“In the embrace of great Nurgle, I am no longer afraid, for with His pestilential favor I have become that which I once feared: Death.“—Kulvain Hestarius of the Death Guard
* * *
“Don’t try to scare my men with tales of the Death Guard. My company stood against them. They fought all day. They were still fighting when others were running. Faith is more powerful than any disease, any plague. Illness can kill you. But Faith will bring you through the darkness of death . . . and into the loving arms of your Emperor.“—Confessor Guidonis Bernard
* * *
Ghaz Tak was savoring the day. Advancing quickly, swinging his grinder-axe, the traitor Astartes struck down Imperial soldier after soldier. All around him, his retinue was doing the same.
The slaughter was exquisite.
A sergeant charged at him, wielding a chainsword that roared loudly as he swung it. The veteran of millennia of warfare simply sidestepped the man’s blow and chopped him in two with his axe.
A moment later, the Helbrute burst through the woods. The sight of the three-meter-tall dreadnought, covered in the blood of comrades, his vox speaker deafening with screams of hatred and agony, was too much for the surviving guardsmen.
The company routed, the men turning and fleeing through the woods.
It was time to roll up the rest of the Imperial line, Ghaz Tak thought with glee.
* * *
You could walk across the field on corpses and never have your foot touch the ground, Bernard thought.
This grisly observation flashed through the confessor’s mind as he screamed defiance at the cultists. They’d attacked his position twice already, but his men had stood their ground and pushed the heretics back.
A third charge began. This time, the Death Guard’s Vindicator tank was on hand to lead the attack, and the huge tracked vehicle crushed the stone wall that lined the field’s northern border. How was he to stop this metal beast?
He didn’t have time to worry about it. One of the Death Guard warriors, obviously a psyker witch, appeared from behind the advancing tank and launched a greenish cloud at the men to his left. As soon as the mist reached them, his men began to scream as their flesh melted like wax touched by flame.
Yet his company held. Volley after volley of lasgun fire dropped dozens of cultists as they attempted once again to seize the field.
The sun was setting, and Bernard didn’t know what to do. All he could think of was continue to urge his men to stand their ground.
The shot of a powerful cannon sounded right behind Bernard . It was the Lemon Russ tank moving up. But the priest didn’t realize it at the time, as he was knocked down by the shock wave of the battle cannon’s shell that raced past him to strike the Vindicator.
It was surreal, what little Bernard saw as he fell. A dark hole suddenly appeared in the Vindicator’s front hull, and the tank shuddered as it came to a stop. There was no explosion. It was as if the vehicle simply had died on the spot.
* * *
It was dark now. The Imperials were gone, slipping away into the night.
Some of his lieutenants had wanted to pursue the beaten foe, but Ghaz Tak had dismissed their reckless lust for more death.
“Let the dead Emperor’s lackies run,” he told them. “Let them return to their comrades and spread tales of their defeat . . . of the horrors of meeting the Death Guard. Let fear spread before us.”
“Besides,” he added, “we’re surrounded by undefended cropland. Let us walk among it. Let us give it the kiss of Nurgle.”
Unseen in the dark, the leaves in the surrounding trees already were shriveling and turning brown. By morning, every crop within 20 kilometers would be tainted beyond saving.
TheGM: Colonel Manikas survived the battle. He was simply knocked unconscious by the high-caliber shell that landed nearby.
A fair portion of the 4th Battalion managed to withdraw in good order, although it took commissars half the night to gather up the routed 3rd Company. The commanding lieutenant was executed for failing to control his men—a warning that members of the company recognized as a warning that a second rout would lead to executions among the guardsmen themselves.
The rest of the 44th Regiment reached the Pattoa Flats the next day, and Manikas, suffering a concussion but otherwise fit for duty, began deploying his full command to defend the town of Antiem, a key distribution center for the crops collected in the region.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Dozaria Campaign