But now, another stark realisation of the conflict they pursued: The Heart of Balethimor had not merely been laid low by just any Gedrenite ship. No, the vessel belonged to a long lost offshoot of the Martian Mechanicum, brothers of those whom the Emporer had allied the Great Crusade alongside. Brothers who through confusion and misunderstanding had fought in favour of the Fief Lords of Gedren and their long standing allies.
Malibron could not be consoled. He wept tears of rage, anger at his lost progeny, the grievous wound to his Legion that they might never recover from. Ignoring the sympathy and messages of support of his brothers, he immediately made his way to one of his ships and the remains of his fleet; Their destination, the Mechanicum world of Gedren VI. As the ships entered orbit the Imperial Fleet looked on in disbelief, unable to act as the 11th Legion unleashed its wrath upon the surrendered and unsuspecting populace. Its payload, the most dreaded of the Imperiums weaponry; The Exterminatus.
Just as this was occurring, and the biological matter of Gedren VI was utterly annihilated by the virus sweeping accross its surface, Corax was made aware of yet another dismaying discovery: The cloning technology of Gedren, captured by the now deceased Captain Eli of the Blood Angels, was missing - its guards slain, the gruesome effects of bolter and chainsword marking their corpses.
It was obvious what his brother Malibron planned. Though spurned on by Leman Russ to take more aggressive action, Corax considered his next orders carefully - Malibron and his legion were to be apprehended, cast in chains, and returned to Terra to face the judgement of his father. But, as he made ready to call the remaining Astartes back to the fleet from their final operations within the system, yet another disaster struck. Suddenly and without warning all of the communications systems and channels flooded with static - tactical displays revealed them surrounded by hostile vessels, only for them to dissapear. Collision warning klaxons and enemy troop boardings sounded, only to be silenced before beginning once more. Corax immediately ordered systems shut down, and the bridge of his Capital ship was plunged into half-light. Outside his view port, the other ships of the fleet made emergency manouvers and counter-measures to combat a threat which did not exist. After a moment Lance weapons flaired as they opened fire, and explosions blossomed in silence as the atmosphere of ships within the fleet was exposed to the void....
Sevruk looked to Sergeant Warule, a look of disbelief adorned his face, as much as such a thing was possible with his his horribly scarred and pitted features. The enemy firebase in the sector had finally been destroyed, the few remaining defenders having little stomach for a fight, and many defenders had simply lain down their arms. But now the neighbouring region, one which had been placed under the auspices of the Space Wolves and previously marked as secure, showed multiple enemy units moving to engage. Surely the enemy lacked the resources to form such an aggressive counter attack?
The War Hound Captain grinned to himself and thumbed the safety of his chainaxe, its motor choking slightly on the blood and detritus which covered its surface. Barking a quick order into his comm system, he turned to his brother marines and ordered them to make ready: If his brother Legion had failed, then his own would succeed in their stead...
Wolf Lord Mjolnir muttered to himself as he surveyed the surface from his assault vessel. Though the attack on the system had been successful, many of his brothers had perished, their efforts in preventing heavy armour units from reaching Gedren Prime paid for in blood. And now, the final operations upon Gedren Prime had been utterly uneventful - pockets of resistance with no stomach for the fight, and little opportunity for his Legion to regain some of its lost honour.
Such thoughts were immediately pushed from his head as the comm systems filled with static and proximity alarms blared. Wincing as his heightened senses absorbed the full effect of the screeching and hissing blaring through his communications node, Mjolnir threw the device onto the floor. The display grid revealed the ajacent sector compromised, the previous location of the War Hound task force now clogged with enemy combatants. The grizzled Space Wolf grinned to himself despite what such an occurance represented. Perhaps the humans here had some teeth after all?
Shouting to his comrades to order the assault, and convey the order to the units on the surface, he immediately headed for the vessels drop ships. As Mjolnir stormed from the room, the dial on the discarded communications node blinked red: its priority message from fleet command going unheeded....
What was meant to be a final assault on the beleagued defenders of Gedren was suddenly turned on its head! Originally intended to be a 3000pt doubles game, with myself partnering Dave (Wolf Lord Mjolnir from thegreatcrusade) was now a fight of World Eaters (well, War Hounds) against Space Wolves - and notably, the first Marine vs. Marine action of the Great Crusade!
The game was played using the Night Fighting rules for the first turn, and with 3 objectives to be contested. Essentially the troops of both sides have been ordered in to attack - as far as their scanners and readouts are concerned, the enemy ahead are Gedrenites, and by the time they charge out of the darkness, and the drop pods come down, its too late! The conflict has joined!
Dave had some pretty fiercesome firepower in his army which would make a mockery of power armour, including two Vindicators and a Land Raider. Despite the darkness of the first turn, most of my army set up in cover (not very World Eater-ey but needs must!)
The first turn was marked by a dreaded Lucius Drop Pod arriving right behind my Razorback. The armoured walker stomped out, its power fist making short work of the vehicles rear armour.
However this victory was short lived, A War Hound Dreadnought coming on from reserve behind it and smashing it to bits. Meanwhile on the right flank, two other drop pods arrived, Grey Hunter marines spilling out onto the objective.
The firepower as they arrived was impressive, almost completely wiping out the Veteran squad, only the marine with the melta gun surviving.
He then leapt into the squad transports rhino, and raced forward - firing out the side of the vehicle he hit the landraider and destroyed it! The Terminator-armoured Wolf Guard squad climbed out of the wreckage, Wolf Lord Mjolnir wounded by the attack. The Space Wolf Vindicators opened fire, hammering the marines hidden amongst the foliage, although the cover protected them (I made some extremely lucky cover saves at this point!)
The Commander with his honour guard jetted forward and grabbed one of the objectives, a broken down and abandoned Space Wolf Fellblade.
Turns 3 & 4
With a howl of chainaxes and roar of turbo-fans Sevruk and his 'assault unit'* attacked the Grey Hunters on the nearest objective. Although the Space Wolves rallied and counter-charged into combat, the fighting was short and bloody and the War Hounds butchered their opponents to a man.
*(Berserkers in the rules, although they should not exist at this point in time so they are just a particularly hard assault unit!)
Meanwhile their was a loud pop as the air around the Vindicators displaced, and the War Hound terminators teleported onto the field. There was a slight error in the process however, and they appeared in a circular formation directly infront of the Space Wolf tanks.. I was punished at this point for forgetting to run them and try and spread the unit out - once both Vindicator cannons had fired, only a single terminator still stood. However, this was short lived as the bolter on top of the vehicle managed to kill him!
The lone War Hound with the melta gun in the rhino continued his 'drive by' and raced up to the Vindicators, wanting to avenge the terminators - his shot managed to temporarily stun the vehicle.
Turns 5 & 6
Sevruk and his assault unit jetted forwards and took on the other Grey Hunter unit, although this time their number was reduced by the previous turns fire by the Wolf Guard. Still, the War Hound unit slew the Space Wolves, but no sooner had they done so then the bulky forms of the Wolf Guard charged into combat with them! The fight was bloody indeed, by the end of the game only Wolf Lord Mjolnir still lived, locked in a bloody struggle with Sevruk and a single War Hound marine (both of the characters on a single wound!)
The Space Wolf assault was by this time spent - the War Hound units who had spent the game sheltering from demolisher shells finally raced forward to seize the objectives, the Commander and his honour guard flying out from some trees (one of them died!) to destroy a Vindicator. The game was over, with victory falling to the War Hounds!
Thoughts on the Game
First of all I have to say how great it was to play against Dave's army, the amount of effort he has put into even the standard troops choices is astounding, and I'm not suprised at all that it won the 'Best Army' award at AoTE 2, as well as being chosen to sit in the display case at Warhammer World!
The game was really a lot closer than it looked, and came down to several very fortunate dice rolls on my part - the cover saves of my units protecting them from Demolisher shells from the Vindicators, my 'drive by' marine melting the Land Raider, and then my 'Berserkers' surviving for far longer than they had any right to and hacking their way through half of Dave's army while the rest of my force poked their heads out from the woods. Overall though, a thoroughly enjoyable game and a great way to finish the weekend!
Warule slumped to the ground, clutching the loop of his innards in one hand, his armour shattered and slicked red with blood. That last Space Wolf had cut horizontally with his blade even as he had fallen, his chainblade ripping through his already weakened armour. Power had failed in his suit and he ripped his helm from his head, throwing it to the floor and surveying the remains of battle around him. How had it come to this?
Grimmacing he looked up to see Sevruk, embroiled in ferocious melee with what must surely have been the Commander of the Space Wolf force. Both of their weapons lay on the floor, and their armour was red with spilled blood, but that seemed to matter little as they swung puches and attempted to grapple each other to the floor..
As Warule watched on, the communications node in his ear finally burst into life, the sceeching static replaced by the anxious voice of fleet command.. "... to cease all hostilities immediately.. I repeat, all combatants in sectors twelve and fourteen to cease hostilities.. " Wincing with pain, he reached for a discarded boltgun which lay on the floor in front of him.
Mjolnir swung a ferocious uppercut into the face of the reeling War Hound, and grunted as his fist connected, sending the War Hound officer opposite him flying backwards with a sickening crunch. Satisfied that his blow had been sufficient to lay his opponent low, he searched around for his power blade, and upon locating the weapon strode over to the prone form of his fallen foe.
Why had the 12th Legion attacked them? It mattered little.. this one would die along with his fellows for the deaths of his comrades and the slight on his Legions honour. He raised his blade, just as the War Hound beneath him began to regain conciousness.
"Stop!" A vox-enhanced voice boomed from alongside him, and Mjolnir turned to see a heavily wounded War Hound pointing a bolter in his direction. His blade hovered above the prone form of the officer and was ready to commit the killing blow. "We are... we are to cease hostilities.. by order of Corax and your Primarch.." The War Hound gasped, and the bolter in his hand wavered.. "but I swear, move another inch and I will end your life.."
Mjolnir paused for a moment.. was this some form of trickery? He snarled, lips drawn back to reveal sizeable fangs beneath, ready to swing his weapon. But then, why had the trooper not simply shot him? The Wolf Lord looked down at the wounded body of the Marine beneath him, who now lay staring at Mjolnir through his single, artificial eye. His horrifically scarred visage betrayed no emotion.
After a pause the Space Wolf reached down and offered his hand to the Marine, just as other white and blue-clad Astartes began to approach them, their bolt guns raised. The War Hound ignored the proferred hand, gingerly pulling himself to his feet.
A Stormbird of the Raven Guard approached above as the two marines faced each other at eye-level, the roar of its engines drowning out any comment either could make. For a moment they both simply stood, staring at one another, calm despite the turbulence caused by the nearby aircraft. Mjolnir saw his own reflection in the gemmed eyepiece of the marine, tinted red yet still revealing the extent of his own wounds.
The Wolf Lord looked about him.. the slain forms of his Wolf Guard, his Land Raider surely damaged beyond repair, and all about him the remains of the War Hound assault squad which he had slain. Mjolnir's shoulders slumped visibly, and he looked to the floor as the reality of what they had wrought here began to dawn upon him..
Sadly, no conclusion was ever written for this campaign, although the following was read out by Laurie as a narrative:
Malibron, the Primarch of the 11th Legion, was sent to the Emperor in chains. There, he would face his father who would dispense his judgement as he saw fit, for his son had committed an atrocity of the highest degree.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Legions stationed at Gedren Prime received orders to transit to another system where a gathering of Legions, more vast than had ever been known before, were to come together at the Ullanor system.
The cloning facilities of the Gedrenites were brought aboard the Flagship of Corax's fleet, who would oversee the destruction of such a dangerous technology personally....