“Our foe is mighty, but our faith is mightier. Slowly, our influence spreads, much like the dunes of the desert. Now our attention turns to the Chunik Plateau. This land is ours, the Haruspex says. Let it be so.“—Chakir Suleiman, warlord of the mutant army
* * *
Imperial Voxcast (6 951 741.M41)—Mutants stormed the Tomada Oasis this morning and repulsed its defenders, a cohort of Skitarri stationed at a nearby promethium drill site.
The attack began an hour after dawn (07:01) when Mechanicus sensors at the drill site registered the approach of a sizable number of vehicles from the west. After an aerial drone was dispatched to investigate, the approaching vehicles were determined to be unauthorized armored vehicles—and thus were assumed hostile.
Both Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard were deployed to meet the threat, supported by an Onager combat walker, two rare Kastelan Robots, two Armiger Helverins, and a squadron of Sydonian Dragoons.
Well aware that mutant ambushes played havoc on Imperial troops during last year’s Thar Basin campaign, the Mechanicus commander, Magos Nexius Gallick, advanced cautiously, with his troops deployed in a tight, oval formation.
Although this tactic already has come under criticism for its hesitancy, the Magos’ caution was merited. Having advanced only a few hundred meters from the drill sight, scores of mutants appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, only meters from his right flank.
Within minutes, they destroyed an entire sub-cohort of Skitarii Rangers.
Soon after, mutant infantry rose from the sand in several other locations to the front of the Skitarri. At the same time, while two cobbled-together tanks began firing from long range, the rest of the mutant mechanized force—walkers reminiscent of Imperial Sentinels, ramshackle trucks, and a Goliath heavy hauler—raced directly at a small village on the Skitarii right flank.
For the most part, authorities say, the mutant fire was a minimal threat. It was was astonishingly inaccurate, as was Mechanicus fire, apparently the result of atmospheric conditions caused by the mineral content in the local sand, which on a dusty day can build up static electricity that interferes with sensors and other electronics.
“We expect mutant fire to be poor, but the Onager’s auspex clearly was malfunctioning,” commented one military official who insisted on anonymity. “A Tech Priest shared that a post-battle analysis found the walker’s accuracy was 47.32 percent below average.”
What proved more significant during the battle was the mutants’ ambush tactics—and the difficulty the Skitarii suffered in attempting to counter this unconventional approach to battle.
“Based on the experiences of the Thar Desert Campaign, we’ve learned that you must deploy troops in multiple ranks, facing all directions, and advance slowly until the mutants commit their forces,” said another military official. “You also need to maintain a clear line of sight. Once the mutants are committed, you pour on the fire—and that’s when the tide of battle turns your way.”
Military authorities say that Magos Gallic appears to have deployed his troops appropriately, but that he did not have the number of infantry necessary for a defense in depth. What’s more, the village to his front obscured his lines of fire, and the mutants took advantage of that to screen their advance from the usually highly accurate fire of the Skitarii.
This allowed the mutants to gain a foothold in the village, and Magos Gallick responded by sending what forces he had to intercept, one official said. Unfortunately, the closest troops to the village were mechanized units.
“You don’t want mechanized units in a town unless they have strong infantry support,” one officer explained. “In the battle, the Skitarii lost their Onager to a handful of mutants who slipped down an alley and got behind the walker. They used power mining hammers to smash its legs and underbody to bring it down.”
During the village fight, in fact, the Skitarii force also lost two Amigers walkers, two Dragoons, and a Skorpius Dunerider.
Although the Skitarii were holding their own, once the sun began to set, Magos Gallick determined that retreat was the logical tactical response.
“Tactical algorithms indicated that Skitarii casualties would rise significantly in the dark, whereas a retreat to the drill site would provide a 33.5 percent increase in survivability during the night,” an officer explained.
With this retreat, the mutants seized the village and the nearby Tomada Oasis, a key water source in the arid Chunik Plateau.
“It is true that the mutants control the oasis,” acknowledged Grand Elector Fabius Nemetorius in a later statement. “But the presence of a Skitarii cohort nearby ensures that their presence remains contested, and we are sending additional troops to the scene as I speak.”
Scenario: Big Guns Never Tire
Imperial Victory Points: 1 primary objective (3 v.p.) = 3 v.p.
Mutant Victory Points: 2 primary objectives (6 v.p.) + First Blood (1 v.p.) + 2 heavy units destroyed (2 v.p.) = 9 v.p.
Major Mutant Victory!
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Categories: Morkai Campaign