mud crater

10

Implacable Advance

Empty.

Karthos, IVth Legion Terminator, tossed aside his combi-bolter as the ammunition racks clacked, their rounds depleted. Stepping over the still fresh corpses of xenos dead, Karthos wrenched off his helmet, letting the acrid tang of the battlefield’s many scents play across his senses - the fyceline stink of bolter propellant, the earthen musk of the rain-sodden mud beneath his boots, and the rich coppery tang of fresh blood - of that, there was no shortage. Advancing with the tectonic gait of his Cataphractii-class plate, the veteran Terminator noticed several of his fellow Legionaries in the next trench - a Tactical squad by the looks of it. Dropping into the trench with neither grace nor subtlety, Karthos assessed the squad through his occulobe implants, data-feeds and legionary idents glowing faintly upon his iris.

“Belkor. Situation update.”

The tactical Sergeant didn’t question him, appraising the situation with admirable bluntness.

“Xenos defensive annex up on the ridge. Spiny little bastard. Artillery support’s occupied and the shrapnel bolts aren’t suppressing it. Orders?”

Karthos took in the squad’s appearance – drenched in mud, armour cratered with weapon impacts. Not a single anti-emplacement weapon amongst them outside of the Sergeant’s siege hammer, yet they’d got this far anyway. The Terminator’s respirator unit masked his smile – now these were troops whose stubbornness he could use.

“Tactical advance. I’m going to take that thing’s fire and you’re going to kill it once we’re close enough. They won’t be prepared for me, I wager.”

Belkor nodded. “And if it does manage to kill you?”

Karthos’ smile turned to a humourless grin as he re-donned his helmet, jerking a thumb towards the squad’s Apothecary – Tacitus, by his rune-ident.

“Then you bloody well make sure he recovers our gene-seed.”

The Battle of Pilckem Ridge: Crossing the Yser Canal at Boesinghe, 31st July 1917.

The offensive began on 31 July 1917, but made disappointingly small gains. The British artillery bombardment, which was needed to shatter the enemy’s defensive trench system, also wrecked the low-lying region’s drainage system, and unusually heavy rainy weather turned the ground into a wasteland of mud and water-filled craters. For three months, British troops suffered heavy casualties for limited gains

Five Ways to Kill a Man

by Edwin Brock

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
To the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this
Properly you require a crowd of people
Wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
To dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
Man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
Shaped and chased in a traditional way,
And attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,

At least two flags, a prince and a
Castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
Allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
A mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
Not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
More mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
And some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
Miles above your victim and dispose of him by
Pressing one small switch. All you then
Require is an ocean to separate you, two

Systems of government, a nation’s scientists,
Several factories, a psychopath and
Land that no one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
To kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
Is to see that he lives somewhere in the middle
Of the twentieth century, and leave him there.