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The Enemy Within
Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:13   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Enemy Within

*Author’s Note: This ungainly 9,000+ word story is composed of the first two chapters of a Warhammer 40k novel-in-progress. Do not expect the second chapter to clear up the entire plot; in fact, it should do just the opposite. Thanks for reading!*

“Your silence betrays your faith, Astartes. The Chapter archives have been all but eradicated, nothing remains. The Ordo Malleus is most interested in investigating this pressing issue, but in order to help you we must first understand,” the Inquisitor said, shifting forward in his seat. The agent’s gaunt face was as tight as it was humorless.
“The curiosity of my brethren, righteous as it was in origin, engendered unimaginable sin. Don’t be too quick to follow in their footsteps,” Silas said.
“I did not travel all the way from the Segmentum Obscurus to return empty handed. Do not insult me, Astartes.” the Inquisitor said.
“Emperor curse the day I answer to an Inquisitor,” Silas replied coldly, getting to his feet. The marine’s black hair was as short as the unkempt stubble running rampant along his jaw. His eyes were incalculably sharp, drawing attention to his mysterious grey irises. As he took a step away from the table the Inquisitor’s tight-lipped expression twisted into a malicious snarl.
“Don’t you walk away from me Space Marine. I’ll crush you underfoot like the impudent worm you are!”
Seemingly apathetic towards the nature of the Inquisitor’s threat, Silas stepped briskly into the hall, the door closing automatically at his heel. The pair of Inquisitorial Storm Troopers on either side of the doorway exchanged startled glances as the Space Marine imperturbably walked away.
Swooshing open, the doors parted to reveal the Inquisitor, fuming with rage. Silas did not turn his head to acknowledge the crazed official, instead, opting to continue on along the corridor.
“Make another step and I’ll slay you where you stand, faithless swine. Need I remind you of the fate of your kin?” the Inquisitor growled from somewhere behind him. Silas slowed his pace, looking over his shoulder. The agent had withdrawn a sleek laspistol from its holster and Silas was looking directly down the narrow barrel. The pair of Inquisitorial Storm Troopers at the doorway had their Hellguns trained on Silas. Clenching his teeth, the Inquisitor held the firearm level with Silas’ head, his eyes probing Silas’ face for weakness.
“Give me a reason,” the Inquisitor hissed, his index finger slowly constricting the trigger. Silas’ eyes darted to the Inquisitor’s shoulder. Heavy footsteps signaled the large figure’s steady approach.
“It would be quite ill-advised to murder a Space Marine aboard his own ship, Inquisitor Hood,” a voice interjected. Quickly spinning his head around, the Inquisitor shot the unwelcome interruption an infinitely cold glance. A large figure donned in weathered Power Armor rested a hand on the agent’s shoulder, carrying an ornate helm snugly under its arm.
With a bitter look of dissatisfaction the Inquisitor lowered his weapon to his side, recognizing the figure.
“My sincerest apologies, Epistolary,” Hood said. “Your men aren’t making this easy.”
“I’ll talk to my brother, Silas is my responsibility,” the Librarian said. “Tell your Storm Troopers to lower their weapons; I’ll have no bloodshed aboard my vessel.”
Hood made a motion for the soldiers to stand down, acknowledging the Librarian’s authority. With clear reluctance, the Storm Troopers eased down their carbines in obedience. Forming the Imperial Aquila over his breast, Hood turned and strolled away, Storm Troopers trailing behind him. As the Inquisitor disappeared back into the dimly-lit room Silas released the overly tight grip he had on the Power Sword sheathed at his side.
“Forgive me, Brother Rameus,” Silas said, bowing his head. “I did not wish to cause a ruckus.” The great figure sighed, shaking his head.
“Brother Silas, the Ordo Malleus is growing tired of your attitude; you cannot hold your silence forever. It has been a mere four Terran days since the events on Sistine have come to pass and already the Inquisition is at our doorstep; this fact alone should reveal the gravity of the situation.”
“The Inquisition doesn’t know what they’re getting into,” Silas said.
“Which is exactly why you must tell them what they’re dealing with,” Rameus replied, walking Silas down the corridor. The massive Librarian towered nearly a foot above Silas, his head shaved bald and his skin a deep black. “You still haven’t informed me of the happenings on Sistine. You cannot continue to keep everyone in the dark,” Rameus said, a hint of frustration surfacing in his facial features.
“If Inquisitor Lord Hood will kill for this tale then I will continue to keep you in the dark,” Silas said.
“I’m not asking you to do this for the officials, Silas. I’m asking you to do this for the Chapter; Alaric would have wanted it.”
Silas shook his head at the mentioning of the Chapter Master.
“No, Master Alaric would have wanted anything but this to happen. He tried everything in his power to bury all that Maalik unearthed. This is why you must keep your involvement to a minimum lest Inquisitor Hood makes you his next target.”
“The Inquisitor cares little for the fate of the Chapter, but he can help to restore our name in good faith. The Chapter is forever scarred, Silas. Recent events have cast us from the light of the Emperor. We must repent, the Ordo Malleus is our ally.”
“You would think otherwise had you been there, Rameus. If the Inquisition meddles further in the matter more innocents will die. There is another way.”
“No, Silas, there is no other way. Do not further sully our honor. Tell Inquisitor Hood what he wants to hear.”
“His thirst for retribution will not be sated by lies, Rameus. He won’t be so easily thrown from our trail; he knows the artifact is aboard,” Silas said, shooting a casual glance over his shoulder. “Brother Rameus, I can no longer protect its location alone with the Inquisition so close to home. I fear he may discover it before we reach our destination.”
“The location of the relic is still unbeknownst to Hood? This situation can be twisted to our advantage yet,” the Epistolary paused, face pensive. “The artifact can serve as leverage in our salvation.”
“I doubt it will be that simple,” Silas said, shaking his head. “I hid a personal log onboard the Anthem; the record will answer all your questions. Seek its location charily, I fear returning to its location myself will draw too much unwonted attention. ”
“I see,” Rameus said, pausing at the end of the corridor. “I suspect a deeper plot in all this. Remember Brother Silas, put the Chapter before yourself.”
“I will,” Silas said, bringing a closed fist to his breast.
“I’ll keep Inquisitor Hood off your back for as long as I can. As long as we remain on my ship he will abide by my command. I can’t make any further promises; I trust your judgment in this matter.”
“As I do yours,” Silas said, bowing his head in respect.
“Meditate now on today’s lessons learned. Perhaps you can collect yourself with a little rest,” Rameus said, turning to the bridge entrance. Silas watched pensively as the Librarian entered through the bridge doors leaving Silas alone in the corridor. The prospect of sleep hardly tempted Silas. Too frequently had his sleep been visited by the unspeakable horrors he had witnessed.
The great viewport adjacent to him attracted Silas’ gaze. The infinitely vast sea of stars inspired an eerie sense of foreboding in Silas. He was unsure of why he felt so disturbed before a scene that would arouse pride in most men. After all, each and every one of the glittering specks before him had been conquered by the efforts of mankind. Even so, Silas could not help but think that the storm had not yet come to pass.

“You have strayed far indeed, my child,” the familiar voice whispered. Continue upon this path and you will lead your Brothers to ruin. Did you honestly assume you escaped ultimate destruction by your own hand? You are foolish indeed to think that a mere mortal can comprehend his own fate. Your destiny is intertwined with that of the Eye. Fate is born of my flesh, Silas; I am the Father Architect. Your fate is my will, embrace it.”
Silas’ eyes snapped open suddenly, the whispers lingering faintly in his thoughts. He wiped the stray beads of sweat from his brow with a heavy hand, sitting up on his cot. It became painfully apparent now that even his dreams provided him little reprieve from a dark reality.
Silas shifted his legs, hanging his feet off the side of the cot. He welcomed the cold touch of the steel beneath his feet; if anything, it was a reminder that he was still among the living. Senses snapping to attention, Silas detected movement behind the closed chamber door. Someone was moving just outside his room.
Surely enough, the automatic doors parted silently as a pair of unwelcome guests strolled into the darkened room, their agenda reflected in their hasty strides. Silas recognized the intruders to be agents of the Ordo Malleus, all of them armed.
Silas got to his feet slowly, suspicious of why Inquisitorial Storm Troopers had invaded the privacy of his quarters. As he opened his mouth to speak more figures filed into the room behind the pair of agents. The first two approached him simultaneously, Hellguns in hand.
“Sergeant,” Silas said, addressing the nearest figure, “what is the meaning of this?”
Without pause for reply, the Storm Trooper thrust the butt of his rifle into Silas’ forehead. With an audible crack, the Space Marine’s head snapped backwards, thick beads of saliva trailing from his parted lips. Immediately following the sting of the blow, the second Storm Trooper brought his Hellgun down forcefully over Silas’s head, knocking him belligerently to the floor.
Silas, on hand and knee felt the burn of a sharp kick to his bruised side as the Storm Troopers encircled him, beating him with their fists and weapons. Bearing the pain, Silas erupted from off the floor swinging his fist at the nearest assailant. Every occupant of the room heard the resounding crunch of cartilage as the Storm Trooper was thrown to the ground, nostrils trailing red.
Following through with the momentum of the swing, Silas whipped his elbow around directly into the face of a second soldier, the tremendous force of the superhuman blow smashing the tinted visor of the Storm Trooper’s helmet. The soldier toppled over on his back, the lenses of his masked face completely shattered.
Silas’ world went black as another faceless assailant struck him from behind, dropping the raging Space Marine heavily to the ground. The Inquisitorial Storm Troopers did not stop kicking until the Astartes stopped moving. It was common knowledge that Space Marines never went down without a fight.
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:13   #2 (permalink)
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The hangar lights flickered to life simultaneously, bringing the air docks out of darkness. The spacious interior was devoid of activity save for the pair of figures pacing about the foreign shuttle docked at the far side of the hangar.
Rameus heard the doors shut at his back, glaring at the Storm Trooper patrol. His ship was crawling with the Ordo Malleus by now. It seemed that there was a pair of Inquisitorial soldiers at every doorway and corridor. Hood was getting out of hand.
The Storm Troopers watched suspiciously as the massive Librarian began to walk towards the opposite wall, ignoring their suspicious stares. Pausing under the shadow of a Thunderhawk gunship, Rameus recognized it to be the one he had flown into battle. Held aloft by a great pair of mechanical service arms the Space Marine troop transport lay still a few meters off the ground.
Climbing into the ship’s accessible side compartments, Rameus noted that the gunship’s navy blue paint coat was in tatters. Small arms fire left the ships’ hull scarred though the stencil printed title, Anthem, was still largely legible in weathered, white paint.
As the Librarian pulled himself to his feet within the gunship’s troophold his calculating gaze scanned the floor for the story Silas had promised him. The interior was clear of debris from the Thunderhawk’s last battle; the pools of blood that once stained the grated floorboards of the ship had since been cleaned.
It occurred to Rameus that the Chapter Servitors would have already gathered any misplaced items in plain view and it was highly likely the agents of the Inquisition had already delved deeper in their search. Reluctant to abandon hope the Librarian began to shuffle through the onboard compartments, starting with the cockpit. His efforts fruitless Rameus returned to the troophold, searching each possible panel; each time the Librarian pulled open a bin to reveal its empty confines he cursed vehemently under his breath. Though he remained unsure of what he sought the Epistolary felt whatever clue Silas left him would reveal itself when he stumbled upon it.
Frustration wracking his nerves, the Librarian pulled upon the handle of the rearmost wall compartment. To his further irritation the storage bin did not open willingly on its own accord. The door panel had been smashed in slightly, the compartment door too dented to pull open. Rameus would not have noticed the damage had he not made the attempt to open it.
Spurred by one final spark of curiosity, Rameus forced open the compartment with a brief shriek of steel. As the compartment door was torn open the mechanical contents of the bin toppled out at his feet in a coiled heap of wires. Scooping the inorganic tangle off the floor, Rameus pulled apart the clumps of wires to reveal the bleak face of a mechanical skull underneath.
Recognizing the small robotic construct to be a deactivated Chapter Servo-skull, the Librarian dumped the evidence into the confines of his empty helmet without further inspection. With the helmet clasped under his arm, Rameus leapt down softly from the Thunderhawk troophold wondering what dealings the little machine had in Silas’ troubles.

Silas first detected a faint pattern of breathing nearby, eyelids too heavy to confirm. Then he felt the pain. His head throbbed thunderously, his muscles atrophied to the point of complete exhaustion. His ribs burned intensely having never received ample time to heal. His weak body all but useless, Silas was left only with his senses.
“Forgive the brutality Astartes; but, desperate times require desperate measures,” an all too familiar voice chimed. Silas shifted uncomfortably in his seat, feeling the strain of the inevitable bonds around his wrists. Eyes flickering open, the Space Marine cocked his head towards the sound of the voice.
“By the authority vested in me by the Ordo Malleus I hereby place you under arrest for your ultimate failure to cooperate with the agents of the Inquisition,” Inquisitor Hood said grimly. Silas glared angrily up at the Inquisitor.
“You have no such authority here,” Silas spat.
Chuckling softly, the gaunt-faced agent clasped his hands over a closed datapad on the table separating them, ignoring his response. Silas could sense the presence of the Inquisitorial Storm Troopers behind him.
“You’ll tell me everything I want to hear, Astartes,” Hood said, leaning forward. “You’re in my custody now.” Silas straightened his slumped form, leaning forward across the table to match the Inquisitor’s posture.
“Release me at once,” Silas said through gritted teeth.
“I cannot do that, Astartes. You are a threat to the Imperium now,” Hood replied coolly.
Their faces resting only inches apart, Silas’ knuckles went white behind his back as he strained against the bonds to move closer yet. Spotting the Space Marine’s clenched teeth the Inquisitor slowly withdrew to the back of his seat.
“As the last surviving member of First Company it would be nothing short of an atrocity should anything happen to you,” Hood said menacingly. “Keep your silence and I assure you the Imperium will forever forget the Silver Wyverns Chapter.”
“Lies! You need what I know,” the Space Marine barked.
“Do not be so foolish, Astartes; I know the artifact is on this ship,” Hood said, nodding to a figure behind Silas. “Do not waste my time. I will not hesitate to scatter your brains should I encounter further resistance.” Even as the Inquisitor spoke Silas could feel the cold metal of a barrel being pressed into the back of his head. Silas’ mind raced for answers, the most practical slipping his tongue.
“The artifact is lost, it was inevitably destroyed during the jump,” Silas said, mindful of the loaded guns behind him.
A look of sheer disbelief crossed the Inquisitor’s stern face.
“Was it now?”
“You’re an insufferable fool, Inquisitor. You have no idea what you’re messing with,” Silas said. Hood shot the Space Marine a cold glance before flipping open the datapad, blatantly ignoring the warning.
“Tell me everything preceding the event, starting with the penitent crusade,” the Inquisitor said, datapad recording. “I want to know everything.”
The bitter scowl across Silas’ face slowly faded as the marine edged back into his seat. Silas could feel the lingering poke of the gun on the back of his head as he inhaled deeply.
“Tell your Storm Troopers to lower their weapons before I put them all into a coma,” Silas menaced. Nodding empathetically, the Inquisitor gestured for the soldiers to back down. Grudgingly taking a deep breath Silas focused his attention back on the agent before him.
“Our objective was never to retrieve the artifact,” Silas said. “Timat III was a natural target.”
The Inquisitor looked amused at this statement.
“You are mistaken, Space Marine,” Hood said, smugly enough. “There is no such world.” A puzzled expression crossed Silas’ face. His tongue had made no slip; he was quite sure of it.
“I assure you Inquisitor, Maalik’s transmission was quite clear. Timat III is a Daemon world nestled deep in the bowels of the Eye of Terror.”
“Imperial archives show no records for any planet of this name. I have studied the region extensively throughout my career; there is no world by the name of Timat III.”
“I don’t think you understand, Inquisitor Hood. Maalik described a world of countless dimensions, a planet ignorant of reality presided over by the Changer of Ways.”
“So it was in vengeful tribute that the crusade dealt a blow against the deity worshipped by an ancient foe? I still fail to see how a world in the vise grip of Tzeentch eluded the Ordo Malleus all this time.”
“The Warp works in mysterious ways, Inquisitor.”
“Indeed,” Hood replied sounding much less amused. “Continue.”
“Due to our tremendous failure during the 13th Black Crusade, Chapter Master Alaric demanded that we prove ourselves worthy of the Emperor’s grace. It was Master of Sanctity Maalik who took it upon himself to launch a full-fledged offensive into the Eye of Terror,” Silas said.
“Why, of all possible Daemon worlds, choose Timat III? Surely the uncharted regions of the Eye of Terror are the most dangerous,” Hood said.
“The promise of vengeance was an alluring one. It was the Thousand Sons who laid waste to our fleet, scattering our ships across the Immaterium during the last Black Crusade. After the destruction of our fleet the Chapter numbered just over four full battle companies of marines. Is it not plausible in the slightest that Maalik sought to settle a score on that Emperor-forsaken world?”
“I would not find it farfetched for an Asartes,” Hood said. “Timat III is the birthplace of the artifact, is it not?”
“The crusaders retrieved the relic after a decade of pitched fighting,” Silas answered.
“So, the artifact is born of the darkest of deities. It is inevitably a weapon of the Immaterium,” Inquisitor Hood said, talking mostly to himself. “Such a device must predate the history of our Empire; this is a rare find indeed.”
Silas slowly shook his head, discouraging the notion.
“Its discovery led to the destruction of my homeworld, Inquisitor. Do not mistake its sinful design for brilliance.”
“The artifact corrupted the better half of your Chapter, did it not Astartes? This, of course, is no surprise,” Hood said, a sadistic grin creeping across his face. “The Silver Wyverns are no strangers to failure. Not even a half century of self-inflicted penitence can bury old habits.”
Silas was on his feet in a heartbeat, knuckles white behind his back. The thick veins in his arms and neck were throbbing with adrenaline.
“You can curse my existence as much as you will it, but, to make such an affront on my brethren will merit you a swift death,” Silas said, fuming with rage. “I will not warn you a second time.”
Hood looked taken aback. The Strom Troopers quickly trained their Hellguns on the marine.
“You are in no position to threaten me, Space Marine,” the Inquisitor growled. Out of the corner of his eyes Silas saw movement as a pair of Storm Troopers approached on either side of him, handling their Hellguns like crude weapons.
“Sit down, Space Marine,” the Inquisitor said, gesturing to the chair. “We have only just scraped the surface of the incident. I know there must be much, much more on your mind.” The Storm Troopers edged closer, arms at the ready.
Silas did not move, his eyes ever transfixed upon the Inquisitor before him. He made no effort of opposition when the Storm Troopers grabbed him harshly by the shoulders and forced him back into his seat.
“Why are you so reluctant to help us?” Hood questioned. “Do you not realize that I can provide you with that which not even a penitent crusade could not? With your help I can wipe your Chapter’s slate clean, discrediting the events on Sistine and return you to His embrace.”
“You would weave a mess of lies to hide a tangle of heresy?” Silas’ eyes narrowed. “Lies will only gild a history of sin. You’re nothing more than a hypocrite, bringing my divinity into question,” Silas spat.
The Inquisitor did not look visibly shaken in the slightest. Closing his datapad with a swift motion the Inquisitor looked to his eager soldiers.
“Leave us,” he gestured towards the door. “These matters transcend the duties of your presence. See to it that we are not interrupted.”
Not questioning his intent, the Storm Troopers filed quickly out of the room without a second glance, leaving the Inquisitor alone with the Space Marine. Silas heard the doors shut quietly behind him as the last of the Inquisitorial soldiers went out into the hall.
Looking sterner by the moment, the Inquisitor fished a hand into his coat pocket, setting his laspistol heavily upon the table.
“There will come a time in His service where you will have to make a choice,” Hood said, leaning back in his chair. “The decision will inadvertently have grave negative consequences.” The Inquisitor retrieved a small vile and a compact syringe from the dark confines of some coat pocket. “You are fortunate enough to retain your free will in making this decision, should you cooperate. Tell me what I need to know and I’ll grant you the privilege of choosing the lesser of two evils.”
Silas’ attention was focused on the clear substance held within the corked tube upon the table. The contents of the small vile gradually settled as the Inquisitor made himself comfortable. The Inquisitor’s cold stare seemed to pierce Silas’ grey eyes, searching his thoughts. “Maalik made his decision,” Hood continued, “now make yours.”

Finally safe from the prying eyes of the Ordo Malleus, Rameus retrieved the Servo-skull and set it down upon the table. It was only here, in his personal chambers that he would find refuge from the Inquisitor’s minions. Turning the little machine over on its side Rameus searched its external memory banks to his great satisfaction. Inserted directly into the Servo-skull’s memory bank was a video-feed chip; Rameus immediately recognized it to be one originating from the personal mission cam of a Space Marine.
Flipping the machine’s power switch to life, the skull-like robot’s eye sockets radiated with a deep sanguine, a lens within the cranium casting an equally red beam upon the table. The Servo-skull immediately began projecting a holographic video-feed upon the floor.
Clever indeed, Silas, Rameus remarked, watching intently as the beam of light formed three-dimensional figures. As the holographic video-feed unraveled the long awaited explanation, an audio message recorded in Silas’ voice began playing.
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:14   #3 (permalink)
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“This message is restricted to Epistolary Rameus’ eyes and ears alone for the reconstruction of Chapter archives. Blessed be His warriors.
941.M: Sistine...”


“We’ve waited decades for this day, Silas. Today He welcomes us back into his arms,” Alaric said, standing alongside his fellow marine. The Commander felt a profound swelling of pride as he looked out over the boulevard.
“I have not seen Maalik in years,” Silas said, resting a hand on the stone balcony railing. “Today is a blessed day indeed to see that our Brothers have at long last returned home.”
Many stories below the balcony the grand boulevard was throbbing as hundreds of cheering men and women joined the thousands of joyous spectators on either side of the street. Multiple rows of armed PDF personnel kept the crowd off of the road by forming a well-disciplined line in front of the undulating mob. Many amongst the crowd held flowing banners or ruffling scriptures aloft above their heads. The citizens of Sistine had witnessed their champions fall from grace before; they were all too eager to see their heroes reclaim their righteous former status.
Alaric looked at Silas for an extended period of time wondering weather or not he should bring up an old proposition. Against his better judgment, Alaric turned from the Veteran Sergeant to watch over the boulevard, holding his tongue.
Silas took his eyes of the crowded scene to look back at the Chapter Master, a host of mixed feelings complicating his thoughts. Alaric eyed Silas sympathetically, his blue eyes and broken nose dominant features of his familiar face. The Chapter Master’s head was crowned with a field of short, grey hair.
“I shall hope they feel well-received, this is no modest greeting,” Alaric said, obviously in good humor. Silas watched as great flags were unfurled from the opposite balconies, the fabric ruffled gently by a mild breeze.
“Master, had you ventured to the very heart of hell and back you would expect no less,” Silas said, eyes sweeping up the boulevard to the palace gardens. The elegant Governor’s palace towered above the flower gardens and the city buildings alike. No less than forty stories high the palace was an elegant gothic fortress left from the days of the great Heresy. The imposing military structure stood as an omnipresent reminder of the conflict that continued to menace the Imperium regardless of the current occasion.
After taking in the glorious scene with a self-righteous expression, Silas shot the Chapter Master a glance.
“How many heroes can we expect home this day?”
“The crusade has been taxing on their numbers,” Alaric replied, his expression much more solemn. “As of yesterday we received a report of no more than 217 survivors.” Seeing the grin spanning Silas’ face fade rapidly, Alaric turned away. “We could not have hoped for any better. You should be grateful He shepherded so many safely back to us.”
“This quest for repentance has stretched our numbers dangerously thin,” Silas said. “We now stand at just over three hundred warriors in total including ever reserve at our disposal. This will not be enough should we find ourselves caught in the wake of another Black Crusade.”
Alaric could not suppress his thoughts any longer.
“Which is exactly why we I need you as a company Captain,” Alaric blurted out. Silas’ eyes widened. “Second Company is in dire need of a commanding officer; your skill with a blade and mental acuity make you an obvious choice.”
“I cannot allow myself to accept such a promotion,” Silas said, shaking his head.
“Do not refuse my request a second time, Brother Silas. You have the potential to make this Chapter great again. Do not disappoint your Brothers, their loyalty to you is unwavering,” Alaric said, eyes set intensely on the Veteran Sergeant.
“Why me?” Silas inquired. “I have nothing beyond my life to offer the Chapter. I am not the hero you’re looking for, surely there must be another.”
Alaric shook his head in disagreement.
“I spoke previously with Third Company Captain Rigel before he died; he had no doubt in his mind that you would lead the Chapter to greatness. Honor his decision, Silas.”
Silas did not speak for quite some time, opting to watch the parade below instead of making contact with Alaric’s icy stare.
“I hope you’ll consider my offer with time,” Alaric said to Silas’ back. “You are the closest thing I have to a son.”
Silas slowly corrected his posture.
“I do not wish to ill-serve my kin.”
“Keep faith, Brother-Sergeant, keep faith,” Alaric said. “This day will not be remembered as one of woe with the dawn of our salvation approaching so quickly. Prepare the Brothers, the other Companies are due to arrive any moment now,” Alaric turned from the balcony.
“Speak of sin, look to the skies,” Silas pointed. High over the azure horizon a series of brilliant lights flashed as a plethora of bulky objects began to materialize. The enormous silhouette of the Harbinger Battle Barge, surrounded by an escort of smaller vessels, grated the skies, clearly visible against the blazing sun.
“By the Emperor, the fleet’s arriving,” Alaric grinned. “We shall speak more of this later; I want to be on the ground to praise Maalik in person.”
Nodding in agreement, Silas turned from the balcony railing to join the Chapter Master, the pair of bulkily armored marines quickly approaching the lift.
“As do I,” Silas added tardily, stepping through the elevator doors. “It’s been far too long.”

The unbridled cheers of the crowd were deafening so near to the street. Alaric and Silas were joined by a trio of familiar faces as they stepped out into the sun. Company Apothecary Artemis stepped forward to greet them, his bone-white armor radiating with the suns’ rays.
“Care to join us?” the Apothecary inquired, forming a fist over his right breast. Two nearby helmed marines mimicked the gesture in Alaric’s presence.
“Nothing would tempt me more,” Alaric beamed.
“He’s not the only one,” Silas said, his outstretched hand pointing up the boulevard. The eyes of the Command squad followed the gesture up the walls of the gothic fortress to the grand balcony supported by a pair of large, stone gargoyles.
A handful of elegantly-clad figures observed the spectacle below from the perched terrace. One of them leaned comfortably against the large stone railing as he watched.
One of the helmed marines porting a promethium-fueled Flamer shifted his gaze from the palace. Silas recognized the Veteran Specialist immediately.
“The good Governor has finally made an appearance,” Specialist Golik noted, holding the ornate Flamer at his side. “He makes so few public appearances these days one would start to believe the aged man’s health was failing him.”
The second helmed marine murmured a quick agreement, hefting a bulky machinegun as he neared the others.
“He acts as if death is not on his agenda,” Devastator Bellum added. “He promised to see the crusaders return and he has honored his word.” The Devastator’s munitions belts rattled sharply as he shifted the weight of his ungainly Heavy Bolter.
“It is unlike a man of Sistine to go back on an undertaking,” Alaric said, looking to the skies.
The throngs of bodies reveled as the Harbinger dipped below orbit, the massive vessel making a slow dive towards the city streets. To the spectator’s delight, the gargantuan Battle Barge swooped high over the boulevard, its massive form blocking out the sun. The Harbinger’s many port and starboard hangars emptied themselves of well over a dozen soaring Thunderhawks, each a miniature in comparison to the giant above.
The earth quaked as the massive engines boiled the skies above, Thunderhawks streaking overhead. Great gusts of wind blasted down the streets as the gunships settled down between the rows of buildings, each touching down at the far end of the boulevard. The Thunderhawks hovered gradually to a halt a few meters above the street. Nearly half the transports dropped a pair of hulking APCs onto the street; the others unbolting their side compartments as dozens of power-armored figures piled out of each of the Thunderhawk’s troopholds. The marines hopped heavily to the ground, each figure quickly moving in formation as the armored transports began to drive in unison up the boulevard ahead.
The crowd erupted with bravado as the crusaders began their steady march towards the flower gardens, the eight-foot-tall warriors towering over the throngs of spectators. The skies turned a deep crimson as countless waterfalls of rose petals cascaded gracefully down from the balconies above.
The outstretched hands of men, women and children brushed the legs of the crusaders as they passed, the line of PDF troopers struggling to restrain to the energetic mob.
Cheers echoed endlessly up and down the street as the Space Marines progressed towards the crusade’s final destination, their unit flags fluttering gloriously in the breeze.
Silas looked on proudly as a lumbering MkIIc Rhino APC rolled past the line of PDF troopers in front of him. Small columns of Space Marines marched alongside the great war machines, each one suited in full wargear with weapons held aloft in their arms. As their fellow Silver Wyverns marched past the toll of their victory was made evident.
Countless suits of power armor lay in ruin, many littered with deep gashes and scattered scorch marks; a myriad of suits were riddled with entry wounds and smashed to the point of disrepair. Never once did the crusaders turn to acknowledge the cheering crowd as they passed, marching diligently towards their destination, heads held high.
“Let the scars they bear serve as a testament to their sacrifice,” Master Alaric called above the ambiance of the mob, looking to his command squad. “May no man, woman or child of this earth forget that which we have suffered through.”
“Once again the Silver Wyverns will be respected amongst the most pious and pure of the Emperor’s Chapters,” Apothecary Artemis added, raising a saw-toothed Chainsword to the heavens. The others raised their weapons in concurrence.
Silas’ eyes darted around the passing column. He was joined by countless others in his search for the cynosure of the victory parade.
“Emperor above, there he is!” Bellum said, gesturing to the center of the boulevard. In between two rows of armored transports and footslogging crusaders walked a small group of the Chapter’s finest. Silas caught an ephemeral glimpse of the hulking senior Techmarine Vessus, a host of mechanical limbs extending from his back as he trudged up the street. Each massive robotic limb ended in a massive mechanical pincher, the vice grips bobbing like the tail of a scorpion over his head.
At his side an organized unit of marines bearing shimmering axes and swords matched his powerful strides. Under the rain of thousands of fluttering rose petals the champions looked to be wading through a sea of blood.
The center column followed in the footsteps of a particularly bulky figure donning a hooded suit of masterfully crafted armor. The aura of power emitting from the figure’s strides was truly awesome.
Spiked chains draped down across the figures studded shoulders and chest, dozens of polished skulls hanging down across his sides. The great figure gripped a radiant Crozius Arcanum resembling a massive spiked Morningstar, his strides akin to those of a giant. Though the marine’s face was shrouded by a shadowy hood, every citizen of Sistine knew his name well.
The Chaplain’s awesome presence drew the eyes of every spectator. Doubtlessly knowing he was the cynosure of the crowd’s attention, the Master of Sanctity brought the spiked Crozius Arcanum to his breast, his masked retinue shouting a battle hymn.
The bellowed words of the hymn were drowned out in a sea of cheers; yet, the Command squad joined in silently, flawlessly matching their tune.
Crimson petals crunching underfoot, one of the distant marines turned his gaze towards the Command squad, his expressionless helm fixating upon Silas. The hollow stare left Silas dumbstruck, his lips no longer able to continue the mantra.
Turning back to face the gardens, the faceless marine did not look to the side of the street again, walking on as if he had not seen a thing. Something about the crusader sent shivers snaking down Silas’ back, a feeling he experienced more and more frequently as of late.
Shaking off the lingering cold of the marine’s gaze, Silas joined back in the applauding. At the foot of the palace gardens the armored convoy reached its destination; the first pair of Rhinos swung out to face the crowds having reached the sloping staircase that cut the palace gardens in two. Parking alongside the first APCs, the remaining Rhinos dropped their rear access ramps, emptying their hulls of a near a dozen crusaders each. The footslogging units halted their march no more than a full block from the gardens, the marines looking to the ascending stairs as they halted their advance. Climbing the ancient steps, the center column made its way patiently towards the colossal set of admantium fortress doors at the fortress vestibule, the gaping doorway left open for their entry. Silas watched as the last of the rose petals floated down freely from the Chaplain’s shoulders as he led his retinue into the maw of the Governor’s palace.
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:14   #4 (permalink)
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The breeze changed directions rapidly as the engines aboard the Thunderhawks down the street roared to life. Sharp winds kicked clouds of rose petals into the air as the gunships lifted off the ground vertically, their primary engines in kicking in with a jolt. With a scream of the engines the Thunderhawks soared over the boulevard, heading back towards the distant Harbinger.
The entirety of the large crusader force was waiting calmly at the foot of the stairs, just outside the gardens. The crusaders shifted their gazes to the Governor’s palace, waiting. Consolidated into one massive force, the army was an imposing sight; each squad a moving, breathing armory. Silas picked out dozens of man-portable Missile Launchers and Heavy Bolter machineguns within the ranks of the crusaders and just as many Plasmaguns and Flamers shimmering amongst them.
Every other marine bore a Godwyn pattern semi-automatic Bolter, the standard multipurpose assault weapon for each and every one of the Emperor’s Chapters. Even so, many amongst the crusaders had upgraded their weapons with elongated stocks, optical scopes and serrated bayonets.
The Command squad looked up from the spectacle to see Chaplain Maalik and his retinue step out onto the towering balcony above from a large, poorly-lit doorway. The crowd exploded in jubilation in their presence. The Governor made a clear motion for the throng to quiet itself as the crusading Chaplain made his way over to the balcony edge, looking out over his people. Briskly stepping aside, the Governor’s advisors moved to the outside of the balcony to accommodate the half-dozen hulking marines at Maalik’s heel.
Forever Maalik’s right-hand-man, the senior Techmarine remained near the doorway, leaving the Master of Sanctity to bask in his moment of glory. The weary Planetary Governor turned to Maalik, speaking words that did not carry beyond the balcony. The Governor’s failed attempt to silence the crowd’s bravado was made evident as he reached for a small case at his side. Retrieving an elegant laurel from its case, the Governor held the crown of leaves high in the air for all to see.
“Sistine’s highest honor, now, Maalik’s prize…” Golik murmured. Ignoring the explosion of cheers, the Governor turned to the Chaplain and whispered another indistinguishable string of words. Even at such a distance, Silas could discern the Governor’s request.
Maalik’s left hand continued to grip the spiked Crozius Arcanum as his right went up to his face, pulling at the heavy black hood shrouding his face. Pulling the fabric from his bald head, Maalik revealed his exposed eyes to the Governor. The weary politician now stood motionless before the Chaplain. Even from forty stories below Silas knew something was wrong. The Veteran Sergeant’s superhuman eyesight caught every, single detail: the Governor’s face growing increasingly paler, his hand losing its grip on the laurel, letting it glide to his feet; Maalik’s dark green irises contract keenly as his pupils sharpened dramatically, his teeth clenching forcefully as his lips formed a viscous snarl.
Silas’ knuckles went white as his body caught up with his brain.
“No!” he cried an instant before Maalik raised his weapon. Swinging the barbed Morningstar down from over his right shoulder, the Chaplain mercilessly smashed the frail man to the ground with incredible force. The crushing death blow was drowned in a sea of applause, the more distant citizens too far away to see the treacherous strike.
Startled, Alaric howled wrathfully, his lips twitching with sorrow.
“We’re been betrayed!” Bellum cried. Screams of woe and anger replaced those of jubilation as the Governor’s limp, disfigured body fell in shambles at Maalik’s foot. Not an instant later the crusaders atop the balcony raised their Bolters in response. Their sights passed right over the Chaplain, the marines bringing their weapons to bear on the Governor’s host of advisors and executives.
The Bolters cracked thunderously as the marines gunned down the officials in cold blood. The host of advisors cried in anguish as they were ripped limb from limb by the concentrated storm of bolts. Gore splattered the gothic architecture as the battered remains of one official went toppling off the side of the balcony, the others collapsing in deep pools of red.
Alaric fell to his knees, holding his face in his hands. Silas felt a surge of rancor as he brought his Bolter to bear on the traitors above.
Reacting simultaneously with Maalik’s retinue, the crusaders at the foot of the gardens turned their weapons on the crowd. Muzzle flashes sent shadows hurtling across the ground as hundreds of automatic weapons opened fire. Shrieks filled the air as the first rows of the throng were extinguished by a sweeping fusillade of large-caliber fire. The unbiased wave of remorseless gunfire tore through the mob of innocents and PDF military alike, slaying everything in its path. Their screams were drowned out by a thunderstorm of deafening fire.
Silas was forced to the ground by a hellish hail of gunfire as the traitors unleashed their entire armory upon the parade.
Alaric, Bellum and Golik quickly retreated backwards, hugging the white pillars lining the vestibule of the building. Bolter rounds zipped past the Command squad, the throng of civilians in its path lying dead and dismembered. Bellum swiveled his Heavy Bolter around the corner of a pillar, turning his gun on the attackers.
With a splitting roar the large-caliber machinegun recoiled rapidly, a steady stream of bolts erupting from its barrel. The return fire swathed through a half-dozen traitor marines at the base of the gardens, their bulky power armor rent open violently.
Three of the group toppled over, succumbing from the brutal suppressive fire but the others ducked behind the parked Rhino APCs, firing from their shelter.
“What is this treachery?!” Artemis boomed from behind his cover. Debris kicked up along the building’s walls forcing Bellum back behind his pillar.
Silas, hoisting his Bolter around the edge of his cover, pinpointed one of the attackers and delivered a single round into the traitor’s face. A viscous cloud of brain matter splattered all over the APC beside him as the marine toppled over backwards.
“How could this happen?” Alaric shouted, his voice quaking with rage. “They were my sons!”
Silas ducked back behind his cover as one of the Storm Bolter automated gun turrets atop the Rhinos targeted his position. The turret rattled as it pounded the marble pillars relentlessly, clouds of dust choking the killzone.
The streets were now covered with a sea of the dead, their blood pooling in the boulevard, rivers cascading down storm drains. As Silas peeked daringly around his cover he watched the balcony, seeing Maalik and his retinue casually enter the palace, shutting the balcony doors behind them.
Silas ducked back behind cover, his helmet buzzing as the vox radio hummed to life.
“Brother Wyverns, this is Sergeant Damon, reporting,” the vox crackled loudly. “All squads abandon the street immediately!”
There was a brief static pause as a missile soared overhead, smashing the ground to pieces at the feet of a fledging PDF unit. The soldiers were tossed to the ground like ragdolls, many of them viscerally dismembered.
“Negative Brother-Sergeant, this is Brother Liam reporting; we are pinned down,” the vox channel clicked as it switched again.
“Abandon your positions; the Harbinger is gaining altitude! She’s heading right for us!” Damon’s voice clamored.
Silas looked up as the winds slowly reversed, the bullet-ridden banners across the boulevard flipping to face downwind.
“Negative, the suppressive fire is too intense, we can not-“ the channel suddenly went silent as a missile struck the building across the street from the Command squad. A cloud of rubble gushed out from the structure’s entryway as the mangled body of a marine was thrown into the street.
Silas peered around his cover again, most of the previous suppressive fire now pinpointing another loyalist unit. To his surprise, Silas observed the crusaders falling back up the palace steps, leaving the Rhinos in a blockade formation at the bottom steps.
“They’re falling back!” Silas shouted, taking the opportunity to snap off a few bursts at the retreating figures.
Golic picked up the vox conversation where it had stopped.
“The Harbinger can’t accurately engage us at this altitude, her guns will slay too many of her own,” Golic grunted.
“Negative,” Artemis cut in. “The Imperial palace is a fortress, a relic of the Heresy; its walls are nigh impenetrable to anything short of a direct lance strike.”
“Here she comes!” the vox crackled. Silas took a look up at the sky as the channel went dead. Right on cue the massive belly of the Battle Barge crawled into view, its shadow blocking out the sun. The sheer gravity of its presence sent a tide of petals and debris scattering across the boulevard.
Alaric ran to the nearby doorway, kicking the heavy front doors down with a grunt. The walls begin to shake slightly as the shadow of the great Battle Barge encompassed the block.
“Stay low!” the Chapter Master growled, shuffling into the doorway. Artemis was quick to follow, ducking into the dimly-lit lobby after the Chapter Master. Silas shot one last desperate glance around the pillar before running inside, the ground vibrating fiercely.
The lobby interior was a white plaster with sets of pillars lining the walls identical to the ones outside the building’s vestibule. A small indoor fountain in the center of the marble floor trickled quietly in the background.
The roar of Heavy Bolter fire blocked out the booming engines above as Bellum tracked down a few stragglers with extreme prejudice. The heavy munitions belt at his side swayed and rattled wildly as he took a step forward, blazing away at some target halfway up the steps.
“Let’s go!” Golik shouted, tracers zipping past his head. The marine grunted as he threw himself from cover, rolling across the marble entryway into the lobby. Brilliant tracers were now streaming down from the palace gardens, the Bolter rounds boring deep holes across the front façade.
“Fall back, Bellum!” Alaric cried over the ominous thundering of engines. The boulevard went completely silent as the incoming fire ceased leaving the calls of the dying to prevail over the hum of the engines.
Their screams were quickly subdued. The street quaked as a massive explosion annihilated a building a few blocks away. The Harbinger’s hull-mounted Battle Cannons thundered above, the blasts rocking the boulevard. Molten debris and clouds of organic material showered the area with each blow to the earth.
The balcony above Bellum collapsed as a Battle Cannon ripped it from the supporting structure sending it cascading to the ground in a great pile of rubble. Bellum threw himself out of the path of the balcony as it toppled to the earth in pieces. Pausing briefly to look up at the Harbinger, Bellum ran for the doorway. As he neared the lobby vestibule a second blast sounded and Bellum was thrown to the ground as the pillars crashed around him, the ceiling partially giving way. The Veteran Devastator cried out as he lost his balance and was swallowed up in a cloud of debris.
Summarily making his decision, Artemis leapt from his refuge, diving through a shattered window to reach his fallen brother. The Apothecary rolled into the veil of wreckage, smaller debris still crumbling down from the battered ceiling. Silas lost sight of Artemis as a fiery explosion engulfed the lobby vestibule. The building groaned as its supports began to give way, the walls eroding away in waterfalls of white plaster. The lights flickered dimly in the background as Silas reoriented himself.
His sight severely hindered by the debris, Silas felt around on the floor for his Bolter which escaped his grip in the earlier barrage. He could hear the distinct coughs of Specialist Golik echoing off the walls from further within the lobby.
“Status report!” Alaric’s voice boomed.
“Fully-functioning,” Golik coughed from somewhere in the near vicinity.
“Fully-functioning,” Silas grunted as he probed the rubble for his lost weapon. His outstretched fingers jumped as they found the familiar grip on his Bolter.
There was a great shuffling of marble at the doorway, attracting Silas’ immediate attention. Artemis emerged from the rubble supporting Bellum with his right arm, the pair scurrying out of a gaping crater in the marble.
“Fully-functioning,” Artemis interjected through gritted teeth. Bellum’s response was lost in the boom of another firing Battle Cannon.
Silas could see their power armor sizzling as they ducked for cover. Another blast sounded and the Command squad was cast into darkness as the power died, the upper floors of the structure blown to oblivion.
The marines called amongst themselves in vain, the thunderous sounds of the barrage encompassing them completely. As the Apothecary and Devastator stumbled ungracefully into the lobby Silas caught a glimpse of Bellum’s condition. He walked with a grievous limp, his lower leg in shambles. Cuts and tears along his upper leg and torso flocked around a wide opening in his side. The wound was deep enough to reveal the beaten black carapace beneath, ruptured in many areas so to allow the thick red gore to pool out.
Artemis carefully propped Bellum’s broken form against the base of the wall, placing the Devastator’s hand over his bloody side instructing him to apply pressure to the area. The Apothecary’s gauntlet-mounted medical kit sprung open as Artemis searched its contents desperately.
Bellum’s respirator wheezed steadily, his body lay limply against the supporting wall. Unconscious and broken, Bellum’s head drooped onto his chest. Thick, dark gore spilled over the cracks between Bellum’s fingers dribbling down onto the floor. Silas looked on with a vehement feeling of helplessness; he could do nothing to quell his Brother’s suffering. Master Alaric approached the hunched form of the Devastator, taking a knee at his side. Movement through Silas’ peripheral vision signaled Golik’s presence; he, too made no further approach, pausing with Silas to watch. The Chapter Master placed a hand on either side of Bellum’s head and slowly removed his battered helmet.
The Devastator’s face was as weathered as his helm, blood a near-dominant facial feature. Bellum’s busted nose dribbled a stream of blood matched only by his mouth.
Artemis’ frantic shuffling stopped abruptly as he looked to the Chapter Master.
“The regenerative aid has been destroyed,” the Apothecary said calmly. “The black carapace has sustained a massive amount of damage and his Larrman cells cannot cope with the blood loss.” Alaric’s unspoken response signaled his acknowledgement. The Chapter Master placed a hand on Bellum’s scalp, closing his eyes as he brought his other fist to his breast.
“May He welcome you in divine embrace, Brother,” Alaric whispered, removing his hand from the Devastator’s head. Golik whispered something in eulogy but it was lost in the noise of the nearby bombardment.
The Apothecary’s reductor activated with a loud click, ready to harvest Bellum’s geneseed. Artemis shook his head solemnly as he raised the reductor to Bellum’s exposed neck. Silas lowered his head. Familiar as he was with the process of euthanasia he always refused to witness the act in fear that the dying may set their eyes upon his own in the process.
“Farewell,” the Apothecary’s voice chimed followed by a brief mechanical shriek. Silas looked up as Alaric got heavily to his feet.
“The deed is done, he has received the Emperor’s Peace,” Artemis said, kneeling over the Devastator’s lifeless body. The reductor clicked loudly again as it retracted back into place.
“Wait,” Golik interrupted. “The bombardment has ceased.” The members of the Command squad looked up through the shattered front windows, searching for massive the shadow of the Harbinger.
“Get down!” Alaric shouted, lowering himself to the floor. “The Harbinger silences her Battle Cannons for one reason alone.”
Silas and Golik both crawled behind separate sets of crumbling support pillars, getting as low to the ground as possible. Artemis closed Bellum’s eyelids hurriedly and crouched down behind the rim of the lobby indoor fountain.
The temporary silence proved ephemeral; the skies above thundered violently, the distinct sound of the Bombardment Cannon splitting the quiet. The air whistled just before the first salvo of heavy magma bombs impacted the earth.
A deafening explosion boiled the skies, tossing Silas to the floor as the support pillars collapsed behind him. The very ground quaked as if to swallow him up and the ceiling trembled as the street was vaporized. The blistering wind that followed smoldered the lobby interior as the salvo reached a vicious crescendo.
Someone cried out as the ceiling buckled, dozens of stories of marble and plastcrete toppling on top of the Command squad. Silas desperately flung his arms over his face as he was buried beneath a monstrous pile of rubble. He was cast into darkness as a massive chunk of debris crashed down on his head.

The Inquisitor leaned slowly over the table as he wiped the lingering beads of sweat from his brow. Opposite him, the Space Marine prisoner sat bound in his chair. Silas’ facial expression was blank, his downcast gaze had settled on his feet and there he remained, motionless.
“Lost your tongue, have we?” Hood said, defying the marine’s silence. The Inquisitor took his seat again, setting the emptied syringe back in the depths of a coat pocket. Silas did not lift his hollow gaze from the floor. A look of growing frustration split Hood’s thin-lipped grin.
“I fail to see how you Space Marines persist; your ignorance is defeated only by your blind zeal,” Hood said, thumbing his chin. “You are of a dying breed, Astartes. The golden years of the Imperium are at an end. Terra will extend her influence no further; the borders of her empire are far too vast to defend. There exists a corruption deep inside the heart of the Imperium,” the Inquisitor mused, almost enthusiastically. “The enemy within has grown far more dangerous than those that surround us. Your future is bleak, Astartes. Your kind can no longer be trusted to protect the God-Emperor.”
A trail of saliva inched its way down Silas’ chin. The marine’s unblinking eyes rolled slowly into the back of his head; the Veritas Serum was gradually gaining control.
“The dark deities will outlive the Emperor of Mankind. When Terra falls, it will be by the hand of Chaos, not by any foreign menace. Look inside, Astartes; the taint resides in us all,” Hood tapped his breast. “As servants of the Emperor, our duty exposes us to this undying infection each and every day. Not even your divine ardor to Him will shield you forever; the events on Sistine stand as a testament to this deep-seated weakness. Only when the corruption within is cleansed will Terra be truly safe.”
Hood straightened his posture; he had caught himself leaning back in his chair during his musings. Silas’ white-eyed stare told the Inquisitor exactly what he needed to know. The Veritas Serum had poisoned his mind. It was time for answers.
“Now,” Hood grinned maliciously. “Where is the artifact?”
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Old 25 Aug 2007, 18:03   #5 (permalink)
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Old 31 Aug 2007, 12:11   #6 (permalink)
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My biggest problem with this story was that it is not complete. I think parts of story were allowed, but it removes the need to write the story within the limits(so why were the limits set in the first place?). The fact that there is no clear "whole" in the posted part further adds to the effect. Otherwise the story is good, if a bit heavy to read. (must be the length also)
Otherwise it is pretty good, with smooth events.
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Old 02 Sep 2007, 02:55   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks; it's still an obvious work in progress. The book is nearing 3/5 completion at this point (for part I, that is) so any comments and criticism at all would be very well-received.
Just a quick question though: why did the realism factor in my piece receive a mediocre score?
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Old 04 Sep 2007, 23:31   #8 (permalink)
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The quality of the writing is quite high, only requiring some fine-tooth editing. I found the second chapter especially compelling.

I felt that the introduction of the first chapter was too sudden. The reader is suddenly thrown in the middle of a dialogue, trying to discern who's who and what they're talking about without any setup - some descriptive writing to pad the dialogue would have helped, I think. After that, though, the reader is rewarded with some great intrigue.

As LordDemon mentioned, the nature of the piece engenders more reservations about reading it: it's incomplete as well as being lengthy. That doesn't reflect on you as an author, just that the work could have been presented a little differently.

While I can't speak for the scoring, I imagine the plausibility suffers in the power the Inquisition has over the marines. Marines are more than capable of muscling them out, and I think it would have taken a few more guys to overpower Silas. Marines are frigging huge.
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Old 05 Sep 2007, 00:28   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by derfderf

I felt that the introduction of the first chapter was too sudden. The reader is suddenly thrown in the middle of a dialogue, trying to discern who's who and what they're talking about without any setup - some descriptive writing to pad the dialogue would have helped, I think.
Too true. I'll consider changing it up a bit for the next draft. Thanks!
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