The crackle came over the vox as Keeghan sat back down. “Launching.” The bay rumbled with the roar of engines and hundreds of bulk landers took off from the bay. The AA was a bit lighter, as they had other things to worry about, like the Navy ships that had taken position to defend the troop ship, from the chaos foe.
Screaming through the atmosphere the ships spread out, some were hit, most made it through. Pilots desperately trying to bring their wounded birds in safely so the grunts could disembark. As soon as the ramp dropped Keeghan ordered everyone out, not that he needed to. “Fix bayonets!”
Gek, gek, gek. He thought to himself, this wasn’t their kind of combat. They weren’t an assault unit, or a line regiment. They were an Asymmetric Warfare regiment. They didn’t get involved in direct attacks, but they didn’t have a choice. Keeghan pointed at a bunker and wall section on the right and barked an order. “CHARGE! TAKE THAT BUNKER AND WALL! WE’LL MOVE AMONGST THEM AFTER THAT! NO PRISONERS!”
(So this is going to be largely a one-off thing just to establish what my elements have been doing, As such it`s going to be long and wont -quite- fit the chronology of these events. Suffice it to say that I’ll leave the details of how to slot this into the organizer)
Gallus rested with his eyes closed, in one of the loading bays of the many landers which made up his particular section of the assault.
"Sarge! Sarge the enemy is right on top of us, we can’t contact the rest of the platoon! What should we do?"
Gallus, wearing a ruined off-colour and bleached pinkish uniform with gold braid, said nothing, but instead aimed his weapon at the guardsman in front of him.
"Our orders havent changed."
"We hold our position until ordered otherwise." Gallus said his hands slightly shaking; his bloodshot eyes opened wide and staring at the soldier in front of him. His soldier.
"Gek this, The Claudian regiment can shove one up their pompous incompetent asses. I’m leavin! There’s only the goddamn two of left out here, we wont make a single goddamn difference! Maybe if you actually led your men we’d stand a chance! I have a better one with the goddamn commissars in the rear lines!"
The guardsman pushed past Gallus and dashed down a communication trench winding back to the Imperial’s second line.
Gallus slowly turned around. Despite the panoply of war around it all, the sound of a single lasgun discharge echoed through the front.
"Hey Cap, I thought we were shooting blue guys. But everyone else in the company says we’re fightin chaos rebels or somethin’ that can’t be true, I thought we took this deal so we wouldnt have to shoot at crazy anymore."
A few of the other troopers in Gallus’ command squad started shouting insults at the man who spoke up.
"Gekkin’ moron. We were briefed, the feth were you doin’ during the ops meetings? We’re in a crusade you fuckin’ rag!"
"God emperor and his saints its dumbasses like you that got us into this mess Krag. Let the goddamn col-er, ‘Cap get his rest."
Krag lifted up his hands.
"Ho-lee shit, you fuckin people are tighter than a Canonness. Besides, to answer your question, I’ll have you know I was scorin’ some with Ilya. God emperor blessed ‘er with a body to kill for. Come this killin’ season, I’m gonna pop these sons of bitches fer her."
"What the gek?! Ilya was mine, goddamnit Krag once this fethin drop is over I’m gonna-"
Gallus slammed the butt of his rifle on the lander’s floor.
"If you stupid sons of bitches dont shut the fuck up and let me get some sleep during this landing I am going to make you do PT -inside- of a latrine until your bodies are as full of shit as your heads are. Remember the tac briefing: hit the beach, and advance until we own the beaches. Classic landing. I dont want to see anyone fall behind. The longer we sit with our asses hanging in the wind the more of us are gonna die, and god emperor damn it I’ve gotten too used to your ugly mugs to watch ‘em get pulped."
"Eighty-eight all the way, sir. ‘Till we die."
Twenty-first, Krag. Remember that.”
Krag grunted and checked his autogun one more time.
As it happened the former members of the 4th landed some ways off from Keeghan and his group. It appeared at a glance to be a kind of flank, though Gallus was unsure if that was just him; it was entirely possible other guard units were being dropped outside of his visual range.
Not that he had time to think of that
In the universal visual language of “Keep fucking moving you grunts” Gallus pointed forward with his lascarbine in one hand, and gestured for the men and women of his company to follow up with his other.
No one needed a vox to know exactly what they were in for.
The first minutes were the worst: caught between multiple interlocking fields of fire from heavy bolters, lasguns, the odd multi-laser set up watching the approach and even a lascannon shot or two, droves of men, both Gallus’ own or from the 21st et all were shot down.
While some of the 21st thronged around anti tank hedgehogs or scraps of dead armor and crashed landers, Gallus’ people moved with machine-like precision, the former men and women of the 88th and 4th having seen much, much worse than a sturdy reinforced position. They were only human of course, and the tragedies of war played out as one anticipated them to: Sergant Schultz, an old and much loved unit leader’s torso exploded to a lucky bolt round. Guardsmen Eliza and Kent, two of the company’s musicians, were flayed alive by concentrated las fire, which tore their limbs and bodies to pieces, apparently having been set to high power by the chaos forces on top of the cliff.
But the troops remained unfazed.
These were the men and women who conquered the Slab. Who endured re-training on a hellish deathworld under mordian schooling, who landed in hot-zones surrounded by literal demons from hell, forces of chaos so dire and cruel that normal men’s minds would waver and wash away from the sheer bile of it.
No, Gallus’ company, accompanied shortly but Quintus’ men, did not break in the slightest.
Not that the savlars were particularly inadequate by comparison, but there was a world of difference between a storm trooper and a common chem-dog, especially here, where willpower and indomitable courage and toughness far outweighed cunning.
The savlar contingents of the companies as such fared less adequately. Some, like their brethren, took to clinging to what scant ‘cover’ the beach provided, pinned down and broken.
Others remained bunched up, hoping to find strength and security in packs which made for easy targetting by enemy guns. Much unlike the men of the fourth, who within minutes were taking positions and organizing themselves to scale the sea-wall, these troops remained under the gaze of the bunkers heavy guns and well within the enemy’s mortar target zone.
Gallus tried several times to salvage the savlars, even shot one or two for cowardice, but couldnt be bothered to baby-sit those men. The ones that did follow lived considerably longer, more violent lives in the emperors service. Those few who remained who chose to violate their commanding officers orders wished that Gallus had given them the mercy of a swift execution, as they were slowly killed by enemy snipers and shrapnel wounds, mortar shells raining down upon them, steeped in the ranks of dead friends.
At the bunkers and sea-wall itself, Gallus organized teams largely non-verbally through a series of gestures to unit leaders. He assigned four men fire teams to attempt to scale the wall, with the front soldier given a carbine of some sort, and unit leaders made to be the last man up. Overall in his company alone about twenty ropes were succesfully launched up towards enemy battlements: chaos attempts to fire over the ridge or disrupt the rope lines were ended by volleys of sniper and rifle fire from the ground level, which were infinitely more accurate than whatever the enemy was doing. Occasionally there would be a stubber nest planted to watch over the section of sea-wall being scaled, or worse, there were subtly hidden cave-sections with firing slits for enemy guns. For the former, grenade launchers, the odd man portable rocket, or snipers managed to keep enemy gunners off of the weapons enough to avert heavy casualties, but it was the latter that proved more menacing, as surprise shots would rip at the climbing troops and then disperse.
Krag, leading one of the foremost groups, took a las-burn to the shoulder, and replied by tossing an incendiary grenade into the firing slit: something his colleagues and soon the rest of the fourth repeated with fragmentary and incendiary grenades of their own. Enemy presence from within the caves dissipated considerably as a result.
Quintus, for what it was worth, was organizing his own groups arguably better than Gallus had: instead of grouping his heavy hitting veterans up front, the men of the fourth shock were positioned behind the savlar troops in his company- with their bayonets pointed at the savlars backs. As such, although somewhat cruel Quintus prevented large swaths of his own savlar units from dying as Gallus’ troops had, although the savlars became slightly confused once Quintus’ troops reached the sea-wall, and thus needed to be hand holded or otherwise relegated to rear echelons while troops began their ascent; actions which cost Quintus a bit of time and allowed larger numbers of hostiles to crowd around the sea-wall ridge and fire downwards, as well as populate the interior caverns. As such Quintus was slower in his climb, as his troops made sure to grenade every firing slit in their climb that they saw, and fighting a running battle between the men atop the ridgeline-who were far less intent on giving ground.
Soon enough Gallus’ vanguards crested the top of the sea-wall and began engaging chaos forces in close order melee. Trusting the men he had sent ahead, Gallus was the first man to climb up after them, shouting for the rest of the men to falll in and do the same. Lines of troops, like insects, now quickly scaled the sea-wall, scrambing over the top.
When they arrived, Gallus found Krag’s dead body, surrounded by scores of traitorous troops. With very quick, simple commands Gallus immediately ordered the men to breach and clear the surrounding fortifications, and to especially get out of range of any potential rear-echelon defensive formations the enemy might have had in store. Gallus was adamant about protecting his troops from enemy armor, and instead advocated a brief respite, occupying only the frontal areas of the enemy’s top trenches while skilled fire teams stacked up and cleared out bunkers, often throwing grenades in first and asking questions later. From the beaches it would be clear that Gallus’ assault was going well as the entire cliffs seemed to become engulfed in prometheum, as regimental flamers gleefully cooked traitor survivors in their holes. Seeing the bravery of their fellows, many savlars, both of Gallus’ group and assorted other troopers caught out of position on this section of beach sprung forward and sprinted for the ropes, freed from suppressive fire at last.
The last portion of the assault was, as Gallus saw it, repelling the inevitable enemy counter attack, and ensuring that secondary defensive lines were taken to prevent further digging in. Much to his satisfaction however, enemy armor was largely not present; it was clear that chaos forces were in retreat, as captured enemy hydra flak batteries were desperately wheeled away as screening forces of enemy grunts were cut down with little effort in their inland positions.
Having secured his own area, and moved to clear out and assist Quintus’ troops, Gallus began to vox regimental command, awaiting new orders, as Imperial regimental banners were fixed atop the massive chaos pillboxes, in place of their eight sided stars, which were discarded and tossed to the ground below.
In all, while casualties were high, the company veterans came out largely intact, and as far as Quintus’ troop was concerned, only around 10% of his total fighting strength shed blood in the assault; a miraculous number, even if gained through deliberate antagonization of his companies relations between the old veterans and the new savlars. Gallus decided he wouldnt lecture him on it. Quintus’ solution was infinitely preferable to Gallus’ own, and had saved lives. Maybe the old colonel had a few things to learn from his young protege after all.
Regardless, it was a clear victory: demonstrated no better than a large body of his troops breaking for lunch in the enemy trench, while a platoon or so probed further inland, cautiously examining tree-lines and ruins for movement.