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Cavash
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PostSubject: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeMon May 26 2014, 10:13

A while ago, after reading Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Night Lord trilogy I was so inspired that I thought I'd try my hand at writing about Astartes.

Objectionable content warning:
 

Comments and criticism are welcome and appreciated.
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Prologue


He pulled the obscura vapour deep into his lungs and held it for longer than usual. He stared out into the smog choked night sky and thought of the stars that he had once seen in this serene sanctuary. He thought back to his childhood in a now ruined city a few miles away, of how he used to gaze out to sea at night from his cramped room in his hab-stack and how he used to steal his neighbour's rancid excuse for amasec. He used to take it out to the pier with his friends and get so drunk that they could not remain upright without being slumped on the crude rockrete walls.

The bottles usually got discarded into the silty brown sea, but on unusually cold nights the bottles would skim across the frozen surface.

Those had been better days, he smiled, finally releasing the foul vapour.

That was before even the Orks had come to his homeworld, when the planet served as a trading and agricultural world. It was sad that necessity had forced the manufactorums to pump out armour and weapons to keep the ever growing Planetary Defence Force supplied in case of emergency.

Now, however, they could use all those bloody weapons.

“What is that, Sergeant?” One of the most recent conscripts asked, pointing to the crude vapouriser that had been stripped of its case. In this form it was much smaller and lightweight. Perfect for any addict serving in the PDF.

“Obscura, Trooper. Something to keep the nerves at bay.”

The young man looked at him with shock, but did not say anything.

“I don't think you should telling anybody, do you?” He looked up at the boy now from his seat upon the palace floor. Narcotics were strictly prohibited, and for a Sergeant to be using them in times of war was almost unthinkable to the Trooper's indoctrinated mind.

The boy shook his head.

“Good. I doubt it'd be worth telling anybody, either. We're all going to die here...” he trailed off, “For the Emperor, though, so it's all good. Faith and duty...” He resisted the urge to spit profanities at the old Imperial saying. The Trooper would have thought these the musings of a traitor on his first day, but in the last week he had learnt that these were the signs of those fearful of their coming demise.

A crackle came from his vox-bead: All available personnel, report to designated areas.

“You hear that? It's time to spend our lives.” He was dragged to his feet with the proffered hand of the conscript and dusted himself off, offering the vapouriser. The boy shook his head and the Sergeant smiled, putting it away. Dark rings started to grow noticeable underneath his youthful eyes.

They ran together towards the Governor's chamber, one of the final refuges from the onslaught that had brought their homeworld to its knees. They moved through the blast doors that were on the verge of locking them out and took their position behind one of the walls of sandbags closest to the Governor's own throne. The aristocrat did not sit upon it now, but rather cowered n the dust with the concripts. Few ranking officers remained and nearly none of the Imperial Guard survived. Six whole regiments of the Emperor's Hammer had been wiped out. Two remained scattered and hunted and what was left of the PDF was at the palace. It would be another two weeks before aid from the Adamantine Guard Space Marine Chapter and two regiments of Imperial Guard would arrive.

The Sergeant knew that at times like these it was his responsibility to stop the conscripts from losing hope, but he really saw no point. They would all die, he was certain of it. No miracle sent by the Emperor would save them. He wasn't even sure if the Emperor existed these days. The Ecclesiarchy liked to conjure myths and legends to keep the populace in awe. He had heard tales of the Primarchs and their crusades to rid the galaxy of filth and how the mighty angels of death would forever protect mankind.

Anyone with two braincells knew that these were elaborate bedtime stories.

He was not a man without religion, however. He did believe in the existence of the Emperor, an idol to which faith and hope could be obtained, but all of the stories of his might and glory left him sceptical. He had slain Orks. What could be tougher?

“What have you done with your life, boy?”

“Not much, sir. When we come out of this I'm hoping become a member of the Imperial Guard.”

“Such a shame... I've done obscura, gladstones and grinweed and I still haven't seen enough of this damn galaxy.”

Judging eyes glanced over to them.

“Oh well.” He sighed as the muted screams of their comrades carried through the blast-doors. He cast down his Lasgun and moved over to a bipod mounted Heavy Bolter. The weight of it in his hands was the only thing that felt safe now, yet he still knew he would die.

“Men, the Emperor smiles upon us this day. If we die then we give our lives in his service; if we live we fight for him tomorrow!” The words were punctuated by the sound of explosives and revving Chainblades.

“Now, the heretical horde is upon us! For the Emperor!”

His cry seemed to invite the foe in. Down the sights of their weapons they met not mortal men that had been twisted and corrupt, but the Emperor's own Angels.

Mythology lived.

The Sergeant grimaced.

He pulled the trigger.

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Last edited by Cavash on Mon May 26 2014, 15:44; edited 2 times in total
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Cakeaunoob
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeMon May 26 2014, 13:18

Eek, what a position to be in!  Shocked 
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeMon May 26 2014, 15:37

Lovely! Tense and crisp narrative, not an ounce that needs trimming. (Not to suggest that what you does ordinarily!) The scene setting draws the characters and makes the contrast between them elegantly. That it reminds me of Rhyl should not be cause for concern Razz

The details - like the stripped-down paraphernalia - look authentic without going off into Ikea descriptions of each item.

The efforts of the Sergeant to try to keep some kind of morale going sound like the kind of thing echoed across the Imperium on a daily basis. War is considerably less fun if you're not a genetically engineered supersoldier.

Speaking of which, your cliffhanger was just perfect!

Onto the language: I only spotted a couple of typos, nothing that jarred in the sentence structure.

Here are what I spotted:

Quote :
He used to take it out to the peer with his friends
pier

Quote :
sandbags closest to the Governor's own thrown.
throne
Quote :

The Ecclisiarchy liked to conjure myths and legends
Ecclesiarchy

Quote :
and idol to which faith and hope could be
an idol

Quote :
and nearly none of the Imperial Guard survived.
I don't think this is wrong, as such, but my brain wants "almost none" instead.

And I especially liked this:

Quote :
Anyone with two braincells knew that these were elaborate bedtime stories.

and this:

Quote :
“Good. I doubt it'd be worth telling anybody, either. We're all going to die here...” he trailed off, “For the Emperor, though, so it's all good. Faith and duty...”

PBI, indeed.

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Cavash
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeMon May 26 2014, 15:48

Thank you Cake and Malys.

I have corrected the spelling errors and am pleased with the feedback so far. My spelling is not a strong point, unfortunately. I'm going to try and spend more time proofreading in the future to avoid these types of errors.

I'm glad that you like it. I wanted to show how, in a sci-fi universe known for being dominated by superhumans, that normal folk are pretty much doomed. Also, a Welsh seaside town is what I was aiming for, so I'm glad that I got that across! Very Happy

I've currently got chapter one and two done, but I won't be adding anything for about a week as they still need a fair bit of work.

Thanks for the feedback. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeMon May 26 2014, 15:55

You're welcome! I look forward to more Very Happy

Grim darkness ... far future ... only Rhyl

Humanity is doomed! Wink

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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeMon May 26 2014, 18:15

Really excellent stuff cavash. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am happy to hear you have more in the pipeline Smile

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Cavash
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeTue May 27 2014, 14:29

Thank you, Spellcheck. I've actually enjoyed writing this as much (and in certain parts, more) than my DE stuff, so I hope that I stick to it. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeTue May 27 2014, 23:03

I really like it too!
I have huge respect for anybody who writes as i'd probably struggle with the first sentence Smile
I hope i can at least help.
Here's what i spotted.

@Cavash wrote:

“I don't think you should be telling anybody, do you?”

@Cavash wrote:

Down the sights of their weapons they met not mortal men that had been twisted and corrupted, but the Emperor's own Angels.

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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeTue May 27 2014, 23:30

Cav: I can't wait for the next installment! Smile

Marrath:
Both of those points are a tad colloquial but still good English. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeWed May 28 2014, 01:40

Just trying to help i hope i don't come off like a grammar evil german.

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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 05 2014, 13:23

Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated. As you can tell spelling isn't my strong point but I have actually tried to proofread this chapter Very Happy (a horribly mind-numbing task that has taken the best part of two months).
----------------------------------

Chapter I

The chainblade bit into his foe’s shoulder guard, tearing paint from ceramite. The screaming teeth kicked sparks into the frozen air between them as the sword slid away at lightning speed. A trio of strikes made brutal impacts on his breastplate as he was bringing his  sword back round to make a violent downward decapitation. His hand remained in the air above them, struggling as he gunned hard on the trigger in an attempt to shake the writhing tentacle loose from his wrist. The slime from the daemonic appendage glistened in the moonlight and coated the Astartes' forearm and dripped from his elbow.

His armour was a combination of ornate relics and war-torn pieces claimed from innumerable battlefields. Every piece had attention to detail afforded to it by the most talented artificers he had enslaved, and in each piece lay a weapon. Thankfully every gauntleted finger bore a razor-talon; those upon his free hand now slashed wildly at the foe's exposed flesh.

The Astartes tore his arm from the weakened grip and spun back theatrically before holding his chainblade out before him, ensuring that the ground around him remained his.

They circled each other, Marine clad in blue and a Daemon burst from flesh. He had slain these kinds before, the traitors that had allowed themselves to be consumed by the essence of those that lurked beyond the veil. In the past he had been accompanied by a score of his Brothers but here he was alone. Ever since the fateful night that felt an eternity ago he had been cursed to travel the galaxy with only his thoughts and insane pirates for company.

The moon lingered above them like a sickly blue eye that had become milky and infected with the lights from mining colonies sparsely sprawled across its surface. This was not what had caught his attention, however. There were new lights up there; lights of a warfleet. More of them were arriving.

Almost as if something realised that he had stared back at the moon the clouds to their east opened to release a new flurry of snow.

He had taken his eyes away from his opponent for a quarter of a heartbeat but, when he looked back, he found the beast upon him. Curse him for being so easily distracted. His not so aptly named ‘gift’ had ruined many a skirmish for him in the past. It was a mystery how he had earned any prestige within his warband at all.

Onto the ground he plummeted with force enough to split the rear of his helm upon a boulder hidden beneath the crisp snow. The fresh sensation of the cold against his neck pleasantly outshone the pain. The only annoyance now would be that the orange fluids that bathed his flesh would be spilling upon the ground. Curse the mutations.

With an instantaneous reaction his hand tore the Bolt Pistol from his thigh and he quickly discharged three shots into the gut of the approaching beast. Only the first of the bolts detonated, sending shards of armour blasting aside. The last two shots tore holes in the daemon-Astarte’s flesh, but the Marine had no doubt that they would heal.

There was a momentary struggle where the razor maw lashed out towards the Marine’s face-piece. Luckily the combat stimulants running through his genhanced form allowed him to keep the creature at bay until he could reach one of his four spine mounted combat knives.

As spittle and other foul fluids spat flecks across the blue cermaite the functioning tentacle wrapped around his helm in an attempt to tear it off.

“Thou shalt not!” He cried, forcing the blade into corrupt flesh as the satisfying crack of ribs under extreme pressure reverberated through the knife.

The possessed unleashed a horrific noise as it cracked its floored opponent’s head upon the rock a number of times before withdrawing, leaving the Violator momentarily concussed.

He lay recalling the last two centuries of his life. He knew for a fact that it had only been two hundred and fourteen years, but thank to the joys of warp travel it had felt like three and a half millennia. Three and a half millennia of fleeing and fighting, of training and massacring. Now he, the taker of so many Astartes lives that he had lost count, lay in the snow where he would die and be forgotten.

His will broke through for a moment as he viewed his despaired thoughts. How pathetic. He could feel that his bleak hope was renewed as he broke from the self-deprecating state.

He was lured into a trap. A lone wanderer betrayed by those that sought to use him to soak bullets. How he had shown them the depravity of the scions of Torvendis.

How odd that a coven of thirteen Word Bearers had sent him into the guns of a contingent of Adepta Sororitas and yet he was the one who had come off best. He had sustained minor injuries, but it was nothing he couldn’t live through. But, if he did live, where would he go? He couldn’t go back the way he had came; the Word Bearers had seen to that.

He could not stop fighting. That was all he was certain of.

With a new-found fervour, Talstaath the Eviscerator, Endurer of Torvendis, Champion of the Violators, sprung to his feet and stormed forth in a motion of slashing malice. With each blade he swiped at the beast, his knife cleaving open exposed flesh while finger-talons ripped chunks from the crack of his foe’s breastplate with one brutal swipe.

With ceramite scattered he shoulder barged his foe, cracking a number of ribs as he drove forwards with the force of a small tank.

Forgoing his knife for the chainsword now at his feet the Marine rose, a series of catastrophic blows landing upon the daemon; ichor and viscera desecrating his own armour.

“I shall feed you back to the warp, hellspawn.” Throwing his whole weight into a single slash he removed the serpentine head of the best. With the great momentum of the beheading strike he allowed himself to spin once more, his sword now coming down between the neck and shoulder to tear through its torso. With a grunt and a firm kick the mutilated body fell from his deactivated weapon.

With the current threat disposed of he could feel a fresh rush of chemicals that scolded his blood vessels. The sudden agony was relieving. His body was now attempting to heal his wounds in place of trying to keep him alive as it had done seconds before.

A distant noise grew stronger. The chiming of bells and the smouldering flames off in the distance heralded the arrival of the False Emperor's bastard daughters.
----------------

The metal bowels of the vessel trembled with every step he took. Those of the mortal crew brave enough not to flee on sight knelt and averted their eyes out of fear and forced respect. Those tat remained too close to the procession of the trio of demigods were crushed or slammed aside by spiked and bladed armour, their bones smashed and their internal organs haemorrhaging.

Monstrously beautiful talons sheathed in crackling energy unfurled from their mountings within their leader's fists occasionally. Upon noticing that they were dismembering serfs he would retract them, having to resist the urge to eviscerate all those around him.

His two bodyguards walked in complete silence for the first the first time in decades. They could feel the anger burning inside their lord and did everything in their power not to tempt his wrath. There was no way that the two of them could withstand the full force of a manic Astartes champion clad in the finest Tactical Dreadnaught armour.

The armour the bodyguards wore was in stark contrast to their master's. He loomed tall over them, with trophy-spikes mounted upon every possible piece of armour. His armour was adorned with the traditional vibrant-pink and midnight-black and the cloak that trailed after him was crafted from dyed Ork-hide to enhance its natural colour.

The bodyguards, however, could be picked out in a raging battlefield from miles away. Their armour was similar in design, but unique in decoration from one another. Their cloaks were crafted from fur of megabeasts they had slain upon Vaarin Primaris and skin of their latest victims was stretched across large sections of their armour. Their warplate was vibrant and engraved with maddening runes of their dark patron. Each of them had an artisan crafted power sword mounted upon their thighs and clutched a sonic blaster over their pristine breastplates.

“Where is he?” The Terminator moved up the stairs towards the command plinth. His voice was amplified by his vox, bursting the eardrums of the closest human.

“I assume you are talking about the Preacher, Brother?” A calming voice came from the darkness of the lower levels, where the enslaved servitors laboured. He caught the attention of his brothers instantly, the three armoured Marines turning their eyes towards him in unison.

Compared to many of the Astartes in the warband, and throughout the galaxy, this one was beautiful beyond compare. His eyes smouldered with blue embers and his face looked as if it had been sculpted out of the purest white marble. He acknowledged the Noise Marines accompanying his master wit a slight nod of the head.

“Yes. The Preacher. Where is he now?” The Lord growled, spittle flying from his lips caught in the red glow of his helm's readout.

“He has made planetfall, as he requested.” The Astartes wearing nothing more than a loincloth remained distinctly calm in the tense air of the command-bridge.

“As he requested, yet without my permission.” Now his Lightning Claws met air with the intent to kill. “Did you have any part in this, Phobos?”

A moment passed in silence. The unwavering voice of brother Phobos was an annoyance to his lord: “No.”

The Terminator turned slowly, inspecting each and every human that laboured under the shackles of slavery for him. “This whole fleet is mine, Phobos. All souls here, all mortals and all Astartes are mine. All equipment we use was taken under my command. If somebody acts against my word then we are but a step away from anarchy. Do you understand me?”

“Lord Kulgran, my armour is mine and mine alone.”

“Answer me!” The Terminator gesticulated, removing the left arm of a slave.

“Since the long war began we have not been spared from anarchy.”

“Yet it must be anarchy under my command. Did you authorise the Preacher's leave?”

“No.” The pause between them was filled with the screams of the dismembered human. He flapped around wildly, slipping in his own blood as he tried to get a grip on the floor.

“Dispose of these witnesses. We cannot allow the other slaves to hear of this disagreement.” Lord Kulgran turned to leave, cloak snapping round behind him. Brother Phobos looked up to the Noise Marines and braced himself for the cacophony that would ensue.
----------------------

Logs snapped beneath his treads and the snow failed to veil his vision. In a matter of minutes he had put four miles between himself and the advancing Battle Sisters. There was no way that they could catch up with him now. They were all on foot with only the remnants of their precious Rhinos. He had revelled in destroying those portable cathedrals of the master of Mankind. A realisation struck him like a thunder hammer to the face: just because the Adepta Sororitas couldn’t keep up didn’t mean that any fleeing Word Bearers couldn’t.

It was with thought that he redoubled his efforts and blink-commanded his armour to pump fresh drugs into his twisted body.
The Eviscerator would not die on this meaningless world. There was so much more for him to achieve. He would be a one man plague upon the Imperium. Neither Sororitas nor the hellish machinations of the Word Bearers would stop him.
Then he felt something.

A sharp crack came to his thigh followed by a low, angered grunt. Instinctively he swung up his chainsword, slamming down on the throttle. The force of the teeth biting into life twitched his mighty friend to the side. He had stolen this weapon a while ago from the cold hands of his Sergeant. It hadn’t mattered, though. He murdered his former-superior with glee and quickly proved his dominance to his Brothers. They had all duelled between themselves and with their new cold-hearted master to test if he truly deserved his title. He had slain two of them before the quarrelling ended. The first met his fate with teeth at his throat. The second was wounded drastically and could not recover from his injuries, finding himself under the medicinal barrel of his Brother’s bolter.  That was so long ago... he felt something almost akin to regret.

Throwing a quick glance over his shoulder he spotted his pursuers: two feral Astartes bounding on all fours after him. These Word Bearers had something bestial about them. None of them were refined or sophisticated killing machines. Each and every one of them tore and hacked at their foe, damaging them swiftly before desecrating their body with the teachings of their pantheon.

Talstaath only had one lord now; a Prince that had granted him such skill with a blade; the God he had served to become so refined in the art of the sword.

If the Word Bearers served a Pantheon then they served the others. If they served the others then they must die.

He carried on through the forest, sliding and skimming past ancient trees that had been a home to the beauty of the icy world for millennia. Occasionally bark would explode around him accompanied with the crescendo of a booming war drum. He traversed the organic maze at extreme speed, amazed at times that the animalistic Astartes to his rear could keep up with his gifted form.

In the sky something caught his attention for less than a heartbeat. In that moment he charged through branches and felt nothing for their snapping death cries.

If he had noticed it then the others must have too.

Flaming tear-drops arced through the atmosphere like the messengers of death. There was no way that he’d fall into their trap. These Astartes were nothing more than hunting hounds, driving him into infernal guns.

Slowing in his stride he listened out for the pounding of feet and knuckles on the ground until they were close enough to reach out and...

He swiped his sword straight across the faceplate of one of the Marines, gouging out a lens and tearing off the dirty red colours.

The Word Bearer, however, was already upon him. The feral student of Lorgar tackled him down, snarling with blasphemy to the Throne. It was after the Violator’s retaliatory headbutt that he realised he had scraped away a handful of lines of the deluded Book of Lorgar.

They struggled to the ground. Talstaath threw the beast aside to rise again with his sword craving the swift demise of his foe and his bolter waiting to spit quick death.

“Why do you follow?” He held his chainsword out to his left, the growling teeth inches away from the second enemy. His Bolter was raised to be in line with the other. Each of the Word Bearers held a combat knife the length of their forearm, their Bolt Pistols now holstered.

A crack of vox static announced the second Astarte’s voice, “You were a tool. You outlived your usefulness.”

“That is your argument? I murder a score of your brothers, a handful of those blasted Imperials and that possessed brother of yours,” the Violator’s foe shifted irritably from his comment, “and you see no other use for me? You overlook my merit this day, Betrayers.”

Danger runes flashed in his helm as new lifesigns were detected. He did not turn around to count them. His helmet informed him that twenty Astartes were in close proximity and approaching fast.

The Word Bearers noticed them too.

Bolt shots screamed towards them, aimed to force the sparring Marines apart rather than to fatally wound any of them. The Violator returned fire and struck one of the approaching Marines in the throat with two shots before moving to take cover in a vast rocky ditch. The Astartes drew closer. Gunshots grew louder.

He heard a rising noise... a voice... a scream. The sound rose in an immense sonic blast, splitting his mind open and dragging him into the black depths of unconsciousness.
------------------------

When he awoke he found that he'd been dragged out into the open. A Marine stood looking down upon him, pink and black armour crafted from minuscule skulls with gaping, grilled mouths.

To his left Talstaath watched as a gaunt, tall Marine ripped the progenoid glands from the fallen Word Bearers with a smile that had been carved into his face, leaving wide, open wounds lined with scar tissue.

“You breathe?” The Astartes asked, his voice ringing with unholy menace from every inch of his war-plate.

The sound of gunfire was distant now. The smell of bloodshed and strife was crisp in the air that came in through his helm.
The Violator wanted to stand and fight, to murder his way free, to beat his foe into submission, to have him bend down on his knees and beg for mercy; but when he tried to move pain shot with the rage of thunder through every nerve ending.

He could not nod. He could not even open his mouth to hiss vows of vengeance.

“Stop moving. The agony will subside with time.” The figure did not seem outwardly hostile. Something was amiss. “You are chosen of the Dark Prince, Violator. You are coming with us.”

Four Astartes approached to an unheard order, each one taking up a limb and carried him off into the dark. The pain that racked his body caused him to fall into the depths of his own mind once more.

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Amornar
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeSun Jul 06 2014, 03:08

@Cavash wrote:
Those tat remained too close to the procession

complete silence for the first the first time in decades

accompanying his master wit a slight nod


Silly grammar aside, really nice story so far Cavash. I really think your imagery and detail are your biggest strengths and help paint the scene like a picture very well. Pacing was also good as even a short story can read to slow or fast. My only real criticism would be the opening scene. I am curious to see how the sergeant and the PDF forces factor into this a bit more as you started with them then transitioned completely to the marines and never came back to them in the second section. I cannot tell if they are just a framing device for the plot-line or more integral to the story and will come back again. I hope they do.  Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The Annointed   The Annointed I_icon_minitimeSun Jul 06 2014, 17:52

Thank you for the feedback, Amornar.

I think that you will be happy to hear that the PDF Sergeant is actually one of the main characters in this story. He just didn't have much of a place getting massacred on the bridge or being deployed with a small force of Slaaneshi super-humans. He will be making a return, though. I can't write just about Space Marines otherwise there'd be no personality! Very Happy

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