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Jan 24 2023
Ages have passed since the peaceable Melem learned to harness the Fathom Orb, imbuing themselves with a trace of its baleful energy to enable “Ghost Walk”—a momentary phase-shift into another dimension. Even when they were sieged by hulking, chitinous marauders, the Ghost Walk saved them as it had many times before. Then, the unthinkable: One of the attackers returned and breached the Orb. With no alternative, the Melem broke their inviolable law and sent their most skilled assassin to the Fathom Orb, not knowing whether she would survive, let alone how she might return.
As a warlord of the marauding Greiss, he conquered countless worlds, plundering technology to strengthen his armies. But defeat by a reclusive, phase-shifting race led to his exile. Obsessed with vengeance, he discovered their power source: an ancient shrine with a seething sphere of liquid within. When at last he slaughtered its guardians and entered, the sphere consumed him—and he vanished. He awoke in a bizarre, brutal realm, transformed by arcane energy. Now he seeks a way back, to regain his command and wield his newfound might.
Anarki’s rebellion began with the usual self-vandalism, but he craved something greater, and found it in transhumanism. Addiction, injury, disease… Why tolerate flesh if he could replace it? Using family riches, he underwent increasingly extreme cybernetic surgeries. After a microelectrode pierced his pineal gland, Anarki perceived a surreal, alien reality breakthrough! He eagerly sought more procedures, ignoring the insomnia. Each strengthened his perception of the hidden realm. But only once he met a girl who saw it, too, was he sure he could reach it.
It was her grandmother’s music box. Its tiny ice-skater twirled to Swan Lake. She loved it. She couldn’t sleep without hearing its tune. Then she heard it in her dreams. Then always. She would become a skater herself. She would twirl and twirl until the music stopped. But it never stopped. She began to see dark, spidery things. When the clozapine didn’t help, she turned to heroin. In the shooting gallery she met Anarki. He saw things, too. They became inseparable . . . until the things they saw became real.
It was just a mining automaton with limited AI and a force-shield to protect organics and drills. But it was the first to return from the cavern filled with floating ruins and strange markings. Its custodians transferred the data it had gathered to their master neural network. But, after analysis, the network… malfunctioned? Suddenly, Clutch was returning to the cavern as automata began killing organics. Clutch killed them, too, if they were in its path. Once at the cavern, Clutch followed the network’s instructions. A dark mass of writhing tendrils materialized. Clutch stepped into it.
She was 4 years old when given as an offering to the Celebrants of Volkerh. The talon-priests weaned her on ash-milk and consulted the Gaunt Shepherd to learn her fate. She would live as we do, it whispered, and in so doing would shape herself by the gloaming will of He Who Walks In Blood. Like all children, she watched and imitated. She learned that crying and laughing were no different, so she stopped. She learned that blood is judgment and penance is sacrament. She has grown powerful and grateful. She does not dream of her mother’s world.
Two decades ago, a lone Marine stepped through the Slipgate and into nightmare. He cut through countless horrors to find four eldritch Runes, then laid waste to the abomination known as Shub-Niggurath.Trapped in these realms ever since, he has survived using the power of the Dire Orb seized from within the hot gore of the All-Mother.Time and delirium have eroded his resolve and even his name, but a worn family photograph tucked away in his armor serves as a scrap of hope and sanity.
To produce the perfect infantry, Moscow’s GRU deployed cybernetics, genetics, and even cloning. The result: tireless operatives impervious to panic or pain, with “manageable” psychopathy. But their senses were dulled—especially sight. The GRU turned to a cryptic American scientist and double agent. Just 3 of 20 subjects returned, each with a grafted mask, inexplicably normal vision, and the ability to see through matter. Attempts to reverse-engineer the mask were fatal, and revealed only a layer of putrefied blood within the mask. Disposal of the casualties remains unconfirmed.
Her clan harvested the most warmbloods; they gorged themselves and had flesh-stock left over. Many credited the Haruspex, who could open terrifying windows to the Other Place using the warmbloods’ steaming guts. As their best hunter, Sorlag credited herself. She would expose him by using the warmblood’s forcefield devices to spill his “sacred” bowel-bowl. Morning came, the ritual began, and all saw the Other Place—dark, metal, cold. Sorlag leapt with the device. But her claws had crossed the window. She saw the bowl topple as she was pulled in, screeching.
During World War II, William B.J. Blazkowicz was the top agent of the Office of Secret Actions (OSA), a joint American-British agency responsible of thwarting several occult research operations by the German war effort. When the notorious General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse attempted to harness the power of the so-called “Black Sun Dimension,” B.J. entered the dreamlike realm to destroy the apparatus that would power Deathshead’s doomsday weapon. After an explosion sent B.J. into a coma for 14 years, he awoke to a world ruled by the Germans. B.J. vowed to revive the dormant resistance and overthrow their evil empire.
The UAC’s most remarkable discovery was in Hell’s Kadingir Sanctum. Surrounded by nearly impassable terrain, the team discovered a sealed tomb – its entrance and walls covered in protective runes and imprisonment incantations. The tomb revealed many artifacts, including the Praetor suit. Most notable, however, was an enormous sarcophagus bound to the center bedrock of the tomb with thick iron bands – seemingly anchored to prevent anything from getting in or out. It was believed this sarcophagus must hold a rare or powerful demon, but when later opened, it revealed the body of a man. Unrelenting; unforgiving; driven by a rage that cannot be contained. The Doom Slayer has been to Hell and brought it to its knees. He has no records, and he seems to vanish as quickly as he appears. The few witness accounts available detail a ruthless killer.
The Terran Coalition’s reverse-engineering of Slipgate travel created new frontiers – and wars. In the Subic system, thousands of mining colonists were slaughtered by the Klesk, an indigenous chitinid race. The first casualty: Lance Corporal Ben Keel, a marine on perimeter duty.
To learn what happened, Coalition scientists used neuroprosthetics and poorly understood xenobiology to resurrect Keel. He returned to life with a mostly robotic body, but with his mind and memories seemingly intact.
Only weeks later did the fugues start, each bringing longer-lasting visions of a shadowy hellscape.
They remember when all Strogg received the same order: to harvest the lone human before he reached the Slipgate. But they failed. All Strogg failed.
At the instant the human destroyed the Slipgate, the infiltrator was just a dozen paces behind, preparing to strike. But then a blast of crimson light engulfed it and all went dark. When it regained function, the infiltrator concluded that it was seeing its surroundings through its malfunctioning drone. But that conclusion was incorrect.
Now there is no order – only foes of the Strogg.
When the blood rage abates, his desiccated mind asks again: Who were you? How many battles? When will it end? The answers mattered once, before the blessing of the seethe-monks relieved him of mortality, long before the Trespasser debased his master and took her Dire Orb for himself. The tungsten “heart” that pumps molten lead through his veins serves as a constant reminder of his plea to the Great Black Goat a dozen centuries ago—the only plea he has ever made: “Let me be forever at war.”
Her GDF Academy recon training was cut short when the Strogg invaded Earth. When the Terran were ready to counterattack the Strogg homeworld years later, Athena was among the first in line. But the Strogg were expecting them. Just after the dropships launched their pods, a powerful EMP disabled all but a few. She assumed her pod would become her coffin. Then, a miracle: ground forces destroyed the Slipgate generator, sending a shockwave of otherworldly energy outward from the surface. It swept across her pod, taking her… somewhere else.
When he married Akiko Tetsuo, executive and heiress of the Tetsuo Manufacturing Corporation, he adopted her prestigious surname. For years he piloted the starship that shuttled her between exoplanetary mining projects. But when the central AI controlling countless mining robots on Tau Ceti F became corrupted and homicidal, he arrived too late to rescue her. After working to evacuate the survivors, he swore to track down the source of the AI’s corruption: the same mining bot that killed Akiko. His hunt led him to a newly excavated cavern, where ornate stone carvings surrounded a swirling, squirming void of eldritch energy…
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