Advent of Salvation Part 4

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Advent of Salvation Part 4

Postby Dweese » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:49 pm

Had Lord General Montoya reviewed and commented on the, admittedly off the cuff, plans that Sister Superior Adventia had made to break out the trapped regiment in Adowa he would have approved. If there was one thing that Montoya admired in any commander was his or her ability to conduct any kind of operation in as rapid and hastily a manner as possible. This meant that his or her unit was flexible, a must, and well trained, another must. Speed, Montoya and many of the other Guard commanders throughout history who earned the rare appellation of a great commander believed, was the most essential element in warfare. Especially mobile warfare. It didn’t matter how good your plans were or well-equipped your troops were or how lavishly supplied. If they were slow, they lost half the battle before the first shot was even fired. And from what Captain Odili could tell, clinging tightly to the quad barreled flak turret on a Sororitas Rhino, Sister Superior Adventia was a speed demon indeed.
The column of armored vehicles, with the carapace power armored women soldiers of the Ecclisiarchy riding on top, their bolters, plasma rifles, and melta guns all sweeping their field of vision at all times, tore across the highway. As a line officer Odili was atop one of the Rhino’s, and felt rather honored that he was riding on the same Rhino as Sister Superior Adventia. He glanced around him, making sure that he had a firm grip on his lascarbine with one hand while with the other he ensured that he wouldn’t topple from the top of the practically streaking Rhino. He spotted Otunga atop of the Rhino directly behind his and the two men shared a look of admiration t the way that the Sororitas went about their deadly business.
At first Odili was paranoid that the incredible roar of the revving engines on the Rhino’s and the continual squeaking and squealing of the drive sprockets on the tracks would alert the Emperor himself off of the Golden Throne let alone the rebels. However, they had no such troubles. With a grin Odili realized after the second group of rebel troops they passed on the road to Adowa that they were mistaken for a column of their own troops. As the cheers of the rebel troops echoed off into the distance, Odili’s heart began to still its thumping beat of anxiety and his mind began to ease. They just might make it after all.
Looking over to his left he saw the armored from of Adventia, her shoulder length hair trailing and flying in the speed induced breeze. She saw him looking at him and she leaned in closer to be heard over the noise of the Rhino and the roar of the passing wind.
“If it wasn’t for the darkness we’d be spotted for who we are right away. We got lucky Captain, night has blessed us. Still you look slightly troubled.” She all but shouted into his face to be heard.
Grinning sheepishly he gestured with his chin to a rapidly approaching battery of rebel of artillery which Adventia merely glanced at and then looked back at him with a look of dis concern.
“That, Sister Adventia, is why I look troubled. At some point aren’t we going to be discovered for what we really are? If we have to slow for anything, body armor or not, you’ll all be spotted as women and truth be told the rebels don’t have the capacity to make body armor like yours. You’ll be identified as the other and targeted immediately.” Adventia shrugged.
“Simple. We don’t slow down.” His eyes widened ever so slightly.
“What if we encounter a roadblock?” He asked. She smiled.
“We plow through it and kill anyone foolish enough to stand in our path. Besides Captain, eventually we’ll have to reveal ourselves when we engage the enemy surrounding our trapped compatriots. I trust you won’t be troubled by my decision to open fire at that point in time will you?” Odili was about to respond when he realized he was being teased. He barked a laugh and shook his head.
“No, Sister, not a chance. I am not afraid for my own life, rather I am afraid for the lives of my troopers in my company, and for the lives of you and your Sisters.” He replied.
Adventia nodded and gave him a half smile.
“As for me and my friends Captain I would not let your heart be troubled. Death is a part of our duty: both in dispensing it and embracing it. As for your troopers I trust that you will look to them the same as you did for your squad.” He nodded his thanks and she made to turn away but then hesitated and leaned in close again.
“I trust you will not begrudge my decision to demolish your farmstead when we pulled out. I considered the existence of the buildings to be of use to the enemy and I wished to deny them that. For the loss of your home I am sorry.”
He was silent for a moment, then gave her a weak smile and shrugged.
“The price of war I suppose. Hell, if the rebels win though I doubt I’d have much of a home to return to regardless. I am just glad my daughters are safely in Obrias City.” He said. Adventia slapped him comradely on the shoulder and gave him a nod of respect before turning away to converse tersely with the gunner operating the flak turret.
Odili had to admit that the loss of his farmstead actually stung far worse than he was letting on. But then again such was the cost of war. He agreed with Adventia’s decision, though seeing the flames lick the walls of his home and spread through to the outbuildings he felt a link to his past, and the wife who had died in childbirth several years prior, be consumed with the pyro charges. Sighing he looked back out to the landscape sweeping by and gazed over the sights of the war that had been consuming his world for half of a year.
A tank, kicked over into the ditch by the side of the highway by a rebel or loyalist road clearing crew, he could not be sure, smoldered just off to his right. He heard the tracks crush a torn and twisted piece of armor which had been blown off the tank as they ran over the spot where the tank had been hit. The roadway where the tank had been sitting was scorched a blackened hue and small bits of debris still littered the highway from the vehicles death. Farther on a clump of bodies, whose he could not tell, lay sprawled along the edge of a wood lot obviously cut down as they were trying to reach the safety of the trees. A line of trucks, some of them burned out hulks, others bullet and bolter round riddled carcasses passed by to his left. He managed to catch a brief glimpse of the driver of one, dead, slumped over the steering wheel. The driver’s corpse illuminated by a distant artillery barrage whose gun flashes reflected off the low hanging clouds. An anti-tank gun, pointed down the road at their approaching column stood a silent, mournful vigil. Its crew law piled behind the mantlet of the gun, shot dead by either lasrifles or autoguns. The truck that pulled the gun and housed the crew lay on its side in the ditch to the right of the road, the ammunition carried by the truck gone, obviously looted and stolen by the rebels. Benjen hoped that the gun had done at least some damage before its crew was slaughtered in its use. But he doubted they had been so lucky.
A swelling point of anger; fiery, dark rage, began to fill his heart. Time after time, how many times Oh Emperor! Battle after battle, retreat after retreat the scenes were always the same. Smashed and burning vehicles and broken, bleeding and dying men and women, more often than not the majority of them loyalist.
When will it be our turn to fire into the fleeing backs of our enemies, when will we, finally, be able to lay claim to a battlefield and know that we had defeated the enemy? Too many times I have witnessed defeats, he thought, and seen my comrades die or be taken prisoner by those who less than a year before I once counted as neighbors. And now all they’ve done is kick our asses almost clear across the planet. No more, he raged inwardly, tonight we get a piece of payback. A small deposit on the bill you owe us, and we damn well intend to collect.
A bright flash and crashing roar of a discharging artillery piece broke him from his reverie. Sister Superior Adventia raised a fist into the air and he watched as all the Sisters of Battle tightened their grips on their weapons and raised them to the ready status.
As Benjen shifted slightly in order to maintain a good grip on his lascarbine he watched as the city of Adowa, burning brightly, the fires casting dancing reflections off of the low hanging clouds, the towers of smoke billowing into the night sky from torched vehicles and flame wracked buildings added to the denseness of the nights darkness. He could hear the echoing roar of the fire of artillery and tank cannon, the thumping of auto-cannons, the shriek of lasrifles and melta guns, and the barking rattle of heavy bolters and the chatter of autoguns. Through the martial cacophony, he was convinced he could even hear, carried upon the midnight breeze, the cries and shouts of desperate people engaged in mortal combat.
“All right people, LIGHT EM UP!” Adventia shouted as she pulled the trigger on her bolter rifle, sending a three round burst of mass reactive rounds straight into one of the loaders hauling up a massive and heavy shell to be placed into the breach of the self-propelled, open toped artillery vehicle. The rounds detonated upon impact with any kind of solid matter, and both the loader and the shell went up in the explosion. The first puffed outwards in a pinkish, tattered mess of violently torn open organic matter and misted blood while the second exploded in a bright and violent flash of released energy. The explosion killed the crew serving the gun and tossed the forward section of the artillery piece onto the driver’s compartment, crushing him inside the cupola.
Benjen gripped tighter till his hands began to numb as the quad flak cannon rotated to the left, the Sisters near the barrels deftly ducking and hugging the upward deck of the Rhino, and poured fire into a group of parked and idling Chimera troop transports. The flak rounds, chugging out of the quad barrels, tore chunks of armor and internal compartments out of the transports, scattering them in sparkling flecks all over the pavement and smashing the crew inside. One Chimera, its internal ammunition supply for the mortar it had been rigged to fire out of its top compartment blew, tearing apart the vehicle and the mortar crew in an expanding ball of flame and outward shrieking metallic shrapnel.
An entire companies worth of Chimera’s were, within a few moments, turned to flaming wrecks or pierced and dead hunks of useless metal. The infantry who had been riding the vehicles, forming up for a skirmish line advance into the heart of the bleeding city, were cut to pieces by the steady and remorseless aim of the Sororitas who calmly and expertly cut down nearly the entire company as the column of speeding Rhino APC’s tore through their ranks. Bodies of rebel troopers were kicked backwards, torn open and bleeding profusely from the mass reactive bolter shells or tossed around like rag dolls as grenade launchers pumped out grenade after grenade. Benjen fired a few rounds into the confused and milling mass, not certain if he hit anyone or not but largely not caring, too awed by the awesome scene of devastation he was witnessing the Sororitas, the daughters of the Emperor and the Church’s warrior nuns, wreak upon their mutual enemies.
He ducked involuntarily as the turret swung to the right and fired almost above his head, spent shell casings tumbling down around him and bouncing off the outer hull of the Rhino to clatter upon the ground in a sing song note of rebounding brass. An autocannon mounted on one of the Rhino’s thumped out a steady, bass, repeating note and buildings began to burst from the inside as the auto-cannon shells sought out the rebel troopers who had taken refuge inside of the structures, never for once concerned that they would have to worry about an attack coming from behind them.
There was, as yet, no return fire. The totality of the surprise with which the Sororitas led column had achieved was still carrying them through into the heart of the city.
Block after block, city acre after city acre, the column tore through blasting, shooting, savaging and terrorizing anything that stood in their path either intentionally or not. The main highway, the Obrias City Highway or OC 1 as it was called, cut through the center of the city and led right to the bridges over the east bank of the Jarmuk River. For the trapped survivors of the 10th Obrias City Rifles the highway, and the rushing column of Sororitas armor, was to be the messenger of salvation. For the rebels who heretofore had been besieging the 10th, it was the very harbinger of their deaths.
The sounds of battle rose to a crescendo and Benjen knew that they were nearing the heart of the city. The buildings stood taller here and Benjen could make out the Gothic outlines of the governmental buildings, some of whom were on fire or pockmarked with the damage of the battle raging around them. It was only now that the column slowed and Benjen heard over his helmets vox Adventia establish contact with the 10th Obrias City Rifles.
“This is Sister Superior Adventia of the Adepta Sororitas, we are proceeding with an armored column into the heart of Adowa coming from the west. We are carrying a full company of Sororitas as well as the survivors of the 18th Obrian loyalist regiment. We are here to break you out of the trap you have found yourselves in.” A moment of static and then a harried and near panicked voice responded over the vox.
“Oh thank the Emperor! How soon will you arrive?” The male voice practically shrieked over the vox, clearly upon the verge of giving way to his anxiety.
“Momentarily, with whom am I speaking?” Adventia’s strong and calm voice responded.
“Major Koula Anobi my Lady.”
“Where are you located Major?” Adventia asked, pausing only briefly afterwards to send a bolter round into the confused form of a sniper who peeped over the roof of a market to determined what manner of vehicles were trundling up beneath his perch.
“Within the mayoral offices along with Commissar Kurn and what is left of the command platoon. The regiments shot to pieces, please tell me you can get us out of here!” He shouted, his voice back dropped by the sound of muffled explosions, the shrieking of lasrifles and the chatter of an autogun near the vox unit. Adventia frowned at the vox unit installed within the collar of her body armor and she quirked an eyebrow in irritation. Clearly she was not a woman who enjoyed dealing with those about to lose their sanity.
“Remain calm Major. What I need from you is to begin organizing your own mechanized and mobile units, if you have none then we can help you steal some from the foe. You will organize what you have available and you will begin to load up your survivors, we will form an armored ring around you and do what we can to break up the enemy surrounding you. Can you do this Major?” Her calm and her nerve began to seep over the vox net and into Major Anobi whose reply came much more calmly though he his voice still shook.
“Yes my Lady, I’ll get right on that.” His shouted orders cut off in mid-stream as the vox connection was severed by Adventia who then voxed to the column to regain speed.
One moment the rebel troopers were pressing their assault against the pockets of resistance contained within the governmental district of Adowa, the next they were being run down by an armored column bearing beautiful yet horribly deadly women wearing black and red power armor.
Benjen raised his lascarbine to allow him to use the sights and he put a round through the torso of a surprised sergeant who toppled slowly, clutching his abdomen as he fell. Benjen raised his aim and shot through another man’s autogun, the las round exploding the ammo inside the autoguns magazine which in turn blew off the man’s hands. Benjen didn’t bother with looking to see how the man continued to fare after his body made contact with the pavement, there was simply too much going on around him. Scenes of conflict and devastation whirled on by his line of vision as the armored column slew around, separating into two separate parts, blazing all around them from the Sororitas mounted on top as well as from the turrets mounted to every vehicle. A rebel tank was hit in the rear of its turret by a missile from one of the missile launcher turrets, and the tanks turret came apart in a massive, rending explosion scattering the troopers who had been using the vehicle as cover.
As the column divided Benjen saw that they began to shield both the front and rear of the governmental district and Benjen could see movement from within the grounds held by the loyalist 10th as it seemed Major Anobi had been able to begin to co-ordinate a mechanized pullout. When the column was in its assigned position their Rhino’s swung to a halt and Benjen cursed loudly as he nearly was pitched off the vehicle, feeling only slightly better when he heard a feminine voice behind him do the same. And then Adventia leaped off the top of the vehicle and shouted to her sisters: “FOR THE EMPEROR!”
With a high cry the Sisters of Battle cascaded off the top of the Rhino’s and poured into the stunned and bewildered rebel troopers. Benjen himself dropped to the ground and nodded in recognition to Major Otunga who dropped from the vehicle next to his. At that moment the rear ramps dropped down and the 18th Obrian raced out of the rear of the Rhino’s, forming line and pitching into the now thoroughly discomfited rebels.
“Follow me!” Benjen shouted as he took the troopers from his Rhino and led them in an assault to the rear, to clear the few rebels who had managed to work their way onto the grounds of the mayoral building and into the first two floors of the Gothic structure. The snap and pop of las discharges sounded from his trotting troopers and Benjen saw several of the enemy, caught from behind, pitch forward or flop to the ground. A few of the rebels turned to return fire, but several were caught from shots delivered from the upper stories of the mayoral building. Still a volley of return fire dropped two of his troopers and Benjen snarled in fury as he sprinted full tilt towards a rebel fumbling with the magazine of an autogun. The rebel managed to slap the magazine home but not before Benjen bulled into him, sending the surprised enemy trooper sprawling into the concrete holding pot of a massive, ornate bed of flowers. The rebel’s body bounced off the fixture with a meaty whack and Benjen lashed the butt of his lascarbine downwards with a snarl of vengeance as the man slid down off the concrete fixture. Benjen’s lascarbine smashed into the man’s face and took him out of the war.
“Captain! Grounds are clear of enemy forces, we’ve established contact with the 10th inside and we’re forming a cordon of control.” One of his sergeants voxed him.
“Fine job! Ensure that they’re loading up outside in the back and form a defensive ring around the building, first squad rally on my position and follow me back to assist the Sororitas!” Benjen voxed back.
Benjen only had to wait a brief minute for first squad to rally to him. Waving them to follow he jogged out towards where the Rhino’s had formed a defensive half circle, their turrets still spitting forth death and destruction to the now very thinned rebel forces. As he and first squad raced past the Rhino they had rode up in, Benjen glanced down at the prostrate form of a badly wounded Sororitas. His eyes fell over her and her eyes met his briefly, her red hair caked to the side of her face with blood from a head wound. She waved him on as she saw him hesitate and he marveled at her strength. One of his troopers fired from the run at a target to their front and Benjen saw a rebel trooper scurry into an outbuilding from the back of what was surely once a fine restaurant. Benjen looked on in pride as they jogged by as one of his troopers unhooked a grenade, armed it and calmly tossed it into the outbuilding, the explosion sounding behind them as well as the screams of the trapped rebel inside.
He knew he would never for the rest of his days, Emperor willing they’d be long ones, this moment. A rare moment of sweet, sweet triumph and righteous vengeance against a hated yet admirable foe.
As they turned the corner of a pockmarked and blasted market situated across from the restaurant Benjen saw the Sororitas and more importantly Sister Superior Adventia and the devastation they were wreaking.
The crumpled bodies of dead rebel troopers lay dotted all over the area, the squirming, thrashing bodies of their wounded lay just as thick over the ground, and Benjen gratefully saw only two wounded Sororitas, both being helped by the accompanying Hospitalers. His squad jogged up and formed a defensive cordon around the four Sisters, two militant both of whom were severely wounded and the two Hospitalers. Sister Mercy Nakamura spotted Benjen out of the corner of her eye and nodded her thanks before bending down to administer to the wounded woman lying at her feet.
As Benjen kneeled, the rest of his troopers copying his movements, their weapons held at the ready, his eyes fell upon the glorious form of Adventia. Yet, he swiftly noticed, he was no longer sure he could describe her as glorious. Terrible was the word that came to mind.
Shrieking in a wordless rage Adventia, her bolter rifle now mag locked to her backpack, lay about with her power sword, slicing, sweeping and arcing her cuts through the rebel troopers she was chasing down. Blood spilled down the front of her body armor and pooled by her feet and it was made all the more horrible as Benjen knew that the blood was not hers. Her once stunning appearance was marred by the splatter of gore and her hair was matted to the top of her head by the fluid of life that poured forth from her rended enemies. Benjen peered deeper, squinting to take in the details and what he saw caught his breath in his throat with a hitch.
Taking one final upward stroke with her sword she lopped the head off of a fleeing rebel Lieutenant, the rebel’s headless corpse stumbling down to the ground and Adventia’s wordless howl of rage echoed off the walls of the buildings surrounding her. As she allowed the momentum of her swing to span her around she came to meet eyes with Benjen and it was in those eyes, those exotic and beautiful eyes, that Benjen saw the very wellspring of hatred and sorrow. And coursing down her cheeks, creating two neat tracks of clean, alabaster skin, washing away the blood of her foes, were her anguished and rage fuelled tears. Once a measure of glorious martial beauty, Benjen saw the inner person of Adventia, and witnessed the very avatar of the angle of death.
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