The Mon’run’al Force advanced towards the ruins of the city, the Pathfinders on point. Scanners swept the area, identifying the advancing Orks. O’Shakharys read the GPS tactical display in front of him, marking points for to the Fire Warriors and Pathfinders to take up position. Shas’Vre Kulis’ voice echoed in the Commander’s ear.
“There are an awful lot of them, aren’t there?”
“Didn’t want you to feel left out, Shas’Vre.” O’Shakharys switched his comm to speak to the whole force. “All units, Dragon One. Order is Kauyon, Designate Recon Teams One and Two.” The commander felt a chill as the orders came out as though he had only stopped speaking them yesterday, “designate” marking the unit required to stand out as bait to draw the enemy in. As the Fire Warriors took up position in the ruins, the Pathfinders began jogging out towards some broken walls ahead of the main force.
The Orks appeared on the horizon like a ground-level thundercloud, their ramshackle vehicles sending clouds of black smog billowing into the sky. Fireblade Mon’tyr lowered his macrobinoculars and sighed before activating his commlink, “Dragon One, Dragon Alpha.”
The voice of the commander echoed back, “Go ahead.”
“Sir, I count two transports, as well as close air support and motorized cav. They’re going to be on us in a hurry.”
“Copy that, Shas’nel. Target infantry as priority, we’ll let the SPARTY set them to walking.”
“Understood. Marking…oh, hell.” The Fireblade spat as the Orky engines roared and the vehicles rumbled forward at a breakneck pace. “Have to finish the talk later, sir.”
The Ork trucks raced towards the barricades that the Pathfinders were headed towards and Mon’tyr saw that the recon units were not going to reach. “Fire Teams, prepare to fire. SPARTY, we’re infantry primary. Give us some infantry, won’t you?”
“Couple of walking Orks, coming up.” The Riptide opened up on the first truck and a series of Ion blasts crackled through the air and seemed to illuminate the truck from within. Fire bloomed out of it and it cracked and crumpled into a heap of parts. On the left flank of the force, the Piranha squadron raced out alongside the Pathfinders and let loose with a pair of directed microwave blasts that melted the engine block of the second truck. The front of the vehicle erupted like a bomb and the truck actually went careening back along the path it had just crossed, bouncing madly before it flipped and fell in a burning wreck. Orks were gathering, the largest ones bashing heads to point the smaller ones at the Tau positions. Mon’tyr’s ear protection activated as a roar went up to his left – the Broadsides were firing.
The missiles filled the sky for a moment before they came hurtling down towards the oncoming orks on motorcycles. The missiles slammed into their targets, creating a massive conflagration. When the smoke cleared, the bikes were nowhere to be seen.
Then the hunt began. The Pathfinders triggered their markerlights, illuminating the gaggles of angry-looking Orks and the Fire Warriors started putting pulse shots out. Orks died in droves. O’Shakharys and his Crisis Team launched their suits and came out to the flank. As he fired into the Ork commander’s unit, he took a moment to appraise the GPS overlay of the battlefield. His face suddenly went ashen.
“Fire Team Two, reposition! The center’s too open. Fire Team two…” But his words were too late. The Ork heavy guns near the rear of their battle line opened up into the clear space down the center and Fire Warriors fell rapidly. The Orks from the wrecked vehicles raised their pistols and fired, with more enthusiasm than accuracy, at the Pathfinders; however, the recon units had not reached the safety of the barricade, and they were also cut down. O’Shakharys felt an all-too-familiar wave of nausea as his GPS turned the markers for his own troops red. He and his team dropped back behind the ruin of the building and he read his display, considering.
“Sir,” the commander’s Shas’vre commed. “We can’t just leave them out there.”
“Not my plan, Shas’vre.” O’Shakharys read his display and his mind raced, adapting his plan. The Broadsides brutally punished the Orks that had moved up to use their pistols and that side of the Ork offensive was disintegrating, but the Ork commander fell upon the Kroot that had been just in front of the Crisis team’s position. There was now nothing but the trees between the monstrous Ork and the Shas’nel’s fire team. O’Shakharys had a flash of inspiration.
“Dragon Alpha, Dragon One.”
“Prepare left flank Kauyon. Designate…Dragon One.”
The comm was silent a moment. “Sir, say again?”
“You heard me, shas’nel. Just be ready.”
The Shas’vre commed again. “Sir, I wasn’t suggesting…”
“I know, Shas’vre.” O’Shakharys said. “This isn’t a suicide run. But a big beast needs a big lure. On the bounce, let them have it.” The jets of the commander’s suit fired and his Crisis team followed. They came down just outside the protection of the ruins and fired at the Ork Commander, killing several of his cronies. He felt the Ork commander’s bellow as much as he heard it and the monster led his warriors into the woods. O’Shakharys’ Marker Drone activated, illuminating the Orks.
“They’re all yours, Shas’nel.”
The barrage of pulse rifles came down like a rain of fire. The trees caught fire and the Orks spun like tops as they were cut down. Finally, even the commander himself toppled forward, his massive mechanical armor slamming to the earth with the thud of a giant iron hammer. The sight of their warlord collapsing put the remaining greenskins to flight, even as the Riptide unleashed a massive ball of Ion energy that screamed back to the artillery position of the Orks and exploded in cascading death. As tense as the moment had been, the battle was clearly over.
O’Shakharys stalked over to where the Ork commander lay amongst the trees. The beast was still alive, but the smoking ruin of his armor pinned him to the ground. The Shas’O leveled his pulse rifle at the furious Ork’s face and activated the speakers in his Crisis suit.
“This sector is not for you. We will not countenance needless slaughter and violence and we will not give you what you seek. There is no glorious battle here. There is only death. You should leave.” With that, he turned and rejoined his unit, giving the order to begin securing the area.
“Sir,” the Shas’vre commed. “Are you actually going to leave him alive?”
“A new warlord may think he would succeed where this one failed. This battle will, with any luck, seed this one with doubt and make him seek out…other targets.” O’Shakharys looked at his dead warriors. Damn fool, he chastised himself. You never did give their heavy guns any credit. They paid the price for your lack of vision. He pushed the thoughts from his head – there would be time for lessons learned. Now, the time for victory was a time for the living.
And for the Greater Good.