The kroot crept carefully in among the shattered remains of the ruined human settlement. The hound could smell nothing of the trans-dimensional terrors they were seeking, just the detritus of destroyed lives. Nervous in the alien terrain they sneaked through breaches in the walls from building to building, avoiding the open spaces of the strange grid of roads. Then they saw him: a lone terrified civilian standing in the road. They stopped and one pulled out a comm-link - transmitting what he saw up to Commander Balesword in the circling Orca.
In the distance they heard a sound. Mechanical, primitive compared to the more familiar sounds of Tau generators but by the sheer volume probably substantial. Without warning a shell arced in and slammed into a building sending searing fragments out that cut a handful of kroot down before they could move. the human dropped to the ground. The order came down from above "we need to know if that Gue'la is alive, check it out. I am on my way in." The kroot looked at each other for a moment, then the krootox riders loped out into the road. The human was whimpering on the ground but the great ox were close to doing the same, in each direction there was a massive imperial tank bearing down on them. The riders opened up at close range with the great kroot guns but with their mounts so nervous the shots fell wide of the faster tank with ominous wisps of smoke rising from its weapons.
The tanks closed in and from the smaller, faster vehicle great gouts of poison gas and flame enveloped the leading kroot, the krootox and their riders dying to the noxious fumes and flames. The rest of the kroot dived into cover as another great shell slammed home from the huge heavy tank, the ruins saved all but one from the spray of vicious fragments. The orca roared in but all the pilot could see was a mass of infantry advancing behind the tanks, the engines strained but he could not swerve onto a safe drop zone so he pulled around for another pass.
Once again the tanks came forward, now they came past the prone civilian and opened fire at close range where they could again try to see the hiding kroot. Another handful of the scout died, for a moment they wavered and a few thought of saving themselves but for now the mercenaries held.
The Orca made its return run and this time Balesword and his Vespid companions dropped out of the sky into the road a block away from the shaken kroot. As he came down Balesword triggered his Fusion Blades and back-up Blaster into the heavy tank - one beam sliced away the barrel of the lascannon from the front while the other sliced through the crew compartment. The crew dived out of their seats to save themselves. The Vespid lined their own weapons up carefully on the exact spot the Commander had pointed out and struck the rear of the smaller tank, something went crump inside the armoured hull and the tank stopped dead - unseen by the dropping force the crew were frantically donning hoods as vile gas filled the tank.
The Imperial Infantry ran up behind the stricken armour along with a pair of odd gun-toting walkers. With surprising discipline they laid down a fusilade of lasgun and autocannon fire into Balesword and his followers, a drone was ripped apart but Iridium armour held out. Now the Commander was in place and he did the last thing the Gue'La would expect from Tau. Using the speed of his insectoid followers he zoomed up onto a pile of ruins right on the crossroads. Again the searing beams of his fusion weapons sliced through the great clumsy tank and this time they found a fuel tank - the fireball rose up into the sky like a great black funeral marker for the crew. With their blaster firing ineffectually the Vespid swooped down onto the mass of infantry that had moved up to seize the last witness to what had happened, Balesword following their lead through the shattered walls to join them in slamming into the enemy lines. Inspired by the searing destruction of his blue-hot blades the vespid struck out each killing their opposite number - then still without stopping swooping in among the fleeing remnants to finish them.
Balesword cut off his Fusion Blades and reached down to the cowering Gue'La. The universal translator stuttered for a moment before squawking out the words "I am not here to harm you, do not struggle". On a gesture from him the Vespid rose into the air to meet the huge incoming object. The servos in his hand whirred as he grabbed the back of the figure's clothing, then he felt the almighty tug of the mag-grapple hit as the Orca came past on its extraction run.
All was quiet. The Astra Militarum commander looked around and saw nothing but the receding dot of the Tau flyer and a few swirls of dust where the kroot had been and had left in a hurry.
[First game of an escalation league. The way this works is that the more you lose the faster your army grows. I am starting in after a few weeks so was already outnumbered.
After a clear win (10-3 I think) for the Tau due to a decisive assault on the bottom of the last turn it looks like I will be outnumbered more next time. The challenge continues.
My list for this is
Commander Balesword. Commander with Fusion Blades, Fusion Blaster, Target Lock and Iridium Armour. I have two gun drones in the list but accidentally took marker drones with me so I did not fire them at all in the game and just used them as ablative wounds. He had Echos of the Grand Master warlord trait and took Tank Hunters special rule given what I was facing.
Vespid unit with four vespid
Kroot unit with 19 Kroot, 2 Krootox and two hounds. The sheer size of the unit protected it from having to take morale checks from the first two rounds of shooting.
450 points on the nose. The format of the league restricts my number of units which is why there is such a large kroot mob.
The AM list was at 600 or 650 at this point in the league. What it had that mattered was
Command squad, commander had the Bombardment Warlord Trait - it missed. Otherwise they hid out of harm's way
Leman Russ with battlecannon and lascannon
Banewolf, poison template weapon and heavy flamer
Sentinel squadron with two autocannon sentinels
Several infantry units - the big unit had some heavy weapons teams with autocannon.
The key points in the win were my kroot making their morale check on turn 3 to stay on the table - and my commander unit then coming down and stunning both tanks with penetrating hits using the target lock and Tank Hunters. The scenario ended on turn 4 so that saved the kroot and set me up for the charge on the bottom of the last turn]