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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-25-11, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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Default A Light, Snuffed.

The Warp. The Immaterium. The infinitochromatic plane of elemental, eternal chaos. The home and realm of unfathomably vast entities; the collected and sentient psychic and psychological effluvium of all realspace and realtime. Waves of raw energy crested and crashed upon islets of purest will.

Possibilities and potentials floated lazily in frayed, tangled skeins like massive algae blooms. Or perhaps seaweed clumps...was that a gigantic Well?

Small daemonic passersby glanced around, set over-bright sight-sense on the future, nodded casually, and proceeded to gibber and go insane. Massive intelligences probed and prodded cautiously at the outermost edges of the viney fate-lumps, their self-preservation warring with their obsessive lust for future-sight.

Kr'thiii'wqx - he of the fifty thousand tormenting pleasures and fifty thousand exquisite pains, Sensation's Vizier and Prophet of Indulgence - delved too deeply into the morass and melted into a boiling pool of raw passion. Nahangyr Illuminade was swallowed completely, bound forever in gordian mazes of temporal flux. The only thing that was left of him was the magnificent Grimoire of Uncounted Stars, which was promptly trampled upon and rent to shards by his jealous rivals. Zaar'athrax The Burning Sword stood frozen, indecisive, and helpless; his need for power and hatred of sorcery balanced perfectly on a knife's edge. And so it went. All was roiling, boiling madness on an unthinkably titanic scale.

But there are things before which even daemons give way. An avian shadow fell over the sea of souls. A monstrous shadow, great and terrible; one that reached into the very heart of all upon whom it rested. Slavering beasts and mighty warp-princes alike quailed before it and scattered, lest they draw its wrath. A tenebrous tendril reached out to the bobbing possibilities, casually immolating a half-dozen lesser daemons that failed to get out of the way quickly enough, and touched one particularly-choice future. The universe shuddered with eldritch force.

Satisfied, the shadow withdrew, trailing a palpable feeling of relief behind it. Smaller shadows and the lesser denizens of the warp drifted in its wake like whipped curs slinking back to the foot of their master. Slowly the knowledge-seekers made their distracted way back to the sea of time, and resumed their dangerous scrying.

Mostly lost in the thunder of the leviathan’s passing was the small golden flash darting in its wake. Only those beings with the keenest senses heard the low rumble of mocking laughter, even fewer saw a golden light briefly illuminate the timeskein, and none cared to think what it might mean.

~~~

The canister shuddered ominously as it crashed through the cosmos, shepherded by cackling daemons. Only the arcane runes carved in the raggedly ripped alchemical skin kept the newborn life form within from an unspeakable death. Non-euclidian teeth gnashed and oil-slick saliva slopped. The beasts sensed the vulnerable cargo and snarled in frustration.

No matter. That which sent them was smug and sure of its infallibility. It knew. It had plotted and planned and schemed, just as it had for millennia immemorial. It knew the endings of stories yet to be told. It had manipulated the very substance of fate, and had seen the fall of the bright soul within. A brilliant gambit that would skew the Great Game of the immaterium for all eternity. Unless of course some new game arose, and wouldn't that be a joy?

The pod soared on into the black, passing from the empyrean to realspace. It was very near its intended destination; a matter of a measly few million miles. The Shadow In The Warp smiled and turned away to other, less certain matters. The Great Game did not play itself, after all.

But all did not go quite according to plan. An aging star, red and black and shuddering in its death throes, picked a suspiciously precise moment to release a gout of super-heated vapour into the void. Across hundreds of thousands of miles the interstellar vacuum stripped the microscopic particulates of their savage heat, and so when the solar wind washed over the pod all it did was ever-so-slightly nudge it an infinitesimal fraction of a degree. It was enough.

Last edited by Taliesin; 07-25-11 at 03:56 PM.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-25-11, 08:20 AM
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Wow, such rich and descriptive writing. I could almost touch the daemons. Is this your doing? If so, where's the rest? I need more!

Great work, thank you for taking the time to write it.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-25-11, 12:19 PM
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This is an excellent beginning to your story.

One gripe though, please use the standard font for your text.


Nonsense is our Salvation

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-25-11, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serpion5 View Post
This is an excellent beginning to your story.

One gripe though, please use the standard font for your text.
Duly noted, and my sincerest apologies. My fault for copy-pasting the text without readjusting the typeface. Thanks for the correction.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-25-11, 08:01 PM
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I guess I have to wait for mor but I don't want to. Good post.

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-26-11, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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Default Part II

The pod smashed into the ground with a flaming shriek of superheated air and a tremendous shower of damp, fecund soil. Strange birds took panicked flight from slender, swaying trees, crying their consternation to each other at this sudden and unwanted intrusion. Disturbed air swirled and eddied about the ominously smoking crater, whispering wondering-nothings to itself. Native fauna pricked up their ears or sensory-pseudopoda as appropriate, and as one decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Utterly oblivious, the powder-blue sky and tiny silver-white sun grinned down placidly.

All was quiet. Unnaturally quiet. Minutes passed. Then hours. The wind rose and fell, playfully dancing across the recently-altered landscape. The blackened and abused canister lay still, half-buried in the alien soil.

A shadow fell across it. An inhumanly tall and slender shadow, bipedal and clutching a strange weapon. The shadow spoke, and musical lilt broke the silence. There was no reply from the still-smoking canister. The lilt flitted about again; seeking, questioning. Again, it was greeted with silence.

The shadow dropped into the crater, and resolved itself into an inhumanly beautiful creature, waifish, elfin, and clad in simple robes the same pale blue as the sky. Carefully the being approached the canister, knelt before it, and ran pale, thin fingers across its surface. Thought and distraction momentarily clouded its bright eyes, and it sat back casually, seemingly pondering the anomaly.

This strange new thing was nothing like it had ever seen before. Perhaps maybe it was some strange xenosbreed wreckage? No, there had not been any warnings of creatures in orbit. Perhaps age-less junk randomly floating through the void? Surely not; the odds were...were...well, they were monumentally poor. The spindly fingers tapped at the canister, and were rewarded with the feeling of characters stamped into the metal.

“XI”

The being leapt up. Mon-keigh. Here. On a Maiden World. Trembling fingers reached out to the canister, prying back the jagged edges of the tears in the metal with stupefying ease. Alien eyes peered apprehensively into the shadowed interior. An alien heart beat a panicked tattoo, faster and faster.

And then it stopped.

Last edited by Taliesin; 07-26-11 at 11:29 PM.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-26-11, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Whatever the being had been expecting, it had not been expecting an infant. Especially not an infant as large as this one -- were all mon-keigh children so massive? How barbaric their reproduction must be! -- and certainly not an infant whose disturbingly focused and intelligent eyes glowed blue, and whose large and completely unharmed body floated -- floated?!? -- within the pod’s wreckage. The child was clearly human, but it was just as clearly utterly exceptional.

In fact, so wildly incongruous was the sight of the eerily-placid child with the wreckage and violence of the crashed pod that for one horrified, adrenaline-overwhelmed moment the being frantically thought of daemons or spirits or other warp-trickery. But no. No. Reality reasserted itself. The long moment of panic passed. The being’s breathing resumed its normal rhythm. The child hovered in its canister, only the slow rise-and-fall of its chest betraying the spark of life within it.

In his later years Idryss Bel’Areth never could quite recall what drew him to the unknown child. After all, he was an Eldar, and possessed of that race’s well-known self-regard and distrust of ignorant upstart humanity. And this was a Maiden World; one of the crown jewels of his race, a planet kept unsullied and paradisical for millennia, a world his kinsmen would happily commit genocide to protect, a living celestial embodiment of the last pure remnants of his ancient kind. That a mon-keigh even set eyes on its blue skies was a blasphemy of the worst kind.

And then there was the child itself. Where had it come from? What barbaric warp-dabbling had kept it safe in the depths of space; by what crude processes had it been made such that it could not only survive a screaming fall through a planet’s atmosphere but be completely unmarked and unperturbed? And the glowing eyes! And the floating! Such things were not uncommon in eldar children of course -- callow and immature youths who had not yet accepted a Path or mastered their own roiling emotions and powers. But in a mon-keigh?!

All his senses and logic screamed at him that this was wrong, that this was unnatural and reeked of ill-intentions. Or even the Primordial Annihilator. Idryss had never walked the Seer’s Path, but even he felt that something was dreadfully amiss.

But the child’s eyes burned the same blue as the pure sky, and its placid smile was so guileless and earnest...

Sometimes Idryss would wake up from dreams reliving that fateful moment swearing that he had seen a golden flash right before he, as if in a trance, bent down and picked up the infant in his graceful, thin arms. Other times he would swear with equal vehemence that no such thing had happened. His friends and lovers would smile indulgently, knowing that such details didn’t really matter.

All that mattered was that he bent down, lifted the infant clear of the wreckage, and carried him back to the Exodite settlement he called home. As he had walked, he had thought. Of course there would be trouble. But it did not matter what the others thought. There was something special about this mon’keigh, and Idryss would see him raised properly. He had smiled. He had been contemplating walking the Path of Service again anyway.

And besides, if this mon...human proved unable to avoid the worst pratfalls of its kind...well, the Rangers would be only too happy to slit its alien throat.

In his arms the eleventh primarch rested, an expression of honest joy etched across his chubby baby-face.

Last edited by Taliesin; 07-27-11 at 05:14 AM.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-27-11, 08:20 AM
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Looking good.


Nonsense is our Salvation

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-06-11, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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“No.”

“No what? Are you telling me what I can and cannot do within my own hold?”

“You may do whatever you want in your hold. Just as the rest of us may banish fools and traitors. If you are so set on this, then do it on a Corsair raider. Or find a lenient craftworld. I do not care. But you cannot keep him here.”

“What would you have me do with the child, then?”

“I do not care.”

“If you do not care, why forbid me to raise him?”

“...You are being obstinate, Idryss.”

“You are being foolish, Korval”

“...”

“Well?”

“Get rid of the mon’keigh, Idryss. No, no, do not try my patience any longer. Dispose of the monstrosity, or leave us. That is the last I will say on this.”

~~~

The sun’s light was dying. Twisting trees, swaying in the wind cast their alien shadows across the grass. Autumnal chill nipped through the air. The wraithbone sling hung heavily across his shoulders, its occupant gurgling happily and tracing phantoms in the air with its thin fingers. Idryss Bel’Areth turned his back on his homeworld and ventured into the soul-devouring unknown. With a mutant mon’keigh infant strapped to his back. If the strangeness of the situation occurred to him, he didn’t show it.

~~~

The webway was not unknown to Idryss, but he had never spent so long within its eldritch confines. Days had passed, and even his capacious memory was losing track; one pearlescent path looking just like every other. The specter of being truly and utterly lost was beginning to creep up on him, even starting to eclipse the fear of depraved, soul-dead Corrmoraghite raiders. He sighed, and watched the infant toddle around on its unsteady, coltish legs. He hadn’t even decided on a name for the mon’keigh. And it would be a shame for such a strange little being to die without even being named.

~~~

The sky was red. Idryss shook his head. Of all the strange and grotesque things about this world, the red sky was probably the least disturbing, but it was the one thing he just could not get over. It just seemed abnormal, like everything had suddenly been bathed in blood; or moved into the middle of a vast, galaxy-wide bonfire. He sighed, told himself in the most imperious and demanding terms to forget it, and lay back on the rough dirt ground. After all, he ought to be thanking the dead gods that he had survived at all.

They had wandered the webway for what seemed like half a year, though Idryss had no way of measuring the passage of time accurately; his chronometer had simply ceased working after three sidereal weeks. Boredom was the main enemy. Idryss’ fears had been ill-founded. There had been no desperate chases that might have seen them almost captured by rangers; no near misses where only quick thinking and a psycho-reactive cloak gifted to him by a seer friend would have saved them from the flight of whooping savages who trailed skulls and strange alien viscera from the chains and wicked-looking blades adorning their jetbikes. No, it had been nothing but translucent tedium. Nothing but a never-ending slog with dwindling food supplies and ever-increasing delusionality.

Idryss had started inventing wild stories of all the heroic and wild adventures that he wasn’t having. As the days passed, he told these stories to the child out of the hope that doing so might take his own mind away from his empty stomach and dark thoughts. “Besides,” he had thought, “it couldn’t hurt to start teaching the child language." That is, assuming mon’keigh could even learn the Eldar tongue. For some reason, that idea never bothered Idryss too much.

Idryss sat up. Where was...oh good. Just a few hundred feet away, examining different rocks and plants. Relieved, Idryss lay back down, arms folded beneath his head for a pillow. The child had already grown an alarming amount, and had begun wandering off at odd moments. He was not speaking yet, but was quite steady on his feet and exhibited a precocious curiosity that had Idryss constantly on alert. Frustratingly, the child had a stubborn streak that grew apace with the rest of him, and Idryss had a sneaking suspicion that the reason the child had not spoken yet had more to do with his willfullness than average baby ignorance.

This was all suspicious, almost alarming. Common sense told him that mon’keigh should not mature this quickly. Even if he assumed that they grew more rapidly than Eldar did - how should he know how xenos did their breeding?!? - this was entirely unnatural. But the same feeling that drew Idryss to the child told him that he oughtn’t bother himself too much. Perhaps in a few days, once the shock of near-starvation and the stress of their webway sojourn wore off he would name the child and get down to business with a proper education. Maybe he would teach him some riddles. Or a ball-game. Of course, that supposed he could somehow fashion a ball...

Idryss slept peacefully on the red dirt, beneath the red sky. Which was a shame, because he never got to see the fleet of swift shadows blacken the sky, or hear the mon’keigh-child’s first lilting, laughing words:

“Time to fly!”

Last edited by Taliesin; 10-21-11 at 06:55 PM.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-20-11, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Idryss ran for his life. Alien scrub-grass and foliage slapped against his booted shins, roots grasping hungrily at his toes. Sweat poured off him, his burning lungs protested with each shuddering gasp, and his stride faltered. Another sleek craft screamed overhead, and he half-dove, half-tripped forward into a bundle of ferns.

He lay face-down in the dirt; the same red dirt on which he had been peacefully sleeping not twenty minutes before. Dust rose into his nostrils and irritated his eyes. Tears stung his eyes. Damn it all, the child was gone. Gone on a planet of corsairs and raiders; gone on a world swarming with the cruelest dross of the galaxy, and it was all his - Idryss Bel’Areth’s - fault. He cursed himself. He had gone to sleep without surveying the surroundings, only to be awakened by the scream of the wraith-bone fighters. He had left the child roam as he wilt. Left to be snatched up by wild jet-bike riders, or corralled by savage xenos mercenaries, or trampled by captive grox herds. He...he...

He hadn’t even given the boy a name.

Idryss bit back a scream of self-loathing and disgust, and thrashed in the ferns.

~~~

Several hundred parsecs away from the furiously sobbing eldar, the interstellar void erupted into drama.

Scuttling in the darkness. Chitinous clicking. A gibbering rasp of breath.

++Planet/object nearby?++

Coolant-ooze, pheremone laced and pungent, dripping from slavering mandibles. Beautiful, beautiful mandibles.

++Yes. We sense it. Small. Fast. Unknown++

Hope blooms. So long in the cold void. So long alone and drifting.

++Investigate. Make contact.++

More scuttling. Senses and sensors reach into the black, eagerly searching. Yes! Small. Burning bright with flame and spirit. So full of life. Exultations!

++Unknown lifeforms! We are K'Xragh! We are peace! Who/what are you? Speak! Unknown lifeforms! We are K'Xragh! We are peace! Who/what are you? Speak!++

Silence. Confusion. A wet purring. Synapses fire and cogitators hum.

++Do they hear/understand?++

Photovoltaic dendrites react to chemical infusion. Luminescence in the void, eager and colorful.

++Do they see?++

Yes! Small lights! Approaching!

++They come!++

Closer...Closer...

++Unknown lifeforms! Welcome! We are K'Xragh! We are peace! Who/what are y....++


Pain. So much pain. The small strange ones are inside. Ripping, tearing, wrecking, killing. Pain and rage and fear and sadness, fading with each spasm of wounded flesh and rent bioplas. Ichor spills and flows.

++Unknown lifeforms...You cause pain...We are p-peace. P-please stop...We are i-in pain/damage...++

They spread. Implacable. Malicious. Deathbringers. A dark form looms over a weeping sense-organ. A sparking blade, striking. One last thought lit a neural cognipath: a memory. The destruction of an aberrant genus; a malformed and mutated dysfunction. Cold, it was, and clinical. An exact administration of death. An execution. Replayed now, in its moment of death. Why?

~~~

The operation was carried out with the utmost precision. Boarding-torpedoes ruptured the strange amalgam of biological and artificial materials that passed for the xenos entity's “hull” with absurd ease. Squad leaders voxed confirmation of full debarkation. Auspex returns mapped the interior of the entity within seconds, and data-packets were stored for the Ordo Xenos and Magos Biologis inspection and vivisection. Bolters were primed, the pilot lights of flamers flickered to life, and the motors of chain-weapons gunned into life with throaty roars.

Twenty minutes after first contact with the xenos entity, two minutes after the commencement of hostilities, and five seconds after the first torpedo slammed into the entity's pulsating flank, the killing began.

Armored giants strode through corridors knee-deep in alien offal. The creatures they cut down were horrendous cyborgs; amoebic insects surgically enhanced with strange plastics and implants. The xenos moved strangely, in awkward social coordination. Later it would be speculated that they posessed some rudimentary form of psyker-talent, or perhaps some as-yet unknown form of hivemind. But nevertheless they died. The stink of it rose, and soon the bright powder-blue warplate of the invaders was coated in a dull layer of grey-green slime.

They killed, and killed, and when there was nothing left that moved they started on the structure itself, until a single word of command hissed across the vox. As one, they all turned and retreated back to the boarding torpedoes and were towed away from the ravaged and dying xenos craft. They left behind nothing but death and destruction and the shattered dreams of unhappy naivete. They left nothing but that same ruin to show that they had even ever been there.

It was a splendid and auspicious beginning to the Great Crusade.

Last edited by Taliesin; 10-21-11 at 06:39 PM.
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