Saturday, July 06, 2019

Thunderbolt: Southern Push

In the south the Imperial Fists and House Eagleclaw moved towards the chaos front lines. Their objective was to move quickly east across the Vaylin plains north of lake Peri, with the intention of cutting off the chaos armies in the south. 

The chaos force opposing them however comprised of unexpected forces. While the traitors fielded a number of knights, presumably supplied by Cybixx, the traitor astartes were not the Host of Eschar, Iron warriors, nor marines associated with the Emerald Serpent. In fact the marines had never been encountered in the sector. Apparently “Red Corsairs” but in the clear livery of the Alpha Legion, the Imperial Fists hardened their resolve to defeat these new enemies. 

The push in the south did not start well. The Imperial Fists Typhon heavy tank quickly came under heavy assault from the chaos lines, as a heretical fellblade made its presence felt. On the chaos right, the alpha legion, equipped with rhinos, quickly made a move towards the imperial left flank, taking key objectives. With the traitor war dogs covering the chaos advance, the imperium were initially in deep trouble. The Typhon had been destroyed and on the Imperial right flank House Eagleclaw was under intense pressure from the traitor knights. The imperium had only made small gains all along the front and defeat here risked the entire imperial positions on the west portion of Mordecai Tersius. 

The Imperial Fists now advanced on foot, converging on the centre of the battle. The Alpha Legion were surrounded and crushed in brutal hand to hand fighting, stabilising the front line, but the Fellblade remained a potent force. The knight duel on the imperial right saw the loss of knights on both sides, but the imperial war engines failed to make headway towards the Helverins. By the end of the first day the risk of imperial collapse had been halted, but the southern push had barely penetrated a few tens of kilometres into the chaos defences, and after grinding their way to Lake Peri, the southern assault was called off. 

Thunderbolt: Northern Strike

In the north of Mordecai Tersius Kutuzov has amassed the most men, as this front would face the combined might of the Iron Warriors and Cybixx. The Grey Knights also planned to drop directly into the thick of the fighting, anxious to break the chaos front line and eliminate as many of Stahl’s daemon engines as possible. 

The Novgorod push made good ground, finding Mt. Harender and the Industria complex already vacated by Cybixx. The heretic tech priest having already found what he needed. The area was weakly defenced by cultists, but further south the Iron Warriors put up stiffer resistance. As the battle became more intense near to the planets secondary food processing plants, Stahl’s forces unleashed their daemon engines. 

On cue, the Grey Knights appeared. The guard forces were relieved at their appearance as the Iron warriors were threatening to overwhelm them. Attacking in tight formation, the astartes broke the chaos defence lines and Kutuzov’s forces streamed through the breach. By 0807.019M42 the front line had been pushed south several hundred kilometres. The offensive had met its objectives in the north but now the imperium were forced to slow and halt while their logistics train caught up. On the Vaylin plains the Iron warriors dug in, awaiting Kutuzov’s next move. 

Kutuzov launches operation Thunderbolt

The next move for Kutuzov was to go onto the offensive. The imperium, despite being pushed back in the north had been building up significant forces and had secured the support of two astartes chapters. Once again the Grey Knights and Imperial Fists had agreed to lend their support to the upcoming imperial offensive. 

Kutuzov now had the strength to launch a massive offensive in the north and south at the same side. Operation Thunderbolt would consist of two thrusts. The northern push would consist of a corps of Novgorod Guard supported by the Grey Knights. In the south, Kutuzov amassed several regiments of Lycannon Guard, with House Eagleclaw and the Imperial Fists. These forces began moving towards the chaos lines from their start positions on 0407.019M42. 

In the south, the Lycannon Guard regiments moved north east, towards the Chemical Plants near the Scorched Lands. Here the imperial forces met the Host of Eschar for the first time in months, but the experienced Lycannon force took positions on an escarpment overlooking the chaos forces and poured fire down into them. Despite their legendary resilience, the plague marines were unable to withstand the hail of fire coming from imperial positions. 

The daemon prince of nurgle launched a revenge assault against the Lycannon tank lines, but even this was shrugged off by the elite guardsmen. The chemical plants were retaken early on 0507.019M42, allowing the main assault to begin. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Mordecai Tersius: Cybixx charges north

Having secured his flank in the early skirmishes on the plains north of the Vaylin mountains Cybixx began his main assault on Mt. Harender. The ruined city would need to be secured before he moved north to capture the Mechanicum Industria. For this operation the arch magos threw in his elite constructs as well as his regular Mechanicum troops. 

The initial resistance comprised of Librian infantry garrisoning the city. These units were rapidly swept away before the traitors’ advance with almost 100% casualties. Infantry alone were no match for the weapons of the Arch heretek. 

Colonel Dempsey rapidly threw in his armoured reserves as it became clear this was a major attack, but the Leman Rudd elements arrived peacemeal and the inexperienced tank crews struggled to hit their targets. The artillery were more effective, but were unable to stop the Ironstriders’ assault, nor meaningfully damage Cybixx’s robot constructs or heavy tank elements. 

The ironstriders were joined by more elite forces teleporting into the battle, and together they crashed into the imperial artillery. The subsequent melee resulted in many of the Mechanicum walkers piercing the imperial artillery with their lances, catastrophically detonating their stored ammunition. The resulting series of explosion wiped out the imperial guns but took a terrible toll on the assaulting forces, totally eliminating some of Cybixx’s best troops and weakening the attack. Dempsey’s hellhounds then arrived, obliterating the remaining walkers with their Prometheum flame cannons. The chaos light infantry also suffered at the hands of the flame tanks, but the dreadnought construct, code named “Telemon” by the imperial forces made short work of them. Cybixx eventually lost his heavy tanks to the remaining imperium Leman Russ, but this too succumbed to the Telemon. 

Cybixx’s forces had taken moderate casualties, but not quite enough to stop the advanced. Dempsey meanwhile had lost all his armoured units and was powerless to stop the chaos advance. Kutuzov ordered his armies north to prevent being encircled, and by 0607.019M42 the Magos Dominus had secured the Mechanicum complex and began harvesting its dark secrets. 

Mordecai Tersius: Encounter battles hold off Librian tanks

After the defeat of Cybixx on the broad plains south of Mt. Harender, the Arch Dominus made swift plans to retake the territory. Of interest to the heretical tech priest was the Mechanicum Industria - a plant on Mordecai Tersius which had long been in the service of the dark gods. The Factorium had fallen to the imperium along with the rest of the planet in early 019M43, but the loyalists had not had time to uncover its secrets. Cybixx decided he needed to retake the complex urgently, and push the corpse worshippers back as far north as possible. 

General Kutuzov had reinforced the front line following operation supercharge, but the Knights of Eagleclaw needed repair and refit. Similarly the Novgorod regiments were pulled out of the line for resupply, leaving the imperial general no option other than to deploy the Librian regiments to the sector of the front. 

Regarded as unreliable following their home planet’s fall to the alliance, the Librians were nonetheless well equipped and keen to prove their loyalty to the imperium. Adopting new symbols for their army and denouncing their homeland as traitors, new blood had entered the ranks of the Librian regiments, chiefly made up of other dispossessed men from conquered worlds. 

The Librians fielded one division on Mordecai. The 4th and 7th armoured regiments were deployed in the north while the 16th garrisoned Danythe. Colonel Dempsey was in command at the northern front and had deployed his main force of infantry in the ruins of Mt. Harender, with his main armoured force acting as a mobile reserve. Closer to the front line itself Dempsey had multiple units patrolling the vast green spaces which made up the agri-world’s landscape. 

Cybixx planned a straightforward assault. The traitor did not have access to many of his knights, but one was sent with a scouting force to probe the loyalist defences. Once a weakness was found the rest of his army would push through, on to Harender and beyond, threatening to encircle the imperial force and obliging it to withdraw. 

Cybixx began his offensive with wide ranging patrols across the plains, one of which ran headlong into a Librian patrol. A skirmish quickly developed with the Mechanicum initially making gains and forcing the Librian force back. This led Cybixx to order his main attack, but the frontier battle almost went very wrong. The Librians rallied after early setbacks, knocking out the enemy knight and wiping out the ironstrider outriders with well placed leman Russ firepower. The imperial force almost regained the ground they had lost and came very close to upsetting Cybixx’s main assault before it began. However the traitor Mechanicum just held on, enabling the main thrust to begin at Mt. Harender. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Mordecai: Operation Supercharge

Operation Supercharge was quickly planned by Kutuzov’s staff after the failure of Sabre. The new force directed towards the chaos lines was made up of Novgorod elements supported by the remaining Knight forces of House Eagleclaw that hadn’t been deployed to the 148th army. 

Facing this force Cybixx had called up his own blasphemous war engines as well as his new experimental AI constructs. This was deep heresy, and the new robotic units proved their worth in battle. However, the imperial force were resolute in their attack, and despite losing the Eagleclaw war engines, the Novgorod tanks held on to their objectives, forcing the chaos force to give ground. 

The Eagleclaw knights were repaired post battle, but the chaos army had proved its new weaponry, despite being forced back several hundred kms towards the Vaylin Mountains. The land lost was of little worth, and having destroyed the settlement of Mt. Harender the imperium captured  little more than their own ruins. However, Kutuzov had inflicted a defeat on the traitors, although the end of the war on Mordecai Tersius appeared no closer. 

Mordecai Tersius: Operation Sabre

By the end of 06.019M42 General Kutuzov had received a fresh set of supplies and reinforcements following the success of Operation Scorpion at Tarlius. These included Knight forces from House Eagleclaw, which were immediately thrown into battle against the chaos forces to the north of the Vaylin Mountains. Their offensive was part of operation Sabre, Kutuzov’s push to cut chaos forces in the plains of east Tersius from their supply base at Slaydon. 

Coordinating with the Grey Knights Kutuzov planned a double thrust. While the astartes wrecked the supply base and settlement of Mount Harender, House Eagleclaw would push quickly east, cutting off Cybbix’s forces from Slaydon, while the Novgorod Guard, assisted by Knights, would destroy the encircled chaos army. 

The operation began to get into trouble as soon as it started. At Mt. Harender the Grey Knights found the city defended by the elite forces of Cybixx, who first pinned down then wiped out a squad of Paladins, severely blunting the Grey Knights assault. Meanwhile in the south, House Eagleclaw had run into an army of daemon engines led by one of Stahl’s lieutenants, and found themselves assaulted by air and over land. 

The Grey Knights, now accustomed to fighting against the odds, persevered in their attack, eventually using the firepower from their Thunderhawk transported Land Raiders to whittle down the enemy force holding the city. Both sides took enormous casualties but by the evening of 2906.019M42 the chaos resistance had been broken. This left the astartes with just enough time to lay waste to the settlement, massacre it’s traitor inhabitants and utterly destroy Mt. Harender as a supply base. 
The southern component of the offensive was however a disaster. The imperial knights were torn apart by rampaging Mauler fiends, and once the war engines were knocked out the front line broke. The Iron warriors were quick to exploit the collapse of Kutuzov’s southern front, and pushed west, harrying the retreating imperial forces. By 0106.019M42 much of the Scorched Lands were in the hands of the traitors. 

Despite the defeat in the south, general Kutuzov decided to press on with his attack in the north, but redirecting its objectives. The forthcoming battle, named “operation supercharge” would no longer be aimed at trapping Cybixx’s army, but would have to be a frontal offensive aiming at capturing the territory around the now ruined Mt. Harender. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Sector Roundup 06.019M42

In the middle of 019M42 the major forces in the aleph sector were facing very different challenges, and no faction was clearly in the ascendancy. The following details each faction in turn as the second half of 019M42 began. 

The Imperium of Mankind 

A problem of supply 

Lord Justinian Maximus had taken over an Imperium in great peril at the beginning of the year. The Foramen campaign hung in the balance and despite an immediate upturn in fortunes following the Lord General Militant’s appointment, the final foothold in the Foramen was lost in 03.019M42. Although subsequent operations regained a foothold in the Tarlius system, by 06.019M42 the Imperial supply lines running from Vastrid to Hexis were horribly overstretched. Few vital resources reached Konev in the Lysis system, and the battle there had become a defensive attritional nightmare. 

In the Hadron Expanse as a whole, the Alliance, far better supplied locally, had taken Hussaria, and the systems that had been returned to the Emperor following the establishment of the Foramen Interdictum now faced invasion from the Tau and Federacy, sponsored by their Xenos patrons, the Kel Sandros eldar. 

In the Perseus Deeps things were little better. The foothold gained on Mordecai Tersius had been reinvaded by a resurgent chaos alliance, and Cybixx’s treachery had strengthened the enemy’s hand. Corticant had seen a re-emerging eldar threat, while Bastien alone stood as the only imperial supply centre linking the Deeps with the Hadron Expanse. 

Facing war on all fronts, the Grey Knights and Imperial Fists acted as firefighters, travelling from crisis point to crisis point, while the Novgorod Guard bore the brunt of the brutal attritional fighting against the forces of chaos. The Sky Lords, usually facing the least favourable odds had been shattered, and the imperial fleet had to be on call to face every threat, while defending the convoy lifelines as best they could. 

The imperial plan going into the second half of 019M42 was simple, if unimaginative. Lord Maximus continually ordered no retreat, determined to take Mordecai Tersius and the Tarlius system and slowly build a more secure supply line to the Perseus Deeps. The Hadron Expanse and Hexis were deemed lower priority, due to the lack of supply, but here General Konev’s forces were ordered to tie down and destroy as many chaos legions as they could until events allowed them to retake the device room. For decades if necessary. 

The Chaos Pact 

Unreliable Allies 

The forces of chaos, or the “chaos pact”, as dubbed by the imperium, constituted nothing like a united faction, although it did broadly act in a manner which suggested a homogenous organisation. Bound by their hatred of the corpse god’s followers, and their revulsion at all xenos, the forces of the ruinous powers comprised of three to four main factions, with occasional war bands and even orks joining in. 

Warsmith Stahl still viewed himself as overlord if all chaos forces in the Aleph Sector, as he sought to reestablish the empire lost in the great scouring  some ten thousand years previously. His forces were concentrated at Tarlius, Mordecai and Hexis, although Stahl maintained significant garrison forces in the Enceladus subsector and at Charybdis. Stahl also controlled the one necron device perverted to the ruinous powers and a significant fleet. Stahl had secured the device at Hexis, but did not command enough forces to hold off both the imperium and alliance on all fronts. For that reason Stahl needed allies. 

The Emerald Serpent contributed almost as many men under arms to the chaos cause in the sector, as well as daemonic entities thanks to their dedication to the god Tzeentch. By mid 019M42 the daemon prince brothers leading the Serpent has scored some notable victories, claiming three out of the four chaos shards, and establishing a power base at Boltarean and achieving victories over the imperium and alliance. 

The Emerald Serpent had however been in command in several pivotal battles against the Imperial Fists and Grey Knights, and despite hard fighting the imperium had won these key battles. Stahl blamed his allies for these defeats and by extension all the woes facing his grand plans. This did not bother the Serpent a great deal, as they did not truly recognise Stahl as their overlord, just an ally of inconvenience. 

The Arch heretic Magos Cybixx finally declared for chaos in 019M42, but his forces were still small in comparison to Stahl’s and the Serpent. Forces of the traitor Mechanicum began reaching chaos war zones by mid 019M42 but were not immediately successful, while the Host of Eschar, a large Death Guard cohort seemed to take forever to deploy and proved difficult for Stahl to entice into activity. Meanwhile, admiral Thok remained brooding at his base on Mordecai, and while Lord Tragean’s fleets delivered victories in line with Stahl’s wishes, the aims of Chaos seemed infuriatingly just out of reach. Hexis was in control of chaos, but Konev’s armies wouldn’t die. The Foramen Interdictum could not be closed off once and for all for chaos, and Mordecai Tersius stubbornly held out. And all the while the eldar plotted and schemed, offering alliances one minute then attacking the next. All of this added to Stahl’s millennia old bad mood. 

The Alliance 

Limited Resources

Thanks to the Kel Sandros Eldar the armies of the alliance in the Hadron Expanse and Perseus Deeps were well supplied, via the Foramen Ancilla. This secondary route through the great rift allowed supplied to travel relatively easily between Tau space, the Federacy and alliance holdings in the Imperium Nihilis. The Hadron Expansion Sphere was the main priority following the failure of the Expedition to Hexis, but even in the Expanse, where the alliance forces enjoyed local superiority, the combined forces of the Tau Empire, eldar and Federacy faced their own challenges. 

The Federacy were numerically far inferior to the forces of Chaos and the Imperium, and could only concentrate on one war zone at a time, and even then the isolationist element in the federal government always restricted the number of divisions the Federacy could put into the field. The Tau, having conquered Libria and vast swathes of the Zadoc subsector, only for the Cicatrix to destroy their bases in the Perseus Deeps, had fewer armies and more territory to defend. Reinforcements were arriving steadily via Calabris and the Foramen Ancilla, but the buildup was slow, and in no way comparable to the number of armies their enemies could muster should they be focussed on that task. 

The eldar, while supportive, had even fewer troops, and were working to their own agenda. The xenos preferred deliberate strikes to unhinge their enemies, and saw taking territory as a waste of their own limited lives. 

The combined effect of the limited resources the alliance could field, necessarily ensured that the gains in the Hadron Expanse were only made at a measured rate. Early fighting for Echo Reach and Mimir had been difficult, but now the Expansion Sphere was steadily growing, with a unity of purpose between the Tau and Federal forces. However, the alliance represented little to no threat in the Perseus Deeps, save for the eldar, whose continual machinations affected the aspirations and plans of all. 

The Xenos threat 

Fragmented menace 

Apart from the three major factions the other races of the sector remained, for the most part, little more than nuisances in 019M42. The necrons, despite briefly awakening on Hexis, appeared to have become dormant throughout the sector, and some believed this to be due to the interference with the necron devices, though none were certain. The dark eldar of Vlokarion has become embroiled in schemes within Commoragh, and the orks mostly fought one another and the daemons within the great rift. 

One alien menace did seem to pose a threat however. Very slowly the mind of Hive Fleet R’Lyeh was growing. This new threat baffled the imperial inquisition, as it appeared to be gaining strength with little of no biomass to consume. In the hills around Hexis this new strain of Tyranids was beginning to pose a threat not just to General Konev, but the entire sector. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Operation Scorpion

The final phase of Operation Scorpion began with major imperial landings on the Western Hemisphere of the sea-less world on 1506.019M42. With no fleet or space defences the landings were unopposed, as the Imperial Guard quickly took out peripheral chaos defences. The main action would take place around the planet’s one major settlement, which was ringed by an old dried up river bed. The main engagement took place over the one bridge that led across the deep gully, as there was realistically only one way into the city itself. Here, the Emerald Serpent made its stand against the attackers. 

Captain Lydoro of the Imperial Fists was well aware of the brutal battle that would be necessary to overcome the chaos defences and to avoid a painful protracted battle. The city had vital spaceport and supply facilities, and the base would need to be taken quickly before the forces of chaos mounted a counter attack from Tarlius II. Victory was needed in just a few days, and Lydoro knew the price for this speed would be blood. 

The imperium drew up their forces with the Imperial Fists opposite the main bridge. On their right, the 707th Seran Guard regiment, heavily mechanised, deployed on the river bank, while on the left the Mechanicum took their positions. 

Having scouted ahead, the imperial force knew the chaos forces were holding back, out of range of the imperial combined firepower until their intentions became clear, so Lydoro took advantage of this by sending his infantry forward to take key objectives on the winding river. The guard took up positions wherever cover allowed, while the astartes themselves marched onto the bridge. This would be a “bite and hold” operation. Now the imperium just needed to hold and defeat whatever the traitor forces threw against them. 

The chaos return fire was weathered by the imperium, although the arrival of a heretic warhound caused some alarm as it tore into the Guard tank forces. However, Lydoro ordered his forces forward, grinding his forces into a horrendous melee in and around the bridge as the chaos infantry swarmed forward towards the newly held imperial positions. Cultists, traitor marines and all manner of daemons were unleashed on Lydoro’s force, but the marines on the bridge were equal to the task despite being set upon by horrific bloodletters. The astartes captain himself was then called upon to do battle, as a terrifying daemon prince appeared on the bridge. Ordering his forces to stand back, Lydoro accepted the challenge, and with a heart full of burning hatred he struck down the daemon with a series of furious blows, smoting it’s ruined form on the riverbed below. 

The battle was far from over however. Combined imperial firepower had destroyed the traitor warhound, after the war engine missed its shot against the imperial Shadowsword. On the right, lord discordants had scuttled forward, causing mayhem in the imperial armoured sections but taking heavy casualties in return. On the left, the Mechanicum slugged it out with a horde of plaguebearers with no side giving any quarter. 

Bloodthirsters then appeared, forcing their way through the imperial lines and causing some disquiet, and Lydoro was forced to sacrifice several of his astartes brothers to hold the line. Meanwhile the skitarii on the left were all but wiped out in their struggle with the daemons of chaos, and casualties amongst the guard regiment were approaching 80%. Losses were mounting, but still the imperium held on, aided by snipers who did their best to take out the leaders in the chaos ranks. 

The battle hung in the balance, but the chaos forces were also suffering horrendous losses, and only the two remaining bloodthirsters now posed a real threat to imperial success. One was destroyed and sent back to the warp by a loyalist Knight war engine, while the other was struck down by a dying marine, who summoned up the last of his strength to slay the monstrous beast. 

As the distant sun began to set on Tarlius III and eerie silence fell over the battlefield. The imperial forces had suffered, but as the astartes captain took stock, he realised he still had a serviceable demi company of Imperial Fists, and while the guard and Mechanicum had suffered heavily, more reinforcements were now on their way. The enemy daemons had been banished, and the Emerald Serpent astartes who survived were slinking away into the hinterlands of the planet. No doubt many of these would escape in small bands to harass the imperium once more, but the imperial force was too exhausted to give chase. The settlement and space port on Tarlius III was secured by 1706.019M42 and the news of the victory was communicated to a relieved General Bessas. Defeat here would have ended his career and potentially plunged the entire Tarlius gambit into disaster. Now the Imperium had strong foothold in the Foramen and supplies could be convoyed more safely to the Imperium Nihilis. However, the system was far from secured, and the inner planets of the Tarlius system would be even more of a challenge. 

For now however the imperium enjoyed their success. Operation Restless Thunder and operation Scorpion had achieved their objectives, and stabilised the imperial position in the Foramen Interdictum. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Mordecai: Knights retake Skrime

While Lord Maximus and his first general, Martin Bessas, planned to push forward at Tarlius, general Kutuzov pressed forward with his offensive in the south of Mordecai Tersius. The chaos offensive in the northern plains had run out of steam, but now Cybixx’s forces were redeploying in the south, clearly planning an offensive to relieve the besieged forces in Skrime. 

Kutuzov had newly arrived reinforcements in the shape of a Knight lance from House Corvus, a house fiercely loyal to the adeptus mechanicus with a burning hatred for the arch heretek Cybixx. The Knights of Corvus, lead by a massive Castellan, deployed directly in front of the enemy advance, and in the outskirts of Skrime a massive battle erupted as the traitor Mechanicum came into range of the Knights’ devastating firepower. 

Almost immediately the forces of Cybixx were on the back foot. They had advanced forward and were in the process of being resupplied by air when the imperial war engines attacked. Realising that if they intercepted the supply drop the chaos assault would be finished, the Castellan opened up on the formidable Ironstrider formation, noting they were Sydonian Dragoons. The massive ordnance ripped the walkers apart, leaving all but one, which was itself cut down by Helverin support fire as the surprised scout unit tried to react to the sudden appearance of the enemy. 

Return fire was desultory, and although the Castellan took damage, it’s firepower remained undiminished as it followed up this early success by obliterating the heretic Kastelan robots. Eventually the traitors scored successes, knocking the two largest imperial war engines out of action. Only the mysterious and unknown hover bikes employed by the traitors posed a real threat, as they briefly contested the landing sites where the supplies were landing. Their spirited stand almost rescued Cybixx’s attack, but despite losing the Castellan and knight Errant, the remaining smaller armiger class engines gradually thinned out the Mechanicum troops, cutting down skitarri and clearing the landing zones. 

By 1606.019M42 all but one of the supply zones had been secured by the imperial forces and the remaining heretek troops had been decimated. The forces of chaos retreated back across the Skrime isthmus and within days the city itself, cut off and without hope of rescue, had fallen to Kutuzov’s army. The war on Mordecai had once again swung in the imperium’s favour. 

Grey Knights raid Tarlius III

The second phase of operation Scorpion began on 1506.019M42 as Grey Knights strike cruisers deployed small elite forces of astartes, supported by Land Raiders around the defence lasers they had volunteered to destroy. Imperial high command were however unaware of the true nature of these astartes, still considering them merely another chapter of space marines. 

The real motivation behind the Ordo Malleus attack was intelligence that suggested the Emerald Serpent were defending Tarlius III. Eager to destroy the daemon princes Marcus and Andreos, and unaware of the status of the former, the Grey Knights set about their assigned task almost as an afterthought. However, the forces they found were not those of daemons, but the traitor Cybixx. 

Irritated, but resolute nonetheless, the astartes formed up behind their land raiders and waited for the inevitable onslaught. Fortunately, the Iron Striders were too eager in their approach, allowing the Emperor’s finest to launch a brutal close assault against them. The captain of the Grey Knights terminators destroyed two of the walkers with one sweep of his mighty axe, and the land raiders themselves charged into the fray, using their tracks to crush and maim. 

This was a pattern repeated as the Grey Knights vented their fury on the heretic Mechanicum. Dunecrawlers and Kastelan robots were similarly rammed by the space marine vehicles as the counter attack was driven off. Having destroyed the defence lasers and finding no daemons, the knights then withdrew, simply stating to Bessas “mission complete”. 

Fleet action at Tarlius inconclusive

Operation Scorpion was the brainchild of Martin Bessas. The general brought in by new sector commander Lord Maximus to prosecute the new campaign to force a passage through the Foramen Interdictum. Operation Restless Thunder had established a foothold in the Tarlius system, but the forces of the enemy still held on to the two major worlds - Tarlius Prime and Tarlius III. 

Tarlius Prime and the inner world of Tarlius I were heavily fortified by Warsmith Stahl, but Tarlius III was less well defended and it’s capture would push the chaos fleets and raiding craft further back in system. The imperium would then be able to protect shipping through the Foramen more effectively, though with Paradorn still held by the traitors not by any means “well”. Tarlius III could then be used as a launchpad to strike at the heart of Stahl’s domain, although Bessas was under no illusions about how difficult and bloody that would be. 

The operation to retake Tarlius III was approved, and received immediate support from the Imperial Fists, who had revenge on their minds - the world having been named “Darnath’s Folly” by a mocking Stahl. The Grey Knights also have their aid, although they kept their own secret mission - to bring down the daemon princes of the Emerald Serpent - to themselves. 

The operation comprised of three distinct phases. First, the chaos fleet based at Tarlius III would need to be neutralised. Then, the defence lasers would need to be taken out - a mission the Grey Knights volunteered for - and finally the invasion of the world itself. For the final phase of the operation, the Imperial Fists would lead adeptus Mechanicus and Imperial Guard forces in the final assault on the chaos bases around the single populated city on the otherwise desolate world. 

Admiral Gorshkov led the naval division against the Emerald Serpent fleet in the region of the target world. Both sides employed several carriers, and the space between the two fleets was soon filled with a swirling confusion of attack craft. Gorshkov suffered an immediate reversal however, as his mars class battlecruiser was wrecked by a lucky salvo. The imperial admiral pressed the attack however, and after a further hour of fighting the chaos fleet, themselves now a cruiser down, withdrew from the field. 

This was no victory for the imperium, the losses incurred on both sides in fact favoured the Emerald Serpent, but Gorshkov had manoeuvred into a favourable position, forcing the chaos fleet to disengage and paving the way for the next stage in the operation. It was enough.  

General Konev deals with Tyranid threat

The Hexis Front had been quite for months. The forces of chaos, in control of the device chamber, had dug in throughout their sector of control, and despite the imperium periodically nuking various chaos assets, the emperor’s forces were in no shape to launch a new offensive. General Konev’s forces were in poor shape, having been denied much needed supplies following serious reversals in the Hadron Expanse and despite the foothold the imperium had established in the Foramen Interdictum, it was still a very long way from Tarlius to the Lysis system. 

Fleets on both sides still retained a presence in the system, and although Stahl and the best forces of the Emerald Serpent had left to fight wars in the Perseus Deeps, the chaos hold on the irradiated wastelands of Hexis seemed stronger than ever. 

Worse still, the imperial forces were now facing an emergent xenos threat. The Tyranid menace designated R’Lyeh by the imperium were menacing Konev’s northern flank, and on 1506.019M42 the imperial general sent a detachment into the mountainous region of the deserts of Cralth. The well disciplined forces of the Novgorod guard encountered significant alien forces as soon as they entered the highland ruins. Here Konev’s forces systemstically hunted down each and every xenos creature, cataloguing new variant creatures including one designated “Clive”. The alien monsters seemed to be getting larger and larger and despite the victory, Konev knew the infestation was strengthening, despite the planet being almost devoid of life. Worse still, the imperial Astropaths began detecting the first signs of the Shadow in the warp - emanating from the planet itself. Worried, Konev consoled himself by firing another nuclear warhead at the city of Hexis. If the Tyranids did appear in force, the planet would be a radioactive wasteland inimical to all life. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Chaos forces move north on Tersius

Just as the Imperium were celebrating victory in their advance in the south, in the north a new chaos advance was smashing into the Imperial lines, pushing north from Mount Harender. Kutuzov had no reserves, having redeployed those to the southern theatre. Instead, as the forces of Cybixx, in much larger numbers, crashed through the imperial positions, the Novgorod Guard were once again called on to stem the tide.

Supported by large numbers of Imperial cultists whipped into a religious fervour by their priests, the Novgorod held firm against the inital advances by Cybixx's forces. Imperial assassins were used once again, and the battle began to centre over an important artefact. A set of vital imperial codes had been left behind in the initial retreat, and Kutuzov realised those codes would compromise the Imperial defence north of the mountains, as Cybixx would be able to - temporarily at least - shut down the void shields protecting the northern defence forces. Lost the codes and a withdrawal into the hinterlands of Voytein would be necessary.

The battle was fierce, with the Imperial forces fighting tooth and nail to prevent Cybixx from acquiring the codes. However despite their best efforts and mounting casualties to the heretical Ad Mech, the Novgorod Guard were unable to break through to the location of the codes. As the sun set on 1006.019M42 the badly battered Mechanicum forces escaped south with the container holding the imperial void shield codes. Realising his defensive position in the north was compromised Kutuzov withdrew his forces to within the range of artillery based at Voytein, giving up a great swathe of territory to the enemy.

Skrime Besieged by Sycorax

Following the capture of Skrime by the forces of chaos general Kutuzov was keen to reapply the pressure on the southern front. To do this he moved the elite stormtrooper formation of the Last of Sycorax, until now held in reserve around Mount Harender, to the southern front. Dropping by air, the plan was to surround the city with these elite forces, allowing the Novgorod Guard to follow up and retake the city. 

The initial drop went well, as valkyries and other airborne elements dropped straight into the action, finding to some concern that the defenders around the city now included elements of heretical Mechanicum, loyal to the arch traitor Cybixx. The battle was briefly fierce, but fortunately for Kutuzov the enemy forces were caught off guard, and by the middle of 0806.019M42 the imperial army had managed to encircle the city. As they dug in and made ready for the assault in the city, events further north threw into question Kutuzov’s strategy in the south. 

Hussaria falls

Following the establishment of the alliance bridgehead the Federal Super Heavy tanks moved out to challenge the remaining imperial forces. The imperial commander reacted by sending in the Last of Sycorax, and a furious battle developed on the valley floor that separated the imperial orbital defences from the base proper. 

The baneblades engaged first, with the Librian armour drawing first blood, but the Sycorax shadowswords then emerged, obliterating the Federal baneblade. However, the alliance forces now showed their hand, with ancient Fellblades from Tallax adding to the carnage wrought by Librian Shadowswords. 

By the end of 0806.019M42 the imperial tanks had been wrecked and the federal forces had only sustained moderate losses. The battle for Hussaria III was effectively over, although fanatical imperial cultists would plague the alliance forces for months to come. 

Hussaria III invaded

The initial invasion attempt of Hussaria III had ended in failure, as it had become clear that the imperium were not prepared to give up their hold on the planet easily. However, having defeated the imperial fleet, the Alliance prepared a new invasion, with significantly enhanced forces.

Malkaor led the alliance expedition, which included large numbers of fire warriors backed by the larger tau suits and drones. A full Kavaal - or commune was employed in the attack, totalling somewhere in the region of 10,000 troops, while the Federacy supplied a combined Librian/Tallaxian Super Heavy tank regiment. The tau needed to establish air superiority and the bridgehead, then the Federacy would sweep across the remaining Imperial controlled bases - nestling in a single valley near the equator of the cold world.

Malkaor was able to assess that in addition to the Novgorod forces, the imperium had been reinforced by a phalanx of Knights from House Corvus, as well as Super Heavy tanks from the Last of Sycorax. The tau commander decided to attack the knights first, and allow the Librians to deal with the heavy tanks.

The Tau insertion force deployed by night, unopposed by the imperial navy which had been smashed in previous weeks. The next morning the tau moved towards their main objective, the imperial artillery defences which needed to be neutralised before the Super heavy tanks could be unleashed.

The tau encountered the Knights in the industrial complex near to the imperial base. The tau scored the first success, taking down a Helverin skulking in the ruins, but the Castellan responded by obliterating the tau armoured support with overwhelming firepower.

During the engagement the tau were forced to close with their enemy, as the knights kept their distance from the tau, rendering their shorter range firepower ineffective. However, House Corvus, inexperienced in fighting tau, has massively overestimated the amount of firepower they needed to apply to a target to neutralise it. Poor target selection and inefficient use of firepower would ultimate cause their downfall. While House Corvus obliterate individual tau assets or units, Malkaor’s forces methodically took down knight after knight. Eventually the two larger knights were taken down, putting beyond doubt the tau victory, and by the end of the day the knights had been defeated for only moderate tau losses. Now the fate of Hussaria III rested on the outcome of the two Super heavy tank companies rushing towards each other along the valley floor.