Szarekh watched from his tombship, far “above” the galaxy’s disc. From here, the stars and systems that constituted Sautekh space was like a scattered pinch of glowing sand, and the Gidrim Dynasty was just a few grains of that.
His people were dead. Lost, possibly forever. All because of Szeras’s technological madness and Szarekh’s own quest for immortality.
Yet in spite of all this, here they were, awake once more, 60 million years later, putting their empire back together.
No. Pretending to put someone else’s empire back together. The Necrontyr were gone. Finished. Their culture died with them. All that remained were the Necrons, pale shadows of their former selves, inferior in every way except longevity and deadliness.
This wasn’t the empire Szarekh remembered. This wasn’t the empire Szarekh wanted. Not at all.
The enhanced lifespan, certainly. That was wonderful. That was what his people had always longed for. A culture built around the horrors of cancer and death would always seek to escape, and that was exactly what the Necrontyr had done. But they had lost their soul. The Necrons had no art of their own. The Necrons had no music of their own. The Necrons had nothing like a culture anymore.
Every single Necron Szarekh knew of was just a conquest-hungry machine clinging to what he had known in life in an insincere charade. Imotekh. Trazyn. Anrakyr. Every leader of every dynasty.
Except one. There was still one leader who remembered how Necrontyr culture worked. One leader who remained incorruptible through it all. One leader who would never let his new state get the better of him. One leader who still remembered how to fight honorably and rule fairly.
And he was completely insane. His sincerity was admirable, but without his aide he would have fallen within a year of waking.
Perhaps that was what needed to be done, then. Perhaps the Necrons needed to simply embrace what they had become and do what it took to rule again.
Or perhaps they were not yet so far gone.
Had that not, after all, been the lesson Szarekh himself had learned at Devil’s Crag?
These extragalactic invaders, these “Tyranids”, were a threat to everything. Even the Necrons. A completely lifeless galaxy is not worth ruling, and even if the Necrons could somehow regain flesh-and-blood form, doing so in a post-Tyranid galaxy would mean being reborn only to starve to death.
Devil’s Crag had been interesting. Red-armored humans, the “Blood Angels”, and Szarekh’s own forces found themselves locked in combat, struggling for supremacy, when the Tyranids arrived. Szarekh turned and gave the order to fight on both fronts, defending against the enemy in front while focusing on the enemy at the flank. The Blood Angels commander did the same. As they realized they had just each given their own troops the same order, they hailed each other from across the battlefield on the comm.
“Our priorities coincide,” the human said.
Szarekh stared into the screen.
“I have no love for the Tyranids, and I see you feel the same.”
“Together, we can beat them. Help us.”
Szarekh stared for a long time. In all his millions of years of life, he had never, ever, received a plea for aid from an alien race. He didn’t know how to react. Slowly, he nodded, and shut off the transmission.
The combined forces of the Necrons and the Blood Angels proved too much for the invaders. As the battle drew to a close, Szarekh prepared to give the order to continue destroying the humans.
“My lord, a transmission from the enemy commander.”
“You fought well, xeno heathen.”
“My forces are exhausted. Today, we will withdraw.”
Szarekh couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Mark my words, alien. I will grant you the Emperor’s justice. But not today.”
Szarekh stared as the screen was shut off, and the humans began to fall back. He let them leave, before withdrawing his own troops.
Three armies had come to claim the world. None succeeded. But Szarekh had realized something very important today.
The Necrons had to repel the Tyranids alone. They were too brutal, too cold, too destructive to work together with any alien race for any meaningful length of time.
But the Necrontyr did not.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Willingly subjecting oneself to madness is nothing if not desperate.
Szarekh turned from the viewport. He stared at the crew, on the bridge. He willed them to be flesh and blood again. They refused, as expected.
But for a brief second, he had seen skin instead of metal. For a brief second, he had seen the rise and fall of breathing chests. For a brief second, he had seen the world through the eyes of Nemesor Zahndrekh, the one leader who still knew what it was like to be Necrontyr.
For a brief second, he had felt alive. And in that brief second, he had realized what it would take to beat the Tyranids.
“Gidrim,” Szarekh ordered.
“Yes, my lord.”
Zahndrekh’s knack for interspecies diplomacy was a gift born of insanity. Perhaps Szarekh needed to go a little insane himself. It was time to pay a very interesting visit to a very interesting friend.