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!

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?

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.”

Planetfall: Part 2

As the first newcomers arrived on Tarandros, an enormous dust cloud raced across the south of the planet. Harsh voices could be heard emanating from this cloud; shouting and cheering for no discernible reason. At the head of this cloud, an enormous ork stood on-top of his battle wagon. He wore a black tricorn hat and wielded a great power klaw. A long, black leather jacket billowed behind him. “We’z a gonna cromp some ‘eads, cromp some ‘eads, cromp some eads…” the ork warboss sang at the top of his lungs, gesturing wildly with his klaw. “Kap’n Klaw!” cheered the nearby orks, whether they could hear him or not. Great fights were going on all over the planet, and they were all very excited to reach one.

Without warning, tiny red things started falling from the sky, which seemed very strange to the ork warboss. Only once they hit the ground a short distance away, did he recognize them for what they were. “Space Mahreens!!!” He shouted gleefully, and kicked his driver to make him go faster. The vehicle lurched as the bruised driver shifted into a higher gear, then careened forward at top speed. Seeing this, every other driver in this rag-tag convoy did everything possible to keep up.

Ork Battlewagons

But suddenly, strange beams of focused light erupted from the horizon and crashed into the ork vehicles. A truk was hit directly in the engine and exploded. Behind the Mahreens, the ork warlord could see sleek purple vehicles hovering in his direction, firing their strange weapons at him. “Dat no fair!” shouted the ork leader.

“Dat’s right, no fair at all!” boomed a deep and orky voice. The ork warlord was so surprised, that he almost fell from his wagon. He looked up, and saw an enormous winged ork hovering above him. Everything about this being shouted strength, cunning and toughness. He even shone with a green aura of orkiness. The warlord’s mouth hung wide open as he took in this awe-inspiring sight. He was so dumbfounded that he almost fell off his truck a second time. Eventually, he had the presence of mind to ask “um…wot are ya?” The being roared with laughter. The kind of laughter than one only hears from an ork during the best fight of his life. “I am Gork, puny one! From my orky realm I have seen your Grand Space Waaagh! It is, without doubt, da best Waaagh that I have ever seen!”

Though he was certainly amazed by this revelation, the ork warboss had no doubt in his mind, whatsoever, that before him floated an ork deity. However, he had a very strong suspicion that this entity was actually Mork, but he wisely kept his doubts to himself. “But, dere be one ting dat stands in da way o da best Waaagh evar!” Gork continued. “Da tricksy El’da! Dem pointy eared weaklings hate da orks! Coz dey jealous of how strong and green da ork is, so always dey try to spoil da best fights!” The ork warlord had never hear of these ‘El’da’ creatures, but they sounded like terrible people and nodded vigorously at everything that Gork, but more likely Mork, told him. “But have no fear, dat why I came! I’ll help ya beat da El’da so dat you can has fight wif da Space Mahreens! Now, I’ll be summonin some friends to help in da fight. Dey be ork spirits o da best orks to ‘ave died in da best ‘o fights!”

With a strong and orky flourish, Gork waved his his arms, and several large green clouds appeared throughout the battlefield. Fifteen great green hounds materialized out of the nearest cloud. In the distance, six orks riding strange wavy creatures exploded out of a second cloud. To the right, fifteen strange orks sauntered out of a third cloud. They looked just like ordinary orks, wielding two choppas, but they were slightly thinner and had two weird lumpy-things on their chests. The ork warlord was amazed and overjoyed that such beings would fight by his side. As his Battlewagon continued to speed along, Gork spoke to him one final time “now, just tell ya boyz dat dese ere ork spirits iz gonna fight wif us!” With that, he floated high into the sky and began to fire great green bolts of orky power at the enemy.

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Aboard his Stormraven transport, it did not take long for Blood Angels Chaplain Malkor to realize that something was very wrong. The once-clear desert skies of Tarandros had turned overcast without warning. Soon, unnatural lightning, with no thunder, erupted all around him. The Astartes pilot fought valiantly with his controls, and succeeded in evading the ravages of this impossible storm. On the ground below, Malkor watched as vile daemonspawn materialized near the advancing ork vehicles and began to move towards the four Blood Angel assault marine squads that awaited him. Only now did the Chaplain understand. This was not a tempest of this world. He had flown into a warp storm. He attempted to contact Librarian Alfonso, or their strike cruiser in orbit, but the storm made all communication impossible. In this fight, the Blood Angels stood alone.

On the ground below, the brave Blood Angels prepared themselves to meet the combined ork and daemonic forces. Survival seemed an impossible goal, but they were each of them prepared to sell their lives dearly. “For Sanguinius, for the Emperor!” They shouted, as one. Fifteen enraged hounds of Khorne had materialized right next to the left-most assault squad and began to gallop towards the five Astartes. When they were only steps away from their prey, they were assailed by a hail of missiles. First, a storm of laser fire burned into them from three different directions. Next, thousands of mono-molecular discs sliced through them at hypervelocity. Many hounds fell to this onslaught. Heartened by the beasts’ thinned numbers, the five assault marines boldly charged into the daemonic dogs, firing their pistols as they went.

Four purple Eldar skimmers had joined the battle, firing their shuriken and laser weapons at the ork vehicles and daemons alike. Four of the six screamers were brought low, whilst a number of daemonettes were sent howling back to the warp from whence they came. The Eldar firepower also brought ruin to all of the ork transports but one; Kap’n Klaw’s Battlewagon. Three smaller, faster Eldar vehicles sped along the right flank, showering the orks with monomolecular death. Deep within the right flank, twenty Eldar warriors guarded two robed figures. To the eyes of the Blood Angel assault marines, these were clearly psykers. One was evidently senior, as his rune armor seemed more elaborate to the enhanced Astartes vision. They reasoned that he must be one of the famed “Farseers.”

Apparently the Eldar were just as susceptible to the depredations of chaos as humans for, without warning, the lesser psyker began to shriek in pain. His body began to spasm uncontrollably and started to twist and contort, until the Eldar’s physique transformed into the hideous form of a Herald of Tzeench. Enraged, the daemon fired a bolt of psychic energy at the nearest skimmer, inflicting noticeable structural damage, before being cut down by his former-companions’ shuriken weapons.

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The ork warlord was getting very upset at the El’da. They were shooting up all of his boyz’ truks and wagons, slowing them down and stopping them from getting into the fight. Not his Battlewagon of course. Not only did it have red paint, but it had obviously been blessed by Gork, or possibly Mork, so was now fast AND indestructible. Soon they pesky El’da would be dead, and the ork warlord and his boyz could get back to fighting the Blood Angels. This thought reminded him about the Space Marines, who were now in dakka range. “Light em up boyz!” He shouted.

Every ork with dakka, which was all of them, opened fire. However, for lack of good aim, the disorientation of having one’s truk blown up from under one’s feet, or more El’da trickery, not a single Marine died to the, otherwise impressive, fusillade. “Dat was pathetic boyz! ‘Ere, lemme show yaz how tis done!” The ork warboss aimed his twin-linked big shoota and fired at the nearest Blood Angel, killing him instantly. Every ork was very impressed by this marksmanship. Clearly their leader was indeed blessed by the favor of Gork, just as he told them. Finally, the Battlewagon was within sight of one of the hated floaty-tank things that had been so annoying. While the vehicle still moved at full speed, the ork warlord jumped from his wagon. Ten Nobz followed suit, landing with heavy thuds, their impressive bulk preventing momentum from throwing them on their faces.

With a gleeful roar, the ork warboss shouted “WAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHH!!!” at the top of his lungs. Every ork on the battlefield heard this exultant cry and became overwhelmed by the constant itch for battle. They felt as though they could charge over any distance, so long as they ended up in a good fight. The Kap’n used this energy to pounce on the nearest El’da vehicle. With a few wild swings of his power klaw, the weird floaty machine was a smoldering ruin, that would spoil fights no longer. Overhead, a dakka jet fired madly into another floaty-thing. However, his weapons were not as big, nor as mighty as his leader’s claw, so they failed to destroy their target.

Dakka jet

Two new green clouds appeared near the El’da. When the strange mist dissipated, two enormous killa kans were revealed. Somehow, giant scorchas had been welded to these mechanical behemoths. Gork’s realm must have very good meks! One of these walkers fired a gout of flame at the El’da on foot, cooking many of the weaklings inside their puny rubber suits. The other moved against one of the three remaining floaty-things. The ork warlord was ready to do the same, when he was distracted by a very loud buzzing sound. He turned, and saw a red box-looking plane flying directly at him. In moments, the vehicle was only a boyz’ throw away. It landed on the desert floor and opened. From inside, ten very angry sounding Space Marines charged at the Kap’n and his nobz. As they ran towards the orks, they shouted: “HOOORRRRUUUSSSSS!”

The orks were so astounded by this unexpected orky behavior, that they almost forgot their manners. “WAAAGH!” They all shouted, once they recovered, and jumped to meet the Marines. This was going to be a really good fight. The two sides collided like steel on rock. The combined mindless fury would have been terrifying for anyone to behold. The ork warlord grunted out a guttural challenge, but the marine leader calmly pushed one of his companions in the great ork’s direction. So infused was he by the power of Gork, that he could know no defeat. He swung his klaw five times, and five marines lay dead by his hands. His nobz did not do nearly as well, though they did manage to kill two more, while losing only five of their number. In the sky overhead, Gork continued to rain orky green death upon his enemies. The warboss smiled and raised his klaw in triumphant solidarity.

HOOOORUUUUS!

But then, disaster struck. The same plane that had delivered such a grand fight, returned to attack Gork himself! It fired its nasty weapons against the entity, making him howl in anger. Bullet after bullet smashed into the orky being’s form, until at last, he could no longer sustain his presence in this reality. “NOOOOOOO!” Shouted the warboss, as Mork was forced back to his orky realm. So distraught was the Kap’n by this great injustice, that he closed his eyes and wailed in frustration. When he opened his eyes, however, everything had changed. He was no longer standing on a desert world. There were no Marines or Eldar nearby, and all of his boyz were gone too. Instead, he was in a place where nothing made sense. Direction had no meaning, things that should never be together were fused as one, and a sense of deep wrongness pervaded everything. The ork looked up and saw that he stood before an enormous, two headed beaky creature, with blue wings, that held a long curvy stick. “Hey!” The ork complained “you’re not Gork!”

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Malkor rejoiced as the greater daemon was forced back into the warp by the Stormraven’s weapons. The sudden and unexplained disappearance of Kap’n Klaw was also gratifying. Without their leader, the remaining five nobz had lost the will to fight and were easily run down by the frenzied Death Company. Yet elsewhere, the battle did not go so well. Of the four assault squads that had begun the battle, only one remained, valiantly wresting the high ground from the last remaining ork boyz. Nearby, the Death Company dreadnought that had also deployed from the Stormraven, had charged into a band of daemonettes.

Ordinarily, there is naught that can withstand the unstoppable power of the Blood Angels’ most vicious dreadnought. But the decadent servants of Slaanesh are not of this world, and mortal weapons do not always harm such as them. Malkor watched helplessly as the proud Astartes machine flailed ineffectively against the swarm of daemonettes, unable to slay even one of their number. In return, the fiends rent great holes into the dreadnought’s armor with their evil claws. Before he was able to retaliate, the daemonettes destroyed the Death Company champion utterly. For him, there would be no more battles.

The unlikely Eldar allies fared no better. The daemons had destroyed all of their vehicles but one, which listed badly to one side, its grav-engine damaged by the daemonic onslaught. The Eldar Farseer remained, directing his forces to slay the last remnants of the daemonic incursion. The orks all lay dead. Or so the Chaplain believed. However, Malkor now heard the unmistakable whine of the ork flyer that had proven so ineffective against the Eldar skimmers. This time, it unleashed its storm of bullets at the Farseer and his beleaguered squad, already greatly reduced in number. The psyker’s power seemed to hold many of the oncoming missiles at bay, and allowed him to anticipate and avoid the flyer’s shots. But there was nowhere to hide, and the ork strafing run was unrelenting. Eventually, only the Farseer remained on his feet, until he too was slain.

As this happened, the last surviving assault marine squad charged into a second group of daemonettes. They fought bravely, but the creatures were too lithe, too unnaturally fast and their claws cut through Astartes battle plate as though it were flak armor. It was not long before Chaplain Malkor and his remaining Death Company wards were the last standing Blood Angels on the battlefield. With the same energy that they had when the battle began, the doomed warriors charged into the daemonettes that had so humbled their entombed brother. “HOOORRRRUUUSSSSS!” they shouted. This time, the only reply was mocking laughter. Many daemonettes fell to the Blood Angels’ onslaught, but they were simply too many. Death Company marines fell in quickly succession, until only Malkor remained.

He swung his holy crozius and crushed a daemon’s skull, banishing its filth to the warp. The Chaplain had guided his brothers to an honourable death. He had fulfilled his sacred duty. His ceremonial black armor was cut in countless places, his lifeblood seeping from just as many wounds, and even his impressive Astartes physiology struggled to keep him conscious. At long last, Blood Angels Chaplain Malkor felt his knees buckle, and was powerless to prevent his body from falling upon the blood splattered mud of Tarandros. With his last breath, he gave thanks to the Emperor, that he may now rejoin his father, and was no more.

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After making his final pass, the dakka jet pilot realized that he was the last ork left alive. He therefore decided that it would be best for him to head on home. But first, he thought that he should probably radio Kap’n Klaw. The real Kap’n Klaw; the single biggest, baddest, saltiest and most clever ork pirate that there ever was! Early on in his conquest of Tarandros, Klaw realized that the indigenous orks were really, really thick. So thick, that they would only follow him if they could actually see him. In order to be everywhere at once, the Savvy ork pirate concocted a most brilliant plan! To each of his biggest Nobz, he gave a hat, black leather coat and Klaw, just like his, only slightly smaller.

The pilot snatched his radio receiver and squeezed on the talk button. “Boss! Dis dakka jet…uh…four…methinks.” The ork released the talk button and waited patiently. After a few moments, Kap’n Klaw’s angry voice came alive from the plane’s radio. “What ya want maggot?!” The pilot snapped to attention in his seat. “Uh, da boyz…dey iz all ded” he said hesitantly. “Ded, all of em? How’s dat?” Asked Klaw. “Um, well hell beasties showed up an’…” “Hell beasties… damonz iz wot killed all da boyz?” Interrupted Klaw. “No boss, we woz fighting wif da hell beasties we woz” the pilot replied, hesitantly.

“What ya do dat fer??!” Demanded Kap’n Klaw. The pilot started to get nervous, as if Klaw could somehow reach through the radio and strangle him. “Uh…well you told us dat…well…dat he was da boss, cuz…he had da hat an’ da Klaw…smaller dan yours ‘course! Dat why you da boss…boss. But uh, ‘e said dat Gork appeared to im from ‘is orky realm an’ brought all dem hell beasties ta help. Only…’e called em ork spirits.” A long pause followed before Klaw asked, incredulous “an’ you lot believed all dat?!” The dakka jet pilot gulped audibly “uh…well…coulda been Mork an’ um…’e woz da boss…” Cap’n Klaw growled loudly in frustration and the line went dead. The pilot shook his head, shrugged, and turned his plane in the direction of the Jolly Roja. He was pretty certain that he would not outlive the night.

Planetfall: Part 1

For hours, frenzied tidal waves of crazed green-skins dove head first into the implacable ranks of the Adeptus Astartes. The feral ork masses had never met such a foe. Precise volleys of bolter fire smashed into the advancing hordes. Stormtalon gunships hovered in the skies above, unleashing their lethal payload on the advancing savages. Those that were not cut down by the righteous thunder lived only to meet the warriors of Ultramar in brutal close combat. At the fore, stood brother Captain Titus, resplendent in his battle regalia. Amidst the ruin of countless fallen orks, the Ultramarine leader fought on, tireless and undaunted.

By the flash of their bolt-pistols and the lightning of their power-blades, Titus and his honour guard lay waste to every green-skin to cross their path. Soon, even the vast numbers of the ork horde were spent. The fight had been a slaughter. Though hungry for battle and utterly without fear, the native orks of Tarandros had little in the way of weapons that could pose a serious threat to the Astartes elite. As such, and despite the great carnage, the Ultramarines suffered no fatalities. Captain Titus sheathed his weapon and surveyed the battlefield. “Brother Marius” he called. From the ranks of ceramite-clad warriors, a tech-marine came forth and asked “yes my Captain?” “Tell me of the enemy’s movements” Titus commanded.

Tech-marine Marius consulted his instruments before replying: “The majority of the planet surface is overrun by green-skins. Not all are as disorganized and ill equipped as those that we just faced, however. I have analyzed Guardsmen vox traffic, and it appears that these native orks are being directed by a single warlord. Several armored divisions report engaging a fully mechanized force. From the chatter…it seems that they are no rabble of mindless orks…they are larger than average and their armor is thickly plated.” Captain Titus nodded as his suspicions were confirmed. “Then we must hunt down and slay this leader. Afterwards the reclamation fleet will perform its work.” Titus turned to Brother Antonius, who was charged with coordinating communications with the Imperial Fleet.

“Inform Admiral Vijeck that he is to deploy a platoon of Guardsmen, an armored division and Basilisk support to this position. I expect these coordinates fortified within the hour.” He said. Antonius acknowledged the command and began to relay the message. Captain Titus turned to Marius once more “tell me which Guardsman detachment has met with the fiercest resistance, that is no doubt where this warlord lies.” The tech-marine began to reply, but he was immediately interrupted by Brother Antonius. “Captain! Emergency transmission from Brother Sergeant Severus!” Titus had dispatched Severus and his bike squad to scout the area to the north of the Ultramarine landing site. Clearly something was amiss.

Captain Titus adjusted his vox controls and listened to Severus’ cold, metallic voice, broadcasting to all authorized Astertes channels. “Enemy contact, quadrant Alpha, sector 12. Xenos: designation Tyranid sighted. Spore pods breaking atmosphere. Xenos: designation Tau sighted. Both forces collaborating. Reason unknown. Guardsman convoy laid waste.” Unfazed by this unexpected development, Titus sprung into action. With a gesture, he signaled for his honour guard to form up about him. They complied in moments. The Ultramarine leader opened a channel to Battle Barge Andronicus. “Brother Severus has found a new threat. The Codex requires but one course. Emergency teleport on my position. Commence immediate deployment of strike force Beta.”

In mere moments, Titus was aboard his flagship once more and executing the strategic re-deployment of his forces. On the planet below, Sergeant Severus and his bike squad waited patiently. The horizon changed quickly form desert brown to scaly purple. As the Tyranid beasts advanced, teams of fire warriors took up positions behind them. This did not concern Severus in the slightest. He was not troubled by the sighting of a Riptide battle-suit and its impressive armament. Nor was he perturbed when the enemy swarm was a mere kilometer away, scurrying towards him at all speed, in the shade of a Hive Tyrant’s enormous bulk. For he knew no fear.

When it seemed that the Xenos masses would surely engulf the lone bike squad, strike force Beta rained down from the heavens. From their drop-pods, tactical marines and sternguard alike rushed forth and took up defensive positions about Severus’ squad, using their very transports as cover. With a deafening roar, the Tyranid Hive Tyrant flew to meet them. Every bolter weapon on the field opened fire. The first volley tore a great hole in the beast’s wings. Unable to stay aloft, it plummeted to the ground. The assembled Sternguard armed their weapons with hellfire rounds and emptied their magazines into the foul creature.

image

But the Tyrant’s hide was strong, and the massed Ultramarine firepower appeared to have no effect. Hundreds of rocket-propelled bolter-shells detonated harmlessly on the giant Tyranid’s carapace. Even the Sternguard specialized ammunition seemed ineffective. Great holes would be torn into the Tyrant’s scaly body, only to be regenerated within moments. The beast twisted and turned, roaring in fury. In spite of the terrible barrage, the creature held its ground, exhibiting no instinct for self-preservation. As though its mind were not its own. Eventually the persistent fusillade took its toll. The Hive Tyrant’s outer shell was rent asunder. Soon the beast suffered wounds that even its unnatural constitution could not heal. At last, after suffering the wrath of the marines’ weapons for fully ten minutes, it fell, lifeless.

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From his vantage point amidst his entrenched fire warriors, Cadre Fireblade O’shui observed as the insect leader died. Phase one of the prototype psi-emitter test was complete. The device was the culmination of the Water Caste’s research into solving the ork problem. Little was known of the predatory alien race that the humans called Tyranids. Unlike Vespid, these life-forms had resisted all Ethereal attempts to educate them about the Greater Good.

By chance, one of their biological vessels had been found drifting in deep space near Darkstar Sept. Once captured, Tau scientists studied the creatures found within. They learned that Tyranids operated through synaptic communication and discovered that mastery over the insect leader would grant control over the swarm. O’shui knew nothing of how the strange device operated, only that it emitted waves of energy that matched those of the insect leader, compelling all others to obey. They great beast itself had been lobotomized, and implanted with electro-shock guidance systems.

While remaining in range of the creatures, the Cadre Fireblade had monitored the purging of local ork infestations. The Tyranid weapon proved highly effective for this purpose. However, the arrival of the humans prevented a more thorough test. Evidently they had ignored the orbital buoys that clearly declared this world to be property of the Tau Empire. Materializing in Tarandros’ outer orbit, using their reckless warp technology, the Imperium of Man had made no diplomatic overtures as far as O’shui was aware. Unauthorized landings had taken place throughout the planet’s surface.

A mechanized column had even barged into the test area and began attacking the Tyranid experiment. This triggered an immediate and vicious retaliatory instinct that quickly overwhelmed and destroyed the interlopers. Afterwards, when O’shui saw the Space Marine reconnaissance unit, he knew what would come next. The Fire Cast Academies teach well the tactics of the human Imperium’s strongest warriors. It would be a honour to test the Tyranid weapon on them. An opportunity that the Cadre Fireblade could not ignore.

Now that the Tau’s pet Hive Tyrant lay dead, the Fireblade wondered if the remaining Tyranids would remain under his control. He activated the psi-emitter’s interface and confirmed that its output still emitted the frequency that should cause the swarm to attack. To his relief, the Tyranid advance continued uninterrupted. They significantly outnumbered the handful of Space Marine warriors that had just deployed to defend the bike squad, and O’shui was confident that they would be defeated. The defensively deployed Marines held firm, but the advancing insects would soon crash into its exposed right flank.

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Unbeknownst to Cap’n Klaw, his various acts of piracy throughout the Viridian sector had not gone unnoticed. Months ago, a Planetary governor had secured the aid of Alfonso, Librarian of the Blood Angels Astartes chapter. Aboard their strike cruiser, the children of Sanguinius had tracked Klaw’s erratic movements and followed them to Tarandros. They arrived in the planet’s orbit just as their Ultramrine brothers had begun their assault. Not long after, the Blood Angels intercepted a guardsman communique, reporting the sighting of an enormous Orc matching Klaw’s description. He had been seen aboard a Battlewagon, moving at all speed toward the south of the Ultramarine landing ground, accompanied by an assortment of ork vehicles.

Two squads of death company had been readied for this occasion, and they each flew to the ork warlord’s location aboard their own Stormraven gunship. The rest of the Blood Angels force remained aboard their ship, in low orbit, ready to descent into combat by jump-pack or drop pod. As soon as the cruiser reached the proper coordinates, four squads of five-strong assault marines leapt out of their ship’s open hangar. They burned through Tarandros’ atmosphere, activating their jump-packs mid-flight, and landing with thunderous impact in sight of the Ork mechanized force.

Librarian Alfonso was about to order the rest of his brothers to join the assault marines, when Ultramarine Sergeant Severus’ message burst to life on his vessel’s emergency vox channel. Immediately, he resolved to dispatch half of his force to aid the Ultramrines. He ordered one of the Stormraven pilots to change course, and joined a tactical squad in their drop-pod. At his command, they descended with all speed to the planet below, with yet another squad of assault marines falling in their wake. As his transport reached its destination, scans of the forces beneath him showed that the Tyranids were poised to flank the Ultramarines. Adjustments to the landing coordinates were made.

Before the Ultramrine lines could be enveloped by their foe, Alfonso’s drop-pod crashed into the Tyranid’s path. The Blood Angels burst forth and added their bolters’ music to their Astartes brothers’ symphony of destruction. The Blood Angel tactical squad held the creatures at bay long enough for the assault squad to arrive and charge head-long into the tangled mass of vicious Tyranids. Meanwhile, the Ultramarine firepower was so great, that the Tyranids could not reach their lines. As a result, they were effectively funneled into the right flank, and clawed desperately at the newcomers, seeking to overrun them.

They may have succeeded in this goal, but the re-directed Sotmraven gunship shot out of the clouds above, and tore into the advancing creatures with its assault cannon and bolter armament. Worse, for the foes of the Imperium, the flyer landed and from its hold jumped ten Death Company marines. Bellowing incoherently, the crazed warriors leapt into the heart of the Tyranid swarm. Soon, they became a tiny spec in a sea of claws and carapace armor. With every swing of their chainswords, the death company and assault marines claimed lives. Yet even their impressive might could not weather the storm for long. One by one, death company marines were dragged down by the press of Tyranid bodies. The Blood Angels assault marines fared better, but even they would not last forever.

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Cadre Fireblade O’shui was greatly troubled by the arrival of the Blood Angels. The promising flanking maneuver had been halted entirely. Even though the reinforcements were thinning out, the slowed momentum meant that the Tyranid swarm suffered terrible losses from the Ultramarine firepower. Events could not be allowed to progress in this manner, or the battle would be lost. The Fireblade ordered his fire warrior squad and the Riptide Battlesuit to bring their armament to bear against the Blood Angels. This seemed to prove effective, as a number of marines were slain by the Tau’s weapons. Meanwhile, a second fire warrior squad unleashed their pulse rifles on the Ultramarine positions, but inflicted minimal losses.

In response, the Ultramarines launched a hail of frag missiles at their assailants. Against all odds, the fire warrior squad survived this onslaught, but O’shui was forced to order them to retreat from the field, lest they be destroyed utterly. The Fireblade accessed the psi-emitter’s controls once more, to begin the encryption process. Under his mission parameters, it was imperative that the experiment’s data be safeguarded and transmitted to his superiors. When encryption was at 50%, yet another enemy drop-pod fell on the field. Unlike those that had arrived earlier, it boldly landed between the Tau lines and what remained of the Tyranid experiment. Out came the most impressive Space Marines that the Cadre Fireblade had ever seen. Their ornate armor was inlaid with gold sigils and their weapons glowed with crackling blue fire.

These warriors marched purposefully towards the Tau lines. One amongst them stood out above all the others. His livery was even more extravagant, and the great deference given to him by his companions left no doubt in The O’shui’s mind, that this was the commander of the Ultramarine forces. Acting on instinct, the remaining Tyranids converged on this new threat. A small pack of hormagaunts was nearest and pounced on the newcomers. The Cadre Fireblade was not surprised to see how easily these creatures were dispatched. The Ultramrine leader fixed his gaze upon O’shui, and began to march in his direction. Encryption had reached 75%.

When the Ultramrine command squad was only paces away from the Cadre Fireblade’s position, every remaining Tyranid rushed to intercept him. So many were the creatures, that O’shui could no longer see the Marines. Hopefully, the experiment would survive long enough for the psi-emitter’s encryption process to be completed, so that the Tau forces could withdraw. But it would not come to pass. Even the impressive numbers of hormagaunts proved meaningless to the Space Marine power blades. By the time encryption reached 90%, Cadre Fireblade O’shui knew there could be no retreat.
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Captain Titus parried claw thrusts and dodged countless snapping maws with expert precision. His weapons brought death to every hated Tyranid they touched. Titus had fought in the great Tyranic war, and his muscles remembered well how to best this foe. “For Ultramar!” he bellowed, as the last wave of hormagaunts crashed onto his honour guard. The ground was awash with the vile ichor of dismembered Tyranids, their lifeless shells piled high. Atop this grisly mound, the Ultramarines formed an impenetrable ring of power-enhanced steel. Despite being vastly outnumbered, only two honour guard had fallen by the time every last Tyranid lay dead.

This enemy defeated, the Ultramarine Captain turned his attention to the Tau leader. He could not fathom what madness possessed these two Xenos forces to fight together, and it mattered not. “To me my brothers” he called. “Let us slay this xenos filth!” Together, Captain Titus and his honour guard charged into the Tau warriors. Titus felt only contempt as they lifted their puny weapons to overwatch against his righteous advance. Unsurprisingly, their weak energy blasts had no power to damage Astartes artificer armor.

Out of habit as well as form, Titus called forth a challenge to the enemy leader, to single combat. But the fight was so swift, that the Ultramarine Captain may as well have been fighting the lowliest Tau foot soldier. In mere seconds was the Tau leader lifeless at Titus’ feet. Meanwhile, his honour guard made short work of the remaining Tau warriors. Only the enormous Tau battlesuit that had attacked the Astrates from afar remained. Clearly dismayed by the Ultramrines’ prowess, the suit’s cowardly pilot engaged his thrusters, and feld the field. The day was won.

“My thanks brother!” Declared Titus, when he saw that Blood Angel Librarian Alfonso was approaching. “It was a honour to do battle by your side, brother” replied the Librarian. In this moment of respite, Alfonso told Titus of his mission to slay the ork warlord “Kap’n Klaw.” He spoke also of how he had dispatched half of his strike force to his believed location. However, the Librarian had heard no news since he parted ways with them, and could not fathom why.

Planetfall: Introduction

Cap’n Klaw stomped back and forth across the armored plates on top of his landed space craft, Da Jolly Roja. The ship was surrounded by a sea of orks. Excited, feral orks, anxiously waiting to fight in Da grand space waaagh!! The ork pirate Captain had been very successful in convincing the native ork populations of Tarandros to join him. With brute force and promises of gud fights, feral orks had flocked to him and virtually the entire planet was now under his “control.”

But Cap’n Klaw had one problem. The giant Roks that he needed to carry his new horde of Boyz off planet were still under construction and far from completed. Meanwhile, his boyz were getting restless and would soon turn on each-other if Klaw did not find anyone else for them to fight. At a loss, Cap’n Klaw shrugged and decided to tell his expectant masses more stories of the great fights that they would be having.

“Listen up boyz” the ork boss roared from his vantage point. “Now I iz gonna tell yas bout da best enemy ta fight!” A lone ork shouted up “Iz it da bug things ya told us of boss?” “No!” Klaw shouted back. “What bout dem fish people?” At this Kap’n claw roared with laughter. “Na boyz, da best fights are wif da umies!” Thousands of orks gasped in amazed unison. “Umies…what’s a Umie boss?!” many of them asked. Pleased that he had gotten their attention, Klaw smiled evilly and shouted: “Umies are just like orks, but smaller and weaker, coz dey got pink skin and everyone knows green skin is da best!” At this the crowd roared and cheered. Cap’n claw silenced them with a barked order for quiet and continued. “But da umies, dey smart and come at ya wit many, many of dem weak boyz and dey try very hard to fight as gud as orks! Dey got many wagons an—”

“Boss?” someone interrupted. “is dat a umie?” Anoyed, Kap’n Klaw reached for his dakka pistol and fired at the speaker. He missed the intended target, but hit another ork right between the eyes. This was good enough as far as Klaw was concerned. He was about to continue his story, when he heard a very familiar sound. He turned around and saw the unmistakeable trail of space marine drop-pods falling from the sky. “Oh…dat! Na boyz, dem be space Mahreens! Dey be like umie Nobz, but angrier. Dis gonna be a real gud fight boyz…GO GET EM!!!”

With frenzied abandon, the entire feral ork mass hurled itself in the direction of the falling drop pods. Their excitement was so great, that Da Jolly Roja, rocked back and forth as the tide pushed onwards, almost tipping their captain off of it. But the salty space ork used his mighty claw to grab hold of his ship and weathered the storm. Once the feral orks had passed, he laughed and went below decks to prepare for the beginning of his grand Space Waaagh!

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The steel rain of Ultramarine drop pods burst through atmosphere. Squadrons of Stormtalon gunships patrolled the skies below, ensuring no harm would come to their brothers. The cacophony of screeching metal would have been deafening to anyone within these ceramite meteors. But within his drop pod, Brother Captain Titus could hear only the rhythmic chanting of space marines preparing for war.

As the last ritual word was spoken, the drop-pod struck home. The Ultramarines barely noticed the thunderous impact and waited patiently for their transport to open completely. In the instant that the landing leafs hit the ground, Captain Titus strode forth and breathed in the arid air of Tarandros. With the studied precision of centuries, his honour guard formed a protective ring around his majestic countenance. The sons of Guilliman had arrived.

Captain Titus Arrives