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145 Posts
Discussion Starter #41
Interlude - The Dwarfmoot

Oolong moved down the corridor towards the Stonehammer’s clan hall. He had a meeting to make. The long corridor was lined with the carven statues of ancestors long lost to time. Their names, deeds, kin, and profession recorded in plaques before them. Cleaned by the apprentices, each was a testimony of excellence , resilience, and resourcefulness. Attributes held in highest esteem by the Stonehammers. Oolong’s back itched at the angry stares that bore down upon him, he could feel the disgust that rained down upon him from the inanimate stone figures. He would surpass the efforts and achievements of every single individual in the hallway. He had been promised he would be hailed as the greatest savior ever.

Down through the living quarters and past ancestor’s shrines Oolong hurried. Through his personal sanctuary and, after slipping behind a column, moved through a hidden door. A tiny cubicle held a projection screen and transmission pad. Moving upon the raised dais that housed the transmission pad, the lights dimmed. In the screen stood another squat. Coal black beard and hair framed beady black eyes. A broken nose protruded at an angle from the forest of hair. Anticipation gleamed in the eyes of the man as he acknowledged Oolong’s transmission.

“Hail! And well met, Oolong.”

“Hail and well met, Tarkendon.”

“What news do you bring? Has the success you have been guided to been achieved?”

“Aye! It has. An expedition force comprised of three Brotherhoods, a few contingents from the guild forces that are made up of bikes, ‘copters, and a company of Overlorrds. Two artillery companies have been dispatched as well. A rather standard force, but formidable in its own right”

“You argued quite well then.”

“Hah! You don’t know the half of it. As I had dreamed, antagonizing the Cisternwatch gave the pathetic fool a few sympathy votes, which was enough to put him in charge of the operation! Then, as instructed, I put aside my anger, feigned as it was, to egg Y’Mordin into sending extra troops. With Stonehammer and Cisternwatch in agreement, the other clans fell in line.”

Oolong paused, frowning. He continued his report to Tarkendon.

“There was a discussion between the ancestors about the lack of counsel that they had been able to garner from the deceased. My gifts of what is to come have been well received, so whatever the Dreamer is doing, it is keeping the other ancestors in the dark. All they know is that a new ancestor will be found. They have dispatched one to gather and instruct him. All is happening as I was told.”

Oolong bowed low to the other in the screen.

“Well done. You are to be complemented. Continue to follow your dreams. It is the only way to keep the dead at bay and the ancestors uninformed. They will be unable to come to any decision other than those you present. The Dreamer can manipulate the flow of information only as long as you are compliant and keep to your role.”

Oolong nodded. “I will comply. I want us to have a home as soon as possible. We cannot survive as a convoy traveling without destination.”

“Rest assured, my friend. A place has been set aside for you and all those you bring. The strongholds here have been clamoring for news of your arrival as well. It will be a time of great celebration to have more of our cousins join us! The promise of wives has been especially well received.”

Oolong sank to his hands, grief filled his voice “Well, the Exodus caused us to lose so many men. We have more widows than fighters at this point. Widows and orphans. It is all we are now. There is no hope. None, if you cannot bring us sanctuary soon!”

Tarkendon face filled the screen, his voice gruff with emotion. “You have been elevated as an ancestor! Do not forget that! The Dreamer is there with you, do not lose faith!”

Something off screen caught Tarkendon’s attention and when he turned his gaze back to Oolong he smiled.

“Here, Oolong. A gift for your performance at the Moot. Your success and diligence has brought you another ally. Another patron, who also wishes to reward you.” Tarkendon stepped away from the screen as three young dwarven women moved up to take his place. “Take these three. They will sooth your grief, embolden your resolve, and restore your strength. Your journey will be long, and you cannot falter. Your new friends will sustain you.”

Walking forward, the three girls, instead of vanishing as they walked past Tarkendon’s transmitter, moved into the room as it the screen was not a projection, but a doorway. They stepped up to Oolong, lightly trailing their fingers along his arms and shoulders. They did not speak, and Oolong was unable to do more than gaze at the perfection of each. Their perfume muddled his mind and it was all he could do do not reach out and return their touch. Soft radiant silks rustled and swished with their movements as they moved around him, stroking his beard and hair.

Unnoticed, Tarkendon vanished from the screen after watching Oolong succumb to the ministrations of the three women who attended him. The screen went dark and the room went silent save for the heavy breathing of Oolong Stonehammer.

Tarkendon switched off the transmitter. He was pleased beyond expectation. He had expected to hear of failure, but Oolong’s report was just what he had wanted to hear. A contingent of the dwarven warmachine was being peeled away to rescue another lost unit, which would lead them right into a trap. That action would leave the Ark even more unprotected and would, in the end, be pulled into the Eye and the civilians would be absorbed into the Dwarven worlds held within. New forges would be be fired up and even more weapons would flow out to sustain the armies of Blood God.


626 Posts
Ooh, very interesting revelation, a traitor in the ranks of the Squats! Can't wait to find out what comes next, Treensnifer, keep it up! :)

145 Posts
Discussion Starter #43
Yikes! Can I say that? Or would a more Tolkien, "Nine months passed sleepliy in the Shire" be more appropriate?

The wife's business, an attempt (and stilll ongoing) to purchase a house and land, and the summer workload of a soda business in the desert sort of consumed my time. So, here's to finishing this! The next chapter is complete, it was just waiting on the Eldar Interlude, and it is ready.

My apologies on the very long break.

145 Posts
Discussion Starter #44
Interlude - The Eldar ll

Erl’myasdul stood before the oracle. The Ancestor rune floated among the others he had cast. The other warlocks around the command post spoke in whispers, not wishing to disturb his thoughts. His retinue knew him too well. After the short lived pleasure at discovering the presence of the squat Ancestor, the following casts made no sense and they knew he was still displeased.

Cool lips pressed against the nape of his neck causing him to jerk with surprise and annoyance. Spinning away with a laugh, Yeathana lightly danced across the canopied area. Erl’myasdul frowned and attempted to regain his lost composure and thoughts.

“You must relax, my love”, Yeathana smiled at him as she began to pirouette, letting her head fall back and bowed her back before flipping to return to spinning on her toes.

Erl’myasdul scowled. The abandonment of decorum bothered him even more when the oracle failed him. Looking about at those gathered, stoic faces returned his appraisal, but they could not contain the mirth in their eyes. Glowering, he turned back to the oracle. Gnawing fear prevented him from accepting his wife's invitation to dance the trouble away and clear his head. A fear he could not identify.

A note of surprise and pleasure filled his wife's greeting as two more entered the Eldar command pavilion.

“Farheon! Oh, happy hour! Come dance with me! “

At the sound of his old rival's name, Erl’myasdul turned back to his retinue. Dressed in his mime’s uniform, spinning and cradling Yeathana as they danced around the tables and warlocks, was the other man with whom he had competed against to win Yeathana’s hand. Knowing he had beaten Farheon was little comfort when the other could out-dance him without effort. If Yeathana had a love other than him, it was dancing. During the courtship, when in quiet conversation with his rival, Farheon and he would speculate if she would not find herself on a path that would take her to the Laughing God. A path that had consumed Farheon.

Erl’myasdul shifted his weight. The pull to join the two he loved most was almost too great to resist, but the knowledge that he would only mar the performance kept him with the others only watching. The two completed their dance of greeting and Yeathana fell into a deep embrace. They held the tableau for a moment before, surprise on his face, Farheon held Yeathana away to scrutinize her face. Shock tinged with annoyance colored his tone when he spoke.

“You are with child?”

The polite disinterest held among the warlocks evaporated instantly and Yeathana turned away in a pout.

‘You ruin the surprise, Farheon. Away without word and the you steal my thunder the instant you return.”

All eyes turned from Yeathana to Erl’myasdul. His thoughts ran a chaotic maze of emotions and thoughts. His blockage at the oracle vanished before the fear of Yeathana’s deception. Held speechless, everyone turned back to Farheon and Yeathana. Farheon seemed to have Erl’myasdul's loss of tongue after making his initial declaration.

With a defeated sigh, Yeathana sheepishly faced her audience.

“Yes. I left the warlock’s path before Erl’myasdul received his summons.”

A whispered word filled the pavilion seeming loud in the silence that had fallen.


Yeathana had the decency to look abashed.

Farheon passed his hand over Yeathana’s abdomen and chuckled.

“Here is the spirit heading to the Laughing God! I had so thought it was you, Flower, but the god is more patient than I. You are his herald!“

As Farheon’s comment sunk in, Erl’myasdul felt the sluice of iced fear wash away his doubt, confusion, and anger. Frozen, he could not step towards his wife nor turn away. The calculations he had been using were all wrong. It was no longer a mystery why, even with the presence of the squat psyker, the oracle’s response was mad and useless. His wife’s hedonism had brought her, feigning an abandoned path. He could count in a Lifebringer, but not a faux warlock.

Erl’myasdul forced his gaze to Farheon, and over to his companion. The other newcomer had not spoken. Masked and silent, as tradition demanded, the other mime was every inch a member of the Great Dance. Even in joy, Erl’myasdul had not ever heard of any member of the Laughing God’s troupe to doff their masks in public. Like the exarchs, the path of the Dance consumed it’s travelers. One did not return unchanged from such a journey.

Something was not as it seemed, and Erl’myasdul felt the world beneath his feet tilt as Farheon’s infectious chuckle spread about the retinue. Like trying to find a clear reflection in a smashed mirror while fighting too much wine, the room began to become unjointed, conversation garbled, and his balance near lost. His voice too loud, powered by the fear within, Erl’myasdul cut though the din that was beginning to build.

“Who are you?”

Farheon looked wounded at the accusation and the others looked surprised at Erl’myasdul. All knew and counted Farheon a companion and friend. Before leaving to join the Dance, he had been a warlock in Erl’myasdul’s retinue.

“Who are you?” Again, Erl’myasdul demanded. He leaned heavily on the table. He reached out to the oracle and knocked the runes down.

“It is I, Erl’. Your companion. Farheon.” He cast a confused look to Yeathana. “You are not sounding well, Erl’. Not at all.”

Ignoring the conciliatory tone of Farheon, Erl’myasdul took a stuttering, drunken step towards the other two.

“Who are you?” To emphasis his query, Erl’myasdul rose his hand to point at the other mime standing in Farheon’s shadow.

Farheon turned, looking at the other who accompanied him. Silently, the mime took a deep bow that sank into a deeper curtsy before slowly rising on one set of toes, with the other leg extended behind, Farheon’s mask extended to the him. Nodding, Farheon received the mask and fitted it over his face.

A soft and tortured “No”, escaped Yeathana as her friend’s face vanished beneath his mask.

Her soft comment was lost in the raspy breath of Erl’myasdul as he returned to the oracle. The clink of his runes and louder than usual mumblings had captured everyone’s attention. Reaching out to the deployment screen, he pressed two icons. Pulled a single icon and tossed it into the beam of light. Another followed the first. They orbited each other, slowly rotating. Erl’myasdul sent a third rune into the cone of light. Uncharacteristically it struck one and then ricocheted into the other. The warlocks jumped at his voice when he spoke.

“We are in danger of losing Vondel and Meadowlark! Send word to I’lmalor, he must get his scorpions to their aid.”

Erl’myasdul turned his gaze to the two mimes who stood silently. Watching him.

“I’lmalor will not arrive in time, though he is not far. I cannot detail any here. Can you buy Meadowlark and Vondel time?”

As one the two mimes bowed and left the pavilion. Erl’myasdul watched for a moment, glanced at his wife, and returned his attention to his runes. His hands shook a bit as he made an additional cast. Anfelas looked questioningly at him. Erl’myasdul could feel a surge in a fever he was fighting since Farheon’s unexpected visit. Grasping Anfelas to try and hold himself up, he fought to tell the other the results of the last cast.

Holding the farseer as his strength left him, Anfelas gently laid Erl’myasdul down on the ground and looked up at the group. Satisfaction was in his voice as he relayed what Erl’myasdul had whispered to him before falling unconscious.

“He said, “The Devourer comes.” Good news finally. We will need to place the remaining psychic resonators and the rest of the Nest will follow the call.”

“We have accomplished our goal?” Another warlock asked.

“It seems so. The resonators, combined with the additional troops the mon-keigh have devoted in response to our attack, will give the planet a large enough psychic signature to turn the Hive this way. We will be able to withdraw soon.”

Yeathana looked up from her husband lying asleep on the floor and fitted her helmet to her armor. “Let us get these last few placed. Call a caregiver and let us go. The faster we finish the better.”

Anfelas shook his head.

“No, Yeathana. You will not be joining us. You are no longer part of the retinue.” Anfelas stood and gestured to the other gathered warlocks. “I am sorry Lifegiver, but I cannot allow you to accompany us. It is to you the farseer’s care must fall.”

“Anfelas.” Anger filled Yeathana’s voice. “You cannot leave me here.”

His own anger flared at Yeathana’s. Punching icons on the deployment screen, Anfelas sent orders out to units in the area.

“Do not speak, Lifegiver! You have endangered us all with your lies and presence! You walk a new path and it does not belong here. Yes, you have the authority to use the deployment screen and when Erl’myasdul awakes you can attend him as he needs, but you are no longer a member of this engagement. The calculations the Farseer made in building our force was built on the knowledge of your path. And now we find out you’ve lied? You cannot perform your duties as you once did and we are all the more vulnerable because of it!

Anfelas took a calming breath before continuing.

“Now I have deployed a detachment of guardians to assist in defending the Farseer. Please, accept your new path, follow their directions, and do your duty!” He rubbed his face, trying to make sense of the past few moments. “I never thought I would ever see another lie about their path or like Farheon, break tradition in such a fashion. Something is not as it appears.”

His last words seemed to echo oddly to him and in casting his gaze about the room, his eyes fell upon the oracle. The runes continued to spin and collide with each other. An uncharacteristic urge to pull the runes out of the lighted cone and toss others to replace them filled him. Shaking himself, he locked his helmet down, gestured to his companions and left Yeathana standing silently alone as the rest mounted their bikes and shot away.


626 Posts
\o/ I'll have to read this from the beginning and catch up! Welcome back, Treesnifer, the forum is a little emptier than before you left. Even I had a hiatus for a little while, but I look forward to coming back to your story:smile2:.

145 Posts
Discussion Starter #46
Chapter the Third, part 1 of 5

Chapter the Third

Cloud Burst​

“Stop the bleeding. Start the breathing. Treat the wound. Check for shock”

Veghard could hear Abelard’s voice, though his eyesight was dark and he could not see. The boy was struggling, he could tell and try as he might, he could not help roll himself or be of any aid. Shock, he was in shock. Veghard felt both numb and drained of strength. His limbs did not respond to his wishes, and even as Abe struggled with him, Veghard felt lighter than the Overlord Airships he had crewed upon prior to his deployment within Sixty First Thunderers.

“Get over here and help me!” Abelard sounded panicked. Veghard hoped Novarius was elsewhere. Last thing they would need would be another dead trooper because some marine thought the trooper was too much of a coward. Novarius’s voice killed that hope, but gave new life to others when, without expectation, he sounded out in Abe’s favor.

“You will move when Abelard commands you to or I will dispense the Emperor’s Justice.”

Veghard was rolled over by Novarius. Veghard knew it by the uncompromising strength of the marine’s hand. As he was moved, Veghard realized his eyes were closed and that he was not blind. Opening them, he glanced around. Novarius had moved away and several troopers were now surrounding him, working on his leg and arm, though he could not see what they were working on. Looking beyond them, Veghard saw the smoke obscuring the bowl they occupied and felt tears well up in his eyes. Just beyond the cover of the smoke screen Veghard watched Novarius struggle with his heavy bolter. When he had been hit, Veghard realized that he must have failed to disable the anti-gravity aspects of his weapon. Some malfunction kept the anti-gravity running and now an Astartes carried the weapon, even if it was obvious he did not know how to wield the modified heavy bolter.

Looking away from the stumbling marine, Veghard’s eye fell on another squat kneeling between and behind two of the troopers who where wrestling bandages onto his arm. When their eyes meet, the new comer nodded, and Veghard realized that it was the spirit guide who had spoken to him just before the mad rush down to the assembled force Novarius and Abelard had managed to save. Veghard frowned at the other’s nod. It was bad enough to have a vision when he was healthy, to be wounded and weak would be unacceptable. The spirit gave him an encouraging smile, moved up between the two troopers, and held out a hand to help Veghard to his feet.

Pulling himself up with the aid of the spirit, Veghard looked back at where he had been lying. Unsurprised, he found himself looking exactly at what he expected to see; himself, still being worked upon by the troopers and Abe. His head lolled to the side, loose and limp. Veghard wondered how long it would be before the men realized they were working on a dead man and what they would do. After gazing at his body, Veghard took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and then let out a great shout of laughter.

“That is a new response, I must admit”, the spirit said as Veghard’s laugh fell to an amused chuckle. “Why the mirth?”

“I can’t be lead astray by you now, spirit. Look at me, I’m dead”, Veghard pointed to his body. “If I’m not yet, I soon will be.”

The spirit followed Veghard’s gesture and shrugged.

“You look alive enough to me.”

The spirit turned back to Veghard and placed a hand on his shoulder. Veghard felt a shudder run though him. Aside from the overly familiar touch, the spirit did not feel insubstantial or cold or anything other than a warm, breathing squat Veghard would expect to meet on any given day. The brotherly grip on him was disconcerting, as was the spirit’s unconcern of the wounds threatening Veghard’s body.

“You are not dying, Veghard. No more than the tiny amount you do every day you’re alive. You have a long road ahead of you and I am your guide for the first few steps on that road. I won’t be around long, and once I’m gone you’ll never see me again. You won’t be alone. Don’t worry on that account, you will have other advisors.”

The guide grinned and turned away from the men working on Veghard’s body. He motioned for Veghard to follow him and the two of them walked away from the smoke filled bowl.

"What guides?" Veghard pressed.

"Those that you will counsel."

"Not much in the way of guides if I'm the one to hand out advise."

The guide nodded in agreement but said nothing, simply moved away to the fingertop, oddly away from the ambushing eldar. With a quick glance back at his companions and a worried frown at Novarius, Veghard turned away and chased after. Coming abreast the guide, shock brought him up short.

"Your next guide," said his companion gesturing with an open hand at three squat warriors standing before them.

The three warriors bore the same markings and unit patches. Veghard shuddered at the sight of them, for each of them bore heinous wounds. Even knowing he was either dreaming or dying did not steel him for the knowledge that these men were dead, yet standing at parade rest waiting for, somehow, for him. One of the men were from his own brotherhood company, the other two were not. The second from a robot platoon, the last was a gyro-copter pilot. Beside him, the guide began to speak.

"Coming soon, a choice will have to be made. That choice will cause a chain reaction of events. Those events will have outcomes that will be the crux of yet more choices, and that will continue to repeat over and over.

"What does this have to do with me? You wan to ask? As a Living Ancestor you are able to look down the cause and effect of decisions in battle. It is for you to choose someone's action that will cascade into a victory, or if that is impossible, a tolerable defeat. That choice will be dictated by what you experience here. These men here are the result of the choices they made in the battle ahead, but only one of these three choices can be made. As what each of these chose effected the options the other's had to choose between. They can tell you what happened and the end result of their choices. Irregardless of who's choice you deem best, the one you choose will be going to their death. You can only get glimpses of the future though the memories of those who have died. They are not bound to time the way you are. Do you understand?"

Veghard grunted. He wasn't sure what he understood beyond he was likely dead, or dying, and deep in shock by now. He felt he was waiting more for these dead men to somehow turn into him and he would be trapped in some macabre nightmare of gruesome death and agonized dying. This talk of choices and predicting outcomes was beyond his ken. Humans may have psychics, witches, and warp-bound heretics, but not squats. Rock solid and more dependable than any Astartes. That described a squat, not a reality bending psyker.

"There is a catch. Each guide you call, each choice you make, drains you. Weakens you. Each subsequent call becomes more difficult that the last. This is a weakness you do not recover from. As time goes on, you will struggle more and more to gaze into choices of the future, and one day you will find that though you feel too worn out, you have the strength to call a guide, to have the future shown to you, and pick the best path forward. Yet once you have accomplished that, you will find that you do not have the strength awaken and your wisdom and counsel will be forever lost.

"Use your time wisely, Ancestor. Our peoples' fate rests upon you."

The guide smiled sadly and Veghard felt fingers of panic worm their way into his heart. He started to ask a question of the spirit, but shock stilled his voice as the spirit vanished, like a soap bubble popping, leaving no evidence of ever existing.

Frowning at the abruptness of the exit, Veghard's eyes turned to the three warriors before him. As one they bowed, then the one furthest left stepped forward. He knelt kissed his fingertips, pressed them to his forehead in benediction, and then pressed his palms together, raising them to Veghard. Feeling a fraud and foolish, Veghard completed the ritual of greeting by pressing his fingertips together and forming a peaked roof that sheltered the squat's upraised hands.

"You are recognized, Thorbjorn, son of Reginald and Matilda. Speak and know you are sheltered within the Hold of your Ancestor's."

The names had popped into Veghard's mouth as he had stood trying to figure out what he was supposed to say. Like any dream, the knowledge had been there as if he had known these three men his entire life. Thorbjorn, Grosstel, and Reese.

"Hail, and well met, Ancestor", Thorbjorn replied. "In my efforts at your behest..."

Thorbjorn's voice faded as the sound of a doomsday cannon engulfed the two of them and Veghard found himself surrounded by some fifty warriors who were formed up in a draw. Thorbjorn stood in formation, healthy and whole, though pale. The echoes of the cannon stopped the hearthguard who had been issuing orders and the entire unit watched as a Landtrain circled a low hill and pulled away. Looking over the troops and then inspecting the Landtrain, Veghard identified the Stronghold; Durnak.

Veghard knew that all arrayed before him was naught but a dream. The Stronghold icon blazoned upon the badge of the men was no more. Veghard himself had been on planet when this Stronghold had fallen. The loss of Durnak to the Tyranid was the falling domino that brought the Sixty First Thunderers into their detached duty with the One Seventy Seventh.

Thorbjorn continued in a monotone, his voice filling the air and sounds of battled fading in response.

"We were to escort the left flank train. Our hearthguard wished to bypass cover and I used my men to extended the line to at least maintain some control over that position. It looked like the situation you told me about."


145 Posts
Discussion Starter #47
Chapter the Third, part 2 of 5


With a shout, the hearthguard squad forced the warriors to move out. Turning to a flanking position on the Land Train, the warriors dropped into the travel trot. Their pace matched the slow speed of the war machine. Somewhere ahead, Veghard knew the Guild-force; military grade armored bikes matched with the signature trikes mounted with multi-meltas. They would be far ahead, marking the enemy positions for the Mega-Cannons. As the warriors guarded the flank of the Land Train, they were guarded in turn by either a Colossus, or Leviathan, depending on this battles deployment. High above, lost in the clouds, floated the Airships. They kept tabs on whatever armor the enemy had, and in the case of the Eldar, kept the Falcon tanks pinned in a manner they were rarely faced with. Flying command centers, the Airships, deceptively rugged and often seemingly impervious to incoming fire, decimated most mechanized assault forces that could skirt either the Guild-force or the Gyro-copters. Like an onion, the Squat Battleforce was layered with a crisscross of enfilading fire that only increased as the enemy penetrated deeper into its center.

Veghard recognized the terrain the Battle-force covered. It had been a section of land ignored by the Imperial General, and of course, had been the specific spot the Eldar had flanked the Imperial force, taken out the basilisks and bombards, before cutting into the soft underbelly of the Imperial Guard infantry. Their bypassing of the Leman Russ companies that held the vanguard of the army was swift and devastating. Even as the tanks had been recalled, the damage had been irrevocable. To add insult to injury, as the Leman Russ wheeled to engage the enemy to their center, they caused more damage to their own than the enemy that was now scattered into small units hunting the broken units of the Imperial Guard who, now being fired upon by their own tanks, refused to support the armor that was trying to succor them. Losing their infantry support, squadron after squadron fell to the Eldar force.

The Squat army rolled forward. Far from a swift and decisive strike, it came forward with all the inevitability of a changing tide. Distant explosions told the tale of incoming rounds from the mega-cannons, oversized seige cannon that stood some 25 metters high and a barrel an easy 20 meters long, deep, deep in the rear. Their rounds would devastate entrenched troops as easily as crops facing the farmer's thresher, rip apart the heaviest armor and, as Veghard had seen on many an occasion, drive Titans and Gargants to their knees. With the incoming rounds, Veghard knew the advanced units had engaged the Eldar. Whatever he had been brought here to see, or dream, would be swift in revealing itself.

As the warriors moved forward, a stand of trees fell between the Land Train and warrior unit, and Veghard cursed the heartguard who ignored the cover, overrode a sergeant's gesticulating insistence, and ordered the unit towards a stand of rocks littered with the bodies of eldar and guardsmen alike. It took a moment for Veghard to recognize the feature, but his muttered curses changed to shock and then fear, for the goal of the hearthguard was the same stand of rocks that Veghard discovered Abelard, and the stand of trees had held rangers and more when Veghard and pulled the young man out the rear of the rocks and followed a defile away.

Thorbjorn watched the argument between his sergeant and the hearthguard. He knew the stand needed to be mined for possible hostiles, but the hearthguard was intent in taking some exposed rocks to place the Thunderers. The heavy weapons unit that trundled in the wake of the warriors. Frowning he turned to the rest of his squad, quick hand commands and his men slowly peeled away and moved towards the trees, ostensibly to keep 'eyes on' the Land Train, all the while loosely maintaining unit cohesion with the rest of their warrior's unit.

Sterlyn was the first to fall and as swift as it was, the young squat fell signaling enemy contact. Thorbjorn's men did not even flinch as their point man fell, but instead fell into well trained roles. Eberhard and Egon, the twins, the others joked though the only attribute they shared was a first initial and their MPSM mark III missile launcher, fired a wild round into the brush. There was no faster cry for aid than an unexpected high explosive round fired from the midst of the Brotherhood, and caught in the open and vulnerable, not even an overly pompous hearthguard was going to countermand combat protocols while under fire from a hidden foe.

As the men of the warrior's unit fell into a firefight, Veghard was struck by a wave of vertigo. Beside him, Thorbjorn had dropped to a knee and directed his men, but as Veghard watched, a second Thorbjorn stood from the first who stayed knelt to direct fire and orders. It felt to Veghard that he was watching a double exposed film as Thorbjorn's double moved forward, followed by doubles of the rest of his squad, separate and oblivious of the other double who stayed behind. Those, in turn, ignored the four who moved into the stand of trees. A voice cut through din of battle, and it started Veghard as he recognized it as his own.

"Thorbjorn. Your choice will come in the form of tree and scrub. You will know it for the trees will shield the Land Train from your aid. It falls to you to decide. Your ancestors will be with you, and will be there to gather you home."

Charging forward, Thorbjorn and his men raced for the brush that held their assailants. Eberhard fell next, as was expected, and his partner Egon scooped up the launcher and began sending more rounds into Thorbjorn's destination. Explosions scattered the bushes and scrub, while the trees shook under the assault until several fell. As those trees fell, Thorbjorn was close enough to recognize his foe. Warp Spiders. Short range warriors, their range was not hampered as most would expect. The Warp Spiders had the ability to make short, swift, trips via teleportation. They could close with an enemy and never expose themselves to incoming fire, yet that did not account for the incoming rounds that took down Eberhard.

Arnulf and Thorbjorn charged forward under the covering fire of Egon. Firing blind, Egon spaced his rounds as wide as he dared, yet the magazine ran dry with only three pulls of the trigger. It would be forty-five seconds before he would be able to fit the next magazine in place alone. Keeping an eye on the forest as he broke open his pack to prepare the next reload, he did not think he had that much time. A thought that only became a belief as Thorbjorn came over his radio.

"Exarchs! Exarchs! Exarchs!"

The rest of the warrior detachment, strung out to cover the most area, wheeled on Thorbjorn's call. The only safety the warriors had was in numbers. Should the eldar Exarchs decide to close with the warriors, the Exarchs would lose maybe five to the warrior's fifty. More rounds began to pour into the trees, blind or not, it did not matter. Anything to dissuade the Exarchs from moving towards them.

Thorbjorn knew his death was at hand. To far away from the rest of his unit, he was not sure which way to go. Looking through the trees, Thorbjorn realized the engine of the Land Train had pulled beyond the trees. The ground and trees shook as the mammoth tank rolled forward. The train was a standard four car configuration, but what spurred Thorbjorn into action was the realization that the 'Train had no knowledge of the exarchs he was facing and that he now knew why the warp spiders and exarchs were hiding in the trees.

Formidable at a distance, the front of the Land Train carried a doomsday cannon. One of the largest battlefield artillery pieces in either the Imperial or Squat arsenals. Four batteries of battlecannon rode in turrets that swivelled around, seeking targets or dangers to the 'train. Each car behind the engine was a weapons platform in it's own right, but beyond the heavy ordinance the tank carried and thick armors plates, the engine carried a void generator that absorbed incoming fire. Though the energy shields could be overwhelmed with concentrated fire, most eldar forces lacked the numbers needed to easily drag the shields down before they could be regenerated by the engine. Here, against a fully formed Land Train, the eldar had little to stop it.

One thing the eldar did have to combat the Land Train, Thorbjorn knew, were the exarchs. A physical assault by infantry would bypass the void shields. As thick as the armor was on the train, the weapons of the exarchs would swiftly break apart and then destroy the cars, the crews and the engine. The exarchs before him were stationed here to destroy the Land Train, and only Thorbjorn could stop it.

"Exarch! Exarch! Exarch!" Thorbjorn was on the radio, signaling anyone. Turning and running towards the Land Train, he continued to call for aid. From behind him, his unit began to fire upon the trees in earnest.


145 Posts
Discussion Starter #48
Chapter the Third, part 3 of 5

The rearmost car, in its standard position, rode the Dragon Car. A Land Train car that was the size of a barracks. The Berzerker Car, the only troop transport car in the land train arsenal, could hold thirty men in addition to the car's crew compliment. The Dragon Car, by comparison was a flamethrower the same size as the berzerker quarters in the transport. This produced a flamer that could fire a jet of treated fire that could reach out over one hundred meters from its muzzle. Destroying any cover, any enemy, that fell beneath its sights.

As the tail of the Land Train closed in, the Dragon Car's turret effortlessly spun towards the stand of trees and brush that concealed the Warp Spiders and Exarchs. The enemy, recognizing their predicament abandoned the useless cover and began to charge the Land Train. Thorbjorn ran at the enemy, they could not be allowed to reach close quarters with the Train. At his rear, the rest of the brotherhood ran with him, deadly fire raining down on the enemy as they fired upon the flank of the Eldar.

The walls of the Dragon Car loomed over them all and the cannon spewed flaming death on the attacking force, swiveling back and forth. Low on the walls, a score of copula mounted bolters came into action and a hail of rounds filled the air like angry bees protecting the hive. Their attention divided between the uncharacteristic charge of the Brotherhood squad and the belching Dragon Car, the Eldar were swiftly cut down. Thorbjorn closing with one of the Eldar, found himself within the killing field of the Dragon Car and riddled with bolter rounds, he and his men faced the sweep of the flammer cannon. Beneath a sheet of flame and lead, the men of Thorbjorn's warrior squad fell into the arms of their ancestors, each satisfied that the enemy had been stopped and the Land Train saved.

The world melted and shifted. Again Veghard found himself standing before Thorbjorn, his hands sheltering the kneeling dwarf who's death he had just witnessed. Wordlessly, Thorbjorn stood and returned to parade rest. Veghard stepped back and started when his guide from earlier was back to standing at his side.

"Where did you go?" Veghard demanded.

"Your power can only hold one spirit at a time. As you journeyed with Thorbjorn, I could not join you. You can hold me or him, or one of these other two, but not all of us together."

"But I see all four of you."

"Yet, only I can speak to you. Should you call forth one of the others to speak, I will again fade. I am your prisoner in this endeavor. I come and go at your behest."

Veghard nodded and watched Thorbjorn as he recalled what happened to the young man before him. He remembered seeing two Thorbjorns that had moved apart. He had no recollection of what happened to the second, more vague, Thorbjorn after he followed along with the other in defense of the Land Train. Looking at the guide, he explained what he saw. The other nodded in understanding.

"That is called the Choice. The Thorbjorn who stays behind is his fate should he not follow your counsel."

"My counsel? Excuse me?

"Aye. If Thorbjorn does not charge the eldar, they will reach the Land Train. The Dragon Car will not survive, and without it's main close in support, the rest of the train will quickly fall. Thorbjorn will, on the other hand, live a little bit longer. Thorbjorn's choice will determine that fate. Only you can give him that choice. Without you, Thorbjorn will follow orders and the Land Train will be lost. Quite simple, really."

Veghard looked back nonplused.

"Actually. It isn't that simple because you haven't spoken to the other two yet, and you are only strong enough to pick one outcome at a time. You're not the Emperor, you know."

"I have to repeat that with the other two?" Disbelief filled Veghard's response.

A heaviness filled Veghard. Tiredly he sank to one knee.

"I'm not sure I can. Watching Thorbjorn was hard enough."

"These Choices are being forced, Veghard. You are coming into power, but you are working cross purpose with another Living Ancestor. On top of that, the eldar have employed a Farseer who is dancing on the possibilities and probabilities of each moment. The Choices you can illuminate close off, limit if you will, the possibilities the Farseer can manipulate, but if the Farseer gets the upper hand, you will find yourself trapped into Choices the Farseer has already put in place.

"Add in that should your counsel be reserved for any one of these three, the Choice given to that one, takes away the opportunity for the other two's Choices as those events will never happen. Do you understand now?"

"How do I tell Thorbjorn how to save the Land Train?"

"You tell him."

"I can communicate with his spirit and he'll know?"

The guide paused and appraised Veghard for a moment. Slowly he nodded.

"Yes. You can. It is not done as a rule though. Remember, I told you that this will tire you, and that you will never recover from it? That eventually you will be too weak to call the spirits to you and you will be unable to return to the living. Speak to Thorbjorn, tell him what to look for. When the Choice is upon him, he will hear you. In times of darkest need you can do such, but it will cost you more than you are willing to pay. Sometimes though, it is the only way.

"When you reconnect with the Living Ancestor who will be your tutor, you will be told all, but let it be enough that you will likely never again pass a Choice to a warrior without telling him in person. It is easier for the Chosen to face the Choice and be supported by their fellows. Don't forget, you only told Thorbjorn to watch out for the trees, but most of the brotherhood died following him."

Veghard looked hard at his guide.

"So I survive and we win this battle."

"Survival is not winning. You don't get to make the Choice yourself."

Veghard rubbed his eyes. His body ached. His heart pounded in his ears. The terror of the encounter with Thorbjorn had not left him. As a Squat warrior, fear and terror had little hold over him, but it was not as if it did not exist. Looking up he gazed at the other two soldiers before him. A robot technician and a gyro-copter pilot. Whatever horror and death they faced, it was now for him to witness it; Then send one of the three to that end.


145 Posts
Discussion Starter #49
Chapter the Third, part 4 of 5

Jyn’s Attack

Jyn’s run did not stop as she nearer the crest, nor slow to a walk to allow her to take in the lay of the knoll’s top. Her run simply kept her going, each foot falling as lightly as she could, as quickly as she dared. The sounds of fighting were upon her now and she knew hesitation would only hinder her while aiding her enemy. Salvation was waiting for her, right ahead. Forgiveness and celebration together in a glorious duet sang out to her, beckoning her with their siren’s song. Not so great that caution was thrown to the wind for failure would deny her the absolution she had been promised. Though the ancestors’ were fair, they were also adamant.

The first thing to catch Jyn’s eye was the wisps of smoke from blind grenades popped from below the line of ridges, the second was the camouflaged forms of snipers in prone position firing down slope. With their attention away from her, Jyn put her head down and began to sprint into the unsuspecting enemies ahead of her. Now caution was left behind in lieu of speed. In her hands, two pistols steady and silent. The first of those ahead of her to move would be the signal to begin to fire.

As fate would have it, the closest sniper to her was the one to take notice of her approach first. Both of her pistols barked and bucked as the lithe figure first jerked in surprise of approach, and then in response to the slugs that shattered the reactive armor worn under his chameleon cloak. A product of her own tampering, the slow velocity slug throwers that made up her first weapons of opportunity were loaded with self detonating rounds. Most effective against lightly or unarmored targets, they had inadvertently been an even better boon in the way they distracted heavier armored foes, enough of a distraction for her to close and take advantage of her size and strength. Being well short of a meter and a half and still pushing 70 kilos, she was more than even the orcs truly wanted to deal with when her dagger was making short work of their inner thighs. Too many men had looked at her and never saw past her hips or chest, even as they knew she was a squat. Crushed hands were the most common result of such ignorance, but blood and gore had their fair share of testimony to the strength of her and her kind.

The sniper’s neighbor fell, too engrossed in his shot to break his concentration. The next in line was far sharper and leapt to his feet to receive Jyn’s charge. As the first of the pistols fell silent and empty, Jyn simply hurled it at the standing elder who instinctively flinched to block the flying weapon and Jyn took advantage of the distraction to toss a frag grenade over the sniper’s head. The impact of the grenade hitting the ground detonated the explosive, pushing the sniper forward off balance and ruining his shot on the incoming squat.

As the rest of the Eldar rangers found their feet, another fell to the blast of the grenade, crying out in pain as the shrapnel scattered though the leg armor beneath his cloak. Jyn continued to sprint forward, the elder who had stood before her falling upon his back, a combat knife protruding from the gorget that failed to protect his neck. Two more grenades were tossed out by the running squat and the rangers fell to the ground, seeking to dodge the incoming explosions. Oblivious to the danger of the two grenades she threw, Jyn charged in on the prone elder. Another pistol found its way into Jyn’s hand, a more common bolt pistol with conventional ammo that spat and kicked in her hand as she began to fire into the snipers before her. In the moments it took for the elder to realize the grenades had been a ruse, another two lay still in the grass.

The final ranger slid to his feet, his rifle held at the ready. Jyn was already too close to for the eldar to hope for a good shot and prepared to use the weapon to defend himself. Her pistol shots went wide as the ranger attempted to move away and dodge when his rifle exploded in a shower of sparks. The eldar gave a soft, surprised grunt as the monofilament whip Jyn wielded in her other hand destroyed the rifle before being whirled around by a flick of her wrist to slide through the shoulder of the shocked ranger. A fountain of blood heralded the mortal wound, followed by a shower of gore as the ranger slid to the ground. A whir and snap of the monofilament whip's cap closing signaled the weapon returning to a modicum of a safe state, while Jyn slowly turned looking around the now silent battlefield.

Her hands shook with excitement as she slammed a fresh magazine clip into the bolt pistol before she stowed it to hurriedly reload the slug thrower. Her eyes shot back and forth as she scanned the hilltop, while she often and quickly spun about seeking another attacker. Her personal slug thrower, reloaded, was a comforting presence in her hand and her other hand began to slide down to check her combat belt.

At her right hip, the hilt of a straight drawn dagger, its sheath incorporated into the standard holster for her undoctored bolt pistol, which sat unrestrained and also reloaded, waiting for her favorite pistol to run dry. The melta bomb she kept for special occasions was still clipped in its place behind the holster. Her fingers grazed the first aid kit that hung in the center of her. Her last grenade rocked on its clip just before the slug thrower’s holster. The monofilament whip had already been re-stowed in its forearm sheath, both a cunning design she had stumbled across during a tour early in her military career and her hand silently counted the empty loops that had held her full magazines when the unconscious inventory stopped suddenly. Her other slug thrower had been returned to its shoulder holster and her fingers caressed the butt of the grip reassuring her that all her weapons were where and as they should be.

Without cause, Jyn dove to her side to land beside one of the dead rangers. Jyn never questioned whatever feelings she had of danger. She had seen too many fall as they questioned twinges of warning, and the times there was nothing? No squat mocked a berserker lightly. After all, they were considered insane anyway. Behind her, the angry hiss of shuriken sliced through the grass where she had stood. Her slug thrower kicked and bucked as she slid the fire select to full automatic and sprayed the area from where the shots seemed to originate. As the pistol fell silent, Jyn saw the two figures move onto the hilltop with her. Bright checkered uniforms blurred and shifted beneath a roiling holofield. Jyn had experience with the camouflaging devices and knew she was not going to walk away from this fight. Whatever these eldar were, they were not the rank and file warriors she had fought time and time again.


145 Posts
Discussion Starter #50
Chapter the Third, part 5 of 5

Jyn's Attack, part 2

With a quick yank, she pulled the last grenade free and tossed it to the eldar on her left and without waiting to see the result, bolted away. Within a blink of an eye, the grenade went off, though if it was enough to finish the eldar, Jyn did not know. Her expended slug thrower had been abandoned behind her, and the bolt pistol had replaced it. Firing at the other eldar, Jyn tried to keep her distance from her assailant. Sensing victory, the brightly clothed warrior easily moved away from the wild bolt pistol shots and closed rapidly on the backpedaling squat. In an ungainly mess, Jyn fell heavily to the ground. She had backed over one of the dead rangers that she had just killed. In a haughty pose, the eldar pointed his shuriken pistol at the falling squat, preparing to administer the coup de grace when double explosions lifted the unsuspecting eldar off his feet and left him a tattered ruin.

Jyn dropped the detonation key that had been synced to the unexploded grenades she had distracted the rangers with. Getting quickly to her feet, she found the other eldar warrior was charging down at her. Reaching to her shoulder holster, her other slug thrower leapt into her hand and with a roar, began spitting fire at the dancing eldar.

Jyn had no idea if the charging eldar was mortally wounded, shaken by the single grenade she had tossed its way, or unharmed, but the creature was still advancing. Weaving in an eerily seductive manner, Jyn absently noted the holofield distortion was enhanced by the dancing motion and none of her shots was finding her intended target. With a flick of her wrist, again the monofilament whip snapped into her hand. She thumbed the activation button and with a low hum, the tip of the whip shot out to its full meter length, about twice that of Jyn herself. There was a magnetic charge running the length of the wire with a negative polarity to the metal bead that held the end of the whip straight, taut, and deceptively inflexible.

The use of monofilament weapons was long ago put into the prohibited weapons of war list due to both the inherent danger to the wielder and the unstable nature of the weapons once they were stored. The wires had to be contained in both a material dense enough to withstand the cutting influence of the weapon which eventually would be worn through anyway and a magnetic containment field. Too often, the power sources that maintained the field would fail and the wire would unwind, usually dismembering the unfortunate user. Even assassins distained the use of monofilament weapons. The training time required was too great, and a single mistake would often cost the life of the trainee.

What the Imperium dictated was of little concern to Jyn though. She had stumbled across the monofilament research done by the guild of her birth long before she turned her feet down the road of the Berserker, and had tackled the difficult process of manufacturing a proper monofilament wire. She had stored the wire for the longest time as she tried to fashion a mining implement out of the material. For the majority of her apprenticeship she had pored over the research material of monofilament technology, even requesting archive files of Terra and Mars, a practice very heavily frowned upon in the guild. The ensuing visit by the Inquisition, as well as an inspection team of tech priests, cost Jyn her research and her researcher’s position. The Guild did not permit outsiders to roam its halls and Jyn had been very close to being declared a heretic and pursuer of forbidden technologies for bringing both the Inquisition and Tech Priests to the guild hall. She still remembered reading the declaration of guilt that had been written up for her to sign if the Guild felt either group might need to be bought off with blood and a pound of flesh.

Jyn never found out what both parties were told of her request or her research project. In her interview, she had tried to explain how she was attempting to invent an improved mining device, but had achieved nothing but failure as monofilament was almost lighter than air and any attempt to weight the end of wire defeated its use in mining. Afterword, she had cut her hair and tattooed her cheeks. She returned to the hidden notes she had kept from the guild. The weapon applications she had kept inspired her to fashion the whip she now carried, still worthless for mining, but irreplaceable for hand to hand combat. No other weapon in her arsenal saved her more than the whip.

As the eldar swept up to her, Jyn brought the whip around and disabling the electromagnetic field to let the wire bend under the momentum that had been built up from the beginning of her swing. Standing so close to her opponent, she was able to see that the arm she was targeting held some form of raised forearm weapon. The eldar, instinctively brought this armored arm up to deflect Jyn’s attack. With the ease of diving through water, her whip sliced into the weapon housing that was attached to the wrist of her attacker, the arc of the bead leading the monofilament wire through the armor, the arm and the weapon of her ignorant victim, as the bead completed its arc around the eldar’s arm Jyn activated the magnetic charge that would snap the whip taut and relive the eldar of his arm. The ensuing unexpected explosion threw the two of them apart.

The sky spun in Jyn’s vision, the clouds shifting suddenly back and forth. She knew that if she did not stand, the sky would most likely be the last thing she would see, but her legs would not respond and her lungs burned but would not breathe. The roar in her ears, dull and distant, told her that her luck was still with her. Whatever the weapon was the eldar wielded, it was the same as her own; a monofilament weapon. Should two monofilament wires cross, the energy used to construct the wires would be released in a most explosive manner. The final reason the wire weapons were rare, dangerous and considered irrationally unstable.

Above her, the eldar stood. His arm was a tattered run, the holo-field inoperable, but his armor had saved him from the worst of the explosion. As he raised his pistol a last time, his chest exploded as multiple bolter rounds tattooed his front. The rapid staccato of the heavy bolter cut though the shock of the explosion. As her vision swam, she looked up over her head to see yet another small unit of heavily armored eldar who had moved up behind her, retreat back under the combined fire of a heavy bolter and lasguns.

Jyn heaved a great sigh, as her lungs burned. The pain was so great that the world went grey for a moment. As the pain subsided, her grimace became a smile. Whatever the Ancestor had asked of her, it must be completed. Imperial troops had taken the hill she had been told to find. She had her absolution, her forgiveness. Her debt was paid. Her sin abated; And with the Ancestor’s blessing she was finally able to rest. With a shaking, bloodied hand, Jyn tried to wipe the happy tears from her face before letting her arm fall and eyes close.


626 Posts
I know now never to underestimate the squats, they're a deadly bunch:wink2:, especially Berserkers like Jyn. I'm curious though, where did you find out all of this information about Mono-filament weapons? You went into great detail about them, and I'm intrigued by eldar weaponry, so it would be cool to read up on it:smile2:.

Keep up the good work!

145 Posts
Discussion Starter #52
I'm curious though, where did you find out all of this information about Mono-filament weapons?
Long, long ago, in the early years of the Second Age...or the mid-70's, as the case may be, I read a book called Cestus Dei. A sci-fi book about a universe where the Catholic Church takes over and is the Empire. The main character is a Jesuit priest who goes around and generally kicks butt. If I'm remembering the book right he had two weapons that totally captured my imagination, the first was his walking staff that was essentially his 'MacGyver' tool. It could do everything, but what has always stayed with me was when he was shot at by a laser, the beam would bend up and strike the top of the staff which would recharge the staff. The other, of course this is a book I read as a young boy some forty years ago so my memory could be crossed, was the mono-wire whip.

Not a true mono-filiment weapon, maybe it was three or four molecules wide, as the character could swing the whip and it would wrap about denser materials, or even people, like a weighted rope around a pole. But he could then magnetize the wire, sending the ball tip straight out and away from the base, making almost like a long foil, which would slice into many pieces whatever the wire was wrapped around. Pretty fancy.

Another book I read, more recently, was 'The City Who Fought', from the series of 'The Ship Who Sang'. In it, a young child uses mono-wire, almost invisible, to booby trap a hallway from invading pirates. Too light to use as a weapon, the kid makes a sort of trip-wire in a corridor but has too much so she unwinds the rest and makes almost a web of the wire, then stands on the far side of her trap and taunts the pirates to chase her down the corridor...'nuff said.

For BoaLA I wanted Jyn to have an ace up her sleeve that would be unconventional and nigh overpowering - after all she's supposed to be so dang good that mano y mano fights with Stompers (knight-class weapons, what's the Eldar equivalent?) is blase. Of course, stat wise a squat berserker, even using the old Super Hero stat lines isn't really all that powerful, so what weapons could she have that would push her profile past that old standard? It'd have to be a dirty trick. So, keyed explosives dummy-ed to look like grenades, non-regulation handguns, and a dirty trick to outfit your super-hero.

Take the unweighted nature of mono-filiment and throw in "I'm a miner/scientist/inventor" and a dash of the Eldar Harlequin's Kiss and Voila! One kick-butt weapon. But it has to have a weakness...several weaknesses. BAD weaknesses to explain why every Tom, Dick, and Henry doesn't sport one, after all, so you might lose a foot. Big deal! Hence the long description, the Inquisition, and possible execution.

I hope that makes sense.

626 Posts
Thanks for the explanation, lots of cool information there. Maybe I'll give those books a read at some point:smile2:. Very badass weapon!
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