After my rejection letter from the BL I decided to sharpen my quality further to increase my chances for next time (as well as increase the number of things I can write about making it easier to meet their writing prompts too). As such I figured Iíd consolidate my efforts into a single thread since I intend to write a lot. Maybe not a story a day but at least one to two a week for the next year.
Most of these will probably not have titles and chances are theyíll have some errors. But thatís why Iím doing this: to reduce my mistakes while writing things people hopefully want to read. So I hope you enjoy my efforts as I bring them to you.
From beneath the crusty layers of dirt and torn cloth that formed an improvised cloak his eyes gleamed in the moonlight. In his hands rested a lasgun, borrowed a week prior from the body of a PDF soldier who'd been hit during the early part of the attacks, it was immaculately clean like his sewing engine used to be. It was also set to it's highest setting, if only because if he needed it now it needed to drop the target in a single shot if he was going to have a chance of living.
His fingers twitched in memory of the foot powered device and a gentle smell of soap and flower oils drifted through his memory blanketing the smell of burning oil and filth from the camp below. The aroma's owner was long since dead, cut down by enemy fire as he lay helplessly pinned under a large part of their home that had been hit with some kind of rocket. It'd taken him nearly two days to crawl out with a broken leg. Two days for his wife to lay dead only a few steps away from where he'd been trapped.
He forced the feeling back and fought to steady his heartbeat. He'd been wandering alone for nearly a week when the Emperor mercifully delivered him to a group of survivors who'd taken to moving covertly amongst the remains of the broken city. On good days since then they'd share a couple of rats and drink boiled water, choosing to ignore the red coloring and the iron tinge. On others they spent their time hunkered down in whatever holes they could find to avoid the invaders. One the worst days they mourned the loss of yet more members of their tired band of fighters.
Orks a man had called them. Trivor tried to remember the man's name, only able to conjure up faceless representation. It didn't matter who it was who'd said it first, because in his mind they were still the hulking green skinned monsters of nightmares. While easily as tall as a man they were much wider, with thick muscular hands and even thicker limbs. They moved in a slightly hunched manner, almost devoid of any natural attempts at posture, their heads almost jutting straight forward out of their shoulders as if it wasn't mounted onto a neck. Not even it's face was right, with the creatures beady red eyes and almost comically huge jaw where a number of large, jagged teeth stuck out from the underbite. Almost as if that weren't enough to crush his senses there were larger ones still who would grunt and bark some kind of orders in a language that sounded less like speech and more like the calls of animals. It was guttural and dirty and every time he heard it the his stomach tightened and threatened to upend its contents. Though it wasn't from the way the alien speech attacked his senses alone, for the beasts smelled of filth. It was a cocktail of promethium, oil, dirt, grease and a hundred other things he could barely begin to list, and refused to imagine. All he knew was that the smell would follow him to the grave.
Wherever the beasts went zipped fat, lazy flies who almost heralded the arrival of the Orks. They would be successful if it wasn't for how almost boisterously loud the creatures were. Even from his vantage point over a hundred meters away, several stories up in the remains of he could hear them. From where he lay it looked like a couple of them were in a skirmish and the others were watching.
Turning his attention from the beasts he looked away from spectacle and to the edge of the camp where a couple of shadows moved. He hoped that they belonged to the few people he knew where still alive. Kandith, the bar maid who'd shown him how to shoot back when they'd found him and somehow could make anything taste palatable. Gret, the PDF soldier who had a knack for explosives and only eight fingers thanks to his knack taking them when he was a child. Flinn, an old priest who had once served with the Imperial Guard in his younger days and had shown them some of the things he'd picked up in the time.
There had been more of course, but now they were just The Dead while he was still breathing, a man who should be dead but still hung on to life. His broken leg ached in reminder of that fact and he bit down a curse. No, he didn't need to risk potentially tipping off anything that might be nearby that he was here. He may have been crippled by the infected mess that was the stump that had once been his broken leg, but he had no intention of wasting his remaining life. If they wanted to kill him the Orks would need to do it themselves instead of his own body giving him over.
The phantoms he'd been watching were gone now and he knew it'd only be a matter of time before the plan went down. Almost as if on cue one of the creatures stumbled towards one of the shacks they'd built when they'd set up the camp. The door swung open on it's crooked hinges and Trivor started counting to himself. One. Two. Thr-
The shack exploded as the boobytrapped door set off a cache of ammunition and explosives inside with a devastating krump of air and metal, devouring the surprised Ork in a ball of fire and bullets. The others nearby were flattened by the ground by the pressure of the explosion, some howling in pain as they were coated in what looked to be burning promethium. A missile careened out of the hole that had used to be the building's front wall and detonated amongst the confused group as others tried to figure out what had happened. Other still seemed to be laughing at the misfortune of those already injured. Only one seemed to be trying to look out into the darkness and see who could have done this to them. Grimgut was what they'd learned the beast's name was in the last several days of monitoring this camp of Orks and they knew he knew they were out there.
Few of the bigger Orks didn't know that they were out there somewhere, the vengeful spirits of the once thriving trade world that harried the beasts wherever they went. Vehicles were crippled, boobytraps laid on ammunition caches, and the larger Orks assassinated. It was a pattern that had gone on for months now and was repeating here again. Trivor looked down the scope of his rifle, slowing his breathing as he adjusted his aim carefully like Kandith had taught him.
The weapon cracked a report through the night and gently kicked as the air ionized in front of the barrel from the sudden heat of the laser lancing through it. He pulled back and rolled to the edge of his hiding spot. With a quick glance to make sure the floor was still there beneath him he rolled off, landing in a balled heap amongst a carefully created pile of dirt and softer trash as he protected his rifle and head from the landing. Ribs aching from where he'd elbowed them when he landed he took the chance to look up from his new hiding spot and swore. The large Ork was still alive, and directing the Orks who were able to the window he'd fired from, taking the time to smack one of them who seemed to be questioning the directions. The only sign the creature had been hit was a sparking box on his hip. He took aim again and fired at the beast's ugly face, this time not moving from the window. The round struck and there was a blossom of light and energy, one of the smaller Ork barking out in pain as he was signed across the back by a tendril of energy.
The larger Ork was shooting back now, it's massive weapon rattling as it barked shots into the remains of the building. Trivor fired again, the field blossoming once more as more Orks began firing towards his position, some starting to walk towards his position at the same time, each trying to be the one who killed this invisible shooter. It was a duel now, a contest to see which would die first, the sniper or the Ork and the beasts were starting to enjoy it.
Trivor dropped the drained powercell of the weapon and slammed home another one, lamenting how few shots at full power they could give him when recharged using fire. Again and again he shot though, his eyes less on the monster's face between shots and more on the box which was starting to smoke from the onslaught of abuse. The creatures were starting to get closer to his position now, rounds striking around the window and some striking the back wall inside. He didn't care if he died, just let him kill this one Ork!
He slammed another power pack in again and opened fire, this time the blossom of power fizzling out and a burn lancing the large Ork's cheek. Wounded and vulnerable it bellowed a challenge and charged, covering meters in seconds, each powerful stride of its squat legs driving it forward towards the thing that had dared to wound it. Trivor missed twice as he tried to predict its movements before forcing his racing heart to calm down. He'd died the day the creatures had arrived to Grenith VII, he was just borrowing some time to make sure they got there first.
Forcing his breath out he paused and squeezed the trigger, the bolt lancing through the air in what seemed to be slow motion as his adrenaline continued to race in face of the threat. The bolt slid through the beast's head, burning a hole through its brain before lancing out the back and losing its power completely. The creature didn't slow though, it's body taking three more steps before it finally paused and dropping to its knees and then falling face down in the dirt. The smaller Orks all looked amongst themselves and then towards the building that shot had come from. They couldn't see Trivor in the darkness with their poor night vision but they did know whatever it was had just proved itself stronger than Grimgut.
They broke only to be shot in the back by the other three who'd been hiding in the darkness, waiting for the beast to drop so they could close the jaws of their trap. His body exhausted from the adrenaline that had been pumping through it he rolled onto his back and started laughing, the exhaustion and the look of confused surprise the creature had been wearing when it'd pitched over somehow incredibly hilarious.
It was Gret. But why? Had he cracked and forgotten their rule about maintaining silence? The former tailor pulled himself back up and to the windowsill, slowly raising his head to look over it. In the street his friends were standing with a dozen men he'd never seen before, each dressed in dust grey uniforms and camo cloaks.
Gret waved for the man to come down, "Get down here!"
It'd taken Trivor fifteen minutes to make it from the fourth floor of the ruined building to the ground and then to hobble with a makeshift crutch in one hand and his lasgun in the other to where the uniformed men were standing, most of them maintaining a defensive circle around a single man who was talking to the few comrades he had left and as Trivor got closer he realized the men where Imperial Guard. Relief washed through him as he got closer and realized that aid had finally made it to their planet. As he approached the central man turned and greeted him with a broad smile.
"Fine shooting. Very fine."
"Thanks. I have to give credit to Kandith for putting up me long enough for me to learn though."
The man nodded, and looked at her, "Indeed, fine work." His attention turned back to the newcomer, "Captain Fesk of the Dentin 56th Scout Regiment."
"Trivor Kith, dead man."
Fesk's smile didn't falter, though his eye did stray to the stump leg Trivor sported for just a moment. "So they told me. What if I said that I can give you a chance to live again though? I can offer you four a place in my unit. I've heard enough to know that your experiences out here can only benefit me and my men, especially when dealing with these damnable Orks."
Trivor looked at the other three, "I'll only go if they're going. They're all I've got left of my home and if they're staying then I will too."
The captain started to chuckle, before clearing his throat with a short apology, "Well I can't say your comradery isn't surprising. I'm just a touch amused that you all said the same exact thing. I think it's safe to say that you're all coming with us then."
"With you where exactly?" It was Flinn who spoke this time, concern on his wizened face.
The captain's smile faded, "Off-world. We were deployed as an advanced force to see if this world could be saved but counting you four we've found exactly four people still alive. Honestly if it wasn't for this little dust up you guys caused we'd be on a lander out of here right now. Command has given the order to pull back so we can orbitally bomb the Orks and then go in for a final push to cleanse them off the world afterwards to make it ready for recolonization. Now you can stay if you want to, but I can't promise that you'll survive once the orbital bombing starts."
Trivor was the first to speak, "So when do we leave exactly?"
The mechanical leg still ached and rhythmically twitched in time to his heartbeat as he stood at the observation window. In truth it was too early for him to be up and about so soon after surgery but he had to see the funeral pyre that had been his home. As the world burned he quietly whispered a goodbye to the only world he'd known until then before adjusting his new grey uniform and limping back to the medical bay to get the twitch adjusted out of his leg.