Daire's Journal

Daire's Journal


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1 entry this month

Super rough first draft. So rough it probably stops mid sentence.

15:57 Jul 24 2013
Times Read: 1,035

“Sir, we have another transmission from Outpost Alpha”

Stenz drained his tin cup of caffeine, sloshing the dregs onto the dirt floor of the HQ tent before throwing the cup down and taking the proffered receiver. Moving his tabac stick to the other side of his mouth Stenz flipped the broadcast switch, routing the incoming signal away from the radio operator’s headset and into the HQ speakers.

“Report guardsman.”

“Sir, Guardsman Anthoan reporting sir. Enemy advancement confirmed, enemy numbers unknown, but from the size of the signal troop numbers exceed estimates by at least a magnitude of three. Requesting permission to withdraw and regroup with Outpost Beta sir.”

Although the transmission was weak and laden with static the fear in the trooper’s voice was clearly evident.

Stenz grimaced at this display of cowardice in the presence of the Adeptus Astartes

“Negative on the withdrawal guardsman, hold the line and report enemy movements. I repeat, hold the line, copy.”

There was several seconds of empty static before the guardsman spoke again.

“Sir, Enemy numbers exceed predictions, our defences won’t hold. We don’t stand a chance unless we pull back and regroup with Beta, but we have to leave now sir. Over.”

The generals face reddened, a large vein becoming clearly visible at his temple as the muscles in his jaw clenched, biting down harder on his tabac stick.

“Negative guardsman, you will hold the line and you will update on enemy troop movements, that is an order guardsman.” Hissed Stenz through his clenched teeth.

Again there was a momentary pause, but this time the sound of fervent conversation was barely audible over the static.

“Sir, with respect sir we can’t hold this position, we are falling back to Beta.” Said the guardsman in a voice that knew what was to follow.

Stenz grabbed his tabac stick and wrenched it from between his teeth before bellowing into the receiver, the veins on his forehead throbbing with each bellowed word.

“Negative guardsman, if you retreat I’ll have you in front of a commissar so fast your boots’ll burn and you know that means a firing squad. Now I repeat, negative on the withdrawal, continue monitoring enemy….”

Before he could finish the general was cut off by a shriek of static and the guardsman spoke again, this time the fear in his voice replaced with the slow calm of a man facing the inevitable weight of his actions.

“Negative sir. We are commencing with the withdrawal. We will forward our most recent auspex readings but then I am going to set our munitions to detonate, the way we see it if we stay we don’t stand a chance. At least if we run we have a chance of avoiding the firing squads.”

Stenz glared at the shredded end of his tabac stick but before he could frame his rage into another threat he felt something on his shoulder, something large, heavy and with an aura of barely contained power. Stenz slowly placed his tabac stick back between his teeth and grunted an acknowledgment as the receiver was lifted gently from his unresisting hands.

The air inside the outpost was heavy and laden with the heat of the nearby jungle, the smell of sweat and stale tabac permeated everything but above it all was the stench of slow death. Inside their rockcrete shell the guardsmen of Outpost Alpha sat in resolved silence, awaiting the latest threat from General Stenz. To a man each was unshaven, their uniforms stained with sweat, their skin greasy from the constant heat and each wore the signs of sleep deprivation on their gaunt faces. Scattered around the bunker were discarded ration packs, adding the stink of rotting protein to the already thick air. The last of the ration packs had been opened days earlier, the contents of which having already been spoiled in the heat when they were first opened did little to improve the condition of the men forced to rely on them for sustenance.

Guardsman Anthoan looked around the cramped rockcrete structure, up until now open disobedience hadn’t even been considered a realistic option, but now there was nothing left to loose and maybe they would be able to hunt some of the local fauna as they……what? As they deserted, there was no other way to describe what it was he and the other men were considering. But the general didn’t understand, what could six guardsmen hope to achieve against the oncoming hoard. What were five lasguns and a heavy bolter when compared to what awaited them out in the depths of the jungle? Anthoan shivered as another wave of shrieking whispers flowed through his thoughts, their long range auspex units were stretched to their limits but even at its current range it was evident the size of the contact moving their way was enormous. For days they had heard the razor sharp whispers, something just on the edge of hearing but always there, something ancient and predatory, something terrifying and utterly alien. At first it had manifested as the feeling they were being watched but as the days had passed the intensity grew until any time you closed your eyes you could feel the whispers crawling beneath your eyelids. This had meant that men had opted to pull double shifts on watch to avoid sleeping, or had doubled their ration of caffeine. This also meant that none of them had slept for days and now that the contact was coming within range the effects had only increased to the point where it seemed every shadow in every corner held some terror just waiting to claw their mind to bloody shreds. Just as Anthoan started to feel his mind fade into that state of exhausted calm the radio squealed into life causing every man to flinch at the sudden interruption to their personal reflections on what they had just done.

However instead of the blaring tirade from general Stenz they had been expecting, the clenched toothed promises of all the torments of the damned, the boiling oaths that their carcasses wouldn’t be fit for the regimental hounds after the commissars had finished with them, instead of what they expected it wasn’t even Stenz whose voice came through the speakers.

“Guardsmen, can you hear me?” asked a voice that was far too deep to have come from the throat of a mere general.

Anthoan swallowed a mouthful of bile, his mouth opening and closing soundlessly as his mind processed what was happening. The other guardsmen had heard it too, where before they had sat slumped at their stations, or lay on their rack staring at the rockcrete ceiling even as General Stenz had shouted himself hoarse with threats of death and dishonour, now each man sat upright, his face drained of all remaining colour, mouth slack and eyes wide with a mix of awe and terror.

There was a momentary calm before a sensation of rising dread overtook him, that voice, nothing human could contain that level of cold authority. Finally Anthoan regained some control and stuttered a response.

“Yes m’lord, we can hear you.”

Again the air was filled with static but now even the cruel whispers which had tormented them for days seemed a distant concern in the face of this new dread, what more was there to fear now that the Astartes had heard of their plans to desert. They had to flee.

“M’lord please, we must withdraw and regroup, alone we can do nothing we…”

Before he could continue the radio squealed and Anthoan’s pleas were lost to the response of the Astartes.

“I am no Lord,” came a stoic response.

“I am Brother Daagan of the Imperial Fists. I hold no rank, I am simply a servant of the Emperor, as are you.”

Anthoan faltered, his soiled uniform clinging to his clammy skin as a chill ran through him, a few hours earlier he would have welcomed such relief from the fetid jungle air but now all he could feel was terror, his bowels had turned to water and he felt such shame as he now faced the prospect of admitting his cowardice to the Emperors finest. How many guardsmen ever got the chance to address an Astartes, even through a radio headset and what great words did he have to say to such a being? That he and his squad were going to flee in terror while thousands fought and died? That he didn’t want to die? That he was afraid?

“M’lord I…….we, we have no wish to desert but to stay here is death. If we regroup with outpost Beta we can at least offer some resistance.”

There was a moments static before that huge voice returned to fill the bunker.

“Then you will die.” Said the voice, but where Anthoan expected a harsh rebuke there was only a brief moment of static before the voice returned. It was just as large and deep and as careful in its speech as it had been but there was no anger in the response.

“Guardsmen your outpost lies at the very edge of the Imperium of mankind. Beyond you lies nought but Xenos filth and a wasteland wrought of their hunger, to flee is to allow the sacrilege of the Emperors lands.”

Anthoan looked about the rockcrete bunker, every guardsman was turned towards him their eyes wide with fear and although a sleepless delirium masked every gaunt face, beneath it all he could see the effect the Astartes words were having. Where moments before there had been only the whispering despair there was now a spark of fury, the smallest glimmer in the darkness ignited by realisation that only minutes ago they were willing to allow the Xenos tide to invade the Imperium.

"Even now my Brothers are engaged with the enemy. It is true they will not reach you before the xenos nut you will stand and you will fight and you will die. You will die with the Emperor’s name on your lips. Each and every one of you will die knowing that you died in battle against the Emperor’s enemies and you will die knowing that you do not die in vain nor do you die alone. My Brothers die with you guardsmen. Astartes and Guardsman alike will fight and die to rid this world of the xenos filth that taints this world, but with your death you are buying the victory that will be the salvation of this sector.”



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