Novaskaggi Heimrocs

power run part II

Power Run, Part II

“Foreman, contacts at crossroad,” Lmn. Bosinov reported over the bead. Delta squad was still crossing the access road to the warehouse across the street. The orks charging after the ore hauler bellowed as the massive truck came into view in the lee of the manufactorum. The lead ork shouted and pointed his weapon at Skg. Reed ,”Delta you’re made.”

Tm. Krasheninnikov vaulted the fence at speed, Bosinov had often wondered how the scrawny mountain man scrambled around so fast. A moment before the orks reached the rest of Delta, the squad slipped through the wooden gate and slammed it shut behind them. From his angle next to the ore hauler, Bosinov couldn’t see what was happening on the other side of the fence.

The orks bellowed, kicking at the gate.. They roared over the clitter-clatter of an overhead door opening. What in the warp are they doing?

Oh, ho, ho, ” Zhurov said over the bead, he was positioned several feet above Bosinov on top of the ore hauler, and could likely see the events across the fence easily. What’s that? Bosinov heard a muffled beeping over the shattering of the gate under greenskin punishment.

A few seconds later, a section of fence several meters down from the gate also exploded in splinters. Bosinov felt the Foreman’s sigh more than heard it at the beginning of his transmission.

Cover Krash, ” came the order. To Bosinov’s momentary shock,an industrial forklift whining across the road, yellow safety light spinning and caution tone bleeting through the night. It could only be Krasheninnikov behind the control panels. The ork runtherd immediately broke away from the gate to pursue the machine.

Snapping lasfire reached out from gamma squad at he ork and his school of grots. The child-like gremlins stumbled face-first into the pavement, but their hulking leader seemed unfazed. Moments later, the rest of Delta squad came sprinting through the break in the fence-line behind Krash.

Keep on the runtherd, ” the Foreman ordered. Bosinov took a breath and squeezed the trigger. Without recoil, moving components, or smoke the only indication he’d fired at all was the slight odor of ozone, half-second sustained beam of the trace laser, and near-hypersonic whine of the capacitor re-energizing. Bosinov saw a slash of smoke and vaporizing flesh erupt across the runtherd’s left arm, eliciting an angry scream but having little more effect.

Sonavumuska , these greenskins were tough, at least three other slashes had burned into the ork at the same time. The rest of the orks were screaming on the other side of the fence, Just getting started.

The forklift bounced into the parking lot of the manufactorum, out his sight behind the ore hauler, but it sounded like he was driving for the cargo door at the west end of the building. In any case, nothing Boz had to worry about for now. He fired another pair of shots at the runtherd, which finally stumbled to the ground, limbs sizzling as intense heat spread through the flesh from where the lasshots criss-crossed its body. Horrified, Boz watched as the ork, rather than writhe in agony as so many cytheran eldar and so many more soldiers of the imperium had, roared defiantly and pulled himself closer to the ore hauler.

Take out the followers ,” Foreman ordered. Gamma squad opened fire on the orks charging through the fence hole across the street. A hollow thump from above Boz indicated another shot from Hunter Zhurov’s grenade launcher. A shower of blood and flesh erupted from a charging ork’s shoulder as laser lanced his legs and sent tripping into the pavement.

Fall back to the door, ” his microbead buzzed. Boz tapped Skg. Mitin’s shoulder, and his battlemate popped-off two shots as they backed down the side of the ore hauler.

Grenades and lasfire peppered the orks, but six of them made it as far as the side the truck. Inferno grenades fell from the top of the vehicle and ignited them in flames as more grenades exploded among them. Within seconds, they were down. Foreman stepped forwards calmly, kicking weapons aside, “Clear, regroup, reload.”

Loading generator, ” the sound of straining hydraulics accompanied Krash’s voice over the bead. Acolyte Yanov ran to the cab and coaxed the great machine spirit to life.

Contact! Rear doors! ” someone shouted over the bead as shots rang out in the manufactorum. As the truck rocked with the weight of the generator, Foreman yelled loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Mount-up! Mount-Up!” Skaggis swarmed up the access ladders into the dump bucket as Krasheninnikov sprinted for the cab under a hail of ork fire. Gamma and Delta unleashed suppressive fire into the manufactorum as the vehicle rumbled forward.

With a cheer, they pulled away from the manufactorum, forklift bouncing free and crashing to the pavement. The squads fell against he walls of the bucket, breathing deeply and giving reassuring nods to one another. They weren’t out of danger yet, but they were definitely on their way out.

Boz felt the truck buck over debris, then he lost his balance as the truck pitched forward down an incline. He had to throw his leg out to stop his roll. The generator screeched past within inches of his boot. Someone shouted a warning, followed by a grunting scream of pain.

“Marge’s down!” someone shouted from the front of the bucket. Boz scrambled forward just as the truck pitched-up the other side of the stream. Shouts of alarm echoed off the steel walls, but the generator didn’t shift. They scrambled to pull the generator back to free Marge, but it was hopeless. They stared quietly at her crushed body.

Boz didn’t know the Zhurovs very well, but there wasn’t a skaggi in the VII that wasn’t part of the family. Their transport rolling over an ork firebase did little to distract them from the loss of another cousin. They charged ahead through the main battleline on the highway out of the village. Boz lay his lasgun on the edge of the bucket and fired pot shots at the greenskins on the road, finishing-off his mostly spent power pack and slapping a fresh one into place. He heard Yanov try to shout at the ghostwalker fighters, but the roar of weapons fire and howling engines overpowered his attempts.

Stray shots plinked off the heavy steel of walls, but the skaggis didn’t react. They were clear of the combat zone and on their way back to base with the objective. Boz propped himself securely against one the bucket’s heavy still ribs, staring at the trees as they passed.

This was such a strange planet. The weather was worse than Cythera, the air was thicker than even the equatorial scrub islands of that oceanic hell. On top of that, all the vegetation clogged the air with spores and pollen, and made impossible to see more than fifty feet. He hated this place, he hated trees, he hated…,”Incoming!” he shouted.

Something huge was forcing its way through the forest toward the road. The ore hauler was built for strength, not speed, and this thing was plowing through the dense terrain fast. He smashed onto the roadway behind them, tree-thick legs pounding pits into the pavement. The four meter tusks, tipped with jagged steel, swung back and forth as the great beast bellowed louder than the truck engines.

There was a haphazard structure strapped the creature’s back, and orks were hanging off it at improbable angles. The beast charged forward, narrowly missing the rear gate with the sharpened tusks. Boz looked at it in horror. Half the squad backed away from the edge of the truck in fear. Then it got worse.

The truck bounced, and Boz saw broken trees passing on either side of him. They were off the road. “Why are we off the road!” he shouted over the bead.

Krash is out! ” someone responded. The creature was getting closer, he could see a pair of greenskins leaning-out over the front. The beast rammed the back of the truck, shaking the entire vehicle. The pair of orks leapt from the structure, falling in muscular pile on the deck. Boz scrambled to get his weapon on target, he pulled the trigger madly, shots going wide.

“We’ve been boarded!” he gasped over the bead. There was no response, but the truck swerved drunkenly to avoid a boulder. The creature fell back and set-up for another charge. The squad fired madly into the orks aboard, felling one, the other still swinging about with his grisle-stained blade.

As the ork warbeast made another charge, the truck swerved narrowly to avoid it, but another pair of orks leapt onto the truck. Gamma and Delta were beginning to recover, and the second ork was now tumbling over the edge. One of the greenskins fired a volley at random into the skaggis, and the foreman screamed out in pain as his leg was blasted through, staining the rusting truck bed.

The skaggis leapt into knife-fighting postures, weaving around the heavy, slow limbs of the boarders. Yanov fired his laspistol point blank, slashing a growing trench of fire in the larger ork’s thigh. It responded by smashing down on his hand, and the acolyte reeled, howling, as his fingerless-hand sprayed blood across the squad. Someone landed a killing stab in the smaller ork’s main ganglia, sending it into a spasm, but failing to fell it. Vishenko was tossed like a child’s toy against the steel wall and slumped to floor dazed.

Boz drew his pistol and rolled under a green fist, firing twice. Flames leapt from the ork’s thigh and it howled almost as loud as the giant creatures till following the truck. It slashed out, and stars glittered in Boz’s vision, his shoulder was numb.

A blinding flash and ear-splitting thunderclap reminded him to breath and he screamed in pain and shock. Skg. Reed was leaning white-knuckled, against his loader, and they let out a cheer for not reason he could comprehend. The ork roared again, but was cut-off mid scream, falling with all of its dead weight on Boz’s legs. The squad wasn’t screaming anymore, except Foreman’s grunts of pain, clutching his shattered leg, they were quiet.

Once he was free from beneath the ork, he saw the creature careening in zig-zags through the forest around them.

Krash is up ,” the bead advised, and a couple of soldiers patted Reed on the shoulder. Flashing the “good shot” hand sign. Boz flexed his arm, bleeding, but not broken. He was just about to ask what the hell just happened when the rampaging mountain of muscle appeared in front of the truck.

Hold on! ” the same voice from the cab warned, Boz’s eyes went wide as they accelerated towards the animal head-on.

“Empyrean…” he half-whispered, pushing towards the back of the truck. They slammed into the beast, the squad opened fire on the orks still clinging to the ramshackle hut on its back. There was a muffled explosion, and the animal shook the squad’s intestines with its roar. Boz watched it tear apart a stand of trees, whipping its head back and forth.

The truck soon emerged from the trees, back onto the road, and they all trained their weapons rearward until it the orks and their monstrosity were well out of site.

“Mitin, help me with his leg,” Boz scuttled over to the Foreman, whose face was pale and sweaty behind his mask of controlled pain. He pulled the medikit from his web-belt, straightening a bone splint and spraying disinfectant on the leg.

“Grrrrrhgghhhhnn,” Foreman gripped the side of the truck as Mitin held the leg straight and Boz tightly secured the splint with a bandage roll. He could see Olga and Reed doing their best to staunch the bleeding from the remains of Yanov’s right hand, the priest quietly reciting prayers to himself and gripping his aquilla pendent in his good hand.

Mitin pulled a stimpen from the kit and stabbed it into Foreman’s good thigh.

“Why didn’t you do that first?” Foreman growled, finally relaxing a bit. Mitin shrugged, then looked at Boz, particularly his bloody sleeve.

“Yeah,” He sat against the wall next to the Foreman. Mitin slid around and cut his sleeve off with a combat knife.

“Holy Emperor,” the gash was severe, Boz knew that, but he couldn’t see the bulk of it.

“How bad,” he grunted.

“Almost took your arm off, Boz,” Mitin sprayed disinfectant on the wound. Despite the pain spreading across his whole body, the sting of the disinfectant still rose above the rest, “What was that thing?”

“Squiggoth,” Yanov said, sitting-up against the generator, laspistol in his good hand, a boxing glove of bandaging resting on his lap.

“How many of those have they got?” Mitin bit through the linen roll and secured the tail.

“Too many,” Foreman grunted. They spent the rest of the night driving back to base in the slow, lumbering ore hauler. After an hour Boz got sick of looking at the congealing blood, gristle, and shell casings rolling around the truck bed, and went to sit next to Yanov against the generator. He watched the endless, damnable trees roll by under the dull moon and stars.

He missed the clear skies of Novaskag, the crisp air, the brightness and closeness of the stars. There were so few visible here, dwarfed by the roving mini-moons of imperial warships in tactical orbit.

How he longed for a Moshar hunt, or even a simple pipeline patrol. He missed the relative peace of his home. No, that wasn’t the right word. Consistency. Novaskag was a harsher place, death waited for you in every hour. To survive there was to be truly alive, every sense keened, your mind attuned to the land, the air, the tundra grasses every whisper. The breathing of the Moshar, the beat of your own heart, there were those that said the greatest hunters could feel the churning rhythms of Novaskag’s molten core.

So different from this place, from the imperial guard and its months of soft-lived monotony. The days of mind-dulling safety their bases and recreation halls and endless food supplies presented. Was he a softer man? Did this up-and-down cycle of pitched combat and comfort sharpen his blade or corrode it? If they were to return home tomorrow, would he still be the keen leader that had enlisted over half a decade ago?

He hated these questions; he hated having time for these questions. He hated watching squad mates go soft, and die. He hated a sister dying to retrieve a generator for these prancing buffoons while they sat in their armored transports. Most of all, he hated fighting orks.

The eldar had been vicious, but clean. Their weapons killed, better than the orks, but very efficiently. Their blades separated limb from body without the owner noticing for a few moments. More importantly, they had honor, with specific goals, inscrutable as they may have been. The orks were pure savagery. Not just primal, animals were primal, orks were something more. They hacked at limbs, their weapons tore and wrenched their victims apart, instead of cleanly piercing or vaporizing. Their only apparent objective was slaughter, and they were happy to do it.

Perhaps that was the biggest problem Boz had with them. Animals fought for fear or hunger, men fought for the same, usually. The Eldar, no one knew what they fought for, but they were grim in their task. Orks were eager to butcher, eager to die as long as they were butchering or destroying. It was almost as terrifying as the warp.

He must have drifted off to these thoughts, the next thing Boz was aware of was a great shuddering cough reverberating through the truck frame. He looked to the Foreman.

“Out of fuel,” he said quietly, “It’s alright, we’re not far.”

Krash is going ahead for help, secure the generator, ” Yanov said calmly over the bead. They all settled in, watching the sun rise through the trees.

Less than an hour later, a cargo truck and ambulances arrived to bring them back to base. Boz slept, thankful for the drug-induced sleep.

Power Run Part I

Power Run

Part I

Bright bursts of green splashed across the deeper, verdant hues of the village below him as he fell through the night sky. The wind howled around the sides of his helmet, and his gravchute whined on his back. He focused on the line of figures below him and the T-shaped target.

The hospital roof was sliding to his right, he pulled on the right control arm of his gravchute, and the roof came back on center, passed over, and slid left.

He jerked on the left control arm, and as soon as the landing pad on the roof was on center he cranked down on both arms, too hard. The gravchute immediately flared, and stalled under the too-heavy load of Demetri’s gear.

oh…fu- the air-processing unit flew-up to meet him, and made a first impression on his rib cage. The air rushed out of his lungs along with a dull crack, but no hint of a groan. He bounced off and unto the roof deck with a low, metallic ring in his ear, staring at the too-thick sky and its sick, fat clouds.

“Dimitri?” Yanov hissed over the bead, knowing only that the hunter had made a lot more noise than they needed right now. Bash glanced over the low edge of the roof, scanning the courtyard for signs that the orks had heard. Thankfully, the Ghostwalkers were making plenty of noise to the northwest.

“We’re still clear,” he whispered for the bead. Marge hustled over to her down brother and pushed on his rib cage, Dimitri gave her a threatening stare that spoke volumes in curses.

“Dimitri’s down,” she practically taunted over the microbead. Krash scampered over and opened his medikit. He looked at the air processing unit, not seeing any blood. Flipping to the stimpens, he frowned, tilted his head back and forth, and then selected one of the single-use injectors.

“Shirt,” he said, popping the aliquot out and priming it.

“Ah I hate this medico plan,” Dimitri groaned under his breath. Marge ripped the corner of his shirt up, and Krash jammed the pen into the hunter’s ribs, the quiet click indicating success. Then the operator sealed the kit and scuttled over to the roof hatch.

I thought he was transport? Marge signed as she pulled her brother to his feet.

Must be amateur day he signed back, grabbing the rest of his gear from the drop sled, bending gingerly.

Overwatch Yanov signed to Bash as he and Olga assembled the lascannon. The heavily muscled boomer nodded, tapping a finger on the side of his eye. Yanov grabbed the magnoculars from Dimitri’s pack while the hunter was checking his weapon, tossed them to the boomer, and slapped the “VII” patch on his left shoulder before spinning to meet Krash at the hatch. Volton “Bash” Reed returned the gesture.

The rest of the team gathered in a defensive ring around the hatch, Krash gripped the handle. Yanov touched the microbead stud on his helmet.

“Gamma,” he said.

”Gamma,” the other skaggi foreman replied, his voice scratchy and choppy.

“We’re down and searching the Hospital,” Yanov asked.

“_Starting on Manufactorum, Emperor Protect_,” the other skaggi signed off.

“Emperor Protect,” Yanov tapped the stud again, then nodded at Krash. He carefully opened the hatch and scanned the hallway below with his carbine before dropping silently into the gloom.

With their visors casting the darkened medicenter in clear shades of green, delta squad quickly advanced to the stairwell and down to the basement. They fluidly rounded corners, checking doorways and always moving under the cover of a squad mate.

The medicenter had been trashed. Charts, packaging, linens, and apparatus were scattered across every floor in a chaos too perfect to have been unintentional. The greenskins had taken the effort to eliminate any sense of order, as if it pleased their strange, heretical gods.

Krash entered the generator room first, as he had each new room, carefully sweeping a sensitive auspex in front of him. It didn’t take any device for him to know the generator was completely unusable. He shook his head at Yanov and signed, Only need a few parts to fix one on base, nearly done before we left.

Yanov lifted his visor so Krash could see his look of warning. The meddlesome mechanic had almost missed the bird for this mission trying to fix the malfunctioning base generator with Emperor-knows-what for parts. The tech priests had ordered this mission, which meant there was no fixing it.

How long? he signed. There was an ork camp literally a stone’s throw from the hospital. Krash held-up a single finger then started clambering spider-like around the hulking installation. Yanov directed the rest of the team to cover the door and keep on eye on the windows. By the time they were in position, Krash walked by Yanov without a word.

“Gamma,” he thumbed the comm stud.

“_Gamma_,” the bead replied.

“Hospital’s negative,” Yanov stated.

“_Manufactorum’s in good shape, but it’s big. We don’t have any transport,_” Gamma squad’s foreman said.

“We’ll find something and come to you,” Yanov said.

“_We’re dug in, gamma out,_” Gamma confirmed. Yanov closed the channel, the rest of the team heard the exchange.

“How’s the route to the mill, Bash?” Yanov asked.

“_Better the road than the yard_,” Bash scanned the roving ork patrols in the area behind the hospital. There were none on the main road out front.

“Copy, get down here,” Yanov ordered, looking at the rest of the team. He settled on Krash.

Mill has trucks? he signed. Krash shrugged.

Probably the short skaggi responded, Quarry has bigger ones. They’d all seen the artillery position smack in the village center during the insertion, they’d have to pass a lot of orks on foot to reach the quarry.

Mill is closer, safer. Go, he signed, and they went, taking up positions either side of the main hospital doors. There were a few buildings across the street, and a small wooded area just behind those. It was a lot more cover than the open street had to offer. Once Bash had joined them, Krash volunteered to go fist by striding up to the doors.

Yanov nodded, everyone covered the two ends of the street.

“Wait!” Bash said with quiet urgency. Krash backed into the shadows. A mob of ork infantry charged passed the hospital on their way to the battle raging in the woods to the west, a feint action by the Jingkai Ghostwalkers to cover the skaggi operation. The orks disappeared around a corner, and after a moment, Yanov nodded. Krash bounded across the thoroughfare like a buck moshar. The team followed one by one, the others covering their crossings. As Dimitri huffed across, his gait unsteady due to his aching chest, a gang of the squat gretchin-class orks tumbled around the corner at the eastern end of the street.

No no no they spotted the skaggi three-quarters of the way across and screech-whooped.

“Fucking come-on!” he muttered over the bead, this wasn’t his day. The grots started sprinting pell-mell down the street towards the lone human soldier. Krash and Yanov were already across, and they moved behind the nearest building to ambush the grots as they charged. Dimitri finished his crossing with a stream of curses. He and Olga got into position and he checked his grenade launcher had a firestorm grenade chambered.

As the first cluster approached, they started shooting in their excitement. Then another herd of them appeared around the corner, this time escorted by a pair of huge orks with massive poles, hollering and bellowing at the child-sized, rabid hellions before them.

“Big ones,” Bash said quietly, adjusting the track of the seven-foot lascannon barrel still carefully hidden in the hospital entrance. They entire gang charged forward. With a hollow thump, Dimitri launched a grenade at the first cluster of grots. It hit the mark, lighting a hanfull aflame, but only appeared to spur the others on. As the herd advanced, the team fired into them from all sides. Bashs’s lascannon burned into the ork herders, who somehow managed to survive the first shots.

The grots charged their new targets, forcing Yanov and Krash to retreat. They swarmed the acting foreman, stabbing with crude shanks and blades, and they nipped at Krash’s heels as he led them on a chase across the rear lawns and around to the main street back towards the team’s line of fire.

They thinned the grot ranks to a mere fraction in less than a minute, but just as they were about finish them off, a band of larger orks charged around the corner, bellowing mightily.

“We can’t fight the whole village,” Krash said, sprinting from the remaining grots toward the woods.

“He’s right, get to the woods!” Yanov cried, following the tech with Olga and Bash, the few remaining grots close behind them. Dimitri scrambled behind a different building and into the woods with his sister.

Sonuvabitch, Dimitri and Marge pushed through the branches into the stand of trees just as they heard a grenade explosion and grots howling. A few meters further into the trees, and they saw a ball of fire erupt in the woods to their right. The orks were obnoxiously loud.

They’ll wake the neighbor’s baby if the keep that up Dimitri signed as Marge tripped over a branch. She misinterpreted his joke, decided he was making fun of her, and kicked his shin.

What the fuck? he signed, Marge just motioned forward with her carbine. They pushed through the undergrowth as quiet as they could manage.

“_Krash, location,_” Yanov’s voice came over the bead.

“_Waiting to cross the road_,” he responded lazily.


Some,” Krash said.

“_Zhurovs?_” Yanov asked.

“West end of the woods, coming your way,” Dimitri responded.

“_No! They’re between us!_” Yanov warned, just as Dimitri stepped-out from behind a tree in front of eight greenskins.

“Oh,” he said in disbelief. “Sis, you should go,” he raised the grenade launcher as the lead ork shook his head in a battle cry. Marge took-off at a dead sprint through the shrubbery, heading back towards the hospital away from the orks. Dimitri pulled the trigger.

The red-painted grenade spiraled through leaves and branches, arming a few meters out of the barrel. It glanced off one of the ork’s jagged axes, tumbling into the loam between two of the bellowing monstrosities. They followed the little flash of movement, and howled in rage as it exploded, washing four of them and the bushes in chymical flame.

“Damn, I forgot the glaze!” Dimitri shouted as he turned to follow his sister. She was halfway to the nearest building, and the orks all charged after Dimitri.

“_Dammit, fall-back to the hospital,” Yanov ordered, “_Krash, location.” The smallest skaggi among them didn’t answer.

Dimitri saw Marge scramble through a window into the building ahead of him. He ran full speed, tossed his grenade launcher through the closest plate-glass, and leapt.

“Fuck!” his ribs screamed through him as he slammed against the wall, arms gripping the windowsill. Marge helped pull him inside. The surviving orks barreled, some of them on fire, out of the trees. The rest of the team, sans Krash, poured fire into them.

“_Prep for pick-up_,” Krash said coolly over the microbead, but Dimitri was too busy firing to figure out what in the Emperor’s name he was talking about.

As the last of the orks fell writhing to the ground, the team heard the unfamiliar screech of ground car tires and the bellowing of orks from the end of the street. They ran to the front of the building, and stood staring in confusion as a civilian transport tore down the road. One of the headlights was skipping along the pavement, and the front bumper bounced asynchronously with the rest of the vehicle. A pair of orks stood howling from the corner behind it, following on foot.

The car eased to a gentle stop next to the skaggis, and Krash looked at them through the window. “We should leave, now,” he said.

After loading into the car (Bash had to squeeze into the boot, lascannon covering their rear), Krash pulled them around the corner and eased them to a stop in a residential driveway.

Yanov pulled out their sketched copy of the aerial map as an ork mob, led by one of the huge nobs, charged north along the road they were next to. Thankfully, it didn’t notice the squad of commandos crammed into the parked sedan.

“The mills are that way,” Yanov pointed east.

“Lots of orks,” Krash said.

“Oh, sorry, you missed the briefing, this village is overrun with orks,” Dimitri said, with more than a hint of sarcasm, “lots of orks,” he swept his finger in a circle around the entire map from the passenger seat.

“Knock it off,” Yanov said, “fine. We don’t know the layout there, and that wasn’t exactly quiet just now.”

“The quarry, then?” Marge offered.

“There’s a lot of artillery between here and there,” Olga restated.

“Artillery is slow,” Krash stated, tapping the steering wheel.

“Fine, the quarry’s closer to gamma squad, and any thing big enough to carry a generator will be slow, too,” Yanov decided, he hit the stud, “Gamma.”

“_Gamma_,” came the response.

“We’re headed your way,” Yanov said.

“_We’ve secured the main warehouse, the generator’s inside a pair of double-doors. There’s no way we’re lifting this thing, what have you got?_"

“A practical family car,” Yanov said ,”we’re headed to the quarry to find a truck.”

A brief pause followed, then“_….Copy, gamma out._"

As Krash pulled out of the driveway, turning north, Bash called loudly from the boot, “Boomer!”

Dimitri looked in the rearview mirror and saw a cannon being wheeled around the corner by a pile of grots and an ork, “Really, a cannon?”

“Shoot it!” Yanov ordered, Krash stomped on the accelerator. The nearly subsonic buzz, following the resonating clap of the lascannon, reverberated through the car as the squad broke out rear windows and began firing. A shell from the ork cannon whistled past them and dug a crater into the pavement. Krash swerved to avoid the newborn pothole.

Dimitri’s grenade went wide, “Learn how to drive,” he snapped, rotating the chamber to his next krak grenade. The lascannon thunder-buzzed again, vaporizing the grot directing the cannon team. Dimitri hung out of his window, carefully lining-up his shot. The cannon fired, cloud of powder smoke billowing from the barrel as the shell ripped the air and exploded the roadway just behind the car. Dimitri fired back, the grenade spiraled, stabilizer fins correcting any wobble. It flew through the smoke, ricocheting down the cannon-barrel (to the sponge-grot’s surprise), and impacting with the shell cart.

The resulting explosion broke the glass out of every window for several blocks. Dimitri sat back in the passenger seat with whoop, “That’s the way! You saw that? You saw that?” he confirmed with his squad mates.

He was still cheering as they rounded the corner and rammed through a pack of orks charging the Ghostwalker lines, passing over a bridge spanning a steep ravine. His celebration turned to a yell as something heavy landed on the roof and a massive green fist smashed through his window.

“Ahhhh!” he yelled, along with at least one other person in the car. Krash began jolting the wheel back and forth. The nob wasn’t able to hold-on through the car’s thrashing, and he rolled off into a trio of his subordinates.

Their car skidded around another tight turn onto a gravel road leading to the quarry. The suspension creaked under their combined weight and the rough road. Surprised orks dove out of the way as Krash slammed through tents and firing positions at high speed. He thumped the car over a low rise and Dimitri noticed, somehow, that they were approaching the edge of huge pit.

“Kraaaash?” Dimitri asked.

“Get ready to bail,” Krash said, opening his door slightly, just in time to catch an ork’s oversized skull. There was a slight ridge just before the edge of the pit that would give them more altitude on the jump to deploy their gravchutes.

“Dear Emperor, activate grachutes!” Yanov ordered, realizing what Krash was doing.

“What?” Bash yelled from the boot. There was no time to answer. Instead of riding up the ridge as planned, the overloaded suspension buckled with the weight and dug the car into the dirt. Everyone was thrown roughly out the vehicle as it flipped forward over the lip of the pit. Yanov and Dimitri passed through the windscreen, severely twisting Dimitri’s leg. Bash was catapulted from the trunk. Unable to anticipate the collision, he smashed his helmet against the boot lid and lost his grip on the lascannon, which spiraled through the air behind him.

They all activated their gravchutes, but Dimitri’s flared too late given his lower trajectory out of the car. He hit the pit floor going far too fast and smashed his injured leg against a boulder. The rest of the team landed more or less together, save Krash. The tundraman maneuvered his gravchute towards one of the massive ore-haulers across the pit.

A pitched battle between the orks and ghostwalkers was underway, with volumes of fire crossing the pit above the team, but they weren’t being directly targeted yet. Dimitri lay staring up at the light show, unable to move for a moment with the combined white-hot pain of his ribs and leg. He finally remembered to take a breath, and immediately regretted it.

“Are you alive?” Marge asked as she skidded to her knees in the dust.

“Not if the Emperor loves me,” he groaned.

“Whiner,” Marge said, grabbing his arm and pulling him to his feet.

“Oh!” he grunted as he tried to put weight on his bag leg, Marge slung his arm over one shoulder and Yanov took the other, and they started to running for the hauler, well behind Krash.

Bash retrieved his battered lascannon, “Oh no,” he knelt to inspected the dented barrel and bent power coupling.

“Will it still fire?” asked Olga, running up with a pair of the heavy power packs.

“We’ll find out, come on,” He nodded to the hauler backing up toward them now.

Krash eased the massive vehicle to stop a few meters ahead of the squad and shifted to first while they climbed into the thick-walled bucket. They slumped against the walls, all nursing injuries from the crash.

“_Let’s go_,” Yanov ordered when they’d all secured into the back. Krash eased into motion, and began up-shifting as they ascended the wide ramp out of the pit. The orks immediately started firing at the rumbling mountain of steel and lights as they emerged. Artillery fire slammed into the side of the truck, which accepted the punishment without complaint.

They crested the edge of the pit, and Krash turned the wide wheel around to bring the truck careening through an ork encampment. The greenskins scattered before it or were ground beneath the house-sized wheels as delta squad bounced through the middle of the battlefield, suffering little more than chipped paint and a couple of blasted-out lights. They crossed the small stream without effort and powered up the far bank back into the village.

Krash pulled to a halt in front of the manufactorum, spotting the double-doors quickly. He backed the massive ore-hauler up to them, but there was no possible way the vehicle would fit inside. Gamma squad slowly emerged from their hiding places with a look of incredulity on their faces.

“What," their foreman asked slowly, "is that?”

“Our ride, what do you need?” Yanov asked as they opened the doors.

“It’s bolted to the floor, we don’t have any tools or cutters, and we don’t have any way to lift it, let alone get it way up there,” he gestured to the high floor of the dump bucket.

“We’ll take a look around, watch our backs. Krash, start cutting those bolts; delta, fan out and look for anything we can use to lift that bastard,” Yanov directed. They went to work.

The Refinery, Part IV

“Drive, Drive!” Tamarova shouted. Krash was already moving through gears on the Mule-pattern utility truck. It was difficult to tell, and she was paying more attention to the monstrosity bellowing in the rear view mirror anyway.

“You should duck,” Krash said calmly as he spun the wheel to the right, avoiding the dozen or so orks streaming into the refinery yard on their left. Some kind of energy blast slammed into the truck, just before a fusillade of boomer fire.

“Piece of shit beast,” Krash cursed the machine, “The omnissiah forgot you in his blessings, you bastard.” He swung the truck around violently, Tamarova was aiming her lascarbine out the window, but wasn’t pulling the trigger.

“Shoot it! Shoot it!” Krash hadn’t felt this in a long time. Adrenaline, that was common, it was good, it meant he was alive. This was something else, his shifting was not as smooth as it should be. He was looking in too many directions.

“I can’t,” Tamarova whispered.

“Shoot it!” Krash shouted again, finishing the u-turn, getting them back behind the generator and out of the line of fire.

“Where did it go?” Foreman Vladoff demanded over the microbead, “Rusty, where is it?”

In the southwest watchtower, Rostilav could barely hear her voice over the sound of shattering rockcrete. The ork boomers may not have been accurate, but their volume of fire made-up for it. “I can’t see anything!” he barked back, firing another grenade over the ledge and jamming another into the breach. He could hear, over the roar of gun fire, Father Volkov screaming holy righteousness from across the yard.

“Rusty, we’re picking you up,” Tamarova shouted over the bead.

“We’re getting out of here, rally alpha, rally alpha,” Vladoff ordered.

“Krash, I an not getting on that suicide sled,” Rostilav shouted, launching another grenade as the orks seemed to focus their fire on the truck.

“He’s right,” Tamarova fired her lascarbine from the truck window again, “this thing is about to die.” They were rounding the corner of the barracks structure, under the cover of a couple of Rusty’s smoke grenades.

“I like your thinking,” Krash said with a blue twinkle in his eye.

Rostilav peeked over the edge of the watchtower again, only to be greeted by another barrage of huge bullets. His luck ran out, and he watched his blood splatter across the floor. There were also a few orks wielding flamethrowers approaching dangerously close, but the boomer fire was waning. “I’m hit!”

“We’re pinning them down, how bad?” Vladoff’s voice came over his earpiece.

“I’ve had worse,” Rusty grunted. At least everything was still attached this time.

“We push the advantage! Fight on! Fight on!” Vladoff yelled.

“Yeees! For the Glorious Emperor of Man!,” Father Volkov bellowed, laying down more heavy bolter fire from the nest near the main gates. He watched the enemies of the emperor scatter in fear from this ancient, holy weapon of perfection, “Yanov! Keep firing! Keep firing, my children!” The truck, riddled with bullet holes and a smoldering rocket blast, came barreling back out of the smoke from behind the barracks.

“Now!” Krash shouted over the bead, ork fire fell like a swarm of mutant bees on the vehicle, which slowed, ignited, then exploded. Then it exploded again, much more violently. The shockwave threw the greenskins to the ground.

“Krasheninnikov! Your sacrifice shall be remembered!” Father Volkov yelled as he continued to fire.

“Volkov, get back to your tower, you’re exposed,” Vladoff ordered over the bead ,“Keep the heavy.” There was a second’s pause before she continued ," and Krash didn’t sacrifice anything but a broken-down truck."

“It died nobly,” Krash said over the bead. The orks recovered quickly from the blast, almost energized by it. One of the largest among them, the flamer nob, bellowed with battle-lust as he charged toward the priest.

“You think fire will frighten me? Ha Ha Haaa!” Volkov laughed as he sprinted toward the tower, lugging the heavy bolter along with him.

Tamarova knocked a cabinet aside as she rolled through the barracks window, followed by Krash. “Where’s Kaminev?” she asked. Krash took off through the room’s door.

“Running the other direction,” He said. Oksana glanced out the window, and saw the medic’s assistant sprinting toward the southwest tower through the smokescreen. “Your bomb went off early,” she touched her hand to the shrapnel wounds in her side, trotting after him.

With the heavy bolter silent, there was little keeping the orks pinned down aside from las fire, and it wasn’t working well. The nob was still charging after Father Volkov, and Vladoff was continuing to fire on the orks in an attempt to salvage this operation. The boomers were close enough to have clear shot at her position, and they opened up their heavies.

The rounds chopped chunks of her cover away, walking along the wall until they found her arm. Still rattled by he beast which had torn apart Ty’win and Stenson, she choked upon seeing the blood on her uniform. “Yuri get it off!” she shouted, but her voxman was likewise paralyzed by fear.

“Keep firing! Keep firing! I’m hit!” she screamed, almost hysterical on the bead. Vladoff tore at her sleeve, trying to get the blood stain away from her, as if it would close the source, “Yuri!” She shouted at her stunned squadmate, “Yuri get out of here…Jump!” He didn’t move, staring wide-eyed and frozen at her arm.

Krash rolled carefully into kneel out of the barracks roof hatch, sweeping his carbine in a circle. There weren’t any orks on the roof with them. Kaminev was in the watchtower fiddling with a medikit while Rostilav lobbed another grenade out of view. Yanov was two towers north, laying on the trigger of the autocannon he could barely control.

He passed his sights over the smoke trails of his handiwork around to the gate. He couldn’t see the foreman, but he could plainly see the automatic fire tearing apart her cover. Finally, he saw the priest swinging his flamer nozzle around. A massive greenskin was about to reach the top of the ladder. He waved to Oksana and took careful aim. Their carbine’s snapped in unison, the blasts striking the back of the monster’s head to little apparent effect.

“Fight like Skaggis! Fire! Fi-,” Vladoff’s shout twisted into a squeal and was drowned-out by another explosion. Krash’s head jerked reflexively as he looked to the foreman’s tower. Twin rocket trails hung in the air leading up to it, smoke and fire pouring from what remained. A chill rolled up his spine as time seemed to catch in his throat.

Yanov’s voice broke the silence, “Foooremaaan!”

“You bastards!” Rusty cursed quietly. A grenade blast followed shortly thereafter, then a louder transmission, “You Bastaaaaards!”

Debris was raining down on the barracks roof a dozen meters away, and then the ork on Volkov’s watchtower ignited. Time started to speed-up. Volkov’s voice came clearly through the air, “Faalll Baack!” The flaming ork leapt through the tower window after Volkov, out of the refinery, leaving it empty. Krash looked at Oksana, sweat and blood glistening on her steely face. He held up his demo-pack, and they both looked to south wall. She nodded, and they sprinted straight off the roof.

“Dammit,” Rusty twisted the grenade in the chamber, then slammed it in. He reached the weapon around the corner of the tower wall and pulled the trigger.

“We’ve got to go!” Kaminev yelled, just as a second sun rose to the east, a fiery, burning sunlight. It took a few seconds of watching flames engulf Kaminev before Rostilav realized his own legs were on fire.

“NO!” he yelled defiantly, “NO! You don’t get to kill me!” he bellowed through the smoke. Brushing at the flames, trying to get the promethium off his clothes. He wasn’t afraid, he wasn’t panicking. He was enraged. “NOOOOOOOO!!!” he shouted long and loud. He felt something shake the floor, but he didn’t care. He rolled, somehow struggled to his feet, and leapt out of the inferno that had been his shelter a few moments before. He screamed in rage as he fell, rolling when he hit the ground. The flames were dampened by the wet grass, but as he tore across the open field, they grew again.

“Nnggnngggg!” he tried to scream, but his lungs were burning as he ran toward the trees. His equipment began falling off piece by piece as the straps burned away. He had third degree burns across fifty percent of his body, but still raw adrenaline and stubbornness drove his limbs. He couldn’t see, his eyes scorched shut fifty meters from the tree line, but he knew which way to go, “NNNGGGGGGHHH!”

Then he was beyond pain. He crashed into branches. He was distantly aware that he’d stopped moving, but all that consumed his mind was anger. That this is how he died? That Krash had managed to get out, but he was burning to death? No. No, he wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. He wouldn’t give the orks the satisfaction, or the powder-heads or the countless other idiots that would still be alive after this fight. No! He didn’t live through the whole Cytheran campaign to die in some cozy forest. He was vaguely aware of another presence, but his nerves had all been burnt away now. He floated weightlessly in darkness, unfeeling, and somehow cold. Perhaps that is death. No trumpets, no light, no homecoming; just the void of space.

Do you smell that? Tamarova signed to Krash. It smelled like burnt meat. They kept walking quietly through the trees. They heard movement and stopped.

“Yanov?” she whispered.

“Tamarova?” the trees replied. Krash and Tamarova pushed through a bush and saw the charred body laying in the undergrowth.

“Rusty,” Krash immediately recognized the unrecognizable body.

“He’s still alive, I think,” Yanov jumped down from the branches above them.

“Too dumb to die,” Krash stated, immediately laying his poncho out next to Rostilav. They carefully rolled the medic onto the make-shift litter, wiping the ooze from their gloves on their pants without complaint.

“What do we do now?” Yanov asked, looking at Tamarova, who looked at Krash, who stared back at both of them for moment before shrugging.

“Back-up is coming on the road.”

They were waiting in the trees a few dozen yards off the dirt road when their microbeads buzzed to life.

“Delta squad, do you copy? Gamma to Delta squad do you copy?” a male voice crackled. The trio stared at one another for a moment.

“Delta squad, respond.” Oksana reached to key her mic.

“Delta here, gamma,” she stated.

“Zrena, it’s good to hear you Tamarova,” the microbead range was near maximum, and transmission quality reflected it, “where are you?”

“By the road, few miles from the base, where are you?” Yanov asked.

“The bog, same place you dropped. What happened? Why isn’t Vladoff talking?”

“The foreman’s dead. So is most of the squad. We lost the target,” Yanov answered. There was a long pause.

“Who’s left?”

“Tamarova, Krash, Rusty, and me. Rusty’s bad, you have medevac?”

“Negative, base lost contact, sent us in to investigate. Mounted is coming on the road, shouldn’t be long.” There was another long pause, “We’re going to recon the target, I’m sending a few guns your way.”

“Copy, be careful, there’s still about a dozen left with a lot of firepower and two technicals,” Yanov cautioned.

“Is Krash secure?” the vox stated.

“Yes, the traitor’s not going anywhere,” Yanov said, turning to stare at Krash.

Krash’s eyes widened, pulse quickening as he realized his hands and feet were manacled. He looked to his jump-mate.

“Oksana?” he pleaded, confused. She just stared at him, disappointed. Krash looked back to Yanov, who shook his head and looked at Rusty’s body.

Rusty’s eyes opened, stark white agains his blackened skin, staring straight at Krash, accusing and silent. Krash jerked back and touched something cold. He spun his head around and saw Foreman Vladoff leaning against a tree, missing both arms and one leg, half her face a gaping whole. Krash screamed.

He tried to rise but tripped on his hobbles and fell. He was laying next to Ty’Win’s mutilated corpse, the psyker’s emotionless eyes staring through him. His mouth moved without making any noise, traitor.

Krash rolled away and rose to kneeling position. Volkov was standing over him, bullet holes and cuts oozing blood. The priest was holding a tome and pointing an accusatory finger in his face, “I pronounce the Traitor cursed! May the warp torture his immortal soul!”

Kaminev stood behind Volkov, signing curses with his charred, skeletal hands. Stenson’s voice twisted Krash around again. The overseer’s severed head was perched on a log, speaking into his autolog, “let the record show that Tundraman Tamarova, having failed to fulfill her duty to keep Tundraman Krasheninnikov from committing heresy against the Emperor, shall be punished to the maximum extent of Imperial Code.”

“You brought this upon us, Krash,” Oksana said, she was tied to post before a firing squad now, the marks of dozens of lashings on her bare skin, “I trusted you, Krash. We were supposed to have each others backs. Don’t you remember?”

“I didn’t mean to…” Krash begged.

“Didn’t mean to?” Commissar Aldonis, towering fifteen feet tall above him, bellowed, “It doesn’t matter what you meant to do! You’ve had your chances, Krasheninnikov…” Krash’s gaze drifted to a line of almost thirty skaggis, all aiming lascarbines at him. Each face that of a dead man or woman.

FIRE!” Aldonis bellowed.

AHHHHH!” Krash’s scream pierced the darkness of the Heimroc’s barracks in the supply depot, “NOOOOOOOOO!” He opened his eyes, slapping at the pair of hands shaking his shoulders. Finally a hard slap brought him out of the nightmare.

“Krash! It’s safe, you’re safe! You’re safe!” Tamarova was repeating in calm, quiet voice, “You’re safe, Krash. You’re safe.” Krash was shaking, too much to cry, so he just coughed instead, rocking in his rack, “Sshhhhhh,” Oksana soothed. She knelt there, next Krash’s cot, holding him as he shivered and rocked. Saying nothing, for there was nothing to say, but it was enough. After an hour or so, he drifted back to sleep, clinging to her like a terrified child.

The Refinery, Part III

Transcript: Post-Contact Debriefing

Commissar Dexin Interview of Acolyte Artho Yanov, Novaskaggi VII Drop Infantry

AY: Sorry, Sir…I…

“Drink, Artho.” Pouring liquid “You can verify the events of Overseer Stenson’s autolog?”

AY: Thank you, sir. Yes, they are accurate.

“There, good for the constitution, yes?”

AY: Yes, sir…coughing… Very good for the constitution.

“Why don’t we stop the recordings, just tell me what happened after you dealt with the remaining few orks left inside the refinery.”

AY: Yes…they went quickly, once we set-up cross-fire. One them said something about a big mech…Father Volkov knew the most about xenos, we thought it meant tanks were coming. After they were dead, we stacked them with the other xenos and burnt them with the proper curses from Father Volkov. It was after that Foreman Vladoff collected the cognomen tags from the KIA’s.

“…And there were none missing? All of the base personnel were accounted for?”

AY: Yes. Father Volkov performed a good death speech, and Foreman wrapped all the tags in a bandage before putting them in her pack. This I remember clearly. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur…"

“Nobody can remember everything…”

AY: Krash does.

“We will have plenty of time to discuss what Krash is and is not capable remembering soon enough…for now let’s focus on what you remember.”

AY: Yes…I know Krash, Oksana, and Rusty shut-down the refinery…they all had a lot of experience with the equipment from Home, I think. It didn’t take long.

“Do you know what kinds of repairs they made?”

AY: Repairs? I don’t remember them saying anything about repairs…they were shutting it all down. The greenskins did a lot of dangerous things. Then Foreman had us build-up the perimeter, with the mines and the bombs; I helped build the barricades.

“What did you use for these barricades, and tell me what was done with the Imperial vehicles found in the complex.”

AY: Yes, sir. The greenskins had sacked the whole barracks, everything was broken and filthy. We dragged what we could lift outside and piled it into defensive lines behind the gates. We took as much equipment from the KIAs’ as we could find a use for, every battle station had extra lasguns and charge packs. We used the extra armor, along with the flat pieces of garbage, to make defensive platforms on the roof. One of the utility trucks we found torn apart by the Greenskins, we dragged that one close to the gates and mounted the heavy bolter on the deck. The working utility truck we added walls to, and Krash was able to build an autocannon mount on the deck.

“With one of the watchtower cannon correct?”

AY: Yes, sir, the one removed when we first cleared the refinery.

“…And the xeno-tainted vehicles? What was done with these?”

AY: Yes, we took the wheels from them after pulling them in place, blocking the gate with their length. Krash rigged the fuel tanks to explode with trigger wires that led to the heavy bolter emplacement.

“Anything else?”

AY: hmmmm…No, Sir. That sounds like everything. Then we slept in shifts at our positions on the perimeter, waiting for reinforcements to come or the orks to counter-attack. It didn’t take long.

“Can you remember where everyone was when the ork counter-attack began?”

AY: Yes, Foreman and Gregori were in the watch tower north of the gate, Father Volkov was in the one on the other side, just south of the gate. I was on the west wall. Rusty was on the barracks roof with the grenade launcher, Krash and Tamarova were in the working utility truck, and the rest were in the heavy-bolter emplacement.

“The rest being Psyker Ty’win, Overseer Stenson, and Tundraman Kaminev?”

AY: Yes, sir.

“What was the first sign of the enemy?”

AY: Yes, a squad of grots came up from the road, from the east. They were too small to trigger the AT mines, but there weren’t any of the regular orks behind them. Vladoff ordered us all to hold-fire, I think she wanted us to take them out quiet-like, so the others wouldn’t know we were there.

“Did that work?”

AY: I don’t know, but it didn’t matter. They got to the gate and then they started shooting at each other, I don’t really know why, but I think Ty’Win had something to do with it…anyway, Krash helped jump the xenos that got through. About the same time they were engaging, Yuri got the call from FSD Command that the reinforcements we’d been promised were enroute. Rusty had to go back to the voxroom and let them know about the AT mines.

“Why not Yuri? He was the mission’s voxcaster technician correct?”

AY: Yes, sir. He tried to raise them on the portable vox, but they didn’t respond. We’d had to use the long-range vox station in the barracks earlier to communicate with command…so, Rusty did that again.

“There is no record of Tundraman Norin ever having received technical training on voxcaster systems. How successful was he in this?”

AY: Yes, Krash had to give him instructions on the squad band, but he’s a smart skaggi, he figured it out quickly.

“Very good, Artho. Go on.”

AY: Yes, that was the beginning of the end. A dozen boomers emerged from the west flank. Even Vladoff knew it.

“The squad had been out-flanked, duped.”

AY: Yes, sir…we underestimated them. The ones we’d fought up to then were like animals…just charging straight on.

“Yes, an error in judgement. What happened next?”

AY: Foreman kept calm, giving orders, keeping us going, but I she knew we were in trouble. Rusty started to aid me, I think he made it to the southwest corner gun before the rockets started coming in.

“What did the rest of the squad do?”

AY: Krash and Oksana broke-off fighting the grots, they got the gun-truck going and picked-up Ty’Win, Kaminev, and Stenson. That left Father Volkov with Foreman and Yuri to finish-off the grots at the gate. They were still firing at them when the boomers broke through.

“Where did they breach the perimeter?”

AY: Almost in the middle of the west wall. Rusty had been pinned down, but I remember hearing his autocannon firing all the way up to the breach.

“You are not here to incriminate your comrades, Artho; no one is questioning their courage or yours. The Emperor demands of us to accurately record contact with the Great Enemy and its allies. Now, at what point did the daemon appear?”

AY: Coughing Yes…it was just after the breach. Krash had placed the gun-truck behind the generators for cover, and everyone on board was firing at the orks coming through the gap. I could see about twelve, with two of the burly nobs. I remember Ty’Win howling, terribly screeching…

“Take it slowly, Artho. Here, drink.”

AY: Thank you, Sir…I don’t know how much help I can be…the rest is hazy…

“You must try, Artho! Be specific.”

AY: Yes, sir. It came out of the pond, the…the daemon. It must have been over ten feet tall…as big as an Akyragh…I remember it looked at me…even from over 100 yards, it looked into my soul, sir. It saw to the depths of me and it looked away. I couldn’t move. Krash had somehow gotten back in the cab, the daemon dashed toward the back of the truck….By the Emperor the way it moved!

“Artho, breathe…”

AY: …sobs… so much blood…so much blood! He tried to get away, the truck wasn’t fast enough…I saw Ty’Win’s face!

“Artho!” slap “Focus!”

AY: …sobbing… I saw his eyes when the daemon… Sobs… so much blood!

“Acolyte Artho Yanov. Compose yourself!”

AY: …sobs/moaning…

“Doctor! Sedate him.”

Door opening “Yes, Commissar. There now, son, relax. Relax, you are safe.”

AY: NO! …breaking glass_… NO! NOOO! …_furniture movingAHHHHH!

DOCTOR: Relax! Oof! Commissar!


“Artho!” breaking glass, several punching impacts

AY: Nnngghh…heavy breathing

DOCTOR: Shhhh…shhhhh..there you go


DOCTOR: Commissar, with all-due respect…what he’s been through…

“He will go through ten times as much, if he is lucky! These skaggis are supposed be hardened warriors, and he a Ministorum Acolyte. So much for the ministorum’s heedless fervor.”

DOCTOR: They’re good guardsmen, Commissar. I was present for the others’ debriefings…barely a twitch. You would have thought they were reciting the Primer.

“That is what concerns me, Doctor.”

DOCTOR: That they were calm?

“That they were reciting…”


The Refinery, Part II

Autolog.293 – Schola Psykana Overseer Stenson

>>With the Orks advancing on us from inside the refinery complex, Delta squad dug into our position in the trees. The greenskins emerged in a disorganized rabble, sprinting toward the trees in ones and twos until Ty’Win unleashed the heavy bolter…



>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>The greenskins pressed-on at first, only a handful turning back, but as soon as the largest among them turned to hide, the rest followed suit. They dove into the polluted stream between us and the compound’s shattered gates, or hid behind the burnt-out trucks left from their own assault the day before.

Ever since the Incident, Ty’Win’s reticence to channel the power of the warp has torn at his soul. I’ve seen his jaw strain in agony whenever a moment arises he may be called upon to summon forth the Emperor’s Blessing. When those shells barked forth, so simple in their brutatlity, so predictable, I saw a calmness in his expression.

Calmness is certainly the furthest thing on my mind, or the others, I can assure you. For those who’ve never faced a charging band of orks on a rainy night, the feeling in your gut indescribable. The barrel of a Leman Russ battle cannon is not that fearsome. Then again, I suppose staring into the horrors of the Warp, no matter how brief, can be matched by no mortal terror…except possibly those transpiring in the depths of the Black Ships.


>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>Cease fire! We need to kill them, they’re out of las range wait until the front runner reaches the brushline.

>VOICEPRINT(TY’WIN)>"As you command,"



>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>Conserve your ammo

>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILAV)>You said kill them. This is how you kill things.

>VOICEPRINT(VOLKOV)> Listen to the Foreman, brothers! The sooner they approach, the sooner they be cleansed by His light!

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>With the cessation of bolter fire, the orks have rallied quite quickly. Within a moment they’re charging forth anew with not a trace of forethought or cohesion. The pair that had been stunned by Rusty’s grenade are already within a hundred meters, but the foreman stays our triggers. The enemy closes, ninety meters…eighty….nearly to the brushline.


>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>Wait for the big one.

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> The foreman’s voice is calm and steady, not nearly as inspiring as the sight of Yuri behind her, his knuckles white around his weapon. The largest of the orks, surely thrice as tall as any man present, barrells toward us, far out pacing his smaller brethren. Those at the head of the pack are still far closer than he as they close within range of our guns.

>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)> Take aim. steady on…steady…
>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> The lead ork reaches the brushline, slashing at the vegetation with a crude blade



>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>The enemy charges into our guns, some scattering only to turn back towards us once our fire had moved to another. The rest continue headlong, even those hit three times. Rusty hit one of them squarely in the head, the beast’s face disappeared as the crude pelt he wore ignited.


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>In the cooly-lit rain, the blazing ork is a beacon as it continues to run, like a nillet with its head cut-off. Father Volkov’s shots are blessed by Emperor, he fellS one after another. Still they come, the big one drawing closer..


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>until a blast from one of Rusty’s grenades throws him to the ground.

>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILAV)>That’s right you bastard!

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>I tell you nary a single shot falls a-foul of its target, but these greenskins cannot feel them at all, even as their flesh cracks and bones cook.

By the Emperor! The ork leader rises from the bushes into which he’s tumbled,



>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>He staggers forward, setting-off one of Krash’s grenade traps, the only effect of which was another great roar.


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> All I see were the blood-flecked segments of imperial guard armor strapped to his huge chest, and the huge pole adorned with teeth and jagged metal.

>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILAV)>We’ve got to fall back


>VOICEPRINT(VOLKOV)>Nay brothers! Let Faith be your anchor, no foe shall move us so!


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)I feel a tingling in my flesh I have not felt in a very long time. I look to Ty’Win, his eyes were wide…and shining blue light. I know it was not just rain dampening his face. I smell smoke and kingberries, musty leather. The veins of Ty’Win’s face ripple, lighting sparking between his teeth, and his arms jerk-up with unnatural speed, under their own control.


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> Reality bulged as the warp tunnels through it, I heard the deafening scream of daemon in my ears, for only a moment, and then the great ork exploded into flame. The tree next to him errupted too, and the beast stumbled forward, bellowing.



>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)Real is real, warp is warp, be clear, think clear, hold to the real! Hold to the real! There…he’s come back, his flesh ceases to twitch and roil.

>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>What the hell was that!


>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>Do it again! Bring it down!


>VOICEPRINT(VOLKOV)Beloved Emperor, let your light shine through us and destroy the Enemy! Destroy the Xeno!


>VOICEPRINT(VOLKOV)>The Emperor Protects!

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> The xeno’s howling ceased but it did not fall. I nearly passed-out as the headless alien continued thrashing. It turned, as if confused, and charged a few meters out of the woods before falling to the ground.

>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILAV)>There’s still plenty more comming!



>VOICEPRINT(VOLKOV)>Plenty to spare no xeno!
>VOICEPRINT(TY’WIN)>Five canisters remaining.
>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILAV)>Four power-packs, 6 frag, 2 stun.

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> The ranks of orks are thinning. Most of the remaining xeno’s are fleeing back to the protection of the compound walls. With only a few enemy remaining in the field, Ty’Win stands and advances. As we’re moving, I see a shadow of movement across the clear-cut field. There’s another, it’s Krash and Tamarova, sprinting headlong through the rain toward the wall.


The last ork falls, after having both of his legs burnt and the flesh of his head melted to the bone, it took the explosive amputation of his arm before he finally ceased advancing and fell.

>INC/VOXPRINT> Cover now!



>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>Miraculously, none of us had been injured. To this hour I do not know how. We fell back through the trees, well out-of-sight of the guard towers, and began advancing west, around the compound. Shredded leaves and wood pulp cling to our skin and clothes, soaked through. Were it not for the rain, I doubt I could play-off my shaking as shivers.

The faces of my squadmates, though, barely quiver, aside from Yuri’s. The two of us share our disbelief in reassuring looks. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one shaken by what I’d just survived, but it seems even Yuri recovered within a couple of minutes. In this moment I feel as Ty’win must always feel, desperately alone. Though instead of a blessed curse, I am alone with my own mortality. I glance at my charge and companion, perhaps searching for comfort in some sign of disturbance; but his eyes are placid once more, devoid of any sign of what roils behind them.


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>We form a defensive circle without a further word.

>INC\VOXPRINT (KRASHENINNIKOV)> Badguy’s in the north four towers. One good truck, dze south towers are empty, no one in dze barracks. Generator in dze middle, I can get to it…cut dze lights…

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>There is a momentary grin on the Foreman’s face, as if a memory had flickered through her mind.



>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> Krash’s response is so light,I wonder, as I often have, whether Tundraman Krasheninnikov is ever truly aware of gravity in any context.

>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILAV)>That idiot better naught get caught. I’ll gut him with joy.

>VOICEPRINT(Artho)>You’re not capable of joy. Not that there’s ever a reason for it. We’re all going to die in agony.



>VOICEPRINT(VOLKOV)>We will die with joy in our hearts having served the God-Emperor well!

>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)We’re not going to die at all! We’ve killed half of them already, they’re leaderless, and we’ve still got the initiative. They’re fucked, so keep your victory dance dry.

>INC\VOXPRINT (TAMAROVA)> We’re starting over the south wall

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> From experience I can tell you Krash is almost over the wall already.


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> We’ve continued through the forest, and it’s been several minutes before I realized the rhythm of the autocannons had stopped. The night is eerily peaceful as we hike through the gentle rain.

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> We’ve come around the south end of the field, Krash just let us know they are in position, the south end is clear. We creep to the edge of the woods, looking out across two hundred and fifty meters of open ground.

>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>Get ready..Lights out….Go Go Go!


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>We sprinted in through the darkness. After the first fifty meters, my legs started burning. By the time we hit the wall, I all but collapsed, but Rusty was already climbing the rope left by Krash and Tamarova. After several failed attempts, slipping on the wet stone, Foreman Vladoff grabbed the rope from him.

>VOICEPRINT(VLADOFF)>We’ve got to get in there.

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)> Foreman Vladoff, Yuri, Artho, and Father Volkov are over the wall…Rostilav struggles above us on the rope.

>VOICEPRINT(ROSTILOV)> Gah! Stop recording you idiot!

>INC\VOXPRINT (KRASHENINNIKOV)> Two grots, southbound on the east side

>VOICEPRINT(STENSON)>Rusty’s made it over, Ty’Win and I struggle on the rope, the rain has soaked it through and my boots can find no purchase on the wall.




>INC\VOXPRINT (VOLKOV)> Squiggly-beast!

>INC\VOXPRINT (VLADOFF)> Quiet_…_Rusty, get ready to take the grots.

>INC\VOXPRINT (ROSTILAV)> You want me to use a knife?


>VOICEPRINT(STENSON) Finally, Ty’Win made it to the top of the wall, and held a hand out for me. I grabbed it, and we tumbled over the top. Fortunately, I was able to get my feet under me before the ground hit me. We both rolled across the lawn, unhurt. I can hear the dull roar of the gas flares across the compound, dim shadows flicker across the walls as we hurry to join the rest of the squad…


The Refinery, Part I

The Refinery, Part I

The meteoseers foretold heavy rains with a low cloud ceiling overnight, perfect for an undetected insertion, but dangerous for those jumping. The winds would make the drop difficult to control and the landing zone, a small lightly forested area 12 km northeast of the refinery, difficult to spot in time. They were promised a sentinel scout walker, but upon speaking with the base quartermaster, they discovered all of the walkers were deployed hunting down remnants of the ork assault.

Despite this disappointment, they were still able to get demo charges and a squad heavy bolter, which would both make fighting the unfathomably touch greenskins a bit more manageable. Krash had already requisitioned extra running fuel, which he received and promptly stashed. Rusty took possession of a case filled with stim doses. He hid the bulk of them in the barracks, taking only a handful into the field.

The squad exercised, preparing their bodies, hearts, and minds for the task at hand. Then they mounted the valkyie, modified to as many of Krash’s specifications as the Navy could stomach, and prayed.

The insertion was smooth, no enemy contacts; they flew in over the rain clouds, dove through them, and nailed the landing zone. The only flaw was Father Volkov being blown into a tree by a sudden gust just before touch down. Rusty had him battle-ready shortly after, and once they’d retrieved their gear from the drop canister, the team moved southwest. Krash was on point with his auspex, and before long they came in sight of the refinery’s bright lights. Rusty climbed a tree and scanned the complex through magnoculars: Orks had taken the site.

At least one for each guard tower, though they appeared distracted, meant enough autocannon to shred them and a good number of vehicles should any attack be mounted. Proof of that took the form of several burnt-out, ramshackle trucks littering the road approaching the base, including a pair situated in the middle of the blasted-open gates. The fate of the two score soldiers and technicians manning the refinery were also painfully clear: an undignified pile of corpses outside the base wall. Inside, the northern half the refinery was dominated by the installations apparatus: distillation towers, plumbing, and chemical storage tanks. A massive, 750,000 KL promethium storage tank sat adjacent to main apparatus, next to heavily polluted pond that drained through slits in the perimeter wall, creating a stream leading from the base to the forest. The southern end of the site housed a barracks and administration building that would have housed the assigned personnel. It had likely already been defiled by the greenskins.

With Yuri’s voxcaster, the squad reported back to command what they discovered. Their new orders were to begin the assault to re-take the refinery. Support units would be there in a matter of hours. Despite that promise, they were less than confident about the roads in the area, cutting through dense forests where an ork war mob had recently retreated. None the less, orders were orders, and Father Volkov was eager to bring glory to the Emperor and Novaskag.

They devised a plan to draw some of the orks from the protective walls of the refinery. Krash rigged an explosive trap from a demo charge and a field ration, while Father Volkov prepared to ignite a tree with a fuel canister from his Blessed Flamer. When the squad was in a good ambush position, they lit the blaze. The refinery began hooting with excited ork shouts. Soon, a pair of orks came charging out of the gates towards the burning tree, heedless in torrential rain. They reached the tree, the stronger of the two quickly consuming the field ration bait. However, to the skaggi’s disappointment, the bomb failed to trigger. Not that it mattered, the orks were soon dead from a disciplined volley of fire from the hidden squad. The resulting shots, detonating the orks’ ammunition, and in turn triggering the latent bomb trap, were more than enough to send the already curies orks in the refinery into a frenzy. They began pouring from the gates individually or by pairs. Eventually, a specimen larger and faster than the rest barreled toward them across the clear-cut perimeter.

Ty’win, on the heavy bolter, began sending shells down-range, sending the enemy running for cover. The larger greenskin dove behind a burnt-out truck. Seeing the orks scatter just out of range of the squad’s las-carbines, Foreman Lavrov ordered the squad to cease fire until the orks were well into the kill-zone. They waited, still largely hidden in the dense foliage, darkness, and rain. As they wait, Lavrov directed the quickest and quietest of the squad, Krash and Tamarova, to maneuver such that they could make a sprint for the wall when opportunity presented itself. Having rigged a pair of grenade traps between the squad and the on-coming orks, the pair started off through trees, moving west to get an angle of approach to the rear of the refinery, out of sight of the greenskins coming out of the gates.

The night was just getting started.


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