Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Raid on Pakeshi IV Part 2 – The Scouring

We have been playing a campaign in which WAAGH! Drillteef is assaulting key locations in the Pakeshi Sector in search of information leading to their ability to summon forth Tuska onto the field of battle. This battle report details the Orks raids within the city proper itself, both as a distraction and with minor objectives in mind..

This Narrative Battle Report first appeared on Episode 32 of Masters of the Forge.

~ * ~

Codicer Djalix T’song was annoyed. The Orks were a menace to be sure, but his annoyance overwhelmed any other emotions the Imperial Creed demanded of him. The Orks had followed them from Shatara to Pakeshi IV. Certainly the Orks wouldn’t be in search of the same thing as they, so their presence must be attributed to terrible luck. To lose one system to overwhelming force was one thing, but to allow a splinter group get a foothold in a neighboring system was a blow to honor that he couldn’t allow. This compounded T’song’s annoyance. There was no extricating the Blood Ravens from this fight; to do so would not only affect their reputation, but the information they sought would likely be lost forever.

So they fought on and T’song’s combat team echoed his irritation as they moved through Urban Center PLX-47 cleansing the city of the Xenos presence there. He didn’t need to harness the Warp in order to guess their mood. Their silence as they drove through the streets, bikes growling, was enough for him to know they were suppressing complaints. This was not work for Astartes. Every few minutes, they would come across a pack of slavering Orks. The twenty-two Bolters mounted to their bikes firing swarms of mass-reactive micro-rockets made quick work of the Xenos filth. 

As they moved through the city, more and more of it showed signs of battle. Buildings were burnt out or pockmarked with holes. Dead Orks and dead Pakeshi PDF littered the streets along with the wreckage of vehicles, both military and civilian, all of which they gave the kiss of sizzling promethium as they passed. In time, the entire quarter of the city was aflame, but T’song knew better than to leave Ork remains uncremated. Their progress began to slow as they were forced to weave through the detritus of war. It also became clear that the central power had gone out; as the light of day began to fade, the street lamps remained dim. 

Eventually, vox silence was broken by their central command team near the Inquisitorial compound, “Patrol B3. Copy, Codicer T’song.”

He gestured the team to a halt, “Go on, Sergeant.” Chapter Master Revueltas was still aboard their Battle Barge, the Carrion Crown, which had been on business elsewhere in the Sector and it hadn’t arrived in response of this threat as of yet. Sergeant Miranda had previously been placed in command of the research effort and so had remained in command when the fighting broke out. As the Sergeant of his own Command Squad, Revueltas was clearly grooming the younger Astartes for command and Codicer T’song had no reason to remove him yet. A simple operation against an undisciplined Ork raid would be a good lesson for the young Battle Brother. 

“The Pakeshi 4-323rd has finally arrived, though they have sustained heavy casualties. Captain Blaise have has informed us that Imperial Commander Falkes was headed towards your sector of the city when she took their leave of them six hours ago.”

Information, not a plan of action. The Sergeant was still uncomfortable giving orders to a more experienced officer. “What are your orders, Sergeant Miranda?”

There was a long pause over the vox before he replied, “Fan out. Make your presence known. If she sees Astartes, she will come to you. If you encounter the enemy, eliminate them.”

“Very well,” he replied without thought, hopefully granting the young Sergeant a bit of confidence in his decision. It was the right one, after all. Seconds later, the tactical display in his helmet zoomed out and highlighted a building less than a kilometer distant. With a gesture, signaled his brothers to move out in a wide formation. The roar of their bikes echoed through the darkening streets.

~ * ~

Deff Dread Fred’s mind, as usual, was a singularity of torment. However, the pain of his existence lessened the more he fought. So, he stomped through the city, ripping apart buildings and carving into Chimera tanks. His three scissoring klaws ended any human who dared come near him, and a single bladed wrecking ball swung about him, striking down swathes of Human troopers.

Of course, he sustained damage as he went, but the Ork Meks who held his figurative leash were able to repair him, good as new, after each skirmish. Part of his mind registered the pile of spare parts loaded on each of the Ork Trukks and felt more than a little dismay that it would take far more than a few skirmishes to end his eternal torment. 

Sometimes he would try to lash out at his masters, but his rusted bulk was crawling, inside and out, with little Grots and Runts, poking and prodding him whenever he had orders to follow. If he tried raising a klaw against the Meks, searing hot agony would course through his being until he couldn’t even think, let alone act, on his desires.

When the Blood Ravens roared into view on their bikes and brandishing both Plasma and Grav Guns, a deep relief coursed through him, almost overcoming the pain. Yes. This would be the day when he finally ended his living hell. He roared, his delight echoed by the looted voxcasters festooned to his metal shell. “ROOOARRRRGH!”

The Orks took up the cry and pulled up both flanks in their Trukks, hooting with glee. 

~ * ~

Commander Celia Falkes witnessed the battle unfold before her. The Astartes broke into three groups, a squad of Bikes sped past her position on the right and another on the left while the Librarian and his team maintained a reserve in the center. Commander Falkes was relieved to see them. 

She had left the company of Captain Blaise several long hours ago. That decision had left her feeling terribly conflicted and she, once again, prayed to the God Emperor to bolster the bravery of the Pakeshi 4-323rd. The Captain had requested that she stay with him, of course, but she had ordered him to hold his ground while she made her escape.

There had been no disappointment or accusing glare that she might expect from other leaders under her. Blaise was a good man. Instead of falling back to a more stable position, he’d ordered his Company to Falkes’ bunker in order to rescue her and her advisors. At her decision, he had simply set his jaw, furrowed his brow, and had given her a quick salute. “Good luck, Commander. We won’t let them break through.” 

“Thank you, Captain. Good luck to you.”

“Just do me a favor and don’t die.”

The brashness had amused her even in that terrible moment with the Orks pressing against their lines, the screaming of their chain weapons echoed by the screaming of the dying men filling her ears, “I’ll try not to.” She hadn’t offered him the same sentiment. She had surmised it would have been a hollow one. She allowed herself a pause and added, “Die well, Captain.”

Captain Blaise had grinned. The memory of that grin had been part of what had sustained her since her escape, “That I will. Though I’ll be damned if it’s gonna be today.”

And with that, Commander Falkes had taken her leave of him, heading towards the heavily fortified Inquisitorial compound she knew should lie only two kilometers North of her position.

Unfortunately, two kilometers became four and then six as she ran into Ork patrols and impossible roadblocks. Throughout her flight, she had been very glad for the uniform jumper and armor she’d donned at the outset of the hostilities. Sure, she’d received some odd looks from some of the rank-and-file; she was nobility, after all, and not a warrior. But after clambering over dangerous, rusted wreckage and hiding amidst foul refuse and cold corpses, it had served her well in comparison to her usual finery. 

After hours of scampering from street to street, her luck had turned. She’d found a tall, broken building which, oddly, seemed to be the only structure for kilometers around which still had power. She had searched the building thoroughly for a vox unit of some kind, but not long into the search, she heard the roar of bikes approaching. She had climbed to the threadbare top floor and heard quite clearly the roar of Astartes bikes from the North and buzzing Ork jalopys approaching from the South.

Now, only minutes later, she stood atop the highest spot on the building, unarmed and exposed. She was unaccustomed to this. Although she’d been born noble, it had taken years of work as a Rogue Trader in this sector to attain her position as an Imperial Commander. The life of a Rogue Trader was not an easy one, even for the nobility in command. Of course, she’d also always been one to take care of the most difficult situations personally. Now, her very survival, and the good organization and morale of her protectorate, hinged on the actions of a small band of Astartes and there was nothing she could do to help.

The sun sunk into the southeast horizon. The rays caught a billion broken windows and lit the darkness of the streets below with pools of twinkling fire. There, in the rusted middens of the ruined building, the bike-mounted Astartes on the left flank poured a cacophony of weapons fire into an oncoming Ork Trukk and Dreadnought. The Dreadnought shrugged off the lighter weapons while a plasma blast cooked off a chunk of the ruin, evaporating the plascrete instantly. 

Four Orks leapt out of their ramshackle vehicle and joined the bright red Dreadnought in the charge. The Orks were humongous, most as large as the Astartes themselves. The Marines were showered with the rusted remains of a wall as the Dreadnought crashed through it and began slicing into the Space Marines. It jabbed out with an open claw and, in a hiss-crash of hydraulics, cut through both bike and rider in one gut-wrenching motion. Another was knocked from his bike with a swinging, metal ball on a chain, sending him careening out of sight. The Orks made contact as well, swinging a flurry of heavy attacks. The violence of the Ork attack would have been shocking to a less experienced individual. Falkes was still disheartened to see the noble, ancient warriors meet such inglorious ends. 

The Astartes to her right fared much better, however. They charged an Ork vehicle at full speed. Normal human beings on bikes might have been crushed under the weight of even the most modest of Ork machines, but three Space Marines on a bike which, alone, must have been six feet from wheel to handlebars and weighed almost a ton each, were fast-moving wrecking balls. The crashing crunch was devastating. The Orks’ vehicle sputtered and the engine choked on its own fuel, shooting flames and black soot into the sky. The Orks, to their credit, boosted out of their jalopy and engaged with the Marines who darted away on their bikes, sustaining minimal damage.
~ * ~
The Ork Dreadnought carved through Codicer T’song’s battle brothers on his left flank with terrifying ease. Although it was scorched with plasma burns and a few armor plates were dented by Krak Grenade blasts, it kept coming. The iron beast seemed to be acting with little actual clear direction, but its single-minded efficiency was not to be discounted. The Ork Dreadnought was, however, slow. He ordered the bike squad guarding him to engage with the Dreadnought at range. 

Meanwhile, the Battle Brothers of Bike Squad Salvatore on his right flank were playing cat and mouse games with a mob of Orks who were attempting to exact vengeance for their smoking wreck. T’song allowed himself a moment of distraction and focused his mind. Before the Orks could make another chaotic lunge at his men, he opened himself to the Warp. Its flood of emotions filled his heart with lava and his mind with ice. He stitched together a mosaic of telepathic hate and blasted the Orks with it. Three of the greenskins vomited their brains out from their own eye sockets. Their mates only needed a few moments bearing witness to the fountain of meat ejecting from their comrades’ facial orifices to make the rather pragmatic decision to run away.

He found the inner strength to push away the desire to reach deeper for more and more Warp energy. The clanking of the Dreadnought was closer now. Rather than allow them to chase down the Orks, T’song ordered Salvatore and his men to fall back to his position and reinforce their defense against the Dreadnought. T’song disengaged the maglock of his plasma pistol and braced for the metal beast’s charge.

The bright red, shambling beast of steel, glass, and rust made as if to charge their position, as expected, but suddenly it halted.

~ * ~

What muted senses Deff Dread Fred possessed allowed him to hear the Ork Nobz behind him fire up their Trukk again and prepare for another assault. He could also, somehow and inexplicably, feel the warm blood of the Space Marines sloughing off his klaws in rivulets. The grots and runts fed his mind a dose of ecstasy which overwhelmed his torment tenfold. He wept in spite of himself. More, he thought. More blood. More war. More WAR! MOAR WAAAAAAGH!!! He found another target and clarity of purpose filled him as it never had before.

And he was stopped. A spike of agony.

Why? Why? Oh why?

He could sense it. Power coursed through the building to his left. The Objective lay within. No, he begged unseen and uncaring forces to let him continue his slaughter. He tried one more time to lunge at the Space Marines within stomping distance. Pain seared his mind again. The Nobz buzzed past on their ramshackle transport, intent on doing the job for him. NO! Nononono NO!

But he felt his mind prodded towards the power source inside the building. Somewhere within his body, a runt was smashing on his soul with some kind of spanner or driver. He gave in and stumbled into the crumbling hulk. A trap-door popped open on his hull somewhere and a little Grot, trailed by a long cable, raced towards an interface, glowing green in the gloom. The Grot tinkered with the mechanism for several moments and Deff Dread Fred suddenly felt an icepick in his mind as it began to fill. Millions of lines of data fed directly into his brain in a single, cold thrust. A red blindness took him. No! Nonono! Heresy!

~ * ~

What remained of the Orks were butchered. Brother Ixo lost his leg and his bike, but he would live. T’song focused his attention on the Dreadnought. “Bring it down!”

Seargent Salvatore’s squad unleashed a torrent of green gravity gun fire while T’song’s Plasma pistol spat superheated destruction. The Dreadnought seemed suddenly blind with rage. It charged at T’song’s position, then reeled against Salvatore, but something was horribly wrong within the machine. It screamed “No! Nonono! HERESY!” and fell over, smoking.

T’song had always marveled at the silence that marked the end of a battle. In the distance, the war sputtered on, but here it was so quiet, it was as if quiet were a whole new concept to the embattled warriors. A voice broke that silence. 

“Astartes!” a human female called from the nearest ruin, the one where his brothers had fallen only moments ago. Three red condition trackers still glowed in his helmet’s tactical display. He whisked them away with a blink of his eyes.

He replied, “State your name, citizen!”

The woman started climbing down, “I am Imperial Commander Falkes. I must go to our command post, wherever it is now.”

T’song regarded her with a raised eyebrow. Her words ringed true. She had the command presence and her uniform and decorations seemed to warrant such a title. “We have been ordered to see you to safety, Commander.” 

“Good,” She was an older woman. Her hair was pure white and, as one in her station tends to, she was plump, but not ungainly. She jumped the last four feet of her climb. “Thank you…. Librarian?”

“Close enough. I am Codicer T’song. We will call for a transport.”

“That is not necessary, I see plenty of transport here…”

“I disagree. In any of these vehicles, our bikes included, you are woefully exposed. This system needs its leader. We shall take shelter within this ruined building and await transport. It should not take long.

“Very well, Codicer T’song. I trust your judgement in these matters,” T’song was impressed. Most unaugmented humans were swayed by Astartes suggestions, but few did so without some manner of intimidation. Commander Falkes had not only accepted his plan, but had risked exposing her own ignorance in the process. T’song knew this was the mark of someone who has risen through the ranks through the virtue of their success rather than their political will. Honesty is not often rewarded in the Imperium, but success usually is, and this particular Imperial Commander had learned the important lesson that success is far more likely when one listens to those around them and factors that available expertise in their decisions.

T’song toggled his vox relay, “We have the objective.”

Sergeant Miranda radioed back, “Status.”

“Three brothers killed. No chance of Geneseed retreival. Zone is hot. Requesting a Rhino for the Commander’s extraction.”

A brief pause, “We can have it to your location in ten minutes, but your men will hold her there. You will proceed to the East Stronghold and take command there.”

T’song rolled those words around in his head. “You WILL proceed.” The young Brother was improving, but he replied,“That I will, Seargent.” 

Before taking his leave, however, T’song waved his men over to the wreckage of the Ork Dreadnought. Its behavior had been curious. “Seargent Mangore. Take your men and investigate the ruin where this thing was distracted.”

While they did that, T’song explored the broken shell of the Dreadnought. It was a curious design, but a variation of one he’d seen throughout the galaxy in his service. One interesting note with this one, though, were the many bodies of the small, Ork, demi-species. An Ork Dreadnought rarely boasted more than one or two, but this one had been home to a dozen or more. When he cut the hatch open, he saw a gruesome scene. A cramped compartment lay within. Three tiny demi-orks had died, all three of them seemed to have been electrocuted, though that wasn’t what had given him pause. In the center of the compartment, a brain seemed to be embedded in the floor. Attached to that brain were dozens of cruel-looking instruments. Bottles of medicine were also strewn about. The smell was the worst, though. The smell of the Orks was bad enough, but T’song could smell that somewhere within the hulk, amniotic fluid was leaking out and burning.

“That’s a human brain,” said Seargent Mangore. T’song had been so engrossed with his work that he hadn’t noticed Mangore return.


“A storage device. Not a datascroll repository, but a proper digital bank. It was wiped clean.”

“Just now?”

“No way to tell.”

“Hm,” T’song sighed, “This brain has a data transfer module attached to it.”

“I see it. You think, perhaps…?”

“We’ll have to bring this back with us.”

“Agreed, Codicer, but it smells like this thing is leaking amniotic fluid somewhere. That brain could be dead by the time we can do anything with it.”

“Are you suggesting that we repair Xenos technology?”

“I am suggesting we preserve whatever was stolen from the Imperium, sir.”

T’song grunted. “Let’s get this open.”

After dragging it under the cover of the ruined building, two Brothers cut and pried the front plate off the Dreadnought and shined a light within. Commander Falkes sucked in air, “Throne help us.”
The body of a man floated within a transparent crucible of amneotic fluid, his head affixed to the top of the cylinder. It was already a quarter empty, but the machinery sustaining him seemed to be working for the time being. His eyes were wide, though, staring into nothing. He was familiar to him, though. His wide, blue eyes and bushy eyebrows, and his angular features. It was his amputated right arm, just below the elbow, where a bionic implant once called home, which sealed the identification in T’sang’s mind. 

“I know this man.”

The brothers looked up at him. He sighed and toggled his Vox, “Command. We’re going to need a Land Crawler as well.”

There was a squall of static, then, “Understood. ETA 10 minutes.”

After a few moments, T’song said, “Brothers, this is Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Fedriko Caphane. We thought he was lost on Shatara. Clearly he was lost more than we can ever know.”

One of the Brothers broke the long silence which followed, “The Inquisition. That’s the last….”
“Enough, brother,” he interjected. He didn’t want anyone to complete that train of thought, “We must save him, if we can. His mind may reveal information about not only the Orks’ presence here, but for ours as well.”

~ * ~

Memories were easier for Eadburna than other Orks. Some of his memories were very old indeed, though he didn’t possess the capacity to accurately gauge the time which had passed since their inception. The Blood Ravens were a recent memory, though, only one generation distant. Of course, the Chapter’s true name was unknown to him, their appearance and combat doctrine unfolded before him when they struck out with methodical, yet brazen attacks on either of Eadburna’s flanks. 

The enemy’s line was arrayed before him. The rest of the Ork patrols throughout the city were striking randomly and rather wantonly, however some, like his, had a purpose. Fortunately, his objective didn’t lie behind the enemy position, but certainly within firing range. To his right, only a half a block distant, a tall building held a squad of Marines with heavy shootas, spitting deadly ammunition into any unit which came within range and sight. The rest of the buildings at that range seemed to be full of the enemy, but Space Marine shoota fire was like that. They would move about inside their positions and fire from all angles to confuse you.

Eadburna would not be confused by big, stupid beakies. He sent in several waves of Orks to test the enemy’s strength. He soon learned that this part of the enemy line was held by only three squads of the enemy. Certainly, the heavy weapons team was the most dangerous of the threats within range of their Objective, but it was not impossible to crack.

He could sense it, too, the object buried in the park. It lie beneath the surface between the park’s trio of gnarled and malformed trees. There was power buried here. He was surprised the ‘umies had never noticed it before. Or, could it be that it was calling to him? Was it that, before, it hadn’t wanted to be found and now it felt a kindred presence nearby and called out for him?
That must be it. 

He felt another presence in the Warp. It was quite strong. His instincts told him that, somewhere beyond the park, inside one of the Ruins, a blue-armored Marine had arrived. The beakies sometimes tried to confuse the Orks by always painting their armor blue, but the Blood Ravens were more sporting about it and only painted their Weirdboys’ armor blue. This made it much easier to pick them out in a fight. 

It didn’t matter. They would continue to press the ‘umies on all fronts and find the little morsels of knowledge left behind long ago. Eadburna remembered some of it, but it was so far back that it wasn’t a part of him anymore. It was an echo of something that someone else did. But, the funny thing about echoes was that you may not know what they’re saying, but you can hear them just the same and if you’re good, you can tell where they’re coming from.

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