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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-07-14, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Default Cancer

Fully Warhammer 40k version of a Prototype Crossover I wrote before finding out about Legienstrasse, I decided to remove all Prototype references and post it here, since it seems to be rather popular. I did my best to keep the original formatting, but italic won't show up and some paragraph have merged, sorry.

____


Chapter 1: Dying

I have found that cancer is an excellent analogy for pretty much everything; ranging from why our society is falling apart to just why my own sickness will not be cured.

Life has a sick sense of humor, I'd only just turned twenty-four and was about to marry into a very influential noble family from Cadia, a good way for plebe like myself to get out of the gutter. Sure, it's not love; she sees me as a pretty face with muscle and the means to get out of an arranged wedding to some old ship captain, while I, well, I'm just some lower class docker. Annoying and self-centered as that bitch is, I do not intend to spit on a ticket out of the slums.

Well, not relevant now, is it?

I sit up and slip my grey-formerly-white long sleeved shirt back on.

The doctor seems almost sorry that she can't save me. Brain tumor is too much for some underground clinic to handle. Throne, a splinter would be too much for them to handle, but it's all I can afford. I already called my fiancé to tell her of my condition, I've known for a week now, but she seems to think cancer is some form of mutation, stupid cow.

"What will you do now?" The doctor seems genuinely interested in my plans, so I answer with honesty while buttoning up my top.

"I saw a woman in the park the other night, she offered me lessons of something called Yoga, I have enough credits to take her up on it, then maybe I will go see my friend Lars, he's a shuttle pilot for a merchant ship, see if he can teach me how to fly…" Showing up to work again seems pretty much pointless now, I will try things I feel like doing, throw away all the credits I saved up, then go see the planetary governor, slash open his throat and get killed by the PDF.

I don't say the last part out loud.

With a short nod, she parts the curtains leading to straight to the street and step aside to let me through.

She works and lives in a shack at the heart of the city slums, that's about two kilometers from the park. Two kilometers of people living in cardboard boxes, eating refuses and all around trying to get by and, from the looks of it, failing lamentably. Isn't it indicative of our whole society that my only assets are muscles and a pretty face, yet I get better accommodations than a full blown doctor?

I sprint through it, hopping over drunkards of the floor, ducking under clothes line with my worn shoes soon filling with muddy water from all the puddles. It hasn't rained in months, that mist spraying over the slums is leakage from a high pressure pipe that runs all the shanty town's length. It's been leaking skak and refuses for as long as anyone remembers. Every now and then, someone with technical skills and time on their hands will patch up some of it, only for another weak spot to burst somewhere down the line.

I've stopped caring, as have most inhabitants.

Diana, the Yoga girl, does not seem to ever sleep, drink or eat at all, she spends her life wandering around the park, reading books far too complicated for my brain power, working out and speaking to rejects like myself.

I latch onto a chainlink fence twice my side and climb the thing up in a second. It's easy, I'm in a very good shape, not only because of my job as a dock worker, but also because I spend most of my free time running around, delivering packages to people who are in too much of a hurry to wait for the postal services… Or who would like to have their mail delivered before dying of natural cause…

Heh, I wanted to live longer by keeping myself in shape, so much for that idea.

My shirt, pants and shoes are soaked with putrid water after I land in a large puddle, if I don't clean that up, there's no telling how many diseases I might contract. Who cares? I just keep on running.

The park is actually a bit of the city that fell into disrepair a few centuries back and now overrun by jungle. The streets remain and the buildings have long since crumbled, making the old ruins perfectly safe to explore for people with a lot of free time, like me. That's another thing that kept me in shape; running away from the occasional wild boar you find in the ruins.

On busier planets, dock workers can work around the clock and back before getting a pat in the back and being told to keep going. Me, I get maybe two ships a week. This means I spent a lot of time debating with Diana, about the imperium, yes, but also about the emperor himself, whom she keeps referring to as Dead Guy or His Holy Corpse.

I could report her for heresy, but…

Okay, I don't have a logical reason not to, maybe I think she's attractive and my lower brains are influencing me, or maybe it's just that I hate the imperium anyhow.

Not sure I hated it before meeting Diana, though… Well, who knows why idiots like me do anything at all?

As always, the woman is sitting on her park bench, the only one without graffiti, chipped paint or missing boards. She's reading a book dating from before Horus' betrayal and smiling to herself. She always smiles. And curse, curses I really never heard anyone else use, some she tests one or twice then never uses again, but she's crazy, so I never called her out on those.

Jogging up the path, the smell of feces following me as I go, I stumble to a stop right before her and collapse on the bench to her left. My lungs immediately start burning, but it's not that bad.

Frak, of course it's not that bad, my body is slowly killing me, having an arm ripped off wouldn't look that bad to me at this point. The smell is kind of an inconvenience, however, but Diana does not seem to notice. She looks up from her book and starts spilling philosophical nonsense like a bird mother feeding her hatchlings.


Chapter 2: Meet and Greet

Being dead is not as bad as it's made out to be. There is no darkness, no light either. You don't feel bad, you don't feel regrets, you don't feel at all, which doesn't mean you aren't. It lasts forever, and yet only an instant. Eternal slumber is wonderful. No after-life, no life at all, no thoughts and no worry, just peace. For the first time in my life, I feel at peace… Then, some fekking idiot brings me back to life.

"What is this?" Booms a commanding voice from the non-darkness, dragging my struggling soul further away from oblivion. Something cold entraps me, compacts me in a frozen prison two sizes two small. A brain… My brain. Thoughts return; worries, hormones, time and all that background noise.

I feel pressure against my neck, followed by a tiny prick and much beeping and gurgling. This is one odd mosquito…

"Jan Rey," A second voice, closer to me yet muffled somehow, answers the first, "He's no one."

That I am, but where I am is what really interests me. Somehow, I can't see a thing nor move a muscle, so perhaps I should wait and see what happens. What happened might be a good question to ask too, last thing I remember is sitting next to that crazy girl that lives in the park… Did she drug me? Would not come as a real surprise, really. The only other option would be that I died, then came back, which would really make things a tad complicated.

"He must be someone to have survived this assault." The booming voice snaps back.

Yeah, right, simple dock workers don't just survive assaults from… What attacked me anyway? Diana? That girl couldn't hurt a fly if she tried, and if she did try, the fly could scare her away with a harsh reprimand.

Not that it matters, I can hardly think of anything that would attack me and that I could somehow survive without running like a rabbit, except, perhaps, other deadbeats like myself.

"It says here that he is a dock worker, engaged to some noble from Cadia... Ah, that's interesting…"

Me? Interesting? I bore myself half to death every time I look back at the fun parts of my life!

"What?" A third voice pushes, apparently eager to get the frak out of here.

The second voice seems to be further away now, probably gone to show something to his friends. "He has a cancerous brain tumor, put in three requests for surgical procedures, all denied. He should have died almost a month ago…"

What? The doc gave me six months to live before I left her clinic! Did I miss something? Of course I missed something, I mean… I don't know what I mean, let's just hope something else happens soon because being quadriplegic and blind is turning out not to be death-like enough for my taste.

"Well, he lives, can he fight?" The first voices cuts in, apparently as eager as the other one to get out of here, so eager he's outright skipped can he move?

"His arms are buried under boulders weighting twice as much as he does, I doubt he will be much use in a fight if we dig him out…"

Something big walks up to me and I feel a cold rush of air against my arms and face, immediately followed by blood red light and the sight of three massive silhouettes towering over me.

Ultramarines, two scouts and an assault marine. They tend to come here for refueling on their way out of Ultramar, when the main space lanes are not available.

I guess this is a pretty serious matter, maybe I should say something deep or official… "Hello, milords, welcome to Baria!" What am I, a tour guide? 'Welcome to Baria.' Bloody hell.

One of the scouts, the one that seemingly took a DNA sample from me, scoffs at that. "Very nice planet you have here, citizen," a glance around tells me we are actually uptown, in the richest part of the city; whatever part of it that are not burned down to a crisp are falling apart, which takes away some of its charm, not that I'll miss the pompous infrastructure, "can you move your arms?" His voice, muffled by the breathing apparatus on his face, snaps my head back to him.

My arms rise and twist easily, fingers wiggling around like they are supposed to. "Yes."

The assault marine has walked away while we were talking and now yells something from the right.

A lasgun almost hits me in the face, but is stopped in extremis by something blurry and pale white.

My arm.

I actually caught the thing! It's quite an exploit to me, I am as clumsy as a drunk amputee trying to juggle chainsaws. Bad analogy, but you get the idea.

None of the marines says anything, either at the fact this was an impressive catch or at how crazy the assault guy is for throwing a loaded weapon at me like that. Maybe it was some kind of test, to see if I'm worth keeping around, or maybe he just tried to brain me and save himself a lot of trouble later on.

I must have done good, however, because the scout marine helps me back to my feet and holds me up until the dizziness goes away.

The weapon in my hand is boxy, the clip is behind the grip, integrated to the stock and there's an holographic red bullseye on top of it

"You know how to use a lasgun?" The scout asks, a lot more courteously than I would expect from a superhuman killing machine.

I don't, really, like every able bodied men on Baria, I was a reservist for the PDF, but we trained with autoguns, not lasers. I tell him just that.

"Same concept; point, shoot, dive for cover when you fail to kill it."

I nod, lasguns are called flashlights by some of the less pious members of our society, 'Bringing the Emperor's light to the darkest corners of the galaxy' has an all new meaning once you hear that nickname.

"Let's move." The assault marine barks, stepping past me and almost causing me to soil my pants. How can something this large move so quietly?

They march through the rubbles pretty casually, but I can see their eyes scanning every rock and window. We move, with the assault marine up front and me in the back, for about five minutes, passing by burning tank wrecks, corpses of guardsmen, torn to pieces and discarded like broken toys, quite a few craters and a lot of scorch marks all over, like someone sprayed molten lava all over the city. The sky itself seems to be bleeding in places, smoke from way beyond the horizon covering up most of it, tinted red by the multiple infernos raging across Baria.

"What exactly are we fighting?" A stupid question, one I should have asked much earlier, but, I don't know; Ultramarines kind of intimidate me, somehow.

"Tyranids," The only talkative member of the group answers, "A small incursion, many chapters sent their scout companies here so we can get some…"He gets smacked behind the helmet by the assault marine. I guess that's classified, but then again… "He's dying anyway, Sergeant!"

Yeah, that.

"Maybe he is, but he could still talk to someone before that time."

Rubbles to my right, bombed out road ahead and behind me, dismembered corpses to my left, "Who do you want me to talk to? There's only the three of you!"

You ever get glared at by an armored Astarte? I feel genuinely relieved that I will likely die from cancer before this is over. Maybe that's what's going on; the tumor has done so much damage to my mind I'm no longer in touch with reality…

Something on the scout marine's belt beeps pretty alarmingly and he stops to look at the hand held cogitator. His helmet bobs up and down as he looks at me, then back at the machine. We all stopped to look at him and his two comrades soon step closer to see what the machine is saying.

The assault marine takes on step forward, looking straight at me, draws his pistol and shoots me in the face.


Chapter 3: Biting Back

Many see bolters as handheld rocket launchers, these people are either idiots, citizens of less advanced worlds or just too zealous to accept the mighty Astarte's weapon might not be the one most awesome handheld killing machine in the universe.

Truth is, bolters have a massive caliber and advanced ammunition that explode after penetrating the target, a brilliant concept against the hardest foes out there, but against a squishy, unarmoured human like me, it is superfluous, as the bolts' impact alone pretty much severs my head and the ammunition explodes far behind me.

There is no oblivion here, just darkness and the mother of all headaches.

I fall to my knees, still aware of the air rushing past me and the dull thud of my legs hitting the ground.

I could get up, everything seems to still be responding, but blame it on decapitation through massive firepower, that thought isn't very appealing, so I let my body fall in the rubbles. I can't see or hear anything, but that's not as surprising as the fact I realize that I'm surprised at all. How can someone be self-aware without central nervous system? On the plus side, that's a tumor I won't have to worry about anymore!

Light returns at the same time as sound, with a wet noise and much tickling around my face.

So I still have a face, huh? Odd.

The red sky draped in black clouds is all that I can see at first, my peripheral vision taking its time to come back, then I see the crumbling buildings, an eight stories circular tower to the left with its top half blown to a menacing shard, a plain concrete supply depot at my feet with bolt impacts over all the bleached walls I can see, and some dust covered husk of an office building with all its floor collapsed, leaving only the outer shell and eight slabs of solid concrete sandwiched in the basement.

The headache is gone, not sure when, and I feel more awake than I ever did, like someone poured a bucket of ice cold water straight in my brain.

Flipping over to look at my blind spot, I notice the trio walking away, still on the lookout and guns held high, as if nothing had happened. Pushing myself off the floor can't have made that much noise, but the assault marine apparently has excellent hearing or just good instinct and has his boltgun pointed at me the second I'm on my feet.

"I killed you." I expected something deeper.

Not that I've got much to say in response, bastard shot me in the face without warning or explanation, so much for the whole honorable warrior thing, so much for being humanity's protector. I'm angry, no, I'm fraking enraged at this superhuman warrior pointing a massive gun at me and I really don't see a reason I shouldn't be, he thinks just because he received advanced implants and high end equipment, he's worth more than me? That's gakking bullocks, he's just a man, a man who had luck in his life and never once had to work to overcome his weaknesses; he was born genetically superior, selected in the Ultramarines at a young age and given the best instruction available. Me, on the other hand, I was born scrawny, was taught how to read and write by my parents and everything else I know, I taught myself or read in whatever books I managed to find.

He's weak for being so strong, I'm strong for being so weak, that's the concept of inheritance versus reward, and now I feel like I could rip him apart. Let's try out that idea; most likely won't work, but he's going to kill me anyway. Let's hope he does the job right this time.

The ground feels soft under my feet when I push, propelling my body forward faster than it should ever go without a vehicle or an explosion. The marine fires a three round burst and one actually connects, but does no noticeable damages, it just rips through me like I'm made of jelly and explodes a few feet back, which actually just helps me on my way.

Problem number two arises almost immediately after number one. One being that I can't stop, two being that I'm in a collision course with a full metric ton of ceramite and muscles. Common sense, why has thou forsaken me?

We collide, soft flesh with hardened armor, and the scouts roll away from either side, scurrying of like rats. So much for knowing no fear.

Against all odd and quite a few laws of physics, the marine falls on his back and slides down a rubble pile like a sled, with me holding on to his armor's collar hard enough to bend the thing outward. Where do you go from there? I didn't plan this far, so I guess that hesitation is what causes me to get a knife long as my arm stuck just between the two top ribs. I punch the marine's helmet in response, more as a defiance gesture than actual attempt to harm him.

The helmet dents slightly, but the marine manages to grab and throw me off. I flop heavily onto a bed of twisted steel rods and broken glass, look up at the marine and get peppered with bolt rounds. That just fuels the rage back to its previous level.

I'm mad, I just survived being shot repeatedly and stabbed in the chest and I can dent bulletproof plating like it's cheap plastic. This day is beginning to get interesting.

The boltgun runs dry and my wounds heal with the slurp of someone with no table manners eating spaghettis.

This is all fascinating, but I don't feel so great anymore, the last burst made me dizzy so maybe I should stop this, try to talk or something. I miss being dead, but the recent turn of events has made me curious as to what exactly is going on. I can always die later.

"Seems like you're not the biggest fish around here," I speak, as neutral and collected as possible, "how about we talk this out…"

One of the scouts emerges from cover, behind and to the left, from inside that bombed out tower, he's the one who sampled my DNA, his gun is aimed at me but he doesn't open fire.

The assault marine doesn't reload his bolter, he just stands on the sidewalk, at the bottom of a crater that turns out to be the actual street, onlys surrounded with debris from that broken spire. Ten paces away from him, on the edge of the hole, I'm looking around, looking for the other scout.

"What are you?" The chatty marine finally speaks, breaking the silence after a few awkward seconds.

The answer comes without me thinking it, "I'm just a man, a boring guy who should be dead and I don't know why I'm not." Brain tumor, bolt to the face, gladius to the chest, multiple bolts all over, I'm not supposed to be standing, I'm not stupid, I know something is up, but I also know I'm still me and not some tyranid xeno monster or whatever.

"Your blood sample," he speaks, looking down to his cogitator, "I have never seen anything quite like this." When a space marine, even a neophyte, admits not having a clue what is happening… Well, what's happening is worth paying attention.

Especially when it's happening to you.

Since they seem to be over the kill it with fire phase and into the how do we kill that thing? one, I guess it's safe to try and find out more about my condition.

"What exactly is going on with my blood?" That question actually takes him by surprise and he seems hesitant to answer, as if it would give me some advantage or something, but, hey, giving the enemy information about themselves does not exactly qualify as some form of treason.

He still glances over to the assault marine, who nods. They probably hope I'll reveal some kind of weakness they can exploit. Best I could reveal is that I'm allergic to tomatoes. I used to be very weak to bullets, knives, name calling and good old bludgeoning, but that apparently changed while I was dead.

"The sampler sterilizes after every use, irradiates any biologic material in contains, your blood cells survived the sterilisation."

That's it? They shot me in the face over a cellular oddity? "Are you fraking stupid? Maybe your machine's broken or my cells are just incredibly resistant," I snap, not quite yelling, but close to it, "Why would you kill a man because his blood cells won't die!"

The second, so far silent, scout finally speaks up from less than two steps behind me: "We are fighting tyranids, we do not have the luxury to wait and see."

I'm not stupid, I know that line is going to be followed by some heroic attempt to end my life, most likely with an explosive or something that does a loud noise. I probably won't be able to turn around fast enough to outmatch an Astarte with the element of surprise, so I do the stupidest, most unexpected –Unexpected if it works, stupidest if it doesn't- thing that comes to my mind.

Jump. Not backward, not forward, just up. Hey, don't judge me, a stupid idea is better than none at all.

My legs push so hard on the rubbles they lift a grayish dust cloud through which I see the scout marine's power sword describe a wide angle.

Then, I fall right on top of the marine and run my fist through his chest.


Chapter 4: Run For your Life

Janus, a warrior of the Hamekatis, leading tribe of Gamia, was never the most intelligent or powerful fighter of his clan, but he definitely had been the most brutal and fiercely loyal of them all. He hunted his first Saurian Bear before he was twelve and killed his first man at nine, since that time, he had killed more living beings than he could count, which, at the time, was not very far.

He had fought in a war with the Hekatilia, not long before leaving his tribe, and met a boy about his age, Ayawamath, fighting for the other side. Aya and he were practically strangling each other to death when the death bringers landed, with their metal chariots and skull faced warriors. The war stopped dead and many Hekatilia were recruited into their ranks, including Aya, but not Janus; 'Too psychologically unstable', they said. It enraged him even further, to the point he tried to strike down one of their warrior, only to be subdued like a mere child.

When the Ultramarines came, weeks later, he used his rage to impress them and actually managed to be selected.

From that point, Janus swore to never be beaten like he had been by the skull faced warriors, training harder than was expected of him, volunteering for every demonstrations so he could learn combat techniques first hand and this soon bore results, as he quickly rose to the top of his training company in close quarter combat exercises.

"This is the gladius short sword, Ultramarines' ceremonial weapon and your new best friend," His instructor's voice still rang in his head, "many consider it too short, but we find it long enough to find our enemies' hearts. Do as I say, listen well and you will learn how to make this into an extension of your own body. With luck, you may also learn how to remove part of of your foes' own body."

At eighteen, Janus became a scout marine with all gene-seeds and training this involved; a soldier capable of killing almost any foe one on one. His first deployment was on a small industrial world attacked by stray Tyranid forces.

There, he met Jan Rey, some human-Tyranid monster that could survive anything the space marines had thrown at it. While it talked, the marines had called in a Thunderhawk to provide additional firepower, but Janus saw an opportunity to end this and, as always, acted on his impulses. His death was messy, torn to shreds by tendrils shooting from the creature's body, broken down to the cellular level and assimilated to the monstrosity. Two became one.

I become Janus, but am still me; I feel no connection to what he held dear, no need to serve the god-emperor with my life and no hatred for myself.

I took what I needed from him, assimilated his experience and skills, his strength too, it seems, but left out everything I didn't need.

The assault marine, Brother Sergeant Varka, steps forward, unsure just what it is he saw. Brother Valeros is just as confused.

"Janus," Varka's voice booms, apparently addressing me, "What is your condition?"

He thinks I'm Janus. A glance down reveals that, yeah, I am. Blue armor, sword in hand, a good head taller than I used to be, condescending scowl…

"All clear, Sergeant." I lie, in Janus' voice, "What happened?"

He shakes his helmet and looks up. The Thunderhawk goes from being a dot in the sky to right on top of us in a few seconds. Varka talks to the pilot over the vox caster and I look around for my old body. Did I just switch? Did I absord Janus? Did he absorb me? Am I mixing strong stims and having one odd hallucination?

Everything seems real, I felt pain not a minute ago, but I'm certain mad men think the same when they lose it.

My body feels different, though, like in a dream, I feel pain, know it's pain and can feel everything around me, but it isn't overbearing. Being shot earlier caused a reaction, of course, it surprised me and my body issued a warning, but the following shots were just information I could ignore. Then, there's this constant crawling under my skin, like my whole body is reorganizing by the second to fit whatever purpose I have for it.

"Brother Janus!" Poor kid, it's like being called brother Rectumus.

I look back to the assault marine. He's about twelve meters away. I wandered a bit, it seems. More marines now surround him, a chaplain, an apothecary and… is that a Tactical Dreadnough?

"Yes?" Seems like the only appropriate thing to answer.

The chaplain does something with his big stick, which makes me wish I could think of a big stick joke, because that would be just the perfect timing, and I get blinded by a pulsing yellow ray.

Shielding my eyes reveals that my arms reverted back to white fabric and pale skin. I'm me, and that's not good. Funny thing is, my shirt's still dirty. I don’t know why that bothers me when I’m about to get pasted, but it does…

"Blast it!" I roar, spinning on the spot and scampering off just as the Ultramarines open fire.

There are three scout marines with flamers blocking my escape. I jump, they fire.

The flames lick my feet and splash across the rubble pile, but cause very little damage as I soar through the air. The marines adjust their aim, but are two centimeters behind and all draw their swords to face me. Frak them. I land behind the trio and break into a sprint on the main street. Two hundred meters ahead is the access ramp to the skyway. And four hundred meters back this way, said skyway enters a tunnel.

That would allow me to shake off the Thunderhawk, since it’s now following me around like a fly follows a… Yeah, you get the idea.

I need to dodge blasts from the thing's main gun while jumping over wrecks and craters, all the while weaving under and around automatic bolter fire, but it's all relatively easy, like moving at high speed underwater; I am light, I can 'swim' through the air in a way, and injuries seem like a minor bother now.

I use a burned out car as a step and jump straight toward the intersection, at stone’s throw range from the ramp, actually running along a wall for a few seconds. Seeing as gravity seems to be having a slow morning, I gradually orient my wall running up until I'm going vertically…

Doesn't last long, as the Thunderhawk's guns make short work of whatever support beams were left, trying to get to me, and I soon find myself still running up the sky scraper, yet directly above the street.

The Thunderhawk is gone, but I am about to be squashed by tons of rubbles, so I keep running up and soon perform a mid air backflip with an extra of rubbles and dust, landing on top of the opposite building, which is half the size of the falling one.

Said falling one is also about to crush its smaller brethren, so I run again, jumping off the edge of the roof and to the next. That's a twenty meters jump I barely make and a fifty meters fall. Janus swore to know no fear, but I didn't; I am two scares away from soiling my pants.

The building finishes tilting over and crushes three buildings wide, four buildings long under its massive bulk.

I jump almost ten roofs like that, going far past the ramp and constantly looking for a way down, when the 'hawk decides to swoop down for the finishing blow. I'm exposed on these rooftops, but nothing I know can survive this kind of a drop, so getting down is not an option… Plus, I’m now down to my last scare and these are the only pair of trousers I’ve got.

Something explodes to my right and I find myself spinning in mid-air again, trying to find out which way is up.

Seems we're going down… Or up, I still can’t tell if the sky is that spinning black and blue thing or that spinning black and red thing…


Chapter 5: Chicken

You ever thought for sure you were going to die? It feels good, makes you feel alive, the fear hurts, but it's a good pain, because while you're feeling it, you know you still live. I've been feeling it non-stop since I found out I had cancer, and I've never been more alive than I was lately… Well, except for that little bit where I was dead or something…

Even now, as my body twists in the air to put me feet down, I feel the rush of terror and cold sweats all over my skin, and I'm loving it. Hey, I'm dying no matter what, might as well draw some fun from it.

A hundred meters’ freefall seems short from the outside, two seconds, maybe, but when it's happening to you, it's quite some time to think.

I actually have time to get bored and look around.

The ground is climbing to meet me, eight Ultramarines to my right waiting for me to squash. I'm going to land right on top of a burned out civilian vehicle, maybe it will cushion my fall enough for the marines to finish the job. Seems the falling building crushed a couple of them

The Thunderhawk is hovering somewhere to the left, squeezed between two burned down buildings. If I had anti-air weaponry, I could really ruin their day; the buildings would prevent any evasive maneuver…

The impact is brutal, but painless, like jumping off the kitchen table when you are a kid. Debris and dust fill the air instantly, the car splitting in half, and, well, I'm still well alive in a knee-deep crater with boulders and chunks of road flying all around me.

Through the dust, I spot two scout marines aiming their guns at me. Everything happens quickly, faster than I can register it all; I jump forward, my feet connect with a boulder as it reaches the height of its ascension and kick the thing straight toward the two marines.

Janus' bolter is still strapped on my back, albeit loosely, since I'm not his size at all. I haven't touched the ground yet that I'm clutching the thing and peppering the cluster of marines. They fight back, but the boulder crushing their two friends and spreading their geneseed over twelve meters of dirty street seems to cause a few to hesitate. Most of them are scouts, newbies relying on their elders for guidance, but I'm too big a problem for the Chaplain, Terminator or assault marines to remember they must guide the new kids.

And they shall know no fear, right? I land with a kneel just as three scouts duck in the debris field behind them.

I have no idea what the Terminator is using, but it burns my chest to a crisp and knocks me back in the crater I just left.

My body seems to have adapted to falling the same way a cat's does and I land on my feet once more, gun snapping up immediately to down one of the assault marines with a burst to the head.

Dispatch the gun fodders first, get them out of the way, stay mobile to avoid more powerful attacks and then focus on the bigger threat. It's the opposite of what Janus was taught; kill the bigger threat, then deal with the smaller ones, but in this case, the smaller ones are walking murder-machines and the bigger ones are even worst, so I'll kill those I think are my size, assimilate them and then use what I learned to kill the big bastards.

I rush forward and tackle –more like hug- a marine almost twice my size, lift him off the floor and slam him in the rubbles hard enough for stress fractures to appear around his pauldrons and chest plate. The other marines stop firing; they don't want to hit their brother. Had they been equipped with smaller weapons, like lasguns or… Actually, not much in the Imperium's armory is tame enough for them to shoot a normal man and not risk collateral damages.

Before I can finish the job, however, something flexible and barbed wraps around my neck, digging in my skin and cutting off all air supply. Not that I seem to need it, my body keeps getting oxygen from somewhere.

I am dragged off toward the collapsed building like a fish on a line. I'm not scared, I don't have any fear left in me, for one, and I'm starting to think nothing on this planet is higher on the food chain than I am.

My head hits something hard with enough strength to crack a normal man's skull. It barely makes me look back. I hit the outer wall of the tower, the tentacle dragging me originates from deep within the ruins, but I'm not going to wait for the face to face like a good boy, this thing wants to have me for dinner? She'll have to earn it.

My whole body spins on the spot like I'm some professional dancer and my feet dig into the thick concrete wall. I mean 'dig' as in, ankle deep into the high quality building material… Well, what's left of it.

Next step once I stop moving is to wrap the tentacle around my right arm and pull as hard as I can, holding my boltgun in the off hand. The resulting scream reminds me of fighting cats and the barbs cut deeply into the skin of my forearms. It doesn't hurt though, bleeding seems to be just for show, a display put on by my body to make me look human.

I pull again, wrapping another length of barbed tentacle around my forearm. Another scream.

Another length, another scream, once, twice… It becomes easier at every pull, to the point I can just stand up and keep pulling on my own two feet. The thing on the other end doesn't seem used to being the prey, doesn't know how to react and simply keeps pulling back, without success.

Soon enough, it gets dragged into the light and its mimicking capacities are temporarily disabled; the thing is massive, with more claws than anything should ever need. The tendril I'm using as fishing line comes from its chest and is surrounded by the claws, so whatever gets pulled in close enough will get chopped to pieces. I'd better not wait for it to be in range, I doubt fighting this thing on its own term would be wise.

The bolt rounds ping against the thing's carapace, some exploding, some bouncing and a few kicking through. The creature's primal mind doesn't register that its only survival chance at this point is to close the gap and fight me. Mayber assimilating that thing won't go toward making me any smarter, but I'm sure I'll get some very nice traits from assimilating it.

The thing quickly grows weaker and has to hold itself up using its claws. This exposes its back and spine, making something inside of me scream in hunger.

Before I realize it, I'm on the thing's back, punching through the base of its neck as tendrils shoot out of my body to rip the Tyranid to shreds.

Tastes like chicken.

Last edited by Dave T Hobbit; 03-09-14 at 12:52 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-07-14, 05:43 PM
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I don't think it's wise to say Warhammer for WH40k (for me at least Warhammer alone refers to the original Warhammer so I expected reading about that).

Also what's up with the wall of text?

Beyond that it was actually an interesting read.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-07-14, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaviz81 View Post
I don't think it's wise to say Warhammer for WH40k (for me at least Warhammer alone refers to the original Warhammer so I expected reading about that).

Also what's up with the wall of text?

Beyond that it was actually an interesting read.
There was issues with transfering it from Fanfiction.net to here. And sorry, I forget to add 40k all the time :/
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-09-14, 12:53 PM
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Line spaced paragraphs to increase readability.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-09-14, 03:03 PM
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Very interesting, the whole Tyranid transformation thing. I assumed that the Dockworker was the creature that absorbed Janus?

Look forward to more .

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
-Glen Cook, The Black Company


Tales of Heroism and Bravery, in the 41st Millennium and the Old World. Perhaps some Realm Gate Wars in the future .

Gods' Hall (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=161618

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-10-14, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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A/N: Thanks, Dave, I took time to set up this one better.

Chapter 6: The Enemy of My… -Quit shooting me!


…Eat the strong man… Be Strong… Feed the hive… Survive… Hide… Eat… Kill… Hunt… Shadows hide… Shadows are ours… Let weak men have light… Kill from shadows… Wait… Wait… Waiiiit! Must not be found… Wait for strong men to be gone… Cannot wait… Must have stronger man… Must feed the hive… Kill stronger man… More coming to kill blue men… Eat… Hide… Wait…

No!

Stronger man too is stronger! Stronger man is too strong! Cannot eat, cannot kill! Must hide! Wait for others to come! Be here soon! Must…

You mustn't do squat, I'm in charge now…

Who? Obey.

No.

It keeps quiet after that, leaving only emptiness and silence, something my lunch was terrified of. It's like pulling a tooth out then feeling the empty space with your tongue, feels good but wrong at the same time.

This… Voice, was both my prey and something else, talking as one, following one will like two fingers of the same hand. I probably just ate a nail, not the whole finger, because it showed no sign of being worried or angry when I jacked the connection, just curious as to why I wouldn't obey.

But the last thing it said gives me something to think about. Others are coming. Flyers who spit fire like fairy tale dragons.

I turn to the Ultramarines. Half the monster I just ate is bleeding out on the floor behind me, missing its brain and spine. They have their weapons raised and ready to tear me apart…

I could retreat into the darkness where my lunch had been hiding, but its memories tell me there is no way out back there, so that's not an option. The Chaplain takes a step forward, staff in hand, and orders the others to hold their fire… For now.

"What is your name, boy?" He calls, apparently talking to me. I suppose you could mistake my hesitation for fear, that's likely what he did. Doesn't matter, maybe we can actually sort this out now that I'm talking to someone with half a brain.

"I'm Jan…" I'm also Janus, but that isn't relevant right now.

"You are not of Chaos, you fight the Tyranids… Where do you stand?"

That… Is quite a good question. Looking around, I find a satisfying answer, “On top of a monticule.”
The Ultramarines are not convinced, I just went through massacring their trainees, took a massive bite out of a 'nid and now here I am, snapping snarky lines at their resident warp expert. That doesn't fit comfortably in their nice and clean worldview.

Welcome to the club, just being alive right now doesn't fit into my worldview…

"There is an old saying," the Chaplain speaks, "seek out the enemy of your enemy and you will have found a friend." Yeah, right, by old he must mean it predates the Imperium, because I can tell you that’s not part of the Imperial Creed.

There's only four of them left; the Terminator, Assault Marine, Chaplain and a Tactical Marine with cracked pauldrons, way too few to take out the wave of Harpies and Gargoyles bearing down on us. Way too few to take me out.

Their Thunderhawk is the only flyer they have in the area, it won't do them much good in either scenario, but there's little chance I can take out the Tyranids on my own, not to mention these blueberries could tell me what's happening.

No, not with the invasion, I don't really care about that, I want to know why I can jump-kick man sized boulders and crush scout marines with them.

"Famous last words," I don't let him think about it and quickly follow up, "Enemy flyers are inbound from the south, Gargoyles and Harpies, you guys better seek cover…"

Tactical guy looks at the Terminator, then the Chaplain, then me. All three of us nod and his cracked shoulders rise slowly in a deep sigh.
"I think I saw this in a vid once." He growls, hopping down in an impact crater, the one I left when hitting the ground.

This is messed up in too many senses, one second I'm plowing through their ranks, picking them out like daisies, the next we're shoulder to shoulder –shoulder to waist, since the Terminator and I are kneeling behind the same burnt fire truck and that's just hilariously ironic if you ask me-.

I never saw a Gargoyle before, but Janus did and it's not pretty; bioplasma projector, swarms that darken the sky, fangs sharper than a chainsword teeth. He never saw a Harpy first hand, however, but studies indicate they serve as bombers of sort.

That thing, the one I just ate, was a Lictor, an ambusher, I try to switch to its form, like I turned into Janus, but though I can feel its essence in me –which I do realize comes across as utterly disturbing-, I cannot seem to bring it forth.

I could do it with Janus, but there really is no point in further spooking my new allies. Instead, I focus on parts of its essence, the claws carapace and barbed tendrils.

Everything's a trade-off, not just in me, in everything; mankind improved their brainpower at the cost of muscle strength, the Eldars more so, the Orkz did the exact opposite, developing an hyper-resilient biology at the cost of reduced brainpower. I can evolve on the personal scale, however, and that means a conscious investment, not to mention trial and error.

Sentience guides my body, but the laws of nature bind it. The Lictor's claws are too alien for me to integrate them to a human morphology, it wouldn't be viable, carapace is even worst. The tendrils, however… My chest is too narrow for the required musculature.

I feel like a kid with a new and complex toy. Right now I’m fumbling around clumsily, but soon you can bet I’ll be doing party tricks and looking back at this moment as being back when I didn’t know what I was doing.

DNA spins, uncurls, combines and is repurposed in a matter of seconds. My left arm extends by thirty centimeters and expends by half as much. Muscles are exposed, skin is merely a barrier against infections, one I don't need. The long barbed organ is curled around a thin bone inside the arm, about ten meters of length, though I can produce more if needed.

The Terminator is unfazed and merely readies his massive gauntlet gun. It's on the left arm, same as my new weapon… Funny.

Jan Rey, the cancerous dock worker, wouldn't have heard the hellish flight's approach, but I do. I track its movements from eight streets away. The others, set up ten steps back, in the crater, hear it too, so no need to warn them.

At the last second, I trade another of my arm's functions, the retracting muscles, set up on my upper arm, to strengthen the propellers and gain more flexibility. The Lictor used its tendrils like a Chameleon, to bring back its prey. I only need them out of the sky.

Seventy meters. They're at the intersection now, perpendicular to our position. You know, maybe running away would have been a better idea? Bolter rounds just kicked through me, but bio-plasma will certainly do far more damage and there is more than a dozen gargoyles out there…

The deafening scream reminds me there are Harpies as well, but it doesn't bother me as much as it does the others. They have super-acute earing, whereas I just edited out my eardrums.

Silence makes everything look so peaceful. It's in complete quietness that I shoot my first length of biological barbed wire. Ten meters of hooks and twitching muscles programmed to contract as soon as they hit something; they graze a Gargoyle and, faster than the eye can follow, it is wrapped like a roast-beef, tumbling out of the sky quietly like some dark snowflake in the first days of winter.

Plasma showers my position, splashing against the Terminator's chest as he rakes in a few impossible kills with his lumbering gun. Another length of tendril flies out and this time hits an Harpy's left wing, bunching the limb like leathery paper, but I don't see the thing fall.

The Thunderhawk opens fire with everything it's got and, all of a sudden, I feel rather redundant.

Hundreds of Gargoyles are blow apart like so many balloons in a hailstorm, whatever they throw at the massive vessel just bounces off harmlessly or trickles down like rain…

Every tendril I shoot weakens me, takes away some biomass; it's not much, but for a long-lasting battle, it's not viable. I grab a gargoyle with this new whip and slurp it back into punching range. It's resilient, but I'm strong and soon break its carapace open like a clam.

Once again, what was two become one and I hear that voice, questioning me on my nature and allegiance. The humans won't let me live, but the hive would welcome me to its fold, I would be… and it's gone.

What do we have now? Wings? Useless, I'm way too dense and it would take way too much muscle mass to keep me aloft. Bioplasma projector? It would cost even more than the tendrils to fire, but it's possible. Claws? Weak, I'm better off punching stuff…

Odd, however, that they wouldn't use these… Fleshborers? The guns they normally use.

Janus really was no scholar, but these Gargoyles are not average, they are costly units and hardly more efficient than regular Gargoyles, so why the waste of resources?

Could they have known I'd be here and developed a different tactic just to take me down? Fleshborers most likely wouldn't have worked on me, so they brought the big guns… That Lictor told them I had been knocked flat by the Terminator's plasma weaponry and it attacked as soon as my weakness was revealed.

Of course.

This hive mind wants me, it's obsessed by me. Good, I'm hungry.

This time, I latch to an Harpy in the middle of a bombing run and it is I who gets pulled up.

Not a second too soon; the Terminator gets melted down to the cellular level a second after I leave the ground. Almost got me there you overgrown… I don't know, call me crude, but I can't think of an analogy. Sure isn't a flying horse, because when I try to ride it, it goes berserk and rams itself into the Thunderhawk.

Oh, and it's worth noting that said vessel is currently crawling with Gargoyles looking for a weak spot. They shoot, they bite, they claw and they die when my ride smacks into them.

Switching back to my fists, I dive headfirst into the writhing mass. Janus was one hell of a psychopath, but bringing up his battle lust sure makes this stupid idea far more enticing. Something bites me, something dies horribly.

A gapping maw snaps at my face, saliva and blood sprinkling my skin as it fights to close the distance.
Yeah, a fist through the chest tends to reduce one's mobility.

I absorb the Gargoyle like a sponge on a recaf spill. Another takes its place and gets its lower jaw ripped off.

So, yeah, maybe I got carried away just now, fortunately, my friends the Tyranid look after me and splash my back with either acid or plasma. Another Gargoyle joins the party in me and the voice comes back.

You are the apex. We are the apex, only one will live, one will feed the other. Join us, feed us, you will be the greatest hunter of all.

I want to. Before, it could only transmit words, but for every Tyranid I consume, I lose some weight, it gains ground, makes more sense, makes me want what it offers.

I kill again, letting the corpses fall off the ship, and search myself for the source of its power. Tyranid essence; it fuses with mine, makes me like them, the more I have in me, the strongest the hive mind's influence will be in those short seconds after I consume a warrior. Once I've assimilated, digested if you will, the prey's essence, the voice becomes quiet, but comes back stronger the next time.

I'm tuning in, with every Tyranid I consume, the connection gets stronger… Let's be more selective of who we assimilate from now on, shall we? A dead Gargoyle makes for a decent projectile, plasma reserve going off when it smashes against an Harpy's face.

There's my answer for you.

Not much activity from the Ultramarines, guess they didn't make it.

Their dropship isn't going to last much longer either… Scratch that; Gargoyles just pried the side hatch open, it's good as dead now, time to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. Janus would have stood his ground and fought to the very end, but seeing as he ended up as an appetizer, Janus is really no reference.

Chapter 7: Body Snatcher


I know this city like the back of my hand, which doesn't mean much since my hand is now a mangled mess of muscles and bones and this city was bombed out of shape when I was not looking. It's like an abstract painting; you recognize the shapes, but dimensions and perspectives are all wrong.

Buildings are bent, leaning on each other or reaching across the road like structurally superfluous bridges. Cracks in the ground and rows of craters open new arteries and alleys amongst the streets, rivers flow through the residential district and the docks are on fire, a super tanker full of promethium slouched on a landing pad, its exposed flank spurting out fuel like a stock pig. That’s where most of the smoke comes from.

Gargoyles fill the sky, looking for me, but stay away from the fire, not even bothering to fly over it. Maybe they know something I don't, or maybe they see in infrared and this furnace is a dark spot to them.

I'm perched on a stone gargoyle, built into the governor's palace, itself built at the highest point of the city. The slums and old park are located somewhere behind and to the left, out of sight. The Astarte were killed in the administrative district, dead ahead, and although Janus would be infuriated to have abandoned his brothers, whoever I am now does not care.

That is quite the question; who am I? No, I mean, what am I? A shape shifter, that much is obvious, but it's much more than that.

I have been thinking a lot in the… What? Twenty, thirty minutes I spent running away. Not just about what to do next, but about everything I know, everything Janus knows and all that Diana taught me, about biology and evolution, mutations and adaptation, over the many discussions we’ve had.

Basically, I'm not a shape shifter; I'm a genetic scavenger, like the Kroots, only I can reorganize my body to the cellular level, which means… What does it mean? Do I have a spine? A heart, lungs, so forth? Perhaps that's what limits the shapes I can take on; biological viability.

You know what's funny? Neither Jan Rey nor Janus were half that knowledgeable, but then we came together, I started thinking and there we are! The more I think, the easier it is.

But back to my parasitic traits; Putting some effort to think up new forms, simple claws or a shield, won't work. I need genetic material, blueprints if you will, to show my body what I want. Perhaps if I consumed a biologist, or were one myself, I could have created new appendices, but right now, I am what I eat.
Makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint; why invent the wheel when you can steal it from your neighbour?

Except my current neighbours have some watchdog guarding their wheel and it'll steal my whole cart if I come too close…

But let's get to the fun stuff, right? While getting chased, it occurred to me that I was regenerating and producing biomass out of thin air.

Warp magic? Doubtful. My guess is that whatever it is I am now is neither plant not animal and both at the same time, it's a virus, a bacteria and a fungus, yet none of the above. It's whatever it has to be. It will derive nutrients from sunlight and ambient humidity if needed, draw insects to itself like a fly trap and eat them as well.

Basically, I heal up whenever I'm not getting shot up, this overclocks my muscles, or Janus' muscles, making them infinitely more efficient than they normally could be, like fueling your hovercar with rocket propellant. Damages done to the muscle tissues as a result are irrelevant and instantly fixed, and the improved Astarte bone structure Janus helpfully provided, combined with the lightweight carapace of the Lictor…

Well, I don't know. A magos or Apothecary would know more, but the deeper aspects of my own nature elude me…

In fact, I'm starting to think whatever this organism is, it merely uses my consciousness as a… Driver, out of convenience, by default. What if I hadn't been in there when it consumed Janus? Would his consciousness have been the dominant one? Perhaps I was this thing's first victim…

Doesn't matter, it wants to live and I’ve got nothing better to do at this time, so I'll play along. First things first, there are two apex predators on this planet, the Tyranid and yours truly, by mother nature's own rule, one of them has to die.

It won't be me.

The 'nids have numbers, but I have a face and it can be anyone's. Why do you think I'm sitting on the Governor's palace?

Snack time.

The place is well guarded, but I managed to slip through the defense grid when I lured a thousand

Tyranid flyers right to it, meaning the harder part is already taken care of.

Getting in the palace proper? Impossible to a regular dock worker. A walk in the park to me.
I shoot tendrils out the heel of my boots and run along the building's wall like a gecko on recaf. Another stone gargoyle forces me to resume horizontal navigation, hopping on the thing's ugly head and leaping across the fifteen meters to the next one and so on until I am in position over an overweight PDF sergeant trying to coax a recruit barely out of puberty into taking his pants off.

They're in an alcove four meters ahead, thirty meters down. A quick look around to ensure nobody's looking and I dive in with a short backflip seconds before landing.

Hey, I'm fast enough to dodge bullets, or see them coming, at any rate, why not have some fun here and there?

"Who… What…" Are the Sergeant's last words. He's not even fully facing away from the boy when my fist punctures his bloated face.

Yuck… Oh by the fields of Terra! This man had… Yuck! Emperor preserves me from fat Sarges with a taste for pre-teenagers!

Okay, you fat son of a goat, what's your name? First Sergeant Bellan Ashker. A wife, two daughters… Oh you sorry excuse for a human being! A man that does that to his own daughter deserves to be ripped apart by some nightmarish creature fallen from the roof.

The gate code, the Sergeant's deployment orders, the names of his squad members… Okay, let's get out of that man's mind and never touch it again.

I need a shower. With a flamethrower.

The kid passed out, saving me a lot of trouble, so I just leave him there and make my way to the front door. The courtyard is filled with tents and ammo dumps. Half the PDF got crammed around the palace, but our good governor won't let the men use the palace as housing and cover.

Doesn't surprise me, corrupt noblemen are as common as… Well, corrupt PDF officers.

This guy doesn't understand his people are getting slaughtered in the streets, he only cares about his own safety because he's never known anything else. That and how high he can raise the taxes before people get uncooperative.

They let me through the door without a hitch. Soft music and softer lights greet me. The Sergeant was a big fan of that kind of music and I almost enjoy it as a result. Almost. It's like someone fell asleep on a piano and twitches every once in a while.

Me, I'm a slum kid, I like my music to cause sensory overload and ear bleeding, I need to feel the sound with my bones and hear ringing for months afterwards.

Ah, but there’s no time to fill out a complaint, is there? The main stair is covered in what looks like red pubic hairs. Ashker knows it's an expensive carpet, but I mentally choke the Sarge's personality until it recedes.

By the time I stop seeing pictures of things that would make a Dark Eldar sick, I'm right outside the Governor's chambers.

The Sarge's fists are like a baby's and they make a dull sound when knocking against the expensive woodwork.

I've never been overweight, it's strange… Blast, I have breasts!

"What do you want?" Roars the Governor from within his chambers.

Your face. "Sir, I have an update on your evacuation request." I don't know if he actually requested an evacuation, but, come on, who am I kidding? This must have been the first order he gave when the ‘nids showed up.

"Come on in!" I'm barely through the door that he's over me like a drunk sailor on a cheap whore. "What did they say?" Bloody fields of Terra, couldn't I, just once, get to consume someone that does not weight as much as a Dreadnought and look like they were smacked in the face with a shovel minutes after birth.

"Talk to me, Sergeant!"

Room's empty. Good. "I've arranged something." I switch back to my original self, the muscular, thin and comparatively good looking dock worker, "You'll be coming with me." I didn't mean for him to soil himself, I just wanted to be myself for just a moment before being some other overweight piece of fat.

The feces soiling his robes don't seem to bother the tendrils much as they tear him to pieces and pull every last bit of biomass into me. And that is just… Ugh, I miss being dead.

The Governor, despite being lazy and a coward, was actually quite smart. Couldn't be bothered to learn the configuration of his own capital city, but history, art, philosophy… Wow, the man had some actual standards! He pulled the PDF out of the way to avoid unnecessary losses while Space Marines cleared the city, knowing he was not a skilled enough leader, nor his men good enough fighters to make a difference.

That was then.

A sevo-skull hovers to me, awaiting instructions from the Governor.

"Contact…" No Generals, no Colonels, the Planetary Defence force is led by a Major. A corrupt Major. "Contact Major Vaner and Captain Olenk." I order, "Tell them to meet me in my chamber."

And I get to work on the overall strategy as the skull beeps in acknowledgement.

There's plenty of entertainment material in this room, all of which I stow under the bed. Drapes, curtains and expensive painting are all stashed in a corner of the room and I rip an ornate map of the capital off the wall by the bed.

Now, the thing is not exactly to scale, gothic letters take way too much space, hiding details from view and much of the alleys and newest sectors are not being shown, but it is a faithful representation of the city, which gives O’ran even less of an excuse for not knowing a thing about this place.

On the opposite wall, hung in between two expensive looking stained glass windows, is a depiction of the whole planet, with the location of every city across the four main continents.

How many people live on Baria? Thousands? Millions? More? So much biomass… That's what the Tyranid are after.

Blast, that's what I would be after. Baria is an industrialised world, the type the Adeptus Mechanicus hate most, because we apparently don’t show proper respect to our machines. It also means we can live in every climate, live longer and have lots of children…

Two officers enter the chamber, but only the Captain, a small woman not good looking enough to have earned her rank by sleeping with superiors, salutes me. One other thing about Baria; our PDF is whoring itself out to merchants and cartels all over this system.

I'm on the tall, muscle bound Major's case within a heartbeat. "What's wrong, Vaner? You don't take orders from me anymore? Or did saluting superiors grow out of fashion while I wasn't looking?"

He blinks repeatedly, his mouth opening and closing like a fish's in a bowl. Vaner has friends…had friends, ones that allowed him to blackmail his way to the rank of Major.

"I don't want to hear it, Private, you're out of the game, check with Sergeant Ashker for your new assignment!"

Vaner finally speaks. "You can't…"

"One more word and I have you executed for incompetence, treason, abuse of authority and being generally too dumb to live!" I love this. I should have stolen the Governor's face years ago!

"I know things, Sir…" The Major's tone grows dangerous. "If I fall, you're…"

Olenk needs nothing but a nod on my part to smear the bed with Vaner's brain.

"No, you knew things." Damn shame I had to kill him, he'd have been a far more pleasant… Host? Face?

Olenk jumps a little when I turn to her. "Captain, you're the new acting commander of the Planetary Defence Force…" I wave her over to the maps, now spread on a desk that must have cost more than I make in a year. "I need to know where all our forces are on the planet, but in the meantime, I need you to take our reserves and secure the business district."

She frowns, her massive hat tilting forward without the support of her eyebrows. "What Reserve forces, Governor?"

"The ones I stationed at the palace. Don't worry, captain, I have my personal guard, now spread these men into three groups and enter the district from the North, South and the skyway, to the West."

Olenk nods slowly, "A pincer formation." She mutters. Smart girl, could have been an Imperial Guard officer, hadn't some old pig, who's body I'm burrowing right now, held her back. "How do we get troops to the North?"

My plump finger traces a path along the edge of the docks. "There's a ruptured drainage pipe here, goes all the way from… Well, it goes far." I shouldn't reveal too much, they'll wonder how I could know from sitting in my bloody room.

"Understood, sir…" She goes to leave, but freezes, "Uh… Sir, might I ask you a question?"

Take a guess what that question could be. Why did you suddenly go insane and grow a pair? Have you been hijacked by some xeno scum?

"Not now, Major, I’ll answer everything in time, for the moment, let’s save this planet!" She salutes me once more and leaves without sparing a single glance to Vaner's corpse.

The servo-skull hovers back to my side, as though reading my mind, and I turn to it. "Have someone throw him in the furnace before he starts to stink…" It beeps in agreement and I fetch the Major's bolt pistol.

Better to shoot things while I'm supposed to be some overweight slug, punching through a Genestealer's chest to pull its heart out would be out of character a bit…
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