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#1
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

 

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#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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#8
Evz

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In the outskirts of the Kurgan Worlds...

 

The Righteous Arrow, now Skullsmasher was an ancient Battle Barge. Her bow had not seen these ethereal stars since the Great Crusade. So poetic, Zyloc thought, that the vessel bringing the Kurgan Worlds into the glorious Imperial would be the same woman who brought about the Worlds' end. The warrior of Zyloc was ancient, of Horusian stock. His blackened armor had been painted crimson, and his helm taken from a fallen Berzerker. He held the thing in his gauntleted hands, he enjoyed the stories behind the caedere remissum. Beautiful. The warrior had fallen by his daemonic blade in the ruins on some icy hellhole lightyears away. He placed it back upon his bald head and affixed his fur cloak of some deathworld beast, he didn't remember the name. It had been years ago.

 

The door opened. Nex stepped in. The massive brute was a lord of contagion formerly of the Death Guard, who had joined forces with Zyloc. Zyloc looked to the disgusting beast in his blackened dirty armor. "So we arrive. Finally."

 

"It took too long..." the words bubbled up from his cancerous throat.

 

"Aye, cousin." Zyloc returned his gaze to the void beyond. They were coming upon the outermost moon of the system. It was too small to be counted as a real planet, it was a tiny ball of ice and stone, yet still had an Imperial city built into it. It was subterranean. "Apparently they mine here." He laughed. "Imagine, cousin. Imagine waking up every morning, waddling into a gods-damned mine. Imagine working machines and a pick all day, too long, then going to rest." He laughed. "Look at this pitiful thing and laugh. Shall we put them out of their misery, cousin?" 

 

The Death Guard slowly lumbered to the void-screen. He leaned forward, really looking through the lenses of his garbage helmet. "Aye. Let us send them to their doom." Zyloc responded by a louder laugh.

 

"These poor people! Damn it! I feel sorry for them! Let us tell the Imperium we hath arrived!" He wandered to a holo-table, an ancient device. The stupid thing would send a pict of Zyloc across their small yet elite fleet. "Brothers!" he called. Nex was off to the side, standing awkwardly with the several rather small 

"Maim and kill them brothers!" he raised his mailed fists. "Take their women and children! Destroy their idols! Desecrate their temples! From this day we march into glory for the Skull God! The Kurgan Worlds shall fall from the False Emperor's GRACE! Destroy them all! Blood for the BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!!" he let fly some spittle in those last words. Nex stood there, silent as ever, his great and equally nasty mass taking up too much of the throne room. Zyloc turned to the nearby robed creature that had once passed as a human being. It was small, in a dirty, blood-stained robe fashioned from some sheet. "I order you to eradicate that disgusting orb. Wipe that from the face of the galaxy. They shall know we hath come. They shall know we desire a challenge." the tiny thing turned to scuttle out. "Wait!" he held up a ceremite glove. "Tell the men who thirst, they shall board the shuttles. I want them ready for the next pitiful world we come upon in the system. It shall die gloriously."

 

The ship slowly passed by the ball of ice and rock. Another ship, and another. As one all ships let fly horrid salvos of nuclear fire that crushed the planet, putting it to exterminatus. The world, of which Zyloc could not bother to recall the name of, was reduced to a small field of floating icebergs in the silent and uncaring void.


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#9
Evz

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Karl left after we got to the compound to contact Hakkon. He knew the streets better than we outsiders. A few days had passed since we arrived at the Enforcer's fort built into the outer-districts of the city. They only half-believed our story, but felt nice enough to inter us all in a small holding cell. It made me miss the crappy inn room. I say half because the next morning they went to the tavern and discovered the mess. The city went on high-alert and put a lockdown in effect. People began to be shuffled to the spaceport. 

 

Hakkon came by on the fourth day. By this time, the Enforcers had started to blame the recent murders on us. I thought this was bull, I knew what they did down at that arena. I knew what they used those pits for. They ignored me. I don't want to sound mad, but I felt they were in on it. Someone was at least. Hakkon managed to get us out. Forcefully. He broke us out two hours after midnight, his assassin-bodyguard Shun was with him. 

 

"The thing got Eli, Hakkon." Hakkon just waved us out. He never handled death well, though I know for a fact he didn't like anyone who died. Tholt was grimacing as we marched through the dead grasses of the courtyard leading to the outer gates. This day was mad. Hakkon led us to a shredded-open dead electro-fence. "You not coming with us?" I asked him.

 

"No. The Enemy has entered the system. I've got to remain to warn the city as foolish as they are."

 

"So we are done? What have we even come here to do?"

 

"We are done for now, Ask. We're done. We've got to get out of here, the best we can do is warn them then jump to the station and-"

 

"We're just abandoning these people?"

 

"There is nothing we can do, if they die, they die. You have not fought what is coming Ask. They're not pirates or smugglers." That was it. I just turned and walked out the hole. In an hour we would be on beasts of burden brought by Karl Huss. We embarked to the starport. The second day of travel I was exhausted and just wanted to drink, smoke and sleep. But I had to press myself on. My gear was heavy. The starport was on the horizon near the end of the second day. I wish we could have used the transports but by now the roads were clogged with evacuating citizens. 

 

Hakkon met us then on an off-road mining rig driven by some gruff badlander in carapace armor. Shun was sitting in the back, clutching a lasrifle. "We are going to go ahead and get the shuttle." he nodded up the nearby hill. "Get up there, we'll fly over and pick you up."

 

"Sounds bloody good to me!" Tholt growled, starting up the mountain. "I love mountains anyways." The Squat shouldered his boltgun as he started uphill. I followed with a sigh, Karl began to climb. Brog was limping up. The man had rolled his ankle. I sighed and allowed him to lean on me. We neared the summit that evening. It held an old derelict Imperial watchtower, probably leftover from some old war in ancient times. We held up in it. Nothing was around us for miles save for dead woods and brush. I pulled out my flask and took down some drink and then lit up that lho stick I had been craving. Now was the waiting game.

 

*

 

The vessel drifted deeper into the sector, passing the chunks of ice left by the obliterated planet. Zyloc had the Skullsmasher sit idle in what was once the ex-planet's orbit. He stood upon the bridge full of barbarians intelligent enough to work a ship. They were warriors all, most of them taken from the death worlds of the Gartian Stars. Torek stepped onto the bridge, the heavily muscled warrior clad in leather harness and dark robes wandered up to the World Eater lord.

 

"You broke the world, did you." He said solemnly, a hand on his sword's pommel. He was ready for the coming fight.

 

"Aye, I did," the Chaos Lord turned his head to meet the shorter warrior's gaze. "What of it?"

 

"Twas a mining world, my lord. We could have used those bloody resources. You should learn from the mistakes of your chosen Legion."

 

"Yes. This is true. I needed to get the men ready. They enjoy when we do these things. I only do sometimes if I am being honest." he pulled out his sword and inspected it, the blade gleamed in the lights of the bridge. "It's already happened now. Alas, the true battle can begin. Have our fastest craft move forward. I want everyone ready to disembark. Have all fighters and bombers ready to do hit-and-run attacks on all worlds. Get under their defenses. I have inside-knowledge of the defenses of all worlds which should appear in the readings of all attack groups. This attack shall be legendary." Torek grumbled and shook his head, taking his leave. "Torek, will you be joining the men?"

 

"Aye, on another vessel. I will not ride with a son of the Red Angel, nor one of the Death Guard. I will join my own warriors." Torek led a group of barbarian cultists to battle. They did well enough. 

 

"Fair enough. I shall join the fighting shortly. What is the first planet?"

 

"Mortia VI, my liege!" cried a robed man from his console.

 

"This is where they die! To battle!" he held up a mailed fist. The others did likewise. Mad cheered echoed down the hall as Torek grumbled his way to his temple to rouse his men.


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#10
Evz

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Mortia VI was gone in under an hour. As the first bombs fell from the heavens, the majority committed suicide rather than even attempt to escape the marauding warband. This was followed by mass-genocide, which was followed by more suicide, followed by sacrifice to the god of skulls. I sat alone in a dank room of rockrete, my body hot and my clothing damp with sweat. It was, however, cool down here.

 

Karl entered, sitting down across from me. Tholt was in the other room with Brog, rolling dice. The badlander leaned back on his old stool. His eyebags grew darker by the day, that was what keeping watch will do to you. An awkward silence rolled in. For five months we had been locked in this bunker, found northeast of the hill we were told to wait at. After a while, it had become apparent Hakkon was not returning to us, then the bombardment began, and without looking back we just ditched the place.

 

"Did you see the forest...?" Karl asked me, breaking the ice. "Thousands, a field. Men, women, children down there. In the forest." His voice was shaken, the months had broken him. He became aware of the wider universe this year.

 

"No," I said. "I fear leaving this place." It was safe here, in this ancient bunker left over from the colonization days. The walls were blank, the lights had died thousands of years ago. It was little more than a cave.

 

"They crucified the people." He said. I sighed, what else can you do or say to respond to such a thing. "Nailed their corpses to metal and wooden crosses, completely covering the highway. Many had their heads taken. Not... not even just the soldiers." He held his head in his hands. Had Hakkon abandoned us? No. I refused to believe this. He expressed concern for the Imperial people of Mortia before the conquest. I leaned back myself.

 

"It is terrifying." That was it. That was all I could say. I pulled out my lho case, was reminded I finished them weeks ago, threw it on the ground. Eventually the Arch Enemy would find us. Then who the hell knows what they would do. The worst thing is that we failed the Imperium. I had failed the Inquisition utterly. This was heretical, I would die. I could not help but blame myself, thinking we had more time. I was to find the cult and expunge it. I should end myself, but I would rather clear my name. I sat in this room alone, meditating. Trying to think what went wrong. Had they fed false information to the Inquisitor on purpose to make it seem like we had more time? That was all I could think of. All I could, again. There was nothing else we could do.

 

There was nothing left I could do. 

 

The next day came, I was kicked awake by Brog, who was grunting, his axe resting on his shoulder. I got my gear together, we had to leave the region. Eventually the heretics would sweep this area, and Karl was to lead us deeper inland, away from the sea. We stepped out into the nightlands. The sky was a dark red, the land around us pitch black.

 

It is terrifying, I thought again as we picked our way to the border.


Edited by Evz, 15 January 2021 - 12:39 AM.

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#11
Evz

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Zyloc emerged from his rough, hastily-built shanty hut into the excuse for a camp his retinue had built in the days after landing around the capital. He strode, clad in a crimson robe and not in his power armor, to the edge of the cliff. He watched as the slaves transformed their ruined capital city into the symbol of the Blood God. A wiry, muscular wretch was beside him. He looked down. "You've done well, Gritio."

 

"Thank you, my lord." The small man bowed, falling to his knees to worship the Chaos marine. "My gladiators, they came from criminal stock. All of them pit slaves, cyborg criminals, savages from the badland-"

 

"Aye. I shall see to it they be welcomed into my Order." He smiled, looking back at the horrid symbol, the rising sun turning it into a pure black silhouette. Torek jogged up to them.

 

"We have taken another underground group, Lord Zyloc." Torek wheezed.

 

"Good." He did not take his eyes off of the symbol. "Induct the survivors who wish to join our crews. Cut down the rest. They will either feed the strong or become the strong."

 

"Yes my lord." Torek grimaced at the dirt beneath his feet but stood, jogging to the air speeder to return to his frontline. Zyloc sighed.

 

"We will use this planet as a base of operations. Then we move to the fatter worlds of the system." He looked to the wretch. "You have done well, and your arena has trained your pitiful worms into savage wolves. I am proud." He smiled. The wretch smiled back sheepishly, blushing. He scurried back into the camp, looking more like a simian than a human. Zyloc sighed, resting his bare, pale and scarred hand upon the hilt of his demonic blade, the warm breeze blowing across his clean-shaven scalp. "This was the first world I have taken. I shall name it Zylon. All worlds beyond will join my bloody empire. Damn this Long War. Damn Horus. Damn Abaddon. Damn that fool Angron. This Legion is mine now, as far as I can tell." He unsheathed his falax, taken from the champion he had bested for his helm and this weapon. He raised it, inspecting his features, then kissed the blade. "I will take this world. Make it mine. I will take this whole sector and make it mine." He smiled.


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#12
Evz

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Karl had led us to some expanse of dense forest in the pits between a great mountain range. Here the land was untouched by the forces of darkness. Brog hunted. Tholt and a few others built the shelters. We had a sad excuse for a community going within the week, with a small group of partisans joining our commune.

 

The forces of Chaos had expanded their territory. They had dismantled the starport and rebuilt it into a great infernal effigy for their god. They had enslaved and done worse to those they caught who remained loyal to our Emperor. They swept the area where we once remained hidden, as I had thought.

 

Thankfully, our new base of operations was protected by the mountains, too dense to cross with either armor, and the canopy too dense for fliers, of which they had little to spare. The World Eater warband who had decided to attack were idiots. They really only wanted to smash and take with little care for any sort of tactic.

 

Karl and Brog have both seen things. Things that look like a mix of wolf and reptile, scaly red blood-slick skin prowling the darkness of the forests. Alas, they are too scared of our numbers at this point. And the hunters and wastelanders who have flocked to us have taken the beasts out. When they are slain they dissipate as all daemonic beings do. The outsiders have polluted this world too far.

 

I am but a hired gun. A Venator. I will fight for the Emperor, but I am no soldier, I am a mercenary. I am afraid. I fear what is out there. And were it not for the natural fortress that has taken us months to traverse to find the perfect hideaway, we would we dead, worse than dead. Our souls would be devoured by horrors I cannot even think of. I can only hope a stray priest or missionary finds his way here soon, as we have none. Faith is the one thing we lack, we need it now more than ever. I need it now more than ever.


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