Things went from bad to worse for the Imperial forces. The marines that had killed the daemon prince managed to harass a couple of traitor infantry squads before being laid low by the surviving helbrute, and all of the Blood Angels on the left flank were struck down by terminators and their commander that emerged from the Iron Warriors Land Raider. Meanwhile, the guardsmen that Faith had protected seemed overtaken by rapturous self-belief and left her. They assaulted a helbrute, and were slain for their troubles.
In the centre the maulerfiend reached a Land Raider and smashed into its front glacis like a tidal wave, but the loyalist machine held firm. The techmarine inside another transport emerged and shot it with his combi-melta, but, he was horrified to see, it withstood the attack. Retaliation from the tanks was more effective, however, and the daemon engine was destroyed.
Finally the guns had found their killing potential, and they took down several Berzerkers and the helbrute that had slain the guardsmen, as well as the heldrake, much to the satisfaction of the surviving loyalists. The remaining crazed Khornates were unfazed by the deaths of their comrades, however, and one of them managed to clamp a melta-bomb to the nearest machine, rendering it inoperative.
The Blackstar that had delivered Faith's all-too-brief escort was immobilised before it could take off by yet another squad of Berzerkers with a traitor officer. They were gunned down eventually, again by the tanks, and the flyer underwent some emergency repairs. However, Long-range fire targeted – and successfully took out – both of the flyers. With all hope of swift evacuation lost, the dwindling loyalists knew that this would be a fight to the end.
The Khorne lord striding towards the saint gathered yet more Berzerker escorts. However, he had reckoned without the valiant commissar, who, healed by the saint's mystical power, stood to challenge the traitor once more. Both men were heavily wounded, and the Khornate dearly wanted to smash Faith, but his martial pride would not let him ignore the call to duel. While the saint cut down his men, the commissar charged him in a suicidal attack, literally leaping for him; the bionic arm crushing his throat as the lord's blade hacked the guard leader down. Both fell.
Suddenly, the saint was alone in a morass of bodies. However, she found that she was not without enemies – the guns of the traitors blasted at her, and even her mighty will couldn't save her from the torrent of gunfire. With a cry Saint Faith, the saviour, who had fought through all manner of enemies and gathered so many allies to her in the quest to protect mankind, finally collapsed to the barren soil of her homeworld.
It's fair to say that this was not a good turn. Losing both of the Blackstars was gutting, as hope for sneakily capturing objectives with them went in the bin.
And, of course, the fall of Celestine was momentous. This is the first time that I've lost the saint – although, to be fair, she had to take a lot of punishment...
The Saint Dreams of the Fateful Call
It is early evening. Sister Taarna, one of the youngest of the sororitas, but a rising star in the order militant, is the only one at the shrine. Most have gone to partake in a ritual at a church a day's travel away. They will begin their journey back soon, though.
Born on Taarakia, trained in the ways of the ecclesiarchy on distant Earth, she has been back for scant months. Since returning she hasn't seen anyone from her former life, living in seclusion with her sisters. She has crushed her latent psyker nature, defeated the impurity through faith and chastisement. Her soul is the Emperor's, and no one else's.
The vox chimes. A panicked voice states that the capital, Arzach, is under attack from a large force of nomads and barbarians. The sororitas are called upon to defend the people – and, if too late to save them, to avenge them. Taarna has taken a vow of silence, but she follows the correct rituals, sending a signal to the city that help is on the way, and another to her sisters that aid is needed. She writes what little she can glean from the message for her sisters, and dons the panoply of war.
Arzach is tiny for an Imperial capital – Taarakia is a small frontier world, its resources a few minor useful minerals. Most people live in scattered townships, and there are few signs of true imperial authority. The PDF garrison is minimal, and there is but one arbites representative. She is probably the most powerful soldier within a hundred kilometres. If anyone can help, it will be her.
By the time she reaches the outskirts of the city, jump pack already low on fuel, it's clearly too late. She weeps at the burning buildings, and does her best to find and aid survivors, pausing to mark the passing of the Arbiter, whose small tower has been brought down by some form of explosive. Her body has been horribly desecrated – perhaps because of the dozen or so raiders that have been left to rot around the area, most obviously having suffered injuries from bolt shells. Immediately noticeable is the fact that several are in advanced stages of decay – impossibly so for such a short time, even given the heat of the evening.
Taarna discovers survivors at a PDF base; the troopers managed to hold off the barbarians, but at some cost. There are a number of terrified civilians there too. They tell her that the force seemed to be made up of several tribes that were previously rivals if not outright enemies, and that they were led by a massive man with a bionic arm, wearing a bulky crown – or open helm – of steel. They tell her that the raiders entered the city from the west.
One of the women, flailing hysterically, asks her why she didn't help them, didn't get there sooner. A PDF officer holds the pitiful wretch back. Taarna's shoulders slump and she bites her lip. She will not show more of her feelings, but she's sick inside.
Grim-faced, she starts walking towards the western gate, now torn off its mountings. After a moment one of the PDF says “There were a lot of them, miss.” She stops, turns, and makes the sign of the aquila. Some of the crowd murmurs “The Emperor protects.” She can feel hope rising from them, and turns back to the west, a little of her pride restored. However, moments later one voice says, mockingly, “Didn't protect many of us, did he?”
She walks on, and her shoulders drop with a sigh once she is out of their view...
I passed the roll, and she returned. Yarrick also, gratifyingly refused to die.
However, I seemed to have a brain spasm as a result, moved her to the wrong place, and then charged a unit which had a character with a Power Axe with my techmarine, Potentially allowing the enemy unit to contest one of our objectives! Luckily they didn't capitalise on this.
Yarrick also managed to not get to the right place, so I then had to run Celestine back to contest the closest objective, not able to risk her charging the Land Raider.
To add insult to injury the chaos boys managed to take out the damaged Land Raider. It had regained 0 hull Points in the entire battle. Things were looking very bleak.
However, after the dust had settled, even though chaos completely controlled one half of the table, the end result was 15-15. Some form of success!
With a start she wakes, the mocking voice echoing in her head as she surveys the carnage. Isobel staggers to her feet, rage in her eyes, and the equally indestructible-seeming commissar struggles to one knee nearby, cursing the enemy. She stands ready for war once again, elated by both her own indomitable spirit and those of her allies, for a moment serene amid the butchery.
On the right flank the librarian holds his post by one of the generators, and in the centre the surviving Land Raider protects the small building by the dome.
But numbers are against them. There are still a dozen berzerkers, plus an Iron Warriors land raider and the terminators that had emerged from it, two smaller traitor marine specialist squads and, of course, the Khornate Land Raider squatting before her like a wall of ceramite. Would even she be able to last against so many foes?
There could be only one way to find out...
Edited by Brother Sefiel, 14 June 2017 - 08:42 PM.