I made this thread as a place where i can post my 1000 word short stories in anticipation of next years 'Tales from the Great Crusade' competition.
Hopefully i can get my standards up to a level where at least they won't look comical next to the insanely great standards of past years!
Comments and criticism very welcome, be as harsh as you can! :P
Anyway, without further ado...
That had been his last thought before an overloading plasma reactor had boiled his mortal remains into nothing more than superheated base elements.
Corporal Demius of the Imperial Navy’s elite security detachment on board the Lunar class cruiser Dominus had wondered Why? several times in the last few minutes of his life.
It had all started while the Dominus was in orbit above the planet of Sapheris Prime, as part of its patrol route in the Aperion sector, protecting the crusades supply lines as it pushed out into what were known as the Halo stars. Demius had been on the bridge of the redoubtable cruiser when an alarm sounded indicating a warp breach in the void within 750,000,000 kilometres, or about five Earth standard astronomical units, of the Dominus. Through this hole in reality had slipped a sleek strike cruiser of the Adeptus Astartes.
Demius thought of these warriors with the same adoration the heathen tribes of countless worlds reserved for their false deities. Demi-gods forged by the Emperors own hand, tempered in the fires of countless battles, destined to never know fear.
The strike cruiser sped towards the Dominus, slowing from its breakneck entry to the real world. The Captain requested the ships identity and was answered almost instantly by one of the bridge crew, ‘Sir, surveyors report it as the Fastidious of the Emperors Children Astartes legion.’
‘Open a channel and let us greet the great warriors of the space marines shall we.’ The Captain ordered gleefully, just as excited as Demius.
‘Sir, it’s... uh...’
‘Out with it!’
‘Their not responding to our vox. Sir, they are actively blocking our vox-net.’ The young officer looked baffled towards the Captain. The Captains disconcerted face took on a new gravitas as he gave his next order, his eyes widening as he studied the holo-table intently. ‘Standby to ignite shields and main thrusters. Helm, i want us nose first at that ship. Gunnery, i want firing solutions as soon as i give the order and not before.’ The deck officers looked perplexed, and glanced at one another, silently questioning the Captains seemingly irrational orders. Seeing the sluggish response of his officers the Captain bellowed, ‘Do you not see!? They are on an attack vector! Hurry!’ The agitation plain as day in the Captains manner. The orders were now being prosecuted with a swift professionalism that the now seemingly imminent conflict instilled in the multitudinous bridge crew. Demius had moved to join the rest of his fire-team as this dramatic turn of events unfolded. The Astartes mean to attack us, he thought, confused. Why?
He pressed the vox stud on his chest to contact his immediate superiors, and was met with a squealing hiss of static washing through the earpiece he wore. Pulling it free he looked back at the four men under his command. ‘Right, we will hold here. The bridge is one of the most vital area’s of this ship, and we will defend it. With our lives if necessary.’ The assembled men nodded solemnly. They had all seen combat before in many xenos vessels. In the cramped corridors of the Forguula, the wide avenues of the Ya’maaj, and the ramshackle gangways of the Ork. They had beaten some of mankind’s most terrible enemies, but they now were faced with the possibility of facing the one foe who were never meant to be called enemy. Astartes, traitors... It should not be possible. Why?
Demius heard the Captain roaring orders as the ship shook from weapon impacts. They have actually attacked us... Demius’s mind reeled. He knew there was only one way this battle could end. The Dominus was a mighty vessel, larger than the strike cruiser closing on it. But if the deadly cargo of the Fastidious were to board the Dominus then it would all be over very quickly. Demius knew this. He had seen it before.
Within fifteen minutes the damage control crews were reporting major damage, by runner, to the bridge. The latest runner was breathlessly reporting to the captain, clutching his knees as his lungs sought more oxygen. ‘Maneuvering thrusters out... Port shields out... Can’t relight... Section 32 through 37... All decks gone... Fire... Sir.’ The runner forced a salute, and turned to the hatch at the back of the bridge, disappearing as swiftly as he had come.
‘Captain! Boarding pods!’ Came a shout from the tumult of the bridge. The Captain looked darkly at Demius. ‘Corporal, seal the hatch please.’ forcing his voice to be steady. He too now knew it to be only a matter of time.
Minutes later several large explosions shook the back bulkhead of the bridge, and the chugging sounds of bolters could be heard. Huge impacts made the hatch convulse and deform, screeching off of its hinges. A hugely armoured monster stood in its place. Spread it’s purple arms wide as Demius’s shotcannon bucked in his hands, the buckshot pinging uselessly off of the colossal armour. Demius racked the slide twice ejecting the spent shell, and then another unspent buckshot cartridge. Sliding the pump arm forward, the heavy slug cartridge was pushed into the breach. ‘Ave it!’ Demius screamed as he pulled the trigger.
He saw it all.
He saw the sights of his shotcannon line up on the soft joint between the helmet and the breastplate.
He saw the slug streak towards the gap, twisting through the contrails of the other armsmen’s rounds.
He saw it glance off of the edge of the warriors pauldron, deforming as it crushed into the faceplate of the helmet.
He saw it leave little more than a dent.
He saw the warrior turn his bolter towards him. And fire. Why?
Demius awoke minutes later, mewling from the pain of his destroyed side. The bolt shell had caught him a glancing blow, and had tore most of his left side away, exposing the glistening, pulsing organs that leaked his life blood away. A deep rumble shook the ship.
1000 words. Ok, did this one in about an hour after re-reading through this years competition entries. Got some inspiration to write and got fixated on the word 'Why'.
‘Set and active.’
‘Online, on safe.’
‘Okay, preflight completed.’
The flip of a switch on the vox panel.
‘Hawk flight, call it in.’
‘Hawk Three, go.’
‘Hawk Four, we’re good to go.’
‘Hawk Two, yeah we’re good.’
Another flick of the switch.
‘Bay two control, this is Stormbird one-nine-three, call-sign Hawk One, lead of Hawk Flight. Flight of four stormbirds. Over.’
‘Hawk One, go-ahead.’
‘Hawk One, confirming Hawk Flight ready for launch, over.’
‘Hawk Flight, bay doors opening.’
‘Hawk One, Roger’
‘Hawk Flight, voids disengaged. You are cleared for launch. Good hunting.’
‘Thank you control, launching now.’
The switch is flicked back.
‘Hawk Flight, Hawk One. We are cleared for launch. Staggered launch, on my count. Five, four, three, two, one.’
The crushing force of acceleration followed by the weightlessness of the void as the midnight black stormbird stops accelerating, and leaves the embrace of the Harbinger’s artificial gravity. The rest of Hawk flight launch at one second intervals, falling into an extended echelon formation off of Hawk One’s left wing.
‘Hawk Flight, Hawk One, tighten it up.’ A chorus of affirmative replies meet the order.
‘We’ve had reports of heavy fire over the drop zone, so be prepared to take evasive action.’ Again a chorus of replies, with a few chuckles.
The stormbird is a sleek and beautiful craft, capable of void and atmospheric flight. It has forward sweeping wings, a cargo compartment large enough to carry up to 100 combat ready space marines, and enough offensive firepower to raze an entire hab block to nothing more than rubble. But it lacks the true maneuverability of the much smaller thunderhawk, and the idea of evasive maneuvers brings a grim smile to the lips of the veteran pilots.
The pilots of the Astartes legion stormbirds and thunderhawks were all, normally, fully trained space marines. They had the same lighting reactions and analytical thinking that allowed their tactics to work so effectively on the ground. But these specialised marines used those skills to safely deliver their battle brothers, and the necessary supplies they will need, directly into the heart of the fight.
The pilot of Hawk One is Fenesal Obek, of the Dark Angels legion. ‘Hawk Flight, arm weapons.’ With a nod to his co-pilot, Knait Sophas, who flips the corresponding switch hidden amongst the huge rows of switches and dials that covered much of the cockpit. The two servitors hardwired into stations behind the Astartes, bleep and chatter as data packets are inloaded as the weapons systems come online and start feeding data to them.
‘Atmospheric insertion point reached.’ Sophas reports to his pilot.
‘Roger, Hawk Flight follow us down.’
The stormbird bucks and rattles as it punches into the wispy upper atmosphere of the planet below. This un-named planet had been terraformed during the first tentative explorations of the galaxy. It pained Obek to know that the enemy of this operation were human.
The illumination of the secular truth the Astartes bore had not been well received by the local populace, who had ambushed the negotiation party and murdered the three iterators, the twenty strong bodyguard of the Imperial Army and, unbelievably, the one Dark Angel sent with the party.
For spilling the blood of twenty four true Imperial servants, the planet below would pay a heavy price.
‘Airbrakes!’ Obek calls over the vox to Sophas. The noise in the cockpit beginning to verge on uncomfortable as the rush of the rapidly thickening atmosphere outside the craft increases in volume.
‘Airbrakes set!’ Comes the reply.
‘Unlock atmospheric surfaces!’
A bump and a wobble as the moveable surfaces located on the edges of the wings and tail engage.
‘Restrict thruster input!’
‘Restrictor in place!’
‘Roger, airspeed decreasing. Hawk Flight, level out and proceed to your designated landing zones.’
The rest of Hawk Flight confirm the order as the deafening roar of the wind dies down with the drop in velocity.
A flick of a switch to the internal vox system.
‘Captain Hadrin have your men ready to disembark imminently.’
‘Roger.’ Came the distorted reply.
‘Sophas, keep a lookout for triple-A. We’re going to go in fast, burn hard, get these guys out, and be out of there as quickly as possible.’ Obek says, banking the stormbird to get a look out of the side window at the landing zone. Tracers zipped over, and mud fountains around, the small, flat patch of ground he has to land on.
‘Okay,’ switching to the ground vox frequency. ‘Attention, this is Hawk One committing to landing zone Four-Alpha.’
‘Roger that, landing zone is hot, repeat landing zone is hot.’ came a crackling reply from the ground.
‘Acknowledged ground, skids down in thirty.’ Thirty second until they were on the ground.
Obek banks the stormbird onto it final approach and nurses the throttles to get the lumbering craft into position.
A smack in the face, as the powerful retro motors built into the base of the stormbird fire and arrest its fall towards the ground, and deliver it with a jerking thud directly into the centre of the landing zone.
‘Hadrin, go!’ Obek orders, as Sophas hits the ramp release button.
Marines stream onto the battlefield, some collapsing as they exit, falling prey to the powerful weapons of the enemy.
‘Okay, thats it!’ Obek calls, watching the pict feeds from the cargo bay.
Sophas mashes the ramp closure stud as Obek starts to lift off. Something hits the stormbird in the tail and it wobbles. ‘Go! Go! Go!’ Urges Sophas as Obek opens the throttles of the mighty engines.
Less than an hour later the reformed Hawk Flight was approaching the port side hangar bays of the Harbinger, ready to ferry another load of Dark Angles to the surface of that forsaken planet.
For the twenty four, millions will perish.
1000 words. Not much to say about this one, again written in about an hour. I like the idea of the pilots of the craft we always see diving into the thick of the action to deliver their deadly payload. Its odd how they aren't even usually named characters just the 'two dudes flying' :P I though i might try a different perspective to most fiction, writing in the present tense rather than the past tense... not sure if i got it on the nose, but i like the idea.