“The metal monstrosity towered over the ork horde, an insane mockery of the ork gods … yet a mockery whose deadly firepower shifted the balance of power on Hegira.”—Third Battle of the Tarak Mines, History of the 728th Cadian Regiment, 700-800.M41 (Volume 1,892)
As the battle raged on, Captain Tellis effectively surrendered his command of the Imperial armor as he became fixated with taking down the Stompa. He fired round after round, yet he found that his shells were either deflected by some kind of force field—or penetrated the field but bounced harmlessly off the thick armor of the walker.
“Get me the Titan-buster,” Tellis finally yelled.
This was a decision born of desperation. It had taken some questionable dealings for the captain to acquire one of these rare but immensely powerful shells—and he’d intended to hold onto his prize until the day he came across an opponent that could be beaten no other way.
That day had come.
Tellis cursed his loader repeatedly as he waited for the shell to be loaded. Made of a rare but heavy mineral—whose name the commander couldn’t recall—the shell was beyond the ability of his loader to manhandle alone. It eventually took three men to get the shell into the breech of the battle cannon.
With relish, Tellis worked the targeting mechanism of his beloved tank, again—for the fifth time—bringing the crosshairs of his battle cannon’s auspice directly over the Stompa’s chest.
Pausing just long enough to offer a prayer to the Emperor, he fired.
It took only a moment before the Stompa was engulfed in an explosion—one so violent he saw several orks thrown off the roof of a nearby building by the shock wave.
Then, to his horror, the flames and smoke cleared—and he could see only a few torn armor plates where the Titan-busta had struck.
The Stompa stood defiant, its weapons blazing away at the Imperial line as if nothing had happened.
Battle for the skies
In the previous year, an additional squadron of Valkyrie gunships had joined the Imperial forces on Hegira, a necessity given the growing number of ork aircraft challenging the human defenders for air superiority.
After the first strafing run of Dakkajets, the ork fliers found themselves confronting an ever-growing number of Imperial aircraft. Two Dakkajets were shot down almost immediately, and even Eddy Rikken Orker’s jet was struck a glancing blow.
Several dogfights broke out in the skies, easing the deadly “fire from the sky” that earlier had slaughtered so many Imperial guardsmen. But then a new threat arose. Barely clearing the sand dunes to the Imperium’s eastern flank appeared a contingent of Deffkoptas.
The small one-ork skimmers veered erratically across the rear of the Imperial line, targeting anything from troop concentrations to supply depots as they fired wildly. One squadron, annoyed by anti-air fire, turned on a nearby Hydra battery and managed to damage it slightly.
In all the confusion, overlooked by human and ork was a small group of Valkyries that swept across the battlefield without getting engaged in the dogfights overhead—and refused opportunities to strafe ground targets. Instead, these aircraft moved quickly in the direction of the Stompa.
When walkers collide
On the western flank, tall spires of rock—carved by millennia of dust-filled winds—broke up the battlefield, making long-range fire almost impossible.
A few Killa Kans were exposed for brief moments as they worked their way through the rock formations, and they were quickly targeted and destroyed by Imperial lascannon positioned specifically to meet this threat.
Yet a sizable number of ork walkers finally closed on the Imperial line, and two squadrons of Sentinels—supported by Chimeras filled with Veteran guardsmen armed for close-in armor fighting—advanced to meet them.
The fighting was intense. Sentinels and Killa Kans fired at one another at point-blank range, while Veteran infantry ran amidst the shuffling metallic legs to throw krak grenades or fire off a meltaguns from mere meters away.
The crisis of this flank arrived late in the day, when several Deff Dreads attempted to bust the Imperial lines. Smashing through a hasty defensive position set up by Chimeras, the Deff Dreads drove back several squads of Veterans until fresh reserves of Sentinels arrived
By 15:00, the battle’s resolution was up in the air. Although the orks’ attack on the western flank had been stymied, the Stompa and the occasional strafing Dakkajets were racking up immense casualties among the Imperial infantry.
Something needed to be done to take out the Stompa.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our wargaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.