|View Poll Results: Which of the short stories is the best?|
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|22 Apr 2008, 14:17||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Short Story Competition [VOTING]
The lad next to me reached into his pocket, he removed a lighter. “Cigarette?” he lent over, offering me one. “No, I don’t smoke” He laughed, which swiftly changed to a choke. “Enjoy yourself as long as you’re alive, that’s what I say!” His voice became quieter, more solemn. “Hell, I doubt much of us will be alive much longer.” He ranted on, I didn’t listen. To even stand a chance of surviving you had to keep in a positive frame of mind, if you give up on life, life will give up on you. I thought of what had happened over the past days…
I’m in the military, but not just your average soldier, we are not just the average squad, there is no official name for us. Loke is our leader; a loyal man would kill himself without question if Loke ordered it. The death of one thousand men meant nothing here, yet we were made up of just 15. My job is a dark one; I kill people, not just the enemy but members of the same side, even my own squad if it came to it.
The sky was patchy; there were small parts where the great stars shone through. The rest was blocked out. There was a continuous churning of weapon factories, choking out toxic gases which then crept across the sky. It was a sickening sight.
Loke had the “busy” sign up. I barged in regardless. Smoke filled his office, but the window was shut. He replaced some papers back into their drawer and slammed it shut. “What?” His voice was hoarse, his throat clogged. “This bunker is what! We have been here to long I thought we agreed to not stay in one place to long to maintain secrecy” Loke gazed onwards with his dark, exhausted eyes. “You think I am getting careless?” “You’ve always been careless just not this often.” I had thought Loke was a good leader, now I was not so sure. “I have plans you know, I always have plans, just because I choose not to share them with you does not mean I have none.” I frowned, insulted. “I have always said don’t trust anyone, I’m glad you are taking my advice, but I am one of the few people that you can and must trust, especially in these dark times.”
The morning bells rang, they have gone unused for years, right after the 2nd war here, we were now well into the 6th. I preferred the great stars rising to the shrill clang that this dusty relic made.
The weekly search for more supplies came; I was partnered with Chris as always, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He was my trusted friend since the beginning of my duty on this planet. We set out, walking at a steady pace. The earth was dusty and every step made a cloud fly up. The few plants that remained were brittle and crunched under our feet. The wildlife all but dead, save a few disease ridden rodents.
An outpost lay ahead; exploration showed it was empty of life. It also revealed what we were looking for, supplies. We snapped the crates open. As we were the ones that discovered them it was only fitting we took some of it for ourselves.
Chris pulled out a lighter “cigarette?” He lent over “No...” He laughed and went on about not being alive much longer, a standard routine of his. “Loke isn’t capable you know, we will all end up dead if we carry on going along with him.” I snapped to attention at this hint of heresy and looked up at him, He lightened up, thinking I was interested “HHH, their organized, better equipped, and share the same enemies as we do.” I had lost many friends in this war. Most of them didn’t die. Sometimes I wish they had of been. “What are you suggesting?”
I hoped I had got the wrong end of the stick, but it wasn’t looking that way. “You know exactly what I’m suggesting, join HHH, why not? They are untainted by chaos; they may not fully obey the orders of our leaders but so what?” My best friend was a heretic? How could this be…? “Betray our Leaders!? You can’t be serious!” “Loke has already betrayed us; I know you have seen his papers, what he plans to do!” Chris must’ve fallen victim to HHH propaganda. “You cannot possibly go along with this madness! You know it will lead to your inevitable death.” He must think HHH will show will give him a better life, the fool. “You made a vow when you joined this squad, we all know too much information, if any one of us left the squad then that one would feel the full wrath of the inquisition. How can you throw away everything you have done to this point?” He was a coward; he wouldn’t leave at the thought of the inquisition on his back. “I will not follow these plans like a mindless fighting machine, marching towards death.” He edged slowly to the door. “I am afraid I will not change my mind.” I stood up “Do not step out of that door!” His walk became more brisk, he was intimidated but still determined. “Very well.” I can’t say it was an easy decision to make, but still the right one. Drawing my power weapon “The traitor’s penalty is death.”
It was always snowy in the mountains that time of year. Stamiel struggled onwards through the huge flurries of snow, his skin exposed and bitterly cold. He knew he would make it to his ultimate goal. He had to, for his father; he just couldn’t let him down. He remembered that day, almost two weeks ago, when his father had sat him down on his knee, placed his old hunting rifle in his hands, and told him he had to make his way north. He had had tears in his eyes. Stamiel knew it was a blessing and burden to his father; on the one hand, his son had been Chosen by the Dragon Thunderers Chapter of the Space Marines, and one day, Emperor willing, would be clad in an ancient suit of scarlet armour. But he was still his young son, and to part with him when the family was poor, and hungry, was a huge loss. He had a sudden pang of regret, he wished he wasn’t on this journey, this voyage to the Thunderers’ Fortress Monastery in the Ravine of Sighs, wanted to be back with his family by the fire, where he was safe and happy and loved. But then a voice inside told him that what awaited him was beyond the dreams of any member of his family for nearly 11 generations. His ancestor had been Chosen as well. He had to live up to that. He knew that his father was thinking that same thought the day he called Stamiel into his room. That was thirteen days ago, and 154 miles south.
Stamiel caught an unusual scent in the air – his senses had been sharpened out of necessity these past two weeks – and quietly pulled his father’s rifle from his back. He was running out of rounds for it, so he wanted to conserve them. However, he had encountered many things on his struggle here, things he would…rather forget, and he knew that to let his guard down at this stage was weak. The old men in the village had spoken of dark creatures out in the wilderness that could tear a man in half. Well, they certainly couldn’t stop bullets, Stamiel thought with a barely audible chuckle. The snow in the air was thick, and he could see little, but suddenly he caught a sight in the thick flurry, about one-and-a-half times as tall as a man. He grew closer, wary of his footsteps in the loose snow. Shapes became limbs, limbs became multi-segmented carapaced limbs, and he gradually saw that it was a similar insect to one he had come across, and killed, three days ago. There was good eating on those, and he was growing cold, so he slowly brought the rifle’s sights up to bear on the creatures head. His finger was loathe to touch the frozen metal of the trigger, but he forced it to. A sure kill…
The beast’s head snapped to him, and Stamiel blinked when it..disappeared. Just vanished, invisible. Stamiel’s heart was racing, his blood rushing, adrenaline making his unmoving muscles shake. This hadn’t happened with the last one of these things, he thought, and looked around. Nothing but his eyes moved. In his peripheral vision he saw a line of three-toed footsteps trace towards him in the snow. You are mine, you abomination, he thought smugly and swung the gun round to fire.
What came next happened in slow motion for Stamiel. Bringing the gun up, finger already moving backwards, he was hit by an invisible claw, as strong as steel. The beast had shot forwards almost impossibly fast and had swung at him, and he was flying through the air. He heard the gun fire, though it hadn’t been him that had pulled the trigger, and saw the creature materialise in the air, blood already gushing from a wound, right in the neck. Stamiel hit the snow about ten metres away; the creature was motionless. With a grunt Stamiel acknowledged his victory – to waste energy celebrating out here was fatal. He moved over to the animal, and broke off two legs to keep him on the journey north. As he turned back round, he saw a line of blood in the snow. As if in a dream, he looked down, and looked perplexedly at bloody stain on his tunic, on his side where the monster had clawed him. That hadn’t been there before, he thought, and frowned. Now he was lying on the ground, in the snow. How did I get here? He couldn’t get up. He couldn’t move. He was losing feeling in his side. This is it then, he thought, and began to cry. His journey, his…struggle had been for nothing. He had let down himself. He had let down his ancestor. He had let down his father, so filled with pride…
Through blurry eyes he saw a shape appear in the blizzard. He knew it was another monster, attracted by the scent of fresh blood. Wishing only for a quick death, he shut tight his eyes and awaited the pain. He felt a huge, metal hand place itself on his head, surprisingly gingerly for all its bulk.
“Come with me, my child. The fire is warm…..”
Hordes of haumagaunts threw them selves at the walls only to be repelled by controlled bursts of las-gun fire, but it could not last, un like the tyranid’s, the imperial guard would run out of ammo. Massive stacks of dead were already piling up against the walls, and soon it would be high enough to act as a ramp. Again and again they came, each attack getting higher and higher, a horrible thought came into Lysander captain of the fourth company from the space marines’ chapter, The Crimson Angels. “They were probing us, trying to find a weak spot in our defences” but as soon as the thought came into mind, Lysander pushed it from his head, “no alien was capable of that level of intelligence”, but it was that thought that would cost him his life…
Three giant carnifex’s pounded the massive adamantium doors, each time scoring only a dent. Swarms of gargoyles flew overhead, dropping their payload on the defenders, each eventually being shredded by the Hydra flak cannons. But they too were running out of ammo, there had been no supply drops for over a week, and the situation was getting dire. The medicae centre was full and the nearest one with space was to far away to get to with a lictor on the loose.
A slight movement on the right caught Lysander’ eye, movement that was not human, tyranid warrior organisms had broken through and were clearing a space for haumagaunts “squad alpha, with me” called Lysander as he drew his power sword and activated it with one swift movement. Ten seconds was all it took for Lysander and squad alpha to close the ground with the tyranids and combat was upon them a swirling melee of death was taking place and the imperial guard could only hope that the space marines won.
On the second wall, Sergeant Wilkins saw the death on the front line and prepared his warriors for the on coming assault, “warriors, the enemy is upon us, will we flee? Will we forgive? NAY for we are warriors of the Emperor and His will be done. These xenos reap a bloody tally in our men, brothers, friends, what ever they are to us, they are martyrs to the Emperor, and we shall avenge them. They will rue the day they set foot on our territory, ready your weapons, do not say good bye to your wife and children for we shall see them again, be it at the side of the Emperor or your home, THE EMPEROR IS OUR SHEILD, HE IS OUR SWORD, AND NOW WE SHALL SHOW THESE ALEIN T'auk'cka'era HOW THE IMPERIUM FIGHT, FOR THE EMPEROR”
As the melee drew to a close, it was clear that the space marines were victorious; seven warriors’ organism bodies lay blooded and dead on the floor. “Captain, I’m hit” said a member of squad alpha. Lysander turned to see who had said it, a space marine by the name of Dameus, he held up a bloody stump for a hand, the missing limb held in his other hand. Already the laraman cells were clotting up the wound but it would need to be seen to, and soon, “can you fight Dameus?” was Lysander’ answer
“Yes sir, but with only one hand” grinned Dameus. Lysander clapped him on the shoulder and turned to face the battle.
Two squad of fury interceptors, passed over head opening a fusillade of bombs and missiles on the creatures, another squad holding of the horde of gargoyles with fast manoeuvres and close ranged shots form the hull mounted Las cannon. Basilisk artillery batteries opened fire and rained death on the enemy, huge chunks were blasted from the tyranid force, but never enough, every time a gap opened it was filled with more, slavering lurching beasts, each answering to the implacable will of the hive mind.
In answer to the artillery shots from the imperial guard, the tyranid artillery organisms opened fire on the wall, each firing a single spore, landing with different effects, ultra hot acids melted the parapets and flesh off bodies alike, deadly bone fragment ripped men apart and others falling like rocks to take out tanks, two of the forty basilisks fell, to the fusillade, but more humans suffered.
“Brother Lucius, fire upon the carnifex’ at the door” called Lysander to the devastator squad, “right away, sir” was the reply, the sound of heavy weapons charging up and reloading filled the air, a blinding light cut the gloom and one of the carnifex fell with it’s head blown clean off it’s neck, the other two looked up, one fired its venom, cannon, a scream and a marine fell to the floor his chest falling apart in front of him.
On came the aliens, like an ocean they rose and like a wave, they broke upon the walls, but still they came, the ground boiled with masses of slavering lumbering beasts. Like a parasite, they would feed. Eat any thing, all for the good of the hive mind. Deaths did not matter to it, only that it fed, the lives of the aliens did not matter either, they would be devoured and regurgitated as more fresh tyranids, but as each sole died, the hive mind grew, ever expanding, each loss just fuelling its knowledge, each organism evolving to conquer this new threat, as it moved it left a trail of destruction, airless, life less rocks show the previous planet prey. And Captain Lysander was determined not to let that happen to this planet....
|22 Apr 2008, 14:17||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
Zaren raised his hellgun, and shouldered it, waiting for the next wave to cross the street. Nine Kaskrin stood beside him, rifles ready. Zaren hit a button on his wrist and brought up a tac map on his HUD. Infantry Platoon 138 were holed up to in the next building to the left and a heavy bolter emplacement covered the rubble right of their building. They were to hold off for the last of the citizens to escape.
There was a scream of anger as the cultists swarmed out from the opposing ruins. Their twisted faces matching their dark souls. Spiky bits protruded from their armour, conveying their malignant minds. A controlled retaliation of las fire lashed out at the traitors, cutting them down efficiently. The lasers pockmarked holes throughout their torso's, blood running rapidly from the wounds. Within several seconds two grenades were thrown, and the last of the enemy fell down in a bloody heap.
'Men, there will be more, and in the Emperor's name, we will not falter,' Zaren called out, before activating his comms.
'138, what's your status after the last wave?'
'We lost one man, but they're holding up well.'
'Thanks, Scope, what activity have we got over there?'
'More cultists are massing, about three times as many as last time.'
'Thanks,' Zaren replied into the mike, 'You heard him, rig the claymores.'
The Kaskrins set to work immediately, in a haze of action, setting the directional charges.
Suddenly the comms burst to life.
'Zaren, cancel that, there are larger figures moving over there.'
The communications switched to his private channel.
'I think they are Chaos Space Marines, all the way along no mans land. They are preparing for a simultaneous assault.'
'Emperors Tears,' he muttered to himself, 'Thanks Scope, appreciated.'
He turned to see the wall opposite burst outwards and a huge black, power armoured figure emerge. It was about seven feet tall and hefted a bolter in one hand. Its golden trim, shimmered evilly in the light.
Zaren shouldered his hellgun and fired, his squad following suit. The Marine raised its bolter and fired, the shell cleaving the head off one Kaskrin.
'Frags!' Zaren screamed, letting his hellgun go and reaching down to his belt.
Several grenades soared from the cover, clinking to the ground before exploding at the Marine's feet. There was a roar of agony as a cloud of dust kicked up, shrouding it from view and the figure stumbled. Zaren relaxed, nothing could have survived that - before an outline began to form. A black power armoured figure. Shards of shrapnel stuck out of its armour, making it look like a living corpse. But it wasn't a corpse. And it was pissed as Khorne.
The sharp crack of the hellguns began again, but the Marine shrugged it off, raising the bolter again. Blam! Another Kaskrin fell to the ground, blue webbing stained red, and insides reduced to a soupy mess. Blam! The Kaskrin to the right of Zaren crumpled, a hole through his upper chest. And the hellguns continued to crack.
It continued its path, not even attempting to take cover. Suddenly its shields faltered, shimmering out of existence.
The Marine leapt forward at an unprecedented speed, loosening a knife on the way, which planted itself in another Kaskrin's Skull. Zaren hit a button on his wrist. The front of the building detonated, spraying out a fountain of rubble, before collapsing onto of the Chaos Marine. It was crushed utterly.
Zareth breathed a sigh of relief before retrieving a red krak grenade from his belt and moving over to the heap. Then, quickly, he dug into the rubble, inserted the grenade into a crack near the Marine and pulled the pin. The pile of rubble showered into the air, revealing the smashed armour of the Chaos Space Marine.
'Prepare for more!' he shouted, and his men instantly began to set up more defenses. They were safe, for the moment.
'138, what’s your status?'
'138, do you read me? Over.'
They weren't receiving, or not alive.
Suddenly, the wall beside Zaren burst apart, showering rubble throughout the room and knocking Zaren to the ground. A huge looming figure stepped through the newly created doorway. Another Chaos Space Marine. It was followed by another.
'Emperor save us,' he muttered.
The first rushed forward, picking him up by the collar, and raised him into the air as bolter shots began to boom out. Effortlessly, as if he was a doll, it threw him through the outer wall, into no-mans land. Zaren's vision blurred as he struggled to remain conscious as several of his ribs cracked. All he could do was listen as one after another his squad mates were killed. He vaguely felt pain in his abdomen, and reached down feeling the wetness of his own blood.
He blacked out.
He regained consciousness as one of the traitorous figures stepped over him, bolter raised. He was going to die. Then he saw something else, a rain of blue tear drops falling from the sky. Drop pods. The Marine noticed he was alive at a non-surpressed gasp and leveled the bolter to his head. The first pod struck nearby, its Assault Cannons blazing, cutting down the massed cultists. A tremendous shockwave was kicked up, knocking the traitor Marine back. Then the Ultramarines piled out, bolters raised, blasting at anything that moved. Zaren felt a bolt of plasma sail over his head, scorching his skin, and turned onto his side, watching the traitor which had been over him fall with a thud to the ground. He let out a gasp of pain.
'There is a live one over here, send the med-raider,' one of the Marines shouted, his voice stern.
It quickly moved over next to him, and drew a syringe from its belt.
'The Emperor protects, you will be alright,' it said, ordering it to happen. He plunged the hypodermic needle into Zaren's arm.
He would live.
Zaren blacked out.
Sergeant Hyris sheltered behind the ferrocrete block with autogun rounds buzzing overhead. He lazily took a lengthy puff of his cigar, savouring the rich smoke. Out from the dusty haze Hyris saw a giant figure that could only be Saul, jogging towards him with his weapons six rotating barrels whining impatiently.
The two men sheltered side by side under the constant bark of autogun rounds overhead.
Saul turned his brutish face to his superior and rolled his eyes comically.
“Why’da hell ya spend all the credits yew earn on those fancy smoke sticks? I seen prices o’those things, ‘aint cheap. I could buy me a weeks worth of liquor for just one o’ them.”
Hyris took another deep breath of smoke and glanced at the hulking giant beside him, a mortar shell exploded nearby; showing them in dirt and ferrocrete.
“You only live once.” He smiled, cigar clenched in his teeth.
“Yee, and we won’t be living for long if we stay pinned down here, I see them cultists across the street only fifty yards from ere. Recon we could rush ‘em sir?
“Sirus is getting into a covering position now; he can keep them pinned with his long-las as we rush to take their position.”
As he spoke another figure emerged from the smoke, ducking and flinching at each shot that buzzed overhead. - Private Barmt.
“S-sir, we are getting shot up here, we need to fall back, they have us pinned down.”
“Hold your nerve private.” Growled Hyris “We are preparing for an assault on their position.”
“W-what!?” screeched Barmt over another nearby detonation. “We’ll get torn to pieces! They-” He was cut short by the hissing from Hyris’s vox-bead; Sirius’s voice rasped calmly stating that he was in position.
“Now!” Shouted Hyris, bursting into action and flinging himself over the wall, charging into the angry spray of bullets. Saul shrugged his massive shoulders at Barmt and followed his sergeant over the top. The six other members of the planetary defence squad followed and screamed as they sprinted the gap toward their enemy.
Hyris saw Demilon, a trooper who had served under him for half a decade; take a volley of autogun rounds in the chest. The trooper fell skidding onto his knees, the rounds had been mostly absorbed by his carapace armour, and the solider struggled to his feet before his head exploded with a wet thud, struck by another autogun round.
As Hyris ran he noticed the bright whip of Sirius’s long lass killing the foul cultists as they stood up to fire over their rough trench. But it was not enough.
He neared the cultists but was forced to dive into the cover of deep crater as a bright stream of fire lanced out at him. He could see that Saul was sheltering behind a ruined wall, and the rest of his squad was forced to stop the charge.
Hyris spat out his cigar he had bent in half when he landed in the crater, and he grimaced, autogun rounds sprayed about him.
He poked his head up to see young Barmt run on into the fire; he was struck in the shoulder by a stray round and flopped to the ground.
Saul watched too from his cover, Barmt laid flat down cowering in the rubble as bullets ricocheted and sprayed up dust all around him. The cultists were standing up in their trench firing, oblivious to the long las shots which picked them off slowly.
From his shelter, the brutish Saul saw Barmt squirm in fear and try to bury himself in the floor without much success. If the boy stood up he was dead, and if he lay still; sooner or later he would get killed anyway.
Something snapped inside Saul, he was damned if he was to sit there and let that boy die. He grasped the fire controls to his gatteling heavy stubber and its barrels rotated furiously. He nodded to Hyris before he jumped out from behind his shelter, gun slung at the hip ready to fire.
“Taste this you grox-fuc-” Then all sound was drowned out by the roar of fire from Saul’s cannon as he swept it across the cultists trench, ripping apart masonry and flesh in an unrelenting hail of bullets. A two-meter cone of flashing fire erupted form the weapon’s barrels. Saul’s face was contorted into a roar but his voice could not be heard above the din.
The cultists returned fire as their ranks were torn to ribbons; Saul flinched as an autogun round thudded into his chest with a burst of crimson mist, then another slammed into his right shoulder, the third ripped through his knee and forced him to collapse backward onto the rubble. Suddenly all was quiet as the roar of Saul’s weapon ceased. The air was filled with masonry dust and the smell of burnt flesh and spent ammo. Hyris saw a few remaining cultists emerge from cowering behind their trench.
Hyris ceased the initiative; “Charge!” he barked as he drew his revered powersword and ploughed up toward the crippled cultist’s line.
Hyris sat by Barmt as the boy received the medic’s attention to his shoulder. He had lit up another cigar and was lounged over a block of ferrocrete and blowing rings of smoke to the sound of Barmt wincing.
Out from the dust hopped Saul; a splint on his bad leg and wadding on the bullet holes in his chest.
“ ’Nother smoke stick, sir? Those things aint good for ya.”
Hyris smiled “Some people only live once.”
He stood up and strode off, nodding to Saul respectfully as he passed.
Barmt and Saul were silent together before the medic finished, patted Barmt on his good shoulder and left.
Barmt spoke after a time. “Thank you Saul … for saving me, I know you risked your life to-”
“Aww ‘twas nothing.” interrupted Saul. “Those cultists just make me so angry, funny things they are. C’mon lets get yoo a drink, lad, you’ve had a rough day.”
Barmt smiled “Thanks,” Saul lifted the lad to his feet. The giant and the boy both hobbled off helping each other to the mess tent. “Yea those cultists are funny;” Laughed Barmt “You know; I’m sure I saw one with four arms today, how stupid is that eh?”
Screams and shouts filled the air, blood dripped from his ears. Where the hell am I, thought the man. The blaze of fires in the distant skyline alerted him and it all rushed to him. They were under attack by beastmen. All around him was the clash of battle, metal rang off metal and prayers of mercy and oaths of defiance were spouted by other men around him. His mind pounded and he ached to lie on the ground and sleep, forever.
Then, just as suddenly as the sound and pain had come, realization hit him as if he was a man drowning in a lake that burst into the mighty air above. He was a swordsman of the Empire. He had to fight, he had to stand.
The man stuck his sword into the ground and stood leaning on it, he quickly adjusted his breastplate and took up his shield, fallen on the ground. He let the feelings of battle fill him, the smell of blood upon the ground. He heard the triumphant cries and the angered bellows of man and beast alike. He saw the bodies of the fallen, numbering at least a hundred of the man-like beasts and the men of the Empire who would never get up again.
The man rushed to join his regiment, but could find no familiar colors. Hell, I’ve forgotten my own regiment, he thought. He looked down to the heraldry of his shield but was then quickly grabbed by a swordsman and pushed into line.
Stunned, the man looked around and saw the same colors of his shield, black, white and red, the colors of the Crusade.
Smiles crept on the faces of a few men beside him. “About Sigmar-damned time you made it back, Braxton.” One had said.
Braxton, thought the man, My name, Matthieu Braxton, of the 1st Ostland Sword-arms. The Devil-Dogs, Braxton thought.
“Look to! Beasties on the charge!” Yelled the First-Sergeant, “Brace yourselves, lads! Detachments ready halberds!”
Matthieu was puzzled, wondering what his officer had said, but was then reminded of the beating of hooves upon the ground and horrid screaming of oxen, the beastmen where coming!
Matthieu, being at the second line, he raised his shield arm and brought his longsword to the ready. The beastmen would be here in seconds, but the wait felt like hours.
Then, finally, the beast men came and the front rank held by the skin of their teeth as the giant beasts bore upon them. The second rank, along with Matthieu, brandished their swords and stabbed at whatever opening there was. Matthieu chose rather large looking beast struggling against he shield in front of him and stabbed towards its eye, plunging deep into the soft tissue of its brain.
Matthieu gave a yell as blood and brains spattered on him when he dislodged the sword, but the beast was dead and the front ranks were holding.
“Halberdiers! Flank charge!” Shouted the First-Sergeant, “Run those T'auk'cka'era through!”
Matthieu heard worried cries and saw the devastating charge of the halberdiers, as the weighted weapons began cutting deep into the flesh of the beastmen. Matthieu watched in reverence as the First-Sergeant beheaded the beastmen’s champion.
Now, howling like a raving flagellant, Matthieu broke rank and ran past the first line, eager and full of battle lust. He darted back and forth, his raven black hair whipping him in the face as the wind picked up. He stepped and vaulted off the ground his sword raised high in one hand and his shield held low in the other, he cut forward and brought forth blood from a beast. With another slash he sawed of a beastman’s arm, making it fly through the air.
The beasts saw him as he cut wildly, and two met him in a standoff. The rest of the beastmen warband cleared a small dueling circle, as if they planned it carefully, had they not been fighting the swordsmen.
Two at once, damn my stupidity! Thought Matthieu.
The two beasts in front of him were massive and upon their armor they had skulls of many dead men. Upon their heads they bared the marks of chaos undivided, as if branded by their master. They bellowed low and guttural roars of rage, and they stunk of seared hair and flesh. These two beasts held ferocity unknown to Matthieu and it frightened him, but he had no choice but to fight.
The beasts charged and Matthieu counter-charged bellowing a prayer of Sigmar and a curse against the Hordes of Chaos.
The beasts brought down their massive axes at the same time and Matthieu side-stepped, spinning on his heel he dug his sword into one of the beasts, making it shout in frustration. The beast who went untouched by the sword then maneuvered to slash its axe upwards in an attempt to split Matthieu in half. Yet, Matthieu was too fast for these beasts and he dived to his right and avoided the axe.
Matthieu stumbled up and ran towards the on who was still recovering from his sword blow, and deftly slashed at its torso, making it howl yet again. The other beast hefted his axe above its head and aimed for the manling.
Matthieu spawned an idea from the depths of his mind. Matthieu, being in front of the already wounded beastman, grabbed its horn and pulled with all his strength, bringing the wounded beastman in front of the axe coming down.
In a matter of seconds the wounded beast was beheaded, by his own comrade, but the beheader didn’t even flinch. He then reared the axe to swing sideways, attempting to cut Matthieu in half, but again Matthieu dodged.
Matthieu got up from the ground, from his roll, and stabbed his sword upwards, spearing the attacker through the soft tissue of its lower jaw and slicing through its brain in one fell swoop.
The beastmen panicked at the site of loosing so many at such puny men, but they were outnumbered and they fled, only to be cut down by repositioned gunfire from cannons and handgunners.
The day had been won by the Empire, and this was only the beginning.
|22 Apr 2008, 14:19||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
A cloud of dust rose, reacting to a disturbance of the air. Such a thing had been denied to the underground network for millennia. Wintrow and his team looked on as the dust settled.
“Ok. Our orders are to proceed with caution. Rane, Gualo and Atria. You’re on point. Horast and Haido, guard our six. Anton and Isaiah on right wing, Orrick and Govind on the left. The last distress signal detected came from deep within. Practice caution above all else. Remember, one mistake puts all of our lives on the line. Let’s move out.”
Wintrow and his team advanced in formation, suspicious of everything within sight. The imprudent didn’t last on these specialist missions. That is why he and his men had been chosen to locate and rescue an archaeological team that had vanished during an intelligence survey, leaving in their wake only a series of distress signals.
The screams of the dead and dieing haunted Dr. Tobias as he fled.
He could hear them following him. His team had been butchered. They were coming for him.
The scraping had started around half an hour before they struck. He’d assumed it was merely one of his team carelessly allowing something to scrape one of the walls of the tunnel’s confines. But then came the low humming, the indistinct beeping. Something, or many somethings, was following them.
The first one had come upon them suddenly. Three of his team had died before any of them knew what was happening.
Oh, how they’d ran. It was like nothing he’d ever seen. Monstrous… Metallic.
Unsure of what had happened to the rest of his team, he’d pushed on.
Tobias crashed into a door which gave way reluctantly. He rushed into the stark chamber, slamming the door behind him.
A dead end.
In the darkness of the chamber, something heaved. An eternity of stillness shattered as its senses were flooded with images. These disturbances had woken it occasionally throughout the ages, though never had they come upon it so suddenly, or violently.
In the darkness of the chamber, something heaved. Limbs of immortal metal flexed and whirred, as eyes that had been lifeless crystals for sixty million years flared into life. One of its Master’s cattle had disturbed its slumber, and could not be allowed to leave.
They were almost commonplace now, their clarity increasing. They showed it things, impossible things. Things that went against all it knew, or more precisely all it didn’t know.
They were unwelcome, unforgiving. Again and again, they returned to torment it.
It had done something; something terrible…It now knew ‘them’ as memories.
And they were not going to let her forget.
The team of military personal stiffened. Wintrow signalled for a defensive formation. It was almost upon them, and its lack of subtlety suggested well-founded confidence.
Its arachnoid body appeared, taking up a large part of the tunnel. Wicked limbs of indestructible metal flashed forward with inhuman speed, striking Gualo.
“Open fire!” Wintrow roared above the pitiful scream of Gualo, crying out at the sight of his own innards flowing athwart the ground.
Laser beams assaulted the monster’s metal carapace to no avail. It picked up Rane, who in return bashed at a limb that was attempting to confiscate his head. For his efforts he was crushed to death by the claw that was holding him.
Their lasguns seemed to be having no effect upon it whatsoever.
The monster suddenly threw itself upon Isaiah, grinding him to a bloody pulp. Haido rushed forward as it was momentarily off-balance, and thrust the butt of his gun into its fluorescent green eyes.
Eyes splintered and damaged, it swung its limbs awhirl violently, and one connected with Haido. He went down heavily, and didn’t get up. They could hear more scraping, more humming. More beeping.
“Retreat! More are coming!” Wintrow yelled in a hoarse voice.
They stood before a great door.
“Horast, Anton, search the perimeter for any other entrances to this chamber. If none are found, we’ll hole up in here till help arrives” Wintrow’s voice lacked conviction.
“There are no other entrances, sir. Sir, perhaps one of us should return for Haido. He was still alive, probably only unconscious.” Horast whispered upon his and Anton’s hasty return.
“No. If he still lives, which is highly unlikely, a lone person would undoubtedly find only death out there.” Wintrow replied, indicating the dark abyss behind them. “There are no visible life signs coming from within the chamber. Point formation, proceed with caution.”
For a second Wintrow thought there had been a vague reading on the life-signs detector.
It had been nothing.
Seemingly alone in the darkness, seven noticeably frightened humans crept into a large room. Seven puny beams of light jerked erratically, occasionally touching a surface, though most faded into the blackness which seemed intent on suffocating them. Suddenly there was a cry from Orrick; a flash of light partially illuminated their immediate surroundings, and the sound of a short gun-burst resounded throughout the room. All flashlights zeroed in on the sound, trigger fingers twitching, only to see Orrick hauling himself to his feet.
“What the hell happened private? Control yourself.” Wintrow barked, his voice sharp.
“I tripped on something sir. It felt like…” Rane suddenly cried out in shock, scrambling backwards, away from something on the ground before him. Flashlights rushed to the site of his fear, and stifled sounds of shock and disgust rose from the men’s throats. There lay the mutilated remains of their primary objective, Dr. Tobias.
A sharp crack rent the air, and the men turned as one to find themselves facing a large stone sarcophagus.
THIS was too much. The Master’s cattle are getting out of control. It is time for the Necrons of this tomb to rise once again, and reap their Master’s harvest.
The Necron commander rose from it’s tomb, and the insignificant mortals were quickly acquainted with fear, whom in a matter of seconds they came to know intimately.
Then they knew only death and oblivion.
In the depths of the night, it rained. Lightning split the sky for a blinding split-second every other minute to illuminate the skeleton city. Because of it, night vision optics were practically useless. Lightning turned the wearer’s vision into a blurry green mess for several precious seconds and the rain screwed up the lenses. They were ditched. Private Hawkins’ squad crept through the shattered remnants of a middle class shopping district. The once pristine storefronts and gardens were now bombed-out shells of their former beauty. Instead of bright street lamps to light the way for civilian shoppers, oil fires and distant explosions lit the street for miserable soldiers, rats and buried corpses.
Rain pattered down onto Hawkins’ helmet and filthy gray overcoat. His comm-bead buzzed in his ear. One of the troopers said something stupid, and was greeted with a quick hush. Command had lost contact with a patrol in this area, and they were sent to find the people who did it and kill them. Three other squads were following behind. The lead trooper suddenly held up his closed fist and the squad froze in place. The sergeant crept up to the trooper and whispered in his ear. Hawkins’ comm-bead buzzed as the sergeant spoke to the whole squad.
“This is where command lost communications with the last patrol. There have also been reported contacts with the enemy in this area. Everyone keep on your toes and stay quiet. Move.”
As the squad continued its slow mission through the collapsed buildings, one thought wouldn’t leave Hawkins’ mind. The Enemy. He didn’t really know too much about their adversaries, just what they were briefed on before the arrived in this concrete jungle. Supposedly, the inhabitants of the planet’s largest faction wanted to secede for whatever reason, and they weren’t content with their part of the planet. They apparently butchered loyal Imperial servants, including members of the Adeptus Arbites. Hawkins saw pictures of dismembered bodies along the streets of the capital city, but they were grainy and unfocused. They might have been fake, but there was no way to be sure. Were the soldiers on the other side really that bad, or were they just told to fight for their government and do their patriotic duty? Hawkins didn’t know whether or not they were bad people, or if they were misguided and lied to by their leaders, but he did know that he was sent there to kill them, and that was what he was probably going to do.
The squad suddenly halted again, the man on point had his fist held up one more time. From up ahead, words in another language could be heard. Giving that Hawkins’ squad was the furthest Imperial unit into the district, the voices ahead must surely have belonged to enemy troops. The squad spread out, and readied their weapons. They would have to move in quickly and quietly to achieve complete surprise.
As one, the squad quietly advanced toward the voices. They could now see several soldiers standing around a small oil drum, warming themselves. Hawkins could now see that they were definitely not Imperial troops. The helmets were the wrong shape, and they were armed with locally manufactured autoweapons. One of the troopers near a wall stepped over a pile of rubble and through a thin wire. Shredder mines concealed in a small alcove waist-high exploded with a deafening blast, tearing the soldier in two. From out of nowhere, alarmed enemy soldiers opened fire. The point man instantly collapsed, the top half of his head missing. The sergeant was next. Several rounds blew through his chest armor, causing the sergeant to stumble backwards. He let loose on full auto with his lasgun as another volley brought him to the ground face first. The rest of the squad pulled a hasty retreat into the shelter of another bulding, only to find enemy troops waiting in ambush. Hawkins sprinted through the entrance to find himself face to face with an enemy soldier. He began to bring his autogun around when Hawkins kicked him in the stomach as hard as he could. The soldier bent double, gasping for breath. Hawkins burst his skull with several lasbolts. It all went so quickly. There was no time think, no time to feel.
As soon has the body of his vanquished foe hit the ground, several autogun rounds blew through the wall ahead of him. They caught him in the chest, bypassing his armor as if it wasn’t even there. They must have been using armor piercing rounds, Hawkins thought as he slid down the opposite wall. He heard the rest of his squad dying outside, but it seemed unimportant. He took his helmet off, it was heavy. Rain was drizzling down from holes in the roof onto the top of his head.
Hawkins drew in rasping breaths. He thought his lungs must be punctured. Through the doorway stepped an enemy soldier. Hawkins raised his head to look at him. The soldier didn’t look like the pictures of traitors or heretics that he saw when he joined the Guard. He wasn’t hunched, snarling or had rows of razor teeth. He was clad in an urban camouflage uniform and a normal looking helmet, and had a youthful face. The soldier gazed down at Hawkins with wide eyes, and bent down. He took grenades, food and anything valuable off of Hawkins. Hawkins was even relieved of the watch that his father gave him when he was mustered. Hawkins didn’t care. He didn’t need them anymore. The youthful enemy trooper stuffed his stolen goods into his pockets. With one look back, ran off into the night. That was the last thing Hawkins saw.
Supporting Imperial squads reached the ambush point minutes later, and the rain has stopped. As they searched the buildings, they fell upon Hawkins’ body. It was sitting against a wall of what must have been a small chapel. A painting of the Emperor was miraculously unblemished, arms held open as if in welcome. The clouds were suddenly gone, and the moon shone with unprecedented brightness. Through holes in the roof, the body of Hawkins was illuminated with its rays. The squad medic took his dog tags, marked the body for retrieval. The clouds reformed, and rain began to fall.
Captain Alphred Fissinger of the Silgran 2nd crept cautiously forward. He was on a lone mission, a recon of the enemy’s forward-most emplacements. He and his compatriots had been trading ground with the enemy for nigh on three weeks now, gaining little, and losing it the next day. The Blood Pact was a force to be reckoned with, Alphred thought. They had the discipline of a crack Guard unit, coupled with the dedication to the Dark Gods that made them so dangerous.
Alphred was no infantryman, he felt nervous on this mission. He had only his sidearm, a large-bore auto pistol. He had a silencer on to the barrel, so that the stentorian roar was reduced to a loud pop. His olive fatigues were back at camp; he wore a set of camouflage fatigues from the quartermaster’s supply, along with some more field gear.
He was hiding behind a small stream-bank, his leather boots were damp, and he could feel the icy touch of the crystal clear water shocking his toes. His field-glasses were held to his eyes, and he could make out several figures standing around a halftrack.
They were Blood Pact, about four or five were outside the barn. They were smoking and chatting in the misty morning, some were laughing as they gestured to the barn. One was leaning against the halftrack, looking out to the woods as he puffed a white cigarette.
Alphred readjusted, trying to hide. As he again looked through the binoculars, he saw the man was walking towards the woodland’s edge pointing. Alphred suddenly stiffened. A sick feeling shot to his stomach; his legs suddenly went numb.
They had seen the glint of sunlight off his field-glasses, and they were sprinting through the woods towards him, shouldering rifles.
Throwing caution to the winds, he launched himself to his feet. He bolted back across the stream, the field-glasses swinging and hitting him in the face. He ran as he never had before, leaping over logs and tearing through wiry underbrush, casting fearful glances backwards.
The Blood Pact troopers were gaining; they were in peak physical condition, and moved with a grace that belied their stocky appearance. Their stamped steel masks and helmets clanked against low-lying branches, as thorns grabbed their heavy crimson fatigues.
Alphred could see the clearing where his tank crew had dropped him off. He could see the silhouette of his tank, idling just inside the woods on the opposite edge of the clearing.
He leapt over a rock and burst from the woods, waving his arms and shouting.
Gunnery-Sergeant Haufman was scanning the woodlands for any sign of his commander. He swung the turret of the Vulcan-Class Macharius, the twin Mega-Bolters primed and ready to fire. His vox-pickup on the exterior of the tank picked up a small noise. He swung the turret around to see a figure running frantically towards the tank.
“All hands, to arms, he’s back in a hurry!” he called out into his vox-bead. Next to him, Ehren racked the loading belts to the left bolter, and Haufman did the same. He dropped the scope down, and the Heads-Up Display showed Fissinger running towards him. He could see a few figures behind Fissinger, firing lasguns with disturbing accuracy.
The whole turret seemed to shake like an open door in a hurricane. There was no distinguishing between shots, just a constant roar all around the men in the tank, completely masking the sound of the loading belts cycling.
Alphred could see the tank, and watched as the turret swung towards him. Lasbolts whipped past him, scorching the tall grass around him. He saw the barrels bearing down directly towards him, and he quickly dove to the ground. He landed hard, a rock slamming into his shin and ripping the skin open. He winced, but kept his head down.
The first salvo deafened him, the whine of the shells screaming over his head boring into his mind. There was an immense pressure on his skull; his ears and nose began to weep dark blood.
As suddenly as it began, it stopped. He blinked rapidly, wiping blood off his face. He was immensely lightheaded, but he managed to prop himself up on an elbow. Behind him, the first thirty yards of trees had been reduced to matchwood. No trunk stood higher than his knees, and piles of splintered wood littered the ground. The occasional red splash across a stump advertised the explosive demise of some unlucky trooper. He stood up, and stumbled towards the tank. He was still in a daze, and walked as if he was drunk, but he was almost to safety.
Jecemius Dalleth snapped his eyes open. His Grotesque lay next to him, in ruins.. He was lying in mud and splinters, a pool of blood mixing with the water below.
Were it not for his astounding resilience, he would have never regained consciousness. Blood covered his dented mask, and was soaked into his red fatigues. A massive chunk of wood was embedded in his hip.
Nonetheless, with the determination of the insane, he managed to stand against a fractured cedar. His hell-gun was still clutched in his bloody arms, and he raised it to bear. Even with his vision swimming with blood-loss, he couldn’t mistake the figure shambling towards the heavy tank. It was well camouflaged, the green, black, and brown stripes hiding it well. The man, however, couldn’t be missed.
Dalleth’s thumb flicked the safety off. He brought the sights to his eyes, taking unsteady aim.
Fissinger was at the tank, laughing as he watched Haufman pop the commander’s hatch and begin to climb out. His blood-soaked hands clawed at the hull as he tried to climb up.
He was confused, though. Haufman was shouting at him. He couldn’t hear what the hell he was saying. But Haufman was pointing at Fissinger’s chest. He looked worried.
Fissinger glanced down. He was surprised how white his ribs looked as they poked out of his chest. There was a massive bloodstain on the tank right in front of his chest. There were bits of cloth and skin fused to the steel, and blood was pouring from around the hole in his sternum.
He wondered absently what exactly had just happened as he fell to the ground.
|22 Apr 2008, 14:20||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
Alsythe watched his charge pacing anxiously back and forth across her chamber. She is Zereth, the Archon of the Kabal of the Bleeding Shadows, and he is Alsythe, one of her three remaining Incubi bodyguards. Just last week she had had a full ten incubi and two Heamonoculi, but now only had three Incubi and one Heamonoculi.
“I am sparing nothing. I have called in my most trusted weapon, a mandrake by the name of Srevyx Stormtracker. You are to answer all of his questions and help him in any way he requires.” She said, still pacing worriedly. Just then he noticed a faint shape in the shadowy corner of the hall, then two more in the other corner. Without even being able to see definite shapes, he realized with a shiver that these mandrakes would be able to kill him in an instant if his Lord had so command it.
Leaving the chambers, he saw one of the dark skinned brethren slide with a preternatural movement up to his side.
“Where is the other Heamonoculus?” It hissed.
“He has been shut in his room since the other Heamonoculus was assassinated, with nothing but grotesques guarding him.” He replied.
The mandrake slid to one of the doors and said “The dead Heamonoculus’ I presume.” Staring pointedly at the markings on the door he slid a strange knife out of one of his many pouches and jamming it into the crack in the door, carefully opening it. He walked in, still flanked by the two other silent mandrakes. “This room is as it was?” He asked staring pointedly at some cuts in the wall and blood splashed all over, with equipment and tables overturned.
“Yes,” Alsythe said slowly. This Mandrake can’t be that good, without figuring that out. He watched as the Mandrake walked to a myriad of strange cuts in the wall, sliding his fingers along it, then sniffing each cut.
“This cut,” the mandrake said, pointing at a long gouge with copious amounts of blood splattered around it “was made by a long knife, poisoned. I would also venture to say that it severed a limb, probably an arm.”
“And these?” Alsythe asked, pointing at many cuts that looked as though they were made by a wild beast in series’ of four parallel cuts to each mark. “A warp beast?”
“They have three claws. Also, these were made from shoulder level down, and across at chest level. They were also poisoned.” Srevyx said, “What worries me is that the blood from the one blade was not that of our dead Heamonoculus, and someone must have had the antidote.”
One of the silent mandrakes who had been checking a small chest tossed him one the many vials, half empty.
“Ok, but it isn’t labeled. Even if it is the antidote, someone would have had to have had great knowledge of poisons and antidotes to have known what it was-“ He said, then ran from the door down the hall and shouted back “I see no guards, hasn’t been seen, to the throne room, now!”
At the door were the two Incubi that had been guarding it, slouched down and ripped apart. Srevyx sprinted in the room, followed closely by Alsythe, the two silent mandrakes fanned out behind them. They saw in front of them Zereth speaking with the last remaining Heamonoculus and a wych from a kabal that worked closely with warp beasts. Alsythe pointed his shredder at the wych, but Srevyx hit his arm with a numbing force that Alsythe couldn’t believe it could produce. Just then he saw the Heamonoculus turn around, and noticed with mind numbing shock that both of his arms were of quite some interest. The right hand had a specialized Heamonoculus weapon, a scissor claw, while the left one was nothing more than the upper arm with a bandaged stub where the elbow should have been. He smiled and said “Welcome, you are just in time to see me kill this pathetic female and take my rightful place as the leader of the Kabal.”
The wych gasped with this sexist remark and drew her blade while both Srevyx and Alsythe moved forward to kill him.
“No,” said Zereth “I will dispatch this traitor myself.” She stepped forward and raised her staff toward the Heamonoculus. “As you have but one weapon, I will even it.” She said, allowing her whip to fall to the floor.
With this, she jumped forward. Just as she did so, dozens of grotesques poured into the room. The wych began slaughtering them, while Srevyx, Alsythe, and the two mandrakes worked to prevent more from coming in, but the momentary distraction as one came forward and grabbed her hair proved enough. She dispatched it with a blow, but as she turned, the Heamonoculus had swung its blades into her stomach. As she fell forward, she removed his head with one cut. The wych left the room, hunting the last of the grotesques. Alsythe walked forward and looked down on her.” Too bad, I guess I am the highest ranking person left. That means that with your passing, I will be Archon.”
He swung his sword down, but was surprised when at the last moment it was blocked, mere centimeters from her throat. As he saw the mandrake sword blocking his own, he felt an icy feeling at the back of his neck. While the world went black, the last thing he heard was Srevyx say “Don’t worry my Lady, I will save you.” Then he saw a vial from the Heamonoculus’ room open, and knew no more.
He couldn't hear anything. His vision was blurred. Gradually his senses started to return and he smelt burning and smoke. After a short while Brother Camadus gathered some strength and dragged himself behind the safety of a large boulder. He leant there, patiently, trying to figure out what had happened. Where were Sergeant Vanguinius, and the rest of his brothers? Leaning, across the boulder Camadus could just see what appeared to be the remains of a Rhino, coveted in smoke and flames. He tensed. He could hear voices:
"The little b*st*rds never new what hit 'em,"
"Hurry up! You know what he'll do if we're late again."
As the voices started to fade away Camadus glanced at the back of the beings who had just taken the lives of his fellow marines, without a care in the world. He could make out the markings and unkempt look of they're armour. They were Plague Marines.
Camadus waited a while after the Chaos troops had been lost from view, just to be safe. As soon as he thought it was clear he made a dash for the wreck, still burning gently. He saw his beloved friend, Vanguinius. He felt his stomach wretch a little at the state he was in. But this wasn't the time to grieve. Though he couldn't help finding a way to blame the tw*ts of the Blood Angels who had banished them from any world occupied by Space Marines. If it wasn't for them.........If it wasn't for them none of these great soldiers would be dead right now!
There was something Camadus hadn't yet realised. He was being watched by a small group of Cultists, about five by his reckoning. Unfortunately for him, Camadus was too busy looking for any weaponry that hadn't been melted by the damn plasma. After a while he managed to find a chainsword which was in a good enough condition to use, if he needed it: he hoped not.
Camadus had heard the Cultists whispering about their new find. Stupid and ambitious: he smiled to himself. They were unlike him; he wasn't stupid enough to try and win a fight, he knew he would be instantly surrounded and slain. Instead he decided to walk in the opposite direction at a brisk pace, admiring the lush green hills and sandy shore as he went, or so his watchers thought.
After walking around a sharp corner he casually ducked into a small ditch at the bottom of a hill, and waited.
It wasn't long before the cultists arrived. They walked straight up to the cliff face and sat down, obviously puzzled as to where the marine had gone, to Camadus' amusement though his merriness soon left him as he began to feel hate and anguish. He knew exactly what he wanted: he wanted revenge.
After thoroughly thinking through several techniques he decided he would just show himself and take them all at once, like a true marine should. He pulled himself out of his hiding place, making a lot of noise as he did so as he wanted the Cultists to know he was there early on. He stood there, motionless, looking straight into their eyes, left hand clenched, the other tightly gripping the chainsword. He was ready. One of them was obviously a bit too eager for his own good; he ran straight at Camadus only to have the sword slashed across his torso, spilling his blood and guts. Only four left. The other three weren't so stupid, shame, he thought. They spread out and started to walk forward, Camadus just stood there, looking down. They quickened their pace, Camadus was motionless. They charged at the marine: he had been expecting it. He ran forward and beheaded the leader, then with great flexibility swung round and smashed the chainsword straight through the second Cultist’s side: one more to go. He turned just in time, dodging a blow from the final Cultist and retaliating with sheer force; Camadus thrust the sword through his opponent’s body and twisted before wrenching it back out.
The Space Marine casually strapped his trusty chainsword to his waist, turned his back to the limp bodies and started walking off back the way he had come.
The Administratum chamber was filled with noise. It sounded like a waterfall, one solid sound that drowned out everything. It was the sound of writing; ten thousand quills scratching together, ten thousand inkpots chattering in their holders as the quills dipped in, tapped the edge, and resumed their toil. Though Inquisitor Lorthe would never say so, he found the place more disturbing than anything he faced on the front lines.
“You wished to see me, Inquisitor?”
The heavy oak doors brought merciful respite from the scribe chamber. Lorthe swept across the polished teak floor, eyes locked on the marble dais ahead of him.
“You are Plagiarmaster Svelt, yes?”
The creature on the Dais nodded slowly. It was a foul amalgamation of man and machine; a human form suspended in a close-fitting trapeze of metal rods and pipes. They stood out of his neck, pulling the old skin taut. Mercifully, the majority of his bionics were hidden behind the podium. On his left was a slack-jawed Child Servitor, its bare flesh puckered with fresh wounds where the Mechanicus’ surgery had inserted their devices. Its one remaining eye stared vacantly, the other shrouded in a brass skull-cap.
“You will forgive any impertinence, Inquisitor, but I am a busy man. What is it you require of me?”
Lorthe glanced briefly at the second Servitor; an attractive adolescent female who had been lobotomised and transformed into a walking dicto-scribe. Her six metal arms clicked as they wrote every spoken word.
“I am here on official business.” He nodded to the dicto-scribe, and drew his finger across his neck. Svelt nodded, and tapped a small device on the side of his plinth. The Servitor’s limbs went slack.
“And the other one, if you please.”
Hesitating this time, Svelt pushed a second button. The child-machine’s eye shut.
“What is this about, Inquisitor? What purpose could be so dire that no other man can know of it?”
Lorthe slowly removed the Inquisitorial Seal from his breast pocket, and placed it on the dais with deliberate slowness. “I am here as a representative of the Emperor’s Most Holy Order of Inquisitors. This seal confirms the authenticity of my claim. I require access to the Cogitator Banks in the Serenity Chapel. You will permit me access.”
“Those banks are sealed,” Svelt began, but was silenced by Lorthe’s stern repetition.
“You will permit me access.”
Svelt’s tongue made a nervous pass over his dry, cracked lips. He reached to press another plinth-rune, but Lorthe’s gauntlet stopped him.
“If you have trouble walking, I will drag you.”
Beads of sweat formed on Svelt’s head. Shaking with frailty and fear, the Plagiarmaster hobbled away from the audience chamber, the Inquisitor strolling behind with an aura of stern authority.
A brief march through the winding back-chambers brought the pair to the darkened Librarium. The air stank of the death of literature, books and scrolls piled high and left to rot upon their burial plinths. Spider-like creatures swung on the ceiling, hanging by webs of cable, brass limbs hauling their bulk through the maze of shelves, filing data crystals and manuscripts no soul would ever read again.
“This is not the Chapel,” Svelt stated coldly.
“N-no, but this is the shortest route, I assure you.”
Svelt drew his ornate Bolt Pistol. “Plagiarmaster, I have reason to suspect your honesty.”
The old man looked up at the Inquisitor, eyes wet with terror.
“Forgive me,” he whispered. “He said he would kill me.”
A shot rang in the darkness, scorching the metal framework of the door. Svelt went down, rolling behind a shelf labelled DAMNATUS IX – XIII, from which several scrolls were blasted as the shooter tracked his movements.
“Stop firing! You’ll destroy the Archive!”
The complaints of the Plagiarmaster ended with a Bolt Round. Svelt rose, tracking, firing at shadows as he sought better cover.
“Your heretical aid is dead! Show yourself and face judgement!”
Lasfire replied. Above him, a Data-crystal exploded. A leather bound book took flight and burned as a bolt winged its spine, throwing burning papers into the next isle. Servitors above, detecting the flames, began to scuttle toward the scene.
Svelt reached the end of the row. Footsteps on the ground, not completely hidden by the layer of dust, told him his prey was near. He dove, Bolter roaring, and found his mark. A black robe twisted at the sound, the bronze plaque next to his head rupturing from a Bolt strike. The second shot hit him in the chest, and threw him back out of sight. Rising slowly, Svelt approached the corpse. He wore a midnight blue body-glove, now stained with blood and innards. In his hand was a bright blue laspistol, and an equally colourful leafblade. Both, Svelt knew, were crafted from plastics that conventional weapon-detectors would not locate.
He span, gun raised, and confronted the second figure. He looked like a statue lining the Palace, a towering figure of golden armour and ermine furs. One hand rested on a jewel-encrusted sword hilt, the other powered gauntlet raised to wave away Svelt’s weapon.
“Lord Tavernus,” Svelt acknowledged, lowering his weapon.
“You have done well. I was worried at first, my former pupil, but now I believe you are ready.”
Svelt looked at the corpse of his assailant once more. “You staged this? You staged an attempt on my life on Holy Terra?”
“Constant vigilance,” Tavernus said calmly. Svelt subconsciously mouthed the words, having had them drummed into him for as long as he could remember.
“What about him?” Svelt asked, pointing to the corpse of the Plagiarmaster.
Tavernus shrugged, ducking slightly so fire-control Servitors could move their cargo along the ceiling-rails. The smell of burning Oak was now quite strong.
“Loss is acceptable, Svelt. Failure is not. You must always be vigilant for threats to yourself, your Ordo and the Imperium itself, no matter where you are or whom you are with. Remember this.”
“I shall remember,” Svelt replied.
|22 Apr 2008, 14:21||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
They huddled in tight. Hunched, but still squirming restlessly in the grey ruins of an old commuter train station. Dust, the same grey as the building—actually what was once the building—filtered down onto their chitinous exoskeleton. A recent series of detonations from a Chaos orbital barrage near them had dislodged everything again. But the stingwings were unharmed, and while the stones, and bricks and mortar dust settled back into place, the strain looked to their leader.
The strain leader faced his team. He flicked his wings to knock the dirt off him. Abruptly he began clicking, buzzing and his antennae—under the ceramic armour of his communion helm—whirled and flicked out at various angles. Meanwhile, the strain leader stepped in place to a rhythmic parade.
The team watched their leader’s briefing. Trying to hide their fear by twitching their wings and hoisting their blasters they read/heard their orders.
Multiple enemy units in route to main location. Stingwings to engage and flank main column for harassing operation. Ensure enemy does not deviate from current route. Be advised, Raptors in your area. Destroy them if there is an opportunity.
The strain leader made one more buzzing noise, spread out and follow me.
They quit the ruins of the station, and flew below the suspended monorail track of the commuter train, slaloming the pylons where they had not been blown out by the successive barrages of the enemy. In and out of the light they flew, through the dust and smoke like a heavy mist, their wings churned swirling eddies of turbulence behind them. Chattering and humming they called out their presence to the enemy.
It did not take long. The wailing scream of a squadron of Chaos Raptors, audible before they were visible sent the stingwings into cover, but not quickly enough. The stingwings looked up the sky as gold and red streaks of mutated power armour fell upon them. Bolts exploded around them, and one of their number was vaporized in a white-hot gush of plasma. The Raptors rose out of their strafing run, alighted on an intact section of the rail, howling out their victory above the hiding stingwings.
The strain leader signaled to the remaining six members of his flight, as the Raptors lobbed their grenades, the stingwings leapt to the air. The Raptors were unprepared for the return assault, terror being their primary weapon. The stingwings fired their neutron blasters from the hip. Coruscating beams of purple and green hues erupted about the Raptors. Two of the blaster shots intersected in the torso of one of the Raptors, cracking open the ancient armour and eviscerating the traitor marine in a miniature aurora display.
The rising stingwings continued their arc over the Raptors. And for all of the surprise of the stingwing’s attack, the Raptors were still marines and recovered quickly. Two of the Raptors shot back, the other two leapt at the stingwings at the apex of their jump.
Ceramite shrouded fingers found purchase on the strain leader’s armour, pulling both the marine and stingwing leader off the top of the rail section. Twisting and flailing out of control, the strain leader attempted to pull up his blaster, but the Raptor knocked it away. Plummeting together, the Raptor was confident his ancient armour and patron daemons would protect his fall, he grasped the panicking stingwing holding him down to impact the rapidly approaching ground first.
The diamond hard talons frantically scraped at the howling mask of the Raptor and managed to pry into the joints of the suit. Pulling with every bit of strength and pushing with his wings the strain leader managed to start somersaulting in the air. The Raptor in his armour was considerably heavier than the stingwing and inertia plowed him into the ground. While the stingwing attempted to use the mass of the marine to break his fall and his wings to slow him down, it was not enough, and the strain leader crumpled into heap on top of the traitor marine.
The strain leader opened his eyes. His communion helm still functioned, the internal HUD blinked out a message from command. Outside the helm dust settled around the two half buried bodies. The first thing he noticed was that his claw was buried in a squishy mess that moments before was the neck of the Raptor, the force of the impact having driven his talons through the seams in the ancient armour.
The next thing he noticed was three stingwings of his remaining flight approaching his broken body. He looked up into their faces. One began clicking and chattering, one escaped, the others are dead, we’re left. He signaled to his two companions, we need to pick him up.
The strain leader replied negatively. Instead, he pulled his mangled claw from the inside of the fallen Raptor. With a quick snap, he separated the communion helm and the stingwing kneeled to retrieve it.
Sergeant Allen Fox barely registered the targets before him, as they appeared and then disappeared in the blizzard of las blasts tearing through the narrow rockcrete corridor. Fragments of rockcrete were thrown into the air with each missed shot, filling the corridor with dust while blood pumped from the corpses littering the floor and grenade smoke filled the air.
One of the troopers to his left fell as his chest exploded from within, splashing the walls and ceiling bright crimson. It was then that Fox realized that a new enemy had appeared. Taller than any human had a right to be and armored from head to toe with ceramite plates adorned with spikes, scraps of flesh, and strange and terrifying sigils that were painful to look upon. The Chaos Marine was roaring a blasphemous litany as his bolter cut down another of the Storm Troopers. Fox switched his aim to the chaos marine without thought, his hellpistol sending bolt after bolt of lasblast streaking into the armored plates of the twisted astartes, but his shots did little more than discolor the paint work. The Chaos Marine laughed as he shot down two more of the storm troopers, advancing down the corridor still shouting hellish prayers. Fox did not have time for fear but he was worried, worried that he would not reach his destination, that the foul creatures of the warp would spill forth, that the Imperium would suffer, suffer because of him, because he was too weak, and that he could not allow.
Drawing forth his power saber Fox screamed “For the Emperor!” as he rushed the chaos marine, the astartes seemed surprised at the childish attempt to charge him, but instead of shooting Fox down, the chaos marine let go of its bolter with one hand and drew forth a serrated combat knife to meet the charge. The surviving storm troopers, with bayonets fixed, rushed after their sergeant, echoing his cry as they fired. The chaos marine shot one of the troopers almost lazily before swinging his combat knife at Fox. The sergeant ducked under the blow and brought his saber around with the speed of long practice to take the marine’s arm off at the elbow. The chaos marine screamed more in rage than in pain and swung his bolter around like a club with blinding speed. The bolter smashed into fox like a canon blow, sending him crashing against the shattered rockcrete wall with enough force to shatter his helmet.
Fox crumpled to the ground, his helmet falling away as blood ran into his eyes. He tried to see through the blood and the spinning in his vision to the chaos marine as it stood over him, its bolter muzzle trained at his face. This was it. This was how he would die.
But the bolter didn’t fire. Instead, the wall behind the chaos marine exploded, and the traitor spun around through the shower of debris, to come face to face with a gun-metal grey space marine wielding a giant halberd. The space marine rammed the blade through the traitor’s torso and lifted him into the air, unloading his bolter into the chaos marine’s face. The traitor’s head disintegrated, raining foul smelling blood and fragments of ceramite on Fox. The marine casually flipped his halberd to the side, sending the headless corpse crashing into a heap on the ruined floor. Fox’s head was swimming, his vision was spinning, but he just managed to raise his gaze to stare at the grey armored marine as he bent over him and…
Fox awoke with a start, sitting bolt upright in his bunk, cold sweat soaking his shirt and sheets. He was breathing hard as his mind struggled to comprehend what had happened. He was in a Spartan barracks cell of the Ordo Malleus vessel the Herald of Vengeance en route to Nemesis Tessera. He was Sergeant Allen Fox of the 2nd Squad, VIIth Company of the Cadian 1173rd Storm Trooper Regiment in service to Inquisitor Lord Torquemada Coteaz. That thought seemed to steady his mind and he felt his heartbeat returning to normal. Slowly he pulled off the covers and sat on the edge of his bunk, wiping the sweat from his face with the back of his hand. In his mind he still saw the grey armored giant standing over him, but he couldn’t recall the rest of the dream, the nightmare, the memory… he couldn’t tell which it was. He had served the Ordo Malleus for twenty years and could remember very few of his missions. Mind-wiping, that was the norm for an Inquisitorial Storm Trooper. The things he saw on his missions were sanity shattering. Those who survived the missions often needed to be mind wiped, erasing the corrupting memories. For some reason, though, he still called upon skills he could no longer remember learning, and had nightmares that he could never quite recall though he knew they were a regular occurrence.
With a groan he stood up and walked to the small desk sitting in the corner, he opened the top drawer and took out a bottle of sleeping pills. He popped the cap and spilled a couple of the little blue tablets out into his palm. Rolling them in his hand Fox stared at the tiny blue pills for a moment then popped them into his mouth and swallowed them. He closed the bottle and put it back in the drawer, then went back to his bunk, back to his routine, back to the nightmares. He was an Inquisitorial Storm Trooper, and he served the Emperor. That was all that mattered.
Shas'ui Elan'Ka steadied his suit as his Fireknife destroyed the armored human warrior and his retinue. Though he smiled at the thought of defeating such a worthy set of foes, his attention was brought to the sight of two squads of the armored humans, intent on avenging what appeared to be their leader. Elan'Ka riskily landed his suit in a dense tangle of wrecked human spacecraft, in between the two squads of enemies. He had been declared Monat by his Fire Caste Superiors, a lone warrior whose time in the battle suit gave him a form of combat neurosis, and Elan'Ka reasoned that if he presented himself as a worthy target for the humans, he could buy enough time for his bloodied but unbowed fire warriors to reposition on better ground.
Besides, it would not be a tragedy to fall in honorable combat and be reunited with his slain Tau'lissera Bond Brothers in the great Beyond. They fell three months ago in campaigns against these same armored humans.
The fire warriors took their cue from their patrol leader, and quickly rushed towards higher ground, hoping that the sacrifice of their greatest warrior would not be in vain.
The closest human squad reached Elan'Ka's position, their oaths-cries towards some faraway Emperor flooding Elan'Ka's sensors. Their guns and the flashes of chainswords impacted upon his armor, and Elan'Ka whispered a soft benediction to his Shas’la as he swung his battlesuit around in retaliation. His shield drones protected against much of his opponents assaults, buzzing in close by him, but the pilot grunted as he felt a close-range bolter shot pierce his armor just as he felt one of the warrior's armor buckle and under his attacks. Though the flood of stimulants rushed over his body, they could not hide the distinct feeling of blood from his right arm flowing slowly but inevitably through the upper part of his suit.
He could hear his fire warriors unleashing plasma carbine fire upon the squad of men (whom seemed to call themselves Mar’Eins) further away from him, delaying their advance onto his position. His two drones made a pitiful squealing sound as human swords found their mark. A part of him almost felt sad-though they were merely machines, they had served him well in two entire campaigns. He had even nicknamed them after his two Bond Brothers, whom he liked to think were watching over him from the Beyond-yet another sign of Monat neurosis by his superiors. Kicking his suit foot, Elan’Ka felt a distinctive morbid satisfaction as the sound of cracking ceramite. A Mar’Ein crumpled to the ground, and the last thing Elan'Ka distinctly remembered was sinking deeply into the zone-that pocket of space he entered more and more frequently after being diagnosed with battle neurosis. He became one with his suit, firing off blast after blast of his rifle in time with powerful swings from his XV8.
He re-emerged to a scene of utter carnage, the bodies of three Mar’Eins lay before him, yet he saw with dismay that in the distance, two more humans were charging towards his Shas’la. Their valiant efforts had rewarded them-Elan'Ka saw fumes emerging from three armored bodies lying cold upon the ground, yet he saw too that one of the fire warriors had fallen; the blood of La'Kas, a veteran of the battles of Dal'yth, slowly stained the grass.
Elan'Ka fired shots into the Mar’Eins, but disoriented and reeling from loss of blood, he only managed to attract their attention, who chose now to charge this closer and more vulnerable target. As one of the Marines brought up what the Fio'Caste referred to as a "Heavy Boltgun" in a thrust to the suit's vulnerable head sensors, Elan'Ka fired his Plasma Rifle reflexively, punching a small hole in the Marine's armor. Stunned, the remaining Mar’Ein rushed forward, screaming something about attaining vengeance and honor for something called a “Chap’Ta.”
Elan’Ka parried reflexively, swinging his suit’s massive arm around in a powerful, if inelegant sweep. Though the pain from his arm shocked him, the sheer mass of his suit knocked the Mar’Ein aside, and Elan’Ka took this opportunity to engage his jump pack in order to gain ground from which to fire his weaponry. Yet the Mar’Ein recovered in astonishing time, and before Elan’Ka could fully lift off, the human leapt into the air, his chainsword raised at an angle in both hands to skewer the Shas’ui. Pivoting to the left, Elan’Ka felt the screech of metal upon metal as the chainsword began to bury itself into the chest of his suit. For a split second, the two combatants were momentarily entangled-and in the second Elan’Ka raised up his left suit arm and pressed his Plasma Rifle close to the strange symbol upon the Mar’Ein’s chest armor, and fired. The Shas’ui shut his eyes before he could witness the effects of point blank plasma fire, though his suit sensors could not block out the surreal, charred smell of ceramite and flesh fused together. Exhausted, and with the last of the stimulants quickly fading from his bloodstream, Elan’Ka ordered his Shas’la to report in. As he slipped into unconsciousness, the thought briefly flickered in his head that the presence of such elite human warriors so close to the newly created Fio colony of Chi’Fol’Het would be of paramount interest to his superiors.
By the time the fire warriors reached their patrol leader, they were astonished to see Shas'ui Tash'Var Elan'Ka by the bodies of five Mar’Eins.
|22 Apr 2008, 14:26||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
It was raining. Hard. We lay there in the heaped rubble that had once been a building and listened to the thunder of distant artillery. The rain poured down around us, filling the craters and depressions in which we hid and soaking us even further. Now and then a shell would come our way, whether by accident or design didn’t matter. We would dig deeper into the rubble as the high-pitched whistle split the night and the shell came screaming down to explode among the ruins.
We had been sneaking into position since the sun set behind the broken horizon and the smoke-filled sky faded to black. Inching forward through twisted girders and broken walls, we headed towards our goal, Building 16-5-27, a local rebel stronghold. Small but strategically valuable, it had held against all bombardment, a defiant wedge into Imperial territory.
That’s where we came in, the 110th City Assault Troops. When the Armen Sector Reclamation began, the regiment had twenty thousand men and I was just a sergeant leading a veterans squad. Seven years and ten planets later, the regiment had been practically obliterated, brought back up to strength, and whittled down once more. Now I was the colonel of ninety-three battle-hardened survivors.
I glanced back down the scarred road to see if everything was ready. The three hulking Demolishers were parked as far back as possible, positioned behind the mounds of rubble that spilled from collapsed buildings. With their camo netting they were all but invisible in the night. Satisfied, I turned my attention to my regiment.
There were three loosely organized platoons, each composed of several squads. Armed with whatever they had or could scavenge, they were closer to dedicated veteran squads than anything else. It made sense in a way; anyone who survived this long was automatically a veteran.
Nodding to myself, I looked back to the building. It was a formidable position. The doorways had been barricaded with girders and ruble, the windowsills built up with sandbags, and narrow, well-placed firing slits cut in the rockcrete walls.
Suddenly the rain stopped and as I continued to study the building, I was struck with a strange feeling. It felt as if a cold, cold wind was blowing right in my face. The rumble of the artillery seemed even more muffled and remote, and the smell of the dead city – the smell of rust, dust, and decay – rose up around me.
I shook my head and muttered a few verses of a battle hymn, steadying myself for the coming fight. I could almost feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins as seven years worth of anger and hatred swelled within me. My blood roared in my ears as I silently addressed the traitors in the building: Your death is at hand. Reveling in it all, I drew my bolt pistol and quietly racked the slide. Reaching down with my right hand, I sent two clicks across the vox net.
Though my gaze was still locked on the building, I could see the men tense, preparing themselves for the leap forward. Behind me the tank gunners would be locking the breaches of their mighty cannons and picking their targets.
With a baleful smile, I sent one final click across the vox net and the tanks’ demolisher cannons boomed as one. The shells screamed over our heads with a piercing shriek to impact the building, stunning those inside. We leapt up from our water-filled holes and sprinted towards the building, ninety-four figures in the gray and black of the CAT. The traitor sentries were gunned down with ruthless accuracy and we were halfway across the broken street before the rebels could react. Return fire stabbed out from the building and all around me men began to fall.
As we closed with the building, our flamers opened up. The dull roar sounded in the night as they raked their flames across windows and firing slits, filling the air with the screams of dying rebels. We finally reached the building and slammed against the base of the wall. The squads whipped out their special breaching charges and drove the anchors deep into the reinforced rockcrete.
The charges went off with a blast that filled the air with dust and left us all temporarily deaf. Grenades and flames went into the gap and we soon followed. Charging over the charred rebel bodies, the sickening smell of burnt flesh hit us with an almost physical force. We steeled ourselves and kept going. This building had to fall.
Bursting into a hallway, I smashed my way through the closest doorway. I blasted apart the first traitor I saw and hacked down the next with my power sword. We had to move quickly or the inevitable counterattack would wipe us out. As I slashed another rebel soldier across the throat, his blood spurting out over me, I yelled over the vox, “Third Platoon, secure the perimeter! Everyone else, cleanse this place! Kill every last traitor! Leave none alive!”
Swept up in the frenzy of slaughter, we rampaged across the first floor in one huge, swirling melee. I plunged my sword into the gut of a traitor and ripped him in half. Through the jagged holes in the ceiling, the rebels above hurled grenades into the midst of the fighting. Our flames rushed up in reply as we fought our way to the stairs. Taking the steps two at a time, I blew apart the door with a string of bolt shells. We stormed through the flying splinters and crashed into the rebels.
The fighting was even more ferocious than on the first floor for the traitors had no retreat. They sold their lives dearly and the floors ran with rivers of blood.
Dawn was just breaking when, caked with dried blood and exhausted after hours of repelling numerous counterattacks, we silently turned the building over to a company from a freshly reinforced regiment. The recent recruits gagged at the pervasive stench of death and stared at us with a mixture of awe and terror. The grim-faced veterans merely watched impassively as we trooped towards the waiting Chimeras. Once aboard, I slumped back in my seat and thought to myself, We’ll get them, even if we have to do it one building at a time.
Despite the confined space of the narrow sludge tunnel his team advanced through, Adeptus Arbite First Sergeant Krell was sure he could feel a chilling wind sweeping past his body-encasing assault armour. He knew it was impossible for the wind to reach this deep into the city, this was the very bottom of the multi-billion tonnes rockcrete slab that was the Northern Hive, the Capitol of the Chiefdom of Al-Nour, and the wind hadn’t reached this part for thousands of years. Still, something made the air shiver, something was down here.
They had been out for a few hours, their mission; to find the alleged wyrd known as ‘the Manipulator’. Only the most extreme criminals made the Adeptus Arbites venture this deep into the underhive, and on their way here, seeing the filth and the dregs living this low, Krell had realised that here his squad were the outsiders.
A sudden noise yanked Krell from his thoughts.
“Movement up ahead. Possible contact” The voice belonged to Baras. Reliable Baras, always the first to advance, and the last to fall back when the situation called for it. Baras had saved Krells life on at least three occasions, and Krell had promised himself to repay that dept many times over.
“I’ve got at least three hostiles.” Krell could see the individuals Baras was referring to. They were moving slowly, almost lumbering, but closing in on the Arbites none the less. Letting his flashlight play over their bodies, Krell noticed they were a lot more than just three of them.
“Form defensive line. Suppression shields at the front.” His squad quickly followed his orders. They were a well-drilled unit, moving like a single body, knowing exactly when to strike and when to take cover behind their electro-charged shields.
“Fire upon contact!” The first Arbite shotgun blast raged through the tight-packed assaulters, the noise ringing and echoing around the tunnel, dizzying. More blasts followed, felling dozens of the strange attackers. Amidst the roaring discharges of the shotguns, Krell realised that the strange individuals closing in on them didn’t make a sound, neither when they charged or when they were ripped apart by the shotgun blasts. They must be the ‘mind-puppets’, the slaves of the wyrd they were here for. He must be close.
“Fight your way through! Shields to the sides. Frag them!”
Checkos acted immediately. A single frag grenade left his grenade launcher barrel, landing about ten metres ahead of them. Seconds before detonation Krell’s entire squad crouched, and the rippling explosion tore an opening path through the tight-packed bodies of the enemies, without damaging the Arbite squad in the slightest. Krell felt a sting of pride in his spine. He had trained them well.
Using their shields as combined battering rams and dozer blades, the squad moved quickly through the dazed attackers. Ahead of them, Krell could see a single up-right person, clothed in a long, flowing rag. That had to be him, ‘the Manipulator’. Closing on him rapidly, Krell could see the wyrd seemed hesitant, like he realised his time was up. Then suddenly, without warning, ‘the Manipulator’ struck. Dark lightning flared from his palms, searing straight through Checkos, his body slumping to the ground as his hair caught fire and his face melted. Baras and Andru returned fire but their shotgun blasts caught nothing but air. The wyrd struck again, his dark lightning ricocheting of the tight tunnel walls. Krell and Baras were safe behind Baras suppression shield, but Andru and Lodor weren’t so lucky, Lodor losing a leg while Andru just fell apart. Seeing his chance, Baras stormed forward, power-maul drawn and swinging. His first blow was stopped by some unseen force-field, but his second blow hit home, clearly crushing the shoulder of the traitorous wyrd. As the psyker slumped to the ground, Krell stepped up beside Baras, his shotgun pointed at ‘the Manipulators’ head.
“The Emperor sentence you to death, heretic!” As Krell pulled the trigger and saw the wyrds head explode in a mist of blood and bone, he was sure he could hear a whisper in the back of his head:
“The faith in your Emperor won’t save you. Even as you slay me, know that the time of my Master is here.”
The funeral pyres burned, with the scent of diesel fuel. An all too familiar smell to the eight who came to give their words.
"Rem used to say to me...kid, Ill lend you fifty...Just do me a favor.
What? Id say.
"I know you`d kill a hundred tonight, but I need you to buy the drinks...you can do that for me right?
"I didnt question it, but I wouldnt mind doing that for Rem."
A scruffy looking man with a bandage on his arm interrupted.
"Wouldn't mind doing it? Rem knew you stacked the deck, hell we would have kicked your D'yi if you hadn't bought the drinks Cardshark.
Each of the men held their tounges, but finally laughed at once; Cardshark shook his head at his "brothers", until the laughter subsided.
"So Patch, how did you meet up with Rem?"
Patch sat down, his knees locked into his chest.
"Must have been a year now."
"DAKKA! DAKKA! DAKKA!" the crude tounge of the ork had only been bested by the roar of his gun; in his frenzied sight were the remnants of the 7th Gue`vesa auxiliary unit, climbing through holes left by the earlier barrages.
The day was at its brightest, but the humans had made a great folly meeting the orks on open ground, and the buzzards looked ready to feast.
"Get your D'yeri moving, were not dying here..." Rem called back to his unit.
Bullets whizzed past their heads but Rem pushed to get his eight man cell out; luckily... the orks were notoriously bad shots...
"Where are we going Rem?"
Rem didn't look back, it was mere afterthought compared to the Orkish contraptions that suddenly decided to cease.
Out of ammo?
the sound sent chills down Rems spine...where the hill had once hosted lines of ork gunners, now flooded with the feet of ork, the mere impact of their steps punished the earth. It was the making of a green tide...one that would have made an average man consider turning a pistol on himself before his foe, but not Rem, there was far too much riding on this.
Shaking his chills he proceeded to yell out to his unit as an opening ravine appeared before them.
"Talon, Kiev, Maroe with me. Were going to split in two directions."
"Alright" the men said under their exhausted breaths.
The trembling of the earth came closer and closer.
"Mont`ya!, Kooba!, Raren!, Sareth! do you see that hill on the left side of the ravine?"
The team broke off Rem, as Sareth fell to a slug...his cell looked back at him but they knew he was dead..the body disappearing underneath the trampling of feet.
"What do you have planned Rem?"
Trying to control his breath, Rem answered back scoldingly.
"No time to explain, Just do it!
Pointing to the right side, Rems detachment broke right as soon as he made a move for it. Each of their steps became a chore, as the hill drew closer, Rems position up front soon hinged towards the back.
"Are you ok Rem?" Mont`ya looked worried, but he had to respect Rem.
As soon as they reached the right side of the Ravine, Rem broke off heading towards the middle, the team members oblivious to his move. Members hinged over the left side of the ravine looked down, shouting out to Rem
"DAMN IT REM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?"
The members of the right detachment had just caught on to...but they didn't shout...they allowed Rem his way...the orks were following him
"DAKKA! DAKKA! DAKKA!"
Slugs fired by the dozens, most missing....some succeeding.
Rems body suddenly stopped... forced to his knees, his hand had covered his mouth now, which began coughing up blood. Too near for comfort, Rem reached for a grenade, and primed it ready in his left hand...he grinned widely then wiped the blood from his face with his right hand.
looking towards the orks, Rem tossed the grenade amongst the tide... the effect was immediate.
"WHATZ IZ THIS!"
Flashing brightly, a light blinded the orks, some phased others not.
"The flash bang special..." Rem lay low on the ground, as the sound of a loud echo came on. "TARGET ACQUIRED."
Suddenly shapes out of the blue revealed themselves. Hammerheads, crisis teams, stealth teams...all let loose the fury of their guns.
The confines of the ravine devastated the orks, their bodies flying to missile salvos, others shook like rag dolls to burst cannons.
Admist the conflict a rogue stealth suit flew in to Rems rescue, picking him up and holstering him over its shoulder. The pilot immediately jetted out....and the buzzards flew to claim their prize..
|22 Apr 2008, 14:26||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
Just a little farther.
The prize is in sight, but she cannot gauge the distance. Her goal could be miles away, or just inches beyond her grasp. Not that these terms hold meaning for her. She measures life one arms length at a time.
She pulls herself along the scorching desert surface, knowing not why, only that the journey must be made. Her very existence hangs in the balance, though she is not fully aware of such concepts. She understands little of this new world, just pain and distance.
A bit closer.
The orb above burns her soft young flesh with its gaze. She lifts her face as if to question its intent, but harsh winds tear at her face and eyes. Agony. Twice has this light from above tormented her, once giving way to a cool white orb and darkness. She enjoyed the bitter cold of that darkness, but its relief gave way to this burning light once more.
A little further.
She is not alone. Quite the contrary, just behind her are thousands of her siblings, and trailing these masses...something else. It is the latter that drives her. She also feels as if watched from afar, but again these sensations are both foreign and unfathomable.
As she dares rest for a moment, she looks upon a malformed but determined sister clawing her way along as well. Her breath is labored, her legs are mere stumps protruding from her abdomen. How difficult her journey must be. Their eyes meet briefly as she passes. She can sense the fear from where she rests.
With new resolve, her clawed fingers reach forward yet again. Her destination, a grassy oasis looming ahead seems so close. Its towering trees provide shade for this paradise, she can feel the cool breeze from a stream bubbling just beyond her sight.
Not long now.
An ominous rumble. If she does not make it soon, she will perish. She is determined to survive.
Thousands of her brethren cry in desperation as it begins. She dare not look back. She lost precious time the first day, frozen in terror as the creatures beset her siblings. Sharp black teeth sank into their soft bodies, their shrill cries cut short. Some were pulled apart by the limbs and devoured slowly, some had heads bitten off, others were swallowed whole.
What frightened her most was the familiarity she felt. Her demons had taken the form of her kin.
The ground beneath her was changing, gradually giving way to a softer, darker surface. It's coolness invigorated her.
She came upon the same handicapped sister, exhausted and spent. She felt compassion for this brave soul, another of the confusing wash of emotions she's felt for the first time. In that instant, a dark, barbed quill appeared through the midsection of her weary sibling. Its helpless form shot backwards as she cried out in fear and pain. Gone.
She scrambles for her life now, desperately clawing at the moist soil beneath her.
She can feel it. She is nearly free!
As she pulls herself to the edge of her salvation, her relief gives way to terror. This clearing is filled with the monters, swarming, buzzing in anticipation. There are other creatures here as well, smaller and strange in color.
Suddenly, a shadow falls across her and she feels the hot clawed hand of a pursuer close tightly around her body. She is lifted hundreds of feet into the air, as this giant holds her up to it's face. It's pitch black eyes blink at its captive
As it's monstrous jaws open, she closes her eyes tightly. She can hear loud, alien noises coming from somewhere behind her, but she knows not what these sounds could mean. Just than, she finds herself awash in crackling blue energy, its savage jolt steals her consciousness.
So close, and yet so far.
To: Fio'la Bor'Kan Na'lynu
From: mal'kor research expedition
My dearest brother, may you prosper as Tau'va shall,
Wondrous news! I travel back to you with a very special surprise.
As you well know, it was an honor to be among the first to witness this ceremony, though it's savagery both sickens and saddens me. Thousands of mal'kor wiped out within days, hundreds that may have lived to serve our great purpose. The mal'kor birthing ritual promotes what the gue'la term "natural selection", and while barbaric to our standards, the process has allowed the species to thrive in the brutal wastes of their homeworld for eons.
To witness the birthing of thousands of mal'kor larvae was breathtaking, but to our dismay, the newly born mal'kor are made to crawl across a barren clearing in the hot sun, several hundred feet from the birthing hive. Many come to watch their next generations fight for their survival, but not to simply bear witness, my brother. We were horrified at the full extent of this ceremony, as it is also an annual feast. The rumors of the Mal'cor eating their deformed and undersized young are true. They are captured by the thousands, devoured alive by their elders. Only the hardiest of the species survive.
The details of this gruesome event will be made clear in my reports, but my diligence has been rewarded greatly. One such Vespid-ling that had passed the grassy threshhold the Mal'Kor label "the great ring" was picked up by an overzealous reveler. I was able to bring the situation to the attention of a ceremonial matron, a nurse/guard who retrieved the youngling, delivering quite a stun-stinger jolt to him in the process I might add! Imagine my joy and surprise when the youngling was presented to me! She will be raised in the safe environment of Bor'kan, and we will certainly further extend the glory of Tau'va with close study of our newest allies.
My message limit is reached, brother. Please make the necessary preparations for our new guest.
Fio'la Bor'Kan Il'porrui Mal'Kor
|22 Apr 2008, 17:00||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: London, England
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
Woah. That's like, a lot.
|22 Apr 2008, 18:42||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2005
Re: Short Story Competition [VOTING]
entry D has no voting box. Must be a hanging chad somewhere ^-^
[Whoops! Thanks for pointing that out, sorry entry D - you've been added to the bottom of the list - Hive Lord]
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