sábado, 27 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Twelve

Lord’s Temple
The Fortress

The altar room was silent; no moans of pain, gleeful sacrifices or chanting priests. Yet there was a still an atmosphere, charged with deadly intent, latent yet potent, like the calm before a storm. Dried and blackened blood coated the altar stone, semi-rigid flakes curled into a myriad of patterns.

A low sonorous rumbling began, the flakes moving as in a gentle dance whose tempo was soft and stately. Then, as though caught in a weak magnetic field they aligned themselves, tracing the stylised rune etched on the slab’s surface. This time there was no pinpoint of light, no whirling shapes, instead without warning the slab cracked neatly, the hairline fissure a perfectly straight line.
Small stone particles bounced merrily as the noise increased and with a final explosive snap, the altar split in two. Each half falling inwards and revealing a deep, dark cavity below.

A single bass note could be heard, so low it was almost inaudible. Again it came, the pitch varying slightly. Now there were two notes then three, then more. A strange melody filled the air, seductive in its simplicity.


There were a small number of priests who had remained within the Fortress and it was they who first felt the inexplicable desire. It was as though a tantalising smell wafted before them, teasing them with its mystery. They were drawn step by step, down to the lower levels where rested the altar stone. Glassy-eyed they ignored all attempts to communicate with them, and from the moment they answered the enigmatic call, they were doomed.

One by one they came, and the strange siren call filled their minds. They paced slowly towards the altar and entered the blackness beneath. Their unknowing feet found small steps, leading ever downwards and on they marched. To anyone watching, the scene would have appeared surreal, their bodies jerking as though pulled by a fine cord. Each step was preceded by a pause, then a stumble, as the line was reeled in.

As the last of them took the first fatal step into the maw of darkness, the screaming began. It was a long, terrible sound, of pain and suffering beyond measure. Yet none faltered, none wavered, on they went, blissfully unaware of their fate.

When the last indescribable tone faded away, there was only silence. Then a single bass note rang out……..

Field Headquarters
Church Command

“Ah, this is so much better,” said the Inspector who sat comfortably in General Wolfe’s chair, a glass of brandy in one hand and a half-empty bottle in the other.

“Please gentlemen, do sit down,” here he indicated the hastily arranged folding chairs.

The two men glared at each other, but neither wished to risk Artix’s anger.

“Why is he here,” asked Wolfe, pointing at the dishevelled form, slumped into the second chair.

“Hmm. I asked General Hamner to join us, because, strictly speaking, both of you are as much to blame.” responded Artix.

“I resent that remark,” gruffed Wolfe.

“I really don’t care what you think, my dear General,” interrupted the Inspector acidly, “here, only one opinion counts, and that I am afraid is mine.”

He took a small sip of the liquor, rolling the fiery liquid on his palate, before swallowing. Placing the bottle on the nearby table, he leaned forward in his chair, lowering his voice to a near whisper.

“This, and believe this when I say it, is a very delicate situation, it could mean the summary execution of both you.” and smiling at the shocked looks upon their faces, he continued, “Not that I recommended such a course of action. I in fact cautioned a more, shall we say, patient and understanding approach.”
With that he leaned back, picked up the bottle and refilled his glass.

Glancing at Hamner, Wolfe spoke, “What is it exactly that we are supposed to have done? I came here to relieve this incompetent of his duty. To try and salvage some order out of this fool’s mess.”

Artix laughed ironically and shook his head, “A most unfortunate choice of words, most unfortunate:”

Wolfe gulped, his face reddening and tried again, “Things here were completely out of control. We were killing our own troops and the Tauran forces, unknown in their intent, were running amok.”

“And things have changed ….?” injected Hamner, with a sneer on his face.
Wolfe jumped up, his chair thrown backward by the force of his anger, “How dare …”

“Sit down.”

The words were spoken in a soft, yet unmistakably icy tone.

Wolfe hastily picked up his seat from where it lay and quickly sat back into it.

“Where was I?” said the Inspector, “Oh, yes. So, I argued for a different approach, that of you working together to resolve this situation.”

“There is absolutely no way I will work with this fool!” snapped Wolfe, instantly forgetting, the last few moments in his rage.

“Nor I with him!” spat Hamner.

“This,” continued Artix in a calm, impersonal voice, “is most regrettable. I have already indicated that you have no choice, however, you continue to insist on this idiotic behaviour. Let me spell it out for you both; you leave this room in one of two ways. Either, as part of a team dedicated to the Church’s cause, whose sole aim is to wipe out all trace of the Tauran’s from this planet. Or ……..”

“Very well,” muttered General Wolfe, after only a slight pause. Hamner nodded in agreement and waited for the Inspector to speak.

“It seems that a number of people made a tiny mistake, with respect to this world. Not that I’m one to criticise, you understand, but if I have been consulted previously, we just might have been able to avoid all these misunderstandings.”

“What exactly do you mean?” asked Wolfe quizzically.

“We, and I speak here in general of the Inspectorate, are tasked with certain studies, sometimes a little bit out of the ordinary. In one particular instance we have been gathering information for some time now, which points to the existence of an anomaly. No let me explain, I’m just getting into the swing of it.”

General Hamner stopped in mid breath and gulped back his question.

“Thank you. It seems that there are references to a particular place in a number of outlawed texts. Some call it the Fortress, ah I can see that I have your attention now. There are many other names for this place, difficult to translate you know, but all speak of it as important. A repository shall we say, for an artefact whose very nature intrigues me, or rather should I say us.

“The Tauran forces on this planet, seem to have been here for an entirely different reason, one perhaps we will never truly know nor understand. What I do know, is that we need to make sure that the Fortress is in the hands of the Church. We need to do that quickly and by that I mean yesterday.”

Wolfe carefully phrased his question, “What exactly is this artefact and what does it do?”

“You really don’t want me to answer that do you?” replied Artix, “The Inspectorate has a penchant for guarding its secrets, in the name of the Church of course. Too much information could possibly in this case be a very bad thing. Trust me.”

General Wolfe looked into the cold, dark eyes of the Inspector and shuddered.
Unexpectedly, Hamner came to his aid, “In that case what would you like us to do?”

“That,” said Artix cheerfully, “is quite simple, gentlemen. I want you to expend whatever force is necessary in occupying the Taurans. Keeping them busy, killing them, you know. Whilst my special assistants and myself take care of our business.”

“I ….. think we understand, Inspector,” agreed Wolfe.

“Well,” and here the Inspector’s voice changed, becoming cold and deadly, “let me spell it out for you, clearly and concisely. You will commit one hundred per cent of your resources in the annihilation of all enemy forces on this planet. If this requires you to sacrifice every last one of your personnel, in order to allow me the time I need, you will do so.

“And to make myself crystal clear. Right now, the only two people who have a seat booked on my shuttle out of here, are you two gentlemen. It’s a small craft and I would imagine it would be difficult to fit in any more.”

Both sat quietly for a moment, then nodded in agreement.

“Good,” the Inspector’s tone was once again normal, “then I won’t keep you gentlemen any longer.”

With that they both left the room, closing the door quietly behind them.


Inspector Artix watched the door close and looked wistfully at the nearly empty bottle. He knew the two Generals were incapable of working together, but he was not really all that concerned. Their roles in this were minor, the more of their men that were taken care of now, the better.

Of course, he grinned to himself, there were no seats available for them either.


On leaving the room, General Wolfe turned his back on Hamner and made his way in the opposite direction. He needed some time on his own.

Originally, he had arrived here with the intention of saving his men, but gradually had been forced to change his opinion of the situation, on the ground. Not many men had accused him of being foolish in his time, but right now, he realised that they had a right to do so. His infatuation with the destruction of Walters had blinded him to the real threat and had brought him to this unpalatable choice.

Similarly, he was under no illusion as to the outcome of this mission. There would be no escape either for him, or any of the many Church Forces on this planet. Whatever it was that Artix was looking for, no-one outside of his confidants would be allowed to speak of it. Of that he was sure.


Hamner watched Wolfe stride away, sneering at his vanishing figure. He was not stupid, irrespective of whether the Inspector thought so or not. He would carry out his orders, and ensure that there was only one person on the last shuttle out of here. Him.

It was obvious that this was a test and he needed to impress the Inspector. If they were successful, he knew that reports could be rewritten and his career would once again be in the ascendancy.


Artix climbed back into the shuttle, gazing wistfully one last time at the flurry of activity all around him. It always brought a tear of pride to his eye, this show of the Church’s strength. Such a shame that their participation would end so badly for them.

The jerk as the craft lifted off brought him back to reality. There was only one real variable in this situation, or so it appeared to him at that moment, and that was whether the two Generals were capable of keeping the enemy busy. The Inspector had read the reports on Walters and his rag-tag army and dismissed them. They would be just one more helpful distraction.

Lord’s Temple
The Fortress

An eerie silence pervaded the Fortress, its gates hung slackly open whilst the battle raged outside.

There was an absence of life here, even that deformed version which had belonged to the Lord. The last war machine stood idle, its turrets pointing haphazardly into the sky. Abandoned weapons, discarded armour, clothing and supplies littered the ground.

Beasts, men and K’ran fought and died on the battle field. Slowly, the Taurans retreated, unable to withstand the onslaught led by Walters. Without the Lord, their cohesion was broken. There was no fear to bind them, no blood to joyously spill.
Inside the altar room, the music had ceased, and instead, a chill green light pulsed spasmodically from beneath the broken altar.

miércoles, 24 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Eleven

Battle Plain
The Fortress

Berbatov was truly in his element for the first time in his life; he was wading through a river of blood, chopping and hacking as he moved upstream. His halberd felt lighter than air, imbued with a divine power. He stroked the blade through opponents; kissed them with its edge and caressed them with its staff. No longer did he need brute force to cleave, slice or smash, but the power remained.

Time seemed to slow and he wondered at the stream of light that seemed to follow the blade’s trajectory, marvelled at the speed of its movement and gloried in the simplicity of its result.

The violent noise of the conflict dragged him back to the present; the screams of pain, pleas for mercy, the meaty contact of metal against flesh, and the concussion of exploding munitions. His sections stood by him, revelling in their work and screaming their battle cry in time with each blow, each cut and thrust; ‘W-aaal-ters! W-aal-ters!’

The Sargeant smiled, even when the Major wasn’t trying, he was winning. The men loved him, they swore by his name, and before much longer they would be no doubt praying to him. Not bad for a scam to get off planet. That, however, was an eternity ago. There was no more need to lie, no more need to run or hide.

He had seen the Major begin to die, had cried over his broken body and rejoiced at his unexpected return. Now he would do what he did best, he would kill for him, no questions, no remorse. Where Walters walked he too would follow.


Walters was close, he could smell the stench of emptied bowels mixed with fresh blood. He could hear the chants and barbaric rituals, and the screech of turning wheels. His body reacted to the presence of that whose possession had burnt him, had scarred him, and ultimately birthed him.

Then he was clear the press of the surrounding bodies and stood face to face with The Lord. The mutated K’ran strained to reach him, snarling and slavering. He jumped up, punching downwards onto the top of the lead beast’s skull, shattering the bone and driving it into the earth. Moving quickly he snapped the reins holding it to the chariot and looped them around the second beast’s neck. Still holding the leather in his hands he vaulted over its head, forcing its neck backwards at an impossible angle, literally shredding its throat with the rapid tightening of the hastily formed noose. There was a crack, then it too slumped to the floor. The other beasts cowered away from him as he stalked towards them, the K’ran within them recognising the dominance exhibited.

The Major stopped beside the now gently swaying body of the vehicle and stared unblinkingly at the thing within.

“And who or what exactly are you?” asked the Lord as he unwound the ends of the reins from his waist. “You have caused me a great deal of trouble in organising this meeting.”

“Well, I’m here now,” returned Walters, smiling, “Sorry to have kept you waiting.”

“Ah, humour. Not really the most appropriate of times,” he said as he climbed down to stand in front of Walters.

And for the first time Walters truly saw the monster he faced. It stood a head and a half taller than him, and half again as wide. Its lower half was dressed in what seemed to be a parody of a Church Guardsman, regulation boots and all. That was where the resemblance ended.

Its upper torso was covered in long thin strips of flesh, each wound bandage-fashion one on top of another. Only the head was uncovered. Its bald pate was criss-crossed in strange patterns of scarring, its mouth wide and filled with dagger like teeth. The eyes were reptilian, a sick yellow colour.

In one hand it held a serrated double-bladed sword, and in the other a long whip, whose end trailed idly on the floor.

Arrogantly the Lord waited and then laughingly taunted Walters, “I can taste the corruption within you, why do you fight me? You should bow down before me, join me in the purging of this unimportant world.”

“My apologies,” replied Walters, “but I must disappoint you. You see, I have an authority problem, bowing down before anyone, just isn’t me. As to corruption, well I guess that ‘s relative.”

“It is my opinion that …” began The Lord, but was cut short by Walters who waved his hand in dismissal.

“When I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it. But thanks anyway,” the last comment ended abruptly as the whip hissed towards the Major’s head. He didn’t move quite quickly enough and the tip caught the side of his face, splitting the skin of his cheek.

“You really shouldn’t have done that, “he growled menacingly, “You really shouldn’t…”

Walters bounded forward, spinning in the air to avoid the returning whip and kicked out, his boot smacking firmly into the beast’s head and staggering it. He landed, quickly turning to face The Lord and struck again. He was inside the Lord’s defences and he pitilessly maintained his offensive. His blows struck one after another, in a frightening tattoo of sound. Chest, head and torso were pummelled, bones cracked and vile blood fountained.

With a superhuman effort, the Lord responded, the pommel of his sword punching into Walters face and gaining him some respite. He dropped the whip and gripped the weapon firmly in two hands.

Spitting blood to one side, he spoke, “If that was all that you have W’ratr, it is not enough.”

His eyes gleamed and the air around his blade shuddered, the edges beginning to smoke darkly.

“Did I upset you?” asked Walters and then when there was no reply, “Ooh, the silent treatment …scary.”

The blade whistled towards Walters’ head, the intention obvious. If it had achieved his purpose, he would no doubt have been split in too. However, he hadn’t waited for the impact of the blow, he had moved. And with such speed, his hand blocking the downward stroke in mid-flight and turning it, so the blade crashed into the floor. He used the momentum of the block, to continue his turn and hammered his elbow into the back of the Lord’s neck.

Pivoting slightly he curled his forearm across the beast’s throat and looped his other arm underneath, locking its sword arm in place. Flexing his muscles he heaved it upright. The opposing pressure he exerted held the Lord in place, and slowly, inexorably he increased it.

The Lord struggled, but there was no escape. He was pinioned across Walters’ back, his elbow joint rigid, his throat being slowly crushed. As a last resort he called for his Master and felt the response.

Walters was conscious of the moment of change, of the power flowing through The Lord’s body and was unconcerned. Deep within him there was a reserve of untapped power on which he now began to draw. He heard, as if from afar, his name being chanted as his men killed and he swelled in response. The K’ran ripped through their enemies for him, their teeth and claws drinking deeply the essence of their foes, and he grew with each strike, each death.

Ligaments tore free from The Lord’s shoulder joint, but there was no relief. Walters whipped round, releasing his hold, his hands held spear-like, pierced muscle and burrowed deep into his enemy’s chest. He held The Lord close, almost like a lover, his arms wrapped around him and whispered caressingly in his ear.

“Your first mistake was in sending another to do your bidding, his death made me stronger. The second mistake was arrogance, to think that your master made you invulnerable, untouchable. Finally the third and last mistake was ignorance, you do not know of that against which you have pitted yourself … and you never will.”

Walters’ hands, still buried in The Lord’s flesh closed around bone and he pulled. Not with an almighty force, but beginning gently and increasing without haste. Muscles ripped, cartilage parted, flesh yielded and smiling he tore his enemy’s chest in two.

Walters dropped the still quivering body to the floor; its vile blood could no longer hurt him. He saw the sword on the ground, close to where it had fallen and stooped to retrieve it. As he grasped the hilt, the smoke still clinging to it died and instead the blade glowed dully in his grasp.

He did not look back as he walked towards The Fortress, the weapon rising and falling as he cleared the way before him.


With the end of The Lord, the Tauran Forces began to fold before Walters advance. On one side, led by K’san, the K’ran had collapsed one wing of the attack upon itself. Berbatov and his men butchered their way after Walters, their advance more terrifying because of the laughter and joy with which they did their job.

Sargeant James was in trouble, one of the Tauran’s war machines had him pinned down and his men were being slowly annihilated. He heard the tortured screeching of metal against metal, a triumphant shout and a resounding crash. Breathing deeply and his pistol clasped closely in his hand he peered out from his hiding place.

The war machine lay on its side, its telescopic metal legs sheared clean through. Berbatov’s men were busy with the dragging out its occupants and their extinction.

A gentle cough to his right, brought him spinning round, ready to fire. There stood a grinning Walters, Berbatov by his side.

“Do please keep up, Sargeant. We really would hate to leave you behind.”

Field Headquarters
Church Command

“But, you’re not who I was expecting …” said General Wolfe, as the man slowly walked down the ramp. “Where are….”

“Yes, yes, General,” responded the casually dressed individual, “I know who you were expecting. Don’t worry, they’ll be along shortly.”

“Who are you?” the General demanded.

“Inspector Artix,” relied the man jovially, putting his arm around the General’s shoulder in a brotherly fashion and squeezing gently. “I thought you and I could have a little chat first.”

“What about...? What are you doing here?” asked the General uneasily.

“All in good time, my dear General, all in good time,” responded the Inspector, steering the General away from the landing ramp, “Let’s go to your office, where it’s just a little bit quieter, shall we?”

jueves, 18 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Ten

Main Courtyard
The Fortress

Banners arched through the sky. Their tattered tails of flayed skin, whirring in an unholy cadence, as they fell once more towards the misshapen hands of their owners. Symbols clashed, pinpointing a dissonant chorus of maddening sound, as the Tauran forces prepared for war.

High atop the battlements of The Fortress, the Lord avidly drank in the excess below him. The self-flagellation of the fervent, the mutilation of the unworthy; all was pleasing to his eye.

Waiting for him below was his war chariot, the still living bodies of the newly sacrificed, nailed to its sides. Their bloody bodies hanging limply, jerked into occasional animation by the prodding of the priests’ sharpened staffs.

Hideously deformed K’ran sat in the chariot’s traces, jaws snapping at any unfortunate who ventured too closely. Their enraged madness, mimicking the seething mass outside the walls.

A shout caught the Lord’s attention, there outlined starkly against the brow of the hill were the pitiful few who thought to challenge him. At their head he saw a cluster of shapes surrounding what must be their leader. He squinted, as the very side of the hill seemed to waver, to blur in and out of focus. An undulating, seething, seemingly endless carpet. The K’ran!

Lower Approaches
The Fortress

Walters waited as the K’ran flowed past, each body imparting a further spark of energy to that already within him. The touch of cloth against his skin was excrutiatingly painful, as his charged body struggled to contain the increasing influx of power. It began to leak from him, the static discharge causing K’san’s fur to bristle in response and arcs of blue-white light played around the halberd in Berbatov’s hand.

Sargeant James looked back and rubbed his eyes. It was difficult to look directly at the Major, his shape had become hazy and indistinct. One moment he was there and the next his body appeared to writhe uncontrollably, causing the Sargeant’s eyes to lose focus. James blinked and his vision cleared. Major Walters was there, but interposed was a shimmering halo, whose outline followed the contours of the Major’s body, his every movement. It sparked and flashed, but no longer wavered, the shape of the beast was clear and strong.

The K’ran saw it too and they began to whine. Weakly at first, but gaining in intensity, until it was a joyous howl.

Walters had never imagined that he could experience something this intense, this invigorating. He drew in a deep breath and felt the material across his back tear. Impatiently he tossed the remains of his greatcoat away, his tunic following closely after, and stood bare-chested, thrilling to the touch of the light wind playing across his skin.

A pressure built within him, unstoppable in its intensity and he flung back his head and screamed his defiance. The K’ran, his men, all of them, joined him and the cry rang clearly across to the Fortress below and the thousands upon thousands of enemy soldiers in their massed and capering ranks……. And they trembled, they feared.

At a slow, funereal pace, Walters marched down the hillside. All around him, his forces kept to his measured step. They followed him willingly, lovingly, to battle, and on to death if necessary.

Geostationary Orbit
Church Fleet

Alarms shrilled stridently, and the Executive Officer rushed to Captain Arnesson’s side.

“Sir, we have multiple vessel signatures, at least three.” reported the Officer crisply.

“Ah, that would be the General’s surprise gift, I believe,” responded, the Captain reassuringly.

“Incoming transmission Sir, from ……”

“Yes, yes. I know who its from.” interrupted the Captain. “Patch me through to General Wolfe.”

Lower Approaches
The Fortress

The first rounds from the Taurans punched into Walters forces, but they neither changed formation, nor direction. Inexorably they advanced, returning laser fire calmly and methodically. Walters paused for a moment and then began to run, gathering speed and momentum. The K’ran loped alongside him, matching him stride for stride. They hit the front ranks as one, but Walters’ entrance amongst the enemy was devastating.

The sword hung unused by his side, the pistol forgotten, as he swung his arms. Vast, gaping rents appeared in the flesh of those who faced him, as though slashed by gigantic claws. Yet, he carried no weapon. One heavily armoured monstrosity swung a great, double-bladed sword towards him and he effortlessly sidestepped the attack. Walters grasped the horned helm in one hand, holding the creature in place and stabbed his other hand forward. His curled fingers hooked into the beast’s breastplate, cleaving through the blood-red armour as though it didn’t exist.

Onward they travelled into the chest cavity, bones snapping beneath the implacable advance. His hand gripped the creature’s still-beating heart and in one swift movement, he raised the squealing monster up high into the air. Taking one step back, he slammed his other fist into its head, the force propelling the thing backwards, smashing through the Taurans before him, the steaming organ still grasped firmly between his fingers.

Walters lifted the heart towards his mouth, he sniffed it once and then threw it away disdainfully.

“Onwards!” he screamed, springing forward once more.


The whip snapped forwards, its barbed length tearing skin and fur from the lead beast. Time and again it lashed out and the chariot gathered momentum. The Lord brandished his sword in one hand, the whip in the other, needing no reins to control the vehicle. His animals cleared the path through his followers, their snapping jaws indiscriminate as to target.

The bodies swayed rhythmically in time with the chariot’s motion, banging and slapping against its sides as it picked up speed. The Lord had dropped his whip and stood, his weight evenly balanced, as he came closer to front of the battle. He raised one hand and dropped it sharply and in answer heavy guns roared from the battlements, their rounds falling indiscriminately amongst friend and foe. Smashed bodies were hurled high into the air, cartwheeling gruesomely before crashing again to earth. Engines snarled, smoke billowed and his machines of destruction rolled ponderously from the Fortress’ open gates.

On the battlefield Walters paused, one foot on the throat of his latest victim. He pressed down, crushing breath and life out of the squirming thing beneath him. To his left Berbatov drove the point of his halberd into a Tauran’s chest, twisted the blade and withdrew it. The man collapsed backwards and the Sargeant turned to look at Walters. The Major’s eyes were now a blazing green fire, yet he still smiled at the Sargeant.

“Wait here,” said Walters, even his voice had changed, each word carrying a growled undertone. With that, he bunched his muscles and sprang high above the crowd, clearing at least five rows of troops before coming to earth. He smashed through them without stopping, striking in a blur, and each blow tore a massive hole in their lines. The K’ran surged behind him, ripping a ravening path of destruction.

Geostationary Orbit
Church Fleet

Captain Arnesson waited patiently for the arrival of his guests; their leader had asked formally to meet him, to be appraised of the situation on the ground below. It was really a courtesy visit, already the Attack Cruiser was finalising its preparations for the deployment of its cargo. They had wasted little time in niceties, demanding full cooperation.

He heard the sound of booted feet and the metallic clang as something struck the side of the door.

“Captain,” announced his Executive Officer, “May I present …..”

“He knows who we are,” rumbled a gargantuan voice, “Now where are the Tauran scum…?”

Battle Plain
The Fortress

Sargeant James was amazed at the brutal disregard of the enemy forces for their own, armoured vehicles crushed their way through, tracks churning through man and beast alike. Rounds flashed through those too slow, too dumb, or too engrossed to get out of the way. This eagerness was aiding the Sargeant; taking a terrible toll on the Tauran Forces and allowing him time to direct his men.

He had for the moment lost sight of the Major, but having his own pressing matters to deal with, he was unconcerned. At his side, one of the troopers dropped to the ground, unlimbering his weapon.

There was something different about him, about all of them today. His movements were sure, unhurried. He took time to sway away from the downward swipe of a blade, drawing his combat knife in a fluid motion and stabbing into the eye of the man above him. Calmly he cleaned it on his trousers, re-sheathed the weapon and continued in his preparations.

Field Headquarters
Church Command

General Wolfe waited on the landing platform in eager anticipation. The area was a hive of activity, as troops were marched into transports and armour was loaded. The comfortingly shrill tones of the Inspectors rang out, followed by the occasional sound of a pistol discharging. This was how it should be, this was order.

High above, he heard the roar of approaching engines and congratulated himself. His plan had worked. Walters had been fooled completely, by his acceptance of the ‘Major’s? promotion.

Whilst Walters had taken care of the K’ran, Wolfe had been busy. He had sent a transmission to Fleet Command, asking for assistance, specific assistance. The content of the message had helped, he had at first embellished the note but things were falling nicely in line with his report. Walters had converted Church Troops, he had joined with Tauran Forces. The only part that was not strictly true was how the General had manipulated him into destroying the K’ran. However, Walters and his followers were now engaged in a type of mutual destruction with the enemy.

If he timed this right, he could lead a victorious assault, smiting the Church’s foes in His Name. Self-contentedly, he smiled at his officers as the craft landed.

miércoles, 10 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Nine

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Turning, Walters surveyed the prostrated men and K’ran before him. How could he explain what had happened, he was still unsure, uncertain. His death had been imminent; K’shir’s blood burning him both inside and out, eating away his resistance, corroding his will to live. His only conscious thought had been to rip the thing’s throat out, tear it from this world and drag it into to the next, joining him in his pain.

Momentarily he had felt that joining, had lived temporarily alongside the mixture of K’ran and monster, whose possession had abruptly been broken, but not so his connection with K’shir. They had spiralled into darkness together, the beast within him railing at the injustice of its end, and he had fought.

Spitting and snarling he had clawed his way back, until he felt all restraint break and he had been suffused with an incredible energy and vigour. He was conscious of his heart’s beat, of the blood pounding through his veins, cleansing his body of the vile blackness. Somehow the K’ran’s blood had catalysed this reaction, changing him, and now here he stood. Still he was Major Walters, yet he was that and more. Energy flowed through and around him; he could feel his vast reserves of power, drawn in part from the adoration of his followers. And yet, there was something else.

His thoughts were interrupted by Leftenant Wilson, who nervously spoke.

“Is it you, Major?”

“Who else would it be?” said Berbatov, jovially cuffing the young officer across the back of his head.

Walters desperately tried not to break into laughter at the look on the Leftenant´s face. Wilson, obviously didn’t know whether to be affronted by Berbatov’s personal attention, or ignore the matter. The Leftenant glanced quickly at Walters and then decided that caution was the better part of valour.

“Indeed”, said Walters, breaking the moment of tension with his grin, “How can I help you?”

“W-w-well, Sir,” the Leftenant stammered, pointing at the battlefield, “What about this, Sir?

“Have you been taking lessons from Sargeant Barbatov, Leftenant?” quipped Walters.

“What are we going to do, Sir?” blurted out the Leftenant, “We’re right in the middle of a war here!”

“Not any more,” responded Walters his face darkening, and then more calmly, “Not any more.”

Geostationary Orbit
Church Fleet

Captain Arnesson stared thoughtfully into the distance, before replying. It had taken time to assimilate all of the relevant data, but now he was sure. They had stopped fighting and appeared to be waiting for something.

“Send a message to General Wolfe and appraise him of the current situation.” he said in a clipped and disciplined tone to the subaltern.

“And the General’s request, Sir?” asked the man respectfully.

“Do as he asks, although I am not quite sure that I agree with him fully” replied the Captain.

“Sir?” queried the man.

“Nothing. Nothing. Carry on, son,” and with that Arnesson returned to his musings. What was Walters up to now?

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Walters crouched down next to the injured K’ran, its laboured breathing the result of the broken ribs, received courtesy of K’shir.

He laid his hand gently on the beast’s shoulder, “How are you, my friend?” he asked softly.

K’san responded with a muted whine, which seemed to resonate echoingly inside Walters’ head. The sound rose and fell and then returned in strength as a violent buzzing. He clasped his hands to his ears, as it became an all encompassing roar and fell to his knees. Blood started to drip through his fingers and he bent forward, his forehead touching the cool earth beneath him.

An angry growl began in his throat, rising in pitch and tempo and with it he came to his feet, eyes tightly shut and fists clenched by his side in a vain attempt to combat the piercing pain. His eyelids flashed open and again the feral green and yellow orbs gleamed for all to see. With a noise halfway between a growl and shout, he looked down on the K’ran below him who unconsciously trembled beneath his gaze.

“What have you done to me!” hissed Walters.

“My Lord!” whined K’san in despair and Walters stopped, his fist half-raised to strike the beast.

“I want ….the truth!” he half-pleaded, half-screamed.

Across the field the K’ran responded, leaping to their feet in ecstasy, their Lord had spoken, they had understood, he was looking for The Truth.

“My Lord!” K’san eagerly barked, “How?”

“I do not know.” replied Walters quietly, burying his face in his hands.


Berbatov glanced once towards Walters and the strange scene depicted there, then resumed cleaning his halberd. The Major continued to surprise him, now he could talk with the puppies! He spat onto the burnished metal and continued cleaning off the caked and drying blood. He knew that whatever had happened to the Major was for the best, or at least he hoped so.

They would have little time for rest, as they still had both General Wolfe and who or whatever dwelt within the Fortress to deal with. Neither of whom would be particularly happy about the charming scenes being played out here. He grabbed another, cleaner, cloth off Williamson as he passed by, sending the private scuttling away as Berbatov swung a boot in his general direction.

Whistling happily, the Sargeant continued his work. He had a feeling he would be needing his weapon soon, real soon.

Lord’s Temple
The Fortress

The Lord smiled as the last of the sacrifices were brought into the room, their squealing was most invigorating. It was quite strange how those who professed their undying devotion to his cause, tended to change their minds when asked to demonstrate it. The altar was old, older than the fortress itself. He had brought it with him, being attached to it both literally and metaphorically. It was his conduit with his master, which he rarely used, but he felt drained and in need of renewal.

He nodded to the priest who began to intone the rite, the barbaric phrases calming his Lord. As the ceremony reached a crescendo, the hunched and cowled priest reached into the first victim’s mouth, gripping his tongue firmly in his clawed hands and slashed down with the consecrated knife. There was a squeal, a spurt of blood and then the glorious moaning began. The Lord was impatient, the ritual took too long. Drawing his sword he pierced the priest’s back with a savage stab and then reversed the blade in a sweeping motion, neatly removing the man’s head. The cowl flapped open, revealing the suppurating visage beneath and he laughed.

With incredible speed he struck again and again, resulting blood from each sacrifice spraying onto the altar and running into the neatly carved design on its surface. The stone seemed to shudder in delight and a point of light appeared, rapidly growing and swirling with a myriad of colours. Sickening to the eye, he drank it in and laying full length on the now sticky surface, gazed fervently into the portal.

Field Headquarters
Church Command

General Wolfe vomited onto the floor, uncaring of the watchful faces around him. The thing that had been his spiritual link with the Church lay curled into a ball before him in his Command Room. The woman had screamed once, long and hard, then stood still, silent, as her skin began to melt. First one blister, then five, joining together in a strange and convoluted tattoo of pain, etched into her face.

There had been no sound as the blisters burst and the fluid ran down her chest, boiling away. The stench had been unsupportable and Wolfe’s stomach had rebelled. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and gazed in a horror at the mutilated body before him. In God’s name what was happening? Had he been too late?

Lord’s Temple
The Fortress

None of the priests dared to enter the altar room. Every now and then they would hear an evil cackling, closely followed by a deep bass rumble. There would be a terrible pause, a sucking, tearing sound and then it would start all over again.

Generals cowered in corners, misshapen monsters tore their own flesh from their malformed faces, yet still the priests waited. Each time they ventured close to the entrance, thinking that it was safe to do, the dreadful sounds drove them backwards.


Walters too was not unaffected, the hairs on the back of his neck rose in response to the unnatural summoning. His lips curled back, baring his teeth and he snarled in challenge.

His tunic seemed too small for him as his chest expanded with each shuddering breath. Then it was over, whatever had called to him was gone.


When they entered, the priests found The Lord splayed across the stone slab of the altar top, his body covered in blood. Not only that of the victims, but his own in equal measure. It ran from his eyes, ears and nose in deep, dark rivulets. He gabbled insanely to himself, speaking in a strange and foreign tongue.

The bravest of them touched him with the slightest of caresses and screamed, his right hand blackening and shrivelling instantly. He fell to his knees, his face a picture mirroring an undescribable agony. Transfixed on their peer’s torment, the priests did not notice that The Lord had returned to them, until the meaty thud of his feet on the cold stone reminded them.

He stood beside the altar in all his corrupt majesty and then a new sound commenced, the harsh scrape of metal against stone. It was a persistent, grating sound as he drew the serrated blade back and forth against the side of the altar. With each stroke the smile on his face broadened, and then he laughed. It was a short, dismissive laugh, and the priests laughed nervously with him. The laugh grew infectiously and one by one they howled with him in uncontrollable mirth, until they began to die. The serrated blade rose and fell, tore and rent, yet still they laughed.

Outside all trembled, and waited.

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

The rage was unbearable, all consuming and so he had climbed to the top of the hill to be alone. He felt as if he was on fire, each muscle burning with a coruscating heat. Spasms racked his body, in a continuous roiling wave as he struggled to contain the warring forces within him.

A primeval urge to destroy, bubbled upwards and he drew his blade, but this was not enough. He threw the weapon away and smashed his fist against the unyielding rock, once, twice and then again. The tempo of his strikes increased incessantly, blow after blow and that which had withstood timelessly against the elements yielded. Stone exploded outwards, smashed into the tiniest of pieces and finally he was satisfied.

Walters looked down at his hands, at the unmarred surface of his skin wonderingly. What had he truly become?


K’rantu lay hidden, his eyes fixed unwaveringly on his leader’s back. He had been charged with W’ratr’s protection once and had failed, he would not do so again. He had watched reverently as the rock had bent before W’ratr’s will and his heart had been filled with an almost divine joy.

Making as little sound as possible he slipped away, K’san must be told, he must bear witness.


It was almost dark when Sargeant Berbatov and his patrol found Major Walters. They had at first found his sword lying discarded amongst the rocks and had begun to worry.

“Good evening, Major,” Berbatov casually greeted Walters, “Wanted a bit of you time?”

Walters smiled in spite of himself and responded, “Just needed some time to think, Sargeant”.

“Ah,” said the Sargeant, “Does that take a long time or are you about finished, Sir?”

“Just about finished, Sargeant. Did you want anything in particular? Or ….”

“No, Sir,” replied Berbatov, ”We were out for a stroll and thought we’d pop by, sir. Thought you might be hungry.”

“Very well, Sargeant. Lead on,” said Walters, suddenly realising he was famished.

At that moment Sargeant James appeared, with two K’ran.

“A party, Sargeant.” Asked Walters sardonically.

“Good idea, Sir!” chuckled Berbatov.


Sargeant James stopped and stared at the battered rock face in shock. Cracks ran up its surface and there were two distinct holes, whose lower face was patterned in a row of evenly spaced indentations. He ran his finger over them and whistled in amazement.

He realised he was being left behind and hurried to join up with Berbatov’s party and then he grinned to himself. He must remember to remind his fellow Sargeant not to upset Major Walters, ever.

lunes, 8 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Eight

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Walters stood on the makeshift platform Berbatov had raised, with the help of his boys, in a cleared area in front of the outpost. His men, a concept he still found hard to believe, waited patiently for him to speak. He had tried writing a speech along the lines of those he had heard from other officers, but they really did not seem to apply. In the end, he had decided to just say what he was thinking, what he felt.

Right now, though, his mouth was dry and his palms were wet. His head ached and he wanted to be anywhere else but here. Taking a deep breath, he began.

“There are those who would question our right to be here, who wish to see us fail. There are others, waiting to forcibly take not only this right, but our lives, our very souls.”

He watched them, their reaction, the shuffling of feet, the nervous glances and forced laughter and continued.

“We have lived through much in a short time; fear, betrayal, death and the loss of an ideal. But we have also found anger, courage, strength and a belief in ourselves and those by our sides.”

Walters saw the change as they straightened, nudged the men by their side and how their interest was quickened.

“Today we will need that courage more than ever as we face an enemy who will spare no-one, whose only thought is pain and chaos. Who believes in nothing but the destruction of all we have come to stand for.”

Now he saw flickers of fear in their eyes but also a stubbornness, born of adversity.

“I am proud to lead you into this battle, proud that you have honoured me with your loyalty. Strengthened, that we are together as one, and that we will let nothing stand in our way.

“When this day, this battle is over and the field lies covered with the enemy dead. We will mourn our lost comrades, but we shall also praise them. They will have given their lives in defence of not only their freedom from the repression of others, but our own.”

Walters shook with the strength of his emotion, the pride he felt in these men and resolved not to let them down, not to fail in his quest to lead them out of this situation, off this planet and away from retribution.

He forced himself to breathe more easily and smile.

“There is only one more thing I have to say, and I cannot claim credit for this. In the famous words of Sargeant Berbatov, it’s time for some fun!”

Silence greeted his words and then came the sound. Low at first, but then gathering in momentum, the roar of men and K’ran augmenting the volume as they shook their fists, raised their weapons, and shouted their defiance so that all could hear.

“……Walters …….Walters …….Walters!”


Sargeant James has chosen well, thought Major Walters, as he studied the battle field. Patrols had been sent to harry and concentrate the enemy here, a valley between two small hills. His men were dug-in on the hillsides, ready to pour covering fire into the flanks of the oncoming K’ran and stop them bypassing his main force.

Wilson led the troops on the left hill, James on the other, with Berbatov here by his side. Walters knew that there would be little advantage from the terrain, but it was the best he could do. This would come down to a direct confrontation between the two sides. It was going to get bloody.

The silver furred K’ran moved back to join him, Walters smiling again at this morning’s surprise. He had at last found out what Berbatov had been up to. Each of the ‘puppies’ had been fitted out with a harness of sorts and were sporting an almost jaunty green bandana. In his unassuming way, the Sargeant had again corrected a potentially fatal tactical error. Now there was absolutely no way that they could mistake their allies for their enemies.

He heard the muted crackle of laser fire in the distance and unconsciously checked that his sword and pistol were in their accustomed places. Reassured he nodded to Berbatov and they moved forward as one.

Field Headquarters
Church Command

General Wolfe read his tactical report with an almost inhuman glee. ‘Major’ Walters was engaging with the Enemy, soon it would be time.

He turned to the communications operator, “Transmit the message to Captain Arnesson.”

“But Sir!” protested the man.

“Just do it!” screamed Wolfe and the soldier turned to obey his General.

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Walters dived sideways, avoiding the snapping teeth and fired his pistol into the K’ran’s side. He had no time to appreciate the damage the round had done, as he ducked under another’s razor sharp claws. The blow was so close it scraped the top of his head, flipping off his cap and drawing blood. Screaming in defiance he struck upwards with the sword, the blade smashing its way through teeth and bone as he wrenched it from side to side, finally emerging from the top of the beast’s skull.

There had been no respite and, as he had predicted, the battle had devolved into a mass of screaming and twisting bodies. He had lost sight of Berbatov, but the welcome flash of green, accompanied by a howl of triumph announced the arrival of the silver K’ran and his group.

Taking time to look around him, Walters found it difficult to determine how the fight was going. It didn’t look good though. They were heavily outnumbered and now that the advantage of their firepower had been negated, things could only get worse.

Initially, the ordered volleys of laser fire had taken a terrible toll on the K’ran attackers, who had relied on their speed and agility to counteract the superior firepower of Walters and his men. Everything had changed when Wilson’s position had been overrun and the men driven like cattle down into the valley below. Within the rock covered hillside there was too much cover for the K’ran, who had pressed their advantage. James still held the right hand side hill, but was retreating steadily, determinedly reducing the K’ran numbers.

Then he heard a tremendous roar from the rear ranks of the K’ran and using the corpse of one of the dead beasts as a step, he climbed momentarily above the crowd around him. And wished he hadn’t.

Pushing its way through the Tauran Forces was the biggest K’ran he had ever seen, its silver fur covering a body of titanic proportions. The muscles under its skin bunched and rolled as it barged its way through.

“Oh, frak!” he muttered to no-one in particular.


K’san heard the roar and knew that his father had arrived. He felt the momentum of the battle swing and the renewed energies of the opposing K’ran, as each attempted to outdo the other in the ferocity of their need to impress the all-powerful leader of their pack.

“It is time,” hissed K’san, and to K’rantu, “stay with W’ratr, keep two of our brothers with you and protect him with your lives!”

K’rantu gave a short bark and stood watching as K’san tilted back his head and howled. His pack brothers gathered around him and as one they charged in a tightly meshed group, smashing their way through their enemies.

K’shir heard the howl and spoke, “He comes, My Lord. His heart is yours!” He felt the presence of The Lord joining with him, the elixir of his ravening spirit intoxicating him. He too howled, and the K’ran parted as a wave before him.


Fighting ceased around Walters as the K’ran allowed their leader to pass. It continued near both hills, where the engagement was brutal in the extreme. The Major rested on his sword, taking advantage of the brief respite, but then he saw the fatal charge, and ran closely followed by K’rantu and his brothers.


K’san skidded to a halt in front of his father, unable to repress a shudder of awe at the spirit-imbued beast.

“Father,” he growled softly.

“No longer, traitor. It is time you pay the price for your treachery. I want your still beating heart in my mouth and there I will extinguish you for good.”

This thing was no longer his father, the spirit of The Lord had corrupted him further. With a roar K’san leapt.


Walters saw the blow, heard the ribs break and the concussion of sound as K’san hit the floor. He saw the almost sedate approach of the huge silver beast, whose tongue swiped too and fro across its line of sharp teeth. Without stopping his run, he drove his sword full into the thing’s back, using his momentum to its fullest.

There was an ear-shattering roar and the beast turned, the still singing sword buried deep within it. The force of its turn ripping the weapon out of the Major’s hand. It rose up on its hind legs and struck. Its claws punched through the greatcoat, drawing Walters in towards the grinning maw above him. At lightening speed it withdrew its formidable weapons and struck again.

This time it enfolded the Major in a bear-like hug and tightened its grip. Walters felt the claws entering his back inexorably and smelt the terrible stench of its breath. The pain was intense and there was nothing he could do to stop it, his arms were crushed against his sides and he was held in a vice-like grip.

He had thought the agony could get no worse, but he was wrong, the beast used the claws embedded in his flesh to lift him and he screamed. Walters felt the touch of its saliva on the recently opened scratches on his head, and mewling in pain, buried his face against the rank fur before him.

Unbidden, the animal in him took over and Walters bit. At first K’shir felt nothing, then an annoying nip like that of one of his playful offspring, then true pain. He roared and tried to throw the human away, but in his Lord’s ecstasy he had dug too deep. His claws were entrenched in the body of the human below him, locked between skin and bone.

The realisation that he was dying hit Walters, but he was beyond caring. His only focus was on boring his way into the beast’s throat, chewing and gnawing he kept on. He was rewarded by the spurt of black arterial blood and felt the thing’s life pumping into his throat and he smiled. Then he swallowed, and his throat constricted as he felt the thing’s blood scald his flesh. It burned, oh how it burned.


Berbatov looked on in desperation, tears streaming down the big man’s face. They could do nothing for the Major, the beast in its frenzy to release its hold on him had opened huge gashes in Walters’ back. The Sargeant could see the white of bone, flashing amongst the mixture of red and black. He snarled and rammed the point of his halberd into the thing’s back, again and again.


K’rantu knew he had failed, but he would not let W’ratr die unavenged. Snapping and snarling he used his claws to drag himself up K’shir’s back and sank his teeth into the K’ran’s neck.


Deep within the Fortress, The Lord cried out in pain and rage. He had been so close to victory, but could feel it draining away as the K’ran’s blood spilled out onto the ground. Removing his connection with K’shir he shook his head from side to side, slightly disorientated. When he raised his head once more, his face was contorted in a expression of pure fury. This time there would be no mistakes, he would take care of the Church scum himself.


K’san limped up to join Berbatov, who continued to strike at K’shir’s body. He knew it was futile, but he could do nothing else. It was then they saw the change as K’shir’s body physically seemed to diminish and the K’ran fell back onto all fours, burying Walters beneath it.

Although its blood now ran only a darker shade of red, wisps of smoke still curled from the Major’s mangled body. His head and upper arms were black and charred. All noise had ceased but as K’rantu finally unlocked his jaws, the sound of power cells being replaced and angry growls echoed across the battlefield. It was then it happened.

The thing that had once been Major Walters began to writhe, thrashing from side to side and then the body of the now dead K’shir exploded off it in a rain of blood and gore. Wounds began to heal before their eyes, the body began to swell and it stood. The eyes opened, sparking a feral green and yellow, it opened its mouth and howled.

The sound uluated across the field of battle, reverberating in the chest of each and everything there. All fell to their knees, except Berbatov who stared stoically into its face, as the eyes changed back to their normal colour and it turned and spoke.


“Major,” nodded the big man, pulling a battered officer’s cap from his tunic pocket and twisting it back into an almost recognisable shape. He meekly offered it to Walters and grinned, “Now that was fun!”

domingo, 7 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Seven

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

“Me and my big mouth,” cursed Walters, as he looked out over the ranks of Church Guard positioned below him. There looked to be at least three companies of Guards, spread out over the rough terrain and he had received reports of another company approaching from the west. At least there were no armoured units with them, if that could be called a blessing. And to make matters worse, James had reported in on the communications circuit, that advanced units of Tauran forces had been spotted, early this morning.

“It seems, Sargeant,” he said, turning to Berbatov, “that we are between a rock and a hard place.”

“Not to worry, Sir,” responded the Sargeant confidently, “you’ll think of something.”

“Oh, I’m thinking of something, Sargeant …” he muttered, but stopped to watch Private Williamson sprinting up the hill.

“Sir, Sir!” gasped the soldier, skidding to a stop, “you’ve got to see this.”

“Unless you are here to tell me that everyone is surrendering, due to our overwhelmingly unassailable position, I don’t really need to actually see anything else,” commented Walters sarcastically.

Williamson stood open mouthed before him, “H-h-h-ow did you know, Sir?”

“What? Speak up soldier,” urged Walters, restraining himself from grabbing the private by the front of his tunic and shaking him.

“We’ve just had a call over short range communications, Sir. They want to surrender to you, personally. You are to watch the front ranks, Leftenant, Sir.”

Walters turned and saw three men move out in front of the Church Forces, an officer at their head.

“Berbatov, we have some visitors, let’s go,” he said as, adjusted the sword by his side.

“Could be a trap,” gruffed Berbatov, then laughing he picked up the now infamous halberd, “could also be a whole lot of fun!”

Walters scowled at him, and settled his cap more firmly on his head. He felt the comforting nudge of the K’ran by his side and placed his hand on its head.

“Okay, let’s do this,” he said firmly, leading his two companions down the hill.


“So it is true!” breathed the young officer, as they watched the two men and the K’ran come towards them, apparently at ease in each others company.

“Stand still,” he ordered as a ripple of unease travelled through the ranks.

Berbatov grounded his halberd as he came to a halt and stared threateningly at the Guards before him. The silver furred K’ran growled menacingly, standing ready by Walters’ side. Walters himself said nothing, waiting instead for the Guard Officer to speak.

“Sir!” barked the officer, snapping to attention with a parade ground salute.

“To what do we owe this pleasure…?” queried Walters.

“Second Leftenant Wilson, Sir. I am here to relinquish command of 2nd , 4th and 5th companies to yourself, Sir.”

“A Leftenant in charge of three companies? Rather unusual wouldn’t you say?” asked Walters.

“Major Burne is injured, Sir. So I have assumed command in his absence, Sir.” replied Wilson quickly.

“And the good Major, is in agreement with your decision?” questioned Walters, watching closely for the other man’s reaction.

“I am sure he would be, Sir, if he was not so indisposed,” responded Wilson.

“Hmm. Rather interesting. And the fourth company approaching from the west? What do you know of that, Leftenant?” The man looked surprised, his reaction genuine. “Nothing, Sir, I can assure you.”

“Very well, Leftenant. Let’s say that I believe you. What would you have me do with your men?”

“We are here to fight the Tauran scum, Sir. With you, Sir?” replied Wilson, tremulously.

“This scum!” snapped Walters pointing at the K’ran by his side, who bristled at the tone in his voice.

“N-no,Sir. We heard that there was a large force coming to attack you here. That you would need assistance. That men from the 5th Lutheran and others were fighting by your side. That you did not prejudge those who were unfortunate enough to have been on the wrong side of the bombardment, Sir” he replied rapidly, stiffening further into his position of attention.

“All that is true. But there is one important question, Leftenant. The answer to which you need to consider well.”

“Y-y-y-es, Sir?”

“Who are you fighting for?”

Leftenant Wilson made as if to speak, but the man behind coughed and then moved forward. He was carrying a pole on which was tied a roll of cloth. Without speaking he unfurled the cloth and as if in answer, a breeze began to blow, which caught the cloth and lifted it fluttering before them. The breeze strengthened and there snapping in the wind before them, crudely fashioned, was the snarling K’ran’s head.

Cheers rang out, and Berbatov leaned in towards him, “Looks like you just got a promotion,Sir.”

Field Headquarters
Church Command

“What are you telling me, Major?” Wolfe snarled at the cowering officer before him.

“It appears that we have lost contact with a number of our units, Sir,” replied the man, quaking before the General’s anger.

“And what do we know of their movements?” asked Wolfe dangerously.

“Captain Arnesson has reported from orbit that they appear to be concentrating on Leftenant Walters’ position, General, Sir.” responded the Major, looking as though he expected to be slapped.

“Are they attacking …?” the sweet tone of the General’s voice, appeared to make it even more menacing.

The Major took a deep breath and replied, “No, Sir. Captain Arnesson indicates that they are deploying in a standard defensive formation, Sir.”

Wolfe turned slowly away from the Major and seemed to be struggling internally with his anger. After a few moments he turned back round and spoke, “Very well, get me Walters on the comm. We need to talk.”

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

“Yes, General Wolfe. How can I help you?” asked Walters, speaking calmly into the transmitter.

“It seems as though we got off on the wrong foot, Walters. I am willing to try again, if you are.” The General appeared to be in a conciliatory mood.

“Very amenable of you General,” Walters, managed to keep the mirth out of his voice, but only just.

“We seem to have the same goal in mind, that of ridding this planet of the Tauran Forces. I am a loyal servant of the Church, but am not blind to the role you can play in this. Will you work with me?” the General’s words came across as sickeningly sweet.

Walters waited a moment, collecting his thoughts, “General, General. Right now our objective is aligned I would say, rather than being the same. I seem to have a major disagreement with the Tauran Forces. Not really sure what I’ve done, apart from stealing some of their men and killing a few more of them. Sound familiar?” and not waiting for a reply, “Anyway, once I have dealt with that problem, what assurance do I have that you won’t just come running in to ‘reassign’ us?”

Walters could feel the grinding of the General’s teeth through the transmitter, but then he spoke, “I am willing to offer you a field commission to Captain, for the duration of this conflict. As long as you co-ordinate your actions with mine.”

“Make it Major and I’ll consider it,” replied Walters, grinning to himself, “Oh, and remember General, co-ordination does not mean interference.”

There was silence for an extended period of time and then the answer came, “Very well, Major.”

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Walters flicked off the switch and stared into the distance. Things had just gotten a lot more complicated. There was absolutely no way that his command, nor commission, would be accepted once hostilities ceased. Neither General Wolfe nor his Inspectors would think twice about ‘reassigning’ him, killing the K’ran and liquidating the men who had joined him.

If he was to get out of this, he would have to think of something original, something unique. That, was for later though, right now, as Berbatov would say, it was time for some fun.


The newly crowned Major looked on in amazement at the scene before him. Sargeant Berbatov was buried beneath a mass of snarling and snapping bodies. With an enormous heave, he exploded from the middle of the melee and with a shout of pure glee, dived back in again.

To one side stood Williamson, in his arms what looked like a pile of green cloth, which he dropped to the floor as Berbatov barrelled into him, cursing happily.

“Sargeant!” shouted Walters, “When you have a moment?”

Berbatov batted one of the K’ran playfully on the side of the head and, after dusting off his trousers, swaggered across to Walters.

“Major, Sir!” he saluted in an awful rendition of standard drill.

“Could you possibly explain to me what is going on?” asked Walters, wincing as he saw the crafty expression cross the Sargeant’s face.

“Measuring, sir,” responded the Sargeant, staring past Walters’ shoulder.

He resisted the urge to turn and look at what Berbatov was fixated on and tried again. “Measuring, Sargeant?”

“Yes, Sir. Exactly, Sir,” replied Berbatov.

Walters waited patiently for more information, but it soon became obvious that Berbatov had nothing more to add. He tried again.

“And Williamson?”

“Helping me, Sir!” shouted Berbatov, getting into the swing of things.

“Helping you ……?” queried Walters, wishing he had never started this.

“Yes, Sir!” said Berbatov, giving the expected response, “Will that be all, Sir?

“Yes, Sargeant. That will definitely be all for now,” said Walters, as he watched Berbatov’s about turn in dismay.

Berbatov stopped to help Williamson gather up the cloth and then, with one arm around the nervous soldier’s shoulders, led him cheerfully away.


K’san looked on at the interplay between the two men, their bond was obviously strong. It would need to be. Tomorrow they would face the might of his father’s forces and they would need true strength and belief. He knew that there could be no quarter in this battle. The Lord had pronounced the death of W’ratr and his own father had sworn to personally fulfil his command, with specific emphasis on the death of his former son.

The K’ran knew this as more of his brothers had joined him, but alone they would not be enough. They needed W’ratr to lead them. He had proven that he was worthy of their brotherhood and they would fight, not just with him, but for him.
It would not be a battle only of guns and swords, but claws and fangs. There were many who needed to win their names, on both sides. He growled softly and K’ranwon and K’rantu moved to join him. As one they padded forward to join their pack.

sábado, 6 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Six

Field Headquarters
Church Command

The musty smell of stale sweat and the remains of a half-eaten meal permeated General Hamner’s private quarters. He had spent the previous evening locked within his room, accepting no callers and feigning a headache. Each day his officers asked for more information as the situation worsened and he found it easier to avoid answering their, to him, ridiculous questions.

Today he would make an effort to instil some level of discipline within them, who were they to question his judgement? He swung his legs off the bed and tugged at the front of his crumpled jacket. His nose wrinkled in disgust, as his own scent wafted to his nostrils. It was time to get cleaned up and face the day.

It was then he heard raised voices outside, followed by the sound of a falling object, and a pounding began on the door, almost matching that in his head.

“General Hamner, open this door,” roared someone from outside the portal.

Hamner cracked open the door, ready to demand an explanation for the impertinent attitude, but was roughly bowled backward, catching his knee against his desk and sprawling unceremoniously to the floor.

“What the...” he began.

“Say nothing, you miserable excuse for a human being.” A man stood in the doorway pointing an accusing finger at the cowering General.

“I am General Wolfe of the 5th Lutheran Light Infantry. It appears I have arrived none too soon.”

“Guards!” shouted Hamner, backing away from the furious officer.

“They can’t hear you. My men have taken them into custody and you, sir, are under arrest for gross incompetence.” hissed Wolfe

“How dare you,” spluttered the General.

“How dare I? You have managed to decimate your command. You have lost all control over your men. The troops are in open rebellion and we have an unknown quantity of Tauran Forces, up to He knows what, on our doorstep. You are lucky I don’t summarily execute you right now!”

“That is a clear misrepresentation of the facts!” screamed General Hamner, beginning to recover his normally bellicose nature. “Men from your own command are the rebels, they have turned away from Him and joined those same Tauran Forces. Do not preach to me about competence …”

Hamner’s tirade was abruptly terminated, as Wolfe’s fist crashed into his jaw, cartwheeling him across the room. Before he could react, he was struck again and again, sliding blissfully into unconsciousness.

“Sargeant!” shouted Wolfe, breathing heavily as the non-com entered the room and saluted. “Get this thing out of my sight!”

“Yes sir!” replied the Sargeant, indicating to another soldier to help him lift the limp body upright.

General Wolfe followed the men from the room, stooping in front of one of Hamner´s staff.

“You,” he said through gritted teeth, “Take me to the Communications Centre. I need to get this mess cleared up right now!”

The man nodded obsequiously and, not waiting to see if the General followed, rushed off down the corridor.

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Their outpost was now a hive of activity, men coming and going, organising supplies and re-supplies. James had recently returned from a foray into Imperial territory. His mission had been to scout the area and locate supply dumps and positions. He had struck lucky, when he had followed a group of transports to a nearby depot. It appeared that word had spread and upon seeing the emblem displayed on their tunics, the supply group had not only turned around, but had stopped to pick up further ammunition at the depot. Those self same transports were now being frantically unloaded.

He heard welcoming yips and saw Berbatov and his men returning. Gambolling like puppies alongside him was a group of K’ran. It seemed that the beasts had an affinity for the big man, who was striding through them kicking and cursing. Walters had decided to concentrate Berbatov’s attentions on the Tauran Troops, his wholehearted murderous frenzy was much bettered suited to this field of operation. The truth be told, Walters was a little uneasy still, with the idea of unleashing the K’ran and Berbatov against Church soldiers. It did not seem strictly right. He could stomach it, if it had to be done, but under preference tried to avoid.

“Sargeant,” acknowledged Walters as he came closer.

“Leftenant, Sir,” grinned Berbatov, “now that was fun.”

“Fun, Sargeant?” queried Walters.

“Oh yes, Sir, lots of fun,” he replied.

“What exactly was so much fun, Sargeant?” asked Walters, knowing that he would regret the question shortly.

“Well, Sir. You remember asking me to have a look see at what our mangled friends were doing?” and not waiting for his Leftenant to respond, he continued, “Everything was going along peaceful-like, when we happened upon one of their routine patrols. The puppies decided that they couldn’t wait for me and dived right in. Now, I couldn’t let them have all the fun, could I sSr?”

Walters snorted in disbelief, but waved the Sargeant on.

“The boys and I got stuck in. They seem to have caught onto the idea of hitting hard and taking no prisoners. So we did, and they didn’t. As I said, Sir, fun .” ended the Sargeant, waiting like one of his ‘puppies’ for some praise.

“Did you retrieve any information? Any idea as to what they were up to? …” his voice trailed off, noticing the blank expression on Berbatov’s face. “Yes, Sargeant, glad you had some fun. Carry on.”

Berbatov saluted sloppily and ambled off to join his men. Next time, thought Walters, I’m doing the scouting and taking James with me.

Main Courtyard
The Fortress

Rank upon rank stood before him in abject terror, incapable of meeting his eyes as he stalked back and forth. Now and then he stopped, drew the serrated blade from its sheath and plunged it deep into the chest of the nearest of his followers. Each time, he twisted the blade savagely, tearing it free, revelling in the torrent of blood. Almost absent-mindedly he raised the blade to his lips, licking the rapidly congealing mess and then starting his pacing once more.

“Where are my Generals?” he roared, and the front ranks parted to allow them access.

“We are here, my Lord,” they chimed in unison.

“You!” he snarled, “Come here.”

The K’ran General flowed across the ground without fear and rose to his full height, muscles rippling beneath his silver fur.

“You were created to serve me, yet, I hear tales of desertion, stories of your youths leaving to find the truth about the K’ran. To test themselves against others of your kind. And now, I hear that amongst the followers of this W’ratr, in fact at his side is one of your offspring. Speak K’shir.”

“Lord. I too have heard these rumours and myself have chastised those who speak of this. The one they talk of is dead to me. I personally will tear the living heart from his body and feed it to you. Let me lead my warriors into battle and expunge this stain upon our honour. The Dark One will feed deeply, I swear it,” and with this he bowed fully down before his Lord.

“Do not fail me, K’shir,” he menaced, placing the edge of the serrated blade against the K’ran’s throat. “You will not live long enough to regret it.”

Field Headquarters
Church Command

“What is going on out there?” asked General Wolfe, to no-one in particular.

Reports were patchy, but it appeared that there was at last movement from the Enemy. Unusually the impending attack seemed to be concentrated on one of the former positions held by Church Forces, and from which had emanated the damning message cited by Hamner. In the last few days information had been arriving of continued skirmishing with apparently heretical personnel, however the local troops seemed to be playing down the severity of this threat. It just did not make sense.

Why would Tauran Forces be concentrating on this outpost, if indeed it was a hotbed of anti-Church sentiment? Who was organising these men and what were their plans? Whatever the situation he needed to know the truth and as such he motioned to the communications operator.

“I need you to transmit a message for me, soldier. Put it on a tight band, and repeat it word for word. Keep transmitting the message until you get an answer of some sort. When you do receive a reply, call me at once.”

The soldier merely nodded in acceptance and began his transmission. His job was not to question the General’s sanity, merely to obey.

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

“Sir, Sir!” the communications man, hurriedly interrupted Walters’ thoughts. “We have an incoming transmission from Command, direct from a General Wolfe.”

“General who? Never mind, what does it say?” inquired Walters, putting aside his data pad.

“It’s better that you come and hear for yourself, Leftenant, Sir,” replied the soldier, worriedly.

“Okay, let’s go,” replied Walters climbing to his feet and following the man.

There were a crowd of men waiting anxiously for his arrival, including Berbatov and James. They said nothing, but moved aside to give him access and the operator flicked a switch, allowing all to hear the message clearly.

“This is General Wolfe, calling Lutheran 5th Light Infantry forces currently operating outside recognised authority. Report in immediately. I repeat, report in immediately. This is an emergency.”

“And?” queried Walters, “What exactly has this to do with me?”

“Sir,” stammered the operator, “this is on a fixed beam transmission. It’s directly meant for us, Sir.”

Walters looked at the expectant faces around him and spoke, “Oh, alright. I’ll speak to him, whoever he is. Yes, James?”

“I know the name sir. He’s on the General Staff of the Lutheran Command. He’s the bastard who left us here with Hamner!”

“Well, well.” mused Walters, “then this should be interesting. Patch me in.”

Once he was given the go-ahead he made as if to speak into the communications apparatus, but Berbatov interrupted him.

“Sir. I think it’s only right that I speak first. A kinda introduction, Leftenant, Sir”

Walters arched his eyebrow in surprise, but passed the instrument over to Berbatov.

“Hello. How can we help you?” he asked, smirking at Walters.

The Leftenant snorted in disgust and waited for the reply. It was not long in coming.

“This is General Wolfe. With exactly whom am I speaking? Please follow formal communication protocol. Over.”

“Me.” responded Berbatov, “Oops, sorry….Over.”

“Is this a joke? I would like to speak with your Commanding Officer. Over.”

“Sorry, he’s indisposed at the moment. I’ll have to do. Over.”

Walters could feel the anger emanating from the equipment in palpable waves and snatched the receiver out of Berbatov’s hand.

“This is Walters. Never mind the protocol, General. What can we do for you?”

“I want your name, rank and serial number, soldier,” answered the General coldly.

“Okay, General. Let’s do this by the numbers, well in a fashion anyway. You are speaking with Leftenant Walters and I’ll agree to remain civil, as long as you do.”

“This is gross insubordination …” began the General, but was cut off as Walters snapped his reply into the transmitter.

“Enough, General. Let’s stop playing games. You called me, something about an emergency. Oh, and whatever happened to General Hamner?”

“General Hamner has been reassigned. For now I will overlook your insubordination, but we will have a reckoning. Leftenant, I do not remember a Leftenant Walters in the Lutheran 5th?”

“Good news, saves me a job anyway and no you wouldn’t, remember me that is, General. What is the emergency you called to discuss with me?” insisted Walters.

“Very well, Leftenant. Your position is about to be overrun by a large force from the Fortress above you. I will be sending someone to relieve you immediately and take over your command. You will report back here to me, for debriefing.”

“Hmmm, debriefing a lovely word,” mused Walters. “However General, we need to clarify a couple of points. One, it would be unwise on your part to assume that you can send someone to relieve me, the last person to try that ended up being reassigned. And two, I don’t think the make-up of my current command exactly fits within the textbook definition of a normal Church Guard unit.”

“The 5th Lutheran Light Infantry fits perfectly within the definition …” the voice trailed off.

“Ah. You seem to be getting the point, General. This is not the Lutheran 5th, let’s call it an independent command, with an attached mobile unit,” and looking at the K’ran, “extremely mobile and rather experimental. We have so far managed to secure this area, repelling all attempts to displace us. I can assure you that we will continue to do so.”

Walters looked at the men around him, “Oh, and General, thanks for the warning. Please do feel free to call and chat at any time. Walters, out.”

Field Headquarters
Church Command

The General turned and kicked out savagely at a nearby container, sending it skittering across the room. He glared at the communications operator, daring him to say something. When no reply was forthcoming, he turned abruptly and left the room, leaving the soldier gazing pensively after him.

Making sure the General and his staff had left, the man reached once more for his equipment. He paused, thinking for a moment and then began to transmit a new message.

miércoles, 3 de marzo de 2010

Chapter Five

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

Walters knew there was something unusual going on; it was not common practice for the majority of the men to be huddled around Berbatov, in fact they normally did their best to avoid him. Yet, since yesterday’s battle, there was a change and now this. He sauntered over to the rear of the confiscated Carrier and Corporal James jumped up with a guilty, “Sir!”. Instead of the normal rapid dispersal following his appearance, the men stood together, their heads hung in embarrassment.

“Berbatov?” he queried, causing the man to back out of the rear of the vehicle.

“Yes, Sir?” he replied, sheepishly.

“What’s going on?”

“Well Sir, it’s like this,” began Berbatov. “The boys and I,” and here indicated the troopers, “we were thinking it wasn’t right, Sir?”

“What, wasn’t right, Sargeant,” queried Walters exasperatedly.

“That we don’t have one Sir.”

“One what, Sargeant?” Walters could see that this was going to be painful.

“A picture, Sir, “ and seeing Walters’ incomprehension, “ for the boys sir. Oh, and especially for you, Leftenant.”

With that he pulled what looked like a bundle of cloth, from behind his back, and continued his explanation. “The Lutheran’s had one, even the Penal guys had one, Sir. So we decided “Walters Army”, had to have one. Especially with Williamson being so good at it, Sir.”

Walters had a strong urge to pull out his pistol and shoot Berbatov there and then, but he just managed to restrain himself and smiled encouragingly. With a quite theatrical gesture Berbatov unfurled the cloth, revealing a remarkable likeness of a snarling K’ran in silver, stitched onto the green background.

“What do you think, Sir?”He asked, a huge grin on his face.

“I like it,” gruffed Walters, turning away to hide the emotion he felt and it was then he noticed Williamson with his needle and thread, stitching a smaller version to one of the men’s tunics. He now looked more closely and saw that the majority of them had already passed by Williamson’s clothing outlet; the emblem had been hidden as they had huddled around the Sargeant.

He almost fell over the K’ran as he turned away and called back to the Sargeant.

“What about them, Sargeant?” and here he indicated the animals.

“Sorry, Sir. They are the emblem,” replied the Sargeant.

“Well, following your logic, they need names and I’m sick of calling this one Puppy. What do you suggest?” Walters was sure he had caught the grinning brute out.

The Sargeant thought for a moment and then with a laugh said, “Easy Sir. Kran One and K’ran Two.”

Walters turned back to the beasts and feeling slightly awkward, he pointed at them in turn, indicating the silver one initially. “Okay, this one is K’ran, to the blue-grey beast, K’ran One and to the green K’ran Two.”

The animals howled as one and began leaping and cavorting around him.

“Looks like they like the names,” quipped Berbatov, and turned away laughing.


“We have been named,” they howled together, “we are pack!”

Geostationary Orbit
Church Fleet Command

As the shuttle docked into the larger vessel, General Wolfe unbuckled his seat restraint. It had been a tedious journey: the officers accompanying him had been poor company. His impatience had gotten the better of him on a number of occasions and he was sure that the two young men thought that he was close to madness. At last however, they were here.

A navy rating was waiting for the General in the docking bay, to show him the way to his quarters. He had been assigned an office on B deck and had asked that all of his belongings were placed there as soon as possible. In the meantime, he wanted to study all of the available information on the current campaign, in particular anything to do with the 5th Lutheran Light Infantry.

He was a little lost in thought, but as he glanced upwards he saw the markings for A deck.

“Where are we going, son?” he asked the rating.

“Sorry, Sir. My orders were to take you directly to the bridge, where the Captain is waiting for you.” replied the man.

Wolfe started to speak and then thought better of it. There was little chance that the lowly rating would know his Captain’s mind and so, he waited.

On entering the bridge he received a number of perfunctory salutes, which he returned impatiently. It was only when he reached the raised dais containing the Captain’s chair that he relaxed slightly. The man there, in middle age, rose to meet him with an outstretched hand and a welcoming smile on his face.

“General Wolfe, Captain Arnesson. Pleased to meet you, Sir”, he began, “I thought that it best I greeted you personally, especially in the current circumstances.”

“Excuse me, Captain. What exactly are the current circumstances?” Wolfe questioned a little anxiously.

“No one informed you General?”, and seeing the expression on his face, “Obviously not. Let me fill you in.”

“Please do, Captain,” replied Wolfe, taking the proffered seat at the Captain’s side.

“Well Sir, and getting straight to the point. It appears that your ex-command has rebelled directly against General Hamner’s forces, that is to say Church Forces. The overall details are still sketchy, but after the original assault on the fortress objective, and the subsequent retreat from the Tauran incursion by the CF battalion, the General ordered a clean up of the area. Both aerial and ground bombardment was ordered, which meant some regular troops did not have time to get out of the target zone.

“Once carried out, the General issued a proclamation that anyone who had survived this cleansing operation must be tainted by heresy and sent a clear instruction that these men must be eliminated.

“It appears that those Lutheran troops on our side of the line, refused to fire on their returning comrades. Inspector French led a team in to re-educate them and it appears he met with some trouble, terminal trouble that is.

“The General received a communication from an unknown source, which we assume was a member of the rebellious and hence heretical ex-Lutheran troops. This basically promised him a similar treatment to that received by the Inspector.”

“How do we know that this unknown source was one of my men?” queried Wolfe.

“We do not have clear confirmation, but General Hamner appears convinced,” responded the Captain, obviously a little uneasy at the tenuousness of his argument.

“And where is General Hamner right now? I would like to speak with him straight away, Captain.”

“He’s planet-side, General,” said the Captain, “directing our operations.”

“Right, never mind getting me settled in here, I want a shuttle organised to take my men and I directly to General Hamner. It seems my auditing skills are urgently required.”

Zone of Conflict
Unnamed Planet
Tauran Disputed Zone

‘Jimmy’ James counted slowly to ten and peered over the rock ledge, for once he felt like he was part of something. Spread out beside and slightly behind him were the men of the two sections with which he had been entrusted. Every day more men were joining them and poor old Williamson was constantly busy at his tailoring duties. The Leftenant had decided to give James a field promotion to Sargeant and had bumped up Chivas, one of James’ original squad to Lance Corporal. Chivas now ran the second section under James and was inordinately proud of the responsibility.

James was trying to instil some sort of military discipline in his men, unlike the maniacal Sargeant Berbatov, who basically taught his men to fear him first and the Leftenant second. Any fear of Him, the Tauran Forces or just about anything else was laughed at and it seemed to be working. Just yesterday Berbatov had led his men in another of his suicidal charges; they followed without pause and spent the whole time hooting with laughter. Totally unnatural it was.

A muted whistle was the signal he had been waiting for and he crouched down, checking that he had a fresh power pack in his laser rifle. He looked across at Chivas and nodded, after a short delay he heard the crump of detonating explosive and stood up, opening fire on the Tauran Troops below.


Walters was situated on the other side of the valley, waiting for the fighting to begin. He had thought long and hard about their next move and realised that they could depend on no one but themselves. They were hemmed in to the rear by the Church Forces under General Hamner and above them the unknown Taurans. Unknown as to motive, he knew that there were K’ran amongst them, but little else. He needed more information and he needed breathing space.

It was a dangerous gamble. Annoying both sets of forces could very quickly get them killed, but he needed to build on the unity of his men, and K’ran. Berbatov had given them an identity, he needed to give them a purpose. The only real purpose he could see right now, was to avoid getting shredded to pieces. So, he had decided to start small. First they had made the outpost their’s, then a small radius around it and now they were pushing out little by little. The Carrier had been turned into a gun emplacement, it’s auto cannon their first line of defence. Here and now he needed to make his enemies respect their zone of influence, “Their Shit” as Berbatov had so succinctly named it.

He felt the K’ran move beside him and placed a hand on the silver shoulders, it looked up at him and whined questioningly. One and Two were quiet, waiting in anticipation.

“Okay,” whispered Walters and drew his pistol, “let’s go”.


This time K’san did not race recklessly ahead, he paced along by W’ratr’s side, his packmates ranging to the right and left. He was sure of himself, of their victory. There would be death ahead, killing for everyone. He could be K’ran alongside W’ratr and he howled gleefully.


Leftenant Walters surveyed the aftermath of the battle, there had been in fact not much of a fight. James’ men had caught the enemy totally by surprise and had laid down a devastating wall of fire. Those that had not died or been mutilated by the carefully laid explosives, were caught in the hailstorm of laser bolts.

Walters looked down on the remains of one of the semi-human soldiers, its uniform a mimicry of a Church one. During his original training he had been told of the strange tatoos which would be plainly in view on such an enemy, either traced on cloth or directly into tissue. It was hard to say about the latter, as there was little recognisable of the body left. Their weapons were obviously stolen Inspectorate issue and poorly maintained. With a shrug, he turned away, he had wanted to give a message to the Enemy Commander and he hoped there was enough rationality left in the remains of his mind to understand it.

He spun as he heard a snarl behind him, but he was too late, crashing to the floor under the oppressing weight of the charging K’ran. He rolled to one side, managing to avoid the backward slash of claws which snagged on his greatcoat pocket. Walters didn’t try to clear his pistol from its holster, he simply discharged the weapon against the side of the raging beast above him. It was risky, but so too was doing nothing.

There was a smell of burning fur and charred meat, and he was free. He shrugged his way out of his greatcoat, throwing it to one side and drawing his sword, the weapon whistling reassuringly as it cut the air.

“Come on then,” he growled through gritted teeth as the massive beast charged.

Walters planted one foot forward, meaning to swing the weapon at the beast, but a stone rolled under his foot and he fell to one side. Determinedly he held onto the sword and the edge of the weapon bit into the back leg of the K’ran, half shearing it at the knee cap. Not waiting for his luck to change he scrambled to his feet and plunged the point into the back of the beast’s skull. His action was rewarded by a fine spray of blood and bone and then the weapon rverberated, it’s tip caught in the rocky earth below. He felt a hot breath on the back of his neck and reached slowly down to his boot, removing his combat knife. Things were about to get really ugly.


K’rin watched unbelievingly as his champion was downed by the puny human, one strike of his weapon and he was no more. Now though, the weapon was disabled and it was his turn. Bunching his muscles he readied himself for the killing leap. It was then he was struck simultaneously from the side and the rear, claws ripping into his flesh and severing tendons. He pulled himself up by his front paws, his rear set were useless as he had no muscle control due to the damaged ligature.

He saw something unexplainable, the human was surrounded on three sides by K’ran, but instead of dismembering him, they waited for him to recover his weapons and only then, they followed him towards K’rin. He heard his kin approach too, forming a circle around him, there were five of them left and they waited, growling softly.

K’san barked threateningly and pushed his way through them.

“Brother,” he hissed, “how low you have fallen.”

“How can this be,” mewled K’rin, the pain causing his breath to catch in his throat. “K’shir outlawed you, spoke the death words.”

“Our father’s words mean nothing to me. You and the others, decided that you would do the Lord’s bidding, murder your own brothers and why? Because we chose to question the need to forget who we are?”

Foam flecked K’san’s lips as he leaned closer, the words spat from his maw.

“We are K’ran. The Lord has fooled you. There are other ways to please the Dark One.”

“Blasphemy!” screamed K’rin, as K’san’s claws slashed through his throat.

“The truth.”

The words were quietly spoken by K’ranwon, but echoed by K’rantu. As he looked at the others, he heard first a murmur and then a roar.

“The truth!”


Walters heard the scrunch of gravel as James approached.

“What the frak is that all about Sir?” he asked pointing to the K’ran.

“I really don’t know, Jimmy, I really don’t know. But whatever it is, we should be thankful they’re on our side.”


Within the Fortress, the being known as the Lord stirred, something had changed. He had felt a thread part, a reduction in his vital energy. This world had been given to him to do with as he willed. It was his, as were all upon it. Raising his arms, he screamed his rage to the sky. There had been a birth, an unplanned event, a wrongness not created by him. It would be found, crushed, ground and brought pleading before him to beg for mercy and ultimately be destroyed.