Chapter Two: When do we die sir?
Heller snapped his eyes open at the shrill buzzing of the alarm. He shook his head as he stood, wanting very badly to blow the damned thing out of existence. "The tech priests would frown at that.." he thought, smiling to himself at the thoughts of damaging the device. Every morning since they had boarded the ship, the wake-up alarm had given him a throbbing head-ache. Fortunately he knew just how to cure that by now. After making up his bunk and taking a brief shower (in cold water, hot water was a rare luxury) he made his way to morning mess. It took him a few moments to find the rest of his unit in the crowd.
"Morning Jans" he told his corporal, "How do you figure that boss?" Came the expected reply. Heller chuckled, Jans had always been interested in the technicalities of space travel. In deep space (or the warp), there is no night or day, but to keep troops and the crew from going insane the ship had light/dark cycles to simulate a standard twenty-four hour day. "Because the bell says so corporal" Heller told him as he moved forward in line.
The servitor plopped the usual lump of thick gray sludge in his bowl. The two things everyone on the ship could agreed upon were the Divinity of the Emperor, and that this was not food. In fact it was a carefully engineered nutrient paste, designed to provide everything a soldier could possibly need in his diet. Heller had decided it was also created by someone without taste buds. Taking his usual seat alongside his men, Heller glanced around to make sure no officers were watching (or worse, a Commissar) then pulled a small grey cylinder from a pocket of his off duty fatigues. He twisted the top and sprinkled a minuscule amount of the fine brown powder within onto his sludge and stirred it with his spoon. He reached under the table and slipped it to Jans, and the container made its way around the table to each squad member. When each man had used his little bit, it was slipped silently back into Hellers pocket. It was now safe to eat the gruel. The sweetberry spice had been a parting gift from Hellers younger sister when he left Brimlock as part of the newly formed 201st. It had come in very handy, and the others had taken an immediate liking to him when he began to share the contraband stuff, used sparingly it would last awhile. Jans had once remarked that it was too bad Heller had no noble blood in him and could never rank past squad leader, as any officer that shared luxuries with the men was fine by him.
As soon as they were finished eating they began the long walk to the briefing room. The immense size of the ship made it a much longer walk than one would expect, and it was all Heller could manage to not get lost in the steel grated labyrinth. They entered the round briefing room to find the rest of the platoon already present. Heller nodded at his fellow sergeants as he took a seat next to them near the rooms projector while his men went to join the rest."Mornin Larks, mornin Josen" The other two mumbled pleasantries. It wasn't that Heller didn't get along with the other two team leaders, they had just never spoken much beyond what was required to operate as a cohesive formation. Heller figured this likely came from the fact that they had both come from a different province than he had grown up in. Although Brimlock lay ultimate allegiance to the Imperium, it was still divided into several provinces who were constantly struggling politically for an upper hand against the others. He settled down into his seat has Marshall Neikers entered the room.
"Good morning troops. Lets get right to it." Niekers reached over to activate the floor to ceiling holographic projector. An image of a dark, smoke stained hive world (not unlike their own) crackled into existence in the center of the room. " This" the Marshall said "is Valois."
The briefing lasted nearly an hour, while they were explained the procedure for them getting onto the planet, what the situation was on planet and what they planned to do about it. Once the bulk of the regiment hit the ground, they were to secure an impromptu landing site so that heavy equipment could be brought down and a proper command site built on the ruins of an older spaceport. As soon as the base was secure, the regiment would be split up and sent out as reinforcements to various battle zones. Second company (High Marshall Hebrechts) was to be sent to The Hive City Valois, the seat power for the planetary government, to retake the city and reaffirm imperial power on the planet. Heller thought that sounded a bit easier than it would actually be.
"Any questions people?"
Trooper Raquan, one of Hellers special weapons troopers always looking for a laugh piped up from the back.
"When do we get to die sir?"