Apocalypse Battle Report: The Ninth Crown

c. Games Workshop

“The False Emperor spread his corruption one hundred hundred years ago, tearing down the true idols amongst the stars. We are here to undo that wrong, make right the galaxy again. We shall sanctify the soil of Vigilus with the blood of the those who champion falsehood. We shall purify it’s cities of the Corpse-God’s lies, fill the hearts of the worthy with the Primordial Truth. We shall Crown this continent with the black of the void and in doing so consecrate this world in the name of my lord, Warmaster Ezekyle Abaddon, the Great Visionary. Fear not my friends, for you too may be in black and gold reborn.” – Dark Apostle Khaunt, First Confessor of the Masked Lord, shortly before the mass sacrifice at the base of a Noctilith Crown

During the War of Nightmares, the forces of Chaos raised at least eight Noctolith Crowns, fell structures designed to summon the raw power of the Warp. These were constructed along geomantic psy-lines across Vigilus, their zenith centred upon the Storvhal hivesprawl. A coven of Inquisitors realized the importance of Storvhal before it was assailed by the forces of the Warmaster, and they managed to marshal the Imperial forces to hold the city even as traitor marines were storming the gates. The Ordo Malleus feared that if the ninth Crown was raised at the zenith, the whole planet may be lost to the denizens of the warp…

(fluff written by game organizer)

So a while back, I attended an Apocalypse battle being held at my local GW (Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto), that was being held as a grand finale to a weeks-long escalation league themed around the events of Vigilus Ablaze. While I had not participated in the league itself, I am always a sucker for a large-scale game, and as I hadn’t used them in a while, I brought my Sisters of Battle and Imperial Knight out to play.

The battle itself was organized by Ian C. of the Wrong Side of the Maelstrom podcast, and he was participating as well with his Black Legion. As this battle was fought well before the release of the newer Apocalypse rules, we were playing the battle with standard 8th edition 40k, with some special rules that Ian had added in.

SCENARIO AND RULES: (copy and pasted from the event Facebook page)

Forces
======
There are two teams: the forces of the Imperium and the Forces of Chaos. If your army does not neatly fit into one of these groups, you will be placed to balance teams or where it makes narrative sense (the enemy of my enemy, etc.).

If your army does not appear in the Vigilus narrative, that’s fine: they will represent a particularly esoteric division of a force (i.e. Necrons might represent a Warpsmiths damned robotic army, Tau might represent Skitarii equiped with prototype wargear, and so on). However, the army will still use the regular rules and datasheets.

Each side will select a player to be the Warmaster: Warmasters will be responsible for any team rolls offs and for ensuring their side proceeds with play (they do not have control over other players’ armies, but may provide suitable motivation!).

Deployment
==========
Each team secretly bids (in whole minutes) how much time they will take to deploy, between 1 and 20 minutes. They reveal their bids at the same time. The side that bids lowest deploys first. If there’s a tie, each side rolls off.

The first team will deploy their entire force. Units must be completely deployed (i.e. all models in the unit must be standing upright in coherency following deployment rules: they may not be dumped in a pile on the table). Units that are not deployed may be held in reserve.

First Turn
========
The team that deployed first has the first turn. There is no seizing the initiative.

Battle Length
===========
The game lasts 5 battle rounds with two breaks. The lunch break is after the first battle round, the second break after the third battle round.

Models
=======
All models must have ALL upgrades and weapons modelled appropriately. A player must be able to tell what a unit is and what it is equipped with easily: there’s no time for an army breakdown and explanation during the apocalypse! Proxies are not allowed. If you have a cool conversion or counts-as and aren’t sure if it’s allowed, contact an organizer, but generally the rule of cool prevails.

Objectives & Victory Conditions
=========================
The team with the most Victory Points wins. Certain terrain pieces will be marked as objectives, control of which will award VP.

Objectives are worth 1 VP at the first break, 2 VP at the second break, and 3 VP at the end of the game.

Each Warlord slain is worth 1 VP.

Each TITANIC unit destroyed is worth 1 VP.

Special Rules
============
Reserves: Units held in reserve may be deployed at the end of the player’s first movement phase after a break. Unless deploying by special rules on their datasheet (i.e. teleporting), they must be set up within 12” of the player’s table edge, at least 3” from an enemy unit. Units arriving via rules on their datasheet follow those standard rules instead.

Army Composition and Command Points
================================
Armies will be no more than 150 Power Level and need not be battle-forged. Each player will begin the game with a set number of command points. When they spend a command point on a stratagem, their opponent will receive one command point and vice versa. Abilities, relics, warlord traits, etc. that allow players to gain extra command points (whether at the start of or during the game) are ignored.

Command points will be tracked with tokens called “crowns”. When you spend a command point, give a crown to the opponent across from you. Crowns are shared amongst a team, so feel free to pass them along to a teammate. However, if a teammate is spending the lion’s share of their team’s crowns, feel free to starve out that teammate.

Turn Sequence
============
Movement – 10 min
Psychic – 10 min
Shooting – 15 min
Assault – 10 min per side (see below)

Time limits will be strictly enforced. As the day progresses, turns will likely speed up. If you run out of time and haven’t moved/shot with/fought with a unit, it does not get to! Build and play your army list accordingly.

Custom Characters
===============
You may use any number of custom characters using the rules from Chapter Approved 2018. However, for each custom character, you must pay PL as follows:

Hero +2PL
Mighty Hero +3PL
Legendary Hero +4PL

Battle Honours
============
You may use battle honours as per the “Battle Honours in One-off Games” on p. 21 of Chapter Approved 2018. As per the rules, you must pay PL for these battle honours.

Fight Phase
===========
Starting with the team whose turn it is, each engaged unit will pile in at the same time. Then each unit will fight with all it’s models (regardless if they are within 1″ of an enemy model or a model within 1″ of an enemy model).

Then the other team will attack in the same manner, including with models killed earlier in that phase. Then both sides remove casualties.

If a unit charged (or has an ability that allows them to fight at the same time as charging models), they gain +1 A. If a unit would attack twice, roll their attacks when the team activates.

Psychic phase
=============
Each psyker may only cast or deny 1 power per psychic phase. For each power they could cast/deny after the first, they gain +2 to their cast/deny roll.

Auras
=====
Auras do not affect allied players’ units.

Vehicle/Monster Explosions
==========================
Roll once for the number of Mortal Wounds and apply this to each unit in range.

Random Damage weapons and multi wound squads
============================================
If a multi-shot weapon with a random damage characteristic (i.e. Heavy 6, Damage D3) targets a multi-wound unit (i.e. terminators), or a unit that has a second save (i.e. disgustingly resilient), roll once for damage and apply the number to every failed save.

Summoning
=========
Players must leave spare PL in their list as a summoning pool if they wish to summon units.

Note: in addition to all of the above rules, Ian had also printed out cards for a special stratagem called Last Stand:

(Note: I apologize in advance for the poor quality of some of these pictures. Note that I will try to take better-quality battle report pictures in the future).

THE ARMIES

FORCES OF THE IMPERIUM:

Ultramarines
Carcharodons (using Blood Angel rules)
Cadian Shock Troopers (complete with a Baneblade, a Shadowsword and a Stormlord)
Order of the Blessed Damsel (using Bloody Rose rules), with a Knight of House Wynngarde (using Hawkshroud rules)
Stygies VIII Mechanicus (along with a pair of Knights from House Krast)

FORCES OF CHAOS & XENOS:

Black Legion (led by Abaddon and Haarken Worldclaimer)
World Eaters (led by Kharn the Betrayer, and including a Lord of Skulls )
Night Lords
Iron Warriors (including a Renegade Knight Castellan)
Khorne Daemons
Bad Moon Orks (featuring a Kustom Stompa)
Cult of the Rusted Claw

The Sisters of the Blessed Damsel (with friend, Ser Laertes of House Wynngarde)
The Astra Militarum assembled. Vengeance for Cadia!
The Mechanicus of Stygies VIII, with attendant Knights.
Some close ups on these excellently painted Knights.
The Magos Dominus leading the Mechanicus. Thanks to the scenario, he was boosted to become particularly powerful thanks to the Legendary Hero rules.
Kastelan Battle-Robots, using 30k models. I don’t think the Ultramarines were too happy with what their “allies'” robots were doing…
The Carcharodons, fielding a mass of Primaris Marines and Dreadnoughts.
A (sadly blurry) close up of the Carcharodons. I wish this picture had turned out better, because the freehand on the Marines’ shoulder pads was really well done.
Opposing them were the favoured of the Warmaster themselves, the Black Legion.
Resplendent in his dark glory, Abaddon himself prepares to lead his legion into battle.
The Orks also came to play, fielding a mass of Grot Tanks, walkers and Stompas, all under the command of a Legendary Big Mek.
Among the Ork forces was a Squiggoth (converted from an Arachnarok Spider)

DEPLOYMENT:

The battle was fought across two boards. On one, there were four objectives– a Mechanicus generator, the unfinished Noctolith crown, the city gate and the Imperial aquila. On the other table, there were two more objectives– an assembly of large crates, and a skull-shaped hill.

A shot of the city board and the generator objective.
The unfinished Noctolith Crown, the main prize of the Chaos forces.
A shot of the city gate and aquila objectives.
Across from the unfinished Noctolith Crown, the Chaos Space Marines assemble.
The World Eaters bring a large number of war machines into the fray, including a dreaded Lord of Skulls.
More of the Chaos forces assemble, with massed tanks, Knights, and a giant Spider ready to crush Loyalist scum into the ground.
Opposite them, the Carcharodons deploy in a solid phalanx of massed infantry.
While the Carcharodons stand proudly in massed defiance, Mechanicus gun-servitors deploy in the ruins, while Cadian aircraft fly in close support.
Near the city gate, meanwhile, the Cadian super-heavies deploy, ready to obliterate anything that so much as pokes it’s head through.
Next to the Cadians, the Adepta Sororitas deploy, clustering together to make use of combined inspiration of the Living Saint and the Indomitable Belief of their Canoness.
The Knight Porphyrion deploys in a corner, using his great height to rain macro-lasers over the wall into the Chaos host.
Further on the left flank, the Magos takes position, along with the Knight Lancer and his Skitarii.
Opposite the Sororitas and Mechanicus forces, the Ork armour deploys, smoke belching into the sky.

BATTLE IS JOINED

Roaring their hatred for the False Emperor, the forces of Chaos advance towards the waiting Carcharodon lines, a thin line of grey all that stands between Abaddon and his prize.
A Maulerfiend and Helbrutes advance ahead of the Black Legion forces, flanked by a pair of ancient Land Raider Achilles.

The massed firepower of the Traitors is brutally, felling many Primaris Marines and sending a Cadian Vulture plumetting from the sky. On the left flank, meanwhile, Orkish ordnance rains down on the Imperial forces, heavily damaging Knights and felling several Skitarii. Most painfully of all, the Kustom Stompa’s guns roar to life, annihilating an entire 15-woman squad of Battle Sisters with a rain of gatling fire!

In response, the great guns of the Cadian super-heavy tanks swivel onto distant targets…
Eager to avenge their fallen Sisters, the Order of the Blessed Damsel advance, while Ser Laertes stomps towards the Stompa, eager to “teach this ugly blighter a lesson.”
Elsewhere, the Skitarii follow their Magos into battle, surging towards the oncoming wall of Grot Tanks.
Massed fire from the Shadowsword, Baneblade, and Exorcists rains down on the Kustom Stompa. Under the sheer weight of firepower, the massive behemoth is felled, toppling over in a great, flaming wreck (and leaving a Stompa-sized absence in the Ork lines)
More firepower from Ser Laertes and the Kastelans lashes out, wiping out a pair of Grot Tanks.
Meanwhile, in the centre, more Imperial fire rains down on the Chaos forces. A squad of Black Legion Havocs manning the walls of the gate are reduced to just one member…and he doesn’t have long before he is blasted apart as well.
Crucially, however, the Cerastus Lancer fails its charge against the Battlewagon…
The Chaos advance continues, with Traitor armour massing around the towers of the gateway…
Rubricae in the black and gold of the Black Legion seize the generator.
The Orks use their mobility to shift further down the left flank, bringing all of their guns to bear on the Lancer and blasting deep wounds into the noble machine. Before the Lancer can even defend itself, the Ork vehicles all then charge! Thanks to massed use of the Ramming Speed stratagem, the Lancer suffers an ungodly number of mortals wounds and is toppled over, ignominiously crushed into the dust by the spiked wheels of the Ork tanks!
The Chaos advance continues, with a Blood Slaughterer flinging itself into a squad of Carcharodon Aggressors and tearing them to ceramite shreds.
In response, reinforcements arrive as the Ultramarines take to the field. Behind the Cadian lines, Dreadnoughts, Centurions and Scouts arrive to reinforce their position…
….while on the right flank, Predator tanks, Intercessors, Hellblasters and several mighty heroes arrive to lend aid to the Carcharodons.
Emboldened by the Ultramarines’ arrival, the Mechanicus acquire new firing solutions and keep shooting.
As though in response to the Ultramarines’ arrival, however, the ground suddenly breaks open before the gate, and the Genestealer Cult of the Rusted Claw comes pouring out in a perfectly-timed subterranean ambush!
Brood Brothers set up heavy weapons on the ramparts once occupied by the Black Legion Havocs
The Rusted Claw quickly make their presence felt, blasting apart a unit of Ultramarine Scouts and inflicting heavy damage on the Cadian vehicles
Drawing on the power of the Hive Mind, the Rusted Claw’s Magus dominates the minds of the Shadosword crew and makes them fire into the nearby Stormlord, inflicting massive damage on the other super-heavy!
On the left flank, a brood of Hybrid Metamorphs arrive.
A brood of Acolytes also arrive on the left flank, alongside the Rusted Claw’s Patriarch. The Patriarch immediately makes his presence felt, Smiting Ser Laertes’ Knight down to its final wounds bracket.
Reality rends and tears, and a horde of Bloodletters come bounding into the physical realm on the left flank.
Further on the right flank, Rusted Claw Jackals arrive to support the Chaos forces.
On the right flank, the Black Legion continue their relentless advance, quickly closing in on the hated Loyalists.
As yet more Bloodletters tear their way into reality, the forces of Chaos charge. Daemons, Traitor Marines and daemon-engines alike slam into the Astartes lines.
Kharn the Betrayer and his Berzerkers soon join the fray as well, and before long, the entire right flank devolves into a single, sprawling melee, Heretic and Loyalist fighting and dying before the unfinished Ninth Crown.
The Orks continue to dominate the left flank, blasting Stygies VIII’s Skitarii off the field. Further in the background, the Metamorphs charge a battery of Cadian Deathstrike missiles, and gradually destroy them. Further to the left, the Bloodletters raise their hellblades and charge the Magos of the Mechanicus forces.
Despite being a Legendary Hero in his own right, gifted with unnatural resilience and strength, the Magos is no match for a horde of daemons and is soon sliced apart by burning hellblades.
Hefting their rock-saws, the Acoyltes charge Ser Laertes, losing four of their number to overwatch. Crucially, the Patriarch fails his own charge.
The Acolytes bite of more than they can chew, failing to harm Ser Laertes before being crushed underfoot by the Knight. Suddenly, the Patriarch finds itself surrounded…
In response, Mechanicus and Sororitas forces swing into action on the left flank. A unit of Seraphim arrive, and they, combined with newly-arrived Skitarii deploying by Terrax drills, wipe out the Bloodletters.
Seeing the Genestealer Cultists directly ahead of them, the Living Saint leads the Sororitas on the offensive.
As Battle Sisters and Retributors disembarks, Canoness Superior Ursula Sevrei barks orders and directs their fire.
In a devastating blaze of fire, the combined efforts of the Sororitas, the Cadian armour and the Ultramarine Centurions wipes out almost all of the Rusted Claw forces, leaving only their leaders standing. Further to the back, the Achilles Ridgerunners suddenly find themselves charged by the Living Saint, who starts hacking the repurposed mining vehicles apart with her holy blade.
In the swirling melee on the left flank, the Carcharodon lines buckle, but hold. Thanks largely to the might of their legendary Captain and to the supporting fire of their Ultramarine allies, they quickly banish the Khorne Daemons, and slay both Kharn and his Berzerkers.
With a terrible screaming of ancient jets, the Black Legion Raptors arrive, Haarken Wordclaimer proclaiming that Vigilus now belongs to the Warmaster.
On the right flank, a Black Legion Daemon Prince Genestealer Cult forces edge towards the central gate.
More boldly, the Iron Warriors and World Eaters move aggressively towards the gate. NOT PICTURED: the Daemon Prince of the World Eaters, hefting his daemonic axe, would later take to the air and fly over the wall of the gate to charge the Knight Porphyrion. In a devastating blow to the Loyalists, the Daemon would hack the venerable Knight in twain, though he himself would be banished by the ensuing cataclysmic explosion.
Swearing death to the False Emperor, Haarken and his Raptors charge the Seraphim, losing two to overwatch…
…but wiping out all but one of the Sororitas. The last Seraphim would hold her nerve and later fly out of combat.
On the left flank, little by little, the Imperium gains ground, the massed fire of the Sororitas and Mechanicus (with help from the Cadians) blasting away most of the Ork tanks, including the Killbursta and the Battlewagon. Ser Laertes and the Kastelan Robots advance towards the skull-hill objective, with Dominions deploying to eliminate the remaining Grot Tanks as well.
From a distance, the Big Mek leading the Bad Moon forces sees the approaching Imperials, and starts to worry…
Fire from the Kastelans quickly wipes out the Raptors, leaving Haarken on his own. Powering up its fists, one of the Kastelans then charges the Worldclaimer, but fails to hurt him, and takes some damage for its troubles.
The last of the Grot Tanks are quickly eliminated, the last of them falling to Ser Laertes’ Reaper chainsword.
Elsewhere, the Terrax assault drill, its passengers having long since been killed, revs up its drill and tries to shred the Big Mek. The Big Mek is a legendary hero in his own right, however, and he smashes apart the assault drill in shot order.
Elsewhere, the Sisters Repentia charge the Rusted Claw’s Patriarch. Though many Repentias fall to the alien abomination’s claws, in return they cleave the alien apart with their massive chainswords, ending its influence over its hybrid followers.
Seemingly driven into a rage by the death of their Patriarch, the Magus and the Kelermorph both charge the Living Saint. The Kelermorph quickly meets his end at the Saint’s blade, before the Saint then flies out of combat with the Magus– it was far more important, she knew, for her to seize control of the gate than to slay this alien witch.
Even as the Black Legion Terminators enter the fray, little by little, the Carcharodons begin to drive the Chaos forces back, their Captain a blood-soaked force of nature as his sword reaps a terrible toll amongst the Traitors.
Unnoticed, the Skitarii of Stygies VIII continue to provide fire support for the Astartes.
The World Eaters quickly deploy from their Rhinos at the base of the gate, roaring challenges to the Loyalist scum. In response, the Sororitas release their Arco-Flagellants from their Rhinos, to meet the enemy’s challenge with berzerkers of their own…but alas, the Cadian armour annihilates the World Eaters before combat can be made.
The remaining Genestealer Cult forces are dealt with in short order, and the Imperial forces advance to seize control of the gate, the Living Saint leading the way.
Disengaging from his fight with the Kastelans, Haarken hurls his Helspear at Ser Laertes in an effort to finish him off. Alas, Laertes’ ion shield deflects the daemon weapon, keeping the noble Knight alive for now.
The mass melee on the right flank continued, with both sides suffering horrific losses. The World Eaters started hurling their tanks into the fray, hoping to grind the Loyalists down under their tracks. Fighting side by side, the Ultramarine and Carcharodon Captains fought off one such armoured attack.
Unexpectedly, a unit of Flash Gitz and an accompanying Warboss suddenly appeared on the left flank. (Note: they had originally been in the Killbursta, but the Ork player had forgotten to disembark them when the Killbursta had been destroyed). The Flash Gitz immediately made their presence known, blasting down a unit unit of Dominions with massed dakka.
As the bloodbath on the right flank continued, Abaddon the Despoiler personally entered the fray, slaying loyal Astartes left and right as he reaped a horrific with Drach’nyen. Just as it seemed that the right flank was about to collapse, however, a squad of Ultramarine Hellblasters managed to get the Despoiler in their sights. There was a blinding explosion as they unleashed a volley of overcharged plasma at point blank range. When the smoke cleared, Abaddon had been laid low by the plasma volley. A cheer went up among the Astartes as they saw that the Despoiler had been felled!
On the left flank, meanwhile, lascannon fire from the Chaos Predators wrecked the Stormlord, sending several batteries of Cadian heavy weapon teams tumbling out of the wreckage. At the orders of their Company Commander, however, the moved on double time from the wreckage, managing to occupy the gateway.
NOT PICTURED: Even as she flew towards the gateway, the Living Saint came under attack by Rusted Claw Jackals, their demolition charges felling both of her Gemini Superiae. They were no match for the Saint herself, however, her flaming sword utterly destroying the alien hybrids before she moved on to claim the gateway.
On the left flan, meanwhile, the Flash Gitz were swiftly cleared away by massed firepower, as was Haarken. The Big Mek, however, was seemingly invincible: Ser Laertes, the Robots, Exorcists, and newly-arrived Ultramarines all fired into the Ork, but could not so much as scratch him! (Thanks to his Legendary Hero upgrades, the Big Mek had a 3+ invulnerable save, ignored wounds on a 5+, could not be hurt on anything better than a 4+ and regained d3 wounds a turn). One unit of Robots charged the Big Mek, their controllers hoping that piston-driven fists could do what firepower could not.
Instead, the Big Mek shrugged off their attacks, before disassembling one of the Robots with his power klaw. Despite the best efforts of the Imperial forces, the one solitary Ork remained standing on atop the hill of skulls, contesting the objective.
Meanwhile, the Warboss hefted his power klaw and charged Ser Laertes, shrugging off the Knight’s overwatch before tearing off one of the Knight’s legs, felling it! Even as he fell, however, Ser Laertes made sure that he toppled directly on top of the Warboss, crushing him under his knight’s adamantium bulk.
By the battle’s end, the carnage on the right flank had seen both Chaos and Imperial forces devastated. Almost all of the Carcharodons had been slain, and only a handful of Ultramarines held their ground. Despite their losses, however, the Black Legion firmly held both of the objectives on that side of the table.

In the end, the final score, at the end, was close: both sides held an even number of objectives, and both sides had destroyed a large number of Titanic units and slain a good number of warlords. However, in the end, the Imperium had a narrow lead on victory points, and came out victorious after a long, hard fought and incredibly bloody battle.

RESULT: IMPERIAL VICTORY!

Thoughts:

Holy crap that was an intense game! Like almost every other Apocalypse game I’ve played, this one was wonderfully destructive: vast swathes of infantry were being removed from the board each turn, vehicles were pulverized, Titanic units went up in vast explosions…what was there not to like? The special “crown” system for the command points, though, helped to manage some of the chaos of the battle, making sure that players couldn’t spam stratagems as much as they liked. However, we found that stratagems were still being used quite liberally in this game, which meant that crowns were passing back and forth across the table regardless.

Some highlights for me in this battle included:

-The stubborn Ser Laertes cutting a swathe through the left flank, gunning down Grot Tanks, crushing Genestealer Cultists and tanking a ridiculous amount of firepower and damage, before finally meeting his valiant end to an Ork Warboss

-Celestine, doing her usual Celestine thing and carving through any Genestealer Cult units she ran across

-The World Eaters Daemon Prince, scoring the biggest kill of the day by cleaving apart the Knight Porphyrion

-The gigantic melee on the left flank. I lost track of how many units were going into that mass melee, but because units were allowed to strike back before dying, the casualties started to pile up pretty quickly. I’m impressed at how much of a fight the Carcharodons put up: thanks the Blood Angel rules they were using, they were wounding most of their Traitor opponents on 3s, and were striking back after death thanks to their nearby Standard of Sacrifice. Between that, a Captain sporting a lot of custom upgrades, and plenty of Hellblaster support, they inflicted a huge number of casualties on the traitor forces in melee…though, fittingly, they died almost to a man in return.

-Speaking of custom characters, the Ork Big Mek was almost an army unto himself. Thanks to his ridiculous number of defensive upgrades, he was extremely difficult to hurt, and no matter what the Imperial side threw at him, our combined firepower could barely even scratch him. He was still alive and kicking by the battle’s end, and I doubt there was anything on our side left that could feasibly have hurt him.

If there was one thing I would have done differently in this game, however, it would have been to deploy some of my stuff closer to the enemy. I had deployed the bulk of my forces in the center near the gate, but castled almost everything around Celestine and my Indomitable Belief Canoness to make use of a 4+ invulnerable save (not that that helped my big Battle Sister squad). However, this meant that most of my stuff was too far away to make an impact on the game: any time any enemy forces showed up near the gate, the Cadian super-heavies would promptly obliterate them in a storm of firepower before my Sisters could even do anything. In retrospect, I think I would have been better off putting more of my forces on either extreme flank– I think my Exorcists, in particular, would have been handy dealing with all of the Ork armour on the left flank, while my Arco-Flagellants and tricked-out Canoness would have been more likely to see action on the right. Then again, without my Sisters, I am not sure how well the Imperial forces in the centre would have dealt with the Genestealer Cultists.

Still, all the same, it was an incredibly fun game, and Ian deserves props for organizing the event as well as he did. I am very much looking forward to the next large-scale event…though next time, that may very well be done with GW’s new Apocalypse rules…

****

Captain Auguston sank to his knees, his master-crafted gladius stabbing into the dirt next to him as he fought to keep himself upright. Deep wounds in his abdomen and chest sent hot knives of pain stabbing deeper with each breath, and his muscles burned from over-exertion– his super-human biology had just been pushed to its limit after eight full hours of furious, non-stop melee. His cobalt blue armour was now almost black from the blood and spatter it had collected, and ochre warning runes flashed in his lenses, warning of intolerable damage that his armour had taken.

He knew, grimly, he was one of the lucky few to have survived: he was presently kneeling amidst a sea of Astartes dead, some wearing the cobalt blue of his brother Ultramarines, others wearing the slate-grey and ebony of the Carcharodons. Many others wore the hated lineage of the Traitors, particularly the black and gold of the Black Legion. He did not gaze for long on the bodies of the slain heretics: he did not want to look at the horrible ways in which the Warp had twisted away their humanity.

He glanced up, pulling his helmet off and sucking in air polluted with the acrid tang of fyceline and smoke. In the distance, the enemy was retreating, pulling back into the red-hot inferno that Storvhal had become. The Imperial defenders had suffered horrendous losses in the past few hours, had buckled and even broken in places against the sheer savagery of the enemy onslaught…but they had held. Here, against the full power and hatred of the Great Enemy, they had not only held the line, but they had also laid low the Arch-Traitor himself–

Auguston’s train of throught was interrupted when a nearby pile of rubble suddenly exploded outwards. A massive shape suddenly loomed upright. Auguston’s heart sank when he recognized the dread figure. He was standing. The Despoiler was standing.

It was impossible. The bastard should have been dead. There were terrible, smoking rents in the giant’s ancient Terminator armour, much of his plate was fused beyond recognition, half of his pale face has been burned off by plasma backwash…but even as Auguston watched, that armour began to seemingly re-shape itself, the terrible rents in it closing. The burn-scour across the Despoiler’s face disappeared: the hated Warmaster of Chaos smiled an unmarred, leering smile at him as he stood to his full height, the wickedly curved talons of his clawed gauntlet clacking while the greatsword he held in his other hand writhed and glowed with unholy power.

Auguston found the power to speak, his voice hoarse from shouted commands. “It is over, Traitor,” he spat, even as behind him, his battle company took up firing positions. “You will not activate that Noctolith Crown today. You have failed.”

The Despoiler, damn him, simply smiled. “Foolish Ultramarine,” Abaddon said, his voice like a distant thundercloud. “”Did you really think that Storvhal was the only place on this planet linked to the Warp?” He opened the Talon of Horus outwards, as though in a beckoning gesture. “But you are right about one thing: I will not activate the Ninth Crown today. You have merely delayed the inevitable.”

And with that, the air around Abaddon suddenly shimmered in the unmistakable glow of teleport activation. Auguston screamed the order to fire. Around him, the air lit up with bolter-flares and crackling plasma bursts, and the area where Abaddon had been standing was obliterated in an explosion of dirt and dust.

When the smoke cleared, Abaddon…and with him, the unfinished frame of the Noctolith Crown…were gone.

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