A small story of tank combat in the year 40k. Comments appreciated.

"The Space Marine Predator tank had long lost most of it's polish. The armour was scarred and pitted, the left sponson had been ripped out, the right sponson turned into slag from a melta hit and both headlights shot away. The other two Predators of the troop were gone, one with it’s turret blown up and the other pulverised by a direct battlecannon hit. But the lead's top turret kept firing, keeping at bay the Chaos armour in the horizon. Eight times it had popped out of it's shelter, fired and ducked, killing three tanks and immobilising two. The fields in front of the firing trenches were covered with the remains of the Emperor´s enemies. Despite this, the crew leader, Brother Sergeant Matius, was beginning to worry. True, he believed in the final victory over the enemies of the Emperor, but there were so many. He had lost count on how many enemy armoured vehicles his troop had killed since landing on this Chaos-infested hellhole. Brother Teremius, the tank’s main gunner swore they’d beaten the Chapter’s record, if not in numbers, certainly in tonnage, particularly thanks to the unusually large number of Chaos Land Raiders they’d encountered. Over the past two weeks, no less than five had received the Emperor’s punishment at the hands of the troop. Many others had been destroyed by the combined firepower of the lascannons, some of enemy being made of both Daemon flesh and metal. The Company commander had personally congratulated the troop for it’s outstanding performance.

But now, it seemed as all luck had run out. What had started as a move to a new ambush position had turned into a nightmare of destruction. While moving tru a canyon towards positions pre-prepared by the local PDF, covered by two Landspeeders, the troop had ran into a large Chaos force, who seemed as surprised as they did. Reacting faster, and knowing they’d stand a far better chance once inside the firing trenches, Matius had ordered a charge. Firing every gun, the Predators roared forward at full throttle, blasting everything in their path. Crushing smaller foes and blowing up larger, they’d managed to arrive at the firing positions. Drive down, turn around, up the firing berm and shoot; all was achieved in less time than the manual stated possible. After that had come four hours of intense fighting. One Predator fired while another took cover and the third moved from cover to firing berm. The two Landspeeders had not been so lucky. Because the Chaos scum was jamming their long range-vox, Sergeant Matius had ordered them to fly back to seek help but both were shot down, only one marine, brother Enginar, surviving the crash. He had then set up an observation post, advising his brethren when to come in and out of cover.

But still, despite the protection and Brother Enginar’s calls, the enemies’ numbers had started to take a tool. Brother’s Sarvarius Predator had been hit by a Defiler’s battlecannon after an hour of fighting, disintegrating as the shell punched tru to the power packs. Only thirty minutes ago, Brother Agamon’s tank was hit by 3 lascannons, it’s turret being thrown fifty meters away.

And soon, Matius own Predator’s abused systems were certain to fail, despite all of Techmarine Brother Tarmius’ ministrations. They’d been hit four times, loosing both sponsons and most exterior viewers and lights.

The vox came to life again:
“Scout 2 to Hunter. Enemy Predator coming out. Track left 220º, range 650?
“Hunter 1 copies. Attacking. Driver, forward. Gunner, track left, 220º, range 650?
“220º - 650 aye!?

Forward and up went the Predator, turning the turret on the move. As soon as they cleared the lip, the enemy was visible, still trying to get into a good position. When it saw the Marine Predator, it started to turn its turret, a daemon writhing to life. Too late; firing first the Marine’s twin-lascannon burned a path tru the enemy’s armour, it’s focused energy causing the Chaos tank to blow up. Wasting no time, Matius ordered the driver to full reverse, before another enemy had time to react. Barely had they time to take cover when a heavy shell blew up where they had been, demolishing a section of the trench’s lip. One more traitor sent to the warp.

But there was no time to celebrate. Again Brother’s Enginar voice came tru the vox:
"Scout 2 to Hunter 1. Enemy Defiler in sight, range 700, bearing 35º"
"Hunter 1 copies. Attacking. Driver, forward. Gunner, track right, 35º, range 700"
"35º - 700 aye.!"

The Predator rumbled forward, climbing the lip of the trench. The turret started to turn in the target’s direction. Then, disaster struck. Before any warning was possible, the Defiler fired is cannon. The shell hit the already damaged left side, blowing the track, leaving the Predator completely exposed, the front of the belly to the air.

"Out out out!!" The sergeant hit the trigger of the smoke launchers and exited the ruined tank as fast as possible, just as another shell hit, no more than 5 yards away. The gunner, already out of the turret, was blown of, landing stunned and wounded inside the trench. Looking over the top, the sergeant saw the Defiler approaching, with more Predators and Cultist armour no more than 200 yards behind. Cursing, he reached for his meltabombs. If he was going to die, he would take the treacherous scum with him.

Then his helmet vox came to life, in an urgent tone:
"Scout 2 to Hunter 1. Get down! Get down!"

Throwing himself down, the sergeant heard a roar pass over his head, then a large explosion. Looking up, he saw pieces of the Defiler falling all over the place. A Chaos Predator was firing it's lascannon, but at what? Then, a flash, a huge explosion, and the Predator's turret flew up, vomited by a jet of burned fuel and munitions.

Giving thanks to the Emperor, the Predator's crew stood up, their ears still ringing from the shell passing over and the close explosion. The ground started to shake. Pulling out his meltabomb, the sergeant turned around... to face a Vanquisher just coming to a stop.

The tank's insignia read "Legio XVI" and the barrel was covered with kill bands. It's rear hull almost disappeared under a massive load of supplies, tools and spare parts of all types. The front and sides had sandbags and track links for extra armour, and a scorched Chaos marine helmet hung from the hull lascannon. When it fired, the shock wave threw the marine off his feet.

Another three Vanquishers appeared over the hill and started to spread out, firing their lascannons on the move. As soon as they stopped, the battlecannons roared again. Nothing seemed to be able to survive. A Defiler was reduced to the lower half of it’s legs by a direct hit. A Predator was pierced from side to side, it’s hull utterly crushed, turret blown apart. A Cultist 8-wheeled light transport was pulverised, it’s remains covering a wide area. Some of the Cultists tried to fire back, but the few hits scored bounced off the Leman Russ’ thick frontal armour, the only damage some scratched paint. Before long the last Chaos armour on the canyon and the entrance to the plain beyond had been wiped out. Three Sentinels raced in a zig zag pattern for the enemy's area, their autocannons training left and right, shooting any surviving Chaos crewmembers.

The top hatch of the lead Vanquisher opened and a crewman came out. Standing up, and apparently ignoring not just the marine but his own safety, he started to scan the horizon with binoculars. Satisfied that no new enemies were in sight, he jumped down and walked over to the marine. Saluting, he said:
"Greetings. Sergeant Tagus, 2nd platoon, B company, 14th Tank Battalion, Legio XVI. Our recon Sentinels saw what was happening and our Legatus send us over, thinking you might need some help."

For the first time in his whole life as a marine and despite what the Codex Astartes stated, Matius wondered how he could convince the Chapter master to acquire some Vanquishers..."