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Hell Night (Short Story)

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Hell Night
Hell-Night.jpg
Author Nick Kyme
Publisher Black Library
Collected in Legends of the Space Marines
There Is Only War
Tome of Fire

Cover Description

At Mercy Rock, the 135th Phalanx are losing a war against Chaos-touched rebels. Discipline is failing and their line is set to crumble. With the arrival of the Salamanders, hope is rekindled. But a night is approaching when reality is weakened and ghosts walk the world. As his warriors face the traitors, Librarian Pyriel must confront the mystery of Hell Night.

Synopsis

A battle force of the Salamanders, led by Sergeants Dak'ir and Tsu'gan, accompanied by Librarian Pyriel, embarks to the planet of Vaporis where the 135th Phalanx Regiment of the Imperial Guard are besieging the rebel-held city of Aphium. The rebels' void shield is holding strong, and the Imperial artillery is running dangerously low on ammunition, but that is not the worst thing the Guardsmen face. Ghostly bells are ringing and spectres are rising out of the battlefield and dragging soldiers beneath the earth. Commissar Loth refuses to believe in these spectres and has the ranking General executed for cowardice, along with any soldiers who dare to suggest that these spectres are real. The Imperial forces must attack again, and they must do so on "Hell Night," the solstice of the planet's annual cycle, when the night is longest.

Even the Space Marines are unexpectedly helpless against the spectres, and their sole weapon is Pyriel and his psychic powers. He leads the Salamanders and the remaining Guardsmen in an attack on the shield, protected by a delicate psychic cordon. Meanwhile, Dak'ir, injured in an early battle with the spectres and left behind, ventures into the passageways beneath the Imperial headquarters and finds old records that explain the mystery.

The spectres turn out to be the souls of the congregation of a church, Hallowed Heath, that was the twin of Mercy Rock (which is still standing), but built upon bad foundations. In the Unending Deluge of 966.M40, the rains fell for 66 days and caused the Hallowed Heath to sink slowly beneath the earth, trapping her 546 patrons inside as it did so. For three days the inhabitants rang the bells, begging for help from the surrounding towns, but to no avail. The town of Aphium was the closest, and the most indifferent, its citizens fearing for their own lives if they travelled into the quagmire.

Dak'ir voxes Pyriel, who looks closer at the void shield and realises that the Aphians are reinforcing it with a psychic barrier of their own, fearful of the spectres. Pyriel drops his cordon and focuses all his power on breaching the shield and immolating the ring of psykers inside the city. The spectres leave the Imperial forces and take their revenge on the city's inhabitants, leaving none alive and eventually finding peace.

Setting

The planet of Vaporis, described as a monsoon world, suffers from a large amount of rainfall, in the base set up in the church Mercy Rock and the sodden battlefield before the besieged city of Aphium.

Characters

Salamanders

Imperial Guard

Sources