Song and Symphony

Pain racked every pore of his body. It was a pain that throbbed and spiked, pulsated and waxed, marked every waking minute of his new existence; it was a pain he’d accepted and come to terms with. His mouth quivered as a cold wave engulfed his body, making him feel as if he were back on the ice world of Veritas VII. A gurgled, choked laugh escaped from cracked bleeding lips as he ploughed on through the trenches, his mind embracing the pain that had once driven him insane. Now… now it was beautiful. Now, he could see the glory of the Grandfather. Now, he could hear the music…

Every throb, every spasm, every shudder wove together like a sublime symphony, at times playing together, at times fading to allow another to take precedence. It was a sound, a feeling worth beholding and it was his honor to have this brilliant orchestra right within him… and it was his prerogative to spread the music.

Dev’wruth made his way, hunched over as bullets and laser fire burst overhead, across the trenches that crisscrossed all over the battlefield of Jah Plion. He, along with a small attachment of the Death Guard had been sent here by the Grandfather to spread his word, his lyrics, and his message. They weren’t here for anything more than to ensure that every living creature on the planet was writhing in agony as sweet decay took a hold of their sore and boil ridden bodies. Their purpose was over the petty squabbles of the mortals that surrounded them, what with their attempts to try and take control of the planet and the mysterious energy source that emanated from the center of the battle field. Grandfather Nurgle’s power came from decay and if they could augment his greatness by their efforts here then he, in all his glory would reward them with more of his ilk. Dev’Wruth wanted more music to fit into his meager orchestra. If with only so many ‘instruments’ the music was divine, his body shuddered to think of what more would do to it. The object that the others fought over was nothing more than a trinket to the Grandfather; an arbitrary objective, if nothing else.

Dev’Wruth had arrived upon Jah Plion’s surface through the same warp gate that other Chaos legions had. Apparently a gate had once been built here though neither he nor his brothers could remember ever having heard of the planet. The gate had been repaired by cultists who sought favor with the Dark Powers and those that hadn’t ended up sacrificing their lives to activate the gate and call forth the warp, were duly ‘rewarded’. Their work, however, was hindered at the last moment by the local Imperium Military who in their efforts could not destroy the gate but managed to damage it enough to disperse those that entered throughout the battlefield. This sort of behavior was unheard of from a Warp Gate and Dev’Wruth did wonder if the energies emitted by the mysterious artifact that the factions of the universe were warring over was powerful enough to hinder the workings of the warp. The thought however was fleeting and his mind was filled once again with the glorious music that made him drag his hulking frame forward, onwards to what he could smell as fresh, untouched, filthy meat.

Feeling hungry, the bulky frame of the plague marine lurched forward, saliva beginning to dribble out of the corners of a diseased mouth from which gurgled rasps issued that were his only expression of laughter. A metallic tube was all that allowed Dev’Wruth to breath properly, one of his illnesses having forced his trachea to constrict… even now it did, tightening as much as it could on the metal tube that kept it open, itching with pain in its inability to constrict any further. For that matter, his entire body was thus ridden with sores and pustules that would constantly rub against his armor that had been fashioned to be rough, filled with tiny spikes and pokes on the inside so that every movement he made only aggravated his many afflictions… only added to the music.

As he drew closer to where he could smell the fresh meat from, he heard orders being given, voices yelling to each other. By the sounds of it, he was approaching an entrenched position. His cracked lips split further into a smile allowing him to taste blood… a prelude to what was to be let.

Dev’Wruth hefted his bolter in one hand, capable of firing it with alacrity with one hand as all Death Guard had learnt to. His other hand was now nothing more than a bloated mess that had fused together and hardened with the Grandfather’s grace. It extended outwards, looking nothing like the hand that the fallen space marine had once known, now it was a twisted, gnarled mess slathered in pus and liquid poxes, itching to touch virgin flesh for all it had touched now were the dying bodies that had once sought refuge in this very trench. It was this very flesh, untouched and unmarred, that the plague marine trudged towards, happily beginning to hum along with the symphony within that was slowly building up to a crescendo.

As a meaningless war waged around him, he knew that his peers that he’d been separated from since they’d arrived on the planet were spreading Nurgle’s gifts as much as he was… his only thought was that he should, not outdo them, but seek the grandfather’s favor by his efforts . He followed the path the trench carried him on, knowing that he was getting closer to the voices, one of which he clearly recognized as belonging to a Brother of old, a space marine. He idly wondered what Chapter he belonged to and if he’d ever made acquaintance with that chapter before… and how many he’d bestowed his gifts of music upon.

The other voices he heard, were revealed to be those of Imperial Guardsmen who manned a mounted heavy bolter. The trio were at the very edge of the trench where it rose and leveled out. The two guardsmen were manning the gun, taking cover in the trench, while the Marine, true to his training and fanatism that rivaled Dev’Wruth’s love of music,  stood at the far end of the trench, firing indiscriminately down the slope on the other side of the trench. Shouts of ‘For the Emperor’ and the like reached his ears but unlike other marines from the warp, they meant nothing to him. In fact, they were drowned out by the sheer force with which the music was now blaring within him. His crooked mouth broke into a wide grin, blood oozing from the never healing cracks and sores that surrounded it. He hefted his gun, the weight that might have been too much for anyone else unfelt by the large marine. He aimed down his sights and began to fire, choosing his targets carefully unwillingly to outright kill any of his new prey.

His sudden barrage caught the lone space marine and imperial guardsmen unawares, their attentions focused on whatever it was that they were trying so hard to shoot. His first barrage of bullets took out both the Imperial Guardsmen who’s armor could do little in the way of stopping bolter fire.  Both fell, breathing shallow but far from dead. He wouldn’t kill them… there was no point in it.

The space marine noticed him and turned his large weapon on the hulking onslaught who began to fire at him, focusing on the marine’s legs and weapon, alternating quick bursts between the two. Dev’Wruth wanted the marine to think that he, like all other chaos soldiers, would be aiming to kill him. As he closed the distance between the two, the space marine seemed to fall for the feint, apparently not quite so well acquainted with plague warriors to wait for his heavy bolter to begin its rain of fire. He cast aside his weapon and drew a long sword that had been holstered to his belt. Dev’Wruth almost laughed with glee, the music within him reaching another high point as he pushed himself forward, running and bearing down on the man like a juggernaut.

The blade’s first swing missed Dev’Wruth’s face by mere centimeter’s. He could feel the sharp air caress his face as he the ploughed a fist into the Marine’s helmet, his mutated bony one, sending the marine reeling backwards. He then switched to his bolter, firing a quick burst to the man’s right knee and then switching to attack his chest plate where the armor was sure to be thickest. The marine, to the plague marine’s pleasure, fought back savagely, swinging his sword back around and slapping the bolter from Dev’wruth’s hand. From the sound of a tiny explosion and fizzling, it was apt to assume that the bolter had been severed to some degree. Dev’wruth’s hand suffered a few mild burns as a bullet blew up in the barrel as the gun was splintered, but to him it only added to the music. He laughed, a gurgled sound that produced more blood from his mouth and cracked cheeks and hurt his throat even more… the beauty of such a happy sound.

He kept stepping towards the marine, who in his last strike had lost a little of his balance and was now trying to correct himself while he stumbled backwards and away from the chaos soldier that stood a good head taller than him and almost twice as wide. Dev’wruth for his part, reached out, trying to grab at the marine’s armor when the marine, realizing, or rather deciding that if he were to enact the emperor’s justice a sacrifice was to be had, lunged forward, putting all his weight behind his sword and drove it straight through Dev’wruth’s abdomen.

Dev’wruth’s laughing seized. His expression went slack and he looked down and could tell that the space marine was triumphant inside the mask… A smile reappeared on Dev’wruth’s face. The mask, he thought as the symphony hit a particularly sublime piece. He reached out and pulled the helmet off the stunned marine, gently, lovingly… and before the marine could back away, stuffed his bony, pus and pox swathed hand into the man’s mouth, no doubt breaking teeth and allowing an easy conduit for his gift to access the marine’s body. Dev’wruth smiled at the stunned man who was choking and gagging with the bony hand still in his mouth. The plague marine, ran a loving hand through the marine’s face.

“I’ll see you in the gardens, friend…” he whispered lovingly and then pushed the marine away, who fell backwards and down, clutching at his throat and mouth, leaving Dev’wruth to consider the sword skewering his large being like a toothpick in a turkey leg. He could leave it there for the time being… he did so enjoy the overture it added to the symphony… but at the same time he could see how it might not be the best of idea’s for the time being. He shrugged and pulled it out, shivering at the sensation, loving the added layers of music. Once removed, he stared at the sword, covered in his dark blood, stagnant yellow pus and a few pearly white speckles that…

He felt a few bullets slam into his armor from behind.

Turning he saw the two Imperial guardsmen he’s left alive holding pistols and firing at him. He smiled at them, invitingly… more friends, he thought as he walked up to them as their bullets ricocheted off his armor while a choice few embedded themselves happily into parts of his soft, exposed flesh. He knelt in front of them, taking their guns from their tiny hands one by one and throwing them away. He smiled, once again, blood dripping down his face in torrents now. He was happy after all.

“I’m sorry I forgot about you… Here, this is your gift.”

And he took the first, head his face steady, took the sword and carefully slid it across the man’s open mouth, cutting into his cheeks and depositing part of what was on the word into his mouth. He then let the man go, allowing him to roll on the ground gagging and coughing and screaming in pain while he flipped the blade over and did the same for his friend. That having been taken care of, he patted the second on the head before standing up once more and walking out of the trench to see who they had been firing at… surely, there must be survivor’s who hadn’t received their gifts yet.

He looked down the shallow hill to see a gaggle of Khorne berserker’s adding their own finishing touches to what looked like Imperial guardsmen, Space Marines, Orks and even a few kroot… How intriguing. And none of them left alive, sadly… What an utter waste, he thought to himself as one of the Khorne berserkers noticed him and pointed him out. Amidst shouts and yells of ‘more skulls for the skull throne’, they abandoned ravaging the bodies around them and charged at him. Dev’wruth chuckled and shook his head. The Khorne boys just never learnt. He hefted his new sword and breathed out a noxious exhale of green the floated away with the breeze caused by multiple explosions all over the battle field. If they wanted another fight, they’d get one and he’d have more seeds and pods for the garden.

Dev’wruth’s demeanor changed as he began his slow hulking walk to meet his charging foes. These weren’t friends like the others… this wasn’t playtime. This was serious… and he knew when to work, when to play and when to unleash his Grandfather’s fury on those that would oppose him. He screamed as the first berserker reached him, swinging his axe at his throat. Dev’wruth turned sideways so that the weapon embedded itself in his shoulder pad and simultaneously thrust his sword into the man’s chest. The keen blade sliced through the armor but broke off when he tried to pull it out. The plague marine gnashed his teeth and swung his mutated hand to catch another berserker in the face while two more slashed at his being. The pain, the music increased in volume driving the plague marine to greater feats of ferocity and speed as he and the berserker’s wade into each other…

Dev’wruth knew nothing in that moment but the blissful music, the clash of metal on metal, the gurgled shouts of the few fallen nearby and the yells of those assaulting him when a single surge of blue distracted him… and before he could realize it, the single flash became a multitude as a barrage of Tau laser fire ripped through the berserker’s around him as well as himself. He turned around only to see the sight of a Krootox bearing down on him, its beak-like maw hanging open, saliva flying in the wind, its rider firing at the berserkers while the Krootox struck the plague marine and sent him falling backwards.

He fell a good distance from the giant creature, his chest crushed and his spirit fading. He could feel the warp calling back to him… he could hear his grandfather beckoning him home. He only wished that he had done his grandfather proud… he wanted more, more music after all. He coughed blood and felt the bile and blood run down the sides of his mouth as he stared up at the glorious stars, hearing the shouts and screams of the last few berserkers as they were surely being physically ripped apart or shot down by Tau sniper fire. It was a long time before, amidst the music, Dev’wruth felt something upon him, crushing him even more. He opened his eyes to see the krootox standing on him… watched as it raised its body, joined its hands ready to drive the organic hammer straight through his skull. He smiled at the rider and just before the hammer fell, before the warp reclaimed its own, he struck out at the Krootox’s chest with the severed space marine sword he still held in his hand. His last gift to this world…

The End

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