Some of us survived. Some of us became official Imperial Guardsmen. It was a long trip to that point, and I'll be honest, lots of it is a blur. A painful blur, where I'm certain my mouth was open too often.
We were all rounded up for our first mission with very little in the way of a break between the completion of our training and our deployment. The transport was huge, with many other units from other regiments on it as well.
Those of us that were gathered together were faces that I recognized, one way or another.
Sarge: I don't know the sergeant's real name. I've never asked. I talk a lot, to almost everyone, but I tend to avoid Sarge. I've seen lots of horrible stuff and it doesn't make me flinch, so why do I avoid Sarge? Sarge talks to his knives, and I'm pretty sure they answer him. Someone in a position of authority that is dangerously insane? Better to stay out of line of sight.
Chef: Sarge's personal assistant is suppose to be a great cook. Sarge talks about him all of the time, and we hear him shouting orders to him. I still haven't seen him, and after the incident with the knives, I'm not sure if Chef actually exists or not.
Creaky: The oldest person in our group, the man's a scrapper and a survivor, and carries around Reaper's ammo for him. Usually complaining about it.
Brother "Doc": Because they can't quite trust a penal regiment to be morally upright, we have Brother Doc with us. Doc has horrible luck. After several accidents while he was tending to our moral development in training, somehow we started calling him Doc, and despite being the text book Ministorum priest, he didn't have us disciplined or killed for it, so he's okay with me.
Lucky: Lucky is, as his name would indicate, the luckiest individual any of us know. He happens onto good fortune like a Commissar upon bad behavior. That's why most of us agreed that he should be Doc's personal assistant. I'm sure Doc would explain to us the failings in this metaphysical logic, be we all thought that maybe their luck would cancel one another's out and overall Doc wouldn't die and cause us to have a Ministorum priest with a worse disposition sent to us.
Cort: Cort is soft spoken, and as unshaken about horrible events as I am. We talked about all of the things we've seen, and tried to one up one another. Neither one of us flinched. Cort has bright eyes and an enjoyable disposition. She might be the girl of my dreams, except I'm not entirely sure that she is female. I've only ever seen her (him?) in full gear. Every once in a while I think her (his) hands might be a little big . . . there isn't really a good way to resolve this is there?
Bam Bam: I don't know Bam Bam as well as Reaper, but he's our heavy weapon guy. He likes to shoot big things, which is good, because that's what he does. He's got his heavy stubber disassembled to sit under his seat, and every once in a while I notice that he looks a little worried about all of those pieces that are down there.
Alt: Alt is Bam Bam's second. Everytime someone says anything, Alt is against it. He's a natural born dissenter, and I'm pretty sure that he'll get shot by someone official before the day is out. Hopefully he won't get shot on full auto when Bam Bam is nearby. Bam Bam seems like the kind of guy I don't want to see get shot. I think.
We hit turbulence, and Sarge managed to hear our orders that we were going in hot and to have our gear ready, even though the rest of us just heard static mumbling. I'm hoping that he was actually hearing the Vox and not his other voices.
As soon as the ship hits the ground, the landing door is open. We're already out of our element, as we got used to be thrown out of these things, not walking down the boarding ramp. Apparently the turbulence was enemy fire, and the ship is burning. Sarge orders Chef to help put the ship out. I still don't see Chef at this point.
Bam Bam struggles to put his gun back together. The rest of us head out and see a mass of greenskins in our landing zone. Orks and gretchins, all over the place. But they haven't closed yet. We've got combat shotguns, and they've got, well, Ork stuff, so we have to close before we can fire on them.
I take off after the leading edge of the guardsmen, along with Cort, and we move from cover to cover, trying to keep close to the potential wounded. At this point, while every one else is carefully finding their range and taking cover, ready to shoot at the Orks as they get closer, Doc and Lucky go running head on towards the Orks, chainsword in the air, bellowing out Ministorum litanies.
It occurs to me that I'm either going to have a lot of chances to patch up Doc, or I'm not going to have to patch him up for very long. In any event, Cort and I moved up to keep our voice of the Emperor alive, if we could get to him in time.
Bam Bam and Alt started laying down fire with the stubbers, Sarge headed into the fray once he got the efforts to put out the fires on the ship underway, and Reaper and Creaky started to advance close enough to use the flamers.
Doc tore into the gretchins around him, and then got nearly clobbered by the Ork nearby. I finally moved near him, and waved my mono knife around in a manner that impressed no one. In between swings I hit Doc with some pain killers and some clotting compound, and when we didn't have any Orks within arm's reach, I pulled out my shotgun.
Cort and I fire off a few rounds in the same general area. Most of my shots didn't even get through the Ork's thick hides, let alone their armor, but I drew some . . . fluid from them. Within a few minutes, we had most of the Orks contained, except for one that Reaper set on fire.
That particular Ork was running around in circles saying, "I'z on fire! I'z on fire! I'z dooin the burney dance!"
Amazingly this went on for a while. He just wouldn't drop, even though he was obviously distressed by his situation. We ended up forming a wider circle around where he was running around, made sure we didn't catch one another in the crossfire, and opened up until he was finally put out of his misery.
We have met the enemy, and he is dense.
We had to lug all of the gear off the transport, and started to set up base camp. I know the Orks were scary, and I know I shouldn't think this, but I almost wish there were more wounded so I could have gotten out of the manual labor. I'd much rather look at a hacked off arm than carry crates and make camp.
I tried to talk to some of the Long Knives Regiment, but they didn't seem to care for me much. I want to tell myself that it's because they were looking down on a Penal Colony Regiment, and not because I can't shut up and may have been a little critical about how little they were pulling their weight when it came to hauling crates off the transport.
I wanted to get Doc into bed rest so I could make sure he got healed up, but we weren't going to have time for that, so I reminded myself to check in on him before we got going in the morning, and I settled in to sleep for a scant few hours before we saw more action.
Just before I fell asleep, I remembered that I forgot to look for Chef to see if he really existed.