Chapter the Second part 2 of 5
Down below Abelard in the bowl, deep in combat and unaware of his presence or its danger, the Fire Dragon Exarch, Vondel, sprayed the make-shift trench before him mercilessly. Left and right, his Dragonís Breath spat death across the mon-keigh forces. These stragglers had fallen into their fusion guns just as Erlímyasdul had foreseen. Deniilanís own fusion gun fired, passing through and melting away in a flash the human that had popped out of the trench to fire a futile burst of coherent light from the paltry firearms they carried. In enough numbers the weapons could be lethal, but haphazard shots were more often turned away by the bodysuits the Eldar wore or bounced ineffectively off the reinforcement plates protecting the more vulnerable areas.
Where these troops had originated from in the battle, Vondel did not know. The Farseer had given him explicit instructions on which checkpoints to maintain, and how long. The skirmishes that his unit of Fire Dragons had swept through had culminated in this body of men running headlong into the muzzle fire of his arrayed plasma guns. His own Dragonís Breath, usually hampered by its shorter range and disdained by the majority of his brethren in the Aspect Temple in favor of a firepike, rained a fiery doom upon those foolish enough to think the trench and rocks would aid in protecting them from the Eldar force they had ran into unexpectedly. The fear that had gripped the humans after the initial salvo that decimated their force had indeed saved the lives of some, who did not go to ground and try and hide from the Eldarís fire. Haurin, Fellthain, Iyannashi, Tellqui, Lleyyagho, Jaaxisha, and Bispasqu continued unabated fire in the broken human unit. It would be suicide to let up and give the mon-keigh and opportunity to lick its wounds and recover. Like treating any wounded animal, death would be kinder and safer.
More of the humans died in the trench and Vondel knew the few remaining would be eliminated in moments. A gasp and sigh from his left caused him to turn. It was not an unfamiliar sound. A mortal wound had somehow found one of his unit. Tellqui, he saw, fell forward. It was the slow fall made with no effort to catch oneself. Several holes had been burned through the chest piece of his body suit. Another companion lost, another soul caught in the sparkling gem that now came alight with almost a renew purpose. Another task, one of incredible distaste, that Vondel would repeat as he had countless times as his role of Exarch. All around his fallen comrade, more stabs of light sent tiny puffs of smoke up from the dead grasses and duff that covered the ground. Swiftly they traversed the distance between Tellquiís position in the formation and closed in upon Iyannashi. Vondel barked warning and turned to bring his Dragonís Breath to bear upon the counter attack that had surprisingly come from a secured sector of control.
Expecting to see perhaps a small squad of mon-keigh, stragglers who escaped notice, Vondel watched a single human fire from over the crest of a knuckle in the low ridgeline. The human, even before Tellqui finished his fall, charged down towards Vondel and his Fire Dragons in a suicidal rush screaming incoherently. More flashes of contained lightning fired out of the muzzle of the humanís lazgun. Almost twice the cycle of fire, Vondel realized as he counted emotionlessly, of a normal human weapon as he raised his own to eliminate the surprise nuisance. With a detached air, Vondel gauged the distance to the human. Iyannashi had delicately moved away from the scattering fire laid blindly down, for Vondel could see now that the human did not even have his eyes open. How Tellqui had succumbed to such a random act as a blindly firing human pained Vondel, and even the knowledge that the act would be avenged was no salve against the wound on Vondelís own soul.
Thundering staccato broke Vondelís attention. Iyannashi, who had so deftly moved to bring the silly human to a swift end, exploded in a rain of tiny metal explosions that tore effortlessly through the armor plates and body suit. Haurin, who had continued to deal death to the scattered remains of their original prey, joined Iyannashi in her fate as the merciless fire continued along the end line of the Fire Dragonís formation. From yet another quarter, though not far enough removed to indicate a new unit, Vondel saw two more individuals moved in from the saddle that ran between the rock knuckle and the crest of the hill. Above and between his troop and their path to safety, the two new figures were now Vondelís primary concern. The broken humans, including the charging mon-keigh, were of no importance. The presence of the heavy weapon, a heavy bolter Vondel recognized not only by its bulk but by its signature report, was of highest import. To the side of the heavy weapon, and now down the hill, charged one of the constructed menaces of the human empire. Clad in its signature dark azure and argent rune, Vondel knew it was stronger and more resilient than those in his troop and should the human successfully close with them only Vondel could walk away from such a clash easily, if the marine made it all the way to him and his. Another order sent out to the remainder of his troop brought guns to bear on the Ultramarine and his supporting heavy weapon.
Veghard continued to fire down upon the Fire Dragons in the bowl of the hill below him. Novarius charged down the hill, swiftly closing with the Eldar below. Veghard, freed of the marineís constant observation, began a slow trot that took him down towards the rock knuckle Abe had abandoned. Firing as he moved, he knew such action would be better protection than a good bunker. Most did not worry about a heavy bolter moving from a position. The squats had long since been able to wield heavy weapons that would force the taller humans to stand and brace themselves. Their short stature and life under heavy gravity made the squats stronger than most any appreciated. That coupled with their superior understanding of gyros and anti-recoil technologies brought the standard squat heavy bolter a greater degree of mobility than any other Imperial equipment.
The Fire Dragons turned on Novarius, their plasma weapons locking on the charging figure when Veghard had reached the knuckle. The elimination of the One Seventy Seventh had been averted, but Veghard knew what was coming and he was afraid the Fire Dragons would cause too much damage to the few troops Veghard knew of. Squeezing his trigger again, a hail of spent casings fountained around him and cascaded about the rocks. Starting at the far end of the Eldar line, Veghard watched another of the lithe creatures dance in jerky motion before falling still under the weight of his fire but he knew his effort alone would not be enough to save the lone marine.
Down at the end of the bowl he stood sentinel over, Veghard gave half an eye to the boy, Abe. He had survived his initial rush and had provided the time Veghard had needed to cut down the two Eldar who had been tasked with clearing out the draw the One Seventy Seventh had taken cover in. Novarius had not reached the Eldar and his shots, which were fouling the aim of one Dragon, failed to bring it down. Lasgun fire from Abe completed what the Astartes had not, but what brought a small grin to Veghardís visage was Abeís wild gesticulation at the cowering troops in the draw. Up from their hiding places, the remnants of Abeís troop began to pour lasgun fire into the Dragons. Fired upon from multiple directions, the discipline of the Fire Dragons began to break down. The coordinated fire started to instead be divided between the marine and the recovered humans, none of which hit their mark as the Fire Dragons broke ranks and attempted to retreat back up the bowl. In moments, the rout of the One Seventy Seventh had been turned into the elimination of the unit of Fire Dragons.