The Sons of Thunder [Shorts]

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

The Sons of Thunder [Shorts]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:49 pm

Hello everyone.

First off, for all those who suspect that this is a rehashing of my Stasis short story (just below. Title's even in view and everything, provided this ain't an iPhone or nothing') then you're right, it is. I've just repurposing the thread to be a collection of irregularly updated short stories regarding the Sons of Thunder. The majority, I imagine, will be taking place in 'modern' 40K, though there may be one or two in the past or in LL's 50K/60K settings.

And for our first, a 40K take on a classic fairy tale. No prizes for guessing which one.


Stasis

Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, a beautiful princess lived.

She ran, boots near-skidding on the tiled floor. Behind, skittering on razor claws, the beasts of the Aetherwynd came, baying furiously as they attempted to catch up to their prey. She drew to a halt, one eye closing as she sighted down on one of the twisted animals with her bolt pistol. It barked, diamantine tipped shells ripping through the translucent skin and into the warped mess of muscle and sinew before detonating within. Twelve shots, and the pack was downed, gore, entrails and greenish-blue blood splattered across the corridor before her.

Through nations far and wide, her beauty was talked of and admired, and hundreds of suitors flocked to the kingdom so they might win her hand in marriage.

“There she is! Stop her!”

She turned down another corridor as the soldiers of the Aetherwynd spotted her, their own boots thudding on the floor as they pursued, rusted lasrifles and hooked blades gripped in gnarled hands. She was beginning to tire, knowing that she would be out of energy long before she was out of this place. Even as she raised her bolt pistol to fire back, shells sparking across the walls, downing a man and forcing the rest to duck away, buying her a few precious moments, she knew that she could not last much longer.

But there were those who grew jealous of her beauty. A wicked old witch, a woman whose heart had grown gnarled and stony by her evil ways, came to the kingdom and demanded that the princess grant her some measure of her fairness. The princess refused.

She was close. Soon, she would be there, and then she would be safe from that bitch and her minions long enough to formulate a plan to actually get out. Even as more of the thuggish Aetherwynd soldiers came behind her, she knew she would get out, her innate talents guiding her through corridors towards her destination. The occasional lasbeam or auto-round zipped against the floor by her, scorching holes into the carpet, but she paid them no heed. She was too close to be phased by such a thing.

She finally reached them, a set of great adamantium doors. Hurriedly, she tapped the code into the console, even as she raised her bolt pistol to cover her retreat from the soldiers following close behind. The shells roared free, opening the guts of one man and shattering the skull of another, before the doors rumbled open. A final bolt round detonated within the console before she hurried through. Swiftly, she went to the one on the other side, pressed the code once more, and the door rumbled closed.

Enraged at the rejection, the wicked witch gathered her black powers and placed a hex upon the castle. Immediately, all within fell into a deep slumber, from the lowliest kitchen maid to the princess’ father, the king himself. With no ruler, the kingdom fell to the rule of a steward, and none dared enter the castle for fear of falling under its curse as well.

The archives. She was within, safe. The outer world, the Aetherwynd’s soldiers, were sealed away, kept at bay by ancient technosorceries built into the very walls by the architects of this palace many aeons ago. She had the only means to open the doors, and even the magics of the Aetherwynd would not be enough to penetrate the wards guarding this place any time soon.

“Lady Inquisitor,” a voice rasped across the speaker by the door. “I am afraid your attempts at flight have done you no good.”

“Don’t bother blustering, Comalrech,” Lady Inquisitor Ahlyss replied. “The archives are sealed, and not even your mistress with be able to break them.”

“Just give us the information we want, Lady Inquisitor,” Comalrech replied. “Or we shall break in there and torture it out of you.”

“By the time you have broken in here I will either have escaped or starved to death,” Ahlyss replied. “You will not have the codes from me; tell your beloved whore that you will never have the time to get to me.”

“Time? It is a funny thing you mention that, Lady Inquisitor.”

“I fail to see what is so amusing, Comalrech. Boast and bluster all you want down that little microphone of yours, but I have access to artefacts that predate the Imperium down here, and I fully intend to use them. This place won’t hold me for long, while it will keep you at bay for an age.”

“Indeed, Lady Inquisitor, but you would only be able to use them if you had the time to do so. Unfortunately for you, while you destroyed the only way in and out, you did not managed to disable all external controls. In fact, there is an emergency stasis control that may be used to hold the vaults in suspension in case of some sort of crisis.”

“What? Where did you find that?”

“What does it matter, Lady Inquisitor. It will take us some time to get to you, I know, but for you, it was seem as if none has passed at all.”

“You’ll pay for this, you ba-”

#

The suitors of the princess fled, and the tales of her beauty become nothing more than songs of bards. But one day, one hundred years later, a handsome prince heard of the story of the sleeping castle, and vowed to set out and wake her, so he might make her his bride.

“We cannot lose that vault; the fate of this war, of the entire sector, depends on this.”

The man who said this was a razor thin individual, a whipcord of a man in every sense. Not one ounce of him was fat, his body composed seemingly of raw sinew and nothing else. Even his grey moustache was a thin, carefully trimmed thing, while his scalp was shaved bald.

“Agreed,” the giant standing with him around the table said, with a voice deep and dark as an ocean. “By extension, we cannot lose Lady Inquisitor Ahlyss; she is the only one who knows the access codes for the technologies within the vault, and should the enemy retrieve them from her then we are in dire peril. Controlling the vaults is of secondary importance.”

“Indeed, Knight-Lord,” a third man said. He was swathed in crimson robes, mechandrites snaking from his back, while the face beneath the hood was of metal and lenses and grilles. “Though the Mechanicus believe that it is of greater importance to obtain the artefact access themselves; think of the relics within, the might the Imperium could gain!”

“And if we are not careful with such a boon, then such a thing could well be turned against us,” Knight-Lord Methuselah Crowlin, commander of the Sons of Thunder First Company replied. With a whir, he turned to face the Magos, the auto-muscles in his terminator armour allowing him to shift the hundredweights of adamantium and ceramite with ease. “Better they are sealed to all for eternity and their technology lie dormant than be allowed to fall into the foe’s grasp; such a thing would be catastrophic.”

“Perhaps, Knight-Lord, though I would beg to differ,” Magos Krynn grated. “I will agree, however, that we cannot let the enemy take the vaults.”

“General Loras, how long a time frame do you think we have?” Crowlin asked. “Lady Inquisitor Ahlyss has access to some highly advanced technology in the vaults; she is a resourceful woman, and I would be unsurprised to see her enact an escape.”

“I will answer that question,” Magos Krynn said, before Loras could answer. “I still have checks planted into the palace’s system, and I regret to say that they have found a way to activate the vault’s external stasis modules. Now that the palace is in the control of the Aetherwynd, they will no doubt be attempting to access it, and the Lady Inquisitor will be unable to escape.”

“Then we will have to get her out,” Loras said. “Damn these Aetherwynd scum, but we’ve no way to reach the palace in time with half the city under their control. What of your Terminators, Knight-Lord? Do you think you could launch a strike against the palace?”

“We would be up against more than twelve million soldiers, well dug in and disciplined, supported by armour and daemon engines,” Crowlin replied. “My men are some of the finest in the Imperium, each worth a thousand of the foe, but there are only fifty of them; there is no way even they would be able to fight through them all, nor can we commit my forces there without our western flank folding entirely. If I am frank, it was a miracle the palace held against the Aetherwynd as long as it did.”

“That said, we still need to extract Ahlyss,” Loras said. “We cannot simply stand idly by.”

“It may be possible for an individual or small group to move in on the palace, deactivate stasis and retrieve Lady Inquisitor Ahlyss,” Krynn said. “I calculate that a strategic drop on the palace would stand the best chance of success.”

“I will go,” Crowlin said.

“Alone?” Krynn said.

“Alone,” Crowlin replied. “I am wearing tactical dreadnought armour, am one of the most skilled warriors of the Sons of Thunder, and a successful one man assault on the palace would improve morale greatly. In any case, Division Commander Alkem or Infantry Commander Raeslei should be able to command in my absence.”

“Do you think you can do this, Knight-Lord?”

“I do. I will embark the Oncoming Storm, we will fly over the palace and I shall board by drop pod.”

“How soon?”

“Immediately.”

#

So the prince rode many leagues across the land upon his noble steed, stopping only to briefly rest, until he reached the castle of the princess.

“Blessed are the men who serve the Emperor.”

The blade purred as it span, the circle of razor teeth spinning with speed to slice through the thickest of stone with ease, and reduce flesh and armour to mere paste.

“Most beloved by him, are his angels, those who rebuke their humanity to serve it.”

A heavy gauntlet slid the cocking handle of his storm bolter back, while a quick glance up ahead showed that the drop pod’s own servitor guided pod was active, scanning for threats even within the confines of the vehicle.

“I am a Son of Thunder, harbinger of the Emperor’s righteous justice, herald of the doom of mankind’s enemies.”

His fingers flexed on the handle of the immense circular saw he carried. For near five centuries he had carried it into battle, since his first taste of combat upon beloved Polyphemus. It had run slick with the blood of trogs on the day that the Sons had found him, and since then he had kept it, modifying the weapon with care over much time. He was quite sure that, with replacements to its casing, its blade, addition to the power field he had added, not one part of it was the same weapon he had swung upon Polyphemus, but he cared for the device nonetheless, and even after all this time could feel the machine spirit’s pride at its unique, elevated position.

“I am the oncoming storm, the scion of Polyphemus and Terra.”

He could hear the patter of anti air fire against the sides of the drop pod, airburst shells exploding around it, but he paid it no real concern; either it would kill him or it would not, and he would be powerless to stop it. Worrying about such a thing was a worthless exercise.

“I am the lightning of His wrath.”

The altimeter in the drop pod showed only a few hundred metres remained. Not much longer now.

“I am the thunder of His hate.”

The pod screamed down, and hit.

#

Finally, after many days of riding, the handsome prince reached the palace. But many years had passed since the wicked witch’s curse, and a great barrier of thorns and brambles had sprung up around it, forbidding entry to the castle.

It was hideous.

If it weren’t for the fact that his scarred face was affixed in a permanent sneer, the work of an Eldar Harlequin’s razor-edged blade, Methuselah Crowlin would have scowled at the sight before him as he stepped out of the confines of the drop pod. In an instant, his eyes had taken in the corpse-draped crenellations before him, barbed wire and runes smeared in blood adorning the walls. The gun batteries that had held the heretics of the Aetherwynd at bay for so long had been adorned with spikes and blades, crewed by soldiers wearing masks of crude human leather. Crowlin cursed; he had hoped the machine spirit of the drop pod would guide him within its walls, not drop him without.

No matter. He would triumph. The Emperor always did, in the end.

Above his head, the servitor-controlled storm bolter of the drop pod clattered into life, sending shells streaming towards the enemy position. There was a crumping noise as they exploded amongst enemy positions, and Crowlin raised his own storm bolter and darted forwards, his own shots far more accurate than that of the servitor’s.

The heavy weapons were bought to bear, and the drop pod exploded as the last rounds of the storm bolter’s clip were expended, but it had proved to be enough of a distraction for Crowlin to get below their guns.

The walls before him were of thick basalt, impenetrable to all but the largest of guns, layered with adamantium and with at least a metre of thick stone between him and the rest of the palace. But Crowlin had a mining saw with him, a machine designed to slice and pulverise rock, one able to slice through even the strongest Polypheman granite. Equipped with a power field and a blade that had been forged by the finest Forge Priests of the Sons of Thunder, it was all but unstoppable.

It screamed into life, lightning crackling around the circular blade as Crowlin raised it and hacked down. Sparks showered around it as it sliced downwards, stone reduced to liquid by the heat and power field, before he cut a line the size of a man out of the wall. Three more strokes, three more sprays of sparks, and a block of stone about his size had been pulverised out of his way. Another few strokes and he was already three quarters of the way through the thick basalt of the wall.

Scanning the outer walls for signs of the lone Terminator, the heretics of the Aetherwynd had no idea what was about to befall them before the wall below them crashed in.

The handsome prince drew his shining blade and sliced a path through the great thicket of thorns. Once within, he proceeded with great care, making sure not to wake any of those who slept who were not the princess, for the witch had, in her wickedness, commanded terrible monsters to watch over those who slept and to leap upon whoever tried to wake them.

Panicked shouts came up as Crowlin emerged, his storm bolter already up and blazing as he punched men from the walls. Without the cover the walls provided, the ammunition stores that supplied the gun batteries were directly in his line of sight, and Crowlin smiled beneath his bullish helm. He switched aim, precise shots from his storm bolter slamming into crates of ammo, the .75 calibre bullets detonating lascannon charges, autocannon rounds and heavy duty artillery shells. Explosions rippled across the walls, throwing heretics away from them, wrecking artillery pieces and cannons.

The gates to the palace were ahead of him, pocked and scarred by the assault of the heavy weapons the Aetherwynd had used to take them, and they swung open before him. Heretic soldiers armed with trophy-adorned lasrifles and autoguns poured out, opening fire, but Crowlin simply laughed beneath his helmet. Those rounds that managed to pass his shields instead glanced off the thick plate of his armour, he stomped forwards, unnaturally swift despite the weight of the terminator armour he wore. His storm bolter raised, return fire punching past the flimsy flak vests worn by the Aetherwynd’s soldiers, shells detonating within their guts, chests and skulls and reducing the soldiers wearing them to chunks of worthless meat.

His saw screamed, and the Knight-Lord charged, tearing into the front ranks of the foe before him. Sweeping swings sliced through flesh and flak armour, crackling power field melting muscle and bone, blood boiling away as the blade tore into arteries and veins. Stomachs were opened, guts spilt upon the courtyard only to be stomped to pulp by Crowlin’s white boots. Swiftly, he tore through the squad of Aetherwynd soldiers before the gate, deadly speed and nigh-invulnerable armour granting him the power he needed to rend them asunder without a single scar marring his superhuman form.

He ignored the panicked soldiers milling around in the courtyard behind him, footsteps powering him forwards into the hallway.

It looked the worse for wear since he had seen it last, walls marred and pocked with bullet holes, blasphemous runes scrawled across the walls in blood. Hasty heavy weapon emplacements had been thrown up, autocannons, lascannons, missile launchers and heavy bolters, and they opened fire as soon as Crowlin slaughtered his way across the threshold. He noted them in a split second and immediately dove behind a column as they fired, psychoconditioned mind swiftly formulating a plan, picking choice bits of knowledge from his extensive experience of the battlefield. Noting the weapons were in no cover, he loaded hellfire shells into his bolter, cocked the slide back, and moved.

He sprang across the open hallway, his unnatural speed unimpeded by his terminator armour’s synthetic muscles, aim with his storm bolter absolutely deadly even with the speed he was moving.

High explosive hellfire shells roared from his storm bolter, detonating amongst the enemy’s ranks in great blasts of flame and shrapnel. Bodies were shredded and flesh roasted, while weapons were scrapped by the explosions roaring around them. A stun grenade was sent flying from the launcher built into his saw, burning phosphor blinding opponents while a wave of pure noise deafened them, even as the lenses and ear defenders of his terminator armour darkened and dulled the blinding heat, allowing him to move unimpeded. He was among them in moments, saw rising and falling with deadly skill, shredding the enemy.

He did not stay to gloat once the threat was dealt with, nor to collect any trophies or loot from the bodies that were scattered across the cracked marble floor. Instead, he headed into the heart of the palace, towards where he knew the vaults would be, through the shattered armoured doors that would have otherwise sealed it off. In a strange way, he was fortunate that the Aetherwynd had already stormed this place before him; it made his moving though the palace far easier.

“There he is!” a call came up as he turned a corner in the corridors, homing relentlessly towards his destination. “Kill him!”

There was a baying and the sound of claws skittering on marble, before the hounds of the Aetherwynd rounded a corner. They were ugly things, warped messes of muscle and translucent skin, overlarge teeth hanging from unnaturally elongated jaws, acidic drool dripping from each fang. Crowlin squeezed the activation trigger of his saw, the blade wailing as it span, before he raised it into a guarding stance.

The first of the pack reached him, overlarge mouth open wide to bite, and leapt. Crowlin’s blade swung down, slicing through its jaw and the back of its skull, catching it on the cover of the blade’s motor and throwing it to once side. The backstroke bisected a second hound, leaving it whimpering and bleeding on the floor, while he smashed the stock of his storm bolter down on the skull of a third, leaving it limp on the floor.

Teeth clashed on the armour of his thigh, bone cracking against ceramite, and Crowlin brought his elbow down atop its skull, knocking it away. He stamped down on it before it could rise, swinging at one of its packmates with his saw as he did so, slicing across its throat and belly. A raised forearm halted another leaping hound before its jaws could close on his helm, knocking it away to tumble to the ground.

He surged forwards, legs kicking against houndflesh and knocking the Aetherwynd’s baying dogs aside, swings from his weapon rending and slashing. Bays of fury turned to whimpers of terrified pain, and crimson lasbeams glanced against his form from the platoon of soldiers that had sent the hounds forwards as they realised their sickening pets were going have no effect against him. Several of the creatures were skewered by shots from their own sides, and Crowlin took advantage of their confusion, barrelling forwards towards the foe.

A blast from a grenade launcher slammed against his left pauldron, a hairline crack running down the golden shoulder pad, and Crowlin cursed the heretic that fired the weapon. As he carved into the soldiers before him, saw rising and falling in a graceful dance that saw human flesh fall away from bone like snow beneath rain, he reflected that perhaps he had been fortunate; that had been a krak grenade, designed for punching through the armour of light tanks, and had it landed but a few inches differently Crowlin would be minus both an arm and a storm bolter.

The weapon in question was raised almost unconsciously as he broke past the melee, shells streaming into the small knot of reinforcements that were coming to support his foes, while his saw blocked a swing from the stock of a lasrifle and sliced the armament in half. A few more swings tore the remaining enemy to bloody ribbons, and he scowled at the foe that lay in gore-soaked ruination before him. Pathetic.

They were trying to slow him, if he had any guess, no doubt trying to desperately crack open the vaults before he arrived to slay them. Throwing knots of soldiers at him across his route was an attempt to snarl his progress no doubt, the heretics of the Aetherwynd attempting to buy themselves time. He would prove their efforts futile.

Before the princess’ chamber, the wicked witch had set the foulest and cruellest of demons to guard them. It tried to halt the handsome prince as he approached the door of the chamber, but he drew his shining blade and a single blow through its black heart slew it with ease.

He went as the Aquila flew, cutting through walls with the spinning blade of his saw, bypassing the various points the Aetherwynd soldiers had set up to check his progress. He ran into a few knots of them, small groups of unfortunates that he tore through with bolter and saw, dicing flesh and bone with lethal skill, but his progress was largely unmolested as he made his way downwards through the palace. His progress of was swift, and soon he reached the floor he needed, smashing through the fragile door without giving the enemy the luxury of forewarning.

Heavy weapons fire roared to greet him across the large cellar hallway, even as he raised his storm bolter in return, bolt shells roaring downrange even as he moved to cover.

A blast of plasma splashed against the floor ahead of him, and the shields of his armour crackled as they fought to avoid overloading against the immense backwash of heat. A blinding beam of iridescent crimson sliced towards him, and he managed to throw himself out of its way before it hit home. He ducked behind a heavy pillar as more heavy weapons fire landed around him, and then his scarred forehead wrinkled into a frown as he began to hear a gently quiet whistling. Swiftly it grew in volume, a breeze gently beginning to tug at his tabard and purity seals, paper fluttering in the wind, and Crowlin cursed as he realised his foe.

“Come out, Knight Lord,” a voice called. “Your rescue attempt ends here.”

Crowlin snarled quietly as he stepped out.

“Comalrech,” he said, eyeing the sorcerer that stood before him. The mask of human leather that the heretic wore, part of the uniform of all the Aetherwynd’s soldiery, was more finely wrought than those of the Aetherwynd’s warriors around him, as befitting of his status as Wyndbringer, skin stretched over fine porcelain and inlaid with gold leaf, a strange contrast to the general’s uniform he wore.

“It is me, yes,” the psyker replied, an ethereal ball of energy gathering around the blasphemously runed staff he carried. “I suppose that now is as good as time as any to finish what we started all those weeks ago.”

“Indeed,” Crowlin said. “I shall look forward to tearing you asunder, Heretic. The Emperor would consider it a most fitting tribute.”

The breeze changed, a howling gale that screamed across the hallway, whipping up a storm with the dust and debris that had been dislodged by the heavy weapons of the Aetherwynd’s heretical soldiery. Crowlin stood firm against the winds, raising his storm bolter and firing, only for some sorcerous aegis around Comalrech to catch the shells and detonate them before he could fire.

Crowlin stepped forwards as the howling wind picked up its pace, chunks of rubble clattering against his terminator plate, emptying the magazine of his storm bolter into the foe in a bid to wear down his enemy’s defences.

Another blast from the plasma cannon smashed into the ground next to him, and Crowlin cursed as he lost his footing, storm bolter skittering away from his grip. He was sent sprawling, the immense weight of his terminator armour not enough to hold him against the screaming gale summoned by Comalrech’s magics, and he slammed his saw into the floor, blade slicing into stone before he deactivated it, using it as an anchor to pull himself to his feet.

Those heavy weapons, he decided, would have to be dealt with first; Comarlech’s little gale would serve as a distraction, but they were the real threat.

He moved as best he could under the pressure of the wind, pushing himself behind another of the pillars that held the room up. A plasma blast splashed against it, melting stone, but the winds had broken, and Crowlin’s scarred face creased into a smile as he realised what he could do.

His saw blade screamed as it bit into the base of the pillar, and he nodded in approval at the lascannon beam, aim thrown by the poor lighting, scored into the top of the pillar, before he sliced along its bottom. He spread his arms, wrapping the column in a bear hug, gripping as best he could, swinging his shoulders in a grunt of effort.

For a moment, nothing happened, synthetic muscles straining, before there was a crack and the thick column toppled. Crowlin guided its falling mass as best he could, before it smashed into the floor in a spray of dust.

He moved, hurrying along its fallen length as more heavy weapon fire slammed into its length, while the wind’s howling above him increased in volume. There was the sound of stone scraping against stone, and Crowlin saw the pillar begin to inch forwards. Good, let Comalrech expend more of his energy.

He ducked behind another pillar on the other side of the hall, plasma and lascannon fire glancing against it, before Comalrech ordered; “Stop, you idiots! Don’t you see that he’ll create another windbreak?”

The winds died down, and Comalrech called out; “We’re at a stalemate here; you cannot advance without a windbreak, and clearly you won’t come out with these heavy weapons. You cannot advance and I cannot let you live?”

“Is this the part where you offer to convert me to Chaos?” Crowlin replied. “I’ve heard such a speech before, they’re generally rather uninspiring things. Besides, Comalrech, you seem to have misjudged the situation. I have something, you see, that you do not.”

“And what is that, Knight Lord?”

“A stun grenade.”

It detonated in their midst in a blast of pure, blinding white, dazzling Aetherwynd soldiers who cursed as they vainly grabbed at their eyes and ears. Crowlin was already moving, saw screaming into life as he hit the enemy’s flank. The crew of the tripod-mounted plasma cannon were his first target, the saw slicing through the guts of the first, Crowlin’s fist shattering the skull of the second, the third simply crushed beneath his immense weight.

Still half blinded, an Aetherwynd heretic flailed at him with his lasrifle, but Crowlin simply caught the stock of the weapon and smashed him away, before hurling the rune-coated weapon into another traitor, smashing his skull open. His saw screamed as he vaulted the sandbags surrounding the lascannon, slicing into the crew around it, tearing limbs and pulping organs with righteous fury.

Shouts of alarm came up from the soldiers around him as they realised his presence, and a lasbeam hopelessly scored off his helm. Crowlin laughed, the vox speakers in his helm distorting it to some kind of terrifying baying, before charging forward and slashing once more, tearing through flesh and flak armour. He thundered into their midst, fighting with lethal grace as he found himself surrounded. Here and there was the occasional hammering or scratching as soldiers tried to crack his armour with lasrifle stocks or stab through the joints with bayonets, but he was untouchable, invulnerable, armoured as well as a tank and far swifter than his enemies. It was the work of a moment to rip them to bloodied pieces, annihilating them utterly.

Only Comalrech remained, the rogue psyker backing away from the mountainous Knight Lord as he approached, saw blade gently spinning its holster. Panting, exhausted from his efforts beforehand, he could summon up nothing more than a gently breeze that cause the purity seals on Crowlin’s armour to flutter.

“A piece of advice, Comalrech,” Crowlin said. “Your blasphemous god may dictate that the winds of change are sacred, but specialising in calling up breezes? That is no good against Astartes.”

Before the psyker could reply, Crowlin moved, grabbing the heretic’s throat in an unshakeable vice grip.

“Especially not against the Sons of Thunder,” he growled. “For we are the storm of the Emperor.”

A squeeze was enough to kill Comalrech outright, crushing cartilage and bone and leaving the psyker a collapsed heap on the floor, choking on the ruin of his own throat.

Crowlin turned to face the heavy door of the vault, and the control panel by it. First he would retrieve his storm bolter, and then he would find a way to open it.

Gently, the handsome prince opened the door to the princess’ bedchamber, before bowing over her bed and waking her with a kiss upon her pale lips.

“-stard.”

Something had changed in the air around her, something subtle that only her psyker’s senses alerted her to. She must have been put into stasis.

She raised her bolt pistol, pointing it at the door, preparing to sell her life dearly; if they were going to breach, she would empty all but one shot and then turn the weapon upon herself. The codes would die with her.

“Lady Inquisitor?” a deep, harsh voice called over the intercom. “It is Knight Lord Crowlin here. I have deactivated the stasis field and I need you to open the vaults so we can make our escape.”

“What about Comalrech?” she asked.

“He is dead, slain by my hand. Open the vaults, if you would be so good, Lady Inquisitor; we do not have much time,” Crowlin replied. “I have a teleport homer in my possession, we will use it to return to the Oncoming Storm.”

“I’m opening it now, Knight Lord,” Ahlyss replied. “Hold on.”

The princess and the castle woken from the witch’s terrible curse, the handsome prince took her in hand, lead her to his noble steed and together they rode away, to live happily ever after.

“Damnation,” Crowlin growled as his press of the activation rune did nought to start the teleport homer into life. He muttered a machine canticle quickly as he re-entered the commands, before trying it once more. No signs of life in the machine.

“We must be too deep underground,” Ahlyss said. “We need to get upwards.”

“Agreed,” Crowlin replied. “We will need to move swiftly.”

He paused as the sound of shouts filtered down to his enhanced hearing, and his scarred, craggy face creased into a grin.

“Not just move swiftly,” he said. “Fight hard.”

His saw span into life, and he stepped forwards, using his bulk to shield Lady Inquisitor Ahlyss from any fire that the enemy would send his way, all too aware of her frailty compared to his superhuman bulk and Tactical Dreadnought Plate.

“For the Emperor, Lady Inquisitor,” he said. “Now, let’s die in a way to make the Him proud.”


FIN
Last edited by Colonel Mustard on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stasis [Short]

Postby Rhamah » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:14 pm

*applauds*

I can do nothing but clap, sir. That was excellent.
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Re: Stasis [Short]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:39 pm

*TIps hat and bows*

:D Thanks very much, Rhamah.
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Re: Stasis [Short]

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:38 am

Its Johnny Appleseed, obviously. ;)
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Re: Stasis [Short]

Postby Geradin » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:13 am

Bravo, my Colonel.

As can be expected of you.

I enjoyed this as much as I thoroughly enjoyed my mashed potatoe that I had not too long ago. And I enjoyed them like I have not had them in ten years.

Once again, bravo.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. - Friedrrich Nietzsche
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Re: Stasis [Short]

Postby hypomaniac » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:26 am

Fantastic, sir! If only my parents had read this version to me as opposed to the one an unmentionably evil corporation had created
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Re: Stasis [Short]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:03 am

Hypo: Indeed. Think of all the damage that could have been averted in later life! :P

Gaius: Well guessed. Have a cookie.

Ger: I think that's the kindest comparison anyone has ever made between my writing and foodstuff. Thanks a lot.

I think...
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Re: The Sons of Thunder [Shorts]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:51 pm

Update time! Read the note at the first post, it will all make sense.

Next short inspired by a part of Gaius Marius' excellent Shadow Fire, available for perusal in the General Warhammer-Verse Fan Fiction today!


The Trial

The prisoners were lead in in chains, one by one. Manacled and handcuffed, they shuffled into the immense chamber with as much pride and dignity as they could muster, dragging against the heavy iron balls that were clasped to their ankles. Branded and carved into their flesh were blasphemous runes, red raw despite the fact that they had been slashed into muscle and skin millennia beforehand. Over each of them, Aquilas had been burned.

The Terminator Armour clad figure at the head of the massive pulpit glowered upon them as they entered, escorted by two white armoured giants, boots clanking against the marble floor. The leader of the prisoners looked around the massive, ornate chamber they had entered, replete with stained glass depictions of the Emperor, golden statues of Vulkan and various saints, massive frescoes depicting His victories, and spat. He received a blow around his jaw for his trouble.

They were dragged to the foot of the pulpit, a place reserved for the most important Meets of the Sons of Thunder, facing a white armoured warrior who stood staring stonily ahead. He wore a cloak of sable, and a massive axe was placed with its pommel down on the floor, a power armoured hand on the top of its head holding it vertical.

“Solgarat Redblade,” Denius Kelgin, chapter master of the Sons of Thunder announced from his place atop his pulpit. “You and your men, for want of a better word, come before us charged with crimes of the most heinous kind against the God Emperor of Mankind.”

“And what of it?” Solgarat called from below. “We both know how this is going to end; forget this preposterous charade and kill us, unless you are too fearful to.”

Denius ignored the protest, nodding to the cloaked, axe-bearing Marine by the traitors. On cue, Lord Executioner Abraham unrolled the parchment at his waist and announced; “Solgarat Redblade, leader of the traitors known as the Sons of Hate, you come here charged with the following crimes: blaspheming against the Emperor of Mankind, turning your back upon the Emperor of Mankind to pursue your own goals, consorting with daemons, worshipping false gods, mass murder of Imperial Citizens, the destruction of the worlds of Irken, Olrias, Thirallen and Chiralkos, aiding and abetting the heretic Lomoch Achmalin and the murder of Brother Captain Jeremiah of the Sons of Thunder Fifth Company.”

Solgarat grinned.

“I did all these things, aye,” he said. “I did it over more than two thousand years, and you caught me only now. What does that say about the effectiveness of your justice, I wonder?”

The mockery was ignored, and Abraham turned to the figure clad in blue power armour standing to one side.

“Chief Librarian Antius, have you the evidence?” he asked.

“That I do, Lord Executioner,” Antius replied. He took a roll of parchment from where it stood next to him. “From this I read from the regimental record of the Twelfth Varseen; ‘Leading the arch-traitors was a fiend clad in black Terminator Plate, who did wield two lightning claws of a mark this scribe recognises not, and slaughtered many brave men with the foul tools. It midst of battle, when the brave Colonel Antiolochus did try and engage the devil, he did proclaim: ‘I am Solgarat Redblade, First Fiend of the Sons of Hate, and I shall see you undone.’ From whenceforth, the foul being did launch into a tide of blasphemies that I shall not put to parchment for fear of corrupting it.’”

Solgarat snorted and shook his head.

“Is there any need for this mummer’s farce?” he asked. “You know of my guilt. You know of all our guilt. Just kill us, you proud, pompous dogs, instead of playing this child’s game!”

Abraham stepped forwards, his massive axe clacking against the floor, before he said; “We are the Emperor’s justice. For His justice to be given properly, due process must be observed, even for the heretic, the traitor and the sinner.”

“Pah,” Solgarat growled. “You are idiots, each one of you.”

“Chief Librarian, continue to present your evidence,” Chapter Master Kelgin said. Antius nodded, and read on.

A list of crimes of the most hideous sort were read out, accounts of Solgarat’s constant acts of barbarism, excess and heresy. The words of shell-shocked civilians, scribes and archivists, accounts from ancient battles, statements from Inquisition agents, even scrolls sent from the vaults of the Angels of Retribution. Antius’ reading echoed across the massive, ornate chamber, clear for all present to hear. Occasionally, Solgarat or one of his men would try and interrupt, only to be beaten into silence by the two attendant guards. It was only when it came to the reading of the death of Brother Captain Jeremiah was Solgarat allowed to interrupt without being forced into silence.

“Perhaps I should tell you how your beloved brother really died,” he said. There was a silence, the Sons looking at him with contempt in their eyes, and he chuckled. “I thought that you would be interested in such a thing. He died whimpering and screaming, entirely at my mercy as I tore his armour from him piece by piece. He wept like a child as I ripped his limbs off, and when I finally stabbed out his hearts he thanked me, yes, thanked me for doing so. He was a pathetic, weak creature, and it embarrasses me to think that he was ever made a marine. Though considering the stock that he comes from, he was one of the better ones; the worms of False Emperor must be growing desperate if they think that you are good enough protection.”

There was a long silence, before Kelgin said; “Lord Executioner, would you be so good as to add slander to the list of charges against Solgarat’s name.”

“Of course, Chapter Master,” Abraham replied. He held out a hand, a servo-skull bobbed forwards, a quill clutched in the two tiny metal claws affixed to the bottom of the device’s jaw. The Lord Executioner plucked the quill from the machine’s grasp and, taking up the roll of parchment he held, made a note before returning it to the servo-skull.

Solgarat growled.

“Does nothing move you?” he asked. “I kill your brother, I besmirch the name that you care for so much, and you do nothing? Is there no anger in your hearts, no passion, no care? Are you made of ice? Show me some anger, you dogs! Or are you not actually Space Marines at all?”

“Be silent,” Abraham ordered, tone moderated and flat.

“No,” Solgarat said. “If you are the dogs who care for the Emperor, then it is no wonder that your beloved false Imperium dies by the day! Look at you all, playing your ridiculous little games of pomp and ceremony, thinking yourselves honourable simply because of this preposterous little show trial! You are pathetic, a joke, a-”

A gauntlet slapped down on the back of his skull, silencing him, and Abraham said; “You will be silent.”

The Chaos marine chuckled.

“Go on,” he growled. “Give in to your anger. Because I know you are angry. You want revenge, you want to take up that axe and strike me down right here and right now, don’t you? Do it!”

“Does the defendant have any testimony to give?” Kelgin asked.

“Are you even listening to me?” Solgarat exclaimed. “What is wrong with you people? You claim to be of the storm, yet you seem to be made of stone! Does nothing move you?”

“Does the defendant have any testimony to give for his defence,” Kelgin repeated.

“What do you want me to say?” Solgarat asked. “Do you want me to deny what you have all heard? How can I deny such a volume of evidence from the Corpse God’s lapdogs? And would I want to deny it? I have killed, I have raped, I have murdered and stolen, all in the name of the Dark Gods, and I would gladly do so for another ten thousand years. We all know how this trial will end, so stop pretending that this is justice and just kill me!

Kelgin nodded, before saying; “Solgarat Redblade, how do you plead?”

“Guilty, guilty guilty! What else can I plead? I am guilty! I will not repent, you know that.”

Abraham and Antius nodded to their Chapter Master.

“Solgarat Redblade, by the Emperor of Mankind, abiding by His law, we of the Sons of Thunder find you guilty of the crimes of heresy, mass murder, blasphemy, betrayal, consorting with the unclean and slander,” Kelgin announced. “Abraham Haisah, as Lord Executioner of the Son of Thunder, what is your sentence?”

“The sentence I give is death,” Abraham replied. He hefted his great axe in both hands and stepped up to one of Solgarat’s men. “Thus is the might of His justice. None can escape it, none can fight it.”

It swung down, the razor edge blade and the strength behind it slicing through vertebrae and muscle. Blood gushed from the stump, the traitor collapsing in a limp heap, viscera spreading across the marble floor, already beginning to thicken and dry as the Larramans cells worked even in death.

“This sanctum is purified by the blood of traitors,” Abraham announced, stepping across to the next one, boots momentarily sticking against the gore-slicked floor. The axe sliced down. “Rejoice, for the cleansing shall never end.”

Red spattered against Abraham’s white armour as the blade fell once more.

“In your deaths you are sent to the Emperor for absolution or damnation,” Abraham intoned as another life was sliced away. “And traitors are not found worthy for absolution.”

Down went the axe, thumping wetly into the neck of a traitor before it cut clean through.

“Give thanks to Him that you take part in this purification,” Abraham said as he ended another traitor’s life. “Rejoice, for by your ending the domain of Man is secured yet further.”

It cut through the next neck, and Abraham stepped up to Solgarat.

“Go on,” the Chaos marine growled. “Kill me. Kill me in the way Khorne would want, send me to the Blood God.”

Abraham shook his head and smiled, the expression looking out of place on a face as grim as his.

“I shall not use the axe for you,” he said. “No, your punishment is far different.”

#

Solgarat found himself in a pit, his chains removed. Dark granite walls towered around him, a single narrow corridor leading away from it. Along the side of each was metal plating, and snarling, yapping growls emanated from them.

“Your greatest crime, Solgarat Redblade,” Abraham’s voice came down from above him. “Is pride. You are a proud being, proud of your heresy, blasphemy and your thousands of acts of deviance. Even now, you are proud of what you have done. Thus, before we kill you, we must teach you humility. If I were to kill you myself in the Meet Chamber, you would have been slain by one of your betters, and this would not shame you. So we will kill you with those that are weaker.”

“You are no better than me,” Solgarat replied. “Enough games, you fool, just kill me or release me.”

“On your knees,” Abraham ordered.

“I will not kneel to your-”

There was a pair of bangs and pain exploded behind each of Solgarat’s kneecaps. Muscles went limp and they collapsed underneath him, forcing him to all fours. The noise seemed to set whatever it was in the cages into a frenzy of growling, rattling furiously against the cage walls.

There was pain behind his knees, but no bleeding or maimed flesh; blister bolts. They were going to use the weapon of a novice to kill him.

“The creatures in these cages,” Abraham said. “Are Troglodytes. They are native to Polyphemus. They are vicious creatures, but stupid and weak, not unlike yourself. One Space Marine could kill hundreds with ease. They will be what ends you.”

Solgarat tried to stand before a blister bolt slammed into one of his knees and forced him into a crawling position.

“You will die by the hands of the weak, prostrate and helpless,” Abraham said. “They will bite and scratch you apart, and you will be entirely unable to fight back.”

The doors of the cage slid open and the Troglodytes emerged. Flattened, piglike noses, pale greenish skin, wiry forms the size of a human, fingers tipped with vicious, clawlike nails. Overlarge mouths split into feral snarls as their prey came into view, beady red eyes filled with pure viciousness glaring at him.

Solgarat kicked at one, knocking it away with a yowl, and he grabbed another by the throat before another blister bolt exploded against his arm and loosed his grip. He tried to stand as a claw raked along his skin, drawing blood before a bolt forced him down.

“The path,” Abraham’s voice rang out. “Crawl along it and find absolution.”

Even unarmed and unarmoured, Solgarat would have been able to deal with the creatures, but whenever he tried to stand a blister bolt slammed into him, knocking him to the floor. A bite tore a chunk of flesh from his arm, and another went for his neck before he pushed it away. They were all around him, his and scratching as they leapt towards him, vicious fury behind every strike. There was no way he could win this, not with Haisah raining fire upon him whenever he tried to stand upright.

Half running, half crawling, all attempts to stand thwarted by the aim of the Lord Executioner, he made it to the gap, the Troglodytes following behind in a vicious tide of discoloured green. He kicked desperately as he pulled himself away, ignoring the pain in his feet as the Troglodytes bit and scratched at them.

Pain, he could bear, but this was…humiliating. He was on his knees before the most pathetic creatures he had ever faced, but each time he tried to stand he was slapped back down. Damnation upon every one of these weakling dogs, he would die standing!

“ENOUGH!” he roared, the sheer volume driving the creatures assailing him back for a moment. He pushed himself upwards. “I AM SOLGARAT REDBLADE, AND BY THE DARK-”

A bolt slammed into his throat, and he fell back, gasping and choking desperately as the Troglodytes advanced once more. A vicious kick knocked a few away, but the rest came on, Solgarat throwing them back with a swipe of his arm.

“Crawl, heretic,” Abraham’s voice came from above. “Crawl to absolution.”

Solgarat forced his way along the winding passageway, narrow granite scraping against superhumanly muscled shoulders, the branded Aquilas burned onto them painfully raw against the rough stone. Always following him were the Troglodytes, an animal tide of hate that scratched and bit.

Suddenly, be broke through, out of the granite path he had been forced along, into an open space.

“You have come to absolution, heretic,” Abraham’s voice said. “Rejoice.”

Absolution. Did that mean…? What game were they playing with him here?

And then Solgarat saw the statue. Carved from hard granite, an ornately armoured giant upon a great throne stared down upon him, one hand covered in a great claw, the other holding a blade on the pommel, tip resting on the floor.

Despite himself, Solgarat laughed. All this, and this was the game they were playing with him. Here he was, after millennia of depravity, cruelty and heresy, prostrate before the Golden Throne before he was executed by a mob of the weak.

He cackled as the Troglodytes came in, ceasing his struggles.

A bite tore a chunk of his leg away, claws scratched as his flesh, pain erupted as enemies grabbed and slashed away at him. But still he laughed, the sheer, preposterous hilarity of the situation somehow pushing him past the agony of being eaten alive.

Solgarat Redblade died at the hands of the Sons of Thunder. He died before the Emperor, abased before Him, all his pride taken away. And he laughed, because the bastards, for all their ridiculous ceremony, had beaten him. The Sons of Thunder had torn him apart, and they had won.

Dark Gods damn them, but Solgarat couldn’t imagine a funnier way to die.
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Re: The Sons of Thunder [Shorts]

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:18 am

Shame how he bowed out.

Wonder if he had his hair tied in a bow?

Guess kneeling killed him.

I'll stop now. :)
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Re: The Sons of Thunder [Shorts]

Postby LordLucan » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:30 pm

Nice one Mustard. You two guys seem to love the ironic punishment for heretics... :P
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Re: The Sons of Thunder [Shorts]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:07 pm

Gaius, that is...that is abominable... :P

And what can I say, LL? Ironic heretic punishments are just so much fun!
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