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Isuue 005

A Fryar's Tale

By torghul

The villager shivered in the cold wind. The evening was turning into night and this did not help his anxiety at all. Rumbling into view came his first sight of a Rhino marine vehicle. Like so many things within the Imperium, he had read stories and learned from others of the awesome space marines and their weaponry, but he had never seen one. Why should he? He lived in a boring place, on a boring planet in what is supposed to be a safe sector of Imperial space. Or so it had been until last night.

The Rhino stopped a short distance from him and then fell silent as it's engines were shut down. It was so dark now he couldn't make out its colour. It could be green or black or, well any dark colour.

Then, from the rear of the vehicle emerged the largest human being he had ever seen, accompanied by two others - equally tall, broad and menacing.

"Are you Fryar?" Said the leading marine.

Fryar hesitated as he took in this marine's appearance. He must be eight feet tall or near as damn it he thought

"Yes" responded Fryar, "I - I was the one that put out the alert call from our village station"

The marine removed his helmet, and Fryar then realised that a great deal of his size was due to the armoured suit the marine was wearing.

"My name is Sergeant Drake, and this is my Tactical squad. You will tell me everything that occurred here in the past 24 hours."

Fryar was taken aback by the aggression in the voice of this sergeant. He felt as though he had done something very wrong and hoped he hadn't made a mistake by putting out the alert.

"Everything, from when we met the creature?" Said Fryar.

"Before you met the creature!" Drake bellowed, "I want to know whether you have a standard 'routine' to your daily lives here. I want to know what happens here, how many people live here, what work they do, what they make and why they make it. I want to know whether you know much about your own land, your continent and planet,” bellowed Drake.

This is most perplexing thought Fryar, why would he want to know about what people make here? And the land, and the continent? This is most confusing.

"Well this is a farming community, we produce many crops which are shipped all over the place, and we believe, to other planets. Why do you wish to know so much? I thought you were here to investigate and remove the creature,” said Fryar, now clearly shaken.

"I will ask the questions" said Drake.

"Can we go inside, it's cold now and I feel I can answer your questions better where I feel more comfortable?" Fryar thought he was pushing his luck with that request, but to his surprise, the big sergeant agreed. Fryar relaxed a little at this as clearly the marines did not feel the cold within their suits, but the sergeant had the intelligence to realise the mission would proceed quickly with Fryar's assistance.

Once inside Fryar's dwelling, Drake was told everything about the daily lives of the people in the village and of the attack the previous day which had left 5 farm workers dead and 10 seriously injured.

"Tell me Fryar, how many people saw the creature?" demanded Drake

"Fifty, maybe more" said Fryar

"And why do you think it didn't kill more than it did?"

"I don’t know, I think it became afraid and ran off. It was strange, it seemed as though it wasn't planning to attack anyone, but when the crew of the mobile thresher came across it in the thresher pen, it burst into life and very quickly - faster than anything we have seen move, made for that copse a mile away.

"It attacked people as it passed, but didn't seem to concentrate on any of them." Fryar could still hardly believe the events that had passed. Then he went cold.

"I am sorry, I have just realised what has actually happened - and I was waiting for you outside where I would could have been attacked."

"Yes you could,” said Drake coldly.

"Tell me, why did you say your community was attacked by a Tyranid creature?" Said Drake "What do you know of Tyranids?"

"I know nothing,” said Fryar "but a couple of the villagers reckon they have seen them first hand. One said that we had been attacked by a Tyrant - "

Drake cut in "If you had been attacked by a Tyrant, you all be dead now - and you would not have seen it as it's minions would have killed you first."

"Your friends were lying to you, I doubt if anyone from a farming community will have ever seen a Tyranid.

" Now tell me more about this creature, you said it was massive. Are you sure or could your mind be tricking you into thinking an eight foot creature was much larger?"

"Oh no, no definitely not" replied Fryar "This thing was at least fifteen feet tall."

"I find that hard to believe,” said Drake "I have had several encounters with Tyranids and you don't get lone Tyranids that are fifteen feet tall. Now think, did this thing have two pairs of claws, an over-sized head and run on two legs?"

"No" replied Fryar "It was weird, it had a pair of clawed arms and a pair of, er, well massive sword type things."

"Talons?" said Drake

"Yeah, that's it, like an overgrown finger which could slice you in half and was about seven feet long."

"What else can you tell me about its appearance? It’s head for instance,” demanded Drake.

"I don't actually remember its head. It had spikes though."

"Spikes? Where, on it's head?" Drake no sounded puzzled, although he believed he now knew what they had found.

"No, on it's back - or was it it's front. I'm sorry I am finding it hard to remember where exactly the spikes were. I hadn't seen anything like this before." Said Fryar.

Drake took out a draw tab and created a picture of what he thought the villagers had discovered and passed it to Fryar.

"This what you saw?" he rasped.

"Er, yeah, kinda. Yes that's it" replied Fryar, and then "Is that a Tyranid?"

Drake for once hesitated, wondering whether he should tell Fryar or not, but then decided that sharing knowledge may well assist in potential future 'discoveries'.

"Yes, it's called a Lictor. Probably been hiding here for years and was scared when it was discovered." Drake was lying heavily. He knew these things were frightened of nothing, and generally attacked everything once they put their minds to it. He was also aware that a new monster had been seen on other planets and was itching to see one and then blast it to bits. There was an air of despondency in his voice when at last he spoke.

"So, this Lictor, could it have been only twelve feet tall? It's their usual height."

"No, this was taller than that - I noticed how high it stood against the thresher pen" said Fryar.

"OK" replied Drake. "You stay here, if this is a Lictor it won't attack tonight, they like to lie in wait. If it is active, it will attack at dawn."

"One final question - where is this copse it moved toward?"

"You can't see it now, it's too dark, but when it gets light, you'll see it easily. It's a mile to the north on a hill over there." Fryar pointed out of the window in the general direction of the copse.

Drake returned to the Rhino and his tac team. Clearly annoyed that he was on another Lictor hunt. This was the forth Lictor hunt is a short space of time and although he was now expert in Lictor killing, he would have much preferred to tackle this new 'Nid which had appeared on other worlds. He told his tac team not to mention to anyone the presence of the new Hive Fleet in the area and that this Lictor was probably the first batch of advanced infiltration bugs. He felt that it might panic the locals too easily.

"We ought to be on the look-out for 'stealers as well, they like to make up an advanced party"

Studying the terrain map, Drake's squad identified the copse quickly and set off to investigate.

About 500 yards from the Copse the Rhino stopped and the Tac team got out and surveyed the area.

All was very quiet. The motion sensors indicated no movement of any kind and nothing could be seen amongst the shadows of the copse.

"We'll wait here until it's light" said Drake. "If we go in now, and there is a Lictor in there, it will have the advantage."

"We'll flush it out and fry it when we have the advantage. Keep alert, these things can - and will - sneak up on you."

The morning was clear and mist free. Drake was beginning to believe the Lictor was not in the Copse and had moved elsewhere. He expected the motion trackers to have become active during the night, but nothing had happened.

Now it was time for action and for them to move on.

"Right, I know how to beat these things, and so do you. Last time it took us less than two minutes to reduce a Lictor to a splash of ichor. I'm not going for a record, I just don't want any screw-ups, so as last time - by the numbers."

The tac squad slowly approached the copse, trackers fully active and the flamer at the ready. As soon as the bolter carriers were within effective range, Drake ordered the squad to halt and the bolters to open fire on the copse.

A hail if electrical ammunition rained in on the copse, carving up trees and bushes. When the shooting had stopped, nothing moved.

"Right. We wait a little, then we'll do it again." Said Drake. He knew that flamers were normally the best weapon for Lictor Flushing, but had a very close encounter the first time he fought one, preferring to really soften up an area first.

Again the squad opened fire, with the same result.

"OK, flamer at the ready, we're going in." Drake roared.

The squad moved closer to the copse, and Drake was careful to keep a maximum distance to enable many shots to be fired should a Lictor break cover and charge them.

The flamer erupted in a sea of orange flame, instantly igniting everything it touched.

"Come on, where are you, I'll find you, I'll get you" Drake thought.

Again the flamer went off and still nothing appeared. The copse was burning and beginning to burn badly.

"OK" said Drake "If we are going to see it, it's going to be now."

Once more the flamer erupted. Drake knew his squad were positioned correctly for the expected charge. He knew his crew were amongst the best, he knew he would kill it if it existed.

Then, very quickly sprang the largest Lictor he had ever seen. This Lictor was not only very large, but also very, very fast. Drake only had time to think how he would defeat this large lictor, he had been right about his tactics, he had been right about Lictors he was convinced he would defeat it. This time, he knew he was wrong...

To see the concluding parts of A Fryar's Tale click here.

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