Originally published with the 2014 Feast of Blades Warhammer Tournament Mission Packs
The Tech-Priests found, when casting the Augurys, that it was a speck that carried the Demon-Virus into the Manufactorum. A drudge. A nothing-man with a number for a name.
Father Darius had been the one to discover it first. Or rather (thought Brother Lucius) it had been the Father who was the first to alert the Tech-Priests to the corruption, as the Virus coursed through him and caused blood to pour from the root of every implant on the Father’s body.
As he crouched behind the ramshackle barricade listening to the approaching Abominations, Brother Lucius cursed the masses. The Nameless Many. The Insignificants. He cursed each stinking, rotted last one of them, and wished for a typhoon to wash their putrid floating shantytowns from the face of this planet.
The footsteps of the Abominations rang through the hallway in a constant clatter. If the Omnissiah was watching, the monstrosities would simply walk past.
Lucius uttered a prayer, and leaned out into the corridor.
A sharp CLANG cut the air—the screech of tearing metal overwhelmed his audio, shoving feedback through his head like a spike. A gash appeared in the pipe above his head, pouring out a thick yellow steam.
Three. There were three of them.
Lucius replayed the vid-feed of the darkened hallway to himself as he scrambled backwards, watching again as the black metal monsters pulled themselves through the corridor on twitching metal legs.
Four of us, three of them, he thought.
He looked to the other priests huddled behind the barricade. Four of us, he thought, but as he looked he knew it was much less than that. Only he and Brother Samuel were whole and unharmed—Brother Marcus was ashen-faced and shaking, nursing the smoking stump of a mechandendrite. Julian was only an Initiate, still mostly meat, only a single implant on his young frame.
Lucius looked at each of them, and silently said another prayer.
“There are only three of them in the corridor,” he said to the others. “If we can get past them it is only five minutes to the Bulwark. To safety. They may be fearsome, but surely as Darkness falls to Light will they crumble beneath the… beneath our…”
Something had changed. The sound of metal legs had ceased. Silence filled the corridor.
“YOU ARE IMPERFECT,” screeched a horrible, metal voice.
“Deus Mechanicus,” whispered the Initiate Julian, his eyes huge and white.
“YOU ARE WEAK, DYING THINGS. CURSED WITH PUTRESENCE. DOOMED TO MORTALITY.”
The voice sounded like a finger in a cooling fan, cruelly mechanical and horribly meaty. Its words filled the air like a cloud of burning rubber.
Julian whimpered and made the sign of the Eagle with shaking hands. Brother Samuel gripped his boltgun and looked at Lucius.
“GIVE IN TO US. COMPLETE YOUR CONVERSION. BECOME WHOLE.”
Lucius held up three shining metal fingers.
The Tech-Priests sprang from their cover shouting praises to the Omnissiah. Lucius felt a jolt as each bolt leapt from his gun and lit the Abominations in a storm of explosions.
To the right of Lucius, the beast shrieked. It reared up, all twisted spikes and gaping black maw. He watched as fangs grew from its dripping, hissing mouth. Then, in a row, each fang shot out like a missile in a spray of hydraulic fluid. Four fangs shredded the crate behind Lucius, missing him by inches. The fifth and sixth found their mark deep in the chest of Brother Marcus.
In the corner of his eye, Lucius saw Marcus, gurgling, fall backwards into the Initiate. Fluids sprayed the young man, blinding him.
Julian screamed. The gun in his flailing hand went wild, sending bolt after bolt crashing down the corridor. A shell caught the left-hand beast in its shoulder with a heavy THUD, sending a cloud of shards into the hallway beyond.
The Abomination reeled back, its limbs grabbing at the air. It began to howl a low, grating note, rising in pitch until it became a shriek that split the air.
“Move, you idiot!” shouted Brother Samuel. Julian stood stock still, still firing the empty gun into the hallway.
The monster charged. Rivets popped beneath the thing’s feet as they pounded down the hallway in an incessant, irresistible rhythm of claws. Closer it came to Julian. Closer. Pulling itself, digging its spikes into the floor, into the walls.
“Move, damn you!”
Brother Samuel dropped his gun and dove, knocking the Initiate clear. Immediately the Abomination was upon him, sinking twisted metal spikes deep into his flesh, tearing mechandendrites from his body like weeds.
With is one free arm, Samuel primed a grenade and shoved it deep inside the monster’s mouth. His voice rang out clear: “For the Omnissiah—”
A wave of sound and heat.
Brother Lucius opened his eyes and tried to breathe, but could not. He coughed. An enourmous weight pressed itself against his chest. He was on his back, somehow pinned beneath the bulk of the first Abomination. Fortunately, it seemed to have been gutted by shrapnel from the second.
Revulsion shot through his gut as the monster that covered him gave a shuddering heave and scrambled its hooked legs in a final convulsion, spraying the last of its hydraulic fluid across the Tech-Priest.
“Are they dead?” asked Julian, after a moment of silence.
His voice buzzed loosely in Brother Lucius’s audio. The blast must have damaged the input, he thought. If he made it to the Bulwark—if he made it to safety alive and intact—Lucius promised himself a full ritual upkeep and cleansing. And a generous offering to the Omnissiah.
“Brother Lucius? Are you all right?”
Julian cowered at the other side of the scorched corridor, shielded from the blast by the pulverized remains of Brother Marcus. Two of the Brother’s limbs had been completely severed and lay some distance away on the edge of the blackened circle that scarred the hallway.
The center of the hallway, once filled with Brother Samuel and the Abomination, had been swept clean in the blast. Pieces of the Abomination had embedded themselves in the walls and ceiling. Of Brother Samuel, there was no sign.
Brother Lucius nodded to the Initiate and shoved the twisted husk of the monster away. He stood and listened to the quiet chime of cooling metal. All else was silence. Smoking, empty silence.
Something was wrong.
Lucius surveyed the destruction, looking grimly at the Initiate, at the body of the Tech-Priest at his feet. At the charred ring of the grenade’s explosion, still glowing faintly as the hallway cooled. At the Abomination that lay broken at his feet, and the pieces of the other embedded in it.
He stared at the husk.
There had been three of them.
Brother Lucius looked to the Initiate to warn him, to scream at him, and saw the Initiate’s eyes grow huge and bright with fear.
Julian was staring above him, behind him, at the vent in the wall.
A cold chill poured through Brother Lucius. He began to pray, silently.