Heresy Online's Expeditious Stories 12-06: Restitution
Welcome to the year's sixth Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories (HOES) Challenge!
For those of you that are unfamiliar with HOES, here's how it works:
Each month, there will be a thread posted in the Original Works forum for that month's HOES competition. For those of you interested in entering, read the entry requirements, write a story that fits the chosen theme and post it as a reply to the competition thread by the deadline given. Each and every member of Heresy Online is more than welcome to compete, whether your entry is your first post or your thousandth. We welcome everyone to join the family of the Fan Fiction Forum.
Once the deadline has passed, a separate voting thread will be posted, where the readers and writers can post their votes for the top three stories. Points will be awarded (3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd) for each vote cast, totaled at the closure of the voting window, and a winner will be announced. The winner will have his/her story added to the Winning HOES thread.
The idea with the theme is that it should serve as the inspiration for your stories rather than a constraint. While creative thinking is most certainly encouraged, the theme should still be relevant to your finished story. The chosen theme can be applied within the WH40K, WHF, HH, and even your own completely original works (though keep in mind, this IS a Warhammer forum) but there will be no bias as to which setting is used for your story.
As far as the theme goes, please feel free with future competitions to contact me with your ideas/proposals, especially given that my creative juices may flow a bit differently than yours. All I ask is that you PM me your ideas rather than posting them into the official competition entry/voting threads to keep posts there relevant to the current competition.
The official word count for this competition will be 1,000 words. There will be a 10% allowance in this limit, essentially giving you a 900-1,100 word range with which to tell your tale. This is non-negotiable. This is an Expeditious Story competition, not an Epic Story nor an Infinitesimal Story competition. If you are going to go over or under the 900-1,100 word limit, you need to rework your story. It is not fair to the other entrants if one does not abide by the rules. If you cannot, feel free to PM me with what you have and I'll give suggestions or ideas as to how to broaden or shorten your story.
Each entry must have a word count posted with it. Expect a reasonably cordial PM from me (and likely some responses in the competition thread) if you either fail to adhere to this rule. The word count can be annotated either at the beginning or ending of your story, and does not need to include your title.
Without further ado...
The theme for this month's competition is:
Entries should be posted in this thread, along with any comments that the readers may want to give (and comments on stories are certainly encouraged in both the competition and voting threads!) 40K, 30K, WHF, and original universes are all permitted (please note, this excludes topics such as Halo, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, or any other non-original and non-Warhammer settings). Keep in mind, comments are more than welcome! If you catch grammar or spelling errors, the writers are all more than free to edit their piece up until the close of the competition, and that final work will be the one considered for voting. Sharing your thoughts with the writers as they come up with their works is a great way to help us, as a FanFiction community, grow as a whole.
The deadline for entries is Midnight US Eastern Standard Time (-5.00 hours for you UK folks)Saturday, 23 June 2012. Voting will be held from 24 June - 30 June. The slightly lengthened period is to facilitate discussion amongst the writers about different angles to attack the theme from. Remember, getting your story submitted on the June 3 will be just as considered by others as one submitted on June 22! Take as much time as you need to work on your piece!
If simply being victorious over your comrades is not enough to possess you to write a story, there will be rep rewards granted to those that participate in the HOES Challenge.
Participation - 5 reputation points, everyone will receive this
3rd place - 10 reputation points
2nd place - 20 reputation points
1st place - 30 reputation points
If you have any questions, feel free to either PM me or ask in this thread.
Without further nonsense from me, let the writing begin!
Table of Contents
Iron Angel: Ashes to the Stars
Serpion5: Old Debts
Lilidhe: The Mothers' Gifts
andygorn: Only Duty Remains
Romero's Own: A Life for a Life
Adrian: Selfless Tears
kurnugia: Beacon of Restoration
gothik: Calling in the Debt
Bloody Mary: Debts
andygorn: A Lesson from History
Dave T Hobbit: Fair Shares
Zinegata: Was It Enough?
[Word count: 1097]
ASHES TO THE STARS
Siil was not accustomed to leading politically. Such a task was normally left to Vier, whose cleverness in such matters far surpassed his own.
He stared silently ahead of him, his gaze slowly sweeping across the faces of the Praetorians. His lidless, glimmering eyes, pinpoints of ghostly light that pierced the darkness of the inner chamber, slid back and forth as he slowly examined the small army of representatives that stood before him.
Their chestplates were burnished gold, and they bore the sign of the Triarch on their chest. If Siil could scoff, he would have- He doubted even the Praetorians realized the significance of this mark. But then, perhaps they did- They were here, after all. The intensity with which they stared back at him displayed no fear or hesitation.
Good. They were either foolish or brave. Either trait he could use.
He rose from his seat, a black slab of stone carved from the obsidian glass of the Labyrinth. The room, a half circle with rising stone that ascended in rings around the center, was always used by the Triarch to judge traitors- And here they stood now, the Triarch once again thronging its spaces amidst one they would have judged, now being judged themselves.
He stepped slowly forward, the metallic clanging of his heavy footsteps reverberating through the dimly lit hall. Before him were arrayed those who would be counted as the commanders of the Triarch forces.
“What do you see around you? What will you serve?” Siil asked, his metallic voice piercing the total silence like a knife.
The Praetorian paused. “I will serve a mighty nation who holds true to the precepts of our forefathers,” he answered confidently.
“You are a fool then,” Sill replied simply. He posed the same question to the second.
The Praetorian, seeing the failure of his comrade, paused a bit longer. “We will serve the old ways.”
Siil shook his head. “Your ignorance is insulting.” When he posed the question to the third of them, he was almost ready to order them all executed.
But the Praetorian did not even pause before delivering his answer. “We will strengthen a broken and struggling house, and bring to it the dominion it was denied eons ago.”
Siil looked at him. Perhaps there was something of worth here. “And who denied the Necrontyr of their birthright among the stars? Who took the galaxy from the only force to unite our people as a single force, and bring all others to heel before us?”
“And whose responsibility was it to look after the well being of our people?”
“And who failed in that duty and consigned us all to oblivion because of one mad fool’s guilt and love of his own weakness?”
The praetorian nodded. “The Triarch.”
Siil did not realize he had come mere inches from the Praetorian’s face. The anger and despair at the destruction of his people welled up inside him like boiling magma, and the shame of his own failures fell down upon him like an icy rain. “We are reduced to squabbling tribes over one blubbering fool’s self-loathing. And you followed him to the depths of madness and drove a wedge between our people.”
The Praetorian folded his arms across his chest slowly. “If you so seek to sate your thirst for Triarch death, I offer myself as the one to receive this ignominious fate as recompense.”
Siil cocked his head slightly. Was this mockery?
The Praetorian, seeing Siil’s wariness, continued. “We were deceived, as all were. Only after the great uprising did we realize the chaos we had sown among our people. Until Alalakh discovered you, we had abandoned hope that any still remained who held the true ways, who sought to return to a time when we were truly powerful.”
Some of the lower ranking Praetorians throughout the room became obviously nervous. They had simply followed orders, but it was becoming clear that something was amiss.
Siil noticed their fidgeting and hushed whispers. “Do you know whom we serve?” he asked. A correct answer would, of course, flush the dissenters out.
The Praetorian commander nodded. “You serve a C’tan. I know not which, but-“
One of the lower Praetorians leapt to his feet. “You serve one of the abominations!? You are a traitor to our kind!”
The commander wheeled to face him. “You will be silent! We are all traitors in one way or another!”
The lower Praetorian remained standing, but went silent at the order.
Siil crossed his arms, eyeing both of them. He had made sure to disarm the Praetorians, but the others were looking unsure. It was clear the decision had not been unanimous among the lower ranks- But they had been commanded, and obeyed, and ended up here. It was no matter to Siil. They would continue to obey orders.
He turned his gaze back to the commander. “You wish to restore order to the galaxy?” he said as he collected one of the Rods of Covenant from the ground where they had been laid. “What does this weapon represent?” he asked, as he examined the weapon.
“It is a sign of our covenant to the Necrontyr people. It is to be used to crush those who would destroy us from within.”
Siil handed him the weapon. “Then you will join us in this task.”
The commander bowed slightly, unfolded his arms, and claimed the weapon from Siil. He looked one more time at his new Phaeron, then spun around, pointed the weapon at the dissenting Praetorian, and fired.
The Praetorian burst into an orange plume as the bolt connected, molten shrapnel stewn about the spot he once stood. The commander turned his gaze slowly over the others, who stared at him, shocked.
“This is what awaits us. We have passed the point of no return. Should any attempt to rejoin the fleets of the traitor Dynasties, they will destroy you on sight. This is, of course, assuming I do not do so first. We will return to those we have wronged their rightful place in this galaxy, or we will die trying. I will not let our race be doomed. Not like this.”
Siil was impressed. “Disperse,” he ordered them simply. “You. What is your name?” he asked the commander.
“Khametef,” the Praetorian responded, humbly bowing his head.
Siil grew agitated. “Your pre-reformation name.”
The Praetorian paused. “Vora-Hame,” he responded, unsurely.
Siil nodded. “Hame. I have someone for you to meet,” he said, leading him from the room. The Deceiver himself should see this one.
1,024 words, excluding title.
*** *** ***
The joint creaked with every step, as Nemreth's left leg struggled to flex as the necron lord walked. In his hands was the cube he had almost been destroyed to bring back here, the tesseract labyrinth that now writhed with the contained essence of a fragmented god. The Dragon shard had been instrumental in shaping several orkoid incursions upon the space surrounding its refuge until the god hunter himself had gotten wind of its presence.
It had been a victory, albeit a costly one. Several dozen units of immortals had been lost permanently, their minds and bodies erased from existence by a creature of limitless power and cruelty. That same creature now resided within this cube like artefact, bound forever to the service of those who had vanquished it. Now however, Nemreth faced a task equally daunting. A confrontation with what would no doubt be a very angry Phaeron...
'Explain this to me.' Mithrahc demanded, fury underlining his metallic voice. 'Nemreth? Seprin? I demand answers as to why it came to this, and I will hear them now!' The lord and cryptek were on their knees before the Phaeron's throne, here to explain themselves. Arakyr stood to the side, for the moment forbidden from proceedings but allowed presence from respect to his duty to Nemreth.
'My Lord, forgive me.' Nemreth began. 'I admit I had underestimated the power of this shard. The losses we have suffered are regrettable, but I feel that control of this shard will in time allow us to leverage our way into a greater position of power.'
'Not that, you simpleton.' Mithrahc replied, gripping his staff tightly. At his side, even Alkvar shifted slightly at the pure rage the overlord was emitting. 'I was referring to THEM!' His staff jerked upwards to point to the two figures that sulked in the shadows behind them. The previously slumbering forms of the crypteks Neka and Lirac jerked nervously as Mithrahc’s attention came to rest on them.
‘I do not understand.’ Nemreth shook his head in confusion. ‘The two crypteks were instrumental in the shard’s defeat, I had assumed their revivification was under your sanction.’
‘You assume incorrectly!’ Mithrahc snapped. ‘However, due to your ignorance, I will forgive your part in this. Seprin however...’ Nemreth stood and removed himself from the Phaeron’s path as Mithrahc strode from his throne dais and looked down at Seprin’s form.
‘My king, I am sorry but I saw no alternative.’ Seprin started. ‘Nemreth had committed our forces to attacking a foe whose strength we could not be sure of. Had I not sent Neka and Lirac to the battle we would have suffered far more permanent losses than a few dozen immortals.’
‘I admit, my judgement was flawed.’ Nemreth bowed in humility. ‘Were it not for the energy manipulating technologies of these two crypteks, the day would have been lost.’ He neglected to breach the topic of Socous’ destruction, the former Deathmark who had been one of the last survivors of Nemreth’s old court.
‘Nevertheless, I had forbidden them from waking.’ Mithrahc growled. ‘May the two of you consider yourselves fortunate that I allowed you to live in the first place. And you as well Seprin, be thankful that your services outweigh your insubordination.’
Seprin began to rise to his feet, only to stop when Mithrahc continued; ‘Be aware however, that this margin has narrowed considerably with this act.’
‘Lord Mithrahc.’ Neka stepped forward, her many limbs cupped in a gesture of peace. ‘I sense that something troubles you beyond our awakening. Please, for the sake of our old bonds, speak and unburden yourself?’
Barely controlled rage flickered in the Phaeron’s eyes for the briefest of moments before memories of old comradeships tempered his rage. The grip on his staff relaxed and he walked calmly back to he dais and sat once more upon his throne.
‘We recently received a communication from an emissary of the Triarch.’ Mithrahc announced. ‘He names himself as Lord Praetorian Neytu, and has demanded the commitment of our forces in the retaking of a Crownworld that has fallen under alien invasion.’
‘Refuse.’ Nemreth replied. ‘His jurisdiction is to enforce the Codes of Battle, our forces are not required to serve on battlefronts at his whim.’
‘It is not his whim that concerns me.’ Mithrahc shook his head. ‘I am beholden to the one who sent him here. Lord Sekra Teph, Phaeron of the Obliesce Dynasty. He has demanded my assistance, and it is not without consequence that I can deny him. I remain indebted to him for an act of great sacrifice he underwent for the preservation of our... well, I’m sure most of you can guess.’
Alkvar and the crypteks all nodded in agreement, leaving only Nemreth and Arakyr unaware of the story.
‘It was due to Sekra Teph’s intervention that we were able to survive Nayten’s... betrayal.’ Mithrahc muttered bitterly. ‘I will honour this debt. Furthermore, Neytu carries the authority of the Silent King in this transcript, leading me to believe that King Szarekh himself holds stakes in this war we have been called to. I am left with little choice but to mobilize.’
‘If it is your wish.’ Nemreth conceded. ‘I will begin the muster as soon as my own repairs are seen to. Tell me which percentage you intend to take with you?’
‘Everything but the basest of necessary defences.’ Mithrahc responded. ‘Neka, Lirac, since the two of you are here regardless, I am issuing the command that you begin the revivification of our remaining forces immediately. Seprin, once you have seen to the essential maintenance of those in need of it, turn your attention to mustering our war machines and my own flagship.’
‘As you will it my king.’ Seprin bowed. Neka and Lirac did likewise, the three of them left to attend their duties. Nemreth remained for a few minutes more to continue the initial planning.
‘The shards, my Lord?’ He enquired.
‘Bring them both.’ Mithrahc nodded. ‘Should they be required, I would rather they be available. Stars forbid we should need them however, for that would indeed signify a very dark time ahead of us.’
Nemreth nodded his agreement and turned to leave, Arakyr stepping in behind him.
And here we go again:
The Mothers' Gifts
The morning fog hung low beneath the branches of Aidimal, mother of memory, the spirit tree, preserver of history and last resting place of the dead. Her white needles covered the ground like a carpet. Sergeant Kauvas made no noise as he trod along the path through the sacred grounds barefooted and clad in a mourner’s robe.
It was three months now since Brother Otso had fallen, taking a lascannon shot meant for him. He knew it was the lot of all of them, the price of being elevated to the Emperor’s Angels, but he also knew what he owed to his dead brother.
The mother rose above him, high enough to tickle the stars. Her crown was wide enough to span the heavens, a white cloud of feathery needles, soft and hard at the same time. A stairway of rusting, fading metal wound around the mighty trunk and disappeared among the lowest branches, hundreds of meters above him.
His eyes closed, as was custom, the sergeant began to climb. His feet felt the scarred and pitted surface of the stairs, his hands were swinging loosely by his sides, touching neither bark nor handrail. The one would have been blasphemy, the other was unnecessary. He had gone this way already, the last time during Otso’s first funeral, the funeral of an Angel.
The entire company had been there, and their Chaplain had held the funeral rites. Unbidden, the words rose in his memory.
“We are the Emperor's Angels, her Dark Hands to do her will. As we were made with two hands, all gifts we receive come in twos. Even our births and deaths are twain.”
He whispered the words in unison with the memory, repeating them softly, until he finally stepped from the stairway onto the platform erected on the lowest branches of Aidimal’s crown. Unlike the stairs, it was made from Adamas wood, worked in ritual ways by the Chapter’s shamans. He opened his eyes again, as he felt the black hardwood beneath his feet, warm despite the moisture in the air. Here, the smell of death was strong.
Around him, craddled in the crooks and boles of her branches, lay the recent dead. As always, he felt there were too many, stretched out on mats of white, woven needles and feathers, to be left to the birds and insects sheltered by the mother’s crown.
Kauvas did not, could not, look at them, not out of a desire to avoid the gruesome look of half eaten, decomposing corpses, but out of respect. What happened here was sacred, the second sacrifice every Battle Brother was called upon to give. Instead, he kept his eyes to the wooden floor and walked to where he had placed Otso after the funeral.
“As a human womb births us, the universe through Adamas, mother of trees and tribes, gifts us with flesh and bone. And when the Emperor, Mother of Angels, shapes us, we are born again as Angels, gifted with strength and tenacity, to carry out her will.“
The body was where they had left it, supported in its hammock of white, now stained with blood and other fluids. Only the dark bones were left, with the last few scraps of tissue falling off as he picked the mat up and wrapped it around the remains. This pathetic bundle in his strong arms, he made his way back down, eyes closed, and the second part of the dirge on his lips.
He was so immersed in his sad task that he almost spilled his precious burden when a voice like the rustle of leaves on the wind addressed him as he stepped on the ground again.
“There you are, Brother.”
Kauvas opened his eyes, clutching the bones to his breast to keep them from spilling. Another Dark Hand was sitting only a few meters from him on one of the mother’s largest roots. He wore a robe of pale blue, perfectly dry despite the fog, and his long, whiteish blond hair was bound with leaves and sacred bark. Eyes the same pale blue as his robes took in the sergeant’s appearance and then the Shaman Tuovanen nodded in approval.
“All is in readiness. I have spoken to Aidimal, and she is waiting.”
Where an Angel’s first funeral was a grand affair, with the dead brother’s comrades all in attendance, the second one was private, normally conducted by a Shaman alone. Only rarely did – and could – others attend, as duties had often called them away by that time. Kauvas made it a point to attend for the members of his squad, though.
Tuovanen waited in silence until Kauvas had reached the hole opened among the tree’s roots.
“And as we have been born twice, we also die twice, to give back both gifts. The Angels live in service to their Mother, in duty and in battle, till in death does duty end. The human life of flesh and bone, we give back to Adamas and the trees, until at last we can be remembered in honour, and our gifts return to be given again, as both mothers will it. “
As Kauvas gently removed the bones from the mat to place them inside the ground, he spoke the final part of the litany. The mat was placed last, covering the remains. The ground closed as the tree roots moved back to claim what was left of Otso’s two lives. His debts now paid, he could go to his rest, and be remembered.
The sergeant stepped back and looked up at the Tuovanen, who still sat with his back against the mother, eyes closed. Sweat streamed over his sunburnt face. The Aidamal’s bark began to ripple. A soft crunching sound emanated from the ground. Kauvas felt a pressure build inside his head, behind his eyes and he closed them instinctively.
Branches creaked, leaves rustled. A shower of white needles fell on him. And then, just as suddenly, the pressure was gone again.
“You may look now.” The Shaman sounded tired. Kauvas opened his eyes and gazed up. There, on Aidamal’s trunk above Tuovanen, a face had formed in the living bark. Brother Otso’s face, grown from Aidamal’s heartwood, black and smooth, capturing his every likeness, from his scarred cheeks to his daring smile. Kauvas blinked away his tears and stared, from Otso’s face to the one beside him, and the next, and the next, the memorial winding up and up and up along the trunk, commemorating every Dark Hand to have ever given his lives in service to the Emperor, Mother of Angels.
1098 Words without title
Really good stories so far...I think ths is going to be a good one, guys!
As always, these words are my primate's brain trying to make sense of the visions I get.
I was surprised by the direction in which they took me.
(Draft just in case grammar/punctuation needs amending).
“Only duty remains” [1099 words].
“Why return? This world is far from The Enemy’s grasp; aren’t there more pressing matters?”
Commissar Gravex’s grim expression and the matte grey bolt pistol clutched tightly in his hand are reply enough.
“This shall be my last command, Trooper Frellt:
“After today, you have a new assignment. The person I meet here will be under your protection from now on. The paperwork is already complete.”
Reciting the Regiment’s training mantra, Gravex places both hands over his heart: “There is no questioning, only duty.” The bodyguard mirrors his officer.
Dust and stones fill the air from the shuttle’s backwash upon the desert basin.
Shielding her face against the worst of the debris, the farmer glimpses a man she had always hoped she would never see.
As though back on parade, she dusts off her homespun dress as best she can and stands to attention.
Years after PDF service, Mara Tellar still knows to salute an officer.
The colour of mourning upon her bleak world (because it represents the planet’s scarce vegetation and hope) a length of drab green cloth is folded into a pile of triangles in his arms. It’s yellow tassels of death-in-combat hang proudly down. ‘’Mine was a life not easily taken’’ they imply.
Although cracking from the lack of hydration upon this blasted wilderness, the timbre of her voice is yet strong:
“Tell me how Derin perished. Tell me he did some good with his life.”
In the face of such brave inquiry, Gravex’s stoic demeanour falls and he looks away, unable to bear the challenge in her gaze.
“I cannot assure you of that, Mrs. Tellar. Yet his loss was a blow to us all.”
Mara cast her hands around to indicate the forlorn patch of dirt she calls home:
“Look at this place! How can my husband and I ever produce crops now, with only one set of hands..? This was always a pathetic place, but Derin has such enthusiasm!
“He convinced me I could make something of it by the time his service...ends...”
Too long denied, her grief finally hits: falling forwards, she sobs and collapses into Gravex’s ready embrace.
His voice whispers low: “I can tell you of his end, if you would wish it. The real version, not the trash that the communiqués would let you believe..?”
Despite the tear-stained face, her ferocious stare of defiance shall brook no subterfuge, nor will it turn from the truth, thus, he continues:
“The world’s name is irrelevant, but Derin had stood sentry amongst the camp, ever-alert for signs of trouble. Still, there was no warning until the air shimmered and seven abominations -each more repulsive than the last- stood in the parking compound.”
His voice falters and breaks, fully reliving the horror for the first time.
“I can still recall the enemy’s fetid stench, more nauseating than my burning vehicles and men, victims of the cannons gifting everything with fire and death...”
Shakily handing her the pile of clothing, her eyes widen at the feared and familiar sight of a bolt pistol peeking out between the folds.
“So, you allowed my Derin to perish, then come all this way to finish off his last relation, too?”
Pushing him away, Mara looks him straight in the eye and salutes:
“You had better get this over with, for this Trooper Tellar shall face her executioner!”
Dropping to his knees in immediate supplication, Gravex’s pistol falls and scatters across the parched earth towards her.
“No! Derin was shot in the back because I distracted him to save my own skin!
“Even now, I see his hands reaching to pull me to safety, but I withdrew mine. His eyes widened for a second, seeing my terror, but that was sufficient time for the Traitor to gun him down.”
“I took away your husband’s life to save my own.
"Had I also fought, we would both have been saved. But, instead, I allowed him to die and I hid under his corpse until I could escape.
“The lies I concocted at court-martial saved me from the gallows. My shame and desire for atonement...restitution...brought me here.
“The Imperium does not care about one Guardsman, even one as decorated as Devin.
"Yet they do care about the numbers of Commissars amongst their ranks. I would be missed and the numbers must balance, so I needed to find a replacement...”
Running forwards and picking up the gun, Mara smashes it into the side of his upturned head, sending him sprawling into the sparse grass and sand.
Heaving breath wracking her form, she howls: “Your Imperium takes him away from me...the best man I have ever known...and then his assassin asks me to fight for it?!”
One punch is swiftly followed by another. Then a series of kicks lands upon the prone Gravex, doubling him over in pain until blood weeps from both corners of his mouth, speaking of a slow internal bleed.
As she stoops to hit again, his broken hand reached for her fist. The gentleness of his touch instantly stills her momentum, although not the fire in her eyes.
“I could have left you in your ignorance, toiling for a man who could never return. I do not wish for gratitude; there is only one course left open to us.”
“If you kill me here, the men in the lander will shatter your body with autocannon fire.”
The necessary lie slipped easily from his broken lips; one final untruth, to cover what must be done.
“However, if you execute me as a deserting coward in front of them and take up my role, there will be no questions asked. Derin served with exemplary distinction. My treachery took his life.
"I now return his life and his honour...that which I stole...to you.”
Long seconds pass as she makes her decision then she pulls him roughly to his feet, shouting so that the others can hear.
“Stand up soldier! Confess and face the judgement of the Lord of All!”
Gravex staggers and nearly falls, yet some last inner spark of decency enables him to remain upright long enough to make his announcement.
“I am Tertius-level Commissar Aloysius Gravex. I have been found guilty under the crime of desertion in the face of the enemy; I also murdered a soldier of The Emperor.”
The sharp report of the round and the explosion of impact drown out everything else, even the shuttle’s engines.
A body falls, swiftly overlooked and forgotten by the newly-appointed Commissar, the parched earth eagerly drinking the scarlet stain.
There is no more talk of bravery, or questions...only duty remains.
This is my first attempt at anything like this so i hope it is good.
1078 words with title.
A Life for a Life
Alexander sat upon the bench weeping. The cold rain had soaked him to the core a long time ago. His combat uniform was drenched by his tears and the rain. His bag lay next to him, ignored. His lasgun, which he had prized just hours before was discarded on the muddy floor. His helmet was also on the floor, thrown there in anger. Tears mingled with the rain running down his face. He just could not believe what had happened.
Four hours before Alexander had been parading with his family around the city, along with the other survivors. Alexander and his regiment had managed to defend the world against enemy forces far larger than their own and lived to tell the tale. They were returning hero’s and the Planetary Governor had arranged a huge celebration to mark their safe return. But they had all been so wrong. They were wrong they had defeated the enemy. For the enemy were so close.
Before anyone could react explosions had ripped through the parade. Buildings had toppled and people had screamed in fear and pain. From nowhere shadows had descended upon the populace of the city and cut them down. None had been armed or ready for that brutal assault and thousands had been cut down before any kind of defence could be made. The Guardsman had quickly prepared their guns, desperate to protect their family’s and friends. But against an unknown and unseen enemy they had had no chance. Alexander himself had been thrown back by a mighty explosion in front of him.
Alexander had struggled to his feet. Desperately searching for his wife and daughter, praying to the Emperor they were safe. Through the dust he had struggled, firing blindly into the smoke. Finally he had found his wife, crouched over their 6 year old daughter. Alexander had started to rush towards them when a figure stepped out of the dust clouds surrounding them. The figure stood tall and slim, wearing tight body fitting armour. He was humanoid but carried a strange gun. Alexander instantly recognized the figure as an Eldar. The Eldar had not seen Alexander’s family and Alexander was not going to let him go anywhere near them. Shouting a strange battle cry Alexander had charged forward with his gun blazing. The Eldar had quickly turned to the source of the incoming fire and raised it’s gun. But a whimper of fear from the 6 year old girl had startled the Eldar. With a quick movement the Eldar had swivelled and fired four rounds at the mother and daughter. The fist round tore a bloody hole through Alexander’s wife’s chest, the second through her leg. The third and fourth had found Alexander’s daughter, his little baby girl. One had cut into her neck, silencing her screams for good. And the fourth had cut through her right where her heart was. Alexander had stopped and fallen to his knees as he saw his family killed before his eyes. The Eldar stopped ead when it realized what it had done. It turned to look once more at Alexander before disappearing again. Alexander had turned and ran, away from the death, away from the bodies of his family and away from all that remained of his life. And that is how he found his way to the small park bench where he now sat, weeping.
As Alexander lay there he heard footsteps approaching. He looked up and through wet eyes he saw something unbelievable. Because walking towards him through the rain was an Eldar, the very Eldar that had killed Alexander’s family. Alexander reacted quickly. He reached down and picked up his lasgun, his fingers slipping and sliding, before aiming it at the Eldar’s head. It was then that Alexander noticed that the Eldar was unarmed. Alexander relaxed slightly but still targeted the Eldar. The Eldar stopped five metres from Alexander and looked right at him, The Eldar then spoke in a strange rough voice, almost as if the Eldar had too been crying.
“Do it, shoot me”
Alexander paused and lowered his gun slightly.
“It’s all I deserve. I took away all you had. I killed your love. I killed your child. I deserve to be dead”
“What do you mean?”
“I broke my vows. I killed innocent and defenceless women and children. Please. Kill me.”
“I don’t seek blood for what you did. Just reason”
“That is the one thing I can not provide. I acted rashly and out of step. None of us realized there were children and women amongst your numbers. We planned to only kill armed soliders. Please! Just kill me so that I don’t have to put up with myself any longer. It feels as if my very soul has been ripped from me and torn apart.”
“If it is what you desire then it shall be done. But i am not happy about it”
With those words the Eldar fell to his knees and removed his helmet. The Eldar was a handsome man with long blonde hair and blue eyes. He smiled weakly as Alexander rested the barrel of his lasgun upon his forehead. Alexander breathed deeply and prepared himself. He knew this would not fill the gaping hole where his heart should be but he knew this Eldar could no longer live with himself. And so with a heavy heart Alexander rested his finger on the trigger. Under his breath the Eldar began to mutter unknown words, things Alexander could only presume were prayers. And then, just as Alexander was about to squeeze the trigger, the Eldar looked up one more time and met eyes with Alexander.
“Do not think too badly of me when I’m gone. Know that what i did today was against all i believe in. It was not my intention to slay your family. Make it quick”
And as the Eldar smiled again Alexander squeezed the trigger and the Eldar collapsed backwards. Alexander staggered back, his hand flew to his mouth as he saw the beautiful alien lying in the mud, a bloody hole in his head and his blood mingling with the rain and forming puddles around his head. Alexander wiped his eyes and turned away from the gruesome sight. He slowly pulled on his soaking bag and helmet and turned from the body. And then he set off. Into the ruins and away from the horrific scene he left behind.
Lost. Alone. In a world of billions I am lost and alone and there is none to rescue me. They move about the streets at all hours of the night and day droning about like zombies to their assigned duties, places of dining or habs where they spend their sleep cycles only to do it again when they awake. I should clarify; they did move about. Now they are all dead.
My name is Alaxander Trask and as far as I know I am the only one who has survived, but I don’t know why or how. Billions of people all around me, dead or so it seems. Most just stopped moving. They are frozen in place like statues that refuse to fall when the wind blows or the storms come. Their eyes are caught mid blink, wide open or completely closed. Some were in conversation, some animated and filled with exaggeration of the facial features or hand gestures. They remained that way when they died. Some people are sitting in their offices or in process of consuming food freshly bought, mouths open for their next bite.
I move about them seeking some form or sign of life, but there is none; they are frozen in place while I move about lost and alone. It frightens me to see the world around me so lifeless. There is nothing I can do about it; every thought and hope I have is blown away saturated by shock and disarray.
Weeks have passed now and the bodies that stand frozen in place have begun to rot, their flesh decomposing, their stomachs distended and bursting from gaseous pressure, bowels empting and falling and spilling their contents upon the streets. The world stinks with decay and I cannot escape the impurity of it all.
Nothing matters anymore. I am alone in the world that I once loved. The food is all rotten except for canned goods. Water is polluted. The sewers have overrun and rats by the trillions have emerged from the depths of the underworld to feast upon the dead. Flies and worms, maggots and carrion infest the dead, but still they stand and do not fall to the ground.
I am seeing shadows move about in broad daylight. I hear them screaming and moaning and calling out to me to save them but I cannot. I am helpless to release them from their terror. They are the souls of the dead confined to the world they once knew, but can take no part of its pleasures anymore. I am broken, my hair is long and matted and I am sure that my mind is losing all sanity. The ghosts swirl about me in the day and attack me in the night. I believe they are angry that I am not helping them.
I tried to shoot myself the other night and end it all. I want no part of this world anymore, but they stopped me from my attempt laughing as they smashed me to the ground and held me in the dirt. Months have come and gone and still the bodies have not collapsed to the ground. Billions of skeletons and hollow eye sockets stare into nothing; stare into my very soul as I walk by seeking something to eat, something to let me live another day. I want to die but I cannot, they will not let me. Why?
It has been a year since the event but I am no longer alone. They dance about me now keeping me alive, keeping me from sleep, keeping me from rest. If their souls cannot rest they will not let me rest. They say I owe them something, but what I do not know.
Sickness has wracked my body and I have lost weight. I am a walking corpse in a forest of corpses. The shadows sooth me and keep me from dying and I weep for the helplessness and loneliness I feel.
There is one soul that speaks to me now. The voice is distant and filled with sadness. I hear her weeping as she speaks to me. It is the voice of a child asking me, ‘Why are you alive. What is your purpose?’ She asks me every day, every moment of every day. I have no answer for her.
The sunset is red and purple, the clouds alive with beauty. I watch from the rooftop of a building and begin to cry. Tears run down my face as I contemplate the questions of the child ghost. What is my purpose? Why am I still alive?
What do I owe any of the dead? I begin to think about those who have died and the lives they must have lived. I begin to grieve for the souls that move as shadows all about me. They hear me weeping and leave me alone. One by one the voices leave my mind and I am left in silence in the night.
For the first time since it all happened I have stopped thinking of myself and I am thinking of them. I hear them in the background of my mind as they join my lamenting. For the first time the tears I shed are not for myself and I understand my purpose, the reason why I am still alive. I owe them a debt of sadness and a debt of remembrance.
The night goes by and the sun is rising. The clouds are alive with pinks and yellows of many shades. I have wept all night for the dead. As I look down from the rooftop I see that the corpses are no longer standing. Each one has fallen to the ground. I understand why they are no longer standing and I begin to smile. The shadows no longer move about, the voices no longer scream in my mind. For the first time in my life I am at peace and so are they, I think. I owed a debt and have paid the restitution with the tears of my soul.
Hi there, i have been lurking for awhile now reading the past couple of months worth of stories. So i thought it was about time that i give it ago myself. Hopefully its half decent for my first attempt at writing a story.
Beacon of Restoration
Sitting on the bench, Abraham gazed at the crowd that had started to gather at this place of diabolical evil. A silent statue amongst a sea of devils, that’s how Abraham hoped he would be remembered. Here in this unspeakable place he knew it would end, it was his time to show that there was still hope for humanity and hopefully clear the fog that was clouding the rest of his people in the city. As well as make amends for the guilt he has lived with for months. Flexing his fingers he checked the time, a couple more minutes and his target would be making his proclamations, a couple more minutes and Abraham knew he would vanquish evil and bring forth the light.
* * * * *Two months ago
Walking home Abraham took the long way, he hated returning home to his family. His friends parents where so much more fun, for a boy of 16 getting to spend his time in the company of his friends where he could drink and experiment was not something that his parents would tolerate. This was why he took the long way back home tonight, a few extra minutes to savour being away from a family that he found stifling. Turning the corner of his street he saw a group of men gathered around his house, dressed in black with an assortment of guns. Ducking into an alley way he watched as his family were dragged out. His parents with their hands bound where thrown on the ground in front of the house while his younger brother bleary eyed from having been woken up was forced to stand amongst the men. For a second the silence was deafening something that is hardly the norm in a hive city. Being to far away to hear what was being said Abraham could just watch in fear as the leader of this group came towards his father. Kneeling down he whispered to his father, then turned around and looked at Abraham’s brother. What happened next stayed with Abraham until the day he died. Struggling against his bonds his father lunged at the leader, acting calmly the man side stepped him and drew his pistol in one fluid movement, before pulling the trigger twice and Abrahams parents bodies fell to a crumpled heap on the floor. Terrified his little brother at this point tried to escape, a gesture from the leader sent the boy flying to the floor as one of the men knocked him out with the butt of his gun. Unfurling a banner that Abraham burned into his psyche they hung it outside of his house, before throwing his brothers unconscious in and set it alight.
Abraham broke down in tears while all of this was happening; he was an onlooker in his family’s brutal slaying. He did nothing to help, didn’t shout or go and get someone that might be able to stop what was happening. He had just stood and watched. Coming back to reality Abraham started to run, where to he did not know, he just knew that he had to get away from there quickly before they found him to and did the same to him. He had been running for less than a minute when he bumped into his friend’s father. Speaking quickly and rapidly Abraham tried to explain what he had just witnessed. Quieting him his friend’s father spoke quietly and calmly, with a reassuring tone to his voice he looked Abraham in the eye and said “Do you see now, do you see what they are like. Are you ready to help us, are you ready to help the light, are you ready for revenge.”
* * * * *One day ago
Abraham squeezed the trigger of his autogun one last time to finish of his clip. Looking at the target he saw that his accuracy had improved, at least half of his shots were now on target, a big improvement in the past two months. Checking his watch he saw that it was time for his briefing. The time for reprisal was only a day way, Abraham knew that this was what the past two months training had been for. Stowing away his weapon he headed for the stairs and proceeded to the meeting room. Entering the room he was ushered to one of the seats on the edge of the room. Looking around, the room was nearly empty only the commander of the resistance stood there relaying the orders to the other resistance groups around the city. Looking in Abrahams direction he beckoned him forward towards the map of the city. “Abraham the time is nearly upon us to start taking back this planet from the unholy monsters that currently occupy it. We just received word that a prominent figure is going to be given a speech to the masses tomorrow. We need you to start the war, you will initiate an attack against this man a leader, a figure head in there quasi religion. Do you have any questions?” “Why tomorrow?” Abraham replied. “Because what better day to start our global offensive than on a day that holds significance to them. It will take the fight out of them quickly and allow us to get the upper hand. Go and prepare for your duties there is not much time left.” Shooing him away the commander turned back towards the maps and started to relay the last of the orders that would be needed for tomorrow actions. Leaving, Abraham knew that tomorrow this two month nightmare would finally be repaid.
* * * * *Coming back to reality Abraham saw his target, sliding his hand beneath his coat he clicked the safety off of the autogun concealed beneath and made sure that the explosives were ready. Slowly he rose from his seat and started towards this cult’s leader. Gazing slightly up as he moved he looked at the banners flowing whenever a breeze came there way. With the high gothic ringing in his ears and the distinctive I symbol emblazed on the banners, Abrahams mind flashed through the people in his life that he was saving by doing this, his mother, father & brothers. Hopefully there life would be better. Shrugging of his coat he raised his autogun. The last sounds he heard were the dull popping sound of his gun. The death screams of the congregation. The explosions enveloping his body. He knew that slaanesh was happy with the destruction wrought that day and what it heralded.
Welcome to Heresy Kurnugia. Quite an entrance. :victory:
Calling in the debt
Word count: 1092
The warp rushed past the Heat of Pleasure as she sailed the turbulent seas seemingly unbothered by the figures that touched and probed her sides like small lichen looking for a way in to cause havoc amongst the tasty mortal beings that lived aboard her. Like a Lioness who had enough of the attention, her engines emitted a loud snarl that sent the small demons scurrying away, realising she was already bound to on whose reach was infinite.
Chaplain Demara paused as he felt the ships displeasure and touched her sides, his dark eyes rolling back a little at the sensations he felt. He whispered a calming mantra to the ships spirit and continued on his way. He had the Rapture to prepare for their next port of call, and the claiming of an old debt, one that Jovotch was going to collect with all the thanks of an enraged Lion.
Majora was a world loyal to the golden throne, where once she had been a beautiful oasis in the sea of the Imperium, she was now a world of industry and hive cities. Imperial Guard regiments raised here were sent to the far flung corners of the Imperium never to return. Of course its biggest assets were the mining facilities that produced tonnes and tonnes of ore for the ever hungry Forge World of Harjsan XI. There was a heavy Arbites presence and it was needed, the miners were a violent lot, when the work shift was through they headed into the seedier sectors of Majora and many of the world’s enforcers could not cope with the more rowdy elements.
The governor was a harsh woman who brooked no deviation from the path of the Golden Throne and she was known to hunt down cults with such vigour that she had been commentated several times by the Justice Marshal and the hidden powers that be. However she was not aware that a pact made ten thousand years ago was going to come back and haunt her and her world.
The Traitor guard units of the Majoran 23rd and the Majoran 41st bowed their heads and listened to their company chaplain speak of the glories of Slannesh, how he expected every woman to bring him riches and every man to bring her souls. Above the hideously mutated humans stood the Lord Commander and Demara, allowing the priests of the regiments to finish their sermons. When they had all eyes turned to the balcony and all went down on one knee before their masters.
“Ten Thousand years ago, when our father strode towards the home of the false Emperor with Horus he spared the world of Majora under the condition that they turned away from the Golden Throne and would provide our brothers with warriors who could go where we cannot go. They promised us a world where we could recruit battle bothers. They lied to us and when our recruiting squads landed they were killed by the false angels of the accused Iron Hands.
This betrayal of your former home world has not been forgotten and it is time for them to pay their dues. Your commanders saw the value of your oaths to my father; you have all been blessed with long life and gifts from The Dark Prince. Look see how sister Neryn is ready to join with the Dark Queen and become one of her trusted servants.”
All eyes turned to Trooper Neryn, her skin pale, her eyes glowed and her lower body masculine she was changing and every victory her company attained in the service of Slannesh enhanced that.
“Kill every living being on that world and your future will be realised. For Elaxsius, the host and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed”
The shout was echoed through altered voices and Jovotch grinned.
Majora did not know what had hit it. The drop pods fell from the skies around the main city and corrupted Stormbirds and Thunderhawks flew over the city and fired their chaos blessed missiles into PDF Barracks sending thousands of tonnes of rockcrete falling onto bodies and other buildings. The Rapture waited, they watched their own guard tear apart their former home world’s defenders with savagery and gusto that, in all honesty impressed the brothers of the Flawless Host. High above them a woman’s devotional screams changed to bliss as she held aloft the heart and head of the Ecclesiarch Priest.
Neryn ascended and Jovotch watched in rapt wonder as this once mortal woman became a champion of Slannesh, her lower body became serpentine as the changes wrought upon her brought her former troop mates into a frenzy of worship and slaughter.
Jovotch could hear the twin hearts of each brother of the Rapture begin to beat faster, anticipating the slaughter to come.
++Release the drugs into your system brothers and do what you do best++
Upon his orders each brother of the Rapture released their own combat drugs and their bodies acted accordingly. Senses heightened, violence magnified the favoured of Elaxsius the Flawless tore into the populace.
They skinned living bodies even as they defiled them in ways too unspeakable to even mention. Children were caught, skinned and hung over fires so that their pitiful cries fuelled the ever sensation hunting warriors. Men were forced to watch as their wives were brutally raped then had their own bodies violated even as acts of depravity were forced upon their loved ones.
Jovotch stood before the ruling council, the newly ascended Neryn by his side. He told them of the oath made by their forefathers and how they had broken their deal. How they had cost the lives of battle brothers through their dishonour. The Governor staring at the crucified bodies of the Arbites told the Warrior where he could go.
Jovotch clutched her chin between his giant fingers and the pain made her cry out. It was music to his ears. And such a show of bravado deserved only a fitting reward. He ordered the city destroyed but before he left he killed the council all but the governor, he left her with a whispered thought.
“What did you tell her?” Demara asked as they walked away, her insane screaming in their ears
“I told her that her forefather signed the agreement and that her grand uncle was a battle brother”
Jovotch pointed to a terminator clad warrior with skulls and flesh adorning his armour. Brother August roared his affirmation to the dark prince.
“Restitution paid I think” Jovotch grinned
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