Wednesday, 20 July 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 8

Hi again, this time the final instalment in the short story series. This one features the War Hounds fighting alongside the Blood Angels, in another 'co-op' based story. It's interesting that the World Eaters predecessors, the War Hounds, seem to have quite a lot of interest from the fan community. I wonder if anyone has any ideas in terms of colour scheme or iconography? Or else even has an army that they have been working on? If you do, please leave a comment and I'll write a feature on them in some point in the future. Until then..

Of Hounds and Angels

By Matthew Roy

THE BLOOD ANGEL drank deeply as his fangs tore into the rebel’s throat. He hefted the ruined corpse and flung it down the slope, pressing onward with his warriors. They had holstered their bolters, preferring to advance against the dying enemy with their blades drawn…

HALF A KILOMETRE away at the base of the escarpment, Captain Sorik raced ahead of his World Eaters company brethren. The last of the rebels were dying upon his battle-brothers’ chainblades, and Sorik wanted to make sure that his sword drank deep of their heathen blood before the battle was done.
A clumsy and desperate man charged at him, blade drawn, and Sorik turned the awkward lunge aside with his chainsword. He brought his weapon around, aiming not at his enemy’s weapon, but at his gauntleted hands. His weapon shrieked as it tore through the ornamental hand guard and chewed the rebel’s fingers to shreds. The warrior let out a muffled cry, dropping his weapon. Another slash, and Sorik took the man’s head from his shoulders.
He felt his berserk rage cooling. He could smell rich blood through his helmet’s open respirator grille. He paused; no, it wasn’t through his respirator. He brought his hand to his face, realising that his helmet was missing. He frowned. He couldn’t remember taking it off. He turned around, backtracking through the scene of slaughter behind him as his warriors busied themselves with sawing heads from bodies and tying them to their belts. Sorik found his helmet some fifty metres back, half buried in a tangle of bloody limbs that had once been a man. Apparently he had used the helmet to beat the rebel to death.
He couldn’t remember doing it. He frowned again. He was losing time more and more often during battles.
On the slope above, he watched a company of red-armoured Astartes as they tore through the last of the defenders, dismembering the enemy soldiers at close quarters in a stunning display of violence.
‘Brother-Captain Cretac, of our cousins in the IX Legion,’ said Fanin, the company’s standard-bearer. Sorik turned to his subordinate. Fanin had also removed his helmet, and thick blood covered his face. It took Sorik a moment to realize the warrior had smeared most of it on himself. Fanin nodded back up toward the warriors on the slope. ‘They call his company the “Flesh Tearers”, sir.’
Sorik nodded in grim amusement at what the Blood Angels were capable of when they allowed the facades of culture and civilisation to fall away from them.
The vox-link in his helmet chirped as he put it back on. ‘All company commanders, this is the Eighth Captain. We will bring our fury against the heretic stronghold. The Tenth and Thirty-third companies will have the honour of leading the jump-assault, supported by the Blood Angels.’ This order came from Kharn, the primarch’s equerry. Sorik’s warriors bowed their heads reverently as the Eighth Captain spoke.
Of course they all wanted to be like Kharn.
One of the company’s Rhinos trundled up from the rear lines, and the Techmarines unloaded jump packs from the cargo frames inside. Sorik studied them as they worked. Early in his training with the legion, he had been earmarked to join the ranks of the armourium for his intelligence and aptitude. His leadership and combat prowess had been recognised however, and over time he had risen to command the 33rd Assault Company instead.

He glanced back up the slope. He had been forced to work with the Blood Angels during this mission. Their haughtiness grated on him, and he found their hypocrisy troubling; they fought with just as much savagery as the World Eaters, and yet the Blood Angels were beloved – even romanticized? – by the Imperium, while his own legion were reviled as barbarians.
Iterator Igram Severn had said the rebels on this planet would face the unbridled fury of the IX and XII Legions, and that both were known for their savagery in close combat. Sorik and the other World Eaters liked Severn; while he wasn’t Astartes, he was a veteran of the Imperial Army, his body more augmetic than true-flesh. Few iterators and remembrancers were assigned to the XII Legion’s fleets. They had a bad habit of disappearing, and the legion’s senior leadership had always remained quiet on the matter.
Up ahead, a war party came into view – a Blood Angels honour guard and a pack of World Eaters shadowed two massive figures. Sorik had seen six primarchs in his life, but was still awed by their presence. He had heard it said that each of the primarchs echoed an aspect of their father’s greatness. If that was the case, then Sanguinius and Angron were most likely the opposing aspects of His combat prowess. The former was a gilded poet in warrior’s garb; the latter was a true manifestation of fury, terrible and absolute.
Word was that Angron would be entering the city behind the advance guard. Oh, what grand violence he would doubtlessly unleash upon these rebels.

JUMP PACKS ROARED as his company launched into the air. Las-bolts and solid slugs flew past the warriors and pattered off their armour plate. Sorik crunched down onto the city wall, his sword ending the lives of two of its guardians in a flash.
What makes the Angels better than the Hounds? What makes them so beloved, and us so hated? Exalted in their hypocrisy, their sense of the aesthetic, their role as warrior poets. He dodged a point-blank lasgun blast and smashed a man’s skull with a quick backhand.
Cretac and the Flesh Tearers had landed a hundred meters to Sorik’s right. He watched the Blood Angel assault troopers revel in their slaughter of the wall guardians. Here at least, were men who embraced what they truly were. Instruments of death. Killers of men.

They say this is a godless galaxy. That is the truth our iterators speak to the populations we conquer and assimilate. But what if there are gods watching us, as these heathens believe? Could there even be a god that smiles upon what we do?
Some mythical god of war, perhaps?
Some sort of brazen blood-god?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 7

This will be most likely the last in the short story series, unless a few other people I have written to get back in touch and give me permission to post on this site (for anyone reading this that's a big hint, it's a bit weird why anyone would say no! ^^). A little bit different to the other, predominantly Heresy-era shorts, this story focuses on the Legion in their guise as the 'War Hounds' during the earlier days of the Crusade, fighting alongside the White Scars (giving me an excuse to post this cool piece of bike-related art from the CCG game).

White Hot

By Michael Vincent (aka Vinnie)

THROUGH THE WHIRLING dust cloud that had filled the heavy atmosphere of the city, he watched the assault squad of the War Hounds legion descend on roaring columns of flame. Dropped from a Stormbird, the Astartes reinforcements came not before time. However confident of victory he happened to be, ten snarling chainaxes were always an appealing addition to one’s efforts.
Suddenly, a heavy armoured vehicle bearing the heraldry of the dissenting nation lumbered around the buttressed corner of the city wall. It had the snub nosed muzzle of its formidable looking main turret raised, and the crew clearly intended to eliminate the War Hounds before they made planetfall.
He smiled at the sight of this new target. It had been nearly forty seconds since he had teleported into the warzone and he had not yet engaged, mainly due to the lack of enemy units in the vicinity. He wasn’t sure whether to chastise his teleport operators for dropping him into a dead sector, or congratulate his Astartes warriors for making one.
But now it was time to get his hands dirty. Time to make his presence known.
Jaghatai, Great Khan and Primarch of the Vth Legion, cricked the tendons in his neck, flexed his immense gauntleted hands, and loped into a thundering charge. Even if what passed for auspex technology on the enemy vehicle detected his approach, there was no way any turret could traverse quickly enough to do anything about it.
‘For the Scars, and for the Emperor!’ the Khan bellowed in the flowing, affricative tongue of Chogoris. He drew his glittering qhatan blade, forged from the hardy ores of his homeworld, and threw himself shoulder first into the side of the vehicle.
It was not large by the standards of many battle tanks he had seen in his time at the Emperor’s side: perhaps thirty-five tons. It shifted with the impact. Not far, but far enough.
A blistering stream of tracer fire erupted from the barrel of its main weapon, hissing past the War Hounds squad at a distance of no more than a few inches. Yes, thought Khan, far enough.
A periscopic device appeared almost comically from the top hull of the tank. Jaghatai brought the palm of his hand down hard on top of it, and was rewarded with a muffled scream of agony from within. Grabbing the edges of the periscope cavity, the Primarch hauled himself on top of the vehicle and sprang towards what he knew was the commander’s hatch.
The vehicle began to move, jerking in and out of gear, attempting to dislodge their assailant. A mortal man might have been pitched from the hull, but not the Khan – a lifetime spent hunting game on the uneven peaks of the Khum Karta mountains; and riding first the powerful tahki warhorse and then later the Astartes assault bikes; all had given the Primarch reflexes that defied comprehension. Sometimes, to a mortal, they might even appear prescient.

Riding the juddering vehicle like he would a bolting horse, Jaghatai Khan grasped his blade with both hands and drove it hilt-deep down into the armour of the command hatch. Swinging his massive form, he wrenched the blade sideways into what he hoped would be the driver’s compartment.
Tortured metal screamed as it peeled into ribbons, booming as welds in the superstructure gave way. The vehicle stalled and trundled to a halt.
With a squeal and a clang, a trooper bearing a heavy energy pistol emerged from a hatchway behind Khan. The Primarch turned and was ready to dive from the path of the inevitable shot, but the trooper was cut down by bolter fire before he could level his weapon.
Khan peered around, and saw the War Hounds assault squad sprinting toward the tank, smoke rising from their pistols. He leapt down from the top of the tank.
‘My gratitude to you, War Hounds.’ He spoke in their common High Gothic, ‘I was very nearly injured.’
The squad’s sergeant stepped forward. ‘My Lord, it was our duty and our pleasure.’ Khan regretted that he did not know the warrior’s name.
There was another noise from the disabled tank. A terrified crewman pushed open a side hatch and was scrambling out on his hands and knees. One of the Astartes hopped forwards and slammed his power boot into the hatch, effectively crushing the man’s midsection in the jamb. With a twitch, the crewman vomited bloody tissue onto the ground and died.
Khan punched the locking mechanism of the hatch, the inhuman strength of his blow buckling the metal and effectively sealing the port. Cries and hammering erupted from within as at least two more crewmen panicked and scrabbled for escape.
The War Hounds sergeant cocked his helmeted head, as if listening. He was, but not to the doomed men.
‘My lord,’ he looked to Khan, ‘We have orders to assist in contesting a vital strongpoint to the west.’
‘Indeed,’ replied the Primarch. He nodded to the enemy tank. ‘Torch that before you go, would you?’
‘If you intend to head westwards, we will be honoured to accompany you,’ the sergeant said.
The Khan felt slightly uneasy. He still struggled to comprehend the reverence with which he was treated by Astartes of his brothers’ legions – to his own Scars he was a beloved commander and respected leader, not an object of veneration.
A clanking rumble from behind them drew his attention. It was another enemy tank approaching.
‘No,’ he said with a dark smile, ‘I think I shall be fine here.’
‘Yes, my Lord!’ With a nod of the head, the sergeant unclipped a melta bomb from his belt and clapped it to the side of the vehicle before leading his Astartes into the scorched sky with a roar of turbofans.
Jaghatai Khan stepped back, and with a bright flash the tank crumpled outwards, everything inside immolated. The sound was almost desultory, but the effect was inarguable.
He turned to face the thunder of the oncoming tank, and cricked his neck again.
For the Emperor, he thought, and grinned.