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post #13 of (permalink) Old 08-25-12, 04:43 AM
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I'll have a crack at this. It's 1000 words exactly.

Flickering Embers

Fiery contrails rent the night’s sky as blazing stars fell to the world below. Hurtling through the stratosphere glowing, manmade comets shuddered with the violence of their journey. Their occupants barely noticed; gene forged bodies nestled within harnesses, diamond hard minds focused inwards towards the task at hand. Vengeance, nay, justice was at hand and the Angels of Death would not, could not be denied.

Enhanced eyes, glaring out from a pugnacious, snout nosed helm gazed up at the falling lights and knew that they heralded the death of this world. The long war was over; it was just a matter of playing it out. Standing on the Northern battlements the warrior lowered his head, even as his grip on the parapet grew tighter. His mighty form, clad in armour forged with knowledge dragged from the fires of war and the Old Night, stood in silhouette against the night sky. Dull light from flickering illuminators, dimmed from reserve power, reflected from the mirror finish of his warplate, playing across huge pauldrons inscribed with acts of valour.

Heavy footfalls broke the warrior from his reverie. “Arastus, we are to attend the Gatehouse in Sector N5”, spoke the newcomer in a timbre as rough as gravel.

“Very well Belasus,” replied Arastus, his cultured accent revealing his upper hive birth.

Turning, he nodded in greeting to his comrade, actuators humming as his helm mirrored the movement of his head. Like his own, Belasus’ armour shone, oath papers fluttering in the cool night’s breeze. Unhelmed his friend’s face betrayed nothing of his feelings, indeed a sandstone cliff would hold more expression than Belasus’ gnarled, patchwork features. Belasus The Rock, the warriors of Second Company called him, a reference to both his taciturn personality and presence on the field of battle.

Together the warriors strode off along the parapet, mortals making space for their paragons. As the demi-gods made their way through the mass the humans jostled against one another, bowing in respect. Arastus could hear the mortal’s hearts hammering in their chests, fear, awe and blind fanaticism exuded from their fragile bodies. They too could sense that this was the end and were desperate to comport themselves with dignity alongside the Astartes.

Breaking through the press of unaugmented humanity the two warriors strode quickly to their sector. Arastus’ boots thudded against the plascrete as he walked, servos humming sub-audibly. The fortress stretched around them, a dark, gothic monstrosity of admantium and plascrete. It was the heart of a planet and a warren of passageways. Tunnels, walls and towers were the veins of this beast. Missile batteries, ordinance emplacements, AA guns and more studded its skin, creating deadly fields of fire.

Reaching the staging area he nodded to Darius and Gilgemon, the last remnants of his depleted squad. Crashing gauntleted fists to breastplates in a sonorous boom the two Astartes inclined their heads in greeting, faces hidden behind helms with glowing green eyes. Armed and ready for what was likely to be their last stand the Marines stood clad in Mark IV war plate, the power armour polished to parade sheen, sigils and badges freshly applied. Godwynn pattern bolters were mag locked to thigh plates, belt pouches bulged with ammunition and grenades, chainblades were sheathed at the hip. Similar scenes could be found throughout the citadel, brothers gathered one last time before the coming storm, anxious mortal’s thronging around them like frightened children at the legs of parents.

Before Arastus stood the tattered remnants of Squad Parthenon, Second Company, loyal to the last. Rank, organisation and formality mattered little now. Honour and bitterness remained along with a stubborn desire to spit in the eye of their foe. As long as there was breath in his body, life in his limbs Arastus would fight on, that was what it meant to be an Astartes; to stand beside your brothers and fight. Fight until he could fight no more, for that was all he could do. As they stood behind the crenulated bastions, studded with emplacements, the sky grew brighter. The inky blackness of night giving way to a warm glow, washing the stars out.

It was a false dawn however, the glow of a thousand orbital macro cannon firing in unison. With the roar of an angry god the very sky seemed to suddenly split in two and thunder and fire rained from the heavens. Arastus maintained his position, unconcerned. Only the widening of his stance betrayed him as a living being not a statue.

Such blind bravado was rewarded a moment later. With an actinic hum the banks upon banks of void shields shimmered to full power, creating an inviolate bubble around this last, mighty citadel. Lightning refracted from the skein of the bubble, shields absorbing the furious punishment met out to them. No mere orbital barrage could topple the Palace. No, what a hundred giga tons of ordinance could not do, it would fall to Arastus’ erstwhile brothers to accomplish, with blade and bolter to bring vengeance and what they believed to be justice.

So the burning comets fell to earth, to lodge within the skin of the citadel like ticks upon the hide of a rhino. Like blossoming flowers of steel, the sides of the craft split in a shimmering haze of heat, disgorging bio engineered death.

One such pod fell to within a hundred feet of Arastus and his brothers, crushing a platoon of mortal soldiery into paste in a thunderclap of noise as the shock of the impact threw dozens more to their feet. The ground ruptured beneath the vessel’s violent entry and it tilted forward at an angle, engines whining down. In a dull clang the doors of the drop pod opened, the red liveried occupants disembarking in cold efficiency, already snapping out perfectly placed shots into the swarm of flesh about them.

Waving his brother’s on; pointing towards the foe with his chainsword roaring into life, Arastus howled across the com net, face twisted in a snarl of anger and bitterness,

“Bleed Them!”

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