Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gazak's Ruse

Captain Josias nervously thumbed the camera control stick as the grim scene unfolded on the vidscreen. He had already dismissed his orderlies; they didn’t need to see this. With rank came responsibility. Josias wasn’t himself eager to watch the inevitable massacre, but he had to follow SOP and collect as much information as possible about the invading forces. They had repulsed three such raids in the last month and Josias was confident that with good intel, they could withstand many more. The camera’s point of view looked out past their eastern perimeter, towards the dust-shrouded Ghogan desert. It didn’t hurt matters that they always came from the Ghogan, he thought with a smirk. It was the only place left on the planet where landers could descend without being detected – the old radiation storms still blew through the Ghogan and on any given day they created a blind spot 500 kilometers wide and twice as long. Good cover for an assault, but anything that made it to the outpost gates had been whittled down by the elements, not to mention their forward guns. And yet here they were again.

He panned the view downward, twisting the top of the stick to zoom. A Rhino-frame transport vehicle and several armored warriors on bikes had smashed through the outer gate just minutes earlier. Once inside, the Rhino had disgorged a full squad of traitor marines, and now they were running rampant inside the outer perimeter, taking his men apart for their own sadistic pleasure. As he watched, some of them could be clearly seen removing and collecting the heads of their victims. Only followers of Khorne were bloodthirsty enough to brave the Ghogan radstorms. While they were extremely dangerous up close, they were too small in number and could be quickly surrounded. A judicious application of fire supremacy and it would be over. It had been the same story three times already. With his eyes still glued to the horrific images on the monitor, his other hand calmly reached for the nearby commlink.

“Sergeant Gregory, Sergeant Tooms, prepare to counterattack on my signal.” The speakerbox crackled with static for a moment before he heard the two answer in affirmatives. “Captain Yueh, keep your armor on standby until my order.” He waited, and after thirty seconds with no response he repeated his message. Then, after thirty more seconds, “Yueh, pull your head out of your ass and come back already. What the hell is going on down there?”

Suddenly, the shielded port windows to his left side shattered inward, and a shockwave threw him out of his chair. Josias opened his eyes groggily and found himself on the floor. He blinked his eyes and shook his head to clear that familiar cotton-stuffing feeling he knew signaled a concussion. All sound had been reduced to a thin whine. Taking a deep breath, he willed himself to his feet. Looking in the direction from whence the explosion had come, he saw that the large armored company complex was bulging on all sides, with flame and smoke billowing from the bay doors, themselves blown open. Suddenly, his hearing was restored.

“Captain!” Someone was calling him on the comlink. Yueh? What was happening? He felt like he was moving through molasses. Some of it was dripping down his face, he noticed absently.

“Captain – saboteurs in the hangar and foundry – all units destroyed. I don’t know where my crews are, I don’t…”

The comlink connection was dropped and the speaker went silent. Josias could hear the pop and boom of boltgun fire from somewhere below his command tower. He limped over to the shattered window frame and peered down through the cracks of the viewshield. Space marines in black armor were crouching near the base of the tower, affixing something to the side. Stylized yellow eyes on their hulking shoulder pads stared back up at him. Black Legion! Where could they have come from? This sector wasn’t even a…

He watched, confused, as the infiltrators finished with their task and scattered backwards, away from the tower. “Oh hell,” Josias had time to mutter, before the meltacharge exploded and brought the command spindle down in a shower of fire and plascrete. It was going to be a long day for the Imperial forces stationed at Jaswin. A very long day.

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