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Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant (2018), p24-25 — A Sickness in Dontoria

Dontoria Hivesprawl was the largest of all the planet Vigilus' inhabited regions. It was noted for one thing above all else - its overpopulation. As a result, when one of Mankind's darkest and most ancient enemies decided to make Dontoria its playground, the consequences were devastating.

The bustle and mayhem of Dontoria's streets was bewildering, even before the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum. The black market barons and czars in control of that hivesprawl knew well enough that building tall was a waste of resources. Unlike many of their peers, who were too hidebound, unimaginative or afraid of bucking the rules to stop building upward, they had instead opted to spread as wide as possible - even if that meant narrowing the streets to the point that entire regions became one vast contiguous hab-block.

As a result of this land grab, the buildings were packed in close together, every available space capitalised upon so much so that people had to rub shoulders and share humid air if they wished to proceed above ground. To enter the subterranean levels brought its own risks. Down there, power cuts were common, and those stranded in the darkness did not always come back out.

Such a rich, teeming source of life attracted predators and other baleful influences, just as shoals of vexenkrill attract the leviathans of the ocean deeps. The Drukhari of Kaelac's Bane had raided the hivesprawl more than once, taking a rich haul of slaves back to their base. The Cult of the Pauper Princes, seeing in the sprawl a great many converts-to-be, spread from Megaborealis to infest its lower levels and began the slow, insidious life cycle of their Patriarch all over again. But the false continent's doom was to come from another source entirely.

In the year 2.230 post, Dontoria's principal spaceport - Litmus Dock - received reports of an unknown vessel inbound. It was a pattern of vessel that even the Tech-Adepts seconded from Megaborealis considered ancient, encrusted with the filth of millennia and some manner of strange caulk that made its shape seem as much organic as mechanical. A rain of filth drizzled from its hatchways and airlocks as it came down, its crew ignoring the increasingly insistent calls for its animus codes. When the dock's garrison opened fire upon the vessel with their Icarus autocannon emplacements, some manner of shield repelled the shots. Even lascannons proved unable to pierce the unaccountably strong barrier. The ship docked, by now surrounded by Arbitrators and garrison troops. Its hatches clunked open, and stumbling out came a crowd of distended, bloated mutants - the ambulatory corpses known as Gellerpox Infected. Their assault on the garrison was easily put down by disciplined lasfire, but that which followed was all but impervious - a detachment of Death Guard. Their bulbous and horned silhouettes identified them as the same Heretic Astartes that had assailed Ultramar not long before. A fierce close-range firefight broke out, but the Death Guard shrugged off all but the most dire injuries. They used the Infected as fleshy shields, quickly going to ground via the underway dry docks of Litmus' lower levels.

With coordination at an all-time low due to the Noctis Aeterna and the myriad other threats upon Vigilus, the hunt for the invaders was not reinforced. No armed force was keen on rooting out entrenched Heretic Astartes, but many of the elite Guardsmen and those Arbitrators with a keen sense of duty braced themselves and went into the depths. Most found nothing. Others found painful death. When Tempestor Naiod ordered the lower levels firebombed within a two-mile radius, the Imperial forces considered the matter closed. Naiod withdrew the 98th Lamdic Oxen from the operation, and the hunt slowly ground to a halt. Only when a strange plague started to manifest across the district did it become clear that the scions of Nurgle had been diligent indeed.

The magnitude of this infection cannot be underestimated. This is no natural plague, no malady that the human body can fight and overcome. This is the Gellerpox. It is fully capable of causing flesh to run like wax, to swell and burst, even to blend with augmetics, wargear and those machineries close at hand whilst the sufferer sleeps. The resultant hybrids are as tough as Ogryns and singularly focused on bringing their blight to as many uninfected as they can find. In the name of the Astra Cartographica, I implore you - quarantine Dontoria, effective immediately, or lose your planet to an enemy you cannot fight.
— Delarique du Languille