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Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018), p61 — Plague Drones

Rotting Riders

High-ranking Plaguebearers are known amongst Nurgle's legions as Plague Drones, a title that conveys commendable humility. These overseers of Nurgle's realm ride into realspace mounted upon Rot Flies - colossal daemonic insects whose appearance is so repugnant it scars the mind. From their lofty positions, the Plague Drones can properly tally the diseases running rife across the battlefield, as well as swiftly intervene should Nurgle's divine plans meet with heavily armed resistance.

The Rot Flies themselves are amongst Nurgle's most loathsome creations. Only the forbidden tomes of the Black Library speak of the vile process by which these creatures are birthed, for they hatch in the sticky depths of the Garden of Nurgle, where the visionary and the loon wander in their dreams and nightmares. Some Beasts of Nurgle, disappointed by the ragdoll inactivity of their mortal playthings, develop a kernel of bitterness in their ebullient souls. Crestfallen puzzlement leads to frustration and ultimately an aching resentment. Over the millennia, a thin seed of malice grows in such a Beast's heart, feeding upon the energies of its depression and angst until it throbs like a pus-filled canker.

The final straw comes when the Beast is betrayed unto death by those it wishes to call its friends. Seeking reconciliation, the Beast will put aside its doubts and bound optimistically towards the ranks of those mortals it has cornered. Should one of these ingrate warriors slay the Beast with a lucky sword thrust or well-aimed plasma blast, the creature will vanish howling into the warp. Called back to the immaterium, the Beast lollops and huffs, splashing down into the mire of Nurgle's garden with an aggrieved sigh. The knowledge that it cannot return to the delights of the mortal realm festers within it as it wallows in the sheer unfairness of the universe.

Over the centuries the Beast pupates, protected from harsh reality by a crawling shroud of Nurgle's fattest flies. A daemonic metamorphosis takes place as the chitinous nub of hate that lurks within the Beast grows strong on the sallow bulk of its former incarnation. Eventually, the creature within bursts out of its cocoon as a full-grown Rot Fly, a creature of pitiless malice hell-bent on wreaking its revenge upon an uncaring universe. Plaguebearers prize such steeds highly, for in their haste to punish the mortals that once spurned them, Rot Flies speed into battle at a great pace.

As the Rot Flies fall upon their prey, leathery wings buzz in a flapping purr of motion and clouds of deathbottles fill the air above, choking airborne warriors and clogging engine intakes. Prehensile probosces and posterior mouth-parts latch onto the faces of their victims, and the Rot Flies let out titters of mean-spirited laughter as they pluck heads from necks and swallow them down. When facing the common soldiery of realspace, a Rot Fly will slowly digest all meat from a skull before extruding a plague-infused death's head that its Plaguebearer rider can hurl at the foe. Given the chance, though, Rot Flies will hunt down the heroic warriors that slew their previous incarnations. A special fate is reserved for such individuals - opening their maws wider than physical law should allow, the Rot Flies swallow their prey whole, keeping them trapped in their mucus-filled abdomens for eternity.