You are a soldier in the Imperial Guard. You stand with billions of others in the greatest army that has ever existed, bathed by the brilliant light of the Golden Throne with a chance of immortality that is the gift of a glorious death. It is the highest honour to fight in these same illustrious ranks which have produced some of the most exulted heroes the Imperium has ever known. Your responsibility, and that of your comrades, is to help ensure that our magnificent Imperium is defended from its enemies. You will smite our foes wherever you find them, with the fervent passion and fury of these heroes of the past…
Wherever you are sent, be assured that the Emperor’s Holy work will be waiting for you. You will see things that few will be asked to bear witness to, and you will have to face your worst fears. But face them you must, with strength, fortitude, and valour; for it is on these qualities that the Imperial Guard is built. But rest assured, there will be a commissar behind you to ensure your faith remains constant.
Put your trust in the Immortal Emperor and He will watch over you… Go forth and ensure our prosperity. Fight with pride and fervour, for it is better to die for a purpose than live without reason.
The Immortal Emperor watches over you. He will judge you with unflinching eyes.
--Lord General Militant Huxlow, forward, Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer (Damocles Edition)
|Viktor "Doc" Zane|
Skrynne System Inbound, Imperial Troop Shuttle Spina
See the guardsmen; soldiers of a penal legion from a ravaged world. Each cradles a weapon while strapped to a crash seat inside a windowless shuttle bay. Overhead cabin lights cast an eerie red glow, illuminating row upon row of troops like penitents in some macabre, hellish church. The roar of shuttle engines deafens, precluding verbal communication save through shouting. This is done by a few Commissars who use ceiling handholds to make their way through the shuttle compartment, issuing reminders that now is the time for silent devotions and recitations to the God-Emperor of mankind and that they are extensions of his will.
These are the guardsmen of F Company, numbering some 150 including support personnel, from the 4th Oremor Penal Reconnaissance Regiment. Mostly reformed prisoners and indentured laborers of a jungle planet, a high-ranking Munitorum official once described the unit derisively as “a bunch of Swamp Rats.” The 4th took the insult and adopted it as a badge of honor. Flak vests are common, although a sprinkling of troopers wear carapace. Kits in rucksacks are stowed in overhead compartments while beneath seats lie additional bulky gear such as vox-sets or partially disassembled heavy weapons. The group’s motorized equipment, consisting of several Chimera Armored Transports and Sentinel Scout Walkers, is berthed in a separate bay to the fore. Another like-sized unit, Company D, rides in the shuttle’s other infantry deck just above this one.
Generally speaking the soldiers are glad to have escaped a two-week journey through the warp and its strange phenomenon: ubiquitous agitation, weird dreams, and a haunting sense of dread. The commissariat squelched rumors that some exhibited physical manifestations of taint, although no explanation was given for the two executions of the crossing. Medicae corpsmen treated wounds incurred from various brawls and drugged those showing hyper-aggression or preoccupation with suicide. The company met real-space with relief and prayers of thanksgiving.
Knowledge of their destination tempers some feelings of elation: the planet Skrynne, a colonial death-world of the Spinward Front. A terse, regiment-wide briefing revealed that the colonial world faced incursion. A prominent Waaaugh! War-Boss named Grimmsnikk Tufgob brought war to Skrynne some seven years ago. Since then the 4th Brontian Longknives Light Infantry Regiment, along with decimated planetary forces, has ground out a brutal stalemate with the Greenskins. Scuttlebutt says Company F is being sent to a remote Imperial position near the front but none of the enlisted knows for sure.
The Oremites take heart in one piece of news: although categorized a death-planet, Skrynne’s eco-system includes substantial rain forests and jungle terrain, much like their pre-cataclysm homeworld. Walking amongst dense, lush landscapes seems appealing despite any potential indigenous or xeno dangers, especially compared to the metal, coffin-shaped vessel in which they now travel. Each guardsman is now alone in his thoughts, bathed in an inferno-like glow, strapped to his crash-seat, hearing constant engine bellow. As members of the greatest fighting force in the known galaxy, each soldier knows that his future is Only War!
I am glad the trip is almost over. Looking forward to getting away from this cramped can back into the jungles. Even though they will be on alien soil. It will be a respite compared to dealing with my fellow guardsmen on a constant basis. Some people just don't get it when someone just wants to be left alone.
|Viktor "Doc" Zane|
I keep my eyes closed even though it enhances the sensation of the swaying and grinding sounds of re-entry. I dont know why but I have never liked the way it makes me feel.
As the buzzer lets us know that we are close my eyes snap open and look across the way at Gerr and "Petunia" my heavy stubber. Gerr smiles back at me with the knowing smile and nods his readiness.
Holding a tabbac while still seated looking at the rest of the men around him slowly and finally set my eyes on a well familiar face "Hold tight and don't clench you teeth to tight... you might break'm" on another hand his ugly mug couldn't get any better and it's not like it would do him any bad if it got worse.
Once the buzzer sounds he puts his tabbac away and gives "The Emperor protects" sounding more as a plead than anything else as he holds on even with his butt chicks and the sole of his boots to the seat "Just give me back my g d*#n babies, I hate flying..." as he looks around really quick just to see who is going to be the fesso that is going to need medical attention at landing "Emperor I will drive whatever stronzo you give me down whatever hellhole you require... just get me out this flying stronozo suddenly opening his eyes "Damn it!!! G&& D+$N IT!!! I'm starting to sound like the rest of these guys..."
|Commissar Hieronymus Vex|
Lark hangs limp in his harness rocking from side to side as the dropship thunders through the atmosphere. Clutched tight to his chest in a loving embrace is his favored plasma gun, right hand resting on it's stock while his left wraps protectively around the barrel. However his eyes are shut and his mouth bears a hard wired sardonic smirk as he slumbers through the descent.
His left hand man is mumbling to himself with eyes closed and hands white of knuckle as he grips his harness.
|Commissar Hieronymus Vex|
Edwin snaps to full wakefulness as the commissar beside him begins to move and stretch. Pushing the last vestiges of a particularly enjoyable daydream to the back of his mind, he does a quick mental check of his gear before tapping out a lho-stick and lighting it. Letting the familiar tang of lho smoke obscure the stench of a company's worth of unwashed Oremorites, he thinks to himself:
Say what you will about fecking blue-bloods, at least they bathe.
I stand to attention, but don't scramble like a new recruit. I hold my weapon out for inspection. Not giving a swamp rats tail what the Commissar thinks. I am not here to win parade ribbons, but to kill. Like any master proud of his trade. I know my tool is clean and ready.
Any and all final adjustments will be done planet side. Adjusting the scope for glare, atmospherics, wind. And of course my ghillie suit once I can take a look at the local flora.
I wonder if the scuttle butt is true. That is takes more than one round to the head to kill and Ork. I know I will put that rumor to the test.
"For the Emperor... I wish I had a bigger foot to put on his big mouth" as he looks at himself still seated and holding for dear life until they hit the ground "I guess I can still raise my arm and salute the man... for an instant... I hate flying and specially warp traveling..." Anselm presents arms after a few seconds and it probably lasts even less as he goes back to his position of holding with all he has before they land.
Seeing the commissar rise from the seat adjacent to his own at the fore of the craft, Sergeant Mire concludes that he can no longer postpone the inevitable. Dutifully getting to his feet, he rubs his weathered face vigorously in two calloused hands to get his circulation flowing (no sense looking like the walking dead, he muses, we've seen just about enough of that...) while his back is still to his squad, and follows the political officer down the ranks of Oremite guardsmen hoping to temper the feisty Vex's rhetoric with his own quiet calm.
He looks purposefully into the faces of each member of the squad---his men---and sees such a disparate range of emotions that it is at once jarring and comfortingly familiar all at the same time.
Scopes' quiet intensity, like a coiled spring, but a rusty one, with enough jagged edges to rip out the eye of whomever peers at it too long.
The Doc, grinning amiably as he looks around at some of the men he more than likely will be soon stitching back together from their component parts.
Stoic Dol, eyes tightly closed in anxious anticipation of planetfall, a grimace of discomfort plain on his face. At least he didn't blow his rations during this descent, that's a plus. Then Mire sees him glance over at Gerr and the lovely Petunia, fastened on the ready rack, and he knows that when the killing starts, there will be none more eager to dole it out.
Peering over at Anselm, he inwardly curses, willing the tabacc to be out of his hands before the commissar gets closer, the operator's half-crazed eyes flicking to where his babies are berthed in the fore-bay. Soon, Ans, soon, don't lose it here and now.
The sergeant then eyes the commissar, Hieronymous Vex, with trepidation as he draws closer to Anselm and Hathin De'Lark, grateful that the tabacc slips deftly back into the sleeve of the former's uniform. Mire can't help but hold his breath as Vex coldly looks the brutish heavy weapon's trooper up and down, noting his smug look, but not finding anything amiss about his uniform, kit, or person. Thank the Wardens-That-Went-Before for small favors.
The Storm Trooper, Drususon, (say one thing for the golden-boy, he has the right moniker; all starch, honor, and arrogance) follows close behind his charge, but it is not until he sniffs the air that his ever-present contempt makes itself known. Mire meets his eyes at the same time he does it, giving his coldest, most impassive glare...enjoy your smug superiority now, schola-kid, you haven't waded through half the death and filth the Oremor 4th have, but you'll know soon enough, that you will...
He glances back at his adjutant Murjoff, following attentively just behind, and they share a short, fleeting look that conveys a depth of understanding that speaks volumes; of the trials, horrors, and loss that Company F have shared and endured together.
Travails that they will soon enough have the misfortune of facing again, come what may on Skrynne.
Sgt. Mire laughs the hollow laugh of one whose eyes have looked into the worst the Throne-cursed universe has to offer, and walked away alive.
Time to rally the troops, whether you feel it or not...
Even he is surprised by the confidence and bravado his voice still manages to convey, so long after such things proved worthless to him, and the few hollow-eyed survivors from Unduz II.
"Men of the Fourth, who among you are ready to reap some Greenskins!!!"
Hathin shows but a small flicker of recognition that the Commissar has spoken... before returning to getting what sleep he can. The white-knuckled lad beside him's eyes snap open and he swears "Feck!" fevered eyes turning to Hathin beside him and starting to drive a sharp edged elbow into his ribs "Come on Lark, no point pissing off the brass this early aye?"
Grumbling as he rouses in his harness languidly "Oca! Book, best you stop that before I start taking offense." directing a surly look to at his comrade as he slowly stirs "Sides, better he shows his colours early than late". Book obliges him by making himself ready and Hathin makes a cursory attempt to present arms in the manner requested of him... though he does little to hide the dismissive gaze and sardonic smirk directed at the Commissar.
At Sarge's words of encouragement Hathin scoffs as he double checks over his plasma.
|Viktor "Doc" Zane|
The Sergeant and Commissar make their way to the squad located at the rear row of the troop deck. As last assigned group to board the vessel, they are closest to the shuttle’s primary hatch. Once the commissar barks his order, guardsmen unlatch their crash straps and form ranks at the only available spot: the very rear of the cramped craft. The men ready themselves with various degrees of earnestness. Some scramble with alacrity while a couple seem to saunter slowly, coming to attention like mischievous, indolent schola children.
Slightly behind the Sarge stands Vox-Operator Murjoff. He notices the tell-tale sign of aggravation in his unit commander: the clenched jaw, the slightly bulging vein in the neck. Unknown to Murjoff is whether Sarge’s irritation is due to the unruly nature of his troops or the Commissar’s decision to call inspection while inbound to a war-zone.
The Commissar is just able to squeeze past the row of guardsmen and maintain an air of command and dignity, and sees the unit passes the letter of the law if not the spirit. Body and lho-stench is prevalent. A few seem to be pushing the boundaries with regard to protocol and dress but currently they stand ramrod-straight like scarlet sentinels under the craft’s red luminosity. He centers on the weapons specialist for a moment. Vex's commissariat-issued unit portfolio identifies Hathin De’Lark as a known Sporchi, an unreformed or recidivist penal legionnaire that has purposely been placed in this squad to separate him from other like-minded prisoners. Vex wonders what response De’Lark may have given to the sergeant’s call to readiness but it was completely swallowed by the constant aural assault from the craft’s engines.
Not every soldier merits Vex’s attention. He thinks he could issue discipline for what looks like tread-unguent on the operator’s pants. The few weapons chosen for inspection are expertly cared for; especially immaculate is the sniper’s rifle. The Storm Trooper stands out from the others due to his superior body armor. The heavy gunner’s frame seems all the more massive up close. And even though the doctor does not dare make eye contact, he exudes an almost friendly disposition—if that were at all possible considering the difficult shuttle environment. Taking them in as a whole, Vex recalls the squad portfolio's closing statement:
On first examination Squad Mire can appear to be a bit of a rag-tag affair, yet they have never broken under fire and several times over have proven themselves as adroit, lethal killers.
Standing respectfully beside the commissar, the sergeant leans forward toward the political officer, yelling perhaps a bit louder than necessary to be heard over the pounding din of the descent.
"So, Commissar Vex, does the 4th pass muster?"
Sgt. Mire can't help but inject a just-discernible tone of leaden sarcasm into his voice, still somewhat nonplussed that Vex would call an inspection at this late a juncture. It didn't help matters that half his squad reeked of lho or seemed unprepared for it in the first place.
He is still trying to get a handle on the commissar's personality and figures that the sooner he starts, the better it will be for everyone in his unit.
Edwin groans inwardly as he sees his charge intends to conduct an inspection on a moving shuttle. Normally he would counsel Mr. Vex that perhaps now would be an inopportune time for such a move, but the roar of the engines makes private conversation impossible. Instead he resolves to speak to the young man later, and scrambles out after the overenthusiastic commissar. Squeezing past the squad sergeant, a brief moment of eye contact shows Edwin exactly what he was expecting, the typical non-com's contempt for other branches of service. He thinks to himself:
He thinks he's been through the shat does he? We'll just have to see about that.
Edwin watches over the commissar's shoulder as he conducts a perfunctory inspection, making sure to keep a firm grip on an overhead handhold. The soldiers seem competent enough, even if they are only Guard.
Enjoying the fact that most won't listen to his words and well "I don't see no witches 'ere so my thoughts are my own" as he smiles to himself for brief moment until the roar of the engine brings him back, which makes him feel awkward... "It has a certain tune to it, like most other vehicles he has ever piloted, it's a nice confined space, smells like swamp rat... smiling again to himself and continues "ironic I suppose, just hope the smell doesn't stick so bad, but I got tabac for that too, but even then I know this is no damned vehicles and I'm still in the air and I can't do anything about......FRECK!!!!
Looking at the Commissar and just trying to find if he is another one of them things that steal his good night sleeps never having enough rest and always getting screamed at by the Sarge for resting his eyes during the day... "The Emperor will let me find you..." as his eyes fill with hatred and loathing "I will be sure to run him over until I can't tell the difference between a mud stain and him"
Having been woken by the descent inspection and taking advantage of the near deafening roar of the engines, Lark leans back into his seat and begins to quietly hum to himself to pass the time as he taps out a beat upon his plasma with his fingers.
All the while he watches the back of the Commissar continuing down the aisle with dangerously glittering eyes and a malicious smirk.
Please indulge yourself as well Radavel - you hold all the power in the relationship - so smack Hathin around a bit when you think he's taken a bit of a liberty; put a gun to his head and question his faith - that sort of thing. You have my blessing - as long as we don't actually get to the killing each other bit.
If you think I'm going overboard at any point - just let me know to back off.
|Commissar Hieronymus Vex|
** spoiler omitted **
Commissar Vex, Trooper Drususon, and Sgt. Mire, make an Easy (+30) Awareness check.
Awareness 1d100 ⇒ 4
Vex, being a commissar, has a sixth sense for trouble. One could even say jokingly that he has eyes at the back of his head. Though one would be very stupid indeed to imply that he has a mutation in his presence.
The Commissar makes his way to the end of the squad with the Stormtrooper in tow. Something displayed in one of the guardsman's faces causes him to stop his advance. Indeed the Commissar does have a sense for trouble and knows intransigence when he sees it. The Sporchi. The placid expression was smugness. The attitude of deference was rebellion. The display of obedience was dereliction. He thought he could fool the Hieronymus Vex? The commissar stops and slowly turns. Following Vex's gaze, the sergeant and storm trooper also spot it a second later.
Guardsman Hathin De'Lark has stepped out of line before dismissal.
Four degrees of success, Vex understands Lark's previous show of compliance was a sham and that Lark intends to sneak behind the row of guardsmen behind his back.
|Commissar Hieronymus Vex|
Common Lore (Imperial Guard), successful by five degrees
Commissar Vex instantly recalls Imperial Guard regulation 3610/18h:
Any soldier who, for any pretense whatsover, fails to come to attention in an immediate fashion or adopts a posture of ease prematurely prior to dismissal shall be flogged.
Moreover Vex's familiarity with the Commissar's Manual tells him that this particularly egregious violation of regulations could be dealt with any number of ways. For example if the Commissar chose to define Guardsman De'Lark's actions as direct defiance then an execution would be called for.
|Commissar Hieronymus Vex|
Having returned to his seat and not bothered to get up as the Commissar approaches, Hathin eyes him from his place of recumbence. Spitting to one side he barks back at his accuser "Why don't you frackin explain why you're calling us to monkey about in lines while we're on the drop?"
|Commissar Hieronymus Vex|
From the back of the troop-deck, the squad watches as Vex follows De'Lark to his seat. The shuttle-engines swallow whatever words pass between them. The regular guardsmen glance at each other, unsure of their next move.
Simultaneously the flight, which has had its share of bumps and shakes, seems to worsen. There is a lurching sensation and the soldiers have to steady themselves to avoid falling over. A few seconds later the craft seems to level out, although the roughness of the ride remains increased.
Unable to hear precisely what is exchanged between the commissar and his insubordinate sporchi, Sgt. Mire is nevertheless able to deduce the tenor of the conversation by the participants respective expressions.
As he makes his way to his seat, Mire stops in front of De'Lark, leaning in while leaving little room between the weapons specialist and himself. Moving face to face with Hathin, he stares him down for a long while, saying nothing, before finally giving the slightest shakes of his head in the negative. He then moves away to take his own seat, now that the poorly timed inspection is at its conclusion.
For De'Lark the message is an all too clear one; anger, disappointment, and a promise of a poor outcome once they are planet-side.
Hathin takes the Sergeant's gaze steadily and with his smirk intact showing no sense of being cowed. Then after a short time... he blows the Sergeant a kiss.
Looking over at Hathin I roll my eyes at his exchange with the Commissar. He will either be the first one dead; or he will out live all of us stuck in the brig. While we all die and rot in the jungle.
Not that what he said wasn't right. But you never talk back to Brass. Unless you want to high-light them for an enemy sniper.
While not exactly friends, he has learned over time to take the good with the bad, and has a little bit of a psychological lever with Hathin as a result (even bailing him out of some disciplinary situations he has found himself in that could have gone far worse). Whether Hathin shows any loyalty for these occurrences, I'll leave up to you, Mark. For now, until you decide the dynamic on your end, I'll assume the blown kiss was to the Sarge's back (seen by others, but not him) so that the inevitable reaction of just such a show of disrespect need not necessarily be visited just yet.
Sgt. Mire walks the length of the row and re-secures himself into his harness.
The dismissed guardsmen follow their sergeant back to their crash seats. A few glance at De’Lark who maintains an obstinate, self-satisfied sneer after disrespecting both commissar and sergeant. The unit’s more experienced members like Operator Tartare do not make eye contact, knowing he is not worth the trouble. Others like Dol and Scope, worry the squad will be compromised. It is obvious to the Sarge that the Sporchi glories in his defiance. But will it be a Pyrrhic victory? For despite his battlefield prowess, if De’Lark continues to disobey and show insolence—especially to a commissar—matters can only end with a bolter round to the skull.
As the men strap in, the confrontation is quickly forgotten. Next to Lark, Book mouths one of his countless litanies which is lost to the white noise of the shuttle. Scope feels a punch in the arm and looks over at his comrade, Dot, who simply winks back at him. Despite an indifferent glance from Zees, the Doc responds to his corpsman with a warm smile. Gerr flashes his buddy Dol a wide-mouthed grin and signals a big thumbs-up. Guardsman Murjoff plops down next the the Sarge and intently scratches some imagined itch, looking forever like he would rather be anywhere than right here. Finally Anselm’s mate Dolf signals the operator to lean over and then shouts above the din, “NO PROBLEM. JUST LIKE ON MALFI!”
[ooc]I greatly appreciate Mark’s in-character posting and his enthusiastic hamming it up as the squad malcontent. A word of caution, however, with an eye towards Warhammer 40K fluff: disobedience of direct orders (in this case not answering the commissar’s question) and flagrant disrespect (calling Vex out on the inspection decision) are both clearly capital offenses. Since the conversation was essentially private, that allows a certain latitude of response on Vex’s part. Direct defiance in front of the men might force Vex’s hand and give him no choice BUT summary execution. I might encourage De’Lark’s disrespect to be more on the periphery--shirk or lollygag when given an order or mouth off just out of earshot. Sorry to belabor but Mark you asked me to tell you if it was going a bit far.
Rad, I would encourage you also to act as forthright as you deem necessary—feel free to take up Mark’s suggestion that he smack the weapons specialist if needed. Here's an example. :)
I can’t wait to see where this goes!