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Welcome to the year's twelfth

For those of you that are unfamiliar with HOES, here's how it works:

Each month, there will be a thread posted in the Original Works forum for that month's HOES competition. For those of you interested in entering, read the entry requirements, write a story that fits the chosen theme and post it as a reply to the competition thread by the deadline given. Each and every member of Heresy Online is more than welcome to compete, whether your entry is your first post or your thousandth. We welcome everyone to join the family of the Fan Fiction Forum.

Once the deadline has passed, a separate voting thread will be posted, where the readers and writers can post their votes for the top three stories. Points will be awarded (3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd) for each vote cast, totalled at the closure of the voting window, and a winner will be announced. The winner will have his/her story added to the Winning HOES thread and be awarded the Lexicanum's Crest award for Fiction excellence!


The idea with the theme is that it should serve as the inspiration for your stories rather than a constraint. While creative thinking is most certainly encouraged, the theme should still be relevant to your finished story. The chosen theme can be applied within the WH40K, WHF, HH, and even your own completely original works (though keep in mind, this IS a Warhammer forum) but there will be no bias as to which setting is used for your story.

As far as the theme goes, please feel free with future competitions to contact me with your ideas/proposals, especially given that my creative juices may flow a bit differently than yours. All I ask is that you PM me your ideas rather than posting them into the official competition entry/voting threads to keep posts there relevant to the current competition.

Word Count

The official word count for this competition will be 1,000 words. There will be a 10% allowance in this limit, essentially giving you a 900-1,100 word range with which to tell your tale. This is non-negotiable. This is an Expeditious Story competition, not an Epic Story nor an Infinitesimal Story competition. If you are going to go over or under the 900-1,100 word limit, you need to rework your story. It is not fair to the other entrants if one does not abide by the rules. If you cannot, feel free to PM me with what you have and I'll give suggestions or ideas as to how to broaden or shorten your story.

Each entry must have a word count posted with it. Expect a reasonably cordial PM from me (and likely some responses in the competition thread) if you fail to adhere to this rule. The word count can be annotated either at the beginning or ending of your story, and does not need to include your title.

Without further ado...

The theme for this month's competition (for the second time) is:


Entries should be posted in this thread, along with any comments that the readers may want to give (and comments on stories are certainly encouraged in both the competition and voting threads!) 40K, 30K, WHF, and original universes are all permitted (please note, this excludes topics such as Halo, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, or any other non-original and non-Warhammer settings). Keep in mind, comments are more than welcome! If you catch grammar or spelling errors, the writers are all more than free to edit their piece up until the close of the competition, and that final work will be the one considered for voting. Sharing your thoughts with the writers as they come up with their works is a great way to help us, as a FanFiction community, grow as a whole.

The deadline for entries is Midnight GMT, 31 December 2014
. Remember, getting your story submitted on 22nd will be just as considered by others as one submitted on 11th! Take as much time as you need to work on your piece! Any entries submitted past the deadline will not be considered in the competition, regardless of whether the voting thread is posted or not.

Additional Incentive
If simply being victorious over your comrades is not enough to possess you to write a story, there will be rep rewards granted to those that participate in the HOES Challenge.

Participation - 1 reputation points, everyone will receive this
3rd place - 2 reputation points
2nd place - 3 reputation points
1st place - 4 reputation points and Lexicanum's Crest

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in this thread.

Without further nonsense from me, let the writing begin!


17 Posts
Skydancers- 1097 words, exluding title


Cassander jumped and his world widened. White clouds spread out before him, all around. Gone was the rattling of the Valkyrie, the roar of its engines; now there was only the rush of air as he fell, faster and faster.

The vox-bead in his helmet crackled with lieutenant Sharn's voice: ”Skydancers, report.”

”Victyr, clear”, came the staff-sergeant.

”Barnan, clear”, said the sergeant.

”Askur, clear”, the corporal reported.

”Selwer, clear”, Cassander chimed in. As he held the most junior rank he sounded off last.

”Skydancers all clear, lieutenant”, Victyr said. ”Cloud-break in 37 seconds.”

”Initiate form-up, on my mark.”

Cassander spied downwards. Below him, about one hundred metres according to his visor display, the lieutenant was falling, arms and legs splayed out to the sides.

He blinked up his auspex display. Victyr was to his left, Askur to his right. Barnan, the demolitions expert, was above them, slightly off course as of yet. He dismissed the display again and gripped his chute harness.


Victyr and Askur were the first to move, dipping forwards and activating their grav-chutes. Cassander saw them shoot by on either side, down towards Sharn. As they reached their positions, on either side of him, they killed their chutes and spread their limbs, levelling off their descent.

Barnan whistled over the vox. ”Flying worthy of a medal”, she said. Cassander couldn't help but agree. He'd drilled more hours than he could count, and had still to fully master the finer points of grav manouvring.

Abruptly, the trio below him was swallowed up into the clouds. Moments later his vision was reduced to little more than pale strands whipping past. ”Cloud-break”, Sharn called out. ”Activate strobes.”

Cassander reached down to his chest plate and pulled a cord. ”Strobe on”, he reported as a rune lit up in his display. Below him three lights winked into existence; red, slow pulse for the lieutenant, blue and moderate for Victyr, green and fast for Askur.

Barnan fell past, strobing an angry orange. The demo specialist took her position in between, and some twenty metres above, Victyr and Askur. ”It's all you, greenhorn”, she called.

Cassander swallowed, putting his thumbs on the harness triggers. A fine spiderweb of frost had begun to form on his visor, distoring the light of his squad's strobes. He wiped his armoured thumb across, getting some of it off.

”What's the hold-up Selwer?”

”All good, lieutenant”, he said. ”Initiating manouvre.”

He dipped his head and body forwards, tucking his knees together and elbows to his chest. Then he pressed the triggers.

He felt the jolt throughout his body, the force of the twin nozzles on his backpack propelling him forwards, ever threatening to spiral him out of control. He fought the impulse to let go of the triggers and splay out again to slow himself down; instead hekept his head down, diving straight into the gale with one eye on Barnan's strobe and the other.on his targeter.

Fifty metres, forty metres, thirty metres...

Every muscle in his body tensed as he let go of the triggers and jerked his body up, kicking both feet forward in order to get them beneath him. Then he hit the triggers again, slowing his descent abruptly. Barnan was below him, splayed out like the rest. He gauged her velocity, licked his lips, and let the triggers go again. The air howled all around him, the cold beginning to seep through his armour. He flipped himself forwards once more and extended his arms and legs, assuming the final belly-down, splayed out position.

”Selwer, clear”, he panted into his mic. He'd taken position above them all, just twenty metres from Barnan. Overwatch, best suited to his rookie status.

”Look sharp, Skydancers”, Sharn said, ”we're about to hit biosphere. Auspex shows multiple potential contacts.”

The clouds were different now. The snowy white of the upper troposphere had given way to a sickly yellow. These weren't so much clouds as the fumes of their enemy. And they were dissipating, Cassander realised. He could see the lieutenant clearly now, for the first time since initial cloud-break.

”Steady and calm”, Sharn murmured. ”Call them out as you see them.”

They fell in silence. Gradually Cassander realised he could see the ground, far below, a dark mat of what looked like vegetation covering it.

No, not vegetation, but...

”Harridan at our five”, Askur snapped, ”and gargoyles. At least a hundred by my count.”

”I got gargoyles at our seven, ten and twelve”, Victyr added. ”Two harridans at our eleven . Hell, they're everywhere.”

”They're intercepting from all around us”, Barnan said.

”Stay on target”, Sharn ordered. ”We'll brush by them. Selwer, eyes on your auspex.”

”Aye, sir.”

They quickly dropped below the tyranids, though the creatures dove after them, following on their trail. Cassander's auspex filled with red blips above and below, all of them rapidly converging on their position. They were falling through the middle of a swarm.

”Firebird, this is Skydancer”, he heard Sharn say. ”We have gargoyles and harridans converging on our position, nicely lined up for you.”

A large blip on his auspex suddenly vanished. As he craned his neck to look he saw one of the harridans falling to the ground in separate pieces. Gunfire blanketed the area around it, tearing through the packed swarms as a score of Thunderbolts came roaring in.

”Stand by for course correction on my mark”, Sharn barked. ”I'm taking us in.” He flipped and dove away, levelling out thirty metres below Victyr and Askur. Cassander and the rest of the squad jerked themselves upright and pulled their limbs in, assuming a sitting position.

”Twenty degrees to our ten!” Sharn called. ”Mark!”

Grav-chutes roared, one by one, as the Skydancers corrected in a staggered fashion – Sharn first, followed by Victyr and Askur, then Barnan and lastly Cassander.

”Target is the big one to our nine”, the lieutenant said. ”Skydancers, acknowledge!”

”Victyr, acknowledged!”

”Barnan, I have visual.”

”Askur, acknowledged.”

Cassander stared. The surface, which was rapidly rushing up to meet them, was packed with tyranids of varying size. There could be no mistake on which of them the lieutenant had indicated however. It towered over the rest, even its bodyguard of what looked to be carnifexes. A bio-titan, it had to be a bio-titan.

”Selwer, acknowledged.”

”Follow me in and we'll take it down!” Sharn yelled. ”Course correction, ten degrees to our nine, on my mark! Mark!”

368 Posts
One Less Challenge (1100 words)

Since earliest memory years, I was entranced by birds of the air.
Free and eager to catch the winds of chance, floating upon breezes which we land-dwellers can only dream about.

When the fishing boats brought their catches back to shore, I would neglect my studies for the sight of their daring acrobatics stealing prey which others had obtained, skilfully evading the sailors’ grabbing hands and jabbing pikes.

Soaring majestically past my house on the beach, invisible currents carried them aloft and I wanted to be like them more than anything.

Home-made attempts met with no success and several broken bones. Punished and chided by my parents and peers, my reply was always the same:
“When I take to the skies, I shall have no need of broken bones or scolding.

Eventually, they were all glad to see the back of me –as much as I was of them- when the men in iron helms came to take me away.
The newcomers worried many, for they brought machines to the village, smoke-belching steel monsters of some arcane artifice that it was unsafe to ask questions about.
Yet nobody argued their demands of “tithe”. As a teenager, I knew not of such things. As an adult looking back, I cared not, for it proved my salvation.

One saw my terror-struck gaze and mistook it for interest. Crudely grabbed, I was hauled away into the belly of some such device. But shock gave way to intrigue as I saw through glass the machine leaving the earth. This was no monster to gobble me up into it’s cavernous maw...no, it was Man’s poor noisy attempt at impersonation!
Although frequently shushed by others, my avid questioning nevertheless continued. Clearly these captors were not men of the air, they were merely slaves to it’s direction, like I was.

Yet I could not be chained to the earth, for my spirit sought freedom amidst the bluest skies and my future lay not with these faceless ranks.
A push off a ledge here, or a sabotaged engine there; my ambition burned brighter than those around me and was soon noticed by the guiders of these strange things called “aircraft”.

Separated from the others, we began “aeronautics”, yet it was nothing more than the motions I had practiced upon the ground, mimicking every avian turn, climb and dive.

Of course, the mental lessons came with harsh physical ones, for how else was I supposed to learn?
Time and again they would ask: “What do you think of the birds upon the ground?”
The beatings ceased when I finally learnt the reply: “They are clumsy, their legs and feet are vestigial, a waste of good DNA.”

Oddly, the first implant was the easiest: a needle into my spine which made me feel the sky-steed at my fingertips, it’s every shudder and flex indistinguishable from my own.
When someone gives you the dream you have wanted your whole life, what will you give them in return? The answer is ‘anything they want’ and I gladly indulged their every whim, even when my fellow pilots blanched at the very idea. I did not see them again, but I cared not, for these joys were everything.

In homage to my idols, my toes were the first to be removed, followed swiftly by my legs.
I was glad to be free of them; they were only slowing me down, or so my teachers advised.
Who was I to argue with these Men (?) who allowed me my heart’s desire?

It was easy to transition to taking prey on the wing; first my colleagues, then opposing pilots in other squadrons. Many fell silently beneath my guns, their end-silence a fitting tribute to their unworthy lives.

In time, I have come to share these pleasures with a co-pilot. I know he is always present, but I have never seen him, for neither of us leaves the aircraft.
Why would we wish to? All of our needs are provided for by the machine and my arms were replaced by advanced cabling last year. For want of better phrases, I term him the Other.

Targeting overlays sweep down across my eyes as easily as breathing: missiles 1 and 2 locked and away.
As always, the Other suggests close quarters combat, yet I ignore his calls ringing in my ears...or they would if I had any left...those organs has been ripped out over a decade ago in favour of direct feeds from outside. Although there is no sound in space, the Other likes to hear the claws-upon-chalkboard screeching of lasers and bullets across my skin. I endure such things because it calms him, thus allowing me to live out my dreams.

A drop in pressure, a momentary lapse of reasoning has sent me diving into enemy guns.
By degrees they strip my flesh, holing my wings and shearing off an engine. There is no turning back: the dream dies tonight. The Other howls in mania at my loss of control, never seeing that it caused our demise.

Held in the sodium-yellow glare of a tractor beam, life-systems failing, the child I once was resurfaces and wonders if they too will allow me to float amongst the stars I have called home for the last 25 years?
Blackness envelopes me, and I am left alone with my thoughts...thoughts...though...

Removing the captured memory crystals from a reader, Captain Hermass railed furiously against his chief Tech-Priest.
“This devil had killed a hundred pilots in three centuries and brought down five of my squadron today. I ordered this...’Shard’...captured intact and THIS is all that could be salvaged?!”

The cloaked addressee, a man of more wires than bones, gestured to the fighter’s open canopy.
The pilot is no more than a pathetic mewling meat-stump that once called itself human.

One cogitator crackled into life: “It asks for you, milord” and the Tech-Priest hurried others out of his way to hear the last breaths of a once-man.
“They....told me I could soar...and I have. There are none like me. Didn’t I do well?”
The Tech-Priest gave only the slightest blink of a camera-eye in acknowledgement. Bending forwards, his robe opened to reveal the hidden bone necklace carved in a serpent’s form.
Had the pilot still been able to see, he would have instantly recognised the pendant from similar designs worn by his own twisted masters.
“You shall fly again one day, for you shall be ‘Other’... but none may challenge Tzeentch for His mastery of the skies.”
The laspistol burns brightly and the pilot’s dream -in this body at least- is at an end.

17 Posts
Comments on One Less Challenge:

Well written with an excellent, creepy atmosphere. Life is cheap in your story, which is just the way it should be with 40k.

I don't fully get all that's going on, however. A man is intrigued by the idea of flight, is taken in by servants of Tzeentch and taught how to operate aircraft, while similarly disposing of any opposition from his own comrades ("A push off a ledge here..." and "first my colleagues, then opposing pilots in other squadrons"). Gradually his body is replaced with implants until he becomes one with the aircraft, and then he's finally shot down, captured (by Imperials?) and killed (by a Techpriest who's secretly loyal to Tzeentch? But why?). Yeah, as I said, I don't fully get it, so the story would've benefited from some additional explanations.


368 Posts
Hi YeOldeGrandma,
Thanks for the queries and will try to take these onboard for the future.

Your story goes into a good amount of detail and really descriptive & found myself caring about the character and wanting to know more about them. For me, this is one of the main things I look for in any writing, so lots of thanks for posting such a good read.

Yes, your idea was what I thought the story was myself, so I'm not sure what was missing, but (if it helps) will try to explain my "process":

I'm not really able to sit down and think of a story or a theme.
Instead, I try to remain open to inspiration (sounds/characters/names/places/situations/images/etc) and see if they relate to the same thing or not.
Quite a lot of the time, they remain separate and don't relate to each other. Other times, some of them gel together and seem to belong together.
Then I try to use whatever language skills I have to do justice to these situations in terms of evoking these inspirations in the same detail that they appeared to me.
English is my first language, but I know I'm not "the best" at setting things out/planning sentences/etc, so I need to improve this side of things.

As such, I don't claim to be a "writer", instead I just try to transcribe these concepts as much as I can & I don't claim the ideas as my own.
I was once asked if that meant I'd stolen them from someone else -which is not and has never been and never will be the case- but the ideas come from elsewhere ("the ether", Muses, or wherever) and I'm not so arrogant as to claim ownership of such things.

I virtually never get "the whole picture" about any of the ideas in the stories I put into words, so I don't 100% know who this character is like where he lived, who his mentors are, what happens afterwards, etc. Was this the kind of thing you were wanting to know? If so, I'm afraid I don't know the answers myself.
Perhaps they may resurface later in other tales? I have no way to be sure.

Not sure of this helps or not?

17 Posts
It all comes down to whether it is relevant to the story, I think. Far from every fact needs to be known for a story to work, and it's often a sign of good writing when a mental picture is painted using as few words as possible.

I think this is what you're doing in your process (trying to put a feel and sense of something into words) and I wholeheartedly approve of it - as I've already said, your piece is really well written and captures a suitably dark feel.

In fact, the only thing I found difficult to undserstand about your story was the ending. The story mainly revolved around your main character, his motivations and thoughts. To have it end from another point of view is fine, but to suddenly insert another plot point (a tech-priest working for imperials but secretly loyal to Tzeentch, the very same master that the pilot serves but even so the tech-priest kills him, while speaking, openly in front of an imperial, about how none may challenge Tzeentch...) - that raises too many questions, and that is also why that missing information is relevant to the story. Why would the tech-priest kill him? Why would he openly talk about Tzeentch in front of his (I assume) imperial master? I guess one could make something about how the reader is supposed to be confused, how that is part of the imagery you're trying to convey, and if that's the case then I'll have to accept that, because everyone is entitled to their own taste when it comes to writing - but I can't say that I like it personally.

The part about him killing off his comrades is well and good to leave as vague as it is now - it was actually kind of eerie to read the passage, then double back and think "Wait, what? Did I just read that - he did what?". I think that is a good example of "good" vagueness that works.

So basically: I in no way mean that every fact needs to be provided for a story to work. But essential facts, facts that are needed for the reader to get the whole picture and make some sort of sense of it all, they are needed.

I'm not sure what the title refers to, but titles can often be left more vague without that being something strange. Still, it would be interesting to know.

Also: thanks for your comments. Character description and development is a very easy, yet fundamental way of making a working story. I'm glad you found the characters in this piece interesting, even though my main focus was to just try to portray a combat skydive step by step (I got the idea in my head and thought it would be cool - obviously it would have worked better as a movie). If you want more of Cassander, check last month's competition (though that story takes place some time before this one chronologically).

368 Posts
Thanks a lot for your help, very much appreciated.
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