40,000 ways to die: Blood Shrine
Just wanted to drop off a copy of the first segment of the first story of my short story series im writing for my 40k Blog. The series is titled 40,000 ways to die and focuses on the imperial guard. Criticism is welcome, thats why im sharing it with you all and encouraging you to visit my Blog HERE. My Blog is rather new so expect a lot more to come, especially in the way of my 40,000 ways to die series.
*Note* I have noticed the formatting has changed going from MS Word to the web, any advice on this minor issue would be helpful too.
40,000 ways to die: Blood Shrine
Thousands of weary men huddled around makeshift fires warming their numb hands. Hundreds of scant foxholes marred the forest floor as snow massed conifers sagged into the sky. Groups of tattered greatcoats vigilantly eyed the depths of the frozen forest. Tucked in their foxholes the soldiers of the Balpiene 15th traded stories from their homeworld and traded swigs of cheap amasec. The smell of thermite and scorched earth filled the air and splintered trees lay smashed about the forest floor. Past the frontline lay thousands of snow mounds littered amongst grand craters. A bayonet poked defiantly out of a snow mound, a stray helmet lay half buried at another. This was the Imperial frontline on the once pristine shrine world Tor.
It was quiet inside the dim crew compartment of the Leman Russ battle tank "Triumphus". Six men sat at their stations in quiet anticipation. Sergeant Pavlo Kravec sat at the commanders station monitoring the Imperial Vox channels. His tank had been attached to the Balpiene 15th in preparation for the massive Imperial offensive codenamed "Coldblood". Kravec wiped a layer of sweat from his face, while temperatures remained freezing outside his ferro-steel chassis inside it was stifling. Tendrils of anticipation wafted around the crew compartment, many men would die this day.
"Chura advance twenty meters into position and halt," Kravec checked his periscopes and poked at his command cogitator. Trooper Chura sat in the cramped driver's seat at the front of the tank and gunned the war machine foreword. The massive engines bellowed a mighty roar even the crews' bulky vox headsets couldn’t muffle. He eyed the frigid trees out of his small viewport as cool air splashed against his face. Ragged Balpeine Troops gathered in squads around the massive trees cheered as the tank roared past. "Pop that frakking hatch Stupak," Trooper Martyn Demchek said from the left bolter sponsen. He and his brother Marko manned the claustrophobic bolter sponsens.
"Negative," Main gunner Stupak breathed as he swung the battle cannon turret round to avoid a massive sagging tree limb.
"Open that fraking hatch Stupak or im going to cut your liver out," Marko bellowed up the compartment. Kravec nodded an agreement to Stupak as the Trooper refused the plea once more. He knew all too well the dangers of the coming artillery barrage. Alpha company had already lost a whole tank crew from a stray artillery shell, for now they would sweat. To make matters worse, smoke tendrils rose up from below Kravec and Stupaks position at the top of the compartment.
" Petrovich put that dam cigar out, how many times must I tell you,"
The Ordinance loader looked up from his position next to the brothers in the belly of the tank and puffed his cigar defiantly, his gray beard twisted in a knot. Kravec glared down at the aging loader, his last nerve spent and gripped his laspistol. His hand on his service pistol; Kravec hesitated as Balpeine commanders commenced the operation over his command vox. The old bulldog would have to wait to feel his wraith. Kravec eyed hundreds of Balpiene troops rushing forward traversing through splintered trees and corpse mounds. The wailing of a Ministorum priests fiery sermon was blaring over the vox net. The assault had begun.
"Crew to arms, this is it, let's end this so we can get off this miserable world" Kravec set a course forward through a clear copse of intact trees. " Il deal with you later old man," Kravec glared down at Petrovich. He nodded without returning the look and slammed a huge shell into the battle cannon breach.
Imperial Artillery roared into life as dozens of Basalisks spat death into the enemy position. Across the Imperial lines Thousands of Imperial troops and battle tanks stormed across the frigid forest. Enemy artillery began to respond back as ordinance pulped men and trees alike. The forest lit up with the massive exchange of artillery raining down upon it. The tank chugged on at the forefront of the assault. Several moments of brutal shelling boomed off the tanks armor as they began to close on the traitors' frontline. Tank commander Kravec spotted the enemies forward positions. A shallow trench system built up by log palisades decorated in the heads of slaughtered imperial citizens. An explosion of las rounds erupted from both sides as the heretics' heavy weapons began ripping guardsmen apart by the dozen. The Demchek brothers opened up on their bolters lacing a few heavy stubber emplacements with fist sized rounds. Balpiene Troops scrambled forward firing full auto from the hip in a desperate attempt to close on the enemy. Gunner Stupak fired the battle cannon shaking the whole tank with its massive percussion. The round impacted the heretics palisade blowing gore and earth high into the air. Loader Petrovich slammed another round into the chamber as autogun rounds pinged off of the tanks hull.
"Missile Teams have a bead," Chura shouted. He attempted to turn the massive tank to face the threat as missiles seared past his vew port. Several exploded off the tank sending Petrovich face first into the ammo compartment. He patted his beard out as the crushed cigar sizzled away. Kravec grinned at him. It would take a lucky shot to knock the Leman Russ out with those. Marko swung his bolter to face the teams and poured explosive shells into them. He smiled as his shots detonated the launchers in a massive fireball. The battle cannon boomed taking out a duo of heavy bolters pinning several dozen guardsmen. The guardsmen whooped prayers to the emperor as the round eviscerated the dug in gunners.
The tank sloshed through imperial bodies and bucked across a smoldering culvert closing with the palisade. Kravec ordered the tank to a stop and focused on directing his firepower on targets that Balpiene officers wailed over the vox. The temperature inside the tank was unbearable. Most of the crew had stripped off their flack vests and zipped open their coveralls. He spun his periscopes around calling out targets for Stupack. The Demchek brothers fired at will, providing cover fire for the Balpeine advance and the stationary tank alike. Searing hot spent shells poured into the tanks floor as the bolters thumped rounds into the palisade. Both brothers began to roar as the tanks cannon rapped the walls of the tank and punched gaps into the enemy fortifications. Kravec marked enemy weapon positions on his cogigator as fast as the infantry officers were calling them in. Stupak sighted and fired the main cannon as fast as Petrovich could slam shells into the cannons wide mouth breach. Kravec grinned as he noticed Balpeine troops closing on the palisade. It was hard to make out the enemy infantry through the thick smog of artillery soot so Kravec was depending on the Balpeine commanders to relay any threats to him. It was a prospect that made him uneasy. He craned his periscopes across the battle torn palisade. He whipped the scope back doing a double take. Smoke billowed into the sky far past the enemy palisade and the burned out forest. Kravec knew the hue of promethium exhaust when he saw it. The massive deep blue plume billowed into the sky. The sheer size of the smoke plume awed him. The enemy tank formation approaching was at least several hundred machines strong.
"Petrovich" Kravec yelled over the thumps of bolter fire.
"Sir" The loader looked up at him from a sea of massive shells his beard singed and wild.
"Pass me up a cigar" he said with a blank stare.