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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-04-14, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Default Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories 14-05: Laughter

Welcome to the year's fifth




For those of you that are unfamiliar with HOES, here's how it works:

Each month, there will be a thread posted in the Original Works forum for that month's HOES competition. For those of you interested in entering, read the entry requirements, write a story that fits the chosen theme and post it as a reply to the competition thread by the deadline given. Each and every member of Heresy Online is more than welcome to compete, whether your entry is your first post or your thousandth. We welcome everyone to join the family of the Fan Fiction Forum.

Once the deadline has passed, a separate voting thread will be posted, where the readers and writers can post their votes for the top three stories. Points will be awarded (3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd) for each vote cast, totalled at the closure of the voting window, and a winner will be announced. The winner will have his/her story added to the Winning HOES thread and be awarded the Lexicanum's Crest award for Fiction excellence!

Theme

The idea with the theme is that it should serve as the inspiration for your stories rather than a constraint. While creative thinking is most certainly encouraged, the theme should still be relevant to your finished story. The chosen theme can be applied within the WH40K, WHF, HH, and even your own completely original works (though keep in mind, this IS a Warhammer forum) but there will be no bias as to which setting is used for your story.

As far as the theme goes, please feel free with future competitions to contact me with your ideas/proposals, especially given that my creative juices may flow a bit differently than yours. All I ask is that you PM me your ideas rather than posting them into the official competition entry/voting threads to keep posts there relevant to the current competition.

Word Count

The official word count for this competition will be 1,000 words. There will be a 10% allowance in this limit, essentially giving you a 900-1,100 word range with which to tell your tale. This is non-negotiable. This is an Expeditious Story competition, not an Epic Story nor an Infinitesimal Story competition. If you are going to go over or under the 900-1,100 word limit, you need to rework your story. It is not fair to the other entrants if one does not abide by the rules. If you cannot, feel free to PM me with what you have and I'll give suggestions or ideas as to how to broaden or shorten your story.

Each entry must have a word count posted with it. Expect a reasonably cordial PM from me (and likely some responses in the competition thread) if you fail to adhere to this rule. The word count can be annotated either at the beginning or ending of your story, and does not need to include your title.

Without further ado...

The theme for this month's competition is:

Laughter

Entries should be posted in this thread, along with any comments that the readers may want to give (and comments on stories are certainly encouraged in both the competition and voting threads!) 40K, 30K, WHF, and original universes are all permitted (please note, this excludes topics such as Halo, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, or any other non-original and non-Warhammer settings). Keep in mind, comments are more than welcome! If you catch grammar or spelling errors, the writers are all more than free to edit their piece up until the close of the competition, and that final work will be the one considered for voting. Sharing your thoughts with the writers as they come up with their works is a great way to help us, as a FanFiction community, grow as a whole.

The deadline for entries is Midnight GMT, 31 May 2014
. Remember, getting your story submitted on 22nd will be just as considered by others as one submitted on 11th! Take as much time as you need to work on your piece! Any entries submitted past the deadline will not be considered in the competition, regardless of whether the voting thread is posted or not.

Additional Incentive
If simply being victorious over your comrades is not enough to possess you to write a story, there will be rep rewards granted to those that participate in the HOES Challenge.

Participation - 1 reputation points, everyone will receive this
3rd place - 2 reputation points
2nd place - 3 reputation points
1st place - 4 reputation points and Lexicanum's Crest

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in this thread.

Without further nonsense from me, let the writing begin!




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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-09-14, 04:44 AM
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Blooded

The Greater Demon chuckled, enough to make the old stones beneath Mirathir’s feet tremble. “Are you really prepared to waste your life on this abandoned backwater?”

“My life?” The soulless gaze of the demon known only as Nyst tracked the young Eldar girl pacing back and forth on the stage of a decrepit amphitheater, filled with dusty bones and decayed armor. The Eldar, dressed in a tattered and dirty silver and ebony dress, did not appear to notice. She gently caressed one hand in the other, her angular features etched with concern and calculation in equal measure. “That would not be feasible even if that is what I actually wanted. I was not born a century ago… companion.”

The azure skinned centaur arched a brow at that last word, Mirathir had piqued her interest. “And what is it that you do want, little one? Enslaved souls to satiate your whims and desires? Demonhood, perhaps? Maybe a chance to escape your dire straits?”

Mirathir sized up the demon that dwarfed her, striding past her tail to stand directly before the creature. She pointed to her chest and whispered in expelled breathes. “I desire the most ancient wisdom, which only the things in the Warp are aged enough to remember.”

Nyst grumbled in distaste. “You never mentioned that before.”

“You did not ask.” Mirathir turned on her heel, hurrying off the stage in a sudden rush. “You have not asked me anything of importance. What good are you if won’t lift a finger to help?”

The Eldar girl could feel Nyst roll her eyes behind her back. A playful tone echoed towards her. “Where are you going?”

“Topside.”

The last stairs of the amphitheater drew close when heavy footfalls that shook the underground chamber began to follow in pursuit. A jammed doorway leading from the room slid open easily enough, creating an explosion of dust that made her cough several times. The demon’s shadow was already upon her again, Mirathir decided to let her skulk in silence. The moment did not last before Nyst’s irritating curiosity.

Nyst bellowed a sneeze that nearly cloaked them in microscopic debris. “What God sent you here?”

The sleeve of the Eldar’s dress rose to shield her eyes from the cloudy passage. “Why are you interested?” She paused a moment to regard the demon. “What God do you owe allegiance?”

“I ask only because I am interested in your purpose here.” The Greater Demon indicated Mirathir continue walking. “Have you truly been sent by the Gods? Or maybe the Eldar sent you on an impossible mission to destroy me. I think you’ve realized just how difficult such a task would prove.”

Mirathir snorted conceitedly, earning Nyst’s ire. “If I were sent by one of your Gods, I would not bother talking to you, now would I?”

The centaur bubbled with laughter. “And yet you’ve come here, a world so long abandoned with seemingly no purpose?” Nyst picked up a hollow skull off the ground, leaning forward to whisper in Mirathir’s ear. “You desire to know what I believe? I think you have displeased your Gods. I can hear Cegorach’s laughter inside these halls… we aren’t alone, my dear.”

“No, she is not.”

“Unbeliever. Sympathizer.”

“Guardian of the lost souls.”

“Destroy them. Both.”


Mirathir sucked in a breath, her heart leaping into her throat when she realized she had come to a crossroads. A female Eldar, dressed in a holo-suit of gold and sapphire diamond patterns. The pose she struck was a dramatic bow, the like performed at the beginning of an encore. A crackling power field flashed in her raised arm, the blade coming down swiftly with her sudden rise. Her other palm was extended out to her, open and naked. Her eyes promised agonizing death, but her grin was friendlier than an old friend’s.

Mirathir did not realize the other shadows darting toward her from the right and left corridors until the last moment. Unable to discern the other harlequins with her naked eyes, twin fireballs spat from either hand toward her assailants. Explosion’s rocked the corridor. Nyst’s tail flashed overhead, neatly cleaving through the first Harlequin to reach his prey. Blood and gore sprayed an unsuspecting Mirathir from head to toe, her choking gasps filling the air as she collapsed onto the dusty stone floors.

The second Harlequin flipped over her toppled body, dodging a lightning grab attempt by the Greater Demon. Mirathir quickly recovered her footing in time for the Harelquinn to cleave into one of Nyst’s reptilian scaled legs. The Eldar girl responded with a stream of crackling lightning, leaving scorch marks along the walls for meters as she tried to swat the nimble servant of the Laughing God. Remembering her first encounter, she shot a glance from over her shoulder. The female Harlequinn twisted into her guard, cracking her nose with a precise elbow.

The power weapon in her grip flicked downward. Mirathir screamed. Her flesh just above the stomach was spliced with sickening ease, the burning blade cauterizing the inflicted wound the moment it penetrated. The much elder female laughed gleefully, no remorse in the face mere inches from Mirathir’s own. The blade came loose in a crimson mist, set to come back down in a coup-de-grace cut short by a mighty clawed foot that stamped the Harlequin into a bloody paste.

Mirathir writhed, fingers clutching at her open wound, still pumping some fresh blood. The sounds of fighting drew to a close with one last, horrifying scream abruptly put to end. Nyst’s quiet rambling was the only thing she could hear for a time.

“Bah! Never asked you anything of importance.” The Greater Demon swept Mirathir up, ignoring her bawling and stepped into an invisible breach in reality. “Do you even know what it is you’re saying? You’re in no condition to answer anything I need explained. So I suppose I have little choice, you will wait inside the accursed ruin. I shall head to the other world with an interesting proposition in mind...”

Word Count: 1005

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
-Glen Cook, The Black Company


Tales of Heroism and Bravery, in the 41st Millennium and the Old World. Perhaps some Realm Gate Wars in the future .

Gods' Hall (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=161618

The New Word (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=121879
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-25-14, 06:31 PM
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In the Face of Fate

Flames lit up the sky around Eldran’tyr, licking at his robes and hair. The aura of protection generated from his armor protected both from the searing heat around him, but even without that, fire was the elf’s element. He was at home in flame, and did not fear it. Beneath him, the bronze-skinned sun dragon banked in the air, a perfectly executed dive that took it out of the way of the worst of the offending flame. Vorastrix feared flame even less than his rider, but one did not foolishly tempt fate with magic.

Eldran’tyr was smart enough not to tempt fate. He did, however, often laugh directly at it.

In one hand, the mage of Caledor brandished a half-staff, longer than wand or scepter but not too awkward to be used as a weapon from dragonback. In his other hand wielded an elegant sword, curved in Elvish fashion, made entirely of living flame. As his mount twisted around their prey, Eldran’tyr lashed out with his blade, the flames seeming to twist more like a whip than a simple blade, completely under his control. Nearly as fluid, Vorastrix dove and lashed out, tail and wing and claw all moving as one weapon against their foe.

The great demon before them cried out in pain, snapping back its own leathery, bat-like wings, trying to get some space from dragon and rider. It’s skin was a leathery hide the color of old blood, sometimes black and sometimes dark crimson in the fire and moonlight. A monstrous battleaxe, larger than Eldran’tyr was tall, swung in wide arcs that nearly bisected the elf. Only the expert skills of the sun dragon kept the mage in one piece. Eldran’tyr would never suggest this was luck, however. The elf and his steed were a team, a partnership. They were, in a way, creatures of fate, bound together since Eldran’tyr first woke the creature in the mountains of Caledor.

Eldran’tyr had laughed that day too, as the sun dragon opened its eyes, stared down at the ‘puny’ elf, threatening to roast him alive in fire. The two were suited to each other; they both had short fuses.

Neither knew what had caused the servant of Chaos to fly so close to the elven homeland, nor how it was able to hold itself together so close to the great vortex. If either mage or rider had thought about it, they would be concerned about the strength of such a beast having dared so close. But to give thoughts or concerns to such an issue would be to worry about fate. These two acted, they did not ponder. They did not worry. They laughed.

Eldran’tyr was laughing now. Ducking benath an axe blow as the dragon dived, he lashed out again with his blade. It seemed to shift and writhe like a living thing, a serpent striking against a larger foe. The demon roared and bellowed, the smell of burning flesh accompanying a sizzling sound. In response, Vorastrix suddenly cried out in pain as the demon’s claws lashed along its hide. The dragon wavered in its flight, but the blow was superficial and Vorastrix quickly levelled itself out, coming around for another pass. It opened its mouth and released a mighty roar in challenge. In Eldran’tyr’s mind, he heard the ‘voice’ of his mount, its laughter echoing through his mind. Finally, true sport!

The mage couldn’t help but agree. As they made another pass at the demon, he raised his staff. The crown of the weapon, sculpted like the draconic Caledor sigil, flared to life, and a bolt of flame flew from its tip to crash into the demon’s chest. Once again it bellowed in pain, and seemed to slow in flight. It responded with a bolt of magical flame of its own, which surged around the pair, absorbed by Eldran’tyr’s magical wards and armor.

Again and again the pair clashed, twisting around each other in midair, a ballet of violence and savagery as each one lashed out with weapons forged of raw magical energy. The roaring ocean was far beneath them both as they circled, waiting to swallow whichever pair lost the confrontation. The demon constantly roared out hate and frustration, unable to defeat the mage and rider that had stopped it from hunting and feasting on the elven lands below. Part of its frustration came from the lack of a kill after so long, with so many wounds and scorches accumulated from fighting the pair. Some of its frustration came from the blonde elven lord before him, laughing in the face of each blow, shrugging off unholy flames and shifting just enough to avoid each blow of axe and claw.

Demons knew how to deal with fear and rage, but it seemed at a loss against a foe that didn’t care. That was so eager for battle that all it wanted was to laugh in joy of being able to let loose with its full strength. In the end, it was that frustration that did it in, as much as spell or steel. The battle wore on, and the demon pushed further and further, growing more eager for killing blows with every passing heartbeat. The mage, knowing that for all his power he was only a mere elf, was just the bait.

Dragons can’t laugh, but they can enjoy the hunt just as much as their riders can. As the demon swooped in, hoping for an opening to end its frustration, Vorastrix lashed out. Massive jaws clamped around the demon, and it breathed its own flame. A roar of pain dissolved as the demon began to melt, returning to the aether and drawn into the Vortex once more.

The pair were left alone in the middle of a stormy sky, high above the sea. Both were covered in small wounds, but nothing truly significant. Eldran’tyr made the sword disappear from his hand as the spell ended, and he leans back in his saddle, running a hand affectionately over his steed. One last chuckle escaped his lips. “Most fun I’ve had in weeks.” He offered. Vorastrix rumbled his acknowledgement. Remember that at lunch time. We’ll both be bored again by then.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-31-14, 08:54 AM
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Grin and Bear it- 1100 words

Smiles. Grins. They meant happiness, yes? Happiness was good, wasn’t it?

Sometimes happiness was good, it appeared, but sometimes it was incredibly bad. The laugh, it echoed, it burned, it wormed its way into his ears and up into his head and it felt like his skull would pop with the pressure. It was… well, horrifyingly, terrifyingly painful.

The rictus grin of his captor loomed up above the Guardsman’s face, teeth long and jagged, lips pulled back unnaturally tight. The nose was hooked sharply, the eyes bright and filled with a terrifying glee.

And then the face changed. When it changed, the Guardsman had noticed, it did not change as did a proper face. It looked- no, looked was the wrong word, it felt like it wasn’t a face changing expressions. It felt like the face disappeared and was replaced by another.

The smile was more a curious one now, the eyes penetrating, boring deep into his soul. The cackling continued, that torturous sound; fingers, encased in white ceramite whorled in pink and spattered with a red that wasn’t paint, materialized in front of the Guardsman’s face. They were big, far too big, but that didn’t matter because one pressed itself to his brow and the pain made it feel like his head would explode right then and there-

Silence, suddenly. No more laughing, giggling, cackling, none of it. Just silence.

The silence was more menacing than the laughter, and the Guardsman found himself wishing for that noise to return.

“Where are the rest?” the mouth shaped, lips sinuously stretching themselves around the words, which came whispering from the thing’s hellish throat seemingly a moment later. The sound and the movements weren’t synchronized, but this wasn’t a holorecording, this was real and this was wrong.

“I-”

It took effort to pull the words out of his head, push them down to his chest, bring them back up and out of his mouth; he had to stop, chest heaving with fear and loathing, before beginning again.

“I-I am Trooper F-first Class Erik B-”

The hand removed itself from his forehead and then smashed across the Guardsman’s jaw; the pain blossomed, hot and red, through his head. He screamed, a high-pitched shriek; the smiling monster didn’t seem to notice.

Laughter bubbled up once again from the thing’s throat; the face changed, and the Guardsman would have looked away if he could. But he was strapped down tight, and whatever thing the beast had put him in held his eyelids open. No, he had to watch; the smile lengthened, far too long for a normal face, but it was obvious this thing was no normal human. It shook its hand; the redness that wasn’t paint spattered the grey ferrocrete of the floor, and the Guardsman realized that it was his blood, and that there was more of it dripping out of his mouth and nose.

The face pressed itself close once more, and the laughter rose in volume. It hurt, like a series of explosions going off in his cranium, but the Guardsman had faith.

“Our Emperor, upon Thy Holy Thr-”

Crunch.

This time there wasn’t a scream, just a strangled sob. The monster had broken his arm, again. He’d done the forearm hours before; this time he’d simply gripped the Guardsman’s bicep and closed his massive fist.

Hot tears were pouring from the Guardsman’s eyes, stretched open as they were. But no, there was to be no relenting. He recalled what they’d hammered into his head during training. Name, rank, and serial number. That was all. Anything else, and if you survived the commissars would make absolutely sure you ended up in front of a firing squad. Or they’d just take care of it, then and there.

No. No, better to do this now and die for the Emperor, die a hero, like the commissars said. It didn’t feel heroic, but he had to trust in them. He had to-

The face was pressed up close again, that damned maniacal smile obscenely large. It was giggling, a high-pitched sort of thing. “Where?”

Erik sobbed. He’d planned to say something, to spit in this thing’s face, but it was impossible to do anything else confronted with this abomination. He couldn’t even go through the charade of name, rank, serial number- nothing. Nothing at all.

He felt his eyes drawn to the mad orbs of his captor- yellow things, with a slit pupil and no white to be seen. What sort of thing could have done this? He knew, somewhere in the back of his head, that this had been a human like him once- but it had lost claim to that title long ago. It wore ceramite battle-plate, like the Astartes Erik had seen, once, but it was… warped. Twisted. If he stared too long into the swirls of pink, it felt like something was trying to worm its way into his head.

That was it. Of course that was what had done this- the warp. Chaos. Like the commissars and the priests said. A Traitor Marine- he knew that. He’d already known that, hadn’t he?

Damn, he could hardly remember anything now. All he recalled was pain- and that abhorrent laughter.

Speaking of that- the giggling started again. Why was it so painful? What sort of insane pain-fantasy was this?

The Chaos Marine turned around, rummaging around on a steel tray of various medical utensils. Erik finally found his voice again. “Stop that!” he cried, trying to jerk up off whatever this thing had strapped him down to- but that, of course, did nothing except tear at the corners of his eye sockets with whatever the warp-twisted monster had set to hold the lids open.

His ankle exploded in pain; the Guardsman arched his back and shrieked in agony. What the hell had this thing done? He couldn’t see his feet, and the pain was eating at his vision. All he could see was the monster looking down at him.

“Just fragging kill me!” he sobbed, fists clenching involuntarily.

The Traitor Marine shrugged, an impressive movement of gigantic shoulder plates, face twisting through a series of expressions before settling into a jagged smile. The laughter stopped. “As you wish.”

The yawning maw of a bolt pistol, its muzzle sculpted into a snarling gargoyle’s head, eclipsed the warped face; Erik fancied he could see the tip of the massive bolt inside the weapon. He knew it would be the last thing he’d see, thank the God-Emperor.

A pained smile crossed his face. A strangled sob. And then- a laugh.

And then just blackness.

"You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honorable man."
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-31-14, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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I thought Xabre's efforts would be wasted, but I managed to get this finished at the last minute.

-----

Chuckle

*Beep Bip Beep Bip*

Lucas eased himself upright, and then winced. Sleeping in the flight chair wasn’t ideal, but since the accident left them with reaction drives there were frequent alarms. And with Anderson dead, there was no-one to spell him. Neck finally agreeing to straighten, he silenced the warning.

The main thruster was reporting a fuel interruption. Superb. He stretched for the intercom. “Engine Room from Cockpit. Do you read? Over.... Engine Room from Bridge, over....” Who was supposed to be on duty? “Wilson, do you read...?” Probably inside something, or dozed off. He could shout, but that would wake everyone else up. He needed a stroll anyway, to get the kinks out.

The corridor lights flickered as he passed. Since the experimental drive crapped out, everything was on the blink. And there weren’t enough of them to keep it going. On the plus side, the reduction in crew numbers would made the profit share very healthy.

Lucas yawned hard, and then leaned into the engine room. “Wilson. You sleeping on the job again?”
Everything was sealed up tight, and there was no sign of anyone. Must have gone for parts. Lucas tapped the intercom. After a brief crackle the power light flickered out. Which explained why Wilson hadn’t answered.

He could wait for him, but if something else crapped out he needed to be in the cockpit to deal with it. So check the stores. He jogged along the corridor, and then slid down the service ladder. Peering into the half-darkness, he realised there were legs stretched out of a duct at the far end. “Wilson?”

The figure slid out of the duct.

“No need to get up. Main thruster’s reporting a fuel blockage. I need to get back to the cockpit before we hit a planet or something.” Lucas headed back without waiting for an answer.

There were several amber warnings waiting for him when he got back, but nothing critical. And the thruster was back to normal. He revised the course to account for the interruption, then started working through the amber warnings.

*Beep Bip Beep Bip*


Another fuel interruption to the main thruster. He stopped with his hand half-way to the intercom. The power light was out in the cockpit too. Looked like he was walking again.

There were hand-helds in the stores. If they taped them to the walls, it would having to walk back and forth all the time.

He slid back down the service ladder. Whatever Wilson had been fixing, it wasn’t the lights. Staring into the murk, Lucas tried to remember which cabinet the hand-helds were in.

He dived flat as something whooshed through where he had been. Rolling over, he narrowly avoided Wilson’s down swing.

“It’s your fault,” shouted Wilson, raising the wrench over his head. “It must be you. Laughing at me.”

Lucas kicked him hard in the crotch. Save the monologues for the movies. Standing, he kicked the wrench away from Wilson’s prone body. This was just getting better and better.

“Laughing from the shadows,” gasped Wilson. “But I’ll show you.”

Lucas peered around. Wilson had clearly lost it, so he couldn’t just leave him. But there was no way he could get him up the ladder. So he needed to improvise. Smacking Wilson behind the ear to make sure he stayed down, Lucas began to empty out the nearest cabinet.

With Wilson’s unconscious body locked in the cabinet, Lucas headed for the bunks. But it looked like Wilson had been there already.

Trying not to heave at thoroughness of the murders, he backed out slowly and then ran for the engine room. Hopefully there was a e-manual somewhere.

Something made a gurgling chuckle behind him. Scooping the wrench back up, he spun round. There it was again, behind the drive casing. He advanced confidently. Jumping around the casing, he saw nothing but pipes.

Something chuckled again. It was coming from that yellow pipe. Checking the valve tag, he let the wrench hang lose. The coolant for the experimental drive. Must be bubbles in the system. Wilson was right about it sounding like laughter though. He returned to his search for a manual.

There had to be one somewhere. It was a bloody requirement. He finally found it in the scurf locker.

Right, fuel interruptions. There it was. Following the diagnostics, he confirmed there was a real problem. And that he needed to purge the fuel lines to fix it. Which produced an significant drop in the gauge.

He ran back to the cockpit. The board was miraculously clear, and stayed clear when he powered up the main thruster. But, as he had feared, purging the lines had used too much of the reserves. So, the only option was to use the experimental drive again. It had worked fine the first time, and whatever happened the second time had only affected people actually in the engine room, so he should be fine in the cockpit.

He ran back to the engine room. The manual didn’t mention anything about the drive. He looked around. They were monitoring when the accident happened, so what were they doing it with?
Checking the drive case, he found an integrated terminal.

Operational and Diagnostic Logs. Manual restart. Automatic restart.

That was more like it. He tapped the icon.

System status preventing automatic restart.
Run diagnostic? Y/N.


Yes, of course you piece of junk.

Coolant system inoperative.

Superb. And no option to turn it on. Must be in another menu. Probably the logs.

Coils. Generator. Coolant.

System Status: Offline.
Coolant Reservoir: 0%

The bloody reservoir was empty. That made no sense. He called up the detailed logs. The last entry swam in front of his eyes. The accident had superheated the system. He remembered Wilson talking about needing to recharge the reservoir, but he hadn’t realised he meant the system was empty. But if the pipes were dry, then what-

Something chuckled in the shadows.

-----

- 994 words
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