Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf surveyed the scorched landscape before him and felt a shudder of excited anticipation. More than a year ago he had brought the might of his Jager Corps to this desolate, forgotten place. What had once been a vibrant world within the Imperium had been abandoned and left to a grim fate as part of Inquisitor Kryptman’s gambit1 to stay the advance of Hive Fleet Leviathan2. This world was one of a hundred such left to die. Circling those hundred worlds were many more worlds that were evacuated and razed to the ground. Leviathan may feed on the hundred worlds it had already invaded but it would find no sustenance on the cordon worlds and thus its advance would grind to a halt.
Though it had happened generations ago, Kryptman’s Gambit was known even by the lowliest trooper within the might of the Imperium. Kryptman had been declared Excommunicate Traitoris and was forced to live in exile. It was true that Leviathan had been slowed and that the Gambit had bought the Imperium precious time to prepare, but many felt the cost of a hundred worlds and its billions of citizens was too high a price to pay.
Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf did not agree. When at war with an enemy that required the death of its enemies to survive you had to be prepared to do whatever was necessary to ensure the survival of the Imperium. He and his Jager Corps had clashed with Tyranids countless times. He had seen how Tyranids strip a world of life and use it to birth new monstrosities. He had also felt the affects of the Shadow in the Warp3 and had witnessed how the Hive Tyrants and other psychically imbued forces controlled the more bestial ranks. He had read the Imperium lore that suggested every Tyranid force, though able to act individually, was, in fact, just a small part of the greater whole. To think that a Hive Mind that spanned eons worth of universal space was able to pull the individual strings of its forces was a thought difficult to comprehend. It was also the thought that most occupied Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf. This is why the Magister Militum had gathered to him Librarians and troops who shared his philosophies of war and his belief that Inquisitor Kryptman was a hero, not a traitor.
Finding this planet ended a search started more than ten years ago. The Magister Militum knew a world cleansed of Tyranids or a world that had been devoured by Tyranids was not truly a dead world. Within everything left behind– from bubbling reclamation pools4 to the husks of vast capillary towers5 that when active had fed biomass to orbiting bio-ships– there lie dormant not only the building blocks of new Tyranids but also the intelligence required to drive it. It could lie in stasis for millennium if need be, waking only when a new source of biomass happened upon its location.
Magister Militum Ruldolf and his Jager Corps visited several supposed dead worlds. From a low orbit, his cadre of Psykers quested into the depths of the detritus littering these planets, seeking the residue of a slumbering Tyranid mind; but, not just any. It had to be a severed thread. One with no connection to the Fleet from whence it came. It also must be one that slept within a world possessing limited potential for generating new spawn. It would not do to wake a Tyranid threat that would have within its grasp enough biomass to raise a formidable army.
His quest was not without loss. The minds of several Psykers were irreparably damaged when contact was made with the Tyranids. His Psykers had since learned to be more cautious. Grand Librarian Hoeth described it as slowly lowering one’s hand toward a roaring flame, pulling back at the slightest lick of heat, but knowing that the goal was to grab the flame and bend it to your will.
But how does one hold the flame without being burned?
Now on the planet’s surface, Magister Militum Ruldolf could feel the psychic storm generated by Grand Librarian Hoeth and the Psykers. Those two dozen men stood behind him, and behind them were the assembled ranks of the elites within the Jager Corps. These thousand stood arrayed along a raised spine of rock scoured to a flat surface by hurricane force winds that could blow for months. The landscape in front of the assembled strength was cracked rock and steam vents to the horizon. The ground rose and fell only slightly. The view was unobstructed except for the mound of one toppled feeder tower. That mound rose a kilometer and was ten times as round at its base. The sky overhead was black and angry. Clouds rolled and spewed white lightning. Magister Militum Ruldolf could feel the accompanying thunder claps deep within his chest despite the Power Armour he wore.
For more than an hour, the Grand Librarian and the Psykers had been at their work. During that time, the Magister Militum noticed the shattered peak of the mound had never once been touched by lightning. He had not yet decided if that was an ill omen.
The psychic storm that had been simmering intensified as the Grand Librarian sought to take control of the Tyranid mind he and his Psykers had found beneath the mound. A year’s worth of searching the rest of the planet had discovered no other. The Grand Librarian’s work had also confirmed that the mind beneath the mound had no tendrils that connected it to anything outside the sphere of energy that surrounded the planet. Lesser Librarians and Pyskers in orbit were still working on that particular puzzle. The angry energy was a combination of shattered Warp6 and perverted remnants of the Shadow in the Warp. An odd combination that, but not without its benefits. It not only served to isolate the dormant Tyranids from outside influence but also hid the powerful psychic experiments being performed by the Grant Librarian and his cadre.
“I have it,” said Grand Librarian Hoeth.
Magister Militum Ruldolf allowed himself a smile. He felt confident that his theories would soon be proven true. It would be possible for the formidable psychic forces of the Imperium to bend the will of a Tyranid mind isolated from a Hive Fleet. The Grand Librarian who controlled the Tyranid mind could learn from it, but also manipulate it.
The cost of the experiments to come would be costly. Many of the Psykers arrayed behind the Magister Militum could die if the Tyranid mind fought back. It was a price worth paying because if the Tyranid mind could be controlled Magister Militum Ruldolf was going to use it to raise a Tyranid army.
Inquisitor Kryptman’s Gambit was controversial, but it worked. In time, Magister Militum Ruldolf believed he would be remembered for his own gambit. He would show how Tyranids were best suited to kill Tyranids.