Beyond our universe exists another realm: It is a place of strange energies and infinite dimensions; a place where the very laws of nature are inconstant and mutable. It is a place of promethean creation and unbridled entropy; a furnace of creation and a maelstrom of destruction. It is a place of ideals, of dreams and of emotions; and of corruption, nightmares and insanity. This other place has many names; the Warp, the Empyrean, the Immaterium, the Great Beyond, the Spirit World, the Dreamlands, the Abys, Hell, to name but a few. But to those that know it best it is simply:
The Realm of Chaos.
It is where starships must go if travellers wish to cross the void between the stars without taking lifetimes to reach even their closest stellar neighbours. It is the place from which psykers – humans gifted with preternatural powers of the mind – draw their power. It is – some philosophers and priests claim – the place the dreaming mind touches upon when we sleep, and where the souls of the departed go after death.
This other place is also home to strange forms of life and patterns of thought that are utterly alien to Man. Most are little more than beasts that swim through the endless depths of the Immaterium, feeding off the wild energies of the Warp. Others are predators who prey on others of their kind; primordial and dangerous, but mercifully mindless beyond base animal cunning and killer instinct.
But there are those who dwell on the other side that are different from their primeval kin; monstrous creatures of brutal intelligence and pure malevolence. Consumed by an insatiable hunger they desire nothing more than to cross over into our world and feed upon the lifeblood and raw emotions of Mankind. They are:
The Daemons of Chaos.
From the beginning it had known it was different. The others had either been docile and oblivious, or ravenous monsters possessing only the basest of bestial instincts. Even the larger, more intelligent ones lacked true purpose; beyond preying on their lesser kin they craved nothing, thought nothing. But it was different; it had this gaping hole inside that could not be filled.
A singular thought occurred to it:
I hunger, therefore I am.
For ages it swam the oceans of the Empyrean before it became aware of the other side. There, just out of reach, beyond an accursed barrier of orderly natural laws lay the lands of honeyed succour. Endless fields of sweet nectar; the narcotics of pure emotions and the rapturous energies of life.
Slowly it pieced together the lore of this other place; it was indeed possible for one such as it to cross over and feast. Not an easy task, but others of his kind had done it and the feat could be repeated.
But try as it might it found no way through; every time it tried the way was barred, one way or the other.
It had hungered for an eternity before it finally had its chance. A tiny bubble of that other place it could not reach, drifting aimlessly upon the Empyrean tides in the wake of a monstrous tempest. It approached the bubble in high spirits; it had learned from another wanderer that the bubble was adamantly strong and utterly impervious, but that sometimes a tiny crack could be found.
It was not really a patient being, for it desired nothing more that instant gratification, but the long ages had made it nothing if not persistent. There, finally; a tiny flaw in the bubble! Barely large enough to slip through, and existing so briefly it might as well not have been there at all. But it was enough. Through the crack it went and on the other side wonder awaited: A veritable fountain of emotion; raw fear, desperate hope, pure anguish, prolonged suffering, acute pain, bleak hopelessness – so many flavours to taste!
This magnificent cacophony of activity and mirth emanated from the strange little creatures that resided at the centre of the bubble, huddled together inside a sarcophagus of inert reality. Already it could hear their minds crying out, speaking in unfamiliar tongues, conveying exotic and exhilarating information about the wonders of the other side: The things inside were Men travelling through the Warp aboard a Voidship, hoping to reach another World upon which to settle. Its interest in the other side grew only greater – as did its hunger.
Well inside it sought to find a host that it could possess, for it knew that this was an essential part of any expedition into that other place. It had – at no small cost – bargained away this lore from the Keeper of Secrets, the wisest of its kind. Without a host it would not be able to exist in the physical universe for very long.
The hull of the stranded voidship proved an unanticipated difficulty; even the raw energies of entropy would take too long to eat through metres of battle-steel and warding circuitry. Getting turned back now was unacceptable; such an opportunity as this might never come again, not even from one as long-lived as it. A little trial and error saw it finding a way through; altering its form to become a form of energy that existed out of phase with the structure of the Man-Ship.
It manifested in the depths of the voidship, taking on a shape more conductive to possession; a semi-translucent spectre of hellish fire and hoarfrost, of fanged tentacles and devouring lamprey-mouths. The Man-Things grew even more frantic when they realized it was among them. This only added to its already insatiable appetite. Was there really no end to the wonders of this other place?
A few fought back, but it mattered not; none possessed the unflinching will or the means required to fight a hell-spawn made of nothing but hunger, frost and flame. Others fell to the floor, insane with fear; morsels to be snacked upon in passing or left for later feasting. Most ran; they could run, but there is no hiding in the cold tomb that is a voidship lost at warp.
After the first spree of mayhem it remembered the words of the Keeper; possession is nine tenths of a successful manifestation. Focusing its efforts it stopped slaying and started possessing. The first couple of attempts went awry; the bodies fell apart before it could fully assert itself. Other bodies it tried to wear were hacked apart, blown to pieces or burned to cinders – the little flesh-things had rallied and now extruded a euphoric admixture of fear and courage.
This was much more difficult than it had anticipated. Had perhaps the Keeper left out a few of the secrets of successful possession? It could feel its form starting to come apart, its energies leaking away into the waiting Immaterium: Anger arose like a sudden warp-storm; it had been deceived! With anger came new purpose and for a while it clung to existence with sheer fury. Finally it got it right; it came across a particularly welcoming mind and this time it slid home, like a hand into a glove!
It feasted. It gouged on flesh and blood. It devoured souls. It draped itself in skin and bone. Hundreds of Man-Things fell before it, each a unique and delicious treat. Still it hungered. It fed some more. Hundreds became thousands. Their fear was think and heavy now, a sweet syrup that slowly but surely filled the black hungering pit. This was life the way it was meant to be lived; a true body walking the true universe, doing what it willed, feeding as it pleased.
Then the unthinkable happened; the sack of flesh and blood that was its new body somehow found the strength of will to banish it back into the Warp.
Impossible! Unthinkable! Inexcusable! Oh how it raged at its own sudden impotence.
As the hunger grew anew it contemplated only one thing; to return…
Edited by Green Knight, 24 November 2013 - 12:42 PM.