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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-25-11, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Default Ants of Therra Part 1

Hello. "A Father's Vengeance" is the prelude to this story. Chapter 18 is in. I have no idea if anyone is in the process of reading this, but I will keep writing because I love doing it. I hope someone is taking the time to read it and really enjoying it.


Chapter 1


Of the six planetary systems that were allied with Equa only one was left, the planet Therra along with its moons and satellites. Therra’s territories, but not her children, had remained untouched by the realities of the bloody face of war, because of the extreme distance that separated it from the territories of the Equan domain.

For generations, Therra supplied food, armor and weapons to those who were fighting at the front lines. Therra supplied new technology and the means to use it, but most of all Therra supplied her own dear children. They were soldiers.

Therra was not the most powerful of the planetary systems. Take Mispiv Omega as an example. Mispiv Omega was the most powerful of the allies of Equa. Whole fleets of warships converged upon the allies of Chaos. Death fell from the heavens when Mispiv Omega’s fires were kindled. Her armies marched and could not be counted, for there were too many for even the well trained eye to number.

They fought on countless worlds and rejoiced in the fruitfulness of their victories. But death came to their home world, in only the time it took for the planet’s full cycle around its sun.

A Chaos battleship of unknown design had somehow made its way past the outer fortifications on its farthest moon. By the time it had been detected, it was already too late.

Virus bombs that reacted with Mispiv Omega’s atmosphere caused the air to become a seething firestorm that melted the flesh from the bones of every man, woman, child and animal upon the planet’s surface. The trees withered all the way down into the root systems and the oceans became acidic and melted the hulls of every vessel that floated upon its surface.

Everything that swam, slithered or crawled upon the surface of the deep either died or fell to mutations that could not be described for fear of falling victim to the warp and its daemonic hosts.

Upon hearing of the destruction of their home-world, Mispiv Omega’s children that were fighting off-world fell to the darkest and most deadly of the great enemy’s weapons…hopelessness.

Within a month of hearing about their home world’s destruction, Mispiv Omega’s children surrendered, and swore their allegiance to those who had stripped them of the hope and power they once boasted so richly in.

Mispiv Omega had once been powerful, but the most powerful is not always the most deadly.

Therra was by far the most deadly in what had once been the territories of Equa.

Now, the years have passed. Equa is a lifeless ruin where great sandstorms rage in the place where forests once covered the plains, and the oceans seethe as the creatures of the warp dance at their depths.

Caras has fallen to the armies of chaos, and their population is made to slave in the great forges and manufactories that had once served the Emperor’s faithful.

The inhabitants of Bocee even now struggle to dig themselves out of nuclear winter and ozone poisoning. Mutations are rampant. Their once great and beautiful fields of grain will never produce again.

Seartas Primary, Rexis and Mispiv Omega have now become staging grounds for the forces of Chaos and the creatures of the warp. Blood flows through their once beautiful streets, and things move in the light that could never have been imagined by the most insane.

Therra has become the lone survivor among the allies of Equa. It is as the Emperor wills. Therra will not give up and she will fight to the end, for only in death does duty end.

Only seven planetary systems still remain among the allies of what had once been the territories of Tarsus. Of them, only two major systems are still war capable.

Therra, knowing they were outnumbered and were in imminent danger of attack, invasion or complete destruction from the enemies legions, sent the armies of Therra to deal with the planets that most presented a threat to them.

The Ants of Therra were the most revered of their armies. They were the feared assassins and sniper squads that had only been used in the gravest of times and in the two hundred years since their founding they had never known defeat.

The Ants of Therra were dedicated to the study of stealth, invisibility and killing in close combat. They were also greatly feared because of their ability to kill from afar and in great numbers.

Each man not only carried their vast array of close combat weapons, explosives, and las-guns but they also carried powerful sniper rifles that were accurate for up to two and a half kilometers. By the time other armies knew the Ants of Therra were near, they were usually already dead.

Each sniper rifle had been fitted with a day and night capable infrared optioned scope with light x-ray capability. A flash reducer and silencer were fitted with each of the five replacement barrels they carried.

Energy disrupters directed the concussive force that discharged from the barrels as the bullets left the chamber upward and outward instead of downward into the ground. The result was only the smallest amount of dirt would be blown into the air by the concussion of the bullet’s exit from the rifles muzzle.

A sniper could fire from a selected position with little risk of dust or dirt being blown into the air around them when they fired their rounds, revealing their positions.

Surprise and near invisibility is the key to a successful mission. Two kinds of ammunition were standard; fifty caliber heavy rounds with explosive tips, to take down armored men and creatures of the warp, and light rounds to be loaded quickly and fired into the unprotected flesh of the enemy both near and far…these were forty-four caliber shells.

Of course there were also those trained in the use of flamethrowers, explosives and heavy weapons.

Each man had been trained in a fighting style unique to Therra. It was a form of martial art that moved in circles, deflections and counters in order to put their opponent off balance.

They were trained in a form of take downs and ground work that used their opponents struggles against them. Bones would be broke, joints dislocated and nerves pressed in very painful ways. Death could be quick and nearly painless or it could take long tormented moments. It all depended on the mood of the Ant in combat at that moment.

In the event that during a combat mission all the members of their unit were killed, each man took part in a training exercise that demanded they worked alone.

They each spent twenty days in the death jungles; alone without weapons, compass, or their mimic-armor. During that time their instructors would haunt them. When the Ant wanted to sleep, someone would be there to torment him. When he ran someone would be there to make him stumble. When he would seek to rest or eat, someone would be there to make him flinch. In their mimic-armor the instructors could not be easily seen.
When no one was around to test him the jungle itself would do it. It was brutal and alive and even more dangerous than anything the solder had gone through before. There were poisoned plants and deadly spiders, snakes and vines that would creep in the shadows and seek to feed upon his flesh.

The Instructors chose a time when their torments would end and they would leave. They would let the jungle do its work. During this time the young Ant would either descend into insanity or he would grow to learn how to be sensitive to his surroundings, his spirit and the movements of even the vary air.

While the soldier spent his time alone he would develop a confidence that could not be taken away.

After the appointed time the young recruit would either walk out of the jungle with that confidence or never come out at all.

Upon completion of their training they would be given their chameleon skin. Chameleon skin was a type of mimic armor that deflected most light rounds fired at them and mimicked the environment to give them near invisibility.

Their heads were covered by a helmet that was made of the same material and was fitted with a self contained filter system and re-breather unit for chemically rich or toxic environments.

Their armor provided a light weight and easily maneuverable shell that provided a certain protection and invisibility in the combat field but was in no way as strong or bulky as the feared space marines, but for what it lacked in strength and bulk it more than made up with the ability for stealth.

In the two hundred years since their founding they had fought against everything the enemy had brought at them except the feared Chaos Marines that had been active in other star systems.

They had learned from every campaign they had been in, from every mistake and from how every man in their units had died.

Not ever repeating the same mistake twice their technicians would create as much as they could to protect their infantry. Failure and surrender were not an option because failure and surrender would result in the destruction of their home world.

During the Great War, the thirteen planetary who had been loyal to Tarsus had yielded to the ways of Chaos, taking on the worship of their gods, heeding to the craftiness of their priests and sorcerers. Their lust for death and killing and mutilation grew. More and more their humanity was lost.

Lord General Josiph Seel, (War Chief of the armies of Therra,) sent messages by astrotelepath and the vox nets to the War Master for help in their fight against the forces of Chaos that were open mouthed to consume them.

The War Master sent a reply that there was nothing he could do for them because their forces were tied up against the forces of Chaos in other star systems.

It felt like the entire weight of his world was resting squarely on his shoulders because it truly was. The war had been extremely brutal and had lasted for almost thirty generations. His back was upon the wall and frustration and stress was eating away at him both day and night.

One by one the worlds would fall, whole planets bombed to oblivion or gassed to extinction or raided and used until all its resources had been drained, the planet becoming like a dead animal, putrid, defiled and lifelessly cold.

Lord General Josiph Seel was very tired. He knew the forces of Chaos were closing in.

Therra had supplied weapons, armor and food to many of its allies but as each system and world would fall, fewer supplies had to be sent.

The technicians were wise and planed for the day all their allies would fall, but they prayed that day would never come. Ominously the day did come closer and quicker than they ever dreamed and now Therra was deeper in this war and more alone then they could have ever imagined.

They were one planet in a system of many planets with war on each one and Lord General Josiph Seel would do all he could to preserve the lives and way of life that everyone on Therra held dear.

It was because of his love for the Emperor, freedom, family, their world and sanity that they would fight.

It was for these reasons he would send his very best into the faces of the enemy before chaos reached Therra.

If the supply chains and the worlds the supplies came from could be disrupted or destroid it would be a massive set back to the enemy, one that they may not be able to recover from.

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Default Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The battle-carrier ‘Therra’s Pride’ led the way through the warp with the troops of Therra situated in its cold, dimly lit cramped belly.

One mistake traveling through the warp and the Ants of Therra would never reach their destination and fight for the survival of their home world. They would die in the wink of an eye, crushed by the force of the warp with its twists, nightmare creatures and deformed grotesques and the evil that dwelt with them.

The warp was the only way to travel in three weeks what would take seventeen years in normal space. But to everyone on board those three weeks were plagued by coldness, sickness and the screams that seemed to come from the battle-carrier itself.

Everyone had been effected, not the least the medico. The Chief of the medico was named Malici Zilar. He was short and stocky, balding with a rounded head that had a scar on the right side of his face that traveled from his crooked nose, under his right eye and up to his left ear.

His eyes were the coal black of a deep cave and had the worn out lines that came with tiredness, stress and age. The scar was what was left after he had healed from a crushed jaw and cheek bone that he had received in training as a young cadet so many years ago.

Every member of the military structure had to go through the same training regardless who they were or what their job would be.

There had to be the assurance that every member in the military structure would have the confidence and fortitude in every situation to fulfill their duties with deadly accuracy and precision.

Chief medic Zilar, after completing his first years in service, joined the medical unites and in the years ahead developed the skills and experience that led him to the position of Chief Medic of the Ants of Therra.

He was in the medical supply room gathering medication to administer to the soldiers to help combat the sickness and fatigue caused by the warp. General Josiph Machais entered the medical supply room just as Zilar was getting ready to leave.

‘We will be in the warp for an estimated week and a half more. The troops must be combat ready and rested by the time our landing is in process. What do you think the chances are of this happening?’

Zilar took a deep breath. He was clearly on the verge of sickness himself but was fairing better than many of the other men on board. ‘General, I believe that by the time we get out of the warp the medication will have done its job and we will all be ready to attend to the Emperors will, but it will be tough for the next few days.’

Machais visibly relaxed and let out a long sigh. He leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms looking directly into the eyes of the Chief medical officer. ‘Malici, how long have we known each other?’

Malici Zilar shrugged and thought about the question for a moment. ‘Around thirty years, since we were just children. Why?’

‘You’ve helped me through some tough times, I don’t know if I ever thanked you.’ the General said half smiling but totally serious.

Malici Zilar frowned and raised an eyebrow. ‘What’s going on, Josiph?’ His voice had a wary tone to it like he expected there to be a “but” in there somewhere.

‘You don’t have to worry; I’m not going all soft or anything like that. I just wanted to say thanks.’ Josiph said.

Zilar leaned back against a filing cabinet and just stared at his long time friend. Finally he asked again, ‘Josiph, in all the time I’ve known you, you’ve never said thank you. What’s going on?’

General Josiph Machais thought about how to answer his friend. ‘Doc, I’ve got a bad feeling about this mission. I don’t know what it is that’s causing it, could be just the jitters. But you know me. When I have a feeling about something, there’s probably a good reason.’

Malici watched his General, not as a General but as the friend that he had grown up with. ‘What do you really think is going to happen?’ he asked. ‘We will hit the ground, kill the enemy, secure the area and finish the mission. It is what we always do. What could be so different this time?’

The General dipped his shoulders. ‘I don’t know. It’s just a feeling. Keep your head down when we hit the ground and stay close to me. Believe it or not, you’re the life blood of this unit.’

The Chief Medic smiled and saluted. ‘It’s nice to know you care.’ Malici Zilar was the only man that Josiph Machais fully trusted, the only man that he felt comfortable confiding in. If it had not been for Malici Zilar, Josiph Machais would never have lived long enough to become General of the Ants of Therra.

General Machais was a taller lean, muscular man with a scar riddled face from shrapnel that had shot through his face-shield like buckshot through a can. He had recovered from that only to lose his right arm and upper rib cage to enemy shelling that Chaos had fired into their advance.

Under the careful eye of Chief Medic Malici Zilar it had taken medical droids seventeen hours to graft the implants and his riddled body together, than another three months for him to be well enough to walk and begin the retraining of his body in therapy. Almost a year went by before he was fit for duty again. That was eleven years ago.

Chief Medic Malici Zilar, along with all the other field medics, surgeons and medical wait-staff walked out the elevator doorway and into the belly of the Therra’s Pride.

The hull of the ship opened into a lengthy, dimly lit floor space cluttered with cots stacked three high, sleeping bags, field kits and some personal effects the men brought from home.

The filter systems worked well but could not compete with the thousands of men that filled such a tight bit of space. The smell of sweat, gun oil and sickness was very strong, Zilar hoped that by the end of the cycle things would be different.

He looked around the immediate area until he found Major Anthoni Ri Shun, a strong and fit man that radiated confidence and a sharpness that no one wanted to be on the wrong side of.

He was tall and seemed to carry a shadow over his face wherever he went. Rarely did he smile and never did he laugh. His face was creased with a long scar that ran from his forehead to his right shoulder. It was thin and nearly unnoticeable but for the thin, pink flesh that exposed it.

He had received the scar on the planet Mispiv when a Chaos Captain sliced him with a power sword. Not a single drop of blood was lost because the power blade cauterized the wound even as it cut. With a kick to the chest of the Chaos Captain he pushed him back, and with the motion of his chain sword he decapitated the traitor. Back then he was just a Captain but now he was a Major in the Ants of Therra.

There used to be a Commissar that kept everyone in line, but he died. Every once in a while Major Anthoni Ri Shun still chuckles to himself about the circumstances behind the Commissar’s falling out.

Now he kept everyone in line well enough that there was no need of a commissar. He had been through a lot to achieve a rank this high and had earned the respect of every man.

Zilar motioned for him to come over. Major Ri Shun put the hand of cards he was holding down and excused himself from the table. He walked with fierceness in his step, like a beast from the forests of Therra.

His eyes were cold and deep like black holes that could take in everything and let nothing out. ‘Sir?’ he said with a surprisingly soft voice.

Zilar motioned to the men with a wave of his hand and a reassuring smile, ‘Major, if you would be so kind as to gather the men, we would like to administer antibiotics and anti-warp sickness meds.’ Chief Medic Zilar indicated his staff and motioned them forward. ‘Most everyone should be fit by the morning and ready for work.’

Since the space was so cramped, everyone had been touched in someway. The Major yelled out an order and the word was passed. Lines were formed so long the end could not be seen. All the medical staff, nearly two-hundred strong, went to work.

After a few hours everyone had received a vaccination, the chatter died down, the medico packed up their kits and left to restock and get some rest. By the time the lights went out most were feeling better and by morning bells all were able to work.

The filter systems ushered out all the remains of sickness but the smell of warriors gathering for war just could not be taken away. The fever had been broken but the nightmares remained until the Therra’s Pride returned to real space.

As the warp continued to envelope them, the Ants of Therra continued to gather their strength and begin training for the new environment they would be charging into. General Machais received word; they would exit the warp and enter real space somewhere near the fringes of what used to be the Equan territories; a place called Rexis.

Therra’s Pride would bombard Rexis from just outside orbit. When the bombardment stopped General Machais with the 35th and the 39th infantry would descend upon Rexis and under fighter cover blend into the environment, take up firing positions and rain hell upon the heads of the enemy. They had less than ten days to prepare for the assault and the exit from the warp.

General Machais called a briefing to be held in the ships meeting room on the thirteenth level. Generally used by the Admiral and the staff of Therra’s Pride, the meeting room was pristine, totally glassed on all sides, everyone who entered for the first time would fall victim to the view.

The room directly overlooked the massive fighter deck. Transports were being prepped for the assault to come. They had the look of large boxes with pintle-mounted guns at their front and massive thrusters set in their rear. They were heavy and thickly armored, built to get the soldiers to the ground as fast as possible.

Behind them were the Wasps. The Wasps were one man attack pods that were small and fast, extremely hard to hit and meant to annoy the enemy with their battery powered pulse-laser cannons in their nose and the tip of each of their four wings. They also had a limited supply of mini rockets.

Next were the heavily armored and massive bombers. They carried a payload that could level cities and make the enemy forget what they were fighting for.

All those gathered in the meeting room were very impressed with the magnitude of the deck below and the ballet of machinery and staff that seemed to dance with a precision that defied the senses.

Ammunition carts and life-support vessels moved under the drawn back wing sections of the bombers and greeted the servitors that placed the supplies in their proper places and secured the loads.

Trains of needed parts moved slowly through row after row of transports where servitors picked and chose various tools or supplies in preparation for the launch.

Everything moved with a purpose and discipline that proved the worth of their training. The noise below shook the bones as massive engines were started and restarted for testing and configuration.

Many of the leadership in the meeting room above remembered the beginning’s of their careers as they started as menials or adjuncts to the mechanics or technicians so many years ago and were grateful for the learning experiences they had received.

Some of them smiled as they looked below, glad to have escaped those days. Where they stood now was another world entirely and the responsibilities were greater. Responsibility was to be sought after and loved not avoided and dreaded.

The bay doors were directly opposite the meeting room. With over thirty pulse guns and targeting systems the doors were well guarded. The bay doors were wide and barely taller than the largest transport.

Many fighter carriers, cruisers and battleships had been obliterated for lack of fire power at entrances like these, and clearly the Therra’s Pride had no intention of being next.

Major Anthoni Ri Shun along with the Captains, Sergeants and other command staff including Chief Medic Zilar were ushered into the large ornate meeting room at 0700 hours, ten days before company deployment.

The first thing one noticed when walking in was the long silver and brass table that sat in the middle. It was framed by fifty-two artistically carved chairs. They were of a dark wood that grew deep in the forests of Therra and were extremely rare. The trees were twisted and gnarled, thorny and smelled of deep foliage that had just drunk in a summer rain.

The wood carvers had used this to their advantage and had set each chair to its own perfection. Not a single chair matched, but was unique to its own beauty. Each represented an individuality and perfection that was second to none.

All along the ceiling in the texture of eggshell and feathers were the most detailed carvings of history in picture form. Admirals, Lord Generals, Captains of old and heroes that had given of themselves so that others might know the freedom of life without fear were represented.

General Machais hoped their sacrifices would not be in vain. It was still a long, hard road they must travel in order for there to be peace in this small corner of the galaxy.

The floor of the room was overlaid with a thin carpet of dark green and gold boarder. A flag set in each of the corners of the room. On one, stitched in black, gold and dark green was the double headed eagle and the sign of the Emperor. It was the Aquila: proud, strong, the empire that never ended.

The flag to its right held a wasp. It was bathed in simple colors of yellow and black. On the wings were imprinted the names of the fighter pilots, navy commanders and navigators that had fallen in the line of duty for the last two hundred years.

The next flag to its right, in a dark corner of the room was the flag that bared the names of the allies that once fought alongside Equa. This flag sat in near darkness; a testimony of the importance of remembering the past in order to preserve the future.

In the last corner, next to the plate-glass bay window stood the final flag. It was bathed in gold and bore the symbol of the Ants of Therra; a fierce six-legged creature that was wreathed in fire and surrounded by skulls. This symbol was also placed upon the weapons of each of the Ants upon graduation from the main armies of Therra into the ranks of the undefeated.

Conversation was flowing like a river down a mountain side. It was rare having so many warrior leaders in one place, let alone a single room. It was a reunion that had not seen its like in nearly ten years. Everyone had a story of adventure and heroism that they shared with great pride and boasting.

Many of the stories told had been exaggerated by those telling the story and most gathered knew that it was just part of the camaraderie and pleasure of being gathered together again. Since the Therra’s Pride left dock these men had not been able to spend time together. Many had known each other since childhood and the spirit of brothers united was palpable.

General Machais allowed the staff to loosen up and just be men with friends they would most likely not see again for what could be months or years and in some cases probably never again.

The hour of fellowship would not be forgotten and the morale would need to be high for as long as possible. Breakfast was being served along with hot recaff in order to revive those that had struggled with whatever duties or nightmares everyone suffered with.

It was still cold in the ship, a constant reminder of the warp currents that they traveled through.

When the hour was up General Machais brought the meeting to order with the ringing of his silver fork against his spent water glass. The sound echoed through the room, cutting through conversations, laughter and the few boasting arguments that poured forth.

‘Gentlemen,’ he said. He made a point of looking into the eyes of everyone in the room, ‘In two days time we will exit the warp and begin immediate bombardment on the industrial-world, Rexis. It is located on the outskirts of what were once the Equan territories.’

‘What we know about this planet is that it is a supply, repair and forge-world for the forces of Chaos. The world of Rexis was once an ally of ours, but fell quickly before the Great enemy. Billions suffered at the hand of Chaos and many were turned to the seductiveness of the warp.

It is doubtful there are any that survived who remain faithful to the Emperor. The intelligence that we have received was gained through an anonymous source and through the use of spy satellites and sanctioned astrotelepaths.

The main supply and fueling port for the enemy is found on Rexis. Without the supplies this world brings, many of the enemy’s war-ships, carriers and supply vessels will simply starve from lack of fuel, and food goods. Many of their vessels would become prime targets for our fleet that will move in once our mission is accomplished.

The surface of Rexis is primarily jungle and water. Our target is the forge city, Bandon, located here.’ He pointed to a large red blip on the holo map. The projectors gave the impression of it hovering above the table; its reflection glowed slightly upon the tables’ surface.

The holo map showed Bandon from above. Bandon was massive in its proportions and covered a great deal of the maps attention. The buildings, forges, power plants, towers and smoke stacks that produced great amounts of smoke-trails which the wind carried away from them were surrounded by a massive wall that spread almost the entire circumference of the forge-city.

To the south of Bandon lay a man made lake that supplied fresh water to the inhabitants and fresh resource for cooling their forges. ‘The objective is to destroy the power generators. They are here,’ He pointed to a bright yellow blip with his augmented arm and touched the screen.

The upper levels of the screen faded, revealing the extensive blueprints beneath. ‘The power generators are here in sublevel ninety-seven. There are three massive areas here, here and here.’ He pointed to three green blips and again the upper levels faded away.

Everyone’s eyes were riveted on the map and they listened intently to every word spoken. Machais watched them as he spoke and made note of their reactions.

‘There are three supply conduits that run from these areas. They travel for twenty- seven kilometers in either direction to these underground rivers. The rivers are channeled in to supply power to the compressors and cool the titan sized engines below.’ He pointed again and once again the upper level faded away revealing one room, easily the size of a large city.

‘This gentleman is our objective. All the feeds to the production facilities on this planet lead to this. We must deliver charges to the main supports and collapse this fortress in upon itself. The enemy is not aware of us so far, but when the first shells fall, all hell will break loose.

When the bombardment stops, we shall descend like angels from the clouds, under cover from those fighters out there,’ He motioned to the bay below.

‘The 35th and 39th infantries will come down first, secure a base of operation and expect the 43rd and 91st infantries to follow. I don’t need to remind you of how bad things could be. We’ve all seen combat, lost friends, limbs and family to the horrors of war. Trust your instincts and stay sharp, the enemy knows the land and no doubt are dug in. Are there any questions?’

Sergeant Mikinzy Myres raised his hand and General Machais motioned casually. ‘Sir, why not enter through the river entrances? I’m sure they would not be so heavily guarded.’ he said.

Machais thought for a short moment and looked at the holo map again. ‘The Intel we have received told us the best chance for completing the mission is a direct assault on Bandon at this exact time of the year. The Intel specifically stated that at this time of the year there would be less resistance than at any other time.

We have been assured by command of the plans soundness and therefore have been ordered to make a direct assault with the use of force instead of stealth. Are there any more questions?’

The Sergeant shook his head, his wild red hair fallowing his movements. ‘Instead of stealth? Sir?’

‘Yes Sergeant. Instead of stealth.’ The General answered in a way that brooked no argument. But Sergeant Mikinzy Myres did not take the hint. ‘Who’s fracked up idea is that? I don’t want my men frack’n butchered down there!’ His black eyes were boiling with anger.

Everyone in the room took in a deep breath and seemed to hold it. The General bowed his head for a moment, as if restraining his anger.

After a moment he looked at the Sergeant and said, ‘Sergeant, I understand your concern. And truth be told, I share it too. But though I question the orders of my superiors privately, I will not question them openly. From now on you will not question mine openly. Do you understand the order and the warning given?’

The Sergeant gulped and beads of sweat appeared on his brow. His anger had turned into embarrassment. He knew he had overstepped the line. Humbly he answered the General. ‘Sir, I do understand the order and the warning given. I apologize for my outburst.’ The General nodded his head in silent acceptance.

‘Gentlemen,’ He began, ‘my feelings about this mission, off the record, are as fallows. Be careful and extremely watchful. I have seen enough and been through enough to know that nothing is as it seems with the forces of Chaos.’

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Default Ants of Therra Part 2

Chapter 3

Preparations


Captain Demetrious Drea ordered his men forward through the hot and humid sticky jungle. Fifty men obeyed quickly and without hesitation, their trust of Captain Drea had only become stronger as time and circumstances wore on.

Silently and disciplined they crept into the shadows. The jungle reverberated with the sounds of life from a hundred thousand different types of insects.

In the gloom where shadows ruled and the sun’s rays could not impose their will, the vines snaked out and covered the moist, dark ground, and blossomed giant cuplike heads that captured the ever present humidity and the hapless insects that were drawn by their powerful scent.

Giant bats with skin covered wings flew overhead screeching and receiving the echoes of their violent barks. They ducked and dived in the shadows in their chase of the larger insects and with the crunch of teeth penetrating and jaws crashing shut through the hardened shells of their prey they ascended into the jungle canopy and began to roost, hanging upside down in great colonies of slowly moving wings and fur covered bodies.

Tiny birds in mud lined nests squawked and fluttered from the low hanging branches as a giant centipede, red and gray with black oily colored legs stalked the same branch where they dwelled, in its hunt for food.

One by one the Ants of Therra moved through the hunting grounds of the plants, the bats and the centipede as they searched for prey of their own. The fear of detection by line of sight was hardly a thought. The quiet vibrations in their chameleon-armor gave them confidence the mimic field was working well enough.

Even though the chameleon-armor made them virtually invisible, everyone knew discipline was the key to a successful mission. Through their armor’s sensors they could detect the slightest change in the currents of the air, the changing sounds of the environment around them and the screams that echoed through the trackless waste.

The soldiers had been in stealth for over three hours, careful not to tip their position to the enemy. Captain Drea signaled an all stop. Corporal Alaxander Sill, fallowing ten meters behind, stopped and motioned to the rest.

Drea voxed to everyone, ‘Spread out, web formation, surround and kill on my command.’ Their expressions could not be seen due to the face shields, but the intensity could be felt.

The screams in the air weighed on them all. In the clearing before them a man burned.

Tied to a steak, surrounded by the spawn of Chaos, the man screamed. His skin popped and sizzled as the flesh was consumed. It had begun with the feet as the wet wood and brush struggled to light, but as the flames fought for life they spread and licked at the man’s legs and thighs.

He had been skinned before being tied to the steak and even the very currents of the air caused him suffering, but as the flames ate away his flesh his torment could not be measured.

What had once been men were now mutated beyond normality. Disfigured and corrupted, the worshipers of death chanted and laughed as their sacrifice screamed again. Horned heads and backwards limbs beat upon distended chests alive with eyes and mouths that wept blood and drool as they reveled in the torment of another living being.

There were nearly three-hundred of them and they spat the curses of their god at the dyeing man.

Finally as the flames ate away the bonds of the tormented soul he fell upon the burning pyre and tumbled down onto the wet earth below. Screaming, the man stood upon bleeding, blackened legs and flung himself at the closest of his tormenters. With shouts of fear the torturers became the tortured as the greasy, burning flesh from the alighted man stuck to the mutated bodies.

Captain Demetrious Drea used this distraction to order the kill team in. The order was given; three seconds later fifty frag grenades blasted the outskirts of the chaos warriors into broken, bloody bits that fell among their peers.

The kill team broke from their position but the Chaos mutations could not perceive where the attack was coming from. Row upon row fell backwards into each other as their bodies began to disintegrate under the hail of fire being poured into them.

Some brought up crude weapons and tried to fire them, but because of the chameleon-armor they could not find a target to unleash their fury upon. In their midst, blood-red blades appeared. Limbs fell from deformed shoulders and heads fell from the confused mob.

Those in the middle had nowhere to go against the crush of bodies falling against them. Heads exploded like melons dashed against a tree as fifty-caliber rounds blasted through them and impaled themselves into the bodies behind their falling corpses. Bone, brain and blood blasted like shrapnel from bombs made of living matter.

The sound of body parts thudding onto the ground mingled with the screams of those caught in the slaughter. In less than two minutes all of the mutated Chaos worshipers had fallen. A few still struggled to crawl from the clearing only to be dispatched by the kill team as they casually walked by.

The ragged screams of the burning man still echoed through the jungle, faded and finally stopped altogether as Corporal Alaxander Sill mercifully put a bullet through his brain.

Captain Drea touched a button on his faceplate and the jungle disappeared, the fire faded, the dead dissolved and the foul stench of the burning bodies and death dissipated.

Grids appeared in the walls, floor and ceiling of exercise room 101. Drea called out, ‘Gentlemen, like the ants, we are small, but even the small can overcome when unity abounds.’

The door opened and Captain Drea’s kill team walked into the corridor where thousands of soldiers were also gathering from their own training exercises. Everyone had a battle high from the adrenaline rush.

The excitement of the coming events was like electricity in the air. They had just participated in a virtual battlefield. It was the first time since boarding the ship they had had a chance to exercise on this scale. The warp-sickness that had spread through the men had totally vanished and battle was only a day away.

The Ants of Therra were made for war. They had been trained and bred to eradicate the enemy. They were anxious to meet the enemy on their own soil and gain for themselves the satisfaction of doing their part to win the war.

Sergeant Liotas Rizar removed his helmet and took a deep breath. His sandy blond hair fell limply to the base of his thickly muscled neck. His face was still young and lacked the war scars that so many of his brothers carried. His eyes were coal black and alight with the excitement of the prospect of battle.

He was broad shouldered and powerfully strong. At five-foot eleven inches tall he knew well how to use his height to gain leverage against an opponent whether in play or battle.

The filter system had recycled the same air over and over again for the last three weeks. Even though the purifiers and dehumidifiers were working, the sweltering, stickiness of so many people clung to his body. He didn’t seem to mind. He knew he was part of something much bigger than himself.

Even though Rizar was a veteran, a Sergeant under Major Ri Shun, he felt the battle to come would be far different than anything he had ever been involved with. The feeling could hardly be contained. If the exercise room would be how it would really play out then victory was only a day away.

The Intel-report that General Machais had received was all they could go on. The expectation they had for when they landed was of a jungle world that mass produced Chaos battleships, tanks and armor, manned by a bunch of crazed cultists, mindless and bent on the destruction of the galaxy.

That is what the Intel-report had said. Rexis was once a great system, wise and proud until chaos came and stole their minds. It would be good to avenge those who had fallen in their attempt to protect it.

There was nothing else that could be done for the fallen now but to destroy the works of Chaos and make them pay for their many sins.

There will be more coming soon.

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Default Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Admiral Kregan set in his station throne tethered to the massive battle-carrier by feeds implanted through his skull and into his brain.

There were no cumbersome wires running from the machine spirit imposing their tremendous weight upon the Admiral’s body like other ship Captains and Admirals so often had to endure; restricting them to the same seat for years, until their bodies wasted away and became pools of ghastly ulcers that had to be removed by surgery that often resulted in the operators mind failing during the process.

Some ships had to be totally rewired due to the operator’s meltdown.

Kregan’s mind was part of the battle-carrier. The implants were part of Therra’s technology. He had the freedom to move around the bridge unrestricted and still see all the diagnostics and functions taking place every second. The ship was truly an extension of his own body.

At this moment he was still piloting through the warp. All his senses had been straining for weeks and there had not been any time for him to rest or sleep.

In just a few hours he would guide the battle-carrier into real space and the timing had to be perfect.

As the Therra’s Pride poured forth from the warp, all the weapons would come on line immediately. The engines would go through a purging and the ship’s shields would be raised in an instant.

After that he would engage the ship’s stealth armor. The battle-carrier’s platforms, armor and even its engine signature would blend into space until the bombardment would begin. Everything had to be perfect. A moment to late and they would miss the Rexis system entirely; a moment to soon and the enemy would be upon them.

His body ached as he moved his arm into the air and signaled the med-servitor forward. ‘I am tired.’ he said with hardly a breath.

The med-servitor climbed the stairs to the station throne; the med-servitor’s body, more machine than human.

Its face was drawn and tight and pale. Its eyes were cold and black and flickered with the lights of the bridge. Dressed in a white smock it moved smoothly behind the Admirals back and extended a long syringe that bore a long needle.

The med-servitor’s role was to keep the Admiral healthy, sterile, and safe. It was equipped with medications of all types, each serum contained individually within the confines of its torso and limbs.

The med-servitor was also programmed to be the Admiral’s body guard and was equipped with a narrow spear that glowed dull green and was full of toxins. It would heal or kill as necessary to keep the brain of the ship stable.

Of course there were fail-safe’s, there had to be. The Admiral’s body would eventually ware out, even the machine parts.

The servitor pressed the needle into the port in Kregan’s neck, released the serum and stepped away.

The Admiral’s fatigue faded away, his eyes opened a little wider and his muscles tensed. The battle-carrier’s systems shuddered as his senses were renewed. Now he realized how putrid the air had become. The feeling and smell had become truly taxing. It was a byproduct of the sluggishness he had felt.

With a thought the air purifiers came to full strength and within three hours the cycle was complete. Everyone could feel, taste and smell the difference. For the first time in three weeks everything felt like it was supposed to; except the warp. Traveling through such a horribly dangerous place was incredibly draining in and of itself.

The night passed and with it the warp faded away. Condensation coated everything as the coldness of the warp met the warmth of real space. Time for a moment seemed to stand still as the stars; light years away, came into focus through the screens and the thick portholes that lined the battle-carrier’s middle deck.

General Josiph Machais, dressed in black breeches, a black leather jacket that displayed his rank and company and a black standard issue short sleeve collarless shirt that hugged his tight frame looked out of one of these portholes deep in thought.

Feeling the weight of command that he had felt so many times before on other worlds he had fought upon, he steadied himself. His face creased in a tight mask that hid the concern and the plaguing thoughts of the mission ahead.

As he looked on, the outside of the battle-carrier began to change as it left the warp.

Just for a fleeting moment, General Joseph Machais caught a glimpse of the spectacular sight of the daemon hands of terror itself releasing the unwavering vessel from its dark, diseased, cold, nightmarish grip.

The blackish purple fog that had enveloped time itself closed violently like the walls of water collapsing back upon itself when a rock is thrown into it. Just like that the warp was gone, left behind in the time it took to inhale.

As he watched, the battle-carrier’s shields rose creating a bluish metallic field around the three and a half kilometer space fortress. The ship’s cannons all came to life. They began to move slowly back and forth like a hunter watching for prey.

These cannons covered the entire battle-carrier and vibrated with each movement as if they were in anticipation of their use.

Triple armor lined the entire hull. Like a space marine in full battle armor, the battle-carrier was vulnerable only if it wanted to be.

‘The men are excited.’

Machais turned quickly, shaken from his thoughts by Major Ri Shun’s dark voice.

Shun was wearing a black beret with the sign of Therra. His cold dark eyes seemed to pierce Machais soul. He wore a silky black pullover that clung to him like the shadows cling to the wall and the unit jacket he wore was like the armor on the ships hull. His entire uniform was black just like his bitter soul.

His las-gun was strapped to his right leg and his cyber knife to his left.

‘Yes, this I have seen but are they ready?’ Machais asked quietly. ‘I know they will fight well, they always have. There is a feeling I have had since receiving the Intel… like something is missing, like there is much more than meets the eyes.’

They were quiet for a moment. Shun was a quiet man mostly, but always dangerous. He had lived through seventeen planetary conflicts because he was fierce and smart and crueler than the enemy could ever hope to be.

His cold eyes seemed to darken like the moon being covered by the clouds. ‘What do you feel?’ He asked.

Machais looked square into his eyes and said, ‘It feels like we haven’t been given all the facts… like we’re going in unprepared.’

Therra’s Pride quieted and seemed still for a moment, as if the machine spirit was righting itself from the demagogue of warp space.

The only feeling of the battle-carrier’s life was the slight vibration pulsing through the ships hull.

Therra’s Pride had slipped into stealth. The mighty war-vessel moved quietly through the cold blackness of space, like the shark through the inky depths of lost oceans, piercing steadily deeper into the outer reaches of the Rexis territories.

Like the calm before the storm, Therra’s Pride plotted her course through the solar system, constantly wary of the Great Enemy, like a hunter stalking her prey.

Satellites moved through the blackness before them, echoing the readings and pictures taken from thousands of kilometers distant. If this was a trap than Admiral Kregan would know about it hours in advance and make his plans accordingly.

He could feel the rhythms and read the excitement of the crews and solders as they planned for the mission and he drew strength from the energies they created.

All those who were faithful to the Emperor and loved Him, longed with great excitement for the fires of Therra to fall upon the enemies of life. Within hours Therra’s Pride would release her lightning and rain destruction upon the heads of those who would fallow Chaos. The cloak that covered the mighty battle-carrier lifted, revealing its glory to the planets face. At once the giant Roth cannons began to fire their volleys of flame and death upon the heads of the defiled inhabitants of Rexis.

They focused upon the forge city of Bandon in hopes of breaking the city defenses before the invasion began.

Because of the power of the bright and fierce las-cannon fire, the dark, cloud filled rainy skies of Rexis separated both east and west revealing the land masses and oceans below.

The Ants of Therra watched in trancelike excitement through the portholes and viewing decks; like children with their first taste of freedom, their cheers could be heard every time a volley was sent.

To those watching the streaks of light, it seemed like the gods had left Rexis only to return and in anger release the lightnings of heaven against their unabated depravity.

For hours they watched from portholes and view screens until the orders were given to gather their things and make for the transport deck. In a couple of hours the first transports would descend and engage this foe face to face.

On the bridge, Admiral Kregan gave commands to the battle-carrier’s servitors by thought and brains fed electrical impulses to the eyes of the ship, to record and transmit the effects of the energies poured upon Bandon.

Unit 11702-c13, a servitor whose body was directly connected into the ships systems and was more machine than flesh, spoke first, ‘There is a power-shield that is absorbing the energy from the laser and plasma bursts and redirecting it back into support of the city’s defenses.’ The servitor’s voice was hushed and lifeless like the breathing of a dying man on a respirator but was heard by all on the bridge.

Another spoke, unit 1176342-ct6. ‘The energy field will not break by plasma fire or laser.’

Both spoke together like they were of one mind and focus. ‘The shields will not stop the orbs.’

With a thought the Roth cannons stopped firing, retracted and were replaced by massive magnet propulsion cannons that fired iron orbs the size of transports.

Each shot shook the battle-carrier as they exited the magnet cannons with planet breaking force. They looked like meteors as they entered the atmosphere then punctured, cracked and collapsed the energy shields.

Each round slammed through the shields and collapsed buildings and forges and made thousands of sixty-foot deep by eighty foot wide craters throughout the forge-city streets.

Smeltries fell in upon themselves spilling hundreds of tones of liquefied red hot iron into the streets and lower levels of the city.

Fires burned the hab units to the ground and blazed orange-red as the tongues of fire swirled in heat caused tornadoes.

Skyscrapers teetered and collapsed upon other smaller office buildings and iron works.

Thousands died by the concussive shock of the iron orbs or the flames or liquid iron in the first few minutes.

Every overpass and city street collapsed under the relentless bombardment and the walls that surrounded the forge-city fell flat and tumbled to the ground.

Death reigned supreme and nothing survived upon the face of the earth. Only below the ground was deemed safe to dwell during the minutes that grew into hours.

As quickly as the orbital strike had started it ended and nothing remained on the surface except crumbling structures enveloped in flame.

As the soldiers made their way to the transports they felt the sudden change in vibration and noticed the dimming of lights at the release of each shot. They did not have the time to worry as the massive bay doors began to open, revealing the planet below.

A force-shield nearly a meter thick glowed transparent blue as it separated the deadness of space from the Ants of Therra.

The soldiers were intent and resolved, brave men with nothing to live or die for except the freedom of their home world and the protection of their fellow man.

The fighter/ transport deck was the largest level in the ship, providing more than enough room for the soldiers, fighters, transports and bombers. Each of the men was given extra clips, barrels and power cells as they entered the bay.

Sixty-four thousand men gathered en mass. Sixteen thousand (the 35th and the 39th infantries combined) would be sent in first to secure the forge-city, then sixteen thousand more (the 43rd and the 91st) would join them in their effort to hold it.

Nearly thirty-two thousand would stay on board to pray for their brothers in arms.

Sending so few at landing was much different than the landings of the other armies of the empire.

Usually two hundred thousand were sent with armor and a crushing force that would not be denied. But the tradeoff was usually an eighty percent or higher loss.

This may be considered acceptable to the Warmaster, but not to the heads of Therra’s armies. Their men were not expendable.

They had been trained for war their whole lives and each man was valued and useful to the other person beside him. They were family; they were the Ants of Therra.

Lord General Seel’s voice replaced the blaring claxons. Everything stopped as if caught in time. The place became still and quiet except for the ever present vibrations of the ships massive engines.

The banners of Therra and the Emperor along with strips of thin parchment scribed with the praise and prayers and promises and life oaths of each life aboard Therra’s Pride fluttered softly as the recyclers pushed stale air from vents placed along the great ceiling overhead.

Floating scribe skulls floated upon lime green grav-fields above the gathered mass and recorded even the most softly spoken word. Their machine eyes watched over every movement and the pict-recorders committed every aspect of the gathering to keep as a prized record of history for the generations to come.

Forcefully, Lord General Seel’s voice boomed over the feeds, ‘Remember why we fight, and remember for whom we fight. This war is greater than we are and larger in scale then we are, but we will rise up like the ants that are on a trillion worlds and make the enemy pay for their treachery!

We will make them pay for what they have done to our brothers and sisters! We will make them pay for their lust for blood and death with their very lives! When fear comes to your inner man, greet him with a kiss and depend on him to guard your lives! Fear is not our enemy; they are our enemy down there on the planet’s surface.

Remember the cost of freedom is high, but the prize shall be great. Body parts can be replaced but our home world cannot. Kill the enemies of Therra! Kill the enemies of the Emperor! Honor God, honor the Emperor!’

With one voice the men responded to the Lord General’s words of blessing. They stomped their feet and gave thanks that they were born for such a time as this.

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Default Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Two-hundred and thirty six heavily armored, mat-black bombers hastened away from the hanger bay a full ten minutes before the transports and their escort of Wasps.

The blackness of space enveloped them, their dark glare proof bodies blending well with the inky darkness.

They fell away from Therra’s Pride in single file until the last one exited through the giant bay doors.

At first glance they appeared to just free float, turning slowly downward toward the planets surface and the green tinged glow from below. But as the time seemed to ebb by, the lead Bomber flared its engines and they burst forth…six fiery suns illuminating the next bomber in line.

Like angry avengers, they moved with purpose and broke the outskirts of the stratosphere, thunder-cracks of energy booming as the weightless silence of space gave way to the planets gravity.

The sound of their engines could no longer remain empty and like the roaring of an angry god they announced their defiance to the world below. Like birds of prey they swept down through the heavy purple and black choking dust and smoke in the Rexis atmosphere.

The clouds had evaporated and fled because of the bombardment giving way to the billowing smoke, rising dust and blackened ash from the ruins of the forge-city below.

All two hundred-thirty-six bombers came in with such speed the enemy, still reeling from the surprise attack was cought out in the open and unprepared for the next assault.

Life Force was the leader of the Last Angels.

Marcus Chaven was its Captain and had flown many sorties in many battles. So far everything was going to plan, just the way Regis Plose had said.

Regis Plose was the leader of squad Fist and the Captain of Silent One. Marcus Chaven and Regis Plose had grown up together, went through basic training together and had flown together many times. They were the best of friends…more than that they were brothers. A relationship like that in this war-torn universe was hard to come by…a rare thing even at the best of times.

After the bombardment had stopped, they knew the next move would go smoothly. They would come in and unload their massive loads then exit the scene in time for the transports to land, escorted by the Wasps.

Life force was the first one in, followed by his command; half of the legion, one-hundred -eighteen bombers…the Last Angels.

The first bombs were dropped and fell into the massive power plants and past the rust covered exhaust stacks. They exploded upon impact and decimated everything near them. Liquid flame purged everything above ground, while the bombs impacts shook the levels below.

The shock waves from the deadly onslaught ripped through nearby buildings, tankers and exhaust stacks leveling many of the structures and shaking many more to their very foundations.

The next bomber came in and released his load, then the next and the next until every one of them had exhausted their loads. The destruction was nearly total.

Flames and blue electric lightnings shot out in every direction and black fire filled smoke rose up in massive clouds that only added to the denseness of pluming debris in the air.

Everything went exactly to plan until, from the low mountains to the east a section of stone opened and like flying lice… the enemy poured out.

Bo’sae Wrokle was the first of the many pilots to see what was happening. The smoke was so thick most pilots were flying by instrument and not by sight, but Wrokle looked out the nose-cone view port. His surprise was short lived!

‘Frack! Frack! Were under fire from behind! From behind! Oh Frakssssssssss!’

The Chaos fighters emerged from the smoke and engaged their prey from behind. They were covered in signs that were foul and deamonic and the skins and skulls, hands and feet of the dead along with other unrecognizable body parts adorned the dread enemy’s crafts.

Las cannons puked dark energy at the vulnerable bombers. Hundreds of them enveloped the bombers and forced them into tight formations where they could not fight back with their many las-cannons that dotted their hulls for fear of catching each other in the crossfire.

In the first few minutes sixteen bombers came apart and fell to the heavily jungled ground below where they would be swallowed up and never found again. Many more were wounded but still fought back as best they could.

The Chaos fighters were very fast and well piloted. Captain Plose in Silent One directed a massive counter attack and was able to spread the forces of squad Fist into covering formations. The Last Angels were being torn apart. Already seventy-eight bombers had fallen from the sky and thirteen more were under direct assault.

Squad Fist came in from above in loose covering formation and began to pick off the enemy that sewed themselves between the remaining bombers of the Last Angels.

Caught by the surprise attack from the Chaos fighters, the bombers were not able to exit the landing zone, instead they and the enemy clogged the air space.

The entire sky above Bandon was blackened with the smoke of exploding shells, damaged craft and exhaust from the spent fuel it took to carry on.

Some of the bombers put up a violent fight for their own survival, firing round after round into the enemies ranks of fighter craft, but were overcome by the sheer force of overwhelming numbers and determination of the enemy.

The first transports left the safety of Therra’s Pride. Three hundred and twenty transports and nearly five hundred Wasps were sent ten minutes after the bombers disembarked. They were like hive wasps leaving their nests, angry they had been disturbed.

As soon as they were past the ships bay doors the force of gravity lifted and the weightlessness of space enveloped the eager passengers.

For a moment the weight pressure of their chameleon armor, packs, weapons and field kit vanished. There was a feeling of total freedom.

Captain Drea’s unit settled in to the vertical benches they leaned against, the net belts supporting them as they descended to the planet’s surface.

Condensation appeared on the walls, ceiling and floor as the transports left the safety of space and entered Rexis atmosphere.

Demetrious Drea could hear the pilots, their voices becoming more strained as they entered the chosen area for drop. Their monitors were relaying the transmissions of the bombers.

‘Silent One to Life Force, things are too hot down here! Drop your load and get out!’

‘Life force to Silent One, we hear you.’ static filled the monitor for a second. ‘Life Force, lift and exit! Lift and Exit!’

‘Silent One, we can’t. Were hit! Oh, Emperor’s Blood were hit! Were going dow…..’ The scream’s of the crew of Life Force blasted through the monitor.

Being the closest one to the pilot pit, Captain Drea could hear more than most of the others farther back from the com’s and monitors. He could hear the pilots yelling into the head mics. Then he began to hear one of the pilots begin to scream as fire enveloped his body.

The transport began to vibrate wildly, lifted and then for a moment seemed to fall for the longest time. The men inside held on to the web nets that surrounded them so tightly the sound of their knuckles popping could be heard like gunfire from a small stubber.

They clenched their teeth and began to pray to the Emperor they would live to fight. A few of the men began to panic as fear took hold of their hearts and tears rolled down their faces. None wanted to die, but dying without even having fired a shot was shameful …the thought of that was torment to an Ant of Therra.

It all seemed to happen in slow motion as one side of the transport buckled and pinched three men in half, their chameleon armor severed like paper. Blood shot directly across the isle and covered the men on the other side. The buckled compartment erupted and fell away pulling all those strapped in to that area out and away into the blistering atmosphere beyond; their screams could be heard over the roar of the engines as they fell away.

Instantly the pockmarked glare of the besieged planet charged in to momentarily wrestle and overtake the darkness in the once sealed vessel. The wind laughed at those that remained in the transport and the suction, because of loss of cabin pressure, pulled violently on them like a giant playing with a toy.

Captain Drea saw all this. He knew it all happened in less than a second; it was as if time had stopped and let him see clearly what the enemy could do in the blink of an eye. At that moment fear came to his inner man. He looked at those who remained and knew that fear had come to them also.

They all looked out across the sky and landscape and saw fire plumes erupting all around them and the other transports.

The Wasps were flying like humming birds and blasting at the enemy fighters that had come to greet them. There were collisions and flashes of light!

Bodies burned as they fell to the ground far below as transports came apart and their fuel supplies burst into flame.

One of the transports spiraled out of control having been struck directly through the nose-cone. A moment later the walls exploded outward, bodies were flung out through the new openings and slammed into the intakes of oncoming fighters, disintegrating the engines as the burning bodies came apart and jammed their workings.

Blue flame and black smoke surged snakelike from the transports entire body. Then like a rock it fell away into the jungles where it slammed into tree after tree and came apart like glass thrown against a million walls.

Drea and his men tried to turn away but fear held their faces firm in its icy grip and lanced their hearts with its steely finger and pointed out every detail of what was to come.

Then Captain Demetrious Drea called out with a loud voice ‘Men of Therra, fear does not wish to hold us captive but to enlighten our senses; when we land fallow me!’

Even though the world around them was spinning out of control, the pilots of the many transports gathered their wits and bearings and flew as if this was their last flight…for many of them it was.

The murderous Chaos fighters were relentless and fought to the bitter end. They had taken the bombers by storm and all but decimated their ranks, fewer then half the bombers would return. But the tide of the battle was pushed quickly back once the Wasps entered the fray.

The Wasps and the Chaos fighters took off after each other like six hundred flies chasing each other with las cannons blazing.

Wasps were melted and fell apart when struck by the massive las bursts that belched from the Chaos fighters.

Men fell like burning, screaming lumps of meat from their broken cockpits.

But the enemy did not fare any better. For each Wasp they shot out of the atmosphere, ten of theirs were lost, exploding violently when their ammunition or fuel tanks were touched by the las bursts of the Wasps.

Another transport was struck from underneath as a Chaos fighter ascended upwards like a daemon escaping the darkest reaches of the warp. It unloaded four rockets at almost point blank range. The floor of the transport blew upwards and instantly cremated the men inside.

Those that had not died in the initial burst fell out and one by one met their deaths bursting on the trees, rocks and burning buildings below like jars of jelly dropped upon a concrete floor.

General Joseph Machais was in a transport with Chief Medic Zilar and his team of field medics. They were accompanied by thirty of the most battle savvy men in the units. They were personally hand picked by General Machais, one man from each forwarding unit.

He was accompanied by Sergeant Omais Quavel. Omais Quavel was a smaller, thin man, but he was a master strategist. He was cunning and one of the quickest men Machais had ever seen, both mentally and physically.

Machais knew the field medics had to be there, in the hell to come. He knew their skills were essential to the mission. They were not the only medics. There were at least two per fifty men. There were not many field medics so they were highly trained and protected.

Chief medic Zilar and his team was larger than most, a small unit of six men who were used for higher risk missions. They would be part of the insert team that would infiltrate the Bandon power plant.

Machais knew that if worse came to worse Zilar’s team could fend for themselves. They had gone through the same training the other soldiers had gone through and more. The medics could not afford the distraction of close personal combat; they had to be freed up to attend to the injuries that most certainly would come upon them.

This is why General Machais assigned these thirty men to protect Zilar and his team until they could meet up with Major Ri Shun and his insert team. Machais knew they would not fail in the mission, if only they could reach the ground in one peace first.

In order for there to be an ending there had to be a beginning and landing was the beginning. The whole transport was shaking violently because of the turbulence and concussions of enemy fire from the ground that had only just recently added to the confusion.

Chaos fighters were relentless in their attacks and stitched the atmosphere with their las-cannons and plasma bursts. Though shaking from the transports moving, dropping and sudden lifts, General Machais kept everyone calm and focused.

He had been through these types of drops many times before and had come to the realization that when it was his time to go not even the mighty Emperor could persuade death’s hand from snatching him. He had made peace with death a long time ago, but he could read on the faces of some… they had not.

‘Relax as best as you can, stressing will not help you get to the ground any safer…besides when we get done with this mission many of us will have a great story to tell and maybe some scars to show the ladies.’ He said with a smile.

For a moment everyone just stared at him as if he were crazy.

It was loud and the vibrations were alarming. The thrust of the engines was almost unbearable and the sounds of the concussions from exploding enemy shells could be heard and felt above the din.

One of the soldiers revealed a scar on his arm as he laughed and said, ‘I don’t need any new scars, the wife back home was worse than the enemy on the ground. That’s why I came on this mission, I needed a break.’ Everyone laughed despite the situation they were in. Everyone seemed to relax a bit and set themselves to their prayers for the mission to come.

Many of the bombers were still in the area unable to escape the web Chaos had spread. Captain Regis Plose and the crew of Silent One had personally shot down thirteen enemy fighters, but in the process had become so badly damaged there was no way they could return to the battle-carrier.

Plose ordered all that could, to return to Therra’s Pride. He knew he had to do something to save as many lives as possible. Many of the other crews protested the order, not willing to abandon their leader, but an order was given and the order would be carried out.

Plose looked at the gauges, they were going wild. Fuel was leaking and the hydraulics were damaged. Flames were beginning to caress the skin of the bomber like an evil woman’s embrace. Many areas were already filled with electrical charges and smoke was thickening throughout each compartment.

The filters in each man’s armor were working. At least breathing was not a problem. Through the dark grey, smoky atmosphere Captain Plose could see where the Chaos fighter reinforcements were coming from.

The side of the mountain that had opened and vomited the enemy out against them was still open and Chaos was still pouring out like angry bees from their nest. He knew the opening had to be closed at all costs.

Plose knew there was no going home, he knew he and his crew was going to die. But how they died was still a choice that they had and that could not be taken from them.

As the crippled, burning bomber approached the entrance to the mountainside; the enemy took notice of them and began to pour all the fire power they could muster in their direction.

Parts of the bomber fell away and were caught by the wind. The bombers payload had already been used, the only weapons they still had were the giant las-cannons that had been firing violently from many points all over the ship.

The crew knew this was it, many were already dead, shot, burned or blown apart by enemy shelling. The Captain made his last transmission through the barely working vox systems.

He switched to the all channel frequency and said, ‘No greater love can a man have than to lay down his life for his friends,’ He paused a moment then added, ‘You have all been my friends!’

With that, Silent One slammed violently into the opening, careening murderously into seven or eight Chaos fighters that were trying to escape the openings gaping jaws.

The payloads of the fighters, combined with the weight and fuel of the bomber lit up the mountain-side like a thousand suns. The whole side of the mountain crumbled in upon its self; rocks and trees fell freely to the jungle floor below. Smoke and dust erupted, bursting into the upper stratosphere and was carried away by the solar wind.

The sacrifice of Captain Plose and his crew stopped the advance of the Chaos reinforcements. Many of the Chaos fighters locked in combat lost their nerve at the sight of the mountains collapse and were cut to pieces as they tried to disengage from the fight.

The battle for the Rexis atmosphere had been won.

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Default Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The surviving Wasps patrolled the airways above Bandon and allowed the transports to proceed to their various landing sights, where the Ants of Therra could deploy under minimal attack from above or on the ground.

The organization of the men as they deployed was simply astounding. As soon as the transports landed they were emptied of men and cargo immediately.

The soldiers that were on the ground ran as fast as they could and took up firing positions that covered and overlapped each others field of fire. Pretty much everything on the ground had been totally and utterly decimated!

The bombers and Therra’s Pride had been thorough. Giant jungle trees had been blown to peaces with nothing but the splintered stumps or the root systems showing. Rocks were overturned and giant craters dotted the ground for kilometers around from the iron spheres that smashed through the deflector shield.

The air was filled with the smells of war, fire and burned chemicals and flesh.

From a hill not far from the transports landing, the once proud industrial forge city of Bandon could be seen.

The runes stretched out across the landscape and fire still burned, violently fanned by the wind. The assault had only destroyed and killed everything on the ground, not what was under it.

Even through the flames, smoke and debris, movement could be seen. Mortar fire landed among the transports, they were an obvious target. Though the men could blend into their surroundings, the transports could not.

The mortar fire was not within range and was sporadic, falling like rain all over. Trees and dirt erupted as the mortar shells came closer to the transports. It would not take long for the enemy to find their range.

As soon as they could, the transports were unloaded of their cargo and men. Once the transports were freed from their heavy loads they ascended back and away from the area, away from the threat of enemy shelling.

Within minutes the Ants of Therra had begun their advance into the face of death.

They closed the distance between the jungle floor and the demolished, burning structures of Bandon. The enemy continued the shelling, sending shell after shell into the jungle hoping to destroy at least one of the transports as it unloaded its contents.

The explosions sent shockwaves and shrapnel into the advancing armies of Therra that sent men fling in shredded, bloody peaces that fell like rain among their peers.

The mimic-armor the men wore saved them from the worst of the enemy’s retribution but could not save all of them. Mortar rounds explode where they land and destroy even the things the eyes miss.

What the enemy saw as they climbed from the ruins and looked out past the fallen forge-city walls they did not fully understand. If they had understood, they would have retreated back to the relative safety of the burning ruins behind them.

Like heat waves advancing towards them the Ants of Therra marched, their chameleon-armor bending the light and wrapping the view of the surrounding jungles around them.

The armies of Chaos continued to erupt from holes in the ground, collapsed basements and cracked structures; many of them having fresh scars, burns, and self inflicted mutilations that caused glistening gore to run down their bald, pale, deformed bodies.

Some were well armed, having las-guns and rocket launchers while others were armed with knives, pipes, broken glass and rocks. They rose from beneath the forge like rats flooded in the sewer. In their sickness they could not possibly understand the danger they were in.

The enemy began to scream and howl and surge forward hoping to overtake the transports that had withdrawn to a safer distance and slaughter those inside before they could escape.

General Machais gave the order to open fire and immediately nearly fourteen and a half thousand trained soldiers sent skilled, well aimed shots from their sniper rifles. With so many firing, many shot the same target.

Nearly six thousand of the damned were shot to pieces, their bodies collapsing and coming apart as small holes appeared in their chests and exploded out their backs in fountains of blood and viscera.

They fell like trees pushed by nuclear winds. The enemy stumbled over their dead in utter confusion. They could not see who attacked them and began running in all directions and lashing out at each other.

They cursed their gods and cut themselves even as they began to wage war upon themselves! Their blood flowed freely from their wounds and pooled in the craters and cracks in the ground.

General Machais called in an air strike onto the enemy position and ordered the men to take cover. Within two minutes the Wasps came back around and fired their hellfire missals into the teeming masses of Chaos filth. Bodies instantly vaporized and came apart as the floods of fire poured into them.

Those on the outskirts were set ablaze and screamed as they writhed on the blackened ground as their skin melted from their tormented souls.

The sounds and smells of their death would forever echo in the minds of the armies of Therra… the survivors of the battle of Rexis and the forge city of Bandon.

General Machais stood up as the sounds of death began to subside and gave the command to advance once more. The Ants of Therra marched into the forge city killing anything that still moved.

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Default Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Captain Drea’s unit had been struck hard even before crash landing. What were once fifty men was now down to thirty- seven.

The transport had crash landed deep in the jungle that surrounded Bandon.

While one pilot burned to death the other pilot tried to create a controlled fall after they had been blasted by enemy fire.

Like a comet, the transport tumbled from the sky violently rolling in tight circles, smoke and debris cascading in ashen trails behind them until the pilot was able to regain a semblance of control.

‘Brace yourselves!’ was all the pilot had time to scream before the transport slammed into the thick jungle trees and began to roll it‘s thirty ton mass over and over again.

Its massive armored hull crashed and deflected and tumbled through the splintering trees and where the Chaos fighters had blown holes in its side, branches were thrust in like spears that ripped apart anything or anyone they came in contact with.

The noise was absolutely deafening and the vibrations from the transports rolling decent disorientated the minds and shook the bones of the men inside.

The transport continued to twist and fall until it struck the jungle floor, rolled, flipped and came to a jarring stop in a brackish moss covered swamp bed.

The protective crash-nets that held the soldiers in place had been pulled away from the ship’s frame in many places, but most of the individual safety straps had constricted tightly around the soldiers bodies and prevented the men from being flung throughout the transports body.

The pilots were dead. Having endured the full brunt of the crash head on, their bodies were smashed into paste and their bones crushed into thick pasty powder.

Anything that had not been securely fastened or bolted down had been flung about the inside of the transport and strewn about the crash sight. Each peace of flying debris had become a potential weapon that injured many of the men that had been struck.

Many hung limply, trapped in the netting and unconscious; their breath rasping through their respirator filters in their full faced helmets.

Almost immediately the transport began to sink in the waist high water.

It seemed the mud’s depth could not be measured for as it sank, brackish, moss covered water poured in; filling every space it came in contact with with pungent foul smelling, mud filled sludge.

Bubbles rose and popped releasing long forgotten gasses and spores into the air. Snake like creatures and meter long centipedes swam in the freshly churned muck. There was a light fog or mist that rose and swirled ankle high, it covered everything with dew. Insects buzzed and skittered everywhere creating an almost eerie musical sound in the air.

Lichens, mosses and vines covered everything or hung from tall trees; from the highest limb to the deepest hole and dark green and blue tinted leaves created a curtain so dense it became claustrophobic.

Wild exotic flowers and funguses displaying a wide spectrum of colors and smells that grew from giant lily pads, the ground, tree bark and even from the very rocks themselves where everywhere .

Darkness seemed to be all encompassing except for the shafts of light that moved ever so much with the swaying of the trees.

With all of this, the humidity in the air became thick with the smells of mold, dead plants and decomposing creatures that saturated all it touched… a powerful force that weighed down everything and made it hard to breath.

The transport began to sink more quickly as unseen forces from below, tainted by Chaos wrapped it’s choking death grip around it and pulled unmercifully.

The transport began to roll ever so slightly. Lt. Alaxander Sill woke up twisted, upside down and hanging from the webbing that had saved his life. His head was spinning from blood pressure and gravity.

Every muscle and joint hurt from the crash. He was bleeding from his mouth, ears and nose. The blood had collected in his helmet and saturated his hair up to his forehead.

As he released himself from the netting he could feel the blood running down his neck, back and face as all that was collected in his helmet drained and was pushed down by gravities hand. He felt cold, dizzy and numb.

He fell from the netting and landed back first into the warm putrid water. His watertight suit kept him dry, but the shock of all that was happening caused him to flounder like a drunken man in an earth quake.

He heaved but did not vomit. He was sick to his stomach, probably a concussion. His vision cleared a bit as he looked around.

Some of the men had already come to and had released themselves from their restraining straps but still struggled in the crash nets. Sill stepped forward through the rapidly rising swamp muck as he tried to take in the scope of the situation.

Some of the branches that had entered through the hole in the transport’s side had pierced themselves through the torsos of two men like nails through a finger. One of soldiers would never wake up, the other was fully conscious.

Izak Zomel was glad for the briefest of moments that he could not feel what had happened to him because of the shock he was in, but after a few moments the pain accompanied by fear slammed into him and he began to scream as loud as his punctured torso would allow.

He would scream until the air left his lungs, inhale raggedly then scream again too totally consumed by shock and fear to be able to control himself.

Lt. Sill stood waist high in the filth almost frozen in place listening to the dieing man’s screams and watching blood filter down to mix with the mud and water.

Captain Drea hung limp in his netting still unconscious from the trauma, the restraining straps meant to hold him in place hung limply above his crumpled form.

Lt. Sill quickly assessed the situation and found they had precious little time even as the transport began to roll a little more. ‘Come to!’ He yelled.

Heads turned slowly in his direction as if looking through a dream. There were moans and yells as others began to realize the danger they were in.

Bodies splashed in the muck as men fell from their netting and struggled to right themselves. Many of the survivors struggled through the transport fighting to get to the unconscious and injured.

‘Get everything and everyone out as fast as you can, were sinking. Jajo, help me with the Captain. Medics, is there any way to save the life of that man?’ He motioned to the man that was pinned and impaled to the inside of the ship.

Bubbles popped, plopped and burst inside and outside the transport as it listed to the side and took on more water. As it did so, the branch that was pinning and impaling the unfortunate soldier lifted upwards to the transport floor.

With a breathless scream the man was pulled apart. His mimic-armor held and his inverted body slumped. Blood poured from his neck seal and respirator as his helmet filled and finally overflowed.

The medics looked back at Lt. Sill and shook their heads.

Sill and Jajo grabbed the Captain firmly and freed him from the webbing he was held into. They set him upright and pulled him towards the opening in the side.

Coday Chopple pulled his cyber blade and cut the branches out of the way. The transport continued to roll causing everyone to slide in the slick mud and struggle to gain their footing.

Those that could do so, grabbed the wounded first and exited the craft.

It all seemed like slow motion as the transport finally rolled over the rest of the way. Trapped inside, several men still struggled to gain their footing.

The hole was now almost directly above them.

Mud and sickeningly sour smelling water flowed in like oil through a funnel. Every step they took was like stepping through wet sand with hundred pound weights on their legs. Everything they grabbed had become slimy and oily.

The men inside began to panic and call out to their brothers. Outside those that were close enough tried to help, but the suction was so great they were being dragged down with the ship.

Lt. Sill and several others formed a chain of arms, belts and guns trying to save as many as they could. Those closest to the transport had no choice and had to be pulled to safety themselves even as they began to sink quickly as if being pulled by unseen hands.

Weeping and in shock all those still alive and conscious watched as the transport and those inside slipped away never to be seen again. This place would forever be their tomb.

Giant air bubbles rose to the surface and burst until at last the water became calm, the floating plants drifted back into place and only the sounds of the jungle could be heard. It was as if nothing had happened there, just like death was not as close as everyone had just seen.

Lt. Sill had been so excited back on Therra’s Pride, but now his excitement was gone. It was replaced with physical, mental and worse of all spiritual pain. Their unit had started with fifty men, soldiers of Therra. And before they had even seen the enemy twenty-one of his fellow soldiers, men he had known, fought with, laughed with and mourned with were dead.

Everyone in the unit could feel the loss. No one moved for a long moment. Lt. Sill motioned to the medics and with a now very tired, strained voice asked them to look after the captain and then to check on everyone else. They were all aware that their mission was far from completed.

Captain Demetrious Drea came to with a snap. His head was in a fog and there was a foul moldy stench in the air. His helmet was off.

He felt the breezeless air with its humidity kissing him. His eyes burned and the headache he had, descended down to his lower back, hips, right leg and also in his left arm.

‘The painkillers will kick in in a moment. Where do you hurt the most?’ Drea looked up wearily into the faceplate of Jo’or …one of the medics.

‘My right leg and left arm both hurt quite a bit.’ Drea responded like he was drugged, slowly trying to gather his wits.

Jo’or quickly scanned for injuries. ‘You’re going to have some real bruising and stiffness but there are no breaks.’ He said.

‘How long was I out?’ Drea asked slowly shaking his head. The fogginess was beginning to leave him as he set up and looked around.

‘About twenty minutes’ Jo’or answered while watching Drea’s eye movements for signs of concussion. As Drea focused on the sight he noticed the wide, long and debris strewn path the transport had made. He fallowed the path to where the ship should have been. ‘What happened?’ he asked.

‘The pilots tried to put us down safely, but we had already lost too much altitude. We crashed over there and sank almost immediately…we saved all we could.’ Jo’or answered with a pain in his voice, but with controlled emotion that came from many years of discipline.

Demetrious Drea could tell the medic was struggling to hold on, everyone was. With his helmet was off he could not see where everyone was, just outlines and shadows.

Everyone blended in to well in their chameleon armor to be able to keep track of without the proper equipment, he wanted to know the state of the unit and their strength. ‘How many of us are there and what is our location?’

Setzer Kreol answered, ‘Sir there are twenty-nine of us left.’ He paused for a moment to let the captain take in the loss and then continued, ‘We are here, sir, about seventeen kilometers from Bandon… here.’ He motioned to the data-slate he held in his upturned hand.

A data-slate with a copy of all the maps on file for Rexis had been given to every communications man and unit leader before deployment so everyone would have a clear understanding of the objective.

This map was an over view of the twenty-seven kilometer area of Bandon and the surrounding jungles along with the three river entrances that led into the heart of the planet. It was as detailed as could be given considering the cloud cover and denseness of the jungle below.

It was clear enough to show where they should have been and the general area of where they were.

The forge city, Bandon, was near the center of the map, but the area where they had crashed was south west from there. The three rivers that supposedly ran under the forge city and into the core of the planet were marked.

It was obvious to captain Drea that his unit was much closer to one of the river entrances than the battle front. ‘Kreol, try to reach command and see if you can arrange a pick-up anywhere close by.’

After a few moments of trying to reach command without success, the decision had been made. The river entrance was the only logical place to go…straight south, into the heart of the jungle.

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
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Default Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Every step was like walking through poison. The churned up muck and stirred water and filth released noxious fumes and sickening smells that caused their eyes to water and made it hard to breath even though their respirators.

They had traveled for hours but it felt like days had gone by with little progress. There were many times they came to an impassable area where the mud would collapse under their feet.

Where the mud collapsed, the water and muck would seek to fill the emptiness, causing mighty vortexes that would pull at the very souls of the men near the gaping holes.

Torturous nightmare screams could be heard from deep below as two men had been sucked down with no hope of being saved. Others had fallen into the vortexes but had grabbed onto overhead branches or roots of near by trees until the hole would fill.

They had to find solid ground soon.

Each of the men felt like they were being stalked by the jungle itself. Trees seemed to move and sway in a way that cut off all long distance view. Sometimes the trees would lower their branches only to be cut off by a well placed cyber-blade.

Rat sized leeches attached themselves to their chameleon-armor and bore through with thousands of razor like teeth, inject an anesthetic like fluid, and slowly drain the blood from their host. Every few minutes everyone would check the person nearest to them, quickly killing the parasites.

Thousands of different kinds of insects ran, swam and lay in wait to engulf their prey.

There were tiny gnats that flew in massive clouds that resembled rolling fog on a moonless night that threatened to clog the respirator filters and air intake ports of the men‘s helmets, making it difficult to breath.

Their skin began to crawl from the fungus that seemed to permeate everything including their mimic-armor.

Massive root balls rose up nearly four meters out of the water and gave the impression of massive spider legs. Creatures of all kinds lurked and traveled through the cave-like environment they created.

This was truly an ancient place, untouched by man. The tree trunks were massive in this part of the jungle, almost as wide as a transport truck. There was very little light in this part of the jungle because the branches of the trees had grown together creating a type of crust that separated the sky from the jungle floor.

Light was a rare thing here.

Massive fireflies flitted, bobbed and dipped, appearing and disappearing in the jungles darkness. Everyone in the unit was wary and tense knowing the chameleon armor they wore was not much help here. There were things stalking them that hunted not by sight, but by sense, smell and vibration.

It seemed that death permeated everything around them, even the very air was tainted by the sour smells of death and decay. After several hours of fighting the mud, humidity, parasites and environment, the unit pulled themselves up out of the mud and rested for several minutes on the spidery root systems that rose in places almost ten to twenty feet above them.

Alidor Solmon distributed vitamin packs and rations of water which they drank while battling the insects. After several minutes, captain Drea sent out Weland Jajo and Timothi Mirok to scout ahead.

Both master scouts, Jajo and Mirok were deadly, smart and efficient. They worked well together and trusted each others instincts as if they were their own.

Setzer Kreol climbed up beside the scouts before they went ahead. ‘We’ve been moving to the south-west for about six hours. That’s about five kilometers in this frack. You already know all of this, but with all the twists and turns there’s a chance of losing direction. The jungle trees seem to be moving all around us.’

Kreol was young, but very confident. Even in this filth he felt he should point out the obvious; but to him the obvious was still something that couldn’t be taken lightly. Most of his training had involved the secrets that lay hidden in the obvious. He had been taught to never take anything for granted.

As a communications officer it was his job to maintain every detail of his units’ position and the general developments of the ongoing situations pertaining to the battlefield, so, in the event he was called upon, he could give decisive information to those around him.

It was a testament to his expertise that in this situation, buried in the death swamps of Rexis, cut off from all the other units and the main battlefield, with no useable signal at all, that he was able to gather any information that was in any way useful.

As he pulled the data-slate out to show the scouts where they were, according to the programmed maps of the battlefield and the surrounding areas, Jajo noticed Kreol was shaking a little. ‘Kreol, when was the last you ate or drank anything?’

Kreol stopped and had to take time to think. He removed his helmet, revealing a smooth face with dark eyes that shone like the stars. He was sweating like a cold mug in a hot room, his blond hair was drenched and he was cold in spite of the sweltering jungle heat. ‘I really can’t remember.’ He said. ‘Maybe while still on the Pride.’

Jajo called over Solmon and Jo’or to attend to Kreol before he died of heat stroke and dehydration. Sometimes even to the most detailed of people the obvious isn’t obvious enough.

While the medics checked everyone else for dehydration and other discomforts, Jajo and Mirok slipped away and blended in as if they had never been there.

Drea had seen the scouts leave and knew they were the best in his unit, but he was concerned none the less. This place was not like anything they had ever seen before. While everyone hydrated themselves, cleaned their weapons and respirator filters, he watched, listened and prayed.

Jajo and Mirok stalked through the quagmire intently aware of every movement, sound and ripple around them. This place was like a nightmare that they were trapped in and they hoped they could find a way out.

Nearly an hour had gone by before Mirok stopped dead still and motioned to Jajo with one finger than with two fingers, pointing straight ahead in the dense jungle beyond. Jajo stopped and aimed his las-gun in the area Mirok had indicated.

Mirok snaked his way forward into the shadowy foliage, cyber-knife drawn. Mirok was not a man who was easily spooked but clearly something had his full attention. As Jajo watched, the vines around Mirok exploded with movement.

Mirok gasped and swung his blade instinctively back and forth cutting the vines one after the other even as others exploded from the foliage around him, wrapping themselves about him quickly, tangling him in silken threads as a spider might ensnare its prey. He fought to save himself but the harder he fought the more entangled he became.

Jajo wasn’t sure what it was exactly that he saw. The vines wrapped around Mirok’s legs and pulled him to the ground, cocooning him until he was helpless and screaming. Jajo ran as fast as he could through the mud and filthy water, tripping over submerged roots and rocks. He holstered his las-gun and pulling his cyber-knife even as he dived into the vines.

He slashed fiercely, cutting away massive vines from Mirok. The vines constricted with a mighty force in an effort to keep their prey, causing grinding, popping, crunching, violating sounds as bones were broken, dislocated and pulled from their sockets. Mirok’s armor cracked and the air in his lungs was forced out through his mouth in steady, weeping, begging pleas for help.

His ribs popped and turned inward piercing his lungs and heart. As he died the trunk of a tree opened up vertically, revealing a massive gullet and thousands of tiny, razor sharp teeth. The vines retracted and in the blink of an eye pulled Mirok inside.

Jajo fought with all his might trying to save his friend, then all at once realized he was ensnared as well.

He jumped backwards falling into the muddy filth in an effort to escape the deadly vines but it was too late, the vines had wrapped around his legs and were pulling him back. He felt helpless against the will of the vines. As fast as he cut a vine it was replaced by another.

The vines wrapped around his waist and torso, around his arms and shoulders. He dropped his cyber-knife and began to black out as the roots constricted. He knew he was going to die, but in that moment there was no fear, no flashing of his life before his eyes, no last wishes, there was only coldness and silence as he slipped into darkness.

Jajo woke groggily as Jo’or and Solmon forced air back into his lungs. He vomited up water and filth than took a deep agonizing breath. He hurt all over. Why was he still alive?

‘You’re going to be fine, just lay still for a moment.’ Hands held him down as he tried to sit up. He looked over and saw the tree splintered and burning.

Coday Chopple had been first in the area after Captain Drea had sent everyone out in the direction the scouts had gone. His concern was well founded.

Chopple had seen what had happened and was determined to do what was necessary to save his friends. The explosive pack he had thrown into the tree’s mouth exploded outwards and collapsed it into fiery splintered shards.

Chopple pulled Jajo free and voxed the unit. This jungle would become a deathtrap if they stayed to long as it‘s guests.

Captain Drea motioned to Kreol, ‘Find us a route to the river entrance as direct as possible. We’ve got to get out of this place before nightfall.’

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
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Default Chapter 9

Chapter 9

It did not need to be said because everyone in the unit were sure they would not live through the night.

Captain Drea’s unit had crashed deep within the jungles of Rexis, far to the south of Bandon…their primary goal. That had been nearly eleven hours ago.

They had left the battle-carrier with emotions running high; with excited hopes and eagerness to meet the enemy head on.

Some were scared or nervous, some anxious or had trepidations about the future, but all the solders of Therra were easily able to master those things that held them back because of the call to duty and the excitement that ran through their blood. All their training was meant to prepare them for the dangers ahead. They would be victorious. They had no doubts about that.

The plan had been to land and exit the transport at the edge of the Jungles that surrounded the industrial forge city of Bandon, and to join with the rest of the 35th and 39th Infantries in the initial assault.

Instead the transport had received heavy damage from enemy fire. With a hole in the side and the inability to control their direction and descent, they had tumbled from the sky and plowed through the jungle canopy.

Crashing and sinking in the mire, many had barely escaped with their lives and now the jungle was literally eating them one by one.

They had left the Therra’s Pride with fifty men in their unit. Now with only thirteen men alive the despair was palpable.

The dark jungle had become pitch black as night entered. In the darkness the jungle had come alive with shrieking beasts and sightless bat-like creatures that leached themselves to the wounded. They had to be cut from the wounds and pulled from exposed flesh.

Those with exposed wounds bit their tongues to keep from screaming as parasites and the night creatures struggled to bore into them. As hard as they tried to keep the blood drinkers from the wounds they could not do it.

The most they could do was cover the places where their chameleon armor had been ripped from the crash or pierced by flying debris.

‘Kreol, where are we?’ Lieutenant Sill asked while climbing over a fallen tree; its branches scraping the mud off his armor where he slid between them.

Setzer Kreol didn’t answer for a moment. He was sliding through the mud about three meters ahead and was exhausted.

Tidus Weilon was further ahead on point. He was usually pretty light hearted, the joker of the group. Most of the time the man could not stay serious for thirty seconds.

Most of the time he could lighten the mood but tonight he was somber, quiet and somewhat detached.

This place was toxic to the senses. It was like the air around them had been drugged. It might have been the flowering plants and vines that both smelled sweet and waxy through the filters of their respirators or it may have been the yellow powdery pollen the flowers exhaled onto their face-shields as they passed by.

There respirator filters kept filling as the gnats plagued them; they would have to be cleaned at least one time an hour or they would become too clogged and have to be replaced.

As if on cue, Weilon answered for Kreol, ‘I think I hear the river, it’s still a ways off yet but, yea, I’m pretty sure it’s the river.’ You could tell he was smiling in his helmet, proud of himself, as if he was the one that put the river there in the first place.

Their night-vision turned everything a glowing dark green, but cut through the darkness well enough so they could see up to fifty meters in this type of darkness.

‘I saw movement up ahead.’ Jajo said. He was pointing with his las-gun and crouching on the fallen log behind Lt. Sill.

Weilon stopped dead still. He was point man and was responsible for what he led them into; he scowled behind his facemask and focused diligently up ahead. There, almost forty meters ahead, he saw the movement as well.

He should have seen it first and was angry at himself for not doing so. He could have given away their position or even worse gotten everyone killed.

He motioned the hold sign to the others then crept ahead slowly, depending on his chameleon armor to aid in his stealthy observations.

With every step he closed the distance. As he inched forward he came to the edge of the tree-line and was able to see clearly the source of the movements.

Tidus Weilon lifted his hand and spread his fingers wide. With discipline everyone spread out, readying themselves for covering fire if need be.

The sound of the river was still a ways off yet, but everyone could hear it now. Captain Drea stepped closer to Weilon, as did Weland Jajo the scout leader. ‘There, between those trees across the clearing.’ Weilon said.

Drea pressed a button on his helmet’s faceplate. ‘Magnification ten times.’ He whispered. The trees suddenly came closer and seemed to part, revealing a tall figure holding a crude las- rifle.

It seemed he was looking directly at them, but there was no sign he had seen them.

Brauman Schisco placed the familiar sniper rifle’s stalk up against his shoulder and peered through the scope. He activated the scope’s night vision and x-ray settings. The x-ray wasn’t very powerful but was useful for looking through thin walls and dense foliage. He whispered ‘Two more beside him, behind the trees.’

Drea motioned Marcus Collen and Freemun Borok forward. Silently they walked directly to the two trees where the figures were. The enemy had no idea they were about to die.

Borok stepped out first and thrust his cyber-knife deep into the back of the first figures neck, twisted than pulled it out and threw it at the second figure’s chest, it glowed as it spun through the air until it slammed into the chest of the other man even as he turned at the sound of his partners’ death.

The blade plowed into the corrupted flesh and pierced through sternum and heart in a powerful display of force. The figure fell to his knees and died in a kneeling position as if praying.

Collen came about, quickly slicing the third figure from the lower back up to his collar-bone; the glowing blade cauterized the wound as it nearly cut the man in two. The enemy soldier silently writhed as pain seemed to explode throughout his entire body.

With Collin’s hand over his mouth his screams were virtually nonexistent; as he fell his body kicked about violently as the shock of the blade ended his life.

A fourth figure in the darkness began to fire his gun, blasting at the shadows that had killed the others. A bullet glanced off of Marcus Collin’s chest and imbedded itself into the stump of a fallen tree. Once more the chameleon armor did what it was designed to do.

The warped Chaos solder’s screams of rage were cut short as one shot from Brauman Schisco blew the enemies head apart.

For a moment the body just stood there, no one moved or spoke until at last the corpse’s knees buckled, the body collapsed and finally fell forward onto its chest onto the rocky, moss and vine covered ground.

Drea spoke first, ‘All clear?’

‘All clear.’ replied Collen stepping out between the trees. As they crossed the clearing, the sounds of the jungle faded behind them, drowned out by the sound of the river not far away.

What was left of captain Drea’s unit proceeded cautiously until they finally stood at the edge of a steep cliff. The ground closest to the cliff glistened from the faint moonlight that reflected off the wet rocky surface.

They cut long vines together and lowered themselves down to the riverbed. Near the moving water it was much cooler and the men relaxed a little as the stifling jungle heat passed away.

Large smooth round rocks covered the area where the rivers currents had once ran violently through the eroded cleavage. They were slippery and moss covered from the mist that billowed from the massive waterfall nearly three kilometers away.

The remaining Ants were grateful when Sim Jo’or revealed the findings of his water tests. The water was pure and clean of taint. They could drink it and cleanse their wounds.

Dehydration had set in and many of the Ants had started cramping up and suffering headaches. They all had lost weight from water loss.

It was not strange that they could become affected so quickly. This was a Chaos held world; here all the rules of survival were different. Everything changed.

Captain Drea commissioned Lieutenant Sill and Coday Chopple to guard duty and the others to get a little sleep or rest the best they could…he knew they all would have a better chance of staying alive if they were rested and ready for the next leg of their mission.

Setzer Kreol tried to contact command again, and again only received static from the vox set. He was hoping that since they were out from under the jungle’s canopy he would be able to get a signal. It was disappointing and frustrating that he could not.

Once more Captain Drea had to make a decision, stay here and die, killed by whatever came upon them or find the cave entrance and take their chances in the darkness.

They all had thought they knew the risks before they left the ship, but they were wrong. This was a death world in more ways than could be easily counted.

‘The mission of the 35th and the 39th Infantry is to eradicate all threats topside while infiltration teams move down into the depths of Bandon and destroy the generators that run this entire planet.’ Captain Demetrious said quietly.

‘There are three rivers that run into the depths and cool the generator equipment…this is one of those rivers. If we stay here there is a chance we will be picked up, or killed by whatever comes along, but if we find the river entrance and are able to reach the generators, there is a chance we could contribute to the mission.’ He watched them as he spoke, trying to gauge the moral of each of them.

‘I am the Captain and you are my charge. I take great value in you all and mourn the losses we have had…as such I could order you to stay or go, but it is not only my life that hangs in the balance… I make it your choice.’

The thirteen warriors were silent for a moment, then finally after what felt like an eternity, Josiph Kemeral spoke, ‘I say we did not come here to play it safe and dream of making a difference, but to find and kill the enemy in whatever way we can.

If we stay here the chances of killing the enemy is slim to none. Let’s go into the depths of this planet and frag its core.’ They all agreed and the wheel was set in motion. They would go.

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
Other stories from Adrian.
Look up Adrian in the "Compendium" to find them. Thanks

Last edited by Boc; 08-05-11 at 05:37 AM. Reason: Coding fix/default font and color
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-08-11, 01:18 PM
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I am simply amazed by the amount of awesome in this one! So detalised descriptions! All respect to you, man.
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