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Brothers in Battle
Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:51   #1 (permalink)
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Default Brothers in Battle

Theo opened his eyes and squinted. There was a blinding bright light. He felt warm and tired, and couldn't feel his feet.
“I'm dying”
The though crossed his mind. And surprisingly it didn't scare him. He was one of emperors chosen warriors. He would have died serving the emperor, and now he was to join the God Emperor in afterlife.
A huge figure came into his view, surrounded by the bright light. Was this the Emperor come to guide him? Theo barely had strength to raise his shaking hand towards the figure.
“Blessed God Emperor, I'm coming to you.”, he managed to whisper.
The Emperor raised his hand, and with an open palm slapped Theo in the face few times.

Brian stood above Theo. He had thrown away Theo's helmet, and replaced it with a white scarf tied over Theo's head. He was standing in the scorching heat in a way that cast shadow over Theo's head. It was all he could do to get him in shade now. Theo had started to get delirious in the heat. He looked around. The wrecks were maybe half a mile away. They'd stop there, and rest. Maybe find some water. He took a deep breath of hot and dry air and gathered his strength, changed the position of the lasgun in his back and grasped the handles of a makeshift stretcher. Then, with a steady steps he started dragging Theo trough the scorching sand towards the wrecks.

He reached the Chimera, and fell to the side of the vehicle. There, in the shadow of the wreck where sand hadn't yet been exposed to sun it was nice and cool. He pressed his forehead on the sand, and felt it cool down his head. He wanted to stay there. Just laying in the shadow until sun moved enough to remove the small strip of coolness there was in the blistering heat. But he couldn't. Not yet. He forced himself to his knees. He brushed off the sand that was stuck to his sweaty forehead. With numb legs he stood up, and looked at the stretchers. Theo was laying there, sleeping or unconscious. It was hard to say which. His breathing was shallow. Theo's leg was swollen and colored between red and purple. Brian had been forced to cut the uniform from the leg and make a splint after Theo had broken it. Looked like it hadn't helped, the leg was still infected.
He helped Theo in a sitting position, leaning against the Chimera hull in the shade. He took the spare clothes and lasgun from stretcher, and placed the clothes carefully under Theo's leg to support it. Then he sat next to Theo. Absent-absentmindedly he took his canteen, and shook it upside down over his open mouth. It was empty, just like on last three times. Now it didn't even smell like water.
He let it fall, leaned back towards the hull, and closed his eyes. Time to rest.

He woke up suddenly. Time had passed. Sun had moved quite a lot. Theo was still barely in shade, while his legs were already in the sun. It was time to move to other side of the wreck. He tried to get up, and froze halfway. There was a new shadow, from behind the chimera Hull. Someone was standing there, and the shadow looked like it was armed. Brian slowly moved his fingers towards the lasgun, keeping his eyes in the shadow. It could be a Xeno monster, or a traitor working for them. Or it could be a imperial guardsman. He took the lasgun, set it to single shot and rose to a crouched position, keeping his head behind the cover. The newcomer didn't seem to be moving. Brian reached to the corner of the Chimera. Judging by the shadow, the newcomer was few meters away, behind the chimera. Brian rushed the corner, pointed lasgun toward the newcomer, and shouted “HALT! IN THE NAME of the immortal...” the words died on his lips. There was a piece of steel, provably some part of the chimera, stuck in the ground. On top it had a helmet, a lasgun and jacket had been hung on it to create the “body” and the gun of the shadow. And it hadn't been there when they got to the wreck. Brian didn't have much time to think, when a lasgun barrel was pushed against his back. “Drop the gun”, said the sound behind him quietly. Brian dropped his gun, and raised his hands half way.
“Now call your friend here. Tell him you found water.”
Brian hesitated
“Do it! Now!” the voice said with less patience.
“He is injured. He can't walk. I don't think he is even conscious right now.”
“Let's go see. Walk slowly. And no tricks.”
Brian turned slowly.
The newcomer had a thin face, half covered in helmet with dark plastic in front of his eyes. He also had long beard, a common sight among men who were short on water. He was wearing Imperial guard uniform, just like Theo and Brian. Only difference was that he was fielding a hellgun, with separate powerpack in the back. Brian relaxed and started to lower his hands.
“Keep them up! No tricks!” The man shook his hellgun.
“Come on, we are on the same side.” Brian tried, but kept his hands in the air.
“We'll see, I want to check your friend first. Now move.”
Brian walked slowly around the chimera. Theo was still sleeping, or unconscious.
“Wake him up.”
“Can't you see he is wounded? Why the damn show, it's not like he could o anything even if he was conscious.”
“Why are you dragging him with you.”
Brian was getting mad.
“Why am I dragging him? Because hes WOUNDED for emperors sake! I'm trying to get him back to our lines, so they can get him medical attention!”
“So, you are not just keeping him along to drink his blood?”
Brian darted around
“Drink his blood, are you insane??!?! Who on their right mind would want to drink someones blood?”
The newcomer lowered his hellgun, and relaxed a bit.
“That is the point exactly. No-one in their right mind would do that. However, this thrice damned desert has a tendency to make people run out of water. And when they run out of water, they get thirsty. And after few days they start getting insane ideas. Had to shoot few guys who figured that blood was liquid, and they were thirsty.”
Brian's jaw fell.
“wha...you...they... but... Did you shoot your own comrades?”
“Well, it was either they stab me and drink my blood, or I shoot them. And I just knew the poor bastards would have been damned if they had done it. So in a way I saved their souls.”
Brian slumped down. All this was too much for him. Decent people,imperial soldiers who were strong in their faith, driven insane in the heat by the thirst. His throat was feeling dry. The talking had been too much. The thirst came back.
“Do you...”
“...have any...”
Brian looked up. The newcomers face told everything. He let his head fall.
“Come on. Let's move your friend on the shade on the other side. Then you can sleep. I'll take the first watch.”
He stood up.
“No need. It's been quiet for a week. Haven't seen a single Xeno.”
“They are moving again. I saw few yesterday.”
Brian just nodded. They lifted unconscious Theo on the opposite side in the shade, and then sat there themselves. He closed his eyes, and fell asleep again.

Brian was awakened by a quick thud on the shoulder. His mouth tasted like something had died there, and felt like it had been filled with sand. It was almost nightfall, based on the shadows. At least the temperature was getting lower. He looked to his side, and saw his new friend pointing towards the sky. There was flyers, high above them, flying in formation.
“How do you know?” Brian asked while trying to squirt his eyes. He couldn't really see the planes, just the exhaust trails of jet engines in the sky.
“It's a formation of 6. Our side doesn't have enough planes left to fly them in such large formation. They might not even have 6 planes left.”
They watched the planes for a while, in silence.
“I'm Brian by the way. The quiet guy is Theo.”
“114th Cadian Regiment, third company, Second Platoon fourth mechanized infantry squad”
“23rd Elysian drop troop regiment, second storm trooper company first squad.”
They sat there quiet for a while, as sun set.
“So, what are you doing on Taros?”
“Hopefully not dying.”
The silence continued. Finally Rick rose.
“We better get going. We can't afford to lose night time. Wake up your friend.”
“We have to carry him.”
Rick looked surprised
“Carry him? He can't walk?”
“No. Look at his leg.”
“We should leave him behind.”
Brian crossed his hands on his chest in anger.
“We are going to take him with us.”
“Look kid, we are out of water, we are here alone, and the Xenos are moving again. We can't have dead weight.”
“We take him. You can go ahead alone if you wish, but I will not leave Theo.”
“Look, compassion and trust to your comrades is all fine and dandy, but look at it realistically. He is dead weight.”
Brian looked at Theo who lied there, unconscious and blissfully ignorant to their discussion.
“I'm not leaving him. And he would do the same to me.”
“Look, there is nothing...”
The scream disappeared in the darkness. Brian looked down.
“I won't leave him. You can go ahead, and leave us if you wish. But Theo comes with me.”
Rick sighed
“Fine. Take him along. It's safer to travel in group anyway now that the Xenos are moving again. But for the record, I think this is stupid, and will get us all killed.”
Brian checked the bearing on compass, then they lifted the stretchers and started marching towards their lines in silence. After sun had set, the desert was more comfortable. It would be freezing soon, but even that was better then the heat. The thirst reminded Brian once again of it's existence, but he pushed it back and concentrated on marching.

After few hours they started encountering more imperial wrecks. Trojans, chimeras, even an occasional Leman Russ. Some totally destroyed and burnt, others only damaged enough to stop them. They found some corpses, half eaten by whatever animals managed to live on the desert, and even some water tankers. All empty, their sides shredded full of holes by Tau fire in some ambush earlier, and the precious water either leaked to ground or vaporized by the scorching sun. It looked like the vehicles had been here for a while. At first they desperately looked in every vehicle, turned every body and checked every canteen, but to no avail. There was not a single drop of water. After a while they stopped checking. Other soldiers had gone through here, retreated towards the landing zone. Now they only marched forward, silently. Neither wished to waste energy by speaking, so the silent march under the stars, over dry sand continued for hours. Brian descended to a sort of a trance, where the rhythmic sound of boots landing on sand filled the world, and there was nothing else, until Rick stopped on his tracks. Brian snapped out of his trance. Rick lowered the stretchers, and Brian followed his example. When his hands were free, Rick took the Hellgun from his back, and crouched. Brian grabbed his gun, and moved next to Rick, looking forward in the darkness.
There was a chimera, with a tanker behind it. Both looked almost intact. There were corpses around. A dozen or so. They too looked like they hadn't been dead for long.
“That thing looks intact. And those corpses. They look new” Rick whispered with hoarse voice.
“Xenos?” Brian looked around. They were barely 50 meters from the vehicles. It was hard to see in the darkness. He couldn't see or hear anything moving.
“Could be. Let's go take a closer look.”
They approached the scene crouched with careful steps. There were corpses laying on the ground scattered. Brian looked around. Something was wrong here. The corpses. The chimera and tanker. Something was not right.
“Rick, I got a bad feeling about this”, he whispered. Rick only nodded. They kept the distance of ten or so meters, while moving around the chimera in the front. The other side was similar. Few corpses. All Imperial Guardsmen. But no damage to the Chimera or tanker.
“Rick, I ...” He was stopped, when Rick stopped on his tracks, and stood up. Brian looked into the darkness, but failed to see anything
“Is that... am I... Does it say...” Rick stuttered. He was quiet, as Brian looked at the tanker. On it's side, painted on big white paint, was the imperial eagle. Some numbers, and the word “WATER”.
And suddenly Brian realized what was wrong. There was no blast marks, No craters. No sand melted to glass by Tau pulse fire.

“We are saved!” Rick shouted as he ran towards the tanker. Brian was only a fraction too slow yo stop him. He started to run after Rick.
“Rick, wait, it's a trap!”
Rick was already at the rear of the tanker, his head tilted under a big tap on the tanker,ready to pull the handle. Brian jumped, tackled Rick and fell on the ground over him.
“Let me go, it's water!”
“Listen to me Rick, it is a trap!”
Something hit him in the head. The world was spinning for a moment, he felt himself falling. He tried to struggle to get up, and was greeted by another hit in the face. The world started to clear, and he could see Rick standing above him. Rick kicked him in the ribs. Brian was thrown around by the kick, and crawled in the ground for a while, before the pain eased enough for him to get up to crouched position.
It was Rick. He had raised his Hellgun, and was aiming Brian.
“Shut UP! You tried to kill me or what?”
“No, I was... I was trying to stop you.”
“You want all that water for your self eh? For yourself and your buddy over there. WELL I WAN'T MY WATER!”
Brian panted heavily.
“No, Rick. It is a trap.”
“You just want all the water for yourself.” Rick seemed hesitant. Less certain.
“No, Rick. It's a trap. Look around. Do you see any blast marks? Any craters?”
Rick took a few quick looks over his shoulder. The gun kept pointing Brian's chest.
“There are no blast marks Rick. No craters, no blast marks, no glassed sand. So how did all these men die?”
Rick looked hesitant.
“None of them have visible burns. None of them have wounds.” Brian continued.
“A knife...” Rick Started.
“... Is something the Xenos here don't use. They shoot, that's it. They don't have the stomach for close combat.”
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:51   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Brothers in Battle

Rick shuddered a bit.
“The water, Rick. I think it is poisoned. They put something in the water. Thirsty grunts walk past, take some, and die. It affects fast, and without marks.”
Rick was shaking.
“Look at the trailer. It is not even connected to Chimera. And they are going the wrong direction. We are supposed to regroup at the landing zone. The Chimera is headed to the Front. They probably airlifted both here from somewhere.”
“No... It can't be We found water....”
Brian shook his head.
“No Rick. They wanted us to think we found water. To think we were saved. They wanted us to drink that water, and die from it. To lie around dead, attracting others to drink it. The bastards wanted to murder us with false hope.”
Rick's chin was shaking. He turned around, and started firing madly at the tanker. Brian could barely hear him shout while he did it. The whole world slowed down. Rick was shouting something, he couldn't understand what. The hellgun spat laserbolts to the water tanker, burning small holes through it. In the flash of the lasers steam rose from the hits, and then water started flowing, falling as in slow motion to the ground. There was a small splash, as the water hit the sand. Rick emptied whole clip on the tanker, then proceeded to smash it with the hellgun, grasping the barrel and swinging the gun like a club. Brian just fell on his back. He barely felt the pain from his ribs. The Xenos had made a devious trap indeed. False hope. As if killing people was not enough.
Brian stared at the stars. This damn place was so far from home. So far. This thrice damned warp-take-it planet. Is sucked all the power. The heat, the lack of water. It drained a man. Just like the sand and desert drained the vehicles. There was lack of all supplies. Water, fuel, water, ammo, water, equipment, water. For a moment Brian was thinking what blood would taste like. Would it stop his thirst? World returned to normal speed with that thought. He felt nauseous by the sheer though. He rolled on his side. He felt like vomiting, but it was no use. He faintly realized he had barely eaten in the last few days. No water, poor food. Guardmans life didn't seem this bad in the recruitment adds back home. The banging sound stopped. Rick must have stopped beating the tanker. There was a quiet sobbing from the trailer.
“We are going to die here”, Brian thought. “We have a chimera, but I bet it has ran out of fuel. It is as drained as we are, we can't use it.” Suddenly he bolted up. Of course. Why hadn't he though of it before.
“Rick! Rick! I think...” he stopped.
Rick was sitting by the trailer, with his hellgun he had the barrel in his mouth. He looked like he was crying without tears. “Of course without tears. Tears are water, and we have ran out of it.” Brian though. He slowly walked towards Rick.
“Rick. Don't do it.”
Rick removed the barrel from his mouth.
“To hell with it. We are all gonna die here. Me, you, your buddy. We haven't died yet, but we have no water.”
The horizon was turning lighter. The sun was raising. Signaling a new day, filled with heat.
“See, the sun is almost up. I don't know about you, but I don't want to die a painful, slow death in the middle of some damn desert. All I have to do is pull the trigger, and it is over. No more thirst. Can you imagine? I've been on this planet so long I can't remember what it is like to NOT be thirsty.”
“Listen, Rick. Don't do anything hasty. I know how to get water!”
Rick started to laugh. It was the laugh of nervous, person. A person who had lost all hope. A laugh of someone, who was almost insane.”
“You can get water! Of course. Why, we just spent all might walking thirsty for fun. I bet you can just whip up water by a wave of your hand.”
The laughing stopped.
“There is no water. And I won't wait till sunrise.”
Rick put the barrel back to his mouth, and clicked the safety switch.
“10 minutes.”
Rick's hand stopped halfway to the trigger.
Brian realized he was holding his breath. He took a deep breath.
“10 minutes. I get you water. It is not the best, and it is not the cleanest, but it is water you can drink. And we have quite a lot of it.”
They stayed there, waiting. Finally Rick lowered the gun. He tossed it to the side.
“Hell, why not. Make the magic. I can shoot myself later.”
Brian relaxed.
“Ok, Take your canteen. And whatever you can take. We need pliers.”
“Are you going to squeeze water from rocks? I think I rather shoot myself.”
“No. The chimera looks undamaged. I guess it ran out of fuel so they dumped it.”
“The engine has water cooling.”
Ricks attitude had a clear, visible shift.
“Water cooled? As in drinkable water?”
“Yep. At least in these conditions. It might not be the purest. But it is drinkable.”
Rick rose, and followed Brian.
“How much water is there?”
Brian opened the engine hatch at the back of the tank.
“Enough to cool a large engine. Now get the canteen.”
Brian examined the engine. There was the pipes. He hit one pipe with pliers. The echo had a very “wet” sound. There was water.
“Put the canteen there.”
Rick obeyed. Brian used the pliers to loosen the pipe. Water started to flow. Then siphoned it into the canteen with rags. Just listening the water purling in the canteen made the thirst come back. Ricks hand started shaking. Brian could barely stand up. He listened the sound the water made. He didn't want to spill a single drop. When the canteen was full, he tightened the pipe. Few last drops fell into the canteen. Then it was quiet. Rick raised the canteen on his lips. Sound of water was the sweetest sound Brian had heard in long time. Rick drank a few big gulps, then forced himself to stop. He gave the canteen to Brian.
“Your. After all, you got it.”
Brian took the canteen, put it on his lips, and tilted his head back. The water was poor quality, having been in the cooling system too long. But there, on a desert planet, it was sweeter then the best wines. Brian finished the canteen. He felt refreshed by small amount of water. And they had whole cooling system full of it.

They moved Theo to the side of chimera, and drained water from the cooling system. Theo was still unconscious but Brian used a piece of clot to get as much water in Theo's mouth as he dared.
The cooling system had enough water to remove their thirst. They even managed to fill their canteens half full after drinking as much as they could. Then they took position in the shade, behind the chimera, and rested for the day. The sun was rising, marking another long and hot day. But now they had water. They would make it, Brian thought. They would make it out alive.

Brian was woken again at dusk by Rick. He stretched his back, and looked around.
“Your buddy was awake for a moment few hours ago.” Rick said.
“He was?” Brian looked at Theo. It looked like his rest was more peaceful now.
“He said he was tired, and that his leg hurt. I gave him water, and then he fell asleep again.”
Brian turned back to Rick.
“Did he say anything else?”
“Well, he asked who I was. I said I was a friend of yours. That seemed to be enough for him.
He seems to trust you.”
“Yeah, he's been like that since I can remember.”
They sat there, looking the last rays of day disappear in the night.
“Ok, hero. Time to go. The night won't wait forever.” Rick said as he rose.
They got up and started marching. The mood was better this time. They had water. Brian realized he was thinking home a lot while they marched alone in the desert. Would Taros be visible to Cadia? Or the system of Taros? Brian didn't know, he had no idea if they were right next door, or a galaxy apart. He hoped the system would not be visible. Last thing he needed was a reminder of the place.
They stopped few times to check if they could get more water from the cooling systems, but most vehicles that had been damaged had the engine hit. There was not much water to save from the systems. They took what they could though. It was mostly a quiet night. Both men determined to get to where they were going. There was some wrecks, as always. The war was starting to look grim. Too many imperial vehicles destroyed and abandoned. And not a single person in sight. Had they gotten lost? No, it was not possible Brian though. The imperial wrecks meant imperial troops had been here. As long as they saw wrecks, they would be on the right trail. Nothing but keep going.

It was close to dawn, when they came to an area with scattered debris, and wrecks.
“Looks like they had a big battle here. This is probably a good place to take shelter.” Rick said, as they approached.
“The Leman Russ will give us nice shade for the day. “
“Let's get Theo over there.”
They lowered Theo on the ground, putting him in the shade next to the tracks. The tank turret had been blown off, and was leaning against the hull over him, but it looked sturdy enough not to fall on Theo.
“How's the engine of the tank? Any water in cooling?” Rick asked.
“None. Whatever hit the tank, went in from the from, through the engine and out from the back. Cut the fuel line and melted armor around the hit. The wreck must have burned ages after it was hit.”
“Anything else?” Rick looked around.”How about that chimera?”
Brian took a look at the chimera in the distance.
“Hard to say. Might have water.”
“Shall we go to take a look before the temperature rises?”
They walked to the chimera. It turned out to work, only lacked fuel.
“You know, if we could find fuel ,we could drive this thing home.” Rick suggested.
“If we would drive this, we would probably attract a lot of attention with the dust it generates. We'd have a Xeno planes all over us in no time.”
They stared each others.
“I'll start draining water.” Brian said.
They drank as much as they could, and filled the canteens. There was still water left in the tank.
“Go get some other canteens.” Brian said.
“Why me?”
“Because I outrank you. I'm a sergeant in case you haven't noticed.” Brian said.
“Sure, Sir. Getting canteens right away sir!” Rick said overly sharp, with enough irony in his voice to make sure he wasn't too serious.
“Just get me something to put the water.”
Rick walked towards the closest corpse.
“This bugger doesn't have any.”
Brian tightened the pipe and started thinking about the war He didn't know much about the reasons of the war. Some heresy, fraternizing with aliens. Treason. He had been commanded to take part in holy crusade in Emperors name. In the beginning everything had gone well. Then the Xenos had started taking bigger toll on the imperial advance. And now they were regrouping at the landing area. Things were not good. His thoughts were interrupted by a high pitched whining, that grew stronger. Sounded like low flying plane. He covered by the doors of the chimera. The sun had just risen .The plane looked like it was coming closer. Like it was about to land. Rick was nowhere to be seen. Probably under cover of some debris. The whine grew closer. There were no planes in sight though. “Oh bloody warp damned hell!” Brian though.
There was a soft thud, about 15 meters to to side from the chimera. The whining sound was cut off.
Brian knew the Xenos had some sort of battlesuits. They were larger then man, but smaller then vehicles. They were equipped with jump engines, and a lot of weapons. They were very deadly.
Brian tried to see out from the chimera without putting his head out. The early morning heat had already started making the air stir. Brian reached out a bit more. The stirring air started playing tricks with him. He saw shapes in the air. Bit, bulky shapes. Brian quickly pulled his head inside. He had heard stories about the invisible Xenos. The shapes in the air had looked like... something.
Brian pushed his head back carefully. It was not a mirage. There was a hand, and a leg. Some sort of armor. It was the invisible Xenos. He could only see one. He didn't dare to put his head out any more, since he didn't know how many there were, and where they were. The one he saw was standing with it's back to him. He could make out some hand movements, shrug of shoulders, head movements. It looked like the Xeno was talking to someone. There was no sound. Brian leaned back inside and looked at his lasgun. It was a powerful weapon. It could kill a man. But those Xeno weapons; They could pierce a tank. He could hear steps. Soft steps. Closing the tank. There was no hiding place inside. He started to panic. Holding on to his lasgun like a a drowning man to anything that might float, he listened. The steps were closing to side of the Chimera. They stopped. Brian waited, holding his breath. After what felt like eternity, he slowly and quietly crept to the door again. He looked out, very slowly. The Xeno was visible. Brian could see it as well as anything. Dark, bulky armor, with one hand ending in a big multibarreled gun. The Xeno still looked like it was talking. Brian leaned a bit forward. There was another Xeno. He could see the arm, but didn't dare to look closer. He pulled his head back just a bit to prevent the aliens from seeing it. He was breathing lightly, trying to hear every sound while not making any himself. Sweat was running down his brow. If they found him there, he would be dead. He waited for what felt like hours. After a long and tedious wait, there was a whining sound. He dared to look out a bit. The Dust was swirling in the jet exhaust around the xeno. The Xeno looked like it was waiting for something. Then, there was a increase in the pitch, and the two xenos took off in the air, jumping high and moving away fast. Brian waited for them to disappear from the sight. He relaxed a bit. This close to death he had never yet been on this crusade. Brian could see Rick raising from the debris, looking around, and heading towards the Chimera with a canteen in hand. Brian was about to shout to him, when the whole world stopped. He could hear quiet whirring sound from the other side of the chimera hull.

The look on Rick's face changed. He saw something. What exactly it was Brian would never find out. He could clearly see the shots, coming from somewhere next to the chimera, heading to Rick who was standing in the middle of debris. The first shot hit little in front of Rick, plowing itself in the ground, melting sand into glass and raising a small dust cloud in front of Rick. Second hit just below right knee, cutting the leg clean off, throwing the severed limb back few feet from the force of impact. Rick began to fall forward, as the third shot pierced some scrap metal piece to his side, throwing small molten metal drops to ground, and creating a dust cloud somewhere in the back. Fourth and fifth shot hit Rick in the chest, on a way up, cutting him in half diagonally from waist to shoulder. Sixth shot hit the left hand, cutting it from the wrist. There was two more shots, which missed Rick, and flew harmlessly to the side, while his mangled remains fell to the ground.
The shooting stopped, and the whirring sound went silent. World returned to right speed. Brian realized he was biting his hand to stop himself from screaming. He could taste his blood. His eyes were starting to water, and he couldn't see anything straight. He closed them, but could only see Rick falling to ground over and over again, cut in half by Xeno fire. He tried to remain quiet. Had he screamed before starting to bite his hand? Had the Xeno heard him? He waited, holding his breath as long as he could, fearing the Xeno would hear him breathing. He couldn't hear a thing from outside. Then, after a while, he heard the whining sound, and after that it was quiet. Was the Xeno gone? Or was there another waiting for his move. He waited, sobbing quietly in the chimera, waiting for a sound, any sound from the outside.

Rick was falling, shot in half. There was someone just around the hull. And he KNEW they had heard him. They'd come for him next. Brian bolted up. It was Mid day. Almost time to move to other side of the Tank. It was two days since Rick had been killed. He and Theo had travelled on nights, and rested on days. They were now taking cover from a destroyed Trojan. Theo had been conscious few times, but mostly sleeping. They were low on water again. And the Xenos were everywhere He would see them daily, and sometimes even at night. Something was going on. But they were close. This night, and they would be at landing zone. Then he couldget Theo some medical help, and get reassigned himself. They most likely wouldn't see one another during this campaign again, but it wouldn't matter. The war was almost over anyway. They had lost.
There was no imperial troops here, and he was only a day's journey from the landing zone. They were pushed really tight.
“You are awake.”
Sound surprised him. It was Theo. He was sweating. His leg looked even worse. And He seemed to have trouble breathing.
“Yeah. I'm awake. How are you doing?”
“It's about time. I'm thirsty, and you put the canteen outside my reach.”
Brian rose, took the canteen and put it on Theo's lips. Theo coughed a bit, but managed to drink.
“Thanks. You missed all the action.”
“What action?”
“There was one of those huge Xenos ships, flying over here. They headed to the landing zone.”
Brian looked puzzled.
“What happened then.”
“Well, in day light you can see there is shuttles going up and down all the time. I guess we are finally getting reinforcement. They stopped some time ago though. I guess the Xenos tried to stop it. They have a tough place attacking landing zone.”
Cold chill went down Brians Spine.
“Yeah, that would be bad for them. Have you seen the Xenos coming back?”
“No, they are still there. Most likely dead.” Theo tried to smile.
Brian rose and took few steps forward. Looking towards the landing zone.
Theo coughed.
“Listen, I never thanked you for dragging me along. You would have been lot faster if you had left me behind.”
“You know I'd never do that.” Brian said distantly. Something in the horizon had caught his eye.
“I know. Just wanted to say thanks for all you did for me.”
It was a Imperial vessel. A thunderhawk.
“Well, First time to see one of those.” he said.
Theo looked at the horizon.
“Is that the Astartes?”
“Looks like it.”
“The Xeno sure are in trouble now.”
The thunderhawk lifted from the ground, and headed almost straight up. It was harassed by three Xeno fighters on the way.
“Yeah. They are in trouble now.” Brian muttered.
The thunderhawk and fighters disappeared in the vast sky.
“Brian, we are going to be Ok, aren't we?” There was a bit of fear in Theo's voice.
Thunderhawk was gone. The Xeno fighters were descending from the sky.
“Of course we are. Trust me.”
One of the fighters swooped off the formation. It was heading straight to them. Brian turned to look Theo. There was a barely visible dot on Theo's leg. Theo didn't seem to notice it.
“You know, mom will be very mad at you if you lie to me.” Theo said. He started coughing.
Brian turned and looked down. He had a small dot on his chest too. He sighed heavily.
“I will not lie to you Theo. We will be with out own soon. And all will be better.”
The Xeno fighter was closing fast. It looked like it was on attack vector. The turret guns on wings were pointed straight ahead. Brians eyes were full of tears.
“We'll be ok Theo. Now close your eyes and get some sleep.”
“Thanks. You are always taking care of me.”
Brian wiped his eyes.
“No problem Theo.”
The whining of the jet engines was getting louder. The plane was close.
And the world stopped.
42 is offline  
Old 16 Aug 2007, 02:57   #3 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 937
Default Re: Brothers in Battle

Great read although the piece could easily have been adapted into a non-40k short story with a few changes.

+Piece shows sympathy and emotion in a place of darkness and inhumanity
+The aftermath of attrition mood of the story bodes well
+Excellent descriptions of the Stealth Suits; their presence is a joy to read
+Survivor stories from the viewpoint of the "prey" are always more interesting then from the "predator"
+Well-introduced and well-ended

-Poor character names (with the exception of Theo) that do not suit 40k
-The story events were very predictable, too foreseeable IMHO
-A host of grammatical errors, almost all of them minor

Great short story!
Frogger is offline  
Old 18 Aug 2007, 00:05   #4 (permalink)
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Posts: 2,193
Default Re: Brothers in Battle

Not much more can be said so I'll just echo Frogger. A real pleasure to read.
shaso_montyr is offline  
Old 30 Aug 2007, 07:40   #5 (permalink)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Finland
Posts: 2,510
Default Re: Brothers in Battle

Well, since the competition is over:

This is my story, in case you didn't guess.

I got into a bit of a rush, my own fault.

In any case, I would like to ask few questions:

1) Actually, what puzzles me most is the statement by Frogger that the story is predictable. I was trying to make it unpredictable when ever I could, but seem to have failed. Any special info and examples of what was predictable and why would be appreciated to avoid it in the future.

2) Names. I Know. Names are my Achilles' heel. I needed names that are normal enough to be used by IG troopers in 40k, and Theo needed to sound halfway normal, half way gothic to make (hopefully) the people reading the first paragraph think he was a space marine. (did this work on anyone?)

3) Of course the setting of the story is heavily pictures in IA3: Taros campaign, so I did not directly repeat it from there. Was this a bad solution? Did people who did not have the book feel "left out", not knowing what was going on?

4) I was tryin to get the mood across to reader. Did anyone get thirsty reading the first half? I think the thirst part worked better then the despair in the end?

Any other comment, feel free to point out more bad stuff if you have any, I'd liketo see what is wrong.
LordDemon is offline  
Old 31 Aug 2007, 01:27   #6 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 152
Default Re: Brothers in Battle

1) I didn't think it was overly predictable, but some things, like Rick's 'fake soldier' trick and the Stealth Suits sneaking around later, you could kind of see coming. But by the later half of the story, the emotional element sets in so much that it doesn't really matter if the events become 'predictable', because the focus is shifted away from the plot and towards the characters.

2) The names do sound casual, but given the twist at the end (I think it was a twist, unless I missed something), surnames wouldn't have worked, and those are much easier to match up with Imperial naming. If you have to, change the spelling of a common name, but keep the pronounciation the same, e.g. Ryke, Bryan.

3) I didn't think I was missing out on anything, unless there was some aspect of the world/system that was already assumed.

4) I think the 'thirst' element was well emphasized, but there could have been a bit more pain. When you're parched, your throat hurts, you cough, you get a little delirious from sunstroke. Maybe a bit more physical description there?

BTW, my favourite moment was when Brian was hiding from the Stealth suit just when Rick was killed. He's biting his fist til it bleeds, tears are coming out of his eyes - there's a lot of liquid imagery there, but he's not too thirsty anymore, eh?

I would personally like to see you keep working on this, because although it's really good already, I want to see it at its best
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derfderf is offline  
Old 31 Aug 2007, 01:39   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 9,807
Default Re: Brothers in Battle

-Poor character names (with the exception of Theo) that do not suit 40k
2) Names. I Know. Names are my Achilles' heel. I needed names that are normal enough to be used by IG troopers in 40k, and Theo needed to sound halfway normal, half way gothic to make (hopefully) the people reading the first paragraph think he was a space marine. (did this work on anyone?)
I have to say that the names didn't bug me in the least. Frogger, perhaps you don't realize that the Imperium is so vast and composed of such a myriad of cultures that saying a name doesn't "suit" 40k is like saying that the name Mohammad doesn't "suit" modern Earth just because you won't find someone called Mohammad in Texas.

As for storyline - I didn't find it predictable, either. Perhaps the very ending, but when there's a hostile aircraft locked onto two armed soldiers, what the hell else is supposed to happen next ???:P?!
AuinMyrrath is offline  
Old 31 Aug 2007, 08:13   #8 (permalink)
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Posts: 2,510
Default Re: Brothers in Battle

Thanks for the comments:

Originally Posted by derfderf
1) I didn't think it was overly predictable, but some things, like Rick's 'fake soldier' trick and the Stealth Suits sneaking around later, you could kind of see coming. But by the later half of the story, the emotional element sets in so much that it doesn't really matter if the events become 'predictable', because the focus is shifted away from the plot and towards the characters.
Actually, I don't know if the stealth suit part came out properly, but it was hard to write from the POW of Brian. What was supposed to happen was that 3 suits land(stealth on). One of them moves near the chimera, while two others decloak. Then, the two others leave, letting the third survey the area for a moment, to see if anyone tries to take shots at the two, or gets up after things quiet down. And I'm surprised to see the fake soldier was predictable. That early in the story it would be hard to guess what the hero is like, so I was counting on people assuming Brian was just going to gut some Xeno or something.

Originally Posted by derfderf
2) The names do sound casual, but given the twist at the end (I think it was a twist, unless I missed something), surnames wouldn't have worked, and those are much easier to match up with Imperial naming. If you have to, change the spelling of a common name, but keep the pronounciation the same, e.g. Ryke, Bryan.
Yep, it was a twist, so surnames were out. Did the best I could to not make it obvious why no-one used surnames.

Originally Posted by derfderf
4) I think the 'thirst' element was well emphasized, but there could have been a bit more pain. When you're parched, your throat hurts, you cough, you get a little delirious from sunstroke. Maybe a bit more physical description there?
I have to remember that the next time. Good tip.

Originally Posted by derfderf
BTW, my favourite moment was when Brian was hiding from the Stealth suit just when Rick was killed. He's biting his fist til it bleeds, tears are coming out of his eyes - there's a lot of liquid imagery there, but he's not too thirsty anymore, eh?
Yeah, there was a meaningfully "better mood" part of the story, after finding water (and assumedly figuring out that they can do that to other vehicles too), things are starting to look better. The mood is lighter, the discussion has a more happy and relaxed tone. They are not short of water anymore. And then Rick get killed, (just when it looks like they dodged the buillet) and the story moves a step towards fear and despair. So they had the water, now it's time to be afraid and in despair.

Originally Posted by derfderf
I would personally like to see you keep working on this, because although it's really good already, I want to see it at its best
I might touch up on it a bit. I personally didn't like the introuction discussion with Rick and Brian, that needs some work. And the actual shooting part of Rick (when he is shot) seems too mechanical. I think I rework that a bit. Maybe add a bit here and there too.

Originally Posted by Dra'Tuisich-Novae
As for storyline - I didn't find it predictable, either. Perhaps the very ending, but when there's a hostile aircraft locked onto two armed soldiers, what the hell else is supposed to happen next ???:P?!
Actually, the end was revealed on two points, one when the plane broke formation: This was the first hint of things to come. Second when Brian sees the markerlights on Theo. This was the confirmation. After this, the reader should know what is about to happen, like do the characters. End is just the characters (or mainly Brian, as Theo does not seems to notice the markerlight in the story) reacting to the fate at hand. It's the end of Despair, the ultimate surrender, fear of death and loss and yet Brian (who might save himself by taking cover, but could never move Theo in time) decides to stay with his brother, and actually tries to make Theo's death as easy as possible ("“We'll be ok Theo. Now close your eyes and get some sleep.” so he won't see the plane until it is too late.).

And since I have the "Evil Overlord complex" (ie. I have to explain all my plans and deeds to any MI6 agents present):

-Anyone think Theo was a marine in the beginning?(before he gets slapped of course) I did my best to create the image without making anything too obvious.

-When they found the trailer of water, did anyone assume it to be a ambush by troopers driven insane by thirst who want to drink their blood? (the comment in the start was not there for nothing you know)
Who though the trailer would blow up, and Rick would just be saved by Brian tackling him? (ie. the "hollywood trap")

-In the scene where Rick is killed, Brian orders him out to get water canteen. After this, he starts to think how the war was going. I should have written a bit more on his thoughts, as it's purpose was to mask the evident leaving of Rick so the suits can kill him. Must do better on next time.

Other stuff:
-Originally Brian and Theo were supposed to make it to a cliff, from where they would see the last shuttles getting out of the landing zone and the navy ships breaking orbit, ending the story with Brian looking after the dropships and Theo dieing quietly behind him from the exhaustion, infection and whatever. But I changed it to current form. I like this better, hope it works for others too.

-The "action" part of the story (Rick getting shot) happens time wise too far from the end to be good reading. (making the end scene time wise immediately after the ambush would have been cutting the story short, but writing few days and nights worth of eventless travel would have lost the feel of the story, and lose the effect of the shooting on the mood). I chose to make the transition with Brian reliving the shooting in dream, and waking up. This could conveniently explain few days with short narration, and still not timewise be right after shooting.

Minor Details:
-First Theo sees "the Emperor" as a "huge figure, surrounded by a bright light". In the next chapter, it comes clear that Brian is standing above Theo (who is laying down, hence the "huge", and is standing so his shadow is over Theos head, which means that from Theo's point of view, he is "surrounded by bright light" as the sun is directly behind him. So the "emperor" is Brian, incase someone didn't figure this out.

-The stealthsuits encountered seem to be discussing together, but no sound is heard. This is to indicate that each suit has a radio, and is sealed. I'm not sure how this fits with the fluff, but it works here.

-In the story, when ever someone shoots, the"world slows down" or stops. This was on purpose. One reason was to increase the tension of the moment of shooting. Another was to allow it's use in the ending, without telling what happens, but making sure everyone knows what is going on, as to make clear what happens without telling what happens.
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