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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-24-13, 12:37 AM
The Curmudgeon
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My first entry in a while. 1096 words not including the title, which makes it 1098. Enjoy;

Defense; Futile

Fear permeated the small defensive bunker, almost as tangible as the mud caked to the defenders’ boots. Each man in the small fire team was rife with it, almost oozed fear from every pour. Each of the five men had seen action on nearly a dozen different worlds between them. Each man had extensive training, unshakable faith, and indomitable will in the face of enemies they had faced before. But they faced no enemy they knew of. Each of them had seen traitors rise up against the Imperium. All of them had, at least once, seen what the warp could vomit up from the depths of such a hellish realm. Two had even seen the blood of the alien spilled upon the ground before them. It didn’t matter now…

Maxus looked into the eyes of his fellow Guardsmen and could see the unbridled fear clawing at their mental discipline. Reflected in every man’s eyes was a gripping uncertainty and urgent desire to flee with every ounce of strength they had. He was sure even his eyes reflected such fear. The only thing that kept them rooted in the poorly made bunker was duty to the Emperor. The only fear that outweighed the fear of this new and unknown enemy was that of being marked a traitor and being killed for deserting their posts. If not for such promises of torment, each of them might have bolted at any moment.

The sounds of explosions, of lasgun fire, and screams of the fallen rang out all around them. It had been like that for untold days. Maxus and his small squad was the last bunker, the last bastion of protection standing between the invaders from some unknown place and the capitol of their small outpost world. More than likely the evacuations had already taken place. More than likely, a call for aid had been sent out. And it was entirely likely that they wouldn’t live long enough to see aid come…

Impact tremors rippled through the ground, tossing several loose crates the fire team had stacked up into the mud. No one made a move to gather them up. In fact, had Maxus not been looking in their direction, he probably wouldn’t have noticed. The pitch black darkness that bathed the battlefield gave the group little clue as to what had fallen, or perhaps what had exploded. If it had been some manner of drop pods, it meant that the defenders would simply be even more outnumbered, which made little difference as their line continued to collapse and decay with each passing hour. If it had been the result of explosions, it meant that the generators powering the outer ring of tarantula gun turrets had been destroyed and the advance was no longer impeded in the slightest.

“You think the other teams are holdin’ them off?” Maxus overheard his squad mate Ferris asking the Guardsman huddled next to him. The Corporal scoffed at the question. The sounds of death and carnage all around them could answer with certainty what Hayden could not. Maxus turned his eyes away from the two and set about scanning the muddy landscape that was visible to him. The small searchlights hardly pierced a few meters into the darkness, not even far enough to see the bunkers positioned in front of them. If not for the constant echo of the battle raging just beyond that veil of darkness, the Guardsman could have almost forgotten that there was any battle raging at all…

As his eyes scanned, he caught the dim glint of something bright in the corner of his eye. Maxus turned toward the ghost light and could make out small streaks, each of them so blue they were almost white. Had they not been traveling toward one of the makeshift bunkers out along the perimeter he might have confused it for friendly fire. The streaks of light intensified and grew in number over the next few seconds before an unmistakable plume of flame erupted.

“They’re here!” Maxus warned his squad while lifting his own lasgun up onto the bunker’s mud crusted window ledge. The rest of his squad did the same, each of them looking out nervously into the darkness. Blue-white wisps of light streaked into view. Most of them landed harmlessly into the muck with no great effect, almost haphazardly in their pattern.

“Hold your fire until you actually see something worth shooting…” Maxus told his fellows. While he’d never fought this particular sort of alien before, the tactics weren’t all that different. He’d even used diversionary fire to root out enemies on dozens of raids, drawing his enemies out from some hidden place to be slaughtered in number.

The chaotic light became suddenly accurate, shattering the spotlights that sat just in front and off to either side of their bunker. The blue-white flames that engulfed the spotlights bore an uncanny resemblance to daemon fire… and yet it was almost… beautiful. Maxus shuddered at the thought, and wondered why now he would consider the weapons fire that would likely be his demise to pleasing in appearance.

When the spotlights had burned out and the fire was no more, the probing bolts of energy stopped. A strange calm settled back over the inky darkness that now almost totally engulfed their world. The sudden lack of light played havoc on Maxus’ eyes for several seconds, forcing him to shift his head several times at glints of light that were not there. It didn’t take long for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, but when it finally did Maxus almost wished it hadn’t.

He could see the vivid blue outline of what almost looked like a man, except that it was proportioned too strangely to be any man he’d ever seen. It bore no resemblance to any Astartes he’d ever seen, nor any member of the Legions of Chaos he had been unfortunate enough to battle. Its movements were utterly mechanical, which were all the more unnerving.

“Open fire!” he proclaimed, letting loose a burst of hot laser fire at the ghostly blue visage in the night. His squad fired upon similar apparitions, and while he was sure that he’d hit it, the thing just kept coming. Again and again he fired… to no avail. The last thing Maxus saw before some blast from some other creature’s weapon took him into oblivion was a burst of light rising from the thing he’d been firing at. A glowing orb of blue-white fire that looked utterly beautiful and hideous to him all at once… then nothing…

Last edited by jonileth; 01-24-13 at 12:39 AM.
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