An Enemy Revealed (Failed submission completed)

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

An Enemy Revealed (Failed submission completed)

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:38 am

The following short story is one of my submissions for the 2011 BL open submission window. Obviously, it failed the test for the Editor gods of BL towers :cry: This one came from my list of ideas and again I enjoyed writing it. For me personally I thought it was the strongest of the three submissions, though my beta reader disagreed with me. I hope you all enjoy reading :D Oh I've split it up into multiple posts so it easier to read in multiple sittings without losing your place.

*Part 1*

Captain Eran Greydo swung his power sword, in a sweeping over head blow that all but sliced his burly mutant opponent in two. Ungracefully, he yanked the blade from the gently smoking wound as the distinctive smell of burnt meat and bone filled his nostrils.

Even as the blade tore free, another mutant came scrambling over the pile of dead at the captains feet. The monsters bestial face was twisted in hate, drool dripped from its fang filled mouth in anticipation of the feast to come. A twist of Greydo's wrist and a gentle squeeze of his hellpistol's trigger sent a las bolt straight into the slavering beasts face, killing it instantly. The chaos beast's body flopped backwards into the path of three of its charging companions; they fell to the ground in a tangled heap.

It gave Greydo an unwelcome moments respite from the fighting, a moment in which conscious thoughts flooded back into his mind. Angrily and without thinking he savagely kicked one of the dead mutants lying at his feet. This was certainly a fight the captain was not enjoying. It was not a fight that he had even expected to be in. Neither did it help that he had to soil the finely crafted blade of his power sword with the blood of these foul mutants. He preferred to conduct a small ritual of cleansing on the weapon, before he entered battle. The sword and a small black and white picture were all he had to remind him of his parents. Both, given to him on the day he departed his home planet. Such was the life of an imperial guardsman; Greydo knew he had little chance of seeing either his place of birth or his parents, again; even if he managed to live to retirement.

The picture, which was constantly nestled in the pocket above his heart, was taken moments after his father had proudly presented the hand crafted power sword to him. It would have cost his parents a full year's wages, even for his father, an officer in the Cardonsun PDF. All the time during her son’s departure for war, his mother had fought back her tears; trying not to shame the family, by crying in public. It was a memory Greydo knew he would take to his grave. Though at the time he had not known how much he would cherish such a simple memory.

Tearing his eyes from the blade he focused upon the ground before him, he was surprised to find it empty. Finally the mutants attack had broken. In increasing numbers they were turning and fleeing the battle field. They left the vast majority of their number lying dead upon the blood soaked earth.

A cold, deadly, anger seized Greydo and he lifted his hellpistol. Flicking the shot selector he unleashed a hail of las bolts into the backs of the fleeing mutants; unwilling to let any get away from his vengeance. It aggravated the panic and fear that was sweeping through the handful of living mutants: somehow they managed to increase the pace of their race for safety. At forty meters, Greydo switched the selector back. Marshalling his anger as his old instructor had taught him all those years ago; he began sniping, picking off mutants one at a time until they finally reached a distance too great for his weapon.

Angrily, he shoved the pistol into its hip holster. Deactivating the power sword he whispered a prayer of thanks to its machine spirit, before reverently slipping the weapon into the scabbard hanging from his belt. All the time he was engaged in a private battle with his own anger, a battle he lost.

The sight of so many dead mutants littering the ground before the imperial lines should have been a pleasing sight for any loyal imperial warrior. It did nothing for Greydo. He was angry that the mutants had advanced so close to his lines, as far as he was concerned, there was only one person to blame for that: Enginseer Ti Cranmec. The Adeptus Mechanicus priest had failed once again to keep those odd motorised gun carriages and the multi-lasers they carried operational.

Captain Greydo had taken a dislike to both the techpriest and his four odd charges the instant he had laid eye's upon them both. The machines in particular had looked like trouble: so far they had lived up to that expectation. It was such an odd design that Greydo's mind asked questions about the sanity of the designer.

Not that it was the first time he had been lumbered with second rate equipment. It was the way of the imperial war machine; the best equipment went to a commander's favoured units. In this case it meant Greydo and his company had to hold this mountain pass, as well as the armies flank with ineffective fire support.

Greydo had raised the question of the odd machines with Cranmec, who had promised he would do his best to keep the machines operational. It had not escaped the captain's notice that the techpriest had called the machines: “unsanctioned”. The captain was not sure what that meant, but was sure it was not good.

He looked across to the nearest of the gun carriages positions and searched for the techpriest; there was no sign of him. The captain reached for his vox bead and opened a channel. Crackling static instantly filled his ear. That was another thing that was beginning to try Greydo's patience. Vox transmissions were beginning to break down and none of the army's techpriests could explain why.

“Enginseer Cranmec, report now”

“Captain Greydo, first sergeant Drugan and I are just finishing with the tarantulas. Is there any assistance I can offer you?” crackled Cranmec's deadpan voice.

Greydo cursed under his breath and wondered just how long it could take to set up three tarantulas.

“Those warp damned gun carriages of yours failed again man; I almost lost this position for thrones sake. Would you kindly stop tinkering with those sentry guns and give me some assistance where it is truly needed. If it's not too much trouble,” snapped Greydo, unable to restrain himself.

“Yes captain I will return to your position with haste. I'm sorry the machine spirits of those motorised gun carriages are proving most cantankerous. It is perhaps not surprising, considering their unsanctified nature.”

“I don't bloody care about their nature, just get over here and sanctify the damn things if that's what it takes. That is, after all, why you were assigned to my command was it not?” Even as he said it Greydo regretted that last bit. Technically enginseer Cranmec was not under Greydo's command.

“Yes captain, I was charged with attending the machine spirits of all the machines currently assigned to your company. I am just about to activate the last tarantula; then I will of course attend the gun carriages.”

Greydo knew the flat, emotionless tone of Cranmec's voice was not just a product of the vox robbing the techpriest's words of any emotion. It was just one of many things about the techpriest that reminded Greydo how different the priest was from the rest of humanity.

“Just get your damned ass back here prompt,” said Greydo before terminating the connection. He stalked off in search of some water, muttering several unflattering oaths about enginseer's and the Mechanicus.
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

Stories from my past
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Re: An Enemy Revealed (Failed submission completed)

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:39 am

*Part 2*

Captain Greydo stood at the base of the long, thin finger of rock that divided the mountain pass into two distinct sides. It was a perfect position for a commander; on a slight rise, it allowed a beautiful bird's eye view of his company's positions. Only now, it seemed more a curse, than a gift from the God Emperor which he had first thought it to be. The chaos forces were putting pressure on both fronts and they were close to breaking through. Both sides needed reinforcing. Yet, he only had one reserve squad left. He knew his next decision could cost his entire company their lives.

Not for the first time Greydo regretted his decision to serve as an officer. The responsibility that came with command weighed heavily upon him. It was not that he was a coward, or that he regretted signing up to serve the Emperor. He just wished he could be down there with the men; where his only worry was protecting the backs of the men next to him. Where the only thing expected of him was to kill the Emperor's enemies. Not here, where every decision he made could and often did, cost men their lives.

Staring out over his right flank the captain could see that despite the barrage of las fire his men were unleashing; the chaos forces were within fifty metres of their positions. The enemy were so close Greydo could see tiny black dots being thrown out from the imperial lines. Bright flashes blossomed where they fell; the dull crump of exploding frag grenades reached Greydo's ears a moment later. The tactic worked the explosions and the deadly clouds of shrapnel they sent flying outwards, killed and maimed many, disrupting the enemy's charge. It pushed them back, but Greydo knew the advantage gained would all too quickly be overtaken.

Turning to review the left, Greydo knew that ordinarily he would be leading his last reserve squad down there. That is, if it were not for those multi-laser gun carriages. If only the techpriest could guarantee that he could keep them operational.

“Bloody cog boy. What use to me are you,” he muttered to himself.

Spotting one of the enginseer's servitors carrying ammunition boxes towards the front lines, the captain regretted his private little outburst. It was another reminder that he had not quite yet managed to gain control of his anger.

The enginseer was helping in every way he could. Without even being requested he had ordered the majority of his servitors to act as porters: carrying ammunition, food and casualties. It had freed a number of badly needed men for the front line, but it had not come without cost for the enginseer. Several of the macabre human machine constructs had been destroyed in the fighting. Greydo knew that most enginseer's would never have done such a thing; they would have considered it a waste of Mechanicus resources. Cranmec had even put his own life at risk, sending his body guard into the fighting, while he repaired one of the gun carriages.

Greydo vowed he would seek out the enginseer and apologise for his earlier outburst: if they survived this attack!

Turning back to the right Greydo made his decision, he would trust in the enginseer and go with his own instinct. At least the left flank had the enginseer if things did get bad there. Whereas the right flank faced greater numbers and the fighting would quickly descend into the chaos of close combat.

“Right men fix bayonets; our comrades down there need our help.”

Straightening Greydo pulled his hellpistol from its holster, before taking hold of the power swords hilt and unsheathing it. Flicking the activator switch he tested the weapon muttering a prayer of benediction and thanks to the swords spirit. Deactivating the power field he finally kissed the weapon three times. None of his men took any notice of the odd gesture; they had all seen their captain perform the arcane little ritual many times. Besides they were all busy with their own little pre-battle rituals, rituals they were all convinced drew the Emperor's eye and protection.

Then just as Greydo was about to order the charge, his battle honed ear picked out something: a shift... a missing sound ... one amongst the general turmoil of war reverberating around the mountain pass. The multi-laser on the left flank had fallen silent.

Greydo turned just in time. The floor of the pass on this side was littered with boulders and pits that provided cover to the advancing heretics. It seemed to Greydo that every piece of cover had been sheltering a traitor, and as one they leapt to their feet charging the imperial lines. The desperate fusillade of las fire put up by the imperial troops barely scratched their numbers.

Without hesitation Greydo spun on the spot, lifting his power sword above his head.

“Death to the enemies of the Emperor,” he roared; then charged.

“For the Emperor,” ten voices shouted in reply.

Not a fast runner, it did not take long before the quicker men in the squad caught up with Greydo. They had been trained well, they slowed their pace a little, to match their captains, knowing it was better that they reached the enemy in one mass, rather than piece meal.

Greydo's squad reached the imperial line of fox holes just as the enemy did; the men manning the line of fox holes had already climbed out of the pits, unwilling to allow the enemy the advantage of height.

Activating his power sword the captain flicked the tip of the weapon in a deft move that opened a long clean cut in the throat of a large mutant. The twisted human staggered backwards, its life blood bubbled and frothed forcing open the cauterised edges of the wound. The monster died: drowning in its own blood.

Taking a snap shot with his pistol, Greydo shot another mutant in the stomach. The powerful las bolts punched into the beasts flesh, leaving smoking holes and causing the mutant to topple over like a felled tree.

Movement to the captain's right caused him to spin. He brought his sword up just in time to block a powerful over head blow from a heretic. The traitors bayonet bounced off his swords energy field, kicking up a shower of sparks. Twisting his wrist Greydo fired a shot at his opponent's chest, but the man proved too quick and experienced. He turned letting the energy bolt slip passed his body. Yet, close enough that the smell of burnt fabric filled the air around the two combatants.

The move told Greydo all he needed to know about these heretics, they were men of training, they were traitor PDF. Men that had once sworn to fight and if needs be die, for the God Emperor. They had forsaken that vow and turned to the arch enemy. Though they were not imperial guard they would fight with wild abandonment, trying to prove themselves worthy of their new gods favour. This was going to be a long and brutal fight, where neither side would give quarter.

All too quickly the fighting descended into a massed, confused melee: the ground became littered with the dead, and slick with blood. The chaos forces quickly became intermixed with their imperial foes. The imperial men showed their superior training and experience. They formed tight knit fighting circles, small islands of imperial authority; surrounded by a sea of death and madness.

Greydo found himself fighting in a triangular formation, with two privates from third platoon. Men who were not from the squad he had charged into battle with. He was not sure where those men were, or if any of them were still alive: for that matter he was not even sure any other imperial troops were alive.

With no other option he put his fears aside and descended into that all too familiar mindless killing state he relished, where his training and years of experience took control. There were no tactical decisions to be made now. It was just a matter of killing his enemies and protecting the backs of his two companions. He had not felt so free in a long time. Heretic after heretic fell to either sword or pistol, or a combination of both.

Greydo became so immersed in the mechanics of the fighting; he failed to notice the slight shift in the intensity of the fighting around his little island. Bit by bit it began to slow and the press of heretic bodies grew thinner and thinner. Until, it disappeared entirely as the enemy broke and ran.

Unseen by the captain two things had saved the beleaguered imperial forces. Seeing the impending disaster unfolding on the left flank, sergeant Drugan had pulled a squad from the right. Unlike his captain the company first sergeant had kept his men in a tight group, forming a wedge they had driven into the side of the enemy. A fighting wedge that grew larger and larger as it swept up the islands of defenders. Striking deep into the enemies flank before it came to a halt. Then as the fighting wedge was beginning to slow enginseer Cranmec finally fixed the multi-laser. It tore a gaping wound into the other flank. Eventually the sheer weight of its fire, cut a clean path right the way through the enemies ranks, isolating those traitors that had made it to the imperial lines. The battle turned from an impending imperial massacre into a massacre of heretics.
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

Stories from my past
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Re: An Enemy Revealed (Failed submission completed)

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:40 am

*Part 3*

Captain Greydo shifted his position slightly trying to find a more comfortable seat on the rock as he watched the company medic tend the wounded. His mind was so numbed by fatigue he only just noticed first sergeant Drugan's approach.

“Well what's the butcher's bill this time sergeant?”

“Oh, not quite as bad as you might be expecting, another eight dead and sixteen walking wounded cleared to fight on. One who should be by rights medivac'ed. The company strength now stands at one hundred and seventeen men fit for duty and eight unfit,” reported Drugan in his usual deadpan, all business manner.

It was news the captain welcomed and went some way to easing the bone weary tiredness that gripped him. The company had gotten off lightly from that last attack, but Greydo knew his men could not stand up to many more like it. He would not be the only one almost asleep on his feet. Despite the dark thoughts, a smile crept across his face, the Emperor must truly have been watching over his men in that last fight. The smile did not stay long, the look upon his sergeant's face saw to that.

“There's more and I'm not going to like it am I?”

“No, so I'm not going to sugar coat it for you boss. We're running low on about everything, grenades, power packs, water. Got a few men lighting fires for the empty packs but,” he shrugged. It was a stop gap and both of them knew it. “The bloody vox is playing up, though enginseer Cranmec is there as we speak, but until he can, if he can, fix the problem there's little chance of resupply. That boy's done well sir he's got stuck into the enemy a couple of times, right in, real and personal. The lads are right happy to have him around it seems.”

“Trying to smack my behind for bad behaviour, are you sergeant,” asked Greydo, with a weary smile.

“No sir, I'd never presume to chastise a superior, sir,” replied the sergeant a smirk flashing across his face.

“I know, I was a little harsh on him wasn't I. Noted and action will be taken. Oh any word from him about those tarantulas of his? Those gun carriages; now the vox, seems all the damn machines are playing up. They’re a precaution against a possibility, but then intell said we wouldn't face serious opposition here. The last thing we need is to be out flanked or have to pull men off the line to guard those bloody caves.”

“He hasn't reported anything to me sir. But I think he wants to report to you once he's sorted the vox,” Sergeant Drugan did not sound hopeful.

“So I see,” replied Greydo as he gestured towards the enginseer walking up the slight rise towards them.

“With your permission sir,” the sergeant asked half turning to leave.

“You don't want to stay and hear what he has to say?”

“We owe him but he's a cog boy, I just can't get used to all those metal bits sticking out of him,” replied the sergeant in an unusually candid moment. “Besides, perhaps best not for me to hear a superior officer apologising for unbecoming behaviour sir. Might crack my vision of the rightful all knowing superiority of my captain,” he finished with an impish look on his face.

“Umm, quite so sergeant and thank you, for the reminder,” shaking his head. “You know most officers would have you shot for that statement.”

“What for sir; for pointing out the obvious Emperor given superiority of my commanding officer.”

“Be gone before I develop an itchy trigger finger damn you,” said Greydo, as a broad smile filled his face.

Drugan turned and walked away satisfied at a job well done. Sometimes it wasn't just the men that needed a moral boost, as any good first sergeant should know.
Greydo watched as enginseer Cranmec approached, sure footed and confident over the rock strewn ground. He could just make out the undulating motion of one of Cranmec's two mechanical arms over his back. Greydo could not help but shudder at the sight, and the ones he imagined hidden beneath the techpriests red robes. He would never understand why men would voluntarily have parts of their bodies removed and replaced with metallic ones. Greydo found it difficult not to subscribe to the theory some of his fellow officers did; that the priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus were a species apart from the rest of humanity.

The techpriest stopped in front of the captain his face was hidden in the shadow cast by the heavy hood he habitually wore.

“I trust your well captain Eran Greydo?” Cranmec's voice was entirely too loud and Greydo wanted to tell him to tone it down, but felt it would not have been quite appropriate, under the circumstances.

“Yes I am Enginseer Cranmec; I hear you wish to talk with me?” Greydo tried to inject some friendliness into his voice.

“Yes captain Eran Greydo I've managed to sort out the problem with the vox apparatus though it's no guarantee it will not happen again. I also took the liberty of reporting your resupply needs and I have spoken to my own superiors about this need. Resupply will be coming shortly, though no time frame could be given.”

“Oh.”

“Yes. It seems we're not the only ones to have encountered severe equipment problems; the entire army is plagued by them it seems. The problem is getting worse. Particularly for those units directly engaged with the enemy.”

“Chaos taint?”

“That is something of the flesh captain Eran Greydo, not, the purity of the machine,” Cranmec stood stock still unmoving like a statue.

“There's something else enginseer Cranmec?”

“Yes captain, I wish to make a service check on each of the multi-laser gun carriages before I do, but do I have your permission to return to the tarantulas. I have their readiness signal still, but considering events here and with the army, I would feel happier if I could make a physical check upon them.”

“Well enginseer as you know you're not directly under my command.”

“I know this captain but still, is there anything you require of me before I go?” asked Cranmec.

“No enginseer, oh there is one last thing, I would just like to apologise for my outburst earlier, it was, uncalled for.”

“That is okay captain Eran Greydo, we servants of the Omnissiah are pure of mind but we do understand emotion and its inherent frailties.” replied Cranmec. Coming from anyone else it would have sounded like an insult to Greydo. Instead it was just another reminder of the gulf between techpriest's and the rest of humanity.
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

Stories from my past
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Re: An Enemy Revealed (Failed submission completed)

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:41 am

*Part 4*

The distinctive collection of sounds that came from a heavy bolter firing seemed to physically fill the cave. Bouncing off the rock each individual sound became so intermingled, they formed one thunderous roar. Muzzle flash and exploding warheads also filled the cave with a flickering light. It gave the movement of the shadowy figures in the dark depths, an odd jerky, stop, start motion.

Even the darkness and intermittent bursts of light, could not hide the twisted perverted nature of those shadow figures. Some had withering tentacles instead of arms, or in addition. Others had arms that finished in crab like claws or long curving talons. Several moved on undulating slug like bodies.

Not that the three tarantulas cared or noticed. They just tracked and shot at the motion, following the simple logic process programmed into them. The figures were all trying to avoid the explosive fury of the tarantulas, so far none had; instead they died in droves. It was only by sheer weight of numbers they had managed to get so far into the cave. Even heavy bolters could only fire so quickly. A semi circle, thick with the ruptured bodies of the dead had formed around the three tunnel mouths that emptied out into the cave.

Then abruptly the sentry guns fell silent, there were suddenly no more targets: the mutants had stopped coming. It took the thunderous roar longer to die down but eventually it two faded and disappeared; letting silence once again claim the cave.

If it had been living creatures guarding the cave they would have undoubtedly found the sudden change eerie and disquieting. The three tarantulas did not even register or care, they simply slipped back into over-watch mode, just as their logic routines dictated. Invisible energy washed over the three tunnel entrances as the machines engaged their auspex suites, they were searching for targets. Neither concerned, nor questioning what the sudden change may have meant.

Outwardly, there was no hint of their activity; they sat stock still almost invisible in the darkness that had reclaimed the cave after the bolt shells had stopped flying. That changed suddenly as all the guns auspex detected something out of place. The faint sound of servo-motors activating emanated from each machine as guns were swung around. All targeted the northern tunnel mouth, but none fired. If their human owners had been present, they may have been perturbed by this inaction. They would have certainly been puzzled by the faint spectral fire, almost invisible to the naked eye, which danced about the vox aerials of all three machines.

Slowly, a figure appeared in the cave mouth, larger and more upright then the previous figures, the shadows still hid most of its form. All three guns tracked the figure, but again contrary to their logic programmes, they held their fire.

The figure moved slowly, yet with a surety that told of senses that somehow penetrated the thick, black, silent atmosphere that filled the cave. It stopped about half way towards the three sentry guns. For a moment, nothing more happened; then three shadowy appendages appeared at the figures base. Slowly at first, the appendages slithered their way across the ground each heading towards one of the tarantulas.

At first none of the tarantulas saw the approaching snake like shadows, all their attention was focused solely upon the figure. Then, one by one their logic engines finally noticed the moving shadows. Servo motors kicked in again as the heavy bolters retargeted, but then rapidly shifted back to the figure, then back to the moving shadows; back and forth they went. Anyone who did not know better, would have said the machines were confused, unable to decide what action they should take. It was not a condition their makers had installed in them; after all, indecision was a weakness of the flesh.

The appendages paused just in front of the sand bag walls each tarantula sat behind. There they sat unmoving. Then in almost perfect synchronisation they reared up, before punching forward into the sand bag walls. As they burst out on the other side, eruptions of fabric, earth and small stones exploded out across the tarantulas. The largest pebbles set off faint ringing sounds as they pinged off the metal skin of the machines.

A split second before they slammed into the tarantulas, the wicked looking pincers that tipped each appendage, flexed, before they punch through the tarantula's thin metallic skin. The three appendages then started shaking, as bulges moving along in a peristaltic like fashion, were pumped into the three sentry guns.

Long minutes past as more and more of the bulges were pushed along the shadowy appendages. Then, as one, the tarantula's servo-motors kicked in and the machines turned their turrets, their weapons facing the faint light, spilling in through the far off cave entrance. Once again, they took up their quiet vigil, searching, waiting, for a target to appear.
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

Stories from my past
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Posts: 457
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:54 pm


Re: An Enemy Revealed (Failed submission completed)

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:41 am

*Part 5*

Greydo sat perched on the stone and watched as five more of his men were interred. The neat lines of black body bag shrouded dead were growing longer, they always did, it was a sad fact of war that the captain could never quite get used to. He knew the butcher's bill had been light so far, considering the opposition they were facing. Though how long that state of affairs would last, was a question that constantly plagued his thoughts. The company had already repelled five full scale attacks and the men were getting tired. A fact that would get even more of them killed.

The heavy step of enginseer Cranmec's body guards snapped Greydo from his dark reverie. Slowly he looked up from the lines of dead.

“Sorry for disturbing you captain Eran Greydo. This is a private moment of reflection I know, but I wished to report,” said Cranmec.

“That is okay enginseer. There would be many more of my men lying there if it had not been for your intervention in that last attack.”

Greydo suppressed an involuntary shudder as memories of the enginseer fighting, flashed through his mind. It had been awe inspiring, yet frightening and would live in the darkest recesses of the captains unwanted memories. The enginseer's mechadendrites had appeared to act upon their own; tearing limbs and heads from bodies, picking up heretics, slamming them, head first into the ground. All the time the enginseer had also hacked his way through traitors with his power weapon, in a display of skill and brute force Greydo would never have expected to see from anyone other than a Space Marine. Not that he had ever had the honour of fighting alongside the Emperor's angels of death.

Then there was the two body guards, skitarii as the enginseer had called them. They had truly been a sight to behold, real examples of the martial arts. They could easily have been mistaken for expensive combat servitors by most. But after watching them at war, Greydo knew better. No servitor could match the fluid motion and skill the two body guards had displayed. It was like they have been borne to war, not made for it.

“The probability of the line collapsing without my intervention was high. That would have led to mission failure. That I could not have allowed captain Eran Greydo. I have attended the multi-laser gun carriages and made some final adjustments. I am hopeful they will be fully operational now, my approach is perhaps, unorthodox, but it seems likely to work.”

“I will pray to the Emperor that your efforts are heeded. I know I certainly appreciate your efforts.”

Cranmec's head dipped in the most human of gestures Greydo had seen the techpriest carry out.

“My analysis suggests it will be some time before the enemy come again captain Eran Greydo so I wish to turn my attention to the tarantulas. They are active according to their signals but there was a slight variance in the signal strength during that last fight. It would seem prudent to check upon the machines."

“Oh. I thought you already had, before that last attack.”

“There was no time Captain Eran Greydo. When the attack came my sensors indicated it was the largest yet, so I elected to stay. The mission should be given every chance to succeed.”

“Well it was just as well. I will of course make sure your role and help is reported to your superiors. They should know of your pivotal role in this mission. If we survive that is.”

“We live to serve the Omnissiah in whatever way we can captain Eran Greydo. Our respective organisations represent different parts of a greater more complex machine that the Omnissiah, in his infinite wisdom, moulded together. Our efforts combined are greater and stronger then when separated.”

Without another word enginseer Cranmec turned on the spot, took one step and froze. An ear piercing screech rent the air. A second later, blue ethereal flames swept up and down the techpriests body before his two mechadendrites stiffened; ramrod straight, clawed ends high above the enginseer's head. Then a second, lower pitched screech that could only have come from the enginseer's mechanical form filled the air and his two body guards fell limply to the earth.

Greydo leapt to his feet, moving to Cranmec's side, a sudden desire to help the stricken techpriest filled his heart. Though he was not exactly sure what he could do; a shudder rippled down the captain's frame at the thought of delving beneath those crimson robes. He was just not sure what he would find or whether he would like what he found.

As Greydo's mind carried out its confused war, the harsh violent sound of multiple heavy bolters firing filled the pass. They were quickly followed, then became intermixed, with the sounds of men screaming; of men dying painful, explosively messy, deaths.

A further confused mass of thoughts erupted into Greydo's mind at the sounds. The firing was coming from behind his lines; somehow the enemy had infiltrated heavily armed troops behind his positions. But surely the tarantulas were holding the only way they could have done that? Unless, there were other caves, caves unknown to the imperial forces, caves imperial intelligence had missed. After all, they had told him his men would face little opposition.

Turning his attention towards the firing his breath caught in his throat as a sight from his darkest nightmares lumbered into view. It struck a paralysing fear deep into his heart.

Three strange, half organic, half machine hybrid beasts came lumbering down the valley. All head and legs, they seemed to possess no body to speak of. Four legs tipped by three large talons that tore up the ground, completed each aberration. Their heads were dominated by two things, a snarling face with malicious blood red eyes over a fang filled maw. A pair of heavy bolters each held in metallic cradles, were attached to the side of the monsters heads: lethal ear muffs that spat a continuous stream of explosive death.

The word daemon leapt to the fore front of the captain's mind. His stomach churned and a wave of nausea that threatened to drop him to his knees, washed over him at that thought. Then an unexpected mechanical screech broke the nauseating fear before it could break Greydo.

“Unholy abominations,” stuttered the techpriest.

A dark cowl shrouded figure with strange waving appendages growing from its back appeared behind the daemon machine hybrids. Greydo had never seen anything like this figure before, and it sent a cold shiver down his back.

“Please captain, please; you must order your men to target that abomination. For the Omnissiah’s sake, please,” rasped Cranmec, his voice so strained, fragile, it was almost lost to the riot of sound that reverberated around the valley.

The sound of the enginseer's voice shocked the captain; he was just not used to hearing such emotion, such weakness, in the techpriest's voice. It spoke volumes about the torment the man must be enduring.

Greydo did not need to be told the enginseer spoke about the dark figure. He just knew that creature was the greatest threat he had ever faced during his long career as an imperial guard officer.

Mustering as much control as he could, he tapped the micro bead, opening a vox channel. His ear was instantly filled with a painful hissing static. He called for the multi-laser crews, there was no reply. Then just as panic threatened his self control once more, a voice, faint, almost missed beneath the hissing vox static.

“All gun carriages target the dark figure at once, I repeat target the dark figure not those aberrations,” screamed Greydo.

Straining his ears, he fought to hear a reply over the static, but could hear nothing. Then he got the only reply he really needed; both multi-lasers, in some miraculous Emperor inspired moment, opened fire at the same instant. A torrent of heavy las fire slammed into the dark figure, it stumbled backwards as flash after flash erupted around it.

Greydo cursed, the warped damned creature had some kind of energy field protecting it. Yet, even as the curse escaped his lips he realised there was some hope, the figure was being pushed backwards by the impact of the heavy las bolts as they struck its protective shield.

Suddenly, the pain-full hissing static that clogged the vox channels, died. It was replaced by a deluge of voices shouting orders or screaming for help.

Quickly the captain tapped out the override code into the little control panel on his belt, blocking all other transmissions on that channel.

“All units, this is command, support the multi-lasers, target that figure now. By the throne we may overload its damn shielding,” said Greydo, surprised at how calm he sounded.

A blinding storm of light filled the space between the imperial lines and the figure. All the imperial guns were focused upon that single target. It produced a thick matt of las beams, which appeared solid enough to walk across, and created a heat haze that shimmered and shivered the air around it. The enemy's heavy bolters stopped firing for a moment, before starting up again. However, this time their aim was erratic. The daemon hybrids fired at the rock walls or the empty ground between them and the imperial troopers. Rarely did any shells actually hit the imperial lines. Then, slowly at first, but picking up a surprising turn of speed, the warp spawned aberrations started to retreat.

Just as they and the figure retreated from view a noise drew Greydo's attention back to enginseer Cranmec. Just in time to see the techpriest stumble forward and drop to one knee. The techpriests two skitarii also sprang into life; thrashing around they clamber to their feet unsteadily.

“Throne, what was that accursed thing; a mind witch?” asked Greydo.

“No, something much worse than that I'm afraid, captain Erin Greydo. But it explains much about why our machine spirits have been so troubled in this war; we should have known.” There was real human emotion in Cranmec's voice. Greydo had become so used to the techpriest's passionless tone that to suddenly hear such emotion was perhaps, even more disturbing for the captain than the enemy had been. “Captain, it is imperative I give chase. That abomination must not be allowed to escape. But I require your assistance.” as Cranmec spoke that flat emotionless tone so familiar to Greydo began to reassert itself, much to the captains relief.

“I'm not exactly sure what I can do enginseer Cranmec, not against that... thing,” he replied.

“I wish to give you a message captain, a message my superiors have to get, a message that could determine the fate of all imperial forces upon this planet.”

“I . . . I'm not entirely sure that is within my power enginseer. The vox channels are still full of static, static that barely allows short range transmissions,” replied Greydo.

Cranmec stepped closer to Greydo, his bulky body filling the captain's vision.

“That figure must die captain. It represents a huge danger to the imperium and the Omnissiah. He is an old foe a traitor to all of mankind, and perhaps one of the most powerful to be encountered by any for some time. It is his work that fouls the vox. I will not survive a direct confrontation with such a foe as this, but there is a chance that confrontation may prove enough of a distraction. If it is the Omnissiah’s will, your vox systems may be free from interference long enough for you to get my message through.”

Despite predicting his own death Cranmec's voice still held that emotionless tone it usually did. Strangely, Greydo took some comfort in that fact, he knew the enginseer would do his utmost to ensure that the distraction came about.

“I'll have to take your word for that enginseer Cranmec. What message do you want me to tell your superiors?" asked Greydo; mustering all his might to keep the panic he felt from his voice.

“Simply repeat these words. The Dark Mechanicus is here.”
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

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