Deep in the bowels of the planet, in the heart of the Necron command center, the rumble of distant explosions shook the floor and disturbed millennia-old dust that rained down from the vaulted ceiling above.
The cryptek known as Aubastet stood unmoving. The dust was insignificant, and his usual temptation to rankle his master with subtle jibes was carefully under control.
His master was in a foul mood, as evidenced by the severed head of a minor lord who had challenged an enraged Agamunzu, overlord of the Dryillian Regency.
The towering overlord stood utterly still, the green glow of his eyes focused on the decapitated body at his feet.
“How bitter is the taste of defeat,” Agamunzu whispered, his voice barely audible as another explosion thundered in the distance.
“And to be defeated by such primitive creatures . . . mere apes.”
It wasn’t clear to Aubastet whether his master was talking to himself—or deliberately sharing his thoughts with the dozens of lords and court officials who stood waiting for their master’s orders,
“How can this be? Our warriors are without fear. Our weapons are beyond the understanding of the primitives. Yet these apes countered every move we made, stood against every attack we launched. It is inconceivable that this failure occurred.”
The fault lies with you, my lord and master, Aubastet thought to himself. You commanded the army. You are responsible for this debacle.
A hint of anger entered the cryptek’s thoughts. It was a surprising sensation, giving that Aubastet had seldom felt emotion since his biotransference so many eons ago.
Defeat still tastes bitter, he thought. How fascinating.
Agamunzu was still muttering aloud.
“I remember the War of the Gods,” the overlord said. “I remember our battles against the Old Ones. Has our greatness fallen so low?
Of course, it’s fallen, you fool, Aubastet thought. Our warriors are little more than automatons, and even our leaders have suffered intellectual degradation during the Long Sleep.
The cryptek’s thoughts were interrupted as Agamunzu’s voice suddenly rose in volume and ferocity.
“Enough!” Agamunzu roared. “Our army is broken, and the war on this planet is lost.”
“It is time to regroup. Over the eons, our reanimation protocols have been damaged, and we struggle to awaken the millions of warriors we need to retake the worlds that these apes have seized over the eons.”
“So we must conserve our forces. We cannot afford to squander what warriors we have in an attempt to hold this pathetic world. Our tomb worlds are vulnerable. We will withdraw. We will begin a series of raids and spoiling attacks to keep the apes on the defensive . . . to force them to disperse their forces to defend their people, so we do not have to defend ours.”
Logical, Aubastet thought, relieved that his master’s intellect still showed some of the strategic mastery that he’d shown in the distant past.
The tone of Agamunzu’s voice suddenly changed. It was a tone that had always set a shiver through Aubastet. It was a voice that promised a revenge of the most horrible nature.
“”We will also study these Space Marines,” he said. “They are not like the lesser humans. Their actions suggest a greater intellect and a ferocity that I’ve only seen in the greatest of predators.”
You can almost hear a smile in this voice, Aubastet thought.
“We will learn the weaknesses of these Space Marines,” Agamunzu said. “We shall learn what they most fear. We shall learn what they most desire. We shall discover their weaknesses, their vulnerabilities, and then we will have our revenge.”
Despite the logic algorithms that had replaced his emotions, Aubastet felt like cheering. Defeat is bitter. But it also fueled hate. And hate was one emotion that every Necron could still feel.
For the first time in weeks, Aubastet felt a glimmer of anticipation. We will return to this world one day, he thought. And every human that infects this world will burn.
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Categories: Tophet Campaign
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