Hi all, the following story took me about a day to write including revisions. I believe this piece is finished and welcome all critique. The story will be posted in several parts so please make comments about any or all parts at the end.
20K is the unofficial prequel to Warhammer 40,000 and the Horus Heresy, charting the adventures of the naive Terran Empire as they try to unite the Hundred Worlds claimed by humanity. Meanwhile, the secretive organisation Earthwatch attempts to keep the Empire safe from horrors that reach across time and space, from the expanding Alneran Republic, the belligerent Craftworlds of the Saim-Hann Eldar, immensely powerful star vampires and time-travelling Iron Warriors with a massive grudge!
To get some perspective, check out my 20K Timeline over at www.imperial-literature.net:
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The "D.M.S." in "D.M.S. Horizon" refers to a decommissioned military vessel. It does not stand for "Dungeon Master" as some auto-editors seem to think. An active and commissioned registry prefix for a Terran Navy vessel is XMS.
(20K) Legacy of the Future
++ EARTHWATCH TOP SECRET ++
Author: Albert Lamm
Location: ++ Location denied ++
Transmission Time: 023987/M21
Received: Saturn, Relay point 5
I reluctantly bring another unsettling report from an Earth expedition. The DMS Barclay, a decommissioned Canyon-class cruiser currently owned by the Pan-Pacific Treaty organisation and renamed the Horizon, has sent a report back to Earth regarding an abandoned planet which seems to have been an outpost of the Chinasian Alliance.
The report was intercepted by one of our intelligence operatives working for Solar Command. The Treaty seems to be aware of our existence but we do not currently know if they've made the connection between Detachment 44 and Earthwatch - they simply refer to us within the following report as "secret intelligence". It is a matter of concern that our organisation's existence is known and we clearly have some work to do, given that our ranks might have been compromised by Pan-Pacific.
1. The Pan-Pacific Treaty is formed from a coalition of businesses and nation-states who have expressed resistance to assimilation by the Empire. The Treaty views itself as a collective working towards a greater whole, a whole which benefits only the members of the Treaty. The Treaty was only formally declared six weeks ago, although many of its members have been working together for about two years. So far, the Treaty has been conducting their own research and exploration using a small fleet of ships they have recently purchased - a fleet which contains at least two decommissioned vessels of the Terran Navy.
2. We do not currently know the extent of the Treaty's manpower, military strength or influence.
3. The Treaty is specifically searching for Chinasian technology and possibly Chinasian cultural artefacts. The Chinasian Bloc controlled and influenced the Pacific region of Earth following the Merican-Chindoasian Collision. The Chinasians rebuilt the civilisations destroyed by the tectonic disaster. As Earth became overcrowded once again and food was impossible to grow in sufficient quantities using the technology of the time, the Chinasian Bloc eventually began to colonise the stars. We know this period by its phlegmatic title, "The Emigration".
4. It is suspected that Chinasian technology is generally inferior to ours. However, they probably possessed more advanced warp technology, which would be a tremendous asset were it to be located and reverse-engineered by ourselves. It is strongly recommended that we acquire this technology before Pan-Pacific. (Perhaps we could use this as an objective for the Fearless programme?)
3. While the Euro-Federation and Dominion of Ursh gradually developed technology and a combined culture, which finally evolved into today's Terran Empire, it is thought that the Chinasians were several hundred years ahead of the Euro-Federation. It has long been believed that many more worlds than the known 100 were colonised and fortified by the Chinasians. These worlds elected to remain out of contact with Earth and colonies owned by Earth. Trader vessels were turned away from Chinasian space at gunpoint. Nobody knows if the Chinasians simply decided to chart their own course among the stars, or if they fell under the influence of aliens.
4. Given the state of Terran warp technology until recently, and the extraordinary violence within the hyper-realm which has only recently started to abate, it has been impossible for the Terran Empire to send vessels to make contact with the Chinasians until now. Unfortunately, the Pan-Pacific Treaty seems to have beaten us to it, and their findings are very disturbing.
The report follows.
Head of Extrasolar R&D, Titan
= COMMENCE PLAYBACK
"This is Emma Brentwood, skipper of the Pan-Pacific vessel Horizon. We've discovered a world which once belonged to humans. Surveyors report no vessels or satellites in orbit and no power sources on the planet's surface. Star charts dating from the seventh millennium, the most recent we've got of this region, indicate there may once have been a Chinasian outpost here. We've included co-ordinates. The Terran Empire dubbed this region the Pacific Segment, although we still know it as the Taurus Stars. It's lucky our hyper-jump was blown off-course by a reality storm, otherwise we might never have come here.
"Our science teams are really keen to make planetfall, but we're still one day out from the planet and we're experiencing problems with the starboard launch bay. The Navy made sure whoever bought this vessel would need to go to them for help with maintenance and repairs, but we don't need them; we're managing with help from former members of the Martian Science Council. We've got two Triton-class landers waiting to go. Let's hope our repair teams get the bay doors working by the time we reach orbit. The port launch bay was converted to a weapons training facility, so we can't use that. I need to get to what we laughingly call the astrometrics bay as our planetary surveyor system is reporting problems."
"Our space-field surveyors have detected several satellites in a decaying orbit around the planet. There are fourteen of them, all dormant. It looks like a graveyard for technology out there. Unusual readings from our surveyors indicate the Chinasians built these satellites from stealth materials. We're not sure why they would do this, unless they were under some kind of threat from beyond their solar system, but it's an exciting development - it could explain why discoveries of Chinasian worlds and technology are rare.
"We decided to call the world Xiangsu in honour of the father of Chinasian philosophy - the rationale being that this world represents a new beginning for the members of Pan-Pacific, a future free of oppression and threat of assimilation by the Terran Empire.
"We're launch the Tritons in thirty minutes. The atmosphere on board the Horizon is incredible - I wish I was going down there myself."
"There's been a terrible accident in the launch bay. One of the doors malfunctioned. Three members of our Martian team were sucked out into space and one of the landing craft was dragged across the bay, causing damage which has rendered it non-spaceworthy. The landing team aboard survived by a miracle - the vessel's rudimentary AI managed to sustain atmosphere within the lander while the passengers were able to seal fractures in its hull. There's already talk of this expedition being cursed, which is, frankly, repulsive and offensive to the memory of those who just died. I might have to go on this expedition after all to keep my teams focused."
End of Part 1