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THE FALL OF VITRIAN
“We can’t hold them anymore”.Was all that Commissar Hjuler had said under his breath.”Then lets fallback,we weren’t sup…”.A gunshot later and sergeant Mansfield lied to the ground of the hive,blood flowing freely from his new hole in the head.”It is only I and I alone who says if and when we will fall back.Understood?”The men’s faces turned white.All except Hyram’s.He had seen that a couple dozen times happen.What he wasn’t used to was the commissars order that followed.”We must fall back to the spaceport.Vox caster signall all units to fall back we’ll make our stand to the spaceport till transports arrive to take us off.NOW!!!”
As the squad started running,bolt rounds zipped above their heads.Only the rabble strew on the street from a nearby imperial temple blasted apart from a las cannon shot minutes before,provided any amount of cover.Space marines,Hyram thought while running.How can Space marines fight alongside rebels and heretics?He had seen the murals in the temples,he had seen the angelic visages and horrible furry that were the emperors angels of death.But nothing could prepare him for the horror of space marines fighting against servants of the emperor.Hyram had fought Orks and Eldar before,he was considered a veteran by most of the lads,only his undisciplined record keeping him from earning a promotion,and yet for all his experience he had urinated himself when he had seen the first one.He was two times his height and three times broader.He wore crimson armor with gold trim and wielded a huge chain axe.Blood flowed from the armor as it was riddled with bullet marks and yet still he run,gruesome trophies hanging in chains and rattling on the armor,heads,skulls…and that scream:”BLOOOOOOOD FOR THE BLOOOOOOOOOD GOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDD”.If it wasn’t that autocannon shell landing squarely on his face and decapitating him Hyram’s head would be on those chains now.
It was the traitor marines who had turned the tide of battle.When the rebellion began on Vitrian tertius the planetary governor was immediately assassinated .His forces were infiltrated by as of then,unknown chaos cults and had turned traitor.Of all the settlements of the world only hive Elbeth for some reason remained untouched.The response of the imperium was immediate for once and they responded to the astropathic call in due haste.Inquisitor Chavek had called for the Dravere’s 25th dragoons to make a landing to the hives space port and deploy to the walls in an attempt to hold the line till more troops were send.Four days of bitter fighting against the traitor guard had passed and all thought,the enemy played a gamble that they were to loose.Casualties for the attackers were piling high and the traitor regiments had no factories to resupply,the imperial navy in orbit had seen to that,blasting everything that wasn’t in loyalist hands.Their only recourse,to capture the hive before fresh troops arrived.Everything was going according to plan,commander Heritor was confident that the planed counter attack of the imperial forces will sweep the enemy even without the promised reinforcements.The rest of the planet was in ruins from the relentless bombardment,where could the enemy run?
And then it happened.Black robed figures started to move among the corpses of the enemy piled outside the hives walls.A horrendous chanting was heard across the hive,no doubt the voices of the chanters amplified by sorcery.A green mist started to linger among the corpses and the cultists immediately stopped their chant and started mutilating the bodies and each other.When the blood frenzy ceased,the mist began to tear reality apart.The anomaly grew and grew until it became as large as a building.Fire,an unnatural blue fire washed the walls energizing them.Men burned to cinders instantly but that was not the worst.Ten heart beats latter the walls exploded!Huge chunks of wall and even vehicles sky rocketed and fell with huge speed,destroying buildings,crushing men and whatever was beneath them.Among the victims was commander Heritor and his command staff as a manticore missile battery that was launched to the air during the explosion landed on the command post.
It was a catastrophe.After the incident,the surviving guardsmen had been on the run.Hjuler the highest ranking officer immediately rallied the survivors for what he expected to be the last push of the cultists.But that was not so.For the sorcery invoked,had not only destroyed the walls but had brought to the enemy that which was denied to them.Reinforcements.
Hyram was one of the few survivors.He had grouped alongside the commissar and then he saw them.Running directly from the maw of the anomaly were black and gold armored warriors,festooned with spikes and grizzly trophies,ones stomach would turn at their mention.The surviving guard fought them and died,for two full hours they held,with only the ashes and ruble falling from the destroyed wall as their requiem.Then the lines broke and the Commissar ordered the retreat.Whatever men were to survive would regroup to the spaceport till transports from the fleet arrived.
After hours of running through the streets they reached the barricades.The whole hive was ablaze now.Screams and gunshots filled the air,as the civilians were no doubt been brutalized by the chaos marines.
The commissar suddenly spoke:”This is a catastrophe Hyram.”
“I know sir,all those lives…And we had victory on our grasp.”
“I don’t speak about the hive Hyram.I speak of our deaths.”
“The inquisitor will perform exterminatus on the planet,he voxed me two minutes ago it has started already.We will die from our comrades in space.Not the glorious death befitting servants of the emperor,that is a catastrophe Hyram …”
“Then why we regrouped here then?”
“Because I deemed this,as a defensible position we could die all the while taking some of those dogs with us, now we are denied even that,a complete,utter catastrophe because of me... “
By the time his lips spoke the last word the lance batteries were illuminating the blood red skies.The atmosphere began to burn,tectonic activity intensified and a firewave washed the entire planet as the last cyclonic torpedoes detonated.The last thoughts of Hyram were: No man died in His service that died in vain.
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“Get on with it you nasty squag! That bolter isn’t going to load itself! What are you waiting for, the Emperor to hold your hand and give you a kiss to make it all okay? GET MOVING”
The shouting was relentless. From the inside the adamantium plated hull of the manticore the rough voice of tank commander Raltir seemed to swell and flow round the cramped gunnery hatch. The young soldier sat within paid no heed however; the heavy bolter already had a fresh feed inserted from the ammo stores. His father simply liked the sound of his own voice. The two of them had been tank aces for several years now, the scores of kill markings adorning the sides of their tank - Eagles fury – a testament to the brutality of the pair.
Today that brutality would be well and truly put to the test. Although the Eagles fury was at least a mile behind the aegis defence lines, the Guard battle-plan relied almost completely on the efforts of Raltir and his son, Merik. The manticore’s targeting system had been linked to a battery of missiles, almost everything available inside the base. Several automated missile tubes, 3 basilisks and even a mighty deathstrike missile were all primed to follow whatever the manticore aimed at, currently a small patch of scorched earth just before the defence lines. The gun crews were minimal; every man available had been posted to the front lines to hold off the incoming waves of tyranid invaders. Every second bought the tank aces more time.
“Merik, how are those targeters coming?”
“Linked and activating on your command” he replied, as the activation rune began to glow red.
Merik glanced his eyes upwards for a moment, suddenly sighting a mycetic spore and shouting a warning to his father. The two worked seamlessly, Raltir slamming the tank into reverse whilst Merik yanked his sights upwards to alright on the spore. The instant the lock on rune signaled, Merik began to unleash the furious voice of the heavy bolter. Each round struck true, steel casing thudding into the wet, fleshy spore with phenomenal accuracy as chunks of viscera and gore ripped away from the outer surface of the pod. As horrendous as the damage inflicted was, the spore didn’t disintegrate in the air, continuing its rapid plummet to the earth below.
When the spore landed, the ensuing squelch as flesh slammed into stone curdled the guardsmen’s blood. Even Merik was stunned for a moment, missing the blur of movement as the beast within emerged and fled behind the nearby buildings.
“Find it! Blow that abomination back to whichever hellhole spawned it, before I come over and save that… thing the bother of killing your worthless hides!” Raltir raged. Truth be told he’d missed the beast too, but wasn’t letting on. Raltir knew It had to be killed, quickly. Emperor forbid if it took out the guidance mechanisms…
A scream exploded into the relatively still air. The basilisks crew had been eviscerated, their mangled bodies dropping to the floor with a slimy thud. A third man was several meters away, being dragged backwards by several vicious hooks that had exploded out his chest. As blood rose in his throat, the dying man fought for purchase to drag himself away. None came as the bloody man slid to the foot of a creature from man’s darkest nightmares.
The xenos was huge, a pair of wicked talons spouting from its upper arms. Not that Raltir would have known, but the Imperium called it a Lictor.
“FIRE” Raltir bellowed, snapping off shots with his las-pistol. None found their mark, the beast jinxed aside at lightning speeds, its skin changing to always blur it into the background. Before the clip had even run dry, the beast was upon the tank, leaping up to the missiles on the gunnery hatch. With a deft flick of a talon, it prized the hatch open and gazed on the prey within. Merik didn’t have time to scream before the barbed hook impaled him through the chest.
The gore splashed everywhere, covering the hull of Eagles fury. A lot of the blood and fluid burst over Raltir, drenching him. Covered in his own sons’ life-blood, Raltir’s mind snapped. He vomited badly, sobbing into the console sat before him. The Lictor leapt off the gunnery hatch and stalked towards the commander, without a moment’s pause it punctured a small hole in the broken mans skull. Raltir slumped forwards, dead.
The Lictor shuffled over to the corpse, its feeder tendrils probing for the hole it had just made. Finding the opening, it inserted a tendril into Raltir’s skull and just as a child slurps a milkshake from a straw; proceeded to consume the dead commanders’ brain.
There was purpose to the brutality. The Lictor could learn. It learnt about the plan, the killing ground before the defence lines. It learnt about the prey, cowering in shelters just behind the human lines. Most of all, it learnt how all the artillery could be fired at one target, weaponry brutal enough to sweep all resistance away before it…human or xenos.
When the 4 storm eagle rockets fired, the guardsmen on the front lines cheered. When the basilisks started firing they whooped with delight. When the awesome deathstrike took off tears rolled down their faces and they gave thanks for the Emperors deliverance. Many were too hard pressed to watch the missiles flight into the air, a small mercy. Those who did watched in horror as many tones of explosive death began to drop back to earth above their lines.
Perhaps the emperor did deliver those few. Certainly they did not have to endure the true horror of the swarm as the Tyranids poured through the colossal breach in the aegis lines, immolated in a fierce fireball as the missiles struck. Those who survived had it far worse, as they witnessed first hand how ravenous the Great Devourer could truly be….
Your story didn't seem to start all that strong, but it definitely got going towards the middle. The sorcery that turned the tide of battle and brought in the marines was well imagined and well written.
I'm not sure if it was just the way your story was transmitted or something, but you seem to miss a lot of spaces. A fair few typos within your piece, too, so a good proof-read before you submit your next story might help you out.
Something else I might mention; dialogue. I personally always struggle to get realistic dialogue between characters, and to make it flow seamlessly, and I often end up reworking any passages with dialogue three of four times, re-reading it several times over to judge whether it works or not. I know you're on a time limit with these stories, but your dialogue didn't always seem convincing to me, and perhaps could have done with a little more attention.
Overall, though, not a bad effort. It certainly fits the theme pretty well, and although some small elements let it down a little the basic idea behind the story is pretty solid. Sorry about the somewhat harsh score, but I only have 5 marks to work with, and if past votewars are anything to go by writers only get better as we go on, so I have to leave room for you to improve!
An excellent effort here, I really like this one. The seamless switch from the guardsman point of view to that of the tyrannids works really well, as does the ending. Your dialogue works well, there's only a few typos (only one that I spotted, really)... Just a good solid effort here, so well done.
Pilot00 - 2/5
Heirodule - 4/5
Pilot00: I really liked your comissar character, even if he said catastrophe too much. Really fit the mould of the dude wanting to give his all for king and country. With that being said, grammar. Definately have someone proofread your work, the typos and oddly put together sentences really dragged down the beginning, and the action sequences seemed to alternate between short sentences and list-esque sentences. I liked the addition of sorcery, though I did find the ending dialogue too much like a prepared statement than someone's actual last words.
Heirodule: Nice. I really, really enjoyed this one, the Guardsmen are well-fleshed out and their comraderie is felt, and the Lictor seems like a total badass and scary mofo. I liked the way you showed the Hive Mind's ability to use cunning, and the imagery and similes (milkshake!). Top marks.
Pilot00 - 2/5
Heirodule - 5/5
Pilot00 - 3/5
Heirodule - 5/5
For Pilot00, the annoying spaces aside, I didn't mind the story so much as what the Commisar meant by "it's all my fault" before all the poor guardsmen were obliterated, was there something left out? He was by far the star and most 'human' character of the story, only showing his panic in subtle ways which lead him to execute the poor sergant for getting ahead of himself. Hyram lacked that subtleness sadly, though his rendition of the Khrone Beserker was quite entertaining. The ending was rather sudden though, perhaps the word limit got to you, nice work otherwise!
As for Heirodule, of all the stories so far your piece has used the theme to it's greatest intent, giving some hope that Merik and Raltir would pull through, before killing both them off and using that means of hope as their comrades destruction. Very Grimdark, very 40k. I did feel that the artillery unit was a tad undermanned though, but it's only a slight niggle. Overall, well played you vicious xenos!
GLORY TO THE DICE GODS!
Two pretty decent stories here, I had a few niggling issues with both of them though, and they both undershot the Catastrophe theme in favor of more personal tragedies.
Pilot00 - I'm not sure if English is your first language, and unfortunately, I can't rate you higher or lower on that fact anyways, but you need to proofread your entries. I'd have forgiven some of the spelling errors if it weren't for the poor spacing. It really tore down your entry, and made it difficult to read. The story itself was good, I think that Deadstar did a good job summing it all up- started slow, got better in the middle, and then ended abruptly. I agree that the word-limit probably caught up to you. If I can give you a hint, keep writing past the word limit if you must, until the story is finished. Then go back and edit the sections that are weak or aren't pulling their weight in the narrative. It forces you to proofread the whole story, but also helps you to either strengthen the weak points, or cut them entirely. You have a lot of potential, this story definitely showed it, you just need to keep your entries a bit more polished, in both the grammar/punctuation but also in the dialogue and storyline.
Heirodule - your story came out feeling short. Did you hit the 1000 word limit, or did the combat chew up your word count? Otherwise it was good- the father-son relationship added a touch of extra emotion that you played up well. It's hard to imagine that even the Guard would conscript two generations into a single unit, but that's passable. There were also a few grammatical mix ups, for example, "jinxed" (to hex/curse) instead of "jink" (to dodge), and some other similar things I caught. The most glaring thing that I saw was the milkshake reference, it sort of shattered the fourth-wall, comparing 40k to real world events (not sure they have the luxury of milkshakes in the spartan 41st millennium), as well as breaking the emotional tension with the picture of a chubby, grubby 8yr old sucking on a straw. Otherwise, everything was right there, you did enough with the length of the story, but I did feel like you could've added a little bit more depth.
Pilot00 - 2/5
Heirodule - 4/5
I can't say that I felt really connected with any of the character's in Pilot's story (as Captain Sarathai said, spacing really did stuff you up), however the motives and themes were quite strong, and the basis was very firm.
As for Hierodule, well, having the sacred closeness of a family eviscerated by a lictor emptiomises the burtality and darkness of the 41st millenium. The only problem I had with the piece was the Lictor learning to fire the rocket. Genestealers I could understand doing it, but as Lictors are more of an assassin/scout rather than an espionage organism I'm not so sure of it.
"Take their gold, burn their homes, kill their familes and enslave their souls. Show them no mercy...oh and could you post these letters while you're out?"
-Malekith, Witch King of Naggaroth.