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  1. #1
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    The inky blackness of space seemed infinite, stretching away forever in every direction. Without marks to tell distance, it was easy to become dangerously disoriented on a spacewalk. However, no-one was on spacewalk duty at the moment, because the Imperial Crusade was slicing through the ever-changing mire of reality and insanity known as the Warp.
    "Realspace reversion in negative ten point two seconds," declared an artificially precise voice. The ship was massive, but the voice was everywhere, and the men were accustomed to this ritual- within seconds, every man was steadying himself, whether on the bridge, in one of the serveral mess halls or in the launch bay, prepping the fighters for take-off. With a massive jolt, the ship pushed through the cracks between the dimensions and left the warp behind. In the mess, Pvt. First Class Jacobson's artificially processed oatmeal flew through the air and landed on the wall behind him. He muttered obscenities, picking oatmeal out of his hair, while his mates laughed at him.
    On the bridge, nobody was laughing. This was partially bcause there was nothing to laugh at, and partially because Comissar Jaquen was on the bridge with them. The Comissar was a high-ranking officer sent by the Imperium to watch over the crew and make sure no "acts of heresy" were being committed. He was not deterred at all by the fact that the crew numbered over a hundred thousand; had he been able, he would have watched every single one. Why a Comissar was necessary on this mission Captain Stern couldn't figure out. He was also disturbed by the hooded and robed figures who had been thrust on him by his immediate superior. They never talked except to each other, they ate alone, and they had a secure sector of the ship to bunk down in. The men had circulated rumors ranging from their being Monks of the Emperor to a new breed of disguisable Tyranids. Stern knew the truth- the men were Inquisitors. Whatever else it contained, Orpheus Major had some heresy on it worth investigating. He brought up the planet's datafile again, even as the blue-green orb drifted into view. Orpheus Major. Population 80,000,000- mostly an agri-world. Population divided into three major cities and numerous smaller townships. Largest city, with only starport, Makarta. He had no chance to read anymore as the ship's warning lights flashed. That same artificial voice rang out:
    "Arrival in atmosphere imminent? Engage landing protocol?"
    Stern typed a quick command to the computer, and felt the strain as the massive behemoth that was the Imperial Crusade began to turn. Like a gargantuan Ork Squiggoth, the mighty warship twisted until it sat above the planet , parallel to its equatorial line. Then, slowly, ponderously, the ship began to sink, coming in for a landing.
    "Fire retro thruster!" called Captain Stern.
    "Aye aye, Captain! Thrusters firing!"
    "Secondary thrusters, await my signal. Fire... NOW!"
    "Secondary thrusters online, Captain. Decelerating from Voit Seven as we speak." A Voit was a calculated measure of speed and mass- the speed a ship had to be going to survive a landing. Stern was confident in his bridge crew- they had landed many times before, and this would be no challenge at all. That is, until he saw the landing field.
    "Captain, sir, what the hell is that and where is our landing field?"
    "Looks like that's it, Ensign."
    "WHAT? Emperor on Terra, Captain, but that's *****. Sir. We can't land on a field that size." A new voice joined the discussion.
    "Are we going to have a problem with this landing, Ensign?" Comissar Jaquen seemed to have materialized out of thin air. His malignant whisper was worse than a thousand angry shouts.
    "N-no, S-s-sir," stammered the unfortunate ensign, "N-none at all." The Comissar's mouth twisted into a smile.
    "Good. I wouldn't want to have to make an example out of you." The ensign nodded and smiled, working his controls with an almost religious fervor.
    How dare you threaten my crew, you aristocratic ***** thought Stern, as the ship glided lower.
    "Engage tertiary thrusters."
    "Tertiary thrusters engaged, Captain."
    "Speed is at Voit Five and dropping, Captain."
    "Activate anitgravity array." The AG array was the most important part of landing. Using engines in atmosphere larger than the small thrusters would not only overheat them, it would deafen every human being in a four-mile radius. The AG served to soften the ship's landing, providing a soft cushion instead of a hard tarmac, as it were.
    "AG array active, sir. Speed Voit Two and dropping."
    "Drop landing gear, ensign. And welcome to Orpheus Major."
    "Landing gear down. Speed is Voit One. Glad to be here, Captain." The rest of the bridge crew echoed his sentiments. With a groan of tortured metal, the ship touched down, a little at a time. When it finally stopped, after what seemed like ages, the ship finally stopped moving altogether, and it immediately became the center of a frenzy of action. Ramps unfolded, and men swarmed like bees around a hive, unloading machinery, getting the shi refueled, and unpacking numerous tools for digging emplacements: shovels, picks, bags of ferrocrete, lengths of barbed wire. These were standard issue supplies when traveling to a world as far from Terra as Orpheus Major. Throughout it all, the robed figures stayed sequestered in their bunks, and the Captain and Comissar watched from an antigrav disc.
    "Magnificent, isn't it, Stern?" asked the Comissar. "Shows what men under the Guidign Light of the Emperor are capable of."
    "What? Oh, yeah. Really restores your faith in the Immortal Emperor."
    "My faith does not need restoring, Captain Stern, and yours should not, either."
    It would be so easy to push him over the railing here... It would look like an accident, and the men would back me up, they hate him... But thenhe remembered the robed Inquisitors, sitting silent in their beds, and he shivered. Best not to think such thoughts. Best to wait until he held all the cards. The Inquisitors were still a variable- he had to wait until he had ascertained their true intention and loyalty before making his move. Captain Heinrich Stern was a tolerant man, but he detested the Comissar. And there was something important on this world, something he hadn't been briefed on. He had to know what it was before taking any action. Comissar Jaquen was the wrong kind of man, the kind of man that would get him and his men killed. He needed to be removed, but all Stern could do for now was wait. The hover platform glided down to Earth, and the Captain curse a missed opportunity. He knew, however, he had done the right thing. His inner debate continued even as he blindly followed the Comissar, striding purposefully through the ranks. He didn't want to kill the Comissar- just remove him. But was that possible? And how? Maybe he could win him over to his way of thinking... even as he thought this he knew it was futile. Men like the Comissar didn't just change. He reverted back to the present as the Comissar continued: "...and if a man believes in the Emperor, there in limit to what he can accomplish. Your men seem competent, Captain. Do they have Faith?"
    "Oh, yes. My men? Definitely." Captain Stern suppressed a laugh as he said this- some of his men were more likely to sprout wings and fly away than pray to the Emperor.
    "Good. Tonight, we pray!"
    "What all of us? Er, all of them?"
    "You and me, too, Captain. We must thank the Emperor for our safe landing."
    More like, thank me and my bridge crew! thought Stern, but he simply nodded.
    "Tonight we pray."

    To Be Continued...

    Si em, tow en can de lach.
    Tak! Tak! Tak ah wan, Tak a lah!
    Mi tow, can de lach.
    Mi him, en tow.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member PrOtOcoN's Avatar
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    Ooohh fun..
    We've got some hate going. Some underlying mysteries. Inquisitors on a far away planet (always fun ).

    Good stuff, waiting for the continuation!

    Your fluffraping hurts my eyes. - TehDarkPredator

  4. #3
    Senior Member Arch Magos Tolanus's Avatar
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    Very enjoyable, nice touch with the whole Commisar - Captain hate thing. And good cliff-hanger, what are the Inquisitors there for? What's so important about the planet? These questions are a sign of a good story. Again well done.
    <img src='http://img53.photobucket.com/albums/v163/Tolanus/Tolanus.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

  5. #4
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    The weekend&#33; Part two is coming up either later today or tomorrow. And, as for the Inquisitors... you&#39;ll just have to wait and see&#33;
    Si em, tow en can de lach.
    Tak&#33; Tak&#33; Tak ah wan, Tak a lah&#33;
    Mi tow, can de lach.
    Mi him, en tow.

  6. #5
    Venerable Old One Phobos's Avatar
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    Major error, fluff wise. There are no ships in Imperial service which have a crew of a hundred thousand. Largest known is the reference of the Lord Solar Macharius in Shadow Point, Dictator class, that has a crew of eight thousand.
    "It fits like clothes made out of wasps!"

  7. #6
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    Ha&#33; Ha&#33; Shut up&#33; Seriously, Inquisitor, quit being an anal-retentive and replace all my instances of "a hundred thousand" with "seven thousand" in your head. And then shut up. No one cares that you know everything there is to know about WH40k fluff, but maybe they would if you didn&#39;t alienate people by pointing out meaningless flaws in their stories. Sorry to anyone else who had to read that- I&#39;m calm now. But wouldn&#39;t it bug you if you wrote a story that people liked about, say, bugs, and then someone said "Actually the gestation period of a cicada is closer to sixeen years blah blah blah?" Wouldn&#39;t you just want to hurt them in the face? Ok, now for part two:

    "My brothers&#33; Raise your voices in song to the Immortal Emperor&#33; For from him all life springs; and, in due course, to him it shall return&#33;"
    Unnumbered voices joined the Comissar, both crew members and civilians from the planet. They sang a hymn each had been taught in childhood, a hymn that had been drilled into their heads by parents, proctors, preachers.
    "We lift our heads in joy to the Emperor and worship his divine light..."
    In the back, Captain Stern prayed along with his men, kneeling in supplication. He never pretended to be pious, but he was devoted to the Emperor&#39;s light. He sang in a bass voice, rising above the cacophony of the crowd.
    "Each new day is a blessing from You; protect us with Your might..."
    Comissar Jaquen watched approvingly as the crowds droned on, singing songs half-remembered from childhood. To him, they were the finest chorus of angels ever brought into Divine Being by the Emperor. He raised his hand, and the crowd fell silent. As one, they held their breath, awaiting his next words.
    "My brothers and sisters of the Faith... we have arrived&#33;" A wild cheer came up from the crowd. Hats were thrown into the air, men hooted and applauded. Comissar Jaquen silenced them again with a wave of his gigantic power fist.
    "We are not home free yet. This planet may seem friendly, but underneath its calm facade is a den of thieves, liars and heretics&#33; We may come under attack as soon as we let our guard down&#33; Tonight, we will dig entrenchments." The men seemed let down, like an enormous antigrav field holding them up was suddenly switched off.
    "But, as soon as they are finished... you all get shore leave." The roar erupted again, louder than before, rising up to the night sky. The men swarmed around like ants, unpacking tools and preparing.
    The next morning, Heinrich Stern found himself once again in a hoverdisk with the loathsome Comissar. Below them, men rushed to and fro, digging pits, pouring ferrocrete for bunkers, and conducting field tests on large Sentinals. He looked down and saw a massive slab of construction material being lifted like a toy by a hulking Ogryn. Near him, other Ogryns were sparring or testing their "Rippa" guns, as a team of two of the hulking humanoids pulled a treadless Rhino across the dry plains. Stern didn&#39;t trust the huge metahumans- they were slow in body and mind. However, he had to agree that they were marvelously efficient workers. His glnce fell on a team of normal humans setting ub a stretch of tanglefoot, and he suddenly wondered: where did these things come from? He didn&#39;t remember barricades, caltrops and razorwire on the supplies list for the mission. Obviously, someone had superceded him and requisitioned the materials, but who, and why? And, most importantly, why didn&#39;t they tell him? His first question was easily answered: it had been the Comissar. But why? He felt inspired by a sudden burst of heroism.
    "Comissar, did you or did you not knowlingly circumvent the proper chain of command to obtain entrenchment materials without my consent or knowledge?" he asked.
    For a long time, the Comissar said nothing. Then, slowly, he turned to the Captain and looked him in the eye. For the first time Stern noticed the small tattoo on the Comissar&#39;s neck: a radiant pyramid, symbol of the Emperor, and the Ordo Malleus. The Inquisitors.
    Before he had time to cry out, Jaquen had stuffed a rag over his nose and mouth.
    "Crude but effective," the Inquisitor sneered, "you are just too curious for your own good."
    Stern tried to curse the false Comissar, but no words came out. He felt himself slumping, and the darkness took him.
    Half an hour later, Comissar Jaquen stood alone on the disk. He surveyed the work Captain Stern&#39;s men- no, his men- were doing, and felt pleased. Today seemed like it was going to be a good day indeed.
    Si em, tow en can de lach.
    Tak&#33; Tak&#33; Tak ah wan, Tak a lah&#33;
    Mi tow, can de lach.
    Mi him, en tow.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Arch Magos Tolanus's Avatar
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    Excellent, this story just gets better and better&#33; (and ignore Inquisitor, he just gets grumpy when no one listens to him).
    <img src='http://img53.photobucket.com/albums/v163/Tolanus/Tolanus.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

  9. #8
    Venerable Old One Phobos's Avatar
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    No, I get irritated when people refuse my aid to make them look less ignorant of the warhammer 40k universe.
    "It fits like clothes made out of wasps!"

  10. #9
    Senior Member Arch Magos Tolanus's Avatar
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    I get irritated when people refuse my aid
    Fair enough, But the crew size of an Imperial Ship isn&#39;t well known so you could forgive his little faux pas
    <img src='http://img53.photobucket.com/albums/v163/Tolanus/Tolanus.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

  11. #10
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    Plus, there are nicer ways of pointing out my little discrepancy than saying "Major error, fluff wise." It&#39;s called "social skills." People use them to communicate without offending each other.
    Si em, tow en can de lach.
    Tak&#33; Tak&#33; Tak ah wan, Tak a lah&#33;
    Mi tow, can de lach.
    Mi him, en tow.

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