Near the farm compound, it is fortunate that the Ethereal’s guards did not rush to challenge the approaching Astartes. Two Marines with jetpacks drop from the sky and land just outside the walled complex.
One Marine lands directly on target—atop a Fire Warrior, who is crushed into paste by the sheer weight and momentum of the power-armored marine. The second Marine, however, has a slight malfunction in his jetpack, and he veers about 10 meters to the north. This allows his intended target to bring his pulse rifle to bear. The Marine is knocked down by the shot, although he is otherwise unharmed.
To the north, it was fortuitous for the Tau that the Devilfish pilot’s first act was to release his drones. Just as the drones move out of danger, the Marines’ demolition charge detonates. The explosion tears through a fuel line, which leads within seconds to a fire—and then a massive explosion. Several Tau and one Marine are thrown to the ground, but surprisingly none are injured.
The Devilfish and its pilot are no more. The two gun drones, whose AI programming quickly recognizes the threat of the Marines, accelerat away from the Devilfish using their anti-gravitic generators. They turn their burst cannons toward the Marines but miss.
Nearby, Cassius and the Space Wolf cut down their opponent, but the fourth Marine continues to find himself hard-pressed by the Kroot Hound, and the two remain locked in melee.
The fourth Marine finally bests his opponent, taking off the beast’s head by feinting with one combat blade while striking with a second. The hound dispatched, he and his brothers charge forward, firing their bolt guns and pistols and driving the surviving Tau warriors deeper into the woods.
At the compound, the Ethereal attempts his escape. Made aware that his transport is lost, he uses his hover throne to fly over the compound wall to the north, away from the Astartes attackers outside the compound. Some Tau fire warriors rush to their leader’s side, so as to screen him as he attempts to escape into the woods.
His Honor Guard, however, does not follow. It is imperative that the Marines, particularly those with rapid-moving jetpacks, be stopped. They rush out the compound’s gate and charge the Deathwatch Veteran just outside.
A furious fight breaks out, and although one fire warrior is killed, one Deathwatch Veteran also falls. Two fire warriors continue firing at the Marines advancing from the southwest, and the two fire warriors confronting the surviving Space Marine with a jetpack (who landed to the northeast of the compound), manage to defeat the Astartes and kill him as well.
It appears that the Tau resistance may stymie the Deathwatch’s mission.
Then there is a sudden burst of light, and a two-and-a-half-meter-tall Marine, bulked out in Terminator Armor, appears out of nowhere. He has teleported to the surface from orbit, guided by a homing beacon, and he raises the heavy bolter held in his arms.
The gun opens fire, its heavy bolt shells hammering right through the compound walls and tearing to shreds the xenos who presumed the brick and stucco walls would protect them.
The tide of battle turns.
The Deathwatch aggressively attack, seizing the initiative back from the xenos. To the north, the four Space Marines advance with boltguns firing and power swords swinging. Within minutes, almost every Fire Warrior and gun drone is destroyed.
Despite the loss of their jetpack-equipped comrades, the three Astartes outside the compound rush forward. The Terminator-armored Marine slaughters several fire warriors and one of the Honor Guard, while the other two Marines gut the second Honor Guard warrior with their swords.
Although a handful of fire warriors attempt to surround the Ethereal and escape into the woods, it is a futile effort. The Deathwatch surround the pitiful survivors, dispatch the fighters, and seize the Tau leader.
The traitorous civilian leaders who attempted to parley with the xenos also are easily captured by the arriving Imperial stormtroopers—and they are executed immediately.
The Tau is restrained, given sedatives, and put upon a waiting Corvus Blackstar and taken to an orbiting frigate where an Inquisition team is prepared to interrogate the prisoner. The fate of the xeno will never be known to anyone without high-level security clearance.
TheGM: My good friend Rick has participated in about a dozen small skirmish games set in the Corvus Cluster, and he took command of the Deathwatch.
Although it was a close-fought game, the Tau defense suddenly collapsed as the Astartes’ superior firepower began to tell. (Rick started rolling very well—not that I’m dissing his tactical acumen. He played well.)
This was a nice narrative game that furthers the story of the Dar Sai campaign, and the table was rather pretty (at least I thought so). Such tabletop fights are a wonderful way to add color and depth to the now-five-year-old history of the overall campaign.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.