An enemy revealed (a very short story)

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An enemy revealed (a very short story)

Postby Ragar » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:07 pm

Hello all. I was led to this forum by one of the BL writers and promptly joined. I am Dutch, so please bear in mind that my English might not be as good as that of the native speakers. I have been writing short stories on and off for a couple of years now, both in my own language and in English. Most of these are not set in any known universe and they vary from sci-fi to fantasy or regular fiction. I have entered some in local competitions, but I have never submitted anything for publication (yet).

A week ago my wife dared me to see what short story I could come up with in only 1 1/2 hour, based in the 40K setting. Here is the result.


An enemy revealed

Kareem looked to his left. The robes around the faces of his fellow soldiers showed only the eyes, but in them he could see the determination commonly found in his people. The will to live on and grasp every shred of hope to do so. It made them strong and inventive. The Imperium of Mankind acknowledged this and the sluggish Departemento depolyed them in the harshest environments. Desert planets, arid and hot, were like home to Kareem and his kin. They could withstand these environments for far longer than other humans. Not only that, they could perform their duty as needed.

Adama III was one such planet. A ball of dust all but bereft of life. Small communities were scattered throughout the deserts, all of them there for one purpose; the rich deposits of ore that could be found buried deep within the planets crust. Deposits so pure the Mechanicum would go to war for them. Which it did.

When the people of Adama III refused a scheduled bulk lander to enter lower orbit, operatives on board had requested an explanation. The answer had been plain and simple. The Mechanicum would no longer profit from their labour. Another buyer had presented himself. One with a far better offer and the power to defy the Imperium when needed.

This was why Kareem and his fellows were now making their way to the rendevouz point near one of the mining facilities. Once there they would meet up with other contigents of the army and begin the first preparations for the attack. The road had been long and hot. Long enough for hem to speculate about their adversaries. Hot enough for them to nearly deplete the meager water rations they had been given. Nevertheless, onwards they went. The Mechanicum was prepared to go to war, but the Imperial Guard was their weapon.

Dust clouds obscured their view in many directions. To the east higher dunes led to one of the few mountain ranges of this world where Kareem could see the faint outlines of Mukaali riders, the massive beasts plowing forward at a sluggish pace. The column of artillery to the west added more dust to the air and it’s presence could only be determined by the low rumbling sound that accompanied it.

Not for the first time Kareem started to wonder who would have the audacity to provoke the might of the Imperium. Orbital scans had revealed no armed forces on the planet’s surface, nor had they encountered any vessels or fleet in the system. Could it be that the population had tried to bluff their way out of the grip of the Techpriests? A foolish notion since they should know the retaliation would come. They were well aware of the value of their product, enough so that they would bargain with it. Surely they would be aware the cult of Mars would go to great lenghts to secure this precious commodity. There had to be another explanation. Armies could be hidden. Perhaps the planet was riddled with tunnels, connecting large subterranean communities or shelters. Tallarn was not the only planet where survival had forced the population below ground.

His thoughts led Kareem home. It made him pleasantly unaware of his surroundings and the numbness of his feet. Thirst became nothing but a faint discomfort. His state of mind made him able to march onwards through the stingings swirls of dust. It made him numb in all senses.

It was therefore that when the first warning came Kareem was not able to respond to it, or even register it for what it was. He felt a slight uneasiness creep into the back of his mind. A thought gently forced itself into his daydream. Gradually it formed itself into words, at first like a silent whisper. Then they slowly rose in power and meaning. A phrase formed, repeated over and over again. The feeling accompanying the words became unbearable and when Kareem finally snapped back to reality he caught himself murmering. ‘All is dust.’

He became aware of his comrades around him, most of them gripping their lasguns tight and anxiously scanning the dust clouds. Others were still walking forwards, seemingly oblivious to the discomfort in the ranks, absently murmering the same words Kareem had uttered only moments before.

He saw a sudden flash of blue in the dust ahead, the outline of a massive warrior.

It appeared they were about to find out who would oppose the might of the Imperium.
Ragar
 
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Re: An enemy revealed (a very short story)

Postby Squiggle » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:12 pm

Hi Ragar.

Well this is pretty good for a quick story you wrote in such a short time!!

I appreciate that English is not your native tongue - which might explain a couple of oddities which you could improve upon.

Kareem looked to his left. The robes around the faces of his fellow soldiers showed only the eyes, but in them he could see the determination commonly found in his people. The will to live on and grasp every shred of hope to do so. It made them strong and inventive. The Imperium of Mankind acknowledged this and the sluggish Departemento depolyed them in the harshest environments. Desert planets, arid and hot, were like home to Kareem and his kin. They could withstand these environments for far longer than other humans. Not only that, they could perform their duty as needed.

Adama III was one such planet. A ball of dust all but bereft of life. Small communities were scattered throughout the deserts, all of them there for one purpose; the rich deposits of ore that could be found buried deep within the planets crust. Deposits so pure the Mechanicum would go to war for them. Which it did.


For the opening lines of the story, there is a lot of description here. You might find it more gripping for the reader if you try and weave the description into the action sequences. Too much description straight at the start of a story can be off-putting for a reader. This is why I think in many novels they have an action-packed prologue and then follow it up with some slower paced chapters to fill in the gaps. This is harder to do in a short story with limited word count.

MY other comment would be the sentence

The robes around the faces of his fellow soldiers showed only the eyes, but in them he could see the determination commonly found in his people.


This is just, in my opinion, somewhat clumsily worded. Perhaps...

Kareem glanced to his left, and was comforted by the reassuring presence of his squad-mates. They wore thick cowls against the pervading-dust. All he could see were their eyes - and he saw his own determination reflected there. Thraxus was a tough planet, and his comrades had to be strong, determined and inventive to survive there - and these characteristics made them ideal soldiers of the Imperium.

This is just my take on it, by the way,

Either way this is an interesting vignette - do you have any plans to flesh it out into a longer story?
If my mind's the weapon, my heart's the extra clip

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Re: An enemy revealed (a very short story)

Postby Ragar » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:49 am

Hi Squiggle,

Thanks for the feedback, this is very helpful indeed.

I have no idea if, or when I will be fleshing it out to a longer story. I think it would all depend on the simple fact that I need to find a nice plot to make it an interesting story to read. Any thoughts on that? :)
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Re: An enemy revealed (a very short story)

Postby Squiggle » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:37 am

Hi Ragar,

From what I have read here, you already have a nice plot.

The planet is attempting to separate from the Imperium owing to an unseen influence. The Imperium have sent a military force to ensure that the situation is under control.

I imagine that Kareem and his expeditionary force comrades are about to meet an untimely fate in the swirling dust of the desert, with no survivors. SO what happens next?

Do the Imperium dispatch a bigger, and stronger force to make sure that the planet is swiftly back under the yoke of Imperial control.

Or do they take a more subtle angel? Perhaps there is a whisper on the warp of the insidious hand of chaos being present, and maybe the Inquisition might send a small, stealthy force to route out the cause of the insurrection?

So, you've a few options there!!! ;)
If my mind's the weapon, my heart's the extra clip

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Re: An enemy revealed (a very short story)

Postby Ragar » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:54 pm

I just do not want it to be too much like the story in the FW book with the Tallarn and the Tau. So any intervention with Space Marines is a bit out of the question I think. Although in the FW book it is actually the other way round (the Marines come in first and the Guard are sent in to finish the job).

There must be something on the planet that attracted the Thousand Sons there. The source for their presence should be solid as well. I dislike the idea of another fancifull artifact that drew their attention, that has been written before and undoubtetly much better than I will ever be able to. :) So the presence of a cabal or human sorcerer might be an intersting angle to explore.

I also am inclined to let Kareem and perhaps some of his fellow guardsmen survive this first skirmish. Perhaps he would be the person telling the rest of the story, from his perspective. It would give the story a 'hero' we can follow.

I also like your idea of some interference from the Inquisition or perhaps some Assassins. This might prove to make the plot a bit more intricate. In theory thesy might have the same objectives as the guardsmen, but that might not always be seen as such.

All in all, this conversation has got some wheels in my head turning again.... perhaps... perhapssssss....
Ragar
 
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Re: An enemy revealed (a very short story)

Postby Squiggle » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:05 pm

well you dont need to involve space marines at all. the imperial guard and mechanicus have plenty of weapons at their disposal.

i take your point re artefacts.

and as for the inquisition, they dont even have to be there for the chaos. they could be following up a different line of enquiry...

how comes Kareem survived when so many were killed? why are the thousands son there? does he have latent psychic potential...

so many options, my friend.
If my mind's the weapon, my heart's the extra clip

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