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The Bearded One
Raid at Primarus hive
Artillery strikes threw mud and rubble skywards. Explosions ploughed over both no-man’s-lands and the trenches. Guardsmen buried their faces in the dirt at the sound of approaching shells. The siege of the Primarus Hive had ground on for several years as the rebels refused to surrender, but the morale of the guardsman was high as it was rumored in the trenches that the hive’s defenders were at the breaking point.
Guardsman Ramos was dozing off at the familiar sound of a shell landing far away, while he peered out of the trench into the no-man’s-land before him. In the background loomed the tall but battered city spires of the hive, piercing the broken sky as leviathans in defiance of their wounds. “Wondrous be the Imperium of man..” he muttered to himself, “praise be to the God-Emperor..”
Ramos felt his eyelids getting heavy as daily orders and prayers were being made over the voxcaster, until a nearby explosion and accompanying screams shook him awake. Ramos frantically looked around him to see where the explosion occurred. A swift set of explosions followed in the vicinity and nearby vehicles and trenches were ravaged by piercing lights from beyond the twisted skies, followed by another rapid succession of explosions. Throughout the bombardment prayers kept being recited over the voxcaster. The sky seemed to become even darker and the very air breathed malice as hundreds of shapes descended from the clouds onto the guardsmen below, unleashing destruction as they neared the earth.
The prayers on the voxcaster were interrupted by the company commander, who hastily shouted orders to the guardsmen, but after mere moments he was silenced as the voxcaster transmitted the sound of slicing and cutting, and several brief death screams and thuds. A nearby guardsman shouted into the voxcaster:
“Commander? We’re under attack! What should we do commander?!”
No answer came from the commander, except for static. The guardsman called again until the reply interrupted him. A chill, arrogant voice pierced the voxcaster’s silence:
“We have come for you….
body and soul..”
No more sound was emitted except for static, while terrified men looked at each other, and many scrambled for their weapons. Enemy craft flew overhead now and some flew close enough for their crew to pick guardsmen out of the trenches. Others flew past the guardsmen at high speed, to cut them apart with the blades attached to the flanks and underside of their crafts. They were now close enough for Ramos to discern their pilots. They were tall and slender, as well as fast and agile. Their skin was pale, their stares full of contempt and their evil laughter filled with malice. These were the Dark Eldar and they had come to claim their victims.
When men were sliced apart before Ramos’ very eyes by an infernal machine, he succumbed to fear and ran. He sprinted through the blood slicked trenches while Dark Eldar craft flew all around and nothing short of the Emperor’s voice itself could have compelled him to stand his ground. A nearby explosion knocked him and nearby men clear off their feet. Ramos attempted to get back up, but was halted by a sharp, terrible pain. Looking down he saw a large piece of shrapnel piercing his body, as well as several minor ones. When attempting to sit back up pain wracked him, breath left his body, and he spat blood. Carefully he allowed himself to fall on his back again and let his head rest on the ground as he stared upwards. He saw Dark Eldar ships ply the skies while he heard the sounds of the slaughter raging all around him.
Then one of the Dark Eldar stood above him. His eyes glowed red in the darkness of his helmet and his gaze seemed to pierce Ramos’ soul. He was looking for prisoners for the ships amongst the wounded and the dying men lying in the trench. Ramos was too heavily injured to be taken, but the Dark Eldar had decided to take the pleasure of killing him off himself and brandished a knife. As he decided which organ to puncture first, and Ramos desperately reached for his lasgun lying nearby, a horn resounded through the air. It had a certain noble quality to it, but felt twisted and emitted wicked tones. It appeared the raiders had sounded their retreat, and the Dark Eldar standing before Ramos was momentarily taken aback. This was all that Ramos needed as he managed to grab hold of his lasgun and pulled the trigger, shouting:
“For the Emperor!”
The Dark Eldar raider’s look of surprise and disbelief swiftly turned into a gaping hole as his body slumped backwards. Ramos fired several more shots for good measure and let his body rest on the ground, watching the Dark Eldar depart as swiftly as they came. Within seconds all their craft had disappeared behind the clouds and silence fell one more. Though accompanied with a sharp surge of pain Ramos allowed himself a sigh of relief, until he glanced towards Primarus Hive once more… to see the rebels emerge in the distance…
The manufactorium wall shattered as the adamantine bulk of the Nemesis Dreadknight hurtled through it, flailing arms catching upon the ancient machinery’s cables as another hulking behemoth strode through the rent in the building’s side, its two burning eyes locking with its prey’s. Impossibly heavy footfalls shook the pitted iron floor as the creature advanced, shadows clinging to it like a cloak, concealing all save the eyes and the Warp-Blade clutched in a hand. With a savage wrench, the Dreadknight pilot ripped his arms from their coiling prisons, bringing his greatsword up as the creature attacked.
Using the eyes and blade as a guide, the pilot spun left, parrying a double thrust aimed at his knee then right elbow joints. The creature followed with a brutal overhead blow, driving the Dreadknight back a pace with its ferocity, then another as it repeated the attack, this time reversing into a diagonal slash half way through the blow. The third such attempt was met by a vicious counterattack as the pilot caught the blow on his greatsword and spun in, thrashing the weapon ahead of him in an arc of blazing blue light.
The thing reared back, suddenly illuminated by the halo of flame surrounding the Dreadknight’s weapon, giving the Space Marine a glimpse of his adversary. A massive torso of twisted steel stood supported on two legs, Daemonic sinew giving way to pistons and axis as it did on the creature’s arms. Its head was horned and skull-like, however steel plating had replaced its cheeks and rusted fangs of iron glittered in the apparition’s mouth.
With a start, the pilot realised that he may be fighting for his life as the blade swung again, clattering off his guard and almost spinning the walker of its feet. Unable to bring his blade back up in time, the pilot watched helplessly as a clawed hand reached down, pinning his sword and right arm to the ground, whilst the creature’s opposite limb also struck out, forcing the raised incinerator away from its iron visage not moments too soon as a gout of promethium shot from the weapon’s barrel, scorching the air between the two.
Then, once again, the pilot had the terrifying, weightless feeling of being lifted, before a second throw catapulted him across the room, the guttering incinerator leaving a trail of sparks and ash in his wake.
Stalking up as he tried to rise, the fiend swung its blade, this time severing his sword-arm at the joint. A taloned foot twisted down onto the other arm, crushing the adimantium and steel as if it were naught but powdery rock whilst another settled across the Dreadknight’s chest. Unarmed and immobile, the pilot could only watch helplessly as the sword swung back down in a final arc, one that was cut blissfully short.
Rising from the Grey Knight’s remains, the Daemon Prince smiled, the hydraulics in his jaw clicking back a notch. An Aegis, it seemed, was only effective from one side.
Last edited by DeathPoke; August 1st, 2011 at 03:33.
Glad to see these two stories have both made it through! Certainly worth the wait.
The Bearded One, I like the double catastrophy of your piece, the dark eldar attack and the ensuing rebel advace, though I gather our poor protagonist won't last much longer to experience the hospitality of the rebels . You describe the feel of each faction quite well, such as the dark eldar trumpet being of 'a certain noble quality... but felt twisted and emitted wicked tones', hinting at their ealier nobility before their fall. The Guardsmen instead show dedication and faith towards their emporer and their cause, constant prayer and thanks giving them the will power to continue to fight on.
I would suggest however to not really soley on 'explosions' to convey what is happening around the protagonist, get some more colourful descriptions in there to keep the action fresh!
Karrain, your climatic duel between the two metal giants (assuming the deamon prince was mostly metal...) was quite dramatic, though I feel it was the less 'catastrophic' of the two. From the beginning the Dread Knight seemed outmatched, being thrown through the wall for one and seemingly always being on the defensive, whilst the demon continued to attack and intimidate his opponent. You have written one of the shorter stories however, which is quite commendable, manageing to give a sinister tone to the Half Machine Deamon Prince as the holy light illuminated his features. The cloak referrence in the final sentence still baffles me however, any clues?
Overall, while The Bearded One did provide a well done story, the unique qualities of Karrain's puts him in front.
The Bearded One 3/5
GLORY TO THE DICE GODS!
The Bearded one: I thought the story was great, really liked the emotional stuff with the brutal murder of the squad and the dark eldar getting his just deserts at the buisness end of a lasgun! Well ended too, very little i can say as a critiscism.
Karrain: I liked the action and the violence, but it all seemed a bit random to me. I had a lot of questions, where were they, why was a dreadknight required, how was the inevitable evil planet subduing scheme of the prince coming along... I liked the battle, but it didnt have any context behind it which would have made it a lot better.
The Bearded one 5/5
Your friendly neighbourhood gargantuan creature
Hmm... this one is tough. The both of you wrote in a lot of "blow by blow" combats, which chews up your wordcount in a hurry. I think that's what contributed to Karrain's story being so short. Neither story seemed to be a real 'catastrophe' either. I suppose that if you read into Bearded One's piece, the catastrophe might be the near-victorious Imperials being brought low by the Dark Eldar. Karrain's piece is geared more towards a minor catastrophe, following the phrase "if 10,000 guardsmen die, it's a statistic, if a single Space Marine dies, it's a tragedy"- doubly ironic given the subject matter of both stories.
Individually, Karrain's story definitely suffered from a lack of setting or motive. The fighting was great however, and really gave a feel for the grit and brutality of a battle- it's a shame that I suppose pain doesn't transfer through the controls of a Dread Knight, as it would have made the fight that much more epic if the pilot was suffering alongside his machine. The Aegis only working from one side- I'm guessing that the DreadKnight pilot became a Daemon Prince as well, hence the metallic jaw etc? The ending isn't too clear, which hurts when the rest of the story doesn't have much exposition. Remember- 1000words isn't a goal, it should feel claustrophobic, try to get as much information and emotion into your stories as possible. You're a great technical writer, and your fight scene was awesome, but you need to get people to relate to the fighters. Nobody would've given two s***ts about Rocky Balboa if it wasn't for the two hours we spent watching him prepare for the climatic bout in the ring.
Bearded One - you came out swinging, and with a lot of the lessons that you learned from Lizard's last Fluffwar. You kept the fighting vague, describing the overall picture rather than each traded blow, and it bought you a few extra words for a setting. Your story seemed tight, you packed as much in there as you could with the length restrictions. I'm still making my rounds, but we both wrote far lengthier pieces than our opponents in this opening salvo- I'm curious to see if all of the other new faces are keeping their stories so succinct. I can only really nit-pick you on this one; some of your sentences seemed clunky, and maybe a bit redundant (there were a lot of explosions, and I think you mentioned the vox-silence twice when it first occurred). Just check back through your work, you can save yourself words by knocking out repeats, or change the language to convey more emotion. All around it was good stuff though, the lessons you learned in the first fluffwar and you natural talent put a lot of polish on this piece and made it seem a little more professional.
The scores this round are low- I don't believe in giving 5's unless it's truly top-notch flawless work, and I also think that you both fell short on the "Catastrophe".
The Bearded One 4/5
The Bearded One
Well, I thought your entry started of quite strongly, but then it seemed to bog down into dry descriptive tones and didn't seem to hold my interest. While the theme is addressed well, I don't really get any sense of attachment to the Guardsmen's plight and thus don't really care that much when the Dark Eldar come at them. It seems a bit harsh of me to say that, but that's just the impression I was left with upon finishing the story.
The brevity of this piece surprised me, to be honest. I like some of the descriptive phrases you've used, and the story seems to maintain a good excitement and pace - perhaps the length helps here! That said, a one one one battle (while clearly a personal tragedy) doesn't (for me at least) go all that far to addressing the theme, and I would have liked to see something a little longer!
Hm, a tough one. The Bearded One seemed to have a better story in terms of the theme but, for me, Karrain's piece seemed slightly better written which I think will tip the scales in his favour.
The Bearded One - 2/5
Karrain - 3/5
The Bearded One: I'm going to have to be the odd one out here and say I don't think you really fitted the theme well. In my mind a catastrophe is something that gets worse and worse, while your Guardsman's got worse, then better by killing the Dark Eldar, and then worse; too much roller-coaster, not enough freefall. For all that, I did like the description, you really made the man fear for his life, and the beginning showed the monotony of being in the same seige for years on end. Well done on those points.
Karrain: I liked the action in this story, I really did. The Daemon Prince definately came across as a formidable opponent, though your Grey Knight seemed a little too 'meh' about the situation. I mean, he gets thrown through a wall and forced onto the defensive, and then realises he's fighting for his life? It almost seems like you focused entirely on the Prince and gave no real attention to your protagonist. But again, good action, and the description really paints a picture in your mind's eye.
The Bearded One - 3/5
Karrain - 3/5