The Dark Fortress

Night Repulse

Astartes Record: /// 4th Co arch /// Dark Angels
Crossfile to: /// ref: 0013042004
Author: /// Chronicler Isiah

PLEASE FIND below extracts from my battle-log 2VX/0854/207/T. The action occurred 3 nights ago.

:: Battle-log begins ::

"Stand to arms!". The order came through to our positions during the fourth watch — for the fifth or sixth time of our duty that night. Bolters were instinctively set for semi-automatic fire and reserve ammunition supplies placed conveniently nearby. We peered over the edge of our trench into the blackness of the night and saw nothing. I switched my optics to nightvision mode but due to an anomaly of the atmospherics on this planet all I saw was a bright green image of snowy electronic static. We would need all senses to be operating at 110% tonight.

Then we heard it, the distinctive metallic 'clank' of tracks moving over wheels and with it the ground trembled imperceptively, somewhere out there enemy tanks were heading for our sector.

We had been expecting an attack of some kind for weeks now and we had prepared well for every eventuality. The Garrison has been on constant battle-watch, in trenches and outer defenses constructed out of and made from the dusty rock-like ground surrounding the listening station. Fields of fire had been calculated and any obstacles offering an attacker any cover had been blasted or flamethrowered allowing us clear defensive covering arcs along the total perimeter. A new and slightly experimental weapon was also being tried here for the first time but more of that later.

The clanks became louder and more frequent accompanied by the sound of many advancing troops. Solar flares launched into the blackness slowly drifted down to illuminate vast areas of the ground in front of us, by which we could clearly see ten maybe twelve Leman Russ type tanks followed by an indeterminable number of troops on foot.

"Look to your fronts and cover your specified arcs of fire", commanded squad sergeant Zahariel through the comm-links. Safety catches clicked off and we waited. From somewhere behind us a laser shot streaked across the blackness and caught a tank in the weak area between turret and body, the tank ground on for a few more paces and came to a halt, wisps of smoke escaping through various body vents, no one got out.

And then the noise we were expecting — the heavy thud-thud-thud of twin-linked heavy bolters on rapid fire. This was one of the new weapons we have at our disposal, remote controlled sentry-guns, mounted in fixed emplacements somewhere forward of the perimeter sectors. They were carefully sited to achieve maximum impact and surprise, now they were in action for the first time.

They slow the advance for a few minutes cutting down swathes of the advancing troops but the majority press forward under the cover of the armour — a relentless tide about to break upon us. More flares go up and everything is illuminated with pin sharp clarity.

"Open fire at effective range and no sooner" orders Zahariel. I wondered if the other sectors were as threatened or whether we alone were the lucky ones.

"Plasma cannon charge-up, fire when ready". The plasma bolt hit the front ranks with devastating effect, leaving smoking heaps where men had advanced. We could now see we were up against a renegade Imperial Guard unit of some kind. These were not the power-armoured marines from some dark legion of Chaos. This would give us a fighting chance of success, as Chaos Marines are deadly foes.

The sentry guns continued to hammer out bolter shells, but one by one they were destroyed or crippled by the advancing mass, so, as usual it comes down to us to do the Emperors bidding and send his enemies to oblivion.

Then all hell breaks loose.

The advance speeds up as they near our perimeter positions and we open fire with our bolters. Laser shots stream overhead picking out the enemy's battle tanks. Several of which explode in fireballs powerful enough to engulf nearby troops in a burning sea of promethium.

Heavy shells from the advancing tanks whistle toward us and detonate with gut-wrenching thuds in front of and behind our position. To my left the plasma gunner fires another deadly bolt — to my right the rest of the squad is rapid firing. The enemy advance continues. More troops go down under our sustained fire. Another tank explodes. A shell lands too close to us, clattering a storm of shattered rock and shell fragments against power armour and ramparts alike. My bolter is becoming hot and my ammunition low. I call to Zahariel for more ammo and he sends a command back to the rear positions for more to be brought up.

Yet still they advance. The heavy shells from the tanks are causing us problems but the largely weak las rifle shots from the infantry we can deal with. Grenades fired from launchers explode just above us — another shrapnel storm. Somewhere to my right a marine goes down, I don't have time to see who it is. I carry on firing — troops go down in front of me but they are getting close. Weight of numbers is beginning to tell. Another tank flails to a halt with a track flapping around like torn ribbon, the hatches open and burning figures tumble out. Another 100 paces and we will be in hand-to-hand. I grope for my trusty minisword just in case. Ammo arrives and I reclip. More enemy troops go down. The heavy plasma cannon is firing at point blank range with deadly effect while laser shots from one of our Dreadnoughts and barrages of ordnance missiles from the Whirlwind arc over us to land within the advancing lines.

"There are more troops than we can kill", I shout over the tac-com.

"Have they know fear?" asks the squad's number two.

"They are not human. They are brainwashed deviants. We are merely putting them out of their misery", Zahariel replies.

They are ten paces away. I empty a clip into them and the nearest figures churn into a red mist. I reach for my combat sword, firing one-handed, and steadying myself for the impact of the advance.

But then they waver.

I reclip. Yes, they are turning, retreating, still firing at us but definitely moving back. I stand up, ready to spring over the parapet and follow their retreat. But a general command goes out, "keep your positions, do not advance".

We hold back, whilst over us go the jump-packed assault troops. They have been in action in other sectors but not in ours. With plasma pistols tearing holes in the ranks below as they fly overhead they are terrifying. It looks like the Librarian Epistolary Mehabiah is leading them. They disappear into the smoke and darkness.

Everywhere we hear that the enemy advance faltered and is withdrawing. We carry on firing but targets become difficult to pick out. Ahead of us the ground is strewn with the litter of battle, wrecked and burning vehicles, piles of wounded and dead, smoking craters, discarded weapons, a scene of complete devastation.

But we held them off.

:: Battle-log ends ::

The day after the night attack we were ordered on a general recce mission to discover the whereabouts of our vanquished enemy. It would appear they were evacuated by vessels unknown — possibly transported to the central band of the planet.

Our own orbiting ships picked up nothing prior to the attack. It was as if they had somehow materialised before us and similarly vanished afterwards.

But their mission was probably the rescue of the prisoner we had captured. For this reason, Mehabiah with a small escort has taken the prisoner aboard the strike cruiser Imperial Redemption to await further orders.

We had sustained enough casualties to warrant a reinforcing squad being sent to us. I have no further information on who or where they are coming from, but all sorts of speculation is rife.

I will post another detailed bulletin soon.

Imperium Approved: Honoro Legio Dark Angels.

Isiah signature

Chronicler Isiah, the 4th Battle Company, Dark Angels.