The mighty Stronghold Gehenna, found amongst the mountains of Mirrodin and the point from which Phyrexian control of the plane issued. It was a bright day when Darigaaz arrived. Yet all was silent and still. But for all the brightness, this day would prove to be the darkest day of the war thus far. Death would not go hungry, and the dry earth would quench it’s thirst with blood.
Without issue Darigaaz approached the first mount. Finding it abandoned he set about converting it to a Coalition outpost. As the green moon dipped below the horizon, Darigaaz was once more ready to advance to the next stepping stone to destruction.
At the second mount Gwendlyn waited, beckoning her foes forward. Across the bridge and up the trail blood tyrants led the way behind shields to block the inevitable hail of arrows. But Gwendlyn was not to simply allow ease of passage. Down the mountain flowed a stream of magma. It tore open the fore of Darigaaz’s force. Then into the new breach volleys of arrows flew, further slicing through the oncoming blood tyrants and rakavolvers behind. The centre began to cave in, and even before the dragons could move to support the Coalition was already falling back.
However, it did not take long for Darigaaz to recover from the setback. He soon again returned to the attack. As blood tyrants once again made their way up the path, vampiric dragons set out into the lower reaches of the brimstone clouds. Soon, Phyrexian forces were under direct attack. Blood tyrants charged into a defensive formation, and after a few moments of making little headway pulled back. Bringing up their shields once more.
From the brimstone clouds above fell vampiric dragons, unfortunately many were not sufficiently cautious and found themselves overexposed to the harsh conditions - thus literally falling. Changing focus to the new threat, Gwendlyn cut down swathes of the remaining dragons. Then from behind her other vampires assaulted the Coaliton rear. Darigaaz's attack faltered and proved unable to make the most of any disruption. Thus sank the black moon and a second day past; the Coalition retreated back to their previous outpost.
After a time to recover and rest, Darigaaz marched once more. Again he faced magma flows and volleys, but this time his soldiers had learnt from their mistakes. Blood Tyrants were not as tightly packed to the front end and dragons flew lower. This attack went by much more successfully - it was still costly, far too many fell, but at long last, the peak was gained. Yet by then Phyrexia had already abandoned their position leaving only a few stranglers. The rest of the force could be seen moving into the Grand Fortress. The Coalition took the opportunity to rest once more and form the forges into a second rally point.
At last, the white moon set, and the fourth day began - and the final push. Upon the fortress the Coalition forces threw themselves. Overlords battered upon the gates while the infantry tried to maintain mobility against cannon, yet form against arrow volleys. Draconic salvo spread over the artillery emplacements when they could. It was again a costly assault, but the Coalition slowly inched forward over their own dead. Then at last, the gates burst open and Darigaaz flooded into the courtyard.
At the end of the week, the Coalition was left in control of Gehenna. But bodies were mounted high, the defensive cannons damaged, and the gates left gaping wide. Nominally it was a victory, but it didn’t feel so much like one.
All knew of that Phyrexians were coming. After pledging themselves to the Coalition many feared they would die this day - even the isolationist Endara elves were aware Phyrexia's horrors. Phelddagrif made sure to impress upon them the costs this battle could bring and the importance of standing firm against a common foe. In the end, all the elves chose to stand with him and prepared themselves for death.
Elsewhere, Vorosh, by determining the state of the past battles from Kaysa's captured elves, prepared his units to tear up the trees and the associated defences around the palace. He intended to make the most of the clearing to easily get in and begin the process. This proved a very, very bad idea.
As dragons descended upon the trees, countless ballistae opened fire upon their rear. Hundreds of dragons fell to the ground in the first volley. But the survivors were not going to stick around to find a new place, nor their hidden enemy. Within moments, and with Phyrexia barely having arrived, they were already in full rout. The elves of Endara were so impressed they unanimously elected FFP as their new ruler, giving him the palace as his personal abode and commissioning a statue for the courtyard.
Beneath deep red skies Tarox approached Kuldotha. To the fore whelps rapidly covered ground to reach their entrenched foes, while behind the rest of the Coalition were arranged to bring forth slaughter and death. Given the enemy army composition, Tarox had made greater consideration for Numot to be outside, but the air seemed empty upon arrival.
As the Coalition neared, Kuldotha's peak bloomed, sending clouds of dragons into the air upon updrafts from within. Bolstered by magics their descent smashed through the whelpish screen and deep into phoenixes and opposing dragons before the Coalition could reorient themselves for the attack from above. In that single devastating blow, Tarox's formations fell apart and were unable to focus upon the enemy in their midst. Yet Tarox had numbers on his side, it was only a matter of time before he simply overwhelmed his opponents. Aware of this, they were not going to stick around and quickly retreated back to safety, sealing with them those foolish enough to follow.
This left Tarox at last free to act. Down to the entrance he went, only to find it shut. Of course, some good ol’ dragon blowtorches were in order. Breaking down the door, he found more barricades, and more, and it was through someone put all their garbage there just to be annoying. But it was inevitable that the Coalition would breach it. Flame soon burst into Kuldotha, followed quickly by Coalition dragons. Yet, Numot was ready. The piled junk had created a more confined and awkward space for dragons to move preventing any substantial charge. In the same vein it provided platforms from which knights could fire upon the rear of units breaking in while dragons flamed their flanks. The whole thing proved a death trap for the Coalition, they chose the nobler cause in fleeing than marching to their deaths.
Slobad watched the defeat from afar with a heavy heart. He had been certain that Tarox would be able to save his home even if he himself could not. But he would fight on, never to surrender to Phyrexia. He approached Kuldotha, set upon retaking it himself, when Phyrexians began pouring out once more, heavily armed and equipped with the weapons of the Great Furnace. The goblins didn’t stand a chance. Those who did not accept compleation were brutally slaughtered and now Slobad's head dangles from the gates to proclaim this fate for all who would halt the Grand Evolution.
The poor unfortunate Geth was at it again, although perhaps without the Coalition around he would have a bit more luck. In any case he decided to advance under the cover of darkness, which with the rain producing cloud cover ensured that there was very little light to be had. The main benefit this had was that it ensured there would be no issue with the rocs; and to make his already dark units harder to spot - even for artificial critters. There was a bit of trouble feeding onis through the day, but there was not so many of them left any more in any case.
Up the dried river bed they marched. Lightning reavers within the valley were spotted by vigilant masticores while the sounds of Yawgmoth’s knights’ armour echoed through the night - and so the defenders prepared themselves. Yet, they missed the deeper darkness travelling atop the mesas. In any case, even if the canyon bound troops had not been detected by sight and sound, the traps that had been spread through the ruined buildings would have quickly proclaimed their presence.
After battling through various traps, the entrance to the caverns was at last glimpsed by Geth. As he approached the dark breach defenders erupted from the ruins upon either flank while masticores burst from the darkness of the caverns. Surrounded it seemed that Geth would fail once more - but he stood his ground and fought vailiantly all the same.
Then from atop the cliffs came nihiliths, using their tentacles for purchase they descended upon the manticore rear. With a strengthened morale and sense of resolve, the rest of Phyrexia fought twide as hard. Together these factors gave Geth the chance to push forward through the centre into the caverns. Once there, he needed only to stand firm until Bosh got the message that something better will be needed to dislodge him.
Into the remains of Gamalgoth Ghave flew, spotting the many Coalition and Myril banners marking the still standing structures he converged upon them, spreading clouds of plague and death the whole way there to entice his foes upward. Unbeknown to Phyrexia however, the Coalition already was, just really rather far away and in the clouds - which was more than a little unhealthy for them.
In any case, the city was soon filled with plague and arrow volleys, yet still, no Coalition forces presented themselves. It begun to seem that more ruin would be necessary to coax them out - and that is when the concealed LInvala prepared to strike. There was one minor trouble however, Linvala had ordered her units to use custom bolts with attached chains, and chains, especially 8000 of them are really rather loud. Much to her misfortune this gave away her position above.
The bolts and chains soon fell upon Phyrexians below all the same. Accuracy was atrocious and most deaths occurred from simply knocking foes from the skies, but all the same, it achieved its purpose. Quickly following came the Coalition forces, trusting that attacking from an unexpected angle would grant swift victory. Of course, Ghave had those few precious extra moments to prepare, and as Linvala swept from above, she met Phyrexians charging from below far before she could prepare for impact. Then trapped within Phyrexia’s clouds, the angelic forces wearier far quicker than the zombies below.Linvala was forced to call the retreat, leaving Gamalgoth in Phyrexian hands.
As Crovax returned at the head of his army to see Linvala, who defeated him so easily, dispatched, he was quick to pledge his allegiance to Phyrexian overlords.And so it was, the great hero of an alternate timeline was assimilated into Phyrexia. Crovax was again the Ascendent Evincar of Gamalgoth.
Now, unfortunately, the other Crovax the Ascendant Evincar didn't share his alternate timeline version's good sense. He got into the rum before battle and thought that he was defending the Steam Beast. This proved a slight problem when he discovered that he wasn’t anywhere near the hulking creature to start with. While the Phyrexians who did hold it chugged along slowly making amusing squelching and rumbling noises from the previous damages.
Crovax made sure to fix this trouble of not being at the Beast as quickly as possible. Expecting to be on the Beast raining death upon his foes, when his foes did that exact thing to him, he was more than a touch confused. But one way or another, he was going to get in there and get the thing repaired proper! This quite dumbfounded Phyrexia, but it did make picking off the attackers rather simple.
The point doesn't much need to be belaboured, but it didn’t go well for Crovax. While tightening a screw on the front leg he got stepped on. Quite an embarrassing way to go really, but they can't all be glamourous deaths.
Jor ran away (which probably saved him from being annihilated utterly), but not before rigging the place with explosives. Kozilek charged in expecting an enemy bunkered down hiding from the smog rather than booby traps. … Yeah, Jor was still long gone, but the present he left behind ensured that Phyrexia didn’t take the factory without cost. The magma vats, gate, and western walls are quite very damaged now too.
Through the rain Greven trudged, it wasn’t a pleasant march, but it was uneventful which is as much as could be hoped. By the time the lake was reached, it was quite clear that there were no enemies around anywhere, so the Ultimus was hiding away within. And thus, Greven charged.
And charged straight into the Ultimus washing machine. As he ordered within five minutes, he even got a second doppelganger washing machine absolutely free!
As could be expected in such a state, the liquid of the lake was churning, frothing, and constantly moving. For the elemental defenders directing the flows, this was relatively minor. Greven however had a much harder time of it. Saying his tight spear wielding formations were disrupted would be an understatement, while his angels from above were picked off by high pressure hoses in a manner suspiciously similar to that water spitting fish in the Amazon.
Unable to hold his forces together (but squeaky clean!) Greven called for the retreat - and was ‘pleased’ to discover that the oil around Lake Ultimus had been set alight, providing a complementary drying service after his wash. Isn’t the Ultimus considerate?
In the swamps Emrakul knew the watery areas would be where Wrexial was strongest. So like any good commander, he refused to put himself in his opponent’s element, thus he remained high and dry. Now then, Wrexial knew full well that Emrakul would be expecting a watery assault and made sure to prepare a non-wet one instead.
Upon his dry mount Emrakul stood waiting. For many days he stood, the white moon set, followed by the green, then red. Then, the black moon alone rose and Mirrodin became the darkest that it ever gets - and that is when Wrexial chose to strike. But first, what he had been up to all this time - for the many days out and about, he had been making himself a small set of explosives, camouflaging his units within the Mephidross, and generally otherwise waiting for that black moon.
In the relative darkness, the Coalition detected sounds to their south, soon confirmed to be an apparently large contingent of axesharks attempting to sneak through. Emrakul gave the order and the Coalition swept around to be downwind and began firing volleys. The spreadness and cover of the formation - and actually far fewer there than believed - ensured that some slipped through. But a few axesharks against a tight Coalition phalanx was hardly an issue! Until they began to blow up, that was more troublesome. Then under cover of the first wave, those that fell from volleys finished the job to get back in there (once spread over a wide area the ability to not shrug off a mortal wound isn't quite as viable).
In the heat of battle it was not apparent that many of the scouts were missing. It was clear why when from the darkness came the rest of Phyrexia - bursting from the shadows of the swamp from all angles. Nets entangled their foes while spears pierced metal. The Coalition were unable to reform their lines after the initial assault now disrupted by continuing attacks. Emrakul was forced to pull out before the whole thing became an even greater slaughter.