History of the Imperial Guard Regiments
VALHALLA – The Ice World
The planet of Valhalla was once a temperate paradise of forests and broad fertile plains. There is no record of its settlement, but legends recall a world ripe for colonisation and development. Its people spread across the world and prospered. The planet’s main land masses were distributed more or less evenly, one centred at the northern pole and the other at the south. The equatorial regions themselves were dominated by a huge warm ocean eleven thousand miles wide.
Approximately ten thousand years ago Valhalla was struck by a comet of immense size and weight. The planet’s defense lasers poured shot after shot into the comet. This did nothing more than break off several smaller fragments of what proved to be virtually solid iron. A mile wide fragment struck the northern continent causing massive earthquakes and destruction, but the main comet body landed in the sea.
At first the confusion and devastation made it hard to gauge the full effect of the strike. The boiling seas, clouds of vapour and pall of dust cut off the light. Temperatures plunged to freezing over the whole planet. Even more significantly, the impact had knocked the whole world from its orbit. For ten years Valhalla spun eccentrically until it finally settled some fifteen million miles further from its sun. By then the planet was a very different place indeed.
Valhalla had become a frozen world of ice. The survivors of the disaster found themselves pushed further and further towards the equatorial oceans as glaciers engulfed the polar continents. Eventually, there was no more land left, and they were forced to live upon the ice itself. Though 99% of all life had been destroyed the people struggled through, building their cities deep inside the ice, beneath the glaciers and upon the frozen ocean. What little life remained they carefully cultivated, growing nutrient shines and algaes in vats heated by thermal stills.
Fate had dealt the world a cruel blow but had not finished with Valhalla. Just as the threat of starvation seemed to be receding, another and equally dangerous foe appeared. Orks came in their thousands, their damaged spacefleet blown upon the winds of the warp to the ice world. Finding little to sustain even their undemanding appetites, the Orks launched themselves upon the Vaihallans with a ferocity sharpened by hunger. It was a fight for survival. The Orks were marooned and the only food on the whole planet lay inside the cities of the Valhallans – the precious organic cultures and the inhabitants themselves!
A DESPERATE STRUGGLE
The fighting raged throughout the sub-glacial cities of the Vaihallans. The thermal stills which rose above the ice were easy targets for the Orks, but the green-skinned creatures ignored them and battered their way through the thick plasteel shutters that protected the access tunnels to the ice cities. Yelling their foul war cries, the Orks charged downwards instead, right into the heart of the cities. The fighting raged through the galleries and tunnels of Valhalla. The defenders knew every inch of their frozen domain, every gallery and shaft, and they made good use of their familiarity in each encounter. As the Orks fought their way inwards they found themselves constantly ambushed, or led unwittingly into dead ends where tunnels would be collapsed behind them.
By the sixth week of fighting the Orks reached the main food chamber with its hundreds of nutrient slime vats. Almost half the Orks had been killed, but the remainder were every bit as determined as ever. The scent of the bubbling green slime assailed their keen nostrils and they licked their scaly lips in anticipation. The Valhallans prepared to put up a final resistance. If the chamber was captured they would starve within a week. Every man, woman and child that could carry a gun crowded into the chamber and its surrounding galleries. The battle would decide which race would survive on Valhalla.
THE FINAL BATTLE
The Orks attacked in a great mass. The green-skinned warriors were maddened with hunger and no longer seemed capable of rational thought. If the attack had been better planned it might have succeeded, but as it was the Orks were repelled, though at great cost. Almost half the defenders were slain or hurt. The Orks retreated and prepared for another rush.
The second Ork attack came in two simultaneous thrusts. The first was repelled easily but this proved to be nothing more than a feint. The second was directed against a small side- chamber, part of the nutrient packaging plant that adjoined the main production vats. The packaging plant eventually fell to the Orks, its defenders dead at their posts after exacting a heavy toll amongst the enemy.
From their newly won position the Orks rapidly moved reinforcements forwards. The humans found themselves in a crossfire, and were soon forced to give ground in the main chamber itself. The Orks were amongst the huge vats. These were pits hewn into the ground and filled with the sticky green algal slime. The raised sides of the pits provided cover for attacker and defender alike. The fighting intensified as the Orks struggled forward, pit by pit, and the humans gradually retreated or fell at their places.
After three hours the Orks had lost half their number but had forced the Valhallans back against the ice wall. The defenders’ prospects looked grim as they prepared for a fresh assault, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible. As the Orks rose and howled their battle cry, a mighty explosion tore through the cavern. Ice pillars toppled and fell into the nutrient pools, and the floor heaved and broke under the Orks’ feet. The Valhallans rose in their turn and with an almighty scream fell upon their attackers. The Orks broke in confusion as fiery machines smashed through the floor, and the broken cavern floor swam in a mixture of slime and green ichor.
The Valhallans had won the day because their stiff resistance gave their engineers time to bore an ice shaft under the cavern floor. At the vital moment the old ice burners, industrial machines used to form the sub-glacial chambers themselves, had been allowed to burst through and run amok amongst the Orks. The intensely hot burners, carried by their own high pressure steam, had terrified the Orks. Those who did not run were badly burned or melted, and those who escaped were cut down by the vengeful Valhallans.
Though the planet of Valhalla is no longer a populous or affluent world, the Valhallans are famous throughout the galaxy. After destroying the Orks on their own world, regiments of Valhallans joined with other Imperial Guard to rid many worlds of the Ork invaders. Always the Valhallans fight with the same grim determination they displayed in the ice cities of their home world. In battle their courage and tenacity earn them the respect of other regiments from all over the Imperium.
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