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Fanfic / The Shape of the Nightmare to Come

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It is the 51st Millennium and I cannot wake up from this nightmare! I cannot wake up!
— From the Introduction, and gets progressively worse from there.

What's worse than Warhammer 40k? Warhammer 50k. The Orks and Tyranids accidentally spawn a hybrid species, the God Emperor has finally perished, the Imperium is shattered, the Necrons reawaken, Chaos reigns supreme, and that's just the beginning. The sheer amount of despair and horror can be unnerving at times, and the often Lovecraftian style of writing amplifies these elements.

Basically, The Shape of the Nightmare to Come is to 40k as 40k is to Star Wars or Star Trek. Note that since it is posted on a forum, there will inevitably be some posts between the updates. You can also read it without the posts here on 1d6chan, (a mirror of the defuct 1d4chan) There is now a sequel, The Age of Dusk, which can be found here (parts 2-5 are here).

Because this is a fanfiction of Warhammer 40,000, please consult that page for tropes pertaining to the original universe of which this fanfic is set.


  • All Your Powers Combined: The New Devourer is basically what happens when the optimal hybrid forms of Ork and Tyranid are created by the Octarius war; they then decide to eat their forebears and everything in the way (i.e. half the galaxy).
  • Anticlimax: Ynnead, the Eldar God of Death which will rise up and finally defeat Slaanesh, comes into existence early. It's trapped in the Infinity Circuits, though.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: On Captain Tastando Markus, who used his ship "to terrify isolated worlds into submission, or used his bloodthirsty crew to board ships, or invade particularly primitive worlds, plundering them of anything of value, raping anyone they chose to, and generally being unpleasant."
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In a truly horrifying version of the Star Child theory, the Emperor upon death becomes the Chaos God of Order.
  • The Atoner: By the end of the story, the narrator decides that he's had enough of hiding. He sends everything to Vulcan in the hope that he might restore light to the galaxy, and we learn his name. Lord Inquisitor Kryptman.
  • Balkanize Me: The fate of the Imperium, which collapses into thousands of "Petty Imperiums", all trying to re-unify the galaxy.
  • Came Back Wrong: The God-Emperor, on dying, revived as the tyrannical Chaos God known as the Star Father.
  • The Cavalry: A villainous example. Typhus the Traveller and his fleet arrive just in time (although it actually took them two weeks to traverse the Warp) to reinforce Abaddon's fleet during his war with Perturabo and Angron. The Nurglesque vessels besiege the Goliath Engine and heavily damage it, enough for Abaddon's capital ship to finish it off and win the battle.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: It manages to make the 40K setting even worse than it already is.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe. By the end of Section 27, the author finally gets fed up with telling "ghost stories" while the entire universe goes to hell, and decides to actually do something.
  • Dark Fic: Of Warhammer 40,000. That should be saying something.
  • Egopolis: Cato Sicarius renaming Ultramar into Grand Sicarum, just in case his bloody takeover of the Ultramarines and Joseph Stalin-like purging of dissenters didn't make it clear enough that he's gone WAY off the deep end.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ophilim Kiasoz, which unmakes solar systems just by passing by them. Also the Star Father and the Nex. The New Devourer could possibly be this, but it's hard to know since it was Put on a Bus (it did eat about half the galaxy beforehand, though).
  • The Empire: Abbadon's Chaos Imperium, Grand Sicarum (previously known as Ultramar), Huron Blackheart's Chaos Imperium and the Tau, to name a few.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Abaddon's Chaos Imperium versus the Perturabo-Angron alliance (Abaddon wins), and later on Abaddon's Chaos Imperium versus Huron Blackheart's Chaos Imperium (ends in a draw).
  • Fallen Hero: Commissar Yarrick, hero of Hades Hive, butcher of Betek.
  • Framing Device: The story presents itself as a scholar's record to collect and store the history of the post-Imperial galaxy.
  • From Bad to Worse: The past ten millennia haven't been kind to most of the factions in the galaxy. As the former Imperium crumbles, the scattered remnants of mankind grow more and more desperate before dying or falling to madness and brutality. The Tau are forced to grow harsher in order to survive the constant attacks on their worlds, and the Orks and Tyranids are wiped out to a man by the New Devourer save for a few survivors. Only Chaos and the Necrons gain anything: Chaos gets a new God and takes over huge chunks of Imperial space — including Cadia and Terra — and the Necrons revive the Void Dragon and go on a rampage throughout the universe.
  • God Is Evil: The Star Father, the aforementioned Chaos God of order. While the Star Father is technically a chaos god, there are distinctive differences between him and the others — one of the most notable being that Angyl worlds (his version of Daemon worlds) have a weakened connection with the Warp, opposed to a stronger one in the case of the other chaos gods. Also his catchphrase: "OBEY!"
  • God of Order: The Star Father, despite being a Chaos God, represents order through obedience. He's the reborn Emperor of Mankind.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Many Forge Worlds become this, often combining it with Mordor. Ironically averted with the surviving Eldar, who manage to trick their way into top positions of several Petty Imperiums (the Exodites), become pirates (the Corsairs), or become The Empire (Biel-Tan).
  • Knight in Sour Armor: What happened to the Tau in wake of the grimness of the endless destruction rampant throughout the galaxy. Though they don't wipe out any race they encounter like the Imperium, their diplomatic policy has changed from "negotiate first, then subdue if necessary" to simply subdue.
  • Last Stand: As the galaxy spun out of control, numerous factions chose to go out in furious battles against their foes. The Imperial Fists on Terra, the Orks on Octarius, the Space Wolves on Fenris, the Grey Knights and Custodes on Titan...
  • Mercy Kill: Based on the Emperor's last words, his death at the hands of Cypher may have been this. Of course, it did nothing to lighten the suffering of the galaxy.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Angyls are the daemons of the Star Father.
  • Private Military Contractor: The Free Companies (Astartes for hire), the Kroot (not suprisingly), Janisar's Fremen (no, not those Fremen), and the Serf-Soldiery of Krieg (formerly the Death Korps of Krieg), among many others.
  • The Reveal: At the end, it is revealed that the (in-universe) author of the Fictional Document is none other than Inquisitor Kryptmann, the person who first "discovered" the Tyranids, and the one who turned the Tyranids toward the Orks and unwittingly created the New Devourer. He joined the Order of the Recollectors in order to create a summary of post-Imperial history, which is the story itself, as mentioned above. In addition, the Hermit mentioned is in fact Vulkan, Primarch of the Salamanders, who is building an empire centered off Armageddon.
  • Scavenger World: Even more prevalent than in 40k. Gerhed Lussor's Rogue Trader Empire is an entire star empire based on scavenging.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Abaddon takes a second level in badass, going from a terrifying warlord that remains barely contained in the Eye of Terror to ruler of Cadia and a huge part of Imperial space, called the Chaos Imperium.
  • Truce Zone: Belius, the Barter King's world, free geld.
  • Unseen Evil: The Nex, which is hinted to be related to the deepest layers of the Warp, and the Ophilim Kiasoz, of which almost nothing is known except for the above.