Beachhead

At long last, here is the latest installment of our “Battle for Tarandros” narrative campaign series. If you missed earlier parts of the tale, find out what happened here: Introduction, Plantefall- Part 1, Planetfall- Part 2, Planetfall- Part 3

Having defeated every foe to cross his path, Captain Titus led his Ultramarines towards the heart of the dilapidated ruins of what was once a mighty hive city of the Imperium. The time had come for him to complete his true mission. From fragmented records that had survived since the days of the Great Crusade, the Ultramarine Librarius had learned that a store of Astartes gene-seed had been kept deep within the city’s secret vaults. The Imperium Reclamation fleet’s vanguard was ordered to invade Tarandros in order to clear the surrounding area and buy time for Titus to achieve his goal. If the planet could also be returned to the light of the Emperor, all the better.

Commissar Decanus was one of the few that knew the real reason that so many resources had been mobilized to this barren rock. Besides the Ultramarines, three Astartes Chapters had made an appearance in this theatre: The Blood Angels, Carcharodons and Astral Claws. From his command Chimera he monitored vox traffic and read scouting reports. Commissar Nemo’s men guarded the northern part of the city, while Decanus was tasked to fortify the desert highlands to the south. Despite the slaughter that the Astartes had wrought upon them, everything indicated that the orks were massing an immense counter attack. So far though, there had been no sign of it. The Guardsmen had expected an attack the day before, but night had fallen uneventfully and all was quiet.

That changed very quickly. Decanus first heard of the enemy’s arrival through panicked shouts emanating from outside his vehicle. Immediately, the aged Commissar reached for his command panel and took control of one of his remote servo-skull observers. The macabre machine hovered above a rock outcrop several yards above the Command Chimera. As far as it’s mechanized eyes could see into the early morning gloom, the horizon was drenched in the sweaty hides of savage greenskins. Most of the orks were on foot, but Decanus heard as much as saw, great lumbering vehicles racing alongside the horde, their mismatched armored plates rattling loudly in the wind. Without a moment’s hesitation, the seasoned Commissar ordered his Basilisk battery to open fire. Although the darkness severely hampered the artillery’s range, the enemy was everywhere.

Soon, the Imperial Guard’s lines roared into life. The potency of their firepower was so great, that it illuminated the night as a false dawn. The advancing orks were smashed mercilessly by the barrage. Many of the shots went wide, but the greenskins still died in droves. Yet their mobs fearlessly kept on coming. As they approached, Decanus’ servo-skulls revealed a squadron of three killa-kans lumbering forwards on his right, pointlessly firing their crude weapons despite being far beyond their effective range. Ork boyz trudged along with them, trying to keep their distance from the the walkers’ clumsy strides. So tight was the press of bodies, that several orks had nowhere to run when the kans mis-stepped, and were crushed by the walkers’ huge mechanized feet.

On the far right of the imperium’s gun line, a Battle Wagon raced forwards, its awkwardly attached deff rolla flattening everything in its path. The ork vehicle was heading directly towards a squadron of Lehman Russ battle tanks. Their mighty ordnance fired upon the advancing orks, but the Battle Wagon’s armored plates somehow held firm. The Guardsmen gunners were powerless as the ork vehicle rammed into them with full force. The force of impact reduced a Lehman Russ to a smoldering ruin.

Elsewhere on the field, the Imperium fared no better. The left flank was held by ten of the mighty Adeptus Astartes from the Blood Angels chapter. With great courage and tenacity did they charge head-long into the green tide that threatened to drown the Imperial Guard. Long did they endure, filling the air with the sweet song of their bolt-pistols and the fearsome roar of their chain-swords. But it was not to last. Though they sold their lives dearly, the orks were too many, and eventually the Space Marines were slain to a man. Dismayed, but unbroken, the Guardsmen fought on, pouring their ever-shrinking firepower into the ork masses.

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From the deck if his Battle Wagon, Kap’n Klaw roared with joy at the destruction that his mighty Waaagh had wrought. All around him the sands of Tarandros were awash with the blood of combatants and its dry air filled the pervasive music of battle. From deep within his primal instincts, came the knowledge that the time was right. The ork warlord stomped one of his mighty legs on the front edge of his transport and let loose a titanic bellow:

WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

From their leader’s lungs came the ultimate call to war. Though the cry itself had no intrinsic meaning, it carried the very essence of what it was to be an ork. Klaw’s various warbosses responded immediately with cries of their own. Every greenskin on the field was filled with murderous inspiration and the inescapable urge to kill. Without hesitation, each of them echoed their Boss’ war cry. Even the thunder of the mighty Basilisk artillery was drowned out by the ensuing cacophony. As one, the ork tide surge forward, and crashed mercilessly into the battered lines of the Imperium.

In the skies above, twin Dakka jets flew erratically towards the humies’ armored column. They unleashed their guns in a relentless storm of bullets, crazed by their leader’s war cry. Even at their great height, the voice of Kap’n Klaw could be heard clearly. Caught in the cross-fire, a Chimera transport burst into flames, forcing its passengers to perform an emergency disembarkation. From his vantage point, Klaw could barely make out the shapes of the survivors, but amongst them was humie wearing an enormous red hat and wielding a puny Klaw. Sensing that this must be the enemy leader, Kap’n Klaw leapt from his transport.

But before he could move towards this foe, Warboss Zug and his boyz had already fallen upon the hapless umie, and whatever was left of his squad. None survived. Disappointed, Kap’n Klaw searched the field for a worthy opponent. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. To his left, Klaw could hear the unmistakeable gurgling noise of a shock-attack gun being loaded. Frustrated by the lack of opposition, Kap’n Klaw turned to watch what would happen next. He had found that the effects of this weapon are always amusing, and he was not disappointed. Somehow, the Big Mek managed to get himself caught by the weapon’s own feeder and was sucked into that “tranzdamentunal” chamber that he was always so proud of. With a surprised yelp, the Mek was fired, through the warp, by his own weapon and re-appeared directly in front of a stunned group of umies.

Kap’n Klaw roared with laughter at the sight of this, as did his entire bodyguard of nobz. The surprised Mek flailed desperately as he tried to fight off the enemy. But he was quickly cut down. With his amusement over, the ork Warlord realized that the fight was mostly over. There had been no sight of the great Space Mahreens that he had heard so much about. Hopefully he would find them inside the ruined city.

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News of the ork attack had reached the Blood Angel strike cruiser with time to spare, but the skies above the great carcass of the ancient hive city were obstructed by warp storms. Once again, the eldrich lightning had come without warning. Brother Aquilus, who had borne Chaplain Malkor’s doomed relief force, sought to pilot his Storm Raven into the theatre of battle. Chapter doctrine taught the sons of Sanguinius not to mourn the passing of those succumbed to the black rage, but the loss of such a mighty and pious Chaplain as Malkor was a grievous wound to the Chapter. Try as he might, the experienced pilot could find no breach in the wretched weather. He had no doubt now, that the corrupting hands of demonic entities had shaped this barrier. Unable to mask his frustration any longer, Brother Aquilus turned to Chaplain Sebastian for guidance.

Though the storm hampered communications, they were close enough to receive fragmented vox signals. By sporadic screams and terrified calls for aid, Sebastian knew that the plight of the Imperial Guardsmen. The fact that he had heard naught but silence from his brothers below, bespoke of their grim fate. Two Bhaal Predators awaited the Storm Raven’s arrival, so that they may perform a decisive coordinated attack. Unwilling to delay any longer, the Chaplain gave the order for the vehicles to complete their outflanking maneuvers and to consume the Xenos filth with purifying gouts of flame.

Accelerating to full speed, the two Bhaal predators burst through cover, one at each of the enemy’s flanks. Their heavy flamers roasted dozens of orks with their mighty promethium. But the damage they dealt was too little, and it had come too late. It was not long before their noble hulls were overwhelmed by the battle-crazed savages, and rent asunder. By the time Brother Aquilus was able to navigate the treacherous warp storms, nothing remained of the Imperium’s forces. The ork horde had slain all. Smoldering with rage, Chaplain Sebastian had no choice but to order the pilot to make the return journey. The Storm Raven’s deadly cargo would be disgorged at another time, when the death company’s sacrifice would achieve more than futile vengeance. Their day would come. Honor would be satisfied.

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Elsewhere, upon the Eastern fringes of the city’s dilapidated ruins, the Alpha Legion continued to blaze a bloody path through the Imperium’s defenders. This time, they were opposed by more than mere men: Adeptus Astartes of both the Carcharodons and Astral Claws Chapters had been entrusted to halt the advance of any foe. But the traitor marines were not alone. From tears in the fabric of reality itself daemonic hosts poured onto the battlefield. The combined forces of Chaos proved too much for the Imperium’s forces. Despite their valiant efforts, all of the defenders were cut down, and the agents of the Dark Gods stormed through the breach and into the city proper. Sensing that their prize was near, the Alpha Legionnaires surged forth triumphantly. Who could stop them now?

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