Hot on the heels of the Siege of Hod’s Anvil campaign, I now find myself involved in yet another siege.
A few weeks back, on a whim, I decided to get involved in a Kill Team campaign being organized at yet another local game store. At the start of the campaign, the organizer was originally planning it to be an alliance of the Imperium, Eldar and T’au against Chaos. Given that I had just played an entire campaign with my Drukhari, and that I was still waiting for proper Kill Team rules for the Adepta Sororitas (at the time), I decided to enter the campaign with my fledgling Deathwatch kill team– a faction that, up until this point, I had had very little experience with. Qs things turned out, I ended up being the only Imperial player on the “Truce” side alongside a host of Eldar, Harlequin and T’au kill teams, while the “Chaos” side comprised mostly of Tyranids (plus a few obviously heretical Marine players).
There will be six games total in this campaign, and as of writing, I have finished five (Kill Team goes quickly like that). So, just to sum things up, I would be entering a campaign for a game system I was still mostly unskilled in, with a faction that I had only had one game with at that point, up against a bunch of opponents who were more experieced. What could possibly go wrong?
As a side note: most of these battles were fought a few weeks ago (before the release off the Kill Team annual) and I’m only getting to them now because life and the holidays have been getting in the way. As such, some of the stratagems, points costs, etc may not reflect the state of the game as it is now).
(Intro fluff written by the campaign organizer and one of the other playets)
The gathering storm is discussed – a council is held – a shaky is alliance formed
The aspect shrine was not often visited by any outside the path of the Asuryan, but there Farseer Shiriolas Kinshar stood. The clean, practical room in which Exarch Illisar and the farseer spoke was colder for Shiriolas’ presence, as if the wraithbone from which the room was sung stole the warmth from the air to protect it from the seer.
“Farseer.” Illisar, son of Eldroneth, Exarch of the Shrine in which they stood, was on edge. He bowed his head slightly, a sign of acceptance, before offering the farseer a seat on the spartan furnishings in front of them. “To what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from one from the Path of the Seer?”
Shiriolas lifted his hand gently, palm outward, a gentle refusal of the Exarch’s offer. “There is a matter that I must discuss with you. I witnessed a prophecy, and I’m afraid it involves you directly.”
Illisar’s felt a sinking feeling in his chest. That any prophecy involved him was not a good sign, especially not a prophecy foreseen by a Farseer of Ulthwé. Shiriolas continued.
“A mon’keigh city lies far to the eastern edge of the galaxy. I have seen a future where the city is brought low by the Great Enemy, and this destruction creates a rift in space. The city will be destroyed.”
“The forces of Chaos will be there in their multitudes, gathered in the hopes of conquest and bloodshed,” spoke the farseer, his eyes a deep black pool. “With them stalks the galactic Beast, the bane of Iyanden, and they will tear down the imperial city of Inverius.”
“And what is that to us? Why should the Asuryani risk their lives to help those children defend their toy castles?” The Dire Avenger Exarch, even in his own aspect shrine, felt a loss of peace come over him. His rage and hate for humans threatened to boil over, and it took effort to control his emotions.
The Farseer’s visage turned to stone, and his voice became cold.
“Because if we do not, the tear in space will create another place from which She Who Thirsts can find us. From that tear in reality, many will suffer and die, their power feeding the warp.” Shiriolas shuddered. “That is the least of it, honoured Exarch, and I’m afraid you are centrally important to avoiding this ill fate.”
The Exarch bowed his head, and his soul swam with conflicted grief. Seconds passed, but felt like hours as the two aeldari sat together in the quiet sanctum. After some time, Illisar looked up from his bowed head, his eyes intense.
“Very well. What must be done, Farseer?”
Shas’vre Rakyuda Ko’tane sat with his legs crossed, meditating. The world around him sang, and he basked in the sounds; Por’vre Tu’o’s feet as they padded across the room, the soft hum of drones floating by. The wind outside of the viewing port blowing through the trees. In all this, he was peaceful, focused, and aware.
He heard the whisper of a door opening, the door to the war council room. Several voices echoed softly from the room before one beckoned him into the chamber. Smoothing out his fatigues, Ko’tane stood up and made his way into the chamber. There were five t’au sat around a low table, one of which stood out like a gem in the middle of a crown: Aun’El Se’rel, one of the ethereal caste.
“Shas’vre, how much experience do you have with the gue’vesa?” The ethereal’s words flowed like cool water over him.
“Only their way of war, honourable one.”
Se’rel turned towards the tau on her right. “O’Cha’se, are you sure Ko’tane is the correct choice for the task?”
The tau called O’Cha’se nodded. “Ko’tane is level headed, calm, and capable. It will not be his task to handle the gue’vesa, only to handle the mission we have for him.”
Curiosity burned at his heart, but Ko’tane held his tongue. To speak out of turn in front of a commander, let alone an ethereal, was cause enough for dismissal.
After several long moments, Se’rel nodded and turned back to Ko’tane. “Shas’vre, you have served the T’au’va with diligence, efficiency, and honour for many years. We need those qualities from you now.”
Ko’tane made the sign of grateful acceptance. “What does the T’au’va need of me, honoured Aun’el?”
The doors whispered shut as the war council began to speak to Ko’tane of the artifact the sept recently recovered, a massed attack by mutant gue’ron’sha, and how it might all relate to a gue’vesa city named Invernius…
Inquisitor Ariadna Zao moved quickly along the halls of the keep, the sound of her boots hitting the hard metal grating an echo that reverberated ahead of her. Flanked on either side of her stood members of the Ordo Xenos, Astartes of the Deathwatch. 7 foot tall, black armour clad giants, they were the militant wing of the ordo. They handled weapons normal humans would struggle to lift, let alone use, as easily as a child might hold a stick. Ariadna hoped she would have no need of them today.
“Inquisitor,” one of them growled through their vox, “the xenos are waiting for you in the containment room. None were seen entering.”
“Good. Ensure that should anything go awry during my talks with them that none leave the room alive.”
Ariadna and her retinue passed several checkpoints, each one easily bypassed by her exceptional credentials and impressive guards. Gun servitors trained on them as they passed, and robust doors ground open to let them through. Noting each security measure as they passed, Ariadna smiled. The governor of this planet did exactly as she had asked. If the city survived, she would see to it that they were well rewarded for their good work.
She stopped in front of an unremarkable door, and looked to her escorts. The two astartes stood at attention next to her. “We are ready, Inquisitor.”
She punched in the security code required to open the door, pressed her thumb to a scanner, and the door swung inwards to reveal the reason for all the security.
Xenos. A room full of them.
The room was small, enough to fit eight humans comfortably around the holo-table in the centre. A soft light came down in the middle like a mist, casting a soft light around the chamber. Two aeldari clad in blue alien armour, dire avenger aspect warriors, stood in one corner of the room speaking in their own oily tongue. A third stood in the corner, still as a statue, its slim fitting clothing drawing the eye away from the wearer. In the centre of the room sat two tau, one in what seemed to be military fatigues, the other in luxurious robes that flowed like water. This second one looked up, briefly unable to conceal its surprise at seeing the inquisitor and her two flanking astartes.
Ariadna turned around and motioned one of the astartes to guard the door. The space marine nodded, walked out of the chamber, and shut the chamber door behind him.
Inquisitor Ariadna strode to the table,her immaculate master-crafted power armour glinting in the glow of the overhead light. The astartes took position behind her as the two aeldari that were speaking stopped.
Silence held the room fast, heavy and unyielding. None seemed willing to break the deathly stillness of the room for many long minutes.
Finally, the t’au in the military fatigues spoke to his colleague. The robed t’au nodded curtly before turning to the Inquisitor. “Are you Inquisitor Ariadna?” It spoke high gothic with an almost perfected enunciation. Almost. The slight differences cause Ariadna’s skin to crawl.
“Yes. I am the one who reached out for help.”
“Then how can we be of help to you, gue’vesa?” The robed t’au asked, his arms open.
“Do not presume to speak for all of us, t,’au,” one of the aspect warriors said. His inky black eyes fixed themselves on the Inquisitor. “Not all of us are pleased to be here.”
Ariadna laughed. “I wouldn’t have expected you to be! That said, we are all here for a very good reason.”
The xenos scoffed at this. “Your pathetic lives are hardly a ‘good reason’ to be here, mon’keigh.”
The space marine behind her shifted at this, his fingers casually sliding over the handle of his xenophase blade. Ariadna put a hand up behind her. “Brother Cervantes, hold. We will not act like children here, will we aeldari?”
“It is not we who are children, human. It is your fault you are in this mess, and like a parent taking care of a child, we are here to save you from yourselves.”
“Exarch Amuro, we both know that not wholly true.” Ariadna smiled. “Besides, our goals align here. Your farseers aren’t the only one who have been having visions of Ivernius.” At this, Exarch Armuro sat back into his chair, his expression inscrutable. One thing Ariadna disliked about the aeldari were their expressions: it was always difficult to figure out what they were thinking, not because of the lack of expression but the complexity.
At this, the robed t’au spoke again. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but by visions, you mean your predictions or…?”
Ariadna nodded. “Yes, our ‘mind science’ as you know it allows us a brief glimpse into the future at times. The future, currently, looks grim. Very grim indeed.”
“Grim in what manner, inquisitor?” The robed t’au was full of questions, it seemed. As he spoke, Ariadna noticed the high gothic accent becoming even more accurate and… disturbingly human.
“I believe that our Harlequin friend can explain it best.” She motioned to the aeldari in the corner, who then moved to the centre of the room.
After a half hour, it became clear exactly how grim the situation was.
Ko’tane listened carefully to the explanation. A lot of it didn’t make much sense: he was a soldier, not a scientist, and the language of the gue’vesa wasn’t as easy for him to follow as it was for Por’vre Tu’o, who relayed the information as best she could to Ko’tane throughout.
Once the aeldari had finished his explanation, the human woman spoke next. “As you can see, my people here are in a great deal of danger. This danger isn’t just ours, however, and it pains me to ask for help from all of you.” She paused for a moment, staring at each of the people in the room in turn, before continuing. “Still, I’m not just asking for help. I need each of you to realize the very real danger the threat at the door to this city, poses for us all.”
One of the aeldari, the only one who hadn’t spoken yet, now sat forward. “For us, maybe. But what of these t’au? They have no stake in this.”
Before Tu’o could speak, Ko’tane put a hand on his colleague’s shoulder. Tu’o looked perplexed, but sat back in her chair regardless.
“I am not as good for speaking your language,” he began, “but we aren’t without stake here. I cannot speak to you everything, but we know almost what will happen if the enemy breaches this home.” Ko’tane was beginning to regret failing to study the language of the gue’vesa, but he pushed forward. “It is as the T’au’va; we will help to stop this attack for the greater good, not just of us, but the galaxy. Ivernius is not our place, but it is affecting our home should it fall. That is our stake.”
The aeldari was still. Ko’tane could make out slight glimmers of movement, muscles under the aeldari’s skin making almost imperceptible movements, or the eyes of the alien scanning him thoroughly.
“Very wise of you, shas’vre,” said the human woman. “Does that answer your question, Exarch Illisar?”
The aeldari stared at Ko’tane a moment longer before turning away his prying gaze. “Well enough, mon’keigh.”
“Very good. Then let us figure out the first step to defending Ivernius from the forces of Chaos, shall we?”