Short Fiction

Events At Recruitment Station Chryses

Events at Recruitment Station Chryses

An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Chris Buxey
Reading Time: 21 minutes

Jeroen gripped the weapon. Sweat dripped into his eyes. The commissar stood a single pace in front of him, cool and defiant. The order made no sense. It went against everything he stood for. Time stretched out and the weight of the moment threatened to crush him flat. His heartbeat thundered in time with the drums.

 

Cut to the neck

Cut

Cut

Slice to the gut

Kill

Kill

 

Time began to move again as Jeroen swung the weapon back to strike.

 

+++

 

Jeroen watched dispassionately as the goat-headed beastmen enthusiastically bayoneted sacks of straw in the drill hall. He had to continually remind himself that they were technically human, and not some foul xenos breed. Sergeant Uma yelled encouragement as the hulking abhumans cut down the hanging targets and trampled them beneath their hooves, snorting and braying in triumph. The hall smelled like a damned agri-world. Jeroen flicked his spent lho-stick to the floor and sighed. At least they had energy. The lumen-strips in his new quarters were stuck on permanently, and he had not slept well.

Jeroen turned away from the hall and stood looking out of the armourglass window as he lit another lho-stick. The rain hammered down in sheets, drawing a veil over the world below. Recruitment Station Chryses sat high on the ancient moorland, its 60-cubit wide devotional eagle nesting on brutalist grey slabs dug into the hillside. Modest by Astra Militarum architectural standards, it was still the largest structure on this Emperor-forsaken planet. Out of sight in the fens below, mutant beastmen eked out a living in their wattle huts and smokey long-halls. They were the planet’s only worthwhile export.

Soft footsteps approached from behind. Not the clip-clop of hooves, so that meant it was only one of three people. He could still hear Sergeant Uma shouting over the far side of the hall, and Linos had avoided Jeroen since he arrived, so…

‘Major Jeroen,’ said Commissar Salvatrice, ‘am I intruding?’

‘Not at all,’ sighed Jeroen, discarding the spent lho-stick and turning to face the political officer, ‘I was just admiring the view.’

The Commissar smiled, puckering the scar tissue across her cheek.’I’ve seen penal troopers more enthusiastic about their new postings than you, major,’ she said.

Penal trooper! I may as well be, thought Jeroen. The commissar seemed to read the look in his eyes.

‘I’d call this a light sentence,’ said Salvatrice, ‘striking a commissar? I’m amazed you weren’t gunned down on the spot. If it had been me…well, I’ve shot troopers just for looking at me askance. Being demoted and reassigned to a recruitment station seems like you’re getting off easy. Thank the Emperor for your family connections, eh?’ Salvatrice seemed well informed, but Jeroen had expected no less.

‘Look, about that, my men-‘ he began, but Salvatrice raised a hand.

‘I didn’t come here to browbeat you for past offences, I’m sure you had enough of that during the court-martial. And I certainly didn’t come for reassurances that you won’t be raising a weapon against me — believe me, you wouldn’t get the chance.’

Jeroen’s eyes involuntarily flicked to her scar. Salvatrice’s smile grew taut and she gently touched her cheek.

‘Ork,’ she said, ‘if you think this is bad, you should have seen him once I was through.’

It was Jeroen’s turn to smile.

‘Look,’ continued Salvatrice, ‘all I’m saying is don’t view this posting as a punishment, look at it as the Emperor-given blessing it is. There’s no point moping around the place. Throw yourself into the work, help us to meet our recruitment quotas and you never know, if you do a good enough job you may just get promoted out of here. Now come on, it’s six days until the next Militarum bulk transport passes through the system. Let’s make sure we’ve got a battle-worthy company to load.’ With a final smile, Commissar Salvatrice turned and walked away.

‘Commissar,’ called Jeroen.

‘Yes?’

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Whatever the Emperor needs me to do.’

Jeroen took another lho-stick out of the packet, then thought better of it. Salvatrice was right, promotion out of a punishment detail was a long-shot, but it was better than smoking and drinking himself to death in this damp backwater. He felt inspired, but then that was the point of commissars — inspiration and holy terror all in one package. Salvatrice had earned her rations today, he thought.

 

+++

 

Sergeant Uma, evidently pleased with the morning’s drills, had instructed the beastmen recruits to fall out. They milled around in small groups, some talking in their language that owed very little to its Imperial gothic roots, some still snorting and kicking the combat targets. Jeroen watched them, properly appraising them for the first time. He had decades of experience with the men and women of the Imperial Guard. But abhumans? This was a new one on him. As he watched them he caught the eye of one of the beastmen. The creature was marginally taller and broader than the rest and seemed to command deference from the others. Jeroen beckoned it over, and it dutifully obeyed, throwing up a clumsy salute once it was within two paces of the major. The surreal sight of something that was essentially an animal mimicking military discipline tickled Jeroen’s dark sense of humour, and he had to bite the inside of his cheek to stifle a chuckle.

‘What’s your name, soldier?’ asked Jeroen, returning the salute.

‘B’ruk, sir, Captain B’ruk’ said the beastman, its thick tongue flopping over the syllables. It was all so comically absurd. Jeroen set his jaw firm against the laugh that was threatening to bubble up from within. He lowered his gaze to give the impression he was inspecting the creature’s flak armour, noting how the wiry brown fur pushed its way out between gaps in the plates.

‘That’s a hard name for me to pronounce, captain,’ said Jeroen, ‘would you mind if I call you ‘Buck’?’

B’ruk made a grunting noise that Jeroen took as an affirmation.

‘This is a fine body of…men you have here, Captain Buck,’ said Jeroen, ‘I look forward to working with you to get them ready for deployment.’

‘For the Emper-gor, sir!’ bleated Buck.

‘Carry on Captain!’ Jeroen croaked through gritted teeth as he hurriedly turned to leave.

 

+++

Five Days Until Bulk Transport Arrival

+++

 

It was still raining the next day, and a bleak wind howled around the doors and vents. If anything, visibility had gotten worse. It was hard for Jeroen to believe there was any world out there beyond the empty greyness. He had decided to seek out Sergeant Uma to talk about how they might potentially improve their recruitment numbers, and about the theoretical maximum they could accommodate. 

On his way through the base, he spotted Lexmechanic Linos in the distance. Jeroen waved, trying to catch Linos’ eye amongst the milling beastmen. He had still not properly spoken to the young tech adept since his arrival or asked him about the lumens that were stuck on in his quarters. Linos acknowledged him with a brief nod then disappeared down another corridor. Jeroen wasn’t sure if Linos was busy or simply avoiding him. Jeroen found Sergeant Uma in the armoury running inventory on the weapons. She was tan and compact, like the Braun-pattern lasguns that they gave the beastmen.

‘All present and correct?’ he asked.

‘Yes sir,’ she replied, ‘the abhumans are quite respectful of Imperial equipment, sir.’

‘That’s good. You’ve spent the most time hands-on with them, and I wanted to ask your opinion on recruitment. How can we persuade more to join the Astra Militarum? Actually, maybe a better question is how do we currently persuade them to join?’

‘We don’t sir, they just turn up.’

Jeroen blinked.

‘They just turn up? With no active recruitment drives or incentives?’

‘Well, I suppose we have all the modern comforts here at Chryses. It’s dry for one thing, sir.’

‘But they do know they’re being shipped out to fight in our wars, right?’

‘Yes sir. They still seem happy to go sir.’

‘Really?’

‘Well, do you want to stay here any longer than you have to, sir?’

Jeroen snorted. ‘Honestly sergeant, no. I miss my command, and truthfully I miss the front.’

‘You do? I don’t,’ replied Uma, absentmindedly clutching at the bunch of dog tags around her neck. ‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m no shirker. But Prodigum Os? The Scallop Stars? No, I’ve seen enough of the front to last me ten lifetimes, sir. I’m just glad to be here, working on something to throw back against the damned greenskins for once.’

 

+++

Four Days Until Bulk Transport Arrival

+++

 

Major Jeroen spent the morning of his fourth day at Chryses watching Sergeant Uma running through firing drills with Buck and his herd. Later he listened to Commissar Salvatrice give an impassioned speech about the Imperial cause to another flock that had just arrived dripping wet at the station. They sat on the floor around the heaters, listening intently to the commissar and only occasionally braying and muttering when her sermon invited a response. Everything seemed to be running so smoothly that Jeroen was at a loss as to how he could improve it. He was starting to worry whether that was a good or bad thing.

Late that evening Jeroen finally managed to corner Linos with the intent of talking about the efficient running of the station’s systems. He found the lexmechanic in the main cogitator room. Linos was hunched over a bank of screens, their glow and the lumens in the room doing a poor job at holding back the starless night outside the window. Something ticked rhythmically, either a tired fan or a struggling valve.

‘Everything normal?’ asked Jeroen amiably, leaning over Linos to look at the screens. He could smell the stale sweat on the young lexmechanic’s robes as he drank in the displayed information. Much of it was in binharic, but parts were comprehensible. Something caught his eye. ‘There.’

‘Sir?’ queried Linos.

‘It’s well past lights out. Why are the barrack lumens still active?’

‘They’re… on around the clock, sir,’ explained the lexmechanic hesitantly, apparently uncertain why he was being asked to account for the obvious. 

Jeroen frowned. ‘Why?’

‘They… the abhumans, sir, they don’t like the dark.’

Major Jeroen rubbed his stubble-covered face, a sense of dread slowly creeping into his stomach. Here it was. Here was the flaw. Everything had seemed too perfect. This would be what stopped him from getting out of here.’These beastmen,’ he said slowly, ‘that we have recruited into the Astra Militarum to fight the Emperor’s wars, are … afraid of the dark?’

‘I don’t think they’re afraid, sir,’ replied Linos, licking his dry lips, ‘it just gets them worked up.’

‘Turn them off.’

‘Sir?’

‘Turn off the lumens in the barracks. Right now,’ ordered Jeroen.

‘I can’t, sir, lumen operations are hard-coded into the base meme-wafers,’ replied Linos. He sat very still and did not meet the Major’s gaze. 

Jeroen put a firm hand on the young lexmechanic’s shoulder. ‘I’m sure you’re a resourceful man …’ said Jeroen evenly. 

Linos licked his lips again, took a breath and began to clack at the haptic inputs. He muttered something in binharic; a benediction to the Omnissiah or a curse against the Major, Jeroen couldn’t be certain.

A rune blinked out on the screen, and immediately the howling began. Jeroen turned to listen, caught off guard. The barracks were two floors below. Every single abhuman must have been crying out.

‘They get worked up, sir,’ whispered Linos.

‘You said,’ muttered Jeroen. The bestial howls threw him. He’d been expecting grumbling in the morning, not this instantaneous guttural reaction. His resolve faltered as the braying grew louder.

‘Lexmechanic, please reactivate the lumens,’ said a soft voice. Commissar Salvatrice had silently joined them. Jeroen hadn’t heard her approach over the cacophony.

‘No, keep them off,’ Jeroen countered, his resolve hardening as his authority was challenged.

Linos looked between the two officers miserably, his face even paler than usual.

Drumming had joined with the howling. Even by abhuman standards, it was barbaric. The beats came at random with no discernible rhythm. It ensnared Jeroen’s thoughts, tripping them as his mind tried desperately to process the noise.

‘Why do they have drums!?’ Jeroen demanded. 

Linos shrugged weakly.

‘Lexmechanic, I’m asking again. Reactivate the lumens,’ said Salvatrice, still speaking softly, ‘I won’t extend you the courtesy of asking a third time.’ Jeroen realised the commissar had a hand on her holstered bolt pistol. As he stared at the weapon, the Major finally heard something, a hidden pattern lurking in the chaotic beats. A rhythmic sign of life like a steady heartbeat. Wind rattled the armourglass window in its frame. Major Jeroen swallowed, suddenly uncertain whether the sound was coming from the barracks below or the darkness outside. 

The door burst open and Uma joined them, wide-eyed.

‘The lumens! They’re-‘ she stopped dead in front of the tense tableau.

There was no mistaking the rhythm of the drums now. Du-du-du-dum, dum, dum, du-du-du-dum, dum dum. It blended with the ticking of the cogitator and the rattling of the windows.

Linos made his choice. The lumens in the barracks winked back into life. The drumming and howling subsided almost immediately. Commissar Salvatrice’s hand remained on her bolt pistol. 

Jeroen turned and walked out without a word. 

 

+++

Three Days Until Bulk Transport Arrival

+++

 

Sergeant Uma did not acknowledge the incident of the previous night, nor did any of the beastmen. Major Jeroen stood watching them as Uma took them through special weapons drills. The flamer was the only one that was deemed within their capabilities. Jeroen took long drags on his lho-stick as he watched the recruits gleefully melt the targets on the firing range, the hungry chemical flames reflecting in the beastman’s large vertically-slit eyes. Somehow Jeroen found them less funny today.

An abhuman he recognised passed by. ‘Buck!’

The beastman stopped, trotted over and saluted. ‘Sir?’ 

‘Why don’t you like the dark?’

‘Don’t dislike dark. Dark not a thing. Dark is nothing. Can’t dislike nothing.’

Jeroen stared up at the large beastman. He wasn’t sure what answer he’d expected, but it wasn’t that. Buck stared back, but his eyes were fixed on the lho-stick. Jeroen wordlessly handed it over. Buck puffed awkwardly on the small cigarillo, making a snorting sound. ‘Ah, like old shag-leaf!’ exclaimed the beastman.

‘Why do your people fight for us, Buck?’

‘We one people, aren’t we? All human.’

Frak, thought Jeroen, that was stupid! How many hours of indoctrination have I just undermined?

‘Of course,’ said Jeroen with a smile that he hoped didn’t look forced. ‘But Buck, you ship out in three days and there are things out there that are worse than having the lumens switched off in your barracks. What will you do when you come face to face with something like that?’

‘We not be afraid,’ bleated Buck as he chewed on the remains of the lho-stick, ‘We carrying word of the Emper-gor with us. It as sergeant and commissar teach.’

Jeroen nodded and lit another lho-stick for Buck and one for himself. The beastman puffed happily. Jeroen decided to try one more question. ‘Why do your kin come to Chryses station so readily?’

‘We always have. Long before Chryses here. Since beginning of time, my kin come to hill to hear word of Emper-gor.’

 

+++

 

Jeroen found Commissar Salvatrice in her office, reading a small leather-bound book of Imperial psalms. He wondered if that’s how she had wanted to be found.

‘Major Jeroen, do come in, take a seat,’ she said with a smile, ‘before you say anything, I want to apologise.’ Jeroen paused in the act of pulling up his chair.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard a commissar apologise for anything,’ he said honestly. 

Salvatrice chuckled. ‘Yes, you’re probably right,’ she said, ‘but we’re a small staff here and we really can’t afford to fall out or start avoiding each other.’ Linos seems to manage it, thought Jeroen. He hadn’t seen the lexmechanic at all yet today. 

‘I need to be flexible to ensure things run smoothly here. If that means apologising, then fine. And if that means making certain…allowances for the night-time preferences of our recruits then that’s fine too.’

‘Apology accepted,’ said Jeroen, ‘but that’s not what I came here for. I had a very interesting conversation with Buck earlier.’

Commissar Salvatrice looked confused. ‘Who?’

‘Oh, erm, B’ruk. The beastman captain. He said his kin have been coming to this hill willingly for years, long before Chryses station was here. What do you make of that? Are they coming here for some reason other than to be recruited into the Astra Militarum?’

Salvatrice frowned.

‘Well…yes. That’s the point. Wasn’t it in your pre-posting briefing? Chryses station is built on a site of religious significance for the local abhumans. I mean that’s been Imperial practice for millennia. Co-opt religious sites, conflate local deities with the Emperor. It’s no mystery, it’s just a simple technique to drive recruitment.’

 

+++

Two Days Until Bulk Transport Arrival

+++

 

Jeroen had another restless night. The rain hammered against Chryses station in a way that was not the least bit soothing, and the lumen strips in his quarters stubbornly remained on at all hours. He considered breaking them but realised he’d just have to ask Linos to repair them in the morning, and Emperor-knows when he’d get hold of the young lexmechanic again. In the end, Jeroen settled for blocking out much of the light by stuffing spare fatigues in between the protective metal grill and the lumens, but that just made it gloomy rather than dark.

Outside the rain and wind redoubled its efforts. Somewhere in the depths of Chryses station, something dripped rhythmically. Du-du-du-dum, dum, dum, du-du-du-dum, dum dum.

 

+++

One Day Until Bulk Transport Arrival

+++

 

Jeroen still couldn’t sleep, but it wasn’t the lights or the rain that kept him awake. He was used to that now. Buck and his company were shipping out tomorrow. They were ready, as far as he could tell. Another fresh cohort of beastmen volunteers had struggled in through the morning gale, potentially giving them enough for two companies the next time the bulk transport appeared in-system. 

Things were going well, but they were going well without Jeroen’s input. He had no agency and he hated it. Any chance he had of escaping this windswept rock was contingent on doing something exceptional with this command. But there was nothing to be done. No orders to give. No strategies to implement. The feeling of helplessness was alien to him. Thoughts and plans churned over and over in his mind, all to no end.

Jeroen decided that if he wasn’t going to lay down and sleep then he might as well go for a walk and smoke. The station was fully lit as usual, and the drill hall was deserted at this hour. Jeroen stood looking out of the armourglass window. Beyond the perimeter lights, the world was abyssal night. Even if it had been clear weather, Jeroen doubted he would have seen anything. The nearest beastman village and its totem fires were many kliks south of here.

Jeroen heard the clip-clop of hooves behind him and turned just in time to see a flash of brown fur disappear down an access corridor on the other side of the drill hall. He looked at his wrist-chrono and frowned. It was after ‘lights out’ – not that ‘lights out’ meant anything at Chryses – and recruits should have been in their barrack rooms by now. The sound of hoof-beats faded into the distance.

‘Buck?’ called Jeroen.

Silence. It suddenly dawned on Jeroen how quiet everything was, other than the perpetual rain lashing down outside. Treading softly, he crossed the drill hall and looked down the corridor. It was as customarily well lit as the rest of the base. Doors to storerooms and latrines lined the corridor, and at the far end stood the maintenance accessway down to the station’s geothermal power plant – just another part of the base that functioned efficiently without Jeroen’s input. 

One by one he checked each room, finding them either locked or empty. At last, he reached the maintenance hatchway. It was not locked. Slowly he pushed the hatch open. Inside he saw metal spiral stairs fixed into the living rock, dimly lit by low-power lumens. From below he heard a sound echoing up from great depths.

 

Du-du-du-dum, dum, dum, du-du-du-dum, dum dum.

 

Cautiously, Jeroen began a descent.

It took him fifteen minutes to reach the bottom of the stairs. He reached the geothermal exchange plant at the ten-minute mark, but to his surprise, the stairs continued down. All the while the rhythm grew louder. He started to think he could hear voices mixed in. Shouts and bellows. Grunting and snorting. The maintenance lighting ended before the stairs did, and Jeroen descended the last few steps in flicking shadows, stepping into the oppressive heat and darkness of a deep cavern.

Beastmen filled the cave, a whole company’s worth pressing against each other, bellowing and chanting. Some played massive drums, the hypnotic rhythm echoing wall to wall. The only light came from three flaming torches, each one held by a hooded figure in the middle of the chamber, just visible through the press of beastmen. In front of them stood a stone altar, crudely carved from the living rock. Embedded blade-down in the altar was a jet black axe.

As Jeroen watched, a beastman trotted forward from the crowd to stand before the altar and the axe. The three figures covered their torches and a deeper blackness descended. This time Jeroen was certain that he heard a voice whisper in the darkness, the words slipping into his mind in time with the beats of the drum.

 

Slash to the throat

Slice

Slice

 

Jeroen wiped the sweat from his forehead, suddenly painfully aware he’d left his sidearm in his quarters.

The robed figures uncovered their torches and the firelight did its best to drive back the shadows for a moment. The beastman who stood before the altar bellowed in triumph and satisfaction and then stepped away, allowing another to step up. With a sudden jolt, Jeroen realised that the beastmen who had stepped up was Buck. 

But that was not the only person he recognised – the torchlight had briefly illuminated the face beneath one of the hooded robes, the flames throwing the scarred skin into sharp relief.

‘What in the name of the Emperor is happening here?!’ demanded Jeroen as he stepped out of the shadows. The drums fell silent and the beastmen snorted and pawed the ground in alarm. Commissar Salvatrice lowered her hood, looking back calmly at Jeroen. The other two figures froze, uncertain what to do.

‘Uma, Linos, I know it’s you, there’s no one else it could be,’ said Jeroen in exasperation. Sergeant Uma and Linos lowered the hoods on their robes too, both looking sheepish. Jeroen pushed his way through the crowd of beastmen to stand in front of the altar.

‘Now I’ll ask again, what is all this?!’

‘It’s nothing to be concerned about, major,’ said Salvatrice smoothly, ‘this is just a local custom. Something the beast-kin do on the eve of shipping out to get them hyped-up and ready to fight. We were going to invite you, but we weren’t sure if you were fully…acclimatised yet.’

Jeroen looked at her in disbelief, then pointed at the stone altar.

‘‘Local custom’? I heard the axe talking to me!’

Uma and Linos exchanged worried glances. 

‘Yes, that’s the word of the Emper-gor,’ said Salvatrice, ‘he can only whisper in the darkness.’

‘It’s clearly a thrice-cursed tool of the Archenemy, or some Emperor-knows-what xenos tech. Why haven’t you destroyed it!?’

The crowd of abhumans erupted in bleats and howls of dismay. Hooves stamped. Bodies pushed and shoved.

‘Have a care, major,’ said Savatrice in a warning tone, ‘without the Emper-gor the beastmen wouldn’t come here, and recruitment station Chryses would be dead in the water.’

‘We need this,’ added Sergeant Uma, ‘the Ork front is a meat grinder. We can’t afford to cut off any source of soldiers!’

‘It is the most efficient solution to the equation,’ chipped-in Linos.

‘But who knows what corruption it’s spreading!’ countered Jeroen.

‘None!’ exclaimed Salvatrice, ‘There is no corruption here! And even if there was, who socialises with companies of this…type? Captain B’ruk and his kin will go straight to the front and… and that’s it!’

‘This is wrong, and you all know it!’

‘More wrong than letting the Orks win!?’ demanded Uma.

‘I don’t know…maybe!’ Jeroen threw his arms up in exasperation, ‘Letting the Orks win isn’t right, but this is most definitely wrong! If we let this slide, what do we let slide next time? Where do we draw the line!?’

Salvatrice regarded him coldly, any previous good humour gone. ‘All you have to do is go along with this and you can get out of here. Turn around and walk away. We continue to meet recruitment quotas, and you get promoted back out of here. Stand down Major Jeroen, that’s an order. Now if you don’t mind, we have a ceremony to finish.’

The drumming restarted and the beastmen resumed their howling. Salvatrice, Uma and Linos pulled their hoods up.

 

Du-du-du-dum, dum, dum, du-du-du-dum, dum dum.

 

Jeroen’s eye twitched in time to the beat.

‘Walk away, major.’

Jeroen lunged forward and seized the haft of the Emper-gor, and with a rage-fuelled heave, wrenched it from the altar. A gasp went up from the crowd. The tempo of the drums intensified. Uma and Linos were wide-eyed beneath their hoods. 

Salvatrice remained calm, her jaw set. ‘Walk away, major.’

Jeroen gripped the weapon. Sweat dripped into his eyes. The commissar stood a single pace in front of him, cool and defiant. The order made no sense. It went against everything he stood for. Time stretched out and the weight of the moment threatened to crush him flat. His heartbeat thundered in time with the drums.

 

Cut to the neck

Cut

Cut

Slice to the gut

Kill

Kill

 

Time began to move again as Jeroen swung the weapon back to strike. With the axe in his hand, no amount of torch-light could keep the whispering voice out of his head.

 

Hack the face

Blood!

Blood!

KILL THEM NOW!

DIE!

DIE!

 

Summoning the last of his willpower, Jeroen smashed the axe blade against the solid rock of the cavern floor with as much force as he could muster. The black weapon shattered like obsidian, sending fragments skittering over the floor. The beastmen howled and surged forward in a foam-mouthed frenzy.

 

BOOM

 

Jeroen was suddenly on his back, blinding agony flashing from his arm. Salvatrice had produced her bolt pistol from under her robe and caught him in the shoulder. The world seemed to recede into detached unreality as he looked in disbelief at the ruined stump of his arm.

 

BOOM

 

Salvatrice’s pistol spoke again, this time taking a charging beastman’s head off in an eruption of blood and fur. But there wasn’t time for a third shot as the herd were on her and the other two humans, goring and biting and trampling them into the unforgiving floor.

A shape loomed over Jeroen, briefly illuminated by the fallen torches. Buck looked down at him, eyes wide and nostrils flared in rage. Jeroen reached up weakly with his remaining arm.

‘Death to enemies of the Emper-gor!’ bellowed Buck, as he drove  his hoof into Jeroen’s skull.

 

+++

 

REPORT TITLE: Events At Recruitment Station Chryses

SOURCE: Captain Wyke, Bulk Transport Hesiod Steed

RECEIVED: Prodigum Os Sector Command

ASTROPATHIC DUCT: Upsilon-Gamma-7

PRIORITY: Magenta

MESSAGE: We have arrived at Recruitment Station Chryses to find it deserted. There are no signs of Imperial personnel or abhumans in the base. There are no indications of hostilities, either from inside or out. The vast majority of equipment and supplies still appear to be present in the stores. The base is deserted and silent. Recon teams report outlying abhuman settlements are abandoned as though their populations have migrated away.

Please advise immediately on an alternative source of recruits. The situation at the front is becoming untenable.

MESSAGE ENDS.

About the Author

Chris Buxey is a writer, laser safety officer and occasional Tony Stark impersonator. He lives in southern England with his wife and two children. Chris has been travelling the Warhammer 40K universe for nearly thirty years and has so far managed to keep his heresies hidden from the Inquisition.

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