Thursday, September 22, 2016

Aleph Sector Factions: Choose your side

The Alliance
- Aleph Sector Tau Forces
-- Commander Shadowstrike
-- Commander Skyfall
- The Federacy
-- Commander Apollo's Iron Warriors
-- Apollo Legion Mechanicus

The Crusade
- Inquisitor Vorushko
- Adeptus Astartes chapters
-- Sky Lords
-- Minotaurs
-- Charcaradons
-- Apocalypse Riders
-- Others (unclear)
- Ecclesiarchical forces
-- Sisters of Battle (Order of the Crimson Veil)
- Crusade Fleet
- Crusade Guard indentured forces
- Crusade Mechanicum forces

Loyalist Imperium
- The Sector Fleet (Admiral Jellicoe)
- Imperial Guard forces (Libria, Novgorod, Lycaon)
- Adeptus Astartes
-- Space Wolves
-- Ultramarines
-- Other (unclear)
-- Loyalist Mechanicum

Forces of Chaos
- Warsmith Stahl's Iron Warriors
- Emperor's Children
- Other legion forces

- Ork Warlord Von Bismork
- Ork Warlord Na'Porkleon

- Eldar faction Disciples of Ynead
- Kel Sandros Eldar
- Various Dark Eldar Kabals
- Harakhty Necron Dynasty
- Hive Fleet Nemesis

Introduction to the Aleph Sector

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Aleph Sector: An Introduction

Aleph Sector Background

The Aleph sector lies on the eastern edge of the galaxy in the Perseus spiral arm. It is in the Ultima segmentum and is close to the Tau empire. Until recently the sector was one of relative peace where Imperial citizens went about their daily lives earning a living and paying their taxes to the Emperor of Mankind on ancient Terra. Then war came. First it started sporadically with incursions by Chaos raiders and Ork pirates. Very little out of the ordinary.

Then with the Chaos crusade of 003.M42 and the establishment of the sepratist Federacy the stability of the region collapsed. Gradually the violence swept from the capital subsector of Aleph itself, into the Sadoc subsector, as the Federacy and tau vied with the forces of chaos, necrons and tyranids to overrun the imperial rule of the region.

The sector is made up of the Aleph, Zadoc, Vastrid, Valitane and Charybdis subsectors. Charybdis has not been part of the imperium for centuries, while the Aleph subsector itself is now the home of the tau allied Federacy. For now Valitane and Vastrid remain largely under Imperial control but Zadoc is falling into anarchy. In addition the lawless depths between subsectors contain their own hazards, the chief of these being the Perseus Deeps.

Major Factions

- Loyalist Imperium
The loyalist forces are those imperial forces specifically engaged by Inquisitor Hathek against both the alliance and the crusade forces of Natalia Vorushko in the Librian campaign. They are largely imperial guard formations, although a number of astartes chapters including the Crimsons Fists and Blood Martyrs do not accept the edicts of Vorushko, as they largely overrule and contradict what had already been established by another Inquisitor Lord - Hathek himself. Largely suffering defeats, having been removed from Libria III, the loyalists are none the less supplied by the imperial fleet, who in 016M42 finally "declared" for the loyalist faction, while the crusade managed to acquire a significant portion of the fleet for their own usage.

- Crusade
The Crusade is led by the powerful Inquisitor Lord Natalia Vorushko. She has judged the sector, particularly the system of Libria as guilty of treason. She has observed the decline of the imperium to the alliance, as world after world has fallen to the encroaching tau and federal territories. To counter this unstoppable momentum Vorushko has enlisted the help of some of the more ruthless and single minded astartes, including the Apocalypse Riders, Sky Lords and Minotaurs. With these chapters at her disposal she intends to exploit then raze Libria - and any other system in the path of the tau advance - enslaving the population and denying the world's resources to the alliance. Inquisitor Hathek is diametrically opposed to this scorched earth policy, and his opposition has directly led to the three faction war in the Libria system.

- The Alliance (Tau & Federacy)
The Alliance is made up primarily of the Federacy, an empire created from the imperial worlds of the Aleph subsector by Admiral Haskell, an advocate of the original imperial creed lost in the warp since the Horus Heresy. Now the Federacy have been joined by their own astartes, original Iron Warriors similarly trapped in the warp then released some ten thousand years later. Still loyal to the emperor but not regarding him a god, legion commander Apollo now leads his marines in the name of an organisation of a dozen worlds committed to the heretical ideas of democracy, learning and progress.. Allied to this human empire is the tau, although the xenos would much rather incorporate the federacy into their empire. The eldar were committed to the alliance cause, but tensions over the dark eldar and internal factionalism saw the eldar split from the alliance in 016M42.

- Chaos
Led by Warsmith Stahl of the Iron Warriors the forces of chaos are actively engaged on a number of worlds. Over the years many forces and leaders have come and gone, with the position of "Master of Chaos" in the sector changing hands many times. Moonface, Shaidar Haran, Lorek, The Arch Cleric the Anticross and Warsmith Gallowfen have held the title, but now it is Stahl who looks on in dismay as the power of chaos once more enters a decline. Years of campaigning have taken their toll on the forces of chaos, but Stahl has built great defences on Zadoc and Minos, and his forces are well dug in. Now he seeks reinforcements to continue his campaign to retake the once vast chaos realm, which he has begun with the securing of Minos in 016M42.

Minor Forces
The Eldar, having left the alliance, are now solely interested in their own affairs. They have several craftworlds and other holdings such as maiden worlds in the Aleph sector, and will intervene whenever they feel events are moving in such a way to threaten their own small "empire". Meanwhile the Kel Sandros Eldar continue to manipulate events to promote the eventual Eldar supremacy in the galaxy, their own private goal.

The Orks remain an ever present threat in the Aleph Sector, but have never been numerous enough or united enough to pose a real threat. At present their wars on Hylas and Fort Sparcos provide the greenskins with enough sport, and the chances of a significant Waagh! at present seem remote.

Hive fleet Nemesis, once a potent threat which ravaged the Rim Worlds and annihilated three major systems in the Zadoc subsector, has apparently disappeared, the hive mind having moved away from the sector into the vast inter-sector space. However recent expeditions to supposedly dead worlds in the wake of Nemesis have discovered still living remnants of the hive fleet.

The Necrons, having re-established the Harakhty Dynasty in the Perseus Deeps, are now inward looking and fighting amongst themselves.

Major Warzones

Libria & the Zadoc Subsector
The Zadoc subsector, closest to the Tau empire, remains at war. Zadoc itself is a long drawn out ground war between Stahl's dug in forces of chaos and the Tau-Federal Alliance. In the Mabb Nebula there are frequent conflicts between the orks, Imperium and tau, including the four year long grionding campaign on Hylas between the Greenskins and General Van Dorn, while in space the Imperial navy attempts to keep supplies to New Cerberex and Hylas open.

In the Libria System itself a three way conflict between the loyalists, crusade and alliance continues. The Crusade hold the innermost and outermost planets, Libria I and V, while the most important, Libria III, is contested by the alliance. The loyalists are on the back foot. They control the unimportant world of Libria II but are rapidly losing the ocean-world of Libria IV.

In space, the loyalist and alliance fleets are the largest, but Inquisitor Vorushko has secured a small battlegroup. In addition the strike cruisers of the astartes loyal to her can be called upon for lightning strikes. The crusade does not have a large enough fleet to compete with the other two factions just yet, but the growing religious fanatacism behind the crusade has led to the formation of the rag tag "pilgrim fleet".

Persues Deeps
The Perseus Deeps remain the front line between the young civilisations of the alliance, the established Imperium and ancient enemies. The Necrons dominate much of the Deeps, but around the edges the forces of chaos are rising once more, and the eldar are securing world after world.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Libria: Roundup

While the war on Hylas ground to a familiar halt, the war on Libria also began to peter out as 016M42 reached its middle. Libria V had fallen to the Crusade, along with Libria I. Libria II remained "neutral" but was in reality under the sway of the crusade. Libria III was deep into a long ground war between the Crusade and the Alliance, while Libria IV was slowly being won off the loyalists by the Alliance.

During the Librian "summer", when the variable star pulsed into a higher luminesence, from 05-09.016M42, very little changed. In that time the Alliance Mechanicum and their Iron Warrior Federal allies, made significant gains on Libria III, devastating the elite forces of Vorushko and pushing the crusade back. The Minotaurs and Carcharadons took heavy punishment, and by 09.016M42 it was clear that the space sharks astartes were no longer an effective fighting force. They departed the subsector leaving Vorushko with no option other than to go over to the defensive on Libria III.

Meanwhile the Loyalists managed to reinforce their presance on Libria II, removing the "crusade compliant" governor and stiffening the loyalist resolve by deploying a company of Ultramarines on the world. The Crusade immediately reacted however, conducting a lightning strike by the Minotaurs chapter, who devastated the ultramarines and their equipment deployed on the planet. Soon after the Ultramarines found themselves raided by Vlokarian's dark eldar in an opportunist attack. Morale of the loyalists on Libria II fell to a new low.

Hylas: Beng beseiged by Von Bismork

After finally gaining some momentum on Hylas with the Ultramarines retaking Beng, Van Dorn was pleased to recieve the news that the Carcharadon and Sky Lords chapter of space marines would be able to carry on the fight against the greenskin menace led by the tyrant Von Bismorck. This allowed Van Dorn to release the Ultramarines from the front line on 0805.016M42. However, their withdrawl from defensive positions around the perimeter of Beng immediately precipitated a counter attack by the ork forces, who realised the astartes were the strongest opponents they would face.

Van Dorn expected this and had been assured that the arrival of the crusade forces would quickly prevent a breakthrough. However the Sky Lords were still days away and the Carcharadons, despite being in orbit around the planet, inexplicably failed to materialise before Desmond and Finlay on the flanks of Beng, had been overrun. Then finally the Space Sharks appeared. Their intervention was too late however, and the orks were now entrenched in their positions. After a brief violent struggle the Carcharadons withdrew allowing the mechanised Sky Lords to take over the assault, while Van Dorn raged in private about the incompetence of his crusade forces.

The Sky Lords were unable to do much better. Although they were well equipped and met the orks head on on the road to Beng, their attempt at breaking the siege of the settlement was unsuccesful. Despite the carnage caused by the astartes and their Knight detachment, there were always more orks to fill the breach, and try as they might the crusade force could not quite open a gap in Von Bismork's lines. Following this both sides dug in, and the astartes withdrew altogether, as Van Dorn went over to the defensive until later in the year.

Libria V falls to crusade

The end on Libria V came surprisingly swiftly in the end. With their supply lines cut and the crusade fleet in orbit around the planet, massive reinforcements were landed for the crusade. Yellowdale had remained a bastion for the loyalists, but with complete control of space air superiority followed, then the crusade mechanicus were landed to the south of the Novgorod loyalist positions. Unable to deal with this new threat, the Novgorod regiments were simply crushed by Knights, skitarri and other mechanicum weaponry. Yellowdale fell on 0305.016M42.

The position for the loyalists was now hopeless. The remaining beseiged cities fought on in pockets, but by mid 05.016M42 the war on Libria III had become a mop up exercise for the crusade. Now the loyalists had just a small foothold on Libria III and de jure control of Libria II, but with no way to enforce it.

The fall of Libria V also meant the crusade had control over the outer system and its jump points, as well as the inner system. In between a fierce war continued to rage between the alliance and imperial forces, but nowhere did the alliance have a secure base from which to launch offensives. Vorushko certainly had the upper hand in the Librian system as the middle of 016M42 approached.

Libria System: Dark eldar interfere

Following the battle in the depths of the Librian system the loyalist and crusade fleets had more to worry about than just each other. Lurking in the shadows and asteroid fields in the system the Shattered Silence kabal of dark eldar were waiting to make a healthy profit from the weakened human fleets.

Unconvinced of the profitability of the venrture, the kabal's leader refused to give his overt support to the enterprise, and this attitude looked to be the correct one as the dark eldar's first encounter with the Crusade ended with a bloody nose and no rewards. Sticking together when the xenos attacked, the crusade fleet weathered the attempted ambush, then began dealing massive damage back to the alien ships. The Shattered Silence withdrew to attempt to fix the damage.

Knowing a fall from grace awaited him upon his return to Commoragh, the commander of the fleet decided to try again. This time his fleet encountered Enkvist's loyalist fleet. Unlike the crusade, Enkvist's vessels were ill equipped to deal with their elusive foe, and the dark eldar were able to disable, board and loot more than one imperial vessel before disappearing into the darkness.

In the end the expedition to the Libria system had not been a complete success, but neither had it been entirely unprofitable. As usual the Archon Kurokenshi was able to take credit for the success, but blame others for the failures. Key skills in remaining top of a kabal in Commoragh.For the imperium howver, the results ensured Enkvist would be unable to intervene in what was about to happen on Libria V.

Libria III: Alliance halt Vorushko's advance

By the end of 04.016M42 the alliance were in a sorry state on Libria III. Although holding more than two thirds of the territory they had been unable to break the crusade, and were now suffering attrition they could not afford. At the same time, the people and infrastructure of Libria II suffered, and Cartasia had become a virtual wasteland devoid of useful resources and no longer producing meaningful output for the imperium.

The crusade advance however had reached its zenith. the crusade forces hit hard on the attack but suffered vulnerabilities when having to command whole swathes of territory. Made up chiefly of astartes and other elite formations, it usually fell to Librian "converts" and the Vannaheim Guard to hold Vorushko's gains. And the alliance knew it.

The alliance first struck back at Santo, knowing this was not defended by astartes forces. By deploying their elite Mechanicum formations, the alliance quickly crushed the Vannaheim defenders and retook the city and began to move south towards Cartasia once more.

Libria System: Crusade fleet gain control

The continued presence of the military wing of the Crusade fleet in the Libria system was a thorn in the loyalist side as they attempted to maintain a hold on the two outer planets of the system. By 05.016M42 they had lost Libria I, Libria II was all but ungoverned, Libria III was contested between the crusade and Alliance and they were losing on Libria IV and V. With Vorushko's latest offensive on Libria V, Inquisitor Hathek demanded Jellicoe respond, or face the consequences.

Reluctantly Admiral Jellicoe declared the Crusade fleet apostate and despatched Admiral Enkvist to deal with the problem. On 3004.016M42 the loyalist and crusade fleets clashed in the outer reaches of the Librian system for ultimate control of the space near Libria V. The battle began with a largely ineffective long range torpedo duel, but the area was littered with asteroids and debris, and this phase of the battle was largely uneventful. Soon however the two fleets approached to within lance and gun battery range, and battle was joined in earnest.

The crusade fleet was able to manoeuvre their hunter escort squadrons into position behind the loyalist emperor class battleship. This in turn was swiflty crippled by a mass torpedo salvo, critically imparing the loyalist admiral's ability to control the battle. Fearful of risking the loss of an entire battlegroup Enkvist disengaged, allowing the crusade to control the space around Libria V. The loyalists had come close to victory however, as the Ecclesiarchy Shrineship Ex Cathedra was successfully intercepted by waves of loyalist assault boats. The damage however was largely superficial, and the crusade admiral was able to maintain command of his vessels

Betor expedition finds Nemesis alive

It had been years since tyranid hive fleet Nemesis had ravaged the Zadoc subsector, consuming a score of worlds and arguably precipitating the Imperial collapse in the region. Inquisitor Huron was keen to re-assess the threat, as the xenos had not been encountered for a long time, and the imperium had all but written off the tyranids as lost in the void. Huron knew they hive fleet may have scattered, but likely lurked still in the depths of space between inhabited systems.

Inquisitor Vorushko was also keen to assess the Xenos threat, as her plan to create a buffer of dead worlds between the Tau empire and the remaining imperial controlled subsectors in the region depended on the denial of any inhabited colonies in the Zadoc subsector. Alpeh and Betor had been consumed, but if the tyranids had left the worlds the tau would be able to establish bases, and eventually colonies on the dead husks of the former agri worlds. This could not be tolerated.

Huron was given a division of Vannaheim guard and the assistance of the Sisters of Battle in his first exploration of Betor, once a prime fishing world now reduced to a lifeless husk, devoid of all life. Or so he thought. On arrival at Betor Huron was surprised to encounter a world with its atmosphere intact, and its seas remaining. Previous experience with the extra-galactic aliens had led Huron to believe the tyranids simply consumed the world once it had been pacified, but here this was not the case.

Landing on the world the Sisters of battle found a dead world. Bioliogical life had gone, but the tyranid process of consuming all resources had not been completed. Inquisitor Huron was unable to complete his investigations however, as no sooner had the imperial force landed, than they were attacked and overwhelmed by a horde of Nemesis warriors. The Xenos took heavy casualties, but the Sisters of Battle could not hold back the tide. Huron and his force managed to escape largely intact, but it was clear that whatever Nemesis was upto, they didn't want to be interrupted.

The Fall of Minos

Early morning on 3004.016M42 the Iron Warriors finally breached the walls of the Minos' Space Port and faced the last stand of the Imperial defenders. At the time key personnel from the Administratum and Ecclesiarchy were being extracted, although this process was painfully slow due to civilians riots. To delay the Iron Warriors, the last defenders, a Volscians Armoured Company, physically blocked the breach with tanks, aiming to stop, or at least delay the Iron Warriors long enough for the evacuation to complete.

In the early morning dark the Iron Warriors assault advanced though the breach in the morning gloom, their supporting artillery unable to accurately target the Volscians. In return, the Volscians concentrated their fire upon the Maulerfiends and a third were soon reduced to blazing wrecks. The imperial Ogryns and supporting infantry advanced along the right flank with the Spawn countering, but the abhumans bludgeoned the monstrosities without difficulty. The Ogryns then broke through the Iron Warrior lines and after managing to take down forward Rapier emplacements were set upon by diseased brain dead slave workers. At the Space Port walls the Iron Warrior assault annihilated the the Volscian Armoured Company. As the sun rose the Agema artillery began their bombardment, destroying their counterparts before they could effectively fire. Despite the carnage, the Volscians infantry refused to break and had to be slaughtered to a man. The final act of the Iron Warrior leader was to callously bombard both the Ogryns and his own slaves into oblivion, killing both. With the breach finally cleared, the Iron Warriors broke into the Spaceport. Over the coming days the Iron Warriors systematically wiped out all remaining resistance, and put the populace to work fortifying their new conquest.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hylas: Ultramarines retake Beng

On Hylas, Van Dorn had already received the dubious benefit of Crusade reinforcements, including a strike cruiser of the Carcharadons, the imperium also received aid in the form of a company of Ultramarines. Despite the ongoing crusade war on Libria, and an uneasiness which was palpable at Van Dorn's first council of war since their arrival, the two factions agreed, albeit sullenly, to work together to remove the greenskin menace from Hylas once and for all.

The honour of the next offensive was given to the Ultramarines, who launched their armoured spearhead against the ork held settlement of Beng, which had been substantially "fortified" by the orks. Von Bismork's forces were taken by surprise, and despite fighting furiously in parts of the city, the overall performance of Von Bismork's troops was disorganised and ineffective, and by 3004.016M42 the Ultramarines had secured the city. Van Dorn now contacted his crusade "allies" for the next push west.

Libria V current

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Libria III: Crusade undo alliance gains

While the crusade swept forward on Libria V, recent battles had seen Grisk, Santo and the crucial heartlands of Cartasia once again fall into the hands of the alliance. Vorushko, ever cognisant of the morale aspects with the alliance, ordered her forces, now resupplied and prepared for a counter attack, to retake the ground they had lost. If successful this would be the third or fourth time the region changed hands, depleting federal and tau morale, as neither faction favoured prolonged wars of attrition, while Vorushko was perfectly happy with such an outcome.

The crusade assault, once again led by crusade mechanicum and fresh Minotaurs units, was a complete and devastating success. Skyfall's tau were badly mauled by the advancing mechanicum, and forced to give up control of Grisk on 1804.016M42. Worse was to follow, as the alliance sent in their own mechanicum forces, loyal to Apollo's Iron Warriors to plug the gap. Striking from orbit the Mechanicum caught the alliance forces completely unprepared, and a series of mishaps (including a knight detonating and wiping out significant alliance forces) ensured that the Minotaurs' follow up was particularly bloody.

By 2404.016M42 the destruction of a complete alliance mechanicum army in just a few hours left the alliance with a one hundred mile hole in their lines. There was no other choice but to abandon Grisk, Santo and Regina, pulling back to lines occupied several months previously. the crusade had undone months of alliance work, but had come no closer to taking the entire planet. Vorushko however could wait. Whether the alliance could was another story...

Libria V: Crusade strike decisive blow

In 04.016M42 Inquisitor Vorushko was keen to press the crusade on all fronts. By now the crusade fleet had arrived in force, contesting the space around the Libria system and taking away the alliance advantage. Similarly the presence of so many ships, despite their limited combat worthiness in many cases, ensured Admiral Jellicoe's passivity in pressing for control of the system.

Taking advantage of this the Crusade Mechanicus and Minotaurs made several assaults on Libria V in order to press their advantage to the full. With the Lycaon Guard units moved into reserve following their recent engagements it was the Space Wolves and Novgorod Guard who bore the brunt of the crusade assault.

Timing their attacks with precision, the Minotaurs swept into the remainder of Timberhill, striking from orbit to pin then destroy key positions. The Space Wolves fought hard but were unable to deal with the strategic advantage enjoyed by their fellow astartes, and by mid 04.016 Daralon had fallen and the remainder of the loyalist cities had been besieged.

At the same time the Adeptus Mechanicus moved ever closer to Louxin City, cutting off Jutesberg and Daralon and securing all transport linke between loyalist strongholds on the mainland. The Novgorod guard were unable to halt the mechanicum, despite their numbers, and by 2604.016M42 the position on Libria V was looking dire. Although the loyalists still held three cities, they were cut off and unable to support one another. The loyalist commander urgently called for aid from Jellicoe.

Minos: Stahl closes on victory

After the victory of the Dark Angels, the Imperial defenders of Minos were further bolstered by the arrival of the Ultramarines, reportedly led by Chief Librarian Varro Tigurius. While only a small strike force, they were accompanied by an Imperial Knight Household, all vowing the break the accursed traitors. Despite the Iron Warriors being on the defensive, their artillery train remained fully functional, led by a brutal member of the Stor-Bezashk brotherhood, the death of whome would almost certainly mean the Iron Warriors having to abandon their positions. Stahl was keen to ensure this did not happen as his forces took up positions against the enemy.

At a little after midday, the Ultramarines were deployed alongside an armoured company of Imperial Guard; the plan to split the Iron Warriors between the advancing forces and the drop pod assault. The Iron Warriors were initially caught on the back foot and the Imperial forces advanced unmolested, while Tigurius came in from orbit, but freak atmospheric conditionsthrew the drop pod into a wild spin crashing and killing near half the Ultramarines within.

While the Imperial Knight blazed into the Charybdis Agema Rapier teams inflicting moderate casualties, Tigurius attacked the Earthshaker emplacements commanded by the Stor-Bezashk, but the dug in Agema proved tough to crack. The Imperial artillery strikes proved ineffective against the heavily dug in traitors, who suffered only light damage to their war machines.

Rather than split their assault forces the Iron Warriors surged en masse towards the Imperial lines, while their dead eyed slave workers swarmed Tigurius and his men. Clearly afflicted with the Warp Plague, a gift of despair from Nurgle, hundreds of hands dragged the last two bodyguards down. With no choice but to retreat, Tigurius fled. Alarmingly his own bodyguard, now dead eyed and foaming at the mouth rose to block his path as hundreds of infected slaves dragged him down.

The Maulerfiends attacked the Imperial Knight and after dodging several blows crushed its power plant, destroying both it and the Knight. The armoured company desperately poured fired into the advancing Iron Warriors, but daemonic energies and terrain prevented any meaningful casualties. While spawn were killed through concentrated fire, all Imperial vehicles and men were torn apart with claw and shell. By 16:00 2304.016M42 not a single Guardsman or Ultramarine was left alive of the assault force.

The loss of an armoured company defending Minos’ capital meant the Iron Warriors were quickly able to breach the walls and pour into the city. PDF troops rapidly deserted their post as they, along with civilians fled to Minos’ Governor Palace, where the only remaining Imperial forces on the planet remained.

Hylas: Crusade's arrival helps Van Dorn

By 04.016M42 the crusade fleet had swelled to hundreds of vessels, many of which were merely cargo or civilian craft coopted by the crusade and tagging along behind the military vessels. With Libria contested, inquisitor Vorushko realised that to tip the balance in her favour against the alliance, she would have to threaten the alliance supply lines. After convening with her admirals, it was decided that part of the fleet would split off in order to "spread the good word" across the sector, specifically the Mabb Nebula, where tau bases assured safe passage from tau space all the way to Tarsis Major and Libria. If these supply routes could be threatened, the alliance hold on Libria would be weakened.

A significant portion of the crusade fleet moved out of the Libria system on 0804.016M42 and arrived at New Cerberex on 1304.016M42. Upon their arrival they were quickly informed that the Bork fleet had been sighted at Hylas, and ork pirates were threatening imperial supply routes to Caitlen station. It was clear the greenskins would have to be taken care of before the tau could be harrassed.

A few days later the crusade forces, led by the Ecclesiarchy shrineship Ex Cathedra, finding the Bork fleet in the halo region of Hylas' volatile star. With the very first shot of the engagement the nova cannon mounted on Omnis Perdita Est crippled a Terrorship, setting the tone of the engagement. However, the crusade fleet closed in too early, allowing the ork hulk to exact revenge against the crusade, crippling then reducing Omnis Perdita Est to a smoking ruin.

Fierce close in fighting followed, but in the end it was the flanking attacks by the imperial escorts and the near-untouchable nature of the Ecclesiarchy Ex Cathedra which ensured the orks were driven off from Hylas orbit. Faith in the emperor had defeated the xenos threat, even when the hammer class ork vessel managed a boarding attack on a dictator class vessel, the frenzied half-starved pilgrim fanatics on board simply swarmed the greenskins, repulsing the attack!

Hylas had been saved from the Bork fleet once again, although General Van Dorn was a little concerned by the fanatical nature of the imperial force which had now arrived in orbit.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Libria V: Crusade inch forward

While the crusade were unable to reinforce Libria III given the alliance blockade, they were still able to send forces into and resupply Libria V. Orbiting further out, Libria V was beyond the patrol radius of the alliance fleet, which was limited to operations within the inner biosphere. Given Libria V was under the control of loyalist and crusade forces anyway, this was of little concern to the alliance.

On 2203.016M42 the recently reinforced crusade mechanicus forces broke the recent "detente" between the loyalists and crusade forces, driving into loyalist held territory. Vorushko wanted to ensure that the loyalists did not think that after a while the Xenos threat would take precidence and she would be forced to accept the loyalists position, or worse, a compromise. This was a point of principle and authority, and one Vorushko would never let go.

The attack was launched against Lycaon Guard lines, and once again the guard units proved resilient and stubborn against their enemy, but the technological edge enjoyed by the mechanicus forces ensured that after a hard fight, the loyalists were forced to yield ground to the crusade. It was a token gesture however and no major breakthrough was achieved.

Aethor: Vlokarion raid succeeds, but is costly

With the eldar & dark eldar making significant gains on the planet of Aethor, and the imperial defences in disarray, the leader of one kabal, Vlokarian continued to funnel forces across the webway to support the eldar effort. In actual fact the support for the cause of the Disciples of Y'Nead was incidental. The primary reason was to continue exploiting the human population, and as another raiding party arrived on Aethor they had no reason to believe that this raid would be any different from any other.

Unfortunately for Vlokarion's forces the imperium had, but 2003.016M42, reorganised their defences, and the highly organised and disciplined Lycaon Guard had arrived from Bastien to reinforce the defenders. The dark eldar attacked with little regard for their foe, and were suprised by the withering return fire and stubbornness of their enemy, who refused to withdraw. Very soon the dark eldar were taking significant casualties, and only the intervention of senior kabal commanders prevented a rout. Eventually the superior firepower of the xenos forced the Lycaon Guard to retreat in good order, allowing Vlokarion's forces to round up a reasonable haul of "subjects". However, the cost had been high and Vlokarion began to reconsider the Aethor expedition.

Minos: Dark Angels break the seige

Following a series of panicked and incomplete reports from the front lines warning of a new warband of Emperor's Children running rampant and reinforcing Stah'ls Iron Warriors, Imperial Commanders on Minos issued a request for aid from the Adeptus Astartes. The request fell largely on deaf ears with most of the Space Marine Chapters in the sector busy prosecuting the civil war on Libria. The Dark Angels however held the conflict there in contempt, seeing it as a petty internal political dispute within the Inquisition that served only to weaken the Imperium and sap its strength. Resolved to protect the Imperium from its external enemies and intrigued by reports of a terrible Chaos warlord of unmatched martial prowess a task force of the Dark Angel's 4th Company was immediately mobilised.

Easily locating the Chaos warband from the trail of destruction it left the Dark Angels deployed from their orbiting Strike Cruiser, the Dark Dominion. A ferocious running battle ensued as the two highly mobile Marine formations launched a series of exquisitely orchestrated lightening attacks and counter attacks. It was a deadly duel and neither side was able to best the other as each strike they made was deftly countered in turn. The conflict eventually ended in stalemate. With no possibility of a decisive advantage for either side both commanders elected to withdraw.

Although they had failed in their goal to kill or capture the Chaos commander the ferocity of the Dark Angel's assault was sufficient to halt the Emperor's Children's rampage and force them from the front lines. For the time being at least the Imperial forces on Minos had the advantage and the time they needed to re-organise and launch their own counter attack.

Libria System: Crusade Mechanicus fleet forced to abandon mission to Libria III

Following on from the successful exploitation of the Hadron Expanse by the imperial task force, the adeptus mechanicus found itself with a number of valuable tech hauls from the unexplored region, which included several hulks of old warships. Inquisitor Natalia Vorushko was keen to ensure that the Magi who oversaw the acquisition of the archeotech from the task force was aligned to her Crusade in Libria. This she managed by adeptly ensuring that her faction were in the ascendency at the Hadron jump point in the system of Brimlock, where the task force returned on 1803.016M42. Inquisitor Huron, although disappointed that the disagreement between Vorushko and Hathek was still going on, was obliged to turn over the items of value to the adeptus mechanicus representative Vorushko had made sure was waiting for him.

In exchange for this valuable prize, the adeptus mechanicus agreed to Vorushko's request to break the seige of Libria III. Since late 016M42 the inner system and jump points of the Libria system had been controlled entirely by the alliance. The Federal fleet and the Iron Warrior fleet of Apollo had locked down access to the inner systems leaving Vorushko unable to launch orbital strikes. Even the fast moving vessels of the Minotaurs and Apocalypse Riders had been unable to penetrate the defence screen since Apollo had changed the way patrols were conducted. Libria I, II and III were effectively cut off.

By mid 03.016M42 the Iron Warriors fleet had left the system to be replaced by admiral Swiftstar's tau. The federal fleet had also left, as it had formed the vanguard of the voyage to the Hadron Expanse and not yet returned. Now was a chance to strike at the weakened alliance defence, but Vorushko's crusade was in no position to do so. The astartes had few vessels, and the Crusade fleet under Cornellius and rear Admiral Fernando was undergoing repairs and trying to re-organise at Caitlen Station - which had effectively fallen to Crusade control without a shot being fired.

With no fleet to exploit what would surely be a transient weakness in the alliance defence, Vorushko requested that a mechanicus fleet break the siege. Such a fleet was already available and had been in the area for months, but until now, direct confrontation with the alliance on behalf had been avoided in favour of conducting augur scans of the Mab Nebula.

On 2203.015M42 the Adeptus Mechanicus crusade fleet arrived in the Libria system from an unexpected anlge, using their advanced technology to warp directly into the inner system. Taken by surprise Swiftstar hastily assembled his fleet to face the intruders in the solar flare region of the Librian system.

Throughout the engagement both sides were plagued by poor communications from the radiation constantly streaming from the Librian sun. It was difficult for both sides to coordinate ship movements and targets, and often captains had to attempt to guess their admiral's wishes. This reduced the effectiveness of tau ordnance strikes with torpedoes and manta bombers, but critically affected the coordinated use of the mechanicus nova cannon, which fired at escort vessels for much of the engagement.

Swiftstar formed his infamous "box" formation and faced the mechanicus head on, while the crusade fleet simply accepted the challenge and sailed towards the tau. A vicious close firefight erupted, destroying one mechanicum light cruiser and crippling two more, forcing them to flee the battle. then the Mechanicus fleet managed to utilise a lull in the storm of radioactive particles to coordinate a devastating strike on the tau custodian class battleship "Vigilence". the vessel took the full force of the imperial fleet, and within minutes of being fired upon the tau vessel exploded as her plasma drive containment failed, killing admiral Swiftstar.

Hungry for revenge the tau uncharacteristically closed still further, swarming their mantas around the two dominator class cruisers at the back of the mechanicus formation, reducing both to hulks before one blew up in a spectacular display of pyrotechnics. The mechanium fleet was able to heavily damage a protecter class vessel before both sides lost contact in the mass of swirling plasma, but despite killing the tau admiral and destroying their flagship, the mechanicum fleet had taken more damage, having only an undamaged battleship and two badly damaged light cruisers following the battle. Unable to loosen the alliance grip on the core systems of Libria, the mechanicum fleet disengaged and headed for Caitlen station to repair and refit.

Libria III: Skyfall smashes Crusade lines in Cartasia

With the Crusade forces throttled by the continued blockade of the inner Librian systems, the alliance took the opportunity to put pressure on the crusade forces already on the planet. In mid 03.016M42 commander skyfall, utilising the very pinnacle of tau battlesuit technology, launched a major offensive against the crusade forces defending Cartasia. Mostly fanatical ad hoc guard units much of the open ground was quickly yielded - as planned - to the xenos. Thousands of ill equipped but expendable fanatics died but bought enough time for the forces of Vorushko to respond.

To defend Regina and Grisk, the Sky Lords were deployed to counter attack. Utilising Knights and heavily armoured land raiders, the astartes drove straight for the enemy. Skyfall's cadres however were prepared for such an attack and laid down a withering hail of fire which quickly destroyed much of the astartes armour and then began chewing up the marines themselves. Still the Sky Lords maintained the pressure, and managed to fend off a rather half hearted and costly envelopment attempt by stealth suits, but the main front line action turned into a massacre as the ghost keels dealt with the Imperial Knight blocking the road to Grisk and the elite terminators were simply erased by high energy weaponry.

Meanwhile on the western flank of Skyfall's attack the battle was even more decisive. Here even the best equipment of the adeptus mechanicus was swept aside by the technologically superior tau force, and by 2203.016M42 the crusade had lost control of Regina, Parth and Grisk as well as the important industrial heartland of Cartasia. In two weeks the crusade had suffered a major setback and were retreating to Cartal. Outnumbered, out of supply and definitely outgunned, the future of the Crusade itself began to look in doubt.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Three forces sent expeditions into the Hadron Expanse while the warp routes remained viable, in order to reconoitre as much as possible, exploit any resources and return to the Aleph Sector. For the Imperium, the Crusade and Loyalist forces managed to ignore their differences over Libria long enough to build a formidable task force. Lead by Inquisitor Huron, who had remained neutral in the argument between Vorushko and Hathek, the imperium gathered together a large fleet of warships, including elements of Admiral Pendragon's and Admiral Enkvist's fleets, and with the reappearance of Admiral Hector to Aleph sector operations.

Added to this were several regiments of Novgorod Guard, who continued to flood in to the sector via Brimlock in an impressive display of seemingly inexhaustible manpower. Backing this up, the Adeptus Mechanicus, crucially interested in finding STC components and space hulks in the Hadron Expanse, added their own forces to the expedition.

The alliance, short on manpower and extended on all fronts, supplied a much smaller force. Only one federal battlegroup took part and this was undersized, and the only ground forces sent were a few hunter cadres from Skyfall's Aleph Expansion sphere. For chaos, despite being entrenched in wars or internecine conflicts, the ruinous powers managed to assemble a warfleet under Admiral Thok, and several thousand Iron Warriors. In addition, always looking for profit, the Dark Eldar kabal of the shattered silence also sent its own force from Commoragh.

The exploration of the Hadron expanse continued for around a terran month, with the Imperial forces out of Brimlock dominating much of the available systems. Skirmishes on the ground were largely few and far between, but there were two major engagements of note. In one, the Mechanicum met the bulk of Skyfall's entire force, and a large full scale battle took place. After hours of hard fighting it was the tau who were narrowly defeated, and this early set back seriously impacted the alliance's cause, despite the federal fleet defeating admiral Pendragon. Following that engagement it became clear the imperium outnumbered alliance forces but at least 3-1, and the alliance moved their operations further to the galactic south, effectively yielding much of the expanse to the imperium.

At the same time, the middle of the expanse was being contested by the forces of chaos and the imperium, with Stahl gaining victory over the Novgorod Guard in one system, but losing to the Mechanicum in another. The too and fro of engagements culminated in a large set piece space battle, which put much of the imperial fleet under Hector and Enkvist against mad admiral Thok and his pirate dark eldar allies.

The space battle itself was decisive, with the dark eldar seen off and Thok's fleet badly damaged. Although Thok once again escaped in his crippled "planet killer", the victory gave the imperium domination over the northern expanse, and despite being defeated on the ground by Skyfall's cadres and the dark eldar of the shattered silence, it was the control of the space lanes which decided the Hadron expedition. By 1803.016M42 the warp storms were closing in once more, and all sides prepared to leave the area. The mechanicum had retrieved several key artefacts and space hulks, while the forces of chaos had seen little gain for their efforts. The alliance had profited from their small expedition but knew there was nothing in the southern Hadron Expanse which would aid them in their many wars, and the imperial success bolstered the imperial will to resist on several fronts.