Approx. 2600 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
A Howl of Orks:
written by SJ
The Eridani Corporation had dropped three types of defoliant within the last two days, chemical, biological, and last night, electronic. When the orange sun of Epsilon Eridani had risen, instead of rising on a verdant broadleaf forest, Commissar T.H. Rowley was happy to look out at a botanical wasteland, large enough for the armored vehicles of his Corporate Guard Battle Group to have a clear field of fire on all sides.
The Orks were naturally camouflaged in the forest. Even with bio-scanners, it was hard to tell exactly were they were, and in what numbers. This more than leveled the playing field, in his mind.
The Corporate Guard Battle Group was made up of six Leman Russ tanks, not counting Rowley's command tank, and six Chimera APCs, each with a complement of, what was known as, Corporate Guard infantry.
The three Leman Russ tanks in the lead were specially armed with turret-mounted Punisher Gatling Cannons, a newly designed weapon to render forth more firepower than any weapon of its type so far, even better than the Space Marine assault cannon.
There were some rocks and remaining tree trunks in the distance. Rowley was proud to be the recipient of the new weapon and promptly ordered them tested, blowing the trees and rocks to pieces in seconds.
He cheered, then boasted, "we're gonna shred some Ork butt with these weapons."
The commanders of the three tanks agreed, letting the Commissar know the cannons had check out perfectly.
Rowley continued to boast, confidently. "With these Punisher Gatling Cannons we might not even need the rest of the Battle Group." He addressed the others under his command. "I hope you guys don't might sitting this one out."
There was no response.
Then he got a call. It was from Colonel Barrett Granger of the Omicron Ranger Space Marines. "I just received satellite confirmation that there was come shooting over there. Did you have a confirmed target?"
Rowley answered unconcernedly. "No...I was just testing my new Punisher Gatling Cannons. They work great. We're--"
"You fired those weapons without a confirmed target?" Granger couldn't believe it. "You do know the Orks are watching you, right? Now they know what those weapons can do!"
Ever since the Eridani Corporation had planned the Ork offensive, the Space Marine commander had tried to give suggestions to the Corporate commanders since he had way more experience fighting Orks. But, so far, anything he had said had been taken with a tiniest grain of salt.
"Hello, is there problem?" Executive Commissar Morris was technically in command of all Eridani Corporate forces, whereas Rowley was just in command of the Battle Group itself. He didn't mind Colonel Granger making suggestions, but he didn't want any arguments either.
Granger sighed deeply and gave up. "No, no...there's no problem. Just carry on with your offense the way you planned it. We'll be in position to back up if you need it."
Rowley's Battle Group proceeded to advance as the three tanks in the lead plowed down the few remaining trees and bushes with their bulldozer blades. As the morning gave way to afternoon, they found themselves in places where not all the foliage had been killed off.
As the armored vehicles continued to move northwest, the forest, even though relatively clear in front, became narrower and narrower on each side. Once the vehicles had slowed down to navigate through a boggy area--all hell broke loose!
Once the call for assistance was made, even as incoherent as it was, Colonel Barrett Granger of the Omicron Rangers knew what had happened: The Corporate Battle Group was in an ambush situation. However, the Space Marines were currently in no position to give aid. They were now under much heavier fire by a larger group of Orks. Even if they attacked and defeat them, probably taking casualties in the process, they would reach the Battle Group way to late.
The Orks came charging out of piles of dead foliage on each side of the Battle Group. From the forest line further away, the Orks fired some kind of rocket launchers, plus a hail of bolter fire, weapons nearly as powerful as Marine bolters. All four Leman Russ tanks on each flank were out of action. The Leman Russ tanks with the Punisher Gatling Cannons never got off a shot. Orks, throwing some kind of shaped charge stick bombs, quickly knocked out all the cannons first, then went after the other Leman Russ tanks, disabling any that survived the rocket launchers; they then charged the Chimeras.
Commissar Rowley never had a chance to speak a single understandable command. The Orks had already known where he was and what he was...the commander. His tank was hit by no less than four rockets, leaving it a smoking ruin. It was someone in command of the Corporate Guard infantry that finally made the call for help.
Colonel Ely Gallado of the Cheyenne Rangers had a much smaller contingent of Space Marines. His company had been placed in reserve, and had only been expected to be used in the case of an emergency. However, as he listened to the unfolding events, he was afraid something like this would happen and had taken the precaution of already having his troops loaded aboard two, on loan, Valkyrie gunship-transports. Soon four Scout Marine squads and a reinforced, heavy weapons squad were on their way.
As the Space Marines flew to rescue the ambushed Battle Group, Colonel Dempsey of the Planetary Guard flew in six Vendetta gunships from Fort Marathon to make a bombing run before the Space Marines landed. The Planetary Guard commander tried to get a more precise location of where to bomb from Commissar Rowley, but he couldn’t be reached. So it was up to Colonel Gallardo to provide the location, which was only his best guess.
In all past events, never had a gunship been shot down by any Ork weapons. By the time the bombing run was finished, two gunships had been shot down, and two were damaged.
After dropping off the heavy weapons squad, the two Valkyrie transports fired their small payload of missiles then landed the Scout squads in pairs, first and third squads on the right, second and fourth squads on the left, with a four hundred meter gap between them.
The two pairs of Scout squads advanced one squad in front of the other. The lower number squad was in front, with the other squad about two hundred meters behind in a back up position.
Gunnery Sergeant Jacob Reynolds was in charge of first Scout squad, the best squad leader they had, a veteran of many battles, and was a Level 1 Special Ops sergeant, a privilege that allowed him to carry his normally chosen weapon, a Tau pulse rifle; the other four Marines were armed with two bolters and two shotguns. Third squad had three bolters, one plasma gun, and one sniper rifle.
Second and fourth squads were armed much the same way. The only difference was Staff Sergeant Franklin, in charge of second squad; in this case, he decided to carry a plasma pistol.
As the Scout squads advanced, they followed the same route as the Battle Group. First Scout squad tried to contact the Guardsmen. "Hello, this is Sergeant Reynolds calling the Eridani Guard. Can anyone respond?"
In a moment, there was an open com line, but no one answered. It quickly became apparent that the person who had answered was desperately giving orders to troops.
Reynolds decided to provide information. "We have four Scout Marine squads advancing on your position to give aid. We are currently southeast of your position approximately six hundred meters away. Any retreat you can organize should fall back between the four hundred meter gap in our squads."
He repeated the information.
At this point, the situation with the Battle Group was desperate. All the tanks had been knocked out or disabled, and the six Chimeras had formed their vehicles in a circle, defending, barely holding on.
Corporate Guard platoons were usually commanded by high-priced mercenary officers and NCOs. Several of them had heard the call from Sergeant Reynolds, but had no time to talk. The remaining Guardsmen had been hastily formed into a kind of Napoleonic square behind the circle of Chimeras, the wounded inside that. As soon as any Ork dared to jump on a Chimera to reach the Guardsmen, they got picked off. But, the Guardsmen were quickly losing their nerve.
All but one of the Chimeras had been knocked out or disabled. They had all been armed with turret-mounted heavy bolters, none of them, any longer, operational. The Chimeras were supposed to have been armed with hull mounted heavy flamers, also. But, those weren't present, the orders for their being equipped most likely a fowl up in Corporate paperwork.
The one remaining Chimera was damaged, but still mobile; it was now facing the direction of the approaching Scout Marines. The platoon sergeant was quickly preparing it for an escape.
Once the Scout Marine squads were within three hundred meters of the Guardsmen, suddenly, one of the Chimeras took off, heading right down the space between the two pairs of Scout squads; it looked like it was loaded with soldiers, many wounded, hoping to make an escape.
The lead Scout squads immediately took cover and prepared to give some fire support. Sergeant Franklin spotted an Ork with some kind of rocket launcher. He was glad when the Ork didn't get off a shot, watching as he slumped over with a sniper bullet through the head. Other Orks gave chase, but were cut down, two of them with large blast holes in them--Reynold's pulse rifle.
Sergeant Dale Bricks of third Scout squad eventually contacted the fleeing Chimera; it was apparently damaged and wasn't going too much further. Once the Chimera had reached the Scout Marines, it gave out. Third squad now had more than twenty Guardsmen to tend with, many of them wounded. His squad would have to help them get back to the evac zone. He assigned three of his Marines as an escort, leaving himself and his sniper remaining to back up first squad.
The Scout squads needed to advance closer to help the remaining Guardsmen. Once they were within two hundred meters, they could see Orks climbing on top of the remaining Chimeras, a mistake for them as they got picked off quickly by Scout Marine bolters.
The remaining Guardsmen (those still conscious) took off running, following the same route the Chimera had taken. The lead Scout squads had to stop firing so they could direct the Guardsmen to their location. There didn't seem to be anymore than twenty left; half of them made their way to second squad, the other half to first squad. After a brief discussion with the Guardsmen's remaining platoon leaders, it was decided, there were no more survivors. It was now time to beat a hasty retreat.
Some of the survivors collapsed once they reached the Marines; they had to be carried. And the Orks were now advancing on them quickly.
Second squad had to move slowly with the numerous wounded. Fourth squad covered them by picking off as many advancing Orks as they could.
Most of the Orks seemed to be carrying some kind of large bolt pistol and a big, heavy, axe, which they wielded one handed. Once the Orks got closer, second squad had no choice but to stop and fight, using up their frag grenades first.
Many of the Orks looked bloody with shrapnel wounds, seemingly unaffected as they entered into melee. Sergeant Franklin shot three of them before taking an axe to the head, a blow that didn't really penetrate his Scout helmet, but obviously broke his neck.
The Guardsmen, those still mobile, scattered and ran. The Marines, after firing briefly, fell flat on the ground so that fourth squad could fire over the top of them. By the time the Orks had been driven off, only three members of second squad were alive to join fourth squad, and two of those were badly wounded.
Second and fourth squads quickly formed into one squad, with Sergeant Dyona Turner in charge. She had never been this close to Orks before, but she kept her nerve as she screamed orders and got the Marines and Guardsmen moving again--post haste, back they way they came. However, in the distance, they heard the howls of Orks; they were regrouping for another charge.
First and third squads were faring better. They had less wounded Guardsmen. And the Orks, after only a short charge in which they threw some kind of explosive stick-bombs, took cover and began firing with their hand bolters.
As the Scout squads and Guardsmen retreated, it was obvious the Orks were amassing to make chase; these Orks had finished off the remaining vehicles and Guardsmen and were eager to take on more. Smaller groups of Orks were moving around the outside flanks of the two retreating groups, a place where there was more cover, moving much faster than the Terrans as they began throwing stick-bombs and firing on the run from the tree line. If this continued, they would cut off the Terran's retreat...that was until the Marines got a welcome order from Colonel Gallardo to take cover.
Colonel Granger had rearmed his two Thunderhawk gunships. After contacting Colonel Gallardo, they came in swiftly and bombed the area where the flanking Orks were at--a direct hit, ending any threat they had posed.
However, when the squads started moving again, they had taken a few more casualties: two wounded, and one Marine in fourth squad killed.
The squads continued to retreat. They could see Valkyrie transports waiting for them. However, down the center, in the open, a large group of Orks were charging, more than a hundred of them. If they reached the Marines and Guardsmen, they would be badly outnumbered.
Colonel Gallardo had been pestered on an off again by Executive Commissar Morris, who had been watching the battle take place on a digital tactical display map. When he spotted the Orks advancing down the center, he panicked. "They're not going to make it." He shouted criticisms to the Colonel, who confidently ignored him.
However, the Scout squads took their time. They knew what the Colonel had planned: Once the Orks, now out in the open, got within four hundred meters, the reinforced heavy weapons squad rose up from behind a small ridge. They leveled their Mk. 2 heavy bolters (known also as chain gun bolters) and missile launchers, and fired.
It took less than a minute to wipe out almost half the charging Orks...less than that to send them running. They would've shot down more, but from two advancing Leman Russ tanks blind smoke had been launched, covering the Ork retreat. Lieutenant Jake Durant, officer in charge of heavy weapons, was quick to get confirmation to fire on the two tanks, obviously, now under Ork control, and probably operated by Gretchen.
The Lieutenant was even more surprised when the Leman Russ tanks fired their battle cannons, even though they missed completely. After ordering four of his missile launchers to be loaded with krak missile clips, the tanks were quickly silenced.
On the evac zone of second squad, the Company's Apothecary, Lieutenant Ramos, was there to render some badly-needed medical aid. Within twenty minutes, all the Guardsmen and Marines had been evacuated back across the narrow channel by air and sea. The Omicron Rangers had made their move back across the channel as well. The battle was over.