From the behind the hill came another rhino. Third squad, Sergeant Getling’s squad, was moving up into the middle of the wave of gaunts. The rhino slammed into the swarm of creatures, sending them flying away. Telurn watched as Getling jumped out of the rhino, leveled his bolter, and opened fire. The man was insane, but as soon as the rest of third squad laid down fire as well, the gaunts in front of them died in droves. Telurn smirked. Getling was always going for glory. As he watched, Telurn noticed a giant behemoth on the far side of the squad, and he saw the hive tyrant approaching Getling. He must have seen it too, because his men turned and opened fire, bolter and melta fire flying into the great monster and his minions. The drive of the rhino must have seen it, and immediately backed away, leaving Getling and his squad alone.
The gaunts third squad had been firing at used the hive tyrants distraction and came in fast. Telurn’s squad opened fire on them, trying to stop them from reaching Getling, but they were too far and the tyranid numbered too many. The gaunts leapt onto the men, and Telurn watched as three gaunts pulled Getling down. Telurn then watched as the hive tyrant charged in. Telurn watched for a long time. Slowly, one by one, Death Flies were pulled to the ground. Then finally, none were left standing, and the hive tyrant roared.
Telurn could do nothing but continue firing down on the horde.
* * * * *
Sergeant Tare tore open the door, leaned into the driver’s cabin, and said, “Open the damned doors, Moratoro! We need to take that bastard down before he rips this box apart!”
Moratoro spun, and he said, “I got my orders! I take you there, I take you now! Nothing is going to stop me, got it?”
“Got it, but he don’t,” he said calmly, looking through the ports in the front of the rhino into the eyes of the charging carnifex.
The beast struck the vehicle, pulling it up and almost tossing it back. The rhino was airborn for a second before landing hard into the ground. The engine screamed in pain and then died. Tare was on the floor of the cabin. His squad was lying throughout the cabin attempting to get back up. Moratoro, buckled secure to his seat, was trying to get Gutwrencher started again. Tare got up, stepped back toward the driver, and spoke, “Open the doors now, or we die.”
Moratoro stopped, turned, and stared. For a moment the two soldiers locked eyes, before Moratoro nodded and flipped a switch. Tare heard the hiss of the seals as they released the doors from their locks. “Now, get this hulk moving toward that objective. We’ll distract the beast,” and without another word, Tare turned, opened the side door, and stepped out.
The monster was standing only a few meters away, and Tare sensed that it had been preparing to charge the rhino again. It watched as the soldiers got out, but its eyes never left Tare. The soldiers and the carnifex stood there pinned to their spots, staring at each other. The rhino’s engine flared to life, bucked forward, and started moving toward the dreadnought.
The carnifex spread its giant scything talons wide, opened its tooth-lined mouth wide, and roared. Tare felt the earth tremble.
“Right, let’s get this done,” Tare said, and he opened fire. For the second time today, his squad faced the might of the hive fleets elite troopers, the carnifex. This carnifex wasn’t just any, but it had killed Tare’s lord daemon Muldaven. The carnifex took round after round of fire, it’s hard armor-like skin splintering away. Tare thought he saw it smile.
It jumped, lightning fast and right at Tare. The sergeant tumbled low and to the right, diving behind the giant beast as it flew past him. He wasn’t fast enough to avoid the beast’s armored tail. It struck him hard across his legs, sending him flipping over and over, landing hard. He lost his grip on his bolter. Rolling over, he pushed himself up in time to take a direct hit across his left side sending him flying off to the right. The carnifex was right behind his flying body. He watched it jumping after him as he tumbled through the air. He struck the ground, and before he could stop rolling, the carnifex was on top of him. He saw it lift its right talon high up, and swung down. Tare started to roll, but the beast was far too fast and the talon sliced neatly through his left shoulder, pinning him to the ground. Tare stared in horror as he saw the carnifex pull up its left talon to deliver the killing blow. Tare pulled his right arm up to ward off the blow. The talon came down.
Tare caught the great blade inches from his chest in the grip of his might power fist. The carnifex screamed. With a twist, he ripped the talon in two. The carnifex reared up, pulling its other talon up out of the ground, pulling Tare up over the tyranid’s head. Tare felt himself slide down the talon a bit. Reaching out with his right arm, he grabbed the other talon, but he didn’t snap this talon off. Instead, he pulled on it, pulling the talon through his body. Pulling Tare closer to the head of the carnifex.
The great beast jerked its head in his direction, and for a moment Tare could see it was pondering what he was doing. Tare smiled. The sergeant swung his open fist out, wrapping it around the head of the great beast, and squeezed. The head exploded in a wash of brain matter, blood, and other fluids that Tare did not care to know. Tare let himself fall on top of the carnifex as it fell back.
Moments after falling, he heard the chain swords of his squad ripping through the talon still impaled through him. He was pulled up, and he found his footing. Finally, standing on his own, he looked out across the battlefield. The tyranid force was pulling back. The hive tyrant was fleeing, and the gaunts were scurrying between ruins trying to get out of range of the bilecannon. Tare knew they didn’t have long to collect what they need to collect. Already over the vox he could hear reports about drop ships coming in to retrieve them and their prize. They had maybe twenty minutes before the place was overrun with ten times the tyranid they had faced. But they had won through the day.
* * * * *
They had won the battle.
For what? Tare thought. What was so bloody important about this dreadnought that Mygar was willing to throw away the lives of a daemon lord for it?
From behind, he heard loud ponderous footsteps, and Tare knew it was the Cult Masters approaching. He turned, looking up at them as they approached.
“Cult Master Maem, Cult Master Brom and Cult Master Ordam both fell in battle. Their bodies are over…” Tare was saying, but Maem raised a clawed hand.
“I care not for the fallen dead. They were weak and deserved the fate they were given. I came to pass on a message from Mygar, who witnessed the battle here today.”
Tare nodded. Mygar was a psycher and usually watched battles form orbit. Tare had assumed that with this dreadnought being so important to the Lord, he would be watching carefully. That Mygar would seek to watch him in particular, however, was something Tare had not expected.
“What is the message, Cult Master?” Tare asked, reminding himself to remain civil with the warrior.
“Simply that he was pleased by your actions, and that you were to be rewarded when you returned to the fleet above,” Maem said. He hesitated for a moment, and Tare could tell that there was more, and whatever it was, Maem wasn’t sure he liked it. “He… he wanted me to say that such actions are the sign of a Lord.”
Tare looked hard at the Cult Master for any sign of jest. When he was confident there was none, he asked, “Anything else, Cult Master?”
“No, my Lord Master.”