Pre-dawn on the third day after landing.
The greenish-brown mist which hangs perpetually over the waters of the Hellfens slowly rises, lazy steam to the warmth of the morning light stretching out over the sleepy expanse.
The squad is called before the platoon commander, Lt. Mormont.
Assembled in the Administratum Building, in the underground auditorium, the group is given an urgent mission.
To cross the Hellfens and link up with the garrison at Forward Point Alpha. Garrison commander Rourke, of the 88th Light Infantry Regiment (of the mining world of Oertha), has not reported back to Sector Command for two days.
The platoon question Kroot presence and local troop dispositions but are soon finished their briefing and setting about their task of obtaining their Mission-Assignment-Gear and heading off across the Hellfens.
It takes the platoon two hours of waiting in line to acquire their Mission-Assignment-Gear and, remarkably, receive most of what they are issued. However, instead of a crate of Demolition packs they instead receive a crate of Dress uniforms, Calisi issue, Ogyrn sized: a fine and necessary equipment issue, obviously in preparation for the eventuality that Ogyrn may one day join any Calisi force.
Commissar Dragonov collects the walking wounded returned to duty, which are assigned to the platoon for transport back to the 88th. Dragonov interrigates the squad for signs of cowardace and decides to keep an eye on a particular miscriant named Mike, whose face was disfigured by a Kroot plasma weapon blast…(ironic considering the Commissars fate…)
The squad is eventually underway, augmented with the company HQ command Chimera, a squad of guardsman, and a heavy bolter.
The trek across the Hellfens is a long, unpleasant affair, the murky uneven fens creating a dangerous and uncomfortable environment for travel. Progressing through contested territory requires an open top with pintle mounted weapons ready which exposes everyone to the horrendous stench of the decay-filled waters of the Hellfens, made even worse as the amphibioius Chimera churns up the long resting muck of the marsh floor bringing ancient rot to the surface.
Kain’s expert navigation skills enable the squad to make good time across the Hellfens and avoid one of the dangers inherit to the area: large, black, hidden sinkholes which have a undercurrents capable of sucking large fallen trees completly beneath the surface in violent and sudden action.
During their hours of stentch-ridden, slow-crawling trekking across the swamp the group see large amphibian predators laying beneath the oily water-line, each several metres in length. There are hundreds of these creatures lazily wallowing in the rank waters of the Hellfens, sometimes the groups can see a dozen or more at a time, and rarely is one not visible within a few hundred metres of the squad.
Several hours into their journey the commissar, who is diligently manning the bolter fixed to the lead Chimera, hears a distant electric thumping sound coming from far above him. As he looks up a high-pitched slow hum reverberates across the swampy waters as it passes over head. The commissar sees a long line of pillowy black smoke trailing to earth behind a firey ball spewing ash as it arcs across the sky and then disappears on the horizon followed by a muffled and distant roar.
The troop quickly recognise the distinctive whimpering of tau cannon and the whine of a hammerhead passing overhead. The group decide to detour and investigate the downed craft.
Without radioing in, the patrol turns 45 degrees and makes for the presmed crash-site.
The endless bright greens, drab olives, and murky browns of the endless fens merge and confuse Kain, lead driver. The party searches for hours before giving up on what should have been an easy and straight forward task. Not wishing to waste anymore time the squad sets about returning to the course Kain previosly laid out and get back on mission…but they are now lost, and critical hours pass before the APCs find their way back to their original detour point.
It takes several more hours of monotonous driving, in filthy, cold, stinking waters before the squad reaches the drier shores of the Hellfens where the land slowly starts to rise from the fetted muck into the highland ridges which crisscross their way up to the Kromon plateau.
The sun succummed to the ridgeline several hours previous and the party has been using its driving lights to navigate to within 1km of FP Alpha.
Aware that they have most likely alerted the occupants of FP Alpha to presence of the APCs and receiving no reply from hails, the group halts and sends off a scouting element while the squad remains with full driving lights towards the base to entice a patrol.
While the scouting party (Mac and Kain) are flanking the base to gain higher ground, the APCs come under sudden and violent attack. The sentries in the cupolas do not see the advancing Kroot who approach from the sides where no lights are shining. Several Kroot make physical contact with the vehicles before the alarm is raised (in the form of bolter fire from the rear vehicle).
Las fire, plasma blasts, and bolter fire erupts in brilliant arcs, and in the ensuing battle Commissar Dragonov is seemingly blasted by several enemy energy rounds, as he mans the lead pintle gun – he disappears from view under a series of blue-white explosions.
The fight is over as suddenly as it started as the Kroot rapdily withdraw before the Imperials can mount a more organised resistance, and Josiah immediately attends the lead vehicle to check the body of their beloved leader.
God-Emperor be praised! Miraclulously Dimitri has survived, although his face has received a severe plasma burn. Josiah performs first aid.
The scouting team, after reaching their vantage oint on the far side of the base are only able to discern the 5m plascrete walls, sentry towers, and crude fires inside the comlex. Unable to gain any concrete intel because of the darkness and lack of magnification equipment, they see the fire-fight break out and decide to return to the main group. On-route, the team spies a Kroot war-party heading back from the APCs. They team immediately open fire catching the otherwise fast moving Kroot unawares. Mac cuts down three in one long burst of his hellgun, while Kain frags the area. They quickly check the bodies and move on.
Everyone re-groups and it is decided that the squad should halt and wait until dawn to assault the base.
During the night, the squad comes under sparodic hit and run attacks and lose one of the walking wounded guardsman. Nearly everyone suffers from lack of sleep, but esecially Kain who stayed awake all night working on the Chimera’s track malfunction.