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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-26-12 07:55 PM
Liliedhe Last second entry... ;)

On Innocence

There is an old, old belief, found in many cultures, that an innocent, a true innocent is capable of stopping a raging beast. That maybe pure Innocence, unable to contemplate the thought that any harm might come to it, renders the destructive will impotent, unable to maim the thing that gazes at it with absolute trust.

I used to scoff at this. Or rather, I would have scoffed, had I known about this sort of idea. I didn’t, for where I come from, there is no room for innocence. The thought that naiveté might stop a raging carnosaur is absurd – or rather, it would be absurd. It could never be put to the test on my world, because nobody is innocent there. Even the smallest child is aware of the ephemerality of its existence.

Life is fragile, short and worthless there. On Cretacia, from the moment you are born, you know that all you can aspire to is to leave enough of a mark on the world that when you succumb to mortality, you will be worthy of a burial, instead of being left to the jungle. And even if you are one of the chosen few, one of those taken in by the gods to become one of them, it does not change.

Innocence is not anything we contemplate. Not until something happened to me that makes me wonder now.


Battle was over, for now. The Tau and their gue’vesa lay dead on the floor of the Apothecarion. The smell of blood was strong in the air. Some of the dead were still burning... Watch-Captain Thomasius saw the flames, and other flames, too. Flames that were only burning in his mind.

Flames that shouldn’t stop him. There were traitors to kill. He tried to get up. Useless, his armour was all seized up, heavily damaged. If his scorched lungs had permitted it, he would have roared his frustration.

“Captain.”

A soft voice, lilting. A strange accent. “Captain, let me look at those wounds.”

Thomasius growled, raising his powerfist. Enemies. That was all he could see with his half blinded eyes. He was dying and he wanted to take them with him; nothing else mattered.

A strong grip took hold of his arm, gently, but inexorably, pushing it down. “Captain. It is me, Juhani. The Apothecary.”

Thomasius lashed out with his other fist. Too slow, he did not connect. The other continued to talk.

“Captain. The battle is over. The Tau are dead. You were hit badly. I can help you.”

“No... help. Dying... It’s over...”

“Absolutely not. It is not over, Captain. We have a lot to do still. Do not give up.”

Pain crept into his senses, as the voice forced him to concentrate on it. The flames began to die down. The stench of burning flesh began to drown out the smell of the blood. His eyes focussed a little.

The Apothecary was kneeling in front of him, one hand on his shoulder, the other still immobilising his Powerfist. Clad only in Power Armour, he seemed so slight. Too slight to stop Thomasius in his Terminator plate, had he not been wounded so badly...

“Captain. Do you hear me now?”

“Apothecary...”

“Yes. You took a plasma shot to the face, Captain, the Emperor damn those Tau...”

Thomasius merely growled again. Talking was too hard. Concentration was still fleeting, and the flames had not yet withdrawn completely.

Unhesitangly, the Apothecary began to work on his face, cleaning off the dead tissue, sealing the open wounds, applying painbalm and drugs to aid the healing process.

Halfway between here and there, the Captain barely felt a thing. He didn’t remember the battle. He barely remembered being shot. He gasped. He had been almost gone, he must have been... Why else was he missing so much? He had been wounded before... This had to be a last moment of calm...

“Apothecary.” He grabbed the younger Space Marine’s gauntlet in his large fist. There was the bulky Narthecium affixed to his vambrace and the storage units for the progenoid glands that were removed upon a Battle Brother’s death. Most of them were full.

“Mine. You must take mine. Now.”

“No, Captain. Never.” The boy recoiled. Boy... No, he was not a boy. He was a Space Marine, though he was so young. Thomasius fixed those calm blue eyes through the other’s lenses.

“I was almost lost. I tried to attack you. No choice. No chance. Take them. Now. Before... I am lost, they are lost...”

“NO.” The voice was still soft, still gentle, but full of steel now. “I will not kill you. You are not lost. We need you.” The Apothecary held the Captain’s gaze unflinchingly. “You are still here.”

Thomasius snarled. His breath hitched in his throat, and he struggled against the others grip, but Juhani never faltered. Finally, the flames died down. The pain subsided to a dull ache. The Watch-Captain shook his head to clear it.

“You do not understand. It...”

“I do not need to understand.” The Apothecary finally let him go and got up. “You are hurt, but not so badly. You can still fight and there are a lot of enemies left.” He held out his hand.

To this day, I don’t know why I took his hand and let him help me up. I don’t know why I followed him. I wonder why I had not killed him, while I was gone so far. All I know is that on this day, my time had not yet come. Maybe Sanguinius was with me, or the Emperor. I don’t know what it was that stopped me.

Maybe a certain old belief is true.

---From the Memories of Watch-Captain Armin Thomasius of the Deathwatch, formerly of the Flesh Tearers


963 Words
12-25-12 10:03 PM
andygorn “A Courtly Summons” (1100 words)


The sleepy quiet of Karstwald village is shattered by the harsh sounds of heavy-booted halberdiers kicking down doors and dragging eight young people from their family homes: six men, two women.
“Orders of the Countess!” is the only reason their protesting parents are given.
Even this pathetic, vague excuse is only given after repeated shouts and then, only offered begrudgingly. It is almost as though the guards think the peasants should be eternally grateful that they are being told anything at all.

Ignominiously herded onto the back of rickety carts, they are driven several hours to the Castle Von Ahlenberg. Then ushered individually into plush, fire-lit rooms, they await further orders from their rulers.

Coming from a life of fealty -and also witness to the new punishments which the Count deals out to criminals- the young people’s feelings are ones of bewilderment and muted subservience, not anger.

Separated from everyone by solid oaken doors and panelling, Jurgen Mafeal cannot hear the harsh soft clicks of heels upon marble as the Countess advances to meet him; her first invitee.

His eyes widen and he spins around as the engraved brass door-handle turns and she enters. Her body is clasped in a figure-hugging gown, coloured green after her aged husband’s household banners.

“You work my husband’s lands and you also pay homage to my father, the Duke..?”
“Yes Milady!” comes his ragged voice.
“Then you shall do as I order without question, no matter what I ask.”
Though her noting of social status is unnecessary, the statement falls heavily upon him, snaring him just as securely as a gallows rope about his neck: refusing Lord -or Lady- Von Ahlenberg anything now carries the death penalty.

“I have a sensitive question to ask, yet I know you shall answer it: you are innocent, yes..?”She enquires softly, encouraging him to drink the large glass of wine she proffers.
Though taken by surprise by her forwardness, there is something about the Countess’ will which cannot be denied.

Swiftly draining the goblet, he responds: “Yes, Milady. My fiancée Ensadora and I are saving ourselves for the wedding next Spring.”

The noblewoman’s face falls at his reply, yet her shadowed eyes cannot hide a satisfied glint which tells him she knows more than him. “Is she the same Ensadora from nearby Kaiterheim?” the Countess asks.
“Yes Milady, the Mayor’s daughter. We were engaged last Autumn. Why? Is something wrong..? Or...is there something which I should know about her..?”

The faltering, yet earnest, manner of Jurgen’s question recklessly reveals his deep care for his wife-to-be. Kristen ponders whether she should reveal all she knows about his intended.
However, an immediate pressure at her temples decides her against disclosing everything. Instead, she holds back the tastiest morsels; ones to be reviewed again in later delectation.

“Perhaps it is not for me to say...” she teases. “God! Everyone hereabouts knows my old, fat husband! More than anyone, I know there are times when wives must keep secrets.”

Offended by the Countess’ insinuation, Jurgen skirts around the woman’s revelations and replies strongly: “No! Ensadora and I have no secrets for each other! We are in love! I will not hear such an accus..!”

Kristen’s hand closes around his neck, cutting off the remainder of his outburst. She shoves him back into the couch and pins him there.
Damn him! His denial brings her plans forward before their time!
Despite his muscular physique, Jurgen is unable to break free from the slender grip. He tells himself that her anger is the reason why her small frame possesses far more strength than it would appear.

Releasing his bruised throat with a look of shame upon her face, the Countess scolds herself, even though he has no right of redress against her assault.
“I have been unkind to you...I can see that. I could make things better if you wished?
"My chambers are next door. As your ruler, I know you would not deny me.
“Anyway, you wouldn’t be giving me anything which your betrothed hasn’t already eagerly discarded as though it -and you- meant nothing to her...”


Feeling utterly betrayed by his only love -and powerless to refuse the order- Jurgen unwittingly allows the Countess' lies to lead his submissive body to her darkened chambers. As the heavy doors close, he fails to hear them lock behind him.

She lights several candles which illuminate her winsome form and picks a huge red apple from a nearby fruit bowl, turning towards him.
Maybe it is the earlier fortified wine, but his eyes must be deceiving him, because the flickering candlelight gives the usually dark russet fruit a deep, solid gold glow.

Seeing him shake his head at the illusion, she enquires of him:
“Have you ever seen me eat? Few have. It is quite a sight! I am a generous hostess...I shall not disappoint you.”

Before he can react, she quickly drags Jurgen to the far side of the bed, where he cannot be seen from the doorway. He feels strangely numbed and weakened, unable to resist her encouraging limbs. Is this some new kind of heady perfume, perhaps?

However, where she earlier promised seduction, her swift actions revealed themselves to be nothing more than blindingly-quick assaults and savage rending of his young flesh.
No-one in the rest of the castle will ever hear his screams, let alone the soft slurping sounds as she eats her gluttonous fill.

When it is over, she does not even look down at the twitching mass of broken bones and ribbons of flayed skin which formerly called itself a human being.
Instead, she changes her blood-sodden dress, then moves to another room, ready to resume the faux-seductions, punishments and brutality all over again.

Her thirst is insatiable, yet she has arrogantly deluded herself that tonight will see the end of it.

Driven to mete out ‘justice’ for the capture and abuses she suffered at the hands of Karstwald’s militia when she was their age, she must wreak vengeance upon the remaining eighteen-year olds tonight: for tomorrow marks the two hundredth anniversary of those abominable crimes.

Wearing the illusory guise of Countess Kristen Von Ahlenberg, Sharessa (and her master Slaanesh) know intimately that innocence is nothing but human frailty: a so-called ‘treasure’ which can be traded, sacrificed, broken, or thrown away...whatever the circumstances, each garners equal measures of satisfaction and sustenance.

Whether such a thing is given up voluntarily, or whether it is ripped and torn away from an unwilling victim, both are equally pleasurable and the difference between them is nothing but mere semantics to such entities.
12-20-12 05:47 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Washed Clean
HOES 12-12: Innocence


Seimunda watched the world turn around her.

The impact was harder than expected so she missed the exact moment the water closed around her. Instinct clamped her jaw closed.

Her eyes opened on waving pondweed and a startled trout. She had always had the knack of tickling fish and it looked like it would make a good meal; it was a shame her hands were bound.

The day had started so well. The blossom had come out on the green. She had found a clump of merricks that would have gone well with the fish.

Then lies ruined it.

* * *

Seimunda reminded Gammer again that the rub was for external use. After showing him out she latched the door and collapsed into a chair. The dandelion rub would help him stay mobile day-to-day but periodically he needed the kinks working out of his back which was always tiring. He had always been kind though so she didn't begrudge the effort. She should go gathering before dark set in. Maybe a short sit down and a tisane would perk her up.

*Bang*

Something struck the door hard, shattering the latch.

*Bang*

The remains of the door fell inward. A hulking figure filled the doorway. Stepping forward it raised its hammer again.

"This is cold iron, harlot. You'll not use your wiles on me!" Ethric Smith surged forward and grabbed her neck with his free hand. Despite her lack of struggle he squeezed hard enough to bring spots as he pulled her from her chair. She desperately tried to keep up as he backed out the door, his bulk knocking bunches of herbs from the ceiling and sweeping a pot from the table.

Standing outside her hut were Edric's wife Frowin, his sister Perdis Wheeler, and her husband Torben. Torben looked slightly shocked at the violence but the women bore identical looks of sharp pleasure.

* * *

She could feel herself starting to drift. The current was pulling her down and along.

She needed to keep calm. Panicking would just use up her time. They would pull her out again. Eventually.

* * *

"...And my Oswik died the night later."

Seimunda tried to avoid snorting as another wife giving finished her tale of evil magic leading a virtuous husband astray. Never mind that Oswik smelled of the pig shit he shovelled everyday. And never mind that she had come to Seimunda asking for a potion to make him last longer. And most of all never mind that the one time Oswik had come calling Seimunda had chased him and his grasping ways out with a skillet. This was her chance to get revenge for Seimunda looking young and pretty so Seimunda must have wanted him so badly she called on evil magic.

"He... he fell from the tree outside the chapel," said Father Grevil, "I do not think our Lord would let magic work on holy ground. It was an accident I am sure."

"You're to look after our souls Father, so 'tis right as you might see the good in people," replied Ethric, "But you ain't listening to t'evidence. 'Tis clear she uses subtle wiles such as a holy man wouldn't understand."

Subtle wiles? So subtle she was unaware of them herself. And as for a holy man not recognising wiles, Grevil was the first one who had not tried his own wiles at the first chance.

"So you've heard evidence. But as Father Grevil do say they could all just of been ill luck. Afore we burns her as evil there should be a testing so none ask as was right." Ethric pointed at the millpond. "'Tis known water being pure will turn from evil. If'n she floats then 'tis clear she ain't what she claims."

What she claimed? To claim she would need to speak. But Ethric had kept her gagged all afternoon to prevent her using her wiles. If it weren't for Grevil she did not think anyone would have suggested she might not be guilty. She suspected that they would not have bothered with even this much of a trial if they did not fear the Baron calling her death murder.

* * *

A trickle of bubbles swam past her eyes and she realised her mouth had opened.

The mill wheel brushed her ankle yanking her deeper before casting her off. As the bottom rose up to meet her the last few bubbles slipped from her mouth. Following nature and not superstition the water was more than willing to take their place.

She felt the pressure of the wheel leave but the darkness rose faster and her thoughts flowed out.

* * *

*Blugt*

Her lungs ached as air forced its way back in. Once she was able she held her breath and listened.

Only the sound of wind. She lay on a hard rough surface. Opening her eyes she saw cloth and a gentle flicker. Rough linen. She was laid out for burial. She let one arm drop off the bier and waited.

When no one reacted again she reached up and folded off her. Sitting she confirmed she was in the church with a single candle for company. Dropping silently to the floor she padded over to the door and peered out. The village lay in darkness. Creeping out she moved from tree to tree, gathering blossom.

After she had filled her arms she returned to the bier and piled it in a long heap. With the shroud replaced it looked like a body. That should give them pause when they came back. They would certainly remember all the help she had given; help that was just mundane herb lore. Maybe they would even start listening to Grevil.

So many villages over so many years and so many bitter people ready to assume she used magic to achieve so many things; but none of them had ever wondered if it was possible to use magic to stop your breathing for just a while.


- 988 words
12-20-12 08:15 AM
ckcrawford
The Presumption of Innocence


Word Count=1096



The Imperial Guardsmen bayonets clashed against the armor of the Night Lords in the rain. They had done nothing but stall the advance of the traitors. The guardsmen had returned to the earth they were born from, as their mangled and mutilated corpses fell against the mud. Most of these corpses were little more than boys that had been forced into conscription days ago. The Night Lords hacked as both blood and rain sprayed against their armor. In fact it was nearly impossible to see the blood in the darkness and rain.

Two remaining guardsmen stood before the ten Night Lords in the rain. The one closer to the Lords of Night screamed at the other one. “Run! Run away Joe! I’ll hold them back!” The taller of the Night Lords brought up his knee and stomped on the man’s chest. He tried to scream as blood clogged up his throat. His scream was nothing more than a loud cough. The rain washed the blood of his face and streamed it into the red mud that lay underneath him. The smaller guardsmen turned and tried to run, but was stopped by five more Night Lords. One of the Night Lords grabbed him and took him with them to the guardsmen groaning in the bloody mud. The guardsmen on the mud tried to shout out words, only to cough up more blood. He finally managed to spill out some words as he saw the guardsmen of the boy that was thrown before him. “No!” More blood spilled out from his throat. “Not my son! Please! I beg you! He is innocent, he is just a boy.” The Night Lords looked at one another. The taller one with the bigger fist and decorated helm finally spoke in a deep robotic tone. “There are more youths in the city. This cowardly boy will not survive the process. Let us spread fear and dread into this old man’s heart.” Four of the Knight Lords each grabbed one of the boy’s limbs. The boy was no more than 66 inches and looked like a stuffed animal being pulled by four men clad in armor. His tears could hardly be seen, but they could still feel the sorrow and fear in the boy’s eyes as their hearts filled up with joy. Another Night Lord walked up to the child with two sharp knives. He ripped the guardsmen uniform off from his chest and started working his instruments into the boy’s chest. The boy screamed as the knives started to cut him open. The father watched as his son was screaming. Hate and sorrow filled the old man, as he was unable to defend his son.

The boy’s guts were coming out of his body and yet the boy was still alive. “That’s enough, let us make haste before the other warbands take all the stock.” The four Night Lords grabbing the boy’s four limbs pulled as the boy’s limbs cracked and the boy screamed out his last cry. The boy had been ripped into four parts. One of the Night Lords had a leg attached to the torso and slammed the body on the ground while he laughed. “Looks like I’ve won again.” The rest of the Night Lords followed in his laughter as they walked amongst the strong rain towards the city.

Critan was a shadow of its former glory. The city’s Imperial Governor had sacrificed all boys and girl above the age of thirteen to give time for Imperial Reinforces to arrive. Mothers and grandparents were huddled around the remaining children hiding in cupboards and behind furniture. Every so often a scream could be heard. They were completely defenseless now, with the only hope that they would be unnoticed. A young woman with five kids was wrapped around the same blanket. She held two babies in her arms with both hands covering their mouths. She had two boys and a daughter all under the age of ten. They were her life, and she had done everything to try and save them. Olga was her name, and she knew that she was a widow. No word from the Guardsmen Regiments had come to the city since the last conscripts had been sent to die.

The door suddenly crashed open with wood flying inwards in different directions. Olga and her children looked up through the gaps in the wooden floor. For all her efforts she could not stop her babies from crying and coughing. They had not eaten in days and her foolish babies could not control their innocent needs. Tears rolled down her eyes, as she knew that her children and her had been found.

A pair of dark blue gauntlets pierced the oak wood floors and pulled her through the floor. He threw Olga aside. Two more Night Lords made there way inside her residence and pulled her children from the hiding place. They threw the two boys aside with their mother. “NO! Not by babies! Please! Leave my babies alone!” She tried to reach for her babies and was pushed against the floor. One of the Night Lords spoke. “Take the suitable ones and let’s go!” He stormed out to meet the other prisoners in the other residences when all of a sudden a loud bang hit the side of her house, followed with a cloud puffed with red. Olga first looked at the wall where the bolter round had gone through. She suddenly heard a big thump hit the floor. She quickly turned around to see her headless daughter’s corpse. Olga jumped at her side, terrified and shocked, and screeching her cries. “NO! WHY! WHY DID YOU DO THIS! Why?” She closed her eyes as she held her daughter’s corpse. All of a sudden she heard loud thumping on the walls. She quickly opened her eyes to see her two babies being battered amongst the walls and thrown to the other side of the room. She ran at the Night Lords as they dragged her remaining sons out with them. She was battered to the floor with a backhand. “You cowards! They were innocent!” The Night Lords paused. One of them took of their helmet and turned around. His smile was wide with sharp teeth and purple lips. He had scars all over his pale warped face. He walked towards her and said, “How dare you speak to me of innocence. No child is innocent from the deeds of his father!” He grabbed the woman shouted, “LOOK AT ME! I am son of the Night Haunter, I know.”
12-18-12 11:04 PM
Keen4e This is the first time I am ever trying to post for a competition, so I hope I got everything right.

Killing the sick.
1084 words.

Two young twins were sitting in a classroom. They had the extremely rare pariah gene and once it was discovered the Inquisition immediately took interest in them. They were physically fit for service and they would make a great asset to the Ordo Hereticus in their witch hunting duties. The only inconvenience was, that they actually refused to serve the Inquisition. They were very stubborn and not even threats could convince them otherwise. While some puritans wanted to execute them for impiety, a radical Inquisitor took charge of them. To his mind it would be an extreme waste to kill them. He wanted to understand, why they did not want to serve. Obviously they were no cowards. When he asked them, they answered with contempt, saying that the Inquisition kills thousands of innocents every day. The inquisitor smiled at their naivety and said "No one really is innocent in this Universe. Even the purest can be corrupted. Let me tell you a story."

Huskin was a farmer at some poorly developed agri-world. The tithes were high and he had to work hard to feed his family, but he did not complain. He went to church everyday and prayed to the Emperor. He never asked anything from Him. He always prayed to praise Him. He praised him for giving him his beloved wife, he praised him for beautiful moon revolving around his world, he praised him for his protection and so on. He hardly had to confess to any sins. Even when the crops were bad, he still did not lose his eternal optimism and his faith in the Emperor's protection and benevolence.
However that changed on the day, when his wife got terribly sick. The town's healer told Huskin, that she would probably die. He was desperate. He pleaded the good doctor to save her, he said he would do anything. Seeing Huskin so desperate the doctor found a victim. He showed him some ancient book. When he saw the first several pages Huskin recognised, that something was terribly wrong with it. He knew it was some sort of terrible witchcraft. "It is either that, or your wife dies." said the doctor to the farmer. So Huskin agreed to cure his wife using witchcraft. The ingredients for her cure were disgusting, but the cure had almost immediate effect. She got on her feet the day after. However it was at a horrible cost. She mutated. No one could really see it at the first sight. There were only hints. Bugs were coming into Huskin's house and it was more and more difficult getting rid of them. Then the flies came. They were somehow attracted by Huskin's wife. She ate less and yet became very fat. When she came to see the doctor, he was fascinated by the results, but reassured her, that this was a usual body reaction after the treatment he gave her.
She was horribly mutating and had to hide from people. Huskin was trying to put more pressure on the doctor, but instead of trying to help, he was just keen on studying his wife. That is when he realised that she has been part of a horrible experiment. Not even an experiment: a ritual. He threatened the doctor to denounce him, but the doctor just laughed at him. He knew Huskin would not do that for fear of his family being accused of consorting with dark powers. That was a great mistake. At this point things could have still been stopped quickly.
His wife left him. She feared to spread her contagion to his whole family. Wherever she went, death and plague followed. At first she was horrified with it, but she soon began to like it. She chose the path of damnation. Those wicked souls who follow Nurgle, believe that decay is the most natural state. They enjoy seeing it around them and yet they fear it. They are driven by the will of mastering it. They want immortality so they pay the price for it whatever their twisted god asks. That was hers case. She began to fear death, but enjoyed bringing misery and decay upon others. More people followed. Their cult was now so powerful, that not even the Arbites dared to cross it's path. More and more people, came to seek her 'blessings' for fear of their deaths or their loved one's. They did not realise, that once in Nurgle's power immortal life is a curse. When the governor finally recognised, that he could not contain the cult, he called for help. I was there. Just an acolyte like you following an Inquisitor's orders, but I was there. And I witnessed incredible horrors. People loosing painfully their legs in horrible mutations, while maggots were crawling out of them. People who in their madness were rubbing their faces with rat blood hoping to get some of the diseases, so that the plague god notices them. They all had to be burned in cleansing fire. But the worst was still to come. When we struck at the heart of the heretic's nest, we finally saw Huskin's wife. She and her cult were performing a great ritual, thanking their twisted god. They summoned little evil creatures called nurglings, who were eating rotted food from their tables. Some worshippers spread waters from sewers around the place to increase the horrible stench coming from their so called temple. Huskin's wife was no longer recognisable as human. She was nothing but a giant fat creature without teeth. Long grey, greasy hair covered all of her naked body. Her sweat and saliva were green. Whenever she coughed, people tried to approach her, hoping to receive more of Nurgle's blessings.

Emperor's justice had to be swift. We purged the whole place with holy fire and took her for interrogation. That is how I learned what happened on that world. So you may think of us Inquisitors as zealous fanatics and some of us are. Especially the puritans. But I belong among those, who are well aware of the fact, that we may be evil, but we are necessary evil. If we kill innocent lives, it is not because we enjoy it. It is because we try to save more of them. If we allow ourselves any compassion with the so called innocent people like Huskin, we endanger our whole species. Who gave us the right to take such difficult decisions? Well it is by the Emperor's mandate, that we protect humanity from the Warp.
12-11-12 10:49 PM
son of azurman romero whats your title and word count?
12-11-12 03:33 PM
Romero's Own False Innocence

1100 words not including title

I could feel my lifeblood flowing from my wounds. I pulled my hand before my face and saw, in the dim light, the crimson blood that covered it. I knew I was in bad shape. I could feel blood pumping from my head but that wasn’t the worst. The worst part was that I couldn’t feel my legs.

I lay back my head and it fell into the thick mud that was sucking my body under as I lay there dying. I doubted they would ever find my body, the mud I had fought upon becoming my grave. Maybe no-one would even look for me. I was no-one, just one guardsman among billions. And I was dying, like millions of my kind had before me. I never saw the enemy that had shot me down. All I had felt was the pain as the bullets ate away my lower body and knocked into the mud.

Maybe it was a blessing. With the blood in my eyes I never saw the enemy surge forwards and slaughter my platoon around me, wicked blades cutting the young and innocent men I had known for so long. Somehow I survived, but I almost wish I hadn’t. Now there was no-one to end my suffering as I lay there, dying.

My eyes grew heavy and I could almost see death, like some dark cloud descending upon me. I gave in; there was nothing left for me in the mortal world. My eyes closed and my fevered and dying mind flung me into a warped dreamland from whence I would never return.

I knew what I would see even before the darkness cleared. The sun was shining, just like it had been on that day so many years ago. I had seen this sequence in my nightmares near every night since it had happened, I could remember every detail. I looked around me and sure enough saw the cursed squad that used to be my own.

To my left ran Cooper, his uniform as clean and smart as it had been the day he died, the vox-caster slung upon his back. I could see his lips moving quickly, barking orders and information. It made no difference.

I turned to my right and like I knew I would I saw Lucas running. He turned to me and smiled, like he had every night since he had died. A tear came to my eye. Lucas had been my friend since I was no more than five summers old and I had to watch him die a thousand times.

Just ahead of me I could see the tall figure of the Seargent. Seargent Thompson, known as the Bear by his platoon for his strength and determination. It was said that when he had something in his mouth there was nothing that could make him let go. I watched with dread as his head began to turn back to me. I tried to look away but I couldn’t. My eyes were drawn to the man who had taught me all I knew.

Thompson’s head exploded in an instant. Blood and brains splattered across my face. The suddenly headless corpse crumbled to the ground like a ragdoll.

I turned to Lucas only to see his smiling face urn to one of excruciating pain. I could only watch as the gunfire cut him nearly clean in half, his blood and guts spilling forth as he fell forwards. I heard myself cry out and throw myself to the ground. I landed hard upon the stone streets of the village.

I looked across and saw Cooper lean forwards only to spin backwards and pirouette. Although I knew the truth I could not draw my eyes away from the spinning man. And then I saw once more the deep bullet wound that had near ripped his shoulder clean off. He was dead before he hit the ground.

I shouted again but with the death of Cooper I was all alone with no-one to help me. I scrambled to my feet even as gunfire rained down around me. I ran towards the nearest doorway, arms over my head to try and protect myself from the red-hot death that was raining down form an unseen enemy.

I dived forwards and slid into the small doorway that at least provided me some shelter from the gunfire. I looked out across the blood-stained street, littered with the bodies of my friends and comrades. They were all dead.

I took deep gulps of air in an attempt to gain some control over my frantic heart that beat so fast I feared it would break through my chest. I managed to slow it to at least a point where I no longer feared a heart attack and listened. The gunfire had stopped and the village was once more still and silent as the grave.

Over the still air I heard high voices. At first I suspected some foul alien but upon listening to their words I realized I could understand them. They were talking in the same tongue as I did myself. It was then I realized that I faced children. It had been a child that had shot down Lucas A child that had wiped out the rest of my squad. My mind whirled.

My training demanded I avenge my comrades to the best of my ability and that would mean moving to attack these child soldiers. But my heart was screaming that they were just children, they couldn’t have any idea what they were doing. However my mind was quickly made up for me.

I heard footsteps approaching and flattened my back against the rickety doorway I was sheltering in. I peered out and saw two small children, neither more than 11 summers old, walking along the street, clutching autoguns in their hands. I watched with held breath as they approached the bodies of my squad.

I saw red when one boy leant over and spat upon the corpse of Lucas and laughed with his friend. Not a simple childlike laugh, but a laugh of pure malice. These children knew what they were doing, and liked it.

When I woke up I was lying in a hospital ward. I later learned that I had been found beside the bodies of two infant children. No-one ever looked at me in the same way again. My simple innocence was lost that day. And that day would plague me for the rest of my life.

My dreams slowly drifted to deep sleep. A deep sleep I knew I would never wake from.
12-11-12 09:56 AM
The Son of Horus The Enemy Within
1026 words.


There was a nearly imperceptible hiss and the door closed behind the aspirants. With its closure, all light from the corridor outside was quenched. The only light in the cold flagstone chamber came from servo-skulls bearing candles hovering by the shoulder of each of the assembled boys, and circling above the giant of a man that stood behind them clad in baroque armor of jet black. Occasionally, the light would catch an engraving on the flagstone walls of the room, but never well enough to make out the markings to the unaided eye.

“Your final trial,” intoned the bass voice of the Chaplain from behind the aspirants. A pair of glowing eyes pierced the darkness beyond, and the distinct sound of heavy footfalls and the scrape of steel manacles on the flagstone floor echoed. The aspirant at the fore of the group, Varnus, found his breath catching in his throat, and his heart rate increasing.

After several moments, the footfalls and the scraping stopped, and another giant man, clad in a simple robe stood before the aspirants. His hands and ankles were bound by massive chains, though he was free to walk and could outstretch his arms. They were very obviously symbolic more than practical. In one hand, he bore a set of obsidian beads, ending in a small, horned, golden skull. The Astartes spoke quietly, in a voice starkly contrasting the stern Chaplain’s. “Who is first?”

Varnus stepped forward. The Librarian outstretched his free hand, and placed it on Varnus’ forehead. There was a flash of light from the psyker’s palm, and Varnus found himself no longer standing in the cold chamber in the Librarius. He and the Librarian, who was now clad in royal blue armor, but still bearing the heavy steel manacles, stood alone on a mountaintop.

“I am Erias, and I am a witch,” said the Librarian softly. “You are Varnus, Aspirant of the Lions Rampant Chapter.” Varnus nodded, looking around. Warm fog swirled about both of them, and he could see little past it.

“Where are we?” asked Varnus.

“You tell me,” replied Erias. “You are in control here.” Varnus appeared confused, and looked up at the tired features of the Librarian. “We are in your mind,” explained the witch.

“What am I supposed to do, Brother Erias?” asked Varnus, finding no sign of anything other than endless swirling mists, the distinctive thin air of a mountaintop, and the stone beneath his feet.

“What do you think you are capable of, Varnus? Shall we see?” said Erias.

Varnus found himself now standing on broken earth, churned mud saturated with the blood of slain men before him. He felt larger, and stronger, and distinctly powerful. He became aware of the weight of a sword in his hands. He looked up, and men fled before him. Varnus felt a fire building within him, and without consciously trying, he outstretched one of his hands, and cerulean lightning leapt forth from his fingertips. One of the men fleeing from him was struck squarely in the back and instantly reduced to little more than ash.

Varnus became distinctly aware of himself being disembodied, and saw himself from several yards away. Horns jutted from his brow, and his eyes glowed an unnatural color. He continued throwing psychic lightning, contemptuously slaughtering those who stood before him in witchfire. He moved with inhuman speed, and his shadow appeared to move of its own accord behind him. Everything about this version of himself was utterly monstrous and plainly wrong.

“I don’t understand,” said Varnus.
“This is your soul,” said Erias. “Mine is little different. It is unnatural. It is flawed. It is dangerous.” The vision ended, and the pair stood alone on the mountaintop again. Several moments passed, and Erias spoke again. “Do you understand what will happen now?”

Varnus felt his stomach knotting. He pushed down the growing rage and disbelief at what the Librarian had shown him. “I am not like you,” said Varnus, voice wavering.

“I wish things were different, Varnus,” said Erias. “I will tell you what I tell all who come before me like this—you are innocent. You are dangerous. But you are innocent. You have not become that monster you saw, and soon, Chaplain Loren will ensure you never do. Had you only endured the trials of the Black Ships, and not come before us like this, perhaps you would have found a place amongst these weary ranks of the Librarius.”

“Why does it matter?” snapped Varnus. “You can’t know the future! What does it matter if I might be able to do the things you showed me?”

The mists surrounding Varnus and Erias faded, and a sky the color of freshly-spilled blood appeared. Winged monsters swept across it, gnawing at men and women clutched in gore-slicked talons. The thunderclap of bolter fire punctuated the relative silence of the mountaintop. It came from white-armored Astartes, trimmed in green—Lions Rampant. But their helmets were horned, and the trim was irregular and ended in arrows and spikes. At their fore was the same twisted version of Varnus, clad in similar armor. Great, leathery wings came from his back, and he towered over the other Astartes. Great lightning strikes flew from his hands, and before them, men bearing the Aquila on their breasts perished.

“This is why it matters,” said Erias, shaking his head. “This is one of several possible futures. But in every one, you are a witch, just as I,” he said. “Here, you have damned us all. Though you have not yet done anything wrong, we cannot risk this becoming so.”

The vision of hell ended. The mountaintop faded, and Varnus became distinctly aware of the glow from Erias’ palm receding. He found himself standing in the chamber in the Librarius, covered in a cold sweat. Warding runes glowed on the walls, stifling the psychic energy unleashed moments before. Erias looked to the Chaplain, quietly said, “There is psychic potential,” and then looked down at the flagstone floor.

Varnus turned around, and found the Chaplain’s bolt pistol leveled at his forehead. “The Emperor forgives you,” said Chaplain Loren, and pulled the trigger.
12-05-12 11:07 PM
gothik
Innocence Lost

Innocence Lost

Word Count: 1012 (not including title)


The Kids knew nothing about war, fresh faced young enthusiastic kids, in with the new transfers from the Home World to bolster our numbers on this Emperor forsaken world. They are all eager and they are all mine to introduce to the reality of the wars, and not the romantic stories of heroism and valour that no doubt the elders tell at home.

I am Sergeant Cordax of the Nova Scotia 53rd foot sloggers. We have been on this world of Agamemnon IX for three years; the forces of the arch enemy have dug in tight and what started as so called simple battlefield skirmishes turned into entrenched warfare. It’s a cluster frag and the big bosses know that.

Not that anyone is stupid enough to voice it; I’ve seen the Commissar shoot people for less. I look to the heavens and, not for the first time, wondered if the Emperor was really with us, or if it was just some big fruck off joke. You know, the Emperor is all watching and we are taught to believe that he is everlasting. Sometimes I wonder if he is not just laughing, cause he sure as hell hasn’t heard any of my prayers for the last twenty years.

With some reluctance I look at my orders once more, we are to infiltrate the enemy lines and get back some of our men they have captured. One of them is Captain Lorenzo, our commander, I don’t have much hope getting him back, and chances are he’s dead, or at least he had better be. Cause if we bring him back and the Intelligence guys get their hands on him, or the Commissariat, he will want to be.

I light a cigar and offer up a prayer to the old man, take a last look at my squad of rookies and turn to my Corporal and shrug.

“Let’s move”

“Sarge, they are just kids, they won’t know how to do this, it’s not like the training fields at home….”

I cut him off with a look, I can see his point and I understand his statement, but in this day and age we do not have the luxuries of easing the newbies into a mission, not anymore. He understands, good ole Jockie, he always understands, and he doesn’t like it any more than I do, but he understands and with a couple of harsh words that cover his concern for the kids, he gets them to move out.

++++

Its hells journey, it doesn’t matter how many times we do this journey or how many battlefields we cross, everyone is different and everyone is a level of hell that no one has ever been to before. No wonder half the men and women in our Imperial Guard Regiments the Imperium over end up either becoming desensitised to the acts of war, or spend the rest of their lives in a lunatic asylum, or wishing themselves dead on some other world, just for the peace from this everlasting war.

“Sarge, Sarge is we nearly there yet?”

I glance across to see one of the newbies, a young kid with eyes like fire and the name Connell stitched across his uniform, the colours don’t matter
anymore, and we’re all up to our arses in muck and shit.

“Bit eager isn’t you Connell?” I ask as I peer over the edge of the trench, he, like the others have made their first kills and I suppose it’s a good feeling for him to send one more soul back to the God-Emperors own hell.

“I just want to kill every last one of the Frackers Sarge” he enthuses “To help reclaim this world in the name of the Emperor”

“Be careful what you wish for son”

“Sarge?”

“Stick with me and do as I say and we will be toasting that when we get back”

++++

The first to die is Macray, a young man who was our sniper, instead the sniper got caught in the back of the head, where the shot came from I have no idea, I was certain we were too far behind enemy lines to be a target.

Next to die was Jerros, a young woman whose chest opened up like a peach and splattered Jockie with blood and shit, Jockie died next with Marisa and Yves, a grenade landed near them and blew them into so many pieces I would be cleaning it out of my uniform for weeks.

“Is it the enemy?” Connell asks, terror in his voice, now it sinks in.

“Not really” I reply and cock my weapon

“The Emperor loves us all” Connell whimpered.

Without a thought I shoot him in the leg and crouch down to read his horrified face. I take the knife and draw it across his throat. They were right of course, there is rot in the company, but they keep sending me the newbies and I keep making sure they fall. Several years ago, too many now I was in a temple, an old temple, one that had never been seen before.

That’s when it happened, a being so full of martial honour and pride he showed me the true path of the warrior. I care little for the cultists that run amok in the trenches, they do not serve him like I do. I am sent with a higher purpose, ever since I was 19 I have been served with a higher purpose.

I lost my innocence on the world of Hargave, but in its place I found a reality that makes perfect sense to me. I shoot myself in the leg and the arm, to go with the other scars I have had to inflict upon myself. It will be a few days before we are found but when we are found, they will say that it was bad Intel.

I look down at the bodies and wonder how Jockie never cottoned on to my true calling, it does not matter, nothing matter, all that matters is blood for the blood god, and he does not care from where it flows.
12-05-12 10:07 PM
gothik and mossy is the first lol
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