I added nearly 3,000 words and changed almost every paragraph. I hope you enjoy.
By: Adrian Redburn
Captain Barthelme Sofraties set upon the control thrown looking down upon the bridge and the crews that ran it. He was especially proud of his accomplishments this time.
He smiled to himself as he thought about the new trade agreement with a colony whose primary export was wine, whisky, rums and beer. Brewing for the Emperor’s citizens was an extremely lucrative business.
The lights on the bridge flickered for a moment but not long enough to worry him. Even though they were traveling through the warp, he was not nervous. The Star Train had done it thousands of times without incident. He had paid a high price for the most advanced Geller field that money could buy.
In his business one could not be too careful. Protection from things within and without was of the highest priority… although nothing of note had happened to him or his crew or the ship since its founding over a hundred years ago.
Captain Barthelme Sofraties never scrimped on anything when it came to protecting his investments. He had skilled soldiers and trained professionals, caretakers and staff that took care of off-world passengers and the shipments he carried upon the Star Train.
There was not a single record on file of any “incidents” or disputes. There were no records since the Star Train’s founding, of a missed shipment or late delivery or pickup. That is why he was able to land this new trade agreement and demand that astronomical price.
Yes. Business was good. It had been real good for the last ninety years when the Inquisition had recommended them because of their impeccable service and character. The crews were in high spirits too. They had served him well and knew they would be rewarded magnificently when they brought back their wares to blessed Terra.
The lights flickered again for another short moment. This time the lights dimmed until the bridge was bathed in black. It only lasted a few seconds, but in the warp a few seconds could be as a hundred years, plenty of time for the Warp Spawn to gain a foothold that could cast the ship into oblivion.
The Captain looked to the warning lights and listened for the warning alarms to sound. His stomach tightened in barely concealed panic for a moment as he watched the instrumentation that showed the integrity of the ships Geller field.
After a few moments of consternation, the Captain leaned back into his command throne, relaxed and smiled. ‘Over a hundred years without incident. T’is a beautiful thing.’ he said to himself.
The spider moved as a shadow along the ceiling, slowly, deliberately placing each toxic step exactly where it wanted to. It watched the room from the unique perspective that only a spider could afford; each of its eight eyes gathering in all the details of its surroundings with only a moment’s glance.
Stalking its prey had to be slowly done, cunningly wrought, deceptively decisive. Sure its eight legs could move at eye blurring speed, easily overtaking all but the quickest of its desired hunt but there was much more to stalking than that.
The anticipation, exhilaration along with the rush of sensing the panicked beat of his victim’s heart as the venom did its work was intoxicating.
The spider had to pay attention to the currents of the air, feel the vibrations that flowed through the structure that it moved, allow itself to watch for hours without moving; patiently waiting for the slightest break in its preys camouflage, the slightest lack of cautiousness, the most imperceptible of missteps.
The guide web that it lays behind it as it moves is quickly anchored and stretched and pulled and meted out in ever increasing segments; taut, tensely poised to detect even the slightest vibration or act as the swing wire the spider would cling to in case it fell or had to escape from the dangers of the world around it.
The guide wire was key. It had to be placed perfectly and anchored down at the exact position and spacing or it would not hold in the event of an emergency.
The Warp Spider had entered purely by accident from a crack in the ship’s Geller field. It had opened for the briefest of times, but in that moment the rift had sucked it into this new world. The crack in the ship’s Geller field had not even lasted long enough to register upon the ship’s auspexes or the sensitive security monitors.
Upside down, the spider watched from the corner where two walls and the ceiling intersected. It watched those below as they did their jobs, unaware of the danger that lurked within the shadowed depression just above their heads.
The Warp Spider waited unmoving for six hours as it took in the ebb and flow of those gathered on the bridge. The Captain moved about frequently from station to station confirming orders, signing logs and holding brief, but important conversations.
The servitors, half men half machine, were plugged into the instruments that required advanced skills to run properly. They never spoke nor slept; stationary beings, they performed their tasks unrelentingly.
The Captain, having made his way back to the command throne leaned forward, said something in a language the spider did not understand and leaned back again. A crew-woman stood up from the other side of the bridge and made her way over to a beeping console. Once there she retrieved a data-card, stood for a moment to read off the information, turned and began to walk away.
The spider recognized its moment of opportunity and dived from the shadows onto her back. She neither detected nor suspected that never ending death was upon her. Quickly, lest it be found out it scurried up her blue jacket and manipulated its way under her lapel where it waited for its moment to strike.
The lights flickered on in the crew-woman’s cabin and revealed everything about the woman that made her unique. Her bed was small, made for a single person, a stuffed animal upon her feathered pillow stared out to the open space with brown, glass eyes that blinked when detecting motion or upon hearing voices.
The stuffed animal was not standard issue and went against the Imperial Navy’s codex, but she did not care. She was no longer in the Imperial Navy. She was in import/export now. It had been a gift from her mother when she had been young and it was a comfort to her. The Captain had seen it once when he had made his inspection rounds and had smiled.
She was glad her Captain was a good man. Although greedy and very into himself, he was also very understanding and caring when it came to the needs of his crew. She smiled as she thought of him. She smiled as she saw the stuffed animal blink as she passed by. Space was a lonely place and sometimes the little things made all the difference.
Upon her writing desk set a picture of the family she had left behind along with a pinned letter from herself to a loved one warp-years away. The mirror upon her wooded wall reflected the bed, the desk and the stuffed animal. It also reflected the woman that stood before it.
Her eyes were brown and full of life, her skin soft and alabaster white. Her lips were full and pouty, complemented by her small round nose. She was not a tall woman, but she was full figured. She smiled as she remembered some of the crew-men smile at her. Yes she knew she was beautiful, but she was not the type to let it go to her head.
As she stood there looking into the mirror something caught her eye. Looking intently, she watched as it wriggled its way out from under her lapel. It was a spider! Here on the ship? Before she could move it lunged upon her neck and bit her.
Immediately black veins of venom snaked their way voraciously up her neck, throughout her face, into her eyes, behind them and finally into her brain paralyzing her in the time it took to exhale.
Within the time it took for her to inhale her eyes became sunken and glassy; her skin lost its color and became sheet white. Her red hair within moments became ash-grey at the roots and fell out. Paralyzed, she stood there before the mirror. She was not afraid at the sight of her reflection, for she was past caring; the venom from the spider-bite numbing her and paralyzing her senses quickly…her muscles locking in place, keeping her from collapsing, swaying or falling.
The crew-woman would not be missed for at least six hours, more than enough time for the spider to accomplish what it needed in order for it to survive and to grow. As the time wore on the stuffed animal stopped moving its eyes and the lights in the room shut off. There were no movements to keep the motion detectors active.
At first the venom had rendered her senses and emotions blank, but as time wore on she began to be able to feel again. She began to smell, hear, taste and remember again. Along with her remembrance came terror unlike anything she had ever known.
In the darkness the crew-woman could feel the spider as it spun its silken web quickly around her face, around her head and around her body. As much as she wanted to, she could not peal it off of her! She felt the spider’s feet tickle her flesh, felt the hungry movements of its passing and goings as it cocooned her in its nightmarish blanket.
In her mind she could hear her own screams echoing outward and permeating the very air, but to her ears the sound never registered. Amidst the screams in her mind there was another voice, quiet and somehow even more terrifying then the nightmare she was in. It added to her torment with a whisper of damnation and a song of binding. ‘I am you and you are me.’ it sang. ‘You are bound and I am free.’ it crooned. ‘More will be added and joined for all eternity.’
The lights flickered on and shouts of fear and dismay awakened the crew-woman from her dream state, but to her horror she still could not move. The mirror before her still reflected the desk, her pictures that rested upon it, the bed and the stuffed animal that set upon it, its eyes open and moving; fallowing the person that shouted for help at the doorway.
Within the mirror she also saw her own web-cocooned form standing before it. The webs were grey, thick and full and were spun in swirling patterns that more resembled smoke from a corpse fire. They extended up to the ceiling and down to the floor in funneled waves. They ran throughout the width and bread of the room in maze-like patterns that brought dread to all those who saw it.
With terror fully gripping her she realized she was not dreaming; she was not sleeping nor was she able to break free from her soul prison. Her eyes moved slowly but it was not her who had moved them. They looked to the door with an assassin’s skill. The man at the door could not see through the webs that covered her face, but she could see him with perfect clarity. She tried to think of a way to warn the man but instead her mind screamed as she felt the creature scratch its body against the inside of her skull as it moved.
More voices sounded from the doorway as the Captain, accompanied by a detachment of guards, joined the man who had discovered her.
‘What has happened to her?’ she heard the Captain ask. Horror and disgust dripped heavily from his voice as he asked the question. Her heart dared to hope upon seeing her beloved Captain, but that hope dissipated as the Sergeant of the guard said, ‘I don’t know what it is Captain but the mark of Chaos is upon her, the taint of Chaos corrupts her very soul!’
Captain Barthelme Sofraties stood there in the doorway to the room staring at a woman who he had known for the last five years. His heart was stricken with sadness and regret as he remembered his love for her and her love for him. She had been a true servant of the Imperiam and a trustworthy friend. She had no dealings with Chaos and it both angered him and terrified him that the spawn of Chaos could corrupt someone as pure as her.
‘Take the body to the incinerator and burn it.’ he said with a heavy heart. ‘We cannot abide her tainted flesh upon this ship, it will corrupt us all.’
She screamed within herself even as the soldiers tore through the ashen silky webs that were spread around her body. They were dressed in full hazmat suits that bore the purification symbols of the Templium of Saints. Even as they wrapped a tarp around her silk-webbed body and started to lift her from before the mirror, they chanted the “Protection of Souls” from their mouths.
With all her might she struggled but could not move at all. To all who saw her she was as one dead, tainted and cast from the sight of the Emperor of mankind. The spider moved again; its carapace scraping the inside of her skull, safe for the moment, content to lay wait within its host until the proper time to strike.
Captain Barthelme Sofraties watched the guards take the crew-woman away. She would be missed, not just for her skills on the bridge, but also for the friendship they had shared together.
The woman’s webbed form standing ridged before her mirror had frightened him more than he had let show to the others that had been gathered with him. Never before had he seen the likes of this and he prayed to the Emperor that he would never have to see such a thing again.
The decision to burn her body had been a torment to him, but he could not allow such a thing to remain upon his ship. He not only hated the fact that he had lost a valued member of his crew, but that he would have to face her family with the sad news upon their return to blessed Terra.
Of course he had another responsibility to perform before he left the tainted cabin. Before the Sergeant had left with the woman he had given the Captain of the ship a flare to purge the room after their departure. From its case he produced the flare, popped the cap and ignited the compounds within. With a prayer upon his lips and an effort of will he cast it inside.
Service vents pulled the smoke from the burning room out and away, but they could not remove the feelings of loss and fear the Captain felt as he watched its contents erupt in flames. The stuffed animal watched him accusingly as its body burst into flame, its eyes blinking as it followed his silhouetted form.
From the mouth of the crew-woman the spider crept slowly, methodically and intently. Wary of its surroundings it pulled itself free of the woman’s cold blue lips and slowly moved down her cheek behind webs that hid its actions. Its movements were slow and resolute as it emerged from the webs behind the woman’s ear.
From there it watched the five men as they escorted the woman’s body down the dimly lit corridor. Red lights rotated and flashed in the lower levels bathing the halls in their amber glow. Politely, other members of the crew moved out of the way of the plas-steel gurney and bowed their heads as the guardsmen passed. The soldiers acknowledged them with a nod but said nothing as they made their way forward. This was a moment of contemplation and grief.
Finally having made their way into the bowels of the ship the soldiers had gone from the scrutiny of the crew and into the shadowed confines of the incinerator room. Now was the time to act and the warp spider knew it. Having waited as long as it could it scurried up the arm of one of the men and plunged its long hard fangs through the rubber glove of his hazmat suit.
Faster than the man could think, his body froze. Muscles stiffened, he found he could not speak, could not cry out or even breathe. Slowly he faded into blackness as if entering a dream. His mind and body were no longer his. Tears ran down his cheeks upon hearing the cries of his brothers but he could not warn them.
When his eyes finally opened he could see not from his eyes alone but from the woman’s as well. From her eyes, his own eyes and the spiders eyes he could see the others as they tried to rescue him from the horror that had befallen him.
The spider blended with the shadows as it made its way up the victim’s arm and lunged onto the face-lens of the soldier shaking his friend. The man yelled and tried to bat the spider off of him but the spider was too quick. With its front legs it slit through the plastic face-shield and bit him on the end of his nose.
Moving at blinding speed it reemerged from the hole it had made in the hazmat suit and scurried after the three men who were seeking to make their escape.
One of the three stopped to attempt to close the thick iron bulkhead but he was not quick enough. He would have screamed but the spider had already plunged its fangs into his knee as it was bent tight against the inside of his suit.
In the shadows of the Star Train the last two men ran screaming in blind panic past open doors that led to full storage rooms and through tight halls that led to the upper levels and safety from whatever it was that had taken out the others.
One man slowed enough to send a warning via the wall-com network that had been wired into the ship at its founding, but it was a garbled message laced with panicked breaths, shouts and the adrenalized fear that came with knowing he was going to die.
The spider ran along the ceiling concealed by the darkness. Even though it ran upside down it was still more that capable of catching its prey. Quickly it ran past the man that had paused at the wall-com and fell onto the helmet of the second. The guard continued to run unaware that the spider was upon him. He had made it to the elevator and the doors were opening but his body fell short as the venom took its toll.
The last guard fell flat upon his face breaking his nose upon the iron decking, but he did not feel it. His mind’s voice joined with the others as they screamed within their nightmare’s hold. From somewhere deep in the depths of his mind he could hear a small quiet voice as it sang the song of the damned.
The warp spider fed upon the flesh of its victims along with their terror and grew while merging their souls together into a knot of sorts. As it grew it became stronger and began to pull the bodies of its victims together. Once the corpses were close to each other it began to tie them together with webs as strong as iron. Each of their faces was turned outward and their eyes wide open.
They watched intently from a unified consciousness, six pairs of eyes acting as one. In the time that the spider had been allowed to live in this reality it had created a nest of webs swirling this way and that in funneled columns that rose and fell and dipped in contorted mazes of perplexity. It had survived in an alien world unchallenged and free. Too much time had been allowed to pass since it first escaped the confines of the warp.
The warp spider waited within the incinerator room under the bodies that had become its home. The room was warm and slightly damp. It was dark and compact with only one way in or out. It was a perfect breeding ground for its spawn, the future of its species in a universe where it did not belong. If not for a crack in the ship’s Gellar Field, it would have passed by, never having known the hunting ground that it now so enjoyed.
As the spider grew it became aware of the ebb and flow of the ships engines, its crew and even the thrumming of their soul’s energy. It hungered for their energy, for their raw emotion and life blood. Even now it could sense the soldiers drawing near, disciplined and alert.
Captain Barthelme Sofraties had no choice but to stay upon the bridge as the Star Train exited from warp space. For a brief moment there had been heavy static on the coms, but the sound they had heard from it was so garbled and distorted, the Captain had thought it was just feedback from an overloaded system or a distortion from the warp’s interference.
It had been nearly thirteen hours since anyone had heard from the guards that had escorted the woman to the incinerator room. When the guards were reported missing, the Captain’s heart grew cold and knots formed in his gut. ‘Emperor preserves us.’ he prayed quietly. The Captain did not want to worry the rest of the crew with faithless proclamations, but now he knew for sure that his worse fears had been confirmed.
Somehow, something had found its way upon his ship. He knew it had to be something small otherwise someone would have noticed it earlier; he also knew that though it was small it was exceedingly deadly.
The Star Train was put on high alert, the soldiers and guardsmen that were in his employ were sent down into the bowels of the ship in hopes of finding this thing and destroying it. The rest of the crew and guests were confined to their cabins unless they were absolutely needed at their work stations.
The Captain sighed and rubbed his temples with cold shaky hands. If they survived this there would be questions upon questions. The Inquisition would be involved; Psykers would walk the ship searching for taint. The Star Train’s flawless record would be decimated, contracts would be lost and relationships that were based upon his clean record would dissipate like the fog on a hot day.
Captain Sofraties employed fifty soldiers in order to fight off the Eldar or pirates they sometimes came across, but If there was indeed a creature from the warp upon his vessel he knew the threat was much more serious than what they had experienced in the past.
A thought struck him with the force of a fighter’s impact within his mind. This was not only about those upon his ship, but also about the security of those below. He could not take the chance of allowing it to escape upon Terra’s soil. If worse came to worse, he would have to gather what crew and few guests he had aboard and exit the ship in the escape pods. He hoped it would not come to that.
Destroying the Star Train would be bad for business…very bad indeed. Word would spread, assumptions would be made and money would be lost. If one of his vessels were unsafe than all his vessels were unsafe. His whole fleet would fall into obscurity! If that happened he doubted he would ever be able to recover.
His mind raced with the possibilities. He would be destitute; his family fortunes would fail and everything he had worked for these hundred and thirty-six years would be lost. All the things he loved would be stripped from him and he would have nothing. He would die leaving a legacy of curses upon his children.
He could not allow this to happen. Yes he was being selfish and greedy. He knew he was, but it was not just about Holy Terra, but about his family’s future as well. The thought of losing everything caused his mind to swirl and he became dizzy and oh so very tired. Contacting the Sergeant once more he said, ‘Find that thing and kill it! I do not care if we have to lose everything on board. Whatever is plaguing our ship must be put down.’
Sergeant Michal Brine was the first to escape the elevator and enter into the bowels of the ship. Sixteen others fallowed cautiously, weapons raised and eyes alert. Brine motioned for the men to spread out as much as they could in the cramped space of the shadowed corridor.
Each room was met with an open door that led into massive storage areas that bore the wares of trade and export. The rooms were deep and held in the shadows of dull alum-lamps of red and gold. Full alert had been issued throughout the ship and tensions were high.
The soldiers moved in regimented discipline, covering each other with movements formed on the battlefield and under combat stress. These men were professionals, the best that money could buy. They had fought together for seven years against the forces of the Dark Eldar and had survived their relentless attacks. If they could survive the horrors of that filthy alien race this would be a cakewalk.
Moving further down the halls the rotating glare of the emergency lights strafed them in blood red and bathed the halls in their horror glow. Deep rotating spiraled webs ran along the ceilings and floors. They started out small and foreboding, but grew in size and depth until they enveloped the entire width of the hall. The soldiers had no choice but to move through them for they were too thick to cut or burn, they were too complex to unravel or ignore.
The smell of rotting corpses was the first thing that hit them as they passed the doorway of the seventeenth stall. The incinerator was the last room on the left, stall nineteen. The smell was coming from there. The door was wide open and the red glow of the incinerator’s fire could be seen flickering through its tempered heat resistant glass door.
The webs were thicker there and filled with small moving objects that seemed to absorb the light from the soldier’s flashlights. ‘What in the Emperor’s name could have made these webs?’ one of the men asked. Fear clouded his tone and the Sergeants cuffed the man on the side of his helmet. ‘Shape up, soldier. We are the right hand of the Emperor upon this ship and we will harness our fear and kill the fracking spawn of Chaos!’
The soldier nodded, but did not seem convinced. Whatever had made these webs was huge and had killed six of the crew without there having been a struggle. He had known those who had died down here. They were not week men who would give up their lives helplessly.
The Sergeant motioned two men forward with the wave of his hand. Igniting their flamer’s nozzles the promethium began to drip flaming spittle in anticipation of being unleashed upon the flesh of the enemy.
The crew woman and the five soldiers that had been bound to her watched the entrance of the incinerator room. They could feel the spider’s will as it took the memories from each of them and learned all it could about humanity from their combined experiences.
They were no longer afraid or lonely or needy. They had become one with each other and part of something much bigger than themselves. It was as if they were dreaming; unable to wake held within a memory they could not escape. But as time passed they no longer wanted to escape. There was life her, life as they never could have known. Their minds and souls had been stitched together and their fears had faded away.
They could still here the song that ebbed into their minds from the warp spider’s consciousness, but it was no longer terrifying or disturbing, it had become soothing and intoxicating. They knew their bodies were rotting and being fed upon, but that did not concern them anymore. They were alive like never before.
As they watched the glow from the lit flamers illuminated the darkness and held their attention. They could feel the warp spider tense its muscles and poise to attack. It was patient though. It had to be.
The two soldiers rounded the corner and stepped into the entrance of the incinerator room unleashing hell upon everything in there. The webs began to melt and jell together, becoming sticky and glue-like. The men stepped further into the room unknowing they were entering a world they could not hope to control.
At first they believed they had killed the warp spawn, but above them the creature loomed in shadow and clouded smoke filled webs. It watched them as they moved back and forth bellowing liquid flame destroying its nest. It waited until the men were fully committed before lashing out with its scorpion-like tail.
The poisoned barb slammed into the man on the right and pumped venom into his chest. Before he could fall the warp-spider snapped down with claws that severed the other man’s head from his shoulders.
The small spider that had entered the ship was no longer just a spiderling, but mature and fierce. It no longer hid in the shadows waiting for that perfect opportunity, but anticipated the moment when it could strike. Its nest destroyed it flew from the room and ran along the ceiling under the cover of its human shell.
‘Fire. Fire!’ Sergeant Michal Brine yelled as it emerged from the burning room. The men tried to spread out in the closed confines of the hall, but their feet had become entangled in the funneled webs. The spider lashed out with its tail and pinchers piercing screaming men through their chests and severing bodies with single snips from its razor claws.
Before they had time to fall it had moved past them. Gunfire slammed into the spider’s shell of human bodies; congealed blood and rotting flesh fell away in spattered chunks but the spider was untouched. It moved like lightning down the hall trying to escape from the soldiers below.
The Sergeant fired his shotgun on full auto and smiled in bitter emotion as the spider moved past him. They had it on the run! It was afraid of them and he would continue to give it reason to be afraid.
When the spider had reached the elevator doors it dropped down to the iron floor and turned back to the soldiers. The corpses smiled and their eyes became steady witnesses of each and every movement before them. Slowly at first the warp spider moved toward the sergeant and then it began to run.
With bowel cleansing terror it hit him. The spider had blocked their only way of escape. The warp spider charged through the men with blinding speed and bone crushing force lashing out with its tail and pinchers. Nine men had survived thus far but they were falling quickly.
Their screams echoed down the hall as they were mauled by the arachnid’s swift attack. One by one the screams fell away until there was only one voice begging for help from his vox-unit. The Sergeant was on his knees tangled in webs and fighting frantically to reload his shotgun, but he knew it was too late. Above him the warp spider watched through milky white eyes.
It seemed like it was taking in every movement and word coming from the Sergeant. It was taking the time to learn before it finished him. The Sergeant was no longer a threat. He tried to back away but there was nowhere to go. Behind him the burning incinerator room flickered and before him were the corpses of his unit.
Finally he finished loading his shotgun and raised it at the thing above him. Before he could fire it fell upon him and plunged its fangs through his body. Each fang slid past his head, one on each side, and plunged into the gaps between the collarbones.
He tried to scream, but found that he could not. He wanted to die, but knew that he would not. In the depths of his mind he could hear the others sing to him the song of the damned. As he opened his eyes he saw the world from not only his, but theirs as well.
Hours seemed to pass and the spider continued to feed upon the flesh and souls that it had bound to itself. Now it was too large to move down the hall. It knew that the time for it to die was at hand. It had lived out the length of its life in a matter hours, nearly one day as the humans called it, but the time had been fruitful.
Now it was the time for the propagation of the species to begin. The egg sacks it had laid in the bodies of those around it began to pulsate as its children began to grow. They poured forth from the fleshy membranes and began to experience the memories from their mother.
From her cold dead lips they came; thousands of them, thousands of the spider-lings poured forth, guide-webs fallowing behind. Upon the flesh of their mother they fed. She did not try to fight them or control them. This was the way of the warp and of their species development.
As time passed the spiderlings began to climb up the walls and into the ventilation systems.
The remaining soldiers who still lived and had not gone down into the lower levels had been assigned to directing the crew and guests to the escape pods for immediate evacuation.
Captain of the ship, Barthelme Sofraties, watched through the monitor as he guided the Star Train close to the docking port. Blessed Terra lay below, its desert lands reflecting the sun’s golden light.
How could it have come to this? Once the escape pods were away planetary security would be on the Star Train so fast it would make his head spin. The ship would not be permitted to port and there would be delays for months. The thought of the Inquisition getting involved terrified him more than the threat of whatever was on his ship.
With that thought in mind the Captain locked down the pods and gave strict orders to the soldiers to restrict the crew and guests back to their rooms. He canceled high alert and contacted customs for instruction. He knew he would be in for it if he was found out bet he hoped he could still take care of this internally before those docking doors opened.
The twenty-nine soldiers who still lived were instructed to make their way down into the belly of the ship and purge anything they found with fire and promethium flames. ‘Kill anything that moves. Clean up the mess and get rid of the evidence. If you can do that before those docking doors open you will receive triple pay and a month on blessed Terra.’
The soldiers were only too happy to comply and made their way to the elevator doors. As they opened a hundred thousand spiderlings drifted out on the air currents from the ship’s ventilation systems. One of the soldiers tried to light his flamer’s nozzle, but he was way too slow. No one even had time to scream before they were overtaken and bound to their own worst fears.
Those gathered in their own rooms did what they could to make the time pass by. Some read while others watched specially chosen view-picts or drafted complaints for having to be confined to their rooms like little children who had committed a carnal sin.
Their complaints were short lived and forgotten as the ventilation systems came on and sent billions of spiderlings throughout the ship’s interior.
From a holo-com the Captain of the Star Train spoke with customs and was in the process of verifying the contents of the ship’s manifest when he felt a light thread of webbing cross his face. It felt like a small hair and thinking nothing of it, pulled it from his skin and wiped it off on his navy-blue coat.
He continued reading off the contents of the manifest and answering questions from the customs officer, unaware of what was taking place upon his ship.
‘Are there illegal goods, unpermitted foodstuffs or impermissible drug contents upon your vessel?’ the customs officer asked. ‘No, sir, there is no such thing upon my vessel.’ Captain Barthelme Sofraties answered. He tried not to let his nervousness show, but it was difficult relaying confidence knowing what had taken place upon the Star Train within the last seventeen hours.
‘I trust that you nor anyone on board your vessel have had in the present or past any dealings with Chaos, xenos or pirate activities?’ the woman asked with point blank boldness. ‘No sir, we have not, in any way shape or form had any dealings with these entities.’ The Captain lied.
“Upon your word and declaration you are hereby received and granted access to the holy world of blessed Terra. We look forward to doing business with you.’ The customs officer said at last.
The holo-com faded out and in its place hung not one but two spiders, almost transparent except for the marking of a single eye with eight points leading out and around their backs. They hung from thin guide webs that moved in the slowly circulating air currents.
Fear and panic slapped him in the face and seized his heart as realization flooded his senses. Quickly he slapped them away from his face and stomped on them once they were on the floor.
Smiling from the delight of killing the warp spiders he said, ‘Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?’ Impressed and still adrenalized from his encounter with the spiders he turned to face the forward monitors and the bridge crew.
The Captain of the Star Train gasped in appalled terror at the sight before him. Thousands of spiders clung to the bridge crew, the chairs, the computers, the servitors and floated in the air upon the currents from the air-vents.
A hundred thousand silky webs glistened in the bridge lights, swirling this way and that as they floated and streamed from one stationary object to the next and from one corpse to another. Each corpse was faced toward him, mouths agape, eyes open wide and unblinking.
They watched him as he started to back away. They followed him as he shifted his weight and stepped away from his holo-desk. Terror seized him and caused his muscled to become wet with cold sweat as he felt a web graze against his ear.
Quickly he backed away from the spiders and his bridge crew, but immediately felt another web graze his skin. He nearly screamed like a scared child when he felt it, but he mastered himself and slowly deliberately approached the command throne.
All thought of commerce and reputation were gone now. Every lie he had ever said to himself was revealed for what it was. Every feeling of superiority dissipated in a flash. The only thing that remained was terror unlike anything he had ever felt before.
Captain Barthelme Sofraties knew he could not allow this infestation to reach blessed Terra. It would mean the end of all life there. His family was down there as well as countless of others that would all die in a nightmare of horror. His mind was made up now. There was only one thing he could do to insure the survival of his home world.
The spiders were upon him and he could feel them climbing up his arms, along his neck and under his cloths. They were upon is face and moved between his fingers. He could barely breathe from the sheer effort of trying to master his fears.
Shaking from fright he moved a little closer to the command throne, each step a force of will. Slowly he circled the bridge, sweat pouring from his forehead and down his back. The spiders were already cocooning him in thick webs that stung the skin. It was as if they were toying with him, as if this was a game. He could not understand why they had not bitten him yet.
All along the bridge he could see the crew that just a few moments ago were busy about their tasks, talking to each other, relaying information and carrying out orders. Now their bodies were beginning to cool, their color changing as the venom did its work and he watched their eyes fallow him as he made his way around the bridge.
He could feel the spiders run around his face and smell the corruption of their webs as they were laid upon his face. Terror and fright filled him but he pushed that fear down and continued to slowly tread forward, around the command throne and to the hand control with the identity grip.
He nearly fainted when the chiming from the communications console started. The spiders stopped moving as they felt his heart jump. One more step and he would be there. He took that step, extended his hand and slowly grasped the hand control.
With a bleep and a quick stabbing from an Identifying syringe the control matched the blood from the Captain with the blood on file. It acknowledged the matching of blood with a buzz and a question from the artificial intelligence program placed on board for this very purpose.
‘Captain Barthelme Sofraties, do you wish to execute command 11001100110001011?’ the voice asked. The voice was not unkind. It was the voice of what the Captain believed to have once belonged to a beautiful woman. Strange that now of all times he would think of that. He almost laughed at the thought.
One of the warp spiders stopped upon the Captain’s lips as he started to speak and when his mouth opened it ran inside and bit him on the inside of the cheek.
As he faded from this life and entered a dream he heard his voice breath out the last thing he would ever say… ‘I, Barthelme Sofraties, Captain of the Star Train, do now acknowledge and accept the program 11001100110001011.’
Throughout the entirety of the Star Train the same thing played out. A million webs were laid. A thousand crew and passengers paralyzed and dead, their souls knitted as one, eyes watching for more prey to happen by. A thousand consciousnesses were aware of themselves only as one would be aware of one’s own self in a dream state.
Eyes stared out into the halls, corridors and open spaces of the commerce vessel, mouths held agape, and spiders moving within and without. Nobody moved and no one spoke. It was eerie how a ship this large could be so lonely, so quiet.
The only voice that did speak was that of a woman softly speaking. She said, ‘Thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven, twenty-six…
Upon a Chaos war vessel not a single soul moved or acknowledged the repeated hails from the planet called Rexis. Not a single sound was made. None moved, but everyone lived.
The Chaos gods had no say in this, for where the warp spider lives all life becomes as one; a knotting of souls and a consumption of flesh, a knitting of corpses and a gathering of dreams.
Pray you are not within their reach. For where they are… not even the Emperor of mankind can save.
A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep!
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Last edited by Adrian; 09-20-11 at 09:03 PM.