Category Archives: Stories

An Old Threat Returns

We have arrived at the designated coordinates, Lord.

Trazyn the Infinite drummed his metallic fingers on the throne-like command chair aboard the Garrotte. The flagship of the fleet was one of a dozen he had assembled from the resources on Solemnace. He had started the forge catacombs to create massive transports to bring his newly programmed troops. Gauss cannons and other weaponry bristled along the warships, ready to take on an enemy fleet or conduct an orbital bombardment if necessary.

This universe was not his native reality, he knew as much now. Wherever the Trazyn of this reality was, he would still be unaware of a doppelgänger co-opting his war materiel. All Trazyn knew from his painstaking analysis was his arrival here led to subsequent battles against a bizarre array of Space Marines, Necron, Tyranids and Tau forces. His body and small security force had been destroyed, but his Resurrection Protocol had still linked to the Solemnace Throne World of this reality’s Trazyn, putting his essence and consciousness into a new cybernetic body. He had some theories as to how he had arrived and how he could harness the unique combination of Chaos forces around the world he had dubbed Ground Zero to return home. He had certainly decided on that. He wanted nothing to do with this reality. He was at a better advantage at home than here. If he needed to annihilate every living creature on Ground Zero, he would do so.

“Excellent,” said Trazyn. “Hold our position and deploy the drones.”

He kept his fleet shielded by an asteroid belt in case there were other enemy fleet remnants in-system. Now, his drones would monitor the situation on Ground Zero and allow him to accurately map out the position of the enemy forces. Once he had an idea where the lay of the land was, he could begin his incursion.

Now, he waited. Fortunately, Trazyn the Infinite had infinite patience.

******

Days later, Trazyn looked up at a holographic display outlining the positions of the enemy forces. Their last skirmish had been illuminating, to say the least. Chaos Daemons and Necrons, with enslaved Tyranid forces had delivered a crushing blow to the Space Marines/Space Wolves/Tau forces. The former had shown considerable coordination and teamwork strategy. The latter, despite impressive shows of force against singular insurmountable odds, we’re not cohesive and paid the price. Now, the individual sides had each retreated to lick their proverbial wounds, but Trazyn’s statistical analysis showed that given enough time, with the current command and control structures, the Chaos/Necron/Tyranid forces would overcome.

That would not be an acceptable outcome.

The Necron forces of this universe would not be an ally. He knew the nature of Necron Overlords to kill one another and he had no reason to believe it was any different here. Tyranids were impossible to control or rely on. Chaos was the reason they were in this mess, the forces of Chaos and Warp having created some sort of temporal/dimensional paradox on this world that had brought them together.

That left the forces of Space Marines and Tau. They were losing, but they could be reasoned with. He could offer his assistance and forces to strengthen their own. In the end, if he could use them for his own purposes, he could get to his endgame…

There was an abandoned city not far from the battlefield. In that city was a considerable confluence of energies that approximated the energy signature of his arrival here. He may be able to manipulate it enough to get himself home… But he would need time. His presence and equipment at that site would be detected by the opposing Necron forces. He would need the Marines and Tau (or H’Av’Raj’Ikon as they called themselves now) forces to act as cover and distraction while he conducted what he needed. How to get them on his side? How best to approach them?

Perhaps the best method was the direct one.

It was time to introduce himself to his potential new ‘allies’.


Consequences

Pain was everything. Her existence was a red haze scattered with stars. Voices sounded around her, but they were unintelligible, reduced to the background as white noise. A keening wail sounded over the voices. If she had been capable of coherent thought, she would have realized it was her own screams.

The Bloodletters charged toward her, blades slashing. She turned to face them, grinning as they got closer… Closer… Closer… She activated the Repulsor Impact Field of her Arrakon Class Battlesuit. Bloodletters were thrown back by the energy web before being explosively torn apart. It was one of many nasty surprises this Crisis suit had within it. Much like Neran’s Farsight Crisis suit, it had been modified with extra offensive and defensive systems not found in a standard issue battlesuit. T’Hara prepared for the next wave of enemy forces. Despite the tricks of her suit, she was aware her and her allies’ forces were in danger of being imminently overrun.

Her heads-up display showed the disposition of the forces of the battlefield. Necron ground forces were a good distance away but the scythe-like fighters above were deadly as they struck. The XV88 Broadside suit exploded from an enemy strike, its impressive armor still not enough to withstand the combined Necron/Chaos/Tyranid forces.

R’jon stood atop a wrecked transport, firing his twin-linked fusion blasters into Tyranid Biovores. He had managed to escape the enemy’s attacks using clever hit and run tactics, much like she had done until the Chaos and Tyranid ground forces overran her position.

She moved her cyclic ion blaster to take aim at the Chaos daemons that were renewing their assault. The creatures seemed to defy physical logic, moving faster than they seemed. They would run like a trooper then suddenly be on her in an instant. They slashed at her armor, sparks flying as control systems failed. Her Impact Field was unresponsive. Flailing her arms, she tried to keep them at bay until one of her weapon systems could activate, but it was too late. They swarmed her, filling her field of vision. Sudden pain on her left side wracked her as she heard the battlesuit’s systems speak.

“SURVIVAL PROTOCOLS ACTIVATED…”

****

T’Hara slowly opened her eyes. It took several seconds for her eyes to adjust to the dim light. As the world came into focus, she saw she was in a makeshift camp, not unlike the ones they had been in since their arrival on this death world. She was lying on a pallet, a battlefield medical kit set up around her. An intravenous bag was hung beside her, the line reaching into her right arm. She felt no pain, in fact she felt quite good. Around her, others were being administered care. Tau and Jager Corps both. Some of them were beyond help, approaching their final moments. Others slept. Beyond the medical stations, she could see damaged Crisis battlesuits, some beyond repair. Space Marine armor was being repaired by technicians. The camp was bustling, but even the small part visible to T’Hara was enough for her to know they had lost a good many soldiers.

She tried to sit up but a gentle yet firm hand pushed her back to rest. It was Pathfinder R’Jon.

“Rest,” he said. “For now, we’re safe. We have patrols established on the perimeter.”

“We lost,” said T’Hara.

“Yes,” said R’Jon, “But the enemy paid dearly for it.”

T’Hara looked into the night sky. “Our forces?”

“We lost good men and women,” said R’Jon. “But we have learned much. Every battle we learn more of their tactics. Even the Chaos creatures and Tyranids exhibit tactics that can be calculated and predicted, if a little more haphazardly than say, Space Marines.”

“We’ll need the drones to conduct a full battlefield analysis,” said T’Hara, “Have you uploaded the collective footage?”

“It’s being done now,” said R’Jon. “You need to focus on resting.”

“I feel fine,” said T’Hara, “More than fine, actually.”

“That’s the painkillers,” said R’Jon. “You needed them… We had to perform surgery.”

“Surgery?” Asked T’Hara. She looked down at herself. Everything looked fine… She could feel her legs, arm… Only one arm. Her left arm was gone.

“You barely escaped,” said R’Jon. “The battlesuit jumped away, but not before the Chaos creatures had taken your arm.”

T’Hara looked away. “Neran?”

“Dead,” said R’Jon.

T’Hara closed her eyes. She wanted to sleep and never wake up.

****

Days passed and the combined Jager and Tau forces mourned their dead and regrouped their forces. Repairs were made as well as could be done. The battle had been lost, but the war continued.

T’Hara stood facing the Farsight Crisis suit that had been worn by Neran. It was surprisingly unblemished, the technicians doing an impressive job of undoing the battle damage.

She flexed her cybernetic arm. It still felt odd, but in other ways felt better. It had some surprises built into it that the Tau and Space Marine weapons techs had devised after reviewing the battlefield data. In particular, a sigil etched into it that was also now on every soldier and battlesuit. The next time they faced Chaos, they would not go down so easily.

Next time, the battle would be on their terms. They couldn’t change their forces… But they could change the battlefield.

“Shas’nel T’Hara,” said R’Jon as he ran up to her. He was out of breath. “Librarian Hoeth needs us. He says he’s received a message.”

Now that Neran was dead, command had fallen to T’Hara. “From who?”

R’Jon led T’Hara to the Jager Communications Shelter. “It came from deep space. From someone calling himself Trazyn.”


A New Chapter

Logan Grimnar stood at the centre of the Strategium on the Ironfist, hands clasped behind his back. The smooth, polished walls of the circular room were devoid of datascreens. Instead, tapestries hung at regular intervals. The weaves were faded but nonetheless vivid in their depiction of this ship’s storied history. Grimnar sneered. The portrayed triumphs were unknown to him, mere blips in the far grander tapestry of the Imperium’s work among the stars. Grimnar’s gaze slid down to the floor and his lips curled into a snarl. The symbol of the Imperial Guard was engraved on the tiles, the work inlaid with shimmering gems that alternated between blue and red depending on the play of the ambient lighting. The garish engraving and the display of tapestries in the Strategium smacked of pride and was the sole doing of the ship’s current commander, who was now stamping up and down the raised platforms of the bridge rather than standing behind Grimnar in the Strategium.

Let him stomp, thought Grimnar. There is no room for pride in what is next to come. 

The Light Cruiser Ironfist had been part of a fleet tasked with destroying greenskins. Grimnar and his Wolves had joined the fleet less than a week ago, responding to calls of assistance. The Imperial Guard sent to do the job were unprepared for the sheer number of Orks and thus it had fallen once again to the Vlka Fenryka to finish what others could not.

Finish it we did, thought Grimnar. And yet I had no chance to congratulate my warriors.

On the eve of their victory, Grimnar had received summons from the High Lords of Terra. In his private chambers on the Strike Cruiser Stormpeak, Grimnar took the knee, bowed his head and received the following message: The situation on Adrilles had grown severe. He– Logan Grimnar– had underestimated the delicacy of the situation and had not foreseen other interested parties being drawn to the calamity brewing. As a result, Arjac Rockfist was not prepared for what he had found on the planet and was incapable of bringing the situation to a close in a manner befitting the Will of the Emperor, as communicated to and through the High Lords of Terra.

Grimnar had remained silent throughout the audience. He had glanced upward occasionally to view the flickering forms of the High Lords. The message had been clear even if the images and spoken words had sometimes only been half-formed from distortion.

“It shall be done.” That is what Grimnar had said when the High Lords of Terra had eventually fallen silent. There had been much more Grimnar could have said, but he held his tongue. He had done so not because he was acquiescent. Indeed, it was in his nature to tug ferociously at the bonds of faith and honour that bound him to the Emperor. No, he had played the role of scolded dog because it was clear to him that the High Lords did not understand the situation on Adrilles. They had put too much emphasis on the Jager Corps. The machinations of the Jagers had created the crucible on Adrilles, but it was what bubbled to the surface that was the greater threat to the Imperium.

Chaos.

But, the High Lords had spoken briefly of Chaos as if the demonic forces were a minor irritant. So many words spoken about the Jager Corps and the blasphemy of their psychic experimentation. The name Thousand Suns had been invoked and it had taken much of Grimnar’s strength to not laugh at the outlandish comparison.

Ruldolf was no Magnus.

Most telling, thought Grimnar, was that at no time during the one-sided audience with the High Lords had any of their esteemed number acknowledged their previous dismissal of Arjac Rockfist’s concerns regarding the Jager Corps when Grimnar had brought the matter before them several years ago. That audience– far shorter than the most recent– had resulted in Grimnar sending Arjac Rockfist on a solitary hunt. The hunt had been successful but the kill had not yet occurred because the quarry had attracted many more predators to Adrilles.

One other thing Grimnar had been able to successfully hide from the High Lords of Terra was his anger at not knowing of the declining situation on Adrilles before he had bowed his head in his private chambers to answer the summons. The last communication he had received from Arjac Rockfist was that he was taking the Claw of Russ, the Hammerfall, the Ire of Grimnar and several support ships to Adrilles where he felt certain the Jagers had found a suitable locale for their experiments. To be blind-sided with information about Chaos and feuding Necrons had shaken Grimnar. Fortunately, his bowed head had hidden his reflexive scowl and his power armour had masked his body’s sudden tautness.

“It shall be done.” It was as strong as any oath he had taken before going into battle.

When the flickering forms of the High Lords of Terra had dissipated like dying embers drifting into night, Grimnar stormed the passageways leading to the bridge. He shouted orders at any in sight, firm in the knowledge the contents of the messages would be swiftly carried to the intended ears. Within a few hours, Logan Grimnar and several hundred of his best were preparing to enter the Warp in the belly of the Ironfist. Most of his Vlka Fenryka would remain with the Imperial Guard to continue the fight against the greenskins in the sector. His own strike cruiser he left behind. The High Lords wanted results but did not want to commit a mighty host of The Fang to the cause. They did not want ripples extending through the Imperium.

Not that there would be any subtlety in Grimnar’s handling of the situation on Adrilles, but he could understand the High Lords’ concerns. Word of the Jagers psychic machinations and the confluence of powerful, destructive forces could unsettle great swaths of the galactic region. It could– and, in Grimnar’s opinion, most likely still would– draw more powers to the center of the mounting storm. And yet, somehow, the High Lords wanted a swift and contained resolution.

The whole of Grimnar’s trip in the Warp was occupied with speculation about the tactical truth of Adrilles and the devising of strategies to deal with the possibilities. And yet his mind also found time to ruminate on a haunting thought: Arjac Rockfist had not contacted Grimnar about Adrilles and he would not have contacted the High Lords of Terra directly. It was an impossibility. So, how was it that the High Lords of Terra had received the news they had imparted to Grimnar?

The answer to that question came to Grimnar when he learned there were shadows following the Ironfist through the Warp. Ships of the Cult Mechanicus. Grimnar could not stifle the growl that rose in his throat nor hide the scowl that furrowed his brow. Both brought all activity on the bridge to a halt.

For the remainder of the journey a new question had plagued him. How long had the Cult Mechanicus been involved?

That question had not yet been answered.

The door to the Strategium opened. Arjac Rockfist stepped in.

“We have much to discuss,” said Logan Grimnar. His voice was flat. Cold like the homeworld of the Wolves. “And I fear we do not have much time to do so.”

Arjac nodded. The doors closed. The tapestries stirred in the resulting breeze.