“Imperial PDF troops were ambushed by mutant rebels during a routine patrol of the Thar Desert Basin. Through disciplined volley fire, the PDF repulsed the cowardly attack and returned safely to their forward base.”—Imperial Vox Broadcast, planet of Morkai, 3 775 740.M41
“What a disaster. We sent the PDF to seize the Nisa Ruins, and they are thrown back by mutant scum? Perhaps we are paying the wrong scum to protect us?“—Fabius Nemetorius, Grand Elector of Morkai
+ + Confidential Report: Repulse at Nisa Ruins + +
+ Security Clearance: Council of Electors Only +
My Lord Nemetorius, Grand Elector, Defender of the Imperial Creed, Imperial Master of Morkai, and Majestic Lord of Golgenna Hive:
As per your command, I have prepared a summary of what transpired on 3 772 740.M41, when the 17th Battalion of the 4th Morkai Regiment, Planetary Defense Force, was defeated as it attempted to establish a forward base in the Nisa Ruins of the Thar Desert Basin.
Of most importance for your Eminence to understand is that, Imperial propaganda aside, the defeat was far more serious than reported. The battalion was decisively defeated and ultimately routed from the battlefield, with pursuing mutants slaughtering fleeing troops. Casualties were high, with a preliminary estimate at 50 percent.
Perhaps more worrisome in the long run, survivors report that the mutant force possessed armored vehicles and artillery—disturbing evidence that Ungolath has developed a significant industrial capability and a more sophisticated arsenal for its military forces.
The 17th Battalion was ordered to the Nisa Ruins to establish a military base that would block mutant forces from moving south along the Madad’za Channel, a kilometer-wide wadi that begins near the lost city of Ungolath and extends southeast toward the hive city of Charcharoth.
Control of this region—known as the Thar Desert Basin—is strategically important, as it one of the few regions of the northern hemisphere with sufficient water resources to support an army without requiring extensive transport resources. Thus, to deny the basin to the mutants would restrict their ability to move military forces south and threaten villages and nomadic tribes currently loyal to Imperial law.
The 17th Battalion was supported by a company-sized force of Skitarii Rangers and a squadron of Onager walkers. This force was deemed more than sufficient to deal with any mutant opposition and to prepare preliminary defenses for additional PDF troops to follow. With a strongly held base at the ruins, it was believed that any threat by Ungolath could be “bottled up” in the ruins of the hive city.
The march of the 17th Battalion toward the Nisa Ruins was routine. In fact, no sign of mutant activity was sighted until the battalion came within sight of the ruins.
At approximately 07:00 of the day of battle, forward elements of the 17th Battalion were within half a kilometer of the ruins when enemy armor artillery opened fire. Mutant accuracy was poor, and casualties during the final advance were minimal.
The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Murad Hamzah, ordered 1st Company to proceed directly to the ruins, seeking to gain control of the walled compound and use it as a fortified position.
The PDF quickly reached the ruins, only to be met by short-range fire from mutants hiding in the rubble. Two rare and precious Kastelan Robots, led by Datasmith Axiarch XR-71, supported the attack and bathed the mutants in the flames of incendine combustors. Thus, the 1st Company was able to gain control of half the ruins.
Meanwhile, the Skitarri and 2nd Company raced their transports around the rear of the ruins, where their troops disembarked in hopes of surrounding and capturing the mutants within.
The perfidy of the mutants was soon revealed. All around the ruins, hiding under sand-covered tarps, mutant forces waited for Imperial troops to come within point-blank range. When they did, the mutants erupted out of the sand to fire quick volleys and charge.
One of the most successful ambushes targeted 3rd Company, which had remained as a reserve along the ridge of a sand dune to the south of the ruins. The company guarded both the Onagers and a heavy bolter squad that provided long-range fire support.
From the sands only 50 meters from the company, 200 mutants tossed aside their tarps and rose up, autoguns in hand to open fire on the back of the troopers who were intent on watching the attack to their front. At the same time, a score of Atalin Jackals (mutants on dirtcycles) and Ridgerunners (militarized dune buggies) roared over nearby sand dunes and threatened the company’s flank.
To the north, the Skitarii and 2nd Companysuddenly found themselves assailed by mutants, supported by Goliath trucks armed with clearance incinerators. The Skitarii suffered some losses from the powerful flamesr, and a huge, scrap-built tractor, armed with twin-linked assault cannon, targeted a Skorpius Dunerider. The armored transport exploded, killing many of its passengers, and putting the Skitarii on the defensive.
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