The Spinward Arm Crusade

Priorities

Commissar Lund was a realist.

He walked among the tents of the 10th Dokkalgard Dragoons as they prepared for their mission, visiting each squad and giving words of encouragement to each. Lund was continually impressed by the skill and professionalism of these men. In his time since the Schola Progenium, Lund had served with several regiments, and seen combat many times, and he knew he was lucky to have been assigned to the Dragoons for the last three years.

And, he thought, they were lucky to have him. Lund knew of many commissars who took a much harsher stance, handing out punishment for very minor, or even imagined infractions, to keep the soldiers of their regiments in line. As a junior commissar, Lund had served under one such commissar, a great bear of a man named Crane, and on more than one occasion Crane had ordered Lund to lash guardsmen. After the first lashing, as he worked with the men of that regiment, it hadn’t been obedience or fear that he saw in their faces. It had been hatred. After being reassigned, Lund had heard that Crane had been killed in battle, but he always had his suspicions.

With the Dokkalgard, Lund took a much different approach. As common to their death-world upbringing, the men were cold and unfriendly to Lund, an outsider. While always short of insubordinate, Lund had always been aware of the gulf between he and the men, and had often fretted about what to do.

It was just after a major victory when he caught Draven and Miles selling their homemade brew. The men were in good spirits, celebrating the surrendering of the enemy after the Dragoons had captured several key locations behind the lines, and the pair of troublemakers were making a killing peddling their rotgut. Lund had dropped with the Dragoons and made a good account of himself, killing an enemy officer in hand-to-hand combat, and so was feeling pretty good himself.

Instead of disciplining the men, he made a deal. In exchange for Lund looking the other way, Draven and Miles wouldn’t supply alcohol during operations, and wouldn’t bring obscura or other dangerous drugs into the regiment. The two stillers had readily agreed, knowing that the deal was far better than a trip to the stockade (or worse), and had even thrown in a bottle for the commissar’s own use.

After that, word had gotten around that Lund was an alright guy. He still had to dole out punishment, of course. The Dragoons had nearly 3000 men, and no group that size was without sin, but with each transgression, Lund maintained a balance between the good of the regiment and the pursuit of justice. For for the most part, the infractions were minor- assault, drunk and disorderly, or drug abuse, and Lund believed the men of the regiment agreed that the punishments he assigned for these transgressions were quite fair, especially compared to those outlined in the Uplifting Primer. In fact, in his three years with the regiment, Lund had only had to make a single execution- a loader from G company who everyone had agreed was a little ‘off’ had taken liberties with a local woman.

Lund had performed the act himself instead of arranging a firing line- it was ultimately his duty, and unlike Crane, Lund would never ask anyone else to do it for him. He had worried that the act of killing one of their kinsmen could set back the progress he had made with the regiment, but it quickly became clear that, if anything, they respected him more.

Now, as he walked the camp, he was greeted warmly, the men saluting or even shaking his hand, and he traded banter with some of the men as they prepared their gear for the afternoon’s drop. Stopping for a moment outside one of the tents, Lund again reflected on how proud he was to serve with such sharp, professional soldiers.

Pushing the tent flap aside, Lund stepped inside and stopped, bewildered.

The five guardsmen of 2nd Platoon, 4th Squad, were in various states of dress, an empty supply box with the markings scratched out in the middle of the room. One trooper, his back to Lund, was wearing a bulky, non-regulation void suit and was struggling to get out of it with the help of the others. Why anyone would need a void suit while on planet was something of a mystery, as was where the thing had come from (although Lund had an inkling). The guardsmen all froze when they saw the commissar- most of the squad had recently joined the regiment and he hadn’t had a chance to interact with them much- Lund suspected they thought they were looking at their doom Holding in his laughter with all his might, Lund quickly mumbled something about luck and the Emperor’s protection, and quickly left the squad to whatever they were doing.

Chuckling as he moved on to the next tent, Lund resolved to spend a bit more time with squad B-2/4, partially because he was curious about the void suit, but mostly because he hadn’t had a good laugh in quite some time.

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Ambush
Drake Bravo Two Four ambushes an enemy patrol

Their luck was running out. Drop-Troops clad in thick carapace armor, the Dragoons were not accustomed to hiding, but they’d been doing an awful lot of it on this mission, and they weren’t great at it.

Tired and sore from hunkering down in the steep debris field overnight, the soldiers of 4th Squad, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company had crept up to the road, less than a kilometer from the fortress on the peak of the mountain. Earlier that night, while creeping up to the fort, someone had stepped on a loose piece of debris. A small shift in the hunk of metal or ceramite had loosened a couple neighboring pieces, and those pieces loosened more. In seconds, a small avalanche of debris tumbled down the slope, alerting the fort and forcing the squad to take cover from searchlights and spotters.

But now, the patrol they had successfully avoided yesterday was returning up the road, and they were caught between the two. They had to make a decision- run or fight?

To the Dokkalgard Dragoons, it was an easy choice.

At 16 feet tall, and sporting an autocannon, the Sentinel was the biggest threat. An armored body meant that the lasguns most of the squad carried would be useless, and it was entirely possible that they’d be spotted before it got into range of their most potent weapon. Hidden amongst the debris as the patrol approached, the Dragoons held their breaths in anticipation.

Maybe they were tired from the 24-hour patrol, or maybe the Dragoons had picked up some tricks in the last few days, whatever the reason, the patrol moved into the kill-zone without giving any indication they saw the hidden soldiers.

Teodor, the Medic, took the first shot, waiting until the walker had moved as close as he was comfortable. The meltagun made a loud tearing sound as water suspended in the air instantly evaporated, and then the beam struck the side armor of the vehicle, the sound of the blast echoing off the surrounding mountains and debris. The armor plates on the Sentinel’s right side buckled and the blast ripped them from the hull, exposing servos and even giving glimpses into the pilot’s compartment beyond.

The Stormtrooper in charge of the squad opened fire on the 6 infantrymen following the tall vehicle. Snapping off three rapid shots with his hotshot lasgun, and hitting a man with each- dropping two with solid shots to the chest, and punching a hole through the 3rd’s arm.

Echo, the heavy gunner, grinned maniacally as he held the trigger down on his heavy bolter. In his haste to join in the killing, his first burst almost entirely missed the hulking machine.

Almost.

A single bolt- a self-propelled round nearly an inch in diameter, punched through the ruined side armor and into the vehicle’s core before the explosive warhead triggered, igniting fuel and ammunition in a towering explosion that the forces at the nearby fort were sure to notice. Debris hammered into the remaining secessionist troops as the overpressure-wave knocked them flat, and Echo’s follow-up burst raked through their prone bodies, the explosive rounds pulping them.

Not wasting time checking the bodies, the Dragoons quickly moved uphill along the road and set up another hasty ambush. The previous night, they had seen a Chimera at the fort’s gate, and now it came roaring down the road to investigate the explosion. The Dragoons recognized it as a Hellhound flame-tank as it approached, and its turret began to traverse, noticing Echo’s black armor among the rough terrain by the road. Though the hellstorm flame-cannon would surely have roasted the gunner alive, it never got a chance to fire.

The meltagun fired twice, the first blast only singing the side armor of the metal beast, but the second ripped into the tracks and drive, dropping the speeding vehicle’s nose into the road, the momentum causing the comparatively light rear of the vehicle to flip over the front, the machine coming to rest upside down in the middle of the road. Echo’s explosive bolter rounds quickly ignited the vast reserves of promethium stored in the back, intended as ammunition for the flamer, and the vehicle was quickly engulfed in a fiery explosion.

They had fought, and survived, but they were still all alone and facing a fort full of enemy forces, who had surely noticed the twin explosions.

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Virbius Snatch & Grab
First Deployment

Order of Battle
Operation Iron Bee

Preliminaries

Individual Platoon briefings to begin after morning mess, approximately 0900. A through F Companies to be ready for deployment no later than 1400. G Company to be ready for deployment no later than 1200.

Ground

Enemy forces on this planet have been providing stiff resistance in spite of the greater force of arms the Imperial forces have brought. The enemy strikes vulnerable points with great speed and accuracy, preferring to ambush supply convoys and attack isolated units, to engaging our forces openly. Intelligence gathered so far indicates that the Secessionist General Scarus is in overall command of forces on this planet, and is coordinating forces from an undiscovered location. Previous encounters with forces under this general indicate that he is a capable leader with a excellent grasp of tactics, which would account for the fact that the Secessionist forces have fought our advance to a standstill in spite of our superior forces.

Situation

Enemy forces are estimated to deploy in the squad- to company-level range and appear to be very adept at ambush and hit-and-run operations. Enemy forces have been observed using light vehicles, including Sentinel walkers and Chimera APCs, and have moderate air support.

Mission

Search for Secessionist General Scarus’ base of operations, and kill or capture the general.

Execution

Dokkalgard forces will drop in squad force, with the platoon and company leaders remaining in designated positions and setting up interconnecting vox-nets. Squads are free to operate in their designated AO as they see fit once on the ground. Squads are expected to periodically check in with their Platoon commanders, and report any appropriate discoveries. Deployment is via Valkyrie transports, and extraction is expected to be via the same. Be aware that the unusual storm activity on the planet may delay aircraft or alter flight routes.

Service Support

Each squad shall be issued vox scrambling equipment and rations for one (1) month. Additionally, any squad that does not regularly deploy with anti-armor weaponry shall be issued a missile launcher or meltagun. h3.

Command and Signal

Dokkalgard forces are to use frequency Kappa Lambda 2. When communicating to other regiments, any Dokkalgard unit is to identify with call-sign ‘Drake’ plus the company letter designator, platoon and squad numbers. For example, Drake Alpha Two-Two would be A Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Company. Daily radio checks are to be conducted as per company norms.

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