Turn 1: I Loathe A Crusade.
With apologies to the fine folks (and Matt Ward) at Games Workshop.
Ultima Segmentum, Planet Lawndale. Year 997.M41.
Colonel-Commissar DeMartino surveyed the motley crew of Planetary Defense Force troops, Guardsmen, Sisters of Battle and Space Marines of the redoubtable Lions Chapter who would be participating in the joint operation to eradicate the vile forces of Chaos from Lawndale. It was time for the rousing speech.
"Well, SOLDIERS! The time has come for us to PURGE this planet of HERESY once and for ALL!" DeMartino's augmetic right eye telescoped in and out in time to his staccato voice.
"Hey, Commissar D?" A power-gauntletted hand shot up from amidst the crowd. It was one of the yellow and blue liveried Lions. Now, were they an Ultramarines or an Imperial Fists successor chapter, DeMartino wondered. Their Brother Captain looked more like one of the Salamanders, though...
"YES, Brother Kelvinus?"
"Do we really gotta purge? My last girlfriend was into that and even though she had a hot bod, the stomach acid made her teeth really gross."
The Commissar unsheathed his laspistol. "Don't WORRY, Kelvinus! With the kind of PURGING we're doing, your TEETH will be the LEAST of your worries! Allow me to DEMONstrate!"
"Commissar DeMartino!" A voice that was ludicrously hammy and overdramatic even by the standards of Dawn of War voice acting bellowed out from behind him. "Just wwwwwhat do you think you're doing?"
"Governor Militant Li? I was MERELY about to CONDUCT a demonSTRATION of the proper method of dealing with GROSS INCOMPETENCE!"
"On a member of the Adeptus Astartes? I think not!"
"But, Governor Militant-"
"Do you have any idea what kind of resources the Imperium puts into the the selection, training and outfitting of every Space Marine? Just think of the kind of trouble I-I mean, The Imperrrrrrium of Man would be in if I allowed you to sacrifice one so frivolously."
"If you really need to summarily execute somebody, shoot one of those PDF losers, nobody cares about them, anyway."
"Yeah!" Brother Kelvinus piped up. "They gotta be full of gross incontinence. Otherwise they'd be Space Marines like us, right Mack Daddy?"
"I told you not to call me that." Said Brother Captain Macabias with disdain.
"Can't I shoot myself instead?" DeMartino pleaded.
"Sorry, no can do." Li was adamant. "Losing one of our HQ choices this early in the game will cost me... I mean, The Imperrrrium of Man, too many valuable points. You don't die until I say so."
Colonel-Commissar DeMartino never did get to finish the rousing speech. He was too busy looking for a Chaos Landraider to heroically throw himself under.
Turn 2: The Heresy Chick.
"Space Marines, Space Marines, fight, fight, fight! Purge the unclean with all your might! GOOOOO IMPERIUM! YAY!"
"I really wish they hadn't put Brittany in charge of the Laud Hailers." The Callidus Assassin groused as she readied her bolt pistol for action.
"Hey, could be worse," replied the Culexus as she removed her iconic skull mask for some fresh air, showing off a pair of beautiful blue eyes. "Inquistor Lord Sloane said he got some intel that the Noise Marines of the Mystic Spiral came out of The Warp not long ago and they're headed our way."
"Did the Inquisitor Lord say anything else, or was there too much moaning?"
"Nope, that was about the size of it, though there were also the awkward pauses after he shouted your name."
"Nice. Hey, Mystic Spiral, isn't that the one your brother defected into?"
"Yup. Hey, I should introduce you. You'd make a great Slaanesh groupie. I can see it now, the wild sex, the cocaine, the obscene, supernumerary appendages. Very you."
"I'll consider it... once we finish this damn mission. I could have sworn that Chaos Sorceress went this way. What was her name, again? Hecuba?"
"Something like that. I can't wait to cut her up... these new powerclaws don't have nearly enough bloodstains yet."
Turn 3: Too Repentant.
Cannoness Jodiaca Iandon surveyed the dataslate with mounting anxiety. The brave sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Workaholism were being hammered. Palatine Cindera entered the campaign bunker, a fresh wound on her deceptively soft face from where a stubber round had grazed it.
"Sitrep?" The Cannoness wasted no time in getting to the point.
"We're getting slaughtered out there, Ma'am. The heretics outnumber us 2-1 and that's not even counting the daemons they've summoned."
"We need to act quickly. If we can't cut to the heart of their forces before the Traitor Marines and mechanized divisions start airdropping into this sector we're through."
"Excepting the daemons, as many of them as there are, they're still just an armed rabble. Some good anti-infantry choices should put them in their place. Put the Sisters Repentia out front and have the Celestians hit the flanks."
"Are you sure that's such a good idea, Ma'am?"
"Ugh, these hoods are, like, sooo last edition."
"Yeah... but, it still looks good on you, Sandi."
"Why, thank you, Stacy."
"And the neural-whip scars really match the bloodstains on your chainsword. You're so co-ordinated."
"Ummm... does this Penitent Engine make me look faaaat?"
The chatter was cut short by the crack of the red-haired Repentia Mistress' whip.
"Come oooon, you cows! We've got a battle to win!"
Turn 4: Tentacle Monster.
No sign of the elusive Chaos Sorceress and the pounding of Defiler guns was getting closer. If the girls from the Officio Assassinorum weren't agitated before, they certainly were now.
"Damnit, where is she?"
"Hey, what's that over there?"
A strange sound was coming from the remains of a bombed-out building at the side of the road. Something slimy and squelching. Definitely something of the ruinous powers. The Assassins struck quickly. There was a flash of blades and spilling ichor... and other fluids. Severed appendages gripping an eldritch tome fell to the floor, a tome containing images that would destroy the minds of ordinary people.
"Hey," the Culexus Assassin mused at the horrific volume clutched in the still-writhing tentacles, "Isn't that the latest issue of Playhouse of Tentacular Horrors?"
"I don't know, but that's definitely not Hecuba the dark sorceress." The sardonic maiden of the Callidus temple said, pointing at the rippling mass of fluid-dripping, veiny tendrils and spike-festooned, magenta armor that stood before them, crowned by a disturbingly still-human face, spotty, ginger-haired and smirking evilly.
"Well hello, llllladiessss." It hissed at them.
"Who... or what... are you?"
"I am The Rutting Hymir, Lord of Exquisite Excess and Lust-Champion of Slaanesh! Bow before me and receive extacies beyond your wildest dreams! Resist and suffer agony so-"
The monster was unable to finish its grandiose speechifying, as his head was sent rolling by a well-placed sword strike. The unspeakable body slumped down, oozing noxious substances onto the floor.
"Let's get out of here."
"Don't have to tell me twice."
As the women left that house of unspeakable horror... well, annoyance, anyway, a hideous death-rattle echoed down the bomb-ravaged halls.
Turn 5: Pierce Me With Sword & Fire.
Amid the roar of gunfire and agonized screaming, an even more hateful sound emerged as the superannuated mechanisms of the Rhino Transport ground and shrieked across the battlefield. The tank was painted black, aside from the evils sigils painted on its surface and the brown of the dried blood that had dripped out of the skulls of defeated enemies that adorned the roof-racks. From the hatch, four figures emerged, clad in twisted power armor and carrying instruments of incomprehensible technology and vile demonic forces.
"Hey. We're the Mystic Spiral Chaos Legion... though we're thinking of changing our name. This one goes out to all you followers of the shrunken corpse god on Terra. Hit it."
My hopes have been crushed My heart's turned to mush Feel like you threw me underneath A Rhino Rush!
The heads of countless Guardsmen exploded from the sheer awfulness of the Noise Marines' dissonant, Warp-spawned "music", but the monstrous refrain was soon cut short as the shaven-headed Marine laid down his instrument of destruction.
"Hey, wait a minute, I don't think there is a Rhino Rush anymore."
"Yeah, I think they got rid of it the last time they changed the rules for transports like they did with Fish of Fury. It was just too rigged."
"No, I think it's still around," The long-haired one spoke up, "It just got nerfed."
"No, I'm pretty sure it's gone."
"Damn, this is gonna drive me nuts." Said their leader.
"Um, guys, does it really matter?" The youngest-looking one asked.
"Nah, we gotta figure this out. Let's go find a copy of the latest codex."
Their expedition was short-lived, however, as at that moment their own transport was dashed to pieces by the foot of an air-dropping Warlord Titan.
"Omnissiah damn it!" Shouted the Princeps irritably. "They told me the drop zone was clear! Do you have any idea what that's gonna do to the shocks? Or what the repair bill's gonna cost? GAAAH!" The amniotic Link Connection Liquid in the Titan's Command Plug turned pink with blood from burst capillaries and the automated medical systems went into overdrive trying to restore the Princeps' heart to working order. On the ground below, the Noise Marines dusted themselves off and surveyed the damage.
"Damn. Anybody got a glue-gun?"
Turn 6: Fire Fire Fire!
"Heh...heheheh... remember that time we found that dead Ork? All that stuff that came out of his butt when we jumped on him?"
"Huh...huhuhuh... yeah, that was cool."
"Heheh... what if we killed one of those 'Nid Biotitans? Imagine all the stuff that'd come out of its butt. Heheheh..."
"Huhuhuh... awesome... huhuh..."
The two Chaos cultists' reverie was interrupted by a pair of gauntletted hands smacking their hydrocephalic heads together.
"Get out there and kill something you dipshits!" Aspiring Champion Ianuzzi screamed as he kicked them down of the cliff overlooking the battlefield.
"Ah! I'm bleeding, man... I'm bleeding."
The pain of their broken ribs and concussions was soon forgotten as they spotted the Celestian squad immolating their confreres.
"Burn, baby, burn." Deadpanned the smirking, sleepy-faced blond at the head of the squad.
"Heheheh... check it out! Fire! Firefirefire!"
"Huhuhuh... and hot chicks. Let's go score. Huhuh..."
And so, the weinerhead-er, cultists clambered over the hot 'n' fresh BBQed bodies of their fallen comrades for a taste of something equally hot and much moister.
"Huh...huhuh... come to Butt-Hea-."
The crude come-on was cut brutally short by the flood of flaming prometheum.
"Heheheh... fire... fire...heh..."
The blond cultist (or he would have been if he still had a scalp) was all but dead when he heard a strange, deep, ethereal voice...
"I AM KHORNE, THE BLOOD GOD!"
"Heh... does that mean you're, like... the god of periods... heheheh..."
"I'M GONNA PRETEND I DIDN'T HEAR THAT. I CAME TO OFFER YOU A BOON."
"Heheh... you said came..."
"DON'T MAKE ME RECONSIDER. I ALREADY CAME ALL THE WAY OUT HERE."
"Heheh... you said it again."
"ANYWAY, THOUGH YOU MAY BE A LOWLY CULTIST, NEVER HAVE I SEEN SUCH WILD, RECKLESS LOVE OF FIRE AND DESTRUCTION! TRULY, YOU ARE HOLY IN MINE EYES AND YOU SHALL BE FIRST AMONG MY CHILDREN, THE CHILDREN OF KHORNE!"
The cultist didn't catch most of the Blood God's speech, as by then his carbonized skull was beginning to come apart. What did he say? Only a few words filtered through to his caramelized brain tissues before the transformation began to take hold.
"It's working! We're pushing them back!" The deceptively cute, plump Palatine shouted as the heretics' lines began to break under the Witch Hunters' firey assault, when suddenly the tide turned. Dozens of Sisters and Inquisitorial Stormtroopers were sent flying by a wave of demonic energy. From the pile of cultist corpses, the towering figure of the newly-ascended Daemon Prince emerged, its clawed arms raised in triumph.
The two sarcastic Lady Assassins' continuing search for the illusive sorceress was briefly interrupted by a horrible sound emanating from the nearby battlefield.
"I AM THE GREAT KHORNEHOLIO!"
"Oh Emperor, no. Not again..."
Turn 7: Just Add Heresy.
Things were not going well for the Witch Hunters. The Great Khorneholio was devouring their troops like so much kettle corn, the only consolation being that his brutal, spasmodic fighting style was doing nearly as much damage to the heretics.
"Hey!" Shouted the still conscious head of a chubby cultist with a snarling, skeletal unicorn embossed on his ill-fitting chest plate as it was sent flying by a wild swipe of Khorneholio's daemonsword, "Is that any way to treat your best pal?"
"Where's Quinn, anyway?" Said the Repentia Sister in her strangely inflected voice as she poked at the daemon prince impotently with her chainsword.
"I think she said she was going back to grab some Arco-Flagellants."
The Sisters Repentia were abandoned.
"How are you?"
"Hi Josephus, hi Jephraiim, hi Jebediah." The Mistress greeted the three cybernetically-mutilated dude-bros.
"Jamie." The third, and only one still with his original organs of generation, as betrayed by his deeper voice, replied with mild, but still reverent, irritation.
"Whatever. So, am I gonna have to punish anybody today? Have we been naughty little heretics?"
"Oh yeah, yeah!" They panted in unison.
"I blasphemed The Emperor's name!" Said Josephus penitently.
"I kept a copy of a Tau hentai manga under my bunk! It had tentacles and robo-wangs and everything!" Jephraiim pleaded ecstatically.
"I made out with an Eldar chick, once." Said Jamie, matter-of-factly.
"An Eldar?" The Mistress cried in disbelief, "With those pointy helmets and rhinestones everywhere? Eww! That's extra-heretical! I can see you still need some serious lashing!"
"Hey, no fair!"
"Yeah, I'm way more heretical than him!"
The Arco-Flagellants were never deployed in battle against the daemon prince. The wounds they inflicted on each other were far too great. All was not lost, however, as the lustful memories of their battle would ensure that the cruel, grinning Mistress would never suffer morale damage again.
Turn 8: Metal Boxing Daria.
"Well, I just got off the vox with the Inquisitor Lord."
"That whole thing about no phone sex on duty is more of a guideline, really." The Callidus Assassin snarked at her associate.
"He said to forget about that sorceress, we've got a new mission," The Culexus didn't miss a beat, "We're to hook up with the main force and help them take down that Cornhole guy. What is your connection to him, anyway? Old boyfriend?"
"Good Emperor, no. Don't even joke about that."
"Ok, so who is he? He sounds like a pretty big deal."
"Not the last I saw him. This was before your time, back in the Highland campaign. Just some moronic cult lackey I ran across on the Plaguelord Andarssun job. I should've killed him when I had the chance, but I was low on ammo and him and his idiot friend didn't seem worth it. I guess fate has a cruel sense of humor."
"What was your first clue? And how are we getting back to the front, anyway? No way we're there before sundown on foot."
"That's a good question. Didn't Inquisitor Sloane arrange for anything when he spontaneously reassigned us? Without notice." She said, the level of annoyance in her voice even greater than usual.
"I asked about that. He said every transport under his command already had somewhere to be. We made it this far on our own, we can come up with something. The Emperor will provide."
As if on cue, they spotted a bright yellow Rhino sitting by the side of the road. It was adorned with the crest of the Lions Chapter.
"See, what'd I tell ya?"
"Hmm, if we're really lucky, all the Marines have been massacred and we'll have it all to ourselves."
Sadly, The Emperor was not in that generous of a mood, for a squad of Space Marines lead by a Chaplain stepped out of the bushes. Instead of the typical skull mask of the chaplaincy he had instead a golden lion helm.
"Alright, Marines, everybody make sure your codpieces are done up before we head back in."
"Hey, room for two more?" The Culexus spoke up.
"Of course, girls. Anything to help our dear sisters. After all, The Emperor's light shines on all of us and-"
"Yeah, great, we need to get to where that daemon prince guy is. We're planning on taking advantage of the pine-box early retirement plan."
"What luck, that's where we're heading, too! It's like a sign!" The Chappy exclaimed joyfully.
"And it says danger, turn back while you can." The Callidus deadpanned.
"She's kidding. We'd be happy to ride along, wouldn't we?"
"Well, hopefully there'll be room for me to put my feet up. I need some rest."
"You've never ridden one of these crates before, have you?"
"Just the idea of anyone finding it relaxing... Rattling around inside a metal box with shocks and struts whose maintenance schedule operates on geologic time across bomb-cratered backroads? Yeah, that's real soothing."
"Metal box?" The Assassin's face took on a dreamy, far-away quality, "That is soothing..."
And so, the two assassins and the brave men of the Lions were off to do battle with The Great Khorneholio.
"So, what's our status?" The Culexus asked absently.
"Well, we've more or less failed the mission we originally came here for, we've been propositioned by a hormone-crazed cephalopod and now we're being sent to our deaths in frontline combat against the galaxy's most annoying daemon prince. Did I miss anything?"
"Just the piles I'm getting from bouncing around on this hard plasteel seat. Not exactly a good day for morale, that's for sure."
"Oh no!" The Chaplain cried out, overhearing. "Low morale is one of the biggest challenges facing young warriors of Mankind today! That kind of thing could lead to... to..."
"Heresy?" There's that deadpan sarcasm again.
"Ohmigosh! I was going to say squad breakage, but that's even worse!"
"Well, don't worry. We don't have squad morale, we're independent characters." The Callidus reassured him.
"We walk alone." The Culexus backed her up.
"Still, we need something to raise spirits around here! Who wants to lead us in a rousing hymn?"
"I'll do it!" Said one of the Marines. It was Brother Kelvinus.
"Ninety-nine boltershells in my bandolier! Ninety-nine shells in my bandolier! Shoot a heretic down Load another round Ninety-eight boltershells in my bandolier!"
"You brought the suicide pills, right?"
"Yup. Took 'em both when I saw that tentacle monster. Unfortunately, after all the other crap I've done over the years, all they did was give me a tummyache."
"Emperor damn it..."
Turn 9: Plague-Hulk Like Me.
"Hey, guys! I think I found one of the sparkplugs!" The young Noise Marine waved a small metallic object in front of his commander's face as he and the rest rooted through the battlefield wreckage.
"Nah... that's a Space Marine's finger. See, it's bleeding."
"Oh. Ew." He said, dropping the gib and continuing the search before the band was overtaken the smell of sweat, gangrene and ketoacidosis and the sound of grinding grears.
"Whut're yew boys doing? Shouldn't you be out killing loyalist scum insteada looking fer pieces of that stupid tank?" Wheezed the jiggling giantess before them. Juurhunsaarn, plague-daughter of Nurgle, Duchess of Diabetes loomed over the men of The Spiral, flabby arms crossed over voluptuous, pus-lactating breasts. Her many-folded bellies rested atop a defiler chassis, bowlegged and screeching from overload, that had long since replaced her atrophied, gangrenous legs. Against all logic, bushels of wobbling, sweaty, staff-infected thigh-fat had begun to ooze out of cracks and bullet-holes in the robotic limbs' armor plating.
"Hey, man... it's not just any stupid tank! It's THE Stupid Tank!" Wait... that's not quite right..." The long-haired, drug-addled champion of Slaanesh retorted clumsily.
"Yeah. You can't just tell us where and when to play. The Spiral goes where it's needed most. And right now, we need to fix The Tank."
The Plague-Hulk had no chance to respond to this, as she was interrupted by a chainsword removing a slab of her fat in a spray of effluence.
"AHAH! I reMEMBER you!" The manic Commissar shouted, "I fought you one the Space Hulk Pei Diem! YOU'RE the one that took my EYE!"
"Yeah, that's right." The creature said smugly, licking her cankered, herpeous lips, "It was delicious."
"I'm glad you enjoyed the APPETIZER! 'Cause I'm here to DELIVER the MAIN COURSE!" The Commissar shouted as he bared his sword and lunged at the beast.
As the epic duel raged behind them, The Spiral was still about their task.
"Is this a sparkplug?"
"No, I think that's a kneecap."
"What does a sparkplug look like, anyway?"
"Hmm... that's probably important..."
Turn 10: Groped By A Daemon.
"Oh, ow, my leg..." The Repentia Sister was going to require an augmetic... if she didn't bleed out first. The Great Khorneholio had devastated the Witch Hunters and was now clutching his prize, the still-bleeding pilot/victim he had pulled from the shattered remains of a Penitent Engine.
"Dananananana! Danananana-oh-oh-oh! Little China Girl! Heheheh..."
"Umm... eww." Slurred the Penitent through a combat drug-induced haze, apparently oblivious to the horrific peril she was in, "David Bowie hasn't been popular for, like, 35,000 years..."
"Heheheh... hey, remember that movie where you could, like, see his junk? Huh, Butt-" A look of uncharacteristically profound sorrow crossed the beast's face at the realization that his compatriot was no longer there to share in his crude humor, "Oh yeah. He's... gone..."
For the first time, the daemon's inane laughter ceased.
"He's dead. My best friend's dead! And you buttmunches killed him!" The monster's grief turned to rage as a substance that was not quite sweat, fire or the eldritch energies of the warp began to flow out of every pore.
"I'll burn every last one of you! FIRE! FIRE!"
A wave of daemonic power washed across the plains, immolating all it touched.
Turn 11: Bombed-Out Road Worrier.
"Shoot a heretic down, load another round, twenty-five boltershells..."
"Does our Inquisitorial mandate allow us to summarily execute allies?" The Callidus Assassin fumed. Her friend's sarcastic response never came, as the Rhino was knocked end over end by the demonic firestorm and everything went black.
"Miss? Miss, are you OK?"
Turn 12: Lucky Stroke.
"Miss? Miss, are you OK?" The Chaplain was frantic as he gently shook the seemingly-delicate body of the Callidus Assassin. The answer came in the form of a blade inches from the seam between his helm and his collar-armor.
"Don't touch me."
"Eep! Er, I mean thank The Emperor! I was afraid you were..."
"I've had worse." She said, nonchalantly, before her unflappable facade was shaken by a sudden wave of anxiety when she realized her friend was nowhere to be seen.
"Where's my partner? Where is she? Is she alright?" It took everything she had not to let the fear show.
"She's fine. She was the one who pulled you out of the wreckage."
"Where is she now?"
"A Chaos sorceress appeared and tried to finish us off after the Rhino crashed. The Marines forced her into retreat and your friend took off after her. You sure you're alright, now?" The Chaplain said with his typical saccharin concern.
"I'm fine. I can fight."
"Good, because that Daemon Prince is giving my Marines a hard time over there. Let's get him! For The Emperor! Raaaaaaaar!"
The Chaplain's high-pitched battlecry echoed across the plains and he ran frantically at the foe. The Callidus dusted herself off and walked off after him, her usual demeanor returning.
"For The Emperor." She said in her endearingly flat voice to nobody in particular.
"Yaaaaah!" Brother Kelvinus shouted through his ill-conceived attempt to tackle the monster, particularly foolhardy as he had just witnessed it swat aside the Chaplain after a similar attempt on his part.
"Get out of the way, you idiot!" Brother-Captain Macabias shouted as he made a futile attempt to aim his Plasgun at The Great Khorneholio as his battle-brother ran at and then bounced off the daemon.
"Ow! Help me, Mack Daddy!"
Macabias contemplated hesitating long enough for Khorneholio to finish the moron off, but quickly banished the thought. Unfortunately, the miniature sun exploding against him only served to further anger the abomination.
"Crap. Looks like it's time to get up close and personal myself." Macabias said as he readied his mighty Daemonhammer, The Iron Nine.
The Great Khorneholio swung his fiery daemonsword. Macabias parried the weapon, which shattered on contact with the hammer's holy surface. However, before Macabias could bring the weapon to bear on the daemon himself, the monster's other enormous claw grabbed him full around the waist and hoisted him off the ground. The Brother-Captain would have been finished then and there, if not for the wolf-whistle that pierced the air at that moment.
"Yoohoo, big boy!" Cooed a busty Daemonette, seductively.
"You've killed so many of those nasty ol' Humans," She said, licking her moist, plump lips with her pangolinesque tongue, "You deserve a reward."
"Heheh... you mean, like, doin' it, right? Heheh..." The distracted Khorneholio said as he dropped the Marine.
"What do you think?"
"Heheh... sweet! Heheheh... I'm gonna score!" The daemon beamed as he backhanded Brother-Captain Macabias away as the Space Marine tried to attack him from behind, "Heheheh... heh... huh..." The creature's voice trailed off as a troubled look crossed his face.
"What's wrong, baby?" "Crap, what's going on?"
"No! All Butt-Head ever wanted was to score! And now he never will! I can't score, either 'til I avenge him and stuff." The beast turned away from the curvaceous affront to all that is holy as he returned his attentions to finishing off the wounded Lions.
"Hmm, so Butt-Head's dead. At least there's some good news today. Still, what am I gonna do, now? Scratch that, I know what I gotta do. Emperor help me..."
"Huhuh... hey, Dillweed. What're you doing?" The cleft-palletted cultist asked his monstrous friend.
"I'm avenging your death, Fart-Catcher! What does it look-" The Daemon Prince stopped dead in the middle of brutalizing the unconscious Chaplain as the realization dawned on him.
"Butt-Head!" He cried joyously, "Aren't you, like, dead and stuff?"
"Heheh... awesome... heheh..." The Great Khorneholio smiled as he ran to his best friend with his massive, clawed arms wide open.
The hideous creature felt a sudden twinge of pain in his powerful neck as the image of his friend seemed to melt and reform into that of a smallish, woman wearing a Mona Lisa smile.
"Hey, aren't you..." In his tiny brain, the realization dawned on The Great Khorneholio that he'd been had.
"Cha-cha-cha, Buttknocker." The Assassin quipped as she sheathed her blade.
"Buttknocker! Buttknock-" His rage-filled voice was silenced as his vocal cords separated and his massive head fell to the ground.
Lawndale's parent star set on the smoldering battlefield as the last of The Great Khorneholio's blasphemous life slipped away.
Turn 13: Daria Victory Party.
"Cannoness! The Great Khorneholio's dead! The Chaos forces are dispersing! From here on out it's a mop-up operation!" The Palatine cried happily.
"It's not over yet. What about the main Chaos Marine force? Intel said the orbital drops should be coming at any moment."
"Ooh, look!" A perky, blond Sister shouted, pointing to the now-dark skies, "Shooting stars!"
"Crap! They're here! All forces, prepare to engage!" The Cannoness shouted.
"No, wait! Look!" The Palatine pointed at the multitude of lights that streaked across the sky and disappeared into nothingness. It was like a meteor shower.
"It's nothing but wreckage burning up in the atmosphere." The Cannoness said, gazing up in wonder. "But that's impossible. There's no way we could have kept them all off the planet with the naval power we have."
"Our fleet commander is supposed to be quite the multitasker..." Offered the Palatine.
On the bridge of the flagship, the magenta-clad Imperial Navy Commander jumped from one massive view-screen to the next barking orders.
"Litany of Irritation! The Devourer of Offal's main engines are down, prepare a boarding action! First Officer Marianne, tell engineering to bring us up to flank speed, would you? Jacobius, the feeling will come back in your leg once you park that clunker and turn off the mind-link, now quit tying up the line! Me, up for a position on The High Lords of Terra? Why Eric, I'm so flattered... oh, just a second, that cruiser's bringing its main gunnery to bear on us. I'll get back to you in a tick. What do I have to do around here to get all power re-routed to the forward shields?"
"Brave Soldiers of the Imperrrrium of Man!" Began the Governor-Militant's hamtastic victory speech.
"I-I mean we, have won another glorious victory (and this shiny, shiny medal that looks fabulous on this brand new master-crafted carapace armor that was well worth the quarter of our total points spent on it) in The Emperor's name! Before I head off to accept the inevitable position on the board of the Departmento Munitorum, I would like to join all you courageous young men and women in celebrating my-I mean, the Imperrrrium's achievement. Now let's party!"
The amasec flowed like water that night and for a short time, the warriors of Lawndale were allowed to forget that the entire galaxy was perched on the precipice of absolute destruction, edging ever closer by the nanosecond.
"Oh, Kelvvie!" Squeaked the Battle Sister, wrapping her arms around the Space Marine. "You were so brave, taking on that Cornchip Demon all by yourself!"
"Aw, it was nothing, Babe!"
The make-out session was interrupted by the approach of a slime-dripping horror shambling towards them.
"Eeek!" They both squealed in unison as Brother Kelvinus jumped into the arms of his beloved. "It's another Daemon!"
At that moment, the figured raised an ichor-covered appendage and wiped the glop that had once been a Plague-Daemon from its face, revealing a monstrously enraged, but surprisingly Human countenance adorned with a bionic eye.
"Commissar D!" Shouted Brother Kelvinus happily.
"He's a Commissar and a Daemon? Can you do that?" Sister Brittany said, confused as she dropped her boyfriend on the seat of his powersuit.
"Brother KELVINUS? YOU? All the good SOLDIERS who gave their LIVES out there, and YOU SURVIVED? RAAAAH!" The Commissar yelled as he broke down weeping.
"Aww, I'm glad you made it, too, Commissar D!" Said the oblivious Marine as he gripped the Commissar in a bear-hug, unaware of the power of his suit's servo motors.
"Ah! My spleen! GAAAH! APOTHECARY!"
"You know, I never wanted to join the Titan Legions..." The Princeps said bitterly, drinking amasec straight from the pitcher. "I wanted to be a Rough Rider! I wanted to run free across the plains, the wind in my face! That's what war is all about! Not being cooped up in some Emperor-damned tank of goo! But noooo! My father didn't want any son of his being a cavalryman! "Ponies? What are you, a girl?" He said... why couldn't he encourage my dreams?"
"There there, it's alright. Let it all out." The Space Marine Chaplain said as the Princeps collapsed drunkenly into his arms.
"Hey, Quinn! I got you a drink!"
"No, I got her a drink!"
"I got her a drink and one of those mini groxtail sandwiches."
The Mistress sipped her Bloody Sanguinius and nibbled at her sandwich contentedly as the brawling Arco-Flagellants crashed through the buffet table in a spray of Squig Soup and Kraken calamari rings.
"Looks like the troops are having a good time. Maybe we should join in." Brother Captain Macabias said to the Cannoness, still pouring over her well-worn dataslate.
"I wish. There's still a lot of work to do. Mop-up operations to plan, negotiations for the transfer of power back to the local planetary authorities to conduct, rebuilding the PDF... and they've waited this long for peace to return to this world, I guess they can all wait for another half-hour or so." She said coquettishly as she tossed the electronic device away and pulled the Brother-Captain towards the campaign bunker.
Turn 14: D6! D6! My Darling.
The Callidus Assassin sat upon a cliff overlooking the site of the victory party, reading from a tome of Imperial lore, her sweaty, battle-damaged artificial skinsuit exchanged for a green dress-uniform. She was momentarily startled by the sound of heavy treads churning the soil as an ancient, battle ravaged Land Raider Crusader pulled up alongside her and a dark-haired figure in an armored pimp-coat emerged from the hatch.
"Hey. Thought I'd find you out here." Spoke the Inquisitor Lord.
"Because you know how I feel about parties or because you have a spy network that covers half the segmentum?"
"Only half? You really think so little of me?"
"I'd give you an honest answer, except I'd rather not exchange my glasses for a blindfold and a cigarette." She snarked, knowing her superior wasn't one to take such things seriously, though it probably wouldn't have mattered either way. "So where's Jane? She inside that beater?"
"Nope. She said over the vox she was on her way, but it'll be a while. For now it's just the two of us."
"Oh." Said the Assassin ambivalently. "So what're you doing out here by yourself?"
"I just wanted to congratulate you on the Khorneholio job. Nobody else could have done what you did." He said as he placed a steel-clad hand on the woman's shoulder.
"Nobody else has the same tolerance for soul-crushing humiliation." Strangely, the Inquisitor Lord's touch did not bother her as much as she thought.
"Seriously, you were amazing out there."
"Thanks." She said as the handsome Inquisitor planted a kiss on her soft lips.
"Hey! What was that for! Aren't you dating my best friend!" She said, uncharacteristically flustered.
"I'm an Inquisitor Lord, I can have a harem if I want to."
"How's Jane going to feel about that?"
"Are you kidding? Every night she asks me when we're all going to get together for a threesome."
"Really?" The Callidus said, incredulously. "Let me ask you something... did you slip anything extra into her standard-issue Officio Assassinorum brainwashing about being all horny and bisexual?"
"Just the horny bit." He said with only a slight amount of irony. "I think she was always kinda bi. She was probably just too shy to tell you."
The Inquisitor Lord would have said more, but since he had been kicked down the cliff all he could get out was "Ouch".
Turn 15: In The Sick Sadness Of The Far Future.
"Hey." The now-casually dressed Culexus greeted her friend as she offered a cup containing a consecrated mixed drink bearing the fabled relic known as "The Umbrella Of Guilliman". "Enjoying the festivities?"
"Oh yeah. I'm partying hearty. So how'd it go with the Dark Sorceress?"
"Funny thing, that. There I was, about to strike the killing blow, when all of a sudden, the ground opened up beneath us and we were smack-dab in the middle of a Necron Tomb! The two of us were forced to forge an unlikely alliance in order to survive the horrors of... The Catacombs of Unlife!" The young woman hammed to her less-than-enthusiastic audience. "And in the process we both learned a valuable lesson about the Power of Friendship (tm) and overcoming the boundaries between different faiths. We said a tearful goodbye, knowing the galaxy isn't ready to accept the bond between us, but she vowed to travel from daemonworld to daemonworld, spreading her message of tolerance and that not all Imperials are Emperor-bothering cunts and await the day we can return to each other."
"So you biffed the mission." The Callidus said, unimpressed with her friend's fanciful tale of heresy and thinly-veiled lesbianism.
"I was this close," She pouted, holding her thumb and forefinger a millimeter apart, "and then I went and tripped over a hunk of my idiot brother's busted-up Chaos Rhino and she hopped the last Warp Portal out. Wasn't a total loss, though, she dropped this." She said, producing a twisted staff of hellish magicks that her friend had somehow not noticed until that moment.
"I'm gonna put it on my trophy wall, right between that Hive Tyrant skull and the bionic gob attachment we pulled out from between Big Mek Barch's legs."
"Why do you keep that disgusting thing around, anyway?"
"I'm thinking of having it re-sized and wearing it on my next vacation. Cormorragh's nice this time of year. Then maybe put in for some honeytrap missions on a Slaanesh daemonworld."
"I don't think it would bother them too much. Don't they usually have spares?"
"You're not really gonna keep that staff in your room, are you?" Asked the Callidus, returning from the non-sequitur.
"Won't the constant, lurid whispers offering untold power and legions of slaves for the low, low price of your eternal soul keep you up at night?"
"Culexus anti-magic mojo, remember?"
"Oh, right. Hey, wasn't the only reason you signed up with them because those giant helmets wouldn't mess up your hair?"
"Damn, my secret origin's revealed. I was gonna wait until I was mortally wounded in battle and dying in your arms to tell you."
"Huh..." The Callidus said, awkwardly.
"Anything wrong? You don't look so good."
"Last time I saw you look this ill was on that Tyranid job on that Space Hulk, the Mauler of The Dark Millennium."
"I kissed your boyfriend." She admitted. "I kissed Inquisitor Lord Sloane. I didn't mean to."
"Hey, does that mean we can do that threesome, now?" The Culexus said, nonplussed.
"I don't think he'll be in any condition to for a while. I kicked him off a cliff when he admitted he'd been messing with your head."
"Well, that would explain the sudden onset of the desire to trade my combat suit in for a black lace teddy. I thought maybe it was just poor circulation caused by that battle mask." The Culexus said, wistfully. "So, is he dead?"
"Nah, you know how generous the wound allocation rolls are with all his perks."
"So... what now?"
"Let's get off this rock. I wanna waste some more heretics and this planet's fresh out."
"Sounds good to me."
And so, the two of them walked hand in hand to a waiting Thunderhawk, ready to face whatever fresh horrors the grimdark future had in store for them together...
For in the Grim Darkness of The Far Future, there is more than War...
There's Freakin' Friends.
"Owww... oh nooo... waaaait..." The battered, burnt Repentia Sister, half-buried in the shell-pounded soil cried out, her one good arm clawing at the sky as the last Thunderhawk pulled away. She collapsed in despair and lay there until a powerful hand pulled her from the ground.
"Nope, this isn't a sparkplug, either." The Noise Marine scrutinized the broken body with disappointment.
"Hmm... maybe we should just forget it and go in on a Land Raider, instead. I know a place that has used ones..."
Epilogue: Write Where It Wound Allocates.
Segmentum Solar, Boston. Year 011.M3.
"Dear Ms. Powers, The Black Library regrets to inform you that due to an unprecedented number of submissions, yadda-yadda-yadda... Damn."
Daria Morgendorffer balled up the form letter and threw it onto the floor in front of the nearest waste basket. She then walked over, picked it up and carefully dropped it in.
"Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for this season's top WNBA draft pick." Her housemate and hetero life partner (no, really) Jane Lane sarcasm'd reflexively.
"Not now, Lane. I'm not in the mood."
"Aw, c'mon. What do they know, anyway? They think there's such a thing as Depleted Deuterium."
"Maybe I wasn't Fluff-accurate enough..." Daria wondered, gloomily.
"Nah, that can't be it. They published that Goto loser, didn't they?"
"Point. Dammit... and after I debased myself pandering to the main demographic with all that stupid innuendo, too. Ugh, whatever possessed me to think I could pay off my student loans writing...brrr..." A shudder shook the twenty-something's waifish body, "...fan fiction."
"I don't know, but whatever it was, maybe you should put an exorcist on speed-dial in case it ever comes back. Since when have you been into tabletop games, anyway?"
"I'm not, but there's just something about this setting that speaks to me. Probably the relentless cynicism. Or the whole thing about blowing stuff up with impossibly overbuilt weapons."
"You cute little tomboy, you." A look crossed Jane's face. "Hey, here's an idea: why not shorten your pseudonym to "Mel" and resubmit? You know how much of a boys club the SF scene can be. All those nerds getting together to share their bitterness about not getting any..."
"You know, I think I heard somewhere they've already got at least one woman who writes under a male pseudonym. You know, like James Tiptree."
"Maybe Dan is short for Danielle." Jane laughed, "So, are you ever going to let me take a look at that final draft?"
"Yes. When the executor of my estate takes the copy out of my safe deposit box upon my death... hey, wait a minute..." Said Daria as the realization dawned on her, "What do you mean, final draft? You didn't see any draft, did you?"
"Um, of course not." Said Jane with her best sincerity face on, remembering the way she had d'awwed when, attempting to peek into the password protected folder on Daria's computer and failing with Daria's birth date she had entered her own on a whim with great success. "Anyway, I gotta dash. Big art fair tonight. You know how it is. Save some pizza for when I get back, OK? Thanks Doll." She rapid-fired as she sped out the door and closed it behind her.
"Huh. That was... sudden." Daria indulged in her habit of talking to herself for a moment before the door cracked open once again as Jane reappeared to deliver a parting shot.
"Oh, by the way, Tom's gonna be in town this weekend. I told him you'd be up for that threesome. Hope you don't have any plans." Jane chuckled as she shut the door behind her and tore off across the historic North End into the night.
The Callidus Assassin stalked down the streets of the hive city, knowing that somewhere hid the treacherous spy that had been in her midst all along. Her weapons were stowed safely away back in the hotel room gunlocker. She wanted to enjoy this one. She would use her bare hands.