The bilious, mustard green fog slithered through the streets, creeping between the collapsing buildings and overturned streetcars like some tentacled beast. It clung to every surface it touched, leaving behind a rancid and sticky ooze that at once stung at and numbed the skin.
Sergeant Barton had heard of this fog. It had crept through the streets of Hive Secundis not a week ago, before contact was lost with all companies stationed there. The Flatland Brigade was stretched thin, maintaining outposts all across this piteous gulf. There hadn’t been cause to hold Royalta for over a year, and yet those were his company’s orders, among others.
And now, in the outskirts of Prima Harbora, the last bastion of humanity on this xenos infested once-paradise world, this damned fog has come rolling in.
Imperial citizens had nowhere to go during the Pact War. They took shelter in their homes, in their cathedrals, underground, anywhere they could. The sewers. Even during the Flatland’s occupation, the civilians had made themselves scarce. Barton figured their grim visage inspired no hope amongst the people. It was no concern to him.
In the distance, a bell chimes. DONG.
This is of concern to him. He has heard of this bell, like the fog. DONG. By the third day of Hive Secundis’ siege, all the officers that he had spoken to or overheard on the vox network were stark raving mad. DONG. It grows louder, yet still distant. DONG.
He grips his laspistol in its holster, and stands to his feet. He and his squad are occupying a dilapidated tower, under orders from his lieutenant. He kicks the boot heels of one of his men, sound asleep in spit of the sonorous chiming in the distance. DONG.
“Wake up,” he says. “Look alive.”
“What is that racket, Sergeant?” a crackling voice over the vox caster asks, which rested idly against a shattered wall, its ferrocrete bricks exposed against the yellowing plaster. The snow tumbles down gently. DONG. It lands on Barton’s lips, and tastes like soiled milk. He hoists up the receiver on the vox. DONG.
“I don’t know sir,” he answers truthfully.
“Go investigate it then. It’s interrupting lunch.”
He rouses his troopers from their rest, their pallid grey skin nearly a frosty blue from the biting chill that hangs in the foul air. DONG. The smell of sewage permeates his nostrils before he straps his rebreather onto his face, the reek of filth replaced with the odours of his own sweat and cold oxygen. DONG. The bell grows louder. It is not one, but a choir of bells, a monotonous symphony. DONG.
The squad, composed of lowborn peasants, is prepared to march within the minute. Their lasguns are checked and kits are fully packed. Barton motions to move forward and the fire team becomes silent, and darts into the mist.
They are never seen again.