Just Another Day in the Corps

In no way do I own, or pretend to own X-COM or any of its names, subsidiaries etc.  I just wanted to write something cool about an experience I had on an awesome game.

Written by Will Barnard

 

“Red alert!  All staff report to their posts.  All staff – …“ came an unfamiliar wounded voice over the base’s intercom system before disappearing into static.  As gunfire barked somewhere close by, echoed by the concrete and metal plating that made up the walls of the underground base, Ben raised his rifle and instinctively started sprinting towards the command centre.  He could hear the cries of men and the shouting of orders from what sounded like every direction but his focus was centred on making sure the base’s main operation room was online, without it the base would be lost.

Sprinting as fast as he could whilst checking his corners, he was making steady progress until the lights turned out.  As the corridor plunged into pitch darkness, the faint red glow of his laser rifle became the only source of light.

“Not good, not good,” he muttered to no one in particular as he stopped running and spun on the spot, aiming his rifle down the each of the corridors that met at the cross junction he found himself at.  Happy he was safe for this particular moment, he went to activate the flash light on his rifle as the metallic crash of the blast doors closing surrounded him.  Knowing he was now cut off he emitted an exasperated sigh and relaxed his tense body before turning his flashlight on, giving himself a better view of the empty corridors and the closed blast doors that now blocked his route in three directions.

Turning to head down the only available route, Ben picked up the pace and headed away from the muffled sounds of the other staff and towards the research lab.  Arriving to find the main door closed, Ben knocked on the glass of the first airlock door.

“Soldier, what’s happening out there?” came a feminine Russian accent from the intercom box.

“I’m not sure, how’s everything in there?”  Ben replied, holding down the talk button on the touch-screen panel.

“Everything is fine in here, we’re trying to get in contact with the Operation Centre with no luck.”

“The power’s down and the base has gone into lockdown.  I was on my way to get there when I got trapped out here, any chance I can come in?”

“Of course, you’ll have to go through the correct procedures when heading through the airlock.”

“It still works?”

“Yes, we run on a separate power source for the life support we use.  Please, step into the decontamination area.” She said as a green light lit up on the door and the lock clicked open.

Pushing the door open, a bright light spilled out of the small room and into the pitch dark corridor as Ben tentatively stepped into the decontamination room.  As the door closed behind him the lock snapped shut and the lights turned off, being replaced by a black light, highlighting the contamination on his armour and weapons – lighting him up like a badly decorated Christmas tree.

“Think I’m going to need a good scrubbing doc.”

“Don’t worry, we have technology that can clean a body down to the bone, some rogue molecules are nothing to them.  That said,” she started as the laberatory on the other side of the glass walls lit up, revealing a group of scientists in white coats, some worried and  in the background whilst a few were stood around the window intently looking at Ben.  “How do we know that you’re not one of the infiltrators that have attacked the base?”

“What?  Are you crazy, do I look like an x-ray?”

“It was not the aliens that infiltrated the base, humans under mind control were the ones responsible,” said Dr Vahlen who, now that he was used to the lights, Ben could identify.  She was the lead scientist for the X-COM base and despite her accent making her sound like a mad scientist, her teams work had accelerated the technology they had to hand by decades in just a few short months.  Most of the armour and weapons Ben was currently sporting were probably all drawn up by the group of scared scientists now huddled behind the airlock door.

“How do you know that?” he asked after a moments pause.

“Like I said, we’re on a separate power supply; we managed to get in contact with Bradford just before you showed up.  How do we know you’re on our side?”

Taken aback by the sudden interrogation and assumption, Ben kept his anger from fuelling his reaction.  Him, a spy!  He’d been on 12 missions for X-COM and killed a dozen x-rays… but it made sense, better the research team be precautious and alive than reckless and dead.

“I’m really not sure how you want me to prove that doc?”

As though the scientists were already thinking this, Ben could see them start to intently speak to one another, their voices muffled without the comms active on their side of the door.  Trying to think of what he could say that would prove his innocence, another scientist with a familiar face appeared from another room at the back.  Ben could see him showing Dr Vahlen some information on his tablet before realising what was going on.  Glancing round to see their quarantined prisoner, he immediately started to appeal to Dr Vahlen with a welcomed look of recognition on his face.

“Turns out there is a silver lining to being admitted to the medical ward with severe injuries Sergeant Hale,” she said eventually, as the other scientists seemed to relax and hurriedly go back to their duties.  “I’d apologise for the caution but I’m sure you understand.  We’ll let you through momentarily.”

Ben dropped his head as he breathed a sigh of relief.  Looking at his body, he could see the highlighted and contaminated glow slowly disappearing.

“Nano technology, great isn’t it!” came an Australian voice over the intercom.  Looking up, Ben could see that it was the man who had vouched for him stood at the panel, Dr Vahlen disappearing through the door at the back.  “Lucky I showed up when I did, if I hadn’t patched you up a few months ago they were gonna let them eat through more than just the contaminated cells.”

“Right… cheers for the assist.”

“Alright, you’re all clean.  Come on in Sergeant,“ he said as the second door’s lock clicked open, accompanied by a green light by the handle.”

“Call me Ben,” he replied, as he stepped into the clean room, the air reminding him of his time in the infirmary, breathing through a respirator of clean oxygen.  The memory made the old battle wound in his side tense up.  ”Sorry if I’ve forgotten your name.”

“No worries mate, name’s Jack.  You were pretty well under whilst I was fixing you up so I won’t hold it against ya.  Now I’m not one to chat and run but we’re a little busy at the moment trying to save this base, don’t suppose you want to take door duty?”

“Not a lot else here I understand.  Any chance I can speak to command?”

“Sure thing,” Jack replied as he moved to one side, allowing Ben to get to the terminal.  “Shout if you need me.”

Nodding in thanks Ben manned the terminal and hailed for anyone in the Operations Centre.

“Sergeant Hale!  Good, we need someone to buy the research team some more time and we can’t get anyone to you.  The power’s been cut and we’re prioritising any reinforcements to the main doors.”

“I don’t understand, what’s gone on?”

“No time to explain, the bases’ main defences and power  are out, there’s a big Open Day sign out front for the aliens and now they’re coming in through the main door and a whole bunch of vents and access tunnels we didn’t know we had.”

“And what’s the research team got that’s so important?”

“Keep’em alive for ten minutes and you’ll find out.  Command out.”

A mixture of emotions washed over Ben but like a granite rock, his training got the better of it.  “What weapons have you got in here?” he asked Jack who was fiddling with a control panel on the wall.

“In term of guns, pretty damn limited.  That and no one who really knows use them.”

“And what is it we’re protecting?”

“Something better than a gun.” He shouted as he ran off further through the lab, hurriedly conversing with other scientists and tinkering with dials.

Annoyed no one was giving him a straight answer, Ben stuck to what he knew best.  Grabbing a few empty tables, he lined them up as a barricade by the airlock door whilst setting up a few remotely detonated explosives inside the airlock itself.  Taking a moment to look over his botched barricades a nearby explosion shook the room.  A few of the scientists cried out in panic and looked to Ben for comfort who returned their glances with a positive nod before setting himself up in the middle of his barricades and trained his gun on the airlock.

Luckily, the clean room had no vents or external access.  It was sealed tight and the only way in or out was out of the one door. Grabbing the control panel with his free hand, Ben altered the glass so that it was one way, allowing him to see out but anyone outside wouldn’t be able to see in.  For extra effect he activated the black lights in the airlock itself before double checking the doors were locked.

Happy with the setup of the defences, Ben took a moment to look around the room at its other occupants.  Most of the scientists had now moved into the backroom, hopefully prepping whatever it was they were working on.  Taking a deep breath another explosion, this one closer, erupted in the corridors outside. This one causing the motion sensor on the control panel to go offline.

“Unless you need to be in this room, I’d suggest you all move into that back room NOW!” Ben shouted, flicking the safety off on his rifle, the red energy core within humming into life, his eyes never leaving the airlock.

He could hear the scientists shouting and moving around behind him but the high pitched screech of an x-ray from outside the room caused all of his muscles to tense up.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said to no one in particular as his hands started to shake.

Something crashed against the door, heavily, with all of its weight.  The outer door held.  The crash returned and the door held again.  With each crash Ben started to calm, confident that the outer airlock door would easily withstand the Chrysalid outside and eventually the creature stopped.  Breathing for the first time in what seemed like an eternity Ben took a moment to sigh with relief…that was until he heard the sound of plasma round being fired.  After a few salvos of fire, the external door, whilst reinforced, started giving out to the molten green liquid being fired at it.  Once the hinges had been melted the Chrysalid renewed its attack and with one good charge, the outer door gave way revealing the four legged insect like monstrosity under the black lights.

Looking like something akin to the Bugs in the old Starship Trooper movies that Ben used to watch as a kid, the Chyraslid had four talons for legs but the torso of a humanoid, an ugly purple one mind.  With claws at the end of its arms, spines down its arched back and glowing yellow eyes, it was a sight Ben had learned to hate.  At least the rest of the aliens would kill you in a dignified, if unpleasant manner.  The Chrysalid would use your corpse as a host for its young who, until they erupted from your body, could animate it like a zombie.  One of Ben’s many x-ray kills had been a friend and, although he knew he was dead, it hadn’t made it any easier.

“To hell if you think you’re using me as an incubator!” Ben said as he triggered the explosives laid out in the airlock.  Ducking behind his barricade to cushion him from the explosion, Ben was surprised when the explosion was muffled and almost entirely contained within the airlock.  Looking up he saw that it had created a tunnel of flame that had lept down the corridor and roasted a queue of x-rays that had come to kill him.

Whilst it had mostly held against the blast, the internal door had been shifted ever so slightly off its hinges so that Ben could clearly hear the noises from outside, without the aid of the comms unit.  He could hear the crackle of bodies burning, the cries of dying aliens and unfortunately, the roar of the angered ones as a huge brutish figure charged into the airlock and smashed against the internal door.

Holding steady under the weight of the Muton, the door moved mere millimetres as the six foot, armoured, hulk crashed into it.  Now determined to knock the door down with its fists, the Muton started to pound on the door, its weakened state sacrificing every ounce of its reinforced construction to protecting the occupants of its room from the enraged alien.

With the door buying him time, Ben trained his rifle on the blacklit Muton’s head through the glass door, tracking its movement so as to predict its reaction when the door finally gave way.

Giving up with its pounding on the door, the Muton stepped back and grabbed the plasma rifle from its back and continued to unload its contents at the door.  As the fizzing plasma melted the door to the Muton’s satisfaction, with a mighty kick he booted the door open, and was met instantly by the crack of red laser being pumped into its unarmoured pink head.

With the laser having scorched its way through the creature’s fleshy skull, the rest of its green armoured body collapse to the floor, signalling the attack for the rest of the reinforcements that were still hidden in shadow further down the corridor.  With the enraged creature out of the way other aliens started slipping into the light that spilled down the corridor as Ben picked them off one by one.  Without any cover to hide behind, the unarmoured forms of Sectoids and Thin Men were cut down by his accurate and well trained fire.  Whilst his cover wouldn’t provide much protection from the incoming plasma fire, their accuracy into the bright room shook their aim.  The wild returning fire merely causing instruments and panels behind him to explode, but Ben didn’t notice any of this.

Adrenaline pumping, the world was a blur, his only focus was on his breathing and his reactions against any figure that entered into the mixture of lights that flooded the airlock and the corridor leading away.  Hearing the roar of another Muton, Ben instinctively pulled a fragmentation grenade from his belt and tossed it into the corridor, its explosion silencing the creature and buying him a moment to reload.

For what felt like hours Ben continued to hold the line.  When his rifle had expended all of the ammunition he had he pulled out his pistol.  Whilst not as powerful, it still burned though the advancing aliens with a couple of shots.

As the airlock filled with bodies, Ben had more time to breath, reload and slip back into the real world, just as he realised he was about to engage his last magazine into the pistol.

“Crap,” he muttered as he checked his belt to find he had used the last of his grenades.  “Whatever you’re doing better make it quick!” he shouted over his shoulder as the wall of bodies were sent crashing into the room, causing Ben to duck as the short, grey skinned form of a Sectiod flew over his head.

The roar of another Muton filled the room and Ben stood up.  He raised his pistol and fired at a larger than usual Muton.  Raising an arm to place an armoured gauntlet in front of its unguarded face, it slowly started to advance towards Ben.  Altering his aim he started to fire at the least armoured pointed on the alien but his aim was faltering, somewhere in the firefight some plasma had grazed his arm, melting the skin away and causing the muscle to spasm when tensed.  The overheating light on his pistol lit up as Ben ignored it and started to walk backwards away from the creature and his barricade, firing even faster.  As the Muton reached his barricade he knocked it flying with an effortless swing of its arm, just as Ben’s pistol stopped firing.

Knowing there was nothing else to do, Ben dropped the pistol, drew his knife and charged at the creature, hopefully before it could react.  Using a bench to launch himself at the creatures head, Ben found time moving slowly as he soared through the air, the knife raised in his hand.

The Muton had lowered his gauntlet to see why the laser fire had stopped.

Ben drew the knife back further for a stronger swing.

The Muton identified Ben flying through the air towards him.

Ben started to bring the knife forwards shouting something incoherent as a battle cry as he flew through the air.

The Mutton’s eyes widened at his assailant closing in on him.

Ben started to smile as he grew closer, the knife closing in on its target as he felt something close round his neck.  He was moving away from the Muton, the swing of his knife cut short and scraping off the armoured shoulder pad.

Effortlessly the Mutton had caught Ben in the air with his free hand, its pink fingers now coiled round his neck.  Ben struggled as he felt his windpipes being closed.  He knew the Muton could crush him easily but it was going to enjoy this, play with him.  Ben could see a smile forming underneath the rebreather the wrinkled pink face needed to live.  He tried to use the knife to cut the hand that was holding him but the Muton grabbed the knife from him, crushing his hand as it did so.  Reduced to punching the Muton’s long arms with his unbroken hand, Ben’s vision was starting to blur at the edges as he ran out of ideas and succumbed to the fact that this was how his life would end.

They say you see your life flash before you when you’re dying…they were wrong. All Ben could see was the smug look on the face of a creature that was enjoying his death, a creature that was going to do the same thing to all the scientists in the room behind him.  Scientists who were looking to Ben to save them, and he had failed  – then the Muton’s  head spun through 90 degrees, accompanied by the sound of bone snapping as its neck broke.

Instantly dropped to the floor, Ben inhaile the well needed oxygen his body craved before looking up and around the room, it was empty save for the a collection of smaller green Sectiods that had followed the Muton in.  Looking around in confusion with the aliens, Ben was surprised when a knife appeared through the back of one of the Sectiods and the rest erupted into panic.  The familiar sound of sizzling laser erupted from behind him as the other Sectiods were executed.

Ben started to relax a little, doing what he could to shuffle to one side of the room as a group of humans stepped into view from the back room.

They were armed and armoured to the teeth.  Using equipment that made Ben’s brand new equipment look old fashioned, a mixture of men and women, all tall and perfectly built charged into the room.  Ben watched one of them, a blonde haired woman in blood red armour charge at the airlock wielding only a knife.  She was a blur to watch and the way that she grappled with and killed another Muton showed she was far stronger than Ben.

Stepping out of the way others in different coloured armour stepped in to take her place.  Some of them had weapons, whilst others used knifes to halt the incoming aliens.  In a blur of speed the conflict dissipated and the group pushed on through, out into the corridor and the base beyond.

Catching his breath for a moment, Ben was caught off guard when a figure appeared in front of him from out of nowhere.  Having been caught out by a Seeker before, a floating squid like alien that could turn invisible and strangle its victims if not quickly removed, Ben raised his arms in front of his face in self-defence and closed his eyes.

“Don’t worry Sergeant, we’re on your side,” came a deep Kenyan accent.

Opening his eyes, Ben was greeted by a huge, dark skinned figure.  Clad in shiny new, dark green armour, the giant was holding a hand out to Ben.  Taking it gratefully with his, the figure hauled Ben onto his feet with a strength similar to that of the Muton.

“I hope one day, I’ll be as deadly as you are,” he continued, motioning to the corpses in the airlock.  ”Get some rest, we’ve got this covered.”

Ben tried to ask something but his bruised throat quickly felt like someone was pouring fire down it.

After putting a hand on the Sergeants shoulder, the solider turned and followed his comrades out of the room, turning invisible just before disappearing out of the door but before Ben could process any of this a host of doctors appeared by his side, just managing to catch him as he passed out.

The Dark Maddening Space

Today we send our intergalactic ship, The Dawn Treader, on its long voyage into the stars – to discover new hospitable worlds and possibly intelligent life.  Its crew will look upon this vessel as their home and the world to which they live.  They will care for it as it will care for them and together, they will achieve mankind’s most ambitious dream since we crawled from out of the oceans.

God speed to you all!

[World President Bill Hawkins, 2132]

Alex felt the ship shudder and move as the sequence for it to start slowing down began.  He knew it was supposed to happen, everyone did, most of them were even partying about it but he couldn’t shake that in all of his 25 years the ground under his feet had never moved.

It was a Tuesday, or so the ships information screen said.  A value of time that was no more applicable to him than a day being 24 hours on Mars.  For one thousand years The United Space Exploration Craft (USIC) Dawn Treader had soared through empty space where time never moved and the only source of change came from the ship’s automated programming, designed to replicate the days and seasons of Earth; a long lost planet that would have delved into legend if they didn’t have proof in the libraries that it existed.

25 years ago Alex had been born and for 25 year he had wandered the same halls of the Dawn Treader, a name given to the craft after an exploration ship in a book written on Earth.  He wanted more, he wanted to stretch his legs and be free of his confinement.  Admittedly there were huge, vast sections of the craft that he had never ventured unto, but he wanted more, eagerly a smile filled his face as, at long last, after hundreds of generations of humans, they were about to reach their destination – and then the emergency lighting flickered on.

With the corridor changing from a cool blue summer hue to the deep red emergency lights, Alex started to run to his station.  As one of the marines aboard the ship he knew that there was no drill planned today – this was for real.  Sprinting to the main hanger he was questioned by alarmed citizens wanting to know more, asking if it was a drill.  As his tertiary job was policing the Dawn Treader he did his best to calm them and send them to their quarters before disappearing from sight.

Arriving at the hanger, he found most of his friends and colleagues already lined up in position amidst one of The Dawn Treader’s vast hangers.  Unlike the homely painted walls that the majority of the ship comprised of, the hanger was decorated with naked titanium and carbon fibre, its reflective surfaces making the room seem even larger than it was.

“What’s going on,” Alex asked turning to Lawrence, unsure whether anyone really knew.

“Alright marines!” Sergeant Major Terrence bellowed, interrupting Lawrence before he could answer, “We’ve been training for situations like this for nearly a thousand years and so help me God I am not coming this far to be stopped now.”

Addressing the marine’s various looks of confusion; the Sergeant Major turned and made a hand gesture to activate the ship’s hologram system, summoning an image from outside the ship.  There were windows to look out, observational platforms that people would take leave to travel to for a glimpse of the empty space they were travelling through, Alex had been a couple of times – but not once had there been a host of other ships there to greet him.

The feeling throughout the room was mutual, some gasped, some held their mouths open in awe whilst others were composed enough to show no reaction, Alex couldn’t help but study the image try to make out the mechanics of the ships he was being shown.  He had signed up to join the marines, to fly The Dawn Treader’s defensive fighters as soon as he was old enough and had been helping maintain them and The Dawn Treader since he had the strength use a spanner, so he knew his way around a ship.

There were three large ships and a mess of smaller ones.  The larger ones seemed to be designed around a single large engine and roughly cylindrical in shape.  Appearing to be of a rustic brown colour, Alex could only assume that either the designers had no flare for design or, as the degrading and messy exterior suggested, the metal used was so old it was starting to rust.  The smaller ships were similar, built around one engine and cylindrical in shape, except for the wings that wrapped around the rear of the ship for extra manoeuvrability.

“As you can see,” Sergeant Major Terrence continued “It turns out we’re not alone in this universe after all.  Command is currently trying to communicate with the craft but until a confirmation of peace comes through I, we, need you to be ready for any eventuality.  Now get to your craft, double time marines!!”

With the crowd quickly dispersing, Alex felt Lawrence’s hand on his shoulder as he gave him a quick uplifting nod before disappearing with the crowd.  Turning to his left he ran through the hanger to the control panel next to his ship.  Typing in his unique pass code, the panels on the floor next to him opened up to reveal his ship as it was raised up from under the hanger floor to ground level.

When The Dawn Treader had left Earth, the scientists, engineers and greatest minds of the human race had been assembled as a committee to made sure that everything that the crew would been shipped out with would be able to deal with anything and everything that the galaxy could throw at them.  This meant that everything from the ships design to the way they could continuously create food was technologically decades ahead of the consumer goods.

The ship didn’t run on fuel but converted light into an energy source in a manner far more efficient and applicable than the crude solar panels that they had left behind.  The vegetation on board was genetically modified to produce extra oxygen and be more nutritious and filling when eaten.  The ship itself was designed so that, if needs be, someone could travel the length of the ship, which was the size of a small country, in under 15 minutes and its hull was made of a series of independent plates that could adapt and move if the hull were ever breached.  The defensive fighters on board were no exception to these technological breakthroughs.

Survivability, as a human, has always proved an issue.  Since the dawn of man we have perished from disease, famine and injuries that other creatures would simply shrug off.  With air dispensing vaccines on board and basic alterations to their anatomy during conception to slow the requirement for food, their only issue would arise when they encountered conflict.  In preparation for this the design committee, in a bid to expect the unexpected, invited a number of science-fiction authors to meet with their military counterparts and designers.  Having gathered a group of minds who would invent any and all bizarre and weird situations that the crew might encounter, the designs drew up would be able to repel everything from sentient robots to little green aliens.  Their hard work, painstaking research and innovative construction about to go about its first, live field test.

In front of Alex was a pair of suits.  One, a smooth and rounded exoskeletal suit that would not only protect Alex from the vacuum of space, but also increase his strength and ability to survive unaided for days without removal.  The other suit stood at twenty feet tall.

Placing his hand on the integrated fingerprint scanner, the smaller suit opened up, its intricate lacing of small diamond shaped metal plates opened up like a liquid and as Alex stepped into the sleek suit of red and silver, the suit closed and encased him inside of it.  As the internal software booted up and analysed his body, Alex grabbed a sidearm and rifle, slapping them onto the suit as it altered its design to hold them.

Repeating the process for the larger suit, Alex climbed up the back of the suit and used the arm of his suit as a key to unlock the suit as it opened up in a similar fashion to the previous suit but metallic diamonds were larger and revealed a large hollow space in the craft.  Clambering into the suit, his body was locked in place by various arms as the software synced together.  Whilst the software would decrease the reaction time for Alex’s movement to be fulfilled by analysing the electrical pulses in his brain, the suit could be used manually if the power ever ran out.

Doing his pre-flight checks, Alex rotated his limbs before picking up another rifle, scaled for the suit before clipping a shield onto his left arm.  Turning around with his weapons in hand, Alex took a knee as some of the other, faster marines had already done.

The visuals from his exosuit were now being projected into the larger one.  From the displays he could see that his armour was a 100%, his rifles and sidearm were fully charged, the suits power was full and his body was fully fit.  As the software finished its initialisation the names of his squad mates appeared next to their suits and various trajectories and exit routes from the hanger were being drawn for him.  Orally, Alex changed the suit’s controls to manual by adjusting various settings, giving him full control over the suit.  As a pilot with one of the most recorded flight hours on record, Alex was most suited to the ship doing what he wanted, when he wanted, rather than it taking care of itself.

With all of his systems ready and prepared, an image of the Sergeant Major appeared to one side of his screen.  “Alright marines!  We’ve received no response from the unknown craft so we’ve been ordered to show a  force of arms, so get out there, line up in your designated sector and show these guys what we’re really-“

“-Weapons have been fired,” Commodore Willems said, interrupting the Sergeant Major as an image of his face appeared on another free side of the screen.  “All ships launch now, repel this fleet!”

The image cut out as the Sergeant Major spoke, “You heard him marines, MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!”

In sequence the group of giants pushed off and ran towards the exit of the hanger that had opened during the communication.  Alex watched as the group ahead of him stood up and ran, launching themselves out into space as the suits elegantly transformed into ships.

Pushing off, Alex ran full speed towards the exit and jumped into the dark void.  Once airborne he altered his position into one, similar to riding a motorcycle.  With the shield and rifle now at the point of the ship the suit altered, connecting and locking joints whilst revealing wings that had been hidden on his back.  Shifting his body weight he pointed the ship upwards through ninety degrees to follow his squad over the top of The Dawn Treader.

Rotating his body he pointed the underbelly of the ship towards The Dawn Treader’s hull to orientate himself as he emerged over the top.  At full speed he fired his light engines towards the incoming ships alongside his squad and the hundreds of others that were scattered across The Dawn Treader as the first explosion lit up the dark void of space to his left.

Act 4 – Stand, Chapter 24

Antara was sprinting as fast as her servos would allow, trying to keep up with Záakesh as, in his crazed state, he ploughed through the mass of red-skinned Tyranids, their white exoskeletal armour giving them no protection them from his warscythe as it carved its path.  Without any thought of self-preservation, Záakesh had dived into the Tyranids at full pace, leaving Antara and the rest of his Lychguard to try and keep up with him, but the further they delved, the less Antara was seeing her Overlord, his towering metallic figure disappearing into the endless numbers of Tyranids.

With the Eldar present, Antara could see that this course of action was necessary.  Záakesh knew that once he was lost to his blood craze he wouldn’t be able to tell friend from foe.  Leaving a thick wall of Tyranids between him and the Eldar he was trying to help was the only sure way to keep him from doing something stupid – he had also mentioned something about it being a fun idea before diving in.

Using one of her new hyperphase swords, Antara cut through the leg of one of the larger creatures before quickly driving the other through its thick neck to behead it as it fell at her feet.  With the giant creature out of the way Antara could see through the crowd in front of her but before she could get a good look, Záakesh was flung back from the mass of bodies. Landing into the ring of Lychguard that were attempting to keep the beasts at bay, Záakesh quickly got back to his feet and roared a challenge at the gigantic beast that had sent him flying.  Standing at twenty foot tall, the Carnifex already had a huge gash over one eye where Záakesh’s warscythe had already found its mark as it charged in.

 

“Fresh batteries!” Sergeant Hollister shouted, hoping someone would hear him over the battle raging at the foot of the city walls.  His men were almost out too, their lasguns running dry and he didn’t know when he was supposed to stop shooting and start evacuating.

They’d all seen it, the destruction of the Tyranid horde only for it to get back up again, swiftly followed by the arrival of another faction in a flash of green – and he had been complaining that his coffee was too cold that morning.  His men were well trained and were prepared for a fight but to fight the apocalypse was a different story.

Firing his own lasgun into the skies to cover the artillery crews from the winged creatures dive bombing the battlements, ne noticed a ring forming in the middle of the Tyranid horde as he followed one’s trajectory into the distance.  The only reason that it caught his eye was the muffled green flashes.  Firing his lasgun, he was met by a beeping sound instead of its usual flash of red light as it finally ran out allowing the creature to escape.  Shouting for ammo again, Hollister grabbed his binoculars to take a closer look at the green lights.

From this distance he could just about make out a ring of metallic looking figures using bright green swords and shields to hold off the sheer weight of the surrounding horde of Tyranids.  Whilst being much smaller in stature than the majority of the beasts around them they fought against them as equals, their strength defying the Tyranids entry into the circle.  For a moment he hoped they might be Adeptus Astartes.  Standing at eight feet tall, the genetically enhanced humans were the only beings that he could imagine holding off such numbers unaided but he hadn’t heard nor seen any sign of a relief force.  Before he could get his hopes up, he turned the magnification on his binoculars up so that he could get a clearer view.  Their bodies weren’t just metallic, but skeletal in design with deep red armour plating covering sections of their body paired with a pale white face mask.  He had never seen a member of the Adeptus Astartes before, only pictures and descriptions, and these beings didn’t look anything like what he imagined the Space Marines of mankind to look like.

In the centre of the ring was a huge beast trying to land a slow and cumbersome strike onto another of the armoured beings as it deftly avoided the huge claws and quickly striking back with some form of spear, its tip appearing to be alive with more of the green energy.  Assuming this was going to be a one way battle, Hollister was surprised when the metallic figure sidestepped an attack and swiftly dived at the creature, driving his spear through the creature’s chest causing it to freeze momentarily before collapsing to the ground.  Stepping onto the corpse of the creature, the metallic figure took a moment to process the battle raging around him before leaping off the carcass and into the mass of Tyranids around him.

Losing sight of the figure in the confusing array of bodies he was interrupted as someone shouted that fresh batteries had arrived – his time as a spectator was over.  Putting his binoculars back in his pocket, Hollister slapped a new battery into his rifle and continued to fight against the endless horde of enemies.

Act 4 – Stand, Chapter 23

“They’re our allies for the foreseeable future,” came Farseer Aramën’s thoughts telepathically through to Exarch Sarinah, the various spirits residing within him becoming conflicting voices over the meaning of the message as a host of Necron Warriors appeared in a flash of green in front of his Dire Avengers.  As an Exarch of the Fallen Sun Dire Avenger Shrine, Sarinah’s being was comprised of the souls of each Exarch that had worn the armour, his body forfeit to the greater collaboration of spirits collected in the Spirit Stones on his royal blue armour and right now, most of them were screaming for his finger to pull the trigger on his wrist mounted shuriken catapults.

Having been sworn enemies of the Necrons since before the conception of the paths of the warrior, the only thing stopping him from ordering his warriors to fire into the backs of the metallic constructs was his trust in Aramën.  Her guidance and foresight had saved the lives of his warriors more times than he could ever repay her for – but she had never asked anything so bold as to trust a Necron before.

As he stood poised for battle, his time for contemplation was diminishing, the Tyranid’s were closing in and his squad was looking to him for guidance.  Turning his head to look at the Eldar that would blindly follow him into battle he caught the eye of Eldaneer, an Exarch of the Howling Banshees, as she nodded to him.  She then raised her double bladed executioner above her head, spurring her warriors into a frenzy as they regained their combat stature, ready to charge into battle at a moments notice.  Following her lead, Sarinah raised one hand above his head as he ran forwards to join the line of Necrons in front of him, his warriors rushing after him and plugging the gaps that the thinly spread line had left.

Arriving just as the beasts came within range of their weapons, the quiet whisper of his shuriken catapults was drowned out by the surging gauss weaponry that the Necrons employed.  Their green lightning stripping flesh from the mass of bodies as the monomolecular disks fired from the Eldar tore through the Tyranids lightly armoured hide.

The surging advance was slowed, almost halted by such numbers of mixed weaponry as thousands died and were crushed underfoot of the next wave; the cycle repeating itself as though they were fighting against an infinite foe, their loss of number meaning nothing to the synaptic creatures.

Taking a moment to glance at the battlefield, Sarinah could see the mix of blue and yellow with silver and red as the two rival factions stood side by side, weapons blazing at full capacity at a common foe, a sight that he had never expected to see during his millennia of lives.  Parts of him were disgusted whilst other voices were in awe of what was happening as further along the line, the bone coloured figures of the Howling Banshees used the Necron’s strong, sturdy, metallic bodies as a launch pad.   Summersaulting high into the air to crash, head height, into the taller more armoured Tyranids that were breaking through the small arms fire, only to meet their end to blazing power swords that carved their way through carapace, flesh and bone.

Turning back to the wall of bodies in front of him, Sarinah lost himself in the beauty of battle, slaying monster after monster as he used the hulking and resilient forms of the Necrons as an unbreakable wall whist the Howling Banshees carved their way past anything that broke through, allowing him to pause and reload and check on his squad – he barely even noticed the crazed Necron Lord lead a spearhead into the midst of the Tyranids, a squad of Lychguard tailing him deep into the enemy lines.

 

Hama wasn’t sure what to think as he unloaded another deadly payload of rockets from his reaper launcher into the biological mass in front of him.  Being so difficult to miss his target he fortunately found himself with plenty of time to comprehend what was going to come next.

With the Necron artillery adding to that of the Eldar and Humans, the mass of bodies further in was thinning as the Tyranids at the forefront crashed against the defensive line, like water breaking against a damn.  He estimated that it wouldn’t be too long before this battle would be won, but how long would it take for the archaic device aboard the Hive to recharge and bring the broken bodies to life once more?  In either case they were fast approaching the time to pull back and leave this planet to the Tyranids.  Hama’s concern was with what the Necrons would do.  Would they leave, shoot them in the back or, if these Necrons were looking to save the planet, would they stay and fight to the bitter end?

As if on cue a Necron Deathmark appeared out of nowhere as he stepped out next to Hama, causing him to stop firing and raise his blade in a defensive stance.  Deathmarks were well known snipers who could use tears between dimensions to slip quietly and untraceably into position to eliminate their targets.  Letting go of the trigger of his rifle, the Deathmark raised a hand in a gesture of peace.

“I come in peace Eldar, with a message from Overlord Záakesh,” the Deathmark spoke, Hama only just managing to hear its metallic voice over the sound of battle.  Leaving his guard up, he allowed the Deathmark to continue.  “When these beasts are put down, we are to return to our ship.  Once this has occurred Záakesh would like to speak to your leaders about the next move,” the Deathmark continued, unmoved by Hama’s stance.

Grateful for the news but still expecting a there to be an ulterior motive in the Deathmark’s arrival, Hama nodded in agreement to which the Deathmark seemed to start looking past Hama and raised his rifle, firing a round past Hama’s head and into a large winged creature.  Turning to see the body falling straight towards the pair, Hama rolled to one side as the headless corpse crashed harmlessly into the floor.  Looking around in surprise but wanting to thank the Necron, he found himself stood alone.

Act 3 – Rise, Chapter 22

The ground underneath Aramën’s boots shook as a bright light lit up the sky in the east as the traps the Eldar had left behind were set off by the first wave of Tyrandis crashing onto the planet.  A cry of pain from the creatures caught in the blast soon followed, filling the air with a sombre and chilling mood – they had little time left to prepare.

Having placed the high and noble walls of the city to their backs, the colourful displays of Eldar warriors were now all very aware of their encroaching foes.  With the last of their number getting into position, the Eldar’s defending line was small, but profusely deadly.  Large gun emplacements were charging their power generators at the back whilst at the front, lines of Dire Avengers were tucked behind various makeshift barricades.  The entire force was as steady as a rock, their numerous weapons trained into the distance as they waited for the storm.

Aramën had positioned herself in the middle of the defence so that she could use her gifts of foresight and offensive physic powers to best aid her warriors.  She found herself amidst the countering wave of Howling Banshees, the sleek cream armour displaying their elegant female forms merely a mask for the dealers of death; their power swords humming with a lust for murder and sonic emitters on their helmets that could send enemies mad with fear.

Looking around the defences she found Hama stood at the forefront of their defences – his mastery of war would lead as an inspiring example from the front where all the warriors could see.

The dust now settling on the horizon, the silhouette of the giant Hive biomass could be seen stationary in orbit, a steady stream of ravenous life being shot from its enormous being into space and towards the planet.  The sky was starting to darken for real now as Hama looked up at the fast approaching invasion.

Using the optical enhancements in his helmet, he could start to make out the shapes of Tyranid spores hurtling towards the city.  With the Xamath overhead destroying them during their decent, he wouldn’t have to worry himself about, leaving him to deal with the foot slogging creatures landing in the distance.

As if on cue, the shadow of the Xamath appeared overhead and held its vector above the city, its various cannons and missiles launching into the sky to intercept the invaders in flashes of bright colours.

Turning his attention back to his own adversaries, he could see that whilst his forces had been a fluid motion of calm serenity, the incoming Tyranids were a blood red tsunami with a pale white surf rushing towards them.

As the heavy weapon platforms finished charging up their long ranged guns, Hama sensed something behind him.  Turning to look at the walls, he was greeted by the presence of hundreds of armed Humans lined across its battlements, guns trained at the incoming Tyranid horde as a battalion of fighter jets flew over, their crude jet engines screaming overhead as they flew towards the oncoming tide and releasing their payload, sending scores of Tyranids to their grave in an impressive display of fire.

Splitting off from their attack run, the largely unscathed group of fighters made their way quickly back to the city to resume their evacuation duties whilst Hama opened a communication channel to the weapons platform teams – their weapons humming with energy, raring to be released and find their marks.  “Now!” he said calmly, as a silent wave of projectile energy was launched over the defenders and into the disorganised waves of the Tyranids, further impeding their progress across the plains as they fought across the newly scorched craters and dismembered bodies of their kin.

Before they could pick up any decent pace, Hama send an order to the Xamath, asking its crew to release the few missiles it could spare into the gathering horde.

Streaking overhead, the deadly missiles quickly found their targets.  With another cry of pain, the Tyranids disappeared from view in a burst of light as their bodies were disintegrated, torn apart and broken in a cloud of dust.

With the hordes’ progress stunted, the Humans on the wall started jeering and mocking their foes.  Some started to chant crude, repetitive songs whilst others, who had been as pale as the light from a white dwarf star, were starting to realise that the invading Tyranids were simple life forms, albeit destructive and numerous, but not immortal.

Aramën admired the Humans sense of achievement, unwarranted as it was.  A Human’s moral was like a leaf on the wind, it could be tossed about and change direction with but a simple puff of wind.  This was most unlike that of the Eldar warriors, who had been trained only to fight, to not fear their enemies and to trust in their own skill as a warrior.  Closing out the noises from the Humans in her mind, she lifted her runes into the air around her as the conclave of Warlocks surrounding her followed suit.

Once more, tapping into the life force of the galaxy she turned her attention to the sky ahead.  Using her advanced knowledge of the way the world worked she started manipulating the air pressure, forming clouds where it had once been a clear sky until the area in front of her warriors was pitch dark.

In the distance as the dust settled once more.  Instead of the defenders being greeted by a pile of corpses, they could see a host of larger creatures ambling across the plain, stooping over and shielding the smaller ones with their thicker armour – the cheering from the Humans stopped.

Building the pressure to breaking point, Aramën waited for the slower advancing creatures to reach the shaded ground.  Using all of her strength combined with that of the Warlocks around her to hold onto the ever increasing pressure, she eventually subdued, allowing the clouds overhead to burst.

Hama could only watch as the huge physic storm was unleashed as a mixture of natural lightning and physic bolts rained down from the sky and struck the horde.  Its power instantly slayed the smaller creatures, despite their new protection, as a score of the larger beasts roasted inside their shell-like armour; their hulking forms now only making them a natural target for the lightning.

With their last trick now spent, the Eldar could only rely on the weapons they held in their hands as they waited for the Tyranids to regroup and rush into their lines.

“How much time do they need?” Hama asked the commander of the Xamath his confident tone hiding the dread he felt towards one of the answers that could come back.

“The last of the transports are setting off now for the docks.  They should return for you shortly.”

“Excellent work,” he replied, breathing a short sigh of relief.  There’s no way the Tyranids can send enough reinforcements to overpower us, a short skirmish with the surviving beasts and we can leave moderately unscathed, Hama thought to himself.

Before he could take a moment to relax and enjoy the moment, a green bolt of energy shot from the Hive and into the ground where thousands of Tyranid corpses were slain.  The defenders silent with confusion, Hama enhanced his vision to see thousands of corpses reassembling themselves, growing new limbs where they had been blasted apart and crying out with a new found lust for blood.

Their rushing numbers were now so densely populated from the kill zone that the Eldar had created, the tsunami was now a landslide and even the trained Aspect warriors of the Eldar forces were starting to become undone.

With their transports unavailable and their advantage of firepower about to be overwhelmed, Hama looked to Aramen to see if they should try and outrun them or fight.  He found her stood by his side.

“Excellent,” she said to no one in particular before turning to Hama, “Ready a charge.”

Both shocked at the order but trusting her inspiring presence as a commander, Hama acted against his own judgement and relayed Aramën’s message to their warriors, placing the lives of their warriors in her hands once more.

“Do not worry,” she telepathically said to the defenders, “They’re our allies for the foreseeable future,” as a burst of green lightning hit the ground infront of the Eldar line, a host of Necrons in its place poised and ready for battle left in its wake.

 

 

Collaboration and Repetition

Your listening to the radio and that new, hooky song comes on.  You have a sing and dance about, and when it’s finished you decide you’re going to get the album to hear more stuff like it.  You’re about to encounter one of three possibilities:

  1.  The rest of the album is nothing like the hit you’ve been listening to so there’s a fair chance you don’t like it.
  2. The entire album sounds exactly the same, which is what you thought you wanted until you listened to it all in one go.
  3. You find the perfect album, where each song is different but they share the same spirit of one another.

The same can be said about film collaborations.

Now I actually went to go see The Hateful Eight this week and when asked how it was, my reply is unfortunately, “Full”.  So, not wanting to waste a trip, we watched Daddy’s Home instead, the reunion of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell after the bush hitting The Other Guys.

Now I had forgotten about The Other Guys (not because it was bad, I actually enjoyed it a fair amount) so as this didn’t seem like it was going to be my cup of tea, my initial expectations were low – I was happily surprised.

However a friend happened to be disappointed as he hadn’t forgot about their previous outing and was after more of the same (see where I’m going with this yet?) which seemed to me, to be a pretty archaic thought.

It does happen though, all the time.  A pairing of actors in similar roles just running through the motions in a new environment which in Daddy’s Home, wasn’t the case.  A good example could be the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and The Worlds End) starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  Wherein Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead both have Pegg playing the ‘straight’ man and Frost playing the ‘village idiot’.  Of course they aren’t carbon copy characters and they are different but in terms of the plot, one has the role of protagonist and the other is the sidekick.  Then The Worlds End came out and all of a sudden, Pegg played the ‘idiot’ and Frost was the ‘straight man’.

Personally, I loved it.  It had the same spirit as the originals but still stood out from the other two, but I know other people had reservations about it and they couldn’t say why, they just said that “it didn’t feel the same.”  I honestly think that subconsciously they saw Pegg in an different role from the previous two and when, as a character you were supposed to dislike him (well at least not hold up as a hero), they were put off.

I’m not saying that Daddy’s Home is a great film or anything (it’s alright, plenty of laughs and you’ll spend the next couple of days with ACDC stuck in your head), just remember collaborations may not always turn out to be the type of album you’re looking for.

Act 3 – Rise, Chapter 21

It had been many passes since Aramën had seen the Hive – since she had created the Hive, and she felt no less guilty now as she had been then.

Its rate of growth had been faster than she predicted, much faster, and the velocity of its trajectory down to Fifé was staggeringly quick.  As much as she wanted to avoid conflict with the Tyranids, her options were now few and far between.

Closing her eyes, through the protection of her runes she looked to the psychic-energy that fuelled the galaxy and gazed upon the threads of light that represented the life around her.  Following its web-like structure like a spider, she turned to each and every inconceivable action she could take, but none would provide a resolution devoid of conflict…except maybe one?

“Aramën, do we stand and fight or run?”  Hama asked, almost impatiently.

Pausing for a last moment of thought before treading on a path that would decide the outcome of the proceeding battle, Aramën looked at the array of warriors that followed her unquestioningly, their lives in her hands.

“We move closer to the city, place its walls at our back and hope the humans provide support from its barricades.  Fly the Xamath above the city to stop any spores from bombarding the citizens in their evacuation.”

Nodding in acknowledgement, Hama launched himself off the ship, relaying the commands to the Warlocks and Exarchs down below.

Before long, Aramën’s forces were akin to a deep-blue river coursing its way swiftly towards the city – their golden helms like sunlight reflecting off a deep blue ocean.  All she could do now was to hope that Governor Thorpe would stand his ground until this battle turned, one way or the other.

 

“Governor!” one of Thorpe’s aids shouted out amongst the hustle and bustle of the command room.  “The Eldar, they’re headed towards the city.”

“I told you,” another shouted, “They’re just looking to take the city for their own!”

“No wait, they’ve stopped just outside the eastern walls?”

“At least they’ve got the courtesy to not let themselves in,” he muttered under his breath, hoping that the farfetched idea of them moving in wasn’t about to come true.  “How are the Tyranids progressing,” Thorpe asked.

“What we assume to be transport spores are just about to hit the surface, roughly where the Eldar had made camp sir.”

“Alright, and what of the evacuations?”  The Eldar’s anti-grav tanks had arrived little under an hour ago and were efficiently shuttling the citizen of Fife to the docks where a number of huge spacecraft were waiting for the refugees.

“Fast, really fast in fact – but probably not fast enough.  That is, if what I hear about Tyranids is true?” the technician asked, looking to the Governor for any slim hope of good news.

“At this point, I don’t think any amount of speed will be fast enough to get out of here in the clear.  Order any and all defence forces to the eastern wall.  Make sure the Valkyries are back for them and ready to go as soon as the citizens are on board, we’re going to need all the time we can get.”

The issue with the “Hype Train”

So Star Wars is coming out in less than a week.  If this is new information to you, which rock have you been under the past three years…and is there space for a small one?)

Now I love Star Wars, like LOVE Star Wars…but, and there is a but, is it doing the film industry any good?

On one hand you’ve now got this massively fierce competition between studios as they pit their heavyweights against each other.  Just look at Captain America: Civil War bullying Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice into releasing 2015’s most spoilerific trailer (yes, beating Terminator Genisys) after they released their first tease.  I’m not a big DC nut, well not yet anyway, but even without understanding the context of said spoiler, it really didn’t need to be included.

Maybe they were planning on releasing their trailer anyway and it was a coincidence that Civil War threw down a gauntlet, don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

With a world of Marvel, DC and Star Wars with a whole assortment of cinema filling franchises like The Hunger Games, James Bond etc. they really do need to raise their game to beat their competitors, which thus far, I think most have been doing but, in this rush to be the biggest and the best, what happens to the little guys.

Which brings me to the other hand, which is that the film industry is dividing.  To be succesful, either you’re a huge film, filling cinemas everywhere, or you’re a smaller film, collecting Oscars and making a decent profit.  Of course there are a whole bunch of films that do neither of these things and are still successful financially and critically, but they are usually filling in the empty parts of the year so as to avoid the Jurassic Worlds and Terminators.

At the moment there’s a heap of films out or coming out that look awesome; Victor Frankenstein, In The Heart Of The Sea, The Revenant and Bridge of Spies but they’re all just sat under the shadow of Star Wars.  I’m even likely to miss The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 for all the great films out and I’m really trying to see them all, never mind your passive cinema goers.

Yes I know Star Wars is a big thing but this isn’t a one off event either, there are already five confirmed movies spanning the next five years.  Whilst my inner nerd is crying out in joy, I know the number of films out around Christmas is going to take a dive and I give serious kudos to all the ones that have released meaning, if anything, there are too many out this Christmas fighting for my attention.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we, are getting caught up in these “Hype Trains” too easy, and in doing so, we’re missing out on so much other stuff, our film palettes are going to be very full of the one thing when there’s a whole other buffet table just on the other side of the room.

Oh who am I kidding, WOO STAR WARS!!!!

Act 3 – Rise, Chapter 20

“Autarch, the Humans are attempting to contact us.”

“Let them speak,” Hama replied, striding into the centre of the Xamath’s command bridge as a short rotund Human appeared on the holo-screen.

“This is Governor William Thorpe, requesting an audience with Farseer Aramën.”

Adjusting his jaw to speak in the primitive Human language, Hama replied, “Farseer Aramën is currently indisposed, this is Autarch Hama, commander of the Xamath.  What can I do for you Governor?”

“If it is not too late, we would like to take you up on your offer of aid, Hama,” he said, poorly attempting to replicate the pronunciation of the Eldar’s name.  “Whilst I would like to say this decision was made before evidence proved your theory true, I’m afraid I cannot.  The arrival of the Tyranid Hive has forced our hand.”

Hama subdued a look of confusion, looking to one of the operators at the helm, he was met with a shake of the head, as though they had both been thinking the same thing.

“Governor, if our offer had expired then we would no longer be on the planet, we shall send evacuation craft as soon as we can – unless you had any grand thoughts of trying to repel the beasts?”

“I know my men, and I know that they are amongst the finest in the galaxy… but I doubt a whole Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes could repel such a force.”

“Your logic is sound Governor, prepare your citizens for evacuation.”

“You have my eternal gratitude.”

Bowing to the Governor before the feed was cut, Hama turned to one of the Xamath’s operators, “Alright then, time to send help.”

“Transports are already prepped and ready to launch Autarch.”

“Excellent, where is Aramën?”

The Eldar ran his fingers across the Xamath’s interface, connecting his mind to the ship.  Unlike a Human made craft, with buttons and levers to control it, Eldar craft, along with most of their items, were grown from a substance called Wraithbone, a material that, in the case of an entire craft, would have a sense of basic consciousness.  This consciousness could be communicated to by its pilots by using their physic abilities; effectively controlling the crafts with their minds.

“She appears to be on the roof.”

 

Stepping out into the warm sunlight, Hama’s feet were met by the crunch of charred grass under his boots.  Activating the Swooping Hawk jetpack on his back, he jumped into the air and was gracefully lifted into the sky by the fluttering of the teal blue and white wings on his back.

Enjoying the feel of the wind on his face, Hama circled round the Xamath before heading up to the top.  From here he could see the array of Wave Serpents and Falcon anti-gravity tanks gracefully skimming out of the hanger and towards the city.  Swooping round to the aft of the huge midnight blue hull, he could see his brothers and sisters setting up defences across the fields.  Scores of Guardians and Aspect Warriors were in their final stages of preparation before the invasion, their aim would be to buy time for the city’s citizens to escape if necessary, but they should be long gone before then if all went to plan leaving these defences as a show for the humans to see how serious the threat was.

On a breeze of warm air, Hama was lifted onto the ship’s roof where he could see Aramën’s cloaked figure sat cross-legged in the centre.

Moving closer he could see her face was set in a calm expression of concentration.  “You realise this isn’t going to remove the notion of Eldar lying just to get what they want?”

Met by silence, Hama decided to take a seat next to the Farseer, “Well hopefully they’ll never know, and it will have bought us some more precious time.” she replied eventually.  Opening her eyes and looking up, she was greeted by a clear blue sky with an illusion of the Tyranid Hive on the horizon.

Before Hama could admire the Farseer’s work in creating an illusion of the Hive, casting a dark shadow over the city, a tear in space appeared and the real Tyranid biomass was spat from the warp, replacing the one that Aramën has conjured to speed up the Governor’s decision.

“They’re early…”

Who rates the BBFC

Quick roundup of what I’ve not had time to write about:  Pixar’s still got it, 5 star reviews of potential Oscar winners does not mean a good film, GeekDamon+Mars=Awesome, the world was/still is horrifically sexist and unequal and actually getting into see the film you want at the showing you chose before setting off is becoming rarer than a Bengal Tiger.  (If you want to guess the films I’ve seen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to eat lunch with me [seriously, I get lonely at lunchtime], then answers in the comments below!)

My beef this week, Spectre.  Not as an awesome film, not looking at its espionage based plot, amazing (and damned real) action sequences or characters bursting with character and charm and gadgets… but its rating.  For the record, Skyfall was better…

The first thing I’ll say is that even though it says 12A, you SHOULD NOT take young kids to go see it.  You thought that beheaded dwarf scene in The Hobbit: Go watch LOTR again Part 1 was bad, then prepare for a whole bunch of Halloween inspired horror.

There’s a move taken straight from Game of Thrones (a hardcore 18) in there, surgery only Dr Zed should be performing and some other not so bad stuff like cold-blooded murder in there to boot!  I know that James Bond’s audience is supposed to be broad, but ever since it tried to go all Bourne, I feel someone needs to re-evaluate the 007 rating stamp.

So there’s no blood or gratuitous gore (or sex), but I don’t think that 12A is good enough.  It’s too broad a stamp and used far too often, I mean in terms of getting into the cinema, it’s exactly the same as a PG, but with a bit more advisory warning which (unless you’re an avid reader of BBFC monthly), you’ll have no idea about until you’re in there and watching it.

Solution, change the definition of 12A to something along the lines of, “You must be over 12 to see this film unless you are older than X and are accompanied by someone over 18 who has read the reasons why the film has been deemed a 12A.  I know it won’t happen and the world is turning into a place where younger and younger kids are being exposed to stuff earlier in their lives (thanks to the Internet) and so it’s probably nothing they haven’t already seen but they could at least try to be sensible.

Spectre, definitely needed a 12, or Sam Mendes needs to stop taking action notes from Game of Thrones.  In either way, great movie, just please don’t take your kids until you know what they’re in for.