Krassus, Greiner, Thede, Caul, Keldor, LaVeer, and Robickai; You sit within one of two cargo haulers driving to a staging post some three hundred miles to the east of port city Laviax. You are part of a thirty strong defence force squad that has just finished its indoctrination for duty. Some of you have more time than your fellows, and few of you really know each other to well, but you have spend the last month training together so you are no stranger to one another.
No one really knows what to make of the word that has been spreading. Of invading aliens that have ransacked the other worlds in the system, the preachers and abbots claim these monsters, these Orks, are dumb brutes that will be repelled with relative ease. However the giant mass hanging in the nights sky makes you think.
If some of you look up into the dark sky, both haulers having no roof, you would see what appears to be shooting stars and blinking lights. What these are, you can only guess; perhaps those offworld soldiers the sergeants have disparagingly mentioned before, or perhaps it was the Orks or something.
Without warning, a high pitched squeal breaks up the sound of the hauler engines moments before the cab of the lead vehicle bursts into flames. With no warning or time to react, the second hauler slams into the first and kills three of the passengers within.
Occupants of both vehicles stumble out the wrecked transports, some to dazed to really do anything while others desperately look for a source of the noise. Over the sound of fire, you hear the growl of an engine, the whooping of occupants, and then the whizzing of bullets. Two more of the squad are torn to shreds by bullet fire, forcing the rest of you to run in a panic. You all, more or less, run in the same direction, the outpost that was already in sight, less than half a mile from where you are now.
[Which of the transports were you in? How do you react to whats going on?]
Tobias and Elias; Another world, another war. Thats how some of the regiment looked at it. But not so much you, for you this was another chance to kill some aliens and be a hero to the locals. Right now you sit in one of the grav couches within your valkyrie, the interior lights bathing your ten man squad in ruddy red light. Sergeant Elyas chews on his half smoked cigar, glaring at the closed door that would lead to the cockpit. He wasn't particularly angry at the pilot, just the fact that he and his squad had drawn the short straw for a recon job into the initial drop sites of the Orks.
The man hauled himself up from his couch, spitting the cigar to the ground and opening his mouth to say something, perhaps restate the squads mission or crack wise at the higher ups. The man never gets a chance to do so however, as the valkyrie banks sharply and throws the man from his feet. Those on the left look out the viewholes in time to see a pair of missiles racing past the transport on dirty trails of fire.
"Fraggin' hell, where did the greenies come from!" Someone yells as the transport does a roll and bullets rattle off the hull. "Who cares, everyone out now!" Elyas growls, stumbling to the back hatch and slamming a gloved fist into the opening rune. The howl of the wind envelopes the transport cabin, and behind the valk an Ork dakkajet opens fire with close to half a dozen hull mounted guns. Bullets tear into the cabin, shredding Elyas and two others from within their seats. Another shot punched straight through the door separating the cockpit and cabin. Without warning the valkyrie sharply tilts down in a dive.
[Get out of your restraints and out of this thing while you can! Your eight thousand feet in the air at this point, but you won't remain there for long.]
Gervas; It has been thirty hours since you made planetfall on Prolial Prime, traveling West to the port city of Laviax. In the hour following your crash landing, you were forced to do some things that ate at your pride and the things you had been taught by the crusades chaplain. Before leaving the burning wreck you searched for the remains of your brothers.
Ultimately your search had not been in vain, you pulled the remains of two from the wrecked lander. There was initiate Veldir, a brother only a few years your senior and initiate Walsh, the squads second-most senior member. It killed you, but with your bolter out of ammo and bolt pistol on its last clip, you were forced to take their spares.
Trying to block out the pain of what you had been forced to do, you grit your teeth and plant on foot in front of another. Your armours systems try to bring up warning runes to indicate damage both to your war plate and you, but like before you blink them down in an attempt to ignore them. In the distance of the night, you see the outline of an outpost on the horizon, and an explosion near to that.
[Even though you've been ignoring your armours warnings and diagnostics, you know your leg was broken and your plate damaged in two locations. Overall your armour has suffered a fourteen percent drop in power, though it appears to be holding steady.
Checking the ammo counter on your bolter, and knowing that you have a mere two reloads after it, its time to make way towards the explosion and find out what the greenskins are likely up to.]
The day had finally come. During their short training, it had seemed so unreal, and unlikely. As if everyone would've gone home after the last week, having made new friends and being in better shape than ever before. This morning though, the final instructions were given and everyone had taken place in one of the two haulers. Zachariah was seated in the rear vehicle, which had made him feel slightly safer. He had sat silent the entire journey, while some had confindently boasted, and others had nervously cracked jokes to break the tension. He had tried to count down the minutes, estimating when they would arive at their destination, as a way of keeping his mind from thinking what would happen when they'd get there.
Then, in a moment of utter chaos, he was jerked around in the cabin, for the first time glad he was wearing his helmet as his head had bumped into things he figured might have cracked his skull otherwise. Confused, he had clambered out of the hauler after some others had gone before him. For only a couple of seconds, it had been as if only they were there, with a vehicle that had suddenly stopped, for no apparent reason. Bullets suddenly pinged off the metal body of the hauler, some punching holes through. Others found their mark, and pierced the flesh of Zach's comrades, blood exploding from where the bullets emerged again. The sight of it was unreal, pathetic even. Men had stood there, now reduced to fleshy sacks of ruptured organs and splintered bones, spilling their fluid contents in the dirt.
"We're under attack." Zach said, to assure himself of what he just witnessed. Most people were already running in a panicked frenzy towards the outpost, but some were still standing in the same dream Zach had just awoken from. And when he finally realised what he just said, he repeated, panicked, at the top of his voice, "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!"
Dazed and Dangerous
Dominous "Grease" Krassus, a man with little to live for but with too much grit, pride, and self-respect to go quietly into the night. She wouldn't want him too go quiet either, she would kick his ass from beyond the grave. The PDF was the answer for him now, at least she could look on him doing something useful and not moping in auto-shop or driving on patrols for the law enforcement. He didn't bother making any attachments with his fellows, it wouldn't matter if they all died. With that mind set, training was over and done almost as if it had been a day rather than a month, he found it best to drone through the bullshit of all the training just to get it over with, the Imperial Creed meant little to him, and life had proven that to him from day one. Now he was on the road, with a bunch of fresh and old faces, most likely to face death for someone else's causes, but he carried his own with him.
The wind was cold and biting as he stood in the bed of the cargo hauler, the front most one in the caravan, toting his high caliber Heavy stubber on its fold-able tripod mount, he was aiming it forward, his ammo box filled with a mix of standard rounds and tracers as he scanned the road ahead of the hauler. With the wind in his face he tipped his head down and pulled out his locket and opened it, just to see her face again in case death came sooner than he expected, he briefly touched the bit of hair taped to the inside, its velvety silver touch brought back memories and he cracked the tiniest almost unnoticeable smiled on his scarred and hairy face, then he flipped it closed and reality came back. He looked back briefly at the rest of the PDF with him in the Hauler, a mixed lot, none of them having the slightest clue as to the gravity of the situation. Dom may not know anything of the threat either, but one thing was clear for him his whole life, the establishment lied, always. This threat was far more dire than they had been told, but in the end it didn't matter much to him.
He cocked his Stubber, just taking a moment to make sure it was in order, then he heard...no... felt the tell tale whizzing of bullets flying past, years of dealing with gangers in Law Enforcement taught him those signs well. The bullets missed him by millimeters, which was lucky for him because these cheap flak vests were worse than the body armor he had on the force. The engine caught fire and the hauler rolled to a stop as fellow passengers were torn apart by the onslaught of bullets. "Ah Fuu-" He barely had time to curse as the Haulers behind his collided with his and sent him flying with his stubber to the side of the road, rolling down the slight slope and landing in the brush, with the stubber landing on top of him knocking the wind from him.
He heard a racous engine and a mob of weird alien laughter as he got to his knees, keeping low through the continued gun fire. The bastards were being torn apart, they needed to regroup and he need to find a place to give them some cover fire. "Bloody fuckin' hell...,"He groaned as he got to his knees and picked up the Heavy stubber, putting its bracing sling over his shoulder as he made his way away from the road toward cover of some rocks,"Get the fuck over here!" he shouted as he began to fire bursts toward the oncoming enemy vehicle, seeing the men begin to make their way in his direction, they looked confused and panicked, and to be honest he was anxious too.
Tobias had just finished connecting his rebreather to his helmet, giving the tube a quick tug to make sure it was securely fastened in place. He slid a finger over the side of his helmet, scrolling through a list of information dancing over his visor. He adjusted the reticule to his liking, checked the altitude meter, oxygen levels, and glanced over the mission objectives one more time.
‘Recon, recon, recon…..’ He said out loud. He was sitting across from the Sergeant who was still chewing on the remaining half of his cigar and glaring towards the cockpit.
‘It’s not too bad Sarge,’ he began, ‘Maybe we’ll get the chance to kill an Ork before anyone else in the 173rd. Then we’ll have bragging rights, or more bragging rights, rather.’
The sour Sergeant didn’t seem to hear him.
His older brother sat by his side, getting ready as well.
‘Imagine when we bring him back Greenskin trophies.’
Even without addressing Elias, everyone in the squad knew that Tobias was speaking of the pair’s father. Tobias gently grazed his fingers over the smooth wooden handle of his father’s gift. The sawed-off was in it’s holster, fastened to the thigh of his right pant leg. He didn’t always like carrying the extra slugs around for it, but the extra pride in his step they provided was well worth it, to him. He would often toss them around in his hands when he was bored.
'Stay focussed,' Elias said, 'or else you'll be a trophy.'
‘I already am.’ He said with a grin under his rebreather. ‘I’m an Elysian trophy.’
His ear flared up in pain with a smack from Elias to the side of his pressure helmet.
‘Don’t be jealous…’ mumbled Tobias as Sergeant Elyas spat the rest of his cigar to the decking and stood up to say something. He never got the chance to though, the Valkyrie violently shaking the moment he had opened his mouth. The only syllable he had pronounced was drowned out from cargo shaking and engine straining.
He saw the quick pace of missile trails outside the view ports, the bright fires of their burning propellant zipping in and out of view. As the Sergeant stumbled past him on the deck towards the rear hatch, Tobias was already double checking his chute equipment. He pulled his lasgun off of the rack above him, it’s power pack already loaded into the receiver, and waited for the imminent commands for a drop.
"Fraggin' hell, where did the greenies come from!" Someone shouted.
"Who cares, everyone out now!" said the Sergeant, just before slamming his fist into the opening rune.
Tobias tucked the Accatran lasgun tightly to his chest as the wind filled the hull. His head turned sharply at a large object in the air behind them. Looking past his brother, his eyes went wide with fear and surprise.
That fear and surprise were the last things three of his comrades felt… aside from maybe a split second of unbelievable pain as their bodies were torn to pieces, blood flying through the cabin, speckling Tobias’s uniform. Most of it though, and the rest of their bodies, instantly vanished through the rear hatch out into the air somewhere. His sergeant, standing up and closest to the edge, was among those cut to ribbons. Tobias barely had any time to take in the visuals of the fighter craft pounding the Valkyries hull with gunfire. The Valkyrie banked hard and began to roll.
Suddenly, despite the rush of noise and chaos, all Tobias could hear was his slow, heavy breathing. He had done countless drops before. They had always been the same, just like the last. There would be no formal preparation this time. No gear checks. No line up. No pats on the backs or shoulders. He saw Elias run in front of him, casting a look back at Tobias before doing so. Tobias made to run after him, but found his feet connecting with the wall as the Valkyrie continued to spin out of control. Various small objects fell from what was now the ceiling and flew out of the rear hatch in front of him. He charged forward as best he could, and threw himself out into the air. It was by far the least controlled dive he had ever made. His visor told him he was about 8000 feet up. He struggled to find his squad mates below him as he plummeted. He couldn’t keep his eyes from scanning the air and trying to see the Ork fighters as well. All he could do was let the wind take him.
I kept my eyes just above the wall of the cargo hauler, where the sky appeared. The rocking of the transport and the sight of the sky was soothing. I had been through training and indoctrination a few times at this point. The Imperium was nothing if thorough in ensuring their citizens were willing to charge into danger for the greater body. The trouble was that this had given me an insight. They were liars. Every commander who stood before you telling you how you were the backbone of the Imperium, every abbot who proclaimed them as the might of the Emperor and assured them nothing could stand against them, all of them liars. Some of these men with me had seen to many summers, or too few. Many of them were conscripts, children who had only the other day been taught how to fight. I would have pitied them, but I scarcely knew better than them. I had fought rebellions before, grappled with my fellow man and killed him before he killed me, but xenos? Holy Terra I had no idea what they might be like. Hopefully they died to las-rounds the same as humans, else we were all doomed.
I tilted my neck and heard an audible crack, a release of tension. I needed to put on my sea-face. I noticed it when I was small, everyone had a face they wore at sea and it protected them like armour. If they didn’t all pull together, then the whole trip would be a failure or worse. In a squall, if everyone didn’t do exactly as they needed to, they could all die. My breathing slowed and I could feel my anxious heart beat more steadily. I could feel everything coming into sharp focus around me. My lascarbine felt more weighty and substantive. I could feel where the fibres of my uniform caress the hairs on my chest. I heard the whine of the engine clearer, the mutterings of those around me. I heard something click shut, then a high-pitched whine. My eyes snapped open and the transport around me resolved itself in crystal clarity. For a moment, the world was silent. Then, it burst into flames.
I was in the middle of the transport. Flames exploded from the driver’s compartment and scorched the closest men. Then the hauler just behind us crumpled the rear and three men with it. We piled out of the wrecks as fast as we could. Then the bullets started flying and I dimly heard the screams of dying. The squall had hit and it had hit hard. There was no fighting this, not with just over two dozen recruits. We had to make it to the outpost. With any luck, we’d be able to weather the storm there, with support. A man screamed next to me “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”. I clipped the back of his head with my palm to shut him up.
“Yes, now haul ass so they don’t find you and kill you.” Men were running already panicked. “Everybody, make for the outpost!” I called sprinting to the middle of the crowd. “Stay together!”
Most of these people had never heard the steady din of gunfire and it spooked them. I felt fear rise within me, they cold breath of death on the back of my neck. If we ran and stayed together we might stay alive. I pushed the fear into my legs and heart. The fear spurred me on, forced my blood to pump quicker, my legs to burn harder and my brain to work faster. I gripped my las-carbine harder and stayed in the middle of the group. If we ran into an ambush, the outer rim would fall first and give the rest of us a chance to respond. I saw the man with the heavy stubber, Dom I think his name was, fire into the attacking xeno vehicles fruitlessly. “Run you fool, there’s no fighting these things here.” I yelled as I breezed past him. If he wanted to stay and sell his life for us, I didn’t care. This wasn’t a fight we could win, only one we could survive…
I am alone.
In the hours since the first drop of orkish blood was shed in this system by Templar wrath, I have borne witness as my squad brothers bled and died around me. Each of their ends is etched into my memories, the righteous fury of their defiance to the last breath a burning pride deep within my chest.
Throne of Terra, Leoric was laughing across the squad vox as he killed the xenos filth that crowded into their makeshift dropship. He killed six of the seven that bore him down with the wickedly hooked boarding pikes punched through his battleplate. I caught a glimpse between thrusts of my chainblade as he gained his feet one last time before his skull disappeared when the remaining ork shot him point blank in the faceplate with the ugly amalgamation of mismatched parts that had no right to be called a weapon. His signifying rune went grey at the corner of my vision even before his headless corpse disappeared under the seething wave of green flesh. Such a noble warrior's death.
The grey runes of the dead had long outnumbered the living by that time.
I do not even attempt to look for his body now, Walsh had sealed and vented the entire rear compartment of shrieking xenos into the cold of the void before the three of us had cut our way to the greenskined pilots in the craft’s forequarters.
It is Veldir’s body that I find first.
He was my senior by but a scant handful of years, close enough in the terms of our Order as to have come from the same womb. We have stood against one another with unchecked enmity in the training cages, and back to back on the field of battle with absolute faith in the other’s bolter and blade. If I were to pull the memory from my mind I could see the fiery humour tracing his shaven features, his dark eyes watching me across the practice range. He was always the better shot, which makes what I must do all the more weight upon my pride.
The jagged, twisted metal of the wrecked craft ticks and pings as it cools in the air of this desolate world. I snarl, ignoring the sharp pain of broken bone that makes up my left leg, as I heave against the weight of the debris to finally free my brother’s body.
Or, what is left of his body. His entire right side is a broken ruin of ragged strips of roasted flesh and shattered black armour.
I cannot help but smile behind my dark faceplate as I see what is locked in his remaining left hand. The bloody remains of one of the xenos pilots’ throat peeks between the fingers of his fluid smeared black gauntlet. The other pilot’s blood stains the teeth of my chainsword.
I feel the cold bite of grief drag its talons across my thoughts and clench my jaw. I cannot afford to mourn him now; I have a duty to complete. He would have done the same for me.
I haul his body free of the wreck haltingly, my armour’s damage routine has locked my left leg ridged. It is an undesirable annoyance, but I continue my search regardless of my limping discomfort.
Another forty minutes pass before I am able to free Walsh’s body from this twisted tomb of metal.
The spar of metal that impales him is as thick as my thigh. In the end I am forced to dead lift his armoured body, millimeter by agonizing millimeter, off of the blood-slick bone of the ship. I blink away my own armour’s warning runes with a grunt of pain and ignore the sharp taste of copper that lingers at the back of my throat.
Two and a half centuries of glory and honour.
His eyes have seen a hundred separate battlefields. Untold numbers of mankind’s enemies have died under his righteous fury. Pieces of the void-dark battle plate he wears bore witness to the first Black Crusade’s rout. It pains me beyond measure to be forced to leave it here to possible scavengers.
In a way, the cold death of this honourable and battle scared warrior touches me far more than Veldir’s. I do not feel shame at the wetness upon my cheeks as I beseech our gene-sire Lord Dorn and the divine Emperor to know of his absolute loyalty to duty and wrath to the foes of mankind in his final moments over his stilled form.
I salvage what remaining bolter clips that they have. A total of three clips. I would have laughed at such paltry resources at any other time. Now I make sure that I miss nothing, ensuring to even eject the chambered rounds from the weapons still chained to their corpses.
I take one other thing from each of them, torn from the bindings of their armour and rebound to my own while kneeling in the light of the burning wreck. Two oaths, in Veldir’s harsh script and Walsh’s poetic scrollwork. An oath to shed the blood of the vile Xenos’ battleleaders and an oath of protection of the innocent followers of the Emperor. My brothers’ oaths are now mine to bear, chained beside my own flowing script to see that this world shall not fall from the divine right of the Emperor’s servants.
As I turn my back upon my brothers’ cooling bodies a storm is brewing upon the horizon, stirred up by the assault on the world’s atmosphere by the myriad of inbound vessels. I can finally understand the nauseating frustration of Apothecary Crastus. My steps pause, I do not wish to leave my brothers here like this, their legacies unclaimed.
I call up the tactical readout of this location, committing it to eidetic memory. It is the best I can do. I have a duty to complete, and an ork hoard to cast from the face of the galaxy.
I clamp my bolter to the side of my power pack, the black chains binding it to my armour singing softly with each limping step, and start walking.
I do not even attempt to hide my passing.
For the first six hours my steps are hindered by the limping stride of my warplate, the joins in my left leg locked to keep the fractured bones in place long enough to set. I endure it only because I know that I will need the full use of that leg before this war is over.
After the break has healed enough to take my weight, the joints unlock and I break into the ground devouring lope of a hunting predator. I can keep up this pace for days if I need, though the vermilion runes at the corner of my vision indicate that my wargear may no longer have the same tenacity as my will. The battle damage from the fight upon the hulk was more devastating to my armour than I care to admit, an axe blow that nearly saw me gutted has fouled the armoured plating across my torso and caused havoc with the intricate cabling that run across my core. It is stable, for now. Once I re-enter battle I cannot say how long such a state will last.
I scroll through the vox channels as I push onward through the whipping storm that I had seen brewing earlier, nothing but static greats me. I cannot bring myself to close the squad link that hovers in the upper corner of my vision though the only rune still lit is my own.
Others have been this way before me, mismatched tracks and erratic skid marks upon the barren soil betray the origins of the vehicle. I hold carefully to the cold rage that the marks conjure in my gut. Hatred is my greatest weapon and I hone its edge with a glance to the blood stained scrolls bound on my left shoulder guard.
It has been thirty hours since I first set foot upon the soil of this world.
The horizon is broken by the hand of Man. I have been able to see the dark silhouettes of towers and the sharp edged structures of bunkers for some time now across the desolate landscape, growing ever closer with each thundering stride.
It is a bloom of fire, however, that draws my attention closer as a smell rides the wind, fungal and vile in its alien nature. I hate them for tainting this world, for breathing air that is meant for humankind. I let a growl slip between bared teeth. It emerges from my vox, a rumbling thing more akin to thunder than anything human.
I admit the thought brings a feral smile to my lips as my stride increases, I have not been human for a while now.
My chainblade and pistol are already in my dark gauntlets as I watch the counter in the corner of my vision. It ticks down closer to a kilometer, and then less. I see the panicked humans spilling from the ruined transports. I can wait no longer to shed the vile blood of these beasts.
The false muscle cables of my battle plate whine as I break into a sprint, armoured boots digging into the unforgiving ground with each stride.
I am truly alone, yet my hate is greater than it has ever been.
Just as the thought came to mind though, xeno gun fire began to hit the rocks he was behind and showered him with dust and newly made gravel. They would never make it if they couldn't hold the bastards up for a bit longer, and so he got low to the ground and crawled to the opposite side of the rocks, away from where the bullets were pinging the rocks, and he put the stubber around the corner and fired a few more rounds in the xeno's general direction. After a few more burst from the gun, as he watched the tracers hit the xeno craft, he stopped and it went dark again and he could only see the flash of the Xeno weapons, he grabbed one of the few grenades he had. He looked at it briefly, "Shouldn't be no different than tossin' a tear gas can..." He grimaced as he pulled the pin, and he tossed it as hard as he could. He picked up his stubber, and began to run to catch up with the rest of those retreating, not wanting to wait and see if that accomplished anything.
He was listening to the whine of engines and trying to ignore the oncoming storm. He was trying to ignore the prospect of imminent, messy, painful death.
Elias was failing. He always failed, before battle - Always his mind dwelt on death. It was good to be aware, he told himself, tugging at the vacuum-seals of his gloves. It had saved him, on multiple occasions - On Castor, his paranoid alertness had kept him on his toes. When a civilian, a member of the Ragged Rags Cult, had charged him with a sickle, Elias had opened her brain-pan with a shot from Theodora. Being alert, he often told Tobias, not being lost in arrogance, had kept Elias alive.
For the past two months, between their last war-zone and this one - Prolial, he reminded himself - Elias had read studiously on their foes, the Swinekin, the Greenskins, the Orks. He knew their reputation, one of unbound savagery and barbarism. He knew of worlds, depopulated and stained with blood, of entire systems enslaved by their foul warbands. He had read the reports of their obscene butchery, and he had shivered. Elias was no coward - On Frater Minor, against the secessionist Brotherhood of Daggers, Elias had faced down a rebel tank with a det-charge, and came out on top. He still wore a piece of the Leman Russ's armour tied around his ankle. No-one had ever accused Elias Lengen of cowardice, but he was afraid.
'Remember,' He whispered to his brother. He was unsure if Tobias was listening. 'Skull or spine. These aren't men we're dealing with - Keep them at bay, ranged. Maximum damage.'
Elias had scoured worlds. He had seen populations slaughtered, watched the hangmen of the Commissariat lead heretics to their deaths. Never, ever, had he seen it done with the efficiency of the Orks. They were, he admitted, a tremendous threat. A terrifying reality.
Beneath his helmet, he screwed his eyes shut. The Valkyrie bucked, someone let out a cheer, someone else a groan. Eyes still closed, Elias drew Theodora from his hip and emptied her shells into his hand. Theodora was a man-stopper, somewhere between a slug-thrower and a bolt-pistol. Elias loved the gun - Loved her bark, loved the tremor in his wrist, loved the destruction she left. Most of all, he loved her name. It was a constant reminder of a life stolen, a life long gone. It hurt, sometimes, but he understood the importance of the name. It kept him on his toes.
Elias was, of all things, a practical man. He slipped the shells back into their housings, slid Theodora into her holster, and opened his eyes.
'Imagine when we bring him back Greenskin trophies,' Tobias said, voice brimming with pride and excitement.
Elias sighed. Not this again.
'Stay focussed,' He grumbled, air slipping between his teeth in a low whistle. 'Or else you'll be a trophy.'
He remembered the picts. Men, women and children - Nailed to the side of tanks, bags of skulls dangling from green sides, necklaces of fingerbones and teeth. He whispered a prayer to the Emperor hurriedly.
'I already am,' Tobias said, cocksure, the grin evident in his voice. 'I'm an Elysian trophy.'
Elias struck him hard.
And then, everything went to hell. A pair of missiles streaked past, dark smudges following in their trails. There was shouting, a sudden realisation that they were, once again, in a war zone. Their Sergeant, so similarly named, was moving towards the rear hatch.
Bullets were hammering into the Valkyrie.
The door groaned open, and Elias, now on his feet, got a glimpse of the enemy. A pugnacious brow, red eyes behind a pair of dirty goggles, a jaw brimming with fangs. Behind an equally pugnacious jet. Elias shivered once again.
It opened fire.
Elyas was shredded, his blood coating Elias, as were two others. Red-drenched, panting excitedly, Elias began to run. The Valkyrie was twisting, toppling, everything was becoming wrong.
He glanced back, saw Tobias moving behind him, and leapt into oblivion.
Gallan sat in the back of the front-most hauler, wishing for a cushion. Over all his years of training with the PDF, he had come to the conclusion that there was a Munitorum conspiracy to break the ass bones of anyone weak enough to need to get somewhere by means other than their own two feet.
When not ruminating on the fate of his coccyx, he looked around, trying to assess the others he had been thrown together with over the last month. On the whole he wasn't that impressed. Many barely seemed to know which end of their carbines was the business end, even after an intense month of training together. The only one that gave him any confidence was the big dour fether Krassus standing with his stubber on the roof of the cab, hands alternating between fingering a cog shaped amulet around his neck, and checking the stubber was ready for action. Gallan didn't think Krassus even realised what his hands were doing, he seemed so distracted most of the time. Seemingly he was an enforcer in his previous life, so hopefully he'd keep his head when the crap finally hit the fan.
Gallan looked up at the sky, wondering at the nature of the fiery streaks criss crossing the night sky. Imperial Guard reinforcements? More xenos invaders? City-killing munitions fired from the star travelling craft used by both sides? Maybe some of the more fervent prayers of his squad mates had been answered, and an Adeptus Astartes strike force had come to their aid. He chuckled at that thought. Those almost mythical warriors were surely needed elsewhere than a relative back water planet like Prolial.
His reverie was broken by the squeal of brakes, and he was thrown forward into a squad mate, jamming a rifle butt into his ribs for his troubles. "What the feth..." he groaned, and as he looked around saw the truck behind them drive straight into their tailgate. He had a momentary feeling of weightlessness as he was thrown forward again, then everything went black.
He wasn't sure how long it was before he came to, his head throbbing, but things seemed to have gone to hell pretty quick while he was out. The truck was burning around him, there were broken bodies scattered in the wreckage, there were the steady outgoing bursts of a heavy stubber, and more sporadic crack of large calibre incoming rounds vying with what sounded like a massive engine badly in need of a tune up.
He struggled through the smoking wreckage towards the sound of the heavy stubber, reasoning that being behind it was a better place to be than in front of it. He climbed over the side rail, and spotted the muzzle flash coming from some rocks just off the road, apparently covering the retreat of his surviving platoon mates, and made a dash for the position. As he dived into cover behind the rocks he saw that it was Krassus, and he was laying down fire in the direction of the enemy, whatever the enemy was. He assumed it was orks, but he hadn't seen any hint of them beyond muzzle flashes. Just as he settled behind the rocks, Krassus threw a grenade in the same direction as he had been shooting. A boom followed, and the incoming fire seemed to slacken briefly. Good idea, thought Gallan. He rooted through his pouches and came out with two frag grenades. He hit the activation studs, glanced over the rocks to get an idea of the heaviest concentration of fire, and lobbed both grenades as hard as he could. When he ducked back behind the rock he saw that Krassus was now high-tailing it after the rest of the squad. Damn, he can move pretty quick for a big guy, thought Gallan. With that, the two grenades went off with another satisfying double boom, and he decided it was best to join him.
Liam sat towards the back of the second hauler, head occassionally banging against one of the metal ribs of the vehicles side while he looked up into the nights sky. He was used to the dark confines of the tunnels; the constricting walls and poor ventilation. Being out here, on the surface with the open sky above his head, was strange to say the least. He just couldn't get over that something didn't feel right, it was to open, to vulnerable.
These last few weeks had seen Liam thrown into a completely different world, after he had been sold from the mines to the PDF he got to see the sun for the first time in years. Its harsh light had hurt at first, but like much in his life he got used to it, same with the rigors of the training and the people he had been forced to rely on. There were the big bastards like that Krassus guy, a former miner from the look of him, probably coming from one of the gangs that had sold Liam into this new life. Then there were the more scrawny stuck ups like LaVeer or Thede, the first acted like he was hot stuff, like he'd be leading them all before to long, while the other was definitely a pencil pusher or something; more suited to the books than any fighting.
Like it or not, these were the new people in Liam's life, all of them being taken to some sort of outpost for assignment, whatever all that meant. Looking up at the nights sky, Liam saw a massive rock like thing in the sky, was that the ship, the 'hulk' as he'd heard some call it, that these Orks had come from? And if so, how did it stay in the sky?
Not that he got much chance to really think about how something like that was possible, an squeal of screeching tires coming out from ahead of the transport and seconds later Caul was thrown from the metal bench. Ears ringing and vision swimming, Liam shakingly got to his knees and stumbled to the back of the hauler and looked out in the dark. Someone roughly shoved him out of the hauler, sending Liam face first into the ground. It was a good thing too since a moment later gunfire tore into the hauler and killed whoever had pushed Liam, blood spraying down on him.
Screams got Liam to get on his feet, more gunfire making him look around in panic. This time it was coming from Krassus, firing wildly into the dark. The shooting from Krassus stopped, replaced by the gunfire from before, muzzle flare lighting up the dark and revealing a truly terrifying sight. The shooting was coming from a vehicle, similar to the hauler, but with a rigged together look. But that was not what made the thing truly scary, nor the gun itself, no it was the things inside the vehicle. Probably a dozen or so, bodies piled on with muscle and clutching all manner of swords, axes, cleavers, clubs, hand cannons, and rifles; these were the Orks and they were coming for Liam and the others.
Hearing the panic in the voices of the others, Liam turned towards the only possible source of protection he could think of and began to run for the outpost they were near. Surely the people there would be able to save them from these monsters. "God-Emperor save us, run!" Someone yelled, Liam realizing that the words had come from him.
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