RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

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

Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:20 pm

Thank you, Stu - and Doctor Who's on tonight, too! (So, if you were planning on spending the time between 6:00 and 6:45 to write a late entry, you might have to think again... :? )

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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby DarthDrac » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:45 pm

This is he first thing I have written in ages (and mysteriously decided to do so in a day)... I think it more or less fits the theme.

Victory or Death

He could hear the screams echoing in the hallway, filled with fury, anguish and betrayal, yet tinged with understanding. He made no move to aid his brothers, for their sacrifice was necessary, their deaths bringing purification. Still he wondered; they had not chosen this fate, it had been foist upon them by the one now their executioner.

Istvael cast his eye to the other within the room, as outside the sounds of death advanced ever closer, finally bringing the scent of blood to the air. It would not be long now. The other was a brute; his form twisted and warped and lacking all symmetry, yet his eyes held nobility. This beast of a man would accept his fate, without hesitation or doubt.

Istvael envied Kraxis’ certainty, even as his hand moved to rest upon the hilt of his blade. He was different from the others, his mutation more subtle and yet all the more offensive because of it.

Istvael drew his blade; it’s edge so sharp it cut the very air and it’s weight a comfort to him. His hand tightened around the hilt, the indecisiveness cast from his hearts.

Kraxis turned to look at him, as if only now realising his presence. “So you will fight then sergeant?”

Istvael cast his eyes down, unable to meet Kraxis’ hollow black gaze. “I do as I must.”

“No, as always you do as you will. You do yourself and your squad dishonour, you who led us to victory on so many fields, will you now raise blade against Corax?”

“There is no honour in death, only darkness. This blade the weapon of an assassin, and how I came to bear it should be proof enough of that.”

Kraxis shook his head. Not saying another word he simply stood and opened the door. He looked back for a moment and then kneeled within the doorway, his head bowed, awaiting execution.

Istvael marvelled at the gesture for it served twofold purpose; it allowed Kraxis his honourable death and gave Istvael momentary warning of Corax’s arrival. Istvael had always known Kraxis would not fight their primarch, yet the nobility of the gesture was not lost on him.

It was not long before claws scythed through the air, shattering Kraxis’ skull, and then Corax stood before him. His armour was drenched in blood, his hair matted and his eyes; Istvael took pause at his eyes for they ran with tears.

The air stilled, yet was filled with a heavy silence and Istvael thought, the baying laughter of thirsting gods. Every muscle in his body craved release, yet he did not move. Imperceptible beneath his armour Istvael’s frame broadened at the same time his skin took a golden tinge, while inside his bones lightened and muscles hardened.

“You are the last, nevermore shall our seed be imperfect.”

Istvael gazed up at his Primarch. “If you seek perfection I shall show you it.”

As the last word echoed from Istvael’s lips both warriors were in motion, clashing and then spinning apart in a blur of strikes, parries and ripostes. The primarch was not at his peak; it was no accident that Istvael had chosen this room, yet even so he was but astartes.

Slowly Corax turned the tide of the battle, his dual routes of attack, his lightning claws an obvious advantage against even the finest of blades. Istvael was forced back, step by hard fought step until his back pressed against the wall.

Istvael looked into Corax’s eyes and lowering his sword whispered “Victorus aut Mortis.”

The primarch nodded, drawing back for a final strike. As Corax brought the talons in Istvael was suddenly in motion, twisting and sidestepping like a serpent. As the primarch struck only wall Istvael delivered a crushing blow with the pommel of his blade to Corax’s temple.

The primarch’s vision blurred and he fell backwards, tearing masonry free as he did so.

“Victory or death.” Istvael smiled as he threw his weight against the shattered stonework. “I choose neither.”

Then he was gone and Corax was left alone with his despair and the dead.

###

He stood alone within the heart of the vipers nest, yet was calm. Had they wished him dead Istvael had no doubt he would be so, instead they observed from the gloom, concealed by shadow.

“You went to great trouble to find us, a task beyond most. What is it you seek?”

Impressively the acoustics of the chamber masked the speaker’s location perfectly. Istvael drew breath, holding it for a moment. “Merely to pledge myself to your service.”

“A son of Corax would not serve us.”

“I am no son of Corax. That chapter of my life has passed. Once I called him primarch, but no longer. His betrayal and the sacrifice of my brothers showing me the folly of my past.”

“Then you as are a rabid beast, not to be trusted.”

“No. I am as a serpent, cold and without emotion yet filled with an instinct for survival. I seek to stand beside those like me, so that we may strike as if a hydra.”

“Well answered. Tell me, would you sacrifice all that you once were? Would you fight by our side against all you once served?”

“Without hesitation.”

The voice chuckled. “Indeed, so you would fight beside mutant and xeno without pause?”

“If that is what you ask, so be it.”

“Then perhaps we may find use for you. Tell me, Istvael Deraque of the Raven Guard have you heard of the Cabal?”

Istvael nodded, this would be the answer that decided his fate. “I have done better, before my ascension to astartes my father had cause to trade with the xeno, a secret I have never betrayed.”

“A secret we were already made aware of.” The speaker paused for effect, however the revelation did not surprise Istvael, had they not known, they would not have been worthy of his pursuit. “Now as your father before you, you shall aid the Cabal and in service to them you shall serve us.”

Istvael allowed a smile to snake across his lip. “As you command,” he paused, this was the beginning of his new life and he wished to savour it. “Hydra dominatus.”
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Tyrant » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:13 pm

DarthDrac (Victory Or Death): The piece certainly fits the theme, and Istvael is definitely an interesting character. There are a few errors that need catching though, especially your misuse of apostrophes in "its". :P
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Shogun_Nate » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:49 pm

Die With Honor


The squeal of overcharged lasfire filled the evening air as stormtroopers under the command of Lord Inquisitor Nathaniel opened fire with their hellguns. Trooper Calic’s launcher countered the high-pitch whines with a deep crump as he lobbed a fragmentation grenade over the heads of the following heretics, covering the force’s retreat. They were making their way towards a natural rock bridge linking one side of the canyon to the other where their extraction point lay. The staccato crack of sporadic small arms fire came in return as heretic PDF soldiers crested the path that cut its way through the rocky ridge, bringing the stormtroopers into view once more. Forced to ground, the Inquisitor’s force took positions behind whatever cover afforded by the rocky terrain they could find.

We’ve been lucky“, Sergeant Adac thought to himself as he snapped off another round of lasfire.

In their haste, the traitors had left behind their heavier support weapons in favor of lighter stub and autoguns given the treacherous nature of the stone-strewn trail. Had the heretics bothered to bring something with more punch, the grizzled veteran knew they’d be in real trouble. All wasn’t going their way, though. Ammunition was running low and, with each push by the PDF, the stormtroopers were forced to expended more charges as they attempted to dissuade further pursuit.

It had been the same thing over and over for the last few hours since the stormtroopers had taken the planet‘s governor, one Galtis Mathor, into their custody for betraying his oath to the God-Emperor of Mankind. They’d struck swiftly and silently, taking him where he’d felt safest with surgical precision. The mountain fortress where he spent his days fomenting rebellion had turned out to be less impregnable than the foolish man had thought. From that time, the Inquisitor’s retrieval team had spent their time alternating between falling back and doing their best to keep the heretics at bay. The squad of stormtroopers had done their job admirably, though. Their superior training and armament had kept them one step ahead of the ravening hordes of traitors hell-bent on their blood. The game of back and forth was beginning to wear the troopers down, however. The corrupted PDF were dogged in their hunt to get their leader back, steadfastly refusing to give up the chase. Motioning for the vox operator, Sergeant Adac turned to the Lord Inquisitor.

“Lord, we are almost to the extraction point. I will alert Valkryie to our situation.”

Nodding, Nathaniel rose from the boulder he’d sheltered behind, firing his ancient psycannon into the milling traitors. He was rewarded with a strangled scream as the round found its mark, sending another fool to his blasphemous masters.

“Valkyrie, this is Thorn. Respond!”

Popping static filled the line in mocking answer.

Where were they? Sergeant Adac cursed, his thoughts racing.

The fire coming from the heretics increased as more pushed forward to add their weight to the fight. Ricocheting rounds pinged from the thick stone surrounding them, filling the air with pulverized dust and shrapnel.

Could the canyon’s walls be disrupting their attempts to vox for help?

After a few seconds his worries were allayed as the tiny voice of Tarok, Nathaniel’s pilot, echoed strangely through the interference.

“Thorn, this… Valkyrie. Inboun... Will reach yo…ition two minutes.”

“Acknowledged Valkyrie. Hostiles close. Recommend coming in hot”, responded the sergeant.

“Will do. Valky-”, Tarok’s reply was cut short as another voice sounded over the vox link, deep and sonorous.

“Emperor’s Hand, Tetsubo requests permission to engage enemy.”

Inquisitor Nathaniel spoke for the first time since leaving the traitor’s fortress.

“Permission granted.”

“Hai”, came the curt response.

The roar of over-taxed engines screaming in protest alerted the stormtroopers to the presence of their transport. Stripped of everything that was not essential to increase its speed, the Valkyrie troop carrier swung low over the stormtroopers’ position and opened up with nose-mounted its multilaser, spraying the PDF with withering fire. Landing struts extended from under the carrier’s hull as it prepared to land. Even before the craft touched down, a massive armored giant stepped from the troop compartment, the bulky form of a heavy bolter clutched in his hands. From his back a banner pole telescoped up. The marine’s personal standard unfurled, snapping in the updraft from the Valkyrie’s engines.

As he passed, Adac looked on. He was unlike any astartes the sergeant had ever seen. His plate was the color of deep amethyst, covered in minute swirled filigree of gold and silver. On his chest a winged reaper, the archaic symbol of death spread its angelic wings, grasping the snath of a scythe. From his waist hung a segmented skirt of thin ceramite, over which lay a pair of curved swords. His pauldrons looked more akin to rounded tiles than the traditional shoulder armor of others but still thick and weighty. His left bore what could only the symbol of his chapter. A fanged-skull hooded in red with a scythe lay in bas-relief in the background, on the other grain-bearing stems surrounding what looked to be a pair of sparrows facing each other in flight. Most frightening of all was the warrior’s helm. Horns sprouted from the forehead of a mask carved into the shape of a roaring skull with segmented scales curving around the back of the helmet’s base. To Adac, he looked like some ancient god of war.

The weapon thundered as the space marine strode into the incoming fire, suspensors grafted on the weapon taking up its powerful recoil. The astartes played his heavy bolter back and forth, the rounds tearing limbs from bodies and pulping those unlucky enough to take a torso hit. The traitors fell back in a panic, trying to escape the deadly accuracy of the marine and the volume of fire spitting from the aircraft’s multilaser. In the brief respite, the astartes ejected the empty bolter drum and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Boss, we got a problem. Auspex shows a large heat signature. I think they’re massing for a charge.” Tarok voxed. “We better get outta here now!”

As they moved towards the Valkyrie, the heretics charged again, screaming at the top of their lungs.

“We’re not going to make it!” Adac shouted as the mass of humanity poured over the trail’s lip, sprinting towards the narrow defile of the rock bridge. They fired wildly at the waiting craft, their shots spanging off the thin armor of the Valkyrie as they attempted to thwart their quarry’s escape. The multilaser spooled up, barrels spinning furiously as it spat laser fire into the coming horde. It did little to slow them.

Turning to Nathaniel, the astarte spoke.

“Go. I will hold them here.”

The marine faced the enemy once more, his voice raised in his chapter’s battle cant, his heavy bolter singing its own song of death.
I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:06 pm

And we're closed for posting.

A voting thread will be up shortly. :)

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