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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-18-11, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Default Gatekeeper

I've written a bunch of short stories on other sites, but this is the first one I've posted on Heresy. This is something I cooked up after a forum discussion. It’s pretty short compared to some of my other works.

Note, this was Edited by St.Gene who helped me with the flow of the story and grammar as well. Much thanks to him.

Reviews and comments are welcome.

Gatekeeper

***

I open my eyes.

My armor servos whine as I sit up slowly from the wreckage. A piece of rebar lies across my torso but I lift it off easily with my fist. Rubble and dust shifts around me as I regain my surroundings.

The Thunderhawk is a mess, the broken bodies of my brothers strewn around the place. Clotted Astartes blood stains the ground amidst the broken machinery. This is not good. Not good at all.

Lucian, Savior of Korvax, dead with a piece of rebar through his eye. Marius, veteran of the war against the Tyranids, is also dead. Caius, blood brother to all, lies limp and broken, his body unnaturally twisted.

It seems like a cruel joke that I alone survive in my war plate, while my friends die around me. But no, this is no time to mourn.

I activate the communication systems in my armor, linking up with the Battle Barge in orbit. The chronometer reads the planetary time as 0817.

0817? It’s been that long?

“Aquila One to all units”, I vox, my voice surprisingly hoarse. I take a moment to clear it.

“Milord! We thought you were dead! The greenskins-”

“-Will die for their temerity, I assure you. Give me the tactical situation.” I reply calmly.

“Half the city is under heavy bombardment. The greenskins have employed infiltrators and crude biological weapons on the West Gate. The rest of the fleet is occupied in orbit and unable to support you.” the report comes in.

“I understand. Where are the nearest Imperial forces?” I inquire.

“The Zalathrasian 16th PDF regiment is supposedly in your area, but they have yet to answer any signals, milord.” Answers the brother from orbit.

I am silent for a few moments. Most likely the worst has already happened, but such is war. One must do what he can, where he is, with what he has.

“I am moving into the West Gate immediately. Re-route reinforcements to my position only when the airspace above the city is clear.” I tell him in what I like to call my “command voice”.

“But, milord, we-”

“This battle is more important than me.” I say. I feel a wave of rising irritation. Sometimes being revered by those under your command can be…trying. “This battle is far more important than the life of one Astartes. We are bred to die in battle.”

“Focus your efforts on gaining orbital superiority. Cut off the greenskin’s reinforcements and air support, and then send in the Thunderhawks. Understood?” I ask.

“Of course, milord.”

“Good. Aquila One, out.” I shut off the vox and begin searching the shuttle. Where is it….

Ah, there.

I pick up the helmet, no mean feat when one is wearing dual power fists. I raise the helmet upon my head, then lock the pressure seals and sync the interface port with my Black Carapace. My armor’s machine spirit wakes up groggily, and data-runes begin scrolling across my visor. Power supply is at 83% percent. Life support is currently optimal along with my internal nutrient stores. Ammunition is 100%. Iron Halo is fully functioning. Everything is combat ready.

I begin reciting the Benediction beneath my helm as I stride towards the West Gate. “O Master of Fate, in your eternal wisdom; lead us from death to victory, from falsehood to truth. Lead us from despair to hope, from mercy to slaughter…”

-o0o-

Artillery rumbles in the distance as both Ork and Imperial crews tear each other to shreds, gunners killing each other from miles away. I’ll admit, it’s not the kind of warfare I’m used to, but it definitely has its merits.

Nothing like blowing up an Ork Nob from twenty miles away to brighten one’s day.

I activate my auspex. The city streets before me are empty, with wrecked groundcars and shattered homes. It’s like the mad vision of an artist on obscura. This bastion of hope and humanity has bee reduced to a blasted wreck.

My train of thought is interrupted by as soft beep as my auspex detects a single lifeform. I move forward, my servos whining softly as I come over to a piece of fiberglass on the ground. I gently remove it away and observe the form on the ground.

Dear Emperor, it’s just a child.

He can’t be more than five or six standard years old, dressed in a blue jumpsuit and is holding some sort of brown stuffed animal. His eyes are wide open, but do not see what is in front of them.

“Are you alright?” I ask, my voice slightly distorted by the external speakers on my armor.

No answer. I wave a massive hand in front of his face, but there is no reaction.

Nothing.

His mind had been shattered, I realize. His fragile worldview is gone. The destruction visited upon his home has reduced him to this vegetative state. He might as well be dead. I straighten and leave him reluctantly, offering a prayer to Primarch and Emperor to take care of the child.

Such is war.

-o0o-

The Ork is bending over the corpse of a PDF’er. Its green form is covered in dirty fatigues, and it wears a pair of thick green goggles over its head along with some sort of black doo-rag. It crudely whistles some tune as it butchers the corpse.

A single .75 caliber round punches through its head.

Its body flies through the air, head gone. I activate my auspex, sweeping the place thoroughly. Eight lifeforms inside the gatehouse.

The Zarathas Gate itself is a private entrance for the governor of the planet. It’s as wide as a Rhino. Coming behind and over it is the armored gatehouse. Currently its central door is open. I move quickly inside, my massive shoulders brushing the doorway. Something drops from above with a grunt. I grab it in midair and bring it down with a sickening crunch. The greenskin commando dies a bloody death under the weight of my power fist as I bring my other fist around and fire off a short burst from the boltgun.

Two more Greenskins are blown apart by the bolt shells. I’m not going to make an attempt to be stealthy in terminator armor. It’s just one of those things that nobody can do. With stealth out I go with the only thing left to me.

Brute force.

Four greenskins are down, counting the piece of filth outside. And If I am correct there are no humans alive here. That means…

Another bolter shot rings out.

…four left. I move quickly, looking about, auspex activated. The place is a charnel house. The PDF defenders are ripped apart. Butchered. Slaughtered. The greenskins took this place by trickery and stealth, not brute force. Unusual for them but I’ve seen them do this type of operation before.

Another greenskin comes at me, with some sort of blowtorch. I activate my Halo. The power field surrounds me as the flames billow off harmlessly. I fire a single shot in return. The body of the Ork falls back wetly against the wall.

Then I backhand another Ork with a fist, killing it, then raise my other arm.

One shot, one kill, one left.

The boss steps out, moving past the arc of my guns with some sort of crackling power claw. He is a big one, almost as big as me when I’m in war plate. He swings the claw at me. My Halo flickers and holds and I reach out and counter the next strike. I grab the power claw as he brings it back and I lash out with my own fist, activating the power field.

He tries to avoid it, but he’s too slow.

My power fist slams into his leather-covered chest and cores him like an apple. I withdraw my fist and kick away the corpse as the greenskin’s power claw deactivates.

They all fall down.

“Milord.” the tinny voice of my brother comes on the vox-line.

“Aquila One is here.” I reply, once again calmly. Always be calm in front of your soldiers, my mentor taught me.

“What is your status?”

“Contact has been made. Nine hostiles. Greenskin infiltrators. All dispatched. What is the fleet status? Are reinforcements or air support available?” I ask.

“No, milord. The Ork had hidden reinforcements behind the planet’s moon. It will be some time before the Navy can clear the airspace above the planet sufficiently enough for us to send in landing craft.”

Well damn,

“Also, our auger-sensoria are telling us that a large number of greenskins are heading towards the gate in motorized vehicles,” he says. If they gain access into this part of—“

“You don’t have to tell me. They will not breach the gate.” I tell him.

“Shall I pull out Alpha and Beta squads to reinforce your position, milord?”

“No, keep them at the other gates. We must not leave the other sections of the city undermanned.” I tell him firmly.

“Yes, milord.”

“Aquila One out.” I shut off the vox and look around.

This gate and gatehouse are still intact. If the greenskins are using vehicles, they will have to go through the central doorway, as the other are too small for any vehicle made by Orkish hands. Now all I have to do is fix the gate, and the Orks will beat against this place like water on a rock.

Easier said than done.

-o0o-

The first Ork attack came after noon. Huge Ork trucks and buggies noisily charged across the landscape, thick palls of black smoke drifting across the battlefield as their riders fired their ramshackle weapons into the air, screaming as they did so.

The first Ork dies as I heft the autocannon off its mount and blow it to pieces.

Even as scraps of poorly constructed buggy fly apart I’m already on the next vehicle, a truck. Autocannon shells pulp Orks riding the top rigging and then tear into the engine compartments, transforming the crude vehicle into an inferno of flame. The Orks just charge at the gate firing their guns. There is no order or rhyme to the attack. They just want to see things blow up.

I’m more than happy to indulge them of course.

Ork wrecks begin to dot the blasted earth in front of the city walls as I stall in their offensive. The sound of the Ork and Imperial bombardments is muted as a faint bubble appears over the city.

I look up and smile beneath my helmet. The void shields are online.

Fortunately, the Orks can no longer shell the city anymore. Unfortunately, they will now focus all their attention on capturing the gates.

Excellent.

The few remaining Ork vehicles turn around and head back. They currently do not have the numbers or the courage to attack the gate directly. Perhaps in a few hours they will have regained their determination.

-o0o-


The Orks try next with a battering ram.

It’s huge. The Orks have built it on top of some sort of Imperial vehicle. Whatever it was, it has long since been buried under the heap of scrap iron the Orks call a frame. Layers and layers of armor sheath it and some sort of battering ram is mooted in the front.

I fire, the autocannon kicking in my hands. Chunks of metal are blown off from the massive vehicle, but it’s no deterrent. The vehicle speeds on and on until it comes right for a collision course with the gate itself. The autocannon clicks dry in my hands and I curse. This is not a good time. Moments later the battlewagon collides with an unearthly screech of metal.

The gatehouse shakes, but I stand firm. Good old Terminator armor. Withstands impacts that can even shake a building. I turn and move quickly down the stairs, the triple-reinforced polysteel groaning under my weight. In the gate itself the vehicle is wedged in front of it. The front end is a slagged wreck with the rest of the vehicle looking similar as well. Of course, with the Orks, it’s hard to tell when something damaged or not with their particular brand of construction.

I access my armor systems and switch my bolters to single shot. I have a lot of ammo, but I need to conserve if, especially if reports on the xeno’s numbers are true.

The first Ork scaling the front of the vehicle dies with a bolt round through the head. Its corpse tumbled down as several more come leaping overhead, their hands clutching huge cleavers and chainblades alongside crude pistols.

Their warcry comes out deep and warbling, like some sort of mountain beast back home. I move forward, my fist tearing the head off the first greenskin. A cleaver rings off my gauntlets as I crush the head of another.

Leering green pig-faces. Iron cleavers, blazing pistols. Greenskins die slaughter then again and again. Again and again I hold them off as they climb over the vehicle into the narrow space below to fight me.

And then…

Nothing. No more blades, and no more snarling green faces. I check my chronometer.

One minute. It’s been one minute since this attack began and the Orks came. It seemed like a thousand years.

But it’s not over.

-o0o-

The greenskins come again at nightfall. I take the time to move the truck out and booby-trap it with some of the frag grenades I found on the dead PDF troopers. One part of me hates robbing from the dead. But in war, needs must.

And besides, it’s a revenge of sorts, the dead men contributing to kill the xenos once more.

I watch from the gatehouse as groups of greenskins come up in vehicles and dismount on foot, advancing recklessly to the partially blocked gatehouse. I move quickly down to the main gate itself just in time to hear the explosions.

The greenskins have triggered my traps. I simile coldly beneath my helm as xenos roars sound the night. Moments later alien bodies stumble through the narrow entrance and towards me.

Their body heat glows in the optical sensors as I sweep forward, a single bolt round taking out the first greenskin. Then I fire three more shots. Three more Orks die. A greenskin rushed me with a two-handed chainaxe. I tear off his arm and disembowel him with a sweep of my hand.

An Ork perched on the rear of the trukk opens fire with a massive stubber. The shells bound uselessly off my armor. Grenades land among me. I ignore the shrapnel. It can’t pierce my warplate. I answer with my bolters once more. The Orks come and come as they did before, in threes or fours through the wreckage and the narrow gate. I tear them apart with my hands. I dispatch them with my bolters. Orks with blades are engaged in close quarters. Anyone with a heavy caliber gun is taken out with a bolter.

For fifteen minutes this continues. Then…

Nothing. Just silence. I straighten up, and scan the area. Littered in, around, and in some cases on top of the gatehouse are the bodies of the Orks.

-o0o-

Its midnight when the leader comes.

My armor is war-scarred and fire-blackened, covered with dozens of scratches, bullet holes and grooves. It hardly resembles the original shining suit of war plate that I wore when I first boarded the Thunderhawk.

Outside comes the rumble of an engine. Then it stops. Something come out and lumbers towards me. More Orks follow behind and begin chanting their earth-shaking battle cry. “WAAAGH! WAAAGH!” they roar. Then the cries change.

“ZAZZKAR! ZAZZKAR!” they begin to shout. More orders come and the wreckage before me begins to shift.

Piled Ork bodies and bits of metal are torn out of the way by incredible force and six huge figures appear through the gateway. They stand a full head over the normal Orks. They have plates of iron and scrap bolted to their muscular forms, and carry power claws, sledge hammers and chainaxes.

The Ork elite. The nobles among their kind. The vanguard of their final assault.

I react quickly, my bolter pulps head of the first as it comes within arm’s length.

Click, the right bolter runs dry.

I raise my left gauntlet and open fire with a burst into the second. The chest and head of the beast erupts into a shower of gore as it topples back.

Click. Both guns gone.

I ignore a sledgehammer hitting my chestplate and tear the arms off the Ork Nob. It staggers about, kicking and snarling at me before I backhand its brains into the wall. I activate the Iron Halo, the field sizzling as two power claws strike it.

I uppercut another Nob, disintegrating the front half of its face. The other strikes as me again, but I block it and yank it around in time to smash my fist into his chest cavity. The remaining Ork leaps at me, then I head-butt it and bring both of my fists together in a clap.

Blood sprays over my visor as my armor’s systems activate to clear it out. Orkish gore covers my torso, and I kick away the corpse in time to see their leader come in.

Emperor on Terra. He is huge.

Bigger than me by a half head and almost as wide as two Terminators. He wears some sort of crude suit of armor connected together by servos and powered by some sort of smoking engine hiding beneath thick plates of armor. One hand terminated in a power claw, the other held an energy-sheathed chainaxe. Its face is ugly, even by Ork standards. Half of it looks like it was torn away and replaced by the Ork equivalent of bionics. A pair of monstrous tusks juts from the lower part of its immense jaws. Human skulls hang from its armor.

“OI’M ZAZZKAR.” it roared its voice deep, like granite rubbing together. It’s not a pleasant sound.

It pointed one claw at me. “TIME ‘T DIE, ‘ARD BOY!”

I say nothing. I don’t need to. I let my actions speak.

It roars and charges as me. I stand my ground, arms spread to intercept. When he hits I feel my entire body straining to hold back the green xenos-mountain of flesh in front of me. My left fist counters the claw and my right takes the chainaxe. Energy flashes and sparks as my Iron Halo activates. The chain axe moves with eye blurring speed as it strikes towards me. It’s halted by the energy field. My armor’s system flashes and warn me that power is about to run out for the Halo.

I leap back as I shut it off, but the chainaxe cut through the shoulder plate and slicing across my chestplate. White-hot pain streaks across my body, but I ignore it as my armor pumps painkillers and combat drugs into my system.

I raise a hand and block the claw. My Iron Halo activates again, absorbing the force of the chainaxe strike while my energy-sheathed fist slammed into his chest. It sinks all the way to the knuckles but goes no further.

Damn.

More pain blooms in my left shoulder as the Ork warlord lashes out, the tips of his claw ripping through the shoulder plate and cutting into my arm. My wound clots as I bash the arm away. I kick him in the gut.

The warlord does not react to the blow.

Pain flares once more in my right leg as the chainaxe comes too quickly and buries itself in my leg.

I fall to my knees.

Then I get back up.

Gritting my teeth I grab the wrist before he can yank it out. I twist and shoulder aside a mistimed power claw thrust and bring my other arm down upon the Ork’s elbow.

My own arm screams with pain, but it’s nothing compared to the Warboss’s new wound. The power field simply tears through, arm and chainaxe and all. The Ork snarls and screams, its power claw ripping at my back.

I respond by backhanding the Ork warlord in the face, and he falls back, giving me a moment’s rest. Seconds later I see his face. It’s a a mask of blood and oil where my fist impacted it. Overall, it’s hardly improved his looks.

The warboss charges forward and I steady myself. Then I lash out, ignoring the greenskin’s strike. Its claw tears though my side but I don’t falter, and my fist continues forward, right into the Ork’s chest.

Blood sprays as I bury deeper and deep, through hard machinery and tendons. The warboss lets out a half-gurgle and half grunt as I withdraw the fist. The claw comes to backhand me but I grasp it.

“I rise-” I say quietly as I drive my power in to the Ork’s body and seize his spinal cord. My gauntlet tears through his gorget and dives deep into the back of his neck. I hook into the skull and spinal cord.

“-you fall.”

Then I pull.

Oil, machinery, flesh, and blood all spill out as the Ork’s massive head and spine are violently separated from its body. Its head is so large it barley fits in my gauntlet and the spine smacks into the earth like a wet cable. The massive meat-mountain of the Ork’s body falls to the ground with a mighty thud.

I turn, body and armor protesting as I do so. With one throw I toss the head over the gatehouse and into the Ork horde gathered outside.

Then I sit and watch as the Ork army tears itself apart.

-o0o-


There was a crack of light, and Sergeant Crassus appeared outside of the gateway along with his squad. Their blue Terminator armor was blasted and scarred by the fighting aboard the Ork Space Hulk. It had been a tiresome fight, but the Astartes had won the battle and his squad had been re-routed with all speed to aid their commander. Brother Amellius tore aside the wreckage and the mountain of bodies as Crassus looked around the place. Piles and piles of Orks surrounded the gatehouse and filled the place inside. Forming the cornerstone of one such pile was a particularly hulking greenskin.

“Blood of the Emperor.” he shook his head.

Something rustled behind the massive corpse, and Crassius hefted his storm bolter. Then the form of his commander filled his vision.

His armor was blasted; blackened with the gore of an Ork army and covered with cleaver furrows and bullet holes. Whatever paint had originally adorned his armor was now covered in Ork blood or scraped off by countless impacts. His chest plate had been fractured, a great gash clipping the wing of the Aquila emblazoned on his chest. The Gauntlets of Ultramar where stained brown with ork gore up to the elbows.

“Milord! You are wounded!” Crassus said in concern.

Marneus Augustus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, Lord Macragge, Conqueror of Behemoth, Slayer of Beasts, Son of Guilliman, Servant of the Emperor, and Adeptus Astartes examined his gauntlets briefly before looking up.

“Space?” he asked.

“Milord?” Crassus asked.

“Did we win in space?” he clarified.

“Yes, milord. The Ork fleet had been annihilated, thanks to the effort of one Admiral Lycurgus.” Crassus answered.

“Good.” Calgar nodded slowly. Every nerve, muscle, and bone in his body was screaming at him to collapse. But he could not, because the enemy was still out there, and his brothers still needed him. Pain is only the beginning. A man has much more to give of himself after the pain starts, and Marneus Calgar was no ordinary man.

“We will return to Octavius. I need my armor repaired and refitted in ten hours. The Orks still pose a threat to this city, though their leader has been slain. First Company will deep strike behind the enemy while the Guard pushes out from the city.” He said.

Crassus stared at Calgar, disbelieving, and then slowly nodded. “Yes milord. I will notify the Master of the Forge immediately.”

“See to it, Sergeant.” Said Calgar. He would get up, and keep on walking and keep on fighting because his duty called, because he knew no other way to live, and because he knew no other way to die.

Nothing else could be comprehended. Death whispered in his ears, but now was not his time. Maybe later. But now?

He had work to do.

***

Author’s Notes: This was originally part of a forum challenge. I don’t really expect the end to be too surprising at all to people who pay attention. After all how many Marines with bolter-linked power fists do you know?

This is my version of a small bit of Calgar’s fluff in the 5th edition rulebook and Codex. I tried to make it a hard fight, but not “sueish”. While it was a mighty victory Calgar had the advantage of weapons and training and most of the Orks came in a narrow space over wreckage.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-18-11, 07:11 PM
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I liked it. Good work mate.

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Follow me on Twitter: @MidgesWorkshop. You can aslo follow me on face book Here
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-19-11, 04:49 AM
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A good read, with a fairly quick tempo that kept me moving and never got me bored (which is good, as I've got the attention span of the aver-SHINY!)

As far as a small formatting nit-pick, you may want to add a few more lines between paragraphs that are showing a passage of time. I see the -oOo- but I don't really think that it's noticeable enough, and there was a time or two when I skipped right over it and got confused by the sudden jump.

Another would be trying to make sure you italicize thoughts, to keep it separate from the narrative but interjecting the personal nature that they bring.

Top marks all 'round though, keep it up!

-Boc


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

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3. Nothing Boc said should ever be taken seriously. Unless he's talking about being behind you. Then you run like fuck.
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