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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Goliath Short Story

With the re-release of Necromunda - one of my favourite Games Wrkshop games - I have been busy building and painting up the two gangs from the starter box - Escher and Goliath.  My Escher gang will be the "Nightwytches" while my Goliath gang will be the "Maniax" a throwback to the old Dark Future gang of the same name (yes, I am that old!)

One of the appeals of Necromunda - and also historical games like Chain of Command - is the narrative campaign style of the game.  Gang members gain experience, get wounded, build up reputations or die in the darkness of the Underhive, and each gang member becomes a character in its own right.  In the new version of Necromunda, Juves are more important than in the past - they grow over time, hopefully to become champions, unlike the normal gangers. With that in mind, and with one Juve in my starting Goliath Gang, I thought I would try my hand and writing short stories based on the adventures of the "Maniax" initially from the viewpoint of the Juve (assuming he lives long enough!)

So, here is a short story called "The Naming" describing my Juves induction into the "Maniax" .  (For the historical gamers out there, I'll be back to the Napoleonics and Chain of Command again soon!)

The Naming
He stood hunched in the middle of the disused chem-vat, body aching. The caustic solution had long ago evaporated in the Dome's hot, stale air, leaving a white-grey powder that covered his heavy industrial boots in fine chemical dust.  Large by normal human standards, both in height and muscle mass, the product of synth-food and growth stimms, he was still small compared to the six crudely hooded and robed figures standing in a rough circle on the wide yellow-and-black striped rim of the vat.  And big though those six were, they in turn stood a head shorter than the man standing in the vat with him, hooded and robed like the others. Vasko the Killer, boss of the Maniax gang, of the House Goliath.  The gang-boss stood on a crude raised platform made of empty barrels, ammo crates and a thick sheet of grating ripped from the floor of the Underhive specifically for the purpose. Vasko was huge, robes barely covering the bulk of his hyped-up, 'roided musculature, and although the platform was a solid structure, it still creaked alarmingly whenever he shifted his weight.  The gang-boss's voice was huge to match:     

"Serial Number 067-673022, born of vat RY-400-38!"  Vasko's voice echoed around the vat, bouncing off the admantium walls. "You stand before us, havin' passed the Three Tests!"

067-673022 stood a little straighter, or tried to, but his body still ached from the third test.  A surge of pride coursed through his body.  His own robe of crude red cloth, scratched his skin and caught on the dried blood that covered the wounds on his chest and shoulders.  067-673022 thought back to the initiation tests. The first test had been easy, a simple test of brute strength. Chop through a solid girder with a renderiser, then knock a hundred bolts through steel panels with a powerhammer.  No trouble there, it was something that any vat-born worker of  House Goliath could do. 

The second test...more challenging, but still no real problem for a member of House Goliath.  Scragging a hiver.  He'd picked a passing maintainence worker, probably tithed for life to one of the other Houses that were slowly clearing areas of the newly discovered Helsreach Dome.  The man had been wearing some sort of chem-protection suit with a full re-breather mask, oblivious to 067-673022 tracking him through the dome. When he finally pounced, 067-673022 had been amused to see the man's eyes, wide with terror, behind the plexi-glass visor as 067-673022 grabbed him around the throat.  The tithe-serf had tried to put up a brief fight, but soon succumbed to 067-673022's fists.  The body had drifted off down a small stream of chemical pollutants, lost to the Underhive, although perhaps one of the scavenger gangs further downstream would pick the body up and pass it on to the Corpse Guild for a small profit.  
"Havin' passed the Three Tests, you is now in the Maniax!" Vasko's voice boomed again. 067-673022's thoughts returned to the present, and he tried to hold his body upright.  Shallow dishes of burning promenthium cast shadowy flickers against the vat's walls and the blue flames reflected off of Vasko's armour. 067-673022 was beginning to feel dizzy.  He must have been hit harder than he thought.
"All there is now is the Naming!" The gang-boss reached behind him and brought out a massive heavy bladed axe head, welded onto the shaft of a power hammer.  It had been many shift-cycles since Vasko himself had been a newly recruited Juve, but he still kept - and used - the vicious brute cleaver he had picked as his first weapon when he had become a gang member. No guns for Vasko back then, running with the Bonejackers gang, just hacking and slashing up close.  Most of the Bonejackers were gone now, dead or crippled following the great Cawdor uprising in Valatrix Dome.  Not that Vasko cared, he'd survived and prospered, gaining a fearsome reputation and the right to form his own gang. Holding the weapon in his outstretched arm, Vasko motioned for 067-673022 to put his hand on the blade.  067-673022 did so, but a throbbing pain pulsed along his bruised arm.  Broken bone mebbe? 
That third test had been harder.  A minute of bare knuckle fighting with each of the other six Maniax gangers, six minutes of pain in all, Vasko sitting on a bulkhead watching for any weakness.  Even now 067-673022 wasn't sure he remembered all of it.  Murder and displays of brute strength were all well and good.  But going up against six Goliaths at once, that was tough.  No wonder less than one aspirant in fifteen made it into the Maniax. He'd put up solid resistance against Hrud, and had landed a couple of good blows on Bazza, but Jaxx had nearly broken his jaw, and things had gone hazy after that. 067-673022's tongue probed the broken stubs of teeth in his jaw.  Syko, the bastard, had gone on for an extra ten seconds, knocking out a handful of 067-673022's teeth, and cracking a rib. The ganger was well named, stimmed up to the limits of his body, wild eyed behind his skull mask as he landed blow after blow, fast and solid.  A complete psychopath, even by the standards of the Underhive.  Even now 067-673022 could see Syko, out of the corner of his eye, cackling quietly to himself and twitching as he came down from the chem-stimm cocktail high that had flooded his veins for the past three shift-cycles.       
"I Vasko, gang-boss of the Maniax take you in the gang and give you your True Name!  No longer will you be known as 067-673022,born of vat RY-400-38.  Let all here witness this Naming. From this day forward I decide you will be known as...."
This was it, the moment 067-673022 had been waiting for.  A True Name and final acceptance into the Maniax.  The pain would be worth it, to run with the gang and be known by a True Name, not a serial number.  He would no longer be one of the massed worker-drones of House Goliath, but instead would live to further the aims of the House as it staked its claim on Helsreach Dome. Who knows, one day, he could even have a gang of his own, just like Vasko....but first, he needed a name.
The name echoed around the chem-vat as Vasko shouted it out.  A second later the other Maniax chanted the name, over and over, the name bouncing off of the walls of the gang's hideaway.
Runt! 067-673022 - no, not that number anymore, but Runt - finally fell to his knees, a Maniax ganger at last. A Name! A Name of his own, one to cherish as he rose to glory for the House Goliath.  Runt let his bruised and exhausted body surrender to darkness, the chanting of his name fading into silence
"Runt! Runt! Runt! Runt..."