“I want their Captain’s head mounted on my Falx for this!” roared Gaius Magnus. “That Draco was on loan from Twenty Sixth Company.”
Gaius’s upper body protruded from a hatch, like a tiny pimple on the massive back of his Octoris Falx transport. He was a veteran of many engagements such as this, and bore a long scar that traced the line of his jaw. On his head he wore the Galea, a helmet with a transverse crest denoting his rank as Centurion. From his vantage point on the outskirts of the desert town of Vandercost, he watched a thick, oily column of black smoke billow over the ridge to his rear. That marked his precious artillery support, destroyed by a bold manoeuvre on the part of the Viridian captain whose head Gaius was now so keen to procure. She probably thought she had him on the run after pulling a trick like that, but though he had lost a vital piece, the canny old warhorse still had a trick or two to play.
Magnus swallowed his anger and channelled it into decisive action. The Viridian sow may have delivered a hard blow, but he wasn’t knocked out yet. She’d made a mistake, overstretched herself and committed her best support units.
“Principes! Exo-Suit Alleci! We’re taking care of this ourselves. Mount up!” he shouted down to his rearguard, clustered around the towering tracks of the Falx.
The Principes filed up the ramp first, hard-bitten convicts drilled and beaten into a compliant and orderly fighting force. Armed with battle shields, blades and combat shotguns, they were good in close range engagements. The Allecti stomped up the ramp behind them, their heavy steel tread and the hissing and clanking of their exo-suits servos provided the marching music for the order. Before the doors even closed properly, Giaus yelled: “Forward!” and the Falx lurched into motion.
The hulking troop transport bounced over rubble on its noisy treads as it crossed into the town proper. Giaus remained out of the hatch, pointing the way with his sword. A dramatic and entirely unnecessary gesture as his driver couldn’t see him up there, but the orders he barked into his helmet comms were certainly audible enough.
“On! On you dogs! Straight through! Breach it! Breach it!”
And breach it they did. The Falx plunged through the Viridians’ makeshift defensive line, scattering the rubble and sandbags that stretched across Vandercost’s main thoroughfare. Viridian Alpha Teams scrambled out of the way as the vehicle slewed to a halt on their side of the barricades. The rear doors swung open and before the ramp even dropped, exo-suits plummeted to the pavement, shattering the tarmac as they slammed into the ground. The exo-suits rose from their crouch and unleashed hell from their grape guns, rotary barrelled gauss cuffs that sprayed ball-bearings. Legionary Principes charged, flowing around the monolithic forms of the exo-suits. They eagerly crashed into the fray, blasting and hacking at the outnumbered Alpha Team marines. Already suppressed from the artillery bombardments, the Viridian front line didn’t stand a change against the savagery of the Junker assault. Gauss cannons on the Falx mopped up the stragglers and it was done.