The Complexity of Fate

Not writing battle reports any more as it’s damn hard to keep track of what my army, let alone what my ally and two opponents do all game! I will, however, still write these little “after battle” snippets of narrative. Basically, I will be switching to Imperial Guard, as I don’t see my Eldar staying around in a partnership that they do not want to be in. However, if I said that I wanted to fly solo, it would screw over the person that I am allied with, so I will not do that. From the Eldar perspective, however, they did not lose a single battle when they fought by themselves. Since teaming up though, they have yet to win a battle, despite taking very few losses and exacting heavy tolls on whoever their opponents are. Therefore, I will be switching to Imperium armies,  an Imperial Guard detachment with a Space Marine allied detachment (until I buy Sisters, then the Ecclesiarchy will start to flex its muscles!) and a pair of Inquisitors. You’ll see when I post up my next army list!

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Scatter lasers slammed into the side of the Tau Riptide battlesuit as Farseer Lireia directed her Aspect Warriors towards the flank of the Space Marine lines. The alliance of primitives and naive children amused her. Their cowering and desperate tactics amused her further.

“Know no fear, Mon-keigh?” she reached out to the mind of the nearest human, though he recoiled from her psychic touch almost instantly. She dug her hand into a pouch on her robes, pulling out small, wraithbone runes and casting them in the cramped confines of the Wave Serpent transport vehicle. The Aspect Warriors of the Dire Avenger shrine did not seem to react.

Until Lireia’s expression dropped.

“Farseer?” the nearest Aspect Warrior asked, his voice calm and calculated as always. Lireia faced the ground for a moment and the warrior turned back to his squad, all remaining silent. The Imperial armoured column had collapsed. The Inquisitor was hiding behind the remnants of a ruined building, shielded by the humans’ void shield generator. Lireia’s forces were largely unscathed, she still felt the presence of all barring one of her vehicles, the Rangers of the Craftworld were a little worse for wear, but otherwise her forces remained. She knew how much damage her warhost had done to the enemy lines. Famous tank commander, Longstrike, had long since crawled from the exploded wreckage of his vehicle, the second Tau Hammerhead tank was barely still hovering above the ground and the Tau Fireblade commander cowered behind the giant Riptide battlesuit that looked as though it was falling apart, along with the remains of his squad; a single Fire Warrior. All of the supposedly advanced battlesuits that had dropped in from above had been quickly cut to ribbons by disciplined shuriken fire from the Eldar Aspect Warriors, as well as the forces of the Space Marines who had arrived by drop pod. Losses for her enemies were heavy, though the Imperial Guard tanks had all been destroyed and the Inquisitor would not last long with her squad of infantry.

She sensed desperation in the Imperial Guard forces, as well as in her enemies. The Imperial tank commander had also been slain and, despite the Inquisitor’s presence, the remaining squad of infantry wavered in their resolve.

“Warriors, gather the soul stones of the fallen and quit the field. I will not trade the lives of my warriors for the lives of children and primitives,” she called out to her forces psychically. Almost instantaneously she felt the remaining Eldar forces speed away, turning from their targets and quitting the field. She noticed a squad of Fire Warriors heading towards her vehicle, though before they could attach their EMP grenades to the hull, the skimmer turned and sped away.

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Inquisitor Alyssa Robertson had only just made the rank of Inquisitor, having been an acolyte to Inquisitor Lord Tyzell Chaylen until a few weeks ago. Already, she had failed in her duties. She wished to capture the Tau commander alive so that she may question him. She wished to capture more Tau technology, though the salvage from the deceased battlesuits would have to be enough. The Eldar forces were quitting the field en masse and nothing she could do would stop them. Eldar rarely listened to humans such as herself.

“Men, I want you to cover me whilst I de-activate the void shield generator. We will not allow it to fall into the enemy’s hands,” she instructed, moving towards the generator that lay by the forest near her position. The Guardsmen followed her, but she felt their unease. She could understand; these men had witnessed their entire armoured company, along with their commander, reduced to burned out wreckages, though her duties to the Emperor had long overridden her sense of compassion. She had a job to do and these men would give their lives to the Emperor there and then if needed.

She reached the console on the side of the generator. She understood the simple controls, though the complex parts left her baffled. She glanced over the battlefield and noticed the remaining Tau and Space Marine forces advancing on her position. The void shields held their fire in check for now, but it withered under the bombardment. The Imperial Guardsmen fired back, though their las fire and bolter rounds largely impacted with trees or the walls of ruins.

Then the void shield flickered out of existence once more, unable to hold up against the combined firepower any longer. A bolter round whipped past her head, causing her to duck behind the generator. Her heart raced and she knew that she needed to get away. Her hands sparked with psychic lightning and she pressed her palms against the console, crackling and frying the internal circuitry in a torrent of witchfire and psychic lightning. She was glad there were no members of the Adeptus Mechanicus around to see it.

“Guardsmen, fall back. We cannot stay here any longer!” she yelled at them, snapping off a couple of bolt pistol shots in the direction of the encroaching enemies. As the Guardsmen picked up their equipment and ran in the other direction, she followed, subtly using her skills at divination to aid their escape, directing them away from enemy fire and out of sight. They ducked into the basement of one of the ruined buildings and Alyssa concealed the entrance, her skills gained in an Imperial Guard light infantry company coming into play. She prayed to the Emperor that it would be enough.

Eventually, the sound of Tau and Space Marine forces dissipated. Alyssa would need to report this to Inquisitor Lord Chaylen.

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Lireia counted the soul stones of the deceased Eldar as her forces retreated into the webway gate that was linked to her flagship in orbit. Considering how many battles her Craftworld had been in, the number of soul stones that hung from her grip felt rather light. She had not suffered many losses, but she had to concede to Thalinia’s wisdom when she said that aligning with the humans would be their downfall. The Eldar would conduct a different campaign upon the planet’s surface. Every Aspect Warrior, barring a handful from the Striking Scorpion shrine, had transported off world; every vehicle apart from a handful of Vypers and War Walkers had departed. Only Rangers remained with a handful of Guardians, Vypers and War Walkers to watch over the Seer Council as they continued their search on the planet surface. She would not add any more soul stones to the collection in her hands.

Lireia handed the collection of stones to Exarch Araniel of the Howling Banshee shrine with a sombre smile.

“Take them to the Dome of the Crystal Seers on the Craftworld. Make sure their souls find peace in the Infinity Circuit.” Lireia nodded and turned to walk away.

“As you ask, Farseer,” Araniel responded, turning and walking into the webway gate, soul stones clasped in her hands.

Lireia still had to lead her Seer Council. Her mind had to be clear, her concentration had to be total. Searching for a psychic beacon and concealing the Seer Council’s movements from the Tyranids, agents of Chaos and the alliance of naivety. Autarch Thalinia would take the majority of the fleet back to the Craftworld, though Lireia did not relish meeting with her again once her assignment on Amarah Prime had been completed. Thalinia had been right, as usual.

The skeins of fate had proven difficult to interpret.

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