The Spawn of the Void – Shamus’ Return

The following is the prologue to a one day narrative event.  Multiple armies will be battling it out to try to claim the tightly held prizes from the depths of this space hulk.  Some armies seek to claim these treasures for their own personal gain.  Others have strict orders from their superiors to secure the hulk and await for other forces to arrive to handle the extraction.  Lastly, some more renegade factions seek to destroy the hulk and it’s prizes in an effort to deny their foes from gaining the possibly destructive powers hidden within.  Participants to this event will need to write their own short back story explaining their forces motivation within this event (stories should be loosely based around the previously listed motivations).  The previous saga of Shamus can be found here.

Shamus McCraken stretched his arms and gazed around the smoky crew quarters of the Indomitable Zeal. He had been stuck on this strike cruiser off and on for 3 years now.  After his brush with the Minotaurs and Dark Angels, he didn’t have much of a purpose again. The Minotaurs, after much interrogations, had cleared him of any heresy and left him back at the Imperial staging point on Orvis IV.  He tried to re-unite with his regiment from Verdan III, but was shocked to learn the entire regiment was lost to the ork Waaagh.  He actually got a chuckle when he found his name listed among the dead.

He spent several weeks in the staging area.  Shamus only really had two professions at this point, farmer and solider.  And since Orvis IV was a warzone and not an agri world, he went back to doing the only thing that made sense to him.  So, he started tagging along with other guard squads as they were deployed.  Eventually they all started asking where he came from.  Shamus didn’t want to get into all the business with his old sergeant and the Adeptus Astartes.  He would slip away in the night once the other guardsmen’s curiosity started to get to overwhelming.  But as the campaign inevitably went in the Imperiums favor, there were less and less forces to try to blend in with.

That is when he met Inquisitor Francisco.  He had noticed Francisco around several of the command tents throughout the campaign.  He seemed to get under the skin of the officers, which was just fine by Shamus.  What wasn’t fine was when Shamus noticed that Francisco started to question all the other guardsmen Shamus had been serving with over those few weeks.

Eventually the Inquisitor corned Shamus directly. Shamus had to admit, this man was pretty sharp.  He had already pieces together Shmaus’ involvement with the Minotaurs and his brush with the Dark Angels.  He was primarily interested in Shamus’ old sergeant.  Shamus was reluctant to talk until Francisco offered Shamus something he could not refuse.  Purpose.  Francisco offered to take Shamus with him off this world as part of his retinue in exchange for whatever information Shamus had.

That’s how Shamus ended up here, in the strike cruiser of Inquistor Francisco.  Sometimes he had trouble believing it himself.  He had seen a fair amount of action after joining the Inquisitor.  He had grown a grudging respect for the man and the other members of the retinue he had served with.  He often came out from his quarters in the evening to swap war stories with the other unfortunate souls.

This evening’s discussion was focused on the legend of the Spawn of the Void.  According to Arthur, it is a veritable cornucopia of lost treasures.  Then again Arthur was a former hive ganger, and would tell you he once shook hands with The Emperor if he thought you would believe him.  The pessimist of the group, Donivan, swore he was part of a salvage crew that spotted the infamous hulk once.  When there ship got close, their asupex light up with signatures.  Donivan swore he could hear the orks bellowing before their ship finally aborted their approach to the hulk.

There was one thing that Shamus could say definitively about the Spawn of the Void.  It was somehow able to broadcast a signal.  The Inquisitor apparently once managed to scan the hulk before it fell into the void.  It gave of a unique vox signature and psychic signature.  This signatures were unique in two ways.  They were low intensity, so you had to know what you were looking for if you stood a chance at finding them.  Second, they seemed to be incredibly long ranged, able to be detected from sectors away.  This alone was worth of investigation.

Last month, the Spawn of the Void had fallen out of the void near the Damocles Gulf.  When word reach Inquisitor Francisco, they had re-routed the Indomitable Zeal.  Shamus and the other crew were not able to get much more information out of Francisco about their specific mission goals.  All he knew was this was damned important to the Inquisitor.  Francisco promised that he would give them a detailed mission brief when they arrived in the system.

That never sat well with Shamus. He had learned a few things about Franscico.  One of those things was the more dangerous the mission, the less Francisco would tell them before they deployed.  But there was nothing Shamus could do now but sit back and take a swig of the cheap amesec they had on board.  Just two more months before they were supposed to be in system.

Donivan and Arthur were still going on about the Spawn of the Void.  Shamus was so bored of their story, he finally felt forced to interject something of his own to change the subject.  Grinning and leaning into the table, Shamus said “Enough of this shit about the Spawn of the Void.  Did I ever tell you guys about the time I saw Fransico steal a land raider from the Ultramarines?”

Campaign – just a start

This is going to be a short post today. A fellow legionnaire and I have started a story driven campaign. My Tyranids are invading a planet protected by the Sisters of Battle, the Carcharodons, and some tasty Guard.

The rules are pretty simple, the Nids, being an invasion Hive Fleet, have an unlimited supply of troops. My opponent has very limited troops. The allies that get to the planet before the invasion are all he has. As they die off, they cannot be replaced.

The first mission, which was played today, only involved the Sisters. The story will be told later.

Getting the Campaign Itch – Early Draft of Campaign Rules

Howdy everyone.  Severus here, and today I wanted to share with you my most recent creations.  I have been feeling some hobby boredom lately.  Don’t get me wrong, I love playing games with the guys, but I was just wanting something more out of it.  I miss playing in the campaigns we used to do a few years ago.  Then the obvious solution hit me, I should make my own campaign.

Let’s back up.  I am a horrible story teller.  I have never been interested in role playing or re-creating battles from previous fluff.  I love setting up a scenario with a little fluff and then just letting it go and see how it evolves.  So for me, running a campaign is more about designing a system that will let a story evolve.  I was never terribly good at making a story and designing a series of missions to fit.  So, with that in mind I decided to sit down and try to make a set of campaign rules that had a nice strong rule set that allowed for some interesting stories to evolve.

Here is what I have come up with.  Feel free to leave me some feedback (keep in mind, my goal is to keep the system simple and straight forward).  If you want to steal the idea and run with it, be my guest.  My goal is to try to run this system with 4-6 guys and see how it hold up.

The following image represents the game board.  It is 61 tiles, so it is a little larger than a set of planetary empires.  You can use a large print out of this or whatever game board you have handy.

Game board Editted

 

Legend:

X = Army Starting Space

3 = Tile worth 3 points instead of 1

5 = Tile worth 5 points instead of 1

Setup

Players select a primary faction and a secondary faction (secondary factions are optional).  Examples of factions include Orks, Tau, Space Marines with the same chapter tactic, Farsight Enclave, ect.  Players roll for priority (2d6, highest has priority, re-roll any ties).  Players take turns, based on priority order, choosing starting tiles.  Each player starts the game with 3 armies located in their starting tile.  Starting tiles are always captured by there respective player.  After starting tiles are selected, players begin round 1.

Rounds

Players roll for priority (2d6, highest has priority, re-roll any ties).  Players take turns, based on priority order, moving a single army.  Armies can move two tiles per turn.  Any tile that has an army move through it or stop in it is automatically captured by that army.  Armies stop moving as soon as they enter a tile captured by an enemy.  Starting spaces can never be captured by an enemy army and enemy armies can not move through them.

If two opposing armies ever occupy the same tile, both armies are prevented from moving for the rest of the round.  A battle must be fought to determine who will capture that tile.  Battles are fought at the end of a round before points are scored.  The winner stays in the tile and captures it.  The loser is pushed back to the nearest friendly space (controlling player’s choice).  No more than 2 armies can battle in a single space during a turn.

Once each player has finished moving one army, the process is repeated until all armies are moved.  Players can elect to not move an army (pass) but if they do so they can not move any army for the rest of the round.  Each army can only move once per round.

Player Interactions

Players are allowed to talk to other players during the movement of armies each round.  Alliances and bribery are permissible.

Battles

            Battles are fought using the Warhammer 40,000 7th edition rules.  All codex and supplements are permissible.  Point values are mutually agreed upon by the players.  Forgeworld units are permissible (unless that unit has experimental rules, then it is banned).  Super heavies and gargantuan monstrous creatures are not permitted.  Mission and deployment are randomly generated as described in the warhammer rule book.

Armies must be battle forged (IE not unbound).  An army’s primary detachment must be the primary faction the player selected and must contain their warlord (aka if taking a CAD and an ally, the primary faction must be the CAD).  Army composition can be made up of no more than 2 sources.  Examples of two sources include a CAD and an assassin detachment, a CAD and a CAD, an ork horde detachment and a green tide formation, or a CAD and an allied detachment.

Points level recommendations for a battle are as follows.  Tiles worth 1 point, 1500 points or less.  Tiles worth 3 points, 2000 points or less.  Tiles worth 5 points, 2500 points or less.  The different point levels is intended to give the large point value tiles a more epic battle.

In Battle Bonuses

During a battle, players can spend points earned on the campaign board for in game bonuses.  These bonuses can be purchased at any time, but must be clearly declared by the player doing so.  The spent points are removed form the players total points.  The following is a list of options available for purchase.

  • 1 point to re-roll any dice (limit 3 per player per battle)
  • 3 points to increase or decrease reserve rolls by 1 for a game turn (This can be applied to the purchasing player or the opponent) (limit 1 per player per battle)
  • 5 points to call in an orbital bombardment (large blast Strength 10 ap 1, barrage, unlimited range, always scatters full distance) (limit 1 per player per battle)

Scoring Points

            At the end of each round, each tile controlled by a player awards them 1 point.  Tiles captured during this round are considered controlled by that player for points awarding purposes.  Some tiles are worth more points and are marked as such.

Game Length and Victory

The game lasts 7 rounds.  At the end of 7 rounds the player with the most points is declared the victor.  Remember, points spent battles are subtracted from the players total.

 

That is it.  My campaign system.  My big concerns rules wise are the in game purchases.  I am not sure if they will be to powerful and break the battles, hence I put a limit on them.  I also want them to be useful, so you are tempted to spend those hard earned points.  In terms of narrative development, I am sure there are some great stories that could come out of this.  Alliances forming and breaking.  Brides to keep enemies off your back.  Epic battles that were swung on the last turn to your favor by the use of strategic resources to call in an orbital strike.  That critical re roll of a failed invuln save to keep your character alive and carry the battle.  Let me know what you think.  Until then this is Severus saying have a good one and take it easy.

Codex Review: Tyranids Troops

Shorereaper here, bringing you part two of my Tyranid Codex Review. And today I move on to the troop choices.

I am going to start with the Warrior Brood. Warriors are the only troop choice that has a Synapse Range and Shadow in the Warp. Well, that’s not exactly true, but I will come to that later. The unit is 90 points for three, and up to six more at 30 points a model. The basic upgrades for warriors are Toxin Sacs, Flesh Hooks, and adrenal glands. The can also be upgraded with Basic Bio-Weapons and Melee Bio-weapons. This unit is not a bad option if you feel like you need more synapse to sure up you battle lines. I will cover the actual upgrade in more depth at a later date. The down side to the three wound Warriors, is that they have a lower save, and a certain weapons can easily kill them in one shot. I haven’t used them in 7th, but I do have a plan to use them soon.

The second unit listed in the Codex is the Genestealer brood. This brood is expensive coming in at a cost of 14 points per model, but they can be used effectively. They have rending claws, fleet, infiltrate, move through over, and outflank. Honestly, I would never use the outflank rule. It’s bad enough that they have to take a turn getting shot at, but to risk them not coming in, or coming in in a position where they cannot help, I would rather infiltrate them if I am going first. And if not, just deploy them.

You can field them in units of 20. They start with 2 attacks base, but for 4 more points, you can equip them with talons, giving them another attack. Again, like most of the Tyranid army, Adrenal glands and toxin sacs can be added, though I do not know if those upgrades would be worth it in this case. They have a high initiative (6) meaning that they will kill a lot before they die, and with a WS of 6, most units will be hitting on 4s or 5s.

The final upgrade for the Genestealers would be the Broodlord. For 60 points, you get a S5, T5, W3, I7, A4 super Genestealer with a WS of 7. He also is a level 1 psyker with Horror (forces opponents to take pinning test on -2 Ld). He also knows Dominion, at least according to some debates, but it is one I agree with. I usually field Genestealers in small groups and infiltrate them forward, and I never take the broodlord. This is not a unit that can be ignored by my opponent, and while the enemy is concentrating on these guys, I can get the rest of my army in place to wreck havoc.

The next unit to come up in the codex is the Termagant brood. This is the staple of the Tyranid army, and at a cost of 4 points a model, they are very cheap. However, with how weak they are, their standard weapon (the Fleshborer), and their BS, it is a good thing that they can come in large units of 30. The have a very low save of 6+ so you want to keep them in cover. However, if you can get a unit of 30 on top of an objective, and keep them in synapse range, It will take a lot to move them off of that objective (and objective secured comes into play here).

The other great thing about 30 Termagants is that you can now have a Tervigon as a troop choice. Having a T6 monster with 6 wounds and objective secured parked on top of an objective almost guarantees you that one objective. Plus, while it is holding the objective, it is spawning more units with objective secured. There is down side, which I did not cover in the HQ review, and that is that if the Tervigon does actually die, he can take a lot of termagants with him. When slain, each friendly unit of Termagants within 12 inches of the Tervigon takes 3D6 S3 AP- wounds with no cover saves allowed. Still, this is a troop unit that I very much recommend. And while it has gotten more expensive to field a Tervigon as a troop unit, it is still very much worth it. The old codex did not have a minimum Termagant troop requirement, as long as you had a unit. Now you have to have a full unit of 30.

Of course, if I talk about Termagants, I have to talk about Hormaguants. These are the close combat versions of the Termagants. They cost an extra point, and I am not really sure if they are worth it, but for some reason I like them. I just don’t use them as much as I want to. Again, you can field them in a unit of 30, but they are very weak and have almost no armour save. WS of 3, BS of 3 (what can they shoot?), S3, T3, W1, I5, A2, and a leadership of 6. If you can get this unit into close combat, and keep them in synapse range, they can tie up a unit for a whole game, and may even kill a few in the process. On the charge, that would be 90 attacks (if everyone can get into combat).

The Hormagaunts also have a special rule called Bounding Leap. Hormaguants are allowed to run an extra 3 inches. So, their base run will be most other unit’s average run on 1D6. They also have fleet, almost guaranteeing that they will run much more than 4 inches. Other upgrade possibilities include adrenal glands, but since they already have fleet, they only gain Furious Charge. They can also take toxin sacs, giving them poisoned attacks. But at 2 points per model on the Adrenal Glands and 3 points per model on the Toxin Sacs, I am having a really hard time justifying the cost. Not only can I not justify the cost of the upgrades, but also of the unit itself. Sure, it has objective secured, but you need to use them in close combat, or they are completely useless. What is the point of picking this unit just to have them sit on an objective? You have to rush them towards the enemy.

The final troop option in the Tyranid codex is the Ripper Swarm. This is a unit that I have taken in the past, but I have yet to take it in 7th edition. Every time I have taken the Rippers, I just had fun. They are weak, easy to kill, they can’t hit anything, but there sure are a lot of them. As per usual, the maximum number of models that can be taken is nine, but with that nine you get 36 attacks, possibly 45 if you can get the charge off. Their save is as good as the Termagants (in other words, nothing), but with the swarm rules, one failed save may kill the whole model. On top of the Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, you can buy the Deep Strike rule and Spinefists. And seeing 9 of these marching across the field and then tying up units that are so much more expensive always brings a laugh. For the first round at least, after that your opponent may start to get frustrated that little bugs are holding up a key part of his army.

In conclusion, the Tyranids bring with them a decent choice of troops. Sure, their armour saves are not the greatest, but there can be a lot of them. And as long as they are within synapse range, the opponent may need to kill 30 of them just to get them off of an objective.

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.

20140610-061607 am-22567191.jpg

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!

Thoughts on our latest narrative event

Yesterday was the third round of our gaming groups narrative event “Battle for Tarandros”.  We started this event back in February after a few of us, myself included, grew tired of the competitive way we had been playing.  I had some hobby burnout, and at the suggestions of a few people on the independent character’s forums, decided to try a series of narrative events.

Our local gaming store, Critical Hit Games, agreed to let us use the gaming tables one Saturday a month in place of their normally planned 40k events, usually small tournaments.  Augustus, our chief librarian, enjoys writing so he agreed to writing the narrative that framed these events.  You can find those in our previous blog posts.  Now with a little planning with the Lord Primarch, Shorereaper, Augustus, and myself, we were on our way.

Now, our first few events we tried to keep it simple.  The missions were nothing fancy. The first event was crusade and the second was kill points.  We kept it simple to encourage new players to join us.  We averaged about 8-10 players per event, mostly guys from our gaming group.

This time I wanted to try running a mission that was a little less standard to try to reflect the story we are playing.  At this point in the narrative, the imperial forces, led by the ultramarines, are advancing on a location the marines believe holds a store of gene seed left from the great crusade.  Various forces of evil/disorder/orks are in their way.

To represent this, Shorereaper and I worked up the following mission.  Deployment type, deployment, and night fighting were all regular rule book style.  The forces of the imperium were the attackers, forces of evil were the defenders.  There were three objective markers, one in the exact middle of the board, the other two the defender places in their deployment zone.  Starting in attackers turn two, if the attacker has a scoring unit within 3 inches of an objective marker that is not engaged in close combat, they remove the objective marker from the table.  At the end of the game (random game length), each objective removed in this way gives the attacker 1 point.  Each objective left on the table gives the defender 1 point.  Most points win.

Now, I had thought this was a pretty fair mission, the central objective should be easy for the attackers to take I thought, then it would be a slug fest to try to take one more.  As it turns out, I was wrong.  No attackers scored a single objective in the event.  Defenders won 3-0 on all tables.  We had 10 players on 3 tables, most of us fairly seasoned players.  The closest anyone came was the Lord Primarch almost scored one on Ralshenik before Ralshenik crushed him with a deamon prince.

So, what did I learn? Play testing is important.  We could have sorted out some of these balance issues before hand.  I am toying around with how to use this mission in the future.  Ideas are to always give the attacker first turn, have 2 objectives in the neutral ground and 1 in the defenders deployment zone, and to allow any non vehicle unit to score an objective.

I want some feed back from any of you that attended the event.  I also wouldn’t mind feedback from any readers that see how we could improve in the future.

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.

Setting the Scene: Battle for Tarandros Part 2

The imperial’s success in the first part of our battle has given them a foothold on the ork infested planet.  There next step is to setup a base of operations on the planet.  From there further attacks can be launched against the greenskins and any other xenos that seek to prevent the imperials from reaching there goal.  With this in mind, the gathered elements of the imperial forces have setup a defensive perimeter around the new base of operations.

The orks see this base of operations as a great chance to get a good fight in.  The full force of the ork waagh has still not hit home against the imperials yet.  Scattered elements of the orks have begun to throw themselves at the lines of imperials.

In the mean time the other xenos forces on Tarandros still seek there own objectives.  They may join in this battle if it suits there goals, although which side they will join is not clear.

Finally, don’t forget the present of chaos space marines and daemons on the planet.  Surely they will take the opportunity present by the ork attacks to strike at vulnerable points in the imperial forces.

With this commander I leave you.  I will see you planet side with my orks.  Records of our battles will be kept and the story told by our chief librarian.  Until then,  WAAAAAAAAAAGH!

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.”