The pressure of the ocean depths accurately reflected the feeling of the moment. My head Technomancer and I watched anxiously as the Canoptek labourers removed the coral growths to reveal the entrance to the planet’s dynastic tomb. Green light emanated out as the Blackstone vault opened silently. We stepped over the threshold from the cold depths into the dry, warm interior of the tomb.
Despite the millennia of my absence from this world, my memory of the structure’s layout was pristine. I strode to the royal burial chambers of my kin. I was pleased to find the occupant resting undisturbed atop the great plinth where he last laid his head at the beginning of the Great Sleep. Instructing the Cryptek to activate the awakening rituals, I climbed to the top of the immense structure flanked by my honour guard to greet my greatest lieutenant since before Biotransfernce.
“Awaken My Brother!” I announced as the light returned to Leborahn’s eyes. “Your Phaeron calls on you again to serve our dynasty.”
I was disappointed to be met by a look of vague recognition. “Brother?” Leborahn asked as he rose.
“It is an archaic term,” I explained. “Though when you and I were flesh and blood, we shared parentage.”
He examined his living metal body. “I remember that organic vessel,” he whispered. “A fragile and contemptuous thing to be reviled.”
This was my first clue that not all was right with my brother upon his reawakening. But considering the long road from my own awakening to this point and the even longer journey ahead of me to reclaim our ancestral worlds from the younger races, I was willing to overlook his imperfections in exchange for his tactical acumen.
Beginning with the purge of the humans from Leborahn’s world, my brother exhibited signs of mental degradation. He showed particular contempt for the humans and insisted on having their structures dismantled brick by brick, to the detriment of maintaining our strategic momentum over their primitive forces. The reconquest took twenty percent longer than my advisors predicted.
While pursuing fleeing warp-worshiping vermin, he became infuriated by the inefficiency of waiting for his command barge to arrive before he could chase down our prey. He ordered my Crypteks to replace his own legs with the vehicle’s repulsor engines to increase his speed and combat efficiency.
He gathered like minded followers from errant Lokhust, Skorpekh, and Ophydian cults we encountered along our continued quest to liberate our dynasty’s tomb worlds. Their nihilistic influences caused him to spiral further. Their hate for all life forms began costing us victories. My phalanxes of warriors had arrived at our rendezvous point in a jungle clearing where we had orchestrated a pincer assault to eliminate a horde of Greenskins, only to be overwhelmed and driven back when my brother’s forces failed to arrive. I later learned he and his detachment were delayed because they took it upon themselves to annihilate every inch of organic matter in the jungle, regardless of whether or not it posed a threat.
I gathered my other court advisors in secret to address the Leborahn issue.
“Send them to intercept the approaching tendrils of the Great Devourer,” my Royal Warden suggested. “There is enough life there to keep the Lord busy for at least a century.”
“We could erase his personality protocols,” my head Technomancer recommended. “As an individual member of the Lokhust cult, his influence will wane and this will allow you to exert your control over them more effectively as the weapons they are.”
As my advisors argued around me, I watched the longest tenured member of my court, Mineera, silently resting on her Aeonstaff. The lights of her optic sensor’s flickering as she calculated the infinite number of outcomes.
“Lady Chronomancer, what does the future hold?”
Mineera shook her head, “Lord Leborahn is irrecoverable, my Phaeron.”
I nodded reluctantly, my journey to reclaim my empire had been taken off course far enough.
Leborahn’s cult had grown considerably. Getting to him proved difficult but I was honour bound by the ancestral codes to duel him myself, even though his condition had caused him to abandon them.
The C’tan shard managed to disable his flagship before its necrodermis was ruptured by a swarm of Skorpekhs’ scything blades. The resulting cataclysmic explosion bifurcated the vessel.
My Lychguard sustained heavy casualties as we forced our way into the tomb ship’s throne room. The shield wall struggled to weather the gauss cannons’ entropic power. Hyperphase swords cleaved through living metal, the dwindling retinue pressed forward quickly to keep ahead of the felled destroyers knitting themselves back together behind us.
Leborahn was practically unrecognizable as he descended from the central dais. He had made additional modifications to his body since I had last seen him. Every limb was a weapon optimized for annihilation.
I struck at the bladed trio of legs with my warscythe in an attempt to slow his advance. My weapon’s reach was my only advantage. I was driven back, parrying nearly imperceptible strikes from blades and clawed hands, unable to make an offensive move of my own.
A sharpened leg pierced my pelvis. As he drove me to the ground, I found my opening. I thrust my blade between his metallic ribs and severed his spine.
Leborahn seized and his attack ceased, limbs slumped to the ground.
“Brother…” Leborahn whispered, the first hint of recollection in his eyes since his awakening.
I wrenched the warscythe clear, bisecting the Destroyer Lord. Two of the Lychguard helped me to my feet while nanoscarabs repaired my shattered hips. I plunged the blade through his head one final time to ensure he would not reanimate before we phased back to my tomb ship.
About the Author
Alex Watt is an aspiring writer and non-profit professional living in Washington, DC with his partner and their extremely spoiled cat. A fan of Warhammer 40,000 and its fiction for around twenty years, he enjoys having the opportunity to tear open his own small section of the Warp to wreak havoc on his favorite grim, dark universe and share it with other like minded fans.