I have quite a bit of spare time sitting in front of my laptop these days.
I bashed this out the other day & thought you may enjoy it.
Hold the Line
He hawked & spat to clear the taste of dust & ash from mouth. They had been shelling his platoon’s position for days now, for how many he couldn’t say, first the hours & then the days, had all started to blur together, as fatigue from interrupted & intermittent sleep took its toll on his body.
All of the members of his platoon were on edge; no one had actually seen the enemy yet, just the incessant pounding of the artillery on his position. He knew initially the enemy had used spotters to target them, but by now, they were just another recorded target. So far casualties had been light, surprising considering the amount of ordnance that had been sent their way. Still it was only a matter of time before their bunkers, walls & trenches would begin to crumble & fail.
They had been tasked with holding the pass, the rebels had been seen massing nearby & command had issued their instructions. Reinforcements were coming, they were assured, but that was days ago now & they were long overdue. Still their location gave them a commanding view of the pass, with a large open killing ground that would be murderous for anyone to approach. The heavy anti-infantry batteries in their emplacements would make short work of anyone foolish enough to cross the stretch of no-man’s land.
This was why the rebels appropriated artillery pieces, were ceaselessly shelling them.
It had started with small secretive groups, harmless enough by themselves, but their influence had slowly spread to nearly half of the population. Hernald himself was unsure what the groups or cults as they were now dubbed were really about, but he had always considered himself a loyal man, one who had given his word and would never renounce it. It was something that he prided himself on & most of the men in his platoon, were men of a similar ilk.
When it happened, it surprised him. So much so that it took him sometime to realise what exactly it was. Then realisation dawned that the shelling had stopped. His ears still rang from the repeated abuse, but without the constant sound of detonating warheads the silence was deafening. Slowly the other men in his platoon emerged warily from their bunkers and foxholes, cautious of any tricks to draw them out, before a new barrage would be unleashed upon them. No such barrage came, men who had manned the sentry positions began to vox in, that masses of Infantry were beginning to form up just out of range of their defensive gun emplacements.
Hernald climbed to the wall to look for himself, the sheer number of them was astounding. How could so many of the population allowed themselves to become misguided in their beliefs? He wondered. At an un-audible signal the rebels began to advance. Hernald readied his weapon, waiting for specific fire orders. As the commanders began to issue fire orders across the vox net, weapon emplacements throughout the position fired disciplined bursts, scything through the massed ranks of rebels. As they fell more took their place, a seemingly unstoppable wave of humanity, slowly rolling towards them.
More orders followed as they entered the next weapon range bracket, more fell now as explosive ammunition detonated in their ranks, tearing great wounds into the mass of bodies. Slowly they came on, entering small arms range & Hernald fired on them as the orders were given. He fired in a well drilled manner, firing single shots, picking his targets before squeezing the trigger. It was a massacre. Slowly the rate of fire took its toll & the wave began to slow. It was only as a round smacked off the edge of the wall next to him, that he realised the rebels were firing back.
As the wave began to near the base of the wall, under the arcs of the heavier guns, grappling lines & ladders emerged from the horde, smacking up against the wall, along its entire length. There were too many of them, Hernald realised. But he knew that he would do his duty & stand his ground. As the first of the rebels crested the wall, the hand to hand fighting began, the experienced men in his platoon, tore a bloody swathe through the rebel ranks, fighting desperately to deny them gaining a foothold on the wall.
Slowly the weight of numbers & fatigue became apparent; the rebels began to claim the wall. It was at this moment a screaming from the skies erupted. At first Hernald thought it was more rebel artillery, foolishly shelling their own men. It was then that he saw the black landing pods streaming from orbit. They landed amongst the enemy ranks, throwing up waves of dirt and men on impact. No sooner had the pods landed, the doors opened, spilling their contents into the enemy ranks. Sea green armoured giants emerged, firing about them as they came, mowing down the rebels with controlled bursts.
This was a tipping point; blood filled the air, falling like a rain on the armoured figures, as their weapons detonated amongst the lightly armoured ranks of the foe. Hernald grinned as he lanced his bayonet into the throat of a rebel, smoothly withdrawing it as he kicked the corpse clear. Their reinforcements had arrived. The rebels wavered and tried to flee, many leaping from the wall, unwilling to face the Astartes in the field. The rebels were effectively cut off; none were spared the wrathful retribution of the Sons of Horus. Hernald took the pause in battle to look down on the body of the rebel he had just killed. There was a rough hand stitched emblem on the right breast of his uniform, a double headed eagle. Hernald smiled, how could these rebels, expect to withstand the forces of those who had brought compliance to this system. Horus had brought them into the Imperium & it was with him that the populace would stand.
Well with such over whelming response, how can I not try again. :D
Here's another tale to bring in the New Year.
Personally I prefer this one better.... feel free to give me your thoughts.
He sighed to himself wearily. Sometimes he doubted his ability to fulfil the task that was set before him. He never showed it publicly of course, that would shatter his image with the rest of the Legion. This must never happen. Strangely enough when he was at his lowest levels, was when the voice reached out to him. “Carry on.” Was all it every said.
The voice was quietly reassuring & understanding. It was a voice he knew personally, but now on the occasions it spoke to him, was from across the void and only into his mind. Such was the power of the owner of this voice; there was no doubt as to its origins. It always refuelled his sense of purpose giving him the strength to do just as it asked… to Carry on.
He knew his task was a necessary and vital one, it was of utmost importance & he could not be allowed to falter or fail. He would not fail in this task, more than his own life was at stake in this, no matter how long the task would take him to complete. To be given this task, was in itself an honour, but at times he found it distasteful. Often he was forced to go against all of his beliefs and the very things he had sworn to protect & uphold.
Inwardly he felt he was not good at all of this secrecy, but his results spoke to his effectiveness. No one suspected of his true task. The way he acted added to his mystique amongst his brothers & none suspected his true origins. The things he saw happening amidst the legion over the recent days had left him feeling sick & sullied.
‘How had it managed to come to this? How could he knowingly allow this to happen?’ he wondered. Surely all it would take is one statement that would arrest the rot & stop the slowly growing rift that was occurring in the legion, which if not reeled in soon, would have potential catastrophic consequences. But his mandate was clear. “Watch & Observe. Stay true.”
The recent visit of the outsiders had been the tipping point, their sudden appearance & then subsequent escape from the planet, had stirred up a hornets nest. The death of one of their brethren, in the escape, had stirred what was a slow decline, up into a tempest, as the leaders of the legion explored every available option available to gain the answers they sought. The death weighed heavily upon him as well, but it was unfortunately necessary. The killer’s identity & the basic premise of their mission were known to him. Its secret weighed on him greatly also, but he could share it with no one. It was essential that his brothers never discover who the outsiders were.
He ached for the honesty of combat at times, where everything was pure, no political machinations. For a time he tried to exercise away his regrets in the practice cages, but it was not the same, regardless of who he fought & how, it could not purge his mind the way the thrill of true combat would.
He resumed his meditation, forcing the doubts & concerns for his mind. It did help to some degree. He remained focused on his mediation for some time, when he was disturbed by a knock at his chamber door.
“Yes.” He answered simply.
The door opened, its well-greased hinges making no sound as its heavy bulk swung inwards.
“The Lord Commander requires your presence.”
“The Lord Commander, is on the other side of the galaxy!” He hissed his reply.
“I know, my lord. But he insisted that he be addressed & referred to as such.”
“Never call him that, to me here. Understood!” He instructed quietly.
“Yes, my lord.” He nodded his acquiesce with a small friendly smile.
‘Here is one, who is not yet lost.’ He thought.
“Inform him that I shall attend him shortly.” He stated.
“Yes, my lord.” He replied, turned and left.
‘It is truly beginning then. I must tread carefully.’
Steeling himself for what was to come; he girded himself in his ceremonial attire & left his chambers, sealing the door behind him.
His armoured boots rang out loudly as his feet struck the cobblestones of the keep. Guttering torches provided dim but serviceable light, illuminating the smoke stained tapestries that adorned the walls of the fortress keep. Guards snapped to attention as he passed by, he paid them little heed, lost in his own thoughts, inwardly dreading what this audience would reveal.
He came before the doors to the main hall; the doors were closed, with double the normal guards stationed on duty. This did not bode well. He swallowed but did not slow his approach, striding purposefully & confidently forwards. The guards all snapped to attention smartly, as he neared. He nodded his acknowledgement and strode on, the great doors swinging open, allowing him to enter without breaking stride.
The full complement of the command elements of the Legion, which was on planet, was in attendance. Each forming in small knots around the hall socialising and sharing stories of their recent achievements. The all fell silent as they realised who approached.
The figure who had summoned them, sat in the chair that was not truly his own. He was once appointed the regent, but now he had dubbed himself “The Lord Commander”, a title that he did not deserve or own. Sure he could inspire men, with his gift of oratory that was legendary. But he was not the deserving leader of the legion & never would be.
The new Lord Commander rose, as he neared the steps to assume his customary place on the dais. A false smile on his face, that never reached his eyes.
“Now you are here we can begin.” He announced.
“Accept my apologies, Lord Luther.”
“None needed, my lord Cypher. There is much for us all to discuss”