The Shadows have come

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Callaghan pounded his feet against the road, scrabbling with rubble and debris for traction. The buildings on either side of him were dull, white-washed, living quarters. Some of them were damaged, all were abandoned. The hive world of Nicodemus had recently been involved in one of the most complex wars in the eastern fringe. And Callaghan was stuck right in the middle of it. After Callaghan's local PDF regiment recently destroyed an Ork war band, the order to fall back into the hives was given. Not much longer after that, and Callaghan was running for his life.

Panic overtook his mind; all thoughts of common sense were banished as the road steadily ran beneath him. Any experience solider, without panicking themselves, would have tried to lose their pursuers, ducking in shadowed alleyways, doubling back, hiding under the cover of a ruin. Yet, Callaghan's actions, born of desperation, actually achieved more than the standard procedure would have done. For these pursuers were different.

Callaghan looked over his shoulder, his eyes searching for the menace that plagued his mind. On first look, it would appear that no one was there, but Callaghan's frantic mind managed to make out the flickering outline of his pursuers. Hiding in the shadows, keeping away from the lighted street centre, they were nearly invisible. Callaghan turned back around, towards his destination. The road seemed to stop at the edge of a large circle of light. In a clearing of destroyed debris, the interior guard has left a small outpost of ten men, with a heavy bolter and a long range vox-caster.

Callaghan stumbled into the circle of light, the sandbagged outpost in the middle. He ran over it, vaulted the sandbags, and finally slowed down. Then he noticed the bodies of his fellow guardsmen lying on the ground, one of them holding the heavy bolter in a parody of his last living action. Callaghan franticly searched for the vox-caster, realising that his only hope was to get assistance. He found the vox system, flicked on the power and found the emergency frequency.

"This is the Imperial Nicodemus Fleet emergency frequency, your reception is below standard, please wait until we can redirect our communication equipment to your sector. This will take approximately three minutes."

Callaghan swore under his breath, cursing his luck, the Imperial fleet, and the techpriest who decided to have the computerised voice recording sounding. He raised his head above the sandbags, scanning for signs of his pursuers. Seeing none, he scooped up the vox in his left hand, and scrambled towards the entrenched heavy bolter. He was prepared to fight for the three minutes until help.

Once reaching the weapon, Callaghan pushed his fallen comrade with a strength only known to those who fear for their life. As the lifeless trooper fell to the ground, his head rolling loosely, Callaghan hysterical movements somehow reloaded the heavy bolter. Having prepared the weapon, Callaghan looked to recoup himself, and positioned himself behind the barrel, ready to launch a flurry of metallic exploding shells at anything. Catching breath, he scanned the shadows for any sign of his enemy. Seeing none, Callaghan took the liberty of checking the slowly diminishing time till his communication with the fleet. Roughly 2 minutes, according to the vox screen.

A flicker of movement caught his eye, nothing much, but enough to trigger his frenzied mind. Hands leaping to the trigger of the heavy bolter, Callaghan searched the shadows once again. This time he was rewarded with the sight of his pursuer. Still hidden by the darkness, for they stayed away from the light, masses of writhing limbs and gnashing maws could be seen moving through the gloom. Callaghan's already frantic mind went insane at the monstrosities that he was facing. Calling upon the Emperor to guide and protect, Callaghan fingered the trigger. A multitude of exploding metal shrapnel flew towards the shade, hitting everything hiding within. The distinct sounds of bodies hitting the ground came to Callaghan's ears, yet less than logic would deem. Instead, as far as Callaghan's eyes could make, many of the creatures were just weathering the blows, an unseen force protecting them from harm.

Callaghan's mind turned to fear, as his ammo went dry. An uneasy silence rested over the city, as Callaghan's enemies seemed content to wait. Surprisingly, in a distant corner of Callaghan's brain, his time was ticking down. Only 30 seconds until contact. Yet, as Callaghan moved to grab the Vox, a sharp, searing pain entered his back. Looking down to examine his chest, Callaghan noticed a large harpoon shaped weapon piercing his sternum. A deep, dark black, this harpoon seemed insubstantial, and indeed, because as Callaghan began to fall back, sunlight hit the weapon, and it faded with a whisper. The wound was still as grievous, but there was no trace of the harpoon itself. As Callaghan's head hit the pavement, he could see his killer, a large mass of tendrils and limbs, with a large black weapon mounted onto its back. As he laid there, the Vox crackled to life, contact had been made. Dimly, Callaghan realised that a communications officer was asking for his name, position and current situation. Callaghan's lips formed a reply, forming the correct position for the letters, but no sound came. Yet, if one was there, one could easily guess what he was saying, for it was evident on his face.The Shadows had come.




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