Chapter 1 – Talo VII
‘2 years later’
Two years of training and off world exercise had led to this, a culmination of my skills and the epitome of a Riflemen’s career. I was a private in the 102nd Rifle Assault Regiment, this was a subsection of the 12th Regensburg Brigade. I was private first class, and had been assigned the number 5055. My old name was left behind at home with my family, I was just another number now in the grand mechanical works of our regiment.
Myself and 5 platoons were being sent to Talo VII to assault the heavily fortified capital city, described only as a monastery of death and carnage, blackened walls and huge spiralling towers tearing out from the ground itself. We were to uproot the traitors from the miles and miles of under ground tunnels, trenches spanning the entire circumference of the city and thousands of pit holes and mine fields littering the desecrated surface of the once beautiful planet. Nothing but the wretched city remained; apparently high command wanted something hidden deep in the catacombs of the main citadel.
It was time for me to get my uniform and gear in order to fight, life aboard the transport cruiser wasn’t so bad, we got warm meals everyday and a warm bed. My leather boots lay at the foot of my bed, worn softened leather from months of wear and tear, my battered flak armour hanging inside my locker with the trench coat and tunic top and bottoms, in varying shades of grey and tan. Cream roles of cloth tape hung loosely from a hook on the door and my mars pattern lasgun propped up in the weapons rack.
The ships intercom rattled and screeched before a rustic voice crackled out
“Men, get some rest it’s the last time you’ll have a bed for a long time boys! Up at 0500 hours, out”
The calming silence within my bunk was quashed as my section stomped down the corridor towards me from the mess hall. Joking and laughing as if we were on a vacation, not like we were just hours away from gruesome warfare and watching our brothers in arms dying at our sides. This was war.
As I dipped in and out of consciousness before dropping off to sleep, dreams of my friends back home and my family filtered into my mind, before darkness.
It was 12 am and the men of the 102nd were assembled and descending onto the arid surface of Talo VII, crimson red dust dancing across the empty waste lands. Our company was setting up a base camp 200 miles south of the capital. Repair tents and armourers would be supporting the front line from this position and the unfortunate men killed or wounded would be ferried there to. Sadly we where being dropped straight into war, a small clearing in miles of trench system to be exact with deadly radioactive rives and swamps gouging pathways through the land.
The drop ship shook heavily, bolts groaning and creaking under pressure and the heat building up inside was like a sauna. I looked left and right, fifty soldiers kitted out in the regiments distinctive trench coat and death motif gas masks.
“Ok maggots, when we drop you best prove yourselves command says we gotta reinforce the remaining troops in those damn trenches! Do I make myself clear!” roared the Staff Sergeant.
“Sir yes sir!!” bellowed from deep within every mans soul.
The ship shook a final time before a mighty crash knocked a few men off balance and knocked me to the floor, my squad mate pulled me up before looking out into the dull raining scenery, collapsing trenches and gargantuan explosions pluming high into the toxic air.
“GO GO GO !!!” roared the staff as the behemoth doors crashed down into the mud and the men charged into the trench systems flying our regimental flag as to support the fire teams attempting to take ground from the heavily entrenched gun lines of the traitors. The commissar looked over us as we set up positions inside the labyrinth before us. I was nervous, even though I was destined to die I wanted to make sure I’d served the Emperor sufficiently and taken as many heretics to death with me.
Heavy rain saturated the battlefield and turned the mud around the trench line to slop and mess, the wooden slats barely holding the sea of grime back. Heavy guns pounded behind the security of our trenches and shook the earth. Enemy artillery bombed through our lines and caused huge sections of the trench line to cave in and suffocate riflemen under a tide of mud, gore and flesh.
The rattle of machine gun fire drowned out the screams of soldiers dying around me and the noise of enemy gun fire. A momentary cease fire gave me time to collect my thoughts and move to a safer position. Smoke danced and weaved through the trenches from across the battlefield.
“Acid barrage! Incoming!!!” sounded from the speakers, the voice rusty through poor lines and low quality equipment. I darted over dozens of bodies face down in the river of blood, missing limbs and massive exit wounds made me feel nauseous. I looked up to the sound of whistling and i stumbled backwards and fell into a dug out. I watched the gigantic shell explode in mid-air and thousands of tiny capsules fell just twenty metres off ground level before exploding into a cloud of potent acid. Watching the acid rain down onto the commissar ordering and executing men at the will of the emperor. The acid doused him and his skin bubbled and burned, his voice gargled as his throat melted from inhaling the deadly toxin. He fell to his knees and held his face before thumping into the puddles of death that littered the trenches.
I looked out into the abyss from the safety of the dug out and the silence was short lived as every man out of cover was incinerated by the acid attack. Only a handful of us remained.
after the sun fell I walked out into the trenches and stepped onto a gun step to peer over the edge into the cold lines of the enemy.
A few more men moved up to the trench line peering through the scopes of their rifles into the empty battlefield. Echoing voices of the thousands dead blew over no mans land and the only noises to be heard was the rustling of my fellow riflemen moving up to the trench line for the word of the commissars to ‘send us over the top’.