Battle 1: Encounter at Carrae Manufactorum

The ruined brick building of the local administratum lay ahead. A single stone island among a sea of corroded pipes, charred metal silos and crumbled remains of boarded up wooden shacks. What would have once been a bustling area of industry was now deserted and eerily quiet. Deeper in to the abandoned manufactorum the burned-out silhouette of a communication relay station could be seen against the darkening horizon, it’s blackened dish staring off in to the empty sky.

The armored patrol came to a halt at the edge of the administratum building and the rear hatch of the Razorback transport Erymanthius lowered itself steadily and with almost no sound. Brother Kothar, techmarine of the Salamander Armoury, got up from his command chair and walked out of the confining vehicle, speaking words of patience and reassurance to the three brothers in its rear hold as he passed them. They were more for his own benefit than theirs. While the three warriors were established company veterans, he himself was still new to the role of command. Brother sergeant Cerrop, leader of the small veteran squad Forge Tenders, joined Kothar outside of the transport. It didn’t take long for the two sergeants of the tactical squads marching alongside Erymanthius to join the impromptu meeting as well.

Kothar quickly glanced at each of his sergeant brothers before speaking. “Anything to report?”

Brother Sergeant Maher, leader of Chain squad, spoke up first. “We haven’t seen anything, but auspex scans confirm movement further up.”

“One of my men claims to have seen shadows moving closer to the relay station. I advise to continue on with extreme caution.” The Sword squad’s Sergeant, Brother Tarssen, kept his hand on the hilt of his power sword as he spoke.

Kothar agreed. The time for decisions had come and for the first time it all came down to him. “Alright. This part of the manufactorum grounds seems as good as any. The objective is clear, secure the area, sweep for enemy forces and clear them out. Brother Sergeant Maher, take your squad and secure the upper floor of the administratum building. Brother Sergeant Tarssen, follow Erymantius along the southern flank towards the relay station. We’ll clear the way, you secure the area! The Forge Tenders will remain with me inside of the transport until needed.”


All officers nodded before heading out to their respective squads. A few minutes later all reported in on the vox. “For Vulkan, ready.”

Kothar signaled the driver to proceed deeper in to the manufactorum zone as he answered his brothers, “proceed, on to the anvil of war”.


1

It appeared their short parley had cost them dearly. As the patrol readied itself to push ahead the enemy got the drop on them. A dark xenos ship, propelled in to the air by unknowable alien gravity engines, raced from the shadows and opened fire on Chain Squad as they took up defensive positions inside of the administratum building, effectively pinning them down. The xenos airship was bustling with both ranged weapons and hooked blades and chains. Almost a dozen dark clad warriors stood on its open deck or hung from the sides of the hull to add their weapons’ fire to that of their vehicle.


Kothar was listening to Brother Sergeant Maher’s report when Erymanthius’ auspex picked up incoming hostiles from above. 5 winged humanoids with armor similarly to the warriors on the flying ship, descended from the sky, weapons trained on the razorback. Thankfully, the transport’s crew reacted quickly. Both the twinned heavy bolter and the stormbolter swung towards the approaching threat and opened fire. While most projectiles missed their targets, the heavy stream of explosive metal made sure at least some hit, raking away the feathers of one of the xenos’ wings and granting it a much rougher landing than it had anticipated. At the same time, before the surviving enemies could open fire, Erymanthius’ driver activated the vehicle’s smoke emitters, creating a concealing smoke screen.


Kothar and the three members of the veteran squad Forge Tenders could do nothing but wait as enemy fire rained down on the armored hull of their transport. After a few seconds the sounds of gunfire lessened somewhat. Erymanthius had survived the enemy’s initial onslaught. Emerging from the smokescreen the transport moved closer to the 4 surviving flying xenos and opened fire again. This time the rain of bolter fire took down three warriors. The last one, faced with its four wounded comrades took to the sky once again.


Meanwhile, Chain squad was trying to take down the xenos ship hovering in front of the administratum building. They found their bolt guns mostly ineffective against the vehicle’s tough hull. As the three marines’ firing line backed away from the opening in the wall, brother Dracek shuffled to the front. He braced while his heavy bolter spun up. The heavy weapon’s projectiles raked across the hovering hull, chipping away dark paint and punching through the weaker sections. After a few seconds of fire brother Dracek moved back. The ship was still there, showing no real worse for wear. The penetrating bolts had failed to hit any vital area.


Further south brother sergeant Tarssen lead Sword squad closer to the center of the engagement, hoping to lend his firepower to that of his brothers in Chain squad. Their bolters proved equally ineffective against the ship but he was counting on his squad’s missile launcher. Waving brother Keln to the front he called out. “Take it out! Now!” Brother Keln shouldered the launcher and felt the autoloader shove a missile in to the tube. He squeezed the trigger. The missile surged from the weapon, streaking towards the xenos ship, leaving a trail of black smoke in its wake. It hit the cursed vehicle square on the prow. The explosion was bright and deafening, but as the smoke cleared it was still there. The prow was blackened and a few small fires could be seen on deck, but no debilitating damage had been done.


2


The xenos started pushing back. The ship and its riders opened fire on brother Maher and Chain squad. Their aim more accurate than before, two marines were hit and were wounded, unable to continue the fight.


To the south 5 tall lithe warriors bearing ornamental curved blades emerged from behind a shack and charged the razorback. Accompanying them was a female warrior. She strode behind her troops with confidence and an air of malice Kothar had rarely encountered. While initially confident no mere sword could penetrate Erymanthius’ armor, Kothar was quickly proven wrong. The 5 warriors sliced in to the hull, cutting through completely and damaging key systems.

Erymanthius’ driver turned to Kothar to deliver the verdict he had come to on his own. “We are disabled. It will take more repairs than we can do in the field to get him working again.”. Nodding in understanding Kothar got up from his command chair to turn towards his veteran squad. Brother sergeant Cerrop and his Forge Tenders were already up, securing their helmets and readying their weapons. “On to the anvil, in to the fires”


Kothar and the Forge Tenders charged from the broken razorback, expecting to meet the xenos warriors. They had moved on however and were now inching towards the center of the battlefield in order to meet Sword squad and secure the area.


A few men down, brother sergeant Maher still hoped the heavy weapons of both tactical squads could take down the xenos vehicle that was hurting them. Both brother Dracek’s heavy bolter and brother Keln’s missile launcher opened up on the ship once again and although it took heavy damage, it was still airborne.


Seeing his brothers defending themselves while at bad odds Kothar doubted. Should he order the Forge Tenders to engage or move on to secure the relay station as was the original plan? The promethean code was clear! The fires of battle forged and hardened a warrior or broke him. That is what it meant to be part of the Salamanders. He ordered the veterans to advance towards the objective and joined them.


As the 5 dark warriors approached, brother Tarssen ordered a charge. While not equipped with many melee weapons, he knew his brother’s enhanced strength could easily break most xenos’ bones. The center of the battlefield was littered with debris from previous engagements. The 5 marines easily rushed through or jumped across these obstacles to reach their enemy. The bladed warriors met their charge with equal ferocity. Their blades easily deflected the squad’s attack and proved that they could cut through their battleplates as easily as through razorback armor. One by one the brothers fell, their wounds great enough to push them in to a sus-an coma. Mere seconds after their charge, Sword squad was down.


3


Sensing the heart of the battle had moved south, the xenos ship moved away from the administratum and trained its weapons on the Forge Tenders veterans. Dozens of energy blasts and projectiles cut in to the three warriors and Kothar could do nothing but stand and watch as his friends and brothers fell at his feet, unmoving. Not long after, an alien war cry cut through the sound of battle and the 5 warriors charged Kothar. Knowing the odds were against him and that he had failed his brothers as a leader he opened up on the approaching enemies with all he had. Liquid promethium rushed out of the relic flamer Nocturne’s Vengeance and caught fire as it coated three of the five charging combatants. The remaining two sliced at him with more vigor than ever and their leader joined the fray mere moments later. As he lay on the ground, fighting a losing battle against his body to remain awake, he could see the bodies of his fallen brothers all around him.


Back at the administratum, the remaining members of Chain squad could see their brothers fall across the battlefield. Brother sergeant Maher addressed at his squad mates without fear. “This battle is lost. We shall know no fear brothers and we shall fight to our last breath. For Vulcan and the Emperor.” His brothers echoed those last words and brother Dracek moved up to the breached wall once more while securing another feed belt in his heavy bolter. “Let’s see how many more bolts it will take to scrap that damned ship.”


4-5


The threat of brother Dracek’s heavy bolter forced the xenos vessel to move away, out of firing range. The combined firing power of all remaining enemies tore through the old administratum building and it wasn’t long before only brother sergeant Maher remained conscious.


Aftermath


Within the ruins of the administratum building brother sergeant Maher waited for death, but it did not come. The xenos threat had moved on. Two hours later the razorback transport Gullinburst emerged from the ruins with a relief effort. All wounded brothers were loaded in the two transports and Erymanthius was towed back to the edge of the settlement of Carrae where their landing and deployment zone was quickly being turned in to a more permanent encampment.


Several days later brother sergeant Maher was walking though the now fully establish camp. He was looking for brother Kothar and knew there was only one place he could be. The zone dedicated to the company’s armoury was filled with the sounds of metal drills and forging hammers. The damaged form of Erymanthius was hoisted on two lifters and brother Kothar stood beneath the vehicle, his servo arms all holding various tools as he worked on the razorbacks engines. Maher approached and tapped the hull of the transport, knowing that Kothar would not have noticed his arrival. “How is he doing?”


Kothar emerged from beneath the engine and wiped his hands on his already dirty red robe. “Not great. Most of the damage is repairable, but the targeters were sliced clean through. I mended them but they remain cracked. They will need replacing and that will require parts we don’t have here.”


“So what you are saying is we need to schedule some targeting practice for our gunners?”


Kothar scowled at Maher’s attempt to make light. “I failed and others now pay the price.”


“I am sure that is not how the captain sees it.” “He doesn’t. His faith in me remains. He says our scouts had not confirmed the presence of Dusk Wraiths. But still…”


“You still doubt yourself. We don’t. We fought, we were defeated, but we were not broken. The anvil has tested and hardened us, as it does. There is still a next fight. For Vulkan.”


“For Vulkan.”

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