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Tales of a Rat

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The whooshing rush of air sweeps past once more, the sound mixed with the peppered thudding of arrowheads into wooden shields; tings off
armour and the squealing cries when they breach past both to bite deep into soft skaven flesh. Some biting their tails to remain
resolute against the pain whilst, most of the others shriek and flee back to the safety of the nearby gnawhole. Black blood dripping in
their wake as they scrabble over rock, mud and skaven alive and dead. 

And that was just where Skitter Coldeye's pavise bearer had fled, squealing cries and fowl curses whilst black blood oozed and
spluttered from his arm and the musk of fear rose from his glands. The oversized and heavy shield all but forgotten and left to fall to
the ground, though he clutches his dagger to his chest like a mother might to her babe. Whatever else a blade in the paw was never to be
lost unless it was into whatever got in a skaven's way. 

Yet this didn't matter to Skitter, he'd lost count of the number of cowering skaven who'd either fled, died or both whilst holding his
shield. Lesser Jezzails would have joined in the flight, squirting the musk of fear and fleeing only to save their pride later by
blaming the loss of their pavise bearer and the support of the shield in aiming their long guns. Skitter didn't have a long gun for just
that reason. His paws were gripped tight to a slightly shorter rifle. An older weapon from a much older time that he'd had the fortune
to stumble across in the depths of Skavenblight. The weapon was lighter, shorter and the barrel smoother than any other formed by the
engineers of Skyre today. Yet he didn't need the length to keep his bullets flying true through the air, through some curling, twisted
mix of metal and warpstone the barrel of his rifle always shot true. Of course it also required something else that few, and in Skitters
experience no, other skaven had. Calmness. 

Few skaven could ever claim to have a calm moment, their eyes flitting here and there; the tails swishing, whiskers and ears twitching.
Death was around every corner from skaven and foe alike. Every sound was a potential dagger in the back, every shadow ready to swallow
you whole and every other skaven competition. 
Skitter was calm. He didn't need the mind and body twisting warpsnuff that the Grey Seers used; nor was his calm that of the humble
brute, the mindless instinct of the rat ogre and other monsters from Clans Moulder. No his mind was a sharp as any other skaven,
sharpest to hear him chitter about it. What he had was the ability to stand as still as a fresh killed corpse. Not a whisker moving as
he stares down the sight on his rifle; beady eyes shining bright as he picks out his target. The slightest motions of his arms as he
swings the barrel. The wind on his whiskers telling him the direction and strength to compensate for the sway of the bullet in the air
between when it leaves the muzzle and when it will strike deep into the soft flesh of his foe. Then comes a slow exhale of breath
followed the only true sudden motion he will allow himself in this moment, the twitch of a claw on the trigger. A simple muscle that
pulls and curls the claw which sets the hammer falling, igniting the powdered concoction within that will let rip with a powerful
blast of energy. A deep green smoke billowing from the muzzle before a roar of flame, a split second of bright red and green as the
warpstone bullet flies forth; spinning and hurtling at blinding speed toward his intended target. 

The Stormcast never saw it coming, never heard the loud boom from all his distance and the crazed cries of war around him. His only
warning was the shrill turning to gurgling cry and shudder below him as his Tauralon mount has its throat torn away in a bloody spray by
the bullet. Beast and rider tumble madly through the air, their bodies twisting and turning as the Tauralon fits in its death-throws. A
sickening thud of bone, meat and metal sounds out only to be drowned in screams of celebration as vermin spill forth and smother the
fallen pair, only for the most ravenous to be burned alive as Sigmar cheats death again for one of his own and sends his lightning to
save the life of his Stormcast, though not that of the mount now left to be gnawed upon. 

All this had no meaning to Skitter, for as soon as his bullet flew forth he was turning too. It never did well to remain in one place
for too long when you're marking the enemies greatest to fall. Many would seek revenge for such a kill and the gnawhole and safety of
the dark underhive called out to him now. As he turned tial and fled the ground before him lit up whilst thunder and mud rolled over his
back as magical hammers pounded the ground around where he had stood. The few stormcast remaining seeking to avenge their fallen leader
already, but it was a futile effort. Skitter leaped and wove a crazed pattern over the ground as he ran, leaping over the corpses of
fallen skaven, ducking under the splintered remains of the arm of a shattered Screaming Bell platform. The sizzling splitting green
clanger tempting him for a second to grab, the warpstone would make many bullets for him. Light from another hammer blasts his vision
before mud rains over him. Ducking from the barrage and holding up a claw he abandons the idea and renews his flight for the Gnawhole,
he could always return later once the battle was well over and cross his paws another hadn't taken the clanger. 

It was ahead of him now, that swirling twisting tear in the fabric of reality. The rocks around tinged with a riot of green patterns as
the pool twirled and spin. A hurtling shining hammer slams into the rocks to one side of the hole, skaven scrabbling over it smashed
into a bloody pulp. The Gnawhole seems to fade in intensity for just a faction of a second before flaring into life; ripples of warp
lighting playing on its surface from the struck side. It wasn't going to last, the runes carved into the rocks to prolong the life of
the gnawhole were weakening under the assault from heaven blessed weapons. Skitter put on a fresh burst of speed, all pretence of
dodging lost now as the open ground had turned into a tide of ratmen. Black, brown, even a flash of grey in the seething tide as they
all scream and chitter. Pushing at each other, trying to push those ahead faster in equal measure to pull them down under each other as
one sought to get ahead. The crazed mass is soon carrying Skitter along with it, his paws clutching his rifle tightly to his chest and
his black heart hammering in his ears before finally he's climbing the rocks and leaping into the green darkness.

A flash of warplighting shoots past him and as he feels his body enter the twisting turmoil of the tunnels he feels the press of other
skaven ease around him. Space had no meaning within the tunnel and some mad Seers even thought time itself held one only at the entrance
and exit. Then again he'd seen orks and humans leap into the rends in space, seen their bodies rot and wither and their flesh slough
from their decaying skin. Perhaps time had no meaning, but only to a skaven did time stop still within the gnawhole. 

Landing in a run suddenly he's back within the mass of skaven fleeing the front lines. A nearby clawlord is screaming and chittering at
them to turn, at what cowards they were and how he'd eat their tails and ears. It didn't matter, the air was rank with the scent of the
musk of fear from the retreating Skaven and it was only a rank of Stormvermin that was able to funnel the retreating skaven away from
the rest of the army and back toward the supply carts. The crazed flight would burn itself out soon enough once the comfort of being
within a vast swarm of so many Skaven settles the panic stricken minds of his fellows. The Clawlord knew this too, just as he also knew
that if this crazed fear laced mass were to reach the main core of the army it could shatter his army more readily than a whole
Stormcast Host. 

Skitter kept running, red eyes darting here and there until he turns and ducks behind a few wagons, working his way in to the packing
cases and boxes until he can work himself into a protective corner. Thick wooden crates behind his back and to his side and one way to
approach between two carts in front of him. His bears his teeth and gnashes at the air in an angry and defiant chitter as another skaven
tries to follow and steal his hiding spot. The other rears up and growls back at him, Forcing Skitter to release one claw from his rifle
and grasp at the blade at his belt. It only half comes out before the other thinks better and turns back to the seething mass. Skitter
let out a short sigh and pushes the blade back before setting the butt of his rifle down and plucking a pouch from his bandolier. Green
powder, dark wadding then a long thin strip of glowing warpstone, then more dark padding is thrust down the barrel. Lifting it he flicks
a claw at the swirling green bulb to the side of the gun. As the warpstone powder settles within he can see its just under half, no need
yet to refill it, the pan for his rifle would remain full for a good many shots yet. As long as the polished and bright stub of
warpstone was held tight in the jaws of the hammer he'd get a reliable sparking crack to ignite the charge powder every time. 
Next came a quick count of the pouches hanging from him, seven were still full whilst the others hung empty. Cursing under his breath at
the bad fortune to befall this army that the pathetic Freepeoples of this town had managed to get word out to call upon Stormcast
Allies. They had cost him too many of his precious bullets and whilst he'd felled many, every Skaven knew that Stormcast never truly
died. They'd return just as angry and powerful and, inspiring to their fellows. 

Skitter spat on the ground before soothing himself for a few moments, his rifle hugged to his shoulder as he cleaned his whiskers with
both paws for a few moments. With the western flank he'd been on collapsed now all the hope for this battle rested on the middle core of
the army. A thick mass of clanrats backed up with a regiment of stormvermin. He'd have to position himself well to ensure that he could
keep an eye on the condition of the army and so that he could make a run for the master Gnawholes at the centre of the camp. No sense
running there now, not with the Stormvermin not yet committed to the battle and standing guard around it to prevent every other clanrat
having the same idea 

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