Ludas was impatient and sitting in the cramped cockpit of a Tempest did not relieve his tension toward the mission. He knew his role as planned, but would the Orks actually follow through with the intelligence provided to Ferrox Squadron for this sortie? The enemy was making a move against Hiket City, an already ruined urban center on the outer periphery of Hive Magaera.
Looking from the auspex to the scene outside the vision slits of the armored canopy kept Ludas alert. The ruins were not much to consider; he’d seen countless cityscapes like the one surrounding his Land Speeder. Roads were covered by debris and unkempt natural detritus from the outskirts that have found their way due to troop movement or winds. Building walls were either crumbling from the decay of time or blasted apart. Ludas’ Tempest gently floated in the shadow between two such ruined buildings. Repulsors counter-acting Medusa V’s gravity thrummed under his seat and gently disturbed the ground below as rock and rubble was pushed by the gravitic waves allowing the land Speeder to hover in place. In fact, his waiting was long enough to have cleaned the street beneath the strike craft back to its original duracrete white.
On the auspex the other two pilots of Ferrox Squadron had also not moved since they found their positions. Brother Duvor, as Ferrox Three, faced Ludas several streets away. Ludas was confident Duvor was checking his weapon systems from outside his cockpit. That was his pre-battle ritual. Brother Sergeant Haqe was likely praying to Corax and the Emperor for a successful run against the xenos. For his part, Ludas’ impatience made him gently tap a finger against the trigger to the assault cannon on the joystick.
The tactical display on the auspex started registering new input: the Orks had arrived. Ludas activated the main engines. Just behind him, the blades within the twin ramjets started spinning. Weapon systems initiated and Krak rounds thudded into place as they loaded. Ludas pulled the trigger enough to see the multi-barreled cannon at the nose of the Land Speeder spin furiously for a second as a final test. Ferox Two was ready.
The vox channel hissed and Brother-Sergeant Haqe declared, “Ferox One, going Z for visual.”
Ludas raised eyebrows at the comment: moving from concealment before committing to battle was not a part of the plan. Originally, Ludas and Duvor were to allow the Orks to pass their location and then attack in a time-honored pincer from behind the Ork formation.
“Ferox Squadron, the Orks are using air transport and support for the ground targets. The mission has changed: prime are the transports, secondary are the support, tertiary are the ground units.”
“Victorus aut Mortis”, replied Duvor.
“For Corax”, muttered Ludas. He gently tapped on the corvia in his lap.
Although he couldn’t feel the vibrations, Ludas could see the buildings tremble from the Ork convoy rumbling into the city’s perimeter. Within minutes, along the main road perpendicular and several hundred meters away, a Battlewagon appeared, followed by several Trucks and Trakks and above the convoy floated some Deffkoptas. Easy prey.
It wasn’t until giant Warcoptas came to view that Ludas, looked back to the auspex and noted Haqe was on the move. Ludas throttled forward slowly to allow the Orks to notice Haqe. Looking again, Duvor had not moved. Good. Ferox Squadron was to crisscross the targets so that their attention could not be focused for too long and sustains damage from multiple vectors. The lead Warcopta shuddered as heavy bullets impacted from Haqe’s attack and Ludas punched his Tempest forward to maximum speed.
A Krak missile found the Ork cockpit, sending Ork Boyz in the flatbed falling to the ground. Ludas pulled the trigger and found some tumbling Orks with his own Assault Cannon before targeting the massive engine of the Warcopta with a missile. Haqe’s attack run had him firing on the second Warcopta as it tried to turn away from the demise of the lead flyer. Ludas crossed just behind Haqe’s flight path when Duvor added his contribution to the next Warcopta. Turning left, Ludas noticed only one other Warcopta remained, but the Deffcoptas started to rally from the surprise attack. Enemy rounds started to fill the air and a few bounced off Ludas’ armored cockpit.
Lining toward the last Warcopta, Ludas fired two Krak missiles, then lowered the nose to quickly survey the convoy. Duvor was sure to be turning right after the second Warcopta crashed to Medusa V to deal with the third flyer. Haqe had already engaged the rear elements of the convoy; several Trukks were blasted apart with Ork bodies either running around or sprawled to the ground. The wreckage of the first two Warcoptas destroyed more vehicles. The rest of the convoy seemed to ignore the aerial dance as they raced down the main road through the city. More bullets pinged off the hull his Land Speeder and a warning light flashed on the console reporting a coolant leak.
“Prime are the Deffcoptas. Deffcoptas prime.”
The message meant Haqe was still flying. Although Tempest’s were fast, they were not heavily armored. The Orks coptas were becoming more organized in their response as Ludas had to jink more often than attack. The coptas were still falling out of the sky from Ferox Squadron’s efforts, but it was taking more time than Ludas was used to.
Tracer fire tried to find his craft from the fleeing convoy below, forcing Ludas to push his flight stick to the left. The Tempest banked hard until Ludas returned right and leveled to find a target. Following a Deffcopta, its engine belching black smoke, Ludas avoided the dark exhaust to maintain visual contact. The bright red aircraft shuddered as the assault cannon of his Tempest rumbled to life. The Deffcopta was doomed as a few rounds found the pilot, spraying green mist. The Ork flyer immediately fell from view.
Checking his ammunition counter Ludas grimaced. He also realized the Speeder was vibrating more than usual as he turned the aircraft. The damage display revealed the port engine was running hotter from the coolant leak. Quickly testing the wing flaps, both were stiffer than he recalled. “Ferox Two, low on ammunition and damaged.” Through the report, Ludas was turning his Speeder toward the billowing cloud made by the convoy.
“Let them go Ferox Two, our duty is done.”
Haqe’s order surprised Ludas, yet it allowed him to review the auspex. It appeared Ferox Squadron owned the skies. Looking toward the convoy, the surviving Ork vehicles were still racing toward Hive Magaera and far from their position. Ludas maneuvered to join the others. Ferox One was floating on a nearby rooftop. Duvor’s Tempest was approaching calmly, yet his Speeder was pockmarked from several Shoota rounds.
Haqe opened his cockpit and kept his helmet on as he spoke. “Good run Ferox Squadron, we’ve done what we can.”
Duvor spoke quick, “what of the convoy, Brother-Sergeant?”
Ludas reasoned, “the Warcopters were unexpected. Although we dispatched them quick, and their fall took down some ground units, ammunition was used that could have gone to other targets.”
“Agreed”, Haqe added. “Then there is the damage we have sustained.” His head shook. “The convoy was not expected to have air support. We have absorbed the shock our Brothers would have had to face if we did not take them down.”
By now, Duvor and Ludas had parked their Speeders to face each other and opened their cockpits.
Duvor leaned forward to inspect the holes in the armored prow of his Tempest. “Brother Sergeant, although I am low ammunition, I counsel we press the attack as planned.”
“There is logic to Brother Duvor’s suggestion,” Ludas pressed. “If the xenos believe we are not following them, then as long as we have weapons we should make another sortie to fulfill our original duties. My craft is damaged as well, but I can still fly.” Looking down to the damage display, both engines had cooled. Flying on one engine slows the Tempest down, but won’t stop it. The xenos on Medusa V must be held back.
Haqe looked between his two battle Brothers and nodded in contemplation. After a few minutes he climbed into the cockpit. “We’ll follow the main road directly behind the convoy and use their travel cloud to mask our approach. Once in range we’ll use a tiered flight vector to maximize the alpha strike. Load Frag Missiles and fire into the transports, the foot soldiers must not find their way into Hive Magaera.”
Edited by Race Bannon, 22 January 2017 - 08:05 PM.
Added image from Warhammer 40K Wikia