This is the fluff for my army which has been rattling around in my head for years ever since Dark Eldar were re-released several years ago. 'Real life,' has meant my 'army' of a few models sits on a shelf gathering dust, where it will likely stay. But still I daydream about their story and I finally set about writing it. This is the first piece of 'creative writing' I've done since school, nearly a decade ago. So I'd appreciate any comments or critique on how I could improve. I have read it through, but if there are any spelling mistakes or places where it doesn't "flow" properly please tell me and I'll correct it. That said I hope you enjoy this first chapter.
- Objectionable Content Warnings:
Ch:1 Home Away From Home
Decius Artonis, Lieutenant of the IX regiment of the Catachan Jungle Fighters was in a very uncomfortable position. On is his knees, roots digging in, with his red bandanna pulled over his eyes, and large drops of sweat dripped profusely from his body in the sweltering heat. All this was nothing however compared to the intense irritation emanating from his arms, tied behind his back. ‘Scratcher Vines,’ they were called, one of the less harmful resident of Catachan’s infamously deadly jungles. Easily dealt with by a thick pair of gloves and a machete. It left you alone as long as you stayed clear away. If you merely brushed it however, it would sense the motion and clamp its toxic hair covered vines around anything that moved; shooting burning itchiness where it made contact with your skin. The desire to scratch at the offending sensation was nigh unbearable and the more you moved the tighter the vine had you in its grip, until you were a quivering red blotchy mess. Light permitting you would have seen the veins in Decius’ red face throbbing with the effort of not moving. Unfortunately this was not the biggest of his problems.
He jumped with a start as someone pulled his bandanna down from his eyes, he’d been concentrating so hard he hadn't heard them coming. It was one of those three fingered, blue skinned xenos Tau. This took Decius slightly by surprise. It was horribly gaunt and dressed in filthy rags. Though it was hard to tell in the all-encompassing red light, he could have sworn he saw something growing, like roots, in the creatures blue bony arms and up towards its back. Looking into its eyes there was nothing there, it was moving around but the light inside had died. The creature took a mechanical looking device from a leather bag hung over its shoulder and Decius was in no position to fight back, as the Tau clasped it over his mouth and ears. It was a small partially hollow black box, covered in wires, connected to two smaller round devices, which looked vaguely like they came from a vox-caster, over his ears. A muffled sound came from the Tau’s mouth, Decius was confused for a second before a vibration and an electronic sound came through to his ears, “Up.” It said. Quivering violently, he slowly moved one foot forward and began to push himself up, whilst trying to move his arms as little as possible and to not imagine the potential fate that awaited him. He evidently was not going fast enough as the Tau grabbed him under the armpit and hoisted him upwards onto his feet, with a strength he wouldn't have thought the short bony alien had. Simultaneously the vine around his arms wrapped tighter, forcing a cry of anguish from his mouth. This earned a jarring punch across the face and more muffled sound, this time slightly angry, from the Tau, “Silence. Follow.” Came through the translation device.
There was nowhere he could run, he had no idea where he, so Decius spat the tangy blood that had begun to drip from his lips and began walking after the creature. There was something growing across its back! Roots that went up its arms, under its rags and up its neck, ending with a leafy protrusion on the back of the Tau’s head that Decius recognised. He blinked and looked again. Recognisable by the distinctive bumpy texture and the larger green bumpy mass at the base of its stem, the Brain Leaf was one of Catachan’s more deadly perils. Unnoticed until one of its silent drone like leafy clumps floated itself onto the back of your neck and dug its roots into the nervous system. Providing the small tree with its own personal zombie, for food and protection. However the tau seemed to be in control of itself, at least on the surface. This was strange, and worrying. Decius’s already quickly beating heart picked up pace. The delusional glimmer of hope, that this all might be all right in the end, was beginning to droop. “Emperor save me,” he muttered under his breath.
Decius looked up taking the opportunity to look at his surroundings for the first time since he had arrived, being blindfolded from the moment he awoke after being knocked out. They were in what seemed to have once been a high arching corridor without any windows. Now roots, vines and leaves covered almost every surface. Only through a few small gaps could the original metallic black walls be seen amongst the flora. To his horror, multiple species from his native planet of blood sucking toxic carnivorous insects, could be seen scuttling through the foliage. He almost felt at home. The ambient chirping of insects, the sweltering heat, the enticing scent of deadly flowers. The entire setup was confusing. No buildings like this existed on Catachan, so where was he? Contemplating the matter, though it filled his heart with dread, took a tiny edge off the searing irritation in his arms. After a few minutes of navigating interior jungle, around corners through intersecting passages, the corridor opened up into a large room. Decius squinted, not being able to see through the shadow concealing the back. A low hiss emanated from within the darkness, causing the soldiers already strained heart to crank its beating up a notch. From somewhere he heard a click and lights in the ceiling flickered into life and assaulted his unadjusted eyes. Wincing he peered through the glare at what was before him and instantly wished he hadn’t. His heart plummeted, down his chest and through the floor. F***! F***, sh**, f***! The nugget of hope he had, entertaining the possibility of surviving, crumbled into dust.
An unexpected blow from behind sent him tumbling head first onto the root lattice floor, pain assailing him where the jutting out translation device came into contact with his face and a fresh wave of irritation coming from his. “Euurgh,” he groaned, twice as the noise came out again from the cuboid mouthpiece. Then came a sharp yet song-like sound from the box that Decius didn’t recognise. What, was that? He hadn’t said anything else. This earned a creepy child-like giggle from above his position on the floor. The kind from that came from the sort of child, who, upon the capture of a creature much smaller than itself, enjoys pulling it apart, first the wings, then the legs, one by one; and then squishes the thing, when the lack of any more appendages puts a barrier upon further enjoyment. Straining upwards, he took in the visage of the one who was obviously his capture. A female elder from the humanoid appearance, height and pointed ears, but, clad in a fur bikini, bone piercings and winding tattoos across her arms and legs, much more savage and tanned than any he had seen in combat. She lay like big cat, head upon one arm another hanging down, upon the upper branches of a large tree. Its branches sprouting back and up from a central trunk to form a shape like a seat, adorned with skins, furry, scaly, leathery and feathery. With a smile revealing two rows of sharpened teeth, she casually rolled off the branch and began falling to the floor.
With her long shaggy mess of green hair whipped upwards, what Decius had first taken as branches revealed themselves as an additional pair of odd arm liked appendages; joined by bark across her back. One shot out grabbing a nearby branch, which she used to twirl and tumble, almost dancing amongst the branches, with an unnerving grace acrobatically landing squarely and without a sound upon the pile of skins. If he wasn’t so Emperor damningly terrified Decius would have would have been impressed. His wonderment was short lived as she quickly shot across the floor towards him, scuttling on all fours like a humanoid insect. Halting only a foot from his face, she squatted, leant over and with the crack of a whip, snapped her fingers in the air. Shuffling in from the vine webbed shadows approached another soulless husk puppet, human in appearance. It was holding out in front it a gauntlet of bone, with large fangs for fingertips. Some sort of liquid was falling from the ends. Drip, tsssh, drip, tsssh, drip, tsssh. Small tufts of steam sprouted where the gauntlets leaky cargo dove into the floor. Quickly and efficiently the human puppet strapped bone claw gauntlet onto the eldar’s outstretched arm and retreated, its existence no longer meaningful in any way.
As one vain and lacking in subtlety admiring rings on their fingers, the still silent eldar looked over the gauntlet and tested its movement, with a slight clickety clack, then back to Decius. Her voice purred. “There is a species of snake on your planet. Small, green, unremarkable to look at. Not very aggressive. Yet its venom produces the most exquisite sensations. What do you call them?” It was hard to make out from the electronic voice coming through to his ears, yet despite the shark tooth smile, her demeanour seemed friendly; the bio-luminescent promise of an angler fish. Exquisite? What could she mean? Nothing on Catachan…..oh. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no. Oh Emperor no. “The Mercy Killer, mam,” he replied, straining his neck upwards, but from his position he couldn't see her face. Hope had foolishly decided to stick around, maybe politeness could delay the inevitable “Mercy? How novel, what does that mean?” Decius gulped. “The snake’s venom is so painful,” he gulped again, “that the bitten are always shot. Out of mercy. Mam” The Eldar laughed, once more a creepy child, “Such funny names you creatures come up with. Why ever would you do that?” This was followed by a pregnant pause before she said, “Onto the main event.” Snapping up from the undergrowth, vines lurched, lifted and grasped at him, making Decius an unwilling caterpillar in a leafy cocoon. No, no, no, no, Emperor have mercy, no, no, no, no. He wriggled in vain. The more he struggled the more it squeezed, his tomato red face was going to burst. The Eldar’s next words came out slowly. “Do you know who I am?” His eyes were now level with hers.
What could he say? He had no idea and was not in a position to think. Memories began to boil up from the bottom of his mind, his parents, old friends, comrades in arms. The cornered rat of his psyche offering a flailing last ditch attempt at protecting him, from what it knew was coming. With his compacted lungs he groaned, “…no…” As if a mask suddenly fell from her face, the smile twisted into a knotted angry scowl. A growl vibrated from her throat. A cold thumb and forefinger pulled Decius’ eyelids open. Time seemed sluggish, a single pointed claw slowly approaching Decius’ face. Closer, closer and closer still.
With a wrenching snap, time reasserted itself and the venom dripping claw pierced his skin and was dragged forcefully across his open eye. Pain sprouted, budded, bloomed and consumed his entire being.“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH,”
His body bucked and kicked against the pain. The more he moved the more his living prison squeezed until he couldn’t move at all. There was nothing he could do but scream and scream, so scream he did. A thousand deaths would have been better than this.
Not that Decius was paying attention, but his captor was happy and giggled once again. Her eyes darted around at the verdant ground. Finding what she was looking for, her un-clawed hand pounced out at a nearby beetle. The size of an eyeball, its little legs and multiple toothy mouths flayed as she held it quizzically between her long sharpened nails. Pinning its wings in place, before dropping it onto her prisoner’s wrapped body. The irritated insect shook itself, buzzing its wings in defiance before it doing as she intended and started eating. Down through the green bindings towards her victims prone body. The “Flesh Burrowers,” as she had one been told they were called, bred by paralysing their targets and then bit their way under their hosts skin. Here in a safe warm environment they would lay their eggs and subsequently perish. After three solar cycles the offspring would emerge into the body of their still living victim and run around, looking from the outside as if there were of trapped bubbles air whizzing around. Slowly they eat their birthplace before emerging into the big wide world ready to start the cycle anew. On cue the trapped monkeigh stopped screaming. It was still alive and in pain, the paralyses was merely preventing it from screaming.
Satisfied, she stood up and walked back to her arboreal throne and lay down. At a thought the vines unwrapped themselves from the prisoner’s, now limp, body and carried it over to her. Hanging it vertically, face up, by the neck and arms. Blood luxuriously dripped down his forehead, over the black translation device and onto the floor. Where it fell, flowers sprouted, the same blood red colour. Finally she had a captive audience to tell her tale too. Telling it to her underlings was pointless, they too had lived through it. She needed the cathartic sensation of divulging her story to someone new. But speaking to one who was not a member of her kabal risked exposing weaknesses and killing them afterwards would have made the whole endeavour pointless. No, this was definitely the best solution and it combined with rejuvenating waves of pain into the bargain. Settling into her cushiony skins, she regaled to the unwilling listener her tale.