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Marius the Possessed
Out with the old…
His sword arm rose and fell. Another mortal perished beneath his blade, bisected from shoulder to groin. A sweep took the head from two others, and a backhanded swat caved the chest cavity and pulped the organs within of a fourth.
Kel Garnon breathed deeply, his nostrils flaring wide as he drank in the scent of spilled blood around him. His armour, a deep red, bore a second coat, one of a brighter, bloodier colour. He felt the strength of his bare arm, and rejoiced as his enhanced hearts pumped more adrenaline and stimulants through his system.
He cared not who the enemy were. All that mattered was that they died beneath his blade, for this was a battle of baptism, the introduction of his recent addition. Kel paused in the combat, for a moment gazing at the rippling muscles and throbbing veins of his new left arm, the one that grasped his new, pitch-black blade with sharp black talons.
It wasn’t his originally, of course. No, the original arm had been lost a few months before, in a battle with a group of cursed Emperor’s Children. The champion of that pathetic band had severed Kel’s limb before being choked to death by it minutes later. As leader of the Sanctified warband, and as a devotee of the great Khorne, Kel had taken great pleasure in dispatching a servant of Khorne’s rival Slaanesh, and much relish at the thought of what the loss could bring him.
His new arm was superb. It had belonged to a daemon, one of the blessed bloodletters of Khorne. Kel had summoned the creature himself, deep within the confines of the laboratories of the infamous Fabius Bile. At Kel’s request, along with a healthy payment of tyranid warrior forms with which to experiment upon, the damned chirugeon had severed the daemon’s limb and reattached it to the Astartes warrior, bonding it eternally to Kel Garnon’s shoulder.
The champion of the Khornate warband broke his internal reverie when a lasbolt spanged off his armour, nicking his exposed face and burning a small furrow across his brow. Instant rage swelled before his vision, the champion’s eyes swiftly seeking out and identifying the culprit.
The eyes were another transplant, his first and favourite. Centuries ago, Kel had been blinded in battle against the cursed Ultramarines, a burst of burning promethium scalding his eyeballs and boiling them in their sockets.
That was when Kel Garnon had first approached Fabius Bile, and the devious fleshworker had placed the eyes of one of Khorne’s flesh hounds within his skull. Not only had Kel regained his sight, but also the tracking abilities of one of the Blood God’s feared hunters. No enemy could escape him now, and he used this power as he hacked his way through hordes of pathetic humans to slaughter the one bold enough to wound his visage.
With a roa,r Kel leapt into the trenches sheltering the planetary defence troopers, his feet crushing another mortal beneath his weight. He ignored the barrage of lasgun fire that immediately assaulted him, focusing only on his prey.
As if sensing his doom, the poor human turned and fled into the crowd of militia, seeking to hide amongst the sea of similarly-attired troopers. With other enemies, he may have been lost, but Kel could literally see the scent of his prey’s blood, winding like a scarlet trail through the crowd.
Snorting, the Sanctified champion felt his primary heart beat pure strength through his blood vessels, filling his muscles with unholy potency. Surging forwards, the corrupted Astartes barrelled through the densely-packed crowd of defence troopers, his sheer power and speed crunching them beneath his iron-shod form as if he were one of the Blood God’s own juggernauts.
Which he was, at least in part. His primary heart was, like his eyes and left arm, not his own, but that of a Khornate daemon. The original had been lost in battle against a kill team of the Ordos Malleus, who had sought to stop his brethren from summoning a mighty bloodthirsty to destroy an Imperial shrineworld. Kel Garnon had succeeded in his task, but an Inquisitorial fireteam still managed to bury a rocket directly in his chest.
Miraculously, he had survived, and Fabius Bile had, of course, been more than willing to help him, for the price of only a single Tau ethereal. A juggernaut daemon had been summoned, subdued, and its mechanical heart harvested by the debased surgeon. Grafted in place of Kel Garnon’s old organ, it served to give him unparalleled strength and ferocity in battle.
The Sanctified paused, his flesh hound eyes narrowed as he searched for his prey. The enemy were fleeing before him, running like scared sheep to escape him, but he was on the scent. With a roar, Kel thundered down a trench, intent on crushing the life of the one who had dared to mar his face. He saw the prey’s back and increased his speed, salivating at the thought of the kill.
His power armour again proved impervious to enemy fire, for it was no mere ceramite; it was the daemonic iron of the juggernauts themselves. This was no transplant but a mutation, a blessing of Khorne that had occurred soon after the replacing of Kel’s heart. This, more than anything, had proven to the gory champion that he was favoured, and on the path set out for him by his god.
With a mighty pounce, he leapt upon the defence trooper and broke the man’s back in the process. Ripping the mortal’s head and spine from his twitching body, Kel Garnon roared his victory to the heavens. Hopefully, he would find worthy prey in this battle, and suffer another loss to his body that Fabius would replace. Eventually, he would be nothing but daemon, a warrior of Khorne clothed in the unholy stuff of his god’s own being. Soon, he would be recreated, and the blood would never cease to flow.
The Bearded One
The joy of the hunt
Master Shaper Ar’Ok stared into the streets of the ruined sector out of the darkness. The night’s black grasp was only broken by the remaining functioning lampposts, most of which occasionally flickered and died, allowing portions of the street to temporarily bathe in darkness again. The shaper and his kroot kindred had been assigned to infiltrate this remote area and take out imperial patrols. Kroot are capable of actually altering the pigmentation of their skin and therefore Ar’Ok and his kindred had blackened their skin, so that they were completely immersed in the darkness.
“Targets acquired” whispered Shas’vre Yr’vos, leader of a unit of stealth suits joined to the kroot, over the comm. “unaware.. just as I like them.”
Stealth teams are always granted a relatively large amount of freedom in Tau battle plans, and therefore stealth team leaders delight in employing unusual and unpredictable tactics. As such stealth team leaders are often regarded as slightly eccentric. Yr’vos was certainly more than slightly eccentric, and at times he verged on being slightly crazy. He enjoyed the hunt of his enemies as much, if not more, as the kroot did.
“Targets moving into the street. They should be in your vision now.”
As the imperial guardsmen emerged from the dark they were illuminated by the flickering lights, all the while shadowed by the stealth suits a short distance behind them. In this environment the stealth suits were virtually invisible, even from mere feet away. The kroot hid themselves in the shadows of the ruined buildings and many observed the guardsmen from the floors above with hungry eyes.
“Shas’ui! activate the bait” ordered Yr’vos.
An abandoned voxcaster below a lamppost activated, producing loud static and drawing the attention of the guardsmen. Cautiously they approached it, wary of a trap, though unaware of the many eyes fixed upon them. One of their number slowly stretched his hand out towards it before the static was interrupted by the voice of Yr’vos:
“welcome to the party, gue’la”
Suddenly burstcannons were fired seemingly out of nowhere and ploughed the ground near the guardsmen. The startled men jumped up in surprise or to prevent their feet from being blown off, while the burstcannons kept firing relentlessly.
“Let them dance, Shas’ui, let them dance! Hahaha! Laughed Yr’vos over the sound of the burst cannons
As the stealth suits stopped firing, slow laughter of the kroot resounded across the street as they emerged from the buildings. The guardsmen looked around in fear and surprise, before the stealth suits fired another salvo, driving the men into a side street as several men were cut down. Shaper Ar’Ok looked on from his high perched viewpoint as they were driven through the streets into his direction by the kroot, with Shas’vre Yr’vos’s laughter resounding over the comm link all the while.
The guardsmen were continuously fired upon until they were driven into the dead end below Ar’Ok. Then suddenly the kroot disappeared from view, giving the men a momentary reprieve, as they wondered why the kroot had ceased firing. A few stories above them Shaper Ar’Ok was already savoring the sweet taste of blood, before nodding at his fellow kroot. After a swift drop they landed silently behind the guardsmen and set about their bloody task, hacking into the guardsmen with unmatched ferocity and enthusiasm and afterwards tasting the sweetness of their enemies’ meat…
“No other Tau should know what has transpired..” Ar’Ok thought to himself, “they would brand it as brutal and merciless.
They think of themselves as civilized and us as savages, yet their way of ‘efficient’ warfare is as merciless as any other. Killing from distance.. It is cold and clinical. They do not understand war like we do. They do not know the pleasure of the hunt, when you are close to your prey.”
Ar’Ok heard faint noises in the distance. Another group of the imperial soldiers approached. “The hunt begins anew”, he grimaced, before disappearing back into the shadows.
Poor Guardsmen, they always seem to be mashed up at every turn
I like the slow reveal of how inhuman Kel Garnon had become Marius, particulary the near the end where his actions as described as if he's a more a vicious dog than a human. The writing was well put, the lack of breaks didn't impeded it at all. I can't see what this has to do with recreation though, which is a tad dissapointing since it's damn good by itself!
Those damn Tau though, I think the savagery of the kroot may be wearing off on the stealth team, otherwise they're regressing back to their more primal state without the guiding hand of an etheral. Though the 'let them dance' and 'welcome to the party' do seem a tad out of place, even for a stealth team leader like Yr’vo. The idea that they're hunting the poor guardsmen and getting a kick out of it is rather sobering as well, though this fits quite well with the Shapers little stab at philosophy at the end.
Well done to both of you!
The Bearded One 4/5
Marius the Possessed 3/5
GLORY TO THE DICE GODS!
I'm going to tie this one up I think, and I hate doing that.
At first, I thought that you'd both missed the mark somewhat, until I remembered that there are two kinds of recreation - relaxation, and rebuilding -Marius's story definitely focuses on the second of the two. Bearded's stuff is all very good, but it seems more like this is a battle more-so than a recreational activity. Maybe mentioning that the Tau were engaging in this by choice, literally going out on a hunting expedition, would have made it seem more fitting.
Alternatively, Bearded One's story did show an interesting side to the Tau, a more base and sinister nature than the usual Space-Commie treatment. The whole thing flowed very well, although there were some clunky bits of explanation tossed in, and as Andy-G pointed out, some bits of dialogue that seemed out of place.
Marius- the lack of spacing hurt. It's a formatting thing rather than a real content issue, but every time I see a solid wall of text like that, it makes me cringe a little inside. Otherwise, good stuff. You not only stuck to the theme of the story, but you took the road less traveled. It had a certain flow to it, but it was almost similar to the "summary episode" that you get at the start of every new season of a tv show. Like "Last time, on 'Out with the Old', Kel Garnon got a new arm". I thought that the combat was well handled, which is rare in any story, let alone a 1000 word limit. You managed to fit a fair bit of action in alongside the story line, rather than letting one or the other take dominance. I'm not sure I can imagine a Khorne warrior working with Fabius Bile (isn't he Nurgle? ) but I guess that their gods are close enough allies in the pantheon, and Khorne would do anything that made him more killy.
Good work from both of you. I'm giving Marius the edge here by a point, mostly because I felt he conveyed the theme more strongly. I'd be quite happy to see either of you go through to next round though- both did quite well.
Marius the Possessed - Out with the old...
A very well constructed piece, although I noticed one or two minor typos at the start and it did take me a while to determine what exactly was going on (not a bad thing in this case, though; just enough mystery at the start to keep me wanting to read on). In terms of the theme... Well, I guess, as for the Orks, battle would be a recreational activity for a Khornate Bezerker. On the other hand, part of me feels you've just gone with the 'easy' option of writing a battle scene, in which its probably easier to maintain audience interest then a more subdued piece. Ah well, now to read The Bearded One's entry and see how he's tackled things...
Actually, I just re-read your title - quite clever, now I look back at it!
The Bearded One - The joy of the hunt
A bit stilted at the beginning - I felt it was quite hard to get in to this piece. The maniacal Shas'vre leading the Steath Team was a bit of a laugh, I quite enjoyed the vision of him cackling away as he chased these poor guardsmen through the street. Towards the end, you seemed to get a bit muddled in regards to who was doing what, although maybe that was just my reading of it...
Well, as much as I was a bit more critical of Marius the Possessed, I think between these two entries his is the better one. Interesting that both writers here had scenes that placed the recreation inside a battle, but they both made it work rather well.
Marius the Possessed - 4/5
The Bearded One - 3/5