CHAPTER 08.1

Approx.3400 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ

The Rise of Chaos:

Chaos Briefing  

 

written by  SJ

 

 

    Upon returning to Camp Cheyenne, Lana was told to report to Major Taliaferro's office right away. Once she was there, he couldn't help notice, “I see Sergeant Dakota gave you one of her totems.” It was obvious he was happy to see his favorite student again...and continue her training. Lana had attached the totem to her collar, opposite her rank. “I’m glad the two of you hit it off. She’s a good Marine. I remember training her back several years ago...to Level 1. Not many regular Marines do that.”
    After hearing about Lana’s interest in escape training, Taliaferro decided to extend that training, plus add in a few more ways to pick more complex locks, even though those wouldn’t be covered fully until Level 3. For the most part, Lana was almost Level 2 already.
    Special Ops personnel were required to be able to pick up and use almost any weapon available, friend or foe, with above average accuracy. Many of the weapons she was only able to just read about and practice with in the holo-suites. A few were available at the Camp Cheyenne armory, which consisted mostly of Tau and Orc weapons. She also had to learn how to drive most of the Marine and Imperial Guard vehicles and use their attached weapons, along with learning how to fly a standard Marine shuttle.
    After about a month, the Major was proud to hand her staff sergeant bars along with a raise to Level 2 Special Ops. Afterwards she was updated about the current events on Cornucopia along with more information on the Chaos forces there.
    So far there had been no more random WARP openings in or around farming towns. The Emperor Corporation’s science ship now had a way to detect and close WARP openings and were able to do so from their ship in orbit, or so they said; but, there was a limit to how many openings they could close at once, and it was considerably slow. Gladly, they never got put to a test.
    Currently, all Chaos forces were based in and around a Terran mine near a desert flood plains well away from most of the regular farming towns:
    There appeared to be two groups of Chaos forces: Khorne, known primarily as the Blood God, seemed to have the most followers at the mine. It was their mark that was clearly displayed on the shoulders of their dark, dull-red, battle suits; those spotted from space were armed mostly with hand weapons, bolt pistols and what appeared to be some kind of axe.
    Major Taliaferro could find only one reference to Tzeentch: The Changer of the Ways. However, he had no idea what that meant. The mark of Tzeentch, seemed to be a small circle with a long flame coming from the left side curving upward, and a small, short, point on the right.
    How many Tzeentch forces there were at the mine, they were uncertain; but they thought it was less than Khorne. At one time, they were able to spot a squad of six Tzeentch Chaos Marines, all in dirty, dark-blue, battle suits carrying bolters; and like Khorne, each had the mark on the left shoulder of their battle suits, the mark of Chaos on the opposite side. However, the Tzeentch mark on the battle suits were different: an eye in the middle of a yellow, eight-pointed, irregular star.
    This was all orbital intelligence was able to pick up before a mass of dark clouds covered the mine and surrounding area. They expected the clouds to go away, but they seemed to persist--and eventually became impenetrable to scanners.
    The next day, Staff Sergeant LaFong was on her way to Proxima Altair, there to join up with her fellow Space Marines.
    ********
    All along, Lana had been concerned about her fellow Marines. They had been on Cornucopia for a little over three months. However, shortly after arriving in Proxima Altar, instead of landing down at the same old place, the dreary bauxite quarry, she stayed in orbit, then took a shuttle to one of Cornucopia’s biggest and best space stations where her Marine buddies had spent many days and nights while off-duty in luxury suites at the station’s largest hotel. She was greeted as soon as she got out of the shuttle in a nearly brand-new space dock.
    “Hey, LuLu.” Gannon took her suitcase-duffle bag.
    “Little Sister...welcome back to Cornucopia.” That was Bull. “You’ll have to rough it like the rest of us while we’re here.” The big man grinned. “We got you a honeymoon suite.”
    Even though Lana didn’t jump up and down with glee, she was very happy to see the two big guys again. “A honeymoon suite, huh?”
    “Yep...one of the best rooms in the place.” Gannon added.
    “So how’s Melinda been doing?” Lana was hoping to meet her at the space dock.
    The three Marines continued to walk and talk down the newly carpeted hallways of the space station. Gannon answered Lana’s question by telling her she was not in charge of second Scout squad anymore. He explained that she was now attached to the General’s HQ staff...or something like that. And before she asked, he told her that Ramcke was in charge of the squad, but it had been shipped back to Camp Cheyenne for rebuilding.
    As soon as they entered Lana’s honeymoon suite, Gannon got a call on his com. It was Colonel Gallardo. “Hey...you guys show her to her room, yet?”
    “Yeah...we’re here.”
    “Good...as soon as she’s squared away, escort her over to my office.”
    “She hasn’t even unpacked yet.” Gannon complained. “I think she just stepped into the bathroom.”
    “Well...blow her nose, wipe her butt and get her over here, pronto. Gallardo out.” The Colonel jested in his own colorful way, but with his message understood loud and clear.
    Lana put her hands on her hips and sighed at hearing the Colonel’s comment. Just when she was beginning to miss his jokes, she gets one like that. She shook her head, then headed for the door. “I guess we better get over there. Lead the way, guys.”
    ********
    Colonel Gallardo had been given a small office with a big window overlooking the planet below. Cornucopia could be seen clearly with all its verdant, green, colors, plus it’s many blue lakes. Lana took a couple seconds to stare as the Colonel produced a holographic image of the current battlefield on his large, multi-purpose desk.
    Lana had a map of the same area downloaded into her oPOD, and had examined it more than once before arriving in the Proxima Altair system. But it looked very different now; there seemed to be a whole lot more water were the river should be. In fact, it looked more like the river and its surrounding flood plains had turned into a long jagged coast line.
    There was a long peninsula jutting out eastward, broad at the end, narrow in the middle. She pointed at the broad end, where there was a small town, looking more like a coastal village now, with a hill just west of it. “That’s the town of Kepet, right? And the mine is on the hill.”
    Gallardo handed her a short, but useful pointer.
    Lana then pointed out the town and mine again.
    “Yes...you’re absolutely correct.” Gallardo smiled. “And what’s that you say...yes, Sergeant LaFong, the flood plains are flooded...and then some. My feet feel soggy all the way up here. Somehow those Chaos creeps have produced a large black cloud...and it’s been raining off and on for almost a month. The flax crops are ruined.” The Colonel had that familiar, joking-but-serious smile on his face.
    “Yeah...but I bet the fishing's improved.” Lana tried to match Gallardo’s levity.
    She got a little bit of a smile out of the Colonel before he adjusted the holo controls to show what the terrain looked like before the flood.
    “Wow.” Lana’s raised eyebrows spoke louder than her words.
    Just then there was a faint buzz, and the General’s larger-than-life face appeared on a video monitor overlooking the holo-map.
    “Well...speak of the devil.” Gallardo commented, jokingly.
    “The devil...who’s the devil?” General Parker grinned with a cheerful scowl. “Why, I’m twice as mean...and three times as ugly as the devil.”
    The Colonel laughed cordially.
    Lana just stood and half-smiled.
    “Hey...is that Sergeant LaFong I see there?”
    “Yes, sir.” Gallardo confirmed. “She just arrived. I was just about to bring her up to speed on current events and disposition of forces.”
    With the General’s indulgence, the Colonel then began to point out troop locations on the holo-map. The flood waters had created a kind of inlet on the northwest side of the Kepet peninsula a little less than one kilometer wide. Located on the opposite side of the inlet, facing the mine, were three squads of Imperial Guardsmen, with three Chimera APCs as transport, each of those armed with multi-lasers only, no hull armament. For combat support, the Guardsmen had three heavy bolter teams. They were supposed to have a Leman Russ Demolisher tank, but it never arrived, the transfer orders, more than likely, getting lost in corporate paper work.
    The Emperor Corporation’s Imperial Guard was commanded by High Commissar Yarrick, who also held the rank of Major as far as the other military services were concerned. He preferred being in direct command of any troops he had assigned to him, and during those times, was referred to as Major Yarrick by most of the other commanders. He was in charge of the current force of Guardsmen, along with a mortar team that he always had with him.
    General Parker had placed a young, but experienced combat officer by the name of Captain William Davis in charge of his three Federal Marine squads. They were located right at the beginning to the Kepet peninsula, spread out to cover the one-half kilometer entrance. When the final assault was ordered, they would be the ones assigned the task of actually going into the mine. The General had made sure his squads were armed with the best equipment, melta-bombs, grenade launchers, and novaguns (sometimes called, hellguns, by the Imperial Guard).
    The General went on to explain about how ten days ago, first Marine squad was attacked by a new type of crazed Cultist warrior. “These things were red-brown with dark blotches all over them. Their bodies had a bunch of Khorne symbols burned right into their skin. They were best described as humanoid, about two meters high--with inhuman strength. I don’t know how they got that close to my Marines, but it was like they came right up out of the mud.” The General swore, thanking his lucky stars. “First squad had my best men in it. Had this been any other squad...I would’ve had to bury some of them. The way it was...I had four men injured serious enough to be taken out of the line, broken bones mostly. And all this from fifteen Cultists armed with nothing more than blunt, heavy-metal clubs. We’re classifying these things as Khorne Cultist Berserkers.” Parker smiled proudly before continuing: “Captain Davis was nearby. He got in there and killed nine of the things...shooting them straight through the head with that laser-sighted, hand bolter of his.” He looked at Lana, who stared back, intrigued. “We’ve had time to autopsy those things; make sure you download the data into your oPOD. We don’t know where they got these things...but, they’re sure not human.”
    When there was a pause in the General’s comments, Gallardo proceeded to show Lana where the Cheyenne Rangers were located, one and a half kilometers south of the Federal Marine squads. He had a rotation of two squads on duty, one squad off. The same was with the three remaining Scout squads; however, they were usually located on the opposite side of the river, patrolling around in their Land Speeders.
    The Cheyenne Rangers had been on Cornucopia for months; it was the Generals contention to give them a little light duty for a change. However, the Colonel’s Predator tank crew hadn’t been so lucky. Just after the Khorne Cultist Berserker attack, Parker asked for a loan. He needed the tank for support, and for the final assault, up, to, and before, his Federal Marines entered the mine. All the rest of the Space Marines were back at Camp Cheyenne. As for the Omicron Rangers, they had gotten recalled about two months earlier with reports of increased Ork activity on Epsilon Eridani 3.
    The General, at this time, decided to inform Sergeant LaFong on much more current events. “I don’t know if you’d been informed or not, inside the mine, there were eleven civilians, trapped. Apparently, the mine got attacked from the inside...some kind of WARP opening. The mine’s been mostly inactive for years, but there were a few miners in there when the attack occurred; most of them were killed. Those few that got away, got a message to the town, which was what allowed all of them to escape. Deeper in the mine, there are some caverns. Ever since they were discovered, there’s been some scientists studying the flora and fauna in there. Unfortunately, they didn’t get away. They had apparently barricaded themselves in a storage area down on one of the lowest levels, and had been there ever since. Shortly after the Chaos clouds appeared, we lost contact with them. That was until recently.”
    The General cleared his throat, then continued. “Several days ago, Major Yarrick brought down from his command cruiser his special Mercenary Guard squad. His initial plan was to knock out a couple Chaos Rhinos armed with Havoc missile launchers that were located behind the mine, dug in so we couldn’t get a good shot at them.” Gallardo blew up a picture of the mine and displayed it above the holo-map, showing part of the town of Kepet, the hill, the mine-building itself, and the concrete wall connected to the mine-building, which enclosed a kind of parking/supply area about one hundred meters square. He then pointed out the exact location for Lana.
    The General thanked the Colonel, then continued. “Chaos forces have dug themselves in behind that concrete wall. We take bolter fire from them occasionally. But as you can see, they can’t fire directly behind the mine, or into the town of Kepet. Under a barrage of blind smoke, Yarrack used a Chimera to transport his Mercenary Guard, plus a fire support team, while I flew in one of my Marine squads and took the town from the east supported by one of your Scout squads. While the Chimera used its multi-laser to pin down the Havocs, a couple of Yarrick’s men, using the Chimera for cover, used a combination of plasma guns and meltaguns to knock out all the Rhinos. However, before the Chimera could withdraw, it was put out of action by some Chaos version of the Mk-1 heavy bolter using it’s larger AP ammunition. Almost at the same time, ten Khorne Chaos Marines came out of the two Rhinos and attacked our infantry before we were ready with the heavy weapons. But we took them out anyway. Yarrick’s Mercenary Guard took three casualties, my Marines took two...no KIAs--I am happy to say. Even the crew of the Chimera made it out okay...all wounded.”
    When there was a pause, Lana examined the holo-image of the mine and had to ask, “what about the civilians? You know sometimes those mines have emergency exits--”
    The General smiled, then laughed. “You’re way ahead of me Sergeant. That’s exactly why I sent my Marines into the town. There absolutely IS an emergency exit--a vertical shaft that goes right down to the exact level the civilians were on. We got them out two days ago. No problems. They told us they’d thought about using the shaft to escape themselves, but were too afraid ever since they heard voices outside the storage area once. However, they did give us a name: They said one of the voices mentioned, Nehemiah as some sort of leader.”
    “Shortly after we got the civilians out, we made another attempt to contact the Chaos forces in the mine, this time asking for Nehemiah directly.” The General smiled. “We finally got an answer...but all we got was: ‘All unbelievers that trespass upon the Erebus Cathedral will be destroyed.’”
    After a substantial pause, the General began speaking again, this time on another subject. “That emergency exit has given us an excellent opportunity to assault the mine from two directions at once. One, using my Marines from the front, and a second, more specialized force, using that emergency exit.” He sat back an pondered. “Lately, we haven’t taken any fire from the mine perimeter at all...and it seems as though some of them have withdrawn inside the mine; but I could be wrong.” He sighed, then rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Sergeant LaFong, what would you say if I ask you to lead a squad of Marines to go down in that emergency exit and make a diversionary attack from inside?”
    Lana was actually taken by surprise. She wasn’t even a Level 3 Special Ops, yet. She answered tentatively. “Well...I would first need some time to study the mine schematics...obtain a little more information from those civilians that were trapped, and...”
    The General grinned widely, then smiled, his next statement directed at Gallardo. “You see, Colonel. You see what I mean about the difference between Special Ops, and just, well-trained, veteran, troops.”
    Lana sat...taken by surprise again, but curious.
    “When I told the men of my first Marine squad about this mission...do you know what they said.” The General laughed. “They said...`we’re ready to go, sir...right now if necessary.’ Brave men one and all...but NOT Special Ops. What does Sergeant LaFong say? `I need schematics to the mine...I need MORE information.’ Only a damn fool would lead troops into an unknown location without being fully prepared.”
    The General sat forward, addressing Lana. “Sergeant, if you were a Level 3 Special Ops, I would have no problem asking you to lead an Ops team down into that mine for what I think would be one hell-of-a good diversionary attack.” The General smiled confidently, addressing Gallardo. “But...if possible, I’d still like her to accompany the team that does go down. Give me some time. Yarrick had something planned with his Mercenary Guard...I think we might be able to add her in as an advisor.”
    The Colonel nodded, agreeing.
    The General sat, seemly lost in thought; he then sat forward, speaking affirmatively. “Colonel...my orders for right now is for LaFong to take it easy...she’s got twelve hours to relax and rest. She just jumped into this system, right? Space-lag can be a one unholy bitch. Once she’s rested, she can study those schematics and gather what ever information she needs. I’ll contact the both of you in fourteen hours. General Parker out.”
    The video screen winked out.
    The two Marines sat and stared at each other a second, neither knowing what to say. The Colonel spoke first. “Okay...LaFong, you heard the General, you’re officially off duty...go out, rest, relax, join your buddies in the hotel lounge, they’re probably waiting for you.” As she stood up to leave, the Colonel continued. “Put that nice honeymoon suite to good use...”
    As she started for the door, she had to turn and respond to his last comment, smiling weakly. “I think I’m more tired than horny, sir.”
    “Well...I only meant, those rooms have nice big comfortable beds, not...”
    Just as she opened the door to leave, she joked. “That’s okay, sir...I didn’t bring a cue ball with me, anyway...”
    There was a delay, but she thought she heard a chuckle from the Colonel as she closed the door.

 



 

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