Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fiction for the Kabal

I think that writing a short background story for an army, is a great way to address an often dismissed dimension to a hobby project.

With that in mind, here is the story I wrote for my Kabal of the Fursaken army book.  A bit tongue-in-cheek, I think the flavor is just about right for this project.  I hope you enjoy it!

     It was approaching midnight, and the small rat was perched atop an unrecognizable heap of rust, near the outskirts of a massive junkyard. Rearing back on two legs, the rat squinted as it peered up at the towering hive-city on the horizon. Miles from the scrapyard, the hive reached up and through the brackish sky. From the rat's perspective, the colossal structure did not appear as a defining product of human progress. To the rat, the hive appeared more like a pedestal. A miles-high pedestal, bragging with electric lights and infested with men. A pedestal from which, if you were lucky enough, the entire human race could look down at you. Deep in thought, the rat's long whiskers were still, in an almost prayer-like pose.
      One worn ear twitched, as a distant metallic clang echoed through the valley of trash. Darting away from the hive-city and between piles of abandoned machinery, the small rat headed towards the sound of the dull, hollow tone. The rat was not alone. It was soon joined by one, then several dozen rats as the ground took on the appearance of a bubbling stream. As the vermin began pouring from the large heaps of refuse, an eerie sound filled the breaks between the ringing toll, as the combined patter of hundreds, then thousands of feet filled the air with a soft rumble. The rushing swarm was heading towards a large opening in the junkyard, formed beneath the wing of a scrapped imperial transport. One light on the wing appeared to wink on and off several times, before staying lit and capturing the fleeting silhouette of a large, anthropomorphic figure as it wriggled down from the wing.
      The small rat leaped out of the throng and on to the rotted seat of an ancient motorbike, and surveyed the makeshift amphitheater. Formed simply from a 100 meter absence of scrap, the recessed clearing was partly covered by the wing of the transport. The inglorious light from the useless wing settled on a raised platform, which seemed to be constructed from various sheets of scrap metal welded into place. Standing atop this platform was a tall, white-haired rat, almost as large as a man. The white-haired Skaven was wrapped in a soiled purple cloak, and filthy wrappings that appeared to be stained with oil or blood. Holding a large wrench with his pink tail, the white-haired Skaven struck the hull of the imperial aircraft one final time. He turned, snapping a pair of whirring, telescopic goggles to his eyes, and surveyed the crowd.
      The ringing had no doubt echoed far across the junkyard, as the amphitheater was now a sea of glittering black eyes, reflecting the light from above. As the echo of the final clang died out, thousands of rats, many of which were full grown Skaven, waited in silent unison. For a few moments, the white-haired Skaven's goggles provided the only sound as they buzzed and focused. Apparently pleased with the results of the summons, the white-haired rat hobbled to the edge of the platform, and flopped down amongst the masses. Something large and fast leaped from the top of the derelict aircraft to the stage, landing with a metal “clink” which brought the crowd's attention back to the spotlight. Standing atop the piled scrap metal, was a massive black-haired Skaven.
      The black-haired Skaven wore a polished suit of scrap-wrought armor entwined with what looked like shreds of purple silk. The imposing attire of this Skaven was matched only by his sinister presence, as he scanned his empire with a cruel sneer. The crowd hung on each agile shift of his weight, and every tilt of his sadistic helmet. With an inevitable, gravelly voice, he began to speak:
      “We have been forgotten.” The black-haired one walked slowly back and forth along the platform, casting long shadows into his audience, searching for some reaction to his statement. After a moment, he shouted “We have been forgotten!”. Several of the smaller rats in the crowd skittered away from the stage, frightened by their leader's emphasis. The black-haired Skaven continued:
      “I have seen beyond the borders of this heap, even beyond the towers of the man-things. This place, this world, they would say we rats have no place in it!” Gesturing with his tail to the rotting transport, he went on, “This is a place for humans to put things, that they wish to forget about. They create something, allow it to carry them to great heights, then throw it away when it suits them. I say, we will not be forced to squat in silence!”. To this, a cough of assent answered from the audience. As the noise of the crowd subsided, he pointed at the machinery and scrap that littered the junk yard.
      “We will take from this land of trash, and sculpt tools. We will remember the strength of this metal, and fuel, and poison. We will remember our guile, our speed and our mastery of engineering. And when we are through, I promise you the man-things will remember us.” With this, the crowd thrust their fists in the air, with a resounding screech of agreement. The black-haired Skaven went on:
      “We will find a code of battle, that makes use of our cunning and backstabbing ways. We will use that code to direct the course of our aggression, and we will no longer be cast aside!”
      At this, another small voice, from a different area of the crowd, asked “Do you mean we should count as Space Wolves?”
      “NO!” Responded the black-haired Skaven immediately. “Kill whoever said that!” A nervous moment later, the silence was broken by a wet sound. The black-haired Skaven waited a moment to be sure of the deed, then went on:
      “In our quest for a place in this universe, we must remember what we, as rats, know best. So I ask you, what is it that Skaven know better than any other race in the galaxy?” Glancing around the crowd, the black-haired Skaven paced back and forth. The audience glanced down from the stage, and towards each other, as a chorus of whispers filled the air. After a full minute of introspection, the black-haired Skaven asked:
      “None of you know? My, have we forgotten our own nature?” Disappointed, the Skaven shook his head, rattling his armor. “Very well, I will reveal to you the answer.” Pausing for dramatic effect, the Skaven brought himself to full height, took a deep breath, and spoke very low. “The one thing that we Skaven know better than any faction in the universe, is...,” he let the anticipation linger, “cheese”.
      “So he IS talking about counts as Space Wolves!” shouted a voice from the back of the amphitheater.
      The black-haired Skaven dropped his shoulders and said “Seriously, kill that one too. Do it.” Again, a slick wet noise silenced the speaker.
      “As I was saying,” the black-haired Skaven paused, with one ear extended, taunting further interruption. When he was satisfied that he had the floor, he continued, “As I was saying, we know cheese!” The black-haired Skaven gestured with his arms apart, expecting some sort of realization from the crowd. This gesture was greeted with silence and the audience did not seem to understand, so he tried to guide them to the conclusion:
      “Cheese! We understand it! As rats, we love it! From cheese, we are able to derive power!”
      And with that, a voice from the center of the audience shouted, “Oh, I get it!” The black-haired Skaven raised his brow in hope, as he allowed the speaker in the crowd to continue. All of the Skaven standing near this bold speaker stepped away, putting their hands on the hilts of their weapons.
      The suddenly nervous Skaven in the crowd continued, with fear in his voice: “You are saying that we get our power, through cheese. Power through Cheese!” And with this, the black-haired rat closed his eyes and smiled.
      “Now, you understand.” said the black-haired Skaven, and a sigh of relief issued from the crowd. “We will make the man-things remember. We will make them pay! In this junk yard, in those factories, and in those hive cities!” With this, both the black-haired Skaven and the the crowd cheered in unison, and pointed their weapons towards the lights of the hive-city in the distance.
      A voice from the crowd broke through the cheer, asking, “We get it, Dark Eldar; but what shall we call you? What shall we call ourselves?”
      The massive black-haired Skaven grinned wickedly, answering, “We shall be known as we are: The Kabal of the Fursaken. And I, shall be known as... Vect”.
      A massive screech of approval echoed across the scrapyard. One small rat in the crowd wriggled his whiskers, and turned from the make-shift stage. Looking back towards the hive city, its small, beady eyes followed the lights up the towers, where they met in space with imperial cargo ships. Ships headed to untold worlds.


  1. You got a chuckle at the first mention of "counts as space wolves". :)

  2. I wanted to replace ever "forgotten" with "furgotten". I thoroughly enjoyed the Space Puppies jokes.
    So, instead of Pain Tokens will you be using Cheese Tokens? Heh.

  3. as neil said, the space wolf mention was just too good :)

  4. Neil: Your Dalek's Counts As Space Wolves were no small inspiration for that.

    Michael Hogan: I do indeed have the cheese tokens! Gf9 sells a "whine and cheese" set, and they fit my rats perfectly.

    blambi: I think I am just trying to deflect some of the "counts as" hate. Honestly, I just enjoy doing strange hobby projects, and anticipate people complaining. Either for the non-standard unit representation, or the claim that I am trying to use a new hot codex with an old and crappy army. I would think my effort eliminates that second option, but I still am cast into the pool of "counts as".

  5. People love to complain, but with all the work you've done there aint much room for them to complain at all. You've done a great job with this. Not to mention this goes far above the normal: these green marines are Space Wolves now, oops I meant Blood Angels, oh wait now they are Grey Knights.

    As long as you are clear with what each unit it is (and I know from seeing your Vraks first hand that you are and that you put to together a great Army List to show what each unit is) there should be no issue with your "count as" army.

  6. Tordeck: Thank you very much. Yesterday I picked up my Kabal army books from staples. $130 later, I wasn't sure if the books are worth the effort and expense, but your comment convinced me it is.

  7. This is a totally different kind of counts-as project that starts with a modelling idea, or a vision for how an army should look and then finds an appropriate codex. That's the distinction for me at least. I have all the parts for a similar project that starts with a set of models I want to see in an army, then uses a codex that will fit. I'm using dark eldar reavers and hellions en mass to produce a jet bike army using the Eldar codex, no cries of cheese here I believe.

  8. Old Shatter Hands: When you told me about that jet bike army, I thought it sounded really cool. Between Infinity, I am glad you are still pursuing it. I look forward to seeing it.