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Chapter 1: Origins
It was at 6:15 Hive City Jowasha that Laura had her first experience of battle. She was eight years old at the time and going to visit her friend Josh. Laura loved Josh. He was her best friend and one of the cleverest people she knew. He had often astounded her by showing giant diagrams of starships with intricate detail and explaining how each part worked. Laura didn't understand much of what Josh said but he seemed to enjoy it and seeing him happy made her smile.
She turned a corner, following the main alley to Josh's house, just wishing she could explore the area around here, it seemed so complex and made here feel very small. Her mother was always telling her of the bounty hunters that hid in every corner, waiting to snatch people and do terrible things to them. She had asked her mother why someone would be so mean but her mother had turned away, leaving Laura suspicious of the actual amount of danger. However, Laura didn't want to upset her mother so she supressed her desires and carried on walking.
That was when the siren started. Its ear-splitting screech brought Laura to her feet as her young sensitive ears recieved the sound.
"WARNING, A XENOS INVASION HAS BEGUN, PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR HOMES IMMEDIATLY AND WAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCIONS" a voice screamed at Laura. She tried to think but the noice would not let her. Her mind kept fixing on the word, xenos. Aliens. People but not people. Who were they and why were they attacking Jowasha? Her thoughts ran away from here, picuring dark forms with claws and bloodcurdling battle-crys.
Her own scream brought her back to reality. She opened her eyes, the warning had stopped. Young as she was she tried to think responsibly, her mother would want her to. Was her mother's or Josh's house closer? she thought to herself. She glanced around for a sign, any detail that would tell her where she was. The deep fog stopped her from seeing any further than 10 metres around here. There was nothing, no distinct feature, just row upon row of flat buildings. She looked around for a person somebody to ask directions from, but they had all left for their homes. Laura started to panic, if she didn't know where she was she coudn't go to Josh's or her mother's house, she would be left out here for the bitter xenos to catch her and torture her as she'd been taught the would.
She debated with herself whether to walk forwards in the hope that she'd recognize where she was. She was about to start walking when she realized that she could be walking right into the xenos and suffer a terrible fate. She would just have to stay put and hope her father and the other defenders of Jowasha could prevent the xenos from entering the residential area of the city.
She started to cry. The tears ran down her young face, eventually reaching her chin and dropping to the floor. She was paralysed; held in position by the threat of a xenos but wishing she could move. She prayed to the God-Emperor for someone to come and help her.
She looked around and her face lit up. Her prayers had been answered. A humanoid shape was emerging out of the fog, its slender form seeming anxious. Laura was about to cry out when she realized it could be a xenos. But no, xenos didn't look human, they were green or had claws and tentacles, her mother had told her when she had asked.
"Hello," she said, her voice barely audible.
The figure turned quickly towards Laura and glided towards her, almost too quick for Laura to follow. The fog split and Laura gasped at the figure looking down at her. It had two arms, two legs, a body and a head but apart from that the woman in front of her was entirely different from anyone else she had ever seen. Her limbs were stretched, leaving her body a lot more poised than everyone elses. She wore long robes with ornate jewellry on them. She would had looked like a ballerina to Laura if it wasn't for the elongated war helmet and the threatening pistol-like object she held in her hand, pointed directly at Laura's head.
The form stared at her for a few moments longer, but to Laura it felt like time had stopped altogether. Then the woman lowered her weapon and a sweet voice filled Laura's mind, banishing her fear as if it had never been present.
"Go inside child, this is no place for one like you." the voice said, as soft as a lullaby.
"But I don't know where to go," Laura eplained out loud.
The voice filled her head once more, "Go inside the nearest building, your innocent eyes should not see a tragedy such as what will happen today."
"Okay" laura replied, her body moving towards the grey building to her right as if she had no control over it at all. And then Laura felt an agonizing scream peirce her very soul. She turned quickly and saw a giant chainsaw ripping through the woman's body, tearing great chunks of flesh into the street below. Holding the chainsaw was a giant, wearing massive strips of blue metal over his enhanced features. He towered over Laura and she once again prayed to the God-Emperor, however, this time she prayed for her life. The giant touched a buttong on his helmet, his red eyes surveying her.
"Go inside child", a gruff voice said repeated what the slender women had sent to her earlier. But this time Laura was afraid, she coudn't move. The giant waited a few seonds, then placed his chainsaw in a scabbard and picked Laura up in one hand. He walked over to the nearest building and pushed open the door.
Laura was suddenly flung behind him as a ricochet of bullets reflected of the giant.
"By order of the Astartes, ceasefire," the giant said, authority ringing in his voice.
The firing stopped and the giant put Laura on the ground in front of him.
"Lord, I am so sorry, we thought you were one of the xenos. If there is any way we can repay yo..."
"Enough!" the giant shouted. "The Astartes does not recieve payment. I have come here to charge you with the duty of caring for this child untill the seige has finished. Then return her to her home"
"We obey your every word your excellency," the man said.
The giant pushed Laura towards the man, who actually seemed quite muscular now, although he looked like a child net to the giant. He led her over the make shift barricade of a desks into a large empty room.
"Try and get some sleep," he said, handing her a blanket.
"I'm too scared," Laura replied, her whole body shivering at the memory of the woman's body being torn apart by the giant.
"Just try," he said and left the room.
Laura pulled the blanket over her, and despite what she had said, swiftly fell asleep.
I had this idea yesterday when I realized that so little 40k novels feature the citizens of an individual world. How is it so far?
I'll have the second instalment up fairly soon.
Thanks for reading.
Not a bad effort! I quite like the fact you get the view from a civilian - so much 40K fiction is from a soldier's point of view, which is fair enough, but it's good to see another angle occasionally. And I like the way Laura is more scared of the marine than the eldar - probably not far from the truth!
It could do with a proof read - there are a few spelling mistakes and one or two mistyped words, as happens in most writing. Also, just a little bit of advice - watch your commas and sentence structure. There are parts of your piece above that could flow a little better if you tweaked your phrasing here and there.
Looking forward to the next part, though!
Next part (sorry if the font's wrong, I copied it from word and tried to make it right):
Voices. Low voices, murmuring away at each other. Laura tried to wake herself so she could hear what the men where saying. She started to hear cheering, coming loudly from her left. She tried to remember why they would be feeling so happy; she hadn’t fallen asleep at a festival had she? And then her memory came rushing back to her. Her mind played the image of the giant destroying the graceful woman’s body over and over again, growing louder each time. She could remember each tiny detail: the look of shock on the woman’s face, the grim determination of the giant’s eyes, glowing as red as the blood that flowed out of the woman’s body.
Laura screamed and her upper body jerked up from where she had been lying. She looked around and saw several of the men from earlier looking at her. Some faces were filled with genuine concern but others were just curious.
A man stepped forwards and spoke to her, “What’s your name child?” It was the man who had spoken yesterday to the giant. He spoke to Laura in a comforting tone. As far as Laura could tell he seemed to be in charge of the small group of volunteer men.
Laura tried to control herself but couldn’t quite manage it. She whispered to the man, “My name is Laura. I want to go home to my mother. Please take me there.”
“Yes of course”, replied the man. He turned addressing the other men. “Right you lot, party’s over, we need to clean up this mess.” General groans emerged from the crowd but they started to move towards the upturned desks and picking up the paperwork that had been on them.
“Come with me Laura,” the man said with a kinder tone again. “Now where do you live?”
Laura stared blankly at him for a second, trying to remember such a trivial thing. Where did she live?
“43rd row, 27th column,” Laura replied quietly, the address returning to her.
“Good, that’s not far from here, please come with me.”
The man started to walk towards the door; Laura automatically followed him, mainly due to exhaustion, even after her sleep. She knew that she had very little self-willpower remaining.
They passed out of the room and along the thin corridor that was so hazy in Laura’s memories. Out of the door and into the dull street, the man walked and Laura continued to follow. She glanced about the street. Everything around her was the same; it had finally been put into perspective. The grey buildings, row upon row of the giant structures stared bleakly back at her. Something must be terribly wrong for the ‘forces of good’ to have so little good remaining.
She carried on, the man shortening his strides for her short legs. And then they turned the corner to her street and stopped in deadly silence. In front of her, where there should have been her building - with her floor around the middle of it; her mother waiting patiently for new of her - there was nothing. The whole landscape had been flattened, with not even a sign of rubble or corpses. After everything Laura had been through this was too much. She hugged herself and started to cry.
“There there little one, I’m sure everything will be okay,” the man said, dropping down to her level. After a moment of though he said,“Is there anywhere else you could go?”
“I want my mummy,” Laura said, her childish instincts deeply ingrained inside her.
“I’m sure your mummy will turn up soon, Laura, but for now we need somewhere for you to wait for here. Where were you going before the invasion?”
“To my friend Josh’s. I was going to see his new diagam.” Laura said.
“Do you mean diagram Laura?” the man asked in a sweet tone. Laura nodded slowly in agreement.
“Now where does Josh live?” Another soft question from the man, he seemed to be manipulating her, or maybe it was just her being paranoid. No matter who he was, he was Lara’s only solution at this moment.
Laura told the man Josh’s address and they started walking again, only this time the man was holding Laura’s hand, trying to comfort her. It helped a little and Laura tried to slow her tears.
A few minutes later they reached the building that Josh lived in, identical to Laura’s old building had looked like, apart from the different street signs. They walked in and Laura pressed the call button for Josh’s level.
“Yes?” replied Josh’s mother through the speakers.
“It’s Laura,” answered Laura, trying to control the tone of her voice so she didn’t start crying again. “May I come up?”
“Yes of course you can dear; I’m activating the lift for you now.” A red light started to flash next to the call buttons.
“I’ll leave you here then,” the man said, seeming relieved yet worried.
“Thank you,” said Laura, trying to remember her manners.
The man turned around and pushed through the plastic doors. And then he had left Laura’s life. The elevator beep made Laura turn away from where he had just disappeared from, without even telling her his name. She walked into the emotionless elevator and felt the same despair as she had outside. She also felt the feeling of elevation as the elevator rushed up at breakneck speeds. That was strange, their implanted devices were supposed to remove all feelings of vertigo, or so Josh had told her. Maybe it was broken.
This came to nothing though and the elevator stopped at the 234th floor: Josh’s floor.
She knocked on his door and his mother opened it. She took one look at Laura’s dirty clothes and her tear-stained face, then rushed forward and hugged Laura to her. Her warm body felt good against Laura’s shivering form.
“You poor girl, what happened to you?” she asked, closing the door behind them.
Well, looks like Laura may have a good home to go to, should her mother not have lived through the flattening of her hab block.
One trick I've learned to address the font issue - copy your text into something like notepad (a basic ASCII editor, is that the right term for it?) and then copy it in to your post. This does clear out formatting like italics and things, but also gets rid of the font discrepancies (if that bothers you...)
On the writing;
One of the most difficult things I find is to put myself into a character's head and try and rationalise how they would think and act in certain situations. I mention this because you seems to have contradictions in Laura; at one point she's acting through 'deeply ingrained' childish instincts, and later she's suspicious of the soldier who's with her, thinking he could be manipulating her. I'm not sure a child would think like that, unless that too was something that had been deeply ingrained into their nature.
Otherwise, nice work. I can see a few ways this could go from here, and I'm curious to see where you take it! Do you have this story all planned out or are you just working on it as it comes?
I have a sort of plotline in my head but I'm mainly working on it as it comes. There's a couple of reasons that i could use that explain why Laura seems contradictory but I need to develop it in my head before the story will cover it, until then I'll probs try and make her less sophisticated just so its easier to understand.
Sorry this took so long for so short an update, I needed to decide where I was going with Laura and how to make her main character worthy, I think I've started to do this. (also note that Laura now started off as 11, not 8 and so is now 12).
Chapter 2: Doubts
Laura sat up, looking around her at her room. She looked at the calendar on the wall and the date astounded here. Had it really been a whole year since her mother had been lost; since her home had been destroyed and her life ripped apart just like that poor women’s body. She shuddered at the memory as it returned to her mind. Not that it ever left, Laura had been haunted by that silent scream ever since it had happened, and this year hadn’t helped improve that.
Laura heard someone shouting from the next room, “Laura, are you awake yet, breakfast is ready?” Laura smiled; Josh’s mother really was quite nice, despite being infinitely stricter than her own mother had been. Laura suddenly remembered every detail about her parents: her father’s stubbornness and how he had stressed that she must think to survive, for the xenos were clever and without thinking humanity was merely an animal compared to them, waiting to become extinct. She also remembered how caring and loving her mother had been. At the time she had thought her mother was being overly cautious, but she had been right hadn’t she? There was danger everywhere, especially to the normal people.
Laura shook her head o clear her thoughts and tears fell of her. Had she been crying? She couldn’t remember so she wiped off the remaining tears and got dressed into the grey uniform belonging to all children of the Hive City. Laura walked over to her door and opened it. She entered a room that was so lovely it made Laura fill out of place. Josh and his mother were eating at the table; however Josh seemed to be more focused on a large diagram of what looked to be a suit of armour than his dinner.
“What’s that Josh?” Laura inquired politely, the year had done a lot on her, and she couldn’t help being even more formalised than before. This trait seemed to have been repeated throughout the population as people realised that an insult could be the last thing you said to someone. Well most people realised.
“It’s a Space Marine’s power armour; I got the diagram from Grashka.” That explained why Josh was so focused on it, Laura realised. Grashka supplied documents that probably weren’t allowed in the hands of a citizen, especially someone like Josh, who could probably make anything given enough time. Laura went over to have a look and almost fell over backwards. The memory returned, larger than ever, filling her every thought.
“What’s wrong Laura?” Josh asked as he got up to help her.
She couldn’t speak. Her body was on fire. The memory filled her veins with fear, so much fear; and a different emotion, something that the innocent child had never felt before. Laura looked at the diagram and felt hatred coursing through her, giving her strength. She felt all-powerful; she could do anything, the strange energy inside her pulsed like a living organism, waiting to be used. And then she saw Josh and his mother slowly moving away from her. What was she doing, she was only twelve; she must control herself.
Laura looked away from the picture and her anger slowly subsided. Without turning around she said, “Can you put that away please?”
“Yes of course dear,” Laura’s mother replied. “We wouldn’t want to frighten you. Josh, do you mind?
“No of course not mother, I don’t want Laura to be hurt.”
After she heard a door close Laura turned around and went over to Josh’s mother. She hugged her, suddenly feeling like the adult, with Josh’s mother looking simply shocked. They stayed in that position until Josh came back in. The pair of them then separated and sat at the table. Laura started to pick at her food, not feeling hungry at all. No-one said anything, they just ate their food. Laura couldn’t cope, she had caused this situation.
“I think I’ll go to the education area now, if that’s okay?” she asked, trying to escape.
“Yes, of course dear,” Josh’s mother replied slowly after a moment of hesitation.
Laura stood up, went over to Josh’s mother, hugged her and whispered to her, “Thank you, for everything” and then walked out without looking back.
p.s. is it just me, or do some of these bits feel a bit, rushed... It seems to read a bit quickly and jerkily but that may be jsut because I know what the next sentences are before i read them.
Thanks and hope you are enjoying it.
Last edited by Sancraer; February 2nd, 2010 at 01:27.
Hi readers (if there are any anymore).
Just wanted to say sorry that there has been no updates for over a month, I've found that I need to plan out the next few chapters and sort of the whole story so it doesn't end too quickly. Also I am really busy.
From now on the story will be posted in chapters, to avoid the discontinuity previously made. To make the layout better, consider all but the last post a named prelude, and the last post chapter 1.
Next update will probably be early april, as it is a holiday time then so I won't be as occupied.
Thanks for putting up with this and please post your thoughts so far.
This is the first story I've read on this forum and it's been very enjoyable. It's great to see someone do something different, and you're certainly doing something different.
Personally, I think that the thing you should change most is the fact that you don't have breaks between your paragraphs. It's much, much easier to read online when they're there. I know it's often annoying to go through and change everything, but with a story as long (so far) as yours, I think it would definately help.
There's not much more for me to say, except keep writing! I want to see more of this.
Thanks for the input, this is my first story and I'm trying to make it at least half-decent. You should also definetely read some others, as a lot of people here have much more practice than me.
Just so you know, I've decided to plan out the storyline a bit more, so I can develop the plot and stop rushing between new ideas before I forget them. Unfortunately for readers, this means that the next instalment might take a while, but I should have it done by the end of the month (it will also be longer than th previous ones and hopefully seem more structured.
p.s. I'll make sure I split the paragraphs.