THE DOOM OF ALCIDES
The 6th century of the 37th millenium ended with peace restored to the distant world of Alcides.
By the covenant entered into by the planetary government and the Grand Master of the Light Keepers, the astartes now found themselves finally able to cease their year-long hunt for the insidious rebels that had found their way from the deep hearts of the hive cities, to the vast stretches of the great Underground Network. Their attention could now once again be placed on their true mission. They could now continue preparing for the real war to come. The conflict, however, would have left the indelible mark of doom upon the planet.
The signs had first been in the influence of this coming doom having been present in the twisted minds of otherwise loyal servants of the Imperium. But, the signs had been little less than invisible to the astartes then, rousing only minor suspicion, and leaving nothing more than a lingering silent question in the back of the Grand Master's mind, after they had already faded without much notice.
Peace had been bought back in blood, and the traitorous resentment of the inhabitants of Alcides had been put in check, but it had served its purpose. Despite the war having been won, and the industry of Alcides having been placed once again in the service of the war effort, Grand Master Einheart had been led to make a choice that —although innocent enough at first glance—, had been instrumental to the downfall of his entire chapter. Through their crisis, the battle-brothers of the Light Keepers chapter had found a way to harvest enough energy, and to produce enough weapons, so as to be able face planetary scale hordes of beasts, and millions upon millions of adversaries, with no other logistical support but the generatoriums, foundries and armories of their own fortress-monastery. Even with the entirety of Alcides slowly resuming their tithes to them in energy and production quotas, the need for energy and manufacturing autonomy that was revealed by the events of the past conflict was something that had shaken Grand Master Einheart to his core. The engines of the Sigmal, inside the deeper chambers of the Sigmalite Fortress, had been thus awakened. Never to rest again, until the planet was torn asunder. The confidence of the alcideans and the astartes in the control they had of the planet through their technology would have been ill placed, in the end.
Through the following decades the engines of the Sigmal continued their run. The great machinery of the crown jewel of the Underground Network continued to bite down, deeper and deeper into the outer core of Alcides. Searching ever more for higher refined emulsion, with which to power a veritable legion if need be. And, for almost four hundred years, the chapter knew prosperity. Growing into a war machine that would go on to crush the enemies of the Imperium in the far reaches of the known galaxy. With many wars, spanning the entire second half of the 37th millenium, ending in glorious victory for the Light Keepers. With more and better methods of war being honed with each passing victory. All of it in preparation for the one war that they continued to wait for, with their vigilant eyes ever fixed on the distant darkness beyond the edge of the known galaxy. Still blind to the true signs of their looming fate.
And so it was, that despite their efforts, the great Light Keepers were found wanting on their day of reckoning. As the Doom of Alcides rose from beneath their great halls looking to consume them all in roaring fires and searing light. And, with the Imperium approaching the end of the 37th millennium, the power that lay dormant, buried since untold ages beneath the deepest places of the planet, began to rise up; once the Sigmal had managed to breach through the geological barriers that had contained for so long.
The sundering of Alcides started with a furious earthquake. An event beyond the control of any seismic dampener or architectural countermeasure available to the imperial inhabitants of this world, that shook the foundations of the Underground Network to the verge of collapse. Great chasms opened up from around the engines of the Sigmal, and towards the outer sectors of the hive cities, and large walls of sharp rock as jagged fangs swallowed entire sectors whole in a matter of minutes. Countless hab-blocks fell straight down into the depths, taking their inhabitants with them to their deaths.
Then came the blasts. With overlapping warning signals firing up through the central cogitators inside the fortress-monastery like an avalanche of information, threatening to devour the system and purge the machine spirits of each available terminal it could reach. As the first hour past the early aftershocks of the earthquake went by, gravitational anomalies began to manifest themselves at various points around the remaining infrastructure of each hive city. Warping tunnels of twisted force spiraled from the depths, piercing through layers of plasteel and permacrete, unseen by the naked eyes of the horrified citizens that scrambled everywhere for safety in the surviving sectors. Through the gravity tunnels came the fires from the star at the center of the system. Stretching across space and time like thin strands of bright fire and plasma, coming in the span of a few seconds to touch down on the planet's surface.
From their cracked halls in the Sigmalite Fortress, the battle-brothers of the Light Keepers chapter watched as orbs of light appeared in the distance. Balls of fire appearing as tiny sparks, each then expanding in a matter of seconds into vast conflagrations over two kilometers wide. Each one evaporating everything in its reach. Each followed by a blinding flash of white light, and a thermal pulse that would go on to ignite all that was nearby and within stretches of over ten kilometers in every direction. This all then followed by blasts of hurricane winds, first washing over the areas beyond the flames, then contracting back to the center of each explosion at impossible speeds. Dragging corpses and rubble along the way, and creating waves of debris that would go on to trample most of what was left along their path.
Within a matter of hours over half of each hive city on Alcides had been laid to waste. The planet had become nothing more than a poor and ruinous reflection of its former self. With its grand tunnels and roads having been left hanging naked over chasms. With it's generatoriums and factories having been turned into radiation leaking death traps. With it's millions of survivors trapped under ruble, ash and black rain, and it's native beasts having been made to take flight beyond the reach of civilization, to swarm about the last places of geological integrity that were left. And, with the upper halls of the Sigmalite Fortress towering over the wastelands. Inside them, the battle-brothers being witnesses to the destruction that would soon begin to spread towards the rest of the Imperium. All of them now, forced to act, as a new gravitational anomaly and a new surge of thermal energy made itself known throughout the remaining displays of the fortress-monastery's central cogitator. A pulse coming from beneath the point of convergence of the Sigmal's engines, in the belly of the beast that was this new Alcides, which manifested itself along with a psychic shock that hit them with such initial force as to drive some in the chapter's librarium almost to their knees. Showing the Grand Master what would be the most terrifying notion behind the calamity that had struck.
That whatever the nature of the doom that had broken the world of Alcides asunder, above all, it was self-aware. An actual intelligence laid at the source of this force, conscious to the presence of the chapter. And it had been waiting for them for even longer than they had been waiting for it.
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Ok, that is it for this chapter. Almost done with the IA. I think I just might make it to the deadline!
Went back and re-wrote some parts, and polished it a bit. So, for anyone who reads this that has read the previous drafts, there should be some changes here and there, and not just fixed typos.