Montar VII is a minor dustball of a planet that orbits close to the second sun of the sparsely populated inhabited Montar system. The planet is an inhospitable place with little in the way of natural resources, and was largely ignored by the Imperium - until a drifting space hulk deposited the Bloody Hand Ork tribe on the planet and their leader, Warlord Bullgarg, claimed it for his own! The Bloody Hand tribe, or Blood Handz, as they are often called, are one of many Ork tribes that inhabit the Galaxy.
Until they came to Montar VII, the Bloody Hand tribe were nomadic raiders whose only home was their space hulk, and were not considered to be a major threat by the Imperium. What happened on Montar VII would cause the Imperium to re-evaluate this view.
A tribe usually includes Orks belonging to several of the major clans, and in this the Blood Handz are no exception, including Stormboyz, SnakeBites and the Kult of Speed within their ranks. However, the vast bulk of the boyz are content to call themselves simple "Blud 'andz", and leave it to others to dabble in all this whacky clan stuff. In order to show their allegiance to the tribe the Boyz paint their right fist and forearm blood red, in homage to Bullgarg's heroic deed.
Until he came to Montar VII Bullgarg had been content to lead a nomadic life of piracy and raiding, but his arrival on the planet brought a change. No longer would the simple pleasures of boarding actions and hit and run raids be enough - Bullgarg now wanted to found an Orky empire all of his own, starting on Montar VII! What exactly brought about this change no one was sure. Some said that Gork and Mork spoke to the Warlord as he slept, sending visions of the empire he would found, while others said that he'd started to believe his own stories of his exploits and had got too big for his boots. Whatever the reason, the result was the same - Bullgarg had come to the Montar system, and he wouldn't leave until he'd conquered every planet in it!
The Ork landing did not go unnoticed, and Planetary Lord Kinwa on Montar Prime urgently requested aid to deal with the Orks before they spread mayhem and destruction throughout the system. Although preliminary reports indicated that the Ork tribe was of no great strength, Lord Kinwa simply did not have the forces to deal with them. The total human and abhuman population of the entire Montar system numbered less than 700, and Lord Kinwa's planetary defence force consisted of an under strength platoon with only three heavy weapons and no armoured vehicles!
Fortunately for Lord Kinwa his appeal for help was received and acted upon very quickly, perhaps too quickly as things turned out. The Montar system lies in Segmentum Tempestus close to the planet of Tallarn. Imperial Guard forces in this sector were under the control of Lord Commander Sherdan, who had recently completed a successful campaign against a renegade Eldar pirate fleet. The campaign had been a long and bloody one, a running battle fought in half a dozen different systems and on more than 30 worlds, which had ended with the destruction of the Eldar renegades by the Imperial Navy. Reports of this final battle were coming in when Sherdan received the news of the Ork invasion of Montar VII, and it may be t hat his elation over the victory against the renegade Eldar clouded his judgement about how he would deal with Warlord Bullgarg.
Whatever the reason, Sherdan trusted the preliminary reconnaissance reports and decided to despatch a small force to deal with the Orks as quickly as possible. The troops that he sent were the veterans of the campaign against the Dark Eldar, the 24th Praetorians.
Praetoria is a heavily populated Hive World that lies in a system close to the Imperial naval base at Bakka. The overpopulated Hive-Cities of Praetoria are renowned for their squalor and degradation, and produce some of the toughest gangers on any of the hive worlds in the Imperium. This vast population work as little more than slave-labour in the huge factory complexes of Praetoria, producing the goods that have made the planet (and its rulers) one of the richest in the Imperium, with a huge fleet of merchant craft that trade all over the Segmentum and beyond.
Imperial Guard regiments raised on Praetoria are renowned for their iron discipline and bravery, even in the face of the most overwhelming odds. The planetary lords of Praetoria hold it is only through fearsome training and draconian punishments for the most minor infringements that the hive-toughened inhabitants of their planet can be made to follow orders and do as they are told. Whatever one's views on the training methods used, they seem to work, producing troops that are as ferocious on the attack as they are determined in defence.
The 24th Praetorians had lived up well to the traditions of the fighting reputation of their home world, but had suffered very heavy casualties in so doing. Of the 1500 troops that had left Praetoria only about 300 now remained. More importantly, all of the regiment's senior officers had been killed. The most senior officer left alive, and acting commander of the regiment, was 21 year old Captain Gliene of C Company
To overcome these deficiencies for the campaign against Warlord Bullgarg, the 24th was hastily reinforced with the survivors of the 135th Tallarn Regiment, which had been all but destroyed in the battles against the Eldar renegades. Crucially the commander of the Tallarns, Colonel Al' Ter-Ay, was put in overall command of the reinforced 24th Praetorians, even though the bulk of the troops in the regiment were Praetorians. It was a command structure that was to have disastrous consequences for the regiment.
The 24th was despatched immediately to Montar VII with orders from Lord Sherdan to act quickly to eliminate the Ork threat to the system. Information was still sketchy about the size and strength of the Ork tribe, but the common consensus was that they were fairly few in numbers, and lacking in any 'eavy support' in the form of Gargants or Battle Fortresses. Ork Blood Axe mercenaries, hired as scouts for the Regiment during the campaign, confirmed that although they'd never actually met Warlord Bullgarg, everybody knew he was "a git wiv a big mouth wot'll never amount to anyfing".
When the 24th made planetfall on Montar VII Colonel Al' Ter-Ay lost no time in moving against the Orks. Sub-orbital spy-craft had pinpointed the Ork camp at a location on the Big Toof River. Ork numbers were still unknown, the pall of smog hanging over the settlement making it impossible for the Imperial spy-craft to get any readings on Ork numbers, but worryingly there were signs that the Orks were in the process of constructing Gargants and other large engines of war.
Colonel Al' Ter-Ay determined to act swiftly, as instructed in his orders from Lord Sherdan, but against the advice of Captain Gliene who suggested using his company's Blood Axes to scout the Ork camp. Al' Ter-Ay didn't trust the Blood Axes one bit, especially in an operation against their own kind, and in any case his orders specifically instructed him to act "with extreme prejudice", and this he was determined to do. Less than 24 hours after arriving on the planet the 24th Praetorians moved against the Orks.
Al' Ter-Ay split the regiment into three columns. The first of these (Force Kaz-Ter) consisted of the Tallarn Rough Rider companies and all of the Tallarn Tank Companies, and was commanded by Captain Am' Kaz-Ter of Tallarn. The second column (Force Gliene) consisted of Company C of the 24th Praetorians. The third column (Force Ter-Ay) was commanded Al' Ter-Ay himself and consisted of Company A and all of the regiment's support weapons. Al-Ter-Ay's plan was to use Force Kaz-Ter to smash into the Ork camp in a devastating surprise attack. As the Imperial tanks piled into the Orks, Force Gliene (all of which were mounted in fast-moving Chimeras) would sweep round the Ork camp, blocking off the Orks' retreat and cutting down those that tried to escape. By the time that Al' Ter-Ay and the rest of the regiment's slower-moving troops a rrived, all that remained would be to mop up. It was not a bad plan, but it relied on the Orks being too weak to fight back effectively against Force Kaz-Ter. Fatally for the Imperial troops, this was not going to be the case.
As the Imperial troops crested the hills that overlooked the Ork camp, Al' Ter-Ay's plan had already started to fall apart. Force Kaz-Ter had pulled ahead of the rest of the regiment, and started to cross the Big Toof river before Force Gliene could get into position. Captain Am'Kaz' Ter was a brilliant but headstrong commander, who had proved his bravery, if not his common sense, in many battles. Always before when he took a gamble his luck paid off. But as the Leman Russ tanks spearheading his attack crossed the Big Toof River, Kaz-Ter's luck finally ran out...
Suddenly from out of the Ork camp there poured dozens of Snakebite Boarboyz, closely followed by hundreds of Ork warriors and their smaller Gretchin cousins. Super-heavy weapon batteries mounted in the watch towers of the Ork t own burst into action and started blasting away at the surprised Imperial troops. And then, as this torrent of green-skinned destruction smashed Force Kaz-Ter's front, the reeling Guardsmen were hit by an even heavier volume of fire from the rear. As tank s exploded and men died, the Guardsmen stared in horror and disbelief as the Gargant they had believed still under construction lumbered over the horizon, flanked on either side by huge battle fortresses bristling with blazing guns, and supported by Ork Fighta-Bommerz overhead.
Within moments Captain Kaz-Ter was dead, while the panic-stricken survivors of the force that he had led did what they could to escape. Many of the Tallarn Rough Riders attacked to the column survived the initial bombardment, and they now tried to escape back over the Big Toof River and away from the Ork settlement. Unfortunately the steep banks on the far side of the river slowed their escape, and within moments the pursuing Snakebite Boarboyz of the Blood Handz tribe caught up with them. The result was a massacre. As was quickly becoming clear, the Imperial force had walked into an ambush masterminded by Warlord Bullgarg, whose scouts had let him know about the arrival of the Regiment from the moment they had landed on the planet. Bullgarg's ambush was hardly original or even well executed, but when combined with Al'Ter-Ay's fatally flawed plan it lead to a disaster for the 24th Praetorians. It is estimated that within 3 minutes of the trap being sprung Force Kaz-Ter had suffered 85% casualties. But the disaster was not over yet, for above the river valley Force Gliene was also under attack...
From the bluff overlooking the river, Captain Gliene could do little to help his comrades below, for almost at the same moment that Kaz-Ter cam e under attack, his company had been ambushed by a huge force of Ork buggies. The Orks had appeared from nowhere quickly surrounding the Praetorians and forcing them from their Chimeras. Gliene formed the vehicles into a circle, from behind which the grim red-coated soldiers under his command prepared to sell their lives as dearly as possible. All knew that they were doomed, for having dealt with Force Kaz-Ter, the hundreds of Ork Warriors and the huge war engines that accompanied them were turning their attention to "da 'umies dat were left on da hill".
As the Orks swarmed up the hill the Praetorians hit them with volley after volley of tightly controlled lasgun fire, while the multi-lasers of the Chimeras cut bloody swathes through the Ork ranks. Soon the slopes around the Guardsmen were surrounded by hundreds of Ork corpses and blazing buggies. But still the Orks kept on coming, supported by withering fire from the Gargant and Battle fortresses. Yelling their guttural battle-cries and with a complete disregard for their own safety that impressed even the battle-hardened warriors from the Hives of Praetoria, the Ork warriors hurled themselves again and again at the rapidly shrinking circle of Guardsmen, until, finally, there were no humans left alive.
With in an hour of first seeing the Ork camp, every single member of Forces Kaz-Ter and Force Gliene, with the exception of one of Company C's Blood Axe mercenaries, was dead. Colonel Ter-Ay had no option but to pull back in the face of the victorious Ork army . Fortunately for the troops under his command the Orks' pursuit was desultory at best - the Orks were too busy celebrating their victory to be bothered with chasing the few beaten survivors - and they were able to escape more or less unscathed. Colonel Te r-Ay was never to be given an independent command again. He died 10 years later making a lone attack on a Tyranid Dominatrix. It is said his last words were "Let me go to my fate brothers... I must have peace from the ghosts that haunt me."
Warlord Bullgarg went on to found a successful Ork empire in the Montar system, but then disappeared along with most of his followers on board an Ork space hulk. It was assumed that the craft was destroyed in the Warp, but no one can be certain. Who knows, may be one da y Bullgarg and the Blood Handz may return to carve out a new empire.
Lord Sherdan recovered from the setback and went on to reconquer the Montar system from the Orks that had remained after Bullgarg had left. In the forefront of the campaign was the newly raised 24th Praetorian Regiment.
Extract text taken from Games Workshops UK Gamesday '97 Programme, used without permission. No copyright infringement intended, the text remains property of Games Workshop Ltd.