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New Year, Old Friends
Introduction <> Army Lists <> Batrep, Turns 1-3 <> Batrep, Turns 4-6 <> Lessons Learned
New Year, Old
Friends: Battle Report, Turns 1-3
“Break Fast,” replied Hengist, one of the two Wolf Guard Battle Leaders present for the Joint Exercises. One of his thralls handed the Kshatriya a steel bowl of gray gruel and a spoon with a spike coming from the end of the handle. She tried some of the glop and inwardly winced. It was lukewarm, lumpy, and salty. She managed to smile weakly as she swallowed.
“An interesting dish,” she said.
“Ja,” Hengist replied, already halfway through his serving. “Porridge of gar. We have it every daybreak. Puts hair on yer chest—errr…if you know what I mean.”
“I believe so,” she replied, a bit more coldly than she meant to. This was her first training session with the Space Wolves but she had been briefed on interacting with them. “The Fenrisians are fearless, honorable, and loyal,” her Caste Commander, Raja Persa Ansari, had told her before she had left for Charon Delta. “But they could benefit from training in decorum. And they are unused to female Marines. You may need to exercise tolerance.” If I have to eat this swill for the next nine days, she thought, my tolerance shall be sorely tested.
“We Tigers follow many of the Dietary Edicts of the Codex Astartes,” Khandar Madu said, as she stirred a bit of the gruel with the spiked spoon, toying with it in a pretense of eating. “This custom of eating at dawn is unknown to us.”
Hengist rolled his eyes as he held out his dish for his manservant to fill with another helping. “Fah. No book will tell the Sons of Russ where and when and what to eat, and how to cook it, and whether we should provide finger bowls or napkins with our meals,” he sneered.
“Without doubt, the demands of the Fenrisian environment require some adjustment in nutritional intake,” she replied. She looked across the camp, where dozens of Space Wolves and Fighting Tigers sat together partaking of Break Fast. She noticed that many of the Tigers were also toying with their food or ignoring it in favor of conversation with their Fenrisian counterparts. For a moment she envied the brown and yellow armored Fighting Tigers from the continent of Ghuyarashtra, many of who were vegetarians and had politely declined the meal.
Hafdan, the other Wolf Guard Battle Leader, emerged from a Rhino parked nearby. He raised his hands, clapped twice, and whistled for everyone’s attention. “All is in readiness for today’s Exercises,” he announced. “The Scouts have found the ruins of an urban area not far from here. It will make an excellent training ground.”
“For some of you, this is your first Joint Exercise. In accordance with the Old Pacts of Friendship between our Chapters, all combat is to be non-lethal—only approved Training Armaments. What that means,” he said, turning to the Blood Claws, “is blanks and wooden knives. Got that?” The Gray Hunters jeered at the new recruits; many of the young Wolves scowled or replied with dismissive gestures.
“The Training Armor you wear has sensors in vulnerable areas. A hit by the Training Ammunition —or a good solid punch—to one of these sensors will deactivate your power supply, trapping you in your armor. But first it will give you a really good electric shock for letting you get tagged in the first place.” Many of the Wolves laughed.
“For those of you who normally use more lethal weapons, you have been supplied with training versions which fire low-intensity lasers or paint shells. A hit from one of these will likewise deactivate your suit. And let me just say that I feel sorry for any of you poor bastards that get hit with a proxy flamer. You’re going to be cleaning that crap out of your Training Armor all week.” A few of the older Marines—Tigers and Wolves—nodded or smiled wryly.
“The Exercise will be monitored and run by the Control Computer here at camp,” Hafdan said. “With the Kshatriya’s agreement, we shall begin moving to the training field in 20 Terran Minutes.”
As the Marines resumed their meals and conversations, Hafdan approached Hengist and Khandar Madu, accepting a bowl of fish porridge from Hengist’s slave. “Good morning, Kshatriya. I hope you and yours got plenty of sleep last night after your long voyage.”
“I regret to say that my sleep was disturbed by the merrymaking of your warriors,” she replied. “I am afraid that I have little patience for such frivolity. Perhaps during this training period they could end each night’s revelry before 0200 hours.”
Hengist stared hard at her, but Hafdan smiled wryly. “The men are fond of their beer. Nevertheless, I shall have a word with them, Kshatriya.”
“Thank you. Have no worries, we are ready—more than ready—to begin the training, if that is what you meant. However, there is, perhaps, one small problem. As is customary, we have brought the Training Ammunition you requested—”
“—and we brought yours, just like the Old Pacts say. So what’s the problem?” Hengist grumbled.
“Begging your pardon, but your request seemed quite small. A single case each of bolter and bolt pistol blanks—”
“Our requisition was correct,” Hafdan said, through a mouthful of food. “And two cases of dummy autocannon shells. Plus a few miscellaneous simulation armaments. I have trained with you Tigers before and have never known your quartermaster to make an error.”
“I am but recently promoted to the ranks of captain and have never engaged in the Joint Exercises before. But surely you cannot mean to undergo nine days of training with such meager ammunition supplies.”
“Of course we can,” Hengist replied, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “We do it all the time. Teaches our boys to consider carefully before they fire. Especially the young ones.” He noticed her bowl. “Are you going to finish that?”
“Please, help yourself,” she said, handing the bowl to him. “But—”
“We won’t need extra ammunition,” Hafdan said, a slight smirk on his face.
“Perhaps so,” Khandar Madu replied. “But we Tigers consider ourselves among the finest marksmen—”
“Perhaps so,” said Hafdan, “but it won’t help.” He joined Hengist and some of the nearby Wolves in hearty laughter.
Khandar Madu’s face grew almost as red as her hair. “I regret that I am interpreting your response as mockery, Hafdan.”
“Not at all,” he replied, still smiling. “But you admitted that you have never trained with the Wolves before. So you may not know of how we fight when we’re outgunned.”
“Of course, we’re almost always outgunned, you know,” Hengist added. “Let’s have a wager,” he suggested. “Kshatriya Madu shall chose what end of the field she'd like. We'll try to take that end of the field from her, and she shall try to take ours. Agreed?”
“That is agreeable to me. A wager, you say? What shall be the stakes?”
“Name them,” Hafdan replied.
“After we Tigers win, your men shall give up their beer for the remainder of the Joint Exercises,” she said. “And if your men prevail?”
“Your confidence has assured me that we need not waste time discussing that possibility, Kshatriya,” said Hafdan, smiling faintly as he finished his meal and stood up. “Move out!” he shouted, and turned to go. Hengist openly scowled at her and followed him.
Despite the ancient bonds between the Chapters, Khandar Madu found herself disliking those two.
Inside Maneater IV, her command vehicle, Kshatriya Khandar Madu addressed her Fighting Tigers across the comnet. “The Space Wolves are masters of hand-to-hand combat,” she said, “therefore we must stay out of their clutches and rely on our bolters and heavy weapons. We shall move and fight as the sea pounds the shore,” she continued. “We will flow forward as does the tide, then draw back as does the retreating wave, then crash down upon them as does the tsunami.
“Our friends are strong and swift but our weapons are mighty. May Vishnu bless us this day.”
Maneaters I, II, and III, fully loaded with Tigers of Rudra, roared left and forward, avoiding the killing ground of the middle, their smoke launchers firing to cover their advance. The Tiger Shark followed them, its heavy bolter targeting the three Space Wolf Land Speeders opposite.
Maneater I is orange; Maneater
II is yellow; Maneater III is white.
Inside one of the Wolf Rhinos, Hafdan watched the Tigers advance and signaled his counterpart, Wolf Guard Battle Leader Hengist. “I’m moving in, as we planned.”
“My boys and I will race you there,” Hengist replied. “And afterwards, we’ll all have a beer.” He grinned and nodded to the driver of his Rhino. “Let’s pay that redheaded vixen a call, shall we?”
Atop the high ruined tower on the right side of the field, the Tigers of Rudra and Agni sighted the Wolf speeders at the other end of the training area. Most of their shots missed or were out of range, but they had enough firepower to down one Speeder. In the center, the Predator tank Tyger Tyger fired weakened laser beams that struck several of the sensors mounted onto a Rhino belonging to a pack of Blood Claws. The Control Computer running the simulation declared the vehicle “destroyed,” and randomly calculated casualties from the resulting “internal damage.” One Blood Claw was ordered to stay inside—“killed”—as his brothers dismounted and took cover behind the wreckage.
The three “surviving” Wolf Rhinos began to grind forward. Hengist and his Gray Hunters went along the left side of the field, Wolf Guard Modi and his Blood Claws followed him, and Hafdan and his Gray Hunters moved along the right side, near to the Predator Stalking Wolf, effectively blocking the path of the Tiger transports.
Within her Razorback, Khandar Madu watched how the exercise was beginning. “Good, good,” she called out. Remember: it is paramount that we nullify their mobility. Then we can eliminate them at our leisure.” She nodded to the Razorback’s gunner, who ascended to her position, took aim, and fired the vehicle’s lascannon at Hengist’s Rhino, almost wholly blocked by ruins. The low-watt laser struck the sensor on the storm bolter and the Control Computer deactivated it, declaring it “destroyed.”
“Nothing we can’t handle,” Hengist growled. He was more concerned about Blood Claw Pack Sleipnir, which had lost its transport. He checked the monitor that displayed the view to the rear of his Rhino. Through the billowing sand and dust, Hengist could see that Hodur, the Wolf Guard assigned to the squad, was leading the young recruits forward to the safety of cover, completely out of the Tiger fire lanes. Good man, he thought. These Vedic don’t stand a chance.
As for that fellow on top
of the other Rhino--Pat likes to place his Wolf Guard figure
Over the comnet, Hengist heard Hafdan coordinating counterfire. One of the Wolf Speeders fired a proxied multi-melta at one of the Tiger Rhinos and the Control Computer declared that it had suffered “incidental minor damage,” as if the “hit” had severely jostled the crew and passengers. The Predator Stalking Wolf fired a dummy autocannon shell that grazed the Tiger Speeder, leaving a streak of bright red paint across the front. The Control Computer deactivated the Tiger Shark’s heavy bolter.
“I’m getting thirsty already,” Hengist declared.
“Granted,” she replied. “Veteran Sergeant Singh, you will hold and prevent the Wolves’ advance. Veteran Sergeant Patel, follow Marga’s lead.” She watched as Maneaters I and II went right, avoiding the deadly fire of the Space Wolf Predator. “Good. As for the rest of you, fire at will.”
Her own vehicle rumbled forward and fired again at Hengist’s Rhino, to no effect. Her troops were having much better luck. A Tiger of Rudra emerged from the roof hatch of Maneater III and fired a missile, striking the front of one of the Wolf Speeders and painting it a yellow-green. The Control Computer deactivated its multi-melta, leaving it weaponless. The Predator Tyger Tyger fired on another Speeder, its lasers hitting enough sensors that the Control Computer ordered the “destroyed” craft to leave the field.
The Tigers of Agni were armed with heavy bolters—ill-suited to combat the mechanized Wolves, but no better targets presented themselves. They opened fire on the other Blood Claw Rhino and riddled the front sensors, the tank grinding to a sudden halt. Three Blood Claws were ordered to remain inside, “killed” as the “interior exploded” with the Rhino’s “destruction.” Wolf Guard Modi shouted with frustration as he and his recruits tumbled out, taking cover behind a ruined building.
Seeing an opportunity, Hafdan and Gray Hunter Pack Kvasir dismounted from their Rhino; when they were out, it peeled forward, moving into the Tigers’ side of the field. Hafdan and his men loped through the ruins, safely behind cover. Maneater II came around a corner, its double storm bolters turning this way and that, looking for Wolves.
“Hsst! Ologson, up front!” whispered Hafdan. The melta gunner crept closer. “Think you can take it?”
“Ja,” Ologson replied, and fired. Red paint spattered all over the side of the yellow and brown Rhino. The Control Computer ordered one of the Tigers to stay inside as the tank was “destroyed.”
Not far away, hidden behind the corner of a ruined building, Wolf Guard Hodur looked out and saw Vingh Patel’s squad dismount from the Rhino. He too called up his melta gunner, who struck one of the Tigers with a huge blob of red paint. The Vedic crumpled as the Control Computer deactivated his armor’s power.
“Double rations for you,” Hodur told Svengir, as they ducked back behind the corner.
“Are we just going to hide back here like scared little children?” growled Skaldi, another of Hodur’s charges. “There they are—let’s get them!”
“Patience, boy. I know what I’m doing,” snarled Hodur. “The time is not right yet. Run out there now and you’ll drop before you take your third step.” He peered out again and hand-signaled to Modi, whose Blood Claws were not far away. Modi nodded and passed the word to his lads.
Meanwhile, Hengist’s Rhino skidded to a halt not far from Khandar Madu’s Razorback. “Out, out, everyone out!” he yelled, and Gray Hunter Pack Mimir bellowed as they came. The simulated bursts from their plasma and melta weapons did no damage, but Ran’s power fist—at the lowest setting—disabled enough sensors on Maneater IV that it too was declared “destroyed,” with a Tiger “killed.”
Khandar Madu and the four “surviving” Tigers of Rudra tumbled out the back, the Wolves’s cheers echoing through the ruins. She slipped on her helmet and activated the comlink. “Our friends think they have us on the run. Remember what I said earlier about being as the sea. Now we shall draw back, and hopefully pull some of them with us in the undertow.”
Swearing in his native tongue, Hengist and his men dove for cover beneath the superstructure of the ruined tower. I’ll be damned if I admit that the red-haired wench was right, he thought.
The Devastator squad atop the tower let loose with their heavy bolters on Hafdan and his Gray Hunters. Simultaneously, Veteran Sergeant Patel’s brown-and-yellow Tigers of Rudra jumped out from behind the “wreckage” of their Rhino and opened fire at point-blank range. Hafdan screamed out a warning but it was too late: clinging gray goop fired from the Tactical squad’s proxy flamer and Patel’s proxy bolter-flamer, covering most of the squad. Hafdan stumbled backwards, the servos in his armor whining in protest as they strained against the sticky mess that threatened to clog its joints.
“To me! To me!” Hafdan shouted, but only two of his Gray Hunters got up and followed. Together, they fell back the way they came. If the Tigers follow us, we’re done, Hafdan thought to himself. He spared a glance back: behind him, another Fighting Tiger Rhino pulled to a halt and a Vedic with a missile launcher emerged from the top hatch. “Move! Move!” Hafdan shouted to his men. “Take cover!”
The Predator Stalking Wolf opened fire, covering Hafdan’s retreat; the Fighting Tiger ducked back into the Rhino to avoid being struck by a paint-filled shell. Hafdan and his men were safe for the moment. As they ran, the weaponless Fighting Tiger Land Speeder zoomed overhead, on its way to Wolf territory; simultaneously, the weaponless Wolf Speeder went rocketing the other way, into Tiger territory.
On the other side of the ruins, across from Hafdan, Hodur saw that the moment had come. “Now!” he bellowed, drawing his axe. With a roar, the Blood Claws sprang. “Svengir!” Hodur shouted to the melta gunner, pointing to Maneater I, the orange-and-black Rhino not far from them. Svengir paused for a moment to paint the Rhino’s storm bolter, neutralizing it, then hurried to join the melee as the Blood Claws charged into Patel’s brown-and-yellow Tigers.
“It’s ON, now!” Hodur yelled, grinning.
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