Training Exercise is either the first or one of the first pieces of Danikan 40k Fiction. As you can see – it’s clearly a ‘blow by blow’ of an actual game, in this case played against Jamie Kohler, back in the days of 40k v2.
The writing isn’t as good as the later pieces, but it’s still a fun story I think!
Colonel Arcturan Senekal gripped the overhead rail as the Chimera APC lurched to a halt. Stepping to the rear of the vehicle the officer opened the small man door on the drop hatch, stepping out into eight inches of fresh snow. He cursed and slammed the armoured door shut, hopping over the morass of mud and snow that the vehicle’s left track had churned up, stomping through the crusted snow toward the plascrete bunker on the hill above. The bright sun caused him to squint, but he didn’t bother with his battle visor for the short walk. A blue and white Ultramarines banner snapped crisply from a standard on the battlements in the chill wind that knifed through his short crimson jacket and heavy white
field trousers. He cursed again, turning up the heat on his uniform coat as his cuirass began to ice in the wind.
Damned whethermen! He thought. He never called them weathermen. They were always whethermen, as in whether they could ever get a forecast right. Temperate with cool rain, they’d said. Yeah, right.
He glanced down at the Chimera as he reached the top of the hill. The forest camouflage was not going to help in the upcoming exercise, not against this pristine white world. Oh, well. It had happened in real battles and cost him lives. This time it could only cost him a bit of prestige.
The faceplate of the giant space marine’s armor was totally impassive as the superman opened the bunker door for the stocky human Colonel. No nod of greeting, no salute of respect. He hadn’t really expected any, but it was irritating. The officers were often okay, but the marines themselves weren’t really versed in the forms of the courtesy of command.
Respect from them had to be earned. Senekal had done it before, and if today went well he would do it again.
The warmth of the bunker was welcome after the early morning cold. Ultramarine Captain Wornor stepped over to him with a smile. “Welcome, Colonel! Enjoying the cool of the morning?”
Senekal did his best to wipe the thundercloud of annoyance from his face. It had been a long, rough night and he didn’t have the inexhaustible endurance of a marine. Still, no reason to let them see that, he thought as he plastered a smile on his face.
“Good morning, Wornor! Ready to get your blue armored butt kicked?”
The marine laughed out loud. “Confidence is always a good thing, Colonel. Don’t you think you’re going a bit far,though?”
Senekal shrugged. “No point going into a fight expecting to lose, Captain. I have nothing if not confidence in my men and myself. Since I don’t have all that fancy marine equipage and superhuman strength I’ve got to make up for it with something!” He kept his tone light. For all that he was a marine, Wornor wasn’t a bad sort. Even decent enough to wager a bottle on the outcome of this little shooting match.
“Well said, Colonel,” came a voice from the darkness at the back of the bunker. A huge white haired marine in a blue and white dressing gown strode into the light. “I like confidence in my commanders. And I like wisdom.”
Arcturan bowed deeply. “Milord Macragge.” Marneus Calgar, Commander of the Ultramarines and Lord of Macragge and Ultramar, returned the obeisance casually.
“No need for such formality, my good man. Have you an envelope for me?”
“Aye, milord.” Senekal handed over a parchment sealed with ribbon and wax. “My objective for the coming exercise.”
“And yours, Wornor?” The captain handed over his own package. “Very well then, gentlemen. The exercise shall be with the usual systems for ranking and scoring and to the victor shall go this fine bottle that you have both contributed to the purchase of. I know the capabilities of my men Colonel, and your Danikans have a fine reputation. I relish the spectacle that this exercise will provide. Best of luck to both of you and may the Emperor guide your actions.”
The two unit commanders bowed, and made their way out of the bunker. Outside, Wornor turned to the Imperial Guard Colonel and held out his hand, “Fortune to you, my friend.” Surprised, Senekal took the offered hand and tried not to wince as the marine Captain shook it.
“And to you, Wornor.”
Riding back in his Chimera, Senekal went over his battle plan on his mapbox. Heironymous called it audacious, even brilliant. Senekal wasn’t so sure. His Danikans were primarily a response oriented force. Taking the initiative in an attack, even with some outside information provided by the loose lips of Wornor’s aide de camp, was certainly daring. He could only hope that the marines wouldn’t be able to react to the change in the tide of battle so quickly. If he could take them off guard, he could win this thing cleanly and maybe put an end to the glaring arrogance of some of those blue armored stiff necks. Mind you, Wornor obviously wasn’t too bad. Pretty surprising, really. The Ultramarines certainly weren’t the Blood Angels.
He forced his attention back to the map. The field of engagement was deep and wide. With last night’s change in the weather, the prairies were covered with thin snow, scoured off some areas by the driving wind. A series of low ridges would provide some cover on both sides of the battlefield. There was also some scattered brush and a few very small stands of coniferous trees. The centre of the battlefield was dominated by a ruined firebase that was destroyed in the last Tyranid incursion. To the right of it, the most sizable rise on the field was one of those areas stripped of its white cloak.
Small fences and a couple of trees as well as some kind of cultivated bush dominated it. Though varied, the cover was sparse and only a very few men could benefit from it. To the left of the firebase was a tiny bump in the terrain that he had included as his objective to the Lord of Macragge. Beyond that was an old timber barn with a flat roof covered by more of those fruit bushes. It would be a perfect place to hide.
There was far too little cover for all of his own troops. He always hated that. He’d allowed the marines to take the field first, with orbital sats and a unit of ratlings keeping an eye on them. There weren’t very many of them. On his left, a great blue dreadnought stood like an ugly pillar. On the far right, poorly concealed in the largest stand of trees in the battle area, a unit of terminator armored marines including a cyclone missile launcher shored up Wornor’s own left flank. Dead center stood a librarian in terminator armor, accompanied by the Captain, himself – equally well armored. Wornor also had two battle squads of assault marines. These had taken up positions on the centre left and right, hidden behind ridges and snow. Each of these units was accompanied by a bike, one ridden by a red armored techmarine, the other an assault bike with a multi melta.
Arcturan’s own forces were far more numerous. On his left, opposite the dreadnought, he had placed Sgt. Ufand’s tactical squad, a detached lascannon from Sgt. Questioner’s unit and the lascannon from Sgt. Morgan’s veteran “Tree ghost” support squad. He’d stiffened that by assigning command of that flank to Heironymous Cracken, his Commissar. He hoped that that would be enough to deal with the dreadnought. In the centre he had placed most of his heavy support. The Tree ghost heavy bolter, the lascannon from the final tactical squad and Lieutenant Carrington’s Command section with their veteran heavy bolter crews. Their mission was to cover the objective with a field of withering heavy weapons fire and eliminate anything that got near it. In front of them Questioner and his tacticals were to advance on the
firebase and take it, the idea being to get the objective in a crossfire. Farther to the right were Sgt. Sherman’s veteran assault troops. Armed to nearly marine standards with jump packs, power shields hand flamers, bolt pistols and a couple of plasma guns, they would be deadly opponents if they could engage. To their right was the last of the tactical units, led by Father Zromlor. Just behind them were Beliveau’s “Thunder” Rough Riders. The ratlings in the firebase completed the picture. In reserve he had held back his own “Bloodcoats” in his Chimera, Lt. Thanos’ Hellhound and Sgt. Marshall’s Leman Russ.
At his word, the battle was joined. The preliminary barrage was a clean miss. No disappointment there, he had long since learned not to place much confidence in the artillery detachment. The tactical units in the centre and the right ran forward, followed by the assault units. In keeping with his rather daring plan he threw all of his reserves right into the fray.
The Leman Russ arrived at combat speed on the far left to help the infantry deal with the dreadnought, while his Chimeraand Hellhound charged toward the barn. He’d heard that there had been movement reported there, and intended to eliminate it as a possible threat to his taking of his objective (which it overlooked FAR too well for his tastes).
The firing began with his ratlings salvoing ineffective fire at the attack bike and librarian. Not liking this one bit, the Colonel took a personal hand in the next attack, climbing up to the Chimera’s turret hatch he grasped the storm bolter’s grips and swung around the coaxial searchlight, illuminating the fruit bushes atop the barn. Ultramarine scouts cried out in despair as the light picked out a multi melta’s distinctive shape and gave away the unit. Thanos’ Hellhound let loose with a blast of fire from its inferno cannon followed up by ineffective fire from it’s heavy bolter. Much of the squad cried
out as the light flame charge reached them and their exercise computer systems gave them the shock which told them that they’d have been burned to death if this had been for real. The Chimera followed up with fire from its own weaponry and Senekal added the fire of his storm bolter, finishing off the last of the scouts before they could even fire a shot.
To his left, deadly lances of laser light stabbed out from the lascannons seeking the dreadnought. One knocked it sprawling to the side, but did no real damage. The Leman Russ added its own fire, pivoting its turret right to fire at the threat of the distant terminators far away across the battlefield, while its lascannon touched the side of the dreadnought’s leg. Even the Ultramarine machine’s reinforced armor wasn’t enough to save it as the computer read the effects of the shot. The dreadnought collapsed to the ground as the battlecannon eliminated the cyclone from the terminator unit with a single shot.
As the smoke of the deadly Imperial Guard fire cleared, a now worried Wornor ordered his Epistolary, Rygous, to help the terminators. The librarian complied and the heavy infantry unit vanished in a blaze of light to reappear much closer to the advancing tactical units on their own left flank.
Wornor quickly took stock of his deteriorating situation. The terminators were now in position to fire, but had lost their heavy weapon. He ordered the attack bike up to support them.
With the dreadnought gone, things didn’t look good for the right flank either, particularly with the guard armor advancing towards it. He had confidence in the ability of his power fist armed assault marines to kill armor, but they had to get close enough without getting killed by the massed fire of the guard heavy weapons. They would have to wait until the tanks got closer.
He gave the nod to techmarine Datas who gunned his bike and roared forward through a storm of overwatch fire, coming out unscathed.
Wornor nodded in satisfaction as things began to look a bit better. Knowing that he had to get involved, himself if he was to accomplish his own objectives, the taking of the high ground that was already crawling with guardsmen, he dug out the controls and activated his ancient warp jump device. As the cold of the warp took him he sent a quick prayer to the Emperor, asking him to guide this jump. It must have worked for as his sight cleared he found himself standing next to the Colonel’s command vehicle. In the hatch above, Senekal’s eyes widened in surprise as the terminator armored Captain suddenly appeared out of nowhere and began hacking at his tracks with a power sword!
Rygous’ fire eliminated a pair of ratlings from the fight, causing them to duck into hiding. The attack bike only managed to kill a single one of Sgt. Questioner’s tacticals. The terminators opened fire too, and the squad led by Father Zromlor lost five for the rest of the battle. The Preacher called on his men to stand fast and their faith in him gave them the courage to do so.
Meanwhile the computer in the Colonel’s Chimera decided that vehicle had flipped over and that all of its crew and most of its passengers, Colonel Senekal included, had become casualties. Grumbling, Arcturan climbed from the Chimera and walked from the combat zone with a nod of congratulations to Wornor as he went. It had been a most daring move, and effective.
With Colonel Senekal out of the fight, Commissar Cracken now took command. As the guard heavy weapons lined up on the marine Captain, Wornor suddenly realized how precarious his position now was. Even with the troops that had been shaken by the loss of the Colonel, there were still a lot of lascannons and heavy bolters aimed his way! Cracken angled to hurl a haywire grenade at him as the Hellhound slowed and swiveled its flickering maw toward him as well, even as its hull mounted heavy bolter spewed shots at techmarine Datas. Before the infantry could fire, the flame from the inferno cannon engulfed him and he accepted the painful shock from his armor announcing his “death”. The Hellhound also fired blind to interfere with the bike’s approach, even as a lascannon shot nailed Datas’ transport in the forward wheel, slowing it, but not stopping it. The Leman Russ turned to support the attempt to kill the marine captain, only to find him already dead. Cracken ordered it to support Thanos’ attempt to take the objective.
On the right flank, things were also heating up. Sgt. Beliveau lowered his lance and gave the order to charge. The Rough Riders swept over the hill like a precision riding team, lances falling in perfect synchronization like the crest of a wave tipping over. Two of the riders fell short of their goal, the terminator squad, while one crashed headlong into the driver of the attack bike, the training charge on the lance head informing the driver of his “death”. A heavy bolter shot downed the only unengaged terminator and the cavalry troopers took down a second one. The terminator sergeant was not, however
going to allow himself to be bested by this rabble. He slashed at his attacker, removing him from the fight, and used his momentum to carry him into one of the riders who had fallen short. The final terminator’s armor received a plethora of hits from hunting lance and chainsword but withstood them all.
Rygous looked over the battlefield. Like Cracken, in the guard force, command had now fallen to him. He continued to exchange fire with the ratlings atop the firebase while watching Datas force his damaged bike forward and try for a long throw with a vortex bomb at the Guard flame tank. The grenade fell far short, failing even to detonate. To his left, the attack bike moved out of control, pivoting right and veering toward the wall of the firebase. The gunner leapt off and dashed into the base with his bolt pistol. If he could drive off the guardsmen and ratlings, he might still take control of this
objective. The terminators and cavalry traded blows and the last marine trooper fell to a chainsword hit, leaving only the sergeant still fighting.
Rygous realized that he had to stop that Hellhound. The tank was closing on his troopers and would soon burn them out of their hiding places as soon as it was close enough. He would have to send in his right hand assault squad to take it out or they would be burned in their trenches. As he prepared to order them forward he gathered his psychic energy to assist them. Meanwhile the Hellhound roared forward, cresting a small rise and spewing fire over Datas taking him out of the fight. The flame spat so far that it nearly caught the hiding assault marines.
Cracken watched the Hellhound reach the objective and ordered the Russ to continue to follow it in support. Wanting a better view of the battlefield than he could get from where he was (and a better feel for how secure the objective was) he activated his jump pack and leapt up along side the charging flame tank. He realized that he could neither see, nor properly control the right flank anymore. He would have to trust to Lt. Carrington to keep a proper eye on things on that side.
Over on that flank, Carrington watched as “Thunder” charged again, concentrating on killing the last terminator, while the one who had destroyed the assault bike actually chased the gunner into the firebase on his horse! The terminator sergeant finally fell under a hail of rising and falling chainswords and the last remaining hunting lance. A few seconds later, the attack bike gunner left the firebase, his armor blasting out his “dead tone”.
Rygous knew that he had run out of time. He displaced the right hand assault marines forward and watched as they jumped into combat with the Hellhound. They lost one to a lascannon on overwatch as they closed, and another bounced off the Hellhound’s electrohull. The remaining three tore into the flame tank destroying a track and killing the driver.
The Hellhound went wildly out of control, coming to a stop not far from Rygous’ cover. Commissar Heironymous Cracken howled a battle cry and charged the nearest assault marine as the Leman Russ rolled onto the objective hill, opening fire with all of its weaponry on the marines in the open. The rest of the guard heavy weapons chimed in and eliminated the marines, the final one falling to Cracken’s power fist. Meanwhile, Thanos’ Hellhound opened fire on Rygous, himself, covering him in burning fuel but leaving him completely unharmed!
On the right flank the Rough Riders put their spurs to their horses and headed back to their lines, completing their classic cavalry sweep. They had performed an excellent day’s work.
Rygous looked at the battlefield and at his remaining, few troops. Snapping off a last few shots at the ratlings, he ordered his remaining marines to charge the Hellhound and finish it off, but the sight of the burning librarian was too much for them. The marines had no desire to be caught in such a flame and the fact that this was an exercise was momentarily lost on them. They refused to charge such a fearsome weapon.
The tone sounded over the comlinks, signaling an end to the exercise.
In the dark of the evening, the skies were filled with a firmament of stars that shone like a multitude of glittering diamonds in the icy air. Outside the marine bunker, Captain Wornor and Marneus Calgar watched Colonel Senekal make his way down the hill to his command vehicle. Both noted the way that the guard at the bunker door offered a snappy salute as the Guard Colonel passed, bottle under his arm.
“What do you think, Wornor?” the Imperial Commander asked.
“Well, Marneus, all I can say is that I’m glad that his loyalty is firmly with the Imperium. He is a fine commander and his men are deadly and well trained. That Commissar of his isn’t half bad, either.”
“You didn’t throw it, then?” the older marine looked surprised.
Wornor shook his head. “No, sir. I had considered it, of course, but no. We had some bad luck, it’s true. The men from the first company in particular could have performed much better than they did. But he beat me fair and square.” He paused in thought a moment. “Hell, sir, he trounced me!”
Lord Macragge smiled and clapped the younger marine on the shoulder, “We all lose sometimes, Wornor. It is how a man deals with his defeat that marks him as a man, not how gracious he is in victory. That man might have been a match for Macharius. That’s what Dante says, anyway. When the Tyranids come again, he’ll be here with us, fighting. And that, my young friend, is what we need right now. More men like Arcturan Senekal who believe in the Imperium and are willing to fight for it. There are great storms coming, Wornor. And when they come we are going to need all the good men that
we can find.”
The two marines stood silently in the cold night, watching the Chimera’s lights recede into the darkened wood.
(by Mike Major – 2000)