quite bizarre really, but like everything else I felt it quenched to a mild surprise at most. I guessed that I 'knew no fear’ so to speak because I still felt everything else quite well; I felt confused, surprised and curious well enough after all. I looked down at my enormous, bizarrely proportionate hands and let out a breath which almost immediately made me feel the beat of a second heart while the expulsion of air caused me register the oddity of the respiration within my chest. One hand ran down the tough skin of my chest, fingers pressing to feel the movement of plates over stretched skin where one should have felt the soft give of the flesh between ribs. It might have been a confirmation bias, but the changes I registered resonated with something in my mind. The instinct felt correct, even if why that particular strand of knowledge alone had survived where everything else had become hazy was an irksome question. There could be little doubt, I was stuck inside of a Space Marine. A name which I supposed would mean an assortment of different things to the people that I had once known. To me though, it meant the modified supersoldiers of a version of humanity divorced from sanity and reason. Which, if true, unfortunately meant that I stuck in one of the most horrible places one could find themselves in. The twisted reality known as Warhammer 40,000. A world of screaming gods, twisting realms of abomination and forgotten fits of madness. :cuss. I observed. Other possibilities were still possible, that I was in some sort of fevered death-dream or in some circumstances that merely bore some arcane resemblance to that accursed universe. But no narrative fit as well as the first had. A Space Marine, an Astartes. But something in the back of my still unwinding and re-knitting mind suggested that I had not quite hit the nail on the head.. No, I peered down to study the body in finer detail. There was nothing of the swollen gigantism-riddled appearance of an Astartes there. The body, my body, was almost right... with the stretched skin and enormity I could expect. Yet it was also proportioned entirely too much like a man. A man scaled beyond reason and with oddities to be sure, but with none of the heavy-set overbulking, mass of scarring or the jagged pseudo-tumors that would engul an Astartes' chest. No... Not Astartes. There was another possibility though, one that fit to near perfection. "Primarch," The word slipped through my lips with my new voice. The prototypes and demigod ancestors of the Astartes, abominations wrought in the image of human perfection. Like their 'children' but yet somehow more and less human. It was an egotistical notion but something within my mind clicked at the idea. A Primarch. Yes. That assumption would work for now. I was not sure of the given value of 'me', I had already noted that I could not quite feel fear or panic and odder still was the new shape my mind was taking. Even the sheer data influx from having every sense magnified and altered was muted, as if they had always been that way and it was only now that I took note of them. It was like a room whose walls were collapsed but the floor and ceiling remained perfectly still, my mind felt like it was impossibly expanded and empty, waiting with bated breath to be filled. This new formulation even robbed me of the bliss of my youth being restored after a fashion, I had been old after all, that seemed certain. The only reaction I could summon for that fact was little more than take note of it with mild disinterest. What I felt more than any natural reaction was an intense craving for context and knowledge. A deep and abiding need to gain an orientation of my surroundings. Well I was in the right place for it at least, leaning against a broken bookshelf of immense size and countless tomes scattered around me since I woke up. The shelf was joined by more in every direction which suggested I was in some sort library. There was also a peculiar stink, something displeasing yet peculiarly alluring. Like rotten waste one moment and like sickly-sweet honey the next. I opened my mouth on instinct and flicked out my tongue as if to scent the air by reflex and subsequently made two discoveries. The first was that I had a rather heavy beard, tangled and matted in an uncharacteristically unkempt fashion. The second was that my lips and chin were stained with the source of the scent. I rubbed a hand over them and saw that the perpetrator was a peculiarly grey substance. It was sticky like syrup and after a moment I flicked out my tongue again to taste it experimentally. The next thing I knew I had licked my hand free and was in the process of licking it off my face. The taste was strange, fluctuating wildly between honey and spoiled milk. It did not seem to fill me to any degree, but it seemed almost instinctual that I needed to consume it. My reaction disturbed me somewhat after I had finished, the lapse in control adding a curious sort of uncertainty which saw my eyes turn back to the books around me. I needed information. Yes, data was good. The first thing I needed was data, data to give context as to where I was, what had just happened and how I could secure my survival. I reached down for one of the scattered works and gingerly plucked it up to look at the inscribed steel on the thick leather cover. I idly hoped that the leather came from an animal while reading the title, On the Matters of Trans-Dimensional Travel & Its Dangers- I tossed the book aside. Anyone who was knowledgeable enough about this reality would know that the chances of picking that book up randomly from a pile without it being according to the plan of a certain blue schemer were nil. Instead, I opted to pick up a book on early human exploration next, that seemed like a less ominous subject. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that I would start flipping through it at a great pace (with one over-sized finger as the book could easily fit into my palm) while noting that I could somehow read what I was fairly certain was High Gothic despite it looking nothing like any alphabet that I could read (and I knew that I could read a few). More importantly, my mind seemed to be filling in the gaps where the books or my own limitations should have stopped me. I mildly made note that this was likely an inbuilt quirk of my new breed which were portrayed as being almost auto didactic in their learning, provided I was indeed a Primarch. Their maker probably imprinted all the knowledge he deemed important into the constructed minds to be triggered by stimuli. A clever creature, their maker. Strange to say, but the more the idea lingered in my head, the more something in me assured that my initial feeling was correct and that I had somehow been transplanted into a Primarch. And also, that my brain could manage several entirely different trains of thought without any difficulty as I poured through works of various fields while dwelling on my situation. I finished the book within about a minute, the entire thing internalized before moving on to the next and the one after and the one after that, my reading speed getting faster as I went. Part of me realized how ridiculous it was that I was eating through the collection around me like the reading equivalent of a woodchipper, managing to recall much less understand the entirety of what I read. After what must have been hours I had not only a rough idea of where I was but a solid understanding of the Technology, Culture, Language and History of this planet (provided I was not on some sort of stellar installation). Well, give or take a few centuries to go by the obvious age of the literature. I figured that I must have been in the private collection of someone who must have held a wide array of interests due to the diversity within and given the undeniable wear of my surroundings (despite the books being in remarkable shape), the place and its information was probably ancient, a shame as the people of this colony had been rather interesting. It had always struck me as an amusing coincidence that every single Primarch had come from an incredibly unique and interesting world with none of them coming from one of the countless unremarkable planets which seemed to later constitute the norm for the Imperium. It seemed that I had not been made exempt from that pattern as I too had been deposited on a world as intriguing as each of those which had had the fortune or misfortune of hosting a Primarch. In as much as one could attempt to fathom the strange and mercurial minds of sentient amalgamations of emotions I could not make even an uneducated guess as to why they would have sent a tool of their hated ‘Anathema’ to this world however. Except perhaps as a murder attempt. As I moved to look for a way out of the old library, I reflected on the world it spoke of. It was colonized during the early expansion of humanity, at the dawn of the so-called 'Dark Age of Technology' by one of humanity's countless sleeper ships. Its inhabitants were mostly wealthy men and women from around the breadth of ancient Terra who had hoped to establish a civilized world that suited their desires and which they could shape to their pleasure. An interesting convention which quickly rose in their naming schemes however suggested that they had begun to rapidly adopt ancient Welsh and Irish names, mythemes and customs not long after their initial landing where before they had come from a multitude of different cultures. There was a distant urge to chuckle as the idea of it percolated, the very notion that a collective of enthusiasts of Irish and Arthurian mythology would decide to make their own little Camelot, that my ravaged memories could recall both in rather fine detail sharpened my unease. It was bizarre but I decided not to dwell on the fact that I could not recall the look on my granddaughter's face as I read those tales to her, but that those tales I had read to her remained rather clear. Or had it been that I had merely wanted to read those stories to her? I considered. Was it a granddaughter or was it a grandson? At any rate, from the reckoning of the books they succeeded rather well in their aims… until they very suddenly and violently didn’t. They settled alright but a flaw in one of their design databases, more commonly called 'Standard Template Constructs' had left them without a rather key component to human space travel, the predecessor to the Gellar Field, the dimensional bubbles which allowed ships to safely sail the tides of the demonic parallel dimension which enabled interstellar travel. Quite predictably this meant that they had some rather horrible results to their early attempts to replicate the technology and expand into resource-rich systems that their initial probes had determined neighbored the world. Oh, they eventually reverse-engineered a drive from the ones on their colony ship, but it was one with less than ideal stability, this meant that the colonists had become considerably more familiar with the literal hell beneath reality than most. They called it the 'Void of Souls' in their increasingly divergent dialect of High Gothic but I knew another name for it. The Warp. I reached a door after some searching; it had been hermetically sealed but quite fortunately I was literally over a ton of pure awesome in the classical sense. It was quite simple to place hands on the broken glass surrounding the door and pull until I ripped through the weakened steel and continued into what were likely the hallways of what seemed like an abandoned hive city. It came as instinct to navigate the twisting maze of passageways and it took little effort to almost glide over the rusted metal. The original colonists had found a rather ingenious work around to their issues with the Warp problem though, they figured out that the nasty reality-migraines otherwise known as the creatures of the warp did not really like some of the least popular folk in the colony. Some of the weaker entities seemed to suffer extreme existence-failure when around them in fact, it was with this in mind that the handful of individuals (eight in a colony of now millions) ‘volunteered’ for experimentation to better understand this resistance, by which I of course mean that they were dissected like frogs pinned to a table. The work isolated a strange quirk in their genes, a rare one that was previously dismissed as just several of the pieces of junk-D.N.A. which we could not determine the nature of since it seemed to serve no purpose. Very much stumbling through necessity and blind luck into the solution to one of the great riddles of humanity in this reality. I walked past what must have been a large plaza at one point, the roughly hundred-meter-high chamber was illuminated by sunlight, the floors where littered with truly enormous shards of glass from the shattered dome that once topped that chamber. I appreciated both the light and the flow of fresh air coming into the chamber before moving towards that largest chamber, moving towards what I hoped was the exit because the ruined remains and the state of this place did not bode well. It had unnerved me that I had almost forgotten to take note of the ancient, ruined bones that had littered the chamber’s floors. All the reaction which I could muster however was idly noting that it was a shame given how ingenious they had been about their problem (and mentally piecing together the bones as if to rebuild the likenesses of their former owners, which I only belatedly recalled should not be so simple as to do idly). They had tinkered with the 'gene', reproducing it on an enormous scale with far more muted effects while breeding a select few to carry the gene in its full strength. Something which the collection had spoken of vaguely and leaving a great number of questions as to how they had succeeded in the deed beyond some ominous mentions of 'the fruits of the world'. But the relevant fact was their unprecedented success. In a more familiar light, they made themselves into Psi-grade Nulls while generating a smaller group of Omegas or Blanks. The result was that they had managed to produce an enormous population capable of resisting the creatures of the Warp with a core of weaponized pariahs… and they quite obviously screwed it up. The books had done quite a lot to suggest something would inevitably go horribly wrong, the newer works had an intense pride in their ability to resist the tides of the Warp, pure idiocy if you had the amount of forewarning I did. The things in the Warp were both denizens and masses of sentience, a chaotic infinity of soul-forged daemons most accurately called 'Chaos', a mass directed by a pantheon of vicious and cruel gods. Things that a comprehension of frankly almost discouraged the mere effort of attempting to fight them. Maybe that was why the Chaos Gods had sent me here, assuming of course that they did which I personally considered to be a safe bet. After all what better way to demoralize one of their foe’s tools than to show them that even a people whose very nature was a weapon against them were still annihilated? They attempted to harness the warp to their own wills, unable to fear it or truly understand or be tainted by it like other men. In retrospect, I doubted they had encountered anything akin to a Greater Daemon when they began tinkering with it, just because it cannot corrupt you into being its loyal servant or drive you insane with a glance does not mean that it is any less a thirty-foot-tall monster with an axe as big as it is after all. There was proof of the cost of their foolishness as I walked beyond the obvious ruin. Like age. My senses picked at the walls, noted the conditions and measured the decay naturally. And it readily made it obvious that every second area was a different age. Some halls were much like the library I began in, seeming a sparse few centuries old, while others seemed to have endured countless millennia. Another dome I passed seemed almost impossibly new while I sometimes evaded the dead-ends formed by areas having aged so heavily as to have disintegrated. There was life in the ruins, I could smell and taste distant scents as easily as I could see the marks of passing and hear distant steps. Nothing human but enough to persuade me to leave. I emerged from the ruins a few hours later by my reckoning as I noted the sun setting and extrapolated from the light I had occasionally seen during my walk, it shockingly seemed that the planet was in a rather good shape. The only real oddity was the few mathematical incongruities from a logical perspective with my oddly hazy memories of a Terran sunset. My mind quickly worked them out while aligning them with my knowledge of the considerably larger nature of this planet before I could return to a more natural appreciation for the scene before me. Beyond the overgrown fringes of the ruins rose idyllic rolling hills dotted blanketed with a thicket of trees leading into a great forest which seemed to rise in every direction outward broken only by the blue lines of rivers which raced out from the ruined overgrowth. There came a hint of a smile on my lips as I looked out at the beauty of it. I did not look back until I had reached the first green hill since I did not much relish the prospect of staring at more ruin and death, but my curiosity won in the end (as I suspected it often did). My head traced up and took in the sight of the ruins me, I had emerged from a dead hive as I had theorized but the vast sprawling structure that consumed my entire field of vision made it abundantly clear that I must have awoken in the outskirts of the structures. The entire thing was migraine inducing, as my human-self's incomprehension and my Primarch-brain's casual ease clashed against each other. I struggled to properly come to grips with the shattered metallic spires reaching miles into the air, great roots rising and sinking across depressed towers the size of cities which I had only ever seen in the most disproportionate of media. It was as if the planet was attempting to swallow the works of man in its efforts to heal, things had clearly gone south a while ago… although the latest book I had read cited M23 and the world might well have been worn by the Warp as well... That made the most conservative estimates for how long it had been was seven millennia past if I am anywhere around the M30, I thought as parts of my brain forced themselves awake and rapidly evaluated the scene to confirm my guess. My lips parted as I tried to grasp the grotesque scale of the scene, closer evaluations made me realize that vast branches and vines were overgrown hab-segments worn away and fallen, only to become trapped between lower spires. Impossible vertical forests sprouted titanic arms outwards through shattered domes which would have been able to contain the hearts of my time's greatest metropoles with ease. It was hard not to be awed by it, even as my less human side was rapidly clamping down on that awe. My musing was interrupted when I noticed small lights within the ruin begin to brighten from far away, my inhuman eyes could see well enough to know the fires were moves and I could tell some were assuming shape. To my growing unease, the light gave way to vaguely humanoid forms that did not quite seem real like some wild nightmare was slowly infringing upon reality as the night grew darker. One was at the entrance where I left and it was staring at me, it had a shape with tall pale horns and- I turned around and began to pump my gene-crafted legs hard as I ran away, not from fear surprisingly but rather from a very logical conclusion that I was both screwed if I stayed and that I did not in fact want to meet my demise yet again. My every experience and instinct told me that I would not do well in a confrontation against a creature of the Warp if I was lucky enough for there to only be one much less when unarmed and in a less than ideal condition. Such was my certainty that I even managed to crush the upsurge of confidence that tried to impose itself over my good sense. Running straight into the forest seeking the cover of the trees, I weaved my way deep inside until I finally registered that I could hear no sound but my own breathing and the leaves rustling in the wind. With my inhuman senses the dark shadows of the forest were minimal at best while the sounds and smells of the forest were easily cataloged and fortunately natural. I found a great deal of comfort in the lack of movement in the forest and after pressing on a few more minutes to be safe, I began to look for a spot to rest. It did not take long as I located one of the streams that I had spotted entering the forest. Relatively safe, I mulled over what I had witnessed. It was a safe conclusion that the ruins were Warp-infested, frankly given the sheer amount of bones in the ruins, the temporal damage and the works I had read it would not be surprising if the damage was severe enough that something akin to a small tear into the Warp had opened somewhere in the hive and let them slip into the material plane. Which of course raised the question of why I had not been attacked earlier, while it was entirely possible that I was allowed to escape that did not really seem like the standard approach of the Blood God that called such creatures and I somehow doubted that a single Primarch would be worth him and the God of Change cooperating in such a fashion which left me with the conclusion that the Warp creatures were probably not a part of any real plan. Then there was the fact that they neither seemed to pursue but revealed themselves regardless when the sun set. Maybe they were somehow bound to that place? The library had been a private collection so it hardly had the full scope of this place’s technology so perhaps they managed to trap the creatures known as 'Daemons' despite destroying the hive, which was certainly impressive even if they had allowed the monsters in the first place. I sat by the stream to take a moment’s rest while contemplating what to do, or at least that was my intent but for some reason I collapsed into unconsciousness the moment I sat down. Some distant part of my head seemed to register that I felt as if it had been months since I had ingested real food. … It was not the most dignified start to my story in retrospect, but it is the best way to start this recollection. Excerpt: The Hollow Maid
  2. That was eventually bound to happen. Inspired by Simison's Halcyon Wardens and Raktra's Berserkers of Uran (as well as Athrawes' II Legion, although in a slightly more distant measure), I have decided to have a go at both expunged legions. Given my perpetually empty wallet, I probably won't be building them anytime soon, but I might be adding a few "transfer marines" to my next IW squad.
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