Chapter 11: Ere we go!
"Tis a lovely day for a waaagh, ain't it Metal Edd?" chuckled Erl Gray. He stood in the middle of the newly completed orky fortress; built in the opening he had met his first new recruits some time ago. His orks ran to and fro, transporting weapons and gear and making other preparations for the waaagh.
"Tis indeed, boss." replied Metal Edd. "We gots mechs, shootas, choppas, kans an all kinds of gubbinz an looted stuff. We's gonna smash dem humies all over da mountain!"
"And no one's muckin about. Just as it should be!" continued Erl Gray with a nod. "A few more days and the mine'll be ours!"
Suddenly, one of the orks ran up to him.
"Boss, boss! We's got a problem at our fort at de humie space base!" he cried.
"What? The humies been shootin back again? Well put a stop to it!" roared Erl Gray.
"It's not dat boss...deys got flying gits now, and deys blowin us all up wit rockets and zappaz!" replied the ork.
"Oh zog it, Metal Edd, can you deal with this?" growled Erl Gray.
"Course boss. Shall I take da other stormboyz too?" he chuckled, hefting his massive hammer off the ground.
"Do that, and take a wartruk too! Get there proper fast, and put your Edd Smasher to good use." chuckled Erl Gray.
"Good news kids, my plan seems to be working!" cackled Tauron over the intercom. "Doing Barrel-Rolls DOES make you avoid enemy fire!"
"I thhhhhink I'm gonna be sssssick..." groaned Cuddles.
"Michael...he is behind this somehow..." sighed Raege. "I swear I'm gonna kill him next time I see him."
The formation of valkyrie gunships had entered the planet's atmosphere, and in a matter of seconds, were under fire from the orks below. Rockets, beams and bullets ripped through the tree line below them. The combat ships returned fire, but some were already falling from the sky. The bravest pilots aimed their falling ships at visible encampments, in an attempt to crash into them and in their deaths, aid the advance of the others.
Finally, Tauron stopped spinning his ship round and round and stabilised his flight path.
"Ok guys, this is it. T-Minus 60 seconds, and I'm gonna land." He said, suddenly becoming strangely serious. "And it's gonna be bumpy; orks have been camping on the runway!"
"Can't you just use VTOL to land on a patch without any!" shouted Raege.
"If I do that, I won't be able to clear a path to the control tower." replied Tauron. "And It'll be more fun if I just headbutt through them all too!"
"Use VTOL, emperor-damnit!" shouted Raege to the intercom. "That's a order! I want us there alive!"
There was an almighty crash from the left side of the ship and the whole ship shook violently. Shrapnel burst through the wall, and a few soldiers were caught by it. They were blown across the room and some were even ripped apart, killed instantly by the explosion.
"Fraid I can't do that now. One of the orks has blown the left engine, and...wait...yeah, we're goin down hard and fast!!" cried Tauron. Some of the guardsman began panicking.
"Everyone keep calm!" she screamed, silencing them. "Tauron, can you still land this thing?"
"Sure, but VTOL is out of the question now, and it'll hurt like hell." He replied. "Oh yeah, and the left engine is now on fire, so I suggest we bail out fast once we land!"
"Noted. Now get this thing out the sky, and get us on solid ground in one piece!" said Raege.
"Understood...ok, we're coming in now...hold on tight!" cried Tauron.
Everyone braced for impact. Raege closed her eyes, praying rapidly and desperately that they wouldn't go up in flames. For a few seconds, everything seemed to go quiet and nothing happened. The strain of the single engine seemed to be the only sound she could hear.
Then came an almighty crash, and everyone was jarred up and down in their seats. The sound of metal scraping across the ground echoed through the room for some time, until silence fell again.
"Thank you for using Imperial Airlines, now please exit the craft as quickly as possible, because this thing could explode any second now!" said Tauron over the now crackling intercom. Raege all but ripped her flight harness off, as did cuddles, and they ran to the exit ramp. The door was still closed however.
"Tauron, the door isn't open! Let us out of here!" she cried. No response. "Tauron! Get us out of here!" Still no response. Raege banged her hand on the door. "Let us out! Open this thing you piece of..."she began, but was interrupted by an electrical crackling sound. She turned to see Cuddles charging up some kind of psychic attack.
"Sssstand baaack bossss." She whispered, and Raege got out the way. Cuddles tensed up her arms and was surrounded in light blue energy. She took a deep breath, and pointed at the hinges on the gunship's door and ramp. All of them exploded in a haze of psychic power. She then walked up to the door, and kicked it. It simply fell forward, and at last, they could see the world they had arrived on.
It looked like some kind of feral jungle world, as there were trees all around and the planets local star shone brightly in the sky. In the distance, Raege could see a huge structure at the end of the runway. Next to it was a massive tower, which was obviously the control tower they were tasked with reaching. It didn't take much effort, however, to see that there were simply hundreds of ork camps between them and the tower.
Tauron suddenly ran into view, looking towards the tower, before running back to the gunship. He looked up and was surprised to see that they had got the door open.
"Ah, yeah, sorry bout that. Co pilot is dead, and the circuits to open that thing was fried." He said, obviously in a state of panic. "And didn't you guys know? That ship might explode any time now!! Get out of it!!!" he cried, flailing his arms around while running in circles. Raege suddenly remembered that the engine was on fire, and turned to the guardsmen who were still alive.
"Everyone out now! This thing's gonna blow!" she roared to them, before she, Tauron and Cuddles began sprinting away from the burning wreck.
They followed Tauron to the nearest piece of cover and hunkered down against it, blasts from shootas flying over their heads and the war cries of orks filling the air.
Raege looked back, seeing the guardsman fleeing in terror from the burning wreck towards them. Within seconds, the valkyrie gunship they had been flying in just moments before went up in a massive fireball the size of a warhound titan. Some of the guardsman who hadn't been quick enough to run from it were blown apart, and others were doused in flames as promethium sprayed all around.
"Holy shit..." gasped Tauron. "Too close..."
"I personally blame you for this..." hissed Raege to Tauron, elbowing him in the side and almost knocking him out of cover. He yelped, and quickly scrambled back into place.
"Hey, I got us here alive...most of us...and besides, I'm not the one who shot a rocket into the engine!" he replied. "And don't we have more important things to worry about right now?"
"So true..." said Raege, observing the scene before them. Gunships fell from the sky all around as others fired rockets and las-cannon shots into ork encampments. Guardsmen clashed with orks in every direction, with hundreds dead on both sides.
"Whhaaat now bossss?" said Cuddles, turning to Raege as they observed the scene from their cover. Raege looked to her, and then behind her. The majority of the guardsman had survived and were awaiting her command. She knew what had to be done, and turned to address them.
"Alright lads, I'm not gonna lie. It's hell out there! However, we have the air advantage, and the orks were unprepared for an attack of this scale." She was interrupted by a massive explosion as a missile blew a squad of orks apart in the distance. "The guys in the ships are tasked with covering us. Our job is to get to that tower in the distance!" she pointed to the control tower, and the guardsman in turn looked to it. They nodded in understanding, but they knew how far away it was, and this seemed to hurt morale ever so slightly. "So, here's the plan. I'll look for cover and once I find a spot, we advance on my signal to that point. Once we're advancing, do not look back and move like you ass is on fire because your life will depend on it. Do not tend to anyone who gets wounded because it'll make you an easier target; let the medics do that job." She then tentatively looked over their cover. Any orks that had been shooting at them were otherwise engaged; either shooting at the gunships or other guardsman squads. She scanned around and spotted a good position up ahead. She then turned back to the guards. "Alright, I found a spot. Remember: we go together, we cover each other in advance but if anyone falls, leave them. Understood?" the guardsman nodded, or muttered in agreement. "One last thing. If I die, then these two will take charge." She nodded to Cuddles and then Tauron. "You ok with that?"
"Bessssst ideeeaa I guesss." replied Cuddles.
"Right then. May the emperor protect us!" she roared triumphantly, drawing her sword and pointing its blade to the sky.
"May he always protect us!" replied everyone else with equal zeal.
"On my count, we go over...three...two...one...go-go-go!" and with that, the group crawled up and over the mound of scrap metal and began their charge. Various guardsman cried and shouted as they charged, laying down a hail of lasgun fire in all directions. Ork gunners spotted them from their own cover, and stood to engage them. The some of them were cut down by the charging guardsmen, but one or two had particularly good positions or heavy armour, and returned fire. Some of the guardsman were hit, and a few dropped from their injuries, but still the majority pushed on.
At the head of the charge, Raege unleashed her plasma pistol upon the foes ahead of her. Single orks charged to her position, and she cut them back with sword and plasma fire. Cuddles decided to put the shotgun to good use, and assisted her in suppressing forward attackers with it. Tauron took a set of revolvers from his pockets and added further supressing fire. With unified purpose, they ploughed through the wall of noise, smoke, fire and bullets.
As they approached the next piece of cover, a crater in the runway caused by some explosion, Raege saw a gunship fly overhead. The heavy bolter turrets on its flanks unleashed hell upon the orks below, and none of the guard could help but cheer in support. The greenskins scattered all around, running like insects from a bright light.
However, their cheers were cut short and drowned out by a particular intense ork battle cry.
From the forest canopy to the left of the runway, like a barrage of rockets, came a group of ork stormboyz, flying through the air like giant, burning locusts. These orks had salvaged jump-packs, and flew towards the Gunship. The pilot must have seen them, and one of the heavy bolters turned to fire. Many stormboyz were shot out of the sky, but it was not enough, and soon the stormboyz were upon the ship. They crashed into its side, latching on with their melee weapons and shooting at it with their sidearms. One of them shot at the engine, but was shot down by the heavy bolter and the other guardsman on board.
Then came a second cry, and a single form burst from the canopy.
Metal Edd, the vast nob leader of the stormboyz, flew through the sky with a strange sort of ungraceful grace, spinning round and round as Tauron had done in the gunship, before landing on the front of the imbalanced gunship. The pilot looked up in horror at the massive form standing before him.
Raege and the others had reached the crater, and looking up, could do nothing but watch in horror.
Edd slammed his huge hammer through the glass of the cockpit, grabbed the pilot, ripped him from his seat and threw him over his shoulder. He plummeted fifty feet to his death, landing on the spikes from a broken ork structure. The nob then took out a bunch of stick-bombs (ork grenades) which he had taped together, pulled the pin on a single one, and threw it into the cockpit.
"Alright lads, back off! Dis one's scrap now!" he roared to the other stormboyz. They let go of the ship, falling back and to the ground below, slowing their decent with their jump packs. As they fell, the stick-bomb cluster exploded, ripping apart the hull of the gunship, and in turn igniting the fuel tanks, blowing the whole structure apart in the air. A huge section of the ship flew through the air towards Raege and her squad.
"Look out! Pull back, get out of here!" she yelled, and leapt from the crater. The guardsman followed suit, and thankfully managed to escape before the huge flaming chunk of debris crashed into the crater.
"By the emperor's blessed testicles..." gasped Tauron. "I thought the orks were feral and simple minded! How the hell did they pull that one off?"
"They may be feral and simple minded...hell, they may even be stupid, but when it comes to war, you'll never find a foe with anywhere as much ingenuity in battle." replied Raege, still shocked herself by what had just happened.
"Wheereee nooow?" hissed Cuddles. Raege looked around, and quickly saw the path leading through the ork camps to the tower. They had covered a lot of ground, but there was still a long way to go.
"That way...and pray we don't bump into those stormboyz." She replied.
"If they can take out a gunship like that, then we'd have no chance." muttered Tauron under his breath.
"Nooot thinking offff running areeee you?" said Cuddles to him psychically. Tauron turned to her, coughed and brushed down his waistcoat.
"No, not at all. Do I look like a coward to you?" he replied hastily, trying to sound tough. Cuddles found this amusing.
"Heh...iffff youuu sayay soooo." she replied as the group left for the nest piece of cover.