Media III, Sculptor System, 3 803 736.M41
The time had come, thought Gunnar Stormbrow, as he adjusted the scope of his sniper rifle.
To his left, two other Wolf Scouts rested on their stomachs, sniper rifles at the ready. His brothers had arrived during the night, and the three of them were positioned on a wooded ridge overlooking the central plaza of the enemy compound.
His adjustment complete, Stormbrow put his eye to his rifle scope, and the image of a Tau fire warrior jumped into view.
Settling himself comfortably, the grizzled Wolf Scout kept his eye to the scope and waited. A coded vox signal already had warned him that the fighting was about to begin.
Not two minutes later, the sound of thunder erupted overhead. Stormbrow didn’t look up, but as he tracked the fire warrior in the distance, he saw the xeno raise his eyes skyward. No doubt it was curious about the rumble in the sky—and was perhaps now seeing the fiery trail of an object dropping into the atmosphere at supersonic speed.
The drop pod rocked savagely as it descended through the planet’s atmosphere, and Brother-Sergeant Torin Valdar watched the fiery plasma rush past the small viewports that circled the interior of the cabin.
Around him, the members of his tactical squad muttered rites of battle. Vaer Grimblood, his second in command, looked up and met his sergeant’s eye. Valdar could not hear him above the roar of the passing atmosphere, but as Grimblood mouthed the words, their meaning was clear: There is only the Emperor, and he is our shield and protector.
Wise words from the Second Book of Chantings.
Valdar nodded at his old friend and clenched his gauntletted fists. Battle was upon then. Soon they would make the xenos and human traitors pay for their wretched existence.
Even 400 meters away, the ground shuddered violently when the drop pod slammed into the ground, and Stormbrow waited impatiently for the vibrations in his rifle scope to settle. As the image of the Tau warrior finally focused clearly, the wolf scout centered his target on the xeno, whose distinctive white shoulder plate identified him as an officer. The wolf scout pulled the trigger.
The xeno’s head exploded.
Stormbrow ignored the common soldiers and continued to target those who appeared to be giving orders. He knew the officers’ deaths would cause consternation among the ranks. The common soldiers would stand stunned for a moment at the unexpected attack, then they would waste precious seconds desperately searching for the enemy around them.
They wouldn’t find him. He was well hidden in the jungle foliage, and even if he’d been standing in the open, his silhouette at this distance would be no more than a half a centimeter tall.
A calmer, more analytical mind might deduce his location based on the trajectory of his shot and the few likely locations for a sniper to hide. But Stormbrow doubted any of the rabble below was capable of such deduction. Already, half a dozen xeno officers—and just as many human ones—were lying dead. And the drop pod already had disembarked its deadly cargo.
Indeed, Brother-Sergeant Valdar was running straight toward the largest contingent of soldiers—those defending the white tower—and his chainsword’s roar filled the air as he activated the weapon and raised it high above his head. Even above the din of gunfire, he could hear the commander screaming the Litany of Hate as he ran.
The enemy had bigger worries than a grizzled old Wolf Scout.
The violence of the drop pod’s landing would have killed or severely injured any normal man, but the genetically enhanced Space Wolves merely grunted at the impact—and slammed the release mechanisms of their restraints even before the pod’s hatches opened onto the battlefield.
As the hatches slammed to the ground, the storm bolter above the Space Marines’ heads roared to life, spraying the surrounding ground with heavy fire. Half a dozen PDF soldiers were torn apart by heavy slugs of steel and titanium.
The first out of the drop pod was Valdar, who blinked at a translucent switch on his visor display and shut down the storm bolter. A moment later, he was racing toward the great white xeno tower that was his objective. Four brothers followed their brother-sergeant.
Behind him, Brother Grimblood led his team of Astartes in the opposite direction, toward a collection of low-lying plascrete bunkers that were believed to be housing units for the xeno and human technicians that serviced the compound.
Four Space Wolves followed him, boltguns at the ready.
A high-frequency alarm blared from loudspeakers on half a dozen buildings, and in the early morning light, Grimblood could see traitorous PDF soldiers hurrying to surround the bunkers.
“Helgir, Bjron! Take position to the left and lay down suppressing fire,” the Space Wolf yelled. “Mykor, Euf! With me!
A moment later, a missile shot past Grimblood to land amidst the concentration of PDF below. The explosion sent men flying in all directions—in some cases, parts of their bodies soared high into the sky.
Grimblood, however, along with the two Marines alongside him, paid little heed to the carnage. They ran directly toward the PDF. As they closed the distance, they fired their boltguns, their accuracy undiminished by their charge forward. Grimblood let out an animalistic howl—the unnerving sound of a predator in pursuit of prey.
“Target the xenos!” ordered Valdar. “They are the greater danger!”
With almost no conscious thought, the brother-sergeant put a boltgun round into the head of a Tau nearly 50 meters away. Around him, his men were firing as they ran, each one of their shots unerringly striking a xeno.
No, it was the xenos’ pulse rifles that were the threat, and Valdar took satisfaction as he targeted a shot that went through the head of one xeno, exited the back of its skull in gore, and struck another xeno.
A bluish-white flash to his left warned Valdar that at least one pulse rifle had fired. He’d heard no sound from the xeno weapon, but a glance to his left showed Brother Arjac stumbling, a hand rising to his midriff. On his visor, a diagnostic alarm indicated damage to his brother’s liver and extensive bleeding, although the warrior’s Larraman’s Organ already was stemming the blood loss.
No matter. The fire warrior was dead a second after he fired, and in a blink of an eye, the Space Wolves had crossed the remaining distance to the enemy firing line. Valdar leaped skyward and landed amidst the terrified enemy. As he swept his chainsword in an arc, the screams of dying men echoed across the compound.
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