Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories 17-05: Oblivion
Welcome to the year's fifth
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:
OblivionEntries 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, 31 May 2017. 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!
And they shall know his name
“What was that Rakefire’s* name again?” Nikka slurred as he lifted his head up from the comfortable embrace of the beer-stained table.
His companion grunted a reply which was blunted by a mouth full of twice-cooked reconstitute.
“Carmo. Yes, that was his name,” said Nikka. “Carmo Dimas, the Rogue Trader.”
Thormo, his erstwhile comrade, put a heavy arm around his shoulders and rolled his eyes in alcohol-muddled thought.
“Never heard of him.”
Nikka suddenly stood up and his friend fell heavily forward.
“It was right here,” Nikka continued as he walked over to the large observation dome that looked out over the Lower Habs of the Fabricatio Sector.
He glanced towards the shadowed colossus that perched on the mountainside overlooking the Hive as if his curiosity would trigger instant wrath and destruction upon him. The Fortress Monastery of The Emperor’s Vengeance Space Marine Chapter stood out black and ominous against the pale disc of Pindara’s gas giant that dominated the sky, its towers and gun turrets a sign that this planet was under their protection.
After a brief reflection, he made the sign of the Aquila and gave a slight bow.
“That Rogue Trader made his pledge here, all those cycles ago.”
* * *
It had been a game of cards. They had been playing Chase the Titan when Dimas jumped to his feet and threw four Titans onto the table in front of him.
“Emperor-damned Hel-hole.” He barked. He was obviously not impressed with his winning hand and the pile of credits that would come his way.
A stimm-bulked enforcer stepped forward.
“Steady lad,” he growled menacingly. “No trouble here.”
Dimas cocked his head and smiled and then pulled out a round, golden disc and held it up in a challenge.
“Do you know what this is… lad?”
The enforcer was unimpressed.
“This is my Medallion of Marque endorsed by the High Lords of Terra themselves.” He gave an elaborate bow and a half circle for all to see.
“Rogue Trader Carmo Dimas,” he paused. “The Third, I must add. Explorator and system-renown adventurer in the service of his… beloved.”
“A sanctioned pirate.” Someone added and Dimas bowed again.
“Shocking dispersions against my good character. I prefer the ancient term buccaneer or perhaps a swashbuckler.”
He slumped back down heavily and placed his booted feet on the table and signalled to the grim seller behind the bar.
“Barkeep, your finest grog for my friends.”
Thormo looked at him through red-rimmed eyes, an unfortunate side-effect of working the lathes through the night.
“You are in a strange mood today, the cards not to your liking?”
The Rogue Trader leant forward and curled a finger and the three of them made a conspiratorial circle.
“I have a secret to tell you… friends.”
“Go on,” grinned Thormo. “I swear it won’t go no further.”
Dimas made a big show of looking around him as if the spy’s of the Inquisition were everywhere.
“I am fed up with trading in exotic stones and foetid furs or stealing forbidden technology and dealing with mindless xenos. I am going beyond the rim.”
His companions took in a deep breath.
“That’s forbidden,” said Nikka.
The Rogue Trader sat back and put his hands behind his head.
“I know, ye-of-little-balls, but I have the Marque and a good ship. Who is going to stop me?”
Thormo nodded towards the dome.
They all turned just as a black Thunderhawk glided past before turning abruptly left towards the Fortress Monastery.
“Pa! Space Marines, haste marines. Their big guns and blades have no jurisdiction over me.” He waved a dismissive hand. “Besides, they have bigger things to deal with than me. I have heard…”
His companions leant forward again.
“I have heard that they are fighting a powerful enemy to the Galactic north, an enemy that is sucking up all their available resources. Their eyes will be in that direction and not towards the darkness.”
Nikka picked up the newly-arrived drink and stared at its dark-brown colour.
“No-one has ventured into the darkness for millennia. Ships are forbidden to enter for a reason you know.”
Dimas picked up his own glass and sipped the contents suspiciously.
“What reason would that be Thormo? Pray tell me what they are saying on the Leman Russ wheel sprocket production line?”
Thormo raised an eyebrow unsure if he had been insulted or not.
“Bad things…” he continued.
“Really bad Xenos… creatures” Nikka added.
Dimas laughed a throaty laugh.
“Ha! Have you ever seen a nice Xenos? I have heard, though not experienced their company, that Orks can be very pleasant conversationalists. I also know that the arch-enemy that shall not be spoken of is misunderstood and can be quite… cuddly at times.”
He stood up again and patted down imaginary creases in his long leather trench coat. He then stooped down and picked up a wide-brimmed hat with a ridiculously elegant feather tucked into its bow ribbon. He grunted to himself and then looked up with a glint in his eye.
“Nasty Xenos or obsequious Space marines be damned, I am going beyond the rim to seek my fortune.” He placed the hat on his head and tilted it slightly to the right.
“You, my industrious friends, will meet me here in this excellent hostelry, in one standard Terran years’ time from now. I will then tell you tales of adventure and skulduggery beyond the stars. I will show you wonders beyond belief and you will say that I was right all along. You mark my words, the name of Carmo Dimas, the Third; Rogue Trader extraordinaire will be famous in this system for centuries to come.”
With that, he turned on his heal and he was gone.
* * *
Thormo finished his beer and stared forlornly at the empty glass. He turned to his companion.
“Was that his name, that Rogue Trader?”
“Not sure, I can’t really remember.” Nikka scratched his head. “I seemed to recall that someone was talking about travelling somewhere, some place that was not nice.”
“Wasn’t he a Space Marine?”
“No, I think he was a wandering travelling salesman.”
They both smiled in realisation.
“Yes, that salesman who sold…”
“Yes him,” Nikka paused in thought. “I wonder whatever happened to him.”
* * *
* Rakefire - A visitor who outstays his or her welcome.
Elegy on the Bridge of a Starship, 1100 words
“I think that’s us finished, then.” said Flag-Captain Achille Thak, rising from his command throne. That was news to nobody, of course, but he felt like it had to be said.
The bridge crew, or what was left of it, didn’t react much. They had a helmsman, but no engines. The gunnery officers had no weapons to coordinate, and even if they had, the communications systems to the gun bays were dead. The techpriests normally assigned to the bridge had left to attend to more pressing matters elsewhere, and the one that had remained was now little more than a stinking pile of charred cybernetics in the corner. He’d plugged into one of the monitoring consoles, and had immediately collapsed before catching fire.
Lieutenant Rikkel was dead too, as were the two shields officers. Their console had short circuited, and when he’d come to help them try to put out the fire, it had exploded, shredding all three. Shrapnel had injured several of the other crewmen, and a minute after they’d been taken to the medical bay, the Alesia had suffered a hull breach, venting the first eighteen decks to vacuum. Now the bridge was sealed off, and there was nothing left to do but wait.
Yes, they were finished. No engines, no weapons- shields, as far as he knew, were still up, shown by the fact that they weren’t yet dead. But they were helpless in the void, and there was nothing he could do.
He heard the rasp of leather from behind him; turning slightly, he saw Ship’s Commissar Dirrik drawing his laspistol. “Unless you’ve come up with some sort of revelation to help us repair this vessel, Commissar, I don’t think there’s any reason to do that.”
Dirrik already had the weapon lined up on the captain’s head. “If you’re just giving up, then yes, there is.” He thumbed the safety off, with an audible click. Thak found himself wondering for a second whether the Commissariat issued unnecessarily loud weapons for intimidation purposes- it seemed like something they would do
.“Not just giving up.” The captain nodded to Harren at the helm. “Would you order the reactors overloaded, Ensign?”
“Suicide, then.” spat Dirrik, holstering his weapon.
Thak shrugged. “Blast shielding up.” he ordered; with a harsh grating noise, the plating that covered the viewports to the outside slid up, revealing the battle outside- or rather, what had been a battle. Their sister ship, the Nervian, had been reduced to floating debris twenty minutes before, and enemy salvage teams were combing through the wreckage. A few fighters from Alesia had survived, but were being hunted by swarms of traitors. “We’re already being boarded, anyway. The thought of these traitors gaining anything from this vessel disgusts me.”
Harren was already busy relaying his orders- thank the Emperor that his vox-link to the reactors was still intact. Good man. It was a shame that so many bright young officers like him had to end their careers here.
Dirrik folded his arms, bowing his head contemplatively. No doubt he was trying to think of some way to salvage the situation, or at least strike a stronger blow against the heretical bastards who’d crippled Alesia. Well, he was welcome to try.
One of the gunnery men was sobbing. Kerk, a young fellow from Cypra Mundi, and the best lance operator Thak had seen- his superior, Dunn Ribbe, had a hand on his back, comforting him. They were the last few, with Harren and Dirrik and Thak, the last five on the bridge. The last of the command crew of the Alesia. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
Thak walked past the gunnery station to the emergency store cupboard, his stride measured and heavy, boots ringing on the deck. A few scatterguns, in case they were boarded, a rack of vac suits, and a crystal decanter half-full of amasec. Not bad; pouring two glasses, he brought them over to Kerk and Ribbe. “Chins up. The Emperor protects, after all.”
They took them; Kerk, valiantly trying to fight back the tears, snuffled a thank you. Ribbe simply nodded in gratitude, glancing up at his captain. Returning to the cupboard, Thak poured two more. “Commissar, would you care for a glass?” he asked, without looking back.
Dirrik didn’t say anything; the captain took that as a “yes”, and poured three. Bringing one to Harren, he held the other out to the commissar. It took a second, but then, mechanically, Dirrik took it, cradling the delicately cut glass in huge, calloused fingers.
“To Alesia, and to our fallen comrades.” Thak said, lifting his glass. The others followed suit, a few murmured words issuing into the silence of the ravaged bridge, and then brought the glasses to their lips.
Harren broke the silence with a coughing fit. “Pardon me, Captain, but what in the hell is this stuff?” he asked, after finally managing to recover. That got laughter, actual laughter, out of Kerk and Ribbe; even Dirrik smiled a bit, the first time that had ever happened.
“I got used to it back on Cypra Mundi. Cheap and strong- all that a cadet wants in a drink.”
This time, Dirrik let ought a laugh. The things people would do when they were about to die- all so surprising. The Commissar, the epitome of emotionless killing, actually laughing. A recording of that would likely be the sort of thing passed around in the barracks, amid accusations of forgery.
Kerk sniffled, dragging the back of his hand across his eyes. “It’s absolutely terrible, sir.”
Harren’s console beeped. The helmsman glanced over, and then back to the captain. “Reactor is overloading. We’ve got one minute.”
Achille chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. “Well, you had better finish those. Leaving amasec undrunk is a special kind of heresy.” Draining his own glass, he tossed it aside, hearing it shatter on the deck. “It’s been an honor, men.”
He walked over to one of the viewports, straightening his tunic and folding his hands behind his back. There was a sort of serenity in staring out into the void. The spinning wreckage, the pinpoints of light that were the enemy salvage vessels…
Dirrik came up beside him, reaching out and tapping the heavy star that hung on the captain’s chest. “What did you get that for?”
“Boarding action, when I was a lieutenant. Took a stub round meant for my captain.” Achille chuckled again, lopsided smile spreading across his face. “Truthfully, it was an accident. I slipped and fell into him.”
“Well done.” The commissar finished his drink, and sighed. “Are you ready for this?”
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