This is a short story I wrote for a competition at our local GW store. Alex "Sandy Mitchell" Stewart (writer of the Caiphas Cain and Dark Heresy novels) was the judge. The brief was a Warhammer or Warhammer 40k story on a single A4 page (in a reasonable size font). Unfortunately as I had a couple of wisdom teeth out on Friday I didn't get the story in before the competition deadline. Anyhow - here it is for your entertainment and comment:
The old man seemed to sag as he stumbled down the alley. The night was closing in and this late, in this part of the hive, no sane or honest man walked alone. The figure appeared to rebound off invisible barriers as he slowly plunged forwards. Yet with every step his posture seemed to weaken, as if his will was being drained away by some inevitable doom. He held a tall bronze staff in his hands and leant against it as he continued to shamble on. His long green robes dragged on the floor, the hood drawn up around his face. Hungry yellow eyes watched as his wrinkled hands tightened their grip on the staff.
Filidus was getting too old for this. It was meant to be a simple route from the Astropathic choir to the dormitory; a pleasant walk with which to end the day but by this time it was decidedly less enjoyable. He was tired and he was longing for a good meal and a rest in his small cot. Good meal? Ha, that was a laugh. When the God-Emperor had taken his sight in the soul binding ritual he had also taken a portion of most of his other senses too. It took an abundance of rich food before Filidus could taste anything on his crippled palate. He realised he was unconsciously rubbing the slight paunch of his belly. His “shapely” form stood out amongst his stereotypically gaunt and frail astropathic brethren Walking all this way, when he should have already been on his third course did his mood no favours and it certainly was not beneficial to his health. He could feel his pulse rate increase, and yes, something was there, waiting, watching. The prey had been found.
“Learned scholar may I entreat upon you for a boon?” the astropath stopped. The voice came from Filidus’ right. He turned, not to see better but simply out of courtesy to the man who had addressed him.
“What? I am in a hurry to return to my bed. What do you want?” He made no attempt to hide the irritation in his voice.
“Well brother, I was just going to entreat upon you for a few coin, perhaps the contents of your purse?” the click of a concealed knife opening echoed through the alleyway. Yellow eyes shone with anticipation.
Filidus felt the three of them, the one speaking and two trying to creep up, one on either side. Fools. They were boys, barely out of the schola, if they’d ever attended one. Feh. The youth of the day.
“I have no coin to give, especially to louts like you. Good evening to you.” Once again he lurched forwards, his psychic senses pulling him this way and that down the passage. The apparent leader of the gang reached out a hand, gripping Filidus by the shoulder.
“I don’t think you realise, dear sir, I will have my boon regardless.” Yellow eyes gleamed, the critical moment was coming.
The astropath’s voice suddenly grew intense as he met the boy’s eyes with his empty, scarred eye sockets. “No child. You will not live to regret the waste you have made of your Emperor given life.”
Suddenly a blur struck from Filidus’ left, sweeping down from the side of the alley it knocked over one of the young punks and collided with the leader, forcing him back into a nearby rubbish disposal unit. The creature was obviously unnatural, moving with a speed that defied perception. Even when still human eyes could not quite resolve what was before them. The ganger who remained standing soiled himself.
As the creature pinned the gang leader it tore into his face and neck, its brutal tusks and teeth gouging into the would-be robber. His screams fell silent in seconds. The beast looked up, it’s yellow, gleaming eyes in stark contrast to the shiny red of it’s glistening, skinless body.
“Ah.” Filidus began. He could sense the malice of the creature before him. Utterly alien and utterly evil.
Dropping the corpse it still held in it’s mouth the Warp Beast turned and stalked towards the Astropath. Slow menacing movements now, in stark contrast to the rapid shock of it’s initial attack. This was a consummate predator. A creature who considered itself firmly at the top of the food chain. It prepared to pounce.
The night was rent by the sound of gun fire, harsh and loud as round after round pounded into the cursed beast. The din subsided, leaving the creature a tattered fleshy heap on the ground.
“About bloody time!” Filidus pulled down his hood and stared into the darkness where the shots had originated. “Inquisitor, next time you want bait for your hunt you can find yourself a Wyrd. I am not your plaything!”
An armed group emerged from the dark. The first figure, a tall man with close cropped grey hair and a goatee beard stopped before the astropath.
“Well done Questor, you performed your role admirably and the plan worked perfectly, as I told you it would.” Inquisitor Orion Fossor smiled a broad, toothy, grin. Filidus Questor was not amused.
Authour of "The Brutal Lament" - Finalist in the 2009 Dark Heresy Scenario Competition
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Think you're old? I used to play Laserburn you know…