Brilliant stories here.
I'm not asking for the 'sympathy vote' here, I'm trying to be realistic and humble:
I think I know what Andy Murray in tennis feels like...trying to do what I do, but in an era of people who are true masters of their craft.
I really hope people here go for the BL competitions...many of the stories on "Heresy" deserve to be published.
Anywho, have tried to think about some 'structure' for this (not sure if it succeeded).
Looking back over these words, I think I was trying to capture the feel of the "duty vs. bleakness" theme that I feel 40K intrinsically has (amongst loads of other wondrous emotions too).
Like almost all of the time, the visions again didn't show me how all of the technology operates, just the basic concepts and certain pieces of it.
I always think that readers are a lot more inventive than I can be about the mechanics of "how stuff works", so please fill in the gaps with your technology of choice.
I am always attempting to improve (to give yourselves a better story to read), so I really would be grateful for anyone's thoughts and impressions/suggestions - AndyG.
"An Age Ago" (1004? words, not including title)
In a far corner of the Segmentum spins a world, one of three revolving around a dying red giant star.
Held too deeply in their decreasing gravitational orbits, the planets will begin to fall into their sun within the next eight years.
This used to be a system of importance and a fleet lay at anchor to repel the interests of The Imperium.
However, a Crusade by those invaders had seen an end to all of that.
Overwhelming the defenders en masse, the carcasses of both sides’ ships-of-the-line careened through the thin atmospheres and into the planetary surfaces, carving great gouges through the factories and hive-habs.
With air-recycling almost annihilated and factories in ruins, there was little hope but swift extinction for the survivors.
Despite appearances from the primary planet’s blasted surface, all is not silent, nor is it uninhabited.
Yes, plasma-bombs and melta-lances had scorched away the remainder of it’s atmosphere and wiped out the former advanced civilisation.
Yet the victors nevertheless seeded it for their own purposes.
Fifteen darkened chambers had been laser-gouged within the bowels of the planet.
Safe from irradiation, these rooms are kept at an exact 5 degrees by heat extractors and softly pulsing purple crystals embedded in the crowded walls.
These vie for space amongst the largely silent sentinels of ancient brass machines and cogitation-engines.
The arcane mass of pipes and cables is unknown to nearly all the galaxy, especially to the ones who operate it, for fear of what they might do to it.
Shadows flit across a wall, evidence of the rooms’ sole surviving occupant.
A slight moan accompanies a series of spasmodic twitches, as well as a frenetic scratching sound.
Several vox-units emit more moans...these are now discernible as pain.
If it still had the wit it was born with, it would have known not to write anything at all.
Yet, if it had possessed the faculties of motion and to truly comprehend the words, it would have gone to the surface; facing it’s doom with a mindless, slavering face and an idiot grin at what it had written.
Both hands are cramped into claws due to the repetitive strain and stresses of decades of near-constant writing.
Even severe arthritis would have been some kind of a mercy.
This duty was why the “men-of-brass-and-gears” had taken the young man away decades ago, removing him from the home he grew up in and transplanting him to places unknown.
An age ago.
Built to accommodate a hundred similar scribes, he does not know if the facility has ever been used to it’s full capacity.
Whether this was the case or not, myriad alcoves hold flickering electro-candles which are now his only companions still capable of motion.
Like the man, they use little in the way of energy.
Similarly, they share his fate of showing increasing signs of failure.
Connected by metres of ribbed hosing and wire which pour information directly into his brain, the scribing tools flash back and forth, faithfully recording every last detail for his superiors in a base which is years away.
‘The reports will be sent away.' ‘The station will remain secure.’ That is all he now knows.
Once upon a time, he ran through bright, sun-dappled forests which clamoured to touch cyan skies.
Beneath their soaking wet boughs, his handsome form yearningly kissed women in the rain and they returned such affections with equal intensity.
He harvested honey from the nearby shaded hives, cramming the insects’ succulent produce into his eager maw until the stickiness dripped from his lips.
An age ago.
Now, the stooped half-man can no longer support himself.
He leans against a marbled column which took twelve years to engrave with ‘The-Lists-Of-The-Tasks’ and the names of his colleagues and predecessors.
Now merely a jumble of rusted supports, pins, corroded tubing and cables, his seat-frame lies discarded on the floor around his prone form. Like himself and much of this place, it is a victim of long-term neglect and lack of maintenance.
A spasm and a more strident moan as the glass vial of golden liquid implanted into his neck auto-injects the next dosage; ensuring his span of life for yet another decade.
Nobody comes to see the young man (now an old man).
He was always one for the company of others.
Yet he longed for more...a life of adventure...of worlds lying in wait for him amongst the stars.
Thus, he had thrown himself upon their crimson robes, begging and pleading for the opportunity to use his technical abilities for the betterment of Humanity.
Although his mind was scrubbed clean of most emotions, there is still room for regret.
However, there has not been one day when he wished for any other decision or outcome, so he bears this solitude; a necessary, willing and dutiful sacrifice.
No Techno-Logician visits for servicing.
There might have been a time when they used to arrive..?
Yet he can no longer recall this last occasion.
No servo-installers have delivered new stocks of the parts or products he continually uses to fulfil his role.
His memory has been scourged of selfishness, so such ideas are never in his head for long enough to truly consider.
Nor, seemingly, were these thoughts in the minds of those who sheared him in half because those other parts were “unnecessary to his function”.
The ends of the final rolls of parchment run through the faithful Recorder’s shoulder-mounted armatures. Yet no-one shall be arriving to replace them.
Surrounded by the detritus of old and faltering machinery and his own mess, his hands feebly scrabble for supports which are not there.
Seeing no alternative, he remains where he is.
His own cracked and dried skin is the only surface that he can now reach to write upon.
‘The reports will be sent away.’ ‘The station will remain secure.’ That is all he now knows.
Thus, there is a different kind of scratching of nibs.
New moans of pain become more strident as time passes and as flesh fails to regenerate sufficiently quickly.
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?"
Please check out the HOES (Heresy Online Stories) threads and vote for the tales.
More feedback = better stories for everyone.
Last edited by andygorn; 07-22-12 at 12:44 PM.