Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ringside Seat


The Eldar ranger sat in his foxhole on the top of a hill. He adjusted his camouflage cloak and absently checked the ammo counter on his sniper rifle – it still said “0.” He’d been in the field for 9 days. Dusk was falling. Distant sounds of fighting could be heard. He fervently hoped that relief would arrive shortly.
He observed the battlefield through his scope. A silent wraith construct sat, unmoving, in the middle of a darkened warp gate, west of the hill. A survivor from the battle had staggered and collapsed in a grove of trees to the northwest. The ranger couldn’t investigate either - a few automated sentry guns had been dropped by grav chute the previous evening, right in front of his vantage point, and he daren’t leave the safety of his foxhole.
He heard twin whistles as a pair of Imperial marker buoys impacted in the tree line to the south. “Here it comes,” he muttered.
Two heavy walkers clanked into sight from the north. West of the hill, multiple pops occurred as air was displaced by almost a dozen teleporting forms in heavy armour. The Marines broke into a trot towards the beacons as they secured the LZ . The ranger recognized the banner one held. Deathwing.
He hunkered down, muttering “Damned iron men.”
Suddenly, the whine of multiple engines sounded from the south as four heavy Eldar skimmers burst over a hill and through gaps in the trees.
Armoured infantry disembarked from the furthermost pair of Wave Serpents. Actinic fire cut down an entire squad of the Marines at the same time as a sentry gun exploded.
One of the Eldar skimmers blew up, showering Fire Dragons and Howling Banshees with bits of engine, plating, wraithbone and pilot. A couple of the Dragons fell, but the rest advanced on the banner bearing Marines.
More Marines materialized, almost over the bodies of their fallen comrades. The women of the Banshee shrine charged at them. They lost a couple to incoming fire, and then their forms became undistinguishable as they danced in and around the Terminator Marines.
Combined fire of the Dragons, a dismounted squad of Dire Avengers, and the surviving skimmer tanks cut down the Space Marine command squad; their banner was the last thing to hit the ground.
The ranger looked back at the melee. Over half the Banshees were now down, but all their opponents were down, too.
Another squad of Marines teleported in, near the fallen command squad. The two walkers reached the base of the warp gate, firing to the south.
The ranger let go his rifle and grabbed for the handgun on his hip. He fumbled and dropped it in the bottom of his hole just as it cleared the holster.
Half the Dragons were now gone, after an exchange of gunfire with the newly arrived Marine squad. The Dragons moved away towards the westernmost beacon, firing as they withdrew. The surviving Banshees launched themselves into another run, and another Avenger squad’s boots hit the ground behind their APC. Through the trees, the ranger could see the tall form of a Wraithlord and a smaller robed figure picking their way through the woods.
The Terminators advanced, leaning into a Bladestorm of shuriken as if into gale force wind. The last of the Marines fell just before the Banshees reached them.
The walkers, stripped of their infantry support, withdrew behind a smokescreen, dragging the sentry guns with them.
The clear area in front of the tree line was a perfect shambles of fallen Aspect Warriors and Terminator Marines. The Farseer floated half a meter above the ground as she wafted into clear view.
“Took her sweet time, didn’t she? Bloody witch.”
The ranger slowly stood up. The biofunctions of his armour had failed, and his legs were already caked in filth. He began to allow himself to hope. He just might live to see tomorrow…


Greg B said...

Great post Dave - we are already plotting our revenge...and also executing the people responsible

Kasper said...

Just read this story by coincidence - very well written!