D+45, Operation Cleaver is under way. Air assault units had secured Poshlost farm, so the next phase of the crossing went into action. The Cadian 88th, Vostroyan 9th, and Vostroyan 21st would land on the north shore at Green, Red, and Blue beach respectively. The Cadian 88th landing at Green Beach, were expected to face the harshest resistance, and were scheduled to attack first.
The Cadian 88th loaded into their Chimeras, some of them into Vostroyan Chimeras on loan for the operation. First Company, as ever, would bear the brunt of the operation in the center of the attack. As the first wave neared the northern shore, the men realized just how dire their situation was. Battlements and breastworks on top of an embankment, with next to no cover for themselves on the beach. No turning back now, this was it.
The current was gentle, but the Chimeras were no fish, and struggled to keep over a few miles an hour. Enemy artillery fire rained down, and sent water into the air like geysers, compounding the situation. Drivers gunned the engines and fought to keep the vehicles moving forward.
“Keep moving, do not slow down! We have to get on dry land!” Lt. Drosky Voxed to the Chimeras.
PDF infantry manned the defenses; 2 weeks had given them plenty of time to dig trenches, set up obstacles, and establish fields of fire. The troops watched the Chimeras come ashore, but hold their fire. Once the enemy was out and on the beach, they would let loose a torrent of deadly rifle and machinegun fire.
An artillery shell hits just to the right of the Chimera on the left flank. The splash sends the vehicle crashing into the nearby rocks, ripping a hole in the side armor, it begins taking on water.
“We’re taking on water, abandon ship! Get out!” calls Sgt. Williamson, and he gets his squad out the top hatch and into the water.
The Chimera sinks quickly, and soon its lost entirely. The men find themselves in chest high frigid water, enemy fire wizzing by them and artillery unceasingly pounds the beach.
Williamson and his men take cover behind the rocks, water up to their armpits. Half his squad already missing, Wiliamson panics, and begins to shake violently. One of his men notices, and tries to calm him.
“No! We stay here! Wait for reinforcements!”
Squad 190 held their position, at least here they wouldn’t get shot.
Lt. Drosky and squad 609 hit the beach first, their chimera laying down fire and launching smoke to cover the men. Rounds ping off the armor, and the Cadians return fire with next to no effect. Drosky immediately noticed the beached fishing boat as the only major piece of cover in the area.
To the right, a Vostroyan Chimera rolls ashore, its’ turret heavy bolter lending itself to the Imperial assault. The crew launched smoke and with much joy, the Cadians exited the vehicle. Squad 265 pushed forward and found cover in a series of shell holes. Sgt. Kelsten told his men to hold position, and waved the Vostroyans away.
PDF machineguns opened fire, as well as the regular troops. Drosky and his men moved as the smoke dissipated, and take heavy casualties. They moved for the fishing boat, to rally with the combat engineers and organize the breakthrough. Their Chimera reversed out back into the river to start back across for another run.
“Get us up this beach Grossman!” 1st Sgt Tal called
The Chimera was rocked, and 1st Sgt. Tal recieved word they had hit a mine. The combat Engineers filed out the rear ramp of their assault Chimera. Barely on the beach, many of the men were stuck with their feet in the water.
“Get the Cyclops up, we need that wire cut before the next wave gets here!” The man in the Chimera activated the control panel, and took control of the small vehicle.
Finally, one of Williamson’s men got him to see reason, and squad 190 moved from behind the rock. Coming up the beach, they saw their comrades ducked behind a crater. Much of the squad had been separated when they dove from the sinking Chimera, these were the only two survivors. They hugged the shell crater, dust kicking up in front of it from enemy machineguns on the embankment. Several dead Guardsmen around adding to the cover.
Lt. Drosky peered over the top of the beached fishing boat, spying the enemy position between artillery blasts. If they could cut the wire, and stop the machineguns from firing, taking the position could be done simply enough. It would just take enough men rushing forward, and the beach would be theirs.
Bullets ricocheted off the boat’s deck, and Drosky ducked back down. The next wave would be coming ashore within 15 minutes, they needed the wire cut by then, or they might all die.
Overhead, Avenger strike fighters dove and fired their Avenger cannons on the enemy position, killing several. They pulled up, and flew inland. Some of the Cadians cheered, but most were pinned down and if they moved even an inch would be killed. The squadron was on a mission to destroy the enemy artillery battery at the Toska ranch, the main battery shelling the beach.
Thus far, the landing had gone as well as could be expected, even with the heavy casualties. The bulk of the troops were ashore, at least. Basilisks continued to rain fire on the enemy, and score a few hits. The most significant of which was on the machinegun nest to the right, which was hit by two consecutive shells that killed everyone inside.
The combat engineer’s Cyclops made to move now that the enemy machinegun nest was silenced. The operator controlled the small vehicle around the assault Chimera and over the cater. Only 15 yards away sat the barbed wire holding up the whole operation. Once the Cyclops made contact, it could be detonated, cutting a wide hole in the wire. Then the flood gates would be open, and the combat Engineers would burn out the enemy defenders with ease.
Another squad arrived, and took cover behind the enemy obstacles. The troops hugged what cover they could as the beach was saturated in artillery fire and machinegun fire. They awaited orders, or for their number to be called to go into the Emperor’s light.
The log obstacles provide next to no real cover, and the Cadians take heavy casualties. Even as the PDF ranks thin from the barrage, their volume of fire does not drop. Troops say their last prayers for themselves and their brothers, this could easily be the end.
Finally, a shell hits behind the fishing boat; among those killed are the flamethrower wielding combat Engineers. Fire engulfs the men, and Promethium mixes with the water and blood. The few survivors run to the river to put themselves out, immediately after the assault Chimera is also hit. Once more, fire erupts and the smell of charred flesh lingers in the air. Drosky was torn apart, as was the vast majority of the Engineers. 609 is left to but a few stragglers, the men hug cover and try to put out the flames.
The next wave of troops come into sight, firing their Heavy Bolters the Chimeras swim through the river as blasts land all around them. The crews look at the scene of horror on the beach, strewn with dead men, a massed fireball around what was the assault Chimera.
Command had staggered the landings for many reasons, namely the lack of Chimeras meant that one massed wave would hit then need to wait over an hour for reinforcements. Secondly that the beach was small and too many men on it would do nothing but make them easier to kill.
On the right, Sgt. Kelsten took the initiative, and got his men moving. The squad adjacent followed suit, and the men charged forward. The first man dove over the wire, and the other troops used his body to move over the wire. Many of them were shot immediately as the machinegun nest had been re-manned since the last occupants had been blow apart.
“Sir, what now?”
“You’ll have to go out there, set a charge manually, son.” 1st Sgt Tal said.
The corporal nearly threw up in his respirator. He knew what that meant. They both did. Someone had to do it though, and fast.
“The Emperor will be waiting for you, a medal in hand.”
“It’s been an honor, Sir.” The two grasped forearms, and he was off.
Corporal Simon Gett had grown up in the woods of Cadia, popping fireworks at his sister and playing with his dog. What was his name? He tried to remember, but try as he might he just couldn’t. Rex, no. Creed, no.
A bullet struck him, and he was transported back to reality. Fire, explosions, death. Right, get to the wire and blow it apart. Do the Emperor proud, like his father before him, and his father before him. His arm hurt, his shoulder pad had stopped the round though.
He got to the Cyclops and took cover, caught his breath quickly.
Gett said a prayer, and set a timer on his demo charge. If he was hit, it would still go off. He left the relative safety of the Cyclops, and ran the 15 yards toward the wire. Bullets hit the dirt all around him and he was hit in the leg. He was so pumped up with adrenaline he didn’t even feel it, and the other Cadians looked on in amazement. As he came to the wire, he was struck through the torso, his flak armor doing little to stop the bullet. As he fell, with his last breath, he threw the charge into the wire. He fell, dead. Seconds later, the charge went off and the wire was cleared.
Kelsten and the men on the right had taken heavy casualties making it past the wire. Now on the other side, they lacked the manpower to assault the enemy with any real possibility of success. In any case, the embankment in front of them was much steeper than Kelsten had anticipated, and they could not overcome it. Any attempt to climb over, and they would surely be cut down.
Second wave begins to land on the beach, most notable was Lt. Cota. Cota was from third Company, he had been moved to First in the inevitable case of losing one of the others. The regiment had taken heavy losses and many of the lower Companies had been disbanded so the men could be used to fill gaps in the line Companies.
The rocks on the left claimed another Chimera, a Vostroyan one this time. It had been hit, lost power momentarily, and hit the rocks. The men filed out and dove into the water, they did their best to move forward under the enemy fire. Oddly enough, once they were out of the Chimera, they noticed a severe lack of artillery fire landing at the beach. Only friendly Basilisk fire hitting the enemy defenses.
Lt. Cota gets his squad in cover, then moves to what Drosky had told him was their rally point on the beach. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, bullets hitting just behind him as he ran. He saw a whole squad there, and a few combat engineers, but no Drosky.
Cota threw himself behind the wrecked assault Chimera, and was met by 1st Sgt. Tal, and another Sgt. He wiped sweat from his forehead with his rag, then asked.
“Where’s the rest of your men, and where is Lt. Drosky.”
Sgt. Tal pointed to a stack of bodies that used to be his men. “We’re it.” He said.
“Well, we’ve got to make something happen! We sure as warp can’t stay here.”
“We did manage to break a hole in the wire earlier, Sir.” Cota looked unimpressed. “And Kelsten over there got his men across a while ago but they’re pinned down and can’t move.
Cota turned to see what the 1st Sgt. was talking about.
As if on que, as Cota turned to see Kelsten’s breakthrough, the unit was thrown sky-high by an artillery shell. Body parts and dirt flew every which way, Cota didn’t react. He turned back the 1st Sgt. Tal,
“Vox command, stop the shelling, tell them we’ve broken through.”
“And get all the men together, fix bayonets. We can either die here, or we can die on dry land.”
The Cadians charged out through the field of fire, over their dead comrades, through the smoke, towards the enemy.
“Through the gates of hell, to the Emperor’s light!” Lt. Cota called.
Some of the men were hit and collapsed, but their fellows just continued forward. The PDF were depleted from the past hour of constant shelling, and their volume of fire had begun to slip.
The troops funneled through the gap in the wire, they came under fire from the machinegun on the right as always. One of the men chucked a grenade, and the gun went down momentarily. Surely it would be re-manned again, but by then hopefully they would be in and amongst the enemy. On the other side, the men surged forward, up the embankment.
Coming to the top, the lead troopers stopped and threw frags behind the breastworks. They went off, not killing any enemies. The Cadians rushed forward now the enemy was ducked down. The PDF regained their bearings as the Cadians scrambled over the breastworks, and opened fire. The first few went down, but the Cadians were ruthless, and continued the assault regardless.
“You hear anything?”
“I think they forgotten us!”
“Cause I can’t hear anything!”
“No, we’ll stay put!”
Another wave of troops hits the beach, to a welcome sight of troops pushing up the embankment. Lt. Grunnan moves the men up to reinforce the breakthrough; on the left, a squad is pinned down behind a crater. The men hug the ground, but Grunnan can do nothing for them. The scene is chaos on the beach, men litter the ground, many burned or maimed.
In the enemy breastworks, the Cadians go toe-to-toe with the PDf infantry. By now, the Cadians were down to just 7 out of 12 originally, still Lt. Cota had another squad coming up behind them. As ever, the enemy made a good fight of it, but were ultimately doomed, and many were put to the bayonet.
The other PDF troops manning the breastworks left their firing positions and moved to stop the breakthrough. They opened fire and a few Cadians were killed, as well as a few of their own comrades. It was useless once the next squad of Cadians came up the embankment, the PDF troops retreated. Outnumbered and now the enemy in their lines, they had no choice.
The rest of the PDF gone, the few survivors in the melee surrendered. Many of the Cadians wanting to kill them anyway, the lust for revenge strong.
“Shut up, shut the hell up!”
“No, pleez, ve no more kill!”
“You fekkers already killed half my squad, to hell with it!”
“No, Private! You know what Carth would do if you do that. He’ll either do it to them or you for killing them!” Sgt. Toms grasped the man and held him back, for his own good.
After over an hour of constant fighting, the troops had secured the beach, and began to push to link up with the other companies along the beach. All told they had lost some 40 percent of their number that landed, and would now need to push inland and defend against any counter attack.
All while the Cadians assaulted the enemy lines, the Vostroyans were launched for their assault on Red beach just down river. Resistance was sure to be similar there, and later around 1000 hrs the 21st Vostroyan would hit Blue beach even further down. Likely, the enemy would roll over at blue beach, as it was on the extreme right away from the bulk of the enemy troops.