‘Corruption’: Pre-Heresy Death Guard Fluff
Servos ground to a halt as the rust bit deeply into his power armour. The pure marble of the MK III plate had already been pocked and marred by the campaign on Lymphyss prime, but now rust-fissures wound their way up his arms, like strangling vines. The Astartes aimed a burst of bolt-fire at the nearest clutch of Percutiater. The twisted beasts capered about him as his gauntlet refused to obey the simple impulse; kill he commanded, but still they danced wreathed in pestilence.
Gyrlorn, line captain of the Death Guard, roared in frustration as he cast his useless bolter to the ground. The swampy morass around his knees swallowed the phobos pattern bolter as he made to draw the ancient Terran long-sword. Armour plates flaked and cascaded away as he struggled to close with the twisted abominations. The Percutiater were daemons. Gyrlorn was the strongest proponent of the Imperial Truth but he could not deny what he had seen. The corpses of the fallen, bloated and foul, possessed by witch-light had risen from bogs and swamps across this death-world. Compliance of this back-water hole had fallen to the 3rd great company of the Death Guard and they had not shirked from their duty. Their expedition fleet had come across a world seemingly teeming with human life. Planet-fall had shown it to be a sensor ghost. Nothing had lived on this world for millennia. A siren world. It lured our ships onto its rocks and now it sought to consume us. Gyrlorn would not let his company be feasted on by the parasites that called this world home. With a roar of twisted metal he finally reached the closest of the enemy. His sword split the Percutiater in two, slippery ropes of rotten entrails fell into the swamp with a wet plop.
Gyrlorn stared in disbelief as his long-sword warped and twisted before his eyes. A weapon that had served him through a hundred campaigns was now nothing more than a blackened and ruined spar of steel. A vox click broke the morose silence.
‘Captain, my armour has seized. I cannot move.’
Gyrlorn acknowledged the words of his brother Sanctus.
‘I am moving to support.’ Gyrlorn placed one foot in front of another, cursing his armour’s machine spirit for not being able to fight off the corruption that poured into its joints. Sanctus’ signal was weak, his armour obviously heavily damaged. ‘Hold brother. I am almost with you.’ A scream broke across the vox network. Acknowledgements were being called back and forth between squads. It was Sanctus.
Last known pict of Seventh Squadron, captured by servo skull
The marine was frozen in the quagmire. The rust suffusing his armour anchoring him to the spot. His helm had been torn from his skull and a Percutiater was embracing him. Gyrlorn watched as the beast inserted a spiked tongue into the flesh of the marine’s neck. It pulsed and quivered as it pumped eggs into his brother’s body.
‘Sanctus….Brother…’ The beast withdrew its spiked appendage, its maw splitting in a horrific grin as it capered away from the new threat. A buzzing scratched at the inside of Gyrlorn’s skull.
‘He is our brother now.’ The captain vomited into his helmet. The sudden and nauseating intimacy of the cranial intrusion made his head spin. He clutched the spar of twisted metal as Sanctus approached him, the flesh at his neck was quickly mortifying. Flies burst from the wound.
‘This can not be. The Imperial Truth…’ The scratching returned,
‘Imperial lies Gyrlorn, son of Mortarion. Your gene-father knows the truth. He has seen beyond death.’ The Captain shook his head.
‘You know nothing of Mortarion. He is a favoured son of the Emperor. He is pure. He would have nothing to do with this madness.’
‘You do not see as we do. We see beyond the veil of time. Your lord will stand before the gates of Terra reborn in the light of pestilence.’
Gyrlorn rammed the twisted spar into the heart of his former brother. Thick black blood oozed from the sucking chest wound. It seeped into the cracks in the Captain’s armour as his brother crumpled into the festering swamp.
Gyrlorn dropped the ruined sword and clutched his helmet as the buzzing intensified.
‘You have ended the life of a brother. This action will echo throughout the galaxy. You know that the Emperor’s truth is a lie.’
‘Sir, the Percutiater are sinking into the swamp.’
‘Confirm.’ The captain growled. The black ooze had seeped into the cracks in his armour and sealed it against the creeping rust. Vox chimes confirmed the withdrawal of the forces that assailed them.
‘I’m signalling full withdrawal. All units fall back to rally point Sigma-1. Thunderhawk pick up en route.’
‘You are chosen, Gyrlorn. We called you here as we have your brothers Typhon and Grulgor half a galaxy away. You have taken the life of a brother, never forget that, betrayer.’
As the Captain stepped onto the holo-imager pad he could not help but reflect on the import of what he had seen. This had all been for him; a message. He had expunged all records of the warped-world. Sanctus’ sacrifice would not be remembered by the legion, but his name would always be remembered by Gyrlorn, carved upon his new blade, to mark the moment his eyes were opened.
Two holographic projections flickered into life.
‘Brothers.’ He bowed in respect of their rank. ‘We have much to discuss.’ Grulgor let out a derisive snort.
‘We will have all the time in the galaxy, the Warmaster calls our legion to the Istvaan sector.’
‘The whole legion?’ Gyrlorn asked incredulous.
‘Yes.’ Boomed Typhon, ‘it begins.’
A sense of longing surged from his armour, the black seams pulsing with infernal light. Gyrlorn’s features split into the thinnest smile as the word buzzed around his skull.
‘Betrayer.’ It whispered.