Blood Gorgons - By Henry Zou



Henry Zou

IT IS THE 41st millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.

YET EVEN IN his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon‐infested miasma of the warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor’s will.

Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds. Greatest amongst His soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio‐engineered super‐warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary defence forces, the ever-vigilant Inquisition and the tech‐priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever‐present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants – and worse.

TO BE A man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruellest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re‐learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.


COME DAWN, THE small craft settled on a disused runway sixteen kilometres east of the Belasian capital. The landing struts sought purchase on the broken rockcrete and Gammadin of the Blood Gorgons emerged purposefully. His men followed him, stepping down the landing ramp into the quiet morning. He led the way, parting the tall weeds that choked the landing strip as they threaded west towards the distant city lights.

The sun was rising, spilling a weak light over the disrepair of Belasia. Along the way, rockcrete blockhouses struggled out from the bushes. Their windows were broken, their roofs collapsed, and they had been abandoned long ago. The wind moved amongst the yellowing plant life, rustling the dead grass and shuddering the knotted, leafless brambles.

In the distance, the rusting frame of an air mill lay on its side, its skeleton scorched white by bomb blasts.

Gammadin and his Blood Gorgons scanned the broken panes of glass, their helmet arrays searching for thermal heat. There was none to be found except the tiny, skittering signatures of rodent life.

‘All clear,’ reported one of Gammadin’s companions.

‘Remain alert and adjust your auspexes,’ replied Gammadin. ‘They may mean to deceive us yet.’

Heeding his words, Gammadin’s men spaced themselves out into a wide echelon. They bent low, the butts of their guns locked tight against their shoulders. At the fore, Gammadin walked upright, almost nonchalantly, as he led them to the Belasian capital. He held out his palm, skimming the tall grass with one hand as he walked. In the other hand, held tight behind his back, he gripped the handle of a heavy tulwar blade.

They were large, these men, and some would say they were not men at all. They were post‐humans – living constructs that evolved the human form into a singular purpose of warfare. They were mortal things, but most whispered their names with a superstitious fear reserved for phantoms and daemons.

There were nine such warriors following Gammadin. Encased in plate and horn, they moved slowly and deliberately, as if they lived by their own rhythm and the world simply orbited their presence. Like their lord, each Traitor Marine wore power armour the colour of burnt umber. Barnacles and fossilised organisms spread across the sweeping surface of each plate. There was an organic element to their regalia, accentuated by the mutant growth of dorsal fins, quills and hard, segmented shells. Shambling ancients, slow and terrible, the eight Impassives appeared not to move at all as the landscape glided beneath their feet.

Behind them, almost as an afterthought, ghosted the witch, Anko Muhr, following behind in a tower of rigid armour with curtains of black silk trailing from his shoulders.

Unlike his brethren, Muhr was pensive, his fists clenching and unclenching. Unhelmed, his equine face was painted white but the war