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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-28-10, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Default The Acerbrius Anomaly

Prologue

+++East Spurs of Mt. Kajl, Beta-continent, Rerusk VIII, on the fringe of the Cadian Gate.+++




A fluttering breeze. Thin sheets of bright white paper drift gently down, blanketing the blood red sands, a light shower of snow. The wall of paper parts, and then falls, falls, falls,

--f-------------~--------------------~-------------------
--------------------------~------------------------------------
--~------a-----------------------------~-------------------------------
------------------~---------------
-------------~-----l---------------------~-------------------------
---~-------------------------------------------~------------------------------
--------~-------------------l---------------------------------------------
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---~----------------------------------i-----------------------~-------~------------
------------------------------~-~---------------------------------------------
------------------~----------------~----------n
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Halvador Signon marched curtly across the hi g h carbon steppe of the volcano lava floe, saluting sharply as he reached the entrance ramp of towering dust red Leviathan. The rolls of regimental banners attached to its high battlements swelled and billowed in the humid wind. A phalanx of Gespote Life Guards ushered him forward with a tilt of their psi-spears, and the Halvador strode up the ramp. He passed through a corridor lined with bundles of power leads, before ducking under an incense-drenched gauze curtain.

Below him lay a spectacle of bustle and confusion; dozens of tri-legged servitors churned through reels of tactica-input, stacks of master vox-units constantly emitted a stream of white noise and garbled commands, and sweating adjutants ran back and forth between the steaming caffeine machine and their irate superiors, who were puzzling over a gigantic spherical holo-pict in the centre of the enormous chamber. Signon narrowly avoided a careening servo skull, and stepped out of the open lift onto the floor of the sprawling chamber. He weaved between smoking vox-units and flaxen haired messengers, until he found a grumpy looking man with a bright white moustache and a glinting suit of polished gold carapace armour, who had just finished draining a huge flagon of caffeine. Signon saluted, the sharp metallic click of his spurs almost lost in the cacophony of babbling voices and whirring machinery.

“My Lord, I have aerial reconnaissance reports of a strange, as yet unidentifiable object in sector Versus C-12.”

The Chief Vernicular lazily extended one gauntleted hand, and Signon thrust the crumple of greasy paper into it. For a few seconds, the moustache quivered like a pulsating bush, as its owner scanned the report.

“Assemble a cohort, Halvador. This is doubtless further trickery from the abominable traitors. Locate the target, and destroy it. Identification is optional.”

Signon saluted tiredly once more, before turning and marching quickly towards the exit, as another gaggle of officers vied for the Chief Vernicular’s attention.

* * * * * *

The chimeras trundled across the sprawling steppes, great banks of dust and oil fumes stretching out behind them. Signon cantered alongside the lead vehicle, dashing his spurs against his charger’s flanks as the chimera hit a smooth stretch of rock and accelerated with a guttural roar. Galloping to keep up with the tank, the Halvador took one hand off his reins and signalled to the Jalpion leaning nonchalantly out of the chimera’s cupola. He watched the thick line of smoke that poured from the man’s Lho stick merge with the dense clouds of dust and fumes kicked up by the convoy.

“Larcen!” Signon yelled over the growl of a dozen straining engines, “Target around two klicks away, proceed with caution!”

Larcen nodded, stubbing out his Lho and ducking back down into the tank.

Then the horizon fell away before them.

The chimera skidded to a halt with a squeal of brakes, and Signon yanked hard on his reins. His charger reared up, before its hooves crashed down onto the edge of the cliff, sending loose stones tumbling down into the valley hundreds of feet below. The cliff edge had been so sudden, if the driver had noticed the tiny line of inconsistency just one second later, doubtless the chimera would have careened over the lip. More chunks of rock crumbled and fell away into the abyss, and the chimera began to teeter dangerously down, as first the multi-laser, then the front hull, then almost half the tank protruded out over the edge of the rapidly receding cliff edge. The rest of the convoy had screeched to a halt, and men were climbing out of their tanks hauling tow cables, and running towards the teetering vehicle.

Signon dismounted and sauntered towards the struggling men, leading his horse by the reins. Jalpion Carlow was coordinating the rescue, hooking up tow cables to the rear of the vehicle. But with every heave the teams of men on each cable gave, the tank simply slipped nearer to disaster. The crew of the chimera were attempting to leave the vehicle, Jalpion Larcen balancing precariously on the edge of the hull, edging slowly towards safety, trying desperately to avoid unbalancing the vehicle and plunging it down into the valley.

As the teams of men gave another heave, and the tracks of the vehicle dug deeper into the disintegrating rocks, trying to find a purchase, Carlow turned to Signon, sweat glistening on his prominent brow.

“Carlow, how long will it take?” said Signon, a hard glint in his eyes. Carlow swallowed. He’d fought under the Halvador before, and knew his callous methods. The Nexius Massacre, Cariblis VI, The Juni’ver Cleansings; so many good men… He bit his lip.

“If I’m being honest, Halvador, we’ll have to tow it with another chimera, and we’ll have to take it slowly. An hour I suppose, though if we’re lucky –”

Signon cut him off with a tired gesture.

“I’m sorry, but we must crack on.”

He turned, and walked back to his charger, leaving the Jalpion to give the order. As Larcen and his crew began to scream and yell, realising what was happening, the teams of men did as they were ordered, and let the cables fall.

The tank disappeared with a rushing whoosh, and the screaming faded.

“We go round!” shouted Signon, as the drivers began to gun their engines once more. Signon cantered back along to the rear of the convoy, where the rest of his cavalry were waiting, horses whinnying and stamping as the combat drugs pumping through their veins took hold. The Jalpion, a gaunt man named Bercruik, looked up from trying to calm his frothing charger.

“Halvador, what’s the hold-up?”

“Oh, nothing. We’ll have reached the target before nightfall.”

“Good. Our horses will peak around that time. But we cannot afford further delays.”

The Halvador nodded, and noticed with the same feeling of excitement that always accompanied it, that his own charger had started to sweat blood.

The convoy began to move off, and Signon spurred his mount onwards, the clop of a hundred and twenty galloping hooves drowned out only by the roar of the chimeras’ engines.

As he rode, Signon barely registered the lone scrap of paper fluttering towards him on the humid wind. It bucked and rose in the air currents, and for a moment hung right in front of his eyes.

On it was printed a single word.

But then it was gone, lost almost instantly in the rolling dust banks.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-28-10, 05:50 PM
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I'm happy to see that you already have some fans at this early stage... Considering the five star rating... Hehehe.... It was good but it was all too fast for me...

Try slowing the pace a bit... K?... Expecting the next installment...

Cheers!....
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-28-10, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice, I've always found pacing a problem with my writing, but I'm working on it.

Here's the next section:

* * * * * *

The convoy sped like a streak of sludge round the arcing curve of the valley, the rocky cliff gradually sloping down to form a colossal bowl of scarlet sand.

As they reached the windswept floor, Signon halted the lead chimera with a gesture, and sent five of his cavalry forward to locate and report back on the objective.

With the vehicles’ engines idling, and the galloping of the scouts fading into the distance, he waited impatiently with Jalpion Carlow and Bercruik, as the crescent sun began to set, illuminating the windswept sands with a glowing blue brilliance. The harsh shadows cast by the chimeras’ mudguards played on the ground, flickering as the sun slowly died.

Darkness fell, and the tanks’ searchlights powered up one by one. Signon glanced at his fog-chron for the fiftieth time, and noticed with growing unease that now nineteen minutes had passed since the scouts set off.

Bercruik was growing nervous, constantly stroking his charger, as the beast’s flesh bubbled and rose, its muscles pulsating with blood. The frenzied horse was whinnying piteously, stamping the hard ground with bloodlust. It would peak soon, and if it hadn’t sated its thirst by then, Bercruik would be forced to shoot the beast.

Signon checked his own charger, running his hands through its glistening mane and eyeing its frothing jaws. The rest of the cavalry were in a similar state of unease, each man cursing the missing scouts under his breath as their horses’ pupils began to dilate rapidly, alternating between pale, luminescent green and blazing orange. They could only wait a few more minutes at most.

Signon stared into the darkness, trying to penetrate the oblique blackness of the dusty plain.

“What in Holy Terra’s happened to them?” muttered Carlow, peering down the sight of his baroque hellgun.

A shot rang out, dizzyingly loud. The now frenzied horses started violently, and Signon and Carlow spun round, side arms raised.

Bercruik was standing over the still twitching corpse of his charger, his personal bolt pistol smoking. A single tear rang down his grime stained cheek, but his eyes were cold and black.

“Lets go,” he said, leaping up onto the sideboard of the lead chimera, “Before the rest of them peak.”

The Halvador nodded, raising one hand to signal the advance. Although moving straight into what could easily be an ambush went against every teaching in the Tactica Imperialis, and he should by all accounts have sent out more scouts, they could ill afford to lose more chargers. It would break the men’s morale surer than an amasec ban. Then again, Signon doubted whatever was out there would stand a chance against a full phalanx of peaking cavalry; in his entire career, he’d never met anything that had.

The convoy raced forward, the chimera drivers opening their throttles wide, speeding over the gentle dunes in a blur of gunmetal and noxious exhaust fumes. The cavalry galloped ahead of them, hooves pounding the ground, churning up the sands, red sweat glistening in the folds of bubbling muscle as the berserk chargers tore across the plain. The wind whipped like a scourge through Signon’s lank hair, streaming it out behind him as he galloped faster than he’d ever galloped in his life, blood-tinged spittle from his charger’s frothing jaws soaking him to the skin. He was outpacing the straining chimeras behind, the inner flesh of his thighs raw and bloody, flaps of skin disintegrating against the relentless motion of the starched leather of his jodhpurs on the saddle.

Gharcto was now in the lead, his ashen charger in full peak, leg muscles swelled to double their natural sise, tearing along at an equal pace to Vertruci’s customised chimera, the over-charged engine screaming as it was pushed to its limits and beyond. Bercruik clung onto the chimera’s sideboard rail, howling like a madman, the flesh on his cheekbones rippling backwards as the winds battered him like a scrap of paper caught on the wing of a valkyrie. He was clinging on by one straining hand, his legs kicking in the wind, like a contorted swimmer battled against a river in full flood.

Signon watched, as time seemed to grind to a halt, and the charger and chimera flew over a dune, suspended in the air for a single second, before crashing down onto the churning sand with a screech of straining metal and muscle.

Then they were gone.

Strands of crackling matter streamed off them, lost to the roaring winds.

Signon leapt off his charger at the last moment, landing hard on top of the dune, and rolled into a crouch just in time to see it hit the ground and then dissolve in just the same way, without a sound.

Three chimeras were bearing down on him, and he had no choice but to throw himself to ground as they soared over his head, before clearing the dune, crashing to the ground, and vanishing.

Ten peaking chargers were galloping towards him now, and he leapt to his feet, waving his arms and yelling hoarsely for them to stop. But it was too late. They were past him, and gone.

He could only watch helplessly, as seven more chimeras and thirty more chargers cleared the dune in quick succession, unable to heed his now frenzied warnings in time. As the last charger dissipated to the winds, the Halvador stumbled forward, gazing down on whatever horror lay at the bottom of the dune.

There was nothing. Just endless, rolling sands. And a few fluttering scraps of paper.

He stepped forward, sweeping the distant horizon, searching for any kind of enemy. Nothing.

Then he was slipping, falling, rolling down the slope to land with a dull thump. The last he knew was of a building roar, as a tornado of blindingly bright paper exploded into the desert, scattering his atoms to the winds, and blanketing the sands with white.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-28-10, 08:03 PM
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Good work Pip, glad to see another Black-Librarian on Heresy. Please, do continue. Oh and enjoy some rep

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-28-10, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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'lo DA, nice to see a familiar face
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-31-10, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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The Chief Vernicular studied the wafer with some scrutiny, as though further inspection would reveal what in the Emperor’s Name it meant.

He slammed it down on the trestle table, scattering a swarm of nearby servo-skulls. The noise of the bustling Leviathan Operations Room was deafening, a never-ending barrage of bleeping vox-units and panting messengers, occasionally punctuated by shouting as a pair of tacticians argued over where the enemy was hiding its backup fuel reserves. Massaging his creased temple with his fingertips, he strode over to the nearest porthole, staring out into the blackness. He could see the pale dusty ground lit up by the Leviathan’s service lights, and the Gespote Life guard on duty, his psi-spear held erect, the only movement his quiet fumbling as he tried to roll a Lho stick without dropping his spear.

Without warning, the wind picked up, wailing like a choir of lost souls even through the thick glass. To the Chief Vernicular’s astonishment, the porthole was suddenly blocked by a mass of flapping paper, that seemed to be whirling round outside the Leviathan, a hurricane of white. He blinked several times, but the same image confronted him. A sea of speeding paper.

He turned away from the porthole, vowing to cut down on his caffeine intake, and called for his aide. The man hurried over, dodging an adolescent messenger, and saluted sharply.

“Lerdic, read this,” he brandished the wafer in the aide’s face, “it must be some kind of mistake.”

“No, I don’t think so, My Lord. I distinctly remember typing this one out myself, and the source was very clear. Halvador Faust, I believe it was. He said his squadron of ornithopters had been conducting sweep of Versus C-12, to check on Halvador Signon’s cohort’s progress, and they’d found the entire sector devoid of any life-readings. They checked it three times, with the same result. I said I’d inform you, and told him to go down and check it with his own eyes. Sounded most odd to me, My Lord.”

“An entire cohort? Vanished? This must be some preposterous error, or trickery from the traitors. When is Faust due back?”

The words had scarcely left the Chief Vernicular’s lips when there was a great commotion from the doorway on the opposite side of the sprawling open plan chamber, and three men entered. Two of them were clad in pilot’s suits, and the Chief Vernicular recognised Halvador Faust by his shoulder stripes. However, the hunched figure the two pilots were supporting was wearing strange, dirty khaki fatigues with green armour. The Chief Vernicular pushed through the crowd of curious onlookers, and addressed Faust.

“Halvador, what is this?”

“My Lord, as your aide instructed, we checked the valley were Signon’s cohort were last reported, and we found,” Faust gestured to the man he was supporting, “… him.”

The Chief Vernicular examined the man properly for the first time. He was obviously badly wounded; blood dripped from gaping gashes in his chest and head onto the plush floor, and one leg was twisted and gangrenous. He was breathing heavily, each grating rasp seemingly demanding exponentially more effort. On closer inspection, the Chief Vernicular realised that he’d seen the man’s uniform before, and that he recognised the emblem on his scarred and pitted shoulder pad. It was a white gate. The man was a Cadian Shock trooper, a defender of the most strategically vital world in the Imperium.

Even as the Chief Vernicular prepared to speak, the man collapsed forward, throwing up black gouts of blood and slimy chunks of phlegm, lung, and what looked strangely like wet paper.

He looked up into the Chief Vernicular’s eyes.

“Cadia has fallen.”
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-31-10, 09:56 AM
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Nice little piece here Pip (The 4th BL-er I've noticed around here). Eagerly awaiting another installment.

In fact that reminds me, I need to put up chap 8 of my story. Cya around!

-TJ

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Last edited by TheJolt; 04-02-10 at 09:14 AM.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-31-10, 10:21 AM
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Good to see it's not only the Bolthole that appreciates this Pip
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-31-10, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for reading Jolt

Hi TU! Didn't realise you were on here as well. How many bolt-ers are on here?






Chapter One

+++Starboard Storage Hanger, The Indomitable Jwelmalark, Cadian Sector, the Empyrean.+++




The sliver of paper flits in and out of the darkness, floating on the artificial breeze. On it is written a word, and that word is

-d-------------~-----~--------------~----
--------------------------~-----~------------------
-----e-------~--------------------~---------
----~-----------~--------------~-~----~-----
---------a-------~-----~-----------~--~----------------
---~-------------------------~------~----------
-------------t
---~--------------

All was nig h t.

Thick, viscous darkness enveloped a pair of crouched figures, swathing them in a sprawling cloak of black. One of the figures rose, a silhouette outlined in darkness. He flicked on his micro bead with one gloved hand, his fingers effortlessly finding the worn activation stud.

“Kirschwind. Jelho in position. Confirm status of Greyscar. Over,” he whispered into the bead, as the other figure rose, fiddling with her weapon.

“Jelho, affirmative. Greyscar in position. Delta niner-niner wilco on exit three. Over.”

“Roger that, Kirschwind. Jelho moving out. Over.”

“Copy that, Jelho. Out.”

The link went dead and he nodded to the other figure. The pair began to run along the walkway. Gusts of recycled air pummelled them from all sides as they sprinted past the giant pressure conditioning fans, the whirring swish of the heavy blades masking the quiet patter of their boots on the corrugated iron floor. They weaved in and out of bulky maintenance blocks, dodged stacks of crates, and vaulted between gaping holes in the rusting walkways. After five minutes, they stopped behind a thick support cable. Wiping the condensation from his visor, the man leant out past the cable down into the dark void. Below him, the colossal hanger stretched out into the blackness. Occasional oil bulbs flickered with pale orange luminescence, lending a surreal glow to their immediate area.

He switched on the miniature flashlight built into his gauntlet, and began unpacking the lightweight grappling lines from his backpack. They clipped one end to their harnesses, and the other to the sturdy support cable, before stepping calmly into nothingness. The thin synthetic ropes were as strong as steel, and easily held the pairs’ armoured weight as they began to winch carefully down towards the distant hangar floor.

Inch by inch they slid down through the darkness. The ropes swayed gently in the artificial breeze, and the only sound was the pfutt-pink, pfutt-pink of the winches, and rasp of their shallow breathing.

Gunfire rang out across the hangar, echoing hollowly on the serried ranks of stacked crates. They froze, clamping their eyes shut to save their night vision, swinging slowly like bloated spiders on a thread. The firing stopped

All was still.

They began to lower themselves again, slower this time, and more warily. Soon they were halfway down, and the tower of storage crates directly below them could just be picked out in the faint glow of an oil bulb.

Now they were just ten metres from the top of the highest crate. As they prepared to lower the winch once more, a thick beam of blinding light swept across the cavernous hangar. The pair held their breath, as the searchlight played over the crate towers towards them. The beam slipped under them, scant metres from their dangling boots.

Letting out a sigh of relief, they quickly let out the winches and dropped the last ten metres, landing heavily on the top of the crate. They unclipped their harnesses and rolled into the famed Volscani combat crouch, lasguns pointing down into the darkness.

~Looks clear~ signed the man quickly.

The woman nodded, before leaping gracefully down onto the next crate. A bright purple lasbolt plucked her out of the air mid-jump, slamming her bodily against the side of the crate tower. The man swore under his breath, rolling back from the lip as a spray of bolts flashed over his head, or pitted themselves in the thick gunmetal of the crate lid. He waited as the barrage continued, tallying the shots as they flew past him; twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-eight, thirty – a whole magazine. As the last shot cleared his head, he was up and firing, lacerating the ground below. He saw a sentry stumbling hastily backwards, trying desperately to reload his weapon with one hand, whilst clutching at his knee with the other. The man smiled nastily under his visor, before pumping the rest of his magazine into the sentry’s chest, spinning him backwards and out of sight.

The man squinted into the darkness below. To his left he heard a coughing roar, the sound of a hastily revved engine. He calmly popped out the empty magazine, inserted a fresh one, and jumped.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-10, 09:15 AM
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Once again quite a nice piece here. Keep it up!

-TJ

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