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  1. #1

    Default "Beyond The Call of Duty" | WH40K FanFiction

    Author's Note: I wrote this a while ago. Comments and critique are welcome. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment as you like. Any constructive criticism is of course welcome.

    Part One

    "By faith in our God-Emperor and by the training we are given do we become steel. For we are more than simple men. We are Kaskrin!
    - Attributed to Training Sergeant Deagan Faulster, Kaskrin Training Facility 12A, Cadia


    The air was becoming more cold as the darkness of night approached. The last rays of the setting sun arched over a broken and devastated landscape. The fields were ruined. Once they had been filled with tall stalks of corn and wheat, ready to be harvested by the local township of Stahlhaven. However, Fate would never give the locals farmers time to harvest their fields. Xenos invaders had arrived, pillaging and destroying everything in sight - every crook and tree. Nothing was spared. Their blood lust hardly being slated by the meager ten thousand souls within Stahlhaven, the Greenskin horde had plunged onward, only to be met by the pursuing forces of the Imperial Guard, too late to intervene.

    Dead bodies and burning vehicles now littered the fields of Stalhaven. Death had reaped a terrible harvest across the blood-soaked fields. Men and Orks lay scattered in heaps, green blood mixed with red in rivulets that pooled together at the bottom of craters created from massed Earthshaker artillery. The massed counter offensive of the Imperial Guard had managed to halt the Ork horde from advancing further into the populated areas of the planet Granheim, but only just. A stalemate that would shortly be broken.

    Filtering across the field, ducking behind bodies and under broken vehicles, a small creature furtively scurried. It's large red eyes and giant green nose in blatant disproportion to its body, the small Gretchin scanned its surroundings with both sight and smell. The smell of coppery blood and ozone from extensive lasgun firing mixed with the smell of burnt meat. The creature nearly fell face first after stepping on a pile of expended bolter shells. They tinkled together -- sounding to the creature as if an artillery shell had exploded -- for all the quiet the sound had disturbed.

    Something sparkled in front of the gretchin, gleaming in the last ray of sunlight.

    The creature was cautious by nature, but the thought that something valuable might be waiting for it to pick off some dead carcass was too tempting; another trinket to add to the collection he carried at his side, a pouch made from a young human it had gutted when his Ork overlords had sacked the town of Stahlhaven. It would make a good present to give to his big boss.

    The gretchin made its way forward to where it saw the shiny object. He came to a pile of human dead, two of the bodies having been cut entirely in half by an Ork cleaver. The gretchin shuddered to think about the cleaver. It had been threatened with enough such weapons by his overlords to fear what they could do to him, let alone humans.

    The gretchin pushed aside the lower legs of a guardsman and saw what he had been looking for. It was a necklace that had obviously fallen off one of the guardsmen. It was a silver locket and chain. The glass on the inside was broken, but one could still see the image of a long haired woman smiling out. The gretchin squealed in delight. Another treasure to add to his collection! He reached down and picked it up, raising it above his head to get a better look at it in the twilight of dusk. A shadow rose up behind the gretchin, distracted as it was by its scavenged treasure.

    A gloved hand wrapped around the gretchin's throat and, before the little creature could even react, the hand grasped with an iron grip. With a quick twist and jerk the gretchin fell dead with a snapped neck.

    The shadow wiped its hands on a camouflage cloak, the little gretchin's neck had been greasy. An Imperial insignia of the two-headed eagle appeared on the man's breastplate of carapace armor, as he picked up and replaced the locket back into the pocket of the dead Guardsman whom he was partially lying atop of. Once done he reached up to the vox bead in his ear.

    “Threat taken care of Captain,” the man voxed. “The field is clear for another two kloms.”

    “Good man, Dorian,” replied Captain Raizo. Raizo switched over to the company wide vox channel. “Alright you slouches, move up. Keep formation. Keep an eye out for any more scavengers.”

    Like so many ghosts, figures rose up all around the scout that had eliminated the gretchin. They had taken cover in body piles or inside the wheel wells of destroyed trucks. Two hundred men wearing carapace armor with specially made camouflage cloaks to let them better hide in the open terrain of Granheim, they crossed over the broken fields like vengeful dead spirits. They moved silently even in carapace armor, each trained to move unseen and unheard. They were the best soldiers of the Imperium - the elite of Cadia: Kaskrin.

    Not that anyone within the high command of the 180th Army Group would consider Raizo's Irregulars to be elite, at least in open conversation. His company was looked up with disgust by many high ranking officers. Rejected from becoming a part of the Inquisitorial stormtrooper corp based on what his report called “personality disorder,” Raizo was a black sheep. Instead of killing the man, and therefore wasting all the time and training that he had accumulated, he had been shipped off to Cadia where he was given a company of Kaskrin, most of which were themselves the bits and pieces of former companies and regiments that hadn't been able to reform into normal units again, or were simply disliked by their commanders and shifted aside. Either way Raizo didn't mind and accepted any comers into his company's ranks so long as they could meet the demanding standards he set, even by the measure of Kaskrin.

    “Sir,” Lieutenant Westphal voxed, ten paces to the left of Raizo. “Have I mentioned how suicidal you are sometimes, in regards to accepting certain missions?”

    “I believe you've mentioned it before Jak,” replied Raizo, shifting the hellgun in his hand as he turned his head from side to side, looking for trouble. “I think you're up to around the three-hundredth time now.”

    “I just thought I'd let it be known that it would be preferable if you would allow me and Lieutenant Harkens to be with you when mission parameters are being explained. For instance, maybe getting us a gig that doesn't involve sneaking behind Ork lines and advancing more than eighty kloms on foot?”

    “It's not anyone's fault that the objective is behind enemy lines and we are walking so that we don't alert the Orks to our passing by them. We'd get spotted within a day if we'd taken Chimeras,” replied Raizo. Unlike most commanders in the Imperial Guard, he allowed his two adjutants a lot of leeway in terms of what they could and could not say to him. More often than not, it seemed that they always bewailed Raizo's choices in accepting missions.

    “Perfectly understandable...but then why not just have drop troops land on it? Not that I don't like a little stroll through a battlefield and skipping along behind enemy lines,” deadpanned Westphal.

    “Sorry to disturb another soliloquy from Jak,” interrupted Lieutenant Harkens, Raizo's other junior officer. He was at the head of the formation. “I've got Stahlhaven in sight. I'm seeing a lot of movement by Ork vehicles.”

    Raizo immediately stopped bantering and got serious. “We have to move out of the area before dawn. Find a way to skirt around the town if possible.”

    “That will be tricky sir,” replied Harkens. “A damned river runs through Stahlhaven that we have to cross, and there are only two bridges. Both are inside the town.”

    “Frak,” muttered Raizo. “Send Sergeant Dorian and his crew north of the town to try and find a spot we can ford the river. I don't see us keeping this operation a secret if we have to shoot our way through a town infested with Orks.”

    “Yes sir,” replied Harkens. “On it.”


    Part Two

    "Death is the servant of the righteous."
    - Attributed to the sermons of Arch Diocese Bluhart van Dahm of Perselsus


    Houses burned in the town of Stahlhaven, casting shadows from the marauding bands of Orks as they reveled. The stink of some crude alcohol and raw flesh filled the air. The Orks were celebrating, obviously excited about the victory that they had won against the Imperial counter attack earlier in the day. The sound of war drums reverberated through the air, smashing against the eardrums of listeners like a jackhammer.

    Moving through it all like a silent shadow was Sergeant Dorian. He skirted large groups of Orks, avoided the fire pits and burning homes, and made sure not to make a sound as he slipped silently through their ranks. Not that it was much of a challenge.

    Dorian was a tall man, but wiry and strong in the way that steel cables are. His usually fair-skinned face was covered in camo-paint and his blond hair had been slathered with dirt so as to darken it. When he got the order to scout ahead of the company by Lieutenant Harken he had immediately dropped all of his heavy equipment and taken off the larger sections of his carapace body armor. With little more than his black fatigues, a laspistol, and a combat knife Dorian had made his way forward to the riverside. He had gotten to the north side of the town and the edge of the river when he had found a large Ork encampment there. He estimated their numbers at roughly a thousand, if not more. And there were perhaps three times that many moving throughout the city. The company would not be able to go north, so he headed south through the city.

    He was confident in his skills at infiltration. Dorian had been raised from birth on the planet Janus Secundus, a fortress world near the Cadian system. Dorian had been selected to be a trainee of the Officio Assassinorum and had excelled at his place in the shadows. However while on a mission for the Grand Master, Dorian had found that his target was an innocent man, a wealthy and powerful lord governor to be sure, but not corrupt or evil in any way. When Dorian had back tracked and discovered that his target had been selected by a jealous rival who wanted to surplant the innocent governor, Dorian had killed the contractor and faded away. It was an act of conscious from a man who should have been a rock of cold lethality -- but instead Dorian had turned on that and broken off.

    He spent two years traveling around with various rogue traders and hiding as a member of the Departmento Munitorum. That was until he reached the world of Ralles where he had run into Captain Raizo. The kaskrin captain had discovered Dorian's abilities when the former assassin had defended a family of hivers from the slaughter they would have received from a band of Chaos cultists. Needing more men at the time, Raizo had extended Dorian an offer: fight with him in defending the Imperium or go his own way. Raizo represented a figure of steadfast belief and unbending scruples, even when those beliefs and morals were at odds with a superior's orders -- a fact that had nearly gotten him executed a number of times. That core of Raizo had struck a cord within Dorian. So his decision was made and Dorian became a member of Raizo's Irregulars.

    The southern side of Stahlhaven was nearly silent. Fewer bands of Orks were roaming around. Most were more interested in defacing the buildings by painting ugly glyphs in their crude language on the once white walls of hab-apartments, or destroying statues of Imperial heroes and saints that had lined the streets. Part of Dorian wanted to lash out and kill every Ork he could find in the city. It was hard, watching what had once been an innocent, God-Emperor fearing town reduced to this level. Suffer not the Xenos to live. The thought pulsed through his mind like a never ending cadence.

    Dorian ducked into an alleyway as a group of Orks trundled past, some of them grunting and gesturing with their weapons. Using a water vane, Dorian crawled up the wall of the building he was beside and smoothly slid atop the roof. The building was two-stories tall and offered him a good view of the southern side of town. Using his manufactured muscles he crossed from roof-top to roof-top, more like a dancing acrobat than a combat soldier. A sudden sound made him halt in his tracks.

    It had been a human scream.

    Dorian moved to the edge of the building he was on and slipped down to his belly, so that only the top of his head poked out as he looked down. Below him was a small courtyard, roughly thirty meters across. Shops surrounded the cobblestone area, their windows broken and their displays of merchandise looted. However, it was the spectacle in the center of the courtyard that drew his eye. More than two dozen humans, civilians by their dress, were bound together in chains. A dozen Orks surrounded them, laughing in guttural tones and pointing out those that were the most distressed like it was a comedic play.

    A pair of gretchin stood by with a mobile blast furnace, the type that a blacksmith might use to repair simple farm tools. An old man was held down before them by a large, ugly brute of an Ork. A high pitched and shrill laugh spat forth from a gretchin as it pulled out a white-hot poker from the furnace, the metal shaped in the manner of a large claw. Without giving the old man time to even scream the gretchin pressed the brand onto the old man's back between the shoulder blades. The old man didn't even yell out, he simply fell unconscious such was the amount of pain that rolled through his beaten body.

    The Ork that had been holding the old man down got up and dragged the unconscious body over to a group of humans that were all writhing in pain, watched by another pair of Orks who looked down at them with inhuman hatred and laughter. Dorian slid back from his perch. There was nothing he could do for those poor souls. The Emperor would look after their souls. He had a mission to complete after all. Just as he was getting up to move forward again, another voice rose up.

    “Please! Not my baby! Not my child!” a woman screamed.

    Dorian went back and looked. A bloody and dirtied woman was hunched down and trying to shelter with her body the small form of a child. It was a little girl with long blonde pigtails, dirty from blood and dirt like her mother. Her face was perfect, like an angel carved on the sides of the great Ecclesiarch cathedrals on the great hive worlds that Dorian had moved across in his former life. Large, amber and gold-colored eyes looked up without fear, without any emotion. Dorian couldn't look away.

    The Ork that had been dragging humans back and forth from the branding forge grunted in confusion and impatience. It had better things to do than stick around here dragging a bunch of humans around. He would much rather be off with the other boyz wrecking this pathetic town and drinking until he was too drunk to stand. He lifted the woman off her feet by the hair on her head, causing the woman to cry out -- the small child she had held back falling to the ground. With a contemptuous twist of his wrist, the Ork plunged a large serrated knife into the woman's abdomen and sliced upwards into her rib cage. The woman's cries fell silent instantly and she hung bleeding like a stuck pig.

    Roaring aloud with laughter the Ork tossed the dead body to the side. It was a waste of a good slave, but then there were plenty more where that woman had come from. The Ork turned and looked down at the small child that the woman had been sheltering. The girl-child was staring at her mother's corpse, a single large bead of a tear falling down her cheek. The Ork laughed again and reached down to grab the child. Or would have, except there was a loud crack and his gnarled hand was replaced by a ruined stump. The Ork roared in pain and his dozen fellows all around him suddenly roared as well in surprise. What was happening?

    Dorian steadied his aim and pulled the trigger of his laspistol with a calm, cold fury. Reckless anger never got a man anywhere, and Dorian had learned to suppress his emotions at need, or use them to his advantage. He used them now as he sent two more blasts from his laspistol into the Ork's face that had been reaching for the little girl. The Ork fell dead, its head obliterated. As quick as a pressured spring Dorian launched himself down the side of the building he had been perched upon and came down upon the Orks like thunder.

    Several of the Orks had begun firing wildly, their aim off but their reflexes almost matching Dorian's. Several of the civilians cried out in pain as stray bullets wetly smacked into their flesh. Dorian used his laspistol to blast the heads off of three Orks closest to him. The rest simply charged forwards, large cleavers raised over their heads. The pair of gretchin that had been running the branding machine scrambled over to a pair of stolen Guard-issue lasguns.

    Dorian employed all of his skills in this fight. He twisted and turned like quicksilver as the Orks attacked, swinging their cleavers with great speed. They were outmatched by Dorian's hatred and assassin-enhanced agility. He ducked beneath a great swipe, and lunged with his combat knife, cutting the wrist tendons of one of his opponents. The Ork fell back in pain, dropping his cleaver to grip his forearms. Another Ork behind him growled angrily and cut the wounded Ork's head off so it could get into the action faster.

    An Ork swept forwards and brought his cleaver down in a great strike. Dorian stepped inside the Ork's swing and pressed the barrel of his laspistol to the beast's chin. It had a bare second to comprehend what had just happened when a white-hot bolt of las fire blew its head away in a fine mist of blood. The body fell back and caused another Ork to stumbled as it tried to make its way forward into combat. Dorian didn't paused as he ran up the falling body like a ramp and jumped on top of the stumbling Ork, driving his war knife down into the base of the creature's neck like a rail spike. With a quick twist and slice, the Ork fell forwards completely paralyzed with a cut spinal cord.

    Dorian didn't stop moving. If he did, he knew he would be dead. He had more speed than the Orks, but they certainly had more raw strength. He used that to his advantage as he rolled across the ground between two other Orks, causing them to cut one another as they both swung down to hit him. They howled in rage and pain, anger causing them to forget Dorian and attack one another. The larger of the pair managed to drive his cleaver into the other's sternum and roared triumphantly. Dorian blasted the Ork's face into a side of mutilated meat.

    Two las bolts blasted the side of a building, passing within a meter of Dorian. He turned to see the two gretchin aiming their oversized lasgun rifles at him. While Orks may have terrible aim, their smaller kin were known to be much, much better. Continuing to rely on his instincts and agility, Dorian spun through the air over the sweep of another cleaver, putting himself between another ork and the gretchin. Two blasts of las fire slammed into the beasts back, killing it as it's chest exploded outward. Dorian dipped to the side of the falling ork and sent two quick shots from his laspistol, taking both the gretchin in the face.

    The courtyard became silent.

    The orks and gretchin were all dead. Only the sound of a few cowering civilians filtered through the night air. They looked upon Dorian in horror and fear, as if he were some avatar of the God-Emperor's fury made flesh. He picked up a cleaver and brought it down on top of their chains, cutting them loose. Those that could walk picked themselves up and ran away without a word. Dorian let them go, their lives were in their own hands once again.

    The little girl was still sitting where she had been five minutes before. She was still staring at her mother's corpse.

    Dorian walked over to his and crouched down to that his eyes were level with hers. She starred at his glowing blue eyes, slightly confused. Her mouth opened but no words came out. Her eyes tightened and her entire body shuddered. Even speaking seemed too much for her. Dorian put his hand on her head and stroked her hair, letting his palm rest against her cheek.

    “No need to fear little one,” Dorian said. “I shall take care of you.”

    The little girl nodded. She recognized a protector when she saw one. Her mother hadn't been strong enough. Her father had died weeks before in the initial invasion. She had been through hell. Now this black angel had descended from the night shadows and rescued her. She gripped Dorian's hand and fiercely hugged it. She didn't want to ever let go, feeling as safe as she did now.

    Dorian tapped his vox bead, keying in to the command frequency. “Captain, can you hear me?”

    You're signal is a bit weak but you are coming in fine enough, Sergeant. What is your progress?” replied Captain Raizo.

    “I've hit a little hitch, sir.”

  2. #2


    Part Three

    I shall not spend another moment listening to this drivel. I do not care how many of those worthless scum die. I want that position taken! Now!
    -- Lord General Argyle von Dharmast, Battle of Sevastapol [Official Imperial dead: 45,987; Estimated: 189,451]


    Hive City Neustadt, Capital of Granheim

    Rain was falling across the city's massive spires like a thick carpet. Even the dawning sun could not break through the thick clouds, fueled as it was by the local manufacotums that churned out copious amounts of black smog into the air. The acidic rain caused the metal of the city spires to turn red with rust or tarnished metal where the paint had been peeled away. It was a very dreary hive city, made more so by the fact that a horde of perhaps eighty thousand Orks was hellbent on entering and sacking it.

    Lord General Argyle stared out at the cityscape with a complete lack of interest, both in the scenery and in the lives of the Imperial citizens that were inhabiting it. There were only sixty million hivers here, hardly even a quarter of a percentage of the total population of the surrounding worlds. If Neustadt fell, it would not be sorely missed. The only use that the Lord General had for the city was that it gave him a base of operations, allowed him access to his supply lines with the Imperial Navy via the spaceport, and that its Planetary Defense forces were good enough fodder to use to fill up his 79th Army Group's ranks.

    “I find it funny,” said an oily voice behind Argyle's shoulder, “that the vast majority of the citizenry here call you a hero. To think that the commander of the Imperial Guard sent here to Granheim would be so disinterested in the outcome of its existence.” A small cackle sounded.

    Argyle did not turn to address the speaker. “Please do keep your tongue between your teeth. You never know when a servant might be nearby to speak of our conversations later. It would be very bad for the recruitment stations to be suddenly empty of eager young men and women to serve in the PDF units.”

    “Ah, yes...can't do what we came here to do without enough fodder to feed the grinder,” replied the voice, closer this time.

    “If I recall, it was your original idea to use them in that fashion. I was quite confidant that my army could handle this operation. Keeping a pretense is all good and well, but I find it insufferable and wasteful,” commented Argyle, turning his head ever so slightly to his right.

    Argyle was an old man, half-way into his second century of life. He had been an officer of the Imperial Guard his entire life. He had been the third son of the Imperial Governor of a world that played host to one of the largest Schola Progenium facilities in the sector. Since he would not inherit his father's wealth and power he had entered the Imperial Guard and quickly rose through the ranks using his own ambition and the money his family had available. He had been 27 when he had received the rank of general, and 34 when he received the rank of lord general. However none of it ever pleased him. Argyle had always wanted more...and he would have it, one way or another.

    Whereas Argyle was an old and graying, if dignified, looking aristocrat that fit his position to the letter -- the man beside him was everything but.

    The man beside Argyle was deceptively young looking. Broad shoulders were weighed down by the blast coat of aged leather that he wore. Black, very expensive clothing lie underneath. A power sword with an ornate hilt was sheathed at his side, and a large bolt pistol on the other hip. The man's hair was raven black and formed a stark widows peak. His face was angles and edges, severe and frightening, and demanding of respect and subservience. However, it was his eyes that always made Argyle the most uncomfortable. They were completely black. No iris or white surroundings. Utterly and completely black. The lord general had thought him blind the first time he had been introduced to the man and had been quite perturbed to discover otherwise.

    However it was what hung from the man's neck that drew the most fear and respect from others. Hanging from a thick, gold chain was a stylized 'I' with a skull at its center. The emblem of the Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition.

    “Well that may be true,” agreed Inquisitor Malcus. “However it suits our need of deception. If we are to retrieve the artifact without a fuss, then we must play our side show convincingly. To distract both the orks and other preying eyes...”

    “I'm taking a great risk here Inquisitor,” said Argyle, turning and and letting his gray eyes rest on the Inquisitor's. “The benefits you first mentioned when we agreed to our deal had better be forthcoming.”

    “Do not fear that you will not gain your reward, my good Lord General,” smiled Malcus, revealing a row of perfect white teeth. “I assure you that once the artifact is within my possession, you will be awarded a sector governorship. More wealth and power than you could ever imagine.”

    “I don't know,” Argyle smiled cruelly. “I can imagine quite a bit. And I don't like to be kept waiting.”

    “I trust that your method for gaining our prize is capable?” asked Malcus, looking out over the city and changing the subject.

    “If that poor excuse of a Kasrkin captain can't retrieve it after what I promised, the reward his men would receive when they returned with it, then no one will,” smirked Argyle. "For all that he deserves a bolt to the back of the head, Razio and his band of misfits get results."
    Last edited by Katharon; 08-17-2013 at 12:56 AM.

  3. #3


    Part Four

    "Never forget the innocence of thy youth, lest thy fury overtake thee."
    - Attributed to Saint Justine of Castus VII


    “Frakking frak! That throne-be-damned idiot! Chaos-spawned frakker!” Captain Raizo cursed to himself over and over again as he mentally pictured himself ripping Sergeant Dorian's arms off and beating him to death with the stubs. It was a tempting idea, though Raizo knew that even on his best day he would be hard pressed to take down the former assassin. And besides, Dorian was loyal to Raizo before anything else, as well as a good soldier.


    "Certainly shows the diversity of the word," grinned Harkens.

    Lieutenants Harken and Westphal exchanged looks. It usually took a lot to get the captain angry. He was already a volatile man to begin with and he commonly cursed and yelled at men for little things even though everyone knew it was just his way and nothing serious. However, now his veins were pulsing and he looked as if he could bite through a plate of iron by the way his jaw was set. This did not bode well for Sergeant Dorian.

    Raizo's company had made its way forward, using the cover of darkness to make their way south-east to the southern side of the city where Dorian's directions had led them. With the main ork force camped to the north of the city and the city itself infested with the orks, going south around it was the only solution. Dorian had reported that only a few small groups of orks were in the area and most were heading north of the city, attracted by the burning buildings and tell-tale signs of destruction in the process.

    Harkens moved forward with his platoon, fifty men, towards the embankment of the River Ryne. The city of Stahlhaven was two miles north and the smoke from flaming buildings was enough that Harkens could feel his lungs beginning to protest. It angered him to see the city burning. His anger kept telling his mind that he needed to turn around and go kill the xenos that were responsible, but his training new better.

    He signaled his men to halt and take a knee as they reached the embankment. Dorian's reconnaissance squad had gone ahead to meet their erstwhile leader and Harkens watched as a small slip of ambient light flashed in coded sequence. Harkens clicked his vox bead, sending the signal across his platoon's channel. By squad they moved down the embankment. The river itself was over twenty meters across. Harken's platoon had made a human chain across the ford.

    “Alright you dogs, get across before I die of old age,” growled Harkens. Hellgun rifles raised above heads, the platoon began moving across. Harkens waited on the riverside, urging his men into the water to make them go faster. He turned when he heard footsteps behind him and looked up to see Westphal and Raizo. Raizo's command squad was acting as overwatch and rearguard while Westphal's men moved up to join the queue behind Harkens' men. Raizo was chewing furiously on a piece of dried meat from a ration pack. The captain never smoked or chewed tabac like a lot of other Guardsmen, instead settling for any kind of chewy food that found itself inside a ration pack. Now that Harkens thought about it he had never seen the captain sit down to a full meal.

    “I'm going to wring his neck, make no mistake,” grumbled Raizo like a bear.

    “I'm sure he had his reasons,” replied Westphal.

    “Reasons?” Raizo turned and glared at Westphal. Harkens' soundless warning to keep his mouth shut had gone unnoticed by his fellow lieutenant. “We're on a frakking mission behind enemy lines! I don't need my best soldier weighed down by some civie brat.”

    Westphal shrugged ever so slightly and let the conversation fall. Raizo went back to mumbling and cursing under his breath. Half an hour later the entire company had made it across the river, with Raizo being the last man to cross. To his profound confusion he found most of the company in a large circle. He pushed his way through, seeing ludicrous smiles and grins on most of their faces. Raizo finally pulled himself through the throng and found Sergeant Dorian with a small, doll-like girl sitting in his lap happily eating away at a ration bar. A few of the other troopers were offering small bars of chocolate or crackers that came with their own ration packs. The small girl smile beatifically and took a bar of chocolate from Corporal Allen, one of the fiercest soldiers in Raizo's company. Raizo was shocked. The grizzled veteran was smiling like a child receiving a gift on Emperor's Day.

    “Just what the frak is going on here?” Raizo half-yelled, half-growled. The men around him immediately stiffened to attention. “1st platoon, make a perimeter, 2nd platoon break out rations and take a ten minute meal, reconnaissance squad on me for a sit-rep. Move!”

    The men scrambled in all directions with looks on their faces as if they'd been caught committing a sin in front of a Ecclesiarch priest. Sergeant Dorian had risen to his feet and was now holding the girl in one arm. The girl clung to him tighter than a riveted bolt on the side of a Leman Russ. Her eyes looked fearfully at Raizo. They were stunning eyes.

    “Captain,” greeted Dorian, making a salute with his free hand.

    “Sergeant, do you know the meaning of the phrase 'mission priorities' and what it means for us at this moment?” asked Raizo, glaring up at the taller man.

    Raizo was a peculiar man in that he was only four inches above five feet in height. He was the shortest man in the entire stormtrooper company. His skin was a browned-yellowish in tint. His eyes were almond shape and the color such a shade of dark brown that they appeared black. No one knew what world he came from, only that he was one of the fiercest and skilled soldiers that most of the stormtroopers had ever seen -- a fact that not many Cadian kasrkin would be willing to admit. So it was amusing to onlookers to see the shorter captain speaking up to the tall, lanky sergeant.

    “Yes sir,” replied Dorian. “But you must understand sir. I could not leave her behind to be slaughtered by the orks. They were herding surviving civilians together to use as slaves.”

    “By the Golden Throne! We have another seventy or more kilometers of marching to do before we even reach our objective,” Raizo growled. “How do you expect me to take responsibility for a child?”

    “You won't have to, sir. I will.”

    Raizo was about to argue back when he caught the look in Dorian's eye. It was the look of a man that said he would either get his way or you would have to shoot him. As much as Raizo was tempted, Dorian was far too good a soldier to be wasted in that fashion. Besides, Raizo respected the man and had even befriended the erstwhile sergeant in the six years that Dorian had been part of his company of black sheep.

    “Listen here then,” said Raizo, putting as much flame and steel into his tone. “If that girl compromises our mission or gets in the frakking way, I will not shed a tear to have her removed. Get me sergeant?”

    “Crystal clear sir,” replied Dorian, looking happy.

    “Now wipe that ridiculous smile off your face and get moving with your squad. I want to know what is in front of us for the next ten klicks,” ordered Raizo.

    Dorian set the girl down and clasped her hand. He smiled down at her and started leading her forward with him. “Let's go Celestine.”

    “Is that her name?” asked Raizo, suddenly curious.

    “It is the one I gave her,” replied Dorian. “She cannot speak her own name, so I gave her a new one.”

    Raizo watched in a bit of befuddlement as Dorian turned and walked off with his squad towards the East perimeter, to the direction that they would soon be following. The girl tied her arms around the man's neck and stared back at Raizo. Those eyes made Raizo feel sheepish and uncomfortable at the same time.

    "I hope this doesn't affect the mission," sighed Raizo, giving up. "Ave Imperator."


    Dawn brought with it the stifling heat. Adding to the profuse amount of fires that had brought most of the city to ashes within a few days, the day's heat only served to make things more miserable. For the human slaves that were being chained and dragged away in teams by squealing Gretchen, it was a living hell. To the Ork overseers who where trying desperately to get things moving quickly, bellowing cries into the air to get their charges to move faster, it was just another warm day.

    The heat however allowed the stench of death to carry with greater strength.

    Warboss Rotruk Skull-kicker's nose twitched as the beast breathed in the stench of death. The gargantuan ork warboss stood in the center of the plaza where more than a dozen of his boyz and smaller pukes had been slaughtered. Because of all the partying and celebrating that his boyz had been having the previous night, no one had heard any gunshots and come looking for a good fight. Rotruk regretted not having sent a few of his 'Nobs out to make sure the city was empty of those filthy humie soldiers.

    Whoever was responsible for killing off a dozen of his boyz they had not gotten away totally without notice however.

    “Eh, boss, wat'are we gonna do now?” grunted Azgor, the head 'Nob of Rotruk's bodyguard.

    “We're gonna follow the humies, dat's wut we're gonna do,” growled Rotruk. “If only one humie can do 'tis much killin' then we should be in for one gud fight.”

    “How we'z gonna find 'dem?”

    Rotruk sniffed the air and leaned down. He picked up a small doll, shaped like a humie. He grinned, the massive tusks in his mouth scrapping across his iron chin clamp as he did so.

    “We'z gonna follow the smell.”



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