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.
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.