Well how you guys doing? This story is surprisingly successful in a category were I've generally flunked out of, let's keep it that way shall we. Oh it's time to meet an old friend. Or an entire regiment of them. AND CHAOS!
That wasn't a feeling I expected after an explosion, it wasn't searing heat or excruciating pain but a sense of weightlessness. I can't tell you how long I fell, because it felt like years but at the same time only a few seconds, my emotions raged becoming sad, happy, calm then angry. I could feel things moving around me but when I looked nothing but a mass of purple, red, green, pink and combinations that made no logical sense and hurt to look at. I thought I could see symbols in the colours, shapes that were familiar yet at the same time impossible to place. I started to forget what happened, people I knew, even who I was, it was a terrible sensation yet liberating, like I would never have to worry about past problems.
It all came to an end to fast though, for everyone knows a falling object has to land eventually and I landed hard. So hard in fact that I still swear to this day I heard half my ribs crack. My senses were dull and muted, a low ring penetrated my ears and I strained to take in my surroundings. I was laying in the snow, cold and fresh, powdery and untrodden. Looking around me there were men and women standing around, shock evident on their faces and many were clutching icons hanging around their necks, but not all of them were looking at me. Slowly I followed their gaze and saw her. My heart stopped when I saw her laying there, broken and twisted. Reflecting on my memories of that day I should have acted differently, I should have seen the obvious but the obvious was too much to bear.
So I rushed to her side, I grabbed her face and started to try and wake her up as if she were only sleeping, she looked so peaceful, so graceful, so beautiful that she could have been sleeping. I shook her, yelled her name, pleaded for her to come back to me, to just open her eyes and wake up. But it wasn't meant to be and as the people around me started to react to us they started to talk but their voices were distant, as if they were a thousand yards away but I was able to make out a few word. Cries for a medic and demands to get me off her, those demands were soon followed and I felt a hand placed softly on my shoulder. I shoved the hand and its owner away roughly and another person grabbed me from behind and attempted to drag me away but I swung my head backward feeling more than hearing the crunch of the mans nose breaking, but I took no satisfaction in it. Even as I tried to get back to her a lady had knelt down beside her and started to put her hand to her neck. Before I could do anything two people grabbed me simultaneously.
I thrashed catching one man in the stones but I couldn't even take advantage of the situation as a woman replaced him immediately. My world crashed down as the lady with Jess stood up and shook her head, tear filled my eyes and I cried out. I cease my struggles and slumped still begging Jess to just wake up.
"Will someone please shut this feth up!"
I felt the impact of my skull then blackness.
I wish my entrance to this world were some grand tale, how I single handedly turned the tide in some great battle as I arrived. An epic tale that would forever paint me as a hero to the Imperium. If only. Instead my tale started with me being imprisoned by one of the scariest men in the Imperium.
When I woke up I was in a metal seat, my hands were chained to a metal table in front of me which in turn was bolted to the floor. My head throbbed I tune with the beat of my heart and I could feel dried blood clinging to my head. As I stared at my bare arms I realized I had been striped of most of my gear, only my pants and green under armour shirt remained to clothe me. I was in a small room a single door and a large mirror that was obviously two way glass. Not an impossible situation to escape from, not easy but definitely plausible. Except I realized with a start for the tall dark man sitting across from me, clad in all black he had blended in ridiculously well with the gloomy room. His face was gaunt and seemed to be plagued by lack of sleep and stress yet he still exuded an air of authority and respect. He wore a peaked cap that had a winged skull decorating its front, around his shoulders hung a cape, no cloak of camouflaged material that seemed to shit its self to become unnoticeable while down his chest were gilded straps. It seemed strange at the time but I swear he looked familiar, and not just the man but the whole... Presence for lack of a better word.
He was going over a glowing tablet and he was so engrossed in what it showed that he hadn't notice me come around. My mind was scrambling, trying to make sense of where I was who this man was and why he was so familiar because I was confident saying he and I had never met. He shifted in his chair and a ridiculously large pistol came into view, one that was so iconic and so memorable that it all clicked, the cape wearing soldiers, the fact I was detained the bolt pistol toting commissar and the familiarity with him. My mind reeled, it made no sense, it was an impossibility, a trick of the mind or a dream. I knew who sat across from me, a man who had killed hundreds and would walk into hell and walk right back out.
The man looked up swiftly one of his hands instinctivly reaching for his sidearm before remembering where he was. "Ah so your finally awake. It seems that you have the advantage of knowing who I am while I'm left wondering. Care to enlighten me?"
I grimace as the smell of alcohol emanates from his mouth, Gaunt's Ghosts was one of my favorite book series before entering this world and thanks to my new companions I still have a copy, one of my most prized possessions. But that also meant I knew exactly where I was Haigia during Ibram's alcoholic depression, during a last stand.
"Impossible." I mutter trying to sort out the thoughts racing through my brain, how I got here, why I'm here, is this even real, am I dead and when did I go insane were all in there. I give a resigned sigh after all I might as well go with it. "Lance-Corporal Vincenzo Nicastri."
"Ah part of the guard? What unit?" he asked and it was easy to tell he wasn't completely sober. In hindsight that probably saved my life.
"No, not part of the guard..." I say.
"No? Well how did you get here? And why the feth did you fall through a warp portal?" His voice did a 180 from bemused to dangerous. Though I payed no attention for a rush of memories assaulted me, the attack, the bomb and Jess. Poor, poor Jess. It was all my fault. I could have payed more attention, cleared the room better, not wasted time weeping over a dead man. Once again his hand drifted to his sidearm.
My response was soft, "I don't know."
"You don't know?" His voice was steadily rising and started to make me anxious.
"There was a bomb and then, this." I say trying to appease him.
He stood up abruptly causing his chair to fly back a few feet and started to pull his pistol out of its holster when a young man bursts into the room, he looked no older than myself. "Sir! Your presence is needed immediately! Back at your quarters." The boy was nervous and his interruption a fake but Gaunt seems to eye the boy before stumbling out. Brin Milo I realize, had just saved my life.
I had been forgotten.
It was a sobering thought. It had been a week and a half and I was just coming to realize this was real. I had been sent forward in time, into a world that I had become familiar with ever since I could walk. It was surreal and almost shattered my sanity. On my third day I broke down, tears following freely as the cold truth of it all set in, I'd never see my family, my friends, they were all just dust scattered across 'Holy' Terra and that Jess was really dead. That had hurt the most. The fourth day my tears turned to laughter, not filled with joy but fill with insanity. It was the sound of a man who had been pushed over the edge and had broke, I don't remember much for those few days but the guards seemed to avoid my section of the hold after that.
I didn't snap out of it until this morning, cycling between tears and laughter. I sat here now waiting for someone to talk to me but that wouldn't happen, the gaurds were afraid of me, Gaunt was a drunk and Hark had his hands full with keeping the regiment in line.
So I focused on my predicament, at first to aleve boredom but then a serious notion. Ways to escape, to survive in this new world filled with despair and loathing. So much so that a new phrase had been invented to describe it, Grimdark.
My prospects didn't look good and just served to depress me even more. But that was broken by a low roar that seem to shake the very foundation of the shrine I was in. At first I thought it to be another skirmish, those had been happening with increasing frequency as the final stand came closer, but the rumbling kept up and I realized with a start that this was it. I shuffled over to my cell door, my ankles being cuffed together limited mobility, and peered out between the bars, my guards were no where to be seen but I did notice the las carbine on the floor. It was of Cadian make, the smooth utilitarian look giving it away.
It was on the other side of the hall and would normally be in reach for my long limbs but again the cuffs limited my movement. Now in Italy we had been taught a sure fire way to escape handcuffs, but the pain would be immense. Yet I had no other option, so with a muffled scream I broke my thumb on the left hand. Breathing hard I squirmed my way out of the cuff and reached out, stretching as far as I possibly could and snagged the stock of the carbine. Pulling it back as fast as I could I brought it up to my shoulder and fired at the chains binding my ankles, the intense heat melted straight through the metal and left a deep hole in the ground. Looking at the rifle in suprise I found a switch with a double headed eagle and a single headed one, the gun was on full power.
Switching it to low I used my damaged had to brace the fore grip as best I could and fired a few rounds? No, beams is a better word, into the locking mechanism on the door. It swung open with an eriee squeal and I walked out slowly progressing down the hall and to a desk, on it energy packs, a las pistol and a foot locker. Inside of which were my socks, boots and combat vest although it had been stripped of gear. I took the whole lot placing charges into mag pouches and the pistol in a holster on my left breast.
Setting out I walked up a flight of stairs and came out in a deserted room, pews lined the floor and I figure it was a chapel so I moved on up a second flight. It too came out in a large room but this one was dominated by a large stained glass picture of the Emperor standing next to Dorn, it was shattered and the sound of battle drifted inside along with the cold. Peering out I couldn't help but gasp, I had been in combat but never open war so the sight of four thousand men and women trying to hold off forty thousand cultists with armour was terrifying not to mention they were a mere 300 to 400 meters away.
Now that sounds far but when your patrolling the mountains in the middle east that's the average engagement distance for fight two to three men. When there's tens of thousands that distance shrinks incredibly. I crouched down trying to get into a comfortable firing position, which was hard with broken glass all over the place, I figured I'd be here a while. I sighted down the carbine and take full advantage of the conveniently equipped 4x scope , and aiming over a yelling cultist standing on a ruined tank. The scope had no mil-dots so I had to judge the distance by eye, I slowed down my breathing, four deep breaths, and my finger started to tighten on the third, at the bottom of the fourth I fired.
(  An easily inter changeable piece that can be down in seconds.)
The shot soared over the cultists head causing him to jump down into the mass. I felt like bashing my head against the wall but that would be detrimental so I just buried it in my palm.
Lasers = no bullet drop, dumbass.
Trying again I placed the Aquila shaped cross hair squarely on a head and fired. The beam flew straight and true, leaving a neat black hole in the helmet but not killing. Grumbling again I flicked the switch to high and tried a third time on a man carrying a pole with a bolted on undivided emblem. As the saying goes third times the charm, the heat from the beam caused the mans brain to flash evaporate, or in lay mans terms explode. Violently.
I couldn't help the feeling of sadistic glee at how effective this weapon was, if this was considered a flashlight in the universe I couldn't wait to get my hands on the other weapons. Now, if memory serves a cadian lasrifle held 40 rounds on low power and 20 on high while a carbine held 60 on low 30 on high at he expense of range. High power extended range and stopping power. For anyone with firearms experience it was an easy gun to master.
My next target was a green robed preacher spitting what I assumed to be blasphemous words, he went down with two to the chest. The fifth a cultist wrestling with one of the ghosts over a long blade, Straight Silver. The sixth was an officer of some kind and as I pulled the trigger the las beam connected us for a milli second before being stopped by a glowing blue energy field. I was taken aback before I remembered where I was, things were different, technology was much more advanced as the shield just demonstrated.
I continued to fire at the mass and realize with growing apprehension that the forces of chaos where getting nearer and the ghosts where being pushed back. As they came closer I could make out more detail of the horde, almost everyone had a tattoo be it a chaos symbol or a girl with a halo being raped. Saint Sabbat, my mind supplied, the grim dark version of Joan of Ark. The pictured displayed were disgusting and depraved and I started to throw efficiency into the wind shooting the same guy over and over.
I emptied three clips by the time the ghosts had been pushed back to the last line of defense. That's when I saw him, Gaunt in all his glory. He was a whirlwind of death, every swing and bolt a mortal wound. He came face to face with the officer with the shield I shot he fired two bolt rounds before he realized it was a waste, he holstered his pistol and charged with his sword stabbing it through the shield with an earsplitting screech. He was breathing hard when a second officer charged him with a rusty bayonet. I tried to bring my carbine to bear but cursed my idiocity, I had stopped midway through a reload when I saw Gaunt. The green robed man got close but a blinding blue ball enveloped him and vaporized his left side. Another commissar stepped up and made space for Gaunt, behind him a score of ghosts.
I yelled when a pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and yanked me backwards, a las burst scythed across the space my head occupied less than a second ago.
"Be careful! You've been shooting from the same place for the past fifteen minutes! Your inviting disaster. Switch you damn position." he bellowed. "Common with them so close a partner would make this alot easier."
I just nod, in shock from how close I came to losing my head. Literally. "Names Nicastri. Thanks for the save."
"Larkin. Come on there's a birds nest in one of the towers, should give us a great look out." We progressed silently, ducking at every window trying to keep out of sight. As we clambered up the ruined steps Larkin speaks up from in front of me.
"So who are you exactly? What regiment are you with?"
I reach back with my free hand and scratch the back of my neck, nervous habit. "Well I'm not part of the guard per say."
He shot me a look "You with the navy? Never seen a swabby shoot that good."
"Nope not part of the navy either. Haven't been on world for to long."
This got him to stop and turn around. "Your that kid who fell through the warp portal?"
"Is that an issue?" I ask subconsciously fingering the trigger on my carbine.
"Nope. You've had plenty of chances to shoot me in the back, not to mention you've been killing cultists."
"Heheh I expected a stronger reaction than that. More along the lines of 'Burn the heretic!' and 'Purge the unclean!'" I chuckle as we continue going upward.
"Don't kid around. Our commisar Hark was pushing for instant execution, would have got his way if not for some special transmission. Top secret apparently. Any ways we're here, my buddy Bragg will be up here soon with some more ammo and barrels."
"Was I really that close?"
"He had a pistol to your head when we got the message."
"Fuck me..." I slide into position when I notice something "Hey Larkin. Gaunt's pushing out with some priest type girl. He's got maybe fifteen guys. Looks like they're headed to that bell tower out there."
"Good eye kid. Let's try and help them out. Remember to switch position after ever two or three shots."
I was half a clip through when Larkin yelled down at me. "FETH! Kid go full auto! We got a new group of cultists moving up. They're only 20 feet from the tower!"
My only response was to flick the firing stud and let out a long thirty round burst which scythed through a dozen cultists in front of gaunt. It was enough for a single figure to charge forward to the tower. He started to ascend the stairs when a new group of ghosts entered the fray and met up with gaunt. When I saw that figure reach the top of the tower I yelled "Larkin! Get down now!"
He obeyed out of reflex, just in time as a blinding white light burst forth and a shockwave that rocked the monastery. I struggled to my feet and
poked my head out the window. "Kid! What are you doing!?"
He grabbed my shoulder to pull me back but stopped when I started to laugh. Outside every single cultist and chaos worshiper was lying on the ground, liquified brains leaking out of burst eardrums. "Come on Larks, we just won."
"What are you tal- Oh thank the Emperor." he breathed.
"Let's go down stairs I see a shuttle making its way here."
As we made our way down we stopped and celebrated with groups of Ghosts toasting their Emperor and getting my first taste of the Tanith brew. Every one was smiling even as they talked about fallen comrades. I hade made good friends with a group of them, and a group of thirty of us made our way to see who was on the shuttle.
Although I'm sure every single one wanted to run back into the monastery when they saw the sigil on the side of the vessel. They probably shit themselves when the figure descending the ramp declared.
"By the authority of His Holy Inquisition I here by demand that Vincenzo Nicastri step forward. NOW!"
Cliff hanger to the MAXIMUIM!