“Although it was known that some mutants grew to unusual size, the appearance of entire assault units formed from heretics the size of ogryns is disturbing, indeed. What’s truly frightening, however, is the success of these mutants in bringing down two Kastelan Robots.“—Post-battle briefing given to Morkai High Command
“I sense fear among our Imperial oppressors. They have seen their proud troops defeated twice in as many weeks. They are beginning to realize that we, the mutants of Morkai, are no longer willing to hide in the shadows . . . and that we have the strength to take this world.“—Proclamation allegedly from the Haruspex, the mysterious mutant leader of Ungolath
IMPERIAL NEWS BULLETIN (3 782 740.M41)—Rebel mutants have defeated an Imperial force and seized the strategic Madad’za Channel on the desert world of Morkai.
According to early reports, mutant forces ambushed the 17th Battalion of the 4th Morkai Regiment in the town of Azeer, the only sizable population center in the region. The 17th retreated to the town only days earlier, having been repulsed by mutants from the Nisa Ruins to the north.
Casualties were reported as 70 dead and 170 wounded.
“This military reverse is unfortunate,” announced Grand Elector Fabius Nemetorius in a statement. “It is clear that senior officers in the Planetary Defense Force failed to send adequate troops to quell the mutant rabble. That mistake will not happen again.”
The mutant attack began at dawn, with long-range artillery and cannon fire directed at the town.
Imperial forces apparently rushed to deploy, but serious casualties began to mount, particularly when a platoon attempted to set up defensive positions in a housing complex on the edge of town. That position came under extremely effective and accurate artillery fire that put the platoon out of action.
Soon after, three enemy walkers—freakishly large mutants clad in incredibly thick body armor—appeared out of a nearby patch of limestone pillars to threaten the town’s perimeter. They were challenged by Kastelan Robots, who targeted the walkers with powerful flamers, but the walkers appeared unaffected by the holy promethium.
“At first, it appeared the mutants were attempting a raid, as only a platoon-sized force appeared to be attacking,” reported the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Murad Hamzah, in a post-battle dispatch to High Command. “Then we discovered the rebels were already amongst us.”
As at the battle for the Nisa Ruins, the mutants relied heavily on ambushes and surprise attacks. The first indication of the scale of the attack came when hundreds of mutants appeared out of the sand only meters from Imperial troops. Hidden in holes dug into the sand, covered by corrugated metal or reinforced tarps, the rebels burst up from their positions and charged the startled men of the 17th.
A squadron of Atalan Jackals, an elite force of mutants on dirtbikes, fell upon the 13th Battalion’s east flank and wiped out the 2nd Platoon, 3rd Company. Nearby, militarized dune buggies [Classification: Ridgerunners] appeared over a sand dune and fired mining lasers at an Onager, destroying the walker in a massive explosion that killed surrounding troops and created a gap in the Imperials’ defenses.
“We knew that the mutant scum likes to ambush us, so we are cautious when we advance,” one soldier offered in a post-battle briefing with the Commissariat. “But we couldn’t imagine for a moment they could get troops so close to our established positions without us spotting them. We were stunned by their cunning.”
Despite achieving the element of surprise, the mutants suffered significant casualties. Disembarking from their Dunestrider, a contingent of Skitarii Rangers opened fire on a mob of mutants, killing them to the last deformed rebel.
On the opposite side of town, the two Kastelan Robots, supported by a squad of PDF troops, drove off another large mutant attack.
Yet, as military authorities explain, the battalion was beset on all fronts by wave after wave of mutants—numbers that allowed sufficient rebels to survive Imperial fire and charge into Imperial firing lines. When this occurred, numbers began to tell.
The first casualties were the Kastelan Robots. Targeted repeatedly by Ridgerunners armed with mining lasers, as well as a makeshift tank armed with multiple assault cannons, the robots began to suffer damage—and then were charged by a mob of oversized and hideously deformed mutants with multiple arms equipped with talons as strong as plasteel. The noble and most ancient Mechanicus automatons fell.
Meanwhile, the Atalan Jackals broke through the lines and targeted a special weapons squad that was seeking to bring forward their meltas and challenge the mutant vehicles. Mutant troops also broke through the lines to the north of town and threatened the rear of friendly troops to the east and west of town.
“At this point, with his forces in danger of being overwhelmed, Lt. Col. Hamzah ordered the retreat,” Grand Elector Nemetorius said. “This retreat was conducted successfully, and the mutants did not pursue.”
At this time, the 17th Battalion has fallen back into the Khazadan Tribal Lands, the traditional home of the Khazad tribe, military authorities said. It is believed the nomadic tribe, itself master desert fighters, will be able to warn PDF troops if the mutants advance on their position.
TheGM: Well, that didn’t go well. A couple of things are going to have to change to prevent an Imperial disaster.
For one, I’m going to have to be stricter on force organization. I’ve allowed the mutants to wield a Wyvern and Meganobs, partly because the kitbashed, heavily weathered models look so cool. But I think I need to stick to a straight codex organization, as such extra firepower, added to the Cult Ambush special rules for the mutants (who I play as a Genestealer Cult), is unbalancing.
Second, I think the force organization is off because I’m trying to be strict about using “as is” units, and I just don’t have enough armor and big guns for the imperials. The thing about Cult Ambush is that it’s tough on defending infantry. I need more firepower, such as a Punisher tank or some Sentinels that can act as an armored buffer that will screen my troops.
But, hey, who said war is always fair? There are three more fights to go in this mini-campaign. I’ll give the Imperial order of battle a harder look next time.
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