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Well, I've decided to build a fresh Empire army when I get the cash. I plan to give the army a steampunk theme, using slightly modifed 40k Vostroyans as the core of my force. The idea is that the army is maintained and equipped by the College of Engineers, for times when engineers take their weapons to the field, and for the recovery of any technology lost in battle. The army is the Empire equivalent of Cromwell's "New Model Army", focusing on speed and trying to keep themselves distanced from the fighting, so that they can deal damage without losing any of their highly trained, highly specialized, soldiers.
Chief Engineer Helbrandt raised the field-glass to his eye and scanned the small valley below him. The bodies of Talabecland’s soldiers still carpeted the ground, intermixed with slain greenskins. The battlefield was a scene of utter destruction- overturned wagons, butchered horses, tattered banners hanging limply, borne aloft by mounds of corpses. War was a brutish endeavor indeed.
In the center of the field, nearly buried beneath greenskin bodies, Gerrard found what he was looking for. ‘The Magnus Exelsor” was dented and battered- one of it’s heavy wheels torn away and the stack still bellowing the greasy black smoke of an uncontrolled fire. Helbrandt sighed. He had argued against sending any aid to the soldiers of Talabecland. The Orc horde that had fallen upon them was simply too large to be broken so early in the campaign. Had the College heeded his warnings, he would not be sitting atop his horse only five feet away from the rotting carcass of Engineer Gerrard and the crew of his Volleygun.
“Clear the bodies, limber the gun” he said to a pair of lowly ratings. He turned to his left, where he found Colonel Lenker standing at attention.
“Still unaccustomed to the smell mister Lenker?” he said, noting that Lenker had drawn his brass breathing mask over his face.
“No Chief. I’m accustomed, I only find it offensive. How would you like to go about recovering The Magnus, sir? With all due respect, I don’t feel quite at ease with this place.”
Helbrandt had learned to trust Lenker. A career soldier before joining the College, Lenker’s gut instincts were almost as precise as a barometer.
Helbrandt scanned the field again. He had been trained for this, and he could read a battlefield as easily as any of his other colleagues could read a blueprint.
“Mister Lenker, station your company’s mortar here, with the caissons, and prepare a base-defense along this hill.”
The colonel nodded, “K-Company, bring up the GM. Deploy here- get a move on you pampered whelps!”
Helbrandt watched the trio of riflemen carry up the Galtrek/Morrison mortar. It was far smaller than the weapons produced at Nuln, with a far shorter range. The benefit was that it was far lighter, and could be moved with the same speed as the rest of the army.
Lenker watched the riflemen put the weapon together, before leading the rest of K-company onto the slope of the hill. The volley-rifle was placed upon it’s tripod, the gunners making sure that it had clear lanes of fire to sweep the field if needed.
Helbrandt sent pickets riding down along the valley-edges. The men were experts with their pistols, and each was led by a young Engineer-sergeant wielding a lethal repeater pistol. Helbrandt turned to the other regiments of riflemen,
“D-company, A-company, form up on me and move out! Lieutenant-Engineer Alden, I am trusting command of this position to you and to Mr. Lenker.”
Alden nodded from the cuppola of ‘Leopold’s Might’, the tank which the battalion had brought with them. Helbrandt set out down the slope, rifle companies stationed on either side of him.
Orderlies were clearing the bodies from the hull of ‘The Magnus’ while the riflemen manned the perimeter. Helbrandt began to sense the unease which Lenker had referred to. He drew his spyglass, but before he could raise it to his eye, he saw a burning red sphere launch into the air, followed by a blast of handguns. Turning his spyglass, he saw his pickets riding back towards the Outriders he had stationed halfway down the valley. A minute later, a rider tore up to the perimeter.
“The Orcs are on the move Chief Engineer. They engaged us at the south end, but we spotted them moving along the hills as well.”
Helbrandt gritted his teeth, “Return to your detachment soldier. Relay the order to regroup here, by way of the eastern side of the valley. That will bring you in front of colonel Lenker.”
The soldier nodded, and pulled his helmet down tighter atop his head before galloping off at full speed. Helbrandt pressed the orderlies to increase the pace of their labors.
A rifle crack marked out Sergeant Telwyck. The sergeant’s magnifier goggles were pulled over his eyes, and he worked the mechanism of his rifle, chambering another shot.
“Orc color-bearer Sir. That’s one regiment that won’t be moving so fast.”
“Well done Telwyck” Helbrandt said to the sniper. His rifle was a work of art- a weapon inspired as much by Skaven jezzails as by the Hochland Long-rifle. All of the rifles of the company had a loading mechanism with a small cartridge of pre-packaged ammunition. An soldier trained with such a weapon could reload twice as fast as the empire’s top handgunner. That firing capacity was about to become extremely useful.
On the western side, Sergeant Renalds shouted an order through his breathing mask. In an instant, the west side of the perimeter with aflame with muzzle-flashes. The volleyrifle had been deployed and now it’s whirring barrels were spitting a hail of lead at the enemy. Helbrandt watched with satisfaction as rank after rank of charging greenskin were punched from their feet. The approaching mob faltered, and then broke, receding back into the trees.
The volleyrifle spun down and the gunner engaged the barrel-lock. With practiced swiftness he wrenched the empty drum from backs of the barrels and attached a fresh one. The removable drums were an improvement from the standard repeater-handgun, and allowed for a faster reload at the expense of weight. Thus, a bipod was attached to the end of the weapon, to stabilize it.
The pickets were suddenly riding up from the east, followed by a long trail of orcs. As they rode, more orcs poured from the treeline. Those foolish enough to cross infront of the charging horsemen were cut down by volleys of pistol-fire. The rest of the brutes loped along behind.
“Sergeant Telwyck- open fire!”
Telwyck’s rifle company began blasting away at the pursuing orcs, accurate fire dragging a greenskin to the earth with each gunshot. As the pistoliers and outriders changed course and rode across the front of Lenker’s position, the air was filled with smoke and noise. The volley-rifle and riflemen sent waves of lead streaming into the ranks of green bodies. An orange explosion and plume of dirt and blood marked the impact of the first shell from the GM, and soon ‘Leopold’s Might’ was adding fire from it’s steam-operated cannon.
The Orcs broke under the punishment, running back over the ground they had crossed only moments before. Their dead now carpeted the ground, their wounded still struggling to rise under the hail of bullets. Lenker prudently ordered a cease-fire, to save rounds. The orderlies had finally managed to attach ropes to ‘The Magnus’, and were ready to haul the stricken machine from the field.
As a pair of orderlies ran back up the base position, to attach the sturdy cables to the steam-winch, the orcs mounted a fresh attack. They poured from the west side of the valley again. This time, the volley-rifle and the guns did little to deter their charge.
Helbrandt set his jaw- his men’s leather jerkins offered little defense against an orcish cleaver, and this battle was going to close to melee range.
“Bayonettes!” Renalds shouted to his men, “Telwyck, maintain fire and prepare for our countercharge.”
Renalds men grimly fixed their bayonettes. A lucky few pulled their brass masks down over their eyes, for a little more protection. The others would have to rely on their tall, fur-covered helmets for protection. Renalds set down his longrifle and drew his pistol and saber. Halbrandt drew his own saber and repeater pistol, prepared to sell his life to defend the 450 year-old Steam Tank.
The charge was unnecessary though. Before the Orcs could close, they were intercepted by a clanging regiment of Imperial might. Knights, unaffiliated with any Order but employed directly by the college, charged down from the hilltop. Their allow armor afforded them extra speed, and as their lances struck home and their horses trampled orcs under-hoof, the greenskins decided they had had enough. The beasts broke away, and this time, Lenker ordered the pistoliers and outriders to give chase.
As the cavalry butchered the last of the orcs in the valley, the steam winch groaned and strained and pulled ‘The Magnus Exelsor’ from the battlefield. The mission was complete, and Helbrandt ordered his men to quit the field, falling back to Lenker’s position, and then stowing their gear and marching at a quick pace away from the dangerous area- the precious ‘Magnus’ in tow behind them.
I tried to explain a bit about the organization of the army, and the experimental weapons that they use. The engineers involved are trained for war as well as engineering, hence their titles. The "GM mortar" is the smaller Imperial Guard mortar team, while the volley-rifle is going to be a converted heavybolter, but with several revolving barrels rather than a single one. Sergeant Reynolds is a Vostroyan Sniper, because the models look so cool. In game terms, he would have to replace the volley-rifle, which is represented by a sergeant with a repeater-hangun.
niiiiiiiiiiiice .. first of all. very nice fluff
Secondly. Christ, those Vostroyans are cool. Have never seen them before. Remember to post some pictures when you get them and start converting.
Great idea! Cant wait ^^
Since everyone's been wondering what the Vostroyan models actually look like, here are some links, and what they count as in my army:
Riflemen w/ volleyrifle (Handgunners w/ repeating handgun): Obviously I'll be converting the heavy bolter, removing the model with the flamer, and drilling out all of the "lenses" on the ends of the barrels.
Gotrek/Morrison Mortar: mortar: I'll need to find an extra crewman somewhere, but this will be my mortar, without any converting.
Sergeant Telwyck/Sniper (possibly also use as Huntsmen) again, pretty standard. Just cutting away the lenses at the ends of the barrels.
The rest of the army will just be standard WHFB Empire models, possibly with minor conversions, but I really don't see Pistoliers or Outriders wearing the tall hlems. I was thinking of using Forgeworld Death-korps of Krieg horses, which have leather gasmasks over their heads, but the cost would be astronomical. I think I'll just stick with the vostroyan riflemen. Besides, they are the only core choice in the army, so they won't look different from any of my other infantry.
Ha, I've just come across this piece - the fluff wars have been piling up over it! I like it - and engineers army sounds like quite an interesting idea, and those Vostroyan models are indeed pretty cool so I can imagine the army looking very nice when it's all done.
Good luck with the project!