Brandon Dixon

Brandon Dixon

Project: P-7

4th Period

An account from one of the troopers acting under General Sulla(currently retired) and Commissar Ciaphas Cain, both officers of the Valhallan 597th during the first deployment in Skitterfall, capital of the planet Adumbria

As the dropship pitched and the pressure on my spine from the G-forces increased, I could tell today was going to be a bad day. At the mission briefing, I could tell. Even when I woke up, I knew it. But when I looked down the isle towards the loading bay of the dropship and saw the black suit of a commissar, I knew it something serious was happening planetside. As he came closer, I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I read the name on his tunic. "Cain". God Emperor, I thought, Ciaphas Cain, "Cain, Hero of the Imperium" was onboard of our ship. He immediately went towards the cockpit and talked to our commanding officer, Captain Detoi, and the pilots. After a minute, he sat down directly across from me and strapped himself into his crash webbing. I suppose I was nervous enough sitting close to so great a hero, but when his grungy looking companion passed by me, followed by his scent, I almost threw up. Why did the commissar put up with that man? I wondered. He looked like he hadn't bathed in years, and smelled even worse!

"Listen up everyone!" Captain Detoi yelled over the comm-net, bringing me back to reality. "We're hitting dirt in two. It'll be hot, so look alive!" At those words, we broke out into a flurry of activity around the passenger compartment, preparing for the battle to come. We donned our helmets, snapped fresh power cells into out lasguns, and said our prayers to the God Emperor, asking for his beneficence and protection.

Oh, frak! I realized, if The Great Ciaphas Cain was onboard, then that meant that something had gone wrong and we were going to clean up someone else's mess. Oh well, this wouldn't be the first time the 597th had been called upon to show the other regiments how it was done. Those stupid Tallarns, most likely (as it turned out, I was correct). I knew that one day their constant sniveling about the Emperor's grace would get them all shot one day. It looked like today would be my day, I mused.

It wasn't the yelling or pressure on my spine that snapped me out of my trance again. This time, it was the near deafening clangs and hisses of the bay doors opening and letting the cold, sweet air rushing in.

"Go, go go!!" Captain Sulla yelled, driving us like cattle out into the landing zone, snow flurrying around us. My first view of the city was one of gloom and darkness. Apart from the cold, it seemed to sap the strength and willpower out of me. But there was no time to wonder why that was, as our instincts kicked in and we fanned out to secure the LZ. At that time, I was a bit of a juvie, so I didn't know exactly what to do, so I looked back up the ramp for some hint of guidance. And there he was again, Cain, walking confidently down the ramp. Wow, I thought, this was my first actually deployment with the 597th, my first actually battle. I was shaking all over, but Cain was just walking into the drop zone as though he was walking across a bar to order a shot of amasec and talk to a girl he fancied. The only thing that ruined his heroic pose was when he almost slipped and fell on one of the stupid vegetables that seemed to be everywhere. I tried my hardest not to laugh, but he saw it anyways. I thought for sure he'd execute my then and there, but he just smiled and laugh with me. Then his aide helped him up, and he continued to walk. I was beginning to see why he was so famous in the regiment. He had a healthy respect, if not friendship, of all the soldiers that were under his command.

When the roar of Chimeras surprised me from behind, I almost span around and started firing on full auto. I've got to calm down, I thought. If I stay with the commissar, I'll be fine.

"Third platoon mounted up and ready to go" Sulla yelled down from the top of the lead Chimera inside the dropship. Oh, frak! I remembered that's why I didn't remember what I was supposed to be doing, I was supposed to be in the Chimera's, not out here! I rushed up the ramp and climbed into Sulla's Chimera. For a moment, we just sat there, waiting. I looked over at Sulla, and I could tell that she was getting our orders, so I just tried to relax for a minute.

"Go." She suddenly said to the driver. The Chimera burst into movement, sending me bouncing all over the place inside the passenger compartment. A few of the other troopers laughed at me, the rest just glared at me. Sulla, I noticed, looked back for a second, kind of smiled like she was going to laugh, then turned away, back to her map. "Go left here!" She yelled over the engine to the driver, and we jerked to that direction. Fortunately, I was holding on this time, so I didn't embarrass myself again. For a long time, we just stood up inside the passenger compartment, leaning with the turns the driver made. Then through the thick hull of the armor, we heard the higher pitch growl of a Salamander light-transport. I was confused, we didn't have any Salamanders in our regiment, and the heavy gunners weren't firing, so it couldn't have been an enemy tank. Well, there was one Salamander back on the Emperor's Beneficence, but it belonged to…

"Commissar" Sulla greeted Cain through the comm-net, "I guess we're about to see some action after all, if you're here."

"That remains to be decided" he replied levelly "But if the heretics break they'll only have one place to go. Making sure they don't get away has to be our highest priority."

"You can count on us" she assured him.

I assume to we were at the zone pretty soon after their conversation, because the driver coasted for awhile, then turned and backed up (when we got out, I found out he did that to completely block a bridge that would be the heretic's only means of escape). Sulla and Cain had a quick conversation that I didn't hear, thanks to the growl of the Chimera's engine, and we deployed to fortify the bridge. I positioned myself on the right side of the vehicle, partly because I wanted to let the Chimera's heavy bolter take care of most of the work. (in reality, I went to the side because it was either there or directly in front of the armor, and I didn't want to go deaf when the heavy weapons started firing) It only took a moment until we heard the crackle of small arms fire.

"Contact, moving fast" one of the sergeants near me yelled. I narrowed my eyes to see what it was that was headed our way, and found that it was a traffic director, coming at us full throttle on his motorbike. We heard the zip pow of lasbolt fire again, and realized that the officer was being pursued by 3 grav cars.

"Hostiles, prepare to engage!" Sulla yelled from the top of her Chimera.

"Try not to shoot the praetor" Cain added from behind the bolter of his Salamander. His attendant had parked it so that they would have a decent shot long before the heretics could ever returned fire. We waited for a moment as the rapidly coming vehicles grew in size and came into range of the bolters.

"Fire at will" Cain called, then he opened up, an instant before the rest of the heavy weapons did, sending a fusillade of lasbolts and shells hurled into the darkness, glowing brightly as the went. We on foot didn't shoot because there was no way we could hit them at that distance, so we just watched. We let out a war cry when we saw the vehicles trailing the officer break off the chase, one of them trailing smoke. A few seconds later, the officer slid his bike to a halt, and looked up at Cain. I could see them talking, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. Every once in awhile, a lasbolt would fly wild over head as the heretics tried to shoot at us, but they weren't having an luck. The praetor and Cain continued to talk until the bolt hit the Salamander in the side. I saw him look down and say something to his companion in the driver seat, and nearly had to get a new pair of pants when he triggered the autocannon on the front of the vehicle. Frak, I thought, that'd give them something to think about. For awhile, anyways.

It seemed like the fight was over for us. Or, at least it did until we heard the zip crack of a lasgun and the officer spun around, a lasbolt wound on his torso. We looked over and saw three heretics, all dressed in a bright pink that did not agree with their style at all, and brought up our weapons to take them down. But the instant before we opened up, the commissar was on the ground, charging them with the chainsword in both hands. We couldn't shoot because we didn't want to accidentally shoot him, so we had to watch. He rolled and came up with just enough space to bring his sword up and take of on of the heretic's legs. Surprisingly, she giggled. One of the other heretics (it looked like a man, but it was hard to tell) was aiming at Cain's aide, who was giving up on the turret and bringing his rifle to bear from his hip. The aide wouldn't have made it, but luckily Cain swung his sword and took off the would-be killer's hands before he could fire.

"Oh, yes!" the heretic man/women yelled. "Again!" it started to say, being stopped when his head exploded from the aide's rifle.

"No, it's my turn!" the woman with only one leg left yelled, trying to get up but slipping on her own blood. The remaining, significantly older heretic stepped in front of her.

"Age before beauty, my love." The grandpa remarked.

"Frak this, your all insane!" Cain yelled, and kicked the old one, sending him reeling back over the girl. He pulled out his laspistol, and fired a few bursts, and that was the end. If I was Cain, I would have sat down and let the others take care of the wounded officer, but Cain went directly over and asked about him. The medic looked up at him and said something that I couldn't hear, but it looked he said that he'd okay, judging by the way Cain's face relaxed.

I, myself, was beginning to relax, but as soon as the ground started to rumble, we jumped up and got ready to defend ourselves. But no shots were fired. We finally realized that the noise was coming from behind us, from friendly territory. When we turned around, we saw more than a dozen Chimera's coming toward us. For a moment, I thought the lead vehicle was going to ram Sulla's Chimera, which was still effectively blocking of the bridge, but it stopped, and a chubby commissar popped out from the top of the vehicle. Two commissars in one day, I thought. What else could go wrong?

"Clear the road!" he yelled "Our colonel's under attack!" It was then that Cain stepped out from the shadow of his Salamander. When the pudgy commissar saw him, his eyes went wide (with a comical result among our squad, I might add, since many of us started laughing).

"Already taken care of" Cain yelled back. "Check your command channel." As he listened for a minute, I realized that was what the rest of our regiment must have been doing. Eventually, the fat commissar's jaw clenched, as though feeling pretty stupid.

Cain smiled. "No thanks are necessary" he added.