The Battle for Rynn's World

It all began on Badlanding, an Imperial system at the fringes of Ork dominated space and only a few weeks away from the Rynn star system through warp space. On 3650989.M41 Badlanding was invaded by Ork hordes under the command of Warlord Snagrod the Arch-Arsonist of Charadon, one of the many Ork empires which blight the galaxy. Violently independent and as hostile to other Ork domains as to any other kind of alien, the empire of Charadon had endured for over sixteen centuries under a series of different warlords - each more vicious and sadistic than his predecessor. The current incumbent, the self-proclaimed Arch-Arsonist, had conquered all the Ork tribes opposing him in a twelve year reign of bloodshed and war. This made Charadon the most powerful coalition in the anarchic confines of Ork space, and made Warlord Snagrod exceptionally popular with the Orks under his sway.

The single habitable world of the Badlanding system was protected by three recruitment companies of the Imperial Guard (from 18th Mordia, 24th Lammas and 49th Boros regiments), commanded by Commissar-General Alhaus Baldur plus a planetary defence network of ground-based missile silos and defence lasers which had not been used or blessed by a Tech-Priest in over three centuries. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Orks made successful landings across the planet, although they lost a number of ships to both the antiquated defences and the ill-considered landings in the treacherous dust seas of the equatorial quatal.

The Imperial Guard troops fought alongside the indigenous Badlanders and between them they put up a stout resistance centered around Krugerport, the only sizable settlement on the planet and seat of government. But, however bravely and desperately the forces of Badlanding fought, the Orks were both braver and more numerous. Ork big gunz battered at the walls of Krugerport and fast-moving warbuggy and warbike squadrons ravaged the surrounding settlements, capturing or killing most of the human populace who did not manage to flee into the caves honeycombing the nearby Scratch mountains. The Imperial garrison was swiftly outmatched by the growing numbers of Orks which gathered against them, and Krugerport fell within days, even as a counter strike of Crimson Fists Space Marines was readied at their fortress-monastery on Rynn's World.

Rynn's Might

When a malfunctioning defence missile had all but destroyed the Crimson Fists' Fortress-Monastery, almost annihilating the entire Chapter, the Land Raider Rynn's Might survived the blast and was hurled clear. The detonation woke the vehicle's machine-spirit, which went about executing the last orders it had received - seek and destroy.

Rynn's Might spent several hours righting itself from amongst the tangled wreckage before setting off in search of the enemy. It came across and Ork vanguard shortly after and attacked immediately, its lascannons and heavy bolters turning trukks and buggies into flaming coffins for the Orks. After destroying some thirty Ork vehicles and chasing down their fleeing crews, Rynn's Might continued its search.

For three days it scoured the area around the burning Fortress-Monastery, running across several Ork patrols and swiftly annihilating them. It was as night fell on the third day that Rynn's Might encountered a full Ork warband. The Orks were thrown into confusion by the sudden attack of the lone Space Marine assault tank, disturbed by the metallic war cries bellowing forth form its external speakers. In the darkness, the Land Raider's artificial eyes and ears served better than even the night vision of the Orks, and as they recoiled from its initial assault, Rynn's Might attacked with greater determination.

Missiles and high energy bolts scorched the hull of the Land Raider, but it continued its charge, crushing bikes and Orks under its armoured tracks, its weapons lighting the darkness with flashes of lascannon bursts and heavy bolter fire, illuminating the battle with the flames of wrecked Dreadnoughts and Killer Kans. The Orks attempted to muster a counter-attack, their Warboss gathering his bravest warriors and Nobz about him. Rynn's Might noted this build up of force and headed for the Ork leader at full speed, ignoring the shells that ricocheted off its armoured hide as it drove over the mangled corpses of the greenskins.

Out of heavy bolter ammunition and with its lascannons fused from near-continual firing, Rynn's Might used its only weapon left to it - its bulk and weight. Many of the Orks fled from this image of the Emperor's fury as it bore down on them, searchlights blazing in their eyes, external vocalisers still blaring prayers to the Emperor. The Warlord stood firm though, firing blast after blast from his crude cannon, until a luck shot splintered a track link and sent Rynn's Might spinning madly. Immobilised, there was little it could do as the Orks clambered across its hull with their tankbusta bombs, blowing off chunks of ceramite and adamantium.

But Rynn's Might was to have a final vengeance. It opened up its hatchways and assault ramp, and the Orks poured on board, eager to loot what they could from this prize. As they entered, Rynn's Might slammed the entrances shut again, hydraulic rams cutting Orks in half and trapping the Warlord and his bodyguard on board. In a final act, Rynn's Might overcharged its reactor, spewing plasma and poisonous gases into its own interior, incinerating and choking the greenskins that had got inside.

Kantor ordered the location of Rynn's Might to be recorded carefully and left a guard over its remains, vowing to return and retrieve its machine-spirit and give it a new body so that it might fight with such vigour and determination once again.

The irregular broadcasts of the Arch-Arsonist took on an ever more strident, bragging tone after the fall of Badlanding. Warlord Snagrod boasted of the invincibility of his Orkish legions, the power of his fleets and his ability to destroy the most powerful Imperial enclave on his border - Rynn's World itself! Evidently some sort of retribution was required to curb the Warlord's overweening ambitions. Unfortunately a substantial portion of the Crimson Fists Chapter was already engaged in hunting Eldar pirates in The Wheel of Fire and securing the N'goth-Katar trade routes, so resources were limited.

Although resting Badlanding from the Orks control would be impossible in the short run, Chapter Master Kantor planned a series of raids on Warlord Snagrod's latest acquisition. These would serve a number of aims. Firstly they would secure information on the strength of the Orks, their war machines and ships. Secondly they would disrupt the Orks and prevent them tightening their grip on Badlanding and exploiting its resources. Thirdly they would encourage the resistance of the surviving humans now engaged in a guerrilla war from their scattered settlements in the Scratch mountains.

Localised warp storms delayed the first Crimson Fists strike cruiser, the Crusader, under the command of Brother-Captain Drakken and carrying the Crimson Fists' 4th Company, for several weeks. On its arrival the Crusader managed to slip into the system and approach Badlanding undetected. The airwaves were thick with Ork transmissions, and the crew identified some sixteen different Ork warships in the area of the planet alone. Though the wisdom of continuing with the planned raid was questioned in the face of the Ork armada, Captain Drakken determined to lead his Company down to the planet's surface.

Three Thunderhawks cut through the yellow haze of Badlanding's atmosphere to place the Space Marines within thirty miles of Krugerport. Captain Drakken planned to march his troops to the town, destroy its communications tower and water filtration plant, gauge the strength of the Ork garrison and then withdraw for extraction before overwhelming reinforcements arrived from the nearest harvesting rigs.

The initial phases of the raid passed well. At nightfall Scout squads infiltrated the town ahead of the main body of Crimson Fists and eliminated several guard posts to prevent the alarm being raised as the rest of the Company moved forward. Within an hour, the 4th Company had advanced within the outer limits of Krugerport. At this point however, the Orks became alerted their presence and fighting broke out across the town. Initial resistance was weak and scattered as individual Orks or small groups tenaciously held ruined buildings or recklessly counter-attacked down the winding streets. Brushing aside the opposition the Space Marines pushed forward towards their twin objectives of the communication tower and filtration plant.

Showing the customary resolution of their race, the Ork resistance soon stiffened. Within minutes whole mobs of Ork warriors spilled into the streets and a host of Ork vehicles thundered out onto plains around the town, hemming in the Space Marines and making vicious hit and run raids on their sides and rear. The 4th Company became increasingly bogged down by having to turn and protect themselves against the repeated counter attacks, and the two prongs of their attack became separated.

Sergeant Werner, commanding the troops making for the filtration plant, achieved his objective just before midnight after several hours of fighting. All contact was lost with Captain Drakken and the thirty brethren which had accompanied him to the communications tower, and in light of the casualties suffered by his own force, Sergeant Werner was forced to conclude that the Captain and his men had been wiped out.

Thunderhawks were summoned to extract Sergeant Werner and his men from the blazing filtration plant. By now Ork ground defences were fully mobilised and a storm of cannon fire rose against the heavily armoured gunships as they descended. Both Thunderhawks were damaged and their crews injured, and only by the most strenuous efforts were the survivors of 4th Company embarked and the Thunderhawks taken aloft. More hits were scored on them as they took off, and one craft had an engine disabled. Unable to achieve escape velocity, the damaged Thunderhawk was forced to crash-land in the Scratch mountains and no further communications were received from it.

The Crusader escaped Badlanding hotly pursued by several Ork ships. Out of the eighty four Space Marines committed to the action, fifty six had been lost. The Ork warbands on Badlanding had inflicted a heavy defeat on the Crimson Fists. Sensorium uploads to the Crusader were subject to stringent tactical analysis upon its return to Rynn's World. The Orks in Krugerport had proved to be alert and exceedingly aggressive. Their The leader was identified as Warboss Uzrog Mag-Kull, a powerful and respected war leader reputed to be one of Snagrod's most dangerous lieutenants (dangerous to the Arch-Arsonist too, which is probably why he had been sent to Badlanding). Uzrog's warband was mainly composed of members of the Deathskull clan, easily identified by their blue warpaint and wargear scavenged torn the Imperial Guard troops slain in Krugerport.

Uzrog's warband was known to be sizable but the number of Orks encountered in Krugerport was greater tan its known size and included many from the Goff clan. It was surmised that another warband was present in the town, doubtless sent by the Arch-Arsonist to ensure that Uzrog's ambitions didn't extend to building or empire of his own, based around Badlanding.

The raids which had been planned against Badlanding were suspended indefinitely. Chapter Master Kantor, a -veteran fighter against Orks could see what was coming by the strength and aggression of the Ork forces encountered there. An Ork Waaagh was gathering strength and the attack on Badlanding had only been the first stage, the first ripple of lightning at the beginning of a storm. More and more Orks would be drawn to the fighting like moths to a candle flame, warbands at first and then entire tribes.

Kantor believed any further action taken against the Orks would only stir them up further, accelerating their build-up to even more dangerous levels. It was suggested that Badlanding be subject to the cleansing -` the Exterminatus' to destroy the growing Waaagh! Kantor saw that this would only delay rather than destroy the Waaagh, giving it time to gain in strength become more terrible than before - even worse, Humanity would be robbed of another precious habitable into the bargain.

No, Badlanding would be reconquered when the Orks had expended their strength on expansion and conquest, not while the Orks were gathering their strength there. The Imperium would be informed, but fighting ships and troops would take months or even years to reach the sector, if they arrived at all. When the storm broke, it would mean years of fighting in this comer of the galaxy. Where the next blow would fall was impossible to say, but the Crimson Fists would need to be ready to stem the tide.

The fortress-monastery of the Crimson Fists was placed on alert and all companies recalled. The defence militias of the human inhabitants of the planet were mustered and armed, even though an attack on the Crimson Fists' heavily-defended home world seemed insane. Nonetheless it was possible that Ork raiders might attempt a sneak attack in much the same way as the Crimson Fists had at Badlanding.

Sirens sounded throughout the Crimson Fists' fortress-monastery as orbiting auger satellites registered an alien warfleet exiting the warp within ten planetary diameter

s of Rynn's World. For several minutes the defenders were paralysed by astonishment and disbelief that anyone would risk exiting the immaterium so close to a planet Opticon scans confirmed the approaching fleet as a mass d ramshackle Ork ships which were in the process d launching a cloud of assault boats and larders at the planet. Snagrod was apparently psychotic enough to try a full-scale invasion of Rynn's World.

But the planetary defences of Rynn's World were not those of Badlanding, weak and ill-kept. Defence platforms and system ships were clustered thickly around the planet, great batteries of defence lasers and missiles lay beneath its surface. Within seconds of arrival, the first Ork ship was torn apart by incandescent blasts of flame. More followed moment-by-moment as more weapons came on line and the defensive fire intensified. Ork attack craft burned like clouds of cinders - the night side of Rynn's World grew bright as day beneath the terrible inferno which stalked the heavens.

The Ork fleet plunged on into the maelstrom with reckless bravery. They blasted satellites and platforms, rammed or boarded system ships and monitors. The first assault larders breached the atmosphere and plummeted down on laser silos and missile sites, their cargoes of green-skinned warriors spilling out to slaughter the defence crews. The tally of casualties and combat reports became a stream and then a flood as the fighting spread.

Then, at the height of the fighting, a single missile from a salvo launched by Battery Laculum on the western flank of the fortress-monastery went awry. At the edge of the stratosphere it fell back, its fiery trail describing a long, elegant arc back towards the heavily armoured bulk of the Chapter fortress. A single rogue missile should have been able to inflict little harm on those adamantium walls, let alone threaten its vulnerable arsenal protected by stasis fields, ceramite doors and hundreds of meters of solid rock. Yet harm it did - by infernal chance it bit deep into the impenetrable stone, its plasma warhead detonated with full force and breached the arsenal walls.

The ancient stronghold shook as secondary explosions ripped through the catacombs beneath it. Flash fires raced through corridors and up stairwells. Jets of flame geysered from every slit and embrasure and in moments the fortress-monastery had become an erupting volcano of terrible violence. The rock itself melted and ran like wax in the resultant inferno.

Chapter Master Kantor had escaped the destruction of the fortress as he was engaged in surveying the outer defences at the time the attack came, and was hastening back as the missile struck. So Kantor and a handful of Crimson Fists survived the conflagration and, grimly setting aside their fury at the destruction of their revered Chapter fortress, retreated towards the distant planetary capital of New Rynn City. With their fortress, heart of the planetary defences, gone, the skies above them soon filled with the distant glitter of the multitude of Ork ships in orbit.

Hundreds of assault boats and landers streaked across the night sky like fiery meteors. Over the next five days the Orks rampaged across Flynn's World virtually unchecked. Cities were pounded into rubble by orbiting Ork ships. Settlements and farms were sacked and burned by the barbaric warriors in a frenzy of bloodlust. Columns of clattering Orkish vehicles carved swathes of devastation over the green hills, killing and enslaving the populace wherever they could be found. Kantor and his men fought skirmishes with Ork hunter-killer-eater patrols, often barely escaping before more Orks arrived in overwhelming numbers. They travelled by night to avoid the attention of Ork fighta bommers which criss-crossed the skies by day. During the daylight hours they were forced to seek cover where they could - lying up amidst the ruins of a farm one day, hiding out in an abandoned quarry the next. Food and ammunition grew scarce but every night the distant thunder of Ork guns around New Rynn City grew closer.

On the tenth night after the destruction of the fortress monastery, Kantor and his command reached the outskirts of New Rynn City - to find only shattered ruins. The central portion of the city was built on an island in the midst of the great river Pakomac, and this appeared battered but still standing. The rest had been destroyed in the fighting. Many Ork forts had been built out of the rubble and it was obvious that equally many warbands were vying for the glory of capturing the last city on the planet. Each warboss had his own schemes to cross the river -some were trying to build bridges under withering fire from the defenders, others were constructing boats or pontoons or submersible siege towers, still others were bombarding the city with artillery.

All existing bridges to the besieged isle had been destroyed, so Kantor led his men to a major underzoom which led under the river near Jadeberry Hill. The Crimson Fists were forced to take a wide detour around an Ork warband mustering in the pre-dawn for an attack and reached the tunnel entrance only minutes before the Orks advanced. They rejoiced when they discovered that the tunnel mouth was being held by Brother Marines of the Crimson Fists who had been dispatched to New Rynn City before the Orks attacked.

Their leader was Veteran Sergeant Huron Grimm, who was astounded to find his old Chapter Master, who was believed to have died at the fortress-monastery, emerging from the pre-dawn mist with the battered and bloodied remnants of three squads of his brethren. The rejoicing of the brethren was short-lived as moments later all had to man the barricades to stave off the first of many attacks that day. A vast force of Ork assault troops, with a high proportion of Stikk Bommas, led by Warboss Ulruk, battered at the Crimson Fists in successive wave attacks. After three days of constant fighting, the Crimson Fists were driven back down the underzoom tunnel and forced to use demolition charges to prevent the Orks following. New Rynn City was left completely isolated and besieged.

The eighteen-month siege of New Rynn City, and the campaign to liberate Rynn's world when Imperial reinforcements finally arrived, would make epic tales in their own right. As Kantor had predicted it took years of fighting to reconquer the worlds in Loki Sector which were seized by Waaagh! Snagrod. Badlanding remains in Ork hands to this day.