Basically we wanted to try and make a form of JCB originally as a piece of scenery for our battles. We decided to use an Academy 1/35 StuG IV model kit, we wanted really to make some form of "crane-tank".
We did fall in love with the model though, although the side armour just didn't work for us. The instructions are a bit mystical in places, although when you're hybriding you tend to pick-and-choose anyway.
The back story for this was that this was a tank run by "the clean up crew". They're basically scrap merchants who comb through the aftermath of a battle, looking for anything they can salvage. They hang anything they thing has use off the back, and can even tow any semi-working vehicle with them. But otherwise they keep a loose collection of bits off the back, with any trinkets kept inside.
I wanted to replace the turret with a crane, but (a) it seems impossible to buy a crane kit and (b) the gun just looks so cool! We fitted the tank with some flamers, reasoning that if they came across any infantry, they'd want to just flame them out of the way. But in the face of another tank, they'd want to run away.
With so much flame, the name Dragon seemed only appropriate, indeed there seemed an entire backstory to the salvager guy who ran that tank and made a living scouring battle sites ...
Meet Durgan ...
I grew up on the agri-world of Kenzel V on me parents farm. There was an extended group of us, but we had to be pretty self-sufficient. Never been much of the farming kind, but the machinery – now that had me interested. The family tractor had a few quirks, so there was a lot to learn servicing it and keeping it running. It was a good life, and I have a lot of fond memories, but it wasn’t to last.
It all ended when I was 10 and the sky turned black one afternoon near harvest … it’d come out of the blue. We’d never heard of Tyranids before, it’s not a name now I’m soon to forget. Before we knew it, spores were falling onto the farm. They cracked open, and that yell they gave… before I knew it, all hell broke loose. We were running to the stormshelter when the Valkeries from the nearby garrison came overhead.
Explosions rocked everywhere. I was knocked unconscious with my family, but woke up an orphan. Yeah, life has a way of being brutal alright. I was pretty much an angry kid, couldn’t wait until I could enlist and get some revenge. The Astro Militarium became a new family really – I was with the Kenzel Revengers.
I did well enough to become one of the elite Stormtroopers … well most of the time. I had a habit of having issues with some of my commanders. That would often mean me getting demoted temporarily. One of my CO’s favourites would be to assign me Ogyrn babysitting duties.
A lot of people have a problem with Ogyrns, I’m not going to lie, they do stink. But you get used to it, at least they don’t have their head up their ass like some people I know. And they’re loyal – something you can’t say about many people.
Anyway, that’s where I first got to meet Kurr, he was the Bonehead commander of a group of an Ogryn unit. To be honest, we didn’t get off to a great start. He’d mainly just sneer and growl at me.
But life with the Kenzel Revengers all kind of fell apart at Sherbourne. The world had been part of a monumental (and unsuccessful) battlefield against a great Ork Waaargh of the past, and the world was littered with Ork, Space Marine and Imperial Guard debris. The Orks had defeated mankind thousands of years ago, and then moved on, but another Waaargh had return to pick up from the last one.
It was a brutal war – I was still on Ogyrn duty, but my Stormtrooper unit were misplaced on the battlefield by a junior officer who didn’t know his arse from his elbow. They were placed in the centre of a Nobb unit from a Valkerie and jumped, being killed to a man. I was the lucky one, if I’d not been subordinate I’d have been dead with them. Even so, I only survived the battle by sheer luck. That officer wasn’t done yet, spreading all us infantry units too far apart, and too far away to get support for our heavy armour. The Chimera I was in with the Ogryns was hit by some burna boys. We jumped out – they were led by a huge Ork Nobb, and I was glad to be next to some Ogryns that day. Ogryns can be terrible and brutal, it makes you glad they’re on your side. I tried to take out that Nobb with my hotshot lasgun, all I got was his attention. As he charged me I was sure I was done for. Then out of nowhere Kurr, stepped in front of me, holding his emptied ripper gun, and hitting the big Orks head repeatedly until the skull was smashed into the ground. Yeah, that seemed to scare even some of the Orks.
But we were being overrun, there were just Orks everywhere, already Kurr was the only Ogryn left, the others having been injured in the melee. I grabbed Kurr, and told him to fall back with me. But from out of nowhere a Commissar appeared on top of the Chimera ordering us back into the fray. I tried telling him we needed to regroup, we were going to be easily overrun here. The idiot tried to get the drop on me and punish me as an example. Sorry, but a Commisar is no match for a Stormtrooper, and I got the drop on him. [I found out much later I didn’t finish him, and he’s out for revenge on me if he ever finds me]
We made it back to our command line, and it was chaos, everywhere was trying to evacuate. I managed to get Kurr into the Valkerie, but we were hit soon after launch. The pilot did his best, and he got us several hundred clicks away before we crashed. We were at least well away from the battle, though only me, Kurr and the pilot survived the landing. We were lucky though – we’d landed at the site of the previous Waaargh – lots of junk to hide in, lots to scavenge.
As a Stormtrooper this kind of survival had been part of out core training. I found some old, thousand plus year old rations (which were still kind of edible). I kept an eye on the sky – it was obvious at night that our fleet had pulled out. We were here on our own, just me, Kurr and the pilor Mason. They wouldn’t have lasted without me, or to be fair, me without them.
Mason was alright, a bit of a dick, who’d worked Imperial Navy and thought he was smarter than you because he was better read. We tried to lay low – the wreckage field was the perfect place. Occasionally a couple of the mech Orks came to see what they could salvage. The trick was to hide in something that didn’t have much value. If it was just the one, we got good at working as a team, Mason or me would run interference, and Kurr would sneak behind them and snap its neck. Seems fights between the Orks were common, and it wasn’t unusual for two Orks to kill each other over junk/loot.
Eventually we decided we’d just have to make a move – there’d been a lot of activity, and Mason said it looked like the Orks were moving off. That was good news for us, and a sign to get out of the debris field. That’s where we found the Dragon, she was hidden in a nearby cave, though one of her treads were broken. They must have never had a chance to fix it as they became overrun.
She was a tank unlike anything I’d ever seen – painted in Space Marine Salamanders colours. The moment I saw her was love at first sight, I knew I had to have her. She’d been there for thousands of years, but sheltered from the worst of it. When it comes to it, most tanks engines in the Imperium are only a degree or two from a farm tractor. The engine didn’t work, but even I could tell she was in good shape. Some new leads, oil, spark plugs. We were sitting on all the spares you could imagine ever needing, and in Kurr we had the muscle we needed to help get at those parts. [Note – Ogyrn beats any winch or jack you’d ever need].
We got all the fuel we needed, and some besides, managing to also fill the flamer units on the tank. Feeling a little braver we started to explore. But Mason was right – the Orks had moved off. Sherbourne it seems was always a stepping stone objective. We ran into the occasional Orks, the ones who’d not quite made the call back to Waaargh, or maybe had pissed someone off. We had to be constantly on our guard. We made it back to the command post. The Orks had looted a lot, but there were still things to take – rations (which were thankfully more recent), fuel, radios. We tried making contact, but there seemed to be no-one out there. The Imperial Guard had been beaten back, any stragglers massacred, and were now pursuing the Waaargh.
We were there four years. We got good at sorting through the debris, finding things that were useful. If we got bored, we tended to blow stuff up for a laugh. We had ammunition coming out our arse, so it was worth it. It was interesting, sometimes you found interesting trinkets, and added to your collection, some fuel here, spare treads and engine part here.
I managed to get my first bolt pistol. In the Guard you’re told you’re given the most advanced weaponry in the Universe to stop the alien hoard and make him shake in fear at humanities might … and then they hand you a lasgun. The hotshot lasguns we Stormtroopers had were a bit better, but basically when an Ork charges you, you’re unloading every shot you can at them, hoping you get lucky. Then you get your hands on a bolt gun. Okay, the recoil is enough to almost take your arm off if you don’t hold it correct. But from the first shot, I decided I was never going back to a laspistol ever again.
Collecting weapons became a bit of a hobby of mine. You can see I tend to carry a multimelta around with me – has to be my favourite. It’s unsubtle, and you have to hold your nerve given its short range, but it gets the point across that I’m not to be messed with!
Thankfully eventually a Rogue Trader came along looking like us for any scrap – as we’d already looted the good stuff, we were able to trade with them for passage offworld, including for the Dragon, which we’d repainted by now to be more camouflaged.
Now give us credit, we did try and report back to the Kenzel Revengers, but they’d been wiped out during the Waaargh. And as far as records were concerned, Kurr, Mason and myself were all dead, and the bureaucrats being as they are, they weren’t about to persuaded otherwise.
So the bad news, no back pay. But the good news, we were free to do what we wanted. We did okay though, we hadn’t traded everything we’d found for passage offworld. We managed to find a fence, a squat called Oberon for the rest of it.
We picked up a business partner though, Masons wife Helga, who was a fellow pilot. I wish I could call her a silent business partner. He never mentioned her in our time on Sherbourne, though if I was her husband, not sure I’d want to own up to it either. She’s handy in a firefight, and can be as mean as any Ogyrn if you cross her. But all the same, she’s a massive pain in the arse.
We also picked up a dedicated mechanic, a Halfling lady called Amber, she’s alright, useful little tunnel rat, and a dead shot with a rifle. Always happy going outside knowing she’s got her hands on the guns to support me.
Yeah, so we salvage full time – Mason is always hunting for news of battles, and then we come afterwards to help the clearing up. Its handy the Dragon has a bit of fighting capacity, but we’re not heroes. If we see a couple of Orks we’ll burn ‘em, but generally we just turn around and run aware REALLY FAST. That’s why we’ve got a smoke launcher on the rear – to help us get away!
Most times all you get is spare parts – you got to know what’s worth rescuing. Mainly we just sell back the Astro Militarium and Space Marines their own stuff back. Weapon systems are always handy if they’re not too beat up, the Militarium tend to be cheapskates, though you’d be surprised how many farmers or industrialists want a lascannon battery to keep poachers and looters away.
Space Marines can be easy to anger if you try and charge too much, it’s best to let them set a price. They then feel honour bound to give a good price and save face. Most of their power armour and weapons are prized antiquities, so always worth gathering them. If the dead is recent, they can harvest geneseed from it, so we’ve got freezer room for 3 in the back. I typically don’t even talk about charging for their return, it means they tend to pay more for anything else you have.
I do get it though, if someone offered to return the body of my family after the Tyranid attack or one of my Stormtrooper pals, I’d not want them asking for cash. Space Marines for all their superhumanness, they get that.
But once in a while, you hit a real prize, and we keep an occasional item – Kurr has a Thunderhammer he’s taken a shine to. Ogryn with a Thunderhammer, now that’s scary. Some of it we have no idea of, not even Mason, but Oberon always seems to know what’s what.
So anyway – that’s my story, here’s my three rules,
- No Salamanders. I don’t want them recognizing the Dragon.
- No Chaos. Pretty much all their stuff if cursed.
- No Necrons. You never know if they’re dead of not.
Still interested? How can we do business then?