The Hecstone massacre
While Khai-Zhan is primarily an agricultural planet, the eastern wastelands are home to extensive mining operations, including the highly priced adamantium used in construction of terminator armor and tanks. These mines were an early target of renegade actions, with instigators working to bring the miner unions over to the renegades.
Unfortunately for the imperial government, the abyssal work environment, proliferation of using convicts, mutants and political enemies as workers, and the high dosage of work-enhancing drugs made this an easy task for the charismatic instigators.
On the day of infamy, when the rebellion broke out in full, renegade mobile units thundered out of wastelands surrounding Hecstone mining HQ, the centre of the adamantium mining operations.
The 55th KZ-PDF, tasked with defending Hecstone, was at half strength, with half the company visiting Vogen City to join the celebration of Governor Kadulus’ 150th birthday. With most of their motor-pool used for transporting the half-company to Vogen, the surprised guardsmen struggled to engage the technicals, motorbikes and armored cars of the renegades in the wastelands. Pulling back from their base, they entered the mining area itself.
That is when the renegade trap was sprung. Mining charges buried in the ground blasted apart entire platoons. Then the miners charged out of the mines, some armed with smuggled weaponry, but most using their tools. Riding bulldozers and excavators, and pumped full of drugs, they hit the dazed remnants of the 55th in a human wave. Not a single man made it out of the trap.
As the war dragged on in earnest, and the imperials regained the initiative, the Hecstone adamantium mines became a priority target. However, Hecstone had been turned into a renegade strongpoint. The countless underground tunnels now bound together to form a fortified network of bunkers, pillboxes and foxholes. The initial imperial force took horrendous casualties trying to fight the illusive renegades.
The imperials realized that they could not take back the mines without going into the tunnels. This was not an easy task however, the pitch black, claustrophobic tunnels lined with traps and renegade miners, heretics and mutants chewed on the nerves and ranks of normal troops, leaving entire regiments drained of fighting men. That is when the tunnel rat companies were founded.
Veterans of PDF mountain rangers, already some of the best forces of the PDF, were gathered in specialized squads. Armed with shotguns, flamers and melta-guns, and with specialized support pieces like heavy weapon servitors and Hades drills, they finally started to push back the renegades, taking the fight deep into the mine fortress itself.
These guys are ten plus year old conversions that were half-painted for the same time with white armor. The conversions are not super great, but they have character, and with a new black and tan color scheme, I think they turned out well as a tunnel fighter veteran squad. The sergeant in particular turned out pretty hardcore IMO, with his riot shield (useful when breaching enemy tunnels), extra armour plates and chunky powerfist.
I also found a bunch of servitors I had never painted. I needed one with a heavy flamer to make a squad of ten veterans as I had originally planned a decade ago, and I painted up the multi-melta guys at the same time to knock off some backlog. They were surprisingly a joy to paint, really great and characterful minis with lots of 40k charm about them.
At some point, I will try to fight out some of the brutal tunnel fights at Hecstone on the tabletop, maybe as space-hulk style missions with these guys as the protagonists.