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The Asklepios Betrayal
Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:38   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Asklepios Betrayal

The Great heresy was over, the Emperor crippled and Horus slain. The chaos legions had retreated into the eye of terror yet many systems still owed their allegiance to the Dark Gods; Asklepios, Asgara and Alfheim were three such systems.

The great scouring was called to retake these worlds, a war in which brother fought brother and father fought son; yet in such times as those, heroes are born and legends fall.

Such a man was one Constantine Glücksborg; an ex-merchant and commander of the Ceres CXIVth heavy infantry. He was a man of considerable means and these were put to use in this war, keeping his regiment well supplied and supported by a small fleet of ships led by the newly built grand cruiser Sanctus Imperator and it was during the reclamation of Asklepios II that Glücksborg’s name would be made.

* * *

“Navigator prepare for warp jump! T minus one twenty seconds!” roared Constantine, continental governor of Novus Juterrus and master of eight-thousand.

“General, the warp is in a tempest at our destination. I have seen the void like this but once before, at the drop site on Istvaan V.” the navigator’s voice chimed in. At the name of the massacre, Constantine made the sign of the Aquila and muttered a quick prayer.

“Our orders stand navigator. We make warp in T minus one o five seconds!” barked Constantine, “You got us to Istvaan V, you can get us to Asklepios!”

Constantine was familiar with the analogy of the warp being a fast-flowing, rocky stream and a vessel, a body. He was also aware that a warp storm was more akin to rapids than a stream. He did however, think that navigators had a tendancy to over-prescribe the phenomenon; in his experience a tempest normally manifested itself in his arriving some time between a month and a year either side of the intended arrival time.

Istvaan V brought back all the memories of the past few years. How the system had only just been retaken, the stench of death, the bodies of the seemingly godlike astartes their bodies only now, so long after their deaths being given the funeral they should expect.

Constantine was startled out of his reverie by a rating whispering “one minute sir.” in his ear.

“T minus one minute.” shouted Constantine in his booming voice so loud it was said he could be heard half a kilometre away.

At that, an army of priests appeared and started to apply holy oils to the consoles to ward off the denizens of the warp and make sure the crew was spiritually ready for the jump.

A deep roar started in the bowels of the ship, a noise signifying how little time remained before they made warp. At this moment, Constantine knew, the navigator was entering a trance so he could guide the vessel and her crew safely through the Empyrean.

“T minus ten seconds!” roared Constantine, his voice now drowned out by the hum of the warp drives. The bridge was a hive of activity as the priests left and the crew buckled themselves to their seats, a relatively new measure to prevent crew, maddened by the warp, from killing their crewmates.

Everyone experiences a warp jump differently. Some as a great yearning for home, others as though they are five times their weight, while syill others experience nothing at all. Constantine experienced it as a blood red flash, a roaring beast, the feeling of being burnt alive, a metallic taste accompanied by the stench of gore and a feeling of having his stomach left behind and then, as soon as it started, it was over again.

* * *

As Asklepios II’s third moon moved along its own orbit, it revealed an area of space which was, even from the planet, visibly ripped apart as the flotilla arrived: the Sanctus Imperator, the Regalis and the Laurifer Ensis to name but a few, and the last ship to arrive, the Starcrest. The formation had dispersed a little but the ships all arrived within a reasonable distance and within a day of each other and were still clearly meant to be in an arrowhead formation.

“Navigator!” yelled Constatine, “When are we?” there was no response. Constantine repeated the question but there was still no response.

“You! Mr Kryptman?” said Constantine in a gentler tone to a gopher who happened to be passing.

“Yes Cap’n Glücksborg sir?” the gopher replied quickly.

“Find out why the hell the navigator, Dechoff, isn’t responding. And when you find him, find out when we are!” ordered Constantine as the boy ran off to convey his message to Dechoff.

“Mr Hursen! Get me a comm-link to the other captains as fast as you can!” roared the governor over the howl of the warp drives cooling down.

“Comm-link established Cap’n. We have conformation from all of the other captains.” reported the comms officer after a long pause caused, at least partially, Constantine knew, by the vast distance of space between the ships.

“Safe journey?” checked Constantine in a confident clear voice as he paced up and down the obsidian dais on which the Sanctus Imperator’s command throne sat. All the other captains responded in the affirmative. “Do any of you know when we are?” continued Constantine. Every captain except Captain Marco of the Starcrest responded with a fast certain “No”.

“Our navigator’s dead. He died soon after we got to him. He said this though: that we had been brushed by a monster and only his death had saved the ship from being swallowed.” replied Captain Marco.

At that moment Constantine heard the gopher tell him that his navigator was dead and very quickly the other captains also told him this disturbing fact. All the navigators were dead.

A wave of panic swept over Constantine before his knowledge of the urgency of this mission drained his mind of panic.

“Mr Ibrams! Sensors, calculate when we are and scan for life on the planet!” bellowed Constantine as the bridge once more sprang into action. “Hard a port Mr Moody! We’re going to land. Make ready the landing craft. Mr Hursen! Relay my orders to the other captains.”

* * *

As the shuttles landed and the regiment disembarked, they were greeted by an eerie silence. A stark contrast to the extraordinarily high noise levels onboard the Sanctus Imperator.

“I don’t like this place,” said Constantine pensively, “its perfect for an ambush.”
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:39   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Entry G - Untitled

Suddenly from out of the forest came a feral roar as the woods came alive in a sea of green. The orks had covered themselves in leaves and they charged with their flint weapons raised.

Because the soldiers were caught unawares the first few ranks were slaughtered by the wildboyz before they were driven back into the forest by volley after volley of controlled lasfire.

Then, behind them, another mob of orks appeared. These ones were better equipped and most had firearms. These orks charged the left flank before they too were killed by the soldiers.

This was very suprising, thought Constantine: orks lying in wait and ambushing an Imperial army – even if the ambush was very basic, ill though out and doomed to failure.

Walking across the battlefield it could be seen that just under 100 Imperials lay dead, while more than 500 ork bodies littered the field.

One ork caught Constantine’s eye, standing just over [X] metres tall in life, this ork would have been a nob. The ork was one of those with a ranged weapon, a pistol which Constantine knew the orks would call a slugga.

Constantine picked up the weapon, aimed it at the ork’s head and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Constantine threw the weapon away, full of contempt for xenos technology - but not before noticing the ork’s bosspole on which the symbol of two crossed, bloodied axes was painted.

It seemed that the orks had already done the CXIVth regiment’s work for them by slaughtering the rebels. Now they had only to defeat the orks.

* * *

“‘When setting camp, layeth thou first a pavement of obsidian blessed by the priests of the Emperor, blessed to trap the demonic and to halt the chaotic. Then maketh thee nine towers and buildeth them that they align as three over-laid triangles. Then seteth thee thine camp within this defence and keepeth a watch at guard for all the day and all the night.’ So do our orders state and so shall it be on this world. Follow their instructions to the letter.” said Constantine to his aide in charge of making the camp, “You are dismissed.”

As the aide left, Constantine turned around to see a tall, bowing, figure, his face obscured by a hood. Even as Constantine first registered the figure it had lifted its head, its eyes still closed. Its eyes opened and fire seemed to leap from them to Constantine’s and he heard a voice in his mind, both as terrible and glorious as the night, as fire and ice and as majestic as the dawn of time and Constantine understood the voice even though it was speaking in an unknown tongue.

“Hush, little one for I mean you no harm. My name is Idainn Ifaras and I know yours already though it is a poor name for one with such power.” said the voice calmly and soothingly. “My people are ancient beyond your understanding as is the evil you came here to fight. Yet instead you find these orkead. We need your help, we need to defeat the orks, as do you.”

“Why should I side with you? What proof do I have of your honesty and why should I agree with a man who comes asking for much but offering little?” questioned Constantine aloud.

“You ask why you shall accept? Because together our peoples could grow great, and if you do not accept,” said the voice suddenly becoming angered and burning Constantine’s mind as ice sears flesh, “you shall be broken into dust and cast out unto the void, where you shall remain for all eternity; dead but yet not dead, and then you shall know of my people’s pain.” and then the voice became calm and paternal once more. “You know so little of this world or the others and your lives are short. Make the right choice and you may yet attain greatness, but make the wrong choice, and it will remain beyond your grasp. Make your choice now.”

Constantine turned to think this offer over and after much time had passed he turned to face the figure and said, “We will stand by you and kill these orks. It would have been a hard fight without a stalwart ally at our side, but now we have one and there is yet hope.”

“Then together we shall stand and fight the orkead.” concluded the figure who closed his eyes, bowed his head and stepped back into the shadows from where he seemed to disappear from right in front of Constantine’s eyes.

* * *

As the first ray of moonlight shone upon Kerunbahn and Lileath and Eldanesh aligned in the sky of Eldanaar, farseer Ifaras appeared from beneath the wraithbone arch.

“High seer-councillors, the deed is done, the pact evoked. Not all that passed my lips was truth, but no words I spoke were untruthful. The maiden world of She-Who-Sleeps-in-Starlight shall be free once more!” said Ifaras to the council.

“Then the craftworld must ready itself for war, the guardians shall be mustered and the aspect warriors summoned. The farseers shall cast many runes to direct our assault and the autarchs shall plan out mighty strategies, for this day Kian-Dalthash goes to war with the orkead and the mon-keigh!” declared farseer Mearyirraith.

And so the armies of Kian-Dalthash were called. The potter abandoned his wheel as the artist his easel to don the wraithbone armour and take up the shuriken catapult. And the autarchs planned their mighty strategies and the farseers cast many runes upon the earth, for the craftworld was at war.

* * *

Around the black table there were many people: General Daius, saviour of Justarian; Captain Olaf Ork-Slayer who had single headedly defended a world against an entire Waaagh until help could arrive; Marshall Heinrich, a man born to follow not lead and Colonel Carius mayor of New Hamburg, Brigadier Honorius the venerable, Master-Psyker Kryvaan who, it was said, could bind an entire platoon to his will; High Priest Decian who had fought alongside the Emperor himself and lastly Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief Constantine Glücksborg. The meeting had been called to interpret Constantine’s orders as best they could in light of these new circumstances.

Marshall Heinrich stood up, “We cannot attack these orks: to do so would contravene our orders which are to purge the planet of the traitors and then to wait for further orders. The world has been purged so we must now await further orders.” Heinrich argued.

“Marshall Heinrich, if we were to wait as you propose what would be left of our army? Nothing. Your wits are dull and you fight an enemy you do not know. I have fought these orks and I know that if we sit here they will come and come and we will be ground into dust. What I propose is we find the orks’ headquarters and destroy it at once, then the orks will break and we will catch them and kill them.” responded Captain Olaf who proudly displayed his face even though it had been grievously wounded in an assault by an ork waaagh.

“How long shall we sit here when many foul xeno lie outside our very walls? Let us sally forth as did the emperor in the great crusade and let us to be victorious and let us slaughter these orks that they may never overthrow this world again. I pray, my friends, that you take this course of action for if you do, the blessings of the emperor shall go with you and speed you on your way.” Preached Decian in a state of divine inspiration before he grew calm once more and sat back down in his seat.

“Kryvaan, you are the only psyker and the greatest repository of knowledge seated around this table. What is your view?” asked Glücksborg.

“What Olaf says is correct: if we stay, we are doomed. However, Heinrich is also right: attacking does break our orders and will almost certainly lead to failure. The orks on this world are nigh numberless, I hear them, scratching at the warp. Without the aid of another army at least half as large as our own we cannot hope to purge this world of the orks.” said Kryvaan, his head deep in thought as he tapped his fingers rhythmically on the arm of his chair.

Constantine stood up as if to address the gathering but then as he took his breath to start to speak, Kryvaan’s head flew back and a viscous liquid the colour of gold poured from his mouth and nostrils as he spoke. Though his lips did not move, his voice could be heard by all in the room.

“I feel something new. A mind so great and powerful that not even the alpha-psykers could match his greatness. His power is as great as the void and his wrath as terrible as fire. Yet he says peace to us. Why would so great a being do so to us, we who are to him as a maggot is to us? Yet peace he says still and it cannot be denied, what he offers is glorious indeed; he will deliver us from the orks and help us drive them from this world yet still, he shall not hurt us. He says together we might grow great and strong.” Then, not long after the voice stopped, Kryvaan’s head snapped back as he took a deep breath and with that, the liquid was gone as was all trace that it had ever been there.

“Well, it seems that we may get that extra force that Kryvaan thinks that we need. Kryvaan, make the other psykers locate the orks’ capital, then see a medic. Heinrich, you will be left to guard the camp and will be in command of two whole platoons, use them well. Olaf, whilst you are not the most senior here in rank or years you will be second in command of the assault force. I will be your sole superior for this campaign and after this, you shall be promoted. Caius, you and Honorius are in the direct control of Olaf Until I declare the campaign over, his word is law, he will organize you as he wishes. Daius, you will lead my bodyguard during the battle and you, Decian will accompany me into battle.” ordered Constantine as he turned to leave his bodyguard following him.

* * *

Having located the ork headquarters, the army marched. The host of eight-thousand left its camp in an ordered line and turned to the south-east. Having already lost men to an ork ambush, the Imperial army was deployed in a circle around Constantine and his bodyguard who were arranged around their charge.

Constantine’s bodyguard composed of six of Ceres’s finest: Elixus, a grenadier and veteran of many battles; Alexia, a young comms expert who had been known to send a clear message when others could not even get a signal; Isesius, a savage who had been found in the dead wastes of the north; Titius, a talented psyker who was second to few; Decian the high priest and General Daius who had led a great many famous victories in seemingly hopeless situations.

“Alexia! Tell the Sanctus Imperator to ready their guns at the coordinates of the ork HQ, tell them to fire on my order. If we can’t take them down from the ground then we will destroy this entire world with us.” said Constantine.

* * *

When, at length the force arrived, they were greeted by the sight of a whole host of orks set to drive the ‘umies from their world.

Constantine ordered his men to take a defensive position at the top of a nearby hill and strode boldly to the front line. With a mighty cry the ork host charged at Constantine, despite their advance being slowed by the lasfire.

After two hours, the orks had halved the distance between themselves and the Imperials and within an hour of that moment Constantine was loading his weapon and Decian starting his huge double-bladed chainsword.

After only half an hour, one hundred Imperials had fallen yet the orks kept coming. Constantine raised his plasma pistol. Took aim and fired. An ork fell. He calmly brought his gun back and reloaded, aimed and fired. Another ork fell. However, after only three more orks had fallen, the rest were upon the Imperials.

“Give the order to fire the guns!” Constantine shouted across the melée to Alexia as he cut down an ork nob with his power sword.

It was at this moment that out of nowhere, a mighty host of black suited soldiers appeared: They braced their guns against their hips and as they fired, so the orks fell. Constantine hacked another ork down and the guardians of Kian-Dalthash killed ten more.

After five hours of fighting, orks stated to break and flee only to be caught and slaughtered by the guardians and as the last ork fell, the guardians turned their guns and opened fire. As the last ork body hit the ground twenty Imperials fell, never to get up.

Then a dull droning could be heard and in the sky dots appeared. The Sanctus Imperator had opened fire and even if the Eldar did kill the Imperials this day, they would deny them this world.

Constantine ordered a general retreat in a gambit to force the Eldar into the area being bombarded and, to his great surprise, it worked. The eldar followed, cutting down many Imperials as they did so.

Then the shells exploded. Eldar flew in graceful arcs, the ground shook and half the survivors of that day were made deaf due to the noise but, when the smoke and noise finally subsided, the Eldar had all fallen.

* * *

Walking across the battlefield afterwards, Constantine’s eye was caught by one Eldar whose helmet was adorned with crystals and vanes. In his hand lay a handle half a metre long with a curved blade at least as long. All along the blade were crystals and veins of silver and diamond.

Constantine picked it up. Recognizing that an organic lifeform now held it, its power field activated and the blade was surrounded in a haze of silver fire. Constantine swung it at the Eldar’s neck which came clean off, the blade effortlessly slicing through, armour, bone and marrow.

Constantine stowed the weapon in the sheath of his snapped power sword and went away, impressed by the Eldar’s technology.

* * *

Many years later, at the close of the great scouring, Constantine was called before the new high lords of terra who bestowed upon him the new rank of Rogue Trader for his heroism at Asklepios II, to be given, to use and to pass on, which allowed him to trade with foreign ports and to explore, that set him above all law outside the new-founded Imperium.

The Glücksborg dynasty was born.
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Old 18 Aug 2007, 06:58   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Entry G - Untitled

I've gone to post a short critique of this entry twice now and I've come up blank. I can basically sum it up as, "A familiar story with familiar twists".

+Warp jump conflicts with time (when is it?); original in Scifi IMHO
+Description of Eldar Power Weapon

-Writing 'skips' over battlefield events leaving the story without substance
-Elder exist for little reason as do the conquered rebel forces (we all know it's Orks vs. IG anyway)
-The story enrolls and ends just as the DOW Winter Assault campaign does (for the Forces of Order, that is)

It just doesn't stand out. The plot seems hurried.
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