Swamps of M’boto
Master Balthasar swung his boots out of the sucking mud, fighting for alertness as his demi-company trudged through the end of the mire towards their objective. They still had several kilometers to go and the offensive was scheduled to go off in less than 8 hours. They had left their vehicles behind, knowing they would sink in the swamp, and even the speeders the Ravenwing had attached to his command had to pick their routes carefully lest their grav-effect drill down into the mud.
“Master Balthasar, angle to the left to where the speeders are. We have found a spit of solid ground” called Sergeant Matthias. Balthasar twisted to see the coil of speeders begin to shake out into a line over the solid ground, and he trudged across the morass to find firmer footing. A movement they had planned for 6 hours had taken over 10 and the troops focus was lacking as the constant battle simply to stay erect was fought with each step. The Emperor was with them, finally and the ground even came up above the water line, nearly dry, and the troops made much better time, reaching the planned assembly area with 90 minutes to go until the attack.
“Sergeant Eleazer, form a defensive and then rest, we must clear our minds of that foul swamp. We will hold here for 30 minutes. Matthias ground your speeders inside. We can trust our Catalepsian nodes but I will not have a sloppy attack even if we are covered in filth. Sergeant Judah, take your men ahead and find the grove the auspex detected for us to attack from. Once you have reached it vox back your bearing and rest your squad”
Master Balthasar’s vox clicked as each Sergeant acknowledged his orders. The tactical squads broke down their sectors, the devastators picked firing positions on little knolls and the speeders grounded in dead zones out of easy observation, then each brother froze into a statue. Balthasar and his command squad alone remained moving. Trusting to their altered physique and discipline alone, the silent brothers surveyed the landscape and waited for the assault squad’s report. Within ten minutes Judah’s voice came up on the vox.
“Master Balthasar, we have come to the edge of the copse. We are holding just inside the tree line, the xenos are just on the far side and are observing the woods. Request instructions”
“Dark Angels stand to! Judah hold and observe, dual columns of march, 1st squad, command group, 3rd squad, 9th squad, 5th squad. Speeders sweep east and watch for xenos reinforcements. Brother Symon let the Chaplain know we are starting early, if they are close to the copse we will have to attack as soon as we approach so he will begin his attack in 10 minutes. We should arrive and be ready within minutes of that, hitting the xenos in the flank as they react to his demonstration.” Balthasar hefted his relic blade, combi gun slung at his side. “Let our enemies repent, for tomorrow they die!”
The squads divided by combat squad, 1st squad spreading out in two columns, the command group in a blob behind them, another tactical squad split behind the first squad’s columns, the devastators heavy weapons behind them, and finally the Iron Armor of the 5th squad noisily bringing up the rear. The cache of ancient armor had been a boon and a symbol to the men, but the heavy, clanking suits required special handling tactically. They could give away the entire assault, but they were uniquely suited to leading the assault as well, and Balthasar’s brain whirred away at the interesting problem of passing them forward without giving away the vital element of surprise.
Just as the trees came into view the sound of heavy weapons echoed over the advancing marines. Chaplain Maccabeus has kicked off the attack nearly perfectly and Balthasar’s deep voice boomed out over the vox and speakers “5th squad, direct advance through the copse, 7th swing to the right and assault into the enemy rear once they leave their positions, 1st and 3rd oblique left into battle line, 9th get your weapons up onto the hill to the left of the woods, Matthias wait until the enemy leave their fortifications then attack them in the open with your speeders. In the Emperor’s name, advance!”