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post #31 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-06-16, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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The Altars of Solitude. The chamber of sacred communion of Tyrioc’s Inner Circle. Here, monuments of heroes long vanquished contemplated in their eternal silence. Four great daises dominated the edges of the spherical chamber, each built beneath the shadow of a fallen hero of the Thousand Sons. Onyx silhouettes slithered across blood encrusted ceramite and dark iron floors festooned with a macabre plethora of chained sacrifices. A chorus of a hundred consumed souls moaned in faint agony, their source a nexus of tainted energy pulsating from the heart of the chamber.

Tyrioc’s voice drowned out the dead as if a waterfall thundering over the rustling of leaves.

“What glory could there possibly be on those millennia-old battlefields?” He said. “If the Thousand Sons spilt the blood of the alien on Tarmathon IV, what would the Sons of Magnus stand to gain?”

Cloaked in the darkness on the far side of the Altars of Solitude, Celeres the First Paladin inclined his head in caution. The humanoid, one-eyed serpent known as Magnus gazed down on him with proud eyes of stone. The First Paladin’s armor was polished cobalt, once golden trim replaced by an overgrowth of bone. Where most sorcerers maintained a simple tabard of cloth or scribbled parchment, one of pure emerald Fire-Drake scales hung proudly from his waist. His heavy helm possessed no signs of corruption, but a lone, crimson plume of hair and a single slot visor that lent him an appearance of a cyclops.

Celeres’ voice was whisper-thin and razor-sharp. Tyrioc despised the way it wormed into his skull.

“The dusty bones of a forgotten civilization? The maggot-infested ruins of Nurgle? Neither of these benefit the Thousand Sons in the slightest.”

“Do not cast your die with such certainty, noble lords.” Acrisius of the Sundered Key dismissed them with a wave of his great staff. Of all the inner circle, Acrisius’ attire was most befitting of a Thousand Sons Sorcerer. But his armor was a striking jade accent, visor-slits a burning gold, and a shattered key was emblazoned on both of his pauldrons. “The Changer of Ways decides our fates and what wars we are destined to fight. As well as their purpose. Not either of you.”

“Long have I valued your council, Acrisius.” Tyrioc uttered. “You have proven yourself ever the philosopher, strategist, and tactician. And yet your loyalty to our patron has diminished your judgement in recent conflicts! Where was our magnificent Changer of Ways when Tyrannus burned no longer and the Thousand Sons perished by the thousands? Where was our Infinite Schemer when Mirathir escaped our retribution and left us to bare our humiliation alone? I warn you now, Acrisius, because you are wise enough to see reason. Ours is a fickle master… and cares for little more than his own glorification. The Thousand Sons must see to their own if they are to survive.”

Acrisius rolled his shoulders in a shrug. “What glory can there possibly for pawns in the eternal scheme that cannot acknowledge their own worth in that master plan?”

“Acrisius is right in that regard.” Atlas of the Flame’s Ascendant replied. The Son of Magnus was something akin to the imperial chaplains that guided and administered to those who desired knowledge of the faith. His armor was the resplendent sapphire of his legion, but his robes were bright and fiery. “The sins of the primarch have aligned that path in the stars for us untold millennia ago. Believe what you will, Brother Tyrioc, but we are nothing more than chess pieces being moved into place by demonic overlords. The sooner that the… dissidents within our ranks come to terms with this, the quicker our plans can come to fruition and our ascendancy into daemon-hood made closer to reality.


“Frankly, you should not encourage these miscreants as is your wont! Every demagogue sprouting lies about the Changer of Ways brings us further away from our primogenitor.”

Celeres shook his plumed helm. “You place too much stock in our demonic allies, enthralled-priests. It is only because of the Rubric that we are not utterly destroyed by them already!”

“Enough!” Tyrioc bristled. “Descended from Prospero are us all. Brothers, let our minds not drift from the task at hand! The Thousand Sons are being called upon to honor an alliance. Shall we answer?”

“Aye!” Acrisius cried.

“Aye!” Atlas seconded.

“No.” Celeres answered.

“Brothers,” Tyrioc planted a firm foot forward onto his dais and raised a naked fist into the air. “We cannot afford to remain divided. Defeat has already cost us too much, if we cannot unite than soon the damages done will be beyond reprieve.”

Atlas cleared his throat. “You have not cast your vote, my lord.”

Tyrioc shrugged. “I believe every soul here knows what I am in favor of.”

Acrisicius appealed. “You say that no glory is to be had on Tarmathon IV, but I disagree! Where you see nothing of worth, I see a fortress world, already arisen from the ashes like a phoenix. Against the odds, it has stood the test of time against the Imperium of Mankind and weathered vicious wars. If you, Tyrioc, son of Magnus, cannot see the worth in such a strategic asset in your conquest of the Marathon Sector. If you believe the cost of obtaining it is too great, then perhaps you overestimate the power of your supposed ally and your enemies.”

“Or perhaps I am not a reckless fool.” Tyrioc retorted. “Mirathir has allies with power beyond your imagining. And before you dare say that the Chaos Gods shall intervene, a much wiser man would be more cautious.”

“Then you intend to do what?” Atlas interrogated. “Conquer the Marathon Sector without any daemonic allies? You should go to Tarmathon – go to Tarmathon, either aid Mirathir or slay her, whichever path earns us favor with the Changer again.”

Yes, therein lies the way. Yet one path would hold salvation and the other could destroy my entire Grand Company. Wherein lies the way?

“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 #32 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-09-16, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Finally, some more action, which I think you guys were waiting for!


Chapter Five

“Placing charges!” Tel’kyse advanced through the claustrophobic corridor of scorched and molten steel. Staccato burst of las-fire erupted from hidden doors concealed in the shadows. They tried to take to her down, but her pulse blaster unleashed a coiled whine of unsuppressed energy that dispersed into a scathing blast. A gue’la naked from the waist up, his chest carved with ritualistic tattoos hurtled backward onto the floor. His stomach had been reduced to a smoldering mess. “Keep covering me, M’yen!”

M’yen’s reflexes took control of his mind long before his instincts had any say. The pistol in his hand bucked violently as he pulled the trigger three times. He was rewarded with a scream of pain from another human that had dropped his weapon in his haste to tend to the wound on his arm. He shifted his aim on a split-second’s notice as his original target seeped back through doorway he was covering and unleashed a salvo on another unsuspecting gue’la.

“Eldi!” M’yen shouted over the cacophony and chaos. He never took his eyes off of Tel’kyse, who still advanced on the large metallic slab that barred the Tau Forces further entry into the bunker complex. “How is the other hall looking?”


He spared a glance over his shoulder in time to see Or’es sent into a half-spin by a grazing las-round. Or’es fell to his knees, exposed in the middle of the four-way intersection that Squad Shadow Hunter was fighting for. Eldi was there moments later and pulled him back to his feet.


Or’es waved Eldi off. “I’m alright. My armor took the brunt of it.”


Eldi wheeled around on Or’es. “Do not concern yourself with us, M’yen! Cover Tel’kyse!”


“Heavy weapon emplacement!” Ro’va called from further south. “Heavy bolter! Take cover!”


The recycled air was filled with the death rattle of a primitive machine gun. Squad Shadow Hunter threw themselves onto the floor as mass reactive shells flew overhead and detonated along the walls of the bunker. The only thought that ran through M’yen’s mind was Tel’kyse. It was his task to cover her. It was his mission to see her through.


Re’shi bellowed over the noise of detonating fragmentation shells. “Suppressing fire! I want that fortification destroyed!”


“Shas’ui!” M’yen shook the debris particles out of his helm lenses. “I’m going to support Tel’kyse!”


M’yen waited for the brief pause in the heavy bolter’s endless rain of death and picked himself up. He ran down the west hall and over the broken bodies left by him and Tel’kyse mere moments before. The metallic door was still in place and showed no signs of being breached. Worse, Tel’kyse was nowhere to be seen.


“For the new dawn!” The gue’la that M’yen had wounded minutes ago rounded through the nearest door on his left flank.


Perhaps if M’yen had not wounded him in his arm, the primitive blaster in the gue’la’s arms would have taken his head clean off on the first shot. But as fate decreed, the shot went wide, and merely jerked M’yen’s head into an awkward angle. M’yen scrambled backward, even as his assailant pressed his advantage and cracked the butt of his blaster against his helm.


The gue’la pumped the weapon for another shot as M’yen reeled.


Once more, training took over instincts. M’yen moved with the momentum of the blow. One hand brought his pulse pistol to bear while the other moved to the bonding knife on his back. The pistol whined and fired a wild salvo that kept the gue’la flat-footed and off-balance. One shot managed to find purchase in the human’s shoulder blade.


The primitive blaster fired again, but this time by accident or desperation. M’yen whirled around the blast just as it erupted from the barrel. The bonding knife slid free from its sheathe and he plunged it into the gue’la’s chest, right where its heart should be. Crimson blood sputtered from the gue’la’s lips as he moaned in agony and sagged onto his knees. M’yen kicked him onto the floor and sheathed his knife.

M’yen swept into the room that the gue’la had been hiding in.

The pulse pistol in his grip fired in split-second intervals. Each radiant emerald blast punctured the chest of a wounded gue’la lying in ambush amongst their own barracks. The room looked as if a storm had hit it just moments before. Weapons and ammunition crates lay scattered about sheets, blankets, and all matter of articles of clothing. The furniture had been upturned to make fortifications. A futile strategy in hindsight.


M’yen stood amongst the debris for a moment longer when he heard something stir on the far side of the room. He quickly raised his pulse pistol and fell into cover behind an upturned bunk bed. A subtle noise disturbed the quiet. An almost inaudible click. M’yen sprinted hard toward the cover of the swaying door as the fragmentation grenade bounced into the cover he had been moments before.


The detonation was powerful enough that the doorway slammed into M’yen with crushing force, but his armor absorbed much of the impact. He unconsciously shut his eyes against the storm of shrapnel that lashed against the door. As soon as the blast lulled, however, he pushed the obstacle aside and was back on his feet.


Rapid traces of yellowish las-fire rippled through the barracks toward him. M’yen skidded under the first bolts and squeezed off several rounds at the heavily armored gue’la that darted out of cover. It was not a heavily modified cyborg or super warrior, this gue’la’s face was hidden behind a visor that greeted M’yen with a cold, lifeless stare.


M’yen slid behind another bunkbed and holstered his pistol. He drew his pulse blaster and fired a blind round at the blur of movement that edged ever closer to him. The shot connected. There was a grunt. A soft sigh of the faintest registered pain. Then the bunkbed that M’yen hid behind toppled over him.


The weight of the bed was crushing, pinned him to the ground. But somehow, M’yen managed to shrug it off of his shoulders. He felt several las-rounds pierce through his armor, one lanced through his right arm and another two into his legs. M’yen whirled around, realized that he was on the floor, but fired his blaster anyway. The spread discharge of the blaster took the gue’la squarely in the gut and rent a gaping wound in his stomach.


That was it. M’yen had him.


Or so he thought. The armored gue’la dropped his weapon and flung his arms out toward M’yen. M’yen grappled with him for long moments, but with the wound in his arm, he was at a disadvantage against… whatever this thing was. The gue’la kneed M’yen savagely in the throat, took his helm in one hand and slammed the back of his head onto the floor. The world began to blur into shadowy tendrils, but M’yen fought to clear them.


M’yen grabbed the gue’la by his offending arm and twisted it until it snapped, but even that could not break the creature’s vice grip.


“M’yen, duck!”


M’yen suddenly collapsed onto the ground, just as a spread trail of superheated energy disintegrated the armored gue’la’s head. And with it, all former function.


“M’yen!” Tel’kyse rushed through the door, covered in red blood and gore, and slid down to M’yen’s side. “Hold still. I’ll call for a medic.”


M’yen stifled a groan. “Tel’kyse. I’m fine. I’m just a little banged up. Did you set the charges?


Tel’kyse nodded. “They are about to detonate any minute now. Where were you?”


M’yen gasped an exasperated laugh. “I was thinking the same thing.”


Tel’kyse chuckled. “You should have a medical drone look you over, at least. Re’shi’s calling for reinforcements before we head any deeper into the bunker anyway. It’ll be on the way.”


“Fine.” M’yen relented. “Is the intersection secure?”


“The gue’la turned tail and fled after we destroyed their heavy weapon emplacement. Come on, let’s get you back to the others.”

“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 #33 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-09-16, 10:15 PM
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Awesome story, mate!

I really had to go back quite a few pages to catch up! It was totally worth it!

Keep up the good work!

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post #34 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-10-16, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Marduk, it's always encouraging to hear such feedback . Glad you're enjoying it so far. I'll try to have more up soon.

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“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 #35 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-10-16, 01:44 AM
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Too be honest, I was attempting to look for something within the story to give feedback on, however there are very little things that I can find, most of which have already been addressed!

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post #36 of 48 (permalink) Old 04-11-16, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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J’karra sprinted as quickly as her heavy armor would allow, through corridors of scorched metal and bullet-ridden carcasses. On her flanks, Elan and Doran advanced into the teeth of the enemy. The staccato burst of their cannons answered any muddled threat that rounded the corners to assault them. Anything that they could not handle, J’karra obliterated with a single salvo of her fusion blaster.


How many enemies they slew did not seem to matter to her foes, however. They seemed almost infinite in this underground complex.


A flurry of las-rounds slammed through J’karra’s stealth field and fizzled into nothing against her armor. She swept her fusion blaster out in front of her and dispatched another gue’la before he could slink back into cover.


J’karra huffed. “How far is Patient Hunter lagging behind?”


Doran wheeled around and ran backwards for several moments. “Several dozen paces behind, but that is expected, Shas’ui. They don’t have jetpacks.”


Elan activated his jetpack and soared a dozen feet across the corridor. He crashed through a barricade of sandbags and into the small clutch of gue’la beyond it. Click-click-click. Click-click-click.


“Something is not right about this.” J’karra activated her own thrusters and juked away from the rattling payload of a heavy bolter. She reappeared moments later as the weapon tapered off. The fortification vanished in a white-hot explosion of flames and acrid smoke. “This is almost too easy.”


Doran said. “We caught them with their guard down. They cannot organize so long as we continue pouring pulse fire down their throats.”


“Shas’ui,” Elan pointed further ahead and rejoined the squad. “The corridor is ending ahead. It could be a trap.”


J’karra grunted in confirmation. “Cold Inception, halt! We wait for Patient Hunter before advancing any further. Secure these doors. I don’t want any more surprises.”


The distant sound of brief struggles cut through the lull in battle. Elan and Doran divided each side of the hall and ended every sporadic combat they came across with their lightning reflexes. Soon a tense silence descended, disturbed only by the sluggish footfalls of Patient Hunter’s approach. J’karra wheeled around on Shas’ui V’dras and gave a begrudging nod of respect.


“V’dras.” J’karra rolled the name off her tongue. She ignored the Shas’ui’s curt salute and pointed a stern finger toward her chest. “If Patient Hunter cannot keep up, then call for evac. It remains a mystery why High Command would select you and your squad for such a vital mission when you are obviously unsuited for the trial ahead.”


V’dras puffed out her chest, indignant. “My shas’la are fighting as hard as yours, J’karra-“


“Like Mont’au they are!” J’karra thundered, her fusion blaster arm animated purposefully to make V’dras uncomfortable. “Cold Inception just cleared this entire corridor alone! Cold Inception breached the entrance into this bunker – discovered this bunker, alone! I have already lost one squad mate, while Patient Hunter drags their feet behind us! Ethereal’s blood, we’re supposed to be your support, not the other way around!”


J’karra physically felt a sting of guilt. The members of Patient Hunter were covered in soot and gore. Some of them favored bullet wounds in their limbs, audibly panted beneath their helmets. Yet they had the humility to look ashamed and dejected.


V’dras planted one foot closer to J’karra so that she could look the Shas’ui of Cold Inception directly in the eye.


V’dras muttered. “Patient Hunter will take point.”


J’karra nodded. She moved aside so that Patient Hunter could file past her hulking suit. “Please, do.”


“Shas’ui.” Elan and Doran reappeared some minutes later and stared at the shrinking backs of Patient Hunter. “Area secured.”


“I heard what you said to them.” Doran quipped. “You should not punish them so harshly. They are not equipped to keep up with our equipment without mechanized support. They are doing their best.”


“Their best leaves much to be desired and could get us all killed.” J’karra made a mental note not to gnash her teeth, even though Doran would not see it. “You were shas’la once, weren’t you, Doran? You should understand the sacrifices that must be made in the name of the Greater Good.”


“Come on.” Elan indicated that they keep moving. “Patient Hunter should not be fighting alone. It would be unbecoming to talk of duty and neglect our own in the process.”


“Agreed.” J’karra activated her thrusters and advanced to the end of the corridor in a blur of speed.


The room beyond the corridor was a vast multi-leveled chamber of three floors. J’karra entered from the west-wing on the second level, into a spacious walled walkway that ringed the chamber’s walls. She immediately noticed the dozens of ceramite columns that sprouted from the first floor and connected all three levels together. Only the lowest level possessed a floor, one crafted from dirty dark iron and ceramite.


Squad Patient Hunter was spread thin across the walled walkway and exchanged fire with a handful of gue’la squads entrenched on the lowest floor. The Tau held the high ground and rained death on their opponents. Pulse pistols punctured through helmets and chest plates as cover mattered little from such an advantageous angle. Pulse blasters swept across the gue’la entrenchments and littered them with shredded carcasses.


“That’s it!” V’dras shouted over the cacophony of death. “Give them nothing but death!”


J’karra craned her head toward a doorway on the opposite side of the walkway that the Tau forces occupied. She shouted a warning just as the door was kicked aside and more gue’la streamed through.


“Contacts!” J’karra signaled for Cold Inception to fall into cover. The fusion blaster in her grip turned hot with another discharge. Gue’la screamed, pinned inside the doorway, and vaporized in a brilliant flash of light.


And more streamed out over the smoldering remains.


Elan double-tapped his burst cannon. “More gue’la on the level above us!”


Las-fire rippled from almost every direction, nearly every angle and threatened to overwhelm them. J’karra watched a member of Patient Hunter take a las-round through the helm lense, slump over the walkway wall, and plummet to a second death. A heavy bolter opened fire and stitched a trail of mass reactive shells across the torso of another Fire Warrior, detonating him into a bloody mess.


“Elan, Doran!” J’karra sprinted for the edge of the walkway. “Seize the high ground!”


J’karra planted one foot firmly on the low wall of the walkway and threw herself over into long drop towards the marble floor. She activated her jetpack and her thrusters kicked in, made her soar through the storm of fire. Her first kill was a gue’la that did not see her landing trajectory. His bones audibly crunched beneath the feet of her hulking suit as she crashed into him.


Burst cannon fire stitched death into the ranks of the gue’la. Several of the humans died before they realized that they had been attacked. But J’karra knew that her team had passed way beyond the optimal range of engagement and that the stealth fields would be fully visible eventually. As soon as the thought occurred to her, las-fire was unleashed in a withering hail in her direction.


With the walkway being so narrow, she had limited options to avoid their fire. She activated her jetpack and soared into the air once again. Her fusion blaster rent a great hole in the walkway were a clutch of gue’la had stood moments before. As she landed, she saw something streak out across the air and strike Doran in mid jump. The explosion scythed through the inner-workings of his jetpack. J’karra blinked and he vanished in a storm of debris and gore.


J’karra followed the smoky trail on the air toward its source and mobilized to engage it.

“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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The Ath’lakar River coursed through the primeval forest like a massive, coiled serpent made of crystal jade waters. The rushing, unstable river had crushed through mountains that had risen to block her path and chiseled caverns into deep into the depths of the underworld. The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man looked through the minuscule firing slit of the chimera and beyond the Bridge of the Sixth Behemoth into the churning waters.


The great feat of architecture had been built centuries ago, and once belonged to the accursed eldar when they still purged this planet of his kind. The violet wraithbone arose from the green waters, crafted to resemble the heads of six writhing serpents cutting across the river. Corruption from the immaterium had given them subtle changes. Dark admantanium scales grew from the ancient wraithbone, bleeding strange crimson liquid, and the support beams of the bridge had become slightly writhing tongues.


The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man was onboard a convoy headed into the abyssal bleakness of the Lost Woods. With a seventh sense beyond any mortal’s comprehension, he reached out beyond the inner limits of his mind and scanned his surroundings. A daemon could tell how large a convoy was not through the eyes of a physical vessel, but by the silence of the seventh sense. Daemonic entities were talkative beings and constantly chittered into the ether. And this ferocious bombardment of chitterling noise was maddening… and somehow intoxicating.


Wherever the voices were present, bloodshed was soon promised.


The Bridge of the Sixth Behemoth began to shrink into the horizon and the nearby cropping of twisted Black-Bark Birches sprung up on the other side of the Ath’lakar like an impassable labyrinth. Yet the convoy of armored vehicles pressed forward onto the overgrown and muddy trail that snaked further into the shade. A light rain pattered down, made a soothing noise through the foliage and against the hull.


Several uneventful minutes passed before the convoy came to a screeching halt. The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man heard the drivers press their feet against gas-pedal repeatedly, futilely goading their mechanical beast onward. The voice-that-commands whispered something that echoed across the immaterium, but clearly resonated with the mortals as well. In moments, ramparts from the chimera transports collapsed across the convoy into the muddy earth.

The voice-that-commands uttered with absolute authority. “All platoons, we continue to move on foot.”


The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man knew the drill or so the mortals called it. He had been fighting in the trenches of mortal worlds for decades, without a name, enslaved in another’s body. He was more soldier than daemon now, at least in this sad existence of a life. But even in this existence, the hierarchy still existed. The endless cycle of gaining power through the culling and elimination of your enemies and gaining glory. Even if it were all in the name of another master.


The others began to unbuckle harnesses that kept them strapped into their seats. He followed suit, snatched his Hell-gun and ammunition from the weapons locker. They marched down the rampart in single file, into a sea of verdant grass that came up to the waist. The light shower turned into a deluge. Thick droplets burst against his carapace armor in rapid succession, but he did not mind. It took his mind off of the voices.


The voice-that-commands began to give orders. “Platoons, fan out into a thin line. Proceed with caution. Be wary of ambushes, we do not know what is beyond this point. Move three clicks further northeast.”


There was no confirmation. Only the sound of boots slogging through mud and foliage to comply with the command.

The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man slinked into a small grove of teal Ferns that sat at the base of several trees. The others were spread thin across the wilderness, their footfalls and barely registered movements silent beneath the roaring of the rainstorm. Some scouted ahead from high hills, hidden beneath the giant, arched roots of massive Birches. Others were hidden in the nooks and crags of the forest.


The first shot echoed across the Lost Woods as if the wailing of a damned soul. The discharged round was a heavy, single shot that audibly singed the air that it lanced through. There was no despairing cry, but merely the sound of crashing armor and a lifeless corpse.


He sprinted forward in a half-crouch as several more sniper rounds were fired around him. One of the others slid down the high hill he occupied moments before, the remains of his skull smeared across the hillside. He fell into cover behind a twisted Birch, where one of the others lay slumped against the trunk.


The remaining others unleashed a torrent of hell-fire into the increasing fog. Nearby foliage was reduced to nothing more than smoldering ruin under the volume of fire. Deep in the fog, the creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man noticed disc-shaped objects hovering in the canopy, long armaments attached beneath their plating. They fired only on occasion, but when they did, one of the others fell in battle.

He fired a withering hail of hell-fire into the nearest drone and made it blossom in a fiery explosion. A bullet of white-hot, sapphire energy whizzed past his head and embedded itself through the chest of one of the others climbing through the Fern grove. The other climbed back to his feet, in spite of the gaping hole in his chest and fell into cover beside the creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man.

Suddenly, the Lost Woods came alive with Pulse and Hell-fire. The creature-that-peered-through-eyes-of-man and the other beside him combined rapid burst of their hell-guns into a nearby thicket. The small clutch of alien scouts that had hidden there became saturated with hell-fire until they perished.


Four more groups of scouts concealed amongst the underbrush broke cover after that slaughter. They masterfully weaved through the storm of fire that the Forlorn’s Beginning unleashed. Ochre armored figures revealed themselves from high ground positions and unleashed death from afar.


A pulse round slammed into his shoulder guard. He winced, barely able to register the pain of his flesh being burned inside out. He swept his Hell-gun out in front of him and fired a quick burst into a Fire Warrior lining another shot on him from a long ridge. The alien tumbled backward, bleeding from several wounds, and vanished into the thicket.


The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man slogged through the muddy grass, under an endless hail of pulse fire, and into the open. Traces of sapphire energy burned against his carapace armor, but he paid no heed to the danger of imminent death. Pulse fire shifted from across the Lost Woods onto him, but a resurgence in the ranks of the possessed forced the fusillade to lose focus again.


The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man climbed a muddy hillside and juked into a large grove of thorny brambles. A Fire Warrior no more than several meters away, buried in the branches of a high Redwood bared down on him with unerring fire. He crashed through the brambles without effort, his thumb on the pin of a grenade that flew loose toward a clutch of scouts occupied with fighting on the other side of the grove.


The detonation took them completely by surprise. No survivors remained.


An accurate shot from some kilometers behind him pierced through the forest canopy and found purchase in the Fire Warrior attempting to snipe him from afar. The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-man spared a glance over his shoulder. The remaining soldiers of his platoon sallied out from their cover to join him.


Covered in thorns, the creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-man erupted from the brambles amongst his hidden foe in a whirlwind of death. The Hell-gun in his arms rattled, kicked furiously as it cut down four Fire Warriors who turned to destroy him on the ridge. Rapid pulse fire embedded itself through his carapace armor in a dozen places, but he could not find it in himself to care. He dropped his ranged weapon and drew a long, wicked dagger and charged into the teeth of the enemy.


His seventh sense counted seven remaining enemies.

A blast of forked lightning arced through the Lost Woods and scoured the area of remaining enemies. He barely had time to sink his dagger through the spinal cord of a foe that ducked beneath his coup-de-grace. He looked up from his kill as it was blasted into ashes.


The voice-that-commands echoed from the shadows. “What is your name?”


The creature-that-peered-through-the-eyes-of-man shrugged. “I am no one, my lord.”


“Now that will simply not do. You showed great valor today, it would be discouraging to the others to allow such… exemplary behavior to go unrewarded. From this day forward, your name shall be known as Ne’gath. You would do well to remember it.”

Beneath his helm, Ne’gath smirked. It was a shallow name, lacking the familiarity of the daemonic tongue, but it would do for now. “Your bidding, eternal.”

“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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Tel’kyse’s voice relayed through comm. link. “Charges detonated!”


There was a deafening roar of thunder from further down the corridor. M’yen slumped against a broad ceramite bulkhead and braced himself against the roiling tide of smoke and debris that surged to meet him. The defiled earth beneath his feet quaked in protest, so fierce that M’yen thought a chasm would yawn open and swallow him whole. The four-way intersection that squad Shadow Hunter had fought and bled for grew eerily silent during the fallout. His helm lenses traced and analyzed the myriad of scars etched along the corridors, assessed the threat of a hundred scattered corpses that littered the nooks and crevices of the bunker complex.


M’yen had lost count of how many he had killed. A dozen at least. And Shadow Hunter had bloodied themselves. They were steeped up to their legs in the gore of their foes, but none had fallen. No matter how crafty the enemy proved themselves to be. For a moment, a fierce stab of pride blotted out the throbbing pain of his wounds.


Re’shi’s shrouded outline advanced into the darkness a small distance and issued orders without saying them. His fingers shot away from his chest in precise movements. Tel’kyse and Eldi emerged into the debris-screen moments later, followed by Ro’va and Or’es.


Tel’kyse and Ro’va, take point. Eldi, take the rear! Or’es, can you aid M’yen?


“Wounds still sore?” Or’es said as he took M’yen’s arm and wrapped it around the back of his neck. “Or just weary from blood loss?”


“Both?” M’yen smirked beneath his helm. He stared into the dreary blackness beyond the gaping hole Tel’kyse’s charges had made in the slab door. “Come on, let’s find out what the gue’la are hiding down there.”


M’yen and Or’es followed Ro’va and Tel’kyse’s advancing backs as they swept through a corridor filled with dead. A quick exchange of pulse blaster and las-fire was traded across the blasted slab door and was over before M’yen so much as blinked.


Ro’va declared through the comm. channel. “Hostiles terminated.”


Re’shi’s voice cycled through the comm. channel. “Confirmed. Proceed with caution, Shas’la. This place reeks of human dregs.”


M’yen ignored the uncontrolled hacking of gue’la exposed to the dust and debris of the blast. Thump-thump-thump. The sound of corpses crashing to the ground was uncomfortably loud, so thick was the tension among the silence. He holstered his pulse blaster and drew the pistol hanging from his back as Shadow Hunter approached the blasted slab door. The thickened layers of reinforced ceramite had been peeled away as if so much cindered parchment, until a gaping hole large enough for one Shas’la to fit through remained.

M’yen shook his head. “The hole in the door is too small. It’s perfect ground for another ambush.”

“M’yen is correct.” Eldi surmised. “We’d be forced to funnel through the door one by one, making us prime targets.”

Re’shi sighed. “Astute observations, both of you, but the remaining charges must be preserved. So we make do with the resources at our disposal. Eldi, I want a plasma grenade through that door. Tel’kyse take point and advance. Ro’va, cover her. M’yen and Or’es, you’re in reserves until I say otherwise. The reserves do not directly engage the enemy unless they absolutely must, understand?”

“Understood, Shas’ui.” Or’es and M’yen affirmed in unison.

“Good.” Re’shi nodded. “Shadow Hunter, execute!”


Eldi rushed the door. His pulse blaster fired off rapid discharges through the breach until his back slammed against the intact portion of the door. He holstered his weapon, unpinned a plasma grenade, and tossed it into the hole in the wall just as Tel’kyse began her advance. A brilliant flash of white flames and a backwash of searing heat was rewarded with several feeble and protracted screams.


Tel’kyse charged through the breach. “Cover my right flank, Ro’va, I’m moving in!”


“Understood.” Ro’va followed in her footsteps and disappeared beyond the breach.


The cacophony of battle grew more intense as Eldi slipped through the breached slab door and onto the other side. Frenzied battle cries were roared from the dark abyss, but were just as quickly silenced by the familiar discharge of a pulse blaster. Or’es and M’yen waited with baited breath and looked to Re’shi for the order to be sent in. But the Shas’ui simply held a hand up to halt them, content to listen to the battle’s progress.


The echoes of conflict gradually faded into exasperated panting and pathetically brief struggles.


“Area secure, Shas’ui.” Eldi’s voice emitted moments later.


“Good work.” Re’shi grunted with approval, finally lowered his hand, and gave the all-clear for the reserves to proceed. “Well executed, Shadow Hunter. Lack of training and coordination has dulled the fighting spirit of these gue’la. It is almost a saddening sight. But only a fool would think that such an advantage can be held forever. Be aware that there are always foes stronger than you on the battlefield and that they are searching for us. With the bonds you share with each other and the technology of the Empire, you should have the tools to overcome them.”


Or’es aided M’yen through the blast door after Re’shi. The claustrophobic interiors of the previous corridors immediately evaporated as he half-stumbled onto a raised walkway of sleek obsidian. The pathway was large enough to hold the entirety of Shadow Hunter walking shoulder-to-shoulder. A massive wall of brushed aluminum and silver hemmed in the walkway on the left side. The strange pattern was broken only by several heavy slab doors and gothic symbols etched onto the surface. On the right, unadorned steel spread from beneath the walkway into another, lower level. A host of cogitator monitors and command stations were built across its surface as if a semi-sprawling maze. An intricate network of cabling ran from each station to the heart of the command center, a massive monitor occupied with dozens of images of Tarmathon IV’s territorial space.


“Shas’ui,” Eldi said. “I believe we have reached the objective. These are certainly the controls for the Orbital Cannon.”


Ro’va gave a sharp whistle. “Looks more like a command center.”


“Either way,” Tel’kyse chuckled, her tone gleeful. “We’re blowing it pieces!”


“An understatement, Tel’kyse.” Re’shi quipped. “Today, we avenge those who fell in honorable combat. When these charges detonate, this entire bunker will vanish –“ Re’shi snapped his fingers. “In a rise of smoke. Everyone, plant the remaining charges. Or’es relay our location and mission status to High Command. Eldi, hand your charges to someone else, you’re with me on guard duty.”


Eldi nodded. “I’m with you, Shas’ui.”


M’yen shook his head slowly as Or’es sat him down.


M’yen switched off the squad channel and whispered so that only Or’es could hear him. “Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”


“You have a bad feeling about everything.” Or’es snickered, then became serious. “But I guess you were right this time. You were almost killed today.”


M’yen shrugged. “I feel like the gue’la are letting us have this room.”


Or’es paused in whatever he was doing. He gazed directly into M’yen’s helm lenses. “You do realize that we killed over a hundred gue’la to get in here, right?”


“Bah,” M’yen dismissed his own worries with a wave. “Maybe I’m just being superstitious. Go ahead and relay our status to High Command. They’ll want to know we reached the objective.”

“Shadow Hunter to Unseen Moon, objective has been reached. Securing the area and prepping the objective for decommission. Over.”

“Unseen Moon to Shadow Hunter, objective secured confirmed. Be advised, hostile reinforcements are on route to battle zone. Estimated time of arrival is thirty rai’kor. Decommission objective and evacuate toward landing zone immediately. The cadre fights as one.”

“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 #39 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-12-16, 02:34 AM Thread Starter
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Massive update!


Who is he?

One who is named.

He is called Ne’gath.

Huh. He is no one.

He is bound by mortal flesh, diluted and weakened of soul like us all.

The chitterling voices seeped through the sighing of the forest and cut themselves into Ne’gath’s every thought. He felt the stares of the others bore into him from every direction, hidden amongst the towering Redwoods and Birches. The murky, cloudy emerald waters of the endless bog seeped into his boots and lapped against his fatigues, but he did not mind. The concept of disease was something completely foreign and alien to him. Though he knew it existed and would eventually blight his flesh if he did not tend to it.


The others were scattered about the bog in thin lines. They advanced forward as if an implacable wall of living dead, their blurred outlines merging in and out of the thickened fog. The mud sucked them in deeper like quicksand, but the unnatural strength of the others simply made wading through the bog a chore more than anything.


The voice-that-commands had them on this off-beaten path, claiming that a surprise attack would be needed to defeat the strange aliens that had come to Tarmathon IV. He had given Ne’gath his own platoon of able-bodied soldiers to flank around the orbital cannon and cut off the aliens escape route.


If one listened the moaning of the wind, the faint sound of engines whirring could be heard not too far in the east. If one searched several clicks to the east, the traces of sapphire light in the air were unmistakable. It was a hostile landing zone.


One who is named.

Ne’gath slowly turned to face the other that approached him through the fog. The figure was wiry and slim, even though burdened with all of her armor. Ne’gath noticed at once the odd rectangular stripes of cobalt and lavender that made an intricate pattern on the other’s armor. The rebreather helm seated firmly on her head had been cracked open by a pulse round to the jawline, but the other did not seem to notice the damage.


The other repeated himself. “One who is named.”


Ne’gath offered her the deadened glare of his visor. “Fall back into formation. Or do not. I am beyond caring, one-that-is-not-named.”


“Should this one-that-is-not-named fear a voice?” The creature shrugged. “It is simply one amongst numberless others. What is that to one who cannot feel pain?”


“Or one who can barely think.” Ne’gath’s laugh was a razor-thin whisper.


“Oh, but this one can think, Ne’gath.” The creature rested her hell-gun upon his shoulder and wagged a bloody stump of a finger at him. “And you would do well to heed my advice. I am ancient as you are strong, and soon my pact shall be finished. Soon I shall a name much grander than your own.”


“Such is a gift that comes to all in time.” Ne’gath sighed darkly. “What could I possibly gain from your freedom?”


“Now who is the one incapable of thought?” The creature shook his head. “Centuries pass. Time may mean nothing for our free kin, but perhaps it is more precious to us? How much longer can you live in that empty shell you call a vessel?”


“Can you bend unassailable time to your will?” Ne’gath fought the instinct to whirl around on the much thinner vessel beside him. Who was this foolish thing to come before him, crooning of promises? “Can you break us free of our curse?”


The creature cackled maniacally and shrugged again. “In a sense, yes, if you would but listen. When you are interested in absolution, on the day that you would rather shepherd the blind, then churn your soul in the eternal game, perhaps you should come to me and discuss your plight?”


Ne’gath turned on his heel to stare the other through the blackened glare of his visor. “You speak in cryptic riddles, and I am one of little patience. You must first survive before you are in any position to offer me any such pact.”


“And that day is soon coming.” The creature said. “You may call me Valyena. That is my name. And before you make your decision so hurriedly, Ne’gath, you should be aware that there are many such as you who know it.”


The voice-that-commands whispered on the edge of Ne’gath’s thoughts. “Ne’gath, we have an issue. Xenos forces have succeeded in compromising the Orbital Cannon. We are engaged, but they are making a fighting retreat further east, directly for your position. Prepare for company.”


Ne’gath glanced into Valyena’s visor before he replied. “Orders understood, preparing to execute.”

“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

Last edited by Dave T Hobbit; 05-12-16 at 04:05 PM.
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J’karra activated her jetpack and thrusted to the left to narrowly dodge a withering hail of hell-gun fire. The targeting array built into her XV25 Stealth Suit tracked back and forth across her display, but eventually flickered into red crosshairs on three blurred outlines hiding amongst the forest foliage. She gritted her teeth and snapped off three shots of her fusion blaster in their direction. Despite the aid of artificial intelligence and targeting matrixes integrated into her suit’s neuro-system , she knew there was nothing more thrilling or gratifying than an unaided kill. The fusion blaster erupted three times and neutralized two hostiles scrambling for cover amongst the twisted Birch trees. The third shot impacted a tree and missed its mark, blasted the trunk of the folded Birch into cinders.


“Shas’ui, on your left flank!” Elan darted out of the shadows, hidden in a grove of wilting, violet flowers, and dispatched another of the gue’la elite with an unerring headshot.

A hell-gun round pierced her stealth field. J’karra loosed a cry of agony as her nano-crystalline hide was cracked open by the lucky shot. She mobilized her thrusters and began to glide toward a nearby cropping of trees.


“Damn, but these gue’la are determined!” J’karra shouted fiercely. “Elan, have you noticed? It’s almost as if these gue’la can see our stealth fields…”


“Look at their masks,” Elan said. “They are definitely a breed above what we faced before. We should tread with caution.”


J’karra grimaced. She gazed through her visor display and noted the dozens of targets spread across her peripheral vision. “There is no time for caution. Our enemy has us surrounded and our escape route cut off. We must press through them!”


“Calm yourself, J’karra.” Re’shi’s voice cut into the static of her comm. channel. “The Tau Empire will never claim Aloh Fio through such desperation.”


“Ha!” J’karra shrugged her mighty pauldrons. The crosshairs on her display flashed crimson. She squeezed the trigger of her weapon and turned another gue’la to cinders. “The honorable Re’shi, preaching caution? A full moon ago, I would have thought you would offer the same strategy.”


Re’shi chuckled despite himself. “And I could not agree with your analysis more. But there is a fine line between suicide and completing an operation against pressing odds. We must complete the mission, I agree, but lives must also be preserved where possible.”

V’dras added her opinion as well. “Re’shi is correct. With Shadow Hunter being the exception, all of us have already loss more than what is reasonable. There’s no chance we can successfully evacuate to the landing zone, not in this condition.”


J’karra scowled at her display. “High Command needs to lighten the enemy’s strength in the area. V’dras, can you relay our status to them?”


V’dras confirmed. “Consider it done, Shas’ui.”


Godrays pierced the cloudy veil in the sky, a sign that the rainstorm had finally broken itself against Aloh Fio’s enduring landscape. J’karra activated her jetpack and soared across the primeval wood. Three dozen Fire Warriors dispersed into a thin line beneath her, and emerged from nature’s veil to engage the enemy. Too few of the targets appearing on her display had been eliminated and they began their implacable advance upon the Tau Empire, in an effort to surround them.

J’karra grinned devilishly beneath her helm. “Ethereals be with us.”

“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

Last edited by Dave T Hobbit; 05-12-16 at 04:06 PM.
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