Glaucas couldn’t decide if he was annoyed or bored. Null was chasing the Flower Eaters, the Hibernians were holed up in their fieldworks, and Sarpedon was off playing a game of cat and mouse with the Necrons, leaving the sixth company to hold the rear. Adding the unrelenting night and he was considering asking Specialist Kenner over for a date, and calling in an orbital bombardment for entertainment. Couldn’t the Emperor have made him know no boredom? Knowing no fear was handy, but when it all came down to it you spent a lot more time being bored. Shaking his head he cursed this impious thought under his breath, and made the sign of the Golden Throne. Time to get back to business. Bored didn’t mean slack, not in the Red Guard, and he watched as one of the Faithful updated the positions of the scouts on the sand table.

Then one of the comm operators spoke, ‘Listening Post 32 reports contacts, holding to confirm location and identity.”

A contact marker was added to the sand table, and Glaucas leaned forward, hope building in his hearts. “Send for the Prior,” he said quietly to Archeus, his Primus Pilus.

“Listening Post 32 reports contacts are Orks, estimates 100 plus, including several vehicles, heading for the Dry River basin at approximately 50 kilometers per hour.”

Glaucas’ heart soared, and he quickly analyzed the positions of his scouts. “Send to Sergeant Pyne: to rendezvous with us at grid co-ordinates 32.12.14 by 45.18.16, repeat current situation to him.” He grabbed his helmet from his armour stand and shouted as he ran out of the tent, “Repeat updates to my transponder.”

He nearly ran into Prior Sixtus and Archeus, “Orks are on the approach, I want everyone mounted up and moving in five minutes. Holy Emperor willing, we can catch them in the Basin before they press the Hibernian positions.”

Sixtus and Archeus only nodded, and all three split up to form the company. Little effort was needed. His brother had been at their devotions, and were filling the company square in response to the calls over their helmet radios when he arrived. The Rhinos and Razorbacks were belching smoke into the thin air as their engines turned over, a testament to the faithful adherence of their crews. “Brothers, a foul band of Orks would attack us, let us meet them and give them the gift of the Emperor’s cleansing fire!”

They cheered, and mounted their transports. In a plume of dust they roared away one after the other. As they advanced reports continued to pour in from the Faithful secreted in their listening posts. The Orks were advancing on both sides of the dry river, unaware that they had been detected despite the cover of the months long night.

A plan developed and the company moved with bone-jarring speed over the rock strewn plains, and was implemented as they reached Glaucas’ chosen ground. Tarantulas were strewn among the boulders, their guns pointed in the direction of the advancing Orks, their machine spirits activated with a prayer by Brother Knollon, their Techmarine. The brothers took up positions among the rocks, guns at the ready, and the transports found what cover they could in the open ground.

Sergeant Pyne joined them soon afterward, his squad showing no sign they had just run over 20 kilometers in the last hour. “Everyone is in position,” Archeus reported, and Glaucas smiled. “Send out the landspeeders to lure them in.” The words had barely left his lips when the landspeeders darted into the darkness, eager hounds searching for their prey.

Brother Coombe, the squadron commander, reported their progress with clinical precision. “Approaching reported precisions.. Contact… commence firing.” The hammer of the speeders heavy bolters added additional punctuation to the messages that followed, “Drawing off…”

Glaucas held his breath. Would the Orks take the bait?

“Enemy pursuing. Don’t let them lose you brothers.”

His lungs emptied with a great sigh. He shouldn’t have worried, of course the Orks would follow, their eagerness made them predictable. Nor did he have to wait long. The speeders roared overhead cutting a wide arc to take up their appointed position on the left flank. This was where Glaucas would press the assault, his right was weak, his command rhino, a couple of squads and two razorbacks to draw the Orks attention.

The first sign of the Orks approach was the sound of the Tarantula’s fire, their heavy bolters hammering into the approaching horde. “Advance to first positions and open fire,” he called, and the Rhino lurched ahead. Taking the searchlight in hand he peered into the darkness. With his improved vision he could make out a giant Ork tank in the darkness, and turning the spotlight on it he could see its rudely welded and riveted plates. It immediately attracted shots from the lascannons he had posted to the rear, and the tank lurched to a halt as one of its guns was shorn off, and the Orks aboard piled out, clearly afraid their ride was about to blow. Another shot proved them right, and a brilliant explosion lit the night.

But the real firing was on the left. Second squad’s Rhino tore ahead, illuminating a horde of Orks charging over the rocks. Caught in the glare they seem to halt, mesermized, as heavy bolter rounds tore them off their feet one after the other. Another similar horde was torn apart by the Tarantula’s fire, and the landspeeders combined their fire to tear apart another squad taking up a position on a small hill. With howls of fear and surprise that could be heard over the roar of the guns and engines, the Orks on the left turned and fled.

Their right continued to press in, but without support it was almost an anticlimax. Unopposed his brothers tore across the field from left to right, swarming over a truck that tore to meet them, killing the crew and passengers before they could even disembark. Brother Kindle poured his flamer over the disembarked Orks from another truck, then charged with a shout. He was cut down by the Orks axes and clubs, but his sacrifice bought time for the rest of the company to reposition, and open fire. This was the proverbial straw, and the remainder of the Orks, howling in dismay, fled in terror. They were illuminated by the columns of flame pouring from their destroyed vehicles; more falling under his brother’s guns before they could disappear in the darkness.

“Cease fire, Brother Coombes, see that they go back from whence they came. Brothers,” he said to the rest, “burn the bodies. I don’t want any more of the bastards sprouting up here.”

They moved silently to the task, and more gouts of flame lit the night. Sixtus came over and smiled, “The Emperor has granted us a great victory.”

Glaucas nodded, “His hand guides us.”

“Their Warboss was among the first to run, hopefully his fear will infect the rest.”

Glaucas smiled, “If not, we’ll give them a taste of it to…”

Korvus 15:59, 9 February 2008 (UTC) Nicholas Cioran