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Billowing black smoke filled part of the western horizon where the Ork ship had crashed. Warforce and his strike force were moving with all speed towards the crash site. The ship struck down five miles from where he was stationed and the terrain was difficult to traverse. Forlorn was in a constant state of winter, the ground perpetually frozen, with the sun never able to warm the densely packed surface to thaw it. Snow was far more prevalent than grass, never melting away entirely. Patches of snow always dotted the ground, if the ground wasn’t completely covered with it already. Snow that did melt would only freeze again in a few hours once the sun set.
“Combat speed,” commanded Warforce and the strike force slowed its pace as it approached the downed Ork ship.
The ship was large and crudely built. It appeared as though the Orks haphazardly welded and bolted random plates of metal all over the hull. At random intervals along the hull guns protruded, sticking out at various lengths. Most of them looked to be solid munition weapons, typical of Ork weaponry.
Smoke still poured from the ship. The impacts from the flakk missiles were clearly visible, holes torn through the metal plating and small fires blazed through those breaches in the hull. A stream of holes ran the length of the ship from the quad-guns barrage as well.
A constant crunching sound could be heard from the Rhino’s tracks over the frozen ground they approached the crash. A Marine in each Rhino manned the combi-bolter from the cupola of the Rhino, scanning the area for targets. Warforce was on foot leading the Gorgons, the veterans of the Disciples of Twilight in Terminator armor.
As the Marines closed the distance to the ship, Warforce felt a familiar psychic presence, the same he had felt aboard the space hulk. His head rang softly with the psychic energy, building slowly as they continued to get closer. Warforce knew there were Orks alive aboard the ship. The communal psychic energy they emanated was unmistakable.
“There are Orks on that ship still alive. Stand ready brothers,” Warforce informed his strike force.
Screaming around from the front of the ship Orks on bikes approached the Disciples of Twilight. A moment later a large clumsy ramshackle vehicle drove into view from the other side. The vehicle had a huge pipe-like plow on the front with spikes, spinning on the ground as the vehicle drove around from the back, where the Marines approached. The hoots and hollers of the Orks from the bed of the large vehicle carried over the distance to the strike force.
Speaking into his vox, Warforce said, “Disembark and engage.”
The Rhinos came to a halt and the transport bay doors slammed to the ground. The Marines from Vengeance and Redemption Squad disembarked, bolters raised and aimed at the oncoming Orks as they formed up. Between the two Rhinos the Gorgons and Warforce closed the gap, creating a wall of Marines. Further behind the strike force Cultists were marching up to reinforce the Marines’ position.
“Exterminate,” ordered Warforce, the malice of his voice carrying through the order.
Bolters spat a steady current of explosive rounds at the bike mounted Orks. Despite the rounds finding their mark, the Orks continued to approach. Ork physiology was not so different from a Space Marines with its ability to heal life threatening wounds. Combining Ork physiology with their crude bionics gave these large Orks the ability to shrug off all but the most vital of wounds.
Slowing their approach, the large Orks on bikes opened fire upon the Marines of Redemption Squad. Most of the shots went wide of their mark but those that did find targets were unable to penetrate the Marines’ power armor.
Warforce opened his mind to the warp and let the dark embrace of the empyrean momentarily consume him. Holding out his left hand, which swirled with flickering energy, he directed his attack towards the Ork warbikers. With a sudden flash the energy faded out from his hand. The Orks immediately stopped their attack on Redemption Squad and began to fight one another. Two Orks were smashed to the ground by their comrades. The fighting stopped almost as soon as it began but in that short time two of the Orks lay dead on the ground.
Meanwhile the large Ork vehicle had also slowed its break-neck pace as the screaming Orks leapt from the back of the vehicle. No sooner had their feet met the ground then they ran wildly at Vengeance Squad, firing their primitive pistols into the air with excitement. Each Ork was covered in random pieces of metal plating held in place by leather straps and chains. They all carried large axes and clubs that they waved around on their charge at the Marines.
A scream of, “Waaagh!” went up, resounding over the noise of combat. The psychic energy Warforce could feel from the Orks was magnified, nearly overwhelming his warp senses. All of the Orks became frenzied at the war cry. Any attempt at strategy the Orks were employing was lost to the scream. Orks on bikes lurched forward faster and those on foot leapt forward to close the distance to the Marines’ gun line.
Bolters were mag-locked as each Marine quickly pulled out their combat weapons to meet the charging Orks. Vengeance Squad was buried under a wave of greenskins. Close quarters combat was cumbersome among so many bodies. There was very little room to swing a weapon with enough force to strike killing blows. Vengeance Squad needed to dispatch the Orks quickly. A protracted melee would favor the brutes, giving them more time to bring in reinforcements.
Cultists ran to aid in the combat of Vengeance Squad. They swung their autoguns at the Orks, trying to bludgeon them, but the Cultists were outmatched. The xenos were twice their size and far stronger or arm and build. Offering little protection, the thin armor of the Cultists could not withstand the punishment being delivered by the beasts while the Orks laughed off each feeble swing of the Cultists.
Redemption Squad had also engaged in close combat with the larger Orks on warbikes. Redemption Squad proved the faster combatants as they struck at the enhanced Orks. These Orks were easily the size of the Marines, larger should the Orks stand up straight instead of assuming their constant slouched posture. Nearly every blow landed by the Marines was shrugged off.
Crackling energy enveloped the large claw-like weapons that each of the large Orks was wielding. Every blow they struck sundered power armor. The Ork attacks were slow as they swung the huge claws but the effectiveness more than made up for their unwieldy nature.
Leading the charge, Warforce and his Terminator retinue shouldered their way into the larger Orks. Little remained of Redemption Squad, most of the Marines were either dead or seriously wounded. Warforce expertly wielded his force weapon, delivering repeated strikes upon the Orks before they could lash out with their powerful claws. The clumsy attacks that were directed towards him were easily dodged and his ripostes spilling green lifeblood from the attackers.
Slowly members of the Gorgons began to fall. Their Terminator armor, while offering superb protection, also slowed them down. Every blow landed by the Orks that was not turned aside by the protective energy field of the Terminator armor proved fatal. Over half of the squad had succumbed to their wounds, yet the Orks were not faring any better.
At the back of the melee, Warforce spotted an enormous Ork. The Ork was twice again the size of the others, towering over the Gorgons. As Warforce was pulling his force sword from the chest of an Ork he saw the Gorgon’s Champion fall. The Champion’s armor was rent wide open in numerous spots and a crater blown through his chest from the enormous Ork’s powerful claw.
Stamping his boot down on the head of his most recent victim, Warforce walked calmly towards the Ork leader. The huge Ork threw back his head and let out a roar of challenge as it noticed the approach of Warforce. With a few feet between them, Warforce dove forward, leading with his sword. Stepping to the side, the Ork leader avoided the attack but Warforce had expected that. With his back to the Ork, Warforce reversed his grip on the force sword and stabbed behind himself. He could feel the resistance of armor and flesh as the weapon drove itself into the Ork’s abdomen. For a brief moment the eye lenses in Warforce’s helmet lit up with a spectral glow and the force sword came to life, hungrily devouring the life from the huge Ork. A smell of burnt flesh filled the air as Warforce withdrew his weapon.
Once the Ork leader was dispatched the Gorgons were able to finish off the remaining bikers. Checking his helmet’s display of life signs from his strike force, Warforce saw that Vengeance squad was still with them and the flashing icon next to their squad told him they were in desperate need of aid.
With the help of Warforce and the remaining Gorgons, the armored Orks were slain entirely and the few Marines of Vengeance Squad still standing nodded their heads in thanks.
The Marines loaded the Rhinos with the wounded as well as the deceased Marines.
The inability to carry off the dead from the failed mission aboard the space hulk had been the thorn that had most dug into Warforce’s side. To leave his brothers upon enemy ground was unthinkable and yet he had had no choice but to do just that.
“Ghostwrath here. We are five minutes out from your location. Report,” said a voice in Warforce’s helmet earpiece.
In response Warforce said, “The area surrounding the ship is now secure. We will need to burn these Ork bastards once you arrive and then secure the ship.”
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Into the Unknown: The Recovery (Part 2)
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