Chapter Three: Boarding action

That's it. He was done. No more. "NOT ONE MORE FETHING TIME IS THAT FETHING ALARM GOING TO GIVE ME A FETHING HEADACHE FIRST THING IN THE FETHING MORNING!", Heller was half way to his pistol before he realized this was not the wake up alarm. It was the emergency siren. He leaped to his feet and was already stumbling through the door into his squads barracks before the voice came over the loud speaker.

"All hands to battle stations. Repeat, all hands to battle stations." The massive ship shook violently; Heller recognized it as an emergency evasive action.

"You heard him! Get on your damned feet people!" Heller shouted. They were already grabbing weapons. He scrambled back into his room, hastily throwing on his flak jacket and pulling on his fatigue pants. If he'd had a moment to think about it, he would have laughed at the literal cliché. He shoved several extra clips for his pistol in his pocket and charged out the door. There was no time to put on the heavy packs that powered their hellguns, much less charge them. Jans was tossing weapons out from the locker in the corner of the room. Most of the squad was already armed.

"Jans? Catch up!" Heller told his corporal. He gathered those already with weapons and headed out the door, still pulling his boots and knife sheath on, then aft toward the engine room. It was a relatively long walk, but then, they weren't walking. Dim, flashing emergency lighting filled the hall. Part of duty on the ship was defending it from boarders incase of a space battle. Their platoon was assigned to guard the engines, if the enemy got those, they were all sitting water fowl.

"All hands brace for impact!" The loudspeaker sounded. He dived for the nearest handhold, as did the rest of his men. They were shaken roughly about as a horrible screech reached their ears, one of the troopers in back hadn't took hold fast enough and bashed his skull on the bulk head, then slumped t the floor. It was the grating sound of metal on metal. The explosion came next. A gaping 10 meter hole appeared down the hallway near him and his men as the boarding torpedoes breaching charges set off. It was a hole large enough to fit several men through side by side. Dazed as he was, vision obscured by the thick black smoke now filling the enclosed area, it took Heller a moment to realize that was exactly what was happening. A half dozen men in what looked like tattered imperial uniforms leapt into view, turning towards them. One pointed, then let loose a burst of las fire.

"Charge!" Heller screamed. Outgunned, sitting still would have been an even surer form of suicide than charging the traitors. He led by example, running full tilt at the intruders, pistol blazing, flinching as enemy fire missed him by mere centimeters. The one with the rifle fell, several burning holes in his chest. Another stepped up to take his place, and Heller lunged. His combat knife passed just under his targets arm, he lost his footing and fell to the deck plating. It took a half second for him to correct himself, roll to his back and fire his pistol, point blank, up into his attacker. He rolled left, getting to his feet as quickly as possible, then leaped backwards as a crackling blue power mace missed him by a hair. Heller looked his assailant in the eyes, peering out past its gnarled metal mask. It swung again, and he barely dodged out of the way. "Shit! What do I do know!? Where did my gun go!?" The cultist swung again high, intending to make a mess of Hellers head. He side stepped, trying frantically to avoid the weapon, and was surprised by the quick backswing. It tore through the front of his jacket, leaving a long, bloody, but shallow gash in his abdomen. He gasped as his enemy let out a blood thirsty roar and swung down at him. He stepped left again; the power weapon shooting past him, then brought his heel down hard on the hand holding it. The traitor howled in pain, then ceased making noise ever again as Hellers knife was driven into its heart. He barely had a moment to breath as another jumped into combat with him. A dirty, rusted blade caught his chin, leaving a deep cut, and drove him back against the wall. His enemy pushed the advantage, leaving Heller nowhere to go. Wicked laughter came from behind its mask, and then it fell as a stray las bolt shattered the back of its head. Heller wiped the blood from his eyes, then began to rejoin the fray. Several other members of his squad had engaged the enemy in close quarters, but they were not his concern at the moment. He picked up the still crackling power weapon, and jumped on a newcomer just emerging from the boarding vessel. Its armored helmet crumpled beneath his blow, and the corpse fell noisily to the floor. He was vaguely aware of someone yelling his name, but the battle had just become a dull ringing in his ears.

The breath jumped from his lungs as someone hit him square in the back like a ton of bricks. He rolled his newest threat onto its back, and nearly punched corporal Jans in the face. "GET YOUR DAMNED HEAD DOWN HELLER!" Jans yanked hard on his collar, pulling him low to the floor as a jet of flame washed over him. Somebody had the good sense to have brought the flamer. Heller took a moment to catch his breath as more troopers jumped past him, firing assault weaponry indiscriminately into the boarders torpedo, and executing the few attackers who had survived the flamer

"Fire in the hole!" someone yelled, and threw a melta bomb into the depths of the craft. The explosion rattled the deck, then silence filled them all.

Heller climbed shakily to his feet. He patted Jans on the shoulder. Several of his own men lay scattered across the floor amongst the dozen traitors. That didn't include those who had died still inside. He closed his eyes, and gripped his stomach, still deep in shock.

The loudspeaker opened up again. "Enemy repelled. Enemy ship retreating. Secure all breached decks and report to stations."

Heller wondered how other units had fared. They had been caught seriously off guard. He turned to his men. All had the same look on their faces. The exhaustion that followed combat. He coughed, and was mildly surprised to find that it was wet, blood filled his mouth. He touched his micro bead.

"This is Sergeant Heller. Engine deck secured."