Friday, August 4, 2017

Fictional Histories: Christopher Hollowell

Fictional Histories is a Fine Art project that seeks to analyze the world of tabletop gaming and looks to use the voice of the hobby to tell the stories of the men and women who engage in the hobby community. This work was among 4 others that were displayed at the Gatewood Gallery in May of 2017. 

This is the third of those pieces presented in the show, here showcasing an interview with one of my long time friends and opponents Chris formerly from "Sippin' on Paint Water" now contributing to the blog-o-sphere through Gloria in Morte. Chris is a skilled painter and modeler, the resident "how did you paint that?!!" guy of the group so to say, it's not uncommon to see intricate unit badges on the sleeves of 15mm soldiers, or to look at his host of carefully converted Death Guard with horrifying disgust. While his recent move has taken his forces appearance on the blog to a reduced regularity, we still find time on occasion to throw tiny plastic warriors into pitched battles. When I talked to him about the most memorable moment in gaming for him he pointed more towards a time period, a stretch of time around the release of 6th edition 40k, that spanned around a year where the group of us began entering into the 15mm generic sci-fi scene. I chose to capture that time period by looking at one of the absolute earliest battles between the two of us, the Battle for Sellas

Christopher Hollowell

I can't speak to any one person's reasons for playing a tabletop game, or becoming more involved in a wargaming community. I do think that it has something to do with a sense of camaraderie or  shared interest in a creative outlet. I think it's good in general, more people means more money in the hobby, a broader variety of interests to fuel the hobby's expansion. I think we'll see more and different ways that people choose to integrate it into their interactions with others, especially in a digital way.

I've had some long term projects, I've had large projects, but I think the single best gaming experience had to be when I started into 15mm sci-fi as a genre of interest. It's got less to do with science fiction and collecting lots of cool and affordable miniatures, and more to do with my exploration of that community as a digital presence and in a more real way with my close friends who started into that process at the same time. It allowed me to experience it as an individual, as part of a small group and with a sense of belonging to a sort of hobby diaspora.

so you would say like the PGCC and the stuff we did as part of that rush in the beginning was more rewarding because it was entirely our thing. like because it was crafted entirely from our small group it held more significance than it would have if we had moved from mainline 40k play to like infinity or something

Yes, not because the bigger games lack value, or good game design, but more because there is a certain amount of organic enthusiasm and creativity in something that is less polished. 15mm sci-fi is more of a sandbox setting for gaming, there are rules but no one set is king, there are great minis but the companies that make them don't have add budgets or marketing just a product that gets people excited and wanting to share it with folks who like it as much as they do. It might not be the best formula for long term success, but it is earnest and engaging in a way that something more established can't be.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jornath: A Valley of Iron

"Hurry up lads, this one's going to start stinking soon, and it'll attract the Ork hounds"  spoke Sergeant Arading, stepping over the slumped bulk of the alien warrior laid out in the middle of the small room. his scout squad, barely visible in the dim light-spill peaking through sections of torn metal siding, and wood slat. The faintest movement could be discerned from the gently swaying edges of camo cloak, brushed by the salty air pushing across the Kulian marshlands.

"Potential HVT's spotted at Northwestern corner Brother Sergeant" whispered Scout Mildarien, looking through the scope of his M40/A1 out across the massive city of scrap metal buildings. In the open area below the scout's hide, Mildarien could see a great commotion stirring. A handful of Ork trucks and IFV's had arrived, from deeper into the Exclusion Zone, kicking up a storm of dust and engine smoke as they roared into the compound. As the convoy came to a stop the roll gate on a nearby workshop rolled up, a hulking beast surrounded by a handful of warriors and a swarm of greenskin runts strode out on bionic legs. 

"Tärz Scruntkicka, visual confirmation attained at distance 680 meters, elevation negative 40 degrees on bearing two-four-zero." Mildarien reported mechanically, training his rifle on the Ork leaders head.  Scruntkicka, is master over a warband of alien slave masters known as Runtherders and lords over a section of the Exclusion Zone known by the Ork as "Da Stabheels" reportedly the highest concentration of Gretchin in the entire zone, though almost no operations teams have returned to give a detailed ground analysis of the area. It is strange to see the beast so far from home...

Scruntkicka stormed up the side of the lead vehicle in the convoy, a stolen dockyard hauler mutilated by the aliens into a form of combat support vehicle. Angry screaming floated up from the beasts, though the Ork language is not particularly suited to quiet civil platitudes in conversation this was clearly not a pleasant encounter. In short order a pistol shot rang out, slamming into one of Tärz's bodyguards sending him flying backward. Orks began to gather from around the area, dropping what they were doing to investigate the latest violent attraction.  Suddenly Scruntkick was hurled back by an unseen force, and in the dust, the bulk of a truly massive brute descended on him.  Tärz's legs proving vital in preventing his untimely demise, booting the bulkier Ork off. In the moment the hulking monster slammed against the back of his transport, Mildarien knew his identity.

"By the Emperor..." he whispered turning to Sergeant Arading.

"Brother Captain!" Sergeant Aerea shouted running into the chamber, where Captain Corporis was meeting with a Tech-Magos from Usamiljen Heights. 

"What is it, Sergeant?" said Corporis, irate at the interruption. This meeting was vital for upcoming Imperial Guard operations around the fortress, the mechanicus and Astartes needed to be on the same page, in terms of strike locations, logistics, and dozens of other factors that would pivotal to the delicate nature of what was to come. 

"A scout squad from the Dreadmare Companions has located Oilymaw in the ruins of the Holmtex Marsh Conservatory." spoke Aerea rapidly. 

"They are certain?" rumbled Corporis, already gripping his blade's hilt tightly. The list of adversaries to cross him and live was short indeed especially when it came to filth like the Orks. 

"Visual confirmation attained as of five minutes ago, Navy assets are on standby to level the complex. The beast is recruiting up followers,"  replied Aerea.

"Tell the navy to lock the area down, gather half the company and inform Tullos to prepare the Thunderhawks.I will cleave the beast's head from his shoulders!" Commanded Corporis, rage seething between every word. 

"BrOthEr CaPtAiN" intoned the Magos, in the harsh grating monotone of the mechanicus vox hailer.
"ThE CoNserVatOry CoNtAIns NuMeRoUs  XeNoS MeK WoRkShoPs| It WoUld Be a PlEaSuRe to CleAnSe ThE BlASPHEMOR FrOm ThE ZonE| My SkiTarII ShAlL AcComPany YoU|"  The Magos spoke curtly, turning with finality before Corporis could rebut the offer, the click of a dozen mechadendrite hooves the only word of farewell. 


One Hour Later

Ork small arms fire smashed against the side of the plastcrete wall. sending shards of rock scattering across his armor. Peaking out, Pugno hammered out two bolt rounds ripping the shooter apart in a spray of gore. "Attain that overlook brothers! More are approaching."  He ordered into the squad vox bead. They were in the thick of it here, much further to the north of the exclusion zone than they had been operating in since arrival. Here the aliens staged to hit Imperial Guard and Mechanicus positions at Usamiljen and Fort Behras. The strike force had been on the ground for fifteen minutes and only now was reaching the purported location of Oilmaw. It made him anxious, the Mechanicus assets were slowing down the advance, the Skitarii fought admirably but the press of Greenskins from all sides meant that the Sons of Medusa needed to continuously go house-to-house or assault dug-in fighting positions to free up Vanguard and Onagers to advance. Never the less, they had made it to the Conservatory Complex, with enough men to hopefully kill this particular beast once and for all.  

Pugno's battle brothers swept into the ruins of the Conservatory's processing wing, clearing the rubble choked rooms with precise bursts of bolter fire. The area had been turned into a sort of Inn for the greenskins, barrels of putrid purplish grog, naked light bulbs, fire pits and squig meat littered the ruin. The sight of alien habitation in Imperial buildings always filled him with revulsion, but ever since the company had faced Dwellers infesting Uriah I when he had been a scout, it made him nearly sick to see.  He considered setting detonation charges in the building before they left the operations area for a moment but pushed his personal feelings back down, resuming command of his team. Striding down the interior corridor, Pugno delivered a heavy boot kick to the metal door at the end of the hall. Sparks flickered from the hinges, and the door flew into the chamber beyond. A heavy slug smashed against Pugno's breastplate, as the Ork within let loose a torrent of fire into the door frame. Shrugging off the hit, Pugno ran into the fire, grabbing the beast by the neck and throwing it from the nearby open window, the creature toppling to the ground below with an audible snapping sound. 

"Overlook attained, move up under us Visus" breathed Pugno heavily.  

"Roger! Squad Rubro moving to your location!" came the crackled reply over the strike force vox, hardly audible, through the staccato feedback noise of weapons fire. The scattered mobs of four or five Orks firing from windows and alleyways, or suddenly appearing from doorways brandishing bulky close combat weapons, had started to shirk away from the strike force. Chattering fire still barked from across the operations area but it lacked the roaring gusto of earlier.  

"This begins properly soon brothers. Check weapons, reload and give me sight lines down that street." Pugno ordered, reloading his bolt rifle and taking a moment to properly assess the commanding view the second-floor overlook offered of the combat zone. 

Crashing through the streets to their direct west the Mechanicus Dragoons struggled with a rolling tide of Ork gun trucks. One of the metallic cavalry men thundered towards the Squad's building, trailed by a duo of green skin vehicles.  Two rockets whistled towards the dragoon, one slammed against the electrostatic shielding of the rider's casement, the blow staggering the walker and sending its legs flailing as they simultaneously try to keep upright and turn on the attacker. The second projectile spiraled out of control into his squad's building, filling the hall they had just cleared with white hot metal and smoke. 

The Dragoon, leveled a massive archeotech pistol towards the alien outriders, sending a yellow searing bolt of energy lancing outwards, piercing the back right of one of the vehicles and sending a gout of flame shooting out from the ramshackle buggy.  "Brother Sergeant! The beasts approach en masse, your orders?" spoke Brother Auternus, turning slightly from his position at the window. 

"Prioritize leaders, neutralize the locomotion capabilities of any war machines that get within range if possible." Pugno ordered, turning from the Dragoons plight and fully rejoining the battle, underway in earnest.

"Damn this rabble!  Continue forward brothers!" Captain Corporis yelled through his vox hailer. He was beyond eager to get this debacle over with, the trouble with honor debts is they are typically hard won. The servants of the Omnissiah were stirring the pot more than a purely Astartes strike force would have, the size and pure firepower of a Skitarii Cohort were attracting even more greenskins to the location; granted it was spreading them across a wider area but the Skitarii fought methodically.  Nevertheless, Corporis knew the importance of including the members of Usamiljen's keeper's in a battle. The Imperial Guard had been hard pressed in the past year with a string of tactical blunders, massive strategic misteps, and nearly disastrous Ork counter-offensives. While his Astartes could win any raid they were sent on and damage the alien war effort acting as the scalpel they were, the war must be won by soldiers of Jornath.

Corporis drew his blade taking a handful of swings he thrummed on the activation switch. The size of the Warband bearing down on them with furious vigor was mighty, it would take careful skill and precise shots to see their quarry brought low. The strike force was wasting no time in pouring enfilade fire down onto the charging aliens, explosive bolt rounds, conversion beams, and stubber rounds laced across the iron faces of the Ork vehicles in a carnival of light. The lead Ork IFV a converted dockyard hauler bristling with guns and covered in glyphs aimed straight for Corporis and his command team. 

"Brothers, our quarry approaches prepare yourselves!" commanded Corporis to his squad. A handful of his brothers in venerated Cataphractii armor took position behind him,  the heat of a dozen power weapons was tangible to him, even through his armor. The adrenaline of a worthy fight approaching came over him, doubled in its potency through the violent joy of potential revenge coming within reach.

"Fething lunatics coming here like this!" Yelled Scout Sergeant Arading, sprinting past a gaping hole in the building. Chattering fire from an Ork emplaced gun lacing behind him.  "Sergeant why didn't they just let the Navy deal with the situation?!" asked Scout Mildarien, returning fire on the emplacement with precision fire from his rifle as the rest of the scout squad crossed the gap. "Them that come from the loins of Ferrus Manus don't exactly have a solid penchant for stealth or the simple beauty of killing something without it seeing you!" came Sergeant Arading's reply, even laden with combat stress it still came across as immensely sarcastic. Gallows humor was just one of the Scout's many glowing character traits.

Rejoining the rest of his squad on the opposite side of the gap, they slinked into the lower levels of the shattered conservatory administrative offices, the desks and countless collections of documents still littered the area, the greenskins had trouble eating or building much out of the materials. A boon to the scouts as they stalked through the low cover, past the hundreds of rushing Orks only meters away outside. Quietly the team slipped off into the drainage canals behind the conservatory, the grots they had slain on their entry still laid undisturbed, a good sign that the path ahead was likely clear of packs of roving squigs.  "If our friend Tärz is down this way then something queer must've happened down in the Stabheels. Let's finally get some eyes on eh boys?" whispered Sergeant Arading, in a much better mood now they had regained some measure of concealment and stealth...

"Purge the Weak!  Meet them now brothers! Cut your way to the target!" bellowed Corporis above the total deafening roar of the Ork's main body. As one the company veterans strode forward, their artifice blades glowing with luminous energies. The onrushing Ork vehicle had slid a halt, a heavy assault plank smashed into the muddy ground. huge Ork Nobs slammed down the ramp hefting massive axes high above their head. Then with a great roar, the Kill-Mek himself entered the fray. 

"I TOLD UZ I WUZ GONNA 'AVE LOADZ MOAR BOYZ!!!!" Oilymaw screamed as his retinue locked blades with the Veteran Astartes. 

"Changing!" Pugno announced swapping out his spent magazine for a new one. "HVT's located Sergeant, engaging the Company command assets!" spoke Brother Dyaxae frantically, a portion of his left arm bleeding profusely from a smoking crater in his armor.  "Close the noose! Auternus pick up Pumark and follow us closely, we shall join Squad Rubro and move as one to end this in short order Move brothers!" Pugno yelled above the din of clashing armies. The squad immediately set itself into action, Auternus hefting much of Pumark's bulk onto himself, the wounds the latter sustained barely even allowing him to limp alongside Auternus, though ever dutiful he still held his bolter firmly in his off hand. They made their way back downstairs to squad Rubro, the first floor was decorated in a carpet of spent shell casings and a thick haze of gunsmoke lit with the burst of weapons fire. Rubro turned his attentions from the directing of his squad for a moment to converse with Sergeant Pugno. 

"Whats the status of your squad Magna?" spoke Sergeant Rubro quite casually given the circumstances. 

"Pumark's critical but walking, and some minor hits across two others. Ammunition is at a moderate level, we are ready to get this over with. What about you brother?"  replied Pugno.

"Ammo's low, but the Emperor's watching us we've sustained no injuries. We are ready to make this charge." reported Rubro.  The collected marines stood for a moment in silence, to steel themselves for the fight, and prepare their combat knives. 

"Sons of Medusa!....  PURGE THE WEAK!!" Shouted Sergeant Pugno, slamming open the door and diving headlong into the tide of beasts. 

Dodging past the heavy ax blow of a Nob, Corporis found himself finally in front of Oilmaw, just as he tore the arm from Brother Gagar. The alien tossed the Astartes to the side with contempt, the Marine's arm flew at Corporis as Oilymaw launched into a heavy horizontal ax swing. Gagar's arm smashed against Corporis' armor, but the Captain was not so easily distracted, blocking the ax blow with his power sword.  The searing heat field, sending white hot slag metal dripping off the contact point with Oilmaw's massive ax. Not skipping a beat the alien brought its muscled right flank suddenly about to smash into the captain, sending him skidding backward a few inches. Again the beast tried a heavy blow from the right but this time higher, clearly in a motion to decapitate the captain. Corporis crouched under this sloppy swing and side stepping came up behind Oilymaw. Striking forward his blade lanced out piercing the Warboss's lower back. With blinding speed, Oilymaw lashed around smashing his clenched right fist into the side of Corporis' helmet, stumbling the captain for a moment.  He recovered just in time to watch the last nob's skull turn to paste as the crackling energy of a Cataphractii's power fist wrapped around its skull. Turning back quickly to face Oilymaw, he saw the beast holding the steaming wound in his back. 

"The Beast must not escape! Cut him off!" screamed Corporis into the vox channel. 

Pugno emptied the last two rounds of his clip into the nearest Ork boy to him, the greenskin carried sharply off its feet by the bolt rounds suddenly changing his momentum. Squad Aes, descended from the Ork habitation towers above, the first warning of the Inceptor's arrival was the falling bulk of an alien jump pack warrior smashing to the ground in a black pulp.  Soon the air filled with a hail of bolter fire scything down from the heavens, cutting down dozens of aliens with shredding small caliber fire, leaving a carpet of severely wounded aliens for Aes' squad to land on. 

"Rioght' letz leg it!" shouted a thunderous voice from amongst the throng of remaining Orks.

"Told uz Id get u boyz da good fightin' didn't I"?! shouted Oilmaw, clutching at his back, and surrounded by a half dozen retainers, including another monumental beast with metal legs, that Pugno wasn't familiar with.  It mattered not, he squeezed off a dozen more rounds into the direction of the group, missing or catching other milling orks in the crossfire. 

The beasts had lost momentum in their charge, well ordered Bolter drill and the withdraw of the key alien personalities had seen to that. There were still nearly a hundred beasts left milling around the Conservatory grounds in groups sizeable enough to seriously hamper their pursuit of Oilymaw. Corporis knew to press his advantage now and break the spirit of the Ork's before they could find renewed spirit for fighting.  

The cataphractii and the rest of the squads in the strike force pressed on keeping the pressure up in the center, as Skitarii Vanguard and Sicarian Ruststalkers hoped to close down the nearby adjacent avenues. 

Pugno, tried desperately to re-acquire the location of Oilmaw and Tärz, amidst the Chaos. On the far side of the open plaza, the conversion beamer of one of the Mechanicus Onager's obliterated the facade of a towering habitation building, burying many of their own vanguards to block any available pathway for the beast's to flee through.  Squad Aes, despite their jump packs, was finding the plaza a difficult to negotiate quickly to directly follow the targets, it was littered with combatants, smoking vehicle husks and piles of dead. Thinking quickly the Inceptors of Squad Aes rockets up as high as their jump packs would allow and found a perch above the square. Where they could see the path of Oilymaws' flight more clearly..

Corporis plunged his blade into the belly of the greenskin before him it died in a whimpering, wheezing pile he stood in a pool of alien gore. Then it finally happened, the Orks had lost their stomach for the moment and began to withdraw back to the nearby line of housing and market stalls to regain their number. It made him feel numb, He knew they hadn't caught their quarry today. But, the cost in alien life and territory may well have been worth far more than his personal feud. scattered gunfire still echoed across the square. and the rumbling of combat between the rest of the Magos' cohort and the Orks was still fully underway around them.  He had sent Squad Aes to follow Oilymaw with the aid of the Imperial Navy and PDF's terrestrially based fighter craft.  

In the end, the butcher's bill was high. Pugno looked over the field of twisted bodies now milling with Jornathii muster men and cohort infantry burying the remains and demolishing the hideous structures the Orks had constructed. The Skitarii had lost hundreds of vanguard in the subsequent holding actions needed to strangle wait for the Imperial Guard to arrive. While the Sons of Medusa had two fatalities, both from the command team that bore the brunt of Oilymaw's retinue, as well as nearly a dozen casualties, needing some form of medical treatment aboard the Strike Cruiser a crushing loss to be sure, but what more could a soldier of the Emperor hope for besides to die in glory for the Imperium...

Thanks for reading the most recent narrative battle report in the Battle for Jornath "living narrative campaign" if you'd like to know more about Jornath's history, its belligerents, read through the roster of former battles or use mission documents to play on Jornath yourself. Click...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fictional Histories: Stewart Boughtflower

Fictional Histories is a Fine Art project that seeks to analyze the world of tabletop gaming and looks to use the voice of the hobby to tell the stories of the men and women who engage in the hobby community. This work was among 4 others that were displayed at the Gatewood Gallery in May of 2017. 

This is the second post of those 4 pieces that features an interview with fellow blogger Stewart Boughtflower [aka. Zzzzzz] whose in-depth approach to storytelling and narrative expansion has been a key influence on the Jornath campaign. In this diorama, I attempted to capture the drama of the Battle of the Cudlip Line, a mighty apocalypse game featured on Mr. Boughtflower's blog Devos IV, in which Imperial troops sought to break through Traitor forces to gain control of the Colil Promethium Refinery. For the diorama, I thought to look at the mixture of traitor forces after their defeat in the engagement, part of what makes Devos IV particularly compelling is the immense history and character of the forces involved in the fighting. I thought to show a cross section of the rebels regrouping in scattered pockets at the edges of the refinery complex. 

Stewart Boughtflower.

“What tabletop games do you play and how often?”

40K, used to be max 3 times a year, now haven't played for over two years. I've been playing the same MERP/RM campaign since 1986; this went through a renaissance in the Mid noughties where we were playing once a month for a couple of years. Again, due to the same reason (children) this hasn't happened for a few years either.

“What is the most memorable thing to happen to you during a tabletop game?”

In living memory, there was a game with Col Corbane and Admiral Drax which involved most of my collection.  I got four consecutive blog posts out of that one.  But just seeing over forty Leman Russ and two Warhounds on the table (along with the rest) was absolutely fabulous.

“Can you tell me more about the lore, setting and context of the game you were playing during that memorable event?”

There was an attack on the Cudlip Lines defence network, this was supposed to be a diversion by 17 Korps to divert attention from 18 Corps attack on the Colill Promethium refinery.  One of 17 Korps Divisional Commanders, a Vostroyan General whose name began in with a P, identified the Schwerepunkt and committed the Corbainians to an assault.  The Neighbouring Division (my precious DKK) had to support them or they'd have been wiped out.   In the event, with the late arrival of the Warhounds, the attack succeeded and the Vostroyan General whose name began with P was promoted and sent to another warzone whilst the Corbainians had lost so much that they had to be withdrawn from the ORBAT.

“Can you tell me about the character/s you were playing or that participated in that event”

I had the thrusting knob end of 902 Division of 17 Korps of 72 Army Group on the table - DKK 19 Armd Regt, Armageddon 22nd Armd Regt, Saranian 5th Inf Regt - the armoured heart of 17 Korps.

“What does tabletop gaming mean to you?”

It's a social thing - I only play with people who bring their armies to Devos IV in order to be a part of it. The RPG group has remained largely unchanged since the 1990s.

“What do you think the upswing in the number of people playing tabletop games, both in person and online means, in social terms?”

There's been an upswing ?  Who knew ?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jornath: The Decent of Corporis

The sleek black and gray armatures of the Sons of Medusa Strike Cruiser "Concise Absolution" slid by the decimated Suetonius Station. Its pulsing proximity lights, and the twinkling glow from the interior viewing portals matching the fires raging across the stations' breadth. The display of both placed into dramatic relief as the planet of Jornath slid once more into view. The fires and even large explosions ripping across the war zone could be seen now raging across the majority of the western hemispheres' largest continent.  There, their brother Astartes were earning glory, and favor in the service of the God-Emperor and of the Omnissiah.

Aboard this mighty vessel was a full company from the War Clan Mageara, now with many of its members enhanced with Belsarius Cawl's Primaris Gene Manipulations. The Sons of Medusa are known for their linkage with the Omnissiah's followers, and indeed it is this pact which has drawn the emerald-clad marines to the planet. With Chaos threats highly active in the Eastern Fringe, and amongst the southern sectors in the Segmentum Tempestus it has become vital that those worlds capable of being secured and used as bases for resupplying the defense of the Emperor's domain are brought into favorable conditions to support industry.

The company was expected to join the vicious fighting around Fort Behras or perhaps reinforce Skitarii and militia units at Usamiljen Heights.  It surprised everyone within the Admiralty and Tactica Command Jornath, when Brother-Captain Calces Corporis announced a deployment of his Marines into the Rok landing sites outside of Kula Hive. These sites had seen diminished xenos activity since the launching of the Ork's summer offensive last year.  Captain Corporis' reasoning was carefully calculated as is typical for a son of Ferrus Manus, the Orks had largely been concentrated into a handful of major conflict zones, but were still being supplied in their efforts from Mek factories in the captured city of Bolasku, and from inside the Rok landing area. The Mek's were a particularly favored target for the Sons of Medusa, any alien that pollutes the Imperium with blasphemous technologies should be purged first, thereby denying its ilk use of the equipment and sparing the spirits of untold thousands of machines from torment at the hands of the Ork techno-torturers.

So it was that battle was joined with the Ork warleader known as Kill-Mek Oilymaw and his Kult of Speed, several kilometers behind the xenos' frontlines. The mission was simple...

"Purge the Weak!" snarled Captain Corporis, as he leaped from the low flying Thunderhawk. The sound of xenos heavy weapons fire shrieking through the air. 

The thunder of roaring engines and stomping walkers echoed around the slum city.  "Squad Pugno, regroup with the strike force after you've finished preparing the containers for demolition, Squad Rubro and Aerea prepare for motorized contacts from six-zero." A chime of silent affirmations quickly came from the Strike Force Vox-Net

"Charges Set Brother Sergeant" spoke Auternus. "Good, prepare to detonate the charges on my signal! Squad bounding cover back to the main landing zone. Move!" shouted Sergeant Pugno, as the hydraulic hiss-slap of a Killa-Kan's legs grew louder. 

"Brothers, adjust ranging to within 75 meters, remember to aim for the axle and engine block." said Sergeant Aerea calmly to his squad. A gretchin wearing a plastic bag and wielding some type of slug throwing rifle appeared from behind the Mek Workshops' perimeter wall. A stalker bolter round from his squad turned the runt into a cloud of black mist. "Round telemetry reports exact distance at 68 meters brother Sergeant" spoke Brother Neglev.  "Adjust" stated Aerea

Pugno sprinted across the marshy ground to the hilltop where the strike force, stood awaiting the arrival of his Marines. Heavy slugs from an Ork Buggy further in the compound chewed up the ground around them as they ran. Just as he was about to order the squad to return fire, a bulky ramshackle Ork Trukk smashed through the scrap metal perimeter walls blocking the vehicles' fire. 

"Engage!" Yelled Captain Corporis, as the Trukk barrelled straight at their lines. The hail of Hellblaster plasma and bolter fire sending all manner of metal shards flying off the machine in an incandescent flare of white-hot explosions. The resultant husk grinding into the soft ground, a steaming pile of liquidated scrap, the occupants still attempting to disentangle themselves from the wreckage, as the rest of the greenskin force reached the wall. 

"Squad, turn and engage the enemy!" Pugno screamed into his vox-link, as the trukk was torn asunder by the rest of the strike force. Heavy weapons fire from the main ork body answered the Astartes, and the battle was joined in earnest.  Turning back to inspect the container storage and main gate, he saw the shape of the killa kan already firing away with a hull mounted stubber.

Looking past the haze of smoke from the wreckage through the optic on his Bolt Rifle, Sergeant Aerea eyed a massive shape amidst the throng of other Orks. "Priority Target located Brother-Captain".     "Affirmative neutralize the Warriors first and then we shall slay the warboss"

"The weak approach! Prepare for close contact" snarled Sergeant Rubro, venting heat build up in his hellblaster, as the Orks pulled themselves from the wrecked vehicle and began charging their position.

"Task force! Prepare to receive a charge. DENY THE ALIEN" said Captain Corporis, striding forward and thumbing the activation rune on his power sword. The bulk of the greenskin infantry had arrived now dozens of alien warriors scurried around the wall and began their advance at the Astartes lines. 

"Fire at the Kan!" ordered Pugno, triggering the detonation charges. The massive explosion stumbling the walker, shrapnel sheering off the massive hydraulic claw from the machine. Bolter fire laced across the gap, blowing great steaming holes into the body. Fire quickly licked up out of the crew cab, a handful of snotlings scrambling out from a side hatch. Such diminutive creatures were hardly worth the ammo spent, but Pugno was in no mood and the greenskin runts were soon turned to a pile of black gore from the squads bolter fire. 

Aerea parried the thick cleaver with a flick of his wrist, sending the Ork wide to his left. The impulsivity of the greenskins made their attacks predictable and easy to counter but their weight of numbers and the raw power of the beasts made them deadly. Aerea knew to respect the foe, to understand its capabilites, and then to kill it. He smiled as the hilt of his blade slammed into the ribcage of the now exposed Ork boy, a fountain of black ichor spraying out. 

The majority of the lesser aliens dead or dying on the field Captain Corporis leveled his sword at the Ork Warboss, and turned on his external vox hailer "Time to die beast!".    Big Mek Oilymaw, only bellowed a thunderous warcry and ran headlong at the Captain.  The mighty axe of the alien, smashing against the broad edge of Corporis' blade with such force that a shower of blazing sparks rained down. "Youz gunna pay fer what u done to me Boyz!" screamed Oilymaw, pushing back and preparing for another blow. Corporis charged forward, hoping to get inside the Ork's guard and was met with a heavy green fist to the breastplate for his troubles. 

"Die you filth!" shouted Rubro, stamping onto the Nob's broken face, until the skull finally gave way. Barely taking a moment to breathe, he looked up at the encroaching Ork machinery.  "Keep those abominations away from the Captain at any cost!"  flipping the venting valve closed on his Hellblaster, he fired a superheated charge of plasma towards the perimeter wall.

Pugno looked to the location of the Ork buggy that had engaged them earlier, as he and his squad moved forward to survey the damage to the Kan and shipping containers. Squad Aes was already ontop of the warmachine, the greenskin on the mounted gun frantically firing at the Interceptors as their used their jump packs to find an advantage on the foe.  

leaping to his feet Captain Corporis barely parried Oilymaw's axe blow. The impact sending him scrabbling to the side. As he caught himself he dove forward, his blade just missing the ork's gut, and leaving a fuming cut on the Mek's left flank. It screamed in pain but did not recoil, instead throwing his axe the side and using both hands to lift Corporis into the air. Oilymaw slammed his head into the Captains face visor and threw him to the ground.  Corporis' vision swam, he could barely see through the broken vision lenses.  The hulking shape of the warboss approaching him, having just recovered its axe was broken and distorted.  Hatred filled Corporis, he gripped a frag grenade and rolled it at the space between them.  

"Recover the Captain!" shouted Aerea over the strike force vox frequency.  As a frag grenade detonated in front of the warboss.  It let out a furious bellow of anger and pain, just as Aerea and Rubro moved to block its path from the wounded Corporis.   

"Dat was a propah good fight dat wuz" breathed Oilymaw heavily. 
"Next time iz gunna ave loadz more gubbinz and boyz fer you lot tah tangle wiv"

"There won't be a next time alien" spoke Aerea, leveling his bolt pistol at the beast.

"Dats where yah wrong youz beakie git. Iz an ork. an Orksies can always come back fer annuver go!!"

A cataclysmic explosion ripped through the Mek workshop behind them. The concussive shockwave was almost enough to knock the Astartes to the ground with its raw power. Aerea shielded his visor on instinct from the furious onslaught of grit, razor sharp bits of metal and falling debris. He lowered his hand, and Oilmaw had gone, disappeared into the fog of smoke and ash...

Imperial Victory.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jornath : The Battle of Saine Yeltsville.

“Where iz Badbrag? i kalled 'em hours ago!” Warboss Domechoppa screams, slamming the head of his grot attendant into the wall. “Dis noise ‘as ta stop! I've not slept ‘n days.” As the looped music the Jornath Guard has been bombarding the Ork encampment with starts again.
The door slams open as large grease covered Ork steps forward, “Wot's up boss?”
Domechoppa’s eyes glow red as he turns towards the mek, “If ya were not so smart. I would bash ya into pieces. But for now, I need yer ta give me someth'n ta stop dis noise.”
The mek gives a toothy smile as he turns back to the door, “Don't worry boss i've got jus da fing for dis. Tomorrow we WAAAGH!”
Krspang. Krspang. Krspang. Krspang. went Tallin's helmet as he drove his head into the wall again and again, to relieve the mind-numbing boredom and the headache the loud hailers had given him.
"I thought they said the Orks would come at us within a few hours of this garbage.." complained Mustermann Eckhard to him. He didn't justify it with a response, it didn't matter anyway it was mostly rhetorical, and besides the most he could do is file a complaint with the company commander, which would result in a lengthy even more dull lecture about duty, moral and patriotism. Thus, when the crackling pops heralding the restarting of the single bombastic marching song, Tallin merely gave the soldier a hateful sidelong glance and returned to trying to relief his head pain through persistent frontal assault.
But then he heard it, just over the drone of the loud hailers, the sound of slapping footsteps outside the bolstered ruin. Suddenly forgetting his headache, Tallin rose from the ground and moved to the far side of the abandoned dental office his platoon command team had positioned itself in.
"Who is running?" he said to Mustermann Riccar, moving quickly to the sandbagged windows. Riccar, groggily shook himself awake from atop his slump on the team's heavy bolter, slurring a
"surrywhaddid ya say sah?" out of his mouth as he woke.

As Tallin made it to the window, he could see into the dugout below him just in time to watch the last man of Squad 2 impaled on the blade of a Blood Axe warrior.
"Oh throne..." he whispered, horrifyingly realizing the platoons' position was totally compromised.
"Whats the matter sir?" asked Eckard walking behind him. Tallin turned, and in his head knew to tell the man to warn the rest of the company, knew to barricade the doors and coordinate a defense. But the words caught in his throat, and instead he was overcome by fear, thoughts of his little girl, his sickly mother in St. Yeltsville. He was a Baker by Terra, not a real soldier!
Seeing the look on Tallin's face, Eckard peered around him into the forward defenses, seeing the bodies of their comrades he started at the sight and immediately ran to the vox. Eckard barely got the word out before a half dozen Ork warriors smashed the wooden door down and breached the "command center" of F Platoon, Riccar was actually able to kill one with his bolter before a Choppa bifurcated him.
At the last, it mattered not to Tactica Command Jornath that a conscript platoon had been obliterated, only that the Orks had finally reacted to the stratagem proposed by Captain Vorodivo of the Mortifactors. In fact many in regional command at the Indigo Sparrow FOB, were tense with excitement, after all, to lose so many men so quickly could only be an indication of Xenos specialist troops, and by transference, an alien warlord. Perhaps if enough men and guns could be brought to bear quickly, a harsh blow could be laden upon the foul greenskins.

Saine Yeltsville, is the name for the suburban areas that lie at the foot of the Keystone defensive position in the north known as both H-906 or Fort Behras. As the Ork Warboss Krump rallied his Blood Axes in the north and made speed towards the Fortress, other smaller greenskin warbands tested Imperial troops by hitting the less guarded eastern suburbs. In the early stages of this fighting, Imperial citizenry was very much in the midst of the combat, which limited the fighting capabilities of guard units who were simultaneously concerned with evacuating non-combatants and holding ground. It was after the formation of 1st Army Group (1AG) several weeks into the outbreak of the Summer Offensive that military coordination could be properly brought to bear to oust these smaller greenskin warbands out of Saine Yeltsville.  Loose defensive lines were set up a few kilometers outside of the suburban areas proper, the units comprising these lines where typically militia from the suburbs, bolstered by a few companies from the KCC in particularly vital strategic positions. 

The fighting along this eastern line was particularly static, with light skirmishing accompanying a daily artillery duel. For much of the time, the Ork warbosses and meks were quite happy to build up their warbands, with vehicles and strengthen their warriors with weekly firefights. While Imperial commanders were equally happy to allow the Eastern positions to rest in this static battle of attrition, as in the north Krump's forces smashed aside Astartes and armored formations alike on their warpath to the Fortress. 

When the Orks of Krump washed into the northern and western approaches to the Fortress, threatening to totally surround the vital position, Tactica Command's attentions were drawn back into the eastern lines. Eager to have a secure flank to work with, which would hopefully allow them to sweep up and back around from behind Krumps' Warband, High Command began to order the militia forward, into the teeth of the Ork defenses. Seeing disaster in the making Captain Vorodivo, the leader of the Mortifactor presence on the planet, suggested an alternative stratagem to sending thousands of militia headlong across no man's land. Playing on the Orks short temperedness, and the devout mentalities of the PDF, he suggested the deployment of hundreds of loud hailers, to blare out prayers. Instigating the alien to attack over open ground rather than the PDF.    

The 8-hour long engagement was hard fought, with thousands of casualties on both sides. Imperial force commanders looked to hold the greenskins at bay by organizing into ranks, platoons of lasgun armed troopers, and supporting them with massed artillery fire. As forward platoons were hacked to pieces by the Orks that survived the barrage, the alien would be slowed down and open to fire from the platoon directly behind. A costly, yet effective tactic. 

Imperial ground commanders looked to utilize large, more classical Jornathi formations. With a rigid organization of troops in blocks, firing in volleys at close range they were able to quickly adapt to pressures. The downside would come late in the day as Ork mekanized forces arrived.

The lines of Row houses and shops proved to be a vital high ground in many spots on the battlefield. These positions were often the objective of the more veteran soldiers from the KCC.  It was not uncommon for these buildings to change hands a half dozen times. 

Mining trolleys were retrofitted by tech-adepts from the Usamiljen Heights Mechanicus Outpost. The machines provided some much needed long range supporting fire to the defenders. The majority were overrun and destroyed before they could be brought to bear against the Ork armored reserves, however. 

Saine Yeltsville Cohort's armored vehicles, a mixture of Leman Russ and refitted refinery tractors. pushed forward into the midst of the alien's onslaught, their commanders annihilating the light armored transports and dreadnaughts of the Ork's early assault.  
Infantry accompanying these armored forces would dismount in the midst of the enemy, using flame and lasgun to cleanse the xenos filth from Jornath's surface.  

It was late in the day, when Ork specialist troops and additional formations of Ork dreadnaughts, slammed against the beleaguered guardsmen. Overwhelming the armored forces and KCC units holding many of the row houses. 

At the onset of dusk, the Ork Warlord presented himself, as the last of the blasphemous alien walkers stomped through the burning wreckages of Leman Russ and the misshapen hulks of broken greenskin vehicles. His surviving warriors wrestling control of the row housing for the final time that day, a great cry of vengeance was issued forth among the defenders, who surged forward and plunged their bayonets into the foul alien warboss laying him low.

While the Ork host had been largely obliterated, those that remained were specialist units or heavy combat walkers in decent positions on high ground. In comparison to the Imperial forces' mostly unsupported Infantry platoons. Ground force commanders, seeing the enemy on the high ground and the alien leader at the best severely wounded, opted to preserve their fighting forces and withdrew from the field into Saine Yeltsville proper.

The Strategic analysis was determined as largely inconclusive. Imperial troops had maintained decent fighting strength but had given up vital ground to the Orks, without being able to yield much more than heaps of expendable light infantry or scrap vehicles alongside an unconfirmed kill of a greenskin warboss. It was a devastating conclusion for Tactica Command, who now had to come face-to-face with a very real possibility of the total encirclement of Fort Behras, by multiple xenos formations