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The Battle for Inanis VI (Part 1)
 
Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:30   #1 (permalink)
42
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Default The Battle for Inanis VI (Part 1)

Master Vitellius, Commander of the Ultramarines second company, studied the report handed to him by Techmarine Cumulus.

“Inanis VI?” he said wearily, “Never heard of the place. And why does this useless planet require the attention of the Ultramarines, dare I ask?”

“Inanis VI is a small, mud-ridded industrial world in the nether regions of the Segmentum Obscurus” replied Cumulus. “It has a small population, largely clustered around the Capital city of St Aenis. Its’ only real asset is an abundant supply of fairly rare minerals around the Polar regions. There was a few reports of Tyranid infestation from some of the smaller cities, and apparently the PDF is doing all it can, but they need help. The powers that be have already assigned the Blood Pigeons and the 15th Funestans to repel the xenos, but apparently they seem to need our assistance.”

“But why do they need two Space Marine chapters and an entire regiment of Imperial Guard as well as the PDF to sort it? Our forces are stretched as it is. Why can’t they just evacuate the population and let the Tryanids have the place?”

“I am afraid they are the orders, Brother-Captain.”

“Very well then.” Vitellius sighed. “We’ll muster the forces and prepare for planetfall at Inanis VI. This had better be worth the effort.”

Commander Vitellius was by no means an amateur when it came to the art of war. He had taken over from Captain Sicarius after he and most of the Second company had been massacred shortly after the events on Medusa V, mostly by headshots. Although Vitellius and his Command squad had learnt from Sicarius’ fate and kept their helmets firmly fastened, most of the troops were less keen to adopt the idea that getting your head needlessly vapourised, although heroic, gives you the life expectancy of a suicidal hedgehog on an F1 racetrack, which is not necessarily a good thing. He was just pondering these thoughts when he was interrupted by Marcus Calgon, the Company Chaplain.

“Are we nearly there yet?”

“That’s the third time you’ve asked me that in the last five minutes, Calgon.” Vitellius snapped. “Don’t you have some liturgy to chant or something?”

“Nope. I’ve gone over the liturgies of hate, purity, fury, grouchiness and making-insulting-remarks-at-the-hateful-cultists-of-(insert chaos god/goddess of choice) three times already, and the Marines are getting bored, sir. “I spy” gets to you after a while, and Brother-Sergeant Lego is trying to teach them charades, but you know how it is with Marines, bit slow to grasp new concepts and all that… Anyway, are we nearly there yet?”

“No, Brother Chaplain. And before you ask it’s going to be at least five hours yet, so don’t ask again, all right?”

“Certainly, Brother-Captain. Won’t happen again.”

“Good. Now go and keep the Marines entertained. And just do something simple, we don’t want their brains overheating. Impressions or something. That always raises a smile or two.”

“Righty-ho, Vitellius!”

“And Calgon?”

“Yes?”

“Never say “Righty-ho” again, or I swear to the Emperor this Thunderhawk will be decorated with your internal organs.”

“Yes, Brother-Captain.”

The Thunderhawks arrived at Inanis VI later that day. Vitellius’ Thunderhawk was the last to arrive. As he got out he looked round, surveying the position as he fastened his helmet. Mud, mud and more mud stretched out in all directions. There was very little geography to speak of, other than the odd little bank, ditch and shell crater, and more mud. What little vegetation existed was hardly big enough to be used as toilet paper, let alone as half decent cover. Far out in the distance he could just make out the towering spire of the hive city of St Aenis. His tactical analysis was, however, rudely interrupted by a short, fat man in a mud brown uniform. It looked like it had once been edged with gold, but what little of it hadn’t peeled off with age was looking decidedly brown. He made a faint clink-clink sound as he walked from the numerous trophies, water canteens, spare bayonets, lasgun power cells and medals he had accumulated about his person. The overall effect was one resembling a pompous walking scrap metal heap. With a moustache you could breed a ripper swarm in.

“Ah,” said Vitellius, as politely as he could. “General Acklay, I presume.”

“Too darn right it is!” roared the bombastic voice of General Acklay. “I hear you Marines have a pretty busy schedule, very kind of you to drop in and lend a hand, sorry to be a pain in the old you know where, but quite frankly – we need your help.”

“So I see, Acklay.”

“Point is, the Tyranids are beginning to overrun us. They have already completely levelled three major hives, scoured hundreds of acres of agri-farms and chewed up vast tracts of land on the other side of the planet. They haven’t quite reached this position yet, but it’s only a matter of time until they do. In that time we need to somehow form a decent defensive position out of this muddy wasteland, and then wait.”

“Very well. We will begin preparations immediately. Tell me, when are the 15th Funestans and the Blood Pigeons arriving?”

“The Funestans are on their way as we speak, sir. Expected time of arrival is 0:600 hours tomorrow morning. As for the Blood Pigeons…we recently received a transmission from their battle barge. Their fleet has been ambushed by foul Eldar pirates. They should be able to deal with the threat, but it will delay their arrival considerably.”

“And when are the Tyranids expected to arrive at our position?”

“Three days, sir.”

“Emperor give me strength! How are we expected to prepare a defensive position in that time?”

“I am told than the Funestans are well versed in trench warfare.”

“That much is true at least, Acklay.”

“Sir?” Acklay enquired, “I believe your Techmarine requires the blessing of your attention.”

“Does he now? Very well.” Vitellius turned to face Cumulus.

“How are the preparations coming along, Cumulus?”

“Well, the Land Raider Crusader Dies Irae is having some engine troubles and something has got stuck in the Predators’ autocannon, looks like one of the scouts, but overall things are running as smoothly as can be expected.”

“Good, good. And what’s that you’ve got in that servo-arm?”

“Liquorice bonbons, Brother-Captain.”

“Can I have one, they’re my favourites.”

By 22:00 hours the battle group of the Inanis Mudcrawlers, the planets’ native interior guard defence force, had arrived at the St Aenis defence line. Around 3,000 men and 50 Chimeras, with 30 Leman Russes, 15 Leman Russ Demolishers, 20 Basilisks, 20 Hellhounds, 5 Medusas, 2 Manticores, 5 Hydras, 10 Salamanders, 5 Exterminators, 2 Bombards, a Baneblade and 20 Sentinel squads, as well as the Earthshaker emplacements currently under construction. The Command Trench was already well underway. Behind the lines Trojans and Sentinel Powerlifters worked in a frenzy to try and get the job finished. Vitellius had already been introduced to Colonel Greig, Colonel Sapper, Colonel Etrich, Colonel Weissman, Colonel Krupp, Colonel Fredrichsen and Colonel Fredrichsens’ dog Roger, and he was already feeling the strain.

At 08:24 hours the next morning the Funestans arrived. Vitellius had first encountered these steely warriors ten years ago, when thanks to the ravings of a mad Inquisitor he had been ordered to eradicate them. His men had sustained heavy casualties, and when the Inquisitor was finally executed and the ceasefire ordered over a third of the Ultramarine forces had been annihilated. In particular their commander, General Surovi, was a master of tactics and a truly brave man, and once the hostilities between them were over he and Vitellius became great friends, and since then the Funestans could often be seen fighting alongside Vitellius and the Ultramarines.

“Surovi, my old friend! How are you keeping!”

Surovi shook Vitellius’ hand warmly. “We have been driving off the Orks from of homeland for almost four months now, Captain. I apologise for the lateness of my arrival, one of the drop ships was having some engine trouble.”

“No problem at all, my good General. The Emperor knows you did all you could to arrive here on time. Anyway, your men had better set about camouflaging themselves, they’ll stick out like sore thumbs with that snow camo on.”

“Certainly, Vitellius. I shall order them to roll in the mud for now, and perhaps later the Mudcrawlers could issue the officers with the appropriate camo cloaks?”

“Agreed, Surovi. May the Emperor give us both strength – we shall both be needing it in ample supply in the days to come.”

At outpost XLVII-Beta sergeant Derner was about to finish his shift. He was sitting down quietly sipping his coffee and reading over the duty roster when suddenly he heard a low-pitched thrumming noise from the East. Fumbling for his laspistol, he got up, walked over to the door and stared out into the afternoon mist. He didn’t stare for long.

It was now 18:43 hours.

“Sir,” panted a worried looking NCO, “We’ve lost contact with outposts thirty through to fifty eight. The few that had time to establish a vox-link seemed pretty worried. There was rather a lot of screaming and unpleasant squelchy noises.”

“So soon?” Surovi looked worried. “Surely they can’t be on their way already! The trenches are barely finished!”

“Then we have no time to loose. Cumulus,” Vitellius barked, “status report!”

“The Command Trench is finished, as are trenches one to twelve, but thirteen to thirty are still under construction. The Earthshaker emplacements are at varying stages of completion, the Whirlwinds’ targeting arrays are completely scrambled, I’ve got five servitors working on it as it is, most of the Hellhounds are leaking wrecks but that’s never stopped them before, Venerable Dreadnought Sigmunds’ assault cannon has jammed, the lascannon power cells on most of the Leman Russes are completely corroded…”

“So basically Cumulus, what you are telling me is that this army is in no fit state to fight, and the Tyranids are already well on the way so they can make porridge out of our innards?”

“Affirmitive, Brother-Captain.”

“Would a quick prayer be of any use right now?” chipped in the enthusiastic voice of Chaplain Caglon.

“Later, Calgon. Right now I and General Surovi here have more pressing matters to attend to.”

“Certainly, Vitellius. Could I be of any further use?”

“Right now you could do us all a big favour and run yourself over with a Leman Russ.”

“Any particular variant you would prefer, Brother-Captain?”

Vitellius sighed. Calgons’ grasp of basic sarcasm, although slightly better than that of the average marine, was still pretty poor.

“Well come on then men, move it! Defences don’t erect themselves, you know!”

Later Vitellius presided over the briefing.

“Now,” he said, “Brother Axus, you get the plasma gun, yes I know, it is very shiny isn’t it, you press the little button there and it shoots hydrogDONT POINT IT AT ME!!! Yes, yes, and try not to make the same mistake you made last time, or them bionic limbs will be coming out of your pay. You lot keep your bolters ready, your job is to take out anything those Basilisks miss. Now, on to Tactical squad Lego. Sergeant Lego, you get the lightning claws for this, anything rams into our lines I want you to be the first to meet it. Now Brother Cloaca, you get a lascannon…”

“Yay!”

“I’m glad you think so. Now remember, this thing is for zapping Carnifexes, NOT Ripper swarms.

“Yay!”

“Yes, lovely. Cumulus, how are the repairs to those Hellhounds going?”

“Almost finished sir, but we only have a limited supply of promethium with us.”

“Well get some more then man! Are there any promethium refineries around here?”

“There’s a couple of small outlets in the Capital, but the majority is shipped in with the monthly re-supply from the next system.”

“Is there any chance we can get some before the Tyranids arrive?”

“If we send a Chimera down with some fuel trailers we could get some before the second wave arrives, but we might not have enough to deal with the first.”

“The second wave?” Vitelliuis bellowed, smashing his storm bolter onto the chart desk. “I thought there was only one! Why was I not told of this?! Our forces have nowhere near enough supplies to deal with a second wave!”

“Well, sir,” Cumulus stuttered, “the news only reached us a couple of minutes ago…I thought you knew…it should cease after the third wave…”

“The THIRD wave!! Oh, now he tells me! Had you not served myself and the Emperor faithfully for sixty years this Powerfist would be closed around your scrawny little NECK!! DO you understand me?!

“Y…y…yes, B…Brother-Captain…”

“Good! Now get out there and prepare the tanks before I smite you from the face of this accursed Galaxy!!”

Cumulus staggered away, bowing and muttering apologies all the way. Vitellius turned to Acklay and Surovi with a tired grimace.

“Tell me honestly gentlemen, what are our chances of survival today?” he asked, wearily.

“Slim, old friend. But we shall fight just as we have done since we were first handed our armour and told to defend the worlds of the Imperium with a song of battle in our hearts.” Surovi sounded sincere enough, and that was because he was. He lived for the glory of battle, and not even three waves of Tyranids were going to destroy that. Acklay, however, was less than optimistic.

“The way I see it sir, we have little chance of survival as it is. I recommend we send for a planet-wide evacuation and let the Tyranids have this muddy wasteland, for what little they can get from it. Personally I have no idea why they even want the place.”

“I am afraid, my good man, that that is impossible. The nearest friendly spaceship is the Blood Pigeon’s Battle Barge Requiem, and that can only take a quarter of the civilian population. Thus a planetwide exodus is, at this moment, impossible.”

“Then it looks like we shall have to stand and fight.”
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:31   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Battle for Inanis VI

20:03 hours. Agri-farm Pi-Eta IV had just closed down for the day. Jakob, the elderly overseer was just checking the auto-chaffer when a low pitched thrumming noise greeted his ears, much like a swarm of bees. Expecting the noise to be gangers in their trucks driving by after a late-night booze, he walked to the domicile unit, trying to remember where he left his autogun. Then he made the fatal mistake of looking up and screaming, very loudly.

A frantic vox-officer burst into the command bunker, his vox-unit making unintelligible gabbling sounds, closely resembling screaming.

“Sir, Harridans approach!”

“Already? Cumulus, you said that the first wave wasn’t to reach us for at least two hours! Why are we being assaulted already?

“Well, I…um…”

“Never mind.” Vitellius turned to face his marines. “Men, you have faced these foul aliens before and know their abominable ways. May your bolters be charged with the righteous zeal of their wielders. Onward, for Terra!”

As the Ultramarines filed out of the command trench the devastation of the Tyranid aerial assault became clear. All around them swarms of Gargoyles poured out from the screeching Harridans to pluck the helpless defenders from their trenches. They swooped across the sky, illuminated by a grim patchwork of lasfire and flak. The 5 Hydras were working overtime to purge the skies of the bewinged xenos, and already one was being clawed apart by droves of chittering beasts. Suddenly the trench exploded in a burst of mud and guts as a stricken Harridan crashed to the ground, felled by an Autocannon shot to the neck.

“Cumulus! How many are there of these accursed things?” Vitellius roared, barely audible above the noise of the battle.

“No idea, Brother-captain. A good 500 gargoyles at a guess, but there could easily be more on the way.”

“Emperor preserve us! The defences can’t take these kinds of numbers!” That was Acklay, stumbling on a little behind Vitellius and Cumulus. Surovi was currently somewhere in the East trenches, bolstering the line and giving orders to the panic-stricken defenders. So far the battle was not going well, but it was not over yet.

“Speeder Gamma II! Watch your back!”

Wing commander Corvus swerved to avoid several Gargoyles, banked to the left and hammered down the trigger of the assault cannon on his Land Speeder, causing a Gargoyle to drop screeching to earth.

“Speeder Gamma II to Gamma wing leader, thanks for the assistance brother.”

“Gamma wing leader to Speeder Gamma II, affirmative. Bank right and aim all guns of that Harridan, on my mark…mark!

The scream of their engines drowning the noise of the battle, the three Land Speeders spun to the right and hurled everything they had at a vicious-looking Harridan, surrounded by a cluster of gargoyles. At first it didn’t notice its pursuers, round after round pattering of its chitinous armour, but a multi-melta shot to the stomach caused it to whip round, mutagenic acid spraying from the gaping wound in its side. As it turned its armoured tail slammed into one of the Land Speeders, which was sent spinning to the ground.

“Damn! Speeder Gamma III! Do you copy?”

Frantically listening to his comm-link Corvus could just make out a few garbled words amongst the screams, but before he could make anything of it a violent jolt rocked the craft – a wounded Gargoyle was hanging onto the front of the Land Speeder, desperately clawing at its plasteel armour. It clung their for a moment, screeching its death throes, until Corvus’ gunner, Brother Parvus, turned his Heavy Bolter on the beast and obliterated it in a withering hail of bolts. To his right Speeder Gamma II had released a salvo of Typhoon missiles upon the Harridan, blowing away huge chunks of its pock-marked carapace but doing little to the beast itself save angering it further. Corvus looked to his left – through the smoke he could clearly see his battle-brothers being relentlessly picked off, one by one, by the swirling mass of winged abominations. Suddenly his soul was filled with anger. He slammed back on the controls, causing the Speeder to rocket forward with a terrible lurch that caught Parvus off-guard.

“Corvus, what are you doing? I can’t get a clear aim at this speed!”

“Parvus, brace for impact.”

“Brother, pray tell me what…”

“Do it, Parvus!”

The Speeder surged forwards, narrowly missed the leathery wings of the Harridan, performed a tight pin-wheeling turn and surged straight for the beasts’ unprotected head. His Brothers’ screams ringing in his ears, Corvus ploughed forwards like a man possessed. The beast looked round and gave a mighty scream, just as the Speeder smashed through its many-toothed head. It flailed wildly for a moment, its tattered fragment of a neck flailing uselessly, before plummeting to the mud-soaked earth.

The Chimera trundled purposefully forward, a string of empty fuel tanks trailing behind it as it headed towards St Aenis hive.

“So, how does that damned Acklay expect us to conjure up enough promethium to supply the better part of the PDF?”

“I don’t know Private, but so long as you keep that mouth of yours firmly shut then we shall doubtless find a way. The Emperor shall provide.”

“Oh quit the religious babble Krull, how is the Emperor supposed to smite promethium from the living rock from several hundred lightyears away?”

“If I were you I’d keep your heresy to yourself, if you don’t want to experience the business end of this plasma pistol!”

“There he goes again, if rhetoric doesn’t work then this plasma pistol might, Mr high-and-mighty, ooh-I’ve-got-a-big-sword fething NCO!”

“I heard that, Agnar!”

“You were meant to! And for the last time that’s “Killcrazy” to you! I always said Theophilus Agnar was a damn stupid name anyways.”

“Do you want to face a firing squad when this is all over, because you’re going the right way about it!”

Private Berg heaved a heavy sigh. The journey had lasted ten minutes so far, and already Agnar and Krull were throwing insults at each other. The rest of the squad should have been relaxed and contented. Instead of being picked apart by chittering hordes of ugly taloned xenos, they were sitting safely in the back of a Chimera on a trip to a promethium refinery. The atmosphere was somewhat apprehensive however – everyone had friends back at the front who they might not be seeing again. Hanek was nervously fiddling with the dials on his vox-set, in apprehension of new orders. Most of the channels, however, currently registered nothing but yells, explosions and the occasional gurgled death throes, which was doing nothing for his already shaky nerves. In a feeble attempt to lighten the mood, Hern was attempting to juggle his spare plasma flasks, with little success. The driver, Private Hunchen, occasionally peeked his head round the door to tell everyone to “cheer the hell up”, but this did little more than Hern’s efforts. Berg hoped they got to St Aenis soon, as quite frankly he would rather face a Primarch in close combat than stay in a confined space with the most depressing squad in the Mudcrawler’s history.

Towards the East of the line, Surovi was having his own set of problems. They had already lost a good few light tanks and countless men to this initial onslaught alone, and the knowledge that he had Commissar Doppelpunkt peering over his shoulders did not help matters. After his first little run-in with the Ultramarine 2nd Company they were, of course, requited of all the slanderous charges made against them, however the Ordo Hereticus insisted that Surovi’s old friend Commissar Brunt be relegated to a Platoon Command Squad, and his place taken by a Commissar handpicked by them, to ensure that no possible lapse in duty could ever occur. This man turned out to be Commissar Doppelpunkt. A haughty, imperious officer with a heavy Camaric accent, a large nose (which he was very sensitive about) and a strong dislike of just about everyone, he and Surovi were not exactly best of friends, and Surovi knew that he would take any opportunity to fry his brain with a laspistol given half a chance. At the moment he was barking orders at anyone who came near, shooting a few guardsmen who “breathed in a cowardly fashion”, and staring at Surovi through the cold red glass of his bionic eye, just in case. Surovi tried to ignore his stare, and concentrated on bolstering the morale of the few troops Doppelpunkt hadn’t shot, occasionally ramming his powersword through the underbelly of a low-flying Gargoyle, or firing a few well-timed bolts into the cordite-scented air. Every so often he would step down from the firing step and comfort the more gravely wounded of his men, and occasionally yell for Horci, the platoon medic. This was leadership. This was how you won battles, not by hiding under a table and barking the occasional order to remind everyone who’s boss, like that fool Acklay. He probably couldn’t hit the broadside of a Titan with a sniper rifle, let alone coordinate and effective defence. With men like him in command, thought Surovi, it’s no wonder they needed to call in us and two Space Marine chapters to bale him out.

Despite what Surovi thought, however, Acklay was not hiding under a table. He was instead hiding under what had once been Sergeant Lebed of the 15th Funestans, but was now a mutilated body with a notable lack of left arm, left foot, the better part of his skull and, more importantly, life. He really did not want to be here. Join the Guard, they said. Nobody will bother about this obscure little system, they said. All the ladies will love you, they said. The truth of the matter was that despite his numerous medals, dashing good looks, heroic character and pots of money, most women he met were more interested in Dackbridge the fething standard bearer, or the latest Ecclesiastical chant, or what the trendiest acolytes were wearing, or slapping him. And although when he joined up there had been nothing more to worry about than purging the odd heretical gathering, since these damned Tyranid incursions he hardly had a moment’s peace. And now they actually wanted to rip him to shreds. He really wanted to go home, he really, really wanted not to have joined the Guard in the first place, and more than anything else he really, really, really hoped that Vitellius didn’t find him.

“Lord General!”

“Wha? Whassapenin?”

“I’m sorry if I caught you off guard, sir. I bear important news.”

“Well…I say you damned well should be sorry! This had better be important, Sergeant…Sergeant…what’s your name?”

“Lieutenant Borat sir, platoon nine, 15th Funestans. Do you want the bad news first, sir, or the good?”

“Better be bad first, I suppose.”

“Well sir, the bad news is that Colonel Etrich lies dead and his entire division have been almost eradicated. We’re recalling men from the Western lines to support what’s left of them, but the situation there is grave.”

“Damn! Some of our finest men were in that division! Tell me the good news, quick, I need something to smile about.”

“The good news is that there doesn’t seem to be any more of these winged monstrosities arriving. We just need to deal with what we have here. And as well as that, we have received transmission from the battle barge Requiem. The Blood Pigeons have beaten off the Eldar with minimal casualties, and are on their way over here with all possible haste.”

“Well that much is good, I suppose. I hope they brought plenty of flamers, because we’re going to…”

“What is it, sir?”

But Acklay just stood there, staring into the skies. He stood, frozen in horror for what seemed like an aeon, before the adrenaline kicked in.

“Run! It’s a fething Harridan and it’s dead and big and heavy and falling right on top of us! Don’t just stand there gawping, fething well leg it! Run! Run! R…”

Then his world exploded.

“Corvus! Why in the Emperor’s name did you do that?”

“I had to, Parvus! Now stop arguing and see if you can see where Speeder Gamma II is, the vox-link is dead.”

“That does not surprise me! The hit with that Harridan crippled us! Half of the controls are not responsive! The front grav-plating is hanging on by shreds! The dorsal plane has been completely ripped off! Madness begets heresy, Corvus!”

“Do you question me? Would you rather that I shot you now for such cowardice? Now that we are in this situation, we must work together if we are to stay alive. Now look for Speeder Gamma II!”

Acklay tried to look around. He soon regretted it – all he could see was blinding white. He could hardly hear a thing over the deafening ringing in his ears. He couldn’t feel the lower half of his body. As he tried desperately to move his arms the world gradually swam back into focus. And he started to remember everything – the panic, the shouting, the running…

Oh no, he thought. I’m under a dead Tyranid son of a Squiggoth and I can’t get out. Bum.

“We’re approaching the North Gate of St Aenis, guys!” Hunchen yelled through the door to the driving compartment. “Get ready to disembark in ten minutes or so, because if I remember rightly the Promethium refinery should be somewhere around here.” The others looked somewhat relieved, but their relief was short lived. Not long later, the Chimera ground to a sudden halt, with the promethium tankers crashing together behind.

“What’s going on in there, Private?” Krull snapped. “We can’t be there already.”

“It’s not that, sir.” Hunchen replied. “The gate…I couldn’t see before, it’s pretty dark in there…well, it’s shut.”

“Shut? But they haven’t shut the city gates in years! They aren’t in danger, the PDF and the rest of them are seeing to that, so why?”

“Well, Lieutenant, I know as much about this as you do. It’s all a mystery to me.”

“Well get out there and tell them to open the accursed thing!”

“Right away sir.” There was a scrambling noise as Hunchen made his way up the ladder to the turret hatch, which creaked open, and from inside the Chimera Krull could just about hear Hunchen making his demands. He then got back in, closed the hatch and poked his head through the door to the driving compartment.

“Well?”

“There..there…there’s no answer, sir.”

“Call again then, man!”

“It’s no good. I looked, there’s no lights in the gatehouse. No signs of life, nothing. What are we supposed to do?”

Krull looked confused for a moment, and then made his mind up.

“Well man, if they won’t open the thing we’ll just have to open it for them, won’t we? Berg, did you bring the demolition kit?”

Meanwhile, Acklay was having problems of his own. He had been stuck under the corpse of the Harridan for what seemed like hours. He had fished out his spare bayonet from one of his many equipment belts, and was desperately hacking away at the insides of the beast in the hopes of tunnelling himself out. He had somehow survived this much, and he wasn’t going to die in here. It stank, for one thing. After a little while, he hit a strange quivering organ, full of some liquid or another. He had a terrible feeling what it was.

Right, he thought. I’ve found the things’ stomach. From what I can remember, it landed belly down. These things have their stomachs in the middle somewhere, near the wings if I remember rightly. So, above me is huge plates of armour. All around me is its ribcage. I started in about the only fleshy part on the thing.

Yup, I’m dead.
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:31   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Battle for Inanis VI

Outside Acklay’s stinking prison the fighting was all but over. The Generals were consolidating their troops and counting the dead, while the last few remaining Tyranids were being picked off by the surviving Land Speeders. While Surovi consulted with Commissar Brunt, Vitellius Cumulus and Calgon were evaluating the battle.

“How many Speeders did we loose?”

“Three-quarters of our total compliment, Brother-Captain. Squads Beta and Sigma were wiped out, many more have only one remaining Speeder, and there are a few still unaccounted for. I’ve sent out a few servitors along with Techmarine Sordidus to salvage what we can.”

“Don’t sound so glum, Cumulus! We did beat them off after all, with minimal losses from the rest of the Company. I daresay they won’t pick on the Speeders so much when the main bulk of their army arrives.”

“That, Calgon, is because they we be to busy blasting the rest of us to bits.”

“You see, Vitellius? There’s always a bright side, you just have to look for it.”

“Calgon?”

“Yes, Vitellius?”

“Never mind. Cumulus, do you have any idea when the second wave hits us?”

“Is it not written, I wilt be buggered if I have got a clue, yea verily?”

“Oh. That bad.”

“I’m afraid so. All our landline vox systems are down. As of 15 minutes ago, we’ve had no contact with the rest of the planet, not even St. Aenis hive. The Tyranids seem to have messed up the grid somehow, but it usually takes nothing short of calculated sabotage to undermine the network in this way. And the Tyranids shouldn’t have reached the main comm station for hours…I’m telling you Vitellius, something doesn’t smell right here. Liquorice bonbon, peoples?”

“Cumulus, have I ever said no to a liquorice bonbon?”

Meanwhile, outside the suspiciously quiet city of St Aenis, Private Berg was preparing for a little breaking and entering.

“The charges are all set, Sergeant!”

“Good work Berg. Anyone here have the initiative to bring a box of matches?”

Silence.

“Didn’t think so. Good job one of us hade made landfall on Planet Sensible, isn’t it?”

Krull promptly withdrew a crumbling box of matches with a flourish, withdrew a match, struck it on Theophilus “Killcrazy” Agnar’s unresisting stubble, and placed it to the long string of det-tape leading to the mighty doors of St Aenis. After a few tense and exciting minutes, nothing happened.

“Err…sarge?”

“Yes, Private Hern?”

“Shouldn’t there be like…you know…explosions and stuff? Flames? Bits of metal scythin’ off in all directions, like?”

“It’ll go, don’t you worry. Just give it time.”

“Well, can’t you make it go faster? We got a time limit on this, you know. Them Hellhounds need their fuel.”

“Have faith, Private. If a man has faith, he can achieve any-

For a few agonising moments the squad’s ears were filled with the deafening roar of half a kilogram of explosive going up in flames, then as the ringing in their ears subsided they surveyed the scene. A few tatters of the mighty metal doors hung uselessly in the blazing frame, outlining the doorway in a ring of searing white heat. All around them there was the gentle pattering of very, very small bits of metal plummeting into the mud at high velocity.

“See, Hern?” said sergeant Krull, suddenly elated, “I told you it would work! If a man has faith he may achieve anything! Drive on, Hunchen! Let’s get some promethium!”

Wing Commander Corvus was not having a good day. His best mate Brother Darcias was in Speeder Gamma III when it went down, and Cumulus would kill him when he found out about his “little moment” with the Harridan. And as for Vitellius…what was that beeping noise?

“Corvus! Corvus! The turbojets are cutting out!”

“What, Parvus? Can’t you see I’m…oh. That’s bad, right?”

“Yes it is! It means, Corvus, that we are going to crash!”

“Ah. That’s definitely bad. Well, come on! Don’t just sit there gawping, initialise the emergency landing procedures!”

“Corvus, in order to do that we need at least one operational tailfin, a dorsal aileron plane and 50% flight control, none of which we have!”

“Then, Parvus, you pray to the Emperor, put your head between your legs and kiss your posterior goodbye!”

Back on the ground, Vitellius was trying to make sense of the few bits of intelligence they had on the oncoming hordes.

“So, Cumulus, this orbital pictograph shows the general bulk of the incursion to be heading North-West from the Damascus Barrens, am I right?”

“Yes, Brother-Captain.”

“And this is dated from a week ago, right?

“Yes?”

“And yet this vox-recording taken from outpost XLII-Alpha records the Tyranids reached the area two weeks ago? And according to pictographs from that time the Tyranids were miles away from Damascus! None of this adds up! Not a single bit of information we have agrees! About the only thing we can discern with any certainty is that the Tyranids seem to be massing here, in the Damocles Range, and not even that makes sense! The place is completely barren! There’s nothing to eat! I’m telling you, this doesn’t smell right at all, not for Tyranids. There is something driving those things, and I am going to find out what it is. And where’s that damned Acklay?”

“I don’t honestly know, Brother-Captain. Shall I send out some servitors to look for him?”

“There’s no need, Cumulus. The man’s probably covering under a bush somewhere, he’ll come out when he realises the fighting’s over for now.”

“Er, Sir?” chipped in the normally cheerful voice of Chaplain Calgon. It was now edged with fear. “Perhaps it might be in your best interests to run? Very fast, perhaps?”

“Oh for Emperor’s sake, what is it now Calgon?”

“W-w-well sir, it’s just that there’s something plummeting towards our command trench right now, quite fast, as it happens. It looks like the sort of thing you would not want to get hit by.”

“Parvus! We’re headed right for the command trench! We’re breaking up! I can’t feel my elbows! We’re all going to die!”

“I agree, Corvus! And Vitellius is going to be furious! Brace for impaaaact!!”

The stricken craft lurched, speeding downwards still faster until it plunged into the quagmire surrounding the command trench. For a few terrifying seconds it leapt up again, then spun, then buried itself into the mud again. Now rapidly loosing speed, it broke past the barbed wire, burst into the command dugout and came to rest a few metres away from the cowering forms of Vitellius, Cumulus and Calgon amidst a tangled mess of concrete, wood, wires, mud and paper. Vitellius was the first to recover from the shock of it.

“Corvus! Parvus!” he screamed, small bits of concrete raining from the roof with every word, “Get your sorry behinds out of that Landspeeder NOW!”

Acklay was getting very bored. He had now been trapped under the corpse of the Harridan for over an hour. He could now feel the lower half of his body. Unfortunately, this meant that he could feel that it was blazing agony to move his legs even an inch. He now also had terrible acid burns down most of his right arm since he hacked at the wrong slimy quivering green thing. This moment had now officially replaced that time when he woke up stone drunk in the middle of St. Aenis city centre wearing nothing but an embarrassing leather thing and a large placard reading “Will lapdance for food” as the worst moment in his life. And that took some doing.


The chimera containing Lieutenant Krull and his squad trundled purposefully through the empty streets of St. Aenis. So far, they were having little luck. Hunchen, the driver, had lost his map of the city, which he swore he had in his pocket a minute ago. The long train of tankers the chimera dragged behind it kept catching on the tight corners, yet no-one seemed to mind when a lamppost was casually ripped out of the ground by a rampant tanker. This was mostly because there seemed to be nobody around to mind. This was worrying.

“So, remind me again Hunchen, where is this refinery supposed to be?”

“Well, Krull, we should be there by now. Of course, if I had a map it would be a lot easier.”

“Well that’s your own stupid fault, not mine. And can’t this accursed machine go any faster?”

“It could, but not with all these tankers behind us. Unless, of course, you want to destroy more of the city than we already have.”

“Well, if I hadn’t had the initiative to blow down those doors we would be still sitting around outside the city getting bored, while our men are dying out there! And your pathetic driving is doing more damage to this place than an orbital lance strike, I might add. Now give me that lever thingy, I’ll show you how you’re meant to drive one of these. Good grief man, it’s a wonder you ever passed your APC driving test…”

“Hey, Krull! What in the Emperor’s name are you doing?

“Driving, and a damn sight better than you. What does this button do?”

“Don’t press that! And give me that damned control lever!”

“Shan’t!”

“Shall too!”

“Not if you don’t want to be court martialled!”

“Let go!”

“No!”

“For the Emperor’s sake let go, you raving lunatic! You’re going to WATCH OUT!!”

For a few painful seconds the cramped interior of the tank was filled with the grating sound of tortured metal and falling masonry. Gradually, the noise of the engines died away, leaving the noise of a few loose pebbles clanging onto the roof of the chimera.

“Oy, who turned off the lights?”

“Where’s my plasma gun?”

“All right Hunchen, now what’ve you done?”

Krull was furious. “Hunchen, you idiot! If you hadn’t tried to snatch that damned lever off me this wouldn’t have happened!”

“And who was it who took it in the first place?”

“Well done, Krull. That’ll be some points on your license.”

“And you can shut up too, Agnar! I’ve warned you about this insubordination!”

“That’s “Killcrazy” to you. Get it right, dammit!”

“I will call you by whatever name I like!”

“Says who?”

“Says me, Agnar!”

“It’s Killcrazy! Killcrazy! K-i-l-, ermm…k…”

“Will you lot quit bloody bickering!!”

Silence.

“Right,” said Private Berg, “I am sick and tired of you lot complaining like little schoolgirls! Now, can we just for one minute behave like sensible, reasonable adults? Now, let’s get out of the tank, see how much of a mess Krull here has caused, and…”

“But it was his fault!”

“Shut up! I don’t care whose bloody fault it was! Now lets get out, observe the damage, happy now Krull, and see what we can do about it. And ask for directions this time!”

Meanwhile, back at the proverbial ranch, Corvus and Parvus had a job to do.

“I don’t believe it! I just don’t believe it! How does Cumulus expect us to find every single bit of that Speeder? The stuff must be spread out for miles!”

“Be fair, Corvus. We had just flown the thing into their command dugout. And quite a large bit of concrete had just landed on his head.”

“Even so, every single bit of it? There must have been hundreds of bits that flew off it!”

“All right, I get the idea! Now shut up and look!”

“Don’t you shut up me!”

“I have every right to shut you up! You were the one that crashed it into a Harridan!”

“So? They can repair it! And besides, that armchair general Surovi had no right to tell me off like that!”

“He’s hardly an armchair general, Corvus. He once took down an entire bio-titan with just a rusty ice axe!”

“Anyone could have done that!”

“You’re saying that just anyone could have climbed that thing’s leg, hung onto its neck upside down five storeys up in the air, rammed his ice axe repeatedly into its brain, hung their while it was in its death throes, and survived being crushed under tonnes of dead bio-titan for five hours until someone noticed him? All this in the middle of a gigantic battle, while the bio-titan itself was plunging itself at the city walls, and with him himself with his right arm ripped to shreds and a bloody great hole in his chest? I don’t think so!”

“Oh, so you fancy him now?”

“What? I…but…no!”

“Parvus fancies Surovi! Parvus fancies Surovi!”

“Shut up!”

“You shut up!”

Under the dead Harridan, Acklay was listening intently. Finally, there was someone here! He was saved! If only they’d stop arguing and listen to him screaming for help for a minute! That was the problem – how to get their attention. Unless…didn’t he have a demolition charge somewhere in one of those equipment belts?

Outside, Corvus and Parvus had finally got around to settling their differences.

“Look, Parvus. I’m sorry I shouted, and I’m sorry I got us into this mess. And I’m sorry I implied you fancied Lord-General Surovi.”

Acklay had found the demolition charge, and had crawled to the far end of the dead beast. He shoved it under the beast’s blood-slick flesh, ripped out the detonation pin, crawled frantically as far away as possible and hoped for the best.

“It’s okay, Corvus. And I’m sorry I overreacted.”

Acklay finally got to the other end of the corpse, huddled up in a corner and mentally counted down the numbers. Let’s see…6-5-

“Don’t worry. Come on Parvus, let’s find them parts.

4-3-

“Hey, over here! I think I found a bit!”

2-1-

“See, it’s blue, and I think that’s a sweet Emperor what the HELL was that?!”

Corvus and Parvus’ heads jerked to the side. Over on their left a huge cloud of smoke and flame mushroomed into the air, followed by chunks of burning meat. The air was filled with the scent of Tyranid bacon.

“Well come on Parvus, don’t just stand there gawping, check it out! It could be part of the Speeder going up, for all we know!”

The two marines raced over to the scene of the explosion. There was a small crater, surrounded by bits of flesh and chitin. Part of the dead body of the Harridan seemed to be…whimpering? Corvus walked over, lifted up the stinking remains of the corpse with apparent ease, and under it found, curled up into a little terrified ball…

“Good grief! It’s Acklay! How the hell did you get here?”

Iconoclast Class Destroyer “Word of Chaos”, 15:16 hours.

Eryx the Malevolent had a headache. A really bad one. Even with 200 lesser psykers aiding you, the Hive Mind is a difficult thing to bypass. Tyranids just aren’t like humans in that respect. The human mind is a relatively easy thing to bend to your will. But Tyranids are just a bundle of instincts and flesh, and then there’s the ever-present hive mind…the whole thing was driving him mad. Why him? If that damned Ezekiel wanted the wretched planet so much, why couldn’t he get it himself, instead of leaving him to do the dirty work? He just hoped that that accursed Vitellius didn’t hold the Tyranids back for too long, or his brain would start leaking out of his ears.
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Old 15 Aug 2007, 10:31   #4 (permalink)
42
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Default Re: The Battle for Inanis VI

It was an hour or so later when Acklay’s fuzzy world gradually swam back into focus. He was now lying on a makeshift bed (a plank and two oil drums with a tarp draped over it) in the infirmary dugout. It was currently very busy. And leaning over him holding something sharp and surgical was…

“Gah! Who the devil are you? And what’re you doing in my house?”

“Calm down, General. As it happens, I am Lance Corporal Horci, command platoon medic, XVth Funestans. Now if you’d just quit thrashing around for a minute I’ve got something to tell you…”

“Alright, alright! But first, I have some questions.”

“Go on.”

“Number one – why do I have an overpowering urge to sing a rousing song about a pretty young milkmaid from Gryponne V a’ sellin’ of her wares?”

“I’m afraid we are running rather low on anaesthetic. We had to add a little brandy.”

“And the pink flying Orks?”

“We also put in a little Obscura to strengthen it up.”

“Dear Emperor! Isn’t that stuff prohibited?”

“Never underestimate a Ratling’s ability to get prohibited stuff.”

“Okay. Number two – who in the Emperor’s name is this creep standing over me? Not you, the one with the daft grin and the chicken.”

“That would be Lieutenant Borat. He seems to be under the impression that you saved his life.”

“I did? When did I…Oh wait, that.”

“He’s rather grateful.”

“So I gathered. And why is he holding a chicken, anyway?”

“That’s Surovi’s pet chicken, Edna. She’s the regimental mascot. It would seem you also saved her life.”

“How nice.”

“Yes, it is isn’t it. Anyway, I believe Borat here has something to say.”

“Does he now? And what would that be, Lieutenant?”

Borat turned towards Acklay, still smiling. “I thank you deeply, sir. If you hadn’t warned me about the Harridan, neither I nor Edna would be here now. I’m very sorry about your leg, by the way.”

“Well, that’s very nice, but…my leg? What’s wrong with my leg?”

“It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along, Acklay.” Horci dreaded this next bit. “Well, when Corvus took you in you had a very serious compound fracture in your left leg, not to mention massive internal haemorrhaging. The muscles and ligaments were completely crushed and mangled – I did all I could, but I’m afraid I…couldn’t save it.”

Acklay was having trouble taking this all in. “So what you’re saying is that my leg – a leg I happened to be rather attached to, I might add – has been…”

“Removed, General. It’s in the bin over there, if you want it back. Anyway, you’ve got a rather attractive replacement, it’s right there if you want to take a look.”

Gingerly, Acklay peeked under the tarp over his legs, fearing what he might see. And when he did see it…

“Flaming hell man, what in the Emperor’s name have you shoved on the end of my leg?”

“That, Acklay, would be your new leg.”

“Leg? You call that a leg? It’s a bloody claw!”

“Not just a claw. It’s a rather aesthetically pleasing bronze talon-and-ball design…”

“What were you thinking! I have chair legs that look like this! It looks like I’ve pinched a leg off Edna here!”

“I might add, General, that I have provided replacement limbs to many of the great Guard commanders, and they were all perfectly happy with them.”

“Really? Like who? Commander Cluck of the 48th Poultry Grenadiers?”

“I suppose that you have heard of Lord Marshal Harazhan?”

“Course I have! Vostroyan bloke, big moustache, bionic leg…”

“That was my handiwork.”

“What, the moustache? Because I must say I’ve always rather liked that moustache.”

“The leg, General. Try not to be purposefully thick, it gets very tedious.”

“And who exactly said anything about it being purposeful?”

Back in St Aenis, the squad were trying to get their APC out of the front of a basilica, no easy feat by any means. At this particular moment they were trying to drag some of the larger lumps of concrete off the top.

“Left a bit, Hunchen!”

“Actually, perhaps a little to the right might do it.”

“Somehow I don’t think so, Hanek. Left!”

“No, look. If he moves it left he’ll just get it jammed in the…”

“Don’t want to know, Hanek. Come on Hunchen, we haven’t got all day!”

“Listen, Krull! If he moves it to the left he’ll…”

“La la la la laa, I’m not listening, la da dee, la da dum…”

“Oi! Perhaps you lot down there could actually help me move this bloody great lump of concrete, instead of bickering amongst yourselves?”

“What a ridiculous suggestion, Hunchen! What would that achieve?”

“This thing would be moved a whole lot quicker, for a start!”

“Even so, you need someone down here to supervise.”

“Someone, maybe. Not five!”

“Well, something like this needs a lot of supervision.”

“Oh, for the love of…”

“Wait!”

Krull looked around, confused. “What was all that about, Berg?” he asked.

“There’s somebody over there! Perhaps he knows where the refinery is?”

“And?”

“Maybe we should ask him?”

Krull thought for a minute. Eventually he came to a conclusion. “Excellent suggestion, Berg! Was just thinking of that myself, actually. He looks a bit weird, though.”

Krull was right about that last point. The person in question was staggering towards the squad with a vacant expression and a glazed look in his eyes. He was also holding a large bloodstained stick, but this did not seem all that odd at the time.

“Well,” said Krull, expectantly “Go and ask him, then!”

Reluctantly, Berg sidled up to the stranger in question. “Errm…” he began, “Do you by any chance know the way to the big promethium refinery? You know, the one with the big chimneys and all the barrels outside?”

No answer.

“Any idea?”

Still no answer.

“Any at all?”

“The Dark Gods will claim your soul”

“Sorry, could you repeat that? I’m a little hard of hearing, see, and…”

“THE DARK GODS WILL CLAIM YOUR SOUL!!!!!!”

“Hey, easy now. That’s heretical talk, that is. The Ordo Hereticus won’t be very happy bunnies if they find out you like Mr Chaos. You can put that stick down now, yes, the one with all the occult symbols on that you’re holding. In a threatening manner, I might add. Now just calm down, think happy thoughts and WILL SOMEONE BLOODY WELL HELP ME?”

The figure continued advancing on Berg, nasty sharp stick raised. Screaming heretical litanies, he was about to sprint towards him to deliver a killing blow when Berg’s friend Mr Plasma Gun stepped in to lend a helping hand. The stranger, stopped, staggered, screamed a bit and collapsed into a small smoking heap on the ground. Gradually, a small pool of melted internal organs trickled from his charred body. Hern just stood there, casually blowing the smoke from the barrel of his cooling plasma gun.

“Thanks, Hern.” Berg said, relieved. “Took your time, didn’t you?”

Having found Acklay and a few bits of twisted metal that probably came from their Landspeeder, Corvus and Parvus were now having a little rest.

“More coffee, Parvus?” Corvus offered.

“Decaf?”

“Nope, sorry.”

“I’ll pass then. That stuff keeps me up all night.”

“Ah well, all the more for me.” Corvus poured the gelatinous brown mess into his mouth straight from the Thermos, and continued staring at the horizon.

“Corvus?”

“Yes, Parvus?”

“Why do you have a flask of coffee with you? I swear you didn’t earlier.”

“Found it still clenched in the hand of a dead NCO.”

“Corvus, that is disgusting!”

“What? It’s not like he’ll be needing it where he’s going. I’m not even sure if this is coffee. It certainly doesn’t taste like it.”

“Probably mud. There’s enough of it around.”

“I’m just going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

The two marines sat for a moment, calm in the hazy light of the day. Then Corvus noticed something.

“Parvus,” he said, his voice edged with overtones of dread, “can you see that?”

“What?”

“That thing over there, on the horizon!”

“That? Just shadows.”

“Shadows of what?”

“Well, they…um…good point, actually.”

“Do you remember Vitellius saying something about a second wave?”

“Err…vaguely. Why? What has…oh, right. I think I get your point.”

“Time to run?”

“Bloody good idea if ever there was one, Corvus. LEG IT!!”
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Old 17 Aug 2007, 21:07   #5 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: The Battle for Inanis VI (Part 1)

I'm all for comedy but this is far too much. The 40K universe is dark and there is little place for such humerous characters within it.

Now for the good news, I thought that a lot of the jokes in this were very funny and I found myself laughing at a lot of it. However I am a bit weary of how the humour only succeeds if you take out the fluff, or rather the very essence of this whole competition. This is funny stuff but because of that I don't like it very much which is a real shame.
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