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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-24-10, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum and thought I would post up my first 40K fanfic, which I recently completed. This is the first of fifteen parts. Hope you like it! Comments and feedback would be much appreciated.

------------------------------------

One foot in front of the other. Over and over and over and over.

Mikael trudged through the ruins of Valerion, dozens of other guardsmen spread out around him. All walked as he did; listless and lethargic, their energy sapped by the months of relentless conflict. Even the captain and the commissar had given up trying to force a greater pace from the men; perhaps they viewed any progress made as a triumph of sorts. Perhaps their spirits were as enervated as those of the men they commanded. Mikael didn’t know. Didn’t care.

A piece of rubble shifted under his foot and Mikael’s ankle twisted. He flung out a hand to catch himself as he fell, hissing under his breath as a stone dug into his palm. He slowly got to his feet, wincing slightly as he put his weight on his ankle. It seemed fine. At the beginning of their campaign in Valerion, Mikael would have cursed quite graphically if such a thing had happened; the priest attached to their regiment had told him on more than one occasion that he had a remarkably foul mouth. Now, however, it had happened so many times that he no longer had the energy. He started forward, stopping after a few seconds as a thought occurred to him. He went back, and retrieved his lasrifle.

Nobody else seemed to have noticed.

Valerion stretched around him in all directions, or at least what remained of it. Every square inch of the city seemed to have been fought over at one time or another; every road had been churned up by explosions and coated in rubble from toppled structures. Not one building had avoided being damaged. Most had been ripped apart by explosions, or had their interiors gutted by fire. Now only the skeletal remnants of the once-proud structures still stood. They reminded Mikael of blackened, bony fingers protruding from the earth; clawing at the sky as if pleading for succour. There would be no aid from there, though. Mikael didn’t look at the sky any more; nobody did.

They didn’t like what it had become.

The distant rumble of explosions was constant, to the point that Mikael barely noticed it any more, except in his dreams. There it was Valerion’s heartbeat; the stuttering, irregular spasms of a failing organ. Sometimes he dreamt that the heart faltered and finally stopped, expelling a great torrent of semi-congealed blood to ooze through the streets and parks of the city, coating everything with the texture and foetid stench of death. In his darker waking moments, and they were many, he reflected that such a vision was not all that far from the truth.

He wondered just when his dreams would become reality. Would he even notice?

A scream split the air, and everyone stopped walking. It was an anguished howl, ripped from the throat of someone in tremendous pain. Just the sound of it told Mikael that whoever, or whatever, had given voice to the cry did not have long to live.

A whistle blew, and Mikael looked round. It was the captain.

“Forward, men”, he bellowed. “For the Emperor!”

Mikael clutched his lasrifle tightly to his chest, hesitating for a brief moment. A figure approached, clad in a once-black trench-coat now so stained by dust and blood that barely a hint of its former colour remained. The commissar. He looked deep into Mikael’s eyes.

“You heard the captain”, he hissed. “Forward!”

Mikael began to run. The scream echoed inside his head.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-24-10, 03:26 PM
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Firstly: Welcome to Heresy. Now, onto the actual story: An excellent opening, Tyrant (Not even gonna attempt to type that name...). I can't help but to imagine Stalingrad during WW2 when reading this, although I am sure that Mikael's name doesn't help that I look forwards to more mate, finally get to read this from the start now! Plus rep, keep up the good work (...I am sure you will.)

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 #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-24-10, 07:13 PM
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Well... Ty... I've already read and commented over on BLBH, but this is an incredibly epic story, +rep


Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories Challenge 13-06: "Serenity" has started, get your stories in by July 11th!

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3. Nothing Boc said should ever be taken seriously. Unless he's talking about being behind you. Then you run like fuck.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-25-10, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Boc, I know you've seen this before, the comment is appreciated anyway!

DA- good to hear from you, hope the rest of the story doesn't disappoint! Speaking of which, the next part will be up right about..........now.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-25-10, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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The guardsmen moved quickly down the road to where it became a t-junction, turning left without hesitation. The air was still, and the sound of the screams was easy enough to follow.

The screaming.

It never truly stopped, only paused for periods of no more than five or ten seconds. Long enough, Mikael imagined, for a heaving chest to suck in a few more lungfuls of air, long enough for a ravaged voice to gain enough strength to scream again. And again.

And again.

Soon that sound was the only thing that Mikael could truly hear. The rapid pounding of the guardsmen's feet across the rubble-strewn ground, the rasping of his breath, the yells of the commissar to pick up the pace: all faded into nothing. Only the screaming remained.

Mikael rounded another corner, and saw that the guardsmen ahead of him had stopped. He slowed his pace, raising his lasrifle and scanning the surrounding buildings for any sign of enemy forces. Nothing. It looked like a firestorm had swept along this road at some time in the past, every building appeared burned out. Their windows were little more than ragged holes, the rooms beyond seemed utterly dark. They reminded him of gaping, empty eye sockets.

In the centre of the road was a chimera troop transport, parked at an awkward angle as if it had been abandoned there. Its rear ramp was down, but something was sprawled across it. A body.

The corpse was that of a man, dressed in their brown regimental uniform. It was heavily stained by dust, but not as badly as those of Mikael and the other guardsmen. As he drew closer, he saw a small hole in the centre of the guardsman's forehead, its edges neatly cauterised. Mikael had seen that kind of wound countless times before. It had been caused by a lasrifle.

The man's eyes were open, staring sightlessly upwards. Mikael looked at them, and for a brief moment saw a faint image of the sky reflected in their glazed surfaces. Nausea bit into his stomach and he looked away. Another guardsman crouched down and carefully pushed the eyelids shut.

For a few brief moments, Mikael had blotted the screaming out. Now it returned, far louder than before. When each scream ceased he could hear deep, rasping breaths for a few seconds before the next agonised howl began.

On the other side of the chimera, four more guardsmen lay on the ground. Three were facing in different directions, as if they had been trying to run for cover. Each had wounds caused by lasfire across their bodies, but also had a single shot to the centre of the forehead, just as the first body had.

The fourth guardsman was the one who had been screaming all this time. Eight of Mikael's comrades stood in a loose ring around him, but still the man's cries continued unabated. None of them moved to help him, even though so close to him the man's screams must have been almost unbearable. Irritated, Mikael pushed his way through them and looked down at the guardsman, then stepped back almost immediately.

The man's body was rigid; arms tight against his sides and legs together, as if he were ready to be buried. The heaving of his chest was the only visible indicator that he was still alive. From the neck down he looked perfectly ordinary, just another guardsman. The head, however, was another matter.

His expression was a mask of horror; mouth gaping so wide that the muscles in the lower part of his face were pulled taut and stood prominent beneath his pallid skin. His lips were cracked; split wide open, with dried blood smeared across his chin. His lower jaw quivered slightly as he continued to scream, but apart from that, his head remained motionless. The guardsman's eyes were the worst of all.

They were gone.

In their place were twin pools of congealed blood that filled the sockets entirely. The area around the eyes was completely free of blood, or any other sign of injury.

Mikael had been in the Imperial Guard for thirteen years, and in that time had seen things that most people could never even imagine. Despite that, this was easily one of the most horrifying. By all rights, with such injuries the man should have died long before. Yet he still lived.

What bothered him just as much was the reaction of his fellow guardsmen. They simply stood, and stared. Mikael could well understand not wanting to get too close to the injured man, but why wasn’t anyone calling for help, instead of just standing there?

Why wasn’t he?

“Get out of my way, you fools!” The commissar stepped into the circle, and stared down at the screaming man lying on the ground. Mikael saw his face twist, and for a moment the commissar looked as if he were about to speak. Instead, in one smooth motion, he pulled his bolt pistol from its holster and fired a single shot into the man’s chest.

The detonation of the bolt shell blew the man’s torso open, and his body jerked upwards like a rag doll before flopping back to the ground. For a long, impossible moment, he continued to scream, his mouth seeming to gape even wider than before. Fresh blood glistened on his lips as the cracks split open again. Then, finally, the sound ceased.

“Krayn! By the throne, why did you do that?” It was the captain who spoke. Mikael suddenly realised that he had been one of the eight guardsmen standing around the wounded man, just watching him scream.

Krayn stared at the captain, his expression utterly cold. “His cries were giving away our position to the enemy”, he replied.

The captain and the commissar locked gazes for a few seconds; the rest of the guardsmen said nothing and just watched warily. This was not the first time that the two had clashed during the campaign, and Mikael was sure it would not be the last. He was so used to it that he felt little more than a faint contempt for their posturing.

The captain was the first to back down, taking a pace backwards and looking around. His eyes narrowed as he took in the sight of dozens of guardsmen standing around, watching him.

“What are you idiots doing?” He snapped. “Throne, have you forgotten everything you were taught in training? I want a perimeter established now! Teams of two will sweep the buildings; whoever did this could still be in the area. Get to it!”

The captain began selecting teams with flicks of his fingers. Mikael and another guardsman were assigned a building about two dozen metres away, close to where the rubble from a toppled hab-complex had blocked off the road almost completely.

As he started to move, Mikael glanced back at the corpse of the screaming guardsman. The commissar’s kill-shot had jolted the body, and the man’s head now lay on its side. The congealed blood inside his eye sockets had oozed down the man’s face and on to the road surface. Mikael watched the blood slowly spread outwards, and for a brief moment he could hear the irregular rhythm of a diseased heart, pounding somewhere in the distance.

He shuddered, and looked away.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-25-10, 11:39 AM
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This is a great story as Boc and DA have pointed out man keep it up. +rep

No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear!
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-25-10, 02:35 PM
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The newest part was superb. The screaming Guardsman-thingy was darkly delightful, and now I am left wondering as to what exactly it was (I don't think it was a normal injured dude, after all..). The moment when the Captain turns up was rather tense and I applaud you for successfully pulling that of, it was.....Well, brilliant. Looking forwards to the next part now mate

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 #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-25-10, 02:51 PM
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great work, it seems brilliant so far.

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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-26-10, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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As they drew closer, Mikael was able to get a better look at the building they had been ordered to search. It looked like a hab-block, a small one at that. He estimated that the building was probably only large enough for a dozen or so habs. The sort of accommodation that middle-management types could afford; senior Administratum clerks and the like. More up-market than where the majority of Valerion’s population would have lived.

At least, it had been. It looked like it had been severely damaged by fire; the top of the block seemed to have collapsed, and the glass in the windows had blown out and now littered the ground in front of the building. Mikael dodged the fragments wherever he could but avoiding them all wasn’t possible, and he was painfully aware that the loud crunching their footsteps made would advertise their presence to anyone inside.

He crouched beside the entrance to the block, the other guardsman just behind him. He listened for a few seconds, but could hear nothing apart from the ever-present sound of explosions and warfare somewhere in the distance. Pressing the stock of his lasrifle into his shoulder, Mikael stepped through the entrance and immediately moved to one side, to give the other man room to enter as well as to minimise the time he was exposed in the doorway.

Mikael blinked rapidly to help his eyes adjust. They were in a small lobby; to the right was a flight of stairs leading upwards. To the left of the staircase was a short passageway; he could see several doorways set into the walls. He motioned for the other guardsman to watch the stairs and stepped forward carefully, gaze flicking between the sight of his lasrifle and the floor in front of him, ensuring that his feet didn’t disturb anything and make a noise that might betray his presence.

The first two doors were locked, but the third door was open. Moving toward it, Mikael cast a quick glance at the area underneath the stairs, but there was nothing there. The room beyond the doorway was a supply closet; shelving on one wall held various cleaning products, and several mops lay on the floor near the door. There was no sign that anyone had been in there recently.

Mikael turned to move back towards the lobby entrance, and caught sight of the floor underneath the staircase. His eyes narrowed. He could see something there now, that he hadn't seen the last time that he had looked. He stepped closer.

It was a plant.

Only a few inches tall, its stem disappeared into a crack in the flooring. It had eight slender leaves, each a vivid green. He stared at it, unable to remember the last time he had seen such a shade of green, the colour of healthy life. Certainly not since he had entered Valerion. For a moment he was tempted to reach out and touch it, to feel the texture of the leaves between his fingers.

Mikael stood up, forcing himself to focus. He had a job to do, he couldn’t afford to let himself get distracted like this. He moved back to the foot of the stairs, where the other guardsman was waiting. Mikael shook his head, indicating that he had found nothing. The guardsman nodded, and motioned up to the next floor. Mikael started to nod, then hesitated. What was the man’s name?

It took him several seconds to think of it, and when he remembered it the name came with a sense of shame that he had forgotten, however briefly. The guardsman was Leon Haem, they had fought together for years on half a dozen different worlds. How could he have forgotten that?

Haem was staring at him, probably wondering what the delay was. Mikael nodded sharply, and the other man started up the stairs, Mikael close behind him.

This floor of the block had suffered significant fire damage. Every wall was blackened and scorched, and the air was thick with the stench of burning. The corridor doubled back on itself and ran parallel to the staircase before turning back round again and meeting another flight of stairs. A window in the far wall provided some illumination, but everything was so blackened by the flames that had swept through here that it seemed very dark.

There was a single door, charred and cracked, but still standing closed in its doorway. Haem tried the handle and pushed gently, then shook his head. No good. Either the door was locked or, more likely, the heat had warped the door and its frame so that it could not be opened without considerable effort. That meant they would have to make a noisy entrance. Mikael pointed his lasrifle at the doorway and waited while Haem stood against the opposite wall, then lunged forward.

It took two kicks to get the door open; it slammed back and hit the corridor wall before rebounding towards them. Mikael was already halfway into the hab though and stopped the door with his shoulder, his attention focussed on what was inside. At the end of a short passageway was what looked like a kitchen; two doors on either side of the corridor led into other rooms. Mikael moved to the first door on the left, Haem taking the right side of the corridor. They made no effort to move quietly; any element of surprise they might have had was long gone. Speed was of the essence now.

The first room had several chairs set up facing a vidscreen that was attached to one wall. There had been a fire here as well; the vidscreen was broken in half and the rest of the furniture had been wrecked. Clouds of ash kicked up by their entrance hung in the air and Mikael had to stifle the urge to cough.

"Clear!" He yelled, and moments later an identical cry came from Haem. He left the living room and moved up to the second room on the left side of the corridor. A bathroom. No space in there for anyone to hide. He stepped into the kitchen as Haem entered the remaining room. Nothing there either. There was a worktop in the centre of the kitchen and various appliances lined the walls. Ladles, spatulas and the like hung from long hooks embedded in the ceiling above the worktop.

Mikael entered the corridor and a few seconds later Haem joined him.

"All clear", Haem said. "No sign that anyone has been here".

"Same", Mikael replied. "We should....."

Movement to his left.

Mikael turned and dropped to a crouch, raising his lasrifle as he did so. The shadows in the kitchen were moving; he counted one, no, two figures; their outlines vague but nevertheless they were there, moving towards the doorway. With Haem following he threw himself into the kitchen, finger tightening on the trigger.....

The room was empty. Nothing had changed, except that the kitchen implements hanging from the ceiling were swaying back and forth, as if stirred by a slight breeze. Mikael just stood there, unable to make sense of it. There was no other way out of the room, and nowhere for anyone to hide. Yet he was certain that he had seen something.

"You saw it too, didn't you?"

"Definitely", Haem replied, looking just as confused as Mikael felt. "It must have been the ladles and stuff swinging, made the shadows move".

"Maybe". Mikael nodded, although he was far from convinced. They had certainly looked like figures.

"Let's keep going".

They left the hab and moved to the bottom of the next flight of stairs. When they looked up, however, they saw that the next floor was sealed off. At the top of the stairs it looked like the walls and ceiling had caved in; blackened joists protruded from a heap of shattered brickwork and sheets of plaster. There was no way through.

Mikael and Haem headed back to the ground floor, each looking into the hab as they passed the entrance, but this time there was no sign of movement. At the foot of the stairs, Mikael paused.

"Go on ahead, okay? I'll be with you in a second". Haem looked at him curiously, but shrugged and left. Mikael walked through the lobby towards the area underneath the first flight of stairs. He wanted to look at the plant again. It was slightly odd, he knew that, but even so. Who could tell how long it would be before he would get to see another? He reached the back of the staircase and crouched down.

The plant was gone.

Mikael stared, then rubbed his eyes, as if doing so might make the plant magically reappear. Still nothing. He leaned forward, and scrutinised every inch of the flooring. When he had first seen it, the plant had been growing out of a small crack in the flooring, but even that was missing. There was no sign that the plant had ever been there.

Mikael got to his feet and clutched his lasrifle more tightly, suddenly aware that he was alone in a dark building. It just didn't make any sense. He was positive that he had seen the plant there, just as he had seen the shadows move upstairs. There had to be an explanation. He was exhausted, he knew he was. That had to be it. Fatigue was making his mind play tricks on him.

Or he was going mad.

All he knew for certain was that he wanted to be away from here as soon as possible.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-26-10, 05:35 PM
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Cool stuff. Is it finished...
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