Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another tale from the Great Crusade

Well it's that time of year again, when over at The Great Crusade we run our annual Short fiction contest.
I figure that the more who know about it the better, so I'm here to spread the word.

Well I know that I have posted one of my entries on here before, and figured that I should do it again.
Letting you all have an advance sneak peek at what I'm going to submit this year.
I haven't formally submitted this yet so any feedback or errors that you point out, can be remedied.
Which also turns you all into proof readers, Ha ha!

So be sure let me know what you think.
Anyway enough rambling, I now present to you:

Adopted by Wolves 
A Tale of the Great Crusade by Yvraith (aka. Chris Barton)

I remember looking out over the lush green pastures, hills covered with trees, trimmed back just enough to give us room to cultivate our crops and raise livestock. I was only ten summers old. As the first of our twin suns dawned that day, who could have known that mere moments later, our utopian vista would be torn asunder, rent with smoking craters, crops ablaze and the stench of burning flesh filling the once clean air.

It was shortly after everything in my life had been obliterated, that I first saw them. At first I thought them machines; seven feet tall, bulky armoured forms, carrying devices that spat fire and death. I was one of the lucky ones, though I did not know it at the time. I was not the focus of their ire.

Unbeknown to me, our planetary governor had refused to join our planet to what was being tentatively dubbed “The Imperium of Man” and had hidden the bulk of our local military might in a compound in the depths of the neighbouring forest.
These “Gods of War” had been deployed to neutralise the potential threat, with a precision strike. Unfortunately our farm was the designated drop zone.

Obsidian seed shaped pods now dotted the once lush terrain and hundreds of the white armoured giants, swiftly deployed and engaged targets that only they could identify. The dull thud of muffled explosions and piercing screams of pain proved how efficient they were.

I cowered in a crater, in a puddle of my own urine, crying and cringing as the snap of projectiles sounded overhead. Our military responded, but their efforts were futile. It seemed like the conflict had gone on for days, yet as the sound of battle slowly quietened and then ceased, I looked at my chronometer; it had only lasted a little over an hour. I wiped my now snotty nose with the back of my hand and fiercely blinked away tears.

I gathered my courage and cautiously stood to survey what an hour of hell had done to my family’s once serene homestead. The house and barn were a clustered pile of broken stone and smouldering timbers. I cast my gaze across our once lush pastures and not a single animal from our numerous herds remained standing. What was left of their carcasses was already being squabbled over by crows.
What do I do now? I thought.

Then a heavy gauntlet fell on my shoulder, the weight of it nearly pushing me onto my knees. I twisted in an attempt to break free of its firm grip.

“Settle down, lad. I’ll not hurt you,” a slightly metallic male voice said, distorted by his helmet's vox system.

I stopped struggling, knowing that if he wanted me dead, I would have been already.
I turned to look upon my captor.

He raised his hands to his helmet, flicked the release catches and twisted the helmet free. To my surprise, he was human, but how large his features were. By taking off his helmet, his presence seemed to grow, projecting an aura of greatness which was not apparent before. My shock must have been obvious and he laughed. Beyond him, I could see others moving toward us, alerted to his discovery. I blushed with the shame of them knowing that I had pissed myself in terror.

“What are you doing out here lad?” My captor asked in a proud voice.

At first I struggled to find my voice, so intimidating was his aura. He smiled down at me encouragingly.

“This is... Was, my home,” I answered slowly.
“I apologise for the destruction of your home, but we needed to prepare the ground for our drop and could not take the risk that your farm was an ambush site.”

I nodded dumbly in response, wishing fervently that I was somewhere else, that he would just let me go. To where I didn’t know, any place other than here.

“What have you got there, Commander?” one of the other War Gods asked.
“A battle orphan. It seems we destroyed his home and family with our preliminary bombardment,” my captor replied.

It was then that I realised my captor wore slightly different armour to the others. He was bigger too; head and shoulders taller than the War God who came to stand at his side. The new arrival’s armour was a glossy black, with a golden trim on the shoulder pads. A symbol that I couldn’t discern due to my childish stature, adorned his left pad. My captor’s armour was pearly white, trimmed in white gold. A great red eye stared at me from his breastplate.

“The perimeter is secure. Torgaddon’s Company is mopping up what’s left of their forces.” the new comer stated.
“Good. Continue on as planned, Ezekyle. I’ll be with you shortly.”
Ezekyle nodded and moved away.

My captor turned to regard me once more.
“What are we going to do with you?” my captor mused.
“You could let me go, Sir.” I stammered.
“Indeed. But I think I have another plan for you, little one. Would you like to be one of us?”
“I don’t think that I could be Sir.” I hung my head in shame. “I was frightened when the battle occurred.”
“If you join us, you need never be scared again. You can travel the stars at our side,” my captor assured me with a smile.

My mind whirled with the possibilities. I was certain a nearby farmstead would take me in. But did I wish to stay here, digging in the dirt for the rest of my life? Maybe one day get married, raise a family and have my children continue to follow in my footsteps? How depressing.  A sense of adventure bloomed in my chest; the lure of travelling the stars was intoxicating. I had reached my decision.

“I accept, Sir.”
“Good. What is your name, lad?”
“Sejanus, Hastur Sejanus.”