Just a small story, about a Guardsman's drop into battle. Thought it would be nice to see and hear what would go through his mind, rather than focusing on battle. Enjoy!
Screaming filled his ears as the Valkyrie descended, shrieking like a bloody chorus. The crew compartment rocked from side to side, buffeted by the wind. Well, what he hoped was the wind. Twisting his helmet-covered head to the side, he made sure his lasgun was secure by his side, giving his thin body armour one last check. With glove-covered fingers, he pulled the strap of his curved helmet around and clipped it into position, stroking the Imperial Aquila over the forehead for luck. His boots were tight on his feet, his trousers comfortable. Not that it mattered. He was Guard, born to fight and die in the name of the almighty Emperor.
He knew this. His heart pounded in anticipation, shooting adrenaline through his system as the Valkyrie shook, the sound of explosions noticeable from beyond the thin metal walls. Others in the crew compartment fingered chains hanging with the Aquila or other lucky charms, some prayed, some shook in wordless fear. But he was calm. The Emperor was his salvation and would guide him through battle. His godlike hand would decide his fate, but the Guardsman did not mind what happened. He knew that to die in the Emperor's service was the highest honour of all. Air eased it's way in and out of his lungs, breathing through a straight mouth. He used to be considered handsome, back in his home. That was gone now, replaced by the touch of a dying comrade or the kiss of a bolt-round as it stroked past a cheek like a lover. He remembered a lover, what felt like a lifetime ago. Red hair, like the fire in the hearth, a smile more glorious than a blazing sunset. Gone, now. A child? Perhaps, if she was not dead, lost in the caress of death.
A smile cracked his face. The Emperor was his father now, these bodies in the Valkyrie his family. Their breath was a reminder that life was worthless without devotion to the Emperor. Something those below had forgotten. He thought he could hear the roar of thousands of voices, raised in praise to dark gods. Soon they would be reminded of mankind's true god, and redeemed in the holy fires of His Imperial Guard. Their blood would soak the streets, not as a sacrifice to foul powers, but a reminder that to turn from the Emperor's light demands retribution.
The Valkyrie juddered and slowed, jerking him from his reverie. Unstrapping himself from the seat, the guardsman pulled his lasgun into his hands, knowing it to be a reminder of the Emperor's fury. It felt good through his gloves, heavy and reassuring that he was a bringer of the Emperor's light. Taking his place at the Valkyrie's ramp, he stood. With shuffling feet, those in the compartment stood behind him. They knew what they had to do, and so did he. The flier hit the ground with a heavy impact, shaking him and almost making him fall. But he held firm, knowing the Emperor would guide him.The explosive bolts fired and the ramp fell, bright sunlight streaming in. Throwing himself forward, the guardsman charged down the ramp. Boots hit the frozen mud and his breath steamed in the cold. Something whickered past his ear and a wet noise was heard behind him as it hit flesh. Someone screamed.
He kept running forward. Salvation in death. The hail of fire increased how, flickering bolts of lasfire and the heavier noises of solid rounds, the majority of it directed towards him. He could see lines of men in front, unholy banners waving above scarred heads. Boots pounding on the ground, he snapped off a volley of shots at what could not be called men any more, unable to miss the packed layers of flesh. Some fell. The flashes of muzzles in front of him increased in response. A round cracked off his helmet and deflected off to the side, snapping his head to the side and making him stumble. He would not falter in the Emperor's service. With deft fingers, he set his lasgun to automatic and loosed a hail of shots, rewarded by falling bodies which were replaced with more. Something passed through his left arm, leaving a dull ache in it's passing. The limb went limp and it was all he could to to hold onto his lasgun with his right hand, pointing it at the enemy and pulling the trigger. Bright beams streaked in both directions. Where were his brothers? Dead? No time to look. His boots still pounded on the cracked, frozen ground. A line of shots ripped the fabric of his trousers, stitching neat bullet wounds on his lower right leg. He stumbled and fell to his knees, attempting to get up. His legs wouldn't respond, strangely. Raising his right arm again, the guardsman pulled the trigger, the weapon kicking in his hand. He felt numb.
Dropping his lasgun on the ground, he undid the strap of his helmet with the only hand that worked, pulling it off and placing it slowly and reverently on the ground. A bright beam passed through his chest, but it didn't hurt. Nothing hurt any more. Blinking slowly, he pulled his pistol from it's holster on his right leg, raising it to eye level and slowly snapping off shots. The bright beams seemed to take figures off their feet in slow motion now. Everything seemed to be quieter. Methodically aiming and firing the small weapon, he felt more shots pass through his chest and stomach, but still no pain. He wondered if this was the Emperor's doing. Most likely. With a final dry noise, the pistol's power pack ran dry and he placed it reverently on the ground, as a tool of the Emperor's fury deserved to be treated. He curled his hand around the grip of his rifle, but didn't have the strength to pick it up. With a sigh, he slid over onto his side, then his back to look at the sky. A slight breeze ruffled his short hair as white trails streaked overhead, trails left by rockets and gunships above. Constant chanting, but it didn't seem so overpowering now. His breathing became slower. Was he dying? If this was death, it didn't feel so bad. This is what the Emperor promises his Servants. He closed his eyes. The stark daylight was becoming too bright. It was more comfortable now. Everything seemed to be receding from his ears, the cries of battle drawing further away. The sunlight seemed to be dulling. Everything felt relaxed. The ground didn't feel so cold now.
It would be nice to lie here for a while and think about his service to the Emperor. Slowly moving a limp hand to his breast, the guardsman rested the tips of his fingers on the Aquila, chained around his neck with links of thin steel. Softly and drawing quieter, he spoke.
"The Emperor is our guiding light...A beacon of hope for humanity in a galaxy of darkness..."
With a final breath, his heart stopped.