Such aspirations had he. Such dreams, desires.
Yes, lusts indeed. Thirsts, and cravings.
The way a shriek filled and resonated in the air, vibrating, ringing. How the quality fluctuated with changes in exhaustion, hope, fear, and the relative purity of the subject’s soul.
How exhilarating to create! To give new life, and shape, sculpt, meld the flesh into something greater, while all the while composing this infinitely complex, exhilarating and invigorating symphony of the most delectable screams.
The body of an individual was such an exquisite and complex instrument – the way the nervous system connected intimately with the body, even on individual bases – the way the body shaped the nervous system’s responses. A thousand stringed harp would be a paltry substitute. Lowly, plebian in comparison.
The construction of a new body, the modification and augmentation of the flesh, to alter a living state so…
so essentially. Utterly. So beautiful – simple, complex, intricate. The body, the form unbound.
This was the final medium. This was the art of the greatest, most learned minds.
He needed more subjects. More followers. True, word had gotten out in some of the darker places in Commoragh. He was most notable as a composer, however; his glorious symphonies had filled his coffers and rebuilt bodies and souls of many a kabalite and nobleman. But he needed more. He wanted to sculpt.
That group of hellions he had …practiced on. Blessed really. That they might become such potent subjects. Coarse, though they were, there was a primal charm about them. They reeked with rage, power, greed. Animal urges. It was a thoroughly educational experience.
And when they, after those that recovered did so, took to the sky again, they were overjoyed, his vicious, feral children, to see what they were newly capable of. Ah, the joys of the creator. The sculptor.
Word would surely escape of this, yes. Some would not believe that his admittedly baroque stylings would ever serve such a rough and vulgar clientele or such utilitarian purposes, but those that did would see his ingenuity. They would realize his versatility. And even those hellions could do their part, for bringing in new subjects. Perhaps he might attract further followers. New minds. Fresh. Minds. Bodies. And he would build new bodies. He would build an army, fiercely loyal and vicious. Full of blades, beautiful. Engines, skimmers, chains. Ah, they could orchestrate surging fugues and the grandest conciertos all across a bloodied field.
But this, it seemed, would have to wait for now. Until word escaped. He would bide his time. Hellions and reavers. Skilled, feral, fast. Good for hunting. Wyches were so full of themselves. Kabals would be loyal for his previous services. For a time. And he could command a decent price in return. Savory essences. And he would build great flesh engines, to help with his orchestrations and projects, and his wracks would grow and sacrifice themselves for his purposes as he tired of them.
Ah, it was coming together now. Such hopes. Such lusts. They would come.
He would stockpile, meantime. New toys. Vehicles. Creations. The drawing board. He needed to build a few new servants. His reavers would capture some. The hellions, too, with their hooks and barbs. He would make them new again. His new flock would gather and listen and watch as he molded and sculpted his new works. They would be awful, beautiful. His new personal bodyguard. They would be so formidable. Awe inspiring. Fear inspiring. All would benefit.
New, grotesque abberant beings. Dumb, brutish, but fitted with wonderful instruments to help him build and compose. All across the field. He would need something to put them in, as well..
It would be better to first plumb his loyalties among the cabals for new, alien subjects. He would bring along his flock, such as they are, and offer his services. Yes. They would see how he had blessed his flock, and they would be impressed. Perhaps even offer commissions and prisoners in return for modifications.
He would go see Aestra Khromys of the Obsidian Rose. He had served her quite well in his regenerative capacities, and she of all Archons would appreciate the weaponry he could bring to bear. For his aid he would ask only for his hand selection of prisoners from their raids. He hoped they would encounter something violent and useful. Like Orks or Bhargesi. Or something exquisitely frail like the Tau. He knew it would likely be as simple as pathetic human villagers. But they would serve in their fashion as well. If they could find a small splinter tendril of tyranids, ahh.. that would be perfect. So fascinating. Animal, but so biologically complex. A joy upon which to experiment.
He sent one of his least valuable hellions to the aeries to send a message with the scourge. His return was of no consequence, his body part of the payment. The message would be delivered to the archon of the obsidian rose, offering his formidable services on a contract basis for a meager payment in souls and a less meager payment in live prisoners.
Soon, a scourge’s cry was heard at the entrance to his cavernous domain. The wracks brought in a single unconscious Kabalite warrior. Clearly of the obsidian rose, based on the color of his armour and his tattoos. He bade them be careful, to let him inspect the body, in case it were a trueborn, or for any clearer indication of what ought to be done with it. He passed his head close to the body, his surgically elongated cervical column craning and suspending it, inspecting the subject with eyes, nose, plucking at it with long, barbed fingers. He deftly took a small vial from the nearest wrack, and flicked a small hole in the side of the kabalite’s neck.
A twitch - Ah! Delightfully responsive. So helpless.
He caught the blood in the vial, and dripped in a solution for detection of poisons. He found a few sedatives, but nothing that would affect him or spoil the taste. He then drained half of the vial - mm. very good. Rather noble, in fact. Deep red, dark tones. Touch of salty, touch of sweet. Not trueborn.
So, this subject was to be made a weapon. A good soldier, but ultimately expendable. He had the wracks place it on the slab and restrain it.
Craning his snaking neck over the twisted wracks, he directed them in their surgeries. He would start from the top down.
Ah, the eyes. He would keep one, purely for ornamental reasons. But the other had to go. They wouldn’t do. For this however, he would have to drill out the orbital socket, widen it, supplement the optic nerve. An artificial red lens, at least twice the size of the former eye, was implanted in the new larger socket, taking up a good portion of the forehead as well. Then these jaws would have to be supplemented. He replaced many of the teeth, and the mandible - with parts from an old kroot skull he had lying around. He also fixed it that it might swing open wider, and snap shut much more quickly. There wasn’t much space for the muscles required, but he was able to carve some out. He wouldn’t have too much need of the temporal lobe anymore anyway.
Then, these foolish, powerless hands had to be replaced. He had the wracks remove the arms at the elbow, following the olecranon process. The olecranon process. A good effort on the part of the body, but not good enough. He built instead, for this weapon-to-be, a bladed forearm with a poison reservoir and a spined metal tentacle through which such poisons could run, topped with a weighted barb. Controlled by enhanced muscular signals, soldering the nerves in the right places, to ensure proper control. And stimulants, of course, to heighten his strength and ability.
The other forearm he replaced with a huge injector module, the syringe barbed and piercing. Designed to penetrate as painfully as possible. The body of the forearm was largely taken up by a reinforcing frame around a huge syringe of virulent toxins and hormones.
Now, the shoulders would have to be strengthened. Stimulant applicators and steroids were applied to the shoulders and thoracic vertebrae. This little project was beginning to come together.
The legs! He had an idea for the legs. There were a few precious tyranid bit he had laying around in stasis. He built a long, pneumatic metal claw where the ankle was, footed by hormagaunt hooves. He stretched a good amount of extra muscle down to meet it, giving it a good lockspring kick. This thing was now highly mobile. He very conspicuously did not brand this specimen with the symbol of his Sarcophyle coven. If this was indeed to be a gift, it would have to belong only to the obsidian rose.
As a final finishing touch, he added all of the extra stimulant injectors and steroids that would be necessary on all of the modified joints. He also elongated the neck to a small degree, just for fun. He enlarged the ears, and swept them back. He added muscle to the quadruceps, the humeral arm, and the chest. Finally, he laser enscribed the sigil of the Obsidian rose upon the eye lens, and carved it into chest of the beast.
What a savory gift.
What succulent twitches and spasms and screams it let forth as he worked, each involuntary muscle contraction, each whimper and shriek. Ah, he relished it. Such an exquisite specimen. He would have to thank her for the opportunity to work with such fine material. He sedated the beast, and immediately flew in his personal venom with the leaders of his hellion and reaver flocks with the beast in a hex cage in tow.
On the way there, they were beset with rival reaver and hellion gangs, as well as not few scourge, trying to steal their cargo. However, with the reaver champion’s piloting skills and the helliarch running wing, they were fought off or lost with comparative ease.
Upon reaching the primary spire of the obsidian rose, thousands of guns were trained on the vehicle, following it as it landed. The cargo growled and yelped as it touched down, gaining the attention of about half of the guns.
Haemonculus Ancient of the Sarcophyle Coven, Hybraxus Cruor, not stepping out of the vehicle, but rather raising his head from his shoulders on his long vertebral column, addressed the guns.
“My aids and I have come with a gift for the great Archon and weaponsmith Aestra Khromys of the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose. We spoke ealier, I believe.”
After minutes of waiting in front of the guns, the beast in the hex cage was getting restless and loud. The shadowfield surrounding Aestra’s personal raider shimmered and rolled back its invisible curtain. Her eyes gleamed with malice and ingenuity. She bade him follow closely. He bowed his head and obeyed. His helliarch was to keep inside of the venom, and his reaver champion was to pilot the vehicle steadily and remain a fixed distance from the raider at all times. They were led into the impossibly large building - a gossamer spire of black stone and metal, razor sharp, intricately carved, full of caverns and internal spires. Hybraxus had not realized how far away from the building he had still been, or how truly huge it was. Within the building they were led to a huge open hall, carpeted with sand. A good sized personal arena - that of course, of Khromys herself. The arena grounds were full of kabalite warriors already, spoiling for violence and bloodthirsty.
Khromys instructed Hybraxus and his aides to release the creature from the hex cage and drop it into the ring.
The hex cage was shattered and the beast found its feet. Thanks to the hydraulic and muscular leg modifications, they hadn’t fractured with the drop, and in fact the creation sprang up immediately, nearly 6 meters in the air. The stimulants injectors were pumping, and the beast was clearly enraged. It sprang at a group of kabalites, who had barely seen it coming. It crashed into them with such force that a few were knocked back - it immediately began to thrash at the kabalites with its tentacle, grabbing a larger one and savagely injecting its payload into the kabalite’s neck. He then threw the kabalite, even as it exploded in a torrent of flesh, into his brothers. They began to fire at it, but it had sprang up again to a different area of the arena, falling upon a new group, grabbing the first and biting its hand off, and then whipping it away with the barbed tentacle.
Meanwhile, Hybraxus was overjoyed. The carnage! The sounds! The beast’s perfect movements! The way it clove its way through the warriors, injecting a few, even biting them, crushing heads, leaping away!
Slash! heads rolled
Swipe! kabalites screamed as toxins coursed through them
CLANG! weapons were batted aside, and splinterfire did not even seem to deter the beast.
Hybraxus felt like roaring in triumph, egging on the beast, but he knew he must keep his composure. The helliarch and reavers were gripping the edge of the venom, in rapt attention. The beast was very good. They wanted legs like that. Could they have legs like that? Perhaps, said Hybraxus, perhaps.
Eventually, after around half of the kabalites had been dismembered, poisoned or otherwise rendered entirely harmless, Aestra raised her hand. The venom lowered and Hybraxus fired a potent tranquilizer into the back of the beast’s head. It stumbled, balanced, and its head fell, swaying, near the center of the arena. Hybraxus then rode his venom up to Khromys’ raider, and tossed her the sedative/stimulant controls for the beast.
“I haven’t muddled itsmind too thoroughly,” he said, “It will still recognize you as its leader.”
“You’ve made me a formidable weapon, Haemonculus,” replied Khromys, as the crackle-buzz of a haywire blaster destroyed the locomotors of the venom, and it crashed to the arena below, “But how formidable are you?”
The helliarch acted fast, leaping onto his board, and grabbing the Hybraxus by the empty collar. He caught the reaver champion by the ankle with the grappling claw his right arm had become, and deposited them on the floor of the arena.
The beast began breathing harder. Pawing at the ground. Its natural eye wide - the pupil only pinpoint by by now. Hybraxus could see the stimulant injectors pumping away. The helliarch and the champion moved to protect him, but he waved them off. He had to prove to the archon that he could control or best this beast on his own.
He drew his liquifier gun, and readied his shearing arm, his special vivisecting knife, and his powered cleaver, waiting for its spring. It was a truly carnal creation, but that made it predicable. It would strike first on its own.
The beast lunged, sprinting toward Hybraxus with unrestrained rage.
Hybraxus fired at it directly with the liquefier - the beast sizzled, part of its torso melted away, but the beast was entirely undeterred. Seeing this, the Haemonculus took a defensive stance, and braced himself on his clawed feet. He fired at the beast’s legs and it sprang meters into the air, ready to hammer him down into the sand of the arena. The haemonculus floated aside, his shearing arm readied and tracking the beast’s neck. In one fluid movement, he caught the beast’s neck in shearing arms and shot the liquefier at its feet, throwing the beast into the ground. He then drew the path of the liquiefier up into the waist of the beast, and momentarily releasing the beast from its grasp, swung himself around and removed the softened beast’s legs with his cleaver, and then removed its prostheses, rendering it a gibbering impotent mass. As long as you kept your hands away from its face.
“Have you destroyed it?” asked Khromys, already at his side.
“Disabled for now, but I can fix it.” Hybraxus replied. Looking up from the sad work he’d wrought, he added “with some more material, of course.“
“I hope you can,” she said, walking away and vanishing, “we’re raiding an ork wagh for gladiators. We’ll be accompanied by the Wytch cult of the Shattered Blade. Tomorrow. You’ll be given ten prisoners of ours. I hope they are somewhat more durable than these.”
Hybraxus was indignant, but excited, and sneered at her in his mind. How dare she? The impudence. He was a genius and who was she!? Some fancy hag that made guns? But it passed, and he would have been foolish to argue in any case. Impudent or not, she was one of the more powerful Archons in Commorragh, and he’d do well to please her. Besides, he would get new playthings and he’d have to work on them all night!
Glee crept across his demeanour. He was provided with a replacement venom for his return.
He instructed his champion and helliarch to have their best rounded up and ready to go by tomorrow, and to report to him before dawn. They nodded and took off. Ah, his loyal, wonderful flock. They would be so helpful, so instrumental. He would elevate them for their service, of course.
Later that day, a heap of unconscious and beaten bodies were deposited at his coven’s entrance, heralded by the cry of several scourge and the whine of antigrav thrusters.
He bade his wracks bring them in, stretch them out, and have them arranged and restrained upon slabs. Ah, he was so looking forward to this. He surveyed his prisoners - one of our foolish craftworld brethren, 2 Orks, to his delight, 5 or so rather pathetic humans, probably civilians. There was one very strong looking human. Good frame on that one. And finally, ah, a tyranid hormagaunt, which he would entirely strip for parts. Oh, gracious this would be fun.