Once more into the breach! part 1 - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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    Senior Member Joker's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
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    Once more into the breach! part 1

    This is the begining of a short story I am working on that has been inspired by another game I play called: Space Empires 5.

    I submit it for critique here because I feel more comfortable with the community at L.O. The overall quality of membership here is much more diversified and reliable a group to bounce certain ideas off of. It is part of an ongoing project of mine that may take several months to narrow down to manuscript form please expect it to be unrefined as far as format.

    Here is part one. any and all feedback will be appreciated so don't holdback.

    The text runs together where there would normally be chapters so be prepared for a continuous story where it would normally be divided. Anyway that's enough of my misgivings and obvious nervousness for now. On to the Fiction piece:

    First of all, thanks to anyone that reads this short story. Unlike the regular "after action" reports this project may take some time to complete due to the nature of the style I plan to use to present it. The story will cover a particularly enjoyable period I experienced during one of my first few games. I let my imagination run away with what I believed was happening at a level more consistant with someone actually experiencing it from the inside. Here's part one.


    Reassignment. That’s what they called it. But the truth of the situation was not lost on anyone involved in the decision. Not from the top down leadership and certainly not on Lt. Seth Jarrod. Reassignment to colony jockey! What a joke.
    That the Articles of Command had been followed was secondary to the end result: Commodore Ellen Sheen was shot dead, and Lt. Seth Jarrod had shot her. Only the fact that Commodore Sheen’s removal from command had saved Iota Fleet from destruction had kept Lt. Jarrod from suffering the fate of a mutineer in wartime.
    That Ellen had been Seth’s fiancée made no difference to the Board of Inquiry in determining the motives behind the shooting. The Commodore had been quite mad and suicidal for some time. It’s the little personal details like those that Seth had been loath to reveal. Ellen had been a good woman once. She was a strong leader and a caring lover. But none of that matters when you’re in command… and you’ve lost your mind.
    The crew had testified that Lt. Jarrod had had no choice, and Seth tried to believe that himself; but found that he could not. Because of Lt. Jarrod’s decision to kill Commodore Sheen and take command of Iota Fleet, the casualties of the Battle of Aldan had been light. The Frigate Nightwing had been crippled but was salvageable. Two dozen crewmembers had been wounded on that boat and fourteen had been killed. The Frigates’ Daring and Wayfarer had suffered minor damage with only seven wounded between them; the only other fatalities had been the Commodore; and Lt. Jarrod’s sense of self worth. Under Lt. Jarrod’s command Iota Fleet had engaged in a running battle of retreat back to Empire space, destroying the last enemy vessel shortly before warping home.
    The Board pronounced the shooting “legal and justified under the circumstances? and Lt. Seth Jarrod was proclaimed the “Hero of the Battle of Aldan?, and rewarded with the Silver Star for bravery.
    “If being a ‘Hero’ means feeling like **** and wishing I could undo what I’ve done, then I guess that’s what I am.? was the reply Lt. Jarrod gave when asked if he had anything to add to the Boards findings. It was stricken from the record. And Lt. Seth Jarrod was released from custody.
    Still, there was a price to be paid for killing an Admiral’s daughter, especially when that Admiral was Artimus Sheen, the most highly decorated and competent military mind in the Empire. It was no surprise to Lt. Jarrod when the Admiral came looking to square the books.
    Artimus Sheen was not a physically impressive man, but he radiated an aura of command nonetheless. Everyone in earshot had been taken aback by the ferocity of the blow Sheen dealt Jarrod when they met face to face, except perhaps Jarrod. Seth had made no move to protect himself. Having once been Artimus’s future son-in-law and friend was not going to save him here. Only when the Admiral’s Adjutant General-Dean Stanton had deftly removed Artimus’s gun from the Admiral’s hand did anyone else realize that he had drawn it. What he intended to do with it was not unclear to anyone watching.
    “You’d better pray this assignment kills you, you sorry bastard! Because I’m coming right behind you! Do you hear me! Don’t think I’ll hesitate to kill you myself if you survive!?
    Lt. Jarrod wasn’t sure if the Admiral’s statement was meant to be the more threatening gesture or was it the punctuation mark he used by kicking the prone Lt. squarely in the jaw? Stanton turned the Admiral away and led him out the door. In the end it really didn’t matter to Seth, physical pain meant nothing to a man who’s lost his soul.
    “That’s the biggest damn colony ship I’ve ever seen!? thought Lt. Jarrod as the hover taxi bringing him to his first ‘official’ command rounded the fueling station. When Adjutant Stanton seated beside Lt. Jarrod as his official escort said nothing Seth added, “’Inverness’ is it? Ok, then. Wait! Is that armor plating and Anti-Proton cannons I’m seeing? What the hell is this??
    “That’s right. The ship is 500 kilotons with a 670 armor rating and two state of the art Anti- Proton cannons? said Adjutant Stanton, “the Admiral may want you dead Lt. but he isn’t going to send an unarmed colony ship into disputed space just to do it.?
    “I was told this mission had a low expectancy of success.? Retorted Jarrod.
    “That’s right, and that’s why you’ve been assigned to lead it. Look I’m not going to sugar coat it for you Lt.. The Admiral isn’t the only member of the Empire that would like to see you dead; you can count me amongst them! The only reason I stopped Artemis from killing you yesterday was to save him from making a mistake, not out of any love for your sorry ass! Ellen was loved by a lot of people and deserved better than a coward like you! You have no friends and no family and no one is going to miss you. If you fail in this mission your “Hero? status will be buried with you, and you’ll be remembered as the sorry piece of **** you and I both know you are. But you aren’t going to fail for lack of Fleet support.?
    “Thanks for the vote of confidence.?
    “Get the hell out of my sight!?
    “What about my orders??
    “The Admiral will brief you on secure com once you’re aboard.?

    Taking the time to walk around the huge vessel Lt. Jarrod couldn’t help but be impressed. Everything looked state of the art. The same could be said of the inside of the vessel after Seth finished his full inspection. The flashing ‘incoming signal’ light drew his attention to the command board as he entered the bridge for the first time. Unsurprisingly it was Admiral Sheen. Equally unsurprising was the look of disgust the Admiral’s face twisted into when Lt. Jarrod answered the com.
    “I’ll make this brief. You’re to take the Inverness and rendezvous with the Penal Asteroid 274 in the Herod system. There you will procure your cargo and…?

    “What possible cargo could a mining asteroid have for me??
    “Interrupt me again and you’ll be relieved of command and thrown in the brig for insubordination!? thundered the Admiral. Lt. Jarrod stood quietly.
    “Now, listen closely. You are to secure all the prisoners of that mining camp as colonists and you are to proceed with them to the Aldan system.?
    Lt. Jarrod nearly spoke again but stopped himself when he could see the eagerness in the Admiral’s bearing as he leaned forward to hear any sound from Seth after dropping that little bomb on him. Seth didn’t give in, and the Admiral continued.
    “You are to proceed to Aldan 4 and create a military colony there. Your first order will be to whip together some ground troops; not just for defense but also to keep that rabble you bring with you in line. You will be in hostile territory and I don’t want that colony rebelling. I expect you to have some mineral storage facilities active and that colony producing no less than 10 fighters. Once you have that accomplished that colony had better be building a re-supply depot and prepared to receive additional orders directly from me, as I will be leading a Fleet into that sector personally. Do you have any questions now Lt.??
    “Two questions, sir. First, how am I supposed to convince penal miners to become colonists? And second, what did those men do to receive the same death sentence this suicide mission holds for me??
    “Those penal miners are murderers and rapists and have already been sentenced to life on that asteroid mine; you should relate to them just fine you murdering coward! They are as expendable as you are! You secure them as cargo through any means necessary and carry out my orders! Admiral out!?

    “ The Aldan system!? thought Seth to himself, “This was a suicide mission.? Even though this colony ship was more heavily armed and armored than the last generation Frigate he had served aboard it was still just a colony ship, and a lone colony ship headed into a war zone 3 sectors away from Empire controlled territory at that! Admiral Artemis Sheen said he was going to lead a Fleet into the Aldan system personally but Seth knew what that entailed. Every ship in the Fleet had been ordered to retrofit last month because of advances noted in enemy technology. These retrofits would close those technological gaps, and give the Fleet some noteworthy improvements. But with the current state of the Fleet shipyards and re-supply capacity it would be more than a year before the Admiral had anything even resembling a Fleet to bring to the Aldan system! Lt. Jarrod couldn’t help but feel sorry for the penal miners he was ordered to collect. The end of their life sentences was closer than they anticipated.

    Six hours after docking with Penal Asteroid 274 Lt. Jarrod’s careful work was finally finished. After putting away his space suit he was ready to answer the ‘incoming call’ signal that had been flashing since the clamps had attached themselves to cargo bay four.
    “This is Lt. Seth Jarrod of the Fleet colony ship Inverness answering P.A….?
    “Who the hell are you and why the hell haven’t you answered the com?!? shouted the frenzied looking man on the view screen.
    “Sorry for the communications blackout but I just got the com system fixed.? he lied.
    “Send Fleet confirmation codes, Inverness.?
    “ Roger that P.A. 274 codes sent.?
    “Codes accepted Inverness. Now, do you mind explaining what the hell are you doing here and with a colony ship no less? Our next freighter isn’t due for another two weeks? Are you bringing more inmates?? queried the less frenzied man.
    “Not quite P.A. 274. I have an announcement that all inmates are required to hear. Fleet orders. Have the sector leaders assembled in the cargo bays. Inverness out.?
    “Roger Inverness, P.A. 274 out.?
    Penal Asteroids are unique among the prisons in the Empire. The inmates literally run the asylum. The arrangement is simple. The locations are all highly secret and even if civilian traffic ever did happen upon one, the airlocks only open to Fleet codes. Once a month a Fleet freighter arrives and hauls off the collected cargo.

    If any failure to comply with penal rules is noted by the monthly freighter’s Captain, that Captain is authorized to send the Fleet code to void the asteroids atmosphere into space, no questions asked. The inmates all know the score, and; to date, no freighter Captain has had to utilize those codes.
    Lt. Jarrod had no such codes and would have to use other means to convince these miners to become colonists. The cargo bay was packed with P.A. 274’s sector leaders and the com system linking all the similar cargo bays on P.A. 274 to the microphone on the podium in front of Lt. Jarrod.
    All told, the inhabitants of P.A 274 numbered roughly a quarter of a million men. Trying to get that many people to give up their lives here only to literally give up their lives somewhere else wasn’t going to be easy. It was a tough crowd and admittedly a tough sell, but Seth had his orders.
    After Seth had finished laying it out for them there was notable agitation in the crowd of inmates. Shouts of, “You said Aldan 4 was in enemy territory?? and “We aren’t in Fleet, you can’t order us around!? and “What the hell makes you think we would want to give up our lives here?? and “Yeah this ain’t much but it’s our home now!?
    The inmates were close to rioting, but Seth held his ground. He was waiting for the one comment he knew was bound to come, the one that would unify the inmates against him. So when one of the sector leaders pushed forward towards Seth menacingly, waving his hands to quiet down the crowd so he could be heard, Seth was ready for him.
    “You got nothing to offer us Fleet, and we aren’t budging. You take that colony ship and you shove off! We’re staying here!?
    Another second and the hostile crowd would be moving forward, turning the com system to it’s highest setting sent the feedback sound screeching through the air, it gave the inmates pause and it give Seth the silence he needed
    “Well, I can offer you freedom." countered Lt. Jarrod smoothly, “Every man that comes to Aldan 4 will receive a full pardon. I’ve been authorized to offer whatever is necessary to convince you to become colonists.?
    “You’re only offering us the chance to die there, what good is freedom if you’re dead?? replied the sector leader, but he knew his momentum was gone and the crowd had lost much of the edge it had in it moments before. The mood was still murderous, and Seth knew he was cornered.
    “I’m also offering you the chance to live free on Aldan 4 if we survive,? replied Lt. Jarrod, “because Aldan 4 has something that P.A. 274 doesn’t have anymore…? with that Seth held up the detonator he had been fingering loosely in his pocket and pushed the button.
    The charges Lt. Jarrod had spent so much time rigging before this meeting went off as expected. There was only a minor shockwave felt in the cargo bay, but not one inmate failed to note the significance of the alarm klaxons blaring the computerized messages: oxygen storage facility compromised…primary air recyclers compromised…. emergency oxygen supply compromised…
    The sector leaders all looked to Lt. Jarrod now, and the one that been prepared to lead the mob against him spoke clearly if resignedly, “I guess you have your colonists now, Fleet.?
    It wasn’t a particularly orderly evacuation; after all; 250,000 people take time to assemble into cryo chambers. But with the rapidly deteriorating atmosphere as a motivator, it took only 4 days after the initial meeting for the colony module of the Inverness to be in use by the new “volunteer? colonists, P.A. 274 was out of the mining business and Lt. Jarrod’s mission to Aldan 4 could begin in earnest.

    end of part 1.

    Please offer honest and constructive criticism. Honestly though any reply is welcome.

    Thanks again for reading this.

    just my 2 cents


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  3. #2
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    Hey, an interesting start. the first paragraph had me hooked and interested. I've yet to finish this as I'm at work, but so far I like the pace, the grammer is good. My only gripe with it so far is that its all told in past tense, i.e 'the crew had testified' etc, and counts towards being exposition that I know some readers dislike. Perhaps try and place the reader actually there, so he is feeling and hearing what's going on around him.

    Anyhow, I like it and will read more when I get back from work!

    Good job so far :yes:

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