Saturday, December 09, 2017

Harlequins raid Protogonus

While the Imperium fought with itself and chaos for control of the Foramen, the Tau had show little interest in the campaign since its inception. And with the failure of the Federacy to gain a foothold at Destino, the Tau were increasingly hesitant to get involved, preferring instead to search out new pathways between their empire and the Aleph Expansion sphere, still cut off in the Imperium Nihilis.

This action left the Federacy in particular vulnerable. Should Chaos or the Imperium gain control of the Foramen Majoris, or worse, have it destroyed, the Federacy would be on the front line against a myriad of foes, with less than enthusiastic support from the Tau Empire. The Aeldari, particularly the Rillietan, had seen the threat, and the possible outcomes of such Tau disinterest, and decided to act.

Rather than propose an alliance, which they knew would be difficult and uneasy at best following the events in the Perseus Deeps, the Harlequins decided on a more direct approach. To ensure the Tau were ready and their minds focussed, the Tau would need to be hit, and hit hard on their own territory. To make their point the Aeldari prepared a force and conducted a devastating raid on Protogonus on 0212.017M42.

The destruction wrought by the one time allies of the Tau appalled the alien race, who appealed to the Federacy for aid for their furthest flung colony. The Federacy, quite rightly, rejected this request, citing that too many had already been lost in the unsuccessful Destino campaign. Skyfall then intervened, sending his own forces to Protogonus and planning a significant fortification of the colony. Despite his forces initial inability to defeat the Eldar, the Harlequins then withdrew of their own accord, having achieved their objective.

Imperium react to Chaos at Tarlius

Finally, by early 12.017M42 the Imperium realised that the forces of Chaos were not in fact raiding the Tarlius system, but a full scale invasion was underway. Tarlius had a small population, but its position meant it was now critical to securing of the Foramen Minoris - the main space lane between the Imperium and the Perseus Deeps. 

Warsmith Stahl had already created two fully operational bases on the outer planets of the Tarlius system, but seeing his succecss, the other chaos factions decided to lend their "support" to Stahl's campaign. Whether he liked it or not. The Emperor's Children and Thousand sons, led by Magnus himself, landed on Tarlius 3, a rocky cold desert world, intending to expand the influence of chaos to all habitable planets in the system. Creating bases and defences on all of them would render an invasion by the hated imperium much harder.

The Imperium reacted swiftly to the sudden escalation of the Chaos presence in the Tarlius system, sending a full battlegroup and Admiral Jellicoe's fleet. The fleet presence ensured that Stahl's warships did not intervene, while the Mechanicum sent their own forces from Vandrax, this time to aid the Imperium, as the Crusade also wanted to maintain control of the Foramen Minoris, rather than see its destruction.

The Imperial forces landed on Tarlius 3, but found Magnus's "Emerald Serpent" ready and waiting for them, while the Emperor's Children were ravaging the human settlements on the world. Cybixx took the fight to Magnus, while a division of loyalist Librian forces were set the task of hunting down the other traitor legionaries.

The Librians knew they could not hope to track down the Emperor's Children, so instead they set up defensive positions in settlements not yet raided. Sure enough the traitor astartes took the bait, walking into the crossfire of Librian gunfire. Initially the chaos marines found themselves in difficulties, as they lost their transports to withering heavy weapons fire and suffered significant casualties. The super human veteran fighters were not stunned for long however, and soon used the terrain and ruins of the settlement to advance on the Librian positions. Noise marines covered the imperial positions with gunfire inflicting massive casualties on any units caught in the open, before finally closing and dealing with the heavy armour in close combat.

The engagements occurred across the plains of Tarlius 3 for days, but each time the Emperor's Children were unable to break the imperial defences completely, while the Librians were unable to wipe out the chaos threat. A stalemate ensued, and the battle would be decided by the encounter between Cybixx and Magnus. The mechanicum however found themselves in difficulties, and after exchanging heavy fire with the Thousand sons, this time, unlike in other encounters, the Emerald Serpent was able to close with the Mechanicus positions and inflict heavy casualties. Cybixx, unable to respond adequately to the new aggressive tactics, was forced to withdraw, isolating the Librian defenders and making the Imperial hold on Tarlius 3 extremely tenuous by 0912.017M42.

Eris investigated

Following alarming reports from Eris Inquisitor Huron successfully petitioned Sector Commander Titus Luthor to send a task force to the small Imperial Colony. Along with a small fleet Huron's forces comprised of a detachment of Adeptus Mechanicus and two regiments of Novgorod Guard, with the promise of Astartes support should they find Nemesis on Eris in strength.

Upon arrival it was clear that the "Shadow in the Warp" was close, which confirmed there was a hive fleet in the vicinity. It appeared however that the forces encountered previously were just the vanguard, as while no one still lived on Eris the planet had not yet been consumed. Intending to find out more Huron landed his forces near the main settlement, Eris Prime, and began investigating with the help of the Adeptus Mechanicum.

Soon after landfall, the Imperial forces were attacked from multiple directions. The Mechanicum forces swiftly put down the firts assault, but soon the Novgorod forces defending the landing zone found themselves flanked on two sides by Tyranid forces. The Novgorod however, veterans of many campaigns, were able to first deal with the first tyranid attack, then turn and bring their full force to bear on the remaining Xenos. Two days of hard fighting followed, but by 0612.017M42 Huron was confident that the main Tyranid forces on the planet had been cleansed.

Scans however showed some Tyranid biomass remaining, which warranted further invetigation. More worryingly however, Huron and the Mechanicum noted that there were at least two distinct strains of Xenos genomes in the forces they had found. One was unmistakeably Nemesis, but the other bore more resemblence to Hive fleet Kraken. Disturbed by this turn of events Huron set up a permanent watch post on Eris and set out to find the Hive fleet - or fleets themselves. Were two hive fleets working together?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Vandrax latest position

Crusade Forge ahead

The fall of Vandrax 4 left the loyalists in a perilous position in the Vandrax system. The Lycaon Guard were in no fit state to fight a further crusade attack, which left Hathek's forces consisting of two regiments of Novgorod and a small force of loyalist mechanicum forces. Vorushko offered assistance to the Grey Knights, but they assured her that they would need no such help. The Astartes would settle the matter as they had promised.

First the Knights assaulted the strongest force, the Novgorod Guard. Once again the Militarum forces fought doggedly, and the Grey Knights found the engagement hard going. There was no surrender on Vandrax 1, for these Novgorod forces were those who has only recently fought forces of daemons, and defeat meant extermination. However, assisted by total control of air and space the guard forces were outmanoeuvred by the Ordo Malleus Astartes, and eventually succumbed to the pressure. The ugly business of "cleansing" now began.

Shortly after defeating the Imperial Guard, the Grey Knights prepared for their final assault. All the loyalist positions on the sparsely inhabited world had now been neutralised, so the remaining force, of Adeptus Mechanicus loyal to Hathek, were found in the wilderness. They didn't stand a chance. In a lightning strike the Grey Knights landed right next to the Mechanicus forces, wiping them out swiftly. By 0212.017M42 only New Gregoria held out against the Crusade on Vandrax 2. Against orders from Hathek, Admiral Jellicoe ordered Pendragon to move his battlefleet towards the jump point.

Vandrax 4 taken by Crusade

While the Grey Knights battled the Lycaon Guard on Vandrax 1, Vorushko's main forces embarked from Cybixx Alpha and arrived at Vandrax 4 in only a few hours. Vandrax 4, supported by the Imperial Fists from their base on New Gregoria, was garrisoned by several Novgorod regiments, who put up a solid defence when Cybixx's forces landed in strength close to the loyalist main base. Heavy fighting resulted in a stalemate, but the loyalists possessed inferior logistics, and the Novgorod General needed help.

Help arrived in the form of the Imperial Fists, but Cybixx and the crusade had been prepared for such an eventuality. Deploying their reserve to counter the new threat, the Cerberex Guard launched an immediate offensive. Despite fighting valiantly, the Imperial Fists suffered a heavy defeat, leaving the Novgorod forces surrounded and unable to leave the planet. Realising there was nothing more to gain from continued resistance, the Novgorof Guard surrendered their forces to the crusade on 0112.017M42. Vandrax 4 had fallen to the crusade, and the Novgorod Guard were interned.

Vandrax 1: Grey knights assault loyalists

Following the successful capture of Vandrax 3 the Grey Knights agreed to join Vorushko's crusade, citing the meny dubious acts by Hathek and citing the ageing inquisitor as having lost much of his credibility in not dealing with those Guard regiemtns exposed to daemonic taint. In addition, the Grey Knights saw the logic in Vorushko's plan to destroy one of the Foramen pathways, to deny the Imperium's Xenos enemies but also to prevent an imperial Vandrax from becoming an accessway for daemonic incursion. Despite the Foramen, the power of the warp was still strong on Vandrax, and the daemon hunter astartes feared an Imperial base in the Foramen Majoris would soon lead to massive daemonic invasion.

Their goals agreed, the Astartes sent word to Titus Luthor on Vastrid, declaring Hathek a danger, and planning their invasion of Vandrax 1. Vorushko was still short on troops, so her forces would concentrate on Vandrax 4. The Grey Knights would assault "loyalist" forces on the inner planet, destroying them and laying the ground work for a subsequent invasion.

The initial assault on the Lycaon regiments stationed on Vandrax 1 went well. Taken completely off guard, the Militarum forces were all but wiped out as the Grey Knights made landfall. However, the veteran Guard regiments were nothing if not resourceful, and immediately counter attacked, decimating the Grey Knights force and forcing them to retreat to their landing site. Crucially however, the Mechanicum bases on Cybixx alpha and Beta allowed a quick response from the Mechanicum fleet, while Jellicoe's loyalist Naval vessels were forced to stand off in the outer reaches of the system. By 2811.017M42 the situation was finely balanced. The crusade had a foothold but only just.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nemesis Returns

Imperial authorities only began to realise that something was badly amiss on Eris when attempts to contact the astropathic choir there failed to elicit any response. An unwary mind is a gateway to the perils of the warp so it was assumed the choir has been slain in some psychic mishap and a small patrol vessel was dispatched from nearby Farport to re-establish contact. It disappeared without trace.

Investigations conducted by the Adeptus Arbites station on Farport soon established that no ships had arrived from Eris for the past three weeks. This had gone completely unnoticed as the vessel's corporate owners had failed to report the losses, likely due to an understandable reluctance to draw attention to the highly questionable nature of the cargo.

The alarm was finally raised and an alert sent to sector commander Titus Luther who made a formal request for assistance from the Imperial Fists. A task force was dispatched to investigate.

As the Astartes Strike Cruiser neared the planet the true reason for the ominous silence became apparent. The entire region was cloaked by a shadow in the warp, a phenomena  associated with Tyranid Hive Fleets. Unusually for Tyranids all electromagnetic communication with the planet was also blocked, jammed by static from an unknown source.

Unable to contact the planet below a small landing force was put together and air dropped into woodland close to the planets capital. At first everything seemed completely innocuous but as the patrol made its way towards the city the Astartes worst fears were confirmed.

The column came under attack from all sides as a massive horde of Tyranid bioforms launched itself from the surrounding trees, fell from the skies and even burst from the very ground and fell upon the Imperial Fists with such speed they could barely react before it washed over them.

All semblance of tactics or formation fell apart as the Emperor's finest battled for their lives. Any other force would have been annihilated in an instant but years of training, battlefield experience and iron discipline proved their worth as the famously stubborn Marines drew together and fought back the tide of enemies.

Finally the thunderous roars of approaching Thunderhawk Gunships prompted the Tyranids to melt back into the forest as quickly as they had appeared. Casualties had been heavy on both sides but the Tyranids held total dominance of the surrounding terrain and the Imperial Fists quickly withdrew whilst they still had the chance. They would return to warn high command of the disaster that had befallen Eris.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Battle of Vandrax 2: Images

 Novgorod Guard take their positions.
 Eldar intervention

 Sky Lords Thunderhawk attack run.
Grey Knights assault tips the balance.

Battle of Vandrax 2: Aftermath

The outcome of the battle of Vandrax 2 was an extremely costly and narrow victory for the Crusade, although Vorushko's forces had been badly battered in the heavy fighting. The Sky Lords committed little and lost little, but the embarrassing failure of their Thunderhawk was a particular concern. The Grey Knights had now tipped their hand in favour of Vorushko, alarming Hathek, who bolstered his personal security arrangements.

For the loyalists the loss of Vandrax 2 now handed control of the Vandrax system firmly over to the Crusade. The loyalists still had bases in the outer planets, but now Cybixx would be able to continue his research with even more resources. It would still take time, but Vorushko's end game vision was coming closer...

Battle of Vandrax 2: Crusade saved by Grey Knights

On 1811.017M42, in the early hours, the Grey Knights landed en masse in the main settlement on Vandrax 2. Conditions for their landfall were marginal, but through a superhuman effort the elite astartes landed and brought death to the loyalist and eldar forces defending the settlement. They managed to secure key objectives, including the city's main power generator, stunning the loyalist general. Units were cut down by ferocious firepower and in close combat. The battle was turning in the Crusade favour.

However, not all was going well for the Crusade. The centre of their line had seen the mechanicum decimated by unfortunate explosions and in the forests the constant harrassment by eldar forces had seen the Volscian and Vostroyan forces close to collapse. However, it was in the city that the battle was finally decided. The grey Knights stubbornly held on in the face of massive return fire from the loyalist firebases, which now had the astartes in a crossfire. However, at a critical moment when the battle could have been salvaged for the loyalists, the eldar hesitated, apparently unsure as to whether to deliver the victory for the loyalists.

The hesitation by the eldar ultimately cost the loyalists the battle, and then the planet, as the Grey Knights secured the area long enough for enginseers to shut down the power to the city, and establish a teleport homer for significant mechanicum reinforcements. Within a week, the rest of the city had fallen, as realising the battle was lost, the eldar allies of Hathek's loyalists simply melted away.

Battle of Vandrax 2: The Eldar intervene

Believing she had the advantage, Vorushko's guard and mechanicum forces initiated the attack on the major Vandrax city, soon facing concentrated fire from the Lycaon and Novgorod gun line arrayed against them. Early losses on both sides were light however, and the Crusade had the numerical advantage, or so they thought.

It was only when the crusade reached the outskirts of the main settlement that it became apparent that eldar forces of the Rillietan and another unknown Craftworld had intervened on the loyalist side. While this made the Volscians and Vostroyans even more determined, the firepower of the lolyalists combined with their eldar allies soon saw the Crusade assault on the now ruined cities grind to a halt. The loyalist and eldar forces quickly repelled Vostroyan and Volscian advances while in the forests and hills to the north of the settlement, webway portals allowed the eldar to begin harrassing the Crusade rear line, taking out artillery and conducting running battles amongst the trees.

After a day of heavy fighting the Crusade were on the back foot, and unable to secure enough of a clear space between the two armies to put into action the final part of Vorushko's plan. In orbit the Grey Knights waited for an opportunity to intervene decisively, but still the no mans land between the two armies remained covered with crusade guardsmen and eldar skirmishers. Taking matters into their own hands the Grey Knights sent an immediate urgent communication to all front line officers. Clear a path for their arrival and kill anything and anyone in the outskirts of the city.

The Sky Lords intervened to aid this, arriving by Thunderhawk and landing a squad of elite terminators. However the loyalists had an immediate response. After the first pass of the Astartes assault craft, which had not been as successful as hoped, they revealed a previously camouflaged super heavy platoon, comprising of a Baneblade and a titan killing Shadowsword. After being softened up by Manticore AA missiles, the Thunderhawk was swatted out of the sky by the Shadowsword, while the Sky Lords made little impact in the city itself. Eventually however, thanks largely to the mechanicum, the land between the Crusade and loyalist lines was finally cleared, allowing Vorushko to make her last desperate gamble for victory on Vandrax 2.

Battle of Vandrax 2: Prelude to battle

In early 11.017M42 the most important planet in the Vandrax system, Vandrax 2, had been invaded by forces of the loyalists and crusade, in response to Magnus' appearance on the world. The chaos forces had been eradicated from the world, but now the planet was host to two imperial forces with wildly differing agendas.

The indigineous population, numbering just over a million, had seen their world overturned. For centuries the planet, while nominally imperial, had existed outside the Pax Imperialis, centred around one major city, simply known as "the city". Now their home had been all but destroyed. First by the Cicatrix Maledictum, and now, following the opening of the Foramen, by the new arrivals. It was in the city and its surrounding area that the key battle for Vandrax two would take place.

By 1411.017M42 the crusade, by virtue of having their base on "Cybixx Alpha", had amassed a much larger force on Vandrax 2 than the loyalists. Hathek's forces comprised of mainly guard forces, principally regiments of the veteran Novgorod and Lycaon Guard, who had been instrumental in securing much of the imperial gains in the Foramen Interdictum. On the opposing side the loyalist commander knew he was up against fanatical Volscians and at least one regiment of Vostroyans, supported by Cybixx's mechanicum forces. What the loyalists were not aware of, was that Vorushko had managed to secure limited Astartes support from the Sky Lords, and that the Grey Knights had arrived at Vandrax, and were horrified at what they considered a "lax" approach to daemon exposure by the loyalists and Hathek.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Federacy lose Destino II

Having failed to establish a bridgehead in the Destino system, and still avoiding an all out battle with the Loyalist fleet, General Elliott, commander of the Destino task force, found himself in a difficult position. Facing pressure from the Federal Council and lacking any real support from the rest of the "alliance", he knew that he had to make gains before the end of 017M42 or the operation to secure Destino for the Alliance would be over, and the chance to control a vital connection between the Federacy and the Tau Enclave would be gone.

Elliott landed troops on Destino II, backed up this time by the Federal Fleet, hoping to provoke the Imperium. Unfortunately it worked, but it was not only Enkvist's battlegroup that intercepted the federal force, but also a newly arrived force under Admiral Jellicoe himself. Outnumbered 2-1 the admiral of the Federal fleet withdrew, although the Tallaxian air force and storm trooper regiments would remain to provide air cover on the ground on Vandrax II.

With the Imperial fleet dominant over the planet, the Novgorod Guard landed with ease, and soon the battle lines were drawn on the world. Bombardments from both sides failed to inflict significant damage but an early charge from the Novgorod cavalry disrupted the Librian mobile firepower. The Federacy responded, but were unable to match the Imperial firepower, despite landing a precision drop of Tallaxian storm troops.

Thousands of Novgorod conscripts died and the imperium lost valuable tanks, but these could be replaced. Lacking a secure supply line the Librians were unable to hold their objectives and were gradually driven back into the wilderness of the planet. By 1611.017M42 they held nothing of value, and were asked to surrender. Realising there was no hope of escape many of the Librians gave up the fight, with a minority of Federal troops taking to the dusty wastelands of the world, disappearing into the nomadic tribes that roamed the plains. The Imperium had secured yet another planet in the system and the prospects for Federal victory looked bleaker than ever.

Chaos forced out of Vandrax system

Magnus' plan on Vandrax was only partially successful. He had managed to incite full scale war between the Crusade and Loyalists on Vandrax 2, and both sides were drawing up battle lines against each other. However, to leverage the results of this new conflict, Magnus needed to maintain a presence on the world himself. The Imperium knew this, and immediately launched an attack led by the Novgorod Guard into the chaos lines. Cultists were scattered, but soon Magnus arrived with his host of daemons known as the Emerald Serpent Cohort. 

The battle became intense as the Novgorod Guard advanced implacably into the chaos held bridgehead on the planet, and after days of fighting the daemonic entities had been worn down and once again Magnus had been banished back to the warp. Furious at his Iron Warriors "allies", who he accused of abandoning him for their own gain, Magnus was left once again brooding in the Warp as the forces of chaos were forced out of yet another of the important systems in the Foramen Interdictum.

Imperial Command 1611_017M42

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Blood Feud at Tarlius

The Imperial Fists had last engaged Stahl's Grand Company on 10.014.M42 and had lost a whole Battle Company at Bastien, now reinforced by the Indomitus Crusade they were eager for revenge. In early 11.017M42 the Imperial Fists completed translation into the Tarlius system, fighting their way through the blockade flotilla and defence lasers they made planetfall on the night side of the largest systems moon. The Iron Warriors set out to meet the sons of Dorn just beyond their construction sites. The Imperial Fists struck first, their aerial support cutting into Havoc squads who were unable to respond in the darkness, damage to the Iron Warrior Rhino's were swiftly repaired by Warpsmiths though. Both sides, despite their hatred of one another kept disciplined firing solutions. First blood went to the Iron Warriors as targetting augers designated the Dreadnought Fulgencio as a priority target who was left as a broken heap from Lascannon and Krak Missiles. 

Despite the the loss of  Fulgencio, the Imperial Fists had the advantage, and were slowly closing the noose around their bitter cousins. The most bloodthirsty Iron Warriors sprinted the dead ground between two forces with alarming speed into the Imperial Fists lines, cutting down whole squads. Imperial Fists maintained discipline and continued engage the Iron Warriors with a combination of Bolter and blade. The Iron Warriors had pushed back and for a time neither side could truly had the upper hand, the Iron Warriors dark ferocity being matched the Imperial Fists cool bolter drills. The turning point came when an Iron Warrior mortal cohort were able sneak behind the battle lines of the Imperial Fists and encircle them. On their own the cultists were no threat, but along with the Champions of the Iron Warriors assaulting from the front and continual fire from the IV's lines, the Imperial Fists found themselves trapped. 

Score of mortal fanatics beat the Imperial Fist Intercessors into the ground, and along with the maul of an Iron Warrior slave master, collapsed the  Imperial Fists left flank. If the Iron Warriors had broken earlier in the night and retreated when the advantage belonged to the Fists, but the Iron Warriors refused to give in and kept coming, regardless of casualties, their hatred knowing no bounds. The end came when Stahl demanded over the vox to Slave master Barghest to take the Imperial Fist Captains head, charging headlong into the warrior who had already cut down the Sorcerer Dweorgar. Barghest quickly discovered why the Sorcerer had failed as his blows clashed harmlessly off the Captains reinforced armour and was cut down by the Fist leader while the the remaining Imperial Fists charged the horde of slaves with Barghest and cut them down. The Captain success was short lived however, as criss crossing Lascannon fire bisected him, leaving the surviving Fists leaderless.

The morning sun revealed the carnage, yellow and steel bodies littered the battlefield, more Imperial Fists than Iron Warriors. The battered and bloody survivors were forced to retreat to orbit, leaving their slain. The Iron Warriors had gained Geneseed, Primaris corpses for their Warsmith to study and most of all, time to complete their fortifications.