The Siege of Inverius, Part 2: Brother Against Brother

c. Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games

The air down in section 55-Tertius of the smelled different than the dank, filthy squalor of the rest of the underhive. There was an aggressively cleanliness to it, a chemical taste at the back of Cervantes’ mouth that spoke to the presence of antibacterial agents, counterseptic regimens and antiviral compounds. The rows of tanks, filled with glimmering green fluid, filled the entire place with an unearthy viridian glow that shone brightly against the polished white stone of the place. On Inquisitor Zao’s orders, this section of the underhive had been sequestered as storage facility with which to stockpile medical supplies. In a time of war, such as this, it would be imperative to keep vital medical supplies out of reach of a displaced, scavenging populace, so that proper triage and treatement protocols could be enacted when it was safe to do so.

Unfortunately, this place was anything but secure…especially now that there were wolves lurking in the shadows.

“They should be here any second now,” Cervantes breathed into the vox. Next to him, his brothers stood, weapons at the ready, watching into the gloom of the abandoned passageway. Even though the lights of this section had failed long ago (though thankfully the generators for the medicae facility itself still functioned), the Astartes could see perfectly into the gloom, even without the infared sensors of their helmets. But at the moment, that was all they could see: gloom.

“Do you think they’ll listen, though, Sergeant?” Ka’shan asked. “I’ve fought alongside them before, back on Armageddon, while they are as noble as any of us…they are not exactly forgiving either.”

“The same could be said of us,” Gaudric muttered. Fresh from the Doom Eagles, Gaudric had only arrived to join the Kill Team recently. “There’s no room for any debate here, brother. They will fall in line, or they will fall before us. There is no middle ground.”

“And that is why you won’t be handling the negotiations, Brother Gaudric,” Cervantes breathed. He adjusted the sensors of his helm, attempting to enhance the range of its thermal detection. Surely, they had to be appearing by now–

And then, all of a sudden, they were there. No warning. No alarms from any of the proximity sensors they had set up. Nothing. Across from Cervantes and his team, on the other side of a long gantry overlooking the darkness of the lower levels, three tall shapes appeared, seemingly melting out of the shadows. They wore Mark X Primaris battle-plate the blue-grey of a frozen winter lake, though in the gloom it seemed more the colour of a looming thunderhead. They were all helmeted, and the red glare of their eye lenses stared out hatefully at them from the distance.

Cervantes knew that they wouldn’t want to waste time, and so was the first to speak. He took a step forward. “Cervantes, of the Deathwatch.”

“Buliwyf, of the Rout,” came the heavily accented reply of one of the Primaris. Though the other Marine was helmeted, Cervantes imagined the face of the speaker underneath was covered in whorls of runic tattoos and a great, braided beard. Such, he knew, were the ways of the Fenrisians.

Cervantes nodded. “I am glad you came then, brother. We must speak. We must put this grievance behind it.”

At this, the Space Wolf let out a loud chuckle…one that sounded, unpleasantly, like a wet, canine growl. “A grievance? Is that what you call it? From where I stand, it smells more like treachery.”

Cervantes felt his face flush red a little, and bit back the anger he felt rising in his gullet. “Have a care for your words, brother,” he said, letting some steel slide into his tone. “We arranged this meeting in good faith, so that we might come to terms and go back to the only thing that matters: fighting the xenos.”

“Oh aye?” Buliwyf absent mindedly scratched the back of his helmeted head in what Cervantes knew to be a mocking gesture. “Which xenos, then? The Tyranids…or the Eldar that your mistress is so happy to make friends with?”

Cervantes shook his head. “We have been over this before, brother,” he said. “I feel as you do, brother, but at least I can see the logic of it. We are isolated and outgunned against an impossibly vast hive fleet. I have no love for the Eldar, or the T’au, and in any other situation I would happily put a bolt between their eyes. But if we stand alone against the Tyranids, then we fall, and Inverius falls. It is as simple as that.”

There was a tremendous clang as Buliwyf’s armoured fist suddenly descended on the metal railing. “Except is ISN’T that simple, isn’t it?” the Space Wolf snarled in sudden, explosive fury. “You claim to be expert xeno-hunters, and yet you’re blind to what’s right in front of you! Those elfen witches are using you, manipulating you, spinning your thread to their own wheel! That is their way! And you should know, as well as I, that they will ultimately betray us all in the end! In your blind obedience to that Inquisitor of yours, you’ve willingly become their pawns!”

Cervantes felt his fury rising at the accusation. “And what of you?” he hissed in return. “Striking at our supply lines? Sabotaging our communications? You call us pawns of the xenos, and yet you fail to see that your actions are only aiding the Tyranids!”

Buliwyf responded with a derisive snort. “The only ones we have taken up our blades against,” he growled, “are the Eldar and T’au your Inquisition is so keen to make friends with! Unlike you, we at least recognize that the only good xenos is a dead one!” The Space Wolf leaned a little further on the railing of the gantry, causing it to creak under his tremendous weight. “I had hoped, Cervantes of the Deathwatch, that I would be able to talk some sense into you, to remind you of the duty that you have been so bloody remiss in! But I see now that you’re just as deluded as the hag you so blindly follow. Now, as ever, you’re nought but lapdogs of the Inquisition!”

At that moment, Cervantes’ own iron fist slammed down against the railing. “Brother, ” he said slowly, taking efforts to reign in his choler, “I am not asking you to agree with us. I am not asking you to approve of our choice, or even obey the Inquisition’s orders. But I AM asking you to fight alongside us, rather than against us, as brothers. I am asking you stand with us against the one true enemy, against the Great Devourer, and save this world from destruction. And I am asking, not as a subordinate to the Ordo Xenos, but as an Astartes, like yourself.”

For a moment, Buliwyf was silent. His faceless helm remained expressionless, the burning red coals of his eye lenses continuing to glare in the gloom.

“We will save this world from the Tyranids,” he said at last. “But we will not sacrifice our will to the Eldar to do it. Not like you have.”

Cervantes was about to reply when the vox suddenly shut out and devolved into hissing static. His blood ran cold when he immediately realized what that meant: omni-scramblers.

“Ambush!” he heard Brother Rukaan shout, just as yet more Space Wolves suddenly came bounding out of the gloom on their flanks, combat blades drawn….

****

After reeling from the brutal losses they had taken in the first two games of the Invernius campaign, my Deathwatch, after getting about 50 points worth of reinforcements for their roster, were ready to try to redeem themselves. In the next two games, I ended up facing off against something other than the Tyranid threat, hunting down the most perfidious xenos species of them all: Space Marin…wait, what?

Yes, there were in fact two other Space Marine kill teams fighting on the Tyranid side, for no other reason than that was how the division of sides ultimately ended up going. I found it more than a little ironic that, while the Eldar, Harlequin and T’au kill teams fought the Tyranids, I actually had to fight the only other Imperial forces in this campaign. Funny how that happens, really.

My first game was against Rob, and his Primaris Space Wolves in an Arena mission. For this game, I brought the following:

DEATHWATCH
Sergeant Cervantes (Watch-Sergeant)- xenophase blade, storm shield, Leader
Brother Ka’shan (Veteran Gunner)- infernus heavy bolter, Heavy
Brother Gaudric (Vanguard Veteran)- jump pack, thunder hammer, storm shield, Combat
Brother Siddarja (Veteran)- combi-plasma, Sniper
Brother Rukaan (Veteran Gunner)- frag cannon
Brother Kras (Intercessor)- bolt rifle

Rob, meanwhile, took the following:

SPACE WOLVES
Buliwyf (Intercessor Sergeant)- bolt rifle, auspex, Leader
Rethnel (Eliminator Sergeant)- bolt sniper rifle, Sniper
Herger (Intercessor Gunner)- bolt rifle, auxiliary grenade launcher, Demolitions
Edgtho the Second (Reiver Sergeant)- heavy bolt pistol, combat knife, Combat
Wulfgar (Infiltrator Sergeant)
Roneth (Reiver)- heavy bolt pistol, combat knife
Ragnar (Reiver)- heavy bolt pistol, combat knife

So, a purely Primaris kill team against a kill team with…maybe one Primaris Marine. As I had not yet faced off against thinkgs like Infiltrators, Eliminators, etc, it was no doubt going to be an interesting learning experience for me.

Note: because I failed to adequately prepare for this game ahead of time, I ended up hastily assembling my kill team on the fly…and ended up over the 125 point limit by quite a few points. Rob, in turn, was under points by quite a bit, and I think there was enough of a points difference, that Rob was allowed an extra command point as a result.

Some of Rob’s Reviers. I really like the base work he did on them.

SCENARIO AND DEPLOYMENT

The scenario was one that had been developed by the campaign organizer. There were four objectives on my side of the board (placed in rooms along the board edges) that the Space Wolves would get added points each turn for controlling. All standard Arena rules otherwise applied.

I deployed most of my Kill Team in the centre, with Ka’shan and Solon ready to push along the south while Gaudric and Rukaan were ready to go north. Cervantes and Siddarja were to support either flank, or hold the centre, as need be.
Meanwhile, the Space Wolves deployed with Buliwyf and Herger in the north, Rethnel in the centre, and brave Wulfgar moving southwards.

THE GAME

Winning the initiative, the Deathwatch moved up aggressively, with Gaudric flying up behind a wall for a turn 2 charge, and Rukaan moving up to support him.
Buliwyf and Herger moved into the room opposite Gaudric, a standoff commencing between the lone Vanguard and the two Primaris.
As Wulfgar moved up towards the Deathwatch in the south, Ka’shan moved up to intercept the Infiltrator.
Meanwhile, Solon and Siddarja moved up to support Ka’shan, while Cervantes bravely held the centre, anticipating Reivers at any moment.

In the shooting phase, only one gun fired: loading his Infernus heavy bolter with More Bullets, Ka’shan loosed a spray of explosive bolts and molten promethium at Wulfgar. Even the Primaris’ prodigious toughness was no match for such a firestorm, and Wulfgar was quickly incinerated by the volley! First blood to the Deathwatch!

Cervantes’ fears suddenly proved correct, as Edgtho and Roneth popped up from hiding places right nearby the Watch-Sergeant! Roneth fired his heavy bolt pistol at Cervantes, but the shot bounced off of his storm shield, while Edgtho traded fire with Solon to no effect.
Igniting his jump pack, Gaudric charged headlong into Buliwyf, aiming to dispose of the enemy leader then and there! (Note: Gaudric’s storm shield arm fell off before the game, so just pretend there is a storm shield there)
Unperturbed, Herger marched forward, intent on taking that objective. At that moment, Ragnar sprang from his hiding place as well, leaving poor Brother Rukaan somewhat isolated.
Meanwhile, Rethel, seeing his pack leader in danger, hefted his bolt sniper rifle and charged into the fray as well.
Further to the south, Cervantes, knowing it was do or die, charged into Ragnar, only to be counter-charged by Roneth.
Calmly, Rukaan loaded up his frag cannon…
…and blasted two gaping holes into Ragnar, inflicting wounds that should have killed him. With a snarl of “Death Denied!” however, Ragnar remained standing, hurting but alive.
While Ka’shan moved to bring his heavy bolter into line of sight, Siddarja spied Herger in the distance. Calmly, he overcharged his combi-plasma and fired, sending a plasma bolt punching through the Space Wolf’s armour, felling him instantly.

In melee, Gaudric collided with Buliwyf with the force of a thunderbolt, his hammer striking down and sundering the Intercessor in one terrible blow. Howling in rage, Rethel struck back, but could not get past the Vanguard Veteran’s storm shield. In the south of the battle grid, however, a different story played out, as Cervantes was overwhelmed by the two Reivers, their combat knives darting past his guard and stabbing him down.

At that point, with both leaders down, the Space Wolves slipped back into the darkness. They had lost half their force in this costly ambush, and would have to bide their time to strike another day. (Translation: because of our poor timing, the store would be closing in about ten minutes, so we decided to call it there).

Result: Deathwatch Victory!

GAME 2

For the next game, I was up against Matt and his Fractured Blades– a Chaos-tainted warband of his otherwise totally loyal Imperial Ravens chapter. Just as against Rob, it was going to be a straight-up Arena clash against two Space Marine forces.

This time around, I brought the following:

DEATHWATCH
Watch-Sergeant Cervantes- xenophase blade, storm shield
Brother Gaudric (Vanguard Veteran)- jump pack, thunder hammer, storm shield, Combat
Brother Siddarja (Veteran)- combi-plasma, Sniper
Brother Ka’shan (Veteran Gunner)- infernus heavy bolter, heavy
Brother Lysades (Veteran Gunner)- frag cannon
Brother Murat (Veteran)- deathwatch shotgun

Pretty much the same list as I had run previously, with the notable exception that, as I was trying to be a little less careless with my points this time, I had traded the Intercessor for a shotgun Veteran so that I didn’t go over points. Otherwise, the general idea of the Kill Team was the same: shoot stuff at close range, bonk stuff on the head with the Vanguard, and try not to die.

As a side note: looking back at the rules of the campaign game, I now realize, to my horror, that I was again supposed to use the other half of my command roster. While I’m fairly confident that the other half of my command roster would have done equally well, this is nonetheless the sort of mistake that can matter in a Kill Team campaign, and I will have to make efforts to not make the same error in future

Matt’s wonderfully painted Kill Team.

FRACTURED BLADES (BLACK TEMPLARS)

Intercessor Sergeant- bolt rifle, power sword, Leader
Vanguard Veteran- jump pack, dual lightning claws, Zealot
Eliminator Sergeant- Instigator bolt carbine, , Sniper
Tactical Marine Gunner- missile launcher, Heavy
Eliminator- bolt sniper rifle
Vanguard Veteran- jump pack, chainsword, storm shield

An intimidating list to be sure, with plenty of jump troops to counter my own, and a pair of Eliminators. I had barely gotten a sense of how nasty Eliminators could be in my last game against Rob, and I had a feeling that this time I was about to find out.

Scenario and Deployment

For this mission, we were using Arena rules, with one caveat: points would be determined by taking and holding objectives in each room each turn, there would be no doors in this mission. Matt and I both liked the sound of that last caveat, as it meant there would be nothing interrupting either of our movement.

I deployed my Deathwatch thusly, with Siddarja standing with full line of sight down a narrow corridor in the centre, while on the flanks, his brothers prepared for a dual push on either side.
My opponent, meanwhile, deployed his two Vanguards on either edge of the corridor, his Eliminators on either flank, and his Tactical Gunner dead centre, staring downwards at Siddarja. A Necromundan standoff quickly ensued between the two.

THE GAME

My opponent won the initiative and immediately began my creeping his Sniper down the right flank.
The two Vanguard Veterans, meanwhile, came zooming down the narrow corridor, with the storm shield Vanguard literally shielding his lightning claw-armed brother as they sought to charge my Kill Team next turn.
Knowing that the enemy Vanguards had to be dealt with immediately, Cervantes and Ka’shan moved in from the flanks to help deal with them, while Siddarja wisely moved out of line of sight of the enemy Gunner.
On the right flank, Gaudric zoomed up and took cover, ready for a charge next turn, while Lysades advanced behind cover as well, ready to hopefully frag the Sniper to death.
In the shooting phase, however, things didnt go so well, as Lysades missed both of his shots, and took a flesh wound from the Sniper in reply.
In the centre, however, it was a different story, as Ka’shan let rip with a stream of burning promethium and heavy bolter shells, blasting the storm shield Vanguard apart. Siddarja then calmly overcharged his combi-plasma and fired, blasting down the Combat Vanguard in one shot.
In the following turn, Cervantes moved up the right into an adjacent room, claiming that objective.
Meanwhile, Ka’shan and Siddarja moved up the left flank to deal with the Eliminator guarding that room. Further in the background, Brother Murat continued to ghost around the battlefield, grabbing another objective on his own.
Finally, Brother Gaudric charged the Sniper…which fled, narrowly escaping his wrath. Unfortunately, the Sniper had fled in such a way that both he and his traitorous Sergeant were out of line of sight of the now-readied Lysades.

The shooting phase was brief, yet brutal, with Ka’shan claiming his second Primaris kill of the campaign by mowing down the Eliminator guarding the room. The Tactical Gunner, meanwhile, tried to take out Cervantes, but the Watch Sergeant’s trust storm shield protected him from harm.

In the following turn, Cervantes held his position, while Siddarja stayed behind to occupy the adjacent room as well. Both Ka’shan and Murat went on the offensive, however, moving up on the flank to deal with the Tactical Gunner.
The enemy Intercessor Sergeant, however, quickly took the initiative and charged Gaudric.
In the shooting phase, things took a turn for the worse as the Tactical Gunner switched his sights to Ka’shan, and blasted the former Salamander down with a krak missile.
Even worse, the enemy Sergeant managed to get two blows past Gaudric’s storm shield, hacking the Vanguard down in a flurry of blows!
In the final round of the game, Murat advanced around the bend to get some revenge on the Tactical Gunner, with the two of them trading fire to no effect. (Sadly, I forgot to take any pictures beyond this point)

The Intercessor Sergeant then managed to charge Lysades from out of line of sight, forcing the frag cannon gunner to flee, and Sniper hefted his rifle and charged Cervantes. In that final round of melee, neither Marine managed to hurt the other, and with that, the game came to an end.

Although the Fractured Blades had managed to claw back some points in the end, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Deathwatch’s early lead. Reluctantly, the Traitors were forced to retreat, leaving the chamber firmly in the control of the Ordo Xenos.

RESULT: DEATHWATCH VICTORY!

Thoughts: Wow! After suffering two terrible losses to the Tyranids in the first two rounds, my Deathwatch came back in a big way in these two games! It’s just that those victories happened to be against other Space Marines, ironically enough.

In both those games, I found that splitting my kill team up into pairs worked really well, as my more shooty Deathwatch models were able to support one another really well. I’m starting to find that Deathwatch fare really well against rival Space Marines, as their sheer number of armour-piercing and high-damage weaponry can put a lot of hurt on a low model count kill team, including/especially Primaris Marines.

In the first game, I was able to take an early lead by taking out key enemy models with my Heavy and Vanguard, though had the game gone on, I might have struggled to deal with all of those Reivers in my lines. In the second game, though, Matt’s charge down the corridor doomed him, as I was able to focus all of my firepower on those two incoming Vanguard, killing off a third of his kill team in one go. From there, I was able to spread my kill team out and grab as many objectives as I could, and while Matt managed to fight back effectively in the last two rounds, by then it was too little, too late.

Looking back at both games, most of my models performed solidly. Trusty Brother Ka’shan, in particular, impressed me by roasting dowm a Primaris in each game, and my combi-plasma Sniper also pulled his own weight. My Vanguard also did well, though I doscovered that he really needs to get the charge off to earn his points back. Looking forward, I’m considering adding yet more Primaris to my team, in particular Reievers and/or an Intercessor Sergeant.

In the next few games, my Deathwatch will be fighting yet more defensive battles against the Tyranids, and Inquisitor Zao herself will be making an appearancez, so stay tuned, readers!

****

Cervantes sank to his knees, blood dripping to the granite floor from where a traitor’s combat knife had slashed open his cheek, the iron-rich blood mixing in with the brackish, polluted moisture spattering down from the upper levels of the hive, an indoor rainstorm for an indoor jungle. His xenophase blade was still clenched in one hand, the eldritch viridian light of its blade hissing in the rain. Around him, the remnants of the last skirmish lay strewn about him in the abandoned corridor– fellow Astartes, clad in crimson and grey battle plate, which had either been sliced open by Deathwatch blades or ruptured utterly by Deathwatch guns– weapons that had, for all intents and purposes, been designed solely for use against xenos.

He felt sick to look upon them. True, the Fractured Blades were traitors, warp-tainted madmen who had been embarking on a campaign of sabotage and terror in the underhive….but not too long ago, they had been loyal Astartes, like himself. And then there had been the clash against the Space Wolves…he spat a gobbet of acidic phlegm. The Wolves were every bit as loyal to the Imperium as any of Cervantes’ Brothers, and he had even had the honour of serving alongside many sons of Fenris in his centuries of honoured service. To cross blades with loyal brothers and spill their blood in internecine conflict like this…nothing, to Cervantes, was more shameful or abhorrent. For the first time in those centuries of services, Cervantes truly hated himself.

They are using you, Buliwyf had said. You and the Inquisitor are being manipulated…

His vox suddenly crackled to life. “Aquila One, report,” a female voice said.

Cervantes let out an exhalation of pained breath as he thumbed his vox bead. “Cervantes here, Inquisitor,” he replied. “The Fractured Blades have been driven off back into the depths of the underhive. Unfortunately, my team is too under-strength at the moment to pursue.”

A part of him wanted to snap at Inquisitor Zao then, to scream at her, to ask her if she was satisfied that Astartes blood had to be spilled for the sake of her precious alliance with the xenos. Centuries of iron discipline prevented him from doing so.

“Do not bother then, Watch Sergeant,” Inquisitor Zao replied. “We have more important matters to deal with. Vox reports have come back that the outer walls have been breached. Tyranid brood-forms are now pouring into the city. I need you and your men back on the surface immediately.”

Cervantes stood up at the news. “We will regroup at convergence point Mu-Omicron immediately,” he said, his initial anger suddenly forgotten. “What of the Aeldari? Or the T’au?”

“Fighting their own holding actions,” Zao replied. “For now, Sergeant, it is just us.”

As it should have been all along, Cervantes thought bitterly. “We are on our way, Inquisitor.”

“And Cervantes?”

The Crimson Fist paused. “Yes, Inquisitor?”

“Do not think that I am ignorant of what you and your men had to sacrifice down there,” Zao said. “I would not have asked you to do this if there were any other way.”

Cervantes’ face hardened at this. “With respect, Inquisitor,” he said flatly, “it is the Emperor’s judgment you should concern yourself with, not mine.”

And with that, Cervantes killed the vox, and as one, he and his brothers began the long trek back up to the surface.

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