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Hello fiction-writing community!
I enjoy writing but have never been very good at it. More importantly: time at hand was always too short to finish any of the hundreds of projects I must have started throughout my life.
I moved on from trying to write entire books (of which none ever had more than a few chapters written out before I gave up or took up an entirely new project idea) to writing short stories. But when at university even less time was available to me I couldn't even start and finish those anymore, and thus my writing was no more.
My gaming group's current campaign is getting me into it again. We care much about storytelling and we write (short) stories as reports for all our battles and keep track of the campaign's storyline in its entirety. Even here on LO I tend to comment my battle reports with fragments of stories and I have come to enjoy this very much.
The stories of a friend of mine here on LO inspired me and finally got me over the edge to try some little writing again, but as time still is very short I can only do small teasers; intros to stories or fragments of them, which hopefully will be nonetheless entertaining.
In this thread I intend to publish some of the material for your (dis)pleasure. All of the short pieces of work will be scenes from engagements my army (a Space Marine chapter called the Nebula Raiders) has participated in. Any comments welcome!
The Landing of Sternguard Squad “Lamniae Pugnacitatis”
The squad had barely rushed into the Thunderhawk as the bulkheads shut and the craft launched from the cruiser. Everyone knew their place exactly as the entire exercise had become routine. They had to shout to be heard over the deafening engine noise.
“What’re we into, sergeant?” asked sternguard veteran Santana.
“Seems to be a genestealer convention down there” sergeant Rorik replied. “And we’re not invited! Commander thinks that calls for a surprise visit. Says if we bring the right food they can’t reject. And what’s the Hive Mind’s preferred diet?” He scanned his brethren a moment long before going on. “That’s right, bolter shells!”
The compartment filled with chuckles that quickly died off once he added: “And the commander said we serve ‘em best!” He paused to let his serious gaze sink in, then relaxed his face. “Be proud.”
A quake shook the craft as it was slowed breaching the planet’s atmosphere. Rorik began to speak more urgently.
“Alright, listen up as I add some more detail to our assignment: there’s an Imperial Guard strongpoint below, complete with orbital defense. Intel has reason to believe those Guardsmen to be traitors with ties to the Alpha Legion. Our orders were to observe and assess the situation until Inquisition forces arrive, but with the Nids closing in command feels we can no longer wait.
“Nids’re attacking from two opposing directions. We’ll use general distraction to approach from the side. Once we’ve completed transit a drop pod detachment will cut off the Xenos’ spearhead and disrupt the advance of their main army while a mechanized force will seek out the big ones to fully draw their attention. We’ll move in on foot while the spearhead clashes with the stronghold defense to hide our approach.
“Then comes the hard part. Inquisition wants the stronghold intact and at least five of its command personnel ‘live for interrogation. We’ll blow up orbit defense weaponry and set up teleport beacons to grant the tactical dreadnoughts quick access. We’ll also knock out ‘s many surface-to-air emplacements as possible as we move t’wards the inner compound so the Thunderhawks can provide support.
“Then we’ll make our own entrance to the command center. Reinforcements’ll take care of the bugs, but there’s still gonna’ be hundreds of soldiers around. We hope to confuse and injure as many ‘s possible with our first pass, but they’ll outnumber us at least sixty to one. Kill as many ‘s must, but remember we need at least five command platoon officers alive!
You have your orders. Questions?”
“Yes, sarge: what are we doing after lunch?” Santana asked. The squad members turned their heads to him to see the grin on his lips. They would have followed his example, but the internal comm whistled and the speakers spat a familiar: “Brace for impact!”
“Helmets!” Rorik ordered, and his Brother-Marines donned them obediently just half a second before the dropship slammed into the ground, hatches flying open and the Angels of Death already halfway disembarked.
“G’luck out there” was all the pilot could say before the squad was out of sight.
Some battle speeches...
The beginning of the Duglum offensive
"Brethren – mankind is lost on Duglum XIII. We cannot hope to evacuate all those untainted, nor can we singedly purge every heretic, traitor and xeno on the planet, as we number too few and their masses are too vast. It is thus that the Chapter Council has – though not light-heartedly – decided to strike the planet with an Exterminatus.
But the so-called Administratum, the bureaucrats of Terra with the impudent claim of heirdom to the throne of so great a man as the Emperor, have interdicted our plans. Not for the sake of the planet’s inhabitants, but for its industrial power. They care not about victims or casualties, for warriors and workers are infinite to them, whereas manufactorial worlds and economic potential are limited and – in their small minds – highly-prized resources. Yet, their mighty battle-fleets dwell far away and it will be months ere they arrive. Precious months. Time we cannot spare if we are to save but a single soul on Duglum XIII.
The burden thus rests yet again upon our power-armored shoulders. Yet again are our bolters called upon to accomplish the impossible. Yet again it is our lives that must be given to protect the innocent. We will descend upon Duglum XIII and fulfill our duty! Our foremost concern is the finding and support of surviving loyal troops, while we must do all that we can to forestall the awakening of a slumbering beast – a mighty Titan sealed in its hangar that the heretics are about to breach..." – Chapter Master of the Nebula Raiders Tanadir of Narua
Orbital assault on Duglum XIII
"When the hatches of thy drop pod blow open and the battlefield greets thee with a rain of shrapnel, do not think of the women and children we fight for. Instead give in to thy righteous wrath, release the fury in thy heart, visualize the bolter shell in the enemy’s head.
When their numbers blot out the sun, we shall fight in the shade. We will give them nothing, but take from them everything! For the honour of the chapter, for the sake of humanity, we will not retreat nor surrender! As Space Marines we shall know no fear, but stand and fight!
On Duglum XIII, a new era shall begin. An era of cleansing. And all will know that the Nebula Raiders gave their last breath to usher it in. All the chapter is here to bear testimony to your deeds of valor. Here is where we fight! Here is where we hold them! Here is where they die!” – Master-Chaplain of the Nebula Raiders Zafar
[Sorry, I've borrowed quite a few quotes from the movie "300" in this one...]
The last stand at the Shrine of Borgoron
Many faithful Brethren have let their lives in battles past, and many will fall today. But mourn not over the battle’s toll. Justified are the losses, by the thousands of lives each of their sacrifices helps to spare! Give thy life not easily, yet when necessity arises falter not in the face of death. A lifetime of service can not be greater a deed than giving in combat the very last there is to give!
Let not despair claim ye hearts. Courage, strength and honor is what I shall see in ye eyes! Angels of destruction are thee! Let us deliver our message to the enemy clearly!
Bid not that though livest not to see the end of our species. Grasp firmly thy weapons instead and act towards that aim!
Hope not for salvation. Reach out with thy strong arms instead and secure victory!
Pray not for the enemy’s defeat. Nay, instead, brothers, fight! Fight with all means! Fight to whatever end!
Death to the beasts of the Warp! Death to the forces of chaos! Death to the enemies of mankind!
Aye... sword may be broken, armor may be torn and the holy bolter may fail thee. Yet, fear nought! Stand fast wither the dangers thou facest! None of the tainted shall pass our lines and set foot on the sacred ground hither, for defeat is not to come upon us today!
The protection of humanity is our foremost duty. As long as a single Nebula Raider ventures amongst the living the Imperium shall not fall! March forth, brethren! To victory! Oaths you have sworn. Now: fulfill them all!
We will prevail. For the Emperor. For Mankind.
Attack!" - Chapter Master of the Nebula Raiders Tanadir of Narua
"Chaaaaaaaarge!" cried Master-Chaplain Zafar, following his lord, and all the Nebula Raiders joined in with their oath: "True unto death!"...
Red, these are brilliant! I'm getting a good picture of the Nebula Raiders already, and I'm liking some of the characters. I might try to include them in my own stories as 'guests'! You've got a good writing style; witty, exciting, and engaging. I am looking forward very much to hearing more on the Nebula Raiders various adventures!
Its hard to pick a favourite of the battle speeches. It is actually almost as if each one contains several, smaller speeches. They could work just as well, if not better, if you divided them up a little. Very good though!
Thanks a lot for your comments, Chad! I treasure your advice.
Splitting the battle speeches (especially the one about the last stand at the shrine) is probably a really good idea. You hit a vulnerable spot: I tend to shoot all my ammo at once, instead of putting out a steady flow of bullets. Thanks for the tip!
As far as writing more goes: I'll definitely try hard! As long as you keep writing yourself and thus keep the inspiration coming chances are it might work. The above posted pieces are the only ones I already had in English, I'll have to translate or write up something new now, but I will give it a try.
Thanks a lot for your feedback again, it's really very much appreciated.
And I'd be honored if one of my characters makes it into one of your stories...
I quite liked these - a shame you can't get the time to write longer pieces, because it would be kind of fun to find out a bit more about the Nebula Raiders. They sound at times like they're enjoying themselves! Never hurts to have a bit of humour in the midst of battle.
Thanks for posting these!
Thank you very much for your feedback, Deadstar_MRC! I'm very glad you enjoyed it.
A little humor here and there is very important, I think. One mustn't overdo it, of course, but how are Space Marines supposed to live for hundreds of years without having a laugh once in a while? After all, this also helps overcome all the nagging fears and doubts that must still haunt even the superhuman battle-ridden mind...
Some people are strictly against this, but I think that as long as it doesn't turn into slapstick or pure comedy a joke once in a while can't hurt. Even for Space Marines.
Well, I sure hope I can do write up some more of it. Your feedback certainly helps motivate me a lot! Thanks again, really much appreciated, mate!
Yay fluff! Love it! My tau may be fighting some of the nebula raiders, as well as the cadian 501st :p
„This is taking forever, I bet it’s never gonna happen. I don’t believe this xeno scum a word. It’s a trap I tell you” Stark complained pessimistically.
“Pull yourself together, Colonel! Achilles trusts the witch, and that is all you need to know. The Eldar are weakened from your attack, they are desperate and need our support if they want to live through the traitors’ assault. And remember that this bargain was the only way to set you and your men free” Brother-Sergeant Thargrim replied.
“I’d have proudly died...” said the Colonel.
“Certainly. And what would that have changed, Colonel? We risk our lives to save yours, and you don’t even care at all. This is not your battle, soldier. Just stay out of our way...”
A fresh breeze swirled around the rocky outcrops as the sun was slowly rising above the horizon, its first rays of the day reflecting from the Raiders’ white power-armor.
Thargrim was himself suspicious of the Eldar and their promise, more so than he liked to admit. But he was absolutely loyal to his Captain who had led him off hundreds of battlefields alive. In the last decades of fighting alongside Achilles Thargrim had learned that his Captain’s every judgement was good enough to trust your life to.
What worried Thargrim the most was the presence of the Imperial soldiers that had been freed from Eldar imprisonment. The ill-equipped humans were much too fragile to have any part in the upcoming battle, but there were no means to escort them to safety in time.
Thargrim and his unit were now responsible for the survival of the Colonel and his command squad, and the marines would have rather liked to see this burden passed on to others. It was no use though – things already were the way they were, and Thargrim was glad Colonel Stark at least finally kept quiet. He let his gaze wander along the ridges surrounding them. If the Eldar’s foresight was true the traitors were supposed to show any time now.
“What’s that?” Colonel Stark asked, pointing towards the sky.
At the same time Thargrim heard a shrieking noise that was steadily growing louder. “Incomiiiiing!” he cried and tackled the Colonel, burying the much smaller human beneath his superhuman body for protection...
* * *
Flashes from uncounted detonations lit up the long shadows the morning sun casted among the hills. Artillery shells impacted everywhere, shattering the rocks and flinging deadly fragments and debris through the air.
Brother-Marine Scozac reached for his legs but there was only emptiness, the lower two-thirds of his body gone.
“Man down!” Tristan cried and ran over to his wounded battle-brother, kneeling by his remains. Their gazes met. Scozac’s eyes were calm, he did not move nor talk, yet a tiny stream of blood trickled from between his lips. Tristan had fought at his side in many a skirmish, and both of them knew that it was only a matter of time until one of them had to meet their end, but not like this. This was wrong.
Tristan got carried away in thoughts for a few seconds that could have been eternity. He completely blanked out the noise of the explosions surrounding them until cold metal was pressed into his gloveless hand. It was Scozac’s bolt pistol, and his gaze was stern. Tristan nodded.
“You will live on through your progenoids and the annals of the chapter” Tristan said as comforting as he could muster in the midst of a battlecannons’ bombardment. Scozac let his battle-brother’s hand go only after he had pointed the gun to his head. Then he closed his eyes, and Tristan pulled the trigger...
* * *
“Task force delta calling alpha leader!”
“Listening, delta force” Achilles replied, wondering why his brethren broke radio silence.
“We’ve got a problem here. We count a total of fourteen reaper cannon sentry guns on double-A mounts right at the bottom of the slope the Eldar vypers are supposed to approach from. When they charge over that ridge they’ll be obliterated. We’ve got to do something about it, else they don’t stand a chance. Four combat squads is better than nothing – shall we engage?”
It was a tough decision. Achilles hated surprises like these. “Negative, delta force. Continue on mission...”
* * *
“Contact!” Brother Deforis exclaimed, scanning into the distance through his rifle’s sights, and released a shot. The target’s blood splattered and its head was roughly tilted backwards as the silhouette in red power-armor dropped to the ground.
“And contact down” Veteran-Sergeant Boromar, Deforis’ mentor, added, patting him on the shoulder carapace. “But where there’s one, there’ll be more. Keep your eyes peeled!” he warned his squad of scouts and lifted up his gun, readjusting his aim.
And he was proved right. From behind the rock formation where the traitor had been shot an entire horde of heretic marines poured forward. A vox-caster threw their battle-cry across the plateau: “blood for the Blood God” – Berzerkers!
“We’ll give ‘em what they ask for...” Boromar mumbled to himself. “Fire at will!” he ordered his squad and trained his gun on one of the attackers after another until he found what he had searched for: a power fist among the many chain axes – the champion.
“Blood for your blood ‘god’...” Boromar mumbled and double-tapped his stalker bolter.
* * *
“Task force beta requesting immediate assistance! Encountered heavy resistance, facing summoned warp creatures!”
Nestador heard the call for help in his mind. He led the reserves for situations exactly like these. The tactical dreadnoughts were at ready, waiting patiently at his side. The Epistolary started concentrating. “Prepare.”
The journey through the Warp took less than a second, yet Nestador knew the foul stench of the purple Warp essence all too well. They were out of it as soon as they were in and the librarian quickly checked on his squad members: they had all made it. All of them knew of the risk of warp travel, but they trusted Nestador, and his expertise and years of training did the trick more often than not.
He looked around. They had landed right in between the tactical squads of beta force and the Bloodletters charging in on them with hissing tongues and lifted blades. Nestador was very content with the outcome as storm bolters and assault cannons ripped through the daemon bodies with ease, sending many of them back to the Warp.
The rest would soon perish at the hands of the terminators’ power fists, Nestador realized, and reached out with his arm, spreading his fingers and sending a wave of psychic energies that threw back the attackers, slamming them to the ground...
* * *
“Twelve signals, flying, Captain. About three kilometres, approaching in a shallow arc. Bearing 181 through 184 true. Coming in low and fast, Sir.”
Achilles was relieved and and seriously worried at the same time. The vypers were coming, the Eldar kept true to their word. But the sentry guns were still functional and would take the fragile skimmers apart before they could engage the defilers with their bright lances. And if their battlecannons weren’t silenced the Nebula Raiders’ main attack force would be annihilated before it could reach the enemy lines.
“Myrmidons, ready yourselves.” Achilles looked down the slope and saw the sentry guns. Havoc squads with missile launchers and plasma guns were guarding the emplacements. This was going to be mere suicide – exactly the kind of situation he had trained his famous veterans for.
He mustered his men, they were ready. Jump packs donned, power weapons drawn, standing in a tight line, storm shields active. Achilles knew time was short as the vypers would arrive shortly. He nodded to Chaplain Rheas.
“Our allies depend on us. Humanity depends in us! We are Narua incarnate. We are the scourge for the traitors and the hope for all those who refuse to bow their heads. Iudice Fortuna coeptat pugnam!” Rheas briefed the vanguard assault marines shortly before they charged from their cover and used their jump packs to close in with the enemy gunline as quickly as possible.
Perfect discipline kept them alive, as their tight shieldwall formation shrugged of shells and deflected grenades left and right. The heavy enemy fire found its victims nonetheless, and blasts and clouds of super-heated gases blew holes into the shield wall. But the Myrmidons ignored their casualties, closing every gap as quickly as it came into being, not slowing down or looking back.
When they were close the shieldwall was lowered to enable the second row to fire a salvo of shots from their plasma pistols, wrecking havoc among the enemy lines, thinning out their first rank that had already dropped its guns, picked up pistol and close combat weapon and positioned itself in combat stance, ready to intercept and clash with the Raiders.
The second file of gunners was less prepared though, surprised at the sudden loss of their safety buffer. The Myrmidons dropped their storm shields and hurled themselves at the dreaded Chaos Space Marines. Lightning claws, power swords, axes and fists slashing right through the enemy’s armor, cutting them down, running them over.
A handful of the veterans didn’t even waste their time killing the havoc teams, instead using their jump packs to catapult themselves right over the traitors onto the sentry guns, rigging them with melta bombs and setting them off immediately.
It was all over in just a few moments. Achilles’ breastplate had been scorched by a plasma shot but he was good. Unlike several of his treasured Myrmidons. He looked around, standing in an ocean of traitor corpses. It had been a slaughterfest once they had reached the enemy lines, but they had suffered heavy casualties on the charge, and the approach route down the slope was plastered with incapacitated Raiders.
They had done it again. ‘Yet at what cost?’ Achilles silently thought to himself. But when the slender vypers of the Eldar boosted past them over his head only moments later he knew that it had been worth it...
* * *
“You have our thanks, Mon-Keigh” the Eldar Farseer said.
The battle had been a tough one, but the forces of Chaos had been crushed on all fronts. Achilles was again standing face to face with the Eldar witch, soldiers of their respective forces waiting warily and suspicious a good dozen steps behind each of them.
“You have held true to your word. We appreciate that” replied Achilles.
Achilles had his helmet tucked away under his left arm, staring the elegant being in the likewise exposed face. A long silence unfolded as the two seemed to lose themselves in each other’s eyes.
“You do know that this... alliance... is temporary?” the Farseer said with a voice much more uncertain than she had intended it to sound.
“I could not have put it any better. I am relieved we agree” Achilles stated with the hint of a sad tone.
Another silence followed and the warriors – Space Marines and Eldar – shifted uneasily from foot to foot, feeling very uncomfortable in this strange situation.
Finally Achilles indicated a bow before the Farseer. “Farewell...” he said, not waiting for a reply. He turned and donned his helmet, walking straight through the ranks of his brethren.
“Embark on the Thunderhawks, men. We’re going home...” he ordered with little enthusiasm, while the Eldar stood unmoved and observed patiently as the Nebula Raiders walked away...
I really like your style of writing mate It's really good
It's great Red! It really is. I love your use of historical characters, and how you've tied in old tactics with the warhammer 40k world. Marines charging with a shieldwall! That is a fantastic image. I would be scared if I were those chaos boys! Just a point on when Tristan delivered 'the emperors mercy' to Scozac; I'm guessing there wasn't an apothecary around? As they normally do things like that.
I find your writings really exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable! Keep it coming Red!