Song of War

"I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders."

-Jewish Proverb-

Track 7: Homefront

0500 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

Shuuji Kobe's Residence, Japan

Sunlight shone past the window of the bedroom of his apartment. Because his bed, on the east side of the room, was right beside the window in question, the light managed to flash over his eyelids and wake the sleeping teen.

He got up and looked around his Spartan room. Propped by the corner across him was his lasgun, cleaned, loaded and put on safety. On the same of the room were his TV, desk and closet.

"Wow, what a day it was yesterday. No briefings. No drills. No gunshots and most importantly, no Commissar."

But then the teen remembered what occurred yesterday afternoon, just past six. "That was really fun. So much I could do it again with her. I really wished this vacation never ended."

The teen got off his bed and stretched, glad that he was able to unwind on the first three days of his weeklong vacation. Just yesterday, the teen was called out by his girlfriend, Tsumugi Kotobuki to head out to the park and take her out on a date. Startled by her forwardness, he couldn't plan properly but somehow, managed to bring her to a nice restaurant she had never been in, then take her home. He even managed to kiss her at the end, all to her delight.

The memory was still fresh in his mind. He could feel himself blushing just remembering it.


Shuuji heard the sound coming from his bed. He turned around and pulled out his cellphone from under the pillow. He noticed that the caller was Cpt. Price…his CO or Commanding Officer.

He put the phone to his ear. "Sir!"

"At ease Lieutenant. We're off duty here. I just wanted to call you to pass on some news to your mates." The captain calmly stated.

"Sure." The teen replied. "What news sir?"

There was a brief chatter in the background but Cpt. Price continued. "The Blood Angels Space Marines have landed on the planet. They're going to eradicate an Ork encampment just a few miles to the north of our LZ. I'm not trying to scare you. I just want you and your squad to know."

Shuuji saw the pattern that was forming. "In short, we could get pulled out to join the hunt."

"That's the idea." Cpt. Price retorted. "They're mobilizing as we speak. You'll be on standby till the Colonel gives the signal. Don't forget to pass it on." He promptly ended the call.

The young teen placed the phone on his desk for a moment as he sat on his bed, his head, resting on his left hand. The news shook him in more ways than he wished.

You see… Shuuji and the Whiteshields were taught many things by the Commissar during the boot camp. But the one thing he taught them the most was to be ready to die when they faced the Necrons, Tyranids or Orks in a war. During those lectures, Commissar Stone would also speak of the Space Marines and their exploits and how they are the Guard's only saving grace should all of the above happen to show up. Of course, like the rest of the recruits, Shuuji didn't understand and found it hard to believe. But after seeing with his own eyes, the enemies of the Emperor just a few days ago, he begun to believe and was frightened of the truth.

He lifted his head up and exhaled, "Let's hope those Space Marines are as good as we were taught they were."

He got up and took his cellphone once more to pass on the message to his men.

0500 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

Hirasawa Residence, Japan

It was another early morning and Yui was ready for it. After the extensive drills and discipline she received from Cpt. Price, she habitually made an effort to wake up at this time everyday.

Yui had already gotten out of her bed and was routinely inspecting her weapon on the floor of her room. The disassembled lasgun had been laid out on a sheet of cream colored cloth for inspection and cleaning. Yui looked at each part, eyeing it for any signs of warping, dust and the occasional dirt and debris from firing the weapon.

"Ah! This part needs cleaning." She told herself upon seeing the base of the lasgun barrel. She looked to her right and saw the cleaning cloth she had prepared. She took it, twisted it to form an amorphous cone shape, and used the tip to clean the debris off the base of the barrel. She then put down the compounded steel pipe and looked through the other parts.

"I wonder when this screw got loose." She thought upon seeing a screw of the trigger mechanism. "I guess Cpt. Price was right to teach us to clean our guns daily. If the lasgun gets this rattled after every battle, then daily maintenance is a need to prevent the weapon from degrading in the heat of battle. I wonder if Lt. Shuuji knew about this? I'll go text him."

She put down the trigger mechanism and pulled out her cellphone from under her bed. Only God knows how it got there. She opened it up and texted her comrade about the weapon issue just as Shuuji had texted her his orders from their CO.

"Ah. A message." Yui said as she was about to send her message. She opened up the text and read the orders written in it. "Hmmm…Cpt. Price must be short on men if we'll be put on standby. Is the Ork threat that bad?"

She texted back to Shuuji that she will pass it on to the others and also mentioned the lasgun issue. She closed her phone and returned to cleaning her weapon. She tightened the loose screws of the trigger mechanism, followed by a quick inspection of the other parts. With everything in order, she quickly assembled it again.

She heard a knock on her door followed by Ui's voice saying, "Onee-chan, are you awake?"

Ui turned the doorknob and entered the room to see her sister already up and assembling her weapon. Ui stood there for a few seconds, not comprehending what she was seeing. "Onee-chan is awake? Who replaced my sister?" "Onee-chan…is that you?"

"Of course it's me." Yui replied with a hint of annoyance. "Who else would it be?"

Ui put a hand on her chest in relief. But now looking at her sister, she was more than glad that Yui had grown up a little more in the short time she spent in boot camp. The younger sibling sat down in front of the disassembled weapon and asked, "What are all these Onee-chan?"

Yui smiled and said, "This is my service rifle—the lasgun. I'm just cleaning it up before I put it back together again."

"Ehhh…" Ui said as she looked at the bits and pieces of metal. "So even taking it apart and cleaning it is part of boot camp. It sounds so interesting. Maybe I should join after graduation."

Yui quickly assembled the weapon, her form, sharp and purposeful as she put the weapon together. In less than a minute, the lasgun was fully assembled. Yui cocked the gun and aimed at her window. She squeezed the trigger. The click sound it made meant there were no problems with the gun. It was ready.

She placed the gun back down and loaded it with its magazine.

Ui clapped after seeing her sister do it so effectively. Yui blushed and bowed, happy that she was being praised.

"That was amazing!" Ui exclaimed.

"Hehehe. I can even do it blindfolded." Yui told her.

Ui chuckled lightly at the idea. She could already see her sister fumbling around with the gun parts and assembling something else instead.

"Ah! I almost forgot." Yui suddenly exclaimed. She picked up her cellphone, stood up and called up Mugi. "Hello? Mugi? Today's the day. Let's all meet up at school so we can all visit the psyker together."

"That's a great idea. I'm getting dressed now." Mugi answered.

Ui was confused by the sudden actions but she stood up nonetheless and said, "You're going somewhere Onee-chan?"

Yui faced her and nodded. "We're going to visit a retired veteran from the army. I'm already excited. What should I wear?"

Ui put her hands behind her back and said, "Anything's good Onee-chan. If it's just a drop in visit, then wear something comfortable."

Ui then asked her what she wanted for breakfast and quickly took to the kitchen to prepare food for Yui and her friends. Yui on the other hand went to the shower, took a bath and changed into some casual clothing. She put on a yellow hoodie over a white T-shirt with the picture of Pikachu at the front. She also wore blue jeans and white sneakers. Though normally she wouldn't wear jeans, she had reason to this time. She needed to holster her laspistol so she opted for this getup.

After getting fully dressed, she strapped on her laspistol to her right leg and made her way downstairs and into the dining room. Yui noticed the basket of goodies that Ui had prepared.

"Thank you Ui. I'll be back in a few hours." Yui told her sister.

Ui nodded and watched as Yui took the basket and ran out of the house. The younger sibling sighed. Her sister had left once again onto another wonderful adventure.

Ui sat on the couch in the living room for a moment and turned on the TV. "It's so lonely without Onee-chan."

Suddenly a news report flashed on the screen. The news anchorman sat in front of the camera with a grim look on his face.

"Today, we have just received a report…"the anchorman began. "A group of terrorists known as Gorn'gutz have taken the nearby mountainside as their homebase and are preparing to launch an attack on the cities below. We haven't received any further news from the JSDF but citizens are advised to prepare for evacuation to Narita Airport should the terrorist threat escalate."

Ui watched with interest. It was rare for Japan to have terrorist threats or any threats at all.

The news anchorman shifted in his seat for a second before returning to his professionalism. "We have Youji Nakagawa on the scene. Nakagawa, can you walk us through this?"

For a moment the screen split in half between the anchorman and a military journalist in camouflage gear. The journalist suddenly said, "Yes, we're here at the base camp of our defense forces and things are about to get hot. They've begun initial contact with the terrorists and tried negotiations but the terrorists have not made their demands and started shooting the soldiers. We're about ready to make our counterattack and are in preparation for a full scale war should the need arise."

The anchorman listened intently and was curious of his last statement. "Did you say full scale war? Are the terrorists that well equipped or do they have enough numbers for it?"

The journalist swated the flys away from his face. "Yes and Yes. The terrorists are actually not from Japan and they have both the manpower and equipment to attack and occupy a prefect of the country."

The anchorman paled at the realization. "So we are looking at a possible invasion force. Shouldn't we begin evacuating the nearest towns and cities?"

The journalist shook his head in disappointment. "According to the Commanding Officer of the JSDF, the terrorists, while having the necessary strength to carry out an attack is still too small to fully invade the cities and towns below the mountains. Also, they chose a difficult vantage point on the mountain that makes it hard to make an all-out-attack. Basically, the terrorists chose to make their base near the cliffs where it's a straight drop on the other side. In order to invade, they need to pass down the mountain path and into what we call in the military, a chokepoint where our soldiers are standing by."

That bit of information relieved the anchorman and the viewers.

The anchorman nodded and said, "Thank you Nakagawa, please keep us posted on any updates. In the meantime, the prime minister has ordered all citizens to be ready for evacuation and stay calm and organized. This is Ken Shuuske of Sakuraba News."

The news switched back to a lifestyle channel allowing Ui to take a deep breath of relief. There was no need to panic at this uncertain moment.

0531 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

Sakuragaoka High School, Japan

Yui waited in the parking lot of the school. She told her friends that it was a long drive there and no buses were available at the time. As she waited, she received a text message from Commissar Stone, detailing who they were going to meet.

His name was Liao Kung. He is man of Chinese descent and a retired Sanctioned Psyker of the Cadian Imperial Guard. He had served under the 110th Cadian Shadow Corps and made 120 confirmed kills during his service in the regiment. After a bad injury to his spine, he was pulled from service, awarded with proper honors and given bionic enhancements to his spinal cord. Amazingly, these enhancements opened more channels for his psychic powers, increasing their efficiency and granting him a huge boost in power. He returned to service once more and fought even to the point his psychic hood was badly damaged. According to eyewitnesses, he discarded the hood in the middle of battle and unleashed his full power onto a wave of orks, wiping them out in a blaze of fire and lightning. Ever since, he has never worn a psychic hood despite criticism and fear from his comrades. But in his entire thirty years of service, he has never once shown any form of taint, insanity, or any signs of psychic backlashes. He was then retransferred to Col. Hagar's regiment before retirement. He retired at the age of 50 and has gone into solitude, harnessing and honing his psychic abilities in hopes of passing his hard earned knowledge to younger psykers before they succumb to the warp.

Yui put away her phone as she noticed a familiar car in the distance. It drove in closer and the girl saw it was her teacher who was driving.

Sawako had just arrived in the parking lot with her red Honda Civic. She parked it in the driveway and got out to meet Yui. "Are you ready Yui?"

The younger girl nodded. "Yes."

Sawako put her hand under her chest and asked, "So why is it you want to meet the retired soldier?"

"My CO advised me to." Yui answered. "He said that the man can help me better understand my role in the military. I also want to know it. I want to make certain of a few things."

Sawako noticed the dodgy answer. She didn't want Yui to keep secrets from her. "Yui…Although I'm not in the same profession, you can still come to me whenever you have a problem. Please, tell me if there's anything I can do for you."

Yui nodded. She understood her teacher's feelings, which was precisely why she wanted to pull through with this visit.

Soon enough, Mugi, Ritsu and Mio, with their laspistols holstered to their right legs, managed to round the school and enter the driveway where Yui and Sawako waited.

"I'm so glad that Sawa-chan is giving us a ride. I don't have enough money to take a cab there." Ritsu declared.

"But I thought you always had enough money for that." Mugi answered. "Didn't your parents give you a raise in your allowance last time?"

Ritsu replied, "That was before I joined the Guard. Now that I'm with the regiment, they decided to cut me loose so I can learn to live with my decisions."

"Oh my." Mugi gasped as she put a hand over her mouth. "I didn't think they were that ruthless."

"I can share a bit of mine…" Mio whispered.

"So shall we go?" Sawako asked her former students.

They all nodded and the older woman got in her car and turned the ignition key. The girls hopped in the car and Sawako drove off the parking lot and straight into the busy street.

0531 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

LZ Alpha, Japan

"Operation: Meat Shield"

At the base of the mountain codenamed, Spearpoint, a group of Japanese soldiers were busy building trenches and laying claymores near the only path up the mountain. Most of the soldiers were dirty and tired of constant digging and construction of defensive perimeters around the chokepoint.

"This is just bull!" yelled one soldier as he dug through the ditch with his yard long shovel. "Why do we have to dig while the tin men relax in the base? This is so unfair!"

"Calm down Jun." replied his aged companion. "We're almost through here and then it'll be their turn to fight."

"Yeah right." Said the unbelieving soldier as he threw his shovel to the side. "Those 'Space Marines' or whatever they call themselves better be useful. If they can do half the things they say they could, then I'd gladly dig this god-forsaken hole all day long. But noooo…they just sit around sharpening their armor and their tongues. I'm telling ya…if I was in one of those suits, I'd cream Gorn'gutz and his monsters."

"Then you should have been born on Baal instead." Said a low and emphatic voice from behind the two soldiers.

The Japanese soldiers stopped what they were doing as they saw a brown haired, helmetless Blood Angel Space Marine with a chainsword attached to his left side, approach them. The marine stopped in front of the ditch to look down and see how the progress was going only to find a bickering soldier, tired of the day he was having.

"Is it not enough that you even get the chance to wield a gun?" the brown haired marine replied.

The aged Japanese soldier bowed in respect and replied, "It is a great honor Captain Lunarius. My colleague is just tired from all the work. You understand don't you?"

"Oh I do." The captain answered, the wind whipping his hair, back and forth. "You are not a man until you've performed hard labor. But we also have a saying in the Chapter…you are not a Space Marine until you can appreciate hard labor."

The hotheaded Jun felt the Space Marine's words directed at him. "Whatever man. Not to sound disrespectful, but you're outta line buddy. We're the ones fighting here to protect our world. Not you. So take your philosophical bull elsewhere and let the real men take charge."

The space marine eyed the hotheaded soldier with an annoyed look. "Then by all means, lead the way. I'll be glad to support you in the protection of your planet."

The hotheaded Jun gave a smug look at the marine as he was about to turn around and continue digging.

"But know this…" the space marine interrupted. "Your arrogance is all that stands between you and the enemy. If you want to really fight them, then stop cowering behind your pride and fight."

The marine pulled aside his chainsword and stuck it in the ground in front of the hotheaded Jun. "Take it and go up there. Lead the vanguard up the hill and take the boss' head."

Jun just yelled back, "I knew it. You're just a pussy in armor. How about it tin man? Can't handle the real fight now that you're here? I don't need your stupid sword. I'd go up there and tear him to shreds."

"Then do it." The marine answered with a cold tone.

Jun hesitated. He didn't expect the marine to be this serious. He couldn't understand why the marine was putting him on the spot either. "You know I'm gonna do it!"

"Then Do It." the marine emphasized.

Jun kept silent for a few seconds before he backed down for real and shook his head.

The marine pulled out his chainsword, satisfied that he exposed the soldier's true nature. "Now you know why you're digging the trenches. You've got spunk kid. But you're not even worthy of wearing your own uniform. Stick to digging. It's the only thing you're good at."

The marine attached the chainsword to his left side once more and walked off to the Command Tent where his five-man Sternguard Veteran Squad stood around a map of the entire mountain.

They greeted the captain with a nod of affirmation. The officer returned the gesture.

Looking over the map, the captain told them, "We have the chokepoint ready as planned. Now for the fun part." He pointed at the mountain and said, "We'll bombard the hill with artillery and force them down the road." He pointed at the road next. "While our Devastators and Tactical Squads lay down suppressing fire, we'll drop down behind them on top of the mountain and break their artillery and work our way to their boss. They'll get caught in the pincer and die out. Any questions?"

The other marines said nothing.

"Alright, let's get moving." The captain finalized.

0546 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

Unknown, Japan

Sawako had driven the car a few miles on the road, making good time thanks to the lack of traffic.

Yui and her friends were busy chatting away in the car as they usually did, not minding that Sawako had lowered to windows instead of turning on the AC.

"Hey, Sawa-chan…are we there yet?" Yui cutely asked.

Sawako signaled left and said, "We're almost there Yui. Just sit back for a while."

Yui pouted and said, "Awww…hey guys I just got an idea! Let's hold a concert for the students in Sakuragaoka when we get back."

Mio shook her head. "No, Yui. We only have a week of vacation and it's already Wednesday. Two days of practice isn't enough time. And we also have our orders."

Mugi nodded as well.

Ritsu on the other hand sighed and said, "It would have been great to do the concert. I can see it already…Me on the drums while Mio trips over the cord again. 'Oh no, Mio tripped again! Get some pictures quick! We can sell them on Craig's List.'"

Mio bashed the drummer's head in harder than usual. "If you even mention that again, I'll throw you out the car."

Sawako held her laughter in for a few seconds before it burst. "That would be the best scheme you've thought of yet Ritsu. I have a camera with me too. Let's do it and make a nice profit."

"Sensei!" Mio yelled out, her face beet red.

Mugi smiled for a moment until she received a text message. She quickly opened her phone and noticed it was from her boyfriend. She quickly texted back and waited for him to reply.

Yui noticed the lovestruck Mugi and thought, "Mugi really loves him. She spends more time with him than with us. I wonder what it's like to have a boyfriend and fall in love? It must be really nice."

She imagined what her boyfriend could look like. He was handsome, gallant, and unafraid of taking risks—a complete prince charming.

But that image remained a dream.

The Imperial Guard was an army that faced many challenges. The Bloom of Love, was one of them. Yet she still dreamed, believing that one day she might find that special someone as well.

"Oh girls, why is it that you're carrying those guns with you?" Sawako asked them.

Mio answered, "Rule #4 of the Imperial Guard manual states that all personnel must be armed and ready for conflict at all times."

"That's just being paranoid..." Sawako mentally remarked.

"Don't worry Sawa-chan." Yui reassured. "We won't expect trouble ahead but we want to be prepared just in case something does happen."

"If you say so." Sawako replied, whilst keeping her eye on the road. It was much better than thinking about the fact that her students were armed for war.

Sawako shifted her foot to the brake pedal and softly depressed it as she made a left turn into a single road that ran up a hill, overlooking the ocean. At the top of the hill was a small, two story wooden house complete with chimney and a gazebo to the left.

The red car climbed the hill and parked just outside the house, allowing the passengers to exit and gaze at the humble home of the retired soldier.

Sawako admired the house. "Sugoi. So even soldiers can live off well." She then faced Yui and asked, "So what rank did he retire from? Colonel? General?"

Yui answered, "He's not part of the ranking system. He's a specialist attached to the regiment, to aid them against specific enemies. He was also the aide of the Colonel of our regiment."

Sawako's eyebrows rose. Most especially since Yui was going to fulfill the same role. Her curiosity began to rise.

The five of them walked up the porch and knocked on the door.

"Who's there?" answered a low voice from behind the door.

Yui and the other guardsmen heard the familiar click of a pistol being cocked. Yui looked at her friends and they nodded, knowing what to do.

"We want to talk to psyker Liao Kung. Is he home?" Yui said as she pulled out her laspistol and flipped the safety down.

"Psyker?" Sawako wondered. But then she noticed Yui and her students pull out their weapons. She was about to gasp out until Mugi grabbed her by the arm and gave her a serious look.

Sawako knew at this point to just shut up and listen as Mugi walked her behind the car and both knelt down allowing Ritsu to stealthily circle around the house to the back door. Mio walked over to the left side of the house and stacked up by the door there.

Yui saw that her friends were in position. She then turned to the front door and said, "Once again, can you tell me if Liao Kung is home? We're friends of his."

"Sorry. Nobody here by that name." said the low voice. "I think you got the wrong hou—"

Yui kicked down the door, startling the man inside and sending him to the floor. She reflexively aimed her gun at him, noticing that he wasn't the man the commissar described to her. It was just a punk with a gun and tattoos on his face.

"Drop it. You don't have a fighting chance." Yui sharply ordered.

Suddenly, another man, who'd been hiding beside the door, quickly came out with a flashlight and a knife. He stood in front of her and flashed the light on her eyes. Yui quickly moved forward and pushed the man back with her left hand before he could stab her. As the man reeled back, she aimed her lasgun at his head and squeezed the trigger. A bright beam of red light fell upon his forehead and it promptly exploded, sending the man to the floor with a badly shaped hole in his head.

The other man cursed, got up and aimed his gun at her just as Ritsu and Mio knocked down the two other doors simultaneously and entered the room their guns aimed at the man. The panicked gunman looked at the other two before returning his gaze at Yui, a little too late. Yui closed in and whacked the butt of her gun over his head, stunning him. She then held his neck with her left hand, and simultaneously placed her left leg behind his left leg and sweeped it as she pushed him down. Yui crouched and placed her right knee over his neck as she aimed her laspistol on the man's forehead whilst holding down his gun arm by the wrist with her left hand.

"Hey!" yelled out a crude voice coming from the nearby stairs. The guardsmen looked at the source and saw a long, black haired old man being held hostage by a young black man with a gun aimed at the older man's temple.

The girls froze as the black man walked down the stairs with his hostage. "Alright, nobody moves or Gandalf here is gonna be casting spells in Hell."

"You don't have to do this." Yui told him, her voice, calm and collected. "Just put the gun down and I promise you we can work this out."

"I don't want no promises!" the black man yelled. "I want to walk outta here with my boy nice and slow."

Yui looked to Mio and Ritsu who had their guns pointed at the black man. She then nodded to her friends and they backed off lowering their weapons slowly.

"Now that's what I'm talking about." Said the black man as he walked himself and his hostage to the front door, the assailant's back facing the entrance.

Yui got up and took a step back as the other gunman got up, his eyes wide with panic as he aimed his gun at the girls.

The two gunmen walked backwards and out onto the porch, their aim never leaving the girls. The black man then put his left arm around the old man's neck while he aimed the gun in his right over the man's right temple.

Yui then said to the hostage, "Psyker, tilt your head to the left a bit more."

The old man did as he was told. Suddenly a red beam struck the back of black man's head causing it to explode. He dropped dead on the spot. Before the other gunman could register what happened, the back of his head also exploded thanks to another red beam.

The old man looked back to the red Honda Civic and saw that it was Mugi who had shot down the two assailants.

"I'm glad that one of you knows how to shoot." The old man replied. "Miracles truly do happen."

0546 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

LZ Alpha, Japan

"Operation: Meat Shield"

The morning grew colder, its chill, biting through the jackets of the hundred strong JSDF Rifle Company entrenched a few feet behind the first trench they dug. All the while, the brown haired Space Marine Captain stood behind them, his gaze sharpened for the coming war.

Captain Lunarius Ascella was a Blood Angel Captain from the 5th Company sent to quell the Ork numbers before they could multiply and sweep the planet in a never ending war. He came with a ten-man squad of Assault Troops, a personal five-man Sternguard Marine Squad, two, 20-man Tactical Squads and a five-man Devastator Squad for good measure. But this would not be enough to break the back of the Ork invaders and he knew this grim reality from prior battles with the Orks.

The Captain looked back to see his Sternguard Marine Squad, ready and waiting, their scoped bolters almost shining in the faint light of morning. He looked to his left to see Major Oda Goro of the JDF, still nervous of the giant in armor.

"Do it." He urged the officer.

Major Goro pulled out his radio and sounded out, "All artillery…FIRE!"

The sounds of thunder filled the air as the Artillery Tanks blasted their guns on the mountain side. For ten minutes, bright yellow and orange blasts could be seen, flaring up upon the face of the mountain.

The tanks stopped firing and waited for their guns to cool. As they did, the JSDF Rifle Company lay in their trenches, gun at the ready.

"This is it old man. We're in the game now." Said the hotheaded Jun as he looked down his sights whilst keeping his feet firmly planted on the dirt of the trench he was in.

The aged soldier wiped the sweat from his brow. Unlike his partner, he wasn't so eager to fight. He was just a few days from retirement till the sudden call to arms.

The aged soldier gripped his M16 to his shoulder as tightly as he could and uttered a small prayer to God that this battle be quick and that should he die, his death be painless.

A loud but faint battle cry could be heard in the distance. Then marching noise filled the air.

It came closer and louder. Faint shadows and shapes could be made out. The soldiers tensed and focused, their fingers on the trigger.

Then the Orks came through the fog. Some were already bloodied. But all were hungry for war. They raised their Choppas and waved their makeshifts guns in the air.

The soldiers felt their arms weaken and their stomachs curdle. The hotheaded Jun lowered his rifle slightly on instinct as he saw these green aliens. "Oh my go-"

"WAAAAAAGHHHHH!" Yelled an Ork Nob. Many more Orks yelled with him.

0556 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

Liao Kung Residence, Japan

The girls and their teacher sat around the couches of the living room whilst the old psyker, Liao Kung, set cups of tea on the table in the middle.

"Your first time seeing death?" the old psyker asked of Sawako.

But she only nodded in reply. She was still very much shocked by the events that transpired a few minutes earlier.

Everything she knew about the girls was a need to know basis. They joined the military, period. They were in Boot Camp for at least two months, period. They were taught how to fight, period. But to see them apply the skills they learned and kill so ruthlessly (at least Mugi), destroyed everything she knew about them and left her in its wake wondering why.

She picked up the cup of tea as her students remained silent, ashamed of glancing back at their teacher.

The old psyker picked up his cup of tea and said, "I don't know the words to comfort you, but what they did was save my life. For that, I am grateful they did what they had to."

Sawako lightened up, hearing that. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disrespect you. I'm just a little shaken up by all this. It really happened right?"

Yui nodded. She then faced the old psyker and asked, "Sir, are you Liao Kung the Destroyer?"

"So they still call me that…" replied the old psyker. "At least my war buddies know some respect unlike those lowlifes in the bodybags."

Yui then replied, "I am also a psyker Kung-san. Please, teach me how to use my powers."

"Eh?" uttered, Sawako.

The old psyker looked at Yui from head to toe. He already felt her shining presence a mile away but upon closer inspection he noticed that the girl's psychic affinity was much lower than he thought. "Go home."

"Why Kung-san?" Yui pleaded.

"The Warp is not meant for innocent children." The old pysker answered.

"Hey, Yui saved an entire day from her vacation to meet you." Mio interrupted. "Telling her to just leave is a bit unfair!"

"Justice is not the answer to your question." Kung replied. "The Warp is like a storm. It is violent and unexpected. To harness its power requires a steel mind and full conviction. She has neither making her a danger to herself and those around her. Demons can easily possess her the way she is."

Ritsu and Mio's eyes widened upon hearing that horror. They never knew how perilous the burden Yui had been given till now.

Sawako on the other hand was more confused than ever. "Wait…What are you guys talking about?"

They briefly looked at Sawako and understood her confusion. Only the Guardsmen were educated in matters of the Warp and its denizens.

Mugi answered, "Sensei, the Warp is a place outside of natural space. Its nature is too alien to fully understand. But I think that it holds incredible power and that people like Yui and Kung-san have to ability to see and tap into it at will."

"No. The Warp is not a power source." The old psyker corrected her. "It is Hell outside of physical space. But there is power in it as it is raw emotion given energetic form. I can go further into details but here's the short version. The Warp is a spiritual dimension that is influenced and sustained by mortal emotions and actions in the physical universe. Fast forward to M41 and the universe is in constant war with at least six races: Humans, Orks, Eldar, Tau, Tyranids, and Necrons. All that raw emotion creates a 'disturbance in the force' if you know what I mean. So now, we've got Daemons, Enslavers, Chaos gods and all sorts of nasty things crawling around there."

"Wait, so you're saying that we created those demons?" Ritsu asked, hoping it wasn't true.

"Some of em' yes." The old psyker answered. "The major ones like the Enslavers and Chaos gods were created by other races. One of them by the Eldar."

"Slaanesh, right?" Yui inserted.

"Yes. Did Commissar Stone teach you that?" he asked her.

Yui nodded in reply and answered, "He told us the entire history of the universe and the Imperium."

The old psyker set his cup of tea down on the table. "So the little guy made good on his word." His face scrunched up at the memory of Commissar Stone. "And now he wants me to pay up by teaching his recruit how not to kill herself with the Warp."

He shifted in his seat, still uncomfortable with the situation he was in. Losing a long time bet with the commissar was beyond his belief.

"I'm still not teaching you a thing." He dictated. "Your heart and mind is too clouded by guilt." He stood up and picked up his half empty cup and walked out the front door.

"Wait!" yelled Yui as she followed him.

But the old psyker continued walking and then set his cup on the floor. "Watch."

Just as he said that, the rest of the girls arrived outside to see what was going on. The old psyker focused his attention on the cup. He pointed his right hand at the cup and curled the rest of his fingers back, save for his index and middle finger. He emptied his mind and begun channeling a small portion of the Warp to his fingers. A tingling sensation began to surround the fingers in excitement before it became visible sparks of lightning and blue wind. It suddenly shot out and arced onto the tea inside the cup, fully vaporizing it without burning its container.

The Guardsmen marveled at what they had seen. Sawako on the other hand, was downright speechless.

The old psyker turned to Yui, his face beaming with pride. "If you can do that by the end of the day, then I'll think about it." He walked back into his house, leaving the girls with an impossible challenge.

"HE CREATED LIGHTNING?" Sawako exclaimed.

"Yeah…" Mio replied, with as much disbelief.

"Yui said she could also do that." Mugi explained. "But her lightning is less controlled."

"HUH?" Sawako exclaimed once more, still in disbelief.

Yui walked over to the cup and picked it up, her hand shivering in excitement. Her game face shone brightly as a fire of determination set place in her heart. She walked into the house and into the kitchen where she used the faucet and poured water into the cup.

As Yui walked out of the house with the full cup, Ritsu blurted out, "Is she going to do it?"

Yui set down the cup in the same place as the psyker and took a few steps back for good measure.

She pulled up her sleeves and yelled, "Yosh! I'm gonna try it!" she aimed her right hand over at the cup and flawlessly imitated her superior. The same tingling sensation flowed through her as the word 'Smite' seemed to form in her mind.

"Smite!" she yelled, allowing a whitish blue bolt of lightning to arc forth. Though it seemed to have landed on a rat near the bushes, a few feet east of the cup.

"Almost! Did you guys see that?" Ritsu exclaimed. But when she looked back to see her friends, she saw that they were several feet back. In fact it looks as if they were taking refuge behind the porch.

"Hey, why are you guys all the way back there…" she trailed off, until she realized that Yui completely missed the target and hit another living thing.

"I'm gonna try it again!" Yui exclaimed.

Ritsu quickly took cover behind Mio as Yui fired away, this time, her lightning striking the hood of Sawako's car and disabling the engine.

"NOOO! MY CAR!" Sawako yelled as she held her hair in distress. "It took me five months of dieting to save up for it!"

"Yui!" Mugi called out. "Wait for a second! Let's find a place to train for you."

"Ah, right. Let's do that." Yui answered. But then she looked at the ruined car and felt very ashamed. "Oh no! I have to replace Sawa-chan's car. Maybe my salary has enough to buy her one."

Suddenly Sawako was behind Yui, looking more menacing than a Daemon Prince. "Yuiiii…." She bellowed before strangling the life out of her. "You idiot! You costed me 5 months of Mcdonald's and soda on your Bug Zapping! Now how am I getting home?"

"I'm sowwyy Sawa-cwhan…" Yui managed to mutter.

Mugi, Mio and Ritsu managed to line up some rocks over a small log about 50 few feet from the old psyker's cabin. The three girls knelt down and took aim at the rocks.

Mio fired four shots from her laspistol before hitting one rock. It burst into several pieces that flew all over the place.

"Not bad." Sawako said as she watched them practice their marksmanship.

"That ain't good enough on the field though. You gotta make each shot count." Said the old psyker beside her.

Ritsu fired two shots and managed to hit her rock on the second.

"Say, Kung-san…what really is going on here? It's all so confusing that I don't know what's happening anymore." Sawako said to the old psyker.

He huffed out, "Well, you've heard about conspiracies and the like on the internet right?" he saw her nod so he continued. "Well the world we live in is controlled by a global one that oversees and manages the world for a higher power."

"A higher power…" Sawako muttered as the statement greased the wheels of her mind. "So you're saying something like a world government under a governor who also works under someone not from this world. It sounds like a wonderful fairytale."

"Only its real." The old psyker added. "Our world is actually one of many in the galaxy under the rule of the Imperium of Man."

"That…" Sawako was left speechless once more.

Mugi took aim at her rock and fired one shot. It hit home, exploding the rock like the others.

"Good job Mugi. You're not the sniper for nothing." Ritsu praised her companion. She then turned to Mio and said, "See Mio? Mugi showed that it can be done so now it's your turn to get a one shot, one kill."

Mio felt the veins on her head throb. "Sure, I'll just make a headshot…as if!" she glared down Ritsu and yelled, "If you really think I should do it, then show me how Ritsu! You haven't done any better at all."

"Ahhh…right…let's go see how Yui is doing." Ritsu said as she begun to shrink from Mio's wrath.

But Mio forced her to look straight and aim her gun at the next rocks lined up about 35 feet away.

"Now shoot down the next rock before I raise moral with my gun." Mio yelled out, deliberately imitating her commissar.

"Yes ma'am." Ritsu barely muttered.

Sawako sighed as she saw how well leashed Mio kept Ritsu. She faced the old psyker and said, "So this Imperium, is a powerful faction. And they have the liberty to do as they please with the planets they command. So what does that mean for Yui and the girls?"

The psyker replied, "Everything. The number one tax that each Imperial Planet must pay is Human Resource. That ranges from a labor force to levying people for its standing military—the Imperial Guard. Most of the time it's the latter so the Planetary Governor raises a Garrison Force and an Imperial Guard Regiment to send out to protect its borders from the other factions in the galaxy."

"Namely…" Sawako trailed.

"Aliens or what we call in the Guard, Xeno." The psyker told her. "They're constantly pounding on our borders and slaughtering our people like animals. Thank the Emperor, there's guys like me and Yui who can fend them off with psychic powers."

The puzzle began to fit in Sawako's mind. Whatever information he left out, she thought best not to ask knowing it would only place more grief in her heart. It was all too much to take in at once but here she was, listening in on something absolutely out of a science fiction novel only to realize how serious he was with it.

"To think there was something this incredible holding us together." Thought, Sawako.

Mio fired off three shots and managed to shoot down the rock at the 35 meter range. Then it was Mugi's turn and she consistently shot down the rock on the first hit. Ritsu was last and managed to shoot down the rock by the second shot.

"The last target is at ten yards." Mugi told them. "Relax your muscles and take a deep breath then exhale. Find the state of stillness as you exhale. Then grip the gun and squeeze the trigger." She took aim at her target and took one slow but deep breath. She exhaled as she gripped the gun a little tighter and when her entire body's rhythm stood still, she squeezed the trigger, sending a beam of red light at the rock, causing it to explode.

Ritsu aimed at her target and followed Mugi's example. She relaxed herself, took a deep breath, exhaled and fired. And like clockwork, the rock exploded. "I did it! I finally did it!"

Mio tried it but was a little off in her timing causing her to fire off as her body rhythm returned to normal. She missed so she fired a second shot and managed to hit the rock. Hanging her head in shame she said, "I knew it. Melee is my specialty. Of course it makes sense. Even in training I had the lowest scores in marksmanship. There's no point in shooting the enemy anyway when you can just get close and cut him down. They'll rush you before you can even pop a shot at them anyway."

The girls holstered their lasguns and stood up from their crouched stances.

Ritsu faced her friends and said, "Don't worry about it Mio. All it takes is practice. You'll only get better the more you do. Now let's go check up on Yui."

The group walked ahead of the shooting range and into the forest. As they did, Sawako asked of the old psyker, "I heard from the girls that you retired."

"Yep. I'm too old to fight." The old psyker quipped.

"Please tell me honestly." Her tone became more serious. "Are you going to train Yui in using her powers?"

But Liao Kung shook his head. "No. Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment. All who have become psykers tend to go insane over time or die from tapping into the warp without enough control."

"So why did you become a psyker knowing all that?" Sawako asked, anxious and dreadful at the revelation.

The old psyker avoided eye contact as he said, "Because I thought it was cool. I thought that if I could use these powers to save my boys, then the world would be a safer place. But as I got used it, I realized the dangers with it. I was tapping into a place that demons and chaos gods lived in. At any time my powers could backfire and either kill me, or everyone else. Possession and summoning daemons was just the icing on the cake. Soon enough everyone realized the dangers after my last student got possessed and summoned a legion of Daemon Princes in the middle of the base on planet Aragonitium. The entire base was wiped out. I was away at the time but I got the message from the base. I called in the Inquisition to purge the demons then perform an Exterminatus."

"What's an Exterminatus?" she asked of him.

He hung his head a little as he replied, "The wiping out of all life on the planet."

"Wha—why so extreme? It was only one base!" Sawako nearly exclaimed.

He scratched his head in shame as he said, "The thing about demons is that their influence is viral. Everyone is bound to be tainted over time. Also, other demons can feel the presence of others and are drawn to it. But for some reason, they can't enter our world unless they have a willing host and psykers are the most willing since they tend to draw power from the warp."

"So you're saying that the planet has become a beacon for them to travel to all because of one person tainted by the warp." Sawako answered.

As they walked passed several more trees, Sawako realized why this psyker retired and fully sympathized with him. "If it weren't for the fact that an entire planet was killed because of him, he'd still be in the Imperial Guard. He's filled with dread from the burden he bears." She looked at the old psyker and his black hair that showed signs of graying out. Upon seeing him, she imagined Yui walking in his place. "Does Yui really want to bear the same burden? Does she really know what it means to be a psyker?"

They neared a clearing with several felled trees and scorched earth in random places. In the middle of this clearing stood Yui, huffing and puffing as she raised her hand at the cup once more. She fired off another bolt of lightning only for it to arc to a rock about three feet north of the cup.

The girl fell to her knees, tired and frustrated. "Why isn't it working?" "I tried focusing on the cup to strike it, I tried focusing on the water, then I made a lead electron onto the water but no matter what method I tried, it keeps veering away."

But Yui didn't stop. She tried and tried, each time the lightning missing its mark. But she didn't waver and continued as the sweat poured from her face.

The old psyker saw her determination and how serious she was. He had hoped that she would've given up after a few more tries knowing it was impossible for her. But her dedication began to scratch at his heart.

"Why is it that you want to be a psyker so badly? I can tell you've seen enough to persuade you otherwise." The old psyker asked her, his voice cracking slightly in impatience.

Yui got up and faced him, her determination far from wavering. "Because there are people who need protecting. I can accept that the warp is dangerous and far from righteous. The Eldar are enough proof to show me that. But whenever I tapped into it, I realized it wasn't always this way."

The old psyker's eyes widened. He had thought that most psykers never caught on to the original warp, much less an untrained one.

Yui continued her speech. "The warp was once a place of peace and spirituality of greater purpose. It held more significance than the world could ever imagine. But people have perverted it with their sins." Her face became more solemn as she spoke the next words. "It made me sad to see a beautiful place so corrupted by the demons spawned within it. That is why the Eldar fell and the other races before it. I don't want to see any more people fall to its corruption. I still believe that all is not lost and that hope isn't the road to disappointment. We just have to have faith that our fate will have many disappointments but that we must endure and persevere past it to reach for hope."

She channeled the warp once more, raising her right hand like she did earlier. But instead of channeling lightning to her fingertips, she channeled an invisible path to the water in the cup. She then focused her feelings of determination into lightning on her fingertips. And in an instant, it flowed and arched onto the water, vaporizing it and the container.

A little bit of snow suddenly appeared on Yui's fingers. But because the girl was too exhausted from the endeavor, she dropped her hand and felt her eyelids begun to fall.

Mugi, Ritsu and Mio ran over to the tired girl carefully tending to her and laying her down on the grass. Worry filled their faces and they looked to the old psyker for direction.

Liao Kung ran over and knelt down to check on Yui. He pressed his hand on her neck and head. Upon feeling a pulse and seeing no signs of possession, he sighed in relief. "This girl really is troublesome. Let's take her back to the house. She'll wake up soon enough."

The girls nodded and promptly carried Yui back to the house after a long morning of action and suspense.

0556 HRS

June 3, Wednesday

LZ Alpha, Japan

"Operation: Meat Shield"

The orks ran forward, firing their guns at the JSDF stationed in the ditches. None of the shots landed a hit but the sheer terror may as well have killed the men. These green monsters ran through the soft dirt, stepping on the prepped landmines as they did. Red mists filled the air as each ork that stepped on the mines, died in a violent explosion. But they did not stop. No…they charged even harder.

Without warning the JSDF fired their M16s and M4s at the orks, doing their best to kill the monsters. They felled the entire first line before the second line of orks managed to get close enough to jump into the trenches.

"AHHHHH!" Yelled the hotheaded Jun as he fired at a nearby ork. "You want some? Come and get it bastards!" he yelled again as he fired at another nearby ork.

One ork managed to jump in the trench and chop in half, the guy next to the hotheaded jun. the ork raised his axe and said, "Time to die humie."

As he closed in, Jun raised his gun in fear of the seven foot monstrositiy. Suddenly, a bullet lodged itself in the orks forehead, causing the greenskin to fall dead on the floor. Jun turned and saw that it was the old man who shot the ork.

For a brief moment, the old man smiled until an ork jumped into the ditch and used his left hand to grab the old man by the head. He then used the large machete in his right and severed the head off the old man's body.

Jun lost all his nerves and climbed up the trench only for the same ork to grab his legs and toss him back on the floor. The ork laughed briefly before saying, "You're next humie. I's gonna stomp ya to lit'le bits."

The ork raised its foot up as Jun yelled in fear. But before the ork could deliver the man to hell, his temple exploded leaving a gaping hole and now, a dead ork. Jun looked at where it came from only to see a Blood Angels Marine with a smoking boltgun, now stationed behind the trench line.

"Get up and fight." The marine bellowed in an almost robotic voice. He then aimed at the orks still running towards the trench and fired at each one, felling them via headshots and well placed shots at center mass. Soon, several more marines joined in and created a strong firing line. Orks fell right and left as the Blood Angels fired round after round from their boltguns. Explosions and cries of dying orks filled the air but the monsters pressed on. Some even fired back with their makeshift bolters and autoguns. JSDF riflemen fell left and right from the gunfire.

One Ork strapped some dynamite to his body and lit each one before screaming madly as he ran to the marines. The ork leaped only to be shot down by one marine, causing him to explode.

"Where's our support?" yelled one JSDF soldier. He looked back at the frontline and fired his last shot, hitting the ork in the groin area. The ork stumbled for a while but quickly got up and began running again. The rifleman fumbled madly through his pockets to change mags but the ork got close enough and put a round into the man's head, causing it to explode into pink and red mist. The ork laughed as he got peppered with rifle fire. The green monster fell in the now growing pile of bodies in front of the trench line.

The battle grew worse as the Devastator Squad arrived at the firing line beside their fellow marines. The Heavy Boltgunners quickly fired away and felled many orks who strayed too close. The remaining orks took cover behind rocks, blown up potholes and anything they could find to hide from the heavy firepower that kept the WAAAGH in check.

With the green tide slowed to a halt, the marines with rocket launchers, Lascannons and Plasma guns fired away at the rocks, blowing both the cover and the orks behind it into dust for the earth.

The Blood Angels and the JSDF Rifle Company fired away at the scurrying orks who fired back. In two minutes the exchange of fire left the orks dead.

The riflemen could not believe they survived that. Jun himself was in awe and fear that he even lived through this horror.

The marines monotonously changed their mags and reloaded all weapons. One marine commented, "That was a good start."

"Indeed brother Kyron." Replied a Heavy Boltgunner. "Now we must face the second wave."

The JSDF who heard that paled and shook in fear. Their numbers had been whittled down to 60% strength from the first wave. Fighting a second one so soon was madness itself.

But they couldn't flee if they wanted to. The second wave had arrived from beyond the mist. Now larger orks and well armored ones marched down the mountain alongside KillaKans and heavy weapons bearing orks. Some even had makeshift flamethrowers.

From where the marines and JSDF riflemen's view, they saw an endless green tide. Behind their helmets, each marine smiled. It was a good day to fight and a good day to die.