Sunday, January 17, 2021
Thursday, January 07, 2021
Malkaor was given overall command of all forces in the Hadron Expanse during 019M42, and he had learnt from previous expeditions. The war on Hussaria had been bloody and protracted, and the foothold on Boltarean against chaos had resulted in the strengthening of chaos defences, making further gains more difficult. Keen to avoid such long and drawn out conflicts, since mid 019M42 Malkaor had been planning the next phase of operations against the Imperium using the tau military doctrine of overwhelming force and surprise. Awarath was his target, as this was not only a key system in the line of Tau expansion, but it was also general Percival's sector HQ.
The invasion of Awarath took place as 021M42 began, with a massive tau battlefleet arriving in the system. Caught by surprise the Imperial battlefleet was unable to prevent the tau from landing a significant force on Awarath Prime, but general Percival had not been completely unaware of the threat from the Tau. Defending his HQ was a large force of imperial guard, as well as super heavy vehicles and a mighty Reaver Titan. In addition, as soon as the invasion began, space marine forces converged in order to defend the seat of Imperial power in the Expanse.
The assault by the tau was particularly brutal and decisive. Using Mantas to deliver kroot directly into the enemy trench lines threw the imperial defence into disarray, while overwhelming tau firepower was directed at the Reaver titan. The Blood Angels chapter responded by charging into the fray, but were soon bogged down in fighting stealth teams that stubbornly refused to die, blunting the impact of the astartes intervention. Seeing that General Percival was directing the battle from well behind his lines, Malkoar sent in his elite crisis suit drop teams, managing eventually to capture the imperial general and spirit him away from the battlefield.
Without Percival the command of the confused battle now passed to the astartes, with the Space Wolves attempting to deploy their forces via Thunderhawk into the heart of Malkaor's firebase. Disrupting this formation was key to throwing back the tau forces, but the Thunderhawk was soon shot down by massed firepower. Despite this, the Space Wolves managed to teleport their elite terminators into the heart of Malkaor's headquarters, with their librarian reaching Malkaor and severely wounding him.
By this time however it was too late. The astartes teleport action was too weak to disrupt the tau formations, and despite losing Malkaor's guiding hand, the tau had brought down the mighty Reaver titan, dealt with the astartes counter attack and broken the back of imperial resistance. Percival's HQ was overrun, and other hunter cadres were simultaneously establishing strongpoints all over the world. A few imperial forces managed to flee into the wilderness regions of the planet, and the space marines who remained were able to withdraw their forces. The Imperial system however had been totally overwhelmed in less than 24 hours, and as the tau fleet set up a defensive ring around Awarath Prime, the imperium were forced to leave the system. Now the tau began the process of rapidly securing their gains, as a multitude of Earth Caste vessels entered behind the war fleet, turning the system into a new stronghold colony for the tau empire.
The Imperium were in no shape to counter attack. With Percival now in the custody of the tau empire, the fleets withdrew to Dnatha and Vanir, desperately signaling to Sector Commander Titus Luthor that more forces were necessary. They had been saying for months that the weakening of forces in the Hadron Expanse to prosecute the war on Mordecai would have inevitable consequences, and they had been proved right.
In response to the latest offensive against the Abrax complex, the traitor forces summoned a host of Slaaneshi daemons in the path of the Novgorod Hussars. The Greater daemons were dealt with by the imperial tanks, but the battle soon descended into a swirling melee of daemonettes and cavalry. The support of hellhound flametanks proved invaluable, annihilating many of the warp spawned abominations and allowing the loyalist horsemen to banish the remaining daemons back to the warp.
The success against the daemon horde allowed the slow but steady advance into the mining complex to continue, and by early 01.021M42 the imperium had won back more than half of the important mines. Concerns over the exposure of the imperial forces to daemonic influence was raised and constantly monitored, but it was assumed that none of the participants in the battle would live long enough to carry any taint off world anyway.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Acting swiftly the daemon prince personally led a force of Thousand Sons across space and time, straight to the system of Cruthynia, breaking the very fabric of realspace and crashing upon the Ynnari and Harlequin forces on the surface of the barren world, supported by Ahriman and the Changeling himself. It was Magnus however, who was deceived. Magnus' pride had allowed him to believe he had uncovered the eldar plans all by himself and through his intellect, but it was a deflection. The Aeldari knew that when the Nexus Arrangement was unearthed, its mere presence would send a ripple through the warp, attracting the forces of chaos. Now, they had lured Magnus into a trap of their choosing, and in the battle that followed, despite losing their commander, the Thousand Sons, Magnus and Ahriman were all thrown back into the warp, the spirit of Magnus once again ejected from the mortal realm to brood angrily on the planet of the sorcerer's, and it's mirror, the daemon world Astralis.
With the chaos forces distracted, the Ynnari carefully unearthed the ancient necron artefact and managed to steal it away into the webway before the necrons or Imperium had time to stop them. The Arrangement was safe in Aeldari hands, and the Ynnari now revealed to their Craftworld and Harlequin allies what use they would have for it. The pursuit of the necron device had not merely been to deny its use to the enemy, but for a greater purpose. There were still two necron devices needed by Yvraine, and the Arrangement now gave her followers the means to extract it, without the world upon which it stood immediately falling into the warp.
The Drukhari meanwhile, freed from their obligations to the Ynnari and the Alliance, decided it was time once more to make the Hadron Expanse a profitable venture. Having secured a number of bases in the webway close to the subsector, the dark eldar struct first against the Tau Empire, which had been largely inactive for over a year. Believing this to be a sign of weakness, the forces of Commoragh were somewhat taken by surprise when their raiding force was met by a swift response from Malkaor's hunter cadres. Far from inactive, the Tau had been building up their strength, and Echo Reach was now a military installation of some significance. Clearly the Tau were planning something big, and soon. The Drukhari managed to extricate themselves from the precipitous situation, but not before they had suffered serious casualties for next to no gain.
Monday, December 07, 2020
Reacting quickly, and realising the Imperial Guard were in no position to undertake a new offensive, the Carcharadon chapter of space marines took it upon themselves to take and hold the city, dropping directly from orbit after having detected aeldari forces in an unusually vulnerable position within the ruins. Led by harlequin forces, it was clear the xenos knew where the Arrangement was, and were working to retrieve it.
The initial drop by the space marines was devastating. An uncharacteristic lapse of judgement by the aeldari had left their forces exposed to attack, and the Carcharadons struck without mercy. The battle was over almost in the first few minutes, as the eldar force was slaughtered. Having taken the position however, the astartes now had to hold it.
The response was not long in coming. Recovering from their initial surprise the eldar knew the counter attack had to be undertaken immediately, before the Hammers of the Emperor could reinforce the positions now occupied by the Carcharadons. This time the harlequin force made no mistakes, although the stubbornness of the astartes guaranteed a bloody melee as they were reluctant to yield their hard won ground. Accepting casualties, for the cause was vital, the aeldari pushed on regardless, and by 1012.020M42 the Carcharadon positions had been completely overrun, with almost half a company of marines wiped out. The eldar suffered heavy casualties as well, but were now within reach of securing the Nexus Arrangement. Having located it, they now only had to escape out of the city back to the webway.
The Hammers of the Emperor, unlike the Carcharadons, were more than willing to aid and work with the imperial guard who now began disembarking two regiments onto the planet. They were however, not above showing their contempt and disappointment at the paltry forces Percival had chosen to allocate to the endeavour.
Once the base had been secured and hardened against attack, the Novgorod Guard began offensive operations on 0712.020M42, moving south into an unexplored regions of the ruined necron city. Many of the guardsmen were visibly disturbed by the absolute silence of the world, save for a light breeze that would occasionally disturb the dust of the long dead world. Their resolve was bolstered however by the presence of the inquisitor Ivan Dostoevsky, who had come on the mission to uncover the secrets of the necrons and ensure they did not fall into the wrong hands.
The silence was broken as soon as the guard moved cautiously into the larger of the tomb complexes that dotted the ancient city. Eldar forces suddenly appeared on both flanks, with the screeching of howling banshees audible for miles, while Wraith constructs appeared from nowhere to engage the slowly advancing infantry. The inquisitor handled the situation well, and at first the imperial guard held their ground and even managed to push further forward, especially on their right flank. On the left however, facing the awesome power of the Wraithguard, the Novgorod infantry suffered horrendous casualties and the entire flank collapsed.
Dostoevsky intervened personally, identifying the enemy autarch, and launching himself at the enemy leader. However the skills of the aeldari outmatched him and the inquisitor was slain without uncovering the secrets he desired. After this the Novgorod resistance remained stubborn, but eventually with their inquisitor lost and no way to continue into the city, the battered guard army withdrew back to their bases in the polar regions. Meanwhile the eldar grew ever closer to discovering the Nexus Arrangement. It was here, underneath this tomb city, and they were determined not to be thwarted by the Imperium just as they had located their prize.
Lead by the Novgorod Hussars, general Kutuzov's army pushed implacably forward, meeting the bulk of the Dark Mechanicus forces on the outskirts of the now ruined mining complex. Fighting was intense, with the Hussars beginning the operation with a devastating artillery bombardment. Supported by valkyries providing close air support, the Hussars softened up the heretek forces before delivering a precisely timed cavalry charge, sweeping the enemy from the field.
By 1012.020M42 the imperial offensive had once again resumed its slow but relentless advance against the forces of chaos, reaching the outer reaches of the mines proper, and taking the northern shores of Abrax lava lake.
On Cruthynia the fight for the Nexus Arrangement continued into 12.020M42, with the Hammers of the Emperor astartes chapter once again launching an expedition onto the surface of Cruthynia. So far, every imperial attempt to establish a permanent base on the world had been resisted, so after a number of scans the Hammers analysed where the eldar had assaulted imperial forces in previous attempts, and ascertained that there was one area eldar activity had not been previously detected. Here, amongst the ruins of a long dead necron city, the Hammers made their initial scouting landfall.
Very quickly however, the astartes realised the necrons were far from long dead, as the armies of the Silent King reacted rapidly to the interlopers. An entire necron army, undetected from space, was in position and made a move directly onto the space marine landing grounds.
The Hammers of the Emperor were prepared for such an eventuality however, as the scans had suggested that the area was too quiet, and the main strike force was called in to deal with the necron army. Dropping in via thunderhawk the elite forces of mankind landed right in the midst of the necron force, decapitating the leadership of the ancient xenos in one stroke. The necrons did not give up easily however, and converged on the newly arrived warriors of humanity. Gradually however, with unwavering stubborness and unyielding devotion to duty, the Hammers carved their way through the necrons, until only a pile of shattered mechanical detritus remained, before phasing out. Finally the Imperium had established a bridgehead on the world.