Battles with the Becker Boys, Part 4

For almost 20 years, my family and I have been good friends with our neighbors across the street, the Becker’s, who have two sons: Nathan (19) and Dylan (18).  The “Becker Boys” are ardent video gamers, and last year, got into 40K, with Nate choosing Space Marines, and Dylan picking up Space Wolves.

In teaching them how to play, we did two demo games against Necrons, then a “for-real” match against my proxied-Tyranids, then a massive contest with lots of figures and vehicles on each side.

The boys went off to school in the fall and played a little bit while they were away.  On Christmas break, they came back and we did a holiday-themed game.

“Team Naughty” vs. “Team Nice”

Not wishing to jump with both feet into a huge slugfest, like our last battle, we agreed to a smaller game, with their Marine/Wolf force (chosen as they wished) against my Ozone Scorpion Drukhari.  We played at my house, on a 4″ by 6″ table, decorated as a snowy scene again (as the last game) with a ruined building in the center, where the sole objective would be.

In keeping with the Christmas theme, we decided that the objective was a “bag of toys” (surely, valuable technology from the ancient Holy Days of Saint Niklos of Terra) that the Imperial troops needed to keep out the hands of “bad elves” who wanted to keep his treasures for themselves rather than give them away to the faithful, obedient sons and daughters of the Emperor.

After I had advised them on what the scenario would be, Nate and Dylan brought “Team Nice:” a Space Marine Tactical Squad, a unit of Grey Hunters, Logan Grimnar and a pack of Space Wolf Terminators, a Whirlwind, and a Land Raider Crusader.

Recognizing that my Dark Eldar would need to get up-close-and-personal with tough-as-nails Space Marines, I used a portion of my “Purple Army,” which is low on numbers but heavy on close-combat hitting power, to form “Team Naughty:”

  • Dr. Jheste (Haemonculus)
  • Vulnayvya (Haemonculus)
  • Two squads of five Scorpion Guards (count as Wracks) each
  • Two squads of 3 Super Scorpions (count as Grotesques) each
  • Steel Scorpions 1-3 (count as 3 Taloses)
  • Steel Scorpion 4 (counts as Cronos Pain Engine)

The Battle(s)

Over the many centuries that Dr. Jheste had served Archon Syryx Lynatharr and the Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions, he had learned of and witnessed many astonishing things that often defied belief.  But this was, certainly, the most ludicrous.

Jheste could readily believe that there had once lived a human holy man so renowned for his generosity that his name had lived on thousands upon thousands of years after his death.

Jheste could perhaps—perhaps—be persuaded to entertain the supposition that the holy man had possessed an ability—doubtless provided by the pygmy Aeldari that were reported to serve him—to warp space and time so as to be able to traverse the entirety of Terra, the human home world, in a single night.

But there was no convincing Jheste that this person, regardless of how beneficent he may or may not have actually been, had used such a singular ability of mind-boggling prowess—currently impossible even for the highly technologically advanced Eldar, Dark Eldar, or Necrons—to once a solar cycle, deliver to each domicile on the planet playthings and sweets for human children who adhered to a certain moral code.

Twaddle, Jheste thought to himself.  Worse than twaddle.  Humbug!

Nevertheless, Lynatharr had somehow heard of this “Saint Niklos” and his imaginary feats, and, impressed with Jheste’s startling victory over a large force of Orks, had commanded him to bring back this holy man’s secret.  So now, Jheste and some of his forces were on Krismass, a planet perpetually covered in snow, and the farthest-most outpost of humanity on the galactic pole north of Terra.

And they were not alone. Inexplicably, a collection of Adeptus Astartes and Space Wolves—who had long been a foe of the Ozone Scorpions—had come to this desolate place as well.  Whether they were here to take the suspected technology, clash with the Drukhari, or both, mattered little.

Giving the word, Jheste and his followers—the Haemonculus Vulnyvya, their enhanced Scorpion Guard, the grotesque Super Scorpions, and the robotic Steel Scorpion constructs—fluidly wound their way through the dense conifer forest, to the abandoned workshop that supposedly had belonged to Niklos.  From close—too close—came the sound of the Imperials stomping and grinding their way through the snow towards them.

It was the silver-and-blue Space Marines who arrived at the shop first, taking up defensive positions.  But it was the Dark Eldar who located and seized what seemed to be the prize: a very large, red…sack, decorated in tufts of white fluff.

“Bah,” growled Jheste, and sent the Steel Scorpions gliding ahead to deal with the Space Marines. Shrugging off cursory boltgun fire, the mechanical monsters swiftly descended upon them, pincers snapping, tails stabbing, easily dispatching an entire squad of the Emperor’s supposedly finest.

A deep rumbling from outside, then a barrage of rockets from the Whirlwind, and a fusillade of bolter and assault cannon fire as the Land Raider Crusader blasted hundreds of holes through the crumbling walls.  One of the Taloses was destroyed, another damaged.  Closing in were a pack of Wolf Guard Terminators led by the Old Wolf himself, Logan Grimnar.

Interesting, Jheste thought.  If someone as important as Grimnar was here, then perhaps there was some truth to the ancient tales.  Taking shelter among the overturned tables, workbenches, and storage bins, Jheste activated the comm-rune tattooed behind a pointed ear.

“Destroy the tank,” he whispered to the Steel Scorpions, and as they moved outside, mute Vulnayvya was tapping out on her comm-tablet the order for the Super Scorpions to engage.

The bio-mechanical arachnids swarmed the Terminators, tearing, stabbing, nigh-effortlessly cutting them down. Meanwhile, the Steel Scorpions shrugged off the Crusader’s fire and ripped it to scrap.  Too easy, Jheste snickered, reaching for the bag….

And then everything shifted.  He and his force were back outside, where they had first seen the workshop.  The destroyed Talos was restored, awaiting his order.  It was as if nothing had happened.  As if time and space had—

“Impossible,” Jheste muttered.  Vulnayvya looked about, clearly as confused as him. Their Scorpion Guard seemed not to notice, but then, the two Haemonculi had lobotomized them as they had augmented their bodies, so that was no surprise.  Nor was it a surprise that the Super Scorpions—who possessed only bestial sentience—and the Steel Scorpions—cybernetic juggernauts—also failed to notice.

“Forward—again,” Jheste ordered, and they moved on the workshop.  This time, they did not get to the bag first.  This time, they were confronted by Grimnar, his five Wolf Guard, and ten more Space Marine Terminators.  Coming on their heels were a unit of Grey Hunters.

Though the circumstances had changed, the outcome did not.  The Scorpions Super- and Steel- frushed forward again, slicing down all before them, though Jheste noted, with great irritation, that somehow the wily Old Wolf escaped, his body nowhere to be found.

No matter.  Jheste reached once again for the bulging red bag, half-expecting reality to distort once again.  Perhaps it was the sack that allowed Saint Niklos to work his Krismass magic, to fold time and space so as to visit every home on Terra.  Jheste would soon see.  Opening the bag, he thrust his hand inside…

…and pulled up lumps of hard, black rock.  He rooted about in the sack, puffs of black dust smearing his hands and sleeves. Nothing more.  Just hundreds and hundreds of rough stones.

What is it? Vulnayvya signed.

“Pressurized carbon,” Jheste growled.  “Worthless, except, perhaps, to burn. So,” he said, addressing the Scorpion Guard, “burn everything down.”

He turned to go, then spied something on the floor.  He squatted, picked it up.  A doll of a young, smiling, mon-keigh female.  Jheste was seized by the irrational thought that it was laughing at him.

He tossed it to one of his Steel Scorpions for it to shred.  “I hate Krismass,” Jheste muttered.

Post-Game Analysis

As you might infer from the narrative, we actually played twice.  The first time, the boys didn’t think through their army selections, and they brought several units that weren’t very effective.  In particular, the Land Raider Crusader was a massive points-sink in such a small game, and didn’t help them much.  Led by the Taloses, my Drukhari easily tore through the Marines.

After the game, we reviewed where Nate and Dylan went wrong, and they asked if they could rewrite their army list and have a rematch, to which I agreed.  To give them a leg up, I told them that I would not be swapping out any units, so they would know exactly what I was bringing.

In the second game, they fared a little better than in the first, but counter-intuitively, they were a bit too aggressive.  Their Terminators got to the objective first, but then they were within charge range of my Taloses—and letting them get first hits is a big mistake.  The better tactic would have been to hang back from the objective, then charge my forces as they moved in to take it.

Still, it was a good bit of holiday fun.  I’m sure we’ll get back together over spring break for more brutality.  They have some reinforcements–purchases using Christmas gift money–from a local gaming store that they want to try against me….

When he isn’t playing or blogging about 40K, Kenton Kilgore writes killer SF/F for young adults, and adults who are still young.  This Wasted Land, his latest novel, isn’t your typical teenage love story.  It’s more like: Boy meets Girl–>Evil Witch takes Boy–>Girl goes to get Boy back.

He is also the author of Lost Dogs, the story of the end of the world as seen, heard–and smelled–by a dog.  His first novel was Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons.  With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Visit, and follow Kenton on Facebook for frequent posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.  You can also catch him on Instagram.

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