And one final W.I.P - World Eater. The first 40K story I ever wrote, when I was around fifteen/sixteen?:
Beta title: ++World Eater++
Chapter I: With Strength We Burn.
'Of all the Space Marine Legions created by the Emperor to reconquer the galaxy during the Great Crusade, none were more feared than the World Eaters. At the forefront of the bloodiest assaults and most vicious battles, the name of World Eaters became a byword for bloodshed and terror on a horrifying scale.'
"We are not upstart Black Legionnaires, nor cowardly Iron Warriors. We are not the foolishness Thousand Sons to an accursed father; neither are we the unfeeling Death Guard, nor the proud and vain Emperor's Children. We are warriors of Angron, the Red Angel: Where we strike worlds fall, where there is but a whisper of our name empires are rendered asunder. We are the Eaters of Worlds! And we will know no fear! Only victory and conquest and in the death throes of our foes will we know true glory!
So take up your chainaxes and your bolters with a proud heart!"
The warrior paced up and down the dank decking of the Strike Cruiser's launch bay, violent intention in every booming footfall. The rusted iron decking groaning beneath his immense bulk and his deep crimson armour glinting dully in the cavernous room, lit only by starlight faintly trickling in through the viewing ports dotted around the launch bay. There were over two hundred World Eaters assembled in the bay, it's ceiling now obscured by fathomless darkness, which had once been the beating heart of the Emperor's Great Crusade: Docked stormbirds, drop pods ready for deployment, Astartes marching rank and file ready for deployment. Where oaths of moment were sworn, and promises of feasts of victory were here. The essence of the Crusade and of Astartes Brotherhood. It was now the polar opposite; Daemons lurked in the dark, forgotten corners of the massive industrial room. It stank of blood. Achilles glanced at the warriors assembled before him; some were old comrades and others he barely knew: All were potential enemies when the blood was up. Achilles wore his battered helm, showing he was prepared for the drop and although his eyes were obscured by the visor of his ancient, barely recognisable MK.IV armour. Every warrior felt naked beneath his gaze, as though he possessed some kind of preternatural cunning, which was more profound than his lust for slaughter. He thumbed the activation switch on his chain-axe and continued his roaring oratory.
"For today, we will cut deep into the heart of the feral Ork! Let this conquest be known for centuries to come!"
The World Eaters around him, submerged in the half-light of distant stars began to roar in confirmation of Achilles’ promise. Over two hundred butchers, every one having killed countless civilians, warriors and xenos alike. It mattered not from where blood was shed; all that mattered was that it flowed.
"Prepare to embark the dreadclaws!" Achilles called over the deep booming of the power armoured footfalls. As the warrior turned and ascended to take his place in a dreadclaw assault pod, he hesitated...
... It began with a dull thudding sound, intense tremors picked up by the auto-senses of his power armour. Bolter rounds whizzed past his visor, flames scorched his armour and screams pierced his ears. Death was all around him and he was in the thick of it, an effigy of war. Chainaxe roaring, bolt pistol bellowing and the World Eater was laughing...
... The warrior could see blackened ash, scorching the sky were distant tongues of flame pluming up from vast exhaust vats the size of an Astartes battle barge. He could pick out skeletal birds of prey circling him, vultures waiting a moment of weakness so as to strike at his naked form. He was Naked. The warrior looked down and realised his blue and white armour had been torn from his body, leaving his skin charred and broken. Covered in blood, the warrior was a terrible sight to behold and the vultures kept their distance.
The warrior could taste the acrid stink in the air, so thick it obscured the burning sphere of gas light years from the barren world. What world was he on? He didn’t know... Or he couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter now.
As the giant took his first step forward on the red soil a new smell penetrated his senses. It was Death. There had recently been a battle here, but where were the corpses? The ammunition rounds, craters from high impact shells?
The searing heat lightly cooked the skin of his feet as he slowly trudged towards the exhaust vats, waves of thick, enthralling heat dancing on the currents of air intoxicating his vision. It was his vision. Who was he? How had he come to reside on this planet and to what end?
Several hours had past, it seemed like an age of war had perpetrated this planet. The life Eater virus had spared this planet the bane of life; hundreds of skirmishes had left its lands scorched and acrid. Millions had laid down their lives in the defence of this world, but who had won? It seemed to the warrior that there had been no victor; the last action of a conquered foe had been a scorched earth policy in the past. Had such an event occurred here?
The sheer monolithic stature of the exhaust vats became clear as the warrior was but a few hundred meters away, the toxic smoke should surely have killed off the cells in his lungs by now... The heat seared the flesh from his bones. A human would have long met his end on this inhospitable rock.
The warrior paused. “Human...” his voice was little more than a phantom whisper on the scorching wind... And the warrior continued. He could see spent ammunition cartridges now, he could see bones and tattered walls; bunkers and an insignia... It seemed familiar to him, but what was it? An ember remained of the civilisation that had once called this world home. An Aquilla, a double headed Eagle. He could recall something, a long war fought for this symbol. This symbol could have been an ideal of a great warrior, perhaps a past king who had ruled over this planet.
It didn’t matter now.
Days had past the warrior by and the world always seemed to be bathed in the glow of the distant star, trembling echoes on the wind spoke of life but the inhospitable ecosystem revealed the lies behind the whisper. The warrior had ascended a ladder on the side of the first vat, it had taken days but he had made the climb. Impossibly, the summit of the vat was constructed of a smooth substance like marble and no trace of the origin of the smoke could be seen. Could it be another ploy to fool the warrior, like the whispers on the wind or the vultures in the sky?
It didn’t matter now; he was too close to his goal to fail.
The warrior could pick out a shape, submerged in the murky fog: A chair or, no, it was a throne. A golden throne so vast it could only be the seat of power on this planet, or what was left of it. Perhaps these vats were not a form of industrial production, but the remains of a palace, a fortress. The warrior’s strength was failing, but he was too close now to fall. His salvation lay perched on the throne that much was clear to him. The warrior’s eyes blurred and his footfalls were treacherous, he fell. A titan groaning, a giant falling and a sun god lay watching.
He could now clearly see the sun, through bleared vision, and the irony was not lost on the warrior. He could make out a shape, etched in the fires of the vast gas giant. He could see a forked mouth, engulfing an agricultural world, rich in greenery and ocean. The symbol was more than that; it was an ideology that he was all too familiar with. But it didn’t matter now.
He clawed his way forward, for he could only crawl as his legs were not there. Had he possessed legs? He couldn’t remember, nor could he recall where he was. The warrior only knew where he was going. He reached the throne and what he saw ripped him to the core.
A blood tattered banner lay over a skeletal god, a banner bearing an eight times anointed star, bearing its fags and feasting upon a world. Feasting upon a world... The star was gorging itself on the planet, eating it. It was an eater of worlds, souls and the hearts of men. It was a symbol of shattered brotherhood and a Legion torn apart from within. It was the World Eaters Legion. It was a symbol of chaos.
The warrior wept, for he knew what was beneath this banner. He wept bloody tears for he knew his part in it, of the slaughter he had reaped in the name of dark gods laughing as they whispered honeyed lies and cut into his soul with poisonous fangs born out of a ravenous all consuming hunger. He extended a claw to pull the banner from the god, to see him beneath the flag. A sharp tear that pierced all of the industrial sound around him, even the “vat” went quiet. The warrior saw his resplendent golden armour, what remained of his dark hair and saw his penetrating dark eyes, forever watchful, all knowing and benevolent. But life had been torn from them by another god. As the warrior wept, he looked up and saw Tens of thousands of giants like him, arranged in rank and file bearing banners of deepest evil, symbols of power and corruption. They were wearing red armour, with the all devouring symbol. They were World Eaters. The warrior could not halt his tears; they were cutting into his skin. Leaving his face withered as the salt bored into his wounds. He was a War Hound no more, now he was a World Eater.
He slowly looked back at the throne. It had changed, from golden splendour to a mountain of bones and skulls. The throne had become a twisted parody of majesty, it was now brass. It emanated hate, a lust for killing. Atop the throne stoop a Bloody God. His head was shaven and his fangs were barred. His armour was twisted and molten from an age of constant warfare and slaughter: it was a deep, dry blood red. It was no upstanding philosopher; it was no cowardly spy, no Phoenician nor an honourable wolf. It was a gladiator and a conqueror. It was Angron.
Howling chants grew: the stamping of iron boots and the roar of chainxes and God bore down upon him, a silent scream.
“Awaken, World Eater.”
Gorshin awoke to the sound of thunderous artillery and the sights and smell of charnel slaughter. He had been in the thick of the bloodshed, raking his chainaxe across flesh and bone, tearing out the hearts from the weakling humans that dared oppose Lord Zhufor's war band. Violent ringing pounded throughout Gorshin's skull and his vision swam, while his anger flared. Gorshin's squad had been caught in the blast and he could see three warriors pick themselves up, while another four lay in ruin; in pieces around the large blast crater. More so than this, lay over eighty Imperial lapdogs. How cowardly and weak the Imperium had become, that it would sacrifice it's warrior's so needlessly in order to kill a handful of attackers. Gorshin spat, blood and bile sizzling on the scorched mud and, to his surprise, Gorshin saw one of his white fangs swimming amongst the spittle. The blast had wrecked his ancient helmet, the metal had flared and buckled around the centre of his Iron helm framing his face with scorched and twisted iron. Gorshin ripped it from his head and cast it aside. It was useless now and he could easily kill on another battlefield and loot the dead. Pushing himself to his feet, he staggered and blinked the swirling maelstrom his vision had become, away. He signalled to his surviving warriors, who nodded that they could continue the fight. Only during this pause in the battle could Gorshin survey the battlefield and get a bearing on his surroundings.
The sky was a sickly crimson colour, mixed with the black of booming ash thrown up from panoply of orbital lance strikes and burning wrecks and scorched bodies. A towering Imperial bastion stretched for miles from north east, to south west. A vast monolithic defensive wall that the Skulltakers and their World Eater allies had been fighting to breach for well over a day now. Ugly red smudges were smeared across the barren, ashen wasteland outside of the wall with small trading settlements or villages in ruins. Vast craters, collected acidic rain and blackened blood and the bodies of the fallen warriors; men, women, children, Astartes and Guardsmen lay littered across the grown while nuclear fallout blackened the sunlight. It was a grim sight, but the world was cut off and Zhufor's war band had the Imperial city surrounded: it wouldn't be long now.
It had been this way for several thousand years though, to Gorshin, it had seemed like only six hundred years since the defeat of Horus. In that time, Gorshin had followed Lord Zhufor from the heart of the Eye of Terror and into the thick of fighting all across the Cadian Gate. He had fought alongside his comrades in the Black Legion and even amongst the Word Bearers and Iron Warriors. Ever since the Battle of Skalathrax against the hated and decadent Emperor's Children, the World Eaters had fractured and split into war bands when Kharn, now known as Kharn the Betrayer, had taken a flamer and burned down the shelters of his comrades as frozen night took hold. So strong was Kharn's devotion to Khorne, the exalted Lord of skulls, that it stoked him to see such cowardice amongst his brothers, hiding when the fight should be taken to Fulgrim's decadent fops. Gorshin had fought alongside Kharn several times, each time he knew that he was lucky to have left the battlefield with his life as Kharn was known to have turned upon his allies after all enemies had been slain, but to see such an avatar of slaughter was dumbfounding, even to Gorshin, he had not seen such slaughter since the days of the Great Crusade when the Primarch Angron had lead his warriors to war against the hated enemies of the fledging Imperium; how foolish it seemed now, to Gorshin.
Brushing aside such ancient thoughts, Gorshin set about navigating his way out of the blasted crater. His surviving warriors, all World Eaters, were already slumped within a wrecked bunker, just on the lip of the impact crater.
"Report." growled Gorshin; it was not a question but a statement.
"Lord Zhufor's Devourer squads have broken through a phalanx of Imperial defences northwest of here. We received word through the vox channel that all surviving Skulltakers are to converge on his position and assist with the break through. The cowards of the Machine Cult are bringing their mindless Skitarii to bear in support of the Defence Force." delivered Chairne through thick, bared fangs.
"And? What else have you to say?" Gorshin was becoming impatient.
Chairne hesitated, for he knew that it was times like these that Gorshin could become unpredictable. When the lives of his quarry were taken from him in the very crucible of battle.
"We were unsure of your fate commander, we saw you thrashing in your comatose state..." Chairne trailed off, suddenly seeing his folly. But Brother Bane continued his voice thick and guttural.
"... You made mention of ancient battles, such as the siege of the false Emperor's palace on Terra."
Gorshin bared his fangs and growled, before spinning on his heel and exiting the bunker through a neatly cut blast-hole in the wall. Chairne and Bane shared uneasy glances, before they too followed Gorshin out. In the distance, to the North West, the sound of bolter fire, the cough of artillery and the screaming of chainswords could be heard. As Gorshin glanced back to his subordinates, something caught his eye. To the east, sat several Artillery guns previously shrouded by smoke flares but the wind had picked up and the guns were swivelling to the north west, to fire on Lord Zhufor and the Skulltakers.
"Chairne, Bane. Imperial Artillery, to the east." Gorshin's thickly accented voice cut through the cries and chants that could be heard through the background chatter of the vox network.
"Affirmative." They barked in unison.
"Gather the rest of the squad"
Thick ropes of smoke snaked through the rent open carcasses of torn Chimeras. Buckled, rusted metal protruding in jagged tongues scrapping in defiance against the toppled towers of forward observation post. Beyond that, corpses and small sandbag emplacements dotted the rolling hill, just before the makeshift artillery camp. Gorshin and the remnants of his squad slithered through the ruins; so far, undetected.
This will be fun; I'll enjoy this, thought Gorshin. Abandoning the use of his vox, lest the Imperials intercept whatever commands he may have issued, giving away his position, he had reverted to combat gestures and hand signals. Gorhsin held up his fist, signalling his brethren to stop. Outstretched, he moved his arm in an encompassing sweep - three metre spread, flank. Bane moved to his right and Chairne, to his left. Delfrack remained behind him.
Gorshin could make out three men standing in a triangular shape, casually talking and one was smoking a cigarette; it's slim weave of smoke slipping effortlessly up, snaking around the large barrel of the Earth shaker cannon. Two other men were hunched down beyond a dotted, small wall - their auto guns at the ready. The rest of the squad were obscured by the Earth shaker, or were down in basement of the ruined home that the position occupied.
Spitting, Gorshin signalled his squad to advance. It would be a slaughter.
Reading back over these relics, there is quite *a lot* to work on and alter/improve. I remember writing what I thought would be cool, not so much good. So, what do you think?