After watching one of his mercenaries shot down as he tried to cross a walkway, Scarn muttered a series of curses that would have made a veteran guardsman blush. He was stalemated, and he could only imagine how his bitch Inquisitor would respond if this rescue attempt failed.
It was time to regain the initiative.
He tapped his vox link. “Giexus, Uzziel, Regos . . . time for a change of plan. Climb down a level. There’s a walkway to the right that I can barely see. If you’re quiet, you can get across in the shadows and come up behind this scum. The rest of us will keep their attention on us.”
“Got it,” Giexus responded. “It’ll take us about 10 minutes.”
A lasgun round chipped the paint off a pipe about 10 centimeters from Scarn’s head. “Make it five,” the bounty hunter said.
For the next few minutes, Scarn and his men kept up a steady rain of fire at the cultists. Two mutants were killed, as was one of Scarn’s men. His sniper, although wounded, managed to get a tourniquet on his bleeding leg and finally rejoined the fight.
“Hey, Boss,” Scarn heard over his vox. It was Giexus.
“Are you in position?” he asked.
“Yeah, but there’s a sizable number of men standing on the level above me. You gotta get them to move. We can’t go anywhere while they’ve the high ground. We’d be sitting ducks.”
Scarn sighed. “I’ll get their attention.”
TheGM—It was Turn 19, and although I was trying hard to stem my frustration and not do anything stupid, the simple fact was that just rolling dice against my “opponent” was not making for an exciting game.
So, I decided on some “heroics” for my anti-hero, Scarn, and sent him charging forward. Using what little cover there was, I managed to avoid getting him killed, and as Scarn ran down the walkway, he pulled the cultist reserve forward into the fight.
That allowed the flanking mercenaries to climb up behind the cultists. Now there was a chance to win this fight . . . if only Scarn could stay alive.
“Oh, crap,” Scarn said.
He’d just given the finger to the universe by running across a walkway, drawing all manner of cultist fire, and he was still alive. A cultist had fired on him from a walkway above, and Scarn had fired on the run, without aiming, and was mildly surprised and highly relieved when the man’s head exploded in a pink cloud of blood and gore.
But as he was about to reach the cover of the central tower, a hulking, three-meter-tall monstrosity appeared. It was a hideously deformed mutant, with a bloated belly and ugly blisters scarring its body. Most alarming, however, was the two-meter-long, jagged-toothed sword it held in its hand.
Almost in a panic, Scarn grabbed a grenade from his belt, flipped the detonator switch, and tossed it forward. He ducked behind a steel panel as the grenade exploded.
There was a loud scream, then an outraged bellow, and Scarn pulled his assault blade just in time to block the giant mutant’s sword from skewering him.
The blow nearly broke his arm, though, and Scarn stumbled backward to put as much distance between himself and the wounded mutant as possible. A few of his men fired at the mutant, despite the risk to their all-too-close-for-comfort employer, but the bounty hunter was more than happy for the help.
Then part of his outflanking force arrived, and as Scarn continued to scamper backward, they opened up on the mutant with their lasguns. Shot after shot struck the giant creature, who suddenly toppled over and fell off the walkway into the darkness below.
TheGM—Lucky, lucky, lucky. With the giant mutant dead, the cultists’ leader charged Scarn. As it happened, Scarn was again outmatched in melee, but the cultist leader rolled poorly, and Scarn rolled well. With the mutant leader’s death, Scarn broke the back of the cultist defenses.
With the mutants failing a “bottle test” and fleeing for their lives, the game was called. By “official” decree, Scarn and his men rushed the central tower, and with the cultists abandoning their position, they reached the prisoner and successfully escorted him off the planet and into the “gentle” arms of the Inquisition.
Live another day
After weeks of captivity, the Runepriest wasn’t in the best of shape. An older Tech Priest, he had surprisingly few of the bionic embellishments that the Mechanicus so loved, and his aging body hadn’t held up well under captivity.
He also was filthy and smelled to high heaven.
He’s not my problem anymore, Scarn thought. I’m alive and off that damned planet.
The Inquisition was still a problem, however. He didn’t assume for a moment that Serillian would loosen her leash for long. She’d let him go about his business for a while. But another “favor” would be asked eventually—one that easily could get him killed.
But he’d survived this time, as had Noguru. And that turned out to be most fortunate. The Imperial Navy blockade above Dozaria was ruthlessly efficient, and Scarn hadn’t realized that the only reason his escaping shuttle wasn’t shot down before it reached orbit was that Noguru voxed an Inquisitorial code to the admiral of the fleet overhead.
“What if you’d been killed?” Scarn had asked. “Why wasn’t I told about the need for a code?”
Nonguru had studied the bounty hunter with mirth in her eyes. “Here’s what you need to know about the Inqusition,” she said quietly. “It tells you want you need to know, nothing more. It keeps you alive as long as you’re useful, but only as long as you’re useful. And, it puts the mission above all else.”
“In other words, we’re just pawns in their little games?” Scarn snarled.
“Exactly,” Noguru said. “You, me, even the Lady Serillian. And pawns are expendable.”
TheGM—As I already noted, this game was heavily influenced by the terrain. I was constantly stymied by the way the terrain narrowed my tactical choices and created “killing zones” where advancing troops were funneled into narrow corridors of advance—and subsequently channeled into a deadly killing zone.
Scarn’s forces did manage to go back to ground level and work their way around the cultists’ flank, but, despite some tactics, ultimately the game ended up being decided by die rolls.
Scarn was very lucky. His charge across the causeway was nearly suicidal, as he came under fire and ultimately ended up in a fight with not one but two melee monsters. But, with a little help from friendly models—and some lucky die rolls—he survived.
I love the Games Workshop industrial terrain—and I am buying some—but the limitations on maneuver created by this terrain have discouraged me a bit from investing heavily in it. I once imagined a whole tabletop of industrial confusion. But I’m not sure the games would live up to the terrain.
I can only hope that the problem is more in my lack of imaginative tactics then in the limitations created by raised platforms that require a suicidal, head-on charge. I really want more of this terrain. So we’ll give it another shot. I’m hoping I’ll figure out the tactics that’ll make industrial-themed battles more fun.
I’ll be posting the scenario details soon.
Oh, for the record, this fight occurred on 6 281 738.M41. I suppose it doesn’t matter to anyone but me, but I like this little “encyclopedia” of the Corvus Cluster to keep track of the details.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.