Swamps of M’Boto: Of Arms and Armor
The Angels commanders entered Colonel Akinye’s tent, the Colonel and his staff were already standing. The staff braced to attention and the Colonel bowed low and made the sign of the aquila.
“Welcome Master Balthasar. We are honored you have returned.” He said, with a vague questioning tone. “We were just planning the defense of the positions you captured. Without your astartes we wouldn’t have had a chance to hold them, but we would have fought as long as we stood, then fought on on our knees, and then fallen forward to fight in the prone!” He raised his fist in a triumphant pump, not noticing that his speech had done little to brace the spirit of his staff.
“Well Colonel, now we are back and I doubt that will be necessary. Have your soldiers guard the woods to the north of the position my demi-company secured several days ago. We will secure the hill and the trees beneath it. And try not to give too many speeches to the men. Few words, but heartfelt is best.” Balthasar said. He heard a distinct click as Maccabeus turned off his vox-speaker.
Balthasar inclined his head to the Colonel and turned to leave the tent. As they walked out into the light of the twin moons, Maccabeus voice came up over the command channel. “That idiot had as good as given in to defeat before the battle had started, and he was more than halfway to convincing his men that they were defeated before the fighting started.”
“Why do you think I told him to not give any more speeches Brother Chaplain.”
“I nearly choked when you did. Have we a plan?”
“I expect the Xenos to come from the Northeast. Mostly infantry, try to blast us off the hill. Battlesuits and Hover-tanks will rush down the road between the trees and the hill. My demi company will defend with the Razorback squads on the north side of the hill, the Devastators will guard the peak, I’ll be with the 5th and my command squad in the trees, and the assault squad will be behind the south end of the hill, ready to counter-attack in either direction, with our Ravenwing support close to hand. These xenos are cautious Their first attack will not be fully blooded. The librarian and his terminators are aboard the ship if we need them. You will take your demi-company north to back up the main line, but do not engage if you do not need to. I want to be ready to counter attack, and we’ll want the full company for that.”
Balthasar shrugged his shoulders, rolling them around in his armor. “Let us go to our camp. The Colonel will hold the hill for the night and we will advance before dawn. Have the weapons blessed and anointed with oils, debrief the brothers of the 7th, and let us prepare for battle.”
With that he strode off alone. A pavilion had been prepared by the M’Boton Cheetas. It was filled with all sorts of furs and luxuries. Balthasar placed his weapons on the table, and carefully removed his armor. The rack the M’boton troops had provided for it groaned under the weight but bore up. Balthasar mused on this for a moment. A portent he was sure, the men of M’boto might bend, might creak and shudder under the weight, but they would bear it.
His weapons he oiled, a fine Relic blade. One of the last ever made on Caliban. The low gothic runes spelled out “Arnot” on the blade. The bluish-black steel shined under the oil. To his hands it felt pitted, like a worn down mountain face. He knew better than to test it. Even without power the ancient weapon cut through astartes armor like paper, and even tanks suffered under the powered blade. Reverently he placed it in the cradle on the rack. He stripped down his bolter, chanting the ancient rhymes of maintenance, reverently oiling each piece and carefully replacing them feeling each action slide in perfectly. He wasn’t sure when his next chance to prepare would be, and he rejoiced in the simple, soldierly task in the simple white robe packed deep within his simple satchel of gear for campaigns.
his armor he carefully inspected and maintained. Starting with the boots he scrubbed the mud and dust off, checking the hinges and joints, working up the greaves and knee pads, he checked the flex-joints for tearing. He carefully inspected the symbols of chapter and company. The banner bearing his own personal heraldry he unrolled and placed on its pole. He finally hefted the breastplate of his armor and cleaned it reverently. Carefully polishing the edges he cleaned the plastron, and checked the lining on the inside, the tubes and hoses all connected, the connections cleaned. Finally he cleaned the blade of the Dark Angels from handle to hilt, and then the wings of the Angels and the Aquila. Carefully he placed it back on the rack, listening to the groan as the grey wood took the weight. He took a moment to admire the carving on the armor stand. No simple piece, hastily assembled; it bore the marks of a craftsman. Not an ornament for a kings hall, but a gift to a leader of warriors on campaign. He called the Chaplain one last time to check in, and, finding all to his liking he set his vox bead to wake him at any signal and cast himself on the cot carefully so as not to break it and let his awareness slip away.