Read In A Rush: Desecration

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby J D Dunsany » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:30 pm

Good evening, good people. This is the thread for posting stories for the February 'Read In a Rush' Competition.

To enter the competition, you must write a short story of between 850 and 1150 words in length addressing in some way the prompt word or phrase announced at the start of the competition. In this case, it's Desecration.

You should post your entries on or before the deadline of 2100GMT on Saturday 18th February. There is no limit to the amount of entries you can post, but only one may be submitted for voting. If you've only posted one entry in the posting period, then you don't need to do anything. Your entry will be automatically submitted for voting. If you've written more than one entry, you will need to PM me with the title of your chosen entry. You will be given a full week to make your decision about which story to put forward. If you do not manage to PM me before that time, then I will put your first story into the voting thread.

Any questions, please feel free to PM me.

Regards,

JDD
JDD story of the moment: Glory
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Commander Shadow » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:01 pm

this looks like fun!
- And there arose from the abyss a terrible beast and the armies of man were laid low by the walls of the ancient city. The ground shook and the skies trembled and all knew as the beast had come forth and that the end of time was upon them.

"Shadow is always right, except when he tries to save his men from charging orks" - Ang
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Angelous » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:34 am

Desecration 1139 words

Princeps Tybalt Silon awoke to find himself restrained upon an interrogation table upside down, any sources of light were extinguished and the sharp bite of the cold air felt as if it was permeating his entire body. How long had he been here? How had he ended up being suspended like this? Quickly he brushed aside such questions as the immediate concern was getting free, gathering his energies he strained at his bonds but no amount of effort on his part obtained any leverage or movement from them, Tybalt found himself helpless and frustrated.

The soft tapping of keystrokes followed by the hydraulic hiss from the locks of a ceramite doorway informed the Princeps that someone was coming, however no light flowed from the opening entrance, as the doorway automatically closed the repetitive drum of footsteps could be heard crossing into the room.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Tybalt called out to the blackness, no response was forthcoming.
“I am Princeps Tybalt Silon of the 114th Enastrian Imperial Fleet and I demand to know what is going on!” He commanded, hoping at least his title would buy him an answer.

From the endless darkness a small spotlight flashed on in front of him, the sudden brightness meant it took a few moments for his eyes to adjust, upon the lit table surface shone a single emblem. A symbol more terrifyingly powerful than any imperial fleet or any space marine legion… An Imperial Rosette.

Primal fear welled up inside the Princeps upon seeing this delicate and intricate weaving of brass and red tinted glass upon the table, anyone wielding this icon can make a single individual disappear or raise a planet to ashes with but a single word.
“I trust you recognize the symbol in front of you Tybalt Silon?” the voice that leapt from the darkness had a metallic quality to it, betraying its owner to be of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
“The Inquisition is known to be the most powerful and influential of all the organisations in the service of the God Emperor, they who search out the Mutant, The Alien, The Heretic.” New light began to fill the room, illuminating the silhouette of a hooded priest of Mars.

Licking his parched lips absently Tybalt’s mind began to race trying to remember what it was he had done to land himself in this position “So what is it that I have done to deserve the attention of the Inquisition… my Lord?” The Princeps added the title in a bid to seem co-operative and submissive.

In a movement that reminded Tybalt of an inquisitive bird, the silhouette’s head cocked to one side as a Mechadendrite snaked out from behind it; deftly the tiny claws within the Mechadendrite surrounded the Rosette and lifted it free from its stand. “Do you like this symbol Tybalt Silon? It took me several standard days to assemble this, a simple amalgamation of metals and silicates. Separately they have little value but when you put them together in this manner they have a power all of their own”

Tybalts eyes followed the Rosette like a hypnotised child as it moved, the light filtered through the faceted glass glorious and horrifying.

With little ceremony the priest removed his human hand from within the folds of his robes and touched a remote wand held within, instantly The Princeps body was filled with a blinding pain, the resulting involuntary spasms made him thrash about uncontrollably as his brain attempted to shut down to protect his mind. Eventually the pain subsided leaving Tybalt breathing raggedly as he tried to focus upon his assailant “what.. how…?” he managed.
“Neural Induction; it leaves the body free of permanent damage but through the grace of the Ommissiah we can achieve a pain response beyond what you could normally take… Now that you are aware of this fact I want you to understand what happens next” floating the Rosette into Tybalts line of sight the attached Mechadendrite neatly crushed it with barely a whir of the mechanics.

Incomprehension dominated Tybalts consciousness “You cant do th….” He began
“Here we can do whatever we wish” the priest interrupted, “The Inquisition does not know of us or of what has happened to you. You are the Mechanicum’s worst kind of heretic! What we want from you is to know how you tainted the holy machine so we can take the necessary steps to prevent this in the future”.
“I don’t understand… what have I done? Who are you?” begged Tybalt
“You have been found guilty of Desecrating the Reaver Class Titan Illustrious 34 standard days ago whilst on a primary weapons test before the Titan was to rejoin the forces going to the Cadian gate.”
The Princeps eyes widened at this statement from the priest. “You Lie! I have served the 114th Enastrian Imperial Fleet for 27 years! I am the Princeps for the Illustrious, on that authority I demand to be let down and judged by my military peers” His heart filled with outrage at this accusation he poured every bit of his fury and pride into his statement.

A swift gesture with the remote wand and Tybalt’s world shrank down to the two concepts of pain and suffering, eternity stretched out in front of him as he desperately took lungful’s of air in to confirm he was still alive.
The monotone sound of the priests vox enhanced voice chimed back at him “you are no longer Princeps, your title has been stripped from you” another flare of pain, “Your Moderati staff and crew have been executed” again more pain” The irreplaceable Reaver Titan Illustrious has been disassembled; melted down and the remains were fired into the Sun” another bolt of agony. “Finally Enginseer Highcroft was virally decompiled… Before you die you will surrender your vile heretical knowledge to us.”

“Wait… Wait! Who are you to do these things? By what authority?” Screamed Tybalt, the hooded shroud considered him for a moment before answering “We are Pi, we are the ones who measure the Mechanicums moral boundries and technical limitations, and as with the mathematical constant we are everywhere yet unnoticed, until the equation becomes unbalanced by vile infidel’s such as yourself.”

With this statement over the neural induction device was switched on until his screams were silenced by his eventual slip into unconsciousness.

Leaving the Twitching form of Tybalt behind, the priest walked out of the room… 17 standard days of interrogation later Tybalt had told his captor what had happened. He claimed that the 10 millennia old machine spirit of the Reaver Titan had responded to his cognitive mental commands during the weapons test with a question, “Who are you?” the Princeps had been surprised by this but had replied with a simple statement “I am Tybalt Silon… Who are you?”
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Jelboy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:34 am

Very Impressive, Angelous.
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:49 am

My initial struggles with my concept for this were very verbose, I still sorta think that a certain character's point of view could be expanded upon in a richer deeper way but alas for the format of the RiaR.

Tower 1149 words.

‘This isn’t on the map boss’, Emil said looking up from his map, bafflement etched into his pox-marked face. A murmured growl dismissed the expectant looks from his men as Keiner took in the tower before them. It was four storeys high and would've been taller than the surrounding trees when it was built if his guess on it's age was right. Something that prominent should've been mapped long ago, there was no reason why he and his rangers shouldn't have known a tower was located in this part of the woods.
'Where's the boy?' Keiner spoke at last a plan of action forming already.
'Here I am, sir,' a nervous voice spoke up. Felix was the youngest of the six rangers standing before the mysterious tower and the fifteen year old had all the confidence of someone on only their second major trek.
'Time to make yourself useful lad. I want you to head back find Captain Bacham and tell him of this tower and lead him and Herr Adalfans here.'
'You think this is what the Wiza-Herr Adalfans divined, Sir?' Felix said an awestruck gaze on his pox-marked face.
'I am not a wizard boy and Emil's map is cheap. It is just a tower until we hear different by them that know. Now clear off and do as I've told you or you'll find that the Count's coin won't be paying for you to be doing any more ranging.' With that the boy headed into the woods his silhouette soon lost in the murk of the forest.

'You got something to say Hans you best spit it out. Taal's beard, my patience is running thin,' Keiner said, addressing his lanky compatriot’s questioning look.
'Are you sure about sending the boy-'
'The lad is as fleet as a doe and twice as nervous. He'll out run any of us in a sticky situation, besides we've just walked that path, it's clear. This whole region of the woods has been trouble free for as long as I can remember, the Wizard is just making work for us all to prove his worth to the Count. Wild goose chase that's what this is, no danger for the lad at all.' Keiner said defiantly, his boys had been too spooked since they knew they were on the wizard's errand. Every single superstition and wives tale they knew had come up in conversation over the past two days with the foreboding increasing with every telling. It was time to put a stop to it. Unsheathing his dagger he strode confidently towards the tower.
'Whatever else this tower is lads, it’s a chance for us to grab some kip under a roof for a change, now help me pry the door open.’

A memory stirred in the shadows as the voices carried into the room. A distance awareness gathering in the dark.
'Men' the recognition shuddered through the tower as a thousand hate fuled thoughts emerged formed a consciousness from the shadow.
'Men' the voice was frost on the air, frost and menace.

'Did you hear that boss?' Emil asked nervously, stopping his approach to the ladder in the centre of the tower's lowest chamber.
'Just the creak of the floor boards' Keiner barked back, scrutinising the chamber in the flickering light of his torch.
'Tower must have been built during some time of window taxation I guess. Does nothing for it's ambiance but lets not credit the dark with too much caution, the Captain will expect us to report on the entire tower when he gets here.'
Emil's audible gulp belied his freshly determined face as he made for the ladder.

They were carrying fire just like they always did. A skeletal sneer twisted onto the shadows face at the thought of them coming here with fire. They sought to destroy him, ruin his work, just as they always did out of their spiteful ignorance. It wouldn't let it happen, the shadow thought as it slunk down from the tower's pinnacle. It would have to kill the men, the shadow realised and for the first time in centuries the shadow remembered joy.


'They might not be wizard books Emil. Not like either of us can read them to see,' Hans replied looking at the quantity of dusty old books that had attracted his fellow's attention.
'This could be a wizard's skull though' Maus said from behind them displaying a small human skull with his typical panache .
'Should we tell the boss? That could be a dark sign.' Emil asked.
'Nonsense, the Count keeps a skull in his library, saw it once when the boss had me go get a decent map,' Maus retorted, placing the skull back on the table,
'Rich folk always have creepy stuff. No ritual knives of bloody runes of the dark gods yet,' he continued, laughing as he headed towards the next ladder.

The shadow plunged at the laughter, reaching at the man with spectral fingers, tearing through his being, rending at his soul. As it ploughed its hand and will into its victim it could taste the life that flowed through the man's veins.
'You disgust me.' The shadow spat, the words becoming a frosted glaze on his victims face before he dropped to the floor extinguished. The screaming drew the shadows attention away from the corpse just in time for it to realise that the tall one was throwing the lit torch at it.


'Boss! Boss!' Emil shrieked as he dived for the ladder leading down. Not stopping to climb down the ladder Emil took the sheer drop to the next level, screaming as he rolled over his ankle in landing.
'Don't help me. They're dead. Run!' he said pushing Tomas away even as the ranger sought to help him up.
'What is going-' Keiner started before the Shadow killed his question. The deathly spectre billowed down the ladder looming over the fallen Emil as it engulfed Tomas.

Light filled the room, causing Keiner's eyes to water and his head to pound as other worldly words filled the air, he fell to his knees overcome when a hand grasped his shoulder reassuringly.
'By Sigmar what was that?' the familiar voice of Captain Bacham asked as focus returned to Keiner's vision allowing him to see the corpses of his men.
'An impression created by the dark magic undertaken here.' The wizard Adalfans said wearily and Keiner wondered if that was a note of worry on his voice.

‘Hysh.' The shadow hissed, as it gathered itself again. For a moment it had felt the aching absence of its flesh and body, the void of life at its core became an unbearable pain.The wizard would have to die.
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Corrigan Phoenix » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:42 pm

Desecration 1135 Words
They would not give up. Again and again they plied their wares on him, driving him deeper and deeper into madness, but he would not give them the satisfaction of answers. The harsh white of the apothecarium was painful to his eyes, so he kept them directed up into the vaulted ceiling, his gaze amongst the swinging incense braziers that hung there. Other, thicker, rustier chains descended past the smoke-dispensers, attaching to machines and other implements his ravaged mind couldn’t imagine. The super-human lungs had lent his screams greater power; his own venting had tortured his ears repeatedly into deafness as it had reverberated around the chamber. A drawback of being super-human, he had come to realise in his more lucid moments, was that he healed so quickly. It was a blessing in battle, where every advantage counted, but here in the torture chamber it was a curse. His captor’s accursed inflictions healed within minutes, and his eardrums sealed themselves anew after only a short period of time, enabling the traitors to carve their way on his body. A mechanised whine alerted him, in a detached fashion that the entrance hatch had opened. So, it was time again. The irony of being restrained in his own apothecarium was not lost on him. With a mental shrug he allowed the madness to immerse his mind and carry him away.

White-hot, searing agony brought him back to his painfully astute senses. “So you’re awake, good. Let’s try this again...from the top. Where is the gene-seed stored?” The voice was familiar, but seemed distorted, as if voxed through a broken speaker grille. He kept silent though, still unsure if he knew the speaker or not. “Answer me, cur!” Another flash of pain and the sound of sizzling flesh rocked his body, but he frowned as he realised he couldn’t tell from where the pain came. It was something to think on, later perhaps. “Raise him up.” This was interesting; he had lain on his back since they had brought him here, never before had he seen his captors or been moved, at least not as far as his disjointed memories could discern. A whine of servos preceded a heavy jolt as the rockcrete slab was tilted, raising the room into view. What he saw shocked him to his core, so much darkness claimed him under the cover of a series of violent fits. “It seems there is only so much a loyal marine’s mind can take, Sevar.” The voice sneered, “But look, our guest has recovered already.” Opening his eyes, the visage that greeted him looked as if it had undergone the self-same tortures that he was experiencing now. Taking a moment to collect himself before answering, he reconciled himself to what he had witnessed. He was no longer a marine.

Instead he was an assortment of strung-up organs and body parts, suspended on hooks and trays that shook as his body attempted to heal damage that couldn’t be naturally undone. A detached portion of his mind admired the intricacy and care that must have gone into such a procedure to sustain his life whilst splaying his mass around the room. Somehow the entirety of his skin had been removed in one piece; scalp included, and was stretched taut by weights like a piece of leathery parchment. Upon it there were myriad symbols that strained his brain to look at, befouling his thoughts and searing his vision with unclean sigils. His muscles were displayed like trophies on bowled medical trays to better hold the blood oozing from each, the network of veins, arteries and nerves suspended above their associated organs, occasionally twitching as his life-force pulsed through them. Experimentally, he attempted to clench the former muscles of his fist. The thing in front of him, for it could no longer be called a marine, even generously, twisted its mouth into a snarling remembrance of a smile. “A specially-prepared concoction is being constantly applied to your system to keep you paralysed. Only subconscious actions work past the effects of the chemical, and those won’t save you.” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “And you will be ours, marine.”

He tried to shake his head, to move something, to get this forsaken traitor’s face away from his, by the Emperor he tried. Nothing happened. Despair fought to overtake him, but he mentally wrestled it down and replaced it with defiance. He would not give in. They would have to kill him. He opened his mouth, his head being the only intact part the traitors had left for him, and a rasping choke escaped his throat. His captor nodded thoughtfully to himself and turned to where his slave must have been standing behind the medical slab. “Sevar, fluids for our guests’ parched throat...our gifts to him must have dried him out.” A snuffling chuckle came from somewhere behind his head, followed by a sharp prick in his neck. Suddenly cool liquid was filling his throat, forcing reflex gulps down his oesophagus, and blessedly clearing the abrasive lining that had gathered there. With the hydration came a rational thought – he had just taken relief from traitors! His body convulsed as he retched; obviously the repulsion forced a reaction strong enough to break through the paralysis of the chemicals. With the heaving, he heard his own disjointed voice sound, and knew he could speak once again. Taking a large breath, he gathered himself and spat a globule of acidic bile into his captor’s eye, the resulting scream of pain sending recognition shocking through his mind as he watched the twisted chaos marine scrub at its now-dissolving eye. Pure rage cleared his mind as he gathered himself to preach to the defector.

“I see you, Erieth! I recognise your disgusting features now; I could not mistake that scream Brother.” He spat the word. “May the loss of your eye haunt you and remind you that a real Astartes stays true even through in death. I shall not join you, nor allow you the satisfaction of befouling my life: I shall end this desecration of His design.” He drew in a long breath and exhaled, roaring; “For The Emperor!” With all his might he bit down repeatedly on every part of his mouth he could reach, lips, tongue, cheeks, eventually gnashing his teeth so hard together to break them and rip apart his gums, filling his mouth and throat with blood to choke himself violently. He felt Sevar’s cold hands on his head as the servant struggled to save his life, his master still too concerned with his hissing eye to care, but the choking blood set off spasms too violent. His body shook and shuddered, ripping apart the splayed network of his system and spraying his life across the white tiles of his own surgical theatre.
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Mauthos » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:27 pm

Here is my offering, a little rushed as I had forgotten the window closed so soon, but I like the history of this one and thought it fitted the theme nicely. 1032 words of not necessarily my best work. But I like the challenge of RiaR, so here goes:

Her hip ached where the explosive round had nicked the ceramite plate causing it to buckle inward and to press uncomfortably against her leg. Her hair hung in damp rat-tail like strands, draping over the black pauldrons of her power armour, slick with sweat. The red cloth of her cloak was tattered and torn, ragged at the edges and covered with grit and dust and her dark grey bolter hung lightly in her hands. Her eyes gleamed in the half light as she forced sharp blasts of air out between tightly clenched teeth, lips surrounding them pulled back into a feral like snarl.

Canoness Josephine of the Order of Our Martyred Lady was exhausted, racked with pain, cornered and out of options, but grim determination kept her standing.

It had been a surprise assault; the Greenskins had emerged from the Boiling Sea, a seething wall of undulating muscle, and they had swiftly wrenched control away from the Sisters’, overwhelming them by sheer weight of numbers. They had been pressed back deeper into the tunnels of Hive Tempestora, doggedly fighting as they retreated, pushed further and further back by each subsequent Ork attack.

Now retreat was no longer an option, the great doors of the Sanctorum loomed ominously behind Canoness Josephine and the rest of her Mission. She must protect their sanctuary. She would sell her life dearly, as would the rest of her Sisters’ before they allowed the Sanctorum to be desecrated.

She glanced quickly up and down the line. The pauldrons of all her squad rose and fell as each sister heaved in great gasps of breath, red cloth swaying in the cooling breeze. The tension was palpable, flame and melta weapons held steady, bolters primed and aimed toward the hive tunnels. It wouldn’t be long now.

‘Waaaaaaagghhhh!’

The shout echoed dimly, swiftly drowned out by guttural roars, the staccato beat of random rifle fire and the drumming thuds of stampeding feet.

‘Steady. Hold the line Sisters.’ Canoness Josephine commanded eyes firmly fixed to the tunnels yawning mouth, light glinting within them.

Time seemed to slow as a glowing light softly illuminated the tunnels, the sound of the running feet reached a deafening crescendo and then the Greenskins spilled from the tunnel, disgorged in a disjointed chaotic mass.

‘Purify the Xenos beasts!’ Ordered Canoness Josephine.

As one the Sisters’ opened fire, bolter rounds careening toward their enemy, bright licks of flame erupting from the barrels of weapons, the purifying flame of the Emperor.

The first Orks fell in a splattering of flesh, surprised looks flickering across their bestial features as limbs were torn asunder. Yellowed teeth and tusks shattered and exploded, spraying bone fragments in wide pluming arcs. The head of one disappeared in a puff of green ichor, body continuing for a few steps until it crashed to a slithering halt mere feet from Josephine.

But the Orks were swiftly closing the gap, a clamouring tidal wave of thick corded green muscle, snorting blasts and clattering weaponry on armour. But that also meant that they were soon within range of the Sisters’ flamers, yet even as they were engulfed in gouts of flame they pressed onwards.

The smell of burning flesh drifted sickeningly, blackened corpses of Ork fallen smouldered in the half light, fat bubbling and hissing, the flesh flensed from their bodies slithering into green liquefied puddles. The stench was putrid and rotten causing more than one Sister to gag and wrinkle their noses.

Then they were on top of them, the huge bulk of the Ork mass pressing down upon them. Fetid waves of their animalistic odour washed over them as chainswords and axes roared into life. Blue sparks flared as the teeth of the powered weapons caught and chewed against each other, scraping over armour and biting deep into flesh to carve bone. The Orks bellowed and the Sisters screamed their defiance directly into the huge slathering jaws of the monstrous beasts.

But inch by inch they were forced back as the sheer weight of numbers threatened to crush them all against the doors of the Sanctorum.

‘Sisters! Purifying flame now!’ Canoness Josephine managed to bellow down her vox as her chainsword tore through the thick corded muscle of a Greenskin’s throat, peppering her pale and worn features with wet olive viscera.

Heedless of their own safety the Sisters of Battle responded immediately, reigniting their flamers and spraying the liquid fire in wide arcs at close range.

For a brief moment it brought them a respite. The Orks stumbled backward, weapons clattering to the floor as they clutched at melting eyes and ruptured blistered skin as the righteous fire stripped their flesh. Several of the Sisters though, fell too, engulfed in their own flame, but their resolve did not waver as bolters were brought to the fore and a volley of bolts peppered the blundering Xenos.

‘Waaaaaaagghhhh!’

This time the shout was a deafening roar that crushed all other sound under its power and magnitude. A fearful hush fell. Canoness Josephine strained to see over the mass of Ork bodies that had for a moment stopped their vicious onslaught.

Towering over the rest of the Greenskin horde was an enormous Ork, his bulk all but blotting out the mouth of the tunnel behind him. A huge war banner was bolted to his broad shoulders, a pair of red painted horns, and one muscled arm ended in a rusted mechanical claw. He roared again, globules of drool and spittle flinging wide and splattering against two huge blood drenched tusks that jutted from his lower jaw. One sharp and pointed, the other shorter, splintered and jagged, no doubt damage sustained from a previous battle.

Josephine recognised the Warboss. She had witnessed him breaking the ranks of her Order earlier, smashing through them as if they were nothing. There stood Warboss Nargrim and before him swarmed a mass of heavily armoured Ork Nobz, his personal elite retinue.

‘Hold the line,’ she whispered into the vox, ‘lay down your lives to protect the Sanctorum. Make them pay dearly.’ She thumbed the stud on her chainsword, felt the vibrations roll up her arm as it purred into life.

‘For the Emperor!’

‘Waaaaaaagghhhh!’
Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Rusk » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:42 am

Same as Mauthos, the deadline kind of crept up on me, so I ended up churning this out in a night. I may go over it and clean up grammar/spelling mistakes and whatnot tomorrow, but it'll remain essentially as it is. Cookie for anyone who can see the inspiration.

~~~

Desecration

The witch-hunter was waiting for them.

Heavily armoured psyk-guards, their features hidden behind augments and vox-meshes sewn into the skin of their faces, prodded the accused with their power-mauls, forcing them out of the commandeered arbites Rhino and into the artificial glare of the courtyard. More of the hunter's men, alongside the carapace-clad riot-guards and hive defence troopers, lined the short walk up to the gallows, keeping the clamouring crowds at bay.

The accused could see the high governor of the spire, watching from the balcony of his manor, overlooking the far wall of the rockcrete courtyard. He stood, resplendent in his silk burgundy tunic and golden jodhpurs, his withered, hunch-back frame supported by a hovering servitor on either side, their stonework outer shells sculpted into the forms of winged cherubs, holding compact autoguns in chubby hands. His two wives waited to one side, eyes downcast. The rest of the family household, from the clerk to the cook, were arrayed behind them. Arrayed to watch the execution of the accused.

The Rhino's psyk-guards began to move in from behind, corralling the accused towards the gibbet. There were twelve of them, clad in rags and the remnants of clothing shredded from months rotting in the depths of the spire gaol. Dust smeared their faces, and fresh lacerations criss-crossed their bruised skin, a product of the guards' treatment, as they made their way from the cells to the gibbet. One of the accused stumbled on a crack in the otherwise smooth rockcrete, and fell, smashing her knees on the ground. One of the psyk-guards pounced on her, reeling back his electro-whip and cracking it across her back. She didn't move. The guards looked at each other, the sunken eyes above their sutured vox grates squinting in confusion. After a moment's hesitation, one of them hefted the woman over her shoulder and marched in the weary wake of the accused.

The witch-hunter grinned at them. He was short, wiry, diminutive, only the gleam of his teeth and the glow of emerald eyes showing from beneath the cowl of his ochre robes. A short, simple wooden crossbow was slung over his back, and a pair of thin, twin-bladed daggers hung from the rope at his waist. The witch-hunter watched as his men hustled the accused onto the wooden stage of the courtyard's gallows, whispering to a local official, a tall, slender man in the brown leather synth-armour of the local arbites, the pips of a chastener patched onto his shoulder. The chastener nodded and unravelled the scroll clenched in his gauntleted fists.

“On the fifth day of the second month, the first year of the forty-first millennium,” the chastener read aloud, his voice amplified by the broadcasting mic embedded in his collar, “Kananur Hive Spire, Holstein II. Alize Demdike, you have been found guilty of witchcraft, consorting with daemons, desecrating the lands of the Holstinian High Basilica, and the murder of Henri Mitton. You have been sentenced to death. May the Emperor have mercy upon your soul.”

The pysk-guards stepped forwards and grasped the eldest of the accused, a ragged old crone whose hair had dyed white with age and whose face had withered from a life in the hive, bundling her towards the left-most noose hanging from the gallows, forcing her head roughly into the rope loop. The woman made no attempt to resist, and allowed them to tighten the rope around her neck.

“Alizebeth Device, daughter of Alize Demdike,” the chastener continued, “you have been found guilty of witchcraft, consorting with daemons, plotting to commit acts of heresy within the Spire, desecrating the lands of the Holstinian High Basilica, and the murders of Jaymes Robynsun, Jhonn Robynsun and Henri Mitton. You have been sentenced to death. May the Emperor have mercy upon your soul.”

The next of the accused was hustled towards their noose. This woman fought and kicked, screaming and spitting, protesting her innocence to the howling crowd gathered below. She had been set up, she claimed. The witch-hunter had framed her. One of the guards cracked her across the back of the head with her mace, knocking her to the ground. Dazed, she was unable to protest as she was heavy-handedly loaded into her noose, one of the witch-hunter's guards holding her in a firm grip.

The chastener's list continued. Device's children, Jaymes and Alizon, guilty of the consorting with their mother to curse the pedlar Jhonn Lawe. Ann Chattox and her child Redferne, guilty of burning a clay figure of the Emperor in the name of the warp. The Bulcock twins, for murdering local trader Jemma Deane with accursed sorcery. Alyce Nutt, Kathreen Hewitt, Alyce Gray followed. Finally, Jeny Pressly, the girl who had collapsed as they had exited the Rhino. The guards were unable to force her limp form into the noose, and after a minute's struggle dumped her down on the wooden deck. A pair of arbites dragged her body off-stage.

The chastener rolled up his scroll, and, after nodding briefly to the witch-hunter, turned and strolled away. The hunter clambered up onto the frame of the gallows, looking each of the accused hard in the eyes. Most stared back, or continued to stare into the distance, dead-eyed. A few dropped their gaze to the floor, unable to meet his piercing green eyes. The hunter paced leisurely from one end of the platform to the other, performing his role in the theatre of the damned, eventually reaching the far end and old lady Demdike.

Demdike thought she saw something in the man's eyes. Something other, something no-one else had seen. The hunter glared back, his features hidden in the shadows of his hood, and leaned in, his face inches from hers. She could feel his hot, foetid breath billowing against her battered cheeks.

“I have to say, your grandchild was most useful in cracking this case,” the witch-hunter murmured, voice barely audible above the baying crowd. “Little Jennet... she was most receptive to my needs. She will make a fine servant to me and my masters.”

“The Emperor will absolve me of my sins,” Demdike croaked. “There will be no respite for you, heretic.”

The witch-hunter smiled. “What makes you think I'm only a heretic? It was difficult, but the body of the witch-hunter makes a fine plaything.” He stepped away from the woman and straightened up, making a swift hand gesture to his men.

The last thing old lady Demdike saw, as the trapdoor lurched open beneath her feet and she dropped away into nothingness, was the glare of those horrible green eyes.

~~~

Words: 1108

Not sure if it fits nice and neatly into the theme, but I think there's enough there to make it relevant. Here's hoping. I'll get round to critiquing the others at some point, but it'll probably be after the competition deadline. Ah well.

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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Mauthos » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:53 am

Not 100% sure but think your inspiration came from the Pendle Witches and the Lancaster Witch trials. Pretty sure one of the women tried as a witch was called Demdike.
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby Rusk » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:44 pm

Cookie for you! Yeah, that may be one of the modules I might possibly be studying. It's twisted a bit, true, I'm pretty sure in the Lancaster trials that the witch-hunter wasn't, well, possessed, but I thought I'd mix it up a little bit.
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby J D Dunsany » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:30 pm

Looks like we're having a late surge of interest, which is all good.

I'm suffering with a rotten cold at the moment and haven't managed to get anything down for this, but this is nevertheless a gentle reminder that the comp closes tomorrow at 9.00pm GMT.

All the best!

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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby LordLucan » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:51 pm

Critical Juncture.




It was an unsettlingly swift task, destroying the work of thousands of years. Pulling up coloured tiles and slashing decorative fetishes and tapestries with blades was the work of a barbarian, but it was necessary. The air rang with the din of desecration; the mutilation of something glorious.

The high priest directed his minions with carefully controlled gestures. They attacked their precious works with a practised brutality; they had to make their actions believable. But Adervei Kal could mask his disgust no longer. The robed monk had already burned his fine gilded vestments in a huge pyre across town. He could not be expected to destroy all that their culture had produced.

Swiftly, dancing his way through crowds of his fellow co-religionists as they threw tar upon stained glass, he made his way directly to the High priest, who stood apart from his followers. Glorious robes were gone. Now he bore a drab cloak. He looked as if the lifeblood had been drained from him.

“Father, please! The heathens go too far! Is it not enough that we allow them to rule us? Must they trample the Creed into the dirt too?”

The Priest turned to Kal, his face weary. “It is His will.”

“He is kin. Surely you can lodge a complaint? The people will not stand for this! We could summon a riot; flood the street with the loyal. Let them know what they have awoken!” Kal pleaded, grasping the High priest’s robe. The man stared at Kal’s hand for a moment. The monk instantly let go.

Eventually, the Patriarch responded, as he stared through the last stained glass window. “His mind is set. We are to see the ‘light’. Your gestures would ring hollow, bringing nothing but a thousand dead protesters. The conquerors are powerful. They come here under the banner of friendship, but I have heard of what they do. I know men on worlds close by, who have seen them bring fire and destruction to their foes. They not only defeat them; they eradicate them. They purge them utterly...”

“It sounds almost as if you admire them,” Kal whispered, the seditious words stinging his song like a misplaced psalm.

The Priest was quiet for a moment, as he watched the vast statue of the Horned Prince being toppled by distant bulldozers. “I admire their purity of purpose I suppose. The Oppressor’s warriors are weapons, no more moral or immoral than a spear. But the tide is turning. We cannot fight this.”

“But we must!” Kal insisted.

“Enough! You once again over step your bounds. I shall see you in my chambers at sun down!” The High priest growled, turning his stare upon Kal. Kal felt as if his soul was flayed bare by the eyes of the Keeper of the faith. He was not one of the god-blessed seers, but his presence was irresistible as the tide. Kal swallowed, nodding mutely.

###

Kal returned as requested. His hood was pulled over his head as he silently made his way towards the chambers of his master. In the distance, the landing lights of the Oppressors’ vast ships were a constant ruddy glow on the horizon; and eternal dusk-light. Oh how he loathed them.

The High Priest’s estate was grand, but the great Monastery he occupied was spartana nd utilitarian, where before it was palatial. Scaffolding surrounded the bland towers now like skeletal coral, waiting to attach grand golden eagles to the structure. Would his Holiness truly abandon his flock? He was head of the Cult of Eight winds, the Horned Prince, and countless other denominations of the Old Faith; he could not be apostate. It was unthinkable.

Kal passed through security easily. Within minutes of walking, he stood before the central chamber, and pushed the old timber frame inwards gently. Inside, the High Lord of the Mysteries, the Great priest-King himself, sat amidst a veritable mountain of books, scriptures and vellum scrolls bound with red ink and razor wire. The wondrous musty stench of ancient knowledge filled his lungs like a fine spiced wine. Kal felt his knees go weak at the collected histories of his faith.

“This is...” he fumbled.

The old man before him smiled warmly. “Yes, child. I understand.”

“But you were burning the temple? I thought you would have burned these too.”

The Priest-King’s smile faded, as if it had never been there at all. “You thought I would destroy my religion? My own religion? Do you lack so little faith in me?”

“But father, the temples, I-“

“Baubles and symbols! They are ephemeral adornments, sacrificed as a Galom snake sacrifices its skin when a predator tries to catch it. It was a necessity. Those who come from terra may change our dress and our manners, but our spirit endures. The Gods cannot be so easily uprooted and destroyed. Ours is an old faith; perhaps the oldest. They are mankind’s basic impulses; elemental and eternal. No regime, not matter how powerful, can destroy rage, lust, power and the will to dominate! But you would have seen us throw ourselves upon the blades of the Oppressors! For what gain? Hmm?”

Kal involuntarily flinched. “I... I did not know. Forgive me father,” he began to weep, falling to his knees. His master bid him to rise, proffering his ring for Kal to kiss.

“Go forth and convert to this ‘Imperial Truth’. But know always that order is not the natural way of things. Soon, it will decay, for that is what order is want to do. Entropy demands it. Be patient, be vigilant. Our time will come.”

Kal was openly sobbing with joy now. “As you wish, my Lord Kor Phaeron.”

###

Kor Phaeron was alone. His face, so full of righteousness before his minions, was cold and dispassionate now. He withdrew a velvet sheet from across a jewel, which swirled with colour and moaned in deafening silence, undulating like a being of living fire.

“I know you have forsaken me,” he said calmly, his boundlessly evil eyes widening fractionally. “I am no psyker or daemon. I am but a man.”

He paused for a moment. “But I am a man poised at a vital juncture of destiny. I do not need you, oh Great Annihilator; I am a man at the height of his power. I am the adopted father of a demi-god in a new galactic order. If I choose I could, through mere inaction, doom you. I could turn Lorgar into the Emperor’s favourite son. I could watch the Imperial truth castrate you.
“In this singular moment in all of history, you need me more than you have ever needed anyone.”

The artefact rumbled, screaming and moaning and rippling with argue. It was a language of infinite complexity, yet Kor Phaeron could understand it perfectly.

“What do you desire?” it hissed and bellowed with the voice of countless billions/

“What does anyone who has everything desire?” he whispered. “I wish for more!”
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Re: Read In A Rush: Desecration

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:21 pm

And we're done. Voting thread will be up shortly.

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