“The Knights of Altair have defeated a Death Guard force marching on the industrial city of Diaspar on the war-torn world of Dozaria.”—Imperial Voxcast, 6 714 741.M41.
* * *
“The Emperor’s Dogs are waiting for us.”
For many, it was difficult to understand Necrocius when he spoke. Every world he uttered sounded as if it had escaped his diseased throat by gurgling through a pool of putrid phlegm.
But Ghaz Tek had fought alongside the Death Guard sorcerer for millennia and understood him perfectly. Besides, the ranks of loyalist Astartes deployed on the far side of the town was hard to overlook.
“They save us the trouble of hunting them down,” said the champion of Nurgle. “If it is a fight they want, then it is a fight they shall have.”
“Their armored forces are greater than ours,” Necrocius pointed out.
“We have the favor of the Plague God,” Ghaz Tek responded testily. “You retreated after I was struck down in the Pattoa Flatlands. Would you have me retreat before these loyalist lackeys?”
Necrocius wisely did not answer.
* * *
Brother-Sergeant Miric Salias attempted to focus his Predator’s auspex on the approaching enemy tank.
“Target is 1,200 meters to the north, approximately 15 degrees, lateral right,” he said sharply, then counted the seconds until the tank’s gunner began to rotate and align the turret’s lascannon with the target.
The hairs on the brother-sergeant’s neck began to rise. The capacitors of the tank’s lascannon 2was charging, and the growing electrical charge was making itself felt throughout the vehicle.
The Death Guard vehicle fired first. A beam of plasma instantaneously crossed the space between the two opponents in a millisecond.
It took another millisecond for Brother Salias to realize he was still alive. He grinned. The enemy had rushed his shot. He would not.
“Target aligned,” the gunner reported. “Target aligned; fire,” Salias confirmed.
His weapons board signaled that his weaponry was fully charged. He rechecked his aim . . . and fired.
HIs shot found its mark, and the Death Guard vehicle exploded in flame.
* * *
“Push the scum forward,” Ghaz Tek roared.
The tactical displays in his helm told the Chaos champion that the Knights of Altair were maneuvering more adroitly than his own forces. The cultists to his right were advancing reluctantly. Clearly, they were less motivated by their worship of Nurgle than by the whips used by their Death Guard masters.
He continued to walk up the central street of the village that dominated the fighting. Ahead, a squad of traitor Astartes also were striding up the street, seeking to seize some of the tallest buildings as fortified firing positions.
To his left, he heard the shriek of an aircraft and, turning, he caught sight of a pair of Stormtalon gunships that began strafing his forces.
“We must move faster,” Ghaz Tek ordered. “If we allow the loyalists to seize the town center, we will be at a disadvantage.”
Ahead, an ancient vehicle, a relic of the time of the Horus’ uprising, turned into the street and aimed its twin-linked autocannon in his direction.
Ghaz Tek recognized it. A Sicaran Battle Tank. Its kind had led his Legion into many battles during the Great Grusade. The disease-ridden traitor Astartes admired the vehicle’s elegant design even as he cursed the loyalist tank’s lethal presence.
The autocannons fired—and Ghaz Tek’s personal Rhino—encrusted with canker sores of some transmutative pox of Nurgle—shuddered to a halt. A shell had penetrated the transport’s front armor, cut its driver in half, and exited out the vehicle’s rear hatch.
Black smoke billowed from the wreck.
* * *
Two traitor Rhinos raced along the western edge of the town, showing no fear at the enemy Predator in front of them. The enemy transports were weaving as they moved, making it difficult for Brother-Sergeant Salias to accurately target them.
Following behind the Rhinos were more vehicles that drew a growl from the Astartes. They were foul heretical constructs—a howitzer-armed tank known as a Plagueburst Crawler and an even fouler vehicle derisively called a Blight Hauler.
The Blight Hauler offended Salias the most. Even at a distance, Salias could make out grotesque daemon flesh quivering between gaps of rusting armor plating that confined the Warp beast within.
High up on the daemon vehicle’s hunchbacked hull, a missile launcher fired, and a line of smoke appeared, quickly arcing across the battlefield to land amidst a tactical squad advancing to Salias’ left.
The traitors weren’t going to make things easy, Salias knew. As he struggled to target his weapons at the deamon weapon, he saw the two Rhinos shudder to a halt near a two-story building. Two squads of traitor Marines disembarked and took safety within the building..
Focusing on the greater threat, Salias took a moment to lock his auspex on one of the heretical vehicles. “Target aligned. Firing.”
Once again, a beam of plasma raced across the battlefield. It struck the Blight Hauler, and Salias saw a portion of the beast’s armor vaporize.
Yet the abomination kept moving forward. A direct hit, yet the enemy was still in the fight.
“Throne,” muttered the brother-sergeant under his breath.
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Categories: Dozaria Campaign