Failed Submission Short - Ultramarines V. Orks

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Failed Submission Short - Ultramarines V. Orks

Postby Corrigan Phoenix » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:04 am

Hey all, I went in for the job role of Fiction Writer for GW/BL recently, and received a rejection email the other day, so thought I'd share the piece I wrote for the sample. I wanted to play with format, and possibly give them something beyond the generic SM v Orks that they'd see all the time. Critiques welcome.

To Do What Must Be Done


It was one of the hardest things he had ever done.
The burning ache of his superhuman muscles were a small, familiar comfort as he ran, ragged purity seals and oath papers fluttering from his battered cobalt armour armour. Fire screamed overhead, the massed noise of millions of rounds of ammunition melding into a continuous screech that brought to mind the death-knell of a Tyranid Hive Tyrant. Brother-Marine Agrican wove his way through the fallen debris of shattered buildings, burnt-out vehicles and the litter of a million fleeing citizens. The only weapons he carried were a bolt pistol with a half-full magazine and the gladius short-sword that was his squad's tradition.
The only other thing he carried was the message he had been given to send. Streets flew by in a blur as his unconsciousness guided him closer to his objective.
His enhanced sense of smell alerted him to their presence before he heard or saw them. The putrid mixture of rotting wood, body odour, prometheum, blood and rough cordite assailed his nostrils, his brain filtering the component scents before he caught the sound of their grunting.
''Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!' The Commander had warned him that the greenskins may have made a move for the communications centre, but Agrican hadn't thought it was possible until now. Easing himself against the corner of the intersection, the Space Marine slid a piece of glass forward with the tip of his boot, the machine spirit in his helmet zooming into the reflection and picking out the forms of the three Orks. They were stood just before the entrance to the comms complex. Twin heartbeats already picking up their pace, he drew his sword and darted around the corner, pistol raised at the closest beast's head.
All five bolt rounds that he had left detonated within a tight group around the Ork's head, ripping its scalp and shattering part of its thick skull, but still it roared and charged with its brethren to meet him. Agrican ducked the swing of its oversized axe, thundering his pistol into its nose hard enough to cave in the beast's face. Rolling over its falling body, a flick of his gladius took the head off of the second beast just as its club hit his knee, shattering the armoured joint even as it died. The third barrelled into him, weapon forgotten, its thick arms wrapping around his torso, pinning his arms to his sides. His Commander's words flashed through his mind; “Do not fail.” and anger coursed through his veins. He arced his head back, then head-butted the creature in its foetid mouth, repeating the gesture over and over in a frenzied struggle until a lumpy mass of leaking green flesh was all that remained.
Agrican removed his fractured helmet and dropped it to the road with a sigh. He staggered to the entrance of the communications complex and limped inside.

*

It was one of the hardest things he had ever done.
All the training he had received, all of the intuition, all of the gifts that had caused the Masters of the Chapter to select him for the journey to Mars, warred against the desecration he was committing to his armour. He stalked away from where he had left his brothers, stripping section after section of armour, dropping each piece carelessly to the ground. Each armoured plate landed with a mournful clang, as if the Machine Spirit of his armour was crying out in pain and shame as he broke it up into parts. Eventually he was left just in his bodyglove, a sheath of thin plastic run through with tiny filament wires and sensors to connect his enhanced body to the advanced workings of the tactical armour.
Tech-aspirant Garret entered the main thorough-fare, bare feet slapping the rockcrete as he jogged across the roads to the building opposite. He slid back-first into a tight, shadowy crevice, his sense of honour warring with his actions. Garret focussed his mind, slowing his heartbeat and shutting out the noise of the advancing battle as he meditated, keeping a low awareness of his surroundings as he conserved his energy.
Rhythmic tremors ran through the floor and angled walls of his bolthole, shaking him from his mantras and awakening him to the world around him. Crowds of green-skinned beasts charged past in roaring waves, the feral noise deafening at such proximity. The beat of the tremors built, stronger every few seconds, until he saw it shuffle into view – a giant armoured leg. Gripping the edges of his man-made burrow, Garret launched himself into a sprint aimed straight for the leg. He ducked swings of various weapons and dodged the grappling arms of enraged Orks as he passed; his target was in sight and he was not to be swayed. Even as he moved, his eyes scanned the construct for an entrance point, and he found it.
Leaping onto the muscular back of a passing greenskin, the Ultramarine sprung up into the air, crashing bodily into a metal panel that had obviously been hastily welded into place. He burst through the flimsy sheet like it was oath-paper, emerging into cramped, steam-filled corridors. A handful of the Ork's small cousin-kin shrieked in surprise and scampered away into the machine's depths at the sight of him, and he grinned to himself. The easy part was over – now he had to find the core.

*

It was one of the hardest things he had ever done.
It was a massive gamble, as Orks were unpredictable at the best of times, even more so during one of their murderous rages in battle, but Raffe had to try. He walked slowly forward, trying to look as harmless as possible – a difficult feat for an over-muscled, superhuman, but still he kept his hands visible and placed each boot forward carefully. Underneath his armour, Brother Raffe's arms twitched with the need to draw blood – he longed to seize his weapons and lay about him into the xenos masses about him, but he resisted stoically.
Unusually, they were cautious at first, though to his eyes the first waves consisted of the younger and smaller Orks. As soon as the larger beasts started to emerge from the innumerable bodies, he was grabbed roughly and had a sack thrown over his head. He was half-dragged, stumbling, past thousands of greenskins, if the smell and noise was anything to go by. An occasional blade nicked his armour, chipping the already worn cobalt blue paint work, and his helmet's sensors went crazy at all the slap impacts he received as he passed the bolder individuals. Constantly he prayed to the God-Emperor and the Primarch, beseeching them to stay the hand of any Orks along his route.
Finally, he was brought to a halt in a relatively quieter area, the sound of battle a distant buzz behind him. Hard metal impacted the backs of his knees, massive paws on his shoulder pads forcing him down to the dirt. The sack hissed as it was whipped off of his helmet, and his helmet was removed.
He was surrounded by four giant brutes – elite of the Ork's Warlord, Raffe assumed. Sat in front of him, on a mock throne made of scrap metal, was the Ork Boss himself – Titanbane. A stolen Space Marine Thunderhammer sat across it's lap, and large red eyes stared at him – intelligence clearly glittering behind a veneer of arrogance. Raffe's lip curled upwards in disgust, and the Warboss' lip did the same, twisting its mouth into a grin of amusement. Bracing his boot on the dirt behind him, the Space Marine shot forward, using his relatively small size to dodge the grasps of his guards and race towards the throne. A short gladius appeared in his hand from where it had lain against his leg – painted blue to hide it from the Orks – and dove to the attack.

*

It was one of the hardest things he had ever done.
Acidic bile stung his throat and mouth as he walked along the front lines, but he forced it down. Outwardly, he appeared calm and ready and, physically, he was. Mentally, he was in turmoil. The mission the Commander had given him went against everything he stood for, everything he had been taught, and everything the Chapter stood for. As he passed them, the combined men and women of the Imperial Guard and Planetary Defence Force regiments nodded and smiled at him, some even going so far as to salute him. He did not return the salutes – he could not bear to.
He made his way to the command tent, finding General Choral pouring over the latest scouting reports with her advisor. The General smiled – a rare crack in her usually sombre expression – and waved Verddun to approach. The Space Marine gave a slow nod as he entered the canvas enclosure. Practical. That was how she had described Verddun when they had been first introduced. The irony was not lost on him now.
'General – have you seen the latest greenskin movements?' She waved her hand at the maps and reports scattered on her desk.
'I was just finishing reviewing them. Sinda here was going to vox your Commander for me – does he have any recommendations for my men?' Verddun shook his head dismissively, the impassive statue of his helmet masking the grimace of distaste that he couldn't prevent.
'No, General.' Choral looked up sharply at his tone, 'Have you seen the movements?' He gestured outside, towards the front line walls. Something ached inside him as she walked, without hesitation, to go and see what he meant – she trusted him. Sinda followed, with Verddun close behind. Five minutes of self-torment later, they reached the walls, and the General looked out over the surging tides of green before her.
'Well Verddun? What is it that your Commander wanted me to see? Our doomed opposition?'
'No, General.' Something in his voice – even through the vox speakers on his suit – made her look at him with a frown, and he amplified his voice to full volume, 'He wanted you to see our doomed forces.' There were gasps all around as the nearby troops heard his words, followed shortly by screams as his gladius pierced the General's chest. Shock and sadness played across her face.
'I'm sorry, Larease.' Verddun shook the body off of his sword before turning to start carving his way through the mortals around him, las-fire already dissipating harmlessly off his armour.

*

Breaking from the rites of the Codex Astartes was unthinkable for a Space Marine of the Ultramarines Chapter, but it was all he had left. Almost his entire force had been expended – just five men left out of thirty – combatting what had been reported as a "small feral Ork incursion force". They had expected a simple seek and destroy mission, not a protracted battle. Improperly prepared, barely armed appropriately, they had fought their best, and inspired the mortals as best they could, but Commander Dion knew they couldn't hold. The planet's best hope was outside help now, and they needed Agrican to get the message out. The Ork stompa would have destroyed the comm.s array; there was no other option but to send Garret after it. Brother Ruffe wouldn't get close to Titanbane and get his attempt on the Warboss' life unless the Orks were overconfident from decimating the Imperials. To that end, Verddun had the unpleasant task of taking out the mortal force's command structure.
To stain his own honour by giving such an order was hard enough; to give an order that would utterly destroy the honour of his men was worse – it was almost unbearable. In self-contempt of what he was about to do, Commander Dion of the Ultramarines ripped off the many oath papers decorating his chest, and turned to give his orders.
It was the hardest thing he had ever done.
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Corrigan Phoenix
 
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