Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

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

Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

Postby kurisawa » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:37 am

Please note this story is based on the "Extraction" mission from the Deathwatch RPG and as such borrows names, locations, and descriptions. I am practicing the short story format and this seemed a good inspiration to start from.



BLACK SHIELDS: EXTRACTION



I once witnessed a lyzarswan fight so desperately for her life. The jaws of a crotalid had snapped shut on her leg, yet with frantic flapping of her wings she was able to break free, ripping her own fragile limb away from her body. The predator went hungry, but she would evermore be incomplete.

If this is it; if this is how we propose to extract humanity from this doom, then I fear for how much of our…
humanity… we must sacrifice into the bargain.

- Inquisitor Zharn at the Conclave of Pho.


TANTALUS WAS DYING. A noxious maelstrom engulfed the planet, spreading like a cancer from its equator. An apocalyptic plague of billions of organisms, vast on a continental scale, the seething xenos swarm devoured everything in its path. Only the polar regions remained, retreating patches of icy pearl defiantly insisting on the planet’s natural hue.

Like a hammer hurled from the grey heavens by a furious god, the drop pod punched through the bloated clouds of Tantalus’s upper atmosphere. Hurtling down on wings of fire, its ceramite armour blistering, the blazing pod speared straight for the industrial facility designated Pyroclast-Gamma-9.

‘Impact minus twenty,’ the monotone servo-voice announced over the thunderous roar of the descent. Brother Markius clenched his teeth and gripped the arms of the grav-seat. G-forces clutched his body and threatened to tear it apart with invisible claws. Such traumas were lethal to any mortal human; but the riders aboard this plummeting comet were Adeptus Astartes. From across the cramped interior of the vessel, he heard Brother Rasmus growling with laughter.

Retro-jets ignited, the reverse thrust hammering into the five passengers like a dreadnought’s powerfist. Moments later the pod smashed into the bleak tundra, a geyser of polluted earth exploding skywards with its impact. Markius grunted. The retro-thrusters had fired precisely on time. They had survived the trial of fire.

The pod doors blasted open, smoking ceramite petals unleashing the deadly seeds cocooned within. Brother Markius clicked his harness and sprang forth onto Planet Tantalus. Chemical-thick mud squelched underfoot as Markius strode his first steps, his onyx-black power armour humming and auto senses tracking.

Markius scanned his quadrant. Jagged spars of granite and tumbledown crags disfigured the sub-arctic tundra, as bleak as the harsh skies glowering down from above. The icy air was thick with the stench of burning chemicals, and a whiff of human blood. Drifts of black smoke ghosted across the coarse landscape, but no hint of the enemy, yet.

‘Clear,’ Markius voxed.

‘Clear,’ came Brother Goran’s lupine voice in the vox-bead in his ear.

‘Clear,’ Brother Rasmus voxed.

‘Cloudy,’ voxed Brother Borias.

Markius grimaced. ‘Knock it off, Borias.’

‘I’m not fraggin’ around! Look at this.’

The black-armoured Astartes gathered at Borias’s corner of the smoking pod’s crater and gazed southwards. A roiling, purple-black cloud swallowed the horizon, shot through with cankerous veins of yellow. The hiss of billions of voracious nightmares drifted on the bitterly cold air. Markius narrowed his eyes. This is what a dying planet looked like, slowly devoured by an extragalactic multitude.

He checked his chronometer, mounted on his left vambrace. The left arm of his power armour, alone amongst the black-painted ceramite, was electroplated in chrome: The colours of the Deathwatch.

‘Five hours since the distress signal; that leaves us an estimated three hours to recover the datacore before the swarm reaches. Let’s find that Magos.’

‘May I suggest our first avenue of inquiry to be this way?’ said Brother-Apothecary Sören, belatedly completing the group. The handsome, golden-haired warrior-physician gestured westwards and Markius spied a blackened scar gouged out of the earth. The marines loped towards the crash site, long strides consuming the distance. The Magos’s ship had plunged within the precincts of a promethium refining facility and brutal square-sided buildings and infrastructure jutted from the landscape, chained together by strings of failing lumen globes and nests of industrial pipes. Markius’s ceramite boots crunched onto metal grillwork panels, sunk for better footing in the chemical sludge that had been churned up by the passage of gigantic eight-wheeled engines. The Deathwatch marines soon reached their objective.

The broken body of a Kestrel-class interplanetary lighter lay shattered in the smoking trench it had scoured from the earth with its crash landing, its exhausts gushing and its armour plating torn apart like parchment. Despite the ruin of the spearhead-shaped craft, Markius concluded that the reactor had not ruptured, or he would instead be looking at nothing more than a glowing crater.

‘We take a look; beware vanguard organisms,’ Markius said, and the marines approached with weapons raised. Brother Goran was first to the rear of the armoured prow, the doors hanging open where explosive emergency bolts had been loosed. Goran grabbed one of the doors in his bionic powerfist and wrenched it from its mounting.

‘Someone walked away, then,’ he said, green eyes flashing as he scanned the inside of the wreck then the banks of scorched earth ramped up by the crash.

Amongst the catastrophe of the interior, the marines discovered the corpses of several crewmen, abandoned where they had died. Servitors, shredded and pulverized, populated the macabre wreck. There was no sign of the Magos.

‘What do you think of this, eh?’ said Brother Rasmus, peering at the vox array in the central control module. The bulky marine’s oblong face wrinkled as he frowned, right up to the grey stubble of his balding pate. The wrecked fuselage had twisted so that its wall had become its floor. Rasmus braced his hulking frame with his bionic leg propped against the former ceiling.

‘That rig has been repurposed post-crash,’ said Brother Sören, clambering into the module, ‘with the rites of extreme unction of the Cult Mechanicus.’

Markius raised his eyebrows at Sören. So did the others.

‘Not that I am trained as a techmarine, but I would suppose that this is the source of the Magos’s last emergency transmission,’ said the statuesque Apothecary, shrugging.

‘Well, he’s not here now,’ Goran snarled like a snow wolf, and the marines departed. Outside, Markius peered at the sprawling complex of Pyroclast-Gamma-9. Harsh ferrocrete bunkers stamped with Departmento Munitorum code runes and slogans admonishing the facility’s convict labourers were interspersed with looming iron-black engines and rusting pipework.

‘Throne. He could be anywhere,’ Markius said.

‘Over here!’ Brother Borias called from amongst a nest of sharp-edged shards of rock, and the other marines dashed over. There they witnessed another damaged servitor, but this was a combat android, and its bisected body still sparked and juddered. Two eviscerated navy crewmen, still clutching lasguns, lay in stale pools of their own blood.

‘This is what they look like, eh?’ said Rasmus, unusually quietly. Markius stepped up next to the big Astartes. The carcasses of two of the xenos life-forms leered at the marines – vanguard organisms, just one genus of this hideous alien race, designated hormagaunts in Markius’s engram patches.

‘Oho, pretty fraggers these tyranids, aren’t they?’ said Borias, but the wicked smile was absent from his aquiline face. Borias scratched at his bullet-smooth head, and Markius realised his own skin was crawling, too. He instinctively scanned their surroundings one more time, just in case there were any more of them lurking nearby. Tyranids, the Ordo Xenos had titled these extragalactic nightmares.

Soulless eyes, opaque and blank like those of a titanshark, peered from the grotesque skulls of the hormagaunts, and rows of needle teeth still glistened with arterial gore within grimacing maws. The hunched bodies, ribbed with exo-skeletons of chitinous armour, reminded Markius of ocean crustaceans grown to the size of men. One of the three pairs of claws of each specimen were elongated into razor-edged talons as long as sabres, which looked easily capable of bisecting a servitor, or ripping through navy flak armour jackets like a thermo-dagger through parchment.

‘Brother Markius, we have blood,’ said Sören, hunched over a spar of granite, runes illuminated on his vambrace-mounted medical equipment. Markius joined him and peered at the splashes of oily fluid.

‘I surmise that our Magos is injured, but not dead,’ said Sören, cupping his chiseled chin.

‘Oho! Thank you, Brother Scholar,’ said Borias, hefting the heavy bolter onto his shoulder. Goran nodded and chimed in with his sardonic tone, too, ‘If there’s blood of course he’s injured, and if he’s not here, then he must have moved away, and therefore not be dead!’

‘The point is,’ said Sören, with laudable serenity, ‘this substance shows traces of elite Mechanicus augmentation and self-healing protocols. His injury may be severe, but not fatal.’

‘But we still don’t know where he damned well is,’ muttered Markius, checking his chronometer again. He scanned the bleak landscape once more. The twilight was fading into night, fast. Markius paused.

‘What was that?’


* * *



‘THAT WAS LASRIFLES,’ said Brother Goran, jade eyes glinting. Old bio-acid scars stood out against the fuzz of hair covering his scalp, ridged gouges carved through the black hair.

The Kill-team stalked towards the lip of a broad ravine that fell away into the earth – a deep scar of open-cast mining in the tundra. Sounds shivered in the air; inhuman roars and the distinctive crack of lasfire.

Markius frowned at big Rasmus, stomping along beside him with his bionic leg. The south-west had been Rasmus’s sector to check after drop-pod impact.

Clear?

‘Sorry,’ mumbled Rasmus, ‘this ear’s not been the same since Beta Coplin, eh?’

‘I keep telling you to see me about it,’ said Apothecary Sören.

Rasmus grimaced. ‘Every time I see you, Scholar, I come out with another augmetic, eh? I’m gonna be more machine than a Throne-damned tech-priest at this rate!’

‘Quiet,’ said Brother Goran, boltpistol drawn.

The marines took cover on the slope of a nearby escarpment and peered down into the ravine. There, sheltering around the overturned wreck of an eight-wheeled cargo-hauler, a ragged squad of Imperial guardsmen hunkered down into firing positions. More bodies of soldiers littered the ravine, and amongst them the mangled remains of bat-winged monsters bigger than men, with scythe-like claws that were drenched in blood. Markius recognised the creatures as scout-organisms, designated shrikes in his engram patch.

Standing stark amongst the guardsmen, the tall silhouette of an Imperial commissar bellowed orders at the soldiers, his long black coat tattered and bloodstained. Betraying no concern for his own safety, the young officer shouted to his charges, ‘Stand firm and die for the Emperor’s glory!’

Markius instantly liked him. Beyond the guardsmen, on the far side of the ravine, movements rippled through the rocks as a swarm of tyranid monsters mustered for another attack.

‘Borias,’ whispered Markius. ‘Set up the one-oh here. Rasmus, Scholar, Goran; with me.’

Goran grabbed his arm, green eyes dangerous. ‘What are you doing?’

‘They need our help.’

‘This is not our mission!’

Markius exhaled. ‘They are going to die unless we do something.’

‘Look around you, Team Leader Markius. The whole planet is dying.’

‘You want to just leave them?’

‘Look, we have to find the Magos. If anything those grunts will occupy the xenos long enough to make our search easier. Let them earn their glory for the Emperor that way.’

The wave of chittering hormagaunts scuttled with preternatural speed across the floor of the ravine, rippling around and over boulders. Something big shifted in the shadows beyond them. The guardsmen responded with disciplined volleys of lasfire, directed by the commissar. Tyranid beasts died with nerve-jangling shrieks, smoking holes punched into their elongated heads. But those few that fell were ignored by their brethren, who surged and leapt over the fallen corpses. Markius could see the efforts of the guardsmen, while brave, would not be enough to halt the tide, and the larger thing still skulked out of sight. Neither side had yet noticed the marines.

Markius sneered at Goran. ‘Where is your honour? They have survived this nightmare so far; they are worth saving. And perhaps they know where the Magos is.’

‘Ahem, Brother Markius,’ said Sören.

‘Not now.’

‘T.L. Markius, this is urgent…’

Goran and Markius rounded on Sören and said in unison, ‘What?’

‘I believe Brother Rasmus has rather forced the issue… Look!’

‘Throne!’

Rasmus skidded down the steep side of the ravine, trailing a small avalanche of shale and dirt. Reaching the foot of the slope, he hefted his power-axe from its shoulder harness and activated the blade. The weighty wedge crackled into life, wreathed in a corona of electric energy. Rasmus charged, bellowing like an enraged ice bear, power-axe cleaving great circles above his head.

‘Brother Borias; covering fire!’ yelled Markius.

He leapt onto the plunging slope of the ravine side to begin his own sliding descent. Brother Sören followed, taking a route to Markius’s flank. And so too did Goran, thankfully putting aside his doubts in the adrenalin-fuelled rush of combat.

Brother Borias’s heavy bolter thundered its drumbeat, thump thump thump, and a fusillade of mass-reactive missiles screamed low over their heads, spearing down into the ravine. The heels of his ceramite boots gouging tracks from the side of the ravine, Markius swung round his bolter and thumbed the fire-selector control. Designating metal storm rounds, Markius opened fire while he slid. Brother Sören’s bolter also struck up the rhythm. Their blessed weapons disgorged righteous fury and the bolts exploded amongst the tyranid horde. The magics of the Omnissiah had primed the rounds to unleash their payload a split-second before impact, and the precious ammunition reaped a fearsome toll on the monsters. One-point-zero calibre missiles from Borias’s heavy bolter blasted into the crush of alien bodies too, and the combined onslaught seized the attention of the seething mass of xenos monsters.

The stampeding horde paused.

Hardly believing their eyes, the guardsmen shouted encouragement to the unexpected interlopers. The three Deathwatch marines stumbled onto the bottom of the ravine at roughly the same time. Goran slunk away to the flank, towards Brother Rasmus. With grim efficiency, Markius and Sören marched towards the stunned xenos, pumping a withering hail of explosive firepower into their ranks. Six-limbed hormagaunts shattered into bloody piles of ichor and gore. Rasmus had already reached the nearest beast, too, smashing its head from its hunched shoulders with his axe. Still the thump thump thump of Borias’s heavy bolter bellowed its hymnal rhythm across the ravine.

The xenos reacted.

A hiss rippled through the throng, rising into a crescendo, until with one voice the tyranids screamed their fury at the marines. The stampede altered its flight, and now the sea of gaping jaws and scything talons swarmed towards the Kill-team. Markius raised one eyebrow. The sudden appearance of genetically-engineered transhuman giants in onyx-black power armour unleashing the holy fire of bolter weapons had put to flight many xenos in his time. The suicidal bravery, even in base animals such as these, always surprised him.

Pausing to exchange magazines in his bolter, the thought struck Markius that they were going to have to kill every last one of these beasts.

Brother Goran leapt with sinewy grace to reinforce Brother Rasmus, fighting hand-to-hand with the nearest clutch of monsters. A hormagaunt sprang at him, powerful hind limbs propelling it with inhuman strength, but Goran’s powerfist energised and he smashed it through the abdomen of the creature, the crackling energy field pulverising internal organs and backbone all in one sweep.

Markius chanced a glance towards the guardsmen, and smiled as he saw the commissar waving them out from their defensive positions to counter-attack in support of the marines. He looked back to the swarm, observing their movements, noticing the change in their flocking patterns to react to the brutal attack in their flank by Rasmus and Goran.

Something caught his attention.

‘Brother Sören,’ he voxed. ‘Do you see the tall one?’

‘Invictus,’ Sören acknowledged over the vox. The frenzied hormagaunts were only a few dozen paces away now. Markius and Sören unleashed controlled bursts to topple the foremost chargers.

‘That appears to be our node link,’ Sören’s voice betrayed just a little tension. The seething swarm was almost upon them, and Rasmus and Goran were lost to sight as they became surrounded by leaping nightmares to the flank.

‘Invictus,’ voxed Markius. ‘Confirming ident.’

He switched his fire-selector to hellfire rounds, newly designed by the tech priests serving the Ordo Xenos, raised his bolter to his shoulder and peered into the targeter.

‘Borias; keep them off us,’ he voxed.

The storm of heavy bolter fire screaming down into the ravine focused and intensified, blasting apart the leading edge of the wave of swarming xenos barely ten paces away.

Markius heard one of the human troopers – perhaps the commissar – shout something to Brother Sören, who was closest to them.

‘Concentrate fire; give us space,’ the Apothecary’s deep voice rang across the ravine.

‘You have a strategy, Lord?’ said the human.

‘We will disrupt the node link,’ said Sören.

‘You’ll what, Lord?’

‘Shoot the big one!’

Volleys of lasfire cut into the press of hormagaunts, the guardsmen receiving the order from their officer. Momentarily, Markius had time to scrutinise his target.

A monster as tall as a battle tank gaped at him through the advanced sights of his weapon, ridged chitin plates armouring its skull and broad shoulders. Osseous scythes longer than lascannon barrels curled from its muscular limbs, and it clutched what appeared to be a weapon in one of its sets of claws, though this contraption defied classification. The rifle looked more like a symbiotic organism, disgusting in its alien bizarreness. Another of the weapon-organisms, this time resembling a massive whip, writhed in the grip of another claw. Markius marked the leviathan with a laser dot.

Tyranicus Gladius. Ident confirmed. Fire.’

His bolter juddered in his gauntleted grip, and again Brother Sören’s weapon echoed the divine rhythm of death. Self-propelled missiles smashed into the beast, at first ricocheting from its thick carapace. The marines pumped round after round, aware that the prototype ammunition was limited, and then the blazing streams found their way through the armour. One then another bolt rammed between ridges of chitin, before exploding inside the tyranid. Roaring like a mythical sea-dragon, the leader-beast crashed to the ground, gaping wounds blossoming in its exo-chitin as the mutagenic acid payloads of the missiles disintegrated the monster from the inside.

A hiss rippled through the hormagaunts, and their charge stuttered once more. Markius took the moment to return his fire-selector to metal storm rounds and braced with his bolter at his hip, ready to reach for his blade when they were overrun.

‘Node disrupted!’ voxed Borias, watching from the top of the ravine.

The hormagaunts appeared to be dazed, blinking and staggering. Markius spotted Rasmus and Goran, back to back in the centre of a circle of dismembered xenos corpses, purple alien blood staining their armour. They hesitated as the remaining beasts snarled and writhed but did not attack.

‘Invictus on that,’ voxed Markius. ‘Node cut.’

A renewed cheer rose from the guardsmen, and at a shout from the commissar, their lasguns ripped volleys of ruby fire into the bemused xenos before they could regain their wits again. The marines allowed the vengeful humans to finish off the hormagaunts, now bereft of their coordination and fanatical vigour, reverting to base animal instincts and fleeing as individuals. When the ravine was secure, the grey-coated soldiers gathered behind their commissar and he marched them before Brother Markius.

Snapping a salute, the young officer said, ‘Praise the Almighty Emperor! Holy Adeptus Astartes, we owe our lives to you!’


* * *



‘COMMISSAR FALCO SANDER, at your service,’ he snapped another salute. ‘I am honoured to have served with Astartes before – the blessed Ultramarines, Lagan System. Also mopped up a crushed rebellion after the Sable Swords chapter made landfall on Eiselos.’ He turned to his men, ‘Truly you are blessed to lay eyes upon the Emperor’s Angels of Death!’

The Deathwatch marines gathered around Markius and faced the shabby unit of guardsmen, swaddled in winter fatigues. Markius narrowed his eyes at the commissar.

‘You have seen much for a young man,’ he said.

‘Too much, perhaps; but this is the worst. The whole planet! So, so many… I have never before witnessed such blasphemies as these things,’ Sander kicked the limp corpse of a nearby hormagaunt. He straightened and forced a smile at the marines, ‘But now His Angels are here. There is finally to be a counter offensive! We did not fight so hard to survive in vain! Where are the rest of your chapter? When do the rest of the reinforcements land?’

Markius was not sure how to answer, and the young officer read the silence that greeted his questions.

‘There is no counter offensive.’ His shoulders slumped. ‘Tantalus is lost.’

The guardsmen, most of whom Markius judged to be even younger than Sander, collapsed into exhausted piles. They whimpered, sending glances towards the south and the ever-approaching doom of the xenos swarm. Markius realised Sander had only kept them functioning this long with his oratories and promises of divine intervention.

‘Then we are at your service, in whatever work the God-Emperor sees fit to grant us a part in, Lord Astartes.’ Falco Sander peered at the power armour suits worn by the Deathwatch Kill-team, his gaze lingering on the plain black shields of their shoulder plastrons. ‘But you must forgive me; I do not recognise your chapter. Who are you?’

‘That is a complex question,’ said Markius. ‘It is better that you know us only as Black Shields, incognitus.’

‘Then it is a shame we will never have the chance to proclaim your glory to our regimental commanders.’

‘Wait. There may be something I can do for you,’ Markius started.

Again, his arm was grabbed by Goran.

‘Commissar Sander, you will excuse us a moment.’

He marched Markius several paces away until they were out of earshot.

‘Enough!’ Goran hissed.

‘There should be enough space on the thunderhawk,’ said Markius.

‘This is not our mission objective!’

‘When is it not right to aid faithful servants of the Emperor?’

‘When it is our objective to retrieve Magos Vyakai and his datacore, and nothing else.’

‘The commander did not know they would be here. It is an objective of opportunity.’

‘What?’ Goran hissed, his sullen features twisting.

‘I am making them part of our mission. I am team leader and you will obey my order.’

‘By what right, Markius? This is not the old days and you no longer outrank me; team leader is a rotational status dependent on circumstances.’

‘And the circumstances right now are that the commander placed me in charge of this mission!’

‘We take a vote on it,’ said Goran, and Markius felt his anger rising with his old rival once more.

‘What? No.’

‘There are five of us: I say we leave the guardsmen and follow the mission.’

‘I am Kill-team Leader!’ Markius hissed at Goran.

‘And we are Black Shields! You still do not understand what that means. You cannot make the hard decisions. We all have a say in this, if we are to ignore the mission parameters.’

‘Do not challenge my command again!’

‘Brother Rasmus, what say you?’ said Goran.

‘Eh? I’m with Markius,’ said the big marine, hefting his power-axe over his shoulder.

‘As I thought,’ said Goran, still staring at Markius.

‘Do not do this,’ said Markius. ‘I am warning you.’

‘Scholar?’

There was a pause. Markius glanced at the golden-haired Apothecary. Sören cupped his chin in one hand. Eventually he said, ‘Brother Goran, your reasoning is logical, in terms of the mission…’ Markius exhaled, but waited for Sören to finish. ‘… But Brother Markius is indeed T.L. and as such we are bound to follow his orders.’

Goran spat a curse under his breath. Markius said, ‘That’s three against one. Now obey your orders, marine!’

Goran glanced at Borias. ‘Oho! Don’t ask me,’ grinned Borias, ‘my opinion is irrelevant now.’

Markius was not sure he was satisfied with Borias’s answer, but with the matter decided he stomped back to face the guardsmen, and Sander.

‘Listen. This is how it will be. There is a tech priest somewhere in this industrial complex – injured, we believe – and we are running out of time. You will help us find this member of the Cult Mechanicus. I will arrange for your extraction from this warzone upon our gunship.’

It took several moments for the shattered soldiers to process the words uttered by Markius, but then hope ignited in their eyes once more and they clambered to their knees. They genuflected before the marines.

‘Thank you, blessed Adeptus Astartes, for your mercy on our worthless lives!’

‘Oh, come on,’ hissed Goran. ‘We do not have time for this. You,’ he jabbed a finger at Sander. ‘Prepare search teams and move out!’

‘Yes, My Lord!’


* * *



‘YOU ARE NOT native to Tantalus?’ said Markius.

‘None of us are,’ replied Commissar Sander. ‘These boys are from the Typha-IV Eighteenth, newly raised. It is their first posting.’

‘But not yours.’

‘Aye. I’m originally from Vistro – but I would not call it my home.’

Markius did not pursue that comment. He knew Imperial commissars were the product of Ecclesiarch scholams with harsh regimes that took in orphans and abandoned infants.

Nearby, the guardsmen of the search team poked about the rusting pipe-works that fed the huge refinery domes jutting from the rocky plateau. Grey bodies of convict-workers surrounded areas blackened by fires – some still smoking. Many bore the mark of attack by tyranid vanguard organisms – flesh flensed from bone by claws and fangs. But others showed evidence of gunshot wounds; murdered by other humans. Markius surmised the facility had fallen into chaos once the Imperial overseers had abandoned it, and then the xenos vanguard beasts had come. He noticed a medallion pinned at Falco Sander’s breast.

‘That is the sigil of the Ultramarines.’

The commissar beamed with pride.

‘From Lagan,’ he said. ‘My greatest honour.’

‘What happened?’

‘I was but a junior officer at the time, assigned to a tank squadron out of Flax. We broke through artillery bombardments to relieve Adeptus Astartes trapped in an isolated bastion. I… I had to shoot a lieutenant that wanted to retreat. The tanks got through after that. The lords of Ultramar saw fit to recognise my humble part in it all.’

Markius raised one eyebrow.

‘You are a war hero.’

Sander reddened at the praise from an honoured space marine and lowered his eyes.

‘I did my part; that is all.’

Markius felt more strongly than ever that he was justified in saving these men from the ravine. Mixed into this emotion, a pang of jealousy prickled in his gut. Never would his own actions be so honoured.

‘After that,’ said Sander, ‘there were many opportunities, but I feel my place is here with the common soldier. So I volunteered to join the Typhan Eighteenth. Yet this posting…’

Sander cast his gaze southwards, where the shadow of the oncoming swarm loomed ever closer, bruising the horizon.

‘It is very strange, My Lord. This was supposed to just be a staging point, but three days after billeting down at Tantalus Landing, they came. Lagan was tough – there is no question of the Tau’s capabilities – but the toads I can understand; infantry, armour, artillery, air support. They are excellent soldiers, and if you will forgive the blasphemy, I would even call them a valiant foe. But these…’ He waved a hand towards the tyranid swarm. ‘These monsters are like nothing else in the galaxy I have seen… So, so many… We had nowhere near enough resources to repel them… I am sorry, My Lord, but we had no chance to save the city…’

‘I have seen the reports,’ Markius reassured him. ‘It is a miracle you got these men out and have survived this long.’

‘They are dead men walking,’ Sander shook his head. ‘Their nerves are wrecked, their minds destroyed. They just don’t know it yet.’

The vox-bead in Markius’s ear crackled.

‘Borias to Actual: Extraction zone secure. Beacon primed and ready.’

Markius glanced to the east, where a conical comms tower crowned with a skeletal signal dish topped a craggy mount overlooking the sprawling industrial complex.

‘Invictus on that. Anything there?’ he voxed.

‘Nothing alive. But be advised, Actual; from here estimate total eclipse to be in less than an hour.’

‘Repeat that.’

‘The tyranids are moving faster than projected, Actual. Less than two hundred kilos. Estimate less than one hour. Repeat: One hour.’

Markius exhaled then keyed his vox again.

‘Actual to Kill-team Talon; status?’

‘This is Goran: No contact here.’

Markius detected a dejected tone in Goran’s voice.

‘Actual to Rasmus; status?’

‘Still looking, eh?’

‘Sören to Actual!’ the Brother-Apothecary’s deep voice betrayed excitement. ‘I think we have something.’


* * *



MARKIUS STOMPED BETWEEN crags to witness Sören and another of the guard search teams in a depression in the rough terrain. The area had been cleared and a broad trench laid with ferrocrete. High above, supported by sturdy black-iron struts set deep into this trench, an elevated mag-train rail ran east to west.

‘Up there,’ said Sören, when Markius reached him. He pointed up at the mag-train rail. It was inactive; the electric buzz of its operation absent. Though there were no carriages on the rail at the present, Markius guessed it was used to transport promethium and workers between Pyroclast’s extraction facilities.

A silhouette lurched atop the rail.

‘What the Throne is he doing?’ said Markius.

‘Waiting for a mag-train?’ Sören shrugged. ‘I am more interested in how he got up there.’

‘It does not matter,’ said Markius, swinging his bolter on its strap behind his shoulder. ‘We have to get to him, now.’

‘I thought you would say that,’ said Sören, securing his own weapon ready for the climb. They marched towards the nearest strut.

Markius voxed, ‘All Talons; visual contact with objective. Converge on my position. Keep watch for vanguard organisms.’

‘Invictus,’ came the acknowledgement signals from his battle brothers as Markius clutched the first iron beam and hefted himself upwards.

The climb was tedious but no great hardship for the strength-enhanced Adeptus Astartes. Clambering onto the inactive rail, Markius stood to the east of Magos Vyakai, while Sören emerged to the west. Markius peered at the tech priest through the rapidly descending gloom. His spindly form was cloaked in the distinctive rust-red robes of the Cult Mechanicus. One entire side of his cowled head and shoulders glistened with oily blood. Several mechadendrites flailed from a back-mounted unit like metal snakes, but one of these had been broken in half. It sparked with pulses of electrical discharge.

‘Magos Vyakai!’ Markius called. ‘I am Markius of the Deathwatch; we are here with Inquisitor Zharn.’

The Magos lurched in his direction, his movements a drunken swaying. Bionic optical lenses within the hood whirred and tried to focus. The cyber-augmented priest uttered something that Markius did not catch. Then he suddenly halted and jerked several precise corrections to his posture.

‘There is something wrong with him,’ Sören voxed quietly.

‘Injured from the crash – or a fight afterwards,’ voxed Markius. ‘Can he understand us?’

Markius took several paces towards the Magos.

‘Vyakai, we are here to get you out of here!’

‘Halt!’ the tech priest’s synthesised voice barked from a vox-caster implanted in his throat. ‘Unidentified… Threat…zzz…’

The mechadendrites reared like snakes about to strike and Markius halted.

‘Magos Vyakai, do you know where you are? Do you remember sending your distress signal?’ Sören tried from his side. The tech priest whirled, staggering a step so that he nearly tumbled from the rail.

‘Careful, Scholar!’ Markius shouted, spotting an infernus pistol in one of the tech priest’s bionic claws.

‘Threat… Prime-zzz… Zzz-code not recognizzz…’ the Magos garbled electric noises then fell silent once more.

‘What is the delay?’ came Goran’s sullen tone on the vox.

‘The Magos is not functioning,’ Markius voxed back, ‘and he is armed.’

‘So shoot him down. We do not have time for this.’

‘Wait,’ voxed Sören, quietly. ‘We cannot risk damage to the datacore.’

The skeletal tech priest stood erect and still as a statue between them, ready to respond to any further steps the marines might make.

‘Erm, Actual: Revise estimate, thirty minutes,’ Borias voxed.

‘What the Throne?’

‘They are… accelerating, Actual. We are running out of time!’

Markius harrumphed and reached for his bolter. The Magos jerked, one of the optical sensors at the end of a mechadendrite spotting the motion. The fat barrel of his infernus pistol snapped round to point at Markius’s chest. Markius froze mid-action, unwilling to test the devastating energy of the fusion weapon against his power armour.

‘Scholar, any ideas?’ he voxed carefully.

‘He has sustained serious head injuries. I suspect his machine organs are asserting control while he fades in and out of a hazy consciousness. They will be enacting primary coding protocols – survival and search for shelter.’

Markius thought about it. An idea came to him.

He called, ‘Identification: Markius, Deathwatch, Ordo Xenos. Acknowledge.’

The Magos’s head snapped round.

‘Repeat.’

‘Identification: Markius, Deathwatch, Ordo Xenos. Acknowledge.’

‘Acknowledged. Identification: Vyakai, Adeptus Mechanicus, Magos Beta-Eight-Minor.’

Markius grinned. He said, ‘Memorandum: Location Tantalus. Kestrel crashed. Interrogation: Recall mission objective.’

‘Recalling… Recalling…’ the tech priest’s head twitched several times. ‘Recall incomplete: Awaiting extraction.’

‘Confirmative,’ said Markius. ‘Extraction to be facilitated by Ordo Xenos Deathwatch Kill-team Talon. Acknowledge.’

There was a long pause and Markius held his breath.

‘Acknowledged. Interrogation: Markius, you are Kill-team Talon?’

‘Confirmative,’ Markius smiled again. ‘Let’s move!’

To his delight, the Magos’s mechadendrites retracted and the infernus pistol lowered. The tech priest peered over the edge of the rail, still swaying. Markius and Sören approached from both directions.

‘How did you get up here anyway?’ said Markius, also peering down.

The Magos lurched and garbled electric hisses. Markius straightened.

‘Interrogation: Do you require assistance to descend?’

‘Negative. Descending.’

Markius’s eyes widened as the tech priest stepped off the rail. Sören made a grab for him but was too late. Then, whirring motors kicked into life, lifting the tech priest’s tattered robes to reveal miniature vertical thrusters. Markius and Sören exchanged a look as the cyborg lazily floated downwards. Below, the circle of watching guardsmen and marines widened to give him space to land. Markius shrugged at Sören and then they began their climb down the struts once more.


* * *



‘THAT WAS IMPRESSIVE,’ Sören commented as they hustled across the tundra. ‘How did you know what to say?’

‘I have spent too long enduring Magos Gaius’s logical pronouncements,’ said Markius. ‘I speak tech priest.’

Behind them, the hiss of the Magos’s transport jets coughed several times then cut. The Deathwatch marines turned around to witness Vyakai flop into the mud.

‘Actuality: Energy levels critical. Enacting emergency shutdown.’

Then the skeletal tech priest fell silent. Lights winked out in his optical sensors. Markius sighed. ‘We will have to carry him.’

‘On it,’ Rasmus growled. The hulking marine leaned over and slung the limp cyborg over a shoulder.

Nearby, the guardsmen struggled to keep up with the long strides of the Astartes. Commissar Sander crowed to them, ‘March! March into His blessed salvation! Let joy sing in your hearts. We are nearly there!’

The tirade was violently interrupted by Borias’s heavy bolter, firing from the crag that overlooked Pyroclast-Gamma-9. A hail of missiles screamed low over their heads. The guardsmen flung themselves to the ground, the marines halted and turned. A pair of winged beasts squawked and fell out of the air.

‘Shrikes!’ uttered Goran.

‘Sorry about that, brothers,’ Borias voxed from the top of the mount. ‘Just saw them at the last moment.’

Markius was not listening. He glared southwards. Sören followed his stare and cursed.

‘Holy Throne!’

Emerging from the landscape, a roiling sea of vanguard organisms, easily fifty times the number from the ravine, swarmed over rocks and pits, scrabbled around crags, leaping and screaming with their xenos voices. A score of the taller Tyranid leader-beasts stomped amongst them, roaring instructions.

‘Oho!’ Borias voxed. ‘Time to fraggin’ move!’

The marines burst into a sprint, loping strides devouring the distance to the crag. Rasmus stomped on his bionic leg, the Magos slung over his shoulders. The sound of the closing predators hissed in their ears. Sören and Markius alternated turns stopping and shooting; short bursts of metal storm rounds. It was a pitiful effort at covering fire. Emptying an ammunition magazine and reaching for another, Markius paused.

The guardsmen were falling behind.

The commissar yelled at them, snapping off token blasts from his laspistol. They lurched and stumbled, their limbs and nerves failing them. A shrike swooped from the dusky skies on membranous wings, massive talons scooping up one of the stragglers. He was too tired even to scream. Eye-searing tracers stabbed through the darkness. Borias was doing his best, but a single heavy bolter offered little support.

Ahead the ground rose; they had reached the foot of the mount.

‘Scholar,’ called Markius, gesturing to the guardsmen. The apothecary nodded and they both turned to face the horde.

‘You are insane,’ Goran scowled. ‘You will endanger us all.’

‘Just get ahead to the extraction point,’ Markius said. ‘You and Rasmus. Take off if we do not make it.’

Rasmus growled, about to object, but Markius said, ‘Goran is right. You must save the datacore; that is our primary objective. That is an order!’

Goran and Rasmus stomped up the hillside while Markius and Sören faced the onrushing tide of fangs and claws. Guardsmen struggled past them, gasping as the black armoured marines reversed up the hillside, step-by-step. Markius emptied yet another magazine. He had one more of metal storms before he would need to switch to standard rounds. Sander took position between the marines, heaving guardsmen uphill as they passed him, between occasional shots from his laspistol.

‘Come on, you fraggers!’ he shouted. ‘The Angels are leading the way!’

Several of the guardsmen collapsed face down into the soil, conceding defeat to fatigue. Two paused to aid them but Sander screamed at them to climb faster.

‘T.L. Markius,’ Sören called across to Markius as the sea of vanguard organisms seethed towards them.

‘I know.’

‘We are not going to make it.’

‘I know!’

Markius’s vox-bead crackled, a signal breaking through the electrostatic interference of the tortured atmosphere.

‘… der Two to KT Talon. Do you receive? Repeat…’

Markius clicked his vox. ‘This is Talon Actual: We read you!’

The oblique silhouette of a thunderhawk gunship roared overhead, circling from north to west.

‘Thunder Two to KT Talon, we have your beacon locked. Prepare for evac.’

A grin twisted Markius’s face. He had never been so happy to hear Brother Lars’ voice.

Lars voxed, ‘Thunder Two to KT Talon; hostiles converging on your position.’

‘Oho! We had fraggin’ noticed!’ Borias growled over the vox.

‘Thunder Two to KT Talon; we are coming in hot.’

‘Invictus!’ Markius voxed, then turned to the surviving guardsmen that were struggling up the slope. ‘Everyone; take cover!’

Its jets bellowing across the skies, the thunderhawk lined up its run towards the mount. At the last moment, a spray of missiles surged from under its wings, contrails of white smoke swirling in their wake. Markius braced.

With deafening roars, explosions bloomed amongst the seething carpet of hormagaunts like volcanoes erupting, hurling scores of broken bodies and tonnes of dirt cascading into the air. The gunship followed up with punishing volleys from nose-mounted autocannons, churning swathes of death through the Tyranids. Heat and noise and concussion waves from the explosions washed over Markius. He did not pause.

‘Move out!’ he shouted to Sander and what remained of his men, then turned and stomped up the hillside, the stench of barbequed alien flesh filling his nostrils.

Markius and Sören reached the top of the mount and joined the rest of the Kill-team just as the thunderhawk slowed its flight overhead. The gunship switched to vertical thrusters and they were buffeted by the downwash of hot wind. Sander and the guardsmen clambered to the summit as the thunderhawk touched down on its landing skis.

‘Thank you, Lord,’ was all Sander could gasp, falling to his knees.


* * *



‘THAT WAS CLOSE,’ William Zharn greeted Markius as he clambered into the passenger deck of the thunderhawk. The debonair inquisitor was as ever fitted in an excellently tailored charcoal suit. His dark mane of hair was streaked with elegant silver at his temples.

‘Too close,’ grunted Markius. The rest of the Kill-team, and ten remaining guardsmen including the commissar, followed him into the passenger deck. He spotted the robed form of Magos Gaius hovering behind the inquisitor, and then he paused.

‘Commander… I did not expect…’

Looming beyond the inquisitor and his tech priest, the black armoured stature of Deathwatch Commander Nero Atilius dominated the cramped interior of the gunship’s transporter hold.

‘Brother Markius,’ Atilius nodded once, the scars that disfigured his bald head highlighted by strip-luminators in the deck ceiling. Markius had never seen the commander outside of Watch Tower Duniash in four years of service.

‘This mission is Priority Level Magenta,’ said Atilius. ‘Did you complete?’

‘Affirmative, Commander.’

‘Who are these people?’

‘Survivors, from the garrison,’ said Markius.

Atilius frowned, scrutinising the guardsmen through his glowing bionic eye.

‘We fought off a tyranid swarm together, and they helped us find the tech priest.’

‘This is outside the mission parameters.’

Markius’s pulse quickened as the Deathwatch commander and Inquisitor Zharn shared a look.

‘We will deal with this later. Do you have the datacore?’ said Zharn.

‘We have the Magos.’

‘Where is he?’

‘Here!’ Rasmus growled from his corner of the passenger deck. He dumped the inert cyborg into a grav-seat and exhaled. Markius guessed that with all the augmetics of the Cult Mechanicus, the tech priest was a lot heavier than he looked.

Magos Xavier Gaius rattled past Markius and he wondered if he and Vyakai had been cloned from the same production line on Mars. Gaius reached Vyakai and a mechadendrite slithered from his back unit. A drill whirred at its end and Gaius shoved this into the inactive tech priest’s chest unit. Gaius barked something in electric code and a few warbles came from Vyakai’s vox-caster in response.

Apothecary Sören crouched next to Magos Gaius, observing the tech priest’s operation.

‘Will he make it?’ the warrior-physician displayed the same concern on his handsome face as he would for an injured battle brother in his care.

‘Qualification,’ Gaius monotoned. ‘Who will make what?’

‘Vyakai…’Sören pointed, his eyebrows raised, ‘Will he live? Survive?’

‘Estimation: Magos Vyakai Beta-Eight-Minor will return to full functionality with a probability of eighty-six-point-nine-eight percent.’

Sören turned and shared a glance with Markius. Markius shrugged.

‘You see?’

‘Xavier,’ Zharn came beside the tech priest, a note of urgency in his voice. ‘What about the datacore?’

‘Actuality: Magos Vyakai is currently in emergency dormant mode. Accessing… Accessing…’

A circular portal of bronze slowly unscrewed in the centre of Vyakai’s chest unit. With a click it finally sprung open, revealing a cavity inside. Zharn reached inside then coaxed out an opaque cube of black silicon the size of a marine’s fist. Zharn cradled it in two hands as if it were one of the fabled sea-dragon pearls of Pho. He nodded to Atilius.

The Deathwatch commander punched a wall-mounted vox-link.

‘Brother Lars, get us out of here.’

The idling engines of the thunderhawk screamed, and Markius felt the lurch as they took off again.

‘What is on that thing, anyway?’ said Markius, peering at the datacore.

‘Possibly the means to finally defeat those monsters,’ said Zharn. He turned again to Atilius and said, ‘I need to get this to Lord Kryptman on Tarsis Ultra as soon as possible.’

‘Kill-team Sovereign is waiting to depart as soon as we reach the Vigilance.’

The lateral thrusters of the gunship kicked in and Markius braced as the thunderhawk accelerated. Commissar Sander approached the end of the passenger deck, perhaps sensing that the mission debriefings had been completed.

‘Lord of Ultramar, I am at your service,’ he said, recognising the Ultramarines’ heraldry upon Atilius’s shoulder plastron. Atilius ignored him. He looked at Markius.

‘Why did you bring them here?’

‘It was an objective of opportunity,’ said Markius. ‘I used T.L. initiative.’

‘My Lord Markius showed mercy upon our souls,’ said Sander.

‘I was not addressing you.’

Atilius did not shout, but his vocal chords had been ravaged by the same horrific xenos virus that had cratered and cracked his skin; the result of some long-ago mission. His voice grated like rocks crunching together. Markius believed the commander could cow a frenzied ambull with that tone. Sander closed his mouth and retreated.

‘You do not understand,’ Atilius said to Markius.

‘I told him so,’ Goran chimed in, slouched in a grav-seat nearby.

‘You, be quiet!’ said Markius.

‘He wants to spread his Black Shield legend. He doesn’t get it!’

‘This marine is insubordinate,’ Markius pointed an accusing finger at Goran.

‘He cannot make T.L decisions!’ protested Goran. ‘I request to not serve with him again!’

‘And he is a danger to team cohesion. I make the same request!’

‘Silence!’ hissed Atilius. Goran and Markius complied. ‘You are bickering like neophytes in front of outsiders.’

Markius blinked, an uncomfortable ache spreading in his gut. From somewhere inside the thunderhawk, sponson-mounted heavy bolters rattled as the gunship gained altitude and outran shrikes. Atilius sighed and made a face at Inquisitor Zharn.

Zharn said, ‘You must understand, Brother Markius, there is a danger of infection. Tyranid organisms come in many forms, from the battleship-sized norn queens, down to the microscopic warrior-viruses. Brother-Apothecary Sören, can you accompany me to the medicae deck?’

The golden-haired apothecary nodded and followed the inquisitor through a brass-plated pneumatic door.

Markius slumped into a grav-seat and huffed, not looking at Goran. Borias, thankfully, decided not to break the uncomfortable silence with one of his stupid jibes. Markius saw from the porthole that they were breaking from the slate-grey clouds, and the diseased atmosphere of a dying planet was soon after falling behind.

Sören returned with Zharn and walked right past Markius, his face unreadable.

‘My friends,’ his deep voice rang across the passenger deck to the guardsmen. He held up his vambrace-mounted stimm dispenser. It was loaded with a milky solution. ‘This is a precaution. It will send you to sleep, but you will be cleansed and may be at peace.’

The guardsmen peeped out of smoke-stained faces at the apothecary, then to their commissar. Sander said, ‘Of course, My Lord.’

Sören administered the injection into the offered necks of each guardsman, one by one, working his way down one side of the passenger deck and then up the other. He worked in silence, and Markius sensed a strange tranquility descend upon the scene as one starved and fatigued soldier pulled apart the thick fabrics of his greatcoat to reveal a scrawny pale jugular, then the next. The route Sören was taking meant Sander, who was sitting nearest to Markius and the Kill-team, would be last.

When Sören inserted the needle into the last-but-one, Markius thought he saw the apothecary mouth something: Something familiar.

When Falco Sander cocked his head and offered his neck, removing his commissar’s cap, Markius focused his enhanced hearing. Sören did sub-vocalise something. Nord En Ornisgard. Markius jolted. It was an old tribal benediction from their homeworld, uttered over the dying warrior whose soul is about to flee the body. Go north, into the hall of the god-eagles.

‘Scholar, what are you doing?’ Markius sprang to his feet.

Sören looked at him, his eyes sad.

‘He is delivering the Emperor’s Mercy,’ said William Zharn, sitting opposite Markius in a grav-seat. The soldiers’ heads lolled as if they were in deep sleep.

‘You are killing them? Why?’

‘No-one was supposed to leave Tantalus,’ said Atilius, his face a stormcloud.

‘That man was a hero – decorated by the Ultramarines!’ Markius pointed at Sander. The commissar was still alive, his eyes drowsy. The rest of the guardsmen did not stir.

‘Brother Markius, listen to the inquisitor,’ grunted Atilius.

‘What the Throne is going on here?’ Markius rounded on Zharn.

The inquisitor raised his hands.

‘I was not happy about it myself, believe me, Brother Markius, but we had to do this to stand any hope of stopping the tyranid menace.’

‘Do what?

‘This datacore,’ Zharn brandished the precious cube again, ‘contains a map – a genetic map – charting every iteration of the millions of tyranid genotypes that evolved during their invasion of Tantalus. With this information, the Magi Biologis of the Ordo Xenos seek to discover the core link, the one piece of genetic code common to all tyranid organisms in a swarm; or more precisely where upon the map it hides.’

Marius shook his head, not understanding. Zharn continued.

‘With this information they can design a virus that will attack every organism in an individual swarm – by targeting its core link. But you see, Brother Markius, we needed a fresh invasion cycle, from start to apocalyptic finish, in order to sequence the entire evolutionary map. We needed to artificially induce an invasion and contain it to one world.’

At that point Zharn looked at Commander Atilius, who checked his chronometer.

‘Exterminatus in seventy-five minutes.’

Markius took a breath.

‘You are telling me Tantalus was some kind of planet-wide experiment?

‘Indeed. You did not think it strange that Castobel, the fat hive world of this system, was untouched? We brought an isolated tendril of hive ships to remote Tantalus and let them loose.’

Markius was about to ask how this could be achieved, but decided he did not want to know.

‘And what about them?’ Markius gestured to the guardsmen. ‘Were they posted to Tantalus as part of this infernal test?’

Zharn nodded, but he folded his hands and stared at them.

‘The tyranid genus needed proper… stimulation… in order to trigger the full evolutionary cycle of combat beasts. They needed someone to fight.’

‘Then these soldiers were nothing but a catalyst… a sacrifice to make sure your precious code link was complete. Food for the swarm.’

‘Indeed…’

‘Lord, do not grieve for me…’

The whisper came from his left and Markius turned. Sander was still hanging on, rattling his final breaths. Markius crouched beside his seat. Sören had not moved, standing over the commissar, staring far away. Sander looked into Markius’s eyes.

‘I did my part; that is all,’ he croaked, and then was still.

Markius returned to his grav-seat and strapped himself in without a word.

‘He understands better than you do,’ said Goran, ‘and he is a mere human!’

‘Do not start with me,’ Markius growled.

Zharn dared to interrupt two marines in a middle of a dispute. He said, ‘No-one can know of what we have done here. The fate of Tantalus, and all personnel lost there, is secret. No survivors. No heroics. No glorious tales.’

‘And that is why you used the Black Shields,’ Markius directed this at Commander Atilius. He nodded back. He rarely spoke when it was not necessary.

‘I doubt it will make much difference to you, Brother Markius,’ said Zharn, ‘but for what it is worth, I spoke out against this course of action. But I was convinced by my colleagues that this was necessary.’

‘The inquisition,’ Markius stared at Zharn, ‘where the ends always justifies the means?’

‘If Lord Kryptman’s reports are correct, we are facing invasion on a galactic scale, Brother Markius, not just planetary. This will be the doom of humanity, unless we learn to be just as ruthless as those monsters.’

Markius folded his arms.

‘I see.’

‘Your mission is successfully completed, Brother Markius. Let that be the end of it,’ said Atilius.

Later, when they first spotted the exterminatus missiles passing into the atmosphere of Tantalus and the cyclonic infernos igniting, Markius still did not allow his scowl to relax. Still he was fuming inside. But one positive thought at last glimmered in his mind, like a ray of stray sunshine piercing Tantalus's bleak sky.

Falco Sander, and his men, had indeed been a catalyst. Markius had liked the young fool, even when he found out he placed such pride in meaningless heraldry – and not even his own. He would regret their fates. He had tried hard for them.

But an unexpected personal objective had also been completed.

Goran was no longer part of the Black Shields unit.

It was a successful extraction.


THE END



.
Last edited by kurisawa on Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
kurisawa
 
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:39 am


Re: Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

Postby Mauthos » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:28 am

Great to see Markius and Co back and I think I am starting to become a bit of a fanboy with regards to your writing.

There are probably some things that could do with changing/tightening up, but in all honesty I got wrapped up in the story, dragged along unresistingly and simply got lost in the tale. Great description really sets the scene accurately with good dialogue to keep the interest and a twist at the end that I didn't see coming.

Excellent read, look forward to more as I am swiftly becoming a fan of your work. :oops:
Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
User avatar
Mauthos
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:43 pm
Location: Bristol


Re: Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

Postby kurisawa » Sat Aug 25, 2012 3:47 am

Mauthos wrote:Great to see Markius and Co back and I think I am starting to become a bit of a fanboy with regards to your writing.

There are probably some things that could do with changing/tightening up, but in all honesty I got wrapped up in the story, dragged along unresistingly and simply got lost in the tale. Great description really sets the scene accurately with good dialogue to keep the interest and a twist at the end that I didn't see coming.

Excellent read, look forward to more as I am swiftly becoming a fan of your work. :oops:


Hey Mauthos, thanks for looking in and your kind comments. This was fun to write and I think I'm starting to get the scope of 7-8k stories a bit (this comes in at a little over 8.5k).

Markius and KT Talon have become good friends, along with the inquisitor's team, so you can expect more from them soon!

[PS. Any chance of more writing from you so I can return the favour?]

K.
My short stories:
1. Extraction = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2127
2. Intoxication = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2188
3. Desecration = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2294
4. Indoctrination = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3172

My novel:
BLACK SHIELDS: INCOGNITUS = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1901
kurisawa
 
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:39 am


Re: Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

Postby Mauthos » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 am

Maybe soon, but doing extensive rewrites for this bolthole horror anthology as I unfortunately agree with the edits I have had sent back and my piece needs a lot of work and changes.
Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
User avatar
Mauthos
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:43 pm
Location: Bristol


Re: Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

Postby Rawk » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:02 pm

Kurisawa,

I still have not finished the last bit yet and there's a little concrit I'd like to share once I read through it again, but this is great stuff! A real rollicking adventure ride and I can honestly say you made my day with it! I was at work, bored, feeling destroyed, and you just pumped me up man! Your action sequences and clarity of style and thrill are wonderful to read. You most definitely should try things out as test runs ALL the time!

A salute,
RAWK!
The Intellect, so broad and majestic in scope, could manufacture a landscape on a whim, yet, far too often, sits there like a dull lead pencil waiting to be sharpened; in-animate and forgotten...
~ Musings from the 21st Century...
Rawk
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:23 am
Location: Australia


Re: Extraction (deathwatch, short story, complete)

Postby kurisawa » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:01 am

Thanks for looking in, Rawk. I look forward to your suggestions. :)

K.
kurisawa
 
Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:39 am


Return to Board index

Return to Warhammer 40,000

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests