The sound was all consuming, not a subtle light sound of a warm voice or the gentle hum of civilisation or even the loud angry sound of anger between man and machine. It was a sound unlike any other, two tone and two fold in every aspect both deafening and silent at the same time, for every snap or crack met by meaty thump the silence of death followed in its wake. It was like two brothers forever intertwined in their way as they walked through every battlefield that past in humanities struggle through existence, and now that very sound was slamming into Merrick’s ears like a tidal wave with no escape from its grasp. Grit and dirt bounced off of his helmet from the denotation as a hand grenade exploded off to his left, the shower of debris thrown up into the air coating everything as it fell as screams and cries filled the air. To his right weapons fire arced through the dusk air like strobes of lighting met by a wall of vicious talons, teeth and impossibly wide maws, the screech of inhuman pain being carried by the smells of cooked meat and acidic ichor coating the concrete where it fell in wide pools. Over this the constant booming voices of officers and line sergeants roaring at their units to hold formation, to hold their line and just keep firing. Behind him the chattering of a belt fed weapon whined and clicked as it cycled through the belt of ammunition before the snap whine of the round exiting the barrel and whipping over his head into the swarm before them. A hand grabbed Merrick by the lapels of his ochre great coat, the material pulling tort against him as he was pulled up from his revy, bits of loose rockcrete pouring down from the lip of his helmet as a muffled voice bellowed at him as his vision swam into focus. He blinked at the figure pulling him up as his coat pulled him to the left, bits of rusted machinery catching at him as he half stumbled half fell up the side of the crater he’d been lying in, his body crashing up against the side of a ruined lathe of some sort. The voice grew more insistent as it shook him momentarily, a hand grabbing the side of his face and slapping him as his vision finally came into focus and a grimy stressed face came into view, a set of frayed chevrons set on the collar of a stained under shirt visible under the open neck of the persons’ own great coat. “Not person” his brain spoke to him “Sergeant, Sergeant Kells?” He half croaked through what felt like a throat packed with dust and machine oil, “Wake the frag up militiamen” the sergeant bellowed at him as he glanced over his shoulder at the crater he’d just pulled Merrick out of. Looking at it himself Merrick could see the remains of two other militia troopers lying at the lip, one almost split in half whilst the other lay on his back over the rim of the crater, his mouth open to the sky looking through poison filled eyes, his skin pinched with blue tendrils across his otherwise dead features. “Worry about them later Trooper Wels” Kells growled through gritted teeth at Merrick as he shoved something into his hands, looking at it Merrick realised it was his rifle though he didn’t remember dropping it. Thinking of that he couldn’t remember anything from before advancing through the ruined workshop and then being yanked to his feet by Sergeant Kells a minute or so before. “What happened Sarge, where’s the rest of the squad?” Merrick got out between coughs as he started to feel a dull ache above his right eye. “Bugs jumped us, scream killer mulched Teks and Carver, almost had you trooper” Kells grunted at him as Merrick suddenly noticed the long barb sticking through Kells right arm as it hung limp, “Sarge your arm...” Merrick got out before Kells glare shut him up fast, “Bloody howlers, just check your gear, grab your ammo and get back on the line with what’s left of the squad” Kells snarled as he pushed Merrick to head back towards the sound of the weapons fire. Shaking himself and instantly regretting it Merrick checked over his weapon, before patting himself down and limping after Sergeant Kells as they both began to make their way back around the crater and towards the sound of fighting, human voices carrying through the ruins in a garbled mess of battle cries, weapons fire, orders and cries of pain. Merrick strained his ears to here the voice of lieutenant Willis through it all, but gave up after a few minutes as his head back to swim and his vision attempted to convince him the floor was a far better place to be lying down right now. He put a hand out to steady himself against a half collapsed cross beam as Kells carried on ahead “Shake it off trooper” he called back as he unbuckled something from his belt and chucked it to Merrick. Fumbling the cap off he took a swig from the canteen, spluttering and coughing up blackened crap from his throat before taking another swig and feeling water pour down his throat, the burning sensation slowly receding from his lungs. “Old trick, water and few drops of whiskey” Kells nodded at the canteen “Cleans screamer dredge from your lungs faster than anything, just don’t drink too much” Merrick nodded at the sergeant and limped over to him, passing the canteen back “Cheers Sarge”. “Lieutenant and the rest of the section should be off this way” Kells gestured in the direction of the fighting, “Right” Merrick nodded, straightening himself up and following after the battered sergeant with a number of grunts between them as their various injuries slowed their progress. Five minutes of effort put them through a couple of smaller workshops and out into a large warehouse of some sort, similar to the food barns Merrick had spent his childhood growing up alongside, except where they had been filled with food vats and storage processing these were filled with rusted out roofs, half collapsed support beams and collections of ancient manufacturing machinery that had lay silent for three centuries. Pausing for a moment to prime his rifle Merrick could make out the rest of his unit fighting from covered positions at the fare side of the warehouse, in places they were separated by a few metres where pieces of machinery blocked their view, whilst in others the limp bodies of fallen comrades lay where they had fallen. Kells led the way across as Merrick looked about for his squad, but in the constant stream of weapons fire and barked orders he simply fell back on following sergeant Kells in place of getting separated once again. Crouched down behind an overturned work bench Merrick spotted Lieutenant Willis talking into the hand set of the Sections Radio carrier and operator, Limping still he followed Kells over to him before throwing a salute alongside the Sergeant as Willis stood up, his normally clean Specialist Officers uniform covered in soot and debris, patches of some liquid or another soaking into the material at his knees and along one sleeve. “Sergeant Kells and Militiamen Wels reporting Sir” Kells snapped as Willis come over to them “You’re going to wish you hadn’t Sergeant” “Bad report sir?” Merrick asked “Worse trooper” Willis replied...
Military Campaign Progress Edit
Duty and valour sit at the heart of every soldier and warrior that has passed through the annuals of history of humanity and its varied and wide collection of civilisations that have come and gone through time. For each it has been a binding thread to those that would stand next to them in the defence of their way of life and home, with each culture in turn defining a different ethos within this of why they stand to fight against the rest of their natural world. For some the duty to oneself is simply enough to make them stand up and be counted, whilst for others it is the defence of one’s way of life, or the drive to defend ones family even when the cause is morally grey or the origins lost in some political mire in years gone by. What crosses that line between Duty and valour is when the fight becomes one where the outcome is a guaranteed loss of a soldiers life but they still stand when ordered to take the line and fight until they drop to by time for those that may not be able to stand and for those that must be given the time to escape the oncoming tide that threatens to swallow them whole. Some times this valour can spark another and another in a chain of defiance that afterwards forever binds a group to one another, a shared memory or experience that marks them for who they are amongst all others, even amongst their own endearing kind as they walk beyond them into the pages of history. For your average soldier amongst the militia regiments of the mech-corp this sense of pride in oneself, people and culture is what often drives the more career minded through their lives and up the trees of the military. For others the simple comradery or sense of family when another takes the coin puts them in motion to stand up too and face the unknown dangers together, for others still the sense of right and wrong can push them to fight, to carry their charges through the maelstrom of wars to come, with all those that stand come the end bearing the same scares and the same whispers in their minds of those that past for years to come.
The first week after the initial contact with the swarm present within the old manufactory the old guard spends in sporadic clashes across the breadth of its front, individual reconnaissance squads of light infantry engaging in running battles and skirmishes with roving bands of lesser spawn; namely howlers and some alphas, which devolve into tense games of cat and mouse through rusted piles of empty warehouses and decayed workshops. In some places entire platoon sections of great coat swaddled infantry dig in for protracted clashes with packs of patriarchs and harpies, great swathes of rifle fire echoing through out the territory accompanied by the crump detonation of grenades and the chatter of belt fed weapons as the two forces grind into one another like two great sets of teeth slowly meshing and chipping away at one another. By the midst of the second week’s third day full company level engagements begin to appear in a few places where platoons are reinforced against larger packs who in turn are backed up by roving packs of mutants driven by their hive mind mentality, howlers screaming into the air and swarming towards gun lines at the scent of blood as alpha’s dot the groups like hulking parodies of the blood frenzied howlers, Patriarchs lurking at the edges spitting poison bards into ochre covered bodies with harpies darting in to weak points or swirling round isolated squads of militiamen. By the day’s eve two fully committed points of contact begin to appear as the swarm begins to push at two junctions through a silo of dust covered and shadow filled work bays, the initial platoons of militia troopers digging in as more and more are rushed to support them until at both locations 2 entire companies are engaged in a battle through the night that leaves dozens wounded and dead littering the slick floors as the bodies of mutants are counted where they had fallen in their mounds before belt fed weapon teams and in craters from hurled grenades. Come the dawn of the third week of the first month this picture would litter the entire front line as the Old guard find themselves digging into whatever cover and purchase they can find as the first battles spread like wildfire up and down the line, entire battalions deploying in strength to engage the roused herds of howlers, Alpha’s Patriarchs and Harpies being thrown at them. What truly wakes the armies collected senior officers is the first sightings of a trio of Behemoths spotted on the right of the armies far flank, seemingly moving up and down the line as if waiting for something to come or some otherworldly signal to appear. Collecting early in the morning with the sounds of weapons fire still echoing through the night as packs probe their front line the officers await the arrival of the general from the Headquarters detachment camped back at the entrance of the territory, when he does arrive he quickly sets to work pouring over records and maps, pulling lists of active companies and rates of expenditure from the various battalions, drawing up a plan as the officers put forward their reports and Adjutants make their cases from the variety of attached units. Come the first light of the ancient systems overhead the general dismisses the officers present to their units with a single command “Hold the line”, and truly bloody work is set to begin as the Old guard braces itself for its first true war in five decades.
The dawn of the second month slips by in a whirlwind of agonised cries and barked orders as the army swings itself into action, fresh companies are rotated into position as those worn down by attrition are brought off of the impromptu line for recoup, reorganise and reequip ready to be sent back into the havoc of war once more. In some places work parties of sappers are seen skittering too and fro along the line as tunnels are sealed with clustered charges, whilst in others spare sheets of metal are welded up into makeshift walls and bolted into place before sacks of rockcrete are slammed against them, weapons teams bedding into their new found scratch positions to begin the reaping tally anew as packs of mutants serge forward in the lull of fire only to be caught again in their weapons glare. Come the end of the first week the army finds its forward positions partially dug in with lines of debris piled high into makeshift walls and half cut trenches running through forts made of scrap and half collapsed buildings, all blazing away at the never ending tide of mutants the slam against them every day. As each cycle of dawn and dusk passes the steady pattern of weapons fire, screams, explosions and animalistic screeches becomes a chorus of war that fills the very territory as the swarm stretches and claws its way into the Old guard, whilst the army in return stabs, shoots, slashes and bludgeons its way back like two feral warriors caught in a deadly embrace neither can break away from with out exposing themselves to the other. As the second week passes and exits the third the army’s colonels and Majors from the various battalions collect to discuss the ongoing situation with the general as he sits at the head of the long table of the central command tent, the screams of the wounded and dying coming through the thin canvas walls and scratching at the very nerves of those assembled. Spread across the table old maps litter itself surface as a few jugs of tepid water sit, a couple of the officers smoking cigars whilst others sip quietly, each clearly worse for wear as the tiredness shows on every face, even the generals as his red officers frock coat sits open at the neck and bags sit under his eyes as he listens to the casualty reports from the army’s chief surgeon. One Colonel from the second battalion interjects when the surgeon suggests pulling out at the rate of losses with an angry tone that the Old guard does not retreat, two majors from the third nodding in agreement. This is met with spiked words from the two colonels of the first and fourth whilst the new major in command of what is left of the fifth sits quietly, rubbing his eyes with one gloved hand as the other simply lies empty. The general finally snaps and roars down the table at the colonels, silencing their argument with a few choice words that would leave most RSM’s blushing, the colonels bristling before their minds reminding them of who exactly was scolding them and their response dying in their mouths. Getting up and crossing over to the map pinned behind them all the general denotes to them the line of engagement, a faint red line showing their positions and a secondary one showing their positions at the time of initial engagement over a month and a half before, both sat within millimetres of one another whilst the area shaded in blue still covered 2/3rds of the map, the mutants strength having gotten more aggressive as time had gone by. “We’re not bloody moving, but neither are they” One major quips bad temperedly as the general nods “But neither are we winning” The colonel of the third responds from behind a haze of cigar smoke. The meeting ends with the officers once more returning to their units as the tempo of weapons fire begins to pick up as the air fills with screeches from the next wave of foul spawn attacking the line, the general remains sat in his tent pouring over maps until after another hour he sends away his aides bar one who stands quietly by the entrance to the tent. The general picks something up from a small box sat next to him, playing it over his fingers like a street con would a parlour trick with a coin before the silent Aide raises an eyebrow and speaking “I doubt they would help us, not after everything between us” “Maybe, but you’ve read the reports, the army will be ground into dust in 6 months of this without a chance to resupply or some kind of reinforcement” the general replied putting the ancient Hive-sec cap badge down on the table and tapping it gently on the mottled old surface.
The next two weeks would pass by in the continuous carnage as the Old guard stubbornly held their position against the constant onslaught, stepping into the third month of the season drenched in their blood of their fellows and the mutant kind in equal parts. With every probe during the nights the swarm would attack another part of the line, only to find it manned and ready by stern face militiamen and brightly dressed officers standing shoulder to shoulder. Whether they were manning trenches, standing atop the piles of rubble that were their walls or forming ranks in the wide open streets between the old warehouses and ceaselessly firing into the onrushing the swarm the Old guard would hold the line as ordered. Even amongst the wounded those that could still fight would limp back to the front with rifles in hand, forming adhoc squads of reinforcements moving where they could until true replacements moved up in the dusk of the eve to relieve the unit that had spent so much of the day cycle holding that single part of the front. The battle would begin to takes its own humourless toll as the gallows humour of soldiers begin to set in across the army, for every act of Valour shown to hold the mutants at bay one would have to fall for the toll incurred soon birthing the simple term of ‘Valour’s Fall’ whenever the name of another was added to the black lists sent home amongst their brothers and sisters in arms of the fallen militiamen.
As the final week marches sombrely by the Old guard would live up to its name as those still standing from amongst the first contacts 3 months before hand took the army’s moniker with a grim pride, Old guard amongst the bloodied faces of those around them. Some would take deathly prizes in the quiet moments from the fall mutants, pulled teeth on chains here, the section of a talon or barb worked into a boot knife or pendant for luck in others. Some officers would clamp down hard on the infractions whilst others would simply try to control the taking of such battlefield trophies rather than prohibit it as the masses found their own reliefs from the hell of the battles around them. In the end those that tried received nothing but scorn whilst those that allowed such practices often awoke from their private tents the next morn to find soldiers gifts in the form of rings of teeth surrounding their quarters in some form of mark from their troops. What these marks would mean those specialist officers would guess and gesture about for days and weeks to come as the simple meaning was lost on them…
The positioning of the Old guard has not changed since last season with the army now committed to holding the line along the third of the Secondus class Manufacturing territory they control as opposed to the swarm they are facing. In total a further 390 mech-corp troops have been lost in conflict with the swarm whilst the army has inflicted 280 confirmed casualties back against the swarm. Combat estimates put the Old-Guard within two seasons of continued combat of composition failure at the rate of engagement...
Family Ties Edit
When ever political intrigue or some form of stalemate comes to the for amongst the parliament upper house most look to the specialist families for the origin point in one way of another, as the usual rounds of inter family and parental-progeny spats are tutted at and counted off by there peers and left to be settled whilst they attend to pushing their own agendas to a point. Each family handles their squabbles in their own way, drawing ranks and putting their most appealing face forwards whilst behind the scenes the incidents are sorted and squared away for another time. For the lower house this usual means that anything they attempt to push through more often then not gets delayed or thrown back for another reading as the upper house lazes about until the required families are settled once more, much to the rest of parliaments annoyance though this ‘tradition’ of sorts has resulted ironically in the few days are year that the masses get off free as businesses close to allow the specialists to amass and shout themselves as the technician masses relax and spend their day chatting with friends and generally getting upto whatever they feel like on so called “Dithering days”. Sometimes though on these Dithering days the lower house will be called in if something has gone array in one form or another and this time that one thing has sparked a fire amongst the specialists that unlike normal where they would verbally tear one another politely to shreds they all stand in indignant outrage. Two reports received from the dome expedition’s backers have caused an outrage not seen in years as the speaker struggles to settle the various factions of the Whitts, Couts and newer Uni seethe amongst one another, order finally coming to bear after a back bencher from both major parties is thrown out with the threat of others being dismissed bringing them to their seats. The first report is the least offending of the two as it is read in somewhat of an strange irony, According to the reports the original breach in the dome has been sealed, securing the dome from anymore neural incursions of some sort or another, what has so peeved the Specialist families is that not a single mech-corp was involved in this endeavour, instead being left to a pair of Neanderthal Hive-sec personnel and some half cocked privateer from the north. At this the room fills with boos and expletives until the speaker brings it to order once more. A vote is held to send a party to investigate where this clear exclusion of the families requires a more involved hand as proposed by the Coventhrope family which results in an approval when backed by the techno order’s representative in an odd call of unity from their quarter. The second report catches in the throats of one family in particular as the names are read out, one so called ‘Magpie’ and her bodyguard, an ex-militiamen named ‘Wiley’ has been seen not only actively engaging with the personnel of Hive-sec but going as far as conducting unauthorised specialist level experiments to the point of the bodyguard daring Mech-corp’s parliament to stop them according to the transcript. At this the upper house goes ballistic at the idea of mech-corp abandoning their culture to work with the sworn enemy, another vote is put forward by the Framington estate family to immediate take control of the expedition to sort the matter as Family business but is stopped by the Minister of the Yard and Militia regiments representative as they grind their teeth and enact military decorum to block the interference. The following hour is filled with politic shouting, cries of absence and the booming voice of the military as it crashes up against the parliaments political clout. In the end the vote and committee settle to hand the situation to the current Old Guard’s general to investigate with a parliamentary team following up to clarify the results should the general’s be swayed by any notion of military honour with the ex-militiamen bodyguard of the potentially guilty party.
1) A Parliamentary team is due to arrive in camp at some point during the weekend investigating the rumours circling the so called ‘Sealing’ of the breach in the dome’s neural net, they will seek out any and all Mech-corp specialists in this matter.
2) With the Report of Mech-corp personnel actively engaging with the enemy of Hive-sec to conduct unauthorised research between the two a party of techno-order and Framington family specialists will be arriving during the course of Saturday to investigate the matter.