+ Back from Warhammer World, I have the Iron Warriors finished (insofar as any army is complete), and am filled with enthusiasm. +
+ Had an absolute blast, and hope to have a battle report or two to share at some point. In the meantime, I've got some army shots and a short story about the upcoming Basilikoi veterans that I hope you enjoy:
The Monstrous Hunt part IXung-hau, a Terran native whose forefathers had hailed from the Yndonesic Bloc, idly toyed with a lodge token as he waited. The Iron Warriors' pauldrons and breastplate were strung across with dozens of examples of the tiny silver medallions, each dangling on a fine bluesteel chain. They tinkled gently against his armour as he moved. Earlier in the war, he had dutifully bound each one with black adhesive tape, preventing it from moving or glimmering, but flame, water, time and wear had freed many of them.
Deep, deep in the Palace now, those entrusted with the Officia Monstrosa trod the long-forgotten haunts of vermin and the dispossessed. The Basilikoi prowled the area, clutching their esoteric weaponry. For days, they had bought scars from the Scars and met the Fists with clenched gauntlets of their own. Now, in this bell-shaped factory space, they hunted different prey.
A crackled chime in his helmet alerted Xung-hau. The Seventeenth Step was complete; each of his brethren in place. Hefting his charger, he nodded to Dromos, his brother with the mass-accelerator, then began sidling, crab-like, down the cobweb-strewn pipe in the old manufactory. Indulging an old habit, he counted backwards from twenty in his head, dismissing the rune countdown that had emerged on the Maximus plate's display. He looked back to see Dromos heft the heavy anti-materiel rifle, his blank faceplate betraying as little strain as it did emotion. His vision and audio-feed blanked out momentarily, his autosenses kicking in to protect him from the actinic white of the mass-accelerator's firing-cycle.
Almost instantly, the black flicked back to a grainy green and white view before popping back to multi-spectrum, and a wash of sound filled his helm. He emerged from the other end of the pipe into a scene of chaos. The catacomb-still factory space had erupted into a mass of choking dust clouds, shot through by shafts of golden light – some form of artificial sunlight, thought Xung-hau. It was certainly impossible for the natural sun to penetrate so far underground, even if it weren't turned from the tortured globe of Terra by the roiling clouds that choked the surface. Brickwork was still falling from the gaping hole in the achingly distant roof, made balletic and slow by the sheer scale of the factory space.
It was not only bricks that fell. Xung-hau's armour picked out a larger mass. A Legionary tumbled, his limbs grasping fruitlessly. He hit the ground with a sickening dead thump, audible to the Iron Warrior even at this distance. Their defensive redoubt undermined, the Angels were falling into the long-forgotten factory space, cloaked in the dust.
Not all the red-armoured warriors were dying. The boiling clouds of dust were lit from within by flickering red-orange lights, like the equatorial storms of his youth. Not jump-packs; the silhouettes were too narrow for that. Grav-chutes? Archeotech? Whatever was slowing the Blood Angels' fall, Xung-hau realised that the flickering lights he had taken for thrust exhaust were muzzle flashes. Some of the Ninth were firing as they fell. Hefting his charger, he and his squad returned fire, the ringed red beams stabbing out spitefully into the smoke, scorching and twisting the particles into weird, whipped curls and crests.
A moment of dead blackness told Xung Hau that the mass accelerator had fired again. Xung-hau grunted, grudgingly impressed, as he realised Dromos had struck one of the falling Angels with a direct hit. Two-thirds of the unfortunate legionary had been instantly crushed into a perfect sphere no larger than a ball bearing, the extreme physical effects of the weapon instantly arresting and reversing the warrior's fall. The tormented remainders whipped away into the darkness of the manufactory.
Those few Angels that landed were recovering impressively from the ambush, but too slowly, too fitfully; and the Iron Warriors were dug in. Within twenty seconds, perhaps a dozen were fighting fit, though nearly three score were returning fire in some way. The number dwindled rapidly, the cover afforded by the settling brickwork offset by the Iron Warriors' preparation, position and element of surprise. Nevertheless, the Imperials were undaunted. Seeing the situation to be hopeless, one of the IXth signalled a sally from their meagre fastment.
Xung-hau put the de facto leader down even as his hand fell, the beam of the death ray playing over the red plate momentarily before penetrating and reducing the Astartes to a cloud of superheated steam and blackened gristle. Before his weapon could recharge, those Angels able to move erupted from the dust with startling speed, a scant few evading the bitter storm. Perhaps three or four of the Blood Angels made it through the storm of fire into the blackness...