RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby J D Dunsany » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:10 pm

Okay. New boards; new RiaR.

The March/April Read in a Rush competition is now open. Guidelines are as follows:

To enter the competition, you must write a short story of between 850 and 1150 words in length addressing in some way the prompt word or phrase announced at the start of the competition. In this case, it's Shattered Dream. Entries set in any of BL's universes are perfectly acceptable (40K, Horus Heresy, WHF, Blood Bowl etc).

You should post your entries on or before the deadline of 2100GMT on Wednesday 30th March. There is no limit to the amount of entries you can post, but, in a break from the previous board's practice (and in acknowledgement of longsuffering readers who have been faced with a veritable mountain of stories to get through), only one may be submitted for voting. If you've only posted one entry in the two-week posting period, then you don't need to do anything. Your entry will be automatically submitted for voting. If you've written more than one entry, you will need to PM me with the title of your chosen entry. The full list of entries (and probably the entries themselves) will be posted at the start of the voting thread when it appears. You will be given a full week to make your decision about which story to put forward. If you do not manage to PM me before that time, then I will put your first story into the voting thread.

Voting will follow the tried and trusted RiaR format and there'll be more about that on the voting thread.

If you need any clarification regarding rules, feel free to post them here and I'll answer questions as quickly as I can. Otherwise, get posting!

:D

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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Squiggle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:41 am

Oooo, oooh look at this, Not only do I ACTUALLY HAVE AN ENTRY, but IM IN FIRST! Do I get a prize? No? Shame.

Oh, and for all you long suffering types, this is going to be my sole entry. So READ IT! HAHAHAHA

Enjoy. :D


Shattered Dream


I had… failed.

Blood. Great surging torrents of it. It spilled over my armoured fingers with every dual thumping heartbeat. It was a slick, sticky gout of fluid that I could do nothing to stop. Adrenaline coursed into my emptying veins, my heart pounded faster and with it, the splashes of blood grew more frequent.

I was… dying.

Slumped against a wall, helmet off, staring down at the ragged hole in my chest, the ragged hole I would not survive. I didn’t even know who killed me.

It wasn’t meant to end like this.

I remembered the rumours.

His faith is exemplary, powerful. He could inspire, he could lead his brothers in worship. I intend to recommend him to the reclusiarch.

He has an uncanny affinity for the rites of weapon maintenance. His empathy with the machine spirits is extraordinary for one so untrained. I intend to recommend him for an internship on Mars.


But these paths were too limiting, too constrained. I had dreams to fulfil.

My heart slowed, the adrenaline-fuelled pace lessened. The splatter of blood staining my muted, grey armour bright crimson slowed to a trickle.

‘Brother Istes, I need to speak to you.’ It was Captain Chete of the Night Scars 4th. My company. My pulse surged at his direct approach. I was young and I had fought in a handful of combat missions.

‘Captain Chete,’ I replied, bowing my head respectfully. ‘How may I be of assistance?’

‘Not so formal, Hanzi,’ he said, with a flash of white teeth. ‘You are fourth squad, correct.’

‘Yes,’ I cracked a fist off my breastplate. ‘First in, last out. Sergeant Antic’s Fourth of Four.’

Chete’s smirk broadened into a full grin. ‘Good. I see the Sergeant still has his new recruits chanting the same old rhetoric.’ His face grew serious. ‘I have a challenge for you, Hanzi. Consider it, and if you find yourself wanting, there is no shame in deferring.’

‘What is the challenge, Captain?’ I said. Unconsciously I had come to attention, back ramrod straight, my grey armour gleaming with polish and humming at full-efficiency.

On Tramour, second squad bore the brunt of the tyranid assault. Sergeant Mowai was grievously wounded. Though his body was able to survive the initial trauma, the efforts of our apothecaries were unable to revive him. Sergeant Mowai passed away this dark morning.’

‘May the Emperor rest his soul,’ I replied automatically, squeezing my hands into fists at the rage and pain of a brother’s passing, especially one so lauded and heroic as Sergeant Mowai.

‘Righteous words, Hanzi,’ Chete said.

‘I have spent the subsequent hours in thorough consultation with my closest confidants. The clarion call of war breaches our night once more. Second squad must have a leader.’

He stepped forwards, placed one hand on my shoulder. ‘Brother Hanzi Istes, will take on that burden of responsibility, that honour? Will you accept this challenge?’

I met his iron-grey gaze with my own amber-flecked blue eyes. ‘Brother Captain Chete, with all my soul I accept.’ I said.

With his free hand, Chete grasped my own. ‘Then welcome, Sergeant Istes. You have much to learn, and huge steps to fill. Christoph Mowai was a hero. You will need to be a hero.’

I swallowed.


The blood had stopped. My vision was blurred. But I was alive. I would survive. One hand still pressed over the hole in my chest, I fumbled for my bolter with my other. I picked it up. Five rounds remained in the clip. I had no more ammunition.

Awkwardly, breathing hard, I rolled onto all fours and then pushed myself upright. My muscles burned with the effort, purple sparks flickered in my vision. I leant against the wall, bolter raised. The bombardment had stopped. My brothers were coming. It would not be long, now.

To take over from Mowai had been hard. Second Squad were gnarled veterans all. They did not take well to my promotion. It was clear several of them had been eyeing the position. It took me months to earn their respect in the bloody forge of battle. But I earned it, with blood, and steel and victories. After six months fighting alongside them, I lost my right arm on Federox, battling a monstrous hive tyrant. After that, they welcomed me as one of their own. I was not to remain their leader for long.

‘Sergeant Istes?’ I was kneeling in prayer in my cell. As was my custom, I had left the door standing open – there is no shame is praying, no shame in looking to one more powerful than oneself for assistance. I left the door open so that my squad and my brothers could see that.

I looked up. Commander Gangferl was standing in the doorway to my cell. His face was twisted around a brutal scar, his armour was the grey of the chapter, and lacked ornamentation. His warblade was strapped across his back. Gangferl was a brutal killer and a master strategist – I respected him immensely. He was second only among the Night Scars to Chapter Master Rekja himself. I was honoured by his presence – I remained kneeling.

‘Commander Gangferl,’ I said.

‘Rekja requires your presence, Istes,’ was all he said. His voice was a thick growl. He turned and marched off along the stone corridor. His boots rang against the granite slabs. I got to my feet and hurried after him.

Chapter Master Rekja was a man adverse to ceremony. Despite his rank, he wore plain, unadorned armour and carried a chainblade. He stood on the battlements of our fortress, staring out into the mists that shrouded us from view, high as we were in the mountains.

Gangferl left me to face him.

Rekja has an unkind face and a blunt way of speaking. He had been the one to confirm me as a Sergeant.

‘Hanzi,’ he said, not looking at me.

‘Sire,’ I replied.

‘Sixth company’s Captain is dead.’

‘Sire,’ I said. I knew Captain Druce had been killed facing the greenskins on Severn. His men had mourned his loss.

‘I therefore need a new Captain for the Sixth.’

‘Sire,’ I replied. I did not know what else to say.

He turned to face me. His eyes were black, his skin dusky and lined with white scars. His hair was shot through with grey.

‘Will you take up the mantle of command? Do you have it within you to take his men, to earn their trust and lead them to the victories the Imperium requires? You cannot afford to fail me.’

‘I do.’

‘Good.’ He turned back to studying the mist. ‘Gangferl will make the arrangements. Dismissed. May the Emperor watch your back.’

I was
Captain.

My recovery was short lived. The bolter fell from my fingers and clattered on the rubble. I fell. Blood trickled from my lips. My heart stopped beating.

My dreams stopped with it.

1150 words, exactly
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:57 am

I’m Already There


I sank to my knees, revulsion and sickness erupting from the pit of my stomach. Inhaling a bit of air, I coughed violently and began to convulse, falling to my side like a wounded dog as I shuddered on the ground. Bile and vomit blinded my eyes as the interior of my helmet filled with its sickly yellow fluid.

This sensation was horrific, and I have seen a great many horrible things in my time. This was anathema to me, to feel as I do now with the afflictions that assailed me, from both within and without. My genetically enhanced physiology should have forbidden such things from happening. Beads of sweat trickled along my stone cold skin. I contracted again as I felt another surge of violence detonate inside, the bones of my skeleton frame screaming in silent protest as they wished to be free of my body.

Then it stopped. I lay with my back on the ground, my senses weak and frail, the fluids that I had just expelled gathering behind my head in a pool of congealed slime that I barely registered.

Detached and watching the events unfold from within the sanctum of my own mind; I felt coldness grip my wrecked body. When I tried to move a limb, I felt the ends of a thousand thousand pinpricks jolt along it. Confusion and weakness continued to haunt me, but what seized me most all was the alien sensation that mortals called fear; a concept I haven’t felt since I was but eleven years old, some two hundred years ago. Though my twin hearts still beat in my breast, I felt like my soul had been ripped from inside me. I felt hollow and empty.

‘Ghulazio…’ I whispered faintly, feebly drooling sick from my mouth as I did.

Nothing, I said it again but no answered came, no voice from either in or outside of my head, and no rising feelings either.

For five years I had lived with another being inside, a being from the Aether called Ghulazio. We were inseparable; symbiotic even, giving me strength that none of my former brothers could possess, strength that even the False-Emperor Himself could not bestow with. When I was angry, he was enraged, when I was pacified, he was hungry, and when I was killing, he was frenzied.

But now he was gone, and I don’t know why.

My resolve returning slightly, I, against the pain that throbbed in my arms, lifted up my hands and twisted my helmet, pulling it away, feeling the slime drench away.

The wind blew slightly, specks of dust chinking against my armour. I rolled to my side, my strength but bear minimal. I placed one armoured hand down first, then I placed the second and with what strength I could muster, I began to rise to my knees again, but my limbs deceived me, and I crashed to the ground with indignation. Groaning, I try once more but fell in the same fashion.

Turning my head to the side, my eyes looked upon the distant walls of the Imperial Palace, its size mighty and imposing evens this far away. Fires raged in many places, with giant gaping wounds exposing many places on the walls where destruction had brought it down.

But where are the legions? I thought, my eyes widening. Where are the warriors of Angron, or of Mortarion?

Urgency taken over, I slammed my hand onto the ground and pushed, planting the other and, with shaking arms, erected myself up. I was still on my knees, and despite my fingers scraping along into the dark craggily sand, I was able to support myself.

The wind blew again, casting dust into my eyes but that did not bother me. Lying on the ground near me were the still forms of my brother legionaries, their green armour showing as one side was starting to become buried in sand as it was being blown in by the winds. The blood seeping from their fist size gun wounds were also fast becoming filled.

Hearing a thunderclap to my right, I turned, slowly, in time to witness the ascent of a red stormbird, the emblem of the World Eaters on its sides.

Why run? Victory is within our grasp. Unless…

With that thought, I looked to the heavens and searched for the shadow that might be the Vengeful Spirit.

Angron would never run. He has never run.

Then it dawned on me. It was inconceivable, impossible even, but the thought brought about another fit of vomiting, but through the convulsions the thought stuck with me. And I knew it was true, for why else would Ghulazio or even the bloodthirsty Angron, would leave me?

I stared up to the heavens and wailed ‘no!’ my voice echoing to the winds.

Horus, Warmaster, Lupercal, Father, was dead. How or why didn’t matter, he was dead, and he was never going to come back. I had been by his side since the days of the Great Crusade, watched as he became Warmaster, and challenged the False-Emperor and His corrupt Imperium.

With Him removed, Horus would have led humanity into a newer, brighter future, with me at his side to see it happen, but that is not to be now.

‘No, die!’

I thrashed where I was with wild abandonment, pounding my fists into the sand and casting it frantically everywhere, the armour on my gauntlets splitting; with streams of blood spilling out of the cracks from my broken fingers.

My body weakening again, all I felt was an aching hollowness consume inside me as my heart cried out for Horus and Ghulazio. Looking upon the edifice that was the False-Emperor’s palace, my eyes began shedding tears that could fill an ocean. It was over.

Time past by without notice, the shadows yawning longer from the bodies of my dead brothers as the sun dipped lower over the horizon. Then a larger shadow loomed in front of me, and it was mere minutes before I finally looked upon the one standing in front of me.

Hate and anger filled this warrior’s eyes, his white armour stained with blood and gore. More like him stood behind, each displaying long beards and moustaches, much like their leader, Jaghatai Khan.

The warrior didn’t say anything, simply staring down at me. Then he said ‘Pathetic wretch,’ venom in his words ‘and to think I once called you brother.’ Gurgling, the warrior spat a goblet of phlegm at me, its corrosiveness eating away at the great eye of Horus on the front of my armour.

Standing back, the warrior stood side by side with his ilk in a line, each pulling back the catch on the side of their bolters before training on me, a dozen barrels aimed directly at me.

‘See you in hell, wretch.’

‘I’m already there.’

The End.


The word count is 1149, the title and "the end" included.
Last edited by Stuart000X on Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:34 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:14 pm

@ Squggle

Well done :) That was a good emotive, and quite personal story. It started off a little slow, but as it went the pace picked up and then it started to come into it's own. Well done.

The only issues i have is a spelling/grammar errors. When refering to the Emperor, the His/Him are always spelt with a capitol. Otherwise, a good story :)
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Squiggle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:58 pm

Cheers stu.ill get to yours when im home tonight.ill check my punctuation!!
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:45 pm

A small section of Plaything, from Interlude I. It takes place in a flashback of sorts, one of several fleshing out a relationship. JDD: if this can't prod you into action, I don't know what can. As a minor clarification, this is the point at which Sheka's latent psychic powers come to the fore...

+++

Under the Spreading Pluquat Tree (Sweet Fruit and Bitter Memories)

(1149 words)

+++

“Does not the heat bother you as well, Montra?” Sheka asked, fanning herself as her hansporod mount rolled beneath her. Montra Alexos, beside her, shook his head.

“The day is really quite mild, my dear,” he said, amused. His own hansporod stepped gently over an errant bush. Despite their appearance, the fat, leathery, bulbous things were incredibly light on their feet, and as such, a favorite for use by trysting lovers. Not that his courting of the Lady-Heir Scouras was exactly a secret, or even frowned upon by many, but some things were best enjoyed in privacy. Leaving no tracks went some way toward achieving that.

Their mounts threaded a path through the pluquat groves, which had been planted in orderly rows but allowed to grow into some semblance of wildness. Golden globes of ripe fruit bent the golden-leafed boughs on which they hung. The idyllic quiet was enhanced, rather than broken, by the buzzing of insects and the gentle creak of the pluquat trees in the breeze.

Soon enough, they dismounted and tied up their mounts. They set down their blanket, smiling whenever their eyes met, and feasted on the sweet, sticky fruits. A few, overripe, had already fallen from the tree under which, at Sheka’s insistence, they sheltered.

They laughed as they fed each other pluquats and the juice made fools of them both, dribbling down their chins into their clothes. When Alexos tried to lap what he had spilled on her chest, she laughed all the harder and pushed him away.

They made idle talk after eating, content to simply sit for a time, knitting their hands together and whiling away the day. They watched small, puffy clouds swim through the blue-green sky above.

Eventually, Alexos judged that the time was right. Asking Sheka to wait, he returned to the grazing hansporods. He fished through the saddle-pack, taking out a small package and carrying the surprise gift back to his fiancée. Beads of sweat had beaded on her brow and lip, and he frowned.

“You really are overheating, aren’t you,” he said. “Are you sure that you are not feverish?”

“It is nothing,” she said, attempting to wave away his concern. “Let us see what you have there. I do not doubt that it will prove more interesting than my petty discomfort.”

He gave her the mesh-wrapped package. Sheka shucked off the outer layer, then carefully lifted the lid off the small, ornately-carved box. She gasped gratifyingly.

The torc within was a piece of delicately twisted and filigreed gold, inset with one large ruby. She slipped it on her bare arm, sliding it past her wrist and elbow until it rested against the smooth, tanned flesh of her upper arm.

“Montra,” she breathed, the her right hand tracing its curves, “it is beautiful.”

“It is crude and dim beside your face, my lady,” he replied with playful formality, smiling gently.

“I really do not know what to say. It is absolutely marvelous, Montra.”

“It is a poor representation of my love, and a poorer substitute beside your beauty,” he insisted, nevertheless pleased that she had received the gift so well. “It is no great matter, truly.”

“Perhaps so,” Sheka said, “but…”

She exhaled gently. “But…”

She swallowed heavily, her voice stopped by emotion.

“Sheka,” said Alexos, slightly unsettled by the strength of her response, “I do not measure my love for you by mere material objects, you know that. You need not take so lightly meant a thing so deeply.”

“No,” replied Sheka, shaking her head suddenly, forcefully. “I know that. This blasted heat unsteadies my thoughts, and fills them with impossibilities.”

“You need not fear,” said Alexos. “I will not leave you, no matter how much my father insists that I join the Commissariat. An officer post in the PDF will be just as viable after I finish my studies at the Schola, and will not require leaving Karisas. I shall love you forever, my wife-to-be. This I swear.”

“I should hope so,” began Sheka, hints of her usual wry humor returning. “Were you beginning to doubt your commitment before we even exchange our vows in proper, I would be unsettled all the more.

“I know that you love me, Montra,” she said, serious again. “That is not in doubt, nor shall it be. It is simply that, I, well, I…”

Her voice died.

“I…” she began again, and her voice faded as she lost the train of thought for a second time. Her gaze was flat and listless, and as Alexos met her eyes again, he saw them unfocus and drift away from his face.

“Sheka?” he asked, fear beginning to truly sink its claws into his heart.

She did not reply.

“Sheka? Are you alright?”

Silence.

And then—she screamed.

The air shattered as if it was a pane of glass hit by a stone, and for a second, fleeting, twisting fractures wormed their way through reality. Alexos was thrown backward, his head cracking against the roots of the tree behind him.

Even dazed as he was, he saw Sheka begin to rise into the air. Her psychic scream was ear-splitting and unending, louder and longer than possible from human lungs. Blasts of crushing wind pushed him back, pressing him down and away from his fiancée. Every tree around their blanket bowed away, their ancient trunks protesting loudly. Ripe pluquats rained to the ground in their hundreds. The hansporods pulled up their tether-stake and fled.

Alexos, dizzy and disoriented, reached desperately toward Sheka with one arm, but was otherwise flattened against the tree. Despair tore through his mind: a terrible, uncomprehending, incomprehensible pain. He did not know what was happening—but whatever it was, he already knew Sheka was lost to him. He couldn't feel the tears coursing down his cheeks.

Hanging suspended in the air, her back arched and her muscles rigid, Sheka's scream continued. Her hair splayed eerily out behind her, drifting without gravity. The psychic winds blasted him flat, but she floated in an oasis of calm air, her clothes unruffled. Finally, the scream dwindled and expired, leaving Alexos's ears ringing. She collapsed to the ground and the wind died.

Alexos dragged his battered self over to her limp body and found that her breath was faint but present. Her heart beat rapidly and irregularly in her chest, fluttering in a pattern as unpredictable and weak as that of a butterfly’s wingbeats.

Fallen pluquats lay in a thick carpet. The fruits' rich, tangy scent filled the air. Golden leaves shaken loose from the trees drifted downward twisting, flipping, and landing around the two bodies.

Alexos did not have to wait long before the men from the Black Ships arrived to take her away.
Last edited by Mossy Toes on Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:59 pm

Both good stories, and strong entrants. One small complaint with each, though.

Squig: the POV shift from close, personal first person to a sort of omniscient 1st person (ie, relating the events like his heart stopping and stuff) is a bit jarring. I get that the word count limit is what kept it abrupt, but...still, if you could do something there, I'd rest easier.

Stu: just one small thing. Astartes spit isn't exactly phlegm-like. In fact, it's a quite strong corrosive poison. So the gesture is appropriate; less so, the result and description. (The Betcher's Gland)
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:45 pm

Mossy Toes wrote:Both good stories, and strong entrants. One small complaint with each, though.

Stu: just one small thing. Astartes spit isn't exactly phlegm-like. In fact, it's a quite strong corrosive poison. So the gesture is appropriate; less so, the result and description. (The Betcher's Gland)


Thanks. I took on board what you said, and i have made the appropriate change. The word count is 1049 now :)
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Squiggle » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:38 am

Right...

Stu - interesting story. I'm impressed you had the stones to go for such a massive subject. I thought it was well done, however. All I would say is that there were a few moments where your use of tense slipped from past to present, which was a little jarring. Apart from that though it was a solid effort.

Mossy - another good story. What the hell is a hansporod? Suffers slightly from being plucked out of another, longer work, but adequately covers the theme and it is nice to see something a little different!

Oh, and I suppose the ending is pretty abrupt, but he did die after all...

TBH, I sat down to write that story and ended up inventing a new chapter and some characters I already really like, like Sgt Mowai and Commander Gangferl. it could probly have been longer, but I'm still pleased with the output. Thanks for the crit
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:56 am

@ Mossy Toes

An interesting tale, I did however, found that the story was slightly predictable. Though the outcome wasn’t, I found the beginning to be too lovely for it to end well, it being the norm in the 40k universe that all good things come to an, and the end is usually shocking and gruesome. There’s a degree of perplexity as to how or why the woman died at the end. On its own the story doesn’t make sense, but if anyone wants to find out her fate, I imagine this story makes for a good lure for readers to want to read the bigger story that it is attached to. I also found a few grammar errors along the way. Otherwise a fairly decent story :)
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby ninja101 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:57 am

THIS STORY IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR VOTING

First, an apology. I missed out on the voting in the last competition thanks to the combined circumstances of my computer having a meltdown and travelling back from month-long excursion to the States, which delayed the essential repairs until after the deadline had passed. Having missed the last RIAR on the old (well, middle, i suppose?) boards I faithfully promise to do my best to vote in the first edition on the shiny new boards!

With that out of the way, my entry:

Shattered Dreams


“What now?” barked Colonel Koppig, swivelling his chair to glare at the mousy civilian attache who had poked her head around the door of his office. Confronted by the sight of the Colonel's eyes blazing out from under his shaggy mane of greying hair the attache hesitated a moment,

“I...I”, she coughed, “I said, sir, that there is...someone here to see you. Under a flag of truce.”

Koppig sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose between forefinger and thumb. “Who...no, no. Just show them in will you?” The woman ducked back through the doorway and Koppig slumped back in his chair, “I swear”, he muttered, “if it's another of these feudal barons come to complain about the evacuation of their ancestral lands...”

“I am sorry to interrupt, Colonel” came a stunningly clear voice, “but there is an urgent matter I must discuss with you.” Before the Colonel stood an Eldar ranger. Koppig was a tall man, but the alien stood a full head and shoulders taller still, dressed in light, flexible armour coloured a muted yellow and blue, and a heavy green cloak, which hung down from the Eldar's shoulders. Koppig stood, straightened his uniform and held out a hand.

“Colonel Koppig, 42nd Vechten Rifles.”

The ranger smiled, taking the hand. “Viaggiatore, Ranger. Pleased to finally meet you, Colonel. Your subordinates seemed to doubt the sincerity of my intent.”

Koppig offered a weak smile and withdrew his hand. “I'm sorry”, he said. “We've got our hands full with the evacuation and...”

Viaggiatore cut him off, “I understand, Colonel, it is about the evacuation that I have come before you to speak. Do I take it by your removal of military and civilian assets that you will not be defending this world?”

Koppig sighed, sat heavily down into his chair and motioned to the spare seat. “No”, he said, with some finality, “Our orders are to abandon the world to Leviathan. We wait till they invade, then glass the world from orbit”. Koppig sighed again and looked down, his forehead in his hand.

Viaggiatore, sitting uncomfortably on the worn leather of his seat, leant forward. “This world must be held. For as long as possible.”

Koppig looked up. “What did you say?”

Without moving, Viaggiatore repeated, “This world must be held. Defended. For as long as possible. The fate of my craftworld hangs in the balance.”

Koppig's laugh rang out in the office like a bark. He looked incredulously back at Viaggiatore. “You do not give me orders, Eldar. Your people want their backsides saved, you tell them to get down here and do it. My men have their orders, and we ain't dying for no xenos.”

Viaggiatore missed only a beat at the way Koppig spat this last word, “I do not think you understand, human”, he repeated slowly. “Whatever the cost. My company of rangers and I will stand with you. Your people can “glass the world” as a last resort. Some things are worth dying for.”

Koppig stood then, turning away from the Eldar, his hands clasped behind his back. “You don't think I agree? That all my training, all my experience, is shouting at me to stay and to fight? Even if that means dying? I have my orders. I can't help you.”

Viaggiatore moved up behind Koppig. “If this world is abandoned, the aliens will consume my home, and cut a swathe through your empire. If we stay and fight you and I will die here, but we will save our species.”

Koppig brushed past the Eldar and sat back in his chair. “I can't just go off radar. Not on something this big. I can hold off the exterminatus frigate. Buy you time. That's all.”

Viaggiatore stayed standing. “You don't know what's coming”, he said.

Koppig looked up at the ranger, “Don't know what's coming?” he almost shouted. “I've fought these things all across this sector for twenty years. Inch by bloody, Emperor-damned inch.”

Viaggiatore pulled his chair up near to Koppig's and spoke close to him, quietly. “I know what they did to your homeworld, Colonel”. Koppig turned sharply to look at the ranger, but Viaggiatore went on, “I don't even know which sector you are from. But I can read it. I know what they did when they devoured the forests of your world. The people. When they ploughed up the graveyards to eat the bodies of the dead, the bones, the blood.”

“Stop. Stop. Please stop”, Koppig said, throwing his hands up and pulling away.

“You know how I know this, Mon-keigh?” Viaggiatore continued, “I know it because they did it to my home. When they devastated Iyanden. You have no idea what that did to us.”

“Oh I do, Eldar”, Koppig cut in, slumped, dropping his hands uselessly to his lap, “I do”.

“No. You don't”, Viaggiatore said, straightening up in his chair. “I was once badly injured a long time ago. I was knocked unconscious, and experienced the first few hours after my injury as a hazy, painless dream of my childhood.” He paused, drew a long breath. “When I awoke, of course, I was in agony, true agony. The dream was over. The hurting started and I thought I would die of it. I recovered, though the wound pains me from time to time.”

Koppig's hand dropped to massage the stiff place in his leg where synthetic muscle joined long-damaged bone.“So what's your point?”

Viaggiatore held up a slender hand, “Allow me to finish, Colonel. You have perhaps heard of the infinity circuit? To put it in terms you understand, the infinity circuit holds the dream of the Eldar people. There our ancestors dream the eternal dream of death. They dream of the past, of the present, of things to come. They make us privy to that dream through our seers.”

Viaggiatore stood, “When the aliens attacked Iyanden they ploughed up the wraithbone, shattering it in many places. The voices of the dead called out to us in rage and pain. Their dream was broken, the agony of reality had broken back into their world. We all felt it. As if it were happening to us ourselves. Our dead cried out to us for vengeance at their interrupted sleep. These creatures must be stopped, Colonel. If we do not stand here, it cannot be done. You have heard me out. Thank you for your audience.”

After the door closed behind the Eldar, Koppig thought for a long time. Then he called the mousy attache. “Stop the Eldar before he leaves”, he said simply, and without hesitation. “And gather the sergeants. I have new orders.”

1150 words (by some miracle)

THIS STORY IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR VOTING
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:14 am

Squiggle: a hansporod is just some time of ruminant used as a mount by those who live on Karisas, and entirely made up by me, of course. I imagine that it looks something like a cross between a horse and the yellow thing from this.

Stuart: She didn't die. I guess I'll have to make that clear. She was a late-blooming latent psyker, for lack of a better term. I suppose that I'll change the last line to "Men from the Black Ships" or something, to weed out the ambiguity. Plus, of course, a read through for the errors you mentioned. I'd guess that they largely cropped up in my attempts to compress the excerpt a good 150 words...I may have made a few cuts that seemed like they made sense, to me, but were ill-advised.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Squiggle » Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:16 am

Ninja - good idea old son! Enjoyed that. My main issue is with the portrayal of the Eldar - this might sound picky, but I don't think the Eldar was alien enough for me to believe. This was mainly due to the too-human actions like the handshake, and sitting in the chair and the manner of speaking. I would have liked the Eldar to be more cryptic and abstract, and obviously just walking in to see the Colonel.

All of that put to one side, this is a good unique take on the theme and you should be lauded for that! :D
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:13 am

Squiggle (Shattered Dream): I liked this, you did a good job of portraying the ambition and hopes of the Astartes, and his chapter sounded very interesting.

Stuart000X (I'm Already There): A very good effort, one of your best I think. A definite contender for my votes at the end of the competition.

Mossy Toes (Under the Spreading Pluquat Tree): I've read this before but it's just as good the second time around. A great portrayal of the emergence of her psychic powers.

ninja101 (Shattered Dreams): My quibbles with this were that the eldar seemed entirely human and not significantly alien. I also found it a little hard to believe that an Imperial Guard colonel would talk so casually with one of the hated xenos. Apart from that it was a good story, and I liked the insight into the effects that the razing of Iyanden had on the surviving citizens.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Squiggle » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:34 am

Tyrant - thanks for the comments. I can see Gangferl and the Night Scars making another appearance somewhere. ;)
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:39 am

Tyrant wrote:Stuart000X (I'm Already There): A very good effort, one of your best I think. A definite contender for my votes at the end of the competition.


:shock:
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby ninja101 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:40 am

Thanks for the comments guys! I get what you're saying about the Eldar. I had my concerns too, he's the first alien I've written for one of these comps, so I'm in new territory. I was rather pressed for word-length, but also I thought that for one thing, as a ranger he'd have spent some time around humans and learnt some of their customs etc and, moreover, he was trying to convince the colonel of something, and so doing his best to talk on his level, like Spock maybe.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby J D Dunsany » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:51 pm

@ Squiggle: To begin with, I thought the ending was a bit abrupt, but, on second thoughts, I think it suits the piece very well. And I've spent a fair portion of my professional life telling people that writing stories in which the first person narrator dies at the end is not generally a good idea, but, again, I'm prepared to make an exception here. Overall, a very strong piece. Good stuff.

More comment - and a story possibly! - later...

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JDD story of the moment: Glory
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:19 am

@ ninja101

The story you had presented me with is fairly okay, the unison of the Eldar and Imperial Colonel makes it a nice touch to read, but I found the lack of xenophobia from the colonel or the humans when interacting with the Eldar to be greatly missed. Fear Not the Alien is a quote repeated a lot, and in most cases it is followed to the letter, but in others it is not, but I’m surprised by the lack of distrust or hate that is normally exuded from people when they come in contact with aliens.

The Eldar was a bit too chummy to be an Eldar, his first appearance and interaction almost running parallel to an old friend meeting with an old school mate. It was a bit too friendly, and warm. In most case scenarios the reception of the Eldar is usually lukewarm at best. He didn’t seem to behave like an Eldar, none of the arrogance or distain for humanity was present. He seemed a bit like a tutor in a way, correcting the colonel’s lack of knowledge on Eldar lore.

Otherwise a good attempt :D I like how you tried to bridge the two races into a united force against the evils of the universe. I hope my review hasn't dampened your expectations, or too harsh to read.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Squiggle » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:12 am

@JDD... I know right,but *grins*
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