Haum looked back at the darkening sky over the doomed town and gritted his teeth in frustration watching the dozens of gunships and fat bellied troop ferries descend in a huge tide from the roiling sky above the burning town.
He had been in major battles before, fighting from the front and committing necessary massacres to keep the conquered enemy compliant and please the gods with sacrifices, he had seen and done things that would turn the stomach of lesser men, yet this was one of the most awesome sights, mass invasion by the Imperials was something his own Host could not pull off which such precision and ferocity.
The rest of his ragtag group of survivours watched the scene in awe and confusion. Two of their number was missing, casualties of the breakout when they deigned to fight their way out of the doomed township.
They ambushed a platoon of local resistance fighters near the south barracks and managed to link up with a motorized company of Interdictors riding six-wheeled light tanks and a few battered old hauler trucks on their way out of the south gatehouse which was still under Interdictors control.
Haum found the Interdictor’s a strange and thoroughly alien arm of the Prophet’s war-machine; supposedly they were as vital as the soldiery, they were the body that ensured the host-command's conquests were utilised, protected and requisitioned to help the enormous war-effort to bring the Imperial systems to heel. In essence the Interdictors were the suppression, conversion and propaganda enforcement troops assigned to oversee the citizenry and police them and ensure that they were compliant to their sacred cause. A way to pause the widespread pogroms that were the norm of the early years of the crusade, the Prophet deigned that the population need not be wasted but used as a source of labour, spare organs and limbs or even meals for some of the maneater warriors like the Amuligar.
The interdictor leader, titled as an Akan, or company head, had told him that host command the enemy had been waiting beyond the third planet with a full fleet muster and had coordinated a enormous offensive in concert with the dozen PDF regiments that remained and scores of resistance groups across thirty-seven prefectures that had sprung up in the aftermath of the invasion.
The Akan had explained with a measure of uneasiness that all host forces were ordered retreat from the entire north-eastern frontier and to report to third reserve lines seventy miles to the west.
Then the enemy had attacked in terrifying force, compact buggy like vehicles with las and auto cannons sliced into them, Haum and his throng barely made it away from the exploding Interdictors vehicles and they fled past the barracks and into the outskirts of the town. From there they had run into the open fields that surrounded the township.
Haum saw the soldiery from other units flee into the surrounding woodlands and thicket covered hills, most were being harassed by flights of gunships.
They were lucky as they fled over toward the west highway, the gunships were more interested with the fleeing armour units
Between the Sedukhar squad and the highway lay a series of flood mounds, stop banks created to collect and irrigate water into the surrounding farms which were now just abandoned graveyards to the thousands of dead from the occupation.
"Heads down and follow, dont get sluggish, you runts, keep up," Haum ordered as he walked past the youngster Kolan.
"We are hunting, subedar?" Kolan asked eagerly, but to no avail as Haum simply walked past without replying.
Kolan snorted and looked at the scene around him anxiously as his comrades began to huddle and chant prayers of protection clutching their totems and beads. He found the whole ordeal slightly unnerving and utterly alien to all his experiences, just like his hunters, he nodded to those looking at him for guidance with agreement and fingered his own totem of witch bone around his neck.
In a foreign land, with sworn brothers and sisters fighting now what seemed like a losing battle, yet led by a veteran subedar who saved them and still kept his wits about him in all the confusion.
Kolan looked down at his boots and grimaced at the sticky mud coating it, the high raised banks were mostly dry, but the recent rains had made the mud on the troughs between slippery and slick with mud.
The young hunter watched his hunters all struggled and slipped in the mud; they did not stick to advance patterns the subedar had explained to them and were acting up , showing to be a poorly trained force, or atleast that is what the subedar kept telling him.
Kolan had watched helplessely as Haum admonished fully half of the troopers in the past half-hour for not keeping line discipline and making too much sound advancing in compromised territory.
He heard the subedar grunt in anger at something about the plummeting quality of the warriors as more and more replacement’s were being asked of the Sedukh.
Never had Kolan ever expected to such sentiment from a subedar, he was disillusioned and at times dissapointed at what he saw, the more he experienced the way the subedar led, the more he doubted the subedar's ability, there was no bond, there was no connection, only commands. yet that was not the worst of it, his words, the cruel swearing and oaths thrown at his lot being an untrained force, of being ametuers and a burden! Such audacity! Only he had the authority for such things, he was a Chieftan's Son! Not some dustbowl rat to be kicked around as he watched his kin be sworn at and kicked about!
Kolan sighed at the misfortunes of the past day that seemed to be testing his resolve, he was getting angry, he wanted Haum acknowledge him as the leader of the hunters, as a peer, or he would have to kill him, he was sure of it.
Close to the last bank, Haum called for a halt and the ragtag force of Sedukhar crouched amidst the tall grass that grew from the wet mud at the foot of the unkempt embankment trying to stay low as gunships made random passes overhead.
Haum climbed up to the edge of the embankment and looked out the road fifty meters away, he smiled as a plan came to him.
Kolan walked toward Haum who was looking west toward the highway and peered that way.
“Subedar...we are alone, I wish to speak like an equal, serkar. This...”
“We need vehicles to get out of here,” Haum cut in as he lifted his salvaged magnoculors to his reptilian eyes, over to the west highway where he spied a group of armour units fleeing in full speed, and to their sides lay a row of abandoned vehicles, pock marked with gunfire and rocket impacts.
“There,” Haum said pointing at the distant forms of a pair of abandoned half track carriers.
Kolan felt annoyed at the slight his one hand fiddled with the totem as the other crawled toward his blade.
“What?” he blurted out unceromoniously.
“Our rides, abandoned armoured carriers,” he explained smoothly as he removed the magnoculors from his eyes and looked back at the rabble he led, “Can any of you fools drive a vehicle?”
The huddled and crouched soldiers all looked at each other and Kolan.
Haum grimaced in annoyance, “I asked you a damned question! Have any of you driven hunt vehicles or airships?”
Three of them raised their hands, the first one stood, “I am Euran Ilko, serkar, oathed to the clan...”
Haum raised his hand, “Names will be fine for now, rat, formal introductions after we kill our way out of here and I am drilling you lot out of your stupidity.”
The group began to growl and threaten at the heaping disrespect, Euran simply nodded and stood rigidly to attention, the subedar indicated the other two up, one was a young woman with a purple and red eyes which switched every time she blinked, there was a strange beauty there behind the dirt and grit on her sweet face.
“G’jan Salur, serkar,” she said smartly and raised her rifle in salute.
Haum nodded, “Switch your damned safety, you are in a combat zone fool.”
The girl simply followed the order and looked unfazed. Haum noted the calm demenour and filed it away in his mind.
The last one was a burly, muscled youth with thick and heavy shoulders and a tall stature, his face was a mess of fang like tattoos of the Amaru clans, “Heku Amaru, serkar,” he growled as he slapped his meaty palm to his tiny bone-fang covered rifle.
“A Amaru walks among us, are you as worthless as your misbegotten clan or are you willing to show me the might you bear in the field?”
"Gladly you horde scum!" Heku growled as he lunged at the subedar his right fist aimed at Haum's face.
Haum expertly dodged the blow and grabbed the youth's wrist and gave a swift blow to his armpit below the armour followed by a grappling throw that landed the youth face down in the mud.
Haum gave a strange smile, "Good, atleast one of you is worth my time," he explained as he kicked the recovering Heku in the rib once more. "Get up and back in line, anyone else?"
The rest of the group Kolan included just stared dumbstruck at the subedar for a moment, Haum nodded to himself satisfied and beckoned the two standing hunters toward him and they helped pick the fallen youth up to his feet, Haum picked out four more that he had noted to have potential.
They were , Tejh Orik, Jeth Orik the twins, Mej Arin a sharpshooter with a repurposed and scoped autorifle and Soca Rau a silent brooding trooper who kept a long hunting knife and a silenced pistol at his waist.
“You rats will be my strike team, I will lead you,” the seven chosen looked at each other and seemed fairly pleased with the selection, "You deviate, you die. Or I will kill you, bastard of Kobutha."
Kolan howled in anger at the insult and charged at Haum, anticipating this Haum turned to face him and easily deflected the first blow toward his face with his forearm, he anticipated the second fist and caught it with a slap on his palm before it landed on target, he squeezed the fist in place and within the same second rammed his other arm's elbow into Kolan's chestplate cracking it, while winding and throwing Kolan to the ground.
The new bloods watched the scene in shock, utterly captivated by the savagery of the subedar, the admiration for strength and ability was bred into all who were born of Sedukh and a culture of martial dominance and violence was the way of their home.
“You do not hold any sway here, little man, your father is a coward and you are his bastard,” Haum explained as he approached the sprawled and gasping hunter and knelt beside him, a knife flashed in his hand, "disobey me and raise your hand again I will gut you and eat your heart you pampered little shit. I am already having a bad day, your death will only make it sweeter, understood?"
Kolan lay there smouldering in anger and pain, but he had to assent, he gave a disheartened "Yes, serkar!"
"Good, now get up and watch carefully, no deviations, no running away. This is it you shameless rotten rats."
The subedar began drawing the plan of approach on the dirt he stood on with his blade as Kolan struggled getting up, he grolwed at those who came to help him, he now saw what the subedar was doing. He was creating a split in his hunters, already a portion was behind Haum, his chosen and the a number of others were impressed by the strength of the subedar. Kolan at that moment realised he could not best Haum and shooting him in the back will only end with everyone shooting each other. Old rivalries will be reborn and half of the oathed behind him would turn the moment they saw that heriarchy through prowess meant nothing and those behind the subedar, like the dog Soca would gut him if he the subedar lost his chance. He had to be careful, he realised, Haum was more cunning than he expected.
“Kolan," Haum called to him breaking the young man from his reverie, "Listen well you Reigner Bastard, you will split your hunters in two fire-teams, one will advance behind my strike team, the second fire-team will approach from the flank with rocket launchers and heavy weapons.”
“If we suffer resistance, and we will, I want you to sweep in from the flank, you lay down a field of fire with your fire-team and secure a position for the heavies to get in place, you advance, create a fire line, let the second fire team follow, understand?”
Kolan looked at the commands and looked at his oathed and then back at Haum who spoke still.
Haum paused and grabbed Kolan by his las strap, “You will not engage, until we do, is that clear?”
Kolan snarled, “Yes,”
"Yes, serkar!" Haum growled as he backhanded Kolan's face.
Kolan seethed with caged frustration and hatred for the subedar, "Yes Serkar!" he whispered through gritted teeth.
"Louder, heathen!" Haum ordered.
"Yes! Serkar!" Kolan screamed in anger.
Haum let Kolan go and swept his hand toward the highway.
“Good. Now we move.”
There is no intelligence. Only degrees of Idiocy.
Last edited by Exitus_10; 07-12-13 at 12:05 PM.