Approx. 7100 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
The Ork Situation:
written by SJ
Lana, Gannon, and Bull had already packed their duffle bags and had placed them on the Special Ops shuttle for the return trip back to Camp Cheyenne when they got the call.
It was Colonel Dempsey: "Officer LaFong. We need to talk. I've already called Major Taliaferro and okayed it with him--"
"I have a feeling I'm not going home, yet, right?" Lana sighed.
There was a couple more sighs from Gannon and Bull.
"Did you pack, yet?" The female Space Marine recognized Prime Minister Marylla Lancaster's voice. "Hi, Lana." She tried to sound cheery. "I think we're going to need you to stay a little longer. The Colonel will explain."
Dempsey started: "Whereas it is true, thanks to your help, we are currently at peace with Warboss Nazoreg, he had to inform us that he had no control over the Mekboyz, or their Mekboss."
"I think his actual words were," Marylla deepened her voice and tried to sound Ork-like, which came out a little comical instead, "them Meyboyz...they crazy."
Dempsey couldn't help chuckling, then concluded. "The Warboss basically said, whatever the Mekboyz do, he had no control over, and that any troops they attack or harass should feel free to fight back...in the Warboss' words, ‘blast them Mekboyz good.'"
Lana sat listening...
"I'll let Marylla go on from here." Dempsey passed the conversation.
"Our problem is--even though the Warboss empirically gave us his okay to attack the Mekboyz...as a diplomat, I have the feeling he wasn't saying we should attack them with everything we have. Right now, the Mekboyz are faced off against the Eridani Corporate Guard. Ever since we made peace with the Warboss, we've been asking the Eridani Corporation to withdraw their troops back to our side of the continent." She sighed.
"But, they've refused." That was Colonel Demspey.
"It seems like we've got our own group of...crazy Mekboyz to deal with." Lana made the analogy.
Marylla chuckled. "Yes, Lana...very well said."
"So, what do you want us to do?" Lana asked simply.
Dempsey answered. "Basically, without using any outside troops, we need the conflict between the Mekboyz and the Eridani Corporation to end--"
"Or, at least simmer down a little." Marylla compromised.
"My belly button hasn't healed since the last time I tried talking to a Warboss." Lana joked seriously.
There was a pause, then Dempsey continued. "As far as we know, the current Mekboss is--certifiably crazy. If you went to talk to him, he'd have every Mekboy in his army run you and your belly button over many times. No, LaFong--you're going to have to eliminate him. Once that's done, I think we have a good chance the next Mekboss will be a little more rational."
"So, this is an assassination mission?" Lana assumed, then asked. "Does anyone know approximately where the Mekboss has his HQ?"
Dempsey sighed. "We don't even know WHO he is. And, apparently, our best guess is that his headquarters IS the vehicle he rides in...which, at anytime, could be everywhere and anywhere."
Lana didn't answer as she sat thinking...
"Officer LaFong," Marylla began an analogy, "the Mekboyz, right now, are sort of like an Old Earth biker gang. In my option it's not going to take a whole lot to disrupt their command system to the point where they might get rid of the current Mekboss on their own."
"We just need someone like you to go in and disrupt them." Dempsey concluded.
"I see. You want me to be the wasp that flies into a car and ends up causing the driver to crash." Lana understood.
"Yes." Colonel answered. "Just like that.
Lana started to ask. "Of course, I'm going to need to get some information about current Mekboy--"
"You're going to have to go see Commissar Ross for that." Dempsey explained. "We'll call and tell him to expect you. When you're ready, fly your shuttle over to his headquarters on the other side of the channel. That's the best we can do."
The HQ for the Eridani Corporate Guard on the Ork side of the continent was basically a large, heavy-duty, bunker made from a substance called, Talmar (the name of the Terran/Tau that invented it), a type of concrete/epoxy that when dry, formed a kind of extremely-heat-resistant, super-hard, rubber. Hits from enemy solid-shot burrowed into the material and quickly came to a stop, whereas explosives tended to simply blow a chunk out of it, unlike concrete, which would shatter into pieces.
The forward part of the bunker was about fifty meters wide and twenty meters long, sitting on top of a flat-topped hill. The entire bunker complex was about a hundred meters wide and fifty meters long, the enclosing walls leading right up to the beach of a non-river inlet, where there was a small pier. In the center, and little below ground, was the HQ, made from the same material as the rest of the bunker.
The HQ, on the inside, had the appearance of a small elaborate set of corporate offices, with a luxury office suite in the center. Lana, Gannon, and Bull were led inside by a corporal, who was also the receptionist.
Commissar Ross sat in a fancy, leather, chair behind a large, specious, desk. Standing on each side of the Commissar were two officers, both men. Wooden shelves took up most of the wall space, and on two of them were numerous sports trophies. The top of the desk, which wasn't very cluttered, were a few pieces of sport memorabilia along with the standard office stationary.
As Officer LaFong was led into the room, she was told to stand behind a long table, Gannon and Bull stood, left and right, behind her. Commissar Ross appeared to be a heavy, well-built, man and Lana was wondering if he had played any profession sports at one time. By the trophies on the wall, and the memorabilia on the desk, she guessed, yes.
The Commissar and his assistants, seemed to glare at Lana as she stood in front of the intervening table. She was just about to say something, when the Commissar frowned, and spoke first, pointing his finger. "If you think you can intimidate me like you did with Executive Palmer, then you're very much mistaken." He then leaned forward and slammed his fist on the table.
The table had the appearance that he had pounded his fist there many times before. This time, part of the edge of the table gave way just enough to buckle another part upward, which sent a porcelain cup flying through the air.
Lana shouted, "I'll get it," at the same time as she darted over and caught the cup like an outfielder catching a ball just before it went over the fence for a home run.
As she walked back to the table, the Commissar and his assistants had astonished looks on their faces, not so much at the act itself, but that she did it at all. She smiled, looking at what was obviously some kind of a sports-memorabilia cup.
"Ah, planetary championship." She continued smiling as she placed the cup on the table. "It's alright, I don't think it was damaged." After a short pause, she asked, "now, where were we?"
The big Commissar almost laughed. "I have no idea."
"Oh, yeah." Lana began, explaining, "Colonel Dempsey sent me over here to see if I could find a way to neutralize, at least to some degree, the Mekboy threat against you.
The Commissar sat listening.
She gathered her thoughts. "Now...the Mekboyz are using some kind of bio-fuel for their vehicles. If I can get behind enemy lines and tag those supply dumps, do you think you can hit them with the Bombards Yarrick gave you?"
The Bombard was an older-style, mobile-artillery, vehicle like the Baslisk. It had basically the same range as the Baslisk, but dropped a shell with twice the explosive power, however was much slower to load.
All three of the corporate officers had readied themselves for an argument...which wasn't going to apparently happen now since she had just mentioned exactly what they would've argued for her to do in the first place.
Eventually, Commissar Ross responded like a coach who had just been given a winning play. "Well, hell yeah. You tag those dumps and we'll blow the hell out of them. No problem." He actually seemed to smile.
"Good," she proceeded. "I'll try to stay in contact with you by satellite communication...plus, I'll need the data from your strategic and tactical display map for the last month."
The Commissar looked at her as if to ask why.
"I want to analyze the movement of Mekboy vehicles, you know, see if there's a pattern."
Ross sighed. "We've been monitoring them for months. They're random. There's no pattern."
"Well, no pattern is still a pattern." She shrugged, slightly. "After all, I'm going to be behind enemy lines, and I don't want to get run over in the middle of the night."
The Commissar gestured to the officer on his right, ordering, "see to it she get what she wants." He looked back at Lana. "Will you need anything else?"
"Yes. After I analyze the map data, I would like the use of one of your telescopes." She paused, and the Commissar had that look of why again. "They put Gretchen on the mountains behind where the Mekboyz operate with telescopes of their own--"
"So, you think that's how they keep an eye on us?" Ross seemed enlightened
"Yes." Lana confirmed.
"Once you're behind lines, how are you going to hide from them?"
"Well, there's no way we can neutralize all their Gretchen observation posts, or even hide from them indefinitely," she began explaining. "It's their communications. All I need to do is cut that, and that should buy me enough time to do what I need to do."
"We know their warbikes communicate by normal coms." Ross sat relaxed. "We pick up conversion from them all the time--"
"But, you can't use the information, right?" Lana asked rhetorically. "By the time you've pinpointed their location, they're--"
"Long gone." Ross almost smiled, finishing Lana's statement, happy they were both on the same page. He then asked, "how are you going to navigate behind enemy lines?"
"I'll have my oPOD downloaded with your map data...plus I'll memorize the map." She shrugged like doing so wasn't a big deal.
The attitude of the meeting had turned friendly. They talked a little while longer, then Lana got ready to leave, to go where she and her team had been allocated a room right there in the HQ.
The Eridani Corporate Guard had entrenched itself on the hills of a four-kilometer-long stretch of land between two river inlets. The remaining part of the peninsula behind that tapered off to about two kilometers wide and long. Corporate HQ was located one kilometer behind the hills, on the coast of a central inlet.
Not counting HQ personnel, the Eridani Corporate Guard was made up of three platoons, approximately 130 Guardsmen total with support equipment: Chimera APCs, heavy bolters, and a few lascannons. Each platoon HQ had a Corporate sniper team. There was also, in reserve, a squad of three Hellhound armored vehicles armed with turret mounted Inferno Cannons, and hull mounted heavy bolters.
Lana was thinking about taking both Gannon and Bull with her on her Ops mission, both armed with short-barreled Mk. 2 heavy bolters (basically, chain-gun bolters without the barrel extensions). If she ran into any opposition, she'd have ample firepower. But, she was working with the Eridani Corporation, an organization that apparently had something to hide. When she saw the three Hellhound tanks, and learned that each of the squad Chimeras had hull mounted heavy flamers, she had to wonder what they would be used for in a defensive position. Was the Eridani Corporation waiting for her to complete her mission, then use the confusion she caused to make an attack? Unlikely...but, it was still possible. And if she was still behind lines when they did attack, not informing her at the time, she could find herself in a very dangerous position, caught between two forces.
She decided, the best way was to leave Bull behind. He'd have a special communicator so they both could talk to each other privately, and at any time. And it was doubtful that anyone, even Commissar Ross, would or could intimidate him. If it looked like the Guardsmen were readying for an attack, Lana would know right away.
There was a hill in front of the Corporate HQ with a small bastion on top. The hill was the highest location for many kilometers, allowing any weapons inside (currently two autocannons and a mortar team) to fire over the platoon positions up front. Plus, from that position, Bull could keep an eye on all Corporate troops and vehicles. She told Ross that Bull would be happy to add his Mk. 2 heavy bolter and missile launcher to the other weapons already there and all she needed for her mission was Gannon, explaining, the smaller her group the less chance of being spotted, which he agreed with.
The bastion was also where the Corporate telescopes were located. Lana spend one day studying the maps she was given, then the afternoon of the next day using the telescope where she spotted two confirmed Gretchen spotter teams, and several suspected locations.
During the time she had been with the Warboss, she had had the opportunity to examine the com boxes the Gretchen used, learning, amazingly enough, they used no electricity. That's when she figured it out: They were basically nothing more than a high-tech version of using two cans with a string attached. The cans were made out of a special material, done in such a way as to amplify sound, whereas the strings were a hollow cords, again, designed to carry sound waves. It was so simple, it was almost genius.
By the end of the day, she had a fairly good guess where the Gretchen communication cords were located. Also, she guessed that somewhere the cords had to lead to a central location, then spread out from there. Lana and Gannon had slept until about noon the day she used the telescopes. Once night had fallen, and it was completely dark, she and Gannon boarded the Special Ops shuttle, engaging stealth and night optics to guide them to the base of the mountains behind enemy lines.
Lana's only weapon was her VSS sniper rifle, leaving her 9.1s behind to lessen encumbrance. Gannon had his heavy bolter, but knew he'd have limited ammo for it, and, if all went as planned, wasn't expected to use it anyway. Both had to settle for camouflaged fatigues coated with cameleoline. Any kind of armor would be bulky, noisy, and slow them down; this time, their only real armor was their ability to hide and avoid.
In addition, Lana knew it was highly unlikely she would run into any Savage Orks. Defoliant had wiped out a lot of vegetation and trees, which was where Savage Orks liked to be...and, it was obvious, they were very afraid of so many vehicles.
The Special Ops shuttle flew high over the terrain then came down between two mountain peaks in the foothills. Lana left the shuttle stealthed, but knew, before morning she'd have to send it back remotely to Eridani Corporate Guard HQ.
Planet time, it was about an hour past midnight. She searched using her Ops scope/scanner for the presence of Gretchen communication cords. After about an hour, she realized it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. However, she had her scanner set for Mekboy bio-fuel as well. And she soon spotted two supply dumps, one at the base of each mountain peak. Scanning one of the dumps closely, she picked up the presence of communication cords also.
Both of the bio-fuel dumps were way out of range of the Eridani Bombards, so they had to be some kind of reserve depots, and very well served as an Ork communications outposts as well.
The Gretchen had their own version of scanners. Even with their shuttle stealthed, it was possible it could still be detected. The bio-fuel dump to the north was closer, about thirty minutes away. Lana and Gannon prepared themselves, then began walking, using night optics to find their way.
The Federal PSO-88 scope on her sniper rifle was a top-of-the-line scope, with above average night optics. Once they spotted the bio-fuel dump, she recognized the familiar sight of Gretchen sitting at their assigned communication seats with two sets of com boxes, one set to receive, the other to send.
There were two Ork Nobz armed with slugga pistols and choppas, apparently guards. Then she spotted a fifth Gretchen, who seemed to have access to several pieces of equipment, one or more that looked like scanners, large and small; she was glad to see he was sleeping. In fact, most of the personnel at the dump seemed to be, at least, dosing off. Looking through her sniper scope, it would've been fairly easy to kill every member of that dump, but, that's not what she wanted.
Lana needed to knock out communications, but in such a way so the Orks wouldn't know about it until they tried to use them. If she killed the members at the dump, not only would they find out about it quicker, they would know were to go to fix it, and, more importantly, that some kind of enemy was behind their lines.
She could easily see the communication cords coming from the dump as she and Gannon walked down the hill. Alone, she eventually got close enough to the dump to see where the cords went. Then, they both followed them until they were about one kilometer away from the dump.
Lana had her small army knife, Gannon a slightly larger one. She came ready with a plan: If she just cut the cords, Gretchen could run along the line and easily find the break, then repair it. Carefully, she showed Gannon as she cut a slit in the bottom of the cord, then as she stuffed a forty-millimeter-long, dowel-like, piece of lead inside the cord. Gannon understood, then did one himself, then both of them, until all four cords were blocked.
She smiled at him. "See, now all they'll know is that their communications are blocked--"
"And they'll have no idea where." Gannon finished, then asked, "how long do you think it'll take them to fix it?"
"Well, I hoping long enough for us to get our job done." Lana started moving away from the cord, waving Gannon to come. "Let's go. We still have enough cover of darkness to take the shuttle over to the other bio-fuel dump."
"You think they'll have the same set up there?"
"Yeah...it's very likely."
Lana and Gannon landed the shuttle closer to the other bio-fuel dump this time. Once they had found it, they followed the cords and fixed them the same way. She was also happy to see most of the outpost crew sleeping.
She already knew that the bio-fuel dumps couldn't be spotted by satellite, since scanners from that high up couldn't tell bio-fuel from plain vegetation. During the time she had studied the map, she had tried to figure out possible bio-fuel dumps by analyzing how the Mekboys moved their vehicles, a process that gave her twenty locations, before she narrowed it down to just twelve. But, she knew that number was still too high.
They still had one more hour until daylight. To save time, she decided to do something she had earlier considered too risky: fly the shuttle over the Mekboy area and use the scanners to verify bio-fuel dumps, since she already had an idea where they might be anyway. Now that she knew about the sleeping Gretchen, the very ones supposedly in charge of the scanners, she considered it worth the risk.
By the time she was done, she had found six bio-fuel dumps. But, there seemed to be more. To the south of the Eridani Guard location, there was a large swamp with trails going inside and out. As she flew overhead, she noticed some nighttime Mekboy traffic. She also, discovered that there were no actual bio-fuel dumps in the swamp at all, just places of rotting vegetation, which apparently made up one or more of the bio-fuel ingredients.
With daylight approaching, she flew the shuttle to the northeastern most bio-fuel dump. She then set the shuttle to return to base just before daylight arose.
The Mekboyz had various trails they followed. With the help of Commissar Ross' digital map information, Lana had mapped those and knew were they were...at least most of them. Staying in between two of those trails, she and Gannon moved quickly though some tall grass, then entered a forested area near the dump, where she could see it clearly with her Ops scope, scanning, then verifying its authenticity.
Ork bikes had been around for over five years, just never in any real numbers, and mostly used as messengers. Now there were lots of them...the Mekboyz, with warbikes (armed twin-linked big shootas), and warbuggies (larger, four-wheel, vehicles).
As Lana and Gannon watched the dump through their scopes, they also spotted a couple three wheeled warbuggies, and a larger six-wheeled buggy that had a bladed ram in the front, and a five-tubed rokkit launcha mounted on a swivel near the front, and in back, room for at least two Orks to ride so they could shoot. They watched this vehicle carefully for almost ten minutes, wondering if it could be the Mekboss’ HQ vehicle. But it wasn’t; none of the Orks seemed to have any command authority at all, and no Nob markings.
There was a large vehicle, actually a wartrukk, with four wheels and a big grabber on the back, probably something they used to reclaim damaged or broken-down vehicles, or those stranded in rough terrain.
The menagerie of different types of Mekboy vehicles at this dump, numbered a little over twelve. The dump itself had a large Gretchen crew, with an area that looked like some kind of repair shop. There were two hastily-built wartowers armed with twin-linked big shootas that had Ork crews. They counted three guards, all Nobz. The dump was also in a location with numerous trees that had high trunks and lots of overhanging foliage, something that would make the dump almost impossible to spot using the optics of a satellite.
Lana's first plan for tagging bio-fuel dumps was to use her sniper rifle, which could silently shoot a bullet with a micro transmitter inside. The tag could then be activated once her team was far enough away. But, this dump had way more vehicles and crew around it than she had expected. Firing even a silent bullet had a chance to be noticed, which would definitely alert the dump. They waited for about an hour just to see if anything resembling a Mekboss showed up. But, their wait didn't pay off.
Then Lana had an idea, but it meant getting wet. There was a wide stream that flowed down from the mountains from the northeast; after about two kilometers, it turned sharply and went through the center of the bio-fuel dump going south for a short time, then turned back northwest, where, further on, it meandered westward until it went through a small swamp and emptied out into the channel inlet next to the Corporate Guard's left flank.
She explained the plan to Gannon, showing him on the map. "Right here, I'm going to get into the stream and let it take me down stream. Once I'm in the water, I want you to walk straight west until you hit the stream again. We'll meet there." She looked at the big man, explaining. "I think you and your heavy bolter will make way too big of a log."
They both had hoods as part of their cameleoline fatigue shirts. When closed in front, it became like a mask, which would make Lana's head look very much like the log she was holding onto.
"You know, sometimes those trigger happy Orks fire at floating logs in the water." Gannon mentioned seriously. "Why don't we throw some logs in the water and let those float down and see what happens first."
"That's a good idea." Lana smiled.
The stream was about one kilometer to the north. They made the trip staying as far as they could away from the commotion of the bio-fuel dump, coming upon a bike trail, which turned out to be vacant simply because the bridge that was supposed to be there was broken.
Once they were at the stream, they threw an ample amount of wood from the broken bridge and a few small logs into the stream, watching as they floated down stream, eventually disappearing under a stone bridge in the center of the dump.
Watching closely, they noticed that the smaller pieces of wood went unnoticed. However, the larger pieces drew some attention, but were still not fired on.
It was now Lana's turn. She would hide underneath a small log, then when she was right under the bridge, unseen, she would attach the tag by hand. She would then continue to float down stream until she met up with Gannon.
Gannon sat and waited, concealed by the vegetation next to the stream. By, Lana's estimation, they should've both reached the spot next to the stream almost at the same time. But, the stream was slow, and Gannon had doubled-timed his way to his position. He waited for almost fifteen minutes when a suspicious log suddenly turned into a very wet, Special Ops Officer.
Gannon smiled, happy to see her, then asked, "tagged?"
"When are you going to call Commissar Ross?"
Lana had to explain. "Well, I'm going to have to wait awhile for that." She pointed in the direction of the dump she had just come from. "That's tag, alpha. The next one is going to be, bravo." She showed him the map on her oPOD. "After we tag bravo, we'll make our way to this point, about five kilometers to the south. We'll hide right next to this stream, which is a branch of the stream we're following now. There, I'll call Commissar Ross and activate the first tag." She grinned. "We should be far enough away from the mayhem caused by the first barrage to be safe. I have a feeling the Mekboyz are going to be a little upset--and more than trigger happy, once they see their bio-fuel dump get destroyed. Once bravo gets blown up, I think they're going to be suspicious they have an enemy in their midst and send bikes looking for us."
The bio-fuel dump she was going to tag as bravo was about five kilometers northwest of the first one. Once they arrived, they quickly saw that the dump didn't appear to be there anymore, the ground heavily soaked with bio-fuel, which was what the shuttle's scanners must've found during the night.
However, a small outpost still remained, maned by about a dozen Gretchen, all armed with captured lasguns. Lana and Gannon remained concealed, waiting for almost an hour. Eventually, two wartrukks showed up from the north, each one mounting a big shoota in front, and two Ork shoota boyz in the back. They watched as two Gretchen began operating a hand pump, then as two more Gretchen began filling the wartrukks with fuel from an underground source. When they were finished, the wartrukks took off south and disappeared.
During the pumping of the bio-fuel, it had looked like everyone was busy, making a lots of noise. During that time, Lana had fired a tag into the trunk of a dead tree right next to the outpost. It was now time for them to move south.
Lana and Gannon basically followed the stream south until they found a small dense patch of woods right next to the stream further down. From everything Lana had learned about the Mekboyz, they tended to avoid the streams and rivers until they had to actually cross one. If worse came to worse, they could both lay down in the stream and hide, using their snorkels.
After finding some heavy brush to hide in, Lana called Commissar Ross.
"Hello, this is Sergeant First Class Snyder. Is this Officer LaFong?" The man that answered was obviously not Ross.
Lana had to think. "Um, do I need to speak to Commissar Ross, or--"
"Commissar Ross and my CO are in a meeting." The man spoke confidently. "I'm the one actually in charge of firing the Bombards and making sure they hit."
"Good." Lana was pleased. "I have two bio-fuel dumps tagged for you...I'm activating them now." Lana began explaining the details of each dump, the Sergeant surprised at how cleverly the Mekboyz had hidden bravo dump.
"Let me bring that information up on my map." The Sergeant spoke, then there was a long delay. "Okay. Are you going to be in visual contact with any of these dumps?"
"No, I'm afraid not." Lana made it clear. "We're currently at this location." She sent him the coordinates. "Once you blast those dumps the Mekboyz are going to go nuts, driving around shooting at anything that moves...especially the tops of hills."
"Yes, you're probably right." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, I'm going to fire the barrage this way: I'm allocating one gun to hit bravo, and two guns to hit alpha. Once bravo is destroyed, which shouldn't take but a couple shots, all three guns will pound alpha."
"Very, nice." Lana was going to mention doing it the same way.
"Let me know when you tag the others. Sergeant Snyder out."
Next, Lana called Bull, who told her everything was fine as far as any Corporate offensive activity. He then mentioned an earlier account in the morning where the Guardsmen got one of their Chimera’s knocked out when two Mekboy warbuggies drove in suicidally and fired off some kind of five-barreled rokkit launchas. Both Ork vehicles were easily destroyed afterwards.
Right after Lana's conversation with Bull, the barrage began, the loud explosions echoing across the landscape. And as she expected, Mekboy vehicles were soon seen in the distance, many charging up hills, shooting first.
Lana and Gannon remained at their location for a little over an hour, during which the Mekboyz seemed to fire at almost anything, in one case, blasting a small building to pieces that was located about four hundred meters away to the east, one of the rockets exploding on a tree nearby where they lay concealed after it missed the building.
Afterwards, they had lunch. Lana had her power bars. Gannon, he pulled out and unwrapped a large sub-sandwich. As he ate, Lana looked at him, thinking how good the big sandwich looked in comparison to her hard, crunchy, bars. When he offered her a bite, she couldn't refuse, so they shared lunches. Thinking to herself, she had to admit: When it came to simple things, like packing a lunch, the two big guys really were smart.
Eventually, the activity of Mekboy vehicles appeared to be less prevalent, but it was obvious they were now on guard. Lana and Gannon followed the stream east for a little while then dashed over to a long wooded area, continuing on until the current woods stopped, with about a two hundred meter gap to the next wooded area.
To the east, about a hundred and fifty meters, they could see a couple Mekboy vehicles sitting next to each other; it was obvious they had been stationed there as observers, but now were just chatting.
The gap they had to cross was mostly open terrain. From their current position, they could see where the bio-fuel dump should be, but it was obvious there was no great congregation of Orks, Gretchen, or vehicles. It was hard to tell if there was anything there at all. They would have to cross the gap.
It was very possible for them to run across the gap and not be spotted; but, if they were, that would be a quick end to their mission. Lana decided to crawl the way, both of them, their cameleoline-covered fatigues making them almost invisible from any distance.
After entering the small wooded area, they spotted the dump, about three hundred meters away to the southwest. Again, there didn't appear to be a dump there; however there were lots of Bombard artillery craters, like the area had been shelled many times. Directly to the west, one hundred meters away, little remained of a stone bridge that was obviously destroyed by a previous barrage.
Then she spotted it, what looked like a tunnel going underground on the north side. On the east side, there looked to be another tunnel entrance. Was the entire dump underground, and big enough so vehicles could drive down into it? When she spotted a warbuggy coming from the south, she watched until it reached the dump, then disappeared, downward, proving not only that there was a tunnel on that side as well, but her theory in general.
She continued to watch, then as two warbikes came in from the east, and disappeared. Three vehicles had entered the tunnels, but none had come out...and didn't come out. That led to a strong possibility the dump was part of a tunnel complex, the Ork vehicles entering and coming out someplace else.
Lana decided she had to call Sergeant Snyder. After she explained the situation, he recognized the location and knew it well, and had ordered his Bombards to fire there often. However, the tunnel complex was new. He was very happy for the information, but would have to get authorization from Commissar Ross before allocating the amount of ammunition it would take to completely destroy the site. Since there was no way to tell if there was an actual bio-fuel dump underground, she told him to pass on this dump for now, she'd tag it later. But, he told her once they were out of the area, he'd fire a few rounds anyway to at least close down the tunnels, no tag necessary. Just call when they're ready.
Lana and Gannon made their way a short distance to the stream, where it was not as wide anymore, but much deeper with just as much foliage along the sides. Staying on the north side of the stream, they followed it west, then southwest until they saw a small, but very wet swamp to the south. The stream and the swamp emptied out into the beginnings of a much wider stream, where it split into two streams, the larger one flowing southwest then south, eventually turning west to form a small lake surrounded by swamp. The second stream headed northwest toward where the Corporate Guardsmen had their lines; it eventually turned south and flowed into the inlet right next the Guardsmen's right flank.
At the wide part of the stream, next to a large mound, they sat looking south, the direction they had to go. On the other side they spotted a rocky area, where there was a curious rock formation, three large tall rocks all connected, forming a kind of tripod with one other rock, nearly the same size and shape, sitting on top the other three, like it was balanced. They remembered seeing the top rock in the distance when they were five hundred meters away, thinking it was on a hill.
Lana made a call, and soon they heard the sounds of Bombard explosions in the distance, nine explosions in all, then it stopped. By then they had made the swim across the wide part of the stream. This was the second time getting wet for Lana; but, it was a hot day, she knew they'd both dry off soon.
Then they traveled south between the small, wet, swamp on their left and the much larger swamp on their right, eventually turning southeast to enter a wooded area.
From here, there were no more streams they could follow for extended concealment. They were very close to a trail that ran east west, but it didn't look very well used, if at all. She spotted a hill about two kilometers away to the southeast. From there she could gather more information about the surrounding area and the one dump that was further south.
As they traveled, this time they had to keep a watch for Mekboy vehicles in the distance, stopping often to scan the area, then move on. By the late afternoon, they reached the hill.
The rocks and high grass on the hill made good cover as they examined the landscape around them. To the west, where the large swamp was, they spotted the occasional wartrukk, either traveling east on its way to the dump located about two kilometers to the southeast, or traveling west, back to the swamp...like it was some kind of supply route.
Lana spent the next fifteen minutes looking at the bio-fuel dump and the surrounding area. There were plenty Mekboy vehicles, but these seemed to be more organized, and they all had different markings from the others she had seen so far. On a large hill one kilometer east of the dump, there was a large building made out of cinder blocks and old prefabs, an actual Ork structure.
To the east, there was a small hill, and after that a larger hill, strangely shaped like a backward ‘L'. Lana was planning to make her way to the highest point of the larger hill, the top of the ‘L', but, she spotted a small Gretchen observation outpost there. No good!
"Oh, LuLu." That was Gannon with an urgent warning. There was a smaller hill to their west. He kept looking through his scope as he talked. "There's an Gretchen outpost on that hill. God...I don't know how they didn't spot us when we came here!"
"Where?" Lana was having trouble spotting it.
"That clump of trees...with the rocks--"
"Damn...now I see it." Lana was surprised. "They might've been sleeping--"
"Or slacking off." Gannon mentioned another alternative.
"She continued to watch, speaking, "they look a little young, probably, Grots." She sighed. "We gotta get out of here." She began checking out the terrain to the north. "See that small patch of trees?"
"About two hundred meters--"
"Yes. Okay," Lana began explaining, "once we see the Grots looking the other way, we run there."
"Why don't we wait until dark?"
She pointed south, where Gannon spotted a warbuggy with two Gretchen sitting on the back. It was moving slowly as to not knock its passengers off, but it was obviously headed for the hill they were now on..and would be there in minutes.
When she saw the Grots on the westward hill start playing, she led Gannon at a run to the small wooded area, a place with trees and plenty of high grass. Once there, Lana used her scope to look at the Gretchen, now taking their position on the hill they had just abandoned.
She sighed, deeply. "They have equipment with them."
"Some kind of night vision." She paused for emphasis. "And these are not just Grots. They're regular Gretchen. The night shift."
"So, what do you want to do?
She continued looking through her scope, then she spotted the warbuggy moving through the gap between the two hills, then as it drove up to the hill with the Grots, who quickly ran over and got on the vehicle, which headed back in the direction of the dump.
"A changing of the guards." Lana muttered to herself.
She switched her scope to the first hill and spotted the Gretchen, who still seemed to be getting ready for their shift. Now was the time. "Okay...let's go back to those woods next to the swamp. GO!"
The two Space Marines ran the distance back to the woods, not looking back or around. When they made it, then they checked around to see if they were spotted...and, apparently they weren't.
After they had caught their breaths, Gannon asked, pointing in the direction of the bio-fuel dump they had just come from. "Do you think that's where the Mekboss is? You said they were more organized over there."
Lana slowly shook her head, but answered, “I don’t know. Just because they’re better organized doesn’t mean that’s where the Mekboss is. In fact, in this case, quite the opposite. All I know is that we are staying away from that area. I’m not going to tag that dump--no way. Tomorrow, we’ll tag the dump that’s six kilometers east of here. From there, we’ll continue east, to the lower foothills, then come back to this section of woods,” she pointed at a sizable section of forest on the map. “From there, if its clear of Orks, we’ll try to get to the top of this hill. From there we’ll look around and see if we can spot anything that appears to be a Mekboss.”
"And, if not?"
"We go back to the foothills, stay until dark, then have Bull come pick us up." She smiled. "It might be possible the Mekboss is already dead...hit by one of the barrages. Either way, destroying those bio-fuel dumps should do something."
"He could be hiding underground someplace." Gannon guessed.
Lana agreed with a gesture and added, "if he's down there, then there's no way to get at him at this time."
"If he is down there, and his own people take him out, then..."
"We'll never know about it. Only time will tell." Lana tried to remain positive.
Before nightfall, Lana and Gannon finished off the rest of their normal food. From now on, they’d have to eat the remaining power bars they had with them. They found a comfortable place, and bedded down for the night.