What Consequence The Roads Taken?
As ever, one of the random stories that entered my head, it should be one of at least several chapters (assuming the muse continues to possess me).
Hope you enjoy, please comment and critique (all welcome).
What Consequence The Roads Taken?
“I believe the choice before us is one of between being either shot or suffocated, gentlemen.”
Having removed his helmet, the Astartes leader appeared strangely human.
Of course, not that any around the table doubted his lineage or purity but, for some, it would be the first time they had seen the face of any of “Humanity’s Saviours”.
Were he capable of allowing himself such selfish emotion, Captain Tharnas himself would have wished such a revelation could have been under more favourable circumstances.
However, times were not of his choosing and he knew he would not be able to hide the weariness on his brow or his tiredness of gaze from the remaining commanders.
++Herril’s Keep was stripped of manpower for the trenches four weeks ago, Lords. Also, we still have no way to verify if the last transmission to Wargroup Tundra-IV was received.++ bleeped the Magos.
It was a sign of the campaign’s ferocity that, as 17th in his chain of command, Ehreta was the highest-ranking Mechanicus still operational.
Also, with the Keep itself now virtually unmanned, there could be no turning back from the inevitable defeat, as it left their backs woefully unguarded.
“How many of you are left?” Enquired Major Jantor of the Palace Dragoons of his Marine counterpart.
“Fewer than sixty remain, Major. We have scavenged enough heavy weaponry to support almost a demi-company of Devastators though, so we shall reap a heavy toll upon their remaining armour.”
However, the slight shake of his head told everyone that even Tharnas had had to bite back the urge to laugh at the futility of Jantor’s question.
Although the Astartes had retained sufficient composure in the face of such a bleak outlook, the same could not be said for the Titan Group’s Princeps Primus, Gercheck, who contributed to the group via live-feed from his amniotic tank:
“Even had we not lost five Engines in the last 6 months, this world would still fall and all swept before it...and forgotten...like the ashes from the hearth.
“This place was never designed for seige defence: the lowlands proved too easy for the Traitor vehicles to traverse; the PDF tithe too low to prove a solid bulwark against the storm.
“I have already committed my thoughts on such matters to crystal-matrix so that my memories will be retrievable by the next explorators once our conquerors have left for richer pickings. I suggest that you make peace with whichever beliefs you hold, too.”
Gerchek’s transmission feed slowed, a foretelling that he was considering exiting the group comms.
Yet it suddenly faltered, an even surer sign that a part of him still acknowledged he needed this distant human contact with the others; that he hadn’t yet lost all of himself to his beloved God-Machine.
“However, there may be a saving grace here: Old geological surveys indicate that the mountains to our sides could prove advantageous.
“The fragmentation rockets and ammunition which had proved so useless against the daemon-engines shall be much more effective against the rock formations around us. If you can get close enough to the cliffs to plant charges, and if I can advance sufficiently far into the foe’s ranks to get to optimal firing position, we have a chance.”
“Which is no chance at all...” bemoaned Jannissary Nottrell, Officer of the planet's remaining PDF troopers who had not yet been riven by rusty blades or blasted into oblivion by all manner of hellish devices.
”What you offer is a chance to kill more of a numberless horde. Like making a fist and punching into a river, it will not be noticed.
"Almost 90% of my troops have fallen –very few have strayed to heresy- yet this is all futile, a token-gesture at best...”
The simultaneous whip-crack and sharp explosive report of a close-range bolter round echoed across the chamber as Nottrell’s faceless corpse hit the hologenerator he had been criticising.
Staggering through the corridor‘s portal and into the room, all could see that seeping bandages covered the figure's entire left side. Arm dropping the smoking pistol as he collasped to the dirt floor before them, Commissar Herten wheezed:
“No! Gercheck offers one final chance to...do our duty and deny the foe with...our dying breaths...not one man here could ask for a nobler demise.
“If any of you disagree, I shall meet you with power weapons in the fighting-cages; including you too, Princeps Gercheck.
“But I will first grant you the courtesy of a couple of minutes’ respite to prepare yourselves for death...”
All assembled had been placed under the same superhuman demands and respected the Guard Hero’s limitless courage and stoicism. Their soft chuckles greeted the Commissar’s gallows-humour.
Yet each voice stopped in it’s throat as their comrade reached for a handhold that wasn’t there and slumped heavily back to his knees.
Although a notoriously ferocious opponent when fully fit, Herten‘s various injuries had now leeched him of even the energy to stand.
His next sentence was lost in a wet hacking laugh accompanied by globs of bloody sputum dribbling into the dust where he remained, crouched and almost unconscious from agony.
Urgently trying to trace any living relatives of Private Sam/Samuel "Jock" Wilson (Black Watch, No. 6 Commando, UK Army Service ID 2764432, died 10.06.44). Any info/suggestions gratefully received.
"Mockles! Pent on silpen tree, blockards three a-feening. Mockles! What silps came to thee, in thy pantry, dreaming?"
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Last edited by andygorn; 12-08-11 at 07:31 PM.