"One Shot, One Kill"
“One Shot, One Kill” A short story set in the Warhammer 40k universe
As he crawled to the tree line at the top of a low ridge, Battle-Brother Ignatius knew his squad had come across something of great importance and hoped Brother-Sergeant Cragg would be pleased. Ignatius immediately made the hand signal to halt. He was the point man for an 8-man detachment of scouts from the Stone Judges Space Marine chapter, sent on a seek-and-destroy mission. What exactly they were meant to find out here in the hinterlands of Ranthor Tertius, the southernmost continent on this planet he was quickly coming to despise, was anyone’s guess.
As each Space Marine in the column saw the hand signal to halt coming from their Battle-Brother to their front, they slowly lowered to one knee and melted into the tangled underbrush, scanning the perimeter for targets.
It had taken but a moment for the signal to halt to reach Brother-Sergeant Cragg, who had hoped beyond hope that Ignatius had finally spotted something worthwhile. The column had been moving for the past 20 hours, initially through the tough scrubland where they had disembarked from their 2 Land Speeder Storm transports and then through this Chaos-damned forest. Once entering the forest, the team had stopped several times to investigate the headless corpses of men and women, their flesh carved and branded with the 8-pointed star of the ruinous powers and other unmentionable and unintelligible sigils of Chaos. Cragg was becoming anxious to locate and eliminate his objective, as he was well aware that his Scouts were deep behind enemy lines and thus moved smartly, yet skillfully silent up to Ignatius’ position.
As he moved up through the column, he noted how each of his scouts had taken branches and foliage, attaching it to their armor to add to their camouflage. He even broke the hint of a smile as he looked to their faces and saw mud smeared in order to break up their silhouettes. “They’ll make fine scouts in my company alright, yes indeed they will,” he thought to himself.
As Cragg approached, Ignatius made to salute, but Cragg caught him with a look and Ignatius stopped.
“Status?” said Cragg.
“It, it seems there is a camp set up around some ruins, about 2 clicks south of our location,” replied Ignatius.
“Why do you stutter so Ignatius? This is the target we have been sent to destroy. Within those ruins lies some foul artifact of the ruinous powers, and we will bring the Emperor’s wrath down on it, along with those forlorn heretics excavating it,” whispered Cragg.
“Sir, I think you should see what I’m talking about,” stammered Ignatius.
Cragg immediately swung his ancient sniper rifle to his shoulder and sighted down his scope at the ruins and the camp surrounding them. He felt the weight of the rifle in his hands, and he was reassured by it. Cragg remembered back to all of the times he had meted out the Emperor’s justice with a single shot ringing from on high. As he peered through his rifle’s optics, he could not help but pity the misbegotten heretics he would destroy in the next hour.
Cragg’s pity was soon replaced with a mixture of fear and loathing when his sights crossed what looked to him like Space Marines. Fifteen he counted, each one’s face a hideous mask of flesh stretched across a nearly visible skull. Their armor was blood red and decorated with innumerable markings of Chaos and what looked like human skulls, some of which were fresh as the flesh had not yet decomposed.
“By the Emperor”, Cragg whispered.
“My sentiments exactly sir,” replied Ignatius.
“So fifteen traitor Marines against our eight scouts? I like those odds,” said Cragg.
“You forgot the two Predators and a Land Raider sir.” Ignatius said curtly.
“Where the frack did you see them?” spat Cragg.
“Under the tents to the north of the main tower of the ruins sir.”
“Damn my eyesight, I must be getting old!” replied Cragg with the tiniest hint of a laugh.
“So what do we do? We don’t have the armour nor the weapons to withstand sustained fire from those tanks!” said Ignatius.
“I’ll think of something. Remember, the Emperor doth provide.”
10 minutes later, Cragg had assembled his scouts and began to explain their plan of attack. None of them seemed phased that they were facing heavy armor and Khornite traitors with their small squad of 8 Space Marines. This pleased Cragg, as it reinforced his confidence in his selection of personnel for this mission as well as the training he had given all of his men.
“We have two missile launchers, two heavy bolters and four snipers. Each of you are crack shots, that’s why I picked you for this mission. We will deploy Ferton and Raz on the Missile launchers half a click north down the ridge, Tarn and Rin on the heavy bolters will deploy where we are currently, while Ignatius, Roth, Cygrin and I will deploy half a click to the south. Communication will be kept to a minimum until engagement. Remember boys, make every shot count, as we have limited ammunition. Am I perfectly understood?”
“Yes sir,” they whispered in unison.
“Ferton, Raz, listen up. I want you to initiate the attack. When I give the signal, you open up on the Land Raider. Once that is destroyed, take out the Predators. Once the heavy armor is dead, I want you to switch to frags and help with the traitor Marines.”
“Roger that,” they said as they moved slowly into position.
“The rest of you, our targets are the Marines. Do not let them get close enough to engage us in hand to hand. Though our spirit is unbreakable and the Emperor is with us, we will be no match against them in assault. Understood?”
“Yes sir” was the reply.
30 minutes later, Cragg and his scouts were in position. By his estimation, they had 3 hours of daylight left. He prayed that if they survived, they would have time to destroy the demonic artifact and make their extraction before more Chaos filth overan his meager team. He keyed the microbead in his ear: “Marines, pick your targets well and make every shot count. Remember our motto, ‘One shot, one kill’. You may fire when ready.”
Stay tuned to see how Cragg and his boys fare in the next installment of One Shot, One Kill