This is the third game of our “Invasion of Planet No’ohrm Ha’an D” series of battles, the first of the commando raids to simulate drop troops of the Aeldari striking Tau emplacements on the eve before the battle. The prior fluff is here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/02/the-invasion-of-planet-noohrm-haan-d/ and my site has recaps of the prior air missions. The rules for the Commando Raids can be found here: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/02/13/assault-on-neo-normandy-missions-2-commando-raids/. Enjoy.
Warlock Baranyl stood on the deck of the Saim Hann command ship, watching the monitors scroll with image captures. Coordinating an attack across two different Craftworlds was a lot of work, and adding in the unpredictable and highly irregular forces of some Drukhari brethren was all the more of a nightmare. Her role was to speak to the ship’s spirit stones that processed battle information and enhanced command-and-control. And the “wraiths” were… unruly… given the strange bedfellows.
The morning would see the ground assault committed in full, landing on a beachside city to extract the Aeldari artifacts that brought the combined assault to this planet in the first place. Tonight was a series of coordinated commando raids to capture some of the nearby villages and destroy some of the heaviest of mech-suits in their motor pools so that forces the next day were divided in response, allowing the assault to slip in and disgorge the troops needed at the site of the main battle.
The Tau ground forces had posted picket lines of sentries around their facilities, and while their heavier units were at the ready there was still some element of surprise. The Tau scouts, so graceless and clunky in their shod footsteps, were all keyed into displays on the system as they patrolled the grounds. Even the stealthiest amongst this young race were like lowing bovine on the plains with the noise they made compared to the silently approaching Aeldari. A number of sentries were eliminated by the fast-moving Drukhari on their skyboards, which opened the window to then bring the drop forces screaming down via Wave Serpents and Venoms alike.
The Craftworld forces were tasked with capturing a hamlet where a number of the larger battlesuits were waiting in reserve. Meanwhile the Drukhari dove into the main Tau infantry and smaller battlesuit forces with abandon. Baranyl watched the feeds and saw the moments where Drukhari were taking pleasure in the torment they inflicted upon the Tau soldiers. A sudden flash, deep within her, rose for but a brief moment. Like a whisper from She Who Thirsts, a memory of what her people had locked away and retreated from all those ages ago. Baranyl shook her head in disgust. The sooner these forces were split the better.
As the Aeldari forces started to reach their target markers Baranyl was pulled out of those dark thoughts. She could feel the various threads of motion all captured in the spirit matrix of her ship, feeding back all the impressions across the battlefield. Her concern focused on the heavier battlesuits, as those would be the ones most jeopardizing their forces in the morning. A contingent of Wraithguard with Wraithcannon unloaded on one of the larger suits, and while a pure hurricane of missile shots and large laser blasts were returned, the Tau suit caught the worst of the exchange as chunks of its superstructure were displaced with the blasts.
Chancing a look back toward the feeds from the Drukhari command net, Baranyl observed that they had deployed numerous winged jump troops they referred to as “Scourges”. At first glance they seemed like the noble Swooping Hawks aspect warriors with their wings, but she quickly realized that those were grafted, living tissue wings. Whether birds or bats, the warriors had mutilated their own bodies to provide them with that mobility on the battlefield. She shuddered in renewed disgust.
The battle was close amidst the barracks sector, where the Drukhari and Tau were near-even in exchanging destruction with each others’ forces. The Drukhari way of war was elegant but cruel, and they chanced far too much at seeing the destruction in the eyes of their prey up close. On her Craftworld monitors she saw much more orderly advance: Falcon grav tanks landing aspect warriors into cover to slowly make their way forward with suppressing fire. She honed in on a bright spot: a unit of Fire Dragons had downed one of the big suits, but was pinned down into cover and losing members from the ranged fire response of the enemies.
A screen started flashing as another Tau priority target was engaged. Baranyl flashed to that screen in time to see another monstrosity–some twisted Drukhari construct–tear into the Tau battlesuit from behind. She could see the flesh of the thing’s neck and arms, but otherwise it was mechanical. It floated on a repulsor motor like a distended marsh suckerfly, full up on blood from some woeful host. Finally it tore free the reactor from the back of the suit, and with a “whoomp” the Tau weapon of war imploded. Chunks hung limply from the Drukhari creature itself, critically damaged in the explosion. Baranyl wished its demise, unsure if because of revulsion or pity for whatever vestige of life remained inside the cruelly-fashioned thing.
Alerts started to sound, as in both drop sites the Tau commanders were taking a toll on Aeldari forces. Some of the most capable warriors on the Tau side were engaging with precision and destructive armaments, landing devastating damage onto the Aeldari forces. One feed caught a Tau commander surging forward on jet propulsion, his missile pods blasting into the terrain where the remaining Fire Dragons were hunkered. While the commander inflicted damage, the loss of all of the larger suits started to be felt and Baranyl responded to the tactical command from the fleet “target complete: withdraw to safe engagement range” by passing it through the varied units via the matrices.
The Drukhari drop site was an utter mess, with both sides in near ruin. The Drukhari commander himself, Archon Yraleath, had insisted on being part of this raid–even tho he was also planning on joining the central invasion in the morning. Despite all the losses around him, he launched into battle with one of the Tau Commanders. From Baranyl’s vantage point it was almost like he was toying with the commander: his blade struck key points numerous times but was always turned in a way to not pierce the armor. What is he up to? she wondered. Why are his strikes so cautious and hesitant? Why is he not slicing them down? She made a note to raise this to her own commander. As the Tau suit blazed away with its firepower despite the close proximity, the Archon was a bit slow and caught a plasma blast that seared away a section of armor on his chest. He immediately sprang backward in a rush, darting back between the obstructions of the battlefield to safety. He’s hearty and capable even injured, so why the hesitance in the fight?
The Aeldari drop site had been thoroughly scoured of heavy troops, and captured by their forces. The Drukhari site much more closely fought–one town building barely controlled by a few straggling troops while the Tau Commander sheltered in the structure that dominated the other side of town. As close to a draw as possible. It was clear the Drukhari needed the Aeldari to pull of this raid in every way, and that applied even to the ground-level combat it seemed. So why did Archon Yraleath hold back so in his assault? What was his game?
Baranyl filed those thoughts to mention to her commander soon, and turned her attention to the other set of commando missions about to unfurl: strikes on the very heaviest Tau weapons of war. She hoped all this was worth the destruction, that the artifacts recovered would lead toward the path of wholeness and peace. Not in the moment surely, but in generations. She could hope.
I’ve been toying with some Ynnari plans for my Aeldari forces lately, so finished up a group of Aeldari Rangers with Saim Hann colors (that of course match my Drukhari color scheme).
I’ve also been working on some Battletech miniatures recently, as the new models coming out for that game are finally not hideous enough that I’m willing to give it a go with my friends. I always enjoyed the crunchy style games with the hit locations, so I’m kind of keen to get into it more. I decided on Clan Jade Falcon mostly because of the cartoon show from back in the day, hah. The colors are a bit John Deere, but I dig them. I started with a base of Elementals, a Mongrel, and the iconic Clans Timber Wolf.
So yeah, a fair amount of painting progress completed. More fun ahead as well!
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 143 PL
Aeronautica Imperialis Aeldari: 373 points
Battletech Clan Jade Falcon: Timber Wolf, Mongrel, Elementals (x1)