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Old 11 Aug 2008, 21:09   #3 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 9,807
Default Re: Entry B - For Duty Alone

“Commissar, we need to get back,” huffed Araleng.

I queued my vox, “Cain to Cykus,” I said as I led the way back to the square, ducking behind buildings and rubble every chance I got.

“Sorry, Commissar, a little busy now,” replied Cykus. I heard a scream over the vox from a distant trooper, then the concussion of large explosion. We were quickly approaching the square and witnessed a geyser of flame shoot up.

“I think we lost Torch,” Araleng said. I nodded and continued to run. I had no doubt the remaining kill team would be brutally outnumbered.

“We are on our way, Sergeant. What is your situation?” I voxed.

“Araleng with you, Sir?”

I understood being concerned with the lives of the troopers you served with. I practiced it every chance I had. It helps build a cohesive team, builds trust, and fosters an idea in the troopers to protect my own skin first. But I needed to know what we were running in on.

“She is. Now, what the frak is going on?” I screamed just as we cleared the buildings and saw the square.

The Necron were coming out of at least two buildings on opposite sides of the square. Across from where we squatted for cover, I could see a few members of the kill team pinned down and attempting to return fire on the Necron. It wouldn’t take long for them to be overrun. A pool of burning promethium lay next to another mangled trooper, who looked like he’d been fed to a Catachan Devil.

“We’re hurting, Sir. We’ve been pinned down, lost Torch, lost Jansen, lost Fin. I sent in Fin and Jansen with meltas and Torch to cover them. They never made it.”

Araleng began firing into the Necrons attempting to clear a path for her beleaguered comrades. My mind began racing.

“Araleng, open a path for them on this side of the square.” She promptly switched aim and began knocking down Necrons. However, some of them stood back up.

“Sergeant,” I voxed, “move your men up the east side of the square. Pick up those melta bombs on the way up. We will rendezvous at halfway point. Make it quick!”

I turned to Araleng, “you got that, Sniper?” I think she said yes sir in between cursing steelies and stepping out behind her cover to move into position. I sprinted out to meet up with Cykus and get those melta bombs on the orbital defence weapon. The trooper with the melta-gun led out blazing as fast as his melta would charge, turning Necrons into silver goo. Cykus and the remainder of the team followed, tossing grenades that had little effect on the Necrons. Two of the team stopped to pick up the melta bombs on Jansen and Fin. Thankfully, the gauss rounds or whatever it was that killed them had not detonated them.

The first trooper picked up a melta almost without stopping and was sprinting back towards us when the second trooper was hit by a gauss bolt. That trooper’s scream still rings in my head and haunts my nightmares. His body was stripped away at the cellular level. The first trooper turned back and then ran to his fallen comrade.

“Moush, you frakking grox headed fool, leave him, he’s dead!” Cykus hollered. Moush got back to the still disintegrating trooper, without looking at him, and plucked the last melta bomb off the other dead trooper before racing back to where we hid.

“That’s a good way to earn medals, Moush,” Araleng said when he got back. He smirked and handed me one of the melta bombs.
“Let’s put that thing down now,” I said pointing at the array and handing the melta bomb to another trooper. I wanted to get back to the lander before the little bit of cover we had was completely vapourized.

“Sergeant, if you don’t mind, let’s get the frak out of here.” The team began following me to where Araleng and I first entered the square, firing at the Necrons, trying to provide cover for the demolition team to lob their payloads at the array. The demolition team sprinted towards the weapon, weaving as they ran, doing whatever they could to avoid getting hit by either our lasguns or the Necrons gauss guns. They moved in, threw in their melta bombs, and sprinted out towards us before the bombs had even landed.

We watched, holding our breaths, as the melta bombs went off in quick succession. The flash burned my retinas but I couldn’t turn away, I had to see if it was destroyed. The fires died and the smoke drifted out and as my vision returned I saw the sickly green glow lighting up the dirt and debris left behind. One of the demolition team troopers stopped in dismay at the sight, and was flayed by a gauss shot. I shot the trooper with my pistol to end his misery, not to mention my own.

Our melta bombs did nothing against the weapon. Well I wasn’t going to hang around waiting for the Necron to use my skin for a coat. I started hollering for everyone to follow me out of the square.

“I am out of ideas Commissar, do you have one?” Cykus asked. I realized I had not told him about the Tech-Priest or the lander.

“Yes I do. We get off this Emperor forsaken planet,” and Araleng jumped in following behind me. “We found the cog-boy, and the crashed lander. He’s repairing it now.”

“Who, the Tech-Priest?” I stopped to turn back, I had not lived over two hundred years by standing around arguing when things were trying to shoot at me, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. I wanted to keep moving to the Mechanicus building, and our ticket off this metal infested dirtball. But Cykus had his team to think about, and to give them the best chance off the planet, and me with them, he had to know what was going on.

“Yes, the Tech-Priest is repairing the crashed lander.”

“Commissar, behind you!” both Araleng and Cykus yelled eerily in sync. I spun pulling my chainsword out of habit. I brought it up just as the wraith appeared swinging both arms down on my, and swiping its tail across my torso. The chainsword blocked its arms, but the tail connected solidly with my ribs. I flew back a dozen feet and rolled over as many times.

Cykus pulled me to my feet when I stopped rolling and I yelled out, “Jurgen, cook that T'auk'cka!” forgetting that he was on another planet at the moment. But the melta gunner knew I meant him and lit up the wraith with a blast of super heated energy. Only it was about as effective as the melta bombs on orbital defence weapon. The wraith phased out and the blast simply passed through him.

The wraith seemed to want me first. I turned, but had nowhere to run. Instead, I grabbed the power sword that hung on the Sergeant’s hip.

“Sergeant, may I borrow this for a moment?” I turned to Araleng, “Sniper, like you did before,” I said before charging back into the wraith. Rushing a giant metal ghost that specifically wanted to kill me seemed a bit foolish. However, in the event we ran for it, I have no doubt I would have found myself impaled on that thing’s tail. “For the Emperor!” I think I screamed. It was the sort of thing Cain the Hero was supposed to say. Actually, I was hoping the wraith would swat me away again, and let someone else charge the bloody thing.

Like a smoky black smear around green eyes it met my charge with movements that blurred in the night. It stabbed its tail at me, I parried with my chainsword, vibrating as the teeth caught metal on metal. I slashed with the sergeant’s power sword, but the wraith was phased out. I followed through again and found a satisfying clang as the sword connected with the shoulder carapace. Then it was behind me, and I heard the crack of Araleng’s rifle. The lasbolt was accurate, catching the wraith squarely in the forehead, or what passes for their forehead, but passed right through it. Evidently having phased out again.

“Damn,” I heard her say. “Don’t stop, keep shooting it!” I yelled, deflecting blows from its tail and slashes from it arms with hands ending in carving knives for fingernails. We moved side to side, and around like some back alley hive knife fighters looking for a weakness in the other defences. Araleng periodically fired at the wraith, then at the other Necrons, with the rest of the team holding off the Necrons like some schola yard fistfight. I was only hoping their luck with the other Necrons was better than her luck with the wraith.

I began wondering if the wraith was only keeping us from leaving, tiring me down for a final blow when it came all at once. Actually, it was everything happening at the same time. I had been spinning inside the wraith’s defences swatting away its arms with the swords, and generally getting dizzy, when I stabbed the power sword into the wraith’s ribcage, completely to the hilt, Araleng fired, and the wraith punched out with its tail catching me in the chest.

I was knocked back again, but I came up swinging my chainsword wildly, thinking the wraith was laying on my chest. I could not get a breath in, and I admit, beginning to panic. I realized, however, that it was not on me, but had dented my carapace armour with its tail punch. Instead of launching a tirade of attacks at us, the wraith was crumpled on the ground, the sergeant’s power sword sticking out of its chest and a gaping hole in its head. The wraith began phasing out, taking the power sword embedded in it with it.

“That’s the way to win medals,” Moush said. Even the rest of the team had stopped firing long enough to look at what just happened.

“Shut up and clear us a way out of here!” Cykus yelled, “Paasqin, out in front.” The melta gunner took point firing at a group of Necrons intent on stopping us.

“Sergeant, I believe I owe you a new sword.” I said to Cykus as we ran to the northeast corner of the square firing behind us all the while.

“I’ll take it up with you once we get out of here,” he said rounding the corner. He caught up with Araleng and the team and I ran flat out back to the lander. By the time we had returned to the lander, we had put a small distance between the Necron and us, giving us time to breathe and set up ramshackle defensive position. We had lost another trooper, and were down to five, we could not last for long, I only hoped it was long enough to get the lander off the ground and back onboard the Relentless Assault. I pulled Cykus along with me, and ducked into the crashed Aquila.

“Tech-Priest, tell me good news,” I said finding him under a cogitor console, apparently repairing the atmospheric control yoke. I began pulling off my dented armour.

“The good news, Commissar, is that you have not destroyed the Orbital Defence Array. It would have taken far more than a few melta bombs to take it down.”

“That thing is a weapon?”

“Yes, sergeant, but that is secondary now.” I turned back to the Tech-Priest, “will this thing fly again?”

“Blessed be the Omnissiah, it will.” Cykus turned to get his team onboard but stopped as the Tech-Priest continued, “however, it cannot go far, nor into the vacuum. There are too many hull breaches.”

“Then we have one option left. Commissar, do your best please. Get her out of here.” With that he shoved the cog-boy and me out of the lander and fired up the engines. It took a moment to put it together, and then it clicked. I grabbed the cog-boy and pulled him back to the remainder of the team.

“Lets go, fall back, into the desert!” Two at a time, the team covered each other, falling back around the Mechanicus building. The Necrons had caught up with us again, but I was confident that we could make it out of the city before they caught up with us. What we were going to do then, I had not yet figured out. “Where’s Cykus?” Araleng asked when I had caught up with the team. “What’s he doing?” I heard tears in her voice. I shook my head and pushed her and the Tech-Priest along in front of me. I turned back to watch the Aquila lander rise up over the tops of the building. The hull vibrated and shook, the starboard engine straining as though it would fail at any minute. Cykus powered the lander around the south side of the city and angled back into the square. The engine finally did fail, but the shuttle was already pointed at the weapon. I lost sight of it just before the concussion of the crash knocked us to our knees.

“Oh, Cykus.”

I made the sign of the aquila, then made for the desert pushing Araleng in front of me. The team followed behind me with the Tech-Priest. We cleared the city entrance and sprinted into the darkness. I knew we could not out run the Necron, and we could not win a firefight even if we found a good defendable position, but that’s what I told everyone to do.

“Fire as soon as they clear the gateway.” I checked the power level on my pistol. I had maybe a dozen shots left. Better make them count, I thought as the Necrons emerged from the gateway.

“Paasqin, light them up!” We opened up on them as soon as we saw steel. Some of us were screaming as we fired, or so I thought. I saw holes appearing in the city wall, as big as my fist. A familiar odour assaulted my nose.

“Come along, Sir.” I turned to see Jurgen along with Amberly’s bodyguards. He fired his melta and began pulling me back into the desert. Overhead a pair Valkyries had strafed the Necrons with its lascannons and heavy bolters and more holes appeared in the wall and the Necrons. It settled down a few dozen metres away from us.

“Move it, lets go!” I heard Amberly hollering from the hold of an Aquila lander, presumably where Jurgen and the bodyguards had come from. We did as she asked; she is an Inquisitor, after all. We collapsed into the crash webbing as the pilot took off, making one more pass to fire on the Necrons below us. As we began our return trip to the Relentless Assault I secured Araleng and went by the rest of the team to check for wounds. Amberly shot me a look. I just shook my head.

“Tanna, Sir?” I smiled at Jurgen accepting the proffered flask, somewhat grimier than I remembered, but I drank it greedily.

Amberly pulled me aside after we had docked back with the Relentless Assault, to lead me to a debriefing. All I wanted was a hot shower, amasec and sleep and I really didn’t care what order they came in. But I followed along back to the original operations room with the same holo-table up. This time only Rassq, Amberly and her retinue, Jurgen and myself occupied the room. A pot of recaf awaited me.

When I finished Rassq looked up at me, “Are you sure the weapon array has been destroyed?”

“No, Colonel. I saw only the explosion.”

“And you took on this wraith, single handedly?”

“Again, no. I had Sergeant Cykus’s power sword with me. Also, it was Araleng’s shot that killed it, I am sure.”

“You saved their lives, Commissar. I know there is no way to thank you for your assistance on this.”

“Just doing my duty, Colonel.” I lowered my eyes in false humility and my gaze crossed over his own power sword. “Actually, Colonel, there is something you can do.”

The following day, or after a solid block of sleep in which Jurgen effectively fielded a number of interruptions, I walked down the halls of the Relentless Assault again. I found the quarters of the remaining men on Cykus’s team, and walked in.

“Attention on deck!” snapped Moush.

“At ease, gentlemen.” I strolled in. “I am getting ready to head back to the 597th, but I wanted to come by and congratulate you on a job well done.” I had no idea if I would ever see these troopers again, but if I did, I wanted them still looking out for me. Plus whoever else from the Commissariat came along might not have to shoot any of them. I stopped in front of Moush. “Ordinarily, your own senior officers would do this, but I asked Colonel Rassq for a few favors. First,” I cleared my throat and took on a formal tone and pulled a data slate from my coat pocket, “in recognition of bravery, fortitude and” I looked up at the three troopers, “blah, blah, blah, a commendation is hereby awarded to each of you. Nicely done.” I pinned the awards to their tunics. “Furthermore, Abel Moush is hereby promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the 4th Platoon, Degovian 3rd Rifles.” I leaned forward to pin the insignia on the new sergeant’s lapels.

“I don’t deserve this, Sir”

“Maybe not,” I said, “But they think you do.” His comrades were nodding. “And,” I continued, “if you will take my advice, don’t go volunteering for damn fool missions, or you’re likely to get promoted again.” I stepped back from the group. Moush came to attention and saluted me. I smirked and returned his salute before turning to leave.

I walked down another hall and found the little room Araleng was in. Although I could have just walked in like before, I knocked and waited for her to open up the door.

“Sir!” she said, no doubt surprised to see me again. She opened the door to let me in.

“I am getting ready to leave, but I have two things to address before I head back,” I said as I entered the room. It was like the other, only empty but for her few things. It felt like solitary confinement.

“First, I want to extend an offer for you to join the 597th Valhallan. We are a mixed unit, as I said before, and we most definitely can use a good sniper like you. I have already cleared it with Colonel Rassq.”

“Thank you Commissar, but I have a home. My team is here. I belong with them.”

I nodded.

“You knew I’d say this. Why else did you come?”

“I promised Cykus a replacement for his sword. I would like to give it to you.” I unclasped Rassq’s power sword and handed it to Araleng. Ordinarily, I would neither have given away such a beautiful weapon, nor given a frak about replacing it, but she did save my life. Twice. Then again, there was my reputation to uphold.

“How did you know?” she asked wiping away a tear.

“Before he shoved me off the lander, he asked me to take care of you.” We waited in silence a moment, thinking of the last time we saw Sergeant Cykus.

“Thank you, Commissar.”

“Just doing my duty, sniper.” I smiled. “Now go find the rest of your team. I am sure they will want to celebrate with you before killing a few more steelies.”

Caiphas continues his narrative with a more in depth de-briefing by the Inquisition, but that doesn’t concern us. Let us just say, his awards didn’t have to be pinned on him.
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