Thursday, 26 May 2011

World Eaters, a short story series

Last year, the wonderful Great Crusade forum ran a short story competition. Anyone who entered had to compose a short, 1000 word story about an event taking place either during the Great Crusade or Horus Heresy era. Furthermore, the contest was to be judged by Black Library author Aaron Dembski Bowden himself! Unsurprisingly, the contest received a huge number of entries, the entirety of which are accessible through the link below (if you are a fan of Pre-Heresy, and are not already a member of the website, I urge you to go and sign up straight away!)

A number of the stories featured the World Eaters. As I am attempting to make this blog a resource for Pre-Heresy World Eater hobbyists and collectors, and because few things are as inspiring as a well-written piece of fiction, over the coming weeks with the permission of their authors I will be posting those stories again here.

So without further ado, here is the first story. It is called 'Rage Unknown' and is written by Joshua Bullock (aka Ahriman from the TGC forum). It focuses on a slice of the action during the infamous final battles upon the surface of Istvaan III, the sequence written about in the early salvo of Horus Heresy books, whereby the Traitor legions were attempting to exercise their loyalist elements.

Rage Unknown

By Joshua Bullock

ANGER FILLED HIS body. Anger whose source was unknown to him, anger the likes of which he had never quite felt before, even with the psycho-stimulative implants in the base of his skull. The air smelled of blood and his armour was caked in it. He smiled to himself as he stared down at the dull redness that covered his body, breathing in its coppery tang and focusing on the rage that filled his head.
The ruins of Istvaan III’s Precentor Palace lay all around him, reminiscent of dying men’s fingers clawing at the sky. The air was thick with dust and anyone but an Adeptus Astartes would have been hard pressed to see more than a few metres.
But there were none but Astartes within the ruined walls of the dead city. Brother fought brother from behind hastily constructed barricades amid the shattered but still hauntingly beautiful architecture, with the frescos of primitive gods still somehow intact following the orbital bombardments and the ongoing ravages of battle.
Warriors from several legions made war upon the planet’s surface: the perfect ranks of the pristine Emperor’s Children stood beside the sea green of the Warmaster’s own sons, while the stoic forces of the Death Guard fought one another within the grimy trench systems outside the ruined city. Kruer stood with his own warriors, the white of their battered armour catching the fading light of the dying world’s sun. The World Eaters were on edge, ready to rip apart anything within their reach. None more so than the primarch Angron, who stood with his favoured warriors, fixated upon the blood congealed upon the teeth of his huge chainaxe. The blood of those whom had fallen from his graces.
Kruer took in none of this. Not the ruins nor the art, not the purple and gold-clad warriors cleaning their weapons, nor the Sons of Horus who seemed content to let the other legions do the work for them. Not even the awe inspiring presence of Angron could disturb him from the all-consuming rage that filled his body. From where this anger had come, the hatred for warriors that just mere hours earlier had been his brethren, he did not know. All he did know was that he liked it.
Oh yes, he was quite certain about that.
A hash on his vox-channel penetrated the haze, and a single command rose through the roaring in his head:


Kruer needed no more encouragement. He barely registered the Emperor’s Children advancing to his right, moving steadily through the devastated buildings covering one another as each squad carried out its function in the great scheme of battle.
The World Eaters followed no such tactics, each squad running loosely together, vaulting fallen masonry and smashing down walls in their haste to close with the enemy. Kruer could now see them, crouched like cowards behind the remains of the broken city: it served only to fuel his burning rage, seeing warriors with whom he had once been proud to serve, stooping to such gutless cowardice.
He sprinted through the rain of bolter shells, paying them no heed. He could see the entrenched warriors clearly, their white and blue armour standing out from the destruction around them. He knew some of them by name, and he knew all of them by blood. And it would fill him with great sense of satisfaction to remove this taint from his legion.

IRATUS KNELT DOWN to reload his boltgun, yanking out the drained sickle magazine before ramming home a fresh clip and raking the slide. He rose again swiftly as others around him knelt to reload their own weapons. The sight was strange to him – this was not how the World Eaters usually fought, taking cover behind barricades and exercising tight bolter drills.
The back of his head throbbed as his psycho-stimulative implants urged him to violence, and it took almost all of his willpower to stay in line with his brothers and not to engage the implants’ feedback loop and launch himself at the traitors heading their way. One thought above all others kept him grounded in the moment: they were World Eaters no more. They were War Hounds once again.
He resumed firing, adding his bolts to the fusillade. A depraved figure emerged from the midst of the rabble, caked in blood and charging with such reckless abandon that he cared not what struck him – masonry, bolt rounds, shrapnel. Even his own comrades, whom he smashed aside in his need to close with Iratus‘s line.
He emptied his rest of his magazine at the bloody figure and those around him, before diving down once more to reload. The warrior to his right fell to the ground clutching his throat, blood running thick and fast before his enhanced physiology could clot the wound. The War Hound to the other side of Iratus fell also, his headless body crashing into the rubble and the armoured helm following an instant later. Desperately Iratus leapt back to his feet, ready to fire, only to be confronted by the viscera streaked face plate of the berserk World Eater on the other side of the barricade.
The roar of his chainaxe seemed to merge with the war cry from the warrior’s helmet vox-emitters, and Iratus fired two rounds into the berserker’s armoured torso before the boltgun was torn from his grip by a downward strike. The World Eater leapt over the barricade, and Iratus drew his combat blade and held it out across his chest. The tempered plasteel was no match for the foe’s axe, but if he was lucky...

RAGE WAS ALL Kruer knew, all that he could see. He didn’t even feel the foe’s blade as it pierced his throat, nor the impact of his chainaxe upon the loyalist dog’s helmet. Darkness overcame him and he smiled behind his visor.
It mattered not from where the blood flowed.

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