Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cerberex - Imperium in retreat

Imperium in full retreat
At the start of 008M42 the Imperium was in full retreat on all fronts. In the west the UFP were breaking out and heading for Vennetta and the glaciers of the southern pole, while in the north the hard won gains across the river Otter were being eroded by a rejuvenated Hartak 9th Legion which benefited from the UFP's air supremecy.

Things were little better for Army Group Centre on the eastern front where intelligence noted an increase in activity near Rideau. An attack here linking the two Chaos zones of control would put the Army Group under severe pressure. The mood at Imperial HQ was grim.

Lester retaken by Hartak 9th Legion
The first major setback came as the Cerberex PDF and AVR units stationed in and around the hard won city of Lester were steadily pushed back by the forces of the UFP. At the same time a flanking attack across the river Otter and towards Feducia prevented the Imperium from reinforcing the town with fresh troops. XI corps, consisting all of Von Rundstedt's mobile reserve - three divisions including the Librian 4th mechanised - was transferred to the east to face the increasing threat of a Chaos breakthrough towards Rideau.

Meanwhile the fighting around Lester was bitter and intense, and the Imperial defenders managed to inflict significant material losses on the Hartak 9th Legion, but they would not be stopped. On 2808.007M42 the town's garrison surrendered. 40,000 prisoners were taken as well as tanks and artillery pieces. Further east the armoured units of the Hartak divisions had broken through the Cerberex PDF and were heading for the capital. Their explotation left them less than 300 miles from Feducia by 0208.007M42 and forced the Imperial High Command to move their HQ to the relative safety of Grasx. Meanwhile the Blood Martyrs' 5th company deployed around the city, ready to make its first impression on the war on Ceberex in the defence of the capital.

Iron Warriors take Rideau
Worse was to follow for the Imperium as the Iron Warriors loyal to Moonface struck out against Rideau in an obvious encricling move to join up with "The Cowboy" and his forces in Calormain. The attack was preceded by a massive artillery bombardment from the Iron Warriors' artillery battalions and followed up with a lightning armoured dash across the open plains of central Cerberex.

XI corps, recently deployed, was thrown into the defence of Rideau, counter-attacking furiously around the city. Taken somewhat by surprise by the ferocity of the counter-assault the Chaos attack was momentarily caught off balance and stalled, with both sides taking heavy casualties. Soon the area around the town was littered with the wreckage of tanks and armoured personell carriers.

By the end of 0108.007M42 it became apparent to General Von Rundstedt that the majority of the losses had been inflicted on XI corps by the Iron Warriors and the counter attack had failed. The aggressive tactics used had spent his mobile reserve and very soon reports came in that Rideau had fallen and the Iron Warriors were breaking out towards the north. It was only a matter of time before the defenders on the East bank of the Caeralon Sea became encircled.

Von Rundstedt's part in the Cerberex campaign was over. He was given a choice by the Commissariat, face a court martial or "resign" with honour. A single laspistol shot resounding around Imperial HQ indicated his decision to take the latter. Field Marshall Model, a veteran campaigner, took over the command of Army Group Centre and imediatley pulled back into a defensive formation, digging in where possible and abandonning the salient towards the Great South River. Now all hope rested on Model being able to halt the advances of the UFP and Chaos forces that seemed to have independently decided to finish off the Imperium first before turning on each other.

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