Project Artemis

Started by Sheepz, July 18, 2012, 01:57:17 PM

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Quote from: Sheepz on July 29, 2013, 11:11:09 AM
I'll have a look myself, but if you have any time or energy to dig them up, I'll look at them again.

Quote from: Sheepz on August  6, 2013, 11:53:27 AM
Yes, you're quite right about the onus on the writer. Hopefully when I do my edits this will be alleviated somewhat. At the moment I'm just hammering it out and posting it with little to no proof-reading on a chapter by chapter basis. Not the best way to write, I guess, but consider it a draft.

I will get around to leaving feedback on chapters 11 & 12 Sheepz but due to the time between posts I'm going to read the story from the start again to make sure I'm not seeing things that don't exist. In the meantime, seeing as you asked, I will list the words I think are wrong/missing. I'm hoping the fact that you asked directly means that I am not breaking mr_mich's rules.

Chapter 1, paragraph 11: distain should be disdain
Chapter 1, paragraph 17: Adeputs should be Adeptus
Chapter 1, paragraph 21: non-pulsed should be non-plussed
Chapter 1, paragraph 26: hanger should be hangar
Chapter 1, paragraph 43: hanger should be hangar
Chapter 1, paragraph 48: hanger should be hangar
Chapter 2, paragraph 4: "was dressed a" should read "was dressed in a"
Chapter 2, paragraph 17: "this all in my" should maybe read "this in my" or "all this in my"
Chapter 2, paragraph 24: inclination should be intimation
Chapter 2, paragraph 35: being should be begin
Chapter 2, paragraph 36: "members of the delegation pertains to the study". Due to the sentence construction this reads as an incomplete sentence and should maybe read "delegation are engaged in pertains to the study"
Chapter 3, paragraph 2: "There were appeared to be" should be There appeared to be
Chapter 3, paragraph 9: "whined at" should be whined as
Chapter 3, paragraph 15: "like an altar of slain" is an incomplete sentence. The past participle "slain" should be used with a subject
Chapter 3, paragraph 39: "the one stood up" should be the one standing
Chapter 3, paragraph 65: failing should be falling
Chapter 4, paragraph 3: "as not" should be "so as not"
Chapter 4, paragraph 7: "In return, the we". Remove the word the
Chapter 4, paragraph 24: "sense" should be sign
Chapter 4, paragraph 51: Add the word "of" to "understanding the organisms"
Chapter 4, paragraph 53: curiosity should be curious
Chapter 4, paragraph 87: cumulating should be culminating
Chapter 4, paragraph 98: cumulates should be culminates
Chapter 5, paragraph 2: cumulating should be culminating
Chapter 5, paragraph 37: "of Frasier" should be on Frasier
Chapter 5, paragraph 43: "was there" should be "were there"
Chapter 5, paragraph 79: Speimen should be Specimen
Chapter 5, paragraph 157: lightening should be lightning
Chapter 5, paragraph 158: croacked should be croaked
Chapter 5, paragraph 159: "erupted from" should be erupted on
Chapter 5, paragraph 165: "the bore" should be to bore
Chapter 5, paragraph 178: "ridgingly" should be rigidly
Chapter 6, paragraph 51: dampner should be dampener
Chapter 6, paragraph 52: dampner should be dampener
Chapter 6, paragraph 87: jilted should be jaded
Chapter 7, paragraph 4: Remove the word the from "and the wearing plain"
Chapter 7, paragraph 21: proffered should maybe be preferred. Not sure about this whole sentence to be honest.
Chapter 7, paragraph 59: helemets should be helmets
Chapter 7, paragraph 67: "pointing a series" should be pointing to a series
Chapter 7, paragraph 67: show should be shown
Chapter 7, paragraph 112: death-relex should be death-reflex
Chapter 8 paragraph 34: Lightening should be lightning
Chapter 8, paragraph 40: "urgents and anointed" should be unguents and anointed
Chapter 8, paragraph 45: sipped should be slipped
Chapter 8, paragraph 57: Remove the letter "a" from "a the most powerful"
Chapter 9, paragraph 69: vortexes should maybe be vortices. Both are correct I prefer the original.
Chapter 9, paragraph 23: "Some servo skulls" should be a few servo skulls
Chapter 10, paragraph 49: "Then entire" should be The entire
Chapter 10, paragraph 75: hanger should be hangar
Chapter 10, paragraph 76: hanger should be hangar
Chapter 10, paragraph 78: starting should be staring
Chapter 11, paragraph 6: "being" should be begin
Chapter 11, paragraph 68: "incremental" should be detrimental
Chapter 12, paragraph 37: "Hanger" should be Hangar
Chapter 13, paragraph 5: Tagi should be Tech
Chapter 13, paragragh 26: Add "for" to "was searching was"
Chapter 14, paragraph 16: Add "that" before you in "I advise you"
Chapter 14, paragraph 39: Dreker should be Drecker.
Chapter 14, paragraph 46: who's should be whose.
Chapter 14, paragraph 55: scared should be sacred.
Lines in red are more a matter of opinion than hard fact.

30/08/2013: Updated list
02/09/2013: Updated list
10/01/2014: Updated list
14/02/2014: Updated list
Congratulations Sheepz chapters 11 and 12 are brilliant. The mix of action and chat is really well balanced and the chapters move at a really good pace that holds the reader's attention all the way to the end. When I first read chapter 11 I thought it felt a bit flat and off pace but reading the whole thing from the beginning again and it's not as bad as I first thought. Reading it as part of the whole story chapter 11 works fine and I came to the conclusion that my initial problem was caused by the Mea culpa line and a few misspelt/wrong words ruining the continuity. When read in isolation the Mea culpa line just seemed a bit flat compared to the remembered excitement of the previous chapters. Personally I think the chapter should start with Solomon demanding some action/explanation.
Quote from: Starrakatt"Russ, get your work done or you won't see your damn console for the next month!"
Quote from: Cavalier
Honestly Alienscar, we get it... you dont like painting!


Hello Alienscar!

First off, thanks for that. That's great, honestly a big help. I will hopefully be going through in the next few days making those changes. Some of them a duh obvious now I look - a lot were missed by the spell checker on account of being variant words, and some I skimmed over because any 40K story with made-up words generates a lot of red underlines. Some are just me being daft. Whatever the cause, much appreciated.

QuoteWhen read in isolation the Mea culpa line just seemed a bit flat compared to the remembered excitement of the previous chapters. Personally I think the chapter should start with Solomon demanding some action/explanation.

I agree and it is a point well made. I will work Solomon into the beginning when I edit it in a few days. I'll put a notice up when I've done it.

Where have I been for three and a half months? Basically, I finally secured meaningful employment. Unfortunately it was too meaningful, and after signing a EU Time-Directive opt-out, I've been doing 6-7 day weeks for up to 60 hours. Factor in housework, sleeping, and time traveling to work and I've had very little time to work on the story. I'd like to say I have more time now - as my seasonal work decreases at one of my three jobs, but unfortunately due to suspensions and sicknesses I've been bumped from part-time to full time to cover other staff absences, making the situation even worse. Christmas day has been my first full day off in about three weeks. Hopefully January should calm down as people are due to return and one of my jobs will come to an end for three months.

Anyway, I will make the changes, I promise. And I much appreciate your continued input. But until then, here is chapter 13. It posted as one, which is a happy change.

Thirteen – Rearguard

The sound of thudding followed them as they left the Cage. It was a dull, rhythmic beat that echoed down dark corridors and drifted through empty rooms. Crane chewed his bottom lip, caught himself, and straightened up from his protective hunch. His palms were sweating under his gloves. The crimson emergency lights flickered as they attempted to re-ignite. There was a dull bang and a motorized splutter.

"Tech Magi Tvastar is attempting to restore the power," whispered the Magi to his two serfs. He was trying to reassure them. Drecker was accepting, phlegmatic. Lowell looked on the brink of breakdown.

Biologis Crane had always been better with people than other members of the Order. It was a matter of faith, or at least, of belief. They believed that the more augments undertaken, the closer they became to the Divine. When a person stops believing in their own mortality and associated weaknesses and flaws, and instead moves closer to perceived perfection, the temptation is to see themselves as more than human. Transhuman, even post-human. They made peace with sacrificing their flesh by believing it made them better than they were before. Biologis Crane hadn't lost touch with his humanity. And that was why he was whispering.

He was terrified.

"We are egressing to the Generatorium where you will assist with the Litanies of Activation. Once we have primed the fuel pump, we will invoke the blessing of the Omnissiah and revive the primary generator. With power restored, Tech Magi Tvastar will be able to bring the situation under control."

"It is not under control, honoured Lord?" asked Lowell fearfully. Drecker shot him a harsh look. Crane cursed to himself.

"It is fluid," replied the Biologis, raising his voice slightly to demonstrate a confidence he did not feel. Fluid was a good word. Changing. Flux. Not dangerous. Although even that was a ecumenical issue, he mused. Some believed that any state of uncertainty was blasphemy. Did clockwork operate uncertainly? What glory was there in the cold precision of the Divine if it changed on a whim?

Barring a few notable incidents, contamination leaks, and at least one accidental core-destabilisation of an M-Class planet resulting in nine billion deaths, the potentially mutable nature of the Machine God seemed a lot safer than the multi-segmented limbs that had dismembered ten augmented soldiers. He wondered this would be his view in a little under ten hours, once the Emergency Protocol activated.

"Magos." The robotic, deadpan voice of the Fire Team leader pulled him from his reverie. They had reached the first compartmentalised section, heavy blast doors denying access to the labs and the stairwell beyond. Torch beams and suitlamps illuminated biohazard signs. Crane wondered why everyone was staring at him, before realising he was ranking Techmagister.  Only he could sanction the destruction of technology. There were rituals that must be observed.

"Blessed Omnissiah, we invoke thee," he intoned, spreading his arms across the doors, "Technolord and Primeautomaton, God Within the Machine. Heed our prayers and search our souls for pure intention. Forgive our trespass and sacrilege, for the need is dire. We commend this machine's spirit to your care and beg your clemency for our sin. In Nomine Machina Deus."

He turned to the fire team.

"It is done. May He forgive us."

The Skitari nodded gravely and turned to his second.

"Blow the door."

*   *   *

"Lord Crane is at the first obstruction," said Tvastar. "The Fire Team are preparing to initiate entry. The Machine's Spirit will be injured."

"We pray forgiveness for his blasphemy," replied Solomon, not taking his eyes off the laboratory. He had been looking directly ahead for the past twenty-seven minutes, engaged in a bizarre staring contest with an invisible predator. He had not moved, nor blinked. When the creature broke – as it would certainly do so – he would see it.

"The door is breached." Continued the Techpriest. "They are moving to the stairwell."

*   *   *

Crane ducked through the gap and stepped over the molten ruins of the blast doors, feeling the heat of the still flowing ferro-concrete on his robes. He waved away an arm of assistance from one of the Skitari pointmen and gripped his adopted pistol in both hands. Behind him, there was a glowing circle five feet in diameter where the melta charge had done its work.

Wordlessly, they set off into the half-light of the laboratories, passing sealed rooms and observation platforms. Where previously there had been the hum of dozens of terminals and brilliant quartz lighting, now was just silence and darkness. Workstations glittered dimly in the crimson glow and a low mist from the incense burners covered the floor below the knees. Not one axial cycle earlier, he had stood with the delegation in this very room, receiving the praise of his superior and basking in the awe of the uninitiated. Two of those men – Centurion Markus and Confessor Delaine were now dead.

He passed the gaping hole that previously housed the anatomic chamber for Specimen Three. The giant tank had been removed to transport the specimen to the core labs, leaving behind a mess of pipes and wires where the wall had birthed a monster. Crane shivered.

They reached the other side of the laboratory before Crane realised something was wrong. He upped his audio-implant to full, hearing the surruss of augmented lungs and the whine of tiny servo motors beneath the Skitari's leather gloves as they adjusted their grip on gently humming rifles.

"Hold," he whispered in sotto.

"Lord Crane," mouthed Drecker, "What is the problem?"

Her voice was barely above a whisper, but still the words were like a gunshot. In the stillness, Crane listened.

He heard the hum of active consoles in the distance, the hiss of gently cooling blast doors. He heard the groans of the wind rattling at the shutters, and listened to the thousand tiny noises that were constantly in the background of Forlorn. He even fancied he heard the whispers of the scientists that had gone before him, residual conversations echoing back and forth down the ages. The click of ancient keys, and the clacking grind of retired machines. Beyond that, at the very edge of his imagination, he heard the beating heart of the God Within the Machine.

Even silence had a quality, a texture – restful and constant. What Crane was searching for was not silence. It was the absence of sound.

The thudding had stopped. Satisfied, he turned the audio-sensitivity back down.

"The Specimen's are no longer attacking the Cage." He summarized. To confirm, the audio implant in his ear tickled. Ice ran down his spine.

"Techpriest," he sub-vocalised.

"Magos Biologis," replied Tvastar, "You must make haste. Operational containment systems are registering a catastrophic breakdown in the Cage."


"There is a breach." Replied the Tech Magi, then the link went dead.

Crane shot a glance at the Fire Team Leader, who inclined his head in acknowledgement. He spoke quickly in binary, rattling off orders. A Skitari broke from the group and took cover behind a clinical table covered in scalpels. Another moved to the front, switching his augmented weapon to secondary fire mode. An ignition torch glowed blue.

"We move." He said in Gothic. Crane nodded.

*   *   *

"The armourglass is three inches thick," said Quail defensively. He was waving his hands in front of him, as if hoping to ward off the stare of Prime Magos Solomon. "There is a reinforced ceramite blast shutter in place. There must be some mistake!"

Tvastar stared mutely at one of the few active control lecterns. The red light blinked incessantly, refusing to go away no matter how hard he wished it.

"There is no mistake," replied Solomon. "The Machine is infallible. Systems fail, people fail, faith fails. The Omnissiah does not."

"Perhaps the Machine's Spirit has sustained some residual damage from the overload?" the Biologis continued valiantly. "There is no way those creatures could escape the Cage under their own power."

"The system is fine." Said the Techmagi, still looking at the little light. "It was created for such a purpose."

"Prime Magos," implored the embattled scientist, "They couldn't have breached the Cage. The Specimens have tried to escape in the past. They failed. We ran diagnostics, various scenarios. Unaided they could not exert the force necessary to..."

He stopped dead.

First Quail, then Solomon, and then finally Tvastar turned to face the ruined examination lab. Somewhere inside, Specimen Three was hiding.

At least that was one hypothesis. Solomon grunted.

"Perhaps you have made other – more grievous - incorrect assumptions, Biologis Quail. It is becoming a theme, I fear. Let us hope your faith is more plentiful than your competence."

*   *   *

Skitari Two Four Six remained frozen in a hunter's crouch behind the surgical table. Beyond it, the laboratory stretched off into darkness, lit by intermittent emergency lighting. The backup generator was already struggling to cope with the demands that were placed upon it. Lord Crane must progress with due swiftness, before the Machine God's insatiable hunger consumed the remaining energy reserves.

His vision was overlaid with multiple read-outs. His bio-signs, personal locator and ammunition counter filled the left of his vision. Along the bottom ran his comm. channels, combat orientation pointer, and internal processing capacity. An auto-targetting system floated lazily across the centre of his vision. It was translucent now, and years of acclimatisation had all but erased it from his vision. In an engagement it would flare solid white, assess threats, track targets and align his rifle faster than his hated flesh. He was not a solider. Men were soldiers.

Two Four Six was a weapon.

His audio implant detected the chittering and clicking long before the Guants came into view. His bio-booster pumped combat stimulants and adrenaline into his weak husk, fortifying it for the coming fight. Muscles tensed, ready to react with whiplike speed.

The first Gaunt emerged through the blast door, hopping nimbly over the ring of scorched ceramite. The auto-targetter shone white.

It died.

*   *   *

Gunfire echoed down the corridor. Lowell cried out and froze in terror, and Drecker grabbed him solidly on the upper arm, bundling him onward, in her other hand she held the shock-prod. Before her went the pointman and his assist, blasting bursts of fire into the darkness, sending the shadows dancing crazily. The Fire Team Leader was clicking in binary, and receiving a neural response from his subordinates mind-link



The combi-flamer spat another lance of flame before them. There was another burst of gunfire. Crane gripped the pistol and tried to shove Lowell from behind, pushing him forward. Bringing up the rear, the two remaining Skitari backed after them.

Illuminated briefly, the signage on the wall indicated they were approaching the stairwell. The Biologis pushed forward.

*   *   *

His vision was awash with data.

"Contact: Six

Range: Twenty-Five Metres. Closing.

Fatalities: Two.

Operationals Remaining: Four.

Ammunition: 567."

Two Four Six's auto-targetter swung as the remaining Gaunts piled into the laboratory, crushing their dead underfoot. They immediately spread out and sought cover. His arms moved to compensate, before the screen flashed red.

"Hazard: Operational Machinary // Violation: Directive Four."

Directive Four!

No Damage May Be Inflicted On the Realm of the Omnissiah Without Due Authorization From Constituted Member of the Priesthood of Mars

The Hellgun jammed. It would not fire so long as he risked hitting the terminals and processors that littered the laboratory. He unplugged it from his suit and laid it on the surgical table before rising to his full height.

The Gaunts moved like wraiths through the rolling clouds of incense. Even without their scything talons, they were dangerous. The claws and spurs on their feet clicked across the glass, echoing round the room. One uttered a low, sibilant hiss as it darted between machinery. Saliva drooled from yellowing teeth, besmirching the floor of His most Hallowed Shirne. Their mere presence in this sanctum was a foul violation of his sacred duty.

Range: Fourteen Metres – Closing.

They swam like alligators through the mist, heads bobbing and tails swinging behind them. Two Four Six boosted his combat drugs. A blade slid from his left wrist, while the fingers of his right hand spread impossibly wide, turning it into a great augmetic shovel. He was not unarmed.

He was Skitari.

Range: Eight Metres – Closing.

He was a weapon.

The first leapt with a screech and was impaled on the mono-serrated combat blade. The force of the creature's impact almost bowled him over, but servo motors in his legs compensated. The second was knocked flying by an augmented blow from his right hand, scattering the table and falling into a stunned heap.

The third landed on his back.

The fourth knocked him to the floor.

*   *   *

They reached the stairwell when the mind impulse link cut out. The remaining Skitari said nothing. A trooper wordlessly moved to rearguard and they descended into darkness.

No sooner had boots rang on the steel steps and the light faded almost from view did an inhuman scream echo through the empty passages. The party froze, the soldiers uncertain and the civilians huddled in primordial terror.

"Quail... Magos Biologis..." Whispered Crane. "Specimen Three is confirmed in the Control Labs, copy?"

The silence endured for torturous heartbeats. Then there was another scream.

It was closer. It drowned out the first part of Biologis Quail's response.

"... attempting to ascertain."

"Say again?" said Crane, shifting his grip on the pistol.


The link went dead.


Hi Sheepz, glad to see you are still posting, best Christmas present I had this Year. I was beginning to worry that I would never get to see the end of this story.

I have said it more than once already but your character writing is brilliant. In the few short sentences about Two Four Six you have created a really credible character. I sincerely hope that you haven't killed him off and that the cut-out of the mind link is just ruse.

Due to time constraints I haven't read the story from the start again so this feedback will be about Chapter 13 in its own right. Sorry if that does it an injustice.

For me the Chapter is split into two halves. The first 8 paragraphs seem a bit stilted and off pace almost as if you are warming up before you get into the story again. As is usual for me I put this pacing issue down to sentence construction, missing words and the like. I don't want to get into the use of verbs, subjects, objects and related items so I will just offer some thoughts and you can tell me if I am wrong.

"The thudding followed..." would read better as "The thudding sound followed..." or "The sound of thudding followed..." Two verbs (thudding and followed) don't work without a noun.

The plural "lights" shouldn't be used with the singular "it".

Also I think the chapter is slowed down by some of the words that you have used. For me the words "egressing", "ecumenical" and "mused" really slow the pace of the chapter and I feel the chapter might benefit from the use of livelier words.

Everything after the 8th paragraph is brilliant. Tense, exciting & well written.

PS: please don't kill off 246 just yet.
Quote from: Starrakatt"Russ, get your work done or you won't see your damn console for the next month!"
Quote from: Cavalier
Honestly Alienscar, we get it... you dont like painting!


Hey everyone/anyone,

First off, sorry - over a month and no new posting. That's fairly bad especially considering the next part was already written.

Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement.

Quote from: Alienscar on January  6, 2014, 05:31:22 AM
For me the Chapter is split into two halves. The first 8 paragraphs seem a bit stilted and off pace almost as if you are warming up before you get into the story again.

The most likely case.

Quote"The thudding followed..." would read better as "The thudding sound followed..." or "The sound of thudding followed..." Two verbs (thudding and followed) don't work without a noun.

I agree. I have changed it

QuoteThe plural "lights" shouldn't be used with the singular "it".

D'oh, how'd I miss that?

QuoteAlso I think the chapter is slowed down by some of the words that you have used. For me the words "egressing", "ecumenical" and "mused" really slow the pace of the chapter and I feel the chapter might benefit from the use of livelier words.

Quite possibly. I'll have a think about it certainly for the second draft. At the moment I believe I was attempting to capture the more grandiose wording of the Cult Mechanicus, but you're probably right, you have a good eye for it.

I've also scanned the document with find and replaced all words for 'hanger' with 'hangar', another embarrassment on my part. I've also put in the two corrections you spotted in chapter thirteen.


Fourteen – Generatorium

The voice was angry and demanding. Tuned out of individual channels, it echoed round the control room, circumventing the lockout and projecting noisily from the speakers. Captain Fraiser was nothing if not resourceful.

"What's going on Quail?"

"I assure you, Captain," replied the Biologis calmly, "Everything is fully under control."

"Bullamphetamine parrot," spat Fraiser into his commbead, "That was gunfire."

The Brigadier paced behind him, pistol out. The Honour Guard were on their feet, visors down and guns ready. Borsch and Quinn huddled together, the fat man managing to huddle enough for the both of them.

"The Skitari are engaging hostile elements. It is nothing that cannot..."

"I'm coming to Control," Marlowe cut in.


"This room is not secure, Magos Biologis," she countered with a voice that could cut steel. "I am moving the civilian's to Control for their security."

There was a pause.

"Move to medical, it is secure. There are soldiers."

"If you think you can lock me in a med-bay with a handful of grunts and a warp-tapped stripper, then you are mad. We are enroute, Marlowe out."

She cut the link. She would not be relegated to a hospital, she would be in the thick of it, like a Brigadier should be. Who did Quail think he was?

Borsch cleared his throat.

"I don't think she's actually a..."

"Under the circumstances, Bank-Clerk, I advise you consider your position very carefully."

The bureaucratic part of Borsch's brain did a swift risk assessment, and his mouth lapsed into silence. The PDF Officer turned to Fraiser.


He glanced up from some blueprints that Thorn and the men were gathered round and cleared his throat diplomatically.

"A sound judgement, Brigadier. We shall join you presently."

*   *   *

Crane suppressed a flinch as another bestial screech echoed down the passage.

"Egress to Generatorium," instructed the Fire Team Leader to the pointman. "What is your Primary Operational Directive?"

"Protect the Magos." Replied the other.

"We shall provide rearguard," continued his commander, turning to Crane and indicating the Skitari beside him. "Make haste."

As fast as caution allowed, the party began to move again. They advanced at what could be best described as a quick shuffle, which is a recognised military tactic when you group uncertain people together in a confined space and a hostile environment. They had just reached ground level when there was an almighty crash, some sporadic gunfire, and predictably, a bloodcurdling scream. Against his better judgement, Crane risked a glance up the twisting stairwell and into the shifting, strobing darkness.

The Fire Team Leader – alone now – was double timing it backwards down the stairs. He raised his augmented hellgun and fired sporadically in the direction from whence he came. As he bounded down the stairs, Crane glimpsed shapes moving after him. There were shadows of monsters on the wall.

As he rounded the second to last set of stairs, the Fire Team Leader briefly caught sight of the Magos, staring wide eyed at the bottom. He said nothing, but instead angled his rifle directly upward toward the ceiling. There was a whump as it released a rocket-propelled grenade that shrieked up into the darkness and detonated with a roar. The biologis took in the shapes moving down the stairs, and thought the direction of fire to be very strange indeed. It was certainly inaccurate, and even that was being generous.

The Tyranids didn't move so much as flowed. They travelled as if things that were in the way were merely another type of terrain. He'd seen the pict-casts from Herculaneum, specifically General Varn's Last Stand at Coal Creek. The Guardsmen had tried to 'circle the wagons' with their tanks, but the swarm had just gone over them, climbing over the armour as if it wasn't there. They scrambled up the hulls, ignoring the bolter shells that tore into them at point blank range before leaping into the nest of horrified troopers behind. On the pict record he had watched his interest had been dispassionate and academic. In real life it was terrifying.

Right now they were flowing down the stairs, as much as it was possible to flow with just three of them. Nevertheless, the effect was somewhat hypnotic. Drecker tugged at his arm, but she was still propping up Lowell and Crane barely noticed. One of the two remaining Skitari hurried back to assist. The Fire Team Leader rounded the corner and was on the last set of descending stairs. He waved at Crane to run, clicking in binary. There was no time to articulate in Imperial Gothic. It was his second language.

One gaunt cleared the railings and landed in front of the squad leader as the other two rounded the corner behind him. He blasted it with his hellgun, taking it apart. The second leapt, landing on his back and the two went crashing down the remaining stairs. Snapped from his trance, Crane darted back as the tangle of limbs and augmentics struggled on the floor. The Skitari somehow came out on top and managed to get a combat knife into the creature's stomach as the amputated stumps of it's arms battered him pointlessly. In defiance, it screamed and bit deep into his shoulder, writhing as he jerked the knife around it it's innards.

No sooner had it gone still than the last one flew down the stairs, knocking him face down and biting an importantly large chunk out of the back of his head. Circuitry fizzled and the light in his eyes died. The speckled markings on the creature's crest indicated it was Specimen Six. In the Cage it was docile, but in the open, it was so fast. So powerful.

Crane blinked, and then it was on him.

He raised the pistol sluggishly.

*   *   *

Marlowe crashed into Control, pistol in one hand and dragging Borsch with the other.

"Emperor – damn it! What the Hell is going on down there?!"

"Three of the Skitari are terminated," sighed Quail. "We don't know what else. It's a mess."

The vox link was a confused nightmare of screaming, shouting and gunfire. There was the roar of a bolt pistol being fired with some degree of enthusiasm.

"Biologis Crane report," said Solomon for the fifth time. "Magos, update!"

*   *   *

Fire blasted backward down the corridor, illuminating the near frantic face of Three Zero Five. The Skitari squeezed the ignition again. The man next to him was firing controlled bursts from his hellgun into the darkness. The flickering onrush of light and the cloying, consuming darkness played havoc with the eyes. Dreker was on point with a shock-prod, Lowell and Crane following, not daring to glance back.

Behind them was a monster.

He'd killed the guant, tore it to pieces in a mad spray of bolter shells, the casings littering the corridor behind them. Then he'd seen it, three floors up. A shadow. An immense shadow with a barbed tail that moved faster than anything that big had any right to.

Emperor's mercy, it wasn't even on the stairs.

It was crawling down the wall

*   *   *

"It's not in the Lab!" Wailed Crane.

"Say again Biologis?" asked Solomon with what he thought to be great patience. Everyone was clustered around the tiny transmitter that Tvastar had put on the desk. That meant that by extension they were clustered around the Prime Magos. The intrusion was most unwelcome. Solomon did not hold with the concept of personal space, but was a firm believer in 'utter solitude'.

"Specimen Three is coming down the corridor!" screamed a man who's voice promised at best a sore throat, and at worst a mental breakdown.

"You are positive?" asked Quail.


*   *   *

"Hold it off!" Yelled the Biologis as they reached the Generatorium door.

He grabbed the recessed handle and tugged frantically. It didn't budge. Drecker wordlessly thrust the shock-prod into Lowell's unresisting arms and grabbed hold with Crane. They inched it open. The hellgun armed Skitari – Seven Two Two – joined the struggle and the door began to slide.

Back in the corridor Three Zero Five was firing the hellgun part of his combi-weapon  down the passage. The flamer tank was running dangerously low. His target lock was dancing wildly between all four available surfaces – walls, ceiling and floor. Every burst illumined the creature's progress as it bounded toward them. The proximity warning for five meters cut in, and he squeezed the ignition for his flamer.

There was a brief impression of a terrible monster before him, screaming in pain as the flames consumed it. The beast knocked his legs out from under him, and Three Zero Five toppled sideways, holding down the trigger. The proximity meter read ten, then fifteen meters as it retreated. He tried to haul himself up, only to notice that he had been cut in half at the waist, entrails and biomechanical organs spilling from his ruined abdomen. Blood mixed with oil on the floor.

As the door rolled open, Crane saw the stricken trooper lying in bits in the corridor. Drecker pushed him inside, dragging Lowell with them. Seven Two Two followed suit, and together they slammed the door back into place. There was barely any time to breathe.

"Adept Lowell, the candles," said the Magos, shaking the man out of his stupor, "And the Litanies of Activation. Be quick!"

Drecker was halfway down the lab, next to the auxiliary generator. She was frantically pumping the ignition primer handle to generate the charge necessary for reactivation. Lowell sped round lighting the scared oils and candles and making devotions.

"Fifty percent primed," grunted Drecker as she heaved the lever back and forth, her voice carrying over the babbling of Lowell, who had run out of things to set fire to and now looked worried and confused. There was a thump on the door. The remaining Skitari backed away, hellgun raised. Crane grabbed the discarded shock prod. He had – foolishly and with limited success – fired the entire magazine from the bolt pistol, which was now deposited in his robes.

"Be wary, my Lord, I have enhanced the voltage."

Crane eyed the shock-prod suspiciously as he backed towards the generator. Drecker, should she not be horribly dismembered in the next few seconds, would definitely make a fine Magi.

The door shook again, then again as the beast hammered on it. There was a dull thump and a splutter of machinery coming to life.

"Seventy Five Percent."

"Lowell, start the activation." Called the Magos, "Now, if you please!"

"Report situation?" asked Solomon. Crane ignored him.

"Charged." Yelled Drecker, hurrying to join Lowell at a set of switches.

The door had gone silent. The last Skitari shifted his gun slightly in his grip, leather gloves creaking. Without looking, Crane fumbled behind him for a row of fuses, flicking them up as he murmured the appropriate devotions under his breath. He stumbled through a few verses, and hoped the Omnissiah would settle for the gist of it.

The door caved inwards, impaled on two giant scything talons. Crane's hand flew down to the activation button and hammered it. The Skitari opened fire as the metal was peeled apart like a tin can.

There was a whir, a crackle and then a thump. It was the grandest orchestral piece Crane had ever heard. With a crack, the lights came on one by one, following the surge of energy. Terminals burst into action and the entire facility groaned as it clawed back it's precious lifeforce.

The ruined metal door was flung aside. Specimen Three, revealed in its true horror in the recently resurrected quartz light, screamed a primal challenge. It was crouched to fit under the eight foot doorway, which now resembled a portal to Hell.

Crane swallowed hard.

Then came the explosion. Seven Two Two was thrown off his feet. The beast screamed, turned and vanished down the corridor. Secondary gunfire zipped past the opening. The sound of boots moving at double time echoed into the room. A familiar face backed up by five heavily armed grenadiers rounded the doorframe.

"Captain Fraiser!" breathed the Biologis, simply failing to care how or why this had transpired.

"Biologis," replied the Guardsman as his men took up positions in the intersection.

"What was happened? What was that?"

"Krak grenade from the launcher. Not standard kit for an Honour Guard, but still..."

By 'standard kit', Captain Fraiser actually meant 'accepted uniform'. It took him exactly one command before he discovered that 'standard kit' was woefully inadequate and should be replaced with 'whatever gets the job done'. Thorn himself had insisted on this particular arrangement, because a man portable anti-tank rifle can solve problems that a smart uniform cannot.

He trailed off, glancing at Crane's shock prod.

"Nice stick."


Wow, just wow. I'm lost for words really Sheepz that Chapter has left me breathless. The pace and mood were relentless right from the start and you didn't let up or miss a character nuance all the way through. The ending especially is just brilliantly fitting to what has gone before. Whilst I might have some minor quibbles this time I'm ignoring them.

PS: Don't forget about 246.
Quote from: Starrakatt"Russ, get your work done or you won't see your damn console for the next month!"
Quote from: Cavalier
Honestly Alienscar, we get it... you dont like painting!


Oh man oh man.

I realize I'm a little late to the party but this is excellent, even more so as I tend to be quite anti-emperor in every way. The most recent chapters in particular have been gripping and I can't wait to read more, if there is more that is.

I'm hoping to see a little more of our lovely 'warp-tapped stripper', she was genuinely my favorite despite having played only a minor role thus far.

Well done
Thanx - Fasor'ith

92% of teens have moved on to rap. If you are part of the 8% who still listen to real music, copy and paste this into your signature


First off, sorry for the lack of updates.

I've been absolutely swamped at work and sorting the house out, and while I have found time to do some writing, I'm not too happy with the chapter I'm hammering out as it has to drop the pace quite a lot in favour of some more talking. I'm working on it, and will probably post it up soon, but it has me scratching my head so maybe when it's up some blunt and honest feedback will give me a better angle of attack.

Second, thanks for all your encouragement. I've been writing this for the best part of three years now which is far too long. I've had a lot of stuff to deal with and have been writing other things, but I'm sorry about the wait. A lot of the later chapters are written and now it's a case of making the two halves of the story link up.

Thanks again. Check back in a week or so.


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