The thin green line faced off against the endless red hoard in this mini narrative campaign. As with any great Imperial Guard tale it involved big tanks grinding and horrendous casualties.
Every month Charlie hosts Beard Bunker Gaming, where whoever is free can drop in and play. A couple of weeks ago I was there with a plan for Charlie to teach me to play Warhammer Fantasy in the morning and a free afternoon, so I proposed to Harvey that for the afternoon he and I teamed up our Guard armies to face the Tyranids in a Fury of the Swarm game. Putting on his best Chigago Podcaster impression, Harvey immediately responded with “Yes, and…”
His proposal was to take it a step further, play out a full (albeit small) Fury of the Swarm campaign with our Guard armies. Despite having playtested the game extensively, I’d never played a full linked campaign so I was dead keen! So across half a Sunday and the entire following weekend we ran ourselves a narrative campaign of the Imperial Guard investigating a silent colony, getting ambushed by Tyranids and… well, read on to find out!
Harvey: Yeah, I was very jazzed at the idea of playing Fury of the Swarm as it was designed to be played, instead of as a playtesting exercise. Both Tom and I love a good narrative too, so without further ado we got thinking about a story, and it all got a bit Aliens...
Makrinos Goes Quiet
Towards the spinward end of the Targean Veil, lies the world known as Makrinos to its inhabitants and Imperial Listening Post TV-7 to the Departmento Munitorum. A small self-sufficient colony far from Imperial civilisation, its primary use to the Imperium is maintaining the largely automated listening post located several miles from the colony limits in the wilderness.
Used by Explorators, Rogue Traders and even Inquisitorial Agents at times as a stopping point between the wider Eridani Sector and the uncharted wilds of the Veil, the base was strategically useful - but relied on obscurity to defend it rather than a significant standing garrison. It was equipped with long range communications and scanners, and monitored the Veil for incursions into Imperial space. Its falling silent was potentially a bad sign, but not significant enough to send serious firepower like Astartes. Thus when it stopped broadcasting, the Departmento Munitorum redirected a small escort squadron containing elements of the Nightfall 31st Recon and Cadian 177th Mechanised, both regiments veterans of the defence of Lachesis, to investigate.
Upon arrival the Imperials found the planet seemingly deserted, no hails or other signals leaving the world as the escort squadron approached. The psykers they had aboard felt something wrong but were unable to discern anything more specific. With no other option, ground forces were deployed to investigate.
Mid-way through deployment, with just a few thousand guardsmen landed so far, several Tyranid escort-class ships emerged from cover and threatened the Naval forces. They forced the Navy to abandon the landing and withdraw, causing the loss of several troop transports - including the one carrying the Nightfall 31st 2nd in command, Major Hoss. The Navy were able to prevent the escorts from taking up stable orbital positions that would allow them to dominate any fighting on the ground, but were not powerful enough to drive them away entirely. The ground troops already landed were cut off.
Harvey: The scene was set, our forces beginning the campaign ambushed by Tyranids who were clearly prepared and lying in wait for prey. The overarching story of an ambush was perfect for the way in which Fury of the Swarm campaigns move through the different stages of a Tyranid invasion, and we had fun looking through the scenarios and figuring out what could happen next and how to simulate it best, depending on how the Imperial Guard fared from mission to mission.
It was very much a freeform campaign as far as the story went, with us thinking on the fly about narrative hooks such as where the Tyranids might be coming from or how exactly our forces might escape. This made it much easier to fit the events of what happened on Makrinos to the scenarios within Fury of the Swarm, and allowed us to (mostly) cherry pick the missions we were both most interested in playing.
All Fury of the Swarm campaigns begin in the “Sporefall” phase, with a series of missions representing the Tyranids raining down from orbit and launching their initial assault upon the inhabitants. To begin our campaign we selected to play the mission “Big Guns Mustn’t Tire”, but instead of defending an orbital defence weapon, our troops would be defending the communications array whilst they desperately tried to get it working again and send out a distress signal to the wider Imperium. If Tyranids have seeded this world, where else have they gotten?
Tyranid ground forces launch a multi pronged ambush - targeting imperial forces at several sites simultaneously. The first site was the long range communications tower, defended by Lieutenant Raan of Nightfall 31st’s L Company and Lieutenant Wright of Cadian 177th’s A Company. Whilst the Cadian tanks dug in, the infantry of both regiments began hurriedly constructing improvised defences from crates, barrels and a few precious sandbags.
|Hurriedly improvised defences.
Casualties were high amongst the infantry holding the front lines, but they held long enough for the Tyranids to run out of steam and then the counter-push drove the creatures back and fully repulsed the attack, allowing the regimental techpriests time to send their message. The heroic Commissar Valden was badly wounded whilst leading from the front and would take no further active part in the campaign, being in a hospital bed.
|Things look desperate for the Guard.
This mission felt pretty tough, with nowhere to run and caught between walls of spiky death. In the first turn we actually pulled our tanks back and let the objective take the enemy fire, to ensure the Tyranids didn’t destroy our strongest guns in their first turn. The strategy seemed to work although by the end of the game they had gotten it down to less than a 3rd of its starting wounds. Ultimately I suppose that meant we judged it correctly.
Reporting Officer: Lt. Raan
Contact confirmed with Tyranid organisms at this time, Makrinos crawls. 2 Platoon were tasked, along with Cadians under the command of Lt. Wright and Capt. Wolfe, with holding the long range communications tower until the techs could fix it and send for reinforcements. We set up what defences we could before they assaulted us from two angles. The lines held and word got out - the techs assure me the message send has been verified.
2 Platoon are 60% operational, the Cadian infantry less so - reserve squads are en route, but more worrying is the loss of contact with L command. The comms tower was damaged in the assault and this position won’t hold long term, so we’re packing up and moving for L command. I just hope we get there in time.
Valden took a nasty hit; a fleshborer beetle ate a good chunk of his leg before he could pull it out of himself and kill it. He’s being evacuated along with the rest of the wounded to TV-7’s field hospital. With luck those transports won’t get attacked, we don’t have the men to escort them safely.
I think I know what happened to the colonists.
As we had both chosen to bring Lieutenants on this mission, we wondered what our senior commanders had been up to. We opted to play “Living Rain” as our second mission to find out as their command post came under orbital assault from a living rain of spiky death. To fully represent the falling doom of a Tyrnaid invasion we opted to use the Sporocysts models (which I normally just use as scenery anyway) as Tyrannocytes, and fill them with Hormagaunts.
As this mission was supposed to be happening simultaneously with the previous game, we didn’t use any named characters that had appeared in that game, but neither of us have enough models to prevent the necessity of reusing basic units as another unit of the same type. We welcome the assistance of the freshly named “I-can’t-beleive-it’s-not-Weasel Squadron”.
|Captain Matthis emerges from the command post to take command.
At the regimental command post, hastily constructed around a watchtower, Captains Founder and Matthis were coordinating the deployment of their forces when it began to rain fleshy death. They quickly pulled their forces in to form a tight defence, but could not afford to give up vital communications systems and fuel reserves.
|In this mission deep striking reserves all deploy as close as possible to the most lightly held objective. Certified Fresh.
By prioritising the larger creatures with ranged firepower and using transports to block out the now unsupported smaller Tyranid beasts the hoard was kept at bay. Sergeant Drokk and his Bullgryns, having earned the nickname “Bonk Squad” back on Lachesis, made short work of those who did get through. When Lieutenant Raan arrived, having rushed his forces across to support once their mission was concluded, he found the command post in good order and busy cleaning up hundreds of Tyranid corpses.
|“Men and women of Cadia, we stand!”
|An endless chittering tide emerges from the forest and rains from the sky.
This mission felt even more hairy than the last, with objectives to be held much further forward and Tyranids deploying horrifically close, it was a game of unpleasant surprises and constant firefighting. As ever the infantry took an utter mauling, but the ability to get replacement Guard squads with a stratagem really does encourage the thematic gameplay of spending lives for victory.
Reporting Officer: Capt. Founder
Having established a forward command post with my opposite number Captain Matthis to begin to coordinate what forces we had available, the Tyranids began an orbital assault. Enemy units from landing nearby converged upon our position whilst enemy spores, including spore-bourn reinforcements, beset the forward base.
At such close quarters our troops were at s erious dissadvantage, and casualties were high, however after the first few waves were repulsed we were able to turn the tide. I must commend the Nightfaller tank drivers, despite lacking any serious armour. Their Devil Dog crew in particular should be recognised for bravery.
With the initial invasion having been weathered, the next phase of a campaign is the fulcrum. It is here that a campaign is won or lost. If the Tyranids had won the majority of the missions (in this case Harvey and I agreed that meant either mission) they would be receiving extra reinforcements during the Fulcrum phase. Now our success, or failure, in Fulcrum would determine whether the final phase would be Extermination, where the last of the bugs are purged and the planet reclaimed, or Evacuation, where the survivors must flee an overridden world.
With limited time to play, we opted for “Hold the Line” as the most thematically appropriate mission. Retake and Hold didn’t make much sense to us, as there was little to retake, and Resupply Run equally wouldn’t work when there were no supplies to be had - though would have been perfect if we had already lost control of the base in the previous games, and were telling the story of a desperate evacuation. The wounded Commissar Valden may even have been in a medical transport!
Harvey: This was also a mission that neither of us had played before, which was an added bonus! We both were fairly involved in testing various missions with Charlie, but “Hold the Line” was a fresh experience - in both senses of the word.
Captain Matthis holds the centre.
|Lieutenant Raan taking the corner point. That “Tarantula Sentry Gun” placement would turn out to be a lifesaver; as the closest target it took the full brunt of the Exocrine, absorbing massive overkill that would have nuked a platoon.
|Captain Founder relegated to the second line, the Nightfallers apparently not appreciating the morale boosting power of a good flag.
|Dorn would be proud.
Massing in the forests surrounding the Imperial base, the Tyranids attacked in force, attempting to overrun the Imperials with brute force now that their ambushers had failed. The Nightfallers manning the walls were led by Raan and Matthis and took appalling casualties, but managed to fall back mostly in good order.
|The survivors abandoned the wall and retreated to secondary positions as the swarm approached.
|An uninvited guest is quickly shown the door by Weasel Squadron.
|Whilst Bonk Squad give their customary warm welcome to the first guest to come over the wall.
Their numbers seemingly endless, the Tyranids managed to scale the walls but were met by vengeful Imperials led by Captain Founder. Having set up in pre-prepared secondary positions they were ready with blistering volleys of lasfire and made them pay for every step, with Sergeant Drokk’s Bonk Squad rushing to crush. The assault is driven back, and the Tyranid ability to attack is broken - in the short term at least.
|A sniper’s eye view.
The Leman Russ “Kasr Bastos” shrugged off so many anti-tank hits from its hull-down position behind some shipping containers that the Guardsmen began referring to her as “Old Reliable” instead. At the other end of the wall Captain Wulfe of the attached Cadian 53rd Armoured almost destroyed his Executioner tank by repeatedly overcharging his plasma weapons.
The 3rd Sentinel Squadron valiantly held the gate, making multiple sallies out to engage foes before withdrawing back to the safety of the gate, including duelling with a massive Tervigon brood mother and her spawn. Such was their heroism the Cadian started calling them the Little Wolves, after the Imperial Knights of House Ulfir alongside whom the Cadians had so recently served.
|The Little Wolves sally forth to keep the large beasts at bay, but smaller creatures rush around them towards easier prey.
Before every mission we played, Harvey and I agreed this next one was the scariest yet, and doomed to failure. This mission was no exception. In both previous missions we had taken horrendous casualties to achieve victory, so a mission where having more survivors than an endlessly respawning enemy could put into your deployment zone seemed daunting to say the least. Despite having first turn, after the Tyranid reinforcement rolls were done we’d made almost zero impact on the enemy, and their first counterpunch was far less forgiving.
It was a tonne of fun setting up a defensive position, then defending it as hard as we could. The thick walls certainly helped slow down the enemy charges, but once the the infantry on the walls had been all but wiped out and retreated it also very much limited our ability to shoot back, which is pretty essential with a Guard army. The stratagem to respawn units undoubtedly saved our bacon this time.
Reporting Officer: Capt. Founder
It seems that with a surprise attack having failed, the Tyranids opted to overwhelm our position with numbers. Having anticipated a full assault we had fortified our position, with the more numerous Nightfallers holding the walls whilst my own Company held the fall-back position. As anticipated the Nightfallers were forced to fall back having done what they could to thin the enemy numbers, however good planning and stalwart resistance meant they surmounted the walls right into our trap. Waves of Tyranids fed themselves into our meat grinder piecemeal and, although at great cost in our own blood, we devastated the enemy.
I am recommending Sentinel Squadron 3 for the Bastion Honour, and I know Captain Wulfe will second my recommendation. Their repeated sorties out beyond the defences to proactively take the fight to the enemy undoubtedly saved many lives at huge risk to their own.
With victory in the Fulcrum, we had turned the tide of the war and were able to play an Extermination mission, rather than Evacuation. We opted for the much more aggressive “Burn the Nest” as we investigated the colony settlement to purge the main hive of the filthy xenos - we felt it would be a lot more challenging for a Guard army than “Let None Escape”, where you start at both ends of the table and a bunch of Tyranids in the middle try to break out.
Captain Matthis made the decision to lead an assault force to the nearby colony, since that's where the surviving Xenos had retreated towards, to investigate and if possible end the Tyranid threat. The transport vehicles of the Cadian 177th had not managed to deploy before the ambush was sprung, so the infantry stayed behind to defend the outpost whilst the armour of the 53rd joined the Nightfallers in their Chimera variants Harvey: That's a Wendigo Light Tank, ackshually! for a rapid thrust.
Aboard their transports in orbit, Major Naise of the Cadian 177th received this update and, unwilling to leave the Nightfallers and 53rd entirely unsupported, acquired a Valkyrie and, along with his escort detail, braved the Tyranid infested skies to head down and to assist. Despite the formal complaint from the Navy, Commissar Nari has judged that it was simply a miscommunication. Allegations that the Major threatened the pilot with his service pistol remain unverified at this time.
This is one of those fun story moments that evolved from somewhat random game choices. Whilst discussing our army lists with Harvey I remembered I had a black painted Valkyrie kicking around and thought it would be fun to include that. With a transport capacity of 12, I couldn’t take a full command squad and had to take a lone Cadian Castellan as my officer. With that choice made, the story told itself.
The assault force reached the outskirts of the colony unmolested, and found it infested with nesting Tyranids - the colonists long since consumed. Captain Wolfe took the flank with his armour and the Nightfaller infantry charged up the centre supported by their light tanks and sentinels, Lieutenant Raan burning the nest in the centre of the colony with a bandolier of incendiary grenades.
|Cadians move in with armour and air support.
|Whilst the Nightfallers rely upon guts and sacrifice.
Major Naise provided both air support and a vital air-drop deployment to defend infiltrating Nightfaller sniper scouts while they mined a second nest. This was a growth coming out of a well that led to an underground cavern and, being full of flammable gases from digesting the colonists, it ignited. The final nest was assaulted by Two Platoon with covering fire from the armour, with more sniper scouts and Raan using up all their remaining explosives on the final nest and clearing the landing pad.
|The Demolisher ‘Kasr Derth’ manoeuvres itself to hold back the large beasts and let the rest of the column move towards the objective.
|Major Naise and his unit deploy to protect the flank of the Nightfaller infiltrators whilst they work to destroy the breeding nest. Only 2 Cadians and 3 Nightfallers survived.
|Meanwhile on the other flank the Nightfallers teach Bonk Squad a tactic called “bum-rush”.
Captain Matthis had been moving up on Raan’s left flank screening the main assault, but when she strayed too close to a copse of trees one of them turned out to be a Lictor. The few survivors of her command squad dragged her away as Major Naise’s Valkyrie gunned the beast down before it could escape - or finish the downed Captain off. Thanks to some desperate life-saving battlefield surgery, she survived, but in a poor state.
|Captain Matthis almost meets her doom.
Reporting Officer: Commissar Valden
In an effort to remove some of the burden of command from acting Captain Raan, I'm doing paperwork from a hospital bed. Watching the wounded filtering through has been enlightening, and the reports from the front have crossed my desk... Or bedside table, anyway. What follows is an account of verification, since I'm confident the honoured agents of the Departmento Munitorum will want one given the odds we've faced here on TV-7.
We have victory. The back of the Tyranid ground force has been broken as have their means of reproduction, and Battlefleet Eridani’s escort squadron have succeeded in keeping their orbital assets from re-seeding the planet. The colony, investigated by Captains Matthis and Wolfe, was a breeding ground for alien filth, and by the guns of Cadia and the steel of Nightfall it has been burned clean.
Casualties: High. Captain Matthis has been evacuated straight back to the ships by Major Naise and is likely to die from her wounds, and the platoon she led was almost completely wiped out. The infiltration teams sent in advance of the main thrust sustained 50% casualties, the remaining Nightfallers 30%. Major Naise’s Cadians paid a high price, though I'm told their armoured units suffered only moderate damage.
Commendations: While it is not my place to award these to anyone but Junior Commissar Ward, the soldiers that took part in this Makrinos Ambush all deserve commendation, both the living and the dead. Matthis, Raan, Founder, Wolfe, Ward and countless others have all distinguished themselves, and I will be conferring with Colonels Raikonnen and Kinsley, along with my opposite in the 177th, Commissar Nari, regarding appropriate awards. Junior Commissar Ward I am promoting, effective immediately, to the full rank of Commissar. I wish her the best of luck in winning the respect of the Nightfall 31st, as she has mine.
The long odds of this victory cannot be overstated. Cadians are a known quantity and none could question their valour, but I make a note here of the tenacity and skill the 31st have displayed here on Makrinos. They are the 3rd Nightfaller regiment I have served with, and while my insights into their qualities (and flaws) are perhaps better placed into memoirs, I will say this: There is no finer light infantry to be found in Eridani. I am proud of them all.
The Imperium stands on Makrinos. The Emperor Protects.
Another gruelling battle, and yet again the hardest one yet. This one was absolutely brutal, with soldiers dying in droves for every inch we pushed up the battlefield. A lucky Demolisher shot in the first turn one-shotted the Hive Tyrant defending the closest objective, and with her gone we were able to wipe that clean pretty quickly and press our advantage. Nevertheless Guard are not built for moving quickly, or assault, and both of these were needed for this mission.
On our left flank we worked hard to screen out space for some deep-striking snipers (with Special Weapons Teams dead and gone in this edition, Harvey is using the Legends Elysian Sniper Squad rules which means his team can pop out of hiding mid-battle, much like my Raven Guard used to do in 9th) but it so nearly came to naught when a unit of Tyranid warriors with devastating anti-infantry guns respawned in the worst possible spot, ready to gun them down. There but for a lucky Overwatch by Captain Wolfe went our game.
On the right flank Harvey bought victory in the classic Guard fashion, with wave upon wave of infantry casualties. Sending Guardsmen to fight a Tyrannofex in melee and tie it up probably isn’t in any of the classic tactical treatise the Imperium holds dear, but if it works don’t knock it.
Harvey: MEN OF NIGHTFALL! OF CADIA! MY BROTHERS! A great game and a great conclusion to the campaign - when those warriors spawned I was convinced we'd lost, but the overwatch was on point and the surviving alien mostly missed the snipers crawling all over their objective. The story of an unlikely victory, turning an ambush into the defence of a world in the nascent stage of Tyranid invasion was a good one, and we figured the Departmento Munitorum would be every bit as surprised -and incredulous- of our total victory as we the players were! Tea and medals for all!
When the requested Imperial reinforcements arrived and were finally able to eliminate the Tyranid bioships in the system, the situation on the ground was under control. Cadian Demolishers were using their dozer blades to pile up Tyranid corpses for Nightfaller Hellhounds to incinerate, and Sentinel hunter packs were roaming the woods for escaped beasts. It was clear that there were no survivors from the colonists, the last of them must have been digested weeks before the initial force arrived. Sector Command, and the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition, were informed, this report adding to the overall picture of a widespread Tyranid incursion.
Captain Matthis survived (we rolled for it), and since Major Hoss died in orbit, she was promoted to Major - though she would spend months out of action, requiring extensive cybernetic surgery and lengthy rehabilitation to return to duty. Harvey: She's going to be a stand in for Iron-hand Straken once she's back and I cannot wait. Raan, who had been acting Captain in her absence was promoted to full Captain, something he is less than thrilled about - at heart yearning for the days when he was a simple infantryman. Junior Commissar Ward, who had been forced to stand in for her wounded mentor, fought and led by example in truly heroic fashion. As such Commissar Valden has promoted her to full Commissar, although she is yet to earn the trust of the 31st, even if she is starting to win their respect.
With no dead men’s boots to fill, there were no promotions amongst the Cadians, but plenty of commendations all round, once the combined reports of both regiments Commissars convinced Sector Command that the events really did happen as described.
Harvey: So ends the regularly scheduled programming, but should you be in the mood for a short bit of bonus narrative about Lt. Raan's unease regarding command, read on! Or don't, this is a long post already.
The deck thumped, the noises of a celebration vibrating through metal plates. Somewhere several decks below, Cadians and Nightfallers were roaring out songs, drinking and laughing, sharing stories and experiences, and shedding the stress and fear of the last few days. It was a well earned rest, one a lot of their friends were no longer around to enjoy.
Lieutenant Hakkonen Raan was not in attendance. Standing alone, deep in thought, he watched through a thick sheet of tempered glass from a surgical observation room as his commanding officer fought for her life. Johanna Matthis was splayed out on an operating table, her torso shattered and ruined, half her face and an arm torn to bloody scraps, along with a dozen other injuries. A grotesque ship’s surgeon worked on her, unnaturally tall and augmented with multiple scalpel-fingered limbs, and aided by a trio of servitor orderlies, clicking quietly to each other in binaric cant as they sliced and severed what could not be preserved in an attempt to save her life. Raan did not think they would succeed.
When they'd found her, she was a mess. The dead lictor nearby, blasted to hell by plasma and heavy bolter fire, had done its worst: she had suffered massive penetrating chest trauma and gaping wounds had been torn open all over her body where it had slashed and impaled her. Lorr, 2 platoon’s medic, had undoubtedly bought her the time she needed to get to surgery - opening up her ribcage and massaging her ruined heart until the Cadian Major, Naise, could land his Valkyrie and perform an emergency medical evacuation back to the ships.
Raan watched them attach Matthis’ circulatory system up to a machine and remove her heart - along with the splintered ribcage that had once protected it. He barely noticed the door hiss open and closed behind him.
“I thought you'd be here, Hakkonen.”
It was unfair to use the rank - rude, even, by Nightfaller standards to not refer to Colonel Cass Raikonnen by his first name, but Raan was not in the mood for company. He was here for Johanna, and he had little desire to talk - especially not to his regimental commanding officer, his Clan-Leader. The two of them stood in uneasy silence for a while, watching the surgeon-thing as it installed cybernetic implant after implant into Matthis’ thoracic cavity - heart, lungs, arteries, ribs. Then it set about removing her arm.
“She was covering me-” Raan began, the source of his unease clear.
“You were her responsibility, Hakkonen, as was the mission.” The Colonel's tone was soft, gentle even. He knew that Raan and Matthis were close - student and mentor, clan-mates, friends.
“I should be on that slab, I could have taken point. She insisted...” Raan was talking quietly, almost to himself. He trailed off, unwilling to finish his thought out loud.
“Then respect her decision. She's lying there now because of her choices, not yours,” Raikonnen’s tone hardened slightly. “And if she dies-”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“If she dies, Hakkonen, it will be because of her actions defending you. Don't rob her of that by blaming yourself for living.”
More silence followed. The surgeon was directing its orderlies as Matthis bled all over the floor from a sliced artery, the clamp keeping it closed buckled. Her blood was dark and thick, mixed with oils and immunosuppressants to help her body accept the new implants. It was as if she was becoming a machine.
“I need a Captain-” Raikonnen began.
“Kyrie’s no Captain, you know that. He still wishes he was back home, he's a good scout but he's more comfortable cut off behind enemy lines than he is in command-”
“So am I.”
“You're not as good as Kyrie,” Raikonnen replied bluntly before pausing, expecting a rise - when none came he continued. “But you're a better leader... You're respected, you think for yourself, you care deeply about those under your command and you get results. I don't need another Kyrie, Hakkonen, I need you.” Raikonnen held out a set of Captain's rank pins, still dulled by boot-black and dirt. Johanna’s pins.
Raan turned to his commanding officer and looked him in the eyes. They were both big men, Raan still filthy and stinking of sweat and oxidizing alien ichor - Raikonnen was clean, and dressed more finely beneath his camo cloak, but not so fine as to hide his roots. They were both Deathworlders. Nightfallers. Family. He didn't want them, the power they represented or the expectations they came with, and in this moment he certainly didn't feel worthy of the woman that came before him... but Raan took the pins anyway. It wasn't a choice.
“At least, until you die or I find someone better...” Raikonnen couldn't resist, poorly timed bad jokes were one of his worst habits. Briefly, Raan considered the consequences of punching him.
“Fuck you, Cass.”
“Colonel Cass,” he chided, his tone playful.
“You spend too long with Offworlders, Colonel Cass.”
Raikonnen laughed gently but didn’t respond. They stood in silence again for some time, Raan holding the rank pins in his closed fist as the surgeon-thing kept working. The bleed was under control again, and it had started to work on Major Matthis’ face, replacing ruined flesh with cold metal. The deck plating still thumped with the rhythm of distant music, and an audible cheer vibrated through the floor.
“I'll leave you to it, Hakkonen, there's amasec down there with my name on it. Morning briefing is at 0500... Oh, and you'll need a Lieutenant for 2 platoon-”
“Kai.” Raan answered without hesitation, as if he'd already given the matter some thought. Kai was a proven NCO and well liked by 2 platoon, and he'd been on the landing pad alongside now-Commissar Ward as they'd brought down the hulking alien gun beast that had protected the final nest.
“Fine. Goodnight, Hakkonen.”
The door hissed open and closed, and Captain Hakkonen Raan was alone again. Matthis twitched on the surgical slab and the servitor managing her sedation increased the dose reflexively, the surgeon-thing preoccupied with installing a chrome plated bionic eye. Raan couldn't help but smile, knowing how much she would hate that - he gave it a day before she'd covered it with so much camo paint that it would never be clean again.
He didn't want to leave, but his reflection in the glass showed him just how tired he looked. The shadows beneath his eyes were deep and dark, and he badly needed to wash. He'd come straight from his transport cutter to the medical bay, and had already been there several hours. The adrenaline high of combat was finally taking its toll, and total exhaustion was setting in. It was time to go. Raan turned and left the observation room, the door hissing behind him, and left Matthis alone with the surgeon.