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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-12-16 02:12 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Brother Emund - The Pain of Sacrifice


THE ETERNITY GATE.
The forbidden entrance to the heart and soul of The Imperium of Man.

Pilgrims from all over the galaxy tramp the long road to see the sacred entrance to the holiest of places. Most of them will never finish their journey or reach their ultimate goal. Uncounted billions will fail and millions will die on the way.
It is a pilgrimage that only the truly pious will attempt.

Three figures, a small group amongst thousands, trudged slowly along a road worn to the sheen of glass by countless feet. If one looked carefully they would notice that the group wore uniforms of a sort which were now threadbare and faded.
Many soldiers made the journey. They had fought for their God and now they wished to be near him at the very end.

It had already taken this group the best part of two years to get from the spaceport at the Katmanda Gate to the outer walls of the Imperial Palace.
There appeared to be no end in sight. They might not make it in time.

Please my beloved Emperor, bless those who have made this most Holy journey. Look upon your devoted children and grant them safe passage.
Et beatus est quicumque non tuetur nos.
Blessed is he who protects us.


To sergeant Norog, pulling the Commissar was an honour and not a chore. Lord-Commissar Anton Scheuer was not heavy.

For what seemed like a lifetime, he had hauled the old man along in a small, improvised rickshaw made from scraps he had fixed together. It was barely roadworthy, its wheels battered and worn by the endless miles they had travelled. By land, air and sea they moved slowly towards the ultimate goal; The heart of Holy Terra and the Sanctum Imperialis, the Legendary Golden Throne, where the master of Mankind watched over Humanity.

“I can feel His presence,’ Scheuer would often mutter. ‘I feel his warmth and see his guiding light.” Sergeant Norog would smile and reverently stroke the old man’s grey hair.
“Soon be dere Boss,” he would always reply. “Soon be dere.”

Trusted Tamachi, the erstwhile Chorgoris scout, lead the way, weaving them along a path that only he knew, and keeping them clear of the curious or the foolhardy who dared stand in their way. Norog was physically imposing, but Tamachi was a hidden weapon that killed and maimed without pity or compunction. It was after all, his sworn blood-oath to get Norog and the frail Lord-Commissar to the journeys end.

“I want to see it,” said the Commissar. “I want to be near him at the end.” And his loyal Norog, the tough Ogryn sergeant who had fought alongside him in countless battles across the stars, was determined to grant his dying wish.

Terra was not a pleasant place to be, and the roads that lead to the Imperial Palace were fraught with dangers. Even near the heart of an Empire and close to the citadel of a God, there was lawlessness and evil.

Bodies lay everywhere.
Most of them were pilgrims, dressed in white robes and wearing broad hats. Some of them were in rags stained with blood and filth. Some, like these men wore the uniform of the Guard, proud and true.
Scavengers stripped the dead clean and recycling teams took them away. There was no dignity here in the mountains on top of the world.

The smell was unbearable.

They kept going, one foot in front of the other, mile after agonising mile, ignoring the dead and the extended hands of the destitute and needy.

When they ran out of food, Norog would fight in the Pits against all-comers. Sometimes Tamachi would slip out at night and come back with exotic foodstuffs that none of them had ever seen before. They never asked him where he got the stuff from. It was best not to enquire.

Hard faced Arbites moved them on with shoves and threats, sneering at their uniforms and bearing. No one was special here, no one deserved better treatment than the rest.
Scheuer tried to protest and he threatened all sorts of retribution on these men, but his medals and decorations meant nothing to them.

“Move along citizen. Move along.”

Then one clear morning they passed through a massive bastion of adamantium bristling with weaponry, its walls lined with grim troopers in carapace armour bearing the winged Aquila emblem of Terra.
Scheuer’s eyes were closed, but he had a wide smile on his face. His fingers were crossed across his chest.
He whispered litanies and prayed for more time.

Onwards and upwards through crowds of chanting pilgrims and then further and deeper into the Palace where wonderful murals lined walls of gold and silver depicting the Lord of Man with his vaunted Space Marines. Battles. Wars. Victories.

Then there were gargantuan statutes of heroes from antiquity and Incredible works or art that were the size of small Hives. Sights that no man had ever beheld, nor ever would again.

Then finally one day, they were stopped by the masses who were now silent and in awe.

“Dere is a door Boss, a shiny door wiv two big men.” Said Norog enthusiastically.
Scheuer smiled, gripping the ogryn’s arm.
“It is the gate sergeant. The way leading to it is a mile long. Those...” he coughed a deep throaty cough. “Those men are Imperial titans.” He tried to laugh but the effort caused him distress. “Titans... the big metal walkers…”
“I will lift you up Boss, so you can see dem. Me and Tachi will help you up.”

But when they went to him, the Hero of the Augustus Gate and the Siege of Andromeda was gone. Lord-commissar Scheuer was with his God now and forever at peace.

Across that sanctified mile. Past the millions of banners and flags and the statues of the Heroes of the Imperium. Beyond that golden gate, the greatest man to have ever lived looked down on all he surveyed. Was that a sigh in a place without sound? Was that a whisper in a place that no spoken word was uttered? If one of the hundreds of golden warriors of the Custodes dared glance in His direction, and upon that grim, mummified face that none dared to look upon, would they have seen a tiny sparkle in the corner of one of those empty eye sockets?

A tear of sadness perhaps? A tiny sign from He who watches over all…
01-15-16 05:29 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Treesniffer - Dance Night for the Dwarves


After draining one mug and starting on the spare she had intended for Y'Salnos, her Announced, he walked over to her.

"Come join me. I want to dance."

Side by side, they took the traditional positions of the work dance and the musicians began to play. The work dance had no words for it. It was a song of heavy drumming and it complexity was elementary. All the beats were provided by the dancers' foot stomps and those were performed at the tempo of a hammer. Leg up and stomp, slide and stomp, clap and clap. Leg up and stomp, slide and stomp, clap and clap. Determined steps, slow turns, measured claps. It was the fall of the working hammer; Heavy slam, heavy slam, and two quicker taps to realign the aim. Again and again. Even Y'Salnos could manage the work dance. Around and around they moved through the dance. Doriama could feel her legs warming up and her claps fell to a more proper cadence. Her mirror beside her, Y'Salnos's robe twirled and swayed to the turns and stomps. Faster than she expected, the music ended.


The music began again and Doriama stepped away. Somehow, Y'Salnos had managed to divine traditional dwarven songs from the musicians. The second piece was for a healer's prayer. Y'Salnos began his dance and Doriama watched as he gave thanks for the successful healing of Narent, praised the Soulforger, and begged for the god for his continued support. Y'Salnos's robe flared up and back as the spins and hops caused it to fly away from his legs and boots. As the piece ended, Y'Salnos began a rumbling staccato of steps that lead into the Victory Dance which called Doriama back to his side. Together they danced the victory of the previous day's events. Dancing down the vanquished, and parading home. Extolling the strength of their clans and the alliance between themselves. Locked arm in arm, they spun and leaped. They smashed the floor with heavy jumps, so much more satisfying on the raised foundation of the inn's tap room where the mugs jumped in response to their dancing.

It took all of Doriama's strength to hold Y'Salnos up and keep his feet beneath him. In over twenty years she had only seen Y'Salnos take up the Victory Dance once, and over half that long for the Hall to stop talking about it. Though not a difficult dance, its speed and changes were more than her partner could navigate easily and it was only her knowledge of his shortcomings along with her strength and agility that kept them on their feet in more than one exchange. By the end of the song, she found herself overheated and shaking from the effort. Yet the musicians simply moved onto another song and, shocked, Doriama retreated to her mug of beer while Y'Salnos began an unprecedented fourth dance.


A slow dance began. A far cry from the stomps and leaps of the Victory Dance, this was a dance Doriama did not expect to see for some time. From the center of the floor, Y'Salnos bent and bowed to the humans who had been filling the tap room, unnoticed by Doriama as she had held Y'Salnos through the dance. The tables were all filled, while more patrons stood at the bar and along the walls watching the dwarves, though now focused on Y'Salnos. A harp began to play alone. Quick notes like raindrops rang out through the room, breaking the silence as none of the patrons spoke. Short little steps in time to the notes, Y'Salnos minced about the floor and Doriama cringed in anticipation. He was going to give her his Announcement dance. In a human inn. Months from the Hall. Miles from home.

It would be a dance he could not complete.

The harpist's fingers flew across the strings. Falling down through the notes before dancing back up, only to fall again. The individual notes blending together, no two strings plucked together, the music swirled about as Y'Salnos danced in vain to keep his heavy tread in sync with the harpist's own efforts. The bends and spins, twists and pirouettes, they were all beyond him. His strength, born of hauling water to the mountain's top when the pumps were down, was a thing of brute force and lacking in all finesse, could not save him in this dance. Nor his beauty. His flaxen hair or downy beard. The heart tugging blue of his eyes could not make his feet find the floor in any way other than ruin. Partnered, he stood a chance in the dance, but Y'Salnos was not shaped by the Soulforger for anything solo.

Doriama watched Y'Salnos dance his Announcement. His promises to guard and provide. To shelter and entertain. To cherish and love. To be there and give her the children that would strengthen the Hold and their clan. She watched him dance and stumble and fall. As she knew he would. As he knew he would. She watched his feet fall behind on a turn and spin back to the middle of the floor. Watched as his hands flew out to try and grasp anything to break his fall, and as luck would have it, watch as one found purchase on a table she had not pushed back quite far enough. The table flew out from beneath the mugs that rested upon it. Not heavy enough to slow his descent, his unrelenting grip dragged the table across the floor with the fall, the loud crack of splintering wood as the legs snapped, giving way as he fell to the floor.

Y'Salnos threw back his head and let out a great bark of laughter that broke the surprised silence of the tap room. The few others in the room joined in, though the barkeep scowled at the mess made. Doriama could not find it in her to laugh. She moved over to the sitting Y'Salnos and as he grasped her proffered hand, pulled him to his feet. Sliding her back up to his chest, as the music began again, she lead him though the first steps of her Acceptance Dance.
01-15-16 05:29 PM
Dave T Hobbit
andygorn - Unveiled


"So, how would you describe my effigy to our latest triumph, Brother Feran?" Halex watched his comrade in arms for signs of trepidation or fear.

Casting a critical eye over the piece, Feran responded: "The shading is crude and too basic - there are areas too touched by darkness...that should not be with a figure of our glorious Primarch."

"Good, you seem to grasp the essence of the work...it is unfinished of course, yet I always seek critique from my peers. How proceed your own travails?"
Although genuinely interested, Halex could no longer keep an acid tone from his voice; the deadline approached and pride was everything...to be "second" meant "being last".

Casting aside a dirt-smeared cloth fascia from the nearby table, Feran revealed his own art: Halex could not contain his discomfort at the work and baulked at the sight of the offal-pile presented to his eyes.

"You would...gift this..this thing...to our Lord?" Halex inquired incredulously, coughing as the stench assailed his nostrils, even through his autosenses.

Feran snorted arrogantly: "Of course, Halex! This is the artifice of many years, each item arranged alphabetically and then in order of size. Can you not see it's perfection?"

It was one of the most debased things he had ever seen (let alone for it to be classed as any kind of gift apart from to swine). This would be a sheer insult to their Lord and Master.
Trying to cast an objective view over the steaming piles of meat, Halex used the brief lessons he had overseen in the apothecarion to judge the "work".

Perhaps it was his inner competitive nature, or maybe he was just looking for any excuse to avert his gaze, but he seized upon the opportunity to discredit his fellow entrant: "If they are alphabetically arranged, you have got some of these incorrect; 'eyes' should go after 'cranial sections', not before...even a novitiate should understand that concept....your usual standards are slipping, Brother."

Feran gave a toothy smile in return "You mistake the point of the organisation altogether, Halex, but you will...one time soon..." and walked away, leaving the cuts to dribble redly onto the once-pristine marble of their crafting chamber.

Seeing no other option, Halex put the covering back over the remains, yet the sight had troubled him deeply. That night, even the somno-inducers could not assuage his restlessness: no stranger to gore, there was something "other" about his comrade's offering that set his teeth to grinding and unbidden shapes to flit at the edges of his vision.

Unable to rest, his memory kept replaying over and over the bloody mass which had been so casually heaped before him:
'What could possibly be thought of as a gift? How could anyone in their right mind appreciate such gobbets?'
Then he suddenly felt a twitch of realisation: there had been a glint of metal in amongst the mound of entrails...perhaps Feran had mislaid it and even now walked the corridors in search of it?

Returning to the artisan quarters, he lifted up the grime-stained covering.
Although only several hours had intervened, the pile now seemed to be bigger than before, but he paid it little attention, sinking his fingers into flesh, thankful the armoured gauntlets prevented him from feeling all the sensations of being wrist-deep in body-parts.

Scattering several pieces to the floor, his fingers finally found purchase upon hard metal..wiping off most of the detritus, he pulled out a small metal disc engraved with two heads.
Astartes had no need for money, so perhaps it was an item crafted by Feran between battles? Surely such an item was valuable and worth returning?

He found his friend's dormitory uncharacteristically bathed in shadow; calling out the name, Halex heard a somewhat unwelcoming reply from the darkness: "I am in session with my muse, who goes there?"

"Feran? This is Halex, I think you left something behind and need it returning.."
"Did I?" the voice enquired, uncharacteristically dispassionate. "Bring it here and I shall peruse..."

Halex was unused to attending inside other's chambers...this was something which always seemed to be 'an intrusion too far', especially amongst their Legion, who valued their supremacy and individuality, even (and perhaps especially?) when measured against comrades.

His footsteps clomped across the floor, then suddenly there was a *squish* at contact with something yet unseen.
Halex had strangled Ogryns with his bare hands, yet something about this room made even him fearful to look down at the unnameable thing which he had trodden in.
Concentrating upon the task in hand, he passed the coin to his friend, eager to do his duty and be away from the place.
Feran turned on a lamp and his outstretched gloved hand glistened. His eyes widened ever-so-slightly in recognition at the proffered disc, then displayed a feign of ignorance.
"Where did you find this trinket?"

"You mislaid it in your 'artwork' my friend." Halex replied quickly, the speed of his voice betraying his eagerness to be away.

"No, I didn't discard it, but I have seen it's likeness somewhere else..."

"Where? Upon that last claimed world? Those savages possessed no metal" Halex laughed deridingly.

"I love you like a brother, Halex, but I cannot say." Feran paused, as though expecting a reply, yet Halex seemed confused at the lack of further explanation.

Feran shook his head, turning away to hide his sorrowful look:
"It pains me, but my muse calls once again, please leave. Now!"

Turning slowly, still confused, Halex slowly left the dormitory...perhaps now sleep could return and his friend would be sufficiently recovered in the morning to resume their conversation?

He did not hear the squelch of quick footsteps behind him, nor did his brain register threat until his head was pulled back and serrated blades delved into his carotid artery; no time to even gasp in pain.

Hauling the corpse to his workbench, Feran continued his artistry.

*****
Later that month, Feran revealed his latest work to a baying crowd who revelled in their depravity; little more than beasts-in-armour than formerly proud Astartes.

At their centre: a Living God, basking in adulation and delighted screams...one whose fall abased him even more than those of all the lesser minions combined.
Picking up a selection of oozing morsels, Fulgrim's soul-spearing voice enquired: "...and these? What are they supposed to be?"

Feran's voice trembled with barely-suppressed delight:
"I call them gifts of obedience worthy only of your majesty. In order, I name those particular ones: Acastus Ultramarine, Bellegeren Iron Hand, Garen Salamander, Halex Emperor's Child."

The Astartes howled in triumph once again; Legionnaires and Primarch.
01-15-16 05:28 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Brother Emund - Don't Count Your Chickens


Lieutenant Sébastien Dembélé did not feel like celebrating.
In the aftermath of battle, even in victory, all he could feel was grief, pain and a deep ache in his soul.

An ancient Terran Warmaster once said that a battle lost is only a little worse than a battle won.

They had won here today, but at a cost. He had lost half his command.
He sat down on a sandbagged wall and placed his face in his palms. He was exhausted, utterly drained. He let his feet hang down into the communication trench, which was now filled with the corpses of both his men and that of the enemy.

The damn Orks had fought well today, and despite being outnumbered and outgunned, they chose a last-ditch charge to a slow death, pounded into the earth by artillery and airstrikes. Not one of them survived, but oh the cost…

He felt the urge to be sick so scrambled quickly to his feet and turned towards the breeze that was blowing in from the south. The air was fresh from this direction, it came from the distant sea and not from the killing fields around him.

“What shall I write…?”, he said out loud.
“You write what you always write… sir.” Came a gruff voice behind him. He turned quickly, shocked that anyone was even in the vicinity. A dirty, bedraggled soldier stood in the shadow of a knocked-out Leman Russ and gave a weary wave.

“Sergeant… Timonen. I did not realise…”
“’Sis’alright Sir. I did not mean to startle you, especially after all this.” The NCO stopped amongst the detritus of the battle field and spread his arms wide.

“I was thinking what to put into the letters, you know, the letters to their kin.”
Timonen stood tall to his right and gazed out across the field.
“You tell them that their boys died like heroes, that they died for their beloved Emperor with a Lasgun in their hand and righteous zeal in their souls.” He laughed, but it sounded gruff and forced.

Dembélé tried to smile back but his facial muscles seemed to be paralysed. He pointed to the body of a Guardsman slumped face forward over a Lascannon.

“How about Candella there? Dear Missus Candella. I regret to inform you that your son was killed in action at, blah, crap-hole on blah-planet. He was a brave soldier and fell protecting his comrades in the finest tradition of the service.” He shook his head at the NCO. “Or shall I say that his weapon jammed and an Ork split him in two with a cleaver before he could fire a single shot.” He stood up and walked over to a young Guardsman lying on his back who appeared to be sleeping.

“And what about young Jorjadze here? Dear blah, your brave son did not die with his spine hanging out of his back after a frag exploded behind him,” he paused. “Thrown by one of his own friends in panic. No, he died leading a bayonet charge against a whole battalion of greenskins.”

Timonen shook his head and then crouched down on his haunches.
“Or Lebona. Decapitated by an Ork boss while he struggled to get up… with no legs. Or…”

“I get the picture Sir.” The NCO interrupted aggressively. “But you will do your duty and do your duty well.” He placed a reassuring hand on the Lieutenants shoulder guard. He paused then looked into the officer’s eyes.

“All these men are heroes, every damn one of them. You will tell their kin that they saved this and helped that and deserved a medal, and you knew him well and he was well-liked, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Because that is what the folks back home want to hear. They are being fed crap back there but we know the truth, but they should never know what happens out here amongst the stars. They must never know about the horrors we endure and the bitter enemies we face."

The young officer smiled. The old NCO was right of course. Yes, his men were heroes and the battle was worth the cost. He would not hang his head in shame and remorse, he would celebrate their sacrifice.
“Very well said sergeant.” He stood up and stretched his aching back. Timonen shrugged.
“Besides Sir, the likelihood is that their folks will never know of their fate anyway. The Administratum mail system would struggle to find the final destination, the math is too complicated!”
They both chuckled.

“A bit naughty sergeant, such things could get you flogged.” Timonen shrugged again.
“Commissar Gaustad is not going to care. He’s somewhere out there in the mud with a slug through his forehead. Now he is a real hero… or was.”

Dembélé decided that the conversation was becoming too risqué.
“Did you come here to find me specifically sergeant?”
“Yes sir,” the old NCO straightened up. “The boys have found a warehouse full of Amsec and are wondering if you would like to join them in a wake?”

Dembélé knew that he should not. Fraternising with the junior ranks was frowned upon. But today?
“Of course. I will just retrieve my hat which I lost leading a charge against fifty-thousand Orks…” They both grinned. He had lost it when a short artillery round exploded behind his trench. “Ah, it’s here, battered, dirty, but still serviceable…”

CLICK

… We regret to inform you that Lieutenant Dembélé was killed in action during a heroic rear-guard action against a vast horde of xenos …
12-12-15 03:10 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Treesniffer - One Day's Hunt


It is a hot day. The snows have melted and the day trees have sprung up. You and the tribe have gathered at one of the groves. The break of dawn sprouts bitter flowers, poisonous fruits, and the attacking plants seeking a bit of extra food before the sun sets and the snow's return. The plant eating animals will also come for the day trees, as the Hunters come for the Plant Eaters, and the Killers come for them all. Like your tribe.

Tossed around the camp, the furs of the tribe lie scattered. It is too hot. Everyone is at the edge of the day trees, careful of Stranglevines while seeking them out. Until the animals come, Stranglevines are one of the few plants that can be eaten safely. They also come with the added bonus of whatever animals still in it’s gullet. Several others already have gathered branches from the new growth and taking their new acquisitions, the brush the remaining snow away from rocks and smaller bushes. Simulating the rooting of the Three Horns, the rest of the tribe waits for the investigation of the first waking Stranglevines. For the tribe’s first hunt, this will break their fast in easiest fashion. A good harbinger of the day.

Six of the tribe brush with the branches, alternating between short pauses and banging the ground. It makes noise, but not too dangerously so. The rest of the tribe looks outward. The trees are still growing with the new day’s sun and the Emperor has put the trees near the tribe’s camp. Hunters and Killers will take some time to find the trees. The tribe will be fed on Stranglevines and will be fast enough to chase down the plant eaters. It will be a good day.

Rather than the warmer breeze that heralds the day tree’s grove and blows outward, an invitation to all nearby animals of fresh food, the cold air of the snow dunes falls over the tribe. Heavy upon it, the scent of a Killer. Every member of the tribe freezes in place leaving only the muttering of the wind. Very softly, a woman begins a warbling whistle then waits for your response. You break her gaze and scan the rest of the tribe. Soft as it was, they all heard the woman’s plan. Anticipatory grins answer your unspoken query. Forgotten are the slowly awakening Stranglevines as the tribe’s thoughts turn to the advancing Killer.

You let out a piercing whistle. It is the Snow Bird herd mother’s call to those in her care to gather. The rest of the tribe begins to stomp the snow. The Snow Birds, tall and flightless, are two legged like the tribe and the easiest animal to mimic. Warbling cries and squaks of adolescents are called out. They are easy prey for a Killer, and irresistible to chase and maul. Killers rarely eat their prey, perhaps enough to find another victim, but they seem to exist only to see blood scattered across the ice.

The younger hunters run about, hopping in imitation the Snow Bird’s play-gait while the main body of the tribe sinks into the snows, burrowing just beneath the powder. You do not hide, you must continue to call the Killer with the Herd Mother’s voice and when he arrives, land the first blow.

You hand feels warm, grasping the haft of your spear. Light and short, it is a weapon of the Smalls. The Smalls come to try their hands at hunting. Sometimes just the animals of a day tree grove, but sometimes to hunt Hunters or Killers. Trying to be Men, but they are only Smalls. It takes Men to bring a Killer down. Your odd spear is all that remains of a Small who thought to take on a Hunter in the fashion of Men. You have carried it ever since.

A wave of snow is pushed before the great bulk of the creature, but that is all that is visible. Burrowing just beneath the surface snow, its claws dig into the permafrost for purchase and speed, only the swiftly moving dune of snow gives testimony to the presence of the creature.
With an angry roar, the Killer rears itself up out of the snow, looming over the assembled tribe, it’s maw and eyes are easily as high as four of your tribe atop one another.

Expecting Snow Birds, it is instead faced with your tribe. Rather than the simple Snow Birds that never seem to notice the signs of a charging Killer and respond to the hunting roar by either freezing or falling to the ground in a faint, the Killer fails to make its signature strike of falling across it’s prey as it tries to pick a target from the milling members of your tribe.

Your people keep moving about. What is sound strategy when facing Stranglevines, or a pack of Hunters, is death at the claws of a Killer, for Killers always strike first at the slowest creatures. Now, as if movement of the tribe somehow points to you, the four eyes’ of the Killer focus at your immobile state. A breath’s pause and the head of the beast strikes downward.

You roar out your own challenge and, with all your might, hurl the spear into the face of the Killer. The roar is the signal to the buried hunters and they break out of hiding, attacking multiple legs of the Killer. The Killer’s strike is interrupted by your spear, lodged inside one of the eyes, and the gigantic creature rears back in shock and pain. Whipping back and forth, the Killer attempts to shake the spear loose.

The writhing unburies the remaining two thirds of the beast. Legs uncountable sprout from the long undulating body of the Killer. As long as three hands worth of tribesmen, the Killer dwarfs you and your tribe. It’s claws, teeth, unstoppable strength, and gigantic size are mere obstacles to be overcome, for the Killer represents not danger to your tribe, but a couple days of food without the need to hunt again. Any lost in the fight simply ensure more for the survivors.

******* ********** *******

Far away, in a heated room, two men watch the fight on a vid screen. A few minutes after the spear has been cast, the giant creature falls still. Without preamble, the surviving ogryn begin consuming the carcass.

“Only ogryn would think hunting one of those would be a smart idea. With their bare hands. Send a recruiter, these will make a good addition to our forces.”
11-14-15 04:27 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Brother Emund - It ain’t nuffink


Skarrunt Magrot hated mornings. No, that was inaccurate, Skarrunt Magrot hated all times of the day and… night. But most of all, he hated being woken up from a deep sleep to start a morning.

“Dis betta be gud?”, he grunted to the shaking runt-servant. He then had a thought, “Na, nufink is dat important,” and he swung his enormous fist around and smashed the runt into the far wall.

His personal bodyguard suddenly entered the room with their weapons raised and axes swinging.
The Faceripper Warboss waved them back outside and then indicated with a casual wave that someone should also remove the mess he had caused.

A large Ork loped in behind them and nodded his respects. As one of the top Nobz in the clan, he had access to the Boss at any time and for whatever reason. Perhaps, he thought, he should have just delivered the message himself instead of relying on others.
He could not help but grin as the broken runt was dragged unceremoniously outside leaving a dark trail of body fluids behind.

“How’s the odds?,” Magrot grunted, pulling on his long leather boots.
“Boss?”
“The odds on me squig “Blood clot”?”
The Nobz was momentarily confused.
“Ahh! The races?”
“Yeah the races. What else would there be?”

The Nobz now understood that his Boss had not been informed of the latest reports and was thinking about the Squig races being held the next day.
“Boss, your Squig is still odds on favourite (as of course it would be), but we ‘av reports of Hoomies.”
“Hoomies?”
“A gang of dem landed not far from ‘ere. Dey is da big one’s wiv all de armour and stuff.”

Magrot’s eyes widened and his face broke into a grin. This might well turn out to be a good day after all. They could have a bit of a scrap with the Hoomies followed by a lucrative day at the races.
He straightened up and wedged his iron helmet onto his head.

“Assemble the Boyz. I have paid gud teef for these races and I ain’t lettin’ no one get in the way. I want dem crushed, smashed, squished and flattened before lunch.”

* * *

Sergeant Martinez rolled to his right and then shuffled backwards into the bushes that lined the river bank. The rest of the scout squad were in all-round defence, their weapons pointing in all directions and covering all approaches.

“It is true,” he said in his deep accented voice. “There is a whole town of the Orks down there. They number at least a thousand. They have settled. There is an arena on the far side and even a rudimentary spaceport.”

A second scout, still young in service but with the face that bore the scars of many conflicts, tapped the screen on his auspex.
“Do we wait or move off to extraction?”
Martinez rubbed his chin.
“I would like to get a look at that arena and see what is going on over there. There is a lot of movement. Ork’s are coming in from all over the place and heading there.”
“Could it be a command centre?”
“I think so.”
“Damn,” said the second scout. “We have movement to the east. Fast moving and heading our way.”
“It is settled then,” Martinez concluded. “We relocate for extraction. That settlement is obviously of some importance to the Ork’s. Call in evac at location Delta.” He signalled to the rest. “We move, single file, double-time.”

* * *

Magrot was a Warboss of some note.. and intelligence. He had sent a horde of fast moving scouts ahead of the main gang, Cragnat Orks, bred for speed and agility. They had slipped behind the marine scouts before they were aware of them.

Martinez was the first to react.

As the first Cragnat appeared in the undergrowth he was shot through the head, the second was winged and fell screaming to the ground.

“Immediate evac I think.” He nodded to the other scout.
A bolter hammered behind him followed by the swish and crump of a rocket.
“Form a wedge.” He ordered and the scouts moved back into a diamond formation facing outwards. “Fire and move. Head for the extraction point.”

Magrot reached the first bodies of his gang and was furious. He swung his war axe in one hand and a huge double-barrelled stormbolter in the other, and immediately charged the small group of marines, bellowing his war cry.
Scout Walton fired his shotgun at him at point blank range and Magrot was knocked backwards. Martinez bore down with his power sword and took off the Warbosses arm.

There was pandemonium as both groups met in a crash of hand-to-hand combat.

At the same time a flight of Stormbirds appeared overhead and unleashed a fury of missiles and heavy weapons into the Orks massed ranks, before hammering the outskirts of the settlement with a reign of fire and death.

Magrot became entangled with his own bodyguard before being knocked heavily to the ground and set upon by more Hoomies with edged weapons and bolter fire.
He remembered the pain he felt, and then saw his own blood arc around him before falling under a mass of bodies.

He saw a Hoomie lying facing him his face torn apart and bloody.

* * *

“Well wots the damage?”, screamed Magrot.
“We won a great victory Boss!”
Magrot drooled and twitched and looked like he was about to explode.
“Da damage! Da damage!”, he raged.
“Boss,” the Nobz shook his head. “Yoose lost yor arm, dats wot.”

Magrot pushed him aside with his good arm and indicated back down towards the settlement.
“Da track yoose dork, da track! Is it still gud?”
The Nobz wiped blood from his mouth and grimaced. Magrot was going loopy in the head. Too much grog and happy weed was turning him insane. The Warboss had lost an arm and several chunks of his torso and was more worried about the arena.
“On second thoughts’ he thought ‘he is well ‘ard.”

“Boss, the arena is not damaged and the Squigs are all accounted for.”
Magrot laughed heartily and placed a paternal arm around his shoulder.
“Now dem Hoomies is sorted, we can git on wiv the real important fings. Da races! Da races!”
10-12-15 02:54 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Brother Emund - Honora ad Finem


Sergeant Dragan was trapped.

He had passed out, he knew that for sure, and now he was awake and in total darkness. He was also in immense pain.
“Janowski, Thika!”. His voice sounded weak and distant. It was an effort to talk, but he had to find out if any of his squad were still alive. “Brother Linda.. anyone copy me?.”

Ahhrg, the pain.

His entire body was wracked with overwhelming waves of pain which his enhanced physiology seemed unable to cope with.

Where am I? Am I still on the hulk? Where are my squad?

The darkness was all around him. It was complete and suffocating.

I need to get out of here. This.. place.. it is disturbing. This pain should be controlled.

He tried to remember what had happened, but he even found that difficult.

A Spacehulk had entered the Cleron System and entered the trade lanes. It had to be investigated. Since the Eastern Hive Fleet incursion many years before, small colonies of Tyrannids and their xenos breeds had been moving through The Halo Stars spreading chaos wherever they were discovered. All Spacehulks and asteroids were routinely searched, and if need be.. purged.

This Boarding action was to be no different to all the rest.. except this time the xenos were waiting for them.

Dragan remembered that his squad, all veterans of dozens of contested boarding actions, were attacked the moment they leapt from the torpedo.

Genestealers, a yellow and blue breed, swarmed them before they were able to mount an effective defence. Brother Shoko and Brother Morcos were eviscerated without firing a shot. Brother Orchamus lost an arm before he managed, by the Emperor's will, to bring his flamer to bare and clear the space around them.
Dragan lead the counter-attack and gained them a hundred metres of corridor and precious breathing space.

It had not gone well.

All over the hulk his Brothers were meeting stiff resistance. His squad was now down to seven. Orchamus was still with them but his effectiveness was reduced. He had lost a lot of blood and without an Apothecary, he might not make it through.

Ahhh, Orchamus. I remember your rearguard action at the Gloria Gates. What steadfastness, what courage. Where are you now? Are you with me? I must get out of here. I must find my Brothers. I must master this pain.

The Hulk was an amalgam of many different craft, some Imperial, some xenos. There was evidence of previous actions here. There were bones of unknown types, weapons and armour of exotic nature. They had even found an archaic bolter-like weapon that could only be human.

It would be purged and the xenos would be destroyed. They would fight on and join up with the rest of the company.

He had ordered Orchamus to take up the rearguard position with Brother Romana and his heavy-Bolter on point. It was not going to be a subtle advance but they would make the xenos pay dearly if they attacked again.

For six hours they battled through the corridors and rooms of the xenos vessel, bludgeoning, and hacking their way through legions of the foul Genestealers, until their ammo was spent and their armour was rent and battered beyond all recognition.

There were only five of them left.

“Such wanton hate,” he had thought. “Such mindless recklessness. A foe worthy of my skills, but not worthy of my respect.”

Dragan examined his Gladius. It was stained with foul spoor and nicked and scratched in a dozen places. With little effort he tore a bulkhead door away from its frame and brought it to his front like a rudimentary shield.
“We are not beaten my Brothers!” he had shouted. “By the Emperor, there will be no more of our blood spilt here today.”

The next attack came, lead by a huge genestealer with an elongated snout and abnormally long fangs.

A mutant breed.

It swung it first claw which took Dragan’s helmet off. The second strike opened up his face to the bone, breaking his jaw and taking out an eye.

I killed you though. Aye, you died by my blade like the rest of them. But we took the corridor and advanced onto the next.

My eye.


Light. Faint at first but getting brighter and brighter.

Get me out of here! Get me out now! The pain.

He could see the the robes of an Adept but not its face. That was hidden beneath its folds.
“I am Sergeant Dragan. For Emperor’s sake remove me from this grave!”

Another figure came into view. Apothecary Kostin. He knew that battered white helmet anywhere.

I am saved. Now the pain will go.

Dragan tried to move again but he was paralysed. His wounds were indeed dire.
“Kostin! I am here, can you not see me?”
Kostin removed his helmet and stroked his short black hair. He was staring directly at Dragan and shaking his head.
“Get me out of here!”. Dragan’s voice appeared weak and feeble.

More pain passed through him and a stab of pain struck his temple.

The pain.

Apothecary Kostin stepped back off the dais and turned to the Adept.
“It has been a week now Magos Hernandez. Is there any hope?”
The Adept turned slowly back and shook his head.
“Not all your brothers can stand the transition. Sergeant Dragan injuries should have been terminal. I fear he will never make the walk.”
“It is done then,” said Kostin, emotion straining his voice. He nodded to a small group of the Chapters Honoured Respexerunt Speculatores.
“He will be honourably laid to rest with the rest of his fallen Brothers.”

“We will remember him.”

Kostin stepped forward again. The Dreadnought dwarfed him, immobile and silent, a brooding, menacing figure of destruction. It was a Castraferrum Pattern Mark IV Dreadnought with a power fist and Plasma cannon. It was painted in the deep black of the night. It would have been a fitting weapon of war for a hero like Sergeant Dragan.

If he had survived his incarceration.

No! I am here with you now. I am Sergeant Dragan of The Emperor’s Vengeance. It must not end like this.

+ SYSTEM PURGING +
+ DELETION COMPLETE +
09-13-15 05:40 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Adrian - Alive and feeling good!


I know that I was afraid and that it was dark. I felt the air around me so keenly, smelled the rain as it mixed with the grass and dirt and fell upon the trees. The storm that raged left lightning scars on the retinas and raged in the mind as that of a great beast with its thunderous voice. I lay on the ground with slashes across my face and chest. I shivered both from the cold and the pain that I was in. I could barely take in a breath. My lungs and body were on fire. What had I done to deserve this? Where had the beast come from? I had never seen anything like it before and prayed that I would never see anything like it again.

I was walking in the storm trying to make my way back to my hab when the beast attacked me. It hit me with so much power that I blacked out. It thundered into my body without fear and without remorse. I do not know why it did not kill me, but I wish that it had. Pain! It is all that I know now as I lay on my back coughing blood and begging for death.

I hear footsteps coming from what seems a long way distant. I try to call out for help but words escape me. I am sure I am dying. Voices are all around me in confusing tones. They are calling out for help and praying to the Emperor of mankind. Hands grasp me and set my nerves to screaming even more than they were. I pass out and wake again in flashes.

There are lights and then there is darkness. There are voices and than the beeping of monitors. There is the dripping of water and then the rush of wind. I flash in and out of consciousness unable to put reason together with reason. My thoughts are muddled. It seems that only minutes pass but I am told when I wake that five days have passed and that I am blessed by the Emperor of mankind to still be alive. I do not think I am blessed. I do not feel blessed. I am in pain and fire seems to be pushing through my veins. Two days later I am walking out of the madica under my own power with barely a scar to show for my pain. The doktors are amazed and terrified. They say they have never before seen a miracle and are sure the Emperor has healed me.

I am not so sure. Inside of me I feel … changed. Three more days pass and I am feeling stronger than I ever have. I no longer need optics or hearing aid. I see better than young men and hear better than the dog I love. I smell things. Scents flood my olfactory processes. I catch fragrances from the breeze that blows by. I cannot see the owner of the perfume but with an effort of will I can follow the scent for a klom or two and, well, there she is; a young blond woman looking into the window of a clothing store. Food has a better texture. I am starting to believe that I am indeed blessed.
Two weeks pass. I am running in the morning. In the last few days I have taken up the exercise. I feel good and am able to run for twenty kloms without growing tired. Something is strange today. I can feel the earth around me like never before. I hear people talking from half a klom away. I can hear the heartbeats of people as they pass by. I can hear each surge of blood that is pushed through their veins. This is strange to me and a little frightening. When I get home my dog begins to growl and backs away from me with his neck hair raised and back rigid. “Come on, boy.” I call, but he barks once and runs into the other room, but not before he pees on the carpet. I am astonished and confused at the actions of my beloved pet.

I have showered. The water, every drop of it was a paradise to me. I felt the slap of each drop upon my skin hot and bold against my muscles. I went about the rest of my day doing work around the hab and helping out a neighbor with painting and yard work. She is old and tired. I can smell death upon her. She is sick. I do not think she knows, but she will die within a month or two. I know it, but I still help her, unwilling to torment her with the thoughts of mortality.

The sun is setting and with its descent the darkness begins to invade. Shadows grow longer and deeper. Stars begin to appear. I can feel it now, stronger than before. Since the attack I have always felt it but timidly like a light touch upon the mind. I can hear it calling out to me strong and violent. I look up and see the moon, full and in all its luminous glory. My blood quickens and my mind is cast into utter confusion as I fall to my knees and begin to scream. My skin tears. My face twists. My hands and feet elongate and shred the humanity from them. My chest expands and flesh falls from it along with my blood-soaked shirt. My pants split and blood pours from them staining the floor and filling the cracks in the wood slat floor.

As the pain recedes so does my confusion. Clarity of purpose and desire floods my mind. I stand and howl. My voice is all animal. I see through the dark as if it were the clearest day and begin to run. I can smell her, the young woman I scented three weeks ago. Her scent is strong and so are her heartbeats. I find her walking in the shadows of the habs to the east. She sees me and tries to scream but the blood is spraying across the walls and the world is alight with fear. I run and kill all night long. I feast upon blood and flesh. I am alive, all confusion gone. The wolf is loose and I am free to feast upon the weak.

In a medica, in a clean bed; washed from all the blood and filth a doktor smiles down at the blond woman whose scars are already beginning to heal.
08-12-15 05:33 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Adrian - In a Riot of Colors … Perfection


She looked at the canvas for a long time before she had even brought out her tools and brushes and thinner and paint. She didn’t look at the canvas as an empty thing but as what it would be. Now it is white. It is large, empty and … dead. She picked up her tea and sipped. It is hot. It burns her lips and she smiles. In her mind she sees what will be painted as a living thing. In her mind it is alive and fluid; breathing in and out and speaking to her. Her eyes are black as she opens her brush bag and tool tray. Her breathing becomes shallow and the room seems to cool.

Time is forgotten as it fades from her mind. Her surroundings fade to the edges of her mind. She is calm and becomes focus. The brush is dipped and the first strokes from her delicate fingers mark the canvas. The paint is storm red. With the wide brush she sets the backdrop to the canvas. The white is replaced with darkness. The form of her will begins to take shape. Hours pass and still there is much to be done. The tea is forgotten. Food is meaningless while she works. Days pass and her will is still unbroken.

She does not feel her muscles tire nor does she thirst for rest. The paint she is using becomes thick and jellied yet she works it into the canvas flawlessly. She uses many different shades of flesh and blood colors along with shades of brown and black. Paint is mixed and thinned and heated and cooled with her skill. Fourteen days later she comes out of her trance and falls to the floor, exhausted. Her canvas is only half way filled, the image incomplete. She calls for her servant and smiles as the man comes in holding his hands to his face. His mouth is covered and his eyes weep at the skill he sees before him. He falls to his knees and gasps, barely able to breathe.

She motions to the man to draw his attention back to herself. “I am weak. Thirsty.” She motions to her paint tray, “The paint is now too old to use. I will need more within the hour.” The servant bows on shaky legs and leaves the room. It is only a few moments in time before the food is brought in along with fresh water and wine. She eats in silence and admires the view through the star port. Outside everything is black with small points of light in the distance. She sips her wine and regains her strength. A new bag of paints are brought in and laid on the table before the canvas. Two servants fall to their faces and weep as they see the work, though unfinished, that she has done. They are pulled from the room for they cannot stand on their own. As the door closes the woman hears the weeping of the servants turn to screams. She smiles and regains her seat before the canvas.

Her eyes turn black. Her mouth opens ever so slightly. Her breathing becomes shallow and the room turns cold once more. She opens the paint bag and with fresh brushes she continues her work. Minutes turn to hours and hours into days; days into weeks. Even when battle rages all around her as the Pride of the Emperor is assailed from all sides, she continues to work. Even as the mighty Flagship of the Emperor’s Children pushes into the warp she seems not to take notice.

Even as her canvas is shaken from its mounting and falls to the floor not a single stroke is flawed. The painting is a thing of perfection. It is nearly finished. The rich reds and browns have dried and become darker. The flesh tones have become lighter. The shades of black and grey have become harsher. The gloves she uses are stained and blood comes from the openings at her wrists and dries on her alabaster skin. Time continues to flow around her like water around boulders. Even as the last strokes of the portrait are completed her eyes remain black. Slowly she brings up the sealant and applies it to the paint with gentle strokes. She does not hurry and her hand is steady. This process takes days to complete. Her eyes clear to their natural blue with the completion of her final stroke.

She sways in her chair and begins to fall but firm hand catch her. She gasps at the touch of the Primarch of the III Legion, the master of the Emperor’s Children. Fulgrim’s eyes are black. His mouth is set in a grim smile. His hands though strong enough to crush every bone in the artists body are gentle as he helps her to the table where food and wine are already provided. Provided by Fulgrim’s own hand. Today servants are not allowed in the room. Today servants will not provide for her. The Primarch himself will serve her for he is pleased with her work.

The woman is frail and weak. Her skin is older than it should be. Her hair has turned white. She removes the gloves from her hands. The human skinned gloves fall to the floor. The room has the smell of decay and spoiled meat. Her paint bag is old and stiff. The canvas is full with the detail of perfection. The Emperor in all his glory is fallen to the ground. He is beset by enemies that were once his trusted allies. He is weeping blood from wounds that have broken his might armor. His hand is outstretched, pleading. In a riot of colors the story is told.

Fulgrim looks to the lady, “Today perfection is accomplished. Today your purpose is completed.”

She smiles and bows her head. The food is left untouched. The wine has not been sipped. She does not speak or cower as Fulgrim pulls the blade and ends her life. Turning from the woman Fulgrim turns to the painting and weeps tears of blood with fresh emotion welling up within his breast. “It is perfect.”
07-11-15 02:36 PM
Dave T Hobbit
Honorable Man - A Las-Flash in the Night


Shit. Shit. Shit. This was bad.

Las-bolts cracked through the darkness, lighting everything up in staccato flashes. He was running, running like he’d never run before, boots hitting the dirt hard enough that his feet hurt with every step. That didn’t matter, so long as he got away.

His coat was too heavy. His boots were too heavy. Everything was too heavy. At this point, it felt like his legs were just too heavy. He should have worked out more. Shit, he didn’t belong in this kind of work.

“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.” Every exhalation was coming out like that. He didn’t care. It was shit, it had all gone to shit. They’d blown the operation and the puritans were coming. He didn’t know which ones, but it didn’t matter.

They’d kill him all the same. Or worse. He wasn’t sure which he preferred.

He didn’t even have the book. They’d failed utterly- the cult hadn’t handed it over before the shooting started. Shit, if he’d had the book something could have been made of this escape, instead of just a terrified sprint through the woods. The matter remained, though- he didn’t have it. He didn’t have it, the puritans probably had it, and everyone was dead or dying.

His toe hit something, a root, a rock, something hard, and he pitched over on his face. Something cracked- his nose, most likely. Didn’t matter. That could be fixed. He rolled over, grimacing, and hauled himself up.

Remember your training. Remember your goddamn training.

He was running again, one hand up to cup at his nose and stop the blood from dripping everywhere and the other at his holster, fumbling with the catch. It finally came open; the laspistol’s heavy weight in his hand was somewhat reassuring, but not nearly enough. The las-cracks had stopped, and that meant that they’d be looking for survivors. Shit, were there even any other survivors? Was it just him left? That wouldn’t surprise him. Not at all.

He had to get offworld.

He shook his hand free of blood, digging into his pocket for his vox-link. Clicking the transmitter button, he held it up to his mouth. “Ishtar, this is Kental. Ishtar, I need an extraction.”

No response. Just static. “Ishtar, please respond. Ishtar?”

They’d hit them too, probably. Shit, it was all over. They were all dead, or were going to be. The inquisitor was already down- he had been the first one down, actually.

He could hear crashing through the forest behind him now, and the whine of auspexes. They had him now, unless the Ishtar miraculously responded. The Inquisition wasn’t known for its mercy, either. “Ishtar-”

A crack; something hit him in the shoulder, spinning him around and throwing him to the ground. A second later, the pain hit and he let out a strangled cry. Stab-lights from helmets snapped into existence, lancing the night with brightness, picking him out from where he lay among the trees.

They had him.

Someone hauled him to his feet by the lapels of his greatcoat. They were stormtroopers, he could see that now, clad in red and black. All were helmeted, but he could hear muted clicks coming from them. They were talking amongst each other. Deciding what to do with him, perhaps?

That wasn’t up to them, though. Another figure, in the same carapace armor but unhelmeted, carrying a massive hammer rather than a lasrifle, appeared out of the darkness. This one, he recognized. Inquisitor Aethel, a noted monodominant. No hope of recovery then.

Aethel walked up to where the stormtroopers held him, coming face to face. The inquisitor was shorter, even in the carapace, and had to look up; there was a stern frown etched deep on his face, as one would expect from a puritan. He prodded Kental in the chest with the head of his hammer. “Interrogator Kental. Where’s the book?”

“Screw you.” the interrogator spat at him, following it up with a gob of bloody saliva.

A gauntleted hand smashed across his jaw and Kental sagged in the stormtrooper’s grip. “I said,” Aethel gritted out, reaching out and grabbing Kental’s wounded shoulder. “where is it?”

The interrogator cried out; waiting until he was satisified that he’d made his point, Aethel let go. “I don’t know.” Kental replied, panting to try to diffuse the pain. “You stopped the exchange.”

He had nothing left to hide. He’d put up the token resistance, and that was all anyone could ask. He was an interrogator himself- he knew what would happen if he held anything back. That was a fate he didn’t need, especially since his own inquisitor was already face down in the dirt, gone in the first volley. Nobody he needed to protect anymore, and nothing worse could happen to him if he talked...

Aethel lifted his gauntlet to his mouth and muttered something into the vox-link affixed there, turning away. “You know what to do.” he said to the stormtroopers, nodding before dropping his arms to his side and starting to walk away.

The stormtrooper shoved Kental to the ground; the interrogator pulled himself up and began to run, already knowing what was to come. Aethel was whistling something as he walked away; Kental’s heart was pounding loud enough to drown it out, it felt like. Shit, he knew what was going to happen. Why did he even bother running? He knew already.

Still, it was a surprise when the las-bolts finally lanced through his back.
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