“Poor fuck, no-one deserves that. Feel almost sorry for the poor bastard. Ah well. New game?” Chekiston shook his head at the howls of pain and oaths of violence that came from the sealed off Command bunker two pillboxes down.
“Still, at least he didn’t decide that the big man weren’t worth it.” Vega struggled up, onto his side. He was forced to lie on his front, as his back was a bloody ruin, an artillery shell having detonated above him, close enough to shower him with enough shrapnel to break through his Refractor field, but not enough to kill him, though it sure as hell felt like it. Darieus wasn’t as lucky. Only thing left of him was the arm wrapped around the Commissars chest. That same arm was now propped up on the trench wall waving in the wind to the entrenched chaos forces.
“What we gonna do now, anyway? We’re hardly combat effective. A drunk crippled CO, half of his command platoon wiped out, a fucked up commisar, and 30 odd marines? Oh, and a Doc who likes his branding a little bit too much.” The artillery and the subsequent fight had hit the remaining members of Gamma Company, under Major Barron hard. The real trouble started when the mortars were hit with a barrage of fire, killing Lieutenant Carroll and all his men, then a stray shell found itself lodged in the ammunition stores, destroying 3 pillboxes and all those stuck inside. Then when the shelling stopped, the remaining members of the company gathered itself on the firing step. Marianne noticed that the Major hadn’t returned, so despite the orders of the Doc, and a knee in the jewels of Chekiston, she sped off to find him. Miraculously, he wasn’t further harmed, and throwing him over her shoulders, struggled back to the dug outs.
Then, the fighting got vicious. Without the entrenched and embedded heavy weapons, the Cultists were able to make their way comparatively unharmed through the lasfire, and the odd Frag Grenade. Dirty hand to hand melee erupted, the disciplined close quarter fire of the marines and the lightning quick knives of the cultists met in the trenches, and it was only due to the trenches acting as a chokepoint that the marines were able to hold them off, a critically wounded Commissar Vega holding them off, his face a mask of blood, brain and bone a sight that made even the most dedicated cultist think twice before charging.
Thanks to a timely arrival of the regimental commanders Grenadiers, the fighting ended sooner than it was hoped, but the 117th Carrogan Marines were reduced to but a fraction of their strength, suffering more casualties in the 3 hours of fighting than they had in 6 weeks.
“No idea, man. I’ve spoken to Commissar In Chief Reliant, and he’s said that he’s hoping to get some FNG regiment in until we get some reinforcements. Hell, all of our companies have been hit hard, but we’ve been royally fucked over. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get disbanded, or they just form up our companies into 1 veteran company.
“Hell no… We’ve worked to long, too hard for that to happen.”
“Don’t I know. 7 months, jack shit to show except scars, and the entire core knows that without us here, they couldn’t have done jack fuck. You’ve seen the forces they got, but with 3000 men, a flank has been held, against intelligence suggesting 50,000.”
“Officer on the Deck! Ahhhhh-ten-hut” Vega’s command barked out over the command dug out, Chekiston, Aldreich, Marianne, Tenenbaum, Jackson, Messenger, and the rest of the staff slapped down their cards – face down – and stumbled into a tired mess of an ordered demi-squad.
“Sit down, all of you. You’re all too fucked to stand up straight, Emperor knows you need your rest. That especially means you, Commissar.”
“Thank you sir.”
Brigadier Oakenhardt stepped out of the shadows of the doorway, and took off his peaked cap hanging it on the cast on his arm, the bone broken by an Ogryn collapsing on top of him after sticking it with his power sword. The dull light of the Glo-Globes showed the lop sided smile showing the old dueling scar of his days as a Naval Officer. Formally a piss-and-vinegar, thrusting ambitious young lieutenant as a Naval Gunnery officer, barely needing to shave, he answered a call to aid the Guard 50 years previous as an adjutant to his predecessor, General Howes. After his ship was destroyed, the navy wouldn’t find him another ship, so stayed on in the guard, and worked his way up, his uncanny knowledge of artillery and manuevres of ground troops smoothing his ascent up to the rank of Brigadier. Now a craggy old man, the salt and pepper military cut of his hair was thinning, his face a mass of scars and tanned by the suns and winds on a dozen worlds in a hundred climates, the only thing that was still a reminder of him being the same person were the coal black eyes, that spoke of dark things and a burning desire to eradicate the enemies of the Imperium.
“We all need rest, and that’s what we’re here for. The Schola Progenium have been in touch, Vega, with you Commisar Reliant. They’ve requested the presence of all Schola members of an Inactive Combat Regiment, and a small coterie of those who they consider to be trustworthy, hard fighters. When I say small, I mean no more than a company. Quite good, considering that the 117th Carrogan Marines now number 187 fighting men and women, and 62 wounded. We’ve been granted passage to Segmentum Solar, to begin our briefing for another mission.”
“What about this world?”
“Ah, Major. You heard then? I’d offer my hand, but all things considered…” Waving his cast helplessly, Oakenhardt smiled. Barron returned the gesture, and hobbled over to sit next to Marianne on the card table. “Yes… This world. It’s not our matter now. Imperial Forces are mounting a new offensive, with the landing of the 67th Valhallan Heavy Armour Division, they have nigh on 2000 men reinforcing this flank, and at best, us 200 can’t do anything they can’t do. We’ve got R+R aboard the Cruiser Vladivostock
, courtesy of the Schola, but that's pretty much it. I've had nothing else."
"We're getting shipped out?"
"That's right, Barron. And I'm sorry to say we only got the Green Flag, thanks to our poor bastards dieing today. Those hive trash from the Spiders would have got in ahead, thanks to the mauling they took from those Traitors detonating the warheads in Silo Eleven Seventeen." The Necromundan 39th had been involved in fierce hand to hand when their officer decided to throw his entire regiment at the face of a rebel held defense battery, guarding the upper ridges of the Van De Waal mountains, but thanks to the heretics tirggering the arming codes, the Macrocannons concealed in the mountain side exploded, burying three quarters of the survivors.
"The only place they deserve to be is chain ganging it. Cunts. Damn near cut my throat after cheating him out of the serving girl back of Camp Borussia when we first arrived." Chekiston spat into the dirty ground. "Didn't let him make that threat happen though. Stuck him like a pig, and he squeeled all the way home."
The dug out laughed. The tale was famous for most of the Regiments who made the drop on to Calderon XVIII during the monsoon season, the lush forest around Camp Borussia turning into a haven for biting insects, and stagnant mud. Enough men had been found face down in the mud afterany fracas in the barracks. Why use a weapon when you can smother them?
So what's the ETA til the Evac? And who's taking over out position? We cover a mile long front, and there's nothing yet I've heard of with the spare resources to fill it.
"Nobody tell's me nothing, Major. I'd guess its those Cthonians, they've been recycled and resupplied with new grunts."
"You mean... As Jakiro of Cthonia, Jakiro? Damn it, this place'll be overrun in a month with that retard in command!" Barron's outburst shocked everyone in the dugout. Everyone knew that Elmander Jakiro, the Armoured Company commander of the Cthonian 33rd was a wasteful brash officer, who only receieved his Colonelship through connexions to High Commander Isan, yet it was the first time that anyone, even Barron himself outright criticised him. It was just a sign of stress over the last week.
"I can't do anything about it, my friend. My hands are tied over who replaces us. The schola have an Inquisitorial Mandate with them, and when they call, you can only answer. I wish I could place some of his staff in command over this post, but unfortunately, Jakiro won't do us a favour and get his head blown off. He has some capable men and women under his thumb." Oakenhardt was clearly sorry that he was being forced to leave his position, whether through orders or not, it felt like a failure. 2000 men, reduced to a single company, for nothing. No more reserves, no more supplies, just training at the Schola, then off to certain death.
"Sorry boys. Politics is the fucking shit. Truely I am. Reveille at oh-four-thirty for final send off. Let's give our boys a true Carrogan funeral. You have their tags?"
"Here, Sir." Barron reached over, and dropped the bundle of dog tags into the Colonels hand.
"Been a big butchers bill. I'll be round for Inspection 0500. Gotta file my report for the night." Donning his peaked cap, and the members of the Regiment hastily touching their temples, the Brigadier stepped out into the closing fog of the night.
"We're up shit creek now, and no mistake. I need a drink."
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