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This takes place in the same world as Ours is the iniquitous. Read that first if you want, senpai-samma-kun-chan.
I miss drugs.
Step Two: Ours is the Hunger.
Three words made up its existence. Three words summarized its state of being.
One word described its character.
The forest rustled, trees rocked by wind as carpets of leaves swirled about along the forest floor, auburn shades of sandy yellow and dirt brown wrought together in a palette of endless fall. Skeleton trees quivered as they departed their seasonal offerings while towering pines remained stoic and green with nettled needles, casting shadows about the lonely world below.
Great clawed feet cut through the foliage as long loping strides carried an alien beast through the densely packed forest, despite its bulk not once did it disturb the trees with its passage.
It was not meant to be alone; though it was intended to act as a rouge element born apart from the greater whole. It was a vanguard organism heralding of the coming harvest across the vastness of space, secluded and isolated for countless years, a destabilizing element in the great disorder of the myriad cattle. Yet, despite all this, it was not meant to be truly alone. It was not meant to be deaf to the whispers of a distant and immeasurable intellect.
Ten feet tall and coated in slabs of heavy chitin plate, a Tyranid Broodlord lumbered through the forests of some unknown planet. Its bulbous head swung searchingly from side to side, four powerful arms curled close to its chest, each one ending in a fist of claws more suited to a sword-masters dueling rack than anything else.
It almost matched its surroundings, garish dusty brown flesh and ochre chitin plates; the towering monstrosity was still alien in every sense of the turn.
It was alone. Completely and totally alone. It had no swarm to lead, no creatures to control; it bore no all-encompassing Hive Mind, it did not hear the bellows of the Broodlord. Everything was gone. Everything was quite.
The great mind did not see it.
A Tyranid is a simple beast with few proclivities if any at all. They rounded up to a few simple rules- consistencies that adhered to all bioforms. Eat. React. Obey. Kill. Die. Simple quantities recited through a unifying force spawned millions of billions of trillions of light-years away in a distant galaxy. The Hivemind rules all, and knew all.
The lack of its prescient gaze… was unspeakable. There was no unity, no sense of direction to puppet its mind, allowing sense and direction to fade to the background and only killing strength to remain.
For the first time since it rose from the birthing chambers, a Broodlord is 'free'.
It finds life outside the cage, utterly alien, and terrifying.
It desires the collective, needs it like an obscura addict long deprived of their drug, the sense of community that had driven it in a brutal harvest.
For all its grandeur: standing full at ten feet of bone bleached white chitin and flesh rot pale yellow skin and pulsating red muscle, it was a slimmer, shorter, more compact phage of the Broodlord strain of Tyranid Biomorphs, evolved for the densely packed underground caves of a world slated for death. The entire body of the Broodlord was a macabre show of old scars and terrible wounds.
There was a slight limp to its gate. A swaying motion that churned the leaves around it with every lumbering step as it favored its right leg. Broken shards of chitin and raw muscle hung loose on that thigh but it was all long gone and scarred over. The bone had healed, but the muscle and exoskeleton remained crippled from embedded shrapnel that refused to break down despite the acidic compounds that that inhabited its body. Only thirty minutes past was it wounded so grievously.
It had begun on a dying world that had staved off its demise by holding the reaper at gunpoint and furiously refusing the inevitable. Humans, they were called, and tenacious they were. Blistering volleys of heat tore through subterranean tunnels that stretched on seemingly without end, and equally perpetual were the swarms of termagaunts and warriors and rippers and genestealers and raveners scuttled along the tunnel walls and ceiling and floors, a tide of bone, blood, and claws with glittering yellow eyes.
Crawling, digging, swarming downwards through the crust of a planet, seeking out the lower life forms hidden beneath, consuming them bit by bit, the surface scoured clean of what little chemical and biological life existed on its barren surface- the true sweets far below.
A broken hive they were, the gestation vessel, the hive ship, wounded and crippled. Separated from the grand tendril that birthed it years ago. Weak and malnourished, it fell upon this desolate rock of few and fragile things in expectation of an easy meal.
When cornered and routed, the 3784th Mordian Iron Guard turned, and what was once thought to be prey now grinned with a mouth full of fangs.
Blue-coated soldier-humans marched in perfect formation, lasloks blistering in retaliation and scorching away gaunt broods as soon as they are birthed, Leman Russ main battle tanks ground rocks into dust behind each blistering volley, guns blazing white hot and cannons roaring in exultation.
They held the line for an unprecedented six months. Even then, it was a forgone conclusion. Cut off from the greater Imperium and left on an unknown and unloved world, the Mordians died fighting to the very last. Cut up, devoured, hacked into pieces, rippers and Tyranid detritus bacteria broke down the Guardsmen and the civilians they protected into biological slurry that would be used to heal the hive ship.
In the deepest parts of the underworld hive city, were the urchin children of mankind lived, did everything fall apart. The Tyrant led its swarm into the final recess of the world, and came across the bizarre denizens that lived there: Mutants and psykers and Hrud scavengers alike. Cave walls turned to metal decking the deeper the swarm dug, the more they ate, the more they consumed for the Hive. They found at the heart of the hive- a ship.
A grand Ark Exodus ship from before the Great Crusade of mankind.
Its coirdoors ran red, its galleys stained with viscera a, rippers tore into its metal hull, crawling through air vents and raveners rampaged through desiccated bunks and bridges. The Tyrant stalked among them all, striking down the last few dregs of resistance. It came to ahead, when the Hive Tyrant ripped the bulkhead door from the final room.
The swarm found a pulsating core of epileptic power inside.
The warp-core, the archaic and wrongly worshipped dark soul of the ship, around it did fiendish cultists dance and sway, as they at long last roused it into activation. The swarm attacked, striking down the fools, and as one did they rush the main controls, the screaming voice of the Hive Tyrant propelling them onwards as the last cultist gaily raised a blood slick hand and pressed-
The Broodlord remembered little else. It recalled a violent eruption of light and sound, a biting cold that tore at its many wounds. Voices in its mind, trying to rip away its thoughts- the thoughts of the hive. Then it stopped. It found consciousness, lying on its side under a blue sky and surrounded by trees.
Instinct was a trait given to the lesser of Tyranid bioforms, where the leader beasts were flesh-puppets for the Hive Mind. In such scenarios where the hive mind was dampened Broodlords were blessed with a level of intelligence and reasoning unseen by any of the hive minds legion myriads, save only the Great Swarmlord and Hive Tyrant that eclipsed all others.
There was never a scenario where the Hive Mind was completely gone, leaving only the coiled bundle of dendero synaptic fibers and musculatory nerves woven together within the Broodlords skull to act alone.
It acted, but only with tentative steps at first, letting its barbed serpents tongue roll out of its double-hinged maw of fangs and taste the air. Its claws held at the ready, powerful flexing muscles bunched and uncoiled in preparation for first combat that did not come. There was only the rustle of dry red leaves forged from a perpetual autumn.
So it walked.
It was uncertain- perhaps even confused- startled by the creatures before it and it showed on its alien visage. Its yellow beasts eyes took in the sight of the lupine beasts with coarse black coats and masked faces with mouths ringed with fangs. It did not know what to make of these things, how to deal with them, what they were- the Hive Mind was gone, nothing was certain anymore. Did it attack? Did it kill these beasts as quickly as possible so that they may not summon more? Or did it run away? Were these creatures a mortal threat to its survival, small as they were, perhaps they carried hidden lethality that was of threat to even one such as itself.
Instincts- the things of lesser bioforms- but inherent to the Broodlord made it raise its heavy claws in preparations. It was a beast of war and consummate predation even in its harried state. It would not be found wanting should the Collective return.
There were many of them, and they thought to hide, but nothing could hide from the mind of a Broodlord. Latent psychic power brought the salient whispers of unshielded thoughts into its own and it traced the psychic signatures back to their source.
They were uncertain, wary, and filled with rage.
They raged because the Broodlord existed. Some vile, bastard version of a Collective bound them together- small and un-unified, but damnably familiar to what the Broodlord remembered. Yet even so, vile individuality resonated within each beast, a horrid trait. The Lupine creature before the Broodlord took another cautious step forwards, maw of nails opening and closing in frenetic seizers.
The Broodlord could feel its lack of commitment in this motion; the size difference between the two life forms was immense. If the Lupine beast were to stand on its hind legs it could barley reach the Broodlords hip. Then there was the appearance of the Broodlord- a monstrous alien creature coated in heavy plates of chitin, steam rolling out of organic heat vents, muscle coils exposed to the cooling air, barbed hooks curling off of limbs like spiny armor, horny protrusions and six inch long claws flecked in dried blood. It outweighed the Lupine runt before it in presence alone.
A single step forwards from the Broodlord would be all it took to send the pack of Beowolves running in silent acceptance of a superior predator- for the moment.
The Broodlord is confused. The Broodlord is alone. The Broodlord is forced to think for itself for the very first time since its birth.
The Broodlord grunts and takes an uncertain step backwards.
The unintentional sign of weakness is all that the Beowolf needs.
A snarl erupts from the Alpha. Powerful hind legs packed with tense lean muscle explode into motion, propelling the lupine assassin forwards and upwards in a burst of motion. Clawed forelimbs and steak-knife teeth bared and flittering white in the filtered afternoon sun.
A hand the size of its head and set with talons sharp enough to cleave through tank armor cuts through the air and pulps its body with hysterical strength. A form no longer recognizable crashes into the ground; black fluids and blood splatter the undergrowth and foliage as the ruined body twitches before it lies still. A liquefied internal system flows out from its open maw and cratered stomach.
It was entirely reactionary- the strike, conscious thought ignored as the powerful self preservation instincts distilled into every Broodlord kick in. The Broodlord flexes its upper right forelimb, fur and blood flake from its extended talons. The rest of the pack do not hesitate with the death among them, they launch themselves from their supposed cover, five in total, the Broodlord does not know this, but this is a paltry, miniscule pack.
Five die in under a second. The Broodlord pivots, silent in motion, four rending claws lash out, one excavates the contents of a Beowulf mid-flight, a claw tearing up from groin to chin, while another is skewered on the impossible sharpness, talon punching into the brain through the underside of its mouth and out through the skull. The third is crushed in the Broodlords grip; the fourth is batted aside like the alpha of the pack. The fifth meets its hungering maw- a wicked centipede's thing, vestigial arms reformed into razor claws by the preternatural evolution of the hive mind. It opens and invites the unfortunate Beowolf into its grasp before snapping shut and cutting the lupine thing in half. Not a single Grimm remained.
The Broodlord stood alone again, not even prey around it for company
The forest is silent again.
So it walks.
The Broodlord is not a stupid creature.
Its mind worked in ways incomprehensible to other beings, but it was a working mind imbued with independent thought and perceived action, it was self aware- although it hated all these traits- no longer were they backed by the fearlessness of the hive mind.
They ran rampant and things that once went on as unnecessary and unnoticed forced their way to the forefront of its consciousness. Hunger, thirst, shelter, community, survival. These once compelled the Broodlord, but it was no longer subservient to them, it would abide by them, but that was different- that was choice. Hunger was not new to the Broodlord, the memories of the Collectives endless hunger was still a fresh and beautiful memory. Thirst, a shadow of hunger, shelter was brought by survival and they would be taken care of in due time.
The Broodlord lowered itself closer to the ground, sitting on its haunches as one plated arm pawed at the remains of the creatures it slew, another pack of the lupine things- it found it to be a dissolving mess of flesh and bone, breaking down into constituent parts and then atoms and then nothing- faint black warm vapors rose from the bodies. Spoiled, rotten, diseased? These questions fluttered in the Broodlords brain, and it found it curious that it would ponder such things, biomass was biomass, and biomass was the lifeblood of all Tyranid organisms regardless of what it was made out of.
The barbed tongue rolled out of its mouth as it brought the disassembling corpse to its face. It began to feed, the tongue burrowed into the skin-sack that once was a Beowolf, and began to drink from the liquefying organic matter. It was rancid slurry that the Broodlord processed in its indomitable stomach capable of breaking down diamonds if given the time. Nothing it ate went to waste, but there was little for it to take from the steaming corpses. It degraded too quickly, barley even a meal sat in its belly now. It would require more by the end of the day if it were to power the metabolism that was a Broodlord.
It worked its way through the forest, trudging through mud, rain, and snow and even scorching heat, it did not need much in the way of sleep. Food was simple enough. As a Tyranid, the Broodlord was not a particularly picky eater; it did not eat so much as it process biological material. Tree leaves, grasses, berries, small birds and other mammals. The Broodlord was omnivorous, voracious even, stripping bark off of trees and mulching it into its stomach to be broken down and absorbed, these were paltry snacks, even when it had stripped nearly half a forest of trees, it was not enough.
It had found many Grimm. More so, they had found it.
Tyranids had their limits, and the Broodlord was nearing the extent of its strength and endurance. By the twenty-eighth day its body was a ruin of unhealed cuts and shattered chitin. Its claws were stained a deep black-red, its left leg dragged along the ground and gore colored its hide. The beasts came after it relentlessly, throwing themselves at its stature and dying all the same. They seemed as endless as they were implacable. It had tried eating them; something never before attempted and survived. They were decidedly unpalatable, the process of their rapid decomposition continued regardless of whether they were devoured or not, their bile had begun to clog the Broodlords powerful immune system with foreign chemicals. Even the Tyranid Broodlords biological perfection could not cope with the decay forever, it needed 'clean' biomatter. Lots of it.
It needed Meat.
The smell of the black beasts permeated the land in every direction, saturating it with their stench, but another smell carried on the wind. As it followed this scent- this promise of an untainted and filling feast, the dark stink of the beasts faded into the background, and newer scents and tastes ruled- but the whispered saccharine smell of the beasts was always there. The stink of new prey was also close. Many-Prey, but different.
The desert that had played host to it finally changed after another three days of running and fighting. Stalking out from behind a sandy dune, the Broodlord gazed out across a dead landscape coated with thorny brambles and angry splintered shrubs. Beyond that, a metal fence, behind it, food. It cared little for the brown shanties spreading out behind, tall wooden towers speared up into the air at regular intervals at the edge of a dusty village. It could see clearly the figures manning these watch posts.
The Broodlord looked higher, a crystal sky loomed above, and beyond the clouds there was a desert sun just beginning its descent.
It backed into the shade behind the sand dune, its skin and bone beginning to shift in color and texture to be better suited to its environment.
TELL ME WUT YOU FINK, FAMPAI.