Mercy Run (Short Story)
|Series||Imperial Guard (Novel Series)|
|Collected in||Planetkill (Anthology)|
Mercy Run is a short story by Steve Parker. It was first published in Planetkill (Anthology), and later in the omnibus Hammer of the Emperor (Omnibus). The story's protagonist, Cadian Sergeant Oskar Wulfe, features in Parker's subsequent novel Gunheads.
The monstrous ork warlord Ghazghkull Thraka has fallen on Palmeros, and death follows in his wake. A multitude of asteroids, guided by the brutally cunning greenskin, are descending upon the world. A task force of Imperial Guardsmen and Sisters Hospitaller rush to complete a secret mission that could be the key to survival.
On Palmeros, Cadian Sergeant Oskar Wulfe and his Leman Russ tank crew have been detailed to escort a detail from the Sisters Hospitaller to retrieve a wounded officer. The mission is a race against time, since a series of Roks are already hurtling towards the planet, aimed by Waaagh! Ghazghkull.
The initial run is slow-going, as Wulfe and his crew encounter scattered pockets of orks, or else are blocked by the crush of civilians rushing to evacuate the doomed planet. With time running short, Wulfe reluctantly gives the order to plow ahead, crushing to death those civilians who can't clear the path.
When he arrives at the Hospitaller sanctuary where the officer is being treated, he is horrified to learn that this is a rescue mission only in the loosest sense of the term: the officer is already mortally wounded, but the Sisters have kept him alive because his blood is desperately needed by his elderly and terminally ill father, the General responsible for the Guard's operations in that sector. The extraction process is not gentle, and Wulfe is forced to remain outside the sanctuary, listening to the dying man's screams as the Sisters exsanguinate him.
Aboard the transport, outbound from the system, Wulfe and his crew watch as Palmeros is destroyed by the Roks. Wulfe is tormented by his actions, and by the death of the people who were left behind, but steels himself to his duty and looks forward to his tank's next mission.