I have no idea whether I'm supposed to post a link to fanfiction or if I can just post the story in the actual message, but I'm doing the latter anyway because using a third party always works out badly for me in the end. So here's a short story I wrote on a whim, since I can never find enough stuff on Black Library that focuses on tanks. If this is something which piques your interest, then please feel free to say so, I've had a plot for a good ol' novel floating around in my brain for a bit, but haven't really felt it was worth the time. If it's something people might like though, Hell I'd try anything once. I'm sure everyone will find something I could do better, so please, feel free to criticize me before this story gets saged. But anyway, without further ado, here is a very short story:
“Auspex returns sir.” The radio operator shouted suddenly while looking back to the commander. He had been nervously reading returns and listening to chatter for the last few hours, checking and rechecking every piece of information displayed on the simple monitor as the column rolled across the green hills and sloping valleys of the boy’s first combat deployment. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen. Young yet, and too jumpy and foolish for his own good.
Vilten, the commander of the conqueror pattern tank, a gaunt, haggard looking man with a cigar in his mouth and three days of untrimmed stubble on his worn face, sighed and rubbed his eyes before answering a bit more calmly than his frayed nerves told him he should. “Son, if you have a return, you don’t just say that you have a return. I need a direction and a heading. And for the love of the damn divine Emperor, use your periscope once in awhile. If that auspex is acting up, I still need all my eyes.”
The operator nodded and hurriedly rechecked the screen before looking out the periscope. “Uh… direction thirty-six degrees, heading west by northwest. It looks like… What the hell are those sir?” He asked a bit curiously as he looked out through the viewfinder.
Vilten sighed and unsealed the commander’s hatch before standing up and looking out, grabbing his magnoculars at the same time. He looked through them and chuckled softly before shaking his head. “You’re a city boy aren’t you huh? That’s a grox you drakking idiot. This is an agri-world. You even bother reading the briefing?” Vilten said with an amused grin as he sat back down and shut the hatch before scanning with his periscope again.
The rest of the crew got a bit of a chuckle out of the ordeal, Oksen, the gunner, commenting that maybe he should try checking the auspex to see if he could find them some decent women on this dirt world. The boy muttered to himself a bit before resuming his scanning, looking through the viewfinder and panning it slowly left to right, taking his eyes away to look at the auspex set again each time a blip sounded.
Vilten shook his head softly as they rode on, the tank shaking and rattling occasionally as the sixty tonne machine rode across the dirt road, scarred and pocked occasionally by shell craters and burned patches of grass, the symptoms of the war that had ravaged the planet of Teden Majoris for the last five months. Five months of hard combat that had seen his last bow gunner and radio man, Terhan, ripped apart when an archenemy anti tank shell pierced the side armor. The new one, Amos, or ‘the boy’ as he was known by his crewmates, was no substitute, eager, but green, and too damn young and nervous.
Vilten looked through the scope again and panned his view across the looming mountains in front of them, the forested heights big enough to conceal an entire damn enemy army. he then scanned the rolling hills to either side, looking for the mechanized infantry battalion they were supposed to be meeting. Vilten checked the chronometer on his wrist and sighed before looking to the boy again. “Get me the captain on vox.”
Amos nodded and picked up the comm speaker before handing the headphones to him. Vilten took them and put the speakers to his ear. “Have we gotten any word from the Red Dragoons yet? They were supposed to be waiting here.”
A gruff voice answered back, slightly distorted by the vox static and engine noise in the background. “Negative. I’m starting to wonder if command even knows where their own guys are. We should have at least gotten into vox range by now even if they were running a bit…” The voice cut out abruptly in a wash of static, followed a few milliseconds later by a bassy rumble as the command tank’s ammunition was lit up by an AT round, causing almost fifty shells to explode at once and turn the once proud vehicle into a smoking crater.
The second conqueror in the convoy went up in a blaze of dirty smoke and fire a moment later as the fuel tank lit up, the commander screaming in agony while his tank burned around him, the flaming promethium fuel oil melting flesh from bone like butter from a hot knife. The other tanks halted and hurriedly scanned the horizon while crying out for target acquisition.
“Switch to local comms and scan that treeline! Listen for contact reports and call in what i tell you!” Vilten shouted at the boy before throwing the radio back to him. Vilten felt all his frayed nerves screaming at him to break, and yet he was calm. This was his element, and he did not hesitate. “Gunner! Orient ten degrees horizontal, azimuth eighteen degrees! That second shot was a lascannon, follow the beam. Loader, I need AP right now! That’s armor contact for certain. Driver! Orient twenty-five degrees and open that throttle!”
The crew hurried to comply, the loader hefting a shell for the conqueror cannon and slotting it into the breach with a single practiced motion as the gunner moved the turret around to face the direction of the contact. Vilten watched intently through his periscope, looking for signs of movement. He saw a dark shape a moment later, then a flash, followed by a flaming corona as a rocket assisted round flew from the barrel of whatever tank was out there and smashed into the tank at the rear of the column a second later. Vilten recognized that type of shell. There was only one tank he knew of that fired rounds like that...
The massive behemoth was once known as ‘Ardent Lance.’ It had served in the 222nd Marian Tigers armored regiment, with two-hundred and ninety-seven confirmed armor kills to its credit. It answered to a different name now, one so blasphemous that to utter it left one’s soul trembling in agony. The three hundred tonne beast fired its main gun six further times in the engagement, along with countless lascannon charges and autocannon rounds. The Leman Russ conqueror pattern tanks in the column fired at least sixty rounds between them. And yet, when the bloody work was done, all sixteen tanks of the 5053rd Castellan armored brigade burned.
The crews of the tanks fared little better. Most were burned alive as promethium fuel caught light and turned the hulk into an iron funeral pyre, others were cremated outright as magazines of high explosive and armor piercing shells were struck by lascannon bolts and high- explosive armor-piercing shells, detonating the lot of them with devastating effects. The few who escaped their smoking wrecks met no better a fate, as twin-linked heavy bolters from the Baneblade’s sponsons tore bleeding, fist-sized holes in torsos and destroyed limbs, leaving ragged scraps of meat and a fine red mist to mark their cowardice.
When the smoke of the fight cleared, the hatch of the Baneblade opened and a figure slowly raised its head above the armored viewports to survey the carnage. The human, if it could still be called such, had a bulky augmetic in place of most of its face, with only its bottom jaw still coated in the veneer of flesh. It looked around for a moment longer before nodding in seeming satisfaction and lowering its head back into the vehicle.
“They burn.” It said simply in a thin, limp, machine rasp as it took its place in the seat once more. The rest of the crew of Mortem Rex simply nodded and returned to their duties. The auspex operator sent a dense blurb of machine-code and the commander switched his camera view. He let out a disturbing facsimile of what would have been a smile on something less hideous before sending a return code spurt to the driver, engineseer, and powerplant monitor servitor all in the space of a few milliseconds. Mortem Rex roared to life once again, steel treads crushing bones to powder as the damned vehicle continued her hunt.
Behind her, steel coffins burned...
Last edited by Dave T Hobbit; 09-11-15 at 05:09 PM.
Reason: Made the separation between foreword and story clearer