Lured to the remote jungle world of Pishon by a strange psychic signal, a pack of Tyranid warriors find themselves cut from the Hive Mind when their Swarm Tyrant is trapped in an arcane device. Deprived of the collective mind as their greatest asset and stripped down to instinctive behaviour, Gorger and his brood soon discover that their thoughts are still connected to each other. They have to deal with the rudiments of their own unfamiliar individuality while realizing that they have to destroy the prison holding their connection to the hive mind and kill its Adeptus Mechanicus gaolers...
My unofficial Warhammer 40k short story got published on Cold Open Stories.
Last year Black Library, popular tabletop games manufacturer Games Workshop‘s in-house publisher, had an open submissions window, inviting established as well as aspiring authors to pitch them a story. Like thousands of other Warhammer fans, I cooked something up.
Unfortunately Black Library did not pick up my pitch. This was not entirely unexpected, the premise was a little far out and the competition was fierce. Encouraged by positive feedback from the #writingcommunity on Twitter (bless you all!) I wrote it up as a short story and submitted it to Cold Open Stories for their second short story anthology.
Founded in 2019, Cold Open Stories publishes unofficial stories from the Warhammer 40k universe. As of today, they have published some 25 short stories on their website, and even produced five as audio dramas! And I am excited that they have accepted my short story and relased it today!
An obvious difference between original fiction and tie-in fiction is the imbalance in prior knowledge an author can presume in the readers. So in case you are unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40k universe, here is some things you need to know to understand the story:
- Setting: Warhammer 40k is set in the 41. Millenium. Humanity has conquered thousands of planets all over the galaxy, but is beset by enemies and war on all sides; every day is a fight for survival. It is grim and dark and the life of an individual counts nothing.
- Tyranids: An alien race with a collective mind (=swarm intelligence). Think Alien meets the Borg. Tyranids have highly evolved killer machines, all they want is to devour all the biomatter in the universe and incorporate it into their species. There is no way of communication with them, you either fight them or they kill you. The smallest creatures cannot communicate directly with the hive mind, they need so-called synapse creatures (like the mighty Hive Tyrant, but also mid-tier creatures like Tyranid Warriors) for that. In the game (where all of this is based on), once you eliminate these synapse creatures, the remaining Tyranid army will lose its cohesion and the player is not able anymore to fully control their behaviour.
- Adeptus Mechanicus: They produce all the great technology of humanity. Much of what humanity once knew has been lost to time, it is their desire and purpose to retrieve this knowledge. Their home base is on Mars, but they are also stretched throughout the galaxy. Technically they are human, but most of them enhance their bodies with technology to “be closer to the machine”, which they view as infallible.