ENGAGING MAIN GENERATOR
ALL SYSTEMS AT 45%
ALL SYSTEMS AT 45%
VITAL SIGNS WITHIN ACCEPTABLE PARAMETERS
SOMNUS PROTOCOLS DISENGAGED
PSYCHOMETRIC LATTICE RE-ENGAGED
RE-ESTABLISHING VISUAL LINK
*Cut to image from main picter unit. A figure stands in front of the unit, clad in modified MkV power armour and carrying a heavy staff. Armour design consistent with XIV Legion iconography, post-Battle of [REDACTED].*
“Brother Apophis, can you hear me?”
VOICE PATTERN IDENTIFIED– SEE ATTACHED XIV LEGION PERSONNEL LOG
“BROTHER SENOTH. IT GLADDENS MY HEART TO SEE YOU AGAIN.”
“And I you, Brother. I apologize for interrupting your great sleep.”
“THINK NOTHING OF IT. DOES THE PRIMARCH CALL US TO WAR, BROTHER?”
*Subject appears to pause for roughly three seconds*
“We are indeed called to war, Brother Apophis.”
“ALAS, A PITY THAT DUTY MUST CALL ON US SO. I HAD OTHERWISE WISHED TO VISIT THE STREETS OF TIZCA AGAIN. *LAUGHS* THOUGH I SUPPOSE IN MY PRESENT FORM, IT WOULD BE RATHER AWKWARD OF ME TO PERUSE THE BOOKSHOPS, WOULDN’T IT?”
*Subject pauses again, for roughly five seconds.”
“Tizca? Brother Apophis, do you…do you still not remember?”
“REMEMBER WHAT, BROTHER?”
“About Tizca, about Prospero, and what happened…”
SEARCHING DATALOGS– CROSSREF 734.004.M31 FALL OF [REDACTED] 120.014.M31 – SIEGE OF [REDACTED] [REDACTED]
WARNING: DATA CORRUPTION—–DATA CORRUPTION—- DATA—
“I…I jest, Brother. Calm yourself, it was a….bad joke on my part.”
“YOU ALWAYS DID HAVE THE STRANGEST JESTS, AKHENATU. PERHAPS IF YOU MADE FEWER OF YOUR POOR ATTEMPTS AT HUMOUR, YOU MIGHT HAVE ACTUALLY MADE CAPTAIN BY NOW.”
“Actually…Magis…Captain Djoter promoted me quite recently. I am currently in command of this operation.”
“OH, WONDERFUL! CONGRATULATIONS THEN, BROTHER! NOW, TELL ME, WHAT FOE IS SO DIRE THAT IT WARRANTS DESTRUCTION AT OUR HANDS?”
“Several foes, actually: a coalition of various xeno species, all fighting on the same planet. There are forces of other legions present as well: we are to conduct…training operations…against them should we encounter them.”
“HAH, I REVEL AT THE CHANCE OF GIVING OUR COUSINS A PROPER LESSON IN WARFARE! ESPECIALLY IF WE RUN INTO RUSS OR MORTARION’S SONS, I ALWAYS ENJOY HOW JEALOUS THEY GET WHEN WE USE OUR GIFTS. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS PLANET, BROTHER SENOTH?”
“It is called Vigilus.”
“HMPH. NEVER HEARD OF IT. BUT IF THAT IS WHERE WE NEED TO BE, THEN ITS NAME DOESN’T MATTER. LEAD THE WAY, BROTHER SENOTH! FOR MAGNUS AND THE EMPEROR!”
“For Magnus…and for the legion, brother.”
For my third week in the local crusade league, I had a lot more units that I wanted to try out. I was fairly confident at this stage, with two wins under my belt, and I wanted to try some list variants that were a little more interesting than just ones that had me spamming mortal wounds all day (though I still wanted some of that wonderful mortal wound spam still in there).
For my list that day, I brought the following:
CULT OF TIME PATROL:
Akhenatu Senoth- Exalted Sorceror w. Disk of Tzeentch, inferno bolt pistol, Prosperine khopesh, force stave, Athenaean Scrolls, Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Weaver of Fates, Immaterial Echo, Thrallmaster, Flesh Sigils, Favoured By Fate
Sectae Zhamat- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon & Icon of Flame, Aspiring Sorceror w. Temporal Surge; Battle Hardened
Children of T’Char- 10 Tzaangor w. Tzaangor blades, brayhorn, herd banner
Apophis- Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought w. twin multi-melta, Hellforged Dreadnought chainfist w. plasma blaster, Hellforged cyclone missile launcher
Sectae Zhamat, with their new battle honour, would be invaluable for performing actions on objectives, and the Tzaangor had already proven semi-useful as cheap objective holders. The big experiment would be my Contemptor Dreadnought, Apophis. On the one hand, he was fairly expensive, weighing in at 8 power level and costing me a command point just to deploy. On the other hand, the fact that this was a power level game meant I could throw practically every expensive gun I could think of on him. As a change of pace, I also kitted him out for both melee and shooting, rather than just the popular pure shooting double volkite build. Partly, this was because having a dreadnought who could do melee was more interesting, and partly, it was because I had a 30k Osirion Dreadnought, and I wanted to use its fancy sword arm, damn it. I figured that the Contemptor chainfist, with its hefty AP of 4 and 2d3 damage, would fulfill the role quite nicely.
(Also, it should be worth noting that these games took place before the Armour of Contempt update. As with many things, I am playing catch-up with these batreps).
In the aftermath of our clash with the Aeldari, we once again found our journey to Hyperia mired by complication. The focusing crystals that we had used to activate the Silver Tower’s portal, regrettably, had burnt out and shattered from their most recent use, and restoring them would take a great deal of time and effort– far too much time for my liking. Fortunately, we still had other resources we could call upon, including a great number of vehicles from the years of the Crusade– a motor pool that we had carefully safeguarded even during the Legion Wars. Included among those vehicles was a fully functional Stormbird…as well as an old brother of ours.
I admit, I was loathe at first to rouse Apophis from his slumber: he had been interred in a Dreadnought sarcophagus long before Prospero’s fall, and I have seen what the devastation of our homeworld– and our legion’s subsequent exile to the Warp– has done to our ancient brother’s psyche. In his moments of wakefulness, his mind has always been transported to the years before the fall– back when we still had a home, when our father wasn’t a shattered parody of what he once was, when our legion served proudly in the Emperor’s armies, long before we had been forced to take up arms against everything we had once stood for. Whenever he is not lost in this comforting memory, his rage is a horrifying, violent thing to behold, and it takes great effort to restrain him. If anyone deserves a long rest, free from the burdens of our terrible reality, it is him, but unfortunately, given the number of foes arrayed against us, we would need his strength if we were to triumph at all. For whatever it is worth, he was quite happy to see me when we roused him, though he still remembers me as the young practicus that I was back then.
Once the Stormbird arrived from the Silver Tower in orbit, we departed at full speed for Hyperia. At this point in the war, the loyalist air power had been greatly diminished, and so we did not fear being intercepted and shot down upon our approach. All of our scrying told us that there were no longer any anti-air defences active on the path to the hivesprawl.
It is for this reason that we were all incredibly surprised when our Stormbird was hit by a flak missile just outside the hive.
We managed to arrest the Stormbird’s descent as best we could, but we still went crashing down in a slum on the outermost edge of the hive-continent. Thanks to Zhamat’s piloting expertise, we managed to crash with minimal casualties (with the exception of a few dozen of our new Tzaangor friends), and then managed to disembark from the stricken aircraft in short order. The moment we disembarked, however, we came under fire: pinpoint bolter rounds from long range started to pick off our Rubricae one by one. As I ordered everyone to seek cover, I reached with my mind’s eye to determine the nature of our attackers. What I saw were power-armoured shapes ghosting among the ruins ahead of us, clad in reflective teal armour emblazoned with the icon of a writhing, three-headed serpent.
We had been caught in an ambush, but our attackers were not loyalists: rather, we had just been betrayed by the Alpha Legion. How or why the Serpents had turned on us, I even now cannot say, but at the time, it mattered not to us: the Alpha Legion had chosen to stab us in the back, but they would find that we were not easily subdued prey.
For my first game of that day, I ended up facing off against Chase and his beautifully painted Alpha Legion. His list was as follows:
ALPHA LEGION PATROL
“Alpharius”- Sorceror w. Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator armour, Viper’s Bite, force axe, Prescience, Death Hex, Delightful Agonies, Headhunter, Master of Lore
5 Chaos Space Marines- Mark of Slaanesh, bolt pistols and chainswords, plasma gun, Champion w. plasma pistol & chainaxe
5 Chaos Space Marines- Mark of Slaanesh, boltguns, reaper chaincannon
2 Obliterators- Mark of Slaanesh, Auto-Loaders (x2), Veteran Warriors
As always, there may be some battle honours, etc, of his that I am forgetting about. All in all, though, Chase was going for a solid mix of minimum-sized Chaos Marine squads, backed up by a potent psyker, a pair of Obliterators, and a cheap Spawn to fill points and run disruption. Going into this battle, I was reasonably confident, however: while the Alpha Legion’s special rule would make them harder to hit, they would have no such defence against massed mortal wounds, and as the Chaos Space Marines were (unfortunately) still only one wound each, they would not be nearly as survivable as my own Rubric Marines. The only unit of Chase’s that i was actually worried about were his Obliterators, and I made it a priority to deal with them as early as possible.
For the scenario, we ended up rolling Supply Drop (again). Deployment was as follows:
For agendas, I once again took Pursuit of Knowledge; if I remember correctly, Chase went with Reaper for his own agenda.
Chase’s turn began with his Obliterators edging upwards so that they were just within line of sight of my Tzaangor. His Sorceror and Chaos Marines on the left flank edged into the ruins, while the ones on the right did the same. His Spawn, though, threw caution to the wind and advanced right up to the center of the board, positioning itself to threaten the Tzaangor next turn and/or be the closest target for Smiting.
Speaking of Smiting, Chase’s Sorceror attempted to cast Delightful Agonies on his Obliterators, and unfortunately I was unable to deny it, though I did manage to stop his follow up spell of Prescience. Even though they had been denied a BS boost, the Obliterators nonetheless unleashed their guns upon the only target they could see– namely, my poor Tzaangor, and were aided by the distance reaper chaincannon from the rightmost Chaos Marine squad. Between them, they mowed down seven of my poor birdbois, and after that two more scampered away, leaving one very nervous banner bearer remaining in the squad.
In my turn, I had some choices to make. The Tzaangor had been whittled down to just one very terrified mutant, but the rest of my forces were still intact; however, I had to decide now between focusing fire on those Obliterators, or dealing with the Spawn that was going to make a nuisance of itself. I decided on the former option: as the Tzaangor ran forwards to claim the central objective, Sectae Zhamat moved onto another objective as well and began to do the Pursuit of Knowledge action. On the left flank, Brother Apophis also stomped his way forward, though I was careful to keep him in reroll range of Senoth.
In the Psychic phase, Senoth cast Tzeentch’s Firestorm on the Obliterators, but only managed a couple of wounds on them. His follow up attempt at Smite was thwarted by the enemy mage, though at least he managed to put Weaver of Fates on Sectae Zhamat. In the shooting phase, Sectae Zhamat focused all of their fire on the distant Obliterators…and failed to accomplish anything, partially thanks to the Alpha Legion’s annoying modifiers to hit. Apophis, however, was quick to shot them how it was done, focusing all of his firepower on the Obliterators and melting the injured one, before blasting two wounds off of another. The Obliterators hadn’t been destroyed, but at least their firepower had just been severely reduced.
In Chase’s second turn, he began moving up more aggressively: his Obliterators and Spawn surged forward into the center of the board, as did his Sorceror and attendant unit of Chaos Space Marines, all of whom were staring down Sectae Zhamat intently for some shooting followed by a charge. His chaincannon-armed Chaos Marines also edged up to draw line of sight on Apophis.
In the psychic phase, I was able to stop Alpharius from casting Death Hex on Sectae Zhamat; however, I was unable to prevent him from casting Smite, freeming down one Rubric Marine. In the shooting phase, I braced myself for the obliteration to come: the leftmost Alpha Legion squad overcharged their plasma and fired into Sectae Zhamat, but thanks to a combination of All Is Dust, Weaver of Fates and Unwavering Phalanx, they took only 1 wound. Alpharius, meanwhile, tried to snipe down Senoth, but failed to get past his own invulnerable save as my own Sorceror casually stopped the shells in midair. Then, finally, the Obliterator turned its own guns on Brother Apophis, using Endless Cacophony to shoot twice. Together with the chaincannon-armed Chaos Marine squad, Apophis took a massive 6 wounds! My ability to fail saves was rearing its ugly head, and now my Contemptor was looking pretty shaky on his first outing.
And the the charges came in: the Spawn hurled itself into Apophis, while the Obliterator charged my lone Tzaangor on the objective. Finally, the leftmost Traitor squad hurled themselves into Sectae Zhamat alongside Alpharius: I might have overwatched here, but if that’s the case then Zhamat and his boys caused no damage.
In close combat, though, things went less awfully than expected: the Spawn flailed ineffectually at Apophis, and was unceremoniously splatted in return. The Tzaangor, predictably, was crushed by the Obliterator, but Alpharius’ force axe failed to get past Sectae Zhamat’s invulnerable save, and the chainswords of the Alpha Legionnaires only managed to get one wound past their armour thanks to All Is Dust, felling the wounded Rubric Marine. In exchange, the Rubric Marines bludgeoned down one Alpha Legionnaire, and the fight went on.
In my turn, I flew Senoth in behind the ongoing combat, ready to lend his magical support and to charge in to help if needed. I had a difficult choice to make with Apophis, however: I could send him to help out against the majority of the Alpha Legion forces on my right flank, or go to the left and deal with the lone Alpha Legion squad camping on an objective.
I decided on the latter, as I wanted to clear Chase’s traitors off the objectives if I was going to win this game. Looking back, though, I might have been better off sending Apophis in to help on the right flank, but that’s hindsight for you.
In the psychic phase, Senoth unleashed Tzeentch’s Firestorm upon Alpharius, which he failed to deny…but crucially, failed to roll the necessary 9+ to case it at full power, and ended up doing only 1 mortal wound to his Sorcerous rival. I used Malevolent Charge to do another 2 wounds to him, but that still didn’t leave him nearly as dead as I wanted. I decided to forgo casting Weaver of Fates in favour of Smiting Alpharius: once again, Alpharius failed to deny, and Senoth did the full 3 mortal wounds. The sorcerous duel ended with the Alpha Legion psyker unable to hold back the raw power of his rival, and he was obliterated where he stood!
Speaking of unlimited power, Sectae Zhamat then cast Smite, zapping down another of the Alpha Legionnaires they were fighting. In the shooting phase, Apophis then turned all of his guns onto the other Alpha Legion squad…and embarassingly, despite throwing melta and plasma blasts and frag missiles at them, only managed to down two of them. Even when they were at relatively close range, the Alpha Legion were infuriatingly hard to hit.
In the charge phase, Apophis charged the Chaos Marines, and made it in. Meanwhile, Senoth, deciding that that Obliterator really needed to be dealt with or at least held up, drew his khopesh and charged the Obliterator, which stood its ground and overwatched. It was then that I realized my folly, as Chase then proceeded to roll a bunch of 6s, which doubled thanks to the Obliterator’s battle honour. On overwatch, the Obliterator proceeded to do something like 6 wounds to Senoth at damage 2…of which Senoth failed 3, even with command rerolls and his one reroll from Favoured By Fate. I could only watch helplessly as my Exalted Sorceror was blasted off his disk as he came charging in!
In combat, things didn’t go much better, as Apophis continued to roll embarrassingly, only managing to kill two Alpha Legionnaires. Even more embarassingly, the unit champion then somehow managed to get two wounds past Apophis’ armour, leaving him on one wound remaining! Argh! In the other combat, though, Sectae Zhamat and the other Alpha Legionnaires continued to slap at each other ineffectually, but with Senoth gone and Apophis all the way on the other end of the battlefield, things were looking increasingly bleak for them.
In his turn, Chase had both of his Chaos Marine squads fall back from combat, with the last Traitor Legionnaire fighting Apophis retreating deep into the nearby ruins so it was still holding his objective. The Obliterator, no doubt quite satisfied with itself for zapping poor Senoth, stomped over toward Sectae Zhamat. And with that, we went right to the shooting: the Obliterator rolled well, and managed to blast two more Rubricae to atoms, leaving poor Zhamat on his own.
Not that that would last for long, as the Obliterator then charged Zhamat, and pulped him with its massive fists. And with that, I now had only one model remaining on the battlefield.
Brother Apophis moved after the last Chaos Space Marine, forgoing its shooting so that he could charge the blighter. Note that, in hindsight, I realize I could have still fired Apophis’ weapons across the field and maybe taken out the last Obliterator (his missile launcher at least would have been in range), but as this was late in the game, the thought did not occur to me at the time. In the charge phase, Apophis made it in, and summarily slashed down pulped the last Alpha Legionnaire from that squad.
And with that, I finally decided to forfeit. I had Apophis sitting on one objective, while I had no way of stopping Chase’s units from claiming multiple objectives (again, I had a massive brain fart and forgot that I would be able to shoot through terrain).
Thoughts: Well, that battle was a disappointment. Things were going so well until that Senoth got blasted off his disk on turn 2. Really, the main reason for my loss boils down to the fact that I got overconfident: I thought Senoth and my Rubricae could hold things down on the right flank without Apophis’ help, and similarly thought Senoth would be able to take any overwatch he received from the last Obliterator. Alas, I was wrong on both counts, and with Senoth dead and Apophis way out of position, it was relatively simple for Chase to roll up my remaining Rubric Marines.
In short, I made the cardinal sin of splitting my forces, and Chase was quick to capitalize. Credit should be given where it is due, and Chase was both a clever opponent and a fun guy to play against.
No sooner had the Alpha Legion attack begun, when the serpents withdrew again, melting back into the shadows just as suddenly as they had arrived. In the wake of their attack, they had left many of our Rubricae destroyed and our supporting Tzaangor, and with our Stormbird shot down, we were stranded in the ruined depths of the hivesprawl. What’s worse, persistent empyric interference meant we were unable to contact the Silver Tower by vox or by telepathy: for the time being, we were on our own.
I had been left badly injured in the wake of the battle: while Zhamat healed me with what limited artes of biomancy he knew, Apophis took stock of the situation, and came up plan to head southwards down towards Hivespire Magentine– a stronghold of the Ecclesiarchy that had been previously held by the Adepta Sororitas, though given that the forces of the Despoiler had already been through here, it was unknown who held the hivespire now. Apophis reasoned that not only would the shrines of Magentine hold some of the lore we were seeking, but would also vox beacons with which we might rouse the Silver Tower. Upon scrying southwards, we discovered that one such location– the Basilica of St. Elias the Unwavering– housed a large number of vox-towers, ostensibly used for hive-wide broadcasts, though they would still be useful for raising the Silver Tower in orbit.
After a few days of preparation, I was fully healed, and we struck south through the winding urban maze of the hive continent. Upon reaching Magentine, we found our way barred at first by several under strength, battle-weary platoons of Vigilant Guard. These mortals proved no match for our relentless discipline or our spellcraft, and soon their resistance melted before us. Within moments, the path towards the Basilica was clear.
That was, until pillars of golden light shone in our path, and then warriors in shining, gilded armour stepped forth…warriors whom I had not seen since that nigthmarish day on Tizca…
For my second game, I found myself against Jeremy, one of the store’s managers, and his Adeptus Custodes. Jeremy was running the following:
DREAD HOST PATROL
Bellator Caelum- Shield Captain w. Allarus Terminator armour, balistus grenade launcher, guardian spear, misericordia, Arae-Shrikes, All-Seeing Annihilator, Master of Martial Strategy, Victor of the Blood Games
Puella Dilectrix- Knight-Centura w. executioner greatblade, Enhanced Voidsheen Cloak, Oblivion Knight
Dankanatoi- 3 Custodian Guard w. guardians spears & misericordia
Santodes- Contemptor-Achilus Dreadnought w. 2 twin adrathic destructors, Achilus dreadspear, Eternal Penitent, Enhanced Engines
PRE-GAME STRATAGEMS: Victor of the Blood Games, From Golden Light
(Note that, as before, there may be some other battle honours here that I was forgetting about)
Obviously, an army as elite as the Custodes could not field a lot of models at 25 power level, and true to form, Jeremy had only six models in his force– though they happened to be six extremely durable models. In hindsight, I should be grateful that Jeremy chose to run the Dread Host rather than the Emperor’s Chosen shield host, otherwise I doubt my psychic attacks would have done much damage to his golden boys (and girl) at all.
For the scenario, we rolled Sweep and Clear, another scenario that would see our two forces battling over objectives.
Deployment looked like this, with me putting the Tzaangor on my home objective, and all my forces hugging cover where possible. Jeremy did the same thing, keeping his golden boys out of line of sight, and his Knight Centura holding an objective in a nearby building. He used the From Golden Light strategem to put his Contemptor into reserve as a late-game threat.
And with that, we rolled off, and I got the first turn!
Turn 1 began with all of my forces except the Tzaangor moving as far forward as possible, with Brother Apophis taking point around the corner of the building, and Senoth following behind. Sectae Zhamat didn’t quite roll well on their own advance roll, but in the psychic phase they did manage to cast Temporal Surge on themselves to put themselves on another objective. Senoth, for his part, put Weaver of Fates on Apophis, and then cast Echoes of the Warp to get a command point, and that was that: all of Jeremy’s forces were still out of line of sight, so there would be no zapping this turn.
Jeremy’s own turn was a simple affair: he kept his Knight Centura hiding in the building, and advanced his Shield Captain and Custodian Guard up far enough to take another objective. Unfortunately, while he could barely see Brother Apophis, he was also still out of range with his guardian spears, and so he passed over the turn.
In my turn, I had Brother Apophis move forward to get line of sight on the oncoming Custodes, while Senoth moved up so he was just behind the big guy, and Sectae Zhamat edged up so that their soulreaper cannon could also draw line of sight, before they then proceeded to do the Pursuit of Knowledge action. My plan really was to throw everything I could at the Custodian Guard and maybe, if I was lucky, take down a golden boy or two.
In the psychic phase, Senoth was out of range to mortal wound anything to death, and so settled with once again putting a 4++ on Apophis and regaining a command point with Echoes of the Warp. In the shooting phase, immediately, Jeremy used both Arcane Genetic Alchemy and The Emperor’s Auspice on his Custodian squad, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to wound them on anything better than a 4+, and that I wouldn’t be able to reroll any to hit or to wound rolls against them (note that this game was fought The Emperor’s Auspice was balanced to be once per game). He may have also regained a command point thanks to Master of Martial Strategy. Anyway, Sectae Zhamat did no damage at long range; Brother Apophis followed suit by unleashing a rain of melta blasts and missiles at the Custodians, and despite not having rerolls, he still managed to freem down 1 Custodian with a melta blast!
In Jeremy’s turn, he decided to move up and be aggressive, moving forward with his Custodians, Shield Captain. This was a costly move on Jeremy’s part, as it meant abandoning his objectives, but the last turn had made it abundantly clear that I would win the firepower duel unless he took the fight to me. And speaking of taking the fight to me…with a flash of golden light, the Contemptor-Achilus Santodes landed in the middle of my lines, situating itself roughly between Sectae Zhamat and the Tzaangor, and in position to charge either. Hoo boy.
In the shooting phase, the Custodes fired at long range at Apophis, but failed to do anything to the big guy. Santodes, meanwhile, had a lot of impressive firepower at his disposal, all of which was damage 3 and very scary…but Jeremy instead elected to forego shooting, as he wanted to make sure he got the charge on my Rubric Marines.
And get the charge he did! Driving into the Rubric Marines from behind (phrasing) Santodes flexed his oiled joints and thrust out with his Dreadspear (phrasing!), penetrating four of the dusty boys (phrasing!!!) Left on his own, Zhamat swung back with his force stave, but failed to penetrate Santodes’ glimmering auramite hull.
In my turn, I now had an enemy Contemptor rampaging through the back of my lines, and three very angry Custodes advancing from the front. Caught between a rock and a hard place, I decided to deal with one threat at a time: Zhamat fell back from combat, and Senoth flew behind cover so that he could target the enemy Contemptor without getting sniped down in turn by guardian spears. And finally, Apophis came advancing down the alleyway himself: ever since before the battle had begun, I was hyped for a possible Contemptor vs Contemptor fight, and now it looked like I was about to get my wish.
The air hummed with the vibration of disruption fields as the Custodian Dreadnought attacked. It moved with far more grace and agility than a machine of its boxy size had any right to, its crackling spear seeming to glide in its steel hands as it slashed and stabbed through the Rubric Marines. Each blow parted a helm or split a chestplate, causing a brief spark of escaping magical energy before the armour clattered emptily to the ground, dust clouding the air as it’s wearer’s ashen remains were spilled forth. Soon, Zhamat stood alone, hands raised as he threw up a kine shield between him and that descending spear. There was a deep thrum as disruption field met psychic barrier, the energized speartip starting to glow hot from the friction. Zhamat threw everything he could into the barrier, to stop the descent of that massive spear, but it was taking its toll on him. Blood filled his mouth under his helm, and his eye lenses began cracking as the sheer effort threatened to overwhelm him.
A white hot beam of energy came lancing in from the right: with perfect reflexes, the Custodian Dreadnought stepped back to avoid the shot, and spun towards the source of the attack, buying time for Zhamat to stagger away. From out of the smoke strode another Dreadnought, proudly emblazoned in the red of the old Thousand Sons legion, a crackling psychic lattice framing its head against a regal pharonic crest. Afficed to Affixed to its left gauntlet was a massive, golden curved blade that crackled with barely restrained psychic energies.
“Traitor,” boomed the Custodian Dreadnought, his voice a deep vibrant purr, as it stretched its blocky limbs out and raised its spear heavenward in a challenge, “behold your doom. Gaze upon my smooth auramite, my oiled joints, my well rounded chassis. I am Santodes of the Ten Thousand, and you are nothing before my magnificence.”
The Thousand Sons Dreadnought raised its own massive, curved blade attachment in response to this challenge. “I am Apophis,” he growled back, “I was in Tizca the day your kind came and took everything from us…and on this day, Custodian, I will have my revenge!”
And then, with a roar of hatred that was amplified a hundredfold by vox emitters, Apophis broke into a charge. Santodes immediately met this charge with one of his own, and for a brief moment, the battlefield shook to thunderous footfalls as these two titans stampeded towards one another.
Even as he charged, Apophis let fly with full arsenal of weaponry: missiles and plasma blasts exploded harmlessly against Santodes’ gilded armour plates or fizzed against his reactive shielding, but a twin discharge from Apophis’ multi-melta struck true, scoring across the side of Santodes’ massive chestplate and melting auramite to slag. Senoth joined in, flinging witchfire that raked the Dreadnought’s massive form and blackened the golden auramite. And yet, none of this was enough to even slow Santodes down.
And then, the two Dreadnoughts collided, Santodes’ dreadspear meeting Apophis’ massive khopesh thunderclap so mighty that the ground around them cracked and buckled from the shockwave. And then the two stepped back, and a titanic duel began in earnest.
For a brief moment, both the Thousand Sons and the Custodes paused in their clash to watch in awe as the two Dreadnoughts fought. Spear met khopesh again and again, each massive clash of their weapons sounding like a bell tolling for the end of days. The Custodian was faster, moving with a warrior’s grace that belied his blocky form, and it became quite apparent that Apophis, for all his fury, was the less skilled of the two. Little by little, Apophis was forced onto the defensive, his titanic legs taking one step back, then another, as Santodes started to get the better of him.
And then, with a flash of gold, Apophis’ blade was suddenl batted aside, so hard that the attachment was nearly torn from the Dreadnought’s hull. Santodes’ spear twirled above its head, his wrist rotating so that the weapon spun like an ornithopter blade, before bringing the spear down blade-first for a killing strike…
….only for the gilded blade to stop mere inches from Apophis’ faceplate. There was a terrible groan of metal on metal as the servos in Santodes’ arm fought against some unseen force. Glancing to the left, Apophis saw Senoth, hovering nearby on his disk, both arms quivering as they were extended outwards towards Santodes.
“Now, brother!” Senoth croaked, immense strain evident in his voice.
Apophis did not need to be told twice. His khopesh lashed out, cleaving into the auramite of his rival Dreadnought’s abdomen. There was a tremendous scrape of parting metal, a rupture of sparks, and a sound of stabilizers giving out in a terrible mechanical growl, and then the great khopesh exited to the side in a welter of sparks and smoke.
With a dull crash, Santodes’ upper half crashed to the ground, bisected cleanly by Apophis’ blow.
In the psychic phase, Senoth managed to put Weaver of Fates on Apophis, before giving Santodes a double helping of Firestorm and Smite, dropping perhaps 3-4 wounds from the big guy. In the shooting phase, Apophis followed up by unloading all of his guns onto Santodes, and after all saves, the enemy Contemptor was brought down to 4 wounds remaining.
And then Apophis came charging in: hitting a number of times, Apophis managed to get three chainfist blows past Santodes’ save, which meant that the enemy Contemptor had just taken 15(!!!) unsaved wounds! Both Jeremy and I were speechless as Santodes was removed, horrendously overkilled by Apophis’ oversized blade. GO APOPHIS!
With his options running out, Jeremy decided to advanced up further with his forces, with his Shield Captain and two remaining Custodian Guard moving up to confront the angry metal mauler that was Apophis, while the Knight Centura also advanced through the ruins, abandoning the objective she had been sitting on to get within anti-psychic range of my units.
In the shooting phase, Bellator Caelum and his last two brothers unleashed all of their considerable firepower into Apophis…and at that point, my dice promptly abandoned me, as I proceeded to fail almost all of my invulnerable saves, with Apophis taking some 4 or 5 wounds! Even as the Dreadnought reeled, the three Cusodians came charging in.
Caelum swung first, and used the Slayer of Nightmares stratagem to get +1 wound wound, his golden spear stabbing deeply through Apophis’ armoured sarcophagus and leaving him on 2 wounds remaining. At that point, I spent 2 command points to interrupt, having Apophis swing back into the Custodian Guard. Although Apophis got plenty of hits in, Jeremy again used Arcane Genetic Alchemy, and his invulnerable saves were quite strong: even so, one Custodian fell, messily sheared in half by Apophis’ great blade. His sole remaining brother, though, got some revenge, and managed to deal another wound to Apophis…before he then swung out with his misericordia, stabbing the dagger right through Apophis’ vision slit and taking his last wound, felling him! In death though, Apophis obligingly exploded…though it was at this point that I learned that the Contemptor only does a paltry 1 mortal wound to any units in range when he explodes, so Caelum and his last buddy got away with a minor burn each.
At this point, things were getting a little desperate, as I now had two angry Custodians sitting in front of my lines and Knight-Centura waiting to back them up. However, I was also winning on points at this stage, and I figured that as long as I stayed focused on the objectives, I’d still be able to come out with a win. With this in mind, I flew Senoth upwards, ready to make a charge into the Knight-Centura if needed: my plan, at the time, was to hopefully charge and kill her, and then later on have Senoth fly onto the Custodes’ home objective to score some Arcane points.
Or at least, that was the plan at the time…until an evil thought entered my head saying “You know what else will net you Arcane points? Killing that Shield-Captain.” Looking back, I’m pretty sure that was Tzeentch sowing the seeds of my downfall, as usual.
In the psychic phase, Sectae Zhamat used Time Flux to resurrect one of their number (specifically the one with the soulreaper cannon). And then, Senoth unleashed Firestorm and Smite in quick succession, bolstering the damage from Firestorm with Malevolent Charge. After all was said and done, Senoth had managed to zap 5 wounds off of Caelum, and then Sectae Zhamat fired their soulreaper cannon, doing 1 more wound and leaving Caelum on one wound remaining!
At that point, I threw my original plan out the window, as I wanted Caelum dead. And so Senoth charged in, and a clash of the warlords commenced. Slashing out with his khopesh, Senoth managed to do 3 wounds…only for Caelum to save every. Single. One. It was then that Jeremy reminded me that Caelum had the Arae Shrikes, a unique Custodes crusade relic that turns off enemy invulnerable saves: I could only watch in horror as Caelum swung back and did 3 unsaved wounds, which translated to 6…just enough to hack Senoth down from his Disk! In yet another grand moment of hubris, I had lost my Exalted, and quite possibly the game.
At this point, though, the store was closing, and both Jeremy and I had to pack up. We both looked at the points, and at where our two armies were at in the game, and we both agreed that, at the rate things were going, the Custodes would probably wipe me out before long; however, I was already in a substantial lead in victory points, and even if he wiped me out, he would have to try hard to overcome my point lead. In the end, we both agreed that while I probably would be wiped out in the end, it would probably not be enough to prevent me from winning on points.
(For what it was earth, later on I rolled to see what would most likely happen in the game. Unsurprisingly, Zhamat got pasted by the last Custodian, and in the last turn Caelum managed a long charge into the Tzaangor, managing to kill a few and still survive on his last wound. Unfortunately, it was not enough to shift them off of the objective, and ultimately I ended up winning, 90 points to 60.
RESULT: (PYRRHIC) THOUSAND SONS VICTORY!
Thoughts: Ouch! At the time of this battle, Custodes were one of the top dogs on the tournament scene, and I can now see why: despite their low numbers, it took an incredible amount of effort to even kill one of them, and when they finally reached melee, their relatively few models absolutely wrecked whatever they fought. The fact that I barely managed to eke out a victory is impressive, though that is largely because Jeremy was forced to abandon his objectives in order to come towards me. In the end, despite some incredibly bad decisions, I narrowly won. Had I stuck to my original plan and sent Senoth after the Knight Centura, he most likely would have killed her, and would have been in a position where he could fly onto the Custodes objective next turn, and/or pelt the Custodes with spells from a far. Oh well, that’s hindsight for you.
I will say that, in both of these games, Apophis was an absolute all star. He was all but unstoppable in the first game against the Alpha Legion, and in the second game he utterly bodies a Custodes Contemptor on the charge– granted I had softened him up with spells a lot first, but Apophis did enough damage that he would have killed that Dreadnought in one go regardless. Flat damage 6 against vehicles is just nuts!
In the aftermath of this game, Apophis gained the Elite Crew battle honour so that he could reroll 1s even if he was out of range of Senoth, while Sectae Zhamat earned enough points from repeated Pursuit of Knowledge to level up again. At the time, I upgraded their soulreaper cannon to become damage 2 and gain exploding 6s, but it wasn’t until two weeks later that I realized that weapon upgrades must go on the squad leader first. As such, I was forced to change this battle honour over to Veteran Warriors, allowing these Rubricae to also reroll 1s reliably.
With these upgrades done, I was ready for next week, where the games would go up to 50 power level. I was looking forward to this, admittedly, as this would finally give me the chance to field my entire roster in all of their spellcasting glory. Stayed tune, readers!
The battle before the cathedral was fierce and bloody. The Custodians fought just as I remembered them, back when they aided the Wolves on Prospero, and again when they faced us on Terra: swift, relentless, and unremittingly deadly. Even with our arcane artes, their armour seemed all but impervious to harm, and the moment they closed ranks with us, their prodigious skill at arms began to tell, and our Rubricae began to fall. For a brief moment, Brother Apophis managed to throw them back: his memories of Tizca came flooding back at that moment, and his fury would not be denied as he felled an enemy Contemptor and then began to rampage through the Custodes’ ranks. Alas, this moment would not last, and Apophis was finally laid low, his hull pierced a dozen times by auramite spears before a golden dagger finally felled him.
As the battle went on, I myself was pinned to a ruined wall by the guardian spear of the enemy leader, and was left hanging there, bleeding out. Even as the battle turned against us, though, the Tzaangor– the mutant cultists who I had thought so little of– completed their task of reactivating one of the vox-hailers of the cathedral. Where our arcane artes had failed, a bit of basic rewiring had succeeded, a bitter irony that was not lost on me. A second later, magical energy flared as more of our forces began to enter the fray, reinforcing us at the last minute. Suddenly finding themselves outnumbered, the Custodes vanished at that moment, disappearing in golden light as suddenly as they had come.
I do not know why the Custodes– the False Emperor’s own praetorians– were so intent on guarding that basilica: we shall soon find the answers as we go through its contents. Though we have taken grievous losses in our journey, and endured mighty hardships, we are now in the center of Hyperia Hivesprawl, the very heart of Vigilus…and at the very center of the war that wracks this planet. I know, with a dread certainty, that the worst hardships are yet to come…