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40K Short Story: Unidentified Contact.


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Ok, this is a short story that i have written over the last few days. It is set in the Warhammer 40'000 universe, so the setting, history, technology, terms, races, etc are property of Games Workshop. However, the plot and characters are all mine.


Here it goes.




The voice of the First Mate roared throughout the ship, the speakers rendering his voice into an emotionless monotone.


Zander Kerden woke up with a start, nearly banging his head on the roof of his ridiculously small cabin. Red lights flashed and loud horns blared, accompanied by the muffled sound of over three thousand sailor’s simultaneously waking up and responding to the forceful call.

It took a moment for Zander to process the announcement, but when he did, he nearly cried out in excitement.


His ship was patrolling this area, scanning far and wide for anything that they could exploit; ship hulks, mineral asteroids, merchants, or even other pirates. Now, they had found something! If it was something extrememly valuable, like a hoard of ancient technology, or perhaps the private vault-ship of a wealthy merchant or noble, then his problems would be solved.


Zander, captain of the pirate vessel Goldskimmer, leapt out of his large, silk-sheeted bed, hastily pulling on his red trousers and matching gold-buttoned top. Completing the look with a dark, crimson vest, he took a moment to look around his cabin, thinking for the one thousandth time that it was just too small.


Barely six paces square, the room was still larger than any of his sailors’ quarters, not that Zander cared. It was mostly taken up by his king-sized bed and his gold-inlaid writing desk; just because he was poor didn’t mean that he had to live in squalor. The roof was low, however, and the tall, proud pirate was forced to hunch over like a hermit whenever he entered or exited the room.


Zander was a famous pirate, who had eluded both Imperial forces and other pirates as he plied his bloody trade across the stars. Unfortunately, he wasn’t famous for being a good pirate, quite the opposite, actually. He had failed at nearly every venture he had tried, even before becoming a pirate, and he had subsisted off borrowed or loaned money for years.


And his debtors were close to catching him.


His crew was getting restless, as well, and he was nearly out of money. What would he do when he ran out of pay and couldn’t bring in more? They would mutiny, of course, and he would find himself jettisoned into the cold void of space. He would instantly freeze, his blood becoming ice and his body shattering like a glass.


Yanking the large, steel hatch open, Zander Kerden was nearly bowled over by a herd of sailors rushing to their positions. Indolent curs! The captain thought to himself, bristling in fury.


Setting off at a brisk pace, he spared a glance for the portholes he passed on his way to the bridge. Each showed the same scene- a vista of endless blackness, riddled with tiny pinpricks of light of various brightness and size.


Passing masses of sailors, machinery, doors and dozens of portholes, the pirate captain reached his destination; the bridge of the Goldskimmer.

The bridge was huge, over thirty paces wide and fifty deep, and was one of the largest rooms on the ship, save for the engine room and mess hall. The roof was even higher, over three stories high.


The whole area was abuze with activity, sailors and technicians going about their business andbrainless robotic servitors carting themselves around on mechanised wheels, no doubt seeing to some menial task far below any of his crew.


As might be expected, the far wall was taken up by a massive window that showed the darkness of space and most of the pirate vessel's prow. The room was multi-tiered, as well, with the entrances and most of the floor on the bottom. Steps on the sides and back of the bridge led to the many alcoves and balconies that housed the many computers, screens, control panels and keyboards needed to run a ship.


Situated ten paces above the floor, and accessed by a miniature elevator, was the captain's pulpit. The pulpit was little more than a high-backed chair with some basic viewing screens that allowed the captain to communicate visually with crewmen from almost any major room.


The floor itself was home to even more control panels and supercomputers, each manned by a crewman or automated servitor. These bridgemen completely ignored their captain as he ascended his pulpit, much to Zander's dismay. They dont even pretend to fear me he thought to himself, that is how far I have fallen....


He awoke from his mournful reflection moments later when the tiny elevator platform reached the edge of the pulpit. The captain skirted the bulky throne and sat gingerly upon it's cushioning. The feel of authority and command awarded by the gold chair was well worth the inconvenience of accessing it.


A whining, high-pitched beep trilled and a green light flashed on one of the screens; Zander was being called. Pressing a button, he accepted the call and one of the small screens flickered to life, the grizzled, scarred face of Siln, his First Mate, appearing.

“Cap'in!” the old sailor cried, excitement breaking into his voice. What have we found to excite the irascible old man so much? Zander wondered, before gesturing for the man to continue.


“The scanner has picked up something! Something big!” Siln glanced at something unseen for a moment, then returned his gaze to his captain. “Its a xeno ship, cap'in, over six kilometres long! It's a battleship for sure, sir, and no energy signatures are coming off it!”

Xeno was a common term that humans of the Imperium used, usually derogatively, to describe aliens of any type. Humanity was very xenophobic, these days. The fact that there was no energy signatures meant that it was a hulk or wreck, and battleship-sized vessels were always rich in their specie's best technology. That ment that this find would bring in money. Lots of it.


Zander nearly beamed; he was saved! But he couldn't let his First Mate know that this was important to him. Captains had to remain visibly calm and in-control in all situations. “Show me the picture, Siln.” Zander barked, and Siln complied, his face replaced with a black, starry vista at the press of a button.


In the middle of the void was a dark shape, a hole in the canvas of stars. The xeno ship.


In a second Zander's hand was flying across the panel, bringing up data scans on other screens and zooming in on the alien wreck.

The vessel was crecscent in shape, and appeared to be studded with pyramids and poles of varying size, all were tiny compared to the ship as a whole, however. It was also horizontally wide and vertically thin, as opposed to usual human designs, which were very long and tall, but thin on the Y axis.

There were three main pyramids that were many times the size of the others; one huge one in the middle of the crescent, with two smaller ones on the side of the large one. In addition, there were no visible signs of damage; that was good, it meant that anything inside was likely to be unharmed and unsalvaged. A one-in-a-billion, virgin find.


After gazing at his salvation for several minutes, the image switched back to the ancient countenance of Siln. “Cap'in?” the First Mate inquired, “shall we send the salvage teams?”Zander didn't miss a beat.

“Of course, man! We will not pass up this opportunity. Send every available man to rip this hulk apart.” The mere thought of the wealth that he would aquire from this single venture nearly made him salivate in anticipation.


Abruptly another screen flickered to life, and the hideously enlarged head of Avrick, the ship's psychic Navigator, appeared. “My lord,” the tortured, weedy man pleaded, “This is a mistake. That ship... I sense something about it.... something that I cannot explain.... as if something is... watching me.” The psyker shuddered, revealing his shrivelled arms. “We shouldn't tempt fate by stepping foot on that accursed vessel.”

Navigators were vital for ships when travelling through the warp; the alternate dimension that ships could enter to travel lightyears in an instant. Navigators and other psychic beings were the only ones who could 'read' the tides and eddies of the warp, and guide a ship to it's destination.

Zander was disturbed by what Avrick had said; only a fool would dismiss a psykers advice. However, the prospect of all that money was simply too great.


“Shut up, you miserable cretin!” the pirate captain roared at the cowering Navigator. “You expect me to let this golden opportunity go? Do not be daft! Go and scare some of my men with your foolish superstitions, and leave me alone.” It was necesseray to be ruthless, and maintain a strong, confident facade, even if Zander squirmed inwardly at ignoring the psyker.

Turning back to the smirking Siln; the First Mate had never liked the physically weak Navigator, Zander repeated his previous order and Siln replied with a salute, “Aye, cap'in!”


It wasn't long before dozens of tiny assault boats, rectangular prisms filled with pirates and salvaging equipment, skimmed through space, heading towards the derelict alien hulk.




=foreign energy signatures detected=



=energy output matches that of a number of small vessels=

=scanning for life forms....=


=lifeforms detected=

=begin shipboard protocols 10072905A through 10073285A=


=activating preliminary energy generators=

=standby for reactivation=


=activating primary power couplings=

=proceeding with energy distribution=


=restoring primary, secondary and tertiary data links=


=primary, secondary and tertiary data links restored=

=beggining transfereance of ship control to first priority Lord=

=scanning for first priorityLord=


=first priority Lord found=




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Suddenly yellow lights began flashing on Zander's screens, rousing him from his self-congratulatory nap. “What now?” the captain growled irritably to no-one in particular, and peered closer at the data screens. To his horror, he saw that energy readings from the alien craft had suddenly appeared and were gradually growing. Small energy readings, but this meant that it wasn't a wreck after all.

“Impossible....” Zander uttered in consternation. It simply wasn't possible for a ship to shut down entirely, without the slightest bit of power to keep it's crew alive. Or at least..... that was what he had always thought.


Moments later, one of the blank screens flashed on, showing the wrinkled countenance of Siln. “Cap'in!” the First Mate yelped, fear written clearly on his face. “The ship has sprung to life! We need to get those men back here now, that bloody egg-head was write!”

Zander was nearly equally horrified at the thought of leaving this potentially life-saving pseudo-hulk behind, but.... Avrick had warned him about this, and he couldn't risk his life like this. Better to be living and poor than dead and rich, his father had always said. Of course, he had died poor anyway.


“Pull the boats back...” Zander whispered, gut wrenching at what he was doing, “and get us the hell out of here.” Siln looked relieved and his image disappeared as he complied.



=audio-visual systems back online=


Ur'den'zanor, Ebony Lord of the Dark One, ravager of worlds, slayer of serpents, Herald of the Everpresent Shadow, opened his eyes for the first time in over 60 billion years.


=emotional sub-systems back online=


The first thing that Ur'den'zanor felt was anger. The second was hatred. Rage and hate in their purest, most ferocious forms. All-consuming, driving, cleansing, burning hatred, paired with a white-hot rage that shot thorugh him like wildfire even before he remembered it's source.


=main memory banks back online=


He remembered. Just like that, every detail of his long, long life came flooding back into his hgihly advanced circuitry. The Ebony Lord remembered being born, remembered his disgracefully quick childhood, lasting only a few years, before he was fully-matured.

He remembered little joy, but much grief and sadness. His species, the Necrontyr, had lived on a world ravaged by solar radiation and storms of horrifying power. His people lived short, pathetic lives, before dying unnaturaly young.

Ur'den'zanor remembered love, the desperate, forlorn love of those who knew that they would not live long enough to enjoy it in it's entirety.

Then he recalled the news of his race's first meeting with the Old Ones, a highly advanced race of powerful psykers who had forged a mighty empire that spanned the galaxy. He recalled their arrogant patronisation of his people, and the jealousy and anger the Necrontyr had felt when they realied how long each Old One lived.


He remembered the great war between the Old Ones and the Necrontyr, one his own people had initiated. Such a one-sided war could only end in the defeat of Ur'den'zanor and his race. But that was only the beginning.

Ur'den'zanor remembered how his people had contacted the mghty Star Children, beings of pure energy that fed on stars. The Necrontyr offered them bodies made of a powerful living metal, and the Star Gods, or C'tan, in his tongue, joined the struggling Necrontyr.

The C'tan did not help out of love, kindness or generosity, no, they joined when they realised that the natural electrical charge of all living beings provided a much more succulent meal than the bland power of the stars.


With the C'tan on their side, the Necrontyr fought back against the Old Ones, but it was still not enough. Seeing opportunity, the most crafty of all Star Children, the Deceiver, forged metal bodies in the shape of skeletons for the Necrontyr, offering to transfer their consciousnesses into these bodies, and have eternal life.

Desperate and greedy, Ur'den'zanor and his people agreed almost unanimously. Little did they know what was in store for them.

The entire Necrontyr population shed their mortal forms that night, becoming metal beasts made of their own living metal that could heal spontaneously. Rechristened as the Necrons, they were ecstatic until they realised that the Deceiver and his ken had complete control over these new bodies.


Compounding their problems, every time one of the Necrons was wounded and needed repairs, it would lose a portion of it's original consciousness. As the war raged, more and more Necrons became little more than shambling automatons.

And that was the heart of the Ebony Lord's anger and hate; anger at seeing himself and his people reduced to mindless slavery, and hating so many different people. The C'tan; for doing this to him. Himself; for not being able to stop it or resist. And finally, all other life; simply because they were free, and he was not.


The Lords of the Necrons were the only ones who had retained their identity and conscousness throughout the war, while their armies had slowly but surely become little but robots. Different Lords reacted to this in different ways; some, like Ur'den'zanor, were consumed with hatred. Others forced themsleves to be uncaring, to stop the pain and anger. Many more had been driven insane by the slaughter and destruction that the Star Gods had forced them to enact.


The great war eventually ended with the destruction of the Old Ones. With most life in the galaxy exterminated, the C'tan realised that their fun had ended; there was little left to kill, now.

Facing this dilemma, the remaining C'tan had had thousands of underground tombs built to house themselves and their Necron legion. They would enter stasis, remaining unchanged as thousands, millions, even billions of years passed them by, waiting for the galaxy to become fertile and prosperous once again.


They awaited interference from a race with significant technology to find them.

A race like humanity.


=temporary logical safeguards back online=


Instantly the Ebony Lord felt his anger and hate subside, pushed to the background as the logical safeguards built to control his rage came to the fore. The logical programs of course agreed with this action, but his emotional half raged and railed against them. Futiley.


=primary connection to ship reestablished=


Data flowed into Ur'den'zanor as the thousands of other once-Necrontyr consciousnesses built into the ship to control it began feeding him information. Individual minds controlled each and every system and sub-system imaginable on the ship, uploading and downloading data wirelessly from each other and the ship's hub consciousness. Him.


=primary function of warden consciousness accomplished=


Now that he was in control, the warden consciousness that had begun the reawakening process had finished it's duty.


=transfering control of primary, secondary and tertiary systems to sub-consciousnesses=


=warden consciousness offline=


The constant, neverending data stream would have overwhelmed him had he not been under the control of his robotical, rational side, emphasising it's necessity. The data feed told him that dozens of small, boxy craft were heading straight for his ship.

Ur'den'zanor felt his rage flare before it was brought back under control. The living dare to awaken me! He thought to himself, They deserve the death that I must bring them for their foolishness! Activate prow lightning arcs!And a host of consciousnesses scrambled to obey.




“Siln!” Zander roared at the screen that held the grainy image of the terrified first Mate. “Why aren't those boats back yet!”

“It's not my fault, cap'in!” The poor man whined, “They aren't listening to me! They know how much cash this ship will bring us, and the greedy fools won't believe me when I say that the xeno vessel is back online.”

Zander cursed. “Indolent curs!” Contemplating his options, the captain was interrupted when Avrick's bulbous, mechanical head appeared on one of the blank screens. “We are doomed!” He screamed in his thin, high-pitched voice, “I feel the disturbances in the warp like an earthquake beneath my feet! Oh, the PAIN! My head is about to burst, PLEASE! LEAVE NOW! Leave before it is TOO LATE!”


The Navigator's twisted, agonised face fell from view, but his howls and shockwaves of psychic energy generated by the tortured psyker tore through the speakers and into Zander's brain like a Vespid's diamond claws. Gritting his teeth in pain, the pirate captain severed the connection with Avrick's computer, and the psychicly-induced pain faded.


“Thats it,” Zander moaned, “Siln, give the order: prepare for warp travel!”

“But sir, we can't leave behind the man in the boats! Besides, Avrick can't navigate us when he is like that. We'll lose our way-”

“I don't care, leave those Emperor-cursed fools behind and get us away from that THING!”

Suddenly the lights on the scanners went bright red, and the bridge descended into pandemonium. The alien ship was powering up again.The hull of the xeno battleship was abruptly bathed in a bright green light as emerald lights sprang up all over the accursed vessel. The assault boats finally seemed to realise their danger, and nearly as one they turned tail and fled for their mothership.


But it was too late for that.


Suddenly a storm of green lightning emerged from all over the crescent-shaped ship, heading straight for the swarm of pirate-boats. Entering evasive maneuvers, most of the boats avoided the lightning, but some weren't so lucky, dissapearing in bursts of fire and green light.

Another wave of lightning shot out of the alien ship, wrapping around the assault boats like a mass of tentacles and more of the boxy constructs were replaced with blossoms of fire.


The pirates on the bridge could only watch in horror and morbid fascination as more and more assault boats exploded as wave after wave of emerald ligtning arced into them. Soon all that was left was a large cloud of debris, radiation and smoke, the ligtning storms finally ending. Hundreds of pirates had just been slaughtered, mercilessly and without quarter.

Zander gulped, and was about to reiterate his previous order to Siln when Avrick reappeared. Hollow eyes wider than Zander thought possible, Avrick screamed one thing; “It's TOO LATE!” before his image was replaced with grainy blackness.




Small vessels dealt with, Ur'den'zanor took a moment to feel the hot rush of excitement he felt when he killed; a feeling that nearly made up for his horrible imprisonment.


Another consciousness, one of those that controlled the scanners, sent him updated data; there was another ship in the area. A bigger, more populated one. Having merely wheted his appetite for destruction, Ur'den'zanor was looking forward to rejoining the mighty Red Harvest; the galaxy-wide plan of extermination that would see every living being harvested and devoured by the C'tan.


This had nearly been enacted 60 billion years before, but the Necrons and Star Gods had been forced into stasis by the ravening hordes of warp-monsters that the Old Ones had inadverdently created by fighting the Necrons and C'tan.


Ur'den'zanor had not initiated scanning procedures to check for other awakened Necrons, yet, but when he did he knew that he would find many, many more of his brothers already beginning the Red Harvest. Even though most Necron Lords hated the C'tan for their actions, the idea of being able to take their rage out on an entire galaxy.... well, that was simply too tempting for the twisted creatures to rebel.


Let us begin the Harvest, the Ebony Lord ordered his ship and it's inhabitants gleefully. Let the death of this ship and it's crew be a precursor of the genocide that will come! Let this be the first in a long line of conquests for our race! Let these pathetic Young Races know us and know fear for the first time! LET THE NECRONS RISE!


His call was echoed by the virtual cheering of a ship full of former Necrontyr.






The call over the Goldskimmer's speakers was echoed by a titanic boom as the first of many arcing lightning bolts hit the ship. The feeble shields of the pirate vessel had been overloaded after a few seconds, and now storms and masses of arcing green lightning burned great rents in the hull.

Lights flickered and sparks flew as the craft's power went haywire from the barrage of electricity. Siln had not had time to begin the process of turning the ship around when the xeno vessel had opened fire.


Zander picked himslef off the floor of the pulpit and watched in dismayed silence as the alien ship began turning to face him. A massive bolt of lightning, larger than any of the others, suddenly shot out of the central pyramid and hit the front of the Goldskimmer. An area of twisted and scarred metal was all it left behind.


“Siln! Get us out-” The desperate captain's order was cut short as another gigantic bolt of terrifying power hit his precious ship. The screen showng Siln went offline for a second but flashed to life again moments later.

Behind Siln's terrified countenance, Zander could see small fires, bursts of sparks and technicians running everywhere, trying to douse the flames. “Cap'in!” The horrified old man cried, “We've lost the engines! We cant-”


The image abruptly cut into static, just as another bolt of green electricity hit the ship.


Staring in shock at the screen for several seconds, Zander tried to re-establish the connection. “Siln?” He probed gingerly, tapping various buttons. “Siln? I order you to speak to me!”

No-one answered. “Please....” Zander realised then that his old friend was dead. Turning solemnly to the bridge, numb with shock, he saw technicians running around like a kicked anthill, trying to bring the ship back under control.

At that moment, watching the scans indicate that the alien ship was powering up for one last, finishing blow, Zander realised that he was going to die.


The central pyramid of the xeno battleship was surrounded with a glowing nimbus of green light. A nimbus that was rapidly growing in strength, thanks to the two smaller pyramids flanking it feeding bolts of lightning directly into its tip. The glow grew to a blazing crescendo, and a massive blast of pure green fire was discharged, heading straight for the Goldskimmer.


Zander's last thought as his ship was engulfed in emerald flames was that at least his accursed debtors would never get their bloody money back.

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