The Nabrean Marshlands
By Matt Chambers
“Waaagh!” Major Hawking, of the 111th Croman gate guard regiment, second platoon, swore.
“Sergeants! Drive them back; fire in ranks, heavy weapons, hit the big ones first!”
The greenskins swarmed from the noxious mist, charging headlong out of the boggy water into ordered las-fire and the autocannon teams punched heavy shells into the squad leader “Nobs”, the large calibre weapons punching through crude armour like fists through wet paper.
“Keep it up lads, don’t let them get close!”
Behind the ranked squads strode the three sentinels of recon squad A, their multilasers scything overhead and decimating the orkish rabble, leaderless now thanks to the efforts of the autocannon operators.
“they’re breaking, sir!” called sergeant Callas of third squad, and he was right, the over-muscled xenos were emerging less frequently now, and the major guessed his men had killed well in excess of fifty Orks.
“Sentinels, scout around, make sure they don’t come back!” He voxed, “status report: how many did we lose?”
“Two dead, sir, we also took three casualties, two are serious, and a few lads picked up bruises and shrapnel wounds from the grenade barrage,” Replied Callas, after conferring quickly with the other two squad leaders in the platoon.
“Ok, Callas, We’d better get the wounded back to base camp, and make sure the others see the platoon medic ASAP.”
Out in the marshes, major Hawking knew that any small wound could become infected, and shrapnel from orks was never clean in the first place. Which reminded him....
“Caen, tell me, have you ever seen orks use grenades like this?”
“No, sir,” replied the experienced sniper accompanying the major’s command squad. “Usually they just hit people with ‘em, or forget to pull the pins.”
“Aye, or to let go... But using them properly, that means ... something, new leaders or maybe clever orks...” Hawking paused.
“Clever orks sir?” Caen stopped at his CO’s glare and held his hands up. “No, I think you may be right sir, the frag warfare thing they did doesn’t seem right, definitely not for orks. From rebels or any other Xenos I’d not be surprised, but for orks this is way too advanced.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Major Hawking turned away and shouted for a vox operator.
Immediately from the fog came comms Trooper Debar, the heavy voxcaster causing him to have to wade through the fetid pools of water instead of jumping across like the more nimble men, and the Major found himself admiring the man’s dogged determination.
“I need you to vox a sitrep back to HQ, with special regards to the grenade tactics the orks used, they should probably spread the word to the other platoons as well, let them know what’s out here.”
“On it, sir!” Debar responded, slinging the vox onto a dry patch of ground and tuning it to Command frequency. Hawking left Debar to it, turning away in time to see the sentinel troop returning, like ungainly birds appearing ghost-like
out of the mist. As the walkers came closer, he registered fresh chips and paint damage on all three of the hulls, and the multilaser barrels were still hissing as the slight drizzle of bitter rain fell and instantly boiled on the hot metal.
“Trouble?” he called to Ferguson, the scout sentinel leader.
“Nothing we couldn’t handle sir, they were regrouping a few hundred meters out, so me and the boys buzzed ‘em, then young Webb there, he popped the leader and they ran like a heretic with an Inquisitor on their backside.”
“Eloquently put, Ferguson, good work.”
“Aye sir” The maverick pilot saluted lazily and led his troop out on a second sweep.
“Sir!” the Major turned to see Debar waving to get his attention, and he hurried over, getting his boots full of filthy water in return for his haste. “What is it, Trooper?
“Sir, The Captain thanks you for the report and the warning, and he says he’s sending Vet. Squad 2 to assist. ETA three minutes.”
“I assume they’re not coming on foot then? We’re a good twenty minutes march from HQ.”
“No, sir, they’re coming in via chimera.”
The Major nodded, the chimeras were well suited to this terrain, as efficient and fast in water as out of it. “Tell them the support is much appreciated. Did we get fresh orders?”
“Yes sir, orders are as follows: Continue to map out marshes, objective is find the ork encampment where our little friends here,” he pointed at the floating corpse of a greenskin, “where they came from.”
Hawking spat towards the corpse in irritation.
“Great. More marsh stomping. Right, call Ferguson and his boys in, and get the men ready to move.”
“Sir, what about our wounded?”
The Major paused. The obvious answer was to send them back to HQ via the inbound chimera, but he wasn’t happy about giving up a valuable APC which might be needed here in their advance into the marsh. Of course, there was always the second option... “Debar, get me medicae Foster.”
He paused again.
“And tell Commissar Skaelt he might be needed.”