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View Full Version : Sanguine- A Blood Angels story.



Theblackdwarf
31-01-2011, 20:58
Hey all. This is something i've been working on for a couple of days. It's the first part of a longer Blood Angels piece im working on, similar to my Nostramo story, following a citizen of Baal as he is inducted into the chapter. It's set during the great crusade though for the first few parts, the action will be set on Baal just to give us a feel for the chapter and home of the aspirants. Power armour will figure into it later i swear! It's not fantastic but comments and criticism are welcome.




Get up! breathe with the soul, for it is brave in every battle, and will always win, unless the heavy body be its grave.

Attributed to Euro-pan poet Dante C.M2

In the mid way: though strange to us it seemd
At first, that Angel should with Angel warr,
And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet
So oft in Festivals of joy and love
Recovered from Ural rad basin. Attributed to Poet John Myltonne C.M2


Death had begun to speak to him. It spoke in cracked, tomb dry tones; A pervasive, Phlegmatic rattle like the final breaths of a dying elder. It whispered in his ear, quiet at first- a soft murmuring that belied the deadly intent. Death spoke as a lover inviting him into their bed, soft and inviting. He ignored the voice and pressed on.
Thus spurned, Death would raise it's voice and begin to howl. His ears filled with a terrible curdling wail, a rolling wave of garbled crackling that leapt monstrously up and down in pitch. Death would protest with the jagged howls of the damned, it would scream as a drowning man would beg for salvation.
He wanted nothing more than to carry on, to Push his burning limbs onwards and to press forward through the desert. Maybe the voice would fall behind- dissipate like the breathy dirges of the night winds that pervaded his waking dreams yet would cease to stir come the dawn. He knew in his heart that he was fooling himself. This was Death's country and to forge a path through these lands was to invite his company. His steps faltered as he heard the mocking death rattle crackle and whine with maddening regularity. Heat blasted and bone weary, the traveller hung his head in defeat and turned back, the gleeful cackling of death haunting his every step.

His rad suit was unbearably stifling. Sweat seeped from every pore and ran in rivulets down his body, collecting in every seam of the suit. The death rattle had faded to a gentle ghost echo now, the clicking distant and almost metronomic in its regularity. The suit was generations old and was sandblasted and ruined before he had left his cot as was the rad counter that ticked against his breast.
Failure was heavy on his shoulder like a leaden shawl. It bent his body into a slumped S shape, bearing down on him harder than the searing heat or the acrid bite of the skin desert winds.
Shielding his eyes from the monstrous sun glare, he caught sight of a rocky outcropping in the distance and managed a weak smile as he recognised It as the mesa where his clan dwelt. The failure threatened to overwhelm him once more as it dug, knife sharp in his gut and he tried hard not to imagine the looks of shame on his family and clansmen. The silent, unspoken inference of his failing. He was not sure he could handle his people's quiet anger, the heavy stares that said it all-
You were not good enough. They would say. You were not good enough to join the side of Gods and so you are condemned to live a futile, impotent existence with us.

The smile faded from his lips, a ghost image that lost like the sand on the winds. The mesa on the horizon looked less homely now, an ugly broken spar of rock; a blackened twisted knuckle clenched at the sky.
It looked a simple enough matter, home seemed to be straight on towards the horizon but he knew the route would be littered with areas of black earth, the radiation soaked deadlands that were death to any man arrogant or foolish enough to wander into them. To reach the mesa, he would have to swing westwards, scaling the rockfalls that would carry him over the dead earth. The rad counter crackled convulsively, almost in anticipation of the death ahead of him. He thought again of the Rad mother calling the clicking of the counters Death's own voice. The younger members of the clan had laughed at the wizened crone's superstitious ramblings, prompting an unbroken stream of curses from the elder's lips. He bitterly regretted the haste with which they had laughed off her words for the constant crackling now sounded more like a distant yet constant gallow's laugh.
He hefted his pack and began to cut westwards, winding slowly out of sight of the mesa as he headed towards the uplands. After a couple of hours he sheltered in the shade of an outcropping of rock and had a hurried meal of dried scorpion Tfal, washing the stringy meat down with the scant remaining water in his canteen. The heat was less oppressive in the shadow of the rocks and he felt the sweat begin to cool on his body, stinging against the sores that covered his body, a legacy of the world on which he lived.
The distant horizon was a deep terracotta shade, the rich hue of dusk as the desert night began to seep across the plain. Any other eye might have named the sight beautiful but to the traveller it reminded him of nothing but flames dancing in the atmosphere. He started as a loud crack sounded in the distance followed by the ghost echoes of maniacal laughter. He was reminded of the rad mother's tales she would spin to the clan youths of wandering bands of Rad Fiends as she called them. He suppressed a shudder as he recalled the way her cracked voice spoke of the hunched and diseased mutant bands that roamed the rad plains, preying on the smaller, more isolated clans.

One evening, years ago, she had gathered the children of the clan by the great fire. Her wizened and crooked form had loomed and danced in the flickering light, her blistered tongue flitting over her sparse yellow teeth as she recounted an old tale of the tribe that had lived on the mesa before The Blood had settled there. Her eyes had gleamed with a wicked light as she spoke of the night a great swell of mutated Plain fiends had descended on the mesa, sweeping into the camp in ramshackle vehicles that belched acrid black smoke, butchering and torching as they went. She told of women and children being torn apart for sport as a hound would toy with it's prey. The tale of the horde of the leprous, foul creatures had embedded itself in his mind and now the sounds carried on the desert air, dredged up that old childhood terror. Knowing he would get no sleep that night, he hefted his bag and pressed westwards, the grinding of faraway engines echoing behind him.
#
The rad mother was in her sixty second year, by far the most long lived member of The Blood that any of the clan could recall. Some even dared to say she was the eldest of all the people of Baal Secundus, save for those that joined the angels in the north.
Near legend though she was amongst the people of the tribe, she remained apart from them. Her family had long since been claimed by the desert, though she never spoke of them. Fifty years ago she had been found wandering the plains by a scavenging party. They had taken her in as a desert orphan, caring for her as their own. She never spoke of her family and to this day, she claimed she could not recall what happened to have left her stranded, naked and alone on the rad plains.
She pulled her shawl about her crooked form and hobbled from the depths of her tent, the cool night air catching the hem of her robes. Around her, the people of the blood busied themselves with securing the camp for the evening. The desert wind was treacherous and could rear up in the dead of night. They had all heard tales of entire camps swept up and strewn across the sands by howling sand gales that tore tents from the earth and stripped the flesh from men, women and children. Gye-wires were pulled tight and hammered deep into the earth, the canvas of the tents were strengthened with braces of bone to stop them from twisting and lurching violently in the wind.
The mood amongst the clan was that of a shared, unspoken fear. They were all touched by the desert from birth and none were insular enough to disrespect her. The Rad mother looked with a distant sadness upon their blighted, leprous forms and wondered if all worlds were as cruel as this one? Were there scores of planets over head where man had turned inward upon himself, dragging all down into ruination until the only way to survive was by tooth and by nail and by beating down the person next to you so you could eat and drink and live?
She hoped not. Inwardly, she hoped for worlds that were once like the Baal heard in faint whispers by the clan fire, a world of beauty and learning where the ambitions of man were turned towards the pursuits of arts and philosophy. She cursed the hubris of her people, that they should deny their sons and daughters the beauty of that world, their arrogance condemning all those that came after them to be consigned to a short life filled with nothing but hardship.
She smiled genially at the clan members she passed. She tried to ignore the faint looks of fear on some of the people as she caught their eye. Ingratiated though she was into The Blood, to some members of the clan, she would always be a worrying enigma- the mysterious child that was found naked and alone in the wastes. Her amnesia of that day's events hardly helped her case, as much as she would have liked to allay those people's doubts. She knew their fear wasn't born out of suspicion- it was a much purer, elemental thing; a primitive fear of the unknown that had plagued mankind ever since they had crawled onto land.
Children darted around her, their cries loud and raucous as if they were challenging the din of the desert winds. She lifted the hem of her robe up to avoid it being trodden on by the onrushing youths. Her cracked lips managed a smile, vaguely jealous of the energy of the young.
She found them sat against the hide wall of Aleppo's tent, crouched over a Quatriss Board. The desert wind ghosted gently over them as they pondered over the scratched and faded board. The Rad mother watched with faint amusement as one of the men- Carlo, cocked his head to the side, reaching a hand out tentatively towards one of the cut stone playing chips.
“Take your time,” The other player- Aleppo said with a wry grin, “I wouldn't want the game to be over so soon.”
“Hush up old man, at least some of us at least bother to think about our next move.” Carlo replied, picking up a stone and moving it diagonally across the board.
“Some of us need not over think these things” The older man spoke, hopping his piece over Carlo's, seizing his chip,flashing a brilliant smile.
“Every bloody time.” Carlo muttered, running a hand through his short crop of hair and looking darkly down at the board.
“Ah the vagaries of youth.” Cocking his head upwards Aleppo smiled warmly as he shielded his eyes from the glare of the setting sun. “Good evening Isabella, to what do I owe this pleasure?”

Despite herself, the Rad mother found herself blushing. Old as she was, there was something in those twinkling eyes of his that reduced her to a swooning maiden. To hear her name, even the adoptive one given to her by the tribesmen that had found her, was jarring also.
“Behave yourself Aleppo” she replied, suppressing a smile. Nodding to Carlo, he heaved himself up with an Arthritic groan and dusted down his robes.
“Quite right madame, I appear to be overstepping my bounds with her holiness the Rad mother.”
“Oh don't you start, I hate that name, it makes me sound like some bloody crone.”
“Well I didn't want to be the one to tell you,” Aleppo started, his face suddenly dark “but ever since you came to us, the harvest has been terrible.” He cast an ironic glance over the mesa to the infinite desert beyond before flashing her a wide grin.
She laughed, inwardly cursing herself for being caught out. Aleppo nearly matched her in years, he was born into the tribe in the second year of her adoption and had become the closest thing to a friend she had amongst The Blood. Warm and open, Aleppo had risen to a mayoral role amongst the people and although his thoroughly childish sense of humour irked her at times, the Rad mother admitted he was an honest and strong hand guiding the clan.

They skirted the edges of the camp, avoiding the general din of the evening's preparations and halting at the edge of the mesa. The sun was very low now, a blood red eye, peering down at the world. She unhooked her arm from his, staring off across the red wastelands.
“Isabella?” He frowned, detecting her dark mood, “What's going on?”
“Luca.” She replied, her voice distant and airy.
He moved closer to her, studying the lines of her face, the ghostly wisps of his hair blowing erratically in the breeze. In that moment he was faintly away that he still loved her in that ridiculous irrational way that a person's on feelings are in symbiosis with another’s- you worry, I worry. You hurt, I hurt.
“Luca has gone to be tested.” He replied simply, the significance of the words, heavy and leaden in the air.
“Will he succeed?” She asked, turning her eyes to him. He saw in them the look of a mother waiting for vindication for their child.
“You always took too much interest in that one, he's not yours to worry about.”
She moved away from him slightly, eyes fixed on the horizon.
“I would have you know?” She said, voice still ethereal and far away. “I would have looked after him after his mother passed.”
“Yes I know you would have Isabella.” Aleppo watched her as she stared ahead “But it wasn't your place, he had his father.”
She turned back to look at him, her eyes wet with barely suppressed tears. She forced a thin smile and took his arm again.

“There was always greatness about him, even as a boy. The angels will have him don't you think?”
He held her close, the sun fading behind the horizon and the din of the camp fading to a low murmur behind them.
“You know, I do believe they will.”

#

Luca dove into cover, pressing himself flat against a rockpile as the roaring of engines drew closer. His breath came in ragged gasps behind his rebreather as the acrid tang of exhaust fumes crept into his mouth. He felt the rocks at his back rumble slightly at the passing of the vehicles. He waited, as quiet and still as he could manage, his ear cocked, waiting as the convulsive wheeze of the engines faded into the distance.
He crawled from cover, still wary. His hands moved to the cord of his hide bag, pulling it loose, his hand slipping in, caressing the butt of his rifle. In the distance, he could see the thick layer of dust kicked up by the trucks, The wind carrying the cracks of mutant firearms and the coughing of engines across the plains.
He cursed, the band had sped out of the desert and had now cut him off from his clan's mesa. Only quick thinking had saved him from discovery. The clan elder's had spoken at length about the gruesome sport that the mutants of Baal make of their captives.
He slid the rifle from the hide bag. A crude bolt action weapon, it had been a birth gift from his father and despite it's age, was stubbornly reliable. He pulled the bolt back, thin flakes of orange rust falling from the breach. He began to load the rounds, keeping his back pressed against the rock. Loaded, he slammed the bolt up and forwards, clicking the safety off and hefting the rifle. The mutants were heading towards the mesa, whether on purpose or by a twist of fate, it mattered not. If they caught sight of a settlement then their would be no curtailing their blood lust.
He had to break through somehow and send warning to the clan. Breaking from cover, he darted over to the sheer rock walls at his left. If he could somehow scale them, he would be carried over the mutants and then he would simply have to descend towards the encampment. Time was against him though and the mutants had the advantage of speed.
He slung the rifle over his shoulder, reaching out for the rocks, taking them in worn aching hands and pulled himself up. Straining with the effort, he dug his boots into the rocks, pushing upwards, his left hand slapping against the wall, searching for a hand hold. He grasped a rock and gripped tight, panting with the effort. Suddenly, the rock was torn from the wall, he began to slip, his right hand reaching out desperately for purchase, grabbing a sharp outcropping, crying out as he felt it tear at his skin. His left arm dangled wildly at his side as he tried to summon the strength to swing upwards. Groaning with the effort, he finally found solid purchase and continued climbing, the wall crumbling dangerously under his feet.
After what felt like an eternity, he found his hand flail against empty air and he slapped it down hard on the plateau of rock at the summit, dragging his leaden body over the edge and flopping onto his back, taking in deep, ragged gulps of air. Rolling onto his knees, he pushed himself upwards, hefting his pack. Suddenly, he was aware of something breathing very close to him; Warily he turned, his hand slipping to the strap of his gun. Before he had chance to react, the butt of a rifle came up to meet him, cracking against his skull and he slumped into welcome darkness.
#

Aleppo opened his eyes and frowned at the night sky. Dazed, he propped himself up on his elbow and looked around. He felt his cheeks colour as he realised he had fallen asleep on the edge of the mesa. He looked to his side and saw Isabella curled there, still asleep, her shawl draped over her like a shroud. He picked himself up and swept off the dust that coated his robes. Behind him, the camp had drifted into their night routine with most of the people asleep or sat beside the main fire. The hard business of survival was done for another day and the world allowed them a moment of rest in the cool desert air.
He was about to wake Isabella when something arrested his attention. A gentle droning crept into his ears, a low rumbling like a flight of locusts. He felt the ground beneath him tremble slightly and he frowned, moving to look over the mesa. He felt a cold weight settle in his gut as fear reached up to curl around his heart. In the distance he could see a cloud of dust sweeping towards them and within in it, dozens of black shapes, swerving and darting like wasps as they raced towards the mesa, Guns cracking in the distant air. Aleppo stood, paralysed as childhood nightmares became corporeal in the night.
“No, no, no.” He mouthed silently.

hawo0313
07-02-2011, 09:27
that sounds great I'm a BA fan myself and I always pictured baal just as you describe good work. your story also seems in line with the codex the dreaded "clicking of the rad counter" really worked well for you to describe the situation congrats on a fine intro