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Imperial Armour 7: The Siege of Vraks, part 3 (2009), p151 — Blight Drones: The Bilecysts of Nurgle

During the final, mightmarish stages of the Siege of Vraks, many dark and terrible engines of war were unleashed by the Chaos forces to contest this benighted world. Staggering in their diversity and blasphemous in their malignant design, many were old foes of the Ordo Malleus, while others had been considered nothing more than fearful rumours until they appeared on Vraks. A few had never been encountered before (or at least none had lived to tell the tale of meeting them), and of this latter category on Vraks amongst the most unique and horrific were the Blight Drones.

Seemingly a weird conglomeration of insect larvae, flying machine and daemonic entity, the Blight Drones quickly became a terror in the poison-choked skies above Vraks. The maddening, incessant droning buzz of their rotor disks echoing from the murky fog of war quickly became recognised as an omen of death by the Imperial Guard troops. Stories from the maimed and rotting survivors of Blight Drone attacks quickly spread through the ranks. The fear of the negative effect on morale from these rumours was such that it became a serious concern for the commissars. Such rumours were judged to be a morale threat in-and-of themselves. By the end of the campaign those found to be repeating such stories faced arrest and transportation to penal units.

Unfortunately for the Imperial forces, the Blight Drones' macabre and deadly reputation was more than matched in dreadful fact by their effectiveness on the battlefield. Armed both with rapid-firing light cannon and a maw-like weapon capable of spewing jets of corrosive toxic bile strong enough to eat through metal and liquefy flesh in seconds, they proved deadly both to entrenched infantry and light vehicles, while troops caught in the open stood little chance against their swooping assaults. The Blight Drones' squat, bloated form also proved unusually resilient to weapons fire for a skimmer of their size, a factor attributed to their seemingly 'living' flesh and rusted armour plating, as well as the will of whatever dark intelligence guided them.

When first encountered, after action reports by scattered and often terribly maimed survivors led to misidentification of the Blight Drones either as conventional flying vehicles of some kind, or indeed huge Warp-mutated insects, but as the Inquisition's savants and intelligence staff pieced together the evidence, the truth that they were facing some new form of Daemon Engine became abundantly clear. The Blight Drones themselves were often encountered in clusters and swarms, acting much in the manner of carrion flies and ambush predators, drawn it appeared to ongoing bloodshed and concentrations of the dead on the battlefield as much as they were 'ordered' into combat by any directing force. Imperial psykers and Inquisition seers could readily detect the decaying spoor of the Daemons of Nurgle in their passing. Where ever they were encountered, the air grew thick with poisonous fumes and the soil of Vraks blistered and rotted beneath them as their corpulent flesh wept continually with dripping ichor.

Unconfirmed reports spoke of these Daemon Engines coming down to rest on piles of corpses seemingly to 'feed', liquefying the carcasses of the dead and the dying, and sucking up the decaying sludge, perhaps to fuel themselves or maintain their presence in the physical universe. But others claim that no evidence could be found of the Blight Drones landing or needing any form of mundane maintenance or base of operations.

Although the war on Vraks was the first confirmed encounter with the Daemon Engines codified as Blight Drones by the Imperium, and their origin remains unknown, it was not the last. Since the Vraksian conflict Blight Drones have been encountered in several battles, notably fighting alongside the renegades known as the Purge and several Death Guard splinter factions. Additionally, unconfirmed reports have placed these obscene weapons as part of the daemonic incursions in both the pongoing conflict in the Charadis Rifts and during the Thirteenth Black Crusade.