Cut Off the Head...
In the second scenario of our campaign, the Orks make a cunning attack against the heart of the city in an attempt to destroy the Imperial command structure.
From the cockpit of Reaper 4, Daran looked to his left and admired the sharp lines of Reaper 1, the sleek Lightning Strike fighter piloted by the flight leader, Sagna Marits. He could just make out the scars of the hastily patched and painted damage it had received two days earlier during the initial Ork attack. Daran’s own fighter had been pulled out of the hangar, made airworthy and marked with the “4” just yesterday, the same day he’d arrived at the airfield. He was the only additional pilot in the area, having just returned from leave, and transferred immediately to Reaper Squadron, who currently, was the only fighter squadron in the area to repel the sudden Ork incursion while command scrambled to find additional forces and spread them across the front lines of the assault on the huge Imperial city of Parnassus Prime. His first mission with Reaper Squadron, he hoped he fared better than the previous Reaper 4, a rookie who’d been killed in his first mission.
Suddenly, Sagna’s voice was in his ear. “This is Reaper 1. Vox check.”
“Reaper 2. Vox check”, came Janek’s voice. Then there was a short silence before Daran remembered there was no Reaper 3 on this mission.
“Oh… Reaper 4. Vox check.”
“Reaper 6. Vox check.”
“Okay, good. Here’s the latest information from command: It looks like the Orks are flying a faster force into the heart of the city. No heavies have been spotted; it’s all FBs and Dakkas, but it looks like a lot of them. It’s being assumed they’re heading for the Administorum building where the ground force commanders and logistics departments are. We’re going to meet them there and scare them away from the building.”
“That’s a bit too clever for Orks, isn’t it?” asked Misk in Reaper 6. “They’re not known for subtlety and tactics beyond hitting and smashing.”
“Generally, yes, but the scouts, psykers, and others in the thinking department have determined that the Boss here is an Ork that calls himself “Kount Toofa”. Apparently that name has come up before, and he displays some cunning that many of the others don’t have. So we’d best take care. We’re fighting through the city, so be aware of your surroundings, use the buildings as cover, and try to isolate enemy aircraft down the streets so they don’t swarm you. And don’t forget, the Fighter Bombers have dorsal turrets and rear guns, so be careful, even when tailing them. Here we go… good hunting, and score some kills for the Emperor!”
Janek dropped his Lighting low to the ground between the towering buildings as he spotted the Ork jets up ahead doing the same. The administration building loomed ahead of him in an open space, so that the citizens of the city could behold its gleaming white glory, a beacon to humanity proclaiming that the Emperor’s work was being done here. He couldn’t let it be defiled by brutish invading xenos. Janek went to the left of the building, his eye on a pair of approaching Ork Dakkas. As he heard the booming of the meagre ground defenses firing into the air to deter the Ork attack, Janek lined up one of the Dakkas and triggered his multilasers, sending a stream of flashing beams from the nose of his fighter into the target. Chunks of metal exploded from the side of the Ork jet and then the starboard wing itself suddenly separated from the fuselage, both pieces plummeting to the ground below.
“This is Reaper 2. That’s one down,” Janek informed the squadron.
“That’s great!” responded Misk in Reaper 6, “only 7 more to go! It would be helpful if those groundpounders could hit a moving target, though!”
“You worry about your targets, Reaper 6, and let them do their jobs,” admonished Sagna from Reaper 1.
Janek pushed his plane forward and then jerked back hard on the control stick, flipping the jet up, over into a half loop, then rolled back to right-side up as he dove back to his original altitude, effectively making a 180 degree turn to put himself in position to target two Ork fighter bombers that were charging for the east tower of the Administorum building. He fired, but missed, as both Orks unleashed a torrent of bullets and cannon shells from the many guns bolted and strapped to the nose and wings of their planes. The lowest three floors of the building exploded in a cloud of dust and debris, as chunks of sculpted marble and masonry were blown into the streets, revealing the plasteel and iron skeleton supporting the building, before that, too, twisted and buckled, bringing the entire section to the ground.
“There are some important people in those buildings, Reapers. We need to clear these skies. Reaper 6, we need some heavier firepower to bring down these effbees… get your lascannons on them.”
“Acknowledged, Reaper 1, I’m trying to line ’em up, but these dakkas- aww feck! I-” Misk’s voice suddenly cut off and was replaced by Daran’s.
“This is Reaper 4. Reaper 6 is down. I just saw him. He damaged a Dakka, but another one dropped on him from behind. It looks like the damaged one is disengaging! It’s turning and heading back into the desert.”
“Stay alert everyone. We’re still outnumbered, and the ground forces are being hit hard as well. The greenskins are focusing on the Admin building, so get in behind them and cause some damage!’
The three remaining aircraft of Reaper Squadron maneuvered around the outside of the open square surrounding the Administorum building, tying to catch the Ork planes lining up for a strafing run. The few Basilisk heavy cannon emplacements and Hydra flak tanks that were stationed around the building fired at any targets that went by, bringing down another Dakkajet, but suffered losses of their own.
Daran, in Reaper 4, spotted a fighter bomber lining up a strafing run on a Hydra flak tank, as its crew desperately sprayed a curtain of bullets up in front of it. As he banked around the main building and dropped in behind it, he saw a small chunks and a short spray of oil fall away from the fuselage of the Ork jet. He opened up with his own multilasers, adding to the damage and sending the craft spiraling downwards to the street, as the gunner in the dorsal turret still futilely tried to bring his guns to bear on a target.
But as he overshot the wreckage of the Ork plane smeared on the street below, two more fighter bombers passed him, heading for the weakened west block of the Administorum building.
Daran made a a sharp turn to bring his guns back around to fire on them, just as Reaper 1 flew past him, also trying to deter the attack run.
“I don’t have an angle on the effbees!” Sagna called out. I’ll take the Dakka, you get the others, Reaper 4!” They both fired, with him scoring a hit on one of the fighter bombers, and she tore a piece of the Dakkajet, but neither caused enough damage to destroy the enemy aircraft or dissuade them from their purpose.
The front of the Ork planes lit up with flame and smoke and their guns disgorged streams of metal into the Imperial structure that stood in the centre of the city. The western section crumbled under the impacts, the weight of the top no longer supported by the base.
As the building came down, leaving only the main central enclave standing, Sagna hoped that all of the leaders and most important officials had been housed in the fortified bunkers within. Before she could swear into the vox, she heard Janek:
“They’re leaving! It looks like they’re disengaging!”
She watched as the remaining Orks, some of them trailing smoke all turned away from the centre of the city and increased speed. “Looks like it, Reaper 2! Maybe they think they’ve caused enough damage and don’t want to lose any more aircraft!”
“They’re not getting way that easily!” Janek replied. He had spotted one fighter bomber that was behind the others and appeared damaged. He checked his fuel and ammo… enough for a final shot at this one, but not enough for a chase. Throttling up, Janek turned hard in behind the wounded fighter bomber and fired. The multilaser rounds danced around the shuddering aircraft, but a few tore holes through the port wing, even as the dorsal turret gunner fired back at him. He was close enough that he could see the Ork’s maniacally grinning face, as he was clearly enjoying the noise and thrill of his twin big shootas throwing slugs back at the tailing plane. A smaller gun mounted on the tail, also fired back.
Bullets slammed into Reaper 2, chipping paint and putting holes through the wing. The damage indicators in the cockpit lit up. The Lighting wasn’t a tough aircraft; it was light, fast and agile, but Janek pushed on, determined to finish this fight. He fired again, and the tail gun continued to fire back, but neither plane could land enough rounds on the other for the killing blow.
“Reaper 2, break off,” Sagna commanded over the vox. “The attack is over. We’ll get them another day.”
Reapers 1, 2, and 4 turned their aircraft for their airfield, all them thinking the same thing. Was this a victory? They lost only one aircraft and the Orks had lost three. Was preventing the Orks from completely achieving their goal enough? It was the highest honour to give one’s life serving the Emperor, but for Misk and all the workers of the Administorum in that building. What meaning did their lives have in this conflict? Reaper Squadron flew back to their base in silence.