The skirmish was unfolding the way they always did. Not the plan, plans are worthless once contact is made. ‘Stealers were massing and flanking. Space Marines were on the move setting up positions and firing lanes. If it wasn’t for the Space Marine’s zealousness this worship experience would be one of many thousands of exercises in meaninglessness.
Radio silence had been broken. There was no element of surprise to be had. It’s unnecessary when the swarm knows where you’re going. Well communicated and coordinated maneuvers and firing runs were more beneficial to the task at hand.
Unfortunately the risk of counterproductive com-chatter comes along at times like this as well. It is amazing how many Space Marines still have so little faith this far into the war. Their panicked cries into the com system could start to eat away at a squad from the inside like a cancer.
The Flamer was experiencing just such a crisis of belief. He had watched as the Sergeant went out in a blaze of unfortunately impotent bravado. His leader’s last act, meant to inspire, left him in a stupor. In desperation he pulled the trigger, flooding the hall that led to his objective with fire. Unbelievably most of the Genestealers escaped the blast causing the Flamer to cry out, “How do you kill what can dodge righteous flames?”
The rear guard heard the entire exchange. They were in position and ready to fight off the flanking ‘Stealers that were now charging down the hall. Watching the enemy crawl over itself in an attempt to get to your throat while your leader’s com link goes dead and your squad mate ends up worthless will test the most hardened of warriors. Thankfully, the rear guard’s faith was strong.
With an encouraging glance at his partner he drew down and bolted the bug that was winning the race for his neck. Finally - a blessing from the gods! With renewed fervor and sustained fire he stood his ground as the enemy continued their assault. Suddenly there was silence. Not until he caught the look of terror on his partner’s face did he realize the silence was because his Storm Bolter had jammed. He wasn’t being blessed. He was being tested.
Before his partner died he would witness a pillar of the faith who will only be known and rewarded in death. The rear guard lowered his thunder and his head. He closed his eyes on life with a prayer of thanks on his lips unto death.
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