About Augustus the Arcane

Chief Librarian of the XXI Astartes Legion: Keeper of the lore, guardian of secret knowledge.

Tournament Test Game -Eldar

Alright, so here is my perspective on how our test game played out. For reference, this is the Ulthwé list that I played, while here are Severus’ Orks.

Pre-game I decided to have my Farseer as my warlord, in case I needed to designate my Autarch for a suicide-mission later on, or challenge a character. My Farseer began the game with Guide, Executioner, Doom, and Eldritch Storm. My warlock had Conceal and Protect. As it turns out Doom was very effective in this game, as was Guide. Eldrich Storm killed perhaps 10 orks, and Executioner slew 2; lending weight to our Primarch’s view that witchfire powers are rather underwhelming.

I knew from the beginning that the Battle-Wagon would be very hard for me to destroy, because of my lack of long range anti-tank, and Severus’ wise decision to surround it with boys, preventing me from teleporting behind it. Two of his three giant mobs also had feel no pain, meaning that they would absorb a lot of firepower, and the third was mostly in cover.

Aside from good power rolls, I was also lucky to win the deployment roll, have it not be night fighting, and for Severus to not steal the initiative. I decided to concentrate my fire and take down one mob at a time. Doom was key in this, because it essentially affected my entire army each turn. Sure I was wounding on 2s anyway, but there ended up being a great many 1s!

Despite having Feel No Pain, I think we were both amazed that my first turn of shooting managed to kill 30 boys, leaving mad dok alone, with two wounds left, and giving me first blood. My second turn saw the arrival of all of my reserves, thanks to my Autarch ( I rolled two 2s). One squad of spiders materialized 9″ away from mad doc (direct hit), while the other took advantage of my warlord’s trait and also did not scatter.

However, I did make several tactical errors this turn. First, I moved my walkers into the open in an effort to wipe out Doc’s new mob of 30 boyz. Despite causing an impressive 20 wounds, only 5 models were removed as casualties! In retaliation, Severus’ Lootaz completely annihilated them; scoring about 5 penetrating hits and 4 glances. I also forgot my psychic phase…twice…

Next, I miscalculated how far the spiders were from the nearest boyz. I only rolled a 2 for my battle-focus run (that fleet turned into a 3), which was not enough to allow them to fire their weapons. Finally, I completely forgot about the Waaagh rule, and moved my jetbikes and spiders too close!

Lucky for me, Ghazghul’s unit rolled a 2 for their run move, which made a charge against my warlord all but impossible (needing a 12). By turn 3 I was down both squads of spiders as well as the war walkers. Even so, the damage had been done, and I was able to eliminate the last mob in the next two rounds of shooting. After that it was just a question of mopping-up and claiming the objectives.

The final score was 12-0. Considering how badly it went for the Orks, in spite of some truly amazing saving rolls, I can only conclude that this was a very rough match-up for Severus’ list. I think that going first made a huge difference, as it allowed me to eliminate a third of Severus’ infantry before he could do anything. Even so, I don’t think that it would have changed the outcome. The orks were still too slow and the lootaz, while amazing, did not provide enough fire power to truly threaten me.

Tournament Eldar List 1750pts

Hello everyone. Severus mentioned that our local group will be having a small tournament in about two weeks. Details can be found at Critical Hit’s Facebook page.

This will be my first tournament in several months, and I have decided to compete as Eldar. Severus and I had a test game, which we will get into in a later post. For now though, here is my army and my philosophy behind it:

Farseer (jetbike, runes of Witnessing, & Stone of Anath’lan)
Autarch (jetbike, fusion gun, laser lance & banshee mask)
Warlock (jetbike and spear)

6x Guardian Jetbikes (2x cannons)
5x Avengers (SL/SC Wave Serpent)
5x Avengers (SL/SC Wave Serpent)

Nightwing
5x Warp Spiders (FS/TL Exarch)
5x Warp Spiders (FS/TL Exarch)

3x War-walkers (Scatter Lasers)
Wraithknight (Sun-cannon & Shield)

All of this totals to 1747. The general plan was to have a highly mobile and flexible army. Ideally my Autarch would have the Shard of Anaris, to make the jetbikes fearless, but with the limited points available I would have to do without. I chose him mostly for the crucial +/- 1 to reserves, seeing as I will probably have at least 3 units in reserve in each match. A fusion gun never hurts either, and he can provide very good MEQ close combat support. Meanwhile, the Farseer provides a guaranteed Guide/Prescience & other powers depending on rolls. Finally, the warlock guarantees the ability for the jetbikes to obtain a 2+ cover save.

I think jetbikes in some form are always a good idea. In this case I opted for a large unit of 8, so that my characters could not easily be sniped. This way I have a solid, fast unit that can split into 3 should it need to grab objectives end-game. Wave Serpents are also a great choice, so really the question is how many. I think two is reasonable at this points level. I am not convinced that spamming them is a good idea, and I only have three anyway. They may have lost some shooting reliability, but I think being a pretty tough and fast Objective Secured Vehicle makes up for it in spades.

My flyer of choice is the Nightwing. It has two bright lances and two Shuriken Cannons. It only has Armor 10 and two hull points, but benefits from shrouded and vector dancer. At 145 points I think it is very cost effective. With the Crimson Hunter becoming more survivable, I may revisit that opinion, but I don’t have the model, and having a Guardian pilot fits my Ulthwé army much more nicely!

Warp spiders are also a great option in my book. Their mobility is excellent, and they can be very good anti-tank options, with 11 Str 7 shots. They are also great against MC with low initiative, not only because of their high strength, but also the Monofilament rule allowing the wounds caused on a roll of 6 to be AP1. I gave the exarchs twin-linked rifles so that my spiders could double as anti-air if needed.

War Walkers are another must have. They are extremely fragile, and quite expensive at 210pts for three, but the ability to put out 24 Str 6 shots at 36″ and benefit from Battle-Focus is well worth it. Meanwhile the Wraithknight is a good source if AP2, and is mostly there to deal with Centurions, Broadsides and Obliterators. Of course, it is also exceptionally mobile and very good in combat as well.

As always, I think that flyer heavy lists will be a challenge for me, as will high armor vehicles, but otherwise I think that this is a pretty balanced list, with every unit having either a high volume of fire or the possibility to ignore armor (or both). We shall see how it plays out though!

Minotaurs!

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Hello everyone! The time has come to unveil my Space Marine: Minotaur collection. I chose this chapter mostly because I love the color scheme. Ideally I would have chosen an army with a Roman, rather than Greek background, but Ultramarines, who have the most clear Roman roots, do not have the gold/bronze and red that I was looking for. As for the specific paints to use, those were recommended by the Primarch, and I believe turned out to be a great combination.

I also wanted to use this opportunity to showcase Critical Hit’s new imperial sector scenery, made using the new GW tiles and existing building kits. All of the pictures you see here are taken with it as the backdrop.

Drop Pods
Let us begin with my Space Marine transport of choice. I wanted to build a Drop Pod army, because it is the most unique and powerful feature that this army has. As an opponent, I had felt the shock and awe of this tactic, and definitely wanted a piece for myself:

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Besides the color scheme, I used both etched brass and transfers to make my minotaurs look unique. Both come with five greek letters, and it just so happens that there are 5 squads in my 2,000 point list. Therefore, each squad is assigned a letter, and matching drop pod.

Tactical Marines

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This is my army’s basic color scheme, using Forgeworld transfers for the shoulder pads:

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Sternguard

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I really love the look of these models. The special weapons, unique shoulder-pads and tabards definitely make them unique. I decided not to use the Forgeworld shoulder pads on tactical marines, because I really liked how the transfers looked. Therefore, I kept the pads for my veteran units, starting with the Sternguard:

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That’s it for now, see you next time for flyers and HQ!

Search’s End

The time has come to introduce the fourth and final act of our Narrative Event: Battle for Tarandros! For those of you that may not know, our gaming group began an extensive Narrative Campaign set in the far-flung Sorathian system, where various factions from the Warhammer 40k Universe battle for supremacy!

For a recap, you can read our earlier posts: Introduction, Planetfall (Part 1, 2, and 3), and Beachhead.

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After scouring the vast ruins of what was once the planet’s capital, Captain Titus finally reached the installation that his Chapter’s Librarius had found referenced in their ancient texts. Precious gene-seed dating from the darkest days of the Horus Heresy would be found within. Despite the relentless passage of time, Eldrich stasis fields should have preserved the gene-seed throughout the millennia. But the Ultramarine leader knew that he was not alone. Ever since he and his brothers had entered the labyrinthine expanse, his super-human senses had detected a presence lurking in the shadows.

Having smashed all opposition in its path, the Alpha Legion and its demonic allies were hot on the Ultramarines’ heels. No doubt it was their foul tread that Titus had felt. In an attempt to halt the advance of Chaos, the Eldar of Craftworlds Ulthwé and Windu had sought to stop the Alpha Legion in its tracks. Instead, they were met by the implacable Death Guard. Dozens of Guardians and Dire Avengers of Windu sold their lives in an attempt to break through the servants of Nurgle’s rotting ranks.

Farseer Aramel boldly led a squad of Storm Guardians into the heart of the battlefield, in an effort to claim a strategic objective. But the advancing Eldar were beset by Plaguemarines. Though he slew their Champion, Aramel and his Guardians were mired in mortal combat with a foe that refused to yield. As the battle raged, the Death Guard’s leader teleported behind the Eldar lines with his retinue of terminator armored bodyguard. In spite of their powerful chaos-forged armor, they were all quickly annihilated by the combined fury of Vibro-cannons and scatter-lasers. Yet for all their gains, the Farseers of Ulthwé knew that the moment had passed. They could no longer reach the insidious Alpha Legion strike team and prevent them from reaching their quarry. Being so foiled, the Eldar were forced to withdraw back into the webway. The Ultramarines would have to face this foe alone.

Meanwhile, the battered remnants of the Imperium’s spearhead abandoned their outer defenses and regrouped to form a tight cordon surrounding the vast installation where Titus and his Marines would complete their quest. In their haste to muster a cogent defense, none had noticed the Alpha Legion strike force as it quietly slipped through their ranks. So great had their losses been, that none amongst the Imperium’s leaders held any hope of reclaiming this world for the glory of their Emperor. Their only goal now was to survive until Captain Titus’s mission was complete.

Despite the withdrawal of Imperium troops, the orks had remained curiously restrained. In awe of his supreme Orkiness, no member of Kap’n Klaw’s Space Waaagh dared question his orders to halt their pursuit of the enemy after their puny counter-attack had been smashed. While the Imperium consolidated their strength, Klaw gathered his vast horde for a grand final assault, the likes of which had never been seen upon the hot sands of Tarandros!

Winners and Losers of 7th Edition: Eldar, Part 2

Hello again! It turns out that I had a lot to talk about when it comes to psychic powers. If you missed that article, you can find it here.

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The second major change to affect the Eldar, are the new rules for Jink. Yes, this is a universal rule that affects everyone, but nobody quite does anti-grav like we do. In honor of the new allies matrix, I am of course including our Dark cousins in that generalization. Verily there is a bond that neither birthing an evil god nor a new game edition can break.

So far, I’m actually quite happy with the change. It makes the Crimson hunter slightly more survivable, though I will probably stick with my Nightwing (that does not benefit from the change at all). Also, it gives our skimmers the possibility of having a 3+ save, or a 4+ even without having moved! The same is true for Jetbikes, which may see a slight drop in effectiveness. Shining Spears will now benefit from a 3+ save even when not turbo-boosting (which no longer provides a better cover save).

Being able to jink at any time gives some protection from drop pod armies and makes vehicles even more survivable. I think the trade off is fair, since Eldar were at their most vulnerable when they did not have the first turn. Wave Serpents are supposed to be nigh indestructible and extremely fast. But also being a main battle tank was a bit much. Personally, I at most had two of the dreaded scatter-laser/cannon Serpents, so the change will probably be more beneficial than not to me, as I value survivability over firepower (especially now that they can get Objective Secured).

The same cannot be said for the majestic Fire Prism, a staple of my Ulthwé force. It was the first vehicle that I finished painting and has been in easily 90% of my games. It still has, arguably, the best gun in the game. But because it is one shot and 2/3 of its modes of fire are blast, having to jink for its save will virtually nullify its firepower. This won’t make the model useless by any means, but will force you to be more tactical about how to use it. I remember the days when Eldar was a finesse army, if not the finesse army. Any step back in that direction is great in my book.

Another change to the vehicle rules, which overlaps with psychic powers, is the inability to cast blessings while embarked. Again, this applies to everyone, but Eldar guardian heavy lists will be especially affected given the reliance of Conceal/protect to keep squads alive should their transport be destroyed. Hopefully the Serpent’s added survivability will compensate for this loss.

I’m sure that there are more details that I have missed, and will undoubtedly discover as I get to play more games of 7th, but for now, this is all I could come up with. In light of everything, I would rank Eldar as #2-3 all things considered. Second to Daemons and tied with, or third to, Tau.

To be honest though, I think that the playing field has been leveled significantly, and the game is much more about player skill, than the army he/she picked (as it should be). Maybe I have a naive view, but having a “sand box” edition seems to mean that everyone can capitalize on their different strengths and compete as equals.

Winners and Losers of 7th Edition: Eldar

Hello everyone! I’ve not made any posts for quite some time, but I thought that I should aid Brother Severus and add my two warp charges to this series of articles!

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As some readers know, I am mostly an Eldar (Ulthwé) player, so I will share my perspective on how the new edition has affected the master meddlers. Overall, I think that the Eldar have gained more than they have lost, but time will tell!

First, psychic powers! As someone who likes to play his Craftworld the way it was meant to be played (lots of Guardians and Psykers), the rumors about changes to psychic powers were utterly terrifying. Having finally read the rules, I believe that those fears were largely unfounded. Here is the breakdown as I see it:

Pros:
Warlocks: Although they were good before, Ld8 meant that your chances of manifesting a power were just above average, and rolling either a double 1 or 6 would cost you 35-55 points. Also, many maledictions were hard to use because of the limited range.

Now, warlocks have 3 powers to choose from instead of 2, are half as likely to suffer perils on 2d6 (with about the same success rate) AND can avoid the risk entirely by attempting to manifest powers on a single D6. Finally, you can now move and cast, which gives them a 6″ or 12″ greater effective range.

Spirit Stone of Anath’lan: This item allows the bearer to reduce the cost of manifesting his psychic powers by one, but he may not use his runic armor save for an entire turn. If your psyker is on foot, that is the only save he has! So I would only ever use this with a Farseer mounted on a Jetbike. Before, I never really used this item, since the sacrifice never seemed worth it.

Now, however, 1 WC less to cast is huge! Not only because of the increased cost of Prescience, but because half of the Runes of Fate also cost 2 WC. Sadly, this means that I am almost forced to always give the Farseer a jetbike, as a savvy opponent will easily snipe out a defenseless Farseer on foot.

Seer Council: This overlaps with the Warlock section, but I think that there is a big difference between a lone warlock attached to a squad and a unit consisting entirely of these elven Jedi.

Having them in a council really allows you to “play the odds,” which has become a major factor in how psychic powers work. Warlocks still only have one WC, so technically they have roughly a 10% lower chance to cast powers than before, assuming they use only the dice that they generate.

Obviously, in this edition, you can now pool your WC dice! Were you really casting powers with every single warlock before? Of course not. Now Conceal is guaranteed, so you can roll all your dice together, unless you would like to add some Sanctic powers to the mix. Not only that, but you can use a single D6 for every warlock that has a power you do not currently need, until you successfully cast conceal. This way you are safe from perils, and are not wasting rolls.

This also allows you to experiment with Sanctic powers, because a surprising number of these only cost 1 WC. I would not do this with a jetbike council, but certainly gives you a good reason to try one on foot.

Before, a seer council on foot was a terrible idea. It was slow, exposed (no dedicated transport), and even with fortune, not all that survivable for its cost. Now, however, sanctic powers can fix many of those defects. You may have noticed that blessings of the same type no longer stack. One of my favorite tricks was to make my warlock’s lightsabers (witchblades) Str 5 and melt through land raiders and FA13 walkers.

Being unable to do this anymore made me sad, until I discovered that I could use Hammer hand! Sanctic also allows the foot council to obtain a more reasonable invulnerable save of 3+, which can make the unit good even without fortune (plenty of models out there cost 35pts and have a 3+ save). Also…they can teleport! Watch out for mishaps, but used correctly, gate of infinity fixes this unit’s mobility problems. Special bonus, your warlocks can reduce daemon saves!

Naturally, this will only work well if you generate the powers you want (and enough of them), so it’s probably much more random that what I’m comfortable with, but I’m definitely willing to give it a try!

Cons:
Farseers: Still one of the best Psykers in the game, don’t get me wrong, but without a doubt they have lost out with the changes. Let’s face it, before you were guaranteed to cast 3 powers, two of which were almost always prescience and guide and, honestly, you did not care too much about the third. You failed to manifest a power maybe once a game and…oh hey…I have my once a game re-roll rune…

In 7th, you can no longer show up with a single Farseer and expect to cast everything you want, all the time. Yes the spirit stone helps, but you are still in the same boat as a Space Marine player that brought a single Librarian to the game. Your effectiveness now depends almost entirely on how many Psykers the other guy has.

Does this make sense? Yes, I can imagine how even the mighty Eldrad will have trouble casting by his lonesome when he is facing off against an army of daemons, or an entire Librarius. But it feels like a waste of points, since you are not getting as many benefits from your expensive psyker.

In terms of wargear, runes of warding are about the same, runes of witnessing are slightly less useful (perils count as a successful manifestation) and Ghosthelms are arguably just as good. However, they do not protect the wearer from all of the perils effects as it once did and spending warp charges to prevent wounds is more costly now. Also…it is now completely useless against the idiotic Grey Knight mind missles and similar weapons, since WC are only generated in the psychic phase…meaning that Farseers will have 0 when being shot at…

This negative view may seem widely inconsistent with the positives discussed above, but bear in mind that 20 WC in an Eldar army will cost you about 1,000pts. This is half of the typical army (our meta plays almost exclusively 2k point games). Not only is this a hefty investment but, unlike other armies, most of those points need to be concentrated into a single unit.

Based solely on psychic power, I would rank Eldar as either #1 or #2. My sense is that #2 is probably more accurate, because Daemons can have Psykers all over the place, not just HQ, making for a much more flexible and balanced army. I’ll have to pit my council(a) against the forces of Tzeench to know for sure!

Beachhead

At long last, here is the latest installment of our “Battle for Tarandros” narrative campaign series. If you missed earlier parts of the tale, find out what happened here: Introduction, Plantefall- Part 1, Planetfall- Part 2, Planetfall- Part 3

Having defeated every foe to cross his path, Captain Titus led his Ultramarines towards the heart of the dilapidated ruins of what was once a mighty hive city of the Imperium. The time had come for him to complete his true mission. From fragmented records that had survived since the days of the Great Crusade, the Ultramarine Librarius had learned that a store of Astartes gene-seed had been kept deep within the city’s secret vaults. The Imperium Reclamation fleet’s vanguard was ordered to invade Tarandros in order to clear the surrounding area and buy time for Titus to achieve his goal. If the planet could also be returned to the light of the Emperor, all the better.

Commissar Decanus was one of the few that knew the real reason that so many resources had been mobilized to this barren rock. Besides the Ultramarines, three Astartes Chapters had made an appearance in this theatre: The Blood Angels, Carcharodons and Astral Claws. From his command Chimera he monitored vox traffic and read scouting reports. Commissar Nemo’s men guarded the northern part of the city, while Decanus was tasked to fortify the desert highlands to the south. Despite the slaughter that the Astartes had wrought upon them, everything indicated that the orks were massing an immense counter attack. So far though, there had been no sign of it. The Guardsmen had expected an attack the day before, but night had fallen uneventfully and all was quiet.

That changed very quickly. Decanus first heard of the enemy’s arrival through panicked shouts emanating from outside his vehicle. Immediately, the aged Commissar reached for his command panel and took control of one of his remote servo-skull observers. The macabre machine hovered above a rock outcrop several yards above the Command Chimera. As far as it’s mechanized eyes could see into the early morning gloom, the horizon was drenched in the sweaty hides of savage greenskins. Most of the orks were on foot, but Decanus heard as much as saw, great lumbering vehicles racing alongside the horde, their mismatched armored plates rattling loudly in the wind. Without a moment’s hesitation, the seasoned Commissar ordered his Basilisk battery to open fire. Although the darkness severely hampered the artillery’s range, the enemy was everywhere.

Soon, the Imperial Guard’s lines roared into life. The potency of their firepower was so great, that it illuminated the night as a false dawn. The advancing orks were smashed mercilessly by the barrage. Many of the shots went wide, but the greenskins still died in droves. Yet their mobs fearlessly kept on coming. As they approached, Decanus’ servo-skulls revealed a squadron of three killa-kans lumbering forwards on his right, pointlessly firing their crude weapons despite being far beyond their effective range. Ork boyz trudged along with them, trying to keep their distance from the the walkers’ clumsy strides. So tight was the press of bodies, that several orks had nowhere to run when the kans mis-stepped, and were crushed by the walkers’ huge mechanized feet.

On the far right of the imperium’s gun line, a Battle Wagon raced forwards, its awkwardly attached deff rolla flattening everything in its path. The ork vehicle was heading directly towards a squadron of Lehman Russ battle tanks. Their mighty ordnance fired upon the advancing orks, but the Battle Wagon’s armored plates somehow held firm. The Guardsmen gunners were powerless as the ork vehicle rammed into them with full force. The force of impact reduced a Lehman Russ to a smoldering ruin.

Elsewhere on the field, the Imperium fared no better. The left flank was held by ten of the mighty Adeptus Astartes from the Blood Angels chapter. With great courage and tenacity did they charge head-long into the green tide that threatened to drown the Imperial Guard. Long did they endure, filling the air with the sweet song of their bolt-pistols and the fearsome roar of their chain-swords. But it was not to last. Though they sold their lives dearly, the orks were too many, and eventually the Space Marines were slain to a man. Dismayed, but unbroken, the Guardsmen fought on, pouring their ever-shrinking firepower into the ork masses.

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From the deck if his Battle Wagon, Kap’n Klaw roared with joy at the destruction that his mighty Waaagh had wrought. All around him the sands of Tarandros were awash with the blood of combatants and its dry air filled the pervasive music of battle. From deep within his primal instincts, came the knowledge that the time was right. The ork warlord stomped one of his mighty legs on the front edge of his transport and let loose a titanic bellow:

WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

From their leader’s lungs came the ultimate call to war. Though the cry itself had no intrinsic meaning, it carried the very essence of what it was to be an ork. Klaw’s various warbosses responded immediately with cries of their own. Every greenskin on the field was filled with murderous inspiration and the inescapable urge to kill. Without hesitation, each of them echoed their Boss’ war cry. Even the thunder of the mighty Basilisk artillery was drowned out by the ensuing cacophony. As one, the ork tide surge forward, and crashed mercilessly into the battered lines of the Imperium.

In the skies above, twin Dakka jets flew erratically towards the humies’ armored column. They unleashed their guns in a relentless storm of bullets, crazed by their leader’s war cry. Even at their great height, the voice of Kap’n Klaw could be heard clearly. Caught in the cross-fire, a Chimera transport burst into flames, forcing its passengers to perform an emergency disembarkation. From his vantage point, Klaw could barely make out the shapes of the survivors, but amongst them was humie wearing an enormous red hat and wielding a puny Klaw. Sensing that this must be the enemy leader, Kap’n Klaw leapt from his transport.

But before he could move towards this foe, Warboss Zug and his boyz had already fallen upon the hapless umie, and whatever was left of his squad. None survived. Disappointed, Kap’n Klaw searched the field for a worthy opponent. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. To his left, Klaw could hear the unmistakeable gurgling noise of a shock-attack gun being loaded. Frustrated by the lack of opposition, Kap’n Klaw turned to watch what would happen next. He had found that the effects of this weapon are always amusing, and he was not disappointed. Somehow, the Big Mek managed to get himself caught by the weapon’s own feeder and was sucked into that “tranzdamentunal” chamber that he was always so proud of. With a surprised yelp, the Mek was fired, through the warp, by his own weapon and re-appeared directly in front of a stunned group of umies.

Kap’n Klaw roared with laughter at the sight of this, as did his entire bodyguard of nobz. The surprised Mek flailed desperately as he tried to fight off the enemy. But he was quickly cut down. With his amusement over, the ork Warlord realized that the fight was mostly over. There had been no sight of the great Space Mahreens that he had heard so much about. Hopefully he would find them inside the ruined city.

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News of the ork attack had reached the Blood Angel strike cruiser with time to spare, but the skies above the great carcass of the ancient hive city were obstructed by warp storms. Once again, the eldrich lightning had come without warning. Brother Aquilus, who had borne Chaplain Malkor’s doomed relief force, sought to pilot his Storm Raven into the theatre of battle. Chapter doctrine taught the sons of Sanguinius not to mourn the passing of those succumbed to the black rage, but the loss of such a mighty and pious Chaplain as Malkor was a grievous wound to the Chapter. Try as he might, the experienced pilot could find no breach in the wretched weather. He had no doubt now, that the corrupting hands of demonic entities had shaped this barrier. Unable to mask his frustration any longer, Brother Aquilus turned to Chaplain Sebastian for guidance.

Though the storm hampered communications, they were close enough to receive fragmented vox signals. By sporadic screams and terrified calls for aid, Sebastian knew that the plight of the Imperial Guardsmen. The fact that he had heard naught but silence from his brothers below, bespoke of their grim fate. Two Bhaal Predators awaited the Storm Raven’s arrival, so that they may perform a decisive coordinated attack. Unwilling to delay any longer, the Chaplain gave the order for the vehicles to complete their outflanking maneuvers and to consume the Xenos filth with purifying gouts of flame.

Accelerating to full speed, the two Bhaal predators burst through cover, one at each of the enemy’s flanks. Their heavy flamers roasted dozens of orks with their mighty promethium. But the damage they dealt was too little, and it had come too late. It was not long before their noble hulls were overwhelmed by the battle-crazed savages, and rent asunder. By the time Brother Aquilus was able to navigate the treacherous warp storms, nothing remained of the Imperium’s forces. The ork horde had slain all. Smoldering with rage, Chaplain Sebastian had no choice but to order the pilot to make the return journey. The Storm Raven’s deadly cargo would be disgorged at another time, when the death company’s sacrifice would achieve more than futile vengeance. Their day would come. Honor would be satisfied.

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Elsewhere, upon the Eastern fringes of the city’s dilapidated ruins, the Alpha Legion continued to blaze a bloody path through the Imperium’s defenders. This time, they were opposed by more than mere men: Adeptus Astartes of both the Carcharodons and Astral Claws Chapters had been entrusted to halt the advance of any foe. But the traitor marines were not alone. From tears in the fabric of reality itself daemonic hosts poured onto the battlefield. The combined forces of Chaos proved too much for the Imperium’s forces. Despite their valiant efforts, all of the defenders were cut down, and the agents of the Dark Gods stormed through the breach and into the city proper. Sensing that their prize was near, the Alpha Legionnaires surged forth triumphantly. Who could stop them now?

Lore in the 40k Universe

First off, apologies for the delay in posting the narrative for Part 2 of our “Battle for Tarandros” series. Work has been insane these past three weeks and all of my limited free time has been consumed by other pursuits. But I will definitely get to it before our next narrative event.

In the meantime, I thought I would share my thoughts about the Lore of Warhammer 40,000, or “fluff” as it is more commonly referred to (a term that still makes me cringe, though I too have begun using it).

One of the first things that drew me into the hobby (both Fantasy and 40k), was the concept that each army has a personality. Much like any role playing game, you pick the army that resonates with you. Either because they match your character, have an interesting backstory, or the internet told you it would make you win (by far the least inspired choice).

All of the factions in the game are fictional, to be sure, but they all come from the human imagination, which means that they are each infused with qualities that we can relate to, an “essence” if you will.

For example, I love Eldar. If I was forced to choose 10 armies to play (and given the proverbial infinite monies), I would have one from each Craftworld, a corsair force and Dark Eldar army, before even considering an alien race to play. In actuality, I play only Ulthwé, because it embodies everything that I would expect a great civilization to possess; elegance, intelligence, wisdom, tenacity, and the courage to fight even against impossible odds. Every other race in the 40k universe seems crude by comparison.

That is not to say that I have strong negative feelings against every other race. Being Italian, anything inspired on the Roman Empire makes me happy, but the rampant ignorance and dogmatic superstition of the Imperium prevent it from being my faction of choice. Also, as you may have noticed from my narratives, I am quite capable of “getting in character,” no matter what models I am moving about. Eldar is simply my preference…by leaps and bounds…

However, 40k is extremely Imperium centric. Unlike Fantasy, where the lore is fairly balanced, easily 80% of the media (outside of codexi) produced by Games Workshop is by the Imperium, for the Imperium. To be fair, this is probably as much a function of the fact that it is the dominant force in the galaxy, as that of being the origin of most armies in the game.

So the disparity makes sense, but it definitely does make the rest of us feel a little left out. I was ecstatic when the Path of the Eldar trilogy came out, in addition to the lore contained within the Iyanden supplement. But that is pretty much it, aside from some cameo appearances in other stories (I am purposefully ignoring the existence of the Carnac Campaign short stories).

To be sure, the Horus Heresy is a massive undertaking, that is consuming much, if not most, of the Black Library’s resources. Hopefully when it ends, there will be an opportunity for some attention to the other non-human (or human adjacent) races of the galaxy. For my part, having an amazing codex definitely makes up for the lack of lore…though I still pray to Isha for an Ulthwé Supplement…

Ultimately though, the stories are what allow me to immerse myself into the “essence” of my favorite armies, and where most of my enjoyment of the game comes from. I know that many players could care less about the “fluff, ” which is fine. I suggest only that it might be worth exploring this dimension of the game, as it might enhance your experience of it.

Planetfall: Part 3

Holographic displays recreated the last moments of the battle between the Ultramarines and the Tau. Warlock Sereth watched distastefully as the Tau leader attempted to transmit the data that his infernal device had acquired. “These methods are barbaric! The device must be destroyed.” He said, unequivocally. Hidden in the webway; a realm between the warp and the materium, the elegant Ulthwé warship Asredil was invisible to the belligerents upon the nearby world of Tarandros. Within the vessel’s meditation chamber, a heated debate was underway.

“They are a young race, Sereth. They do not fully comprehend what it is that they meddle with.” Farseer Erethentil retorted. The warlock was not dissuaded “even so, it is our duty to protect the younger races from their own folly. These manipulations can only serve to draw the attention of the Hive Mind” Sereth insisted. “Can we risk open war with the Tau? Has it not been seen that they are our best hope for survival?” asked Warlock Lenea. Having remained silent thus far, Farseer Aramel answered “the Seer Council of Ulthwé has indeed determined that the Eldar must align themselves with the Tau Empire. Only together can we hope to stand against the dark powers. However, this does not mean that we can allow their youthful curiosity to drive them along a familiar, ruinous path.”

Erethentil nodded in agreement “fortunately, the Ultramarine Captain prevented the Tau leader from transmitting the emitter’s collected data” he said. “But it was not destroyed!” complained Warlock Sereth. “The mon-keigh fools did not even notice that it existed. They slew all without bothering to discover why the Tyranid creatures could fall under another’s control!” he continued. “Surely those that wrought this device will seek to recover it.” Aramel sighed before responding “sadly, that is the way of the Astartes. They live only for war, much like the Exarchs of our race. Little interests them beyond battle and defending their empire.” Sereth scoffed “what empire? their power has no serious opposition in this galaxy and yet they can barely hold their crumbling government together! What are these mon-keigh defending? They have no culture to speak of, except for their fanatical devotion to their corpse emperor!”

“You go too far Warlock!” Aramel said sternly. “The Crippled King does more for the war against Chaos than you can possibly imagine! You have walked the path of the Seer for only a brief while. If you cannot participate in our councils civilly, then perhaps you walk the wrong path.” He added. Cowed, the young warlock apologized “I am sorry, Farseer Aramel, I spoke without thinking. I allowed my passions to overcome my sense.” Aramel nodded. “Our emotions can serve us well, but there is a time and a place for each of them. It is well that you recognize this” he said. “We should influence events against the recovery of this device if possible. But open conflict with the Tau should be avoided” voiced Erethentil, eager to return the discussion to the topic at hand. “Agreed” the other Seers said, unanimously.

Suddenly, the mind of every Seer present was touched by another’s. It was Farseer Ithiniael, communicating telepathically from his diplomatic quarters aboard the Tau flagship in high orbit above Darkstar Sept. “It is I, Farseer Ithiniael. May I address this Council?” he asked. Though everyone knew his identity, decorum demanded that the ritual words be spoken. Every mind within the meditation chamber consented to Ithiniael’s intrusion. “I have spoken to Commander Darkstar’s Ethereal, Aun’ro” the Farseer mind-spoke. His message was conveyed not just in words, but also in emotion and images of his summit with the Tau leadership. “It would seem that the Tau’s sensors have detected the approach of the Alpha Legion, and recognize this threat. We have been granted permission to enter the Tau Empire’s sovereign soil of Tarandros, and are invited to joint-operations with Tau forces to expel the forces of Chaos. However, Aun’ro expressed great dismay at the uninvited arrival of Imperium forces to this system. Particularly given that the Imperium’s ‘reclamation fleet’ far exceeds their colonization armada. The Tau respectfully request our aid in expelling the Imperium interlopers. In spite of this, he made no mention of the open hostilities between the Tau and Adeptus Astartes.”

The gathered Eldar psykers were not surprised to learn this. The new Tau weapon, that allowed limited control over Tyranid forces, was obviously a closely held secret. The Tau would not risk revealing its existence, even to would-be allies. Quite familiar with intrigue, the Eldar had no intention of pressing the matter. “Is it wise to antagonize the mon-keigh by joining forces with the Tau against them?” Lenea asked with her mind. “We have already examined the skein thoroughly. All favorable futures require collaboration with the Tau” mind-spoke Erethentil. “The Tau Commander Boldstrike is tasked with securing an abandoned industrial sector” added Aramel. “Unbeknownst to him, the Imperium forces count with the support of the Dark Angels. Without our aid, he is doomed to fail. Under cover of darkness, we can descend upon the humans and disrupt their communications. Their leaders will believe that only the Tau were responsible for their demise” the Farseer continued.

“Farseer Aramel and I will lead the strike force. Warlocks Lenea, Sereth and Naril will join us. Farseer Ithiniael will remain with the Tau” mind-spoke Erethentil. Psychically, the gathered Council expressed its unanimous agreement. The Eldar seers aboard the Asredil felt Ithiniael’s mind depart. “What of Farseer Maceil?” asked Lenea. The two Farseers looked uncertain. A force of Eldar from Craftworld Windu had made contact with them as soon as they had reached the Sorathian webway network. It was they that had warned the Ulthwé Seers of the approach of Chaos to Tarandros. Maceil had led his own strike force to the planet surface, but none aboard the Asredil had heard from him again. The skein was strangely clouded to all inquiries into the Farseer’s fate. “For now, knowledge of our kin’s whereabouts is beyond us. We must hope that he is well, and focus on the task at hand. Fate will no doubt reveal the truth, in time” said Aramel. With that, the Coucil session was adjourned, and the Seers destined to do battle went to don their arms and armor.

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The Imperial Guard 678th Cadian Armored division had been ordered to reclaim Tarandros’ industrial sector in the name of the Emperor. Their landing transports had reached the planet surface soon after the Ultramarine spearhead pierced the ork horde. They spent the remainder of the day mopping up the rag-tag bands of savages that had taken up residence in the ruins of an ancient Manufactorum. As the sun set, enormous abandoned cranes cast long shadows on the Guardsmen below.

A portion of the division was ordered to patrol the perimeter. This force consisted of two Hellhounds, two Chimera transports filled with veteran Guardsmen, a squadron of two Flakk tanks and a squadron of two Lehman Russ battle tanks. They were joined by Adeptus Astartes of the Dark Angel chapter. None of the Guardsmen had been notified of their arrival, they had simply appeared, seemingly intent on joining the patrol. This made Guardsman Yorik nervous. He had heard tales of the mysterious Dark Angels. It was said that they always follow their own agenda and are utterly ruthless in the service of the Emperor. But they would not travel all this way just to kill orks. Something more must be afoot and the possibilities gave Yorik chills.

The Guardsman’s musings were interrupted by a loud explosion. He peered out of one of his Chimera’s firing grate and saw that something had turned the nearest Hellhound into a smoldering ruin. The vehicle burned brightly in the night, but there was no sign of the attacker. On instinct, the Cadian forces fired their considerable armament in the direction they believed that the enemy shot had come from. Yorik’s world shook as his transport’s gunner opened fire with his multi-laser armament. At least some of the shots struck home, for the Chimera’s search lights zeroed in on the target. The illuminating beams revealed the hull of a black-painted skimmer, of unmistakably Eldar design. The Lehman Russ behemoths lumbered onwards, unleashing their battle cannons upon the revealed enemy vehicle. But the skimmer was moving too fast for the Imperial gunners, and the shots went wide. Eldar walkers revealed themselves with a torrent of laser fire. They pelted the advancing Dark Angel bikers with their scattered beams of light, before racing back into the gloom, out of reach of Imperial guns. To his horror, Yorik saw that five mighty Astartes bikers fell to this barrage.

The Chimera’s vox exploded with a stream of curses. “Hammerhead sighted…bring it down boys!” someone shouted authoritatively, probably the battle psyker that Commissar Nemo had left in charge. “Call for air support!” someone transmitted. “Outbound communications are down. Can’t reach Command” another replied. From his vantage point, Yorik could not make out the Tau forces, but he did hear the unmistakeable rumble of a heavy rail gun. Tau weaponry featured heavily in guardsman training-vids. Its first shot smashed into the front armor of a Lehman Russ, but its adamantium plates held strong. The other Chimera was not so fortunate and was wrecked by the Tau battle tank’s next volley. Yorik could see a triad of the infamous Crisis suits rise from the rubble using their jet packs. From the air, they sent streams of missiles and plasma fire into the Astartes bikers, only to disappear into the ruins to reload.

From the frantic vox communications, Yorik learned that the second Hellhound had moved up the right flank and begun to roast the Xenos hiding in the ruins. The painful screech of metal brought the guardsman’s attention back to the battle nearby. One Lehman Russ had finally succumbed to the Tau and Eldar combined firepower. Unexpectedly, bright bursts of light lanced into the Dark Angels’ land speeder from above. This was followed by a barely perceptible stream of projectiles. This proved too much for the vehicle and it was torn asunder, violently forcing the Astartes pilots out of their seats and throwing them several yards away from their destroyed land speeder. Clearly these shots had come from a flyer, but if it had made any noise during its arrival, Yorik had not heard it. The Flakk tank squadron immediately opened fire. Looking up through the Chimera’s top hatch, the Yorik finally saw the enemy flyer. Its hull was black, just as the skimmer that he had seen earlier. It made impossible maneuvers as it tried to jink out of the torrent of Flakk fire. But the Cadian anti-air tanks were unrelenting and eventually struck home. Bright sparks erupted from the flyer’s fuselage and one of its wings began to trail smoke. Although the flyer was not destroyed, it turned and flew out of the combat zone.

The guardsman had no time to celebrate this small victory. Another Eldar skimmer began to move towards his Chimera at impossible speed. His gunner fired at it with all available weapons, to no avail. The next thing Yorik knew, the Eldar vehicle was right next to him. Enemy artillery hidden in a ruined building fired directly at him. The weapons emitted arcane waves of supersonic sound. When these hit the Chimera’s hull, the entire vehicle began to vibrate uncontrollably. Within moments, the chassis was ripped apart, and the passengers were forced to disembark. Yorik and his fellow guardsmen climbed out of the wreckage, only to be greeted by a volley of laser fire. The guardsmen were cut down where they stood, until only four members of their squad remained. Seeing that the left flank was crumbling, their Sergeant ordered them to fall back. As Yorik scrambled to follow the remnants of his squad, he was struck in the back by a laser blast. Immediately he felt his body paralyze, and then his world went black.

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Aramel’s wave serpent glided to a halt just past the destroyed human vehicle. The attack was proceeding just as he had foreseen. Several Tau had fallen but, so far, no Eldar lives had been lost. Throughout the battle, Farseer Erethentil had guided the war-walker squadron, allowing them to perform their vital role of neutralizing the Dark Angels. He also used his powers of prescience to direct the guardians controlling the unit of Vibrocannon artillery that he had joined. Thanks to his guidance, the support battery was able to destroy several of the human vehicles. By now, only a handful of space marines and their lesser brethren remained. The two remaining vehicles would soon fall to the Tau onslaught. The carnage was unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Once the designated position was reached, the wave serpent’s door opened and the disembarkation ramp descended with a gentle hiss. Aramel’s unit of Storm Guardians drew their weapons and started to move out of the transport. The Farseer walked with them and was joined by warlock Sereth. Before they were able to exit the wave serpent, however, Aramel sensed a disturbance in the warp. A presence had entered realspace earlier this day and only now, that it had been momentarily cast back into the warp, was it forced to reveal itself. By his expression, Sereth had sensed it too. But he knew not the perils that lurk in the warp. Even as Farseer Aramel shouted at him with both mind and voice to stop, the bold warlock gazed through the raw warp at the servant of Tzeench. What he saw, consumed him. The titanic truth of the greater daemon’s presence within the warp was too much for Sereth to bear. His physical body could not withstand the vast psychic pressures that his mind had forced upon it, and he fell, lifeless.

Aramel’s heart was heavy as he gently placed the young warlock’s glowing soul stone in a special container within the transport. Perhaps this fate could have been avoided, but any future becomes uncertain when the changer of ways plays his hand. The Farseer chanted a quiet prayer to Isha, then donned his ghosthelm and joined the Storm Guardians on the planet surface. Wary, he reached into a pouch within his robes and began to cast his wraithbone carved runes and divined the possible futures to come. Using the specially designed ammunition intended for this mission, the warriors of Ulthwé fired their pistols at the last remaining Astartes.

Xxx...Expunged Security-vid Record...xxX

Xxx…Expunged Security-vid Record…xxX

Just as the last one fell, Aramel saw a future where the three fleeing humans nearby opened fire upon his Guardians. He saw over half of his ten-strong squad being consumed by flames. As the moment approached, the Farseer forewarned his squad members. Many jumped out of the flamer’s path before the bearer had even fired. Yet still three Storm Guardians fell, either dead or badly injured by the searing gouts of flame. Whilst the casualties were rushed back onto the wave serpent, the two guardians bearing fusion guns fired at their attackers, vaporizing the three humans in their tracks. All imminent threats having been neutralized, Aramel walked towards the group of Astartes that had fallen in the ruins ahead, located at the furthest edge of the Imperium’s collapsed left flank. The Farseer walked to a specific point in the rubble, and used his telepathic powers to raise the heavy slabs of fallen metal. With an effort of will, he found his buried objective, and wrested it from deep within the ground.

Aramel had unearthed an old human sensor array. It still functioned, as he knew it would, despite the centuries of disuse. He examined the device, but did not tamper with it. He placed it in the middle of a clearing within the ruins. After some time, he was joined by Warlock Lenea and her team of Black Guardians. They were followed by small automated hover-platforms, which carried the Dark Angel bikers, that had all fallen during the battle. With her hand, the Warlock led yet another hover-platform, this one carrying a device very similar to that excavated by Aramel. When she reached the Farseer, Lenea bowed her head and made a gesture of mourning for Sereth’s passing. The Farseer nodded and reciprocated the hand motion. “When will they awaken?” Lenea asked, referring to the ceramite-clad giants. “Fairly soon” replied Aramel, “our war walker’s scatter-lasers were modified to overload their nervous systems. I imagine that they will regain consciousness before day-break” he continued. “As for the toxin used by our Storm Guardians in place of their pistols’ shuriken fuel…It may be as effective. I obtained it from Archon Oberon. He owed me a favor.” Lenea nodded, but she was far from convinced. Their dark cousins made it very difficult for Craftwold Eldar to trust them.

Soon after, Aramel received a telepathic message from Farseer Erethentil. The Tau had been persuaded to relinquish control of the third sensor array. However, they knew nothing of the Space Marines’ survival and assumed that all had perished. Together, the three arrays will provide incontrovertible proof of the Alpha Legion’s presence within the Sorathian System and offer a clear indication of its movements on Tarandros itself. Once the arrays were in place, and the unconscious Astartes carefully deposited on the earth nearby, the protectors of Ulthwé prepared to leave. Before they parted, Lenea asked Aramel “could we not have simply told the shadowy mon-keigh that their quarry was here?” He smiled sadly. Though she could not see this through the Farseer’s helm, his mood was captured in the tone of his reply “alas, this is the only way in which Captain Tomas of the Dark Angels would believe our message. We explored countless futures before deciding on this course, but humans are very distrustful of alien species. This one in particular, would never accept that our warnings rung true. Thus, only the technology of his own people would suffice to guide him.”

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Guardsman Yorik was completely disoriented as he regained consciousness. He rose from the dirt and felt about his uniform for a wound, but did not find any. Though he distinctly remembered being struck in the back, he had somehow survived the same lethal weapon that had annihilated the mighty Adeptus Astartes bike squad. Yorik looked about, searching for friend and foe. Of the enemy, there was no sign. In the distance he heard the moaning of wounded Guardsmen. Occasionally Yorik would hear orders being barked, though he could not make out the words. It was probably that psyker again. All else was eerie quiet. As he searched his surroundings, he was very surprised to see a sizable contingent of Dark Angels congregating within the closest ruined building. These reinforcements must have routed the Xenos scum, the Guardsman reasoned. Carefully making his way through the rubble, Yorik moved in their direction.

When he was only a short distance away, Yorik could see three ancient machines placed in a semi-circle within the ruins. Standing before it, a Space Marine with finely decorated armor held a tiny disc-like object in his armored left hand. Yorik imagined that this must be the Dark Angel Captain. Before the Guardsman’s eyes, a holographic image projected itself from the strange device. It appeared to be a recording of some sort. It displayed a thin,robed, figure that began to speak. “Greetings Captain Tomas. I am Farseer Aramel of Craftworld Ulthwé.” The Eldar spoke Imperium basic with a strange accent. The words were clear and precise, but the inflection sounded forced and bizarre.

“Apologies for the subterfuge” the Eldar continued “it was the only way that we could retrieve these devices. Without them, you would not heed our warnings. Those you hunt are here. Know that they are our enemy also, and that we mean you no harm.” When the message ended, Captain Tomas crushed the projecting device in his fist. “Surely we cannot trust the Xenos scum?!” Blurted out Guardsman Yorik. The nearest Space Marine walked towards him, until he towered above Yorik. “Identify yourself Guardsman” he commanded. “Yes my lord!” Yorik exclaimed as he saluted. He then proceeded to stammer his name, rank and serial number. The super-human colossus nodded in acknowledgement “very well, Guardsman, you have served the Emperor well. Return to your unit” he commanded. “Yes my lord!” Yorik replied and went to rejoin the other Imperial Guard survivors. He had only taken a few steps when he heard shots fired nearby. He turned to see what was happening, only to come face to face with the Dark Angel’s bolt-pistol. Before he could say anything, the Astartes pulled the trigger.

Elsewhere, Chaos Lord Croxius lurked in the shadows, mounted upon his colossal warbike. The rest of his squad waited patiently behind him. In the distance, two Rhinos painted in Ultramarine colors rumbled toward an Imperial Guard checkpoint. The fools stood between Croxius and his goal. His misguided Astartes brothers had come seeking ancient gene-seed, to create more drones to serve the false emperor. “But they would not have it!” Croxius thought. The hated loyalist marines had hoarded his birthright for far too long. He would liberate the gene-seed and at long last the Legion would be allowed to grow, and engulf all of the Gods’ enemies. For this, he would be richly rewarded.

As soon as the Rhino transports came within sight of the Guardsmen, they were illuminated by several search lights. A vox-projector came to life with a loud burst of static “My lords!” exclaimed a nervous sounding Guardsman, “your Captain Titus has instructed us to ensure that none pass this point. We knew not to expect any Astartes from outside the perimeter” he continued. “Kindly speak the words of passage, and we shall hinder you no further” the Guardsman explained. Both transports activated their dirge casters. “For the Emperor!” twenty baritone voices shouted at the top of their genetically enhanced lungs. “Ah…indeed” replied the Guardsman, “but those are not quite the established words…if you…” At that point, the Rhinos accelerated to full speed and started to race towards the Imperial Guard lines. At the same time, their dirge casters began emitting a continuous stream of inhuman wailing and other disturbing, incomprehensible sounds.

Lord Croxius smiled wickedly as realization dawned upon the hapless humans. Thanks to the daemonic gifts that enhanced his already considerable Astartes physiology, he could hear the Guardsmen’s cries of terror. “Traitor marines!” Many of them shouted in shrill voices. The dirge casters’ symphonies were doing their work. The Imperial Guard scrambled to fire their guns at the advancing Rhinos, but it was too late. The chaos lord and his bikers revved their engines into a deafening roar and crashed onto the open cityscape, bellowing war cries and brandishing their cruel, daemon-morphed weapons. A pair of obliterators manifested out of the raw warp and unleashed powerful bolts of las-cannon fire upon the nearest enemy vehicle. The destructive beams burned deep holes into the Guardsman tank, turning it into a useless wreck.

As the chaos bikers rampaged across the battlefield, the Imperial Guard focused their firepower upon them. Two of their number were eventually shot off of their saddle, but Chroxius cared not. He hungered for carnage. Finally he reached the enemy’s lines and charged into the ranks of Guardsman infantry. They posed no real threat to the mighty chaos lord and he reveled in their slaughter. A demonic howl form above signaled a Helldrake’s arrival. It descended upon the puny mortals and bathed them in the glorious flames of Chaos. Meanwhile, the Alpha Legion warriors had jumped out of their camouflaged Rhinos. Together with the obliterators’ heavy weapons, they lay waste to the Guardsman infantry and armor.

Croxius gloried in his impending victory. The surprise of his attack had been complete, and the servants of the false emperor were being swept away like wheat before the scythe. The chaos lord was so consumed with thoughts of his inevitable ascension, that he failed to notice that the weight of Guardsman firepower was taking its toll on his squad. By the time he finished butchering a squad of guardsmen with his chain-sword, he found himself alone. It mattered not. He had been chosen by the Gods. Croxius knew with absolute certainty that no mortal weapon could harm him. He revved his bike’s engines once more and charged headlong into the last remaining squad of Guardsmen.

Hundreds of lasgun beams rained upon him. Croxius laughed at these pathetic attempts to slay him and accelerated. When he was almost face to face with this fresh enemy, the chaos lord sought to raise his chain-sword above his head. Inexplicably, his mighty muscles refused to comply. With all of his will, Croxius commanded his limb to move, but it would not budge. “What trickery is this?!” He wanted to bellow, but found that he had no voice. Unable to control his bike, Croxius was powerless to prevent his deviation into a pile of rubble. He crashed into it and was violently thrown off of his saddle. As he lied on his back, unable to move, the chaos lord realized that he was dying. Enslaved by his own bloodlust and thirst for power, Croxius had led his squad, alone, into the heart of the enemy forces. Heedless to his grievous wounds, he had fought on. Now, Croxius’ broken body was damaged far beyond its ability to heal. In his mind, the chaos lord howled in rage. But soon, his life-force was utterly spent. Somewhere within the warp, a Greater Daemon of Tzeench roared with laughter.

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Captain Tomas witnessed the complete annihilation of the Imperial Guard’s forces at the hands of the Alpha Legion. With his bike squad, Tomas had used the data retrieved from the sensor arrays to locate the Fallen. Having seen them with his own eyes, the Dark Angel was forced to accept that the Xenos had spoken truthfully, at least in part. He turned to one of his squad members and said “Librarian Darwyn must know of this. Inform him that our quarry has been found.” The marine nodded “it shall be done my captain. Also, Commissar Nemo wishes to know what befell the forces stationed at the abandoned manufactorum.” The Captain replied immediately “tell him that there were no survivors. The Tau slew all before we could intervene.”

Chapter 1: Rising Tide

An ugly planet, an ORK planet!

An ugly planet, an ORK planet!

A great noise startled Zug. The ork had never heard such a sound and looked around in confusion. The scarred earth around him showed no signs of disturbance. The noise came a second time, exploding in the feral ork’s ears. This time Zug distinctly sensed that the unfamiliar commotion came from above, which was odd, because nothing came from above. Except for tasty birds, now and then. The ork looked up and was amazed by what he saw.

A great, shiny, yellow rock was plunging towards him, with a great black plume of smoke trailing behind it. Too mesmerized to do anything, Zug just stood there as the object plummeted to the ground at incredible speed. Impossibly, it slowed only a few tree lengths from the ground and smashed against the ground with a heavy thud only a short distance from where the ork stood. Sensing that this rock might somehow be important, Zug raced towards it. Mebbe diz rock make gud chopaz! The ork thought to himself. Boss wud be soo pleazed!

When he reached the shimmering object, Zug stopped at arm’s length from its strange surface. As he looked, Zug was alarmed by the sight of another ork staring back at him from the rock. “Oi!” he bellowed, “wot ya doin in dat rock?” Zug demanded. The strange ork made no sound, but opened his mouth and waved his arms menacingly, so Zug swung his club and smashed it right into the other ork’s face. The weapon shattered on impact. The other ork seemed unharmed, but looked extremely puzzled. Suddenly a hissing sound emanated from the shiny rock in front of Zug. Before he had time to react, a large sliver of the object came crashing down on top of the feral ork.

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Cap’n Klaw raised a single orky eyebrow. The gangplank had just said Oww. It didn’t usually do that. Must be the mek messing with him. Klaw would bash his funny head in later. With a happy roar, the ork pirate jumped onto the surface of Tarandros. His boyz followed eagerly, stomping noisily down the gangplank. But the steel slab used by the ork pirates as an entrance ramp kept making strange whimpering noises.

“Right, I’ve bout had enuf o dis!” shouted Cap’n Klaw, and trudged over to the gangplank. The giant ork shoved a pair of boyz that were standing on the plank out-of-the-way and lifted the metal with a grunt of effort. Beneath, he found the bruised shape of a mostly naked ork. With his Dakka hand, Klaw grasped the poor sod by the neck and lifted him up to the Cap’n enormous head. “Oi!” Klaw roared, shaking the ork “are you alive?” he demanded. His chest no longer crushed by hundreds of pounds of ork and metal, Zug was able to breathe again, somewhat. He coughed and sputtered, slowly regaining consciousness.

When Zug finally opened his eyes, he was face to face with the biggest, meanest looking ork that he had ever seen. In vain he tried to struggle and free himself. Red beady eyes peered at him intensely, completely unnerving the feral ork. Cap’n Klaw inspected the wretch from head to toe, and recognized the brute for what he was. He dumped Zug on the ground, but threatened him with his massive power klaw, to make sure he would not run off. “Me name’s Cap’n Klaw! Me an me space boyz iz startin a grand propa Waaaaagggghhh! I came ere to gather up any real orks wot wants a gud fight! Where iz your boss?” the pirate shouted. “Ugghh…Err…youze da boss…Boss.” Zug replied nervously.

The orky pirate captain roared with laughter and slapped his newest boy on the back, propelling him head first into the dirt. “Aye! Good answer, you lot, find dis boy a choppa an a dakka gun! Wez got lots of work ta do.”

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To the human mind, the warp is only a place of madness and unreality. A realm of chaos, to be avoided at all costs. The Eldar, however, are bound to the warp in manner unlike any other known race, and remember a time before the dark pantheon dominated the immaterium. For the Eldar, the warp is still the realm of infinite possibilities and source to most of their technology. Contrary to the belief of many, the warp and the materium are not realms apart. They flow in symbiotic concert with each-other. The places where the two meet, are known to the Eldar as the skeins of fate.

Aboard his sleek scout ship Asredil, Farseer Aramel opened his mind to the skein. Using wraithbone runes to guide him, the Eldar seer sifted through the myriad possibilities that the immediate future offered. The balance of probability confirmed that the events transpiring on the world of Tarandros within the coming cycles would have a decisive impact on the future. Aramel saw images of an Ork Warboss, with millions of his savage brethren flocking to his banner. He saw also the blazing symbol of the Mon Keigh Ultramrines, plunging into the heart of this growing green tide.

But these things were easily discernible using his vessel’s instruments. The Farseer delved deeper and saw the point of flux; a decision made that could lead to radically different futures. Where the armies of many races fought, the choices of one would determine the fate of all. Aramel had seen this many times, during his voyage through the webway from Craftworld Ulthwé, yet he could still not be certain of what act would forge the most favorable future.

As time advanced towards the point of flux, the skein would become clearer, and Aramel trusted that it would reveal the path that he must take. The Farseer allowed his mind to return to his body, and opened his eyes to Asredil’s crystal meditation chamber. He was not alone. Farseer Erethentil and several warlocks had added the strength of their minds to empower his visions. “The time for action approaches” said Erethentil. Aramel nodded, and rose to prepare his Black Guardians of Ulthwé for battle.