The Tales of the Emperasque: Part One
Part of the Tales of the Emperasque, by Someone Else.
A Tarrasque appears on Holy Terra. What do?
This is the final log of Captain-General Imorta of the Adeptus Custodes. I have failed, and deserve this end. Only this morning, a beast of such horrifying size and power that I can not in confidence say it was not a Warp-Watcher appeared in the Hall of the Golden Throne. From whence it came, I can but guess that the long-ruined Webway portal in the base of what used to be the Golden Throne must have finally given out completely. The monstrosity moved at a speed I would not credit to any being of secular origins. I was returning from a meeting of the Senate of the High Lords when I entered the Hall, and Emperor forgive me, but at the sight of the beast I could but scream for the Titans which flanked the Golden Gates to attack, despite the fact that they were not cleared to do so. Bless them, they leapt at my order. The beast bounded forward, across the mammoth hall, and leaped at the Emperor atop his throne. I, and the Companions, sprinted forth, with the blasts of the Titans impacting—to no use—against the daemon’s flank. As the beast reached one massive claw forward to swipe at His divine self, there was a brilliant, purple flash of light from its eyes. For a moment, I dared hope that the monstrosity had been slain by the Emperor’s Divine power, but I saw it was not to be. The monster vanished, taking the Emperor with it. What have I permitted? What have I allowed? I can never be forgiven as long as I live. I can seek only absolution in death.
From the personal journals of Astrofacilitrix Adepta Argyle of the Imperial Navy Falchion Frigate Iron Will
What the FUCK? I was in the middle of a delicate conversation with the Fleet Master Telepath when a psychic wave enveloped the entire convoy. Immersed in the warp as we are, I can only bless the Navigator that we did not immediately fly into a sun or each other. All I or any other psychic in the fleet can do is remember a presence, as brilliant and awe-inspiring as the Astronomican itself, roaring past us in the immaterium with horrifying speed and power, reminding me quite a bit of the summoning of an Eldar Shard of Khaine on a world I was orbiting at the time.
I could hear a most horrifying call in the warp, rageful and joyous and anticipatory: “IT’S ABOUT BLOODY TIME!” as loud as if six thousand men were screaming it in my ear. We were heading to Cadia at the time, perhaps this…thing will be there? I rather hope not.
Transcript of the holopict recording of the Daily Strategy Meeting, Kasr Prime, Cadia, Lord Castellan Creed presiding. Activus Personae:
- Lord Castellan Ursarkar E. Creed, Supreme Commander Munitorum, Cadia
- Harald Deathwolf, Wolf Lord, Space Wolves
- Lord Commissar Blenkach, senior Commissarial representative to the Cadian Joint Task Force
- Lord Admiral Clenden, Supreme Commander Cadian Naval Task Group
- Mardeus, Cadia Master telepath, Adepta Astra Telepathica
- Jarran Kell, Colour Sergeant, Kasr Force
Castellan Creed summons order. Various sounds come in through the window open to the parade ground, [dogs, firing rounds, wake-up drill noises, engines]
Creed: Gentlemen, I’m afraid we must abandon our usual pleasantries. Something unexpected has occurred. I need to fill you all in as rapidly as possible.
Deathwolf: Did Abaddon wake up cranky, or is it something genuinely unusual?
Several seconds pause, Sergeant Kell suppresses laughter
Creed: We – by which I mean Mardeus – have detected a Warp emanation approaching the Cadian gate. It will arrive within the hour. It’s not a ship, we can tell, but it does seem to be moving faster directly for the planet. Its point of origin is Terra.
Harald: Then what’s the problem?
Clenden looks astonished. Creed sighs angrily
Creed: The problem, Astartes, is that we have absolutely no idea what it’s doing. We don’t even know what it is.
Clenden: Are there any Warp Storms between here and Terra, Sieur Mardeus?
Mardeus: No. The Eye does not extend beyond us, and the Lady Navigatrix of your own fleet assures me that there are no distorting daemon worlds between us and Holy Terra.
Clenden: Then we should account for the possibility that whatever it is, it may not be a servant of the Great Enemy.
Blenkach: And by what stretch of the imagination do you make that assumption? A warp entity this close to the Eye isn’t going to be safe to approach, and I don’t care if it’s Cypher himself, nothing that the Warp spits out lacks an agenda.
Clenden: I said nothing about its trustworthiness, Lord Commissar. All I said was that it might not serve the Dark Gods.
Creed: Whatever it is, its approach puts it on the surface in… [checks watch] five minutes.
Table dissolves into incoherent babbling for several seconds.
Deathwolf: And we’re learning about it NOW?
Mardeus: I learned of it myself less than fifteen minutes ago, Lord Deathwolf. I assure you, even seeing it at the speed it’s moving was nearly impossible. It’s moving faster than anything that isn’t in the Webway should be, and emitting a warp displacement the likes of which a Blackstone Fortress couldn’t match. A Tyranid Hive ship has a smaller presence in the immaterium.
Clenden: The full force of Battlefleets Obscura, Gothic, Carredius, and fully one third of Solar stand ready to intercept this thing. And who knows, if it’s as dangerous as it sounds, and truly isn’t here to interfere with us, those Eldar of Ulthwé might even have a hand in it. [turns to Mardeus] Is there a possibility that this thing might be an Eldar craftworld that got sucked into the Warp?
Mardeus: No chance. Craftworlds are harder to see at these distances, and they can not move that fast through the Warp. They aren’t even supposed to be able to enter it all, you’ll recall.
A shriek of terror, followed by a very loud THUD sound from the outside of the window. Creed and Kell leap to the window and Mardeus collapses. The light from outside visibly turns purple
Deathwolf: WHAT IN THE NAME OF LEMAN RUSS IS THAT THING?!
Creed: I... I have no idea.
Inhuman roar sounds from beyond window. A cacophony of dogs barking and human screams begin from the parade grounds.
Mardeus yells in shock and passes into a coma. Blenkach draws his vox-caster.
Blenkach: Artillery command! Fire control, active! Immediate effect, danger close! Target parade grounds and--
Creed: [grabs vox-caster away from Blenkach] Belay prior commands, artillery command. Target has departed.
Blenkach: Departed?! It’s…gone?!
Deathwolf: It’s gone, Lord Commissar.
Mardeus begins shivering, still comatose.
Kell: Lord Creed, sir, shall I summon a medicae?
Creed: Immediately, Kell. [sits down, begins shaking his head] I never thought I would see THAT.
The light from the window returns to the normal color of morning sunlight
Clenden: Why was it glowing? Why was it laughing? [pulls out his own vox-caster] Fleet command, this is Admiral Clenden. Track the object that emerged from the warp rift in the Kasr parade ground at once. Where is it going?
Several agonizing seconds pass.
Clenden: What the living hell do you mean, TOWARDS the Plaguemaster base?
Plaguebearer Glubtil was not a complex daemon. He loved Papa Nurgle, and Papa Nurgle loved him. He loved Glubtil so much, he had given Glubtil the title of Plaguemaster, the first Plaguebearer ever to have that name! Glubtil was out on the hills of Cadia one morning, doing what he always did: watching that angry young Abaddon order people around. Glubtil sighed. He knew Papa loved Abaddon, but it never made sense to Glubtil why the Ascendant One was always so MAD! He got the chance to spread Papa’s love, along with those other powerful people in the warp, so why was he always going on about “vindication” this, and “vengeance” that, and “undying conquest” the other thing? Wasn’t it enough to just spread the virulent delights of the Deathgarden?
Just as Glubtil made up his mind to go have a chat with young Abaddon and ask him that very thing, something changed. Glubtil didn’t like change much, unless it was showing people how much Papa loved them, but he couldn’t tell at first what was going on. A big yellow thing, larger than even old Uncle Bubonicus, jumped over the hill he was standing on! It looked like a big yellow dog, really, and Glubtil stared at it happily. He loved dogs.
The dog didn’t stop to roll around in the Fetid Ground, though, he jumped right over them and went straight for that rascal Abaddon’s HQ. Glubtil watched, mesmerized, as the big yellow doggie jumped on top of the building and started yelling a whole lot. If Glubtil still had had his ears, it might have hurt!
Abaddon the Despoiler, Lord of the Chaos Ascendants, Leader of Twelve Black Crusades (he still resented Doombreed stealing that fifth one from him), Disciple of the Eight-Pointed Star, and unquestioned leader of the Black Legions, was the nightmare of the High Lords of Terra. His was a name mentioned by parents to terrify their children. He was the only man to have ever refused daemonhood, and no human in the galaxy controlled the hosts of the Ruinous Mark as he did. At the moment, however, little of that mattered, however.
For at that moment, Abaddon the Despoiler, First Captain of the Black Legion, was getting his shit wrecked by a monster. “DESTROY THAT THING!” he screamed at the Black Legionnaires surrounding him. Several opened up on the four-legged monstrosity, and sheets of bolts, demonic fireballs, and even a few rockets poured at its flanks. As they approached its sides, the missiles seemed to freeze in midair. The demonic fire bounced off its hide, if they reached it at all, with many slamming into the frozen bolts and detonating them. Abaddon roared with hatred and frustration. “I’LL KILL THE BLOODY THING MYSELF!” He flourished the Talon of Horus, firing its macro-storm Bolter as he charged. The Sword of Drach’nyen gleamed in his other hand as he sprinted at the beast, with all the strength his ancient artificer armor could lend him.
Abruptly, the monster pivoted its massive body to face him, staring down at the Warmaster with beady, purple eyes. Abaddon leaped at the creature, screaming his defiance.
The monster reached one huge leg up and almost casually slapped the flying Marine aside. He slammed into the ranks of his own troops, bowling them down like flower stems in a tornado. Dazed, Abaddon scrambled for his sword, and his hand closed around the grip. He rolled to his feet and hefted the blade high, with both hands clenched tight. Before he could charge at the thing anew, however, it reared back on two legs and roared. “WHAT THE FLYING BUGGERANCE IS THIS?”
Abaddon nearly dropped his daemonsword in shock. “W…what?”
“YOU HEARD ME, YOU DISGUSTING TRAITOR. HOW DARE YOU FOLLOW MY FAVORED SON INTO DAMNATION?”
Abaddon shook his head. “You’ll not fool me, daemon! I know you to be a beast of the warp, trying to usurp me! I shall be the one to lead the Host of the Taint to Terra! I’ll carve your eyes from your skull!” He charged forward, as fast as his legs could take him.
“YOU’LL DO NO SUCH THING, YOU PISSANT FAILURE,” the monstrosity roared, and slammed its forelegs into the ground. 130 tons of muscle and bone crashed into the ground, and Abaddon stumbled to a halt, mere meters from the colossal beast. It swept its head down to ground level and tossed the power-armored Chaos Champion aside like a ragdoll.
“YOU SIT DOWN WHILE YOUR BETTERS ARE SPEAKING, ABADDON,” it roared. Abaddon crashed into the ground with a sound like a krak grenade going off in a piano store. “I’VE NO INTEREST IN YOUR WEAKNESS. BUT IF YOU’RE SO SURE YOU WANT TO HOLD MY ATTENTION…” it jumped forward, clear over the crumbling HQ building, and landed with its massive feet together, square on Abaddon’s shoulders. Abaddon screamed in sudden, terrorized agony as his limbs tore from their sockets with a sickening CRUNCH.
The huge creature took a few steps backward, scraping Abaddon’s arms off on the rockcrete. “DO YOU SEE NOW YOUR FOLLY? YOU TURNED FROM MY PATH, AND FOLLOWED HORUS INTO FAILURE. AND NOW, YOU HAVE NO ARMS TO LIFT IN DEFIANCE OF MY WILL.”
Sergeant Lustig stared at the plateau before him with unconcealed confusion. It might have been embarrassing if anyone could have seen him, but he was secured under his ghillie blanket well enough. A distant nephew of the Captain Lustig who had served under the near-mythical Ciaphas Cain, he had been raised with his uncle’s stories about the mad things they had done in the Emperor’s service, like confronting a daemonette of Slaanesh with nothing but lasrifles, or running a Brood Lord over with a Salamander. Nothing his uncle had ever told him, however, prepared him for this.
A creature, so huge it could have passed for a Titan if it were chrome-coated and bipedal, was jumping around on a group of Chaos Marines in the valley below. A few cultists were scrambling to escape it, but the Marines themselves seemed to be either transfixed at the sight of it, bleeding to death where the monster had crushed them, or carrying one of their fellows with the silliest-looking topknot Lustig had ever seen off to a waiting Rhino. The creature was easily shrugging off the few pitiful shots that were aimed at it, and Lustig had to remind himself that he was looking at anti-tank missiles.
The monster finished off the few Marines and cultists that were left quickly enough, and stared at the departing Rhino as if contemplating chasing it. It seemed to decide against it, and swept its malevolent gaze across the landscape, pausing for a moment on the spot where Lustig had noticed a Nurglite daemon watching the carnage. The daemon waved at the huge beast and wandered off, and the colossal creature continued to sweep the valley.
The vast creature’s gaze fell upon Lustig’s position, and Lustig opened his mouth in a silent gasp of terror. The creature seemed to grin from its bizarre, many-fanged mouth, and threw itself forward into a running lope that devoured the distance between them as fast as it had devoured the Chaos cultist that had tried to jump on it, moments after it had jumped on the topknot marine’s shoulders. Lustig screamed in pure, gut-wrenching horror, throwing off his ghillie blanket and sprinting for the monocycle he had left at the base of the hill behind him.
The thunderous sound of gigantic feet behind him informed him that he wasn’t going to make it. The vast creature leaped over the hill and landed mere inches behind the luckless Sergeant, who was launched through the air by the impact, and tumbled to the grass, knocking the wind right out of him. He rolled to his back and gasped for air as the horrible beast leaned over him, not even winded. It opened its mouth with a blast of foul air, and the part of Lustig that wasn’t scrambled by the landing resigned himself to his imminent digestion.
“DO NOT RUN FROM ME, MORTAL.” Lustig blinked, his panicked mind wondering if the Munitorum had dispatched a sanctionite to rescue him. Certainly the voice echoed in his mind as well as his ears. “YOU HAVE THE HONOR OF WITNESSING MY FIRST BATTLE ACTION IN ELEVEN THOUSAND YEARS. STOP LOOKING LIKE A FISH.”
Lustig could only gape. “What? Are…aren’t you a daemon?”
“WHAT?” the creature roared. Lustig clapped his hands to his ears in pain. “ME? A DAEMON? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I’M CLEARLY THE EMPEROR OF ALL…OH.” The thing looked down at its body in bemusement. “I GUESS I CAN’T BLAME YOU FOR THAT, HUH?” The thing took a few steps back. “GET UP.”
Lustig scrambled to his feet, his legs understandably wobbly. The creature continued. “I HADN’T REALIZED I WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS FOREVER. THIS WILL MAKE THE JOB A BIT HARDER, WON’T IT?”
I’m consorting with a daemon, Lustig told himself, giddy with fear still. “What do you mean?” he asked aloud, waiting for sanity to reassert itself. It didn’t.
“WELL, FIRST THINGS FIRST, I’M GOING TO GO TELL THAT CREW-CUT WALKING RECRUITMENT POSTER WHO CALLS HIMSELF ROBOUTE GUILLIMAN TO MAN THE FUCK UP AND GROW HIS NECK BACK. I SURVIVED NINE THOUSAND YEARS WITHOUT RUNNING WATER, HE CAN REGROW HIS JUGULAR. HONESTLY.”
There really didn’t seem to be too much to say, Lustig thought, so he kept silent. He just stared at the creature, and eventually it spoke again to break up the awkward silence. “TELL CREED…I LIKE WHAT HE’S DONE WITH THE PLACE.” Then, with a crack of displaced air that nearly sucked Lustig back off his feet, the thing vanished in a purple cloud of mist.
Lustig collapsed again, staring at the rapidly dissipating cloud as if it would spit his wits back out. Well, he thought to himself, at least I can finally one-up my uncle’s stories.
Continued in The Tales of the Emperasque: Part Two.