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  Topic Review (Newest First)
04-09-14 03:46 PM
Brother Emund
Whooops!

I have been away a while so forgive me. Unfortunately, the 100's of pages I have written have... gone. My PC swallowed them up and made them disappear.
I will be carrying on as soon as I can (oh no, please don't.. I hear you shout).
I might start from scratch with a different thread/ theme

We shall see
03-01-12 01:03 PM
Brother Emund I see what you mean. I will follow your advice and open it up a bit. Thanx
02-29-12 09:51 PM
jonileth I would be happy to. See below, you 'wall o' text' dialogue section;

Quote:
“Whores boots’, stuttered Dormagen 'I can’t get my bleedin’ axe free”.
Another Beddo screamed nearby and someone gasped “The shield is down! The shield is down!”
Krüger smiled at Mühlenkamp.
“That’s music to my ears”.
His burly companion shifted slightly and shaded his eyes with his free hand.
“There’s that bastard in black. I swear he’s a Commissar“. He fired off several shots from his Lasgun and then shook his head when he missed.
“Alarm!” roared the Sledgehammer as he ducked out of the far side of the bunker. He manhandled a squad of five or six terrified militia and pushed them back at gunpoint. He smacked the squad leader across the face with the hilt of his sword.
“There are Imperials in there. Hold this entrance and I will send reinforcements up“. He jumped into a connecting trench and grabbed a vox-piece from a startled comms officer and began barking orders.
“I will regain control of this mess”.
What I was getting at with my comment was that this "wall" is hard to read and distinguish between characters speaking. I would propose that it look more like this in the forum atmosphere; (I will change the color of grammar corrections to this as I make them as well)

Quote:
“Whores boots," stuttered Dormagen, "I can’t get my bleedin’ axe free.”

Another Beddo screamed nearby and someone gasped, “The shield is down! The shield is down!”

Krüger smiled at Mühlenkamp.

“That’s music to my ears”.

His burly companion shifted slightly and shaded his eyes with his free hand,“There’s that bastard in black. I swear he’s a Commissar." He fired off several shots from his Lasgun and then shook his head when he missed.

“Alarm!” roared the Sledgehammer as he ducked out of the far side of the bunker. He manhandled a squad of five or six terrified militia and pushed them back at gunpoint. He smacked the squad leader across the face with the hilt of his sword.

“There are Imperials in there. Hold this entrance and I will send reinforcements up."

He jumped into a connecting trench and grabbed a vox-piece from a startled comms officer and began barking orders.

“I will regain control of this mess”.
While at first it may look like you have a lot of space here you don't need, it helps to break up the mass of text since you are shifting from person to person, action to action in a short space of time rather than describing something in one continuous flow like with the rest of your paragraphs. Make sense?
02-29-12 06:47 PM
Brother Emund
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonileth View Post
Something I've noticed with your writing, when you have dialogue, you don't put any spacing between it. I.E:



This just runs on in my eyes. Given that most stories are separated by indentation, this usually isn't an issue, but the forums don't readily recognize indents and this leads to things being smashed together. For readability's sake, perhaps if you would space dialogue, it wouldn't look nearly as cramped in places like the example above and it would flow more smoothly.
I value the feedback. However, I do not understand what you mean? Could you elaborate?
02-29-12 06:07 PM
jonileth Something I've noticed with your writing, when you have dialogue, you don't put any spacing between it. I.E:

Quote:
“Whores boots’, stuttered Dormagen ’I can’t get my bleedin’ axe free”.
Another Beddo screamed nearby and someone gasped “The shield is down! The shield is down!”
Krüger smiled at Mühlenkamp.
“That’s music to my ears”.
His burly companion shifted slightly and shaded his eyes with his free hand.
This just runs on in my eyes. Given that most stories are separated by indentation, this usually isn't an issue, but the forums don't readily recognize indents and this leads to things being smashed together. For readability's sake, perhaps if you would space dialogue, it wouldn't look nearly as cramped in places like the example above and it would flow more smoothly.
02-29-12 11:31 AM
Brother Emund THE SIX HANDSHAARI militia manning the heavy stubber did not even know they were dead. Meyer had crawled up to the lip of the trench and flipped two plasma grenades in when their backs were turned. They disappeared in a splash of super-heated liquid before they could even cry out.
The Lieutenant did not enjoy killing men like this, quick and easy and without mercy. He had no choice. The attack was stalling and he had to move on. There was no time for niceties whilst his own men were dying.

He saw the Griffon fire its last round and watched in awe as Bastion One fell.
Suddenly, like a great window opening up, it went deathly quiet and the blue sky lit up eye burning bright. A slight breeze brushed his chin and he smiled. He waved towards the building opposite and a large group of Kopftjägers appeared and began running towards him.

Dormagen split the PDF officer’s head open like a ripe fruit. The blade of the Schlactaxe was so sharp that it only stopped when it struck the mans sternum. Brains and body fluid sprayed the Sledgehammer who made an undignified retreat before the blade struck again.
The senior corporal winced and struggled to free his weapon. A hard slug ripped through his sleeve and a second clipped his right ear.
Muhlenkamp opened up from his side and filled the interior of the bunker with las-fire.
A Beddo warrior, resplendent in traditional warrior dress, lunged forward, passing his bayonet through the dead officers’ arm and into Dormagen’s shoulder pad. The corporal was quick, far too quick for the desert nomad. With a lighting flick of the wrist, he released a small silver star that struck the hapless warrior in the forehead. He made a pathetic gasp as he fell.

“Whores boots’, stuttered Dormagen ’I can’t get my bleedin’ axe free”.
Another Beddo screamed nearby and someone gasped “The shield is down! The shield is down!”
Krüger smiled at Mühlenkamp.
“That’s music to my ears”.
His burly companion shifted slightly and shaded his eyes with his free hand.
“There’s that bastard in black. I swear he’s a Commissar“. He fired off several shots from his Lasgun and then shook his head when he missed.
“Alarm!” roared the Sledgehammer as he ducked out of the far side of the bunker. He manhandled a squad of five or six terrified militia and pushed them back at gunpoint. He smacked the squad leader across the face with the hilt of his sword.
“There are Imperials in there. Hold this entrance and I will send reinforcements up“. He jumped into a connecting trench and grabbed a vox-piece from a startled comms officer and began barking orders.
“I will regain control of this mess”.

A slow wailing siren blared out from hidden speakers on the walls. Seconds later, lines of Handshaari infantry, bolstered by squads of Beddo’s, were streaming out of doorways and buildings spurred on by their officers and NCOs. They looked in dismay at the scene of utter devastation.
A line of three explosions engulfed a group of them as they struggled to bring a long-barrelled mortar to bear. A couple of seconds later, a string of three more clouds of grey dust and debris, reduced their sandbagged position to a ragged pile of metal and human debris…
The Beddo in the half-track manning the multi-barrelled gun opened fire with a long burst of snub-nosed rounds. He raked a long line of rebels who had just filed out in front of the gate. They were cut down one after the other without firing a shot, cut down like fresh grass in a field.

No quarter.

“Good old Amdt!’ screamed a soldier from a small slit-trench nearby. It was Maag, making his way to the mine dump and the stock of munitions it contained. He frantically waved at the man in the half-track. ‘Glowna! Glowna you untermench, take those filthy rags off and join the program will you’, he pointed vigorously to a point beyond “turn that ficking thing left, there’s a whole Truppe of the bastards moving up over there, hurry man, hurry!”
He chopped his arm in the direction of a series of entrances near the gate. The Chaingun opened up again, sweeping left across the face of the gate, pummelling the guardhouse‘s doorway, and then across the open area on the East~West Highway. The rebel infantry unit was hit heavily and melted back into the buildings under Glowna’s withering fire.

A sniper secreted somewhere above, fired off a succession of shots and dropped six Handshaari officers one after the other. Glowna whistled and gave thumbs up sign to a group of Kopftjägers who had scuttled over during the confusion.

The basic Handshaari soldier needs leadership. They are not trained to think for themselves, not given the responsibility to command or take the initiative. Jirmanic soldiers on the other hand, were trained to a much higher standard, and each man had to be able to operate at least one rank above him. It was a good system. When NCO’s or officers went down; there was always someone to take their place.

Glowna had dropped at least twenty of the rebels before they began running in all directions. His chaingun tore great holes in their ranks, turning the dusty cobbles red with their blood. The screams of the wounded and dying reverberated around the square in front of the gate.
A group of five or six militia piled out of the guardroom, forced out by the curses and threats of the black-uniformed political officer. The first man blew apart in a cloud of pink mist, when he received a direct hit from one of Ampt’s hidden mortars. Three of the group instinctively ducked. The boldest rebel, a silver-haired veteran, with bright white teeth, set into a black face, opened up on full auto with his archaic snub gun. The rounds struck the half-tracks armour and riquoshaded harmlessly upwards and away. Trooper Stransky went down on one knee, his Lasgun in his shoulder. Hochbaum dropped down besides him and shouldered his own weapon. They fired a short burst of las fire that ripped into the lone gunman, forcing the others to scramble to their feet. They were killed almost instantaneously, riddled with las fire which tore small chunks out of them, knocking them back into the rubble around the gatehouse. Two more mortar rounds hit the wall around the doorway to the guardroom, shattering the rockcrete and sending hundreds of small rock fragments into the Sledgehammers face and shoulders. He squealed in a most undignified manner, for an ex-Imperial Commissar, and leapt backwards into safety. The rest of the rebels remained inside.

The ‘Amineh’ and the Jamilah’ were burning, their crews were lying around their bases like broken rag dolls. A Lascannon fired again, putting a round into the driver’s aperture of a Chimera troop carrier, popping open like a ripe fruit. The crew inside were reduced to a grisly shower of gore, as the vehicles magazine exploded.

A missile streaked from the left and took out a small, domed-shaped cupola above the gate, reducing the auto-guns it housed, to twisted scrap metal. Two more missiles hit an anti-aircraft gun on a ledge above. Las fire peppered off the stone walls making low pops as they hit.
Another Krak missile took the main turret off another Leman Russ battle tank. No one had realised it was there until the crew jumped up onto it when the fighting started. It had been well-hidden under tarpaulins and could have caused some serious problems, had it got going. The main armament was gone, but the remaining crew continued to fire the secondary weapon, a hull-mounted Lascannon, with deadly efficiency. Its Heavy-bolters were also keeping marauding tank-hunters at bay. A lone Kopftjäger lay in front of it, still clutching a circular anti-tank mine in his long-dead hand.

Schnurrbart finally reached it, after negotiating the city’s sewer system and coming up a few metres to its rear. He looked like a strange mutant with the back of his head bandaged up like an obscene growth. The veteran corporal, cautiously lifted the metal drain cover and peered out. From his position he was blind to the crew of the tank and could approach the rear engine louvers without exposing himself to the deadly slugs from the twin heavy-bolters.
He slid the cover to one side and heaved a anti-tank mine out in front of him. With uncharacteristic caution, he scanned the entire area with his Magnocular’s before crawling forward and placing the mine under the rear of the hull. He set the fuse to timer and then retraced his steps. A few seconds later, he dropped out of sight, replacing the drainage cover above him.
The eruption lifted up the rear of the tank and slammed it down with a ground-shaking thump. The cast plasteel hull, ripped open like a fruit, engulfing everything within ten metres in a blast of superheated air. Fierce flames then bellowed out of it in all directions.
Two of the crew had somehow survived and scrambled out of tits wrecked turret, their uniform smouldering. Their chances of survival were slim to near impossible.
The first crewman fell, his head exploding in a cloud of pink mist and bone fragments. The second man hesitate for a fraction of a second, staring in bewilderment at his comrade. The second round punched through his heart and out through his spine.

“Amateurs’, Kohl growled. He fired again, a long shot at a target high above the gate. He had seen a rebel NCO berating a squad of terrified militia. One of the unfortunate men had already been thrown from the battlements.
Kohl’s last round hit the NCO in the shoulder, spinning him around and toppling him over the edge. The Beddo screamed piteously as he spiralled lazily through the air until he hit the road with a dull thud, thirty metres below.

* * *
01-26-12 07:02 AM
Brother Emund THE BODIES OF the bunkers occupants were unceremoniously dragged to one side and stacked in the far corner. The two sentries that had been standing guard outside lay trussed up like prized trophies, against a drinks dispenser. Only the Enginseer remained standing, still plugged into his machine and gasping like a fish out of water.
“Good thinking Warren‘, said Schaeffer with a smile, ‘thank goodness for that Museum. The generals’ uniform worked a treat”. He adjusted his eye-patch and moved over to the door.
Hollenbeck and Behlendorf from second squad were lying prone in front of the opening, desperately seeking cover behind a flimsy barricade made up of desks and chairs. Behlendorf had a clumsy-looking belt-fed heavy-stubber which was beloved by the Jirmanic troops. He opened and closed the upper breach cover and checked the brass rounds time and time again. Hollenbeck, Waldo Hollenbeck the company comedian, had laid out a row of grenades in front of him. He had also removed his entrenching tool and had it near at hand. If it came to close quarter fighting, he would use his spade as a brutal blade, which could slice through the flimsy rebel body armour.

The shock wave from the Griffon exploding hit the three of them hard, throwing Schaeffer across the room and knocking the other two troopers against the walls. Behlendorf’s Tri-dome went spinning off down the street like a discarded children’s toy.
The unfortunate Enginseer was knocked unconscious and lay slumped over one of the terminals. A thick cloud of choking dust meandered through the room, covering everything and turning the whole place into an eerie white tomb.

There was a rumbling sound.
“What the fic….! “.
A figure dived in through the entrance and landed heavily next to Schaeffer. He groaned softly to himself, appearing to be oblivious of his surroundings. A heavy object followed him, sliding across the floor and hitting the man in the head. He let out a yelp and then struggled to his knees. The box that had struck him was a large vox-set and the kneeling figure was Anselm with his thick mop of fair hair. He moved slowly onto his front and surveyed the scene. His white eyes shone out from a blackened face.
Warren Cholitz, a trooper from third Züg, patted him on the shoulder.
“Nice of you to turn up Kurt”. Anselm stroked his head and looked at his palm. It was smeared with blood. He saw Schaeffer in the corner.
“The tower has gone but we lost the crew of the Griffon. Kupfer and Bidermann are dead. It’s like a bloody abattoir out there”.
“Anselm’, grinned Schaeffer ‘it’s good to see you too” He shook the vox-operators hand and patted him on his back. “Get on that box and rustle up some bloody reinforcements for us before the rebels get their act together”.

Cholitz moved over to the door and peered out just as another figure came smashing through the doorway. He was tossed to one side and lashed out with both feet. Hollenbeck, still dazed from the concussion wave, struggled to retrieve his Lasgun but managed to aim it at the new arrival. Behlendorf sat forlournly to one side, unable to react and holding a hand to his nose, which had been neatly sliced down the middle by a piece of shrapnel.
The stranger avoided the kicks and stood up and dusted himself down. He looked up at the other Kopftjägers and grinned.

“More bloody bodies’, groaned Hollenbeck ‘Fic off will you, it’s getting too crowded in here”. The new arrival threw two long tubes onto the floor of the room. They were some sort of locally-manufactured rocket-propelled grenade.
“Thought you might find these handy, just in case…”
“Löwitch, where the hell did you come from?” asked Schaeffer calmly.
“Dormagen sent me, he’s spotted some armour approaching”.
“More armour, what about those two bastards outside? “
“Don’t worry about them, they’ve been taken care of, but I think the rebels have finally recovered and we are in for one nightmare of a party”
“Great’, said Schaeffer, shaking his head and turning to Anselm. ‘Get Oberst Eicke on that thing. Tell him that we are not sure if the shields are down yet, but we will have the gates open shortly‘, and then as an afterthought, ‘and tell him to expect some heavy duty action”.
“Right away Rolph’, smiled the Vox-officer, ’now all of hell will break lose, eh?”
Schaeffer smiled,
“You better believe it….”

* * *
01-20-12 09:49 PM
Brother Emund DORMAGEN RIPPED OFF the Beddo cloak and threw away the shemag he was wearing. He then reached inside his tunic and found his battered cap. When he placed it on his unkempt bush of hair, he gave a contented sigh.
Two of the Griffon’s crew joined him, Kastein, with his plasma gun, and Mühlenkamp, both from second squad.

“When you get the signal, start on the left hand tower“. As if on cue, the siege mortar rumbled forward, and positioned itself in the centre of the road facing the gates. Its crew began working feverishly to load up.

Time was very short. There was an air of uncertainty. Shots had been heard and the sound of an explosion. Handshaari soldiers began appearing from everywhere; on the battlements, from buildings and trenches. Craning their necks to see what was happening. Orders and counter-orders were barked by angry NCO’s.

Dormagen ran through a group of sappers and sprinted towards the left hand bunker. There was a quad anti-aircraft gun on its roof protected by sandbags and covered in camouflaged netting. The crew were shouting to him and pointing at the Griffon. A PDF officer stuck his head out of the door and watched the new arrival. The Sledgehammer joined him by his side.
“Who the hell is that? “, he asked as Dormagen reached the base of the bunker and scaled a ladder that lead to the roof.
“Did you hear shots? “ asked the officer, shaking his head from side to side to get a better look. The Sledgehammer could see that the vehicles that were supposed to have been moved on, were still sitting there in front of the gate.

He cursed. “I told that fat sergeant to get that lot moving. Bloody imbeciles, I’ll string him up for that”. He shouted at the new arrival, who had been joined by a small squad of heavily armed Beddo’s’. “What is going on there?” he yelled, pointing back towards the vehicles. He squinted, then his eyes widened as he focussed on the body of Dhakwan. Even from this distance he could see that a large pool of blood had pooled around him. He looked up into the face of death .
“What the….”

* * *

“ANY OFFICERS IN here?” barked the general as he entered the bunker. A dozen troopers jumped to their feet and several servitors, momentarily stopped what they were doing to observe their new guests. A gangly lieutenant, an ensign of about eighteen threw up a quick salute.
“I…” he stuttered. ’I am in command here, Sir. Lieutenant …” The general moved to the centre of the room allowing his bodyguards to join him.
“Great’, the senior officer interrupted, ‘now open up the gates if you please”.
A red-robed Enginseer with cables running from his forehead and plugged into a control panel turned slowly around. He had the wheel symbol of the Mechanicum tattooed on each cheek.
“On whose authority?” he croaked his voice box unused to using human speech. The general smiled at him and waved one of his soldiers over.
“Now it’s funny you should say that…” The bodyguard stuck the end of a Lasgun into the Enginseer’s mouth and pushed him back against the panels. The Enginseer gagged, and yellow fluid began running from either side of the barrel.
A shot rang out and the young Lieutenant dropped to the floor banging his head on a table and upending it. Data-slates, cups and papers were scattered all over the floor. One of the Handshaari soldiers went to one knee and brought up his own Laspistol. Two more shots rang out and he fell forward and remained in an obscene kneeling position. There were two large holes in his back; cauterized wounds from Lasgun fire. The rest of the rebel’s froze.
“Are there any more heroes amongst you?’ asked the general matter-of-factly. He pointed a plasma pistol in their direction. There was a flurry of shaking heads and the surviving members of the bunker placed their hands above their heads. The general put away his weapon and removed his shemag and ogal. He dropped them to the floor along with his cumbersome cloak. Underneath was the uniform of the Imperial Guard.
“We are taking over here in the name of the Emperor. Zoll’, he smiled ’time to get those gates open”.

* * *

The Griffon fired, rocking back on its suspension, and sending up a great cloud of dust and debris. To the casual observer, everything seemed to move in slow motion. The short stubby mortar recoiled, ejecting the spent case onto the road surface with a loud clang that reverberated across the square.
The first round hit the left hand tower about twenty metres from its base. It immediately erupted into a massive fireball of smashed rockcrete and deadly fragments. Troops dived for cover as debris exploded outwards like lethal confetti.
The mortar settled back on its carriage and another projectile was slammed into the breach. There was a splattering of return fire from the walls as some of the Beddo’s began to recover, realising what was happening. The Las rounds and hard slugs, peppered the Griffons thick armour plate, or missed and made small dust clouds on the road surface.
The Griffon fired three more rounds, striking the tower at various heights and causing absolute pandemonium. Panic reigned, as orders and counter-orders rang out between the various units on the walls and in the towers.

When the Griffon fired for the forth time there was a terrific detonation as a hot round ignited in its breach. The crusty old museum piece, a veteran of countless conflicts, had finally had its day. It was destroyed by the very people who had built it, and not by a xenos enemy.
The Griffon and its crew were vaporised in an instant as the remaining rounds went off as one. All that remained was a crater ten metres across, a black, smoking stain. The four-man crew were never seen again.
A hesitant cheer went up from the walls, and then several militia got to their feet and fired their weapons into the air in a victory salute.

But their triumph was short lived.

There was a loud crack followed by a high-pitched squeal of metal grinding against metal. The ground began to shake like a small earthquake and a deep roar could be heard above them.
Bastion One began to move; slowly at first and then, as if it was driven by unseen forces, it began to shake and rattle. Rocks and strips of metal began to fall from it. A spider web of cracks quickly appeared at the towers base and spread quickly to the very top. The mast, with its green Handshaar flag flying proudly above it, seemed to flutter down like a child’s toy. Thousands of tonnes of rubble and steel followed it.
The noise was overwhelming, the sight, and a scene from a picture of hell. Bastion One was falling and taking everything and everyone with it. It demolished the bunkers and trenches in a deadly rain of destruction. An immense cloud spread out engulfing everything in a fine yellow film. Men fell choking, clutching their throats, staggering like drunken men. Blood, traumatic amputations and death. Panic spread like a virus.

* * *
01-18-12 09:18 AM
Brother Emund SERGEANT DHAKWAN CURSED under his breath. He cursed the ex-Commissar, he cursed the incompetent officers that had put him here in this place, and he cursed the damn war for taking him away from the quiet life he had grown accustomed to.

“I’m far too old for all this marching around nonsense. I should not even be here, Curse the Eye (of Terror). I’m exempt combat“.
He rolled off a string of explanatives to no one in particular and scratched his long nose.

I’ve done my time. I Served the Emperor with distinction. These youngsters and zealots are the ones who should be doing the fighting, not Abdullah Dhakwan, ex-sergeant of the Imperial Guard and now the fairly famous Abdullah the Merchant, purveyor of fine fruit… Block 8, Merchant Quarter.

He gave a half-hearted salute in the direction of the political officer and then sauntered over to the offending vehicle. He tried to straighten up and bring back some of the military bearing that he once had. He failed miserably. Ten years of good living had turned the ex-Guardsman into a picture of sloth.
Not exactly, a picture of what a non-com should look like.

All he wanted to do was to get back to the Munitorum area, a heavily sandbagged bunker across from the ornamental gardens, and well away from the gate. It was nice and cool there, and he would be safe. Unless a stray round hit it and then… well.
He did not have much time left. According to unofficial reports, the Imperials had already infiltrated some of the lower levels of the city and there was a fierce fight going on. They could already hear the dull crump of explosions in the distance.

When Dhakwan was given his orders to report for duty at the barracks to ‘Drive out the Imperialists‘, he had had no choice. He had to fight and defend his beloved city, despite the odds stacked against them.
Unfortunately, civilian life had been very kind to him and he had put on several kilos in weight. He could not find a uniform big enough to fit him until his brother-in-law, the curator at the army museum, had managed to ‘procure’ him a rather threadbare uniform of the Handshaari Irregulars. He wore it badly, and to top it off, his sergeant chevrons were lopsided and badly stitched on.

It’s not fair…

He was aware of the Beddo’s reputation for savagery and their dislike of city-dwellers, but he had no choice. If he failed to carry out his orders, the Commissar would probably shoot him out of hand.
He would sum up all his courage and confront the ragged nomads.
He reached the half-track and shouted to the men leaning out of its open top. He had to make himself heard over the badly tuned engine. A fact, which infuriated him.

“You, you there, the big one with the whiskers on your face, didn’t you hear the Commissar‘ he checked himself ‘the political officer?’ he continued, ‘move this piece of scrap over there. We are about to seal this place up and I don‘t want you in the way”.
The crew did not move and stared back at him, shrugging their shoulders and shaking their heads. The man standing behind the weapons shield remained immobile. He gripped the butt of a vicious-looking multi-barrelled gun, which was pointing directly ahead, at the Meridian Gate.
If Dhakwan had looked carefully, he would have noticed that the barrel was moving ever so slightly, following the ex-political officer.

“I said, move this heap you ignorant swine, MOVE IT!”
There was still no response. Dhakwan spat, and then walked around to the rear doors. The men on top watched him with interest but did nothing.

Ignorant Peasants

The sergeant banged his fist against the doors, making a dull sound against the metal.
“If there is someone in there with some sort of authority, get out here and speak to me”.
He banged on the rear doors again.
“Go away, we don‘t want to talk to you”, came a muffled voice from inside. Dhakwan was sure that he could also hear laughing. He stepped back his face red and fit to burst.

Now he noticed other vehicles approaching.

He turned around and saw two more rattling up towards him. They both had poorly tuned engines, just like the half-track. One of them was a green and sand painted Griffon siege tank, and the other was a small two-man tracked utility vehicle towing a wheeled Lascannon.

It gets better, Dhakwan sighed

The Griffon was an open-backed siege tank. It was basically a large mortar bolted onto a Chimera chassis. Its large calibre gun could reduce defences to rubble and dust in a matter of minutes.

The vehicle stopped abruptly, causing its eight-man crew, which was unusually large for a Griffon, to lurch heavily forward. The large dozer blade on its front, dug into the cobbled road ripping up a section of the bulky, round stones that had probably lain undisturbed, for a thousand years.
Dhakwan shook his head in exasperation.

One of the crew stepped down off the back and dusted himself down with gloved hands. He was quickly followed by two others brandishing Imperial-issue Lasguns.
Dhakwan straightened himself up, pulled back his shoulders and stormed towards this new target. He took out his Autopistol and waved it out in front of him and trying to look menacing.
“Has everyone gone totally stupid around here?’ he yelled at the crew, ’didn’t you hear the orders, No vehicular movement in the area of the Meridian Gates, on express orders from the General himself.
You and that bloody great gun, are supposed to be in the main plaza. Who’s in charge there, I want his name?”

The gloved figure turned to face the angry sergeant. He was very tall, and was wearing a white cloak that flapped about his shoulders. The cloak was richly embroidered with gold lace. He wore a white shemag with a gold Ogal around his head. He had thin features and wore a tatty eye-patch. A scar ran across his forehead and onto his cheek.
However, what the sergeant noticed right away was the row of medals and the gold epaulettes, the epaulettes of a high-ranking, senior officer.
“Blood of the Emperor!” Dhakwan spluttered, using the common explanative that was clearly forgetting what side he was on.

The bloody general is here, now.

“G-g-general, Sir. A pleasure, Sir”, he said in an unnaturally high voice.
“Who’s in charge here?” the general barked, pushing the fat sergeant to one side to let the rest of his men pass. Dhakwan wilted, his shoulders dropping and his weapon hung limp at his side. He pointed towards the bunker to the right of the gate.
“Yes I did give the order for all heavy munitions to relocate to the main Plaza’, the general continued ‘and thank you for reminding me… sergeant”. The General looked at the fat NCO with a barely disguised sneer. “These are my latest orders. Remove the mines and obstacles from around the gates. There is an armoured column coming in from the outer cities, and we are about to launch a counter-attack”.
“Yes, yes, sir… I will get my boy‘s on to it right away, Sir!”.
The general smiled, the smile of the deaths head, and then marched off in the direction of the bunker. As if on cue, the crew on top and inside the half-tracked formed up and followed him.

Dhakwan barked out some orders and his sappers began to of remove the mines.
He then sat down on a white traffic bollard and dabbed his forehead with a large white handkerchief. Sweat was pouring from him and his tattered uniform was soaking wet.
“May the sand flies of a thousand desert mounts lodge in your armpit‘, he cursed ‘dung-damned officers! “. He spat in the generals’ direction for good measure and then kicked angrily at the dust.
His men were working diligently, and had already removed a line of bar-mines that spanned the entrance to the gates. Dhakwan leant forward. He noticed a red and white traffic pole by his feet, the type used by military police. He kicked out, launching it towards the Griffon.
It was still chugging away with the crew positioned around its mortar. The Lascannon had been unloaded and was in the middle of the road. The track had been unceremoniously tipped into a drainage ditch. One of the Beddo’s was checking the weapons breach while the other one remained stationary, staring directly at Dhakwan.
I just can’t put my finger on it. Thought the sergeant, it’s the Griffon, there’s something about that Griffon.

The sappers were doing well, scurrying around like yellow ants. They had begun to dig up saucer-shaped anti-tank mines from the flowerbeds and were placing them in neat rows beside the road.
Dhakwan got up and walked over to the siege tank. Its crew immediately straightened up as he approached, and one or two of them shook each other, to make them aware that he was approaching. He gave them a friendly nod, but they did not acknowledge him. One of their NCO’s jumped down and smiled back at him, revealing a set of brown-stained teeth.
“Everything correct, Kameraden?” asked the grizzled arrival. Dhakwan waved him off.
“I’m just interested in old vehicles such as these. It’s a sort of hobby of mine”. The other NCO stared back, still grinning.
Dhakwan noticed that the Griffon was a Mark 3, an old variant, reliant and robust.
“I haven’t seen one of these for years’; he said questioningly ‘it’s almost an antique. How come you boys are still using it?” The other NCO shrugged his shoulders. He still grinned menacingly.
Painted on one side was the red scimitar emblem of the 22nd Al-Jazair Heavy Artillery.
“The 22nd? Your boys fought at the Dmitrienko Pass, if I remember rightly. You crushed the Ork vanguard of Zulbash the Cruel… Yes that’s right“. He was talking to himself now, as the other NCO had disappeared.
The half-track with the non-standard chain gun, and bore the white fist badge of the 190th Yan’an Infantry.

Decimated in the Reynoso Salient, no survivors…

He stopped dead in his tracks. He was not an intelligent man, more the hands on type. Things took a while to sink in. However, he did know a bit about military history, especially Handshaar’s glorious past. His heart missed a beat and he felt himself go cold.
He had seen these regimental insignia recently… at the Army Museum where his brother Tariq worked, and where he had got his uniform from. Dhakwan almost tripped and then looked quickly down. Protruding from between the tracks of the Griffon were a set of booted feet and a silver object. It was the silver gorget of a military policeman.

“Emperor’s throne…“

The man with the brown teeth was standing in front of him, still smiling that infuriating smile. Dhakwan felt a blow to his chest and then watched as the grinning man held out his arms to stop him from falling. He was gently placed down onto the hard ground and the grinning man muttered something in a strange tongue. Dhakwan was confused and frightened. He felt his head swimming and small stars began dancing in front of his eyes. His heart pounded hard and there was a strange throbbing sensation in his chest.
Dhakwan, Abdullah Dhakwan, purveyor of fine fruits and ex-sergeant in the Imperial Guard felt pleasantly cool as he lay on the ancient cobbles in front of the gate. He turned his head slightly and watched the grinning man running away from him, followed by more of the Beddo’s. He thought he could hear shots, an explosion maybe, but his hearing was beginning to fade.
As he slowly died, he looked up once more at the beautiful blue sky of his home world and saw that the sky was filled with long white streaks, the vapour trails from high altitude aircraft, lots of aircraft.

I am definitely having a bad day….

* * *
01-13-12 09:40 AM
Brother Emund SIXTH SQUAD UNDER the command of corporal Volker secured the barricades and then set up a perimeter defence. If the rebels mounted a counter-attack, they would be ready for them.
Meyer led a ad-hoc group on towards the main gates. His assault force was pitifully small. Forty able-bodied Guard against the Emperor-only-knew-what? They were supposed to be reinforced by second and third platoons, but they had met stiff resistance from a fanatical group of Beddo’s called the Amrtaka, and were being held at a small crossroads, a hair width away.

+ Send me what you’ve got Müller, we will be hard pushed to take the gates, One One Over +

Meyer shouted into the vox-caster, as yet another explosive round hit the building above his head. They were only two streets away from the main gate, but had come up against enemy armour. Two Leman Russ battle-tanks and a Chimera with a Quad-mount on its roof had suddenly appeared. Three Kopftjägers had already died trying to take them out with small arms and explosives.

+ Ampt is here with me with his tubes. I’ll send them up as quickly as I can. Setz from second Kompanie has lost two missile teams, and as for third or forth Kompanie’s, who knows where they are. It’s bloody chaos down here. These fanatics are coming at us from all directions, most of them are suicide troops so watch out, One Two Over +

+ Okay Müller, do your best, we’ll see you when we see you. One One, Out +

Meyer threw down the hand set, much to Anselm’s annoyance. He had only just got that one replaced after Meyer’s last tantrum.
“Schaeffer!” he roared. The Spiess appeared from behind an overturned four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle. He was covered in dust and looked like a ghost.

“The other two Kompanie’s are bogged down. We’ll have to try to take the target out with what we’ve got”. Schaeffer removed his cap and ran his fingers through his grey hair.
“With what, Oberleutnant? We have the equivalent of four Zügs left. We are meeting stiff resistance here and the gate is still a block away”.
Meyer smiled and then patted Schaeffer on the shoulder.
“You’ll find a way Rolph, you always do”. Schaeffer shook his head, stared long and hard at the officer and grinned.
“I do have my limitations you know”.

* * *

A SAND-COLOURED half-track rattled up to Bastion One and stopped with a heavy jerk and screeching of gears. A large cloud of black, acrid smoke billowed from its twin exhausts, partially concealing it from the men on the walls. A small flag of Handshaar fluttered from an aerial on its turret. Leaning out of the back of it were at least ten Handshaar PDF troopers, heavily armed and wearing ragged and war-ravaged uniforms.
Their route was blocked, two grim-faced military policemen stood in front of a barrier made of razor wire and metal girders. They carried red and white striped poles and heavy combat shotguns. They looked like they meant business.

An officer, standing in the doorway of one of the two rock-crete bunkers that stood either side of the main gate shook his head and nodded at a seated figure behind a large vox-box.
“More stragglers, or the first of the reinforcements we were promised”. His companion stood up and then stuck his head out of the firing slit. He frowned in annoyance.
“I need to stretch my legs. I’ll go down and get them moved. You man the vox. If they are deserters, I’ll shoot them here and now; if they are genuine help, I’ll send them south to back up Hazi’s mob on the barriers. They could do with some armour support”.
He stepped out of the bunker and climbed down a small ladder into a waist-high trench that was camouflaged with crude netting. Two Handshaari regulars manning a heavy-autogun immediately leapt to attention.
He was a political officer, a former Imperial Guard Commissar, who had gone rogue. Known as the Shakoosh Kabir - The sledgehammer, he ruled by terror and an iron fist.

He followed the trench until it came out into the open and was immediately hit by the blistering heat of the twin suns. Still unfamiliar or acclimatised to the conditions, he found the going hard. Energy was being leached from his body at an incredible rate.

Oh how he wished for the cool strato-plains of his Home world, Zoshchenko.

Pushing his weariness aside, he dropped down into a short support trench, which led to the barrier. Handshaari troopers moved out of his way as he approached. Any that did not move quickly enough received a blow from the hilt of his power sword
His title may have changed, but underneath he was still a Commissar, who had once been a loyal servant of the Emperor, and the men feared him.
That is, until he heard the words of his new King, and then, as if under a strange spell, he turned against the system he had served so diligently…
A rebel.

The trench came out onto Sharq Gharbn Shara -The East~West Highway, a road that ran parallel with the main gate and adjoining walls. An anti-tank barrier made up two municipal trams, turned over onto their sides, and blocked the road here. It was manned by one of the only regular infantry units on Handshaar. They were the 4th Khafju Guards, grim-faced, regular heavy infantry-types with a no-nonsense approach to fighting.

A wide strip of well-maintained gardens had been dug up into a defensive position. Sandbagged and flakboard bunkers were dotted at intervals between the fountains and marble statues that lined its route. An outsized three-tiered fountain containing a golden statue of some forgotten hero had been drained off and now housed a quad-mounted anti-aircraft gun. Ornamental shrubs and bushes that had stood for hundreds of years had been ruthlessly cut down to make clear areas of fire.
The Sappers had also been busy, criss-crossing the empty spaces with razor wire and explosives, especially lethal anti-personnel mines strung up amongst the heleconias and orchids.

The political officer stopped in front of the silent, foreboding shape of a Leman Russ battle tank. Its main guns were facing away from the gates and dominated the wide-open spaces and approach. The crew had stencilled ‘Amineh’ on its turret, which meant ‘Faithful’ in the local tongue. A second tank sat opposite with the name ‘Jamilah’ - ‘Beautiful’.
The officer grinned and thought about the irony of it all, such lovely names for such terrible weapons of destruction.

He turned back and looked at the main gates, the key to the city.

The Meridian Gate.

It was a mini-fortress in its own right, a formidable obstacle that would take a supreme effort to crack open. Standing twenty metres high and made of titanium, the gates were set in osmium, which was harder than diamond. They were two metres thick and protected by scatterguns, vicious rapid-firing weapons that spurted fletchette rounds down onto the heads of attacking infantry.
A huge drum tower stood either side, towering a further forty metres above. They contained large calibre guns and missile systems, as well as anti-aircraft mounts and projection beam weapons.
The six-lane highway that lead to the gate was reduced down to two, which crossed over a drawbridge that could be raised in an instant. The deadly moat would prevent an amphibious assault
These gun, missile and mechanical defences would protect the gates, but the real defences could not be really seen. The protective shield… a great dome of power that encased the city and made it impervious to any form of aerial attack.

Impressive…

On top of the towers, perched on top of their conical roofs were tall masts and these were the key. They were linked to others dotted along the walls and all linked to the main tower behind the Great Pyramid. While these remained standing, no army in the galaxy could take the city…

The crew of the half-track watched on in silence, as the political officer marched up.
“Where have you just come from? Who’s in charge here?”
The men on the half-track shook their heads and pointed back down the road. One of them was standing up and placed three fingers on his shoulder, indicating the rank of captain. He then pointed vigorously in the same direction. The Commissar shook his head.
“Move this heap down there and look sharpish, there are Imperial commando’s in the city”. The Sledgehammer was a man who always got his way; it was the natural order of things. He spoke and men ran. He relished in his nickname and enforced his will on a daily basis… He turned on his heel and began to make his way back to the bunker. After a few metres, he realised that the vehicle had not moved as ordered. He turned around and saw that the vehicle was still in the same place and had not moved. It sat there like a yellow beetle with its engine rattling, and its black exhaust smoke forming a haze around it. The two military policemen, who had been manning the barricade, were nowhere to be seen.
He pointed his sword at one of the crew of the half-track.
His voice was loud and two octaves higher than usual. “Didn’t you hear me you piece of rats filth, I said move your vehicle down the road and link up with colonel Haziz’s unit on 18th Street. Do as you are told or several of you will be Found wanting. Is that clear? “

A gaggle of Handshaar militia had marched up, and had now halted, waiting patiently for the ex-commissar to get out of the way so they could get on with their job. Most of them were sappers, but the provosts had pressed a few ’volunteers’ to join them in their dangerous work. They were all worn out, and exhausted by heavy work and the sapping heat from the twin-suns.
They were all carrying anti-tank mines, spades and picks. They had a savage, mutinous look in their eyes. The political officer turned his attention to them.
“Was I speaking the same language as those dotards, did they not hear me?’ some of the rebels sniggered.
There was a shout from one of the bunkers by the gate and a Handshaari officer began waving frantically at him. He pointed at the group of sappers and singled out a fat NCO at the front wearing a faded uniform.
‘You there, sergeant what’s-your-name…?”
The NCO came slowly to attention. “Sergeant Dhakwan, sir, 25th Ad-hoc Pioneer platoon, 213th Infantry…” The Sledgehammer held up his hand, a signal to cease.
“Wonderful, you’ll do. Get that mob in the vehicle moving. If they don’t move sharpish, come and get me. I will confine them all to a penal regiment, and send them outside the walls and face the Imperials. See how they like that”.
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