Crusade: Rise of an Ancient Threat

Crusade: Rise of an Ancient Threat

Amidst our 40k Planetary Empires campaign my Archon was killed, so I thought it a decent time to adjust to giving my Necrons a spin… this is the beginning of their story.


Nemesor Sebekh was accustomed to waiting. He was not accustomed to the terrain of this accursed system. Not a single one of the clustered worlds were tomb worlds, as all of them were too remote and too volatile to have been of use even in the expansion phase of the Necrontyr. “A large world of greenery, teeming with… ugh… life,” thought Sebekh, reflecting on why his dynast had assigned him to this task. Bad enough he had to bring war here, but to do so to meet the bidding of a noble from a different Dynasty. It was that most infamous of Nihilakh–Trazyn the Infinite–that he waited for now. Finally, the shadow of a Night Scythe passed, and the familiar crackle of translocation resonated.

“Ah, Sebekh, glad you could be here,” vocalized Trazyn, while Sebekh sent courtesy glyphs to the newly-arrived Overlord. “I know that our Dynasties have not always cooperated in the past, but the orders from the Silent King are certainly binding enough. We are to cooperate, to gather our strength together.”

Sebekh nodded at this. His Phaeron and that of Trayzn (Krispekh of the Nihilakh) were the ones instructed to cooperate, and perhaps to keep the notoriously disruptive Trazyn at bay, Krispekh empowered him to be the one to cooperate. And thus the duty of Sebekh was to endeavor to do just that. He recalled his own Phaeron’s words of command: “Trazyn has great needs, but also access to great power. You will endeavor to feed his needs, such that we might gain his power on our side.”

Sebekh spoke: “Glad to be here, in the name of dynastic cooperation, Overlord Trazyn. My Phaeron extends his esteem and hospitality, and I’m here to assist whatever pursuit you have amidst these planets. I was not provided further details of those goals in the packets of information about this system, just copious notes about current competitors, flora, fauna, the living cycles and industrial development of the human hive cities here, the precise water cycles of the lake systems on the moon…”

Trazyn interrupted the listing. “Yes, yes. I sent everything that might be needed. One never knows where the key to a puzzle may lie. Even in the music of a world, but that is a story for another time. What matters is this.” Trazyn sent a quick additional packet of information to Sebekh, and immediately the technical details of a casket pillar filled his consciousness.

Trazyn continued “I want you to help me find this. The glyphs suggest it is a boundary marker of sorts, placed by some lost dynasty that may have had claim over this pathetic system. And where there is a marker, there may be a path to the remains of that dynasty… and their historical knowledge of the War in Heaven. Take your forces and scour these planets. The conflict between the various young races at war here will be perfect cover to seek it out. I know only of its dimensions, that it is protected from long-range scan identification, and that the image of it–which I extracted at no small difficulty from the mind of some burrowing degenerate cultist inhabitant–included a set of curious plant growth upon it.”

“While you’re seeking it,” Trazyn continued, “I don’t mind other trophies or items of note from the various combatants in this system: their endless variety excites me, and anything unique you find I welcome you preserve with one of these.” Trazyn handed him a set of small cubes, and quick inspection revealed each to be a stasis projector–Trayzn was a collector and antiquarian, and Sebekh realized that even just sending him some frozen oddities would curry his favor. He placed them in an inter-dimensional pocket for safe-keeping.

Sebekh then responded. “I’ll search with you for this wayward marker, but with my own forces in a manner of my choosing. Investigating in more spots at once will help the search go quickly.” Trazyn’s nod indicated he was pleased with that arrangement, and Sebekh was glad that he would not need to sully his own forces with the Nihilakh amidst them. “Point me in the direction of where you found the inhabitant who saw this structure.”

Game One: Laughter on the Wind

Weeks of scanning had turned up little information on either the marker or natives who may have seen it. Nemesor Sebekh had his tomb ship in synchronized orbit in the system, with full stealth protocols enabled. While the other combatants in the system were racing to grab territory, Sebekh took care to catalogue the forces that were warring, as well as to set up reconstruction matrix projectors into high orbit–disguised as orbital wreckage–to support his troops on every possible battlefront. Sebekh’s adjutant, Warden Nesos, finally prompted that their preparations were likely well-completed, and that ground forces could start to be deployed to likely spots. At the very least the crypteks in reserve in the force could start to sample the soils and sort out how to run more effective ground-piercing data sweeps–as Sebekh had mused that the marker would likely be underground.

They began landing troops on the surface of the main planet of Scylla Prime, the planet’s name in the local vernacular, translated from all the fleet relay messages that were bouncing all over the system. Sebekh had chosen a spot that looked more remote, keen to avoid the places that had the thickest populations of humans and their degenerate mutant versions (both Astartes and the hive-infected qualified in this way to Sebekh’s reckoning). He was keen to also avoid the other marauding forces in the area: the blue-skinned goat-people, the mis-firing weapon of the Old Ones (the Orks), loathsome worshippers of a warp entity, and the inscrutable Tyranids.

Initial landings went well, and seemed utterly un-opposed. That is until the wind started carrying an odd sound that started to register on Sebekh’s and Nesos’ auditory capture nodes: laughter. Sebekh had only just laid down a change to combat protocols when a band of near-phantoms leapt out of hidden portals to strike at his landing forces. He recalled they were a form of theater mummers that fought in the service of the Old Ones: harlequins.

However, the resilience of his forces started to carry the day for Sebekh. While each elf lost from the small roving bands of them left them under-gunned. His block of Immortals not-surprisingly proved to be very effective, even when in such close range to foes. With new blocks of Warriors deploying from a Ghost Ark and spraying the elves with Gauss fire, the Necrons began to prevail.

The harlequins were seeking something that swirled in the winds of the planet’s atmosphere, perhaps drawing a bead on where supplies were stashed for them in webway portals. It made for an erratic fight, and one where even lowly canoptek swarms had a role to play. A particularly deadly harlequin, who dispatched a unit of Wraiths on his own, was stopped by a sacrifice protocol that had the scarabs merely cluster onto him and then detonate their cores–an explosion that he could not dodge in time.

As they had arrived, the harlequins fled in nearly the same breath. It seems like they had failed to get what they were seeking, and even if his forces were oblivious to the objective–his presence and the toll his forces took caused them to retreat. Sebekh’s forces were now bloodied, and he was already concerned that Trazyn’s deployment of him here in this system was going to be a painful experience. He shut down the doubt centers of his mind–slapping an hour ban on them–and got back to work with arraying his forces for survey and acquisition.

Game Two: The Enemy of my Enemy

After a few days of exploration Warden Nesos signaled Sebekh that their Doom Scythe’s long-range arrays detected a firefight in the distance. Swapping his sensor feed to that of the Scythe’s pilot-noble, he saw a tense firefight between an armored column of the blue-skinned goat people and what looked like two combined phalanxes of the mutated human strains–particularly large and ornately decorated mutants of their kind at that. While the initial ambush of the goat-people inflicted huge casualties, it seemed like the mutant strains were defending some sort of crashed cargo pods. “With luck,” thought Sebekh, “our forces can strike amidst the chaos and maul the humans while they’re so focused on stopping the tanks of the goats.”

Sebekh materialized his forces from his ship onto the far side of the battlefield from the rest of the fight, but very quickly his long range shots from Triarch Stalkers were doing enough damage that the humans sent some of their number his way. Two of them on primitive jet propulsion and hover-tech vehicles flew at his front lines, and the screen of Canoptek Wraiths. The Wraiths’ durability kept them distracted, until he commanded the Wraiths simply leave the combat making a firing gallery of his Warriors’ gauss reapers which tore apart the vehicles and their riders in a hail of green flensing energy.

Another wave of the mutated humans, these in more ornate battle plates, came rushing at Sebekh’s forces. As the subsequent volley of gauss fire slew many, and his contingent of cursed flayed ones tore apart the rest, Sebekh got only the most crude of scans underway of the warriors. They all seemed to have the same mutation-set, as if they were planned or literally grown from infant-status into these mutant forms… by design. “Ghastly,” said Sebekh to no one in particular, as he was surrounded by Immortals and Warriors only. “Refined biology is still disgustingly… biologic.”

Sebekh could see that the warriors were surely effective: a single one of their leaders circled and circled one of his Triarch Stalkers, and annoyingly Sebekh had to keep transmitting additional script to activate full quantum shielding on the great walker to keep it alive and functioning amidst the warrior’s onslaught. “All biologics have some crude effectiveness, some apex creatures amidst them,” he thought. “Still, put a mutated monkey-form into ornate golden armor and it’s still just a mutated monkey-form.”

The flank where the goat-people had tried to hit hardest was being reinforced by the humans, their warriors clustered around what seemed to be an escape pod of some sort. Sebekh was under-interested in trying to shift them from that spot, as they seemed determined to keep it.

On the other flank, his forces and the goat-people had eliminated all of the resistance, leaving the other strange pod to them. It seemed to be some sort of crude vat full of biological materials, and disgusted Sebekh ordered it destroyed on the spot. The monkey-forms got one, lost one. Good enough. The seeming leader of the goat-people had flown to that point as well, and perhaps he was interested in what remained of it. But of course, the flayed ones that Sebekh had somewhat reluctantly released alongside his troops were particularly interested in what was inside of this suit. Hopefully he didn’t tarry too long at the destroyed vat, lest they crack him open and wear his blue skin as their next decoration.

The battle was ultimately one where no side particularly triumphed over the other, and at least the goat-people had the good sense to not fire their weapons upon his dynastic troops while he too was attacking the mutant humans. Of course he’d have to annihilate them, but for the moment they were a convenient ally. “Enemy of my enemy and all that,” said Sebekh as he reinstated security partitions for the flayed ones in a pocket dimensional stasis. He then ran a debugging protocol on his Warriors to ensure none of them picked up any taint from the cursed flayed ones–but Warriors were the least observant so least likely to fall prey to what they see. “While I’m on old proverbs,” he thought, ruminating on the flayed ones as a dangerous tool to deploy amidst his forces “perhaps ‘monkey-form see, monkey-form do’ is appropriate here.”

Painting Progress

Part of this switch was the relative fragility of my Drukhari forces, but also part of it was finally pushing myself to complete the white whale of the Necrons army: the Ghost Ark. It was such a pain to complete, but now that it’s done I absolutely love the look of it and have enjoyed it in both games so far.

Also painted up a new Overlord to lead my forces, the one with the glaive and tachyon arrow. I adjusted the arm to have it pointing, which was a little conversion but one I’m really pleased with.

I’m nearly done with another ten Warriors (I’ll surely have them painted in the next post, for the next phase of the campaign), and have more to go after that.

Painting Challenge 2022 Progress

Warhammer 40k Necrons 2022 Power Level Painted: 14/365

Warhammer 40k Aeldari 2022 Power Level Painted: 53/365

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