Friday, December 12, 2008
Bothorion had been fairly quiet for months, with the Eldar having ensured the Orks stayed away from their sacred sites and the Orks content to leave the Eldar in peace, given their numbers and the high cost of prosecuting a war on Tarsis Major. However on 0912.008M42 Warlord Nazghat returned, angry and determined, and ordered the Eldar to be removed from Bothorion so that the world could be geared up as a base of operations for the upcoming war in the Mabb Nebula.
The Orks were galvanised into action, and with Nazghat leading them a mighty Waagh! fell upon the sparsely defended Eldar positions. Surprised, the Eldar fell back but to their credit were able to respond with a meaningful counter attack late on 1012.008M42. However luck was with the newly enthused Orks and nothing the Eldar tried seemed to pay off, the Orks could not be stopped. Rather than continue the bloodbath the Eldar vanished via thier webway network, allowing Nazghat to begin construction on his new prize.
The Docks were defended by several companies of Adeptus Sororitas, who had prudently turned the entrance ways into mini fortresses, meaning that any attack would have to blast its way in. The Imperium hoped that the Docks were too unimportant to assault directly, but too valuable to destroy out of hand . So far this had proved true, as the Tau had not attempted to take possession of the Docks nor had they turned the big guns of their fleet upon it.
On 0312.008M42 the attack began, with scouts dropped on the facility followed by swarms of manta-borne crisis suits and skimmers. However access to the Docks would prove difficult as the Sisters of Battle refused to give any ground, and forced a battle in the near vacuum low gravity environment on the surface of the facility. Here the battle was deadly, as any breach in the suits worn by tau and human alike meant certain death. Infantry units found it difficult to maintain their footing and many tau vehicles were destroyed by small arms, the slightest breach causing catastrophic decompression.
Jellicoe immediately contacted Commodore Axtes, who commanded a substantial force of cruisers and whose battlegroup had been shadowing the Tau in the Tarsis system, wainting for an opportunity. Commanding from the bridge of the mars class heavy cruiser Illustrious, Axtes also had the dictator class Redoubtable and newly refit dauntless class Ajax under his command, along with an escort squadron. This powerful carrier force was now ordered to raid and destroy as much of the Tau fleet as possible, since the Tau heavy carrier Vigilence had taken heavy damage against Thok's fleet and was unavaiable.Axtes travelled immediately to the inner biosphere region where his forec quickly located a force of three Protectors and three escorts on an intercept course. Axtes slowed his fleet, launched a defensive fighter screen and engaged with Illustrious's Nova Cannon. Meanwhile the Tau began frantically launching waves of Mantas and torpedoes, while closing the range.
However in the ensuing engagement the Nova Cannon won the day. Excellent shooting from Illustrious first crippled one protector, then another, forcing the enemy fleet to disengage before they were even in range with their main weapons. Worse was to follow for the Tau as one of the Protectors, badly damaged, could not flee, and another precision shot from Illustrious blew her apart. Only Ajax suffered minor damage from torpedoes and manta waves, the fighters from Illustrious and Redoubtable doing their job protecting the big ships.
While on Tuva Chaos forces were retreating ate breakneck speed, and Maybourne was being liberated, the Catechism was concentrating on the Orks. Its best units were thrown against Nazghat's remaining forces, forcing the front line back towards the Ork landing zones. Then, at the appointed moment the daemons were released. The gibbering, capering monstrosities tore through the Ork lines before materialising amongst or even behind the greenskins' defences. In a very short period, less than a day, the Ork line, which had held strong for weeks against the best of the Catechism's troops, collpased catastrophically once they realised their leader and his best Nobz had "skarpered" to invade elsewhere.
By the end of 1212.008M42 the Orks had fallen back to their crashed Rok's which made up their landing zone, and were desperately trying to work out how to get off the planet!
Intercepted Ork “Press release”
“Following the cowardly withdrawal of Warlord Nazghat from Tarsis major, Warboss Snazzteef has declared himself Kaptain Snazzteef, Grand Bastard of Tarsis Mayja. Despite a succession of knockbacks in the fighting recently, Snazzteef remains
On 0511.008M42 General Cunningham launched his much expected major assault against Chaos forces on the southern tip of Tuva. With the recent arrival of strong Daemonhunters and Dark Angels units, Cunningham now felt he had the tools he needed to attack on a broad front, utilising the Dark Angels and other elite forces to crack the difficult nuts in the Chaos defence, while his own Guard forces would engage the weaker and less well equipped cultist legions.
The Catechism was off balance fighting Orks in the east, and the Night Lords had just recovered from the Tau attack on their base on Typhon, and significant resources had gone into their counter invasion of Rhesisus. Cunningham, Lord General Du Prez and the senior Commander of the Dark Angels all agreed that now was the ideal time to strike.
The Chaos forces on Tuva actually struck first, with Iron Warriors making progress on the north eastern end of the Barrier Mountains, before the major advance by Cunningham's army began. Then, as Guard units swept down to the sea, the Dark Angels encircled an entire Chaos army in Maybourne and wholesale slaughter began. The Daemonhunters too went straight for the city, intent on ridding it of the Chaos taint, and the two elite Imperial forces, their enemy surrounded them, hunted them like prey. By 1012.008M42 the defensive axis of Chaos on southern Tuva had been broken and the Imperial Guard had forced cultist forces back to the entrance to Sapphire Harbour.
Meanwhile in Maybourne the last elements of Chaos forces, both traitor marine and traitor guard units, had been annihilated. Then the ugly spectre of "cleansing" by the Inquisition began. Maybourne had been a city with a population of 10 million before the invasion, and the 4 million who had managed to survive the Chaos occupation soon wish they hadn't, as a further 2 million were executed at the merest suspicion of being tainted. Even so the Imperium hailed the offensive as a great victory and the bells of Tarsis Prime were rang for the first time since the invasion.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
With this in mind a fleet of Tau warships exited the warp near to the planet of Typhon on 1711.008M42 and made their way to the Night Lords' base. Upon landing however it seemed as if somehow the defenders were expecting the attack, and soon after Commanders Hawkeye and Ores Kais had landed their Cadres, the Night Lords seized the initiative, advancing immediately on the Tau at their landing zone. Very soon the Tau found themselves pinned down in their beachead, and the bold plan became unstuck.
After several days of fighting on Typhon the Night Lords launched their final murderous assault, causing horrific casualties in the Tau defenders. Hawkeye and Kais, unable to manouvre and surrounded realised their task had become hopeless and began to evacuate. Less than half those who had landed returned, though casualties had also been high amongst their enemy's troops.
Late on 2711.008M42, as the battered armies returned to Tau space they received a worrying transmission. Without their normal defending strength and with the fleet away. a Night Lords Strike cruiser had penetrated the defences around Rhesius. There were fewer than 30,000 Tau on the planet's newly constructed base, and these were all slaughtered in a matter of hours by the marauding Chaos Marines. Changing course for New Sparta Hawkeye knew this was a bitter blow to Tau aspirations in the Rim Worlds, on Tarsis, and in the wider sector.
Imperial intelligence realised that the Chaos forces, their eyes fixed on Merrin and the more dangerous Orks of Nazghat, had left weaker forces in the region of Maybourne. On 2711.008M42 a force of Daemonhunters spearheaded an assault into Chaos territory, brushing aside weak cultist forces and only meeting real resistance in the form of a company of Nurgle Marines. These were similarly destroyed, but at a higher cost. Even so the move brought Cunningham's army to the south coast once more and cut off the city for the second time since the invasion. Upon hearing the news Moonface knew he would have to sort the situation personally.
On 2911.008M42 the Catechism launched their attack. Towards Maybourne the assault was lead by the daemonic hordes the Catechism were now routinely summoning for battle, though for the second time their handlers lost control and much of the region descended into anarchy as the daemons feasted upon any soul they came across. Very little of eastern Maybourne was left by the end of the month.
Meanwhile Moonface's most trusted troops led the assault against the Librians defending the newly liberated territory further to the east of the city. The Guard units had been unable to dig in, but the Catechism still found the going tough as they were ambushed heading west. Several troop transports were immediately destroyed, forcing the Traitor marines to advance on foot into a withering hail of fire. Many veteran marines were cut down but eventually the genetically enhanced warriors reached the Imperial lines and ripped the guardsmen apart in ferocious hand to hand fighting.
Skirmished like this continued as Cunningham fought a bitter fighting withdrawal north west, making the Catechism pay in blood for every mile. By the end of 3011.008M42 the chaos forces had been halted before they had taken back all the recent gains.
On 2311.008M42 Snazteef's attacks were unceasing. For weeks now the Imperial Guard had tried in vain to slow his advance but now the Ultramarines waited patiently to make their move. Subordinate commanders in the Imperial Guard were not informed and the Librian 34th Regiment in particular took heavy casualties on the 27th as Snazteef's main force bludgeoned its way through their lines, led by unstoppable Mega Armoured Nobz.
However later on the same day the ultramarines found a gap in the widening Ork lines and, combining a frontal assault with an orbital drop, neatly cut the Orks supply lines and opened a gap over one hundred kilometres wide in the Ork front line.
Jamieson immediately ordered his armoured units, including the 17th Librian heavy tank division, to exploit the gap and hundreds of tanks rushed north before deviating east to cut off the Ork line of retreat. With no supplies and communications the Orks in the pocket began to lose their co-ordination, but still fought savagely. It would be many days before the pocket was mopped up but once it had the orks had been pushed right back to the Tuva Bay where they had landed.
The final nail in the coffin at Montgate came on 2711.008M42 when the final battle for the city began. The Catechism employed their elite Legions as well as summoning another horde of daemons to complete the destruction of Corchorans North Merrin Army.
The combined power of the Traitor Legions and their daemonic allies soon swept aside any lingering resistance from the shattered remnants of Corchoran's Librian, Zadocian and Tarsisian divisions, but the real fighting erupted as a large force of Daemonhunters, recently arrived having heard of the daemonic incursions on Merrin, engaged with the main force of the Catechism's strength.
Once engaged the second part of the Imperial plan came into play as once again the Ultramarines utilised their drop pod capability, arriving right at the heart of the action. As 2811.008M42 began ans the Catechsims' cultists prepared to move into the city proper, on the outskirts the violent battle between the Daemonhunters and the Catechism continued without pause. The Ultramarines were initially successful following their drop, but gradually the Traitor Legions and the daemonic horde began to gain the upper hand. Late on 3011.008M42, just minutes before the daemons faded back into the work, the Imperial resolve fell and the Catechism's troops managed to outflank the Imperial positions, forcing the Daemonhunters, minus several good men including an inquisitor, and the Ultramarines, similarly battered, to abandon the city of Montgate to its fate.
Thousands of Guard died and those that were captured quickly wished they had too.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Imperial files on the leadership of state that the company has always been under the command of Brother Captain Pravis Caedo. Pre-Heresy files are scant, as always, but what can be derived from these records suggests that Pravis was originally a Terran, drawn from the first innates into the original Legions. No further pre-heresy files exist and therefore any further information regarding his pre-heresy activities would be pure conjecture, although the lack of files may suggest he was not a high ranking member within the Legion.
During the Heresy it seems that he had risen to a notifiable rank; leading a sizable band of renegades from, the Legion. It would seem that he did not take part in the Siege of Terra, rather chose to rampage across Mars, presumably taking part in the slaughter of tech adepts and civilians across the planet. After the fall of Horus files suggest he followed the Legion into it’s genocidal rampage across the galaxy. The Port Maw atrocities can be attributed to his specific band of renegades, as there was no attempt to remove the data crystals after the incident. The surviving attendants on the station are reported to have developed serious psychological problems following the incident and had to be liquidated by the Inquisition pending further investigation into the reasons pertaining these changes to a humans mental psyche.
Files suggest that the polar ice caps incident on Jhanna was also attributed to Pravis Caedo. During the Age of Apostasy Lord Vandrie ordered orbital gun batteries to melt sections of the polar ice ring on his planet, resulting in the deaths of 4 billion people. Inquisition files claim that Vandries actions were under the influence of Caedo’s marines. Supposedly where Caedo acquired the name ’The Apostate’ after the ruling caste of Jhanna was found to be corrupted beyond redemtion. The planet was censed by the Ordo Hereticus after Imperial order had been restored. The **Department of Intelligence** has deemed that the intruding force in this case used this opportunity to incite a culture of free thinking into Vandrie before others were corrupted, then, as more of the ruling caste was brought on side, playing them off against each other to create an atmosphere of fear within the bureaucracy.
5th Company Night Lords Legion
How Caedo came to command an entire company of Renegades is unknown, although his exploits at Port Maw won him much, albeit unwanted, credit in the eyes of the Gods. The company itself lost it’s master in the age of apostasy, his cruiser crippled then boarded by dark angels while enroute to Rignat, near the Maelstorm in the Gates of Varl. After replenishing their umbers back to company size, by stealing gene seed from captured red corsairs and pacts with Bile, the 5th has been making it’s way slowly towards the Eastern fringe and reputably the largest contingent of Night Lords outside of the Eye. Currently the 5th has been involved in massacres in and around the Corinthe system, capturing a sizable force of imperial star ships by boarding action and long range lance exchanges, most notably the battleship Magistrate which has been sighted refitted for chaos use and now serves as the mobile base from which the company operates.
After the capture of the Magistrate Caedo was forced to initiate a larger number of non-marine adepts to crew the captured ships. These support sections usually form from the remnants of corrupted guard regiments or cruisers. Undoubtedly loyalist prisoners are also conscripted into service for much of the manual labour onboard these ships.
The 5th company was never stained by the murderers recruited from Nostramo Quintus to a significant extent and have kept to the original Night Lords tenants of Atheism and disdain from religion in general. Pravis Caedo also conforms to this standard and ruthlessly enforces this on his company and their attendants.
Friday, November 28, 2008
With Cunningham's elite forces now fully engaged in a bitter struggle, the Night Lords assaulted the southern defences, mostly Librian Guard regiments who were more concerned with the remaining Night lord garrison in Maybourne. Here the Librians were caught off guard, and at night the Traitor Marines were able to close to within a very short range of their enemy before attacking. The result was carnage. Between 2311.008M42 and 27.008M42 the Librian forces around the southern city were reduced by half, with two regiments losing their entire force of armoured vehicles. It was clear the Night Lords were attacking Imperial assets rather than attempting to hold ground, and this policy proved effective. By the 28th General Cunningham had ordered a withdrawal to the safety of the mountain defences and the forces of Chaos had successfully relieved their city of Maybourne.
Corchoran new he would be hard pressed to hold the Traitor Marines but was lucky enough to have the Captain of the Ultramarines 1st company on hand. The Ultramarines had arrived at the beginning of the crisis and had lent nearly half the chapter to the defence of Tarsis, since the planet lay on a direct route to Ultramar itself. With Corchoran's consent the Ultramarine captain agreed a moderately ambitious plan to use the Marine Strike cruiser to drop troops to the rear of the Catechism, catching them between the Adeptus Astartes and Corchoran's troops.
A violent firefight immediately erupted before devolving into a swirling close quarters melee. Loyal and traitor superhumans were loked in vicious hand to hand fighting so confused, that Corchoran's Guard units realised they could do nothing to help for fear of shelling their own side. Late on 2411.008M42 it became apparent that the Ultramarines had lost the brutal fight, and the Catechism were underway again. Seeing that the plan had come to nothing Corchoran began to retreat some 150 miles to the outskirts of Montgate, and prepared for a siege.
Worse was to follow. Overnight on the 27th Catechism troops were observed performing a strange and disturbing ritual to the south and west of the city. the next day more daemons than had previously been encountered assaulted and massacred the Imperial defenders. Space Marine forces were called in and held the creatures of the warp off for several hours but mounting casualties forced even the superhumans to retreat.
The resulting carnage only grew in intensity as the day wore on. This time, the Catechsim forces, due to take up positions in recently assaulted sectors, were unable to take their stations as marauding daemons rampaged entirely out of control. Suburban areas to the south-east of Montgate suffered appallingly and were set ablaze by uncontrolled energies. Walls melted and boiled and other aberrant obsceneties were observed taking place.
The Inquisition even considered ordering an exterminatus on the entire world, such was the depravity and unnatural wanton desctruction in the area.Fortunately the carnage only continued for one day and the daemons vanished. What they left behind this time however was no territory to be taken. The entire region of South East Montgate was gone, razed to the ground and rendered to a cloying stinking ash blowing in the wind. For the first time the full horror of a daemonic incursion had been witnessed and a new word passed into the lexicon of the people of Merrin. "Burnanated".
The Catechism arrived a few days after Elan Ro had got his troops into position. As ever the cultist troops arrived first, with light armoured and a few heavy armoured vehicles. Bearing the icon of Moonface, and broadcasting an incessant and insidious chant, the Chaos army advanced towards the Tau positions with a complete disregard for their safety.
When in range the Tau opened fire, causing massive casualties, but retreated before the forces of the Catechism could get fully engaged. Elan Ro was hoping this would prevent them from being trapped, like so many others, with a daemon horde materialising amongst them. However they could only retreat so far and after a few days of sporadic engagements the Tau were forced to give battle with the same predictable, awful conclusion. The sky was rent with the sound of tearing as the daemonic horde leapt fro the warp, massacring the Tau and allowing Catechism armoured units to exploit the breakthrough. Another section of Tau held Tarsis had fallen to Chaos.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The first step would be to significantly expand the Tau’s beachhead on Tarsis. Rather than drive the Tau’s limited forces against the elite Traitor Marines and their daemon allies the Tau would instead target the much softer Guard and Ork forces to the east. In this way the Tau could make significant gains in land without sustaining serious casualties, giving the Tau room to employ their traditional mobile approach to warfare, rather than be forced to stand and fight against the inexorable advance of chaos. The second step was already being prepared. A Tau fleet was assembling at Rhesius ready to strike at the Nightlords sector base at Typhon. Such a strike, if successful, would cut off the Night Lord’s supply route to Tarsis and give the Tau dominance in the Rim Worlds, allowing them to ship re-enforcements by a more direct route. The orbital docks at Tarsis were also earmarked as a priority target for a rapid strike. With these missions completed the Tau would find themselves in a much stronger strategic position to launch their own counter attack against the forces of Chaos.
Commander Star Fire was given the task of completing step one of the plan. Attacking at dawn two spearheads struck out to the east, one driving into the meandering and disorganised Ork hordes and the other into the lines of the Trebbian 9th, where intelligence indicated their were poorly supported with tanks and heavy equipment. In both areas the elite, mobile and well equipped Tau Cadres found opposition week. Employing the aggressive and stealthy tactics renowned of the Ksi‘m‘yen Sept the Tau struck from hiding, mowing down the enemy infantry with opportunist strikes by their Stealth Suites and Hammerhead formations and giving the enemy no chance to reply. The Tau quickly met all their pre-determined objectives and within the space of a single day the Tau all but annihilated the Ork presence on Merrin and claimed huge swathes of land from the Imperium. The Tau now had the breathing space they needed. Meanwhile the Tau invasion fleet had reached the edge of the Rhesius system and was preparing for its first warp jump…
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Despite the lack of an Imperial presence in the Rim and Shadow worlds, the Space marines, led by the Ultramarines were also needed to clear a Necron threat from an uninhabited system near the main Terra spacelane. In this they were also successful, which meant raw materials sent to the Librian Forges kept up with the demand for new tanks to fight on Tarsis Major.
Meanwhile, Nazgaht has personally intervened in the war in the south, joining his armies on Sartano. His appearance immediately led to the Orks' forst victory against Chaos, defeating a daemon host summoned by the hapless Catechism defenders, and allowed the Orks on the Island in the south to gain on the Night Lord stronghold of Sapphire harbour.
His generalship was also utilised in the west, where he destroyed two Imperial Gaurd regiments and forced a passage over the Satro mountains. Once across thousands of Imperial troops and countless more civilians were massacred with their backs to the sea as the green tide poured out of the passes.
Only the Dark Angels 6th company, stationed in the city of Southbourne, put a stop to the rot on Sartano, destroying several Ork camps on the Sarton plains and forcing the Orks back a hundred miles. It was a small reverse in what had otherwise been a very useful week for the Orks.
A true pupil of Shadowstrike the Tau commander's attack focussed on mobility, speed, surprise and envelopment, and the operation went almost perfectly. General Du Prez was woken on the 13th to learn that his commander in the north, Corchoran, was falling back to the city's defensive, to avoid having his army surrounded. Star Fire's planned flanking attacks went off like clockwork, and despite the loss of men and materiel, the operation was a complete success. The Tau even managed to partially surround the city on the eastern coastal side before a counter attack threatened.
Seeing the threat the Dark Angels moved in to cut off the narrow columns of advancing Catechism troops. Despite being heavily outnumbered the Space Marines were confident they could halt the advance and stabilise the front while more troops were moved from the front line against the Tau further east.
The Catechism were expecting the assault however and once again they unleashed a horde of daemons on the Dark Angels as they attacked their mortal forces. The daemons attacked in a frenzy and seemed strangely immune to the Dark Angel firepower. The Adeptus troops had no option but to withdraw, suffering horrendous casualties. Worse however was to face the inhabitants of the Horn Island peninsular, as the remaining loyalist forces crumbled as their supply lines were cut. On 1211.008M42 Horn Island itself fell, almost doubling the size of the Catechism's Empire on Merrin. And as before, the daemons disappeared having had their fill of mortal souls.
Meanwhile the front line against the Tau was not quiet. While the Dark Angels were massacred in the north and the west of the Island continent, crushed under the advancing Chaos forces, the Tau faced similar problems, forced back on a broad front as Chaos and Daemon forces assaulted the Tau defensive lines. By 1711.008M42 the Chaos army had driven a one hundred mile wedge into the Tau held territory.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Overall Command was headed by Lord General Du Pres, while each theatre of war was assigned a full general. Tuva Army Group North (TAGN) faced off against the Orks of Snazteef, while Tuva Army Group South (TAGS) faced the Night Lords near Maybourne. Sartano had one army group, Sartano Army Group(SAG) while Merrin's defence was split into Army Groups North and South(MAGN and MAGS). Additionally the Ultramarines landed two companied inearly 11.008M42 and the Blood Ravens and Blood Martyrs also headed the call for aid.
Against Chaos General Du Pres employed almost the same tactic initially.How many Night Lords could there be? How many traitors? Surely they too would succumb to the awesome and limitless forces of the Imperial Guard.
The only thing going for the Imperium in 11.008M42 was the fact that despite multiple enemy bridgeheads, they still controlled 80% of the planet,and their enemies' were fighting each other. The Imperium would once again have to prepare for the long haul only this time, unlike Melberg, Aleph 4and hartak before it, General Du Pres was hoping the Imperial forces on Tarsis Major would hold out.
Using his usual tactics which had served him so well on Taris Minor, Elan Ro at first advanced at dawn on 0111008M42 with his armoured skimming tanks. The Librian 88th were caught off guard by the sudden appearance of Tau in their lines and were initially ineffective in their return fire.
The battle developed at pace after the initial contact, with Elan Ro reading the situation in real time to throw in his reserves, many deepstriking from low flying Mantas, into the heart of the most critical fire fights.
General Cochrane, in charge in the North of Merrin, was less able to react as he tried to form a credible defence with Librian, Zadocian and Tarsis forces, however the Librians did put up a strong resistance. This resistance however was broken when the Librians began taking heavy casualties from Tau pulse weapon fire, which proved accurate and deadly.
One notable problem for the Librians was the stability of their plasma weaponry. Almost all the plasma guns in use widely by the 88th malfunctioned, incinerating their users and making the remaining special weapon carrying guardsmen less than confident in using them. The lack of plasma weaponry became decisive when Tau Devilfish and crisis suits were used en masse late on the 6th. Following a stand at Millner, a small but vital town on the crossroads to Montgate, the Imperial Guard forces were taking casualties at a rate of 4/1, high enough for Cochrane to order a general retreat to the defences of Montgate itself.
Elan Ro began preparing his attack on the city, while Shadowstrike moved his forces into position to cut of a large proportion of the Tarsis PDF in a pocket, trapping them between the Tau and the recently arrived Ork forces. The Orks were in fact pinning the Tarsis troops in place so they could not manoeuvre out of the trap. All was going to plan - then the daemons arrived.
In the south they attacked the Night Lords directly, dropping a company from orbit using drop pods, catching the Night Lords, commanded by Lord Raziel, rather by surprise. The fighting was bloody and at exceptional close quarters, with neither side willing to give an inch. Gradually however the ancient abilities of the Chaos Marines started to show and the Ultramarines began taking horrendous casualties. They began to withdraw,apparently attempting to disengage from the fight and escape. At that moment Raziel made a mistake.
keen to smite down the Emperor's finest the millenia old lord of the Night Lords let anger and resentment get the better of him, and his troops left their tactically sound positions to assault the apparently fleeing enemy.Shortly after, they were surrounded, as the Ultramarines gladly occupied the positions abandoned by the Night Lords while they were caught up in a hateful melee. Angered, and outplayed, Raziel withdrew, allowing Imperial forces to encircle the last defenders within the city of Maybourne.
To the west, General Corchoran's combined force, known as Merrin Army Group North (MAGN), comprised of Tarsis PDF, Cadian, Zadocian and Librian regiments. In contrast to the Tau defence the Imperial Guard had dug in strongly, constructing defences in a line just south of the Noroway hills.
The Catechism considered its options and decided on a double strike,attacking Tau and Imperial assets simultaneously. Moonface's generals were gambling, in his absence, that the new "toy" he had given them would prove most decisive. The devices Moonface had gifted his generals were in fact daemonic artefacts, forged in the warp itself and given to Moonface by an unknown greater Deamon of Tzeentch. Moonface had made a pact with the Daemon that if his forces merely agreed to attack and slaughter targets of his and his generals wishes, they would be able to assume a corporeal form for a temporary period. This the devices, acquired by Moonface over many long millenia, would make possible.
With the pact in place the forces of the Catechism first moved into Tau held territory, just north of New Southwick. The Tau immediately detected this attack and prepared a limited response. Though numerous the Chaos forces were ill equipped and not backed up by Marine Legions. Shadowstrike,unaware of the Daemonic pact, determined the greater threat still lay with the Imperium, and continued with his planned assault on Montgate to the north, providing only a limited number of Hunter Cadres to meet the Chaos threat.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
While part the Catechism landed on Merrin, another headed south and eastinto the Ork held territory on Sartano. Disturbingly the Catechism, for thefirst time on record, summoned a vast Daemonic Horde to aid them againstthe teeming Ork army, and the gamble paid off. Very soon the Daemonic host had swept through the Orks east of the Sartano Heights and drove a wedge into the Ork lines through the factorium district of upper North Side.Thousands of Orks were enveloped, trapped with their backs to the Sartano Sea as the Chaos forces pushed ever southward.
By 2710.008M42 it looked possible that the Ork presence on Sartano would be eliminated. Fighting on two fronts, with Imperial forces dug in towards Southbourne, the greenskins had nowhere to go, but Nazghat's forces, the elite of the ork Waagh! were on the Island in strength.
Nazghat soon put an end to the Ork rout, stiffening Ork resistance andhalting the retreat. Two days later the line had stabilised and it was theturn of Chaos forces to find themselves enveloped as the Catechism over-reached itself. By 3010.008M42 a less mobile, more stable front line had been established, running from the north coast to the south just west of the main factorium district. For now, the Orks on Sartano had survived.
On the night of 2610.008M42 the Catechism made their first move under the cover of an exceptionally dark and still night. On the morning of 2710.008M42, despite their sophisticated sensor equipment, the Tau found themselves under attack by Chaos forces which had landed during the night on the west coast of Merrin.
Furious battles erupted up and down the coast before the Tau could realise that the Chaos forces' objective was the Merrin mines, an area rich in natural resources and a major population centre. The Tau, caught off guard realised that if they defended their positions they would be slaughtered,and so were obliged to withdraw, leaving the Catechism the pride of Tarsis heavy industry and several million new slaves.
With lightning speed Elan Ro struck the Chaos and Ork bases simultaneously, surprising both armies. Small teams raided the Tau enemies at night while hunter cadres secured vital strongholds in the Ork and Chaos controlled areas. Then, they dug in.
This was an unusual tactical decision for the Tau who preferred not to fight on these terms, but while some Tau defended these vital assets from the Ork and Chaos forces, Elan Ro's fastest and best troops harried their enemies, never allowing them to mount a significant or overwhelming assault on his defensive positions. The result was devastating.
The Chaos troops on Tarsis Minor took heavy casualties before withdrawing,but at least twenty thousand Orks had to be killed, one by one, before the Tau could claim victory. Losses were high, but Elan Ro had taken on both the forces of Chaos and the hordes of the Orks, and successfully secured a vital off world base for the continued Tau invasion of Tarsis Major.
One large Rok however lost control, plunging into the sea just north of the Tuvan coast, sending an enormous wave which engulfed several towns on the coastal strip. Miraculously most of the Orks survived the impact and began swimming ashore. Very soon the East Tuva peninsular had fallen to the Orks and the mining complex of North Tuva had fallen. After the initial invasion the Imperial forces quickly dug in defensive lines against yet another enemy. Four powers now had to battle it out for control over the strategic heart of the Zadoc subsector.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The arrival of the Orks was something of a surprise to the Tau, for although they had participated in the recent fleet action, the Tau command had thought this to be a one off. Even when the Orks appeared on Tarsis Minor, Tau intelligence suggested that it may be the remnants of Ork crews from hulked or crippled warships, seeking a refuge once their ships had been destroyed.
Following defeat to the Orks the Tau knew they needed to re-take the initiative and launched a series of raids against Chaos forces still on the planet. Several were successful, if bloody, and the Death Guard elements in particular suffered heavy casualties. The Tau under Elan Ro had resecured their bases on Tarsis Minor by 1810.008M42, though they could not yet claim to have control over the whole world.
Commanding the forces on the continent of Tuva was General Cunningham, a veteran of the Librian campaign and still in favour with the high command, despite the surrender of forces there. His experience against the Tau had put him in good stead for the coming battle and follwing the initial invasion he had dug in his troops in the hills and mountains of the border heights.
Knowing Raziel was likely distracted with other events, Cunningham decided to go on the offensive and attacked the mostly infantry based forces around Maybourne. Cunningham used his Leman Russ and recently acquired Manticore artillery vehicles to good effect, and the veterans of Melberg found that while the Chaos Marines were a stubborn foe, their firepower proved effective against them. Lacking armoured transports the battle became one of attrition, one the Night Lords realised they could not afford.
The Imperial civilised world of Tarsis Major, with its population of 3.7 billion, is the key to the entire sector. It sits on the only navigable route from Libria and Zadoc to the Hub systems and Terra itself. Throughout the centuries it has been invaded twice, once being totally overrun by Orks, but in the main the planet has grown rich and a little decadent, profiting on rich trading from Terra to the outlying systems.
Since 006M42 its fortunes had declined somewhat, following the loss of the Aleph subsector, but trade between Zadoc, Libria and Terra had for the most part kept the planet content. However in 008M42 it became clear its invasion by at least one of the Imperium’s enemies was imminent, and it began arming for war.
The forces of Chaos were first to consider invading the planet. Gains in the Shadow Worlds and the Rim Worlds had been encouraging, but both the Catechism and the Night Lords wanted more, something grander, and their bases on Typhon and Priam meant the supply distances, prohibitive in previous years, were now short enough to make the invasion possible. In addition, the distance was short enough for the full scale use of the Catechism’s newly completed “Device”.
As it became abundantly clear that Chaos forces were about to invade Tarsis, the Tau considered their options. Tarsis lay on the only navigable route from their holds in the Perseus Deeps and Melberg, to the rich pickings of the Imperium hubward. Further expansion required, at some point, the pacification, conversion or invasion of Tarsis Major, but the Tau had hoped this would be some time away. Many were unwilling to commit to another full scale invasion so soon after Melberg.
The invasion by Chaos changed things. If Tarsis fell to Chaos the planet would become a corrupted fortress, of little material worth but still strategically vital to Tau expansion. Several Water Caste members were dispatched to the system to negotiate an alliance to prevent the Imperial world falling to Chaos, but the Imperial agents saw through their diplomacy and they were all killed out of hand by the Inquisition.
Despite their concerns the Ethereals gave their blessings to a new invasion. If they struck now while the forces of Chaos and the Emperor were fighting each other, they would get a foothold on the planet at the very least, while the system was vulnerable. In addition if their foolish human enemies fought among themselves they would be less able to deal with a Tau invasion. Satisfied that this was the best time to strike, the Tau prepared once again for full scale war.
The Orks were the last to join the party. Warlord Nazghat had no intention of invading Tarsis, hoping the distraction of a three way war would enable his conquests of Zadoc and other nearby worlds to go more smoothly. Unfortunately Orks don’t always think strategically. While Nazghat was blessed with a superior Orky sense of strategy, his sub commanders weren’t and even went so far as to accuse Nazghat of cowardice when he declined to invade Tarsis major.
Many Orks saw the upcoming battle as too good to miss, with Tau, Imperial and Chaos fighting forces in abundance to test themselves against. Reluctantly, realising that to split his forces would be to invite disaster, he agreed to invade the system. It was just as well, as several Ork warbosses had already teleported aboard their ramshackle “invayzhon” barges and disappeared in the general direction of Tarsis…
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Two weeks later the Tau arrived, They landed despite heavy anti-aircraft fire from the Imperial defenders, who had learnt from the invasion by Chaos. This invasion however involved far more enmy troops, and the hunter cadres quickly knocked out planetary defences from orbit before landing close to a million fire warriors in just two days. Against this overwhelming local superiority the Imperial defenders had little choice but to allow the Tau to land, this time on the northern part of Merrin, from where the Tau broke out and encircled Southwick, which was abandoned by sea by its defenders.
By 1410.008M42 the Tau landing had also ground to a halt, though both they and the Chaos invaders had established stron bridgeheads. While some in the Water caste feared a repeat of the Melberg attrition, the leaders of the Fire Caste, with superiority in space, were confident they could take the planet within 3 months, so long as the Chaos forces were unable to resupply. This would be an unfortunate miscalculation. Little did they or the Imperium know that the Chaos forces didn’t need reinforcement from space at all…
The Tau arrived in the Tarsis system in early 10.008M42, finding the Imperial fleet absent, but space far from empty. The cat and mouse game between the three fleets developed in the coming days as the Tau fleet moved ever closer to Tarsis Major.
Jellicoe’s Imperial fleet, fearful of a reappearance of the damaged, but not vanquished Chaos fleet of Admiral Thok, merely shadowed the Tau after getting into position. Occasionally the Tau would send a flotilla of escorts to the rear, and each time the squadron of sword class frigates would flee, before returning to their picketing position to the rear of the Tau.
The Chaos fleet, outnumbered near the planet of Tarsis itself, and without the support of Thok’s massive battlegroup, knew the Tau posed a real threat. The Night Lord’s battlebarge was busy in high orbit, supporting the initial landings on the world, leaving just four Chaos cruisers and a marine strike cruiser to face a far larger Tau force. They decided to call in a favour.
In return for their help on Coronus the Orks had agreed to help the Chaos forces once, as payback. Lord Raziel called in his debt. As the Tau fleet approached an enormous and haphazard energy signature appeared ahead of them, in the shape of an Ork battleship, two cruisers and a host of smaller Ork craft. Further back the four Chaos cruisers lurked, near a rogue planet which orbited Tarsis’ sun in a highly eccentric manner.
The Orks attacked at once, leaving the Chaos cruisers behind. This was not to Lord Raziel’s dislike however as he intended the Orks to take the brunt of the Tau firepower, while he outlflanked the Tau with his Chaos cruisers.
However, the admiral of the Tau fleet, Swiftstar, aided by an enigmatic character acting on behalf of Shadowstrike, was not going to fall for this trick. After skilfully reforming his fleet, Swiftstar slowed, forming up into his defensive “box” formation. The Ork fleet, outnumbered, took terrible punishment and it wasn’t long before they were in real trouble. After dealing with the Orks with massed bomber waves from the Tau Custodian carrier, Swiftstar, despite casting a pessimistic view on the battle, was about to complete a rout.
With the Ork vessels burning and out of control, and with a single merchant class cruiser tying up the only Nigh Lord vessel present, the Tau formed into a crescent, presenting their massive forward firepower towards the now unsupported Chaos fleet. After seeing Defiance crippled and the cruiser Kraken explode, the Chaos admiral disengaged, signalling the Tau fleet had broken through with the loss of just one cruiser crippled.
Raziel, irritated, withdrew his battlebarge in the face of the Tau superiority, but reflected on mixed fortunes. Despite losing two cruisers out of action or destroyed, the Ork fleet had been reduced, and in his service. The Tau would be able to land, but Raziel believed that the delay in their arrival had allowed him to gain a vital foothold on Tarsis, and though the fighting was heavy, he was sure he could defeat the Tau, and the Imperium, on the ground.
Merchant class cruiser crippled
3 escorts destroyed
Cruiser Kraken exploded
Cruiser Defiance crippled
2 Ork Kroozers hulked
6 escorts destroyed
The hunter cadres of Elan Ro’s advance guard arrived by stealth on 0610.008M42 and consolidated their hold over the next few days. However the Tau fleet soon detected a Chaos Marine battle barge in orbit and fled, warning Elan Ro to expect imminent attack. The Chaos assault duly arrived but the Chaos Marines seriously underestimated the strength and ability of Elan Ro’s troops, and the Traitor forces were forced to flee.
The success was short lived however as a battlebarge arrived some two days later, once again forcing the Tau task force in space to run and hide, shielded by their new advanced stealth technology. The Tau were soon assaulted by elite Chaos troops, though the night lords were conspicuous by their absence. Even so the allied Chaos force drove the Tau from the field and established a foothold on the planet. Abandonned by the Imperium as too distant to protect, the world of Tarsis Minor now became contested by Tau and Chaos forces.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
The assault was easier than even Hawkeye could have hoped. Badly led and badly trained, the Guard units' resistance was pitiful, and despite some pockets of stiffer resistance the Imperium gave up their hold on the planet with relatively little bloodshed. Realising the Imperial commanders were attempting to flee in their transport vessels, Hawkeye allowed them to go, preferring to consolidate the Tau hold without needless killing on both sides. Aornis became another in a growing haul of Tau conquests - connecting the recently won Rim world bases with those in the Perseus Deeps
Meanwhile on Memnon the Eldar launched a furious assault on the Chaos forces still garrisoned there. Having left to plan the invasion of Tarsis Major, the Night Lords were not present when the Eldar fell upon a mix of legion troops and Chaos cultist, wiping the Chaos taint from the soil of Memnon.
Elsewehere in the Shadow worlds the Chaos forced left there to maintain their hold in the Mabb nebula found themselves beset by a renewed Necron threat. The resurgent automatons also awakened on Bothorion, slaughtering an Ork encampment they happened upon. Concern grew in a number of camps at the sudden reappearance of this capricious foe.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Jellicoe had mustered eight capital ships at Tarsis, including his flagship, Vanguard, and the Apocalypse class battleship Agamemnon. The admiral was unaware of how many ships Thok and Traegan could or would throw against him, but he hoped the significant presence of the Imperial Navy would deter a full scale Chaos invasion, and it was certainly enough to deal with the Tau.
The news that astropaths had detected eleven Chaos capital ships inbound for Tarsis major came as something of a shock on 0809.008M42. Apparently Imperial intelligence was for once correct, and the forces of Chaos had far more ships available to them than the Imperial Navy had ever thought possible. Despite their recent losses the traitors were still able to outnumber the Imperial vessels by almost 3-2. Never-the-less Jellicoe immediately set off on an intercept course.
Vanguard - Retribution Class Battleship
Agamemnon - Apocalypse Class Battleship
Illustrious - Mars Class Battlecruiser
Redoubtable - Dictator Class Cruiser
Indomitable - Gothic Class Cruiser
Conquerer - Lunar Class Cruiser
Ajax - Dauntless Class Light Cruiser
Achilles - Dauntless Class Light Cruiser
Mutable Transfiguration - Despoiler Class Battleship
Mjolnir - Despoiler Class Battleship
Ragnarok - Blasphemer Class Fast Battleship
Fafnir - Hades Class Heavy Cruiser
Skoll - Slaughter Class Cruiser
Doombringer - Slaughter Class Cruiser
Unbridled Depravity - Devastation Class Cruiser
Doomblade - Hades Class heavy Cruiser
Reaver - Slaughter Class Cruiser
Queen Hel - Carnage Class Cruiser
Wanton Ruination - Murder Class Cruiser
As the two fleets closed in the outer reaches of the Tarsis system the Chaos fleet organised itself into three divisions while the Imperial Admiral kept his fleet closely packed for mutual support. A battleship led each division with Mutable Transfiguration closing head on with Jellicoe's fleet, while Ragarok and Mjolnir approached from the starboard beam and from starboard respectively. At 20:52 local time the battle of Tarsis Major began.
The first shots were ineffective at extreme range, as Mjolnir's division of long range gunboats opened fire at Vanguard, the most exposed Imperial battleship in the port wing of the fleet. Almost immediately however Agamemnon claimed the battle's first casualty as Doombringer took a direct hit from her Nova Cannon at 21:02. The Hades class cruiser immediately suffered internal fires and power blackouts and was forced to disengage.
The Chaos fleet responded swiftly, with accurate fire from Mjolnir's long range division quickly bracketing Vanguard. The Imperial flagship fired back and did minor damage, but could not whether the storm of three cruisers and a Despoiler class battleship which were closing fast. By 21:19 the ship was almost a wreck, her port batteries disabled and fires consuming her inner structures. Reluctantly Jellicoe formally handed command of the fleet to Agamemnon and disengaged his crippled vessel.
The Imperial fleet, now led by Agamemnon, headed straight for the closest enemy division, intending to apply maximum force to one division before dealing with the others. Their course inevitably meant that Ragnarok and her consorts were to distant to aid the Mutable Transfiguration and her cruisers, while the Mjolnir and attendant capital ships would have to turn in a wide arc to catch the Imperial fleet, now moving away on their starboard bow.
The tactics of the Imperial fleet meant that Mutable Transfiguration, Fafnir and Skoll now faced the entire Imperial battle line. The Despoiler was quickly crippled by concentrated fire from the Dauntless light cruisers and Agamemnon's awesome lance batteries, and heeled off to port making smoke. Fafnir and Skoll faired little better and both were severely damaged in the next few minutes. Mutable Transfiguration disengaged at 21:32, and Fafnir at 22:18, after having been bombed mercilessly by starhawks from Illustrious and Redoubtable.
Skoll suffered a worse fate. The closest ship to the Imperial fleet, which had now swung round 90 degrees to starboard to form a battle line - the Ragnarok and escorts approaching from the bow and Mjolnir and consorts from the starboard beam, Skoll was caught by the full firepower of the Imperial fleet. Unable to disengage, her prow burning brightly, successive ships used her as target practice before the drifting hulk floated out of control out of range.
At 22:20 the Imperial fleet was winning. Four Chaos vessels had been crippled, including a battleship, and one had been destroyed, with only Vanguard taking significant damage. However all this changed at 22:26. By now the Dauntless class light cruisers Ajax and Achilles, formerly in the right wing of the formation, had reached the head of the Imperial battle line, with the heavier cruisers further back and Agamemnon now in the rear. All of a sudden the two light cruisers faced the brunt of Ragnarok and her squadron, while Mjolnir and her long range battlegroup were now abeam and in range.
A colossal firestorm soon raged around the two least protected Imperial ships, but it was Queen Hel who delivered the fateful blow. Her gun batteries scored an impressive set of hits along the spine of Ajax and almost immediately the ship went dark and drifted to port. In one shot the light cruiser had been reduced to a dark and lifeless hulk. Achilles fared no better. Despite using her engines to weave furiously, she was no match for the Blasphemer class battleship Ragnarok at close range, and her unequal duel ended when Ragnarok's heavy guns split her open from prow to stern, Venting plasma and burning brightly Achilles was sent spinning into an asteroid belt.
Seeing that the Chaos fleet had now formed into a coherent battle line the captain of Agamemnon decided to call it a day. Outnumbered and outgunned the commander of the Apocalypse class vessel order his ships to "battle turn away in turn". This they did, turning 90 degrees to port and disengaging. Agamemnon was the last to disengage, using her long range lances once more to pound the Chaos vessels. This time the victim was Queen Hel who was swiftly crippled, her starboard quarter reduced to a mangled mess. Revenge for the Ajax.
And so at 22:45 the battle ended. Both sides searched for survivors with their escort vessels. Both sides' ships, though heavily damaged were able to rendezvous with each other and effect repairs, though Vanguard had to be taken in tow on her journey back to Tarsis Major. The damage also meant the trip would take more than a week. The Chaos fleet meanwhile made for the jump point, leading Jellicoe to believe the battle was a victory. In fact, it was hard to work out what it was, and for who.
The wreck of Skoll was discovered by the Imperium as was the surprisingly intact Achilles. Ajax however was nowhere to be found. After the battle analysts took stock. The Chaos fleet had forced the Imperials to disengage, but overall, despite the damage to Vanguard and the loss of two light cruisers the destruction to the Chaos fleet was more costly, and inflicted by the smaller fleet. Even more strange the Chaos had not pressed their advantage, nor had Jellicoe or any other commander found evidence of an invasion force. Which prompted the question; why had the battle been fought at all?
Jellicoe would find out two days later as his damaged vessels limped back to Tarsis spaceport. While his fleet had faced off against the might of Thok and Tragean, the Night Lords, along with tens of thousands of cultists, had slipped past the battle fleet and arrived in orbit over the planet. One battlebarge and two strike cruisers had been more than enough. The Marines had led the charge and established a foothold on the planet. By the time his fastest ships reached Tarsis the landing would be complete and the beachhead established. The largest diversionary fleet action in history had succeeded.