Heart of the Tomb

4.25/5 (1)

Click-clack. Click-clack. Click-clack.

 

From the depths of a mountain pass, humanoid figures clad in red robes looked up to scan a darkness so profound that human eyes had no hope of piercing it. Warriors of the Skitarii, having transcended their species’ baseline limitations, could see through the blackest shadows as if it was day. Yet, they could not find what had triggered their sensors for a nanosecond. They scanned the area through multiple spectra for a few seconds longer before returning to their programmed duties as the protectors of servitor menials.

 

Click-clack. Click-clack. Click-clack.

 

From the dark, an arthropodic shape emerged from the jagged cavern roof. Legs made out of segmented pieces of necrodermis dug into the rocky surface with unnatural silence as more of its form slithered out of its hiding place. Purple lenses locked on to the unaware humanoids beneath it. Algorithms of the most efficient plans of attack pulsed through its automaton mind before being forcefully silenced. Its task was to observe, nothing more and nothing less.

 

Click-clack. Click-clack. Click-clack.

 

Like the statues of ancient wardens of dynastic kingdoms long since forgotten by the galaxy, it remained unmoving on the roof as its master gazed through its eyes. By technological means both ancient and profoundly advanced, Akatitakh the Forsaken watched from within the tomb as the largest among the robed figures raised its many arms in supplication. She chuckled derisively as the gates to her lord’s kingdom remained sealed in defiance to its primitive understanding of the physical realm. 

Akatitakh had been watching the posse for a long while, but had refused to act nor inform her slumbering lord of the intruders. They certainly could not open the gates, and as such, their presence was not worthy of his attention. For a moment, phantom pain coursed through her body as if to remind of her the last time she had earned his ire. Her lord was not a being who forgave easily.

He was a vicious warrior, a brute who despised weakness in his subjects. Failing him was a sign of weakness and forfeiting one’s life was the only price that would suitably satiate him. The only reason why she still lived under his rule, despite her failure, was that she was very useful to his plans.

‘Look at them.’ She vocalized to her Lych Guard companions, so she could re-center her thoughts and a semblance of fortitude would be re-established. She knew that they could not see what she saw, nor would they respond. Their souls had been devoured long ago, leaving only metal husks fit for war.

‘See how they attempt to imitate us by replacing their mortal vessels with cheap trinkets. See how they attempt to elevate themselves from their kin through prayers for machines that they no longer understand. The pitiful fools.’ Akatitakh’s rigid immortal form, a shadow of what once was the epitome of Necrontyr beauty, scowled at the hubris of humanity.

A burst of static noise brought her attention back to the humans. Her contemptuous interest and annoyance soon morphed into confused anger with a touch of fear.

The gates of the tomb, sealed millennia ago in an age when gods were cast low by legions of the undying, slowly began to open.

At the sight of a feat once thought impossible, the Cryptek let her mind run  as threads of convergent and divergent thought went through theoreticals of what this event would entail. One thing was for certain, her lord would be forcefully awakened from his slumber.
The tomb was both his kingdom and his prison, as every warrior in hibernation is a shackle that suppresses his consciousness. Each warrior awakened to protect his domain is an opened seal to lucidity that can never be closed. Even if she only awakened a handful of warriors, their rise from hibernation followed by the ensuing battle would be enough for him to wrench free from his deep sleep. However, if she were to stay her hand, then they would be at the mercy of those things

She did not know if cowardice or disobedience would yield the greater punishment and, as the despicable humans moved ever deeper into the tomb, her time for action grew shorter.

Her rage, once silent from the long years of entombment, began to well up within her. She remembered feeling this weak and feeble when metal monsters that she once called friends dragged her from her home. Memories of the agony she had experienced during bio-transference sprung forth like unwanted parasites. From these memories, phantom pain born from her lord’s wrath was reignited and a visage of his unforgiving gaze burned into her.

With a roar, she slammed her staff against the floor and let loose an arc of gauss energy. The Lych Guard before her did not react to her outburst and she was driven to new heights of fury at their silence.

‘Kill them!’ She ordered the Wraith. Almost immediately, the algorithms it sought to suppress returned. Past the sea of numbers, she could see markers where other Wraiths emerged from their hidden alcoves.

‘Wait…’ At the precipice of carnage, the Wraiths obeyed but remained ready to strike. Akatitakh allowed herself a few moments to calm down before relaying her next orders.

‘Leave the large one alive, the one who calls itself Magos. I wish to know how it found our tomb. Primitive as they are, I do not think that this discovery was made by mere circumstance.’ She cut off the link to the Wraith as soon as she heard the humans open fire. As the Wraiths engaged with the intruders, she went to awaken warriors to bolster their defences.

She was certain that more would come, so she strengthened her resolve. If she were to die, then she would die as a proud warrior of the dynasty and not as a lowly slave prostrating before its master. 

 

Click-clack. Click-clack. Click-clack.

About the Author

Dominic has been a Warhammer fan for five years and a writing hobbyist for just as long, mainly writing expository essays and the like. His introduction to writing as a hobby was through fanfiction, and his introduction to Warhammer 40k came via the Dawn of War games, leaving him hooked ever since. Along with writing stories set in the 40k universe, he enjoys working on his homebrew Space Marine Chapter, the Lightning Wraiths.

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