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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello heretics! I'm quite new here and was having fun browsing the site. I wanted to join the writing competition but I didn't think that I could commit to it so I think I'll just post what I've written here. I'll be updating this when I can.

Enjoy!

Cain’s Gambit
By Soopah​
Chapter 1
In the century or two that I have been rattling around the warp, I’ve seen and experienced a lot that most emperor-fearing people would have never have dreamt of. Most of which would have been dismissed as flights of fancy or a plot for the latest holo-pic the print sheets have been spreading if not for my inflated reputation.

In some cases, I have the benefit of experiencing said things in the command centers of whichever regiment I’m attached to if I can contrive a reason to stay in or in more unpleasant events, on top of a scout pattern salamander behind a bolter.

But most of the time, due to me being a hero of the empire, I find myself stuck in the middle of an emperor-fraught battlefield leading (from behind of course) troopers while spouting platitudes that the schola have drilled in me until they found it fit to inflict my presence on the nearest unit possible. To this day, it still amazes me how injecting the name of the emperor every few sentences can hearten the most demoralized troops.

That being said, I was looking forward at the chance to try the local delicacies and maybe a few hands at cards when we arrived at Luminosus Orbi. A heavily industrialized forge world that has been under imperial rule for thousands of years, its factorias has been producing lasguns and carapace armors for emperor—knows amount of time. Luminosus Orbi is peculiar compared to other forge worlds the empire has. It was originally colonized by settlers planning to make it an agrarian world. According to records, Luminosus Orbi has a very high concentration of minerals in its loamy soil making it perfect for growing Pakul. A local type of fast growing vegetable that is normally used as a concentrate for imperial ration bars. The world had nothing to boast about until a tech-priest aboard a cargo ship delivering farming equipment discovered that the planet is saturated with high concentrations of cera ore which is the compound base of ceramite. It is only due to the loamy consistency of the soil of the planet that prevented the formation of pure cera ore but nonetheless, the planet will be able to refine and manufacture it to produce low-grade ceramite commonly used in flak armors and cores for building materials used in making hab domes. The tech-priest wasted no time reporting his discovery upon returning to whichever world he came from and as sure as a cogboy uses mechandenrites, Acolytes and and Adepts started landing in droves to claim the area as a Mechanicus territory.

As you can imagine, the local planetary governor was not impressed by the machine cult and summarily informed them that by imperial law, the planet and its surrounding asteroids and moons is under the ownership of the governing body so they all can just frot themselves. He then had the audacity to order the PDF to forcibly evict what he called “an unseemingly seizure of property” of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Clearly, the governor had not been introduced to the militant arm of the cult so was surprised to hear that almost half of the forces he sent to deal will the tech-priests came back in body bags. After the breath-taking stupidity of the governor, the head of the tech-priests sent a delegate to the palace to inform his lordship that they are willing to compromise. They do not wish for more violence (I suspect that this more due to the fact that the explosions are ruining the ceramite deposits rather than any overtures of peace. The Skitarii they have brought along could have easily wiped out the local military forces with ease. There world was also already settled so they could not stake any claim on it but I digress)

At least one of the advisors of the governor must have a brain between his ears because they immediately responded by sending their own delegates and then proceeded to hammer out the details. The resulting agreement was that as long as the cogboys don’t completely destroy the environment, the lower lying areas of the world would be governed by the locals while the areas near the mountains will be run but the tech-priests. Today, the world is jointly ruled by the Governor and the Fabricator-General of the Mechanic cult

It is considered as a sort of highlight of an imperial guard trooper’s life to visit the Luminosus Orbi at least once in his or her life as the weapons and armor they use to defend the Imperium most probably have been made in this world. Unlike other forge worlds, Luminosus Orbi specializes in mass production of small arms and light armors. Though regulations strictly forbid the modifications of weapons, it is very common for a trooper to upgrade a preferred (or personal) weapon in-world among the hundreds of specialists that can give your lasgun some extra heat or consecrating your chainsword with a new, more powerful motor. A good officer will let these things slide as it helps boost the morale of the troops and gives the unfortunate person (or thing) on the receiving end of these upgrades a serious inconvenience.
The 597th Valhallan was on the way to Coronus to replenish its numbers when we received an astrophatic message calling for the nearest imperial unit to proceed to this world to reinforce the guard regiments battling an outbreak of chaos worshippers. Being that this world was being used as the imperial army’s Armory, it was essential that the world not fall in the hands of the Great Enemy or an entire quadrant of the Segmentum Obscurus will be a rallying point for chaos raiders to wreak havoc among imperial worlds not to mention, we will be proving them the material to do so. According to the data slate that I skimmed, it started typically as how most Chaos cells do. Rumor mongering among the proles and questions about how the governor is using imperial funds to throw outlandish parties among the aristocracies started making its rounds. The continued dismissal of the artistos of the rumors as nothing more that peasants being jealous fanned the flames of dissent. The Ecclesiarchy denouncing sedition and traitorous actions during prayers marks a poignant change in the health of the faithful. Next thing anybody knew, the local PDF are seizing control of strategic locations all over the world and putting the local population under its “protective” guidance.

Luckily, this being a strategic imperial word, a number of guard regiments were already in world getting resupplied when trouble started. General Lanke, who was supposed to head out to deal with a Tyranid infestation a couple of subsystems away, immediately took control of the area surrounding the imperial base and restricted access to it and the city it occupies to the dismay of joygirls and troopers alike. The local PDF was in disarray as reports of units executing local heads of the Ecclesiarchy and desecrating local shrines and cathedrals became rampant. One interesting note is that the Grand Cathedral of the Adeptus Mechanicus was left alone by the cultists but I surmise this due to the fact that there are hellgun carrying skiitari to disabuse them from approaching.

Due to the vagaries of traveling in the warp, the message we received was weeks old so by the time we returned to normal space, majority of the fighting was done leaving us and a couple more regiments arriving to mop up the scraps. This comes as a pleasant surprise. For the most part of my service with the 597th, we have been in the thick of the fighting. This will give us some opportunities to stretch our legs as well as bag a few chaos worshippers for we had been in transit for 2 months. You could appreciate my eagerness to get down in system. The most I would have to deal with will be inspections and the expected infractions of my usual troublemakers which is not at all a bad thing as this gives me a reason to ‘check’ the local bars in pretense of following up on my charges.

Our objective this time around was to reinforce Constance, the second largest city in the agricultural sector of the planet. An agri-city that produces vegetables and grains for public consumption as well as spectacular scrumball teams. The city and the area surrounding it accounts for about half of the food the planet develops so you can image how critical it is for the city to be defended. Currently, the city is secured by two under strength regiments. The 163rd Cadian and the 78th Pretorian. Both regiments recently been shaved down by Tyranids. I was personally pleased to have them, even low in numbers, as both units represent the best of the empire.
Normally, a regiment or two would be enough to secure a mid-sized city especially with its proximity to an airbase but due to the fact that this is an agri-city, the surrounding area is farming land. This has to be defended too because an army cannot fight on faith alone. The 89th Mordian Armor has the task of engaging the enemy in open ground while the 597th Valhallan will provide close in support. The two under strength regiments will concentrate in defending the city itself and to eliminate any taint should it arise among the population.

I’ve been watching our troopers prepare for disembarkation when the familiar scent of marinated socks assaulted my olfactory senses.

“Some tanna commisar?” Jurgen asked while pouring me a cup from a flask he got from one of the pouches his body is customarily festooned with.

“That would be lovely” I replied. Jurgen might the most unprepossessing person in his majesty’s service but there is nobody else I would trust to watch my back when lasfire (or anything that endangers my soul and extremities) starts flying. He has saved my emperor-cursed hide more times than I could count. As well as his breath-stopping odour, Jurgen is a blank which accounts for most of the time I survived the denizens of the warp. It doesn’t happen often but I feel that once is more than enough.

“Anymore of that?” a feminine voice behind me asked. Colonel Kasteen entered the gallery I was observing the troops from in a little frazzled state than what I customarily see her in. It is understandable as coordinating the debarkation of a thousand troops is a practice of patience. From my position, it looked like a mob of cursing, sweaty, and irritated people constantly shoving, dropping, and picking-up equipment that makes no sense. This practiced chaos has been perfected by the imperium troops to make debarkation quicker than most civilian ships could imagine.

“I’ll check the galley for more” Jurgen replied and hustled quickly out of the room to scrounge for some tanna and grox buns.

“Here. You need this more than I do. I suppose the transports are still out of commission?” I asked as I handed her the cup of tanna my aide gave me.

“Yes. Our enginseers are looking over it but frak if I could understand what the problem is” Kasteen replied.

One of the dropships that was supposed to ferry the regiment down the starport is having difficulties with one of its thrusters. The cogboys have been working on it since we have arrived in system but the machine spirits are proving to be fickle.

“Well, if the problem persists, we can get the orbital yard on vox and request for transport but I believe that would be our last resort of course” I replied blandly. It would look bad for the regiment if word gets out that we could not even take care of ourselves. Not to mention that the world we’ll be calling home for the next couple of weeks at least is a forge world predominantly populated by acolytes of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Our own cogboys won’t thank us for it. I’d rather not hack them off as they keep our equipment in good working order.

“Broklaw’s on top of it. He told me that he’ll have it working buy the time we’re in dropship range” she said while working out the kinks off her shoulder. This does a lot of credit in accentuating her figure. It would not have been a lie to say that if I was my younger self, I would have considered striking a much closer relationship with her than what would have been ideal. In any case, I already have one dangerous woman ordering me around so it would hardly make my life easier mucking about with regimental command.

While I was contemplating my ill-advised decisions in my life, Jurgen entered bringing in some tanna and grox buns.

“A message for you sir” He handed me a dataslate then proceeded to serve us some food.

“Interesting…” I muttered as I skimmed through the report. I felt a tingling sensation on my palm.

“Anything I should know about?” Kasteen asked.

“Since the captain of the Will of Arms was taking his time getting us queued for deployment, we were in vox range so I was coordinating with the local Arbites. According to the report here, a number of imperial guardsmen were locked up due to local disturbance (fighting over joygirls) but subsequently went missing after a few hours. They recommend that unruly guardsmen caught be surrendered to their regimental commissars while they investigate the matters about the disappearance.” I passed her the data slate.

“Good thing that you have already been doing that. Emperor-knows, Magot can be a handful by herself. We don’t need the local Arbites losing any of our people” she remarked while reading through the report.

“Quite” I’ve made it a policy that troublemakers be surrendered to me rather that the local law enforcement. It never hurts to appear like I was taking care of our own. On the plus side, it gives me the advantage of checking the local entertainment in the pretense of checking on our own troops. It will also prevent imperial command from sending me to where amasec and congenial company is in short supply as my reputation tends to illicit most of the time.

“It should also be noted that vanishing guardsmen is somewhat of a concern especially when dealing with Chaos forces.” I replied dryly.

“I’m not having our people turned traitor. I think a little talk with the head of the Arbites would clear some matters up. I’m not all that comfortable staying in a city where even the local law enforcement is afraid to step out in the streets. Even the priests are reporting a very low turnout on its last sermon.” She looked at me expectantly.

“I’ll try go get some answers” I replied. I tried not to look pleased with it but I think I could find sufficient reason to stay out a night at least. Constance has very nice hotels since it primarily serve the nobility so with my reputation to lean on, I could find myself comfortably settled in a well-appointed room for the night. As I was contemplating the various activities I could get away with, Broklaw’s voice cut through my reverie and in my comm bead.

“Transports are in operation. Second company is embarking” he informed.
“I better get going then. See you planet side” I said as I moved towards the door. Kasteen nodded and went back to reading the report. I usually go with the first dropship so that Jurgen could get a running start in finding me the most comfortable quarters. It also helps that it seems like I am leading from the front.

Everything worked fairly well and I was planetside an hour later though I never felt completely comfortable as I have been shot down a couple of times and have no wish to repeat the experience. Looking over my shoulder, I could see that Jurgen is once again himself. If there is one thing my unflappable aide detests, it’s atmospheric flight. Thank the emperor that he finds it beneath the image of a commissar’s aide to vomit. It’s actually very endearing. I’ve never seen him actually sick, but he tends to turn to a paler shade of grime in flight. His unadulterated body odour predictably makes being in confined space with him a limited experience at best when it works overtime.

The very first thing that I noticed when I stepped off the cargo door and on the rockcrete of the starport was the smell. It was a curious thing. Since the base was located in the agricultural sector, the air smells a bit like wet soil and crushed rock. There were traces of smoke and acid when you inhale but all in all, it was pleasant. I suppose the air scrubbers and atmospheric recyclers are working well considering that this is a forge world. The military installation that we landed on was located a few kloms west of Constance right at the edge of the planting fields. The base was busy as other regiments where making landfall too. Gazing at the other landing zone, Hydra batteries and Leman Russes were being offloaded from a dropship not unlike our own.

“Useful, those” Jurgen phlegmatically remarked.

“Yes. Indispensible in flat ground like this. I understand why the Arbites would be concerned if armor troopers start vanishing” I said. Battle tanks are perfect for fighting in open ground and looking around, the ground could not be any more open.

“I’ll get us a ride commissar. If you don’t need me for the moment?” My aide asked.

“I’ll observe the debarkation while you’re working on that” I replied. Reminded of my meeting with the head of the local Arbites, he hurried off to scrounge us transport.

The imperial starport was largely a military installation. It was formerly used as a civilian supply pick-up port for off world shipments until all the unpleasantness started. As expected, the starport was well below military requirements and took quite an undertaking to upgrade it to combat effectiveness. Meters of rockcrete shielding were installed around the landing zones, Hab structured were reinforced, and gun and battery emplacements were mapped, installed, and manned. I’m also happy to note that Vendetta pattern Valkyries will be supporting us in this operation. This should provide us ample protection from enemy tanks.
Due to the importance of the starport to the economy of the city, one landing pad was relegated for civilan use but was still under the direction of imperial command. I’ve heard that the governor practically pleaded for the base to allow civilian traffic. Said landing pad was currently occupied by a civilan cargo ship loading crates of Pakul. Heavy servitors continuously working in its single-mindedness of cargo loading while a rather large man was checking off cargo items off a list I suppose. A tech-priest was also busy repairing a broken command console for the cargo door. I’ve observed him stop the servitors once in a while to test if the door could open and close properly.

We were halfway done debarkation when I noticed something odd about the man overseeing the cargo loading. Last I checked, you do not need an amplivisor to read a data slate. It was just a coincidence that I saw it when he was unobtrusively shoving it in his pocket. It was also taking an unusual amount of time for the tech-priest to fix a broken cargo door console. My palm started to itch in its earnest when the man quite casually avoided my gaze when he saw me looking at him. I commed the tower.

“This is commissar Ciaphas Cain attached to the 597th Vallhalan. The cargo transport at the end of the starport, how long has it been there?” I asked while I kept my eye on the man.

“About two hours commissar. The ship captain reported having difficulties with his cargo door.”

“And it doesn’t strike you unusual that in two hours, a tech-priest still could not fix a cargo door console?” It was incredulous that a tech-priest worth his robes will be that incompetent.

“All his papers are properly filed commissar. He has authority to use the landing pad until his ship is space worthy again.” The drone on the other side of this conversation replied. I wanted to slap the man silly but instead I replied.

“Well, I think an inspection is in order.” I made it a note to make sure that the administratum drone I was talking too will have a few harsh words with his superiors. I looked at our debarking troops and signaled Penlan.

“Sergeant, please get your people together and follow me.” I smiled at her and turned not waiting for a reply and started walking towards the civilian landing zone. My sense of paranoia was too well developed to leave things as it is.

“You heard the commissar. Move people!” Penlan hollered. By the time I was halfway there, Penlan was beside me.


“What’s the plan commissar?” She asked.

“Just a routine inspection. That civilian cargo ship has been there for two hours at least. We just want to make sure that they’re not in need of assistance”

Of course I couldn’t care less if they need help or not but I could not readily say that they just look suspicious. As a commissar I would have every right to make the inspection without even considering my reputation but if there was nothing wrong and there was nothing remotely wrong aboard the ship or its crew, it could very well mar my reputation as a kind, well-meaning commissar.

“Right you are sir.” Penlan replied cheerily. She hustled her troops around us.

The man must have been following our progress because he met us at the top of the rockcrete ramp. I finally got a good look at him. He was large in the way where fat and muscle was competing for dominance. He wore a very white working shirt a little bit stained with grease and a sturdy pair of hide pants. He was of middle age and has the appearance of a farm worker. Sun-baked skin gave him that hardened look while his massive hands show calluses common to people used to physical labor. He approached us with a friendly smile plastered in his face which was odd given the fact that most people do not fancy a visit from a commissar, hero or no. The itching on my palm intensified.

“Hello guardsmen. Good day to you. Before anything, I would like to say that it’s a real honor to meet a real life hero commissar. Truth be told, I still can’t believe that I’m talking with you. With all the things I heard you do, I don’t rightly know what to say. The things they say… I’m just awe inspiring!” He exclaimed, not quite looking at me eye to eye.

“I’m sure that most of what you heard is exaggerated.” I said humbly. That went well among the troops with me.

“I heard you were having some difficulties with your cargo door. I hope it’s nothing serious?” I asked as he ushered us toward his loading area.

“Just a little matter really. Our tech-priest is already applying the prayer seals so we should be finished within a few moments” he replied. We were standing just beside a cargo cart surrounded by servitors moving about.

“You must do a lot of heavy equipment shipments if the number of servitors you have around is anything to go by.” I observed. There must be almost a score of them moving about.

The man laughed as he brought up the data slate he was checking previously.

“They’re quite efficient I tell you. They could complete loading procedures quickly and efficiently and without complain, unlike human crews. I spent a lot of credits on the lot but I was able to get a good deal out of them from a Servitor garage in Constance” He said looking quite proudly on his artificial workers. They do look newly made.

Maybe it was the wind blowing or just me trying to get a better view of the field that made me step back but as I did so, I accidentally elbowed Penlan who was checking out one of the crates nearby. I hit her while she was bending down causing her to fall and shove the crate she was perusing. She immediately rebounded on her feet.

“Sorry about that commissar” She quickly said her face turning quite red. Her squad was grinning at her. Her nickname ‘Jinxie’ was well-earned.
“It was my fault. I should have noticed you there” shrugging away the apology. I then turned then to our host.

“According to your manifest, you’re delivering farm equipment if I’m correct” I asked scanning the surrounding area.

“Yes. We’ll be delivering them to our partners just a few hours of flight from here. We lost quite a lot of them when the shooting started.” He said while he was directing his servitors.

“Ah excellent then. It seems like advancement in technology has made farm equipment quite formidable.’’ I said as I shifted in front of him.

He looked baffled. “I don’t understand commissar” he replied.

“I was just noting that lasgun parts are not normally something you attach to a soil rebreather” I pointed at the box Penlan accidentally opened.

The troopers around me straightened in surprise. Before I could do anything the man shouted, “Gharris! now!”

Knowing that he would probably do something that will not be healthy for me, I reflexively brought up my laspistol and shot him in the face. I must have been slower than usual because before he went to be judged by the emperor, his fingers were able to quite firmly press on a very red and disturbing button on screen. The data slate he was holding was actually running a program command for the servitors.
The servitors around us suddenly stopped for a few seconds then slowly turned around to face us.

“Get behind cover!” I shouted. Putting words into practice, I ran behind the blast shielding just in time when lasfire started chipping it. I crouched down behind the shield while I contacted base security.

“Security breach in the civilan landing zone! We’re taking fire from servitors. Send a team here now!” I said. I was surprised how calm I sounded.

“Yes commissar. Reinforcements are on its way” They responded. I spent no more time talking to them and went on the business of keeping myself alive and hale.

Most of the servitors were now armed with lasguns. They were busy firing at the troopers who wisely were behind cover but the time the shooting started. A few of the bigger ones were holding some form of melee weapon and were closing on our positions. One of them most have been unusually agile or well made as it was able close on me while I was busy shooting another trying to get a bead on me. The servitor slashed down with the chain sword it was holding but I recognized the move and was able to side step left while bringing up my own and shearing off its arm. I detached its head on the reverse stroke. The servitor finally collapse destroyed at my feet.
Thankfully, these were not combat models and were quickly dispatched by the disciplined fire of our people. There were still a lot of them out there but they move too slowly to give a veteran unit such as ours a run for our money but they can still be a handful if they start coordinating fire. Penlan and her squad fanned out using the crates moving from cover to cover trying to create a cross fire zone. A trooper lobbed a grenade at the nearest group closing on us. They promptly exploded into pieces.
I was talking pot shots from behind the shielding when a section of it suddenly exploded throwing me forward slamming on the delivery crates. Two of the troopers who were with me have been turned into unpleasant stains on the ‘crete pad. Even disoriented, I still retained some of my senses to roll into cover.

“Commissar, the melta cannon is tracking you!” Penlan screamed while she and her squad were trying to hold the servitors back from getting too close to me. Suppression fire only works if your enemy has any concept of fear or pain. A few of the close combat ones were still operational and were moving fast.

“Aim for the legs! Slow them down!” she ordered. A couple of the close combat ones went down but still too many were running.
I was still trying to regain the use of my mental faculties when I saw a section near the cargo bay door swing towards me giving me a good look at the melta cannon mounted on a platform. It was currently cycling and to my horror, it locked onto my position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for reading. I was supposed to add footnotes but I was not sure as how I would apply that here.

I'd try to rectify the typos as I see them.
 

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Cute. Yeah, footnotes are missing (1), but other than that, it was quite interesting and funny. You do slip up where the tenses are concerned, though - switching to the present tense occasionally without reason.

(1) it's only half as funny without Amberley's snark.
 
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