IMPERIAL BROADCAST (3 861 738.M41)—The Imperial Navy today conducted a massive bombardment of ork-held positions on the moon of Hegira.
Nuclear weapons, magma bombs, and lance strikes targeted xeno troop concentrations, key logistical centers, and manufacturing complexes across the desert moon, military authorities announced. At least a quarter of a million xeno troops and thousands of war vehicles were annihilated in a 10-hour bombardment by a navy task force of six cruisers and dozens of destroyers and frigates.
The orbital attack, code named Operation Skyfire, was organized in great secrecy, with only the most senior Imperial military and civilian officials aware the mission was planned. Indeed, most Imperial units across Hegira were caught off-guard and scrambled to full alert, believing the orbital bombardment was the initial stage of an ork attack.
The bombardment targeted ork positions across two-thirds of Hegira. Magma and nuclear bombs reported leveled the stratetically important Barad Mine, which fell to the orks earlier this year and was viewed as a staging area for any future ork attack. In recent months, military authorities estimate, nearly a quarter million ork warriors had gathered in the mining complex.
Lances strikes also destroyed more than 30 square kilometers of the Herak Manufactorum, which military auhtoirties say had become a major construction center that was responsible for the growing number of ork war vehicles.
Other targets included the Z’yra Mines, Prox Hydroponic Farm, and a major port on Veris Island
“This orbital assault is a pre-emptive strike agaisnt the xeno invaders,” General Tiberius Vectrix said in a briefing late today. “The goal is to destroy the offensive capabilities of the orks, allowing us to seize the military inititiave and begin our campaign to drive the xenos off Hegira.”
More cycnical pundits suggest the military’s optimistic assessment of the orbital strike is nothing but propaganda. They suggest the assault was a desperate measure to counter what has become an overwhelming build-up of ork troops that may be impossible for Imperial troops to stop. Some suggest the orbital attack, despite its impressive intensity, will not be sufficient to stop the greenskin invaders.
General Vectrix dismissed such “defeatist propaganda” but admitted that the ork threat has grown alarmingly in recent months. Since the orks arrived on Hegira five years ago, the xenos’ unique reproductive process has allowed the ork population to increase expotentially, despite devastating casualties in recent years.
It’s estimated that there are now as many orks on the moon as humans.
What’s more, the capture of the Herak Manufactorum four years ago, as well as the seizure of the Tarak and Barad mines, has allowed the orks to develop a manufacturing capability that is producing weaponry and war vehicles at a rate that nearly equals the manufacturing output of human-held manufactorums on Hegira and the influx of off-world reinforcements to the Imperial Guard.
“As things stood, we were looking at the orks having more troops, more tanks, more aircraft, and just more of everything unless something was done,” Vectrix said. “It was essential to use our one clear area of superiority—our orbiting navy—to devastate the orks’ war-making capabilities.”
Although many applaud the massive strike against the xeno invaders, some members of the aristocracy and Adeptus Mechanicus expressed outrage at the wholesale destruction of key centers of the moon’s economy.
“It’s bad enough that orks occupy my manufactorums in the southern hemisphere,” said industrialist Iago Mephistopholes, who owned extensive holdings in the Herak Manufacturom before the ork invasion. “But for Imperial authorities to simply destroy my property, rather than drive the xenos out into the desert, it’s just criminal. I shall demand restitution for my losses.”
One senior military official, who wished to remain anonymous, said his first thought upon hearing Mephistopholes’ comments was to have the industrialist arrested.
“The man is a fool and a traitor. We’re fighting a desperate battle to hold this moon for the Emperor, and all he can worry about is his manufactorums? The xenos have stripped it bare by now. It doesn’t exist. How can the man not realize the threat we face?”
A more serious political backlash came from members of the Adeptus Mechanicus, whose Cult of the Machine God views the destruction of technology as a great sin. Hundreds of Tech Priests initially refused to support the war effort when they heard of the orbital strikes.
There is still bad feeling among the Tech Priests, but they returned to their duties after learning that Forgemaster Sergius Technicus had consented to the destruction of Mechanicus centers.
It’s reported that Praetor Favious Syagrius, Imperial governor of Hegira, and Gen. Vectrix spent more than a month providing the forgemaster with military, demographic, and technical data to convince him of the military necessity of the orbital strikes.
“The use of our technological and industrial centers by the xenos is an affront to the Omnissiah,” Technicus explained in a public statement. “For the orks to soil our sacred technology, to taint it with their touch, is unacceptable.”
“With the greatest of sorrow—but with absolute convinction in its necessity—I celebrate that the xenos have been punished for the abomination that they are. It is to be hoped that the Omnissiah recognizes that his humble servants had no choice but to destroy would could not be regained and re-sanctified.”
Another serious concern being raised about the Imperial attack is its effect on the moon’s biosphere. The bombardment’s explosive power—the equivalent of 2.3 million terajoules of energy —sent nearly 500 cubic kilometers of smoke, ash, and debris into the atmosphere.
As a result, the moon is quickly being engulfed in a moon-wide ash cloud that is expected to block the sun for at least two years. The impact on the sparse vegetation of the moon, as well as upon the fish population in the Byrgius Sea., is unclear but expected to be serious. Indeed, Imperial authorities are making plans for strict food rations and the need to import food from off-world to feed the civilian and military population that still survives on Hegira.
“If we win, we may be left with a devastated world that cannot feed itself—and where the moon’s biosphere degrades to the point where humans will not be able to walk outside without rebreathers,” one biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus suggested. “The moon’s surface will be as dead as Mars . . . but hopefully we will at least have won the war.”
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