Imperial Voxcast (3 994 739.M41)—”A powerful ork attack yesterday failed to break through the stout Imperial defenses on Hegira’s Sea of Dust. Ork casualties are estimated at nearly 80 percent, and the xeno survivors reportedly fled into the barren wastelands of the planet’s southern hemisphere.”
+ News Bulletin, Unsanctioned +
Censored, Distribution a Class-A Felony
Order of Officio Perfectus
All copies of this unauthorized bulletin are to be surrendered to authorities immediately, and any information as to those involved in its printing or distribution will be reported to your unit commissar or the nearest Adeptus Arbites station.
+ + +
BULLETIN—An official proclamation declaring victory on the Sea of Dust is true on the face of it, but it it fails to document the significant casualties suffered by Imperial forces—and ignores evidence of critical weaknesses in the Imperial defenses.
So say a number of PDF officers and guardsmen who survived the fight. While mouthing Imperial propaganda publicly, once out of earshot of military commissars, these dispirited military professionals say they are worried about another major ork offensive.
“We’ve dug a lot of ditches, built a lot of bunkers, but the troops are spread thin and their morale is low,” noted one grizzled sergeant who insisted on anonymity. “We’re seeing increasing numbers of ork raids and attacks designed to test our defenses and locate our gun positions. That’s usually a sign that some ork warlord is readying himself for a big push.”
Imperial authorities are saying quite the opposite. According to Gen. Tiberius Vectrix, supreme commander of Imperial forces on Hegira, this latest victory over the xeno invaders is evidence that Imperial defenses are now unassailable.
“We have the men, we have the equipment, we have the guns and tanks we need,” he said. “Our brave soldiers will not falter, and the filthy orks will be slaughtered in the tens of thousands.”
It is true that the orks suffered greatly in their attack, and the defensive lines remain in human hands, but reports by ordinary guardsmen suggest the victory was not as one-sided as official proclamations suggest.
Human casualties also were horrendous, and it appears the orks—whose forces were relatively modest—actually broke through a two-kilometer section of Imperial lines, despite massive trench works, plasteel redoubts, and the laying of massive mine fields.
Over the past five years, military forces have dug nearly 800 kilometers of trenches and built more than 400 bunkers and strongholds across the relatively flat but barren Sea of Dust. Harsh conditions have killed hundreds of guardsmen and PDF troops, leaving some to suggest that the heat, dust storms, and pockets of treacherous “lightning sand” have done as much to stem the ork invaders as have Imperial defenses.
“I’d estimate that perhaps 3,000 orks were involved in this attack,” said one officer. “Yet they punched a two-kilometer hole in our lines. What if there had been 30,000? What if they’d had the reserves to exploit the breakthrough?”
The ork attack began on 3 991 739.M41, at dawn, with a mechanized vanguard of Trukks, Looted Wagons, and mechanized walkers [Classifications: Deff Dreads and Killa Kans].
Defending this section of the Imperial line were the 4th Battalion of the 117th Hegira PDF Regiment,the 23rd Armored Platoon of the 4th Hegira Armored Regiment, the 4th Battery of the 728th Cadian Regiment, and the 2nd Armored Sentinel Squadron of the 728th.
The orks lost several vehicles to long-range Imperial fire, but sufficient numbers of orks reached the front line, and Imperial casualties mounted quickly. Orks with “Killa Klaws” [power weapons] overwhelmed the Armored Sentinels in hand-to-hand combat, while the ork walkers literally tore apart the vehicles of the 23rd Armored Platoon and Cadian battery.
Imperial forces responded quickly. Although remaining armored assets were committed to stopping the attack on the western portion of the battle, a reserve force of mechanized companies and special weapons teams, embarked on Chimeras, were dispatched to challenge the ork breakthrough.
Despite facing a superior force, these reserves attacked ferociously. Individual veteran units performed heroic feats of courage, sacrificing guardsmen’s lives to sweep ork infantry with heavy flamers or fire meltaguns at Killa Kans at suicidal, point-blank range.
The ork attack finally was stopped when a squadron of Valkyries appeared over the horizon to pound the still-advancing but slowing orks with lascannon and missile fire.
Strategically, the battle was a victory for the Imperium. Although the orks did advance several hundred meters past the Imperial defenses, there were far too few survivors to hold this position against Imperial reinforcements that rushed to the scene. The orks ultimately were forced back.
On a tactical level, the battle devastated the combat units defending the position. All four defending units suffered 95 percent casualties, leaving these units essentially lost to the Hegira war effort. The mechanized reserve forces reported 50 percent casualties.
More alarming, some Imperial officers are saying unofficially that any breakthrough in the Imperial lines, particularly by a moderate-sized enemy force, suggests the defenses remain vulnerable to a larger, all-out ork attack.
It may be noted by some insightful readers that the author of this news account is not identified. The past year has seen Imperial authorities arrest a number of news reporters whose writing has been declared “contrary to the public good” and “a comfort to the enemy. ” (Not that anyone has ever suggested that orks pay attention to Imperial news reports.)
As a result, news stories that do not meet the expectations of Imperial officials are often suppressed, and some authors have disappeared. Indeed, this report was written—and distributed—without consultation with Commissars of the Officio Prefectus who normally observe authorized news organizations.
TheGM: While I prefer a good man-a-mano contest, 40K is one of the few wargames I enjoy playing solo. (Perhaps because I never lose.)
In this case, I wanted to both hone my skills against The Gaffer’s orks (which I borrowed) and see what a highly mechanized ork force can do. It is, in fact, frightening. Thankfully, a properly balanced Imperial armor can hold their own, but once the orks get into “clobbering” range, a battle is up for grabs.
One of these days, I want The Gaffer and myself to put all our collection on the table—and determine the fate of Hegira with one giant Armageddon fight.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.