Author’s Note: This is some introductory and conclusionary fluff to a battle report I wrote for one of my many Warhammer 40K boards. I think it’s a fun little vigniette in its own right, so I’ve put it here. If you are interested in the battle report itself (or curious about how 40K works), I’ve placed a link. Again, no infringement of Games Workshop’s copyright is intended.
Kryptmann Gore, Archheretic and architect of the Glorious Revolution, shivered in the cold morning dew. He had spent the last four days sleeping in the back of a ramshackle Chimera with the remnants of the Lustborn command staff–some of his first converts to the cause. They were all couching amid the ruins of a small trading post nestled in the rugged highlands of Hasturia’s northern continent, their eyes bloodshot and their moods iritiable. The drugs–both combat related and recreational–had run out yesterday, and already the withdrawal symptoms were taking their toll. Kryptmann knew one squad had died already from the effects, and another two had deserted over the night. “The fools,” he muttered, hugging his sodden coat closer to his body–Lysander and his Astartes would run them down and kill them before they cleared the first ridge.
“What are we waiting for, Kryptmann?” General Hortense asked in a ragged voice, his cheek twitching.
“The shuttle won’t land until we secure the landing area.” Kryptmann snapped. “You’re the damned general–you should know that!”
Hortense rose, his face pale with what Kryptmann assumed was anger, but realized was nausea. While the former High Commander of the Lustborn Legions vomited in the grass, Kryptmann looked at the small, pale man in the flight jacket who had appeared in camp the night before. “You’re certain your master’s ship is undetected?”
The pirate smiled, showing a decidedly imperfect set of teeth. “Low orbit, limited energy signature–the blockade won’t pick us up for hours.”
“But we’ll still have orbital support?” General Hortense groaned over his wretching, “We need orbital support!”
The rest of the command group nodded, shivering and weak with need. All their red-rimmed eyes fixed on the pirate and Kryptmann. The pirate smiled again, “You’ll get enough. We have a Valkyrie with Imperial transpoder codes that’s inbound, and I’ve got a link to an artillery satellite–you’ll have support.”
The vox-man, Barent, jumped as his device came to life. Pressing the earphones to his head, he turned pale. “Sir,” he reported to Hortense, “It’s them…they’ve found us.”
The little group sprang into action, the terror they felt at the nearness of their foe enough to overcome their paralyzing drug-withdrawal. Kryptmann, the only man present not shaking with nausea and chills, licked his lips and stepped inside the chimera. “Not a chance, Lysander–you’ll never catch me alive.”
Read the Report of the battle here.
Kryptmann’s lungs burned almost as much as the tears streaking down his cheeks, but still he ran. The rest of the command group was with him, he thought–he could hear their panicked breaths and hurried footfalls around him and behind him, but they were laden with heavier equipment and armor than he, and they were falling behind.
In front of Kryptmann stretched a broad, beautiful valley of tall grass and scattered trees, all spread beneath a perfect sky of aquamarine. He felt, somehow, that the universe was mocking him.
There was a hiss and an ear-splitting pop as the first bolt hit home, killing the vox man–Kryptmann could tell from the timbre of his scream. Another shot didn’t follow for a few seconds, but when it did it killed the general with equal efficiency. “Bastards,” Kryptmann thought, “They’re taking their time with us. Emperor forbid they waste ammunition.”
Pop! Another man down. Kryptmann tried to count in his head–how many more before they got to him? His stomach churning with terror, he willed his legs somehow to pump faster. His ragged breaths were now tinged with gasps of pain.
Pop! Another garbled cry, another dead follower…
Kryptmann risked a quick, panicked look behind him. He only glimpsed five golden-armored giants, moving in perfect unison across a sea of green grass. A split second later, the arch-heretic’s hip exploded with a pop and a shower of bone-chips and blood. Kryptmann screamed and pitched forwards into the grass and rolled down the slope, limbs flopping like dead snakes.
He came to rest in a shallow gulley, facing up at the clear, perfect sky. The pain was so intense it was all he could do to breathe and moan in agony. His eyes were swallowed by the broad, blue expanse above him, and it was all he could see or think about for a long, long time. Gradually, he realized he wasn’t dead. There was the briefest moment of hope, but then he remembered something. Something very important.
The Astartes didn’t miss a kill shot unless they meant to.
Kryptmann waited, gasping in pain, until he felt his doom approach. Lysander’s heavy steps made the ground shake a full minute before he appeared over him, the Captain’s huge, scarred face looking down upon him like a god sitting in judgment. Kryptmann managed a smile and grunted, “Come to gloat?”
Lysander’s voice was as cold as winter itself. “I promised you when this began that I would kill you with my own hands, wretch.”
“You…you don’t intimidate me, you oaf. You…you mindless stooge…” Kryptman growled.
Lysander planted a huge, armored boot on Kryptman’s chest. “I always keep my promises.”
“You’re nothing but a servant. I…I was a god amongst men!” Kryptman managed, spitting blood through his teeth.
Lysander shook his head very slowly. “No, you were but a man. A man among rats.”
A moment later, the Captain’s golden gauntlet descended, and Kryptman lost sight of the sky.
Author’s Note: What follows is some of the campaign storyline for a Warhammer 40K RPG I ran last year–the whole thing worked out wonderfully, actually–and I just thought I’d include this here for fun. If running your own 40K RPG, feel free to use it yourself, if you like. No infringement of Games Workshop’s copyright is intended.
++Attention Lord Inquisitor, OrdoDacia++
+Even a Man Who is Nothing May Still Offer His Life+
My Lord Orsino,
In accordance with your wishes I have herein compiled a complete overview of the Lustborn Heresy, so that future Ordo operatives may know the signs and respond accordingly. Following the completion of this report, I will have myself mind-scrubbed to remove the taint of such knowledge from my soul. Should you wish to access it, only you will possess the knowledge of its whereabouts.
With Loyalty Always,
Hathbront Markuse, Savant
It is likely that the precise origins of this wretched cult will forever remain unknown, but this much can be authenticated. In the early part of 797.M41, a vessel of xeno origin—possibly Eldar—was found derelict close to Listening Post 44872-AF on the Octavian Frontier. An interceptor squadron, led by the Lunar-class cruiser INS Vigilance and supported by INS Merciless, boarded the vessel, expecting some kind of xeno trickery. The small crew of the xeno ship was reported as dead upon arrival, though later certain interviews with the Vigilance’s boarding team contested that fact (they insisted they were forced to engage hostiles—see report 777320). In any event the ship was declared secure and it was Captain Gethamy’s decision to scuttle it in deep space.
It may seem odd that this action indicated the start of one of the most dangerous heresies in recent history, given the relative simplicity of it, but one important detail must be indicated. The medical officer aboard the Vigilance was none other than Kryptman Gore himself (see POI file 1848301-K8). It is suggested by a number of our augurs and analysts that Gore managed to acquire some kind of alien biologics that enabled him to later create the Luster-V strain. This again merely reinforces the importance of careful =I= involvement and investigation into all xeno contacts, no matter how routine.
The archheretic Krytman Gore was born on Helica II into a wealthy mercantile household in 758.M41. He excelled at academics and was admitted to the venerable SaturnineUniversityin 780.M41, where he studied chemistry and medicine. Graduating top of his class, he took a post in the Imperial Navy as a medical orderly, midshipman rank. His service record is exemplary, with his superiors lavishing praise upon the young officer. This, in and of itself, seems suspicious, but it must remain suspicions—the war did a good job of making sure none of our operatives were able to interview those who knew him. The Vigilance was lost with all hands in its initial action against the traitor fleet in 814.M41 near Cordobo.
Gore left the Emperor’s service in 800.M41 and seems to have moved to Hasturia to take up private medical practice. We strongly suspect this move was not happenstance. Given what followed, it seems obvious that Gore already had a plan in mind and Hasturia met with his specifications.
Whether Kryptman Gore was inspired or assisted by xenotech or whether he was, instead, a chemical and biological genius, the end result is the same. Gore wasn’t practicing medicine on Hasturia to serve the populace, but rather using his medical practice as a guise for his medical experiments. We have recovered intermittent reports from the local Magistratum in Hanburg (Gore’s city of residence) that record accusations of malpractice and malfeasance levied against Gore by patients. It is unknown what became of these accusations—clearly very little. It is possible he was fined and lost substantial portions of his income and personal wealth. This, of course, did not deter him.
What Gore was working towards was a version of mind control in chemical or biological form. It is probable that he had a number of failed attempts at this, hence the complaints and subsequent fines. Still, he was learning. This experimentation, in all probability, took until 805.M41 before a finished product was ready. This biochemical substance is now known as Luster-V.
The full Mechanicus report on the chemical structure of Luster-V can be found in archival report #CC8309961. In brief, it is a retroviral agent that radically alters hormone production in the body. Once exposed to a significant quantity of the substance, the victim is soon overcome with a feeling of quasi-orgasmic ecstasy as the body produces endorphins at a incredibly accelerated rate. The body then imprints this production of endorphins on a particular activity—that being whatever activity the victim is engaged in at the time of the drug’s activation. The victim is then chemically dependent upon the performance of that activity in order to produce endorphins of any kind. In essence, they are addicted to whatever it is they have been imprinted to do. One can immediately see the terrible and sobering effects such a drug would have in the hands of a power-mad heretic. To make matters even worse, Luster-V is permanent and self-replicating within a person’s system and can be passed down (in an inert form) to any offspring, allowing Gore and, later, the Chem Lords, to execute near-perfect control over a population thus afflicted.
Though tales of horror and mayhem are of little worth to formal reports, I feel it is necessary to point out the horrific results of a population infected with Luster-V. During the scourging of New Coplia, front line units reported hordes of emaciated, half-naked civilians imprinted as manual laborers running into crossfires to dig trenches in areas already overrun by Imperial forces. Elsewhere, we discovered women who had been imprinted during the act of childbirth serving as little more than horrifying breeding slaves, doomed to continually seek impregnation or suffer oft-fatal withdrawal symptoms. I need not mention, of course, the so-called Lustborn Elite—child soldiers imprinted on violence and warfare used as shock troops, commandoes, and even human shields against our forces.
As of this writing, there is nothing short of extensive gene-therapy that can reverse the effects of someone affected with Luster-V. Those actually ‘Lustborn’ (those who inherited the chemical from a parent) are beyond help. It is the stated recommendation of this report that they be put to death whenever found. It is both an act of mercy and the erasure of a profanity against the Emperor’s Light.
+The Corruption of Hasturia+
Of course, the full horror of Luster-V would not manifest itself for many years and, to the great regret and shame of the Ordo, its presence was not detected until it was far too late. This is, presumably, because Kryptman Gore was not so foolish as to begin imprinting people in obviously deranged ways. He must have worked with great subtlety, securing the dependence of various government ministers and underworld kingpins upon something only he could provide (such as placebo-effect sugar pills, for instance) by infecting them with Luster-V. It is hypothesized that these individuals, unaware of precisely why they needed Kryptman so much, soon began to depend upon him.
Hasturia was, of course, an ideal place to build a base of power. As a venerable agri-world that had been slowly growing its industry and urban centers throughout the 8th century M41, it was poised to become the next superpower in the Dacia Subsector as Aquilonia and Helica gradually faded with the tapping out of their resources. The prevalent cultural mood of Hasturia was energetic, optimistic, and forward-thinking. Government ministers were usually open to new ideas and radical new methods of governance and research and, therefore, had =I= agents and informants looking in a hundreds of directions at once. There was little chance we could have picked Kryptman Gore’s very quiet scheme for planetary domination out from among the many other, louder, and more flagrantly heretical activities of some of his fellow citizens (refer to reports 778012 through 779592 and their corresponding POI files).
Thus, Hasturia at this juncture was a balance of both agriculture and industry, with a population not so large as to be unwieldy for control but large enough to represent a good starting point for a larger, more widespread insurrection. We theorize that Gore knew this all too well, and chose Hasturia intentionally for his purposes. Regardless, however, of whether such theories are true or not, the fact remains that, at some point before 812.M41, Kryptman or his representatives had secured control of the top levels of the entire planetary government and had a firm grasp on the underworld and criminal element, as well.
Subtle and important shifts in Hasturian society, which had been happening throughout the early 9th century M41, picked up speed with Gore and the now Lust-addicted planetary leaders calling the shots. Recreational drug use skyrocketed, while crime simultaneously dropped to almost nothing. This indicates that there was a tight union between the underworld and the planetary governor, Ernest Falking, which was, no doubt, orchestrated by Gore. As society became progressively more debauched, we presume Luster-V continued to be distributed, and more people were made slaves to its will.
At some point during this process, Gore lost sole control of his creation, though we cannot say whether this loss was involuntary or rather another stage of his plan. Various government ministers saw what was happening and, presumably pondering the implications, evidently decided they wanted more than they had, and that Gore’s chemical mastery coupled with their ambition could provide it.
+The Cordobo Ambush+
Gore and the new leaders of the insurrection—later dubbed the Chem Lords—knew, and rightly so, that any action against the Imperium was doomed to failure without naval support. The timeline of when and how, exactly, the Traitor fleet was formed is not wholly known. Clearly some agreement with the Great Enemy was made—indeed, it is very likely a taint of the Ruinous Powers was evident from the very start of this process. In any event, a renegade fleet of considerable size was amassed in secret somewhere beyond the confines of the Hasturia system. The fact that there is no intelligence to indicate the details of this gathering of Enemy naval power can be partially attributed to the increased frequency of Eldar raids upon shipping in the subsector (see below), though it still exists as a stain upon the diligence of both the Imperial Navy and the Ordo.
The existence of the ‘Glorious Fleet’ and, indeed, the very first shots of what the Hasturians would soon be calling ‘The Glorious Insurrection’, manifested in a devastating raid upon the naval base at Cordobo in 812.M41. A battle group of two battleships, 15 cruisers, and no fewer than 80 smaller ships struck with remarkable coordination. Though a gallant defense was mustered and, thanks to the heroic actions of then-CommodoreMyraAtkin, the Cordobo base was not totally destroyed, loyalist naval power was struck a devastating blow. Nine ships of the line were irrevocably lost while another seven sustained crippling damage. There was also extensive damage done to the repair docks and command center. Though Cordobo would survive the war, it would be almost a decade before it was back to full operating capacity.
+The Lustborn Insurrection+
Much has been made of the military campaigns of the past 29 years, and it is not the purpose of this report to reiterate military history. Suffice to say that the Lustborn Cult wasted no time in consolidating its power and mustering together an army while its new fleet struck with devastating swiftness. As the subsector marshaled itself for a counterattack, many minor systems around Hasturia found themselves at the mercy of the traitor fleet.Cordobacontinued to sustain raids and the Stygian system was blockaded. War was joined, first naval and then ground forces got involved.
The Lustborn Cult used and, to the extent that it still exists, uses chemical agents and psychotropic drugs extensively in its forces. They are crazed and fanatical, often frothing at the mouth in frenzy and, one presumes, enjoyment. Though their tactical discipline was universally poor, their enthusiasm for their work was undeniable and the Chem Lords knew what they were doing. A stalemate, both naval in the space surrounding Hasturia and on the ground in Stygia, was soon underway. The war would grind on this way for fifteen years.
For reasons known only to their perfidious minds, the treacherous Eldar used the war as an opportunity to sow chaos across the Dacia Subsector. They made a habit of raiding convoys and attacking outposts, both Imperial and Heretical, for no apparent purpose other than to cause destruction and death. Most analysts agree that, were it not for Eldar ‘involvement’, the Lustborn Insurrection would likely have been contained in half the time necessary and many millions of lives would have been saved.
Many theories have been posed regarding the Eldar purpose for these attacks, but this analyst believes such speculation to be idle. It is enough that the Eldar hate us and, at heart, are cowardly and mercurial. It was for their sport and enjoyment that they became so engaged in the war and nothing more. Their motivations are alien, and we ought not waste time ascribing their actions logical purpose.
It is, then, with great luck that Admiral Atkin was able to finally draw the balance of the Eldar forces into a battle around the Bonner system that resulted in a stunning victory for humanity. This point—822.M41—is widely considered to be a turning point in the war. This is also the year that the Imperial Fists and White Scars Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes became involved in the conflict, finally breaking the stalemate on Stygia and spearheading the Imperial attack against Hasturia itself.
+Victory On Hasturia+
As of this writing, all conventional Hasturian and, by extention, Lustborn military power has been utterly defeated. Their fleet has been scuttled or captured, their armies have been crushed, and their capacity to make war has been razed, purged, and sundered. The Imperial Fists, with their typical enthusiasm, continue to operate on the planet’s surface, purging every last stronghold of the heretical cult with fire and blood.
Kryptman Gore is dead at the hands of none other but Captain Darnath Lysander of the Imperial Fists, his body pulped into little more than a bloody paste. All attempts at a post-mortem interview have failed, and with him dies much information about the Lustborn cult that would have been useful to us. A complaint has been lodged with the Fists’ Chapter Master, and it will no doubt be ignored.
As the above may indicate, our victory may have been too complete. All of the Chem Lords are dead, either killed in action with our forces or by their own hands. Most of the secondary tier of the Lustborn government is also dead or missing, though some of them do reside in our custody and are undergoing interrogation. In the chaos surrounding the siege of Hasturia, it is possible if not likely for elements of the enemy to have slipped through our blockade only to infiltrate other systems in the sector. Indeed, given Kryptman Gore’s apparent foresight and attention to detail, it is possible sleeper cells already exist on other worlds and have existed for some time. There is intelligence gathered on Aquilonia IV and elsewhere to support this possibility, and operatives are currently investigating. We may have stamped out the fire, but the embers are still hot.
Furthermore, the cost of the war has been high. Nearly three decades of all-out war has left a great mark upon the subsector. Stygia and Hasturia are absolute ruins—billions dead, nearly all urban centers ruined, infrastructure all but destroyed—while numerous lesser worlds underneath Lustborn authority have been significantly damaged. Refugees have been pouring into Helica II and Aquilonia IV for years now, stressing their already fragile planetary economies to the breaking point. Even comparatively remote worlds, such as Bonner and Vaskeri Prime have felt the pinch, with their planetary production quotas rising by up to 33% to meet increased demand for comestibles. The damage to our own military units is, of course, extensive as well. The navy is at a little over a third of its strength in 821.M41, and a huge proportion of most planet’s PDF are deployed on Stygia, Hasturia, or its environs, leaving much of the subsector relatively susceptible to attack. We have been fortunate that the Octavius frontier has been quiet for the past few decades. This cannot remain the case for much longer—greenskins are not known for their attention spans, and their notice will stray back our way eventually. When it does, I pray to the Emperor that our armies have regained their strength, or we are all lost.
The Ordo Dacia is engaged in a subsector-wide sweep of all populated systems to root out any and all remnant of the Lustborn Cult wherever it is found. Inquisitors and their Interrogators are encouraged to track the trade of illicit drugs, pay attention to chemists and medical personnel in particular, and to keep an eye out for any locals behaving as though in the thralls of Luster-V. Due to the cell-structure of these groups, only the leaders are of any worth in interrogation. All adherents to any cult, no matter how fledgling, are to be put to death and their leaders captured for further questioning.
Vigilance is key. The cult is nearly destroyed, that much is certain, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels. As the rest of the sector attends their victory parades and declares their holidays, our operatives must have our eyes open and our wills girded for their task that still lies before us. We failed in stopping this cult before it became a danger; we must not fail in stamping it out now that it is on the run.