The Leman Russ: Imperial Battle Tank
|The Mailed Fist: Vehicle Tactics, Primarily Imperial Guard Tanks|
Catachan Jungle Fighters (by Ian Pickstock, excerpted from WD 180)
Trained from birth to kill, the Catachan Jungle Fighters are one of the most famous and feared regiments in the service of the Emperor.
REGIMENTS OF THE IMPERIAL GUARD
The Imperial Guard is the military arm of the Imperium, the largest fighting force in the galaxy and the most powerful army of all time. Across the far-flung battlefields of the forty-first millennia the Imperial Guard struggles against alien invaders, rebellious planetary lords, and the savagery of nature. The Imperial Guard is not really a single army but many armies, each recruited for a specific campaign or war.
Each army is comprised of many regiments. Each regiment comes from a single world and is recruited by the Lord of that world as part of his Imperial obligations. When the Emperor calls the Imperium to war, every planet must provide a regiment to fight for the human cause. From all over the galaxy different regiments join together to fight side-by-side. An army often contains regiments from very different worlds: vast industrial hive worlds, arid sulphur deserts, and steaming jungles. Not all warriors are suited to every battlefield. Troopers from the claustrophobic hives of Necromunda would quickly perish amidst the jungles of Catachan, for example.
Wherever possible, regiments are raised from worlds similar to their intended theatre of operation. However, this is not always possible, and troops from quite different planets often find themselves mixed together on a battle front. During the course of a war, individual squads are often seconded to neighbouring regiments, thrown forwards amongst warriors from another world to bolster a weak spot in the defences or to reinforce an attack. Often regiments are so depleted by casualties that squads of different origin are reformed into a single regiment, forming a polyglot force from many different worlds.
Man has lived upon Catachan longer than Imperial records can recall. The scout probes of the first colonists found a planet which looked deceptively green and fertile from the safety of orbit. When the giant colony ships crash landed the pioneers inside awoke from cryogenic slumber to find themselves marooned upon one of the most inhospitable places in the galaxy. Catachan is a Death World, perhaps the most notorious and dangerous of all the Death Worlds in the Imperium. Its jungles are home to some of the most predatory animals and plants every encountered by man. The first settlers survived by the merest chance, holed-up inside the wreckage of their spacecraft, besieged by the living jungle around them. Undoubtedly many died. Only the hardiest, quickest and luckiest ever survive on a Death World.
The planet's few scattered settlements are fortresses surrounded by barren bedrock where the soil has been blasted bare to provide clear lines of fire. Even so, buildings never last long on Catachan. Lichens soon take root upon any surface, secreting a potent acid which crumbles even the most solidly constructed defences. Strangle Vines creep a hundred metres in a single night, and their constricting grip can crush a plasteel bunker or smash a tank like an eggshell. The people of Catachan must constantly build and rebuild. Wherever they construct their settlements the jungles grow more densely and become increasingly aggressive. The wild creatures of Catachan gather to repel the invaders. It is as if the whole planet were determined to rid itself of human intrusion, just as the immune system of a man might react to some invasive virus. Sooner or later humans must abandon their homes and resettle on another site, beginning their struggle against the jungle afresh.
The people of this unique world are moulded by a life of constant battle. Children learn to shoot before they can walk. Only those who can shoot fast and straight ever reach adulthood. Outside the fragile domes a world wars against its human inhabitants, vicious creatures like the Catachan Devil lie waiting for the unwary. Every plant and every animal on Catachan is inimical to human life. Every creature is a carnivore. Every plant is poisonous. Some plants secrete a deadly pollen which saturates the air and invades filter systems. Other types of vegetation release sticky sap which holds a creature fast and slowly dissolves its flesh. A few large trees even emit poisons into the ground water, killing surrounding plants and creating a slimy acid bog which entraps anything foolish enough to venture near.
The native creatures are even more dangerous than the plants. The multi-legged Catachan Devil with its segmented body and snapping jaws is as big as a tank and capable of battling even the notorious Shambling Mamorphs of the volcano lands. Few humans grow old on Catachan, and those that survive the longest retain an instinct for self-preservation unrivalled anywhere in the galaxy.
THE CATACHAN REGIMENT
Like all the worlds in the Imperium, Catachan is required to provide troops for the Imperial Guard. The people of Catachan live amongst dense and dangerous jungles which are altogether alien to most of the hive-dwelling citizens of the Imperium's larger planets. When it comes to jungle fighting the Catachan Regiment has no equal and the Imperial Guard recognises their supremacy in this type of warfare.
During the jungle wars on Epsion Octarius, the Catachan Regiment survived for nearly forty days amidst Crotalid infested mangrove swamps before reaching the Ork Gargant construction site of Grubnak's Drops. On that occasion the savagery of the jungle fighters so impressed the Deathskull Ork Warlord that he ordered his Gargants to be painted in green jungle stripes with red bandanas, in imitation of the Catachan Jungle Fighter's uniform. Whether he did this out of respect for his enemies or in the hope that some of the Jungle Fighter's skills would rub off on his Gargant fighting machines is uncertain.
Jungle Fighters wear the green combat gear that is everyday costume
for the people of Catachan. Their clothing is completely suited
to fast moving warfare amidst steaming jungles. Combined with
the red bandana, this rough but practical costume passes as the
Rough Riders of Attila (by Rick Priestley, excerpted from WD 181)
Like the cavalry of old, the Rough Riders strike fear into the hearts of their foe as they charge across the battlefield, deadly hunting lances at the ready. Even those who survive this explosive charge cannot escape the cleansing sweep of the Rough Riders' chainswords.
The world of Attila is somewhat smaller than Earth and has a single continent which covers almost half its surface. The centre of this massive land mass is prone to such extremes of temperature that it remains uninhabited, a baking desert in the summer which becomes a sub-zero sea of sand and snow over winter. Between the Death Lands of the continental centre and the coasts is a belt of rich savannah thousands of miles deep and punctuated with mountain chains, mighty inland lakes, and vast rivers. Only towards the coastal edges does the grassland give way to verdant forests, encircling the entire continent with a thin arboreal band.
Humans colonised Attila many thousands of years ago and must have adopted the nomadic life almost immediately. The original landing site of Khanasan has grown into the only city on the whole planet. The bustling metropolis is a gathering place for the tribes of Attila and the centre of its government. As for the bulk of the population, they are nomads who subsist from their herds of Ovigors. These are gigantic shaggy and savage animals native to the world of Attila. Their rich flesh and dark blood form the basic subsistence diet of the tribes. When the summer comes, the Attilans drive their herds towards the heart of the continent, following the spring thaw and new grown pasture. In winter, they retreat towards the outer grasslands abutting the coasts, and here their animals find enough grazing to keep them alive until the year's turn.
ATTILAN ROUGH RIDERS
The Imperium recruits some of the most ferocious mounted warriors from this barbaric world. Attilan regiments of Imperial Guard Rough Riders have fought all over the galaxy in many different theatres of war. On worlds thousand of light years from Attila the image of the scarred tribesman resplendent in his crude furs and bedecked with beads and rings is as familiar as it is frightening.
The Attilans' warrior prowess is founded upon a tradition of fighting amongst themselves, for the tribes of Attila respect only power and a King must be prepared to demonstrate his might to doubting rivals. When a lord of the Attilans defeats an enemy he cuts off the beaten man's head and his artificers turn the skull into a drinking cup as a permanent symbol of his victory. A tribal chieftain may have many such skulls, bound with ornately carved gold or inlaid with silver, embellished with rubies and sapphires of immense worth. The King of Khanasan and Lord of Attila is the most mighty of all, acknowledged as the King of a Thousand Skulls!
The Attilans are said to be born in the saddle, for they are amongst the greatest horsemen in the galaxy. The horses they prefer are thick-set beasts, ill-tempered and likely to bite or kick anyone unwise enough to give them the chance to do so. The riders depend upon their horses a great deal, and value them more highly than gold. In adversity a warrior will draw off some of the animals blood and drink it to sustain himself. In this way Attilans can live without food or water for many days, enabling them to operate deep behind enemy lines without supplies.
Characteristic features of an Attilan warrior are the scars that he bears upon his cheeks, long knife cuts of white tissue which stand out against his weather beaten skin. These marks are cut into his cheeks as a young man, and ashes from the camp fire are rubbed into the wounds so that they leave deep and prominent scars.
Attilans tend to wear their hair in long, unkempt braids, or
long and matted. They do not wash themselves or clean their clothes,
believing that to do so would affront the spirits of water with
which they superstitiously people their land. This tradition has
proven hard to break, despite considerable effort on the part
of the Adeptus Ministorum preachers in the barely tolerated mission
in Khanasan. Indeed, it is sometimes said that the stench of the
Attilan is as powerful a weapon as his hunting lance!
Cadian Shock Troops (by Rick Priestley, excerpted from WD 182)
Steeped in the blood of countless skirmishes with the forces of Chaos, the Cadian Shock Troops are the finest warriors from an embattled planet. With grim determination they stand ready to face any threat to the Imperium.
The Imperium of Mankind extends over almost the entire galaxy, yet the actual number of planetary systems ruled by man is incredibly few compared to the vast size of the galaxy as a whole. Although humanity is the most powerful of all the known races it is still fragile. Mankind's hold on its Empire is precarious and even its survival as a species must remain in doubt. Human worlds are scattered broadly throughout space, their original settlement following the fickle tides of warp space. These currents can carry a spacecraft thousand of light years but they are rarely predictable or stable.
As a result, the worlds of the Imperium are both diverse and independent. Some worlds are covered with steaming jungle, others are sheathed with ice, some are deserts and others nothing but endless ocean. Whatever their physical geography, each world is a realm within the Imperium, its loyalties and duties are to the Emperor, but its responsibilities are to itself. Each planet must protect itself, raise warriors for its defence, and maintain fortresses and orbital stations to fend off attack from space. Furthermore each world must be prepared to send its own troops to join the ranks of the Imperial Guard, to fight hundreds of thousands of light years from home as part of the armies of the Imperium itself.
Cadia is just one world amongst many thousands in the Imperium, but it has a special and honoured place in the history of mankind. Cadia stands upon the edge of the Eye of Terror within a narrow corridor of stable space called the Cadian Gate. This forms the one and only predictable passage between the Chaos infested Daemon Worlds of the Eye of Terror and Earth. There are other routes but these are less stable, inherently unpredictable paths that will scatter fleets through time and space. No battlefleet of any size can rely upon these unstable passages, but must pass through the Cadian Gate. Cadia is therefore one of the most strategically important planets of the galaxy, and its defence is vital to the survival of the Imperium.
On several occasions the forces of Chaos have moved against Cadia and raging battles have been fought in the deeps of space, beyond the Ninth Planet of Cadia, amongst the rings of Rouran and even on Cadia itself. A large part of the Imperial fleet is stationed at Cadia or nearby. Such huge battles are rare, but the constant intrusion of Chaos raiding craft is commonplace. Chaos Space Marines make frequent forays onto the surface of Cadia, and must be hunted down and destroyed before they can entrench themselves.
As recently as five years ago, a large force of Chaos Space Marines penetrated the defences of Cadia undetected, and went into hiding in the uplands of the Dorac Alps. Unknown to the Cadians, these troops dug themselves in and established a formidable fortress. Soon they were joined by reinforcements and their forces increased until a large army was ready to attack. Fortunately, the Chaos Space Marines were detected when a ship carrying more raiders was intercepted in orbit. The Cadians' own defence troops were able to contain the invaders and eventually defeat them. Such incidents are not rare by any means, and the Cadians have developed a powerful army which is expert at rooting out and destroying the intruders.
THE CADIAN SHOCK TROOPS
The most powerful fighting formations of the Cadian forces are called Shock Troops. They are chosen from the fastest moving and hardest-fighting of the Cadians. As all Cadians must train in the defence forces, all the best fighters are quickly identified and inducted for further training. When Chaos raiders are discovered the Shock Troops are sent to hunt them down, and only if the force is particularly large or well equipped will the Cadians send for help. Even the Space Marines that have come to destroy especially large Chaos forces have found the Cadians impressive and powerful allies.
The Cadians manufacture excellent weaponry and other military
equipment. The world itself is heavily industrialised and has
many large cities with highly skilled populations. This is reflected
in the Cadians' armament and wargear, which is made in uniform
patterns and camouflaged in a manner most suited to the mixed
terrain of the Cadian wilderness.
Commissar Yarrick (by Jervis Johnson, excerpted from WD 182)
Unmistakable on the battlefield with his huge battle claw, Commissar
Yarrick strikes terror into the hearts of his Ork enemies. Through
his boundless faith in the Emperor he has survived wounds that
would kill another man and many think he is invincible.
Commissar Yarrick was an old man when Ghazghkull Thraka attacked Armageddon and the siege of Hades Hive began. He had a long career of distinguished service in the Planetary Defence Force behind him and was scheduled for retirement at the Feast of the Ascension. Yarrick had a reputation for being utterly loyal to the Imperium and an inspiring leader of men. In his youth he had learned the language of the Orks from a captured Ork raider and he was an expert on the way the Ork mind worked. A better leader than Herman Von Strab - Imperial Overlord of Armageddon - would have paid more attention to what he said, but instead Von Strab grew angry with the old man for daring to contradict his views of what the Orks planned to do and banished him to Hades Hive. As it turned out this was one of the few wise decisions that Von Strab made during the campaign...
The Ork attack on Armageddon Secundus shattered the Imperial front line and destroyed most of the Imperial army. Everywhere Imperial forces were in retreat, and hive after hive fell. But then the Orks reached Hades Hive, and here Commissar Yarrick supervised the defences. The siege of Hades Hive began with a mammoth Ork assault led by Warlord Ugulhard of the Snakebites clan. Outnumbered three to one, the Imperial defenders were beaten back, and everywhere ferocious and bloody hand-to-hand fights took place between the Orks and Humans.
At this vit4l moment Ugulhard and Yarrick met. With a mighty roar the Ork Warboss threw himself at Yarrick, his battle claw snickered and snapped, and Yarrick' s right arm was torn off at the elbow. But Ugulhard's bellow of triumph quickly turned to a scream of horror. Ignoring pain so intense that any normal man would have passed out instantly, Yarrick swung his chainsword and with one slice lopped off Ugulhard's head. The Ork's body stood upright for a moment, fountaining green blood, and then crashed to the ground. Yarrick calmly bent down, pulled the power claw from the Ork's body, and held it aloft in triumph. For a moment a hush fell over the battlefield. Then with a huge cheer the Imperial troops charged at the stunned Orks and hurled them back. Only once he was sure that Hades was safe did Yarrick allow himself to pass out.
The events of that day gave Yarrick a terrifying reputation among the Orks, and he was to become one of the very few Humans that ever inspired fear (or something like fear) in that warlike and brutal race. It was a commonly held Ork belief that Yarrick could not be killed, and that he had the 'evil eye' which could kill an Ork with a glance. Yarrick understood Ork psychology well, and played on these primitive fears. He kept Ugulhard' s battle claw and had it specially modified so that he could use it. Whenever he entered battle he wore the battle claw, and it quickly became a symbol that inspired fear in the Ork attackers and steadfastness in the Imperial defenders. He even had his own left eye plucked out and replaced with a special bionic implant that could fire a powerful pulse of laser energy. If the Orks thought he had the evil eye then, by the Emperor, an evil eye he would have!
For six months the defenders of Hades Hive held out. Who knows what feats of heroism and horror took place in that place, at that time? Those who survived do not talk much about it, save to praise the bravery of Yarrick. In those dark days he seemed to be everywhere, raising the spirits of a people with his own unquenchable belief in ultimate victory. Amazingly he welded together a army capable of standing off the invaders. The time that they bought with their blood allowed fresh Imperial forces, including three Chapters of Space Marines, to arrive and turn the tide against the Orks. Even as the final assault on Hades began, a relief force headed by the Salamanders, Blood Angels and Ultramarines raced in an effort to relieve the hive. But tragically, as the Space Marines broke through the Ork lines, Hades fell. Commissar Yarrick was one of the few survivors. His shattered body was found in the ruins, dozens of Ork bodies heaped at his feet.
It took Yarrick many months to recover from his wounds, and by the time he had done so the Battle For Armageddon was over. At last he was able to retire, and for a brief period he was able to find some peace tending the small garden that was the only luxury he allowed himself. Even so, he was deeply troubled by the memories of what had happened at Hades Hive, and nearly every night he woke screaming from nightmares spawned by those terrible times. But then the news of Ghazghkull's survival reached him. It is said that the look of fury and hatred that crossed his face was so terrible that the messenger cowered and grovelled before him, fearing for his own life. But Yarrick's hatred was reserved for one being, and one only: Ghazghkull. Spinning on his heel he ordered his valet to bring his famous black uniform and battle claw. Yarrick was coming out of retirement, and he would not rest until he had avenged the brave defenders of Hades Hive by spilling the life blood of Ghazghkull Thraka...
|WD 182||Blood and Fire (Listed in Contents as A Gathering of Might): Battle Report - Ultramarines and Imperial Guard vs. Ghazghkull's Orks|
Ice Warriors of Valhalla (by Rick Priestley, excerpted from WD 183)
Raised on a frozen and desolate homeworld, the Ice Warriors of Valhalla have a long and glorious history of victories against the Orks and other enemies of the Imperium. Famed as one of the toughest regiments of the Imperial Guard, these grim and tenacious warriors never retreat and never surrender.
The planet of Valhalla was once a temperate paradise of forests and broad fertile plains. There is no record of its settlement, but legends recall a world ripe for colonisation and development. Its people spread across the world and prospered. The planet's main land masses were distributed more or less evenly, one centred at the northern pole and the other at the south. The equatorial regions themselves were dominated by a huge warm ocean eleven thousand miles wide.
Approximately ten thousand years ago Valhalla was struck by a comet of immense size and weight. The planet's defence lasers poured shot after shot into the comet. This did nothing more than break off several smaller fragments of what proved to be virtually solid iron. A mile wide fragment struck the northern continent causing massive earthquakes and destruction, but the main comet body landed in the sea.
At first the confusion and devastation made it hard to gauge the full effect of the strike. The boiling seas, clouds of vapour and pall of dust cut off the light. Temperatures plunged to freezing over the whole planet. Even more significantly, the impact had knocked the whole world from its orbit. For ten years Valhalla spun eccentrically until it finally settled some fifteen million miles further from its sun. By then the planet was a very different place indeed.
Valhalla had become a frozen world of ice. The survivors of the disaster found themselves pushed further and further towards the equatorial oceans as glaciers engulfed the polar continents. Eventually, there was no more land left, and they were forced to live upon the ice itself. Though 99% of all life had been destroyed the people struggled through, building their cities deep inside the ice, beneath the glaciers and upon the frozen ocean. What little life remained they carefully cultivated, growing nutrient slimes and algae in vats heated by thermal stills.
Fate had dealt the world a cruel blow but had not finished with Valhalla. Just as the threat of starvation seemed to be receding, another and equally dangerous foe appeared. Orks came in their thousands, their damaged spacefleet blown upon the winds of the warp to the ice world. Finding little to sustain even their undemanding appetites, the Orks launched themselves upon the Valhallan's with a ferocity sharpened by hunger. It was a fight for survival, the Orks were marooned and the only food on the whole planet lay inside the cities of the Valhallans - the precious organic cultures and the inhabitants themselves!
A DESPERATE STRUGGLE
The fighting raged throughout the sub-glacial cities of the Valhallans. The thermal stills which rose above the ice were easy targets for the Orks, but the green-skinned creatures plunged downwards instead, into the heart of the ice cities. The fighting raged through the galleries and tunnels of Valhalla. The defenders knew every inch of their frozen domain, every gallery and shaft, and they made good use of their familiarity in each encounter. As the Orks fought inward they found themselves constantly ambushed, or led unwittingly into dead ends where tunnels would be collapsed behind them.
By the sixth week of fighting the Orks reached the main food chamber with its hundreds of nutrient slime vats. Almost half the Orks had been killed, but the remainder were every bit as determined as ever. The scent of the bubbling green slime assailed their keen nostrils and they licked their scaly lips in anticipation. The Valhallans prepared to put up a final resistance. If the chamber was captured they'd starve within a week. Every man, woman and child that could carry a gun crowded into the chamber and its surrounding galleries. The battle would decide which race would survive on Valhalla.
THE FINAL BATTLE
The Orks attacked in a great mass. The green-skinned warriors were maddened with hunger and no longer seemed capable of rational thought. If the attack had been better planned it might have succeeded, but as it was the Orks were repelled though at great cost. Almost half the defenders were slain or hurt. The Orks retreated and prepared for another rush.
The second attack came in two simultaneous thrusts. The first was repelled easily but this proved to be nothing more than a feint. The second was directed against a small side-chamber, part of the nutrient packaging plant that adjoined the main production vats. The pack' aging plant eventually fell to the Orks, its defenders dead at their posts after exacting a heavy toll amongst the enemy.
From their newly won position the Orks rapidly moved reinforcements forwards. The humans found themselves in a crossfire, and were soon forced to give ground in the main chamber itself. The Orks were amongst the huge vats. These were pits hewn into the ground and filled with the sticky green algal slime. The raised sides of the pits provided cover for attacker and defender alike. The fighting intensified as the Orks struggled forward, pit by pit, and the humans gradually retreated or fell at their places.
After three hours the Orks had lost half their number but had forced the Valhallans back against the ice wall. The defenders' prospects looked pretty grim as they prepared for a fresh assault, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible. As the Orks rose as one and howled their battle cry, a mighty explosion tore through the cavern. Ice pillars toppled and fell into the nutrient pools, and the floor heaved and broke under the Orks' feet. The Valhahlans rose in their turn and with an almighty scream fell upon their attackers. The Orks broke in confusion as fiery machines smashed through the floor, and the cavern swam in a mixture of slime and green ichor.
The Valhallans had won the day because their stiff resistance gave their engineers time to bore an ice shaft under the cavern floor. At the vital moment the old ice burners, industrial machines used to form the sub-glacial chambers themselves, had been allowed to burst through and run amok amongst the Orks. The intensely hot burners, carried by their own high pressure steam, had terrified the Orks. Those who did not run were badly burned or melted, and those who escaped were cut down by the vengeful Valhallans.
Though the planet of Valhalla is no longer a populous or affluent
world, the Valhallans are famous throughout the galaxy. After
destroying the Orks on their own world, regiments of Valhallans
joined with other Imperial Guard to rid many worlds of the Ork
invaders. Always the Valhallans fought with the same grim determination
which they displayed in the ice cities of their homeworld. In
battle their courage and tenacity earned them the respect of other
regiments from all over the Imperium.
Imperial Guard Veterans
Mordian Iron Guard (by Rick Priestley, excerpted from WD 184)
The Iron Guard are the champions of the Tetrarchy of Mordian, standing between the planet's continued survival and anarchy and destruction. Resplendant in their distinctive bright uniforms, they are instantly recognisable and form a loyal bastion against the encroachment of Chaos.
In the long and sinister annals of the Inquisition there are many tales of treachery and horror, of the destruction of worlds and the triumph of man's greed and foolishness. It is a record of human weakness and the power of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
Yet amongst that record of lost planets and mortal defeat there are a few stories of human victory rare cases where the daemonic army of Chaos has been turned aside at the moment of success and driven back into the void from which it came. One such place is Mordian - the World of Eternal Night.
The Mordian day is the same length as the Mordian year, the small planet turning upon its axis once each time it completes a circle of its sun. As a consequence, one side of Mordian is constantly burned by the fierce heat of the sun, whilst the other side lies in eternal darkness. The scorched side is lifeless and barren, a desert of splintered rock and canyons where mighty armies clashed during the Age of Apostasy thousands of years ago. On Mordian, all life is on the dark side.
The slow revolution of Mordian does little to stir its thick atmosphere, so the weather is constantly hot and still with no natural breezes to move the oppressive air. In the sultry darkness the Mordians go about their daily lives. Ancient and ruinous cities sprawl across the planet's dark surface. Pyramidal, multi-levelled towers reach for the sky and rise like mountains towards space. Hundreds of millions of people exist upon a land surface barely one tenth the size of Earth.
Mordian is a world that seethes with people, a crowded and dark world whose rulers, the Tetrarchs of Mordian, must fight a constant battle against anarchy. Only the most careful husbanding of Mordian's resources keeps its massive population alive. All food, all clothing, all essential resources and supplies are strictly controlled and rationed. This enables the Mordians to survive albeit with the utmost effort and in considerable impoverishment.
Such harsh and demanding conditions naturally breed discontent. Few people really understand the predicament they or their planet is in. Others care nothing for their fellow men and seek only to accrue personal wealth and power regardless of consequences. In the decaying, multi-levelled cities crime is rife. Gangsters and criminal warlords rule an underworld where life is cheap and where the desperate are merely pawns to be expended as their masters please.
THE IRON GUARD
The Mordian Iron Guard stands between order and anarchy. They are the champions of the Tetrarchy of Mordian, uniformed in bright colours and fiercely loyal to their cause. Their enemies are all those who would divert the scant resources of Mordian or threaten its continued existence. They fight a constant battle against the criminal warlords of the undercity, insane gangs of cannibals, and misguided rabblerousers who would sooner see universal destruction than endure the sacrifice necessary for the survival of the world.
The Iron Guard are ruthless in pursuit of their enemies. Their discipline is legendary and their training is as rigorous as possible. All who fight in the Iron Guard understand full well the horror that would engulf their world if they were to fail in their duty. Their loyalty and determination is all that keeps Mordian from plague, starvation and savagery.
THE CONSPIRACY OF CHAOS
The greatest threat to Mordian came one hot summer. The stifling heat was unusual even for Mordian. The planet seethed with unrest. Beneath the streets brooded a secret conspiracy that posed a threat far greater than any seen before. In the depths met a dark conclave, a group of men who knew the extent of Mordian's wealth and wanted it for themselves. Away from the sight of saner citizens they made their incantations and called upon the Dark Gods of Chaos.
A spell was begun. It is impossible to say how much innocent blood was spilled to fuel their sorcery, or what sinister pledges were made to their dark masters. Those that cast the spell sought only personal power. Their lust knew no bounds. They would destroy the planet itself if they had to. They cared no more for its teeming millions than did the Chaos Gods.
The summer grew hotter as the spell neared its completion. Many strange things were reported in the capital. The cannibal mobs and criminal gangs were restless. Men saw winged monsters hovering in the city lights. People disappeared without trace.
A SKY OF FLAMES
At last the spell was complete and suddenly the world shook as its sky erupted into flame, and from the flame came the Warlords of Chaos itself. From the Eye of Terror distorted and ugly spacecraft soared into the Mordian skies to rain fire and destruction upon the world. Chaos Space Marines poured into the city slaying all around in a great and bloody sacrifice to their gods. Daemons stalked the burning towers and hunted the souls of those that fled from the devastation below.
From their dark hiding places the servants of Chaos crawled to bathe in the fire and terror of their world, confident of their master's favour now that their work was done.
As the sky exploded into flame the Tetrarchs of Mordian ordered their Astropaths to send psychic calls for help. The power of Chaos was so strong that the Astropaths' minds melted with the effort. It was impossible for anyone to say whether the messages got through or if help was on its way.
Meanwhile, the Iron Guard fought a gallant resistance against the daemonic assault. Whilst lesser men fled in terror before the might of Chaos the Iron Guard stood their ground, pouring volley after volley into the enemy ranks. At last the Iron Guard Captains were forced to give the order to withdraw. Though their men would stand until the end they could achieve little against the hordes that opposed them. Reluctantly the Iron Guard regrouped around the capital, abandoning the rest of the planet to the enemy.
Whilst the forces of Chaos rampaged throughout Mordian the Iron Guard prepared the capital's defences. Every building became a fortress, every tower a strongpoint, and every street and plaza a killing-zone for the Iron Guard's carefully sighted weapons. At the centre lay the Tetrarchal Palace itself, from which the defence of the capital was co-ordinated.
When the attack began the Iron Guard was well prepared. Chaos Space Marines fell before their well disciplined fire as shot after shot struck their ranks. Channelled into well prepared fire traps the Chaos Marines were easily repelled, but far greater and more potent foes followed upon their heels.
ATTACK FROM THE DEPTHS
From the sewers and service ducts poured an army of those who had sold their souls to the Dark Gods. Clad in rags and armed with no more than iron bars and lengths of chain they threw themselves upon the defenders. Driven by their insane devotion to Chaos they cared little if they lived or died, and thousands were cut down by the devastating weapons of the Iron Guard. Nonetheless, this attack from an unexpected source left the defenders unprepared for the next assault.
The forces of Chaos moved upon the Iron Guard with purpose. Daemons and Chaos Marines advanced as one. Bloodthirsters of Khorne roared a great challenge to chill mortal blood. Keepers of Secrets stalked the battlefield, slaying those that dared to look upon them with a withering glare. Whirling Horrors skipped and chattered in an eerie blur of incandescant power. It was a terrifying sight, yet the Iron Guard held firm before the onslaught though many paid the ultimate price for their devotion.
Street by street, building by building, the Iron Guard fell back into the heart of the city. Their lines drew tighter but refused to break, as attack after attack was repulsed. When losses grew too heavy to endure, or as positions were outflanked and became untenable, the Iron Guard withdrew to another line, always preserving what they could of their men and weapons. It was a battle fought with all the tactical brilliance and discipline the best Imperial troops could hope for. Yet it was a battle the Mordians could not win. Eventually they would have nowhere left to retreat to.
THE BATTLE FOR THE PALACE
At last the Iron Guard took position around the Tetrarchal Palace itself, the last strongpoint on the whole world. Behind hastily constructed defences the infantry waited for the inevitable attack. From the towers and ceremonial balconies the barrels of lascannons and other heavy weapons glinted in the light of the burning sky.
Suddenly the horde of Chaos was upon them, screaming and bellowing in its might. Greater Daemons of Nurgle strode clumsily amongst their minions, rising above them four or five times the height of a man, giants and lords of their foul kind.
The bloated daemons shuffled forward, putrid innards spilling over the ground, nauseous gasses bubbling from rents and tears in their leathery flesh. Beside them were the Chaos Space Marines of that pestilential God, their armour green and rancid with decay, their rank bodies stiff with disease. Before them came a black cloud of flies which buzzed about the Iron Guard, crawling into eyes and ears, and filling their mouths with black hairy bodies.
The Iron Guard's lasguns spat a volley of death into the screaming horde. Again the lasguns cracked with a single voice, as the Captains ordered shot after shot into the vile mass. From the Tetrarchal Palace came the chatter of autocannons, the angry scream of boltguns, and the piercing shriek of lascannons. With mechanical precision the weapon crews loaded and fired, loaded and fired, never stopping for one moment or breaking their routine. Deamon gore ran like a foul river in the once white square, but as one beast fell another twice as hideous marched over its body towards the Iron Guard's position.
The Captains ordered their men back to the Palace steps and formed a firing line. Their discipline intact, the Iron Guard prepared for a single volley before the forces of Chaos fell upon them. Their final moment had come, though there were few left now to witness their inevitable defeat.
THE TIDE IS TURNED
Little could the defenders of Mordian know of the power or purposes of Chaos. How could they imagine, as the hordes of Chaos advanced upon them, that the Chaos gods' hold upon Mordian was but a tenuous one. The spell that brought them to mortal space and imbued the flesh of their servants with physical energy was almost spent. The fires that burned in the sky were growing dim and the bellows of daemons echoed shallowly in the air.
As the Iron Guard watched, their enemies dissolved before their
eyes. The sky darkened to its customary blackness. In the dark
the guiding lights of Imperial spacecraft glittered amongst the
stars. The Iron Guard had won not just a battle, but the most
precious thing of all - time. From beyond the orbit of Mordian
Imperial psykers had wrought a counter spell to break the hold
of Chaos. Whilst the Iron Guard fought upon the planet, a separate
battle of wills had raged between mortals and gods. Only the Iron
Guard's heroic resistance had given the psykers enough time to
work their mystical abilities before the planet was won for Chaos
for all time.
Tallaran Desert Raiders (by Rick Priestley, excerpted from WD 185)
Tallarn is a harsh planet, with endless sulphurous deserts and constant raging sandstorms. It was the site of the largest tank battle fought during the Horus Heresy, the grave of thousands of Chaos heretics, and the home of some of the hardiest warriors in the Imperial Guard - the Tallarn Desert Raiders.
The world of Tallarn was once a fertile planet bathed in the gentle orange light of its twin suns. Oceans, plains and lush jungles covered its surface, and its people prospered. All of this ended during the Horns Heresy.
In a devastating surprise attack, the Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines struck the planet. Thousands of virus bombs rained down on Tallarn and all who could ran to the enviro-shelters deep beneath the surface. As they hid, safe from the devastating bio-infestation, the deadly coils of DNA mutated as they were programmed to do. Animals, plants, even insects died as the virus did its work, destroying the planet's ecosystem and leaving an empty shell.
After seven weeks of isolation the virus had run its course and the remaining people of Tallarn emerged upon the surface. They found a world covered with the acrid slime of plants and corpses not yet decayed - for the world was still sterile without even bacteria to aid the decomposition of its dead. The Iron Warriors sent their task force to repossess the world for the Dark Gods of Chaos. From underground bunkers the Tallarn forces emerged to do battle with the invaders. Soon, reinforcements from both sides arrived, rival space fleets bringing vast armies to fight over the worthless remnants of the dead planet.
The Battle of Tallarn raged for many months and was the largest armoured conflict of the Horns Heresy. Outbreaks of viral infection from rogue DNA residue made it almost impossible for infantry to operate outside of their protective shelters. The battle was finally decided by armies of tanks. When the fighting ended the empty, putrid wastes of Tallarn were littered with the wreckage of more than a million shattered vehicles.
A HOLLOW VICTORY
Chaos was driven from Tallarn at great cost, yet for all the millions that died there seemed little gained from the fight. The planet was destroyed and rendered useless for large scale habitation, industry or agriculture. The armies of the Imperium might well have given up Tallarn had their commanders realised the extent of the devastation, but once the armies were in motion there was no going back.
At the time the Chaos attack made little sense. It seemed insane that even the fickle Gods of Chaos should expend such energy fighting over a devastated world of no particular strategic significance. But in the aftermath of the Horns Heresy their were few left to ponder such questions. Amongst the evils of the time it was just another demonstration of the random destruction of Chaos.
Within a thousand years of the Horns Heresy Tallarn evolved into a very different world from the prosperous planet of former times. Deserts of sulphurous sand stretched from pole to pole and all water disappeared except for a thin residue in the atmosphere. No vegetation remained on the surface exposed to the blistering, wind-blown sands. All that grew was the carefully husbanded crops of the Tallarn themselves, sheltered in their protective horticultural domes.
The surviving Tallarn now lived in domed towns or in natural caverns hollowed out in the planet's rock. Fierce winds drove the Tallam into their shelters, corrosive sulphur storms made all travel risky, and eventually a system of tunnels was built to facilitate travel beneath the surface.
Above their settlements the Tallarn built vapour traps to catch water from the thin atmosphere. These tall towers still stand above their domes to this day, and all the water they use is caught by these cunning devices and channelled into subterranean holding tanks.
A SECRET UNCOVERED
During the construction of an arterial tunnel, Tallarn miners struck an outcrop of hard black rock. They were unable to penetrate through this strange substance which was quite unlike any other they had encountered. After some days they decided to divert their tunnel to go around it. As they did so they discovered something very strange. At first it seemed like a natural formation, but soon they realised they had uncovered a deliberate construction.
The initial excavations revealed a huge wall of the strange black rock carved over its entire surface with weird entwined figures. The figures were human sized yet not entirely human, possessing a grace and beauty which rendered their grotesquely inscribed cavorting all the more perverse. Giant earth movers were brought in to dig out the layer of sulphur sand in which the wall was buried, and bit by bit it was slowly and painstakingly exposed to the daylight.
The Tallarn soon discovered the wall was not straight but curved, in fact part of a huge circle. Carefully their most skilled technicians worked to uncover the entire thing, a huge ring-shaped mound almost half a mile across.
THE DANGER AWAKES
It was not until the whole circle was exposed that the disaster happened. With a blast of power the circle screamed and writhed, its inert form turned suddenly to moaning flesh. Where before there had been carvings now there were the creatures themselves, Eldar creatures, yet twisted with an uncanny evil, locked together by some sorcerous bond into a sickening embrace of depraved passion.
Within the circle itself, blackness boiled and stars wheeled - stars that belonged in another part of the galaxy altogether.
THE DARK LIBRARY
In the Dark Library of the Eldar a custodian shivered as he felt an unaccustomed surge of power. Adrift from time and space his mind searched the endless strands of probabilities and found the thread that led to Tallarn. After so long it had been discovered: the Cursus of Alganar, legend of evil from before the Fall, vortex of unimaginable power, one of the three mythical Gateways of the Gods.
His mind shifted into synchronicity with the Farseers of his race, tracing the paths that linked his mind to the Craftworlds of the Eldar. When that knowledge touched the Farseers the Avatars of Khaine would wake. And Khaine would recognise the work of his ancient destroyer Slaanesh - Bane of the Eldar, Prince of the Chaos Gods.
The Eldar struck from the skies without warning or explanation. To the Tallarn it was an unwarranted act of aggression. Little could they imagine that the fate of the entire Eldar race was bound up with their strange discovery. To the Eldar there was no time for explanation or discussion. They couldn't know whether the Tallam were in league with Chaos or whether the fierce desert people were unwitting pawns in the Dark Gods' game. As far as they were concerned the only option was to attack, to destroy the Cursus if they could before it was too late.
The Tallarn fought back with characteristic ferocity. Years of living upon the burning sulphur deserts had honed them into resilient fighters. To the Eldar the deserts were an unknown quantity. Even the hardy Aspect Warriors died under the heat of the sun, whilst the Eldar Guardians fell to the lightning raids of the human fighters. But the Eldar did not give up. They could not afford to abandon their attack. The survival of the galaxy depended on it.
THE DARK GODS AWAKE
But it was already too late. The gateway that was the Cursus grew in power by the minute. Its screams and wails filled the desert as the dark light brightened and fluxed within its core. Lights and stars swirled and clashed, fountains of spinning incandescence spat into the night sky. The laughter of gods rebounded across the sulphur dunes and Eldar and humans alike shuddered in terror.
From the Cursus poured the minions of Chaos. There were things indescribable to men. Things that awakened primal terrors in Eldar hearts - horrors of slime and flame that cackled and bounded into battle, transparent bodies of pure energy dividing and reuniting in a cascade of colours, vile fleshy things that pulsed with inner power and sucked at the air with poisonous lips, long-legged abominations that bore slender and elegant creatures upon their backs, beautiful and yet sickening to look upon. It was as if all the daemons of hell had fallen upon Tallarn. They had.
THE BATTLE FOR THE CURSUS
The human commander called a truce and hurried to the Eldar lines where the alien Seers sat waiting. Knowledge had finally opened their eyes. The Runestones lay cast upon the desert floor. Hope in union was predicted. Division would lead to damnation, darkness and death. With their fates so clearly predicted, the Eldar and Tallarn joined forces.
The two races fell back before the Chaos onslaught. Many were caught and destroyed in the early confusion, but the Chaos advance was slowed by the merciless hit and run tactics of the desert raiders. Humans led Eldar jet-bike riders into the attack, and soon the Tallarn and Eldar were able to regroup.
As the daemon hordes advanced beyond the Cursus their power waned, as if they were dependant upon its proximity for their power. And so it was, for the tendrils of Chaos though long are very tenuous, and only blood-letting and victory can sustain the link between the Dark Gods and their minions.
With skill and cunning the Tallarn drew out the Chaos battle lines. Choosing their targets carefully the Tallarn launched one attack after another, always retreating before the Chaos hordes could turn to meet their fire. It was a tactic calculated to drain the power of the horde, and it worked better than even the wily sons of the sulphur desert could have hoped.
The Eldar Seers saw the runes change, saw the opportunity develop. The daemons were fading fast, their glittering bodies growing ever more transparent, their cries ever weaker. Now was the time to hit them hard.
With a furious charge the Eldar and Tallarn threw their remaining strength against the gibbering horde. It was a last effort that would result in absolute victory or utter defeat. The Chaos hordes shuddered and the bodies of the daemons seemed to fade and dull. The crackle of energy died and the spark of life vaporised into the oily air.
Many lay dead, human and Eldar, gored by monstrous claws, crushed by the sensual caress of a poisoned tongue, or torn apart by razor sharp teeth. Many Eldar waystones were collected from the field, and many Tallarn taken back to their domes to surrender the water from their bodies to the hydrotanks. But it was victory nonetheless.
Once the Eldar had departed in peace, and the people of both races had exchanged their promises of friendship, the Tallarn returned to the Cursus. They found the black stone cold and lifeless once more, just as it was when they had first uncovered it. However, they knew now that the stone was not dead but merely sleeping, awaiting its time again, waiting for the call of its evil masters.
The Tallarn buried the Cursus beneath the sulphur sands once
more and placed within its circle the mysterious devices that
the Eldar had given them for that purpose. Then they sealed the
surface with plascrete and turned their backs upon it.
Imperial Chimera: Imperial Guard
Ratling Snipers: Imperial Guard
Leman Russ Demolisher: Imperial Guard
Imperial Griffon: Imperial Guard
|The Great Devourer!: Battle Report - Imperial Guard an Eldar Alliance vs. Tyranids|
Follow Me, Men!: Codex Imperial Guard Preview
|WD 191||Legions of Steel: Imperial Guard Tanks Tactics|
Tyranid Invasion: GW Campaign of Ichar IV Defense by Ultramarines, Imperial Guard and Eldar
|WD 193||Pyromania!: Imperial Guard Hellhound|
Ker-Boom!: Imperial Guard Basilisk
That's an Order!: Imperial Guard
Incoming!: Imperial Guard Artillery
Storm Troopers: Imperial Guard Elites
Faith in the Emporer: Army Design
Armoured Fighting Vehicles:
Imperial Guard Conversions