He didn't understand why he always had to stay behind and clean the vehicle. The sergeant must be in prayers by now, and even the servitors were shuffling off, finishing the repair work on their damaged Predator. The blood was almost washed out of the driver's seat. Zephyre had taken the round strait into his chest. Never mind what the xenos reports had revealed about Ork firepower, he had seen first hand how powerful those accursed cannons were. Malachai was busy on the front armor. It needed to be cut with a plasma torch and a new panel welded in place. Leaving the driver's capsule, he clawed his way out of the tank. The bucket was filled with deep crimson water, to saturated for him to continue. Malachai spotted the new marine picking up the large container.
"Off for more water, young Haesus?" the techmarine rasped.
"Yes sir" Haesus replied, "that is, if you don't mind."
"Hah, don't sir me boy, I'm a techmarine, not an officer."
"Then what should I call you?"
"Malachai is fine for now" the old marine said, "and you don't need my permission to go about your duties."
"Yes sir, I mean, Malachai." The loader left to fetch some fresh water to finish his work.
"Don't forget to wash out the bucket!" Malachai called after him.
Haesus leaned up against the wall as the cylinder started to fill with clean H2O. If it wasn't for that assault squad making an unlikely appearance, the entire crew would have been killed. Why did drivers have to sit up front? Why not the gunners, after all, they are the most expendable. How hard could it be to target a vehicle with an Autocannon? Something wet ran across his foot. It was warm against his bare feet, and was followed by a trickling noise. Haesus cursed and turned off the water. He had forgotten about his duties in his day dreaming. Hurrying back down the hall, he charged into the garage. Malachai had already replaced the armor on the front and was painting the Adamantium plating green. The old techmarine sighed.
"You forgot to wash out the bucket again" Malachai said. Haesus looked at bright yellow container, red tinted water was still sloshing back and forth against the sides.
"Sorry sir" Haesus replied, "I'll go get some clean water."
"Don't worry about it, just clean it up. After all, you never know when the emperor may need the lion's service."
"Stop with the sir crap." Haesus shook his head and climbed back into the vehicle. It didn't take much to wipe out the rest of the vehicle. As Haesus wrung out his cloth, he heard a faint rumbling noise. Faint yes, but unmistakable. Like a grumbling stomach, it's intensity grew. Not a rhino, the engine is too low, more powerful. The sound of treads on stone rang out clear. A gigantic form ground to a stop. Gears slammed as it made a hasty turn. The pattern was familiar. The brand new rhino chassis, only this one had a turret armed with nasty lascannons.
The vehicle was easily five feet taller than his own Predator Destructor, and six feet longer. Four exhaust pipes belched thick black smoke as the driver shifted gears. Haesus marveled at it. The tank was as much a work of art as it was a machine of destruction. Dynamic and clean. No rust spots or chipped paint anywhere. Eleanore, his tank, was covered in rust pits and scratched paint. Scars were armored had to be replaced, or were bent back into place ran up and down her body, casting strange shadows and different shades of green. Haesus envied that crew. Not only did they have more space, they had better equipment, far outdating that in Eleanore.
Malachai noticed Haesus staring at the new machine.
"Bah" He said aloud, "You don't want one of those."
"Why not? Haesus asked.
"Because, its not tested. You don't know what might go wrong with one of those. Your tank, we know. All the little bugs that like to crawl insider her and make her sick, you can spot." Malachai sat back on his heels. "In time you will know what I am speaking of. But until then, get back to scrubbing. I want this done before lights out."
"It will be done."
Haesus woke from his trance to an alarm. Three blasts then silence. Three more blasts then silence again. A general alarm, they weren't under attack, but the planet probably was. His bunk mate was already putting on his armor. Jumping from the top bunk, Haesus shouted over the siren.
"Are you that excited to drive Felix?" asked Haesus.
"My first time driving Eleanore in a combat situation, what do you think?" Came the reply.
"How many hours do you have in the sim?"
That made Haesus grimace in mental pain. They both holstered their bolt pistols and two extra magazines. They carried their helmets, synapse cords inside to prevent them from flopping around while they ran. Eventually they arrived in the large briefing room. Rows of desks fanned out in a half circle from a gigantic platform. In the center of the platform was a disk. Light played from the disk creating the world they were now orbiting. Haesus took his seat in the second row. The tank commanders sat in the first row, with four seats behind them forming a group. Each group represented a tank crew, then a larger group to represent the platoon. Each platoon was roughly five to eight tanks large.
Lifting the monitor attached to his desk, Haesus punched in the access codes for Eleanors overhaul chart. Words and numbers began to fill his screen.