With the entire planet of Xilos coming apart, this week has seen a final desperate push as armies attempt to evacuate with their precious Builder relics (and earn a last few points for the campaign).
Lets take a look at a few of the battles:
Karyle’s dropship zoomed inches above the treetops, the jungle landscape all around erupting in chaos. Explosions raked Xilos in all directions as the internal pressure of the rift expanding from the core upset its surface. They were headed to the last signal received from their Guildess, less than a minute’s flight away from their starting location. There would be exceedingly little time as the rift overtook Xilos, and the Guildess’s instructions had been less than entirely clear.
Karyle and his men, those few that remained, were to hold a what their drone told them was a bridge spanning a particularly deep canyon. The Ghar were inbound to the position, but why it still mattered as Xilos collapsed made little sense to Karyle. The Overseer had sent the broad sweeping order of “Regroup” to all Boromites in the area anyway, however, calling them to the designated point for aid and rescue.
Karyle and his few remaining Gang Fighters and Worker Gang members had taken up positions on the bridge, commanding the weaponless drone AI of their dropship to hover directly beneath the bridge for a quick escape. The Ghar approached from the northwest, their hulking suits clambering amongst the uneven ground expertly. The bridge was spanning a canyon set in what appeared to be ruins of an industrial complex on Xilos, the lifeblood of the planet having become a green miasma that filled the canyon below.
“-*SIR. ESTIMATED TIME FOR SAFE DEPARTURE: 3 STANDARD MINUTES.*-”
The drone AI of their ship had broadcast the message to all ranking officers in the vicinity, and Karyle’s feed lit up briefly with green blips of acknowledgement. Blinking his acknowledgement as well, the Overseer began firing his Plasma Carbine at the incoming Ghar alongside his men. The shots bounced off their armor harmlessly, their advance towards the bridge unfaltering.
Forcing himself calm, Karyle tried to think. What would be so important about this bridge that his Guildess would send them here to protect it?
Karyle signaled the ship as he continued to fire, “B418, scan for the location of the Guildess’s personal vessel.”
“-*NO SIGNAL FOUND.*_”
As a powerful blast from the Ghar suits crackled inches away from his head, the epiphany rang clearly in the Overseer’s mind. “Scan again, but this time only straight down towards the core.”
“-*VESSEL B303 FOUND. INBOUND AT MAXIMUM VELOCITY. ETA 2.3333337 STANDARD MINUTES.*-”
It wasn’t the bridge he and his men were ordered to hold; it was the canyon itself… This was his Guildess’s escape route! Karyle instructed B418 to alert the rest of the Boromites, unable to comm them himself under the direct fire of the Ghar suits.
Suddenly, miraculously, a full squad of Lavamites burst from the brush directly behind the Ghar Assault suits, slamming into them with inhuman fury. Karyle’s signal had been heard by several pockets of Boromites left on the surface of Xilos, and they were arriving at last. The lavamites managed to down one suit, but ultimately their attacks were proving ineffective. All the same, the assault had stopped the Ghar suits’ advance to the bridge, buying Karyle valuable time.
The clock ticking, Karyle and his bodyguards fired an expert volley into the second group of advancing suits, managing to kill all three left standing. The Boromites loosed a heartfelt cheer, the Worker Gang running from the bridge towards the friendly lavamites in an attempt to help. Swatting at flitters as they moved, the Worker Gang saw the lavamites cut down a Ghar command squad that had tried to sneak up on them. The distraction proved too much, though, for the lavamites to handle both fronts of attack. The remaining Ghar suits crushed them before turning their attention to the Worker Gang.
Roaring, the Worker Gang loosed a volley from their heavy Mass Compactors, managing to down one of the assaulting Ghar suits before being obliterated.
The timer ticked away steadily on Karyle’s feed. Only another minute, and the Guildess would be out of harm’s way. “HOLD THE BRIDGE! They shall not pass!”
The Ghar assault suits steadily clanked onto the bridge, gunning down Karyle and his men on their approach. One of Karyle’s Gang Fighters pushed the mangled, barely living Overseer over the edge of the bridge to be caught by their drone ship below.
Suddenly, a pair of Boromites were running from the nearby hill, waving for the Gang Fighters to move out of the way. They had fired an X-Launcher shot from the hill before making a run for the dropship. The shot was a direct hit, removing the last Ghar warrior from the fight except for their formidable leader. Undaunted, the Ghar leader walked forward through the smoke of the blast, his suit crouching low but still fully capable.
“FOR THE GUILDESS!” Bursting from the jungle to the east, Overseer Alaric and his remaining Rock Riders were pushing their locomites full tilt towards the bridge. Once they’d seen the location of the signal on the dropship, Alaric and his men had jumped from the dropship to retrieve their locomites, and had arrived just in time.
The Rock Riders rammed straight into the Ghar suit like a battering ram, taking the enemy Leader from his feet but not inflicting any more serious damage. The Ghar expertly sliced through one of the Rock Riders, his clawed armed spinning fiercely.
The ground began to shake more violently, the studs in the bridge’s construction popping like corks in bottles of celebratory stout.
“-*THERE IS NO TIME LEFT. WE MUST LEAVE. ALL UNITS, DISEMBARK FROM THE BRIDGE.*-”
The Gang Fighters leapt as one over the side without hesitation into the waiting craft below. Finally realizing what was happening, the Ghar lumbered towards the edge to peer over just as the Rock Riders abandoned their mounts and leaped over the side to join their comrades.
Like a bomb exploding, the dropship’s engines burst to full, filling the canyon entrance with plasma as it darted out from under the bridge into the open, aimed skyward. Within seconds, the Ghar reeling from the sudden plasma burst of the dropship, the Guildess’s ship burst through the bridge itself at its top speed, advancing skyward as Xilos crumbled behind it.
The Guildess ran a strong hand along the scarred shoulder of her Overseer, waking him from his fitful sleep. Karyle had survived the day, but only partially. As the Guildess’s hand reached the plasteel alloy of the upper portion of Karyle’s new arm, he instinctively flinched, followed quickly by a look of shame on his shattered visage. Luckily the medbay was dim, with no one else in the room but the two of them.
“The plasbionics are extremely sensitive at first, Karyle. Do not be alarmed.”
The Overseer’s eye widened at her use of his name and the softness of her tone. Trying to sit up, he met the firm resistance of the Guildess’s hand and was pushed back down.
“There will be plenty of time now that we are free from Xilos to regain your strength…” The Guildess smirked, her eyebrow arching, “… Rock Father.”
The Algoryn marveled at the scale of the ancient Builder facility as they cautiously moved through the ruins. The Boromites had wasted no time setting up their operations down here, far below the surface of Xilos. Every ruin must have held treasures of uncountable wealth and knowledge, and the Boromites were clearly in the process of seizing as much as they possibly could judging from the number of supply containers that littered the compound. Upon being informed of the facility’s existence the order had been given, by none other than Tar Es Janar, the Eclipse was to penetrate as deeply into the Boromite held territory as possible securing a route for the AI to seize the facility. The Infiltrators, had moved far ahead of the main force, more focused on their task than their wondrous surrounds. The same could not be said of the Bulk of the Eclipse forces who had apparently taken leave of their senses once they entered the caverns and encountered no resistance.
Xiail ran here squad into the cover of the ruin they had been approaching as soon as she saw the Boromites. She mused at how quietly the massive brutes could move as they rushed into forward positions whilst their Overseer sent searing blasts of plasma at the Support team, who seemed busily arguing among themselves to even notice that they had come under fire. “Idiots” she muttered under her breath as the AI Command squad rushed in to support the bickering Mag LS team, as yet more Boromites came streaming in.
The Boromites were focusing their attentions on the left flank keeping the AI Command pinned down but otherwise making little headway. Thus far Xiail’s squad had attracted little attention, thankfully the Mag LS was giving the nearby Overseer some serious trouble, so she continued to move her Infiltrators around the Boromite’s flanks. Astonishingly the Boromite’s own Mag LS seemed to be firing on their own Work Gang, the truth became apparent when two of the Targeter Probes’ feeds abruptly ended. Xiail felt a pang of regret, the little probes’ bubbly personalities quite amused her, she thought of the little machines more as pets than as tools. The Infiltrators continued through the ruins and Xiail shook her head to clear the errant thought, that kind of lack of focus got you and your soldiers killed.
Suddenly the AI Commander issued and all out attack and death spat from the AI lines. The Mag LS cut down the Overseer and one of his bodyguard, the AI Commander traded fire with the Gang Fighters and the Work Gang, his Medi-drone exploding as he bore the brunt of a Mass Compactor, she hoped he would survive but she doubted anyone who screamed like that would live for long. The Infiltrators opened fire on the enemy’s Mag LS, ignoring the lone bodyguard as a minor threat, and destroying the gun and their spotter drone. As much as she saw probes and drones as pets, Xiail knew blinding the enemy was of vital importance and so kept up the hail of fire. She watched as the younger Boromite weapon crew kept trying to repair the severely damaged weapon whilst the elder crewman tried to drag him to safety from the hail of fire the Infiltrator’s unleashed.
The AI kept hitting the Boromites hard on the left flank, the AI’s Mag LS providing covering fire whilst the Assault squad got revenge on the Work Gang for laying low their Commander. Xiail saw the last of the Overseer’s Bodyguard, overcome with rage and hatred, charged straight at the AI Mag LS, running through the Infiltrator’s Solar Charges, which curiously failed to detonate. A suspensor pulse suddenly engulfed her squad tearing Xiail’s attention away from the lone Boromite. Fighting through the mind numbing haze she ordered the charge and her squad rushed the enemy’s Mag LS. The younger crewman was an easy target and quickly dropped, but the elder fought like a man possessed, easily taking the few hits that his prodigious fighting abilities didn’t stop. Not for the first time was Xiail thankful for her armour as a sharpened piece of mining equipment was rammed into her helmet, which luckily held firm. Breaking her squad off they left the grizzled Boromite to his fate, pushing further behind the Boromite lines.
As her unit moved ahead Xiail continued to monitor the battle she had left behind. It seemed the lone bodyguard had wreaked havoc with the AI Support team and was now working through the fallen Commander’s bodyguard. Xiail seemed to have a knack for surviving her Commanders, she hoped it didn’t mean an impending promotion, as the chain of command was rapidly diminishing. The Assault squad was making serious progress through the Boromite lines, their armour covered in the gore of the Sons of Borom, when the elder crewman suddenly struck, severely injuring the assault leader before the Assault squad too made it past the Boromite lines.
They had breached the Boromite lines before their reinfocements could stop them, whilst AI reinforcements came pouring into the sprawling facility. Soon they would be able to strike at the heart of the Boromite operations and seize the whole facility. A sudden tremor and rain of dirt from above stopped Xiail in her tracks. “That is” she pondered out loud “if Xilos’ secrets don’t stop us first”. Noticing the glances of the Assault troopers and Infiltrators she ordered the squads to move out, trying not to ponder the fact she was the highest ranking soldier in the group and the nasty habit AI Commanders had of catching stray shots.
At the end of the final episode, here are the overall scores;
Ghar Empire – 146
Concord – 123
Boromites – 121
Algoryn – 103
Freeborn – 61
Isorians – 56
Ghar Outcast Rebels -33
The hardy Boromites have proven most successful in this episode (their asteroid mining heritage obviously serving them well in the collapsing tunnels of the planet’s final moments), with Algoryn and Ghar Empire also performing well.
However, the dogged consistency of the Ghar Empire has shown them to be the most successful faction overall, with strong results in 4 out of 6 episodes!
The Concord, after a text-book landing in Episode 1, managed to retain second place thanks to their late push at the Slave Pits last week.
Now the planet of Xilos is gone, but the true ramifications of its discovery are still to come…