Part two of a continuing project log of my 40k Tau army and their efforts to retain control of the United Systems of Atreidia, against the gradual uprising posed by my buddy Enrico’s Terran, Chaos, and Genestealer Cult forces. Check out part one here if you’re inclined.
The Story So Far:
Unrest is up in the United Systems of Atreidia, complicated by economic downturn. In particular, the dust wastes that lie between the three main cities on the central planet have suffered a severe reduction in arability. Tau scientists have pointed out that the actions of the Terran in the wastes, particularly carbon-based fuel usage, has increased this effect, the Terrans insist on denying their culpability. Instead, streams of wastelanders are seeking entrance to the city looking for better work. Yet not all wastelanders have pure intentions.
The lines grew long at checkpoint 72-R. Security was tight, as the local populace of the city was still resenting the unfortunate events of a week prior. The Shas’ui of the Strike Squad that patrolled this city entrance swapped out his Gun Drones for a more peaceful Shield Drone in hopes of quelling the concerns of the populace. He watched from a vantage point in an abandoned construction project as a group of wastelanders approached the city seeking entry.
The two Tau Fire Warriors stationed at the entrance stopped the head of the column, two men in heavy robes leading a large and over-burdened pack animal. The Tau were allowing entry in orderly fashion, but demanded that all weapons and contraband items be confiscated upon entry.
Little did they know that the two pilgrim leaders, and the group of wastelanders that followed them, were coming to join up with resistance elements inside the city. A new story was spreading about human resistance. Some viewed it as one grand old movement opposing the Tau order, while others talked of divisions and factions within the group. Needless to say, their rhetoric was clearly in opposition to the Tau arrival. In fact, recently they were publicizing the fact that a high-ranking Tau Water Caste official had been transmitting classified transmissions over a private Comms relay server. These transmissions were intercepted by the Terran leaders, and were rumored to contain sensitive cost-benefit analysis of Tau Gun Drone usage: how many civilians were tolerable losses given the benefits of automated defense.¹
Given the charged tension, the demands of the Tau border security to surrender all weapons struck the match. When the Tau denied entrance and insisted on starting a scan protocol for weaponry, one of the wastelanders knew that their armaments–designed to help arm Terran resistance agents in the city–would be confiscated. Thus, he decided to attack, and began firing his autopistol wildly toward the Tau.
The squad manning the border checkpoint was supported by a Devilfish personnel carrier, which immediately began scanning the crowd for threats. Very quickly the call sounded over the Tau communication systems: “There’s a bomb! One of them has a bomb!” The Shas’ui trained his markerlight at the pack animal, presuming the weapon was large and carried on its back. The Devilfish scrambled its Gun Drones and moved to block the roadway. Nearby Terran repair workers watched everything unfold with shocked disbelief. Even though the wastelanders had shot first, seeing Gun Drones moving and firing at Terrans incensed the passers-by.
The calculation to take out the bovine was a mistake on the Tau’s part, as they underestimated the fervor of the Terrans who opposed them. With a cry, one of the two hooded pilgrims ran forward and produced a demolition charge from under his robes. He threw it onto the Devilfish, but it bounced back toward him before detonating: killing him instantly, but still managing to damage the Tau vehicle.
The Tau at the checkpoint were easily overpowered by gunfire from the wastelanders and attacks from incensed Terran civilians. Only the crew of the Devilfish managed to continue the fight. It tank shocked its way out of the streets and into the wasteland for more room to maneuver. Wastelander, cultist, and angry citizen alike scattered and then renewed their assault on the craft. They charged it, attempting to blast it open with whatever they could–including all manner of repair tools supplied by the work crews that rose to violence. In another Tau miscalculation of necessary use of force and the value of automated systems, the flechette discharger housed on the Devilfish began spraying the attackers with flying metal spurs, injuring and killing many of them who assaulted it.
One lone workman, grabbing a child and dragging them along from the scene, fled from the carnage dished out by both sides. The streets ran red and blue with blood from both races. As the worker fled, he heard a blast in the distance. A lucky shot to the rear of the tank from a flamethrower managed to destroy the Tau craft. It would take hours before the Tau could secure the entrance point, and another two waves of anti-Tau wastelanders and their armaments would make their way into the city in the meantime.
In the aftermath, the Tau treated the clean-up as another instance of shovel-ready projects to employ the Terrans of the city. This was a critical mistake, not only for shoving the death toll in the Terrans’ faces. Also because the Tau missed a critical clue as to the nature of their foe. The pilgrim leader who didn’t throw the demo charge, lay dead on the pavement with a pulse rifle shot to his head. Yet as the workmen pulled his corpse away, his right arm was exposed–a strange, pincer-like claw was at the end of his hand, while the strange red symbol that was spreading through the resistance movement was worn on a lanyard around his neck. Things were brewing, both in the wasteland and the city, and the Tau remained unaware.
¹ Thanks to GeorgeJetson of the Advanced Tau Tactica forums for the idea on this!
Tau Project Log
Slowly but surely I’m painting up more stuff for these games. This week I finished a Devilfish and a Shield Drone. I wanted to get a vehicle completed, as I wanted to make sure the color scheme worked okay at that larger scale. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. The next battle I’ll actually have a regular force organization chart filled!
For this battle, we again used the Combat Patrol Rules where each model is independent. The wastelanders outside and the cultists inside were all unmarked Chaos Cultists. One of the two pilgrims was also equipped with a Demolition Charge. Again, the groups of citizen workers would start attacking the Tau if they made a leadership test by their groups. We also recognized that the Devilfish was pretty impervious, so we made a special rule for the scenario that both cultists and workmen could harm it in melee with an attack roll of 6, followed by a damage roll of 6, representing bringing work-designed rather than weapon-designed tools, or crude wasteland bombs, to bear on the Devilfish. It also made for a reason to attempt to charge the vehicle, and try to live through the deadly flechettes. As I said just above, next week will be the first battle we do where both sides have a somewhat regular command structure (HQ and two Troops plus FOC elements).
One last note and spoiler. Rico started out working on expanding his excellent Khorne Daemonkin army as a part of this story. However, we’re both old (oooooold) 40k players, and he dug out on idea from an ancient compendium: the original compilation of the rules for Genestealers. I didn’t realize this, but they were divided between Genestealer Invasion Force and Genestealer Cult. And the “Cult” part was an actual Chaos Cult that they used to advance their power. All those classic photos of the Genestealer Cult with the two custom limos, if you look close you see the symbols of Khorne and a Daemonsword and everything. Thus, Rico wanted to do an homage to that force, and add the Genestealer Cult as allies to his Khorne Daemonkin forces. It sounds amazing, and it’s all the funnier for the campaign as it represents a diverse faction for satire: are the demagogues that lead them actually believers in the principles of Khorne? Or are they merely running under that banner for their own ends?