The blast of the mortar shell rained dirt and dust down onto Kensin as he sat against what remained of a manufactorums rock-crete wall. His lasgun sat across his lap as he spooned what was called beans out of a tin can with a bent spoon, which he would have bet was older than him. Another shell crashed nearby, raining more dust into his lunch. As he tried to cover his meal with a hand, his thoughts suddenly turned to how good pepper would have been in the beans. The spice would have really added that necessary kick to it to make it worth tasting. The sound of boot steps and loose rocks moving suddenly caught his attention. Swiftly drawing his ancient revolving pistol he aimed it at the sound only to see the shaggy, bearded face of Private Grenor and the boyish face of Private Yinsin Frand starring back at him.
“Welcome to the mess hall.” Kinsen said as he laid his pistol down and returned to his bland, unspiced beans.
“Kensin, that’s a good idea, I am starving. I also have something that might help.” Grenor said as he produced a small bottle, no bigger than a salt shaker and threw it to Kensin.
Kensin caught the bottle and turned it over to examine it. It was a bottle of what the men were calling “Idiocy Juice”. Either traded for or stolen from the 327th Folenfurd Tankers, it was an extremely savory and spicy sauce that they put on everything they ate. The men of the 17th and the 327th appeared to be the only ones to savor it, mainly because it was very close to a popular sauce from Adventus call Yorro Root Sauce, and so the two units had begun close relations since finding each other. Other Guardsmen accused the Tankers that it was something scrapped out of their machines, and while they haven’t said anything to the contrary, neither the Folenfurd or the Adventus cared much as it made the food they were rationed more palatable by a great deal. Kensin quickly undid the cap and sprinkled a good deal onto his beans before returning it Grenor who began to do the same.
“I need to stick with you for a while Grenor.” Kensin said, covering his bowl as a shell dropped close by.
“You need to do a lot of things, boy. Sticking with me is not one.” The older, grizzled man said with a wink.
Yinsin stood by a window looking out at the ruins of what remained of the outer-habs of Hive Tanarii. The siege had been pushing for nearly six months now and was getting bogged down at the main walls where the heretic forces had set up an impenetrable defense. It was believed that a small force of Iron Warrior Chaos Space Marines were behind the defenses here. The 17th was assigned the duty of rooting out any cells that may have been left behind after the enemy withdrew, and as such were spread all over the outer-habs. It was tedious and nerve wracking work as the men and women of the 17th didn’t know if the next hab complex they opened would be a full scale battle or just another refugee family they could send to the refugee camps.
“The LT said these habs were almost done, and then we could get a little rest.” Yinsin said, still starring out of the ruined window, squinting against the blast of a mortar.
“Yea, and we will all sprout wings and fly out of this hell hole. I haven’t seen that happen either though.” Grenor said sarcastically.
“Just somethin’ I heard.” Yinsin said with a shrug.
“Hold on. Do you hear that?” Kensin suddenly said, listening.
“No…I don’t…”Grenor said as he got what Kensin was saying, picking up his longlas and taking cover against a wall.
“The mortar fire is gone...", Yinsin said, suddenly becoming very aware.
“The mortar fire. It’s gone.” Grenor said, peeking out of a window.
Kensin holstered his pistol, picking up his lasgun and taking cover against a ruined doorway. Looking out on the wasteland, the bleak yellow sky cast a stark contrast of colors on the outer-habs. As he watched, he saw some movement of a few men moving up to their would-be mess hall. Kensin began setting the power to his lasgun as he checked the clip. He saw Grenor setting up his larger longlas, supported by the sill of the collapsed window.
“This is 4th Squad, 1st Platoon in Section Bravo Two Two Eight. Are there any other units around this immediate area?” Yinsin said into his vox-bead.
The three waited for a couple minutes as the shapes roamed closer, walking through the floating dust kicked up from the mortars.
“Hey Grenor, Kensin, I am getting a negative, there shouldn’t be anyone here.” Yinsin said.
“They are probably hostiles then, hold fire though until I tell you. I can almost make them out in my scope.” Grenor said.
The three men waited two more minutes before Grenor suddenly let out a sigh.
“What? Are they friendly?” Kensin asked anxiously.
“Yea, they are a unit of the Tankers.” Grenor said as he stood up and hopped out of the window.
Kensin sighed and took his finger off the trigger, standing up and coming out of the doorway, followed by Yinsin who held his lasgun at a semi-ready position, ready to snap it up. The three headed down to the Tankers who immediately raised their lasguns but dropped them as soon as they recognized the uniforms. One of the men stepped forward, a grin on his scraggly face. He had an ornate laspistol on his belt that was half way drawn, to help quickly pull it.
“What are you Tankers doing here, this is a sweep zone, there shouldn’t be any others. We almost shot you and your men down.” Grenor said somewhat annoyed.
“I am sorry. Our Chimera transport broke down and we have gotten a little lost. We were transferring refugees out of the city.” The man said in the thick Folenfurd accent.
“Alright, well let’s get you to the-“ Grenor was suddenly cut off as the officers head was blown from his shoulders with a misty spray of red.
The air was suddenly filled with the bullets of autoguns used by the enemy. Kensin, Grenor, and Yinsin dropped immediately to the rubble strewn ground. Many of the Folenfurd weren’t as quick and met much the same fate as their commander. The three men began crawling along the ground, getting so close to it; they seemed almost to become the ground. Bullets zipped and buzzed overhead as the bang, bang, bang of the enemy guns echoed.
Finally the three made it back to their strong hold and sat up against the rock-crete walls, breathing heavily, their hearts pounding from adrenaline. Yinsin was cursing, and Grenor was trying to get into a good position to return fire but the volley of bullets kept him pinned down. The bullets thudded like hail against the walls, chipping at it as the three men stayed ducked down in the cover it provided.
Finally as the fire seemed to die a little, the three popped up into their positions and began firing back. Yinsin and Kensin, their lasguns on full auto, the rapid “kakrak! Kakrak!” of their rifles joined with the loud whining report of the high energy longlas. As they began giving back as much as they were taking they began locating targets in the fire storm, the red bolts of energy launching out to find and silence the three men’s targets.
“Empty! Reloading!” Grenor suddenly yelled, and ducked back as he began swiftly changing the large longlas clip.
Kensin quickly trained in on targets and sent las bolts down range at them. Normally he would have been more careful in his firing but the situation didn’t allow him much time for anything more fancy than spraying an area with energy fire. Suddenly from the corner of his eye he saw several troops moving up behind cover to come into one of their blind areas.
“Damn! Yinsin! Cover us, countering flankers!” Kensin yelled.
Yinsin nodded and changed his clip, throwing bolts of energy down range enough to keep some of the enemy at bay. Kensin moved up to a low wall and crouched behind it as the flankers came around the corner of a building. He breathed, held his breath and squeezed the trigger. The first man fell back, a scorched hole through his chest. The rest, suddenly realizing they had been found out, opened fire, forcing Kensin down behind the wall.
“For sodding sake! Don’t they ever have to reload?!” Kensin yelled.
A split second later, a massive man launched himself over the wall, and landed in front of Kensin with a crunching of loose rubble. The man suddenly lost his footing on the loose ground and Kensin sent a las round through the man’s chest, toppling him over just before several others came over the wall. Dropping his lasgun and pulling his revolver, he fired at a traitor, the large slug round hitting him in the shoulder and spinning him around. In a flash, the private was on him with his ancestral blade, driving it into the man’s chest to finish him. Pulling it out quickly he rolled off, dodging the lunging blow of one of the enemies comrades, and coming up onto his knees, pulling the trigger twice and sending two bullets into the heretic’s chest, knocking him back over the wall behind him. Two men appeared where the other fell and jumped over the wall as a third fired his autogun on full auto into the space. Kensin barely made it to cover before the area he was in was saturated in bullets.
Kensin made himself as small as possible against the wall as he could, blade in one hand and his revolver in the other. There was a sudden loud whine that scorched the air and Kensin quickly followed the longlas round by spinning out from the wall and sending his last three rounds at the two men. One catching the first in the chest, the last two finding their mark in the second mans leg and stomach. The first began bringing up his lasgun feebly but with a swift drop of his now empty pistol and quick draw of his bayonett, he deftly tossed it into the man’s throat.
“I think that’s it.” Grenor said as he came up to him.
“Yea, I got no more contacts here.” Yinsin said from the other wall.
“How many? I got 6 confirmed, 7 if you count yours Grenor.” Kensin said.
“I got 8 without yours, and I think I saw Yinsin hit a few. Let’s go check on the Tankers.” Grenor said, putting his longlas to his shoulder, ready to pull it up with a seconds notice and began heading cautiously down to the tankers bodies.
As they got there, they all knew none of the Tankers had survived. Their bodies were riddled with bullets and a few had knife wounds. Grenor immediately bent down at the officers corpse and pulled something out of a small satchel on his belt, it was a bottle of Idiocy Juice. Grenor looked back at the two men with a grin and tossed it to Kensin who caught it, whipping off a couple drops of blood.
“There you go, now you don’t need to steal mine. That’s an almost full one too!” Grenor said with a wink, shouldering his long las as he began checking around for enemy corpses.
“Perfect. Hey Yinsin, report to HQ. Area clear.” Kensin said, pocketing the Idiocy Juice, as he began heading to the next section of habs with Grenor and Yinsin.