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Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"
 
Old 30 Aug 2009, 00:18   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"

“’BAD THINGS ALWAYS happen in the mist’, isn’t that how the saying goes?” The Captain was saying it more to himself than anyone else. Once again, bad weather from the north brought rampant low pressure winds that mixed with the warmer southern air and caused rouge clouds to drift upwards from the acid sea. These zero-visibility pockets of fog could hold for hours, and even days.

”Aye Cap, this is one of those fronts our grandfathers tell tales about.” Captain Indrik Moore jumped as the grizzled voice of Major Fooly crackled on his chair-mounted vox. He had obviously forgotten to click the rune to ‘off’ after an earlier conversation. “All about dragons and daemons and other horrible sky-monsters that can tear a ship like ours apart like so much warm grox-butter.”

“We’re getting too old for this, eh’ Tom?” Captain Moore shook his head. He couldn't even see the main Vox mast that usually pierced the sky just twenty meters before the bridge. His fingers tapped the metal arm of his chair. He and his crew of the Imperial Praetorian Class Skyship, the Moriarty had been out patrolling the vast, toxic sea of toxic clouds for three days, and still had seen little to no sign of the enemy. He was as on edge as the rest of his men.

"Captain, auspex detecting stationary object dead ahead, four thousand meters." His navigator muttered absentmindedly. It was the fourth time in six hours that they had come across the tip of a rocky outcrop. There had to be millions of them out in the Acid Sea, but protocol dictated that they had to check every one they found.

"Move us about at five degrees to port, Mister Gall. Bring us along side it for Major Fooly's men to do their thing. The helmsman gave a quick 'Yessir' and turned the heavy, plasteel helm with delicate precision. The whole ship began to creak and whine as the aging vessel's grav-panels on her flanks gently nudged her on a new course.

Captain Moore squinted, leaning forward in his chair. It was no use, he couldn't see a thing in the thick blanked of fog.

"2500 meters, sir." His navigator reported. "1900..."

"Mister Gall, slow to 10 clicks. Activate starboard spotlights, and turn all batteries on the object." The command deck began to bustle with activity as data began to pour in from the ship’s cogators as they neared their objective. He heard, rather than saw the two forward and one rear Twin-linked Volcano Cannon batteries turn on their heavy mounts to face the direction the object was supposed to be. On the Moriarty's armored, starboard flank, hatches opened, revealing lascannon and Vanquisher cannon mounts. The Captain wanted no surprises.

"Captain, the fog is beginning to clear, and the object should be just...wait. No, that can't be right." He turned his head around to look at the Captain, "It appears to be...moving, sir."

There was a pause in the room as the realization hit the crew like a brick. Captain Moore gazed out the view port as a silhouette began to form off the prow of his ship. The Captain's eyes widened in surprise.

"Fredrik, turn us about! Dear Emperor we're about to hit it!" The helmsman spun the wheel frantically, and the ship's machine-spirit screamed in opposition to such a violent course change. The crew watched in horror as a rusting, black-iron behemoth appeared before them. The ghastly vessel was bristling with over-sized guns and sharp, rusted spikes that jutted from every angle, their tips hung with crude banners and glyphs made of metal or human skin.

[hr]

THE GREENSKINS HAD come to the civilized world of Banetta fifty standard years ago with an incredible invasion force. Fortunately, most of their dropships landed in the Acid sea, but those that didn't quickly began to construct their own crude mimicry of the Imperial skyships and began to hunt civilian vessels and raid mountain cities. And with the gross lack of support from their mother Imperium, the fight was handed to the under-paid, under-manned, and misrepresented Banetta Skyfleet to protect the supply lanes and cities from the orkish menace. Captain Moore and his crew had done a fine job of that for almost two decades now, and the Moriarty had claimed almost a dozen kills in that time.

This however, was different. The skyship before him must have been over a half-kilometer long. The Moriarty was just under 200 meters, a medium vessel by Imperial standards. He sighed in relief as his ship's prow barely managed to avoid a head-on collision with the xenos abomination. It was a rare thing to get this close to an orkish vessel, and he could see little green dots milling about the ship's deck, turning their own guns towards his ship. He grimaced at the thought of such horrors being allowed to exist any longer.

"All guns, open fire! Aim for their bastardized grav-panels and knock it out of the sky!" His ship rocked violently as the first broadside was unleashed, and he watched as tiny explosions bloomed along its rusting flank. Vast chunks of metal were torn clear, falling into the Acid Sea along with the bodies of unlucky xenos crew. It was obvious that they were as surprised as he was to find enemies so close. His own ship began to shake and rumble as the orks began to sporadically return fire.

The greenskin vessel began to turn to bring it' heavier firepower on the Moriarty, but she had been moving too fast. The bridge's entire starboard viewport was obscured by fat, cone-shaped thrusters that made up the rear portion of the massive ork ship. Luck had put his ship in a perfect firing position. He was staring at an immense blind-spot on the pirate vessel, and he aimed to exploit it. Moore peered into the recesses in between the over-sized thruster heads, looking for a weak-spot.

"There, those metal bulges between the two main thrusters. All guns, fire on those external fuel tanks!" The ship recoiled as everything they had was unleashed into one spot. They were rewarded with an incredibly blinding explosion that mushroomed out from the ship's rear. The resulting shockwave rocked the Moriarty on her axis.

"Captain, the enemy vessel has launched boarding pods! They're coming around from the ship's prow." Captain Moore watched as ugly, black smoke-trails began to funnel out from the other side of the bulky alien ship. Though far away, they were gaining speed and barreling towards his ship. He cursed under his breath, and activated the ship-wide vox.

"Anti-air guns on red alert, they’ve launched cans. Major Fooly, prepare your men to repel boarders." With that, flickering tracers began to dance about the sky, black blooms of flak popped in between them and the xenos ship. The spiked boarding pods drew closer, weaving in and around the rain of flak. Several of the pods were struck right away, bursting like ripe fruit, or falling from the sky, trailing black smoke and pieces of scrap. One of the pods was vaporized instantly as it crossed paths with one of the Volcano Cannon's line of sight. The resulting blast continued on and struck the center of one of the ork Skyship's thrusters. There was an internal secondary explosion, and entire module began to shear off of the enemy vessel. The crew cheered as it started to lose altitude.

The cheers were quickly cut short at the sound of dull thumps reverberating through the entire ship. Some of the boarding pods had struck home after all. Down below, heavy vanquisher cannons were torn out of their mountings by sick-looking black spikes. Combat troopers rushed to meet the threat with shotguns and heavy stubber turrets. Slowly, the spike began to split in two. One brave trooper guarding one such breach rushed forwards, and chucked a frag grenade into the thin split. There was a dull crump, and any activity inside the pod was silenced.

Elsewhere, things weren't running as smoothly. Giant green monsters began to poor out of the other pods, hacking away at anyone within reach with fat, vicious cleavers. Their massive bulks soaked up a fusillade of firepower before falling over. Reports of checkpoints being overrun streamed into the bridge. Captain Moore frowned.

"Dammit, don't let up the pressure on the main target. Remember men, these skies belong to the Emperor!" He roared into the ship-wide vox, "We're tearing it apart; we have to press the advantage!"

He threw the receiver to the deck and stood up, walking over to the front viewport. orks were charging across the top deck from a pod that had slammed into one of the anti-air turrets and skidded to a halt. They were trying to reach the main cannons, but the Major's men were putting up a decent resistance. Once more the Volcano Cannons fired, great beams of energy spearing the ugly thing's rear once more, and tearing off a thruster almost half as wide as the Moriarty was long. Yet another broadside lashed out seconds later and blasted even more chunks of metal and broken bodies from its side. He watched as its nose began to tip downwards towards the roiling acidic clouds below.

"Hah, yet another mark on the flank of the Moriarty." He grinned, thinking of how foolish he was to doubt his crew’s skills. "The boys back at Sargasso aren't going to believe this one…"

There was a loud clang on the heavy metal hatch to the rear of the bridge. Then another, louder than the last. With a blood-curdling screech the three-foot thick ceramite hatch was shorn free of it's mounting and sent soaring out the window, taking a door guard and a couple of junior officers with it. The entire bridge crew was frozen, staring at the shape that now dominated the doorway. The monster was enormous, and was crouching to fit in the human-sized hallway. Its skin was a greasy dark green, no doubt darkened by all of the engine oil it wallowed in while on board it’s ship. In its meaty, over sized hands it held a huge iron hammer shaped like the head of a bull-grox. The thing looked to be too heavy for any normal man to carry. It snorted, puffing out a gray cloud of soot from the fires below deck. It was the biggest ork Moore had ever seen, and glancing behind the shape he could see several more waiting impatiently behind it.

Immediately the combat squad stationed on the bridge reacted, pumping lasbolts and buckshot into its leathery alien hide. The Captain himself went for the boltpistol hidden away under his chair's armrest. The greenskin simply shrugged off the gunfire, charging into the room, swinging his massive hammer in wide arcs, smashing into bodies and consoles with feral glee. Moore had to leap out of his seat as the body of his navigator was thrown across the deck, taking the entire rig off its mountings.

Boltpistol in hand, the he turned in time to watch one of the other monsters tear Sergeant Gillias, a man he had know for twenty four years, in two. Spitting, he shot the abomination in the head. The Captain yelped at the shot, the pistol flying from his right hand that was now snapped at an odd angle. After such a long time he must have grown out of shape. Grasping his broken wrist, he watched the still-growling ork flop backwards, smashing the Helm like a tin can.

[hr]

“KEEP THE PRESSURE up gentlemen, don’t give them an inch!” Major Fooly roared, blowing bloody chunks out of a charging greenskin with his Victory-pattern combat shotgun. Another ork leaped over his fallen comrade, only to meet a similarly grizzly fate.

Returning fire pattered off the bulkhead behind him, buckling the armor with heavy thumps. One of his men was struck by a stray slug. His top-half was thrown backwards while his legs just flopped over. The major grunted in anger; he was losing men far to quickly, and there weren’t exactly many to go around. Most of the 23rd Banetta Skyguard had been whipped out when the orks had raided Sargasso Hive a couple years back. The remains had been handed out as guard detail on several Skyships like the Moriarty. His soldiers were the best of the best however, clad in heavy, olive greatcoats over form-fitting carapace armor. Their faces were obscured by molded ceramite masks formed into the visage of the God-Emperor. Most wielded shotguns or lasrifles, but some of his more venturous men hefted heavy flamers, pouring vast gouts of burning promethium into the wall of xenos bodies before them.

“Major, I just got word, the bridge is being assaulted by greenskin elites, the Captain's guards are being overrun!” The Major’s vox operator had appeared behind him, taking cover behind an overturned loading sentinel. The news he brought caused Fooly pause; the greenskins had gotten farther than he had anticipated, meaning Corporal Arroul’s team had been over run in the port hold.

“Jace, get a hold of Sergeant Bolsy and tell him to get a fireteam together and meet me at juncture 33-C.” With that, Fooly was gone before the vox-operator could change the dial on his device. He passed an intersection in the bowels of the ship. To his right, another squad of skyguard was pulling back as a sea of tiny alien beasts chased them, all fang-filled mouths with legs. He didn’t have time to aid them, so he continued onwards. He reached yet another juncture, the light in the area had been taken out by an earlier firefight, and the Major was forced to use his shotgun’s flashlight. A massive cleaver slashed in a downward arc as he passed the juncture, just barely missing him. The ork had appeared as if from thin air, but its smell had given it away just before the Major had walked into the trap.

Its face was filled with buckshot an instant later. Fooly didn’t stick around to see if it had friends however, and instead chucked a grenade down the adjoining corridor and continued on his way. The resulting explosion sounded much wetter than he’d expected.
The trip was turning out to be more dangerous than he had hoped, and was beginning to doubt that he’d find an intact fireteam waiting for him. With so many xenos aboard, it was any wonder he had made it as far as he had.

Slowing as he reached a bend in the hallway, he jumped as two guardsmen barreled around the corner, barely stopping in time to avoid hitting the Major. They both saluted, and Fooly returned the gesture.

“What seems to be the problem, gents?” He was instantly answered as a hissing, whirring mechanical abomination rounded the corner, shifting on it’s axis to stare down the trio with one natural and one mechanical eye.

“Oh, right…” It was more machine than ork, a creature created by one of the greenskin ‘mad docs’. It was easily twice the size of a regular ork, which are already pretty huge. It raised its right arm, a massive cluster of gun barrels and dangling ammo belts. The two skyguardsmen turned tail and ran, but Fooly stood his ground. He aimed his shotgun with one hand, arm out straight so the barrel was barely a foot from the monster’s half-metal face, and fired. The greenskin’s head was thrown backwards by the blast, but it stayed standing.

There was a long pause as Fooly waited for the ork to make a move. Eventually, the two other guardsmen returned to the Major’s side, staring at the inanimate corpse. Fooly sighed, poking the body with the butt of his shotgun.

“Looks like we’re going to have to find another way around…”

[hr]

CAPTAIN MOORE WAS flying through the air. Suddenly the battle seemed so far away, and all he could see was sky, then smoke, then the wooden floor. He smashed into the top deck below the bridge with a wet crack. His mouth opened in a silent scream, his spine had snapped on impact. His landing was quickly followed by another, far louder thud, and the Captain opened his eyes to see two fat, iron-plated boots. He looked up to see the deformed, drooling face of the hammer-wielding greenskin. It made a sound, eerily reminiscent of the sounds he imagined the sky-monsters from those old tales would make.

It almost sounded like laughter. He cringed as the thing bent down to get a better look at him. Moore spit in its face, and the ork hardly seemed to notice. It was busy pulling out a knife, the size of a human sword; it was fat and serrated, and covered with dried blood.

The world seemed to slow down around him. It almost seemed unreal; one minute he was looking at an ork, the next he was staring at his own body. Something was off however, his body was missing something. He couldn’t quite put a finger on it. His mother had fingers. One Two Three Four Five fingers all there. He missed his mother. Maybe he’d invite her over for tea later. She loves tea…

The Captain’s eyes finally closed as the ork tied his severed head to its belt using his own hair. It roared in triumph, having claimed the head of the puny ‘umie ship’s captain. Hefting its massive hammer over its shoulder, the beast turned back towards the bridge, and turned to red mist.

Major Fooly ran over to the captain's ravaged body, surrounded by a large platoon of guardsmen. He made a quick hand motion and it split off, half heading into the burning bridge tower to cleanse it of resistance.

"Forgive me, old friend, I was too slow..." The old, gray-bearded major took his olive drab greatcoat off, and laid it over the bloody corpse. He made the sign of the aquila across his chest, then moved on, calling the medical staff over with a stretcher. He would make sure that the captain at least had a dignified burial. With a sigh, he looked out over to the west. The sun was setting, and as the distant mists parted, he saw the tell-tale silhouettes of more imperial airships. Turning, he could see the thick cord of black smoke rising out of the acid sea; yet another kill for the Moriarty. He took one last look over at Captain Moore, his body being lifted onto a white stretcher.

"We were getting too old for this anyway, eh’ Cap?" He muttered to nothing in particular. Then, with one last sigh, he headed into the bridge tower, shotgun in hand.
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Old 06 Oct 2009, 09:51   #2 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"

I liked this story the most. It had a final fantasy feel with well written Orks. Can't go wrong there in my book. Should have had more votes if you ask me.
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Old 06 Oct 2009, 16:28   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"

This would have been another pick of mine, were we allowed more votes. As it was I had to be stupendously stingy with my votes.
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Old 06 Oct 2009, 19:38   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) - 3.2/5
Plot, storyline etc. - 10/15
Realism/Plausability - 3.2/5
Interest - 3.7/5
Characters - 3.3/5
Ease of read - 3.8/5

TOTAL - 27.2/40

Comments-

-Great character, but the story is missing something, not sure what though.

-An interesting concept, certainly. I liked the whole skyship idea. I would have liked to see the Orks developed a bit more, as they seem to stay uncharacteristically silent throughout the majority of the story. I think a bit more emotion, tension, drama, would have made the story a lot better too. Some nice language used, although there are a few mistakes.
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Old 07 Oct 2009, 00:37   #5 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"

I too liked this one, this was my second pick. Now that Scout Fox mentions it, it does kind of have a final fantasy vibe to it(which is good I guess ;D). It just had me the whole way through, enjoyed it a lot, Manatee .
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Old 15 Oct 2009, 15:18   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Entry D - "The Emperor's Skies"

Thanks guys! ^_^ I never really was thinking 'final fantasy' when I wrote it tho...

But I guess when you use airships it is hard to NOT think of final fantasy. :P
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