|In the Wastes
Author: Mataspore PM
After committing an act of blatant treason against the Imperium of Man the rogue psyker Thrope aims to have his gang melt away into the vast power wastes, but the wastes will prove to be as deadly - if not more so - as any servant of the corpse-emperor.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Supernatural - Chapters: 7 - Words: 13,151 - Reviews: 5 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 12-12-12 - Published: 06-06-12 - id: 8189909
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Some Months Later
The carcass of the black ship has long since been taken by Taka's friends in blue, the few surviving sacrifices have mostly chosen to go over to the side of their rescuers – they know what awaits them if they happen to fall into the hands of the Imperium once again. As does the man called Thrope.
The followers of a dying god-emperor know precisely who is responsible for the loss of one of their precious harvesters. Thrope left a most derogatory message aboard several of the remaining escape pods – most of which were used by the surviving crew-members. In said message he made several references to various orifices of the high lords of Terra as well as acts he may or may not have performed with their mothers. Though it is likely the detailed schematics, security codes and crew timetable of the black ship that he provided are slightly more responsible for the huge manhunt now taking place than whether he did or did not truly manage to get an entire egg-whisk up there.
A man who knows this much is an unforgivable security risk to the paranoid masters of mankind. Thrope has signed his death warrant, as well as those of his crew, his family, his pet goldfish Mr. Squig and any one of the hundreds of innocent (for a given value of innocent) people he may have at some time come into contact with.
Or he would have, if they knew where any of those people actually were.
Thrope has taken his crew to one of the few places in the galaxy that the Imperial Hammer fears to destroy, and that the lightning strikes of the Astartes disdain as beneath their efforts to purge. He has taken them to the Wastes.
The wastes are an odd place. Though the taint of chaos has no more hold on them than it has on Terra itself one could be forgiven for assuming this to not be the case. The wastes consist of several planets elliptically orbiting a binary star in a series of complicated patterns that would send anyone with even a basic grasp of astrology running for almost any other star system. The planets routinely come within celestial inches of each other as they violently swing around the two rotating stars at their centre, completing a full orbit almost twice the length of Terra's in roughly half the time. The path of each planet is almost identical to any other – separated only by the spatial plane they happen to be occupying. The overall visual effect could be likened to that of watching impossibly huge electrons dance their way around a nucleus – if anyone actually knew what those things were anymore of course.
Conventional wisdom says that the wastes simply should not work. Any sort of orbital decay should send the planets smashing into each other with the force of an entire Imperial fleets firepower. According to many hundreds of scholars the odds of this not having yet happened are astronomical, and the odds of it happening very soon a near certainty. And yet disaster consistently refuses to appear. The best of minds have puzzled, the most through analysis have been done. Every result says that this is a system which cannot possibly survive for much longer than a standard Imperial year. And still the wastes continue to exist, still they spin in their impossible orbits, still they befuddle the minds of any who try to puzzle them out... And still they generate such terrible fluctuations in any ships gravimetric sensors that any vessel weighing in at more than 1000 tonnes simply cannot approach them without sending themselves hurtling toward burning death in the heart of a star.
What amounts to basic immunity to the Imperial war-machine has made the wastes a positive haven for the more undesirable elements throughout the galaxy. Hive cities tied by the thinnest of threads to imperial loyalty dot the planets, their inhabitants trusting in blind luck for things to stay the same – and for their distance from imperial retribution to protect them from the consequences of their actions. They make their living selling off the scrapings of the ruins which fill the planets. Ruins that are filled to bursting with arcane and alien technology, ruins whose smallest room could hold untold riches for any able to discover them. Ruins that all but guarantee the death of any who deign to enter them. The most pristine examples maintain self-constructing systems of deadly traps, where the traps no longer function they are instead filled with all manner of unpleasant creatures – the original inhabitants of the wastes. And anywhere these creatures are not present is all but guaranteed to be the base of operations for any number of gangs.
And what gangs they are. The dregs of the galaxy war with the pristine armour of Imperial strike teams, demented cults following those infected with the genestealer ideals clash with the even more insane followers of daemonic chaos, from high atop the towers of the Hive cities the dreaded Spyre gangers launch their raids in a thunderstorm of firepower and pristine technological superiority, whilst Tau snipers trade fire with Eldar rangers as two strike forces from near opposite alien races collide.
Any two gangs will have but a few things in common. They will be dangerous, they will know the wastes like the back of whatever appendages they have at the end of their arms, they will have an agenda, and they will not forgive any attempt to interfere.
Thrope's gang is one of the very best. Not by reputation, not by membership and not by territory held. Thrope's gang is one of the best for the simple reason that each and every one of them has a full and complete understanding of what they are doing – and what could happen if even one of them should fall.
They call themselves the Masticators.
It is a strange name, at least one member of their gang doesn't really chew at all. And it hardly succeeds in driving away competition. Those few who happen to know what the word means are vastly outnumbered by those all too happy to apply a most amusing mistranslation. Which is exactly what Thrope wants. With a name he has turned his gang into a joke, with a name he has insured that they become subjects of ridicule, with a name he has opened the floodgates to a veritable tidal wave of provocation.
Imperial forces keep an eye out for anyone looking to "rule the world," any gang that seems a might overeager to expand becomes a threat – and threats have to be looked at far more closely. But Thrope's gang has never made a single effort to expand, all they do – all they ever have to do – is defend their good name.
When a junkie in the folds of the Flame Bandits wondered aloud whether they helped "masticate each other" Thrope poured a tankers worth of napalm into the ruins they were based in and personally kept it burning for 3 days. When the leader of the RawHides maliciously quizzed Taka on how many times a day he performed the act Taka calmly and carefully explained that he himself did not in fact chew at all – before slicing off said leaders feet and turning him in for a substantial bounty. When the hulking behemoth of the Bears gang offered a very decent price for their youngest member in order to aid his teams "masticatory needs" the entire gang were found dead the very next day, with bloated ripperjacks resting next to each corpse.
This continues for some time. Thrope has never once instigated a fight, he has never been anything but polite and fair in his dealings with others, and he has never failed to take advantage of every insult thrown his way. That the Masticators often acquire the territories of those that fall victim to their utterly justifiable anger is seen as nothing more than justice in the jaded eyes of what few authorities serve to watch the wastes.
And all the while, they are watched.