miércoles, 15 de diciembre de 2010

Sudden Dearth III - A Leap Of Faith

As I am in the final stages of editing Book III in the series, I thought that I would give you all an insight into how it's going. So here is Chapter One of Book III...

Ori Homeworld

Cormach was angry. To be captured as easily as a newborn babe, whilst sleeping shamed him. He had been warned of the effect of excess, how it led to the Twisted Way. Yet he was young, over-confident and had ultimately paid the price. His nose wrinkled in response to the stench which wafted up from his unwashed and battered body.

They had taken a break and he sat in his and others’ filth. The rough chains and slave collar chafed against his skin. Runes ran along its length and negated his will. Not all, though. How he longed for the feel of his bow and blade in his hand. Then he would make these accursed Taurans pay. It was not to be though, his weapons lay forgotten on his homeworld, along with the shattered bodies of his kin.

The bestial grunts of his captors broke into his reverie and he flashed a hate-filled glance towards them. His time would come, yet for now he must wait.


Ships, bloated like flies after a carrion feed, rose from the burning remains of the Satellite colony. They had come to fill their bellies with sacrificial souls for their Master. It had been a good raid and now they left, before the Ori reaction force could retaliate. One by one they winked out of existence, the last leaving just as the first of the vengeful Ori vessels exited the boiling maelstrom of fold space.

Inside the lead ship, Lilith laughed. Her Master would be pleased. The forges and laboratories were waiting for these long-lived souls. The Artefact would be activated and their troops become unstoppable. Yes, it had been a good day.

Asmode's Lair

The Ori had seen his brothers and sisters herded into the dark doorways, he felt their fear and despair. Still he did not lose hope. Their misery had been compounded by the treatment they received within the Tauran ships and then on the forced march from the landing.

He recognised that his moment had come when the foul beast turned on its handler. The chariot’s passage back through his people snapped his chains and he rose, calling to his brothers to help. They ran blindly away from the tangled mess of bodies.

At first they made ground, but soon heard the sound of pursuit. Cormach began to lose hope when he was dragged roughly into an alleyway and saw more enemies awaiting him. Surprise stunned him into silence as they were roughly manhandled to one side and gold-armoured creatures stood to meet the Taurans’ charge. It was soon over and once again he was a captive.

He was shocked when they were not mistreated, yet bundled into a large room above the streets. The armoured men parted and he saw a silver-haired individual approach. There was something animalistic about him, barely held in check. He reminded himself that he was a true warrior of the Way and stood to meet his fate.

The man signalled to one of the smaller of the armoured figures, who removed his helm and Cormach gasped.


K’san saw the quickly masked amazement on the Ori’s face. S’sral’s collection of allies had been indiscriminate and now it was as though the rescued alien looked into a mirror. The only difference was the snarling K’ran’s head tattooed on his colleague’s pale face.

“Tell him why we are here,” he said, turning away, “and be quick about it. We don’t have much time.”


Lilith was furious. She had been so close to perfection, when the idiot guard had spoilt everything. With a snarl, she withdrew her knife and slammed it into the cowering man’s chest. He at least would not fail her again.

“Loose the beasts!”

More K’ran were brought from a nearby building. These were smaller, lithe and deadly. Bred for hunting, they strained in eagerness to be away. Their handlers took them close to some of the mashed corpses and they snuffled at the alien smell. Yips of excitement told her that they had found the scent of the fugitives and they were set free. There was no need to follow quickly behind them. She was no longer interested in the capture of the Ori prisoners. Their deaths would suffice.


A growl interrupted Cormach’s discussion. He looked up and saw the silver-haired man’s face contorted in anger. His eyes blazed and he barked something at two of his men. They were quickly away. The Ori was sure he saw their bodies changing as they ran, but it could have just been a trick of the light.

“Stay here!” K’ran snapped.

Then Cormach was sure, as the human’s body rippled and shuddered. Before him was a growling, fur-covered beast. It snarled once and then leapt after the others.

High Orbit

The craft hung silently above the planet. It was spherical in shape, silvered to the point of brilliance. One small red light pulsated, swishing round the sphere in a slow orbit. Without warning, it sped up. Now it blurred with its velocity, almost an excited and continuous line. A bubble in reality formed near it and a much larger ship winked into existence. The small craft whizzed upwards and a large black opening cracked wide, into which the tiny craft disappeared.

Master Arshavin sighed in contentment. It was as he suspected. Their mission was still alive and his new master, Shan, would be pleased. The time spent in study had not been wasted and the Artefact was still here. He bridled as the huge and pestilent bulk of a diseased Immortal brushed past him. Arshavin was lucky that he had no nose to smell the awful stench of Shan’s minion. It was bad enough that he could see him.

This one and his fellows’ presence on Arshavin’s craft, spoke clearly of the lingering mistrust in which he was held. Still, it was of little significance. He hurried to his control chair, sighing as he felt the surge of connection. Now he could carry out the first phase of his plan and perhaps at last be rid of the disease-infested Lord and his minions.

His commands were quickly transmitted and from the darkness of the open bay, silver forms emerged. They were larger than their tiny brother, cigar-shaped, but ending in a wicked point. Engines burst into life and drove them down through the unresisting atmosphere. Petal-like brakes deployed, slowing them, before falling away as their cargo bloomed forth.

Long, spindly arms flowed outwards from a diamond-shaped arm. They whipped in the self-generated breeze of descent for a moment, before realigning themselves into a streamlined shape. Explosively they struck the earth, burying deep into the tortured ground and destroying wilfully the horrid vegetation around them.

With a hiss and a groan they drew themselves forth, the trailing protuberances hardening into strong metallic legs. These clicked into life, drawing the diamond bodies upwards. Slender antennae appeared and twin red lights sparked. As one they moved forward, heading directly for the city in front of them.

Happy that his work was done, Arshavin sent his signal. Fold space began to boil and spat forth the Spiteful Dawn. Shan had come.

Asmode's Lair

Lilith was lost in the anticipation of the hunt when the first red bolt struck the city, tearing its way through barely resistive rock. It was followed by beam after beam, which melted a path through the surrounding buildings. She heard her Lord’s mental scream of rage at the temerity of the action and his irresistible call-to-arms. She spat in frustrated pique, then ordered half of her forces to deliver their charges below. The rest she would need.


K’san felt the impact of the beams through his pads, yet his focus must remain on the hunting pack. They skittered around the corner of the alley, their claws losing their grip and he chose that moment to attack. He leapt from the shadows, one taloned paw crushing the first of the K’ran’s skull. His brothers joined the battle and the alley became a mass of snarling growls, rending fangs and tearing claws. Although numerically at a disadvantage, K’san and his men were much larger than the hunting pack members. They had also been imbued with their Lord’s grace and so the battle was short and bloody.

At last they stood, chests heaving. Beneath the unsheathed claws of each of them lay the bared throats of their victims, submissively stretched. Another volley of energy weapons crashed into the city and K’san paused, squinting towards the sound of destruction.

He lifted his claws and spoke, “Follow.” The now submissive K’ran rose and fell in behind him as he stalked away. It seemed that someone else had arrived to stake their claim and with much heavier firepower. He needed to think.

Drop pods continued to fall in a virulent wave from the sky. Shan had lost little time in disembarking his troops, the urge to kill was strong upon him. The world below was already tainted with the kiss of one of the Taurans’ demons, but he had a different embrace in mind. Within a number of the pods were special packages, humans infested with the blessing of his patron. Once on the ground, they would release their own kind of welcome to their warped brothers. It would be delicious.

Master Arshavin continued to cluck and scold his creations as they methodically destroyed buildings and razed ground. Beams of terrific force melted rock and evaporated any flesh foolish enough to place themselves in their way.

Shan could feel the call of the Artefact and this time, there was no semi-deity to stand in his way. Instead he could sense the presence of souls in torment and it excited him to think of the use he would put them to.


Lilith drove her bestial horde onwards. Her anger now had a target and she screamed in rage, the froth of madness spitting from her lips. She called on her Master and felt his power surge through her body in response. Ropes of muscle stood out as she swelled, wings burst from her shoulders, horns pushed from her head in an explosion of gore and she leapt free. Her whip crackled with energy and shimmered with an awful heat. A cackling joy bubbled from her lips as the long weapon licked out.

The first of Arshavin’s creations felt the touch of her weapon. Its caress scored the metal, leaving a trail of acidic bubbles. With a grown the limb doubled over on itself and the machine crashed to the floor. Behind, her troops fanned out. They too felt their Master’s benediction and changed.


Within the city and from the roof of his building, K’san watched the drama unfold. He was surrounded by his followers, new and old and they watched in surprise as he dropped to his knees. Arms wide in supplication, he called out to his Lord. A fresh breeze sprang up from nowhere, his hair fanning out in response.

The K’ran who had recently joined him fell to the floor, their bodies wracked with convulsions of ecstasy. Cormach too bowed under the pressure wave of love and concern which washed over him.

As one, they clearly heard Walters’ voice as it roared through their minds, “I come, my children, do not fear.”

K’san turned to face them, his eyes blazing with a peculiar green light, “Prepare yourselves,” he crowed, “our Pack will run again!”


On the battlefield, deep within the forges and laboratories and even in the torture and slave pits they felt Walters’ call. K’ran knew the Truth, Ori a blessing and hope which renewed them, and they fought.

Shan spat in rage and fury, urging his troops on. Lilith screamed in challenge, before wheeling away, her wings beating strongly to carry her back to her Master’s side. There, upon his blood-soaked throne, her Master dropped the Artefact in his hand as it burnt and scored his flesh. He struck about him in a hate-filled frenzy. His goal had been so close and now he must begin again.


Masses of K’ran and Ori poured from the exits of the building below and huddled together in the main square. Their faces turned up to feast greedily upon the silent figure which stood high above them.

“Come,” said K’san, “it is time to gather our people, ready for our Lord’s arrival.”

They followed him down, pushing and shoving to be at his side, Cormach the foremost of them. Now he could fight and he screamed his battle cry of old, and from below he heard its echo.

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