The process of tactical efficiency
Begins with the profound acknowledgement
That from malleability all
Begins with the profound acknowledgement
That from malleability all
The sun crested a mountain range, revealing a small complex, the dull grey of the infrastructure reflecting little of the morning light. The sloping, ovoid shapes gave the impression of shells, each having several windows facing a center avenue with few turns. Some of the buildings were multi-leveled. Around this facility ran a wire fence, gleaming with traces of dew dripping from the barbs along the top. The fence stopped at a barred gate, where a solitary figure waited, occasionally glancing at the chrono-piece in his left bracer, noting that the exercise would soon begin. He was not tall, stout for one of his bearing, and more prone to hard labor than his peers. It was also noted that he was considerably wider than his associates. The planar segments of his large left shoulder pad gleamed a dull red with the morning, along with the rest of his armor, which consisted of a chest piece, a smaller shoulder pad on his right, and segmented leg plates with greaves. In the center of the left pad was a black-on-white symbol, somewhat resembling a beetle with a circular head, with a white line bisecting the center and accenting the “head”. His helmet picked up the sounds of the morning, the artificial intelligence inside comparing the sounds to detect anomalies in his surroundings.
He checked his equipment: grenades, carbine with a shoulder strap, pistol, a few extra clips of ammunition. The short amount of time his people spent training revolved primarily around the firing ranges and exercises like this one, where close combat is considered suitable ground for failure. Either one made do with this equipment, or one could not pass this test.
A small beep from his wrist told him he had a few seconds before the training exercise began. He took the carbine to his right shoulder, quickly locked a clip in place, and primed the rounds. A mini-map appeared in a corner of his vision, with an arrow showing his facing, and his immediate surroundings.
A low-pitched gong rang at the top of the fence.
It swung in, and the warrior sprinted in, his hooves kicking up residual dust.
As he ran forward, he noted that the buildings were shifted from previous trials; there was no building on his left. He immediately slid beneath the window of the first building on his right, and peered in. A loud bang from primitive firearms was the only warning he got before the glass shattered above him, but no shards got through his armor, nor the protective cloth beneath it. He ducked, and considered what he saw: large targets, with quarter-moon shoulder pads, indicative of the elite forces of the unenlightened humans. Their technology was known to the Empire, and the flash grenade at his belt, with a magnesium center, would blind them for a short time; their visors unfortunately compensated quickly for their technological level. With suppressive fire coming in bursts, he inched himself towards the street a little, priming the grenade. At the conclusion of a burst, he flung it just inside the walls, and moved back to the wall.
A few seconds passed, and the telltale explosion of the grenade told him it was time.
His visor, already calibrated for the flare, showed him two enormous targets, both fully two meters tall. He fired at the one in front of him on full auto, making sure his left shoulder was pointed towards the other figure to give him cover. The energy bolts ripped through the helmet of the first target, and it slumped to the ground. His shoulder took hits from the other, the impact deadening the feeling in his left arm. He ducked, slung the carbine behind him, and pulled out his pistol. He then moved to the left of his previous position, stood, and fired the pistol, the three-round burst taking the target at the neck. The last round of the target, however, hit his left arm between his bracer and shoulder, the shock of the round forcing it to fall useless. He cursed, and had to carefully reload both of his weapons before moving down the street.
As he traveled down the road to its first intersection, he stayed close to the first building’s windows, noting the advantages high angles would give at the end of the street. He moved in a semi-crouch, with the carbine slung over his left shoulder, the right trying to maintain a smooth transition to a firing stance when he would need it. The next building, substantially smaller than the one he was by, at least in width, was two stories tall. The smooth architecture, reminiscent of his culture, was a small comfort to the fact that he had to finish the trial with a handicap in favor of his enemies.
A shot rang down at him, grazing his helmet.
He dropped down to get a greater area of protection by his shoulder shield. He then attempted to acquire the target, but he couldn’t see anything on the top of the building ahead of him.
If I stay here, I’m done. Yet, I could run down the street, attempt to suppress the sniper with blind fire, shoot my way into the first level, and gain cover by jumping into the building. Yet, if I can’t see the second story, I can easily miss the whole thing and take fire anyway. I will have to advance with my head exposed.
His summation only lasted a couple of seconds.
He ran, firing at the roof of the building as best he could. With no fire returning, as he got beneath what he believed was the sniper’s arc of fire, he switched to the windows, firing into them as he crashed blindly into the first floor.
He rolled when he hit the floor, sweeping the room for targets as soon as he got to his hooves. With no targets appearing, he drew his pistol once more, and moved around vending counters towards the stairs that would lead to the roof, his approach keeping him concealed except for his head. As he neared the stairs, he considered the silence of the opposition: No return fire, no noise. He knows I’m down here, probably also knows that I’m near the staircase. As a sniper, the stairway is probably rigged with a trap, and he must be watching the exit to the roof. Or, he’s moved down a floor and plans to get me there as I move up. I’m at too much a disadvantage here.
He fully crouched, placed his pistol on the floor, and checked his equipment again, only finding two more grenades, and a couple more clips of ammo for his weapons. He then checked his special hiding place: an extra fold of cloth above his right thigh armor for special occasions. The detachable pouch contained just enough explosives to possibly level the building. Given his understanding of demolitions, he placed small amounts of the substance at the support beams on the first floor, taking extra time to help keep his movements silent while kneading the dull grey matter with one hand into smaller discs. At the last placement, he inserted a small cylinder, which would set the detonation off after pushing a pressure point beneath his still-useless left arm. My mini-map tells me that I should be able to see the next building through one of the side windows. If I can fire enough rounds from my pistol to get in cover, I can detonate the building with little chance for sustaining further injury.
With the final piece of the explosives set, he moved quickly through a door to another window. Sure enough, the next building was in view, and there was a convenient window for him to hurl himself through. He attempted to draw his pistol, only to find that he had left it back at the stairs! With no time to retrieve it, he pulled the carbine up from his left shoulder, and fired.
The glass predictably broke, and he vaulted the wall towards the next window, firing as he went. As he jumped towards the next window, however, a round hit him in the back, hitting his power pack and throwing him forward. He crashed into the window, his greater weight allowing him to break what was left of the glass. He rolled head-over-hooves into the room, and only when he slammed into a cooling unit did he remember the pressure switch. His right arm, sore from the impact, was damaged enough so that it barely could move. His heart racing, his mind speeding, he attempted to activate the switch with the edge of the knee cap plate on his right leg. After several attempts using the edge, he slammed his knee into his arm, and the pain was nothing compared to the deafening sound of the plastic explosives he had planted.
He found himself lying face-up on the floor, his senses returning.
I can barely move, my equipment is busted, and I still need to get to the end of this street to pass. I’ll try. But first, I need to get my dead helmet off.
Slowly and painfully, the Fire Warrior got to his hooves, and used his right forearm to push his sloping helmet off. The forehead of the warrior was broad, and a slit down the center of it housed his olfactory senses. His grey skin was lighter than the darker blue of his eyes, which followed the familiar biological pattern for sight. His cheeks and jaw were well-pronounced. The only comparably small feature to him was his mouth. A braided brown topknot ran down to the middle of his back now, for it was stored in the back of his helmet for combat.
He took one step, his arms hanging down to his sides, the right feeling bruised, the left feeling worse, yet the fact that feeling had occurred there left him hopeful of being able to use it. The carbine, half of its clip spent, swung with him on his left shoulder still. He walked to the front of the building, turned to his left, and, a few buildings down the road, stood the exit gate. Unfit for any further firefights, the Fire Warrior ran, his arms and weapon trailing after him. That gate meant free time, fermented drinks, and the nearby beach that was exclusive to those that passed this trial.
He gained momentum, passing the first building. Fire exploded from above him. Whether it was from the third or fourth floor, he knew not. If his legs were to get hit, it was over. The adrenaline gave him enough feeling in his left arm to pull his smoke grenade, press the primer key, and toss it in his path. A heavy cloud quickly poured out of the grenade in all directions, and, as the ground floor of the building to his left opened fire on him, he ran even harder. His sense of distance became somewhat skewed, but by counting his steps he knew that he would run out of cover quickly, but the finish line would be straight ahead.
He pumped his aching arm, trying to move faster.
The smoke cleared.
Time slowed down for him, for on both sides were barricaded buildings, and the same figures as at the beginning of the trial fired upon him. There was only one possible way for him to make it with this much incoming fire. He gathered as much of his power into his legs as he could, and threw himself forward, his left hand stretching to reach the line.
He didn’t hear the cacophonous noise that would mean his victory, he only felt the sting of stun pellets against his body.
Thought I'd try my hand at writing some 40k fiction.