They Fly, They Burrow, We Die!
Tyranids. What more needs be said?
They Fly, They Burrow, We Die!
Breathlessly and painfully, Captain Sonell Tormeu ran for his life; they were chasing him. Blood danced from his wounds and swirled in the air as the droplets fled from his sweaty, dirty hand, landing and rolling upon the dusky dry ground.
They were after him and he was terrified. They were after him and he would not escape. The blood jumped from his fingertips as if the life force that dwelt within each droplet understood the dangerous situation they were in. Death was at their heels and the blood drops wanted no part of its final embrace.
There had been no rain for nearly two months, the ground was hungry and cracked and thirsty for a drink. Even as the droplets splashed upon its surface it was soaked up, the blood acted like it was thankful to be accepted by the drought; anything was better than becoming part of them.
Captain Sonell Tormeu was panting from the pain and the toxins that were screaming through his blood. He was dry mouthed and tired from running from them. He was alone but he would not be for long.
He was fleeing from them, but they would catch him, terror gripped his heart as he remembered his unit as they were torn apart and consumed while they were still alive, screaming and begging for help. He ran from them, his cowardice bleeding from his very pores.
From somewhere above and behind him he could hear the wings beating his last heart beats. The gargoyle had found him. He knew it would not be long now, the Gargoyle was above him.
He turned and fired his las-gun on full auto, bright short stabs of light lit up the darkening evening area as the las-rounds punched skyward. Most of the shots missed the creature as it swung to the side, but two of the shots did hit their mark. One shot flash-burnt through its leathery left wing while the other one melted off its right clawed foot.
It screeched loud enough to cause the captain’s ears to pop, blood fled from his right one. He tumbled to the ground clutching his ears, the pain causing him to momentarily forget the gargoyle as it crashed down beside him. Looking up he could see that it had landed right in front of him.
He picked up his fallen las-gun and fired it three times. He would have fired it more but the cell died, his gun was empty. He laughed when he realized his las-gun was just beeping instead of firing. He laughed because the gargoyle was dead, its chest blown out and burning from the three well placed shots.
Standing up shakily he began to run again. He was still laughing when the ground opened up under him. He fell into the hole and into the darkness beyond.
He could hear scuttling and clawing from somewhere up ahead or from somewhere behind? He could not tell from which direction the noise was coming from. Terror filled him and he wet his pants, the urine mixing with the blood that already caked his clothes.
He could not see so he reached for his flashlight and turned it on. The cone of luminescence shafted through the tunnel. Claw marks were evidence that they had passed by recently. They were heading for the base.
What was Captain Sonell Tormeu going to do? He could hear them all around as if they were above, beside and below him. They were all over the place.
His heart was pounding and he was beginning to fade into a mindless stupor from the toxins in his blood and the fatigue he was having. Quickly he reached into a pocket in his bag and pulled a stem-shot from within. He broke the tab and plunged in the needle, releasing a bit of concentrated adrenaline directly into his blood stream.
He saw a shadow move past from the hole above, some dirt dropped in on him but the creature continued on. It was also heading for the base. He had to do something to warn them, but his vox was down.
The only thing he could think of doing was to release a flare. It was now dark enough for the base to see its light, but if he fired the flare-gun the Tyranids would have his position. If he did not fire the flare-gun there was a chance they would pass him by.
Already they were moving on. The sounds of clawing, screeching and creeping were a ways off, the tunnel he was in had been vacated, the smell of them was fading. If he did not fire the flare-gun the base would be overrun and everyone he knew would be slaughtered.
But he was scared; no he was terrified. He had never been more scared. The battle within him was mind numbing. Would he warn the base and die or would he withhold the warning and live.
He pulled a box from his kit and opened it up. It was long and rectangle and black. It smelled of gun oil and powder. Pulling the pieces out he began to assemble the component parts together. He screwed in the barrel and unfolded the stalk. He slid the rack in and twisted it, he cleared the breach. Pulling the door back, he plunged in the shells. His task done, he quietly racked the slide; the shotgun was ready to fire.
He knew that to surface would be certain death so he began to crawl through the tunnel on all fours. Whatever had burrowed through this ground was large and strong. It had clawed through hard rock and tree roots and it looked to Captain Sonell Tormeu as if the debris had not slowed it much.
The adrenaline shot he had given himself had cleared his mind and was giving him the strength he needed to press on. He did not want to think, he just wanted to get away. His heart was hammering in his chest and he could feel the ground shaking. He didn’t want to think about what could cause the ground to move, he just wanted to survive the night.
His mind flashed for a few seconds and for just a moment he was back at his camp setting up the tents with his unit, the “Blood Scouts.” Lieutenant Davod Movac and Commissar Langly Gusterson were directing the new recruits in the lessons for the evening.
They had marched from the Base along a well worn footpath that had been used over and over again since the founding of Osteratious VI. The trail wound its way through the steppes and the hills, through the forests and finally into a valley some sixty clicks away from the base.
Captain Sonell Tormeu‘s unit was not a large on, only about fifty souls. They had gone through a lot since their earliest days, the training had been tough. They were preparing for their first deployment where they would gain experience to attend their training.
The fire was small and the men had been released from their lessons so they could rest and eat, tend to their own personal needs and sleep.
Commissar Langly Gusterson was drinking a cup of recaff and preparing to administer some punishment to one of the recruits for not eating fast enough when something exploded above him.
The sky had not darkened to blackness yet but the sun was setting. It silhouetted the Commissar as he began to scream and melt before the witnesses who stood there like statues in the face of a storm.
Something else burst in the twilight and a man next to the Lieutenant cried out as something began to bore into his neck, chest and shoulders. Blood poured out as mandibles sliced through tendon, muscle and flesh, he screamed as the parasites burrowed into him. He died moments later as one of the creatures tore through his eyes.
In the failing sunlight Captain Sonell Tormeu saw a Zoanthrope floating upon the breeze and from it lightning flashed. Two men exploded in bloody, smoking bits of bone and skin. The “Blood Scouts” reacted like any other untested unit would under similar circumstances, they ran and panicked.
The ground exploded under them and scything claws from Raveners tore legs in two and hips from torsos and arms from shoulders. Blood played in the setting sun like streams in the air. Men cried like babies and ran like death was at their backs.
Death was at their backs. Some tried to fight, but they were ripped apart by Genestealers and Lictors that were making their way before the arriving Tyranid swarms.
Captain Sonell Tormeu blinked his eyes as his memory faded. He was sweating and bloody, he was getting cold. The tunnels were dark and clammy and smelled of pheromones and acid. The darkness all but surrounded him; the tunnels were too much like a grave.
The walls started to close in on him and all he could do was think of how much he wanted out. He wanted to get away, to escape, to run and never look back.
For a moment he thought about warning the base again, only for a brief instant. He wanted to live more than anything else and if that meant everyone else had to die than so be it. The Emperor protects were the words that had been pounded into his brain from the beginning, but the codex did not say how the Emperor protects.
The ground shook again and dirt from the burrowed halls fell like fists upon the helm of the Captain. More dirt fell within the cone of light from his flashlight’s beam; it looked like handfuls thrown from mourners hands onto a coffin’s wooden face.
He did not want to die so he pressed on, cold sweat trapping the dirt against his squalid skin. He could hear them again, screeching and clicking their massive scythe-claws. He could hear them now and they were not far away. They were not digging, but running. They were moving fast.
Captain Sonell Tormeu knew he had to get out of the tunnels but he did not know which way to go. It sounded like the Ravener Brood was coming from in front of him. It also sounded like they were closing in from the rear. Petrified he put his back against the tunnel wall and waited for the inevitable.
He could feel that they were so close he could reach out and touch them. He knew he should be able to see them by now. Their movements could be heard so loudly it caused vibrations through his very soul. Terror gripped his guts so strong he could barely breathe.
The noise faded away until at last he was alone again. The Tyranids were using the tunnels next to him and not the ones he was in. “There must be thousands of them,” he thought. “I have to warn the base.” He thought.
He warily moved through the hazy darkness until he found an opening. Through it he could see clouds and smoke. He could not see the sky or stars or much of anything else. He turned off the flashlight and crawled out from the hole.
The clouds did not move the way normal clouds were supposed to move and upon further examination he could tell the smoke was not just smoke. The Tyranid swarms had landed in force; the planet of Osteratious VI was doomed.
As he fallowed the stained swirling fog he was able to trace it back to the base where he had spent the last six months of his life. It was ablaze, its walls had fallen and its towers were enveloped in a churning mass of swarming death.
Captain Sonell Tormeu consoled himself and eased his aching conscience by telling himself the base would have been lost even if he had warned them. He sucked in a breath and slowly let it out again. He closed his eyes for just a moment. ‘At least I am alive.’ He said to himself.
Something pounded into a fallen log beside him, smashing it to pieces. Half of it exploded upward and the other half flipped in the air.
Reeling, Captain Sonell Tormeu rolled to his side. As quickly as he could he pulled the shotgun up and turned around. He fired the gun and brief cones of flames burst forth as the shells left the barrel. They exploded into the snout of a Carnifex.
In the milky blackness of the night, The Carnifex did not look that big, but a tank killer is always big. It is always dangerous. It is always death incarnate. It sniffed and exhaled its putrid breath into the face of Captain Sonell Tormeu. It did not even flinch as the shotgun shells tore into its iron-like exoskeleton.
With exaggerated thoughtfulness it took a step forward and stabbed its tail-scythe through the Captain’s stomach and out through his back. He vomited blood and bile and folded over in shock pain.
He gasped in a ragged breath as he realized he was still alive. His vision blurred as he looked his killer in the eyes. They were soulless and inky black, the only thing they showed was the reflection of a coward.
The Carnifex opened its mouth and very slowly, deliberately placed Captain Sonell Tormeu within its smiling maw.
Captain Sonell Tormeu screamed only for a moment as the teeth of the Carnifex tore into him. His bones were shattered and his flesh torn away. Blood filled the carnifex’s mouth like an egg barely cooked pours forth its yolk.
The Carnifex swallowed Captain Sonell Tormeu in one mighty gulp. Every effort to keep himself safe, every selfish choice, every corrupted moment of cowardice he had used to keep himself alive, died with him.
The Emperor protects all men, but the coward dies a thousand deaths.
A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep!
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Last edited by Adrian; 04-05-11 at 02:28 AM.