+++Red Eagle 902+++

140 Verodi System, Military Command Post 404

Inside the dim light of the command tower, a short pause was found after a proposition by Senior Commodore Adrias. Colour sergeant Ovaj Galinsky wondered how many troops would have to be lost for this seemingly frivolous cause. ‘A surgical strike’ stated by the commodore is not often encountered by imperial guardsmen, less so for the hardened street fighters of the Verodi 594th, raised from the ruins of their Homeworld, years of political disruption and violent gang war had turned the regiment into one of the best urban fighters of the Imperial Guard. But, to their surprise, the system overlords had decreed our regiment the closest option for the uprising on Tarakis Prime, a small agri world with little or no urbanization, mainly billions of kilometers of isolated farms and hydroponics facilities. The so-called uprising was due to a small colonization fleet of ‘Tau’ in the sector, attempting to convert the farmers to their cause. Our mission was to stop the oppressive Tau forces and engage their forces that had positioned themselves outside of the capital cities borders. The commodore turned towards a holo-map of the planet “we can not allow the fledging xeno to maintain a foothold on this planet, they must be dealt with as soon as possible?, stated the commodore.

A small detachment was ordered to be dispatched to the world, consisting mainly of light infantry with some air support and limited artillery support. The colour sergeant had faced many foes during his tours on duty, from the lost and damned hordes of chaos to rebel imperial guard, though he had never encountered any alien species. His role was to lead the main platoon of infantry, filling out the ranks with grunts, not the most preferable job for a veteran sergeant.

File by file the men loaded their ships, followed by small amounts of armour, then by incoming valkyrie and vulture gunships. The men were ordered to their cabins to stay while the ship is in motion.

010 Tarakis System, Low Orbit over the world Tarakis

The troops woke from their slumber; twenty-three days had passed of restless sleep and eager preparation. The troops lazily marched down the access ramps to the landing bay, filled with restrained seats and oxygen masks for each soldier. Settling in, Ovaj took comfort with his sniper rifle firmly by his side.

The battle group slowly descended to the planets surface, the men rattling violently as the ship plunged through the planets thick atmosphere. The ship eventually broke through, releasing its landing gears and lowering the ramps with a hiss from centuries old pistons and gears.

Systematically the troops marched down the ramp onto the soft grass of the plain, broken each ten yards by a strangely shaped tree. The troops routinely began to pitch tents and fortifications, accompanied by revving chimera engines and Leman Russ battle tanks.

Ovaj walked to the tent located at the center of the camp, clearly marked to be Commodore Carajs head quarters. Ducking under the swaying tarpaulin, was caught in the gaze of the steely commissar squatted in the corner. Ovaj looked at the other corner, seeing the fixed gaze of the commodore seeing his reluctance at the sight of the commissar. “This is commissar Gregov, he is accompanying our detachment?, “Honored to have you here? stated Ovaj unwillingly. “What is our designated form of offence? inquired Gregov, his face twisting around the foreign words. “We are to attack the alien fortifications at sunrise, as the scum are returning from their peaceful slumber. The platoon and veterans will engage from the front while armoured fist squads engage from the reverse accompanied by demolisher battle tanks and mortar barrage, and supporting fire will be laid down by ratlings from afar. The platoons will then submit co-ordinates for artillery fire from Basilisks. Any scum who survive will be cut down by our veterans or caught between the platoons and armoured divisions. Air support will be provided by vultures and valkyries.?. “Your plan seems worthy, commodore? said the commissar. “What is your input Colour Sergeant? “Can I enquire about the resistance the Tau are to put up?? asked Ovaj. “ Reports from recon air support tell us that limited armour accompanies the scum and is heavily made from the ferocious ‘kroot’ xeno creatures?. “Thank you sir, may we be victorious in our efforts? praised Ovaj. “The emperor is with us sergeant, in every battle for our holy lord, he protects and makes us strong, have faith? Gregov stated. “Our company standard will accompany myself and my squad into battle, let our efforts not be in vain? the commodore explained. Routinely, the men made the sign of the Aquila across their chests and forwarded out.

040 Encampment Entrance

Ovaj peered slowly through his eyes at the massed soldiers at the entrance of their encampment, holding formation so the commodore could receive their amassed salute. Each man solemnly repeating prayers of protection and checking their weapons. The glare radiating from the planets twin suns forming a near unbearable spectrum across Ovaj’ eyes. In a matter of minutes, the commodore appeared from the cupola of his chimera, and systematically the men stiffened, saluting, then forming their squads routinely.

As one, the ranks filed out of their camp, forming a column several hundreds of metres in length. The men would attack as one, stealthily, silently…deadly.

04:34 Bush Land Surrounding Xeno-Structures
Ovaj signaled the squad in front to invert, allowing him and his team to maintain a view on the structures through the dense scrubland. The armoured vehicles were left behind fifty metres or so, their engines muffled to a low grizzle, easily conceived as a bird or animal by the Xeno. Squad by squad, they stealthily slid through the long grass, concealed by the shade of the grass and the lack of light, once the sun broke the horizon, the Xeno would break simultaneously.

Ovaj slammed his back into a small rocky outcrop, sighing with relief for the cover. The sky was a beautiful blue, broken only by random clouds, slowly shifting through the atmosphere. To his shock, the sky was broken by the jet engines of a Valkyrie, veering straight towards the xeno. Skillfully he pulled down his micro-vox from his helmet, whispering discreetly “Red eagle nine-o’-two, pull back, you are jeopardizing the mission?. The reply came quickly from the pilot, “Sergeant Ovaj, malfunction in steering machinery…SHHHHHIII…? his words muffled by the screaming of a high velocity slug tearing through the cockpit, incinerating the vehicle in incandescent flame.

“That *****ing pilot will get us all killed, all teams, pull back!?, he screamed into the micro-vox. His orders interrupted by the whining pitch of klaxons and security bells. Risking a glance from behind the rock formation, he saw a plethora of figures storming out of their fortifications, carnivorous kroot and Tau fire warriors searching for the intruders in the dim light.

Ovaj muttered a prayer of ordnance as he slid back the clip of his sniper rifle and loaded six bullets, checking his weapon then peering down the augmented scope, a gift from a civilian on Huvl II. “Blessus Thou Precisi Ordnatus? he repeated down the scope, drawing a bead on the head of a Tau warrior loading his rifle. The weapon let out a small snap as the bullet was forced through by its propellant, traveling down the barrel into the skull of the xeno creature, knocking him dead in an instant.

Five more times the hardened sergeant stared down the scope of his rifle, five more times a Tau warrior was knocked to the ground. By this time many other men were accompanying him, firing cautiously through the scrub. Ovaj was reloading his clip as a muffled vox message came through “All squads, proceed with ….mission, in….addition, the crew …. Valkyrie…must…….rescued?. Once again Ovaj cursed, loading his clip then gesturing for the advance.

055 Tau Outpost Perimeter

Ovaj threw himself at one of the tau patrolling the perimeter, viciously attacking him like a maddened murderer with his combat knife. The bloody combat caught the eye of many other tau defenders, rushing to protect their brethren. Their slow eye co-ordination was no match for the hardened soldiers, using their bulky lasguns and bare hands to maliciously attack their adversaries. All around, the Verodi 594th fought against the determined and stalwart defenders. Ovaj, after wiping his mono filiment blade clean of the pale red blood, opened his vox channel once again, “All armour, heavy resistance encountered, attack with extreme prejudice?. In a matter of seconds, three leman russ demolishers plowed through the bush land with hefty dozer blades, pivoting their turrets and unleashing a deafening volley from their monstrous maws. The huge ordnance blasted bloody chunks out of the tau lines; clearing several kroot warriors densely packed in a foxhole.

Squad by squad, the tau retreated backwards, each step costing many lives. The desperate defenders fled to their fortifications, firing rushed shots on the run. “The cowards!? shouted Ovaj, breaking into a sprint with his combat knife clenched in his bloodied fist. He glanced side ways, catching a glimpse of the company standard being unfurled, its seared edges and bullet holes proof of its extended use. As the curled material unfurled, the men of the regiment fought with renewed vigor. The men fought with a ferocity of true warriors, coordinating counterattacks and flanking the enemy with vicious close combat formations. Continuously, a steady stream of kroot advanced from the base, led by a bellowing avian xeno screeching orders in a high pitched whistle. Ovaj took his aim once again. He once again muttered a prayer down his barrel, then precisely pulled the trigger, yet the kroot did not fall. Two more times he pulled the trigger, yet the shaper would not fall. He flipped down his micro-vox and ordered his men to fire at the individual. Instantaneously, a well-placed missile from a weapons team detonated deep within the shapers chest cavity, exploding its orange gore over its comrades.

The stunned kroot glanced in disarray, their coordinated counterattack reduced to a suicide in seconds, as once again the demolisher line opened fire again, obliterating the xeno creatures. A cheer went through the imperial guardsmen as the remaining kroot were cut down by Commodore Adrias’ bodyguard.

05:28 Tau Structure
Ovaj watched as the Valkyrie crew was taken away by the medicae officers, and the veteran teams fixed demo charges on the buildings and set their det-tape. Once the demo charges were set they would be able to get off this rock, back to Verodi and have some down time for once.

Ovaj’s dreaming was interrupted by a thought that froze him. The officers had mentioned armour in the xeno arsenal, yet none had been seen yet. Immediately, he heard a low grumble get slowly louder, positioned near the outlying bush land. As one, seven streamline armoured tanks skimmed over the shrubs. Their massive weaponry drawing beads on the Verodi vehicles. In unison the weapons opened fire, their energy weapons tearing through the demolisher’s armour like tin foil.

Before the guardsmen could react, the air was filled with the smell of molten metal. Following the tanks attack, hidden tau in the shrubs marked out guard for destruction, their red marker lights the only signal before their death. Ovaj estimated there must be at least twenty tau in the bushes.

Loading his rifle, he sprinted for the bushes, ducking under rocks and shrubs until he reached the perimeter and drawing his pistol. Before he could react, one of the tau swung its rifle double handed in a swing meant to hit Ovaj in the ribs, swinging like quicksilver he reacted with a shot of his pistol into the tau eye piece, killing it instantly. Ovaj stalked through the bush with the stealth of a tiger, drawing behind three more of the tau and slitting heir throats between their chest and the helmet, protected only by a small piece of nylon.

By this time, the veteran teams had slithered into the bush, and were following Ovaj in his vengeful hunt. In minutes the tau hiding in the shrubs were dispatched silently and stealthily. Without the pathfinders aim, the tau tanks were left open and vulnerable. Ovaj saw one of the xeno appear from his cupola to search for the pathfinders. He drew up his rifle and skillfully dispatched the tank, which seconds later blossomed in flames from the veterans autocannon team. Still the tau tanks scurried around their structures in desperation. Ovaj saw a guardsmen climbed onto the top of one of their vehicles, slamming a grenades down its huge barrel, then sliding down its smooth front. The grenade fell down its loading mechanism, detonating within its ammunition stocks. The vehicle wreathed in orange flame. Ovaj would have to demand that soldier be awarded a medal if he survived.

Only three more tanks were left in the outpost, hurriedly firing shots in desperation. Ovaj heard the crackle of static over his earpiece, making out the order to retreat back outside the structures. As one, the remaining troops fled the scene, regrouping outside the structures. As the squad sergeant began to assess their casualties, the structures blossomed in incandescent explosions, the demolitions finally exploding. The conflict had been resolved, but at an unprecedented casualty toll. Forty-three dead and another seventy-eight wounded, a ‘surgical strike’ in imperial guard terms means a massacre, Ovaj thought.