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#1
Evz

Evz

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I am a troubled man. My profession is even more troublesome. I stood on a viewing deck aboard Port Noct, a vast station in the void between the Kurgan worlds. I took a pull on the lho stick in my mouth as my contact wandered up to me. Smiled at her. She grimaced at the mere sight of me. The Inquisitorial agent now coming to a mere bounty hunter.

"Walk with me." I nodded and pulled on the lho again, falling into step as we wandered down the void-terrace. "Lord Ivar has need of you."

"Aye, and why has Lord Ivar not come to me himself? Why hasn't he invited me to see him personally?"

"Because he is a Lord Inquisitor and that kind of thing is beneath him. This is a suitable location for recruitment as any," she waved her hand to the vast shantytown where void-born serfs lived their lives in the slums of a space station. Of course, I thought.

"Beautiful. I am sure he is a wonderful man."

"You are lucky I stand sarcasm. The target is on one of the Kurgan worlds, of course. You are familiar?"

"Aye. I know this is frontier space to the Imperium. I have heard talk in the taverns that pirates and raiders have set their sites on these planets. Easy pickings. Very lightly-defended. I know the truth is an armada of Legionaries are en-route to conquer the place and are using it as a jump-point to take the fatter systems nearby." The woman was stunned, silent.

"You have intercepted our communications, then."

"Aye, I have an expert in that area. I'm a no-stone-unturned kind of guy." I tossed the spent lho stick to the ground and stepped on it, proceeding to open my flak vest and lit another stick.

"Rude. Well, you are in this now. There is no abandoning the operation, then."

"Or I die."

"Or you die."

"Good. Where can I get started?"

"There is a cult belonging to an agent of the legion on Mortia VI. They are operating within the capital city, if it can be called that, and are feeding intel to the armada. Take them out."

"You don't have people for this?"

"Right now, you are our people."

"And what about the armada itself?" I blew out a puff of smoke to hide the absolute fear within me. I knew what we were fighting, and I did not like it.

"Right now, that is Ordos business. Go." I grunted, nodded, and left.

"Anything to get off this damn thing," I waved goodbye and returned to my borrowed flat by the docking bay, where the armed freighter Lion's Claw was clamped into the station's hold.

 

It was a small ship, but it got me and the rest of the crew where they needed to go, and was helmed by a less-than-famous Rogue Trader Djanko Hakkon. The man needed to desperately resupply when we had arrived as well. This is going to be an interesting run. I have stepped up from chasing pirates and gangers to fighting a cult. Damn. I went through my things I had brought ashore. A shortsword of which I was too familiar with, my old combat shotgun, taken from a pirate vessel, a bolt pistol and that was that. I stopped by a small hub in the slums while en-route to the docks where I picked up a few more packs of lho-sticks and a few cigars as a gift for Hakkon. He'd enjoy them, he loved cigars. I took my gear and found the Claw awaiting me.

"Hey! We're ready to get going a day ago." cried Tholt, the Squat voidsman at me. I shrugged.

"Business deemed I had to wait a day late. Sorry." I tossed the little guy a cigar.

"You're lucky I don't keelhaul you."

"You're right I am." I made my way straight to the bridge, explained Hakkon the business. Told him it was important. We're all in this business together. We all split the profits. There's a reason we're in a frigate and not a star galleon.

 

"We are lackeys of the Ordos now, Ask. Hmm?"

"It would seem so." I shrugged, offering him the cigars. He took them with a grin and a bow.

"Well then. I can give you a compliment of my guardsmen and-"

"I don't need a compliment to help me out where I'm going. We need to make for Mortia VI."

"That's quite the hellish place or so I've been told."

"Well good that means we're getting closer to our quarry." I cracked my neck. "When can we be ready?"

"We can move out now, we'll be there in less than a week."

"Good. Throne. Let's get a move on. I don't want to be there more than I'd have to be."

 

And that is the worst part. The calm before the storm. In a tin can floating in an empty, cold void.


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#2
Suspicious Blue Mind

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Not bad for an opening segment. I definitely want to read more. 

 

One small tip for posting on a forum like this. Try putting a space between lines, it makes it easier to read. Anything that helps readers, will help to keep readers coming back. msn-wink.gif

 

Suspicious Blue Mind



#3
Tarvek Val

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This is a very nice start to your story, and I am eager to read more.

 

There is one thing I would recommend clearing up. During the time of the Horus Heresy, the Space Marine forces were called "Legions," post-Heresy they were divided up into "Chapters." The Inquisition was created post-Heresy. Thus, it would seem that the 'legions' referenced in the piece would likely be referred to as 'Astartes' rather than 'Legionaries."

 

 

 

 

"Aye. I know this is frontier space to the Imperium. I have heard talk in the taverns that pirates and raiders have set their sites on these planets. Easy pickings. Very lightly-defended. I know the truth is an armada of Legionaries are en-route to conquer the place and are using it as a jump-point to take the fatter systems nearby."

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   There is a cult belonging to an agent of the legion on Mortia VI.

 

 

Alternately, if the Astartes in question are of a Traitor Legion, simply mentioning that  would clear the matter up. A very minor nitpick, of course — looking forward to the next segment. biggrin.png


"Our holy hatred will make us free!" ~Nameless Dark Apostle

 

"Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire." ~Huron Blackheart

 

"You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father's failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords." ~Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter

 

"So... How are you?" ~Cyrion, First Claw

 

 


#4
Evz

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This is a very nice start to your story, and I am eager to read more.

 

There is one thing I would recommend clearing up. During the time of the Horus Heresy, the Space Marine forces were called "Legions," post-Heresy they were divided up into "Chapters." The Inquisition was created post-Heresy. Thus, it would seem that the 'legions' referenced in the piece would likely be referred to as 'Astartes' rather than 'Legionaries."

 

 

 

 

"Aye. I know this is frontier space to the Imperium. I have heard talk in the taverns that pirates and raiders have set their sites on these planets. Easy pickings. Very lightly-defended. I know the truth is an armada of Legionaries are en-route to conquer the place and are using it as a jump-point to take the fatter systems nearby."

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   There is a cult belonging to an agent of the legion on Mortia VI.

 

 

Alternately, if the Astartes in question are of a Traitor Legion, simply mentioning that  would clear the matter up. A very minor nitpick, of course — looking forward to the next segment. biggrin.png

(Oh no, they are of traitor stock hahaha)

 

The ride to the planet was short. Port Noct was in the vicinity, the astral commute took only three days of time. The majority I can honestly say I had spent prepping my gear and drinking. Lots of drinking. Hakkon stocks up on alcoholic beverages every stop. Mortia VI is a Feudal World, one Imperial colony present with a spaceport. The planet's capital, as mentioned by the Lady Interrogator, was Forkli, a coastal city erected at the mouth of the Shantok river. Thankfully the spaceport was nearby. This region was known to the locals as the River Cities as a metropolitan area had sprung up along the twisting snake of a river through the Broken Vale.

 

The Argus lander set down in a dusty docking bay full to the brim with supplies. Tholt, Brog and I stepped off. Brog was a big man, a techno-barbarian from Salrania. A giant combat knife was slung over his back and an autopistol was at his hip. Tholt carried a boltgun slung over his muscular shoulders. These two were all I needed really, the others could stay on the ship. Then Eli showed up. Eli was a man in a dark green cloak with a longsword dangling from his side, his own stubgun holstered at his hip beneath his outwerwear.

"Eli I don't need you for this one, really. We're scouting the area, you can wait in the lander."

"Nah I thought I'd rather come along." The man said in a cold, serious tone while removing his hat, revealing the shining scalp beneath. He looked around as a baking-hot breeze wafted through the open hangar bay. Servitors and attendants began refueling the shuttle. Hakkon himself wandered off, his leather greatcoat flowing in the breeze along with his wild topknot.

"Take him, Ask. Damn it, the man is better off not around me. I can't stand attempting to be social with a man who is so anti-social..." The rogue trader was right. Eli was quiet unless he had something important to say. Eli put his wide-brimmed leather hat back upon his shaven skull. I nodded, too exhausted from spending months in void-borne confinement. Cabin fever drives me mad. You need to be used to living on a ship, I don't understand how some can stand it without losing mind.

"Aye, sure." I pulled out a lho stick, adjusted my horned helmet I won in a fighting ring on Necromunda, and started off to the archway leading out.

The port itself was full of the Imperial common man. People in rags and tunics littered the dry and sandy city streets. I took my three pals in through the port district, the trading district, the immense and densely-populated temple district and finally to the Crimson Gate, the southwest-facing gate leading out into the wasteland of Mortia VI separating the port from capital. Here we did a final check on all gear, checked in at an inn before sundown, and got absolutely hammered as the planet's star dipped below the horizon. Many glasses of sacra and rotgut later we were sprawled out in our room's floor. The next morning before the sun rose in the pale sky we were boarding a track-wagon to take us across the badlands. The ride was along a trade-lane just alongside the river. I watched the enormous serpents slither and glide through the murky waters. The beasts were terrifying, but a local delicacy.

 

The capital of Zeunium loomed ahead, rising up from the horizon like a mass of glittering needles. The track-wagon pulled in through their gates. I noticed something immediately, all of the gate militia and PDF troopers did not look us in the eye. They seemed exhausted and scared, anxious even. I saw shaking hands grasping a lasgun for dear life. Something was up. To finish my point, the wagon turned about as soon as we had grabbed the last of our gear and sped off back northwest. He did not even say goodbye. The man had been nervous as soon as we mentioned the destination. By the time he had left he was red in the face, sweating like mad.

 

Tholt, Eli, Brog and I wandered to the nearest tavern to gain information. No one wanted to talk about anything suspicious. From what I have learned of the region since arrival, the entire populace works either in fishing or mining. The area west of the city was riddled with mines for ore. I had no other leads. And then I discovered the Skull. The Skull was apparently an ancient gladiatorial arena in the near-center of the city. We got an inn room nearby and visited the Skull once a day to watch fights and investigate. The combatants were strange techno-barbarian men and pit slaves, but these were no ordinary fights. These people were brutally slaughtering one another in insane ways. There was no honor in the fights, the crowd cheered wildly. I wandered around the entire interior of the building in an inconspicuous manner. All I could find were smelling serfs and walls covered in strange runes, faded out by the ages. Most symbols were that of a heavily-stylized skull in ruby outlined in what seemed to be brass. The information fed to him matched this symbol, and I was more horrified. The Beast was what we called this strange, maddened god back home.

 

This was not an arena, but an unholy temple.

 

Before returning to the inn, I meandered down to the prison-pits, where the gladiators lived. This place seemed a butcher's shop. Screaming men were being torn apart and thrown together with bionics. The awful rooms were coated in dried blood and the far-off walls were adorned with skulls, each with a small 8 carved into its frontal bone. 


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#5
Evz

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I returned with Tholt the next morning, early morning. None were out save for the herbivorous beasts attempting to find food in the badlands before the sun rose along with the predators from their slumber. The etchings on the wall had vanished. I went up and down that entire hallway. It looked clean, like it was new. Not a chip. No wear. No blood. No ancient hieroglyphics. I ran a hand through my beard. Tholt was confused.

"We can stop at the tavern on the way back." the Squat suggested, tucking his thumbs into his wide leather belt.

"Aye. That would do us both good. I feel stressed let me tell you..." and we left right before the stadium attendants and serfs arrived to prepare the great stadium for the day's bouts. We melted into the crowd, passing the throng and entered the Baking Sword. The Sword was built mostly from the wreckage of a Sword Class Frigate millennia ago, the vessel had erupted while defending Mortia VI in a battle against some xenos raiders. We walked in. No one looked up through the smoky interior save for the few burly men by the door. We sat, got drinks. Started getting drunk. In the corner I saw a man who was sitting alone, drinking shot after shot of drink. He was a regular frontier punk. Mohawk, a padded vest, had a bow and a sword. Very well-equipped for a regular peasant. I left Tholt with the tab and introduced myself.

"Name's Karl Huss."

"A pleasure. What is it you do here, mate?"

"Why are you so curious about me mate?"

"Because, mate. You look over-equipped to work in a mine. And you're not a guard of the PDF. You a gangster?"

"Nah mate. I'm a badlander, a ranger. I watch over the badlands outside the city, escort track-wagons between here and the port and I fight the raiders out there."

"I'm a bounty hunter. I'm guessing you know this area well then?"

"Like the back of my hand. Who you after? I know mostly the folk outside the walls, but can talk to the tavernkeeper if you need info about the capital."

"I don't know who my target is. I just know there are things going on here in Forkli that are unnatural."

"So then, you too have felt it? The unease? It's like a fog in the city. I have never seen the guards so terrified."

"Karl, would you help me?"

"Aye. But alas, it will cost you."

"Name the price."

"I will after I find out how much this bloody tab is. It is leagues long." he laughed heartily. "I will join you. Get you info, guide you. Whatever. Can't pay worse than mercenary work for the gangs and tribes outside the walls."

"Sure sure. What you know about the Skull?"

"It's an arena to keep the people happy. They take the criminals and force em to fight. Also have pit slaves from the mines and mercenaries fight too. Most of the mercs are willing participants."

"I'm sure..." I leaned back, taking a shot of my own. "Know anyone religious whom works at the arena?" I rose an eyebrow.

"This may be the frontier but it is still Imperial space. Even the bandits in the brush-forests worship the God Emperor above all!" He threw a hang up. I waited for him to finish.

"I meant out of the ordinary rituals, strange symbols and acts. Dress. Anything out of the ordinary?"

"I shall ask. Talk to me tonight." he got up, grabbed a cloak and left. I returned to the bar with my short companion.


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#6
Brother Lunkhead

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Nice work Brother Evzthumbsup.gif The spare staccato dialogue is very appealing, very reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett.

 

Nitpickery:

 

Hidden Content

 

Looking forward to seeing moreyes.gif


Edited by Brother Lunkhead, 31 July 2020 - 08:33 PM.

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#7
Evz

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Karl had met with us later that night, several hours after midnight.

 

"Ask," Karl had said, stumbling into the shed we called a temporary home. The man was not in his usual dress, but in a dark cloak.

 

"Aye? Do you have information?"

 

"I do. The Skull. They've been doing sacrifices in there, of the prisoners and slaves. The ones who lose the bouts."

 

"The ones who survive, then." I said, sitting down, Karl entered and leaned against the wall.

 

"Yes. Four years ago, they would have given them stimulants and painkillers, even cheap bionics to help them keep going, to make money and to make the crowds roar. This is not for that. I saw strange ghosts in the district. Beastial things. They drifted from shadow to shadow, they were horrid things. I nearly shanked a drunkard on my way here." he pulled his hood down, exposing his sweat-slick face.

 

"Ghosts, you say?" I leaned back, looking at Tholt. Brog was of course asleep, and Eli was sitting, watching out the dusty window.

 

"I see em, Ask. He's right." Eli turned his head just slightly, not taking his eyes from the window. "Bolt the door would you?" Tholt nodded with a grunt, waking Brog with a swift kick as he hopped over to the door to close it, ensuring the five locks and bolts were in place. Eli nodded sagely.

 

"What're they?" I peered over the man's shoulder, into the dirty street. A fog had rolled in. There were no people, just a few shadows. Whisps of white and black in the darkness.

 

"There." Eli pointed. I followed. I saw a small distortion of the fog. "These are what lie in the corner of the eye." Eli pulled out his stubgun, carefully loading bullets into its cylinder. Tholt picked up his bolter, Brog pulled out a knife, the closest thing he had to him. I had my shotgun in-hand. In the corner, Karl had drawn his own blade.

 

"The hell are we dealing with?" I cocked my gun, a shell spat out and hit the floor. Mist began to collect at the bottom of the door. I felt cold sweat on my neck, began to shiver. The fear in the room was palpable. Eli was the only calm one, he just kept his eye on the street outside.

 

Then it was over. The mist retreated. A sense of relief overcame us, strangely it was like I was feeling it for the first time. I was most certainly not. I opened the door, checked the corners. I found a human skull, red with dried blood, right outside the door. Down the shoddy hallway was another. And another. We crept down, ready to fight at any given second.

 

Then we came upon the front lobby, where the bar was. Blood covered the walls. Shattered skulls and bones were strewn about the place. Not a chair was overturned. Not a glass broken. I turned, and then I saw it. A red creature, bent forwards as though its back had been cruelly deformed. Two lithe horns sprouted from an elongated skull, from its open mouth dripped a coiling tongue. In its mighty clawed hand it held a dark sword, and in the other was Eli. The sword had pierced him. 

 

We all turned on the creature, but before we could react it had gone, and Eli's corpse collapsed to the red floor, sans head. We were in over our heads. I needed to get a message out right away to the PDF at least. We left the inn, now a broken bloody ruin. The streets were silent. I could feel eyes on me. The cold sweat returned. 

 

We aimed for the Enforcer compound not too many blocks away. We avoided the roads where traffic was heavy. The sun had started to rise as we made it to the front gates. This haggard group of mercs showing up on the doorstep of high and mighty Imperial Law.






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