View Full Version : Short story for review

30-08-2005, 13:05
The Mk 17 Valkyrie fell through the night sky like a dead bird, plummeting to the ground with a terrible, irresistible speed. The Imperial Guard Stormtroopers carried within it rocked in their seats as the craft was buffeted by turbulence. The pilot held grimly to the controls, fighting the elements trying to throw the drop ship off course.

"ETA for the drop zone, ten minutes" announced the pilot over the internal comm system. Back in the troop hold, figures and facts started filing through Sergeant Thorn's head. Their target, a defense laser silo, was five klicks from the drop zone. It should take the Stormtroopers one hour to cross the open countryside, making the time to target oh-three-hundred local. Allow half an hours variation for terrain and complications, makes it a window from oh-three-hundred to oh-three-thirty. They were to rendezvous with two other squads at oh-three-forty-five at grid reference G:43 - 12:77 and co-ordinate their efforts to destroy the silo before the heavy troop landers could commence the main assault.

Thorn looked at the other men in his squad, lit by the dim orange glow of the lights in the Valkyries hold. They were quiet, professional and experienced troopers with the best training and equipment the Imperium had to offer. Only the fabled Astartes chapters were better at the art of war, and they were few and far between, beholden to none.

The faces of his men were hidden behind the reflective surface of their visors, their voices as they spoke were muffled by the re-breathers attached to their helmets. Their fatigues and carapace armour was camouflaged to match the lightly forested terrain they were about to drop into. Their packs and grav chutes were on their backs, and webbing belts were wrapped around their wastes. Each trooper carried his standard issue hellgun and was festooned with grenades, extra ammo clips, knives, side-arms, demo charges and other assorted accoutrements of war. They spoke to each other in hushed tones, discussing things unrelated to the mission; girls, drinks, who owed who credits and if anyone had any spare lho sticks. The small smokes were frowned upon by Officers, but it helped relax the troopers so Thorn allowed them. Besides, there was nothing like a good smoke after a succesful mission.

The red pre-jump light went on and conversation ceased. The soldiers stood and made a final check of their weapons and grav chutes. Thorn moved to the rear jump door and punched the controls. The door opened and the wind rushed into the hold, tugging at the Stormtroopers like a desperate, frantic ghost. He spoke over the squad comm frequency.

“All right boys, you know the mission.”

"Sure thing Sarge, just like that one on Deron prime" replied Sal, one of the troopers.

"Stow it Sal. We do this one by the book. No one gets lazy"

The light went green.

“Now get out of here. I’ll see you all on the ground.”

One by one, the troopers jumped out of the drop ship and vanished from sight. A few shouts of exhiliration came over the comms. This was always one of the best parts of any mission. Nothing had gone wrong yet, and everyone was still alive.

“And let’s hope it stays that way.”

Quickly, Thorn was alone in the back of the Valkyrie. He hit the pilots comm frequency.

“Pilot, squad alpha is away. Over”

“Roger that. Good hunting down there. Over”

Thorn turned and stepped out of the hold, into the howling night air.


The main things you noticed were the cold, and the sound. The wind cut through fatigues like a knife, sucking your bodyheat out as surely as ice or snow, while the ghost of the wind screamed in your ear making it impossible to hear anything that wasn't projected over the comm network. Falling, spreadeagled through the air, Thorn checked the altimeter on his wrist. The grav chutes were an impressive piece of kit. They let you drop to 250 metres before kicking in, slowing your descent to a crawl. By the time you hit the ground you were only falling at two metres a second. He watched the numbers on his wrist scroll past with a terrible speed. He almost panicked for a second as they hit 250, the chute kicking in at 245. There was a failure incident rate of about one in ten thousand. No matter how low the odds, every drop trooper held the secret fear that this time, this time, it was their turn.

The sound of the wind, and the cold as it cut into his flesh both subsided almost instantly. He was still falling pretty fast, but compared to the uncontrolled free-fall it felt like he was hanging in mid air.

He looked around, activating the low-light amplification built into his visor. Below him, the figures of his squad loomed out of the dark like light green puffs of smoke, individual features lost in the darkness.

The altimeter dropped below 100.

Less than a minute later, he was on the ground.

He unclipped the grav chute and left it on the ground. He shouldered his hellgun and scanned the perimeter. No resistance was expected, but the only reward of complacency was death. he keyed the comms.

"Thorn here. Everyone down okay?"

A chorus of 'roger that' replies came over the comms.

He pulled the map, flashlight and locater out of a pouch on his webbing and checked their position. They were dead in the centre of the drop zone. He scanned the surroundings, folded the map and replaced the items. He switched the comm frequency to mission command.

"Command, this is Alpha lead. Alpha squad has made a clean drop"

A few seconds later, a distant and tinny voice came over the speakers in his helmet.

"Roger that Thorn. Bravo and Charlie squads are in position. Proceed with mission."

"Roger that" he replied. "Thorn out"

Thorn turned and spoke to the waiting Stormtroopers.

"All right. Derik, you're on point. We're heading north five clicks, bearing one twelve. Weapons free everyone, and stay frosty. Let's head out."

30-08-2005, 13:09
Thorn was crouched in the undergrowth, watching the clearing that was marked as the rendevous point for the three Stormtrooper squads. The march had been quick and uneventful, so Alpha squad had been early. Bravo squad, lead by Sergeant Royck had arrived ten minutes later, signalling their position with a flashlight before opening comms. Thorn looked across to where he knew Royck and his men were waiting. he thought he could make out a troopers silhouette through the foliage and the darkness, but he wasn't certain.


A single point of light flashed in the darkness, fifty metres distant across the clearing. Thorn flashed a single wink in return.


The light replied.

"This is Alpha, that you Charlie?"

"Roger that Alpha. Glad to see you." Segeant Barret from Charlie squads voice came over the comms.

"Come on over, Charlie."

Thorn watched as ten figures formed out of the darkness, what faint light there was glinting off their visors as their heads swivelled, constantly scanning the edges of the clearing.

As Charlie squad reached their position, the troopers greeted each other with subdued enthusiasm. Barret crouched next to Thorn. They waited as Bravo squad moved in.

Thorn pulled out the mission maps and schematics.

"As per the briefing, my squad will lay charges on both the primary and secondary power generators for the surface facility." He pointed to two small buildings marked on the map. For whatever reason, both were built into the perimeter wall, allowing easy access.

"Then we'll link up with Bravo squad here" He indicated a gate in the wall on the south side of the facility. "From there we'll move against the troop barracks." He pointed again. "There is an estimated fifty traitor infantry stationed here, with a further five hundred able to be deployed here within two hours." Both squad leaders nodded. This was all covered in the briefing. It was just being re-hashed for the sake of completness, to eliminate any possible misunderstandings.

"Charlie squads sharpshooters will provide covering fire from here, here and here." More pointing. "Their primary job is to take out any sentries on the walls. After that, they are to scale the walls and provide covering fire into the compound itself."

"Once surface resistance has been eliminated, Alpha and Bravo squads will run a sweep of the facility." It went without saying that no prisoners would be taken. "Then we hold it until we are relieved. If it becomes impossible to defend the facility, we drop demo charges into the laser silos and sell our lives as dearly as we can."

Both squad leaders gave a tight grimace at this. It wasn't a desirable outcome. If no relief came without two hours it meant something had gone drastically wrong with the landfall operations. It also meant the Stormtroopers were dead.

Thorn folded the maps and replaced them in his webbing.

"We maintain comm silence until the power generators are blown. Now, lets move out."

The laser silo was four hundred metres north. The three squads seperated soon after the rendezvous, heading in slightly different directions to take up their individual positions. The facility itself was about six hundred metres long, and three hundred wide. It housed four large underground laser silos which, if activated, would emerge through large sliding portals and unleash a truly massive barrage at low orbiting ships. Only the largest of capital ships could match the firepower of these defensive weapons, and those ships were far too precious to waste in a fire-fight of that magnitude. Hence the call for this operation.

The undergrowth had been cleared for fifty metres from around the facility wall, which was made of thick ferrocrete and topped with rolls of razor wire. Three bright points of light indicated the presence of floodlights inside the walls. The large, primary power generator was easy to locate by the low hum it emitted. The secondary generator was a further hundred metres down, and silent. Thorn crouched in long grass, inside the forest looking at the main generator. Derik had been charged with placing the charges on this generator while another trooper, Typoc, had the secondary one.

Thorn waited, and watched as Derik made his way to the wall. There was no movement on the wall, but that didn't mean there was no one there. Derik kept low, wriggling forwards when the wind moved the grass and covered the noise and movement of his passage. Once he reached the shadow of the wall, he placed a large demo charge with an adhesive backing on the rough ferrocrete. He set it to a remote detonator.

"Sarge, this is Derik. Charges in place."

"Roger that, get back here Derik"

Seconds later he got an identical transmission from Typoc.

Ten minutes later, Alpha squad was making it's way around the facility to where Bravo squad lay waiting. After an uneventful half hour, they reached the position where Bravo should be waiting for them. Thorn pulled out his flashlight and gave two winks. And waited.


Over there, closer to the silo facility. Thorn replied, two winks of light into the darkness, and moved towards the light. Royck's men loomed out of the darkness as Alpha squad approached.

"Breaching charges in place?" asked Thorn.

"Affirmitive. Just say the word, mission lead, and we're in."

Thorn checked the time. Charlie squad should have been in position ten minutes ago.

He flipped the safety on the detonator for the demo charges on the power generators. His thumb rested on the button as he activated the comms. Tension built in his chest, tightening his breathing. He opened the frequency to all squads and pushed the detonator.

Two bright flashes roared on the other side of the facility, and Thorn shouted into the comms.

"Alpha lead to all squads! Mission is GO!"

Someone in Bravo squad hit the detonator for the breaching charge, and the gate was blown open. The floodlights in the facility flickered and died.

"GO! GO! GO!" shouted Thorn as the Stormtroopers rushed into the facility, their every action revealing their experience and gruelling training. They were in, and now the enemy would pay.

03-09-2005, 16:24
Come on guys, ten views and no replies? Hows my spelling? My fluff continuity? My characterisations? story consistency? details? Storyline? imagery? What don't you like about it?

04-09-2005, 04:11
dude. wheres the part when theyre inside. thats the main beef of the story... and its not written.

04-09-2005, 05:55
I'm actuallly having trouble writing it. I chose the initial breach as a nice cut-off point from the intro to the 'meat' of the story.

I am working on it, but it's going slowly.

Regardless though, did you like whats done so far? It's hard to be critical of your own work, and I'd rather get a response from other people interested in the 40K setting than IRL people who will just give me funny looks.

I know it isn't perfect, but I can't pin down where I can improve it. Help is much appreciated.

18-09-2005, 17:23
Love it. Way better than I could write.

18-09-2005, 20:10
Hello Adept, as promised my own laymans interpretation and opinion of your story.
Firstly I should congratulate you on the structure, it is very precise, it echoes the theme of the story very well. In many ways the structure is determined by the battle plan.
Reading this I came to the conclusion that this is one of your strengths as a writer, you have a clear direction for the narrative.
However, I would have liked to see how the actual mission deviated from the briefing. This doesn't have to be a disatrous screw up, but the occasional moment of high tension where the outcome is in the balance.
This is particularly important given the stealthy nature of the mission. Try to create a feeling like tip toe-ing past a sleeping tiger.
In this case it may be a searchlight or sentry being just a bit too close for comfort. something to say that the enemy is watching. Use your imagination, it's up to you.
The outcome of this is that you will have worked towards a climax as the charges go off and all hell is let loose.

The section where Thorn is freefalling is great, I could easily believe that the author knows what he's talking about. Physical response to an activity before the description of the activity is an good device, one you have pulled off well here.
I think you could afford to stretch time a little in the section where the chute doesn't kick in at the 250 mark. I nearly missed this.
The facts and figures of the mortality rate was a nice touch.

When dealing with a character in a situation where controlling emotions is paramount, it becomes far too easy to allow that person to sound like a robot. (for this reason I would avoid phrases like 'information filing through his head.')
This is something that you have nearly achieved with Thorn.
Obviously you don't need to write whole tracts of emo, that wouldn't work at all given Sgt Thorn's nature. However you should find out what makes the guy tick and add a little flavour with that in mind. My suggestions would be his pride in the precision of his squad and active concern for keeping them alive. There are two places where this could have been introduced. Firstly when they make ground fall on target, There was no reaction to this, I think that even the most stern Sgt could allow himself a brief smile at this. Strangely given their much smaller role, the other two sergeants had far more human attributes purely from the reaction to the contingency plan of 'selling their lives dearly'
Secondly as the squad left the Valkyrie.
(On a side note, it's bad form to have a character respond to the narration of the story, at one point, Thorn says 'and lets hope it stays that way.' in reponse to it. This would be fine if he himself was the narrator, but as Thorn is spoken of in the third person this is impossible.)
I think thats everything. I liked the small touches of tactical knowhow, such as moving through the grass as the wind moved it, those are important to invite a reader into the story.

'The light replied.' Good.

Just a few comments on the use of language. If a ship is falling through the air like a dead bird, it seems to imply that the ship itself is damaged, cohesion between similes is important.
When refering to a part of the body it is spelled 'waist'.
It is next to impossible to loom from below.

When given the instruction to maintain radio silence, is this only between squads, or between squad members as well?
I noticed that there was some comm activity before the generators were blown.
Hope this is useful. Keep at it.

19-09-2005, 02:44
Thanks a lot for the response, Piku. Re-reading it after having read your response, I can really see exactly what your talking about, especially about the emotions of Thorn and the use of language.

The comms were suppposed to be silent, I can't believe I missed that! I'll have them use handsignals or something instead. I'll definately take your advice on board. Thanks a lot!

Colonel Walker
01-10-2005, 23:05
Wow, that's a good story, can't wait to see what happens when they are inside! The only thing that i noticed was you were using all those flashlights, then you switch to vox, and then go back to flashlights again.