The seven Haum had chosen moved with the awkward precision he expected from new recruits, they were clunky and noisy in their advance, their footing was off and their barrels were over cautiously raised.
The subedar learned half way into their advance that his group, even for all their initial merit lacked discipline and cooperation; Heku and the G’jan had some sort of connection because they kept sharing a look between each other; Haum assumed they were mates because they didn't seem to leave each other's side, this would be a problem in the long term.
Euran was slightly more irritable, he carried a stubber and kept making the most noise in their advance up the war torn highway, his bandoliers clattering with his charms and totems, the heavy weapon scraping and knocking into the smoking tank husks.
More than once Haum had to double back and chide the irritant for his careless manoeuvring, a swift knock to his forehead had seemed to drive the point home, he was much more careful in his advance.
The twins on the other hand worked great in unison but paid little heed to the others; they listened intently and watched with great reverence as Haum explained how to approach a stealthy advance, both of them seemed to only communicate between themselves and mostly avoided the others.
Both were armoured and armed the same way, even the rifles which were usually unique to every individual trooper was of the exact same mold, almost to every charm and totem upon the weapon was positioned in the same place, the only thing identifiable as unique between the two was the short braids, Jeth had it on his left while Tejh to his right. This would cause more problems as unity in squad order and command was expected for an efficient unit.
Soca and Mej were the only exceptions to his critique, they were the best of the lot and seemed to have a instinctive flair for stealth, they were silent and swift, almost as good as stalker-teams that formed the elite of the Sedukhar.
Mej cradled his sniper rifle with the care of a professional hunter and his subtle movements were admirable, emulating the old hunt technique used in the upland basins on Sedukh.
Soca on the other hand was a cold predator, deadly in his hunched movement, his calloused and scarred hands compressing between a fist and claw as he breathed, his right hand never too far from his blade and the other close to his pistol, a belt of fingers hung around his waist and a pair of scalps adorned the thigh guard. Typical tribal fetishes of teeth and ears wrapped around a shrunken eyeball hung from his thick neck.
Thirty meters down the highway lay the two abandoned carriers, the strike team moved forward slowly toward the burnt out carcasses of two large battle tanks.
Haum paused for a moment and signalled Mej over, "Count the enemy over there, by the first embankment trough toward the Highway."
Mej nodded raising his rifle, he carefully adjusted the scope to his eye and scanned the area ahead, debris and burnt out shells littered the roadway and then moved his sight toward the side of the road and past the bank.
There he spotted two dozen enemy troops in brown and grey with raised black rifles marched up from the town toward the highway scrambling up the steep bank toward the highway, behind them a company strong unit of more guardsmen was approaching in an swiftly.
Mej swore under his breath, “Subedar, I count over forty of the enemy in sight, twice as many beyond the second trench, maybe more.”
“Good, I can finally show you fools what a real battle is. Keep tracking the targets."
"Yes, serkar," Mej said as he relaxed his trigger depression and posture and rolled his tightening shoulder.
Haum ignored him and waved the rest of the team to him urging them to rally on him.
“It looks like this is it you rats, Mej and Euran, open up, once I do, keep your line clear and pick your targets. Tejh and Jeth, swing about right and shadow our advance and stay low, rest of you with me, we advance up the center.
Euran, you are my reserve driver, if either of the other two drivers are hit you are the replacement.”
The twins immediately broke off and settled along the ridge as the others nodded.
Haum grinned and looked at the rest, “Soca with me, Heku and G’jan behind us, eyes up and rifles on the ready, steady advance; start the vehicles as soon as we are close enough, clear you rats?”
“On my mark,” Haum chopped his hand and they began to advance.
Kolan watched as the figures in red began darting from wreck to wreck with commendable speed, following the subedar’s lead, he noticed the twins edge on the raised slope their heads down and their rifles up. He always found them to be the most distant and alien of those who had oath bound to him.
It seemed a lot more of them were distant and alien to him.
He watched as other figures in dark grey breastplates and brown fatigues of the invaders, the guardsmen, the subedar had called them suddenly appear near the wreck and shells of the burned out vehicles, one of them began checking the surroundings and aimed his rifle down to the woods where his fire-teams hid.
“They are close to the carriers, Master Kolan, should we assail them?”
Kolan felt an urge to order an attack, but he remembered Haum’s words, and Kolan was a man of his word, “It may indeed be time, brother. That fool Haum doesn’t know that we can take them. Let him make a fool of himself, first.”
The Sedukhar nodded and waited beside him obediently watching the approaching fire-team close in on the first lot of guardsmen that stood beside the abandoned carriers.
Subedar Haum watched the Guardsmen carefully go about their business celebrating prematurely; a banner man and another trooper with some sort of pict or capture device was gathering and lining men up to take picts. Haum carefully saw their patches, and identified one of their banners as of the Sarox Rangers; Haum had met them before in battle and knew they were tough bastards. The imperials knew how to raise a fighting man, Haum thought grimly as he inched closer to their target.
Soca crawled forward watching the subedar unsheathe his blade and gently part the laspistol from its holster, a trickle of sweat roll down from Soca’s constricted temple and down his cheek as he steadied his breathing and tried to channel the hunter within him; he hated the tight helmet and the taut combat armour that hugged to his sweaty fatigues. Yet he was utterly concentrating on approaching his target, to his right the subedar inched closer toward the enemy.
Both their targets were looking the wrong way with their backs facing them, watching and cheering the foolish guardsmen who were waving the banner in front of a burnt out tank, the subedar looked at Soca and then back at the drivers, he raised his pistol up.
“Now,” he ordered.
Soca leapt onto the first surprised guardsman, his tough arms wrapped around the target, his forearm squeezing his throat and drove his blade into the man’s shoulder in between his shoulder pad and breastplate, and his other hand began blazing his unsheathed autopistol at the surprised trooper taking the pict.
Soca grinned savagely as he shot the pictographer and three other Rangers, they dropped with wet thuds jerking as bullets pierced their face, arms and legs, to his left he heard the crack and whine of las pistol discharge, four more of the troopers toppled down.
With a cruel pull Soca wrenched the blade out of the weakening guardsman he supported and leapt for cover as return fire sizzled past his head, the twins appeared behind a ruined tank and catching a pair of Rangers off guard and killed them with perfect shots, they moved on to the guardsmen scattering for cover in the confusion.
Soca flashed his teeth savagely at the twins and shot two wounded Rangers on the ground, he approached the lip and shot two more guardsmen trying to clamber up the steep side, shots smacked the dirt around him and forced him to retreat from their line of sight, he turned about and settled behind a piece of broken tank skirt as cover and looked around, the twins were finishing off the last of the troopers, but farther down the road he saw the subedar and understood for the first time just how powerful Haum really was.
The man was a storm of death, he laid into five of the enemy, he shot the first in the face, slit the throat of the second, kicked a third’s legs from under him, slapped the barrel of the fourth aiming at him with his blade and shot the legs out from under him, the fifth staggered back as the subedar landed his knife through the Ranger’s visor, he dispatched the remaining fallen soldiers with shots to the head.
The twins moved up to him and began covering the subedar from the fresh troopers clambering from the slope onto the road.
Soca heard a stubber open up behind him with its steady thumping punctuated by solitary thwacks of Mej’s autorifle at targets below in the trough between the bank and the highway.
Heku and G’jan arrived beside him as he fired two shots into a trooper who emerged from a nearby wreck and dispatched another dying trooper on the ground with a blade to the throat.
“We need to move up and stop them!” shouted Haum as he reloaded and took position at the lip of the highway firing down at the clambering enemy.
The sedukhar all began to approach the lip and lay down fire at the advancing Guardsmen.
“Bloody hell,” the gruff Heku swore as he raised his gun and fired at the scores of Rangers scrambling up toward them, “I hope the subedar is right about this.”
G’jan gave a sultry laugh and nodded to the twins covering the subedar as he duelled with a enemy squad-leader, “He is the fine warrior,” she said over the roar of her rifle discharge, “I choose him over that damned Kolan any day.”
Soca simply stared at either of them and drew his lasrifle, “You should go start the carriers,”
G’jan acknowledged and withdrew, Heku made sure he finished his rounds before he withdrew and reloaded his weapon.
“Where the hell is that, Kolan?” grunted Heku as he laid down a new barrage of fire at the enemy.
Soca was too busy killing to answer or care.
Kolan saw his opportunity as the last of the guardsmen die and smiled; he raised his weapon and waved his hand forward, “Advance!”
Twenty warriors in two lines advanced up the slope chanting their war hymn, led by their oath master Kolan at the fore.
They clambered over the wrecked metal and dead to come across a busy pair of Soca and Heku emptying their chattering weapons into the enemy.
Beyond them a clutch of enemy soldiers were trying to advance up the slope, a company sized formation was assaulting this section of the highway, Kolan raised his rifle and fired a few shots at the approaching enemy, they went wide, he growled in anger and fired again, one of his shots stuck a Guardsman’s chest and a grenade cooked off killing two others beside him.
Kolan shouted in joy and began to fire wantonly at the clambering guardsmen.
Suddenly he had forgotten all the petty squabbling, he just wanted to kill, a strange rage was overcoming him. He began to shout his own name and fire at the enemy without regard for cover.
Suddenly a shot stuck his chest and threw him on to his back.
A powerful hand grabbed him by the shoulder and dragged him toward cover, “Stay down, rat, you got it? Stay here and shoot the bastards!”
Kolan looked up to see the Subedar with a bucking pistol in one hand dragging him with the other.
Strobes of las fire lit up the air about him, “You!” he screamed.
With a rush of adrenaline, Kolan pushed up to his feet slammed into an occupied Haum facing away from him, the tackle knocked the subedar to the ground, Kolan began raining blows on the prone subedar who began to raise his arms in defense.
Haum grinned beneath his shielding arms, now he can finally kill the bastard, he anticipated the next blow and grabbed the offending arm by the wrist while his other arm grabbed the upper bicep of Kolan’s other arm. With a grunt of effort Haum used his knee to leverage the young Kolan over and off of his body.
“You fight at all the wrong times, but your spirit is admirable,” Haum mocked as he raised himself up.
Kolan rolled over and got on his knee in a swift move a pistol appeared in his hand and fired.
Haum dodged the shot and rolled toward Kolan as another shot whistled past his ear, Haum grabbed Kolan’s wrist and squeezed, weakening the grip on his pistol, in almost the same instant Haum’s open palm struck Kolan’s jaw knocking him backward.
“You never learn do you, bastard son?” Haum explained as he loomed over the prone Kolan.
Haum looked down with contempt at his younger foe who struggled to recover from the blow to his jaw. Kolan strained hard as he looked up at the subedar standing unfazed as a rocket arced over him, overshot by some overzealous trooper and exploded, “Let us hope your hunters make better choices than you.”
“You will pay for this! Oathed of Reginer! Kill this traitor!” Kolan shouted over the sound of the raging battle.
No, single answer came to him, not a shot or a raised hand against the looming Haum
“Your oathed betray you, because they follow me,” he explained as he ripped the armour from Kolan’s chest.
Kolan realized that his oathed has seen the brief fight and the lack of intervention confirmed his worst fears, those who were loyal to him were either dead or turned.
“NO!” Kolan shouted in defiance and raised himself pushing the subedar of his person, “I will kill you, subedar!”
Kolan charged the subedar intent on killing him with his bare hands.
Haum slapped the speeding fist away from his chest and hammered two precise blows with a clenched fist to Kolan’s temple, right shoulder and a chopping blow to his axillery line, all pressure point blows that crippled the young master who fell to his knees like a defeated man.
“Now you know the shame of defeat, I claim all your inheritance and title. I seal this claim with your death,” Haum explained as his killers hands wrapped around Kolan’s throat.
With a quick twist Haum broke Kolan’s neck and let the body fall.
Haum looked up from a truimph only to see the defeat of the Sedukhar around him, they were being overwhelmed, they were dying.
To his left he heard the coughing and revving engines of the carrier bought to life dragging itself from the wreckage around it.
Soca the killer was there beside Haum, firing at the enemy with a salvaged rifle on full auto, he killed three troopers and looked down at the corpse of Kolan.
“May he burn for ever!” Soca spat on the corpse.
“He has all eternity for that,” Haum retorted as he picked up another weapon and fired at the clambering enemy.
A crashing sound turned him around to see a half-track ram through the carcass of a wrecked tank and swivel near him. The subedar activated his vox, “All warriors, converge to me, we are done here.”
Within moments a handful of warrior had gathered and filing into the transport, his strike team seemed the only unit in strength with the exception of Euran, “Where is Euran, Mej?”
Mej looked away toward the enemy, “They got him.”
“A fitting end then,” Haum looked at the blood and dirt caked faces and nodded to them, “This was a disaster but this isn’t the end.”
Haum watched the survivors of his chosen squad and noticed the three other survivours he knew as the brutish Samnir Gol, a silent woman named Eseth Jikra who veiled her face with a veil of chainmail, covering a giant with a rocket pod named Dersh Kurud as he darted to the transport.
The remaining warriors piled into the vehicle, Haum was the last one inside and hopped into the rear stubber cupola swivelling the weapon around and depressed the trigger spoon and hosing the advancing Rangers as they sped away down the abandoned highway.
Toward the distance Larterstown burnt with the fury of the Imperium.
There is no intelligence. Only degrees of Idiocy.
Last edited by Exitus_10; 07-19-13 at 11:44 AM.