The average Space Marine gets up at 4am in the morning and retires to rest at Midnight. Sixteen and a half hours of this day is taken up in training.
The battle had raged for a week before they were called in.
Sergeant Justesen lead a file of his scouts through a winding communication trench which lead to the Headquarters area. Startled Guardsmen leapt out of the way and exchanged anxious glances as the ten Marines in their heavy armour stamped by.
The fighting had been heavy, unexpectedly tough, and the losses were high, but there must be something seriously wrong if High Command were bringing in Space Marines.
A few of the veterans smiled to each other.
“It will soon be over now.” They reassured the rest.
A squad of heavily-armed Stormtroopers stepped aside as the group approached. Only the red-helmeted sergeant continued into the bunker.
“Sergeant Justesen reporting as ordered,” and almost as an after thought he added, “Sir.”
Lord General-Militant Tanabe Michio did not even bother to look up from the huge chart laid out in front of him.
“I was promised a company of Space Marines and am sent a squad.”
Justesen smiled inside his helmet. Entire worlds had been conquered with less.
He slowly released the seals on his helmet and took it off, revealing his face for the first time.
The look from the gathered staff was all the old veteran needed.
Scarred and burnt by a lifetime of combat, Justesen’s face was a battered, ruined tapestry of scars and pain.
A single service stud was stamped into his forehead.
“Well Sergeant?”. Justesen was a million miles away. He was already analysing the chart, studying dispositions and layouts. Picts and data flow screens filled him in with the rest of the information he required.
“The vaunted Emperor’s Vengeance. Scourge of the Ghoul Stars.” The General frowned. “I have a planet to pacify and they send me a squad.” He waved a hand dismissively. Some of the assembled staff officers laughed.
A glance from Justesen put a halt to that.
“My Captain sends his apologies Sir. The rest of the Company are involved in boarding actions on the Eldar fleet. We were all that could be spared.” He cleared his throat, the rasp as loud as a krak grenade.
The General looked up.
“Indeed.” He pointed at a mark on the chart. “Ever since they brought down the frigate Hougoumont
with their heretical weapons, I have been stymied by Eldar forces operating out of the wreckage.” He stared at a group of Guard officers in the corner. “I have lost a considerable amount of men and material
Justesen looked down and then spared the officers a glance.
“We will have it cleared in two days, Sir.”
The general looked exasperated.
“Yes Sir. I am afraid you will have to be a little patient, these men are only neophytes from the scout Company.”
“They send me scouts.”
“They will suffice.”
The General scoffed.
“I will hold you to that Sergeant. You have two days to clear the Hougoumont
. Two days to prove that The Emperor’s Vengeance are the ultimate force in this sector.
* * *
“Excellent shot Scout,” said Justesen. “You have severed its spine and it is completely helpless.”
“Thank you Sergeant,” replied the young Marine. The Sergeant held up his helmet and studied the damage again.
“The eye lens is gone,” he said with a hint of emotion in his voice. “This was my favourite.” He turned to the young Scout who visibly straightened. “Nothing the Enginseers cannot fix, eh, Stromssen?.”
The Sergeant turned around to the other scouts, motioning them to move in closer.
“Some excellent work today, you are all improving.” He turned to a stocky Scout with his M40/A1 Pattern Sniper Rifle held in the crook of his arms.
“Siegar’ the Sergeant frowned. “An unorthodox method of distraction, using one of our dead as a decoy,” he held up a hand to stop any reply. “I would say that it was disrespectful of you to use a Brother in such a way.” He paused and a faint smile spread across his face. “However, our late Brother Hagen would have approved and would have been happy that he fought on even after death.”
The gathered scouts laughed, breaking the tension.
“Altmann!.” A small dark-skinned Scout stepped forward. He was wiping blood from the blade of his combat knife with a piece of torn Guard uniform. Blood was also splattered over his face and the front of his Infiltrator armour. He wore ritual gang tattoos on his face as a mark of honour.
“Good use of the decoy, very good in fact. However,” he held up a hand again. “We have trained you for a long time in the skills needed to FIRE a Sniper Rifle. It is not exactly designed as a primitive club to smash in someones head.” The scouts laughed again.
“Punishment detail at 5am tomorrow during Firing Rites. Report to Techmarine Tobius and help him service the Scout Cadres Weapons.”
“It will be an honour Sergeant.”
Justesen turned to the Eldar, who was now grey and close to death.
“It is well that these so-called Rangers tend to fight alone as it favours our tactics.” He tapped the dying Eldars leg with his boot and it gave off a faint moan.
“They are a pathetically weak race, but their weapons are good and they move fast. They are however… predictable. The Rhino was an obvious sniper position.”
The sergeant turned to the group.
“Never, ever get into position where you have not got a clear escape route.”
The Sergeant beamed.
“And remember the most important rule..”
“Hunt! Hide! Kill! Reposition!… Sergeant!”, roared the Scouts.
“And above all,” added the Sergeant. “Patience. The prey will always come to you.”
Justesen looked down at the dying Eldar and then back to Stromssen.
“It will not be long before you may all call me brother.”
He nodded towards the Eldar.
“Now finish it.”