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.

“Report.”

“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.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Raid On Pakeshi IV Part 1 - Planetfall



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 story details the Orks' landing on the planet and their initial assault.

This Narrative Battle Report first appeared on Episode 28 of Masters of the Forge.

~ * ~

Captain Nedry Blaise hadn’t quite gotten used to the acrid odor of the Pakeishi IV chem fields. The atmospheric scrubbers dotting the region’s landscape worked day and night to counter the outgassing of chlorine and other dangerous substances from the world’s massive standing pools of waste chemicals. While the air was technically breathable, they did little to negate the smell and, nevertheless, many of the rank-and-file wore gas masks which they were required to purchase with their own meager stipend. They were not provided as standard kit, though, as the need for a mask was negligible if a soldier didn’t fall into the solid fog clinging at ground level. For this reason, hazard barriers and lights dotted the landscape amidst the rest of the monolithic machinery necessary for processing and reclaiming the waste materials from the system’s Hydrochloride operations.

Captain Blaise didn’t take any chances. He stood atop one of the tallest structures between the city and the vast wastes beyond the reclamation plants. From his vantage point atop the rusted manufactorum’s skeleton, he commanded a view of the entire battlefield. It wasn’t quite a battlefield yet, but Blaise had seen the pict feeds from orbit and the inhospitable plains beyond. Xenos had arrived on Pakeshi IV and probably the last type he’d ever hope for: Orks. He’d faced the damned things on Shatara when they overwhelmed that world from top to bottom. He’d worried secretly that his new post on Pakeshi IV might see further action against this insidious foe.

He had channeled those annoying worries into productivity. He’d drawn up numerous battle plans and suggested several simple preparations in the event of an Ork invasion. Imperial Commander Falkes had seen the wisdom of the preparations and they had been carried out, including several combat drills. Just this morning, during the briefing before their forces were deployed, the Commander had commended him on his foresight. The rest of the Captains and Corporals shifted uncomfortably when she insinuated that he may be up for a promotion if they were victorious.
To his left, in the northeast and to his right in the southwest, vast lakes of liquid chemicals stretched as far he could see with his magnoculars. The roiling clouds over these lakes were a constant hazard to anyone attempting a crossing. Invasion was unlikely from these vectors. Just the same, his plans called for low air support reserves to patrol the lakes and aid ground forces as needed.

However, in three places, spokes of dry land radiated from the city which is where all the waste treatment operations were held and also where the likelihood of attack was greatest. He had suggested that they’d do well to disable the atmospheric scrubbers along the Industrial Spokes. Commander Falkes was a reasonable woman in all, but was reluctant to do so; they knew how to turn the scrubbers OFF, but it was unclear as to whether they could be turned back ON again.
So, Captain Blaise held the Southern Spoke. He did so with a full battery of towed artillery and several hundred brave Pakeshi PDF. Although the artillery wouldn’t be strong enough to penetrate the tough skin of many of the Ork vehicels, thankfully, some of the units were armed with tank-breaking weaponry from the surgical Rapier Destroyer Batteries to a few dug-in Cyclops drones. More reinforcements were on the way. However they would not arrive before battle was engaged. In the distance, Blaise could hear the sounds of the approaching rabble. Their engines roared and they plowed through the pipes and run-down facilities with wild abandon. He could not see the approaching enemy, but Captain Blaise knew their vehicles were fitted with strong rams and dozer blades which allowed them to all but take the intervening terrain out of the picture. Blaise had learned one thing from the Orks on Shatara; they did all they were direct, but not stupid. At least, not in a conventional sense.

He’d never tell Commissar Strag that, however. Thinking such might be some damnable Heresy or another. And where WAS Strag anyways? Blaise had heard the man was a local boy, born to a minor noble house, and cast out on the streets when his Mother and Father were both killed in action in service to the PDF. After two years scraping by, he’d been found and befriended by a local Priest and shipped off to the Solar Progenium. Now he was back and he was quite well-liked by the rank-and-file. His bolstering presence would be necessary for the tactics Blaise intended to utilize.

As the sounds of screaming Ork war machines grew louder, Blaise began to think he’d have to make do without the Commissar. He muttered in his vox unit to Corporal Fibb, his artillery commander; one of the few men left of his original command. “Fibb,” he growled, “begin teaching lessons in the Emperor’s justice, if you’d be so kind.” Immediately, the world was full of the music of heavy mortar fire.

~ * ~

Zog knew he’d love this. He knew this would be the best day of his life. It had been a bit of a short life, if he was being honest to himself, which he always was. He’d been on the Kroozer Grishnakh for a few months. He’d been born there, but he did remember the battles on Shatara just the same. Of course, it wasn’t called Shatara, was it? It was now called Toof Throne. It was quite a good name for the boss’s new world, if he was being honest. And he was always honest after all. It saved time.

Sure, he’d fought against other Orks loads of times on the ship. He’d also fought Grots sometimes. Once, he even fought pink jellies that came in from the swirling colors outside the Kroozer’s windows. That had been quite fun, but nothing could beat today. He and hundreds of his fellow greenskins rode screaming chariots of rusted steel, belching black soot behind them and crashing through the pitiful human habitations. Behind them, Big Mek Dreadnutz’s clanking Dreads strode through the holes they’d punched.

Oh, the exhilaration! The joy! His blood pumped through his body in a rush, excitement and pleasure mixing to a crescendo of potential energy he could hardly hold back. And then it occurred to him that holding it back was pointless.

He roared into the toxic wind, his swinging chain held high, as the Trukk he rode smashed through another brittle human barrier, “WAAAAAGH!” Simultaneously, the rest of his mates had joined in his exuberant cry.

Then the cacophony began. Artillery shells crashed and exploded in their midst. Flames licked his face, but he and his mob were unharmed. To his left, he saw two Trukks explode and Orks kareen in all directions.

Zog and the boyz, at the queue of their Nob, Boss Blacktoof, readied themselves to launch from the Trukk when it stopped, so as to use the momentum to throw themselves into the ranks of the enemy. To their surprise, the Humans rushed THEM! They screamed, “For Pakeshi!  For the Emperor!” as they leapt from cover and then slammed into the hulls of the speeding Trukks and Battlewagons. Although many weedy bodies disappeared under the hungry, ramshacke vehicles, Zog noticed the Humans didn’t have shootas or choppas in their hands. They had explosives. In moments, he was surrounded by a blistering conflagration.

~ * ~

Big Mek Dreadnutz and the rest of his bodyguard tumbled out of the battlewagon when it was halted by the suicidal humans. Some of the boyz were pushed directly into the press of enemy bodies and were cut down by flashes of las fire and rugged bayonets. For his part, the Big Mek was not in the mood to wade in against weedy humans today. He pushed to the back of the crazed mob and leapt onto the lower leg of his newest creation, Voltrork, Krumpa ov da Ooniverse. The huge metal monstrosity lurched and swayed as artillery fire and white-hot beams of light glanced off its protective forcefield.

Dreadnutz clambered up and into the crew compartment. Three other Meks were in there, operating the machine while a pair of Burnas did their best with the huge Dread’s blister of anti-personnel weapons. He called down the periscope and took stock of the battlefield.

The Boyz were leaping from their wagons and trukks to engage the enemy. “Good”, he muttered, “keep ‘em back.” He, then, scried the enemy position. On the enemy’s left flank, a formidable castle of artillery festooned a largely ruined but sturdy building. This is where the artillery barrage was thudding from, as well as the flashes of heavy laser fire.  As much as he wanted to assault that position to silence the guns, Boss Drillteef (and, by proxy, Big Mek Dreadnutz) had no designs for the eradication of the enemy at the city borders. His only goal at this stage in the war was to push through the outer defenses and dash for their objective within the city itself. The center of the battlefield was filled with infantry, many of them brandishing special weapons he knew were quite deadly to his wagons and dreads. To his left, the enemy’s right flank, was softer, and comprised of a smattering of Infantry squads. That side was also blocked by a hulking building tall enough to provide cover to the Dreads and remaining vehicles.

Dreadnutz unhooked the Talker and barked his orders into it, “Boyz, hook left, around the big building. Leave them big gunz be. We’ll git em later!” He twisted a knob and pushed a blue button on the Talker’s console. “Oi! Fang Squadron! Break off and make ‘umie meat puddles fer us over ‘ere!”
Mek Barork responded from his screaming jet, “We’z comin, Boss!”

~ * ~

Commissar Julian Strag knew Pakeshi IV better than any other military commander. He knew its people, their weaknesses and their strengths. Before they were deployed, he’d done all he could to bolster the morale of the men and women who would charge into the Ork advance. He thought the Captain’s plan was a good one and the courage of the Pakeshi PDF would hold. But there was only so much the small contingent could do to hold off the Orks.

He’d seen the intelligence reports from the Ork landing sites. They were loaded for speed and the space transports had taken off the moment they’d dropped their cargo. What’s more, they’d ignored the rest of the planet. They just wanted this one location; a city which didn’t even have an official name. It was simply PLX-47 on the maps. The Orks weren’t invading; they had a specific mission in mind.

He’d taken the time to rush over to the makeshift Imperial Command Office in the city center, to engage with the Commander personally.  The conversation was heated. Many preparations had been made for a full invasion and it had cost them a great deal in time and resources. He understood her reluctance to abandon a strategy which had been long planned for. Strag all but begged the Commander to pull back as many forces to the city center as possible to defend whatever key locations she could.

Whether it was his uncharacteristic emphatic pleas or her own assessment of the situation, she had agreed.

And now Strag was riding within the belly of the only combat vehicle he’d been able to commandeer on short notice… a breaching drill. He’d hand-picked a squad of Pakeshi IV’s finest to accompany him and they’d raced for the front line just as the Orks were sighted only a few minutes from their Company’s position.

The battle was already raging when they’d dipped the vehicle’s nose down and activated its melta drill. The earth yawned open before them, turning from solid to gas in an instant. They would make it to the battlefield as fast underground as above. Strag hoped it was fast enough to literally undermine whatever forces broke through their defenses.

~ * ~

Captain Blaise was pleased with the battle so far. Even without the ministrations of the Commissar, the men and women of Pakeshi IV had proven themselves worthy of the uniforms they wore. They’d thrown themselves into the maw of the enemy without fear, and they had all but halted the Ork advance. Casualties were heavy. Many soldiers were flattened by the rushing vehicles and many more had been roasted alive by exploding Ork technology.  Worse were those without gas masks who had been knocked prone and were now coughing up their lungs. Still, the center of the battlefield was awash in close combat and the line held.

Better yet, reinforcements began to arrive. A Leman Russ Exterminator roared onto the battlefield spitting a quarter ton of hot metal at the enemy every six seconds. Throne, he’d grown to adore that machine. The Exterminator was followed by a single Chimera Tank which he ordered forward into the fray.

He allowed himself a moment to take a bigger-picture approach to the battle at hand. He scanned the horizon for more Ork reinforcements and saw none. Curious. On a whim, he scanned to the East with his magnoculars. He uttered a foul curse for what he saw there.

A massive Ork hydrofoil was whisking across the northeast lake. He couldn’t see half the thing because it was obscured by the Chlorine mists, but it was easily sixty feet tall and probably twice as long. A swarm of Vulture Gunships were chasing the monstrosity, trying in vain to topple the thing with their rockets and lascannons. He shook his head. He was helpless to do anything about it. None of the weapons at his disposal had both the range and firepower to damage something like that. He muttered a quiet regret about his chances for promotion and returned his attention to his own battle.

Captain Blaise noticed a curious thing. The Ork Dreadnoughts and what remained of the bulk of the Greenskins were shifting to the west, taking cover behind a large building. On his left flank, a single unit of scrambling, smaller greenskins were struggling with the remnants of the infantry line on that side, but all the other Orks were bending to the right. The realization of the enemy’s plan blossomed into his mind even before the Ork flyers screamed in from the south and laid down a harrowing swarm of bullets into the infantry on his right flank. The Orks weren’t looking for a fight just yet. They were trying to break through.  He engaged his voxcaster once more.

~ * ~

Zog wasn’t angry. Boss Blacktoof wasn’t mad either. These humans were giving a great fight and the Orks fighting side by side with him were crowing with the glee. When he decapitated the last human with a powerful swing of his chain, they laughed in unison and Blacktoof set to finding more prey. Before he could, though, explosions blossomed around him again.

Now THAT made them mad. “COME ‘N FIGHT YA WEEDY COWARDS!”, Blacktoof roared before several shards of shrapnel, both manufactured and organic, filled him with deadly holes.
And, so, Zog stood alone. The zeal for combat drained from him and was instantly replaced with an impulse of self-preservation. “Zog it,” he muttered, “Umies ain’t goin nowhere.” He turned on his heels and began to run. To his dismay, a squad of guardsmen burst from cover and began chasing him down, laying down las fire as they did. Zog dove behind a chugging piece of tortured machinery and it choked and died to a swarm of coherent light. He gagged a bit on the heavy, acrid air at ground level, but he immediately picked himself up and kept running.

He barely had time to notice Voltrork looming to his right before it opened up with all it had at the squad pursuing him. Several Humans were reduced to ash, but the remainder were unaffected by the deaths of their comrades and continued their pursuit.

If Zog was being honest with himself, which he always was, he would have said he was scared.

~ * ~

Dreadnutz shouted challenges into the Talk box. The enormous Dread repeated what he said, but in a massive, booming voice. In his opinion, big, fat warbosses were fools of the highest caliber. Warbosses could lead, make no mistake, but Meks had cunning. Dreadnutz, in the command chair of Voltrork, was the strongest and most deadly Ork in the Sector. No Warboss could stand against him when fused with one of his creations. Why, he ruminated, was it that so many warbands were led by such blunt instruments and not madboyz like Boss Drillteef and great generals like Big Mek Skar ‘ead? Or even himself?

He was not feeling confident about their chances. His brain worked differently from the common Ork. He could see the cause and effect of his actions. He knew they were in dire straits. He gave himself time to wonder if that was why Drillteef had tapped him for the command of this mission. Perhaps it wasn’t his ferocious Dreads. Perhaps it was his ability to avoid taking stupid chances.

Far off, on the opposite side of the battlefield, the Gretchin and their fool of a Runtherd accompanied by the dumbest Mek in his service charged yet another squad of Humans. They were actually not doing all that poorly, but they were serving no purpose. They were acting on instinct. That should give purpose enough, and normally it would, but Boss Drillteef needed a specific job to be done and throwing themselves into the enemy artillery wouldn’t serve that purpose. Dreadnutz almost wished they were within range of Voltrork’s weapons.

Making matters worse, Old Greg was lost. The Weirdboy was supposed to assist him in the location of their ultimate prize. Instead, he’d suffered an inglorious end in the blasted-out ruin they’d been skirting around. A mortar shell had landed directly on him and his unit. Nothing was left of them but random body parts and a blackened pool of gore.

No time to lament his misfortune.

He directed the Voltrork and the other two remaining Dreads around the building. The enemy’s firebase was directly to his right now, but the enemy was quick to pivot their guns against him, pockmarking the gigantic Dread and ruining one of its big shootas. He was not fazed. He ordered the meks to start working on repairs.

Then, in front of them, a mass of enemy reserves poured onto the battlefield from several ruins to the north. They had advanced up the enemy’s right flank behind cover. Now a wall of human flesh and armor-tearing weaponry stood between the Orks and their breakthrough.  Dreadnutz subconsciously calculated the odds. A few units still pushed in from the center and threatened their exposed right flank, so he directed one of his Dread bodyguards to engage them.

The dread hurled itself into the enemy and wrecked one of their tanks, tearing it open with massive, crumping claws. A few desperate guardsmen inside screamed in terror and squeezed the triggers hard on their plasma guns. Bolts of superheated matter blazed through the rent in the tank’s hull. One lucky plasma bolt tore into the Dread’s underbelly as it loomed overhead and penetrated the fuel tank.
The explosion was incredible. A pillar of smoke and flame erupted into the pale, green sky. Shrapnel plunked off Voltrork’s hull.

The last remaining Battlewagon, Dread, and Voltrork itself pressed towards the Infantry standing between them and their objective.

“Okay Boyz,” he regarded the Meks and Burna Boyz in the compartment with a toothy grin. His slugga was drawn in order to punctuate the seriousness of the forthcoming order, “Get out an gimmie a path of dead ‘umies.”

~ * ~

The Commissar began to hear the thud thud thud of artillery strikes above them. They were faint at first, but they invariably grew louder. They were on the right course. When he thought the moment was right, Strag ordered the pilot to breach the surface. The magnetometer guided their breach away from obstacles and they pushed through. He all but pushed his men out of the hatch.

All was cacophony. Artillery blasted around them. Rapid-fire bullets buzzed overhead. Blasts of crackling energy following them. He looked up to their source and saw it… a massive, multi-colored Ork monstrosity of huge proportions. He’d heard of such things before, but had never experienced them. He screamed an order to his team and they released demolitions charges into the behemoth while he tried to score it with his plasma pistol. It didn’t even seem to notice them. It strode forward towards the fragile infantry line.

“CHARGE! Charge that thing and bring it down! The greenskins are stupid creatures. Are you afraid of a lesser life form so devoid of cunning! Into the fight!” He burst forward and his charges followed him along with the Breaching Drill, its business end still glowing hotly.

They raced towards the beast. As they did so, a small squad of Orks lept from the front of the thing and charged towards the Pakeshi lines. Promethium flames and white-hot energy blasts annihilated guardsman and Ork alike.

There was no time to think of that. The huge Dreadnought had to be brought down. As they made contact with it, other Pakeshi infantry charged into a smaller, red Dreadnought and also the injured remnants of a squad of Orks clambering out of a burning Battlewagon.

The bigger Dread swung at his team ponderously, but with great effect. Single, massive swings with its left arm bludgeoned some of his men to death while the cluster of spinning blades at the end of it rendered others into piles of sick meat, including the Drill’s operator. The Dread groaned as it killed. And cackled. Yes, the beast did, indeed scream a tinny laugh as it tore into his men. Good men.

Part of him was enraged, but he kept that part of him locked away during battle. He did not let it control him. He bounded for the Breaching drill in two steps and manned the external controls. He barely knew what he was doing, but he pushed the throttle forward and pressed it into the Dreadnought’s leg. The breaching drill began to EAT it, melting the metals and cooking off the impurities. His surviving troopers were able to attach a few explosive charges to the beast’s other leg as well. They leapt back.

A number of things happened in the four seconds the Dread had in this world. First, Commissar Strag noticed a hatch open in the crotch of the Dread and a hulking shape dropped out of it. It was a big creature, probably three times his size. It was festooned with belts, tools, and pouches. He wore mechanical goggles and had a ponderous pack slung on his back and he held a curious-looking axe and pistol which seemed to both be decorated with all manner of pointless, rusted baubles.

The Ork saw him and smiled. Smiled! That rather shocked him, but the Commissar wasn’t too stunned to raise his Plasma Pistol. Before he could squeeze a shot off, though, the Ork leapt away as the explosives placed by his troopers went off. He tried to leap out of the way as well and he did avoid the slowly toppling Dread itself, but the shockwave rolling from one side of the Dread to the other caused the molten metal streaming from the monster’s leg to vibrate and burst out out, splattering Strag with searing clumps of pure pain.

In spite of himself, he screamed. He screamed for what seemed like an eternity before the sweet release of unconsciousness took him.

~ * ~

Humility was a good lesson for anyone to learn. From his vantage point, Captain Blaise witnessed Commissar Strag learn that lesson well. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite tell whether the lesson was wasted on a dead man or not.

No matter. His victory here was complete. Not a single Ork had escaped the battlefield. Not one. The explosion of the massive war machine heralded the end of all Ork attackers on the Southern Spoke as far as he could tell. Nothing but heaping bodies and burning wreckage remained. “Well done, Pakeshi 4-323rd! The Emperor’s light shines upon us. Flamer squads! Begin purging the Xenos bodies. I want nothing to remain of them but ash.”

He, then voxed his status to the city center HQ. Corporal Gray replied, “Excellent, Blaise. Now get your damned troopers into the city. We’re under attack. Do not wait for further details if you don’t get any. I don’t know how much longer the HQ will hold. We need extraction for the Commander”
He cursed. The hydrofoil must have gotten through. He said, “Emperor be with you, Corporal. We will make haste.”

~ * ~

Zog ran and ran. He didn’t tire easily, but he eventually became aware of the uselessness in continuing to run. No one was pursuing him. He stopped and looked back. In the distance, pillars of smoke rose up. The only sound was the light breeze in his ears and the skittering of large, nasty-tasting insects. The air was difficult to breathe so far away from the human habitats, but he didn’t feel as if he was suffocating, though.

He was glad to have lived to see another fight and he tried to think of a way he could get back into the fray. These humans were the best he’d ever fought! Even though he’d never fought humans before, that sentiment still seemed to have value because he actually HAD fought humans before; on countless battlefields throughout countless centuries. This specific thought never really entered his mind, of course. He only knew he must fight. The urge was too strong to deny. He had to find other Orks.

He’d never SNEAKED before. And that was the truth. He never had. He figured today was a good day to learn. Zog began trodding back whence he came while munching on a dready supper of Pakeshi scorpions. Perhaps the humans would have moved on by the time he passed through. Perhaps he could loot the germinating corpses of his fallen comrades for some better weaponry. He might even pry a few teef out of their heads. Why not? THEY wouldn’t be using them.

Before he’d even taken his fifth step towards the city, his brain began to hurt. So much hurt in the brain was a well-known sensation to him. He’d felt it around Weirdboyz. He stopped and grabbed his head, and tried not to double over in pain. The air around him seemed to suck away and he was breathless for a moment. Then, in a puff of ozone, a squeal of tortured reality, and a green flash of light, Old Greg stood before him. And promptly collapsed.

The Ork was badly injured. His skin was blackened and peeling. He had at least three wounds where the flesh had been badly cooked off by las bolts. The Weirdboy groaned, but was not conscious. If Zog didn’t lift him up, Old Greg would suffocate and die.

He struggled with the decision for only a few seconds. Clearly two Orks were better than one and that was the plain truth. Only a fool couldn’t see that, and Zog’s survival had proven he was no fool. To celebrate, he decided he’d call himself Scragzog from now on. He picked up injured Weirdboy and threw him over a shoulder. Scragzog grinned. Yeah. There was lots more fighting to do yet.

Shatara Lost, a Prelude to the Raid on Pakeshi IV



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. The first stage of this conflict is Shatara.

This Narrative Battle Report first appeared on Episode 26 of Masters of the Forge.

~ * ~

The remnants of the WAAGH! Drillteef flotilla prowled the Pakeshi sector. It was an ornery lioness stalking a cage, daring anyone to test its mettle. Of course, although these Orks had chosen to stay with Mad Doc, many of the warlords under his banner had done so only to bide time until they could ultimately assume control themselves. Drillteef had to strike fast.

Drillteef and his chief advisor, Big Mek Skar ‘Ead had grand designs within the Pakeshi sector which he kept secret from most of his generals, though it was really meaningless. Any fight would do at this point and he set his intentions on the Shatara system.

Shatara is a lonesome Brown Dwarf which roams the emptiness between the stars of the Pakeshi sector. Its only habitable world, Shatara I, lies very close to the little star’s dim, red light. The resources on the world and its dozen moons have been mostly played out, but are still a good source of souls for the Imperial Guard. Indeed, one continent boasts lush Deathworld conditions and is full of horrific dangers which produce some truly unique and deadly soldiers. The other significant world in the system, Shatara III, is a huge gas giant which has scooped a massive path in the system’s enormous asteroid belt. Both the belt and the world are mined for raw materials.

Shatara offers very little resistance compared to other systems in the sector and it is within striking distance of the I’aden sub-sector and the WAAGH!’s penultimate goal, Pakeshi IV, in particular. Drillteef knew that a frontal assault on Pakeshi IV would not be successful; the resistance would just be too great.  Instead, he intended to take Shatara in order to build a steady resource stream for the forthcoming campaign. After that, well, he told few of his advisors those plans.

All hinged on Shatara I, though. Not only for his tenuous hold on leadership, but strategically for future conquests in the region. Therefore, Drillteef threw every Boy, Nob, and Battlewagon he had at the world. The rank and file embodied their Warlord’s desperation and zeal. They cut a ruthless swath from city to city, taking slaves by the millions and immediately setting them to work in the Manufactorums. It hadn’t occurred to the local PDF to destroy or sabotage their own infrastructure until it was too late. They had no reason to, of course, considering their knowledge of Orks was limited to the close-minded teachings of the Imperial Truth. Only when the factories started churning out soot-belching monstrosities of Orkin design did the Imperial forces finally start scuttling their holdings before every retreat.

~ * ~

A traditional combined force of Imperial units defended the world for months, trying to stem the tide of Orks swarming them.  The order was finally given to flee the inevitably lost system and exact Exterminatus upon Shatara I, if possible. Unfortunately, Exterminatus now seemed highly unlikely due to the heavy resistance being offered by the Orks in orbital space. It was almost as if the Orks had sensed the impending fall-back and stepped up their swarm of Fighta-Bommas and Torpedo barrages.

The Imperium held a few Cruisers as well as a handful of lesser transports in a tenuous orbit above the last remaining defensive cordon. A small, but mighty cadre of defenders volunteered to hold the ground position in order to give the Imperial Commander as well as other high-ranking officials a chance to dust off to relative safety. This force consisted of several different sub-factions.

The group in charge of this operation were a small contingent of Blood Ravens who had recently been operating throughout the Pakeshi Sector. They were already deployed on Shatara I when the Orks attacked, though they had offered no explanation as to why. Throughout the months of fighting, they had grown dubious of Drillteef’s motives in the sector, convinced that there was more to the warlord’s motivations than pure conquest.

Bolstering their numbers was a mixed force of the remaining PDF and House Militia.  They used whatever prefabricated defenses they could to fortify their position, hoping to create adamant speedbumps for any advancing Ork vehicles. Rounding out the local guard was a venerated Shadowsword with its support team led by a Tech Priest.

The Shadowsword remained on this doomed world because no heavy lifting capacity could be found or brought on-planet in the end. Due to this, three Imperial Knight Paladins joined the last stand. The Knight pilots vowed to fight to their last breath so that their families and patrons might be spared. In all cases, the pilots of all these great warmachines were ordered to scuttle the vehicles before they were overwhelmed so that the Orks would not loot the vehicles for their own.

~ * ~

After receiving a report from by Kommandos from the defensive position taken by the remaining Imperial forces, Drillteef knew just the Ork to take out this seemingly-impregnable wall of heavy metal: Boss Wagonkrumpa. Wagonkrumpa was notorious throughout Ultima Segmentum for suffering from a lack of temper and ambition, yet was still a true terror on the battlefield, snapping into a crazed fury when roaring to war in one of his many kustom Battlewagons. Wagonkrumpa was one of Drillteef’s most celebrated and successful warriors and the blitz on Shatara was right up his alley - it wasn’t a calculated battle of attrition Drillteef needed, but a hammer’s strike!

Two squads of Wagonkrumpa’s best ‘Ard Boyz and another two teams of fanatical Tankbustas mounted their roaring Battlewagons and smashed through the city followed closely by a swarm of Trukks including Wagonkrumpa and his Nobz, a team of Lootaz and several teams of Gretchin (for managing the spoils of war, of course). They were also accompanied by one of Drillteef’s personal MegaNob squads jaunting about in their own slim Battlewagon.. Big Mek Skar ‘Ead, while he didn’t join this particular fight, donated a pair of Kannon Wagons for the battle.

In due course, they were screaming towards their quarry. Black exhaust trailing behind them and a din of roaring engines echoing through the broken ruins were their heralds.

~ * ~

The Battlewagons ripped through the skeletal remains of the little city. They were a cacophony of screeching metal, exploding masonry, and screaming engines. In the distance, a space transport was pushing itself through the air on a pillar of plasma flame. “FASTA!!!” Wagonkrumpa roared.

Nearby, on the other side of a fast, little river, stood the defenders. Three tall Imperial Knights stood as monolithic shadows under the sun’s pale, red light. The gray Shadowsword growled to itself. It was almost invisible to the eye regardless of its colossal girth thanks to the dim light and the machine’s gray hull.

“Ready!” called out one of the Angels of Death. The order was voxed throughout the detachment.

Outside, even through the echoing din of the approaching Orks, the sounds of heavy ammunition rotating into the three Knights’ rapid-fire Battle Cannons and the whine of the cycling of the Shadowsword’s mighty Volcano Cannon could be easily heard by the few remaining House guard troops scattered throughout the ruins. It gave them heart.

“FIRE!”

Thunder and lightning ripped across the battlefield. Girders and plascrete buckled and melted under the barrage of Lascannons and Plasma Cannons from two flanking Blood Raven positions. The Knights held their ground on the center and right flanks and pummeled the oncoming Ork convoy with a staccato burst of heavy ordnance.

The Battlewagons barged through the ruined hab blocks even as they were blasted by Battle Cannon shells. Suddenly, the world was full of light as the Volcano Cannon found its mark and melted the engine compartment of one Battlewagon, stopping it dead in its tracks. The Tankbustas inside seemed oblivious to the hot radiation, however, and simply began launching Rokkits at a tasty-looking Knight.

Somehow, Wagonkrumpa’s Trukk, grumbling up the Imperium’s right flank, was spotted by one of the Knights and then blasted into pieces, sending Nobz and Boss careening out of its broken husk. Instead of being left stranded behind his own lines, he reached out with his massive Power Klaw as the Meganobz’ own slim and agile Battlewagon screamed by. The engine was clearly too small for the load it was carrying, but the liberal use of high-energy fuels in the vehicle solved that mechanical conundrum with delightful ease. Fire roared out the pipes as the machine blazed towards its quarry.

The Ork advance was implacable. Although a Kannon Wagon was engulfed in a terrible ammunition explosion, cratering the general vicinity, the rest of the Battlewagons weathered the storm with relative ease, shells blasting full-force on their front armor and leaving only scratches. The Shadowsword threw everything it had into the oncoming horde, obliterating one Battlewagon which was pushing towards its position on the Imperium’s left flank. Over a dozen Orks clambered out of the wreckage, thankful for their ‘eavy armor and the administrations of their Painboy.  A sizzling Weirdboy also emerged from the Battlewagon’s ruin, grinning from ear to ear and floating, never touching the ground.

However, the arrival of a trio of tank-busting flyers spelled doom for another Battlewagon loaded with Boyz. Coherent light lanced into the behemoth’s front quarter, melting the engine and ruining its front axle. Twenty Orks, also led by a Weirdboy and tended by a Painboy, cheered with mad glee and careened out of their decimated conveyance.

The pilot of the most brazen of the three Imperial knights swore an unsavory oath as his tactical display lit up with hundreds of incoming projectiles. It was too late, though; the missiles were all fired iron-sights rather than with a target lock, thus making the early detection systems nearly useless. The second Battlewagon full of Tankbustas had pushed up the Imperium’s right flank before pounding the glorious machine’s hull. This was followed by Tracer-lit, high-impact rounds out of the Lootaz’ trukk. Even with its carapace shredded and its klaxon’s screaming in pain, the Knight was a brazen beast, pushing forward.  It came face to shield with a Kannon Wagon which had pushed right up the center of the field. A single shell from the grinning tank’s gun crumped out of its breach and slammed into the pockmarked hull of the knight. The Knight’s death throes bathed the dimness in white heat.

Although a single Battlewagon did manage to breach through the Shadowsword’s position on the left flank, the Boyz within had bitten off more than they could chew and were faced with a greater force of house guard and Space Marines along with a lumbering Dreadnought. They held their own in close combat for a short time, tying up the heavy weapons in those units, and scissoring a hapless Librarian in two with a Power Klaw, but they never made it to their ultimate goal. When the dust settled, the position was held and the Orks were naught but spore factories.

The two squads of ‘Ard Boyz with their Painboyz and Weirdboyz tried desperately to push through the wall of oncoming Battlecannon fire. Shells exploded all around them even as the flyers dropped in graduates of the Solar Progenium all around them. The Orks faced these threats with zeal, although, the Scions did plenty of damage to the remaining Orks and vehicles.

At great length, a small group of five Orks and a Weirdboy did manage to push through the middle and launch itself into assault with a squad of harrying Blood Raven bikes. Green fire poured out if the Weirdboy’s eyes and mouth as the Orks all around him seemed to impact the Space Marines with unnatural force. The Weirdboy’s staff was a nuclear blast of force, incinerating the squad Seargent with a single blow. However, they were only three by the time they broke away from the bikers. Although they eventually did launch themselves at the Shadowsword, hammering at its hull with Warp-infused strength, the Techpriest within cycled up the Volcano cannon and closed its breech, incinerating the tank and everything around it.

Meanwhile, the Imperium’s right flank proved the weakest as the Tankbustas on that side and Wagonkrumpa along with the Meganobz roared into assault position, using the momentum of their transports to launch themselves into the two remaining Knights. Wagonkrumpa cackled with glee when he heard the rumbling explosion of the Knight engaged by the Tankbustas. As for himself, he hamstrung his Knight with a single Klaw-swipe, bringing one knee crashing down. The Meganobz surprised the knight pilot with a surprising nimbleness as they swarmed over its carapace, cutting and smashing at key components. Wagonkrumpa wasn’t really paying attention as the second knee came down right on top of him, crushing his bones.

The last knight pilot was alone, in a kneeling position, and watching the carnage around him.  He could feel the Orks swarming his machine, ripping and tearing. He prayed his thanks to the glorious Emperor of Mankind and detonated his machine, incinerating his assailants.

A quiet fell over the battlefield. Only the dim buzz of two fleeing Trukks full of Gretchin and Lootaz and the sick burning of priceless Imperial war machines could be heard over the sounds of the escaping transports blasting off from the nearby spaceport.

The Blood Ravens, accompanied by some of the Scions, rummaged through some of the debris in search of survivors. They hadn’t explained, however, that it was Ork survivors they were looking for. They found Wagoncrumpa beneath the leg greave of the smoking debris of the Knight he’d helped bring down. He was alive, but barely. The surviving Librarian also found himself a treasure. The Weirdboy had somehow survived the blast of the exploding Shadowsword. The Xenos’ eyes had burned out of its head and it was horribly disfigured. He ordered that both of the Orks be taken and kept sedated for questioning. He wanted to know why they’d come to this particular backwater world of this particular sector.

Once the prisoners were secured and the wounded had been given the Emperor’s Peace, the Scions’ transports lifted the survivors to the safety of their orderly retreat.

In the end, the world never suffered Exterminatus, but a more dangerous threat to Drillteef’s plans was at large; the Blood Ravens now knew he was looking for a way to summon forth Tuska and his horde and the answers to that riddle were on Pakeshi IV.