"I'm Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka an' I speak wiv da word of da godz. I'm da prophet of da WAAAGH! an' whole worlds burn in my boot prints."
- — Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka
Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka (usually shortened to Ghazghkull Thraka) is an Ork Warlord of the Goff klan and a mighty prophet of the WAAAGH!. He is the single most influential Ork in the galaxy in the late 41st Millennium, and billions of greenskins march to war in his name.
Since Ghazghkull's rise to power, he has led countless campaigns of destruction. He has crushed Aeldari war hosts, banished tides of daemons, and smashed phalanxes of Necrons to so much sparking scrap.
Yet his greatest battles have always been fought against the servants of the Emperor of Mankind. Ghazghkull's sheer, unstoppable brutality has left countless worlds of the Imperium blazing in his wake and reduced the mighty Hive World of Armageddon, during the Second and Third War for Armageddon, to a never-ending cauldron of bloody battle.
Yet Ghazghkull is not satisfied. Gork and Mork have greater plans for their prophet, plans they see fit to deliver amid agonising visions of a galaxy ablaze with green fire. At their behest, Ghazghkull is beginning his greatest work.
He will travel the galaxy, subjugating every Warlord and gathering every Ork to his banner until the stars themselves shudder to the thundering footfalls of his horde. Ghazghkull is gathering the Great WAAAGH! of Gork and Mork themselves, a WAAAGH! that will drown the galaxy in a war so great that the gods themselves will tear their way out of the Warp to join the fight.
In the 41st Millennium, and throughout all history, the brutal Orks have often been underestimated by the other powerful starfaring species in the galaxy. While all have learned to fear the destructive might of the greenskins' migratory crusades, these are seen as temporary events.
They sweep across a few star systems before stalling, their tide of advance ebbing and ultimately receding so that they become little more than a footnote in the history of some other race.
However, the WAAAGH! led by Ghazghkull Thraka is different, for this Warboss is the most dangerous Ork alive. His mighty green crusade is no mere planet crusher, but an invasion that will shake the foundations of the galaxy in a war for total domination.
As a species, Orks are not bound by history -- they neither revere the past, nor record it in any manner. Greenskins are creatures that live in, and for, the here and now. What makes the Ork whose full name is Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka so dangerous, is that he has vision -- not just for the present, but for the past, and most importantly, for the future.
After all, he is no mere Ork, but rather the living prophet of the Ork gods Gork and Mork. Ghazghkull is their mighty instrument of destruction made manifest.
At the close of the 41st Millennium, the name of Ghazghkull is spoken in fearful whispers in many alien languages, a name synonymous with dread across the galaxy. It was not always so -- the greatest Ork Warlord in history began his climb to infamy as just another Ork warrior slogging it out on a backwater world.
At the very edge of Segmentum Solar lies a now-frozen orb that was once the sporadically populated Ork planet of Urk. Its history has been largely forgotten, buried beneath successive invasions, but it was first named Urokleas, after it was founded by an exploration fleet launched from Terra during the Dark Age of Technology.
It was part of the Zornian System, and the tides of the Warp flowed strongly to that point, making it an excellent hub. Humanity prospered on Urokleas, for it was a world rich in minerals, and within a few hundred Terran years the colonies had grown to thriving cities and busy spaceports.
It was, undoubtedly, the lights and activity that drew the Orks. They swept across Urokleas like wildfire. They razed it to the ground before disappearing aboard their great junk fleet, riding the Warp tides to seek other exploits. As is their way, though, the greenskins unwittingly left behind traces of their reproductive fungal spores, and one day they would rise again.
Due to the flow of the Warp, it was inevitable that space-faring races would again find the habitable Zornian System. Between barren periods, the world became an Aeldari outpost, the home of a cluster of Spinedorians, and a Hrud warren. At times, the long-dormant Ork spores would erupt, and swarms of greenskins would develop in some secretive corner of the planet.
It was not until the time of the Great Crusade that Mankind returned again in force. It was the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion who cleared the planet of its life forms and again planted the flag of Humanity upon it. Once more, the planet was dubbed Urokleas.
For over two thousand standard years, Humanity mined there, building hive cities and tethering spaceports to its twin moons. Minor xenos raids occurred, but it wasn't until near the middle of the 32nd Millennium that a great greenskin WAAAGH! swept the system in the days of the War of the Beast.
It was the largest recorded Ork attack upon the Imperium to that time, with dozens of invasions blazing across all five Segmentums. Soon the Zornian System fell into Ork hands. As Urokleas was overwhelmed by greenskins, the last survivors of that world boarded the vast star freighter Dominion and escaped into the suddenly shifting Warp.
The tides of the Warp had altered, making the Zornian System no longer easily accessible. Thus began a long period of stagnation for the Orks. For nearly eight thousand standard years Urokleas, renamed Urk, was a battleground for warring greenskin tribes.
At first they fought over the ruins of the Human hive cities, clashing over the best loot. These battles devolved, as did the piles of plunder they fought over. As the millennia ground on, the wars continued.
No leader proved large enough to gather more than a handful of the tribes or klanz beneath him, so an equilibrium of squalor became the way of life. Small Ork warbands fought each other for possession of an ever-dwindling pile of scrap iron and derelict machinery. It was into this bleak cycle of futile violence that Ghazghkull was born.
A Strange Path to Greatness
In a curious twist of fate, the Imperium of Mankind may have had an unsuspecting hand in creating the most formidable Ork of his era, and perhaps of all time. After many Terran years of fighting Orks and monitoring their presence in outlying systems, the Imperium had learned that, under the right conditions, even sporadic Ork populations could multiply with startling speed.
The rise of a strong Warlord could unite the feuding klanz, triggering a mass release of spores. Should this gathering grow large enough, it would act as a psychic beacon to Orks on nearby planets -- drawing them into a swarming migration that built with frightening intensity. In less than a Terran decade, Orks could go from being a minor nuisance to the world's dominant species.
The Imperium has found that if a rising WAAAGH! can be detected and countered early enough, the Orks can be broken and dispersed at little cost. Thus, in star systems known to be plagued with greenskins, various watchposts are deployed. In the Zornian System the Dark Angels had established a range of monitoring stations coordinated by a command sanctum in a barren mountainous region of Urk.
This hub routinely fed scans and other information back to the nearest Dark Angels vessels. In this way, the greenskin numbers were regularly checked and the Dark Angels could also keep track of the feral human populations of that star system -- for they were always searching for new recruiting planets from which they could draw battle-tested warriors. Ironically, it was this very monitoring station that set Ghazghkull on his journey to greatness.
The first mention of Ghazghkull came some nine Terran years before the Second War for Armageddon in 932.M41. The stripling warrior Ghazghkull was a trooper in a Goff klan warband that took part in a raid upon the Space Marines' command sanctum. Although it was hidden atop a remote mountain crag on Urk, it was not safe from the Orks. Always seeking a scrap, the greenskins discovered the hidden base and sought to dismantle it, triggering the base's auto-defence system.
During the initial rush to claim the base, Ghazghkull was hit in the head by a Bolter shell -- a shot that pulverised a large section of his cranium and turned a sizable portion of his brain to absolute mush. It was quite possible that the young and profusely bleeding Ghazghkull might have been left for dead then and there but for two circumstances.
Ghazghkull got back to his feet -- a sign of toughness and grit that any Goff respected. Also, it was widely known that a particularly addled Deathskulls Painboy was paying those who brought him fresh material to work with. The carrion birds did not feed on Ghazghkull that day, as his own mob guided him onwards. He was a stumbling wreck and had to hold his bleeding brains in with both hands, but they eventually reached the Deathskulls' outpost of Rustspike. There, his own mob traded Ghazghkull to Mad Dok Grotsnik for the sum total of three teef and a new Choppa.
The Great Green Visions
Ghazghkull came out of his haze immediately after Mad Dok Grotsnik performed his pivotal operation. That he awoke was a surprise to both parties, for Grotsnik had replaced part of the Goff warrior's skull and brain with bioniks, wires, and Squig sinew -- holding it all in place by riveting on adamantium plates. More amazement followed. Ghazghkull could see more clearly than he ever had before. This had little to do with his eyesight or new bionik eye -- which truthfully was always a bit out of focus. Rather, for the first time in his short life, Ghazghkull awoke with a brand new vision -- it was his destiny to rally all of Orkdom and to lead them on the greatest WAAAGH! of all time. It was now his belief that he was in direct contact with Gork and Mork, the Great Green Gods of the Orks, and Ghazghkull realised he had been chosen as the living embodiment of their divine wishes. They wanted him to lead the way towards the greatest battles in the galaxy.
The first to fall beneath Ghazghkull's ironshod heel was the Deathskulls Warlord, Dregmek. Ghazghkull had just emerged from Mad Dok Grotsnik's grimy tent and was still rubbing his shiny adamantium-plated pate when Dregmek approached. Striding down the street that ran between the corrugated shacks of the derelict Deathskulls outpost, Dregmek demanded to know what a Goff was doing within the boundaries of Rustspike. Behind Dregmek, his entourage of Nobz guffawed, anticipating a bit of sport. Undaunted by the massive cobbled-together Kombi-weapon that the Deathskulls Warlord was waving in his direction, Ghazghkull advanced, knobby fists clenched. Dregmek, expecting exactly such a move from a Goff, opened fire. Every barrel of his kustom weapon began to blaze -- the air was filled with flying projectiles and the flashing of half a dozen gun muzzles emitted blinding strobes of light.
Perhaps it was a sign from Gork (or possibly Mork), a stroke of divine intervention to save their prophet, as although explosions blossomed at his feet and bullets stitched patterns alongside him, Ghazghkull advanced untouched. The only sounds were the last of the spent shells clattering to the ground, the spinning whir of empty ammunition hoppers, a few desperate trigger clicks, the heavy tread of iron boots and finally a rusty squeak as Dregmek's iron jaw fell open. So savage was the pummelling that Ghazghkull delivered with his bare hands that Dregmek's Nobz cheered despite themselves. The headbutt, delivered from Ghazghkull's newly armoured skull, finished the job with a resounding clang. Straddling the pulped body of his foe, Ghazghkull announced that this was only the beginning. He bellowed to the gaping onlookers that he was the Prophet of Gork and Mork, and, furthermore, his bull-voice roared that if anyone was looking for some of the devastation he had just delivered to their former Warlord, then they could step up one at a time or rush altogether -- he cared not. After another hour of solid fighting -- a battle in which Ghazghkull did not himself take any more damage than a scratch -- he had taken over as rightful ruler of Rustspike. Though it was hard to see much with their bruised and battered faces, it seemed to his new followers that Ghazghkull grew larger before their eyes.
By crushing the tribes within reach of his new stronghold, Ghazghkull began to increase his horde. In addition to the Deathskulls that had followed Dregmek, there were now several Goff mobs beneath the young Warlord. As tales of Ghazghkull's deeds circulated through the scrapheap villages and makeshift fortresses of Urk, Orks began to leave their tribes and head to Rustspike, looking to be part of something bigger than their own dismal warbands, fighting over the same old scrap. They wished to go to war with this new Boss who claimed to talk to Gork and Mork, who asserted that one day they would find richer targets. Soon, Rustspike grew so overcrowded that it was impossible to spit and hit the ground, so Ghazghkull went west. It was on the cracked plains of Da Big Wasteland that Ghazghkull met his first setback. He had entered the territory of the Bad Moons, the richest and most envied of the local klanz. The Bad Moon leader was Warboss Snazzdakka, and none could match the mix of firepower and mobility that was his bright yellow Battlewagon brigade. When Snazzdakka saw Ghazghkull's hordes marching across his lands, he ordered his totem pole raised and the tents collapsed and, faster than a Runtherd could throttle a wayward Grot, the tribe was on the move. In the running skirmishes that followed, Snazzdakka and his Boyz were always able to lob a few shells into Ghazghkull's hordes before driving off out of range of retaliation.
Ghazghkull had already proven his superior brawling skills by overpowering, bludgeoning and working over all who dared challenge or defy him. Now, however, he was engaged in a battle of wits and tactics. Here too, the up-and-coming Warlord would display not just his superiority, but the kind of brutal showmanship that makes Orks punch their fists into the air and raise raucous cheers. Within days, Ghazghkull unleashed a number of countermeasures -- any one of which would have proved too much for the Bad Moons to overcome. He had his ladz sabotage the supply dumps where Snazzdakka refuelled his Battlewagons. Ghazghkull then gauged the wind and ordered several shantytowns put to the flame. The thick, acrid smoke drifted over the cracked plains, hiding the exact whereabouts of his troops' movements and making it impossible for the Bad Moons to flee until Ghazghkull's infantry was right on top of them. Most impressively, Ghazghkull had coerced the fastest Ork on Urk to join him by out-racing him in a one-on-one duel of speed. All who saw it agreed that only the divine might of Gork and Mork could have allowed the now hulking Goff Warlord to outpace Grand Speedboss Shazfrag of the Evil Sunz.
Each and every one of Ghazghkull's tactics worked, wearing down the Bad Moons so that their defeat was inevitable. As the humbled Snazzdakka watched, Ghazghkull ordered the Bad Moon Meks to fashion an enormous Power Klaw from the rubble of their ruined tanks. So did all the Bad Moons on the planet fall into line. So large had Ghazghkull's horde grown that no warband on Urk could hope to stand before his sweeping onslaught. Only the foolish or the stubborn even attempted to stand apart from the meteoric rise of this great greenskin champion. One such stubborn fool was Snakebite Warboss Grudbolg. It took a long, bloody solar week to subdue the Snakebites under Grudbolg, and Ghazghkull was forced to decapitate the scarred old monster twice before finally winning his loyalty. When challenged to a headbutting contest by the hulking Goff champion, Ugrak, Ghazghkull was like a piledriver, sinking his foe a full foot into the ground and knocking him unconscious. Ugrak's Nobz mob was so stunned that their undefeated leader had lost that they did not see Ghazghkull striding towards them. In a fury, Ghazghkull worked his way through the Nobz, leaving each senseless. When the heads of Ugrak and his Nobz finally cleared, they quite sensibly pledged eternal allegiance to Ghazghkull. Battles of attrition had raged across the surface of Urk for nearly eight thousand Terran years, with small tribes continually rising and falling, each time battering themselves and those around them into submission. No great leader had ever emerged from the endless cycle; over all that time, none could unite the tribes. Until now...
It took six standard years for Ghazghkull to fully subjugate Urk. Now grown larger than any Warlord ever seen on the planet, he basked in his domination. Inspired by the spirits of the rising WAAAGH! and Ghazghkull's impassioned speeches about conquering the stars, the Orks swarmed about the planet's surface in a flurry of activity. A smattering of ramshackle voidships begin to arrive, as Orks from across the Zornian System felt the siren call of a WAAAGH! and hastened to join. For the first time, groups of Meks worked together, building in ways never contemplated before. Never before had they been able to mass their squalid resources, but now all of the scrapheaps were as one. Crazed energies flowed as they cobbled together vast battle fortresses, new weapons and towering engines of destruction. All of Urk's greenskins moved with a sense of destiny, an overwhelming realisation of their duty, their very purpose for being -- and then the sun flickered. All the greenskins looked up at the suddenly dimmed sun that had always lit the planet of Urk. All save Ghazghkull himself were cowed. The superstitious Orks dropped their weapons and spanners and stared upwards, slack-jawed in wonder at the celestial phenomenon. The sun flared, blazed -- and once more, its rays blinked.
In his booming voice, Ghazghkull assured the quavering greenskins that this was a sign from Gork and Mork. It was telling them that it was time to leave Urk behind, that it was time for the galaxy to feel the might of the growing WAAAGH!. Even as the Warlord spoke, a lone beam of green-tinted light illuminated the Prophet of the Great Green Gods. He told his followers to stockpile all the arms and ammunition they could, for they were leaving within the week. As there were few operating aircraft upon Urk, and the Meks had only just started to construct more, some greenskins wondered how this might happen. A single glare from Ghazghkull, however, was enough to silence their questions and instil in them, if not confidence, then at least a fear of asking how any such thing might be accomplished. The next day brought no dawn. In this case, however, it was nothing to do with the strange behaviour of Urk's sun. The Warp currents had changed again, reverting to patterns similar to those of ages ago. As the tides of the Warp roiled and twisted, they had also deposited an enormous Space Hulk into realspace, vomiting forth the conglomerate voidcraft in the Zornian System. The Hulk now drifted in Urk's orbit, blocking out the light from the flickering sun.
As solar flares and radiation storms wafted from Urk's tortured sun, Ghazghkull turned to his Meks and bade them secure the Space Hulk using super-heavy Traktor Kannons. A few of the available spacecraft were equipped with harpoon rockets, and they fired these off to tether the colossal Space Hulk to one of Urk's twin moons. For the moment, the Space Hulk was pinned -- but all knew it would not be so for long. Under Ghazghkull's orders, the remaining Orks rushed to assist the Meks. They worked non-stop to craft as many crude transport ships as they could. There were perhaps one hundred constructions worthy of being called ships, while other craft were built to complete only a single journey. There were many hundreds of these crude rockets, each incapable of being steered, each with Orks and equipment wedged into every hold and crawlspace. Boarding the largest of this crude fleet, Ghazghkull led the great exodus from the planet to seize the Space Hulk. With exhaust flashes and more than their share of premature detonations and mid-air collisions, the departing voidcraft filled the sky. Some ships struck the Space Hulk's outer decks and detonated to blow gaping holes into the superstructure. A few rockets ploughed deep into the hulk to deposit their Ork cargo, while the most sturdily constructed ships actually had the wherewithal to fly about the vast Space Hulk to seek out landing sites -- or, at the least, to enter the vast Hulk through the massive holes blown into it by the less fortunate Ork rockets.
Alas, as is so often the case, the Space Hulk was not unoccupied. As soon as the first wave of Orks landed they were attacked by daemonic entities. Burna Boyz, cutting their way through bulkheads, had to suddenly shift from slicing metal to defending themselves against a tide of Daemons. Gouts of dirty orange flame were met in kind by arcane blue jets, as the Burna Boyz traded scorching death with prancing Pink Horrors. Before their ships had even settled, Speed Freeks launched themselves from cargo ramps, racing down cavernous corridors, guns blazing. Less than half of the Ork spacecraft were able to lift off once again, but these disengaged in order to go back to Urk's surface to ferry more greenskins into the battle. The fighting took solar weeks, during which time billions of greenskins were airlifted off Urk to join the fray.
Ghazghkull himself led the spearhead that fought its way to the centre of the Space Hulk. There, at the black heart of the jumbled amalgamation, was an ancient voidcraft -- none other than the vast star freighter Dominion. After leaving Urk -- then called Urokleas -- to escape the Ork attack, the voidcraft became lost in the Warp, its terrified human cargo attracting the horrific creatures that dwelled there. The Dominion had returned home, but where its Warp engines had once been located there was now a huge Warp rift -– a darksome hole from which the energies of the Immaterium poured forth. The fight to take over the Daemon-held Space Hulk was a bitter battle through ever-changing confines. Neither side showed mercy, hacking at each other in the narrow corridors and turning vast cargo bays into slaughter-pits where entire armies crashed headlong. Now and again, newcomers would join the fight -- a fresh tide of Daemons sweeping from the Space Hulk's centre, or an Ork rocket crashing through to deliver its living payload. Slowly, the Orks drove the Daemon host back, but at every junction lay an ambush and casualties were high.
It was Mad Dok Grotsnik who led a charge to win the landing bays of what must have been an old Imperial transport. The landing craft berthed within were still occupied by the skeletons of their long-dead pilots. The few landing craft that were still operational were commandeered to aid the transport efforts. It was Ugrak's Uglies -– the Goff Nobz Mob –- that fought their way into the asteroid embedded deep within the Space Hulk. There, in magma-worn tunnels, they pitted Power Klaws against Hellblades, and in the end only Ugrak's Kombi-skorcha swept the path clear. In the larger holds, Battlewagons lowered their deff rollas to mash all opposition, before being countered by Soul Grinders -- hulking Daemon Engines whose metal claws shredded the Ork vehicles. Soon, Ork Tankbustas were hunting the Soul Grinders, crawling through air vents to send rokkits corkscrewing into their unnatural foes, blowing them apart in sprays of flame and ichor. Behind the front waves of fighting came the Meks, welding over patches, re-sealing airlocks and repairing their battered engines of war.
Having driven the daemonic hosts before him, Ghazghkull ordered the massed firepower of his entourage to be turned against the tear in reality. To his frustration, this did nothing to it. With a bestial roar, and leaking raw green energy from his reconstructed skull, Ghazghkull charged the rent. To further anger the Warlord, his Power Klaw proved equally ineffectual and, with an almighty challenge, Ghazghkull unleashed the full thunder of his best headbutt. There was a flash of green, an audible pop, and, at last, the rift collapsed upon itself. Whether it was the force of that blow, or the latent psychic energy within Ghazghkull, it was done, and the Daemon threat ended -- at least for a time. The Space Hulk, which Ghazghkull named Wurld Killa, was now in Ork control. Just as superheated gas clouds swept over Urk, Wurld Killa shifted back into the Warp.
Warp Journey of Wurld Killa
How long Ghazghkull and his followers drifted in the Warp is not known. Time passes strangely there, and Orks keep no records. They explored the bounds of the vast Space Hulk, finding strange technology -- ancient machines from humanity's lost past and other apparatus beyond their comprehension. For some, especially the Deathskulls, this meandering search including nicking everything not bolted down. As they worked alongside Burna Boyz whose arc-welders cut through metal, the Orks were able to appropriate everything, no matter how well fastened it was. On Ghazghkull's command, many Meks began working on a force field projector. Meanwhile, competing warbands fought to gather scrap and minor wars broke out over salvage rights. This rivalry kept tensions at just the right level to prevent the volatile Orks from growing too bored. Sheets of iron decking were reworked into Battlewagons, used to "plate up" Stompas, or beaten into crude body armour to outfit Nobz. In the mad furore to claim metal, several warbands were swept into the Warp when they overstretched their boundaries and cut away sections of the Space Hulk's outermost walls.
It was this kind of foolishness that allowed Warp entities to re-enter Wurld Killa. Several more daemonic incursions plagued the journey, and Ghazghkull had to drive out the worst of these Warp offensives personally. With vicious battles breaking out across the Space Hulk, there was an abundance of violent WAAAGH! energy, and the Orks thrived and multiplied. Soon, every cranny of the voidcraft was bursting with more greenskins. Everywhere, swarms of Grots scurried; the halls rang to the sound of chants, Shoota blasts, and the commands of the ever-busy Meks. Gradually, the Daemon tides ebbed; the jubilant Orks were beginning to get restless when sudden jolts alerted all that the lumbering Space Hulk was slowing down. With gut-lurching suddenness, Wurld Killa ripped back into realspace. What had been an empty void was now filled with the massive Space Hulk. Aboard the sprawling vessel, klaxons blared and Ghazghkull's voice boomed out of speakers and down corridors, telling all to prepare for battle. Like a tidal wave, the momentum of Wurld Killa sent the Space Hulk crashing forward. It smashed aside defence stations while panicked picket-ships accelerated to get out of the path of the hurtling wall of space junk.
In 941.M41, the Orks emerged at the edge of a star system vital to the Imperium, heading straight for the core planet. Before them sprawled the immensity that was Armageddon -- an industrial giant of Mankind's realm. The planet lay roughly ten thousand light years to the galactic northeast of Terra in the Segmentum Solar. It was a vital node of navigational channels, and its countless manufactorums supplied munitions to Astra Militarum regiments throughout the Armageddon Sector and beyond. No force in the galaxy could now stop Wurld Killa from crash-landing onto Armageddon. Guided by his visions, Ghazghkull did not wish to halt his flight; rather, he welcomed the headlong plunge towards the world below. The acceleration built, and he bellowed joyous war cries as the hull blazed with fire and the hulk thundered down from Armageddon's sky like a scrap-iron avalanche. Up until this point, Ghazghkull had only made a name for himself on Urk -– a little known and soon-to-be dead star system. Soon, however, his name would send ripples of fear across hundreds of thousands of worlds. Now, Ghazghkull was on a collision course with greatness.
Surrounding Imperial fleets, long-ranged missiles and the planet's orbital defence lasers did their best to stave off the inevitable. Their firepower managed to shear away a few chunks of the oncoming Space Hulk, but they could not stop the terminal dive of Wurld Killa, nor could they alter its course. Although shorn of a good deal of its mass by the desperate salvoes, the enormous Space Hulk plunged through Armageddon's polluted atmosphere to crash-land upon its largest continent, Armageddon Prime. The deep impact of the landing shook the entire world, and its blast wave caused untold devastation. A cloud of debris shrouded the sun. Hundreds of thousands of Orks were instantly immolated by the cataclysmic contact of the landing. Their losses, however, were but a tiny fraction of their number.
As the shock faded, a few of the Orks realised that they should all have died in that epic crash. Ghazghkull claimed it was the protection of the gods, although the force field projector absorbing the brunt of that impact doubtlessly helped. Regardless, the Orks roared their approval at being alive after the exhilarating ride. Eager to release their pent-up aggression, they poured out of drop ramps or simply blasted new exit holes through the already torn and rent ruins of the remaining hulls. Ghazghkull divided his followers into five distinct hordes, each under one of his most powerful Warlords. These were leaders Ghazghkull had subdued upon Urk, ferocious Orks that had learned by fighting alongside him. Under the dust storm's darkness, the towering WAAAGH! overlord pointed out the direction each of his sub-commanders should take. With a wave of his Power Klaw, Ghazghkull launched endless columns of Ork war machines and living seas of green-skinned infantry. With one voice, many millions bellowed.
The Second War for Armageddon
"He was an avalanche from an unexpected quarter. He was a thunderbolt from a clear sky."
The defenders of Armageddon were not ready for what hit them. The Astra Militarum and the Planetary Defence Forces of Armageddon may have been well-equipped, but they were wholly unprepared for the waves of violence that swept over their armies. It was clear that the humans underestimated the strategic ability of their foes. They had fought Orks before, but these greenskins were different; this was not some petty Warlord's formulaic assault –- this was WAAAGH! Ghazghkull.
Although none of his sub-commanders displayed the sheer audacity and cunning of their master, Ghazghkull had beat enough into their skulls about tactics for some of it to stick. They easily overwhelmed the Planetary Defence Force legions that advanced out of the planet's hive cities to contain them. First, the Orks launched assaults to pin the foe in place on the flat ash wastes, while biker mobs and Battlewagon brigades raced around to encircle their foes, cutting off their supply lines. Then the greenskins tightened the noose. They set up their Mek Gun batteries to pummel the panicked defenders left in the ever-shrinking cauldron. Desperate attempts to break out were met by gunlines. Mercilessly, the Orks mowed down anything that moved, guffawing at the lines of 'umies that advanced to meet only death, aping their final curses as they twitched their last upon the bloodstained ash.
With the plains cleared, the Orks advanced on the hive cities and there they were astounded. Built atop sprawling ashblown desert wastes, the hives rose up taller than mountains. These were the great factory-cities of the Imperium, the lifeblood of its non-stop war efforts. This was industrial might on a scale never before seen by the Orks. The Meks gazed at the hives with joy, imagining how they could repurpose such works, what they could build with such colossal hoards of materiel.
The Fall of Hive Volcanus
The Imperium's defence of the hives proved more formidable. The Astra Militarum's numbers were augmented by every regiment available, along with hastily-armed citizens. A long series of trenches and redoubts encircled each vast walled complex. Ghazghkull took one look at Hive Volcanus before vowing boldly that it would fall in two solar days' time. Although his hordes were numerous enough to overwhelm the gates, Ghazghkull did not want to waste his strength. He had yet to unleash the full terror of his Gargant Big Mobs, but he thought that prodigious firepower should be saved for when it was truly required. Instead, his plan to take the enormous factory-city reflected his cunning. It was simple, it just needed flawless execution and seamless cooperation -- a tall order for a typical WAAAGH!-leader, but not so for Ghazghkull.
The outer barriers were targeted by Blitz Brigades -- armoured wedges of Battlewagons. The first wave bore rams, and it was their duty to break open the outer walls, using their tracks to carry them over the rubble. The second group of attackers followed in the wake of the smoke-churning Ork Battlewagons; these were the mobile infantry -- mostly Goff Boyz, with mobs of Burna Boyz amongst them. The third wave was composed of Skorchas -- their orders were to drive through the breaches and to clear any defences with sweeping flame. Traktor beams would target the gates as the Battlewagons cleared the last trench. Timed correctly, the loaded wagons would be at top speed just as the doors were ripped off their hinges. Secondary plans included a Stormboyz airdrop and Stompas with wrecking balls opening up holes at strategic points. When the waves of infantry were finally released, they could enter Volcanus at will.
The plan worked almost too well. The hive would have fallen in a single solar day were it not for its fierce resistance. Within the narrow confines of the hive's underways, desperate humans resorted to all manner of traps and ambushes. Despite their heroics, hundreds of thousands of Orks swept into Hive Volcanus, and its population was massacred or enslaved. After Hive Volcanus was captured, the remaining hives of Armageddon Prime soon followed. Columns of human refugees stretched past the horizon. All of Armageddon Prime lay under the massive metal heel of Ghazghkull. What were once manufactoria were converted to workshops swarming with Orks. Human slaves were worked to death stripping their own cities of every scrap of resource that the Meks could use to fuel the greenskin war machine. The WAAAGH! proceeded southwards towards the heavily populated continent of Armageddon Secundus.
Being somewhat soft, it is extraordinary for 'umies to gain respect from Orks -- especially greenskins led by a stoic and battle-hungry Goff like Ghazghkull. Although Space Marines are regarded with esteem for their skills in battle -- none more so than Commander Dante of the Blood Angels -- it was an Imperial Commissar that drew the most admiration from the Orks. Here was an uncompromising warrior –- as eager to shoot his own ladz as the foe, if that's what it took to gain victory. Commissar Sebastian Yarrick was certainly a thorn in Ghazghkull's side, for the greenskins reckon that it was he alone that willed the defenders of Hades Hive to hold on for so long.
The Orks gradually learned from their captives that the defenders of Hades had grown to fear Yarrick as much as they dreaded the fury of Ghazghkull. To the Orks, this was the kind of leader they could respect. The fact that he wore Goff colours -- black with red trim -- boosted his esteem even further. It is said that of all Ghazghkull's foes, Yarrick was the only one that he ever cursed -- high praise indeed. Those Orks that came face-to-face with the infamous "'Umie Boss" often expressed disappointment. In person, Yarrick was only human-sized, although this was lessened somewhat because he did at least wear an Ork Power Klaw and bear an evil eye. Amongst the Boyz, it was said that those Orks that recognised who they were up against were always slain -– for they stood in gape-jawed disbelief at Yarrick's insulting puniness and so left themselves open to a deathblow. The wily Orks acknowledged the value of this tactic, even if it was a sly, sneaky Blood Axe kind of trick.
The Real Battle Begins
When Armageddon's Season of Shadows set in -- the cyclical time when the planet's volcanic mountains erupted -- the turbulent skies were permanently crimson-hued. To the Orks, this was another sign of their impending victory. To get to Armageddon Secundus the Orks had to cross a swathe of equatorial jungle considered impenetrable by the humans. The foetid swamp region was a morass of mudpits that could submerge armies at a time, and it was filled with ferocious wild beasts. The greenskins revelled in it, attacking the flora and fauna while the Meks erected pontoon bridges or projected force fields across the sinking bogs. By their drive and cobbled ingenuity, the Ork hordes pressed through faster than Imperial armies could march.
Infantry, armoured columns, Stompa Mobs and towering Gargants crossed the crude bridges and emerged on the far side of the jungles. Once again the Orks caught the humans unprepared and smashed through their defensive positions. As the Orks raced across the ash deserts towards the hive cities, the towering god-engines and tank companies of Mankind advanced out into the barrens to meet them. From that point on, the battles were more fiercely fought, and Ork casualties began to mount. First was the clash on the parched desert known as the Death Barrens. While the colossal war engines of the Iron Skulls Titan Legion duelled with the Gargants, the massed enemy tanks began to blow great holes in the Ork hordes. The greenskins did not waver, but continued to advance, albeit more slowly, into that thunderous barrage. The energies of the WAAAGH! might have been drained then and there were it not for the Dread Mobs.
Clanking forward, these iron-plated tank-killers strode through the shellstorm. A land armada of Deff Dreads, Killa Kans and hulking Morkanauts lurched into the enemy armour formations. Explosions lit up the plains as Power Klaws wrenched off turrets. Buzzsaw arms reached in to savage the exposed crew, and the screams of the eviscerated victims were music to the Orks' ears. With the foes' tanks reduced to smoking wreckage, the Stompas and Deff Dreads used their firepower to tip the scales on the evenly matched duel between the Gargants and the Titans. Towering mushroom clouds rose from the destroyed Imperial Titans, and the concussive blasts of their detonations slew many Orks, but when the shockwaves ceased, the green tide flowed over the enormous craters.
The Bloodiest of Sieges
The sieges that followed brought the Armageddon War to a new state of savagery. By now the humans knew what lay in store for them, and their resistance stiffened. The Orks sacked Infernus Hive after the Blood Axes struck a deal with its corrupt Governor, but they could not break through the great hive cities of Hades or Helsreach. In desperation, the Imperial side launched virus bombs -- wicked and proscribed technology from their distant past. Hundreds of thousands of Orks died, but still they pressed on, battering themselves against the hive cities for little gain. With his sub-commanders flummoxed on how to break through, Ghazghkull was forced to direct the assaults himself.
Ghazghkull tried many ploys: lightning assaults, feints, overwhelming wave attacks and massed bombardments. Air-dropped Stormboyz attacked from the skies while the sewer tunnels were infiltrated by the craftiest Kommandoz. At Helsreach, these stratagems paid off, each offensive advancing more deeply into that seaport hive city. With the streets red with blood, Ghazghkull's final tactic -- to gather the Weirdboyz together so their WAAAGH!-addled minds blasted forth a psychic storm -- worked perfectly. Paralysed by madness, the defenders were overrun. In Hades, each of Ghazghkull's moves was parried. The Stormboyz were ripped from the skies by anti-aircraft fire, the Kommandoz were met by tunnel-fighters in a running battle that stymied the underground advance. Siege engines were sabotaged and human suicide teams took down Gargants. The defence of Hades Hive was masterminded by Commissar Yarrick, who was destined to become the most respected 'umie that WAAAGH! Ghazghkull ever met.
The Unexpected Counterstrike
As Ghazghkull fixated on tearing Hades Hive apart, on his command another Ork army was set to overwhelm the hive city of Acheron. But that was before the sky exploded. Orbital bombardment blasted craters amongst the Ork hordes. Even as they gaped skyward, they saw Thunderhawks peel out of the cloud cover, the roar of their engines audible over the concussive shockwave of their bombing runs. The Space Marines -- the finest warriors in the Emperor's service -- had arrived. The Blood Angels, the Ultramarines and the Salamanders attacked, and the Orks tasted the bitterness of crushing defeat for the first time. At that moment, if Ghazghkull had turned his attention to the deteriorating situation, it is likely he could have rallied his armies and driven off the Space Marine counterattack. Had he done so, Armageddon would likely have fallen. However, the completion of the siege of Hades Hive had become an obsession. Prophet though he was, in the red haze of battle, Ghazghkull no longer heard any calling save to grind his iron boots upon those who had dared defy him. Finally, Ghazghkull's own Bullyboyz broke down the last blast door. With the inner gates now open, Ghazghkull threw everything at the hive city, unleashing his final rampage. The Space Marines arrived too late to save Hades Hive, and those inside were massacred nearly to a man.
With his numbers depleted and widely scattered, Ghazghkull commanded the last of his reinforcements to besiege Tartarus Hive. The fate of the planet hung in the balance, but the Space Marines were quick to redeploy. A Drop Pod assault struck the Orks even as Gorkanauts and Stompas smashed down the hive's gates. Blindsided again, the greenskins were pushed back and on the verge of breaking when Ghazghkull arrived. His counterattack was just beginning to wrest the initiative back when Ghazghkull and his bodyguard disappeared altogether. Rumours that their illustrious Warboss had fallen spread like wildfire amongst the Orks, and they wavered and broke. With this, the Imperium thought they had driven the Orks from Armageddon. It was not so. Many fought their way into the ash wastes and escaped, eventually reaching the depths of the equatorial jungles. Moreover, Ghazghkull was not slain. Some say the hand of Gork reached down to extricate his chosen one. Ghazghkull's few Ork detractors claimed he had fled, but however it happened, the Warboss escaped off-planet.
Visions of the Prophet
"Orks are never beaten in battle… we can always come back for annuver go..."
- — Classic Ork saying
After leaving Armageddon, Ghazghkull was not idle. He did not look upon that campaign as a defeat, but more as a necessary stumble that was part of a larger journey, for a master plan had been revealed to Ghazghkull by Gork and Mork. Now, the Warlord saw clearly that Armageddon was not the end, it was only the beginning. If the Imperium made one huge mistake following the Second War for Armageddon, it was in not immediately pursuing Ghazghkull with all their strength and available resources. Yarrick recommended hunting him down, but few heeded the battle-proven Commissar. In truth, the Imperium's High Command on Armageddon presumed that the Ork Warlord that came out of nowhere to ravage their planet either was dead, or, if he had survived the battle, would be a washed-up nothing. He might live for some time as a recluse, but if he attempted to gather more Orks about him he would doubtless be slain as a failure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
After losing a major battle, Orks will often depose their failed leader -- the first step on the downward spiral to true anarchy. It is true that, early on after his escape, Ghazghkull did have to remind some tribes of his greatness by defeating his challengers in horrific fashion. However, the Warlord regained his followers' full support not just with his triumphal acts of violence, but through his words. What the Ork gods had revealed to Ghazghkull -- or rather, what Ghazghkull said they revealed to him -- was that in order to destroy your foe, you must first know him. To the Orks, such an idea was both radical and profound. This meant that, for Ghazghkull, the whole invasion of Armageddon was merely a way to test the waters -- an experiment to learn how the Imperium would react against a massive invasion. The swift Space Marine strikes and the grinding attrition of the human warriors had indeed been eye-openers to an Ork from the isolated world of Urk. Now, Ghazghkull had learned what he needed to know about the Imperium's strategies. It was time to regroup -- to gather new armies, to rebuild and restore the WAAAGH! until it had strength enough to menace entire star systems.
Onwards to Golgotha
Most of Ghazghkull's forces had been left behind on Armageddon. Only a core of his most trusted mobs were with Ghazghkull when he landed in the heart of what was notorious Ork territory –- the world of Golgotha. In ages past the Golgotha Sub-sector had been heavily colonised by Mankind, but since then it had passed through the grasp of various races until it was ultimately conquered by the Orks. That WAAAGH!, however, had run out of impetus long ago –- leaving behind many disparate and inter-feuding tribes. Just like on Urk, Ghazghkull began subjugating the greenskins. At first he clubbed bosses and gained new mobs one at a time, but news travels fast when Orks begin to get excited. Whether it was due to the tremendous power of his adamantium-skull headbutts, or the Orkish wisdom he received from his visions from Gork and Mork, soon whole tribes were seeking out this new Warlord.
During this time, Commissar Yarrick continued to pursue the renegade Ork Warlord obsessively. Ghazghkull proclaimed that as the chosen of Gork and Mork, he was the only one who could defeat the 'umie wiv the evil eye. Unlike his underlings, Ghazghkull was canny enough to understand that attempting to stop the pursuing humans was doomed to failure: not unlike an Ork WAAAGH!, a human Crusade thrived on strife and victory, and needed to be exhausted first. Ghazghkull achieved this by seemingly running away and remaining tantalisingly just out of reach of his pursuers, sacrificing to Yarrick those of his underlings who disobeyed or challenged him. This he did for 10 standard years until he could spring his trap on his pursuers. Luring them to the planet of Golgotha, he blinded the exhausted and over-stretched human commanders with a chance for victory over his seemingly depleted Ork forces. Unkown to the Imperium, a large Space Hulk had deposited a second, lesser WAAAGH! on Golgotha, which was waiting in large underground cave complexes. Ghazghkull had a base constructed that was intended to give to the Imperial attackers the impression that he was organising a last stand. The Ork Warlord went as far as to sacrifice his remaining Gargants to a pointless flanking manoeuvre, all in order to make the humans commit fully to the field against him on Golgotha. Once they did, Ghazghkull caught them between the hammer of his hidden greenskin troops and the anvil of his base, while his Space Hulk drove off the forces of the Imperial Navy orbiting the world. Ghazghkull wanted to confront Yarrick himself, but when he found the elderly Commissar making a last stand at the wreck of his Baneblade (which had deliberately rammed one of the Gargants), Ghazghkull saw an opportunity to finally display his dominance over the other greenskins, and he ordered the human captured instead.
Ghazghkull wanted to use Yarrick to assert his dominance over the other Orks, and to prove he understood how humans "worked." He first had Yarrick thrown down the garbage chute of his Space Hulk, proclaiming the human would escape. The other Orks were doubtful, since none of them had ever managed to survive the ordeal, but Yarrick would indeed resurface a few solar days later. Ghazghkull then had Yarrick thrown amongst the other Imperial prisoners, foretelling that the human would find a way to strike back and kill them all. True enough, Yarrick soon instigated a revolt and managed to reach the Space Hulk's bridge, where he sought to initiate its self-destruction by activating all the vessel's propulsion systems at once. He nearly succeeded at this endeavour before the Orks stopped him. This time, the other Orks were convinced that Ghazghkull could indeed predict the human's behaviour, and Ghazghkull ordered Mad Doc Grotsnik to return the human's bionics. Ghazghkull then had Yarrick escorted by his Boyz to an intact shuttlecraft, where he allowed the human to leave the Space Hulk, telling him to prepare for the Orks' return to Armageddon. This nonchalant show of dominance firmly cemented Ghazghkull's place as Warlord of his massive WAAAGH!
Thus began decades of long rebuilding. Carefully, Ghazghkull balanced marshalling the growing numbers of his army and the exponential WAAAGH! energy alongside the need to keep a low profile for the time being. Gork and Mork had advised him that he did not want to draw outside attention upon himself just yet. Never before had a WAAAGH!-leader tried to limit the numbers of Orks he attracted, but it was all part of the plan. Before he could take that next step towards ultimate victory, Ghazghkull would need more than just an enormous army: he would need to have his new tactics perfected and his new weapons working properly. He knew that if his influence expanded too quickly, the plan would not yet have grown ripe. Still, Ghazghkull launched raids across the Ultima Segmentum and beyond. Some were small, consisting of a few mobs; others were massed assaults capable of overrunning a planet. The attacks hit Imperial outposts or wreaked havoc amongst shipping lanes; the Orks also ventured into Tau space to smash colonies, or attacked other Ork territories. Ghazghkull led some expeditions, while for others he put a new corps of sub-commanders to the test. Beyond the value of plunder or even winning the engagements, the raids were done to train new leaders and test his latest strategies.
If the Imperium had collected and analysed their scattered data files, they would have been alarmed by how many recorded attacks Ghazghkull, or armies bearing his insignia, had made. From 945 to 996.M41 there was an escalating pattern of violence, with many thousands of raids. But the Imperium was sprawling, bureaucratic, and beset by more obvious threats. Only the aged Yarrick, who had never ceased in his pursuit of his nemesis, still warned about any impending WAAAGH! directed by Ghazghkull. In the year 997.M41 Ghazghkull allied with the most infamous Bad Moon Warlord in many millennia -- Nazdreg Ug Urdgrub. The two leaders field-tested innovative "Tellyporta" technology -- the ability to send mobs of Boyz, vehicles, and ultimately, even the mountainous Gargants from a far distant Space Hulk down onto a planet. This was tested on the Imperial planet of Piscina IV. Only the Dark Angels saved that world from being overrun, but victory there was not Ghazghkull's real goal. His preparations were now over -- he was ready to unleash his full force upon the Imperium, exercising a plan fifty standard years in the making.
The Third War for Armageddon
"Humies is all weak scum that deserve ta get stomped. 'Cept for One-Eye Yarrick. He knows how ter fight."
- — Attributed to Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka
During the fifty seven standard years following the Second War for Armageddon, Ghazghkull regrouped his forces, and reassessed his strategy. Remembering his defeat at Hades Hive on Armageddon over five decades earlier, he was not eager to repeat his mistake. He intended that Hades Hive would be one of the first places to fall. In light of its importance to the Imperium, Armageddon's defences were overhauled after Ghazghkull's first invasion nearly overwhelmed the planet. The star systems surrounding Armageddon were now heavily fortified. New naval stations and orbital defence platforms gave Armageddon a level of protection bettered only by Terra and a few others in the whole of the Imperium. Against the WAAAGH! that Ghazghkull unleashed, this didn't matter. With a grinding inevitability, Ghazghkull's junk-laden armada ploughed into realspace and advanced. In their wake, they left devastated planets as they steered towards Armageddon. Imperial task forces that sallied out to intervene were swallowed whole, never to return. In rightful panic, the distress call went out -- asking for reinforcements before the Orks could reach Armageddon.
On the day of the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension, fifty-seven Terran years to the day after his first invasion, Ghazghkull returned. The orbital battle over Armageddon raged for two fiery nights, but by dawn of the third solar day the skies were filled with the vapour trails and the incandescent afterblaze of Ork dropships. In a roaring wave behind them came swarms of atmospheric fighter craft and swooping bomber jets. Ghazghkull chose not to fight at Hades Hive, that indomitable high water mark where his last invasion broke itself. This time, there would be no such defiance. In an act of terrible vengeance, giant asteroids aimed by orbiting Space Hulks smashed the entire hive apart, annihilating its inhabitants and its defenders. This was but a prelude to the bloodshed that would follow.
Ground-based Defence Lasers and missile platforms reaped a horrific toll upon the Orks, filling the sulphur yellow skies with criss-crossing energy beams and blossoming explosions. Yet the greenskins were coming down in such numbers that, already, vast armies were building in the ash wastes. Feral Orks and Kommando teams burst from the equatorial jungles and mountain ranges of Armageddon to join the growing throngs. Quick-hitting strikes by the troops on the ground wrested control of many Macrocannons and Defence Lasers -- weapons that were soon turned upon their former owners. Other Orks worked to construct landing strips, allowing Dakkajets and Blitza-Bommerz to refuel and re-enter the fight more quickly. Gradually, the Orks began to dominate the dogfights that had been taking place overhead, and they soon ruled the skies. Anywhere that the Imperial forces gathered to establish a defensive line was subjected to punishing bombardment and strafing runs.
Through surging spearheads and the unbridled fury of their attacks, the Orks were gaining the upper hand everywhere. However, at that stage in the battle many Chapters of Space Marines began to arrive. Once again, their rapid assaults threatened to unravel the greenskin advance. Ghazghkull had foreseen this and prepared his own countermeasures. It was betrayal, not battle, that felled the first hive city, as Acheron was captured by treachery from within. To aid the wars raging across the ash wastes, Ghazghkull signalled for his next surprise. In orbit high above Armageddon, Space Hulks and asteroid fortresses jettisoned chunks of themselves to plummet downwards to Armageddon: the Ork Roks were unleashed.
During his first invasion, Ghazghkull found his attacks blunted by rapid strikes from Space Marines. Despite the high mobility of the greenskin armies, they could not match the Adeptus Astartes' quick-hitting capabilities. Worse still, the stymied greenskin advances turned to routs before Ghazghkull could counterattack. The Roks changed all that. Ork Roks are hollowed-out hunks of asteroid that have been fitted with crude engines and weapons, and filled with troops. They descend from orbit and their fiery trail is slowed somewhat by powerful force fields, retro-rockets and modified Traktor Kannons.
On Armageddon, the Roks made landings in the verdant equatorial jungles and across all of Armageddon’s continents, not just upon the populated landmasses of Primus and Secundus. Some Roks were lost to ground fire or smashed apart by their own impact, but many more survived. Not only did they slam into the planet to crush anything below, but the shockwaves of those landings were devastating. Even as the Space Marines began their attack runs to stall the Orks' advance, they found the Roks crashing amongst them. Each landed Rok became a bastion for the Orks, a rallying point and a ready-made fortress. But there was more: as well as guns, the Roks contained Tellyporta arrays like those first used by Ghazghkull in his Piscina campaign. These were swiftly used to bring Ork reinforcements to the planet, countering the Space Marines' attacks. They included special Marine-killa mobs, Stompas, artillery and even Gargants.
Blazing New Trails
Despite more and more Space Marine counterattacks striking deep into the Ork battlefronts, the Roks and the teleported reinforcements had the Imperium once again back on its heels. Ghazghkull still did not relent -– rather, he pressed his advantage. This was the perfect opportunity to unveil another tactic from his long-prepared arsenal of devastation: it was time to cut loose the Speed Freeks. Ork Kults of Speed have been around as long as there have been Orks. These velocity-addicted warriors are extremely mobile -- every trooper mounted on some type of Warbike, Warbuggy, or Trukk. While every klan has its speed-crazed Orks, this tendency is most common amongst the Evil Sunz. By their very nature, all Speed Freeks are fast, impulsive and likely to charge at the first opportunity. Only the commanding presence of Ghazghkull -- a no-nonsense Goff -- had any chance of using such headstrong forces in as controlled a fashion as he did. By Ghazghkull's orders, the Speed Freeks were held in reserve. It nearly killed them not to be first in battle, but instead to sit, doing nothing but revving their engines and waiting. Patience is not a virtue found amongst Speed Freeks. Yet Ghazghkull had been quite adamant in making his case -- making it, in fact, with his adamantium-plated head, by turning the wayward Evil Sunz Warlord, Gurbhag, and his kustom bike into a bloody scrapheap of broken parts. It had been a convincing argument. Only when the special Tellyporta-mobs had been sent to punch holes through the enemy lines were the Speed Freeks set loose.
Annihilation in the Ash Wastes
Able to exploit the tiniest gaps between battle lines, the Speed Freeks raced off in long columns. Where they needed to widen the path, the Warbikers blazed away with their weaponry -- unloading a storm of shot that scythed down Imperial Guardsmen in wide arcs of red ruin. Speed Freeks are known to sacrifice armour for speed, but, in true Ork fashion, their bikes and light vehicles never skimp on firepower, bearing more weaponry than any sane creature would expect upon such light frames. Across Armageddon Prime and Secundus, roving bands of Speed Freeks tore over the open plains of ash desert. With names like the Red Wheelz, Burning Death, and the Slasherz, each warhorde of Speed Freeks was made up of dozens of smaller warbands. The clouds of dust they kicked up as they accelerated across the barrens rivalled the toxic outflow of the Gargant Big Mobs, which spewed exhaust fumes that could be seen from outer space.
Focussed on the myriad battles spread across the sprawling continents, few of the Imperial officers had time, or tactical acumen enough, to contemplate the big picture. Most would have denied that the Orks even had a plan -- pointing to the scores of assaults scattered across the vast planet, they saw the Orks' attack more as an anarchic mess than as a planned battlefront. They were mistaken. Ghazghkull orchestrated the fighting on Armageddon, and it was his tactical genius that designed the deadly combination that was winning the war. The scattered Rok landing sites had created strongpoints from which Ork armies gathered, and they also served as homers on which the Tellyportas could lock and beam down a steady flow of reinforcements. It was necessary for the Imperium to concentrate their attacks upon these sites, leaving them vulnerable to the lightning assaults of the Speed Freeks.
Even as the forces of the Imperium moved to eliminate the threat of the Roks, they found themselves being hunted. Fast and hard-hitting Speed Freek columns wreaked havoc upon the Imperial forces in the open plains, weaving in and out of different formations and launching daring hit and run attacks. Zagboss Skargrim, notorious leader of the Burning Death Speed Freeks, encircled and destroyed entire regiments of Imperial Guardsmen. The Burning Death were well known for their love of fire, and the trapped humans were herded into large groups, setting up massed Skorcha runs that lit up the night skies. Streaking above the ash wastes, air wings of Dakkajet and Burna-bommer skwadrons acted as mobile artillery for the Speed Freeks. A fierce competition between the air and ground forces began, with each side striving to kill their target before the other could join the battle. Many friendly fire incidents were not accidental, but the deliberate results of overly frustrated rivals who arrived on the scene to discover their foes already destroyed.
Assault on the Hives
The Imperium's focus and counterattacks were wholly fixated upon the Ork Roks and the Speed Freeks warbands that wove maddeningly out of their reach. At this stage in the battle, Ghazghkull deemed the time was ripe to attack the hive cities. The Warboss personally led the many hordes on their route to attack Hive Infernus. Even as the few Imperial reserves were committed, word came from the seaport hives of yet more massive Ork attacks there. Mysteriously, Ork Roks had made landings in the Fire Wastes and Dead Lands to the north and south of the main continent of Armageddon. These grim lands had been believed to be uninhabitable, but their value became apparent solar weeks later when hundreds of tanker-sized Ork submersibles rose from the polluted waters and made landings at Hives Tempestora and Helsreach. Surprise was total, and within solar days Tempestora fell, although hive gang militia held out long enough at Helsreach for Tempestus Scions and Space Marines to arrive, preventing the Orks from overrunning the other half of the hive. Besieged and bombarded, Tartarus Hive drove off their greenskin attackers, but the victory was a hollow one. The hive was ruined, its great factories torn apart for scrap by industrious Deathskull Scrapmobs.
Just south of the Plains of Anthrand, a vital water processing plant known as Ghattana Bay was the site of a battle that escalated to become the largest Dreadnought conflict of the campaign. Large vehicles could not navigate the maze of pipes that made up the vast refinery, and without armour to oppose them, the Dread Mobs were an unstoppable force, able to gun down or smash aside all the human infantry that dared defend those twisted corridors. The Orks were only checked by the arrival of Space Marine Dreadnoughts from no fewer than five different Chapters. Tankbustas and Space Marine Devastators moved into the tangle of pipelines, hoping to shift the balance upon that deadly battlefield. Although the Orks were ultimately forced to withdraw, the damage wrought upon the facility by the greenskins was irreparable, cutting off water to much of Armageddon Prime.
Endless War of Attrition
The size of the escalating war on Armageddon was becoming difficult to imagine. Billions of lives had been lost in the unending battle, so that the very world had become a byword for war and destruction on a massive scale. It was a place where the mightiest war machines in the galaxy clashed and heroes died in droves. Orks from across the galaxy felt the vibrations of the WAAAGH!. Like moths to a flame, the most aggressive greenskins were being drawn toward Armageddon, seeking fame and glory. But the Third War for Armageddon had spread beyond the planet, for the whole sub-sector was rife with Ork raiders. Those worlds left vulnerable by the Imperial commitment to the Armageddon War were now burned themselves. Rumours abounded that Ghazghkull had called the Ragnarork, the Great WAAAGH!, the final apocalyptic battle in which the Orks would prove their worth before the eyes of their violent and primitive gods.
To counter the Orks, the Imperium had been forced into a total war footing, feeding the meatgrinder with entire planetary populations' worth of troops. A thousand light year recruitment zone was established around Armageddon. Every Imperial world within that area had their tithe of Imperial Guard regiments tripled and their industry turned over solely to armaments production. Even the Imperial logisticians, themselves numbering more than a large army, could only estimate how many Imperial Guard had taken part in the defence of Armageddon, to say nothing of tracking the wealth of other forces. At the last tally, this included elements of at least twenty-five different Chapters of Adeptus Astartes, several Orders of Adepta Sororitas, and six Titan Legions. Within the Armageddon Sector was the better part of seventeen Imperial Navy fleets. Worst still, those figures were outdated by at least a Terran year, a time period in which the war had only grown larger.
The Imperium had always dreaded the unification of so many Ork tribes, and now its worst fears were coming true. Already the wisest of the Imperial leaders faced the grim realisation that it was likely that the industry of Armageddon would soon be ruined beyond repair. The war was now less about saving Armageddon and more about preserving its sub-sector and, most sobering of all, preventing the ever-swelling tide of Orks from growing larger. If the great green menace could not be contained upon Armageddon, then it would sweep outwards and threaten the heart of the Imperium itself -– Holy Terra. Although it pained him to leave the largest battle he had ever seen, Ghazghkull knew he had work to do elsewhere.
A Higher and Louder Calling
Only the pull of destiny could drag the most dangerous Ork Warlord away from the battle that raged across Armageddon. But with the great green visions starting to overwhelm him, Ghazghkull knew it was time to move on. That battle was now self-perpetuating, and he was needed to spread the ripples of WAAAGH! energy until they washed the galaxy in blood. Even as he waded through shellbursts and claimed Space Marine helmets for his trophy rack, Ghazghkull could feel the pressure building behind his adamantium plate. He was about to have another vision and, if the pain in his skull was any indication, it was going to be a monumental one. It was too much to fight. Ghazghkull returned to his orbiting ship, Kill Wrecka, and at last gave in to the green flashes that were filling his patchwork mind.
The voices of Gork and Mork had never been so strident, their bellowing still echoing in Ghazghkull's head. Yet, no matter how many times he readjusted his thinking parts by beating them against the bulwark of the ship, Ghazghkull could not clear his head, nor decipher what the guttural voices of the gods were saying to him. The pain of the visions was excruciating, and his good eye bulged as he roared in agony. Any other Ork would consider a good scrap like Armageddon a victory in itself, but they lacked ambition. Ghazghkull, blessed with his conqueror's visions, did not know exactly what he was looking for, and grasped only that he would not find it on Armageddon. Trusting that the voices would become clear in time, he ordered a handful of voidcraft from the fleet that still surrounded Armageddon like vultures to gather around Kill Wrecka. Ghazghkull left the battle for Armageddon knowing his appointed lieutenants would command in his stead as he had ordered. The greatest Ork Warlord of his era looked back upon the rapidly shrinking orb of Armageddon, and his only regret was that he doubted he would be back before his underlings conquered everything in his name.
As the fleet gathered speed, Ghazghkull turned from the portal and looked about the bridge. On his orders, a herd of Weirdboy Warpheads had been gathered. It was his hope that the deranged Ork mystics could aid his visions in a way similar to how their strange gifts seemed to help steer the best course once a Space Hulk entered the Warp. Thus far, however, all the Weirdboyz had done was annoy Ghazghkull. The hulking Warlord watched the drooling Warpheads totter about the bridge, bumping into each other like Boyz in a fungus beer stupor. In truth, such antics angered Ghazghkull -- the old Goff in him resolved troubles or ambiguities with a simple punch to the face. Unbeknownst to Ghazghkull, however, his departure from Armageddon did not go unmarked.
Pursuit and Evasion
Imperial augur-stations observed the Ork flotilla leaving the system, identifying the vessel known as Kill Wrecka, the capital ship favoured by Ghazghkull. The Armageddon High Command was notified, and within solar days the pursuit was underway. Commissar Yarrick headed one fleet and High Marshal Helbrecht of the Black Templars led the other. They had allowed Ghazghkull to escape once and it cost them dearly; a mistake, Yarrick vowed, that would not be repeated. Using a pincer approach, the faster, more efficient Imperial warships converged upon the Ork fleet several solar weeks after leaving Armageddon. Outnumbered in the midst of a barren space known as the Haunted Gulf, Ghazghkull realised he could not outrun his foes. With nowhere to hide, he ordered the fleet to steer directly into the midst of their enemies. By the weight of their broadsides the Ork flotilla might yet be able to blast a path to freedom.
Despite Yarrick’s warning that such a desperate manoeuvre was not just possible, but likely, the forces of the Imperium were still surprised by the unorthodox gambit. Several Battle Cruisers were left crippled by the Ork ploy, little more than drifting hulks. However, the return fire ripped the scrapfleet apart, destroying Ork voidships one after another. Kill Wrecka was left listing badly, its steering wrecked. As Yarrick and Helbrecht prepared to board the Ork vessel in order to personally ensure Ghazghkull's demise, Kill Wrecka was wreathed in a blaze of green energy.
The Great Green Beyond
Kill Wrecka rocked back and forth from the Lance strikes that penetrated its lower decks. The resulting explosions blasted concussive forces through the ship, making the entire voidcraft lurch violently and sending everyone on the command deck sprawling. Ghazghkull toppled over hard, his adamantium-clad skull denting the steel deckplates with a clang. Furious, he pushed out of the pile of Weirdboyz that had shifted on top of him and bellowed orders. It was then, his head still ringing from the impact, that an overwhelming force possessed Ghazghkull. An arcing crown of green lightning exploded outward, washing everyone in a strange, green light.
The sudden explosion of energies was a spark that set off the Warpheads, each convulsing in rhythmic spasms that grew in intensity. Engulfed in green flames, the crazed Ork psykers howled as their skin sizzled and raw power burst forth from their eyes and gushed forth from their jaws. In voices like rolling thunder, the Warpheads spoke as one, the same almighty roar of Gork and Mork that Ghazghkull had been hearing. Now, at last, he understood what he needed to do. The voice of the gods commanded Ghazghkull to unite the Orks and make the galaxy echo to the sound of the Great WAAAGH!.
The powerful voice spoke again, saying that only unending battle would call the final Ragnarork, bringing forth Gork and Mork themselves. With their role in delivering the message done, the Warpheadz exploded in a vast oupouring of energy, drenching all those on the command deck with wet viscera and luminescent green energy. It was this surge of green power that rolled outwards, striking the enemy fleet like a tidal wave. With their ships' systems ensnared by strange energies, Yarrick and Helbrecht could only watch in frustration as Kill Wrecka blinked once and was gone. The only evidence that it had ever been there was a trail of debris floating where the ship had once been. Yarrick slumped, for he knew that Ghazghkull's escape boded ill for the galaxy.
The Path of Conquest
Kill Wrecka was hurled into the Warp, its course and destination unknown. Every greenskin on board endured an unsettling journey in which the echoes of that mighty voice still boomed in their minds. How long they travelled, or where they spun towards, none could say. Then, with a feeling similar to a punch in the gut, they halted, reappearing suddenly in realspace. The Orks staggered to the portholes, looking out and gasping in amazement. They were completely surrounded by voidships of all sizes, but there could be no mistaking the make of such crude, rust-bucket-like craft. Kill Wrecka had materialised precisely in the middle of an Ork fleet.
Only recently, Kill Wrecka had been an imposing vessel, its hulls protected by overlapping slabs of iron plate and bristling with turrets, gun decks and all manner of ordnance. However, after the Imperial fleet had punched a number of holes through the voidcraft's belly, internal explosions had done the rest. Ghazghkull's Meks began to swarm over the ship, repairing breaches to the inner hull and patching up the pipes which vented gases into the corridors. The Orks under Warlord Urgok Da Slayer -– for that was whose fleet they had appeared amidst –- doubtless took Kill Wrecka for space junk, thinking that some scrap-mongering Deathskulls or salvage-crazed Meks were simply cutting up pieces of old wreckage.
On board, Ghazghkull cared less about the hull repairs, instead ordering his Meks to fix the damaged Tellyporta. While they hustled about their tasks, the Prophet of Gork and Mork prepared his boarding parties. It was easy to pick out where the biggest Ork would be, for just above them in the centre of the fleet was a monstrous Space Hulk. So much work had gone into that vessel that it now looked like an Ork fortress floating in space. Knowing his advantage was surprise, Ghazghkull trusted to luck and teleported blind. As if guided by the great green hands of Gork and Mork themselves, Ghazghkull and a mob of his baddest Nobz -– his Bullyboyz –- appeared in a green flash in Warlord Urgok's command room. The action that followed was swift and bloody, the deck soon covered with the mangled corpses of the slain. Before they could recover from their shock, most of Urgok's bodyguard were slain and Ghazghkull had pulled Urgok off his throne and beaten him senseless. So started a new WAAAGH!.
Ghazghkull's New Fleet
Urgok's fleet was substantial in size before Ghazghkull arrived, but it grew exponentially when the Prophet of Gork and Mork took over. Like all Ork-made creations, it was an anarchic jumble. Most of the voidships were wholly built out of cast-off flotsam scavenged from the ends of the galaxy; others had once been the vessels of some other race, but had been salvaged and "upgraded" by the Orks. They came from all corners of the galaxy, some even from distant eras, having been found drifting in the Warp. Even ships of the same type in the same squadron were rarely comparable, for each had gone through many impromptu builds and refits, each using whatever scrap could be found. It was not the greenskin way to repair things either, so much as patch over them. And no Mek was ever fully satisfied, but thought he could add another gun deck, missile silo, torpedo tube or other shooty wotnotz here or there.
Within that ramshackle armada was a pair of heavy-prowed Hammer Battlekroozers that had stood keel to keel with Imperial Battleships and come out the victors. Some half dozen Kill Kroozers and Terror Ships rounded out the larger voidcraft. Before them came a tide of lesser vessels, some little more than rustbuckets with thruster engines, yet they were deadly despite their worn and decrepit appearance. The pride of the fleet was Urgok's Space Hulk -- a colossus of a starcraft, with firepower to almost equal that of an entire Imperial battlefleet.
Building a New WAAAGH!
Warlord Urgok's empire had grown so large that it took solar weeks for Ghazghkull to work his way through it. Most joined the Prophet of Gork and Mork willingly, but some stubborn cases needed to be shown a few messy examples before they too saw the wisdom of aligning themselves under Ghazghkull. When he regained consciousness, Urgok Da Slayer himself became a leader within Ghazghkull's throng, and this made recruiting the rest of his armies easier. If the galaxy was going to be set ablaze with WAAAGH! energy, many more Orks were needed.
Orks are a prolific race and can be found throughout the entire galaxy. It would be the work of a million lifetimes to seek out every greenskin-held territory, to travel to the innumerable places where greenskins gathered in dominating numbers -- countless moons, planets, asteroid fields, or Space Hulks drifting in the void between the stars. As Ghazghkull knew, such travel was not needed, for all Orks were called by the power of the WAAAGH!. Urgok's wars had been drawing in a steady stream of greenskins, new recruits rising to the call of fighting, space travel and the promise of greater battles. Under Ghazghkull, this rivulet became a cascading downpour as floods of greenskins rushed to join the fleet. Now they needed purpose.
With agitated Ork hordes raring for battle, Ghazghkull steered the fleet towards Ork territory. The remnants of his WAAAGH!-tuned brain had felt the distant ripples of green energies that came from distant Octarius. Rumours had come of a new leader of that realm, and it was Ghazghkull's intent to wrest the title "Overfiend of Octarius" for himself. However, what he found when he got there was even better.
The Octarian War
Octarius had been Ork territory for many thousands of standard years. It was not as backwater a subsector as where Urk had been, and every so often a leader would rise up, call a WAAAGH!, and lead an invasion off to wreck some part of the galaxy. Indeed, the old Warlord Gorsnik Magash had rushed off to join Ghazghkull in the Golgotha Sector and was currently heading a vast force of Orks on Armageddon, holding his own in the Dead Lands. Since Gorsnik's departure, a new leader had quickly risen to fill the power vacuum and claim the title Overfiend of Octarius -- a Deathskull Warlord named Zog Steeltoof.
Despite his copious use of blue warpaint, the rule of Zog Steeltoof had thus far not been a lucky one. Tyranids had returned, sweeping into the biomass-rich Ork territory, consuming entire planets as they advanced. The fight, known as the Octarian War, raged across the whole sector, its epicentre squarely targeted upon Octaria, the central world of the greenskin territory. The entire mega-continent of Octaria was a battlefield into which both sides poured their might. The Overfiend's Orks, grown big and strong on their diet of constant war, had met their match. The ever-evolving spawn of Hive Fleet Leviathan were gaining the upper hand, showering the planet with reinforcements, sending yet further broods of killing beasts into the non-stop melee. Across Octaria the Orks were forced to take refuge in scrap-iron fortifications. It seemed only a matter of time before the Tyranids collapsed each of the jury-rigged fortresses. Then WAAAGH! Ghazghkull descended from the spore-ridden skies.
At first, the Overfiend's Orks thought the Roks blazing through the atmosphere were some kind of new foe. All across Octaria they landed, smashing gaping holes through the Gargoyle-filled skies and ploughing into the scuttling hordes on the ground. It was not slime-covered, chitin-plated Tyranid creatures that emerged from the asteroids, however, but more Orks. They surged outwards, taking the fight to the Tyranids while the Roks themselves opened up with heavy calibre ordnance. The greenskins behind their shabby defences let loose volleys of cheers and a hail of supporting fire of their own. Then came the heavy, ground-shaking footfalls of incoming creatures of immense size. The Hive Mind had noted the arrival of these invaders.
The Tyranid response was frighteningly quick. Larger swarm creatures-- hulking scythe-limbed horrors and Gargant-sized beasts -- lumbered to oppose this new greenskin threat from the skies. The raucous chants of Octaria's Orks died in their throats, for they knew that these towering behemoths had been held in reserve, saved for the final death strike. When the Orks' defences had been breached, these monsters would have arrived. Now the newcomers would be shredded, for there could be no hope for infantry out in the open.
To their surprise, the air flashed as Tellyportas began to bring more reinforcements. All across Octaria, the cratered Rok landing sites now blazed with unnatural lights. After each flash, more and more mobs appeared, and these were not just infantry. Arriving with guns chugging, Gorkanauts and Stompas concentrated their firepower on the larger foes, while at their feet Burna Boyz mobs spread out. With each blast from their weapons they sent blossoms of red fire leaping out to flash-fry the lesser creatures in droves. Amidst the mobs pouring forth, countless crude banners and totems could be seen, carried high by the newly arriving troops or mounted atop clanking Battlewagons. The Orks of Octaria saw the symbols and knew who had arrived...
At Gargates, the Overfiend's shanty capital, Ghazghkull Thraka himself appeared via Tellyporta. He led the charge at the head of his Bullyboyz as they crashed through the serpentine Raveners that were beginning to undermine the first lines of defence. To the Greenskins that watched, this massive Warlord in Mega Armour fought like Gork himself. He wove in and out of sight in the swirling carnage, but he was easy to pick out. An aura of green brutality seemed to surround him and he clobbered each of his foes so hard that limbs, heads and claws flew in bloody arcs all around him. He moved like some elemental destructive force, a one-Ork wave of destruction. His Kustom Shoota spat death and with every swipe, Ghazghkull's Power Klaw sliced multiple foes in half. Every motion, from his elbow backswing to the stomp of his iron-shod feet, cracked the shell-like armour of the Tyranids and sent more to fall, thrashing their death throes on the blood-strewn ground.
And then the unbelievable happened.
The body-strewn landscape at Ghazghkull's feet seemed to buckle and bulge upwards. Then Ghazghkull was gone. A Mawloc had come. It burst from below and, as its bulk breached the surface, the creature coiled about itself like some hideous constricting serpent. This was the largest such creature any of the assembled Orks had seen -- the deadliest spawn of its kind that ever slithered underground or was seen by the light of any sun. The triumphal screech that burst from the beast's gaping maw twisted metal and made Orks miles away fall and cover their ears. Even before its screech of victory was over, however, something had gone wrong. The Mawloc heaved -- flopping its mass so that it seemed the world itself trembled. Then the beast quivered, writhing in convulsions, twisting its mighty coils in arcing loops. An unnatural bulge formed in its midsection and out thrust a Power Klaw, amidst geysers of gore and slime-covered entrails. Shoota blasts widened the hole and out stepped Ghazghkull, striding out of the very belly of the beast. The mightiest of Ork Warlords roared his victory to the skies, a rallying cry to greenskins and a challenge to all else that lived.
After that, nothing could stop the Orks. Chanting their Warlord's name, the greenskins of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull went on a kill-rampage, hacking, shooting and slaying in a berserk frenzy. From behind scrap-iron walls, the Orks of Octaria burst forth to join in. Even Zog Steeltoof, the Overfiend of Octarius, was chanting the name Ghazghkull as he gunned down the living wall of Tyranids that attempted to stay the greenskin onslaught. A great butchery began, and it did not stop until Octaria was free of the creatures of the Leviathan.
"Da Great Green Hands demselves have guided us here. Yer can join the Waaagh! or get outta da way."
- — Ghazghkull Thraka
Though Ghazghkull had little time to prepare, he made the most of it. Meks welded iron-plated walls back into position, or patched acid-eaten holes. Others sighted new kannons and anti-aircraft weapons, better integrating the Roks into the overall defence. Under the keen eyes of the grat Big Mek Orkimedes, a few snazzy upgrades, from Tellyporta pads to Pulsa Rokkits, would give the intergalactic aliens something new to chew on. If anything, this fight looked to be bigger than the one on Armageddon. Already the skies began to darken as a huge, brooding shadow covered the stars above. Looking up, Ghazghkull bared his fang-like teef in as close to a grin as he could manage. This WAAAGH! was only getting started...
Further Visions of Greatness
Since leaving Armageddon, the visions that temporarily filled Ghazghkull's surgically repaired brain had become more frequent. Some of these were strong convulsions that toppled the big Ork over, causing him to writhe in howling agony. Other visions were less obtrusive, and these Ghazghkull was slowly gaining control over. They showed him brief snippets of the action back on Armageddon; Ghazghkull saw Zagboss Skargrim tearing it up on his Warbike, or watched Kommandant Klank lead his Boyz to another victory. Even in the dream-like visions, the sight of Orks marching in rows like human troops was infuriating, but he could not argue with the Blood Axe Warlord's battle record. Ghazghkull knew that these weren't dreams; he knew he was watching real events unfold. Despite the vast distance, sometimes, when he issued commands or tactical advice during particularly gripping visions, Ghazghkull swore his voice carried and his subordinates heard his every bellow. This thought amused him; he heeded the voices in his head, and his lieutenants were likewise tormented. As for Ghazghkull's own voices -- they were already warning him that once the battle on Octaria got going, it would be time to leave. He had a destiny to meet. He only needed three or four more sectors raging with battle to swell the Ork population to critical mass. In his vision, Ghazghkull was stomping across the galaxy. His strides spanned stars beyond count and each of his mighty footprints were swathes of planets aflame with war -- Armageddon, Octaria ... he was already anxious for the start of the next one.
Since the opening of the Great Rift, Ghazgkhull has left the Octarius warzone, and is now leading a fleet of over 5 million greenskin ships against the forces of the Imperium.
According to Ghazghkull, the Prophet of Gork and Mork, the Great WAAAGH! has finally begun. greenskin legends have always spoken of the Ragnarork, the time when the Orks rise up to conquer the galaxy in a series of apocalyptic battles. Orks everywhere across the galaxy are gripped by mass agitation, and their migration towards key battles has begun...
- The Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - After more than five solar decades of planning and preparation, Ghazghkull returns to Armageddon at the head of a massive WAAAGH!. He plunges the Hive World of Armageddon and its entire sector into a vast and bloody war. Only by the tremendous build-up of their defensive fortifications and the expenditure of millions upon millions of their troops has the Imperium been able to hold back the green tide. Although he may not have known it at the time, the grinding stalemate is exactly what serves Ghazghkull's purpose best. For now, War Zone Armageddon is a bloody war of attrition -- a fact that drains the Imperium dry, while doing quite the opposite for the greenskins. The brutal conflict and the powerful WAAAGH! energy that emanates from Armageddon is uniting greenskins from far away and countless waves of Orks flood to join the war. Unless something alters the cycle of endless battle, it is a war that ultimately only the Orks can win.
- A Greater Purpose (990.998.M41) - The third battle for Armageddon is at its height of ferocity. Greenskins from thousands of light years away are hearkening to the call of the WAAAGH! and more arrive daily. Despite this success, Ghazghkull's visions lead him off-world. It slowly dawns on the Prophet of Gork and Mork that this battle is but one of many. The next stage of his Grand Plan is made clear -- he must kindle the spirit of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull elsewhere in the galaxy. With a small fleet, headed by his kapital ship Kill Wrecka, Ghazghkull leaves the Armageddon Sector.
- Battle of Haunted Gulf (189.999.M41) - In a barren zone of space known as the Haunted Gulf, Ghazghkull's fleet is caught by Imperial pursuers. Twin fleets converge upon the greenskins, one led by the aging Commissar Yarrick and another by High Marshal Helbrecht of the Black Templars. The Orks turn to fight and manage to cripple several Imperial Battleships, but Ghazghkull's fleet is badly mauled. With Kill Wrecka surrounded, the forces of the Imperium prepare for a boarding action when a wave of green energy issues forth from the listing Ork voidcraft and locks down all systems aboard the Imperial ships. They can do nothing but curse in vain as the strange force contracts into Kill Wrecka just as it disappears, leaving behind no clues.
- Another Perilous Warp Journey (ca. 189.999.M41) - The crippled Kill Wrecka enters the Warp, although it is impossible to track how long its journey lasts in sidereal time. Some attempts are made to repair Kill Wrecka before all hands are needed to drive off a daemon attack. It could be that the breaches in the hull gave the Warp denizens access, but Ghazghkull is convinced that the Chaos forces are trying to halt his inevitable progress.
- Urgok Joins the WAAAGH! (694.999.M41) - The badly damaged Kill Wrecka drops out of the Warp in the middle of the sprawling territory ruled by Ork Warlord Urgok. At that moment, Urgok has been gathering his fleet, preparing to attack a Tau force that has dared to place a colony within the boundaries of his realm. With the damaged Kill Wrecka taken to be little more than floating wreck, Ghazghkull gets close enough to Da Ironfoot, Urgok's Space Hulk fortress, to dare an attack by tellyporta. Before the crew even know what hit them, Ghazghkull and his Bullyboyz have taken over the control room and knocked their enemy's leader out cold. When Urgok awakens, he woozily joins WAAAGH! Ghazghkull.
- Tau Base Crushed (704.999.M41) Ghazghkull continues with Urgok's plan to attack a nearby Tau colony on the planet known as Fang's World. This proves to be another way to further unite Urgok's army beneath him, and also a chance to see firsthand what these new warriors and leaders in his WAAAGH! can do. The red-armoured alien warriors have had much experience fighting Orks, but they are not prepared for the onslaught that erupts when Ghazghkull and his Bullyboyz arrive to tip the balance in favour of the greenskins.
- Green Amongst the Stars (ca. 709.999.M41) - After smashing apart several of the largest red Battlesuits of the Tau, Ghazghkull notices something peculiar. He learns that if he concentrates enough after banging his adamantium-reinforced skull, he can better sense concentrations of greenskins. He feels a strong pull towards the regions ruled by the Overfiend of Octarius. Realising that this must be a sign from Gork and Mork themselves, Ghazghkull orders the fleet to leave, although he has no doubt that the Tau will return. He knows that the Orks will too.
- The Maddest Snakebites Yet (730.999.M41) - As the fleet prepares to embark upon the mass exodus towards Octarius, Ghazghkull has an inexplicable urge to visit a verdant planet in a nearby star system. This is the Jungle World of Kongajaro, home to a great many Snakebites Warclans. Strangely tattooed and bearing unusual piercings, the primal Orks greet Ghazghkull as if he were a god. After a ceremonial beast hunt, the Bearer of Da Great Klub, Chieftain Supreme Grak da Mighty, pledges all his warriors to WAAAGH! Ghazghkull. Cyboar Riders, Squiggoths and hordes of Orks with wild Squig-hair board the ships of Ghazghkull's growing fleet.
- The Fleet Gets Larger (730.999.M41) - While en route towards the galactic southeast, the fleet is ambushed in the Black Kraken Nebula by Ork raiders. It is the pirate Kaptin Durg da Redklaw, who has been terrorising the shipping lanes and preying upon passing merchant vessels. The action is close-ranged, for the inky murk is impossible to see through and deadens the readings of the few sensors carried aboard any of the Ork voidcraft. Rams, boarding actions and point-blank firing will decide the outcome. It is at this stage that Redklaw realises whose forces he is fighting and orders a ceasefire. Pleased with the way he fought, Ghazghkull welcomes him to the WAAAGH!.
- The Octarian System Overrun (793.999.M41) - As they enter the Octarian System, the Orks notice that something isn't right. It was not uncommon to see debris floating in greenskin territory -- but anything that could prove worthwhile as scrap is quickly salvaged. What their fleet passed by was like an empty graveyard of broken Ork spacecraft. Many of the voidships have had their hulls shattered or melted away as if doused in steel-eating acid. A few floating spore-ships are sighted and many of the Orks who have met Tyranids before advise Ghazghkull about what they are sure to find ahead.
- Planetstrike Octaria (836.999.M41) - To reach orbit over the planet of Octaria the Ork fleet is forced to shoot their way through a blockade of Tyranid bio-ships. Strange purplish clouds cover the orb, as Tyranid spores infest the upper atmosphere. Sending forth his few dropships, Ghazghkull also releases his Roks –- scattering them across the mega-continent. He himself joins the battle via tellyporta.
- The Overfiend Delivered (851.999.M41) - After much hard fighting, the planet of Octaria is deemed clear of Tyranids. Zog Steeltooth, the new Overfiend of Octarius, declares his allegiance to Ghazghkull. Already, Orks from all over the realm and beyond are pouring in, drawn to the massive build-up of psychic WAAAGH! energy.
- Patched Up By Mad Dok Grotsnik (851.999.M41) - Although he doesn’t show it in front of the Boyz, Ghazghkull's fight with the Mawloc had come close to finishing him off. He suffered the worst injuries he had sustained since taking a Leman Russ Tank Battle Cannon round in the midriff. Acid burns had eaten away at his armour, scouring his flesh. Worse still, a large spine of some sort would have to be removed -- it had pierced his Mega Armour and penetrated his body. Harder than bone, the enormous spike will not come out no matter how many Nobz Mad Dok Grotsnik has helping to pull it. In a flash of genius the Dok brings in Orkimedes, who suggests removing the spike via traktor beam. This does not draw out the object, but does vacuum up a good portion of Ghazghkull's guts temporarily, which have to be hastily reversed before he notices. At long last, with the aid of a buzzsaw and a Deff Dread with Magna-Claw grips, they manage to removed the enormous spike. To everyone's amazement Ghazghkull "takes it easy" for at least a solar hour or two before growling orders in his normal ferocious tone. Later that day, when he headbutts a Squiggoth that will not get out of his way, everyone knows their Warlord is recovered.
- Galactic Green Wave (852.999.M41) - It is a dangerous thing for war-crazed Orks to gather in excited frenzy without immediate battle to release their pent-up aggression. So many Orks gather upon Octaria -- migrating from all over towards the siren call of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull -- that they overpower Ghazghkull's Madboyz Mob with the overflow of psychic energies. In turn, the power-drunk Madboyz vomit forth a great green wave of psychic force that ripples outwards to the far ends of the galaxy and back. This phenomenon registers with every Warp-sensitive soul in the Imperium, echoing in the Immaterium and sending shivers of fear through all who recognise its significance. The largest WAAAGH! seen in over eight thousand standard years of the Imperium's history is getting bigger. Now that it is growing from different points in the galaxy it is attracting Orks from an unbelievably wide range of territories.
- The Tyranids Return (865.999.M41) - Just like Ghazghkull Thraka, the Tyranid Hive Mind is known for learning from past battles. New tactics and creatures had been evolved and at this time they were unleashed. As the Ork fleet and bio-ships clash in space, the assault rains down upon Octaria. The Tyranid attack waves are of an intensity that has never been seen before. Once more the planet shakes to the sounds of unending battle.
- Messages to Armageddon (886.999.M41) - In between leading attacks into the Tyranid masses on Octaria, Ghazghkull checks on his ladz back on Armageddon. Shifting his mind to the Great Green, Ghazghkull witnesses Zagboss Skargrim carve another notch on the barrel of his Warbike's Dakkagunz to mark another Astra Militarum battalion ridden down and destroyed. In his most threatening voice, Ghazghkull warns Zagboss that it is the Space Marines that he needs to worry about, and if he really wants to earn his favour, he'd better start hunting them. Pleased with the look of awe and admiration on the Evil Sunz Warlord's face, Ghazghkull briefly visits each of his ruling commanders, dispensing tactical advice, dropping in a few grunts of well-deserved acclaim, and admonishing those that were not driving their troops as hard as they ought. Orkimedes believes he will soon perfect the tellyporta so that Ghazghkull can transport himself all the way back to Armageddon as quick as you could stomp a grot. Naturally, Ghazghkull does not tell any of his subordinates this news. If they thought hearing his voice was awe-inspiring -- just wait until he turned up beside them barking orders...
The Ultimate Warlord
When the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Mankind first encountered Ghazghkull, its leaders presumed he was like all the other Ork Warlords before him. Perhaps he was larger and stronger than most, but no more than that. After several battles, they begrudgingly granted that Ghazghkull possessed more beast-like cunning than was exhibited by the other leaders of his savage species, but they still gave him little credence.
A very few of his human antagonists started to grasp the magnitude of Ghazghkull's ambition, but only by the time of the Third War for Armageddon did they realise that this was an Ork Warlord beyond any they had previously encountered. Those opponents who have underestimated Ghazghkull only do so once, for they rarely survive contact with the Warlord. The few fortunate enough to escape speak of raw power and armies beyond count -- all guided by the same grand vision.
Unlike other Orks, Ghazghkull has shown a remarkable ability to learn from his failures -- with each fight, he grows stronger and more cunning. Over the years, he has refined his tactics, devising new strategies based on his observations in previous battles.
More ominous still for his foes, Ghazghkull has developed the ability to experiment -- to test out new concepts in order to better hone them. Whether the voices Ghazghkull hears in his head are truly those of Gork and Mork is unknown. What cannot be gainsaid, however, is that the canny Ork appears to have some prescient ability. Time and again, the Ork Warlord appears in exactly the right place, at the right time.
Ghazghkull has proven to be a master strategist, the greatest of his kind. He outmanoeuvres his enemies, steamrolling over their assaults and sidestepping their carefully laid traps as if anticipating them in advance. In his lengthy campaigns, Ghazghkull has shown to be a masterful organiser whose prepared assaults rival the meticulous battle plans of the Astra Militarum.
However, there is nothing of the hidebound tactician in Ghazghkull, for he is an innovator and a cunning opportunist, ever ready to shift his troops to exploit any sudden weakness an opponent might present. And there are no fighters more brutal –- more joyous in the act of crushing their foes –- than the raucous, battle-loving warriors of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull.
As some of the Imperium's foremost tactical minds have already learned, Ghazghkull is their strategic match –- or more. But the news grows worse for those that would oppose the oncoming green wave. Ghazghkull's hordes are growing in number and skill, and he is gathering under his sway not just mindless followers, eager to do his bidding, but also mighty Warlords who would not bow before any other Ork's dominion save for Ghazghkull's.
Confident in his own matchless superiority, Ghazghkull has avoided a common pitfall amongst his green-skinned kind -- that of attempting to do everything himself. Other Warlords feel they must always lead from the front, spearheading all attacks, while keeping as watchful an eye on their own lieutenants as they do upon the enemy; after all, it is a personal disaster for a Warlord to be surpassed in deeds by any of his underlings.
By contrast, Ghazghkull's authority is so absolute that he need not display such caution. Instead, he cunningly deploys his forces to where their talents are best used, exemplifying his age-old maxim: "Don't send a Speed Freek to do a Dread Mob's job."
Due to Ghazghkull's strategic prowess, his ability to adapt, and the sheer force of his character, he now leads the largest force of greenskins seen in millennia. This Great WAAAGH! is poised not just to ravage a few planets or trample a star system or two; it is on a course to conquer the entire galaxy!
Makari was an exceptionally lucky Grot who survived to the ripe old age of nine standard years before finally meeting his accidental end under the posterior of his hulking master.
The plucky Gretchin served as self-appointed banner-waver to the mighty Ghazghkull Thraka himself, surviving countless battles in ever more improbable ways.
Ghazghkull saw Makari as something of a mascot. Thus, when the Grot's remains were peeled off his boss' rear end, Makari's wavin' stikk was reclaimed, hosed down, and went into service as an impressive Bosspole.
Good fortune still surrounds Da Lucky Stikk, though the backlash when things go wrong can be surprisingly brutal.
Mobs of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull
WAAAGH! Ghazghkull had grown impossibly large, but during his first invasion of Armageddon, the greenskins primarily came from Urk and its surroundings. Ghazghkull has bound the varied tribes to his own vision of rampant destruction, and while he can get the most out of any greenskin, there are certain mobs or warbands he prefers over all others.
Dynamos of the WAAAGH!
Despite what the growing Ork legends said, the true genius of Ghazghkull Thraka had nothing to do with his rock-splitting headbutt. What really set Ghazghkull apart was his leadership. It was his gift to get the best out of every Ork that made him so dangerous. Few Warlords can mesh the different klanz, playing each to its strengths, rather than leaving them to work towards their own narrow-minded proclivities. Though Ghazghkull liked a hardened fighting core of Goff warriors, he always picked the right tool for the task at hand. However, he did not do so alone, for Ghazghkull also had an eye for spotting Orks destined for greatness.
Scattered about WAAAGH! Ghazghkull were a range of the most talented Orks to stalk the galaxy. This was not a formal council, but a loose ring of the most powerful and influential Warbosses from the tribes, along with the most over-achieving Oddboyz. Perhaps the most famous amongst this group was Orkimedes, the genius Mek behind such inventions as Tellyporta technology and attack 'ubmersibles. When he remained lucid, Mad Dok Grotsnik was also in this group, as was the Evil Sunz Warlord Zagboss Skargrim, the aged, but still mighty, Snakebite Grand Tusk Chieftain Molok, militant-minded Kommandant Klank of the Blood Axes, Nazdreg of the Bad Moons, and perhaps a dozen others. Even when Ghazghkull was not nearby, these dynamic lieutenants acted in his name, ensuring his plans were carried through. In essence, they became the right hands of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull.
To any non-greenskin, Ork armies are barbaric and anarchic hordes -- a ragtag assembly with no rhyme or reason. Orks are extremely hierarchical, however, and though they may appear to be shambolic hordes, any WAAAGH! has a strict ordering and takes on the character of the Ork who leads it.
As his WAAAGH! has grown so large, Ghazghkull relies upon a hardened core of mobs and warbands. These forces are organised in the way the Great Prophet of Gork and Mork prefers; their leaders have learned to fight using their own aggressive initiative, but also tactics and cunning instilled by their mastermind leader. These are warriors, mobs and formations that draw the most difficult and brutal of tasks, spearheading key assaults or attacking vital positions.
Though Orks rarely go to the trouble of distinguishing between forces of different sizes, the following are common Imperial designations used when estimating the size and relative threat of greenskin incursions:
- Mob - Ork equivalent of a squad.
- Warband - Many mobs groups together under the leadership of a Warboss.
- Warhorde - Many warbands grouped together under the overall leadership of a Warlord.
Orks of the Goff klan are identified by their preference for black and red wargear, and their symbol, the Horned Bull. Goffs are straightforward and grim; they eschew flashy colours, but do go for bold glyphs and check patterns.
Unlike other klanz, Goffs take good care of the tools of their trade -- their weapons. Being a Goff himself, Ghazghkull preferred to use battle-hardened mobs of Goffs whenever he could.
Goff Infantry includes the following forces:
- Ulk (Nob)
- 20 Boyz
- Bulzak (Warboss)
- Bullzeyes (30 Boyz)
- Hornhelmz (30 Boyz)
- Furk's Trukk Boyz (10 Boyz in Trukk)
- Ripkill (Deff Dread)
- Gitstomp (Gorkanaut)
GRAND WARLORD GHULG's WARHORDE
- Ghulg (Warboss)
- Krim's Krumpaz (200 infantry)
- Bloody Choppaz (150 infantry)
- Steelheadz (100 infantry)
- Durk's Dreads (Dread Mob)
- Godkrakka (Stompa)
Ghazghkull values mobility, so it is no suprise that at the heart of his WAAAGH! can be found many Blitz Brigades –- motorised columns of Trukks and Battlewagons, each carrying a bloodthirsty mob of Orks. While all the klanz are represented, Ghazghkull puts extra stock in those from his own klan, the Goff Blitzboyz.
Goff Blitzboyz may not be as fast as the more infamous Speed Freeks of the Evil Sunz, but they pack more of a punch when they hit. Goffs particularly favour Battlewagons with Deff Rollas or reinforced rams -- even more so if those rams are shaped like the classic Goff horn symbol.
Their infantry are loaded down with weapons; they have learned to carry extras, as the tuck and roll of rapid deployment and the sheer impetus of their assaults has been known to knock a few loose.
- Gurgat (Nob)
- 20 Boyz
- Da Meatwagon (Battlewagon)
BLACK DEFF BLITZ BRIGADE
- Zog Blackclaw (Warboss)
- 5 Battlewagons with deff rollas (each with Boyz mob)
KRAGRAK'S BLITZDAKKA WARBAND
- Kragrak (Warboss)
- 2 Trukks (each with Boyz mob)
- 3 Battlewagons with deff rollas (each with Boyz mob)
- 2 Wartrakks
- 10 Nobz with warbike
- 1 Dakkajet
KROKSNIK'S DEFF TRAKK TRIBE
- Kroksnik (Warboss)
- 4 Warbands
- 32 Battle Fortresses
Ugrak's Uglies are part of a battle-hardened and fighty core of Goffs that form the centre of WAAAGH! Ghazghkull. Ugrak was a Goff champion who led a Nobz mob on Urk. After a thunderous headbutt from Ghazghkull, he saw the light (many lights, actually) and, when he recovered, Ugrak pledged his red Power Klaw to the hardest hitting Warlord he had ever met.
It was aboard Wurld Killa, after one of the many battles against daemonic attacks, that Ugrak kitted himself and his Nobz mob with Mega Armour. Having risen in prominence since then, Ugrak now leads an entire Goff warband -- da Uglies.
They are relentless footslogging infantry, with Boyz and Nobz in 'eavy armour -- often much scratched and worn by the rigours of close combat. At various times, Ugrak's Uglies have acted as Ghazghkull's personal bodyguard, and they had the honour of leading the spearhead attack that helped break down the final blast door of Hades Hive.
Like a traditional Goff, Ghazghkull places a greater value on brutal close-range violence than the Warlord of any other Ork klan. This being the case, it is no surprise that WAAAGH! Ghazghkull attracts the 'ardest of da 'ard'. A profusion of Killa Kanz, Deff Dreads and even larger walkers can be found fighting alongside or amidst the Goff infantry. These metal monstrosities clank along amidst the Boyz mobs, greatly augmenting their hitting power. Ghazghkull has learned through experience (if not the whispered leadings of the Gods themselves) to mob his Killa Kans and Deff Dreads together into armoured wedges –- smoke-spewing, lurching units that can stomp down enemy hordes or hack through enemy elites. Although Ghazghkull will find a place in his plans for any of these so-called "Dread Mobs", he favours those of his own klan.
While it is true that Goffs despise lowly Gretchin, most have learned a grudging respect for those that manage to pilot a Killa Kan. In these hulking metal husks, the Gretchin are not scrawny weaklings, but death-dealing bruisers capable of the Ork ideal: blasting, stomping and mauling foes into an indistinguishable pulpy mass. For this reason, Killa Kanz are readily accepted into Goff warbands as well as the formidable Dread Mobs. Of course, it is possible that many Goff Boyz simply don't know that there is a grot inside such an excellent killing machine.
KRUD'S KANS DREAD MOB
- Krud (Big Mek)
- Gulgrob (Painboy)
- 3 Deff Dreads
- 3 Killa Kan mobs
- 2 Morkanauts
BLACKHORNZ DREAD MOB
- Snarga Lugnutz (Big Mek)
- Gragrok (Painboy)
- 3 Deff Dreads
- 3 Killa Kan mobs
- 2 Gorkanauts
STOMPY DEFF DREAD MOB
- Gurk (Big Mek)
- Dok Morgrod (Painboy)
- 3 Deff Dreads
- 3 Killa Kan mobs
"I knew I krushed sumfing big n' good, because I felt da Mangler lurch. You can't hardly feel it when ya run over da little fings at all."
- —Kaptin Grok
Who knows what the Gorkanaut named "da Mangler" was called before the Battle of Black Krater during the latter stages of the Third Armageddon War? Whatever it was, that moniker has been long forgotten, replaced with a new title earned in blood and glory. After the blocky metal death machine single-handedly halted a humie counter-attack, it drove into their midst. The awestruck Ork Boyz who followed in its wake were well impressed with the trail of destruction the war engine left behind. They passed flipped-over armoured personnel carriers, their hulls ripped open and the humies inside crushed flat. A swathe of foes lay ripped apart -- evidence of the aptly named deffstorm mega-shoota. Closer to hand, entire squads of enemy soldiers lay in ruin, from which the gory trackmarks of the Gorkanaut rolled on.
At last catching up to the hard-driving war engine, the Orks witnessed such a display of violence unleashed that day that they stood agog. The Gorkanaut broke through the defensive line, scattering the humie guns and equipment and thrusting its klaw of Gork straight into an Imperial bunker. The screams of the dying were soon overcome by the chanting praise of the Orks. Cries of "Mang-gler, Mang-gler, Mang-gler" followed the iron-plated beast as it rampaged through the foe. It was the name that would stick and has been chanted on many battlefields since.
The pilot of da Mangler is a hulking Nob named Kaptin Grok. In typical Goff fashion, Grok has not let the fact that his Gorkanaut is worshipped as a god go to his head. Instead, he continues to demand the utmost from his krew and reminds the mobs that follow him into battle that "Dey ain't seen nuffink yet." Such words might seem like self-aggrandisement to another, more flashy Ork clan, but Grok backs up these sentiments in every battle. When last seen, da Mangler had joined Big Mek Gurk's Stompy Deff Dread Mob -– they were headed off to rack up tank kills on the Ash Wastes.
"A swarm of mechanised locusts sweeping over the land, stripping it bare of resources, bringing death and destruction to anything that stands in its path. Emperor preserve us against the predations of these so-called Orkish Cults of Speed."
- — Cardinal Nomura at the Conclave of Hessen
Ghazghkull's new WAAAGH! during the Third War for Armageddon attacked the Hive World in a fiery and destructive fashion. In addition to the new tactics and ploys unleashed by Ghazghkull, he also used specially composed shock assault forces to assail his foes.
One such specialty assault force were the Speed Freeks, a group of Orks addicted to speed. When they go to war, Speed Freeks do so mounted atop Warbikes, Warbuggies, Trukks or anything that can get them to the battle fast. During his second invasion of Armageddon, Ghazghkull marshalled and released his Speed Freeks to create maximum havoc amongst his foes. Whether deployed in mobs, warbands or even larger formations, Speed Freeks combine quick mobility with hard-hitting offensive capabilities.
- Badzag (Warboss on warbike)
- Badzag’s Riderz (6 Nobz on warbikes)
- Red Deff (10 Warbikers)
- Sneg Bloodsplat (Warboss)
- Red Raiderz (15 Warbikers)
- Fug's Riderz (10 Warbikers)
- Thwoppa Deff (2 Deffkoptas)
- Axl's Boyz (10 Boyz in Trukk)
- Zagnut's Hunta (Dakkajet)
GRAND WALORD GURTAK'S GO FASTA WARHORDE
- Grand Warlord Gurtak (Warboss)
- 18 Kult of Speed warbands
"Half-glimpsed shadows? Orks wearing camouflage? Do you take us for imbeciles? Orks are barbaric and entirely single-minded. Army doctrine, which has served us well for ten thousand years, teaches us this. Orks come on in a great horde, they do not slink and sneak in the shade."
- — Extract from transcript of Court Martial investigating the fall of Lathir Outpost
Although he is a Goff, unlike most hidebound WAAAGH!-leaders, Ghazghkull's true genius is that he has embraced all aspects of greenskin warfare. This may be due to the divine touch of Gork and Mork, or simply proof that he is the most tactically-minded Ork of all time.
Kommandoz are hand-picked troops that range ahead of the main hordes, scouting out enemy positions or performing daring raids behind enemy lines. They are typically deployed in formations of one or two mobs, but Ghazghkull has been known to mass even more for such missions as destroying supply dumps, breaking into hive cities or dismantling enemy artillery.
Kommandoz are almost exclusive to the Blood Axes klan -– those sneaky, 'umie-loving Orks that favour camouflage and elaborate strategic plans. Kommandoz work well in Goff warbands, as they have great respect for fighting skill and discipline.
The Flashblades, the blue-and-white-checked warriors of Dazkrit's Killaz, and the tiger-striped Bloodfangz have all earned a fearsome reputation fighting for WAAAGH! Ghazghkull. Of all the Kommando mobs Ghazghkull ever employed, none have garnered more fame than Boss Snikrot and his Red Skull Kommandoz. To this day, they still haunt the shadows of Armageddon.
BULRAG'S FIGHTIN' FIFTH
- Bulrag (Boss Nob)
- 4 Kommandos
- 2 Kommando mobs
- 1 Deff Dread
RED SKULL KOMMANDOS
- Boss Snikrot
- 4 Kommando mobs
"Nuffink better than da sound of a rokkit krumpin' tank armour –- 'cept maybe da screamin' that comes outta da burny wrecks."
- — Warboss Dregtoof, notorious Tankhunta
On the ash wastes of Armageddon, Ghazghkull found his mobile Blitz Brigades and even his Stompa Mobs were being hunted by fast-moving Imperial Sentinels, or stalled by mobile counter-attacks from mechanised guardsmen. To combat these enemies without slowing down the main thrust of his advances, Ghazghkull ordered his flanks protected by mobs of Trukk and Battlewagon-mounted Heavy Huntaz, their firepower augmented with a few rokkit-armed Warbuggies.
Most of these mobs were small in size, allowing them to respond quickly to different threats to the main armies' flanks. Upon sighting their foes, the transports would peel off and the troops within would deploy at breakneck speeds -- Tankbustas mobs or Lootas soon tracking the Imperial light vehicles.
Almost before their feet touched the ground, the Tankbustas would launch a barrage of rokkits towards their foe, easily ripping apart the enemies' light walkers or transport vehicles. Although Lootas needed to plant their feet before firing, the first salvo of shots from their deffguns could rake through whole Sentinel squadrons, cutting off their long gangly legs or, better yet, exploding them into fireballs.
Such countermeasures proved extremely effective, and soon more and more light detachments of Heavy Huntaz mobs secured the flanks of all larger warhordes.
RED ROKKITS HEAVY HUNTAZ
- 1 Tankbustas mob in Battlewagon
- 1 mob of Lootas in Trukk
DREGTOOF'S HEAVY HUNTAZ
- Dregtoof (Warboss)
- 2 Tankbustas mobs in Trukks
- 1 mob of Lootas in Battlewagon
- 2 Warbuggies
"I'd check those readings again. We've got a clear field of vision with no sign of greenskins –- not even through the magnoculars. Wait... There was a green flash. No, that can't be possible! How did they get there? So many..."
- — Last transmission from Observation Bunker 216
Ghazghkull first used Tellyporta technology after his alliance with Nazdreg. Later perfected by the mad Mek known as Orkimedes, the Tellyporta was a key part of Ghazghkull's second invasion of Armageddon. Ultimately, all sorts of troops and equipment would be teleported onto the planet, but the first and foremost were carefully chosen Tellyporta Mobs.
It was their duty to strike fast and hard, driving foes away from the Roks' homing signals. Nobz in Mega Armour were almost always included in the first wave of troops arriving via Tellyporta. Heavily armoured, these powerhouses would materialise with guns blazing –- often using their Kombi-weapons to ensure that their first volley packed the deadliest punch possible. After dousing the target with a good spray of Shoota fire, the Meganobz would wade into combat, hacking down any who dared stand their ground.
It was Ghazghkull's intention to use his tellyporta mobs to counter the Space Marine offensives which had blighted his first campaign at Armageddon. Indeed, some of his mobs were designated Marine-killas –- their troops outfitted with twin killsaws or special one-shot rokkits to aid in defeating the Space Marines' Power Armour.
- Krigg (Warboss in Mega Armour)
- 1 Meganobz mob
Ghazghkull likes to hit his foes hard and fast and few other troops are as brutally effective at this type of lightning warfare as Stormboyz. In WAAAGH! Ghazghkull, mobs of Stormboyz are a common feature in many Ork warbands.
Their military-minded way of thinking fits in perfectly with those in the Goff klan. Stormboyz use their Rokkit Packs to launch swift strikes against their enemies –- either assaulting key objectives, taking out vulnerable foes, or, at the least, causing a nuisance that allows the rest of the mobs to move up in range to swing their Choppas.
After claiming to see visions of Gork's anger descending like a bolt from the skies, Ghazghkull had the bright idea to mass his Stormboyz. He first attempted this with some success during the later stages of the Second War for Armageddon, and since then it has become a proven part of his assault plans.
There are few shock assaults more devastating than many mobs of Stormboyz hurtling out of the skies all at once. Without exception, these Stormboyz squads aspire to live long enough to make as big a name for themselves as the infamous Zagstruk and his Vulcha Skwad.
It is not unusual for Stormboyz in WAAAGH! Ghazghkull to bear the extra black and white checks associated with Goff mobs or a variant of Ghazghkull's personal symbol -– perhaps emblazoned with rokkit fuel or marked by lightning bolts.
The Choppa Storm have even developed a rude militaristic marching song which they bellow as they descend to battle, although mercifully the words are typically drowned out by the roar of their Rokkit Packs.
- Krooga (Boss Nob)
- 14 Stormboyz
- Tora (Boss Nob)
- Tora's Terraz (Stormboyz mob)
- Gerruff's Jumpboyz (Stormboyz mob)
- Deffrokkits (Stormboyz mob)
Da Goff Guard
Battle-scarred and grim, only the hardest of the hard have what it takes to join the Goff Guard. Some of the Orks in Da Goff Guard came from Urk and have stuck by their Warlord through all his many travels. Wherever Ghazghkull can be found, it's rare if Da Goff Guard aren't close to hand.
Rightfully proud to be associated with "da Greatest Greenskin ta live n' breathe", there are a profusion of back banners, Goff symbols and the Ghazghkull horn-silhouettes amongst Da Goff Guard. Where Ghazghkull leads, da Goff Guard follow.
When Ghazghkull smashed down the final blast door and charged the last defences of Hades Hive, it was the Goff Guard that followed. When the Prophet of Gork and Mork cut deep into the Tyranids on Octaria, it was the black armoured might of the Goff Guard that chopped their way behind him.
During his first invasion of Armageddon the Goff Guard took so many banners and Aquila-topped standards from the Astra Militarum and Adeptus Astartes that they piled them and made a bonfire visible from orbit -– that last bit may be a tall tale they spread around the camps, but who is going to dispute the biggest and baddest Orks who also happen to have the favour of the mightiest of them all -– Ghazghkull himself?
- Gurk (Nob)
- 30 Boyz in 'eavy armour
- 10 Meganobz with bosspoles
- Ugrak, Durg Redklaw, Surk, da Mighty Bulg, Urgok da Slayer (5 Warbosses)
- 3 Nobz Mobs
- 3 Meganobz Mobs
- Stompa Mob
- Dread Mob
- Ghazghkull's Super-'eavy Battlewagon
- 4 Warbands
- 4 Gorkanauts
Ghazghkull first appeared in White Dwarf 134. He was the "Warboss" of Andy Chambers' sample Goff army list (notably the weaker of two possible choices for the leader of an Ork army at the time, the other being a "Warlord"); his "attributes" of an adamantium skull and the ability to call on the WAAAGH! were randomly generated -- although at the time they merely conferred an extra headbutt attack in close combat and a minor psychic power, called Hammerhand, that doubled his attacks once per game.
The first Ghazghkull model was an in-house conversion. Ghazghkull's next appearance was in the Battle for Armageddon board game, based around the events of the Second War for Armageddon, featured opposite Commissar Yarrick.
Inspired by the game's backstory, Jervis Johnson wrote up special rules for the two characters' use in Warhammer 40,000 and Epic 40,000 games, making Ghazghkull one of the first two "special characters" ever released by Games Workshop. The special rules were based on the random attributes selected by Andy Chambers back at Ghazghkull's first appearance.
Rules for Ghazghkull appeared in the Third Edition of Warhammer 40,000, and a new model was created for the worldwide campaign organised around the the Third War for Armageddon. The rules were updated to reflect Ghazghkull at a point just prior to the outbreak of the Third War.
It was once a popular theory that the character of Ghazghkull was based on the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher who was infamous for her aggressive personality in Britain in the 1980s. This was because of the character's surname -- Mag Uruk Thraka.
As the early editions of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battle often contained elements of comedy or real-world satire or parody, this seemed a real possibility.
However, Andy Chambers later revealed that in fact the name had emerged from his gaming group's practices while live action roleplaying.
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition), pp. 24-25
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 63
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition), pp. 76-78, 82-83, 86-89, 130, 154, 190-192, 218
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 58
- Codex: Orks (3rd Edition), pg. 40
- Codex: Orks (2nd Edition), pp. 66-67
- Ere' We Go (1st Edition), pp. 34, 36-37, 48
- Epic Armageddon, pp. 62-69, 136-139
- Gathering Storm - Part III - Rise of the Primarch (7th Edition), pg. 27
- Waaagh! Ghazghkull - A Codex: Orks Supplement (7th Edition) (Digital Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 193
- Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha (Novel) by David Annandale
- Warhammer Visions 16, pp. 146-148
- White Dwarf 249 (AUS), "Best of Enemies"
- White Dwarf 248 (AUS), "Power of Da Waaagh!"
- White Dwarf 227 (US), "Chapter Approved: Orks - Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, Mighty Goff Warlord and Leader of the Waaagh!: Warboss," pp. 73-80
- White Dwarf 176 (US), "Ork Special Characters: Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka," pp. 38-43
- White Dwarf 152 (US), "Commissar Yarrick and Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka," pp. 14-22
- White Dwarf 134 (US), "Waa Ghazghkull Tarknash: Sample Goff Ork Warband - The Warboss and Retinue, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka," by Andy Chambers, pp. 35-43