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Tooth and Claw
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Tooth and Claw: Battle #3 ("Rescue"): The Lady or the Tiger?
Dark Eldar vs. Space Wolves, 1500 points each
By Patrick Eibel and Kenton Kilgore

When the stone door to her cell finally ground open and the Dark Eldar came for her, Fighting Tiger Captain Jirbu Ghosh was ready. She had lain for a long time, perhaps days, stripped of her armor and heavily chained, on the hard granite floor, where a thin layer of gravel chafed her with every movement she attempted. She had passed the time by recalling her training and by reflecting on particular verses of the Rigsamayajur Mahaduyana, the sacred text of her Chapter. And her current incarnation was not the first to die by torture. She was ready.

Silver-gloved hands hauled her from the floor. Four Dark Eldar hoisted her up, and only with difficulty. A fifth unshackled her bare feet. A robed figure wearing a silver mask addressed her. “Well, here’s our golden girl. My name is Dr. Jheste.” He pronounced the name like the word for a joke. “Let’s go for a little ride, dear.”

They led her through twisting hallways carved from stone. From a side passage came a human scream—a man. One of the Space Wolves taken in the raid that had also snared her?

“Where are we?” she asked. She did not seriously expect an answer, but her training required her to learn as much information as she could. 

“We’re in the city Tharalon, deep beneath a mountain range on your planet,” answered Jheste. “Or should I say, on our planet. Really, it belongs to us, you know.” 

Jheste was either supremely confident that she would never live to tell this information or he was a fool. Or perhaps both. Jirbu Ghosh pressed on as they led her out into an enormous dark cavern faintly illuminated by patches of glowing fungi. “What do you want with me?”

“Want with you? Why, nothing. The fact is, we’re letting you go.”

She stifled a smirk at the obvious lie. They made their way down shadowy streets filled with hundreds of Dark Eldar, who eyed her like hungry dogs. All of them wore the distinctive blue and silver uniform of the Ozone Scorpions. “Where are you taking me?”

“To a hanger, of course. Where we will board a craft and release you in a safe location.” 

She asked many more things—how many Dark Eldar were here, how they had bypassed the Tigers’ early warning systems and arrived on Veda, where their leader was—but Jheste said no more. 

Before they entered the hanger, she was blindfolded, then led aboard what she supposed was a Raider craft. Chains secured her to the deck. Several Dark Eldar, including Jheste, accompanied her. She heard the whine of many jet engines and knew that many other craft were joining them. She felt the craft gracefully lift off the ground, then suddenly rocket ahead, the acceleration pressing against her like an enormous hand. After a time that seemed no longer than three heartbeats, the craft came to a sudden halt, jerking her forward. 

The air was warm and humid. Gloved hands unshackled her from the deck, hoisted her to her feet. Her blindfold was removed. It was evening on the plain. They had landed on a dusty path. Off in the distance, she could see the jungle. The Dark Eldar helped her off the Raider and loosened her bonds. “You see?” said Jheste, spreading his hands. “You’re free to go.”

A spark of hope sprung in Jirbu Ghosh’s breast and she fought to squash it. The ancient texts teach that the Dark Eldar are incapable of kindness, she reminded herself. They can no more do good than one can lift one’s self off the ground by tugging at one’s boots. She looked around. None of the other Raiders she had heard were in sight. Had she imagined them? Or had that been some illusion of the Ozone Scorpions?

Still….

Jirbu Ghosh turned her back on them and began to walk down the path, expecting the Dark Eldar to shoot. She counted each footstep as her last. Surely they would open fire with their splinter rifles. Surely they would chase her down with their scorpion-like Warp Beasts. Surely they would not let her go, when they had taken so much trouble to capture her.

Jirbu Ghosh kept walking. She stole a glance backward. Jheste waved nonchalantly. 

When she was about 300 yards ahead of them, she started to run. Still they did not pursue. Jirbu Ghosh ran. And ran. And ran.

The tiger—a male, with a dull mustard colored coat broken by chocolate brown stripes—padded through the high grass in search of its mate. When the Dark Eldar Raider had swept down upon them from the sky, its passengers firing their splinter rifles, the male and the female had scattered, fleeing in instinctive panic. The male had run southwest, finally halting in a grove of trees. He had crouched there, hiding, until he could no longer smell the scent of alien machinery lubricated with human innards, could no longer hear the cruel laughter of the original masters of Veda.

But now, with the danger past, the tiger had to find his mate, who was carrying their unborn cubs. 

He padded through the grass, halting briefly as the more strange sounds—the discharge of weapons, the screams of the dying—echoed over the veldt. He sniffed the air. More Dark Eldar scents, and other scents, too, similar to the humans that huddled in their villages nearby. The scents—and the battle—were far off, though, in the jungles beyond. He pressed on, in search of his mate.

The tiger found what was left of her. The Dark Eldar had followed her and not him. Their rifles had stolen the strength from her legs. Their blades had carved their cub from her womb. 

He threw his head back and roared to the uncaring sky. Animal fear had given way to animal rage. Now he followed the scent of the Dark Eldar, toward the jungle. Toward wherever they may be. 

Dr. Jheste turned to Eklavdrah. “By now,” he said, “our newly-released captive has realized that we are no longer jamming the Personal Distress Transmitter she has hardwired into her left clavicle. Doubtless, she has activated it and a force of Space Wolves is on its way to retrieve her.”

“Doubtless, they will be expecting us to attack,” Eklavdrah said.

“Then let’s not disappoint them,” he replied. “Here are the orders. First, we gather up Jirbu Ghosh, our lovely piece of bait, and bring her back for further fun and games. Then we collect some more Wolf pelts.” 

“Yes, Doctor.” Eklavdrah spread the word to the other Raider Squads, already miles ahead and in position.

EklavdrahJirbu GhoshDr. Jheste
Can Jirbu Ghosh (center) escape the clutches of Eklavdrah (right) and Dr. Jheste? (left)

Set up
In Battle #2, we had made an error with the Reserve rules, so though Kenton technically won that battle, Pat received the “Spoil of War” in compensation. Pat picked A: Winner may choose one item of wargear (worth no more than 10 points). He decided to award Wolf Guard Balder with a wolf tooth necklace, which he would be allowed to use for the rest of the campaign. 

This battle was a standard “Rescue” mission, with the character Jirbu Ghosh as the objective to be claimed. Inspired by the famous short story, “The Lady and the Tiger,” we also nominated one of the counters to be a ferocious Vedic tiger, with the following stats:
 
 
WS
BS
S
T
W
I
A
Ld
Sv
Tiger
4
0
4
4
2
4
2
8
6+

Counter #1 was the tiger, which would promptly attack any unit unlucky enough to discover it. Counters #2-5 were meaningless, and Counter #6 was Jirbu Ghosh. 

The other change we made to the mission was to remove the requirement that counters must be placed at least 12" from a board edge. The table we were playing on was 4' x 4', and we didn’t have enough room to deploy all six counters 12" away from each and 12" from a table edge. Still, we did a fair job of keeping them away from the board edges. 

We deployed our Troops units as per the rules for “Rescue.” Pat chose to deploy Gray Hunter Squad Mimir on foot and asked if he could, for this game only, re-assign Mimir’s Rhino to his Long Fang pack. I had no objections. Pat won the die roll to begin the game and elected to go first.

Initial deployment
Initial deployment. 
Squad Mimir (foreground, left) is poised to easily grab a counter, but so are the Raiders

Turn 1
“Jirbu Ghosh is around here somewhere,” Balder told his men, as they moved along. Night was falling, the setting sun casting lengthening shadows over the grassy plain. They passed by an ancient bunker nearly destroyed thousands of years ago when the Warband Bloodcomet invaded Veda in the name of Khorne. Now, the bunker was overgrown with weeds and vines.

“And it’s a fair bet that if the svartalfir have let her go,” continued Balder, “then they’re up to some deviltry.”

Skarl, Balder’s right-hand man, checked a nearby thicket. “Not there, sir. And I’m not getting any more readings from her transmitter. Could be a malfunction—”

“It’s no malfunction,” Balder snarled. “They’re jamming it. They’re playing with us again, like they did with Ossi and Hurgrin.”

“Movement up ahead, sir!” called Hans.

Balder peered ahead. Several hundred yards away, five Dark Eldar squads were spread out in the high grass, their Sky Scorpion Raider craft following along. The svartalfir were searching the area, intent on their prey, and had not yet seen Squad Mimir. The whiff of a familiar smell came to Balder’s nostrils. 

“She’s just up ahead,” Balder said. “Hiding in the ditch alongside the road. She knows they’re looking for her. If we can reach her before they spot—”

Too late. With a cry, a pack of Dark Eldar swept upon her. Jirbu Ghosh leapt up from her hiding place, smashed one of the Scorpions in the face with a stone, and started running. But the Dark Eldar were faster. They snagged her in a silver net, its dozens of envenomed barbs instantly tranquilizing her. She fell and did not move. 

“Damn it, they have her,” Skarl said. He hefted his bolter. “It’s a long shot, but maybe—” 

A tremendous roar split the air. “Wait,” cautioned Balder.

In its search, one Dark Eldar squad had stumbled across a male Vedic tiger. The beast leapt out of a tree, crashing into two of them. As they fell and screamed in panic, the rest of the squad opened fire. Balder motioned for his men to move forward as all eyes turned to the tiger. 

The great cat ignored the flechettes of the splinter rifles and swung its huge paw at the squad’s leader, who bore a grisly trophy rack adorned with Space Wolf helmets and a white tiger pelt. Shouting, the squad leader leapt backwards and fired her pistol, taking out one of the tiger’s eyes, but that didn’t slow the beast down. It tossed two more of the svartalfir aside as it bore down on her. Before it could reach her, one of the Dark Eldar fired a black blaster beam through its skull and the animal fell. 

The tiger attacks!
Above: The tiger attacks Eklavdrah's squad 
(I bet you had no idea that stuffed animals get a 6+ Save, did ya?)

As the squad began to haul Jirbu Ghosh back to their Raider, the pilot of the vehicle looked up in alarm. Shouting to the others, he goosed the accelerator and rocketed toward Squad Mimir. The other Raiders followed. 

“Damn it, they didn’t stay distracted for long. Now they have us, too!” Balder cursed. “Get down!” 

It was no use. The disintegrator of the first Raider fired, catching five of Balder’s men—including Skarl—and atomizing them. Not even their armor was left. The Dark Eldar cheered and hooted with glee. 

Balder looked up as the Raiders closed in. “That’s their ass,” he growled.

Turn 2
“That—that—THING nearly disemboweled me!” Eklavdrah spat. She slapped Azhyr so hard he staggered and nearly dropped his blaster. “And you, you Grox-raping idiot—what part of ‘kill it’ didn’t you understand the first dozen times I gave the order? When I want something shot, I want it shot NOW, not when it fits into your personal schedule!” 

Cursing, Eklavdrah kicked the tiger corpse in the belly and looked up. Squad Moryl, under Sybarite Kharynydia, had found Jirbu Ghosh and would gain the reward Jheste had promised them. That is, Eklavdrah thought, if Khary and her lackeys make it back to base with the Tigers’ precious captain. Let’s just see if—

Her thoughts were cut off by bolter fire. A Rhino full of Gray Hunters had appeared, emerging from their vehicle and firing at the Raiders that had surged ahead to hold off interfering Space Wolves. Their guns did some minor damage to one Raider, then the Wolves charged another, throwing off the pilot’s control. Neither Raider would be firing back anytime soon.

Raiders zoom in on Pack Roskva
Above: Gray Hunter Pack Roskva fires on Vhlondryll's Raider

The first Gray Hunter squad—the one that had lost half their number to a disintegrator blast—got up, advanced, and fired as well, but they were out of range. Their leader, an older fellow with a power fist, kept his eyes riveted on Jirbu Ghosh, and Eklavdrah smiled. Maybe I won’t have to get rid of Khary after all. I think she’s on the top of this Space Wolf’s list.

Another Rhino appeared. Four Marines got out the top and clambered onto the low roof of the ancient bunker. Three of them toted heavy bolters, death to any Dark Eldar. Worse, a Whirlwind rumbled into position behind the building and raised its rockets, preparing to fire. Eklavdrah signaled to her lover, Vhlondryll, leader of Squad Alyval, that she wanted the Long Fangs killed and the Whirlwind destroyed. Now.

Two Land Speeders—a Typhoon and a Tornado—shrieked across the plain, firing. The Typhoon killed one of Khary’s toadies, while the Tornado sent a half dozen heavy bolter rounds through the fuselage of the Raider that had killed the five Gray Hunters, crashing it and killing the pilot. Eklavdrah was starting to feel much better. With her ride destroyed, Khary would be easy pickings for the Space Wolves—or for Eklavdrah’s crew—and the reward for Jirbu Ghosh would belong to Eklavdrah. As it should be.

As Vhlondryll's Raider raced toward the Long Fangs, the other Raiders continued to move forward and fire. Four of the Archon’s guard, Reavers, rocketed ahead, intent on meeting up with Vhlondryll's squad. In addition, a Raider full of Silver Scorpions—Wyches by another name—appeared, also firing its dark lance. Soon, the missile launcher and the heavy bolter of the Typhoon were disabled, allowing the Dark Eldar on foot to fall back. No need to risk close combat with the fearsome Space Wolves when the prize was already won….

Turn 3
Venerable Dreadnought Ferin Ironhammer was angry. 

He had already fought two battles against these Ozone Scorpions and had seen what they were capable of. They were just as fast, just as deadly, just as crafty as any other Kabal he had fought against in his long existence. That didn’t anger him. They were utterly ruthless in combat and had no conception of the value of life, including their own. That didn’t anger him. They had taken several of his men prisoners, had killed several others in many horrible ways, and had wounded many of them, including Ferin himself. That didn’t anger Ferin either. 

What angered Ferin was that these Dark Eldar, these Ozone Scorpions, thought that they could play the Space Wolves, the greatest Space Marine Chapter ever founded by the Imperium, for fools. Hence this little game where they pretended to let Jirbu Ghosh go so as to lure his men into a trap. They thought that the Space Wolves would not see through it. And THAT was what made Ferin Ironhammer angry.

As he stepped out of a drop pod launched minutes ago from the starship Munnin, he leveled his new heavy bolters—replaced after the last battle—and fired at a Raider craft as it went whizzing by. The Raider shuddered and the pilot desperately fought to control it. 

Looking around, Ferin could see that Wolves were once again inflicting significant damage on the Dark Eldar. Balder and his remaining men moved forward and fired on a fully-loaded Raider heading for the Long Fangs. They shot off its disintegrator, then swung wildly as it screeched overhead, to no avail—the craft was too fast. Still, it had been defanged. The Land Speeder Tornado “Ragnarok” emptied its assault cannon into another Raider, crippling its grav-engines. The Dark Eldar pilot screamed as his craft plowed into the dry earth and burst into flames. 

The Whirlwind “Kraken” fired off a salvo that went wide, missing the Dark Eldar that held Jirbu Ghosh. No matter. The Long Fangs raised their heavy bolters and shot down another Raider. The Dark Eldar had but three left, and one had no weapon. Ferin chuckled grimly as Squad Roskva mounted up into their Rhino and followed the Long Fang’s Rhino into the thick of the fight. They would teach the Scorpions to respect them….

But the Dark Eldar were not beaten yet. Their leader, the silver-masked Dr. Jheste, arrived on the scene with the Talos that always accompanied him, and a pack of Warp Beasts suddenly materialized nearby. Jheste waved forward the Talos and the Warp Beasts and then joined the squad dragging away Jirbu Ghosh, leading them into a thicket, where they would have some protection from the Space Wolf guns. The Talos floated ahead without him, firing its sting wildly and—by a stroke of luck—bringing down the weaponless “Maelstrom” Typhoon Speeder. 

The Raider that Balder and his men had shot at flew over the heads of the Long Fangs and the Ozone Scorpions scrambled down their scaling nets to land directly in front of the Wolves’ heavy weapon team. Confident in their ability to slay the Long Fangs in hand-to-hand combat, the Dark Eldar fired on Squad Mimir, killing two of them, then charged. Their Sybarite stabbed Veteran Sergeant Ingmr with her poisoned blades, then hacked off his head and stuck on her trophy rack One of the Long Fangs swung his heavy bolter like a club and splattered the head of one the Scorpions, and the fight went on. 

Ozone Scorpions whupping up on the Space Wolves
Reavers charge Squad Mimir (center); Vhlondryll's squad takes on the Long Fangs (left)

The Wyches’ Raider, with all of the elite warriors aboard, fired at Roskva’s Rhino, no doubt hoping to crack it open so that the Wyches could do their work. It missed. One squad of Warriors on foot fired at “Ragnarok;” most of them were out of range, but the splinter cannon struck true, igniting the magazine on the Land Speeder Tornado. Another lucky shot, another Speeder down. Ferin cursed. 

The four Reavers zoomed closer, firing at Ferin, but their blasters were out of range. With a whoop, the Reavers crashed into Pack Mimir, but Balder and his two surviving men were ready. They dodged the Reavers’ blades and Balder smashed one of them with his power fist. Crazed on combat drugs, the Reavers circled like sharks, waiting for the right moment to attack again. Balder and his men stood back-to-back and waited. 

Meanwhile, all the other Dark Eldar moved back, back, taking Jirbu Ghosh, their prize, with them, and as they retreated, Ferin heard them laugh as they imagined themselves more clever by far than the Space Wolves. Ferin knew their thoughts. They would dangle Jirbu Ghosh before the Space Wolves, tempting them ever closer, closer, and always the Dark Eldar would stay just out of range, picking them off with their rifles and heavy weapons, until not one Fenrisian escaped. That is what these Ozone Scorpions thought. That was how little they thought of their foes. 

Ferin was angry. Very angry. And he would teach the Ozone Scorpions to respect him and his men.

Turn 4
“Hello again, dear girl,” said Dr. Jheste. He knelt beside Jirbu Ghosh, bound in chains and still anesthetized from the barbed net that had snared her. “How’s my favorite patient?” Her eyes were glassy, her breathing shallow. Despite the heat and her exertions, her skin was cool to the touch.

“It’s always so hard to sedate Space Marines,” Jheste told Kharynydia and her crew. “The young captain has enough venom in her to slay an entire platoon of Guardsmen, but her metabolism should enable her to shake it off soon. We’d better get her back home before she revives and starts causing problems.”

“What about them?” asked Kharynydia. Beyond the thicket, the Space Wolves were fully engaged in a ferocious battle. Lars and his bodyguard of Terminators had arrived via drop pod, as Ferin had, and were clambering onto the roof of the bunker to aid the Long Fangs against Vhlondryll’s squad. The Long Fang’s Rhino disabled the dark lance on the Wyches’ Raider. The Rhino belonging to Pack Roskva skidded to a halt not far from Eylservs’ crew and the Gray Hunters stepped out, guns blazing. All of them but the Sybarite perished; Eylservs wisely turned and ran for his worthless life. 

Squad Roskva guns down Dark Eldar
Above: Gray Hunter Pack Roskva guns down Squad Tormtyr, led by Eylservs

“Well, they could be a problem,” Jheste said. “Not a problem for you and me, mind you, but a problem nonetheless.” He began twisting the runes on his webway portal puzzlebox, seeking to open a gateway back to the underground city of Tharalon. 

Kharynydia nervously peered through foliage as Ferin threw himself into the fight between the Reavers and Squad Mimir. One of the Reavers managed to knife another of Balder’s men before the Gray Hunters and the Venerable Dreadnought killed the three remaining bikers. Raising a ruined jetbike over his “head,” Ferin smashed it to the ground and howled in rage, all the Wolves answering him.

“What have you got us into?” Kharynydia asked Jheste. “The Wolves have gone absolutely berserk. They’ll kill us all. Get us out of here!”

“Don’t bother the doctor now, dear, I’m working.” Jheste’s fingers were sweating—Damn this heat!—and he had to re-start the combination on the webway portal. A wrong configuration might open up a gateway to somewhere thoroughly unpleasant to visit this time of year….

Vhlondryll’s squad swarmed over the Long Fangs, killing another, but the old Space Wolves stood firm, taking another Scorpion with them. Lars and his Terminators plowed into Vhlondryll’s unit, killing four more. Suddenly, the Dark Eldar seemed to be in a great deal of trouble. 

There was a high whistling sound and then a tremendous THOOOM and suddenly Jheste, Kharynydia, and her squad found themselves on the ground, smoke and falling foliage filling the air. The Space Wolves’s Whirlwind had found its range. Two of Kharynydia’s crew were dead, and surely more of them would join She Who Thirsts unless Jheste got the portal open. 

“Jheste!” Kharynydia shrieked. “Hurry up, damn you!”

Jheste sat up, shook his head, and looked around. “Where’s the box?” he asked.

“What do you mean, ‘Where’s the box?’ You just had it in your hands!” 

“I dropped it when I fell,” he snapped. “Now help me find it, you witless slut, or none of us are getting out of here.”

“You heard him!” Kharynydia yelled to her squad. “Get up and find the portal box! Do it now, now, NOW!”

As the warriors searched the brush, Jheste got to his feet. “Blygos,” he called into the comlink in his mask, “we’re having a little bit of a problem back here. I’m counting on you to convince our friends that they don’t want to come this way.”

“As you wish, Doctor,” came the whispering reply. The Succubus Blygos used sign language to convey his orders, and his elite Silver Scorpions leapt from their Raider, two of them firing their shredders at Ferin. Their monofilament webs wrapped around him, scratching off the paint on his armored hide—and severing every hydraulic cable from his waist down. Ferin tried to take another step forward and couldn’t, rooted to the spot. 

“Better,” said Jheste. Blygos’ squad charged into Pack Roskva, slaying two of them, forcing the Gray Hunters back and following after them. “Much better,” Jheste added. His Talos floated past the squads of retreating Dark Eldar regulars, firing on Roskva and killing two more of them. As soon as his Talos caught the Gray Hunters, they would all die slowly and painfully. Jheste was pleased.

Carnage as the Wyches attack
The Silver Scorpions press the attack (center) as the Terminators win the bunker (left)

Atop the bunker, Vhlondryll’s squad fought a doomed battle against the Long Fangs and Terminators. Their pistols and bayonets were no match for the Space Wolves’ armor. Methodically, almost patiently, the Wolves smashed through them with their power fists. Vhlondryll yanked Ingmr’s head from her trophy rack and threw it at Lars. He reached out to catch it, and that was all the time Vhlondryll needed. Leaping from the top of the bunker, she landed the wrong way and snapped her leg. Gnashing her teeth in agony, she crawled into a nearby thicket while storm bolter fire erupted around her. From there, she began crawling, as best she could, back towards the others. 

Jheste looked around and found his webway portal box under a fern. “Ah, here it is,” he said, and picked it up. He sat down next to Jirbu Ghosh, who was staring at him in cold fury. “Don’t worry, dear,” he said. “Soon this will be over and we’ll all go home.” 

Turn 5
Wolf Guard Hodur, commander of Pack Roskva, felt an instant of fear as the Silver Scorpions charged. In his first battle on Veda, these elite warriors—or ones like them, anyway—had cut down his squad to a man, their leader almost effortlessly slicing Hodur’s hand from his arm. The Fighting Tiger Apothecaries had re-attached his hand, but it was still tender. For an instant, he cringed before them—and then he remembered himself.

“Open fire!” he shouted, and as one, his squad and the two last members of Pack Mimir let loose. The Silver Scorpions fell, moments before their blades could tear through the Gray Hunters. Hodur planted his foot on the Scorpion leader’s back and fired a few more shots into him for good measure.

“That’s for the hand, whoreson,” he snarled.

The Dark Eldar try to hold on
Above: The Ozone Scorpions try to hold out against the Space Wolf onslaught

The rest of the Space Wolves were firing as well. The “Kraken” lobbed another volley towards Jheste and Kharynydia’s squad, but the shot went wide, killing one of Relonarr’s crew, which was nearby. The two surviving Long Fangs gunned down four of Eklavdrah's squad, who had been moving toward Jheste. The Terminators fired at the advancing Talos, but their assault cannons did it no harm. Finally, Ferin—though unable to walk—fired his heavy bolters into Relonarr’s squad, killing three more.

“Come on!” yelled Balder. Power fist cocked back, he and his last man raced Pack Roskva to the Silver Scorpions’ Raider. Grabbing the scaling nets, Balder vaulted onto the deck and crushed the pilot like an insect before he could free himself of the restraints. The craft lurched, and Balder smashed the controls before leaping clear of the explosion. 

“Look out!” yelled Hodur. The Warp Beasts scuttled nimbly between the flaming pieces of wreckage and leapt upon Pack Roskva. Hodur dimly noted that a horrible, rapid clicking was the only noise the Beasts made. One jabbed its barbed tail clean through Urdric before he could raise his bolter. Enraged, Hodur and his men fought back, firing, stabbing, slashing, punching, until the corpses of the Warp Beasts lay dissipating at their feet. Of their bestial master, there was no sign.

“By Oth, what is THAT?” one of Hodur’s men exclaimed. Hodur turned to see the Talos bearing down on them. 

Turn 6
The Space Wolves were closing in, and Jheste could feel victory slipping from his hands. This little jaunt and the plan to release Jirbu Ghosh as a lure for the Space Wolves was the idea of Archon Syryx Lynatharr, not Jheste, but Jheste would surely pay with his head if it failed. Already, the losses had been much greater than Jheste had anticipated—or that the mad Archon would allow. His webway portal, usually so reliable, had thus far failed to open up an escape route for the Dark Eldar.

Kharynydia, of course, was handling the situation with her usual self-control. She drew her splinter pistol and pressed it against Jheste’s temple. “Give me the damn box and tell me the code,” she spat. “I’ll open the portal myself!”

“Put that thing away this instant and perhaps I’ll forget about your—” began Jheste, but he didn’t get to finish. There was the rev of an engine, a thump, a dull grinding sound, and then suddenly, bolter fire sprayed the area. Gray Hunter Pack Roskva had escaped the Talos by mounting up into their Rhino and crashing into the thicket where Jheste and the others were hiding. By an incredible stroke of luck, the tank had smashed into a tree stump (made minutes ago by one of the Whirlwind’s barrages) and come to a halt. The accidental immobilization of the Rhino was the only thing keeping the Gray Hunters from tearing them all to pieces with their chainswords.

One of Kharynydia’s crew died from bolter fire, two more dropped from the heavy bolters of the Long Fangs, two more perished from Ferin’s weapons, and the Whirlwind narrowly missed, hitting Eklavdrah’s squad instead and killing two of them. 

“I’ve had enough of this!” Kharynydia screamed at Jheste. “To hell with you and your ‘golden girl.’ You want to stay here and let the Fenrisians take you? Fine! But not me!” She and the surviving members of her crew ran as fast as they could. Jheste was surprised to find himself running as well, leaving Jirbu Ghosh behind. 

I’m dead, Jheste thought. If the Wolves don’t kill me, Lynatharr surely will. He wondered which would be a worse end. Surrender might well be the better option. There was a remote possibility that the Wolves would kill him quickly after he told them everything they wanted to know….

The rest of the Dark Eldar were fairing little better. Shouting orders, Eklavdrah forced her crew to get up and run toward the Space Wolves, into the thicket. The Long Fang’s Rhino gunned down two members of Relonarr’s squad. Balder and his remaining man fired at the Talos, to no avail, but Lars and his Terminators managed to damage it slightly with their assault cannons. It dripped a loathsome, tarry ichor from its side where several of the rounds had punched a hole in it. 

“Grab her!” Eklavdrah screamed. Her crew hoisted Jirbu Ghosh onto their shoulders. The Space Wolves were close—very close—and the thicket offered scant protection from their guns. In moments, the Scorpions would die. 

“Run!” Eklavdrah bellowed. The Dark Eldar turned and fled, the Wolves in hot pursuit. Eklavdrah heard the Fenrisians shouting in their strange, sing-song tongue, sensed the bolters behind her being raised again and trained on her back. At any moment, they would fire, tearing through her and exploding, ending her life at last, sending her vile spirit to the great vampiric Beast that waited for her. 

Suddenly, she felt the ground vanish beneath her as Dr. Jheste finally activated the webway portal and the recall device built into it yanked her to safety. 

Jirbu Ghosh was still theirs, though they had precious little else to show for the battle. 
 
 

Winner: Ozone Scorpions

Post-game Analysis by Kenton Kilgore
Kenton KilgoreThis is actually the second time we played this game. Because I had won Battle #2, I was allowed to pick the next “Spoil of War” and decided on F: Winner may choose the type of terrain for the next battle. Being a twisted kitty, I decided on another “jungle fight” using the rules from Codex: Catachans. The terrain, the “jungle fighting” rules, and my massive advantage in mobility gave me an easy win. 

In that game, as in this one, one of my Raider squads found the “tiger.” In that game, however, the tiger survived the Shooting phase, assaulted the Raider squad, killed several of them, broke them in close combat, and wiped them out by running them down in a sweeping advance! Though I wasn’t thrilled about losing an entire squad, it did make an excellent story, and I’m actually sorry that nothing similar happened in this battle.

Speaking of which, this replay of Battle #3 came about because by the time I got around to writing up the report, Pat and I had lost all our notes on it. I recalled some incidents, but not enough detail to make a worthwhile batrep. So we decided to fight it again. This also gave us a chance to compensate Pat for the rule error that probably cost him Battle #2. I still got credit for the win, but he got to pick a “Spoil of War.” Not only did Balder get a wolf tooth necklace (which he’ll get to keep for the rest of the campaign), but Pat also ditched the “jungle fight” rules that I had inflicted on him, considerably improving his chances of victory.

As before, my strategy was to use my speed to grab as many counters as I could, then pressure Pat, keep my distance, and wait for time to run out. While I managed to grab four counters on my first turn (partially aided by the board setup), I was not quite as successfully in carrying out the rest of my plan. 

To “pressure Pat” and “keep my distance,” I threw all my Raider transports, Reavers, Wyches, Warp Beasts, and Talos at Pat’s Wolves while my Raider squads backed up. Ordinarily with my Dark Eldar, I’m very aggressive against Space Marines, pouncing on isolated units and attacking with two, three, or four units at once, softening up the enemy with shooting and then launching hand-to-hand attacks. 

I wasn’t comfortable doing that this time because Space Wolves are a bit meaner in close combat than your typical vanilla Marines, and because Pat did an excellent job of keeping his guys close together. As the batrep shows, when my boys did toss themselves into hand-to-hand, they had some initial success but then got chewed up by reinforcements. I still shudder at what those Terminators did to Vhlondryll’s squad….

I pulled the Raider squads back to soak up fire and make sure they could claim Jirbu Ghosh if Kharynydia’s squad broke and ran (which they eventually did under the pounding from Pat’s big guns). I’m not used to playing defensively with my Dark Eldar, and my Raider squads had no punch without the speed and firepower of their transports. So they basically did nothing the whole game except suck bolter rounds. I’m sure the Sybarites of each unit wondered who thought up that brilliant plan….

Only good luck saved my hide: the Wyches managed to immobilize Ferin (which considerably lessened the damage that Ferin could do to my Raider squads) and Pack Roskva’s Rhino was immobilized before the squad could reach Kharynydia’s crew and tear Jirbu Ghosh from their grasp. Though I started with more units on the board (five Raider squads plus their transports to Pat's one Gray Hunter squad) and had the edge in raw speed, I still probably would have lost if it weren’t for a few rolls that went against Pat.

Post-game Analysis by Patrick Eibel
Patrick EibelAck! But for the roll of a 1, victory was at hand. At least that is how I will spin this loss. The irony is that I was originally going to take a dozer blade as my “Spoil of War.”

Overall, I played a good game, but a couple of bad decisions and horrid dice did me in. My biggest mistake was to put the Long Fangs in Mimir’s rhino. Why, you may ask, did I want to do that in the first place? In the last game, the Long Fangs were hampered because they could not get line of sight in the jungle setting. For this battle, I thought I would be wily and give them mobility. However, since the “jungle fighting” rules were negated, it turned out to be a wasted effort. This ultimately cost me the game because I only had one mobile squad that could even hope of getting to the back line.

Another mistake I made was allowing Kenton to distract me from the goal. Knowing that I had only one mobile squad (Roskva), he kept throwing things at them to slow them down. Foolishly, I took the bait. I am constantly reminded every time we play these games about the importance of troop selection. When I made up this list, I included some things that I never play with just for fun (Terminators, Long Fangs). But each game proves what a liability having both of these units can be with so few points. 

I think one of the hardest things to do in a game is to focus when things are not going your way. When that essential squad/vehicle has been killed or the dice are hosing you or you have made some bone-headed move, you have to find some way to put it aside and get back in the game. Towards the end I made a good attempt, but it was too little too late. 
 
Next page: Battle #4
Previous page: Battle #2
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Tooth and Claw
Preview <> Introduction <> Army Lists
Battle #1 <> Battle #2 <> Battle #3 <> Battle #4 <> Battle #5 <> Battle #6 <> Final Thoughts

Related Pages
The Gray Tiger: Ozone Scorpions infiltrate Veda
Ferin Ironhammer (Space Wolves)
Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions (Dark Eldar)
 

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© Copyright Kenton Kilgore and Patrick Eibel, November 2002
 

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