Roland cursed the name Ildor IV, he cursed it again and again as he huddled as close as he could to the bottom of a half filled shell hole. Nothing had gone right since the crusade for this world had been declared.
The Officers and Priests had all said that this backwater world would be broken quickly. That had been over eight months ago and there was no sign of these heretics "rolling over". They had fought for every single meter of land on this damned planet, and it looked as if these people were planning on doing that until every last one of them was ground to dust.
The problem boiled down to the very "backwards" way of thinking these heretics had. Their cites were not of the imperial style, they didn't build them tall into hives instead, they chose to build them all universally low to the ground and stretched out for miles. Roland had thought that this would make things easy, without the large Hab blocks that normal Hive cities had that would have had to have been taken one floor at a time.
Really all they had done was trade one problem that the regiment had trained for, with a problem they were not ready to deal with.
"Emperor damned street to street fighting" The Guard sergeant muttered as he crawled up to the lip of the crater he was taking cover in.
Somewhere at the end of the street the heretics had set up a Heavy Bolter in the ground floor of a bombed out shop.
"What was that Sarge?"
Roland looked over to his corporal. Brigham must have jumped into the crater when the bastards opened up on them as they were crossing the street.
"Nothing, you see where that accursed gun is firing from exactly?"
"Didn’t have time to look, was trying to find cover as soon as the bolts started to fly." The corporal was lighting one of his lho-sticks as he looked over the lip of their meager cover. "Smart bastards though, waiting as long as they did."
They had been smart, Roland thought, the squad had been crossing the open street in small groups at first. Only two at a time until about half had gotten across without issue. He’d been stupid and dropped his guard when he allowed the rest to go at once.
"So, what’s the plan?"
"Not sure yet. Regiment won’t be looking for us for at least another six hours." The sudden question had brought Roland out of his self-critique and loathing. He sighed outwardly and looked back over the lip of their cover "We could get support if we called up the chain over the Vox"
Brigham let out a low chuckle before sinking back into the crater on his back. "Well, good luck with that Sarge"
Roland couldn't blame the corporal for his defeatist mindset with that specific plan, especially as he looked at the body of his Vox man lying on the ground about twenty meters from him and in between Roland and the building the Enemy Weapon team had fired from. "Damn"
"Yeah, any other plan?" The corporal's voice had a hint of hope in it, sounding like he was hoping Roland would be able to pull the squads asses out of the fire.
"Nope, still on this one"
Roland turned to look down at Brigham's surprised face "Did you see were Tina went? She make it?"
"I, ah, I think so Sarge. I think she's a bit farther back down the street… Where you going with this?"
"I’m trying to get us some back up" The Sergeant looked back over the lip of the crater. Twenty meters wasn't that far, he could make that with a quick sprint, and it looked like there was another small shell crater on the opposite side of Hoffman's body. He crawled back to the opposite side of the crater and looked back to Brigham "You may want to keep your head down, I don't think they are going to like this"
The old Corporal gave him a confused look before sliding down farther into the shell crater. "I hope you know what you’re doing Sarge"
"So do I" Roland peeked over and saw a few more dead bodies from his unit. From what he could see, none of them looked to be Tina, the squads weapon specialist. He quickly ducked his head back down before calling out "Tina! You still alive out there?"
Before anyone could actually answer, the enemies’ Heavy Bolter opened up on to the general area they thought the call had come from. Luckily, the enemy gunners had poorer ears than their aim, as the sound of bolts roaring past Roland's cover told him. After one or two short bursts the weapon stopped firing and the street was once again quiet.
Roland was surprised to hear the voice of Specialist Tina Krauss far closer than he thought she'd be.
"Still alive Sarge, though with a few more bursts like those that might change" She didn't sound wounded, that was good, and it seemed like the gunners watching the street couldn't hear her talking.
"Good to hear Specialist, it looks like I'm going to need your help here. Going to need some suppressing fire real soon, how are you for ammo for that launcher?"
"Ready and willing Sarge, one and a half drums left, that enough for what you’re planning?"
"Plenty, keep an ear open for Corporal Brigham's signal, when you hear it I want you to lay a few rounds into that shop where that damned gun is firing from. You don't have to hit, just get their attention, alright Specialist?"
"Loud and clear Sarge, I'm ready when you are!"
The troopers enthusiasm was good, but her loud reply must have carried far enough for the enemy gunner to hear and again they opened up with burst after burst at seemingly random positions they must have thought Roland's unit was taking cover in.
"Mind filling me in on what you’re planning?" Brigham had moved over beside Roland while the bolts flew past their heads.
"We can't stay here, from the sound of it that's just one gun, if we stay sooner or later they are going to get reinforced with infantry that can come out to displace us. Regiment is not coming unless we can get a hold of them. That Vox is our only hope of getting some support, maybe another squad to flush that gun out from the side or some fire from the regimental mortar section. Either way someone's got to get to that Vox set."
The bursts of Bolter fire was slowly starting to ease off, and Roland could see his Corporal going over his line of thinking. "But why you Sarge? I could make the run for that set."
He had to admit the Corporal made a good point, and Roland was very close to ordering the man to make the dash out of his own fear. When a single bolt shell landed just behind the lip of their crater it broke that line of thinking and he shook his head, he was going to do this.
"No, I’m faster than you, we are not going to get another chance at this. We have to make it count."
Brigham sighed, blowing out a thin cloud of smoke as he did, and gave Roland a look that told him he was being an idiot. "Alright, let me know when you’re ready, I’ll have Tina start up right before you go"
"Good, give me a 10 count before you do, we need to time it exactly. The more targets and distractions they have the better chance I have." Roland did his best to get on his feet without exposing himself to the line of sight of the enemy weapons team.
"Emperor be with you, you stupid bastard" with that Brigham began to count.
Roland couldn't really argue with Brigham, that was one of his stupider ideas, but it had to be done. When Brigham got about halfway through his count Roland started to pray under his breath for the Emperors protection and checked his laspistol to make sure it was charged.
"Now Tina!" half a heartbeat later Roland heard the telltale Ka-Chunk! sound of Specialist Krauss's grenade launcher firing from behind and to the left of his crater. Even before the first round had landed Roland was dashing out of his cover at a low sprint. The enemy gunner had already started to open up, but it looked like he was in a panic and firing wildly.
The second round from Tina was already on the way as the first one hit home. Roland could see it hit the back wall of the bombed-out shop where that gun was. It was too far to the left to really do any harm to the men manning the gun, but by the way the bolts stopped flying for a split second after the impact Roland was sure it had shaken the crew.
Roland was about halfway to Hoffman's body when the second round hit. This time it was high and showered the crew of the gun with bits of rockcrete and dust from what was left of the shops second floor. A bolt shell kicked up dirt and asphalt right in front of Roland a split second before exploding, he quickly shifted direction slightly to throw off the gunners aim. In the back of his mind Roland could tell that the gun crew were having trouble picking who to focus their fire on.
The third round hit right in front of where Roland thought the gun crew were set up. Oddly enough, the frag round was joined by the red streaks of lasgun fire. He hadn't ordered that but his unit must have seen the mad dash and started to provide covering fire. He was just within reach of the Vox set when his luck turned, he lost his footing just as he reached for the bulky Vox. This caused him to slide forward on the ground and become an easy target.
The next thing the Guard Sergeant heard was not a bolt shell striking him, as he had thought, but the last frag round from Tina's suppressing fire hitting something metallic and a split second later causing a large secondary explosion in the bombed out shop. He opened his eyes, he had apparently closed them when he thought he was about to be cut down and saw the bottom floor of the shop at the end of the street in flames. The bolter fire had stopped and the sounds of men burning could be heard over the sizzle of flames.
"YEAH! THATS WHAT I"M TALKING ABOUT!" Tina's voice carried over the now quite street followed by a loud cheer from the rest of the unit.
"That was a very stupid plan Sarge" the voice of Corporal Brigham cut through the sounds of cheers and Tina's normal boasting. He was standing over Roland and had his hand out to help him up.
"It worked didn't it?"
Brigham just shook his head as he helped pull Roland upon to his feet.
Roland looked back to the former enemy position. "Round must have struck their ammunition store."
"Most likely" The Corporal was already lighting another lho-stick. "Lucky for you, that last burst was pretty close."
Roland had to agree, any later and that gunner would have turned him into red mist. "You’re my new Vox-man Corporal, get a report to Regiment on where we had contact. I'm going to see how bad the damage to the squad is"
From what he could see it wasn't as bad as it first looked. Counting Hoffman it looked like two others had been hit in the opening ambush. One more was wounded, it looked like he had been hit by some shrapnel from a stray bolt round. Specialist Krauss was still smiling from ear to ear by the time Roland had picked his way across the debris strewn street.
"Good shooting specialist"
"Thank you Sarge, my aim must have been guided by the Emperor's hands themselves!"
A small cheer ran through the soldiers at the sound of the pious words. "Indeed" raising his voice so the whole of the squad could hear him "Gather the fallen's tags and gear, we're not leaving anything for the heretics to steal, do it at the double as we're leaving in ten, we still have to link up with baker company an-"
Loud laughter echoed through the street, interrupting Roland mid-order, it sounded like Brigham and was positively dripping with irony. When he turned around to look at just what was so funny he saw his Corporal looking at the Vox set that Roland had very recently risked his life for. Brigham held it up for the rest of the squad could see it.
…And the two neat Bolt sized holes through it.
So let me know what you all think, I knocked this out over a weekend to help take my mind off other much larger writing projects I'm working on. just wanted to get a small story story done, it's the first time I've written anything like this in the 40K setting. also, I wrote this in my novel writing software, and it seems like that does not play well with the forums, so hopefully i was able to catch all of the formatting errors.