Plaything - Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums
Original Works All user written fiction from any Games Workshop setting should be posted here. Please use the drop-downs to denote which setting your story belongs.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-01-09, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
Entropy Fetishist
 
Mossy Toes's Avatar
Mossy Toes's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Eä
Posts: 4,249
Reputation: 117
Default Plaything

I’m going for something slightly more surreal and perverse (in both senses of the latter, I guess) with this that what I’ve done before - showing a stranger, grimdarker side of the 40k universe. Still, I hope that you all enjoy!

As ever, critique is enjoyed/appreciated/preferred. The harsher the better, so long as it remains constructive.

+++

PLAYTHING

By Mossy Toes

+++

Table of Contents:

Prelude
Chapter I: The Commissar and His Pet
Chapter II: Blood, Fire, and Darkness
Chapter III: A Known Unknown
Chapter IV: Tides of War
Chapter V: Infirmarium Besieged
Interlude I
Chapter VI: A Whole New World
Chapter VII: Designs of the Herald
Chapter VIII: Hunt of the Queen (Part II)
Interlude II
Chapter IX: The Herald’s Favor (Part II)
Chapter X: Storm Front Looming (Part II)
Interlude III
Chapter XI: Battle for the Font
Chapter XII: Dissolution (Part II) (Part III)
Postlude

+++

Prelude

+++

the voices had gone away, and she was alone.

she preferred it when it was that way. when all the voices were quieted down to a dull mosquito buzz. when all the light of the world that shone in through her third sight—not the eyes of course, the other sight—was dimmed to a nothingness.

it let her be alone.

but when she was out, let out to be free, though, she could see Him. He never spoke to her softly because of what she was but she remembered—

she remembered

it was only when she was hidden away from the light and the voices that He spoke softly to her. even then, enough of the voices crept through the suppressant collar that told her it was just out pity that He did this. she didn’t care, and she couldn’t respond when He did do this, but it made her so happy. she wanted to cry out, to laugh and jump whenever His hand briefly brushed her—but she could not.

the only way she could please Him was to hurt the others, the dim-souls and dirty-change-fleshed that tried to harm Him and His fellow clean-flesh whenever He let her out. even then it wasn’t Him she was pleasing but His sense of duty, but it made Him more content and so it was reason enough.

she hurt Him, she knew. she made Him cry at night when she was kenneled and He was in bed, alone. It hurt her so badly to hurt Him—it cut her so deep—but she couldn’t stop. she couldn’t stop without going away, and she couldn’t have gone away if she had wanted, because of the Bright chains that bound her up. however, she knew that she would never want to leave Him. never ever ever, because she loved him, and He loved—

and He loved

but He never even liked her when the collar and blindfold were off. so she was happy that the voices had gone away, and besides, the voices always hurt her. however, the only time she had control of her body was when the voices were there with her.

but she could never tell Him that she she loved Him, not even when the voices were there and the collar was off. so it was better when she was alone. she liked being alone.

but she knew that it was a lie, that she lied to herself, that the voices lied to her, and that He lied to her and to Himself.

because she remembered when He spoke softly to her and she laughed, and she spoke softly back. because she loved Him, and she knew in her heart and mind and anima and soul and spirit and body, she Knew that He loved her still.

and she was so tired of being alone.




+++

Chapter I: The Commissar and His Pet

+++

Another Lightning atmospheric fighter split the sky in a supersonic roar, weeping bombs, and was going—going—gone, almost as soon as Commissar Alexos first heard it. The shuddering sound of its passage was lost amidst the explosions of artillery shells and grenades, the rattle of gunfire and crack of lasbeams.

Until the falling bombs kissed the enemy emplacements across the broad causeway. Orange blossoms of flame blasted outward, devouring the air and corrupted flesh. The gutted wreck of a Manufactorium on the enemies’ side of the boulevard groaned, twisted and collapsed. A dark cloud of dust and soot coughed outward. Rebel soldiers shrieked as they were crushed beneath the collapsing ruin—now nothing more than a snarl of stone, plascrete, and rebar.

A cheer broke from the Dunmirra 341st, and the enemy fire faltered momentarily. Solid crumps echoed from other sections of the city, but here was a brief pause and another minor victory for the Imperium. Alexos bared his white teeth in a feral smile.

Those of the squad to which he was attached that saw his expression turned away, suppressing shudders and focusing back on the enemy. They would not like to attract the attention of the dark-skinned Commissar, Throne no. Neither his nor his unnatural pet’s.

Alexos yanked on Sheka’s chain. The woman, though she hardly deserved the term, moaned and staggered forward. The silver chains linking her psi-suppressant collar and blindfold jingled softly.

“It’s almost time, dearest,” Alexos murmured. “Now we’re just waiting for the order.”

Sheka, the broken thing that once would have been Alexos’ wife, whimpered nonsense words of terror. Alexos’ attention was drawn away by Colonel Enskor’s voice, which crackled into his voxbead:

++Third Platoon, advance++

Most of these men were new - fresh recruits, barely expected to live past their first fifteen hours. They had now been planetside twice that long, but they hesitated. Alexos’ smile grew wider.

“Up, my boys!” he roared, almost joyously. The men in the building lurched into motion at his whip-crack voice. “Up, in the Emperor’s name, and at the scum! Run, shoot, scream praises to the Holy Throne—but don’t you dare hold back, or you’ll feel my pistol’s bite!”

They spilled from the relative safety of the building, out into the street clogged with hastily deployed razor wire and covered by overlapping fields of fire. They had hesitated. Pathetic, Alexos thought, even for fresh meat. In truth, the men of this platoon had been through several such desperate charges as these; enough to fear them, but not enough to get used to them. Now was where the cowards would show themselves—now or soon.

The soldiers from the second storey poured past as well, following the first wave over the sandbags. The enemy’s return fire began.

“Dearest,” said Alexos, unclipping Sheka’s collar, “you shall no longer need this.” He suppressed a wave of nausea, as ever, at the static electricity that washed off her and filled the room. He paused momentarily then slid off her blindfold.

A sussurus of gentle, buffeting voices spun around the room, surrounding Skeda. Static snapped and crackled across their clothing as the growing breeze washed over them.

“Silence!” snapped Alexos, fear and revulsion boiling over. Between unveilings, he always forgot this abomination’s one purpose: using its gifts to destroy its fellow tainted. Whenever she was chained, this knowledge receded into the back of his mind and he coddled the thing, giving in to his past emotions. It was an exercise in futility. He would never have back the woman to whom he had proposed.

The voices, and the wind upon which they were carried, died. Alexos nodded in approval.

Sheka rose into the air, violet light building around her. The wall rippled and shed away, bending from her will. She drifted slowly through the hole. Alexos followed closely, revolted by the witch-taint. The wall warped smoothly back into place behind them, no longer scarred by bullets and burns.

“Kill the enemy, witch,” said Alexos coldly. “Give them the fate you long for, but know that they have discarded any chance to bow before Him. Kill them swiftly.”

He was not smiling any longer.

+

Alexos leaned slowly back against the wall, ignoring the distasteful fact that his cushion was a corpse. Sheka was once more bound and chained to his side. His bolt pistol, and the special magazine with shells of blessed silver, were safely put away.

The enemy had been cleared from these city blocks. Once they had realized that they were under attack by a fellow witch, they had been all too eager to pull back. However, the chained witches of the Imperium were unlike the enemy in one way—all Sanctioned Psykers served the light of the Emperor, and Sheka was no exception. Her touch was anathema to the heretic.

Little had been gained, in truth. Just several more rows of useless, shattered buildings—and they were now separated from the enemy by a twenty lane transit route. Soon, Alexos knew, they would have to cross that too, fording a swamp of bullets and mines in the process. He did not look forward to it.

He was tired. These pushes deeper into the city ever since they had landed were wearing both him and Sheka out. Her performance today had been almost...lackluster. Thin. Despite the indifference of the Imperial war machine for the individual, they both needed rest. Pushing Sheka would only increase the chance that some warp-beast would tear its way into her mind, and he did not mean to lose her again.

Guardsmen, both Dunmirra and others, bustled about. The Salthovar 21st uncoiled spools of razor wire and wheeled barrows or rubble into place between buildings. Burly, dun-fatigued members of the Gundread 58th carried sandbags and spades and other implements with which they could shore up the defenses being constructed. In case of an enemy retaliation, the Colonel said, though none seemed likely. The enemy’s back had been broken in this hive when the Dunmirra 341st and other reinforcements had landed, yesterday, and supplemented the Imperial fighters already on the surface.

Hive Janendor was as good as reclaimed. Several thousand Imperial lives and a week or two might be needed to make that a complete reality, but really, it was a foregone conclusion. Crushing defeat and subjugation—that was ever the fate of those who rose up against the Imperium.

These thoughts filtered through his head, along with a vague desire for a lho stick, until Sheka began thrashing against her bindings.

+

Sheka’s violent flailing was a split-second warning, and then all hell exploded.

A trio of rockets spat from a block of buildings behind the new Imperial line. One crashed into a wall with a spray of masonry. Another corkscrewed into a packaged spool of razorwire, sending jagged stretches of it scything through the knot of Salthovarians clustered around it. The third exploded against the treads of a half-track that carried pallets of stacked sand bags. The vehicle slewed to a jerking halt, coughing out its broken treads into a heap and spilling several plastek-wrapped pallets to the ground.

Shouts and warcries burst from several buildings, and heretical soldiers leaped up from hidden grates and sewer panels. Autoguns chattered and lasguns cracked. The Dunmirrans, fresh to combat and unsure of which way to turn, were being scythed down. The more veteran Salthovarians and Gundread responded with some semblance of order and discipline, but were still caught in the open.

Alexos sprung to his feet, cursing, and dragged Sheka behind the corner of the building against which he had been sitting. He fumbled with her bindings, loosing them with impatient fingers. Once she was freed, she rose into the air again.

“Stay close to me and kill the enemy, witch,” Alexos spat. Sheka only nodded, her head lolling loosely as warp-winds fluttered across her clothing. He led the way around the corner and she drifted after him.

A squad of Gundread guardsmen had managed to move to the shelter of the half-constructed earthworks. However, as the enemy were in the buildings to their side as well as at their front, the protection offered by the cover was merely nominal.

The Dunmirra discipline in the area, however, had broken down in the face of the ambush. Injured were scattered across the ferrocrete road, and small groups of soldiers returned fire from behind garbage receptacles, abandoned vehicles, and stray rubble. Alexos intended to change that.

The stricken soldiers needed to be focused, to be given directions and snapped out of the animalistic paralysis into which they had slipped. If they charged and took one of the enemy’s positions, they would not only have cover, but they would have regained the initiative.

Alexos unclipped and raised his bolt pistol. The heretic forces were fewer than the disorienting first moments had made them seem, but the guardsmen were still pinned down or exposed.

“At them!” he cried, loping with long strides across the open ground. “At them in the Emperor’s name, or by Thor I’ll send you to Him early!”

Alexos sprinted forward, waving his pistol to gather the fragmented groups of soldiers to himself. They rose as he passed, joining his bellowed curses with inarticulate cries of their own. Soldiers of Dunmirra, Gundread, and Salthovaria formed to him and crested in a wave that swelled toward the nearest enemy spire block.

Heretical counter-fire swelled as the enemy saw their danger, and would have claimed a dozen lives before Alexos’ charge hit the building, but their bullets and lasbeams hit and invisible wall several feet before the Imperial troops. Bullets splashed across the obstacle like water and dribbled to the ground. Lasbeams twisted, sputtered, and faded, leaving only the after-burned image of their passing across the retinas of those watching.

Sheka was at work.

She rotated in the air, still near and following Alexos, but now watching the backs of the charging guardsmen as well. She swept out her arm lazily, and crackling bolts of what the observers saw, for their own sanity’s sake, as lightning corkscrewed into the front of another of the enemy-held spire blocks. The spare charges from one of the rocket launchers that had fired earlier cooked off, and the large explosion tore outward, blackening and chipping stonework. Heretics screamed.

The squad at the barricade were grappling with enemy fighters in hand to hand, but the impetus of Alexos’ charge galvanized guardsmen to come to their aid.

Alexos fired a bolt from his pistol through an large, open window as he arrived at it. A shape behind it lurched backwards. He followed his bolt through the window, crashing through the flimsy shutters and freeing his saber from its scabbard. More guardsmen spilled into the building through the door or other windows. In the gloom beyond, the enemy waited.

Several shapes spun around Alexos as he lunged through the window. His saber darted out and caught one across the throat, and his barking pistol claimed another, whose face was pulverized by the bolt. The final enemy, a woman with feathers tattooed across her face and broken teeth, discarded her autogun and lunged forward with a knife. Alexos swept his sword across his front and deflected her blow, but she continued her forward rush and crashed into him as he recovered.

He twisted as they both were knocked off their feet and landed lightly on all fours. In an instant, he was straightening and whipping upward with his pistol’s butt. The woman blocked his swing with her arm, but fell backwards. She writhed and kicked, but she was not fast enough to prevent his bringing the pistol to bear. The impact of his bolt severed her spine.

He picked up his saber, which had been knocked from his grasp by her lunge, and stood. Shouts spilled through a doorway adjacent to the street, and Alexos moved toward them. There was work to do.

+

Captain Miaro was strip-searching civilians when the ambush occurred. Several hundred captured inhabitants of the fallen city had been rounded up from the latest push—those who hadn’t fled their habs and spires at the approach of the fighting or been killed by the indiscriminate artillery shelling. Now, precautions had to be taken to ensure that they didn’t stick like a nail through the sole of the advancing Imperial boot.

In groups of twenty, the citizens stripped down. Once their lack of weapons, cult markings, and mutations was affirmed, they were given new clothes—baggy, two-piece jumpsuits of a one-size-fits-nobody make. They were made to affirm their loyalty to the God-Emperor and Saint Thor. Finally, all twenty, or less if any had failed to impress their purity and loyalty upon the Imperials, were packaged into a single cargo truck and sent off to one of the reeducation centers that had been erected since Imperial planetfall.

The abandoned sets of clothes and the bodies of those who failed any one of the these examinations were slung carelessly into piles. After the vetting was finished, the heaps would be carted away to a bonfire. The most common cause of failure was lack of piety, though quite a few ‘applicants for Imperial citizenship’ had gang tattoos. Both of these were enough to warrant a lasbeam to the head.

This group was particularly restive. Most were usual docile type—weeping into their hands or shuffling along with bent heads. However, there was a higher than usual number of laborers and burly workers. These glowered and resisted the prods of their liberators. Such insolence was only tolerated because they would be the men most needed in the reconstruction of this world.

Therefore, Captain Miaro’s attention ought to have been on the captives when the attackers struck. This was not the case, thanks to a warning from his unique sixth sense. His sixth sense was odd; something that came and went uncontrollably, but, when it actually did stir, useful to the extremes.

His head snapped to the side. He saw several figures in civilian clothing clambering into position atop a rooftop, carrying a portable krak missile launcher.

He began bellowing orders to his soldiers, directing them to the enemy-occupied rooftop. The Gundread guardsmen sent sprays of lasfire toward the heretic positions, and the enemy scattered.

More attackers appeared, but in scattered groups as it became clear that their cover had been blown early. The guardsmen were able to occupy defensive positions and smash each piecemeal enemy strike. Miaro was in his element, roaring orders to Glaen, his vox officer, and countering the gradually more cohesive enemy assaults.

Until his sixth sense returned, and with a vengeance. Something was wrong with it; it possessed a sour, sickening taint that he had never before felt. His head spun and his stomach kicked, and a lasbolt took off half his face.

It came from an entirely unexpected quarter—the civilians yet to be examined by his men. It entered beside his nose, passed through his right cheekbone, vaporized bone, and exited, weakened, through his right ear. The merest fraction of a second later, the superheated air expanding in its wake blasted open the right side of his face. Eight soldiers later swore that they saw the shot hit Miaro, and saw him fall.

First Lieutenant Crestholm was invaluable in coordinating a defense after the loss of Miaro. With his leadership, the Gundread fought off their attackers with only eleven fatalities. They killed, or incapacitated and soon thereafter finished off, sixty-eight of the ambushers. Twenty-eight civilians died, fourteen more were badly injured, and twenty-seven suffered superficial burns, shrapnel injuries, or cuts. Eleven vanished.

Captain Miaro’s body was not found, but he was declared K.I.A. due to the testimony of his subordinates. Commissar Beinthop of the Gundread 58th signed his certificate of death that night, and tore it up a week later in a fit of anger.

+

“How,” queried Colonel Enskor, quivering angrily, “did this happen? I lost more than five platoons worth of men along the line from those blasted attacks. Tell me, Commissar, what mistakes did our soldiers make?”

Alexos was by no means a tall man, but found himself looking down merely to meet the Colonel’s fiery glare. Major Vutch shifted awkwardly beside Alexos, glancing down at her feet for a moment before speaking.

“We were careless, sir,” she replied, “and we underestimated the suicidal drive of our enemies. The Dunmirra were inexperienced, and didn’t know how to respond to the ambush. The Gundread and Salthovarian forces, across the line, lost far fewer than our own soldiers.”

Though, continued Alexos in his own mind, Miaro’s loss would be felt harder than all of the day's other casualties combined. Alexos had been impressed by the command that the captain had so effortlessly exhibited over his men during the transit they had spent together. It was a bitter pill to swallow to lose the Gundread captain so soon.

“They hid inside the buildings that we took,” continued Vutch. “Buildings we took too easily, sir, in hindsight. Inside the air ducts, amongst the civilians, and, mostly, in concealed sub-basement compartments. Obviously, this is a method of striking at us that has a very low survival rate amongst their men. From the numbers that came from underground, I had originally thought that more heretics had hidden in the sewer system, but hivequakes have rendered those nearly inoperable for years. Look, sir. Do you see this transit route?”

Vutch swept her arm out to indicate the twenty-one lane causeway to their left. The lumestrips attached to the plascrete seven-lane dividers had powered up and were visible in the dimness of the dusk.

“Do I see it? Of course I do, you bitch! We’re practically standing on it!”

There was a moment of silence in which both Vutch and Alexos stared icily at the inexperienced commander, who bristled petulantly.

“Sir,” said Alexos eventually, stepping forward with slow menace. He now loomed even further over the diminutive colonel. “I possess the power to remove you from your office, and will not have you address your soldiers so. Should your manner continue to be so crass before your soldiers, I may have to take steps that you would not like me to take.”

Enskor spluttered momentarily and took a step backward, drawing himself up a few ineffective centimeters. Alexos’s hand drifted casually under his greatcoat to where his bolt pistol slept, holstered. The colonel marked the movement and, wisely, snapped his mouth shut.

“Major,” said Alexos calmly, turning away, “please continue.”

“Ah, right, the…transit route,” said Major Vutch, blinking. “It was used by vehicles ferrying themselves away from the industrial sector here in the outskirts and returning to the hive proper, up there. But how did they get to the manufactoria in the first place, sir? Maps mark this as one of the main arteries for the transport of raw materials, and it only leads away from the industrial sector. Or does it?”

Alexos smiled grimly, knowing what came next. The Colonel stared silently at his subordinates, still bristling.

“Beneath us is another transit route,” said Vutch, “built directly underneath this upper one. Twenty-one lanes, too, and perfectly unseen by us. This is how they attacked us—using the maintenance shafts and manholes from below. When we tried to follow, they detonated charges and collapsed those tunnels. We’ve been blocking off all the other rat holes that we find.”

Enskor snorted derisively as Vutch paused again.

“And how does this affect us? Apart from stoppering a nuisance?”

Vutch pursed her lips and stiffened again. Alexos could sympathize—not only was the colonel dismissing a crucial link in the enemy battle line, but he was also, by dismissing the tactical importance of the tunnels, very nearly dismissing the lives of the men that had been lost to the element of surprise. Did Enskor’s fury about the destroyed platoons stem solely from the fact that his regiment had lost the most in these ambushes, and that that was a black eye on his record?

“Sir,” cut in Alexos before Vutch launched whatever vitriolic comment had sprung to her lips. He continued slowly and diplomatically. “The implications here are…massive. This could be why the Chardonii 112th and the PDF are having so much trouble capturing the industrial district. For all we know, the vile heretics could be moving whole battalions of armor and infantry down there without us getting so much as a whiff. And, if we capture this under-route, we’d be cutting off a line of their retreat. The problem is that until then, they can vomit out as many more soldiers as they want on the other side of over-route, and we have no easy entry point down there.”

The Colonel’s face had slowly puckered into a deeper and deeper scowl as Alexos spoke. Alexos was contemptuous—by capturing this, the blasted fool would have an opportunity to prove the newly-founded Dunmirra 341st’s fighting prowess like no other that might spring up in the rest of the time they spent on this world.

“This would be risky, yes?” hazarded the Colonel.

“Undoubtedly, sir, but—”

“And since the string of abushes, these under-tunnels are by no means a secret anymore?”

“Quite possibly, sir, though—”

“Then what’s to stop us from blasting through and sweeping in with several companies? We don’t care if we collapse their transit route on their heads!”

Alexos blinked. That had been several hoops of logic fewer than he had expected to have to lead the colonel. Perhaps Enskor, despite his flab, height, and crude inexperience, might eventually prove to be a capable officer.

The colonel waddled swiftly off, calling for a map and a vox-officer. Alexos and Vutch looked at each other, and Alexos was slightly surprised to see hostility in her eyes.

“What prompted that protective outburst of yours, commissar?” she asked, her voice soft but dangerous. As he opened his mouth to reply, she spoke again, over-riding him. “Sympathy? Not exactly a large part of your job, is it? Or would you plead compassion? With your wife chained behind you, mewling and drooling?”

“Sheka is not my—” began Alexos, his voice brittle, but the major cut him off again.

“I’ve been dealing with sexist grox-scat my entire life,” she spat. “It’s the condescension I get that I hate, the assumption that I need to be protected. Keep your bloody help to yourself.”

She stalked away as well, leaving Alexos alone with Sheka.

+

Footsteps.

Their echoes reverberated across the walls, mingling with the echoing plips and plops of dribbling water. The far-away sounds of dueling artillery and explosions were all but silenced by the meters of ferrocrete and stone separating the tunnels from the surface.

Thick growths of soft, fronded muscosus graced the dampest corners, uncurling and furling itself again, undulating and quivering. Dim or broken lumebulbs hung from exposed wires along the hallway’s arch. There were no vermin, though—the rats that didn’t have the sense to stay away from the powers unleashed in this place were hunted down by the apprentices of the Order.

The man whose feet echoed down the dark pathways had many names. He was born as Maelro Cantis, but very few indeed knew that name anymore. In the Mentian sub-sector, he was known as Cadoaze and the Warpwender. By the hounds of the Inquisition, he was called Chargotte. He held the titles ‘The Paradoxical’ and ‘The Keeper of the Citadel Unformed’. He was the Bodythief and the Herald of Nightmare. He was worshiped and feared as Thrall the Whisperer by the feral tribes of Salcias. However, he held one of his accolades held far higher than any other. That was the title of Mask Bearer, and he wore a golden mask.

His paces were firm and measured, but his mind was—literally—elsewhere. It washed across the battlefield, avoiding Imperial psykers and calculating the losses and deaths that drained down this miserable hive’s gutters. Several objects or situations across the kilometers of battlefield caught whorls of psychic energy or violent emotion that attracted his attention.

A guardsman cradled his dying twin in his arms. A flock of toxic vultures scattered before a flight of Hell Blade fighters. An Earthshaker shell split a command bunker in half but miraculously harmed only a single servitor inside with minor concussive shock. A Leman Russ Demolisher was overrun by heretical soldiers, but a valiant sponson gunner threw a krak grenade into the ammunition magazine. A leaf blown from another continent span in an eddy of wind atop one of the hive’s spires.

The man arrived at his destination. He swept the door open with a tendril of power and stepped inside. An acolyte within bowed away from the captive over which he had been bent and retreated. The masked psyker stepped up to the injured Imperial and probed his mind.

Good. There was potential here that, although deadened by drugs and pain, could be put to use. The sutures stretched across the horrific injury on the man’s face held the facial structure together enough that a mask would not sit unsteadily, either. This man would make a decent convert—if not a willing one…

+

Another rumbling explosion rocked the transit route, sending coughing tongues of flame out of the hole and a light mist of gravel across the Imperials that were stationed to guard the demolition digging. Every several hours, a servitor was lowered down with a load of det-block to place in the cavity that had thus far been scored in the ferrocrete ground.

Every several years, a hivequake shook the massive, looming, conical edifice above. When it did so, loose siding and infrastructure was shaken down, landing in these outskirts with enough force to flatten vast swathes of them. The industrial sector was far enough away from the hive’s looming sides to avoid much of the damage, but only the poor, the foolhardy, and the workers lived this close to the hive proper. When the debris fell, it was smoothed by work teams, and new hab blocks were constructed atop the ruins of it and the habs below.

Over the hundreds of years since the hive had been constructed, more than a hundred feet of this ‘hive-shale’ had built up. Foothills of the shale built up on the erg of the hive’s sloped sides, where the difference between the wall and the detritus became steadily more unclear.

Ten minutes passed. A few last crashes occurred in the twenty-foot deep hole, slide-ins of loose rubble and similar, but the pit remained structurally sound. Workers were lowered to clear out the piles of shattered debris at the bottom.

The workers—’liberated’ civilians who had been given their first task—filled baskets with the shards and chunks of ferrocrete that were able to be lifted. Others took pickaxes and chain-drills to the larger, more tangled heaps of slag to break them up.

This time, one of the workers noticed something different. Tangled rebar and damaged plascrete were visible to one side of the wall—a sign that they could be punching through to another layer of the strata surrounding the hive. When the man reported this to the soldiers in charge of demolition, they smiled, nodded, and ordered the vox man to call the regiments to readiness, as this next detonation could very well break through. This was the second such call, but they needed to be prepared, in case the next was the true call to arms. After all, they were deep enough—the seismic scans from the battleships above, despite some interference, projected the depth of the underground tunnels to be approximately twenty-five feet beneath the one on the surface, of which they had dug more than three-quarters.

Colonel Enskor of the Dunmirrans and Colonel Rastheim of the Gundread were awakened and told to put their soldiers on high alert. As the men assembled, Commissars Alexos and Beinthop briefed them on the situation.

+++

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!

Last edited by Mossy Toes; 04-15-10 at 03:24 AM.
Mossy Toes is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-01-09, 08:32 PM
Senior Member
 
NurglingStomper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 742
Reputation: 1
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossy Toes View Post
+

Alexos leaned slowly back against the wall, ignoring the distasteful fact that his cushion was a corpse. Sheka was once more bound and chained to his side. His bolt pistol, and the special magazine with shells of blessed silver, were safely put away.

The enemy had been cleared from these city blocks. Once they had realized that they were under attack by a fellow witch, they had been all too eager to pull back. However, the chained witches of the Imperium were unlike the enemy in one way - all Sanctioned Psykers saw the light of the Emperor, and Sheka was no exception. Her touch was anathema to the heretic.

Little had been gained, in truth. Just several more rows of useless, shattered buildings - and they were now separated from the enemy by a twenty lane transit route. Soon, Alexos knew, they would have to cross that too, fording a swamp of bullets and mines in the process. He did not look forward to it.

He was tired. These pushes deeper into the city ever since they had landed were wearing both him and Sheka out. Her performance today had been almost... lackluster. Thin. Despite the indifference of the Imperial war machine for the individual, they both needed rest. Pushing Sheka would only increase the chance that some warp-beast would tear its way into her mind, and he did not mean to lose her again.

Guardsmen, both Dunmirra and others, bustled about. The Salthovar 21st uncoiled spools of razor wire and wheeled barrows or rubble into place between buildings. Burly, dun-fatigued members of the Gundread 58th carried sandbags and trowels and other implements with which they could shore up the defenses being constructed. In case of an enemy retaliation, the Colonel said, though none seemed likely. The enemy's backs had been broken in this city when the Dunmirra 341st and other reinforcements had landed, yesterday, and supplemented the Imperial fighters already on the surface.

Hive Janendor was as good as reclaimed. Several thousand Imperial lives and a week or two might be needed to make that a complete reality, but really, it was a foregone conclusion. Crushing defeat and subjugation - that was ever the fate of those who rose up against the Imperium.

These thoughts filtered through his head, along with a vague desire for a lho stick, until Sheka began thrashing against her bindings.

+

Alexos leaned slowly back against the wall, ignoring the distasteful fact that his cushion was a corpse. Sheka was once more bound and chained to his side. His bolt pistol, and the special magazine with shells of blessed silver, were safely put away.

The enemy had been cleared from these city blocks. Once they had realized that they were under attack by a fellow witch, they had been all too eager to pull back. However, the chained witches of the Imperium were unlike the enemy in one way - all Sanctioned Psykers saw the light of the Emperor, and Sheka was no exception. Her touch was anathema to the heretic.

Little had been gained, in truth. Just several more rows of useless, shattered buildings - and they were now separated from the enemy by a twenty lane transit route. Soon, Alexos knew, they would have to cross that too, fording a swamp of bullets and mines in the process. He did not look forward to it.

He was tired. These pushes deeper into the city ever since they had landed were wearing both him and Sheka out. Her performance today had been almost… lackluster. Thin. Despite the indifference of the Imperial war machine for the individual, they both needed rest. Pushing Sheka would only increase the chance that some warp-beast would tear its way into her mind, and he did not mean to lose her again.

Guardsmen, both Dunmirra and others, bustled about. The Salthovara 21st uncoiled spools of razor wire and wheeled barrows or rubble into place between buildings. Burly, dun-fatigued members of the Gundread 58th carried sandbags and trowels and other implements with which they could shore up the defenses being constructed. In case of an enemy retaliation, the Colonel said, though none seemed likely. The enemy’s backs had been broken in this city when the Dunmirra 341st and other reinforcements had landed, yesterday, and supplemented the Imperial fighters already on the surface.

Hive Janendor was as good as reclaimed. Several thousand Imperial lives and a week or two might be needed to make that a complete reality, but really, it was a foregone conclusion. Crushing defeat and subjugation - that was ever the fate of those who rose up against the Imperium.

These thoughts filtered through his head, along with a vague desire for a lho stick, until Sheka began thrashing against her bindings.

+
You repeat here. Other than that real nice, I like how you capture the grimness of war, with the fighting. Good story, waiting for more, but then you know how much I like your stories haha.

"Gloriam Imperator! The Firstborn Stand!"
Click for Vostroya and the Emperor!

Into the Fires of Battle, Unto the Anvils of War!
Click Me!
NurglingStomper is offline  
post #3 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-01-09, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
Entropy Fetishist
 
Mossy Toes's Avatar
Mossy Toes's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Eä
Posts: 4,249
Reputation: 117
Default

This is about a third of what's been written, and what's been written is about two-thirds of the first half of the story. The first half, I hear you ask? Yes - halfway through, at a point I haven't quite reached yet, there is The Shift.

I'm really excited where this story is going. It has a lot of potential, and it could really leave The Mutant Child in the dust, by its end. If I could tell you what's coming, I would, but I don't want to spoil your story for you. But yeah, I'm really hoping to shock the socks off a few people with how this thing turns out.

*resists temptation to put up next section already*

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Mossy Toes is offline  
 
post #4 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-01-09, 09:07 PM
Senior Member
 
NurglingStomper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 742
Reputation: 1
Default

Well you got a follower here, just subscribed.

"Gloriam Imperator! The Firstborn Stand!"
Click for Vostroya and the Emperor!

Into the Fires of Battle, Unto the Anvils of War!
Click Me!
NurglingStomper is offline  
post #5 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-02-09, 07:04 AM
Senior Member
 
Israfil's Avatar
Israfil's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Carmichael, CA
Posts: 99
Reputation: 1
Default

awesome, simply awesome. definitely my favorite of your works thus far. you should totally post the next part already. you know you want to.

One thing you can say for enemies; they make life more interesting.
Israfil is offline  
post #6 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-02-09, 07:53 AM Thread Starter
Entropy Fetishist
 
Mossy Toes's Avatar
Mossy Toes's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Eä
Posts: 4,249
Reputation: 117
Default

I know, I want to...and I'm going to leave for about four days tomorrow. In the morning, then.

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Mossy Toes is offline  
post #7 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-02-09, 07:55 AM
Senior Member
 
NurglingStomper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 742
Reputation: 1
Default

Woot!! In the morning. YES!!

"Gloriam Imperator! The Firstborn Stand!"
Click for Vostroya and the Emperor!

Into the Fires of Battle, Unto the Anvils of War!
Click Me!
NurglingStomper is offline  
post #8 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-02-09, 08:11 AM
Senior Member
 
Israfil's Avatar
Israfil's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Carmichael, CA
Posts: 99
Reputation: 1
Default

Hooray!!! i will wake bright and early for it!

One thing you can say for enemies; they make life more interesting.
Israfil is offline  
post #9 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-07-09, 06:21 AM Thread Starter
Entropy Fetishist
 
Mossy Toes's Avatar
Mossy Toes's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Eä
Posts: 4,249
Reputation: 117
Default



I forgot.

Extra-special update on the express route now!

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Mossy Toes is offline  
post #10 of 81 (permalink) Old 07-07-09, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
Entropy Fetishist
 
Mossy Toes's Avatar
Mossy Toes's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Eä
Posts: 4,249
Reputation: 117
Default

+++

Chapter II: Blood, Fire, and Darkness

+++


Looking out through these eyes, the masked psyker cast his gaze over his pawns. Their minds had been wiped blank but for a desire to kill, and now they stood in silent rows, filling the darkness. These were the youths, the cripples and the old men; these were the frailest of the women and the sickliest accountants, all having been fed into a psychic siphon to create near-mindless thralls and to fuel his other projects.

They waited quietly, their stillness born of their virtual lobotomy. An observer might have taken them for statues, had not their chests risen and fallen ever so slightly. Their minders, actual trained and fanatical soldiers, patrolled behind them.

All of these heretics had lived in the hive their entire lives, as displayed by their malnourished frames. Many of them were scarred or tattooed, with serpents and feathered creatures being the predominant imagery amongst the latter. Their carbines, autoguns, and bare-handled knifes were crude affairs, the obvious dross of the forges. These soldiers were not expected to stop the enemy—instead, they were to die, and in doing so to bleed the enemy, giving more experienced and faithful heretic soldiers time to get into position.

The earth rumbled again, and the ferrocrete wall shattered apart with a reverberating crack. The concussion blasted many of the waiting figures off their feet, and a great cleft was torn into the wall. Jagged rubble, ranging in size from gravel to slabs the height of a man, scythed through the assembled ranks. With the blast came a choking, acrid cloud.

The greatest response that the thrall-soldiers gave was to blink, or to clamber back to their feet. Those injured by the shrapnel stood as best they could. Several forms did not stir at all, or expired after a few, faint struggles.

Rubble shifted and clattered into the tunnel; debris from above. After several minutes, though, the streams of dirt and pebbles slowed. By now, the choking cloud of dust had begun to clear, and the maw-like hole in the wall was fully visible. A minder snarled a single clipped order, and the silent slaves adjusted themselves to face the hole.

The Imperials came. The first men that descended were clad in matte-black carapace armor and bearing flamers and hellguns. These were the Gundread First Platoon, the elite of their regiment. Their equipment rivaled that of Imperial Stormtroopers, and their training was barely less harsh and demanding. The very first men through the hole were laying down an ordered and punishing hail of lasfire before the thralls realized that they were under attack.

At the psyker's mental command, the thralls replied in kind. A torrent of shots, primarily from autoguns, but with the support of the minders’ laspistols, poured back into the Imperials. Durable carapace armor and the poor accuracy of the thralls ensured that the vast majority of the return fire was harmless, but its sheer volume ensured some successful hits. Several black-armored Gundread staggered or fell. A hellgun exploded, taking its owner's forearms with it.

Most soldiers would have wavered at this crucial juncture, the masked psyker knew, and been pressed back into the rat-hole to above from which they spilled. However, the First Platoon's members were not most soldiers, and they continued to push forward. The soldiers' footsteps were measured and methodical, and the psyker noticed that they kept away from the walls. This was to avoid ricochets he assumed. he admired their bravery, as such a tactic left them with no cover whatsoever.

The temperature of the air in the scant thirty paces between the two sides began to rise as the sheer quantity of lasfire boiled it. Heat distortion made the figures of the Gundread waver in the psyker's vision.

The distance between the two forces shrank, with the heretic thralls taking far greater casualties. Grenades from the soldiers of the First exploded in their midst, and hellguns on full auto scythed through their arrayed ranks. Imperials were constantly spilling from the jagged entrance to reinforce their own forces too, and bringing even more guns to bear: the last members of the First Platoon, and the beginnings of the rest of the soldiers, the dun-fatigued standard Gundread troopers and infantry wearing the darker brown of Dunmirra.

The psyker judged that the time was ripe and sent the thralls surging forward with a flick of his mind. Select soldiers amongst the First Platoon stepped forward, raised their flamers, and let loose a veritable wall of blazing promethium. The thralls struggled forward, falling without so much as a single cry of pain.

One thrall, swathed in flame, managed to reach the enemy and wrapped himself around one of the flamer-carriers. The resultant promethium explosion tore a hole in both the Imperial and the heretic line, though carapace-armored members of the First Platoon were afforded much more protection from the blast than their foes.

Despite the horrendous casualties inflicted by the soldiers carrying flamers, they were pushed back by the mindless charge of the thralls. They fell back into the relative safety of the Imperial ranks mere seconds before the thralls crashed into them. The combat was well and truly joined.

The psyker nodded to himself and faded back into the darkness. The thralls would die, but in doing so, serve their purpose. Already, further musters of his forces were trickling in toward the conflict. The cavalry was coming. He might even kill a few for himself...

+

Darkness, pierced by bitter flashes and the echoing reports of gunfire. Shouts, moans, and despairing cries interwove with this crescendo, creating a roaring symphony of humanity.

A figure appeared in front of Alexos, coming from and swathed in the gloom. He pistol-whipped it, and it cried out in pain, adding to the cacophony. Alexos’s barking pistol gave a counter-note, silencing the heretic.

Alexos was death, avenging and shrouded in black. His bolt pistol and chainsword together sang a hymn, a prayer to his savior, who sacrificed His flesh and ascended to the Throne to save Mankind. Those who turned their faces from His light could do naught but cower in their dank holes, but even then, Alexos hunted them. Even now.

Lances of psychic energy hummed past, a gift to the foe from Sheka. Her perverse mutation was ever a gift when fighting the enemies of the Emperor, as it turned their own foul magicks back against themselves.

The heretics were crumbling. For the last several hours, the fighting had been raging intensely, but now their numbers were dwinding. They had fought tooth and nail, but the Imperials had poured more and more soldiers into the tunnel. The initial entry force had pushed forward to the far wall of the transit route, claiming a complete stripe of the twenty-one lane tunnel.

Immediately after, the Imperial forces had swept outward in each direction. They had broken open all pockets of resistance that had tried to push out from the maintenance tunnels that threaded into the tunnel’s sides. The enemy that had clustered around the two rows of massive columns that divided the causeway into groups of seven lanes had been surrounded and purged.

Major Vutch had led the Dunmirran push that had followed under-route in the direction opposite of Alexos.

The wrecks of heretic half-tracks smoldered, the remnants of a concerted forward push by the foe. Lacking meltaguns, the Dunmirrans had nearly broken. When Alexos arrived, he had made examples of a several cowards, and “persuaded” a few of the more gallant soldiers to act as krak grenadiers. Most of these had died, but the heretics’ counter-attack had been shattered.

Now the enemy’s morale had all but broken. The firefights in the darkness were far more one-sided now, as the Gundread and the Dunmirrans put their foes to flight and lanced them down with lasguns. The disorganized enemy fought on in scattered pockets, but they had already lost the day.

The scorching, blistering heat generated by firefights, explosions and fires warred gustily with the cooler air of the tunnel. Alexos’ face was caked in soot—not that it made his flesh too much darker—and howling winds tore through the disturbed air of the under-route as the heat tried to rise and disperse. Sheka was pristinely clean, as ever, and surrounded by a pocket of dead air.

Dunmirrans carrying heavy equipment clattered up behind Alexos as the last of this group of traitors were dispatched. He turned to them.

“Quickly,” he said, “set up the flood lamps. And check the dead.” More than once, enemies had faked their own deaths, only to rise behind the Dunmirrans in ambush.

Mobile generators were wheeled into place, and the guardsmen yanked their start-cords, murmuring prayers to the spirits of the engines. The cords that provided the holy communication between the generators and lamps were then stowed as the former coughed into life. The flood lights hissed into brilliant illumination, forcing many of the guardsmen to hide their eyes. Alexos had already turned his back, and so avoided losing his vision.

Hundreds of feet of the tunnel ahead were cast into light. At the illumination’s edges, dim figures were visible, moving, preparing themselves—but certainly not fleeing. And there were a lot of them.

“Vox,” Alexos spat. “Support. Get another two platoons over here, sharp.”

“Two platoons to reinforce ours, sir,” the platoon’s vox officer replied sharply. “Got it.”

Alexos further surveyed the enemies. He knew that he had a platoon and a third in assorted soldiers, but the enemies were too shrouded by the gloom to get an accurate estimate. He guessed that there were at least seventy of them, but their could be a full regiment out there, for all he knew. However, he would be damned if he gave up a foot of ground to them. So long as the Dunmirrans stayed behind the lights, they would have a well-lit killing field, and the enemy would be blinded. Besides, he had Sheka.

A howling wind raced along the tunnel at an unimaginable speed, staggering soldiers and knocking over the lights that they were erecting. Alexos’s coat billowed outward and he was almost blown over. A generator toppled onto its side and was dragged along the ground, spraying sparks. Cords were pulled from its side and whipped dangerously in the hell-gale. Even Sheka was staggered by the gusts, and almost blown head over skirts.

She righted herself after a moment, though, and surged forward. Around her, the wind broke like a bow wave, but she stayed as steady as a ship’s prow. To those behind her, in the umbra of her protection, the wind died with the same unsettling rapidity that it had come. The bewildered platoon stood itself back up again and looked around at the toppled machinery.

A psyker, Sheka spoke, directly into Alexos’s mind. Warp-wind.

“Is it more powerful than you?” he asked aloud. The soldiers around him avoided his gaze, looking at the floor or into the darkness again.

Of course not, she said scornfully.

Alexos hated it when she spoke to him. It reminded him too much of the past. Besides, it wasn’t the Sheka that he had known that spoke—it seemed like some other being had taken her place, devoured her and filled her body. The savants and sages assured him that this wasn’t so, that she had simply been changed by the manifestation of her powers, but-

A dull roar woke him from his reverie. He stood, looking into the field of light cast by the few remaining flood lamps; still brilliant, but dim by comparison to what it had been mere moments ago. The dark figures, now even fainter than before, moved in the murky blackness. Shouting their battle cries, the enemy came.

+

“Incoming!” roared Alexos. “Sergeant Cante, get those lamps back up! Rest of you, pick your targets and open fire! I want those scum running on a carpet of their dead to get to us!”

Cante was one of the four sergeants amongst the men with Alexos. One of the two platoons that made up his composite platoon had lost their lieutenant to enemy fire; the other leitenant had been made an example of by Alexos when the half-tracks assaulted. The cowardly tekko had ordered a retreat.

Guardsmen brought their weapons to bear, and began firing. In this light and at this distance, few hit, but several of the dark shapes did stagger or fall. Not enough, though.

Sheka reared higher into the air, drawing back her hands. Her normally impassive face was twisted into a sneer. She whipped an arm forward, and a faint distortion traced its way from her fingertips and arched toward the enemy lines, soon lost in the darkness. When it impacted, however, there was no doubting what had occurred.

Purple light shot up in the center of the charging enemy line, and the unfortunate heretics caught in it shrieked and crumpled to the ground.

Sheka threw another almost invisible ripple of energy, but this one exploded, a mind-bending firework halfway between the two forces. Corkscrews of purple and gold shot outward. Another gust of air flared up for less than a second before dying, carrying echoing, half-heard whispers.

The illumination revealed the approximate size of the enemy’s force: no more than three times that of the Imperials, but made infinitely more dangerous by the presence of the hidden psyker. Sheka could possibly cancel that advantage out, but that still left more than enough foes for the Dunmirran soldiers.

Lasfire from the Imperial lines felled more figures. The enemy had increased their speed to a jog now, and becoming more distinct. The difference between the color of their flesh and fatigues was now more visible, and they were beginning to return a scattering of inaccurate fire.

A display of pyrotechnics bloomed directly in front of the Imperial line, causing the men to shout and jump back in fear. Sheka whirled from her position in front of it and vomited a wave of water that doused the flames and vanished. The rockcrete floor was neither scorched nor wet.

But now golden spears of energy lanced forward and picked off Imperials toward the edges of their line. Alexos saw the figure that cast them; a cloaked man, but one whose face shone and reflected the light of the flood lamps as if burnished.

He swiftly ejected the magazine of his bolt pistol and slapped in his special magazine of bolts of blessed silver. He took a careful bead on the figure and fired. The bolt shot away, a miniature rocket that left a contrail in the gloom of the tunnel, and detonated directly in front of the enemy psyker, failing to harm it at all. It whirled and vanished into the mass of enemy bodies. Alexos cursed. He had forgotten to clear the chamber of the standard bolt that had been in it, and given away the advantage of surprise.

A guardsman jerked and fell beside Alexos as a lucky autogun shot impacted into his knee, reducing it to a mess of shattered bone and gristle. Alexos retrieved the man’s lasgun so as not to waste his precious silver bolt shells and turned it upon the ever-nearing enemy. He would have killed for an autocannon, heavy stubber, or heavy bolter with which to mow down the exposed enemy.

Sheka called down a rain of fire, only to have it deflected by the hidden psyker. A delirious haze descended upon a segment of the Imperial line, but just as soon, Sheka unwove it. The ground erupted beneath a clump of the heretics and they found themselves impaled by fore-arm sized splinters of rockcrete. The air crackled with the greasy static of concentrated psychic energy.

Alexos’ nose had begun bleeding, but he paid it no heed. He let off lasbeams until the energy cell ran dry, and was pleased to see that the enemy was taking a painful toll. The second generator—one that had failed with the wind, but not the one that had been knocked over—had been successfully restarted, and more re-erected lights flickered back on. The guardsmen utilized the increased lighting to their advantage.

Lucky shots, such as that which had incapacitated the man beside Alexos, increased in number. More heretics were firing from the hip as they ran, or dropping to some small heap of rubble to fire at the guardsmen. The enemy was now a mere seventy feet away and running full out.

“Cante, leave the lights,” ordered Alexos. “Have your squad support and be ready with grenades!”

A bark of affirmation greeted him, and the few men still toiling over the fallen generator peeled away from it.

Sheka drifted back into the relative safety of the Imperial line, and descended to her typical height of several inches off the ground.

As the enemy came closer, still dying, Alexos caught another glimpse of the enemy psyker. Its face was covered by a golden mask that, even from fifty feet away, the expression that it wore was clearly one of vicious glee. He cast aside the lasgun, which he had twice reloaded since he had picked it up, and leveled his bolt pistol again. Before he could fire, though, the psyker was lost amidst the surging horde of the enemy.

“Grenades!” came the cry, and seconds later, the front ranks of the enemy were engulfed in flame and shrapnel. More enemies cried out and fell.

Alexos knelt and switched the magazines of his pistol again to standard shells, swiftly but without undue haste, despite the proximity of the enemy. This time, he cleared the chamber of the opposite type of shell. He stood again and revved his chainsword. The enemy, now a mere eight meters away and sprinting, roared. Alexos spat.

“For the Emperor!” he roared, lunging forward to meet them.

He swung his chainsword, shattering the autogun of the first enemy and tearing apart their stomach. He kicked the man away and stepped forward again, slashing again. A nimble heretic ducked under the clumsy blade and shouldered Alexos off balance. Alexos’s bolt pistol stitched a row of detonations up the man’s front as Alexos staggered.

He whirled with his chainsword brought back to bear as another screaming fanatic stepped forward. The blade’s jagged teeth tore greedily into the man’s neck, snapping his neck with a ‘crack’ audible over the roar of its engine. The man slumped to the ground. A guardsman with a bayonet jumped past Alexos and tackled a heretic to the ground, but another enemy stood over the two of them. Alexos blew off his shoulder.

With a disorienting suddenness, the light of many of the flood lamps died. One of the generators had apparently been damaged. The heretics let out victorious cries and ripped into the Imperials with heartened vigor.

But the Imperials were far from done, especially with Sheka on their side. She swept her arms forward, immolating a score of enemies. Her visage twisted once again an arrogant sneer, and she drifted forward, surrounded by a bow wave of death.

Alexos slashed at a heretic in carapace armor, but the gnawing teeth of his blade bounced off the man’s armor and the enemy jammed his own blade into the side of the chainsword. It sputtered and died.

But Alexos still had his pistol. He jammed it into his opponent’s face and pulled the trigger. A further splattering of gore was added to that which had already built up on Alexos’s uniform from the chainsword’s arterial spray.

He hefted his dead chainsword as another heretic lunged forward and swung it as a club. It impacted with a sickening squelch and bowled the man over. He didn’t get up.

Alexos caught a glimpse of flickering gold out of the corner of his eye. He whirled, and saw the enemy psyker tearing Sergeant Cante’s ribcage apart with his bare hands. Alexos leveled his bolt pistol and unleashed a hail of shots, but was forced to duck away as a screaming, tattooed woman threw herself at him.

He pistol-whipped her and kicked her knee. She fell, and he tried to finish her with his pistol—but its magazine clicked dry. He cursed, and stepped on the hand of hers that was scrabbling for an abandoned autogun. He kicked her in the face, and rotten teeth were knocked loose. Picking up the autogun while she reeled, he finished her himself.

Alexos looked up and ran towards the psyker again, who now faced him. As Alexos ran, he ejected his empty magazine and grabbed the silver shells from the pocket in which he kept it.

A searing bolt of energy forced Alexos to dive to one side. He slammed the full magazine home into the pistol as he rolled, and came upright firing it at his golden-masked foe. The bolt pistol’s hollow chamber clicked—he hadn’t cocked it.

The psyker’s hand was already raised and crackling with energy. For an instant, Alexos thought that here he would be ended; here he would become one more forgotten casualty in an unforgiving universe.

Until Sheka descended from the heavens like a diving raptor, burning through the man’s wards and shields with ease. With eye-blurring speed, she smashed into the psyker, whose bones snapped with brittle cracks. She tossed his body to the floor.

Incredibly, though no human could have survived that, the psyker staggered back upright. Energy spilled from his mask and crackled across his robes.

“Makocha!” cried the animated corpse despairingly, “je na la vaida!”

A wave of force knocked Alexos to the ground and he retched as his stomach churned. Churning emotions swept through his mind: extreme sorrow, elation, and giddy despair, to name but a few. These were accompanied by slurred, unclear whispers and strange, blurred images. The taste of pluquats filled his mouth through the vomit, and he almost choked in shock.

Then it was over. The energy receded, and with it, the soul of the enemy psyker. Alexos spat to clear his mouth and looked around. For a good fifty feet, all guardsmen and heretics had been knocked over. Several were weeping. Sheka too was on the ground, curled in a ball and convulsing.

Fighters from outside the area that had been stunned in this manner began to spill in, finishing their enemies as they lay supine or struggling to protect them. Those who had been grounded lurched to their feet, disoriented.

Alexos stumbled towards Sheka. He bent over her and gently raised her head. She looked at him, actually focused on him, and his heart almost stopped beating in shock. Her eyes were full of pain, hurt, and—and the heart-breaking gratitude.

“Alexos…” she murmured. This was the first word he had heard her say aloud since that day twelve years ago. He was frozen with a volcanic eruption of emotion, none of it familiar to him except in the manner that a forest might be familiar to one who has seen a single, withered leaf. Through and over it all, though, a single thought was predominant. The woman to whom Alexos had proposed had not been simply consumed, or scattered like chaff upon the winds of the warp. Sheka was alive.

But only briefly, oh so briefly. Her eyes glazed over, and she slid out of Alexos’s grasp. Into the air she rose, with a blank, condescending arrogance settling again across her face like a mask. Perhaps it was more unsteadily set than before, but the Sheka that Alexos had seen was hidden once more.

He stood as she drifted back into the fight. The sweet taste of pluquats still lingered in his mouth, turned a sickly sour by painful memories.




+++

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!

Last edited by Mossy Toes; 04-06-10 at 03:52 AM.
Mossy Toes is offline  
Reply

  Lower Navigation
Go Back   Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums > Fiction, Art and Roleplay Game Discussion > Original Works

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome