In the early days of 745M41, the Enemy came unannounced. It took the Homeworlds of the Dwarven Mining Consortium without mercy or pause. An unstoppable flood that struck the Squats, their homes, their stongholds with such ferocity that within weeks, the military force that had withstood alone the combined aggression's of Orks, Eldar, and the forces of Chaos, was swept from the halls of power and into the dustbins of history. There would be no more conflicts with the Eldar over the ancestral mining rights usurped from the dwarves by the greedy elder race. Grudge matches against the greenskins that every dwarven child dreamed of getting embroiled in. The end of blood feuds between the dwarves who fought with the Emperor and their craven cousins, the Chaos Dwarves. Yet dwarves go not quietly into the night. Though the darkness gathers, a candlelight is carried on. To light other candles? History and the Emperor will be the judge.
745M41, The Loss of Durnak
Three meters high, it towered over the hapless Squat warriors that bravely stood in defiance of its charge. Fire discipline was a thing long lost. Great scythes at the ends of its four arms flew with lightning precision and warriors fell, their corpses falling only to be kicked and scattered as if leaves being danced through by a child in the autumn. Missiles streaked harmlessly by while heavy bolter rounds seemed to unable to bring the beast down.
A battle cry, amplified by a speaker on a dwarven berserker's back, cut through the cacophony of explosions and bolter fire. Twenty-five strong, the band scurried towards the great beast. Twenty-five of the Brotherhood's craziest. Twenty-five of the strongest and best fighters, even if they were impossible to deal with after a battle, here in the thick of everything they could be counted upon to pull the Botherhood's fat out of the fire.
The behemoth turned to the screaming band and the music blaring out of their speakers. The crazy fools charged as fast as they could, the towering nightmare, while the few remaining warriors at its feet scurried away, each trying to flee and not get cut down by the incoming rounds of the thunderer squad that had been holding their flank. The berserkers did not share that caution and more than one fell as they ran through the fields of fire in an eager attempt to engage what no one had ever seen, let alone fought.
Veghard pulled his heavy bolter up. The berserkers were engaged. It was time to find a new target. A target of something. His squad was formed up in a line trying to stop the strange creature. It was something new, but everything in the Emperor damned battle was. Even their progress though the terrain was damned. They only went in one direction. Back and away from the enemy. Whatever the enemy was.
"Veg? What's the plan? Where do we go?" Dagmar the radioman looked to him. The lieutenant waited for his decision too. This mess they were in had no solution. Headquarters could not be relied upon. Several times in the past day they had been dispatched on orders only to be called back, repositioned to oppose an empty field, then sent on an emergency dispatch to supply reinforcement, and called off again.
The first time they engaged the enemy, flying creatures the size of men dropped from the sky. They had been cut down quickly enough, but the Sixty-sixth Gilbaldum Brotherhood had been sighted and the artillery had began to rain down. The Grand Battery of thudd guns and mole mortars took the brunt of the first attack. Undeployed, the odd sphere shaped charges of the enemy fell with devastating effect. They also learned that should a round fail to hit a living target, the round would float until an appropriate target came within reach and detonate then. Even more disturbing , the artillery seemed to be able to continue to sight in on the location of unexploded ordinance as it floated aimlessly around the battlefield. Even odder, as they tended the wounded, the exploding rounds weren't even made of metal. Many died as the medics could not identify the shrapnel with their battle kits and had to seek out it by sight and touch. The shrapnel seemed to consist of naught but bone and carapace.
Then the gene stealers came.
Those at least were known. Veghard had read about them. His family connections gave him some education the average citizen did not even know of. Things that could grant an all expenses paid visit to the Inquisitor. Gene stealers was one of those dark horrors that Veghard had found fascinating as a young boy reading through the Clan's library files. Knowing about them didn't save the rhino compliment that had been brought along to move the Brotherhood. Or the guild force, who had been awaiting orders when the attack began. Robbed of their speed and movement, half the force had been put down before they could get underway and rocket out of the killing field. The combat trikes took the least damage. The motorcycles of the other two platoons came away so heavily mauled, they were no longer viable units. Like the bikes, the Brotherhood would have run, but when the enemy covers ground twice as fast as you, retreat is not feasible.
Veghard was not an officer, but his clan and name were well known in the Brotherhood, and when he spoke, the captain and lieutenant both listened. The warlord who had been formulating a plan to pull back ordered a solid defense and though the gene stealers tore down some deployed robots, they were stopped. They had been stopped long enough for the Two Hundredth Iron Breaker Brotherhood to arrive in their Leviathan. As the battle was reviewed, the Two Hundredth had quite the fun needling the Sixty Sixth for needed a fully supported brotherhood reinforced by a full Guild Force to bring down thirty gene stealers, and still managing to lose half the force and their Grand Battery. Three companies, one with full support. It took some time for the officers to pull the berserkers apart once they began to brawl over the insults.
The void shields of the Leviathan fell quickly and the resulting crater devastated the warrior brotherhoods. One hundred squat warriors were almost wiped out when the enemy tanks arrived and destroyed the great Leviathan in two volleys. Strange creatures with gun protuberances growing out of their backs had come up on the two brotherhoods in the wake of the gene stealers. Supported by dog like infantry that fired spiked rounds a short distance, the mocking stopped as the Leviathan ceased to exist in a devastating explosion as the containment fields on the void generator failed.
Not all was lost. Veghard, along with his thunderer unit, berserkers and squads of brotherhood warriors turned and fled the battlefield. Veghard had the distinction of being the first to break and run. His flight saved the Brotherhood, but not much else. When their flight was done, Veghard could not explain his actions beyond his adamant denial of cowardice and an unshakable feeling of needing to head back to their deployment zone. A claim that would earn the average Imperial trooper a round from a Commissar, but was an acceptable defense in the Squat army. Dwarves, as a rule, do not run.
The day ended with the berserkers dragging down the great four armed creature. One of the berserkers activated a melta bomb, strapped it to his chest and played keep away until it detonated and stopped the rampaging beast. The long night was a forced march that saw the loss of more men and equipment. Dawn found the sad remains of the Sixty Sixth Brotherhood at the edge of the tarmac and being boarded onto a transport along with panicked civilians were rushed into the ships. As the ship shot up towards the safety of space, Veghard watched the undulating mass of the enemy flow over the space port behind them. The paltry forces the Sixty Sixth Brotherhood had engaged was less than a drop of rain compared against the ocean that made up the main body of the enemy.
Only one thing was relevant. This Homeworld was lost. Not Veghard's, but his would face the enemy too. It, like the other Squat Homeworlds would fall, unable to outrun, out-shoot, or outlast the onslaught. Veghard found himself again and again sitting in a seat, peering out the window as the Tyranid Hive consumed world after world. It began to feel as if the bugs sought Veghard out, for he would no sooner arrive at a new world and the Tyranids would be close behind. As each planet fell, Veghard could feel a rope tied to his insides tugging him from one massacre to another, always keeping him just out of reach of the enemy.
Until one day there were no more Tyranids. Only marines. When the fighting began again, it wasn't against the Tyrnaids , but instead a force of Eldar. An odd comfort, Veghard found, to be faced with an enemy so simple.
No battle is as simple as it seems.