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Wow, really nice story. Other than some past tense errors, it was a very good story.
 

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hi

Not so much bolter porn as Annihilator porn. :p

Adrian: I read your entry, and it really feels like a fragment of a larger story. The detail with which each character is described--like Boc said--coupled with the abruptness of the ending made it feel like there was more story waiting to be told. The ending didn't seem desperate enough to imply that the characters were about to be, aha, annihilated, though I suppose Boc's interpretation of the theme works. Still, it's an atmospheric and decently enjoyable piece.
Thanks guys. The reason why my spell check did not pick up apatite as a mis-spelled word is because it was not mis-spelled as in a word not spelled correctly. Apatite is the right spelling of a mineral in the earth. Hmm, who knew?

I was going for a character development of the men to create a greater picture. Though the world was not destroyed as it was in Mossey's great story it was Annihilated by plague. I will go back through and fix what I see. I'm glad you guys liked the overall of it.
 

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The Gods Know Best​

Word count 1028

Sit, sit children and let me tell you the story of our heritage for it is a rich one, filled with battles before we were awakened to the true masters, how our culture is shaped by being loyal to the mighty warriors, some of whom you young men will soon join the ranks off when the time of choosing comes once more.

No Answar, questions will be answered at the end so sit and listen. Now there was a time when we followed the words of one who was the supreme being, those who brought us into the light told us that he was to be adored above all other. For my children what other being other than a god could truly be divine?

However, there were those who did not agree with this speculation and sought to hound our masters into submission and do as they had been ordered to do by the very god they revered. For their own father was a son of this god. The master discovered that there were other gods, other beings far more worthy of praise and sacrifice then this man in gold and so, conferring with those he called brother did he bring about the great cleansing.

Those that believed what he had spoke off took the great jihad to those who did not, it was only through the death of the mighty Warmaster that these infidels achieved a small victory, but my children there is always setbacks, and in this setback our great master achieved his victory. They came to rest on our world, already set in the ways that the master had lain down and taught us that all they had been led to believe was a lie.

The master himself told us that we would be awakened to the new dawn and, so when the infidels chased our masters to this world, we freely laid down our lives for the master, so much so that, in honour and recognition of our supreme defence and sacrifice against the demons in blue armour, he took our strongest sons and daughters to serve in his army.

No Casala the daughters cannot be warriors in his legion but, they served in other ways, upon his vessels, as hand maidens to the great overlords and every ten cycles they return for more warriors and this, this is what we gladly give them. We of Scarthara will continue to fight for our master, for now the gods have truly blessed us by making our master a prince of princes.
When the Black Cardinal last set foot upon our world he told us that the master had gone. Oh how we had wept to hear such news and yet he raised his hands and told us that our master, our father and the chosen son of the gods had ascended to his rightful place.

He had become one with the gods and how we celebrated, how our hearts lifted to hear the news that our father had become that which he so richly deserved. For our ancestors came from another world, a world that had been dear to the hearts of all who serve in that mighty legion, we had followed our prophets who had told us that we must make a new home, a new place for the mighty warriors to settle should the time come.

This is why, my children, this is why we hold such an honoured place within the sons of the word, for we are the last of Colchis. We are the last remnants of a world long dead to them; yes my children weep for the news, hold each other and know that your sadness touches the mighty Lord Sal Ragorth who sits in custodianship of our world. This is why we are chosen to provide new blood for the Legion; this is why we will always be children of the word. Perhaps Lord Sal Ragorth will come when the time of choosing arrives, from his palace upon the Mountains of Mourn and join in the choosing.

Perhaps he will come to speak with you himself, but for now it is my job to tell you off our master. Prince Lorgar, and speak his name with great respect children, do not doubt that he can hear you for he hears all, as only a young god can. He will return as he has so long promised to deliver us from this madness that has engulfed the stars beyond the stars, that like us, all of humankind will rule the universe with help from the gods and the other faithful sons of the gods, they will cast down the disbelievers and, when the final battle comes they shall stand together, side by side, brothers and cousins in arms as they once had been.

Old debts will be settled, old hatreds will be renewed and ended when the sons of the gods march in all their glory upon the world that was once called Terra and now called Holy Terra by those hypocrites who once chastised our master for the one thing that they now do. Remember children that our master was punished for daring to call his father a god, and now they worship him as one; such hypocrisy is the creed that we nearly embraced.
When you sleep tonight remember that we are safe in the hands of the gods, and safe with the eyes of Lorgar, lord of all that is true and right in the world. There are none that can touch us, now, say your prayers to the gods and one to the master.


Slowley, like a great predator the strike cruiser approached the world of Scarthara, its batteries primed for attack, the gunmetal grey of the strike cruiser would have made other worlds shudder and perhaps the people here would have done had they the chance. The Grey Knights had come to enact the Emperors Justice and there would be no escape and no surrender, a world of demon loving humans was an affront to the laws of the Emperor. Annihilation was theirs to deliver and deliver it they would.
 

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The eyes of the dead

The eyes of the dead


These are the torments that have befallen me. The plagues of the mind; the horrors of sights unimagined; the horrors that have ravaged me since I was a young man have finally come into the reality of my futile life. I am alone in the world of my mind and though there are billions of people who populate this world, none can save me, for I am a fleck of dust, a deposit of excrement upon the heel of the Emperium.

Excerpt from the Chronicles of the Forgotten.

***

Tasabar Oklees walked through the war torn city streets. He was not alone. Although those who surrounded him were familiar to him, they did not know him anymore, nor did they understand the basics of humanity. They were as dead as the corpses that still burned in the city square. However as dead as they were, they still walked, shambling through the shadows of a fallen world that no longer remembered its name.

Shotgun in hand, Tasabar stalked through the streets trying not to make any noise, but failing miserably. Broken glass and spent shell casings were everywhere and it was impossible not to step on them. He knew the art to staying alive was not to shift his weight once a step was taken, for to do so was to invite death by the breaking of the fragile clear splinters. Each step was a threat to his existence, each breath taken too loudly could be his last.

Tasabar was tired, almost too tired to even think, but his survival instincts kept him from giving up. His faith in the saying, “The Emperor protects” was non-existent, for he had seen too many times that the Emperor did not protect. The doctrine of the Emperor was a lie.

Tasabar’s home world had been besieged by the plague monger and try as humanity might; the plagues that ravaged everything and everyone could not be cleansed from the tainted world. Nearly everything had been burned in an attempt to stymie the spread of the plague, but in the end all the survivors did was deprive themselves of stable shelter against what was to come.

From the burning flesh-pits the corpses not rendered to skeletons pulled, clawed and tore at the blackened earth. They stood and walked and ran and jumped upon any who were not quick enough to escape or strong enough to fight them off. There was no hiding from them. It was as if they could see through walls or smell the living no matter where they hid.

Screaming mothers were torn apart as they attempted to keep the dead from their children; blood and flesh, intestines and lungs, broken skulls and gnawed bones were all that was left of the mothers and their children.

Many of those who survived attempted suicide but for reasons unknown they could not die by their own hands. Instead their wounded bodies were torn apart and consumed as the cowards screamed and begged for the end to come.

It had taken only a few short years for the plague to do its job. The night the commit slammed into the ocean no one could have known or imagined the horrors that would befall humankind; complete annihilation of every living thing, complete breaking of sanity as loved ones tore into limbs, faces, necks, arms and legs.

Tasabar Oklees had been there at the beginning and he had seen firsthand his father crush the skull of his infected mother before shooting himself in the head. He had seen his father writhing on the ground, half of his head missing from the shotgun round; unable to die until the dead consumed his screaming agonizing flesh.

Tasabar had run from the scene as fast as he could. He could hear them behind him; chasing him, stalking him, hunting and haunting his every movement. Tears had come from his eyes and ran down his cheeks even as he gasped for breath and held his cramping sides.

That night the city burned; flames leapt into the air like daemons fleeing hell alight by the flames of damnation. The fires cast illuminated ghostly shadows through the streets, crackling and popping and screaming in abject terror for even the flames were horrified of the damned who stalked the streets.

A woman cast herself into the flames in hopes of escaping the flesh-eaters. Her hair burst into flames along with her cloths. Her face and flesh bubbles and popped; fat and piss and shit spilling into the flames, but she did not die, she could not die, she could not escape the judgment of the plague god. She screamed and fell from the flames of the burning building only to be met by the dead who smiled down upon her writhing frame with lipless mouths and decomposing flesh. Milky white eyes filled with worms and puss stared hungrily at the burning woman even as Tasabar ran by them. They did not notice his passing because they were focused on the burning screaming woman.

Tasabar exited the alley and was thrilled to see the P.D.F. standing tall against the shambling masses. They fired las-guns, heavy bolters and flamethrowers and charged through the thronging corpses with Chimera and Leman Russ battle tanks. Tasabar jumped for joy as the P.D.F. killed the dead and crushed their skulls under foot.

The wind changed direction and with it the smoke from the burning buildings rolled in like the thickest fog obscuring vision and blinding sensors; crippling the effectiveness of long-range weapons. With the smoke came the dead, thousands of them, crawling, loping shambling, walking and running through the picket lines of the P.D.F.

Screams could be heard until morning light and even then the living wept as the wounds of the corpses poisoned their bodies. Those who had not been killed in the darkness suffered from scratches and bites. The dead were unable to kill them. They could not kill themselves, but the infection would finish what others could not.

Twelve hours later Tasabar Oklees walked the streets alone, tormented; the last living witness upon a dead world. He wept when he realized the dead had surrounded him. Terror filled him anew. Why did they not attack? Why did they leave him alone? They were all around, but they stayed their distance from him. A shattered mirror lay upon the ground and he looked down into its battered frame.

Looking back at him was a fleshless face and the milky white eyes of the dead.

1,090 words.
 

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Hi

Not so much bolter porn as Annihilator porn. :p

Adrian: I read your entry, and it really feels like a fragment of a larger story. The detail with which each character is described--like Boc said--coupled with the abruptness of the ending made it feel like there was more story waiting to be told. The ending didn't seem desperate enough to imply that the characters were about to be, aha, annihilated, though I suppose Boc's interpretation of the theme works. Still, it's an atmospheric and decently enjoyable piece.
I meant for it to be a pict in the moment of the lives of three survivors of a world annihilated by plague rather then a complete story. I may bring a continuation to the story next month or sometime... who knows. :shok:

It has since been edited somewhat under the advisement of you and Boc. Thanks again.
 

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As You Command
(1,099 words, including title)

In the world of time long passed, there is a house. It is a simple, two-story dwelling, devoid of ostentatious decoration. It’s sturdy, constructed of dark timber upon a foundation of rockcrete. The windows are rectangular, tall, and tinted so that the outside world cannot peer inside, but there is little reason for privacy; the house occupies an area of twenty acres, yet most of it is unused, preserving the natural beauty of the planet. The house stands in stark contrast to the extravagant estates that neighbor it, but that is its purpose.

The house belongs to Inquisitor Titus Savannus. He is nearly a century old, hardened and resolute in his duties to the Ordo Hereticus. Yet a moment of culmination in a long-brewing relationship with a beautiful woman in his retinue – before a particularly perilous mission - led to the birth of his son, Caius. Embarrassed, Titus searched for a way to raise his newborn without abandoning his obligations.

He found the answer in Conatus, a paradise world favored by Imperial nobles from a hundred nearby star systems. Soon after its discovery, they erected their lavish retreats and opulent mansions across the planet, basking in the eternally temperate climate, pristine atmosphere, and agrestal, undulating landscapes. Some were responsible, only visiting Conatus periodically while attending to their duties, while others were so seduced by the lifestyle that they appointed subordinates to handle their responsibilities for them and remained on the world year-round.

Titus knew the dangers of excess and pleasure in a wealthy, relaxed environment. He’d seen too many planets gripped by the soft, entangling hand of Slaanesh. Constructing a home that lacked the overindulgence of its peers, he set to raising Caius and finding a way to save Conatus before it was lost.

Thus, Caius is taught from an early age to be an Inquisitor. He’s told about the Inquisitorial creed and how serving the Inquisition is serving the Emperor. He’s shown examples of alien tyranny and treachery, instilling a deep revulsion of them in his heart. He’s given no delusions about the bleakness of the galaxy beyond Conatus.

Despite Titus’ efforts, Caius is a gentle soul, and he grows to be hesitant and questioning. He’s intelligent, but he finds fault with his father’s ideology. He’s dexterous, but he desires to use his hands to build rather than to destroy. He’s receptive to his father’s education, but he’s distracted by the fact that he is friendless and alone, trapped in the sheltered residence.

Titus has no choice but to forge Caius through fire. House Savannus is an old, proud line of Inquisitors, and he’s determined not to let it die with him. When Caius turns twenty-one, he’s placed under the wing of Inquisitor Rendorath, one of Titus’s oldest and most trusted friends. The Savannus patriarch is sure that Rendorath will shape Caius into the man he needs to be.

While Caius serves as an Acolyte, Titus spends two years investigating the extent of the taint on Conatus. What he finds is troubling. Nearly eighty-five percent of the population is, in some way, touched by Slaanesh; he can see it in their subtlest actions and behaviors, despite their best efforts to deceive him. Even more troubling, he comes across foolish Inquisitors who have lingered on the paradise world too long. Most have remained pure, but there are some who harbor Chaos.

Titus is at a disadvantage. The signs of taint are too repressed to warrant anything more than an Inquisitorial investigation that will simply discover what he already knows. He forwards his findings to his superiors, but they don’t act on them; they claim they’ve been keeping a close eye on Conatus since its beginning, knowing the danger that such a world naturally poses. Titus dares not question their words, though he silently doubts them.

The Savannus patriarch spends his final days contemplating ways to save Conatus, though as he ponders, he’s drawn to the conclusion that it will soon become irredeemable. He prays that the corruption manifests physically and that the Chaos worshipers show their true colors, warranting the purest punishment available in the Imperium of Man. He is killed when the Savannus home is leveled by a screaming missile, launched from an unknown noble’s estate.

Caius does not learn of his father’s demise for seven years. He spends his time as Rendorath’s scribe, kept out of combat until the veteran Inquisitor deems his resolve strong enough. He struggles to abandon his weak nature and embrace the Inquisitorial doctrine. Rendorath searches for a way to aid Caius until an order for the purgation of Conatus is issued to him.

An idea forms in the Inquisitor’s mind.

He requisitions a strike cruiser, the Glory Resplendent, from the Silver Stallions Chapter of Space Marines, then instructs Caius to travel to Conatus with his full authority. Caius is curious, but does as he’s commanded. When the Glory Resplendent translates into realspace, the Acolyte beholds the contemptible state of the planet he once called home.

Chaos had taken full control shortly after Titus’s death. The nobles had brought their personal armies and slaughtered anyone still loyal to the Emperor, then reveled in orgasmic bonfires, promiscuity, and obscene rituals that defaced Conatus. Dark purple clouds, throbbing with flashes of lightning, pollute the once-clean atmosphere. These clouds reflect sunlight, giving the world a sickly violet pall. Caius feels a range of emotions – disbelief, repulsion, rage – and he tries to control them all.
The Glory Resplendant’s Marine captain, standing beside Caius, turns to the dumbfounded Inquisitor on his throne in the center of the bridge.

“This is what we fight, Inquisitor,” he booms through amplified vox. “Until you experience Chaos firsthand, you cannot comprehend the horrors it works.”

Caius turns to the towering captain and nods. He has never killed a man; how can he bear the guilt of millions slain by his hand? He closes his eyes and imagines the secluded home; the endless hours of study and indoctrination; the secret desires he’d harbored for freedom. Then, he reflects upon his time with Rendorath; how weak he felt as a simple scribe, how he wanted to serve the Emperor…

How he came to be disgusted with his early self.

He’d changed since he left Conatus, but his metamorphosis was not complete. Something still held it back. A physical link he could destroy.

“Cyclonic torpedoes armed and ready for launch, captain,” announces one of the bridge serfs triumphantly.

Caius opens his eyes and, with his face locked in a grim visage, nods once more.

“As you command,” says the captain. “Torpedoes away!”
 

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TOC updated, one story with no word count (and word count out of tolerance) identified and author notified, in case anyone was wondering if I paid attention :laugh:
 

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"Only War"

Expeditious Stories 12-04: Annihilation
“Only War”
Dicrel Seijin
Word Count: 1,100


Deep within the Golden Throne, mechanisms that had toiled for ten millennia failed with a sudden finality. With a mighty shudder, the thrumming baroque archeotech stilled.

Light. So long had He been in darkness, He did not realize it for what it was until He felt its influence upon Him, a near-physical pull.

Below, in the catacombs the red-robed priests of Mars faltered in their litanies and prayers; their mechadendrites pausing above ivory keys set into wood-and-brass consoles. As the import of the enduring silence registered on their augmented minds, the tech-priests renewed their chants as they cast to one another in Binary seeking solutions.

Within seconds, the Companions, three hundred Adeptus Custodes acting as the Emperor’s bodyguard, clad in their black cloaks and brazen helmets sealed off the Sanctum Imperialis. As they arrayed themselves in serried ranks around the Golden Throne, their guardian spears set, the air thickened to treacle with the susurrus of a half-remembered language promising every desire.

In the waiting silence, there was one last whispered exhale.

Before the Companions’ horrified eyes, the Emperor’s body, so long in stasis, disintegrated. The desiccated flesh settled as dust.

With a sudden release, that sense of binding disappeared. And He was free. Thoughts long ago slowed to stillness, quickened to the speed of light. Such was the time spent imprisoned, He no longer remembered his name. The Emperor of Mankind felt the world fade around Him as the Immaterium folded Him into its embrace. He was still too weak to struggle.

The Golden Throne followed the Emperor into annihilation as an explosion hurled the adamantine foundations into the Outer Palace. The ranks of the Companions scattered as the vaulted roof rained down among them. It was in this chaos that the daemons burst from the Webway. Flagstones shattered, oozed, bubbled, or burned beneath their feet, hooves, and claws as the first daemons stepped onto Terran soil. And they would be the last. Even as Companions’ blades met daemon claws, existence around them rent and tore.

Energies, which human eyes and minds could not imagine, obliterated demon and Companion. Terra shook as the Warp energies fractured the crust, forcing tectonic plates apart. Billions died in countless, immeasurable earthquakes and firestorms; these were the fortunate ones. Even as the planet ruptured, new mountains and volcanoes shouldered their way into boiling dark clouds sundered by lightning.

And in less than a nanosecond, He understood and returned the Warp’s embrace. Chaos created gods… but not by itself. Trillions of souls had paved His way, consecrated the space, and crafted an empyreal realm. All for Him. He had but to accept His apotheosis.

Throughout the Milky Way galaxy, sanctionites, psykers, witches, and other humans with any psychic ability screamed as their minds burned with the true birth of their God. For those that survived, there was little mercy as their souls were seared with a touch of the divine.

“All this time, there were far too many hands clasped in prayer…and all to me! What did I always say I was? Just a man! But you all believed… I could watch over you, listen to you. And so by your faith, through your belief, I was compelled… and tormented by my impotence. You deserved far better than guidance through Tarot cards. Now I can be the God that you deserve.”

Millions wept and were driven to suicide as the divine departed their souls and left a wrenching void naught could heal.

Where Terra and Luna once orbited, a new Eye opened. Its horizons rushed toward neighboring Venus and Mars. Fleets and battle groups that had watched the death of Terra attempted to flee and were shattered upon the new shoals of this anomaly. Asteroids from beyond Mars spiraled in to ring the still growing Eye. Onwards the Eye grew, toward Mercury and the shipyards of Jupiter. Tendrils of the Warp began to consume and corrupt the Sun, even as it reached for Saturn. It was not until five hours later when the gases of Uranus and Neptune and the pieces of Pluto colored the nebula around the Eye that a flicker of incandescence—a pinhole into another universe appeared.

The God-Emperor of Mankind stretched forth his hand and bade the hunger of the Warp be still. Though it was too late for the Sun. Wrenched apart by titanic forces, its fusion core went nova, igniting the gases of the destroyed gas giants. Celestial fires raced across the heavens, setting this new Eye burning.

Though now a master of creation as those preceding Him, He would not undo what had been wrought. Instead, turning from the burning Eye, He bestowed His Light and Way once more upon His children. And so that all could rejoice in His coming, He blessed His children and bade them see truly, removing the veil upon their eyes, minds, and souls. Each man, woman, and child came into his or her power then. And in this act, all of humanity ascended, becoming children of the Warp. He called to them then, cajoled them to cast aside their mortal coils. And as beings of pure psychic energy, all of His children passed into the Immaterium and were no more.

The passage of so many unraveled the materium as only the rivalry of the Old Ones and C’tan had done before. At the hearts of countless hive worlds, other anomalies opened, laying waste to systems with their hungry maws. In the centuries after, the Eldar would remember and curse the memory of humanity; the Tau would rail against warp anomalies severing them from the rest of the galaxy; and the Orks unchecked, would loot forgeworlds and, while searching for the enemy that destroyed humanity, clash with waking Necron tomb worlds and hive fleets.

And elsewhere, upon an infinite plane forged by His Will, the serried ranks of His children, illuminated by their smoldering souls, stood awaiting His Word.

“To exist in such times is to be one amongst untold trillions. It is to have lived in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. That is at an end. Now My children, forget the power of technology and science, for such ancient marvels cannot exist in the Empyrean. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in this grim dark future there is only war. There will be no peace amongst these stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter.” He laughed then. “Come My children, let Us war in Heaven!”

And through a wound in the horizon, the Emperor led the children of Mankind against the Ruinous Powers in their empyreal realms.
 

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Bolter Porn time :D

1,100 words, not including title.

Victory or Death

The Imperial trenches were almost overrun, but Battle-Brother Felix felt no fear or concern. He was still too busy killing greenskins.

His bolter was set to single-shot, and his last five rounds were profitably spent. Five mass-reactive shells were sent into the heads of five different Orks. One somehow survived, ready to fight on despite losing an eye and a quarter of its skull, only to be decapitated outright as Felix switched to his Brennic Psi-Sword.

But another group of Orks quickly appeared to replace the ones the Space Marine had slain. Without hesitation, Felix charged them and began hacking away at the fresh mob. They stood little chance before his fury. Hearts were pierced. Spines were severed. Arms, legs, and heads were lopped off.

Felix simply would not stop. He could not until victory was achieved. And he knew that the only way to defeat the relentless greenskins was complete and utter annihilation: Kill them all and burn the bodies until nothing was left but ash.

Even more Orks suddenly appeared behind him, intent on putting an end to his stubborn defiance. Felix ignored them and continued hacking away at his current targets, for the auspex revealed that he was no longer fighting alone. The Imperial Guard had finally found its backbone.

Led by a red-haired Commissar, two platoons of Akkadian infantry joined the fray and enveloped the fresh mob of xenos foes. Despite having only lasguns and bayonets, the Akkadians gave their all and slaughtered the remaining Orks. Felix raised his sword to salute them once the last of the enemy was dead.

"The Emperor Protects!" Felix shouted.

"And the Omnissiah watches over us!" replied the Commissar, familiar with the standard greeting of Felix's Chapter. The Astartes smiled under his helmet, briefly wondering about the Commissar's background and education, but he knew that there were more pressing matters at hand.

"More Orks will come," Felix said simply, "We must restore the defensive readiness of this sector immediately."

"My apologies, but we must withdraw," the Commissar countered firmly, "Army command has already given the order. All units must fall back to the landing zone."

Felix shook his head, "We have a full company of reinforcements enroute. A hundred Steel Wardens, with heavy armor and air support. My squad was sent here to ensure the Imperial positions were held until they arrived."

The Commissar sighed, as though preparing to argue with the Space Marine, but someone else spoke before he could begin.

"Incoming!" shouted one of the Akkadian troopers, before his head was taken off by a shoota round. Felix muttered a curse as he peered over the trench. The endless horde had found them again.

This was a much larger mob than the ones they had already destroyed. At least five hundred strong, with light vehicle support. The Akkadian troopers were already shooting, but they were outnumbered over ten to one, and their lasguns infamously lacked enough killing power to reliably kill greenskins with one shot.

For a brief moment, Felix allowed his mind to experience disquiet. The Estimates for this Quest had proven completely inaccurate. The Pontius Team was supposed to observe and inspect the Imperial lines in preparation for 2nd Company’s arrival in two months. Instead, they found themselves in the midst of a desperate fight as the Orks launched their grand offensive earlier and more fiercely than expected. Felix didn’t even know if any of his squad mates were still alive, as he was separated from them early during the fight.

Gripping his sword, he reminded himself that none of this mattered. He was a Space Marine. There was only victory, or death.

Before the Akkadians could stop him, Felix clambered over the top of the trench. Discarding his empty bolt gun, he raised his sword and shouted the war cry of his home world.

“Vae Victis!”

To his surprise, the Orks seemed dumbfounded by his foolhardy bravery. They recoiled in terror as he ran towards them with his sword drawn. Five hundred Orks were seemingly afraid of a single Astartes.

Even brave Battle-Brother Felix knew that this was impossible. Orks did not scare easily. A moment later, he understood why.

“You’re supposed to be dead,” a voice noted dryly over the vox. Smirking, Felix stopped in his tracks and jumped down the nearest crater. He made it just in time.

Flying low overhead, a Thunderhawk gunship unleashed its fury on the Orkish horde. Heavy cannon shells and dazzling beams of light struck the enemy formation, shredding dozens of greenskins to pieces. Among the dead was their warlord, whose death started a precipitous flight.

It was over in less than two minutes. Nearly half of the enemy force was destroyed before the rest managed to escape. Felix ran towards Thunderhawk as it landed, grasping the hand of the first Warden to emerge from the front ramp.

“It is good to see you sir,” Felix said warmly, “I may be hard to kill, but I was definitely stretching the Estimates before you intervened.”

Brother-Sergeant Pontius seemed relieved to find his last missing trooper, but grew concerned as he noticed the Akkadians cheering in the trenches.

“We must leave. Immediately,” said Pontius, dragging Felix up the ramp.

“Leave?” Felix asked, surprised.

“This world is lost,” Pontius said over the secure vox, “The Inquisition has initiated Protocol Omega. It begins in ten minutes.”

“Sir, we cannot leave the Akkadians!” Felix answered automatically, though at least having the sense not to broadcast his reply for all to hear, “They fought bravely and aided me. I owe them my life.”

“We cannot carry them all,” Pontius pointed out, “And we do not have time for them to draw lots.”

“But sir…” Felix started, before catching the look in his Sergeant’s eye. Pontius didn’t want to leave the Akkadians either, but it was clear that he was already grossly violating their orders by coming to rescue Felix. The Logis had undoubtedly already censured him for risking an entire squad to save one Marine.

“… Give me a moment to say farewell,” Felix decided instead. Pontius stared at him grimly, but nodded his consent.

Turning to face the Akkadians, Felix saluted sharply. The Guardsmen – their Commissar included – were caught off guard, but quickly returned the gesture.

“We must leave to reinforce another sector,” Felix told them, his voice amplified by his helmet, “But other Steel Wardens will soon relieve you. Hold this position until they arrive.”

The Commissar nodded, before saying, “I never got to ask your name.”

Felix never answered, so bitter was this "victory".

Instead, he turned to board the Thunderhawk.
 

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Hey guys great stories all around this month. This is my entry, it is the prologue to much larger story idea which I will post independantly, but the theme was such a good fit I couldn't help but submit. Having said that it is my first writen piece in well over a year so c+c is always welcome.

Shadow of the Hydra

Fate is a curious thing. To some who spend their lives running from it, fate becomes as solid and relentless as an avalanche at their back. To those who struggle and push against it, fate becomes the weight around their neck or the shackles at their feet. And to others who accept it, fate is the path underfoot and the stone upon their tomb.

But to those few who understand it, fate becomes a path ever-changing. To tread the shifting sands of fate is to control one's own destiny and the destiny of others. However it is also a most perilous path, for a missed step along the shifting road may set the unwary adrift, and spell doom for unnumbered souls.
Farseer Yr'Telara.


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Feluna dodged as another of the snarling creatures lunged at her, its bladed limbs unnaturally quick. Throughout the craftworld, the children of the Bein-Fae were fighting bravely against these savage beasts, fighting and dying. The Hormagaunt charged in again, fangs bared and talons raised high. Feluna narrowly sidestepped a horizontal slash and the overzealous tyranid was sent skidding across the blood slicked floor.

Holding her ancient spear in a two handed grip Feluna rounded on the beast and brought the weapon down in a fluid, practiced arc, severing her attacker's head neatly; adding the stain of black ichor to the wraithbone floor.

Dozens more of the creature's foul brood scrambled over the bodies of the dead, hissing and growling, cold hunger in their eyes. Reversing her grip on the singing spear Feluna braced herself, the runes on her gore-soaked armour began to glow. Eldritch energies danced across her fingertips, she channelled them into the psycho-reactive spear. With a grunt of effort she slammed the haft of the weapon into the ground, unleashing a storm of raw psychic power. The charging Hormagaunts were smashed aside like leaves in a hurricane as the psychic bolts engulfing their chitin plated bodies, leaving nothing but ash.

With the immediate area temporarily secure, the exhausted Farseer took cover behind a broken wraithbone pillar. Breathing deeply and forcing her mind to slow, she closed her eyes.

'Lileath guide my steps.'

In her mind she could feel the heat of the battle, the pain of her kin, the shadow of the hive mind. She slowed her thoughts allowing the familiar calm of her trance state to wash over her, soothing the ache of her muscles and calming her mind. As she breathed deeply the world around her slowed to a crawl, seconds became hours, then days, the sounds of battle fell away and for a few precious moments she imagined there was peace.

Reaching out with her mind across the sea of infinite possibilities, Feluna saw the whole battle. She saw the brave sacrifice Excarch Haldur would make forty two seconds from now, she saw the Trygon beast poised to strike at a weapons team, the hundreds of termagants that in less than two minutes would overrun the last barricade. Expanding further she saw the hundreds of thousands of tiny ripper creatures burrowing through the Craftworld's vast irrigation system, and the vampiric Zoanthropes that even now fed on the immortal souls of her ancestors.

Straining the boundaries of her sight she saw the Craftworld itself, a gleaming jewel upon the unending void, and the monstrous hive ships the held it in their deadly embrace. Feluna searched the threads of chance and fate, a thousand battles unfolded before her sight, yet each outcome was the same. The death of a Craftworld, its soul broken and lost under a tide of claws and teeth.

Returning her mind to the her immediate surroundings, she cast a last lingering gaze at her home and felt the deep sting of loss in her heart. Mere hours ago this place had been a haven, a paradise even. Bein-Fae was a Craftworld that adored nature, its halls once displayed the most beautiful and exotic plants and wildlife of the Maiden worlds, its great forest cities were a marvel throughout the Webway. Now it was a corpse strewn warzone, dust and spores clung to every surface and the air was full of the scent of blood and death. Where once there had been bird calls and the songs of maidens, now there was only the sound of battle and the screams of the dying, and she was powerless to stop it.

Feluna cast a vengeful eye upon the beast leading the swarm, a massive Hive Tyrant. The sands of time moved so slowly through the hourglass, the beast seemed frozen in place, it's giant leathery wings spread wide above it as it impaled a brave guardian with its talons. Just beyond the physical at the very edges of her mind she sensed the cold, dread intelligence of the hive mind, vast beyond measure, devoid of pity or mercy...and it sensed her.

Feluna's eyes shot open, blood filled and wide. She instinctively erected the strongest metal barriers she could muster, it was not nearly enough. The cacophony of battle once again assaulted her senses, her head swam in a sea of agony as her synapses overloaded and she registered the hot coppery tang of blood in her mouth. Her vision darkened and she struggled to breathe, her body felt heavy and unfamiliar, and every nerve sung with white hot pain. Gasping for air she removed her ghost helm, letting her long black hair fall free, dust filled her aching lungs, causing her to cough up more blood.

Using the ornate spear as a crutch, the weary Farseer slowly rose to her feet and prepared to face the end.

'I will meet my fate with.....' Feluna felt a sudden impact and had the faint sense of falling. The molten pain that coursed throughout her body began to ebb away, along with the last of her strength.

The broken Seer forced her head up, determined to look her killer in the eye. The last thing Feluna saw as her eyes finally closed, was the maw of the Hive Tyrant descending upon her.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the place bioluminescent glow of a low hanging Kaevyr plant, Farseer Feluna of the Bein-Fae Craftworld bolted upright in her bed. Her silk robe was drenched with sweat and it clung tightly to her rapidly moving chest. She crossed to her water basin and saw terror reflected in her own emerald green eyes. The rune tattooed on her forehead was aglow with a fierce blue light.

Understanding and resolve began to form in her mind, once again she would walk the ever shifting road, for this fate must not come to pass.


1,100 words excluding title.
 

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Annihilation

Annihilation
By
Brother Emund
1098 words​

GARBANOWSKI HAD SEEN planets die; pounded to dust my massed fleet actions or ravaged by life-eater spore and burnt in the blink of an eye.

Today he had earned the right, to witness the annihilation of a race.

His internal chronometer recorded that it had began eleven, point three hours ago (Terran adjusted).

* * *​

+ MY LORD, SCOUTS CONFIRM, IT IS THE Stel-Uit CRAFTWORLD +

Silence oozed through the bridge like quick frost, and all eyes turned to the tall figure standing beside the command chair. He was a marine, like most of them gathered on the bridge, but unlike the blue and gold livery of the Ultramarines, he wore the colours of the night.

Captain Cortez Ramirez, Komtur of the Black Guard,

+ SQUADRON Damocles REQUEST PERMISSION TO BEGIN THEIR ATTACK RUNS +

+ La Gloire, Plongeur AND The Vauban HAVE TARGET AQUISITION, THEY REQUEST… +

“…I am well aware of the situation. Order all vessels to hove to and await further instructions”

Garbanowski moved his head slightly, so he could examine his Komtur’s mood and reactions. As part of the Commanders body guard, he was in a unique position to watch history being made.
A nudge from the rear meant that Brother-Sergeant Mittoo had seen him move.

+ Eyes front Garbanowski. You should know better +

+Yes Sergeant+

“Tactical?”

“All groups await your orders Lord”

“The… enemy?”

“No reports of any movement as far as the Kravitz Nebular”

Ramirez slammed a fist into his palm and the loud crack caused a faint gasp from all of those assembled.

“By the Throne of Terra, we have them”

Garbanowski felt the confidence flow through him like a physical wave, and for a brief second the great man’s eyes looked into his soul.

“Has Admiral Worf’s diversionary attack succeeded My Lord?” quizzed one of the Ultramarine’s, wearing tactical markings of second company line officer.

“We shall see Captain Jorvan, we shall see” He turned to a small group of naval officers who were huddled around a hololith.

“Admiral O’Connell, You may begin the attack”

* * *​

Rarely does one witness such a sight.

Three Battleships, six Grand-cruisers, eight cruisers and thirty-two escort ships of every mark, opening fire in unison.
Seconds later, the first lance fire struck home, followed by lines upon lines of heavy ordnance.
Even with the flash shields lowered, the sight was blinding.

+ Falconidae to the torpedoes +

Garbanowski felt a reassuring gauntlet on his shoulder guard and was surprised to see Komtur Ramirez. The Commander’s face, usually solemn and serious, had broken open into an infectious smile.

“Ready to kill some Eldar, Garbanowski?”

“Always Komtur. For Corax and the Black Guard”

* * *​

Stel-Uit was dying. Whatever the material it was that made up its structure, was slashed and blackened by a thousand strikes. Fires and smoke billowed from a hundred wounds and debris floated in great shoals around its frame.

Garbanowski could just about see the effects of another heavy strike before the torpedo twisted slightly to one side.

+ ONE MINUTE TO IMPACT +

+ Standard spread, you know the drill +

+ THIRTY SECONDS. THE EMPEROR PROTECTS +

White flame, molten metal and intense heat blinded Garbanowski’s senses.

+ Starcannon +

+ BREACHED, EMERGENCY BRACE +

The marine in front of him was cut in two and Garbanowski instinctively jerked left to avoid a jet of super-heated plasma. His harness snapped and he was ingloriously thrown to the deck, falling heavily against the legs of his comrades.
He felt his body moving and realised that he was now at the mercy of zero gravity. The servo’s in his boots had failed and he could not gain a hold on anything nearby.
The torpedo had been neatly sliced in half, killing all or most of the crew.
He was lucky; he was still alive and could survive the void. Sooner or later he would be picked up.

Komtur Ramirez? He was on the second tube.

Garbanowski turned, and the Stel-Uit Craftworld was revealed in all its glory.
The Eldar world was a mighty vessel to be sure, larger than the mightiest Imperial ship, bigger even than a Planetary Defence Platform.

+ So Vast +

Swarming around the top of the Craftworld, where Garbanowski identified the topsail, were groups of small craft. Retreating rapidly away from the behemoth, trailing smoke and fire were the contrails of hundreds of Imperial fighters.
All around him, in patches and lines, were the detritus of a vast battle. Frozen corpses wearing the black and blue of the Imperial fleets, floated alongside slim figures in yellow and white. Box-nosed Marauders jostled for position next to the remains of sleek, arrow-like xenos machines.

Garbanowski grabbed a piece of debris and was shocked to find that it was the head and shoulders of a naval officer.

A vast shadow blotted out the Stel-Uit and he winced instinctively. The huge bladed bow of an Imperial Cruiser rolled by engulfed in flames and debris. Electrical fires and bolts of lightning arced from its ruptured sides and small explosions pumped out debris and body parts in all directions.
In seconds the wreck had passed and Garbanowski turned back towards the Craftworld.

+ Terra save us +

The Imperial Fleet had gone, pounded into a trillion fragments of metal and flesh. The majestic Grand Cruiser’s La Gloire and The Plongeur had been surrounded by hundreds of smaller attack craft, and like stricken beasts upon the plains, surrounded by hungry predators; they were bitten and nipped until they slowly turned over and died.

The Vauban lasted a little longer, but the superior sleek weaponry of the enemy, quickly wore her down too. Seconds later her magazines were struck and she went supernova.

Annihilation

Garbanowski chuckled to himself.
The Glorious Imperium of Man.

He saw death when it came for him, and smiled. A small craft, half the size of a Stormbird glided alongside and a beam of white light struck him like a las-shot. A hatch opened and he saw the figure of an Eldar warrior clad in their colourful livery. It cocked its head as if studying him. Green lenses glowed inside its coned helmet.

“Kaput Marine” came a voice through an amplifier, “You are all Kaput”

Garbanowski could have killed the figure as easy as breathing. It would be one more dead enemy, and one less xenos. His bolt pistol ached on his hip.

+ One day we’ll find you again, and when we do, we will destroy you all. Time, we have all the time in the Universe, but your days are numbered… xenos +

.
 

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A Burden to Bear
by
BlackGuard
1068 words, excluding title​


His vivid emerald eyes stared at the world below, it was called Caxis IV. He had studied the world for hours upon hours prior to his mission there and knew every detail of it with the exacting nature of a scholar. Caxis IV had been discovered during the Great Crusade by the warriors of the Raven Guard, and it was rumored that Primarch Corax even walked upon its temperate continents. It had, unfortunately, betrayed the Imperium during the Heresy of the Arch-Traitor Horus Lupercal and was put down by a contingent of the Imperial Guard supported by elements of the Salamanders. Since those days Caxis was the model world for which every other in the sector would have done well to stride to mimic. It was temperate, yet maintained a healthy degree of industry and a strong standing planetary defense force. Its governor’s was essentially a hereditary monarchy but each one was extensively and carefully groomed to assume the role whenever their appointed time came and it was said that their genetic-purity was amongst the finest in the sector.

Its people were also a prime example of the Imperial Cult and the population maintained a solid faith in the God-Emperor, kneeled when told, and asked very little in the way of questions. They were content to live their lives as the Imperium deemed fit and to die with the knowledge that by gracefully accepting their roles in the vast galaxy that they were aiding the God-Emperor in more ways than they could imagine. He had enjoyed their company during his stay on the world, albeit it was done purely in the name of business and faith. Many a noble house welcomed him with open arms, with a noticeable degree of distance kept – only fools enjoyed his presence completely. The Governor Barthal, or rather King Barthal, had been just as welcoming as his nobles giving display to a great parade in his honor and showering him with honor and prestige. His profession did not often dabble in such pleasures of the flesh but he had found it refreshing that they assisted in his work, speeding it along and allowing him to root out the necessary evils that lurked in their society.

Of course, as his master often said, the life of an Inquisitor is never an easy one and anything that seems easy is often equally deadly. Those words had saved his life on Caxis IV too many times when he delved just a little too deep. To an unwary soul his probes into the nobility and the population would have seem adequate to insure compliance with Imperial Law – he had even burned a few select individuals from all rings of society and executed a number of less-than-faithful individuals with the full assistance of the people and administration. That was their first mistake. Far too often in his line of work when he had to employ the Emperor’s Mercy upon those whom had fallen from grace it was often resisted and required him to show even more brutal tactics to get the point across. In the off chance that the governor showed no resistance, they were often cold towards him afterwards and did everything they could to usher him off-world promptly. Governor Barthal had not and in fact offered up a string of other names that his and the local Ecclesiarchy had agreed upon. Barthal now laid dead upon the steps of his own palace, a bolt-round pulping his skull.

He was not surprised that there was a reaction to his killing of the governor – he’d have been truly frightened if the planet continued along its calm demeanor after that. He was surprised by was had lurked beneath the surface – a genestealer cult. Within an hour of Barthal’s execution the entirely capital hive-city was in flames as the genestealers rose up in a bloody tide. He had attempted to organize a resistance, and met with limited success. That limited success quickly became crushing defeat and he had been required to turn the capital city into a funeral pyre by overloading its subterranean reactors and sending it up in cleansing atomic fire.

Per Imperial Protocol a request for assistance was sent out and within weeks the Imperial Guard arrived and descended upon the world. He had been there every step of the way, absolutely refusing to yield the world to the Tyranid filth. The 288th Jagite Regiment, the 290th Gholgothian Artillery Regiment, and the 59th Redolin Armored Division had followed his strong suggestions to the letter. The campaign to save Caxis IV was nothing short of legendary. The Jagites had held the line across the Bleak Plains, with the Redolin cracking every genestealer attempt to break their lines and the Gholgothians singing their war songs over the vox system as they rained fire upon the xeno. Though inch by inch, yard by yard, and mile by mile they were ground down by the billions strong Tyranid. Their last remnants had fallen back to the space port where he had launched off into space upon notice of his master’s arrival in system.

Now he stood above Caxis IV with his heart thumbing quietly in his chest as the burden of his oath to the God-Emperor tightened around his soul and mind. He had fought for this world from the very beginning and he could not attempt to descend into self-loathing, for he had done all that was in his power to cleanse it … but some cancers are simply too vicious for even the more resilient of treatments.

‘Do not burden yourself Mikel,’ said the stern voice of his master, Inquisitor Halmen, ‘The death of a world is never an easy thing to bear … the death of good men even harder.’

‘There is more I could have done master … if only I had seen clearer … if only I ha-‘

‘Though you did not and you have learned a valuable lesson, and you will not repeat this mistake again.’

Mikel nodded and kept his eyes upon the world below, where even now soldiers died awaiting a rescue that would never come, ‘Admiral Yanis … by my authority … begin Annihilation Protocol, by the Grace of the God-Emperor.’

Below them the Imperial Guard never knew why they died – only that the blackened war-torn skies above them opened and it was not drop-ships that blessed them … but the Emperor’s Mercy.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
BlackGuard please include a word count with your story. Thankya :victory:

I'll get the table of contents updated presently...
 

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Doom of Many, Doom of One​

+++ Transmission received and recorded at monitor post Alpha 68.+++
+++Source unknown. Date stamp of origination unreliable.+++
Accessing…Accessing…Accessing…
Record Found.
Opening File
+++Transmission Begins+++

They don’t just kill you. (And they are masters at killing.) Once you are dead, they kill your world too. And consume it all. Every scrap of biomass is taken into the fleet as nourishment for the void. As fuel and material to push the hive to a new world and build the army that will consume it.

How do I know this? Because it happened to me.

I was there when they came. I avoided them for days and days. The brave PDF fought a valiant yet hopeless battle. There were simply too many of them. Far too many. For every bug that fell ten more would stalk out of the sticky rain. And behind those came a wave of biting, chewing things.

Gorgers, I named them. Gorgers because they would gorge on any biomass they could find. When they were full they would deliver that biomass to the rendering pools. Everything ended up in the rendering pools. Everything.

I did. Seventeen days, six hours, twenty-three minutes after the first bug burst from its spore I was delivered to a rendering pool. I hadn’t even been consumed yet. Some beast of a species not yet in Imperial taxonomy stung me with some venom that left me limp as a bonefish. It happened so quick I barely felt the sting. The venom raced through my system shutting everything down, but not ending my life.

Terror. So much terror. Did venom freeze my body or was abject terror holding me tight?

Either way I was fully aware that a Tyranid beast carried my unresponsive corpse to a pit filled with digestive fluids. Carried me to the pit and unceremoniously tossed me in. Unfortunately the venom did not free me from pain.

And pain I felt.

Burning, searing pain. Consuming fire. I was hyperaware in that pit of fluid. I could feel my skin dissolve, my muscles slough off.

Tyranids. No other name in the Imperian can cause such abject terror and despair. Even the threat of the damned legions didn’t carry the same hopelessness. The Legions could be fought by the Astartes man to superhuman man. The traitors were no match for the might of the Imperium. Orks are a plague, but a manageable plague. The necrontyr were such a new threat and so scattered the populace really had no comprehension of they are a threat. Even the Eldar and their dark kin were warring races too finite in numbers to be a real and total threat. But the Tyranids, they were the worst of the worst.

Tyranids. ‘Nids. Bugs. Hive fleets. The Great Devourer. Whatever they were called the fear was the same. Even though most of the Imperium had never faced the Tyranid threat, or even seen the effects of a Tyranid invasion, the threat was enough to bring insanity and hysteria.

There was no warning when that horrific doom arrived. No warning at all. At least no warning for the common citizen. Now I know that the warp shadow had given a significant warning. Enough time to lift thirty regiments of Guard troops off world. Enough time for the wealthy to escape with their lives and their wealth. Enough time to rescue the Titan legion that called Danuvius home. Enough time to clear void space for hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Enough time to save all those that wanted to and doom all those they choose to leave.

I was left.

No one even had the courtesy to tell us we were doomed. Life proceeded as normal until they came. Until they rained down on Danuvius in wave after vile wave. I now know that all I knew about the Tyranids was not horrifying enough. Not even close.

It is one thing to fight and die when facing an enemy. That’s it. You are dead. The Tyranids take it to the extreme.

My organs liquefied. Then my bones turned to ooze. And still I was aware. Aware of my demise, aware of my doom, aware that I was no more.

But still aware.

Was it my will? My mind that was one in a hundred billion? Who could tell?

From that pit my essence was funneled into the void through a towering construct of chitin and bug flesh. From surface to vessel the trip only took a few hours. From a pit to a sack, or so it seemed to me.

I lost all track of time in that sack. Eventually I realized I was no longer in the sack. I was in a bug. In it. Part of it. Absorbed as nourishment.

But still aware.

I was losing what was me though. I didn’t begin to dream bug dreams like I feared in the beginning. I didn’t sympathize with the thing I was part of. My essence was strictly me. Yet I was less of me day by day.

At some point the thing I was in ended up in a pit. Another pit filled with those same vile fluids. Into the fluid, back into the sack, into another thing.

Three more times I repeated the cycle. Each time I lost a little more of the essence of me.

For a time I tried to count the cells that were still me. My mind was still strong enough to do it but when the total was less than a thousand the shock nearly wiped out what was left of me.

And then I was but one cell. Channeling all that was left of my will I sent this accounting of doom by Tyranid.

Of annihilation.


+++Transmission Ended+++
File closed.

Word Count: 956 not counting title
 

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To Face such a Beast

To Face such a Beast
1050 Words, excluding Title.

----------

It was one thing to know when a foe had been defeated. But it was another to insist that the process be seen through to its extremes. Following Mithrahc’s order, the Necron legions had been sent to the planet once known as Kathaakras, a once luxurious world that formed the hub of entertainment for the nobility of the necrontyr. Following the Immortalization process it had been rendered into neutral territory where negotiations had taken place. When the great sleep had been initiated, the world had been abandoned altogether.

Until this day. Nemreth felt the presence of several thousand Necron minds tied to his own as he ordered the descent to the planet’s surface. Behind the Fleet, the Dolmen Gate shuddered and screamed at the unwilling transgression of the unloving aliens but the intrusion could not be halted. With the Phaeron’s authority, Nemeth would scour the krork colonies that had taken up living here, and he would capture the creature that dwelt among them. The C’tan shard that posed as a warboss in order to escape the clutches of god hunters.

‘Begin landing.’ Nemreth ordered. ‘Deploy beacons at the co-ordinates to follow.’ He initialized a scan of the world beneath, locating the hub of krork activity. With a malevolent chuckle, he transmitted the co-ordinates to the several dozen ships behind him, and looked down upon the doomed world in anticipation. The Flayers would be down there in moments, that lunatic Re-Kyt among them.

‘We’ve been sighted.’ Arakyr said at his side, looking to an outer orbit where several junk heaps had begun to move in their direction. Nemreth had to look twice to make sure the hulks of random scrap were in fact space faring vessels.

‘Good.’ Nemreth nodded. ‘If they come to us, we can eliminate them that much faster. Order all craft to return fire and prepare a mass teleport to the surface.’

‘Yes My Lord.’ The Lychguard replied.

* * *​

Leaving the battle in space to the ship commanders, Nemreth joined the teleportation attack. One moment he was surrounded by Lychguard, including Arakyr, and the next he was amid a sea of green skinned savages. Their ferocity was seemingly undimmed by the hordes of Skin flayers already running rampant among them, but bravado alone was not enough to stay the Necron attack. As the freshly teleported warriors and immortals began to open fire upon the krork, metallic cries of anger and frustration could be heard from the flayers as their potential trophies were reduced to subatomic ash before they could be harvested.

‘Lord Nemreth, I believe I have a lead.’ The familiar voice of Socous sounded over the Tomb matrix, and the acting Nemesor reacted immediately.

‘Report!’ He ordered, ignoring the carnage around him as his guars fought doubly hard to keep the roaring greenskins from reaching their charge.

‘It is just as we thought.’ The Deathmark relayed his report from out of phase, where he scoured the battlefield completely unmolested by the barbarians that infested this rock. ‘It is a C’tan shard, posing as the krork warlord and manipulating them to its own will. I will attempt to identify it... and...’

‘Socous!’ Nemreth bellowed. ‘Report! Report at once!’

It was too late. ‘It has... seen me...’ A garbled though escaped the assassin’s mind. A sheer malevolent force momentarily disrupted the entire Necron assault. Across the battlefield, Necron screams of pain and fear could be heard as a force like no other attacked the Tomb Matrix directly. Nemreth fell to his knees, his bodyguard doing likewise. One of the Lychguard was cut down in the moment of weakness, a crude metal axe separating head from torso in a hail of sparks. Nemreth tried vainly to resist the onslaught but was as powerless to resist as even the lowliest Necron warrior.

Then suddenly the pain stopped. Through it all Socous had been doing everything he could to sever himself from the others, to allow himself to perish alone without being responsible for the doom of an entire Legion. Nemreth was stunned into inactivity for almost a full ten seconds as he slowly rose to his feet. Socous... He had been a loyal servant of Nemreth for millennia now. Even the creed of the Deathmarks he had cast aside in fealty to the Lord he had deemed worthy of exclusive service.

It had been so long since Nemreth had felt an emotion such as this. What was it? Sadness? Certainly not. Regret? Possibly. But one thing was undeniable, the burning desire he felt to imprison this foul creature was now strengthened a hundred fold.

‘Forward.’ He uttered simply. Without a word, his legion complied. Across the entire ork settlement, glittering Necron warriors scythed down krork brawlers without mercy. Flayers tore the flesh from those that tried to flee. Enormous Monoliths and ponderous Doomsday Arks unleashed utter destruction upon the war machines and structures of the crude city. Little by little, they grew closer to the target that lay in the city centre.

Nemreth knew who it was now. There was only one C’tan who was so well versed in the laws of the materium, able to bend every facet of the physical universe to its whim. Only one C’tan had ever been able to exert such a degree of control over the most minute functions of technology and machines. And when it had been shattered alongside its brethren, each and every shard had inherited this insidious power.

The Beast of the Void... Mag’ladroth... The Void Dragon.

Socous had looked into the mind of this creature. And he had suffered the ultimate price for such a transgression. The once feared assassin had been taken apart at more levels than could be understood by a creature born of the universe itself. But even knowing what he faced would not dissuade Nemreth from taking vengeance for his fallen comrade. Vengeance for...

...

Had there been another reason?

It didn’t matter. His warscythe cut a bloody path through the krork as the structure that housed the Dragon Shard came into view. He rested one hand on the cubic device at his waist and paused for a moment to reaffirm his grip on the situation at hand. He was facing down a Star God.

Only a shard, he reminded himself. ‘All Necron units, prepare to move in.’
 

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Clear Skies
HOES April 2012: Annihilation

Admiral Tarsias Fallik attempted to work the muscles in his neck without tangling the command connections. Even after promotion to command it all it was still a case of hurry up and wait he mused wryly. Giving up the unequal effort against fatigue he studied the holotank again. The enemy were still just grey-green spots representing probable positions and vectors. Pulling the image back he checked the fleet disposition again and confirmed again that they were deployed in a bowl facing away from Kriuper. Ready to react to the enemy, once someone could discover exactly what sort of enemy they were.

* * *​

"Admiral, long range scans place the enemy fleet at fifteen ships. We have resolved a scan-capture of the lead ship."

Tarsias summoned the image to his holotank, relieved to finally see his enemy. The ship was like an ugly arrow. Although it was angular and covered in what could be spikes it lacked the disturbing grace of Chain Wraith craft, so appeared to be something new. Maximising resolution the grey-green blur revealed a structure toward the rear that could be shaped like one of the occult totems his briefing had mentioned.

"Mr Semid. See if you can get me an image of the sides."

"The angle is acute," replied the sensor technician, "I am trying to unify our readings with the fleet to create a workable image."

"Get me what you can. Mr Derns signal the fleet to advance Pattern Epsil."

"Commencing Deployment Pattern Epsil."

Tarsias watched as Captain Aurin took the Croestus surging forward alone to communicate the offer of truce. Meanwhile elements of the fleet swung away from the orbital plane while the remainder advanced in a crescent to take advantage of the enemy's tight deployment. If all went to plan the enemy would identify themselves and depart peaceably; if not they would soon see that they could not bear on all elements simultaneously and be forced to surrender.

* * *​

"Captain Aurin reports he is in range Admiral. Initial communiqué transmitted."

Tarsias leant forward. Would they agree to terms immediately, or would there be a show of bravado? Hopefully the pre-recorded messages and basic dictionary would cover enough situations to start a dialogue.

"Sir, Captain Aurin reports he is under fire. Some sort of prow-mounted weapon... Sir sensors have detected a surge consistent with a reactor overload. We have lost the Croestus"

Tarsias racked his brains for anything he might have missed from the initial contact that could help now. He remembered the excitement when the colony on Agrendon released its report stating the Barnhof Belt had ceased to exist and the parties when the Navy deployed a group to investigate. The concern when communications became patchy followed by silence. Weeks turned to months without word. He lobbied for a rescue mission but was told the fleet was needed in-system.

Maybe if they had listened this could have been avoided. Maybe if they had listened Agrendon would still be alive.

The first sign had been anomalies in communications, then reports of unexplained astronomical events. The group deployed at Agrendon managed to get off a message confirming attack before going silent. Then a final garbled message from the planet containing images of dropships and copies of harsh sounding broadcasts.

Analysis of the transmissions had revealed them to be a very degraded but recognisably human language. Translation combined with study of the images had shown the invaders to be as degraded as their tongue. A warrior culture following a bloody god. He had expected bravado, but attacking without even trying to talk?

* * *​

For a moment the wings of the fleet paused in honour of their comrades before moving to combat speed, surrounding the oncoming ships in overlapping fields of fire.

"Confirm that fleet to Engage Mr Derns. Target their engines."

Tarsias watched the holotank gain definition as data from the vanguard fed back to his station. The enemy started to spread to face his vanguard; however, their ships seems slow even by the standards of void craft and were still covering each others flanks preventing most broadsides from coming to bear. His second wave approached on a lazier curve, overshooting the engagement before firing thrusters hard to swing back.

With Kriupan ships now on all sides, using the vicious prow batteries would require the enemy to turn their engines toward the enemy and soon more than one began to drift. However, as the fleet came to close quarters the enemy revealed an almost suicidal disregard for their own men, firing across the decks of their own ships to rake the vanguard with punishing broadsides. Even the increased manoeuvrability of Kriupan ships could not avoid it all and several ships suffered system failures.

"Mr Derns order the fleet to pull back and deploy medical ships to evacuate damaged ships. Broadcast the prepared message offering a ceasefire."

Watching the holotank Tarsias was stunned to see signals fading out.

"Admiral, they appear to be targeting the medical ships!"

Tarsias bowed his head, unable to watch the fragments of the support ships go dark.

"They were trying to save them! Why did they attack?" Ensign Semid tailed off.

Pirates would always honour a temporary ceasefire while a disabled ship was rescued, and even Chain Wraiths did not target the non-combatants. How degraded did you have to be to attack medics? Tarsias gripped the arms of his chair as he tried to wrestle the facts into even partial sense. Would a people that violent even accept that they had lost? In the end protecting the lives of his own people must come before saving the lives of aggressors.

"Mr Derns, I feel this is an appropriate moment to remind you that any bridge officer is obliged to place his commanding officer under arrest and assume command if that commanding officer displays conduct unbecoming." Tarsias watched his second turn from his station with a puzzled expression. Forestalling the inevitable question he continued, "Order the fleet to re-engage. Target priority bridge and life support."

Silence fell across the bridge before each officer stood and saluted.

* * *​

The rest of the fleet had returned to dock but the Agamemnon had remained, Tarsias forcing himself to watch until the last hulk guttered into darkness. He knew he would never fully reconcile the order with his conscience; however with the annihilation of so many ships even if this Imperium did not see Kriuper vastly outmatched them they would not have the resources to attack again.

- 1074 words
 
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