So…. It’s 4am here in Paris , and i was going through the submissions I’ve sent to Black Library hoping to be selected to work with them Had to send a thousand words extract from one or several short stories . I’ve decided to share one of those extracts here, feel free to let me know what you think about it . Just so you know, it’s better to be familiar with the W40k universe ( If you don’t know what w40k is , you probably aren’t. )
Short Story extract : Traitor
The cold, howling wind whipped his bare face, the baleful sound only adding to the drama of the moment. He did not feel the freezing air like a regular man would, but a powerful gust now and then was enough to make him grit his teeth and narrow his eyes – not enough to make him loose sight of his target even for a split second. He raised his weapon again, the muzzle of the gun still smoking from the last two consecutive shots. His victims still laid there on the other side of the chasm, sprawled on the snow over a pink carpet of their own blood on each side of his enemy. Their death had been swift, but for some reason he was unable to bring himself to pull the trigger a third time. He snarled, hating himself for such a show of weakness. Hesitation was death on the battlefield, and the only reason he was still breathing was thanks to his opponent being unarmed. Instead one of his hands was outstretched over the abyss, palm open towards him, while the other one was slowly disengaging the seals of his helmet. Seeing the hesitation in the killer’s eyes, he took it off in a hiss of pressure to reveal features not unlike the man who was currently holding him at gun point; His face was that of a human but oversized, as if touched by gigantism. Hard, storm-grey eyes were staring at the gunner and his head was bare but for a short crest of dark hair. Two silver studs were embedded in his brow above his left eye, reflecting the rare sunrays that managed to pierce the snow storm.
“Do not do this, Kervan.”
He kept his left hand opened before him, as if it was the only thing preventing Kervan from shooting. He gently put down his battle helm on the snow, freeing his other hand as he kept on talking.
“What happened here is … regrettable, but you are still my brother. We can fix this. You’re confused, but I know more than anyone that you are a good man. It does not have to end in bloodshed “
Sergeant Kervan seemed to ponder over this for a second, his eyes going from the bolter in his hands to the bodies of his former battle-brothers, to finally stop upon the figure of his captain. For a second, he glanced upon his silver shoulder guard displaying a stylised Red cross framed in gold, the livery of the Fire angels 4th Company – his company. He shook his head slowly, his gaze diving into his captain’s.
“Yes, Captain Nostra, It does. None of us can’t ignore what happened today, as much as both of us know only one of us is going to walk away. You are wrong. You were all wrong. You have been deceived, and as much as it tears my soul apart I must end this treachery now”. Kervan closed his eyes for a second, reliving the day’s event. It was this place, everything changed when they came here. He opened them, and remembered how it all started as his finger slowly pressed the trigger.
Angros V, Coordinates 62.16, Eighteen hours before.
“Captain Nostra to the Flaming Redemption, do you copy? I repeat, Nostra to Flaming Redemption, do you receive? For Terra’s sake, Garrus can you bloody hear me?? “
“Still nothing? “
Nostra lifted up his head to discover the friendly face of sergeant Kervan, a remarkable battle-brother and a close friend since they both were induced into the chapter. Kervan and he knew each other for dozens of years, the two boy hailing from the same under hive slum on their home world of Lorin Alpha, recruiting grounds of the Fire Angels. He greeted him with a nod, and took the offered hand to stand up.
“Still nothing, brother. The vox is a mess, nothing but static to listen to and I am unable to reach either the cruiser or the rest of the strike force. I hope Dematro and Hoyt are faring better and somehow managed to link up.”
Kervan was staring outside, and Nostra followed his gaze to a world of white. They had established a makeshift outpost in the ruins of a hab-centre, temporary shielding the squad from the snow storm raging outside. Far away in the distance the large, silvery form of their drop-pod was half covered in snow, its exposed tip shining like a beacon when sunlight reflected on its metallic surface. They had made planetfall barely half an hour earlier and already the pod was almost disappearing under the relentless snow.
“Do you think it’s the storm? “ Kervan asked absently about the vox, without taking his eyes off the pod. The space marine captain turned to face his friend, noticing the typical look on his face. “You always do that “, said Nostra. This time, the sergeant turned to enquire. “Do what? “
“That. You ask a genuine question even though you already have an unshakable opinion. You don’t think it’s the storm, do you? “
Kervan chuckled under his breath, putting an armoured hand on his captain shoulder guard. “You see through me way too easily, old friend. No, I don’t think it’s the storm. As powerful as it may be it’s just a snow storm, and the ship surveyors didn’t detect any electro-magnetic or even psychic activity about it. It may affect visibility and squad to squad communications, but orbital transmissions are way more powerful. But still, I was interested in your opinion too.”
The captain was about to answer when he noticed one of his men walking towards him at a fast pace. The newly arrived saluted both officers, before taking his helmet off. His face was grave, and his voice heavy with concern. “Brother- Captain, Sergeant. Kestros and I were up there trying to reach the Redemption, when we discovered…something. I think it may be why we’re here, captain. ”
“Show me. “
Angros V, Coordinates 61.75, Seventeen hours before.
Sergeant Hoyt did not like many things. Veteran from centuries of war, most of the things that used to entertain him just got old at some point. He used to cherish brotherhood, but now he was tired of unnecessary contact with his battle-brothers. He used to enjoy regicide, but no battle-brother was a match for him anymore. He used to enjoy fighting, but he felt like the galaxy was out of worthy adversaries. To his guess, the blessed God- Emperor made him too strong for any foe to overcome. Those were things he didn’t like, but things he could cope with if needed to.
The current situation, however, was something he just loathed. Two hours ago, his and two other squads under the command of captain Nostra made planetfall in order to investigate a distress signal set in a loop . The signal was old, but the clearance codes were the highest authority- Imperial Inquisition – and so a rescue strike-force had been sent to the surface of Angros V to locate and secure the source of the signal, and hopefully the Lord Inquisitor Hektus who was at the origin of the message. A regular, dull mission to Hoyt, promising to be short enough to allow him to hurry back to the sparring cages , only place where he felt home. But, God-Emperor forbid, things did not went that way at all. First, the already bad weather conditions witnessed for orbit worsened as the drop was sanctioned, sending his drop pod hundred of kilometres away from the mark. Second, thanks to the Throne-forsaken snow, he wasn’t able to see more than 20 meters before him. And last but not least, neither he nor anyone in his squad managed to establish contact with either the strike cruiser in orbit or the two other squads that were in the same thrice-damned mess of a mission he currently was.
Astartes have no need for humours, but at this moment Hoyt was the space marine equivalent of a grumpy human. And when Hoyt got in a foul mood, he took it out around him. His vox came alive, the only range in which it was working being squadmate to squadmate. Hoyt raised an open hand, signalling a halt before opening a channel to his squad.
“What is it, brother Garadon?”
“I’m sorry sergeant but… can you hear that? “
Hoyt sighed loudly, exasperated. “What, Garadon, is the God Emperor talking to you again? “ A few battle brothers chuckled at the comment, but Hoyt silenced them with a flick of his hand. The Fire Angels were a pious chapter, even among the rest of the Adeptus Astartes, and took the Imperial Creed very seriously but Garadon was a young fool and Hoyt an old and bitter one.
“No sergeant”, answered the young recruit, either oblivious to the irony or choosing to ignore it. “It’s like… machine language. It sounds like the binary Mechanicum adepts use when talking to one another.”
“Over the vox?” snapped Hoyt, now interested. He did not need for Garadon’s answer as he heard it himself, a strangely clear sound over the constant lament of the icy wind. Short burst of static and binary were exchanged, and even if his armour auto-senses could easily pick the sound through the storm, it couldn’t be very far. He turned around to face his squad, priming his combi-bolter. “Were we made aware of any Mechanicum presence on Angros V? “
It was Dev who answered, mimicking his sergeant and loading his bolter. “No sergeant, reports specify this is a Death Wo…”
Dev never got the chance to finish his sentence as his head exploded like a ripe melon , showering Hoyt’s breastplate with gore and brain matter. His corpse toppled like a puppet with cut strings, and the sight of their headless battle-brother was more than enough to spring the squad into action. Hoyt crouched low, scanning around for the enemy while screaming orders over the vox. Up until now, Hoyt thought he hated the situation, but what he did not know was that it was about to get a lot worse.
Angros V, Coordinates 50.37, Fifteen hours before.
This was wrong. It all went terribly wrong.
The Astartes tore his helm off unceremoniously, tossing it aside like a vulgar burden. It clanged against the cave’s rocky wall before rolling to a stop, broken lenses turned to fix the marine’s eyes. He kneeled near the body, panting hard as his enhanced physiology overworked to repair the damages visited upon his body. Bones re-knitted and open flesh-wounds closed, the marine gritting his teeth in pain all the while even with the help of pain-suppressors and stimulants being flooded in his body by the dispenser in his power armour. He spat a large, bloody gobbet, before wiping his mouth with the back of his gauntleted hand. Regaining a measure of strength, he stood up and grabbed the hilt of his power sword. Effortlessly, he slid the blade out of the man’s body, cleaning its edges on the poor corpse’s fabric. He thrust the sword into the ground, not without resemblance to the old Terran legend, and kneeled once again facing it. The sword was the focus of the faith in the Fire angel’s chapter, the physical and sharpened form of the warrior zeal and so it was only natural for one to pray in front of his sacred blade.
Brother-sergeant Dematro prayed for many things. He prayed for the safety of the rest of his company whom he was separated from since they crash-landed on that Death World. He prayed for the safety of his battle-brothers whom he lost track of when his drop pod was ripped open against the flank of a mountain, and he and two of them were sent fumbling through the darkness to land inside that cave. He also muttered a prayer to the God-Emperor for the souls of these two battle-brothers who now rested lifelessly on the dirt-brown ground at the end of the cave, their swords embedded into the rock behind them as makeshift tombstones.
But most of all, Dematro prayed for forgiveness. Even if he had to, he wronged the Emperor indirectly and guilt and shame were eating his heart and soul. Lesser men would’ve been broken by such a burden, but not him. He was Astartes, he was Fire Angels, but first he was a servant of His greatness and his duty ended only in death. This mission had gone terribly wrong, and only he could save the rest of his company before things went beyond reparable.
Dematro stood up, sparing a last glance to his now useless helmet, knowing that taking it with him would be useless. He shook his head, and pulled his sword out of the ground in one swift movement. Looking over the bodies, he swore to himself to come back for their gene-seed if he was still alive by the end of the day. Looking at the dead body of Lord Inquisitor Hektus, he doubted it.