The Imperial Naval and Konor Expeditionary Force (IN&KEF) began forming following a request by the Praetorian government at the launch of the Plague Wars in Konor. The objectives of the force were the manufactorum stations at Astaramis in the Konor system. The force was assembled under the guidance of Praetorian Colonel Command, and was separate from the main Ultramarine and Imperial Forces forming under Roboute Guilliman. The IN&KEF comprised one battalion of Cadian infantry of 1,000 men enlisted in Cadia's surviving "Steel Host", plus 500 Praetorian naval reservists and ex-sailors who would serve as infantry. The 1st Battalion, IN&KEF was commanded by Colonel Kelly, while the naval reservists were formed into six companies under Commander Beresford. Also included were two mortar gun sections, a signals section and a medical detachment.
Vanitor is a harsh and windswept world that houses the Konor System’s astropathic relay. Without this key communications outpost, the system would be left completely isolated from the wider Imperium.
The Konorian Astropathic Relay, situated upon the wilderness world of Vanitor and guarded by a vast fortress basilica, once linked the Konor System’s Imperial defence force to the greater war effort across Ultramar. It was one of the first targets overwhelmed in the initial blitz of the Chaos invasion, for severing this line of communication left the Konor System shrouded in darkness and confusion. Despite a brave stand, the Munitorum forces responsible for maintaining and defending the facility were encircled and slaughtered. The relay’s astropathic choir were ritually bound and excruciated by Chaos Sorcerers, and the sheer agony of their torment – amplified by the unfortunate beings’ raw psychic power – became a shining beacon to the ravenous monstrosities of the warp.
This piercing psychic scream soon came to the attention of the Grey Knights, who had swiftly identified the growing conflict in Ultramar as a potential lodestone that would draw entities from the roiling depths of the immaterium into realspace. The grim brotherhood of Daemon-hunters knew that to allow this beacon to continue to broadcast its vile signal would ultimately invite the horror of a sector-wide daemonic incursion. Gathering allies to their side, the Grey Knights assembled several strike forces and fell upon the corrupted defenders of Vanitor with merciless brutality, hacking apart Chaos-spawned horrors and their wretched masters. Yet even the Grey Knights could not accurately grasp the nightmare that was spreading across this windswept wilderness world.
Upon the great plains, vast warp breaches vomit the rancid deluge of the empyrean into reality. Amidst the soaring Tremantaen Mountains, Heretic Astartes and their foul minions have dug in like ticks, creating a circle of rockcrete redoubts around the relay, which rests atop the highest peak. Blizzards of frozen blood and transmutative hurricanes whip through these mountain passes, birthing new flyblown horrors or flaying the flesh from those foolish enough to brave the open air. At the Konorian Relay itself, Chaos forces defend their tortured wards with savage determination, unleashing blistering cascades of gunfire and artillery upon those who look to breach the basilica walls. If the Imperials cannot break through this formidable barrier, the agony of the tortured astropaths will only flare brighter, drowning Vanitor in the surging tides of the warp. Surely the damnation of the entire Konor System will swiftly follow.
The breadbasket of Konor, Nethamus’ vast crop oceans and synth-silo complexes feed countless trillions of loyal souls across the system.
Having brought the horror of total war to both the Konor System’s manufacturing capital and its central source of recruits, the Chaos invasion fleet next seeks to deny the Imperial defenders sustenance. By corrupting the breadbasket of Nethamus – a massive, temperate agri world whose enormous crop oceans stretch for thousands upon thousands of miles – the forces of Chaos will starve their prey. Without Nethamus’ vital food supplies, the enormous military engine of the Astra Militarum will grind to a halt. Even more deviously, the Death Guard and their allies can begin the process of distributing tainted produce throughout Ultramar. Once consumed, this plague-ridden foodstuff creates an unending hunger that would tempt millions of mortal souls toward embracing the bountiful gifts of Nurgle.
Yet the Imperium, by now all too aware of the doom approaching Nethamus, has prepared a doomsday response. Soldiers and agri-workers have loaded crop reserves upon vast factory-crawlers, as well as synthesizer silos capable of producing enough food to sustain the ongoing defence of the Konor System. Orbiting Imperial battleships rain magmatic bombs across the planet, incinerating vast swathes of land. As the first Death Guard troops make planetfall, they unleash their virulent contagions into the atmosphere. The spreading blight is met all on sides by colossal walls of swirling flame, or vast stretches of barren wasteland, where clouds of ash mix with daemonic spores to create a putrid toxic rain.
The corruption of Nethamus has been stalled, but if the Imperial defenders cannot hold the attackers at bay, it will be for naught. The Chaos forces’ armoured formations have launched assault after assault upon the mobile factory-crawlers. Thus far, the bravery of the Astra Militarum and Adeptus Astartes tank crews has held them at bay, but many isolated crawlers have been surrounded and blasted apart, or boarded by vengeful Chaos warriors, the agri-workers inside butchered and their precious cargo despoiled. Should the Imperial forces continue to lose their factory-crawlers at such a rate, famine will spread across Konor and the surrounding region in a matter of weeks.
After days of bloody fighting, the Imperium has regained control of the forge world of Konor. Even now, its sprawling manufactorum districts pump out fresh munitions and weapons for the war effort.
Their armies reinforced by fresh conscripts and supplies after the victory at Astaramis, the system’s defenders entered the raging battle for the forge world of Konor with eager fury. They found themselves battling through a nightmarish hellscape of industrial devastation, a maze of shattered manufactorums and debris-strewn labour-halls where they were as likely to be sliced into pieces by malfunctioning machinery as they were to be slain by one of the roving bands of Chaos marauders that haunted the ash-choked streets.
Worse still, hordes of opportunistic Orks had descended upon the stricken forge world, seeking to strip as much scrap metal and fuel as possible from Konor’s vast reserves. These violent looters were equally dangerous to the forces of the Imperium and the Chaos invaders, as they rampaged across Konor in their smoke-spewing war machines, hacking and bludgeoning to death any unfortunate enough to cross their path.
Nevertheless, the soldiers of the Imperium went about their task with grim courage, pushing through the ravaged districts towards vital strategic targets. In a bloody and attritional grind, elite units of Adeptus Astartes warriors forced back their hated foes, the Traitor Marines. Terminator and Aggressor armour clashed and sparked under ceaseless volleys of bolter fire, and Dreadnoughts and monstrous Daemon Engines rumbled through the carnage, crushing and blasting the life from their foes. Many heroes fell in this crucible of slaughter. Yet, with freshly bolstered detachments of well-armed Astra Militarum veterans at their side, the loyalist counter-assault overwhelmed the embattled Chaos forces.
Though victory came at a heavy cost, Imperial control of Konor was secured, and a sizeable percentage of its precious production capability remained operational. Within hours of the battle’s end, the forge world’s recaptured manufactorums and assembly halls were sanctified with machine blessings and reactivated, and began to churn out vital equipment and machinery for the escalating war effort.
The forge world of Konor is a vital cog in the war machine of Ultramar, its sprawling manufactorum districts pumping out a ceaseless stream of weapons, ammunition and battle tanks.
Konor is the manufacturing and fuel-producing capital of its eponymous system, and thus this forge world is a vital target for both Imperial and Chaos forces. The Death Guard and their allies have assembled a vast invasion force for the conquest of the planet, including detachments of xenos mercenaries and millions-strong hordes of fanatical cultists.
Manpower will be vital in the attritional conflict to come. The Chaos assault on Konor opened several days ago with an apocalyptic orbital bombardment, plague-ridden space hulks and Despoiler-class warships ravaging the holdings and armies of the Adeptus Mechanicus with waves of inferno missiles and toxin cascades, churning the planet’s atmosphere into a hellish cocktail of flesh-melting viruses and choking smoke. Almost half of Konor’s industrial capability has already been utterly demolished, and the invaders are landing an increasing tide of troops planetside. The prodigious level of destruction has been judged appropriate by the Heretic Astartes commanders responsible for prosecuting the slaughter, for even with so many manufactorum districts shattered, Konor is still capable of pumping out colossal quantities of battle tanks and munitions. With the billions of slaves claimed by the invasion fleet put to work in the manufactorums, the forge world would produce even more still should it fall under Chaos control.
The Imperium of Mankind’s war effort in the Konor System, and indeed the wider conflict raging across Ultramar, will be severely derailed if Konor is lost to Chaos. Thus, Imperial high command has authorised the dispatching of several armies to relieve the besieged defenders. Archmagos Gother Zymus and his Skitarii legions yet retain control of Forge Temple Cladis and its surrounding domain, and are aided in their stubborn defence by Imperial Knights of House Raven. Yet outside their rapidly receding kill-quadrants and excoriation zones, the enemy presses ever closer, with heavily armoured assault troops and Daemon Engines grinding their way through the shattered innards of manufactorums and hab-arcologies. In this hellish no man’s land, squads of dead-eyed killers stalk the choking sprawl for fresh prey, looking to secure key objectives such as vox relays, promethium refineries and precious intact generatorums.
Astaramis stands. The forces of Chaos brought terror and death to this gleaming hive world, but the Imperial Aquila yet flies from its tallest spires.
The forces of Chaos fell upon Astaramis like slavering wolves, bringing ruin and terror to this once proud monument of Ultramar’s glory. Yet, as the smoke cleared and the echo of gunfire ceased, the hive world remained standing, battered but unbroken. Despite suffering horrific casualties during the early stages of the Chaos onslaught, the armies of the Imperium dug in with rugged determination, hurling back each fresh assault with blistering cascades of las and bolter fire, turning to knives, makeshift weapons and fists when the slaughter boiled over into hand-to-hand combat.
Try as they might, the Chaos invaders could not break the defenders’ spirits, nor scour them from their fortifications. Their rage and frustration was only exacerbated by a series of lightning attacks by the Aeldari of the craftworlds, who emerged from the hidden labyrinth of the webway to slice into the rear of the Chaos formations. There was no formal alliance between the Imperium and these deadly raiders, but the Aeldari ever follow their own mysterious whims. Fusillades of shuriken fire and pinpoint lances of searing energy tore through the unsuspecting ranks of the invaders, and even as they regrouped and reformed, the xenos disappeared from whence they came, leaving nothing but the smoking bodies of their victims behind.
This flanking assault badly stalled the Chaos advance, buying precious time for Primaris Space Marine reinforcements to arrive on Astaramis. Unable to force a breakthrough at the vital Praxima Skyport, the massed heretical legions could only watch with furious hatred as fresh regiments of grim-faced warriors and columns of heavy armour made planetfall, rushing to shore up gaps in the Imperial line wherever they emerged. Inch by bloody inch, the Chaos invasion force was pushed back to the outer hab-zones of the hive cities, and the flag of Ultramar was raised proudly upon the highest spire of Saviour’s Landing – a symbol of defiance and Imperial might that girded the heart of every loyalist warrior.
In the wake of this vital victory, Imperial High Command immediately ramped up the production of munitions on Astaramis, and issued a decree requiring every human of fighting age to take up arms in the defence of Ultramar. Such a vast resource of manpower will be vital in the battles to come, for the war in the Konor System is far from over…
Ultramar burns. The putrid warbands of the Death Guard, led by the Daemon Primarch Mortarion, have launched a furious assault upon the Ultramarines’ stellar empire. This eruption of all-out war threatens to drown the stars themselves in bloodshed and terror. Legions of Heretic Astartes and Chaos-spawned monstrosities have already rampaged across world after world, spreading the malignant corruption of the Dark Gods in their wake. Yet all hope is not lost. The return of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman has stalled the seemingly unstoppable momentum of the Chaos advance. In a series of bloody battles, the armies of the Imperium – reinforced with mighty Primaris Space Marines – have reclaimed many worlds thought lost, forcing their hated foes to retreat and regroup.
Now the worshippers of Chaos seek to regain their advantage by smashing a path through the Imperial battle line to Macragge, home world of the Ultramarines. Should they succeed, the greatest Imperial stronghold in the sector will be gravely threatened, and Guilliman’s forces will be cut-off and surrounded. To achieve this end, the forces of Chaos must conquer the well-located Konor System. Powered by the industrial might of the forge world of Konor, this centre of produce and production feeds the Imperial war machine with vital shipments of munitions and machinery. Populous and prosperous, with a large and well-equipped defence force, the Konor System embodies the glorious dream of Ultramar. Crucially, it also guards one of the few stable warp transit routes to the Macragge System. If the Chaos advance is not halted, Konor will soon fall, and a path to the heartland of Ultramar will be laid bare.
Yet the warriors of the Adeptus Astartes will not cede their rightful domain without a fight. The Ultramarines stand against the Chaos onslaught with nobility and courage, smiting the foe with bolter and blade. And they are not alone. The military sledgehammer of the Astra Militarum rumbles into action, an armoured fist of devastating tank columns and endless regiments of soldiers that grinds all before it into ashes and dust. Scattered Space Marine Chapters rush fresh reinforcements to the war zone, seeking to aid their embattled kin. Enigmatic Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus send forth their legions of steel, and mighty Imperial Knights bestride the slaughter like ancient gods of war.
Every single warrior – every bolter round and bomb – will be vital, for the Chaos host sweeping across the Konor System is vast beyond imagining. Warriors of the Death Guard march implacably forward, enemy fire spattering harmlessly from their rusted power armour and pallid twisted flesh. In return they unleash bombardments of noxious toxins and flesh-melting plagues. Daemonic legions surge alongside the Chaos advance, exulting in the chance to wreak torment across the material realm. Warbands of Heretic Astartes, millions upon millions of depraved mortal cultists, and a thousand other horrors converge upon Konor, drawn to its aura of agony and death like sharks to blood.
Circling this firestorm of destruction are predatory xenos races, ever seeking to further their own mysterious ends. Orks surge into the war in their millions, delighting in the spreading carnage. Craftworld Aeldari and Drukhari circle from afar, offering their services as mercenaries or launching raids to fulfill some unknowable agenda. Tyranid and T’au forces spill in from the Eastern Fringe, capitalising on or drawn by the escalating conflict, while even the Necrons send invasion forces to exploit the infighting of the younger races and expand their ancient empires.
No part of the Konor System will be left unscarred by the coming war. If the Heretic Astartes’ plans come to fruition, the system’s own worlds will be weaponised and turned against Ultramar. The forces of Chaos will force open a route to Macragge, and this shining light of the Imperium will face obliteration.
The newly formed Scythes of the Emperor Task Force. Shipmaster Aeryton Augustus, Chapter Officer Brother-Sergeant Xaver, 5th Company.
Praetorian Command meets with members of the Scythes of the Emperor for a request in support.
THE QUINTUS GATE
(North America) This towering fortified gateway leads to the inner towers of Hive Hallentia, the largest city on Astaramis and the only haven to remain unbreached by Chaos forces. Ahead of the gate runs the central thoroughfare, the arterial route into the city. This broad avenue is choked by the rusted carcasses of wrecked battle tanks and war engines, smouldering alongside the blasted ruins of civilian convoys that were overrun before they could reach the safety of the Quintus Gate. Within this maze of shattered smoking metal and charred corpses, vicious and prolonged fighting rages. If the gate falls, Chaos forces will spill into Hallentia unopposed, and the streets will run red with the blood of loyal Imperial citizens.
(EU) This sprawling temple district was built upon the hallowed soil where the blessed Roboute Guilliman first made landfall on Astaramis during the Great Crusade. Saviour’s Landing was once a maze of white marble walkways, golden shrines and pristine galleries of wondrous statuary depicting the sainted Primarch's many legendary triumphs. Now it is almost unrecognisable, ravaged by the fires of war. Contesting armies fight a multi-level running battle amidst the wreckage of its former grandeur, battling hall by hall, stairway by soaring stairway for the right to control or despoil this potent symbol of Imperial faith.
(UK & Rest of World) When Chaos forces first launched their assault upon Astaramis, they destroyed all but one of the planet’s major transit hubs in a series of orbital strikes. Only the enormous Praxima Skyport still stands, protected by a bristling array of Icarus lascannons and a formidable void shield. Under intense bombardment by traitor artillery, this vital strategic location has been defended with desperate bravery by an outnumbered force of Ultramarines and planetary auxilia. The walls of the rugged octagonal redoubt have been breached many times, and torrents of blood have been spilled within its cavernous docking halls and cramped utility tunnels. If Praxima falls, Chaos will have denied the Imperial forces a vital staging post, and severely hampered their ability to land fresh reinforcements on the planet.
"Little Thieves! Thieves and vagabonds, the lot of them. They’re petty-minded, larcenous little subhuman scum to the last. Everyone overlooks it because they can shoot straight and can cook a decent meal. You can’t trust them... any of them. They’ll steal your chrono if you shake hands with them, and as likely to pick your pocket as praise the Emperor’s name..."
— Anonymous Imperial Guardsman
The regiment's history dates backs to shortly after the Massacre at Big Toof River. In 987.M41 the Praetorian Army of the Imperium expanded to meet the commitments of the war with the Orc invasions in the Montar VII, Montar System, Segmentum Tempestus. As part of that expansion it raised two new Abhuman regiments of foot, the 83rd and the 86th. In 987.M41, under the Childers Reforms, the 83rd and 86th were amalgamated into a single regiment, named the Praetorian Ulster Rifles, one of eight infantry regiments raised and garrisoned on Preatoria. It was the county regiment of New Antrim, under the War Office in Segmentum Tempestus Naval Base at Bakka.
Colours of the Praetorian Ulster Rifles
The Imperial world known as Ornsworld, also referred to as Orn's World, is the primary Ratling homworld located in the Segmentum Obscurus. Ratlings are the smallest type of Abhuman known to the Imperium, their ancestors having become stunted by thousands of years of inbreeding on worlds with climates and environments even more conducive to human life than ancient Terra and abundant harvests. Ratlings are short and squat, although not strong when compared to normal, baseline humans. They are idle, hedonistic, gregarious, over-friendly and sexually promiscuous. Their lives are spent eating until sick, drinking copious amounts of intoxicating beverages, and procreating uncontrollably, almost like Abhuman rabbits. These small, loud, hungry and lecherous creatures are called Runtlings, Stunties, Halflings and Ratlings by other humans, among other, less printable things.
Ratlings serve in the Imperial Guard as snipers and scouts, and off the battlefield as cooks, a skill they no doubt learned in order to feed their own ample stomachs. Ratlings also tend towards kleptomania, as Commissars report petty theft and illegal gambling rings increase substantially when Ratlings are attached to an Imperial Guard platoon or regiment. Ratlings have also been known to supply non-standard weaponry to Guardsmen willing to pay a premium.
Roles of the Ratlings
The majority of humanity knows little to nothing of Ratling culture, the common citizen often raised with an unshakable belief in the purity of the sacred human form and having never ventured off of their birth world. This tends to hold true within the Imperial Guard as well, and those Guardsmen who are familiar with these diminutive humanoids generally only concern themselves with popular rumours and derisive legend. Yet to some Ratlings, the ties of culture, history, and shared ancestry with their human allies are indispensable. Occasionally, a Ratling with a particular mind for leadership and a protective eye towards his fellow Ratlings will take it upon himself to act as a mouthpiece for his squad when interacting with their comrades in the Imperial Guard. Of course, such Ratlings are still Ratlings and their usual method of protection and advocacy is rather unfamiliar to most of their non-abhuman comrades. Using a combination of charm, guile, and sheer false-bravado, this sort of Ratling makes certain that the well-being of those he considers his charges is ensured, regulations and chain of command be damned. While this can mean a great deal of trouble for a supply officer unfortunate enough to stand between a Fixer and the materiel he intends to provide for his men, such actions earn the Ratling the undying devotion of his comrades. In time, as a squad of Ratlings becomes ever-more integrated within the regiment to which they are attached, the Fixer may broaden his notion of who falls under his protection, even going so far as to take human guardsmen under his personal purview. By this time, such a Ratling will likely earn himself a great deal of influence within the regiment.
In order to fulfil these self-appointed duties, the Ratling must possess exemplary abilities when it comes to social situations, often employing a profound understanding of social tactics and diplomacy, as well as a perceptive mind and a keen intuition. Many possess a shrewd eye resulting from countless interactions and negotiations with other units, and such individuals are often behind the machinations of a Ratling unit's various smuggling and/or illicit gambling activities. Outwardly gregarious and jovial, they often play things close to the vest -- or under it -- and rarely make their true feelings known even to their closest companions. It's not that they don't trust the other members of their unit, instead they believe such honesty is bad for business. The less their companions know, the less they may have to deny later. Many are also exceptional judges of character, their numerous experiences of bending the truth giving them exceptional insight when it comes to reading people or spotting deception. The shrewd and calculating mind of this sort of Ratling is often well suited for battlefield command, where quick decisions and snap judgments can mean the difference between life and death. Further, their knowledge of their mates and easy familiarity with their habits and abilities often allows him to choose the right comrade for any job and to know when to push his men and when to exercise caution. His self-appointed role as protector also serves his squad well in battle, ensuring that a Fixer will never needlessly put any member of his unit into harms way if he can help it. These Ratlings even take it upon themselves to personally brave enemy fire in order to rescue comrades from certain death at the hands of their foes, and many a foe has felt the bite of a Fixer's blade while attempting to kill one of his companions.
During an engagement these Ratlings often seem to be everywhere at once, lending encouragement and support to those who need it and braving enemy fire to embolden his men in the face of the enemy. Many are gifted tacticians, deploying both guile and cunning against their foes in the form of timely feints and flourishes disguised and executed with an ease that often belies their complexity. Others may be highly skilled combatants in their own right, having survived countless battles alongside their comrades. These soldiers put their skills to good use ensuring the safety of those around them while making the enemy pay a heavy toll in blood for every attempted advance. Yet some such Ratlings are not nearly so dramatic in their role and are often indistinguishable from their comrades except for the profoundly weary look in their eyes and the kindly words on their lips. These Ratlings serve as a type of moral compass for their units, and often look after their comrades with an almost paternalistic air. With wise words, witty anecdotes, and the ability to remember every name, detail, and exploit of their past and current squad mates, such individuals garner great respect from their comrades and are considered the heart and soul of their unit.
he numerous Ratlings that fight within the inexhaustible legions of the Imperial Guard are recruited first and foremost for their capabilities as marksmen, each able to their routinely hit their targets with natural ease. Due to these abilities, such units are frequently deployed alongside the regiments of the Spinward Front; and many superior officers choose to tolerate their overly gregarious ways and seeming disregard for protocol in exchange for such valuable skills. Yet whether or not they are willing to admit it, every soldier who serves beside these diminutive abhumans is grateful for the sharp retorts of their long rifles echoing across the battlefield. However, even among squads widely renowned for their exceptional accuracy, there are certain prominent individuals who demonstrate such a high degree of precision and skill that they easily surpass the other members of their unit. The accomplishments of these incredible marksmen are truly a marvel as they consistently make seemingly impossible shots despite every obstacle and battlefield condition imaginable. As a result of these prodigious skills, as well as the knack these Ratlings display for hitting their target no matter the odds, many soldiers often jokingly nickname such individuals "Longshooters."
No matter the size of their target, no matter the distance or degree of difficulty, these Ratlings rarely miss their mark. In fact, the improbably high degree to which they succeed at even the most difficult of shots often leads their comrades to view such accomplishments as supernatural in nature or as indisputable evidence of the Emperor's divine intervention. For others, these tales of astonishing marksmanship often serve as inspirational anecdotes and rousing legends as they circulate around campfires and billets. Longshooters are often acutely aware of the effect of their actions on the morale of the common soldier. Some make it a habit to describe particularly difficult shots or feats on the eve of battle, openly vowing to hit their mark by the conclusion of the engagement. Such individuals often succeed in their boasts, delaying their shot until the target is plainly visible in order that their comrades may fully witness the fulfilment of their oath. Others scan the battlefield for challenging shots and particularly troublesome adversaries during combat, openly aiding their allies by eliminating dangerous foes in suitably dramatic fashion.
Longshooters are a highly superstitious lot, rigidly adhering to set patterns of action or carrying charms and other lucky items to aid them in their missions. Others instead believe their abilities are a gift from the Emperor or the work of their gun's Machine Spirit, dutifully reciting the litanies of accuracy or devotion prescribed by their particular beliefs. To many, however, their abilities are the result of a combination of skill, preparation, and training; a belief that causes them to obsessively calibrate and recalibrate their weapon throughout countless hours of practice. Regardless, most Longshooters are extremely proud of their abilities, rarely backing down from a challenge and doggedly pursuing their quarry until either victory or death. The Sniper Rifles of these marksmen are reflections of their owners, and many bear surprising examples of artwork and customisation including trophies from particularly noteworthy targets, kill-markings, intricately inscribed litanies or filigree, and other mementos of a lifetime of warfare. The most common customisations by far pertain to the stock, trigger assembly, and optics of the weapon. Such alterations may range from custom-carved stocks, to salvaged or refurbished parts from former weapons or rare or variant models, to handcrafted innovations that fly in the face of standard regulations. Such parts are usually pilfered from Munitorum depots or won from other soldier's kits, particularly those of uniquely or well-equipped regiments who often sport one-of-a-kind gear.
Though generally outgoing and good-humoured, some Longshooters tend to be more reserved than their fellow abhumans, quietly observing with the patience of a true marksman as they take note of their surroundings and wait for the right moment to speak. Most are rarely hasty in words and often speak only when necessary, preferring to let their more talkative brethren speak for them when possible. Though they may choose to mix freely with their fellows, more often than not a Longshooter will remain slightly apart from his colleagues, their solitary contemplations often the direct result of numerous missions far removed from the company of camp. Of course, when not interacting with other members of their regiment or filling their stomachs, most can be found devotedly altering and maintaining their prized weapons in preparation for the next mission.
All Ratlings have a natural talent for stealth and infiltration, using their diminutive stature to their advantage in order to make their way undetected past enemy lines and sentries. These skills serve them well in their roles as snipers and sharpshooters, allowing them to select the optimum firing positions from which to complete their mission or eliminate their target. Yet there are times when achieving the optimum firing position or engaging the enemy is a rather complicated affair, requiring days of trekking through unknown wilderness, deadly terrain, or the numerous hazards of no man's land. In such situations many units rely on the abilities of Trailblazers, highly skilled individuals who are particularly adept at path finding and scouting. They excel at navigating through even the most difficult and dangerous environments, calling upon their formidable abilities acquired through past experience, extensive training, or pure natural ability. Such specialists are also renowned for their stealth and remarkably keen sense of direction, allowing them to expose hidden paths and uncover trails leading directly into the heart of the enemy's defences.
When the call comes for a unit to move out into the brush or advance upon the enemy, the trailblazer is the Ratling relied upon to get them there. They are completely at home in the wilderness, effortlessly ghosting between trees and rocks and easily slipping undetected through whatever obstacles they may come across. Many are even able to vanish from the eyes of their own comrades, doubling back to relay information or chastise a careless guardsman in his lax adherence to stealth protocols. While their physical stature is certainly a boon to their skills, enabling them to hide in crevices and foliage normally considered too small to conceal a soldier, many must also rely on their equipment and extensive combat experience to remain undetected. Each is highly trained and proficient with many of the tools of covert warfare, readily employing Camouflage-cloaks, vox-links, combat webbing, noise suppressors, and anything else that may lend them a silent edge in combat.
Yet wars cannot be fought by stealth alone, and all Trailblazers eventually find themselves trading shots with their opponents. In such situations the Trailblazer's stealth provides yet another advantage as he continuously evades and outmanoeuvres his bewildered opponents, often engaging them from multiple angles in order to keep his enemies off balance and retain his advantage. Some prefer instead to employ various traps and snares to catch their foes off guard, waiting until the enemy formation is in disarray before striking. Many even direct their squad mates and companions in flanking manoeuvres and feints, tricking their adversaries into chasing phantoms and decoys only to walk into ambushes and deadly crossfires.
In camp, these diminutive specialists are often able to pass unseen between tents, around billets, and between supply crates, evading lookouts and disciplinary crackdowns with ease. Their skill at remaining unseen and avoiding detection often serves them well in the many illicit dealings and smuggling rings most Ratlings become engaged in, and many reap substantial rewards and tidy profits from such illegal activities. Those prizes that they do not sell are often utilised in the field, allowing the Trailblazer to pass his time outside of camp in relative comfort or to more easily dispatch his foes. However, such tendencies often make them frequent targets of surprise kit inspections by disciplinary officers, pat downs by security patrols, or interrogation whenever valuable and difficult to replace items of kit mysteriously disappear. Such constant scrutiny often serves to sharpen a Trailblazer's skills, honing their talents and teaching them to always remain on guard.
Waves of bombers and fighter planes poured over the island in support of Tau advancing forces. The the skies erupted with burst cannon, missile pod and pulse bomb attacks that fell on Tulagik Major that day. For two and a half hours, the bombs rained down on the southern end of the island from Tau coalition aircraft -- "with a brutality that had never been seen before," as the commander of one Imperial Dragoon unit said three days later. "They scorched the island and fired burst cannons at the anyone who fled in panic, resulting in numerous deaths."