The Captain of the 4th was close at hand, and in a moment he was at Edesar’s side. Antille cut an impressive form, even amongst his kin. Handsome for a Marine, his face was mostly devoid of scars save the top of his right ear that he had lost to a near miss from an auto cannon round nearly a hundred years previously. Short cropped dark hair lay flat on his head where the nearly constant pressure of his helmet kept it. Piercing blue grey eyes surveyed the bridge at a glance. He walked quickly up to Edesar’s command chair, his blood red and gold cape flowing in his wake. The two Captains clasped for arms and greeted each other warmly. Decades of fighting along side each other, and a mutual position of command had fostered within them a close friendship; one that had endured the test of time and the loss of so many friends.
“Captain, I would be obliged if you could send a squad of men to the Formidable. The Admiral has lost the stomach for the job at hand. Persuade him that death in service to the Emperor is preferable to being shot on his own bridge and maybe we will be able to use the Formidable’s guns again before the day is out.” Antille knew just the men for the job and nodded, speaking into his helmeted vox. The order was passes to Sergeant Collinz to launch immediately. He turned to his friend.
“Captain, while I would never question your ability to command, even with the Formidable’s guns we are still heavily out numbered. The defence platforms must surely outgun us on their own, let alone their remaining fleet. Am I correct in my assessment or is there a factor I have overlooked?” Edesar smiled, taking the insult as the private joke his friend had meant it as. He turned to him.
“Yes there is brother. You, and your heroes of the 4th.”
After the short hop in the Thunderhawk Sergeant Collinz stepped onto the deck of the Formidable’s main landing area, followed closely by his squad. Their heavy metallic foot falls echoed through the eerily silent hanger. On hearing that a contingent of Space Marines was on their way over, most of the crew of the hanger had found a reason to be elsewhere. They fought their natural instinct to deploy into a tactical formation, instead filing out in quick order and standing in double ranks behind him. Heavy weapons had been left behind so with the exception of the Sergeant they were armed with bolters. Collinz himself carried his power fist and a holstered bolt pistol, neither of which was activated. Unlike the other sergeants of the 4th company Collinz did not wear the traditional red and gold cape and his black armour had few decorations of his past achievements. Only his golden Terminator honours medal hung at his waist and the three studs in his scarred forehead told of a warrior who was all business. For a hundred and fifty years he had served with the 4th company, only the Captain himself had served for longer. Collinz knew his squad was not the strongest of the 4th. He had lost five men holding a factory complex against a rebellious guard regiment a year previously, and even though he and his squad had been highly decorated for their heroic efforts he would have given all his citations to have his lost men back. Pride was not one of the virtues that a Space Marine was meant to possess, but by the Emperor he would train them and lead them harder than any in the 4th to get their reputation as the best in the company back.
The wine of the Thunderhawks engines was still dying away when a group of armed men approached them, let by a wounded and very agitated looking junior officer.
“Stay where you are sergeant. You had no clearance to board the Formidable let alone assume to have the authority to give any orders. You will leave immediately or we will be forced to disarm and contain you.” The mans voice was shaky and the sweat poured off him, adding to the blood that was soaked into his unbuttoned tunic.
The Marines of the Red Scorpions 4th company were some of the best trained warriors in the galaxy, but despite this, through his headset, Collinz heard one of his men snought of laughter. He would find out whom later on, attitudes like that had no place in his squad, whoever it was would be dealt with. The situation had to be diffused one way or another. All Collinz knew was that this was wasting time they didn’t have.
Captain Antille had gathered his most senior Sergeants around him to brief them in on what was about to happen. His men listened closely, asking only the most important of questions.
“The situation has developed into a stand off. Our fleet has the out gunned in open space, but we dare not venture into range of their planetary defence battle stations. Our task is to break this stand off with a direct boarding of the main enemy defence station and to disable it. With the change in balance during the battle, our fleet will engage and destroy the remaining enemy platforms and drive off the remaining fleet.” He then went on to detail their assault. No one interrupted him, his men just listened intently. They would need all of their concentration in the hours to come. This would not be easy; the plan that was being described to them bordered on the suicidal. They knew many of them may not be coming back at all.
Finally after much ship to ship consultation the Imperial fleet began to form up and manoeuvre. Damage control teams still crawled over most of the vast war ships and none, save the Kiss, had escaped the opening engagement intact, most having taken significant damage. The Nemesis could only make half speed after taking a torpedo to its main Ion engine section. It had actually taken two, but on impact one of the massive missiles had failed to detonate and now the ship limped forward with a two hundred meter section of missile sticking out of its hull. Along side the Ameista Star slid forward, its cavernous launch bays silent and empty as a massive internal explosion had gutted the interior of the vessel and as there was nothing the fire teams could do against a fire of that magnitude the fire had eventually burnt itself out in the vacuum of space. Finally out of the three remaining capital ships the Steel Fist from on side showed nearly no battle damage at all. Until you looked at the ships starboard side. A lance hit had struck just off centre of the armoured prow of the warship and had carved through the hull for nearly a quarter of the ships length as compartment after compartment had been blown out. The Fist had lost its torpedo launchers and half its heavy batteries and had its captain had not chosen to seal off hundreds of compartments almost immediately after impact, they could have lost the entire ship. Hundreds of crew still survived behind the sealed bulkheads, but as the atmosphere slowly leaked out few of them would survive much longer. With these mighty cruisers came over a dozen escort class vessels including eight Cobra class destroyers, four Sword class frigates and a sole surviving Firestorm class frigate. The escorts formed a screen for the three cruisers who flew in an arrowhead formation with the Scorpions Kiss in the centre.
Sergeant Valdermann felt the familiar moment of weightlessness as the Thunderhawk lifted off at combat speed. The moment they cleared the blast doors they slammed shut behind them. He knew the next time he set foot outside of his transport it would either be on the enemy stations, or oblivion. Through the cockpit glass he could see the two fleets begin to exchange their first long range shots. Lance impact on shields glowed blue-white and blossomed into silent ice cold fireballs at this range, what those close to those massive impacts felt, he did no want to know. The Scorpions Kiss was not at the forefront of this attack as it had been before. The ship was too small to make much of an impact at this range and in the presence of ships three times the size of it, as always, the Marine vessel would form the surgical scalpel that would hopefully cut the heart out of the enemy. He gripped hard as, in a series of dizzying manoeuvres the pilots sitting just in front of him brought the Thunderhawk around, not towards the battle, but back towards the hull of the Scorpions Kiss. A moment later the dull clamping noise of the two hulls meeting told him that they had landed on the Kiss. Thirty meters in front of him he saw another Thunderhawk settling down and switch off its external running lights. Around him he knew four more, loaded with the entire available fighting strength of the company, including Captain Antille himself. The trap was set. All that they needed now was a miracle.
Edesar paced the bridge. If there was anything worse than waiting, he had never encountered it in all his years. They were pushing too hard, he thought. Another system has rebelling from the light of the Emperor was nothing new, but after than initial engagement they should have held back. Waited for re-enforcements to arrive. There was no dishonour in that, they had encountered a well prepared enemy, and despite heavy losses they had driven them off back to their own world. Now they were forced into a do or die mission that bordered on the suicidal, even for the 4th. Well, duty shall be done. If this was his day, so be it, but by the Emperor he would sell their lives dear.
“Sir, battle is joined. The defence stations are online, it is as we feared: they are engaging our fleet.” Edesar broke from his thoughts, the moment had come. “Very well brother, prepare engines for flank speed, I want everything you have, and I want it the instant I say, no delay!”
“Yes Sir, engines are fully operational, you have flank speed when you want it. Engine room standing by” he added.
“Good. Signal Captain Antille that we are about to get underway. All hands stand bye. By the Emperor, see our will be done and guide our actions. For the Emperor!”
Like a black bullet, the Scorpions Kiss shot through the lines of the Imperial fleet and into the maelstrom of battle. Its massive engines accelerating it to speeds that the larger lumbering cruisers could only stare in awe at, for a moment it moved untouched by missile of shell alike, to fast for any weapon to track, or turret to target.
That was no to last however. Lance blasts crossed behind him, getting closer and closer as stunned gunners redoubled their efforts and their aim improved, and it wasn’t long before the first shell impacted brightly on the Kiss’ shields. They entered the swirling battle between the opposing fleets nimble frigate and destroyed groups. Edesar could see that the Imperial fleet was giving everything it had to hold the Rebel fleet at bay. A crippled Cobra class destroyer, in its final death throws, hurled itself into the engine block of an opposing frigate, sending both ships into oblivion in a huge explosion. Another Cobra broke an enemy frigate in half with a stunning double torpedo hit to its mid section, only to be wiped out an instant later by a huge blast from the central defence station. The blast left no debris from the destroyer; it was simply no longer there. The Scorpions Kiss was not escaping undamaged however. A lance shot from an enemy battle cruiser clipped his dorsal shielding and the energy released blew out power conduits on three decks and killed a gunnery servitor on the bridge as his station exploded around him. A stray shell that somehow passed through his shields impacted on his forward superstructure and blew a hole in his armoured hull. An enemy bomber formation was wiped out barely a kilometre from his hull by allied fighter cover, but not until three missiles had slammed into his portside armour. His heart sank as he saw Thunderhawk debris and even power armour clad bodies tumbling off through space as a result of the explosions. His men were dying; it was time to fight back.
Real Men/Women/Aliens/Heretics/Warp Spawned Filth/Big Scary Space Monsters play Battlefleet Gothic... why dont you???