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My nameís Andy McRacken. I suppose I now have an official rank in the Imperial Guard, but I donít care to use it, and since this is my bloody journal youíre just going to have to deal with it. Anyway, Iíve taken the time today to write for many reasons, the main one being the fact that Iím a wee bit depressed and writing always makes me feel better. My mother said itís the poet in me. Ach, Iíve never had a talent for writing songs, so the Emperor knows what the devil sheís talking about.
Hmm, where to start? Why not begin by describing the only truly happy memory Iíve got left; Torron. Itís the planet my people and I came from. Beautiful place it was, too. It was a big planet, or so Iím told. The biggest one in the Hystrian System, actually. No one on the planet ever realized this, though, because it was almost 98% ocean. All us ratlings were bunched up together on a single continent, more like an island than anything else. Oh, but what an amazing island it wasÖ
Itís the bloody trees that did it. On Torron there were huge forests of a kind of tree we called arbre. They didnít make the best quality wood in the galaxy by far, but there was something special about them that made them valuable; they grew so bloody fast! Without exaggeration, you could chop down a fifty meter tree and in just a few months it would be back to itís full size. It was fruitless to try to tame those forests so we simply lived inside of them.
The Imperium found out about our unusual flora and decided to move it and start taking over the place. It didnít really bother us, as they didnít make us do anything but move. After a awhile, though, the increase in human population brought an increase in human enemies, if you follow me. After just two Torron years, a branch fleet of orks crashed onto our humble little planet and began to mess everything up. The Empire mobilized to deal with the threat, and we thought a war was going to be the worst of our troubles. We were wrong.
During the fighting, someone, and Iím not pointing any fingers on this one, went too far underground and woke up a bunch of crazy robots! All of the sudden the orks were no big deal, and the Imperium began pulling all of itís subjects off the planet to hover around in orbit to figure out what to do. This was good for them, I suppose, but it left us in a bit of a pinch.
This is where I come in. I was an idiot for thinking so, for this decision has plagued me ever since, but for some reason I felt responsible for all the ratlings that were left on Torron. So I took charge, gathered everyone up and looked for good places to hide. We ran away whenever we could, only fighting when absolutely necessary, and we often lost. It was a trying time, and we were all very frightened. It seemed our planet was doomed, if not from the savage orks, then from the soulless machines that we had yet to encounter.
I hear nowadays that other peoples of other planets have their own special folk weapon. The Tanith have their silver daggers, and the Catachans have their mercurial swords. Us? The Torroni? We have slingshots, and donít you dare cross us when weíve got them! I can put a pebble right through your eye and out the back of your skull from 20 meters away, make no mistake!
Oddly enough, it was our humble racial weapon that saved us. You see, the humans up in orbit felt they had no choice but to blow the entire bloody planet up, and damn the trees and vast mineral deposits in the ocean while theyíre at it! They were weighing the pros and cons on taking us with them, and were seconds away for frakking it all pushing the damn button on us when they saw usÖthat is meÖdefending ourselves with such Ďprimitiveí weapons. In short (no pun intended) our accuracy and hiding abilities impressed them enough to welcome us aboard before they destroyed our homes and everything we loved.
Iím grateful for their mercy, I truly am. Odds are, the orks would have attacked us anyway. Also, who knows when the metal monstrosities would have awoken? Still, itís hard to look around a cold, soulless space deck and realize that youíll never see those trees again. Never feel the ocean breeze on your face. I still think about it every time I risk my neck in the service of the ĎEmperor.í I worry that, with age, Iíll forget it before I die.
Anyway, the humans gathered all that was left of us and said Ďgoodbyeí to Torron. There were kind enough to drop most of our Ďciviliansí onto another planet in the Hystrian System capable of supporting life. To tell you the truth, though, I donít see how it does. Dani is the most Emperor-forsaken ice ball in the entire galaxy. In a way Iím glad I was drafted into the guard. At least Iím not freezing my bullocks off every time I step outside!
So anyway, my squad. Weíre the best snipers in the Imperium, make no mistake, and youíd be an extremely lucky lad if you ever find us on the field. Here we are, in no particular orderÖ
Me, Andy McRacken. Iím just an old fart thatís seen a lot of bloodshed. Iím the second oldest in the squad, but I donít look it. I suppose I get that from my mother. She went silver like I have, but not a single wrinkle until her eleventy-first birthday.
Then thereís Angus McBride, the fastest and most nimble little bastard you ever did see. Heís the best slight-of-hand thief I have ever seen, and a spanking good magician to boot! Still, heís a good enough lad, I suppose and I never argue when he nicks food and alcohol when weíre on another long scouting mission.
Next is Marsh. I donít recall his real name and I donít care. We call him Marsh because of his unrecoverable habit of eating marshmallows. He literal cannot function without the stuff. Itís almost sick the way he fawns over them! Still, heís the best cook out of all of us and the second best shot to boot, so his little problem never really bothered anyone. Besides, heís the Colonelís personal cook, so he can get away with pretty much anything.
Scotty McDonald. I always chuckle when I think of olí Scotty. Heís the youngest out of all of us, and the worst shot too. Truthfully, heís not all that bad.. Heís a much better shot than any of the bloody humans, thatís for sure, but he still tends to miss the small targets more often the rest of us, and so we razz him pretty hard because of it. Heís also kind of a klutz, so every time he knocks something over or breaks a dish we all shout ďBullís-eye, Scotty!Ē Heís a good lad, though, and knows we only do it because we love him.
I guess Crankyís next. Let me tell you, out of all of the boys, heís the one I would miss the less if he were to kick the bucket. A more scummy ratling there never was, if you follow me. I suppose every ratling group needs a token con-man but Cranky takes the cake. Heíll do anything for profit, from illegal gambling to blackmail. The trick with dealing with him is never letting your guard down and donít ever trust him, no matter what heís doing. He once pushed me down a fox hole right when I was about to get my block shot off. Afterwards when I thanked him, I found out it was only because heíd bet one of the humans in the regiment that I would live longer than Marsh that day.
Then thereís Will McAndrews, and heís just a plain olí pervert, and thatís the truth. Heíd romp a female ogryn if he though sheíd show him some new tricks, and thatís no exaggeration. I heard it from his own mouth!
Then thereís Nuts. Heís an obsessive gambler, and thatís coming from a ratling. Heís also one of the luckiest bastards Iíve ever known, so itís no surprise that everyone in the squad hates him for one reason or another.
Jebís the other old one in the squad. Heís older than me, and believe me, he looks it. He has more wrinkles than a pickled walnut, and thatís no joke. Heís also the only one of my squad that I didnít know before we were drafted. Still, heís a smart old coot and he has eyes like a bloody falcon. Heís the squadís best shot, and many a man today wouldnít be around if it werenít for him.
The last two are Amish McCord and Peter McIntyre. Theyíre both really young, at least in the brain, and are annoying as all hell. Amish prides himself on being a practical joker and little Peter is a bloody snoop and a snitch. They both have a habit on getting on oneís nerves, and if it werenít for their reasonable fear of the regimentís Commissar, they would have been disposed of years ago. Still, I must admit, when Iím not the butt of one of their jokes, they can be funny.
Well, thatís my squad. The glorious Hystrian 1st Light Infantry Regimentís very own master ratling snipers. In the twenty or so years Iíve been a part of the Imperial Guard Iíve never lost a single man, though Iíve been close once or twice. Some would attribute that to good leadership and skill. I just think itís because I donít need to tell them when to shoot and when to run and hide. If it worked for us on Torron it will work for us on any other Emperor-forsaken hellhole weíre sent to, and make no mistake about that!
Victory is achieved through mettle.
Glory is acheived through metal.