Edited from original, for your pleasure.
The Gunnery SergeantOne
15:32 Standard Hours 138.559 M40 14th Battalion Base Lembis IX
The Gunnery Sergeant kicked open the rusty door, silencing the men of Recon platoon. They were an ugly bunch, the Gunney noted, a mixture of petty criminals, teenagers and fat laggards.
‘’Listen up, ladies,’’ the Gunnery Sergeant – a big, ugly man with bulging muscles and a sinister moustache – snarled in their faces,’’ I’m your new Gunnery Sergeant. You nitwits have had it easy the last couple of months. Well, let me tell you, I’m nothing like your old Gunney. Outside, immediately!’’
The men scrambled out. The Gunnery Sergeant counted 22 of them. There were 25 men in the platoon, including the Gunney and Lieutenant Holefield, who bunked elsewhere. So where was the last man?
Walking through the platoon barracks, the Gunney spotted the last man – a big, blonde Lance-Corporal – snoring on his bunk. The Gunney let his rage build before letting it out.
‘’What in hell’s name are you doing?’’ he bellowed in the mans face, who snapped awake, ‘’Up! Up! Move your fat backside, you son of a- and get outside!’’
After the LC ran outside, the Gunney followed him. He screamed at the men to get in line, before surveying them. The LC was only wearing his polkadot underwear, and the rest had casual clothes on.
‘’Colonel Montgomery,’’ the Gunney spoke aloud to them all, ‘’Has transferred me from 1st Battalion to train you pitiful sods. Your PDF Battalion is going to be deployed to frontline action in 3 weeks, and I’m supposed to get your sorry backsides ready for that day. We begin tomorrow. Now get the hell out of my sight. Except you
’’ He pointed at the Lance-Corporal, ‘’Get dressed, full gear, then give me ten laps round the base. I’ll be watching.’’
‘’Did that ugly bugger say we’re being deployed in three weeks?’’ PFC Grenz asked some of the other members of Recon platoon in the Battalion bar that night. Grenz was of average build, bald and dark-skinned, and had a ridiculously high-pitched voice.
‘’I dunno, but he’s gonna pay for messing with me,’’ Hebrevre replied. Hebrevre was the LC the Gunney had picked on.
‘’No you aren’t,’’ Private Sheww said to Hebrevre, ‘’That Gunney’s a Maniac. I think he could take anybody. It’s the way he looks at you. Scary.’’
‘’Someone should teach him a lesson,’’ Hebrevre finished, ‘’that’s all I’m saying.’’
‘’You call that shooting?!’’ The Gunnery Sergeant raged, ‘’My grandmothers better than you! And she’s dead!’’
Recon platoon was on the shooting range, along with 14th Battalion’s A company, led by Colonel Montgomery. A company was making mincemeat out of Recon platoon, with an average hit rate of 64% to Recon’s 37%.
At the end of the session, the Gunney got everyone who scored 50% or below in front of him. This was the majority of the platoon, including Grenz and Hebrevre. Sheww had scored 51%.
‘’You,’’ the Gunney said to them, ‘’Are the most pathetic group of useless morons I have ever had to deal with. You deserve no respect or recognition for anything we do. From now on, you will be called Balls-up 1, Balls-up 2, Balls-up 3…’’ And so it went on. Grenz was Balls-up 8.
When he came to Hebrevre, he stopped. ‘’You are Big-Balls. The worst of the worst. Especially since you are my new adjutant, I will make you look even worse.’’ Then the Gunney screamed at them all ‘’Do bloody better next time, or I will kick each and every one of your backsides so hard when you need a dump the brown stuff comes out of your mouth! Dismissed!’’
A week later, after the Gunney’s incessant insults and complaints, Recon platoon were to take part in a training exercise with platoons A3, B3 and C3. Recon platoon were teamed up with C3, led by lieutenant Green, an old friend of the Gunnery Sergeant. Green was glad of the Gunney – not so glad of the rest of them, Lieutenant Holefield included.
The ‘’arena’’ was set up in the valley between 2 steep hills, covered in long grass and large coniferous trees. C3 was on their teams left, and Recon platoon on the right.
Flanking maneuvers. A textbook move. Disaster guaranteed.
Lieutenant Holefield had split the platoon into three squads. Holefield had 1st (a 5-man squad), and they would back up either 2nd squad (Gunney’s men, including Sheww) or 3rd squad (Hebrevre’s mob, including Grenz).
Hebrevre was on Recon’s left, closest to C3. Of course, he didn’t know this, and when he saw a platoon of PDF moving on his left he assumed it was the enemy moving in the wrong direction.
To Hebrevre’s credit, C3 didn’t see him coming. When they were all eliminated by low-level las-fire (harmless, but if you were hit you knew about it), Hebrevre called up Holefield’s squad using his micro-bead, to ask him to sweep left to look for any more enemies.
‘’You idiot!’’ Holefield hissed at Hebrevre, ‘’You killed our own team! Can’t you tell? They have red bands on their arms, just like us! If you ever, ever
, do something this stupid again, I’ll set the Gunnery Sergeant on you. Though he’ll probably find out anyway…’’
Then las-fire rained in on the 2 squads. While the leaders were busy arguing, some A3 soldiers had snuck up on them, and 5 or 6 were out before Hebrevre realised what was happening.
Holefield triggered his micro-bead, ‘’1st and 3rd to 2nd, we are pinned. Requesting ass- oh, crap. Man out!’’
‘’What the hell has that nitwit done now?’’ The Gunney muttered to himself, then called ‘’2nd squad! Follow me!’’
As they moved round to Hebrevre’s position, they walked straight into an ambush, because the men watching the flank weren’t doing their job. Only the Gunnery Sergeant and Private Sheww escaped, and seemingly disappeared. The ambushers couldn’t find them, but were stuck, one by one, by paint sticks.
1st and 3rd were all eliminated. However, their team still won. Members of A3 and B3 slowly trickled out of the arena, with paint splodges on their flak armour.
Evantually, they were all out. The Gunney and Sheww had taken them all out.
The Gunnery Sergeant earned unconditional respect from Recon Platoon that day. They realised that when they were deployed in under 2 weeks – no idea where to – they were lucky they had the Gunney to lead them. Two
19:30 standard hours 156.559 M41 Battalion Briefing Room Lembis IX
‘’The equatorial islands, gentlemen,’’ Colonel Montgomery said to the men of 14th Battalion – 325 infantry, 9 Leman Russ tank crews and 23 Heavy Weapons Platoon members - , ‘’This is where we are going. A Chaos cult was discovered in the island cluster’s lower ranks, almost 20 000 strong. They rose up and captured all 5 islands, declaring them free of the Imperium. We are going in to kill the cultists and rescue any captured loyalists. Our Battalion is going to Eudamac island, along with 12th Battalion and 15th Battalion. Recon platoon will be grav-chuted in, and will secure the village of Magascar, while the rest of the Battalion performs an amphibious assault on West beach. Further orders will be given when Magascar is secured. The PDF battleship Cruiser
will transport us there. We board at dawn tomorrow. Dismissed.’’
This sucks, man,’’ Grenz announced in the bar that evening, ‘’I know Recon is supposed to go in first, but what about 12th’s Recon? Or 15th’s?’’
‘’What I heard,’’ Sheww said, ‘’is that 12th Battalion is being deployed on North beach, and 15th is going in on South-East beach, so their Recon platoons are tied up capturing other villages. So yeah, this sucks.’’
‘’You just heard that from the Gunney,’’ Hebrevre teased, ‘’You being his golden boy n’all.’’
‘’Hey, its not my fault those ambushers missed me in the exercise,’’ Sheww replied, ‘’And you’re just jealous. If you hadn’t been asleep the first day he might not hate you.’’
‘’He hates everybody,’’ Pvt. Copper cut in from another table, ‘’He just hates Hebby more than most.’’
At dawn on the 159th day of 559.M40, Recon platoons assigned Valkyrie transports grav-chuted the 25 men just north of Magascar town. ‘Town’ was a laughable term – only 8000 people lived there before
Holefield had asked the Gunnery Sergeant to keep an eye on Hebrevre while they were on-board the Cruiser
, and explained what the Lance-Corporal had done to the C3 squad in the training exercise. The Gunney let rip in unconsiderable fashion.
‘’Big Balls!’’ He bellowed, making Hebrevre come running, ‘’I heard about what happened in the arena. I’m not going to get angry… yet. You are now transferred to my squad, and Private Sheww will become 3rd Squad leader. Sheww!’’
Sheww came running. ‘’Sir?’’
‘’Field promotion,’’ Gunney said to him, ‘’Lance-Corporal. You’re now in charge of 3rd Squad. Follow orders, and don’t mess it up as badly as Big Balls here did.’’
‘’Now sod off,’’ Gunney growled, ‘’Just because you’re Lance-Corporal doesn’t mean you’re special. And Big Balls? Get the hell out of my sight.’’
‘’Spread out!’’ The Gunnery Sergeant hissed to 2nd Squad. They were about half a kilometre from Magascar town, and coming up on a squad of dug-in cultists occupying a cluster of wooden buildings in a hayfield. Holefield’s 1st Squad was somewhere to the Gunney’s right, coming in to flank the cultists. Sheww’s 3rd squad had completely missed the farm complex and was near the bridge that crossed Eudamac’s only river, into Magascar town.
‘’Supressive fire on the farm complex,’’ Holefield told Gunney down the comm.-link, ‘’Buy us time to come in and flank them.’’
‘’Roger,’’ Gunney replied, before hissing ‘’Supressive fire! Now!’’
2nd Squad opened up. Because the job wasn’t to kill any of the grey-robed cultists, just keep them ducking, the squad blazed away happily. As they did so, Gunney drew a bead on a cultist who thought he was in cover, dropping him. Then he killed another, who was trying to set up a heavy bolter.
Holefield’s 5-man squad came within range, and wiped out the rest of the cowering cultists. As Gunney sent his squad forward to clear out the rest of the complex, he heard a distress signal over the comm.-link.
‘’Lieutenant! Sergeant! This is Sheww! At least twenty cultists are attacking my squad, and we have already suffered casualties! Requesting assistance!’’
‘’Stay put,’’ The Gunney told him, then turned to his squad; ‘’Sheww’s men are in trouble. Be quiet and stay quiet; let’s do this stealthily.’’
‘’Domino!’’ The Gunney hissed, ‘’Are you actually gonna use that damn gun, or wait ‘till you can fart them to death?’’
‘’Sorry, Sarge,’’ Domino mumbled, before raising the barrel of his grenade launcher and aiming it at the biggest group of cultists. There was a dull thump and a satisfying explosion, before the cultists re-orientated themselves to face this new threat. This gave Sheww’s squad the time to return fire, so the confused cultists were whittled down and killed. Sheww’s squad came out of hiding to greet the Gunney’s.
There was only one dead – a private – and another two were injured. Sheww and Domino bound up one of the injured’s shattered arm, whilst Grenz filled up the others shoulder with biofoam. Hebrevre lifted the dead private and lowered his body into the river.
‘’I’m sorry, sir,’’ Sheww said to Gunney, ‘’There was nothing we could do. They were on us so fast – ‘’
‘’Its ok, Corporal,’’ Gunney told him, ‘’You did good. A lot of people would have frozen and really messed up. Especially that beslubberer Big Balls. Now get up, reorganize your squad and move out.’’
Recon platoon entered Magascar warily, expecting more fighting. Instead the civilian population came out, waving the Lembis IX international flag and cheering.
‘’P-D-F! P-D-F!’’ They chanted, offering the platoon brandy and fine meat. They said the cultists had gone, to repel the West beach landings. Holefield had still been cautious (after all, Chaos is not renowned for letting prisoners live, but the civvies said that most of the prisoners had been loaded up into big trucks and transported away to the centre of the island) and decided to detain the civilians in the town centre whilst Gunney’s squad swept the town. It was abandoned.
Colonel Montgomery and the rest of 12th Battalion arrived in Magascar town 2 hours later. The size of the Battalion had shrunk by about forty men, and 2 of the Leman Russ’ were missing.
Montgomery gave the orders; there was a large hill which gave an excellent vantage point with which to observe the enemy movements. Recon platoon were to scout the hill and capture it if at all possible.
It was also reported that there was enemy armour up the hill. To counter this, Recon platoon were assigned one of the heavy weapons platoon members – a short, bald man called Tanner – to them. Tanner was equipped with a missile launcher and had 8 rockets for it.
‘’it’s a ‘Death or Glory’ job, sir,’’ the Gunney remarked to Holefield, ‘’Take the hill or die trying. Probably die trying.’’Three
11:22 Standard hours 159.559 M40 Hill 05 Lembis IX
‘’Holefield!’’ The Gunney hissed down his comm.-link, ‘’There’s the top of the hill! Look closely; the cultists have fortified the building on the peak. Though I don’t think anybody’s home, or there’d be sentries on the roof.’’
‘’Good observations,’’ Holefield replied, ‘’Recon platoon! Advance!’’
‘’Wait! No no no no no no!’’ The Gunney said, ‘’It could be a trap!’’
Too late. Half the platoon had already waltzed out of the woods into the field, and the rest followed them.
It was a trap. Halfway up the field, a line of fifty cultists appeared to the cultists left, with three armoured cars in tow. Lasfire sparked from their ranks, and 3 of Holefield’s men were down before they realised it.
‘’Go! Go! Go!’’ the Gunney bawled, ‘’Into the house!’’
Grenz and Sheww went first, firing from the hip at the advancing enemies. Copper was right behind them, but las-shots messily cut up his face and chest. His body slumped against the wall.
Domino fired his grenade launcher, destroying one of the armoured cars. Then he was hit in the shoulder and span away. Hebrevre grabbed him and pulled him and pulled him the last few steps into the building. Behind them, Tanner was decapitated at the waist, and no-one thought to grab his missile launcher.
Another ten made it in to the building, including Holefield and the Gunnery Sergeant. The dead lay sprawled out across the field. Some of them may not have been dead, but there was no way in hell anybody was going to go get them.
Holefield activated his comm.-link. ‘‘Recon to command! We are on top of the hill and being assaulted! Heavy casualties have already been inflicted upon us! Requesting assistance!’’
‘’Hold on, Recon,’’ came the reply, ‘’The cavalry’s on its way. Command out.’’
Hebrevre had given Domino a handful of painkillers. His wound was superficial, but in Domino’s own words, ‘It hurts like hell, Hebby!’. As the heavy high smacked into his brain, he got up, went over to one of the windows and began firing. Hebrevre came up beside him and killed one of the armoured car’s commanders, who was firing a pintle mounted storm bolter.
A las-shot came through the window behind Sheww and hit him in the back of the head. His face exploded outwards, covering the man beside him in blood and brains.
‘’Behind us!’’ The Gunney screamed, ‘’Cover the rear windows!’’
Grenz, Holefield and 2 others turned round and began firing out of the rear windows. Thirty cultists had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, adding their fire to the assault.
A massive cannon shell hit one of the armoured cars, obliterating it and scything down five or six more cultists. A second shell vaporised the cultist commander, and a third destroyed the last armoured car.
The cultists fled, screaming in terror. The Gunnery Sergeant peeked out one of the windows, and saw 4 Leman Russ battle tanks rolling up the hill, followed by at least a hundred infantry.
Hebrevre dropped his lasgun and sat on the dusty floor. Against all expectations, Recon platoon had survived.
The Gunnery Sergeant led the platoon back to Magascar town. Hebrevre was carrying Holefield in a fireman’s lift. The lieutenant had been shot in the chest in the closing stages and was probably not going to live much longer.
The surviving members of Recon platoon – seven men, including the Gunney, Holefield, Hebrevre, Grenz and Domino – traipsed into the town, to a hero’s welcome. They would later be informed that they had held off the vanguard of a serious enemy counter-attack long enough so reinforcements could come and repel the heretics. The main force, almost two thousand strong, was decimated in the valley east of Magascar town.
Eudamac island fell 4 days later.
In Magascar town center, the Gunney bellowed for the platoon to form up. It was a pitiful sight, with two thirds of the original men dead.
The Gunney surveyed them, looking from one man to the next. They were all covered in dust and had at least minor injuries.
The Gunnery Sergeant saluted them. They all returned it instinctively.
The Gunnery Sergeant half-smiled, ‘’You’ll make decent soldiers yet.’’Aftermath
PFC Grenz was promoted to Corporal to fill Sheww’s vacated position.
Pvt. Domino was transferred to A company, and became the regiment’s best grenadier.
Lieutenant Holefield died from his injuries three after Hill 05. He was promoted to Major posthumously.
Hebrevre was sent to a hospital for the clinically insane, having gone crazy seeing most his friends die and taking the brunt of the Gunney’s insults.
The Gunnery Sergeant was conscripted into the Imperial Guard, where he became the most hard-nosed disciplinarian in the regiment. After all, he knows how to make a good job out of it.
*** THE END ***