The Chronomancer’s Apprentice

Hakulek winced as another crash reached his audio receptors. Even through layers of shielding, both esoteric and mundane, the noise was getting louder. He hurried to the command nexus, tapping his fingers together as he walked swiftly, the necrodermis chinking softly as his digits played out a staccato rhythm. Another smash, this time accompanied by a bestial roar, caused him to speed up. He didn’t run, his master, the great Anakurak the Timeless, abhorred haste. He found it uncouth and, unsurprisingly for a chronomancer, unnecessary. 

The control lectern was aglow with runes, the multidimensional cross section of the infinity vault largely showing a soothing green apart from the jagged line of furious red that carved its way through the exhibit spaces. Hakulek watched another branch form as the cascade of containment failures rippled out along a new vector. 

Not good. Not good at all. 

His fingers danced over the controls as he tried to bring the situation back under control. Retasking monitor constructs and awakening warrior cohorts, erecting barriers between enclosures, and in one notable case, shunting the whole exhibit into a pocket dimension. It was no use. As fast as he moved the disaster moved faster, growing exponentially as released creatures embraced their newfound freedom by attacking the still frozen exhibits, each other, or both. 

A new sound erupted. Tortured exotic metals squealing as they were torn asunder. A soft breeze began as the pressure differential pulled air into the chamber through the vent and Hakulek’s olfactory processors detected a significant increase in sulphur dioxide. That probably meant the last Gyripicon was free. An ultrasonic roar confirmed his suspicions and he paused for a moment, considering the prominent panel that sat front and centre on the board. Could he collapse the space time bubble? It was certainly an option but probably best not to. His master would be displeased if he returned from his collecting expedition to find his domain no longer existed. It would be worse if the other great Necron collector found out. Hakulek decided he would rather face the fractal claws of the Gyripicon than Anakurak’s disappointment. He could be very…pointed.

Hakulek gestured a new console into existence, tasking a portion of the nexus’s processing power to create a predictive model of the systemic breakdown. He tapped his foot impatiently as the innumerable variables were assessed and a probability waveform constructed, collapsed, and then reconstituted as new data was ingested. Stars birthed, nova’d and died; civilisations rose and fell; four infinite seconds passed. The console pinged, a pair of counters hanging in the increasingly foetid air. On the left, the loss percentage expressed to fifteen decimal places ticked inexorably upwards. On the right a timer counted down, its steady beats interspersed with jumps as sections fell apart quicker than expected. Harulek waved them into his cortex. The counters disappeared from the display and reappeared in the top right of his vision a moment later. 

The scream of rending metal reached a crescendo and an alarm began to wail. Hakulek keyed in a command and a phalanx of warriors materialised in perfect ranks between him and the now rather defunct portal. He flashed a hold order to the immortal in command and turned back to the map, ignoring the buzz of gauss blasters and guttural cries behind him as he took in the spreading red runes with dismay. A proximity warning flashed into his consciousness, and he stepped to the side to avoid being crushed by a massive projectile which buried itself into the console, blurring the display before redundancies rerouted around destroyed components. Hakulek stared at the thing in disbelief. The six faceted eyes of the Gyripicons’ head stared back sightlessly, the angry stump where its neck had been dripping crystalline ichor onto the polished metal floor. 

Hakulek glanced at the counters in his visual field, now overlayed atop the extremely dead, and now very much extinct alien dragon. Loses now stood at over forty per cent, and time was running out. There was nothing else for it. He walked, very quickly, he wasn’t afraid to admit, over to the interface lectern for the chrono portal and began entering the algorithms. He’d observed his master do it dozens of times before and was certain he could target the coordinates, if not perfectly, then near enough. He double checked his work, corrected a minor error, and set the countdown in motion. Five seconds should be plenty to take the two steps onto the transmission platform. 

He mounted the dais and turned to face the chamber. It was a mess. A battle still raged towards the door, but it was clear from the decreasing flashes of silver that his warriors were being overwhelmed by the furious tide of alien berserkers. As he watched, a shape detached itself from the throng and bounded towards him. Powerful legs supported a round orange body that appeared to consist entirely of teeth. The creature skidded to a stop before the controls; a pair of beady yellow eyes regarded Hakulek before it opened its jaws wide and bit down hard on the delicate machinery. The world went white.


Hakulek flinched before the massive green monster that looked ready to carve him in two. It took him a moment to realise it was motionless. Its jaws were wide, flecks of spittle hung in the air. He ducked beneath the primitive cleaver and looked around. The churned dust of the battlefield swarmed with the aliens. A fallen ship of some kind was drowning under a tide of them. An energy beam from a wing cannon speared out towards a construct that was swinging a vast chain-sword at the cockpit. Ah yes, The Hall of Last Stands, one of his masters’ favourite treatises on hopelessness. 

He strolled towards the edge of the stasis field, his necrodermis tingling as it failed to register entropy. He pushed against the barrier, but it held. No matter; he only needed to turn it off for a second.

About the Author

Andy Clark is an avid reader of all things Warhammer, having rediscovered the setting with the Horus Heresy series. He’s recently got back into painting models after a two-decade gap and wonders why he ever stopped.