Inspired by this thread: NURGLE Hello, friend. Easy there, boy; I won’t kick you. Looks like you’ve been kicked enough in this life. Those are some impressive sores on your back; do you mind if I touch ‘em? See, I’m a collector of sorts. Some men collect trophies, or scars, or other useless trinkets. Me? I collect stories. I take those moments of distilled misery, that sheer human pain and despair, and I remember ‘em. Not to tell - never to tell, not to those who can't understand - but to preserve those moments in all their ragged splendor. I hold moments of dark despair, of dying men praying for their dead as the hull breaches give way. I’ve hoarded some cleaner stories, of suicides and overdoses and dark spots in the bright light. I’ve even kept one that...well, perhaps another time. I suspect you've got quite a story to tell, friend. Your clothes are high-quality beneath the grime, and your frame’s far too filled-out for you to be an underhiver's brat. A merchant’s son, perhaps? Ah ah ah, not with that look on your face. A noble’s son, then, dressed up like a clockwork doll to lead this crumbling world on for another day. Did you really think any of those lies would amount to anything, silly boy? Yet now all the illusions have come crashing down, until all you’re left with is that ridiculous hunk of metal. The Imperial aquila? Hah, I’d sooner fear my own arse than a chunk of gold carved like a bird. The corpse-king’s held no power for ten thousand years, friend, and I don’t see him in this sorry excuse of a sewer down here. Do you see his Angels of Death flying for you on wings of flame? Maybe his holy - hah, 'holy' - Inquisitors will purge the darkness clean? Here's a hint, boy: they aren't coming. There's no God-Emperor. Never was one. There was a man once, who fought powers far beyond his ken, and he lost - a bit like your story, yes? Only thing is, that man’s dead. There’s no fixing death. Aye, and there’s the rub. You don’t know if you want that. You've been so broken down, so beaten and abused by those horrible light-dwellers that you can’t even wish for a proper death! Look at them, healthy and happy and hopeful! Look at those bastards, before the lies are stripped away and they’re face-first in the gutter! Look at yourself, boy - in the end, they’ll all be like us. I’m here to tell you that there’s another way. Those whoresons up there were never fond of you, and there’s no Emperor to save your little soul, but there is someone out there who loves you. There’s a Power who will care for you, who just aches to give you His gifts and to cover you with His love. He’ll keep you and tend you, use your strength to save others, and in time He’ll unite this whole rotten planet in glorious despair. So let me propose a trade, boy: a story, for a story. You tell me your tale, and I’ll tell you mine, and here in this dark I’ll tell you how to live through the night. Deal? ---------------------------------------- "Pain? Pain is good, boy. Pain brings you closer to the Lord of Decay! Did you expect me to coddle you with silks, like those Slaaneshi ingrates? Did you believe that I would rescue you from reality? This sewer, this rot and decay, this is truth. The shining towers of your old home are illusions, mere shadows before the march of time. You thought that your family loved you? You believed that your manservant cared for you? Who do you think cast you into this muck? Go ahead, boy. Cry. Those feeble, illusive ties between mortals cannot sustain reality's decay. Cast away family and friends, for Nurgle's great family welcomes you! Only the Great Corruptor's all-abiding love is permanent; only by supplicating Him and trusting in Him can we be made stronger. Look at this beautiful disease, this glorious contagion! Truly, you are a vessel for His great works! Either rise to endure this, like all true things must endure, or be cast down to be reborn as a Bearer of Nurgle's Rot! What did you "hope" for? Did you plan to abuse His great love to your own ends? Did you scheme to betray me once I had rescued you from this mire? You verge on Tzeentchian heresy, boy! Leave aside your hopes and desires, for such feeble emotions are meaningless next to the power and endurance you shall receive. Look at this incredible incubator, this engine of decay! You see only a humble backed-up sewer, but I see a hive-wide plague in the making! A chance to spread rot to the underclasses, then slowly up and up the spires to cast down these people's false idols and to bring true worship in its place! For you, dear boy, you serve a great role in this plan. I had thought to merely use your body as a vessel for a new Plaguebearer, but the whispers have told me otherwise. Feel your new gifts creeping underneath your skin, changing flesh and bone into power and strength. Did you think that I wallowed in this despair merely out of worship? I am stronger than any Arbites, and as tough as an Angel of Death! Follow me, my boy, and perhaps you shall be too. For you, a member of House Brandt, know the secret pathways to the central spire. I am no Keeper of Secrets; I trouble myself with the lost and destitute, not forbidden knowledge. Yet you can still pass as a lowly mortal, as one not yet blessed by His gifts, and you shall bring this glorious despair to the highest ranks of the corpse-worshippers. Rise, scion of Nurgle. Feel the power given to you by accepting despair, and spread this gift to others. You will receive no welcome outside of others in our great family, yet you shall not need such trifles. Nurgle loves you; that is enough. Now go. ---------------------------------------- MALAL You're probably wondering why I'm about to shoot you, General. Had this been twenty years ago, it would have been as revenge for my brother you so casually killed. Had I blown your brains out a decade ago, it would have been to prevent another Tyrellian Massacre. Today? Today I just don't give a fuck. *BLAM* Quit whining, you! It's just a leg wound. These worthless laspistols cauterize their own damn wounds, too. Now, where was I? I don't know exactly when I stopped giving a damn. Perhaps it was after feeding yet another bright young adjutant to your tame beasts, or putting up yet another scapegoat in front of a firing squad. It horrified me at first, though it numbed over time. Eventually, though - eventually I learned to like it. I loved watching those hopes and dreams of escaping the Fenrisian wolves end in teeth and blood, and I had to stifle a giggle as I listened to those innocent men swear the honest truth as I hung them high. Life is a game, General, and you taught me how to flip the board. So congratulations, I suppose! I am the product of your concerted incompetence. Now, you might be asking yourself, "if she doesn't care, why do anything at all?" You see, there is one thing I do care about, General, and that's everyone else. I hate seeing your silly rages and depressions, your hopes and pleasures, and I just want to see 'em burn. I'm a schoolyard bully at heart; I won't be happy until all your little toys and schemes are broken and shattered into smoke and flame. Speaking of which, I really should've set off the armory charges several minutes ago. There! Much better. You may hate me now, General, but understand this: I hate myself more than I hate you. I hate everything, from those little scurrying ants outside to the headless groxes running around inside your command center. In fact, while I'm still talking about those men...there, much better. The combat servitors should keep a spring in their steps, I think. I don't want blood, or rage, or pleasure or hope. I just want the whole thing to come crashing down, and maybe to be the one who throws the match. I've found a new boss, you see, one who thinks much the same way. He doesn't tell me to give sacrifices, or to wave incense under hunks of rock, or even to burn and maim and kill. The Lost One simply tells me to have fun, and I do. I've enjoyed my time here, General, and it's time for me to bring my fun to the rest of your little Crusade. Now, where did I put that promethium? ----------------------------------------- TZEENTCH What I'm about to tell you is a complete lie. I kid, of course. What ignorant rube would tell a complete lie? Unless you're hoping to one-up your fellows, in which case then lie your sorry pants off, me boy. Hey! That tickles! Inquisitor, would you kindly send your pet torturer away to get his jollies off by stabbing the Devourer's minions? You and I can leave such trifles as physical pain aside. What? Pain as pleasure? I leave such decadence for the Prince of Excess and his foolish followers. No, Inquisitor, I merely ignore pain because I see a far greater goal in sight. Of course, perhaps I'm lying. Actually, that's a lie - you know that I'm fibbing, me boy. What you've yet to find is the particulars of me little plots. Should I tell you about that little logic-daemon which me fellows put into the Administratum's servers below us? Heh, 'below' us, get it? An entire sub-sector's records, turned into a daemon of little-c chaos to hide many a greater plan...hmm, perhaps I should get on that. What if I shared me story about the underhiver revolt we've been stirring up? You know that the dearly departed Lord Governor wasn't that...hrm, 'well-liked,' shall we say. But what about those small-scale riots he encouraged to frighten his nobles with? Ever wonder where those underhiver rabble managed to get their hands on heavy stubbers? You see, Inquisitor, the truth is in my spit which landed on your Interrogator seventy-three seconds ago - and on a few anonymous crewmen several hours previously. Your Navy's quarantine protocols are sound, and the local Navy is competent enough to choke out an infestation of Nurgle's Rot before it infects the entire sub-sector's fleets. Of course, with this battleship's higher-level crews badly depleted, wherever shall you get more crewman than from the noblemens' brats down below? Defeat us? Inquisitor, you are us. Every man who dreams of a better life serves the Lord of Lies. Every lie, every conspiracy, every human scheming to get ahead strengthens Him. A Guardsman praying for a happier tomorrow offers up far more sincere worship than me withered old ass in me secluded chambers. And the greatest secret of all is this: we're really on your side. The dedicated believers of Tzeentch, we devoted followers of the Architect of Fate - we're humanitarians. Humanity needs us, just like we need humanity. Your Imperium is an old, rotting structure standing in the way of true progress; you worship and strengthen the Lord of Decay just by existing! So go ahead, Inquisitor. Me fellows have already got our plans in motion to cut the sub-sector away from your corruption, to let humanity advance and conquer the stars like it was always meant to. We'll see mankind free or die trying. Or perhaps I'm just trying to one-up me fellows. Tee hee! --------------------------------------- KHORNE You ever killed a man, meat? Yer fancy Navy guns an' shite've probably shed more blood than I'll ever take, but I kin see it in yer eyes, meat - yeh ain't blooded yet. C'mon, meat. Mayhaps I'll kill you in a bit, but I don't prefer ta kill somethin' what ain't properly lived. Take the knife. TAKE IT! TAKE IT, YAH SHITEHEAD! USE IT! FECKIN' USE IT! KILL ME! BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD! ... Yeh can't, can yeh? That's why yer meat, 'stead of a man. A man kin kill, easy as meat like you breathes. A man kin cut, an' slice, an' bring out the blood tah the surface. Lookit it. Lookit yer blood. LOOK AT IT. That's truth. Ain't no point to this shitehole, or any shitehole out there. Ain't no point ta wealth, or in-flew-ince, or family, or all that shite. Just blood. See it? 'S in everything - even Iron Men got blood of a sorts. 'S power there, comin' from yer throat to me. Yeh can have all the money in this 'verse, but I kin shed yer blood. Now, who's the one with power here? I'm gonna kill yeh, meat. I'm gonna rip yer skull from yer neck, an' bring it ta the God of Blood, an' I'll take the one thing that matters in all this 'verse. An' yeh ain't gonna stop me, are yeh? Meat, yer gonna sit there with that dumb-shite look on yer face, an' hope an' pray that I'll let yeh live, even as I tell yeh right now. Used ta pray, meself. Used ta ask the Emperor, up on his golden pisser, ta come save me from the Maelstrom's slave pens. Me friends got taken, an' I prayed. Me family got taken, an' I prayed. Then they came fer me, an' I knew the Emperor wouldn't do shite. So I tried it a little diff'rent, an' when I prayed with axe an' knife 'stead of words an' cryin, seems like I got answered real quick. So now, meat, I'm gonna make another prayer. -------------------------- Huh. Ya know, it don't feel too different from this end. How are yeh, my man? Don't cry; DON'T YOU FECKIN' DISRESPECT THIS! Yeh ain't meat no more; don't you dare feckin' forget it. Ain't any point to living. All of us, from the Gods ta us mortals, all of us're gonna die. Sooner or later, come your time too, an' yeh'll be down here instead. Don't that make yeh angry? Ay, me man, I kin see it in yer eyes. Yer angry; hell, why shouldn't yeh be? We done killed yer ship, we killed yer mates, an' soon me mates'll kill yeh too. Don't yeh feel some feckin' RAGE? When they come fer yeh, I want yeh ta respect 'em good. Respect yerself, too - yer a man now, so act like it. Make 'em work fer it, ta shed yer blood an' take yer bones. BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR HIS THRO- ------------------------------------ SLAANESH Hush, you silly man. Yes, you’re dying, your seed is spilling out blah de blah de blah-ENOUGH! Can’t you give me some proper moaning and groaning? I’m not asking for much here! Every nobleman I kill, every single one, they always blubber about ‘how this could possibly happen.’ Really, darling, did you actually think that the “stunningly beautiful specimen” - my thanks for that compliment, by the way - at your doorstep would just meekly walk in, without an agenda surrounding her? Can’t you just relax and enjoy the sheer artistry of this moment? I made a real effort on this one, darling, I really did. The timing, the poise, the sheer majesty of death in the throes of life - but you ruined it! Ruined my beautiful, glorious art! Couldn’t you have finished properly, at your appointed time, to fit with the rest of the ritual? But noooo, you just had to keep going, and how the Daemonettes have probably fecked off to wherever else the Warp takes ‘em. This whole planet, I swear - it’s grinding on me. Those Nurglite degenerates below, Khornate raiders above, some Inquisitor causing trouble with his black ships - it’s enough to drive a girl to madness, I tell you! Why, today I nearly let myself get scraped: this priceless porcelain skin, almost marred through sheer stupidity! Your guards really needed to touch up on their close-combat training, by the way; had you not been part of the ritual, I might have even trained them myself. There was one, name of Melody, I think; mmmm, she looked positively tasty... Hmph. All’s well that ends well, at least. This’ll hardly grab what I was hoping for, but a few Daemonettes in your little gala below should still do the trick. M’Lord Governor, you really shouldn’t have brought all of your noble houses together for such a tasty, delectable gathering; didn’t you ever hear the saying “an orgy a day keeps the Imperials away?” Oh, right, you’re probably wishing for a corpse-worshipper or two right now. Ahhhhh...that took you long enough, silly man. It also took an injection of some very choice drugs that I was saving for later - another little insult to hold against you. Couldn’t you have brought me some proper pleasure? It’s all I’m asking for in this worthless reality - just a little fun and happiness, some silks, amesac, a few good knives, a good array of targets...hrm, perhaps I’ll have to think on that more. Of course, with the favors I’ll gain from this, I should have more than a few pleasures to enjoy. It should definitely make the coming Exterminatus much nicer - so long as I’m watching it from a departing passenger liner, of course. Why? Why kill you? Why summon daemons from your corpse? Why gut your planetary government in a stunning, beautiful orgy of bloodletting, overlaying a right old-fashioned Imperial orgy, to send your whole hive-city into the soft arms of the Prince of Pleasure? WHY? Why not? ------------------------------------ IMPERIAL Faith. I don't know when you gave it up, lost child. Were you never loved when you were young? Did a woman spurn you, or did the system beat you down? What hardships drove you, controlled you, until you came before me today? It's hard to keep faith when I see children like you, broken and despoiled, then tossed aside when their purpose is finished. Oh yes, my boy, you're hardly the first ringleader I've seen down here, and you might yet not be the last. You’re full of fire and fury, just like all the ones before, but you and I both know that it’s a hollow feeling. There’s a faith-sized hole in your heart, and no amount of Warp-spawn will fill it. You don’t have faith in the Imperium. You don’t have faith in your fellow man. You can’t even believe in love, or hope, or joy and despair that doesn’t come from an alien abomination. You can’t see the ocean of corruption, yet you’re drowning in it. You’re lost in the wilderness, little child, and only you and the Emperor can know how deep you’ve sunk. Other lost children have asked me why I stay. Minister of a sad little church, shepard of a tiny flock, drowning in the greed and corruption from above - I’m just one man. I stand here fighting a battle already lost, with the hive in flames, the Governor and his cronies dead, and the black ships standing watch above. Perhaps there is no point to this mad universe; mayhaps it truly is a galaxy spinning adrift from rhyme or reason. Yet the Emperor, for all his power, was just one man. Horus the Betrayer, Saint Sebastian Thor, and even humble Ollanius Pius were all just men. You are one man, as am I. Each of us may be saints or sinners, as we make of the lives given us. I look at you, strong in Warp-borne mutations and diseases, and all I can see is weakness. You were so frail that when hardship bore down on you, and when this harsh reality sunk its claws in, you bargained your immortal soul away for relief from a little pain. Your physical strength cannot hide your spiritual weakness: where better men stood fast and died proudly, you sold out your Emperor and your fellow man for your worthless life. So come fight me, lost children. We’ve all made our choices, and now those choices have made us. I shall bring you into His light with cleansing flame and prayers, and redeem us all in death. Come one or come all, you shall not put a foot into this hallowed ground while I still draw breath. For I have faith, and that is enough.