He ran, Helica and Thumas just ahead of him, as the staccato bursts of a hundred guns turned the air about his company into a humming chorus of supersonic metal slugs. Ducking as a sinister hiss tore the air just below his right ear, he stumbled in his stride, looking down to right his footing and double-check that his webbing still remained free of any bullet holes. He glanced back towards Helica and Thumas, just climbing over the first scrap metal barricades at the top of the defilade, Thumas using the las-shot corpse of a freshly slain greenskin as leverage to vault atop the obstacle, Helica climbing over a pile of tires and haphazardly piled wooden slats. In the distance, the looming silhouette of the immobilized Ork Superheavy Landfortress sat, like some sort of great reptilian beast from prehistory forged of bolted sheet metal and roughshod mechanisms of pig iron.
He vaulted over the tires, following after Helica's route, the idea of touching one of the beasts sickened him greatly. As he overcame the barricade he lost his footing on the far side, tripping and rolling into a trench behind the defilade, he struggled to right himself in the dust, choking on hungry mouthfuls of dirt clogged air as he fought to regain control of himself and continue the charge. As he clambered to his feet he saw Thumas torn in two by fat orkish slugger fire, and collapse back into the trench trailed by an arc of bright crimson.
The halves of Thumas's body were quickly followed by the form of Helica, diving back into the trench before turning and pouring out a torrent of lasgun fire. She turned to him, wild-eyed with terror and adrenaline in equal measure. She shouted "ORKS!" though the words were entirely drowned out by the sounds of battle around them. But the warning was no use, the alien monsters were already on them, a half dozen brutish greenskinned savages, armed with an assortment of cleavers and pistols. Helica's skull was split open like a ripe fruit by the butchering cleaver of the first Ork into the trench, he brought his lasgun up, emptying the clip into the killers bellowing face. The rifle vibrated in his hand until it clicked empty and he dropped the gun, there was no time to reload, he looking down and pulled his combat knife, looking back up just in time to see the flash of an orkish pistol moments before the stubby round smashed directly into his....
Bisckell Eckrad opened his augmetic eye with a whirring click, and let out a pent up breath. He continued to look up at the massive painting of the Orkish warrior, done in the late Baroque stylings of Thyssian Caltomore, with its overly dramatic lighting and its emphasis on the beasts piercing red eyes, done to draw attention to the feral soullessness of one of mankind's oldest and most barbaric of enemies. His sensibilities as an officer told him that it was well executed, and a particularly good rendition with all the phlegm and drama any wealthy patron of the arts might look for in such a piece. But the old soldier in him shuddered inwardly and wished to light the priceless work aflame.
He was awakened from his introspection by the sharp tapping of boots against the lacquered oak of the Command Leviathans floor, turning he saw a middle-aged man with the pale complexion indicative of someone who spent much of their time aboard a starship, he was dressed in the starchy pressed uniform of General Mutenfur's Tactica Staff.
"Admiring the piece?" Began the man in an arched slightly amused voice, raising one black eyebrow slightly in a mirror to a faint smirk crawling up one of his angular cheeks.
"Oh. Yes, quite a stirring thing." Eckrad replied, not quite as confidently as he would have liked.
"Yes" the man crooned, coming to a halt and arching his head up at the Orks piercing gaze.
"The Lord General had it commissioned after Vilhoffen. The A. G. took a bit of a pounding but the lads pulled through just like always." With that statement, the smirk and its attendant eyebrow dropped., though the man maintained an air of self-assured arrogance.
"Indeed. The Greenskin is a particular menace, difficult to root out wherever they are found" Eckrad replied, finally finding his stride again.
"Oh yes. You Jornathii had a bit of a scrap with the greenies from what I remember?" the man said, still staring up at the painting. That sent an instinctual twinge of irritation through Eckrad, he would hardly classify a system-wide multi-generation conflict involving dozens of Astartes Chapters and Knight households as a "little scrap" but still, he was here to make a good impression and diplomacy was paramount in these instances.
" Yes a bit of one." He replied, hiding his annoyance behind a broad smile.
" I thought that was the case. Either, or, let's say we cut to the quick, shall we. I am Brigadier Iwa Fariq, a member of General Mutenfur's personal staff. The General is ready to discuss your unit's deployments with you." The man brought his gaze back down from the painting and back to Eckard, the eyebrow and smirk returning along with it.
"Very Good, I am ready to attend him directly," Eckrad replied, maintaining his smile all the while.
"Right this way," Fariq said, turning back the way he had entered and begun clicking off across the lacquered floor again, before stopping after a moment and turning back to face Eckrad, all smirks and raised eyebrows forgotten.
"By the By, let me be the first of the Senior Command Staff to welcome you and your troopers to Devos IV, Regent General" he said, in an altogether more sincere tone, and began walking towards the exit. Eckrad took one more look at the painting, with its burning red eyes, the echos of a planet's worth of fallen heroes swimming in his mind. And turned to follow Fariq from the chamber.
Thanks for reading! This post was a part of an ongoing narrative campaign, in the "living setting" of Jornath. For more information about Jornath as a setting, including units, missions, and posts from other Jornath bloggers be sure to click on the Jornath [40k] tab at the top of this page for an up to date list of all posts.
-Your Favorite Madman-