Traitor forces were aggressive in their efforts to defend the portal. The Chaos lord Ghaz Tak learned of the stealth advance of the one Veteran in Terminator Armor from a cultists firing from a tall building, and the giant traitor strode directly toward this loyal veteran, his advance hidden by a shanty.
When Ghaz Tak got close enough, he charged the Veteran marine, and the two engaged in an epic fight. The veteran marine attempted to strike with a power fist, but Ghaz Tak countered with a swing of his Plague Reaper. One scout rushed forward to assist his brother, but both loyalists were sliced in half by the traitor’s foul Warp-powered weapon.
Not far away, a number of cultists had climbed to the roof of a power station, using the higher ground to fire down upon the scouts in the stealth attack. Before he died, the veteran marine had ordered the scouts to press forward, so the scouts assaulted the power station and slayed the cultists to a man.
(In an almost comical touch, the last living cultist proved almost impossible to kill. Despite firing at point-blank range, and hitting on anything but a 1, the scout sergeant consistently missed the cultist. Ultimately, another thoroughly disgusted scout stepped forward and killed the traitor, putting an end to the sergeant’s embarrassment.)
The traitors also fought hard against the main loyalist assault. As the Plague Fog floated toward the loyalists, Bhal Gaz stayed within its cover until several marine scouts were forced to move out of the fog’s way, when he rushed forward to shoot them down with his Plague Bolter.
That proved, however, his undoing. Trusting too much in his Terminator Armor, the maddened Plague Marine was brought down by sustained fire from Galba’s storm bolter.
The attack by Bhal Gaz almost won the day, even though he ultimately fell. His attack delayed the Knights of Altair sufficiently for Necrosius to reach the final words of the ritual that would open the portal.
As it became clear from the sickly glow of the portal that time was running out, the remaining veteran marine rushed forward with a krak grenade in his hand. Although it was unlikely, it was just possible that a good throw might damage the portal sufficiently to prevent a Warp breach.
He never found out what would happen. As it happened, two marines had been sent to the far side of the portal. They’d played no part yet in the battle, but as their brothers drew the Death Guard and cultists to them with their open attacks, these two marines had advanced through the ruins unseen.
At the last minute, as Necrosius triumphantly recited the last words of his heretical ritual, one marine—unseen because he was behind the traitors— rushed forward, dropped to one knee, and fired his meltagun. The intense power beam struck the glowing portal, melting a support arch and bringing the entire sickly structure to the ground.
The explosion that followed knocked every Marine in the area to the ground (and killed every cultist within 200 meters). When the loyalists cleared their heads and rose, ready to continue the fight, they found no sign of the Death Guard. Not a single traitor marine’s body remained, not even outside the 8-meter-deep crater where the portal had once stood.
Deep within enemy territory, Galba wasted no time organizing those marines still standing and gathering up his fallen brethren. Moving to a designated pickup point, the Knights of Altair escaped by gunship just as traitor reinforcements arrived.
But despite his lossses (1 veteran and two scouts), the marine captain’s mission had been a success. The “Ritual of Pestilence” had been interrupted, and the Warp portal had been destroyed. Daemons would not infest Dozaria, although the battle against the Death Guard was by no means won.
The war would continue . . . .
TheGM: This was the second narrative battle that took place at the Shorehammer convention. My thanks to the players for a great game. The fight was won, literally, by the last die roll of the last turn of the game.
I promised that all Shorehammer games would actually affect our ongoing campaign, but the impact of this battle is much easier to discern than some of the others. With the portal destroyed, the Death Guard won’t be getting their daemon reinforcements.
That doesn’t mean the Death Guard have lost their campaign for Dozaria. But the Death Guard won’t have any strategic edge in the campaign, and no daemons can be added to their forces in any tabletop battle for the foreseeable future.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.