“Captain. The Mechanicus have got to him first.” The sergeant was standing in the transport’s hold, crested helm tucked under one arm, his face thunderous. The captain stared out of the open dorsal hatch as the old Razorback rattled down the sides of the depression. Vandar’s eyes were fixed on the thin line of smoke arising from the settlement ahead. There was trail of disturbance amongst its low, uniform buildings, like a finger track through swirled sand. His helm’s systems had imposed several multihued grains of colour around the smoke, the thermal signatures of vehicles, while a rune blinked insistently against his eyes. “They seek an audience with you.”
“Speak. I would ask for justification of your actions.” Vandar’s tone was curt but patient as he regarded the copper death-mask of the Dominus.
“Regretfully we have a stalemate; I require justifications also, as to why an Astartes chapter is operating an unsanctioned, undocumented and frankly deviant machine-construct.”
Vandar could not keep the irritation out of his voice. “Would you like me to provide you a treatise on the Pessulax-Class Interceptor? I assure you, it is an exceptionally well-composed volume, and the chapters detailing the origin and design process make for good reading.”
“The Cult Metalica does not require your treatises, only that you answer for the charges laid against you. The wreckage my servitors are currently salvaging are evidence of both unsanctioned modification and innovation, and more than sufficient grounds for Tech-Heresy.”
“Shall I provide you with a treatise on our gene-fathers, Magos?” Vandar’s voice was cold-edged now. “You should know the Sons of Ferrus do not take kindly to betrayal.”
“This is not betrayal, captain. This is justice. This is the upholdment of the Omnissiah’s will.” The view of the Tech-priest expanded, revealing his full figure, the knots of mechadendrites, the cog-bladed poleaxe hefted in robotic limbs. Slumped kneeling by his feet was the battered form of an Astartes pilot. “Submit to my authority and repent for your crimes, or I will not hesitate to ensure your chapter’s line is ended.”
“Many stronger than you have tried. We have laid them all low before us.”
“So be it.” The feed wavered, sheets of static hashing through the picture for just a moment. When it had cleared, the poleaxe was embedded in the ground, and the techpriest was leaning to pick something up. “Look upon your fate, Captain.” The voice was dripping with malice, moreso than Vandar would have believed possible from such a heavily modulated voxsimulacra, as he stared into the eyeslits of the pilot’s severed head.
Vandar slowly unclasped his helm, setting it on the Razorback’s vibrating hull. His face was betrayingly calm; he had long since learned how to hide fury and rage.
“Driver, increase speed. There are brothers to be avenged…”
Third Captain Vandar: Captain, Bolter (Relic: The Primarch’s Wrath), Power Fist – 89pts (5PL)
Squad Volta : 5 Tactical Marines; Sergeant with Thunder Hammer & Combi-melta – 109pts (5PL)
Squad Morlock: 3 Tartaros Terminators, Paired Lightning Claws – 129pts (13PL)
Squad Aponak: 5 Sternguard Veterans, Flamer – 92pts (7PL)
Irontide: Razorback, Twin Heavy Bolters 82pts (5PL)
IF Chapter Tactics: Iron Hands
IF Warlord Trait: Storm of Fire
Adept Barr-Aian: Techpriest Dominus, Autocaduceus of Arkhan Land, Eradication Ray, Macrostubber, Omnissian Axe – 127pts (7PL)
Section Sigma : 10 Skitarii Vanguard, Enhanced Data Tether, Plasma Caliver, Alpha:Radium Carbine– 99pts (7PL)
Section Epsilon : 10 Skitarii Vanguard, Enhanced Data Tether, 2x Plasma Caliver, Alpha:Taser Goad, Phosphor Blast Pistol.– 120pts (7PL)
Tyric-045 Carbonax: Onager Dunecrawler, Neutron Laser, 2x Cognis Heavy Stubber, Broad-Spectrum Data Tether – 145pts (7PL)
MS Chapter Tactics: Metalica
MS Warlord Trait: Ordered Efficiency
Battle Round 1:
The Iron Fists take the first turn, with Captain Vandar and Squad Volta embarked in the Razorback as it moves up, hiding on the other side of the ruin, while Squad Aponak advance and follow suit.
The Metalica Skitarii sections advance as one, the objective in sight, while Adept Barr-Aian stays close to the Dunecrawler, waiting for when the space marines emerge into the open.
The warriors of Metalica advance
IF – MS : 0 – 0.
Battle Round 2:
Vandar and his tactical marines disembark and emerge on top of the ruin, within scoring range of the objective. Squad Morlock teleports in behind cover on the left flank, not risking a turn 2 charge. The Razorback and Squad Aponak emerge into the open as all squads open fire into the vanguard sections with little result. Only two skitarii are slain from Section Sigma.
Squad Aponak take up positions
Both skitarii sections open fire on Squad Volta, who lose four to plasma and rad-fire, the sergeant failing his morale check and withdrawing, while the Dunecrawler knocks seven wounds off the razorback by blasting through its frontal armour.
IF – MS : 2 – 1.
Captain Vandar holds the central objective (+2), Skitarii Section Epsilon has destroyed an enemy unit. (+1)
Battle Round 3
Squad Aponak moves to secure the objective and link up with Captain Vandar, while the Razorback moves to physically block the Skitarii, as Squad Morlock moves up on the right flank towards Section Epsilon. Once again bolters discharge, and four skitarii are rendered into mincemeat. The Razorback charges Section Epsilon from the front and Squad Morlock hits them from behind in a melee that reduces the section down to two skitarii.
Irontide clashes with section Epsilon
Squad Morlock performs a flanking manoeuvre
The remnants of Section Epsilon fall back from the razorback, clearing the way for the dunecrawler to burn a foot-wide hole into its armour. The neutron laser blast guts the leftside power units and the heavy bolter ammunition cooks off, a gout of flame bursting out of its top hatch. Meanwhile Adept Barr-Aian’s eradication beamer sears one of the advancing terminators of Squad Morlock into ash, detonating another’s power-core with a second blast searing through the warrior’s faceplate. Section Sigma scrambles over the wrecked razorback, surrounding Squad Aponak and throwing themselves at the veterans, but their armour holds.
IF – MS : 5 – 5.
The razorback has been destroyed (+1), Squad Aponak holds the objective at the end of their turn (+3) but Section Sigma’s Objective secured status allows them to snatch it off them (+3).
Battle Round 4:
The last terminator charges towards Adept Barr-Aian, chanting litanies of vengeance. His claws strike two wounds off the techpriest but the cog-bladed axe wounds him heavily. Squad Aponak, having whittled Section Sigma down to three skitarii last turn, disengage and move to nearby cover as Captain Vandar comes barrelling in. His antique bolter shreds two, and another dies to a crushing blow from his power fist, but the last remains firm.
Squad Aponak takes cover
The last of Section Sigma falls back from combat as the Dunecrawler unleashes all its firepower onto Vandar. The captain struggles to one knee, Iron Halo straining under the barrage from the Neutron laser. Seizing the opportunity, the lone prime of Section Epsilon darts past the captain to secure the objective, as his Dominus master takes the last terminator’s legs out from under him.
Epsilon Prime confronts Captain Vandar
IF – MS : 9 – 11.
Captain Vandar holds the objective at the end of his turn (+4) but once again it is snatched up by the skitarii on their turn (+4). The Terminators have been destroyed, and with a power greater than 8, they score (+2) VP.
Battle Round 5:
Squad Aponak’s bolters eradicate the last of Section Sigma as they advance on the objective, drawing blades and mercilessly dispatching the Epsilon Prime.
The last skitarii is overrun.
Captain Vandar rises, armour smouldering, and charges towards the Techpriest, bolter fire dealing another wound as he covers the ground between them. Adept Barr-Aian is hefted bodily off his feet by the powerfist and slammed into the ground, as Vandar’s avenging boot comes down on his face, before moving onto the dunecrawler.
Captain Vandar enacts vengeance
IF – MS : 18 – 11.
Squad Aponak have secured the objective (+5), the last of Sections Sigma and Epsilon are dead (+1), (+1), as is the enemy warlord. (+2)
The game was conceded after the Iron Fists’ 5th turn, as the pair of us agreed that the Dunecrawler would likely not survive, and there was no conceivable way to balance the scoreboard in the favour of the Mechanicus. This was a very well-fought game, Ben was getting a lot of mileage out of his skitarii and the loss of my only troop choice so early on meant he had a distinct advantage as the tussle in the centre played out. The threat of the Dunecrawler’s neutron laser was fairly profound and defined my first two turns, and it was only through luck that Vandar didn’t end up a flickering pile of slag. Vandar himself felt like the star of the show for me, as the firepower provided by the Primarch’s Wrath relic was a great help throughout the game.
The machine died at last, as Brother Hernok clambered down from the Dunecrawler’s roof, blade glistening with amniotic fluid. Vandar was gazing down at the Tech-priest’s broken form. He had felt no joy crushing the life out of it. Joy was not a permitted emotion. There had been a spark of something earlier though, a kind of fierce satisfaction. It had come as the Adept had whirled round, the last of the terminators bleeding out before him. Vandar had seen something in those glass eyes as bolt shells burst on and through his metal carapace, as he had realised what was coming for him. Vandar had saw fear. Fear and regret in those reflective red pools, as he had thundered towards them. To see that in the eyes of a self-proclaimed cold machine was rather ironic.
“Those who are machine still die as men. We all die as such…”
“Captain?” Brother Hernok was beside him. Hernok was a veteran from the first company, once one of Luos’ charges. Methodical to a fault, all the precision of a fine drill-bit, and just as averse to introspection as one. Vandar waved a hand dismissively.
“It’s nothing. Volta, where are you hiding?” He called over the vox.
“Attending to the injured, Captain. These upjumped servitors cost my brothers good blood and steel.” The sergeant responded over the Vox, as Vandar set off. The two met at the edge of the ruins, almost bumping into eachother as Vandar rounded the corner. The Sergeant’s armour was a mess of oil and blood, limping, his previously good leg a bloody mess above the knee, face just as furrowed and indignant as he had been in the transport. Ilfrin Volta seemed to exist solely in a strange limbo of joshing peevishness and towering ire. Long locked out of command, Volta had slotted perfectly into sergeancy. There was a reason why his squad was one of the best and most battle-harened outside the First.
“I’ve had word from the Savant; his transport is en-route, and he promises repair and replenishment within the hour.”
“Captain!” One of the veterans was behind him, he turned. “Augur readings are picking up more contacts on the horizon; Astartes landing craft by their signatures.”
“Traitors?” Vandar asked.
Volta barked at that, half dour, half mirth. “Ever onward eh, Baloq?”
“Have your brothers scout for defensible positions we can fall back to once support arrives, keep watching the skies.” He ordered, and the veteran disappeared with a nod. Vandar turned to sergeant Volta and shot him a weary glance. “Ever onward.”