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New Year, New
Enemy: Part 1
Fighting Tiger Turn 1
But no corpses lay to gaze, with sightless eyes, into the night sky as trails of fire rained down from heaven. There was a high, keening screech as thirteen drop pods, metal sides glowing white with the heat of entry into Abrynn’s atmosphere, slammed into the city, near the Mercantile Cathedral.
Raja Khandar Madu and 100 Fighting Tigers, accompanied by the Dreadnoughts Shiva and Vashtar, emerged and took up a defensive stance, weapons ready. Young but experienced, fearless yet wise, the red-haired woman warrior called out her orders. “Eyes sharp! Singh Aftab, hold the right flank. Talwar Chakram, report.”
The drop pod that Talwar Chakram and her Terminators had rode had gone off course at the last moment, landing next to the Cathedral instead of in front of it, as the other pods had. “The energy signatures we seek are directly ahead and to the right and left of us, Raja,” the Chaplain replied.
“Memsahib Madu, there is no enemy in sight,” said Jirbu Ghosh, leader of the Veterans.
For a moment, all was still, save for the hissing of the drop pods’ cooling skin, as the Tigers stood, waiting and watching. Nothing moved in the rubble of the city.
Suddenly, the Necrons arose all around the Tigers, some of them almost within arm’s reach. They had not hidden among the blackened girders, the tangled wire, the scrap and shards of metal. Rather, they had formed themselves from the rubble, the girders twisting to create carapaces, the wire writhing like serpents to form circuitry, the tens of thousands of scraps and shards coalescing into rows of robots with pulsing weaponry. As one, the Tigers gasped, and many recoiled in terror.
“Stand fast!” shouted Khandar Madu. “You are Marines and shall fear no enemy! Open fire!”
“For Brahma, the Sleeping Emperor!” bellowed Talwar Chakram. Even she had been a bit startled when a Monolith had shaped itself from the huge mound of broken metal before her. But there was no fear in her voice when she ordered her men to ignore the humming, hovering vehicle and fire on the Necron Warriors to their left.
“Brahma!” the Tigers responded, and unleashed hundreds of rounds and several gouts of flame into the Necrons. Eleven Warriors, an Immortal, and a Destroyer went down. Rudra Squad 4 blew out the eyes and blasted off the legs of a chittering Tomb Spyder that had formed next to them. Jirbu’s Veterans and the Dreadnought Shiva slew the three Heavy Destroyers and twice wounded Thoth, the Destroyer Lord.
Raja Khandar Madu clenched her fists and crackling metal claws slid from her gauntlets. So these are our foes—and Abrryn’s murderers, she thought.
Necron Turn 1
Arise was the first order, and at the command, 10 of the 11 Warriors that had fallen to Fighting Tiger fire stood back up, as did the Immortal beside Baphomet.
Converge was the second order. A second Destroyer squadron, followed by Scarabs and another Tomb Spyder, emerged from the rubble on the far side of the Cathedral and hurtled toward the battle. The Monolith glided smoothly away from Talwar Chakram and the “tactical” Terminators, its portal glowing and thrumming with an eldritch green fire. Lord Thoth and the three survivors of the first Destroyer squadron teleported away from the massive tide of Marines that threatened them, reappearing through the Monolith’s portal to confront the Chaplain and the Terminators.
Respond was the third order. Seven Marines from Kali Squad 1, three from Kali Squad 2, and a Terminator fell as the Warriors and Destroyers fired, most of them at point-blank range. The three survivors of Kali Squad 1 ignited their jump packs and leapt away to regroup.
The Necrons paid particular attention to Raja Khandar Madu and her Command Squad, with Lord Thoth combined the fire from his Staff of Light with the shots from the Immortals and the Warriors screening them. Veteran Sergeant Lakshman, Apothecary Krishnam, Techmarine Ashul, Standard Bearer Bihari, and the other five troopers were caught in a devastating salvo of green fire. Lakshman was lucky enough to only be clipped by an energy beam, which nevertheless sheared off his left arm at the shoulder. The other bodyguards were literally pulled apart in seconds, broken down into sub-atomic particles by the ghastly weaponry of the Necrons. Lakshman collapsed at the feet of Raja Khandar, who was unharmed.
With a soul-piercing screech, Lord Thoth pulled away from the Destroyers and decapitated the Terminator with the heavy flamer. “Fall back!” commanded Talwar Chakram, but the Destroyer Lord pivoted to prevent their escape. The Terminators were cornered.
“Remember, men: ‘A trapped Tiger is the most dangerous Tiger,’” Chaplain Talwar Chakram called to the others. “Let’s teach him the full meaning of that.”
If it were still possible, Lord Baphomet might have known satisfaction. But all Baphomet knew was obedience.
Fighting Tiger Turn 2
“You shall be among the first to return to Indra’s Chariot,” she assured him, as he slipped into unconsciousness. She felt a gauntlet on her shoulder and looked up to see Vasundhara Raje, sergeant of the Assault Terminators, beside her.
“Allow us the honor of taking the place of your bodyguard, Raja,” she said.
The red-haired woman nodded as she stood, and together, she and the Assault Terminators, lightning claws extended, advanced on the Warriors blocking the way to Lord Baphomet.
The other Tigers closed in on their targets as well. Kali Squad 1 regrouped and leapt back into the fray. Kali Squad Two fired their own jump packs to come to the aid of Talwar Chakram and the “tactical” Terminators. The Marines fired again, downing 25 Warriors. The Scouts fired into the Immortals with bolt pistols and their Veteran Sergeant’s bolter-flamer: two of the hunched monsters fell.
After losing 10 members to intense Tiger fire, Warrior Squad 2 broke and ran past Raja Khandar Madu and the Assault Terminators, exposing Lord Baphomet and the Immortals. “Kali-ma!” yelled Khandar Madu, invoking the Vedic death goddess.
“Kali-ma!” the Assault Terminators answered her, and charged as one.
Claws slashing, “the Redhead” sliced two Immortals into scrap metal and the Assault Terminators carved up four more. The Scouts and Veterans also charged them, but made no kills. The Veterans also charged the nearby Warrior Squads 3 and 4, bringing down two Necrons from the former squad and losing one of their own.
The Dreadnoughts Shiva and Vashtar also charged Warrior Squad 4. Growling like a real tiger, Shiva decapitated one Necron and bit another in half. Meanwhile, Rudra Squad 1 and both Assault Squads managed to hack down three Warriors and a Destroyer that had been accompanying Lord Thoth.
Lord Thoth found that Talwar Chakram was too fast for him. She smashed her crozius arcanum clean through his abdomen and allowed herself a small moment of elation as his Destroyer body crashed to the broken asphalt.
Though he could not know fear, Lord Baphomet could recognize a losing scenario. He and his Immortals broke free of the Assault Terminators and ran past them. The elite Marines, slowed by their armor, could not stop them.
Necron Turn 2
Moments before, 31 Warriors had fallen: 17 clambered back to their feet. As Talwar Chakram and her Terminators turned to face more Warriors, Lord Thoth’s Resurrection Orb flickered, his hoverjets ignited, and he rose up again.
He, the Destroyers, and the Monolith drifted backward, giving themselves room to fire. The other Destroyer Squad and the Tomb Spyder moved to join Thoth as the Scarabs continued on toward the Assault and Tactical Marines battling Warrior Squad 1. Thoth and both Destroyer Squads fired on Talwar Chakram and the Terminators, gunning down two of the elite Marines.
As Baphomet and the Immortals fell back, they found themselves threatened by Rudra Squad 3. The Lord and his minions fired on them, killing four Fighting Tigers and driving them away. Warrior Squad 2, which was also falling back, gunned down two Marines from Rudra Squad 2, and the Monolith’s particle whip snapped off Shiva’s power claw.
The Scarabs swarmed over Kali Squad 1, but the Assault Marines held them off. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting continued across the battlefield, with the Tigers losing one Assault Marine and a Veteran from Jirbu Ghosh’s squad. The Necrons lost a total of nine Warriors, and Squad 4 fell back.
The struggle to avenge Abrynn was far from over….
Posted January 2004
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