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post #31 of 53 (permalink) Old 11-15-15, 09:43 PM
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So nice to see the eldar getting involved, I like your interpretation of them very much . The suspense is mounting, keep it up!

“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.”
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post #32 of 53 (permalink) Old 11-16-15, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Default Chapter the Second part 1 of 5

Chapter the Second

Storm Front on the Horizon


Back on the battlefield, the three new acquaintances appraised one another. Abelard ran his hands over the modified lazgun Veghard had handed to him, familiarizing himself with the couple different controls. Abelard could feel the anxiety that surrounded him begin to slip away. Whether it was the gigantic presence of Novarious, Veghard’s unflappable calm, or having not only a weapon in his hands again, but what was obviously a superior piece of equipment than his standard issue lazgun, Abelard did not feel as though the sky had closed in around him and trying to force him into the dirt.

Novarious had also given the lazgun an inspection. He was mildly impressed with the weapon, but used the time to surreptitiously observe the other two. Abelard, he could see, was standing straighter, breathing more regularly. Veghard after making sure Abelard understood the differences in his new lazgun, had turned away from the group and was surveying the area around them. Novarious had seen Squat warriors before, but he had never had to interact with them and while he had heard of their stalwart nature, heard how they were as impervious to fear as any Astartes, he had never given the rumors any credit. The few sentences he had traded with the Squat gave some credence to those rumors, for Veghard had not so much as blinked at having to speak to him. An almost unheard of feat in Novarious’s experience. Only commisars seemed to be able to control their fear when addressing one of the Emperor’s marines.

Veghard looked the young boy over. Getting caught in the barrage still had him rattled, but against normal human behavior, Abelard had not broken. Veghard’s concern did not diminish though. He was pleased that Novarius had not kill the boy outright for having obviously lost his unit, his weapon, and his field gear, but he was not sure how long the marine would stay his hand. A mercy that would not survive any failure on the boy’s part Veghard knew. He also knew that they would need the boy, and soon.

Vertigo struck Veghard having him drop to the ground on one knee. His vision blurred and the sound of his own breathing drew to a deafening crescendo. Though their voices were garbled and indistinct, Veghard knew the other two were speaking to him. He was unsure of their concerns as even the tones of their voice were lost between the breath of his lungs and the now thunderous drum of his heart. The streaks of white and tan sloshed about his vision. He could tell that others had joined the three of them. He could feel them moving about him, though they said nothing. Only Novarius and Abelard spoke and Veghard tried to calm their fears and explain what had happened to him. Then as suddenly as it befell him, the world snapped back into focus.

Veghad found himself kneeling before a map drawn in the dirt. Novarius and Abelard were knelt down to either side of him with Abelard speaking to him.

“And once we have rejoined these forces here, in which we will not…” Abelard’s paused, puzzlement creasing his forehead. “How do you know we won’t face any opposition?”

Novarius nodded his agreement and added a comment of his own.

“The white shield is right. This map is incredibly accurate, but we have no updates of enemy movement. These guardians that were stationed here were at best advanced warning of any broken units working the area, which will bring reinforcement, most likely in the form of their rangers.”

Veghard looked at each of his companions. He was still struggling to ascertain how he even drew the map, but he could not shake the feeling of assurance that if he moved and followed the directions of the map he seemed to have drawn that no harm would befall him. Time though was limited. Looking at Abelard, Veghard knew that the man would be crucial in the moments ahead, just as he knew the working of his lasgun. It felt like a half remembered conversation, the actual words and arguments used forgotten, but the gist and outcome remembered. Novarius would not be swayed. He would have to decide for himself if he would follow Veghard and Veghard knew that the likeliness of that was slim. Abhuman as Veghard was, it was a show of extreme will that the marine was even speaking with the two of them.

“Time is not on my side”, Veghard had decided to attempt to explain himself would be a fruitless endeavor. “Elements of the One Seventy Seventh will have been driven along that ditch line.”
Vehard toed a point of the map in the ground. “The Sixty First’s initial orders were to hold to the left and ensure the shields were not flanked. The remainder of the thunderers will still hold that position and that is where I need to be.”

Vehard picked up his heavy bolter and sank his shoulder into its harness.

“Emperor guide you, Astartes”, he saluted the marine and then turned and barked an order to the white shield. “Abe, on my six and stay close.”

The next thing Abelard realized was Veghard trotting down the low ridge he had been illustrating to him and the marine. With a trepidatious look towards Novarius, Abe jumped to his feet and, crouching low, ran after the squat warrior. In a space of a few steps, he overtook the shorter man. Remembering his last chase, Abe made a point of keeping to the rear of Veghard. He cradled Gracie at port arms as they trotted along the draw, fear beginning to gnaw at his gut again. Abe could not control his breathing and found himself panting, almost out of breath, even though Veghard was not pressing forward with any great haste.

As the two ran along, the lack of action or enemy fire, Abe found himself recovering. No whistling shuriken flew by, no explosions from incoming missiles or grenades. The absence of opposition began to bring more of a sense of boredom than fear. A feeling that was shattered when Abelard looked to his right as he scanned the copse of trees that they were passing beneath when the deep marine blue of Novarius’ armor loomed up above him. Abe stumbled, almost losing his footing. He had first thought that the marine would shoot both him and Vegard down when the squat all but ignored the marine’s concerns. Though when they had moved some distance, and no shots rang out, Abe thought that Novarius had decided to go elsewhere. Running almost silently, a shocking feat to Abe, the giant marine had moved up and took position off his right shoulder.

The silence that had fallen over their area, was shattered by a scattering of laser fire and the high pitched whine of some unknown weapon from ahead of them. The draw continued ahead and wound down to their left, chasing the sloping end of a finger from the crest of a hill. Veghard veered up and out of the draw and began climbing the side of the finger, choosing a small outcropping of rock at the midpoint from the top of the hill. The area was clear, for the copse of trees had fallen to their rear. Dry grasses that only came to their knees was the only cover available to them besides the hill they had yet to climb over. The rocks that Veghard was navigating towards formed a military crest along the ridgeline of the hill’s finger. Kneeling down, Veghard looked to the both of them. Abe felt the fear that had receded earlier return with such great force that his bowels almost turned to water.

“Abe. You will lead from here on. I want you charge over the hill at this point, the rocks. You must cross at their peak! Look!” Veghard pointed emphatically at the outcropping. “From there, you will start to lay suppressive fire into the forces that are holding the high ground. Stay focused! Novarius and I will be just above you in the saddle.”

Abe’s face paled as the blood rushed from his face. Veghard swiftly reached out and slapped him hard. Spots flashed in his vision as he tried to clear the ringing in his head.

“If you cannot do this Abe, your usefulness to the Emperor is finished. Novarius will fulfill his duty. Climb the rocks. You are behind the Eldar here. Remember the map? Fire down upon them. Surprise is on your side, and once the shock of your fire is absorbed, we will be set at the saddle. You are free to choose your action after that. Get to cover if you need to. We are not alone. The rest of the 177th is there, pinned in the draw. Only you can save them.”

“But…”, Abe’s voice was weak. “Novarius is astartes! Why can’t he do it?”

“We all have roles to play, Abe. This is one is yours.”

Novarius slammed the bolt carrier on his bolt gun, bringing a fresh clip into the receiver. Abe jumped at the unexpected sound. The expressionless helmet hid his features, but Abe knew the marine would shoot him down if he felt Abe was too frightened to do as he was told. Veghard stared hard at the boy.

“Go!” Veghard said to him, and pulled him around to face the last short yards to the crest of the finger. “Go! Now! They need you to pull the Eldar’s attention away from them!”

Abe did not look back. With what seemed as just three steps, he found himself standing atop the exposed rocks that seemed to form a knuckle in the hill’s finger. A wide low bowl was formed below him. To his left, deep in the draw, was the remainder of the 177th. Just before him though, advancing in rank and fielding suppressing fire, aspect warriors of the Eldar forces closed in on the pinned men below them. Abe brought Gracie up to his shoulder, depressed the firing stud, and with a high pitched whine Gracie threw bolts of light down and into the side of the Fire Dragons that were clearing out the humans from before them.

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Default Chapter the Second part 2 of 5

Down below Abelard in the bowl, deep in combat and unaware of his presence or its danger, the Fire Dragon Exarch, Vondel, sprayed the make-shift trench before him mercilessly. Left and right, his Dragon’s Breath spat death across the mon-keigh forces. These stragglers had fallen into their fusion guns just as Erl’myasdul had foreseen. Deniilan’s own fusion gun fired, passing through and melting away in a flash the human that had popped out of the trench to fire a futile burst of coherent light from the paltry firearms they carried. In enough numbers the weapons could be lethal, but haphazard shots were more often turned away by the bodysuits the Eldar wore or bounced ineffectively off the reinforcement plates protecting the more vulnerable areas.

Where these troops had originated from in the battle, Vondel did not know. The Farseer had given him explicit instructions on which checkpoints to maintain, and how long. The skirmishes that his unit of Fire Dragons had swept through had culminated in this body of men running headlong into the muzzle fire of his arrayed plasma guns. His own Dragon’s Breath, usually hampered by its shorter range and disdained by the majority of his brethren in the Aspect Temple in favor of a firepike, rained a fiery doom upon those foolish enough to think the trench and rocks would aid in protecting them from the Eldar force they had ran into unexpectedly. The fear that had gripped the humans after the initial salvo that decimated their force had indeed saved the lives of some, who did not go to ground and try and hide from the Eldar’s fire. Haurin, Fellthain, Iyannashi, Tellqui, Lleyyagho, Jaaxisha, and Bispasqu continued unabated fire in the broken human unit. It would be suicide to let up and give the mon-keigh and opportunity to lick its wounds and recover. Like treating any wounded animal, death would be kinder and safer.

More of the humans died in the trench and Vondel knew the few remaining would be eliminated in moments. A gasp and sigh from his left caused him to turn. It was not an unfamiliar sound. A mortal wound had somehow found one of his unit. Tellqui, he saw, fell forward. It was the slow fall made with no effort to catch oneself. Several holes had been burned through the chest piece of his body suit. Another companion lost, another soul caught in the sparkling gem that now came alight with almost a renew purpose. Another task, one of incredible distaste, that Vondel would repeat as he had countless times as his role of Exarch. All around his fallen comrade, more stabs of light sent tiny puffs of smoke up from the dead grasses and duff that covered the ground. Swiftly they traversed the distance between Tellqui’s position in the formation and closed in upon Iyannashi. Vondel barked warning and turned to bring his Dragon’s Breath to bear upon the counter attack that had surprisingly come from a secured sector of control.

Expecting to see perhaps a small squad of mon-keigh, stragglers who escaped notice, Vondel watched a single human fire from over the crest of a knuckle in the low ridgeline. The human, even before Tellqui finished his fall, charged down towards Vondel and his Fire Dragons in a suicidal rush screaming incoherently. More flashes of contained lightning fired out of the muzzle of the human’s lazgun. Almost twice the cycle of fire, Vondel realized as he counted emotionlessly, of a normal human weapon as he raised his own to eliminate the surprise nuisance. With a detached air, Vondel gauged the distance to the human. Iyannashi had delicately moved away from the scattering fire laid blindly down, for Vondel could see now that the human did not even have his eyes open. How Tellqui had succumbed to such a random act as a blindly firing human pained Vondel, and even the knowledge that the act would be avenged was no salve against the wound on Vondel’s own soul.

Thundering staccato broke Vondel’s attention. Iyannashi, who had so deftly moved to bring the silly human to a swift end, exploded in a rain of tiny metal explosions that tore effortlessly through the armor plates and body suit. Haurin, who had continued to deal death to the scattered remains of their original prey, joined Iyannashi in her fate as the merciless fire continued along the end line of the Fire Dragon’s formation. From yet another quarter, though not far enough removed to indicate a new unit, Vondel saw two more individuals moved in from the saddle that ran between the rock knuckle and the crest of the hill. Above and between his troop and their path to safety, the two new figures were now Vondel’s primary concern. The broken humans, including the charging mon-keigh, were of no importance. The presence of the heavy weapon, a heavy bolter Vondel recognized not only by its bulk but by its signature report, was of highest import. To the side of the heavy weapon, and now down the hill, charged one of the constructed menaces of the human empire. Clad in its signature dark azure and argent rune, Vondel knew it was stronger and more resilient than those in his troop and should the human successfully close with them only Vondel could walk away from such a clash easily, if the marine made it all the way to him and his. Another order sent out to the remainder of his troop brought guns to bear on the Ultramarine and his supporting heavy weapon.

Veghard continued to fire down upon the Fire Dragons in the bowl of the hill below him. Novarius charged down the hill, swiftly closing with the Eldar below. Veghard, freed of the marine’s constant observation, began a slow trot that took him down towards the rock knuckle Abe had abandoned. Firing as he moved, he knew such action would be better protection than a good bunker. Most did not worry about a heavy bolter moving from a position. The squats had long since been able to wield heavy weapons that would force the taller humans to stand and brace themselves. Their short stature and life under heavy gravity made the squats stronger than most any appreciated. That coupled with their superior understanding of gyros and anti-recoil technologies brought the standard squat heavy bolter a greater degree of mobility than any other Imperial equipment.

The Fire Dragons turned on Novarius, their plasma weapons locking on the charging figure when Veghard had reached the knuckle. The elimination of the One Seventy Seventh had been averted, but Veghard knew what was coming and he was afraid the Fire Dragons would cause too much damage to the few troops Veghard knew of. Squeezing his trigger again, a hail of spent casings fountained around him and cascaded about the rocks. Starting at the far end of the Eldar line, Veghard watched another of the lithe creatures dance in jerky motion before falling still under the weight of his fire but he knew his effort alone would not be enough to save the lone marine.

Down at the end of the bowl he stood sentinel over, Veghard gave half an eye to the boy, Abe. He had survived his initial rush and had provided the time Veghard had needed to cut down the two Eldar who had been tasked with clearing out the draw the One Seventy Seventh had taken cover in. Novarius had not reached the Eldar and his shots, which were fouling the aim of one Dragon, failed to bring it down. Lasgun fire from Abe completed what the Astartes had not, but what brought a small grin to Veghard’s visage was Abe’s wild gesticulation at the cowering troops in the draw. Up from their hiding places, the remnants of Abe’s troop began to pour lasgun fire into the Dragons. Fired upon from multiple directions, the discipline of the Fire Dragons began to break down. The coordinated fire started to instead be divided between the marine and the recovered humans, none of which hit their mark as the Fire Dragons broke ranks and attempted to retreat back up the bowl. In moments, the rout of the One Seventy Seventh had been turned into the elimination of the unit of Fire Dragons.

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Default Chapter the Second part 3 of 5

As the last Dragon fell, Veghard felt himself stumble back from the rock knuckle. The edges of his vision faded to a foggy grey and a sound like the roar of the ocean filled his ears. Fighting to stay on his feet, Veghard lost the feeling in his legs and he felt himself slide forward into a never ending fall through seemingly infinite fog.

Grey fog parted as Veghard fell. The ground spun crazily below him, and the browns of grasses blurred with the greens and blacks of the blasted forest. The roar that seemed to have started with the roar of the ocean, he now recognized as the scream of wind as he shot towards the surface of a planet. Veghard, who most considered level headed even for a squat, felt panic tighten his chest. He did not know how or why he was suddenly suspended in the air, or falling from such a height. It would not matter in moments, but that fact did not keep Veghard from flailing his arms in futile panic, trying to somehow stop his meteoric descent.

“Ah! You made it!” A semi-familiar voice announced near him, totally unconcerned with Veghard, or the other’s predicament.

A hand reached out and grabbed Veghard, stopping his flailing. At once, the screaming of the wind stopped, the world righted itself, and Veghard found himself again at the rock knuckle. Shock filled him as he watched the battle unfold itself before him, Novarius falling before disciplined fusion gun fire, while the One Seventy Seventh melted away as Abelard was cut down. No supporting fire came from his position as unlike just moments ago, his heavy bolter was nowhere to be seen. Somehow, his actions had no effect. The battle below him, sliding away as the Dragons moved into the draw, was different that the one he could remember just fighting in. Veghard looked behind the rock knuckle, expecting to see his own body, melted or charred beyond recognition. There were stories of those who had been miraculously resuscitated who spoke of the ancestors coming to guide the fallen. The stories were similar, so most took them as dreams that were half remember and so the dreamer would fall back upon the other instances to copy them for some type of explanation. Dreams made up while the brain slowly died, yet found that life was not quite done with them.

Veghard was as most. Such stories were just that, stories for the gullible. The ancestors were revered, just as the Emperor; unseen, untouched, and unknown. The Emperor would no more stride the battle field, like the Eldar Avatar, than an ancestor would come hold your hand as you died. The dead did not sit in judgment as taught to all squat children, but their achievements and actions were to be emulated. The Living Ancestors were an anomaly, but an anomaly in a universe of anomalies. Veghard gave the Living Ancestors credit that was their due, but in the end they were only psykers. Useless to the Imperium, though revered by the Squats, the Living Ancestors lacked the unbridled power of the sanctioned psykers, the Eldar warlocks, or the magics of the Chaos sorcerers, all of which had been witnessed or experienced by Veghard. The mumblings of a senile squat held little import in Veghard’s eyes.

Rock solid belief was now shaking inside Veghard. He could piece together the destruction of the Eldar, not his Imperial forces. Looking behind the rocks, an almost unconquerable fear was building inside of him. Somewhere he would see his own body and life would be denied him, even as he felt as if he was alive even now. Would seeing his own body end even this? Yet, around the knuckle there was no sign of blood, gore, or even body. Veghard was so engrossed with seeking his fallen body he started with a jolt when the voice he had forgotten about pulled his attention from his search.

“You won’t find anything looking down there, Veghard.” The voice came from another squat. Dressed as Veghard, the squat looked no different from any other Veghard had dealt with.

Veghard found his voice had a quavering note to it, shaming him, but being unable to quell his fear he was unable to force it to his regular timber. “Are…are you an ancestor? Are you one of my ancestors?”

The other gazed back at him. Veghard knew immediately what the newcomer would say. Something like, “What do you think?” or as evasive. The thought of such a retort made Veghard angry, which loosened the grip the fear had over him at the thought of being dead. Surprisingly, the other simply nodded and Veghard found himself without an angry retort.

“Am I dead?” Another question, but this time the other smiled and shook his head negatively. “Then what am I? What’s going on?”

His anger had found a target, but the gruff tone of his voice had no effect on the other.

“What is your name? You know mine, who are you?” Veghard was not sure what was angering him more, the other’s sudden silence or the mocking smile that refused to leave the man’s face, though the direct question did finally get a response.

“My name? Why it doesn’t matter. Call me what you wish. My name died with me, but my purpose has always held me. I will be your guide, for a short time. There will be others who will need me, and soon you will not. You will find others to counsel you. Come, you don’t have much time. Your strength will wane soon and you must see.”

“See? See what? Everyone was killed”, Veghard gestured to the Dragons that had moved past the draw and were moving up the other side. “My plan failed. I didn’t even fire a shot.”

His guide followed Veghard, watching the Dragons move away and he even chuckled. “Well, that’s different.”

“What’s different?” Veghard was puzzled by the other’s disinterest in the death below them.

“This isn’t what happened. This is was what the Farseer was grasping for. Most Ancestors don’t see options of the past.” He turned to look at Veghard. “Of course, that is why we have been waiting for you. Because you are different, my friend.”

“My friends have names”, snorted Veghard.

“Then give me one”

Veghard paused. Fear began to build in him again. Squats were not by nature susceptible to tendrils of chaos, but strongholds had been subverted. Though not many, such places were hated even more than the greenskins. Veghard felt cold. If he was not dead, this could be some chaos creature that had invaded his mind, if that could happen. How did someone become possessed? If he named this vision, this dream, would it gain access to his soul? Possess him? Or was he already damned and no longer protected by the Emperor? He wanted to turn and run from this unknown squat, but squats did not turn and run. And if this was some chaos spirit, where would he run to? Veghard tried to think of his options but all he could think of what that he was at the mercy of this creature.


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Sorry, I haven't been able to keep up with the last few updates. Classes are coming to an end soon, so I am swamped at the moment. I'll catch up as soon as I get the chance, though ;).

“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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Default Chapter the Second part 4 of 5

Veghard licked his lips, nervousness had a grip on him he could not shake. As a squat, psykers were a phenomenon left to the Imperium. They were not an issue among the Squat worlds, and now he did not know what he should expect or what kind of defense he needed. The spirit, if that was what it was, watched Veghard with a concerned look on his face.

“Time is not a commodity we have much of. I need to guide you, to explain what you might see.”

“What I might see?” Veghard asked.

“Opportunities, Veghard. Opportunities”, the spirit looked about expectantly. “We need to move on from here. You’re strength will not hold out forever. Besides, this never happened. The Farseer tried for this version of history, but he wasn’t able to change what had been chosen. If you don’t listen to me, he will get ahead of you and you will be at his mercy.”

Veghard frowned. This wasn’t making much sense to him. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, trying to separate out what the spirit was talking about while he tried not to think what would happen to him once an inquisitor took custody of him. The spirit’s next comment caused his eyes to open in surprise.

“Perfect! First pull out of the box. You’re a natural, Veghard!” The spirit laughed.

Below them, the bowl had changed. The eldar lay where they had fallen to the combined fire of Novarius and the One Seventy Seventh. Movement at the top of the hill caught Veghard’s eye. Ghostly figures raced along the ridgeline before going to ground. Once in place, on some unseen signal, the figures began firing down upon the Imperial forces celebrating down in the draw. Several of the guardsmen fell beneath the fire of what seemed to be five figures. Down in the draw, Novarius gathered the remaining men of the One Seventy Seventh and had them retreat back to cover among the rocks of the draw they had just exited.

“This, Veghard, has already been chosen. It is a decision that has already been made. You see those rangers there? When you wake, you won’t be able to see them as they are now, but you will know they are there. The Living Ancestor who set this line has already deployed forces to ensure its eventual victory. The rangers are the gambit played by the Farseer once she realized a Living Ancestor had made this decision.”

“What!” Veghard exclaimed. “A Living Ancestor made a decision? A Farseer’s gambit? What in the name of the Emperor are you talking about?”

The spirit turned to look at Veghard.

‘Listen, though you won’t really understand, it will make sense before I go. Farseers always seem a step ahead of their opponents, right? This is not superior planning on the Eldar’s part, but instead based upon the Farseer’s ability to manipulate the information gathered from whatever oracle, be it runes or some other device, they use to scry with. The information they gather is, to be blunt, little more than good news versus bad news, but some inspired actions on the case of a few individuals makes even something as simple as good or bad news into a seemingly unstoppable force.

“The Living Ancestor, by contrast, does not need to interpret a bag of runes. He is instead advised by the spirits of ancestors who are not constrained by time as the living experiences it. The Living Ancestor can, by focusing on what he is shown, reduce the acts of random chance and can, in turn, advise the warlord on the best action for a given engagement.”

“You expect me to believe that?” Veghard exploded. “Aside from not making any sense, that’s simply impossible, besides being flatly absurd!”

“And yet it will become second nature to you”, the spirit seemed unmoved by Veghard’s anger. “Those rangers, what will you do? How will you save your men?”

A sharp pain stabbed Veghard in the back of the head as his head struck a rock. With a jarring thud, his wind was knocked from him and he rolled around on the ground trying to catch his breath. Gaining his feet he looked about for the spirit, but the odd feeling of a dream was missing and so was the spirit. Veghard glanced quickly at the ridge line. Nothing stood out and below he could hear the beginning of a cheer from the surviving troopers. Gripping his binoculars, Veghard surveyed the opposite ridge where he had seen the ghostly figures of the cloaked rangers. It was so quick that if he had not been looking for something, he would have missed it, a shift of grass against the breeze and the flash of metal. Dropping his glasses, Veghard grabbed up his heavy bolter and began to run down the slope to the troopers below, hoping he would be fast enough to get them into cover.

*** ***** ***

As the action against the Fire Dragons came to a close. Novarius finished the final Dragon, burying his combat knife deep in the chest of his assailant. His thrust, deflected by a chopping block, had become fouled under the Dragon’s arm and Novarius took advantage of a hard to reach vulnerability in the Eldar’s armor. A ventilation vent, set high in the armpit, positioned at the tangent formed by the cuirass served as his entry point. A high pitched grunt was all the Dragon could muster as Novarius’s augmented strength allowed him to drive home his strike. Unceremoniously Novarius dumped the Eldar’s body to the ground, freeing his knife.

Novarius frowned inside his helmet as more damage was assessed and recorded by his armor. By the Emperor’s Blessing, none of the wild shots from the fusion guns of the Dragons had found their mark, though just the passing of the super heated plasma was danger enough. Saved by the virtue of its design, and the diligent care Novarius applied, his armor had kept him alive in what would have cut down any Imperial trooper, but Novarius still paid a price in new aches and burns. Such wounds would have to wait for care, but for now he had the painkillers and stimulants to hold him till an apothecary could be found. Turning about, he watched the troopers who climbed out of the draw that had sheltered the few remaining. Dozens lay in and out of the draw, on both sides, and across the bottom. The flamer the exarch had used left even more as unrecognizable charred remains clinging futilely to insufficient cover. Abelard, who Novarius had anticipated having to execute when the boy almost failed to follow the squat’s order, was now waving forward the paltry remains of the One Seventy Seventh White Shields totally oblivious to the carnage that lay about him. As one of the last troopers climbed to his feet, Abelard brought himself stiffly to attention and saluted the soiled officer

“White Shield Terrence reporting, sir!”

“Abe? By the Emperor, you’re alive!” The officer looked shocked to Abelard, and the others of the unit began to cluster around the boy. The office sketched a quick salute and joined the others who gathered around Abelard and began to pelt him with questions. The men were all talking over each other and no sense could be made of the hubbub, all the while Abelard was trying to recount what had happened and how he had been reunited with them. Frustrated, Novarius moved up to the group of men. As his shadow moved over them, silence fell. After a moment where he said nothing, Abelard broke the tableau.

“Sir, this is Ultramarine Novarius. It was him and the squat I was talking about who brought me here.”

The officer paled as he looked up at the towering marine. A shaking hand attempted to salute, but the gesture failed and the man quailed under the unmoving gaze of the marine. His men shuffled behind the officer quickly and left Abelard to stand between the officer and Novarius alone. Abe looked from the officer to Novarius and back again at the rest of the troopers. When he realized the officer was unable to speak, he turned to face Novarius.

“Novarius, this is Lieutenant Germain, commanding officer of Third Platoon, One Seventy Seventh White Shields”, Abe paused to allow the Lieutenant to speak, but Germain simply stared open mouthed at the Ultramarine who stood before him.

“These are some of my squad. Michael, my sergeant, Gregoria and Damon.”

“We’re all that’s left of your squad,” interjected Gregoia, causing Abe to pause for a moment before continuing.

“I don’t know the rest of you, other than that you’re from second and fourth squads”, Abe turned back to Novarius. “What do you think?”

Novarius was silent for a moment. He contemplated the cowed Lieutenant and the men who had clustered behind him as they had the stones of the draw. Altogether there were not quite thirty troopers, and all of them were on the verge of breaking entirely. Morale was what was at stake and the Lieutenant and the sergeant were both unequipped to pull their platoon together. Novarius glanced at Abelard who was watching the assemble men, a frown on his face. Novarius felt the white shield had changed after his reckless charge down the hill. Even now, rather than feeling flush from his success and crowing about it to his fellow troopers as was usual for the average guardsman, Abelard was more concerned with the subdued air that surrounded his compatriots. That and it was to Novarius that Abelard was looking for a solution.

“You have served the Emperor well today. You alone have blunted the Eldar offensive and I salute you. For the Emperor!” Novarius thrust his bolter into the air above him and repeated the cry again and again. After his second cheer, Abelard joined him and they continued until the remaining men of the One Seventy Seventh joined in.

As the troops chanted for the Emperor’s victory, Abe was the first to lower his voice from their cheering. From rock knuckle he had charged down into the battle was Veghard, his short legs pumping him along as fast as he could go. Abe started to move towards the squat warrior and his motion caught Novarius’s eye. Novarius looked up at Veghard as he ran down the hill and was disquieted by the wide eyed look on his face. Novarius moved up to intercept Veghard and Abe fell in a step behind. The troopers continued the chant and began others as they regained their fighting spirit, their voices covered Veghard’s rushed warning as he came to a halt.

“Ambush! An ambush!” Veghard gasped as he came up to his two compatriots. “On the ridge! Eldar rangers! We need to get the men back into cover!”

.

Last edited by Treesnifer; 11-30-15 at 01:24 AM. Reason: word choice change
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post #37 of 53 (permalink) Old 11-30-15, 04:48 AM
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I actually felt a little sad to see Exarch Vondel and his squad get obliterated like that, but I'm an elder fan boy, so take that for what you will. I like the chain of events that are being set into place. I don't see where every storyline is going yet, but I'm sure we'll get to that bridge when you're ready. This is proving to be a really great story, can't wait to see how this ambush plays out!

“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


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Default Chapter the Second, part 5 of 5

The rushed squat’s warning did not fall on indifferent ears and while Abe looked shocked from Veghard to looking around the crest of the hill surrounding them, Novarius turned to the rabble of Imperial troopers.

“Ah-ten-hutt!” Novarius called out in the trooper’s jargon. Sharply, the milling troopers jumped to attention, awaiting his next order. Scanning the faces, Novarius was frustrated that fear was still too prevalent. Whatever danger was out there, ranger or otherwise, being trapped in a killing field was not what Novarius needed with what was looking like the dregs of the One Seventy Seventh. Rather than the strongest surviving, this white shield unit was survived by the weakest and most craven. It was a theme that often played out in the white shield units, more often than was desired.

Whatever order Novarius was planning to give was too late. Near the rear of the unit, a trooper fell as the crack of a sniper’s rifle echoed through the bowl. In response, Veghard’s heavy bolter began its own staccato report, drowning out other shots. The squat’s uncanny riposte to the initial shot seemed to have fouled the other snipers’ fire as the additional shots went wide, even as the troopers began diving to the ground. Two shots did ricochet off Novarius’s armor, striking burnt pauldrons, but failed to penetrate the heavy plates. Scanning the top of the ridge, Novarius could now see the rangers as their cloaks failed in the frantic movements caused by Veghard’s suppressive fire.

Novarius turned back to the troopers. The lieutenant was lying flat on the ground, trying to make the smallest target possible, while his troops were diligently following his example. Abe alone, once the shock of the initial round of shots was fired, knelt down and was attempting to follow Veghard’s lead, firing blindly up the ridge.

“The scope, Abe!” It was all Novarius could spare the boy, who nodded and pressed his eye to the attachment of Veghard’s modified lasgun. Novarius reached to his utility belt and pulled two blind grenades. The bowl gave all advantage to the rangers, even if they were outnumbered by the Imperial forces. He knew he needed more time to organize what was left of the One Seventy Seventh and how to get it. With deft pulls, Novarius activated the two grenades, and tossed them out between the ambushers and the troopers. It would take seconds for the smoke to rise and provide cover for the troopers and Novarius hoped it would be quick and enough cover to protect the men around him.

The sergeant watched Novarius’s action and turned to the men nearest him. “Blind grenades! Quick, men! Let’s lay down some cover for us!”

Atop the ridge, the rangers had no hesitation as they turned their attention to Veghard. The first shots missed the squat, who seemed quite deft under the weight and bulk of the heavy bolter, even as he fired back at the Eldar. The rangers were quick to adjust their aim, and as Novarius’s blind grenades began to cloak the bowl, two rounds scored hits on the squat. With a guttural cry of pain, Veghard dropped his heavy bolter and fell to the ground. Abe cried out in shock before calling the attention of Novarius.

“Veghard! Veghard! Novarius, Veghard’s been hit!”

Abelard, without thought to his own safety, jumped up from his position and ran to the fallen squat. His back to the Eldar, Abelard grabbed Veghard and struggled to turn him over. Panting from the effort and strain, Abelard checked the wounds. One had gone though the meaty part of Veghard’s thigh, while the other had gone high in the arm. Abelard pulled out two bandages from the first aid kit set in the back of Veghard’s utility belt. His fingers fumbled in their haste to pull the bandages out of their pouches. The first he placed over the thigh wound, it was bleeding the heaviest. Pressing the dressing over the wound, Abe leaned his weight onto the wound. There was the entry as well as the exit wound, and he could not figure out how he would be able to care for both, let alone the arm wound. He could not even tell where the exit wound on the arm was.

The dressing he pressed onto the wound soaked through in moments, and Abe tore the next dressing open. His mind raced as he tried to think what to do and chanted, unaware of himself, the simple training he was given when he was pressed into the White Shield recruitment program.

“Stop the bleeding. Start the breathing. Treat the wound. Check for shock.”

Over and over he repeated himself as he struggled with the heavy squat. Struggling against the weight of his friend, Abe looked up to see lying in the dirt scant feet away from his lay two of his squad mates; Damon and Gregoria. Their eyes were wide as they watched him struggle with the bleeding squat. Anger flared in Abe, anger that the two of them would rather lie in the dirt rather than help another and would even do nothing but watch as someone else struggled while exposed to enemy fire.

“Get over here and help me!” Abelard ordered the two. “Both of you! Now!”

The two troopers were still too scared to move when Novarius arrived. The marine took one look at Abe’s struggle to stem the bleeding of Veghard’s leg wound and with one arm rolled the squat so that Abe could reach both side of the wound. He then looked at the two troopers, freezing their blood with a glare. Both quailed as Novarius raised his bolt gun at the two of them.

“You will move when Abelard commands you to, or I will dispense the Emperor’s Justice.”

The two troopers nodded their acquiescence and scrambled to Abelard’s side. From around the four of them, several more blind grenades popped and spewed forth more white smoke, billowing out from around the bulk of the One Seventy Seventh. Novarius grumbled to himself, the sound coming out more as a growl, the troopers had not tossed the grenades far enough and would find themselves more blinded by the smoke than the rangers above them. Looking away from the fallen squat, his eyes fell upon the heavy bolter. Veghard had somehow managed to drag himself away from the weapon after he had been hit and now the bolter lay beyond the cover of smoke. Realizing they would need the firepower of the heavy weapon and trusting to the strength of his armor, Novarius stood and moved quickly over to the abandoned weapon.

Shots rang out as Novarius emerged from under the smoke’s cover, though he was not hit. As quick as he could, Novarius grabbed the heavy bolter and tossed the weapon up onto his shoulder, fitting himself into the harness. Unexpectedly the heavy bolter pulled him almost over, and only his reflexive putting out of his leg stopped him from falling onto his back, even then he was still forced to take two steps to stop his surprising momentum. Just as his backward momentum was being checked, the heavy bolter jerked Novarius forward, almost with a will of its own. Novarius fought with the sudden reversal of direction when, without warning he was sidestepping to try and keep the heavy bolter settled on his shoulder. He could not seem to get himself into the saddle of the bolter and it was only by virtue of the drunken dance that he was being forced into that kept the ranger’s from landing any hits upon him.

Staggering about, almost in a panic at his inability to stabilize the heavy bolter, Novarius realized the bolter was not adding the appropriate load to the capacity of his armor. His loss of control was more of his over compensation for the expected weight, though the sudden shifts of the bolter had also confused him. The odd dance had brought Novarius back under the cover of the blind grenades, and as realization dawned upon him, Novarius relaxed as he sank into his knees while he attempted to allow himself to simply hold the heavy bolter and not correct, or overcorrect, the motion of the squat’s weapon. As Novarius allowed his momentum to sink into his legs, the bolter settled onto his shoulder and the saddle closed itself over his shoulder, gripping the armor tightly. Hesitantly, Novarius stood upright. The bolter, which should have been a drag against his motion, rode smoothly without hindrance and Novarius marveled at how light the weapon was.

Another modification by the squat, like what he had done to his lasgun, only this modification answered for the diminutive, though heavy, man’s quickness even under what should have been a crushing burden. Novarius stowed his bolt gun and reached out to a curious handle he had seen Veghard grip occasionally while firing. He had originally though the handle was to stabilize the weapon, but he knew now Veghard would have not needed any such device. Several buttons lay within an easy thumbs reach, and Novarius tentatively pressed the most prominent of them. Through the sight, a laser marker appeared and Novarius was disappointed for the mundane targeting aid, but he turned the muzzle of the weapon towards the top of the unseen ridge and fired a quick burst to test the recoil for the oddly weighted bolter. Braced for what he expected to be even more recoil, Novarius was not ready for the odd vibration that shook the heavy bolter. He cut the burst short, afraid that perhaps the weapon was unstable as Veghard had warned Abelard of in the use of the lasgun. He looked through the smoke to the fallen squat, disappointed that he had fallen unconscious. Novarius needed to know just what to expect from the modified weapon. Its power would be needed to clear a path for the troopers and Novarius and he wanted to know the new properties the squat had built into one of the most standard of heavy weapons.

Turning his attention away from the bolter, Novarius took stock of the state of cover they had from the blind grenades. Moving deeper into the smoke, he came back to Abelard and his two squad members. Together they had managed to stem the bleeding wounds the squat had. Stabilized for the moment, Abelard turned his attention to Novarius.

“Do we retreat?” He asked hesitantly. Since the run and the reckless charge into the Eldar, Novarius’s tenor towards him had changed and the marine’s command to Damon and Gregoria to follow Abelard carried more significance than Abe though Novarius was aware of. While Novarius had wrestled with Veghard’s heavy bolter, Michael had come to Abelard’s aid in treating Veghard and once the wounds had been treated, requested Abe’s next order. Even with the change in his attitude, Abe was very leery of addressing the marine directly, except none of the troopers of the One Seventy Seventh would even look directly at the marine.

“Marines do not retreat”, Novarius’s voice turned cold and Abelard felt its bite and shivered. Novarius though did not seem to take true offence at Abelard’s question. His voice seemed distant, as he contemplated a thought. “We will advance in a different direction.”

Novarius patted the heavy bolter. “This will give us the firepower we need to break out of here. Abe, detail a rear guard. We will circle around to the finger we came up. The rear guard needs to keep the smoke up to make the rangers feel that we are too frightened to move and are staying pinned here. Bring Veghard, with the Emperor’s Grace he will come around soon.”

Abelard nodded to Novarius and turned to the lieutenant. “Sir? What is your”, Abe paused as he searched for the right word. “Suggestion?” But the lieutenant shook his head and Abe looked to Sergeant Michael.

“Yes sir. Second Squad will form the rear guard”, the Sergeant answered Abe who nodded.

“I’ll have Gregoria and Damon make a sling for Veghard and carry him. The lieutenant and I will take Fourth Squad with Novarius. Keep an eye on Second Squad, won’t you Sergeant?” Abelard was uncomfortable telling the sergeant what to do, but with Novarius standing over his shoulder, he was afraid that if he did not direct his fellow troopers, Novarius would kill him for cowardice and all the rest of the white shields as well.

Satisfied with the arrangements, Novarius turned and started to move back down the draw towards where he, Abe, and Veghard had come from before they had found the One Seventy Seventh. Behind him, the troopers divided themselves according to Abe and the Sergeant’s orders. More pops of smoke, followed by a few tentative shots around the area of the grenades, as the Fourth Squad attempted to keep the attention of the rangers. The paltry remainder of the Third Squad made a makeshift stretcher for the squat while Fourth Squad trotted to catch up with the departing Novarius.

.
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post #39 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-05-15, 10:02 PM
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Another exciting update, I'm surprised that Veghard is down, thought it would take more than rangers to bring that guy down . But he is only mortal or so I think. Interesting combat scenario, they cleaned up the Dragons and now the Rangers pressing down on them, reminds me that I do not use snipers in my stories enough. They can be very potent weapons, given the situation. As you show very skillfully.

“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 #40 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-06-15, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Myen.

So ends Chapter Two. The two Interludes are next. Like the last two, these are new writings and so there will be a delay. Though not a month's worth like last time. So be prepared for some insight on the difficulties the Farseer has to handle, while other issues unfold on the Ark.


Addendum; Well, that was longer than I had intended. Whoops!

The Book of Grudges will know their name.

The Worlds of J.D. Barbera

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