The Imperial artillery thudded down without stop, without rest. What had been a rolling series of wooded hills had been reduced to naught but mud and rock and deep craters. Still, the orks survived--picking up their severed limbs, clinging to the stones, they pressed forward against the barrage until, at last, they dashed themselves against the weighty bulwark of the Frontier--a network of bunkers and trenches, overflowing with the bayoneted might of the Emperor's Astra Militarum.
When at last it had grown quiet, Fulmenix, Enginseer of the 314th Vostroyan Rifles, crept out of his bunker and headed south, across the cratered landscape, his two servo-skulls ranging ahead of him, scanning the ground with infrared and ultrasonic auspex. He clutched his power axe tightly, his augmetic eyes scanning the ruins for any straggling greenskins, but also for any Imperial patrols. He was out of bounds--acting outside the orders handed down by Graf-Colonel Varks--but the service of the Omnissiah was a higher calling than even the service of the Emperor. This *had* to be done.
It did not take the techpriest long to find what he was looking for. A pile of ork bodies, all torn asunder from the fragmentary shells of a Wyvern Stormshard mortar, pinged brightly in the eyes of his servo skulls. Fulmenix hurried to the place, his bionic limbs whirring as he travered the uneven ground at a run. This was it. This had to be it!
His servo-arm seized body after body, some still twitching and snarling, and cast them aside. His axe whirred, slicing through weak ork-flesh and foul viscera. Then, a glint of steel. Fulmenix plunged his hand into the charnel heap and pulled out an ork head.
Its eyes were open! Fulmenix almost dropped it as it snarled wordlessly at him, chopping its brass-capped teeth. His momentary fear fell away, however, when he saw the augmetic eye implanted into the beast's head. It was an imperfect job--crude beyond measure, ork work to be sure--but the device itself...it was divine. Hands trembling, he took great care to excise the implant, cutting away at the skull with an ultrasonic scalpel. When at last he held it in his hands and turned it over...Great Omnissiah!
It was an augmetic eye, but with a built-in power source he had never seen before and made of a sophisticated alloy. It seemed to allow the wearer to see well beyond the spectrum of visible light--not that it's latest bearer had any idea what to do with such information. It was a wonder beyond anything Fulmenix had seen, but the greatest mystery was this: it was very clearly of human design. Not *Imperial* design--human design.
This was evidence of something ancient. Something predating even the Imperium. Somehow this ork--and many orks like him--had stumbled upon some hidden cache of technology dating from over 10,000 years ago.
The servo-skulls recorded Fulmenix's entire investigation and transmitted it back to an astropathic relay for delivery to his superiors in the Adeptus Mechanicus. This was fortuitous, because he had scarcely pocketed the priceless artifact before the ork offensive began anew, and the artillery once again pounded the hills flat.
Fulmenix never made it back to the Frontier.
Orthos IV is an agri-world technically under the authority of the Tetriarchs of Vostroya. Or at least it was. An ork invasion of its major urban and space-port facilities in the southern temperate regions has led to a long conflict between the Vostroyans and the Orks with few signs of abating. The Orks now hold most of the former agricultural territory as well as several cities, while the Vostroyans control the oceans, many islands, and both polar regions. Imperial reinforcements had been inbound to help annihilate the menace, but then the Crix Maleditrix cut Vostroya off and now the subsector is on its own. The battle is a stalemate.
The Adeptus Mechanicus, however, has found evidence that the orks, in their looting, have come across something priceless--an ancient cache of tools and materials dating back to the Dark Age of Technology. This is a find of unparalleled importance--far greater importance than some backwarter agriworld. The radical members of the Cult Mechanicus are marshaling their Skitarii and preparing to strike at the orks and find the tech, world be damned. They will use the Astra Militarum to club the orks and, in the confusion, make off with their prize.
Little do they know, however, that the Eldar are aware of this plot. They are the ones who have aided and abetted the Ork invasion, knowing it served to protect their interests. Now that the secret is revealed, they are forced to act more openly. A host of craftworld Aeldari are bound for the world as well, there to oppose the mon-kiegh and keep the ancient technology out of the hands of the nefarious Tech Priests of Mars.
This is a narrative ladder campaign. It will be played in a series of "arcs"--three battles oriented around a single strategic objective. At the outset, the AdMech and Astra Militarum are allied, while the Orks and Iron Hands pursue their own goals.
The Vostroyan AM want to protect and liberate the agriworld from the ork infestation, thereby protecting their own homes and the lives of Imperial citizens.
The Orks want to conquer the planet and use it to jumpstart a new invasion of neighboring planets/systems.
The AdMech wants to find and claim the ancient technology, somewhere in Ork-held territory, and will not permit anyone to interfere.
The Iron Hands want to cleanse the planet of tech-heresy, which includes the Orks, the radical AdMech, and may very well put the AM in the line of fire.
We will use Matched Play rules, though we may well be playing Narrative Scenarios from time to time. Each 3-game "arc" will determine who picks the next strategic objective for their side (in other words, who has initiative).
Now, Roboknee has already played the first game of the first arc. Here's what it looks like:
AdMech Arc #1: Behind Enemy Lines
Under cover of the Imperial assault on Arendt, a small AdMech task force uses the confusion to infiltrate ork territory and search for signs of the ancient tech. Current scans indicate a factory--under ork control--that may yield clues. The Skitarii deploy to seize it!
Location: Temperate zone, industrial
Strategic Objective: take control of the factory and return with any intelligence gained
Round 1: Penetrating the Perimeter
Point Level: 500
Scenario: No Mercy/Search and Destroy
Terrain: Trench Warfare
The first directive is to kill all orks who could hinder the advance of the techpriests. They mustn't be permitted to warn others.
AdMech Victory: No orks survive to warn their reserves. The element of surprise is maintained. Round 2, Scenario A
Ork Victory: Enough orks escape to raise the alarm! Round 2, Scenario B
Round 2: Search the Factory!
Point Level: 500
Scenario A: The Scouring/Vanguard Strike
Scenario B: Dawn of War/Tactical Escalation
Terrain: Industrial Ruins
The AdMech frantically ransack the factory facility before the larger ork force realizes they are there.
AdMech Victory: The factory is taken in an orderly manner and an organized withdrawal is possible. Round 3, Scenario A
Ork Victory: The orks are stronger than anticipated--run away! Run away! Round 3, Scenario B
Round 3: Back to Base
Point Level: 750
Scenario A: Dawn of War/Secure and Control
Scenario B: Vanguard Strike/Spoils of War
Terrain: Industrial Ruins
The AdMech must get the artifacts retrieved out of there before the orks close in! Hurry!
AdMech Total Victory (3 Wins): The operation is a complete success. The Magi have several fine artifacts to guide them towards their true goal.
AdMech Partial Victory (2 Wins): The operation sustains heavy losses and no artifacts are returned. Partial data streams are uploaded, however.
Ork Partial Victory (2 Wins): The AdMech is repulsed without gaining intelligence, but the orks take heavy losses and are unsure how to proceed.
Ork Total Victory (3 Wins): The weedy techpriests are crushed by the might of the orks--and the orks are now aware of a new foe to be fought!