An attempt by ork forces to outflank the Imperium’s extensive trench lines in the Sea of Dust was repulsed this morning by brave guardsmen of the 728th Cadian Regiment. Ork casualties were heavy, while Imperial authorities say the battle was so one-sided that no friendly casualties have been reported.—Imperial Newscast, World of Hegira, 3 004 739.M41.
To defend Imperial-held territory from ork invaders, Imperial authorities has dug hundreds of miles of trench lines across the Sea of Dust, Although dangerous, the open, flat terrain of the Sea of Dust is an obvious invasion route to Imperial-held territory to the north, and Hegira military forces have made a priority of discouraging ork incursions by creating strong defensive lines.
That said, the defenses are not contiguous. Despite impressing tens of thousands of laborers to dig, there are gaps in the trench lines, and Imperial troops constantly patrol these areas to prevent ork incursions from bypassing the defenses.
When orbital satellites reported a plume of dust in Sector 501-A-17, Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, 728th Cadian Regiment, was dispatched to investigate and repel what appeared to an attempt by an mechanized ork mob (“Speed Freaks”) to find a chink in the Imperial defenses. Charlie Company was ordered to stop the xenos.
Having detected Charlie Company’s approach, the Speed Freaks sought to gain the upper hand. As a mechanized force, the orks positioned themselves so they could strike at the Imperial vanguard, which consisted only of the Company Command Squad, a recon squadron of two Scout Sentinels, and a supporting Wyvern artillery piece. All hastily deployed near an oasis to meet the xenophobic onslaught.
To their north, a mob of Stormboyz were positioned out of sight in a long-abandoned ruin. To the northeast, two Trukks filled with Boyz were advancing forward, with a mob of Stormboyz waiting in a ruin as a reserve.
Note: In this article, key moments of the battle are accompanied with a number, which corresponds with a number on the battle maps. This will, hopefully, help clarify where events took place.
As is typical of savage and primitive xenos, the orks advanced aggressively. Almost immediately, two Trucks filled with Boyz began advancing on the still-weak Imperial line.
Their advance did not go unchallenged. The Scout Sentinels (5) immediately opened fire, their Multi-lasers tearing apart the chassis of one Truck. (1) One Sentinel was equipped with a pict-recorder, and Imperial authorities say it recorded the satisfying sight of the Truck flipping over, rolling multiple times before stopping, and ejecting its embarked troops most violently. (Alas, the strong ork physiology meant that the ork warriors survived.)
The second ork truck (which proved to be carrying the ork commander) survived Imperial fire to get within weapons range of the Sentinels. (2) Apparently, one passenger on the truck was a psyker (Classification: Weirdboy), who attempted to cast witchfire. Based on what followed, Imperial psykers identified the ork spell by its colloquial name, the “Vortex of Doom,” a very powerful spell that creates a whirlwind of psychic energy.
This vortex was created—a whirlwind of sand, psychic lighting, and warp flame. But something went wrong, as the vortex formed atop the Trukk, consuming the vehicle, the Weirdboy, the ork Warlord, and his Boyz. A quarter of the greenskin force was destroyed in an instance.
Stunned by this turn of events, the Stormboyz held their position. (3)
Imperial Fire Prevails
Things went from bad to worse for the orks. Drawn to the early fighting, the rest of the Imperial force arrived (4 and 6) and began to adding its fire to the conflict. At the overturned Trukk to the northwest (8), the ork warriors picked themselves up from the sand but showed no sign of advancing on the Imperials. But the Scout Sentinels, reinforced by two Armored Sentinels (7), were able to quickly pick off the orks with their Multi-Lasers.
Its the psychic whirlwind randomly drifted across the center of the battlefield, neither human nor ork dared close with the enemy. Instead, long-range fire continued for some time.
The most effective fire came from the Wyvern deployed near the oasis. Given coordinates by observers on the eastern edge of the Imperial line, the Wyvern bombarded the Stormboyz at length, ultimately slaughtering the entire unit. (9)
Last Desperate Assault
With the ork threat nearly annihilated, one last surprise appeared on the horizon: a squadron of Grot tanks. (10) These ramshackle vehicles, moving erratically amidst dark smoke billowing out of their exhaust pipes, crossed the desert slowly—too late to support their larger cousins or influence the battle’s result.
Yet, their arrival meant the battle continued, and its timing caught Charlie Company at an untimely moment. The ork-created Vortex (11) was still active, and it began drifting westward directly toward a platoon of guardsmen advancing to execute any wounded orks still breathing.
As it happened, the Grots reached Imperial lines just as the platoon was running from the Vortex, and a bloody little skirmish took place as clouds of dust and Warp lightning crackled through the air. (12)
No one in Charlie Company is quite certain when the fighting ended. After a confusing exchange of fire, with guardsmen forced to dodge the diminutive Grot tanks that attempted to run them down, the Vortex shifted direction, the swirling sand settled, and the Grot were gone.
If the Grot tanks were consumed by the Vortex, then Imperial authorities say the ork force was completely destroyed—with no loss of life among Imperial troops.
Still, Imperial command is not taking any changes: Now that orks have explored the gap in the Imperial defense line, more than 3,000 laborers, guarded by elements of 7th Battalion, have been dispatched to extend the trench works across this patch of desert.
TheGM: This small narrative fight was not advantageous to the orks. Taking place on open desert, we limited the terrain to one or two pieces per 2-foot-by-2-foot area, and there wasn’t much cover to help the orks avoid Imperial fire.
The results make that clear: Imperial fire was deadly, and the dice gods favored the Imperial troops with great to-hit and to-wound rolls. Of course, the fact that the ork Weirdboy rolled a Peril of the Warp and dropped the Vortex on himself and the most powerful ork unit on the table didn’t exactly advance the greenskin cause.
I almost felt sorry for the Gaffer . . . but I was laughing too hard.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.