Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories 16-04: Absence
Welcome to the year's fourth
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, totalled 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 and be awarded the Lexicanum's Crest award for Fiction excellence!
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 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:
AbsenceEntries 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 GMT, 30 April 2016. Remember, getting your story submitted on 22nd will be just as considered by others as one submitted on 11th! Take as much time as you need to work on your piece! Any entries submitted past the deadline will not be considered in the competition, regardless of whether the voting thread is posted or not.
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 - 1 reputation points, everyone will receive this
3rd place - 2 reputation points
2nd place - 3 reputation points
1st place - 4 reputation points and Lexicanum's Crest
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in this thread.
Without further nonsense from me, let the writing begin!
The Ancestor’s Path
Word Count: 1097
Asbjorn Winter-Blade. Guardian of the Alle’. Father of resilient Bjorn and Kolli. Husband of the spirited Lady Rana. Long may he reign in the Blood God’s halls. Long may he drink alongside his fathers. Long may the Valkyries sing of his saga into the echoes of eternity.
For Bjorn knew that the sorcerers and bards of this world had long forgotten his father’s name. As they had done since the beginning of what civilization chose to eke out an existence among the chaos wastes, Asbjorn Winter-Blade’s chronicles were scratched from the etchings of history after his passing. Indeed, Asbjorn Winter-Blade only lived on the eternal great hall and in the stories of those who still carried a spark of love for him.
Asbjorn Winter-Blade’s burial shrine was a small temple, built at the base of one of the highest hills that overlooked the village of Skane. The fourteen and twelve year old boys known respectively as Bjorn and Kolli tread briskly through the rolling hills. Skane stretched out before them as if a roiling wave of urban sprawl across the valley below until it met the ocean.
A small portcullis remained unopened between two massive stone pillars, beyond was the dilapidated ruins of Winter-Blade’s shrine. Bjorn immediately caught the scent of burning herbs and melting wax and knew someone had visited recently.
Kolli watched Bjorn fuss around with the lever that would open the portcullis. “Why does no one remember father, Bjorn?”
“Because,” Bjorn shrugged. “His enemies killed him? They don’t want him to be remembered as the strong man he was. They want to be just like him. Have their own legends for the bards to sing about in the Jarl’s Halls.”
The portcullis rattled as it retracted into the ceiling and left an open path into the shrine. Bjorn gestured for Kolli to follow, but his younger brother stood frozen by the roadside.
“Kolli?” Bjorn asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Do you hear that, Bjorn?” Kolli gasped. “There’s something happening down there in Skane.”
Bjorn stepped away from the lever to join his brother and listened to the moaning northern winds. The villagers of Skane looked like nothing more than ants from this distance. But Bjorn heard their distant cries carried on the winds, studied the way that the ants moved erratically between the streets and began to flee from certain points of the village.
“We’re under attack…” Bjorn muttered, fear etched in his voice. His voice came back, much louder this time. “We’re under attack!”
“Bjorn!” Kolli cried. “We have to find mother!”
Bjorn started to run back down the path they had climbed to reach the shrine. “Come on, we have to find her!”
Skane had descended into a storm of chaos and bloodshed. As Bjorn and Kolli reached the outskirts of the village, they took cover behind Aren’s smithy. Aren himself had fallen victim to a javelin through the chest and fallen into one of his forge fires. Bjorn could only tell by the tattered crimson and black apron that the blacksmith had worn of late. The corpses of the blacksmith’s aids laid about the forges, splintered apart by the axes and blades of strange warriors.
“Who are they?” Kolli whispered. He pointed a trembling finger at the half-naked warriors patrolling around the burning smithy. They were marked distinctly by their lavender and lilac heraldry and flowing raven hair.
“I don’t know, Kolli.” Bjorn surmised. “But we’ll kill them. You see those daggers – in that barrel on the far corner of the smithy? Grab one or two and we’ll attack from both sides.”
Kolli snorted. “You think we can take them?”
“Don’t argue with me.” Bjorn commanded. “I’m your elder brother. Let’s go.”
Without another word, Bjorn rounded around the corner and sprinted for the far side of the smithy. Rotting hay crunched beneath his boot and one of the marauders wheeled around and shouted an urgent warning. The outlandish warrior brandished a hand axe and raised his shield in a sudden charge. Kolli shouted an obscenity and broke off from Bjorn’s trail, flailing his arms and ran in another direction.
The marauder flipped a table with a shoulder charge and almost barreled Kolli over, but the younger man proved more nimble and stayed beyond his reach. Kolli ducked beneath a cleaving sweep of an axe and grabbed the nearest barrel of unquenched swords and threw it between them. The marauder cursed as he tripped over the blades and sliced his feet into bloody ribbons. But somehow, he was already coming back to his feet.
“Stay away from my brother, cur!” Bjorn shouted. The dagger in his hand gleamed in the sunlight as it hurtled forward and cut into the meat of the marauder’s neck. Fresh blood spurted from the wound and onto Bjorn’s clothes, but the light quickly left the man’s eyes. “Come on, Kolli! Here’s a dagger for you, too!”
“Over there! Get those boys!” Another raider commanded.
Four warriors emerged from the nearest hovels, slathered in blood and quickly made to surround the smithy. Bjorn noticed the heads that dangled from their belts, he recognized the people that he had lived beside for over a decade. The marauders laughed amongst one another as they casually closed in for the kill.
Father, arrive from your great hall and avenge the blood of your kin. Father, protect us.
The first marauder charged forward with great speed. His longsword struck like an uncoiled serpent, but Aren’s lessons took over Bjorn’s body on an instinctual level. The longsword cut through his long sleeve. Bjorn fought through the agony of the gash carved from shoulder to elbow and jabbed his dagger through the bottom of the warrior’s chin.
Kolli had thrown his dagger into the eye of another lilac warrior before he could make his assault. Bjorn cried out as his younger brother was ran through from the back by a short sword. Before his younger brother could even stumble, the head of his attacker came away by the chop of a large axe head. The corpse of Kolli’s attacker collapsed to reveal a bloodied and ragged Rana.
The last Maurader weaved between Bjorn and Rana with two blades, but Rana parried one of his strikes and kicked him below the belt. She took his head with another swing.
“What’s wrong with you!?” Rana pleaded. She cradled Kolli’s pale form in her bloody hands. “Why didn’t you stay with your father? He would have protected you!”
Bjorn could say nothing, do nothing but watch. “Then who would have rescued you?”
Blackness and beyond
“Shields at full”
“Steady as she goes helm”
The Dictator-Class Cruiser Tor Garnett gave an almost indiscernible shudder as it ploughed through the asteroid belt, easing aside the fragments like a tidal flow on a still river.
"Aye, course holding, steady as she goes, Sir"
Rear-Admiral Torvez Skarstein swivelled around in his command chair and scanned the faces of the crew around him. Most of them were locked in various positions of concentration, heavily involved in the minutiae that made the ship run so efficiently, others were in animated conversation with menials and runners. It was all running as smoothly as he could hope, but there was something there under the surface, a niggling feeling that he had not seen before.
He had lead this crew many times. He preferred to transfer his flag to this ship rather than any other. He knew them all by name and they had all served him well over the years. They were dependable, stoic and loyal.
On this mission, something had changed.
He spared the ship's Captain a cursory glance. Drac Lareson, the durable, unswerving, fifty-year-old Navy stalwart with a hundred actions under his belt was sweating profusely, and the light grey uniform tunic he was wearing was stained around the armpits and back. This was most unusual for a career officer with a solid head and indubitable courage.
The whole crew was tense; and he could almost taste their uneasiness in the air. They were entering the unknown and far from the comfort of Imperial shipping lanes. This area of space marked 'Uncharted' on the map, had been cut off by warp storms for nearly a thousand years. No Exploration Fleet had ever tried to penetrate its depths until now. They were all on edge with nerves stretched to breaking point.
He was not worried himself about the prospect of moving on into the beyond, he had, after all, been cut off in the warp enough times during his time in the Navy, and knew that feeling of helplessness that goes with it. What worried him was the fact that the light of the Astronomican was barely visible out here, and he always comforted himself with the knowledge that he could trace a line back to Holy Terra, and that meant comparative safety.
He checked his monitor. They were entering a section of The Ghoul Stars, or the Ghost Stars, depending on your point of view. Even the names of this region of space made him uneasy.
They were on the furthermost border of the Imperium? Beyond was darkness and the unknown. Would they ever find anyone out here on the frontier? The word of Man had ventured beyond this point long ago, but whoever those adventurers were, they had been cut off from the comfort and relative safety of Imperial space for a long time.
He had heard of the lost ships and the fleets that never returned. He had heard of shadows on the outer rim, and rumours of a creeping menace.
Bedtime fables he scoffed, stories to make children sleep.
+ Clear of the asteroid belt + The navigation servitor spoke in a low monotone free from emotion or personal thought.
“Check long range Auspex!”, Captain Lareson’s sounded confused. Skarstein turned around and saw the crew staring up at the large viewing screens. They were wide-eyed, some visibly shaken.
“Report Captain.” There was a long pause before he repeated the order.
Lareson shrugged his shoulders and then held his arms out in front of him, palms upwards.
Lareson straightened up, a sloppy form of attention.
“I mean Sir, there is nothing there... out there.”
Skarstein stood up, it was a subconscious motion. He then leant forward on the railing of the command dais.
All the screens were black.
“Maximum efficiency, maximum range, Sir.”
“All Imperial channels, all ranges,” the low-grade officer added in almost a whisper, “Nothing, Sir.”
“Astra Telepathica?”. Skarstein looked over to the right of the command deck where a small, frail figure in grey threadbare robes stood.
“Astra Telepathica?” He repeated.
The ships Psyker-Majoris did not move or speak for a few seconds. When the voice came it was that of a woman.
“Feel?”, Skarstein interrupted.
“There is something out there...”
Skarstein looked back at the screens again.
Beyond their hull and beyond the asteroid belt there was nothing but darkness. There was a complete absence of light or any points of reference. There were no stars, no galaxy’s, no nebula’s, or anything else that one would expect to see in the heavens and in every sky on every planet.
There was nothing but darkness and…
“Death.” The Psyker hissed the word.
Everyone on the command deck heard her, and everyone turned.
Skarstein groaned and then stood ramrod straight.
“I chose this ship,” he began, “because it is the best in the fleet. I chose this ship because this crew are the most professional and dedicated people I know. I chose you because I can rely on you when things are falling apart all around us. I expect the best from the best.” He paused and then waved at the screen. “Now I get doom and gloom.” He slammed his fist down hard on the railing. “Give me proper reports!”
A previously hidden figure appeared, gliding onto the deck from a concealed alcove. The gathered officers and attendant’s moved apart to let the new arrival through.
Skarstein nodded. If he needed an answer free of ambiguities, he could always rely on the Mechanicum.
“Welcome Adept Egbert-Douwecoff.”
The Adept bowed respectively. He was a head taller than the Admiral, and the cluster of mechanical arms, proboscises and Mechanicum minutiae, meant that his size dominated the deck. Skarstein stepped backwards slightly to give him room. He was not intimidated, it was just that the Adepts robes smelt of unguents and passive pheromones, which were slightly unpleasant.
“This area of space is filled with an extraordinary high volume of dark matter,” he began matter-of-factly. “Light finds it difficult to get through.” He turned to the Admiral. “However, our investigations have revealed that this area was once filled with stars and planets but a great calamity has struck.”
“Everything has been destroyed,” the Adept paused. “Correction. Not everything. There is a star system out there. It is just that we cannot see it.”
Skarstein turned to the screens.
“A hidden system?”
“Yes Admiral. We have also discovered something interesting.”
“More interesting than this?”
“Yes Admiral. We have discovered Imperial signifiers. There is evidence that Imperial worlds exist and thrive.”
Soulless- 1063 words
From- Interrogator Svik Leighten
To- Inquisitor Aethel
Subject- Report, Subject 14: Terr Bronsen
Thought for the day: Happiness is a delusion of the weak
Subject 14 is a young male, aged between thirteen and sixteen years. Shows signs of malnourishment- skinny, small. Face cadaverous, eyes sunken deep into skull, broken nose. The clothing provided him hangs loosely off of his shoulders. His hands and arms are scarred, with fresh cuts bandaged. The cell is kept dim; at my entrance, the light from the door caused him to cringe away.
It is difficult to be in the same room as the subject. It is difficult to look at him already, due to his appearance, and even in the corridors outside one feels uneasy. Upon entering the cell, one cannot help but feel disgusted and nauseous. I had thought that I would be prepared, but I was not. I am told that the subjects in the cells immediately to either side of his have been pleading to be moved, and that one of them, a minor heretic, broke down and confessed to her crimes in an effort to be moved. After experiencing this for myself, I have no doubt that the death she was given was preferable to being confined next to this for days on end.
The subject regarded me with fear. It is clear that his experiences with Inquisition personnel prior to meeting myself have not been positive. If the information provided me on his background was correct, the subject’s entire life has been similar. I feel as though I should have some pity for him, but it is nearly impossible to do so after having experienced his presence. In any event, after a few moments, the subject appeared to come to terms with my presence.
I waited a moment to begin my interview. The effect of his presence is… profound. I found myself lost for words for a significant period of time, although I had prepared questions. It took great willpower to stop myself from becoming violent with the subject. Once I had calmed myself, I began the questioning. Included below is a transcription of the interview, with my notes.
Interrogator Leighten- What is your name?
Subject 14- Terr Bronsen.
Leighten- Do you know where you are?
Leighten- Do you know why you are here?
Leighten- Do you know who I am?
14- [Subject motions to the rosette on my coat.] You’re an Inquisitor.
Leighten- I am Interrogator Leighten. Tell me how you came to be here.
14- I was involved in a fight after stealing food. The local Arbitrators picked me up. And then a big man came and injected me with something. I woke up here. [Subject detained after a fight- which later escalated into a minor riot- over stolen food. Taken to this facility by order of Inquisitor Aethel, after reports of unease and suspicions of witchery from Adeptus Arbites jailors.]
Leighten- Why do you think that you’re here?
14- Because they think I’m a witch.
Leighten- Who thinks that you are a witch?
14- Everybody. They wouldn’t sell me food. They beat me. Ever since Mum died...
Leighten- When did your mother die?
14- Two years ago.
14- She… killed herself. [At this, subject seems to be holding back tears. For some reason, I experience a barely-controllable urge to strike him. Information is consistent with what I had been told already- mother died two years ago, suicide by way of knife.]
Leighten- Why do they think that you are a witch?
14- I don’t know.
Leighten- Are you a witch?
14- No! [Subject appears indignant.] No I’m not!
Leighten- Then why do they think that you are one?
14- [Subject begins crying, still angry.] I don’t know! I’m not a witch!
At this point, I ceased the interview for a moment. The subject was becoming hysterical, and prolonged close contact with him was having an effect on me. I left the cell, walking out of the detention wing to clear my head. After several minutes, I returned to the subject’s cell to continue the interview. When I reentered, I found the subject striking the wall repeatedly, no doubt in an attempt to self-harm. His knuckles were bleeding severely, and I realized that this was how he’d gained the injuries to his arms that I had observed earlier. He heard my entrance and looked at me. Interview resumes:
Leighten- Stop that.
14- [Stops striking the wall and slumps against it.] Why do they all think I’m a witch? I never did anything to them...
Leighten- Because you make them uneasy.
Leighten- You have no soul.
14- What?! [Subject is visibly confused. I decide that it would be difficult to explain.]
Leighten- Do you want to serve the God-Emperor?
14- [Subject wipes tears from face, but smears it with blood instead.] More than anything.
Leighten- Do you pray to Him?
14- Every night. He keeps me strong, through all of… everything.
Leighten- Would you die for Him?
Leighten- Show me. [I draw my laspistol, click off the safety, and hold it out to the subject. He takes it after a moment of hesitation, eyes wide. I do not think that he has ever seen such a weapon before. After looking it over, he glances up at me.]
14- What do you want me to do? [I say nothing, instead keeping eye contact with him. It is still difficult to do it, but I am becoming acclimatized to the sensation of wrongness. After a few seconds, he looks back down to the pistol, and then slowly brings the muzzle up to the side of his head. With a deep breath, he closes his eyes and presses the trigger. It clicks- the power cell is depleted.]
Leighten- Good. [I take the weapon back and holster it.] Terr Bronsen is dead. I will return.
Having concluded the interview thusly, I left the cell. The subject performed as well as could be expected, in my opinion. Out of all the blanks I have been assigned to interview, this subject was the strongest, the most… disconcerting. Although his background is similar to most, I find it notable that he was brought to our attention this young. I would recommend taking this subject for further study and training- he could be of some use.
The 16th Hour
The 16th Hour
Word Count: 1090
The shadows played just out of range to be visible...the sounds clear as day in his head. "Push harder you maggot!" he heard his sergeant yell.
The feelings of intense pain coming and going, his body numb then suddenly in full shock from pain. "Cover the west damn you!" he heard his sergeant yell again.
He had no idea where he was but felt as though he was moving. Blurry glimpses of a star filled sky coming and going.Where am I, am even alive??he thought.
He began to feel the pain more and more, then it began to fade away. The star filled sky becoming familiar. He was beginning to come to. "Don't die on me you bastard!"
The world seemed as to explode with life once more. Larn took a massive gulp of air as he came to and began looking around. "Thank the Emperor he's conscious!" said the medic next to him.
Larn began to look around trying to get his bearings; he was laying flat on a stretcher and was moving. Soldiers all around him running past him, it only took him a second to realize they were heading into the fight and he was being taken away from it.
“Where are we going?” He asked as he tried to sit up, the pain still there but felt as though it was dulled. “Away from the death.” Replied the medic, he was running next to Larn’s stretcher trying keep up and seal up the wound at the same time.
Larn looked down, unable to determine how big or bad the wound was. “Stop, let me off, I feel fine. I need to get back to my squad!” he demanded
“Of course you FEEL fine; we pumped you with so much pain killers your heart almost stopped! You’re not going anywhere!” yelled the medic not looking away from his wound for a second.
“Obviously we are under attack and I need to get back to my squad! We are on the first line! If that falls this whole dame place falls!” he retorted.
“Your squad is dead! The front line is falling as we speak!” the medic yelled now staring into Larn’s eyes.
He couldn’t believe it, everyone? Dead? Then he felt his stomach drop, he felt almost sick once he realized what he was hearing. The most distinct whistling sound he had ever heard before, friendly fire.
The medics stopped, the one in the front turned to meet the eyes of the medic treating Larn’s wounds.
“GET DOWN!!” The medic yelled dropping the stretcher to the ground. Larn now falling to the ground was beaten by the artillery round.
The deafening explosion was all Larn had heard, then once again blackness.
The world coming to slowly, the pain rushing back to him, not to be dulled any longer and making up for being dampened before.
“Blar fu mokey?” The voice sounded as though it was underwater. The feeling of hands on his soldier and side as the world was rotated around him.
“Are you okay!?” The voice screamed, now audible.
“What happened?” questioned Larn as he began to feel around his chest in search of new wounds. His stomached dropped once more when he touched his right thigh and nearly passed out from the pain.
“Easy man, you guys were right next to a stray artillery round! I wouldn’t go moving around if I was you!” The soldier had yelled.
More soldiers began to show up around them, the sounds of battle growing louder. A soldier kneeled down next to Larn, he had a comms unit on his back. “Here, let’s get you turned around!” he said as he began to lift and turn Larn to point towards front lines. The pain making Larn cry out.
“How bad is it?” Larn questioned now realizing that he was quite a distance from what once was the front line.
“Its getting pretty sporty, first line collapsed completely! Command is all over the board on what to do!” The solder replied as he handed Larn his lasrifle. “Give them hell was the last order we received!” Laughed the soldier as he shouldered his rifle and sprayed fire into the oncoming horde of greenskins.
Larn could see them yet again, the hatred for them filling his body in place of pain. They were getting closer, the make shift firing line barely effecting the orks. He began firing madly into the front lines, trying desperately to help his comrades once more.
He saw a large ork making his way to the front of the enemy lines, two huge stick bombs, one in each hand. “Kill it!” Larn screamed as he began to fire at the crazed ork. The soldier who had helped him noticed this and began to target the same ork.
The fire barely slowing him down, then one shot landed dead square between the monster’s eyes. The huge body going limp, falling towards the ground as the stick bomb in his right hand went flying towards the soldiers.
It landed not 15 feet from Larn and his new friend. The soldier dove on top of Larn to protect him from the blast.
Once more the ringing returned to Larn’s ears. He looked up, the soldier still lying on top of him coming to at the same time.
“What is our coordinates!?” yelled Larn
The sounds of battle at the loudest point yet. There was only a handful of soldiers around them now, trying desperately to fight for every second of life.
“What is our coordinates!?” He asked again shaking the soldier who was still numb from battle.
“ugh, um…sector…I think…” The soldier stumbled
“Think dammit! This is our last act!” Yelled Larn
“err…sector…sector 2 43 by 12!” He answered
Larn grabbed the speaker for the comms unit on the soldier’s back, a glance towards the front line proving his worst thoughts a reality. The greenskin bastards were nearly through, no stopping them now.
Larn lifted the speaker to his mouth, time seemed to stand still. “Broken line in sector 2 43 by 12. I repeat broken line…” He said into the speaker.
Larn looked up his gaze meeting the soldier who had helped him, the realization of what was about to happen now showing on his face. “How many hours you been planetside?” he questioned.
The soldier not knowing how to answer stumbled. “I…I landed this morning.” He finally answered staring at Larn. “You?”
“I stopped counting after fifteen hours.” He replied with a smile.
|All times are GMT. The time now is 06:35 AM.|
Powered by the Emperor of Man.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise v2.6.0 Beta 4 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.