A Surprise Attack
"Brother Starblade, we have arrived at the first outpost."
Haldis hefts himself to his feet, servos of his armor compensating for the slowing Land Raider. "You heard Brother Rockaxe; it's time to do the job our Wolf Lord sent us her to accomplish."
The Moon Fangs clamber to their feet, stretching strained muscles and rubbing healing wounds before clicking their first magazine into their Bolters and Bolt Pistols. The Assault Ramp of the Land Raider slams open, a blast of frigid air and snow blustering inside.
Drab olive bunkers dot the whitewashed ravine. Snow piles up along partially opened doors and haphazard defensive walls. A few spires of communication towers jut out from the icy ground, lined with the familiar antenna of Guardsman Vox casters. The snow is prisine; the ground uncluttered. No signs of a fight or struggle or even a hasty retreat. The outpost sits frozen in time within the frozen landscape
"Seems the wind has picked up down here." Haldis steps out on the ramp of the Land Raider. "Moon Fangs; I want helmets on and Voxes opened." Despite a few murmurs of protest, the Hunters comply with their Pack Leader. After a quick Vox check, Haldis divides his Routes into groups of two. "Our mission is simple; make sure each of these buildings is free of enemies; the Astra Militarium wants these outposts intact, so no grenades or heavy fire inside. Report any unusual findings immediately. Understood Brothers?"
"Understood Brother Pack Leader!"
Haldis smiles. "Good. Happy searching Brothers."
* * *
Haldis jabs his fingers into the crack between the two sliding doors, Havard and Langer on either side. "Ready; one, two, three, pull!" With a roar, the three Routs force the sliding doors apart, olive metal shrieking against unpowered rails. "Again. One, two, three, pull!" Another roar, and the doors give way just enough for Langer to squeeze through. Haldis peers through the opening, his back banner too wide and too tall for the Pack Leader to fit through himself. "How does the equipment look Brother Blazeheart?"
Langer crosses the mostly empty room, up righting a desk as he approaches a large cabinet-shaped machine. He runs a finger along the largest of five screens, and taps a few keys beneath it. "Unresponsive Brother Pack Leader. I fear the equipment may not have remained intact during the evacuation."
Haldis mutters softly to himself. "I suppose finding the main command panel in working order was too much to hope for. I'll see if Brother Rockaxe or Steelarm can have a look at it before the Astra Militarium forces-"
"Try hitting it. Works with Blood Claws, and they're harder to get to follow your order than any machine I've seen."
Haldis whirls around and clips Havard on the earpiece. "Brother Langer will do no such thing. That 'machine' is likely far older and has seen more conflict than all of us present on this base combined. The idea of hitting it to make the panel work is utter insanity. If anything it would likely lead to irreparable-"
The two Routs snap their attention into the room; the Command Panel flickers, hums, then lights up as the primary screen displays a long readout of status reports.
"Brother Pack Leader, I believe Brother Havard's suggestion worked! For all appearances, the Main Command Panel is in operable order."
Haldis leans into Havard, his helmet's nose butting up against the Hunter's mouth grill. "If word gets out about what just transpired in that room to reactivate the Main Command Panel, I swear on Bjorn's gilded sarcophagus I will have your hide before our Iron Priests get a chance at mine."
* * *
"Blasted reports; not a single sentence of useful information in the whole thing." Haldis scrolls through the evacuation report for a third time. "I keep expecting to see the Inquisitor sigil plastered between each paragraph. Brother Sunchanter, any new word back from Brothers Stonegze and Doomweaver on the status of the Barracks?"
"Nothing yet Brother Pack Leader. Both seem to believe the storehouses were ransacked by the fleeing Guardsmen, but the structure and basic amenities appear to be intact."
"I guess that's the best the Miliarium can ever hope for. How about Brothers Ironmaw and Forgecaster on the status of the Communications Array?"
"No word yet Brother Pack leader."
Haldis taps a finger against the screen, turning it off. "I'm conflicted on whether that should surprise me or not. Brother Blazeheart, how goes the repairs to the Vehicle Hanger?"
"Slower than anticipated Brother Pack Leader; Iron Priests Rockaxe and Stonearm are still conducting repairs to Snowhammer's targeting and communications equipment, so have been unable to assist in any way beyond verbal directions. However, Brothers Bloodrune and Wolfbreath have completed their sweep of the armory and are aiding in the Vehicle Hanger repairs. Brothers Goldmane and Icecutter plan to assist as well once their patrol of the perimeter defenses is complete."
"Good. After the Communications Array, the Vehicle Hanger is top priority. See if you can get an ETA from our Iron Priests on the completion of their-"
The three Routs grab at their earpieces as a bout of static rips through their Voxes.
"XZXZXZ- approaching at rapid speed. I repeat, Snowhammer's sensors have picked up two large objects 40 degrees east of the base approaching at rapid speed. Brother Starblade, do you-"
Haldis rushes to a window, peering through the wind-whipped snow. "Brother Rockaxe, your communication is breaking up. Relay message again, I repeat, relay message again. Brother Rockaxe, are you there?"
"Brother Pack Leader, this is Brother Wolfbreath. I believe I know what our Iron Priests are trying to warn us about."
* * *
Haldis flips through his HUD's scanners, auspex seeking visual traces of the lumbering vehicles he hears thundering towards his warriors. "Brother Wolfbreath, do your eyes see anything yet?"
Gunnar peers through the flurries of wind-whipped snow. "Nothing yet, Brother Pack Leader, though it sounds as if the Truks are slowing down; I suspect the Greenskins are disembarking; likely armed with longer-ranged Shootas."
Haldis shuts off his helmet's extended scanners and opens a Vox channel. "Brother Steelarm, any luck on getting the targeting systems up?"
"No better than they were before, Brother Starblade. I require coordinates to be able to apply any suitable cover fire."
Haldis nods reluctantly. "Very well; be prepared for my firing commands. As for the rest of you, keep your feet firm; I don't want any glory rushes into Ork fire. I suspect the objects picked up by our scanners are Ork Truks; Torvald, your job is to eliminate those vehicles as quickly as possible. Any advantage the Orks may have with those vehicles is an advantage I want gone. The rest of you provide cover fire for Torvald's advance. Understood?"
"Understood Brother Pack-"
Metal slugs rip through the air, cutting into the Routs. Rounds plink off armor and weapons, drowning out the 'WAAAG!' that rises above the whistling wind. Gunnar grabs his leg, stumbling from his feet into a snow bank.
"Moon Fangs! Return fire! Focus on the Truk closest to the Communications Array!"
The Grey Hunters frantically lift their weapons, bolts firing wildly towards the charging Greenskins. Shells rip through arms and legs, moss and blood flying wide on gusts. Yet the Ork charge remains undeterred until a lucky shot brings the charging Boyz down one by one.
"For now the sun and moon do rise, with deadly force and strength arise!" Flashes of plasma cut through the whitened horizon, mowing down Orks bolts failed to drop, thinning the small mob out from in front of the Truk.
Fire burns within Torvald's chest, a wicked grin gritting teeth as his finger moves to his Meltagun's trigger. The foggy shape of the Ork Truk grows clearer with each step, his target revealing weakened armor ramshackle and patched with an assortment of metals. Torvald's eyes set on a belch of smoke from directly above the front axel. Raising his weapon, Torvald sneers and pulls the trigger. The air hisses loudly, a soft gust bellowing from the beam of heat that streaks down the battlefield. Metal sunders and melts under the intense beam. The Truk shudders and coughs before a blast of fire and metal erupts from the Truk chassis. Those Orks unfortunate enough to be next to the vehicle are shredded with flaming shrapnel.
"Excelent work Moon Fangs! That takes care of half our troubles. Same as before, clear the path! Brother Rockaxe, your firing coordinates are three-thirty point minus-zero-eight point one-fifty."
Snowhammer's turret groans to life, rotating its heavy bolters in line with the few Gretchen who survived the previous encounter. Fire erupts from the massive barrels as shells far bigger than even the great Bolts of the blessed Bolter tear through the sky; ripping through the scrawny Grot bodies before exploding on the other side.
"Oy! Dat Furry Marine wit da Hissy Shoota slaged our Truk! Krump him up before he gets to da udder one!"
"But Boss, dey haz a Truk wit sum bigga shootas dey didn't when Flashjaw fought 'em! Dey just mashed up doze Grots! If dey start shoota at us we's gunna-"
Blufmouf grabs a nearby severed Ork arm and heaves it at the questioning Boy, knocking the offender off his feet. "I sayz we gotta krump dat Furry Marine wit da Hissy Shoota! Now get krumpin! WAAAG!"
The Boyz level their shootas on Torvald, squeezing off a flurry of wild fire at the Hunter. Slugs pling off his armor, rochochet shots cutting at his underarmor. He staggers back, and with a roar, charges ahead towards the truck.
"Cover fire Moon Fangs! Take out those Orks and clear the path!"
Bolters shudder, rounds shrieking towards the shambling Orks and Gretchin. The bolts thud into thick hides, slowing the charge but failing to clear most of the Boyz out;
Havard hefts his Plasma Gun up. "The storms and wind did cast away, and forth the wolves-" The Plasma Gun flashes, and a plume of superheated gas consumes Havard's face and arm.
"Havard!" Haldis grits his teeth. "Blasted temperamental technology; warp curse it all... Rockaxe, adjust aim; Seventeen point minus-three point eighty-six!"
Gears grind as Stormhammer levels its Heavy Bolters out. Rounds thud from the massive guns, tearing down the remaining Grots the Moon Fangs' previous attack thinned out.
Howling at the top of his lungs, Torvald charges the lumbering Truk. Raising his Metagun with his good arm, he squeezes off a blast of heated gas. The stream hisses towards the Truk, barely clearing between the oversized tires. Torvald curses and adjusts his aim, but a stray round strikes his helmet. Torvald's HUD turns to static and the Hunter stumbles to the ground.
"Oy! Boss! Dat Furry Marine wif da Hissy Shoota got krumped up gud dere!"
"And it looks dat da one wif da Flashy Shoota krumped himself!"
Blufmouf grins with wicked excitement. "Good. Dat Flashy one got what 'e 'ad commin fer krumpin' Flashjaw up. Dat only leaves da Boss Furry ta deal wif!" The Nob hefts a stump in Snowhammer's direction. "Go do wat you Squigs do best! Krump dem all! WAAAG!"
"Brother Forgecaster, what is your status? Do you read?" Haldis taps his Vox caster, with only static on the channel. Eyeing the crumpled form of Havard, he turns just in time to see a hail of shots fire from the ever encroaching Truks. Ducking down, slugs bounce off his armor, rattling the Guard. He turns to his Routs, hand in front of his helmet. "Everyone, Krak grenades at the ready. I said we weren't going to have any charges but conditions have changed. Snowhammer will provide your cover fire. With any luck, at least one of you will get through and-"
A flash of blue light streaks down the battlefield. Eyes snap to the Truk as the light pierces through the vehicle moments before the engine ruptures with a tundering BOOM. Boyz jump to the ground, avoiding the storm of metal and fire erupting from their ruined carrier.
"-And forth the wolves did win the day!"
Haldis whirls around and to his feet. "Havard! You're alright! I thought that you had..."
Havard bellows a laugh, patting his Plasma Gun lovingly. "Dawnpaw here may be fickle from time to time, but she always gets the job done. Speaking of, I believe we have some Orks to finish off."
Grinning, Haldis nods. "Havard is right. All guns, fire at will! Take these Greenskins out!"
The Moon Fangs level their guns on the Orks as they climb back to their feet. Squeezing triggers, a wall of bolts slam into the Boyz. Skin shreads and bodies contort under the relentless stream of rounds slamming into the Greenskins. Fleeing Orks are cut down, limbs blown apart.
With a final 'WAAG!', Blufmouf charges through the fire, eyes red with rage set upon Haldis. A single shot thuds out, catching the Nob in the throat. The Nob stumbles over himself, inertia keeping his charge going until the lumbering Greenskin tumbles into the snow. Soren grins and nods. "And that finishes that."
* * *
"Well done Moon Fangs. I'd say this base is safe until the Astra Militarium arrive to claim it. Speaking of..." Haldis opens his Vox. "Brother Steelarm, do we have any idea on when the Guardsmen should be arriving at our location?"
"Based on the information given to me before our arrival on the moon, coupled with the fact that sensors have not detected any Imperial vehicles, my guess is they will not arrive until morning."
"Any hopes of them having supplies to fix our Land Raider's temperamental systems?"
"Brother Starblade, I cannot condone you speaking so ill of Snowhammer or her systems. The simple fact that we are having such issues is a minor incon- XZXZXZXZ"
Haldis snickers as static consumes the Vox channel. "I suppose there is my vindication, condone or no." He turns to his pack. "Alright Routs, report to Iron Priest Rockaxe to have your equipment looked over; I don't want any more gear malfunctioning on us. After that, report to the Command Tower for reprieve. I'll be taking Watch tonight; you've all earned your rest."
"Understood Brother Pack Leader!" As the Hunters shuffle off to Snowhammer, Haldis looks to the sky. In the waning light of dusk, the planet below begins to overtake the horizon. Haldis sighs softly. "I wonder if the fight up here will be as chaotic as it is down there. I can't imagine this mission will entail anything out of the ordinary."
* * *
"So, wat do yaz have ta say fer yerselves?"
Blufmouf and Flashjaw exchange wary looks before the freshly battered Nob steps forward. "Lisen Firekrumper, doze Furry Marines ain't like any udder Marine Boyz we fased. Dey's gud at krumpin; gud as our Boyz, mebbe even-"
Firekrumper knocks Blufmouf off his feet before he can finish. "Ye snivvlin' Grots. Derez no bedder krumpers out dere den us. An' tamorrow I'z gonna show yaz all how ta krump somefing up gud." Flashjaw rushes over to help Blufmouf up as Firekrumper storms off towards the shambling mess of metal the Greenskins were calling their base at the moment.
"Hey Flashjaw, do ya fink..."
"I don't know Blufmouf...we'z gonna see, dat's fer sure..."