"Let me tell you of my future. My hand will reach out into the stars, reshaping the galaxy into a place of order and unity. Under my reign, the kingdoms of old shall live again, reborn to an age of power and glory the like of which you can only imagine. I will rule every planet touched by the light of this star and, even in the darkness beyond, my name will be whispered with fear and respect. Your future, by contrast, is looking less than glorious -- you will not be reaching out your hand to anything ever again, I think. Embrace the pain and humiliation of its loss, so that you might better learn the lessons from your defeat. Learn them well enough, and you might even be reborn as an enemy worthy of my attention. A hand is a measly price for such a gift, is it not?"
- —Imotekh the Stormlord to Eldorath Starbane, in the wake of the Eldar's failed Siege of Somonor
The Siege of Somonor was a military campaign fought by the Eldar of Craftworld Alaitoc in 798.M41 against the Necrons of the newly emergent Sautekh Dynasty on the Tomb World of Somonor. The Sautekh Phaeron, Imotekh the Stormlord, played on the overconfidence of the Eldar Farseer Eldorath Starbane to lead the Eldar war host he commanded into a trap deep within the Necron stasis-tomb on Somonor that saw the entire Eldar force exterminated. As a reminder of the humiliating defeat, Imotekh amputated Starbane's right hand, but allowed the Farseer to live so that he could take the news of his defeat back to Alaitoc. The Seer Council of Alaitoc promptly began planning for a major assault on the heart of the Sautekh Dynasty in response.
When the Eldar Farseer Eldorath Starbane led his war host to the Tomb World of Somonor, he expected to face a Necron tomb disoriented from its long sleep of sixty million standard years in stasis. Yet such a simple battle was not to be. The Phaeron Imotekh the Stormlord, his campaign of reconquest ascendant after a series of pivotal victories against the Imperium of Man, had come to Somonor seeking to bend its Overlord to his will and the service of his Sautekh Dynasty. The arrival of the Eldar had sped the negotiations in Imotekh's favour, for Somonor could not stand against this ancient enemy of the Necrons alone. The Tomb World's stasis-crypts had been ill-prepared for the Great Sleep and many thousands of its Necron Warriors had passed into dust; those that had survived were rising slowly and fitfully. Thusly, Somonor's Overlord Szaron had little hesitation in pledging allegiance to the growing Sautekh Dynasty, for the alternative was to see his domain destroyed at Starbane's hands. With the pact sealed, Imotekh's priorities swiftly turned to battle -- a battle that would have to be won through guile as much as through force of arms.
Eldar War Host Strikes
So it was that when Eldorath Starbane led his advance force to the chill caldera that concealed the tomb's entrance, he found it held against him. Confident of victory, the Farseer launched his attack without waiting for the rest of the host -- it was a mistake that would cost the Eldar dearly. For every advance the Eldar made, Imotekh had prepared a counter. Nowhere was this more clearly seen than when a Wave Serpent and its Vyper squadron escort split off from the main Eldar assault and drove hard towards the battle's heart, their goal to assail Imotekh directly. Yet Imotekh had expected such a move; indeed, he had left certain sectors of his defence enticingly weak to provoke such an attempt. So it was that as the Vypers closed into killing range, there was a blinding flash of emerald light, and the immovable bulk of a Monolith materialised between the Eldar and their prey. Unable to pull up in time, the lead Vyper slammed full-tilt into the slab-sided Necron war vessel, the resulting fireball leaving not so much as a scorch mark on the Monolith's living metal hull. Saved by a split-second's warning and their pilots' preternatural reflexes, the other Vypers broke formation and banked hard, swarming about the Monolith's flanks like angry insects as they brought their weapons to bear on the new target. Yet the damage had already been done, and with the Vyper screen disrupted, the Monolith was free to bring its Particle Whip to bear on the Wave Serpent behind. This it did with pinpoint accuracy, the first blast reducing the grav-tank to a shattered hulk, and the second obliterating the handful of Aspect Warriors who crawled from the burning wreckage.
At every turn, Imotekh sought to deny the Eldar their most important tactical advantage -- manoeuvrability. Deathmarks sniped Jetbikers from their saddles. Flotillas of Heavy Destroyers positioned about the rim of the caldera targeted Falcons and Fire Prisms with volley after volley of crackling Gauss Weapon fire, punching through hulls and disabling anti-gravity units. By the time Starbane realised the severity of the threat he faced, his force was incapable of retreat and had no choice but to press on. Yet Imotekh's methodical countermeasures could only hold back the Eldar for so long. For every crippled Necron that reassembled itself and rejoined the firing line, another succumbed to critical damage and was whisked away by retrieval teleporters. Little by little, the Stormlord's forces wore thin. The Monolith was destroyed in a bold assault by Fire Dragon Aspect Warriors, the Deathmarks eliminated by Pathfinders, and the Destroyers were scoured from their perch by Dark Reapers. And still the Eldar came -- the main body of the host had arrived and were massing for a second attack. Imotekh knew that his remaining forces could not hold against this new wave of attackers -- but then, it had never been the plan to do so. Summoning angry storm clouds to cover his retreat, Imotekh unsealed the great stone entrance and led his dwindling army into the darkness of the tomb. Had Starbane been less arrogant, less certain of his superiority and that of his race, he might have recognised the trap for what it was and withdrawn. Yet the Farseer cast his runes in haste and saw only victory ahead, and so missed subtle warnings hidden amongst the skeins of fate and the flow of the Empyrean.
Long did the Eldar walk in darkness, through dusty vaults and chambers that had not been seen by the living for millions of Terran years. Though they caught sight of many technological wonders, the intruders caught not so much as a glimpse of the Necrons they pursued, nor the tomb's robotic servitors. The deeper Starbane progressed into the tomb without any contact, the more he grew convinced that the enemy had simply fled, escaping into the subterranean labyrinth in order to fight another day. Deeper and deeper into the tomb the Eldar went until, in a colossal vaulted chamber many miles beneath the surface, Imotekh sprang his trap. Without warning, quantum gravitic force fields flickered into life at the chamber's exits, sealing the Eldar within.
The Trap is Sprung
As his followers turned their weaponry on the force fields, Starbane could just make out the figure of Imotekh through the shimmering barrier of gravitic force, the impassive Phaeron standing mute and proud at the head of a phalanx of Immortals. Starbane saw the Stormlord raise one clenched metallic fist in salute, then the buzzing began. It started as a low drone that rumbled through the stone floor, rising in volume and intensity until it drowned out any other sound. As the noise reached fever pitch, swirling clouds of blood-red Nanoscarabs burst from concealed vents. They swarmed about the intruders, probing armour for any crack that would allow ingress, then burrowing into the warm flesh beneath. Then, as soon as it had begun, the buzzing ceased; the swarm of Nanoscarabs dissipated. The flagstones of the chamber were slick with Eldar blood, and the air thick with the screams of the wounded, but Starbane was grimly jubilant -- Imotekh's trap had been sprung, but the Eldar had endured it. The Farseer looked beyond the force field, a challenge in his eyes as he met Imotekh's gaze once again. In reply, the Stormlord tilted his head slightly to one side -- though his expression was incapable of change, there was something distinctly mocking in his aspect. Then the Flayed Ones attacked.
The Flayed Ones dropped out of the darkness, their mad voices keening with bloodlust as their razor-sharp claws slashed and tore at the intruders. In the face of this new threat, the quantum shields were swiftly forgotten, the Eldar gathering into knots of warriors who fought back-to-back against their attackers. It was impossible to say how long the gangrel creatures had lurked in the shadows, clutching to the vaulted ceiling. Perhaps they had been there before the Eldar had entered the chamber, perhaps they had been drawn by the Bloodswarm Scarabs -- it mattered little. Initially, the Flayed Ones wrought great carnage, isolating individual Guardians and Aspect Warriors from their fellows and tearing them limb from shrieking limb. Yet, as the Eldar resistance grew less panicked and the defensive ring grew ever tighter, the tide began to turn. The Flayed Ones attacked again and again, only to be hurled back by the disciplined shuriken fire of Guardians and Aspect Warriors who fought shoulder-to-shoulder and back-to-back. The Flayed Ones attacked once, twice, three times more, then warily circled their prey, searching for an opening.
It was only when the Flayed Ones stalled their attack that Imotekh unleashed the final phase of his trap. With a gesture, the Stormlord negated the force field that stood before him, and ordered his undying minions into the fray. The Immortals advanced, firing indiscriminately as they came, uncaring as to whether their shots hit Eldar or Flayed One. For their part, the Flayed Ones were able to escape the threat, twisting aside and melting into the shadows as swiftly as they had come. For the Eldar, gathered in a tight formation to better defend against the melee attacks of the Flayed Ones, the onslaught was devastating -- nearly half their number fell in the first volley, and those that survived were so disoriented that their counterattack did little to stay the implacable Necron advance. By the time Imotekh led a shield wall of his Lychguard into the chamber, the outcome of the battle was no longer in doubt.
Of the Eldar warriors who had entered the tomb on Somonor, only one survived to bring news of the defeat to Craftworld Alaitoc. In the Chamber of Eternal Starlight, Eldorath Starbane stood before the Craftworld's Seer Council and recounted the slaughter in the catacombs. The Farseer told of how Imotekh had spared him whilst all other captives had been swiftly put to death. He told how the Stormlord had severed his right hand to serve as a humiliating reminder of the defeat, and then set him loose. Starbane's words brought great dismay, and the council turned swiftly to plans of vengeance. Their next strike would not fall against Somonor, but at the very heart of the Sautekh Dynasty itself...
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 22-23, 24