This is the unofficial story of Reserve Imperial Guardsman Kye Cromp. When the defenders of the massive warship Honorable Action die to the boarding swarms of monsters, Kye’s journey to escape will bring him face-to-face with horror.
The Ninth Hour
No bodies, alien or human. Only lots and lots of blood. Everywhere. Soaking into the rugs, painting the enameled woodwork, everywhere. Thankfully, not enough macabre horror exists to cover the exit placard.
Kye, regardless of the wailing alarms, checks each corner, inches forward only a step at a time.
He turns his head. Did… Did something come out of the speakers? It likely was his gut talking. There wasn’t enough time. Gambling on the chance, Kye dashes for the door.
In to the next hall are symbols showing what Kye can recognize as escape pods. Or something of the sort. There’s less blood here, but more bodies.
A pack of xenos beasts charge at him from the far end of the corridor. Kye looks at his empty hands and turns them into fists. It wasn’t fair! Not fair! This close and they had to be here! Kye yells, hobbling towards the bounding monsters as best he can. They come. He goes. The gravity gives way again.
He flies forward, his feet skipping over the ground. Over him go the beasts which snarl and snap their maws at him. Kye tries to get his balance only to send him end over end through the open hatch.
Grandeur gives way to polished fineness and the lack of gravity gives way to weight. Kye is close enough to the deck he merely loses breath at his fall. The door he had floated through slams shut under gravity’s influence. Kye feels he can only groan. Turning his head, there lies his salvation. An escape pod.
Shakily getting up and pulling with unsteady hands, Kye hauls through the round portal of the pod. Pushing off the cushions, the climb through the various compartments leads him up into the flight chair. Once the buckle is in place, hatch sealed, Kye taps buttons the monitors tell him to tap by their lit sigils. Light music begins to play but he cuts that nonsense off immediately. The stellar boat rocks under the power of some unseen force, a low rumble vibrating through the frame.
At a button click, rockets fire the pod like a missile into the void. Pressure flattens Kye into his seat, broken teeth gritting tight. He spies leech-like space attackers enveloping the front of Honorable Action. Debris hits the escape craft, knocking him around. Boosters stop the spinning. His former home’s metal skin seething with xeno bodies comes into view. Great gouts of flame and depressurizing mist strike out of canyons yawning in the sides of the vessel at nothingness. Explosions engulf kilometers of the warship.
Despite it all, “I… I’m free. I’m alive! Alive, Emperor be praised!” Kye could have been that. He could have been another corpse jettisoned out into the void but he’s free. Away from all the war, all the horror.
Over the desecrated starship Kye witnesses the ruin of the fleet once so prideful. Hulls burn to black, their reactors bleeding into the void. Others list empty, some bearing parasites nibbling on their parts. A minor, pitiful few continue to strike out with lasers, plasma, and cannon shot far, far away from Honorable Action. Their luminous silhouettes dim under the shadow cast by the torrent of alien flies buzzing after them in the dark.
Engine temperature climbs on the monitor before him. “Blast it,” he says. “Shutoff! Shutoff!” Kye grabs a hefty red handle, giving it a yank. “Shutoff…”
Away the boat drifts, a fever taking its pilot. Kye dares not start the emergency beacon. There’s nothing outside but death. Who knows what waits in the dark. Instead, he tries to disconnect as many systems as the little flight terminal will show him. He pleads that the machine spirit grant him a massive drop in temperature. Kye refuses to be found after all this for something as foolish as keeping the lights on.
The pod has heard his prayers when frost creeps to cover the portholes. Kye’s teeth chatter, cutting the puffs of his breath into bits. He picks at the tatters of the uniform that’s no more than rags. There could be a blanket in the hold. The restraints are slick under his numb fingers. Kye stops fiddling with his buckle when a glow leers through the icy panes. Wiping a bit of the freeze away with his sleeve, he stares down on a planet below. Likely the world Honorable Action was supposed to go to, a final destination. They are here. The globe is burning. A living cloud that blocks the stars bears down on it, spreading along snaking tendrils as if a drop of purple ink had been dropped in water, filling, reaching, contaminating every part of the world completely. Spontaneous storm fronts flash, overtaking the sunward edge of pristine natural green, yet to be turned to a blighting alien hue.
“Lost, it’s all lost. The Emperor help them. Help me!” Kye’s ode makes him feel a bit better. He almost feels warm for a moment.
To block the reminder of humanity’s struggles below and above, he pulls the window barrier down. The cold comes in anyway. The pod creaks and ticks, the cabin sighing while the heat escapes. Kye begins to wonder if the lack of temperature is making him delusional. There’s the warmth again.
“What might -?” His exclamation joins another puff of air, one smelling sickly sweet.
Kye’s heart gets caught in his throat. His chest muscles seize. More vapor swirls over his shoulders. He opens his shaking mouth in unimaginable terror. No cry utters. In front of him, pinpoints of shine move out from his own frozen reflection in the dark window. Warm again. And it stays warm, a hotness irradiating through the chair that traps him. His entire focus locks on the glinting images before him. Extraordinary eyes. Hot, gooey lumps probe their ways over Kye’s collar, along his neck, wrapping his forehead. Emperor, he should run. Go. Oh Throne, where? He chokes a whimper passed cold cheeks and burning tears down his face. It doesn’t matter anymore. He is going to die there. To this thing. Its eyes. As hot exhalation beads moisture on the back of his spine, Kye becomes calm. He knows he shouldn’t be calm. The strange face that looks back through the reflection is almost soothing. Is soothing. Kye shouldn’t be anything but calm. But the human wonders who should be calm. It can’t be anything more than this, the feeling of being all right. He’s not been this content since … there is no other time. It has always been this content. Happy. The thing in its mind will bring it back home, whole in the family. No need for worry, wonder. It’s perfect. Perfect.
An unspeakable something consumes its biological freedom, whatever that might have been. The human relaxes to rest in the warm embrace of a will not its own, drifting into a final oblivion of one among many.
This unofficial work is published under the Intellectual Property Policy of Games Workshop Limited: https://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Intellectual-Property-Policy