+++Subsector Christus Ecclessia
+++Bellum omnium contra omnes
I am Alpharius. The unbroken chain has arrived to reinforce the Warmaster's investigation of the Ark Filius. The World Eaters and Emperors Children have spent themselves bathing the corridors in Ork blood. The Xenos largely cleared, our remaining solid legions were to commence the sweep for a way to access the secrets locked in the bridge. Circumstances required otherwise. Almost to the second of our arrival, the grating voice of Abbadon urgently rang over the Vox, demanding my immediate presence repel the Emperor's lackeys. It appears the arrival of several Iron Hands and allied cruisers has just been picked up by his auguries. I took my time to calmly go meet the barking upstart. After all, this new development was no surprise to the Twentieth Legion...
Just as we have done since the dawn of the Crusade, our Legionaries have been conducting shadow operations amongst the Astartes on both sides. This time, we were there at the war council where the Iron Hands commander delegated nominal control of the boarding action to a non Astartes and to us charged the task of beheading the Traitor defence. Our transports docked, we struck swiftly, having long ago determined the precise location of the most crucial prize of all.
It was a happy accident that Abbadon had the wit to both recognise our duplicity and to then divine we would strike toward a target of high value. This then gave us the cover of fulfilling our orders while we pursued our own ends. The corridor to corridor fighting in the hull of the great Ark was brutal. Truly a Zone Mortalis. Our secret weapon, a handful of Cataphractii with psychic potential, quickly made for the room containing the Archaeotec crypt. Somehow, a Sons of Horus Dreadnought almost beat us to the prize. In the ensuing firefight, we eliminated the Dreadnought, along with a another squad of Horus' Legionaries including Abbadon himself. In light of operational gains, the loss of support squad Kato was deemed... acceptable.
We reported success in the assigned decapitation strike to the Iron Hands commander, and secretly pocketed our true objective.
Meanwhile, the Emperors Children battlefleet began to close and the Iron Hands fleet likewise made ready for combat operations. We were assigned to a half-overgrown Hab sector on the inside of the Agri-Cylinder. Legion scouts reported a Mechanicum servitor had been gathering data from whatever nodes to the machine spirits it could access. Data pointing to ways of accessing Ark Filius' fortified bridge...Data Montarion's mournful sons had also arrived to collect. Amidst the ruined buildings and thick vegetation, we made ready to battle in the closed quarters like Centurions.
Again careful Legion preparation bore fruit. Standard programming led to the Servitor randomly wandering so as to confuse its would-be captors. However, loyal Techpriests had installed a failsafe command in its governing cortex. This saw it head almost directly to our waiting recon team.
No matter our scheming, what transpired next was quite unforeseen. The enormous ships of both sides were pounding each other with incandescent Lance strikes and volleys of weapons batteries. Inevitably stray hits were registered up and down the length of the Ark as an Iron Hands cruiser wheeled about firing broadsides...
As our Terminators and Dreadnought waded over rubble, heavy losses were sustained due to a full squad of Deathguard missile launchers. Until a stray Lance strike reduced their vantage point to slag, taking most of them with it. The Servitor in hand, we eliminated many of the Fourteenth Legion but were unable to dispatch more then one unit completely. That one unit contained our marked target, allowing us to retire victorious. Hydra Dominatus.
Outside the Ark, the battle in space neared its climax. We received a report from an embedded informant that the Warmaster's himself was about to join combat. While his intentions were initially unclear, he was heard to make a short utterance in High Gothic: "Amo, sed proditorem odio litteræ, insidiatoris." Horus Lupercal had come personally to square the ledger.
I took position in some ruins, brothers of the Legion arrayed around, and supporting armour in place. We left some landing zone open and waited for the inevitable. Horus did not disappoint. Reports came in of a small force of Terminators attempting to flank us while Astartes in Rhinos made to approach from the other direction. That was not Horus. Horus was not even the enormous Kharybdis Assault craft crashing through the very hull of the Ark, causing catastrophic damage across the battle field. Horus was the teleport Assault by the Primarch himself, right into the very centre of our deployment. We immediately ordered a phosphex strike by our Auxiliaries from Cruxis Majoris Ultima. As the two Lightnings screamed overhead, our psyker-Terminators unleashed a Devastating psionic storm, the Vindicator unleashed its Demolisher Cannon and the Scorpius zeroed in multiple rocket barrages. In answer a clone of Abbadon led a wave of Astartes from the Kharybdis to overwhelm our centre. At the end, we lacked enough Terminators to credibly oppose them in melee. If only the next shipment had not been delayed from the manufactories of the Eastern Fringe!
Worse, somehow Horus lived on and he had delayed us from our mission. Elsewhere, four Loyalist commanders closed on Sevetar of the Nightlords at the bridge of the Ark Filius. We had tarried too long warding off the furious Primarch. When the Voxcast relayed the immediate evacuation order, Legionaries made an orderly withdrawal while Ancient Attalus held Horus, temporarily, at bay. The delay was crucial, from the screens of the evacuating Stormbirds the Primarch was clearly visible running and failing to make it to his ship before Ark immolated. The days's litany of reactor leaks, Lance strikes, punctures from boarding craft culminated with a last volley of cyclonic torpedoes from the Iron Hands flagship.
We gleaned the following fragmentary account of the duel on the bridge some time after the battle: Observers reported that Servetar of the Nighlords duelled the three Loyalist commanders for the vital location of the super-weapon. In a cruel twist of fate the last defence mechanism was potent hallucinogens, which rendered the combatants unable to tell friend from foe. In this context, being one against three turned to be the Nightlords advantage and we believe he was the last standing in that charnel house. Further, it is likely the prize has fallen into Traitor hands.
Worse still, we have received reports that Horus was somehow rescued by those dark gods he worships and even now lovingly cultivates yet another clone of Abbadon.
Thanks firstly to Jason for organising a great narrative event. A Millenia lost Ark being picked over by rival Astartes, while under assault from duelling fleets, was a suitably epic backdrop for our tabletop struggles.
Thanks also to my opponents for some hard fought games and particularly Harry(aka "even littler Horus", the overall traitor commander) for deciding he needed to play me twice just to remind the Alpha Legion of the folly of bringing a gun to a Primarch fight. Both of us getting waylaid and almost caught up in the final explosion was a fitting reward for the perfidy of the Alpha Legion.
And to cap it all off, what should arrive on the very next postal day AFTER the event? Yep, my other five Terminators.
Can't wait for the next round.