A late-night ork attack that penetrated the fortifications surrounding Susa City was repulsed at the last minute by the arrival of the Knights of Altair Space Marine Chapter—with a key role played by single, sword-wielding dreadnought
On 3 699 741.M41, more than 20,0000 orks attacked Sector 6A, a five-kilometer length of trenches on the west side of the city, according to military authorities. The attack began at 02:13.
The orks breached the first line of trenches at three points and, after pouring fresh troops into these gaps, managed to clear a two-kilometer length of the trenches.
From there, fresh reserves assaulted the inner defenses, finally breaking through and offering the greenskins free access to the suburbs of the city.
“This was a serious breakthrough that endangered the city’s survival,” acknowledged General Tiberius Vectrix, supreme commander of Imperial forces on the moon of Hegira.
The greenskin attack completely surprised front-line troops, who were unaware of the orks’ presence until the xenos appeared right in front of the fortifications and charged into the trenches.
“Needless to say, the military officer in charge of the sector has been executed for dereliction of duty,” announced Commissar-Major Rael Dracos, senior ranking commissar on the western defensive line. “There is no excuse for the enemy to approach our lines without detection. Our guardsmen should have been at the ready.”
It may never be known how the orks managed their surprise attack, but the consequences of their success nearly proved the end for the Imperial defense. For most of the war, Imperial troops have relied on culling the ork hordes with firepower as they approach, so having 20,000 xenos reach the trenches without suffering casualties was catastrophic.
“No one deployed on the outer trenches survived the onslaught,” one military officer admitted, his voice shaking at the enormity of losses. “Hundreds were caught asleep in underground barracks approximately 100 meters behind the front lines.”
It is estimated that more than 2,000 Planetary Defense Force (PDF) troops died in the first ten minutes of the attack. The vast majority served in the 72nd Hegira PDF Regiment.
Ork casualties were minimal at this early stage of the battle.
“It was a slaughter,” said another officer. “Some men were found in their bunks, the mattresses soaked in blood.”
It was this wanton slaughter that may have saved the city. For a time, the ork assault slowed as the greenskins were distracted by the opportunity to kill at will. By the time some of the larger and slightly more intelligent ork leaders began “bashing ‘eads” and urging the xeno warriors forward, alarms were racing to High Command.
Although orders were dispatched immediately for Imperial reserves to rush to the scene, the few dozen Astartes in the city were on the move almost immediately, Vectrix said.
“In less than 15 minutes” he said, “I received a report that the Knights had boarded their gunships and were racing to the scene.”
Thirty minutes after the orks attacked, a Thunderhawk transport and two Stormraven Gunships landed only half a kilometer from the vanguard of the ork advance. Three tactical squads of Knights and two armored vehicles disembarked.
“No one expected a few dozen Astartes, even those of the renown Knights of Altair, to stop an attack of tens of thousands of orks,” Commissar-Major Dracos said. “But that was not their plan. They sought to delay, distract, and decimate the xenos’ drive forward.”
Holding the Line
The Knights’ attack achieved its goal. Although deployed in a line only 200 meters across, the Astartes slaughtered hundreds of orks, drawing more and more into the fray. As a result, approximately half of the two-kilometer-wide ork spearhead came to a stop as the fighting drew more orks toward the Astartes’ position.
Still, unaware of the intensity of fighting to their left, thousands of orks continued forward, slamming into the second—and final—line of Imperial trenches defending the city. In a 20-minute battle, the orks overwhelmed this line of fortifications, and at least 6,000 orks seemingly found themselves with no Imperial troops between them and the city’s center.
“It was at this critical moment that Brother Vallean appeared,” Vectrix said. “Dropped off by a gunship, and supported by a squadron of Stormtalon gunships, this ancient dreadnought stomped into sight and deliberately took a position on a tall mound of rubble for all the xenos to see.”
Little is known about Brother Vallean. It is recorded that he once served as a captain of the 7th Company of the Knights of Altair, until he was interned in his cyborganic sarcophagus approximately four centuries ago.
In the ensuring years, Brother Vallean has earned great renown for his military exploits. He played a key role in defending Arcota VII after an invasion by the Ork Waaagh! of Warboss Gragork the Gray, and he took took part in the the Siege of Midas II. There, he spearheaded several attacks against the fortifications of anti-Imperial rebels and was credited with hunting down and executing the rebels’ high commander.
“As with his brethren fighting only a kilometer away, Brother Vallean had no hope of defeating such a mighty host of enemies,” Vectrix said. “His goal was to draw the enemy to him, slaughter as many as possible, and hold his position until friendly reinforcements arrived.”
As it turned out, Brother Vallean did that—and more. As if a magnet, the dreadnought attracted the attention of every ork in sight. Within minutes, Brother Vallean was surrounded by orks, thus creating a densely packed horde that created a perfect target for overhead gunships that strafed the xenos without mercy.
By the time Imperial reinforcements arrived 30 minutes, the ork vanguard had not advanced a meter, as the orks were still preoccupied with reaching Brother Vallean—and barely noticed the arrival of squadrons of Lemon Russ Battle Tanks and battalions of guardsmen from the 728th Cadian Regiment.
Although the fighting continued until dawn, the ork advance had been stopped in the nick of time, and the xenos finally withdrew.
Nearly 12,000 ork corpses were found on the battlefield—more than 500 formed in a ring around the rubble where Brother Vallean had made his stand.
Only two deaths and a dozen injuries were reported among the Knights of Altair. Brother Vallean, although his armor was battered and scarred, was last seen boarding a gunship under his own power.
“Praise be the God-Emperor for creating the Astartes,” General Vectrix told the citizenry in an Imperial voxcast an hour after the battle’s finish.
“They truly are the Emperor’s angels of death. One Astartes is worth a thousand of the xenos, and Hegira is protected by an entire company of these thrice-blessed warriors.”
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Categories: Hegira Campaign