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Approx. 5800 words

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Copyright 2015   SJ

Distant Chaos:

Battle of Thanatos 4


written by  SJ



    The far recon teams spent the night inside, or rather, on, the top story of the Mobile Mine. Captain Falconer’s small spaceship arrived late the next morning, where the teams met with it on the ground. Yarrick met with Shaw, while Taliaferro met with his two teams. Lieutenant Dylan Ramos, the Cheyenne Ranger Apothecary, was led over to one of Shaw’s team members, who had a punctured lung; he would have to be transported back to Zion, along with Corporal Stahler, who had a broken arm. The others, after some more professional care, were deemed fit to continue. If the team had been forced to defend against the Screamers out in the open, they would’ve taken many casualties, most of them, KIAs; the way it went, they only had two wounded bad enough to be taken out of the line.
    Lana had a black eye and a couple cuts; she stood with the Major as he looked up at the Mobile Mine and joked, “it does look a bit scuffed up, now that I see it. Probably need a little more than a new coat of paint.”
    “The damn demons blew up the showers and the bathrooms.” The look on Lana’s face was a little comical and the Major chuckled.
    “Well,” the Major began, “we’re gonna give you guys a resupply of food and ammunition, and...” he looked around, “bandages. And we can power up Sergeant Dakota’s Staff.”
    Lana looked at the small spaceship. “How did you guys get here in that thing? Doesn’t Chaos control the--”
    “Equator guns?” He assumed, then continued. “Nope. The Colonel sent scout squads one and three to take care of those.”
    “We captured them back?” She asked.
    He shook his head. “Nope. It was like the Colonel guessed. They blew up the guns as soon as our Scout squads got there. Oh, by the way, destroy any probes as soon as you see them. They can self destruct. They look like big black orbs.”
    “How about the polar gun?”
    “Scout squads two and four should be there in another day.” When the Major spotted one of the spaceship’s crew bringing up a couple boxes using a dolly, he continued, pointing, “and I want you to load your cold-weather gear in case you need to support the Scout squads on the south pole.”
    “Aw, you brought our ‘jammies for us.” Lana couldn’t resist the comment.
    “I hope you don’t have to use them, but...if I were Chaos, that were I’d defend.” The Major was serious. He pointed at the spaceship. “This about as far as we can go with this thing and stay under the arc of the polar, this will be the last time you can get a resupply this quick.” He thought a second, then asked, “did you lose one of your Land Speeder crew?” Before she could answer, he remembered. “That’s right. Melinda lost her twin-linked bolter guy. Anyway, what I’d like to do is leave Ramos here with you, since you have an extra seat.” He pointed at him currently taking care of one of Melinda’s team. “I know he out-ranks all of you, but, he told me he didn’t mind.” He smiled wryly, joking. “Just don’t have him digging latrines or anything.”
    Lana smiled and sighed. “Well, he’s going to be on--”
    “Nope.” The Major knew what she was going to say. “I’m assigning Delgado to the Melinda, and Ramos to you. I’ll take the meltagun with me; he’ll need the room for his medical supplies.”
    Apothecary Space Marines were expert medics and paramedics. With the medical equipment they carried, they were able to perform any kind of minor surgery, and some major surgery. They usually wore a full battle suit. When he walked up to Lana, he was wearing Scout armor complete with the formal markings of an Apothecary.
    Dylan Ramos was a tall, dark-haired, handsome, mature, man in his late thirties, showing every bit of his mixed, Hispanic, Old Earth, heritage. He had long hair, which was normally kept back in a short pony-tail. Where the far recon teams were going next, they wouldn’t be able to have a spaceship evacuate their wounded like they did this time. The Colonel and the Major thought it prudent to send him along.
    Lana had met Dylan many times on the Base, during training; he taught basic and advance first aid. This would be the first time they’d get to spend any length of time together.
    The Apothecary stood in front of Lana like he was waiting for orders. Lana didn’t know were to start.
    However, Dylan spoke first. “I would be glad to take over the twin-linked bolter seat.”
    Lana sighed with relief.
    “Just treat me like any other member of your team.” He looked up at the wrecked top of the Mobile Mine, and thought of who’s idea it was to defend there and how it saved all their lives, then back at Lana. “I KNOW I’m in good hands.”
    As the spaceship began to liftoff and leave, staying low and kicking up a lot of dust, Lana introduced Dylan to her team; most of them he knew. When a meeting of the team leaders was called, he came along, were he was introduced to the others, happy to have an Apothecary, if not on their team, at least one nearby.
    The far recon teams now had the primary job of finding and destroying the remaining Chaos probes; three of the nine had flown around and, somehow, captured three of the planetary guns. They still had the locations Captain Anderson had supplied them with, but had no idea if they were still there. When the teams broke up, they each headed for one of the locations. Shaw reached his location first; but, the probe wasn’t there. Shortly afterwards, Lana and Melinda found their probe locations, with the same result: no probes.
    It was obvious the probes had moved, and since they no longer emitted any particles, it was going to be much harder to find them. Once the team leaders reported the missing probes to HQ, they were told to cancel any formal search for them. However, they were given a couple suspected locations for Chaos troops, one simply an extrapolation as to where the Screamers had come from. Shaw’s team found the place the next day; but, they didn’t like it. They made a call to Lana, saying they needed Jennifer, and that they could probably use Apothecary Ramos’ expertise as well.
    When Lana’s Land Speeder arrived the next day, she met with Shaw’s team, who had located themselves no less than one kilometer away from the Chaos sight. They all had serious looks on their faces.
    Before she could ask what was wrong, he waved her to come over and look through the telescope. The first thing she spotted was the probe, located as part of the top of an archway that was a WARP gate. Lana’s eyes became wide. “Is that the probe, and a WARP gate? If it’s active we need to dest--”
    Shaw remained serious as he waved his hand to mean, not important. He responded, “that’s one of the probes, but it’s not active. And neither is the WARP gate. We checked it. It’s fried.”
    “You’ve been over there?”
    “Keep looking.”
    As Lana looked again, she began seeing what Shaw was talking about. There were Terran bodies impaled on poles in a large circle around the WARP gate, eight of them. There were other bodies laying flush with the ground, on a flat surface she couldn’t make out.
    Shaw pointed at Jennifer. “Can she detect anything demonic over there?”
    The Librarian held up her hand and slowly walked closer, eventually stopping, then turning. “There’s only a very faint WARP feel over there.”
    “No demonic you detected back on Tolstoy?” Shaw wanted to make sure.
    “No.” She spoke confidently. “What ever happened over there happened days ago, if not longer.”
    When they saw Melinda’s Land Speeder in the distance, they decided to wait for her; then they all went over together.
    There was a total of sixteen bodies, emaciated and dried out. The area was thick with flies, and the smell was horrible. Laying on the ground was a large platform made out of reddish wood, shaped in the form of eight arrows pointing out from a central point equal distant from each other; from the center, each arrow was about twenty meters long and two meters wide. There was a metal ring around the central point of the arrows, fifteen meters in diameter, and about one meter wide. The arrowheads where wider than the shafts of wood they were attached to, and in the center of each one was a sharp pole with a body impaled on it, hanging limp and stiff.
    On the shafts of wood for each arrow, the other bodies had been tied down on their backs with their arms and legs outstretched and fastened to the wood. In the center of the platform was the inactive WARP gate, with the round probe right in the center of the top arch, looking much like the gate was actually constructed by the probe itself.
    The sight was ghastly beyond belief, like something someone would read about in horror stories. Marine Scout armor came equipped with a mask they could put on for protection against toxic gas. They all began putting those on before getting any closer. Shaw’s team had similar masks. Apothecary Ramos walked around looking at the bodies shaking his head, appalled.
    Then he faced Lana, and spoke. “Well, I’m a little rusty at doing autopsies, but I’m going to have to do some here.” Before getting started, he sighed seriously, needing to know. “Is there any chance there are more demons nearby?”
    At that question, all the team leaders went into action, ordering the Land Speeders to have at least two people in them and on guard duty at all times. Shaw ordered one man to be on guard duty in each of his hover sleds, and to patrol in a wide circle around the sight. Everyone else stayed with Ramos, offering to help if he needed it, which he did, giving the job only to those with strong stomachs. Melinda and Shaw decided to wait for Ramos’ findings before contacting their respective HQ’s; they needed to know the origin of the dead: this planet, or another.
    Ramos first took lung samples from several of the bodies. The members of the far recon teams all wore small breathers, something to give them an occasional whiff of O2 because of the lower level of oxygen in the atmosphere. Natives to Thanatos-4 were used to it, and didn’t need breathers, but their lungs would show a slightly lower oxygen content.
    After twenty minutes, the Apothecary announced his results: the bodies were all natives. Shaw and Melinda then contacted HQ and reported the grisly findings, while Ramos started his autopsies.
    Ramos decided to do autopsies on two of the impaled bodies and two of the bodies tied to the platform. Knowing how they died might just help later on. When Lana knelt down to help him with the first body, he looked at her and shook his head. “You know, when I came with you guys on this trip, I didn’t expect to be doing autopsies.”
    Lana smiled back, then tried to ease tension with a little levity. “I didn’t expect you to either, but at least its better than digging latrines.”
    He smiled back, joking. “Yeah...but, only SLIGHTLY better.”
    Ramos had finished his postmortem medical examinations a little before dark and began reporting his results to the team leaders. “All the bodies showed signs that they were made to die slowly and painfully. The bodies that had been tied down had been cut many times and apparently left to bleed slowly; one of them did appear to bleed to death, the other one simply died from dehydration. The two men that were impaled had basically been stabbed with a sharp stick which was forced through their abdomen as so to avoid any major organs or arteries. In one case, it didn’t work because I found a lacerated liver that allowed him to bleed to death reasonably quickly. I think the other one must’ve gone into shock, then died later.”
    Jennifer had been listening, frowning most of the time. When Ramos was done speaking, she stepped forward. “Librarian Marcellus told me these demons don’t belong in our Universe. They are an abomination and were sent to the WARP for a reason. He said it had to take something extraordinary to bring them through to our side. And more importantly, in his opinion, it had to take something extraordinary from BOTH sides...a link to both worlds.” She sighed, then with a mournful tremor in her voice, continued. “As I look at this horrible place, I can’t help but think that something extraordinary happened here.” She sighed again and looked down. “I hope we’re able to learn more before more people have to die this way.”
    “Well, all we can do is the best we can.” Lana tried to sound comforting.
    Then Shaw spoke. “We killed about sixty of those demons. That had to help a little.”
    Jennifer looked at Shaw then at the others, explaining. “It doesn’t matter.” Her voice became a little more emotional. “We didn’t really kill those demons. All we did was send them back to the WARP...where they can be brought back again by the same people that did this.” She pointed at the Chaos sight, then looked down, taking a couple steps, pausing like she didn’t want to say want she was going say next. She sighed deeply. “And Marcellus says its only going to get worse before it gets better.” She looked up and around at her team mates and tried to smile. “I...I just wanted everyone to know that.”
    Once the team leaders had reported Ramos’ final results to HQ, they mounted their vehicles to find another place to spend the night.
    The three far recon teams stayed together throughout the night. In the morning, after they had finished breakfast, they got a call from HQ. The com line was opened up so they all could hear as the commanders spoke; apparently a lot had happened since last night.
    The location for Chaos forces had been confirmed.
    Yarrick spoke first, addressing Shaw. “I’m sending you a location that’s about two days ride to the west. I’m sending my Armored Fist platoon there, but you should get there before them. Captain Falconer is going to land his spaceship as close as he can to that massacre sight and send some of his people to recover those bodies.”
     “Are you sure that’s safe?” Shaw was concerned. “I can go back there and wait for them, see them safely there.”
    Yarrick sighed. “Yeah, can do that. He told me he didn’t want anyone to help him if it took forces away from actually attacking Chaos. But, your sleds are fast enough to still do both. Falconer told me he didn’t want those bodies laying out there any longer than they had to.”
    “Okay...we’ll be there in a bit. Shaw out.”
    Next to speak was Colonel Gallardo. “Well, it seems Ben was right. Chaos has a fortified position around the southern pole gun. Three heavy bolter turrets. We have Scout squads two and four there now. The Marine squads are not an option; they can’t get there.”
    “It wouldn’t matter if they could.” Major Taliaferro’s voice was heard next. “You see, the southern pole gun was built on a large, artificial hill, one that can be retracted back down underground, which is where it is now; if it detects a target, it can go back up fairly quickly. The area around the gun for over 5000 meters is deep snow. Ground troops would just sink and get buried; even with snow shoes, they’d have a hard time of it. So, you see our dilemma?”
    Both Lana and Melinda agreed.
    He continued. “The only way we could attack would be to charge our Land Speeders in and unload right there.”
    “Those heavy bolters turrets would shoot them to pieces.” Lana mentioned the obvious.
    “Of course.” The Major continued. “Here’s the scoop. EVEN IF we’re able to completely blind the turrets with blind smoke from our Land Speeder Typhoons, and EVEN IF our Scouts were able to get there in one piece, and EVEN IF they were able to knock out the turrets, which they are not currently equipped to do, with the gun already retracted, that would be about a three story drop, which they could do only if they remounted their Land Speeders, again. And, since we don’t know what kind of Chaos troops are in the gun complex, that could easily be suicide.”
    “That’s a lot of EVEN IF’s.” Melinda mentioned seriously.
    “And get this.” The Major added. “The planetary gun, even when retracted, can still fire--”
    “Wouldn’t that take out half the above ground platform?” Lana was surprised.
    “Yeah, and half the Scout Marines up there as well; but it’s something Chaos just might do.” Taliaferro postulated.
    “So, what the plan?” Lana asked.
    “What’s the plan?” The Colonel began with rhetorical question. “We do all of the above. But, it’s going to take perfect timing.”
    “Scout squads one and three, plus the two Land Speeder Typhoons are on their way to your location right now.” The Major informed. “Captain Falconer, with a number of supply sleds, will be there as well; they will be bringing reloads for the Typhoons, and some merculite explosives.”
    “Merculite?” That was Lana.
    “We’re a little short on melta bombs, so Falconer has kindly donated some of his big bang, mining, supplies.” The Colonel was happy to mention.
    “Falconer’s men are experts at planting this type of explosive and can do it quickly.” The Major explained. “We’ve allocated all of the Land Speeder transports to do the job, even yours; that should give us back ups. They’ll be carrying just a driver and one of Falconer’s volunteers. Under cover of blind smoke, they’ll fly in, plant the explosives on the turrets, and leave.”
    Lana was just about to say something, but had guessed what was coming next.
    “You are now formally in charge of an Special Ops assault team.” The Major started explaining to LaFong. “There’s a small mine over near the planetary gun. It’s abandoned, but Falconer says he can find it once he gets there.”
    “He coming with me?”
    “Sort of. “He’s going to pilot the mole.”
    “Oh..OH.” Lana got the gist of the Major’s plan. “You mean a mining mole.”
    “Yep. Falconer thinks he should be able to get it up and running.”
    “Aren’t those things really slow?” Lana frowned a bit.
    “Only if they’re moving through earth and rocks.” The Major continued. “You should be going though ice most of the way. When you reach the edge of the gun complex, the mole’s heat drill should be able to melt through that hard plastic fairly easily.”
    “He’s not going to drill through all the way, is he?”
    “No, no.” Taliaferro was certain. “I made it clear to him that you’ll need to use Scout scopes to covertly look into the gun complex first before entering. In fact, nothing’s going to happen until you get in there and give us a recon report first.”
    “I’m beginning to see why this plan needs perfect timing.” Lana was already interested.
    “Now, this is where the real timing comes in.” The Colonel began explaining. “Yarrick has sent his forces to some small mining town where they have confirmed the presence of Chaos troops. They already know there’s a WARP gate at that location,  AND we assume at our location. If we attack too soon, Chaos will reinforce our location, and we could quickly be outnumbered.”
    “How about if Yarrick attacks too soon?”
    “Well, that’s sort of the plan.” The Major followed up. “We  are sending our four Marine squads with Yarrick as a ready reserve. If Chaos ends up with more forces than Yarricks thinks he can handle, then he’ll fall back to where our Marine squads will be waiting.”
    “Do you have a map of the planetary gun complex?” Lana suddenly thought of something she needed.
    “Falconer doesn’t have one. But, he said he’ll draw you one when he gets there.”
    “Is there anything else you think we’ll need.?” Lana wanted to make sure.
    “Well, I already brought you your ‘jammies.” The Major responded comically. “So, I guess, no.”
    For the next two days everything seemed to go just perfect for LaFong and Dion’s teams. They made their way to the south pole and joined up with the Scout squads, plus the Land Speeder Typhoons, and the supply sleds. Falconer had no trouble finding the abandoned mine, and found the mining mole in good condition. All the Land Speeders were released to Scout platoon HQ, who came in with the supply sleds. Then there was a little reorganization before they were ready to go:
    Scout platoon HQ had Officer Allen Sakai, a good mercenary sniper, who had frequented Camp Cheyenne often, and who had been an officer in charge of the HQ many times before. Master Sergeant Wade Abercrombie, the supply sergeant, was in charge of the Land Speeder Typhoons. In addition, assigned to platoon HQ was Hank Ramcke, and the snipers from the other squads. Even though Lana was losing one of her team, it made good sense having five snipers up around the crater ring overlooking the gun.
    Lana was reassigned Delgado with his meltagun. Ramos was assigned to Scout platoon HQ, but was going to stay with Melinda’s team, who were staying back at the mine as a back up team. Assigned to Lana’s Special Ops team was the rest of Reynold’s first squad, which added to her team a Tau pulse rifle, two shotguns, and a plasma gun.
    Aside from the driver, the mole wasn’t designed to carry people; the tubular shaped vehicle was barely five feet (152 centimeters) high, and they calculated it could carry eight people in the storage area, which was actually in front of the driver. There was a drill in front and in back, both which could be opened up to empty out ore, or in this case, allow personnel to enter and exit, which was going to be Lana and Reynold’s team of eight, now designated as LaFong’s Special Ops assault team, under her command.
    Falconer had plotted a direct route through the ice, guessing it was about 500 meters. The mole should be able to drill through the ice at a little more than three kilometers per hour, which should take about fifteen minutes.
    The gun complex itself had been walled off using a hard plastic material that was cold resistant, but not heat resistant. It was about five meters thick. Falconer would melt two tunnels into the plastic, side by side, pull back, cool off the drill, then let out Lana’s team, where they would deploy in a very cramped space.
    Falconer was not sure if the ice would collapse behind him after he had drilled the hole, but in all likelihood, it probably would. Using the rear drill, he would make his was back to the mine. There, if they were needed, he would pick up Melinda’s team and return.
    In such a tight space as the mole, Lana’s team carried limited armament, and unfortunately, could not wear their hard armor. Lana carried just her Scout bolter, Jennifer insisted on carrying her Scout bolter and her Staff, Burns had his flamer, Delgado a meltagun, Reynold’s squad their weapons, plus they each carried a grenade, except for Jennifer.

    The mole had pulled back, cooled off, and Lana’s team had entered and positioned themselves inside the drilled out space, which was five feet high (152 centimeters), ten feet wide (304 centimeters), and almost five meters deep; Reynolds and his three team members were on the left, Lana and her three team members on the right. Since Lana was the smallest, she went forward to drill the two peep-scope holes, and provide a space for the shaped-charged melta bombs. Once the peep-scopes were ready, Lana and Reynolds looked inside.
    The entire diameter of the circular gun complex was forty meters. Around the outer edge were metal platforms, five meters wide, that would flip up when the gun was raised. The rest of the area, thirty meters wide was where the gun and the artificial mound was located. Currently, the massive lascannon was level with the floor, pointing upward, where it was surrounded by a metal grating, which would raise up with the gun, but now acted as a platform up to and next to the gun in case it needed maintenance.
    On the left side of the complex, there were two windows, with a double door in between them, leading into what looked like barracks; the windows had no glass, and inside there was some broken furniture, obviously unused in decades. It looked like there were about eight people inside, some carrying lasguns. On the right side of the complex was another small room with a door and a window; inside were several people next to what appeared to be the gun’s controls. Outside the door, three Chaos Cultists stood, two with lasguns, one with a bolt pistol, all wearing the colors of Alpharius.
    On the back side of the complex, in between the two rooms, standing like some sort of leader, was an Alpharius Chaos Marine; he had a chain sword in one hand, and a plasma pistol in the other, plus numerous grenades. Located to his right, was a combat Attack Bike with another Alpharius Chaos Marine right next to it; the Bike had a twin-linked bolter, the Marine had a flamer and a bolt pistol, plus a few grenades. Lana jumped and stepped back when she spotted on her side of the complex, to the left and right of her tunnel, two combat Scout Bikes, each armed with twin-linked bolters, and Chaos crewmen (no armor) standing next to them armed with bolt pistols and grenades.
    Lana stepped as far as she could away from the remaining part of the tunnel, extending the peep-scope cords. She and Reynolds both looked at what they would be facing, both knowing, they would probably win, but, casualties would be likely...IF, they had to face the current forces.
    During that time, Lana had spotted something else in the complex, to the right, between her position and the guns control room, what looked like an entrance to a sizable cave. That left an unknown factor. They couldn’t see inside the cave, which meant there could be more Chaos forces, but also, could be where the WARP gate was.
    They quickly contacted platoon HQ, who contacted the Colonel, Major Taliaferro, and Yarrick, all who were online together as Lana and Reynolds gave their strength report--plus the unhappy news that there didn’t appear to be a visible WARP gate.
    Once the scouting report was done, the command conversation began:
    It started with Falconer, who had just finished making his way back out of the ice cave and into the mine. As Melinda and third squad waited to go inside the mole, he had to comment on Lana’s report. “You know, before you guys got here, one of my scout teams reported seeing some combat Bikes near Zion. At the time, we thought some of your guys might’ve landed early in a separate shuttle, and sent the Bikes out. Now that I think about it, I don’t think you guys brought any combat Bikes with you?”
    “No, we didn’t.” That was Colonel Gallardo.
    “Not us.” Yarrick commented, then continued. “Combat Bikes cannot go over water, which means the only way they could’ve reached the pole gun was by WARP gate...maybe the one I’m looking at right now.”
    “Yarrick, are you over there with your troops?” Major Taliaferro wasn’t too surprised.
    “We’re going to kick some Chaos butt over here.” Yarrick was confident. “There’s three teams of those Thousand Sons over here; four of them per team, each being lead by one of those Sorcerers.”
    “Those are very dangerous--” The Major warned.
    “But they only have the range of a standard bolter, right?” Yarrick continued. “They’re never going to even get that close to us. They’ve got rock...I’ve got paper. Shaw’s snipers are going to shoot them at long range and fall back. When they advance, I have six Sentinels over here with multi-lasers which also outranges the bolters, and has greater mobility. And then there’s my Armored Fist platoon, entrenched, with two lascannon support teams. And last, but certainly not least, Colonel Gallardo’s Marine squads with missile launchers. We’re going to have a turkey shoot over here. Just tell me when to begin.”
    “Careful,” the Major had to mention. “Those Sorcerers may have a longer range with their Staffs.”
    “Shaw’s snipers will take those out first.” Yarrick countered.
    There was a pause before anyone else said anything. Then Colonel Gallardo spoke up. “That’s not bad, Yarrick. But, what I’m hoping is for you to draw those Chaos Bikes to your location. Let me know as soon as you see them. And, keep an eye on anything else that shows up. More importantly, I want to know if anything from your location starts to go back through the WARP gate to the pole gun.”
    “Will do.” Yarrick understood. “I know you’ve got a tenuous situation over there.”
    “Okay, Yarrick.” The Colonel began with a joke. “You may fire when ready, Gridly.”
    Lana heard the Colonel’s command and waited. Finally, after almost ten minutes, something started happening in the gun complex.
    The Chaos Marine leader, began talking to the Marine next to the combat Bike, who then mounted and rode into the cave opening and disappeared, soon to be followed by the Scout bikes.
    Lana and Reynolds had already planned what they were going to do. Reynolds’s squad would attack the barracks, while his plasma gunner took out the Chaos Marine leader. Lana’s team would take out the gun and the control room using Delgado’s meltagun and Burns’ flamer. Lana and Jennifer would help take out the leader, then check out the tunnel. Before then, of course, the Typhoons would fire blind smoke above, so the turrets could be destroyed, everything happening at once.
    Once they spotted the blind smoke above, Lana set off the melta bombs. Reynold’s plasma gunner and Burns came in first. In front of the barracks and the control room some of the Cultists had come out, looking up at the blind smoke. It looked like the Chaos Marine leader was going shoot, then he was suddenly on fire, as the Cultists in front of the control room disintegrated.
    Reynolds slipped in behind the plasma gunner, who was firing at the leader, and threw a frag grenade into the group of Cultists on his side. Delgado had just fired and destroyed probe inside the gun. After Reynolds’ grenade went off, he stepped in further to see if he could get a look inside the cave on Lana’s side as his men with shotguns went to finished off the remaining Cultists. The surprise assault inside the complex had gone almost perfect; not one single defender had gotten off a single shot.
    Lana had moved down along the side of the complex, away from the gun, as the others were told to do. She was near the cave when the probe exploded, something they were expecting to happen, hoping they’d be ready for it.
    The blast wave knock everyone down. But as they started to get up, something unexpected happened: Above, the explosions meant to destroy the turrets had gone off. However, one of the charges had been inadvertently set so the blast wave knocked the turret back and inside the complex below, where it then crashed into the remains of the planetary gun, the weight of the turret sending wreckage in all directions, and on top of both teams.
    Lana had spotted the falling turret and had dove inside the cave just in time. She lay prone, with her bolter ready, pointing down the length of the cave tunnel, which was twenty meters long, where to the left it curved out of sight, and to the right, where it led into a kind of ice cave. Behind her, wreckage was still crashing down, the remains of the turret itself now blocking the cave opening.
    Over her com, she heard Yarrick’s frantic voice. “ guys over at the gun--Knock out that WARP gate! Something’s coming your way!”
    She no longer had the luxury of checking on her team members. She had to find that gate! Getting up quickly, she ran down the length of the tunnel. To the right, the ice cave was dark inside. To the left, down about fifteen meters, was the WARP gate--ACTIVE, and blocking the view of the rest of the tunnel with its dark ripping energy. After letting go of her Scout bolter, where it hung down by her side on the strap, she readied her krak grenade. This WARP gate looked exactly like the one at the massacre sight, with the probe right in the center of the arch above. She took a couple steps forward and threw her grenade, striking the probe dead on, the explosion taking out the probe and most of the arch. The WARP gate was now OFF.
    She was now able to see on the other side of the gate, which led to an excavation area, about the size of a large bedroom. She could see two creatures inside, looking at her, coming toward her, a couple more behind those.
    At first she wanted to say they were Chaos Marines, wearing battle suits. But their armor was warped with long horns coming out in different directions, with teeth and tentacles. One of them had a bolt pistol, both of them had large, distorted, hands with claws. She immediately recoiled in revulsion, stepping backward, then falling into the darkness of the ice cave.
    She had fallen off an embankment about two meters down, her bolter flying off her shoulder, where she heard it land somewhere in the darkness. When she was able to get up and recover, the demonic creatures were coming in after her--They HAD WINGS!!
    To her right, she could detect a little light, maybe an exit, so she ran in that direction. However, she still couldn’t see where she was going until something in the distance fired, like an energy cannon, the shots going over her head, exploding. She could hear the cave crashing down behind her as she ran; she fell down once, then, got up and found the exit out into the open. When she turned around, the ice cave was totally caved in; nothing could’ve survived inside, not even Chaos.
    She staggered, then turned around; as she did, she saw something she couldn’t believe, something neither she nor any Terran thought they would ever see in any of their lifetimes.



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