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Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Ambush: Riverlands, Gauel Valley, Ardus


Harrison sprinted for his life. All around him was smoke, whizzing bullets and crackling lasers, the only certain thing was that Dragonforged steel point glinting, leading his way forwards across the churned ground.
The ambush had been perfect. One moment the grenadiers had been trundling along towards the front line, chimeras at double capacity. Part of the desperate effort to keep the frontlines at the head of the Gauel valley. It was almost unthinkable that the enemy be handed the riverlands, the approach to the Ardus city hives themselves so the 84th Karsk Grenadier corp was moved up. Rushed up to relieve the combined corp that was under the pressure of constant assault by Chaos regulars.
They had been crossing through the riverland. Wide open desert to their left, orchards, canals and newly ploughed fields to their right. Missiles and rockets arced out from the canals. Their armour was burning and they were surrounded.
But it was as the captain had said. You corner a dragon and you may kill it. But it wasn’t going to be easy. He could hear the pattering of boots around him. Dark green flak coats flapping, dragonsteel glinting, tall strong soldiers filled with fire.
Harrison readied a grenade as he knew he was getting towards the enemy position.
He could see the flash-points in the smoke ahead of him, enemy lasguns in the ditch just ahead of him. He felt the jolt of sharp pain as it burned through his stomach, but it had singed itself closed. The stray round wasn’t enough and rage was burning through his body as he charged. Harrison hurled the grenade into the ditch and the blast came a moment later.
Harrison slipped down into the canal among burnt and torn bodies. He sank into the knee deep water and mud. The canal was packed with them. Cultists, militia, whatever you wanted to call them, he was upon the traitors.
Harrison thrust the long dragonsteel bayonet through the first one before they could react. The second rushed him with a snarling chainsword and swinging it wide. He dodged easily then darted in splitting the man’s face with his laser’s steel buttstock. The unconscious man fell face down into the muck. Harrison felt pistol rounds slam into his carapace and stop dead, his bayonet went straight through the man’s heart. It wasn’t even hard to pull back out of the thrashing body.
He was a dragon of Karsk. His bayonet and butstock were his tooth and claw, tearing down the heretics and shredding their worthless lives, the carapace and flack coat were his green scaled hide shrugging off their weapons as they tried in vain to fight back.
He pressed forwards, the movements were well practiced. At some point the rest of the section had arrived, tearing into the enemy like a pack of angry drak-hounds. Before long they were moving backwards. Trying to save themselves, climbing out of the ditch and trying to flee across to the next one.
A blood spattered grenadier climbed up the canal but before he could fire at the retreating enemy his torso was torn to bits in a hail explosions.
“By the emperor take cover!” The sergeant screamed behind him.
Harrison threw himself to the muddy, bank and slithered up it like a wurm. Bullets and heavy bolts hissed overhead.
He could trace the heavy bolter trails he could see the firing points a kilometre away on a small rise. Weapons too heavy for a few rogue militiamen, they had been emboldened by regulars. He could see the tips of the traitor’s weapons as they massed for a counter assault. His stomach felt heavy for a few moments. There were hundreds of them. Gun barrels as thick as a hedge.
He swallowed and tightened his grip on the battle laser. It was reassuring in his hands. Good dragonforge steel, something worth dying with in your hands.

Loader Elia slid the roller carriage to the mortar breach. Her world was noise as Sabre rumbled forwards again. She slammed the breach closed behind the green and blue shell. Somewhere down there below them was a killing field. She’d seen what the twenty centimetre tungsten darts did.
Elia slid the loading block back to the rear of the vehicle.
“Driver halt. Gunner fire when ready.”
There was a clang and sabre shook lightly.
She didn’t have to wait long. Even with the hearing protection the world seemed to silent for a moment. There came the dulled punching thud from the 380mm rocket mortar and Sabre rolled back a foot on her suspension. Having fired they backed up behind the crest again.
They’d fired all four flechette rounds and there was still something down there. They’d quickly bombed up when they’d been called on and Sabre’s storage was only a quarter full.
“Gunner load HEF.” She levered a yellow tipped rocket down onto the carriage and slid it forwards.
“Driver forwards.” Elia closed the breach.
“Driver halt.”
It seemed there wasn’t enough of a breeze out there to move the vehicle’s smoke on after it last fired because there was a drawn out silence. Finally the commander spoke.
“That’s them then.”

Harrison grabbed the man’s knife in a drak leather gauntlet and rammed the sword bayonet up through his stomach and into his heart, twisted it and the man collapsed. The ditch was a charnel house. He was up to his coat tails in blood and bodies. He turned and picked up a rusted, service rifle from a dead heretic. KSR83 standard issue on many planets in the sector. Fine Karsk steel, good enough to die with in your hands. The chunky, robust action would take a lot of abuse before it jammed and a bit of rust wasn’t worth concern. Harrison cycled a round and scrambled up the bloody bank.
The fields beyond were a harvest of shredded bodies and trees reduced to splinters, even the earth itself was shredded. There wasn’t a hint of resistance.
He let out a long shaky breath and turned back towards the road. He could see trucks and guns choking it up, the combined corp was pulling back from the valley mouth. The highway was open and it could be a fighting retreat at least along this road. Behind the mask he felt something hot and wet slid down his cheek, he couldn’t be sure what it was.
The breath turned ragged as the dragonfire was leaving his blood and with it his strength sapped away. He fell to his knees as he felt the first pangs of pain course through his body. The armour had stopped them from killing him quickly. He could feel hot sticky blood under the coat, his blood coming from a hundred different wounds. He felt the polymer grip of the KSR loosen in his hand as he hit the ground. The mud was soft and warm around his body, like the light of the god emperor.
He heard a grenadier’s voice somewhere above him frantically calling for a medic, knew they were trying to tug back the last moments of his life.

And here are some Grenadiers from Harrison's unit during the fighting.

This message was edited 36 times. Last update was at 2019/03/07 07:00:47

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Any feedback or comments would be welcome. If you enjoy it let me know and I'll add some more fiction about this conflict,

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

Hi OldMate, thanks for posting a new story for us.

As a story opener it's got potential to go just about anywhere. Feels very WW1 with the trench warfare infantry and artillery front-line setup and that's a familiar scene and easily relatable. I actually found Elia's section a bit more interesting as it was the more unusual, we don't often get the artillery gunner's perspective, so thanks for that.

Harrison, He could be anyone, I mean he is representative of the average imperial infantryman and that's a valuable perspective to see in this kind of a story and I can fully understand if this is his story and you want to tell it then go ahead but I was thinking...

What if he's dead and that's just it for Harrison. The story of the defence of Gauel Valley doesn't end there. What about the lives his efforts spared? Can we tell the story of the retreat from a driver's perspective? Or the story of sabotage efforts behind enemy lines from the perspective of one of the agents left behind as the enemy advances?
Really by having an "Everyman" character you could replace him at every turn and tell the story of the whole army and open up the conflict on a much wider scale. And even if every one of your characters dies at the end of each part the final story becomes what they're all fighting for. You could even weave them in and out and bring back Harrison later on for another charge. He might not be dead...

Anyway, just thoughts, I'm sure it's a total departure from the story you want to tell. I'll keep reading regardless.

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Thanks for the feedback mate. I don't know if Harrison will be back as I will cover other forces in the theater, (which are quite varied) and the further retreat up the Gauel Valley and the siege of the Ardus City Hives.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

Great stuff.

I'd be interested to know what those 'traitors and heretics' are fighting for too. Might be interesting to see their perspective as the bitter judgement of the imperium falls on their heads. Are they just rebels fighting for their freedom from an operative regime or are they serving some deeper evil?

Looking forward to following your efforts.

Made in gb
Thunderhawk Pilot Dropping From Orbit

Keep up the good work OldMate
As said above really by Crowe, it's up to you where you take it. But I will look out for more on this hopefully, though no rush.

Come into my web, said the spider to the fly.
Come rest your wings, and let us talk eye to eye.
For I am a spider, and you are the fly. Now that you are here, let us sit, and say hi.
But I have have no morsel to share, nor anything to eat. But wait, what is that stickiness upon your feet.
Ah now I have you, now I can eat. Now I can enjoy you, or store you as meat.
For I am the spider, and you are the fly. How else could it have gone, between one such as you, and one such as I.
Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

The Hunter: 8 Kilometres West of Cambrian Hive Ardus City, Ardus
Sir Haerin Vastoral, the Lion of Sebam enjoyed hunting, he enjoyed moving through the ranges of his estates with his old hunting rifle. The weight of his pack on his back, a belly full and the wilderness around was priceless.
And when he’d fought on Cadia before he’d become the Lion it had been much the same. Except he’d hunted the forces of darkness, he’d had his plasma gun and his great, great grandmother’s power sabre instead of the rifle, and none of the prey on his homeworld had ever made off with an entire limb. That was before his father became sick and he’d inherited the title, the knighthood and the fighting harness Roche.
The Armiger fighting harness was his eyes, steel and steed on the battlefield. He loved training with the harness and he didn’t doubt that his men at arms and huntsmen loved exercising with it. He spent days on end training in it, he’d spent a small fortune to get it outfitted and upgraded to his liking by some of Klomn’s best firms, and a few tweaks that he felt suited him.

But now was a time of duty, and he’d gathered his lance to support his family’s matron the good Lady Alishia de Kanin. And here he was back, fighting on Ardus.
The Lady Alishia had deployed thirty eight lances planetside, each consisted of a knight in mechanised fighting harness, two to three sections of carapaced men at arms, the finest of which in superb powered harness, and whatever else the knight thought he needed.

At the moment his lance was a concealed point in front of the defences. He didn’t move inside the neural harness. He had good cover among the cedar scrub and sandstone ridges that spread to the very edge of the Cambrian Hive.
One of his huntsmen keyed in through the commlink. “My lord, the enemy move up to zone Delta two heavy tanks, exterminator and standard armaments and three IFVs. One IFV has a visible Anti-tank, guided weapon mounted above its barrel. All standard patterns, little to no modification.”

That last part was important. He knew those designs inside and out. Like any half competent hunter he knew the weak points of such common prey.
It was a probing force and the good lady didn’t want them getting near enough to see the defences let alone test them.
Sector Delta. Roche let out a low rumble, beyond hearing but his men at arms could hear it in their helms. Sir Haerin moved through the scrub, the harness’s legs loping easily over the uneven ground. His squads of men at arms formed up either side, beyond his peripheral vision but tagged by Roche. They kept up to his fast pace with low bursts forwards with their jump packs.

The light class strike missile streaked overhead, Roche tagged it and for a moment Sir Haerin wondered if he could strike it from the sky with his coilgun. He could feel Roche pulling at his arm in the neural harness. Tracking the object. But along with the coilgun projectile it would throw a column of heat and light distortion straight up into the sky, warning the foe and he would not compromise his ambush position.
He said a small prayer to the emperor not let it strike anything over-important. He could see sector Delta in his mind. He’d walked the field on foot the day before like any true hunter would. He was approaching from the south west. He’d crest the tall rise and they’d be strung out on the road in the meadow well below him. The grass was very short and the roadside ditch was minimal so the disgorged infantry would have minimal cover when the men at arms opened up from the cover of the rocky, forested hillside.

He positioned himself on the reverse of the slope so that Roche’s targeter only just peaked over. He switched it from hunter killer mode to direct vision and control, so he could use it as a periscope. Even in the thick cedar scrub his family’s scarlet and white regalia was hardly inconspicuous.

The vehicles rumbled into the small valley and after a small while it was for the new Lion of Sebam to strike his first blow. Roche broke into a run without him even thinking. He was at the top of the rise, switching his targeter back to hunter-killer mode. They were close and well below his position.
Haerin pointed hist right hand at the engine block of the lead tank and clenched his right fist. Roche’s double coilgun roared once. A streak of distorted light appeared like a lance and the exterminator shuddered with the impact. But Sir Haerin didn’t have time to watch if it caught fire. He turned the weapon onto the second heavy tank and fired. The shot tore through the side sponsoon housing, hit the ammo supply and the thing was lifted five feet off the ground and became a fireball.
He later estimated it had taken perhaps a second to dispatch both tanks.

A worthy strike. He could feel a mixture of his own elation and that of Roche at destroying the traitor’s heavy armour.

The Chimeras were trying to fan out and disgorge their troops all at once, panicked by his decapitating strike. But they could still kill him and his men.
Roche had tagged the ATGM vehicle and it was bringing its barrel onto him. He danced to the side and with a sweeping twist of the hips he was sprinting along the column much faster than the turret could turn. He raised his right hand, the coilgun itself wasn’t ready to fire yet, but he’d attached a melta system to the weapon’s chassis as a secondary.
He clenched that hand and a gout of fiery gas tipped with a cap of bright plasma shot from it reducing the front of the hull of the chimera to slag. The chemicals burning at the end of the tail caught up with the plasma cap, reacting in a violent explosion which killed both the hull crew. But the Hunter Killer ATGM was on the unharmed turret and the vehicle commander was still trying to bring it onto him.

The targeter tagged the other two chimeras as they started firing on him. Finally, the ATGM was brought to bear on him. He felt Roche prickle at being locked onto, but he was upon the vehicle. He clenched his left hand, activating the plasma field on the Armiger’s colossal powered blade. And that was all he did. Roche brought it across faster than a man could comprehend. The turret flew away like a decapitated man’s head. Half of the commander fell back inside the vehicle.

Roche laughed for the joy of movement, and the joy of battle even as two heavy bolters and two multi-lasers were trying to bring it down. Inside the harness he could feel each impact like being struck by fists.

Sir Haerin was more worried about the infantry spewing out of the vehicles. They were taking heavy auto-laser fire from his men but if they had any kind of rocket launcher, or anti-tank thrown ordinance they could easily hamstring the walker.
His men at arms were clad in fine Karsk carapace and carried the Karsk model of the Hellgun. It was a very suited name, Sir Haerin watched as his sworn men leap froged forwards, letting out scorching bursts of automatic laser fire.

He back pedaled towards the burning heavy tanks to buy himself some more room to react, some more room to put that sporadic lasfire between him and any infantry carried anti-tank weapon. He couldn’t use the smoke launchers, because the enemy troops would use the cover provided by the smoke to get out of the kill zone. The coilgun flashed ready on his HUD and he fired twice more. With good shot placement the last chimeras were disabled.

He provided what support he could to his men against the infantry but the action was all but over.
When the enemy tried to use the burnt-out tanks for cover for some kind of suppression weapon, Sir Haerin cut in and smoked them with the melta gun then quickly backpedalled away from the enemy position.

And suddenly the action stopped, forty six enemy troopers and tankers lay on the ground around the ruined vehicles and his men at arms were pillaging and slitting survivor’s throats. Taking from the kills what they needed.

He was shaking like it was his first hunt. He looked over the carnage. Counted the vehicles and counted them twice. He let Roche let out a roar of triumph, a low, deep noise which would travel for miles yet still with the intensity to chill a man to his bones.
Both sections of men at arms were free of serious injuries. Sir Haerin made himself useful by moving some way up the slope into an overwatch position at the edge of the tree line. He and Roche both scanned for threats.

Sir Haerin could see the missile launch from absurdly close. It had to be to avoid the city’s high-altitude point defence system. This time he could feel the reply of his patron’s artillery squadron. Two basilisks and three lighter, cheaper multiple launch rocket systems which would nonetheless cover the target area in a carpet of blasts.
His huntsman came through the coms. “My lord the enemy are massing a force to assault Delta sector.”

A moment later the Lady Commandant 'de Kanin’s voice came over the coms. “Sectors from Alpha to Lima reporting heavy enemy movement. Lances advance to main line of resistance. All skirmishing lances forwards.” That last part was for him.

They’d known the enemy were going to make a push big towards his Matron’s factories and estates in an attempt to encircle the forces in contested Cambria Hive, and just like that it was coming.

He felt the shakes return and his belly was sour and heavy at once. He felt Roche warm around him through the neural harness.
All he could think was it was his first all-out battle in such a big target. On Cadia there had been more than a few occasions he’d found himself lying in the mud bitterly trading fire with the foe. Roche seemed to say something through the neural harness. Don’t worry I’ve got this.
The harness was a veteran, and the words soothed at least some of the storm of his nerves. “Good to see one of us know what to do, mate.” He whispered in reply to the machine’s spirit.

He could feel Roche priming its systems, coursing warm through the harness and not for the first time he wondered if other knights talked to their fighting harness.
It was time to begin the hunt again, between the steep gullies and the thick scrub the ground was ideal for the Lion’s Lance.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/01/15 06:39:44

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

Very cool. I knew next to nothing about fighting harnesses before reading this and am happy to say that I didn't need much prior understanding of the things to enjoy the story.
A semi-sentient Imperial noble's war steed/armour/robo-suit with plenty of dakka. You covered it fairly well. I like that Sir Haerin knows he's a great big target too. Not just some all powerful armoured wonder-jock. I'd like to see more of him and Roche. Especially Roche actually. Feels like we just scratched the surface of what it's seen, what it's capable of, what conflict between pilot and harness might look like... Very interesting.

Made in ca
Eternally-Stimulated Slaanesh Dreadnought


IMO, your story is good, the pacing is good and the characters are compelling.

My only criticism is that, much like I am, you are overly attached to commas.

The Fall of Kronstaat IV
Война Народная | Voyna Narodnaya | The People's War - 2,898pts painted (updated 18/09/19)
Волшебная Сказка | Volshebnaya Skazka | A Fairy Tale (updated 07/10/19, ep9 - Разорение | Razoreniye | Downfall)
Kabal of The Violet Heart (updated 18/09/19)

You know, if there's one thing I've learnt from being in the Army, it's never ignore a pooh-pooh. I knew a Major who got pooh-poohed; made the mistake of ignoring the pooh-pooh. He pooh-poohed it! Fatal error! 'Cause it turned out all along that the soldier who pooh-poohed him had been pooh-poohing a lot of other officers who pooh-poohed their pooh-poohs. In the end, we had to disband the regiment.
Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

The Old Spy: Gauel Valley Ardus (redrafted)

Captain Falian, of the Illreaen Black Hand watched the ambush turn as he knew it certainly would. Watched as his special mission here come to an end. The assignment had taken three decades from his life, but it was in service to the holy princes.

He ran a hand through his now silver hair and remembered how it had been flawlessly black before he had begun his work here. But the order of the Black Hand was his life.
Falian sent a message, a faded image of what was in front of him back to the Order. It was an easy trick, even for a psyker as weak as himself. The Order liked to keep these things catalogued.

When he’d arrived he’d hidden up in the high mountains and they’d sought him out, and he’d used his powers, to weave an illusion into the stories he’d fed them. It wasn’t strong but he’d reinforced it with other crafts. He’d told them half- truths, that the occupation of the province maybe permanent. That the Waaagh had been long enough ago for the province to stabilise. That the Imperium was flooding in retired regiments that held no loyalty to their commonwealth.

Slowly over years he’d built up their trust and eroded their world, their reality, slowly his illusion had been woven into the stories they told themselves. It had reached the point where the strength of the illusion or the sorcerer didn’t matter, they wanted to believe that their people were trying to enslave them. Or destroy them. And now they were thirsty for the blood of their kin. And that had not been a masterwork enough for him.

A lifetime of infiltrating radical groups to maintain the Princes’s peace had tooled him well for this operation. And his powers were so weak and subtle that he’d remained undetected.

He knew that with the destruction of this seemingly isolated sector the abomination that was the corpse god would lose its strength in the region. That without the forges of Karsk and Thryn the entire region of space would be starved of arms and equipment. Without the first foothold on Ardus that campaign would be lengthened greatly. And should the campaign lengthen that happen the Imperium, as distant it’s strength was, may muster a relief force. It may even then have foothold enough to make a decent strike. It would be like having a mountain fall upon you for kicking a pebble.

He caught sight of a convoy of refugees being plucked apart by his rebels. They were killing their own folk and it left a bitter taste in his mouth. He’d grown to resent those militants down on the valley floor. But the princes had wanted to end this sector, and they knew theyr’d have to prepare the sector so that the onset of the invasion could be swift.
And so, the Order of the Black Hand, the finest tool for the purpose had been dispatched into the sector. Their slow work had begun. The irony that the Order, that had been created to infiltrate and annihilate dissent within the Prince’s realm, was now the implement to infuse another with that taint.

Falian had meticulously planned the ambush that had gone so horrifically wrong. He’d tried to impress on his rebels the importance to melt away before the fight reached a tipping point, if only to preserve force and thus threat to the foe’s flanks, but they hadn’t listened.

The ambushes had started as one along the two highways in several pockets. Missiles arched out to the already thinly stretched supply lines running to the Druze Plateau and came volleys of cheap rockets. And he’d betted the enemy would pull something together to punish these assailants.
It was the first thing that had been learnt fighting this sector, this so-called commonwealth of systems. That in a time of crisis like now their experienced troops were fluid. Several units would disintegrate into battlegroups and everything would somehow work.
The ambush below him panned out, not how he expected. This was a crack assault unit. They charged into the teeth of the ambush without hesitation. Through his spotting scope he could just see the dark coats on the charging figures.

Falain bit his lip for a moment as he contemplated what he’d have done differently if he was the ambusher.
But care for the ambush wasn’t his anymore, his team had arrived to extract him and he’d finally rid himself of the rags he’d worn. He wore carapace and held a helmet under his arm. The body armour was bulky and unfamiliar, heavy even.
The vox operator approached.

“Captain. We’ve broken their front line on the Druze, and the Thraiks are pouring through Switch-Knife Pass.” The man’s voice had a note too high of triumph.
The news left a sick feeling in his stomach. He knew it meant the tide of cultists, criminals and mutants would soon be pouring into the valley, regiments of the contemptible to be sent to their deaths. Forces that needed to be culled to hold the Princes empire together. A tide of death that would spill over the troops down below him.

For some perverse reason it didn’t seem fitting. Maybe it was an old man’s sentiment. But the Grand Marshal was planning on using his regulars later.

But Falian disliked the cults. They were dangerous to keep, as they were not conductive to any kind of stability. Instead of just worshiping the gods they openly worshiped chaos itself, and that could lead to the fracture of the realm into anarchy and the death of the Princes themselves. Which was unthinkable heresy. As a younger man in the Order he’d infiltrated radical cults, abd other such groups and gathered intelligence. Latter in his career he had joined an Order killteam and had executed on other such agent's information.

Falian eyed the forces fighting down below him on the plain. Beyond the Riverland the desert stretched away red as a Thraik’s scalp. Some said it was coloured by the rusting hulks of ruined vehicles, others had said it was coloured by lifeblood of invaders.

If they lost here the other enemies would start to appear, carrion crawlers peering out from the crevices to test the empire’s strength. If they got tied up here and the Imperium sent a crusade it might well be a deathblow.
For a moment he wondered what the Twin Princes had gotten themselves into.

The captain grabbed his carbine. And looked one last time from his mountain top down the wide expanse of the Gauel Valley. He didn’t know what to think. His deployment here was at an end. “Right, lets get going.”
It was time for re-deployment and more serous operations on the planet. Captain Falain smiled quietly to himself and to the Valley.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/01/28 11:06:26

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Glad everyone's enjoying it. Tried to write Roche in as a character through its machine spirit. First go with doing that.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

The Legionnaire: Gauel Valley, roughly fifteen kilometres south of the valley head, Ardus
Sergeant Harry Luis of the 921st Commonwealth Combined Fusiliers opens both of his eyes. The world is dark and his body is like ice and soaked to the skin. Ardus. He is back on Ardus he remembers, he’s not with the Fusiliers, he’s not with the legion. He’s with the 132nd Commonwealth Combined Rifle regiment, he’s a corporal here. He remembers Private Christos, Rado and specialist Stryn.

The scout sentinel, they’d gotten past it. He’d got a burst at it and the pilot had frantically ducked behind the armour plating. And they’d flown past and out of sight before it could kill them with its auto cannon. Christos his driver he remembers is dead. Las-bolt through the side of the head. The recon truck has gone down into the roadside drain and flipped over after Christos died.

Rado had been hit by small arms fire.
Harry can’t see much more than the silver shimmer of the moonlight on an irrigation drain few metres away.
He knows better than to make a noise. He finds the KSR83 next to him in the mud. The feeling of the hardwood is comforting in his hand. The service rifle’s action was robust for it to not worry about a bit of mud.
He pulls himself to his feet.

“Sarge.” Stryn, she is alive, she sounds terrified. He thanks the emperor and his luck. “They’re everywhere. ThTh… Thraiks I think.”
“How’s Private Rado, Specialist?”
“He’s bad. The cold is in him and he’s lost blood.” Harry swears, this is not what he’d expected a month ago when his leave came through. It was only a week ago and he was at home, and war had came to the sector and he’d been scooped up and posted to a green unit. And the Fusiliers were with the legion off fighting somewhere in the Imperium.

“I’ve bandaged him and got a blanket over him but…” Her voice trails off helplessly. They’d been good soldiers.
Harry stumbles over to the wrecked vehicle, and manages to crawl into the back, despite bruising his shins on the tangle bent of steel bars. He finds a box in the darkness and pulls his smock out of it and grabs the two ration kits stashed in there.
The garment is a little warmer, even over his soaking fatigues. Finally he finds his two remaining soldiers in the darkness. “Get yourself ready to move. I’ll look over him.”
When he hears her footsteps tracing towards the truck he takes Rado’s pulse. It is low and slow and cold. Part of him considers holding his hand over the unconscious man’s nose and mouth and giving him the emperor’s peace.

There a shadow moving near the road. He watches it for a moment. “Enemy patrol.” He warns Stryn as loudly as he dare. And his arms are under Rado’s armpits and he drags the man to the irrigation ditch. He doesn’t hesitate as he backs both of them slowly into the icy water. It is chest deep and he lying them both down with only their heads out. He waits in some reeds and he sees the top of Stryn’s bush hat.
He gets his bearing from the stars, he’d fought on Ardus years ago and he knew the important ones. He waits for what seems like a freezing eternity before he moves along the irrigation canal to a corner and then back towards the south. They slowly climb from the canal and came to a track. He sent Stryn crawling up the bank to look out for movement.

It’s near dawn and but the terrain is not that to offer a good lying up point for the day. Perhaps thankfully the morning has delivered a thick mist around the fields. He drags Rado from the water and it takes a lot of his strength. He lies there trying not to pant or shiver and he remembers the ship he came back on.
Crammed with other lucky legion personnel, injured people and ruined machines. With newly acquired machines and weapons to be studied or smelted in the great forges.

But perhaps most importantly hard fought knowledge and experience. And the ship had docked up and loaded with fresh equipment and legionnares.
He was home an hour after docking. That dusty, sun beaten suburb. The same newspapers blowing across the concrete carpark with the cracked and blackened patch where a tank had brewed up while holding the road down a hundred and fifty years before. The same heat stressed plants blanted in the dry earth around it. Shop fronts that were timeless. And his legs had carried him around the block, second house on the right. Drakey, the hound his father had given him climbed to its feet and rushed to greet him when it tasted Harry's scent on the air.

He pushes the thought of home aside and checks Rado. The man’s still alive, Stryn signals the coast is clear, they have to press on.
Harry drags the injured private the rest of the way up the slope and they’re in a small avenue of trees with a footpath between them. Stryn is stopped paralysed and it is too late when he too sees the shapes moving out of the mist.

Two hounds sleek and silent creep from the mist moving in a misleadingly lazy gait. It was a strange thing to see, the two reptilian drak hounds. Something between deep terror and resignation. He is paralysed by fear. It is worse that being face to face with the enemy, he’d try to go down fighting at least, but there is a tauntingly thin sliver of hope here.

“Don’t move.” He tells Stryn, they’re dead as soon as they do.

The things are Karsk chimaerids, genetically engineered hounds, all thick scale, and vicious claws. Nearly identical to Drakey but instead clad in flak armour and filled with cold menace.
A forked tongue flicks out and it has his taste, his fear. And he knows there’s another two behind him ready to tear the three of them apart faster than he can think. It was decidedly a fate worse than being shot by Thraiks.

A voice comes from the mist. “What’s the pass code?” It carried the same sharp accent as his father and his eyes misted up in a mix of frustration, fatigue and fear. He is freezing cold, bruised and exhausted. He didn’t know what regiment it was let alone the night’s pass code. The doors slam shut on his hope.
“I don’t know.” He all but cries out in despair.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

Good stuff. I like the desperation in the Legionnaire. Not much fight, just a long cold pointless slog which ends in likely disaster. Proper grimdark. Not sure exactly whose hounds are on patrol, whose side they are on, or even if it matters. No password no joy either way I suppose. Still Sgt. Harry had a slivver of hope there for a while.

Old spy... Sorry but that one might be in need of a redraft. I had no idea what was going on for the first four paragraphs and by the end he was leaving it all behind anyway, so it didn't matter. Whatever subtle clues you may have been feeding us I either totally missed or just plain didn't understand. Thanks for not talking down to your reader I guess but in such a short story it helps to fully establish the idea fast so the action can start immediately or maybe everyone already knows what the Illreaen Black Hand is and I'm just out of the loop.

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Yeah, will redraft, idea that I wanted wasn't quite formed.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

fixed now a bit

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

The White Shield: Farios Hive, Ardus City Outskirts
I could no longer feel the straps of the flack armour cutting into my shoulders anymore and my pack wasn’t a heavy weight on my back. My rifle was a familiar shape and weight. At night I am back in the Druze mud with half of my squad.

Sterren was there. As fast and as vicious as a stoat, with a shock of blonde hair. Complaining about the mist, the rain and the mud. But never about the armour and the rifle. And then he was there, screaming and bleeding out from his missing arm. And I was trying to hold his tourniquet ineffectively over the wound while I was screaming hysterically for help.

Gabriel was there. Driven and determined. She’d represented the district in the shooting and cross country and she’d wanted to join a regiment and get posted into the Legions. And she’d commanded the squad with efficiency and confidence. As if she been born to it. And a mortar bomb had landed in her foxhole, and she was just gone.

Cheerful Jean, who’d always tried to start each day with a joke. Who had been waiting for admission to train as a doctor in Ardus City, had been evacuated without his legs and a body full of shrapnel.

Quiet Kaili who was hopelessly in love with Gabriel, lost his mind and blew his own brains out the night after we piled her foxhole in.

And myself. The least-best soldier in the squad. And my whole body hurt at carrying my gear and myself around and I had been a big ball of hunger and pain until that first bullet tore into my arm. I’d taken flesh wounds, they hadn’t even been muscle deep. Instead one bullet had torn through the fat on my arm and the other my leg.

And now I stood in front of my own whitesheilds squads readying to defend the Farios Hives against the now cautiously approaching enemy. We had positions defending a section twelve kilometres from the main by-way into the city and ahead of us the small scattering of buildings beyond the hive limits had been bulldozed flat.

I had four squads and an antiquated heavy machinegun. Which was really quite a correct description because we needed at least two strong men to move the thing on its tripod mount. Another man had to carry the water siphon, water can and ammunition. I now at least had the experience to know the force looked like a bad joke. We had two crates of heavy machinegun ammunition and four buckets of bullets mixed with las batt-packs. Which like the weapons had been commandeered or taken out of storage to arm the citizenry.

My people had such a mix of weapons that it was really a matter of fishing through and finding something that fitted your weapon. But luckily it hadn’t got as bad as tying knives to poles like they had planned to do at the height of the waaagh. My big automatic rifle was at least chambered in a service calibre, but even so I took only three magazines worth. Twenty-four rounds. Because the ammo had to go round, and I didn’t figure I’d last that long.

It took an hour before everyone had enough bullets.

The commander of the company came by. He was a retired commissar from somewhere in the Imperium named Hark. A scary man with a face that was a mess of deep scars like he’d headbutted a chainsword and he had one jewely green bionic eye. The old man looked scowling from under an old cap and carried his boltgun in his arms like a babe.

“We fight for our home and those we love today.” His voice was scratchy but it carried its own power. “We fight for imperium and the emperor. There is nothing else greater to do.” He left a lot unsaid, but he didn’t need to say it.

And they would fight to the death because this was their home.

There hadn’t even been a preparatory bombardment. The enemy dismounted from trucks a kilometre back and came in a screaming horde. Some even carried banners with the mark of taint. And I was lying against the low wall as they screamed towards us. I emptied the first magazine into the mass of feral humanity, cringing at the recoil of the rifle and firing with my eyes half closed. And beside me the machinegun opened up. It was a deafening chat-chat-chat that went on and on.

And it scythed them down in ranks, and the heavy rounds went straight through a rank and through the bodies behind, and it scythed down much more than a hundred of them before they realised they were taking fire. A few panicked shots ineffectively licked the buildings around us. They jumped to the ground but the machinegun still punished them. Jakes, the gunner slowed and stopped. It looked like a field of newly cropped bodies nothing stirred.

I could hear hissing and I rolled over and glanced at the gun. Hark had been standing next to it firing with his boltgun and he looked down at the ancient machinegun with new respect.

He pointed to some other soldiers. “You, you. Bring more ammunition.” He’d kept more crates of heavy machinegun ammo in reserve and there now didn’t seem to be a point holding out with it.

I looked at the unmoving mass of bodies and could hear the hiss of steam coming from the gun. It was the reason any of us were still alive. “We need more water for the gun.”

Hark considered me for a moment. And his face made a terrifying shape. He turned to the soldiers who were moving towards the rear.

He pointed to the now empty buckets that our ammo had come in. they still had a few useless rounds and batt-packs. “Fill buckets with water. Bring them to the gun.”

The enemy came this time with a mix of captured civilian vehicles, some flying banners. The same fanatics.

The machinegun chat chat chatted on but they kept coming.

More bullets flew our way but the machinegun started up and a van packed with them caught fire and veered off the road. I could see figures trying to creep closer but I didn’t want to waste ammo missing them. There was a car screaming towards me and I desperately fired three rounds towards it.

I mentally kicked myself and made myself sight the front glass at least. I took a deep breath as I had been trained to, let it out slowly, put the front pin where the driver should be and fired. The vehicle sped up, started swerving wildly and I fired again at the centre line of the vehicle. It swerved into a barrier. A back door moved and I put a bullet through it. I could see the blood on the windscreen.

A small burst of machinegun fire raked our position. A vehicle with one mounted on it was trying to zig towards our position. I heard two metallic coughs from Harks’s boltgun and the vehicle caught fire. And between the gunshots I could almost hear him laughing. I could see another car and another snaking towards us through their wrecks spewing fire or disgorging troops. I could see the enemy climbing to their feet as if they had little to fear.

I rolled over and looked at the machinegun. Jakes had both hands to his throat and there was blood seeping from between his fingers and the loader was no-where to be seen.

I climbed to my feet and a las-shot snapped clean through my leg. I could hear las-shot and bullets impacting and flying around me as I made that four metre passage to the machine-gun’s position.

A bullet hit my left hand and took two fingers but I didn’t even feel it and a las-shot burned through my armour and sizzled through my stomach so that when I sat down at the gun I could smell a trace of cooking pork.

And I put the sights on the first car and pulled the triggers. I hosed down two vehicles before the infantry realised to get to cover and I put the gun on their desperate running forms. They threw more vehicles at us. Someone came with more ammunition and I stopped firing only for them to put the siphon in a new bucket. And some of the enemy got close enough to shell our position with rockets.

But to get a clear shot with their shoulder fired rocket launchers they had to expose themselves to the hail of bullets, and they weren’t willing to do that so instead the rockets went everywhere.

And behind us came the great rumble of guns. So deep that you could feel it over the machinegun fire. The remains of my left hand was slippery on the grip and a carpet of explosions started to pound the enemy.

When they stopped coming someone put their hand on my shoulder. It was Hark. The old man was smiling a terrible smile. And his mouth moved but I couldn’t hear a word he said.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

A Black Hand: Farios Hive, Ardus City Outskirts
Captain Falian watched as the cult fanatics assault the edge of the city that he was already inside of. The slaughter was great and the gains were little, he had to smile because the enemy were doing the Black Hand’s work for it. And the cultists were so much more useful here, and it was pleasing the gods. Even as he watched another ramshackle force of vehicles was assembling itself to charge into the teeth of the enemy.

One of his sergeants approached him. “Sir?” The younger man is impatient to begin the work at hand. Falian was tempted to watch this next wave meet its end. He has six teams infiltrated into striking positions on this small section of enemy front line, the hope was to let the tide in and evaporate again.
If anyone could do it, the Order kill teams could. And it felt good to finally be directly at the foe. To be directly serving the Princes will to these death worshiping heathens.

“One moment and I will give the signal.” He waited for a while. Till the vehicles were well under way, because they’d provide a good distraction.

There was no shelling in their sector, courtesy of a raid the previous night, and of course the tides of suicidal fanatics that were trying to ram their way down the main by-way with every piece of armour they had.

He sent the signal with the most psykic power he could muster, and his sergeant already had the door in front of him down. There was a woman there holding a rifle and Falain cut the white shield down with his poweraxe. He’d worn the carapace for a month now, he was comfortable in it and could still move like a snake despite its weight.

His team stormed forwards and fanned out into the building, he paused to let them overtake him. But the battle joy was in him and so many memories of similar breaches were flooding back and he pressed forwards again.

He slipped through and open door and killed a man carrying a cheap rocket launcher. He took it from the dying man’s grip, turned it over, shouldered it and fired the krak round through the wall opposite himself. He felt the heat of the back-blast coming off the wall behind him. The warhead punched straight through the and detonated on the other side. He dropped the weapon and two conscripts who had been firing out of a window next to him turned as one.

Perhaps they thought their mate had a misfire because they didn’t even raise their weapons.

Falian was on them with his axe and they didn’t get a shot off. He had one of their service rifles in one hand and on the balls of his feet he spun through the doorway to the room he’d just fired the rocket into.

The men and women there were dazed and injured and he leveled the rifle and fired indiscriminately at them. He closed with the first two and killed them with his axe in his oft hand. One of his team came through the door behind him and killed the last of them in the room. He dropped the empty rifle.

Falian moved to the next door, these might be alert, so he hurled a grenade in first. The survivors were stunned and managed to get a few panicked rounds off before he got into them with the axe.
And the Black Hand kill team were like daemons. They were everywhere at once and before long they’d cleared the floor. And the other teams had other buildings clear. The strike had settled the unease he’d been feeling of late.

Falian risked looking out a window and saw the first cult vehicles getting close. And the first troops had overrun the white shield’s preliminary line of defence. Those fanatics were the Order’s natural enemy. It would surely be tempting fate if his warriors stayed here any longer.

A breach had been carved out for the unrelenting masses and the enemy were not ready to strike back. He sent a message to his lieutenants with his power, and they melted away.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/01/28 10:54:02

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

The whiteshield is the best one yet (imo) really good stuff, thoroughly enjoyed that one.

Still not a massive fan of Captain Falian though. Maybe he's just not my kinda guy. All choppy no fee-fees.

I would point out that some of your writing could do with a proof before you post. It's intelligible enough, I'm enjoying the stories, but there are errors that will make a reader stumble at times. PM me if you want examples, or else I'll just shut up.

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

The Tooth: Gauel Valley, Ardus

Corporal Harry Luis was cursed his luck for the second time that morning. The Karsk grenadiers hadn’t shot him. The draks hadn’t torn him apart. He’d been taken to the company command post and reported. Rado had been loaded into an ambulance and rushed to an aid station. Stryn and himself had been directed down a track to where a 132nd Commonwealth Combined Rifles patrol vehicle waited. And on the ride back to their regiment he’d had the presence of mind to remember the sodden spicy sausage that was tucked away in his pocket.

And now he was with his company digging in. The bright side was the sun was out and he’d had breakfast and he felt a lot better than he had earlier that morning, he was also a sergeant again. That was until the fusiliers wanted him back anyway. The trenches were on the bottom of the desert escarpment. The positioning was so that the meduim tanks a kilometre up the ridge could them could cover bottlenecked around the ‘Tooth’. The edge of the desert escarpment came up to the Gauel river where it flowed around the basalt spire of the ‘Tooth’. It as a rising column of rock two thousand metres tall, an island of mountain alone in the valley floor.

And beyond the ‘Tooth’ the entire allied force that had been holding the Valley was making an organised retreat to the defensible valley mouth and the city hives beyond. A bruised and battered sacrifice had been left as a vanguard. Of which the 132nd Commonwealth Combined Rifles was part.

And he himself in Charlie company 2nd platoon had been placed in the first line of resistance.

Harry carried his service rifle, a disposable rocket launcher tube and as many grenades as he could get his hands on. And of course his entrenching tool, which at the moment proved to be the most important part of his kit.

The humidity from the mist around the fields was beginning to boil off and had created a thick haze in the valley. Harry could see plumes of dust being kicked up by the enemy vehicles that were lining up to break this rear-guard action.

The enemy had rushed up heavy vehicles to break the defences quickly. Harry guessed they’d be sending the Thraiks.

An hour later the enemy opened up. A veritable hail of fragmentation rockets and mortar bombs started raining down. Even then he had the experience to dig through the barrage.

The rocket fire stopped and he could see the vehicles lining up

Specialist Stryn was scanning the rolling fields and orchards through the scope of her KDMR 83. It was the same action and chassis as his service rifle, but chambered in a full length cartridge and sporting a bipod and suppressor.

Beyond her Specialist Zac unfolded the bipod of the squad’s KSAW83. The light machinegun variant and the rest of the section readied their service rifles.

Somewhere behind him the platoon’s two fifty millimetre mortars were firing. It told him the enemy were out to two and a half kilometres. He kept digging till he heard the engines rumbling down on the plain below.

The ground was picked well and the enemy were forced to assault over open ground. Even at a kilometre he could see the vehicles lining up and the bursts of mortar fire falling down behind and among them.

The enemy had a line of Leman Russ tanks and Chimeras. The traitor militia forces were nowhere to be seen. The enemy’s armour was supplemented by lighter tanks and armoured cars but their tactic to break what they thought was a flimsy rear-guard with pure force was clear.

It was clear the bulk of the enemy infantry was dismounted and moving behind the vehicles. Harry wished he’d had his good pair of binoculars, he’d be able to get more of an idea of the numbers that was coming. He could see them in his mind’s eye on his little used bed in Sebam. He swore.

Above him on the escarpment the dull thuds of the Ardus PDF 134th Dragoons wurm medium tanks firing their conquer cannons. Directly ahead of him two chimeras were burning. Along the hole line they stopped to disgorge troops.

The Russ’s returned a salvo of mixed cannon and laser fire in return and continued undaunted and unharmed. There was another thudding salvo from the wurms and Harry heard an armour piercing rounds whistling off armour. A casual glance up the escarpment told him the wurms’s scapes had spared them the fury of the return volley. The red earth was smoking and pitted but the wurms got another full salvo off.

One Russ stopped moving and caught flames. The wurms backed up so this time as they reloaded they were entirely protected by the escarpment. The enemy was getting too close to their position.

Harry sat and watched the steel beasts grind closer. One Russ annihilator armed with three las-cannons and a pair of heavy bolters was driving straight towards him. It flew some pennants. The vehicle was buttoned right up so he wasn’t too worried about being seen. But he could do nothing but wait in his fox hole till his world was filled with its roar and clanking tracks.

He was glad he dug the hole deep enough and he tucked himself into a ball as he felt it coming. Above him became a roof of rumbling steel and it felt the hole would collapse around him and bury him alive. And then came light and the choking taste of promethium smoke, he counted to ten then rose putting the rocket launcher over his shoulder.

He popped up out of the earth. The rear of the vehicle was too close to miss and the shot felt suicidal. He pushed himself into the dirt and hoped Ardus would shield him from the shrapnel. He fired the tube. The tank engine exploded instantly, a piece of metal skitted off and would have scalped him if not for his helmet.

The tank’s side escape hatch came open, but he had his service rifle in his hands. A head and arms poked out and he fired a bullet through it. The enemy tank commander was pulling himself out but a hail of machinegun fire jammed him in the turret. It seemed the rest of the crew didn’t get out.

The company’s tank hunters opened fire from their concealed line five hundred behind the first line, bringing anti-tank guide missiles, las-cannons and a single carriage mounted plasma cannon to bear. With the enemy armour now in disarray the wurms had re-entered their scrapes on the top of the escarpment and were firing into the enemy spearhead.

Harry ducked down again. He took the time to load a new magazine into the rifle as the world rocked with explosions.

The day was still and choked with smoke and churned up dust from an assault of hundreds of tanks, armoured cars, sentinels and IFVs. He cursed because the line was spread thin and he couldn’t lead his guardsmen. It was now a terrifying battle of luck. Each hole a fortress spread in a chain across the enemy’s path.

A chimera came roaring out of the smoke so close Harry fumbled for the krak grenade he had looped under his belt. With practiced hands he unscrewed the bottom cap, pulled the priming string. The throw was too close to require real skill. It blew the left track and put the vehicle into a skidding turn past his hole.

Two men were running towards him with a heavy bolter, they hadn’t seen him, perhaps thanks to the handful of weeds he’d jammed under his helmet band.

The hardwood stock was welded to his cheek bone before he realised it. His trigger finger was fast and he put two bullets into the first man and five into the second Thraik as he went to duck for cover.

Three figures appeared carrying rifles Harry picked a frag grenade form his webbing and hurled it at two with a low throw, as not to draw attention to his position. But that failed. The other figure, perhaps having seen the bolter crew’s bodies fired a burst from the hip and jumped to the ground.

The grenade exploded and the pair crumpled.

Harry stuck his head out to find the other soldier, because it was the only thing he could do.

A lasshot rang out and the meat on the side of his neck was vaporised.

He cursed, the figure was in hard cover behind a collapsed and burning sentinel. He fired two rounds at the thing but to no avail. Another las-bolt cracked by and this time it went through his helmet, he could smell burnt hair.

He ducked down. Counted to eighteen and popped back up again.

There came a heavy burst of machinegun fire from somewhere next to him and he saw a body slump against the wrecked sentinel.

Heavy gunfire started on his right and he heard a whistle somewhere ahead of him in the smoke it was followed by a roaring chorus of voices. It was terrifying. He loaded another magazine into the service rifle and check the position of the remaining grenades on his webbing.

“Screw this madness.” He mumbled to himself as he clicked his bayonet onto his rifle.

A Thraik came running out of the smoke. And then another. All across the battle line rifles and machineguns were firing and grenades being thrown. No sooner had they been gunned down then others came and with them came las-bolts and grenades. They started coming crawling forwards. Sergeant Harry Luis threw the last of his hand grenades.

And then after what seemed like an eternity the madness of moving bodies and deadly light just stopped. His service rifle was burning hot, and as sweat dripped onto the barrel it sizzled. He loaded the last of his full magazines.

With the immediate threat dealt with he glanced around. There was two burning tankers next to the chimera and the world was smoke and fire and bodies. They were everywhere. He realised he couldn’t see fifteen metres in any direction, and how close the bodies really were. He could hear the occasional crack or chatter of weapons fire around him.

It was time for him to do his job. His every instinct was to stay in the little hole he’d carve out of Ardus. He physically forced himself out of the tiny refuge. Glass crackled under his boot as he took his first step. The foxhole was surrounded by fulgurites, formed as a las-bolt strikes smelt soil to glass.

He found his section three soldiers down, private Varid and specialist Zac were dead in their foxhole. Varid having taken over the light machinegun after Zac went down. Another soldier was injured badly. Harry’s 2ic corporal Chu was bleeding from a shrapnel cut across his face but otherwise was okay.

Sergeant Harry told his troopers they’d done well. He made sure they had full magazines and bayonets attached. He told them to stay alert.

But before the enemy mustered another assault Master Sergeant Theas appeared out of the smoke like a ghost.

Harry was glad to see a member of the command squad, with the smoke all round it wasn’t hard to think they’d been forgotten about. The veteran held an Ardus pattern bolter with underslung grenade launcher lazily tucked under her arm.

He was glad to have that level of firepower and experience as well.

“Get your section together.” She said and spat on the bloody ground. “We’re pulling out.”

The sun was beginning to set and the world was wreathed a hellish orange in the dying light. The truck bed hadn’t been designed to carry people and it wasn’t comfortable being crushed in with half a platoon.

But it was better than being overrun and killed. Behind Harry was a wall of fire and smoke that stretched towards both horizons and in front of him was dust and darkness. A local Light motorised regiment, augmented by a large volunteer force had appeared with a fleet of civilian vehicles, evacuated the battered division and set a wall of fire to cover the retreat.

The skies were clear, Harry didn’t know why enemy flyers weren’t descending on them like hungry vultures, but he thanked the emperor. And he fell asleep standing there in the press of bodies with his rifle over his shoulder.

Drakey was lying in the shade of the house he had long ago intended on leaving, but he found himself walking to the front gate yet again.

Drakey had noticed him, then after a long taste with a forked tongue the hound trotted over. Harry dropped his bag and scratched the back of its head the chimaerid wagged its tail, a habit it had copied from the dog.

“You’re back.” Her voice didn’t surprise him. If she did move like she’d said Drakey would be up at Leitgton with his parents.

“Can’t get rid of me that easily Juilianne.” He replied with a grin widening on his face.

They hugged she kissed him on the cheek and for the briefest moment Harry Luis was tempted to stray a bit to the side. But he wasn’t going to overstep that line.

“That’s doctor to you.” She could barely contain the pride and joy in her voice as she said it.

“That’s excellent.” He was smiling so hard it hurt his cheeks. He didn't know what else to say and in the silence the realisation dawned on him.

“Imperator.” He cursed, they’d been living here for just on seven years now.

He was jolted awake to see the stream of fire coming towards them from the dark sky as the belated hungry vultures came swooping down with streams of cannon fire.

“Imperator.” He cursed as the truck’s brakes skidded. He prayed to the emperor and hoped he’d get home this time.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/02/27 09:48:50

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

Really liked the pace of this one. Good frenetic action quickly swinging from one moment to the next almost breathlessly at times.
Good to see Harry's humanity throughout from his hunger to his resentment of the situation, his fear, his determination to do his job, his falling asleep on his feet. That's really where the story is at and probably why I'm not a huge fan of Space Marines.

Nicely paragraphed too for web content. For someone like me who's primarily accessing Dakka on my old phone that space really makes a difference. Larger blocks of text like would be standard in a story written for print are muc harder going on phone readers.

Thanks for posting. Lookin forward to seeing what aspect of Ardus you look at next.

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Thanks theCrowe, I like writing about people, not sure how I'd go writing a marine, luckily they are pretty rare. Decided on double spacing after I sumbitted my first one.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Lupus Lance: 8 Kilometres West of Cambrian Hive Ardus City, Ardus
Sir Haerin Vastoral sat in his folding camp stool. On the holofield in front of him was this section of the battlefield and Sir Haerin matched the ridges and gullies of amber light, which what he’d walked the previous day. He'd marked out likely approaches and ambushes in his mind and now he was placing them on the map. He weaved the images together in his mind.

As befitting his title, the Lion, the stool’s legs were carved with lions and intricate, floral work. The workmanship was second to none and the material, scarlet ivory from the claws of a tyrranid creature of the fleet Leviathan was beautiful. Where light hit it the ivory it came alive with gold.

Sir Haerin loved the piece, it was both extremely beautiful and extremely durable, the stool itself was a basic tripod design and was capable of holding him in full harness of powered armour-plas.

On top of the exquisite legs he sat on a white silk cushion embroidered with the same pattern. Which to a small degree offset his enthusiasm for the whole work.

He found himself examining a section of the white silk. Despite his best efforts there was already dirt on it. Dirt from a field where blood maybe spread in the morning. Part of him was almost disgusted at how easily it had stained. The heir of the noble house in him said there couldn’t be much done about it, it was after all it was a family colour. The whole piece was a family heirloom, and he couldn’t bring himself to replace the cushion. He considered asking Elise to have the silk washed again, but surely the household had better things to be worrying about on the eve of battle.

Sir Haerin sat there for a long moment wondering what he should be doing. His squires were seeing to his powered harness, interface suit and weapons. His mechanised fighting harness Roche was all armed up and ready to go. He’d already made a prayer to the emperor. And he felt useless.

He was used to taking care of his own things, but he was here with his household and his gear was in the hands of three squires.

“My lord.” Came his squire Elise from the door. She was dressed in an arming suit(to which full carapace, could be comfortably worn over) of her family’s colours. “Madame Alison the Praut, pilot of the armiger fighting harness Lupus.” Sir Haerin knew the rest. Bastard niece of the Lady Alisha de’Kanin. Up and comer in both the powered and unpowered stocks. She'd proven that in two tournaments. And by all accounts a natural pilot.

Sir Alison looked unremarkable for a woman that fought in full foot harness. She had long brown hair and broad strong shoulders. She carried herself like the knight she was, and there was something mischievous in her eye that made him want to grin.

“Might I say it’s just Sir Alison Praut. Young lady.”

Elise was flushing at being interrupted so informally and didn't know how to recover the situation. She was proud at being of age to finally join on the field of battle and she was bridling at being addressed in such a way. Sir Haerin considered letting his squire stew for a moment, decided against it, and got to his feet.

He came to Elise’s rescue with a grin.

“In that case, good evening Sir Alison. Might I ask who these two good gentlemen are?”

One knight wore a green arming suit, the other wore a fine set of powered black carapace and carried a nasty scar down one side of his face.

“Sir Orvis of Srethe.” The knight in green. He wasn’t a big man but his eyes were quick and he offered a quick grin.

“Sir Edmuerd the Praut. No relation.” The second man said relaying the fact without a hint of emotion. The black knight eyed the lion’s bionic arm, gave a grim grin and flexed the fingers of his own right hand. That small movement caught Sir Haerin’s eye.

Sir Haerin ushered them to the holofield.

“I trust you are here to discuss how our forces will work combined?”

“My lord Vastoral. I am told I’m a good fighter, but I’d never consider myself a good tactician, even with the guidance from all of the good Lady’s veteran knights and men at arms.” She replied.
"I will offer whatever input I feel is needed but Sir Emuerd here is a masterful tactitian."

The black knight merely gave a slight grin, shrugged then flexed the hand, which to the Lion appeared increasingly cybernetic.

“I bring two power harnessed knights and half a dozen men at arms in similar equipment. And with grace the of my matron I put them and myself under your command.”

The knights didn’t make to disagree.

And Sir Haerin stood there for a few moments. A smile played on his lips even as he bit at his cheeks in anxiety.

Sir Haerin Vastoral looked at the approaching sentinels. The enemy had learnt their lesson with their probe and they’d dispatched scouts to scour the forest before their tanks came. The light walkers were deadly, a quarter of them carried lascannons. He’d prepared his hide like the hunter he was, but with the enemy’s all out assault there was little use for it now. His men at arms had sawed the ropes and collapsed the sheets of chameleonic material over Roche. Down low two bright blue eyes peered from a steel skull. And that was Haerin’s eyes.

So he watched the two troops of sentinels coming closer. He could feel Roche pulling at the harness, wanting to be at the enemy, wanting to bring slaughter to their machines with steel and fire.

“They’re not close enough yet.” He whispered to the steel being he was piloting, although part of him wondered if he was the inexperienced party here.

Do not concern yourself. It seemed to say. He told himself this was just another hunt.

He could hear the rumble of heavier machines making ready to assault after the hills were swept.

Sir Haerin let the coilgun’s sights drift over to the lead sentinel. It held a las-cannon. He waited till they were ridiculously close. Till they were within a hundred metres. The four spearheading sentinels were armoured, the four in the rear were not. His men at arms held the high ground, and they could fire down into the open topped vehicles, in a worse case scenario.

As it was, he’d made sure the soldiery had been kitted with cheap rocket launchers, which were effective against a russ’s side armour within three hundred metres. So close and against the lightly armoured sentinels the launchers were murder.

As the lead sentinel loped into the clearing of fan palms Sir Haerin had designated as his killzone the pilot stopped. He turned the hull of his vehicle in a slow arc, scanning the scrub ahead, because there was something he didn’t like. After a long moment the sentinel took a step to proceed.

Sir Haerin clenched his hand and the coilgun roared like thunder. Before the sentinel fell the coilgun roared again. Roche was in movement around him as he sprinted out form the grove. There was the flash of an exploding sentinel nearby. The meltagun spewed a charge of gas and plasma exploding another before the ad-hoc camo-cloak fell away from Roche.

The top mounted targeter started tagging surviving mechs. A rocket slammed into a cedar next to Roche’s head and shattered it. Showering the carapace with splinters.

Another rocket arced out and Sir Haerin swore. Roche was good for hunting and killing other machines. He spotted a team moving through cover, caught a glimpse of a rocket launcher.

The Melta-gun wasn’t ready to fire again so he couldn’t vape them. The coilgun roared. One infantryman and the cedar he was hiding behind were shattered by a heavy fin stabilised dart. The rest of the fireteam were flayed by the shrapnel from the instantly splintered tree.

Roche growled in satisfaction.

Sir Haerin was taken by surprise. It was like someone had just dropped a bomb in the clearing, and there was blood everywhere. He took aim at another tree in the midst of another enemy section and fired. The enemy stopped advancing. Sir Haerin fired a volley of smoke grenades at the ground in front of himself.

Roche let out a low call, the men at arms jetted out from their positions and fell back. Sir Haerin turned from the scene and loped into the forest.

Mortar bombs started landing sporadically and his men kept low. He slowed his pace.

Through Roche’s ears he heard something of a greeting. A low grumble from just over the rise. He lead his adversary forwards, breaking contact but minding Roche to leave an obvious trail enough.

Sir Haerin gave a command to his men at arms and they moved off towards the rear. His sworn soldiers had fought well that morning and their mobility would be needed to cover the rest of the party’s retreat.

He reached his position. Beside his Roche stood the armiger fighting harness Lupus, which was painted dark blue with a field of golden ermines of the Saeral de Kanin’s over it was a black slash to denote Sir Alison’s birth status. The machine held itself a little straighter, where Roche was straining at the neural harness it looked composed but ready.

Lupus was armed with a large war hammer a forty-millimetre auto cannon, with auxiliary twenty millimetre assault cannon. On top of its carapace Lupus also held a medium machinegun of Calathian manufacture. It was a formidable loadout.

The enemy force had re-organised itself. There came a scattering of mortar bombs landing nearby but the shrapnel they threw off glanced harmlessly off metal plate and armour-plas. Sir Haerin saw movement on the other side of the gully and set Roche into movement.

Lupus and the men at arms put down a heavy hail of gunfire. An enemy armiger crested the rise carrying gold and white heraldry. Sir Haerin he raised the coilgun and put a solid dart through the rival pilot.

He could feel Roche singing through the harness. Singing for war and death. The thing staggered and did not fall. It broke back into a run, the machine’s head swivelled and dead white eyes met Sir Haerin sending a chill down the Lion’s spine. The Armiger started to bring a thermal spear to bear in its left arm. Roche quickly drew up a bead on the moving machine and the coilgun roared again.

The thermal spear was ripped away from the enemy mech. Even then it charged him. Sir Haerin levelled the meltagun on his right arm and let loose. The enemy machine cut to the left and avoided the stream of exploding plasma.

Sir Haerin swore and turned Roche towards the enemy warmachine, he wasn’t going to let it get the jump on him. His eyes went to the steel dart which had impaled the enemy pilot, still the machine was functioning. The enemy machine was sprinting with chain axe raised, a infantry rocket exploded against a tree to his side. At the last possible moment Sir Haerin flexed his hips and jinxed to his adversary’s left and delivered an arcing blow with the colossal powered blade.
In that moment he knew his mistake immediately. The entire length of the blade was activated and under heavy load cutting through the entire core of the machine. It was something to be avoided.

The drain he felt was immediate as the blades’s power field overdrew. Sir Haerin felt Roche stalling and then he felt Roche disappear completely for a terrifying moment. Through his optics the world went dark for an instant.

And then the picture crept back, and he could see the energy field had carried Roche’s blade through the enemy walker’s body. And he felt Roche roaring back around him in triumph. And the enemy walker wasn’t moving, its body cut clean completely from carapace to leg.

Don’t think I can handle that again. Roche seemed to say. The neural harness around Sir Haerin was weak and cold. It made Sir Haerin sick to his stomach.

Roche was weak and hurt from the overdraw, drained of energy. But he didn’t have time to dwell on his mistake.

The enemy machine collapsed like the pile of scrap it had been reduced to. Sir Haerin turned to see a team setting up a heavy bolter Roche strained to raise the coilgun, and Sir Haerin fired off the melta towards them. The limb was shakey and weak and the shot imprecise, but the nature of the weapon helped there.

The bottom of the gully had been reduced to a smoking hellscape of shattered and fallen trees and bodies.

Up the gully Lupus, gold shinning brilliant in the sun held an enemy armiger pinned under both of its feet. Sir Alison was firing armour piercing rounds into its helpless body at point blank with the auto cannon while raining blows down on another enemy harness with Lupus’s power hammer. The machinegun fired indiscimiante bursts up the enemy held hillside.

The sight filled his chest with fire, and he could feel a tired Roche starting to pull again. Already he was starting to recover.

The footknight named Sir Orvis with a surcoat of green and gold was dismembering the pinned armiger with a powered pole-axe. Sir Orvis was using both the leverage and power field of the weapon to great effect.

The pointed tip of the hammer, a blade spike no smaller than an astartes pattern power sword glowed bright for a moment and was rammed deep inside the shattered carapace. When it came out the second mech buckled then fell and was set upon by a wrecking team of dismounted knights and men at arms.

Sir Haerin charged into an enemy fire team, Roche’s feet crushed a soldier and another received a fatal kick. Sir Haerin swung the blade, he didn’t bother engaging the power field, it carried through three bodies easily.

Sir Haerin caught sight of Sir Edmuerd hunched over like a man walking into a storm while firing fast bursts off with a carrousel fed grenade machinegun. The battle wore on and the enemy fire became slow and sporadic.

Small fires had caught on the splintered cedar and were providing an effective screen. They had a few men down to light injuries. The enemy was starting to engage the PDF defences around the de Kanin factory holding.

Sir Alison’s voice came over the com-link. “Almost out of ammunition.”

“Same here.” Sir Haerin replied. He switched the coms over to the force intercom. “Lupus lance, fall back to main line of resistance. Re-arm.” It was as good a time as any to fall back, there was little point in leaving his defence divided, or without heavy support. Therefore he wanted the whole force back, and although Roche was weakened he was still much faster than the foot soldiers. “Lion lance, Sir Alison, I want you with me in the rearguard.”

Sir Haerin had to smile as Lupus and Roche let out twin roars of triumph.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/03/14 09:45:05

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

You guessed it Sir Haerin's back.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa

Northern Ireland

Wow, it's like Battletech but the Mechs are alive! Great fun this one. Plenty of epic action.

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

I think in the canon Games Workshop is actually moving away from a palpable machine spirit ( well for knights it seem that they have amalgamations of reminiscent memories from former pilots which are remembered by the neural interface rather than an old fashion semi-sentient machine). Which is a shame.

Pragmatically a single pilot would be overworked and handicapped trying to operate a mech that is covered with weaponry and being an average/lightly augmented human he would be rather ineffective. I like to think this division of labor between man and machine would work better.

It would also make sense to pack such an expensive machine with a few advanced battle computers, or servitor brains or something.

Either way I think having a giant warmachine, something that is basically alive, is awesome. Parallels better with medieval knights and their mounts. Which also were often giant, excellently trained, armoured and easily capable of killing an armoured man and that's before you strap a foot long unicorn horn of steel to its head.
. Brutal murder to the pesantry.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/03/14 09:14:24

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

I hope you liked the touches I put with the power weapons. I wanted combat to be more tactical to better display skill at arms and therefore power weapons needed a hard limit (their power fields conking(or your battle mech burning itself out) out if under too much strain(leaving you with a normal weapon stuck inside a dead/injured foe and thus death on a crowded battle field)).

This will also effect weapon design (more like medieval weapons) and overall loadout(so that ranged and melee complement eachother). Also so that a big slashy blade(like Roche's) is not the bee's knees. Lupus has a point on its warhammer, it is small and the power field can be condensed around it. Punches through armour with minimum strain( this footprint also causes minimal trauma so accuracy to vitals is important(much like a conventional point).

Also why Sir Orvis has the poleaxe(also becasue it is awesome). You can run the blade with the same power to murder light armour, and use the point and hammer for heavier armour.

This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 2019/03/14 09:32:56

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

I present Sir Orvis of Srethe, in full powered harness, although in this image only just assembled (bluetack in places). He is a bit different now(he has a surcoat and is running) but loadout and hat is unchanged. Will post picture when he completed.
[Thumb - DSCF2436.JPG]

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/03/14 09:45:43

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in de
Regular Dakkanaut

Really great stories. And regarding your interpretations of machinespirits and power weapons: I find them really fitting and interesting this way.
Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

Been a while but decided to get back into it.

And where better to start than tanks!

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/10/01 12:31:23

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

Made in au
Hardened Veteran Guardsman

The Cauldron: Plains above the Gauel River Mouth
Lieutenant Yasmy Langthorn of the Thryn 422/321st Heavy armoured regiment ‘Cataphracti’ pulled herself out of the scrape some time before dawn. Growing up on Hab-station three-twelve honed your body clock to your shift and down here on this rock named Ardus was no different. She avoided knocking her head on the 580 ton behemoth of steel she’d been sleeping underneath, growing up on three-twelve had her used to living in confined spaces.

She climbed onto the hull of Scourge the Mk IIX Prometheus pattern Malcador heavy tank, no mean task to the uninitiated. The sky above was filled with stars and lazily drifting lights and flashes.

Somewhere ahead in the darkness was the pop pop popping of distant gunfire but it couldn’t shift her attenthion from the sky.

She knew there was battle raging up there. The fleet was still holding with the orbital defence platforms. She knew Thryn Void Marines would be engaged in bloody battle up there. The boys and girls from three-twelve and the other stations were the finest void marines in the sector. She watched the flashes for a few moments. Jacques, the first boy she’d shared a kiss with was up there now deployed with the 101st Space Corp defending the Kai platforms in high orbit.

So many from three-twelve up there. The lieutenant had a moment of regret, a moment of guilt not to be up there in a voidsuit.

But she was down here because she’d seen too many of her friends die from the touch of the void at three-twelve, and she wasn’t yet afraid of fighting so was that really cowardice? Her stomach felt queasy, it wouldn’t be so easily convinced. She climbed up to the tank’s turret.

The land stretching from the mountains to the ocean and to the city hives was verdant farmland. Her troop was lined up two hundred metre spacing underneath the cover of some broad-leafed trees.

Birds started calling the day into beginning. Or at least that’s how it seemed.

Gunner Tungst pulled himself up the hull and saluted. “You alright sir?”

She wanted to say she wasn’t. She wanted to point to the sky and scream to the ocean dwelling dolt that her kin were fighting and dying up there. She checked her watch. “Yes Corporal. Wake the crew up.”

He looked up at the sky for a few moments. Tungst looked like he was going to say something for a moment and then his eyes went to the distant mountains. To the Gauel Valley where the enemy army was coming from. Some time in the night the battered ‘Army of the Druze’ or so it had been called had fallen back past the Thryn 57th Breakthrough Tank Army.

She brushed her hair and re-platted it back into its tight bun while the men shaved, thumbed her tanker beret from under her epaulet and pulled it snugly onto her head.
A bike roared along the trail through the trees behind them, she knew what this meant. They’d been on high alert for three days.
She climbed onto Scourge’s engine deck as the rider pulled up in a swirl of dirt and gravel.

“Lieutenant Coronel wants all crews to command post for a grief.” A group brief, it was the Lieutenant Coronel’s style, said that if everyone knew what needed to be done, it gets done regardless of who dies. The Lieutenant had served twenty years in the 451st legion.

Langthorn’s troop was to assault a small farmstead to the north. Armoured cars had probed the area and skirmished with enemy sentinels in the night. And at day break a troop of medium tanks arrived to take up defensive positions and prefabricated defences had been deployed around the farmstead.

The strong point was to be assaulted.

Cataphracti’ was going into action, it’d be deploying at full strength. Enemy counter assault with armour was expected.

Lieutenant Langthorn felt her stomach tying itself in knots as she pulled the waterproof cover from her hatch’s heavy machinegun. She pulled the cocking lever back and it chambered a round.

The crew was at their stations, the engine was chugging happily behind her. Her tank Scourge was bombed up fully, she turned and checked the sixteen rounds for the hundred and fifty millimetre howitzer stored close to hand on the racks behind Tungst’s position. Six high explosive fragmentation, six high explosive anti-tank, two high explosive squash head and two white smoke.

Scourge, Silthere and Syracuse slipped from the starting line. Three hundred metres spacing, reverse arrow head formation. It felt good to hear the roar of the engines, to see the rest of the squadron half a kilo metre to either side. To know that beyond them was another squadron and another. C squadron rumbled toward the farmstead.

Langthorn looked through her binoculars a line of tall trees currently screened their force and nothing stirred. There were soldiers there, Ardus PDF. Determined soldiers, it was in their blood to defend. There was no planet in the Commonwealth more invaded than Ardus.

Scourge crashed through the trees and ahead on the side of the next hill was the farmstead. Syracuse made contact with the enemy first, las-cannon fire came from the hillside and a moment later Syracuse replied with her main gun. The Lieutenant identified a prefabricated pillbox, the enemy hadn’t even had time to cover it with camouflage netting and it stood out even at one and a half kilometers.

“Loader squash head.”

“Tungst, enemy pillbox, twelve o’clock.” She used the sighting wire to give a more precise reading.

The one-fifty made a dull thud but Scourge didn’t stop moving. A moment later the pillbox was engulfed in a blast.

She spotted another pillbox as the mortar bombs started landing nearby. She gave the same order and Silthere’s one-fifty roared.

Ducking beneath the cupola revealed the secondary loader was passing replacement shells up to Scourge’s turret ring.

For a moment she considered telling the troop to halt and shell the enemy position, but that would leave the PDF in the open under mortar fire. And operating from an open hatch she could see those poor souls crawling forwards in the mud, and could sympathize when she heard the shrapnel banging off Scourge's armour.

The mud started kicking up in front of Scourge. There was a loud clang behind her and she turned to see an unexploded heavy bolter round rolling around on the back of the casemate. Her stomach roiled and she ducked as the next round hit and exploded.

Langthorn viewed the enemy from her periscopes.

“Agate 01 this is Agate 03, transmission is shot. Will commence bombardment fire from here.” It was what she’d dreaded since being promoted, Silthere had a bad history; they’d never make a gearbox that would last in her.

It was a bad omen, she was a recovered hulk, and word around the squadron was her spirit was broken. That she had no fight in her anymore.

“Affirmed, Agate 03, engage targets.” “Recovery team is on the way.”

Langthorn requested a recovery team, it was awfully common with the Malcadors, the Prometheus might have a fully revolving turret and the MkIIX a revamped engine but it still had a weak transmission. And that was just the price of it’s intermediate size. The regiment still maintained a ratio of an Atlas recovery vehicle per squadron. Two of which were needed to tow a single behemoth.

Broken spirit or not Silthere would need a new transmission. Langthorn had to use every piece of self control to push herself from the safe confine of the Scourge’s interior. The periscopes were good, but the visibility they offered were not a substitute for commanding from an open hatch.

A hundred metres ahead of the farmstead there was a line of trees. A nut orchard more than likely, close by for easy collection, but the trees were too tall to allow for easy picking. Nothing stirred or fired from it and she didn’t like it.

The one-fifty roared again and another pillbox was engulfed in a blast. But it was too easy, and word of the enemy tanks in the area kept ringing through her head. She picked up the vox-link then put it down again, waited a few moments. She looked at the nut orchard again and the hill with the farmstead.

She put the vox-piece to her mouth to give Syracuse the order to take up a defensive position next to Silthere. She thought to give her driver the same order when the tree line became a of mess of las-cannon fire.

From the corner of her eye she saw Syracuse struck multiple times. She could smell burnt steel and Scourge started turning. The driver pulled her to a halt before they got themselves broadside to enemy fire.

“Track’s out.”

“All vehicles engage targets in the treeline.”

She voxed the command vehicle and requested reinforcements. She didn’t bother trying to quell the panic in her voice.

“Reinforcements are en-route, keep in there Agate 01.”

“Agate 01 this is Willow 04 have your vehicles fire red smoke into the treeline.”

Red smoke meant a fire mission. Willow 04, she knew from the breifing was a air-coordinator attached to the PDF force.

She gave the order and ordered all vehicles to deploy tactical smoke.

“Lieutenant we need to fix the track, we’re snagged here, and the wind will blow that smoke away in no time.” Tungst said. Snagged up was an oceankin term for being suited up without an oxy-cylinder.

She ordered the two sponson gunners to assist her. Langthorn considered leaving it to them, but the one thing they drilled into you in Thyrn officer training was a leader leads.

A PDF trooper nearby watched them from the safety of the shallow scrape he’d managed to dig. Mortar bombs were falling nearby but not as thick as they’d been. When she felt fear she looked at the sky, she told herself those little mortar bombs were nothing next to what her kin holding down the Kai platforms faced.

That she could not disgrace the voidkin.

There was a distant roar as they got the last pin through the replacement track. A mortar bomb landed close by and the gunner who’d been up on the hull tensioning the front wheel couldn’t go to ground and took a piece of shrapnel to the shoulder. Langthorn climbed aboard Scourge and helped lower him through the hull gunner’s hatch.

As they did so there came a thundering drone which seemed to fill the smoke and come from every angle at once.

There came the unmistakable whistle of bombs. A wailing torrent as a bomber emptied its load.

A roar shook the world as the bombs met the ground ahead of Scourge.

A cursory glance told her the PDF were not waiting for a better opportunity, they’d not waited for the explosions to end before they rose to their feet, and now she could hear whistle blasts and cheers.

Syracuse report.”

“We’re shot to gak sir. Hull gunner is down, driver and secondary loader is injured and something’s leaking oil everywhere.”

“Press forwards if you are able.”

As they cleared the smoke she could see two twin engine craft screaming in from the coast. Ahead the treeline was blackened and splintered. Three enemy tanks had been driven from their cover by the airstrike. Carnodon medium tanks armed with las-cannons. From the darkness and cover of the trees they were deadly tank killers. Now they were easy prey.

She ordered the the loader to load a HEAT round. A quick knockout.

“Gunner, enemy tank one kilometre,” she gave a bearing “fire when ready.”

The one fifty roared and the first tank exploded.

Syracuse fired and mud was thrown up next to one of the medium tanks.

Langthorn saw a missile arcing out toward the enemy tanks. She turned her head to see the six wheeled armoured car that had just fired the missile, Willow 04 she had to presume.

The second Carnodon exploded.

The two strike craft came in and turned the tree line and hillside to a mess of streaming rocket smoke and a carpet of explosions.

The last Carnodon survived this assault, deployed smoke and backed up.

The strike craft came around again and emptied off their rocket pods, this time they threw down chaff to avoid enemy missile fire and opened up with their cannons.

She could hear the shells form the regiment’s Griffons and Cockatrices whistling overhead.

“Agate 01 this is Mountain 04 good job lieutenant. We’re moving in to reinforce you.” Mountain 04 was staff sergeant Luia’s callsign. It meant an experience crew and a viciously spirited tank.

A glance behind her showed the hulking forms of three more Malcadors pushing forwards over the shell hole-pocked field. She allowed herself to let a deep breath out.

If the GS cult rock drill is a piece of standard imperial mining kit why does it have 3 handles?
Buy a pack of earth and fleshtone dry pastels. Scrape it with a knife, sprinkle dust to PVA glue on base.
Conflict on Ardus fiction 40k

Oldmate's Alternate Aeronautica- Cobbled together pilots and 1st gen British Jets

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