With the fall of the Iron Spires to the ork invaders on 3 027 375.M41, Imperial authorities recognized that the xeno army had gained a dangerous pathway into the heart of Hegira’s northern continent. Thus it was imperative that the Iron Spires be restored to Imperial control.
The task was assigned to Colonel Augustus Klein–commander of the newly arrived Cadian 728th Regiment—who traveled by Valkyrie to the Tarak Mines, just north of the recently lost mountain pass. There, Klein rallied the defeated and dispirited Imperial forces with patriotic speeches and the execution of deserters and reorganized the troops into two reinforced battalions that would lead the counterattack.
By 3 040 735.M41, Imperial forces were deemed ready to resume the offensive, and Col.Klein organized the march out of the Tarak Mines and into the barren wasteland of the Iron Spires.
The vanguard of this advance was led by the regiment’s First Battalion, consisting of two companies of regular Guardsmen, a veteran Stormtrooper company, and a platoon of Armored Sentinels with anti-tank weaponry.
By 3 042 735.M41, orbital reconnaissance satellites reported billowing dust clouds moving in the direction of the Imperial army, and Col. Klein ordered the vanguard to take up a position along the Emperor’s Way, a long-abandoned highway once used to carry ore out of the mountains.
The key to this defensive position was a ruined mining facility—abandoned millennia ago. (It is a historical irony that the Iron Spires were a rich source of ore before terraforming on Hegira advanced to the point of creating a habitable biosphere. Once the moon’s air was habitable, it created the atmospheric conditions that initiated the lightning-rich storms of the Iron Spires—and forced all economic development of the region to cease).
The Northern Flank
(3 042 735.M41)
Company Alpha deployed in the northern sector of the ruins, while Company Beta took up a position to its south. Behind them deployed a mortar platoon, with the Sentinels and a battery of lascannon took position on a nearby elevation. The Stormtroopers, deployed in Chimera, held the left flank of the battalion.
Soon, the Imperial troops could see dust clouds on the horizon–and hear the roar of xeno machines. It was clear that a large body of Ork Speedboyz was advancing on the Imperial position.
Concerned about his southern flank, Col. Klein attempted to communicate with 2nd Battalion and order it to hurry its advance to the scene. But lightning storms overhead interfered with vox communications, and no confirmation of this order was acknowledged by the missing battalion.
Disturbed by the separation of his forces, Col. Klein had little choice but to face the xeno threat with the resources at hand. Soon ramshackle battlewagons appeared out of the dust, and every anti-tank weapon in the battalion was ordered to pen fire.
On the southern flank, this torrent of fire proved successful, with battlewagons exploding and overturning to the cheers of the Guardsmen. The dismounted orks, attempting to cross the open killing ground, soon lost their enthusiasm for the attack, and withdrew.
In the north, the ork mobile advance was able to maneuver behind terrain to avoid the significant Imperial fire and thus closed on the Imperial lines in the ruins. This was the high point of the ork assault, as Ork Trukk Boyz dismounted at the ruin’s edge and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Company Alpha and slaughtered the unit to a man.
With the southern ork advance repulsed, Col. Klein was able to organize a hasty counterattack. Company Beta advanced through the ruins to pour lasgun fire on the orks, while the Stormtroopers’ Chimeras roared with black smoke and swung north and slammed into the ork flank. Caught in a crossfire of immense lasgun volleys and vehicle-mounted auto-cannons, the ork assault force was wiped out.
At this point, light was failing as the star Sculptor began to dip behind the rusty horizon of Hegira. The Imperial forces settled in for the night—the Emperor’s presence restored to the Iron Spires, but Imperial control of the region still in dispute.
The Southern Flank (3 043 735.M41)
As the 1st Battalion was repulsing the xeno attack to the north, the regiment’s 2nd Battalion was struggling to advance and join forces with its brothers in arms.
It was not to be. The region’s lightning storms prevented 2nd Battalion from receiving Col. Klein’s orders to rendezous with its sister battalion.
What’s more, the rocky hills before 2nd Battalion were infested with Gretchin, the dimunitive subspecies of greenskins that often operate on the fringes of the ork armies. Although not a dangerous threat, the extermination of these creatures was necessary to ensure the battalion’s supply lines, so the low-intensity fighting slowed this portion of the Imperial advance.
On the morning after 1st Battalion’s victory over the ork attack, 2nd Battalion found itself subject to assault by several bands of Trukk Boyz, which managed to isolate and destroy a company of infantry that was serving a reconnaissance role in the advance.
The orks’ initial success was quickly stymied by volleys from the main Imperial line, but an attempt by 2nd Battalion’s Chimera-mounted troops to turn the ork flank was savaged in a series of charges that forced the troops to fall back to the main line.
Although Imperial forces declared the second day of battle an Imperial victory, the reality is that the loss of the battalion’s recon company was devastating. Also unreported was the significant casualties from lightning strikes that–while not experienced by 1st Battalion during its fight the previous day–demoralized the 2nd Battalion’s troops and caused catastrophic damage to vehicles’ electronics systems.
Unable to effect a rendezvous between the two Imperial battalions, and with more ork reinforcements reported by orbital probes, Col. Klein recognized that his battalions could again be attacked in isolation–unable to provide mutual support, and with their flanks exposed.
Reluctantly, he ordered a general withdrawal, and the Imperium’s early success in challenging control of Iron Spires ended in a disappointing reversal of fortune.
HEGIRA PLANETARY DEFENSE FORCE (PDF) ASSESSMENT:
EST 02/721 K’NASH BUNKER – PDF SUPREME HQ
INPUT DATE: 3 047 735.M41
INPUT CLEARANCE: Senior Command
AUTHOR: General Tiberius Vectrix (Hegira PDF)
TRANSMITTED: K’NASH Bunker, Hegira
TRANSMITTER: Astropath Aiden Medb
The military threat of an ork invasion is well documented in Imperial records, and the orks of Hegira are living up to the xenos’ intimidating reputation. On the first day of battle, Col. Klein’s success in achieving a “draw” was welcome news–the first time Imperial troops had managed to stay on the field of battle rather than retreat.
Alas, the failure of the 2nd Battalion to more forcefully repulse the orks proved a fatal blow to Imperial hopes of retaking the Iron Spires. Now the strategically important Tarak Mines are at risk, and should these mines fall, the orks will have clear access to the entire Hegira northern continent.
I have no choice but to declare a Priority One Threat Level. Martial law is declared across the moon, and all exemptions to military service are hereby cancelled. No one–from the lowliest mutant scum to the most noble of our aristocracy–will avoid military service.
All civilian traffic from Hegira–upon threat of summary execution–is prohibited. Only military traffic–with the most strict supervision–will be permitted on and off world. We will hold Hegira or die in the Emperor’s service.