“Scholars focus so much attention on the massive battles that rage across the galaxy. Yet, we forget that, for the average soldier, even the smallest, briefest of firefights are filled with terror, pain, and the possibility of oblivion.“—Oro Kaley, Senior HIstoritor, Schola Progenium, Belliose III.
Hegira Desert, 43 kilometers northeast of Susa City, 3 592 741.M41—Sergeant Vasa Wero crawled through the desert sand, quietly advancing toward a decrepit vapor collector that clearly had been abandoned decades ago.
The three surviving members of his patrol were climbing an old perimeter wall about 40 meters to his right. The rest of his squad was dead, killed some hours ago when they’d stumbled upon a mob of orks in the desert.
Damnable luck, Wero thought to himself.
For the past two years, Wero had been deployed in a relative safe area, well inside the fortified siege lines that ringed Susa City. The Hegira capital was a bristling fortress that had withstood every attack the greenskins had mounted against it.
But now Nero’s neck was on the line. Two days ago, a courier shuttle had crashed outside the siege lines, and surveillance satellites had determined that there orks were camped around the wreckage.
Top command had decided the orks would drag the largely intact aircraft to one of their Mek camps, and they didn’t want the shuttle converted into yet another green skin fighter bomber —and rather than just bomb the shuttle into oblivion, they’d decided to send a patrol to destroy the wreckage and check for survivors.
As if the orks would take prisoners, Wero thought glumly. Now he was a day’s march from safety, behind enemy lines, and there were a dozen greenskins between him and his objective.
What an outstanding day to be in the Imperial Guard.
Wero reached the vapor condenser and quietly worked his way through its corroded pipes. Once he was in position, he had a fine view of the upcoming battle.
The shuttle was less than 50 meters ahead. The nose of the aircraft was buried in the sand, and a wing was half-torn away, with one engine a mangled mess and blackened from fire. Still, it was largely intact,
Nearby, five human corpses were sprawled in the sand. One was missing a head. Another was nearly cut in half, the corpse’s intestines stretched out in a gruesome mess.
Too many greenskins, Wero noted. There were at least a dozen around. Some were arguing as they watched a Mek Boy and some grots fiddling under the hood of a ramshackle Trukk. Others were sleeping in the shade, and a handful were wandering around, as if on guard duty.
One was sitting under the shuttle’s wing, picking his nose with a massive finger that somehow managed to wedge itself up one nostril.
Wero tapped the micro communicator on his chin guard. “Tilo,” he whispered, “you ready with that plasma gun?”
Tilo was not one to waste worlds. “Ready.”
“Then open up.”
A moment later, the sound of a buzzsaw echoed across the desert. As Tito’s plasma gun fired, its super-hot beam seared the air as it raced across to the shuttle and slammed into a part of the hull where its promethium tank should be.
There was no explosion—just gray smoke that billowed from a large, blackened hole in the hull.
But the shot had caught the attention of the xenos. With astonishing speed, the seemingly languid greenskins were on their feet, weapons ready, and bellowing war cries that Wero knew were a challenge to their unseen opponents.
Near the Trukk, one ork was holding a big shoota and, without concerning himself with a visible target, the xeno opened up in the general direction of Tilo. Some of the shots slammed into the metal perimeter wall, dimpling the thick plasteel and creating a dazzling display of sparks as the shoota’s shells bounced off the heavily armored wall.
There was a reason Wero wasn’t alongside the rest of his men. While they had a fine shot at the shuttle, he had a clear line of sight to most of the orks. He took aim at the greenskin firing away and drilled it in the eye with a lasgun round.
The other greenskins didn’t even notice, as most were now moving quickly in the direction of Tilo. The private’s companions opened fire on the advancing xenos, but their shots did little to discourage the two-meter-tall orks.
How about a little distraction? Wero pulled a frag grenade from his belt and tossed it toward the Trukk. The orks couldn’t be allowed to organize, or Tilo wouldn’t have the time necessary to take out the shuttle.
The grenade fell short, but its explosion managed to send the grots and Mekboy scrambling for cover. The other orks just bellowed, stopped their advance, and turned their fire on him.
“We don’t have a lot of time, Tilo” the sergeant said into his mouthpiece.
As if in response, the plasma gun roared again. This time, there was a satisfactory result. The shuttle’s fuel tank ignited, and the resultant explosion sent out a shock wave that stunned Wero and his men.
When the world stopped spinning, Wero raised his head and looked about worriedly. But he needn’t have bothered. The entire crash site was a circle of blackened sand, its perimeter stopping not 10 meters from him. Everything inside that perimeter was vaporized or fused into black glass.
The shuttle was a burning pile of debris—now useless to the orks.
That’s that, the sergeant thought, once again triggering his communicator. “Tilo? Report.”
There was a pause, but Tilo finally responded. He sounded groggy, but he confirmed that he and his companions were still alive.
“Then mission accomplished,” Wero said. “This explosion is going to draw attention, so let’s get the hell out of here.”
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Hegira Campaign