This is the second game of our “Invasion of Planet No’ohrm Ha’an D” series of battles, the second of the Aeronautica Imperialis missions that we’re doing to set the stage. The prior fluff is here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/02/the-invasion-of-planet-noohrm-haan-d/ and the recap of the first mission is here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/24/air-caste-in-retreat/. Plus the rules for running the Aeornautica Imperialis portion of the battles are here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/11/assault-neo-normandy-missions-1-strategic-air-war/. Enjoy!
Ezruin leaned in on the stick of the Nightwing fighter jet as it slipped near straight down to the surface of the planet below. He wanted to test the craft out a bit more in atmospheric flight, as he was not as familiar with the craft as some others. Archon Yraleath had connections somewhere on the Saim -Hann Craftworld, and had either bought, bartered, or pilfered thirteen Asuryani craft to form his own squadron of attack planes. Yraleath had dealt them out to his Dracons and Trueborn as gifts. And like all gifts from the Archon, these were double-bladed. Certainly their Craftworld cousins’ technology was excellent, and made for a sleek sky-borne force, and a handsome prize for each of Yraleath’s lieutenants. But at the same time none of them were expert pilots themselves, and Ezruin noted that the pair of Voidraven Bombers that the Archon used to supplement his raiding parties at times were nowhere to be seen amidst the attack. Was this yet another chance to potentially cull the various subordinates within the Kabal? If so, then Yraleath was foolish–as the more skilled would be more likely to survive. But then again, it may be a matter of setting them up in comparison to the well-trained Craftworlders whose blue jets and bombers had joined in the attack. A chance for Yraleath to berate the lack of skill of a Dracon by speaking well of a kin’s craft that beat them to the punch? Ezruin pulled back on the stick at the near last moment, his plane leveling out and barreling along the smoky ground. The distraction of these things would cost him. Focus on the mission.
Ezruin’s Nightwing had been fitted with underslung missile launchers, and served as a sort of torpedo bomber in design. Ride in low over the ground and loose missiles into the varied industrial and command-and-control targets that they had identified. Yraleath had some sort of network of scouts that had provided him information on critical targets of T’au logistics in advance. Ezruin hadn’t seen any Mandrakes slinking around the ship nor in the court of late, so he wondered if this was more collaboration with their Craftworld kin. Before the spread of the Ynnari into the streets and courts of Commorragh connections to the kin had been infrequent and often violent. Yraleath was no Corsair, but a proper Drukhari Archon, so these connections were unseemly to a Trueborn like Ezruin.
The Aeldari planes drew together into a wide formation, screaming toward the set of targets on the horizon. Their instructions were clear: destroy the critical infrastructure, down T’au planes where possible but if the foe hangs at range use defensive maneuvering and elevation changes to keep the defensive force chasing shadows. A trio of three Phoenix bombers raced ahead followed by a swarming cluster of the Craftworlders. Ezruin immediately noticed the difference–the Drukhari were all skilled, certainly. But they were not dedicated to the craft of flight in the way of their kin, not by a long shot. While his Kabal’s red planes flew in straight, swooping arcs, the blue planes of the Craftworld tore into all manner of complicated flight pathing, weaving in and out of each others’ way like some complicated ballet. Ezruin was impressed, will be more impressed if they could weave the death of their foes equally well.
In an instant, the battle was engaged in full, with planes from both sides criss-crossing each other amidst the complete dogfight. Ezruin kept his plane low, seeing the T’au anti-aircraft weapons spooling lines of flak fire thru the smoke. T’au fightercraft wove through the Aeldari forces, dropping plane after plane once they got closer. The thicket of fire was intense, but Ezruin finally loosed his two loads of missiles onto a T’au supply depot. The blossoming explosions caught some manner of ammunition depot inside, and the thing went off like a fireball–causing the hazy smoke of the sky to flash orange and nearly blind Ezruin.
Within just minutes the signal was relayed that all targets were hit and confirmed, and that flyers should return to their bays on the waiting Void Stalker starships that had puled back to low orbit after discharging them. Ezruin pulled the Nightwing sharply along a river canyon, low enough that the treeline obscured his progress. This was all part of the invasion plan, but the good part would be next. Fightercraft battles were fine, but the exhilaration of combat in person is where he would truly find some release. He could feel the dark whispers at the back of his mind, the pull on his soul. Soon enough, T’au blood would quiet them… at least for a stretch. The T’au at the actual beachhead should be suitably isolated thanks to this attack–their reserves delayed. While the Craftworlders wanted to get the world back as a whole, Ezruin knew that Archon Yraleath was not the sort to stick around for a protracted campaign. What he wanted and why remained to be seen.
So much painting, so little time. I added three new Nightwings to my Aeronautica force for the game. You can’t see it really clearly in the pics below, but they have missile launchers so they’re suited for the ground attack role (which is why I went sweptwing extended, and a “torpedo run” angle pointing more downward than my other planes.
This was the last Aeronautica event (as our current plans stand, at least), so I also put some energy into painting regular Drukhari forces for the next stages of our Neo-Normandy invasion (as well as for some boarding action fun coming up at our outstanding local game store, Drawbridge Games).
That meant adding even more Drukhari Wracks to my forces. Tried to batch paint them in greater numbers, but working on groups of five ultimately became what I could tolerate. Did five (above) with an Acothyst bearing a Mindphase Gauntlet and a Stinger Pistol plus one model with a Liquifier Gun. Then another five to round them out to ten, with another Liquifier Gun. Again, I remain pleased with how these models look when they’re finished. Having now finished up 20 total of them they’re getting to be a sizeable addition to the force.
I also wanted to finally add some Incubi to my army. They’re such cool models, and great in the game. They took some thinking on how I would paint them, so I’m sharing the test model I did up below. I wanted to ensure they were mostly in black armor, and that there was enough red to tie them to the others. I saw some professionally painted models that did white in part that I really liked, so I gave it a go myself.
Overall I’m pretty pleased, and the full squad of five is next up in my painting queue. This is good as a start, because I’m also likely to be dabbling in a bit of Craftworlds Aeldari as I go forward, so working out the balance of aspect shrines with my own army overall colors will be a long term goal. Incubi are technically aspect warriors themselves, which is cool. So more ahead!
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 122 PL
Aeronautica Imperialis Aeldari: 373 points