An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Tim Ulbrich
Reading Time: 30 minutes
In the beginning there was darkness, and from it, a light was born.
No man can say when exactly the first star lit up, but soon after, countless more did follow.
When it had formed, or how or why, no one could say. Not even the creature itself. Only that one moment it was not, and then it was. Just a loose cloud of atoms at first, oddly organized already, but not conscious in any real way. As entropy nagged at it, it began being pulled towards a giant ball of hydrogen plasma, compressed under its own weight to a point where fusion could occur, its enormous gravity pulling it into an orbit.
While the young star grew brighter the creature began to feed–light and radiation being absorbed–gathering in more particles, and it grew. For a time unimaginable to man, that was all that happened. As it grew in complexity, ever so slowly, the random movements became deliberate. It moved closer to its star, and it spread, maximizing its energy absorption. At a certain point in time, its instinctual behaviour made way for something new.
The being learned and adapted. It began to understand what the star was that it orbited, what wavelength of radiation would yield the most energetic potential to it; and how to manipulate its orbit. It learned slowly, but there was no hurry.
There was no concept of itself, and none of time. Within a constantly fluctuating storm of solar radiation it subsisted; and after a moment of eternity, it encompassed its star. Driven only by the nagging hunger of entropy, it would continue that way, forever.
And yet, this state of being did not last. The star began to change, burning hotter and brighter. It grew. The being began to rise its orbit again, keeping away from the raging inferno of the star’s surface. It knew that a difference was there, but not its meaning. As it followed the star’s expansion, it spread ever more thin; and finally it could no longer encompass the whole star. It coalesced into a uniform mass of higher density, intent on optimizing its position.
Within an instant, the star that had been was no more. The constant struggle between the fusion reaction that caused it to expand, and its own crushing gravity, reached a tipping point. As it ran out of helium to fuse, its core hydrogen long gone, the star collapsed in on itself, approaching temperatures not seen since the beginning of time. Heavier elements began to fuse then, and the contraction halted,if only for an instant. Then, it reversed. As the implosion became an explosion, tremendous amounts of matter and energy radiated outwards. Albeit only for a short moment, the star burned brighter than its entire galaxy.
The creature was caught in the shockwave, its matter being stripped away, even as it instinctively absorbed what it could of the newly available energy. As more and more of its atoms were being stripped away, it curled up as tightly as it could. It learned what pain was, not by name, but by effect; the loss of matter and energy. And it understood the concept of death, as the end of coherence, and the ultimate loss of energy.
As it drifted away from the brightly glowing husk of its parent star, propelled by the rapidly expanding matter of its outer layers, it stayed curled up. For it did not fully understand yet what had happened. Soon the star’s light grew dimmer. And still, the creature radiated off a certain amount of energy; not by choice, but compelled by the laws of the universe.
Instinctively trying to minimize its loss, it began to reshape, until finally it formed a near-perfect sphere, making its surface area as small as could be. That way it could stay inactive. Still, light hit its surface, small groups of photons energizing its outermost layers while the feeble gravity of distant celestial masses tugged at its atoms.
It began to move towards the energy, however little it might have been, still intent on replenishing that which it had lost. It continued this way, moving from star to star. Orbiting and absorbing, expanding and engulfing, until a star began to grow. For when that happened, it departed, cautious. It had no concept of time, and still it could feel its mass diminishing within a raging inferno that had once been.
As it orbited a star, like it had a dozen before, a small part of it absorbed energy, not from the star it engulfed, but from without. The being recoiled, still weary of sudden changes.
It began to raise its orbit and made ready to depart. The energy still hit its surface. A repetitive swelling and diminishing within a certain, narrow wave spectrum agitated the outermost atoms of the creature. Nothing like this had ever occurred. The creature began to focus upon it. Then, as it had often done before, it sought to understand and to adapt, ever interested in gathering more energy.
The radiation originated from a mass orders of magnitude smaller than even the cold heaps of matter that orbited close to most stars. As it felt the gravitational tug, it realized that it was moving on a changing path, unlike the matter all around it. More and more energy began hitting the creature’s surface; its average gradient per surface area overtaking that of the star. Consequently, the creature took upon the shape of a halved ball, as wide as the beam that hit it, and began to close the distance, to further heighten the energy intake. As the little mass began to move away, the creature followed.
Still, in that line-up, the creature began to feel an increasing pull of gravity, and a rising energy intake upon its surface layers. Another star. The little mass moved into an orbit around one of the cold, spherical bodies orbiting the star, and the being followed.
In that orbit, the being registered a new energy source; its intensity overcoming the previous one. It moved closer and began to engulf the little object.
It once again registered small bursts of energy, and movement around it. It did not care. Nothing of it came even close to approaching the levels of a widening star; and therefore, it was not registered as dangerous. The creature continued to feed.
Then, change hit once again. Electromagnetic fields encompassed it, forces beginning to pull upon it in every direction. All of a sudden, the creature was being pulled apart even as it reformed; altering between unbeing and its original state, not able to break free from the powers that held it.
And suddenly, what had been was no more. Something had happened. The creature stayed, unmoving, as it wearily analysed its surroundings. It began to move, detecting amounts of gravitational attraction within itself that were incompatible with any atomic makeup it had previously consisted of. Its size had been greatly diminished, but it found that it still possessed the energies it had previously absorbed.
The creature attempted to draw back, but found that its new form was challenging to control; and so it stayed where it was instead.
It began to rapidly experiment in analysing the wave spectrums that hit its surface. Soon it found new means to observe what lay around it, expanding upon its existing senses in the process. One such newfound sense relied on small particles of pure energy, as the stars gave them off in near limitless quantities. They bounced around endlessly, reflecting off everything, and thus casting images upon its surface in small blips of absorption.
Announced by the slightest gravimetric fluctuations, something new approached. Not unlike the mass it had followed, this new thing moved on its own accord as well, travelling on thin appendages, long in relation to its overall body. An opening became visible, parts of the creature moved, and the myriad particles, which layered the cold mass-shape it resided upon began oscillating, causing a slight energy uptake where they agitated the creature’s outermost layers. It was then that the creature, still coping with its new senses, consciously realized that the mass in front of it, was significantly warmer than its surroundings. Finally, an everlasting constant awoke once again inside the creature; and it began to try and consume the energetic potential.
Shuddering, the creature recoiled as unknown impressions and concepts suddenly flooded its consciousness. The energy content was miniscule, but something else had been contained within the mass. Following its primordial instincts, the creature began to move as more masses like the first one neared it.
As always, it lived to consume.
After a hundred impression-masses had been absorbed, the creature understood the groundwork of Necrontyr culture and society, and it had gained a concept of time. It began to transmute, unconsciously taking up the form that the Necrontyr it absorbed saw in it.
The knowledge of those consumed was gathered and sorted, then drawn upon.
Ancient concepts obtained words to describe them, and the being changed forever. A few words in particular repeated themselves with regularity:
“Star-God”, “Power”, “Help”, “War”.
As it consumed on, it began to see its image in the last memories of those that came before it, and several notions linked.
Thus, the being understood that it was a Star-God, and that it had power.
It realized then how much it had gained during its transition into its new form. Its cognitive capacity had expanded far above and beyond anything it had previously been capable of understanding, and already, its own past was distant and almost half-forgotten.
And still, new things came forward to be consumed. The being began to intellectually understand emotions, but it could not relate to them, for they stemmed from the instinctual behaviour of social beings.
The Star-God was, and had always been, solitary. From the moment it formed it had had no loved ones, no offspring, nothing to bond with; and thus, concepts like pity, love, or care never formed. It knew aversion, as a reaction to obstructions and danger; and derived from that, hate.
Yet even that feeling was pale and theoretical. There was only one companion in all of time, one thing, too great even to call it an emotion; for it was a necessity fixed within the very core of its being.
No new things came. The Star-God began to move towards the place they had emerged from. Walls and doors parted effortlessly before it. It emerged upon a great square, empty, save for two things. A Necrontyr clutching a staff, and another being, its core containing much the same energy as that of the creature.
“Welcome, my kin!” it called out, its voice echoing over the square.
“More!” the Star-God demanded; yet it kept a distance between the two. From its faded past, one memory lingered. Nothing would make it disregard the destructive potential of a star’s energies so close to it.
“In time, dear brother, in time” the other went on. “First, we must accustom you to godhood amongst us; and then you shall feast as is your due. I am the Messenger, an envoy between us and the Necrontyr,” he gestured towards the thing still standing behind him.
The Star-God would have consumed the Necrontyr for what it contained, as the curiosity of its advanced cognition and the insatiable hunger of its old existence had merged. But it did not wish to approach the “Messenger”.
“Don’́t hesitate, brother; for I mean you no harm!” the “Messenger” called out. “You will soon feast more than ever before, surely this is worth a little wait. Follow me, and I will explain to you what we are, and why we are destined to rule!”
When the two beings finished their exchange, half a planetary rotation later, much had been said, and much had been learned.
The Star-God made its way towards a place of knowledge and research. It consumed some of the Necrontyr it encountered, but that was not its primary goal. The Messenger had left it with the advice to find itself a name; after explaining the Necrontyr pantheon of old, and their place within it. It did not care much for that. It did not need to impersonate some inexistant, primitive fleshling pantheon to be a god, for it simply was. Nevertheless, some questions remained.
It adjusted its size, and entered the building, all parting before it. The Messenger had explained how some Necrontyr could be useful beyond consuming; for example in the coming war against the others they hated so fervently. It cared little for that either, but their service promised more to consume in the time to come. As such, it did not absorb the Necrontyr researchers and instead commanded them to explain several things to it.
They obeyed to the best of their abilities in terrified subservience, as was their due.
Over the course of the next few hours, billions of years of trial and error from the Star-Gods previous existence gained a solid theoretical basis, as it perfected its understanding of the material realm, increasing its already formidable powers as it did so. Its last question was answered as well. When it learned that entropy was indeed an eternal constant, its name became clear instantaneously.
From that day onwards and forever more, the creature of old became Isha ́Kaddra; Him, the Endless Hunger.
Soon thereafter, a gathering came to be within an alternate dimension that only the Star-Gods could create.
More and more beings similar to Him began to gather. As the Messenger had explained, the Necrontyr were actively searching the stars for Gods to give form to; wishing for them to fight by their side in the war against the others. Those, the Messenger had explained, were long-standing enemies; at least within the Necrontyrs small-scale perspective of passing time.
Endless Hunger kept a distance to the other Gods, but he watched them carefully, for they had powers as he did. Most of them deigned not to talk to the Necrontyr in anything but orders. Others just consumed them. Names from the memories of absorbed Necrontyr were conjured up at His bidding. The Bringer of the Night, the Fear, First of the Gods. The Dragon of Silver, radiating with power far surpassing all others. From it, He kept the furthest distance. The Brightest of Flames, the Burning God, wasting energy projecting swirling flames. A swarm of many, constantly flowing and changing, splitting up and reforming. He recognized them, all but the newest. More and more Gods arrived, as the smallest began to speak:
“My Kin!” the Messenger boomed. “The time has come for us to go to war. Our slaves the Necrontyr shall fight for us, as we bring low the others and consume their essence. With them, we will make this galaxy our own, and more as well should we desire! We shall rule as Gods to all the lesser ones, for none are our equal in power!”
“NONE ARE MINE EQUAL,” the Dragon spoke; and the fabric of reality itself resonated with its words as the golden one nearly shrank to nothing before it. “I DO NOT NEED THEM. I WILL CONSUME THEM.”
The golden mite spread its arms: “Esteemed brother, I beg you to listen! As I explained to you all before, we need slaves to rule over, they are useful to us. We will consume, but we cannot take all, or nothing would be left! I have come up with a plan. You shall be able to consume the Necrontyr, and still we will make use of them. Even now, our powers grow, and soon we shall feast upon the Galaxy. I will talk to them, and you shall have your due!”
Soon after, as the other Gods observed in silence,as the Messenger came before the leaders of the Necrontyr, the Phaerons and their Silent King. It presented itself as their humble servant, and claimed that it had convinced the other Gods to help the Necrontyr in their war against the hated foe.
In their benevolence, the Star-Gods would grant them something else as well, a long-unfulfilled wish of all Necrontyr: immortality, bodies with which to win any war, and within which the Necrontyr would live on forever. They would be able to fight besides their gods, and finally vanquish the others now and forever more.
A Necrontyr was found that was capable of aiding the process, and soon many more. They were to build all that was necessary, with assistance from the Star-Gods themselves. The Silent King soon agreed to what had been discussed; and so the Necrontyr under the Cryptek Szeras gave rise to the biotransference process.
Soon the first bodies were ready, Necrodermis like that of the Star-Gods physical form. Filled with infinitely weaker essences, they were still durable in comparison to any biological material. Most Necrontyr just came, while others tried to avoid the process.
The Star-Gods were not beings to have their will denied.
Soon, the machines were running without pause. As Necrontyr were transferred, most of their memories and experiences never reached their new bodies; for that went to the Gods, as was required. Some important Necrontyr were left relatively whole, keeping their creativity and drive for as long as they would be useful. But they were dull as well, and not tempting to the Endless Hunger or his kin. He swelled with the power and knowledge of billions of beings, feasting like never before; and for the shortest of moments, the Hunger was almost sated. Almost.
As time progressed, the now fully unified Necron race began to assemble. Great Voidships were constructed, and whole systems stripped bare of raw materials. All preparations, extensive as they may have been, were nothing but a distant background to the Endless Hunger, as he readied himself for the coming war. The complete Necrontyr archives about the others and the ongoing war with them had been analyzed and logged in nothing but a moment by his gigantic intellect.
He spent most of his time engulfing the reactor of any ship he traveled on, or drank deep of the suns of whatever system was their destination. He was eager to see the coming war, as no new experiences were to be gathered from the dulled Necrons; and so added his own powers to the expansion of the Necron war machine.
In less than a year, that which the Messenger called the Great Offensive, began.
The War, as the Necrontyr had simply called it, flared up anew. Many a Star-God had been given form; and what had been secure borders soon fell away into nothingness. The creatures that now called themselves the Necrons, in those rare moments when they communicated at all with the other subjects, were a near unstoppable force to their vassal races and underlings. Desperate, they called out to the “Ones of Old” whenever they could.
The Endless Hunger intercepted many messages of such kind while consuming planets and systems, but they taught him nothing new, for the experiences and memories of those calling out were already his.
Soon after, the “Ones of Old” took to the field themselves. Appearing as from nothing, undetected even by the Star-Gods, they were foes to consider. Their powers were derived from the Un-Realm beyond, that which no Star-God could enter; and where their underlings had vanished, they held. Voidships of the Necrontyr, each capable of annihilating fleets on their own, were rent apart; disappearing warped and broken, within emanations of multi-hued light and strange gravimetric fluctuations. As they had been before the Star-Gods’ arrival, the Necrons alone were no match for them.
But they were not alone.
Any Star-God knew of the old and powerful beings that opposed them; and each of them wanted to be the first to feast upon their massive share of feelings, knowledge, and experiences.
The Endless Hunger was no different but for one part of his being. He understood that there was an end that could claim even gods. Where some Star-Gods behaved reckless, as if they were in truth of the Necrontyr Pantheon, he stayed removed from the heaviest fighting. The powers that clashed were anathema. Black holes formed at but a gesture of the Gods and Stars became hypernovae within moments, their lifetimes drained away. Raw material power waned and flexed, diminished as the Ones of Old unmade the very laws of physics before them; attempting to drag the Gods and their ships into the Un-Realm beyond. Many a Star-God the Endless Hunger saw disappear, its essence ripped apart in the turmoil beyond which no material physics and powers were relevant. He heard their death screams echo throughout the fabric of space as it rippled and changed; while he consumed what had been left over of them.
Some, like the Dragon of the Void, were able to move with near impunity, all but immune even to attacks which ripped the lesser Gods apart. The Endless Hunger began to follow in their wake. While there was less to harvest following them, he did not bear the full brunt of attacks. As Gods that thought themselves invulnerable vanished forever, he persisted. He had to be endless, as the hunger was.
Soon, new beings appeared, their memories short, but different, speaking of a life with but a single purpose. The powers of the Un-Realm permeated them as well, constructs of the Ones of Old. Some fought lithe and agile, others straightforward and simple, and they hemmed the Star-Gods’ advance.
New figures emerged alongside them, beings of pure Un-Realm given form. It became clear that the vassals of the others brought them into existence, for the beings diminished and disappeared as the vassals were devoured, only to reappear alongside their armies.
As a new system was entered, the Endless Hunger made ready to depart the ship’s fusion core and consume once more as the ship shifted sidewards, and parted before him. He pushed aside decks and armour plating, exiting through the ships side, as it came apart in emissions of physically incoherent radiation.
An Un-Construct had materialized alongside ships of those calling themselves Aeldari. As it closed the distance, it swung a glowing sword, martial, like an unsophisticated savage of bygone ages, unmaking the Star-God its clear intention. As the Endless Hunger shifted through a higher dimension and away from the blow, it projected a tremendously compressed mass into the midst of the Aeldari ships. Within an instant, the fleet was sucked inwards, elongating and red-shifting before the black hole evaporated again in a blinding light. Before the Star-God could end the system’s star through accelerated aging, the Un-Thing was upon it. Through the void and the fabric of reality it screamed of its own godhood, of the end that it would bring to the Yngir Star-Hungry. Unwilling to be touched by the blade, the Star-God projected a weapon of his own, vague and shapeless, for he cared not. He was not a construct shaped from fleshlings’ beliefs and dependent on their existence.
They clashed with blinding light, and reality quaked. Even as they struck blow after blow, their true powers wrestled with each other. The Endless Hunger was surrounded by pure Un-Realm, distorting and flexing as he was nearly pulled apart. Even as he fought to keep himself together, the Aeldari Soul-construct pressed onwards, its sword piercing the Star-Gods Necrodermis. As it felt its own energies leaving its body, an indescribable rage never before felt took hold of the Endless Hunger.
The void rippled when it screamed, as the creatures on the system’s planets fell over, wailing in all- consuming terror, their minds overwhelmed. Infernal energies were unleashed, the Endless Hunger burning brighter than any star. The Un-Realm was pushed back and nullified as the Star-God reformed itself, its Necrodermis already reknitting. Within a moment, the system’s star went dark, drained of its energy by Him, whose hunger was endless. As the sky fell dark on its planets, not a single intelligent being was still alive to witness it. With every one it consumed, the Star-God swelled as the other diminished.
As it tried to disappear into the Un-Realm it had come from, the beings that had brought it forward gone, a spear of hungry darkness pierced its chest as the Endless Hunger swatted aside its blade. It was the self-proclaimed gods turn to scream as the Star-God became blacker than any starless void, screaming and raging mouths forming upon it; as it not just consumed, but tore apart all that made up its adversary.
And yet, deep within, the God of the Aeldari was a creature of the Warp and of thoughts; and so it faded away, returning to the Un-Realm it had come from, beaten, but not destroyed, leaving the Endless Hunger alone in the material realm, howling in wordless rage.
Ever onwards the attack pressed. Soon, the Ones of Old and their subjects had been pushed back to a few isolated strongholds, all but impenetrable in their defences, even as the Star-Gods hungrily devoured all surrounding systems.
And still, their adversaries struck as if from nowhere and retreated again: all but impossible to pursue. Nevertheless, with every foe consumed, the knowledge of the Star-Gods grew. Even Ones of Old fell before them now and again, and ultimately the Gods, using their formidable powers, gained an entrance into the stable passageway through the Un-realm that the Ones of Old had constructed. Soon, the war raged there as well, as the Ones of Old desperately closed off entry points, or destabilized the walls that held the Un-Realm out. Ships full of Necrons vanished without a trace, and even the Gods were slowed down. In the end, the Ones of Old were forced to abandon their passageways to the Star-Gods, sealing their fate.
Where powers had been nearly equal, now one side could traverse the galaxy at will, and the other hardly at all. Mobility had kept the Ones of Old away from the wrath of the Star-Gods, and now little of that remained. Soon after, a great gathering of Star-Gods and Necrontyr–the Endless Hunger among them–fell upon one of the remaining strongholds.
The Ones of Old poured out of their fortress to meet them in open battle. Fleets of Krork and Aeldari clashed with Necrontyr Tombships in void battles bigger than any the galaxy had ever seen, as thousands of capital ships lit up the sky with lance beams, gauss-cannons and antimatter projectiles.
And yet, for all their ferocity, the battles were inconsequential to the gods battling in their midst. Fighting each other to and beyond the limits of physics, Star-Gods and Ones of Old clashed, the destruction of hundreds of voidships nothing but a side effect of their attacks. Openings to strange dimensions appeared all across the battlefield, twisting and warping the space around them. Immeasurable energies were freed, black holes and beams of pure starlight questing for the Old Ones, even as they projected decoys, slipping in and out of the Warp. Deadly beams of radiation vanished suddenly, or changed course into Necrontyr ships and Star-Gods. Even the Dragon of the Void rippled and flexed, as the Ones of Old invested their might to tear apart its essence.
The Endless Hunger plunged into the battle. Absorbing the inhabitants of an Aeldari strike cruiser, he drank deep of their experiences and knowledge, as he drained their reactor of power. Compressing the ship into a singularity, he slipped it into a higher dimension, to appear again close to an Old One locked in battle with the Bringer of Night. Before it struck, the One of Old slipped aside, yet this cost it a miniscule moment. The Bringer of Night consumed it in an instant.
Endless Hunger felt the space around him bend and change, slipping into another dimension, before the Un-Realm spilled out where he had been before. He attempted to compress the Old One that emerged from it; but the shifting laws of physics around it diminished the force. Projecting a beam of starlight in front of him, the Endless Hunger retreated. The light refracted before the One of Old; and it moved on without slowing, even as several Necrontyr and Krork ships around it turned into plasma in an instant. The Endless Hunger was nearly pulled apart as the Old One assaulted its essence, his necrodermis flexing, warping and tearing as the limits of its durability were reached.
Endless Hunger screamed, investing more and more energy to keep itself together and nullify the power of the Un-Realm. Still, if felt parts of its essence bleeding away. Suddenly, the assault waned. The One of Old before it writhed and shuddered, its incorporeal essence changing at tremendous speed as new creatures emerged around it. Endless Hunger knew not what they were, but they weakened the One of Old enough for Endless Hunger to consume it. Despite all it had already taken in, Endless Hunger still shuddered for a moment, overcome by the impressions of an ancient life coursing through it. Of particular interest were its last memories. Concentration was replaced by confusion and pain as something new suddenly gained access to the Old Ones mind, and began to take control before everything ended.
All across the battlefield, similar things happened as Ones of Old suddenly diminished in power, only to be consumed by the Star-Gods around them. Endless Hunger rushed forward as the chance to feast became apparent; falling upon any Old One, Aeldari, or Krork that it could reach, as its kin did the same. Within short moments, the battle was over.
One smaller Star-God, feasting upon an Aeldari Battleship, strayed too close to the Dragon. Suddenly, the tremendous form shifted, engulfing the smaller God. A wail rippled through the fabric of space, and the small one was no more. The Dragon of the void glowed radiant, and grew in size.
Endless Hunger began to move away, an ancient memory returning to prominence. His Star-Kin were a danger to him, more than anything else. He knew consuming another complete Star-God, irrespective of the energetic gains, was a risk too great to take.
As time passed by, the last Ones of Old were consumed, or vanished, and their vassal races were routed by the Necrons. More and more often, the Star-Gods turned upon each other.The Endless Hunger began to move on its own once more, ingesting smaller systems, ever weary of any other Star-God. Tidings of the Messenger arrived, speaking of great power to be gained within the core systems of the Necrontyr empire. He ignored them. The Messenger had deceived the Necrontyr; it was weak, and still it spoke with them all when it should have long since been consumed by its stronger kin. True to his past, Endless Hunger changed the way he looked at the Messenger, based upon the facts and insights of everything around him, as his highly capable cognition analysed the happenings of the war.
The Messenger was not to be trusted, and he would make an exception to his principles. It would be consumed.
Now, however, it was time for war once more. Many Aeldari had been consumed already; but some of their strongholds still stood. Defended worlds and systems promised a rich feast for any Star-God able to take them.
At the head of a fleet, Endless Hunger plunged into the system, glowing radiant as he sent forth beams of pure starlight. They were absorbed and reflected upon impacting the planetary stronghold, for apparently it was shielded by some means of the Un-Realm. Endless Hunger found that he could not project his powers within the radius of the shield. By his orders the fleet split up, moving unhindered through the system as the Aeldari had learned to avoid open battle with the Star-Gods and their vassals. As the Necrons opened fire on the planetary shield, it rippled and flexed. Amidst strange gravimetric readings and radiation emissions, a new being emerged. Endless Hunger began to gather his powers; he instantly recognized the Aeldari god-construct for what it was. Trailing warpfire, the thing began to move towards the Star-God, rending apart Necron ships around it, as it shrugged off their return fire. Endless Hunger sent the fleet out of its path to continue bombarding the planetary shielding.
He projected a weapon of coiling, hungry darkness in front of himself; and within an instant, the other was upon him.
The Star-God’s reaction time was tremendously short, advanced quantum computation allowing him to bypass physical limitations. His cognition reacted at superluminal speed to any strike of the Aeldari warp construct, yet every parry was ever so close to failing. Somehow, the God-construct influenced the flow of time, causing it to twist and roil around them as it struck with precognitious accuracy.
The Endless Hunger found himself hard-pressed, retreating before the reality-warping field of his adversary. He would have lost then, if not for a crucial detail.
The warp constructs were not the only ones who had changed.
Following the last battles, the Endless Hunger had incorporated technology of the Necrontyr into his body. Compelled by their hatred of the Warp and the ones that used it; and assisted by the Gods themselves, they had developed the blackstone pylons, each of which was capable of weakening or nullifying the Un-Realm’s influence in the space around it. Seeing their usefulness as soon as they were first made; he had the technology requisitioned, to be incorporated within him, as well as on conquered worlds.
This field allowed him to protect his essence from the ravaging power of the Aeldari Un-Construct, keeping the fight in a stalemate that forced him to invest more and more of his powers to offset his adversary. He sent an impulse to the Necrontyr fleet, deciding to abdicate from conserving his forces. Several Necrontyr ships, one after another, powered up their drives for the shortest of moments, propelling themselves into the world-shield at close to lightspeed. The first impact caused it to flex and ripple violently in incandescent hues, but it held. At the second impact, Endless Hunger could detect a miniscule reduction of necessary energy output in his own struggle; indicating that a notable amount of the Aeldari present had already perished from psychic backlash.
Another two capital ships struck the aetheric barrier in quick succession, finally overloading it amidst an explosive outburst of radiation. The next ship struck the planet itself, its immense kinetic energy igniting the atmosphere as it ripped a giant crater deep into the planet’s surface. Firestorms wracked the planet as the remaining Necrontyr ships directed their weapons upon the surface. As countless psychic beings perished in quick succession, the power of their god-construct lessened accordingly, yet it did not disappear fully. Whatever powers allowed it to manifest had apparently become independent from the emanations of the closest psychic beings.
Still, the Endless Hunger could once again press forward, forcing his adversary into the defensive. With every strike he ripped away parts of the warp-construct’s essence. Expending more and more energy to force an end to the fight, before the other could recover; Endless Hunger widened his nullifying field. Pushing apart space-time itself, the Star-God phased through and behind the weakened soul construct, impaling it upon his weapon. He could not absorb its essence, so he instead invested his powers to rend it asunder. Chained to the physical realm by his weapon, his adversary became tangible, its energies released amidst a blinding eruption within both the warp and the material realm.
Analysing his surroundings with every sense he had available, Endless Hunger determined that the Aeldari soul construct was gone. If for now, or forever, was unclear but unimportant. In time, the rest of them would fall, and their shackled gods with them. For now, it needed to replenish the energy it had spent. Massive bouts of radiation were still coming off the planet; and not all beings on it had yet perished. They would be taken first, and then the star. He would not be able to regain all his spent energy here, but enough. The C´tan slipped through the veil of dimensions, emerging upon the planet’s surface, methodically absorbing the surviving Aeldari and Krork; as well as the lingering energies left over from the attack.
Without warning, the Endless Hunger found himself assailed from all sides, the immeasurable powers of the un-realm tearing at his core. Shifting and roiling, and nearly ripping the Star-God apart in an instant of focused chaos. Even as he was forced to invest all the power available to him to keep himself from fracturing, the Star-Gods vast computerized mind analysed probabilities and known factors, coming to a near-instantaneous conclusion: It was an attack by the Necrons themselves. They were puppets, so a higher-ranking order must have overridden his commands. Another Star-God must have taken control.
There was nothing to be done. All his powers were needed to resist the onslaught, leaving him with no means for retaliation or escape. As the Star-Gods necrodermis body warped and shifted, it played through all possible outcomes. He would fracture soon and be consumed by entropy once and for all. Yet he continued to struggle, for the hunger was endless.
Amongst the Necron fleet, it soon became clear that the given orders could not be carried out to completion. As artificial subroutines calculated through all possible outcomes, running one system- analysis after another, their plight became clear. The fracturing weapons, secret beyond any measure, were firing as ordered; but they were being strained to their limits already by the ferocious chaotic entropy of their own nature. Even as maintenance scarabs swarmed all over them, repairing every rent and tear, they slowly twisted into impossible shapes. More ships than anticipated had been lost in the assault. They could not fire long enough to achieve full destruction.
Separated from the line of command, the overseer-programs felled a decision, opting for a logical alternative to destruction:
Within an instant, the onslaught stopped. What was left of the Endless Hunger stayed shapeless and curled up at first, ready at any moment to continue nullifying the warp-weapons it had been hit with. When no new emissions were detectable, the Star-God unfurled at impossible speed, firing off beams of incandescent radiation in any direction, as he failed to slip through the veil of dimensions. Their energetic signatures disappeared near-instantaneously. Probing for anything possibly helpful, the Star-God quickly determined that he was trapped in a spherical field, hardly bigger than his form in diameter. Gravitational waves emanating from the matter around him implied that he was now located within the outer mantle of a rocky planet, surrounded by a material whose atomic composition was similar to necrodermis.
He tried to form a singularity in an effort to disrupt the field holding him in place; but the invested energy vanished, draining away without a trace. He cycled through every action available, yet all efforts were for naught. Worse still, the energy expended could not be reabsorbed, as it was drained away. Coming to the logical conclusion that further emission of energy was unwarranted, the Endless Hunger became formless once more. Still some energy was being drained away constantly, despite his best efforts to resist it. Small fluctuations indicated that it was used to power something, most likely machines and appliances of the Necrons on the planet.
There was rage within him of course; but as with all feelings other than hunger, it was but a distant calling right now. The Necrontyr and those commanding them would be held responsible in the event of his release; but the vast computerized mind of the Star-God was, first and foremost, an incredibly powerful conscience whose goal was to feed upon energy and experiences. As no other option was viable, the action granting it the longest possible coherent existence was chosen.
The Endless Hunger became inactive then; retreating into himself wholly. except for a small part of him. It would, from this point onwards, constantly scan for new threats, changes, or a way to escape. Another sliver of his intellect dedicated itself to planning the necessary actions following a possible breakout. He would be ready, if the time ever came.
About the Author
Tim Ulbrich’s autobiographical information was stored on a data engrams which, unfortunately, have been lost to radiation ravages on his tomb world. What is known about him can be found in the archival link below.
Occasionally, we include fanart, models, and other art assets with the story.