Vigilus was a world of ruin. Its hive-continents smouldered in mountainous bonfires, its skies were blotted out in thick seas of smoke, its streets had disappeared under cloying landslides of debris and corpses. Its industrial centers had been shattered beyond repair, its defences had been pulverized to dust, and its centers of governance had become sites of dripping red slaughter. The casualties now numbered in the the billions, and those citizens who had not been touched by the Warp, by Genestealer taint or by madness would be dead very soon. The Imperium’s losses on this world were staggering, apocalyptic, irreplaceable.
And yet, the forces of Chaos were retreating.
The news had spread quickly: fresh Imperial reinforcements had arrived, and were now turning the tide against the armies of Chaos in key warzones. With the unexpected absence of the Despoiler, the legions that he had rallied to his banner were now falling into disarray, and those with common sense were now retreating from Vigilus while they still could. It all reminded Senoth all too well of the Siege of Terra: there, victory had also been in their grasp, only for them to lose at the last moment thanks to the failings of a weak and vainglorious leader. And, Senoth realized, he had allowed history to repeat itself by answering Abaddon’s summons in the first place.
“The extraction point should be at least forty clicks ahead, Magister” Hasturos’ voice spoke into his head, his subordinate relying on telepathy rather than vox-hails: recent fighting against both Imperial and Genestealer forces had left him with a badly mangled jaw that would take copious amounts of biomancy to heal. “At our current rate, we should be able to reach there before the Imperials overtake us.”
Senoth nodded wordlessly in response to Hasturos. Around him, the Rubricae of the thrallband were advancing down a ruined colonnade of what had once been a hab district. Despite being damaged, discoloured, and in some instances missing limbs from the constant warfare, his Rubric-cursed brothers all maintained their relentless, unified stride, ghostly light playing from their ocular visors as they marched. Unlike any of the other forces in this conflict, the cursed brothers of the Thousand Sons had not tired from the unceasing battle, had not allowed fatigue or dismay to slow them, had continued to fight on despite gradual battle damage. One of the few benefits of not having a body, Senoth thought bitterly–
His sixth senses warned him of the peril long before his mundane ones did, a tremendous ripple in the Great Ocean that hit him like a breaker-wave and nearly bowled him over. It was a premonition, he knew, a temporally dislocated echo of an event yet to come. In less than a second, he relayed the sensation telepathically to his brothers; an instant later, the marching column of the Thousand Sons stopped, and began to stride towards the nearest cover, raising their weapons in readiness for whatever foe lay before them.
The foe’s arrival was heralded by the sound of thunder, of deep, thudding reverberations that shook the ground. The air tingled with static, and Senoth saw multihued lightning start to crackle around them as the veil between realities became thin. The atmosphere slowly condensed into a thick, brown mist, water vapor mixing with dust and ash. Closing his eyes, Senoth cast his mind forwards, through the swirling clouds of ash, to see what manner of force was approaching them. There: only a few kilometres away from them, a trio of massive, vaguely humanoid shapes could be seen, hunched and moving with a loping, almost predatory gait. Something about them seemed to attract the Great Ocean towards them like a lunar current, lesser warp-entities shoaling around them like nibbler-fish around a great whale, causing a minor warp storm to flare up around them even as they advanced. It hurt to scry at them for as long as he did, but Senoth nonetheless managed to get close enough to get a good look at the hulls of these titanic walkers: a deep, regal purple, edged with silver, with heraldry depicting a twisting serpent that spat venom.
He pulled his consciousness back into his body and opened his eyes. He recognized the colours and insignia of these vast shapes almost immediately. Beneath his helm, what features of his remained unmutated twisted into a grimace when he realized who was attacking them.
“House Demihydratus,” came the voice of Medea, who had also scryed the oncoming Knights. “What are they doing here? I thought they were retreating back to their landers, like everyone else?”
“Evidently not,” Senoth breathed. “It seems they still have a score to settle with us.”
Even as Senoth spoke, the lead Chaos Knight broke through the mist and levelled one of its titanic guns at the Thousand Sons: there was a colossal boom, and a shell screamed overhead, shattering one of the empty hab-blocks to the side of the avenue. That had not been an attack, Senoth knew, merely an announcement of intent. Senoth knew that the next shot would not miss.
At Senoth’s mental command, the thrallband immediately moved into action, preparing to return the Knights’ aggression in kind. Even before battle broke out in earnest, Senoth found himself thinking, with irritation, of the absurdity of the situation: here they were trying to escape this planet and avoid retribution from the Imperials, and they were now being attacked by Knights from their own side. The perfect capstone, he thought, to an utterly absurd war.
And then, with the crackling of spellfire, the chatter of ensorcelled boltguns and the roar of heavy weapons, the battle began in earnest…
For one of the second last games of the Crusade, I found myself up against Rose and her Chaos Knights again. This time, however, Rose was fielding the (at the time) brand spanking new Chaos Knights codex, with a whole slew of new tricks, stratagems and special abilities to throw at me. As I had not yet had an opportunity to face the new Chaos Knights, I was apprehensive to say the least…but more importantly, I was eager to settle the score between us after my first near-loss against House Demihydratus.
For the battle, I was running the following:
CULT OF TIME BATTALION
Senoth- Exalted Sorceror w. Disc of Tzeentch, Prosperine khopesh, Athenaean Scrolls, Artificer Bionics, Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Weaver of Fates, Gaze of Hate, Visions of Doom, Immaterial Echo, Rehati, Thrallmaster, Master of Lore, Warp Strider, Flesh Sigils, Favoured By Fate
Ktesis- Infernal Master w. Umbralific Crystal, Laurels of Victory, Malefic Maelstrom, Glimpse of Eternity, Glamour of Tzeentch, Tactical Experience
Aenigma- Daemon Prince w. wings, hellforged sword, Conniving Plate, Swelled By The Warp, Twist of Fate, Undying Form, Apex Predator
Sectae Zhamat- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Temporal Surge, Battle Tested, Veteran Warriors
Sectae Hasturos- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Doombolt, Battle Tested, Veteran Warriors
Sectae Medea- 5 Rubric Marines w. 4 warpflamers, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Incandaeum, Pyric Flux, Psychic Might, Battle Tested
Children of T’Char- 10 Tzaangor w. Tzaangor blades, brayhorn & herd banner
Sectae Abydos- 10 Scarab Occult Terminators- w. 2 soulreaper cannons, 2 helfyre missile racks, Sorceror w. Presage; Grizzled, Battle Tested
Apophis- Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought w. multi-melta, chainfist, plasma blaster, cyclone missile launcher, Elite Crew, Improved Shielding
The Forgotten- Chaos Spawn, Fleet of Foot
The Forsaken- Chaos Spawn, Fleet of Foot
(Yes, that is a Mindstealer Sphiranx I’m using as a Daemon Prince. Yes, it’s supposed to have a Hellforged sword. Yes, I had it modeled (it was sticking out of the rock it’s standing on). Yes, it broke off.)
This game actually took place long after my game against the Harlequins: in the intervening time, I had played games against Blood Angels, Orks and Tyranids, with one win and two draws, respectively. While all fun games in their own right, however, in all three games the store had ended up closing before we could reach the end, much to the frustration of myself and my opponents. I was hoping that this game would go on longer; at the very least, by this point I had gained quite a few nice Crusade upgrades.
By this point in the campaign, I had gained enough Arcane points to acquire the much-coveted Visions of Doom power for Senoth, allowing all core units within 6″ to reroll wounds against a targeted enemy– an extremely powerful ability, especially for the Thousand Sons and their powerful guns. Beyond that, I had added a Daemon Prince, Aenigma, to my roster, and had kitted her out to be both highly powerful in close combat and also highly resilient (especially with the Conniving Plates halving enemy attacks against her). Beyond that, by this point all of my Rubric Marine squads and Terminators had gained the Battle Tested honour so they could perform actions and still shoot, my Spawn had gotten a movement increase with Fleet of Foot, and my Terminators in particular had been bulked up to a big unit of 10.
Rose, meanwhile, was bringing the following:
HOUSE HERPETRAX SUPER-HEAVY DETACHMENT
Lady Parsimony- Knight Despoiler w. 2 Despoiler gatling cannons, Diabolus heavy stubber, Ruinspear rocket launcher, Crown of Jedathra, Icon of Damnation, Infernal Quest, Mark of the Dread Knight, Favoured Knight, Living Hull
Lady Verbosa- Knight Abominant w. Twisted Mask, Coruscating Hate, Cyclonic Lamentation, Winds of the Warp, Vortex Terrors, Warp-Haunted Hull, Pyrothrone
Lord Vacuous- Knight Rampager w. Gauntlet of Ascension, Diabolus heavy stubber, Knight Diabolus, Blood Shield, Elite Crew, Enhanced Engines
On the one hand, Rose was not bringing the swarm of War Dogs that I had often seen in so many Chaos Knight lists (a fact for which I was most grateful), but the three big Knights she was bringing were all quite scary in their own right. Parsimony, in particular, looked like she could easily shred one or two Rubric Squads in a single round of shooting, and with her unique gifts and relics, she would be extremely hard to kill. The Knight Rampager would also be an extremely scary threat in melee, but the big wild card would be the Knight Abominant: I would actually have an enemy psyker to deal with, and one that could cast three mortal wound-dealing spells a turn at that. Clearly, I was going to have my work cut out for me.
SCENARIO AND DEPLOYMENT
For the scenario, we rolled Cut Off The Head, with the Thousand Sons as the attacker. Essentially, I would have to get each of my characters onto an objective and perform an action in order to win. That sounded nice and relatively simple…well, if it weren’t for the face
The Knights of House Demihydratus deployed in a tight cluster. Note the Knight Abominant, busy torturing a poor Lamenter.
Meanwhile, my characters all deployed behind a line of Scarab Occult Terminators, who were in turn screened by the
expendable glorious Tzaangor. The Rubric Marines deployed in their wake, and Apophis and a Chaos Spawn took up the right flank, ready to hopefully counter charge any aggressive moves by the Knights on that flank.
For Agendas, I took Pursuit of Knowledge (as usual) and Titan Hunter (surprise surprise). Rose, for her part, took Witch Hunter (surprise surprise) and Extermination.
Rose and I rolled off for first turn, and Rose won. And with the blaring of war-horns, the Chaos Knights surged into battle.
At the start of the first turn, the Knights of House Demihydratus began with a general advance; Lord Vacuous advanced aggressively down the right flank, whilst Ladies Parsimony and Verbosa moved a little toward the left, their Knights stalking the ruins to claim some cover.
In the psychic phase, the warp storm surrounded the area crackled with fell energies as Verbosa flexed her psychic might. Terrible warp-lightning was unleashed as Verbosa Smote down two Tzaangor, before casting Winds of the Warp upon herself, granting her Abominant a 5+ feel no pain save. . The rest of her spells, thankfully, were dispelled by the collective might of the Thousand Sons, but already, the Abominant was proving to be a strong contender in the psychic phase.
And then the shooting began; loading her volkite combuster with Sorcerous Ammunition and levelling it at the Scarab Occult Terminators, Verbosa fired, melting down two of the ancient warriors and leaving another on just one wound remaining– only a lucky 6+ shrug thanks to their Grizzled battle trait had kept him alive! Less than impressed by her fellow noblewoman’s shooting, Parsimony decided to show her how it was done: while her missile launcher exploded harmlessly against the Terminators, her Despoiler gatling cannons quickly churned the Tzaangor screening them into a fine blue mist. As the volley subsided, only one shocked Tzaangor banner-bearer remained standing amidst the shredded remnants of his brethren. Whether out of unshakeable faith in the Changer’s plan or fear of his masters’ wrath, however, the avian mutant refused to run.
In response to the Chaos Knights’ aggression, the Thousand Sons’ turn began with a general advance (after, that was, Ktesis blessed the Terminators with Malefic Maelstrom), moving one of the Spawn and Apophis up the left flank from behind their cover; I was careful to place the Spawn in front of Apophis to act as a screen against any first-turn charge. In the center, the Terminators marched forward, with all of my characters huddling behind them; in their wake moved Sectae Medea and Hasturos, while Sectae Zhamat huddled in the ruins further behind them, just in case I needed to teleport a squad elsewhere. Finally, the other Spawn moved up my left flank, along with the last Tzaangor, going onto distraction and/or screening duty.
My plan, at the time at least, was to make a slow and steady advance up onto the central objective with my Terminators so that one of my characters (preferably Ktesis) could retrieve the intel from it, and then later in the game use the Umbraleific Crystal to teleport one of my Rubric squads onto one of the further table quarters to complete my agendas. From there, I would try to split off with my characters and hopefully perform actions on further objectives. A fine plan in theory, at least, provided that my Terminators didn’t end up with an angry Khornate Rampager in their faces….
In the psychic phase, I found that I was still woefully out of range with most of my zappy spells, much to my chagrin. I used the Imbued Manifestation ritual to extend the range of Tzeentch’s Firestorm from Senoth, and managed to tickle a few wounds off of Vacuous. Beyond this, Senoth also managed to cast Weaver on Apophis and resurrect one of the fallen Terminators with Time Flux. Ktesis, for his part, failed to cast Glamour on the Terminators, though the Termies at least cast Presage on themselves. And finally, something else in my army, I can’t remember what, cast Echoes of the Warp to give me back a command point.
Shooting, though, was what I had really been anticipating: I used both the Infernal Fusillade and Wrath of the Wronged stratagems on the Terminators (for a full 3 command points), and declared Vacuous to be the sole target of their shooting. In an instant, the Knight Rampager was sent staggering as a rainfall of sorcerous ammunition and missiles tore through its hull. At the end of it all, however, Vacuous remained standing on just 2 wounds remaining, his Knight a battered, smoking but still-standing wreck. Apophis tried to finish him off with a volley of melta blasts and missiles, but Rose chose that moment to make all of her invulnerable saves, and Vacuous remained standing, very much alive and very angry. Uh oh…
How it looked at the end of the turn. My forces were slowly inching towards the objectives, but also bracing themselves for the Knight assault.
In Rose’s turn, the now horrendously injured Vacuous forwards as quickly as his damaged legs would allow, getting quite close to Apophis and his screening Spawn. Parsimony and Verbosa, meanwhile, moved a little further down the left, continuing to stay in cover as they tried to maintain a wide arc of fire. And….that was it, really. Again, the average Knight turn was proving to be enviously quick.
In the psychic phase, Verbosa again unleashed her prodigous power, Smiting down the last Tzaangor and casting Winds of the Warp upon herself. Thankfully, however, my assembled Sorcerors managed to once again deny Vortex Terrors and Coruscating Hate. In the shooting phase, however, the Knights once again delivered pain aplenty: Verbosa once again loaded her volkite combustor with Sorcerous Ammunition, and then she and Parsimony unleashed hell: between the two of them, though, only one Terminator went down under the storm of volkite and gatling fire, and another took a wound, although both Spawn were instantly perforated. All things considered, though, the damage to my Terminators would have been much, much worse had it not been for the wonderful combo of Armour of Contempt and All Is Dust– Rose was in fact getting quite frustrated at how good my armour saves were.
In the charge phase, though, Vacuous, eager for a rematch, charged right into Apophis now that there wasn’t any pesky Spawn in the way. Apophis tried to overwatch Vacuous’ last few wounds off, but all of his shots bounced off, and then an angry giant robot the size of an apartment building slammed into him. At this point Vacuous activated his Blood Shield, deactivating his own invulnerable save and, more importantly, disabling Apophis’ 4+ invulnerable. Even in his damaged state, Vacuous unleashed a horrific number of attacks with rerolls, and proceeded utterly flatten poor Apophis. My poor Dreadnought’s pain didn’t end there, however, as Vacuous then used the Macabre Projectiles stratagem to pick Apophis up and throw him at the nearby Terminators, doing 2 wounds to one of them with the impact!
At this point in the game, I was taking a lot of damage from enemy shooting, and had a very scary Rampager practically on my doorstep; all the same, I needed to focus on grabbing objectives. With this in mind, after once again casting Malefic Maelstrom on the Terminators, I moved them up towards the central objective, with Senoth and Ktesis following close behind. Sectae Medea moved towards Vacuous to hopefully remove his last few wounds, while Sectae Zhamat and Hasturos moved up to provided psychic and fire support to the Terminators. Last and definitely not least, Aenigma flew up right in front of Parsimony, eager to tear open this giant walking tin can to get at the tasty morsels within.
In the psychic phase, Senoth unleashed Tzeentch’s Firestorm upon Parsimony…but only managed to sneak a few mortal wounds past her 5+ feel no pain. He then failed to cast Visions of Doom, but did at least manage to resurrect a Terminator with Time Flux. Ktesis then managed to cast Glamour of Tzeentch upon the Terminators, and Sectae Medea cast a Smite upon Vacuous, managing to take both of the Knight’s remaining wounds, felling the big guy at last!
And then he blew up.
Rose had chosen that moment to use the Spiteful Demise, causing Vacuous to explode right in the middile of my army. I could only watch in horror as two of Sectae Medea were annihilated and another was wounded, along with two each of Sectae Zhamat and Sectae Hasturos, and another Terminator. Senoth himself took two wounds…and worst of all, Ktesis was completely vapourized! Just as in the last game, my poor Infernal Master had gotten himself killed before he could even use his Umbralific Crystal.
In the rest of my psychic phase, Sectae Zhamat cast Temporal Surge to move the Terminators up further, the Termies cast Presage on themselves, and Sectae Hasturos, with nothing in range to zap, settled for casting Echoes of the Warp to regain a command point. Finally, Aenigma cast Swelled by the Warp, retroactively un-skipping leg day, before casting Twist of Fate to turn off Parsimony’s invulnerable save.
In the shooting phase, all of my shooting went into Parsimony (I might have once again used Wrath of the Wronged on the Terminators, I can’t remember). Once again, I barraged one of Rose’s Knights with a deluge of firepower, and once again managed to blast a massive chunk of wounds of it…although this was mitigated significantly by the 5+ feel no pain from Mark of the Dread Knight.
Finally, in close combat, Aenigma charged into Parsimony, who greeted her in overwatch with both guns blazing, dealing two wounds to my hellish daemon-cat. Unperturbed, Aenigma made the charge and began to use her telekinetically-held blade to slash massive chunks out of the Knight, dealing six wounds to Parsimony. Stunned that this little thing was hurting it, Parsimony tried to step on Aenigma in return, but thanks to the Conniving Plate halving her attacks, Parsimony failed to inflict any damage.
In Rose’s turn, she was getting somewhat worried about the sheer amount of damage Parsimony had taken, and used her special crusade relic, the Icon of Damnation, to regain some wounds on the flagging Knight. Lady Verbosa, meanwhile, moved up right next to Parsimony, ready to charge in to help her assuming she could squeeze through the gap in the nearby ruined inn (spoiler, she couldn’t), while still presenting a scary threat for my Thousand Sons.
In the psychic phase, Verbosa again unleashed a barrage of psychic powers against my army. While I managed to dispel Smite, she still managed to cast Winds of the Warp on herself, and managed to cast Coruscating Hate upon the Scarab Occult Terminators, narrowly managing to bring down one. I thankfully managed to deny the rest of Verbosa’s spells, but in the shooting phase, Verbosa once again used Sorcerous Ammunition, and proceeded to vaporize two more of my Scarab Occult Termies! Partly, if I remember correctly, Rose was just rolling a lot of mortal wounds, and partly I think my armour saves were starting to fail me, even with all of the amazing stacking buffs of Armour of Contempt and All is Dust.
Elsewhere in the shooting phase, Parsimony focused all of her considerable fire at point-blank range into Aenigma., blazing away with both gatling cannons and a generous helping of Ruinspear missiles to boot. When the dust cleared, however, Aenigma, like some villain out of Dragonball Z, was still standing, having absolutely no wounds form the hellish barrage! A combination of Armour of Contempt, and the damaged Parsimony being at -1 to hit when shooting into melee, meant that my damnable Chaos cat had emerged unscathed and unamused. In the ensuing melee round, Aenigma again tore quite a few wounds out of Parsimony, while Parsimony couldn’t do any damage back thanks to a combination of the Conniving Plate, Armour of Contempt and really good saves.
In my turn, I was finally in range to grab the center-most objective, and I had no intention of squandering this chance. I advanced Senoth up towards the central objective, while the Terminators lumbered after him to try to provide a nice screen. All of my assembled Rubric Marines followed close behind, ready to lend magical and fire support for Senoth as he tried to finally score some points. At the end of the phase, Senoth performed the Transmit Intel action, which meant that he would not be providing any crucial spellcasting this round.
In the psychic phase, Zhamat cast Temporal Surge upon the Terminators, edging them up a little further to screen Senoth. The Scarabs then cast Time Flux on themselves, bringing back one of their fallen number, while Zhamat and Medea cast Doombolt and Smite, respectively, into Parsimony, doing quite a few mortal wounds to her after her 5+ feel no pain saves. Aenigma, crucially, failed to cast Swelled By The Warp upon herself, but still managed to turn off Verbosa’s invulnerable save with Twist of Fate.
In the shooting phase, I then poured as much firepower as possible into Verbosa. After all was said and done, I had inflicted a significant number of wounds on the Abominant, but not enough to bracket it at all, which meant that it was still going to be a significant threat in all phases of the game.
Finally, in close combat, the one-sided battle between Aenigma and Parsimony continued, with Aenigma continuing to mockingly dodge the Knight’s stomping feet while spitefully swiping at in in return, dealing horrendous damage. At the end of the combat round, Parsimony was left on 8 wounds remaining, and Rose was in disbelief at how seemingly unstoppable my Chaos cat was.
In the Chaos Knights’ turn, Parsimony finally exercised common sense and fell back out of combat with Aenigma; eager to show up her fellow heretical noblewoman, Lady Verbosa stomped forrward to engage the Daemon Prince in Parsimony’s stead. Even as they did so, both Knights swivelled their guns around to bring as much firepower to bear on the seemingly indomitable Scarab Occult Terminators as possible.
In the psychic phase, Verbosa, crucially, failed to cast Winds of the Warp upon herself. Or maybe I denied it, I can’t remember; either way, the Knight Abominant was denied her 5+ Feel No Pain this turn, leaving her slightly more vulnerable. She similarly failed to Smite Aenigma; however, the warp was on her side as she then cast Coruscating Hate upon the Terminators, managing to fell one! And then, in the shooting phase, practically all of the Knights’ firepower rained down upon the Terminators. It was at that moment that ficke fate seemingly abandoned the Thousand Sons, as three Terminators were felled, vaporized by the unearthly enegies of Verbosa’s volkite combustor!
Even as Abydos, the Scarab Occult Sorceror, stood firm, Parsimony levelled her gatling cannons upon him, shredding him in a storm of high-calibre rounds! (My saves, at this point, were absolutely abysmal, and I lost the Terminators in one round of shooting)
And then, energizing her electroscourge, Verbosa charged into Aenigma…only for the nimble daemon to casually dodge most of her lumbering blows. Like Parsimony, Verbosa found her attacks halved by the Conniving Plate, and despite swinging with both her electroscourge and balemace, managed to land no telling blows upon the Daemon! In turn, Aenigma carved into Verbosa’s Knight Abominant, dealing severe damange to the titanic walker, and the fight continued.
In my turn, things were starting to look fairly dicey: so far, Senoth had successfully performed Transmit Intel on one of the objectives, and he just needed to perform it twice more to maximize on points: unfortunately, there was nowhere he could go without Parsimony potentially being able to draw line of sight to him and gun him down. At the time, I decided I was better off trying to help Aenigma againt Verbosa, and so that was what I committed to. Almost all of my Rubric Marine squads moved up into psychic range of the Abominant, with Senoth flying behind them to stay nicely screened.
In the psychic phase, all of my units poured as many psychic attacks as possible into Verbosa, with various Smites, Doombolt, and Tzeentch’s Firestorm all shaving wounds off of the big walker, while Aenigma cast Swelled By The Warp on herself again for good measure. Even as Verbosa staggered under the psychic barrage, the hull of her knight being relentlessly peeled back by the psychic barrage, the Rubricae all turned their guns upon Parsimony; at this range, however, the psychically infused bolter rounds failed to do more than scratch the hull of the Despoiler.
With her Abominant now badly damaged, Verbosa again tried to swing at Aenigma; again, thanks to the daemon’s warp-borne trickery, Verbosa’s titanic weapons failed to land a telling blow, the few that did land simply scraping off of Aenigma’s warp-forged armour. Sensing that its prey was weak, Aenigma slashed out with its hellforged blade, cutting off one of the Abominant’s legs at the knee before pouncing, toppling the titanic walker onto its back with an immense crash. Using its claws now, it savagely tore into the knight’s carapace, eager to get to the soft mortal meat within…
And then, at that point, the Abominant exploded.
Seriously, at that moment, Rose rolled for an explosion and got a 6, and for the second time in a row, a Chaos Knight exploded in the middle of my lines. The ensuing fireball was nothing less than catastrophic; one of Sectae Medea was wounded, Senoth was dropped down to 1 wound remaining, and two of Sectae Hasturos were annihilated, leaving only Hasturos himself. Even worse, however, all of Sectae Zhamat were vaporized instantly, as was Aenigma herself, who seemed more intrigued than surprised before she was banished back to the roiling tides of the warp.
While I had just destroyed the Abominant, the cost had been tremendous. To make matters worse, Parsimony was still active,, her gatling cannons spinning once again…
In Rose’s turn, Lady Parsimony strode up in front of where Verbosa had previously been standing, to better get full line of sight to the rest of my army, and then unleashed all of her weapons into my remaining Rubric Marines. Hasturos was swiftly shredded by gatling fire, and two members of Sectae Medea swiftly met a similar fate, leaving only Medea herself, standing between her master and the seemingly indomitable Knight.
Medea’s defiance did not last long, however, before a pair of krak missiles slammed into her, the explosion flinging her aside. At this point, only Senoth remained standing, barely alive on one wound remaining, and staring down the full guns of Lady Parsimony.
At this point, things were looking quite grim: with only Senoth remaining on one wound, I was looking at the very real possibility of being blown off the table next turn..or worse, dying from Perils of the Warp this turn. I weighed my options: on the one hand, Senoth could fly across the table with a decent advance move, and hopefully get onto another objective and do the Transmit Data action. However, I also realized that it was all dependent on really good dice rolls, and most likely, Parsimony, would probably be able to move around and draw line of site to Senoth while he was flying away from her.
Ultimately, my choice became clear. Senoth flew forward, drawing the power of the Warp unto himself as he prepared to take Parismony down once and for all.
In the psychic phase, I was conscious of the fact that Parsimony was standing on 8 wounds remaining, with a 5+ feel no pain save thanks to Mark of the Dread Knight. Senoth started off by casting Firestorm…but unfortunately failed to get the 9+ needed to cast the supercharged version of the spell. In the end, the Firestorm only burned 1 wound off of Parsimony, and because I was on only 3 ritual dice remaining, I couldn’t use Malevolent Charge to boost the damage. Next, Senoth cast Smite, doing 3 wounds…though Parsimony managed to shrug one off. Going for broke, Senoth then cast Gaze of Hate: despite being such a lackluster spell, my rolling was hot, and the Gaze manage to do another 3 mortal wounds!
At this point, Parsimony was standing on 2 wounds remaining, and unfortunately I had gone through all of my offensive spells. With one spell slot remaining, Senoth cast Visions of Doom upon Parsimony, to give himself rerolls to wound. After firing his bolt pistol up ineffectually at the Knight, Senoth drew his khopesh and charged in…
White-hot rounds the size of Senoth’s head whipped past him, seemingly causing the air itself to light on fire as the mass velocity rounds raked a trail of destruction after him. He was calling on all of his precognitive senses now as he flew above the ruined hab-block, the titanic shape of the enemy Knight rearing like some mythical giant before him. Both of its gatling cannons were firing to full effect, and Senoth’s teeth clenched from the mental strain as he spun, wove and corkscrewed through the hellstorm of bullets that were being unleashed upon him, impelling his daemonic disk forwards with visions of where those shells might land.
An immense fury filled him as he did so: he had his brothers had been so close…SO CLOSE to escaping from Vigilus, only to be cut off at the last moment by these turncoat Knights. And for no other reason, he knew, than spite: even with the Loyalists hot on their heels, these mortal fools had chosen vanity and pride in the end, coming after Senoth and his brothers to repay the slight to their capricious honour.
And now, for no other reason than to sate the ego of these idiotic nobles, many of his brothers and fellow sorcerors lay dead or dying. No more, Senoth thought to himself. No more.
He had just gotten within a few paces of the enemy Knight before he extended a hand and unleashed Makephra’s Ninth Invocation of Annihilation. An inferno of multihued flame burst from his hand and engulfed the enemy knight, searing at its paintwork, causing hull plating to liquify in places and cables to fuse. He followed up by shouting Scerops’ Mantra of Unseeing: spears of light instantly burst forth from his visor, and he was temporarily blinded…though he knew well that those spears of light struck with unerring accuracy, shearing through the joints of one of those gatling cannons and sending it tumbling to the earth. Spitting out Uranon’s Thunderbolt, Senoth extended his force stave, and send cracking warp-lightning slicing into the other spinning gatling cannon, causing the titanic weapon to split, rupture and detonate into a thousand slicing shards, sundered by the force of his psychic fury. Senoth could have sworn he heard a metallic roar of pain issue forth from the beast.
With the last of his power, Senoth closed his eyes, scried the strands of fate, and searched for a future where that Knight was destroyed…and saw how it must be done.
Drawing his khopesh, Senoth surged towards the enemy Knight. The war machine was titanic, and against it he looked like an errant sparrow flying towards some hulking metallic simian. Even with its weapons ruined, the Knight had guns to spare, and those guns roared to life, spitting stubbers and shrieking missiles whistling towards him as he closed the gap.
Spinning to evade, Senoth threw his khopesh at the head of the knight, exerting some telekinesis to guide his aim.
Impossibly, the khopesh collided with one of the visor-lenses of the Knights’ skull-like head, shattering warp-fused glass and disappearing within.
Senoth waited a few seconds, and then raised his hand. With a welter of sparks, the khopesh burst out of the ruined eye socket of the knight and returned to his hand. Its golden blade was red with mortal blood.
With a sound of vital systems powering down, the Knight slumped forward as it stood, as the driving force of its pilot faded away….
Swinging first, Senoth scored only 3 hits; even with rerolls to wound, he only scored 1 wound on Parsimony. I was sweating at this point: if Parsimony shrugged off even one of these wounds, then she would no double flatten Senoth in reply, and the game would be lost.
Rose failed the one save she had to make, and failed, and then rolled for two saves from Mark of the Dread Knight….and failed both!
Before I could celebrate, Rose then rolled to see if Parsimony exploded…and the dice, this time, did NOT come up a 6.
My cry of exaltation could be heard across the room as, against all odds, my one-wound Exalted Sorceror felled a Knight and won me the game!
RESULT: THOUSAND SONS VICTORY!
Thoughts: THAT was an incredibly close game! At first, I went into the battle feeling reasonably confident; after my first volley from the Scarab Occult Terminators proceeded to shave a massive number of wounds off of Vacuous, I figured I wasn’t going to have too much difficulty bringing down the Chaos Knights. And indeed, by the second turn, I managed to actually bring Vacuous down….and then he blew up, killed Ktesis, and inflicted horrible damage on my battle line.
From there, it quickly turned into a brutal back and forth, with Rose’s Knights raining incessant firepower down on my poor Thousand Sons. My Scarab Occult Terminators actually managed to hold up quite well against the massed Knight firepower (the combination of Armour of Contempt and All Is Dust gave Rose a real headache), and while my shooting wasn’t able to do too much to the Chaos Knights in later turns, Aenigma more than made up for it, fighting two Knights in a row while taking minimal damage in return. Really, Aenigma really was the star of this game, effectively bullying two Knights for most of the game while taking minimal damage thanks to the Conniving Plate.
It was not to last, though, as my Terminators eventually fell, and one lucky explosion and volley of fire nearly wiped out my army in one go. By all rights, the game should have ended there, but somehow, I was able to roll luckily enough to have Senoth single-handedly bring down Lady Parsimony by himself! It was not only one of the most epic moments of the Crusade, but by far one of the most epic moments I had experienced in my many long years of playing Warhammer.
As always, Rose was an amazing opponent whom I would absolutely play again. The Chaos Knights proved to be surprisingly resilient even to my usual mortal wound spam, and it was telling that I only won with one, badly wounded model.
Next time, readers, the Crusade’s conclusion!
In the aftermath of the ambush by House Demihydratus, we had been left in a worse position than before. Our numbers had been drastically, reduced, and with the forces of the False Emperor were rapidly closing in on us, we did not have the time to perform the rites needed to resurrect our slain Rubricae brothers. Though we had triumphed against those spiteful, vainglorious wretches, they had bled us heavily; we had not the numbers needed to hold the line against any Imperial assault. Our only option was clear: we had to make all haste for the spaceport and leave Vigilus while we still could. The fact that Aenigma, our daemonic ally, had vanished and seemingly abandoned us solidified the decision.
I was about to give the order to continue our retreatwhen Ktesis– currently being tended to by Hasturos and his Pavonian artes– awoke, screaming gibberish in a tongue not meant for mortal mouths.
For a moment, I was afraid our brother had become possessed by the Neverborn, that his years of dabbling with the entities of the Great Ocean had finally caused him to slip and allow the creatures to to take over his mortal shell. But then Ktesis went still, and finally reassured us that he was still himself, that his behaviour was nothing more than the emotional feedback from deep exposure to the Warp. Burnt as he was, Ktesis stood with a strength borne of what I can only call conviction, and told us that he had been gifted a vision by the Great Architect itself.
There was one final prize remaining on Vigilus, he said, one within arm’s reach. A rich font of hidden knowledge, of countless priceless secrets waiting to be revealed…if only we had the strength and cunning left to retrieve it. And if we did retrieve it, then our trip to Vigilus would not have been a total loss after all.
At first, I outright refused: this campaign on Vigilus had cost us dearly, and had led only to us suffering either at the hands of xenos, or at the hands of our own supposed allies. I would not abide this accursed planet any longer; I cared only about the safety of my brothers and getting them back to Sortiarus in one piece.
This is what I wanted to say. But my curiosity…damn me, my curiosity got the better of me. I asked what this repository of knowledge was.
It was not a thing or an object, Ktesis told me in reply. It was a person, one whom the Imperials were desperately trying to capture…
P.S. Here are some more pictures from other days in the Crusade league
Red on red: the Thousand Sons and the Blood Angels clash over scattered supplies in the ash wastes
Captain Lucien Vesta of the Blood Angels personally takes the fight to the heretics
In Megaborealis, a swirling melee erupts between the Thousand Sons and Ork Meganobz, though Aenigma swiftly comes to their aid
The Scarab Occult Terminators hold the line against the thunderous impact of the Greenskin cavalry
The Tyranids of Hive Fleet Acne– let by the Hive Tyrant and Neurothrope nicknamed “Pinky” and “the Brain” local Imperial commanders– rampage through the ash wastes