Friday, April 02, 2010

The Dolgath Legacy ~ Part 12: The fall of Ozimandias

Kannath Krom, the Kelten Primaris Psycher was old. The records Dolgath accessed for all the 5th Kelten Rifles senior officers showed his age at 497 Imperial Standard. And he looked it, as crooked and hoary as an ancient oak tree, he leaned upon a massive sword, the blade sheathed in a scabbard of dark carved wood chased in bronze that had gone green with the verdigris of age. His mad green eyes glared from underneath bushy brows and he carried on a muttered conversation with invisible companions. He was given a wide berth by most, as strange things had a tendency to happen around him – like the lasgun that was hovering in mid-air nearby disassembling and reassembling itself Yet most of the command staff, including Colonel Straus and the craggy iron-hard Lord Commissar Krull, seemed perfectly at ease in his presence. Despite this, the regimental HQ was a zimbee hive of activity, the officers engaged in issuing orders for deployment and rules of engagement for the coming battle.

Dolgath left the Keltens to their business as he saw a black Inquisitorial drop ship descending to the landing site. It deposited a huge cargo container on the ground with a heavy thud that he felt in his bones, and then it quickly dusted off and headed skyward. The loading door/ramp of the transport container slammed down sending up a billowing cloud of dust followed by the deep bass rumble of a massive set of engines firing up. Heads turned from every direction as the colossal tank rolled out into the light of day. Inquisitor Nelthas was true to her word, a Baneblade super-heavy tank. Such a thing was an uncommon sight even to the Keltens Rifles who were a line regiment. Most line regiments had a number of tanks of their own, but no super-heavies like this at their disposal. Yet, as Dolgath looked at the massive battle cannon and the bristling weapon emplacements of the oversized war engine, only one thought came to mind – Target. Every heavy gun in the enemy’s arsenal would be directed at this mass of metal and death. Never-the-less, perhaps that was its greatest value, it would draw huge amounts of fire as the rest of his army advanced unhindered to the objectives. Even so, if this massive behemoth was somehow destroyed, Dolgath knew he would owe substantial reparations to Inquisitor Nelthas – yet, somehow, that thought was not altogether unpleasant to ponder…

It was Colonel Straus who had conceived the master stroke, driving all Dolgath’s remaining forces to the heart of the Tao’s original drop zone. There he believed he could cut off all support to the invading elements where they could be subsequently isolated and destroyed piecemeal. Dolgath could not fault this strategy, yet the presence of Sylax and his Dark Eldar allies disturbed him. He did not know how Sylax had convinced the two disparate races to work together, but that somehow always proved to be Sylax’s particular brilliance… Their last battle, facing a combined force of Tao and Dark Eldar, had been fought to a stand-still. He guessed the alliance between the aliens was uneasy at best and he had no idea of the composition of the forces that would be arrayed against him this day. He had no choice but to proceed with every resource at his disposal.

The order had been given. His forces rolled forward toward the alien landing beacons with the goal to capture them and perhaps use their own signals to confound the enemy, or at the very least to destroy their safe landing zones. Dolgath himself, and his hand-picked retinue, charged on foot toward the central landing platform. He expected the sounds of engagement to reach him at any moment, but, save for the rumble of moving vehicles, all was quiet. He climbed to the top of the elevated landing pad and from this high vantage surveyed the battlefield… There was no sign of the enemy anywhere. Vox reports were coming in over the com-net, three beacons secured, two others within easy grasp. This was very strange. The hairs on the back of his neck began to stand up…

Suddenly, the vox chatter began to pick up, garbled reports coming in; hazy figures and fast flickering shapes was all he heard. Then he saw them, all sharp blades and speed, Dark Eldar raiders. They materialized behind his lines, as was their favored tactic, throwing his forces into confusion. A strong spearhead of the wicked aliens was aimed right for the heart of the Kelten command base. Dolgath realized he would need to act quickly and decisively to prevent the chaos, which the Dark Eldar engendered, running rampant through his forces. He executed his summons, where and when his Daemonhosts appeared was up to them, he could only hope they arrived in a time and place that would benefit the outcome of the battle. He also issued a command to his Callidus. No telling where she was lurking, but no doubt she was connected to the com-net and was listening in to the vox traffic guiding her to the best place for her to strike.

Just then, a shimmering appeared a scant fifty yards ahead near one of the alien beacons. A single scant squad of Penal Legionnaires lead by a Ministorum Priest was left to hold that objective as the rest of the armored column had moved toward a further uncontested objective. Dolgath instantly realized this beacon would surely fall into the enemy’s hands. As if on cue, a hoard of slavering beast of the warp appeared and charged howling ravenously toward the legionaries. A moment later a second shimmering appeared, what stepped through was as equally alien, yet this apparition was Carlostopheles, one of his Daemonhosts. It caught the Dark Eldar by surprise, flailing its inhuman tentacles in all directions.

The Dark Eldar spearhead driving toward the Kelten command was blunted somewhat by the hail of fire from the infantry platoon stationed there, as well as the hydra flak battery that redirected its fire at the Dark Eldar jet bikes screaming toward them. Much carnage ensued, but unfortunately, it was not enough, as Osimandias himself and his personal retinue rose form the wreckage and prepare to assault the hapless soldiers with their fell wickedness. Colonel Straus quickly realized he would need to make a stand in the face of this ancient evil. With a shout in praise of the Emperor, his HQ unit charged the sharp-bladed flickering death that was Osimandias.

Dolgath witnessed this assault only on the periphery as he suddenly found himself under the concerted assault of Dark Eldar witches and jet bikers. They carved through his henchmen in a matter of moments. Soon he found himself alone facing a hoard of drug-crazed svelte aliens intent on his unpleasant demise. He sent out a desperate summons as his ancient power blade parried the onslaught of poison-soaked Dark Eldar weapons. Suddenly a shimmering appeared behind the flailing aliens. One of his daemonhosts had answered his summons, but it was not Trellphegore as he was expecting, it was Gomezibub the one who had endured the violation by Trellphegore in his summoning chamber. At nearly the same moment, a dark shadow materialized behind the Dark Eldar bikers, the Callidus had arrived… The two of them carved through the aliens killing and dismembering the beautiful Eldar without pause. Dolgath was left standing in a circle of bodies covered in alien blood. He saluted his rescuers; he would not forget their service this day. Yet he quickly turned his attention toward the battle at the Kelten command.

Colonel Straus was old by human reckoning, 349 Imperial standard, yet he felt like an infant in the presence of the truly ancient alien standing before him. Strangely, the Dark Eldar looked young, his skin was supple and his frame was unbent, however the age in his eyes was something unfathomable. He moved with the kind of quickness and suppleness that surpassed any human youth, yet the countenance of his face portrayed a weariness that could only come from untold ages of bestowing death. Ozimandias cut through Straus’s command squad felling his bodyguards and his standard bearer. Only the desperate measures of his medic kept himself, Lord Commissar Krull and High Psycher Krom from falling. Both he and Krull had hued multiple times at Ozimandias with their glowing power blades, and yet somehow they failed to strike him. He seemed to flicker and be at multiple places at once. Each time they smote him his form would smile at them mockingly and dissipate into mist. Finally, Krom pulled his huge sword from its scabbard. The old man seamed to waver for a moment under its weight, too much for an elderly man. Then eldritch light began to form around the blade and seep into the man. Krom slowly stood to his full height like some ancient hero from the hoary old Kelten sagas, his long hair and beard seemed to flow in an unseen wind. He raised the massive sword and smote the alien once. For his part, Ozimandias seemed to almost be waiting for the blow. He stood unflinching watching for the strike as if he was judging its worthiness… The ancient force weapon, nearly as old as Ozimandias himself, blazed in emerald light as it struck him. The wound was almost superficial, yet the ancient eldar fell as if his spine had been severed. The power of the warp sucking out the remains of his twisted soul

Dolgath watched the fall of Ozimandias. He knew a great evil had been cleansed from the universe, and yet, he wondered, if it merely opened the door to even greater evil…

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