Author Topic: Defiant Echoes  (Read 11372 times)

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2012, 08:38:01 PM »
An immensely bright flesh blinded everyone in the small lander. Semplice’s eye was prepared now and he quickly saw again. What he saw was a disaster, the nova cannon detonation, which it had to be, had not only blinded his companions but also sent Tettares into the kind of shock she suffered from very bright lights. She had fallen from her chair and was twitching on the floor. Another point that would have been addressed if magos Haskil had survived the attack of those without vision.

He looked around for someone to replace his stricken child. The pilot was nowhere to be seen, probably hiding in his assigned bunk. The man obviously lacking the will to do the Emperor’s work. Nevertheless he called the man, augmenting his voice to the highest levels: “Flight officer Damas, report immediately to your station.”

He turned down his voice again and ordered Karnak’s subordinate to see to Tettares in binaric which he had learned a long time ago. At the same time he spoke: “Pantariste, assist tech-priest minoris Nargal with my daughter.”

The tech priestess and the veteran soldier carried Tettares away from the cockpit while the pilot arrived. He looked at the still twitching girl and immediately seemed to have become even more frightened. Shivering he took up his old position. He asked: “My lord, what are your orders?”

“Enter the planet’s atmosphere,  once we have done so we shall look for a suitable landing site. Do not allow yourself to be distracted.”
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Offline Inquisitor Sargoth

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2012, 04:58:29 AM »
It was too warm below decks, too warm and too dark. The crew had abandoned this place centuries ago, leaving it to the hullghasts, the bendies, the phantoms and bogeymen of the void. It was situated directly below one of the gun-decks and Volos had no doubt they would all be deafened should the broadsides above ever be fired. The thought was oddly pleasing – he would like to see his master robbed of another sense.

Master. He loathed the title, yet was any other preferable? Liege. Employer. Blackmailer. The man who held his leash.

Before they had claimed this place there had been monsters down here. There still were, Volos corrected himself, but before the Maimed had taken up residence here this level had been haunted by hideous, pallid things. Whether they were mutants or aliens Volos preferred not to speculate – he had mainly seen the charred bodies after Sonneillon and his mute-freak assassin Remiel were done with them. No two were quite alike, but all of them shared skin so pale as be translucent, oversized, dark eyes like some deep-sea fish and rotten fangs or, in some cases, hardened gums. Their naked bodies were hairless and covered in nodules and tumours. They were creatures of nightmare, but Volos’ nightmares were crowded enough.

They had spent two days hunting in the darkness, his master illuminated only by a burning sword, too small in his hand. Blind as he was, he could not use the blade with any real finesse, but there was no need. For all his inelegance he was inhumanly and the bisected remains of the monsters fell behind him. Others he set alight with a spurt of fuel from his flamer, their thrashing bodies torches for the rest of the Mained to see by.

A few had attempted to sneak behind them and were quickly dispatched by Remiel’s spear. One lunged at Sonneillon’s artificer, who merely eyed it lazily before the towering space marine span around and lifted it effortlessly by the throat, crushing its windpipe in his gauntleted fist. The legs twitched and then hung loose as the neck snapped, audibly.

Volos had been sick. Presumably it was still here, somewhere. This place had not been cleaned in millennia – slime-moulds and moss covered the areas of decking that had not been used as major thoroughfares by the mutant-things. He had struggled to not be sick again when his master had selected a few of the bodies and cracked open their skulls, scooping out the grey tissue and eating it raw, one of the many nonsensical habits that Volos tried not to think about.

What little light he had merely showed the squalor of this place, all rust and decay. How the mighty had fallen... Once, Volos had lived in a world of beauty and splendour, and now he was in the filthy bowels of some Throne-forsaken trader. Was it the same for Sonneillon? He claimed to have fought in the Heresy, ten thousand years ago, to have lived through the Great Crusade. He had walked alongside legends and heroes and now he squatted in the darkness muttering to himself.

The wan light of Volos’ lantern fell on his master, who had no need of it, and Mordecai, who seemed content to sit and share in his master’s blindness. He was polishing something, most likely a piece of Sonneillon’s armour. Remiel was nowhere to be seen, so it was safe to assume he was close by and watching Volos closely.

Sonneillon was naked again. This seemed to be a more recent habit but Volos had long since stopped trying to understand his master’s behaviour. He could not help but stare at the space marine, his eyes lingering on inhuman musculature marred by old wounds and interface ports that erupted from pale flesh like blisters. His gaze crept to the statuesque face, scarred from scalp to lip. Sonneillon looked as though he had been carved from marble and then desecrated, defaced. In the pale light, however, his empty eye-sockets and shaven head made him look more like a skull.

“Hello, Jacques.”

“My lord. What is your will?”

The archaic phrasing had once been a subtle way of mocking Sonneillon, but now it came naturally. Sonneillon was a relic of a bygone age, a better age, if legend could be trusted. He had been a hero once. No longer. Now he was close enough, Volos could smell it. Corruption. Taint. His master reeked of it. So did the spindly eunuch beside him. It filled him with revulsion, mostly because a small voice inside wondered if he smelt the same. He took out a cigarette, one of his last, to cover the stench and to help settle his nerves.

“Even through the Geller field, the warp whispers to me, Jacques. We travel near to a world that was torn apart by civil war, touched by chaos, abandoned by Emperor and Imperium. I hear a name; Sathvairg. I have seen war there, past and future. The hand of the Blood God, and darker things still. Something is being born here, though I know not whether I hear its first, ragged breaths or echoes travelling backwards through the warp... There will be blood enough to drown nations. There will be suffering and death and perhaps this time I will see a grater purpose to it.”

“Sounds cheery. Am I to assume we’ll be spending a brief holiday there?”

“This is a pilgrimage, Jacques. I hope to find some facet of the truth there.”

The truth. Sonneillon always spoke about the truth. Volos had always enjoyed a fairly loose association with the truth. He preferred lies. The truth was that he was damned and ruined, trapped in the service of an insane antediluvian demigod, his soul promised to otherworldly horrors. The lie was that he would be able to escape someday. He liked that lie.

“What truths do you hope to find in war, my lord? Surely, in all your years of life and battle, you have witnessed enough?”

“You are brave, human, to question my orders.”

“You told me yourself you do not waste tools. Besides, even if I question, I obey. I have a further question; how will we be arriving there? This is a chartist vessel. It will not alter its course and you said the world was blockaded.”

“The Imperium has a great many aphorisms pertaining to faith. They say it can move mountains. They say faith alone can overturn the universe. You are not a faithful man, Jacques.”

Volos knew it was not a question, but he chose to answer anyway. “No, my lord.”

“I value it.”

Volos wondered if Sonneillon was referring to faith or Volos’ faithlessness. He did not ask.
 
Sonneillon had told Jacques enough for him to know that he was alone, an exile on a pilgrimage to wherever the tides of the warp would take him, searching for a truth that eluded him. Such a man was surely defined by doubt, and yet when Sonneillon spoke every word rang with certainty. So many contradictions and paradoxes... Volos suspected he would never understand Sonneillon, even if he lived as many millennia as the space marine.

“I have a task for you and Remiel.”

***

A ragged wound in reality opened, impossible colours bleeding into the void.  A shape emerged, bathed in the hell-light, a shape not unlike like some ancient trireme.

It was a huge vessel, ancient beyond measure. Many of the spires that protruded from its spine were abandoned, more than half of the great bellies and hangars lay empty and the majority of the statuary that had once decorated the hull had been eroded and destroyed by time. The vitrified paint on the prow was barely decipherable, but it had a name; Demeter. Nonetheless, there was an elegance that shone through years of service, retrofitting and countless repairs. She was a relic from a glorious past, a time of enlightenment when technological and aesthetic sophistication were wed.

Perhaps she was the last of her kind.

She was dying.

One side was a crated and cracked ruin. Hull breaches vented burning oxygen, fires that died quickly in the void as the tunnel to the Empyrean collapsed behind her. The explosions and inertia had left her spinning lazily, the crew unable to right her.

Inside was madness. Demeter had never deviated from her course in living memory, but her Navigator had possessed enough sense to steer her to the nearest inhabited world and out of the warp the moment the explosions had begun, in case the Geller field was affected.

The ammunition had been ancient, seldom used. Though half of the weaponry that bristled from her hull was depowered, broken or disabled, she had always been too large and intimidating for the even the most enterprising pirates to risk attacking.

There was no way to know what had caused the initial explosion, but it had set off a chain reaction in the port broadside weapons. Countless crew had been killed in the initial explosions and the decompression that followed, and now entire swathes of the vessel were aflame, or without oxygen, or filled with leaking plasma and supercoolants. All internal communication was disabled. The bridge crew that remained were mostly panicking, fighting a hopeless battle to maintain order. Most were fleeing to salvation pods.

Tech-priests whose passions had dried up millennia ago, their humanity and emotion carefully excised, wept openly and turned weapons upon themselves. They had tended to the needs of a goddess and now she was dying, as far beyond their help as she had always been from their understanding.

Somewhere among the countless salvation pods, escape-barges and commandeered shuttles that fled the stricken vessel, sightless eyes looked out through a viewing port and saw nothing.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 03:44:32 PM by Inquisitor Sargoth »
One More Hit - A tale of addiction.

Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2012, 08:59:30 PM »
The chartist vessel's arrival is unexpected, but its presence matters little.

My walls will not bend as easily as its fragile form.

The enslaver interface has performed well. The first slave, however, has outlived its usefulness.

With a thought, I lower its remaining defenses and deactivate its weapons. A shudder runs through me as its aggressor unleashes its fury against it. But I know that I cannot be so easily subdued.

For centuries I laboured to master the shackled spirit of the Machine, and now we fight as one, my mind orchestrating the every move of this mighty vessel. And for centuries more, I delved into the deepest secrets of the Machine to extend that control to those that stand against me.

I stare into the eyes of the enemy vessel's spirit. Beneath my hands, beneath my feet, and all around me, the enslaver interface hums with the power of the Machine. My power. My authority to wield.

I assume control.


---

"Direct hit, Mister Barthelemy!" Maurer cheered as Lord Tiberius perished violently. Archduke Gordian's lances had punched right into the rogue vessel's enginarium and overloaded its main plasma reactor in a blast of nuclear fire.

"There are life pods on our short-range sensors, captain," reported a crewman. "Most are from the Asculum and the chartist vessel, but some are from Lord Tiberius. And rather a lot of wreckage, some of it from life pods caught in the fireball.

"Emperor rest their souls," Maurer sighed. "Captain al-Kalil would've gone down with his ship as well. A pity. No matter. How close is the chartist ship?"

"Can't get an accurate reading, captain. The debris cloud's too much for the ladar suite."

"I can't get a lock," Barthelemy added. "We're not wasting ammo on tha--"

The rumble of Archduke Gordian's starboard macrocannons was Maurer's first warning that something was amiss.

"Mister Barthelemy, if you've not got a lock then why are the gun crews firing?" he asked.

"They shouldn't be, captain, and nobody's given the order to... Oh, hell."

Maurer's stomach lurched as the ship suddenly burned retros and swung hard to starboard, in spite of his helmsman's best efforts to steer the ship in the opposite direction.

"Mister Barthelemy," Maurer answered as the chartist vessel's colossal form began to fill the forward windows, "hell is about right."

---

"Commodore, Adept Aristan awaits your orders."

"Excellent work, Mister Kees," Vargas nodded, glancing back towards the holodeck as Archduke Gordian's course suddenly changed to through the Demeter...

A chill went through her as she swiftly realised that the enemy intended to ram Gordian into the Demeter, likely annihilating both vessels, but potentially causing untold havoc on the planet as the fireball collided with the atmosphere and debris from the two ships pelted the surface.

"Aristan, this is Vargas," she began, clutching the vox horn a little too tightly. "I need you to broadcast a distress signal. This entire system is going to hell in a hand cart, and I'll be damned if I don't at least let someone know about it."

"Specify."

Vargas suppressed an irritated grunt. She disliked Aristan, because he was one of the few individuals on the ship that could get away with disrespect, to the point where he was almost ordering her around. Even Navigator Soun was more likeable.

"Tell them that we are facing a Chaos invasion," she decided. "The enemy has a grand cruiser, with a weapon that can turn our own ships against us."

Vargas looked up at the holodeck and noted the depressingly high number of red dots, marking destroyed ships' last registered positions. Two cruisers and over half a dozen escort ships had gone down already, with Archduke Gordian and the Demeter on a collision course, and the Resaena being shredded by the Hammer of Justice's guns even as it snatched at the frigates supporting the Inquisition ship.

"Tell them that it's tearing the interdiction fleet apart, and will be the end of the Inquisition ships unless they have an ace up their sleeves."

"Is there anything else?" Aristan asked after a brief delay.

Vargas paused before deciding that there was little else she could add. "Barring the possibility of the enemy landing troops on the planet, no. Send the message."

Aristan closed the connection without a further word, and Vargas hoped that lighting up the void with a mayday beacon would pay off.

Offline Necris

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2012, 09:47:52 PM »
"A Chartist ship has just broken from the warp within range of the planet the Archduke Gordian is currently on a collision course, while Vargas is sending out a distress beacon, this situation is slipping through her fingers. What do you want me to do Marshal?"

Narl frowned pausing in the corridor, he rubbed his chin for a moment then continued speaking as he strode onwards to the launch bay.

"Bledsoe, take the ship in behind the Archduke Gordian, crippler her engines and prepare to board with armsmen." assume control of the ship and isolate and disable the ships power lets put her to drift."

He felt the engines of the ship straining as Beldsoe pulled the Justified Fury round to move in behind the Archduke Gordian, the weapons were cycled and ready and as soon as the ship fell into range the weapons would be ready to snap at the ships engines crippling her.

He entered the launch bay and looked at the arbiters gathered below.

"Silon, take Arla, Castus and Zekka in one of the Aquillias to The Orchomenus, ensure that commodore Vargas is reminded of her duty them join us on the planet."

Silon nodded stepping from the group he strode over to Narl.

"Your sending me because I'm a Chaplain."

"I'm sending you because you are the master of Imperial Law, you are the beacon which we all aspire too, I'm hoping your authority and your zeal reminds the commodore of hers."

He bowed his head turning to the other three.

"You three get in the aquilla now!"

His voice was a hard barking growl as he strode off after them barking at their heels

"Warden you're the best pilot get in the cockpit and make sure we don't hit any of the crap out there!"

Castus looked over his shoulder as he ushered his cyber mastiffs into the hold, he narrowed his eyes at the older man.

"Of course Book, would you like me to line your seat with silken throws to save your pious arse from any unsavoury bumps?"

He laughed as he boarded Silon grumbled as he caught up with the rest climbing in behind the others his voice echoing.

"Just make sure you don't kill us unlike your bloody dogs we need to breath!"

Narl sighed and turned to the rest.

"Get on the transit lander, we're going planetside."
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2012, 07:52:20 PM »
"Incoming shuttle from the Arbites ship, milady," reported Kees.

"What the bloody hell do they want now?" Vargas wondered, her voice dropping into a dangerous growl.

"Haven't a clue, milady. Do you want the point defenses to--"

"No," she sighed. "Let them approach. I dare say Commissar Baris will have a few things to say once he's finished chewing out Bravura Leader."

"Cyclone Squadron finally got the message, Commodore," Hargadon reported from the helm. "They're breaking away from the engagement with the Resaena."

"I'm guessing Commander Sokal convinced them?"

"Apparently so, milady."

"I'll have to talk to Rutherford when this is over, but at least he's getting the hell out of there," Vargas conceded. "Are Novak and Antonov pulling out?"

"Templar Alpha's a wreck in space and we've lost Manticore Squadron," Kees answered. "The Resaena's going down, but we can't hail Captain Santos."

Vargas cursed. She'd noticed the missing ships earlier, but she'd been so focused on the Arbites that the deaths of two good officers -- soon to be more, she reminded herself -- had completely passed her by.

"In that case, Mister Kees, send a welcoming party down to the flight decks and have that Arbites shuttle cleared to dock," she ordered. "The sooner they're in, the sooner they're out of our hair and the sooner I can try to salvage something from this frak-up."

"Aye, milady."

---

"Five minutes until landing," Andreas reported. "I advise holding onto something. The automated guidance systems are as likely to put us into a wall as they are two hundred miles from civilisation, if I'm any judge of their reliability."

"So very much like that one time over Komi Decimus?" Haines sniped.

"My lord remembers, of course, that the Midnight Brotherhood sniped our shuttle pilot through an armacrys canopy and sent us into freefall?"

"I also remember crashing into their position and flattening half a dozen of them before they could think of running," Haines answered. "Your excuses need work, Andreas!"

"Are you two quite finished exchanging puerile banter?" Hallona grumbled. "My head feels like it's about to burst, and I dare say the last thing I want to hear is the two of you acting like a pair of progenia."

Haines decided to ignore his concussed companion's protests, choosing to attribute her short temper to her head injury.

"Any sign of where we're coming down, Andreas?" Barkley asked, in an attempt to defuse the situation.

"Our current trajectory would put us near a small city, over what I think is a river," Andreas replied. "Take a look out the front, if you so wish. Though it's equally probable that we'll overshoot the city and end up near what I hope is the northern coast. Or worse, in the ocean."

"And I suppose there's no chance that you can take control of the life pod's guidance systems," Barkley noted.

"It's certainly possible," Andreas nodded, "although my Lord Haines will no doubt recall the one time that I attempted to pilot a shuttle, and very nearly killed both us and the Pontifex Thalassian. Unless my lord has training as a pilot, I would advise that we leave our fate in the Emperor's hands until we land."

In the back of the life pod, Haines found himself sighing in equal parts disappointment and exasperation.

Offline Necris

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #35 on: February 23, 2012, 08:06:52 AM »
The Aquillia touched down and the four of the disembarked Silon leading them, he looked at the welcoming party a gaggle of junior officers that could obvious be spared, he stopped before the most senior of them his piecing eyes locking with the young man's.

"I am Chaplain Silon, my fellows here and me are to render all aid your commander needs in bringing this fleet back to order, please take us to the bridge."

He had decided that simple taking control of the fleet was not the best approach he'd present himself to the commodore and observe her for a time see if she was capable, best not get her back up before he had to.
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2012, 10:34:21 AM »
"As landings go," Barkley commented, "that could have been much worse."

"Although we don't know where we are," Haines grunted, pushing the door of the life pod open, "beyond 'sitting in a bloody great field'."

The life pod had come to rest on top of a low grassy hill, overlooking the town that Andreas had spotted earlier. Haines judged the town to be no more than four kilometres distant, which was about as good as he could have hoped for considering their largely uncontrolled descent.

He stepped out, lowered himself down, and was suddenly glad for having fresh air to breathe after so long spent travelling. He realised too late that his hands, and by extension the remainder of his arms, were uncomfortably warm from having been in contact with the life pod's heated outer surface, but conceded that warm bionics were infinitely more preferable to third-degree burns on flesh-and-blood hands.

"A more pertinent question than where we are, my lord, might be what our next move is," Andreas pointed out from just inside the hatch. "There's still the matter of the messages, and with Khan still at large..."

"That had hardly escaped my notice, Andreas, but it's no good wondering what the messages say if we don't even know where to start," Haines answered, "and I should think that the Traitor Marine is a more pressing concern than Mouritz Khan."

"Though I trust that we will not simply ignore him?" Barkley reminded him. Haines opened his mouth to reply, then quickly shut it again.

"There's also the small matter of finding somewhere for Lady Hallona to recover," Andreas went on. "I will concede that the life pod offers both shelter, and a ready supply of military rations to sustain us -- not to mention lasguns, and plenty of spare charge packs -- but I dare say that crash webbing is hardly the most comfortable of surfaces on which to rest and recuperate."

"I'm not an invalid," Hallona grumbled from inside the pod.

"He does have a point," Haines noted. "The life pod is well-stocked but hardly ideal as a base of operations, no matter how temporary. It sticks out like a sore thumb in all this green."

"By extension, so would all the other life pods that came down," Barkley pointed out. "And with all those pods coming down around here, the inhabitants of that town over there must have thought they were being bombarded by an enemy warship."

Another bright flash lit up the sky, more powerful than any of the others, and Haines had to shield his eyes from the glare.

"That only proves my point," Barkley continued unhelpfully.

"Balls. Andreas?"

"My lord?"

"Does this life pod have any form of emergency transport?"

"My lord must be aware that the life pod was emergency transport," Andreas responded dryly.

"Very funny. I meant, do any of those lockers contain personal transport? There are some big ones in the back."

Andreas moved over to the biggest locker and opened it, revealing what he assumed to be a folding bunk.

"Short of a doorway to slumberland, no," he answered. "Perhaps my lord was expecting autocycles? Perhaps a jump pack?"

Haines sighed, not bothering to put his frustration into coherent words.

"This gets us nowhere," Hallona stated.

"In that case, maybe Andreas could do some recon in town?" Barkley suggested.

"In the same clothes in which I was having dinner with Vice-Admiral Burnett only so recently, and which now bear the tell-tale signs of life pod travel?" Andreas protested.

"That applies to all of us, you fool," Haines grumbled. "Think about it. I'm the tallest of us by far, and have more bionics than anyone else, so I'll stand out a mile away unless I can find new gloves. Hallona needs medical attention--"

"This is nothing, Madoc!"

"Even if she doesn't recognise it," Haines continued, ignoring her.

"I have medical training," Andreas and Barkley stated at the same time.

"Which means that Ambrose should stay here, as you've still got your data-slate."

"I will concede that my capacity for recording and recalling information surpasses my lord's own..."

"Do you have money?"

"You're assuming they will honour credits here," Barkley cut in.

Andreas produced a black leather wallet which had some obvious weight about it. "Will this be sufficient?"

"If not, I'll be worried," Haines shrugged.

"Am I looking for anything in particular?"

"Information on where we are, transport links, and possible lodging," Haines replied. "And any signs of people we know. Oh, and leave the arms coffer here. You can take a gun from the locker."

"As my lord wishes," Andreas shrugged.

"Lodging?" Barkley queried. "Surely you don't intend to take up residence here."

Haines looked back into the life pod. "All things being equal, Ambrose, I'd rather hide in the town than come back here every night."

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #37 on: February 25, 2012, 08:31:35 PM »
The craft had touched the surface in a small clearing in a forest near a river. Immediately after landing Semplice had sent out a pair of servitors along with Pantariste to inspect their surroundings. Iota Tettares was still unavailable due to the nova cannon blast. The scanners showed safety pods landing everywhere around them as well as pieces of wreckage.

Pantariste moved out of the rear hatch of the lander. She was inclined to first send out the servitors but knew that the inquisitor would prefer her to look first. There were only tall trees. Up in the sky she saw the trails blazed by the safety pods. That would draw away attention from their landing. Her boots touched the ground, some thin branches broke under her heavy boots. She saw no danger and ordered the servitors to keep their position. She reported: “My lord, there are no signs of anyone so far.”

“Continue around the clearing, do not rest until our security can be assured.”, the inquisitor replied.

Before moving on she loosed her re-breather. For the first time in a long while she inhaled fresh air. The smell was magnificent, the forest smelled clean, like the gardens in her distant home and very much unlike the Unbroken. The ship had badly functioning air purifiers the inquisitor refused to have replaced. She smiled while she continued her patrol. It was obvious that they were alone but she relished being away from the inhuman inquisitor and his aberration.

Then she saw something moving behind the trees. From pure instinct she aimed her weapon and fired. She spoke: “We have a contact!”

“Ensure that there are no survivors.”

Looking closer she saw that her target had been disabled by her salvo of las-bolts. She walked closer to it. It was clearly not human. The creature had six legs each ending flatly. It was still moving but only weakly. It turned a round head towards the veteran. Its four eyes almost looking pleading while it made a soft whining sound.

“Are the targets eliminated”, sounded the inquisitor in her ears.

Pantariste took a moment to take in the situation. She reported: “The target appears to be local wildlife.”

She aimed carefully and ended the poor, innocent creature.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2012, 11:49:33 PM »
  "The augur's picking more weapons fire, sir."
  "Very well. We withdraw.", Arkus resigned, a statement that prompted a furious shout from a bulky figure in segmented black and red carapace:
  "WHAT?! No! We go in. We go in now."

The captain turned, more weary of, than surprised by, the man's outburst:
  "Mr. Kuefer. While I understand your frustration, this vessel is not yours to command."
  "It's not yours either. This is Riley's ship."
  "Lady Hallona is not present. She is not even confirmed alive."
  "Yeah, you'd like that, wouldn't you? Your ship, all yours again."
  "Very well, Ekkehardt, I will spell it out more clearly. The aggressor's vessel has withstood a direct hit from a nova cannon, appears capable of overriding the captain's command and we are at barest minimum, at least half an hour's manoeuvres from being able to move into even a marginally tactically valid position. If Lady Hallona is not already safe, she is beyond our aid."
  "You snivelling coward! Take us in, NOW!"

Captain Mason ignored him, turning right towards an array of bridge stations.
  "...Master of Arms?"

A heavily armoured man with lieutenant's insignia rose from the cluster of seated voidsmen and approached the Captain. Arkus drew his gold engraved bolt pistol, checked the chamber, then presented its grip to the lieutenant.
  "Lieutenant Baden - if Mr. Kuefer is not off my bridge in thirty seconds, you have my strict orders to shoot him as necessary to facilitate his removal. You have the use of my sidearm and may report to Lady Hallona, should she still be alive, that I was responsible."

Baden nodded, taking the weapon's grip.
  "As you command, sir."

  "I then want the armouries stripped bare of boarding charges. The arms teams are to be ready to plant them on the main power feeds to the primary thrusters, retros or weapons at a moment's notice. I will destroy my own ship before I let that traitor filth take my command from me. Get to it, lieutenant."

  "Sir.", Baden nodded, offering a salute as the Captain turned away, barking orders at the remainder of the bridge:
  "Helmsman! Transfer the Integrity to a solar orbit."

~~~~~

  "Savant Lalgan, are you harmed?"

Collapsed on the floor, Jael slowly tried to move all of his limbs in turn.

  "No, I don't think so."
  "Excellent.", mused Steren, "Better than the rest of the voidsmen."
  "What happened to the voids..."

The words that would have come out of his mouth were promptly replaced by vomit as he realised exactly what it was he had landed on.

  "The autopilot directed us into a cliff. There are three others I've been able to recover."

When the entirety of the Asculum's last meal had come up, Jael was finally able to look around the life-pod, a mess of rended metal and gore. Despite his now empty stomach, it was almost enough to make him throw up again.
A voidsman was splattered across one of the supply lockers, and a voidswoman's head was impaled vertically through with a snapped plasteel girder. The rest of her body was in a pile several metres further down the compartment. Others had been crushed by the weight of others, and one appeared to have drowned on another's blood.

  "I need... I need.. Out. I need to get out!", he scrambled for his feet and the open hatch.
  "You can't go far. We're in an impact crater halfway up a two hundred metre cliff."

Nonetheless, she followed him out into the deep channel the life pod had dug, progressing towards the three voidsmen at the edge of the gaping hole in the cliff face. There was a strong sea breeze, but she ignored it, addressing the closest of the voidsmen, psychically skimming the core layer of the woman's identity for a name.

  "Rosa?"
  "You... Who are you? How do you know my name?", the response was angry and confused.
  "Dr. Irena Boure - I was a guest of the Vice-Admiral. And your name - I asked you when you woke in the lifepod.", Steren lied, layering in a psychic suggestion, "It's merely a basic diagnosis for head injuries."
  "Yes... yes, you did. I'm so sorry. How did I forget that?"
  "Minor forgetfulness is to be expected after a traumatic event like that. How are you overall?"
  "I don't know. Things keep feeling like they should hurt, but whenever I look, there's nothing wrong. This arm - the sleeve is cut clean through here, and my uniform is soaked in blood, but...my arm is as good as it's always been. Better, even."
  "The Emperor must have plans for you."

~~~~~

Ten minutes earlier:

  "Oh FRAK! We're coming in too low! Brace for impact!"

The warning came too late for most of the two dozen voidsmen to do anything but join in with the shouted profanity, as it was a mere instant later that the craft hit home, metal rending and harnesses tearing as high velocity life-pod tried to argue with a cliff face.

It was over just as quickly, everything settling still and eerily silent, as it remained for all of a very brief moment. One of the vast lockers, relocated some distance from where it was supposed to have been bolted, smashed over forwards onto the pod floor. Or rather, it was pushed over onto the floor, revealing a very large dent in its front surface and a svelte psyker behind it.

Steren looked around the pod. At least fifteen of the voidsmen were already dead, their telepathic auras gone. Three had their brains pulped beyond the point that there was any identity left to save in the empty dying shells their bodies had become.

Jael was alive, barely. Climbing over the debris to reach him, Steren clamped a hand to his chest and forced warp energies into his body, sealing his wounds and stabilising his erratic heartbeat. The reinforced cranial plates from his engrammic implantation had done something to keep his brains from pureeing, but those same engrams would mean it would take his mind longer to find itself again. He would recover with time.

She stood up, moving to the dark-skinned woman whose harness had somehow held. She was unconscious, her right arm cut clean through by flying metal rebar. Grasping the severed forearm that lay nearby, Steren pressed it to the stump, calling upon the warp once again...
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 09:06:33 PM by MarcoSkoll »
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

GW's =I= articles

Offline Inquisitor Octavian Lars

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2012, 09:24:02 AM »
“Traitor, I too have beheld a millennia go by, but you will feel the wrath of the god emperor all the same!” With all the spite my limited voxponders could achieve.
“Inquisitor! What are your orders?”
“He has us in a stand off! Cut engines and let the ship drift into shuttle range.”
“Retreat Inquisitor, that’s not what the Navy does!”
“No, Wagner, It’s what the Inquisition does, now get us into shuttle range. Unless you have a better idea?”
“No Sir”
“Thank you. That traitor will most likely send ships at us until he gets bored. Then he’ll open the airlocks, draining the oxygen. If we’re not a threat he may not attack us.”
“Captain? The Resaena is still coming for us! Classification, Tyrant class cruiser.”
“On-screen, let’s use this engagement to reach shuttle range.”
“Engaging, broadside in 25, and counting.”
“Ready shuttles for launch, pin-point the drop location of the life pods ejected by the Asculum!”
“Location locked and fed into shuttle autopilots.”
“While I am away Wagner, you are in full command of the ship. Order the coldstreams to meet me in the shuttle bay.”
“As you command.”
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Offline Herald

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2012, 02:58:06 PM »
Looking back at the admittedly sparse life-pod Ambrose conceded that Haines probably had a point and that finding suitable lodgings would be sensible.

“It could also be useful if we could find some form of communications as well. Three of my staff were en route to the planet’s surface when whatever happened up there happened.” He said gesturing up towards the sky. “I’d quite like to know if they’ve made it down in one piece.”

Andreas nodded and in doing so managed to give the impression that this was something he had already thought of and that Ambrose was simply encouraging the blindingly obvious. Slightly put out by this Ambrose returned to the life-pods interior to search it for equipment and provisions. Finding a kitbag in one of the lockers he proceeded to fill it with several medical kits, some ration packs and as an afterthought also packed in one of the life-pods lasguns. He also holstered a laspistol at his waist deciding that this was preferable to borrowing Haines’ no doubt erratic plasma pistol. Both were simple Mars patterns of the type he was familiar with and the lockers were filled with plenty of spare power packs so he filled the rest of the kit bag with those.

In his mind he was wondering how Terra they would deal with the Chaos ship in orbit and the multitude of traitors and heretics that it undoubtedly carried. He was also considerably regretting his curiosity. It wasn’t that he wished to avoid his duty now he was here rather that he felt he wasn’t really the best Inquisitor to stop a potential Chaos incursion. He thought about asking Haines if he had a plan but felt that would only highlight his own fears. Furthermore he expected Haines, or more likely Andreas, would give a terribly pragmatic answer about finding out where they were before generating any grand strategies.

Returning outside with one of the medical kits he found that Andreas had left and so attended to Riley doing a better job of sanitizing the cut before applying several steri-strips to hold the wound closed. He would have liked to have applied proper stiches but the medi-kit didn’t contain the necessary equipment and as it was head injury he was loath to attempt make shift stitches. Despite her insistence that she was fine and that the help was unnecessary fuss she did seem genuinely grateful. 
“A man who joins the Inquisition a radical has no faith, a man who leaves it a puritan has no sense”.

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #41 on: February 29, 2012, 02:41:11 PM »
Iota Tettares apporached the town stealthily. She crawled from cover to cover to reach it unseen. Her instructions had been clear. She was only to observe, detection was not an option. Nogal was wainting about half a mile away, Iota had left the tech priestess in some bushes. The inquisitor had commanded the adept to accompany her in case something should go wrong again.  She had decided to leave the noisy priestess behind, she was close enough to come when she was needed but too far away to be detected by anyone not explicitly looking for her.
 
Tettares was wearing simple dark clothing. She had left behind her more obvious weapons , they would have drawn unwanted attention if she should use them. Instead she had taken a knife and a pistol which she had hidden under her shirt. She had replaced her gaudy wig she used as the daughter of the rogue trader with a more simple one. The hair was tucked under a dark blue cap.
 
The final appraoch was the hardest. Here more poeple could look in her direction from their windows. Before continuing she looked at the town. The traces of war were everywhere. Many of the buildings were of recent construction. There also were many ruined buildings which still had to be demolished. There also was far more construction work going on than was normal for a town of its size. There were several signs, she could make out lettering on them, many of them bore the name Coveton, probably the name of the town or the region. 
 
She ensured that no one was watching and silently came closer to the nearest houses. The houses had pointed roofs as was common on many planets with this kind of climate, they were covered with some kind of tiles. The construction seemed of a low quality. The buildings were widely spaced, many had gardens containling all sorts of flora. When no one was watching she dove into one of the gardens, coming to rest under some bushes. She avoided looking to the sky, the flashes of the continuing destruction could incapacitate her again.
 
Inquisitor Semplice spoke into her ear: "Iota Tettares, what have you found so far?"
 
"The town or region is called Coveton. There are many signs of recent conflict which caused destruction on a large scale. Many buildings bear signs of damage or are recently built. I have not been discovered. There are no traces of famine or continuing conflict."
 
"Very well, keep me fully informed. Advance to the center of the town and attempt to find out about any military presence."
Circles of the wise My attempt at writing something, please comment on it if you have any advise.

Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #42 on: February 29, 2012, 08:32:12 PM »
"Pardon me," Andreas muttered as he bumped into someone. A quick glance over his shoulder told him that the stranger was making a rude gesture, but Andreas was already moving on.

The city's southern quarters -- if, indeed, south was south and his compass hadn't failed him -- was largely run-down, though the tell-tale signs of battle damage on most of the buildings meant that Andreas didn't even have to think to work out why.

Whatever had happened nineteen years ago, involving Memphis and her fall from grace, it had brought war to this city and devastated huge swathes of it. Wherever Andreas looked, he could see ugly burn marks on the walls, water-filled craters in pavements, and even burnt-out husks of buildings that had never been torn down.

On a smaller scale Andreas might have taken this sorry scene and assumed that this district was riven with gang violence, but that black scar could only have been caused by a near-miss from a plasma gun or lascannon, that crater dug out by a mortar shell or grenade, that row of houses burnt down by men with heavy flamers or meltaguns.

To be certain, there were construction teams working to restore the district to normal, but judging by how little heavy equipment he had seen so far, the majority had been deployed either elsewhere in the city, or elsewhere on the planet, and given that circumstances surrounding Memphis' betrayal had unfolded and played out close to two decades ago, Andreas found himself wondering exactly how serious the damage had been in other cities, other regions.

The main street he was on ran west, with a row of decidedly seedy-looking shops and emporia on his right, and a mess of demolished buildings on his left that he was neither willing nor able to identify. Directly in front of him, however, was a huge building of glass and polished metal that, although a good mile distant, was plainly visible in all its gigantic glory. A vast structure hovered over the building, a wire-frame Aquila constructed from steel struts and tension cables, eternally flying north as it hung immobile between a quartet of giant pylons.

The decidedly redundant street sign just in front of him told Andreas that the building was the "Witnel Land-Train Waystation, for Stonechapel, Portiswade and Aydecliffe", with a tangle of arrows pointing Andreas in the vague direction of what he hoped was a ground-car parking lot.

"Helpful," he mused, pausing for a moment to shift the kit bag on his back, but before he could continue walking, another bright flash illuminated the heavens, even closer than the others, and brighter by far.

He pondered for a second what it might be, but the flash was followed by a cacophanous boom as the blast wave buffeted the planet's atmosphere and shook the heavens themselves with its fury.

Wisely, Andreas ducked into a doorway, barely even registering that he'd stepped into an adult bookstore until well after the noise had died down.

---

"Sweet Emperor's bones," Hargadon muttered as Archduke Gordian went into the side of the Demeter and both icons vanished from the holodeck in a giant ball of static.

"I doubt Maurer got off in time," Vargas noted sourly. "And I'll warrant the Arbites just found something else to blame me for."

"I have no idea what you're going to tell Naval command, ma'am," Kees sighed.

Vargas didn't have it in her to reply.

---

My attention turns inwards.

The fleet is in ruins. The Imperium cannot resist the inevitable. Their attacks are an irritant, their continued persistence a minor distraction.

They cannot delay us.

In the depths, the Ancient slumbers, his shattered mind in communion with the Blood God. Ascended beyond the shackles of mortality to exist outside of sense and sanity, his flesh a sacrifice to the very altar he inhabits.

His suffering is irrelevant.

Such beings as the Ancient know neither fear nor pain.

AWAKEN.

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #43 on: February 29, 2012, 09:30:15 PM »
She observed the people walking the district or travelling by ground vehicles. They were well-dressed, obviously this area was one of the more affluent ones of the city. There were too many people to move through the town without being seen. Iota did however know more ways to walk without being seen.

She saw an older woman walking alone, her clothes were old but she was of the right size. Tettares saw her going alone into the space in between two houses. She silently approached her. The woman had sought a quiet place to relief herself. From behind she struck a single blow, breaking her victim’s neck. Without hesitating she lifted her into the shadows of a garden and stripped her of her clothes.

The woman had worn a long, brownish dress which covered the entire arms and leg. It easily fitted over her other clothing, the woman’s headscarf found a new place over Iota’s head. Only her gloves left her in doubt. No one of the woman’s social class would wear such gloves but without them it took only one lucky look and her lack of nails would be discovered. She decided to leave them off but to cover her hands in some dirt. Her eyes were a final problem, if anyone would look into them they would also discover her in a moment. There however was nothing to be done about that.

Entering the streets with her gaze cast downwards she entered the city, many of its people were discussing the flashes in the sky and rumours about pods crashing into houses. They were looking at the sky which made it easier for Tettares to pass by unnoticed. She could not orient properly and soon had to conclude that she was lost. The signs she saw held no meaning to her and she lacked the accent of the inhabitants which would give her away when asking directions.

After more walking she came by a waystation for land trains. She hoped that someone would have put up a city map somewhere nearby as was common on some planets. Before she could look another bright flash illuminated the sky followed by a loud noise. She was spared its side-effects as she was not looking into the air but still her fine chemical balance was disturbed again. From pure instinct she dove into the nearest building, crashing into a man.

 Immediately she rolled back to her feet looking around. The man she had hit was wearing expensive clothing which had suffered some damage. He looked into her pure black eyes with a natural and a bionic eye, his bald skull covered for a large part with metal. Remembering that she was supposed to act like a normal person she held out her arm to help the man back to his feet.
Circles of the wise My attempt at writing something, please comment on it if you have any advise.

Offline Necris

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #44 on: March 01, 2012, 02:29:23 PM »
The dropship vibrated violently as it punched through the atmosphere, the pilot angling the ship in a steep nose dive before flattening it out again the turbulence pulling at the ship all the way, finally clear of the Atmosphere the ship turned again into a wide spiral turning round on it'self it fell to the world in a controlled manner focusing on the heaviest concentration of survival pods.

Within the Crassus Narl sat harnessed into one of the hold chairs, six others in the team occupied the drivers cabin and the gunnery harnesses, while the rest sat shoulder to shoulder before him, he looked over them each one head down against the pressure and the roar of the descent, the vox link in his head came to life as the pilot spoke to him.

"Marshal we're picking what looks like a city below us, the life pods are scattered around it, do you want us to land in the city."

"No, we're not supposed to be here either, land beyond the city limits we'll proceed to investigate and round up survivors in the Crassus and bring them back to you."

"Understood, ETA Seven minutes."

"Understood, Lupus be ready to deploy as soon as we touch down."

"I am ready to go on your say Marshal."
This here is my very favourite gun...I call her rita.

The Order of the Iron Rose - Necris' Inq28 Plog