Haldur and his men had searched half a dozen buildings without any sign of the heretics, and he didn’t like it. Although there was little cover on this street, his men were hugging the walls, as he moved deeper into the town. He scanned the windows of the buildings that towered around him, following the protocols of urban warfare.
The ambush came when he was halfway down the street. From an upstairs balcony, several heads appeared, and a half dozen grenades arced down into the street.
“Grenades!” the sergeant yelled, running forward and diving to the ground. The blast of the explosions that followed slammed into his power armor, the shock wave actually lifting him slightly off the ground.
The sensors in his helmet showed none of the red alerts that would indicate damage to his armor, so the attack had done him no harm. Rolling onto his back, he fired several rounds of his bolt pistol at the balcony, hoping to suppress the enemy and slow a second attack.
“Someone toss a grenade up there!” he ordered.
Brother Signe obliged. The grenade rose upwards and exploded just as it cleared the stone wall of the balcony, leaving the heretics with no cover from the shrapnel that showered outward in all directions. There were no screams—just the splatter of vast quantities of blood against the balcony’s white-washed walls.
“All right, then,” Haldur said. “Let’s take out that communications dish.”
Pry-No waited on the third-floor landing of his building, sweating heavily as he listened to the heavy footsteps of the Space Marine scouts climbing the stairwell below. Two of his fellow tribesmen waited at his side.
The Imperial lackies were close now. Pry-No dared not look down the stairs. The marines would react far faster then he could, and there could be no mistake if he was to survive the day.
By ear alone, Pry-No judged the movements of the scouts. When he was certain they’d reached the landing below, when they were surrounded on three sides by the walls of the staircase, he nodded to his fellow gunsmen. As one, they lowered their auto-guns over the side of the landing and opened fire.
The roar of their weapons was magnified by the confines of the staircase, so much so that the dozens of rounds fired blended into one non-stop rumble of thunder. But even as he fired, the heretic realized with horror that the Space Marines were not falling as his men’s fire struck home. To many shots were absorbed by the scouts’ armor, and many more missed as the Astartes ducked and dodged.
Pry-No had only a second to realize that the marines were shooting back. The first shoot took out the tribesman closed to him; the second hit the second.
Then something slammed into Pry-No’s chest with the force of a thunder hammer. The pain was brief. Everything went dark.
There was no way that Sigvald was going to give the heretics an opportunity to use that demolition charge. He threw the Rhino in reverse and began to back up. Still, he was vulnerable right now.
“Rhino Two, get in gear. Slam into that building beside me. There are men in there with anti-tank weapons, and I need them distracted.”
“Confirmed. On our way.”
“Helgir, see if you can toss a frag into that window we passed. Keep the heretics busy.”
“My pleasure,” the gunner said.
A second later, there was a satisfying explosion . . . satisfying because it was accompanied by flame and shrapnel hitting the side of his transport. The sound reminded the Space Marine of rain falling on the roof of a hut.
Through the open hatch above, Sigvald heard the engine roar of Rhino Two, and the thunderous crash of masonry being rammed by a 30-ton armored vehicle.
A moment later, he heard the other Rhino’s heavy bolter firing a long burst.
“Rhino One, this is Rhino Two. Threat eliminated.”
Even from 30 meters away, the heretic known as Mel-Gar felt the impact of the Rhino as it slammed into the building down the street. The floor beneath him shook hard, and his companies looked nervously at one another.
“Relax,” he said. “The Wolves think they’re invincible. They’ll be moving down the street soon, and that’s when we’ll strike.”
Mel-Gar wasn’t taking any changes. He wasn’t looking out the window, as he’d heard of the heightened senses of the Astartes. Instead, he’d placed a small mirror on the window ledge, and he was looking at the reflection of the street below. It wasn’t easy to make out, but he could see enough to know when it would be time to rise up and open fire.
He held his plasma gun tightly. He might have his wits about him, but he wasn’t unaware that his hands were sweaty—and it wasn’t because of the heat.
It took several minutes before the Space Wolves were willing to edge down the street again. Through the mirror, Mel-Gar watched three Wolves on foot move toward him, a Rhino following closely. At every building, the marines broke down doors and disappeared inside, only to come out empty-handed.
In the distance, he heard a series of explosions.
Finally, the moment came. The marines were hugging the building walls as they moved forward. They stopped at the door of the building just across the street. “Get ready,” Mel-gar whispered.
When two marines took up a position on each side of the door, at the moment the third stepped up to kick the door in, Mel-gar rose. Aiming his plasma gun, he fired. At the next window, his companies hefted a heavy bolter onto the window ledge and opened fire.
The ambush worked perfectly. Mel-Gar’s shot hit one marine square in the back, the plasma round exploding in flame as it struck home and vaporized the marine’s armor and upper torso.
Meanwhile, the heavy bolter struck the other marines, one in the shoulder and the other in the head. All three marines fell.
“All praise to Nurgle,” Mel-Gar shouted. “Death to the Imperium.”
The men fled just before the Rhino’s heavy bolter opened fire.
The door burst open, and the guard watching over the prisoners opened up with his lasgun. But it did no good. His shot missed.
Diving low into the room, the Wolf scout rolled across the floor, raised his gun, and shot the heretic in the chest.
Two other marines entered the room, guns at ready. As the scanned the room, they saw the prisoners—a Navy flier who’d been shot down, an artillery officer who’d been captured during a heretic raid on the front lines, and two Administratum officials, all bound and looking as if they’d been roughly treated.
The first scout nodded, and the other Wolves began to cut the bindings off their legs—but not off their wrists. Nor did they remove the gags in their mouths.
“Hear me,” the scout said. “You will be escorted to an Imperial transport and returned to Imperial lines. There, you will be questioned by the appropriate authorities. I am not concerned with how you came to be here, or what your fate will be.”
“You will obey, however. Fail to follow our orders, and you will be shot.”
The scout raised his hand to his vox mike. “Haldur? We have the prisoners. We are evacuating them now.”
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.