Kaius Torq, Magos Dominus of the lost Explorator Fleet KT-632.V and declared Heretek, stood motionless on the filth-encrusted gantry overlooking Cruelwater. With his external systems powered down, Kaius was virtually invisible amongst the shadows, even the Empyreasphere had acquiesced to his need for stealth and dimmed to a barely noticeable level, not that he could have seen it anyway with his occular implants shut down to avoid giving away his position. The Puppet Master had no need for his hard-wired eyes thanks to the data-nodes scattered throughout Cruelwater connecting him to all of his creations simultaneously.
It was through these eyes that he now watched his prey take up defensive positions. The Escher and Goliaths had banded together in the hope of holding back the endless waves he would send against them. Beneath his emotionless mask, Kaius allowed himself a smile, the waves he would unleash upon them would drown them, drown them in a Tsunami of blood....
Their brothers and sisters didn't leave them high and dry though and gave them a fighting chance to withstand the onslaught that was to come. Eight IED's were planted around Cruelwater, reducing the number of rounds that the beleaguered gangs would have to hold out for to 12 turns.
The two gangs deploy first anywhere on the table.
The Puppet Master and each Servitor deploy along a random table edge up to 4" in. Each time a model is taken Out of Action they are immediately recycled the next turn, coming on from a random table edge.
Unsure of which direction the Puppet Master's minions would come from, the two gangs deployed in a defensive perimeter at the centre.
The Puppet Master brought his external systems on line and immediately fired on the Escher Ganger Sabine...
...seriously injuring her, along with a Goliath and pinning the Escher leader!
Two Hunter-Servitors closed in from the North-West...
....As another closed in from the North-East.
In the South-west the Goliath shot at the encroaching Servo-Stalker and although the shot found its mark, the automaton refused to slow its pace.
The Servo-Hunter closed in at an alarming rate. 'Dozer barred its path....
....the Goliath Brute charged in, tearing it apart and throwing the pieces from the gantry!
Gunfire echoed across Cruelwater as a Goliath pumped shots into a Servo-Stalker approaching from the North, but still it came on.
The Puppet Master rose to his feet and levelled his Rad Cannon at the Goliath trying to slow his Servitors' advance. The shot pinned him and an Escher champion, allowing the Servo-Stalkers to get perilously close.
The Smoke Grenade which offered the gangs cover also gave the same benefit to the Servitors and they used it to close the distance on their prey.
A high frequency signal went out at he beginning of round 3 and Rat Swarms emerged in the South-East....
...and Southside of Cruelwater. close to the Escher Juve Cinders, who was making a dash for the Puppet Master.
A Servo-Stalker charged into the prone Kat, hoping for an easy kill, But Escher Champion jumped to her feet....
....Stepping Aside and Parrying its clumsy attacks before calmly plunging her power sword into it and taking the Servitor Out of Action.
The other Servo-Stalker charged the Prone Goliath but some how the Goliath ganger avoided its blows and got to his feet.
On the North-East side a Hunter closed in on the Goliath's Champion Sinister....
Sinister charged in......
....and hacked it to pieces with his Chainsword.
On the North-West Side a Hunter charged 'Dozer. The Goliath Brute was heard to scream "Dozer got this!"....
......Before being electrocuted and taken Out of Action....Down to 8!
Kimaris took up position behind cover and scanned the settlement for a target.
The Escher Champion's gaze fell on the Puppet Master once more....
......Six shots slammed into the Dominus and the South-East was bathed in a blinding light. As Kimaris blinked away the the after-effects, the Puppet Master was gone....
.....Only to reappear in the North-West!
As the Goliath struggled against the Servo-Stalker, Kat charged it from the rear....
....taking it Out of Action with her Power sword.
With the Goliath's Brute Out of Action, the Escher Leader levelled her Boltgun at the Hunter.....
....blood showered the area as the Hunter's head exploded.
There was no respite in the South-East quarter for Kat and her Goliath companion, as Rat Swarms closed in on them.......
......and the Escher Juve holding the Southside.
Jinx charged in, stamping on them as they attempted bite and claw at her.
.....As she kicked the last of the Rats from the make-shift gantry, a Servo-Hunter charged in....
.....Taking her Out of Action and leaving seven fighters left!
The Puppet Master broadcast yet another signal and swarms of Skeetas descended around the Goliath Champion.
Realising he was about to be enveloped by them, Sinister charged the closest swarm, stripping three wounds from them.
In the centre, a Servo-Stalker closed in on the Goliath and Escher leaders. Janitor tried to take it out with his Plasma pistol but missed.....
Kimaris tried with her Heavy Stubber but her gun jammed and the few shots that hit failed to slow it down.
The Servitor charged into Maman Brigitte, taking the Escher leader Out of Action before she had time to react.....Six left!
The Skeetas swarmed around Sinister attempting to sting him but the Goliath Champion swatted them aside, bellowing his rage at the annoying critters. A blood rage overcame the Goliath champion and within 3 rounds he had slaughtered them all.
With the Puppet Master now on the other side of the settlement, the Escher Juve Cinders climbed the Southside building to engage the Hunter that had taken out her sister Jinx. The Young Juve blasted the Servo-Hunter with her Stub gun and Seriously injured it. Unfortunately another Hunter leapt over its fallen companion and stuck her with its Shock Staves, taking her Out of Action and reducing them to 5 fighters.
The Servo-Hunter refused to slow its pace and engaged the valiant Goliath. 50,000 volts coursed through his body as the Hunter plunged his Shock Staves into him....leaving four gangers left!
Kat had barely finished with the Rat swarms when another Servo-Hunter charged her...
She parried an attack with her Power sword before plunging her Stiletto into the abomination taking it out.
The Escher champion charged the other hunter but her exertion was beginning to show and she failed to dispatch it.
Kat was in danger of being overrun.
After dispatching the Skeetas, Sinister had fallen back towards his leader. A Servo-Stalker halted his progress and the Goliath champion spent all of his energy dodging and parrying the attacks.
Kat found her second wind and butchered the Hunter facing her. As she removed her blade from its lifeless body she heard another adversary closing in from behind. She quickly spun around, parrying the Servo-Stalkers attack with her Stiletto and removing its head in one fluid movement.
The Goliath's leader Janitor fell back towards his champion as the Servitors closed in all around. He snapped off a Plasma shot at the onrushing Servo-Stalker but its armour proved too formidable.
The relentless Stalker charged into Janitor.....
Taking him Out of Action and leaving three fighters left!
Momentarily distracted by his leader's cry of pain, Sinister turned to see Janitor fall. It was all his adversary needed and the Servo-Stalker smashed him to the ground....Two left!
A Hunter closed in on Kimaris thrusting its Shock Staves at her. The Champion Escher dodged out of the way before clubbing it to the ground with her jammed up Heavy Stubber!
She fell back towards her gang sister, but a Servo-Stalker ambushed her, taking her Out of Action before she had time to react. One fighter left!
Another signal was transmitted across Cruelwater and Sump Slugs emerged from the swamp making straight for the lone ganger. Kat controlled the anger threatening to overtake her and fired her Needle pistol into Kimaris' attacker....
....pinning the Stalker and buying herself some precious time.
As the Servitor closed in, yet another signal was transmitted across the settlement and four Bomb Rats scampered towards the beleaguered Escher Champion.
Kat climbed down to the floor to avoid the Puppet Master's troublesome cover fire, the last thing she needed was to get pinned down. She glanced around, there was nowhere left to run, Bomb Rats, Sump Slugs and the Puppet Master's Servitors surrounded her. She thought about her sisters that had taken her in, Brigitte, Jinx with her eternal optimism, the irascible Tia and Sully with her silly belief in the Hive Spirits. She smiled to herself, closed her eyes and offered up a prayer to them....
....An explosion sounded in the distance, then another followed by six more. Kat opened her eyes expecting to see the Puppet Master's servants bearing down on her. The Servitors stood motionless. She glanced around, the Bomb Rats scurried away, oblivious to the devices strapped to their backs. Kat watched as the Sump Slugs slithered back into the swamp. She climbed to the top most gantry and looked out over Cruelwater, of the Puppet Master, there was no sign.
The familiar signal-howl of the Voodoo Dolls echoed across the settlement and Kat could hear the bellowing shouts of approaching Goliaths. It was over she realised. They might be bloody and broken but they had survived the onslaught.
She moved off to check on the wounded not forgetting to offer up silent thanks to the Hive Spirits...."Just in case!" She said to herself with a rue smile.
Blimey! That was a game and a half. We couldn't have planned a closer game than that. We both thought that our gangs had played their final ever game and that we would need to build new ones, but thanks to the heroic efforts of both gangs we somehow survived.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about the Cruelwater Chronicles and that it's given you some inspiration or ideas for your own narrative campaigns. Like all good yarns, this one leaves you with more questions than it answers...but I somehow think we haven't seen the last of the Puppet Master 😉
Until next time....may 'Our Lady' grant you her number 😉