Brother Captain Tomar Elgos of the Raptors had studied the sector well, and based upon his studies believed that a rapid strike into the Grief system and a well-articulated assault would crush the Secessionists in short order. Brother Captain Tomar explained to his brother captains and the chapter master that in order to destroy the snake, one must cut the head off of it. There was much debate and discussion of the plans, the defenses, and the intelligence they had gained through the use of as yet loyal agents on Grief. During the discussions a priority code Prioris Maximus, Clearance Umbra/Amaranth/Omega communication was received from their contact on Grief. The communication simply stated "the Lion sleeps tonight" together with coordinates which were correlated to an out-lying defense post on Grief. The communique was seen as a great omen, for the Lion was none other than Lught Huron, Chapter Master of the Astral Claws, and the Tyrant of Badab. Plans were swiftly put into motion to land an assault force under the cover of night and several Thunderhawks were dispatched with a surgical strike force destined to take the fight to the head of the Astral Claws! The Raptors prepared their assault force to land and swiftly move on the isolated fortress to catch the Lion while he slept. Unforseen by the Raptors in the intial planning stage was a small satelite, too small to be of any use, or so they thought. The satelite detected the Raptors movements and in a short burst of coded transmissions informed the Astral Claws of the pending assault. The coded transmission was intercepted by the Raptors too late for them to do anything but hope that their plans would succeed because the reinforcements would not have sufficient time to reach the outpost before the assault was done.
The Raptors plan was to land a large compliment of space marines, three full squads in transports, a landraider, a predator, together with a bike squad and a devastator squad to land and immediately assault the bastions. As the assault moved forward, a strike squad of Vanguard Veterans led by Brother Captain Tomas Elgos would assault the bastions from deep strike using their jump packs while Brother Sergeant Borios Algernon led his scouts to a forward position and planted a locator beacon for Brother Captain Maron Deukalion and his squad of Terminators to teleport directly into the Lion's den! The landing of the majority of the strike force was done without incident and they were able to make excellent time and were ahead of their timetables. The Raptors quickly began the assault, blissfully unaware of the preparations made by Huron and the Astral Claws.
As the first sharp cracks of lascannon fire erupted, splitting the silence of the dawn, one of the bastions of the outpost was destroyed - the Raptors drew first blood. However, they were woefully unprepared for the onslaught of the Astral Claws. During the time between the satelite warning and the assault, a scant 30 minutes, Huron called upon his Strike Cruiser Invigilus Deus to drop an orbital bombardment on the strike force just before the Raptors reached the minefields surrounding the fortress. Huron laughed as the Raptors raced forward into his trap! The orbital bombardment from the Invigilus Deus landed right on target, the plasma torpedo burned through the hull of the Raptors Landraider with ease, leaving nothing but a smoking hulk. The Raptors were undaunted, they raced forward knowing that only speed and courage would see them through the day and hopefully a swift end of the secession, for they knew Huron was close at hand!
The Astral Claws then unleashed hell upon the Raptors, for the Raptors were unaware that the Invigilus Deus had teleported two devastator squads, and a full squad of Sternguard veterans directly into the fortress to bolster the defenses while two landraiders of the Astral Claws were dropped by Thunderhawk transports complete with two full tactical squads led by Brother Captain Kallistos Ptammitechus and the Masters of the Chapter. Huron boarded his Landraider Crusader with his bodyguard of terminators and the Astral Claws moved forth to counter-attack the Raptors!
Believing that a quick assault would turn the tide, Brother Captain Tomar landed with his Vanguard veterans, and met the silently deployed snipers of the Astral Claws. Before he knew it, Brother Captain Tomar had lost half of his squad. Then came the end, for the Astral Claws landraider redeemer burst forth from the fortress and the Flamestorm cannons belched forth gouts of death leaving only Brother Captain Tomar standing, but it was not for long as Kallistos burst forth from inside the landraider with his squad and assaulted him. Brother Captain Tomar's lightning claws bounced off the powerful energy fields of Kallistos storm shield and his iron halo was unable to deflect the blow of Kallistos thunderhammer.
Huron and his bodyguard intercepted Raptor's master of the hunt Brother Sergeant Rosarius Malikir and his bike squad on the bridge into the fortress. Huron lept from his transport and assaulted into the bike squadron. Huron met Raptor's Brother Sergeant Malikir and with murderous fury slew him. Huron, then moved forward and located Brother Sergeant Borios Algernon in the ruins of a portable bunker at the outer edge of the outpost. As Huron move forward all of the remaining big guns of the Raptors fired upon Huron and his bodyguard, all of them eventually falling to the onslaught of the Raptors Predator Annihilator, the devastator squad and dreadnought's fire power. However, the fire into Huron's bodyguard in a vain attempt to kill Huron was for nought. Huron burst into the ruins and found the Raptors scouts and with a gout of flame and the flicker of the Tyrant's claw, they were laid to rest. The last scout standing was Brother Sergeant Borios Algernon, who despite his famed skill with his stalker pattern bolter, was unable to slow or even wound the Lion Huron in his rage! Huron continued his bloody assault moving under cover to avoid the deadly fire of the massed Raptors.
Brother Captain Kallistos moved with speed by remounting his landraider redeemer and covered the distance between the fortress and the Raptor's battleline crushing two squads of Raptors who attempted to bar his path. Kallistos reached the Dreadnought of the Raptors and after dodging the blows of the venerable dreadnought, smashed through the defenses and destroyed it.
The plans for Brother Captain Maron Deukalion and his terminators to drop into the Lion's den were thwarted, the teleport station onboard the Raptors cruiser were jammed by the Invigilus Deus firing unknown warp torpedoes which scattered the signals of the locator beacons. When the scrambling efforts of the Invigilus Deus were done, the Raptors teleported Brother Captain Maron and his terminators directly into the Lion's Den, unfortunately, the Lion was beyond the walls and Maron and his brethren were standing in a carefully plotted killing field. Brother Captain Maron ordered his men to retreat back toward the Raptors assault approach, catching up with Huron's landraider crusader, only to find it still active and it easily outpaced the remaining terminators.
Huron meanwhile had moved silently through the ruins and cover of the battlefield only to emerge with the roar of his heavy flamer which landed squarely in the Raptor's devastator squad, followed by the savage form of Huron enraged! Huron's assault swiftly fell all of the devastators. The Raptor's realizing that they were out-witted fought their way clear of the battlefield taking as many wounded and dead brothers as they could carry. The toll on the Raptors was staggering, Captain Tomar was greviously wounded and would be out for weeks, if not months. Brother Sergeant and master scout Borios Algernon was similarly wounded and it would take some time for him to adjust to having a new cybernetic eye. However, the greatest loss was Master of the Hunt Brother Sergeant Malikir who was slain outright, his body never recovered from the ruins of his bike squadron. Huron surveyed the damage and his losses, 6 terminators were seriously wounded, but would recover, and the armor was saved to be repaired. Other losses were light and only one bastion of the outpost was seriously damaged. The Raptors had failed in their attempt to kill the Lion, for the Lion never sleeps. All transmissions from the Raptors agent fell silent, a vox cast into the void of his screams in pain were all that was heard by the Loyalist forces in the hours following the battle.
This battle was a 3,500 point Apocalypse battle with Matt R. leading the Astral Claws versus Jeff H. commanding the Raptors. Jeff H. set up the table and prepared the battlefield fortifications where he would assault the Tyrant. Armies were allowed to build anything up to 3,500 points including any Apocalypse formations. The Astral Claws took "the Masters of the Chapter" formation and fielded Huron and 5 other captains who were strategically placed with their own squads in various fortifications. Additionally, the Astral Claws took a landraider formation of three landraiders - but it wasn't very useful as the Raptors managed only a few glancing hits and only managed to destroy (wreck) one Landraider.
Jeff H. is the first player to lose one of his "build your own special character" models. Jeff had the bad luck to have three of his named special characters fall in battle. First to fall was his Brother Captain Tomar Elgos (who counted as Shrike), second was his build your own character, Veteran Sergeant and Master of the Hunt Malikir - who actually DIED in this game at the hands of the Tyrant. The last of his characters to fall was Veteran Sergeant Borios Algernon (Counts as Telion) in his scout squad. So Jeff has lost Shrike and Telion until Phase 2, unless he rolls a 4+ in which case they fight with reduced stats, Telion is BS 5, and LD 8, while Shrike is also BS 4, and LD 8.
So, for the first battle of Sector 3, the Secessionists have 16 points, the Loyalists 4.
More updates on Monday as the weekend battle reports flow in!