Drax Curzon, Archmagos of Soulforge Epsilon, borne aloft on his gravitic dais and flanked by two huge gun savants, that were little more than Lascannons on legs, surveyed the allocated combat zone.
Moritat Phorgal, Archmagos of Soulforge Alpha, approached him on six spider-like legs accompanied by two tech-guards, one a tracked motive unit, the other walked upright on two brass equine hoofed limbs.
“What have you to show me Curzon?” asked Moritat in a standard binary chant.
Several other heads of the houses were ensconced in separate alcoves within the command octon and all buzzed a response in a similar biometric binary clicking. Ignoring the impatient protestations, Drax welcomed his contemporaries into the viewing hall and gave the escort protocol to his tech-guards. He hovered around the room acknowledging each in turn, the dim glow from the biolume globes, inconsequential as all the Adepts had infrared or lowlight optics, served to highlight his magnificence.
Accompanied by the clacking of cogitators and whirring of data stacks, a scrivener, rattled out a ream of datafax containing positional information on the disposition of servo-skulls in the war zone. Speaking with a monotone, grating vox sound, punctuated by the clacking of its augmetic jaws, it spoke in high gothic, much to the amusement of all attending.
“Welcome to the main event…for your delight and delectation…see how Soulforge Epsilon’s Daemonic Engines of war dominate the puny Astartes in these hostilities!”
With the tension eased, each Adept retired to their allocated alcove and jacked in to the console to download the data-stream through their mechandrites.
Before the attending Mechanicum cadre could orientate themselves with the battle coverage, several of the screens covering the interior and exterior of the Bastions in the Death Guards position went blank as both fortifications were pummelled by an orbital bombardment.
“It seems Nestor is eager to get to grips with Festus, we should see much carnage today my compatriots…… Enjoy!”
Battle 5 – The Cauldron of War
The Death Guard are cornered, their backs to the wall. It falls now to their forces to mount one last stalwart defence. The Commanders of both armies take to the field, leading from the front, one way or another, the war will be won or lost this day.
The final battle takes place in the heart of the Death Guards territory, the Castigators having broken through every defence put in place. Both sides are fielding their finest warriors, throwing every last resource into the final conflict in a bid to win the Dark Mechanicum’s favour.
The final battle is fought as Purge the Alien standard mission. The winner of battle 4 may choose deployment type, he may also decide whether or not the night fighting rule is in play throughout the entire game, representing him dictating the timing of the battle. The Defender sets up terrain in battle 5. He may set up any number of Bastions or Aegis Defence Lines as he wishes, but for every Bastion or Aegis Defence Line placed, the Attacker gains +1 to his ‘Firestorm’ attacks.
The Attacker’s final offensive is preceded by a thunderous artillery barrage, designed to soften up enemy forces before the assault. After both sides have deployed and before attempting to steal the initiative, the attacker may make a number of Firestorm attacks anywhere upon the table. This number is determined by rolling a D6 and adding +1 for every Bastion or Aegis Defence Line being used. Each Firestorm attack has the following profile:
Str10. AP-. Ordnance, Barrage. Small blast.
The Final Twist
Even as the two armies close for the final confrontation, a ragged patrol, long assumed lost, staggers into the headquarters. It is the warriors sent to retrieve the supplies in the wastes at the beginning of the conflict. Within the canisters was intelligence vital to defeating the enemy.
The player that won battle 1 may nominate a number of units equal to the number of games he has won so far. These units gain Preferred Enemy and Tank Hunter universal special rules. Additionally for every objective they controlled they receive a Skyfire Nexus that can be placed anywhere in their deployment zone.
The Castigators 1500pts
Nestor Lustheart – Chaos Lord, Mark of Slaanesh, Steed & Lightning Claw, Burning Brand of Skalathrax.
Squad Sublime – 10 Noise Marines, 2 Blastmasters, 7 Sonic Blasters, led by Nephran Lustviper with Bolt Pistol & CCW.
Squad Divine – 10 Chaos Space Marines, MOS, 2 Melta Guns led by Darius Lewdgrip with Blot Pistol & Powerfist.
Squad Rapture – 5 Chaos Bikers, MoS, 2 Melta Guns led by Korath Vilehorn with Power Weapon.
Corruptus – Chaos Vindicator
Tantalus – Predator with Autocannon Turret & Lascannon Sponsons.
N’Kari – Keeper of Secrets.
The Soul Reavers – 13 Daemonettes
Festus Blightmaster – Lord, MoN, Bike, Burning Brand of Skalathrax, Sigil of Corruption.
Foulspawn – Daemon Prince of Nurgle, Wings, Armour & Black Mace.
Squad Contagion – 5 Plague Marines, 2 Plasma Guns, Tosis Mire Aspiring Champion with power weapon.
Squad Pestilence – 5 Plague Marines, 2 Melta Guns, Aspiring champion with power weapon.
3 Nurgle Obliterators.
I chose to use Hammer and Anvil deployment and Rob placed the terrain like so.
I deployed My Noise Marines and Skyfire Nexus in the central ruins with the Predator along side. The Daemonettes deployed on the Soul-Shrine with the Vindicator along side and the Bikers behind. Nestor and his Chaos Space Marines chose to outflank and N’kari, my Keeper of Secrets chose to deepstrike.
Rob deployed a Plague Marine unit in each Bastion with the Obliterators on top of the left Bastion. Behind it huddled Foulspawn, Rob’s Daemon Prince, whille his Maulerfiend hid behind the other. Lord Festus and his Spawn deployed behind the Aegis Line.
As the armies deployed the Castigator’s Flagship entered low orbit and let loose with a devastating barrage. Bunker buster warheads rained down on the Death Guard’s positions, destroying the left Bastion, killing 4 Plague Marines and two Obliterators. The right hand Bastion suffered a catastrophic breach, reducing its armour to 11 and the Aegis Defence Line was blown clean apart.
Rob tried to steal the initiative and failed. The Vindicator moved forward to bring the Bastion into range as the Daemonettes danced down the steps of the Soul-Shrine. Korath and his Slaaneshi Bikers moved towards the Skyfire Nexus ready to shore up any weaknesses in the Castigators’ defence.
The Vindicator opened fire on the Bastion, its shell smashing through the walls and causing a total collapse. The Plague Marines bailed out, their armour and FNP protecting them from any damage. The Noise Marines spotted them through the haze and killed three with their Blastmasters along with a Spawn. The Predator targeted the Spawn and put a couple of wounds on them.
Festus gazed at the devastation all around him and muttered a silent prayer to Papa Nurgle. The Lord of Decay answered his favoured son, and picking up the Noise Marines, transported them across the battlefield! Rob rolled Warp Shift (pick a unit, friend or foe, and remove it from the table. It must immediately enter play as though deepstriking) on the Daemonic Hazard table.
The Noise Marines reappeared just in front of the Death Guard’s lines. Festus wasted no time and urging his Spawn of Nurgle on charged towards them. The Daemon Prince jumped over to support the inevitable combat and the Maulerfiend moved toward the Vindicator. The Plague Marines huddled behind the burnt out Bastions and the remaining Obliterator sidled around to line up a shot on the Predator.
The Obliterator morphed his body into a twisted Lascannon and ignoring the bikers shielding it, annihilated the Predator.
Pausing only to incinerate four Noise Marines with his Burning Brand of Skalathrax, Festus charged the beleaguered warriors with his Spawn. Such was the Nurgle Lord’s eagerness that he barged the Daemon Prince aside, stopping the prince from reaching them.
The Noise Marines struck first putting a wound on the Spawn which did nothing but whip them into a frenzy and they tore apart three of the decadent warriors. Issuing a challenge, Festus laughed as the Noise Marine champion failed to wound him. Bellowing his devotion to Nurgle he hacked apart the champion with ease. As the Champion fell to the floor, Festus released a noisome stench. Sulphurous gases erupted from cracked armour as Festus’ putrid flesh forced its way out, his helmet split apart from the inside as a slime covered horn extended from his forehead. Screaming his praise to the Lord of Decay, Festus was reborn….the Blightmaster ascended.
Turn 2 (yes, all that in one turn!)
I rolled Trickery of Tzeentch on the Daemonic Hazard table and chose Rob’s Daemon Prince. Rob kindly failed his leadership test and his Prince would dance to my tune this turn!
The Keeper of Secrets and the Heldrake turned up. The Keeper came on behind the Bastions.
The Heldrake moved up the right flank to target the Plague Marines hiding behind the Bastion. Korath and his Bikers moved forward to help out the Noise Marines as did the Daemonettes. The Vindicator tried to move through the ruins to target the Maulerfiend but immobilised itself despite having a dozerblade.
The Heldrake engulfed the Plague Marines in Balefire killing one. The Vindicator targeted the Maulerfiend and a tortured scream rang out as its shell smashed it apart. The Bikers and Daemonettes charged into the combat with the Spawn. The laughter of Tzeentch rang out across the battlefield as the Nurgle Daemon Prince challenged Festus.
Tzeentch fuelled its unwitting pawn with as much power as the Daemon Prince could withstand but Foulspawn resisted as best he could. Twelve attacks were granted to him but still Festus survived with one wound. In return Festus inflicted a wound. The bikes and Daemonettes killed a spawn and reduced the rest to minimum wounds for the loss of 4 Daemonettes.
Rob’s Heldrake arrived and Vector Striked the Keeper of Secrets causing a wound. Tosis Mire, aspiring champion of Nurgle, all that remained of Squad Contagion, threw caution to the wind and moved towards the Keeper, determined to show the perverted daemon his true worth.
The Plague Marine from squad Pestilent moved towards the Keeper of Secrets as well and the Obliterator turned to face the Daemonic entity. A rapid firing Plasma Gun from the lone Plague Marine and the Obliterator sent the Keeper back from whence he came. Foulspawn regained his senses and charged into the Bikers roaring a challenge to Korath and cutting him down. Festus hacked at the remaining Bikers killing one. The Bikers and Daemonettes hit back, dropping Festus and reducing the Spawn to one wound.
Nestor and his Chaos Marines arrived on the wrong side (so much for acute senses) and deployed on the left to get a shot at the Obliterator.
The Slaaneshi Heldrake flew over the lone Plague Marine Vector Striking him but failed to wound him.
The Heldrake turned it’s head and incinerated the last Plague Marine from squad Contagion. Nestor’s Chaos Marines levelled their Meltas at the Obliterator and eradicated the abomination. Foulspawn’s daemon weapon rebelled against its master and although he took a wound he still smashed a biker into the ground. The Daemonettes killed the last spawn and reduced Foulspawn to one wound.
Rob’s Heldrake moved over towards Nestor and his entourage.
The Plague Champion moved towards the combat to help Foulspawn in the combat with the daemonettes and the Slaaneshi Bikers. The Nurgle Heldrake bathed Nestor and his consort with Balefire killing 8!
Combat saw Foulspawn despatch 2 Daemonettes for no loss, this displeased Slaanesh greatly and she dragged five of them back into the warp, leaving one daemonette.
Nestor moved towards the Nurgle Heldrake.
The Slaaneshi Heldrake flew from the battlefield Vector Striking its counterpart as it went but it failed to inflict any damage. once again the black Mace rebelled against its master Foulspawn, and he failed to cause any wounds on the slaaneshi Bikers. As the Bikers distracted him the lone Daemonette moved in behind and with her daemonic claws and sent the mighty Prince back into the warp.
The Nurgle Heldrake went into hover mode and flew over Nestor and his Marines putting two wounds on Nestor.
Tosis Mire moved towards the Bikers, bloodlust making him oblivious to all danger.
Tosis charged, bolter shells pattered harmlessly off of his armour on the way in as did the Slaaneshi Bikers combat weapons, with a skill that can only be acquired from 10,00 years of warfare he hacked apart both Bikers with his man-reaper!
The Slaaneshi Heldrake re-entered the battlefield with Tosis Mire firmly in its sights. The Daemonette moved up should the flying daemon fail.
Nestor and his Marines moved through the ruins towards the Nurgle Heldrake. The Slaaneshi Helldrake bathed Tosis Mire in Balefire but once again Tosis Mire’s Feel No Pain came to the rescue. The lone Daemonette charged in determined to see the end of the Nurgle champion but Tosis swatted her like a fly. Nestor Charged the Heldrake and the Nurgle Daemon Engine roasted them as they charged in, dropping Nestor and pinning him under his dead mount. Darius, the Slaaneshi champion put a glancing hit on the Nurgle Heldrake.
The Nurgle Heldrake hovered again relying on its Baleflamer to finish the Chaos Marines off, but failed to wound either of them.
We rolled to see if the game continued and it came up with a two. The battle was over, all that remained was a Nurgle Heldrake, Plague Champion Tosis Mire and a Slaanesh Heldrake, Slaanesh Champion Darius Lewdgrip with another Slaanesh Marine.
It was two days later that we realised that the game had ended in a draw, we both had 6 kill points, Rob had first blood and I had linebreaker….a fitting end to one of the most enjoyable games we’ve had the pleasure to play!
As darkness fell, Tosis’ harsh bark cut through the vox static.
“It appears that the Castigators have taken to their heels master. Permission to retake the abandoned ground.”
“Negative my impetuous one!” chimed Festus.
“Acknowledged” Tosis stood aghast, the unspoken question plain in his tone even though Festus could not see the dumbfounded expression on his skeletal features.
“Nestor does not run Tosis, prepare the heavy landers for extraction, I want our forces off world and back on board the Corpus Mundi by sunrise.
On board The Castigators’ strike cruiser, ‘Shaft of Dominance,’ Nestor sat in his obsidian throne stroking the head of the exquisite cherubim carved on the arm rest.
“The Corpus Mundi is preparing its landing decks to receive their final bulk landers, my Lord.”
“Are all our forces and the Daemon Engines on board?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Then power the forward lances and bring us within range of the Corpus Mundi.”
As the Castigators’ flag ship approached, Festus’ battle barge skewed sideways and brought its formidable batteries of torpedoes to bear on the Castigators’ ship.
Far below on Black Reach, Drax Curzon watched eagerly on the two ships posturing.
“The Shaft of Dominance is hailing the Corpus Mundi.”
“Ah yes, such games they play! They intend to destroy each other. Monitor their communications and link with their sensors. We shall have the perfect view.”
“There is too much encryption for the security buffers to handle, it will take several minutes to expand the security buffer and remove the scrap code, Archmagos.”
“Would you have our guests miss the finale of our entertainment? Use the mainframe buffers to filter out the scrap code, we can purge them later.” ordered Drax.
“They are both coming about Archmagos…And fixing new coordinates…Our co-ordinates!”
Drax Curzon’s insectile clockwork face twitched feverishly as he attempted to purge the scrap code that flooded the mainframe. Two words flashed upon the mainframe console….Curzon purged them only for the two words to reappear…again he purged them and again they reappeared…again and again…just a few more seconds and he would…
“Fire on the Mechanicum’s position Helmsman, bunker buster warheads, high yield, full spread.” commanded Festus.
A hundred warheads pierced the atmosphere and seconds later split into thousands of cluster bombs before impacting against the void shields of the Soulforge. The shields flickered for a brief moment and with perfect timing the Castigators’ lance battery pounded through the facility and deep into the bedrock annihilating the fusion core. The void shields snapped shut behind the lance blast and held for a moment, containing the explosion until the backup generators burnt out and released a wall of fire riding on the back of an immense shockwave…
…again the words flashed across the console, again Curzon purged them, just a few more sec…
A flash of light like a second sun rising just before dawn tore through Soulforge Epsilon. The last thing Drax Curzon ever saw flashed up on the console… “Treacherous Bastards!”