Death or Glory | Chapter 21 of 25 - Part: 1 of 8

Author: Sandy Mitchell | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1532 Views | Add a Review

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SEVENTEEN

NEEDLESS TO SAY, the thought was a sobering one, and we resumed our journey in a far more subdued mood.

'We can't be certain that's where they were heading,' Tayber said when we stopped for our first break. We were pulled over in a small depression in the landscape, which would have kept the wind off, but not a lot else if we'd camped here the previous night as Kolfax had originally intended, and I shuddered inwardly at the narrowness of our escape. The ork convoy couldn't possibly have missed us, and we'd have been faced with a pitched battle at the very least.

'True,' I agreed, neither of us really believing it, but determined to keep our fears at bay as best we could. There was no other obvious destination out here, but they were greenskins after all, so who knew what they might be after. For all I knew there was an encampment somewhere in the vicinity, like the one Jurgen and I had so fortuitously obliterated with our crash landing, which wasn't exactly a comforting thought, but was marginally more so than the idea that the supplies we so desperately needed were even now disappearing down a few score of greenskin gullets. I turned to Kolfax, who was loitering nearby chewing a ration bar.

Emperor preserve me, I was beginning to think he actually liked the things. 'Still no sign of any tracks?'

'None,' he assured me, with a confident nod. 'But then that's hardly surprising.' A gusty wind had been blowing for some hours, rolling successive waves of hot, thick air into my face (along with yet more of the ubiquitous dust), and I'd begun to feel as though I was being followed around by some vast, over friendly animal. 'Apart from the dust we're kicking up ourselves, there's a blow coming.'

'You mean a sandstorm?' I asked, and our guide nodded his head.

'Just a small one, should be over by dawn.' Tayber and I looked at one another, the same thought occurring to both of us simultaneously. Orks or not, unless we found shelter at the supply dump we were in serious trouble. Ariott's patients were unlikely to survive another night in the open even under reasonable conditions, and there was no telling how many of the others would succumb to the effects of bad weather too. More to the point, we needed to get the vehicles under cover. Robust they may have been, but an engine full of sand would cripple them, I had no doubt about that, and I couldn't see Felicia and her artisans being able to fix the whole fleet.

'Better get moving then,' I concluded, draining the last of my water, and beginning to trudge back to the buggy. Tayber nodded.

'Better had,' he agreed.

THE LAST COUPLE of hours before we reached our destination were almost unbearably tense, my nerves winding tighter with every kilometre, like an internal echo of the ominous grey line building moment by moment along the horizon. Kolfax observed it periodically through his amplivisor, responding to my queries with infuriatingly vague predictions like, 'It's building, all right.' So it was something of a shock when we finally crested a ridge, the truck in front of us coasted to a halt, and our guide stood up to point to something on the plain below.

'That's it,' he said, his voice slightly attenuated by the commbead. furgen pulled us up too, next to the lead vehicle, and I raised my own amplivisor. 'Looks like the greenies got here first.'

'Not quite,' I said. Our objective was plain enough, a cluster of prefabricated huts crudely camouflaged by having been half buried in the sand (unless of course the wind had taken care of that), protected in turn by a steep sided berm and a chain link fence. Tiny plumes of dust betrayed the presence of the orks who'd passed us that morning, circling the compound at speeds and ranges which both looked reckless in the extreme. Distance, and the ever-present racket of our engines, robbed the little tableau of sound, although occasional flashes of light from the hurtling vehicles and the beleaguered installation were enough to confirm that some kind of battle was going on. 'Someone's defending it.'

'Any idea who?' Tayber asked, cutting in. 'They could just be squabbling over the loot.'

'It doesn't matter,' I said. 'Whoever it is, we're going in.' I glanced back at the ramshackle convoy behind me. 'Disembark the civilians, and tell them to find whatever shelter they can. We'll be back for them later.' I hoped. And if we weren't, they'd definitely have a better chance of survival on foot than riding into a firewasps' nest with us.

At that thought, I paused to consider the wisdom of my order, but I really couldn't see another choice. Moving on to the next supply dump was out of the question. We didn't have enough fuel to get there, even if by some miracle the approaching sandstorm didn't disable our transport first. Our only chance was to drive off the orks and hope that whoever was defending the installation below us would turn out to be on our side. Ignoring the chill of apprehension, which seemed to have settled in the pit of my stomach, I continued to lay out our strategy.

'Once we're over the ridge,' I said, 'Head straight for the main mass of the enemy. Engage at will.' In other words, use their own tactics against them, and hope they were too surprised to respond, at least until we'd taken a few of them out. 'Don't fire until we're right on top of them. With any luck they'll think we're reinforcements until it's too late.' Not exactly the soundest of plans, but no one had any better ideas, or objections (apart from a few of the civilians who seemed less than thrilled at the prospect of being abandoned in the middle of nowhere, but responded well to reason and the threat of execution), so against my better judgement I waved our ad hoc attack force forward and ordered the charge.

Truth to tell, the experience was unexpectedly exhilarating. As we accelerated down the slope, raising a huge cloud of dust as we did so, I distinctly heard several of our militia recruits whooping like greenskins themselves, even over the racket of the engines.

I felt a faint flutter of trepidation as I registered the banner of flying grit we were trailing in our wake, which pretty much ruled out any element of surprise we might otherwise have retained. I just had to hope it would even the balance a little by cloaking our identities until we were ready to strike. There was no time to worry about that, though, the greenskins were getting closer by the second, and I voxed the others with a last-minute warning.

'Hold your fire until you're sure of a target,' I reminded them. 'And make it count. We'll only get one chance at this, and if we frak it up things will get messy.' I was rewarded with a chorus of assent and took up my station at the heavy bolter, trying to

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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