Harry Potter was hurting, but that was no surprise.
The nine year old boy lay stricken on the ground, curled up in pain as unforgiving feet kicked and pummeled at him. He could hear laughter, loud and porcine, coming from his tormentors in a hurricane of ugly noise. Dudley and his gang. It never ceased to marvel the boy how cruel they could be. How cruel the human race could be.
Long ago the son of Lily and James Potter had learned this simple testament; from the beatings he received at Vernon's hands, to the harsh dismissal in the eyes of his Aunt Petunia. Any hope of acceptance, any hope of approval from his adopted family was gutted on his fifth birthday when instead of presents and love, he was greeted with hatred and fists. Harry had tried hard before then, tried to earn the acceptance Dudley was granted just by existing, and failed because of the simple fact that he was Harry James Potter and not Dudley Dursley. It had confounded him then, a puzzle that he could not solve no matter how hard he tried. Now… Now such things failed to garner a single flick of bewilderment from him.
He had accepted how these things would be. He would never have friends that Dudley had. He would never have the acceptance all parents should give their children. He would never have the love that no person could live without.
Yes, Harry Potter was in pain, but that was no surprise.
The boy grit his teeth as a particularly heavy blow struck him in the chest, and his emerald eyes shut together to halt the tears.
There was no hope for him. There would be no change for him.
A looming shadow broke his thoughts and the kicks that had assailed his gauntly frame suddenly ceased. His eyes flickered open, expecting tricks, expecting falsehoods when by all rights his heart should be filled with innocence.
Eyes as green as his own stared back, glinting without emotion. It was then Harry realized that those emerald orbs were not eyes at all, but visors, mounted on a crimson helm that resembled a medieval knight's.
That would explain why the kicks had stopped then.
The man, if he was a man which Harry doubted considering his size, halted before the scene, and the pressurized hum that came from his armor was enough to make his gums ache. It was with a hint of pleasure that the boy realized Dudley and his pack of bullies were all gaping like fish out of water (in Dudley's case a particularly fat fish) in the presence of the armored being, but the feeling passed when a fresh lance of pain sheared through his ribs. A faint clack was heard as the butt end of a staff fell against the pavement, and suddenly his tormentors were backing away, horrified expressions on their features.
Harry could see why. Steel blades rose from the staff like the tip of a halberd, gleaming in the sunlight. A certain malevolence could be attributed to the stave and the man it belonged to, a certain wrongness that seemed to make the boy's mind dizzy and nauseous. That, and a very large gun was holstered by the man's plated hip.
Slowly, fluidly, the being kneels, and Harry shuddered slightly as the giant neared.
"Does it hurt?" it asked, in a voice that rasped like metal, "Do you feel pain?"
Harry could not quite respond to that.
"Does agony weigh on your mind, Chosen Child?" it continued, unperturbed by the lack of reply it was getting, "Have you given in to your pain?"
"W-What?" Harry managed to croak out.
"Pain. Do you feel it?"
"Y-yes…" he whispered back, not knowing why this thing was talking to him of all people.
"Would you like the pain to go away?" the giant spoke again, softer this time, but his tone still grated against the boy's ears.
If Harry Potter had been any other child, he would have said 'yes'. But Harry Potter was not any other child, and his time with the Dursleys had ripped any sense of normalcy into tattered shreds. So he answered no.
"You would wish the pain to continue?" the man clad in crimson plate tilted his helm as though if in deep thought, "You would seek agony when respite is available?"
"There is no hope," Harry murmured emptily, mind dull with pain, "I have no hope."
"There is no hope amongst the stars," the being seemed strangely satisfied with that answer, "Only the laughter of thirsting gods."
A gauntlet was offered to the fallen boy, a hand that massively dwarfed the child's in size and immensity.
"I can take you away from this place," the man's voice had grown low, but the traces of steel could still be heard, "Take you to a place where your true journey can begin."
"Will I still feel pain?"
The giant looked down, his expression hidden behind his helm.
"Nothing will stop the pain. You will always feel wronged, mentally and physically. The pain can only grow. It will turn into hatred and loathing before long, and it will twist your mind into a coven for madness and depravity."
Harry blinked, his state of agony temporarily forgotten.
"But nurture that pain… Cherish it… Understand it… And it will give you the means to rule a world."
Harry looked up, saw into the emerald visors that mirrored the color of his own eyes, and could detect no lie.
"What say you?"
The boy stared at the speaker, then slowly moved his gaze to his surroundings, to the playground around him, to the packs of children staring open-mouthed at the knight in their midst. He turned, swallowed, and spoke.
Armored digits clasped frail, thin fingers, and Harry sensed a thin smile twitching beneath the man's helm.
"My name is Apophis," were the last words he heard before both man and child disappeared in a flash of Warp energy.
NASA was in a state of uproar. Pandemonium. Chaos.
Across a multiple of screens, all connected to the orbiting satellites above the atmosphere, showed a monster approaching Earth. It was not a ship. It looked nothing like a ship. It was a fused mass of metal and unrecognizable materials, a looming asteroid that propelled itself forward with dozens of engines.
Thirty-seven kilometers long. Twelve across. If this thing crashed into the planetary crust, then Earth faced an era of extinction unparalleled in history.
Unbeknownst to the scientists in their lab coats and the technicians monitoring their consoles, the massive thing had a name. In fact, it had many names. The Wrath Encarmine. The Dirge of Vengeance. Hellaspont. Blood of Khorne. Demise of Worlds. Deathbringer. Isha's Tears. Dozens of war vessels fused together to form a mobile battle-station over the span of ten thousand years. The Imperium called such unholy unions, Space Hulks.
Within its depths, within meter-thick adamantite; three hundred crimson clad warriors of Prospero awaited their master's command. Within a cargo hold protected by shimmering shields, slumbered a god birthed into machine form. And even deeper within, past layers of bulkheads, past vast munitions bunkers and massive plasma engines, a coven of aliens lived in a city of sculptured wraithbone.
To the myriad inhabitants that called the behemoth's innards home, one name rose above all.
The Wayward Son.