Torvald remained in a half croutch, studying the lay out of the plaza in front of him while Aravind outlined what he could see from his vantage point in the ruined remains of a bell towers a few hundred yards further east of them. It seemed that the forest of artillery was divided out into two pairs of gun lines, stretching all the way down the length of the plaza. Each of the pairs, both aligned east to west, and one sitting just behind the other, were essentially independent artillery batteries. Through the center of each line was interlocking set of conveyors that was able to feed each artillery piece specifically needed ammo from the main magazine buried somewhere in the depths under their feet. It was an efficient way to ensure that the main ammunition cache would be protected, while each of the hungry guns wouldnt go without a steady stream of ammunition. This also compounded Torvald's problem. How was he, with a handful of melta charges between his men, supposed to incapacitate several hundred field pieces staggered into two independent batteries? The answer hit him like the fist of Russ when Aravind finished his assesment with the last piece of information: the fuel dumps. Situated on either end of the lines, inbetween the batteries, were a pair of massive reinforced fuel silos, rimmed with several fuel tankers each.
The batteries were not comprised entirely of fixed artilery pieces. In fact, the fluid nature of the war up until it became a protracted trench fight, meant that most of the rebel PDF artillery was fixed into a self propelled chasis. For this reason, it was not an uncommon sight along the main trench lines to see massive fuel depots. While they might seem like prime targets, the silos and bunker systems into which the promethium was stored were reinforced to the point where they could take a direct orbital lance strike and still come out relatively intact. Fuel was the lifeblood of the rebel armor, but here Torvald was determined to burn these heretics to ash with it. A grin split his cragged features as he drew the scouts up around him, opening the squad comm for Aravind's benefit.
"I want us to split into two teams, one for each of the promethium dumps. Gudmund, Sjurd and Edvin, I want you on the nearest one, roughly two hundred meters straight down the main boulevard here," he said, pointing down the avenue running straight from the shop front. "Mikkel and I will make our way to the far end. Aravind, we wont have time for stealth, so I want fire support on us if we meet any resistance."
"Aye Brother," came the wispered reply.
Gudmund, the senior most wolf in the pac behind Torvald, creased his brow as he looked down the avenue. "How are we supposed to take out those silos?" he asked, voicing the underlying question on the minds of every member of the pack. He glanced over at Edvin, whose scent gave away his carefully hidden glee at the thought of a little demolitions work. "I dont think even Edvin could find a weak enough spot in the structure for us to do any damage, least of all to the guns."
"We will be leaving the silos alone," Torvald continued, the grin returning to his face. "Locate and commendeer any available tankers at the refuling stations. We're going to use the Selsan's inginuity against them." As he outlined the remainder of his plan, the looks from his packmates went from skepticism to manical glee. If this worked, it would be a fine saga to tell in the great halls back on Fenris.
"Lets move, we are almost out of time," Torvald told his pack. Wasting no time, they gathered into thier assigned groups and ducked into the ruins around them, making for thier objectives.
Torvald ran from ruined shop to runied hab along the length of plaza, covering the distance suprisingly easily. He knew that by now, the bodies in the main trench work had to have been found. As if in answer to his musings, he could see armed patrols moving up and down the streets branching off the main roads, obviously looking for something. In the grey light of the near dawn, however, the patrols didnt have a chance of finding the wolves if they didnt want to be found. Human eye sight was at its worst in the pre-dawn and pre-dusk light, unable to fully acclimate to the half light. The wolves did not share in that weakness, able to see in any light short of pitch darkness as if it were day. The scent of so many unwashed bodies reeking of fear and anxiety did nothing to hide the approach of the patrols either.
He would have preferred to cut straight across the battery to make this journey as short as possible, but he knew in his heart that even against the meager loading crews manning the guns, he and Mikkel would never have made it to thier destination before being cut apart by the sheer volume of bodies. Hundreds of artillery pieces meant thousands of crew and maintainence workers. Even as it is, as he drew closer to the north east corner of the plaza, he was having a harder time keeping out of sight. Mikkel, as always, was no where to be seen, slinking from one shadow to another, silent as death. Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, they had made it to the corner and turned south towards thier objective. Already he could see the massively tall, flat topped cylinder that stored the vast sums of promethium. Arrayed around it in a semi circle of twisted piping and release valves, hissing coolant into the early morning air, were series of pumping stations, each with a tanker standing at the ready.
Torvald assessed the situation quickly in his mind and come to the conclusion that it was time to deal with the rebels in a more direct manner. He could make out roughly two dozen workers manning the rigging of the pumping stations. Milling about with them were the drivers of the massive tanker trucks. Each of the enormous T-16 tankers had thier engines cold. There had been no action in this theater of the front for several months, and the need for continuous refueling had lulled. Yet again, however, this also made for idle, complacent soldiers.
Torvald slipped from the shadows, swifly and silently making his way across the open ground between the ruins and the station, drawing his power axe from across his back. Looking to his right, he saw Mikkel appear out of the ruins and move into position next to him. He had drawn his knife, keeping the plasma pistol wisely stowed in it's holster. Firing off super heated blasts of plasma was not such a good idea when one is surrounded by the most flamable substance in the Imperium of man. Torvald drew his knife as well and tossed it to Mikkel mid-stride before drawing his bolt pistol, making sure the safety was firmly in the ON position. They hugged the cover of one of the tankers, keeping it's bulk between themselves and the idly chatting crew members. Finally, rounding the corner, they struck.
The crew of the pump station had whiled away the long night hours trying to take what valubles they could from the tanker crews, setting up several rigged games of cards and dice on top of a collection of overturned crates. The night had indeed gone poorly for the tankers, and things were starting to get heated between the two crews with accusations, entirely true of course, of fixed games. The pump station crew, to save face, feigned ignorance and came back with insults of sore losing. The situation was quickly melting out of control, and was fuled by one tanker in particular, a massive brute with black electoos snaking down both of his arms, each as thick as a normal man's thigh.
"You best be givin us back our money you Emperor-loving fragging sons of whores! You don't want me to come over there and-" The mans rant was cut short as a sniper bullet found his left temple, spraying those of his comrades unfortunate enough to be standing to his right with bits of his skull and brain matter. Perhaps if he still had the capacity, he would have appreciated the marksmanship demonstrated by the 1200 meter shot to end his life.
Torvald saw the big man go down in a heap just as he and Mikkel struck with eye blurring speed. Aravind had taken out the biggest threat in the group, and Torvald tore into the remaining tankers with glee, smashing back and forth with his bolt pistol, caving skulls and chests in with minimal ease. The crackling blue headed power axe in his other hand bisected men as if they werent there, leaving them screaming, falling to their knees in an effort to hold in steaming loops of half-cooked intestines or clutching severed stumps of limbs. With his blood up, Torvald howled his pleasure and set himself into the task of slaughtering every man in sight. Most of the tankers had barely time to relieve thier bladders and attemp to run from the blood soaked daemon cutting them literally to pieces. The ones that did try to run found that they were unable to outpace the Emperor's finest.
Mikkel had bypassed the group of tankers by slitting the hamstrings of one and using him as a springboard to vault himself into the pump station crew. As silent as death itself, he landed with both daggers held like wings to his sides, decapitating the men to either side of him with consummate ease as he landed on the chest of another, flatting him out with a bone crunching thud. Raising himself up, gore dripping from the combat knives to either side of him, Mikkel looked at the frozen faces staring at him with a harsh glare before he whirled around faster than a normal human's eye could track, tearing apart the heretics before most had even recovered from seeing thier comrades beheaded. It only took him a matter of moments.
Torvald had taken a moment to appreciate the carnage that Mikkel reaped around him. Suddenly, he realized that one of the tanker crew, off to relieve himself before the fight had broken out, rounded the corner of one of the tankers and stared at the pair of blood-soaked wolves with wide eyes horror. The man stumbled back behind the tanker and did his best to run, tripping over his own feet in his terror, crying out at the top of his lungs for help. Torvald calmly rounded the frame of the tanker, thumbed off the saftey catch on his pistol, and planted a bolt round squarely between the man's shoulders, whos shrieks for assistance cut out as his chest cavity blew itself out onto the pavement in front of him. He took two more stuttering steps before he collapsed. Unfortunately for Torvald, he had lasted long to raise the alarm. Shouts were raised along the avenue on either side of them, and he could see movement in both of the artillery batteries, a hundred meters from him in either direction.
"Mikkel, take that one!" Torvald shouted, pointing to a tanker resting low on its axels, loaded up with several thousand gallons of supercooled promethium. He selected one for himself and set off at a dead sprint to reach the cab. As he rounded the engine block, he nearly walked over a small patrol coming to investigate the sounds of fighting. He raised his bolt pistol and loosed off a quick burst, the rounds punching through the bodies in front before detonating and shredding those in back in a hail of shrapnel. All but one of the squad collapsed mid stride, and Torvald simply headbutted the last man, caving his face back in on itself in a spray of bone and blood. He stepped over the bodies and hauled himself up the stair ladder to the door of the cab, pulling himself inside, starting the massive machine. Looking across the pump station, he could see Mikkel had already started moving his tanker off towards the southern most battery. Pulling a micro grenade from his belt, he set the timer for it's maximum fuse and lobbed it out the window of the cab. He slipped the tanker into reverse and couldnt help the grin that split his face, unnaturally long white teeth standing out in stark contrast to the gorey mess that caked his long hair and bushy eyebrows. As the grenade detonated, enhanced by the now uncooled and free flowing promethium, the pumping station vapourized in a massive fireball that light up the plaza in an early dawn. Pulling into position behind Mikkel's tanker, Torvald couldnt help but appreciate his own handywork as streams of bodies ran towards the raging inferno, leaving the two wolves unimpeded as they pushed thier tankers towards the southern battery.
Torvald slipped the tanker into park as they reached the end of the line of artillery, a pair of massive earthshaker cannons rising up on either side of him. The tanker was nuzzled up next to the massive conveyor system that rose like a steel jungle between the guns, stretching off into the distance between the upraised barrels of artillery on either side. It reminded Torvald distantly of an honorguard. He pushed the thought out of his mind as he lowered himself out of the cab.
The crew from the earthshaker nearest him was already walking up towards the tanker, confused looks on thier faces. They were a fixed platform, without need of any fuel to power the massive gun. The crew leader had just reached the doorway when Torvald stepped out, still splattered from head to toe in blood. The man stopped, unable to find any words to say as his crew bunched up behind him, staggering to a halt. Torvald simply pulled out his pistol and gunned the men down where they stood, barely sparing a thought for those who had turned their backs on the Emperor's light.
He walked down to the side of the tanker until he came to the hose assembly, easily drawing out the heavy gague hose that was wrapped around a drum in the side of the tanker. Cranking the valve over to the open position, he strode back towards the conveyor assembly and placed the hose into the deep trench that the lattice work of metal was supported in. He opened the catch on the valve and stood back to wait. Mikkel approached from his right and copied his movements exactly. The easy work done, all they could do now was wait.
Torvald reached up and opened the vox bead in his ear.
"In position, brother. Our tankers are nearly dry. Experiencing only light resistance," he replied. Torvald could hear the strangled cries of Selsans in the background. The fighting would be hand to hand and fierce. The PDF couldnt risk detonating that much promethium so near the artilery pieces. In such a situation, there would be little the soldiers could do to stop the wolves.
Suddenly, Torvalds comm clicked to life again and Aravind's whisper of a voice could be heard. "Brother, the assault has begun"
From high up in his belltower, Aravind had an unequaled view of the city and the surrounding area. With the plaza spread out below him, he looked back out to the north of the city and watched as the grey light of dawn blossomed into a series of staggering explosions as the Imperial lines advanced.
Imperial tanks, mostly Leman Russ battle tanks with a few exotic variancies thrown in, led the main assault, creeping out of the treeline into no-man's land with sponsons blazing and main cannons spewing death. They took up positions in the deep craters left by years of shelling and made themselves as small of targets as possible, while keeping range of the trench lines so they could bombard the troops within. The PDF were not without teeth, however, and soon a hailstorm of anti-tank fire, from hand held missiles to high powered lascannons struck back at the tanks, finding kinks in the armor and sending turrets high into the night air on plumes of superheated air as tank magazines cooked off from the direct hits.
Suddenly, the forest itself seemed to step out onto the battlefield, and from the shimmer of blue haze obscuring his view, Aravind knew that the Titans had arrived.
A pair of Reaver titans lowered their guns towards the trenchlines, striding out into the hail of missiles which absorbed impotently into the void shields. With blinding flashes of light, the turbo laser batteries mounted on thier arms vaporized entire stretches of trench line and melted the earth and bodies together into a super heated glass. Even from this distance, Aravind could hear the crack of superheated air like a lightning strike. The rumble shook dust from the ruins around him.
Wheeling out between the legs of the reavers, Aravind could see hunched back shapes that strutted out into the battle field with amazing speed. He felt his heart leap into his throat at the sight. Warhound titans. If there was anything in the galaxy that could make Aravind reconsider becoming a Space Wolf, it would have been to be the princepts of a Warhound. It would be tantamount to feeling what it would be like to be Russ himself. Striding over a battlefield, the soul of the hound inside of you, merging with who you were, and sending entire companies of the enemy to their death with a single thought. It was enough to send even the cold, steady heart beat of Aravind into a stacatto.
Suddenly, Aravind was thrown out of his revierie by a sharp crack on the night wind. The anti-tank crews of the PDF had found the range on one of the Warhounds, and with a coordinated strike of lascannons had stripped the mighty warmachine of its voids and pierced the containment vesself of the plasma reactor. With twists of uncontained power coursing around its machine body like lightning, the Warhound stumbled, then fell chin first into the ground, before erupting into a massive blue fireball that scoured the Imperial lines around it, melting tanks where they stood and lighting up the grey sky for miles around.
Finally, as Aravind watched PDF troopers and tanks rushing at full speed along the streeds of Ravik towards the fight, he was able to see the familiar ice blue shapes of Space Wolf armor emerge from the treeline. With a growl audibel from kilometers away, the Space Wolves advanced into the teeth of the enemy, several Land Raiders and a score of rhino's rushing towards the PDF trench lines.
Reaching up, Aravind signaled to Torvald, "the Wolves are coming brother."
"Now, Edvin," Torvald signaled the young wolf scout. While he couldn't see the result, Torvald knew that the section of trench line that the scouts had infiltrated would erupt into flame and dirt as the carefully concealed charges went off. Serving several purposes, not only would this bury any PDF manning the trench along that line, it would also collapse the trench works in upon themselves, leveling the ground and making a clear beach head for the wolves to drive thier armor across, straight into the heart of the Selsan resisitance.
With the first part of the mission completed, Torvald looked down into the conveyor system, watching the liquid promethium wash down into the distance. The heady smell of promethium gas permeated the air around him, and Torvald had difficulty keeping his senses from overwhelming him. It wouldnt be much longer now, and the final stage of the plan would be ready.
Without warning, the booming report of heavy artillery cracked through the night air. Torvald's head snapped up as he saw smoke billowing from further down the battery line. The first report was rapidly followed by a dozen more as cannon shot ranged out from the line. The conveyor system came to life as it started feeding shells up and down the battery line. As Torvald watched, each cannon and missile system in the battery came to life and hurled death towards the Imperial lines. Finally, with a thunderous report, the pair of big guns closest to Torvald and Mikkel blasted into the night air, the proximity to the source of the promethium leak too much for physics to deny, and the world around Torvald erupted into a firey hell.
The air burst of vapour promethium was enough to singe the hair off of his wolf pelt and head, blasting him back a dozen meters into the hood of the tanker. Shaking his head, he saw Mikkel pick himself up from the ground, several meters back, smoking from any exposed area. With an effort, Torvald stood up and surveyed the scene around him. The artillery shots had ignited the pit of promethium pouring down the length of the conveyor away from the pair of wolf scouts. As long as the pressure in the hoses kept up, the narrow lake of fire would continue to move away from them, and the volitile pair of tankers at the end of the trench. However, with the conveyor working, it was only a matter of time before live ammunition started pouring from the underground magazine.
Even as he thought this, a large compartment opened up a few dozen meters down the line from Torvald and a new series of lifting conveyors burst into life, lifting a heavy siege shell from the magazine below. With a sudden realization, Torvald felt something that very few space marines ever felt. Fear.
"Get out of here, now! By the Emperor's holy buttocks, move Space Wolves!" he bellowed into the comm. Following his own advice, he sprinted down the avenue that he and Mikkal had come by. They met several squads of men rushing the opposite way, but they simply bowled their way through them, leaving a couple of micro grenades in their wake to discourage any pursuit, they ran just ahead of the shockwaves the small divices left after blowing a few squads of men to bits.
Back at the conveyor line, as the system efficiently fed shell after shell to the awaiting artillery, which continued to pound the oncoming Imperial forces relentlessly, the open hatches down into the magazine allowed for the burning promethium to pour, thousands of gallons per second along the length of the trench, directly down into the underground storage facility. The fire-fighting systems installed could only hold off the raging inferno pouring down from above for a short time, the outcome was inevitable.
As Torvald and Mikkel continued their headlong flight down the streets of Ravik, they ran into a full company of PDF making thier way the opposite direction towards the front line. The officer in charge actually had the capacity to order his troops into a firing line as the wolves barreled down on them.
"If you value your lives, I suggest running!" he bellowed at them.
As one, the company looked back towards the artillery park. Seeing the white hot flames licking up and down the conveyor line, they all came to the same conclusion as the wolves.
Suddenly, in a flash of light that rivaled the atomics of old, the magazine cooked off.
The blastwave leveled every building for hundreds of meters around the central plaza of the city, and the fireball could be seen from the orbiting Imperial surveilance craft from space. With a deafening shatter, tens of thousands of rounds of heavy calibur shells erupted at once, blowing the stratta of central Ravik into a low orbit for a short period of time. Reports would later say that dibris from the blast was found as far away as the Parisian Islands, some 6,000 miles away.
Torvald and Mikkel, barely a kilometer from the blast, were sent head over heels through the air for a hundred meters, smashing painfully trough the walls of the warehouse at the end of the road they had been running along. Only the enchanced survivability of the Emperor's Finest and the walls of the building allowing them to weather the intense heat and crushing blast wave that washed over them from the massive explosion. The company of men that had run along side the space wolves were a series of broken corpses littering the walls and pavement of the street.
With the heart of the city literally blown out from under them, the PDF defending Ravik were torn apart by the combined efforts of the Space Wolves, the Legio Titanicus, and the 192nd Cadian Mechanized Division.
OK guys, that's chapter one. Hope you all enjoyed, If there is enough calling, I will continue the saga of this war in successive chapters. Hope to hear some C&C!
if you are in need of some reading material
At the end of the day, we know who our true brothers are. We watch the halls of Russ, and remember our days of glory whilst persuing ever greater ones.
We are the Sons of Russ, for the All-Father and the Wolf King. From now, until the End Days and the Wolftime. We play by our rules, and noone elses.