“Do not shirk! Do not falter! Give them death in the name of the God-Emperor!”
Spittle flew from the mouth of Confessor Guidonis Bernard as he screamed encouragement to his troops.
They needed his fiery rhetoric. The 3rd Conscript Company had lost two-thirds of its men over the course of the horrific, three-month campaign to defend the Pottoa Flatlands, and those still alive were malnourished, weakened by disease, and losing hope after months of defeat.
To his left, Bernard could see a line of traitor Rhino transports racing forward, creating a wall of Plasteel and Ceramite that protected the infantry that advanced behind it. Already, the Imperial guns around him were turning their attention to this threat, and all sight of the transports was lost in a cloud of upturned dirt, billowing smoke, and fiery explosions.
“Forward men!” Bernard shouted, his strong voice rising even above the roar of the guns. “We must turn the enemy flank! Fear not! I am with you. The God-Emperor is with you!
Around him, his weary and frightened men roared in defiance against the advancing traitors and heretics and, as one, began running forward.
* * *
With growing dread, Ghaz Tak was beginning to realize that he’d miscalculated.
The Imperials were supported by more heavy guns that in past battles, and deploying his men in a compact attack column was optimizing the effectiveness of those guns.
Standing inside his command Rhino, he knew he still could win the day. If his line of transports could close with the Imperial line, scores of Imperial soldiers would be crushed under the metal treads of his Rhinos. Panic would take hold, and his Astartes brothers could disembark and close into melee.
That would win the battle.
It was not to be. Over a period of seconds, it felt as if the world was ending. Artillery and tank shells rained down upon his Rhinos. An explosion in the front of his own transport tore open a meter-wide hole in the front hull, vaporizing the driver and filling the interior with shrapnel and fire.
A moment later, the Chaos warlord stumbled out of the back hatch of the burning Rhino and looked around. Most of his Rhinos were disabled or destroyed. Nearby, the sorcerer Necrosius and his elite Plague Marines abandoned their ruined transport.
All was chaos . . . and Ghaz Tek wondered if the gods were laughing.
* * *
The battle was definitely turning in our favor, Colonel Manikas thought to himself, before doubling over and vomiting over his boots. For a moment, the colonel thought he might faint.
A Valkyrie gunship roared overhead, firing missiles that tore massive holes in the horde of cultists that still advanced. Even from 300 meters away, the mechanical roar of a Helbrute cut through the thunderous fire of the Imperial guns.
Forcing himself to stand upright, a gasping Manikas looked through his monocular and saw that the Helbrute was lying on the ground, its legs sheared away by some high-caliber shell.
I hope you suffer, you bastard, the colonel thought.
A moment later, the 37th Heavy Mortar Battery fired all its guns together in a coordinated volley, a bombardment that landed square in the middle of the traitors’ force. Hundreds of cultists disappeared amidst smoke and fire.
For the first time in three months of bitter fighting, Manikas saw the traitor advance falter, as if shocked and uncertain about whether to continue. Although wracked by more sharp pains in his belly, the colonel managed a grim smile.
* * *
“Charge! Charge, damn you!” Ghaz Tak was enraged that his troops were hesitating. He drew his boltgun and blasted the head off the nearest cultist. He screamed at the others. “Follow me!”
The warlord began to stomp toward the nearby Imperial line, ignoring the lasgun fire that peppered his power armor. Every step broadcast his fierce determination to close with the enemy and slaughter them, and it took only a second for his Terminator bodyguard and the Plague Marines to accept the challenge.
The Obliterators, Bloat-Drones, and Blight-Haulers took a few more seconds to follow, and the cultists, half-maddened anyway, began chanting again and moving as well.
Against such a torrent of enemy fire, several traitor Marines fell, including a Terminator struck in the chest by a lascannon shot. But once within 50 meters of the Imperial line, the Marines began to run and, in seconds, they slammed into the terrified but equally resolute 1st Company of the 4th Battalion.
What followed became a legend that spread across the Corvus Cluster. The traitor Astartes, wearing near-impenetrable power armor and with genetically enhanced strength, slaughtered the first line of PDF troops with ease. Yet, rather than flee, the men of the 1st Company stood their ground, defying the traitors in a meat grinder of hand-to-hand combat.
The Coruvs Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Dozaria Campaign