It was on Kapella V that Captain Dreyfuss earned the name 'The Butcher'. Although not entirely undeserved given his actions, as with many things it was the incompetence of others that led him to the extreme situation in which he found himself.
The Tri-vid image of him standing on the steps of the Kapellan Senate building with a light breeze tugging at his cape, his jaw set straight, his mouth a tight line is the only pictorial record of the incident that earned him his nickname. All others having been redacted.
Few now recall the arrogance of the Imperial Governor in her negotiations with the Docker's Guild, or the abortive attempt by Arbites squads to assassinate the Guilds' leadership. Few even knew about the mercantile cartel that manipulated the Guild's unrest in an attempt to wrest control of it. An Inquisition court later sentenced them all to death.
By the time they entered the Senate Square all that stood between the four thousand armed and angry Dockers and the Senate were twenty-two Imperial Guardsmen. Unfortunately for the Dockers they were Carrenian Sappers.
No doubt the leaders of the Guild couldn't believe their luck. They had expected hundreds of Arbites and their armoured vehicles. However, the Governor had withdrawn those to protect her estate and the Starport. As the mob surged forward screaming imprecations and demands, few heard Captain Dreyfuss issue the Imperial Warrant to 'cease and desist and disperse peacefully to their homes'. There are doubts that he even issued this required announcement, but the Military Tribunal held after the massacre believed his Orderly's vox records over the hysterical statements of a few survivors.
Not one of the Dockers seems to have noticed that along each side of the square were set a series of fifty plasteel plates no more than 50cms wide and 30cms high connected by wires. If they had they might also have noted that each plate was concave and its surface covered in 50 gram steel balls, set neatly in rows in a thick layer of plastic explosive.
You see the Carrenian Sappers, the 123rd to be precise, had just returned from a campaign against the Ork Waagh of Grabnaz the Magnificent. The squad commanded by Captain Dreyfuss had performed with distinction and were on their way to the Star-port in their fully armed Chimeras when they received the call to assist the Senators.
As the mob moved forwards the Sappers calmly checked their Autoguns. Sappers didn't use lasguns as they found they often did little more than annoy an angry Ork. Instead they preferred an archaic Mars Pattern Autogun with a drum magazine and explosive tipped shells. Its relatively short range being offset by the sheer weight of fire it could put out.
Upon the steps Captain Dreyfuss handed the vox back to his orderly. He looked down at his Engineer-Sergeant and nodded. Just a simple nod set off the apocalypse that was to follow.
In the square the entire mob had now entered. All eyes were set forwards on the guild banners being carried by those in the front ranks. The mob was picking up speed and no-one saw the two chimeras blocking off the street behind them.
As they advanced the younger and fitter guildsmen carrying the banners drew ahead of their colleagues. As they reached an invisible line some two hundred meters short of the thin line of Sappers, the Engineer-Sergeant turned the handle on a small device in his hands. An electrical impulse sped down the attached wires to the first ten plates on each side of the square.
The plastic explosives blew, sending two hundred steel balls in an arc from each concave plate at about 1200 metres per second. Each ball weighed the same as a bolter shell.
Those Dockers nearest the plates simply disintegrated. Bone, sinew and softer matter shattered and torn to shreds. Further into the square the balls blew through people leaving holes the size of a man's fist. The weight and velocity of the balls meant that each one passed through several victims before it began to slow. Later it was found that many balls actually embedded themselves in the buildings opposite having left a dozen or more men dead behind them.
Of the first wave of about seven hundred men, only four were left standing by cruel chance. One of those was an apprentice called Klegg upon whose testimony some of this account is based.
The main body of the mob barely had time to register the annihilation of their comrades before them when the ten plates at the rear of the square blew, eviscerating another five hundred Dockers.
Now mass panic set in with some Dockers charging forwards, others attempting to make their way back whence they came. The majority though stood in a confused mass in the centre. The explosion of the remaining thirty plates on each side of the square left the centre a grim slaughterhouse. Most Dockers didn't even know what had happned to their friends and neighbours before they too suffered the same fate.
Only those that had run into the first two kill zones survived the last explosion. Those Dockers at the rear finding their way blocked by two chimeras began pelting them with pistol shots, fuel bombs and rocks. At first the Chimera crews did not seem to react at all, lending heart to the surviving Dockers. Once they were close enough though the Dockers realized that these were equipped with heavy flamers.
At the front of the mob, several hundred Dockers began a charge against the Sappers. This was slowed considerably by the remains of their comrades. Several Dockers picked up the ragged banners dropped in the terrible explosions.
Captain Dreyfuss calmly drew his Bolt Pistol and dropped the nearest banner carrier. This was the action required by his Sappers to open fire. At once twenty autoguns roared into life. These were weapons designed to stop rampaging Orks and against the Dockers the result was both predictable and terrible. By the time the Sappers heeded the order to cease fire only Klegg remained.
According to Arbites closed records 3,786 people entered the square. 2,654 were classed as deceased or who died shortly afterwards from injuries sustained. Another 1,102 were presumed deceased as their bodies were unrecognisable. 120 survived and only one of those was uninjured, the unlucky Klegg.
A Senate Court condemned 111 of the survivors to penal servitude for life. The last 9, including Klegg, were pardoned as they were under 16 years of age.
The Military Tribunal, held on Carrenia for reasons of security, found that Captain Dreyfuss had acted in accordance with Imperial Guard standard Regulations on the conduct of actions against a Civilian Rebellion. A case brought by the Arbites Commander of Kappella V against the Captain was dropped after the Commander was arrested by the Inquisition. It is reported he was killed attempting to escape their custody.
The atmosphere inside the Chimera was almost unbearable. Two of the sappers were weeping silently, their faces covered by their hands. Sergeant Keppel was busying himself taking inventory of their remaining explosives and ammo. Flannaes was wiping his hands with a cloth. He had been scrubbing at his palms for nearly twenty minutes now and they were beginning to bleed. The others just sat in a grim silence, each lost in their own personal hell.
Through the open rear hatch Goeran could see into the driver's slit on the second vehicle. Lt. Dreyfuss was staring ashen faced into the distance, next to Bomar, his driver.
Goeran knew that only he and Keppel had ever had to fire on civilians before. That was during the evacuation of Bomaris when the rush of desperate refugees threatened to drag down their Valkyrie. Then it had just taken a few rounds to detach the foremost before the Valkyrie could wrench free of the mob.
Despite not a single Docker getting within a hundred metres of their position every man in the platoon was saturated with their blood. The square had been filled with a dense mist caused by the explosion of the Ambush Plates. Young Hannan had begged Bomar to burn it off him with the flamer, before Sgt Keppel had clubbed him into blissful unconsciousness. Hannan was now strapped into his seat in the back of the second Chimera with his hands tied for his own protection.
Goeran fished out his rosary and began muttering the Emperor's Grace. In seconds he found himself leading the whole cabin as they murmured, then spoke and finally sang that ancient creed of devotion and protection. They were still singing when they disembarked at the Star-port to be met by cold-eyed provosts.
Lt. Keppel went over to the Provost Sergeant and after a couple of minutes returned to the platoon. He called the men around him in a tight circle.
"OK men listen up carefully, and none of you do anything rash. Understood?" He said. Those men who were still fully aware of their surroundings nodded or murmured their assent.
"The Provosts are going to take us into custody..." He said, and then waited until all the men stopped shouting and cursing.
"They are going to take us into custody on the Colonel's orders. We will be boarded immediately and break atmosphere before the local Arbites can get here." He looked around his men, each now understanding that they weren't about to be summarily executed.
"You know what we did, and you know we had clear orders." He tapped his breast where he kept his Officer's pocket book.
"As you might expect the locals want to hang this around our necks, but that will not happen. I have the Colonel's word on that. Now put down all your arms and equipment where you are standing than then follow me over to the Carrier." The men nodded and did as he asked.
The Colonel's word, even if transmitted through a Junior Officer, was good enough for most of them. He might have them shot later, but for now they were safe as long as they obeyed his terms.
The Provost Guard formed up in two lines either side of the platoon and escorted them to the ramp of the carrier. At the top of it was Commissar Brueckner. He waved them up.