Getting your transport shot out of the sky and landing at a supply depot already under attack by Orks is actually a pretty average way for the Recon Regiment designated the 516th to be introduced to Skrynne. Despite being greener than the Orks attacking them the squad charged their Chimera out of the burning transport and performed exceptionally well. True, Trooper Ba’b caught an entire chest full of bullets from a warbuggie and had to burn his only fate point to survive, and Specialist Solar ended up with a broken rib from a lucky Ork round, but with McTiggins using grots for track grease and generally top-notch marksmanship from Blackwell and the others the entire enemy squad (including 3 warbuggies) was completely wiped out.
The following week passes with the squad either settling in to life at Supply Depot Gamma 29 (alongside the surviving company from the veteran 4th Brontian Longknives and a handful of Skrynne natives) or recovering from their wounds. Flora managed to keep Ba’b’s heart pumping long enough for it to be replaced by a bionic one, although she’s generally so apathetic that Sergeant Carno had to berate her into doing it. Narine recovered well enough, although she did notice Trooper Ramirez sneaking into the medicium to draw a mustache on Ba’b while he slept off the surgery. Blackwell traded away his weekly drink chit for training with a native in the local survival techniques, while McTiggins worked to gamble his way into a larger collection of his own chits. Sug spent her time on duty outside The Hole or getting to know the lay of the land, Commissariat-wise, including getting to know the local officers and commissars.
Eventually the squad is summoned to a meeting by their platoon CO, Lt. Elisabetta Odette, with Captain Mortimer Thruel of the Skrynne-Guard attending. The squad is given their first mission: recon a promethium refinery 250 kilometers from Gamma 29 that has gone dark, clear it of hostile forces, and hold it until reinforcements can arrive. They are issued some extra weapons, ammo, rations, and gear, as well as a long-range voxcaster so that they may stay in contact.
The squad spends their allotted hour before departure to prepare for the mission. Blackwell builds a gillie suit for himself out of the local vegetation. Ba’b, perhaps being more kunning than is proper for a Guardsman, latches onto rumors of stealthy orks and instead paints his armor purple. The others spend their time looking over the maps and consulting with locals to avoid any obvious pitfalls, literal or otherwise.
They begin the estimated 12-hour trek towards the refinery. The majority of the squad remain within their Chimera, the Fang. Ba’b and the Ramirez climb into the tangled trees of Skrynne and stay roughly twenty meters ahead and ten meters above the vehicle, while Blackwell and Trooper Dorah act as a scouting vanguard fifty meters ahead. Suddenly Blackwell and Dorah freeze as they hear a low growl. They have little time to consider this before the squad is beset by six of the dreaded eight-legged terror cats of Skrynne!
Forewarned by their own senses Blackwell and Dorah spot the pair of cats waiting for them in the bush, and Blackwell gets off a shot with his long-las that claims two of a cat’s limbs. Ba’b, however, did not spot the cats that had been stalking him; his first awareness of them was when one of them landed on his back and started biting his neck.
Ba’b grappled with his attacker and sent them both on a fall to the jungle floor, managing to get the cat beneath him and crushing it to death. Unfortunately this left Ramirez alone with the other three cats, desperately trying to fend them off with his las pistol. McTiggins ordered Trooper McSteve to man the autocannon and fire upon the cats, easily reducing one to a fine mist. Combined fire from Sug and Solar dropped another, while Ramirez jumped from the trees to be caught by Ba’b.
Meanwhile, Blackwell was taken by surprise when the terror cats in front of him demonstrated their almost absurd speed, rapidly closing with him and Dorah. The sniper was raked with razor-sharp claws, although he managed to finish off his original target during the rush, and began screaming for a medic.
McTiggins floored it, tearing through the jungle in order to get close enough for Flora and Trooper Mara Kal to dismount and rush to Blackwell’s assistance. A seemingly brave action for the pair, what with a terror cat still so close, although frankly it was more disdain for their circumstances that saw them disregard it’s attacks. Unwilling to risk the autocannon McTiggins switched McSteve to the pintle-mounted storm bolter to gun down the last cat menacing Blackwell and Flora.
Ba’b tried to sweep the final cat from the trees with his ripper gun but failed, forced to dodge the beast’s pouncing attack. Grabbing it by the neck and lifting it up to throttle it was his next step, although Flora (presumably because she was getting sick of all this racket) took the opportunity to shoot it in the head with her las pistol.
After a few more stern words from Carno got the medics to patch up everyone’s wounds the squad saddled up and continued the drive . . .