I'm not dead, I've been busy.
As is the way of things, being things and all, they do stuff. Stuff that things do, such as get in the way, demand attention and general thing related activities.
Anyway, below is a selection of short stories I was partially forced to write by way of commission. Said commission being food and shelter, a good a reason as any.
The Winds of War
"More come every day" in and out, in and out the nimble fingers of Black-Rat went. In and out with his needle and thread.
"We are few and they are many" the wound around Mountain-King's eye was deep, but the heat of the blast sealed off most of the bleeding. Now was the simple matter of sewing the remnants of the eye-lids together.
"Our spirit is strong, but we need aid. We will not have the spirit of the Great Hive defiled by these outsiders, these thieves" it was done, and according to the traditions of their tribe those that suffer and speak not will heal, for to suffer is to be alone and to be alone is to commune with Sleepy Mound. This sacrament could not be ignored.
"It is time to wake Sleepy-Mound..."
There is Sunshine in my heart
Imagine a planet, floating around a white sun. You see it as a pale brown marble spinning through space, a thick atmosphere holding in what little moisture it has.
As you approach closer you can see beneath the clouds, the stinking, dark clouds of pollution. The wind-swept ash wastes expand below you forever in all directions, an infinity broken only by the massive forms of the Hives, Hive Primus and Hive Secundus.
You turn towards the massive, sky-tearing pinnacle of Hive Primus, the massive monstrosity of man and metal that it is, and descend.
Descend, through the decadent heights of the upper hive, through the belching smoke stacks of the hive city itself, into the dripping depths of the underhive.
Flow now, as the human sludge you will become, to the lowest point. Flow to the forgotten extremes of the hive below the earth. Find, almost forgotten behind mountains of refuse, seas of toxic waste and miles of disused tunnels, a settlement perched on a precipice of darkness.
This town, if you could call it that, looks much like the refuse surrounding it; a pile of wood and metal arranged so that those within can keep those without as such.
Enter the hole. This is the forgotten mines, once the source of a thriving ore industry now nothing more than a cursed hole. And yet people still come, following rumours of treasures, technologies that ask great prices, prices that would save one from this hole, this hell. A price that keeps this small settlement, this Runners Watch, alive.
But then there are those who want nothing to do with this trade. They come for another reason. They hear whispers from the vents, carried on a cold wind with an unknown source deep beneath the hive, it speaks of loneliness and it speaks of surrender; it speaks of a way to free yourself from the pain of existence.
These people come and they enter the mines. Some fall foul of the natives, some get lost, some come running and screaming out of the tunnels, careening through the settlement as those more sane watch on at the towns name-sake.
There are some, however, that stay...
They are with the Emperor now
Bul sat in tranquil contemplation upon the marble floor of the temple. Before him stood the partially destroyed and entirely vandalised statue of a forgotten saint, no doubt a great comfort for the long gone miners. Today he served to keep the leader of the Resplendent Hand of His Most Divine Emperor company in his solitude.
The floor was, as usual, painfully cold. He enjoyed the numb feeling, the gradual creeping ache. It reminded him that he had survived another day, dodged another slug. In these times, in this place, it was no mean feat.
Today he felt especially grateful. For today he had been simultaneously blown up and shot. True, he had lost three fingers, but he trusted that the Emperor would guide his sword to his enemies. It was quite apparent that he was meant for great things; an un-fated man would have died many times over in his shoes. If not skinned by the degenerate scum that live in these wind-swept mines, then shot by the degenerate scum that call Runners Watch home. Two paths to an identical destination.
Surrounded by blasphemy and filth, he would stand against all that would halt his mission. He had made his presence known and shown he could not fall. The Emperor would not allow it.
Recovering from his reverie he looked at his mauled hand, it's missing fingers, with dark intent.
"My purpose will manifest. After all, I have many more where these came from"
Get Out of My Tunnels!
The Wakener stood with his eyes closed, his hands spread to his sides, gently feeling the air rush through them "The wind is calm. We will claim no aid from the great hive this day"
"Then we shall take this victory alone" Mountain King stared off into the darkness, seemingly transfixed by some distant sound, "They return, as they always do. The painted men... they do not learn"
As his eyes opened, the Wakener looked at Mountain King, looked at him not seeing what everyone else saw. He did not see the large man, his raven hair flecked with the signs of age, he saw something else, something that none without the gifts of Sleepy Mound can see, "The wind speaks low... it will not aid us, but it will not impede us. Ambush them. Cut of the head and the whole diseased snake will die. Kill their leader"
"As the Great Hive wills it" he whispered.