Extraction — A Warhammer 40K Fan Fiction — Part 2

10 Jul

Two years. The Emperor’s warship Excelsior appears in subsector Dirnrium, a single star solar system. Six days have passed for the ship and crew in Warp-space.

***

Twelve marines of the Honour Guard step into the first pod on the rack, wreathed in fittings of gold and silver, prandium-forged battle axes clattering at their sides, boltguns slung at their front. They will touch down a half mile from the Imperial forward HQ to act as retinue for the Lord General overseeing operations planetside. More importantly they will ensure the Banner of Macragge they carry survives the campaign intact, and in the hands of men.

Armour thumps against the flight deck as the next twelve marines step to the pod rack. Led by one Quintus Borcq, this team of veterans will act as first response for the initial wave of deep strikes and set the beacons for the rest of that strike force. They will be deployed to hab spire Benedictus, where three units of the Imperial Guard have been cut off from the main line, hemmed in by a horde of orks who survived the downing of their great interplanetary vessel by the Excelsior, pouring out of the melted shell and into the forgeworld.

Motors whine as the pod doors climb, mag-strips catching and sealing the hatches. Titanium bolts slide and click into locking mechanisms. A magnetic field activates across the pod floor as the Space Marines assume shock absorbing positions. Red flight lights flicker and hold to illuminate the cabin and report hull integrity.

Inside they can feel the Honour Guard pod punch off down the rack; the initial rocking of the pod being propelled down the launch tube and the shudder as the tail of exhaust escapes from the mouth of the tube.

They are moved along the rack similarly, holding catches opening to release the pod into a freefall. Once past the lip of the tube, mag-accelerators push the pod into breaching speed, and the pod’s own thruster lets off an initial tail of fire as it escapes the tunnel and begins its descent.

Entry thrusters kick intermittently as the pod swirls through atmosphere. Heat shielding absorbs the fire brimming at the pod base, but the marines are subjected to a severe temperature spike as the pod rattles closer to their drop zone. Quintus’ ears buzz at the impact as the doors release and slam down into the pavement, sizzling.

The squad fans out from the pod to secure a perimeter, boltguns braced at the hip as they rush to take up positions under the showering debris of the impact plume. As acting sergeant Quintus tries to cut into the Imperial signal channel, but gets only warbling static. Out of range.

The marines bring up coordinate grids on their heads up displays and note the marked encirclement zones. They gather into a single width-ways line and begin to sweep toward their first objective.

Layers of grey and black modules stack into towers passing through the cloud cover above. The streets of this hab spire are littered with the bodies of men, women and children, cut to pieces and de-limbed. Nary a skull remains, all of them taken as trophies. The dead husks of Imperial armour appear ahead in the fossil of some quickly constructed barricade.

Under a block of concrete and steel a torso protudes, an Imperial grunt at the edge of consciousness. Quintus stops the squad, and one of the marines attends to the man. Taking a knee he puts a hand on the man’s face and presses the barrel of his boltgun into his chest. As the squad waits he delivers one round and the body erupts in a splash of red. A quicker death than the rest, Quintus is sure. The squad moves.

As they approach the edge of the first lost Guard unit, the buzz and squeal of las-guns pop into focus. Quintus checks the cocking handle on his boltgun and raises a fist, gesturing forward twice. The squad goes weapons ready and starts into a fast jog.

The Guard had attempted to break out on their own, and faced an ork wall just outside the edge of their reported coordinates. Mainly smaller orks, a group of larger orks waited in the rear — an odd sign of discipline, or a flagrant disregard for the lives of the smaller orks serving as a meat shield.

This orkish rearguard, ears piquing at the strange whine and heavy step of motor-assisted power armour, turn, snarl, and charge in turn.

The marines slide into a crouch, raking lines in the asphalt as they skid into firing positions. The foremost Nobs explode in a rain of red meat and green blood, covering the rest of their warband in gore.

Six of the twelve marines turn and take up support positions thirty meters back from Quintus and five Space Marines who sling their boltguns and draw chainswords. Quintus unlatches a power sword from his waist and it hums to life as a blue crackle of energy bleeds across the blade.

Some seven lumbering orks with hammers and chainaxes close the distance and fold into the Space Marine line with a force that would crush the bones of normal men. One marine is thrown back into his battle brothers providing ranged support, boltguns cracking well-aimed single shots. Quintus ducks low and tackles his Nob at the moment of impact, stopping the ork in his tracks and taking the wind out of them both. He pushes the Nob back and with both hands grasping the hilt of his power sword swipes upward at an angle, cutting a leg off cleanly at the knee. The ork roars and falls, but before its bellow is finished the power sword is through its skull and the pavement and Quintus moves to flank another target.

An unlucky marine at the rightmost of the formation, matched against a greenskin marked as ferocious even among his own kind by a full belt of human skulls, takes a heavy blow to the head from an orkish war hammer. The crunch echoes clearly among the clang of battle as his helmet dents and his neck snaps. Before he brings his hammer down on the marine the beast is met by a volley of burst fire from the support line, his chest bursting and then his head in a black-green cloud. Lumps of brain matter smear the fallen marine in green streaks, and one of the marines in support moves up to drag him back.

With the last of the Nobs being actively dismembered by three marines, chainswords grinding through thick flesh, Quintus clips the power sword to his side. From a bandolier running across his chest he pulls a fragmentation grenade free, primes it, and throws it three hundred meters downrange into the horde of smaller orks biting at the lip of the Guard line.

At such a range the warning bleeps of the grenade conform to a steady whine before it hits the ground, exploding just above the heads of the orks. Hot chunks of jagged metal are expelled from the airburst and a hole is blown in the orkish mass.

The marines fire and advance. At his sergeant’s signal a marine plants a spiked device into the pavement. A metal neck extends and a small dish unfolds and comes to life with a blue light. With the orks in tow, the squad moves back as the beacon is interpreted by technicians in the CIC aboard the Excelsior in low orbit above. A drop pod loaded with marines tasked with escorting the Guard unit to the main line are dropped from the launch rack.

The orks are messy and ungoverned without the larger orks to bark orders. The greenskins closest the marines break away and make for them at full gait like a pack of feral dogs. A thin line of orks remain engaged with the Guard, who, seeing this assistance, charge their entire force forward into melee.

As ork treads crumple the fragile beacon, a battered blue drop pod whistles and lands in their center, sending the orks out in a wave. Emerging, the marines put down the orks as they scrabble to their feet.

Quintus studies the crumpled Space Marine, a Cassius Trammel from some backwater feudal planet on the Eastern Fringe. He removes his helmet to reveal a bloody pulp of a face. Incredibly, the man is still alive and conscious. Ardent grey eyes, one pushed too close to the other and bordered by swollen red flesh, stare through him. An Ultramarine if he had ever known one. Two marines from Quintus’ squad drag the injured man to the reinforcing squad in the hopes that he survives the march to a forward position on the line, where he can be airlifted to the Excelsior. At the very least his gene-seed may be preserved. For the Chapter.

The first dotted red circle on the command grid vanishes from the sergeant’s heads up display, refreshed by orbital intelligence, and the screen scrolls raggedly to the next closest entrapment zone.

Overhead the skies darken with the approach of a wing of ork fighters. Crude metal tubes, fixed wing fighters, covered in sloppy red paint, screech and open fire on the mobilizing Imperial Guard force, strafing lines of men with wild machinegun fire. As they climb for another pass, three Thunderhawk gunships twist through the black network of spires to interdict. Bending lines of twin heavy bolter fire rake the crude ork craft, spilling the fiery metal compartments on the scattering Guard unit below as they race for cover.

The remaining ork fixed wings turn to engage, but the Thunderhawks maintain speed and heading, barreling straight through, shirking the exploding fighters off like flies. The orks turn tail and the gunships loop around and pursue with a crack as they break the sound barrier.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: