Special Forces Drop
After the disastrous attempt to recover survivors from the last Ork attack on the city of Parnassus Prime, Militarum transports are called upon again to deliver special forces into Ork territory to find and eliminate an Ork boss in order to sow confusion and slow the Ork advance across Parnassus!
Silence hung thick in the briefing room, like a humid air mass, swirling with eddies of sadness, confusion, and fear. Following the reports of the disastrous mission to evacuate survivors from the city of Parnassus Prime, from which only one of the six transports had returned, the mood at the airbase was like a giant funeral, although the ceremony for the lost wasn’t to be held for several hours.
“Revenge, aeronauts.” The Commander stood with both hands gripping the sides of the podium in front of him. “Today we take revenge on the xeno filth that took our comrades,” he continued forcefully, but without raising his voice. “We have all we need, here, today. We have four squads of Militarum Special Forces, just arrived. We have Valkyries and Vendettas, the best fighting troop transports in the galaxy. We have the Emperor himself watching and guiding us, but most of all…” His voice dropped to a whisper. “… most of all, we have you.” The commander looked each pilot and weapons/nav officer around the room in the eye and he raised his voice, growing louder between each pause in his sentence. “We have YOU, the men and women of the Astra Militarum, who own the sky, scorch the earth, and rain death down upon the foes of Emperor and mankind!” As he shouted these last words with his right fist raised in front of him, the pilots and crews rose from their seats and shouted in unison, obliterating the morose pall that hung over the room, releasing their pent up anger, sadness, frustration, and fear, and firing it into the air as though they were launching all the ordnance mounted on their combat aircraft.
The Commander let them cry out for a a full minute before motioning them to sit, which they did. “We’re sending in four this time. Storm Fist and Emperor’s Sword, you’re up. Nice Doggie, as the lone survivor of the previous expedition, you’ve got the most experience here. Guide them. And Colby and Lee? We’ve recovered Lucky 13 from the battlefield and fixed it up. It’s your bird now. Don’t let it get shot down again.”
The crews were on their way out the door, running for their craft and their chance to avenge their downed comrades even before the word “Dismissed” had been fully expelled into the electric air of the briefing room.
“Here’s the intel”, said Morse, pilot of the Vendetta “Nice Doggie”, into the vox. “We’ve got word that there’s an Ork boss commanding from the encampment we’re approaching. We need to figure out which building he’s in and drop our groundpounders in there so they can take him out.” She opened the channel to include the transport compartment of her vessel, currently occupied by a squad of the Militarum’s toughest and best-equipped troopers. “You ready back there?”
“You put us in, and we’ll take ’em out,” came the reply.
“Doggie, this is Lucky 13,” came Colby’s voice. “We’re picking up ground defenses and two effbees approaching.”
“Noted, Lucky”, Morse replied. “Remember those flyers are dangerous to the front, but they also have top turrets. Try to maintain distance and take them out early.”
“We’re going to open up some room to maneuver,” Colby voxed to the group, then switched to the internal channel to talk to her weapons/nav officer, Lee. “I’m going to line up the ground AA on the right.”
“Got it,” Lee replied as he armed the rocket pods and honed in the targeting. Moments later, las fire from Lucky 13’s multilaser, followed by a small volley of rockets fired from the pods mounted under the wings streaked into the gun emplacement ahead, throwing mounds of dirt, metal, and Ork flesh into the air in a dozen plumes.
Suddenly, the two Fighter Bombers veered together toward Nice Doggie, but right in front of Emperor’s Sword. “Target them, Jayce,” pilot Harlick called excitedly. Just as he did, the multiple barrels of the gun emplacement in front of them lit up, hurling bullets and shells in their direction.
“Hold steady!” Jayce called back as the metal impacted against the front of their ship, tearing chunks of plating from the nose and cracking the canopy.
Through the storm slamming against them, Jayce opened fire, Emperor’s Sword’s multilaser stitching a stream of holes across the Fighter Bomber’s side. Before he could assess how much damage they’d done, the Skyfire missiles he’d also fired caught up to the stricken Ork plane and annihilated its left wing in a shower of debris and smoke. The dorsal turret of the other Ork flyer swung around and returned fire, but to no avail, all of the shots going wide of their target as the Ork craft was peppered with multilaser fire from Storm Fist.
“Following your lead, Lucky 13,” Karden said over the vox. “This is Nice Doggie, clearing the ground of threats.” And with that, he fired lascannon and rocket pods at the ground guns, blowing a smoking crater in the ground 20 meters the the target’s left. He didn’t even wait for his pilot’s reaction. “Shut up, Morse.”
The ground guns did better, though, with their shots finding Nice Doggie and rocking them in the air.
“Emperor’s Golden Throne in the Holy Palace on Terra!” Karden swore. “Can’t you avoid that?”
“You can’t hit anything when we’re not moving, so I don’t think swerving around will help you any.”
“rrrrRRRRRRAAAAAGGHHH!” Karden started with a throaty growl, but it quickly became a primal scream as he fired the lascannons again, the twin beams of charged light striking and annihilating the ground emplacement in a spectacular explosion, as the beams penetrated the centre of the mass of skyward-pointing guns and detonated the stored ammunition.
“I knew you could do it!” Morse beamed. “You just needed the right encour-“. She was cut off as their craft rocked again, an explosion against the port side.
A voice came over the transport compartment vox channel, the squad sergeant: “You could just let us out here.”
“Shut up!” Karden and Morse replied in unison.
“This is Storm Fist. We’ve identified the building! East side, there’s one with a buggy parked out front. It looks fancier than the others, could be a boss! We’re going in.”
As Ritch slowed Storm Fist and dropped over the Ork building toward the ground to land, anti-aircraft guns on both sides of the target area opened up and caught them in a crossfire, tearing holes through the port wing and ripping the cowling from the starboard engine. Warning lights flashed in the cockpit as fluid pressures in the engine began to drop.
“We’re not going to be able to land! Prepare to jump. I’ll slow as much as I can!”
The reply from the squad sergeant was calm and stern: “That’s what we’re trained for.”
Meanwhile, Lucky 13, turning to help with troop deployment on the Ork leader’s structure, found themselves nose to nose with the remaining Fighter Bomber. As they closed and then passed each other, the Ork craft fired first, the various guns on its nose and in its wings firing a volley of metal into Lucky 13, clanging and pattering against the plating, but unable to find a weak spot.
“Hit him back!” Colby breathed spitefully.
“On it,” confirmed Lee, as he unleased rockets from the barrel-like pods they were armed with. Smoke trails carved a line in the sky from Lucky 13 into the side of the chunky Ork flyer, exploding and pulling pieces of twisted metal from the fuselage.
“How can something that looks like it shouldn’t fly anyway take so much damage and still be able to fly?” he wondered aloud.
Emperor’s Sword fired underneath the passing Fighter Bomber at the ground defenses threatening Storm Fist, but couldn’t make a dent on the fortified position.
“We’re in as good as a position as we’re going to get. Prepare to jump.” Sergeant Barka stood and had the nearest man check his jump pack, the small rocket-powered rig they were all equipped with that would slow their ascent to the ground enough for them to land safely. “Jump by fire team. Mine first, then Bloom, then Roffa.”
At the same time, all three fire teams of soldiers closed the visors on their helmets and checked, again, that their rifles were primed and securely connected to the “hotshot” packs that boosted the power of the las rounds that they fired. Just then, the side doors slid open, and they could see the stark desert landscape rushing by them, and glancing down, the building that held their quarry.
“Go, go, go!” Barka chanted into his vox as he leaped out the port side door, followed by the other members of his fire team. As soon as he was clear of the door, Bloom stepped forward to follow, but the craft rocked and Bloom lost his footing, spun around and went out the door backwards. His team dove after him, but his rockets fired while he was mis-oriented, and drove him faster toward the ground. He twisted in the air, and his other two team members watched in horror as he slammed into the edge of the building where the flat roof met the wall, directly between two Orks who had appeared there. With oversized toothy grins on their grotesque faces, they raised their own rifles and poured a stream of bullets into the rest of fire team Bloom as they descended.
From the other side of the craft, Roffa’s team successfully dropped to the ground in front of the building, blew the door in with a grenade, and charged in.
“The troopers are clear, let’s get out of here!” Sloco called back to Ritch from his weapons/nav position in Storm Fist. “We’re coming apart and there are still active guns down there!”
“We’re on our way to support!” voxed Morse from Nice Doggie. “Karden will deal with that AA.”
“Lucky 13 here. We’re on our way as well!”
“Oh please, Emperor,” thought Ritch, “Let Lucky 13 get here first.”
Confident from his previous attack, Karden lined up the gun emplacement beside the building and fired. The lascannon was on target, but only succeeded in ripping a piece of armour plating from the fortified position. Both ground guns fired at the same time, tracing an inverted V into the air, with Storm Fist at its vertex. Both engines on the Valkyrie simultaneously burst into flame and the craft lost altitude instantly, slamming into the ground below, alongside the Ork-built structure that the Imperial troops were assaulting.
Seconds later, the nearest anti-aircraft position erupted in a cloud of debris and flame, as Lucky 13’s rockets connected with it. Lee silently rejoiced at the kill and chided himself for being seconds too late to target and fire and save Storm Fist. Seeming to read his mind, Colby said “You couldn’t hit both of them, Lee. Storm Fist wasn’t going to make it out of there.”
“This is Sgt. Barka,” a voice cut in over the vox. “Target is down, The boss is eliminated. Do not drop additional troops. We’ll take out the closest AA and trudge out of here. Meet for extraction at secondary point in 1 hour. Barka out.”
With that, all of the remaining pilots turned to get out of range of the ground fire and return to base. The Ork Fighter Bomber also turned and flew off in the other direction. Damaged and without leadership, they must have realized that it was pointless for them to remain.
“You know, Colby,” Lee’s voice came over the vox, “we’re the first crew to survive a mission in this ship, even though it has been recovered and repaired 4 times.”
“Lucky 13, eh?” Colby replied.
“Lucky 13,” Lee agreed.