|Cuthbert "Dreamer" Drips|
|The Ghost of War|
Firing at an unseen target, even with an improvised spotting light, is not easy.
Using area of effect weapons in such a circumstance however, is a good idea.
While Thud'dr's shells pass through an apparently not-so-solid Chimera-with-Thud'dr-on-top, Dreamer's grenades detonate around the area highlighted by Vect and a siren's wail erupts from that direction.
A sound like fingernails scratching over cardboard.
A sound like a stranded maritime leviathan slowly suffocating under its own immense weight.
A sound of pain and outrage.
A sound of a large beast thrashing and whipping around in fury.
A sound of breaking glass...
A sound of snapping illusions and of tearing cloth.
Once again, the reality around you changes.
You find yourself on top of a reverse canyon - a narrow slip of cracked, rocky terrain, falling into unseen depths on either side.
The slip of ground, barely twice the width of your chimera, is zig-zacking some fifty meters in front of you.
At the end of which, some kind of plateau is waiting - and a raging battle between beasts.
There are the familiar shapes of two Ogryns, swinging shields and firing their ripper guns wildly.
But there is also a hovering, repulsive creature that looks like a multi-colored oceanic creature with a long stinger tail, a gaping maw and too many spikes for anyones ease of mind. It moves through the air as if swinging in invisible water. Graceful, swift and casual - despite its considerable size and bulk, putting it around half the mass of your tank. Its preternatural agility mocks every attempt of the Ogryns at targeting it with swift turns and fluid rolls, flip and even loops.
Oh for the love of Zorg!
Cormaegs first outing as an Officer wasn't exactly starting out auspiciously.
For a moment he REALLY wished there was an Inquisitor there to help out, and he even considered trying to "summon" one by using that old joke about nobody ever expecting them only for them to turn up, but it seemed like it wouldn't be such a good idea.
"That thing is weaving and bobbing like a ballerina. Well, when someone does that, you fill the air with so much firepower there ISN'T a damn place to dodge to!
I want everything we got on that thing!
|Cuthbert "Dreamer" Drips|
right, so much for trying logic while in this hell hole... whatever we got past that point now
Leni takes a look around, trying to find something useful she can do in this situation. First she glances over to the driver
Yeah, no need for me to say anything here. The road is right in front of nose.
With no way to add anything to either driving OR shooting she gets back to shouting:
"You heard the man! SHOOT HARDER! I know you want to! I know you can!"
Command: Inspire vs 30: 1d100 ⇒ 80
Well... more encouraging words have been spoken in the past, from more gifted orators.
|The Ghost of War|
The venerable medevac chimera shudders under the combined weight of firepower erupting from it - an order of magnitude more than the enginseers of the regiment would have thought possible.
All the while accelerating at high speed along the narrow pathway towards the weaving and dodging beast.
While Leni ponders the "where", the "when" now seems to get weird too. One moment you just arrived "here", wherever that actually is, the next you have already crossed the halfway point of the path. Both, ammunition and fuel supplies suddenly considerably lower than before and the engines are screaming (both with an audible alarm and in the noosphere with a flood of white hot high alert datagrams) due to overheating as if having run on overdrive for hours.
Dreamer finds the drum mag of the hull mounted launcher to be nearly dry despite only remembering firing a single double-tab. A single grenade remains chambered.
Grox and Vect find their hull mounted lasguns emitting serious heat through the grips - making one wonder how hot the lasguns barrels must be.
Thud'drs massive gun clicks dry at a rapid pace as his mind struggles to comprehend the fact.
As everyone is razing to react and solve problems (please note what you do) there is a painful howling from up ahead. Someone is in a lot of pain and mortal terror!
You get to witness as the circling thorny ray thing suddenly halts it previous breakneck speed spiral ascent to divebomb at one of the Ogryns and skewer him through the chest with his stingertail.
The other Ogryn is howling in anguish and terror, momentarily stunned by indecision.
"More warped damned trickery!
Everything else so far has been an illusion, this might be as well.
Someone, give me an empirical test of their weapons.
They might be able to fool OUR senses, but I bet a gun reading empty but isn't can still fire!
And if not, well, we'll deal with that once we know, won't we just?"
The gun clicks. But it shouldn't be dry, not by a long shot. Thud looks confused. The ElTee starts talking, but Thud understands little of it. If a gun clicks and the rounds aren't spent, that means a jam! Thud quickly cycles the action.
Then one if his brothers gets skewered. Thud roars, but it's not pain. He has survived worse personally, several times. What he roars about is the fact that while the snake thing has it's tail in his comrade, it's mostly immobile. It Stuck! GRABBY TAIL. HOLDER DOOWN! POUR IT ON!
He holds the trigger down!
There were, Duct was sure, multiple ways warp trickery could act against them in this place. Still, Cormaeg's appeal to empiricism was a good one. Setting aside the hull-mounted lasgun, Duct delved into the chimaera's systems, seeking to verify their ammunition and fuel reserves, to confirm the causes of the alerts and to deal with those causes as best he could.
There would be some serious maintenance required when they were done, he was sure. Which was something of an optimistic viewpoint as he thought on it.
Tech Use, DC 98 before difficulty mods: 1d100 ⇒ 56
|The Ghost of War|
The machine spirits of the Chimera are in confusion and uproar as you connect via the MIU link.
For several moments (mere picoseconds in real time) you struggle against the clashing, swirling currents of conflicting data.
Then you break free of it and manage to track down the stream of the engine itself - which is surprisingly cool to your disembodied touch, despite sending alert after alert stating imminent meltdown.
You perform several rituals of data retrieval - only to find that all seems fine. All but for the readings of the engine exhaust temperature sensor - which is reporting values an order of magnitude higher than you ever saw before, which has convinced the core spirit that it is overheating.
You are faces with two options:
- Overwrite a series of protective safety protocols, intended to prevent engine meltdown. Forb. Lore AdMech-10 or Logic-20
- Perform a field maintenance and repair/circumvent the (probably?) faulty sensor. Tech-Use+0, but needs to get out and fiddle with the engine block itself. If doing this during operation/movement, you take at least a -30 penalty, more if the vehicle performs heavy maneuvering
(or some other approach you can think of)
Soon after you cycle the action, you hear the metallic clatter, you associate with spent casings bouncing over the ground, but with a more dull and hefty sound, as if the shell that is bouncing away is somehow heavier than usual.
|Max 'Grox' Hastings|
Short burst vs 33+10 range: 1d100 ⇒ 58
Feeling the heat permeating through the weapon, Grox has paused in firing, but the Lieutenant's doubt and Thud'dr's urging convince him it's time to take risks. Placing his unpowered power fist between his face and the weapon, Grox fires off a short burst aiming as best he can through the fingers of his ceramite fist. The shots fly wild though.
|The Ghost of War|
The hololith simulation stops with an Ogryn atop a turret-less Chimera APC shouting something at someone outside the field of the projection.
A hooded figure steps forward and addresses the shrouded figure atop a hovering throne.
"Up to this point, the reports of the various suspects match up to the degree that we were able to recreate with this simulation, my Lord."
The speaker makes a brief pause, as if waiting for questions or remarks from his superior.
"But the following engagement against the entity we suspect to be a demon of the Changer, most likely a Great Screamer, seems to have confounded the minds of the suspects. To a degree that we were unable to derive a probable replay. The Ogryn reports of having led his kin in a battle of pure strength, utilizing the Abhuman endurance of the skewered on to hold down and pin the screamer in place long enough to swarm and overwhelm it. The Enginseer reports performing a field repair of the chimera's engine, removing a shard of warp glass from a cooling vent, resolving the technical issues of their transport. Two troopers report not recalling anything. The driver reports following complex and partially contradicting course orders by his Sergeant and co-pilot to traverse a maze of glass shards. Multiple troopers report of engaging the entity with ranged weaponry to contradictory results. The Lieutenant reports of having re-establish contact with an element of the Adeptus Mechanicus forces and coordinating a long-range attack from a secondary titan weapon against the flying warp creature to devastating effect."
A rasping voice crackles from several rows of invisible speakers along the hall's ceiling interrupting the speaker.
The hooded speaker bows before answering.
"Passive probing during interrogation level two and three. Active probing of Suspects Alpha-Five and Beta-Two during Level Three. No false testaments, mind-locked memories or traces of possession were detected."
A booming voice, clearly thundering down from the hoovering throne demands:
"Then proceed with factual data, Interrogator."
The hooded figure nods and once again bows quickly before, somewhat hastily like someone finally steering an uncomfortable conversation back onto safer grounds.
"Of course, My Lord.
Whatever actually happened during the engagement with the screamer, the second battalion, second Platoon reemerged at the edge of Changescape, in immediate vicinity to Lance Clypus and the storming of the primary trenchline of the enemy..."
A second of silence, followed by a hushed, commanding whisper of the hooded man to a trio of serfs close to the controls of the hololith. Then the still frizzles and restores into a new image of a very different, man-made hellscape of burning vehicles, cross-crossing stroboscoping lasfire, missile trails and random death.
The steady THUMP rattling through the bones of the Chimera as Thud's Mauler goes off has become almost comforting as small arms fire adds stecatto pings to its thunderous beat. Thud has completely commandeered the front arc of the turret. In his right hand, braced precariously on the lip, is the Mauler, its muzzle brakes black with carbon, hurling twinned death at anything even remotely armored. Usually such a weapon would take two hands to stabilize, but not today. Today is the Day of the Emprah's Wrath, and Thud is His Instrument. In his left, lifted high and waving in wild abandon, is his Evicerator, its revving engine adding to the rumble of the Chimera to bring forth a symphony of death.
Huge as he is, Thud makes a tempting target. Weak las shots glance and small caliber rounds bounce off his new carapace body armor occasionally, but no large rounds with a chance to penetrate have found him. The Emprah Proteks indeed. His implant's lights dance across his skull as it feeds him constant litanies of battle and protection which he bellows in barely comprehensible low gothic.
Sanctioned Priest, Sanctified Icon of Violence, +2: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (4, 4) + 2 = 10 = This isn't just an assault, it's being conducted with Righteous Wrath and... Something? Drive me Closer?
|The Ghost of War|
Loose gravel and dirt is flying high and far behind the fast going tracks of the Chimera as "Speaker" is flooring it with an excited shout of "Uh-Rah! Here we go, Thuddy!"
Spirits and morale is rapidly climbing aboard the three APCs as they finally have a real and proper target in front of them.
For a moment, the view pauses and pans, focusing on the close-by, looming shape of a Titan, illuminated by a deep violet aurora of its void shields soaking a stream of incoming ordnance. In front of it, five smaller yet large shapes stride, ion shields aflame from impacting shells, missiles and direct energy weapons. In a wedge formation trailing in their wake are many multi-legged stalk-tanks of local manufacture. The three Chimera's with the white stenciled numbers 2-2 underneath a bigger 1 close in towards the warengine in a 30 degree angle.
The foremost enemy positions, from which the onslaught originated, is only half a kilometer away from the foremost Knights, which in turn have roughly a hundred meter lead on 2nd Platoon. It consists of a trench line, with heavily armored prefab bunkers at every turn of the trench system, roughly every 100 meters.
The view turns and shifts towards the towering giant of war and rests for a moment on its right main armament: a massive dual-barrell energy weapon of some kind. Then the still frame unpauses and a double flash of blinding white-blue light erupts from the weapon, briefly linking the titan-grade laser weapon and the dead-ahead blocky shape of a bunker. As the blinding light flickers off, the bunker is a slagged ruin and a five meter wide path of charred earthworks bisects the trenchline.
Seeing as Thud'dr is sticking out on top, I feel he may be affected by a blinded-2 status from the danger-close titan weapon. You may attempt to Face Danger to reduce/resist this of course.
Thud roars and laughs in equal measure as the bunker evaporates. He's not looking directly at the blast, of course. That would mean not looking at the targets he's firing at. But even a sidelong glance at titan class weaponry is unhealthy at best.
Face Danger!, Takes the Hit, Incredible Endurance: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (5, 5) + 2 = 12 =Great Success!
Thud blinks at just the right time, the light shining through his eyelids, but even his eyelids are made of stern stuff. When he opens them again, he's probably the only person in half a kilometer not blinking spots out of his eyes.
Hmmph, so, we have finally got that little "adventure" well and over with.
Cormaeg checks his chrono for a moment, and the consults the dateslate with the orders on it.
Hmmm, looks like command have given some leeway with the time, sensible that, but I don't think we can afford another delay like the last one.
"This is the TRUE might of the Empire!
A might we are a small but not insignificant part of, so behold our might and be proud of it!
We are the sons and daughters of the empire, soldiers in the imperial guard.
We are the emperors own hammer, and we will smash every opposition!
Remember the credo, Purge the mutant, burn the witch, kill the heretic!"
Reverting to their familiar reality was a distinct relief to Duct, providing him with targets of flesh, blood and metal which could reliably be destroyed in a conventional manner.
It wouldn't be long now before hard contact. Duct took the opportunity to patch into a pict-feed and sweep the trench-line for any likely threats or targets of opportunity.
|Max 'Grox' Hastings|
Change the gaame, elite warrior: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (5, 6) + 1 = 12
Grox is firing in tight, concentrated bursts, his mind more settled now that he is back under fire he can understand. His stormtrooper experience kicking in, Grox notices the signs of the titan gearing up to fire, he closes his eyes for the key instant and is back firing with barely a pause.
As the chimera negotiates its way around a crater, Grox spots the area cleared by the titan, offering a clear path ahead.
" Yee haw, the titan has smashed the bunker. Bring us round, 100m right of centre and floor it, clear path ahead."
The path signposted, Grox focuses back on clearing the trenches to the side of the path and preventing and close assault.
Some sort of tag like Clear path ahead? For moving ahead.
|The Ghost of War|
The cam focuses on Leni, still riding shotgun, ruffling her red hair out of her face while checking the map, the instruments and the vox. The screams of the others area heard muffled from the combead in her ear and she sigh and mutters to herfels:
"Right. Just out of that little hellhole and everyones blood is already boiling again. Better get them to act like professionals"
Her combead engages with a sharp crackle and she addresses the squad, while the cam zooms out, giving a view of the whole chimera with everyone exitedly adding more fire to the already rather lead filled air.
"Yup. Emperor Titan going HAM on the enemies of mankind is exactly the backdrop MY priest at home would've literally killed someone to have for his speeches. Probably some filthy mutant but anyways - let's not BE the people to die for it shall we? Take a breath, remember your training, focus on accurately doing what you're doing not just firing to be part of that big boom."
Change Game: Gain Tacitcal Advantage(Focus) - Impromptu Leader, Soothing Smalltalk, What gunfight?: 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (2, 6) + 3 = 11
|The Ghost of War|
Following the words of their sergeant, a tense focus settles over first squad.
The camera pans out of the driver compartment, where Speaker is flooring the accelerator after one last course correction, and it moved towards the rear hold.
Passing by every member of the squad as they go through a final round of gear checks.
Dippsy is fiddling with the straps of her body armor, slightly tightening the shoulder straps and double-checking that her rebreather is within easy reach.
Doe and Lovely have their very own routine of loader and gunner, where they go down a shared mental checklist of all the bits and pieces of their gun, rattling them off in a mumbled chorus.
Patchy is manning the second hull mounted lasgun on the other side of Grox.
Last in line, right at the rear ramp, we see Vect, connected to the Chimera proper via a snake like connector cable slithering out of deep-red left sleeve.
Then we move out and see the fountain of mud that is spraying up behind the APC as it is hurtling forward.
Can-sized shell cases are tumbling and flying in its wake, as Thudd'dr keeps a steady stream of fire up.
Stabbing rays of las-fire emit from both its flanks and towards the enemy trenches, the right side in particular lays a tight net of precision fire over the area close to the breach.
We speed alongside one of those flying bolts of highly energized particles, briefly connecting the hull of the (formally MedEvac) with the spiked helmet of a rocket launcher wielding man at the firing step of the trenchline. We see him collapsing and falling down into the mud and gore covered planks of the trench walkway. While falling, the launcher fires and careens off into the morning sky.
Soldiers in dark fatigues are running up and down the trenches, their black body armor decorated with the eight pointed star of Chaos and their lasguns fitted with serrated bayonets.
Between them stride heavily augmented nightmares with long elongated, bird-like helmets, grunting orders from implanted vox casters in a language not intended to be heard by humans.
Impacts make the earth shudder and buckle. Steaming mud and rocks rain down in a nearly constant rain, thrown up into the air by the heavy artillery shelling falling all around the trenches.
The dead trooper we followed, lying discarded and trampled upon in the mud of the trench, twitches and groans, as a faint unholy yellow-tinged glimmer appears in his unseeing eyes as forces beyond the understanding of mortals seep into him from the thrice-cursed grounds.
An all-metal pincer-hand is grabbing him by the shoulder and lifts him up with uncaring force.
A red scanner beams wanders over him.
Then he is injected with some foul arcane fluid from a tentacle-like mechadendrite of the masked Phagueseer and a jerk of movement is shuddering the corpse with half a head missing.
He is set down, stands and joins a steady trickle of shuffling, feet-dragging walking dead that heads towards the closest breach.
The view is rushing down the long string of animated corpses towards a scorched and furrowed breach in the line, thick enough for a two-lane motorway.
Rows upon rows of the dead have already assembled, wavering and shuffling aimlessly around.
The view slightly pans and a columns of vehicles come into view.
A quartet of stalking, crab-like walker-tanks from one side and a trio of tracked, blocky vehicles from the other.
One of which has a sword waving massive upper body sticking out a top hatch...
Snap back into the driver compartment to hear the finishing line of Leni's words.
"Lost" is peeking out of the co-pilot's view slid with narrowed eyes.
"Breach dead ahead. There are people in the breach! Lots of them. What are they doing?! That looks more like a human wall rather than a proper firing line. No incoming fire too!"
|The Ghost of War|
At Cormeags word, "Lost" is steering through his co-pilot's view slid, eyes narrowed.
A few moments pass as the Chimera is bouncing and rumbling ever closer, occasionally shuddering under small-arms impact.
"I see some spiked helmets... definitely some small arms ... and they are facing us directly but don't head for cover or anything.
I say that's a bunch of basic chaos loonies, Sir.
And a whole damn lot of them.
If we were to ride right into that mass, they may bog us down and even try to board us."
Duct frowned thoughtfully. Clearly more information was called for, and he cracked the rear hatch briefly, lofting his servo-skull up and out into the skies of the battlefield.
This done, he set to observing the skull's feeds. Between the elevated viewpoint and the skull's built-in augurs, he ought to be able to get a read on the enemy.
Investigate: Remote reconnaissance, the right tools: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (3, 5) + 2 = 10
|The Ghost of War|
A series of lights flicker in the shadows eye sockets of the floating skull as multi-spectral pict capture devices take stock of the nightmare awaiting the imperial forces beelining for the breach created by the main weapon discharge of the Titan.
- "What are we dealing with?" A mass of walking humanoid creatures which sprout a wide variety of injuries, all of which look very fatal. Prey sense vision is giving you very low temperature readings on most of them too, further indication of them being somehow reanimated corpses.
- "Are there any leader types which would be priority targets?" interestingly, you see various officer caps and insignia amongst the walking dead. At first it doesn't look like it but then a heat bloom catches your interest. Magnifying and using a very own cleansing and purification incantation sequence, you manage to get the disturbing pict of a hooded, hunched figure on backwards-jointed mechanical legs, seemingly herding another score of walking dead out from one of the trenches that were recently bisected by the Titan attack. In the pict, it is also injecting a partially beheaded corpse on the ground with something from a huge, wrist mounted syringe, that has sneaking cables and tubes connecting it to a bulky tank on the creature's back.
here is a return question for Cormaeg: Do you slow down or change course even slightly after witnessing what lies ahead?
"They have reanimated their own dead to fight anew," Duct said, "Combat effectiveness uncertain. Recommend targeting heat blooms to eliminate those doing the reanimating. I hypothesise reduced direction and coherence will result. Certainly further reanimation will be hampered."
This was perhaps an overly calm and bloodless way of discussing the blasphemy of reanimated corpses. Still, after traversing a hellscape, people could probably handle the situation.
"You heard the enginseer, pick your targets carefully when you can."
Cormaeg then heads into the driver area so he can give the driver instructions in person.
"Listen, patch me through to the other APC's, maximum encryption. I don't want the enemy to hear the plans."
Waiting for a moment for the link to be set up, he then gives orders according to his very rudimentary plan.
"Listen up and listen up good.
The plan is as follow, we'll advance in line, until we reach optimum firing range, and then we pour everything we have into them.
Eventually they'll break and either charge or retreat.
On my command, we'll start retreating, backing up and keep up the fire. On my second command, we'll reverse course again, and charge full tilt into them, crushing them under our threads.
The trick is to thin the herd enough that we won't be bogged down by them when we paste 'em."
Thud grunts up above. How he heard the plan over the roar of his gun is a bit of a mystery. Maybe he sees where this is going and just intuitively decides to switch weapons. Either way, the rhythmic pound of his high caliber gun stops. The huge Mauler, both barrels smoking dangerously from the continuous fire, is laid on the floor by a meaty paw from above. The hand then moves to a bulky bag stashed by the wall and held there by one of tree trunks that Thud uses for legs. From within Thud pulls a pristine (and, worryingly, loaded) Heavy Stubber. This disappears up the hole where the Mauler had come from and a low chuckle rumbles over the chimera's local vox. Jus say da werd, ElTee, and I'll start cuttin' da grass!
Something clicks in Cormaegs mind.
Considering all the LITERAL chaos that has been going on around him, it could be forgiven that his head hasn't completely gotten back in the game yet.
"Before we do this on our own though...
Call up command on the long range Vox.
Code: Lateral, 0, working, Beryl, aggressor, lhostick, lhostick.
Time to request some artillery support."
|The Ghost of War|
<< Authorized. Patching through to designated unit... >>
A very mechanic voice answers.
It is replaced by a very human voice that sounds like its owner is speaking with the mother of all cigars in his mouth. Every ten second is interrupted by a massive gun report, drowning out a few of the spoken words each time.
<< Deaf Joe fer Cormaeg: yer still kickin', old dog? Good fer yah, son. What <KABOOM> today? >>
Realising that shouting would be a bit silly, Cormaeg does raise his voice a bit as he replies.
<<Good to hear you Joe. We've got a bit of a bottleneck at coordinates <<12.578, 35.456>>, I was wondering if you could help me "uncork" the bottle so we could have ourself a little celebration?>>
|The Ghost of War|
In one fast slide, the view moves out of the armored interior of the Chimera as the encrypted and static-riddled orders of the Lieutenant crackle through.
Dirt is flying and smoke is billowing all around.
Metal fragments, bullets and lasbolts are zipping and criss-crossing.
We see Thud'dr taking several glancing hits, none of which seem to bother the Ogryn.
With a crunching, sliding noise, the three Chimeras of second company halt next to each other in not-quite-a-line, less than a hundred meters from the possible breakthrough.
A moment of (less) noise.
The view rises and pans further.
We now looks "over the shoulder" of the armored vehicles, the way they are facing: towards the trenches and the mass formation of infantry.
Then the stroboscopic flashing and overlapping staccato gun reports, as all three APCs opening up with all guns at their disposal.
<< Coord's received. I have a slot open in twen<KABOOM>. Danger close? >>
Danger Close is a concept with artillery, regarding the closeness of allied units to a target. The distance which is considered danger close depends on the artillery piece (and ammunition) in question. Unguided rockets typically have a much larger spread than guns, airburst have a wider spread than ground-HE, etc. Also tactical doctrines differ (how much does the respective army value lives?)
I'd say we have an optional **Investigate**, questions asked allow for a better answer.
Regardless of it, at the end Cormaeg then roll me a "Hit 'em with all you got", with an extra Power of 2 on a hit.
As the LT relays the coordinates the screen briefly flashes to Leni as her eyes light up and she starts fiddling with the navigational map she got for this mission, double checking the coordinates her Hun just gave the boom-boys
Investigate: Focused, Map Tool, Surface Navigation, Everyone else is an idiot: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
As the heartbeats tick by one by one the same coordinates that Cormaeg just relayed appear on the navigational map display but when Leni looks at the completed set a moment passes then her eyes go wide and she reaches for her combead, tapping it once, then a second time. After the second time small but very clearly readable, glowing red letters appear on the button: "Priority Signal". Then Leni starts speaking
"Hun, you better be telling those boom boys to WATCH THEIR AIM. Those coordinates are suuuuper close on an artillery scale"
|The Ghost of War|
Cormaeg just reaches for the headset, as our view freezes and we rapidly move out of the Chimera and towards the trenchline - following the barely visible targeting laser.
The ray of ultra focused light passes through clouds of dirt, past flailing bodies in various states of brutal disassembly and into the red glowing eyelens of a heavily augmented grotesque with a bird-like beak mask.
The view rises up, over the carnage. In the smoke clouded background, we see a barely humanoid something. Only its demonically glowing yellow eyes are distinctly visible - at least ten meters above ground level.
The frozen view slowly gets going again as we see a massive muzzle flash where the left arm would be, assuming the shrouded thing's anatomy is at least roughly following typical proportions. A few, greatly slowed down moments pass, until a tiny black dot is quickly growing into a torso sized cannon shell which then fills out the entirety of the view, allowing us to see the snarling, shifting, malign face at its tip...
Snap-cut back to the command Chimera of 2nd Platoon. Cormaegs finger fiddle with the activation stud of the headset as a massive detonation make the entire 80 ton Chimera loose ground contact for a second. Everyone inside is thrown about wildly. Leni has some luck as she is flung against Cormaeg - who in turn bangs his head against the navigational cogitator, the long-range vox speaker flying out of his momentarily stunned hand.
Everyone inside the chimera (except Leni) takes the "Concussed-2" status (you can try a "Take the Hit" to reduce this). For Cormeag, it's "Unconscious-5".
For people sticking their heads OUTSIDE the armored vehicle in midst of a full on battle, this is a "Shredded-Face-5" (can also be resisted, but at most down to a "Flashburn-2")
<< Come again, Corm? Your time slot is in ten<KABOOM>. >>
Face Danger; Takes the Hit/Incredible Endurance/Supernatural Defense: 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (2, 5) + 3 = 10
When the camera cuts to Thud he has reflexively covered his face with one beefy arm. A cloud of tiny razors and pellets of red hot metal swarm him, but none find any real purchase in his armored hide. The heat, however, cares for little for armor. Thud grunts as what little hair he had managed to grow is instantly gone.
For Duct, this was one of those circumstances which clearly demonstrated the benefits of augmenting one's fallible flesh. Generalised skull protection reduced the rattling of his precious brain and synaptic boosters picked up the minimal slack.
A mechadendrite snaked across the crew compartment to snag the vox speaker and convey it back to Cormaeg (or, depending on his degree of incapacitation, Leni). Better someone in the chain of command call in the strike. By the time he'd established his own bona fides, the window would have passed.
"Call in the strike," he said, "It may give us a fighting chance." He had precious little time to say more.
The cam switches back to Leni, who takes a moment to realize what just happened, hear the request on the combead and notice that her Hun isn't answering. Duct can be heard in the background but whether or not Leni registers this is unclear as she just twists Cormaegs combead receiver a litte towards herself and starts speaking into it:
"This is Sergeant Tivnan. Strike in 10 confirmed. Danger Fracking close! I'll patch up McGrumpy in a moment."
She then leans her ear against Cormaegs to hear the response over his combead
|The Ghost of War|
Leni stage-whispers "How do you... oh." then reaches for her own combead, pressing a button on it once so the "priority" disapears and a green light with first "Squad", then "Attack Group" on it appears:
"BRACE! Artillery incomming! Thud hide!"
You can just see Leni wrap her arm around the back of Cormaegs head and his back, grabbing on to him - somewhat securing him to herself and protecting his head - before the Camera zooms out of the Chimera, "ghosting" through the hull to show the 3 chimeras of the attack group alter course, implying that Leni gave more orders which are not shown to the viewer. The Chimeras somewhat skew to the left and right, basically altering their course so instead of driving right into the barrage they'd drive around if it things go really really bad.
The camera then snaps to an old man with - as the voice suggested - one hell of a cigar in his mouth and another one seen sticking from the pocket of his shirt. Behind him an basilisk mobile artillery piece is seen and as the grin behind the cigar gets wider the basilisk fires, causing an unearthly roar.
The cam follows the shell, and the three APCs can be glimpsed below for a moment before the zombie packed trench comes into view but instead of directly impacting the trench the rounds explode as they are still multiple meters in the air, and turn into a devastating shower of fragments that rain down on the trench, causing little damage to barricades and vehicles but absolutely shredding flesh and turning the trench into a literal river of blood.
Inside the chimera, Thud squats down faster than anyone his size should. He basically goes from standing to kissing his own butt goodbye in less than a second. Parts of him that were slightly sweaty are now steaming and he's moaning in discomfort. Dirty boomy warpy grox-crap ... he grumbles under his breath. Just lemme at'em. I'll bonk'em good, you see...*grumblegrumble*
|The Ghost of War|
We follow a single piece of glowing hot fragmented iron, curiously formed into a ragged rectangular, vaguely reminiscent of a single wing of the Imperial Aquila, all the way down.
It passes through the exposed neck of a limb, hunched-over soldier and then again through his boot and feet before it finally buries itself into the ground.
The view remains with the fragment, now half a feet underground.
We see dark-red and green and purple liquids slowly sicker down into the ground.
Then the earth starts to vibrate and shake.
The deformed, bloody fragment is suddenly dug out by the fast moving track of a tank, lifted into the air and flung back, where it collides with the front of another Chimera and ricochets off to the side.
The Chimera looks a bit battered, with a few deep gouges carved into its top armor, some fragments still lodged within and sticking out.
The artillery barrage was a very close call.
However, what would have been very costly for a pure infantry formation, is not nearly enough to stop an imperial mechanized formation.
With sickening crunching and squelching noises, the three Chimeras make their way through this dangerous choke-point.
Dust and smoke from the very recent artillery strike shrouding their movements from sight.
Then they emerge on the other side of the deep, scorched furrow created by the titan's weapon discharge and inside the enemy trench network.
Combining rapid augur and visual scanning of the area, they officers of 2nd Platoon need to make a quick command decision between three possible routes:
1. Risking a zig-zack drive straight ahead, keeping outside any trenches, crossing infantry trenches where they are thinnest. This will make navigation the easiest but also means staying very exposed to all sides.
2. Entering the supply trenches, that connect the forward fighting trenches (which you just breached) with the rear. They are (barely) wide enough for a truck (or a chimera for that matter) to drive through. Navigation will be difficult and you may, potentially run into a dead end, requiring backtracking or abandoning of the tank.
3. Get behind the Titan and follow its path of destruction, relying on it to flatten any blockades or trenches. Due to its long strides, it may simply stride over some blockades, making keeping up with it actually harder than it sounds.