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Chapter Approved: The Second Book of the Astronomican

This book collects together material published in the Chapter Approved columns of White Dwarf. The name is a call back to the 1988 book Warhammer 40,000 Chapter Approved: Book of the Astronomican (for 1st edition Warhammer 40,000).

This short story was later reproduced in White Dwarf 265 (Jan 2002):

p58 — Cult Terminators

Corpses bloated with noxious gases spewed excremental fluids as the filth encrusted Land Raider crushed them beneath its rusted iron tracks, grinding their jellied bones to pulp. Explosions burst around the massive vehicle, filling the air with lethal fragments and scoring the necrotic surface of its armoured hide. Hulking and deformed warriors kept pace with the plague tank, firing mucus covered bolters through the yellow fog as they advanced. The Imperial Fists defensive line was less than fifty metres away, the ground before it littered with the twisted, plague-ridden carcasses of those unfortunate enough to have been touched by the dark powers.

The fog coiled about the Land Raider like a living thing, as though it moved on some vile business of its own. The white heat of lascannon fire spreared through the sickly haze and struck the hull of the tank, blasting a deep wound in its fleshy exterior. The massive vehicle slewed around, but kept moving, spinning tracks churning scraps of rotten flesh and decayed limbs as it rumbled over the pathetic barricade their foes had erected. The ground shook as the vehicle crashed back to earth. The front ramp dropped and pestilential fumes gusted from within, like the breath of some vast, infected beast. Vomited from the belly of the armoured beast, warriors spawned in a festering nightmare charged from the Land Raider, a foul miasma of contagion wreathing their helmets in smoky darkness. Almost three metres tall, the huge figures wore poisonous green suits of Terminator armour, splashed with clusters of weeping boils and sores. Diseased lesions and foul organic matter oozed from cracks in the armour, the stench of the plague Terminators causing even the defending Space Marines to gag through their re-breather equipment.

Captain Learchus of the Imperial Fists levelled his bolter at the hideous giants before him, scarce able to believe that he would once have called these abominations brother. Their souls were forfeit to the dark gods and their inner corruption was manifest in their hideousness. Hatred like nothing he had known before coursed through his veins like an electric charge as he emptied his magazine into the traitors. His squad followed his example, firing without pause into the charging Terminators. Several shells found homes in traitor flesh, blasting chunks of diseased tissue and ceramite clear, but not a single Terminator fell, the decaying armour and unnatural resilience of the followers of Nurgle carrying them through the hail of fire.

Brother Colathrax stalked leisurely through the fog of sweet corruption and hail of bolter shells, his plague sword licking out left and right. He cut and stabbed, slicing skin and pricking organs, but never killing outright; no, never that. For who was he to deprive his foes of the agonising bliss of Father Nurgle's Rot? How sweet it was to watch those whom the false Emperor had made mighty descend into madness and decay, their once powerful bodies turning on them as plague reduced them to mindless, gibbering horrors of mutated flesh. They had set themselves up as gods and would now pay the price for that arrogance. A Space Marine Captain in blazing yellow armour stood before him, his sword raised in challenge and Colathrax smiled.

"Time to die, traitor!" hissed Captain Learchus.

Colathrax chuckled, "I think not," and swung his dripping sword at his opponent. Learchus ducked and thrust with his own weapon. The energised edge scraped a furrow in the Terminator's armour, but slid clear. Colathrax batted aside his opponent's blade with his power fist, stabbing his suppurating weapon through Learchus' belly. The blade of the plague sword skewered the Space Marine in an upward arc, lifting him from his feet and hammering through the building behind.

Learchus hung suspended above the ground, blood pooling beneath his twitching body. The wound refused to close and Learchus coughed bloody phlegm as he felt the meat of his body rotting at a terrifying rate, internal organs flooding with dead fluids and the flesh of his limbs sloughing from his bones inside his armour. His breath rasped as his lungs dissolved and his vision faded as his eyeballs liquefied, sliding down his face like glutinous tears. He tried to curse his killer, but his throat had ruptured and seconds later his brain was a foetid grey ooze dribbling from his sagging head.

Brother Colathrax inhaled the intoxicating aroma of his master's putrescent benediction and offered a short prayer to Father Nurgle. He wrenched his sword from the wall, allowing the sloshing suit of power armour to topple to the stinking ground. The disintegration of this world was almost complete and Colathrax could taste their victory on the foul wind that swept the battlefield. He pictured oceans of decaying flesh, infection rampant and plagues unnumbered. That would be their gift to the denizens of this mortal realm.

Colathrax laughed at the thought as the fog closed in.

Amongst an expanded list of daemonic gifts available to Daemon Princes is the following:

p68 — Daemonic Gifts

Nurgling Infestation — 20 points

Daemon Princes of Nurgle are often huge rotting bulks of diseased and plague-ridden flesh, second only to the Great Unclean Ones in size. Hidden away amongst the leprous folds of skin, a small horde of Nurglings can often be found that become companions to the Daemon Prince, as well as unholy terrors when their host is attacked.

In assault, the Nurglings grant the Daemon Prince an extra D6 Strength 3 attacks as they swarm forward to attack the enemy. These bonus attacks do not ignore armour saving throws and are resolved with an Initiative of 3. A Nurgling Infestation may only be selected by a Daemon Prince with the Mark of Nurgle.