The Musings of a failed Archon, Haqn Y Cajal reflects on the past

I remember well, those millennium of old. Where the Dark Eldar were a feared foe in the galaxy. My appearance on the battlefield would cause dismay and whole armies would crumble at the thought of facing such a fast and ruthless enemy. They’d whisper to me, my Agoniser poised for the decapitation, “who are you, that could move so fast and strike so quickly”. Marines, those slow moving clumsy shoe-box bound men, whose tactic was to drive very quickly and storm out of their rhinos, rapid firing and assaulting. My warriors were cannon fodder to their bolters, but who was to care, for it lured them into harms way and the precious wyches would pounce, appearing from over the horizon, sqealing with joy as they fell on the hapless marines, left flat footed.

I remember the Iron Warriors in 004.M39, caught strung out like a line of intoxicating powder, unaware of the peril they faced as they were outflanked by myself and the wyches. Or the Novamarines in 003.M39 who lent us so many souls, living and dead, we needed extra stripped down raiders to carry them all back to Cormargh.

But now, the skills have been lost, the enemy has some strange grasp on the very fabric of warfare and we find ourselves outfought in every aspect of battle. My warriors, once for a brief 200 years, could be convinced that to flee from combat was worse than facing the wrath of Hurghada, so would stand toe to toe with the enemy. Now, they flee like rats as soon as a single warrior dies. They turn their backs, hoping that speed will untangle them from the enemy, and they get cut down. Whole Kabals at a time.

Once we were the fastest species to wage war. I don’t count those stupid and reckless orks of course with red paint delusions, but opening up the gravitic cascade engines on a reaver or a raider would leave everything time shifted and reddened. Now, even the monkeigh has pretensions to move like us. Our foolish kin loop around the planets like deranged explorers while the earth bound, stink engined marines have some magik that allows them creditable speed.

And with speed came an ability to shoot. The big guns they call demolisher cannon, battle cannon, earthshakers and whirlwind missile batteries all had this magik bestowed upon them, Once they struggled to fire while spiked to the ground, now they move from behind buildings and shoot us like daemons. Once they couldn’t hit the side of a monolith, now the fall of shot is regular and predictable. They fire with an improbable multitude of weapons, bolters, scatter lasers, assault cannon and storm bolters, none diminished in ferocity for having moved. Where did they learn this skill ?

Speed? I mourn those days of speed. My warriors with winged feet, surprising the foe and launching attacks that could isolate the unwary. Now I see Daemon Princes, lurching along in a grim parody of our grace, Dreadnaughts lumbering that extra few yards and even the dim witted and slowly relentless chaos marines lifting their skirts and barn storming across the battlefield. Oh they lack the grace to fall into assault, but the prizes we have lost to this new found brute speed are uncountable. Even the daemons, coming out of the warp, spread quickly before we can target them with fire.

Once a battle wasn’t measured by how many souls you gave away, but by what you achieved in battle. My warriors are like blowflies, a few thousand sacrificed for the sake of a game, so the wyches could have some pleasure, is nothing to me. But this is not the way and the new Kabals, the mindless Archons bred from the lifeless souls of auditors, count, yes count their casualties.

The same bureaucrats might have had the foresight to give our raider warriors pistols instead of unwieldy rifles, for millennium I have pointed out that the enemy appear to benefit from an extra attack by this choice of weapon. Now it seems the enemy has outsmarted us again and carries both pistols and bolters to use as the situation warrants. Perhaps the plan is to sacrifice the warriors, weaken the combat kabals so the licentious despots could live safely in Cormargh and turn to worship one they should not trust.

The same cretinous thought processes have dictated a new battle orthodoxy, to try and take and hold objectives. Not to just grab them and moon the enemy, but to actually grab them and stand and fight to hold onto them. Whatever happened to the doctrine of Asdrubeal, who was wise and ruthless, not for him the mindless fight for dubious relics, but the swift scalpel of incision followed by the haunting disappearance from the surgery. While we lose the ruthless lust for souls, the enemy is adopting tactics that are unheard of except in a few select and intelligent enemies. They are falling back from the melee if they are defeated, automatically, while we try and hold onto their shirt tails, so their battle brothers (and I use this term advisedly, for they are all inbred, incestuous sons of a common singular gene strand) can mow us down with bolters. Who imbibed such tactical nectar ? Who provided the wisdom for such acts when for 40 millennium we have relied upon the combat until death mantra?

What happened to us ? Our raiders, once the fastest and most deadly craft in the galaxy, hard to see let alone shoot, now fall out of the sky to unwieldy cannon fire. Once they could barely glance us, now the munitions search out the core engines and we are left smeared over the planet. Smeared my friend, smeared. The warriors have lost even the art of jumping off the doomed raider, once half or more would make the dive, now less than a third can stand after the raider goes down, and these men are so amazed by the experience they are likely to stand around smacking each other on the back while the enemy outflanks them. Our only defense is to move so quickly that the fighting warriors can all but hold on and the weapons teams haven’t the opportunity to even fire. Yet even this does not disrupt the enemy gunners.

Our pilots lost the skill of flying close to the ground, to provide cover for those warriors and raiders behind them, now they fly at 200 feet as if on a sightseeing tour. The wyches have but one choice, to come to battle, choose the first foe that is in range and rush to the assault. The irony, the very imitation of the early monkeigh tactics. I now have to drug my raider pilots and with promises of slave girls, send them hurling at the enemy in the hope they might crash and obscure the rest of my fleet.. But the enemy remains wise and ignores the obvious ploy, shoots past the distraction as if it weren’t there, screaming in mere meters from their position, filling the sky with its bulk.

We did learn to unleash a hail of splinter fire and that was pleasing to my eye, until I saw the monkeigh, the one-eyed vibrators and the ones built like robots doing the same. Even the greenskins have learnt the skill of firing quickly and at range. Pew Pew guns are all very well, but a hail of slugga rounds from 180 meters gives me a headache. Rapid firing was some trick, sent by She Who Thirsts, to harvest dark elder souls for her pleasure. The ranks of Cormargh have thinned over these dark years.

Our prized marksmanship has also deserted us. Where did the veteran disintegrator crews go? Now we have only trainees and incompetents who miss two thirds of the time. How standards have fallen.

Should I bore you with tales of the masks we used to wear? They paralyzed the enemy with fear. Our Haemonculi bred the grotesques used to shield us, they took a 20 millennium to perfect for that exact reason. Big, robust flesh zombies, almost impossible to kill with bolters, now the enemy simply ignores them and shoots the warriors, the wyches and the reavers. And me. Once my shadowfield was protection from shooting, now the enemy sees me with unerring precision and I am forced to hide amongst the rabble. The rabble panic at the slightest sniff of incoming fire and they carry me, yes actually carry me, from the battlefield on taking but a few paltry wounds. The ignominy.

Prisoners, once the point of our raiding parties, now are as scarce as elder wraithbone. Old Archon Cryx failed to capture a single prisoner on his last expedition. Some new magik that prevents the enemy from falling into our hands. The enemy would once fall back from our grotesques, such was the horrid demeanor invested into them. Now the enemy stand and laugh, for the grotesques are as likely to win a fight as I am likely to take a web way portal into battle, and should, by some miracle, the grotesques and haemonculi win the fight, only the necrons and guard flee. Strangely their willingness to fight in this fearless galaxy has become somewhat reduced.

So I ponder what has happened. How we have fallen. I grow tired. I am weary of the senseless and unending trial of pointless raids. Facing drop pods that land so close it is as if we were carrying the locator beacons for them, while our own webway proves fickle and tortuous to enter. The occasional victory over an enemy so pathetically led, or so ill equipped, gives little succor to this proud Archon. It is time to remember the days when we ruled the galaxy, our strikes laying waste whole colonies, whole hive cities. Daemons and wraithlords cut down with agonisers, marines outnumbered two to one pleading for a quick death. Whole terminator squads disappearing in flashes of dark lance fire. Take my message to Asdrubeal, tell him we beg for his intervention, tell him we will serve him, tell him we need the edge. Send drugs, send us cannon, send us splinter pistols, send us armour, send us destructors, send us resolve, send us hope. Send us Kroot.

haqn Y cajal