With Greater Frequency

Here is a story I finished writing today. It came from me trying to include my knowledge of audio in a story. However that was too boring, so I wrote this:

With Greater Frequency

By Michael J Hollows

He hunkered down behind the rockcrete barricade, keeping his whole body in cover to avoid being detected. His black carapace armour was pitted and scarred from repeated fire, it had already saved his life on more than one occasion.  The armour was so battered he did not think it would offer much protection as he crouched behind cover. He could sense that there were enemy warriors nearby, the sound of occasional weapons fire evidence that they were advancing.

The other members of his squad were nowhere to be seen, now they were presumably lost in the fog, pinned down or worse, dead. Sergeant Agraax had led them in to this, adamant that they would prevail and prove their worth to the Chapter, now he too was gone, leaving Parvall alone.

Dust was falling off the barricade in torrents, but this was no normal dust fall brought on by the unsettling affect of the battle. The rockcrete wall seemed to vibrate in an unnatural way, the solid barrier almost pulsing in an irregular timing. Normally he would assume there was a large vehicle approaching, the weight of its tracks disturbing the ruins around it, dislodging the dust.  But, this was no normal dust fall. He could feel the vibration transmitting through the barricade as he touched his hand to its surface. Even through the dark bodyglove encasing his body the vibrations felt weird and pulsating. The low frequency energy was slowly building intensity and rising in pitch, dislodging more material from the ruined defences.

Suddenly a strange keening sound erupted from the direction of the enemy forces. Parvall had to resist the overwhelming urge to drop his rifle and clamp his hands to his ears. The high frequency sound assaulted his eardrums, quickly growing painful. Losing his rifle now would do him no good. The sound was almost calling to him, speaking of untold glory and great power, trying to break down his mental defences. With the urge to cover his ears was the urge to stand up walk out in to no-man’s land, tempting him to join the enemy and fight for the true gods.

The pain increased building in pressure behind his eyes, forcing a headache in to his temples. Tentatively he reached a gloved hand up to his ear, suddenly feeling a damp sensation on his cheek. His ears were sore, painful. As he drew his hand back again from his head he noticed the once black glove was now covered in blood, his blood. The pressure behind his eyes increased as the sound drew nearer, his mind ached with sharp pains and his vision swam.

There was only one thing for it, he would have to destroy whatever was producing this sound or die trying.

Slowly he reached for the rifle now resting at his knees. It had fallen as the pain in his head increased and he had momentarily lost control. To resist the call of that sound had taken all his willpower, focussing his mind and muttering a prayer to the Emperor. He wasn’t sure that his eardrums perforating, causing thick blood to slowly drip down his cheeks, had helped or not.

Forcing away the pain Parvall brought the scope of his rifle to his eye and began scanning around for the source of the awful noise. The fog was thick and covered everything, intermingling with the black smoke from ruined carcasses of tanks and the diffuse orange glow of fires. Finding targets was difficult, the shapes mere silhouettes and he couldn’t confirm if they were friend or foe.

Off to his left, past the barricade he could see a small group of figures kneeling on the ground. They were evidently in pain, their hands clasped to their ears, their bodies thrashing beyond control. The poor soldiers had been affected by the same sound that was deafening Parvall, but it was affecting them far more. They had been seduced by the siren call and had left cover to find its source. Now, due to the proximity of the attack, their flesh was slowly peeling from bones, melting away. They were in absolute agony, the pain overwhelming. Their wails added to the cacophony of noise.

Behind the small figures writhing in agony emerged the massively armoured forms of giants. There were three of them, clad in armour of the deepest black and purple and they carried weapons of a strange almost alien design. Each weapon seemed to seethe and mutate in the warriors grasp as though they were vibrating beyond control.

‘Emperor’s Children!’ Parvall breathed quietly.

The traitor’s presence went a long way to explain the discomforting sound. It was well known that the traitor legion employed the most insane, depraved ways of killing.

Before the sonic weapons could stall him again, he lined up one of the enemies between the stark crosshairs of his scope. The traitor had his head exposed, enjoying the scene with a wry grin of pleasure. Unknowingly, without a helmet, the enemy made a perfect target for Parvall as he hid behind the wall. An expert marksman, this was an easy opportunity for him. Only the pain in his temples could distract him, but he had done this a hundred times before. Breathe out and depress the trigger, exactly as his tutors on Medusa instructed.

One by one each of the enemy’s heads violently exploded in a splash of thick crimson gore, every shot fired with a precision only a practiced sniper could maintain. Breathe out, depress the trigger, repeat. The three giants fell to the ground, covered in their own brain matter, their armour now a mix of purple and red.  They would not be getting back up again. Abruptly the keening sound stopped and the pressure in Parvall’s head ceased, leaving in its wake a dull ache.

When he returned to the chapter they would have to heal the many wounds of this campaign. Some of his flesh may even need replacing, beyond repair. His ear drums may never recover from the ferocious assault and he may need new bionics in order to hear properly again. But it did not bother Parvall, he would embrace the repairs to his body, new bionics and his deeds this day would help mark him out amongst the chapter.

‘The Flesh is Weak…’

Thanks for reading. As always feedback is encouraged!

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*Insert Clever Title*

So it’s time for a new blog as I attempt to keep things ticking over. The whole point of this is to keep me writing. In fact I’m currently sat here helping a student with some research, loudly tapping away while he delves into books that I have suggested. The sound of keys can either be really annoying or strangely soothing can’t they? Perhaps that’s just me…

Today, I’ve updated the ‘About’ section of the blog. Now you can find out who the hell I am and what I actually intend by this. It may come across as a little crazy. Well once you get to know me, if you don’t already you’ll realise that I’m, at the very least, pretty eccentric. So you’re in for an interesting ride.

As with most people who are keen on writing, I tend to keep notepads full of ideas and prose. As of today, about 5 minutes ago to be exact, I finally finished typing up the contents of my first notepad. Cue applause. Yes, that for me is quite an achievement. It means that many of the ideas I have had since I decided to seriously start writing have now taken a new, digital form. In a way this is a process of editing. First I scribble ideas in a completely incomprehensible style of handwriting in my notepad. Then I type them up; this requires a long process of deciphering as I attempt to understand what the hell I was trying to say. Naturally as things go from the notepad, to my brain, to my fingers, the digital world, they evolve, get edited and (hopefully) improved.

I like to think, so far I have some interesting ideas that I am working on. They vary from 40k, to original ideas. I would also like to work on Warhammer Fantasy story, but I haven’t scribbled anything for that yet. I’ll be back soon with a little bit more information on what these ideas are. I’ll also hopefully have another short story for your perusal in the next few days. The clock is ticking for that 30 June submission deadline. So as always any feedback on my previous stories is always welcomed.

Oops, there goes the proverbial school bell. Time for me to head off! Thanks for reading.

I’m Back!

I had no idea how long it had been since I had written a blog until I opened my writing folder yesterday and looked at the date of the last opened file. Well for one reason or another I haven’t been here to post anything but now I’m back and I have some stuff for you to read.

It’s not long now until the Black Library submission window slams shut. Anything submitted after the 30 June will be automatically rejected. So I had better get in there soon with my submission. Therefore, I need your help to chose my best 1000 words to submit. I’m going to be posting a few stories over the next two weeks so please comment and suggest which you think is the best or suggest any improvements before submission. Of course the stories I have already posted are in for the running too, so feel free to comment. I really need your help.

Without further ado here is today’s writing. It’s a story based on a Deathwatch killteam. What I really wanted to do was bring out the characteristics of the different chapters involved in the team and how they interacted, for better or worse. There are three parts to what I have written so far, three separate scenes if you will, so don’t be concerned that it doesn’t seem to flow. It is of course, straight from my fingers and completely unedited at the moment. Here goes…

Project: Xenos

The Deathwatch were uniformed, their coal black armour tying them together as one force. However there was small clues as to the origins of each of these warriors. Each marine’s right shoulder pad denoted the chapter they owed their allegiance to and one soldier even wore strange fetishes that marked him out amongst the others. The whole purpose of the Deathwatch was to bring different tactics and expertise to the table. Sergeant Borath could see some logic to this, even though it differed from the tenets of the Codex Astartes. This was no ordinary Astartes force. This was a group brought together with the express purpose of destroying the xenos threat to the Imperium. Each of these warriors had faced different threats and their experiences could be beneficial. Information is victory.

But Borath couldn’t shake the feeling that their specialisations were wasted. None of the team truly knew the purpose of this mission. The Inquisitor had told them that they were to enter the hulk in order to retrieve a powerful device. Why a Deathwatch escort was needed eluded Borath, they had scanned the hulk and detected no life signs. But he knew better than to trust that, a hulk could hide unknown terrors within its depths. Perhaps the inquisitor knew something he wasn’t letting on.

The astartes job was to follow orders and do their duty to the Emperor, with this in mind, the Deathwatch team had entered the hulk.

Malius swept his raised bolter around the dingy passageway hunting for a target. Under normal circumstances, the eyes of one of the Emperor’s Space Marines could penetrate even the darkest environments. Their eyes having been genetically altered for the sole purpose of warfare. But this darkness was unlike anything Malius had ever encountered before. The shadows sucked all light in and the cloying blackness pervaded everything it touched. The corridors of this ship were cursed, touched by the power of the warp.

The essence of the ship could not be contemplated by a rational mind, the angles all seemingly wrong, bulkheads diving compartments that could not be accessed by a human crew.

Malius was sure he had heard a sound, somewhere in the depths of the corridors. But the creek and groan of the old ship could provide confusing sounds, absorbing reflections and generating noise from seemingly dead ends.

He reached for the clasp at his neck and tore the helm from his armour in a hiss of disconnecting cables. Normally the safest way to fight was with his helm on, relying on the advanced optics and sensors of his armour. But in these depths Malius wanted to trust to his own eyes, to get face to face with any enemy that may be lurking in the deep.

As soon as he refocused his enhanced eyes back on the corridor he got his wish. Before he could raise his bolter again a shape manifested itself from the walls. A shape of pure venomous hatred, all spikes and talons.

Sensing an advantage it had chose it’s time to strike. The gene-enhanced marine was fast, but this thing was easily a match for his speed. A beast of shining carapace and claws lashed at Malius. Thankfully his vembrace took the force from the creature’s first blow with only a slight scratch to the paintwork. Deflecting the sweeping talon gave him a chance to raise his bolter and fire. The thing kept coming on, relentless, full of hate. Malius kept releasing round after round in to the creature’s armoured chest. It shrieked and convulsed. Finally threatened and damaged, ichor dripping, it tried to flee.

But before it could get out of reach Malius grabbed it’s blood drenched head with a quick thrust of his gauntlet. With the other black clad hand he jammed his combat knife between the beasts skull and vertebrae. The hate poured out of the creatures eyes, it’s body finally going limp and giving in to death’s embrace. Malius let go and the bloodied mess fell to the floor of the corridor. Stooping he retrieved his combat knife.

‘Urgh, I hate these things’.

He whispered cleaning the gore from his combat knife and sliding it back in to the scabbard at his waist.

Rising, there was a chirp in his ear and without thinking he blink-clicked to accept the incoming transmission.

‘Brother Malius report, I’m getting reports of gunfire.’

It was the sergeant, Borath.

‘Affirmative sargeant.’

His answer was clipped and merely a formality. He had little time for the rigid leader of their small group, nor for this mission for that matter. His duty was with his chapter, rebuilding their forces and striking at the hated greenskins. But he would have to get out of this alive first.

‘ I was attacked brother. By what I’m assuming is…’

He paused for a second, scanning the body. Confirming what he believed could have dire consequences for their mission.

‘It’s a Tyranid, brother.’

‘Can you confirm any more contacts?’

Sighing under his breath the Crimson Fist responded.

‘None as of yet but where there is one xenos there are sure to be others.’

‘Hold your position. We will regroup on you.’ The sergeant voxed, his tone clipped and impatient, obviously frustrated with Malius’ attitude.

He moved back up the corridor in to position gaining a better vantage point of the darkened space before him. If his experience of these monsters taught him anything there would be more, Throne, a lot more!

The Tyranid was all flailing limbs and its dark skin glistened with dripping ichor, freshly born from its birthing sac. It moved so fast with a predatory gait that his targeting reticule could barely register a target-lock. He would have to take this enemy down manually. He raised his bolter and fired a wild shot at the onrushing creature, the mass-reactive shell blowing  chunks of spiked carapace from its body upon impact. He cursed his aim, he would have to take penance for that once this mission was over, and fired again. The second shot hit home, blowing a grizzly hole clean through the torso of the Tyranid. But before he could take pride in the kill another creature was on him. Its claws tore in to his abdomen in a jolt of searing hot pain. Reacting to the pain from the attack his enhance body gave him a series of painkillers, dulling his feelings. Feeling light-headed and angry Malius snatched his combat knife from his waist and pressed the activation rune.

‘Suffer not the alien to live!’  he roared, jamming his knife deep in to the beast’s flesh. He cut and thrust his knife, cutting away more and more flesh with each attack. The Tyranid was bleeding ichor all over Malius’ armour, but it still didn’t seem to register any pain. So intent was it on its target that it cared not about its injuries. His armour was quickly buckling and he would have to finish the creature off before he was overwhelmed by the rest.

It was a great effort of will to keep the beast at bay in these cramped corridors, with no room to manoeuvre. Grappling with the creature his strength was failing quickly.

The Tyranid, sensing his weakness, made one last attack, tearing a rent in power armour with its gore-slickened talon. Malius grunted in pain, the painkillers filling his system wearing off in the onslaught. This was it, he could die on this Emperor forsaken ship and for what? He would never have the opportunity to return to his Chapter and help rebuild their glory. He would be another Crimson Fist broken upon the blade of alien scum.

In the cold clarity of thought between life and death. When everything had slowed down to a near frozen landscape, he saw his chance. One wild thrust at the alien had revealed a bulging, pulsating artery, thick with life blood, beneath the creature’s thick armour. It was so close to death he had not even realised how close. The crushing melee taking his full attention, but now his own failing strength had given him the clarity to see the alien’s weakness.

Summoning every last ounce of strength left in his punished and battered body he drove his arm nearer to the artery. He struggled to reach closer but the beast was crushing his arms against his body. Praying to the Emperor, he knew this was his only chance to kill the creature on top of him before anymore could take advantage of his predicament. In a welter of glistening ichor that sprayed across his face, the combat blade finally drove home. The Tyranid’s head whirled in the direction of the pain, it’s grizzly mouth full of razor sharp teeth shrieked in pain. The blood ran down his gauntlet and pooled in the vembrace of his armour coagulating with his own. It suddenly became a dead-weight on top of him, no longer a confusing whirl of claws and talons. The evil light from its eyes had gone, it’s alien intelligence now lost to it. It stank, a horrible cloying alien smell that utterly disgusted him and burnt his nostrils.

With a sigh of relief Malius fell back on to the diamond plate flooring that lined the corridor, his energy completely spent. He knew it wouldn’t be long before more creatures came this way and he needed to give his body a chance to repair itself and regain some strength. He closed his eyes for a moment.

As if straight away there was a creaking noise at the end of the corridor. Malius’ eyes shot open in an instant, some of his previous vigour returning to him in the heat of the moment. There was definitely something there as the cold light from calculating eyes pierced the darkness, staring, searching for a target.

‘oh…th’

A shot rang out from a bolter, momentarily deafening Malius and the beast quickly emerging from the depths of the passageway exploded in a rush of dark blood and body matter. The round utterly destroyed the creature, it’s remains coated the walls and ceiling.

‘brother…thank the Emperor we found you in time…’

So that’s that…

I’ve also started noting out an original idea I’ve had for a while. All I will tell you for now is that it’s set in a kind of post apocalyptic not too distant future of our world. The opening scene will be something like this…

The world is wrong and broken. I can feel it in my bones. I don’t know why. I don’t even remember. But something doesn’t sit right. I can’t shift this feeling. It’s all I know. Since waking from a seemingly endless dream of horrible proportions, I was met with this. An emptiness. A void…

That’s it for today.

Thanks for reading!