Just a short piece I wrote yesterday evening in an hour (brag, much) because I needed a break from my BL submission and I'm always obsessed with a certain Warhammer race ;) Enjoy:
The Thing That Never Should...
Ugly, copper pipes circled the ball, pitted surfaces lightly steaming as foul liquids streamed through them to feed the thing that had spent months growing inside the metal prison. The ball was brass, nearly spherical, two dented halves roughly bolted together with lines of mismatched, ugly rivets. The surface of the ball was a patchwork of scorch-marks, dents and thousands of small scratches, as if a million tiny claws had rent the surface desperately.
The ball and pipes were a halo in an unnatural darkness. Foul, greenish light lit up the ball and its enclosing cage, stray pipes and wires trailing away into the darkness. The darkness was filled with the half-silent, slinking movements of invisible creatures, worming and squirming their way around the centre of the experiment, as if afraid to go closer. Red eyes occasionally flashed towards towards the weathered sphere, catching the light for brief moments before their owner lost his nerve and looked down once more.
“Time-time to wake my creation!” A vile, squeaking voice chittered from a shadowed platform. The cloaked figure's clawed hands scraped a lever down, and protruding fangs opened and shut in eager anticipation.
A random pipe suddenly hissed green gas from the many holes its crude design contained, but what pressurised vapour there was left travelled through the pipe and into the sphere through a chipped valve. The pipe screeched as its poor design failed it, and the shoddy valve snapped, the pipe crashing to the floor, gas steaming from its open end – forming a noxious green cloud.
The slinking shapes in the darkness seemed to become more frenzied as the cloud of gas slowly dispersed into the shadow, and a piercing chittering could be heard along with the frantic patter of paws. The hooded figure kept its hand on the lever, watching the sudden chaos envelop. The fangs dripped stringy ropes of saliva as the figure slowly pulled the lever back, cutting off the deadly gas.
A lone shadow staggered in the darkness, wild eyes flashing, scrawny hands gripping a choking throat. The shadow made a final, horrible gurgling before collapsing with a thump. The other shadows were thrown into a frenzy by the death, but even as they began to look for somewhere to run, a fierce command, screamed out by the figure on the darkened platform, cowed them.
The hooded figure berated the shadows with an insane menace, screaming what could only be promises of death and retribution for disobedience. The shadows, more scared of their master's wrath than the deadly gas, invisible now it had crept into the dark with them, slunk back to their duties tending the sphere and the pipes, casting fearful eyes around themselves, mouths clamped firmly shut together.
The hooded figure settled back into its vigil of the sphere, cackling evilly at its reasserted dominance.
“The creature must be free-free! Release it!”
The shadows warily slunk forwards towards the sphere, their movements displaying obvious fear of what it contained.
Before a single one could even step into the light though, a sudden thundering growl emanated from the seams of the sphere. Amplified by the ball's acoustics, the sounds was primeval, threatening, promising death to anything nearby in its menace. The figure leaned forward, fangs now open in mad delight as the growls intensified. The ball vibrated slightly in its haphazard mountings, and another menacing growl was expunged into the room. The shadows were frozen in fear, not a single one would take even a step forward. The ball rocked again, and a deep thump could be heard inside it. The pipes began shuddering, creating a screeching, ear-piercing clang of rusty metal. The hooded figure leaned further forward, laughing manically, “Release! Release it! I must see-see!” Its words tailed off into incoherent, broken laughter, but beady eyes stared through a set of glowing green lenses, focussed on the rocking sphere.
The thump sounded again, and again, and on its third ring a crack split the air and a sudden rent appeared in the sphere's side. Steam hissed from the crack, and clear, thick liquid oozed in great bubbles through it and down the ball's side.
The ball nearly toppled, several of its mountings breaking off in a scream of stressed iron. The thing inside the sphere reasserted its sense of gravity though, and the ball rocked back to its original position. The crack suddenly widened with another thump, and a gush of amniotic fluid flowed from the new hole.
A claw had thrust itself through the crack, widening the hole and clutching at the dingy air of the room desperately. Whatever was in the sphere, wanted to be out.
The shadows, all composure lost at the sight of the claw, abandoned their positions by the myriad of pipes and wires, and tried to flee in a wriggling mass of darkness and panicked red eyes. The entrance to the dark room was shut though, swathed in darkness and void of any handle or latch. The shadows flew against the door, scratching and biting at the solid metal with claws and teeth made stronger with the clutch of fear.
High above them, on his shadowed platform, the hooded figure laughed insanely, cackling, screeching and howling his mad glee. His fangs and body convulsed with the power of his laughter, but his slitted, evil eyes stayed fixated on the rapidly-breaking sphere.
The claw had enlarged itself into a furred hand, the three digits of which were tipped with ugly, green-tinged, bone claws. The first hand pushed itself into the crack, widening it, and a second hand, identical to the first, shoved itself into the gap and pushed. The muscles of the creature must have been an awesome sight as it strained inside its dark prison, and the shell of brass steadily widened, opening up like a cupola and exposing the beast within to the foul half-light of the room.
Muscular, salivating, blood-red jaws snapped and roared at the fresh air, and a squat neck bunched itself, veins the size of branches sticking out of it. Huge shoulders rotated for the first time, stretching, clicking as the beast familiarised itself with its own, strange anatomy. The body continued down, short, brutal, muscly. The beast's legs were optimised for power over speed, and were also little more than slabs of muscle glistening with amniotic fluid. The beast's skin was covered in short, bristly hairs, in a mottled pattern that covered its entire body. Its feet however, were peculiar. The hair stopped at the lower calf, and was replaced by wrinkled skin which covered a weird foot. An avian design, strange for a walking creature, wrinkled, flat skin covered the sole, and four green-tinged claws protruded from feet that left foul footprints wherever they came down.
The beast stepped out of the wreckage of the brass ball that had served as its womb, and now, fully birthed, its rat-like, long snout and jaw were held up to the air, and the great nostrils sniffed.
The beast's eyes glittered in triumph, and it prowled forward, towards the clustering shadows that still attempted to run from it. It was stopped, though, by the bewildering array of pipes and nozzles that had clustered its metal egg. The beast looked puzzled for a second, but evidently decided brute strength would beat this strange opponent. With a feral roar, the beast split a copper pipe in two with a sweep of its claws, and battered its way through the rest.
The hooded figure's insane laughing increased in pitch until it was almost ear-splittingly painful, and the evil figure pointed at the frenzied shadows, “Kill-kill, creature! Kill-kill!”
The beast didn't turn to acknowledge the evil being that had created it, but charged straight into the mass of squirming shadows, howling a war-cry. It slashed with its claws, dismembering several shapes, and speared another with a foot-claw. The shadows could put up no resistance to the vile creature, and a high-pitched chittering rose up from them and increased in sound until it was little more than a desperate scream of horror. The beast slaughtered them mercilessly though, and even though it would have been deadly enough with its claws and teeth, it had one more, very unpleasant trick.
It snapped up a shadow in its jaw, crunched down with blood-stained teeth, and
tossed the dead scrap of fur away. Then it crouched low, opening its jaws and howling into the remaining mass. Its maw was a black pit, swelling with the convulsions of its chest and neck, and the creature suddenly belched forward a noxious mass of green gas. Several shadows fell, quivering as the poison released into the air took hold of their bodies with a dreadful, and final purpose.
The hooded figure watched with the delight of a child playing with its favourite toy as his plague-ogre decimated the remaining shadows. Soon, the last mewling wretch was silenced, and the figure was left hanging over his platform rail, eyes greedily searching the darkness for its beast.
It cackled when it picked out movement and heard the snap of flesh and the crunch of bones. “Feast, my spawn-pup. Feast and grow strong in this dungeon. Feast, and your creation-master will be back for you.”
With those sinister words still echoing off of the dark walls, the hooded figure turned and shuffled off along its platform. It was quickly engulfed in the darkness, and the only sight left was the sickly ring of light surrounding a crushed brass ball, and the sound of an ogre devouring in the darkness.