Great stories here, everybody - really characterful and intriguing.
Not sure if I might even be able to get a 2nd entry in for this HOES, but here's what came to me initially.
As always, the inspiration comes from wherever inspiration comes from (call it ''the ether'' for want of knowing what else to name it) and the words are mine, I hope they may prove sufficient to convey the concept.
Comments, criticisms, feedback will be most gratefuly received.
I guess like a lot of people, I'd adore to get published by BL or someone else one day (speaking personally, it'd not be for my own fame, but it's because my pets need the most secure future I can give them), so people's responses are really helpful and welcomed.
What happens when it rains? (1096 words)
Where the heck was he?
All Lieutenant Dervan could remember was a fusillade of shots, his snipers falling all around him to unseen bullets.
Somehow he had escaped -an obvious court martial for cowardice- but he had a duty to warn the others.
They’d know what to do: deploy the heavy armour, sending the intruders straight to hell.
Fading in and out of vision, he had staggered towards Base Primus for what seemed like hours, but still his senses had not yet returned to full accuracy.
Even the urgency of his escape hadn’t cured the numbing throughout his body, nor his deadened senses.
For a vaunted scout like himself, such loss of connection to the world was much more debilitating than the horrendous defeat his forces had just suffered.
Having seen many similar cases before in his men, he feared head wounds:
Faltering fingers ran shakily through matted hair and across his body, but found no bleeding.
Instead, his exploring digits found several lumps -most probably caused by flying debris- and his reeling senses were undoubtedly the result of various concussions.
Hearing the rustling of a deluge of rain rapidly approaching, he took shelter beneath a rusted Chimera, a casualty of a battle long before his recent posting here.
Ever since the battle ended, it had always seemed to be raining.
Why couldn’t he have been posted somewhere closer to his beloved verdant Arctoros, instead of this hellhole?
The rustling and scratching gave no signs of abating as he watched curtains of droplets cascading down upon the blasted terrain.
Despite the volumes pouring down, the deep earth of age-old craters and abandoned fortifications greedily drank up the water almost instantly, leaving no trace of it’s existence.
He realised he’d have to risk getting soaked through in order to get to safety.
Pulling his tattered shirt around him -a futile human gesture at best- the rain-smeared sight of the distant bulk of the command centre gave him new impetus.
Even though his legs felt like rubber, they carried him slowly across the ground to salvation.
Approaching the slab-sided compound, the rain somehow looked sharper and clearer here.
For a moment, he even dared to hope it was a good sign; his renowned eyesight returning to normal.
Ushered into the bunker, eyes closed in sheer relief at finding his comrades, Dervan blurted out his account of the slaughter of his sniper teams by the unknown assailants:
No, he had not seen one of their assailants; no, he couldn’t give any reason why the Regiment’s expert hunters had been assassinated before they were even ready to begin overwatch.
Slumping to a nearby chair at the end of his report, Dervan awaited their reponse -or judgement of his cowardice- vocalising that he was glad to be inside, away from the torrential rain.
Had his eyes been open, he would have seen the worried glances cast at him by several of the command staff.
Finally opening his heavy-lidded eyes, something which should have been instantly obvious took several seconds to filter through into his consciousness:
“Why the hell is it...raining...in here?” he enquired. Nervously scanning the ceiling for battle damage, yet he found it was whole and intact.
A corpsman approached, asking if he was alright and if he wanted stimms for the battle-trauma?
Refusing the medic’s attentions. Dervan repeated his request, louder this time.
However, it was not their lack of hearing which had prevented replies, but the bizarre nature of his question.
Ever calm in a crisis, Captain Indara laid a hand on his Lieutenant’s twitching shoulder, laughing softly: “Perhaps you have been out in the field for too long, my friend! There is no rain during summer; it has not rained on this planet for weeks.”
Pushing his officer away abruptly, Dervan backed into a corner, as though uncertain of who these people were any more. Had they been kidnapped and replaced by impostors? A ruse to trick and lure in any escapees from the conflict?
“Why the hell aren’t you all soaking wet through?!” Dervan queried stridently.
“Saturated...like me?!” he pulled at his clothes, showing them the articles, yet all they saw were bone-dry fatigues.
The rustling sound and the speed of the droplets increased in fury now, becoming brighter and harsher, almost too fast to follow, nearly blotting out his sight completely.
Virtually blinded, he grabbed hold of the company’s standard bearer and yelled: “What kind of sorcery is this? Tell me who you are and what you have done to me!”
The other struggled in his grasp, reluctant to strike out at a ranking officer, even a crazed one.
Several pairs of hands tore Dervan away from the soldier, forcing him to sit, their combined strength more than equal to the task of immobilising him.
Swiftly marshalling the situation, Indara orders succinctly:
“IF Dervan’s account is true, we just lost several of our best Scout Platoons to this menace. Our forces are already thinly-stretched as it is, holding the dockyards in the South and stifling worker unrest in the factory sector.
“The best we can summon is a demi-company and a squadron of Russes, with a Basilisk and Hellhounds in support. Dispatch Major Harnell at once to quell this threat. Let’s blow these intruders to...”
Dervan’s agonised scream halts the orders and he convulses in his seat, limbs contorting in every possible direction as he clutches firstly at his chest, then his head.
Before anyone can react, his body comes apart, revealing a dozen flittering insects which quickly achieve full size and begin skittering across exposed circuits and machinery, almost instantly reducing the unshielded units to slagged electronics.
Weapons blazing, the humans swiftly let loose volleys of cerulean laser bolts, cleanly eviscerating and bisecting the buzzing creatures before they can do any more damage, yet they have served their purpose: almost half of the battle-auspexes and comms equipment are rendered useless and melted.
No-one spared a thought for the unwitting traitor, Lieutenant Dervan, whose shredded corpse now garlanded the remaining holographic battle-consoles.
Vision fades to static as the watchers’ connection is finally ended:
The smaller of the two complained: “Host 241/33B terminated...I told you it was too early to enact the protocol; we could have learnt so much more from it!”
“We already have more than enough information about their defences...Never think of yourself as my equal: you are a mere servant, nothing else!” The Overlord shouted in response.
“Unlike this time, Cryptek...ensure that the mindshackle scarabs’ energy resonances do not interfere with the senses of the next prisoner.”
Urgently trying to trace any living relatives of Private Sam/Samuel "Jock" Wilson (Black Watch, No. 6 Commando, UK Army Service ID 2764432, died 10.06.44). Any info/suggestions gratefully received.
"Mockles! Pent on silpen tree, blockards three a-feening. Mockles! What silps came to thee, in thy pantry, dreaming?"
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Last edited by andygorn; 05-09-12 at 07:50 AM.