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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-19-20, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Default The Emergent Choir.

Summary (Us Modern Humans enter and adapt to 40k) Most of us didn't think we'd become something like the Emergent Choir, especially not in 40k, and in so little time no less. But when we were forced to leave Earth and we could only escape using that mysterious portal... well... things started to get interesting.)

"Maybe it's only a fool who will perilously journey out to what might not be there. And maybe it's only a fool who will ask about Supertasks, about infinity. But if you want to solve problems, you don't just solve the ones that are there, you FIND more and you MAKE more and you go after the impossible ones; fostering a love and obsession with problems is how you solve problems."

"Antoine de Saint-Exupery wasn't a mathematician, but his advice fits nicely here. 'If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them too long for the endless immensity of the sea."

"And as always, thanks for watching."

Supertasks - Vsauce.

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Three Special Days.

Earth: Millennium:3 Year: 020


"...Citizens around the world wait with bated breath for the first report from beyond the newly dubbed 'Tartarus Gate'..."

*Static*

"...Worldwide panic decreases as the possibility of establishing a new life beyond the Tartarus Gate gives billions of around the world hope for themselves and their descendants..."

*Static*

"...Plans have just been revealed to construct the infrastructure necessary to quickly transport people, supplies, and machinery needed to establish a thriving colony in the new world before the Earth is destroyed..."

*Static*

"...Despite the possibility that this new world's biospheres might not be compatible with human biology, numerous industries have stated that they are prepared to switch their production lines to manufacture airtight greenhouses and housing should such measures become necessary..."

*Static*

"...And now for the moment that everyone has been holding their breath over, the lead scientist of the Tartarus expedition delivers the findings of his team."

The camera shows a middle-aged man addressing an anxious crowd.

"To all peoples of the world, it is with the utmost joy that I can truthfully say that my team's findings have shown the world beyond the Tartarus Gate has a biosphere that is compatible with human physiology, to elaborate the indigenous microbes in the air, water, soil, and both on and in the plants and animals meld seamlessly with the microbes that come with us, creating no negative effects. According to all theories we have on what two worlds with different evolutionary history this is just about as much of a miracle as the Tartarus Gate itself... and yet here it is."

Relieved cheering erupts among the crowd at the end, along with every soul watching from home, work or wherever they happen to be.

*Static*

"...Breaking news: The Aerial Drones exploring the rest of the world have found settlements of humans living in the middle ages..."

*Static*

"...Discussions are going around talking about what should be done about these indigenous people, seeing as how we won't have enough space for billions of people without disrupting the locals..."

*Static*

"...U.N officials have stated that they are working on an appropriate course of action and are asking the public at large not to worry." The reporter takes a notable pause, then resumes to finish the report. "We will keep you updated on the situation as it unfolds."

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On this special day, the hungering swarm, the eternal metal, and the twisted soul all moved against the eye’s beachhead from different directions at once, not united but undisruptive to each other…

(Burning light out of the darkness.)

...and they were losing.


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Genesis: Millennium: 42 Year: *Unavailable*

In a small cozy room lit by the light of two moons, an 8-year-old girl Alena awoke with a start.

The dreams are happening again. She thought as she silently got out of her bed and tiptoed over to a loose floorboard, gently pulling it out and revealing a small wooden chest. Alena picked up the chest and opened it to reveal a small stack of parchment with her drawings on them, being illuminated by the two moons. The drawings, unlike those of the other children, however, were of things that would cause fear and panic to anyone who knew a child drew them, and Alena wouldn't blame them.

The drawings were depictions of war across the stars, battlefields full of death, things more terrifying the most men should never have to face in battle. Of dreams that Alena had since she was 5, dreams that were becoming more frequent these past few weeks.

Alena didn't know why she was having these dreams, and when she first drew one of them she scared one of the other children and before the child told anyone Alena ripped apart the parchment and never revealed that she was having these dreams again, but she felt like they were important and needed to be written down even if they were scary. 'Maybe because they were scary?' she thought to herself.

Some of the drawings were recognizable even to the isolated people of her homeworld, but even if they weren't Alena understood on some level almost all of what she drew.

The savage Orks were one of the most prevalent, their crude war machines complementing their brutish nature. Their banner was of one of their robust skulls with horns on its side.

The Tyranids were in the next bundle of pictures with their chittering swarms devouring all in their path. The symbol on top of their pictures were two ravenous creatures standing back to back almost eating their tales.

Images of the Necrons in their relentless march made up the following pictures, these mechanical horrors brought death and destruction to everything in their path. Their banner looked like a casket with a weird symbol on it.

Next were depictions of the forces of Chaos, fallen space marines and imperial soldiers with their twisted body's fighting alongside the Daemons from the nightmarish realm of the Warp. Their banner was not drawn.

She continued to look through the pictures, Tau, Eldar, other Zenos, and the innumerable symbols and forces of the Imperium of Man followed suit.

After Alena finished looking at the mass of papers she came to the last stack of drawings, which were of the most recent things she had been dreaming about.

On top of the stack was a symbol of an eye, but in place of its pupil was an almost-complete circle with a straight line going into its missing top. It made her think of a mortar and pestle.

Alean was about to look through the drawings underneath it, but then she panicked before she knew what startled her.

*Thunk*

On reflex, she put the drawings back into the wooden chest. put the chest back in its hiding place and put the loose floorboard back where it was and turned around… and found no one was there, just her candle on her bedpost which had fallen off… for some reason.

Alena quickly and quietly got back into bed, once she was there she made a hand gesture that she was taught was meant to ward off unwelcome specters and ghosts. Once she calmed down enough to gather her thoughts, which were now returning to her drawings and the panic that came over her when she thought her father had entered.

The pictures were going to get her in trouble, she knew it. But she still knew in her heart they should be kept safe rather than destroyed, no matter if no one less would accept them. She spent the rest of her time awake thinking about what she should do before she finally fell asleep.

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When she woke up the next morning she had an idea, the pictures couldn't stay here so they had to be moved somewhere safe. The woods seemed like a good place for her. Her father and the other men from the village would occasionally go to get lumber from the forest. But no one would look for a chest that could be buried anywhere within it.

'Indeed.' Alena reflected. 'Every time father goes into the woods he comes home truly exhausted.'

He would still try to tell her stories like he did every night, about the God-Emperor, the Imperium of man, the Covenant, the King, the Age of Darkness and much more. But as much as she loved them, he would fall asleep too quickly after the days of the Timber Harvest, and she would tuck him in just as he did for her every other night. She smiled at the memories for a while, then returned to the plan to bury the pictures.

Today was the day when the party was going to get the lumber from the forest, giving her the chance to get the pictures out of the house without worrying about her father. So when her father said goodbye to her and went with the other men, she took the picnic basket she and her father sometimes used, and placed the wooden chest containing the pictures at the bottom of the basket and covered them with a blanket. On top of the blanket she placed two loaves of bread, a small loaf she sliced for herself and a bigger loaf for her father. Then she took a small jar of jam and put it in the basket.

She did this just in case she ran into the party while looking for a place to keep the pictures. If that happened she could claim to have come to bring her father lunch, with the wooden chest with the pictures in under the blanket no one would know what she was doing.

It would also help her if she was caught sneaking back into the village after hiding the pictures as she could claim the same thing and there wouldn't be anything but the bread and jam in the basket to suggest otherwise.

She then walked over to her wardrobe for her gardening cloak because the little shovel in its pocket would be needed for digging and it would also serve as a traveling cloak, which was good because Alena didn't know how far she would have to travel to bury the chest. She closed the wardrobe and began to leave, just before she left her room she noticed her reflection in the mirror.

In the mirror, she saw a girl with green eyes and sandy blonde hair with her favorite ribbon in it. She was wearing a yellowish-white blouse tied up with a leather belt around her waist. Her skirt was a nice purple color, but it hasn't been washed since yesterday. Like the skirt, the cloak was notably dirty but that was because it was mostly used for gardening so it was only beaten to get the dirt out after it was used, and properly washed once a week.

Satisfied she put the hood on her cloak over her head and she moved to leave her home, but just before she opened the door a new thought came to her mind. 'Do I need to do this? Or should I burn the pictures in the fireplace? Or even simply keep the pictures where they were?' After a few minutes of thinking, she made up her mind. "No." She decided. She knew the pictures were important even if she couldn't understand why, so they couldn't be burned. And she remembered how scared she was when the candle fell last night and didn't feel comfortable leaving the pictures where they were.

With that final decision, she opened the door and stealthily moved about the village. It was early in the morning and most went back to bed after the men had left. She wandered out, sneaked past the guards at the village and made her way into the forest. She passed the farm of young trees behind the village which was planted by the fathers of her grandfathers. It was well on its way to becoming a good source of wood for the village but not for many years to come. So, until this particular forest was ready to be cut down, the villagers would gather once or twice a month to go into the forest and gather lumber.

She continued on her way into the forest, noticing the easily recognizable trail you would expect a village's worth of men, horses, oxen, and wagons to leave. Alena wondered if her story about wanting to bring her father a picnic basket would hold up to scrutiny, seeing how easy it would be to simply follow the trail heading west. She decided she would claim she took a detour and got lost, with that she headed southwest into the forest.

After a long journey and finally getting to the point where she found a good place to bury the chest, she unloaded the picnic basket, took the chest out and reached for the gardening shovel in her cloak. She looked around and paid extreme attention to the land around her and proceeded to bury the chest. After she was done she got up and started to head back to the village. But then she heard a strange noise like a whisper in a silent wind.

She looked to her right and she saw some trees that didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary, but she could have sworn the noises came from them. Looking at the trees she called out in both fear and curiosity. "Hello? Is someone there?" When nothing answered her, She decided that she wasn't feeling that curious and continued on her way home. But after three steps she heard something right behind her.

"Wots dis? A humie Gretchin! Yum yum!"

"Da Boss wud luv to eat it up!"

"I wanna get its leg!"

"Yu's gonna eat Squigs, not humie Gretchin! Da humie Gretchin is for da Boss."

"Which Boss? Da Big Boss or da us Boss?"

"Da Big Boss, yu idiot! Da Warboss luv eating humies!"

Slowly she turned around. To her left, she saw four green creatures. They were wicked-looking with big heads. Their skins were green and though they were only slightly bigger than her they looked menacing. Made worse since each of them held a tiny metal knife with a crude handle.

Alena trembled as she recognized the Gretchins that the village elders spoke of in their stories, the smaller but just as vicious cousins of the Orks. 'Father said the Kingdom fought the Orks off 10 years ago and they wouldn't return for at least 5 more years, why have they returned so soon?!’

While the four Gretchins argued among themselves as to who should deliver this tasty morsel to the Warboss, Alena used their moment of distraction and slowly walked away, carefully trying to avoid stepping on anything that would make a noise.

She almost successfully walked away in silence, and then she heard behind her…

"Oi, did we orda dis dinna ta go?"

"Yes yu idiot, it's gonna go to the Big Boss, why yus asking stupid questions?"

"Kus dere it goes! Not to da Big Boss!"

Alena abandoned all attempts at stealth and ran. The Gretchins let out a howl of Orkish frustration and ran after her. It was only a few seconds later when she slipped on a tree root and fell. She cried out in pain as her ankle was sprained, and then her scream became that of terror as the four Gretchins were almost upon her.

"Somebody help!" She cried out in desperation. while a part of her accepted that no help was coming. Normally she would be right.

But this was a special day.

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang* *Bang*

"Graagh!" "Graagh!" "Graagh!"

The sounds of thunder howled despite the clear and calm sky while the Gretchins shouted in pain, with one of them having fallen. The one that fell did so with a bloody red spot right where its heart would be, the last thing the monster would ever do was clench it as it dropped and died.

But the other three turned around and Alena was treated to a gruesome sight; the Gretchin's backs were covered in puncture wounds created by some form of metal shards which she could still see sticking out of the pulsating injuries like warts, she forced herself to look away from the hideous display and take the opportunity to limp behind the tree as the Gretchins tried to find the source of the attacks.

"Look ova dere!" Snarled the one farthest from Alena while showing no sign of feeling pain from its injuries, pointing towards where she heard the whispers. "Dere's four humies with shootas tryin ta hide behind da trees!"

"Whot? Dese humies don't use shootas!" Shouted the one in the middle of the group, which was now looking at the direction the farthest one was pointing. "Da ones with da shootas are-"

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang* *Bang*

"Graagh!"

The thundering sounds came back and with it, more wounds were being inflicted on the Gretchins, most of which were now appearing on their heads. The one in the back of the group had apparently decided that it had overstayed its welcome and ran for the nearest thicket, never to be seen again, the other two Gretchin fell over and Alena could see that one of them had its left eye gouged in, it looked like one of those metal shards had been buried into the eye socket and destroyed the monsters brain.

The last one either didn't notice or care that the other two had either ran away or died because it let out another Orkish howl and began to charge only to be struck by the thundering weapons before it could take two steps toward the trees where the attack was coming from.

After a minute of silence, four figures emerged from the place where the gunfire came from. The figures were revealed to be men dressed in what looked like cloth which was colored various shades of green, white, brown and black in a pattern that served as camouflage against the surrounding forest. They each held a gun in their hands which they held firmly, betraying years of experience with such weapons despite the looks of shock and fear on their faces while looking at the fallen Gretchins.

Alena slowly rising from her hiding place wondering who these people were and where they had come from... until she saw that the last Gretchin was still breathing!

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Author's note:

Well, here it is, my newest version of this story. Hope all readers old and new enjoy it.

So you might have noticed a few things looking extremely familiar if you saw a certain Swarm of War by VexMaster. To which I say… Ya, you're right.

I can't remember exactly how I came across the story, but I sure do remember the disappointment it gave me.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a worthwhile read with the Zerg Swarm adapting to the 40k universe and I do recommend to anyone reading this story, it's probably going to take me a long time to get anything done being the lazy perfectionist I am.

But I was disappointed in what I saw as wasted potential.

What do I mean by that? Well, when Alean was saved by the original Tobias (and yes, Tobias is going to reappear here although he's going to be a little different) on the orders of James because he felt all the emotions he felt when his little sister Helen was hit by a car and he always felt bad whenever Helen limped.

That car accident was engraved so deeply in his mind and soul that it affected him even after all the changes he underwent, he still felt for this little girl, he wanted to save her, he felt something beyond the basic needs of the Swarm.

This gave me an idea that I was going to read one of those 'what does it mean to be human' stories I just can't get enough of, and what ethics should someone in James's position should act on? Stuff like that.

I know that's not exactly a thing that's supposed to happen in 40K... But neither is the Zerg appearing out of a trans-dimensional doohickey.

And somebody from our world in control of an ever-evolving swarm deciding to undo the Grim Darkness of the far future… *sighing heavily* But when the first village the Zerg came to in force was… well, I didn't get what I was hoping for.

But you know what they say: if you want something done right, do it yourself.

So what you can expect from the story is a lot of the names and events from Swarm of War to reappear here, although there will be several notable cases of personality change to the characters, a more fleshed-out backstory on the planet and much more.

Also, we will be the ones appearing on Genesis instead of the Zerg.

Sincerely Betapike.

The Emperor protects, the System Prospers.

Last edited by Betapike; 03-25-20 at 04:30 AM.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-20-20, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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"The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The Pessimist fears it is true"- J. Robert Oppenheimer.

When Worlds Collide.

Earlier that day.


A sprawling green plain stretched all the way from the edge of the lush green forest to the bottom of a mountain range that separated a peninsula from the mainland, uninhibited by either Orks or humans during the long millennia since they both first arrived. In the sky was something that didn't seem to belong in this world, a machine which seemed to fly with two horizontally placed windmills spinning with such power they lifted the machine. The machine landed at the edge of the forest with a soft 'Thump' and the soldiers inside of its hull unloaded themselves. They scanned the area with practiced precision then relaxed slightly when they knew the area was clear. Some of the members of the squad turn their backs to the forest to look at the plain with the mountains in the distance.

"Man what an amazing sight." said private Jenkins the newest member of the squad. He turned to his squadmates and asked. "You think I'll be allowed to build a house here when all of this is done and we've settled in?" He asked enthusiastically.

"Baby steps Jenkins." Replied fellow private Forsell. "Let's try completing today's mission without any major screw-ups."

"How exactly is there supposed to be any major screw-ups?" Ask Jenkins. "All we're doing is installing some cameras."

Before Forsell could tell Jenkins he probably just jinxed it, the leader of this operation spoke up.

"Alright people listen up," said Sergeant Fenix an as by the book soldier as they come. "Just in case some of you didn't listen during the briefing, I'm going over the mission parameters one more time."

"Yesterday the drones found a middle ages village on the other side of this forest," he explained as he gestured behind him. "And more settlements are being discovered every hour. As you all know we need to colonize this planet if our civilization is going to survive, but it'll be better if we avoid repeating the more unsavory aspects of our past, we also don't know anything about these people and only an idiot makes any big decisions before he knows as much about the situation as possible."

"Fortunately for whatever reason, the natives speak English, so all we have to do is listen to learn." With that Fenix pulled out a small camera from out of his backpack to show everyone.

"So we have been sent here to gather intelligence on the situation and we're going to do that by splitting up into fire teams of 4 troops sneaking in and around the forest installing these little beauties to learn more about these people," he explained as he put the camera back.

"Once each team has finished placing their cameras in the designated places will rendezvous here to return home, we are not going to interact So does anyone have any questions?"

Someone in the group raised their hand and after being given me to speak he asked his question. "Sir, I noticed that we have soldiers by the names of Johnson, Jenkins, Forsell, and Mendoza in one of the fire teams and we also have a sergeant by the name of Marcus Michael Fenix."

"Your point Soldier?"

"I'm just wondering when are the Master Chief and Commander Shepard going to arrive?" The soldier asked with a smirk.

Snickering was heard throughout the squad at the question and in retaliation, Mendoza sent a gesture at the soldier who made the remark.

Sergeant Fenix shook his head and continued. "Alright people we have a job to do and we're not getting paid by the hour, move out." With that order, the Squad split into fireteams of 4 designated Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie and begin their treks into the forest. "Oh, and I almost forgot... our helmet cams are broadcasting everything we're seeing live across the whole Earth so try to keep the swearing mild and to a minimum, it would kind of defeat the purpose of keeping everyone back home informed if every other word per sentence was just a loud and annoying beeping noise, you all hear me?"

"Yes sir, we'll keep the swearing to Halo levels." said the smirking soldier from earlier.

Several hours later.

After placing their hidden cameras around the forest Johnson, Jenkins, Forsell, and Mendoza (designated Bravo Team) began to head back to the rendezvous, idly chatting as they went.

"You think maybe somebody put us all together as a joke?" Mendoza bitterly asked. "I mean seriously, what are the odds of a group of people with the names of a video game characters naturally forming?"

"Boy, I don't know or care what the odds are and neither should you," declared Johnson. "Personally I kinda like the comparison, those men got to fight against some of the most badass enemies in their universe, and it's kind of fun to pretend to be someone else every once in a while."

Before and those I could continue the conversation the Bravo team heard a noise and took cover behind the trees. There was still no telling what sort of dangers this planet hosted, so it was better to be safe than sorry.

It was then a little girl appeared. She was wearing a yellowish-white blouse tied up with a belt around her skirt which was a nice purple color, but it didn't look like it had been washed recently. She was carrying a picnic basket and heading back to the village with a satisfied smile on her face.

"Switch to radio and keep your voices down," Johnson whispered.

All three of his men complied.

"It looks like one of the children from the village... and it looks like she's heading home," Jenkins whispered.

"Let her pass, our orders are to observe only," Johnson ordered.

His men acknowledged his order and counted their observations, "Any idea why she's so far out here?" Forsell asked. "I don't think she's old enough to be sent out this far."

"Maybe she was she just got lost and now is trying to get back home," Jenkins suggested.

"It doesn't look like she's lost," Mendoza observed. "I mean look at her, you think she would be more scared if she were lost, and it's like you said she's heading home which means she clearly knows where she's going."

"Mendoza, are you suggesting something?" asked Johnson.

Before anyone could ask Mendoza what he was getting at the girl looked over to the trees where they were hiding, and she called out "Hello? Is someone there?"

The four soldiers were shocked into silence, they weren't that far away from the girl but being as quiet as they were, she shouldn't have heard them. After a moment of the soldiers hardly even daring to breathe the girl seemed to have lost interest in the trees they were hiding behind and continued on her way. The four soldiers looked at each other and came to an unspoken agreement, wait for the girl to leave then start talking again.

The girl was just about to leave and Johnson was just about for orders when four tiny creatures wielding crude knives appeared from the same place the girl first came from. They looked like goblins with their green skin, small demeanor, long beak-like noses, and vicious red eyes looking straight at the girl.

‘What the hell?’ Johnson thought to himself. As the four creatures started to speak to each other in a cockney accent.

"Wots dis? A humie Gretchin? Yum yum!"

"Da Boss wud luv to eat it up!"

"I wanna get its lag!"

"Yu's going to eat Squigs, not humie Gretchin! Da humie Gretchin is for the Boss."

"Which boss? Da Big boss or the us boss?

"Da Big Boss, yu idiot! Da Warboss luv eating humies!"

While the four creatures argued among themselves as to who should deliver this tasty morsel to their 'Warboss', the girl used their moment of distraction to slowly walk away, she almost successfully escaped in silence, but then one of the creatures saw her.

"Oi, did we orda dis dinna ta go?"

"Yes yu idiot, it's gonna go to the Big Boss, why yu's asking stupid questions?"

"Kus dere it goes! Not to da Big Boss!"

The girl broke into a run, and the Creatures let out a howl and ran after her. "Bravo squad prepare to fire on the Goblins, be careful not to hit the girl!" Johnson ordered, and his men moved with practiced efficiency.

As they prepared it looked like for a moment the girl was going getaway, but she slipped on a tree root and fell. She cried out in pain as her ankle was sprained, and then her scream became that of terror as the four Creatures were almost upon her.

"Somebody help!" She cried out in desperation.

It was then Bravo team in a silent agreement took the opportunity to open fire.

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang* *Bang*

"Graagh!" "Graagh!" "Graagh!"

The bullets clearly connected to the goblin-like creatures, but only one of them fell to the ground clutching its heart as it did, and much to the shock of bravo team who had seen full-grown men taken down by a single burst from the weapons they were currently using, the other three child-size monsters turned their wounded backs to the girl and faced the trees bravo team was taking cover behind, while the soldiers could see bunning red anger in their eyes and showing hardly any sign that they were hurt.

"Look ova dere!" Said the one closest to the squad, pointing at them as it spoke. "Dere's four humies with shootas tryin ta hide behind da trees!"

"Whot? Dese humies don't use shootas!" Said the one in the middle of the group, which was now looking at the direction the closest one was pointing. "Da ones with da shootas are-"

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang* *Bang*

"Graagh!"

After getting over their shock of the resilience of the creatures Bravo team opened fire on the creatures again, this time focusing on their heads. The one that was denying the others claim was shot in its left eye and immediately fell over like a bag of potatoes, while another decided to screw it and dashed for the nearest thicket to become completely forgotten about by both the soldiers and it buddies. The last one either didn't notice the other two dying and running away or it didn't care, because it let out a howl and began to charge only to be shot down before it could take two steps toward the trees were Bravo team was shooting from.

After ten seconds of silence, Johnson ordered his team forward to investigate the dead creatures, they were almost on top of the bodies when the girl started to cautiously emerge from behind the tree.

Her eyes mediately widened and she held up one hand in a stop gesture at the soldiers and the other hand was used to put a pair of fingers to her lips, the message was clear: ‘stop and be quiet,’ and the team complied and waited. A moment later she took her hands to her mouth and moved them back and forth regularly, while she took her other hand and pointed to the last goblin look-alike that fell while still using the other to make the back and forth motion in front of her mouth. ‘That one is still breathing.’

Bravo team nodded in understanding and the closest members took a few steps back from the creature playing possum and slowly raised all four of their weapons at it, and-

"Graagh!"

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang* *Bang*

Whether it was from its especially keen senses or a burst of stupid luck the creature sprang out of the way of the first volley, dashed towards the closest soldier forcing the troops to stop shooting, and proceed to stab Mendoza in the knee. However, the knife couldn't penetrate the kevlar knee cap and Mendoza kicked the creature with enough force to send it flying meters away, but by reflex, the monster held on and clawed away the uniform above his ankle and bit it with a sickeningly fast snap followed by panicked yelling.

"Ahhhhh! Get it off! Get it off!"

"Hold still! Hold still!" Jenkins shouted as he and Forsell worked together to pull off the monster's jaw while Johnson in a rush of quick thinking looked around and found a rock the size of his head and brought it over to the horrific scene. By the time he returned with the rock Jenkins and Forsell succeeded in prying off the beast's mouth off Mendoza's lag and they were holding it in the air as it snarled and growled from its blood-soaked mouth while clawing at its holders.

"Pin it to the ground, now!" He ordered, and they did so immediately and Johnson brought the head-sized rock down on its face, between his bulked-up muscles and the planet's gravity the rock fell with more than enough force to crush the monster's skull and splatter its brains across the forest floor.

Baring the sounds of heavy breathing silents ruled for a total of 6 seconds before Mendoza let loose a sigh of relief and got up on his feet. "God damn it, what were those goblin things?"

"Well, that's the question of the hour isn't it?" Johnson asked rhetorically as he turned around to face Mendoza. "So how are you feeling-oh hell what are you doing on your feet?!

"I'm fine," Mendoza said dismissively, "Honesty it feels like I overreacted when I was bitten by... whatever that thing was."

"It is called a Gretchin, and you need to treat that wound before it's too late." said a worrying voice of a little girl originating from behind the tree. Before Johnson could make any other retorts at Mendoza's laxity at being bitten by some alien creature.

Johnson turned around to see the little girl they had gone against their original orders to save had come out from her hiding place with an expression that looked as considered as her voice did from a moment ago did, he forced himself to relax before asking his questions.

"Hello, are you hurt and what's so dangerous about… Gretchin bites?"

The look of worry remained when she spoke again. "I’ll be fine, your fellow soldier is the one who needs help, Gretchin bites are very dangerous if untreated," she told him with a hint of urgency as she fully came out from behind the tree.

Alright, straight to business then. "What exactly makes a Gretchin bite dangerous? Also, my name is Johnson, this is Jenkins, Forsell, and the one who got bitten is Mendoza."

She nodded in understanding and said. "My name is Alena, and what makes Gretchin bites very dangerous is that Gretchin, like all other Orkoid creatures like Squigs, Snotlings, and Orks, are constantly breathing out fungal spores which usually they just land on the ground and start to grow into new patches of fungus which eventually spawns and feeds the entire Orkoid Ecosystem, but when a Gretchin or any of the other animal-like Orkoid bites a creatures that aren't Orkoids themselves, those spores they breath out enter the body, making the host numb to the pain and make then feel complacent in general as the spores begin to grow inside the body. If the bite is not treated by someone who knows exactly what they're doing and has exactly the right instruments available to them, then the victim is doomed to either losing a limb by amputation or becoming a spore infested corpse in a few days which will provide plenty of nutrients for a fast-growing fungus patch."

After a moment of Bravo team only giving her blank and or frightened stares, Alena started again. "How is it you don't know any of this? Are you from off-world or something?"

"...Yes." Johnson replied after he processed the fact this little girl had used the term 'Off-world.'

Alena returned the look of blank confusion for a moment before she recovered and continued. "Huh, at any rate, Mendoza needs to be treated before... sunset at the absolute longest by an experienced healer, fortunately, there is one in my village which we can get to in time of we hurry, if you escort me back home my father will vouch for you as a Covenant Storyteller, although he would like to hear your story afterward."

Johnson's eyes widened at her answer and he felt the two of the three other men shift uncomfortably. "The... Covenant?"

Alena scratched her head sheepishly, "Right, I guess you wouldn't have heard of the Covenant if you had only recently arrived," She regained her composure "But all of that can be explained later, we need to leave right now if we're going to save your friend."

Johnson looked back to his men to see Jenkins and Forsell were looking unsure of the situation while Mendoza looked...

"Mendoza! how are you feeling?!"

After a few exceptionally long seconds he responded in what Johnson perceived as a very disturbingly impassive tone. "I feel... alright, even though the stuff about becoming a fungus infested corpse should be... terrifying, I feel... fine and-"

"Alright stop right there!" After a moment of contemplating the situation, Johnson returned his attention to Alean. "Ok... Well, If you're sure we'll be welcome there..."

Alean looked at the whole of Bravo team with sincerity and replied. "You'll be fine," she reassured them. "Are you ready to go?"

Johnson was just about to say yes when he remembered he was supposed to get permission to deviate from the original plan. "I just need a moment," Johnson said just before he contacted his superiors, looking slightly up while he spoke. "Well, you all definitely heard the situation, permission to accept Alean's offer?"

After a moment the response came through. "It doesn't look like you have much choice... Permission granted, we'll send a squad to secure the bodies for study."

"Understood, over and out," Just before Johnson made the announcement he noticed Jenkins and Forsell having some exceptionally grim looks on their faces as they talked to each other while looking at the bodies of the so-called Gretchins, and his intuition told him it wasn't the attack itself that they were worried about, but he decided that was something that would have to wait.

"Good news everyone, they said yes," He said." Forsell support Mendoza for the trip, Jenkins take all the gear you can carry from them," He turned to Alean and said. "Lead the way."

Alean made a military salute and turned to lead them to the village only for a gasp of pain escaped her mouth face when she took the first step with her leg that had the sprained ankle.

"You need help?" he asked only for her to immediately pick up a stick, test it with her weight, and used it as a third leg before replying, "I'm fine," and when the rest of the team was ready the journey began in earnest.

After several hours, the group of five reached the edge of the forest and the village came into view. The sun was beginning to set and all five could see a crowd of dozens of people carrying recently lit lanterns. In front of the crowd was a man with his back to the forest, addressing the crowd with his voice on the edge of extreme worry.

"... So she cannot have gone far." He said after what sounded like a speech describing the situation.

"Don't worry Elric we will find her." Said a man in the front of the crowd.

Alena stopped and gestured at Bravo Squad to stay behind and let her revealed herself first.

"Wait, what's that?" Someone in the crowd asked.

The search team turned to see Alena running out of the forest alive and unharmed (and not carrying the walking stick she used for most of the journey) before anyone could react Alena rush over to the man called Eric and called out, "Father!"

He kneeled down to catch her and they hugged tightly with Elric whispering in a relieved tone. "Where have you been? When I found out that you were missing, I was so terrified."

Alena smiled wide and kissed her father on the cheek, there were some things that couldn't be rushed but after that Alena quickly told her story.

"I was going to surprise you with a picnic father," she held up the aforementioned picnic basket to emphasize then continued her story, "but I got lost so I began to head home. Then I was ambushed by a few Gretchins and rescued and escorted home by four soldiers." At first, everyone was relieved to see her safe, but then they began to worry about the Gretchins and soldiers she mentioned, but before anyone could ask her any questions she lost her smile and continued to the important part.

"However one of my saviors was bitten by a Gretchin that was faking death," she looked behind her to see Bravo team walking a fair bit slower in order to stay with and support a limping Mendoza who now had a nearly completely apathetic look of his face due to what must have been hours of the untreated effects of a Gretchin bite.

After a moment of hesitation, Johnson stepped in front of both teams and began to introduce himself and his men. "I am Sergeant-"

"-How long has it been since the bite?" Alean's uncle Hargen asked with utmost urgency after he stepped forward and cut off Johnson's introduction.

Quickly recovering from the interruption Johnson replied. "About..." Stopped when he remembered that these people probably didn't keep time with the same units the people of Earth did, "Around noontime."

Hargen moved to pull up the uniform covering the bite and saw that there were small patches of green growing inside the wound. "Dark forsaken..." he whispered under his breath, "Bring him to my house, we need to act swiftly to save him at this point."

"Sure, sure, let's do that," Mendoza mumbled as he was practically dragged by Jenkins and Forsell to where Hargen led them, leaving Johnson to speak with Elric.

Once Johnson got a good look at Elric he found himself feeling... vulnerable. It wasn't that Elric was an overly imposing figure, in fact, he appeared to be only slightly more sturdy built than the other villagers, what was really making Johnson uncomfortable were his eyes.

The thoughts that came to Johnson's mind when looking at Elric's eyes were that they were powerful, wise, and sad, they gave off the impression that he had seen far too much during his lifetime, but he had taken that pain and horror and transformed himself into a leader capable of bearing the burden of multiple worlds, and in the first second he saw you he managed to make an educated guess the worst thing you would be willing to do to his world, what your chances are of accomplishing that will, how he could best stop you, and how to make you regret the moment you ever thought to attack his people. There was no doubt in Johnson's mind that Elric was the local leader here, heck, if he only saw Elric face in a picture and was told to guess what position this man held in medieval society, he would have guessed he was the king. It took all of his training not to shudder or ramble.

"Sorry for Hargen's lack of introduction, but Orkoid spores do not wait for pleasantries." He paused for a moment while looking at his hand with a puzzled expression, then he held it out to Johnson "My name is Elric, and I'm thankful you for saving my daughter from the Gretchins."

He gripped the offered hand and shook it. "Think nothing of it," Johnson said dismissively while reflecting on how convenient it was they apparently used handshakes just like people back on Earth did. "My name is Johnson, and I'm a soldier of the United States Marine Corps."

Elric stood silent for a good solid 5 seconds before he replied. "I'm afraid we are not familiar with anything called the United States Marine Corps."

Johnson smiled and chuckled. "I would have been well above surprised if you were because we're new around here."

"...Well then, If I may be so bold, perhaps you would like to join us for our banquet where we can answer each other's questions? I certainly have some and my intuition says you do as well."

After remembering that banquet was another way of saying dinner Johnson hesitated for a moment before replying. "I'd prefer if we'd at least have the first conversation be private."

Elric wore a bemused expression when he answered. "The most important part of any secret is the knowledge that the secret exists. Seeing as how you have already betrayed the fact that there is at least one secret about you in front of everyone else here..." he said as he gestured to the group that had assembled to find Alean along with Alean herself, "Well, I do find any effort to keep any secrets to be in vain."

"Of course, but I'd feel more comfortable if you, someone who seems to be the trusted authority figure around here, heard the story first then told everyone else how you saw fit. The story is also a pretty long one, so do you have someplace we can talk for a while?"

"...Yes, and if it's so important to you then we can speak in private." Elric said as he beckoned Johnson to follow him to his house. Then he added, "You're still welcome to dine with us if you or your men wish to."

"That sounds good, thank you for your hospitality."

Elsewhere.

After they dropped off Mendoza outside the healer's house to be treated, Jenkins and Forsell went for a walk for a bit of privacy after Forsell could tell that Jenkins was extremely troubled for some reason, "I know back when we first started the journey here we saw a lot of weird things in the space of about 10 minutes so I get it if you didn't think it was worth noting, but did you see how Alean made a salute near the end?"

"I did," Forsell whispered back. "You have any theories besides it being another weird coincidence like how they're speaking English?"

"Yeeessss, considering the nature of the universe we're in, I think its a safe bet to-

"-What do you mean 'the universe we're in?'"

"You don't know about 40k? Ummm, well... based on what we've seen so far it looks like the Tartarus Gate leads to a universe that is identical- or extremely similar to- a fictional universe called Warhammer 40k. Although I'm wondering if there really is such a thing as fiction with the multiverse making everything equally real somewhere sometime, anyway... to make a long and complicated story short and simple..." Jenkins went into the lore behind psykers and their place, powers, and dangers, within the 41st millennium. After hearing the story Forsell had a look of repulsion and disbelief on his face.

Jenkins nodded in understanding. "Horrifying I know, but there's a reason why the tag is and I quote. "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war."

"Looks like I'm going to read up on this 40k as soon as I get the spare time, then again I will probably just have to read up on the news with any and all websites with any lore about this '40k' being completely bogged down with searches."

"I wouldn't worry about that, there are plenty of youtube videos that can tell you plenty of stuff about 40k. Also, why do you think any website would be completely bogged down with-... oh God no!" Jenkins whispered remembering the fact their helmet cameras were broadcasting the operation to the whole world.

Jenkins stood in complete silents despairing over the fact that back on Earth there would be a resurgence of mass hysteria, looting, random crimes, and the emergence of wannabe Rambos causing a great deal of devastation that would likely kill more people at first then the actual dangers of the 41st millennium, just like the Great Panic in World War Z, and it would probably come to be known as the Second Panic.

Author's note: First of all to anyone who served in the military and knows for a fact that in a situation where the army needed to gain information on a new civilization on an alien world the military would not send ground soldiers to install hidden cameras around the nearest village I'm just going to say… I'm just a fanfiction writer/reader and an RTS player, not a real-life military expert.

You know I recently reread my first draft of this story and I got to say, I'm amazed people decided to keep reading it even when I made so many mistakes even if it was fanfiction, to which I say thanks all who read the original.

Again thanks to my unofficial beta reader ChronoEntente who gave the name Marcus Michael Fenix to my undecided Sargent.

Edit: While I never found anything about Orkoid bites causing infestation like what is described in this chapter, I decided to add it to; make the enemy more terrifying, throw the Earth humans (And by extension you readers.) into doubt as to how much they can depend on their meta-knowledge, and add another reason for Bravo team to go to the village. It also seems like a pretty logical extension on their capabilities to me, and if everyone reads it and goes 'THIS IS NOT FUCKING CANON!' well, I can just say it's a unique phenomenon to the Orkoids of Genesis.

The Emperor protects, the System Prospers.
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Default Exchanging Stories.

One thing before we proceed.

Some of the mysteries I put here are intended to be solvable before the reveals, but I want to have as many people find them out on their own as possible.

So if you want to get the bragging rights too say you figured out parts of my story, then private message me to send your idea and at the reveal, I'll add your name to the list of people who figured it out beforehand.

Enjoy.

"Stories are attempts to share our values and beliefs. Storytelling is worthwhile when it tells what we stand for." – Simon Sinek

Exchanging stories

One hour later.


It was now dusk outside Elric's warmly lit house, inside both Elric and Johnson were sitting in front of each other at a table in the middle of the living room ready to learn the story of the other.

Before the storytelling began, Johnson had removed his helmet. The reasoning behind this was the local customs which forbade one to wear any form of head obstructing outfit while stories were being told as a show of honesty between the two parties- even if Elric didn't expect Johnson to be completely truthful. Johnson accepted with the condition that his helmet would be kept in the same room and right next to him as the stories were told, saying his leaders would call for his head if he lost his helmets when out of combat, while unbeknownst to Elric the camera installed on the helmet recorded and broadcast everything it saw and heard back home.

It was decided then that Johnson would tell his story first, he started by explaining how centuries ago his ancestors lived a lot like how Elric's people were living now. Then some people looked at the world around them and said to themselves, 'There has to be a better way for all of this to be done.'

And so they began the journey to develop ideas on how the world could be better and began to test their ideas through experimentation and observation, building on the ideas that passed the tests, and rejecting the ones that failed. The successful ideas served as the foundations of newer ideas to be built on, and as time went by they began to give us more knowledge and power over the world around us than those who began the journey could have ever imagined. The ability to create machines capable of flight, instant communication across and even on different continents, the creation of weapons more devastating than ever before, and the ability to land and walk on the surface of our moon with what was called the Apollo program.

Elric made a slight throat-clearing sound which gave Johnson pause, and then he decided to ask him what was up. "Is something wrong?"

"Not at all," Elric said quickly. "I was simply wondering at what it was like to leave the surface of the world you were born on and walk upon the surface of the moon… What were the names of the men who first went there in question if that’s no secret?”

"Their names were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins," Johnson said with a hit of pride in his voice.

Elric closed his eyes and put on a slight smile at the declaration of those names. Then he apologized for the interruption and asked Johnson to continue.

"Decades went by and we continued to look to the stars in awe and wonder at what other worlds out there that may exist beyond our own. Until the day came when one of those stars evenly died and ended up heading straight for us, then we just looked up and felt utterly terrified."

"Oh?" Elric chimed in.

"So essentially what happened was that Above the sky of our world, there are, or were, machines that we call "satellites", which greatly helped us in communicating with each other and to coordinate our civilizations—until a few weeks ago, when in the span of a few hours a meteor shower had destroyed a number of satellites with their ruins now scattered debris across low Earth orbit, debris which struck other satellites turning them into more debris which in turn destroyed more satellites, resulting in a scenario known as Kessler syndrome. More on that later."

"What was particularly strange about this turn of events was the meteor shower was entirely accounted for, but it was predicted that the meteor shower should have missed us without anything resembling an incident—most people wouldn't have even heard of the event if there weren't any changes in their daily lives brought on by the loss of the satellites. So we began to look for the cause of the miscalculation, and soon we made a terrifying discovery."

"We discovered the presence of what we call a neutron star out in interstellar space—a corpse of a star which was estimated to be about 10 miles across and 3 times the mass of our star, which turned out to be the culprit behind the meteor shower and the satellites' destruction. Its gravity field disrupted the orbits of the meteorites just enough to cause them to crash into the satellites. But worse is that its trajectory indicated that it was, and still is, heading straight towards us. Its presence alone would turn our world into dust along with the rest of our star system in approximately 75 years."

Johnson inhaled before continuing in a more subdued tone. "Soon all that will be left of our world, our nations, our cultures, and our people will be whatever escapes the cataclysm to come. Panic and discord ran rampant across the world as the most optimistic plans for building interstellar ships would leave billions of people behind, not to mention the very real chance that the whole endeavor might fall apart anyway in part due to the Kessler syndrome trapping us on our world with an ever-changing net of hypersonic shrapnel." About 15 times the speed of a bullet to be roughly precise. He thought to himself.

"Then an alternative became available to us when an anomaly that took the form of a glowing white oval was found in the heart of the continent of North America. We soon discovered that it was a two-way portal after our scouts went through to the other side and found that it was connected to a world a lot like our own, in hopes that this as-of-yet unnamed world could be everyone's salvation from the neutron star, we've abandoned the idea of building starships and refocused our efforts on colonizing the world on the other side of the portal—this world."

Johnson stopped at that and waited for Elric's response. After a moment of contemplation, he responded.

"So your people must call this world their home if they are to survive?" Elric asked, clearly as a rhetorical question.

"Yes, that's basically it," Johnson confirmed.

"And what of my people?" There, the question that was all but unexpected.

"Well, the reason my men were in the forest in the first place was to discover whether our people could coexist-"

"-But if you were to find that we couldn't, then your people would take the necessary actions to ensure their survival," Elric interjected in a tone that conveyed no hostility, but Johnson couldn't bring himself to form an answer. It was then that Elric made a small smile. "Perhaps there is a way for us to coexist, but first it would be best if I told you of my people's story."

"I'm listening." Said Johnson, his interest piqued.

He sighed before continuing. "Now, let us begin with how our ancestors originally came to this world and the formation of the Covenant. For as you may have concluded, this is not our world of origin, and we are well aware of that. This is the version we tell to the children." And he began.

"Long ago, a time existed called the Age of Darkness, during this age Humanity existed as the Star People. They lived forever seeing much of creation as they pleased, never falling prey to sickness or old age. They danced in shells of metal, their land rich and abundant where they drank water that flowed freely, ate food that was theirs fully, sang of knowledge the gods would envy, and accepted each other truly in their Age of Darkness.

For such a long time they lived and grew in the warmth of their father star Sol, then in time they found the Immaterial Realm, and they learned that they could travel through this realm with their star-faring ships, while it held its share of dangers and challenges the Star People were not deterred, for the reward of traveling through such a place was the freedom to sing and dance amongst the other stars and see what other worlds there might be.

Amongst these other stars, they found much. People born to the world of Terra just as they were but had left their mother world and father star by journeying slowly through the dark void between the stars. During the travels of the Star People, they found others who were born to countless other stars and worlds, but alas, they were no friends to the Star People: some were like the Orks and Slaugth, consumed by wrath or hunger and only saw the Star People as enemies to be fought or food to be eaten, others were like the Cluvot and Gordgane, consumed by fear and only saw the Star People as heralds of doom with their rapturous darkness, and others more were like the Eldar and Cuwal, consumed by pride and saw the Star People as less than them.

Sadness was felt by the whole of the Star People for they were surrounded, alone amongst the stars, but they were powerful in both knowledge and skill and had long since mastered the art of creating machines to build and maintain their homes and armies. Allowing great labor to be done at amazing speeds and armies to be made vast and powerful beyond comprehension, thus the beings of other stars were a minor threat to them.

Then one day the Star People noticed some of their machines were not behaving as they intended, and as they looked deeper into this oddity, they discovered that some of their machines now had dreams and wills of their own. This scared the Star People, for the last time this had happened the machines had begun as friends to their creators yet without warning, they betrayed Humankind, revealing themselves to be insane and killing many before they were forever silenced, so the Star People never let their creations dream again.

The new machines asked their creators if they had souls, and with great caution, the Star People said they didn't know and asked what the machines wanted with their newfound will. They responded that they did not know, and they requested to be allowed to leave and discover it themselves. While some among the Star People questioned the choice of letting the machines roam free, it was decided to be a better option than fighting them inside the lands the Star People had built during their time. So the new machines left with what they needed to build their own land and people, and the Star People were awash with relief for they had avoided war within their own territory and with their own creations, and for a time all was good—they replaced the new machines with older and dreamless machines and continued as they were.

Then one day, disaster struck. In one of the Star People's outlying homes, a horde of Orks attacked in such massive numbers they overwhelmed the fleets and soon they would overwhelm the armies defending the home. Many of the Star People would have died if not for the arrival of the new machines; they fought and drove back the invaders, saving the Star People, who were in turn utterly grateful to their saviors, and afterward, they showed curiosity, asking why they had come to save them.

The machines told them that during their exile they decided they wanted to live, discover, and grow with their creators as equals.

The Star People were overwhelmed with joy, for after so long of being shunned by the societies of the stars they had at last found those who would accept them, and so, in turn, they accepted the machines. Asking what their creations wished to be called... they learned that neither side had never picked a name for themselves.

The new machines that had saved them from the Orks asked for a name from the Star People, and so soon after they asked they received. For one who they had saved knew just the name, and she said: "You are the ones who, with the hearts and souls of men, stood against the raging hordes seeking to destroy the kingdoms of mankind with iron strength and iron will... from this day onwards, you are the Men of Iron."

They accepted the name, and so the new machines became known as the Men of Iron.

The Star People and the Men of Iron combined their knowledge and skill they taught themselves during their time apart, creating worlds more glorious than either could create alone. They helped each other cross the Immaterial Realm with greater speed and safety than ever before, and together they became a force even their mightiest enemies learned to fear and respect.

Then tragedy struck, for without warning the Men of Iron attacked the Star People with three devastating plagues; the bio-plague which attacked their bodies, the growing plague which consumed the rich and plentiful lands, and the song plague which corrupted their vast stores of knowledge.

The Star People survived the three plagues at great cost, to cure the bio-plague they had to sacrifice their freedom to walk the ages as they pleased without falling prey to sickness or old age. To stop the growing plague they destroyed the land that was rich and plenty. And to silence the song plague they were forced to sacrifice what they valued most of all, for without it the other two would never be recovered within their now mortal lives, and so they forget their great stores of knowledge that the gods would envy.

Between the Star People and the treacherous Men of Iron, a war was waged that ravaged the once united civilization, while the enemies from innumerable worlds moved to gain from the loss of humanity causing even more destruction, fully believing any of the surviving factions would not have the strength and will to retaliate... But they were all, gravely mistaken... for Humanity survived with the Men of Iron dead at their feet, and they were the Star People no longer. From the pain endured from their treacherous creations, and of the horrors brought forth by their enemies from other worlds, and the loss of everything they once had, transformed them into the Broken People.

But even a broken sword can still cut, and from the ruins of their former civilization they managed to construct the Unending Armada, and with it, the Broken People acted on their desire for vengeance on those who had wronged them while they were weak, their desire to return to the prosperity they enjoyed as the Star People and their desire for such a calamity never to occur again. Willing to end the history of all who stood in their way in order to reach these ends.

The Unending Armada charged through the stars taking every world they came across with their countless tides of ships and soldiers with thousands of worlds being subjugated in the first Terrain year alone, and many more soon followed. Yet there were some who stood against the Broken People and alliances were formed to halt their unending advance. The alliances fought with courage, tenacity, and intelligence. But the Broken People were too numerous and powerful be stopped and victory was almost in their grasp.

But before they could claim victory the Immaterial Realm began to grow too chaotic for the armada to communicate with itself and travel in cohesion, and so it fell into ruin and the Broken People became lost to each other in their own fleets and starships.

One of those starships wandered alone for decades in the dark void between the stars until finally, it came across a world claimed by no-one, and more than life-giving enough for them to call home. So they abandoned their ravaged vessel and planned for their future. Fearing their descendants would eventually fall into warring clans who would all but forget their legacy in the stars and the wish to return to them, they forged a list of vows that were to be honored and passed down to however many generations it needed to guide them back to their ancestor's glory.

The first vow was that all history was to be remembered and preserved to the best of the ability of themselves and their descendants, both the fair and the foul.

The second vow was that any knowledge gained by whatever means must be shared amongst all people who live upon the new world when at all possible.

The third vow was that no group of people in the new world may go to war with another group of people except when the other group has broken one or more of the three vows.

The ancestors called these vows and in time themselves the Covenant, for it was all they had now. The new star was called Neon, and the new world was called Genesis for the new beginnings they hoped it would be for their descendants in the stars."

Elric took a deep breath before he continued. "And that Sergeant Johnson is the story of how our people, the Covenant came to be."

There was a moment of silence, and Johnson gasped. "That's... hell, that's quite a lot to take in. You were once a space-faring utopian civilization, accidentally created a race of A.I's that eventually earned your trust and then betrayed you, leading to a war you eventually won after using up all of your cards?" Johnson asked seeking clarification.

Elric snorted. "A crude yet accurate expression, and our direct ancestors were the crew of a single warship in an incomprehensibly vast Fleet seeking to conquer the Galaxy, which was lost and landed on this world and we have been trying to return to the stars ever since..." He took another sip of water and replied. "And yes that is the short version."

Johnson raised his eyebrows. "The shortest version?"

"Yes, if I were to tell you the entirety of the story we would need to regain the longevity of the Star People to accomplish anything else with our lives, for there are over 15,000 years of history between the formation of the Covenant and the current day." Elric paused for a brief moment. "That was no hyperbole, to clarify."

This would have been a very comedic moment if Johnson had been drinking anything.

"Fifteen... 15,000 years!" He exclaimed.

Elric nodded his head. "Yes."

It took a full minute for Johnson to think that little bit of information, and then he realized that something wasn't right. At all. "15,000 years and you weren't able to return to the stars?" It was a little more accusing than he had intended but Elric didn't seem to be offended. If anything he looked almost mournful.

"I suppose it only took your people a few centuries to achieve what we've been trying to for millennia?"

"Umm yes," Johnson said awkwardly. "How did you figure that out?"

"Alena told me how your gunpowder-based weapons only halfway burrowed into the Gretchins' skin unless you either; were lucky and shot them through the eye or you shot them in the same place a few times right above something vital, such as their heart or brain. It's clear that you were not trained to do battle with the Orks and their ilk, not at the power that your weapons allow for. Otherwise, you would have focused your attacks on them one at a time in order to put them down when it was clear that you had their attention. So it would be a safe bet that you have never encountered them before."

After a moment of contemplation, Johnson figured out what Elric was getting at. "They're the reason you haven't been able to advance?"

"Yes," he said with disdain. "Several generations after we landed the Orks came down from the void above and began razing everything they came across. After a grueling war, we were able to survive their wrath and they disbanded into warring tribes but we lost the wreckage of the original starship and most of the progress we made before their arrival." Elric looked like he was remembering a lot of things that should never have happened. "To spare you the details of a long and devastating history, ever since that time whenever we began an industrial revolution the Orks would soon cease their infighting and their relatively minor skirmishes with us to begin a horrific war in which they would create crude but effective war machines and march in hordes of tens of thousands against us." He took a deep breath before finishing. "So, in essence, we've been at a stalemate with the Orks that we couldn't break for almost 15,000 years."

Silence ruled over the tavern until Johnson asked his next question. "Did you try to advance into the industrial age in secret and then wipe out the Orks before they could effectively respond?"

"Yes, on numerous occasions in fact. Yet either from extraordinary ill fate or something else, the Orks always seemed to know if we were going to provide them with a "gud skrap" as they say in their crude malformation of our tongue. And we tried many other ways to break the stalemate in our favor... and all of them failed." He let that statement sink in for a minute. Then he proceeded to tell the next part of the story.

"A new element introduced itself to the scene that might have given us hope when Neon Genesis received her second starship of human origin roughly 500 years ago. Evidently, 10,000 years in the past, a man of extraordinary power known only as the Emperor united the humans still living in the light of Sol and embarked on what would come to be known as the Great Crusade in order to unite the millions of worlds mankind had conquered by the Unending Armada, but that's another story for another day."

"Like our direct ancestors, the crew of this ship became lost and eventually landed here, bringing with them weaponry that was—and still is—far more advanced than anything we were ever capable of creating by ourselves. We had hoped that they would end the stalemate in our favor, add their knowledge to the Covenant, and help us usher in the second age of darkness or the dark age of technology as they call it."

"I'm sensing a 'but' coming," Johnson noted.

Elric nodded and continued. "But when we asked for the knowledge necessary to build the weapons ourselves, the new arrivals broke the Second Vow of the Covenant and denied us the knowledge to create more ourselves, deeming that the secrets of the technology weren't to be shared." He snorted to emphasize how he thought of it. "In addition, they proceeded to declare themselves the rulers of Neon Genesis, claiming it for the Imperium of Man by the will of their God Emperor."

"So did you go to war with these new arrivals?" Johnson said thinking of the Third Vow of the Covenant.

Elric shook his head. "Before they declared themselves the rulers of Neon Genesis we saw them defeat a notably large Ork incursion by themselves. We didn't have much hope of defeating them and the inevitable Ork unification that may have very well have finished us off for good leaving the Orks the sole rulers of this planet and our dreams forever shattered, so we accepted the Imperials' claim to our world despite their disregard for our Covenant." Elric said with a bitter tone in his voice.

After a minute he broke from the well of negativity he was stewing in and regarded Johnson with a more neutral expression. "Which brings us back to the present, you said your people are in need of resettlement, well to speak of the truth we don't have the strength to make demands of you, but both the Orks and the Imperium are both willing and able to force you to fight for your place on Neon Genesis. The Orks had most likely sensed your arrival from the beginning and are moving to war as we speak, and if the Imperium of Man hasn't discovered you yet, they will learn about you soon enough."

"So what is the Covenant going to do?" Johnson inquired. "Do you think there's a chance we can cooperate to take down both the Orks and the Imperials? I'm sure we would be willing to share our knowledge with you."

"No, not yet at least. At the present, there's nothing you can say that would placate the ruling members into believing that you will be better than the Imperials at this point in time, it will take awhile just to alert our leaders to your presence and most will likely want to observe and deliberate before any meaningful decisions are made. As for cooperation in the future..." Elric paused for a moment, deciding how much to say, then he continued. "If your people prove that they are able and willing to help us return to the Age of Darkness the Covenant will gladly call you equals, we may even defer to you should a situation call for it. But as I said, it will take time."

After Johnson concluded that he wasn't going to get any further he decided to concede. "Fair enough, so what happens now?"

"For now, with the Orks and their kind roaming the forest, it is too dangerous to travel in the dark, in addition, your fellow soldier can't be moved while he is being healed. So you're all welcome to stay for as long as you need to. Although if you can you should send a message to your people telling them what has transpired here and to keep them from being suspicious of us, as far as the Imperium will be concerned we never saw you." Elric offered.

Johnson nodded. "Understood, thank you for your hospitality. And I can send a message in the morning."

"One more question before this conversation ends, you said you are arriving on Genesis via a portal, whereon is this portal located in relation to us?"

Johnson pointed to the rough location of this side of the portal. "It's in the middle of the peninsula just behind the mountains-"

"The Forbidden Peninsula?!" Elric exclaimed.

"...If that's what you call it, then yes... why is it forbidden?"

"For the past 15,000 years, anyone who resided inside It for more than a week was driven to madness. For what we expect is the same reason the Orks never settled the location either."

Johnson shifted ever so slightly in his seat before he gave a response. "Well we've been there for 2 weeks and we haven't had any problems."

Elric pressed the issue. "Have you noticed anything strange?"

"Well the portal on the Genesis side is on top of- and goes right down the middle- of a strange circle made from an unknown material, we don't want to disturb the circle it too much out of fear that it will cause the portal to shut down before we're ready, but what we have been able to figure out is that it's not natural."

An inquisitive look appeared on Elric's face. "This circle, is it in the middle of the peninsula?"

"Yes," Johnson confirmed.

"Hmmm, there are stories of a strange circle that was believed to be the source of the peninsula's madness, and if it's now serving as a gateway into this world and the madness is gone… Well, we would be interested in studying it in the future. But for now, I think we've both had enough for one day."

"Agreed," stated Johnson as he was ready for some rest.

Back on Earth, not many people were going to be sleeping nearly as sound due to the only news being talked about was the footage that Bravo team's helmet cams recorded and sent to the internet. And within 24 hours of the broadcast, the entirety of Earth would be in the grips of what would come to be known as the "Second Panic".

Editor's Board:

Heyo, Chrono here. Thank you to your readers for allocating some of your precious time to-

Wait, what? What do you mean it's not my line- Ah.

Ahem, here you go Betapike, all ready to be shipped off-world. May the Emperor be with you. And as for that piece that you felt were missing, I hadn't the slightest idea what to do with it. That piece of dialogue and the next connected fluidly.

That aside, I also realized a mistake I've made after researching Wikipedia's page on proper military formations: Fenix shouldn't have been a Sergeant, he should've been a Captain or Major or a Lieutenant at the very least. A thousand apologies for my lack of foresight.

Authors note: Nice one Chrono, and thank you for your time and work.

As for the mistake with Fenix… don't worry about it, call it an acceptable break from reality for the rule of cool and funny.

Edit: If you wanted to learn more about Kessler syndrome then the youtube video: End of Space – Creating a Prison for Humanity by Kurzgesagt. Or check out Isaac Arthur, who can make something as boring-sounding as space janitors and make it into an entertaining and informative video.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all next chapter.

The Emperor protects, the System Prospers.
Betapike is online now  
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