View Full Version : Die With Your Boots on

09-06-2005, 22:54
Die with your boots on.

Crewman Lazark had been serving with the Giatian 8th artillery corps since the beginning of the revolution. Lazark and private Hars manned the breach end of the self-propelled basilisk. The 8th were nestled within the bombed out remnants of a small town. Camo cloaks and grey-scaled paint schemes hid the mighty cannons from aggressors. Infantry support surrounded the main artillery position. The 8th were dug-in for the duration.

The breach block swung open and Hars rammed in another shell.
“Locking breach!” Hars shouted.
“Fire on command” Replied Lazark.
With a swift tug on the lanyard a plume of super-heated propellant gouted from the muzzle break. In one fluid motion, Hars unlocked the breach and kicked the shell off the Basilisk deck. Lazark mopped the sweat from his brow with his sleeve. He hated being so close to the hot-zone. The barrel was only elevated to 30 degrees and they weren’t even using a full charge. His confidence rested on his experience, serving with the 8th was easy compared to former engagements. He only saw a hull mounted heavy-bolter fire once, and that was because the infantry support was newly mustered and had no battle experience and thusly enemy forces got closer then predicted.

Lazark was a gunner. He received the firing orders from command and lowered or raised the massive howitzer. Once the target was confirmed and the shell loaded, he would pull the braided lanyard and the cannon would roar. Hars was a loader. His lot in life was simple. Open the breach, load a 155mm shell by punching it into the breach and seal the block. It was a simple job, repetitive but it kept him same from harms way, approximately 40 kilometers safe. Hars was relatively green but he did his job well. He was dumb, big and never asked questions. Hars was the ideal Herbie. Herbie was a term used by the Candradians, Sloggers were infantry and Herbies were artillerists, big, dumb and quite handy with a hammer. No doubt Hars grew up on an agri world where he worked farm equipment, he followed orders well which meant he was a good….very good soldier.

Lazark pressed the com-bead into his ear to better understand orders. Observation teams reported the co-ordinates of enemy positions to the artillery teams, in turn the artillery batteries would saturate the area with bombardment. Orders came through, Lazark nodded and started to lower the barrel.

“Check, dropped by 5 degrees to 25, repeat current at 25. 3 round salvo!”

Lazark swiveled the barrel lower and checked the elevation. The other Basilisk crews did the same.

“Load!” Shouted Lazark.

Hars pulled open the breach and punched a round into the chamber. A satisfied clang signified that the breach was locked. Hars nodded. Lazark pulled the lanyard and the cannon bellowed. The entire carriage recoiled under the force. Super-heated gas blasted against the ballistic shield, protecting the crew from scorching particles. Hars unlocked the breach and a steaming shell slid out.

“Load!” Bellowed Lazark.

Again Hars repeated his simple task. His muscles started to swell under the pressure. The shells were extremely heavy and a sweat had broken upon Hars’ brow.

After the last of the salvo was fired Hars dropped to the deck panting. Lazark listened carefully to the com-bead for further orders. He toyed with his dog-tags in impatience, it was a habit of his. He twiddled the metal tags with one hang and gripped the lanyard in the other. He knew that with the barrel leveled at only 25 degrees, the enemy had to be approaching but it would hard to survive a systematic barrage of explosive Hell-hammer class shells. The Hell-hammer shell was designed for anti-personnel operations. Upon contact with the ground the warhead would detonate it’s payload of quad-nitrogwenodine and consume the area in plasma gas, nothing organic would survive.

Lazark’s com-piece chimed in and an order barked through.

“Check, dropped by 7 degrees to 18, repeat current at 18. 3 round salvo!”

“Feth, they are getting close!” grumbled Lazark as Hars rammed a fresh shell into the chamber. The rounds fired off into the dusk, the entire battery loosed off their rounds in time, coordinated with immaculate precision. The taste of vaporized propellant tainted the air with a copper sting. The front crew hatch of the Basilisk popped open and the Basilisk commander stuck his head out, just enough to bark an order to the gun crew.

“Charge your rifles lads” And with that the hatch sealed back shut.

Lazark and Hars continued the bombardment. Hars booted the last shell off the deck while nursing his sore shoulder joint.

“Fething hell, Bombards have fething auto-loaders, why don’t we?”
“Charge your ***** lad” replied Lazark as he switched on his lasgun.

The order meant that enemy forces might get into small-arms range, this had only happened once before. Hars grabbed his lasgun from his mount like an aggravated gorilla. He flicked the charge setter. As Lazark fixed the gun-strap his com-bead chimed again with a new order and Lazark repeated.

“Check, drop by 8 degrees to 10, repeat current at 10. 5 salvo round….Feth”
“You’ve got to be ******** me!” Cringed Hars.
“Load your *****!” Yelled Lazark as he lowered the barrel.

Hars shouted obscenities as he loaded each round into the breach. The scorched copper scent was becoming intoxicating. It was rare to continue such a prolonged bombardment in such a short time. Lazark tugged the lanyard harder and harder hoping that each salvo would stop the advancing menace. He knew that the outer perimeter was about to be compromised. He also knew that enemy forces were also within heavy weapons range. As Hars drove the third round into the breach a screeching voice broke out amongst the battery.

“Incoming!” The figure dove into a trench and covered his head.

Lazark looked up and peered around the ballistic shield. His eyes widened as he saw the smoke trail of an RPG, a cheap and readily available anti-tank rocket launcher. His heart dropped as he realized where the rocket was going.
The rocket detonated against the edge of the ballistic shield. Molten copper cut through the tempered steel and splattered against the deck. Hars had been knocked down from the pressure wave and thumped against the bulkhead of the tread-plates. Lazark had ducked down by the breach but the blinding flash of the impact seared his retina. His vision was a blur of greens and purples. The world had become a quiet place, the soft ringing dulled out the sound of battle it was like a haven, an eye in the storm. By now the heavy-bolter mounted on the hull barked in 3 round salvos. The muzzle flash could be seen through the mutilated ballistic shield. Lazark looked up and saw the other Basilisks open fire. Guardsmen in the trenches were banked up against the walls and rounds of las-fire cut through the air. Hars rolled across the deck moaning. His uniform was splashed with blood. To Lazark’s surprise another order came through.

“Drop to Zero! Fire at Horizon!”.

Hars winced at Lazark; he knew there was another order.

“What the feth now?” Hars mumbled between broken teeth and bleeding gums.

Lazark spun the handle of the mount until the barrel reached the bottom. It was level now and he could see a wave of figures appearing through the ruins. In the distance flashes of gun-fire pierced the evening. "They are right on us," Lazark thought. Hars was still rolling across the deck nursing his right arm. Lazark unlocked the breach and started for the ammo case.

“I’ve got it you bastard.” Interrupted Hars as he stumbled towards the ammo case for a new round. “ This is my job, get back on the line”.

Hars lifted a fresh shell from the case and wobbled, his arm gave caused him excruciating agony. Las rounds pinged off the hull of the Basilisk. The enemy was almost on top of us. Hars hulked towards the breach and nearly collapsed as a stray round cut through his upper right leg. He had no protection since the shield was gone. Blood gouted from the laceration but Hars continued shambling towards the cannon. His face was locked in a grimaced expression. As he heaved the shell into position his damage arm gave through. His arm snapped under the weight of the shell. The bone pierced his skin and his fore-arm swung down. Hars roared in pain and the shell dropped and clattered onto the deck. He stumbled back in horror and his right arm flailed helplessly, back into the line-of-fire and back into the sights of a rebel soldier.
Lazark watched as a mass-reactive round thudded into Hars’ rib-cage. Gore and sinew splattered everywhere. He wiped the bloody slime from his face and picked up the dropped shell. The breach was swung closed and the lanyard pulled. Lazark didn’t know what else to do, this was his job and this was what he was good at.

He could hear the foul chanting of the rebels as they pressed through the ruins, the defensive perimeter was penetrated and it was now just a matter of time. The com-bead filled Lazark’s head with static, no more orders. Either communications was down or the commissar’s tank was destroyed. He fired shell after shell into the impending tide of foulness. He wouldn’t retreat or give up, he would die with his boots on.

06-07-2005, 02:07
The title inspired by the Iron Maiden album?

06-07-2005, 04:10
Well yes it is...Up the Irons!

07-07-2005, 16:52
that was great.. i liked it. i was going to show it to my aunt, but i got near to the end and decided that it was not the greatest idea. lol good story.

The boyz
07-07-2005, 20:25
I enjoyed reading that, it was very interesting.

P.S, Up the Irons

08-07-2005, 08:40
Good job there mate - I coudn't stop reading it!

08-07-2005, 16:35
Nice little story. :)

A bit of constuctive criticism, if I may:

Lazark spun the handle of the mount until the barrel reached the bottom. It was level now and he could see a wave of figures appearing through the ruins. In the distance flashes of gun-fire pierced the evening. They were upon us.
You and I know it's Lazark thinking that last bit (in bold), but the way it's written distracts from the original view point, which is about Lazark and Hars, not "us".
IMHO, it would be better to write something like: "They are upon us," Lazark thought.

And oh yeah, Up the irons!

08-07-2005, 17:25
Thanks very much for the correction, I suppose I should have done a more indepth proof-reading

22-07-2005, 21:50
Great story, good to see "rear echelon" combat explored a bi more deeply. Oh, Up the Irons!

Dave out.

23-07-2005, 15:55
Not bad, not bad at all.

However, the shell was heavy enough to snap Hars' arm? Little bit exaggerated, I think.

24-07-2005, 18:30
The arm was already damaged by the fall.
That and have you ever tried to lift a 155mm shell by yourself? It's no easy feat.

24-07-2005, 19:38
That I agree with. They're no small object.

Dave out.

24-07-2005, 20:49
40-odd kilos. Just under half the weight of the guy, most likely. Heavy, yeah. But to snap the bone?

24-07-2005, 21:19
Firstly, shell length was never specified, neither was the weight of the propellant. When the blast knocked him across the deck, the bone in his forearm may have been damaged, not broken but perhaps a fracture began to form, all it needed was some extra leverage to give it that final snap. A bone is going to fail in bending way faster then shear.

EDIT: Also, with an ERFB-BB, that would bring it up to approx 50kg.