Fast Fiction

The Damned Hound

The Damned Hound

An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Joyce Chng
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Demon wolves hunted. 

They loped across the battlefield, gargantuan legs churning up the earth like gods. Only that they were not true wolves, but iron Warhounds sniffing the air, tracking their prey. 

+++

Hunt!

The hunter obeyed the imperative so rich and so deep like the dark marrow in its bones. 

Kill!

The voice in the Manifold was a delicious whisper, sibilant and tantalising like desire. 

Beneath the hunter’s feet, the soldiers fought their grim wars. Terra had fallen. 

The hunter was no longer an obedient lap-dog bound at the behest of … of what?  It couldn’t remember. She couldn’t remember. 

Claws scraped the earth, crushing both the weak loyalists and her own skitarii warriors. The hunter was hunter supreme, heedless of the pain it… she…had caused. 

An orange blur crossed the hunter’s mind-eye. A heat signature from… a Warhound. An enemy. 

+++

The hunter howled. The cry reverberated across the battlefield as if the alpha wolf called out to the new challenger. The enemy Warhound answered back. It was…familiar. Its scent was familiar. 

Moderati! We attack!

Except that Moderati Fernandez was dead. 

Fernandez is no more! We are The Damned Hound!

Who was that talking? 

The hunter leapt forward, eager for the throat of the enemy Warhound. The sight of it repulsed. So righteous, its ceramite and adamantium carapace shining. The bright colours woke something in the hunter. A faint memory. A happy memory. 

No! Not happy! They are weak! 

The voice was its own… and not. A deeper resonance, like the growl of a more feral beast that prowled beneath the layers and layers of flesh and steel. 

The enemy Warhound reacted swiftly, firing its Turbolaser Destructor. It roared back an answer, its warhorn blaring. 

What have you done?! 

That voice! That voice. 

+++

The surge of kill-pleasure chased the feelings of guilt away. The hunter had asked for this, had begged for this. Glory. More glory. More prowess in combat. Their Legio would dominate the stars. 

Ask, and it shall be given to you

And so the other voice said that night, that moment the hunter crossed the line, from right to wrong. That was what the pitiful tech-priests who stuck with the weakling Emperor would say. No Emperor! Only Machine God!

The hunter had never left the chair. 

She had never left the chair. 

The gift came quickly like a bolt of lightning. It seared through the Warhound, fusing all living organisms to the bolts, steel and wiring of the beast. In an instant, Fernandez was gone. Anna, the navigator, was gone. Magos Perriot was gone. All bonded to her, the hunter, to the Warhound, their flesh and blood literally becoming part of her body, the hunter’s body. 

The hunter had never felt so much power. The surge of kill-pleasure chased all feelings of guilt away. The Damned Hound was suddenly powerful. Invincible. A killing machine. An attack dog no more. 

Yet, why did the hunter… she… cringe at the sight of the enemy Warhound now prowling towards them?

+++

No! The Katherine I knew is dead! You are… not her!

The cry was one of pain. Of shock and betrayal.  

A weakling’s cry, the other voice reassured her.

The hunter opened its… her…mouth. Katherine is here. Joined with me. I am stronger now. We are stronger now

Is that my name? The hunter thought idly. 

The enemy Warhound attacked. 

+++

They fought, wolf and wolf, Warhound and Warhound. Their claws flew. Their Destructors blazed. Hate and hate. Betrayed and betrayer. Skitarii cheered them on, one of the weakling loyalists and the other the victorious traitors. 

The hunter felt the pain behind the fury of the enemy Warhound. Pain because of the loss… of friendship

You do not need friends. Only the strong will remain!

+++

The enemy Warhound pursued them relentlessly. 

Its very presence mocked the hunter. 

It kept asking questions. Why? Why? Why?

We are gods, Xifeng. We make the earth shake when we hunt. We are powerful! Why do we let the likes of a mere Emperor constrict us?

Who said that? Was it… her? Xifeng. Who was Xifeng? Images of ornate mahjong tiles with patterns, gentle laughter and cups of tea fleeted through the corrupted soul/brain/mind. 

You are delusional, Katherine. Are you even Katherine? The other princeps’s Manifold voice wept. 

I am Katherine. The voice hissed. The voice was hers and not. Xifeng, there is a larger universe beyond your puny Terra. There is power. There is so much power!

Damn you, Katherine. You are so far gone. You are beyond redemption!

Perhaps, I am, Xifeng. I am a traitor, am I?

The hunter began to laugh and cry at the same time, its… her…mind riven. 

It’s time to kill and make yourself feel better, the other voice purred. 

+++

The enemy Warhound cornered its prey.

The Warhounds had names. Glorious names. Deed names with their kill-counts displayed proudly on banners. The hunter used to have a name. She had a name. 

Ignis Lupus.

Was that Fernandez’s voice? 

Ignis Lupus.

Was that Anna’s voice? 

Ignis Lupus.

Was that Magos Perriot’s voice?

No, we are The Damned Hound. Canis Condemnabitur

The hunter howled and howled. 

+++

Beneath the hunter’s feet, the soldiers fought their grim wars. The loyalist skitarii mocked her. 

Weaklings. All of them. Weaklings. 

The enemy Warhound snarled. Come and face me, you coward

The Damned Hound barked a scrapcode curse. You will still lose the war, Xifeng

Somewhere, Katherine De Souza recoiled, shamed.

Face me, you coward! Tell me why you turned traitor!

The voice spoke for her. It was her, wasn’t it? You will never understand, Xifeng. You will never know why.

Katherine De Souza struggled at her bonds futilely. No!

Come back, you… traitor!

The hunter didn’t turn back. It won’t turn back. 

I am sorry, a tiny whisper in the Manifold sighed like the cold wind blowing across the battlefield. I am damned as it is

Then, the wind ripped it away.

About the Author

Joyce Chng lives in Singapore. Their fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF IIWe See A Different FrontierCranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Joyce also co-edited THE SEA IS OURS:  Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Their RPG experience started with Demon: The Descent (Onyx Path). They write about werewolves in Singapore and werewolf clan wars in space.