A Catacomb Command Barge, whilst similar in appearance and structure to an Annihilation Barge, serves a very different purpose for Necron forces; whereas Annihilation Barges bring ruination upon the living from a distance, Catacomb Command Barges close on the foe as quickly as possible so that the embarked Necron Overlord can strike at his enemies with sword and scythe. Catacomb Command Barges serve solely as conveyors for Necron nobility, particularly those with a propensity for melee combat. Catacomb Command Barges are far swifter than Annihilation Barges, so that the barge’s master might be conducted to wherever he is most needed, and to ensure that no foes escape their intended fate. It is a near-universal truth that the nobility of every thinking race seek to showcase their status, and the Necrons are no exception.
The most aggressive Necron Overlords fight not on foot, but rather from the deck of a Catacomb Command Barge -- an armoured, dimensional repulsor-driven skimmercraft. In ancient times, this craft would hover high above the army, so that all Necrontyr could see their Overlord’s presence and take heart from it. Catacomb Command Barges are first and foremost a way to show how (literally) far above their servants and enemies a Necron Lord or Overlord is. For those Lords who prefer to keep their skeletal hands clean, a Command Barge can hover above the battlefield, allowing them to survey the combat and issue orders while avoiding the swirl of melee and all but the most dedicated of ranged attackers. Most Overlords can no longer directly inspire the soldiery as they once could though -- few Necrons still possess the capacity for such emotions -- but technology has filled the void.
A Catacomb Command Barge is nothing less than a giant carrier wave generator, equipped with sophisticated sub-frequency broadcasting equipment, omnivoxes, and hyperspace transmitters, that allows an Overlord to instantaneously issue commands to nearby troops, Necron forces in the local vicinity and even in orbit, regardless of conditions or interference. Even in the present age, when inspiration has little to do with visibility, an Overlord will often seek a raised vantage point from the battle’s start, so he might better define the enemy’s intended strategy before it unfolds.
The Catacomb Command Barge itself is a swift and manoeuvrable craft -- it has to be, for an Overlord must keep pace with the battle at all times. Though the Overlord is undeniably the Command Barge’s master, he does not operate its controls. Such work is beneath a member of the nobility, and especially below those of such esteemed rank as he. Rather, the skimmercraft’s controls are the charge of two slaved Necron crew who act as both pilots and as gunners for its underslung weaponry. These Necrons are hard-wired to the Overlord through the craft's mechanism and can react to his instructions in a fraction of a second. This does not, however, prevent the Overlord from issuing verbal commands -- old habits die hard in old soldiers. Indeed, it is often possible to hear the Overlord’s authoritative instructions or angry epithets echoing across a battlefield as he drives his crew hard up to, and sometimes beyond, their limits. Whether this is out of vanity, nostalgia for the time of flesh, or a damaged engrammatic synthapse, depends on the individual Lord.
Service aboard a Command Barge is considered to be a great honour, though it is not without its risks. Not only does it guarantee a place in the very heart of battle, but if the Overlord is slain -- or sometimes even if he is merely put to inconvenience through mechanical failure -- retribution falls upon his pilots. However, an Overlord can perform a symbiotic repair if the vehicle has its weapon or motor drives destroyed. This comes at a physical cost though for the Overlord himself, as he must give up a portion of his personal energy to repair the barge.
With his barge’s systems attended to by his minions, the Overlord is free to wield his Warscythe against his foe, for a Catacomb Command Barge allows a Necron royal to swiftly engage his foes in close combat. Sometimes he will disembark before doing so, preferring to face his chosen foe with feet braced firmly on solid ground. At other times, however, the Overlord will remain seated on his Catacomb Command Barge; choosing instead to strike at the foe with great sweeps of his blade as his barge screams past. While Catacomb Command Barges are typically employed in large-scale engagements, they might also be utilised whenever a Necron noble requires speed and manoeuvrability to accomplish his goals. The barge's transmitters can be useful for a Lord who wishes to conduct a more delicate operation from a safe distance. For a Lord taking a more personal involvement, the Barge’s speed ensures that no fleeing witnesses escape with their lives. The last sight of many an enemy has been that of a Catacomb Command Barge swooping out of the sky with the Overlord’s blade gleaming as it swings around in a decapitating arc…
A Catacomb Command Barge can be armed with either of these weapons mounted on its underside:
- Tesla Cannon – Tesla Cannons unleash bolts of living lightning that crackles from foe to foe after hitting its target, charring flesh and melting armour. Tesla bolts feed off the energy released by the destruction they cause, thus making their lightning become more furious with every fresh arc.
- Gauss Cannon – The same weapon as that wielded most commonly by Necron Destroyers, Gauss Cannons make for a reliable weapon that is easily capable of laying waste to enemy infantry through the molecular disassembling beams they deliver; reducing flesh, armour and bone to their constituent atoms.
Catacomb Command Barges are also protected by the following:
- Necrodermis - The armour of Catacomb Command Barges is made up of the same living metal Necrodermis that makes up all Necron bodies and vehicles. Its remarkable regenerative properties allow it to automatically repair damage to itself; whether this is the regeneration of parts of its hull, the reknitting of metal plates, and the reconnection of circuits and other delicate systems to bring its weapon online again.
- Quantum Shielding – Catacomb Command Barges are also protected by a layer of Quantum Shielding which exists out of phase from the rest of the vehicle until the moment of deflection. It can deflect the first shot that would otherwise penetrate the Barge’s armour, after which it cannot be used again for some time.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 15, 52, 81-82, 91
- Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 148-149
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 113, 138-139