Cheers guys. I tried to write a second part about a week ago, but my computer messed up and the whole thing got deleted. Here we go, time to have another go. This was written on microsoft word so the paragraphs are quite big, sorry about that.
The noise was deafening, and the feeling of falling was sickening, but at least he was still alive. There was a loud crunch from the rear of the ship before the strange sounds of machinery malfunctioning attacked Torus’ ears. A nearby techpriest began blabbering about the mistreatment of the ship’s machine spirit. The craft began ruthlessly shuddering, throwing the staff in the personnel compartment around violently. Torus found himself clutching the armrests on the seat with crushing intensity, his hands pale. He attempted to slow down his breath- to calm himself down- but with the amount of noise and the constant unexpected jolts in the ship’s movements it was impossible. He was reminded of the discomforting percentage of atmospheric craft which managed to land on Gaulian II without casualties.
<GAULIAN LANDING IN 1 MINUTE, ACTIVATING BREAKS>
Despite the warning, the change in speed was alarming for the men in the cramped compartment. There was still an unknown threat tearing at the hull of the vessel, some small arms fire, or some kind of strange alien clawing at the ship. Torus was pressed forward into his seatbelts as the ship slowed, and finally the attacks halted, possibly due to anti-air guns on the ground, or the unknown enemy seeking a new target. Eventually the roar of the engines dropped in volume and the reassuring feeling of a planet’s gravity settled the doctor’s nerves. They were now flying horizontally, but steadily lowering towards the planet. The engines were emitting nothing more than a low hum now. Soon the ship came to a stop.
<PERSONEL COMPARTMENT IS NOW OPENING. EXPECT ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES. EMPORER BE WITH YOU>
Seatbelts were unclipped, the adorned hatch at the back of the ship opened. The light which greeted the staff unit was not a satisfactory white, but a dull red. Boots hit grey mud and the planet attacked Torus’ senses, the first thing he noticed was the cold; Freezing rain landed lightly on his neck. Fog covered everything. The doctor could only see a few hundred metres either side of him- the ship had landed in a shallow, rectangular hole which branched out into a few layers of trenches. The air seemed difficult to breathe; it stung the doctor’s throat– no doubt due to the constant military activity on the planet. The smell of gunpowder and lasgun batteries was strong. There was booming in the distance. And screaming.
“I am Colonel Harad, welcome to Gaulia II. Welcome to hell.”
The eyes of the staff looked up from their muddy boots. They were met with the image of a war-hardened soldier, his gaze as piercing as his animosity. Scars covered his scowling face.
“When I point, tell me your name and your position before moving to your respective staff sergeants behind me. You’re services are necessary enough that time-wasting is unacceptable, but you’re all replaceable enough for execution. Thus any time wasting will result in death. We are at war. The emperor has no light for those who hesitate.”
The colonel began pointing at the men one by one, a soldier next to him copying down their names. The men answered instantly, the words of the colonel had slammed the seriousness of the war down their throats with military precision. “Fabian Hoticus, lasgun repair. Indigo Solomon, Techpriest. . .”
Eventually he pointed at Torus.
“Lisbourne Torus, psychologist”
Whether by simple confusion or the suspicion of time wasting the Colonel raised his laspistol as he asked this. The doctor’s heart skipped a beat.
“A psychologist, sir- a doctor of the mind. I’m not strictly war staff. I was requisitioned by the higher ranks.”
The glare Torus was met with was more terrifying than any enemy which might lie beyond the great trenches. The hopelessness of his situation was somehow growing.
“Report to the Commissar, West down the third trench. There will be a dugout there, fronted by the winged skull of the emperor.”
The colonel briefly pointed to the trench furthest away from where the enemy forces appeared to be. Torus stomped through the mud as fast as he could without appearing to flee. There was debris all through the hole where the ship had landed- Discarded barbed wire, burnt metal, broken lasguns. The amount of troops seemed minimal, their armour was black and their eyes were dead. Some had horrendous injuries, the only thing separating their appearance from corpses was their pained, watchful eyes. As Torus left the landing area and entered the trench he noticed some of the guardsmen shaking, or chattering to themselves, driven insane from constant exposure to the terrors of war. Torus himself shook. No longer just from the cold.
The dugout seemed well provisioned, in contrast to the rest of what the doctor had seen in the trenches. Above it was a communications array. A heavy bolter turret was emplaced in front of it. Once again, barbed wire was everywhere. The doctor knocked on the hatch, not knowing how else to gain entrance. It soon opened revealing a one-armed soldier wielding some kind of double barrelled grenade launcher.
“I’m here to see the Commissar, sir”
Torus was led through a dim corridor shaped hole, the mud packed tightly around the walls. Flickering lights hung off the ceiling. After another door he found himself in a circular room, centred by the hologram of Gaulia II. The room’s walls were metal, and there were many doors through them. There were a few soldiers discussing tactics and strategies, techpriests were managing the advanced technology. The man with the torn off arm went to join the other soldiers and the doctor noticed that their chests bore many medals- they were high ranking officers. He glanced to his right and noticed two more men.
A priest wore robes intricately patterned with symbols and litanies of the emperor. He held a great book and was carefully scanning through it. A beautifully crafted golden staff shone in his holy hand, every now and then it pulsed with electricity. The other man Torus looked upon bore full ornamental military dress above eagle-covered titanium armour. In his hand was a black plasma pistol. His face was stern. He was the commissar.
“You are Dr. Lisbourne Torus?”
“Yes, sir. Colonel Harad sent me here for briefing.”
“Indeed. Do you have any idea why you’re here? A psychologist in a deadly warzone?”
“ . . . No.”
“Come, into my office,”
The commissar led Lisbourne through a door into a small room containing a desk and two chairs. A poster on the wall pictured some charging soldiers and in bold letters stated “For every one of us that falls, two more shall take his place”. The well equipped, battle-ready soldiers seemed incredibly distant from the tired men Torus had seen in the trenches. On the centre of the desk was a sign reading: “Commissar Hudson”.
“Now before you can truly understand the meaning of your work here, you must understand the nature of military action which has occurred on Gaulia II so far. After the planet was . . . taken by our enemies, the lord-ministers of nearby systems sent contingents of their guard forces to assist and retake the planet. During the early campaign, skilled commanding resulted in a series of strong victories and, though our enemies were numerous, it was obvious that the emperor’s light shone over our forces. But, in the assault of . . . a classified enemy position, one of the Lord-commander’s main advisors was killed. Because of our early victories the enemy had fortified their main positions strongly. Also around this point powerful enemy . . . reinforcements arrived. Because of a series of military blunders, including orbital bombardment on our own forces, and underestimation of hostile armies, the Gaulian war effort was failing.
So forces from my system- Sierghe were deployed- five entire regiments. Our generals quickly realised that a defensive strategy was needed- attacks on the enemy positions would be near suicide. This leads to why we are battling in trenches and, more importantly, why you’re here. Mental illness is spreading throughout Sierghe troops, morale is dropping because of it. The trenches are driving men insane. The Sierghe Lord-Commander has requisitioned three hundred Hercull brain scientists to study the disease the men have nicknamed “trench-shakes”. Our troops are too thin to take away any from the front lines of the battlefield though, thus you will be wearing Sierghe armour atop your civilian clothes, and may use a lasgun. Collect information of the disease from our frontline troops and send me a report with suggestions of how to halt this madness.”
“Sir, with all due respect I don’t think there’ll be a way to just . . . halt the mental illness. I’ll try to-”
“Are you suggesting you are not needed? There is only one kind of imperial barge which leaves this planet- the funeral barge. You will not leave until you have fulfilled your mission or you have died trying.”
“Allright, sir. I’ll do my best.”
Sticks and stones will break my bones but rockets will do it faster