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Tooth and Claw
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Battle #1 <> Battle #2 <> Battle #3 <> Battle #4 <> Battle #5 <> Battle #6 <> Final Thoughts
Tooth and Claw: Battle #1 ("Slave Raid")
Lars Ulrik, Space Wolf Jarl, and Tanadar Daksha Ram, Fighting Tiger Chaplain, strode through the corridors of the Fighting Tiger’s southern fortress, en route to Landing Bay Aghyra. All around them, servitors, Space Wolves, and Fighting Tigers were making preparations for the arrival of Jirbu Ghosh.
“There seems to be a lot of hoopla being made about the return of this officer of yours,” Lars noted. “I can tell you, I will be lucky to receive a cold mug of ale when I return to Fenris.”
“Jirbu Ghosh is the highest ranking Kshatriya and heir apparent to current Raja Khandar Madu,” Daksha Ram replied. “Her arrival, safe from the rigors on Auros IX, is a cause for rejoicing. For comparison, consider the receptions given to the honorable Ragnar Blackmane whenever he returns from battle to the Fang.” The two stopped momentarily to be checked by guards before entering the secured area of the landing bay. “How are things with your Lord Ironhammer?”
“He is well. He felt it best for me to be here on Captain Ghosh’s arrival, and so has gone on patrol, using his sensors to scan for svartalfir.”
Daksha Ram nodded. “As soon as she arrives, we will begin coordinating our defense of Veda with you and your men. It will be at least several months until the rest of the Tigers return from Auros IX, and until then—”
Tanadar Atal Sood, Daksha Ram’s aide-de-camp, approached. Bowing before the two men, he said, “As per your orders, the Zyena has been re-directed to Landing Area Beghira and will arrive within the next five minutes.”
Lars looked at Daksha Ram. Ram’s brow furrowed. “I did not give any order to re-direct Jirbu Ghosh’s craft, Atal. She is to arrive here.”
“Sahib, I received your transmission with the proper authorization codes. It was less than fifteen minutes ago,” Atal replied.
“Fifteen minutes ago,” Lars began, “Tanadar Daksha was with me, and I can tell you—”
Several huge explosions tore through the landing area, hurling Marines to the deck or scrambling for cover. Lars Ulrik shielded his eyes with his metal gauntlets, his ancient Terminator armor weathering the blasts as if they were nothing more than gusts of wind. The explosions slammed Daksha Ram into a bulkhead, shattering his ribs. As Atal Sood turned to see, a piece of burning shrapnel sizzled through the air and tore the left half of his head off, killing him instantly.
Immediately, red warning lights went on and a claxon began to sound. Still on his feet, Lars surveyed the scene. Several Marines were dead, and almost everyone else left alive was wounded. The landing bay was on fire and any moment now, the volatile fuel stored here would catch and disintegrate them all. Lars knelt beside Daksha Ram and started to hoist him up.
“What is happening?” Ram asked, leaning against the Space Wolf. Overhead extinguishers kicked in, spraying white foam everywhere—Will it be enough? Lars wondered.
Through the flames and smoke, Lars saw his bodyguard lumber into the launch area, their gray Terminator armor protecting them. “My boys are here,” he told Daksha Ram. “We’ll get you out of this.”
“Tell the Zyena to divert their course. It is not safe to land here,” Daksha Ram said.
“They’re already on their way to Beghira, remember?”
Daksha Ram frowned, then shook his head, clearing it. “Yes. Yes, I understand now. I fear the Scorpions have played a most terrible trick on us. Have Atal send word to the Zyena that they must not land at Beghira. Fly north to….”
“Atal’s dead and I’m not getting any channels at all,” Lars replied. “The Elves must have knocked out local comm, too.”
The Wolf Guard reached them and took the wounded Chaplain from Lars, carrying him out of the landing area and laying him on the floor. Immediately, a Tiger Apothecary knelt by Ram’s side and began treatment. More Tigers, some of them with fire-fighting gear, some with medi-kits, rushed into the bay. Lars looked around—the fire seemed to be under control.
“You must go to Beghira and save Jirbu Ghosh,” Daksha Ram commanded. “Go now with all haste.”
“Yes, I shall,” Lars said. He shouted orders in his native tongue to his men and they ran back into the landing bay, the pounding of their massive boots louder than the last few flames and the screams of the dying. Lars and his men boarded their Thunderhawk and a few seconds later, it was on its way.
Many miles away, the Thunderhawk Zyena touched down at Landing Area Beghira and Kshatriya Jirbu Ghosh stepped out into the Vedic twilight. The surrounding forest was alive with the calls of night birds and the buzz of insects.
A pack of Space Wolves met her at the bottom of the ramp. One of them, with a mechanical arm and a helmet fashioned to resemble a wolf’s head, stepped forward. “Welcome home,” he shouted, above the roar of the engines. “I am Wolf Guard Bregir. We were sent here to escort you.”
Following instructions, the Zyena lifted off and rocketed almost straight up, back to the Tiger battle barge in orbit. When it was gone, Jirbu Ghosh replied, “I thank thee. I am told there was a fuel leak at the main hanger, so my craft was re-routed here. Have you heard any further developments?”
“No, I have not,” Bregir said, as they began walking to the main building, where an underground hovershuttle would take Jirbu Ghosh back to the math. Bregir looked about. Nothing but his men and two Rhinos—each fully loaded with Space Wolves—parked nearby, ready to respond if need be.
“I hope it is nothing too serious,” she said. The main door slid open before her, unleashing a typhoon of envenomed shards that instantly killed Bregir and three of his Gray Hunters. Lithe figures in blue and silver armor leapt to the attack, striking down the rest of the Marines before Jirbu Ghosh could draw her plasma pistol. Something lashed out and knocked her to the deck. From somewhere behind her, she heard the shriek of approaching jet engines and the report of boltguns. Cruel hands seized her, hoisted her to her feet, and pulled off her white and black helmet.
A shape loomed over her. Utterly black, the shape seemed to suck light from the overhead lamps, as if it were a black hole in humanoid form. The shape chuckled.
“Good evening, Jirbu Ghosh. My name is Syryx Lynatharr. Let’s get to know each other better.”
Nearing the target, the Raiders deployed into attack formation. Without speaking, each Sybarite nodded in turn: Vhlondryll to Eklavdrah, Eklavdrah to Eylservs, Eylservs to Relonarr, Relonarr to Kharnynydia, who commanded the Warriors accompanying Jheste. Jheste raised his blade and thrust his arm forward.
Two blue-gray troop transports idled nearby, close to some buildings. Only mon-keigh would name a vehicle for such a slow and ungraceful beast as a rhinoceros, but at least the image was accurate. Another tank—a Whirlwind—waited behind the cover of a landing platform’s girders. It, too, was an ugly hulk, but much deadlier, able to destroy a Raider and kill everyone aboard with a single salvo from its rockets. Jheste decided that it would be the first thing the Scorpions destroyed.
Kharnydia’s Raider moved behind a generator building to provide Jheste a covered position from where he could disembark and open the webway portal. The other Raiders swooped down and shot at the two Rhinos and the Whirlwind. On the ground, Wormwood and his Warp Beasts had emerged from the surrounding forest, and were running to the fray.
The air began to hum as flechettes zipped from the barrels of their splinter rifles. There was a loud boom as a disintegrator shot rocked the Whirlwind, and while the vehicle was intact, Jheste knew that the occupants’ heads were ringing. The beam from a dark lance struck one of the Rhinos in the track, ensuring that it would not move.
The Space Wolves responded, guns blazing. To his left, Jheste saw the Raider of the Silver Scorpions crash to the tarmac. Only seven of them emerged from the flaming wreckage. Both Rhinos were disgorging their passengers; with some alarm, Jheste noticed that the one of the Rhinos had managed to get within 100 feet of their lines, and three of the scorpion-like warp beasts were shot down. Within seconds, the blue-gray Marines were engaged in close combat with the remaining Warp Beasts and Master Wormwood.
Well, Jheste thought, so much for planning.
Suddenly, the communications channel sprang back to life with a flurry of chatter. The enemy had sabotaged the main landing area and diverted Jirbu Ghosh here, into what was now surely a trap. It was what Ferin had expected. A typical alfir attack.
He lumbered back towards Beghira. Dark Eldar in blue and silver armor were dropping from Raiders and swarming over the landing area. Space Wolves were engaged in vicious hand-to-hand combat with seemingly endless numbers of Dark Eldar Warriors. If one band of svartalfir were cut down or fled, another took its place. Ferin had a sick feeling in his depths as he watched an elite unit of fighters—“Silver Scorpions,” the briefings had named them—literally butcher the last men of Gray Hunter Pack Roskva. Snarling, Ferin fired his heavy bolters at a passing Raider, to no avail.
But the Wolves were holding their own and reinforcements had begun to arrive. The Typhoon-class Land Speeder “Maelstrom” rocketed into view and fired, obliterating the Silver Scorpions as they tried to run. Not far away, a Space Wolf Thunderhawk landed and Lars and his men strode into battle. Lars shouted to Gunnar and Thoralf, and they trained their assault cannons on the Raider that Ferin had missed. Five of the Dark Elves leapt clear as the craft’s engine exploded, but Ferin’s heart swelled.
“Good shooting lads!” Ferin bellowed above the din. “We’ve got these milksops on the run now!” He fired off another volley and tramped fearless into the thick of the fight.
“Look what the Doctor brought you to play with,” Jheste told it. The mechanical beast smashed into the first thing it saw, the Rhino of squad Mimir. Its first blow snipped off the tank’s storm bolter.
When the battle had begun, two Gray Hunter Packs had been there to oppose them. The Silver Scorpions had destroyed one, but the other—Squad Mimir—was stubbornly refusing to die. Indeed, they were killing quite a few Ozone Scorpions. Perhaps I can do something about that, Jheste thought, as he carefully slunk toward them. Directly across from him, Space Wolves with heavy weapons had disembarked from their Thunderhawk and were taking up a position behind some cover. Hmmm, he thought. They could prove troublesome.
An enormous explosion nearby rattled Jheste’s teeth. Kharynydia had followed her orders well and her Raider’s disintegrator had destroyed the Whirlwind. Simultaneously, the Space Wolf Dreadnought advanced, firing its heavy bolters and downing Eklavdrah’s Raider. She hauled herself out of the wreckage and led the surviving members of her band away from the Wolves.
When Jheste looked back, he saw that finally Squad Mimir had fallen back to the relative safety of their Rhino. Doubtless, they intended to drive away, but Jheste smiled.
“Oh no, I like you right where you are, my friends.” He whispered a series of commands into the comlink of his silver mask. The Talos responded, moving in for the kill.
The Warriors had finally beaten back Squad Mimir and were firing on Lars and his Wolf Guard. Haradson fell to one of the alien’s blasters. Across the compound, the mechanical scorpion lashed out, tearing open the Rhino. In its frenzy, it snapped two of the Gray Hunters in half. The last two men of Squad Mimir staggered out, only to be pounced upon by several Dark Eldar led by an especially spindly one in a silver mask. “I’ve got my eye on you, friend,” Ferin growled.
Behind Ferin, the Long Fangs fired their heavy bolters, dropping a Raider almost literally at the feet of Lars and his Wolf Guard. Ignoring the flames, the Fenrisian heroes caught and crushed the dazed Dark Eldar as they struggled to escape. Overhead, another Land Speeder—“Ragnarok”—arrived and fired into the svartalfir, who now were running.
“After them, boys!” roared Ferin. But suddenly, something appeared in between his men and their retreating foes.
It was the rampaging metal scorpion—and it was headed directly for Lars and his Wolf Guard.
“Lynatharr will not be pleased,” Eklavdrah said. She and her crew had outrun the Dreadnought and formed up with the other surviving Scorpions—not that there were many survivors. Scores of Dark Eldar corpses lay dissipating on the tarmac. The Space Wolves were steadily advancing.
“Nonsense,” Jheste chided. “I rigged and detonated the explosives at the main hanger, I diverted Jirbu Ghosh—the Tigers’ golden girl—here, and I’ve kept the Space Wolves from pursuing our master as he makes his way home. I’d say this little mission has gone very well.”
“But we’ve lost a lot of Warriors and we have precious few captives to show for it,” she snarled.
“Well, that’s not my problem,” he said. “That, I think, reflects rather poorly and you and your colleagues.” Eklavdrah shot him a dirty look. “Still, I think we have a wonderful opportunity. Look over there.”
Jheste’s Talos swatted at two of the Terminators and they fell like flies, but one smashed his power fist into the front of the monster and it made an ugly grinding noise as it shut down.
“You were saying?” Eklavdrah sneered.
“Time to leave,” Jheste replied.
A storm of bolter fire tore through the Scorpions as they ran. The Dreadnought came into view again, its heavy bolters mowing down any stragglers. Jheste felt what seemed to be a tremendous yank on his left leg as “Ragnarok,” a Tornado-class Land Speeder, fired its assault cannon at them. He fell, then looked down and found that his left leg was gone below the knee. He felt no pain, and only a mild annoyance that soon he would be dead. Unless—
“Eklvadrah! Help me!” he cried. Still firing her splinter pistol at the Space Wolves, she signaled to two of her men to scoop up Jheste. Vhlondryll and her Raider appeared, and they climbed aboard.
Eklavdrah leaned over Jheste as he injected the stump of his leg with a fast-acting blood coagulant. “If you weren’t the only one who knew the portal code to get us back to base,” she crooned, “I’d leave you to whatever primitive enjoyments the mon-keigh have for captured enemies.”
“I love you, too, dear,” he replied.
Lars Ulrik, Ferin’s right-hand man, approached. “You look troubled, my friend,” the old Dreadnought rumbled.
“We lost a lot of good men today. And not all of them are accounted for. And there is no sign of the woman warrior Jirbu Ghosh.”
“That is unfortunate,” Ferin replied. “Unfortunate for the Dark Eldar. Before, I merely despised them. Now, I hate them to the depths of my being. We shall not rest until we free their captives and have killed these ‘Ozone Scorpions’ to the last one.”
Lars Ulrik nodded. “We will hunt them down,” he whispered.
“To the last one,” Ferin swore.
Post-game Analysis by
For narrative reasons, we assumed that the attempted abduction of Jirbu Ghosh would be successful. The actual “Slave Raid” would be to see how well the Ozone Scorpions held off the counterattacking Space Wolves (and to see whether the Scorps could catch any more Marines), thus setting up the next battle in the campaign.
Astute visitors may notice that my Reavers (of which I’m supposed to have four) do not make an appearance in this battle. I am embarrassed to admit that I goofed when coming up with my initial army list and shorted myself about 100 points. So really, I was fighting 1500 points of Wolves with only 1400 points of Dark Eldar.
Worse than that was how I just plain botched this game. “Slave Raid” is one of the easier missions for Dark Eldar, but somehow I managed to blow it. From the beginning of the game, I spread myself too thin, simultaneously attacking both Gray Hunter packs (on opposite sides of the board) and the Whirlwind. I was confident that my Scorps could handle the Wolves before reinforcements arrived, but that just wasn’t so. Though I took out Squad Roskva and the Whirlwind quickly, Squad Mimir refused to go down until late in the game, and not until it had wiped out my Warp Beasts and about 20 Warriors. Mimir tied up a lot of my units that I needed elsewhere, allowing the Wolves to chew up the rest of my army.
What I should have done at the start of the game was ignore Squad Roskva and bring on everything to my right side, throwing my entire army at Squad Mimir and the Whirlwind. I would have been much better set up for engaging the rest of Pat’s army and conducting an orderly retreat off the board.
As was mentioned in the Introduction,
the winner of each game gets to select a Spoils of War and apply it to
the next battle. Pat chose E: Winner may use “Deep Strike” or “Infiltrators”
on one of their own units (of no more than 10 members) during the next
mission. Well, all I can say is, it’s not going to help him. Those
Wolves were tougher than I thought, but my Drowboys can handle them. From
now on, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy….
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© Copyright Patrick
Eibel and Kenton Kilgore, May 2002
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