Thursday, December 7, 2017

Knight House Draco Assaults the World of Rhoche V

Knight House Draco has been in active deployment along the Draconis March from Terra to the Eye of Terror throughout the course of the Indomitus Crusade. Their combined forces have met stiff resistance regardless of how far they stray from the Cicatrix Maledictum, for their charge is to seek and eliminate the incursion of powerful Chaos entities wherever they emerge. Indeed, the house's long history of combating powerful Daemonic threats has been a boon to the Imperium in these warzones.

Loretta Colbert and her mount, Knight Warden Maleficent, have hunted the frontier of the Cicatrix Maledictum for decades. When the old king was deposed as a result of his death at the hands of a trio of Bloodthirsters a decade ago, the Scions of House Draco voted unanimously to raise her as the High Queen of Draconis Noctum. Loretta is more mild-mannered than her predecessor. She is more thoughtful. However, she still prefers to engage directly with the enemy rather than lead from a rearguard command position. Maleficent is equipped for this kind of philosophy, capable of laying down deadly volleys of firepower with its missile launcher and gatling cannon, then engaging once the enemy has been suitably softened up.

Loretta has been hungry for glory since her ascension as the reigning Queen of her people. For this reason, she demanded to be allowed to personally lead a campaign against the daemonic incursion on the world of Rhoche V. She respectfully declined the offer of assistance from the Star Eagles Space Marines who have long been honor bound with the ancient house. It was important for her to prove her worth and test her mettle.

With her, as always, came Beregard Colbert, the nephew to the queen and inheritor of the old king’s Cerastus Knight, Falkor. The old Lancer pattern Knight has a history of demanding much from its pilots, insisting on leading the charge in the most important engagements. This brash behavior is matched well with the nature of young Beregard. The fire in his belly has brought him a string of  recent successes on the battlefield at his aunt's side. The promise of a challenge on Rhoche V left him giddy with anticipation.

Queen Colbert hand-picked the other two members of her assault lance to match her own scrappy fighting style and the hot-headedness of her nephew.

The Questoris Knight Styrix, Jabberwock, has been the terror of House Draco for millennia. Even the most patient hands in House Draco could not hope to completely tame the bloodthirsty machine spirit of The Jabberwock. This knight is pressed into service only when the mission is of the most dire variety. Even then, only the most experienced warriors survive the bonding process. No matter how bloody an engagement gets, and whether its pilot survives or not, the Jabberwock has always climbed out of the rubble and ashes, ready to slaughter another day. When the time came to awake The Jabberwock, Scion Martial Saranna Kov answered the call and tamed the beast. She has piloted the monster for over a decade, longer than any Scion in history. Kov is a level-headed and domineering person, a perfect addition to the lance.

Scion Arbalester Erik Horowicz was chosen by his Queen to assist her in the assault because of his deadly accuracy at range. Horowicz demonstrated an addiction for destruction and his Knight, Gojira, was well-suited for the task. The pair have been an implacable foe on the battlefield, slowly advancing and obliterating anything that tries to outmaneuver the rest of the Lance. In a pinch, Erik engages the enemy in half-hearted melee, usually breaking free at the soonest opportunity in order to resume his bombardment.

All four Knights of Assault Lance Rhoche represented the best Draconis Noctum had to offer the Imperium.

Broken Loyalty

The Imperial Navy assets attached to House Draco established communications with the Rhoche V Planetary Defense Forces holding the central hive against hordes of Chaos cultists and gibbering mobs of Daemons. They worked to determine the safest drop zone for the Knights' lander just outside the city and executed a preliminary bombardment of the area.

When the Queen and her Lance arrived, the PDF inexplicably opened fire on the Knights. The planet wasn't under attack from the Ruinous Powers; it had already fallen!

Although Queen Colbert tried to push through the traitors' defenses, the weight of fire was too thick. They were forced to fall back in order to come at the city from a different angle.


Throughout drastic temperature changes and deadly daemonic incursions, the Knights made their way around the perimeter of the PDF's bombardment radius and came at the city through the broken, ancient ruins of the world's indigenous population, long since wiped out by the Imperium.

They Knights had approached quite closely when a pair of flyers streaked towards them from the city proper -- a pair of ancient Storm Eagle Assault Gunships. In their wake, a fresh batch of Tzeentch daemons sprung into existence from beyond the veil. The gunships flew low and fast, releasing their payload of posessed heretic astartes and their minders, including the Voice of Lorgar, Mortariat Consul Angelaris Prectora. Angelaris jumped from the belly of his transport with no thought for life or limb and hurling bolts of arcane energies at the knights. In his descent, a fusillade of blasts from both the Astartes and the Storm Eagles laid low Knight Paladin Gojira and swung around to deal with the Jabberwock.

Beregard in his Knight Lancer raced to meet Angelaris in personal combat. As they clashed, Tzeentch blessed their worthy disciple with the ascended form of a Daemon Prince. The two titans clashed blow for blow, each deflecting the other's blows with preternatural skill and resilience. Finally, Beregard's hotheadedness prevailed when he raised his lance and angrily kicked Angelaris, casting him to the dust, then crushed him under the Cerastus Knight's full weight. At their master's demise, the daemons fled back to The Warp.

After tending to Gojira's battle damage, Lance Rhoche pressed on.

Perfect Opportunity

Once inside the city, the enemy was quick to react. Although the Sons of Lorgar were present here, it was the Sons of Fulgrim who held the populace in sway. The Scions of House Draco found the people were engaged in the most profane devilry they'd ever witnessed. At the heart of the city's ghastly delights stood a force led by no other than Lucius the Eternal along with many of his Brothers, including several venerable slaves to darkness encased in dreadnought bodies. Among them was an exalted son of Fulgrim fully ensconced in the form of a Daemon Prince.

The Knights of House Draco fought valiantly and made quick work of the enemy, tearing through cultists and wading even through formidable Phoenix Guard Terminators and weathering withering fire from Emperor's Children Kakophoni. Beregard waded forward and challenged Lucius to single combat and Lucius agreed instantly. Some might argue that this was an unfair match for one Astartes, but the skills of Lucius are legendary in the extreme. In the end, the Queen's nephew found his mark and obliterated the ancient Chaos Lord in a single decisive blow.

Ashen Victory 

The Grey Knights had been monitoring the situation, of course. The prying eyes of the Ordo Malleus were always close on hand when it came to the activities of Knight House Draco and it was they who had informed the Queen of the incursion in the first place. Normally, House Draco was allowed wide leverage thanks to their keen skill against large Daemonic threats. However, the tales pf Lucius the Eternal told by the Liber Daemonica informed the Grey Knights of the real danger which had emerged from Rhiche V. Beregard must not be allowed to transform into Lucius, especually while ensconced in the carapace of a Cerastus Knight Lancer.

Weeks after the Queen's victory on Rhoche V, the Grey Knights arrived at Draconis Noctum and met with Queen Colbert. She begrudgingly allowed the Ordo Malleus access to her nephew and requested they end his life with dignity. When they came to his quarters, however, he was gone. They found he had stolen his Lancer and escaped into the vast, marshy wilderness of Draconis Noctum.

The Queen sadly informed the Inquisitor in charge of the contingent that honor demanded she stand with her nephew in the fight for his life. The Grey Knights had brought enough armor to face a dozen Knights, let alone the Queen's small personal retinue. They did their best to score hits against the Knights which would not waste the precious resource that was the lives of the pilots themselves. In the end, they were able to immobilize all of the Knights which had come to the aid of the Queen's nephew without killing a single soul. However, when Beregard was dragged out of his Knight's carapace, it was clear from his ashen appearance and vacant stare that the change was already starting to take. A chapter serf was ordered to execute the young noble, then taken into custody aboard their Strike Cruiser.

Alliance Reforged

Shortly after the departure of the Grey Knight dogs and their Ordo Malleus masters, another Strike Cruiser appeared in the system. This one, however, was soot black and running silent, even to the Knight House's powerful sensor arrays from before the days of the long night. The Star Eagles had arrived.