Example of Editing a Warhammer Fan Fic

I’ve a strong attraction to the nature of Game Workshop’s Warhammer 40K universe. They publish hundreds of stories and have the opportunity to make near infinitely more in the universe they’ve created. Heck, even the genre-term “grimdark” spawns from their work.

As I learn to write, here’s an example of editing a bit of fan fiction I wrote for WH 40K two years ago, Unblinking Skitarii. The first 1000 words or so should do it.

Here’s the draft finished July 4th, 2017:

Thumpthumpthumpthump
Thumpthumpthumpthump

Boots pounded deck plate as the Skitarii ran through the halls. The din from outside increased the closer they got to a rip in the alien ship’s hull. Sliding under the tear’s rip, they blurted to each other a timestamp to go on the offensive.

As the milliseconds met the mark, she stepped up to the ledge. As the carbine she’d commandeered rose with her sight, it was unleashing killing rounds before a proper target lock was acquired.

Aim was not a problem for the enemy outside. By sheer luminosity, the volley of return fire nearly blinded the Ranger’s ‘spex. She ducked as florescent green rounds tore chunks out of the opposite wall, sizzling through the air where she’d just been. Where the other Skitarii was still shooting.

Her companion’s helmet exploded to the sound of a tinny smashing of a wet egg. Slack, their rifle clamored to the floor, the body falling heavily.

They had this position zeroed in. She had to keep moving. She checked the communication queue – nothing incoming, and all of her outgoing requests were still pending. Still on her own – no change over the last hour.

Missiles still striking above her, the Ranger picked through the robes of the freshly steaming corpse. Ammo clips: just what was hoped for. Pocketing these, she took off in a crouch.

Thumpthumpthumpthump

Rounding the corner, her processes spiked for a fraction of a second. There, at the end of the corridor, a long, stark skeleton turned slowly to look with dead eye holes at the survivor.

[… 262wc]

I was including sound effects! And what’s a “‘spex”? Clearly, this very early draft was only going line-by-line from a sparse outline. Maybe putting the work through the Hemingway App, Word Count Tools, Word Counter, my own observations, and a writing group unfamiliar with Warhammer can help:

Boots pounded deck plate as a pair of Skitarii ran through the halls. The din from outside increased the closer they got to a rip in the alien ship’s hull. Sliding under the tear’s lip, these cyborgs blurted binary cant to each other: they would take the offensive.

As the milliseconds met their mark, IB-13 stepped up to the ledge. The carbine she’d commandeered rose with her sight. In a moment, it unleashed killing rounds before a target had locked. There would be casualties regardless.

As it was for her, the aim for the enemy was not a concern. By sheer volume, the barrage of return fire nearly blinded the Ranger’s visual receptors. She ducked faster than her original organics could have ever hoped to. Fluorescent green rounds tore chunks out of the opposite wall, sizzling through the air where she’d been. Her comrade IT-X0 was still shooting, taking an extra sixteenth of a second more than their firing solution had provided for.

Her companion’s helmet exploded with a sound of a wet egg. Slack, rifle fallen to the floor, the body fell with a heavy whoosh of cloak and armor.

While missiles struck above her, the Ranger picked through the robes of the fresh corpse. Her calculations for survival increased when ammo clips appeared. Pocketing these, she took off in a crouch.

She wove her way around thieving blue-skinned bodies. Data was the most holy text of the Adeptus Mechanicus technopriests of Mars, cybery the most sacred of tomes for the cyborg Skitarii warriors. These aliens had taken both and paid for it with thousands of lives. They, these “T’au”, had received divine judgement, but now IB-13 had to find a vantage in the crashed tomb. Possibly even a way out.

These silver monstrosities had this position surrounded. IB-13 had reconnoitered the enemy advance with surviving members of the squad. Like ants, they had spilled into the halls, through the deck plating, and translocated in glittery sheens amid the Skitarii’s formations. The Skitarii, living weapons of the Martian Empire, had dissolved into oil-slick smears.

IB-13 took a chance to check her internal network systems. The communication queue held no new messages. All of her outgoing requests were yet pending. No data, no direction, no oversight. On her own for over the last hour. Not even IT-X0 to share processing capacity. Not since the automatons appeared.

She needed to keep moving. Anything with the means of slaughtering her kin would have devices to track a lone warrior in the bowels of a dead ship. Unless the interference was indiscriminate…

The first indication of trouble had been when their dropship lost all communication with the flotilla in orbit. The airwave interference of the vox spread, knocking out dropship-to-dropship traffic. As the strike team made their way inside the downed alien craft, communications with their lander was lost to them as well. Infrared laser messaging, subvocal vibrations, and gestures were all they had left.

Despite a lack of transmission mediums, the cyborgs’ tactical progress couldn’t be hampered over such a meager concern. Regardless of the massive damage to the vessel’s infrastructure, the T’au’s layout remained navigable. It proved too easy when the first booby traps –

Static hissed over IB-13’s network band. It immediately settled into an encrypted invitation for silicon communion. Her rush to respond fouled the first attempt at cracking the lock – something this imprecise would have had the commanding Centurion temporarily deactivate her. A partial lobotomy wouldn’t be out of the question. No matter – her Centurion had evaporated under the snaking tendril of some eldritch energy weapon.

The second attempt bridged the connection. IB-13 felt a flood of information pour through her circuit-fused organics. Cool authority she’d taken for granted from decades of indoctrination calmed nerves in welcome sensation. Out of it all came the glorious figure of an ordained technopriest of Mars, emissary of the Omnissiah’s unknowable will. Though only a mental simulation of a being some unknown distance away, IB-13 had never been more ready and earnest for this connection of the factual, of the Omnissiah’s word in the galaxy.

IB-13, report.

The Skitarii began to dump banks of memory into the thought stream. With only a fractional amount beginning to exload, it was still too much for the tentative link. When the digital form of the technopriest cut out for a moment, the cyborg almost felt the first emotion in half a century: despair.

The Skitarii darted into a crushed hollow that was once a laboratory. Holding position, she focuses all resources to getting the signal back. Hydraulic limbs froze, the respirator switched to blood-oxygen reserves, and pumps cranked to a halt. To any on the outside she would have appeared as a statue of cogs and armor, all shadowed by her tattered crimson cape.

Near-death comatosis was far outweighed by the elation of the return of the network and the priest.

IB-13, have you secured the Standard Template Construct?

The STC had been their target. It and other hyper-computers of its type held the secrets of Humankind’s past. Technologies resided within that could allow crops to grow a hundred times their yield, build vaccines to cure ageless plagues, or unleash terrible weapons of havoc not witnessed for ten thousand years. And it was the Adeptus Mechanicus’s to peerlessly own.

A fleet of warships had stalked the STC and its cowardly burglars across systems. Worlds burned where the T’au’s allies had lain. Finally, the escaping vessel was brought down in this unperturbed planet’s gravity well. She and a hundred other augmented shocktroopers had infiltrated the vessel while another thousand scoured the wastelands outside. All the effort only to have the artifact destroyed by the powers of their current foes of unholy, silver contraption.

[… 956wc]

A bit better here. Can you spot other differences?

Warhammer books share a few things in common: They have lots of fights, the characters never dwell on the fights they’ve had or those that have died, and the prose is as purple as possible (while keeping the language fairly simple).

Let’s see how purple we can get this sample. Buckle-up, this is a long one:

Boots pounded the deck plates as a pair of Skitarii super-soldiers ran through the halls. With the aid of their cybernetic limbs, they rushed through empty corridors of alien design, the charred dust of the former alien owners billowing in their wake. The din from outside increased the closer they got to a rip that stretched for over eighty meters in the ship’s hull. Sliding under the tear’s lip, IB-13 and IT-XH blurted a set of binary queries and replies to each other. With a thousand transactions a second, they needed to agree in the affirmative or negative of the decision before them.

Their delay only came because IB-13, a Ranger meant for more long-range engagements, while IT-XH remained optimized for the more moderate reprisals of the Skitarii Vanguard. It didn’t help that the Vanguard’s natural radiation filled IB-13’s receivers with excess static. After a debate transmitted in seconds that might fill a novel, the numbers aligned: The offensive would be brought to their enemy outside.

IT-XH synced a timer between them. As the milliseconds met their mark, IB-13 stepped up to the ledge in mirror to her last companion. The carbine she’d commandeered from a battle-inoperable Skitarii rose with her augmented sight. In a moment she unleashed killing rounds before a target had been locked. To bend the rules of her ingrained engagement protocols in a normal fight would have required the override of a Skitarii Centurion, leader of an entire cohort of cyborgs. As there was only IB-13 and IT-XH, their own kill-analyses would have to suffice. Regardless, with a ninety-eight-point-seven-nine percent accuracy calculation, their foe would suffer.

As for her aim was of little concern, so too was it for the enemy. Arcs of energy blistered and boiled the ship’s torn hull around IB-13. By sheer volume, the barrage of return fire nearly blinded the Ranger’s visual receptors. She ducked faster than her original organics could have ever hoped to as the shots crept towards her. Fluorescent green rounds tore chunks out of the opposite wall, sizzling through the air where she’d been.

Her comrade IT-XH was still shooting, taking an extra sixteenth of a second more than their firing solution had provided for.

IT-XH’s helmet exploded with a sound of a wet egg. The explosion flung cranial fluid and shards of steel scattering around the hall. Something wet and gooey splattered on IB-13’s cloak. To her the projectile posed no threat of damage to her systems.

Slack, IT-XH’s rifle fell to the floor with a clatter covered by the sound of eldritch energies scything overhead. The body fell with a heavy whoosh of cloak and armor. If IB-13 had the ability to smell in the traditional human way, a sense lost sometime during her innumerable operations to become a Skitarii, the stench of burnt rubbers and tang of carbonized metal would have been logged as a telltale of their enemy’s presence.

While missiles struck above and around her, the Ranger picked through the smoldering robes of the fresh corpse. That she and IT-XH had logged thousands of hours in operation together, that now the Vanguard was so much a pile of meat and wires gave her no pause. Their mission was still not complete. It was the Will of the Omnissiah, the dual-faceted god of the Skitarii as it was with all branches of the Adeptus Mechanicus, that a report be made of their findings inside the crashed vessel. The battle data alone dictated that she must survive at all costs. She discovered ammo magazines in a titanium corded pocket. Her calculations for expected lifespan ticked-up another notch. Adding these to a digital inventory, she took off in a crouch.

Another hall held more than the last one. The Ranger wove her way around blue-skinned bodies splayed haphazardly around doors and consoles. Some clawed at locked doors. Others held their throats. It didn’t take IB-13’s post-human abilities of deduction to conclude that these “T’au” had suffocated. They likely died long before the vessel’s crash, though she couldn’t be precise. The Adeptus Mechanicus fleet had been in pursuit for an unacceptably long time.

Data was the most holy property of the Adeptus Mechanicus technopriests of Mars, cybery the most sacred of study for the cyborg Skitarii warriors. These aliens, these thieves, had taken both and paid for it with thousands of their lives. The T’au had received divine judgement, but now IB-13 had to find a vantage. Possibly even a way out.

It seemed a maze. The T’au warship was a behemoth run through by the guns of the Adeptus Mechanicus in their weeks-long pursuit. Corridors collapsed into others, doors remain locked while other holes cleared entire decks. The wreckage acted as a tomb now for human cyborgs and T’au crew alike. And it was only the fault of the blue-skins daring to pull off a swindle of such proportions.

Now the silver monstrosities outside had this position surrounded and infiltrated. IB-13 had reconnoitered the enemy advance with surviving members of the Skitarii retrieval squads. Like ants, the foe had spilled into the halls, through the deck plating, and translocated in glittery sheen amid the Skitarii’s formations. The Skitarii, living weapons of the Martian Empire, fighting with whirling blades of supersonic titanium and coursing lightning guns, had dissolved into oil-slick smears.

IB-13 took a chance to check her internal network systems. The communication queue held no new messages. All of her outgoing requests were yet pending responses. No data, no direction, no oversight. On her own for over the last hour. Not even IT-XH functioned to share processing capacity. Not since the automatons appeared.

A hatch led down and the Ranger took it. She needed to keep moving. Anything with the means of slaughtering her kin like so many herdstock would have devices to track a lone warrior in the bowels of a dead ship. Maybe the interference preventing her signals didn’t discriminate the ambushers too. IB-13 had to optimize for that possibility. It was the only one that predicted her being alive after more than a few minutes.

The first indication of trouble had been when their dropship lost all transmissions with the flotilla in orbit. The airwave interference of the vox spread, knocking out dropship-to-dropship traffic. As the strike team made their way inside the downed alien craft, communications with their lander was lost to them as well. Infrared laser messaging, subvocal vibrations, and gestures were all they had left while they sought out the T’au’s holds.

Despite a lack of transmission mediums, the cyborgs’ tactical progress couldn’t be hampered over such a meager concern. Regardless of the massive damage to the vessel’s infrastructure, the Skitarii scouted through the mess. By a navigable route the database of Adeptus Mechanicus was uncovered. It proved too easy.

Foul booby traps secreted from the Skitarii’s scanners triggered at the first contact with the database. Explosions ripped through both skinny Infiltrators and armored Vanguards. The Ranger groups fared little better. IB-13 held the rearguard, thus survived to witness the carnage that came immediately after the destruction of the data. At least the information was no longer in filthy xenos hands. Better forgotten than perverted outside the Omnissiah’s intentions.

IB-13 nearly tripped as static hissed over the Skitarii network band. It immediately settled into an encrypted invitation for silicon communion. Transferring all secondary processing to the receiver, her rush to respond fouled the first attempt at cracking the lock – something this imprecise would have had the commanding Centurion temporarily deactivate her. A partial lobotomy wouldn’t be out of the question, though at least that would bestow additional circuitry to the Ranger. No matter – her Centurion had evaporated under the snaking tendril of some unclassified alien energy weapon.

Her second attempt bridged the connection. IB-13 felt a flood of information pour through her wire-fused organics. Authority she’d taken for granted from decades of indoctrination calmed nerves in welcome, cooling sensation. Out of it all came the glorious figure of an ordained technopriest of Mars, emissary of the Omnissiah’s unknowable will. They were garbed in flowing robes of red and white, outlined in ever-churning data exloads. On their head was a cap, tall and high which obscured from view sensors and devices the Ranger could only speculate at. In the pitch dark of the hood whirled the spectacles that poured what they saw into the algorithms crafted by the Omnissiah itself. Though only a mental simulation of a being some unknown distance away, IB-13 had never been more ready and earnest for this connection of the factual, of the Omnissiah’s word-made-digital in the galaxy.

IB-13, report.

The Skitarii began to dump banks of memory into the thought stream. With only a fractional amount beginning to exload, it was still too much for the tentative link. When the digital form of the technopriest cut out for a moment, the cyborg almost felt the first emotion in half a century: despair.

The Skitarii darted into a crushed hollow that was once a laboratory. Inside lay cracked workbenches, punctured pressure tanks, and other detris. It didn’t matter. Only the connection mattered.

Holding position, she focuses all resources to getting the signal back. Hydraulic limbs froze, the respirator switched to blood-oxygen reserves, and pumps cranked to a halt. To any on the outside she would have appeared as a statue of cogs and armor, all shadowed by her tattered crimson cape.

Near-death comatosis was far outweighed by the elation of the return of the network and the priest. This time, the mental image downgraded from its previous glory to a pixelated silhouette of muted hues and indistinct shapes. It shimmered as it sent meaning to her.

IB-13, have you secured the Standard Template Construct?

The STC had been their target. It and other hyper-computers of its type held the secrets of Humankind’s past. Their manufacture came in a time of darkness when Humanity sent its envoys into the void of the galaxy without knowledge of the Omnissiah. A dark age. The Omnissiah nevertheless bestowed sacred knowledge even to those that were ignorant of what they held. Technologies resided within STC’s that could allow crops to grow a hundred times their yield, build vaccines to cure ageless plagues, erect cities kilometers high on worlds made ripe by STC terraforming, or the knowledge could unleash terrible weapons of havoc not witnessed for ten thousand years. And it was the Adeptus Mechanicus’s duty and privilege to peerlessly own.

IB-13 didn’t need to know how to operate an STC. Doing so would be a terrible heresy. Only the priesthood, and even then a small selection of the ordained, could enact the proper rights of access. IB-13 only needed to claim items like the STCs for the glory of Mars.

That was why this theft was of such a terrible nature. A fleet of warships had stalked the STC and its cowardly burglars across systems. Worlds burned where the T’au’s allies had lain. Finally, the escaping vessel was brought down in this unperturbed planet’s gravity well. IB-13 and a hundred other augmented shocktroopers had infiltrated the craft imprisoning the STC while another thousand scoured the wastelands outside. All the effort only to have the artifact destroyed…

[… 1865wc]

Wow. Double word count just by describing more things. However, this isn’t just filler for filler’s sake. I go into more detail about how the main character IB-13 feels (or doesn’t) and why. What fighting is already there I add more too. As it comes to the Black Library (publishers of Warhammer novels and operated by Games Workshop), adjectives, metaphors, and even similes aren’t to be feared.

An outline to first draft leaves much to be desired, though it’s some flesh on the outline’s bones. The next work is to fill in the body of the piece with characters and settings and maybe something of a plot. Clean it up through your own edits, online tools, and peer groups. Lastly, if writing for Games Workshop and the Black Library, purple that’d get Barney blushing must be added.

What’s missing? Without special expectation for Warhammer or fan fiction, how do you edit? Anywho, let me know if you’d like to see more on this Unblinking Skitarii story.

Quarterly Goals – June 2019

I’m cutting down this quarter to a number of goals I’ve found works great: four. Thank you for your patience with me getting this list out – the last two weeks have required a drastic reevaluation. Let’s get started.

My Goals Due June 2019

19JQ
Phone Lock Screen Reminder
  1. JimmyChattin.com
    1. The primary goal was going to be to finish Shallow Seas, but I think a website to show off Shallow Seas is of a lot more interest. By June, I need the domain name “JimmyChattin”, an “About” page, contact and hiring information, and a backlog of posts for the site. We’re going to keep this simple, maybe adding tags for posts as necessary.

    2. Surprise! WordPress makes setting up a website amazingly easy. With a coupon code, I now have JimmyChattin.com for the next two years! Huzzah! Now there’ll need to be a few more posts than just this one…

  2. Finish Draft 1 Shallow Seas
    1. My first among equals. The goal last time was to draft Shallow Seas; that didn’t happen, but I’m close. This time, we’re going to cover the final thirty-to-forty-thousand words.

  3. Lists
    1. “Blessed are the list makers.” I hope to systematize my life. First, we’re going to need to make and stick with a “No, But” list – whenever something would distract from goals or pure pleasure, pause. Give the list a review. Then either give it a “hell yes” or an unashamed “no”. Maybe include writing my own obituary too. There’s no time to dally.

  4. Edits
    1. Update the stories They’re Aboard and Unblinking Skitarii (working titles), two fan fictions written around 2018 for the Warhammer 40K universe. There are a few edits I’ve left behind for myself, so finally ‘completing’ these stories would be grand.

These goals, though fewer, are bigger than previous endeavors. Regardless, I’ll push hard. However, all are subject to replacement in the next three months. I’m keeping eyes peeled for Games Workshops‘ Black Library open submissions for 2019. If / When that hits, a few alternates will have to be taken up instead of the above:

  • Send one fully realized submission to Black Library. That’s brainstorm, logline, outline, pick, draft, revise (continuously), and finally submit a Warhammer story. Ideas so far:
    • Follow a soldier’s horrific journey through a spaceship boarded by aliens he once called home.
    • A simple heist of the jewels in an alien crypt at the heart of a continent goes wrong.
    • The lost crew of a ship crash on an ancient space station hidden in a sun’s corona.
    • When excavating advanced technology awakens an ancient menace, cyborg IB-13 must make her escape to warn the fleet of its impending doom.
    • Life is made easy for a child after they discover a new toy until the mechanical trinket decides to act on its own dark wishes.
  • Play Warhammer games (for research, of course). Total War Warhammer and Vermintide 2 and a boatload of audiobooks (hello, Humble Bundle!) should do the trick.

This’ll be a tough three months. With GDC happening in March, leading a new fitness group, and training / coaching for Las Vegas’s Corporate Challenge competitions, distractions will be rife. Rising in my role at my job is also a concern as I seek both more responsibility and less time in office. Wish me luck and give me understanding as things get shifted around to realize these goals and position myself for a life of leisure in the future.

If you’re interested, these were useful links for determining goals for JQ:

Previous posts on goals and games can be found at Make-Better-Games.blogspot.com.

Original Photo; Source Unknown

 

Divine; 2buiArt

Greetings!

And welcome to the website of Jimmy Chattin, senior software engineer, science fiction writer, orator, and just about a little of everything else.

Interested in a C# programmer who’s worked for the likes of Microsoft and Aristocrat (#1 video slot maker)? Checkout LinkedIn.

Want to read some original stories and fan fiction (for practice, of course!)? Those posts are coming to this website.

Need something written or a voice that’s been described as “butter”? Reach out on the Contact page or my podcasts (start with #1).

Old posts can also be found at Make Better Games, where there’s mainly talk about goals and a few games.

Explore.  Take a look around.  We’ll talk in a bit.