‘Get to your positions you lazy groxsons! Do I have to do everything myself? Move your sorry backside Jacobs, right there! Could you be more in the open?! I’ve seen better camouflage on a baneblade! What part of “concealed ambush” do you not understand?’
Colonel Styr ‘Glassjaw’ Ryan was pleased with the deployment of the platoon, but he had to keep these boys in line and on their toes. They needed to know who to look for when the slugs started to fly.
The Catachan 22nd had been stuck on this rock for two years by his count. The place was so damn hot the boys had taken to calling it Vulkan. The humidity was asphyxiating and poisonous vegetation grew everywhere, leaving room for thousands of different species of nasty critters that made their situation more hellish every day. It was just like home.
Humans had lived here before, the jungles were littered with broken down settlements and the residue of imperial colonies, but whoever they were they were long gone. While the reason why they’d left was a mystery, it wasn’t hard to assume they couldn’t hack it in the jungle and had decided to take their chances elsewhere.
But the 22nd were not alone on this emperor cursed world. An Ork Rok had recently landed on the planet and the beasts had begun to infest the place. In just a few months thousands of greenskins were swarming the jungles, looting the old ruins and leaving heaps of their dead in inter-clan clashes. Ryan didn’t know why the Orks had picked this world, but he knew they couldn’t allow the situation get out of hand or before long the brainless creatures would stumble across a Catachan encampment and there would be real trouble.
The only sensible thing to do was kill them all.
Orks were never easy prey, no matter what the Imperial Primer taught. They might lack the intelligence and organisation of other species, but they made up for it with a brutal physique and keen animal cunning. Grotesquely muscled and inhumanly tough, some Orks looked fit to strangle a Space Marine, but what made them really dangerous was their insatiable love of fighting and violence. Orks lived to fight and were heedless of death on the battlefield. Ryan didn’t think a single Ork had ever died of old age – as soon as they showed weakness they would be killed and replaced by another younger, bigger and stronger Ork. Orks respected strength above all and if they every unified, the resulting Waaagh would wipe systems just for fun.
Greenskins were no strangers to Ryan and the 22nd, and were among the most deadly enemies they had faced. But they were nothing to the Eldar pirates responsible for their current situation. A group of the pirates had attacked the transport fleet of the 22nd and their support elements, forcing them to make an emergency landing on this Emperor forsaken world. Why did they risk attacking a military ship out of the blue? He didn’t know, but then the enigmatic motivations of the Eldar didn’t bear thinking about. Whatever the reason, something told him that he would find out sooner rather than later. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Orks arrived when they did.
The Catachans knew the jungles better than any Ork, and had begun a guerrilla campaign, using the environment to their advantage. The Orks knew they were there, but not where they were. The 22nd never struck twice the same way, leaving no pattern for the Orks to predict. But the Ork tide was endless. Since Ryan’s company was isolated on this deadly world every man lost was an irreplaceable asset, but the Orks multiplied by the day.
This time the 22nd had laid an ambush for a large patrol group transporting weapons between two of the larger Ork settlements. If they pulled this off they’d kill two bloodwasps with one stone, ridding the planet of greenskins and hopefully collecting some much needed explosives while they were at it. The dense jungle meant the Orks couldn’t bring their tanks and vehicles to bear, and striking from cover would leave the cowardly creatures disoriented easy targets.
Colonel Ryan was a veteran of dozens of campaigns. Even his greenest jungle fighter was the envy of any lousy general among the Astra Millitarum, Tough fearless warriors formed his ranks were there was no place for failure or cowardice.Today they were going to be put to the test again.