Suffer the Alien...
His eyes flickered open. Pain. Glare. Shadows. He closed them again, grit and blood in his lashes making it painful.
He was alive! Try the eyes again. He opened them, just a squint, then blinked a few times. Colours began to filter through the drifting smoke. Leafy green branches began to blur into focus. A purple-blue sky, two wan suns. Should he try and sit up? No Wait! At the very thought, his heart began to pound faster. Maybe not. Maybe not - wait.
After what seemed like an age, he managed a wheezing breath. He had not realised he had been holding it until now. Awareness began to teaze the edge of his senses. The smell of roasted earth. Blood. Fruit? But no sound as yet though, other than a dull buzzing sensation in his ears. Blood pumping through his skull?
Continuing his examination, he tried to move his arms. He could move them. Good. His blurry vision took in the green-grey clothing he was dressed in, it was shredded, and covered in dirt. He began to pat himself down with some trepidation. No gaping holes!
Relief. He became aware of the creeping feeling of pins and needles as he moved. He clenched his fists slowly at first, then quicker. Where was he? Time for that later he had more pressing concerns.
Legs next! Yes very important. He jumped, startled! Something had emited a shrill call from the tree above him. He focused with his still smarting eyes upwards. A bird. Sort of bird. It hooted again then flew off, uniterested. So his hearing had returned.
Legs then. Pat, check first. Still there. Relief. He moved them. Lifted his knees slightly. Pain! Pain in the lower back. But pain was good, if can still feel them - back not broken. He groaned as he streched both at the same time, they still worked. They worked!
Thank the Emperor! Emperor? Two headed bird. Throne. Aquila, Golden. A focus. The Emperor. His Emperor! With this memory stark in his mind he tried to concentrate through the dull throbbing. An Emperor, the guardian of mankind. Guardian? Gaurd? The GAURD. He was in the gaurd, yes. His memories flickered to and fro, a flag a colour. Red.... Blood. Crimson...... Crimson, Crimson Blades! His unit, the Blades. Pride in these images comforted him briefly, settled his nerves somewhat. That was the who. Now the where.
His mind was becoming less befuddled. He scanned the area, training begining to kick in and rationalise his predicament. Bags of torn sand, the smoking ruin of a large caliber weapon. Bodies! He sat up! And almost passed out again. He was in a heavy weapons nest, probably bolter. The rest of the crew just meat or motes of ash on the wind. Taking it slowly, he sat up again in order to see better.
His head still hurt and vision was still slightly blured in his left eye. But he begain to take in more detail. They had dug in on a ridge overlooking a roadway used by enemy and the turncoats that served them. The thought of traitors made him angry. More angry than the thought of the xenos they had joined with.
Memory of a torn poster on a wall of a smiling woman next to a blue skinned aberration. The words 'Promote the Greater Good' in heavy stylised script. The realistaion of who the foemen were triggered momentary panic. Suddenly, he noticed a half buried canteen a few feet away, strangely undamaged within the carnage of the nest. He was wracked by a sponatneous raging thirst. He grasped the tan container and gulped down the still hot, leather tasting water. In mid swallow he recalled which planet they were on.
Vorpal V! That was the hell hole he sat on. The 'Blades, plus some other regiments he could not remember at the moment had been assigned to deal with the Planet wide sessionist movement. Led by the planetary governer they had severed their Imperial ties and embraced the xenos filth's doctrine of galaxy wide cooperation. Misguided fools. Traitors.
His head swam. He began to sip water as opposed to the frantic thirst quenching quaffing he had started with. He was troubled though, in broad terms his amnesia was fading. He could remember generic things now, but more personal details like his name, rank etc. Still eluded him. He looked for any clue. His uniform was in muddy tatters. Any sigils of rank and the surounding cloth were missing. His tags were gone. He sighed, grimacing as he did so, as pain grasped his bruised, singed lungs.
He was becoming less dizzy. His thirst had been quneched for the moment, he was in one piece and his guard training was kicking in. He needed to take stock and pro-activley seek his regiment. A weapon was required. His sidearm and hip holster were gone but he spotted a replacement. The torso of the corpse nearest had a shoulder rig contaning what looked like a las-pistol. He did not trust his legs enough yet to stand, so crawled over to the stinking remains. Focusing on the task at hand due to proximity of the very obvious and horrific death, he unclipped the piece and felt its weight. It was an old Pheris pattern 'longnose', the elongated barrel giving it its nickname. A good weapon, servicable. But it felt wrong. He knew not why.
Groaning as he adjusted the rig and strapped it on he searched for power cells and found several still servicable scattered about the site. The heavy bolter was just molten slag. The heat from its amunnition cooking off had turned the adjacent sand to glass. Further scavenging drew up two lasguns which were to damaged to use and an autorifle with 'auld faithful' scratched into the butt, missing its magazine. He took that anyway in case he managed to find ammunition for it.
He gathered together any other useful items, a few ration bars, stimm gum, amazingly one frag, utterly unmarked, a coil of wire and an artillery sighter. This done he took a few deep breaths then stood, wavered slightly but rallied and began to slowly make his way from the ruin of the nest.
Moments later as he falteringly began his long walk, a ochre armoured figure smoothly detatched itself from the shadow of the tree and began to follow.
His chrono useless he had no idea of the exact time it took him to get to his current location. The wazone he had sought. The road had been the site of a large battle. Blackend hulls littered the mile long stretch, most still leaking smoke. Bodies and parts of bodies were strewn like string cut puppets after a childs rage. Both tau and guard united in death, the same look disbelieving look in their faces of the realisation their time had come.
The guards were not 'Blades. Blood spattered badges denoted elements of the 41st armoured, the Nestin heavy cavalry. He rested against the tracks of a gutted Banewolf, its chem tanks long since boiled dry. He had supplemented his meagre supplies and now and carried a fully loaded 'auld faithful'. He now wore a set of Nestin flak armour, blood smeared but un-comprimised. He stared at the body of a kroot. It stank as it leaked into the dusty hard packed earth of the road. The avian face glared back, utterly alien. An almost supernatural feel flowed from the bodies of both the tau and their mercanaries. The kind of feeling suffered he mused by prim's squatting inside their cave clutching a crude spear hopping, praying that the terror outside in the night would pass by. He feared them. Hated them, all at once. No matter the supposed altruistic nature of these particular xenos, years of imperial doctrine was stamped into his psyche. Face to face with such creatures he could see why.
He rubbed his eyes. They still smarted, despite the palid sunlight shed by the binaries. He needed goggles. These tankers must have some, they wore them all the frigging time. On top of their heads, round their necks, round an arm. That became his next mission. Frustratingly this armoured unit seemed devoid of such eye protection. He swore under his breath.
"Why do I have to find the only tread heads not dripping with stupid frigging goggles?" He winced. His own voice boomed in his damaged ears like Astartes Bolters. He gave up. Stepping out of the plasma ripped chimera he settled a cap upon his head. That would have to do.
As he settled the brim into the best position, he saw it.
A Tau pathfinder by the look of it, knelt in the dust 20 meteres away, railgun pointing his way! Railgun? Railgun! Emperors Teeth! How come he could remember a xenos rifle type and could not remember his bloody own name!? Training taking over he tumbled backward into the chimera, the sudden action creating an instant feeling of nausea. He came up, spat bile from his mouth and jammed 'Auld Faithful' to his shoulder aiming at the open hatch. His less than perfect hearing picked up the charged round scream towards his position and something heavy thump onto dust?
Then nothing. Adrenaline and blood pumping around his head reduced his ears to near useless. He felt calm though. Despite all else. Calm. At home. Another report and insane sounding round, this time a cut off scream, and the sound of something heavy falling against the left hand side of the vehicle he crouched in.
Weird. Were there Nestin survivers out there? He had to know. Mind working franticaly he grabbed a piece of mirrored glass from the floor and pulled from his mouth the flavourless stimm gum he had been chewing to numb the pain. He stuch the makeshift mirror to the muzzle of his scavenged rifle and angled it out the hatch. The refelection was not the best but he made out the still kneeling tau, its elegant gun scoping for targets. He changed angle. He made out boots, blood and a dropped las just outside to his left. The legs were not dressed in guard uniform. A ragged ankle length robe flapped in the wind, its dirty brown marred by the contents of its owners body.
He checked back to the tau.
Shit! It was gone! His heart rate increased and mouth went dry. That rifle would smear him all over the interior of the chimera. Initially safe, this cover could become a tomb, thus was no cover at all, he needed to vacate and fast. The rear hatch was adjar. A quick scan revealed it had some potential as a classic back door. He inched toward it. The rail gun screamed again. He involuntary ducked lower and scooted through the gap after a very quick glance outside.
He rolled, bruised ribs flarring in protest and came to rest prone, rifle sweeping from side to side, near the body of one of the tau's victims. The smell hit him first. The sickly stench of the unwashed mixed with a venting gut and something...else. He had no time to examine the corpse at length but his soldiers cursery look spoke volumes. Human, filthy, non guard, armoured, tatooed. He froze. He had seen those marks before.
..........the air was throbbing with the intense exchange of artillery.......Blades jostled and surged across a morass of mud and wire....las streaked towards the enemy trenches, the air around each irridescent beam bleeding heat....hard round punching comrades from their feet....sanguine plumes spurting, mouths agonising, orders bellowed by raging nco's....a flammer ignited bathing all nearby in promethium, their screams cut short, their own hosing them down out of kindness.....he reached the lip of the first trench, pistol bucking in his hand, lancing the dirty faces roaring at him from within.... kicking the teeth from the foe reaching up to bayonet him....leaping in followed by a press of his fellows, guns blazing..unrelenting parched voices shouting hatred of the.....heretic...time slowed...IT strode through the crumpling cultists, innefectual las disipating from its effigy festooned power armour....it seemd to have its own gravity, reality pulling around its advance...a raging commissar leaps at it, power sword arcing upwards towards the abominations chest...the weapon is brushed aside by the twisting axe in its hand then opens the political officer and the man next to him with a flick of a wrist...the trench was in....
....Chaos! The arch-enemy, here. That could not be right, they had been ordered here to evict the tau hadn’t they? Could his mind have fragged it up that much? . Old Bluey and the ruinous in bed together? Surely not. Details of the tau empire always had specified that were psykerless, ghosts to the warp. What could this mean? He realised that he had been pondering to long when the zealot came caterwauling at him, ugly sword aimed at his face. He put two rounds into the deviant then another into the head of his companion who had just come into sight around an overturned leman russ. Both dropped with satisfying death cries. His eye was still in. He flinched as he heard the tau weapon keen again, his hunched shoulders were spattered with blood.
Dropping to the dirt, he came sought the pathfinder. It stood now a few paces away on its funny cloven feet railgun smoking looking at the third zealot. The one that would have smashed his skull in with the huge chain wrapped cudgel it had been wielding. The xenos had saved his life!
Stupid frigger woud rue the day though! He raised Auld Faithful and took aim. The tau was faster, it combat-rolled toward him, his shot booming above its head and came up a few feet away, weapon aimed at his nose, the muzzle so close to his face he could feel the heat leaking from the weapon's business end. A moment passed. The tau did not evaporate his head? He was confused even more now.
“What are you waiting for you xenos prick?” He shouted at it. “Take the shot. End it!”
A funny sound issued from the ochre helm. Was that laughter? The pathfinder edged back and gestured for him to drop his weapon. He had little choice and laid the venerable autogun down, whispering an apology to the weapons spirit. The tau stood on its strange legs and spoke in a crisp modulated low gothic. “I am not your enemy this day, soldier of the human empire. That honour is taken by the twisted ones."
work in progress more to follow..................
Last edited by PALADIN; 12-30-10 at 01:58 PM.