Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wichita Kansas, U.S.A.
Now You Are A Part Of Us
‘Now you are a part of us.’
Silence roosted over the battlefield like the hesitation of an angry god’s ragged breath. Gray smoke mixed with the morning’s mist swirled and floated among the ruins of Fasnell like the cloak of a ghost made visible in the growing light.
The Imperial Guard had been fighting the forces of Chaos for the last three months, both sides giving ground or gaining ground in equal measures, each side losing armor and men at a rate that was both draining and frightful.
I stood behind a wall that was shoulder height, thick and pockmarked by enemy fire. Cratered holes that were both deep and blackened were stitched in swirling constellations as if mimicking the designs of far off star clusters. We were all tense, cold and wet from the slowly falling snow.
As the sun rose we settled in, waiting for the attack that was sure to come. The morning mist dissipated after three hours but the gray smoke still lingered because of the lack of wind or breeze.
At midday the silence could still be felt as if it was a tangible thing. It was eerie and haunting and not at all comforting. There was a war on and the silence was nerve rending. The waiting was terrorizing. In the silence our minds wondered and nightmares became real.
In the silence we watched and prayed lest we entered into the temptation of acting on our own initiative. If we broke the silence first we would give up our position and the enemy would have the upper hand.
The cold was settling into my joints and I shifted carefully from my right foot to my left in hopes of keeping my body from locking up. I looked up the line and saw there were hundreds of us shuffling about trying to keep the cold from having its way.
In the distance something trickled down something else or across something or through something. The whole of the 1073rd readied themselves. The noise could have been any number of things from the misstep of one of us to the careless action of one of the enemy’s personnel. The snow was falling heavier now coating everything in a white-gray blanket.
The snow added to the muffled silence like insulation to a house muffles the outside world. We waited guns raised, tense and focused for what felt like hours after we heard the sound of the fallen thing. When nothing happened the effect on our minds were unsettling to say the least.
I thought I saw a man walking as a silhouette in the distance while others among us thought they saw shadows move behind them. The snow smelt like ashes and burnt flesh, it made our eyes water from the acidic properties that polluted the area.
All around us were the broken burnt out buildings of the city. Blackened windows glared down at us like silent angry witnesses recording everything we did. We had snipers upon the roofs and infantry manning each room that bore a window, maintaining the high ground as it were.
All around us burnt and blackened skeletons of the former townspeople littered the ground. Gapping eye sockets and mouths watched uncaringly as the snow fell upon them. We waited until the sun slowly set in the western sky for something to happen, for the merciless advance of the forces of Chaos to begin.
At the setting of the sun silence prevailed. The enemy still refused to move against us; their discipline was to be noted.
The Captain of the scouts moved by and grabbed my arm. He bid me to follow him silently, carefully and slowly as to keep from stumbling or stepping on something that would give up our position. The Captain passed by three more and had them move along with us.
We knew what to do, no order had to be given, and it was ingrained within us to be the eyes and ears of the company. Captain Gorse Tinnison slid out of cover slowly and deliberately followed by the four men he had contacted. We melted into the misty smoke and snowfall like phantoms in the night.
Garland Moses moved off to the right, Dast Halster moved off to the left, Fitson Klox accompanied him and I accompanied the Captain forward through the kill zone.
As we approached the lines of the enemy the silence was overwhelming. No movement gave away their position, no fires to keep warm, no chanting or cursing, no cleaning of weapons no shifting of the enemy lines in the cold to keep warm.
A broken brick wall stood before us so we slid below it and nestled in. The Captain motioned for me to move on down the length of the wall and peer around the corner. Through the accumulated snowdrifts and the darkness I moved. I did not make a sound as I slid my face around the broken brick wall.
There before me lay a figure in the snow. The body was frozen and twisted, but there was not a drop of blood upon the ground. At first I thought it was the unfortunate victim of one of the cities inhabitants but the closer I looked my thoughts were changed.
In the distance another body lay face up, head tilted back, eyes open. I moved past the two bodies and almost crawled over a third. This one was laying on his right side; face contorted, tongue hanging out of his open mouth.
I saw movement to my left and sunk down beside the corpse. In the darkness and the smoke and snow I watched intently. I trained my las-gun on the moving figure and waited. It wasn’t long until the person was within range; I lightly squeezed the trigger, but did not fire. I waited as I was trained to do.
Garland Moses stopped short when he saw my gun aimed at his chest and gave the sign of the Aquila. I returned the salute and lowered the gun.
‘Everyone’s dead.’ he whispered. I nodded an affirmative and slid back behind the wall. I motioned the Captain over and signed to him what we found. He motioned forward and followed me into the enemy camp.
There was no sign the enemy had even put up a fight. Stunned faces and terror stricken countenances revealed they had been taken by surprise. Uneaten rations littered the ground and frozen fire stood against nature, testimony of a greater threat nearby.
Dast Halster and Fitson Klox met up with the three of us and confirmed what we had believed. The whole of the Chaos army were dead. Not a shot had been fired.
It had taken us nearly six hours to complete our mission and to make our way back to our side of the Kill Zone again. The snow continued to fall from a deep gray sky. The darkness was nearly total so we could understand the sentries missing our approach.
Outside of the camp Captain Gorse Tinnison motioned for us to stop. ‘There should have been a response to our passing the line. Watch your step and be wary.’ He said.
Slowly he pulled out the blackened blade he carried from the chest holster that carried it. We followed our leaders lead and advanced slowly down the line.
Our men stood silently like statues in the darkness not making a sound nor stirring from the cold. I looked up from my crawling position into the eyes of a dead man. His face was drained of color, jaw slack and eyes wide in terror.
My heart and adrenaline began to pump almost out of control as I sighted another of our regiment. He was dead too, the top of his head pulled back, detached from the rest of his skull. Not a drop of blood littered the ground around him.
His weapon still lay uselessly within his frozen hands, finger wrapped around the trigger.
As I stood up and looked over the broken wall where I had watched the day go by my heart nearly stopped, numbness took hold of my body and silence deafened me. I turned my head slowly trying to take in all that I was seeing. About one hundred meters from me I saw the Captain walking through the camp as if in a stupor.
He stumbled over a corpse and fell flat on his face into the snow. Slowly he struggled to get up again. He looked from left to right slowly taking it all in and fell to his knees. I saw something flash beside his head then I heard the shot as he collapsed in a heap.
The other scouts moved among the corpses, all caution placed to the side like an old garment. One placed his hands around his mouth and yelled for his friend to answer his call. His inquiry returned void in the misty snowy night.
I looked to my left to where Fitson Klox had been. In the snow his body rested face down on his knees as if he was praying. He was dead, of that I was sure.
Looking to my right Dast Halster lay sprawled beside a frozen corpse, arms stretched outward away from his chest.
Behind me about twenty meters, Garland Moses collapsed to the ground, his body landing in the snow with a quiet thrump and woosh.
Slowly I turned and saw him sitting spread legged against the wall. His face was colorless and drawn; his throat was a darkened pit. Again there was no blood upon his freshly killed flesh.
I knew that I could not run; I knew there was no hope for me so I knelt upon the open ground and waited for the end to come. I closed my eyes as the darkness descended upon me and listened to a language being spoken that I could not comprehend.
I felt the teeth grip my throat and cold hands grasp my jaw and lift to the right. I was too terrified to cry out and to numb to act even as I felt the bitterness of the Vampires bite.
As the night bled into morning I awoke. I did not understand why I was still alive until the night returned and with it the ghosts of a million stories. They spoke to me in shortened bursts of screeches and chirps, yet I understood every word.
They spoke into my mind as if they were a part of it and for the first time in my life I truly felt excepted and unafraid. I smiled when I heard them say, ‘Now you are a part of us.’
A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep!
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Other stories from Adrian.
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