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Heroes or Heretics

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Heroes or Heretics

Chapter One

     This army idea is built on the story of a mining planet in a remote rim system. Manpower is cheaper than shipping the goliath equipment needed to upgrade the miles-wide mine pits that scar the once resource-rich planet.

     The population once came from planets strewn wide across the empire, back in the glory days of the colony's birth, but now has been so long-pressed into service in the mines and defense levies that an independent social culture has grown within the ranks of the mines and barracks. A hard and provincial people, the mining colony has held up against alien incursions, crushing pressure from the Emperor and growing civil tensions from heretics and Chaos infiltrators.
     A corps of engineers had been formed long ago in the absence of the Adeptus to address the growing needs of a people living on an unsustainable resource. Jobs included defense and infrastructure work such as trench-digging, bunker and shelter building, structural support, emergency digging, bridge tear-down, obstacle clearance and modifying available military resources like the Echidna*. This “Korps of Engineers” were fast becoming the nucleus of an army already formed of miners and conscripts from one of the most undersupplied, overworked mining colonies in the Imperium.
     As the resource planet had been depleted and therefore become of little worth for the Empire to protect, the population was less able to dedicate levies to anything but defense. Sending off a levy of troops meant losing bodies they could not afford. There was great need to make up for lost tanks, Psykers, Ogryns and other reinforcements that could only be got off-world. Ammunition alone could not win the day. With the Emperor on one side, Xenos on the other and civil pressure in the middle, they called it "stuck 'tween rock an a hard place...without your boots". It was fast becoming time for the miners to put on some boots as the munitions and specialized personnel shipments slowly stopped coming in, though the threats to the Empire did not.


  • *One of the most commonly found modified vehicles in the levy/crew is the Echidna (the name comes from the fire breathing mother of the Chimera in ancient legend). An Echidna is a Chimera chasis-style mining transport with only one heavy flamer for hostile environments. It designed primarily for getting the miners in and out of hazardous caves and xeno infested mining locations. After the rebellion, Empire shipments stopped and most of the Echidnas had to be outfitted as dedicated military transports and given armor plating and a heavy weapons crew with a stubber and heavy flamer.

Chapter Two

      While the Empire was uninterested in defending the planet, there was, however, an acute Commissariat presence. With an overworked, poverty-stricken populace and anti-Empire murmurs circling, rebellion was in the air. Executions grew in number daily. The planet was being clenched in a tyrannical but small fist.       The heretical rebellion that broke out was unavoidable. However the sides of battle were not always clear. The Commissariat tried in vain to lead those whose families they had decimated and those who had already been lost to madness, but the lives of the commissariat had become forfeit to both the angry and the insane...choose a side. The commissars were to a man, executed or tortured to death.
      The short and bloody conflict between loyalists and heretics depleted the already under supplied factions before reinforcements could come to either the corrupted Hive lord or the Captain of the Korps.       Of course reinforcements were not coming. The mission of the heretical spy, already off planet, was completed; remove a resource from the empire with words,where troops could not reach. The carnage left behind was so much the better having been brother against brother. Rumors spread among the rank and file that the death Korps would come to crush anything on those coordinates. It was understood how these things worked; that it would only be a matter of time. Their choices though clear, were also their doom.
If they surrendered, they would be crushed.
If they ran, they would be crushed.
If they rebelled, they would be crushed.
The choice for them, wasn't how to live, it was how to die.

But the choice was made for them as invasions by Orks and Tyranids didnt stop for the weary or the loyal. Little did they know that retribution for them had already come in a decision by a promising and enterprising adjunct, that there was no longer the need to defend a planet that had lost most of its resources and probably, Emperor willing, its now useless or heretical inhabitants. How do you punish a hive its too costly to reach? dont reach them anymore. Pull away the loving hand of the empire and the dark universe will solve this for us. The one mere platoon of Death Korps in that region volunteered themselves before the adjunct could stop them. They would be too small a force to affect the outcome, though they would of course be happy to go to their graves along with the miners as they were renowned for their desire and ability to sacrifice themselves in the name of their duties. It was good for the sake of appearance then he decide. Of course in other corners of the ministorium this raised eyebrows and questions, which lead to an inquisition force, But that is another story for years later as the empire is indeed a slowly turning wheel of blood and paper.
      They reckoned they were on there' own. between a rock an a hard place with no boots. But they had decided to die with honor with or without boots. They would defend this dark corner of the empire till death came. At least it was punishment at the hand of man,which they were used to. Instead of death at the hands of the enemy, which they were not so accustomed to.
     Mining operations were quickly turned to the manufacture of munitions rather than raw materials. Maybe this rock couldn't supply the empire but it could supply the militia for many years to come.
     Many characters stepped forward during this important time in the history of the mined out rock, but one of the most influential was "the Priest".
      The tall and charismatic priest wielded a customized mining tool called a ripper that could rend with almost as much fury as his booming oratory. A zealot of fire and a man of the people he had come here many years before the troubles began to minister to the cold, hard fighting,hard drinking men of the mines. He had quickly become accepted as one of them when he had dug for three days straight(all the while beating with hard fists and harder words those who rested) to save some miners in a cave in that had been deemed "a loss". He stated to a commissar later when questioned, that he “refused to lose perfectly good servants to the emperor”, but some suspected that to be merely an excuse. Albeit a good one.
      He lead the fight against heresy, though rebellion was on every hungry lip. He lead rebuilding after the threat of heretics and impediment of commissars were gone. He helped make the choice to die at the hands of the empire,as men of the empire and as such till then carry on as men of the empire. Hope grew if only because men are foolish.
      Street level guerrilla fighting would dominate the fighting tactics of the loyalist struggle against the heretical rebellion out of need. The heretics had the power of the office and rank of the Hive lord with all the artillery and food that comes with it. At first it seemed that the corrupted Hive lord could order the army and hungry mobs to destroy itself and the Hive* without effort. But just being tired and hungry wasn't enough for the Korps to start listening to heretics. The rank and file were stuck between truth and command though. The tough choices for got easier when the all out slaughter of innocents began. The “Priest” soon came to the Korps with words of recrimination and honor as he knew that not only would the conscripts follow these hardened engineers if led but that the Korps was their only chance if the emperor willed it. The men of the Korps were honestly glad for an excuse to assume his leadership; valid if only so they could start to do what they do best; fix things, whether by gun or shovel. The “Priest” and the Korps made quick preparations and then swept through the ranks of the mobs like a machine on murderous crusade, swelling their ranks as they collected the refugees of hive and home along the way. The choice was easy, join or die, or die anyway. Most died even if they joined. But there is no shortage of the hungry and desperate,not to mention dangerous, in a hive of the empire. By the time they faced organized troops, They had what would amount to 5 platoons of conscripts led by an elite corps of a little over twenty Korps veterans with a squad of modified mining vehicles and one possibly crazy priest. Hope grew,if only because men are foolish The renegades had holed up in the higher echelons of the hive, confident that losing the mobs meant more for them. So long as they had the munitions and higher ground let the blood for the bloodgod be spilled in the streets. Artillery from the hives' center, started raining down after the second day. It fell upon all in the city as indiscriminate as the rain itself. Blood for the Bloodgod. After the fourth day, the skeletons of buildings stood above the rubble so that the city now resembled some vast graveyard surrounding a mausoleum. The renegade HQ had been convinced that with enough sacrifice would come reinforcements. What they didn't know didn't hurt them...at first. That was the Korps' job.
      The Korps advanced slowly and methodically, very unlike the over extended attacks led by starved and crazed mobs that would soon disapear in a chorus of echoed screams and gunfire down some tunnel that had appeared to be the escape route for loyalists only to be discovered to be a trap long past escaping.
      Fighting got harder as the renegades defenses thickened at the core, the combat changed from street to sewer and back again as the miners were more than comfortable with fighting underground and could avoid artillery fire they could not return. The fighting conditions in the sewers were unimaginable; dead bodies, sewage and the types of life that proliferate in both. Slogging through the last of it,the weak of both sides dropped and stayed where they were. If you played dead in that filth,it was a short lived act,soon to be real from infection and toxicity. It was becoming obvious to some, that the loyalists could not outlast the well supplied heretic base waiting like a trap door spider in the center. One of which was Captain Rork of the Korps.
      Captain Rork was a man who had previously lead the mining works and was familiar with a losing model when he saw one. Cpt. Rork was the main reason tactics had changed from outright assault to a maintained tunnel clearing. He didn't find the Priest an easy man to convince when it came to reason, but it fell to him to advise the grim facts as he saw them. The Priests' words back ring true and come quickly; “Then we have only a short time to end this or we die hungry instead of with honor”,when impromptu council is held in a dark corner of the sewers. This cannot be refuted and a plan is formulated by the group of men considered to be the command squad. Cpt Rork, The Priest,sgt mullin and 1st sgt Rowan were all in attendance. Under the red glow of the Echidnas' interior, the grim men of the Korps' command squad poured over maps and diagrams for the exact point to focus the whole of their troops on.
      An exhaust port was discovered and utilized as it could be opened from the exhaust side only. All vehicles that could move had been loaded and held at bay until the engineers could do their job to open the now shut down exhaust vent. The engineers sent into the byway vents to the main vents control room were in no way prepared for what was let loose in the cities sub maint. tunnels. The Mines had long been using Ogryns in the hives heavier and smellier duties,but the horrid creatures let loose in the city centers' lower levels no longer resembled the brootish, nose picking, almost sad creatures they once were. The now truly sick heretical hive lord had used the advice of his Chaos contact to create a new unit that hadn't raised its sick head since the siege of Vracks; the Berserker ogryn. Shot full of all the worst drugs on hand to induce psychotic, physically numb tractors of armed flesh, they would as likely die from heart attack and stroke as slaughter an entire squad in seconds before bashing their own heads savagely against a wall. A helmet cam caught this image.
      The first attack on the near silent engineers came with little more warning than heavy breathing. Then they were being butchered by the maddened berserker, in the tunnel they had no choice but to fight their way through. In an instant the entire bloody scene is lit up before the heavy flamer reduces their tormentor to a screaming burbling mass. They manage to make it out of the next attack with less loss of life due to the screaming tank like charge of a Berserker ogryn being slowed by a mangled mass of razor wire wrapped around the armlike stumps that now lead to mining implements covered in gore;some his own. The hulking thing is filled with well placed lasfire, from a squad standing their ground like men ready to die for the captain Rork, barking out the order to “fire on my command and not before”. When the Exhaust port is opened to the attack convoy, the engineers who greet them are only ten in number and surely heroes changed forever. The convoy trundled through towards the upper levels unleashing heavy flamer fire while heavy stubbers pierced the flames in a surprise attack on the mid level area. Heretic engineers and troops are ill prepared for the unleashed hell bubbling up from beneath their feet. They who thought hell was theirs to unleash, were now going to have to call away their upper defenses to respond to this well planed but ill conceived suicide mission launched from no lower a depth than the hope of those attacking.
      Once the Heretics regrouped their defenses on the mid levels this heroic gesture would be at an end. They would not need worry upper attack as the loyalist forces had been located in its entirety. Loud speakers blared and the laspistols of enforcers took those not fast enough, as the forces under the Hive lord moved to position artillery in the direction of this planets last human hope. Lasguns and heavy stubbers were leveled at the attackers only feet in front of the mortars and cannons quickly assembled in the cramped quarters of the inner middle levels and quart yards. Only some bits of gray sky can be seen from this level, most of the habitat and exhaust towers still upright in this part of the hive. From these, a hail of sniper fire crisscrosses the loyalists. The snipers are unable to slow or pin the fearless attackers who come on with suicidal single mindedness.
      The safety yellow convoy,stained red with rust and blood, now charges the heretic lines, not even bothering to shoot their mounted weapons, lending all speed to the assault they hope only to live long enough to make through the munitions display, only to die in combat with superior numbers. The hell rained down has proved too much as the attackers have lost half their number before even reaching the honor of a face to face death. The Priest was described later as a clarion call of death and vengeance in a sea of screams and lasfire most assumed were the last thing they would see. The men would rally to the sound of his “ripper” tearing through metal and flesh alike. Captain Rork doing his best to protect a man who throws himself at death the way rats run straight for the dark, even as he watches all fall around him. Cousins and comrades alike fall as the number of loyalists are small enough to draw friendly fire from the defensive line onto the heretic forces. The defensive line now breaks under the double onslaught and has become a smoke covered,confusion filled swarm. The sniper fire has ceased and the big guns are turning.
      Clearly now is a shift in the battle. Artillery has stopped from the east and south sides. The sound of a fire fight has broken out on the other side of the defenders line, clearly now above it a bugle call sounding the charge and regroup of ...cavalry? The Death Korps had arrived and charged the enemy lines from the flank.
Commander Toshiro of the the small but decorated 503rd, drank in the view of a smoking hive through the old but well cared for, scouting gear handed down to him by his father. The 503rd was here to do its duty and aid in the defense of this outpost of the empire. Whether that aid had been asked for or even supposedly ordered against*, was of no consequence to him. The question was who to aid...or attack both.
      Though it had seemed to the loyalists, to be a last minute rescue, the Death Korps had been observing for two days. The cavalry was in position to sweep over the rubble of the hive, once they received word from their stoic H.Q. Commander. The smell of smoke and oil hung on the air that carried distant screams and gunfire, towards the retinue of men standing in quiet attendance on the hill.
His decision to call an attack finally based on his authority to attack without discrimination any party on the battle field without recrimination. He turns his head wordlessly towards his comm officer and back to the scene below. His comm officer sends the order crackling into the ear of an increasingly frustrated cavalry sergeant,who with a smile rising to his lips, orders his men on a slow walk forward. The sure footed mounts are not indiginous to this rock but are well suited to it. Well trained and without panic they can be felt quietly shivering in anticipation of the charge on the quiet walk into position. Feelings shared by the men who had survived a dozen reckless charges. The cavalry sgt, Toshiro II lead the charge from the main avenue breaking through the back lines so quickly they were attacking the artillery before the report had been received of any interlopers in this battle. The main avenue had been the worst possible choice and the most obvious to him. Freedom of movement and all out speed would be their armor today.
      The Death Korps' heavy weapons teams had been ordered to fire on their' own cavalry units. The weapons teams were to use the cavalry as a living targeting system. Toshiro II had showed nothing but satisfaction at the order, knowing that with it came the expectation on him and his unit, that he would lead his charge always with inhuman speed and honor; ballistic death following the living unit of men and beasts “like a storm tied on your tail!”*. From Cpt Rorks' notes. The ricochet gun shot like attack of the 503rds' cavalry unit, carried straight to the other side of the battle, where confusion already reigned. The sergeant was on a track line through the battle visiting, disrupting and moving on. Commander Toshiro then orders the heavy weapons to slow their' tracking and linger on the artillery of the heretics. He is well versed in the ways of artillery and as he has none of his own to command, is therefore determined to make it likewise for the enemy.
      His father would have said to “make the enemies strength his greatest sin”. When the cavalry and the miners come into contact, the miners have altered their strategy to falling back behind the vehicles and using all the flame units they have to flush out and screen against snipers who had quickly become the only defense left to the heretics on location. The cavalry comms officer frantically hand signaled his comms chanel number to Sgt Mullin, who then passed this on to Cpt Rork. Rork plugged in the earcom in the back of the rumbling,roaring Echidna with little hope of clear communication. His explanation of their' innocence cut short by Toshiros' voice informing him that all forces “loyal to the emperor”, are now his to command.

To be continued.

The story of the priest and the miners will be written in full, however the crucial battles will be decided by actual game play with battle log.


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