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The Traveler
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Guardsman Hawke rubbed his hands together. His breath misted in front of him. A small glowglobe threw a orange tint around the trench.

Two other guardsmen from A were standing nearby, talking quietly. They stopped and stared as the platoon's Commissar walked by, his black coat skating along the snow. Hawke turned back to his fireteam. Warner, the loader for the autocannon, was smoking a smoldering bac-stick. Young, the gunner, nearby. The two other infantrymen, Rikko and Sanchez, were on the firing step. A pair of magnoculars was in Sanchez's hand.

"Contact!" yelled a voice down the trench. " 1200 yards! Straight out!"

His sargeant lept up. Warner grabbed the extra case for the autocannon as a Rhino swam into view among the smoke.

The Rhino's hull was adorned with the bodies of Guardsmen, along with leering iron faces and a thick black smog belched from it's engine. The entire machine roared like a wounded beast and charged the trench.

Young grabbed the controls to the autocannon and put two rounds through the driver's window. The Rhino exploded, flames broiling outwards.

A scream died within the machine as burnt traitor Guard exited the transport, dying.

Gibbs, the sergeant of his team, turned around to praise his men.

"Nice work, fellas. Soon see these buggers of, eh?"

Gibbs' head exploded.

The fireteam scrabled away from the sight, horrified at the death of their leader. A scream echoed down the trench. Hawke noticed he heard no sound from either end of the line. The entire 55-man platoon had fallen silent at what was crossing the plain in front of them.

Disease-pocked and vile, at least a division of Death Guard marched forth, their guns adorned with skulls. Rhinos and Predator-pattern tanks cracking the ice under their weight. At their head was a massive figure, cradling a scythe that dripped with gore. A smoking bolter was held in one fist.

Young was first to recover. Knocking over a drum, he reached the autocannon just as an explosion of green ooze covered it. Young screamed as the pus melted the flesh from his bones. Sanchez and Warner were next to go, bolter shots punching through the men and exploding, throwing lunatic shadows along the trench. Rikko pulled Hawke down, yelling incomprehensible gibberish. Hawke crawled along the trench, hearing the crack and snap of lasguns, and the explosive retort of bolt shells and autocannon. Rikko's arm had been hit at some point, and was a strip of gore hanging from his shoulder. Rikko gaped in open-mouthed horror at the missing limb.

Hawke saw a Plague marine drop into the trench in front of the next fireteam, and one behind. He rose up with a yell, and put two shots throught the traitor's neck. The marine growled, and returned fire. Rikko was hit again and died without a sound. Hawke shot the marine again, through his eye lens, and the Death Guardsman toppled over with a squelch.

The second Death Guard picked Hawke up off the ground. Hawke shivered in terror. The Marine was a walking diesease. It's armor dripped pus from the joints and vile boils erupted from the vents. A dirty yellow glow shone from it's eyepieces and it's bolter smoked with spent shells. An Imperial Guard helmet hung from it's belt, one side torn open and blood- stained. The Marine made an odd coughing noise, and blood-flecked ooze spat from it's rebreather.

"Take you to Lord Pox, I will. Made a Death-Marine die, great achievement, to be sure...but now you must be killed for Lord Nurgle, yes."

Hawke kicked the Marine, but only suceeded in hurting his foot. Several of the boils on the Marine's armor ruptured, spilling blood and ooze along it's front.

Hawke saw the fist coming, and the world went black.

Guardsmen First Class Gerald Hawke opened his eyes to a shadow. The massive Death Guardsmen in front of his wore a vile suit of Terminator Armor, and carried the vast scythe he had seen from the battle. The Plague Marine who had caught him was lurking behind the Terminator.

"You killed a Plaguekin?" hissed the monster.

"Ye-Yes...er...Vile Heretic!" Hawke lashed out with his foot again, but once again only hurt his foot. The monster stomped on his leg, breaking the bone. Hawke cried out.

The creature sighed. "Many years since last Deathguard died, very many."

It spun the scythe into it's hand.

"You must be punished."

Hawke whimpered.

"Take him to the Plaguebearers, tell them to leave nothing but the skull. It will make a fine addition to the banner of Plague."

The marine behind the monster picked him up rudely. "You are most blessed, servant of the False Emperor, Lord Pox will gaze on your skull for all eternity."

Hawke screamed again, as a demonic face appeared in the pit in front of them. The marine opened his fingers, and the world went away.
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