Brakain swung his chainaxe and messily gutted and then flung aside another Guardsman that had dared to stand before him. Seeing that the Guardsman was still alive, he stomped his foot down into the gaping stomach wound and ground his heel until the shrieking stopped. Momentarily satisfied, he stalked off looking for more victims.
Brakain's Chaos armor was washed with blood and speckled with bits of gore, but it still wasn't enough. Brakain had sworn his soul to Khorne for the advantages that gave him in slaking his bloodlust, but he had a secret. He didn't give a damn about Khorne. He mouthed the words and stepped through the rituals, but in the end, Brakain slaughtered for no one but Brakain.
A squad of Guardsmen rounded a nearby corner and as soon as they saw the bloody Chaos Marine they opened fire. Although moderately accurate, the lasgun fire splattered harmlessly off the ornate chaos armor. In fact, the only real effect it has was to create small areas that were seared clean of blood. Brakain would see to it that that condition was only temporary. With vicious glee, he charged into the doomed Guardsmen. Men died and blood splashed to his delight. All too soon Brakain found himself standing in a small circle of bloody, broken, and dismembered bodies. Blood and pieces of flesh covered him from head to foot. It was glorious. He tilted his head back and roared his ecstasy to the sky. "Blood for myself! These skulls are mine!"
Brakain dropped his weapons, fell to his knees and clasped his hands to the sides of his helmet as pressure from inside his skull seemed to threaten to burst it apart. Through the pain and pressure, a voice spoke, "I heard that. The oaths that you swore to me are not as casually forsworn as those you made to the corpse god. I've known of your lack of faith for some time. It amused me to allow you to believe you had a secret. But now you've given voice to your blaspheming for others to hear and I can't let that go unpunished. You no longer amuse me and I have found a special place for your torment."
The air before Brakain shimmered and a swirling blackness of a portal formed. The pain receded but he found he could not control his body. Of its own accord, his body picked up his weapons, stood and stepped through the portal and his awareness slipped into oblivion.
When Brakain came back to awareness, he was not where he expected to be. He was propped up against a tree in the shade. There was a gentle breeze, the temperature was mild, the sky sunny and blue with few clouds. He had expected his surroundings to be decidedly less pleasant. The next thing he noticed was how everything seemed to be unusually large. The trees, plants, wooden fence, all seemed about three times the size they should be. Even the hand painted sign declaring this domain to be the '100 Acre Woods' was of immense proportions. He was trying to imagine what huge monstrosities inhabited this land when his thoughts were interrupted by a voice behind him, "Well hullo."
Brakain whirled around to face the speaker and was taken aback by the creature confronting him. It appeared to be some kind of short, fat, tan colored bear. Unlike normal bears, this one was standing on its hind legs as if that was its normal mode of walking and it stood about a head and a half shorter than Brakain. It was also wearing a short sleeve, red pull over shirt and for some reason that bothered Brakain. It had no visible claws or fangs, (Brakain assumed they were retracted until the creature was ready to attack and kill) but the most unsettling thing was the happy, friendly, but rather stupid seeming, expression on the beasts' face.
"Say," the creature said hopefully, "you wouldn't happen to have a smackeral of honey you'd like to share would you?"
Brakain activated his chain axe. He was being tested, he knew. He still had his weapons and that, he reasoned, could only mean that he had a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Khorne. He hefted the screaming axe over his head and leapt to the attack.
"Blood for the Blood God!"
Just before the axe bit into the protruding tan abdomen, the creature looked up at Brakain with clear disappointment in his expression, "I'll take that as a 'no'." At the same time, something small and pink darted out from behind the bear and disappeared into the brush screaming, "ODEAR!ODEAR!ODEAR!ODEAR!ODEAR!!!!!!!!!!!"
After completing the stroke, Brakain stepped back in shock and horror. He was expecting to wash his armor in a gout of blood and entrails. Instead all that burst forth from the gaping wound was, white fluff! And, the creature was still standing. Its midsection had been completely torn open and in fact the top half had fallen backwards and Brakain could see the back of the creatures head between the stubby legs. Fluff had scattered on the ground, but there was not one drop of blood anywhere. As he watched, the head rotated completely around and regarded Brakain with sad eyes. "Oh bother."
Brakain attacked again and this time kept slashing until the creature was completely dismembered and fluff was scattered in a wide circle. When he was done, Brakain looked carefully for even the tiniest trace of blood. There was none. He also noticed this time; there were no trace of bones either. He walked over to where the head had rolled to and put a bolt round into its forehead. A hole was punched and the dirt below puffed, but there was no other effect. The creature's eyes rolled up as if to look at the hole and it simply said, "Double bother."
Brakain stomped on the head as hard as he could. There was no resistance. Where he would have normally expected the crunch of bone and the spurt of brains, there was nothing. Just the creatures sad voice, "Triple.." STOMP "bother." STOMP "What comes.." STOMP "after triple?" STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP The head had literally been stomped into the ground, but it refused to die. "Mrfrp pofmr?"
Brakain was prepping a krak grenade to shove up the neck hole when he heard singing coming from down the road.
The most wonderful things about Tiggers,
And Tiggers are wonderful things.
Bushes along the road prevented Brakain from seeing clearly what was approaching. He was able to catch glimpses of an orange and black 'something' bounding closer. He quickly re-attached the grenade to his belt and rushed to the base of the tree he woke up under and prepared to ambush whatever it was.
Their heads are made out of rubber,
Their tails are made out of springs.
The creature bounded into view springing forward on all fours. It was orange with black stripes just as he has spied earlier and it had the definite look of a predator. Although it was larger than the bear, it was still smaller than himself. Brakain smiled to himself, 'Warp beast.' He thought, 'This should provide some entertainment.'
The creature skidded to a halt as it came upon the scene of the fluff-carnage. "Pooh-boy! Is dat you?" It looked around some more, "Or should I say, was dat you? It looks like ol'stuffed with fluff aint so stuffed with fluff anymore." It then bounded over to a severed leg and picked it up. It peered intently into the stump. "Pooh-boy, ya in there? Speak ta me buddy!"
"Over here Tigger."
Tigger spun around and quickly located the source of the voice. Pooh's tan snout was sticking up from a depression in the road. Tigger bounded over, "Pooh-boy, ya don't look so good. What happened ta ya?"
"We have a new neighbor. He doesn't seem to be very friendly."
"Blood for the Blood God!"
"That would be him."
Brakain bolted from his hiding place intent on carving the warp beast in half. The blow never landed. Brakain quickly discovered that this warp beast was agile in the extreme. The other thing he discovered was that it had a very unusual method of movement. When it wasn't rebounding from trees and rocks, it would bounce around in a sitting position. Its hind legs were straight out and its forepaws were clutching the toes of its hind feet. It was bouncing on its tail as if it really was a spring, just like it was singing about. Brakain hoped his head wasn't really made out of rubber. He was looking forward to seeing some brains splatter beneath his chain axe.
"Whoo-Hoo-Hoo!" Tigger crowed, "It looks like somebody needs a good pounce'n and bounce'n. And I'm just the Tigger to do it!" And with that he launched into some serious bouncing and pouncing.
Brakain realized he had seriously underestimated the abilities of this warp beast. Try as he might, he was not able to land a blow with his axe or score a hit with his bolt pistol. What was even more distressing was the fact that the beast had landed on him several times, only to spring off again without doing any damage or injury. It had yet to use its claws or fangs.
They fought for quite a while. Their melee carried them up the road, over fences, through woods and over fields. Brakain was beginning to tire and had yet to land a blow. He also had yet to be wounded by the beast. They were fighting in the midst of another field when their battle was interrupted by a piercing screech.
"My garden! You ruined my garden!"
At the sound of that voice, Tigger did the last thing Brakain would ever have expected him to do. He jumped right into his arms and hugged him around the neck. Tigger quickly scanned the ground, torn up vegetables and shattered melons were scattered everywhere. "Oh-oh, looks like we accidentally pounced Rabbit's garden." Agile as a squirrel, Tigger scampered onto Brakain's back and whispered into his ear, "Ol' long ears can get a bit touchy when his veggies get bounced, this might be a good time to get a bounce'n in some other direction." And then he sprang from Brakain's back and bounded away through the woods. "Whoo-Hoo-Hoo!"
Still panting from the exertion of fighting the warp beast, Brakain turned to face this new opponent. 'Ol' Long Ears, as the beast called him, did indeed look like a rabbit. Unlike normal rabbits though, this mutation walked upright, was nearly as tall as him, and had opposable thumbs. As it stalked towards him through the devastated garden, Brakain took stock of its important features. Its legs looked strong enough, but that was only to be expected. Its arms were stick thin but he didn't dismiss it as weak. He had been surprised twice already by these creatures. It also carried that shovel as if it was well trained on how to use it for other than digging.
There was no reason for it, but Brakain felt the creature was familiar somehow. Then he saw it, the eyes. If there was one thing he would surely be able to recognize, it was berserker frenzy. At last, he thought, an enemy he could understand. They stood glaring at each other for a moment more and then,
"Blood for the Blood God!"
"You ruined my garden!"
The fury of this rabbit beast impressed Brakain. What he couldn't understand though, was it's ravings about vegetables. They battled inconclusively back and forth across the field. More back than forth on Brakain's part. He was already exhausted from fighting the warp beast and had little energy reserves left. He found himself being steadily pushed backwards and realized the end of the fight was not far off and that he would not be the victor. Death in battle, he reflected, was the best he could hope for.
He had just completed that thought when the back of his legs hit up against a low fence and he tumbled over. He rolled out of control down a slope and came to rest about 50 feet from the fence. The rabbit glared at him from the other side of the fence and shouted down at him, "And don't come back until you've decided to be more careful! I don't care if you are new around here." With that he turned around and walked back into his garden.
Brakain lay panting where he had fallen for several minutes to recover some strength. Eventually he felt strong enough to shamble off and put some distance between him and the rabbit. He thought it was best to avoid another conflict until he was back up to strength. He felt better as he went along, but was not fully recovered when he heard voices. Instantly wary, he looked around for the source but couldn't locate it. The voices sounded odd, hollow somehow. Carefully, he tracked the sound and was surprised to discover it was coming from a hole in the ground on the far side of a small clearing.
"I-I-I-I'm telling y-y-you Gopher, this n-n-new guy is r-r-really big and m-m-mean."
"Just a whistle dang minute Piglet! Where did this whistle guy come from and what whistle happened to Pooh?"
Brakain listened for a few moments and decided against entering the hole. He could not be true to his oaths and turn away from a killing, but there was never an oath taken that he had to be stupid about it. He took two frag grenades from his belt, activated the primers, dropped them in the hole, and backed off. He readied his weapons and waited. Right when he expected, there was the muffled crump of the grenades going off and a fountain of dirt and dust vomiting up from the hole. The dirt and dust settled and then there was silence. He waited, because he wanted to be sure, but no creatures emerged from the hole and neither were there any more voices. Brakain heaved a great sigh of satisfaction. At last, he was able to kill something. Savoring the pleasure of that thought, he left the area, searching for more victims.
Had he delayed his departure for a few minutes more, he might have noticed a medium size rock on the other side of the clearing roll to one side, revealing a hole underneath. Emerging from the hole was the small dust covered form of Piglet, followed closely by an equally dusty Gopher.
"I-I told you he was m-mean."
"I whistle didn't say I didn't believe you. Say, I wonder whistle if he'd be willin' to trade some of them fancy whistle grenade do-hickeys for some old fashioned dyn-nee-mite?"
"Hey Gopher? How did you know about granades?"
"That's whistle 'grenades' and lets just say that if it whistle goes boom, I make it a point to know somethin' about it. Enough of that for now. Let's go whistle find Pooh."
Brakain had wandered for a while when the fluttering of wings alerted him to a new encounter. Looking up, he saw a large owl-like bird land on a tree limb about ten feet off the ground.
"Greetings and welcome to our illustrious woodland. My name is Owl and let me extend to you my personal welcome to the Hundred Acre Woods. I understand you've already met some of our residents and there have been a few minor misunderstandings. I've taken it upon myself to act as official greeter and mediator for….."
Brakain shut off the audio receptors of his helmet. Aside from battle cries and threats, he was not much into conversation. Not that it seemed he would be able to get a word in anyway. At first Brakain thought this might be some kind of Keeper of Secrets but quickly dismissed the idea. Keepers don't babble and this bird showed no sign of shutting up, despite Brakain's total lack of interest. Well, there was always one way to shut someone up.
The result was totally unlike anything he expected. He hit the bird dead center with his bolt pistol and instead of blowing apart, there was a cloud of feathers and the bird was knocked backwards still clutching the limb and then spun completely back up again like some kind of animated shooting gallery target.
"I say, that was uncommonly rude! How can you expect to maintain a favorable relationship with..."
Again, there was a cloud of feathers and again the bird spun all the way around the branch.
"Well, I can see there is no point in trying to be sociable. I was going to have Kanga and Roo stop over to greet you but I shall now tell them not to bother. Good day sir!" With that he turned around on the branch and flipped his tail feathers up insultingly into the air in Brakain's direction prior to setting his wings for take off. This was not the wisest thing for a supposedly wise old owl to do as it provided Brakain with a perfect target for a parting shot.
The bolt round hit Owl in a very sensitive area and greatly accelerated his launch off the limb. In fact, he arched towards the horizon like a screaming, feather shedding, ballistic missile. Brakain went over to the spot below the tree limb to look for blood. He hit the damn thing three times! There should have been something! Search as he might though, there was none to be found. He threw his head back and vented his frustration by screaming at the sky, "Doesn't anything in this damn place BLEED!?" The pleasant, clear blue sky did not answer him. After he said it a very unpleasant thought came into his mind, but he quickly dismissed it. It was too horrible to think about. He checked the ground again just on the off chance he missed something and a cold chill went down his spine. There was not only no blood he realized, but no feathers either. Every time he hit the bird a veritable cloud of feathers were blown off. There was no trace of them anywhere.
Realizing there was nothing to be gained by standing still; he reactivated the audio receivers on his helmet and set off once more to explore more of this bewildering place. As the sun began to drop toward the horizon, he came across a modest sized stream flowing lazily along. People and animals usually live near water ways, so he decided to follow it up stream in search of something to kill. As he progressed along, he noticed the atmosphere was getting steadily more oppressive. At first he thought it was just the approaching evening, but his instincts told him it was something more. The further up the stream he went the gloomier the atmosphere became. Even the bright sun peeking through the trees did not relieve the oppressiveness.
Before too long he came to a very gloomy spot by the stream and there he found and odd creature sitting dejectedly by a crude shelter made of sticks. Brakain dropped behind some cover to study the beast before attacking it. It appeared to be some kind of beast of burden. It was typical of those found on almost any planet; it had four legs, a round body and an elongated head with long droopy ears. However, some differences struck Brakain immediately. This beast had no hoofs or horns. Its legs ended without any discernable appendages and it appeared to have been stitched together. Most disturbing was its tail. It appeared to be nothing so much as a long strip of cloth with some hair on one end and the other attached to the beast's rear end with a large tack.
Brakain had seen the abominable constructs of sorcerers before and knew the harmless appearance was a deception. There was no doubt I his mind that once a victim was close enough, all manner of blades and other weapons would explode out from the inside the creature. The depressive atmosphere of the area was getting to Brakain. He was surprised to discover he had to will himself into a blood frenzy instead of it coming naturally. Prepared for the worst, Brakain burst from his cover and sprinted toward the beast.
"Blood for the Blood God!!"
The only reaction the beast had was to turn towards Brakain and regard him with his sad, mournful eyes. Before Brakain could strike, it spoke to him in a voice that as every bit as sad and depressing as you might expect from its' appearance. The deep bass voice dolefully and slowly rumbled, "So, you're going to kill me. (sigh) Can't say as I blame you. Someone will sooner or later and it might as well be you." It made no effort to defend itself.
Hearing the creature talk sucked all the fury right out of Brakain, leaving him feeling empty and drained. His charge slowed to a walk, his raised weapons were lowered to his sides, and he came to a stop directly in front of the beast. It looked up at him with its' sad eyes and spoke in its' depressing tone again, "Changed your mind? Can't say as I blame you. I wouldn't consider myself the worth the trouble of killing either. Not that you'd be interested, but my name is Eyore." With every word Eyore spoke, Brakain felt himself slip deeper and deeper into despair. "Since you're here, and I wouldn't blame you if you left, we might as well get to know each other. Do you like birthday parties? I went to one once and," The droning voice faded out and Brakain started as he suddenly realized he was sitting on the ground. Before he could do anything more, Eyores' voice muddled its way into his conscious again. "..and then they put a blindfold on this kid and handed him my tale." Eyores' droning faded out again as Brakain struggled to concentrate. Too late he realized this creature was a psyker and the mental attack was more than he could handle. He had to do something to block out the voice. "That's why I don't like birthday parties. They are a literal pain in the," It took all his remaining willpower, but Brakain managed shut off the audio receivers of his helmet before totally giving in to utter despair.
He dragged himself erect, picked up his weapons and slowly shuffled away from Eyore. In his depressed state, he no longer cared that he was leaving himself open to attack from the creature or that he failed to spill any blood. As he thought about it he hung on to that thought. Not spilling any blood fueled his anger and shame. He could feel his emotions returning the further he got away from the beast.
He wandered aimlessly, not caring where he went or paying too much attention to his surroundings. As the shadows lengthened and sunset approached, Brakain realized with a start that he was back at the tree he woke up at. It was as good a place as any to settle in and wait for night, so he sat down and leaned back against the tree. He was looking forward to seeing what sort of night predators inhabited this woodland. He looked around and was not greatly surprised to discover that there was no fluff from the bear creature anywhere to be seen.
Brakain had not been sitting down very long when he heard the pounding of feet hurrying up the road toward him. He stood and peered through the lengthening shadows and was elated to see a child running toward him. A human child, a creature of flesh (and more importantly, blood) that was all his for the slaughter. He had a brief moment of trepidation when he realized that this 'child' was of tremendous size. It was well over twice Brakain's height. The moment quickly passed and was replaced with a sense of heightened anticipation. Bigger just meant more flesh to rend and more blood to spill. His anticipation was almost too much to bear as he waited for the child to get close. When the child was close enough, and he couldn't stand to wait any longer,
"Blood for the Blood God!!"
He launched himself from behind the tree, firing as he charged. His elation at having a human victim changed to dismay as he saw his shots impact on the child and have no more effect than puffs of air. However, his shock at that was nothing compared to what happened next. The child's reaction to Brakain's attempt at violent, bloody murder was to shout, "Hooray! He's here! He's here!" and swept the dumbfounded Brakain up in a hug and danced around shouting "He's here! He's here! He finally arrived!"
Although numb with shock, he recovered quickly. His arms were pinned to his sides and he was being held up off the ground, so he did the only thing he could. He started yelling. "Let go of me! Put me down!" Brakain was getting desperate. Not only was being joyfully hugged, unnatural and totally revolting, the up and down and spinning motion was making him nauseous. Or, it might have been from being hugged. Either way he had to do something quick. He began to slam his head against the boy's chest to punctuate each word. "STOP-HUGGING-ME-YOU-DAMN-FREAK!"
That seemed to get through. "That's right!" The boy said brightly, "Berserkers aren't supposed to like hugs." The boy put him down and Brakain immediately pumped five more shots into the boys' chest only to see the same 'puff of air' effect that happened the first time. He didn't really expect anything different, but he had to be sure. He lowered his weapons and struggled with his despair. Shortly he looked up at the boy and asked.
"Who are you, what are you, and where am I?"
"Well now," the boy responded, "My name is Christopher Robin and I'm very pleased to meet you." He then gave him a 'why ask the obvious' look and said, "I'm a little boy." He then through his arms wide and exclaimed, "And this is the One Hundred Acre Woods." As if that explained everything.
"Why doesn't anything bleed here?"
"I told you, this is the One Hundred Acre Woods. No one ever gets bad boo-boo's here."
Brakain's mind flashed back to all the types of hideous violence and slaughter that he had dedicated his life to doing and the only reply he seemed capable of making to Christopher's statement was to repeat, "Bad boo-boo's?" Brakain tried a different angle. "You seemed to be expecting me. How did I get here?"
"Well, first I talked mum into ordering you from the web site, then the postman delivered you to my house, and then I brought you out here so you could come to life. This wood is a magical place. When I leave my toys out here, they come to life after a few days. Pooh was first. I forgot about him when I was playing one day and when I found him again, he was alive. After that, I left a lot of my toys out here. They all came to life. Wait until you meet them!"
"What in the name of all the damned hells of the warp are you talking about!? I am NOT a toy! I am Brakain. I sold my soul to the god of blood. I have slaughtered untold thousands for over a thousand years! I AM NOT A TOY!"
Christopher looked down at him and spoke with the kind of conviction that seems to come easily to small children, "You're a toy. Not just any toy though. You're a Forge World limited edition one third scale Berserker. Complete in every detail. Mum thinks you're overpriced, and she might be right, but I don't care."
Brakain stared up at the giant child with horror beginning to seep into every part of his being. "I am Brakain, devoted to Khorne, A Chaos Marine berserker. I am not a toy." His works lacked conviction though. The logical part of his mind could think of no other explanation for all the bizarre things that had happened during the day. The other part of his brain that dealt with killing, slaughter and spilling blood was so aghast with horror at the idea; it was attempting to shut down.
Before the shutdown was complete, Christopher's' voice cut into his consciousness again. "Well, you are a toy and we're going to have such fun together. Oh, and your name is now 'Bob'. Yes, I like that. Bob the Berserker."
That kindled a spark in Brakain, "No! My name is Brakain!"
Christopher gave him an indulgent smile, "No, it was Brakain, now it's Bob." Christopher looked at the setting sun and then back down to Brakain. "I have to get back to the house now. But don't worry, I'll be back tomorrow and we'll have a birthday party for you! There will be cake, and ice cream, and balloons, and hats, and favors, and all your new friends will be there. We'll have a splendid time!" He then turned around and disappeared down the road he had just come up.
Brakain watched him go in silence. He then turned in a slow circle to take in his surroundings one more time. Clear blue sky, healthy green and growing trees and plants, mild temperature, gentle breeze. There was no mistaking this place for what it was. Still though, it was not what he had ever imagined hell would look like.