One must be relentless against the enemies of the Emperor. One must fight with a pure and fierce heart. One must not die until your opponent is crushed beneath your feet.”—Adrias Ioculus, High Marshal of the Knights of Altair Space Marine Chapter
The enemy was nowhere in sight, but High Marshal Adrias Ioculus knew the xenos were somewhere in front of him..
He stood behind the driver of his Land Raider, Bloody Vengeance, studying the multi-scanner that would warn of danger ahead. Behind him, his Honor Guard sat, secured in their harnesses, awaiting their master’s order to attack and kill.
Despite two centuries of service to the Emperor, Ioculus still felt the thrill of impending battle. But, no longer an initiate of his order, his strict discipline kept him focused on the tactical needs of the situation. Behind him, a host of armored vehicles followed—but their route was narrow, and he was taking a calculated risk by allowing his forces to congregate so closely.
“Contact! Unidentified vehicles at 45 degrees to our current trajectory,” reported a Space Marine assigned to the communications/auspex station. “Identity confirmed. Xeno filth.”
* * *
Defeated in the last battle—his first defeat in more than 60 million years—Overlord Agamunzu was experiencing the most intense emotions he’d felt since his biotransference to a cybernetic body. To be defeated by a primitive! The outrage and humiliation gnawed at him.
I will redeem myself, he thought.
So far, his plan was working. Holding back his forces, he’d forced these Space Marines—which he now understood were genetically enhanced versions of the humans he’d easily defeated in recent months—to advance without a clear understanding of his deployment.
They’d been forced to come to him. This had allowed him to prepare his forces to strike at the Space Marines’ flank and provide him with a tactical advantage.
Agamunzu intended to put that advantage to deadly use.
+ + Protocol Q-79 is initiated. Units 211-218 will advance on the primitives’ right flank. Units 311-313 will demonstrate on the left flank and seek to draw enemy units out of position. Maximus agression level is authorized. + +
* * *
The Necrons were approaching from the northeast, and Ioculus was eager to close with them. To his relief, he’d managed to advance past the ruined town that was now at his rear. His warriors had occupied the ruins, ensuring a secure base of fire to his rear. Now his forces were entering more open terrain, providing an opportunity for him to use his armored assets to maximum advantage.
The voxcaster inside the Land Raider began to blare a warning. “High Marshal! A huge enemy construct has teleported to our right. Massive energy readings are detected.”
On a video screen, Ioculus could make out the enemy arrival. It was huge, Although obscured by tall trees, the top of the alien device towered over the forest canopy. It was the size of an Imperial Bastion.
An enemy aircraft also appeared. It had obviously flown close to the ground to avoid detection. But now it was gaining altitude and opening fire on his convoy. Some form of power weapon slammed into the Bloody Vengeance, and the vehicle lurched at the powerful blow.
“Reserve air support is authorized to shoot down the xeno aircraft,” Ioculus ordered.
It took four seconds for the High Marshal to determine how to respond to the xenos’ attempt to outflank him.
“The Gray Slayer, Squad Titus, and Sternguard will drop back and deploy at coordinates 273 by 023. Use the hamlet there to secure our flank. Do not let the xenos through. The rest of our force will circle north of the forest and strike at the heart of the enemy.”
* * *
His forces were reacting too slowly, Agamunzu noted with a cold fury. It had been several years since he’d roused his forces from their long slumber, yet they still did not function with the efficiency he’d witnessed during the War in Heaven. Clearly time had taken its toll on his regency.
Still, when the Space Marines’ armor appeared to the north of the forest, his troops opened fire without hesitation. Heat rays, gauss cannons, particle beams, and even a Doomsday Cannon swept over the human forces.
Yet not a single armored vehicle was destroyed.
How could this be? Agamunzu thought. These are primitives!
A more defensive posture was necessary, the Necron Overlord decided, albeit reluctantly. He ordered his warriors to take position behind a primitive wood fence, and directed the Monolith to head off the human attack.
To the south of the forest, the Space Marine force was weaker. He sent his fastest troops to attack them, in hopes of breaking through and circling into the rear of the enemy.
The battle for this planet might well be decided today, Agamunzu thought to himself. And I will be the victor.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Tophet Campaign