A submission for Black Library. They chose not to move forward...
A Murder of Horrors
Main Character Bios Slilth Kilgore; Heavy Weapons Specialist (Havoc), favors firepower and surgical precision; often employs either a missile launcher with krak rounds or a specially modified las cannon, carries sticky bombs and melta-charges; stoic and non-verbal, yet energetic; this support member of this elite chaos kill-team is often found laying waste to heavy defensive lines to clear the way for his maniacal brothers; replete with many markings and festoonments of a Chaos follower; a few distinguishing characteristics are his targeting optic over his right eye that glows amber and the jet black blade he keeps in his offhand; while having replaced a limb or two with mechanical versions, Slilth yet remains more human than most agents of Chaos; supported by much wargear that needs constant power, he can succumb to energy loss if he is overcome by the frenzy of war and does not ration his supplies (the warp has not yet fully merged man and machine); his greatest desire is to one day share in the glory of the warp and join his exalted brethren that become walking weapon batteries, the warp-touched Obliterators
Horrendous Pike; Champion of Chaos; gets his name from the long, wicked pike-like weapon forged from the razor-sharp talon of a beast slain on a distant daemon-world that crackles with warp-energy; alongside that Pike employs an infamous plasma pistol to reduce his opponents to smoldering heaps; he is clad in a twisted version of Astartes Terminator Power Armor and bedecked with skull-tipped spikes on his shoulders; his helm has deep red eyes and is adorned with long ribbed tusks; draped on his shoulders falls the cloak of an ancient xenos foe, scaled, aged, and cracking; cold, cunning, and calculating, his focus is on studying his opponents, striking at weaknesses with vigor, and instilling fear and agony with his attacks in close quarters and cunning leadership on the battlefield; Pike cannot go into battle without his weapons at his side; ruthless, but not arrogant, wicked, but not totally psychotic, and driven, but not completely obsessive; seeking favor of the Ruinous Powers, but not one specifically so that he may profit from all gifts possible to an Exalted Champion of Chaos, maybe one day true daemon-form, he loves the rush battle and hates wasting opportunities or delays
Jeryd the Twisted (Xil); Possessed Chaos Space Marine; recent brush with the Empyrean granted Jeryd the meeting of a daemon-spirit known as Xil; now a host for the brutal and ferocious entity, Jeryd’s armored form became a twisted, corrupted version of itself as flesh and armor fused in an unholy, magnificent union, thus giving way to his name; a large, barbed tentacle of purplish hue replaces his left arm while a massive raking claw sprouted where his right should be, his legs and feet turned to giant hooves, and his head mutated into something looking more like a beast’s quilled head covered in a dozen searching eyes; he can often be seen tasting the aether with his forked tongue and sniffing with his ringed nose for prey; Jeryd still has the ability to communicate, but it is Xil that is doing the communication; often irascible and hot tempered, Xil might destroy a lander because he could not track his prey or maybe toss a war bike because an opponent escaped; his favorite activities are rending flesh, breaking machine spirits, and tasting in the psychic despair as his opponent’s life slips away; he has one great fear and that is fire; collecting souls and machine spirits for the Chaos gods is his aim while disrupting the workings of those who oppose their nefarious machinations
Skulltaker Ulkain; Khornate Chosen Warrior from the legendary Skulltaker Warband; a frightening sight to behold as all aspects of his armor have been reforged with menacing, grimacing daemonic faces of brass and warp-influenced spikes while his helm is topped with 3 bone colored horns; Ulkain is a skilled fighter in close combat and his blood-frenzy makes him a sight to behold, tearing through ranks of enemies using his preferred weapons of twin Chain Axes, and sometimes, if need be, his bear hands; he is after skulls for the Skull Throne, and has joined this team at the promise and aspect of adding more to his collection; his thirst for blood can sometimes turn himself towards his allies or his own fallen; maniacal while under the frenzy and recklessly effective, he is both an asset and a liability; Ulkain can be seen draping skulls across his back on spiked chains and in nets; while a murderous force, he is often known for his gallows humor and insane gibbering while under the lust for blood; his strivings is for acknowledgement by, favor of, and closeness to the Blood God through the taking of skulls and spilling of, well, blood
Fleetchious Hex; Chaos Raptor; a nightmare image for normal humans on the battlefield, it looks as if a dark bird of metallic prey is descending upon their ranks; brutally effective at hard hitting sudden strikes, he can advance over terrain with ease and cover great distances with his jump pack; Hex’s efforts within this team are both personal and strategic as he strives to become a Warp Talon, able to traverse the Warp to further stalk his prey; his weapons remain modest - a bolt pistol and chainsword - as these have proven deadly efficient time and time again; his primary weapon is an ancient flamer for more effective death-dealing from above; eager, and full of enjoyment of the hunt, he is a sight to see homing in on his target and rendering it lifeless; Fleetchious is younger and early in his timespan as a follower of Chaos, as such is perhaps the most ambitious of the group, which makes him unpredictable and dangerous, while also a wreckless, daring risk taker
Blightface Vimpiter; Chosen Chaos Space Marine dedicated to the pestilent Nurgle; an imposing figure of bloated armor, slime, and rotting flesh; a veteran of many wars in the name of spreading the love of Father Nurgle’s Rot, he has a keen knack for tactics of slowly carving away at enemy defenses and emptying their ammunition as he has a unique tolerance for damage and pain granted at the hand of Nurgle; exposing his grotesque, fleshy face is something he takes pleasure in as an effort to instill fear and to promote the blessings of Nurgle’s Rot; more rotting carcass than armored brute, this putrid hulk of a warrior strides into war at a slow methodical pace, softening defenses using an array of weapons from his old, crusty bolter, noisy Blight Launcher, a plague sword and knife, and a handful of frag, krak, and Blight grenades; reserved and quiet, his comrades may think he is not actually alive until he is forced to move; he often can be seen with a cloud of flies hovering around his sagging entrails from an old wound in his armor’s midsection with a stench that is unbearable; Vimpiter is here as an opportunity to be a vector for the spread of Nurgle’s Favor; disciplined, determined, and unrelenting; gurgling more than talking makes it hard to understand him; others stay clear of him but revel in his stubborn effectiveness on the battlefield
Intro/Teaser Horrendous Pike - Champion of the Brass Raptors Chaos Warband - and his elite team of dark warriors have been crusading for in the name of the Ruinous Powers since they can recall, it seems. They have played important roles in toppling Imperial Rule on planets through raising Heretical Rebellions, securing small outposts of strategic importance with extreme violence and sick villainy, and even serving alongside some of the most legendary of Chaos Lords on battlefields of galaxy-spanning wars. Skulls, souls, and blood have been harvested through their ruthless cunning and nefarious endeavours. Now, somewhere in the Borigian System, they make ready for something they have never done before - a search and rescue mission. Pike and his team begin to realize they were misinformed and come up against something less easily slaughtered than the usual Imperial rabble. The odds are both staggering and unrelenting for the six chosen of Chaos. Can even the sector’s most lethal and cunning kill-team of dark champions stand up to one of the Universe’s greatest threats? Will they succeed or falter and draw the displeasure of their Lords and Gods?
Writing Sample It kept coming. The glowing eyes of the metallic devilry showed an unlikely, knowing menace that even made him pause for moment. He had heard of these, but never himself faced them. Nearby, Jeryd the Twisted lept to the nearest outcropping, shifted his weight to one side, and slung his head back. Between the teeth of his gaping maw a lapping, drooling tongue darted out and hung there. His many eyes closed in uncanny unison while he breathed deep. Slowly, his hulking form swayed side to side. Several lances of green particles seared past his ululating head. One found its mark, just effective on the surface of his armor. If he noticed, Pike did not see him react.
“That building there, one hundred meters down,” Jeryd was still in an apparent trance and spoke through slitted teeth, spittle bubbling out.
“Are we certain?” growled Pike, while aiming his glowing pistol at the approaching mechanical warrior.
Jeryd’s large, warped form detached itself in a flurry from the place he had been an instant earlier. He was visible down the hill making his way toward the imposing structure. He launched several foes into the air with a single claw, removing them from his path. Pike took that as a yes.
Horrendous Pike placed a few shots at the feet of an advancing pack of androids, spraying rock, dirt, and metallic pieces in a swirling plume. Plasma afterglow lit the space in an eerie dancing light, casting skeletal shadows. At the same time, he sprinted after Jeryd, his polearm was levelled in front of him, ready to impale any of the lifeless assailants in his path.
Superheated clouds of flame turned the landscape a bright orange, warming the air around them. Jeryd could be heard hissing in disgust, clawed arm guarding his face. Pike saw him snort and trot off after a moment in another direction. A screeching of a familiar jump pack sounded over their heads. Pike was pleased to see Fleethcious Hex had broken free from his entanglement a few rises behind them. He kept his sprint equal to Jeryds, still trailing, but his sight was fixed on what Hex was doing. He gave out a supportive warcry as he could see the flames fending off an approaching swarm of scarab beetles from the western slope. They needed a clear path, and Hex had given it to them. As he landed, his chainsword was out, cleaving the insectoid robots into pieces while his nimble bolt pistol spat death at those that got too close.
A massive concussive blast sent Pike sprawling to his left. Once he regained his vision, auditory reducers reverberated in his helm working hard to protect his yet human ears from the explosion, he searched the battleground. Somehow, he had missed it. A robotic arachnid carrying some kind of energy lance had come up on his right silently. There it lay in a heap of white hot flame, roiling smoke, and crackling energy. Something akin to a dying breath escaped from what looked like its head. He stood staring at it, even as a Champion of Chaos, he was aware of his own mortality. The thing slowly stopped twitching, bright lines of animating energy fading. He knew that would not last for long.
A shape cast a spiked and hulking shadow behind him and he spun hard, weapons ready. There he saw his savior - Slilth Kilgore in his havoc armor, smoking from having battled his way through the outer rim to the east. He nodded, his optic eye narrowing, then opened again - servos clicking. He made a motion that Pike knew he meant he was advancing forward. Pike quickly followed behind, chains and armor clanging.
From the far rear of their formation came a guttural howl and wild, maniacal laughter. Up on the ridge, backlit and imposing, the figure of the Khornate warrior Skulktaker Ulkair stood in a challenging pose to the expanse below. Pike risked a glance back, and witnessed the majority of the skeletal warriors take notice. They began their advance, but not before Ulkair had dove into them with reckless abandon and swam through the first twenty in a few massive, swinging strokes of his chain axes, rending metal and sending energy bolts dancing across their forms. The horde may not have known how to express or show fear, but Pike swore he noticed a slight pause in their gait. Limbs and bodies were flying in all directions. The sounds of rending metal filled the air as showers of sparks rained over the battlefield.
“The Chaos Gods favor you, brother! It is a good sign!” bellowed Pike.
“Pike, you sorry cur,” shouted Ulkair from under the pile of metal men,”when this is done, you owe me skulls of bone, not these...trinkets! Bone, you hear! Khorne demands BONE SKULLS!”
“Skull’s a skull, Ulkair! Don’t be picky,” Pike retorted, his voice staggered in his hurried pace.
Slowly bringing up the ranks on the outer right end, Pike could hear the methodical report of the Nurgle devotee’s Blight Launcher. At first he wondered what he had hoped to accomplish with a biological agent against androids like these. Then he saw his targets - flesh clad, scythe-handed creatures slithering towards them. He thought he had felt a ripple in the Warp as those wretches appeared.
It might just work.
“If it clings to flesh,” Vimpiter shouted loudly - eagerly - while stomping the skull of a fallen robotic skeleton under his hoofed boot, “then Nurgle shall bless it thusly!” Blightface Vimpiter squeezed the trigger and another round lobbed into their ranks. The explosive force scattered the grotesque forms, but they were still moving. He kept them at bay with more explosive, virulent rounds into the pack of figures with flensing fingers. Once in close to Pike, they both could see the effects taking hold. The adornments and the metallic exoskeletons began melting together, turning to a slurry of flesh and liquifying necrodermis. Soon, they were nothing more than steaming pools of virulent, robotic, and fleshy effluence. Their sloppy remains bubbled and steamed.
“How?” Pike shot back at Vimpiter, shaking an android body loose from his warp-pike.
“A few observations. A few changes to the typical recipe. A new metallic vessel as a vector of contagion. And a little favor from the Grandfather,” Blightface explained through a long, drawn out series of gurgled breaths.
They were all six formed up now at the base of the massive structure that Jeryd had hit on. A sniff and gallop from Jeryd led the team behind the tracking possessed marine on down along the disconcerting architecture of the building’s lower platform. For a time, they moved as quietly as the night, through shadows and cover. Except for Ulkair. Ulkair and his harvested robotic crania rattled incessantly as they moved.
Pike knew they had lost the metal horde, but not for long.
Jeryd had stopped at the edge of the structure.
“Why the delay?” spat Pike.
“Answer me, daemon!”
Jeryd did not.
As he remained motionless, Pike and the others inched forward. Once they had a clear view, they understood what sight could have made a being such as a daemon-possessed warrior freeze in its tracks. Pike wondered why he hadn’t felt it before. After his allegiance to Chaos, he had rarely felt the carry-over emotion from being fully human known as ‘fear’. This was one of those times.
“Pike, what have you brought us into this time? Is that what I think it is?” hissed Fleetchious Hex, his flamer gesticulating.
“Do you hear the voices, too?” added Ulkair, visibly shaking with fervor.
Kilgore knelt down, shook his head, and looked up. Next to him, Vimpiter was keeping an eye on the titanic entity, while apparently searching his wargear for a suitable munition. He could be heard gurgling a curse.
“Indeed,” answered Pike as he pressed his form back against the monolithic blocks of the building. He now noticed his human lungs had quickened their breathing.