Data Slate Damaged
Data Fragment Retrieved
My Lord Inquisitor, in the name of Him on Earth, I welcome you to the Keller-Reach Cluster.
My master has bid me prepare a brief summary of the threats facing the God-Emperor’s servants in this region of His realm. I shall thus start with the largest and most persistent menace: The Shtrafbat.
The Shtrafbat are the force responsible for the ongoing conflict referred to as the Blood Wars in the Colonies region of the Cluster with periodic incursions deeper into the more settled Middlelands territory. As you are no doubt aware, the Shtrafbat are a war-cult dedicated to the worship of the Blood God, operating from a network of planets and habitats beyond the edge of charted space. The Imperial Navy and several contracted Rogue Traders have been assigned to cutting off the Shtrafbat from logistical support but have as yet failed to achieve sufficient impact to affect the enemy on the ground - void assets of the Shtrafbat are few in number and loathe to engage our own ships in combat, instead performing hit- and-fade attacks or covert supply drops.
On the ground the Shtrafbat are a hybrid force of the archetypical crazed assault forces in the service of the Dark Powers mixed with more esoteric and disciplined formations believed to originate in conventional backgrounds such as traitor elements of the Astra Militarum. The typical first wave of any attack by the Shtrafbat is composed mostly of what are commonly referred to as “Chargers”, a type of zombie fueled by pure rage and warp-magic. Broadly similar to the shambling poxwalkers of the Plague God, these are reanimated corpses of the dead from both sides, but while the poxwalkers are slow and dull-witted, the variant used by the Shtrafbat is disconcertingly quick and aggressive. These abominations approach at a dead run, moving as fast as their ravaged bodies will allow and attacking with a mindless fury that is shocking even for hardened guardsmen. As with poxwalkers and plague zombie types, the only truly effective ways to put down a Charger is destruction of the head or total dismemberment of the body. Unsurprisingly, those killed or wounded by the Chargers will themselves become Chargers and turn on their former comrades without hesitation. This effect is both corrosive to morale and accelerates attrition in frontline units. This problem is exacerbated by the tendency of the Shtrafbat to “go recruiting” by targeting civilian population centers for attack, turning our own population against us.
Behind the Chargers comes the second wave, which is where the mixed nature of the Shtrafbat becomes more apparent and more repellent. Not everyone captured by the Shtrafbat will be killed immediately and converted into a Charger. Instead, captive civilians and any prisoners of war are subjected to cruel and foul rituals whereupon they are befouled by warpcraft, doomed to slip into ever deeper corruption and to rise up after death as a Charger. These Cursed are herded into mass formations and given basic weapons lashed to their hands and herded towards Imperial positions as cannon fodder. Most will die and rise up again, but they will wear down our positions and consume valuable resources before they finally die. Intermixed with these Cursed groups are often collections of feral beastmen, abhuman assault squads, war-beasts of every stripe and mutants with heavy weapons that will try to exploit the shielding effect of the Cursed to close in and engage our forces from advantageous positions. Inaccurate and simple massed artillery is often deployed in support of the Cursed with little regard for friendly fire as those casualties of errant shells and rockets will simply get back up and hurl themselves forward anyway.
Between the Chargers and the Cursed, this represents the bulk of the Shtrafbat strength and were there nothing more to that Emperor-damned army, they would be little better than skirmishing suicide squads on the frontier. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There exists a hardcore central faction to the Shtrafbat that maintains discipline in the ranks, directs the Chargers and Cursed to maximum effect and displays focused tactical, operational and strategic planning. These elements are typically referred to as the Blacklegs due to the color of their armor and fatigues on their lower extremities.
The Blacklegs are composed of hardened survivors who’ve climbed the ranks of the Cursed, been recruited from other cult forces or Traitor Guard factions. Armed with lasguns, autoguns and special weapons as well as flak armor and rebreathers, the Blacklegs are the only members of the Shtrafbat to enjoy the use of widespread if small-scale mechanized transport, armor, or air support. As such, the Blacklegs enjoy a status approaching elite and are deployed sparingly and to maximum effect as infiltrators, kill-teams and saboteurs to facilitate the breakthrough and advance of the hordes of Chargers and Cursed. When faced with overwhelming strength, or with a losing battle, the Blacklegs have shown a regular propensity for retreats to preserve important materiel, veteran elements, and supplies that is at odds with the frenzied methods so often seen in other war cults.
So, this is an old idea of mine that I pick away at, return to, forget about, remember, return to, and pick away at again since at least 2007.
I need to develop their leadership and culture and find a better name for the Rage Zombies besides Charger or Rage Zombie, and refine what I've got already. Any CC or feedback is always welcome.