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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-18-11, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Default When Only the Best will do...

This is a short story a did a long while ago. Thought I would dig it out and give it an airing on Heresy. More to follow...


“It’s the truth I tell you”, said Old Man Wilsun indignantly. Some of those that had gathered around him sniggered and one of them laughed rather too loudly for such a tense atmosphere. He quickly covered his mouth when he realised that the old man was glaring at him. Everyone knew that Old man Wilsun was not a man to be trifled with. With twenty-five years loyal service in the Imperial Guard, he was quick to anger, often resorting to violence if the mood took him.
A young Administratum clerk, who should have known better, had no such inhibitions. He nodded at the old Guardsman and grinned. “Wilsun’s been on the synth-mead again”.
“Or the solvents”, added his colleague.

The Bearded Volunteer was unusually quiet tonight and there was none of the usual hustle and bustle of a normal Friday soirée. The majority of the Inn’s regulars were staying at home; the result of the curfew put in place by the new Governor.
Unfortunately, even now, a week after the liberation, the Arbites were still rigorously enforcing the law and preventing free movement. The few drinker’s who remained, lived in the area and were only a baton swing from their front doors.
“I’ll have you know’ continued Old Man Wilson ‘that I have not had a sniff of the ‘sol for weeks. I’ve had a drink, yes I have, but I aren’t drunk, if that’s what you are inferring?”
“But Astartes Wilsun, you said they were Astartes. There are none of the Emperor’s finest here, and as far as I remember, the Guard did a perfectly good job without them”
The old man suddenly slammed his fist down, causing a few die-hard corn drinkers at the bar, to turn and stare, “They WERE here I tell you. I saw them with my own eyes. There were five of them, huge blighters with armour on and all”, he turned slightly to his left and pointed his vittle glass at a frail looking woman sitting quietly in the corner. The woman was partly hidden in the shadows and appeared to be asleep. The drink on the table in front of her looked as if it had not been touched all evening.
“They were here. Ask Ma Buxton there, she saw them too, she’ll confirm my story”.
The group turned as one, their faces full of expectation. The woman shuffled slightly and peered out at them from beneath thick-rimmed eyeglasses. She nodded slowly, tapping the rim of her drink with a long, slender finger.
“Wilsun is right’, she finally replied in a low shaky voice ‘they were here, and I also know that they were here before the liberation”. She looked at each of them in turn, daring them to challenge her.
“Can it be true?”
“Why were the Astartes here?”
The old lady smiled.
“To see me of course”

************

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-18-11, 11:17 PM
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Default Good writing

Good writing. I liked the banter. The only problem with the whole story is...there was'nt anymore to read. Adrian

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
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Originally Posted by Adrian View Post
Good writing. I liked the banter. The only problem with the whole story is...there was'nt anymore to read. Adrian
All done, but will release in stages.... !

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


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One week earlier… Day 3: Fort “Ork’s Armpit”
Hill 220, Funada Praxis.. Climate: Cold, barren, windy, chance of precipitation 26%.


“Is it dead?”
“You can never tell with these beasts”, grunted Sergeant Thorvald, as he tentatively tapped the Ork’s skull with the toe of his boot. A trickle of clear cerebral fluid began to curl from its ear and down its cheek, pooling just below its large rectangular jaw.
“Yes Brother, I can confirm that this one is definitely dead”.
Thorvald bent over, and even though the Ork was a large Nob, at least six and a half feet tall, the Marine picked it up by the remains of its uniform, and hurled it effortlessly over the cliff.
The Space Marine sergeant peered over the edge and gave a satisfied smile, “That was the closest one yet. I shot it six times and it still kept coming”.
His companion, an equally impressive Marine, whose left shoulder pad bore the symbol of the horned beast of Squad K’sootka, nodded but then stopped and slowly shook his head.
“Always aim for the head Brother Sergeant. They always go down first time’, he paused ‘Unfortunately, some of them do not know when to give up”. He stepped to his sergeant’s side, shouldered his bolter and drew his combat knife.
“Aware Sergeant, we’, he took a step forward ‘are not’, the knife flashed in his hand… ‘alone”.
The second Ork, who had been feigning death, raised its head and looked up at its enemy. In one swift, perfectly executed move, the blade flashed, severing the Ork’s windpipe and plunging it into oblivion.

They were standing in front of an ancient, weather-beaten structure, affectionately nicknamed, Fort “Ork’s Armpit” after the reek that still lingered in its corners, after its previous occupants left in a hurry. The ‘Fort’ was a small stone citadel, a relic from a bygone age, and probably built before the arrival of the Imperium. It watched the approaches to a deep valley that lead to the city, a dull grey blur, just visable in the distance. The fort consisted of a rectangular keep with a cylindrical watchtower, which was surrounded by a thick wall twice the height of a man. To the rear of the fort was a levelled area that had been cleared and chiselled flat by long dead hands. It had probably been used as a muster ground or even a landing zone… if one had a ship to land. There was only one way to get to the fort, and one way to get out; a narrow path, which led down onto a bare area of gorse, and sharp rocks. The citadel was perched on a pinnacle of rock, in a sea of forest and dominated the area for miles around.

Thorvald entered the keep through a low door and surveyed the interior of his latest command. He nodded approvingly. Squad Leader Vibald had done a very good job turning the dusty heart of the building into an inhabitable place that was fit for his Battle-Brothers. There were individual rest areas, a communal dining area with an open fire pit in its centre where water was constantly kept on the boil. There was even a small Reclusiam, where his Brothers could take solace and pray to the God-Emperor for guidance in this isolated place.
They were blessed with ample ammunition, and their rations were adequate. With his entire squad manning the walls, the infernal Greenskin’s could attack all day and all night, but would still not make the slightest inroad into their defences.

“Report”, he enquired in a clipped tone.
“Half a day, maybe less”
The Sergeant removed his helmet and ran a gauntlet through his thick black hair. A dressing covered his right eye and was now stained dark brown with dried blood. The skin around the wound was black and bruised, but was already healing well. Just before dawn, an Ork Nob in Mega armour had caught the sergeant a glancing blow with a fearsome axe. The blow would have killed a mortal man, but this Marine veteran had seen it all before and was made of much sterner stuff. He now wore the Nobz teeth around his neck as a grisly trophy and a reminder to the Ork’s that this small patch of land still belonged to the Astartes.
“Half a day you say?”
“Maybe less. I would say more like four to six hours”
“Show me”.
The sentry stepped aside and let Thorvald look through the firing aperture and out into the valley below. It was early afternoon and the clouds had pulled back to let the bright rays of the planets sun, beat down onto the surface. He could see for miles in this light, but in three to four hours time it would get dark, and if it was anything like the last two nights, the enemy would come, and then it would be knife work for sure.
“Four hours”, he muttered to himself.
Whoever or whatever had built this outpost had done their homework. It commanded the entire valley, and a much smaller force could bottle up an enemy indefinitely. If only he could have had his own heavy weapons squad with him, that would have been different. He could have held back a determined enemy until the stars went black and the air turned to ice. Unfortunately, Squad Tron with its missile-launchers, heavy-bolters and plasma guns, was sitting at full readiness on the Shield of Forseti, at high anchor two hundred miles above them.
The only heavy weapons in the valley at this point in time, were of xenos manufacture and definitely hostile. There were Ork Biggunz, Wartraks and armour, and as each minute passed, they got closer and closer to the fort. Soon, probably around dusk, they would be in range and then…
Thorvald watched the scene below with mild amusement. On the outpost hill it was bare rock and tufts of thick-leaved plants. Below in the valley, there were gorse bushes and fields of thorns, fissures and bubbling brooks. The Ork’s were still advancing, but at a mercifully slow pace. He could see Runtherdz urging on lines of small Gretchin and their even smaller cousins, the unfortunate Snotlings. They were all straining on the ends of long ropes that were attached to crudely made artillery pieces and multi-barrelled Rokitt-Launcers. Behind them in dense packs, like a ripple of green and brown smoke were Ork foot soldiers and in the dark areas under the trees there were the silhouettes of tanks and armoured vehicles.
Thorvald turned to another Marine who was sitting in the far corner behind a compact vox-set.
“Any news?”
The operator shook his head forlornly, “Nothing but static Brother Sergeant. These mountains are playing merry hell with the reception”.
“He’ll come’, said Thorvald enthusiastically ‘it’s an important mission. He’ll come and then we can celebrate properly”.
The marines broke into grins and the veteran sergeant felt a flush of relief course throughout his body, as the stress of two days of almost constant combat, fluttered away in an instant.
He readjusted his Magnoculars and scanned the distant horizon. Beyond the forests and ridge of low hills, he could just make out the spires and towers of the distant city. A brown heat haze shimmered above it like a living thing, shuddering every-so-often, as invisible projectiles broke through its bonds and hammered into the habitable areas. The deep base rumblings of the aerial assault could be felt beneath his feet, even from this distance. Several spirals of black smoke curled upwards; marking directs hits on buildings behind the city walls.
Thorvald’s feeling of relief was short-lived...

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


Check out my 40K 'Epic' about the Hunted verses the Inquisition: https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...98#post2184698


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“Here they come again”, a distant voice bellowed and almost immediately three to four Bolters opened fire. Thorvald placed his helmet back on, and after checking the seals were correct, he made his way downstairs and out to the perimeter wall.
Lines of Ork’s were advancing up the hill with their usual show of noise and bravado. There must have been at least a hundred of them in this latest wave, heavily-armed Boyz lead by a red-painted Killa-Kan with a black banner embellished with a white skull and crossbones.

This should be interesting

Thorvald watched the small Dreadnought advance towards them, lurching and bobbing like an armoured drunk. A group of large Ork’s manned with flamers and archaic incendiary grenades, gathered around it, like fussy carers. Behind them was a mass of Boyz intent on mischief. Thorvald knew that if they got anywhere near the forts crumbling walls, they would cause them a few problems.
He clicked on the command channel.

+ Target the Killa-Kan first and then pick off the flamers. Brothers Freyvid and Gizur close in on me. We will form the reserve and plug any gaps. All clear? +

There was a series of affirmatives as each Marine confirmed his orders. Inside Thorvald’s visor, a row of green helmet symbol’s flashed READY

+ For the Emperor +

The tide of Ork’s struck first, pummelling the outer wall with a sheet of solid shot and rockets. The Killa-Kan went left and skirted the keep and watchtower. It was coming around on the right flank, attempting to split the marine forces in two. A group of large brutes with close-combat weapons spread out in front of it, shouting and screaming insults, and all scrumming for a position at the front.
Hidden amongst them were six to seven smaller Ork’s carrying grappling hooks and dragging a long ladder. Within seconds they had scrambled up to the base of the tower and secured ropes to the lip of the firing aperture. Like large insects, they scaled the walls as if they were actually part of the smooth surface itself. The ladder followed behind and a group of Gretchin’s leapt up its rungs like maddened things.
Brother Munin was huddled over his vox-box and was suddenly engulfed in a fireball. He staggered backwards against the far wall, bringing his bolter up into his shoulder and letting loose a long burst of rounds. The vox exploded, ripping apart the leading Gretchin and eviscerating two or three more.
Munin rammed home a second magazine, and with his armour blackened and still smouldering, he stepped forward, placed the barrel of his bolt gun in one of the attacker’s mouths and pulled the trigger.
Squad Leader Vibald unexpectedly appeared at his shoulder, a flash of bright armour and a flurry of oath papers. He held a humming power sword in his right hand and a bolt pistol in the other. Dark Ork blood steamed lazily from the blade.
Screaming like a daemonic beast, he ploughed into the stunned attackers, hacking and stabbing and using his vast bulk to bowl the remaining enemy back out through the aperture. He let off a long burst of bolter rounds, reducing the remaining attackers into a bloody jumble of flesh and bones. The last Gretchin, a painfully emaciated rat-like animal, squealed pitifully and went down on its knees, rocking back and forth like a small child’s toy. It rubbed its hands together before letting out a long cry of frustration. Munin brought his boot down hard and crushed the Gretchin’s skull.

+ This is not even good sport +

Vibald nodded his respects and then leapt back down the spiral staircase to join his brothers outside. This battle was not over yet and he more of the cursed enemy to eliminate.
At the bottom of the tower and camouflaged from view, was a small sally port. The Marines had used this successfully before, and they had caught the Greenskin’s out several times. Vibald knew that he needed to clear the base of the tower and clear the remaining enemy away from it, before they managed to get around to the rear. The defences were stretched here. A solitary Marine covered this flank and he was providing support fire to his comrades in the compound.

Vibald came face to face with the Killa-Kan.

A large Stormboyz smashed a crude mace into the side of his helmet and fired an antiquated snub gun into his chest, but the Marine squad leader’s momentum kept him going. He shrugged off the attacks and stabbed backwards, taking the Ork’s leg off at the knee and then swung left and sliced his sword across the large Ork’s throat.
The Killa-Kan launched its own attack, bringing its large circular saw blade around in a wide arc. Crudely-forged Ork steel met Mechanicum ceremite plate in a burst of sparks and a screech of tormented metal. Vibald stumbled and fell backwards, with a bright silver scar scoured across his shoulder guard. His power sword catapulted off to one side, clipping the tower wall and sending up a spray of stone chippings. He went down on one knee and groped frantically for it as the dreadnought brought its secondary weapon to bear. He watched as time stood still, as an oil-soaked power claw painted in yellow and black hazard markings swung around. Vibald was a fraction of a second too late, and before his hand met the swords hilt, the claw, like the appendage of some primeval aquatic beast, clamped shut on his lower arm.

Brother Gizur was always dependable and steadfast in battle. He was also one of those Marines that was always in the right place at the right time.
Intent on removing the Marine’s arm, the Killa-Kan’s pilot never saw the second shadow appear from the sally port. If it did, it would have been too late anyway. As the pilot opened its mouth to laugh, the barrel of a bolt pistol was forced in through its open visor.

With the loss of their Dreadnought, the Ork’s faded away.

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


Check out my 40K 'Epic' about the Hunted verses the Inquisition: https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...98#post2184698


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Thorvald raised his head and looked down into the valley.
The front rank of Ork’s had disappeared. What remained was a tangled mass of bodies and twitching limbs coated in foul Ork blood. One or two were wounded and they rocked from side to side, wracked with pain. A single Ork managed to get to its feet before keeling over again, smashing its face into the hard ground with a sickening crunch. Its back was a mangled mass of torn flesh and bone where a bolter round had exploded.
A layer of thin white smoke hung to the ground like a cold winter frost, turning the battlefield into an eerie gothic landscape.
Other Ork's, hidden on the fringes, began to move forward again. Some of them stopped and could be seen were looking over to the left. Many were gesticulating with their weapons and fists, cursing and shouting foul obscenities. A roar went up from a thousand guttural throats.
There was a second rip of thunder and a wide arc of bright yellow flame. A large gap appeared in the second and third ranks as Ork bodies were reduced to bloody masses of meat and gore.

+ Homstein’s Assault Cannon +

“They are here!” came the shout that Thorvald had been waiting for, for three days.
A huge marine with a camouflaged cape flowing from his shoulders, leapt in amongst them, swinging a power sword above his head. He was not wearing his helmet and his long fair hair flowed behind him, like the mane of a wild animal. His broad face was open and smiling and he stared at his astonished brothers through deep blue eyes.
A second marine was more careful and approached the outer perimeter at a slow trot. Behind him was a third marine completely covered from head to toe in a disruptive material that distorted the shape of his huge frame. Between them was a large wooden crate suspended beneath a long wooden pole.

Thorvald punched a fist into the air and then slapped the shoulder pad of the lead marine.
“Utgard, you always did like a grand entrance you over-fed thespian”. The first marine gripped his offered hand.
“I thought you needed a bit of help”
“Better late than never I suppose”. They looked back as the crate was reverently placed down in front of them.
“Finally”, sighed Thorvald.
“It took longer than I anticipated. Do you forgive me brother?” The marines embraced and laughed out loud.
A forth marine leapt over the wall and landed heavily. He curled into a ball and rolled forward twice before standing up with his arms splayed out wide.
“Tom fool Hofud”, said Thovald and then noticed that the marine had a hand swathed in a thick field dressing.
“A plasma grenade’, Hofud offered in reply ‘took two of my fingers off. It hurts like hell; I can tell you that for nothing”
“Brothers!’ roared Gizur ‘may I remind you that we have a battle to fight here”. As if on cue he began firing his bolter.
The Assault cannon opened up again, but this time it was much closer. The two marines with the crate picked it back up and carried on across the small open space and away from the buildings.
A voice crackled across their vox channel

+ One minute. One minute. Clear the landing zone +

Tomstein backed into the compound still firing his deadly weapon. Its high-velocity solid slug projectile’s were decimating the Ork’s who were venturing forward again.
The sky went dark and as a unit, the Marines looked up.
Coming in fast was the familiar sight of a Space Marine Thunderhawk.

+ Heads Down Brothers, we are coming in for a strafing run +

The long rectangular Gunship roared overhead releasing two Hellstrike missiles into the massed enemy ranks. Before they had even struck, four twin-linked heavy bolters, a twin-linked Lascannon and a Turbo laser added their chorus in a crescendo of fire and destruction that lit up the hilltop fort for miles around.

* * *

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


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The Retribution-Class warship, Shield of Forseti, was circling in high orbit. Though it was a relic from ancient times, built in the Martian shipyards, and battered and bruised from innumerable actions, it was still a formidable ship of the line. It also served as the flag ship for a company of Space Marines en route to the Hinds System.
The bridge thronged with activity, with hundreds of Navy and Administratum personal two-ing and fro-ing about their business. Seated in a great throne of black narnwood and silver, sat Officer of the Watch, Tiberius Hiberion. He peered, half-lidded through glazed eyes, at a large hololithic of the planet below. Lines of symbols moved continuously across its base. These were routine updates and data lines that no one paid much attention to. After all, the assault had not begun, and nothing would begin to happen in earnest for a while yet.
Hiberion tuned slightly in his chair as a junior grade gunnery officer passed on Lance updates, and target co-ordinates. As he turned, a small green icon flashed up in the middle of a landmass on the third continent in the northern hemisphere. A brace of Naval officers scratched their heads or shrugged their shoulders and muttered curses and questions. As they did so, a Space Marine wearing the white power armour of an Apothecary leant almost casually forward and began tapping in a series of numbers onto a keypad. The green icon flickered and then disappeared causing even more consternation. The Apothecary looked furtively to the left and then the right, before stepping backwards into the shadows of an alcove.

* * *

In a vortex of hot exhaust fumes and billowing dust, the gigantic Thunderhawk gunship came down like a grotesquely bloated insect, before landing on its long skids. The gunship dwarfed the landing area and the cockpit almost touched the observation tower. The two pilots could be clearly seen craning their heads left and right.
The rear ramp dropped, and a loadmaster wearing a tight-fitting flight suit waved over the marines that were carrying the crate.

Rough finished breaches were slammed shut, as high explosive rounds were slotted into place ready for the order to fire.
The Ork Gunzboss was a fat bag of pulsating flab, with an oversized head, “Cos of all de angles me haz to werk out”. Wearing the purple and green of the Bosses own retinue, he was an Ork of some importance. His time had finally come, and he could barely hold back his excitement. He stood on an upturned ammo crate and peered up at the hill fort through a pair of Hoomie ‘looky things’. Even from this distance, the Thunderhawk looked impressive, thought the Gunzboss, it would make an even better funeral pyre.
“Point all de gunz at dat Hoomie ship’, he shouted ‘and wen I say Shoot, you all shoot der gunz”. There was a flurry of activity as the artillery pieces were finally pushed into position. Each crew sounded off when they were ready and a small brass band, made up of six snotlings with an assortment of musical instruments, broke out into an Ork Polka.

+ That’s all of them Chief + clicked Utgard, helping Homstein up the ramp with his massive Assault cannon. He checked around the ship, one last time, making sure that nothing had been left behind. When he was happy, he gave a thumb up sign… and smiled.

“Reddy you ‘eathens. Wait fer it’, grinned the Ork Gunzboss. He was relishing his part in the Big Plan, loving his moment of glory. When he gave the orders, the Hoomie ship would be destroyed and the Warboss would personally thank him for his part in the great victory.
‘Reddy Boyz… Sh…”.

It was nearly dusk and the sun was going down in the west, turning the sky a dark red and yellow. The night would be cold, with the chance of a light frost in the early hours. The sky suddenly was suddenly lit up by thousands of pinpricks of light, as craft of every shape and size roared in from beyond the mountains. Ahead of them the forests erupted in a solid wall of flame and debris as the aerial bombardment began.

The liberation of Funada Praxis had begun.

The Gunzboss stared up in disbelief as the heavens opened up, split apart by a weapon of incredible destruction. He tried to scream an order but his head vaporised and the area where he was standing was enveloped in a beam of super-heated electrons. Every Ork, snotling, and Gretchin, within two miles of the strike was reduced to their component parts. Every vehicle and weapon melted into steams of liquid metal. For the next hundred years, the Ork atoms would form part of the very air that was breathed on Funada Praxis.
Fort “Ork’s Armpit”, Hill designation: 202; a monument to war that had stood for a thousand years, erupted in a thunderclap of rock and dust.
Never again would a friend or enemy use it to watch over the valley or protect the approaches to the city. A storm was coming, the likes of which the inhabitants and invaders had never seen. Tonight, and over the next two days, one hundred thousand Ork's and their smaller cousins would die. The Imperial Guard was coming… and he was in no mood for niceties.

And… if a casual onlooker looked very carefully, they would have seen the dark shape of a Thunderhawk souring upwards into the low clouds, just as hundreds of drop ships, escorted by swarms of fighters and bombers, disgorged their cargos of troops and armoured vehicles.

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


Check out my 40K 'Epic' about the Hunted verses the Inquisition: https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...98#post2184698


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Captain Vedmundr shook his head and muttered a curse as he studied the contents of the data-slate. At one point he shrugged his massive shoulders and closed his eyes almost in despair. His pace did not falter for a second, as he made his way along the dimly lit corridors of the habitation decks.
Menials and Naval crew gave him a wide berth, sensing his increasingly belligerent mood.
He walked this route twice a day, and could do it with his eyes closed. Every morning and every afternoon, after a light snack and a mug of strong caffeine, he would make his way from his dormitory to the Comminus Pulvis, the company’s battle cages and carry out his ritual workouts, before moving on to matters of the day. In the morning he would usually have a light session of sparring, followed by weapons drill and cleaning, and in the afternoons, The Emperor Wills it, simulated combat scenarios or a multiple attack simulations, depending on his duties. Today he would go toe to toe with a combat servitor, and secretly relished the idea of destroying its mechanisms and pulverising it into scrap. The Master of the Forge would curse him of course, but what did one expect from a man who loved machines more than he loved his fellow man.
He was only wearing a light robe today, with a towel slung over one shoulder,
Two paces behind him was his bodyguard and mentor, the tall brooding form of a battle-brother in Mark 6 ‘Corvus’ armour. Under one arm, he carried the red-painted helmet of a veteran sergeant. The armour was a relic from a bygone age, lovingly cared for over the centuries by the Chapters most senior Artificers. The man inside the armour, a white-haired behemoth, bore the scars and grafts of a thousand battles and was probably three to four hundred years old. A blue Imperial Aquilla tattoo was etched onto the left side of his craggy face and three loyalty studs were set in a creased brow. He wore a grin that looked as much out of place as his suit of armour.
“Squad!” came a deep baritone voice followed by a loud clump, as boots slammed down onto the metallic deck.
Vedmundr ground slowly to a halt and looked up. The latest fleet communiqués would have to wait… for a moment, while he dealt with this latest… incident.
A squad of ten Marines were lined up along one wall like marble statues.
The first thing the Captain noted was that they were in full battle armour. The second poignant thing was that the armour was highly polished, complete with awards and medals. The third thing, the most noticeable of all, was that several of them bore wounds… unreported wounds.
“Squad Thorvald, requesting your permission to carry on, Brother Captain”.
Vedmundr passed the slate back to the veteran marine and brought himself up to his full height. With their Imperator armour and ceremonial cloaks, the squad looked very impressive, but the Company Captain still stood at least a foot taller than them and was almost as broad. He looked at the squad leader, and then at the wound to his face. A row of sutures lined its length, and the bruising had turned to a sickly yellow and light brown. The Captain noticed that one of the men’s arms was in a sling and another had a hand swathed in bandages.

Vedmundr raised an eyebrow, his forehead furrowed.
“What in the Emperor’s name has happened to your squad, sergeant?”
Thorvald gave a slight shrug of the shoulders and grinned.
“I work my men hard, Brother Captain. We like our exercises to be… as realistic as possible”. The veteran marine behind Vedmundr suddenly coughed. The captain turned. If it had been a split second earlier, he would have caught the old marine smiling.
“Have you a malaise sergeant Yorik?”
“Phlegm, sir, damn phlegm. An unfortunate consequence of over-exposure to toxic dust on Hingham’s World. Now if I find some time between my duties, I might tell you about that…”
“I think you should get the Apothecary to check it out, just in case’, Vedmundr interrupted, he turned back to the squad ‘Yes, yes of course sergeant Thorvald’, he paused, looked the squad over one more time and turned to go ‘you may carry on, sergeant”.
Vedmundr called the old marine over and took back the data-slate. He glanced back at the squad, who remained at attention, immobile. The captain looked distant, distracted almost, and his mind appeared elsewhere. He unconsciously scratched the side of his face and tapped the date-slate against the side of his leg. He faced Thorvald.
“There have been’, he said matter-of-factly ‘unconfirmed reports, of military activity on Funada Praxis, prior to the main assault by our Liberation forces. Have you heard these… rumours sergeant?”
Thorvald shrugged again “I Can’t say that I have, Brother Captain. But you know what idle men are like, they…”
“And reports of Astartes in the City itself?”
“No Brother Captain, I… we know nothing about that either”. The Captain eyed the group suspiciously and pointed at Hufud’s hand.
“Your hand, are the injuries bad?”
“I have lost two fingers, Brother Captain’, he looked sheepishly at the marine next to him ‘a momentary lapse of concentration with the Gladius. A minor inconvenience… sir”.
“Indeed. I hope you will be fully fit soon. We are leaving this system within the next few days and I want you all ready for immediate re-deployment”.
Thorvald beamed a smile “We will be ready’, and then he hesitated for a second ‘Er, Captain, could you join me on the mess deck. I have something to show you”.
The Captain turned to the veteran Yorik, who merely shrugged his shoulders.
“It seems my training must wait”
“It should not take long, Brother Captain”.

Thorvald lead the way, with the Captain a pace behind. Yorik remained in the corridor as the rest of the squad crowded in around him.

The glow-globes came on and the Sixth Company mess hall was illuminated in bright light. On either side of the central aisle was a row of fifty marines, dressed for full parade. In the centre was a table, and on top of the table was a large silver dome. Two Neophytes’ in dark fatigues, hovered either side of it, their heads bowed in reverence.
Vedmundr found himself drawn to the silver dome. As he approached, the Neophyte’s lifted up its lid before backing away into the shadows.
Resplendent in the Chapters colours, was an accurate representation of a Thunderhawk gunship.
“What the…?”
“It’s to a one in twenty scale, Captain”.
Vedmundr nodded his head and glanced at Thorvald, who had moved up alongside him.
“I have only seen the likes of this in one place… “
“It is indeed a work of art”, added Thorvald.
“May I?” asked the Captain.
Thorvald nodded “Be our guest”.
Just below the right side of the Thunderhawk’s cockpit was a silver Aquilla. Vedmundr stuck his right index finger between the eagle’s heads. The Aquilla split apart to reveal a soft brown interior, laced with streaks of white and red. The captain dug deep and recovered a large lump of the ships interior. With reverence, he placed his finger in his mouth and closed his eyes.
“Royal Icing, Funada Génoise filling with a hint of Holy Crescent Cognac I believe”. He turned to the sergeant ‘There’s only one place in the entire system that makes cakes like this”
“We were in the vicinity, we could not resist it”
“Ma Buxton’s Cake Emporium on Funada Praxis?”
“None other”
“How did you know?”
“We are the reconnaissance Squad; it is our job to know Brother Captain”
The Captain turned to the assembled men and nodded gratefully.
“Well, what can I say?”
“Let’s hear it for Captain Vedmundr”
“Happy Birthday, Brother Captain!”

* * *

"Death occurs when a lethal projectile comes together in time and space with a suitable target, in the absence of appropriate armour or protection”


Check out my 40K 'Epic' about the Hunted verses the Inquisition: https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...98#post2184698

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