Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hopefully the first of many...

I want to be an author.

This is no secret.  I enjoyed writing short stories as a child, and that hasn't gone away, but with many other competing interests and a job playing on my time, I never managed to get my stories  much more than short.  I've tried to write a couple of novels; one of which I've given up on in its current form (but not the idea behind it) and the other which has grown and bloated a little.  If I ever finish it, the editing will be monstrous!

The name of this blog is, in at least part, a reference to the fact that I've never really finished a substantial writing project.  I'm perpetually thwarted as an author, usually by no-one but myself.  Nevertheless, every now and again, I'll dust off my brain and try to get some writing done.  This is the result of one of those sessions; an entry for a pre-heresy short story competition.  It's quite a challenge to get a full story into a mere 1,000 words and the editing was difficult.  I don't envy people who do that shit for a living. 

Seeing as the deadline for entrants was January and I haven't heard anything back by now, I think I can safely assume that I didn't win.  This means that it is now the ideal space-filler for my blog!  I can't think of anything to write at the moment anyway.

The alarms sounded at a deafening volume as the reinforced bulkhead slammed down. The panicked shouts of those locked out lasted a few seconds, but were soon silenced by the percussive thuds of weapon fire.

Proctus Cabe cast a quick eye over his men, crouched behind the barricades of the corridor. Their positioning was, as ever, perfect. He hefted his Projector to a firing position and released the valves. The Projector bucked softly in his hands as the chemicals flooded the firing chamber. After the initial surge, the weapon’s innards settled into a steady rhythm, almost like a heartbeat. Cabe opened his eyes and joined his men.

A jarring impact rocked the bulkhead, but it held firm. No words passed between the Proctus and his men. None were needed. They knew their jobs. Another thunderous crash resounded around the corridor as a dent appeared in the alloy of the door. Not long now…

They had only met the ceramite-clad giants hours ago, although ranged communication had been exchanged for days. A large black-grey ship had ripped into the system and headed straight for Cator. The Assembly responded cautiously, sending military scouts to apprehend the interloping vessel. None returned. The aliens eventually opened communication with the Assembly.

A stern, impassive face had swirled and settled on the com-screen of the Assembly and demanded their immediate compliance. The Assembly had refused. As a Proctus of the Internal Guard, he had been there, watching dumbfounded as the sheer arrogance and presumption of the alien had radiated off the screen. The face had registered a flicker of emotion, a brief dark shadow cast across its pale features, then it had vanished. The dark ship still hovered in near orbit. The Catorran fleet had massed around the dark vessel, readying themselves for confrontation, but keeping their distance.

The next day there was a new face, a new demand. Again, the Assembly refused. However, this time the response was calmer, more reasoned. The possibility of a meeting was put forward. The specifics took the best part of three days to finalise. Eventually, the arrangements had been made. A small diplomatic cadre was to make its way to Cator’s surface and meet with the Assembly for negotiations.

The diplomatic cadre was more like a war-party; each one of their soldiers towering over even the tallest of the Catorran representatives greeting them. The ground reverberated under their footfalls. Their leader had removed his helmet to reveal a scarred, pale-skinned face with gunmetal eyes and a darkness of intent. Three metal studs lined the man’s brow. From the moment the Proctus had laid his eyes on that face, he knew that there would be no peace between them. There would be no compromise, no negotiation. But he could not countermand the orders of his superiors, and he held onto a brief sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, he was wrong in his assumptions. The giants were escorted into the Assembly Hall. The Internal Guard were present in force, the Assembly clearly taking no chances. Cabe had been dismissed from the room as negotiations had begun. He had then immediately gone to assemble and arm his team. He knew they would be needed. Twenty minutes later, the alarms had started to sound. Cabe did not know what had happened, but it didn’t matter.

The last scene he had witnessed of the Assembly Hall before the emergency bulkhead had slammed down were of pure horror. The weapons of the metal giants were unsubtle, and he had seen the walls of the once pristine hall splattered with the viscera of his colleagues.

Another impact on the door, another weakness appearing in its surface. Cabe calmed his twanging nerves by concentrating on his weapon. Deep in its veins pulsed its liquid ammunition. Necroxin. A compound designed by Catorran scientists, a compound designed to consume organic material at a frightening speed. A single shower of it could reduce a whole grox to organic slurry in a few seconds. The rapid dissolution of nerve endings in the target caused severe involuntary spasms, rendering them utterly ineffective for their remaining few seconds of life. It was, without a doubt, one of the most perfect weapons the Catorran had designed, and Cabe knew it would reap a vengeful toll on these treacherous invaders. For although their armour looked impregnable, Cabe had seen the weakness of it. The bends, the joints. They were definitely rubber-derived materials and would last less than a second against the caustic properties of his projector. Nevertheless, he was under no illusions. He would die today. It was just a matter of making his death count.

Something slammed into the door again, the thumping sound soon overtaken by a raw metallic screeching as a ceramite gauntlet burst through the door and tore it asunder. One of the giants stepped through, his armour scorched and damaged, but intact. The Catorrans fired in volleys, their metal slugs bursting uselessly on his monstrous form. The giant returned fire, and Cabe saw his men explode into bloody vapour.

Cabe bellowed and brought his weapon to bear, dousing the scene in front him with lethal chemicals. The metal giant dodged sharply to one side and expertly backhanded the projector away with such force that it broke free from Cabe’s grip and sent both him and his weapon skidding across the floor. Cabe looked up through bleary eyes at his enemy, and he saw the necroxin at work. The armour at the giant’s side sloughed off him as the rubberized joints gave way. He saw the giant’s muscular arm revealed by the falling armour, its pale skin swiftly being eaten away.
But there was nothing under the skin. No muscle, no bone. Just metal. The giant approached him contemptuously and clenched his iron hand, drawing it back for a deathblow as Cabe tried to scrabble away.

“The flesh is weak.” The giant’s voice was harsh and cold.

The blow fell.

Cabe joined the rest of his men.

Any comments/suggestions/criticisms/mindless praise?
I'm open to all of the above.  Hopefully I'll stick some more stuff up on this blogspace, maybe even galvanising myself to write new stuff, instead of being a lazy attention-whore.


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