Another day nearer the battle,
So drink up my lads and look brave,
‘Cos every day nearer the battle
Is another day nearer the grave.¹
–a warrior’s song of the Imperium Guard
Imperial Voxcast (6 171 742.M41)—The ork invaders of Nemea Primus have made modest gains on the battlefield in recent months, but Imperial officials promise that, with the anticipated arrival of reinforcements, the planet’s defenders will contain the xeno threat.
“The citizenry can be reassured that Imperial forces will prevail,” Commander Lucious Antonius said at a news conference at the Nguyen Naval Base in the Belliose System.
An ork fleet appeared in the Nemea System approximately 19 months ago and quickly seized Nemea Secondus, an agri-world that provided foodstuffs for the heavily industrialized Nemea Primus.
Nemea Primus, with a larger Planetary Defense Force (PDF), was able to blunt the xeno attack, although it was unable to defeat it. Critical in this modest victory was the presence of several Imperial Guard regiments that were using the world as a staging ground for a military campaign in another system.
The latest news from the Nemea Prime was an Astropathic transmission indicating that sizable battles were being fought across the planet, and that the orks recently had conquered one small continent but made only modest gains elsewhere.
“The loss of the Bradar Continent is keenly felt, but its strategic value is unimportant compared to areas where the largest hive cities produce massive amounts of armaments,” Commander Antonius said.
“We pulled our troops from the continent, accepting the sacrifice of its citizenry, so we could fortify our defenses where it was more important.”
1 billion dead
That withdrawal led to the fall of the hive city of Destinos on the continent’s southeastern coast. When PDF troops began to withdraw, millions of citizens attempted to flee, while those that stayed in the city either rioted, went into hiding, committed suicide, or attempted to organize a make-shift defense.
With death their alternative, those citizens who chose to fight did the Emperor proud. It took greenskin forces three days to fight their way into the city, and the xenos’ indiscriminate killing of citizens lasted for three weeks before increasingly panicked transmissions from the city finally ceased.
Approximately 400 million are presumed dead in the city’s fall, while another 600,000 were trapped on the continent and likely were slaughtered or are still being hunted down by the greenskins.
Hive city threatened
Imperial authorities also spoke of an ork assault on the hive city of Whitegon, a battle that Imperial authorities at the naval base only learned about months after it occurred..
According to sources, the orks tested the Imperial defenses—approximately 120 kilometers west of the city—with several minor attacks. Then the greenskins began a six-day bombardment with artillery.
On 6 974 741.M41, nearly half a million orks threw themselves at the Imperial line, while 30,000 “Speed Freaks”—a disorganized body of Battlewagons, Trukks, Warbikes, and Warbuggies—attempted to turn the Imperial right flank.
Imperial firepower wins day
The main ork attack was met by a storm of firepower—most notably by an Imperial artillery corps that included 1,000 Basilisks and 500 heavy artillery guns (Medusa and Earthshaker cannons).
As the battle was fought on a deforested, heavily polluted battleground, the Imperials enjoyed an open killing zone for this firepower, and tens of thousands of orks died before they came within a kilometer of the Imperial lines.
Once within range, the Imperials added nearly a quarter million lasguns, 10,000 heavy bolters, and 2,000 portable lascannon to the fight. In many parts of the line, the greenskins never reached the Imperial defenses.
In other places, the orks did reach the firing lines—and, in those situations, Imperial Guard casualties were heavy. Powerful and fierce, the orks slaughtered soldiers who bravely stood their ground. The line was only held because senior officers had reserves ready to rush to the potential breakthroughs and overwhelm the xenos by sheer numbers.
Armor saves the day
The frontal assault by the orks lasted for days before this offensive petered out, but it only took 15 brutal hours to end the flank attempt by the Speed Freaks, a derogatory term that guardsmen use for orks that appear to revel in mechanized warfare.
Aerial reconnaissance already had identified the buildup of the ork mechanized force, and the 104th Hatari Armored Regiment and 17th PDF Mechanized brigade were deployed to counter the threat. When the orks began their advance, both Imperial armored units—supported by Vendetta gunships—advanced to meet the xenos.
The Imperial armor formed a wedge formation that allowed as many tanks as possible to fire, while the orks simply swarmed around the Imperials, shooting and disembarking orks that attempted to engage the tanks in close combat.
Dozens of Imperial tanks were killed by xeno cannon fire, despite the orks’ notoriously poor marksmanship, but the greater threat was from xeno infantry armed with anti-armor weaponry or power weapons. In many cases, supporting Imperial infantry—embarked in Chimeras and sporting heavy flamers and missile launchers—were forced to respond and drive back the xenos.
In the end, the Imperial armor found itself alone on the battlefield. Hundreds of xeno vehicles lay wrecked and smoking on the field, and the few surviving xenos that fled were hunted down by guardsmen until night fell.
No end in sight
“It was a very tough fight,” Commander Antonius acknowledged. “Reports indicate that our troops suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day of fighting, and nearly 200,000 casualties over the course of the week-long battle. But the orks lost at least 400,000 casualties, and an uncharacteristic lull in the fighting suggests that ork casualties have blunted—at least for a time—the xenos’ offensive abilities.”
That may be true around Whitegon, but other reports suggest the xenos have made gains elsewhere on the planet. Rumors suggest that Imperial casualties have been so heavy that five more Imperial Guard regiments have been dispatched to the Nemea System.
It’s not clear that these reinforcements will be enough to defeat the ork invasion. Unofficial sources indicate that the greenskins have taken control of about a quarter of the planet.
More worrisome, orbital surveillance of ork-held territory indicate the construction of large xeno manufactorums that could produce weapons—and there are signs of large xeno fungi growth in the several equatorial jungles, where the tree canopy provides the shade necessary for the unique plant-like reproductive wombs of the ork species.
“That is a disturbing complication, as orks reproduce at a rapid rate—and an ork is ready for battle the moment it leaves the womb,” Commander Antonius said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if incendiary bombs are used to deal with the situation.”
¹ This quote is copyright of Games Workshop.
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