Read in a Rush: Growth

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

Read in a Rush: Growth

Postby LordLucan » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:29 am

This is the official thread for posting stories for the November 2013 'Read In a Rush' Competition.


To enter the competition, you must write a story, set within 40K/Whf/Bloodbowl or a setting of your own devising, 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 is Haunting.

Audio scripts and their accompanying audio files are admissible. The format for presenting those scripts, however, is strict. Include the audio script, properly formatted (no spoiler tags, please), first. A link to the audio file should then be provided after the script.

Whether you're writing a prose entry or a script entry, you must provide a word count alongside the title of your work.

At the moment poetry entries are not admissible.

You should post your entries on or before the deadline of 2200BST on Friday 22nd November. 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.

We also have a suggestion thread here. Feel free to peruse it and post your thoughts on any and all things RiaR.

PLEASE NOTE. If you submit a story you are also committing to vote (and the custom here is that you vote for stories other than your own). Stories whose writers have not voted will be disqualified from the competition and their votes will not be counted.

All the best,

Grand Overlord, the one true RiaR Monarch, Lordlucan.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Read in a Rush: Growth

Postby Mossy Toes » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:00 am

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Doubt

1038 words

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The work is done, and the larger of the two mountains stands empty, scoured clean by the verminous human lice that were the servants of the Lords of Decay and the Mostrule Crull, their dread master.

It is the iron mountain, the honeycomb of humanity, and it looms kilometers into the sky, nearly alone on its blasted, polluted plain. A scum of hab blocks and manufactoria surrounds its base, but all are just as empty as the vast, cavernous mountain itself—emptied of their inhabitant's corpses by dint of massive labor.

Many of the cultists had survived the Lords of Decay's initial virus gassing as, forewarned, they had taken shelter in homemade hermetic shelters. Other had been disgorged by the Monolith of Woe, the monstrous, putrid space hulk that had brought the invaders here. Nevertheless, all are dead as well, now, and by their own hands.

But life is not extinct on this planet, though the Lords of Decay, have done their duty methodically and well. They have virus bombed the continents and poisoned the seas, cracked open the mountains with barrages, burned the forests, split the plains—then retreated back into orbit. Life on this planet persists in a single glowing spark.

It is in the heart of the second mountain, the smaller mountain that sits in the larger's shadow, in grotesque facsimile of the now-empty hive and dwarfed by its sheer scale. A mountain of blessed flesh that plays the foil of the iron mountain and illustrates the blasphemy it represents. A tremendous jest, a feast for the Grandfather, garnished with the willing bodies of those who had erected it. Two billion bodies are here heaped high, gathered over the weeks since the virus bombing into a monument, a temple, and a nursery.

And within the mountain, something lived. Something stirred. Something blossomed.

Deep, now, deep down where the corpses can not be distinguished from each other, crushed into a slow-congealing pulp by the immense mass pressing from above. Deep into the liquid core of this beautiful, genocidal shrine, where one soul yet lives.

This is the gift Mostrule Crull offers the Grandfather. He is alone on this so-recently thriving planet, the last living soul, buried at the heart of the flesh-mount and swaddled by the aegis of his terminator plate. This is his tribute and his sacrifice: his abject supplication for the hand of his sponsor and his plea for apotheosis. Is he not worthy?
In this crush of death, with so many souls wrenched forcibly from their bodies in so short a time, the veil between realities wears thin. Predators flock to the feast, and finding so delicate a buffet, arrayed with such rapturous worship... they cannot help themselves but to descend.

Crull knows this. He gambles his very soul, here, and should the Grandfather not be amused and extend His infinite compassion, his soul will be the eternal plaything of those encroaching entities. But should one be an emissary of the Most Unclean and Benevolent Nurgle, and should Crull pass its tests, then apotheosis will be his. He has blocked off all avenues of retreat or escape, personally tearing out his armor's teleportation beacon, to signify his committal to this cause.

He knows that an Imperial fleet races to this one-hive world in the Mentieth sector, small and unremarkable though it would otherwise seem, to attempt to catch the chariot of the Lords of Decay: the Monolith of Woe. By the time they arrive, this planet will truly be lifeless, one way or another, and the Monolith will be gone. The Imperials are a fleeting, ephemeral concern, though: outplayed and ignorant. They are unworthy of consideration, as he has often found them over the course of the Long War.

Already he hears the first whispers in his ears, the first beckoning whorls of chaotic energy that act as precursors to the greater entities that come, nosing their way gracefully through the warp toward this banquet, the scent of blood in their nostrils. They will tempt him and offer him false promises. He will have no way of knowing which, if any, offers the Grandfather's true blessing. He has faith, though, that he is worthy and shall be chosen—and if he is not, if he is so insignificant as to merit being discarded, it is only his just fate. In this galaxy, one is eternal or one is dust.

When—if—he is uplifted, he will grow. He will drink in the crushing liquid that surrounds him on all sides, sucking up the humanity of an entire world. He will bloat and rupture and from his ruptured flesh-sack he will be born anew to devour his own corpse and all that surrounds it: a feast fit for a true prince of the warp, and suitable to grant him his own principality among the denizens that there live; a feast empowering him to drive away the other scavengers that now circle; and prove his worth in the court of Nurgleth.

Or he will die. Horribly. Painfully. For an eternity.

The choice is coming: those who hate him and hunger to devour him now surround him. Is he not brave? Is he not mighty? Proud? Does he not deserve this reward? He feels a nascent pressure, the fulfillment of a promise he has felt the edges of since first he realized that the dark corners of the universe held more than the universe itself entire. A weight more crushing than the flesh-mount bears down on him—is he not worthy? Is he not devout? Humble?

He has slain warlords and godlings, generals and alien emperors. He has seen Terra burn and slain an ork warboss the size of a main battle tank. He has fought the Imperium across its length and breadth for ten thousand years—or indeed, longer, having once spent three millenia in the warp and returned to realspace the day before he left. But he has never felt so suffocated; trapped; bound by his own designs and crushed by something so much more vast than he could have imagined.

Something comes, something comes, and it stirs beneath his flesh—but what is it?

Oh great Nurgle, what is it?

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What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Read in a Rush: Growth

Postby TunnelRat68 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:51 pm

Growth of nothing…

Re-bro station Epsilon-D4C was as remote a location as you could have within the Imperium, without being outside the known Imperium itself. Duty here was routine and terminal. Servitors that manned the station were loaded on the maintenance run and programmed to take over as the previous one failed or the consensus dropped below three out of three. However in this instant there was no need for a consensus as the incoming signal for re-bro into the Imperium was simple, noise. White noise, black noise, light, darkness, all and everything but equally nothing at all.
No sooner was the signal received than it was auto forwarded to the next series of stations deeper into the sector and Imperium. As it bounced from re-bro to re-bro it was amplified and increased in volume, resonance and frequency. It covered every possible manner of communication, flooding the astropathic choir, radio, data and even deep space limited access burst transmission methods.

The phenomena is unheard of and the impact is telling for a race that relies on communication between living beings for all aspects of its survival. As the noise rolls in from the edge of the Imperium, fear rapidly grows before the tide and engulfs those behind with wide scale unrest and riots on the more advanced planets and general disbelief on the lesser colonies.

The ecclesiarcy increased their sermons in reassurance, but with little effect, as only those present could hear, the re-bro stations on and off planet overloading with the noise. Minor cults enact their long practised death oaths and many fear that their God Emperor has abandoned them. It doesn’t take long for the woes of all humanity to be amplified to fill the void that the overpowering noise has created.

Before the tide of noise, a smaller tide of refugees, rich enough to buy a flight, flow out from the outer reaches converging on the segmentum capital planet, Haumea, seeking salvation or onward travel and escape. But as the noise travels in-system it increases in speed and rapidly overtakes any form of human transport. Deep space travelling ships burst from the warp in full transmission mode and then disintegrate or explode as their systems overload killing thousands of souls and adding their psychic death cries to the noise. Astropaths in the path of the noise were fried from the inside out as they tried to relay the tortured transmissions from across the system, in some sectors whole astropathic houses were eliminated as they communed. And so it swept forward, inward towards the heart of the Imperium, unstoppable.

Then it stopped.

Then nothing.

Not a word.

Not a bleep.

Not an image.

Not a sound.

Nothing.

The system was, for all intents and purposes, dead.

From the heart of the Imperium, Terra itself, came inquisitive calls and signals trying to penetrate the system. But nothing could find any purchase and not a single reply was heard, even with every possible device tuned in at maximum gain and the highest skills applied to the task.

The silence lasted almost one complete Terran month, with any and every attempt to seek answers resulting in nothing, neither response or reason. Physical investigation was just as final, no answers, death the only result.
Then without warning one of the original re-bro station came back online and transmits a single word “Silence!”.
The next station to come back online was adjacent and started to transmit the same single word, “Silence!”, in perfect synchronism. The rest of the segmentum came back on line one station at a time, adjacent stations or planets or ships gradually spreading out in a radial pattern from the initiating station.

No matter the method, the Imperium continues to fail in every attempt to make contact with any living being from anywhere within the segmentum. The Mechanicus, Astropaths, Librarians and Chaplains of the highest forms are equally defeated in any attempt to prevent it’s spread. Then just as the whole system was coming back online, if a single rhythmic word could be considered online, it stopped again.

The nothing was the same as the first, but in reality it was so much worse, deeper, wider and absolute, in effect more nothing. But the wait, though more intense was shorter, much shorter, and ended the nothing in a simple but catastrophic manner.

The initial re-bro station began to broadcast again “Silence!”. As each station came back online, the same word “Silence!” came in synch with the previous and all others before. However, there was one difference, each ring that completed, ratcheted up the volume, no change to the word or the frequency or tone, just louder and louder.
As the final ring of stations come online the “Silence!” was beyond comprehension and penetrating deep into unaffected space, interfering with the natural order of Astropaths and stellar transmissions that made up the lifeblood of the re-connected Imperium.

Then as the final station came online, it did so with that single word “Silence!”. There was anything but.

As it did so, it completed the parabola, focusing the single word from each station inwards to the centre, initial re-bro. From the furthest reaches of the Imperium, re-bro station Epsilon-D4C then beamed that single word outward along a very precise bearing, a return bearing. The word’s speed and volume were now at a level immeasurable to humanity and it was headed directly to the heart of it. When it arrived there would be silence no more.

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Re: Read in a Rush: Growth

Postby Rusk » Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:41 pm

The Birth of the Biahry Rebellion: A Short History

Doctor Sheus L. Biahry, later known as the Tyrant of the Biahry Cluster and the mastermind behind the uprising that consumed the planets of the cluster and even threatened the subsector governor’s seat on Cade, rose from relatively obscure origins to become the monster that was eventually defeated by a combined Imperial Guard and Space Marine taskforce that cost the Imperium almost a hundred thousand lives. Throughout his short rule, Doctor Biahry allied himself with xenos mercenaries, rogue traders of the worst description, even worshippers of the Ruinous Powers themselves in an attempt to manage his evil empire (T. Thorsten. Sheus L. Biahry; A Case Study, Holstein, 019.M41, pp. 47-50). What were the driving motives behind Doctor Biahry’s rise to power, inspiring him to subvert millions of once-loyal citizens of the Imperium to his cause? Truthfully, nobody besides Biahry himself will ever know for sure. Analysts have suggested that he was driven by the marginalising he was subjected to by his father and uncles (Ibid., pp. 20-21), whilst others suspect that he was corrupted by the rogue Inquisitor Scent, alive and at large in the subsector during the crisis (G.T. Etto, Cataclysms of the Early Kobalt Sector, Cade, 024.M41, p. 354). Whatever the reason, it is certain that Doctor Biahry was a blight upon the Outskirts Subsector during the early 41st millennium, and a classic example of how even the most minor of characters in the grand scheme of Imperial politics can grow to become a hated enemy of the Imperium, and that we must all remain on our guard.

Born in the late 960s M40, Sheus Ang was the lone child of Leonart Ang, cousin to Baron Bryce Biahry, the head of House Biahry and the ruler of the cluster from which his family took its name. When most of the Ang family perished in the Oruka Refinery explosion of 969.M40, Sheus was adopted by the Biahrys, and catapulted into the world of high politics. Despite this sudden elevation, Sheus was still behind Baron Biahry’s seven sons and daughters in the line of succession, and it looked like there he would stay. Sheus was a brilliant individual, but he was never going to rise to planetary governorship. Nor did he seem to have any aspirations to run for office. Along with his step-brother Galeck, Sheus spent nine years serving with the Foulan 99th Stormtrooper regiment (Official Graduation List, Schola Foula Vol. CCXXXVII), before returning to Sheklay, the ancestral home of the Biahrys, and receiving a doctorate in military history and propaganda studies from Oruka High University (Thorsten. Sheus, p. 23). Sheus was seemingly expanding into the academic realm, but there was a swift reversal in the second year of the new millennium when Doctor Biahry, aided by members of the Sheklay PDF – led by discharged members of the 99th Stormtroopers (G. Wynham, The Shame of Foula: Traitors to the Homeworld, Foula, 025.M41, pp. 140-144) – ransacked the governor’s palace and murdered Baron Biahry (Thorsten, Sheus, p. 31).

The Baron, his wife, and five of his seven children were killed by Sheus and his accomplices – accomplices who included in their number Olivena Wrahk, the one-time associate of Inquisitor Scent, lending credit to the Scent corruption theories (Etto, Cataclysms, p. 354) – with their corpses stripped and strung up from the manor’s spire. Only Galeck Biahry, away on duty with the 99th Stormtroopers, and Heiber Biahry, leading an ecclesiarchal expedition to Zephyr, escaped the purge. One would assume that there would have been a public outcry at the news of the Biahry family’s murder – Bryce Biahry was by no means an unpopular governor – but the Sheklay public was surprisingly mellow. Whether this was because of Doctor Biahry planting agents in the worker community to dissuade any armed uprising, or darker, more nefarious means, remains to be seen; the Sheus Biahry regime was certainly not afraid of dealing with psykers and chaos cultists, able to infiltrate and subvert the minds of the weak and the unclean, exemplified in his dealings with the Sllaatek coven on Kannuck (H. Branislav, The Kannuck Trade War: A Re-Examination, Kannuck, 020.M41, pp. 27-34). There is no solid evidence to suggest that tactics similar to what was employed on Kannuck were used on Sheklay, however. Sheus Biahry was a respected figure in the planet’s popular culture, so it is possible that the doctor secured dominion over the island world through dint of personality.

From its birthplace in Sheklay, the Biahry “Empire” spread across the cluster over the course of the next three years. Biahry had been funding several clandestine underground movements on the planets of Socrate 17, Poltgrad and Pafen, and employed a warband of Blood Axe orks, supplemented by soldiers of the Sheklay PDF and Sheklite volunteers, to capture the planets that held out against his subterfuge. Only the jungle world of Jerma II managed to resist conquest by Biahry’s forces entirely, thanks to the strength and guerrilla tactics of the Jermanic jungle fighters, but their planet was essentially overrun. Doctor Biahry had spread his influence across the cluster, and was posed to strike against the subsector spine and the coreworlds.

It was a combination of two factors that convinced Subsector Governor Nascour to authorise a counter-strike to retake the taskforce. Firstly, Biahry, or at least it was assumed to be Biahry, sent an assassin after Nascour to murder the governor in his own home. There had been rumours that the assassin was actually a vat-grown clone sent after Nascour by a member of the Inquisition to spark the governor into action, as he had been largely indifferent to the growing conflict in the eastern reaches of his domain up until then, but the Inquisition and the arbites were quick to stamp out these whisperings (Etto, Cataclysms, pp. 380-382). Secondly, the planet of Kannuck, an important trade port positioned on the crossroads between the Biahry cluster, the subsector spine, and the nearby Phileas Subsector, was attacked by chaos cultists funded by Doctor Biahry, aided by a squad of Death Shadows Traitor Marines. The presence of the Death Shadows drew the attention of the Silver Skulls and Brother-Captain Iacen, who joined several prominent Guard generals in petitioning for a crusade to retake the cluster. Nascour, shaken by the attempt on his life and the pressure of the Silver Skulls Marines, agreed to the petitioners’ demands (Ibid., p. 383). On the 150th day of the seventh year, M41, Lord General Aswerthy was charged with raising a taskforce to cleanse the Biahry Cluster of its secessionist infestation and presenting Doctor Sheus L. Biahry’s head to him on a platter.

Words: 1,106

~~~

Crept in just before the deadline. My attempts to get me in an essay-writing mood. And practice endnotes.
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Re: Read in a Rush: Growth

Postby LordLucan » Sat Nov 23, 2013 12:36 am

Ok, the comp is now closed for this month. I'll get the voting thread up tomorrow probably.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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