Friday, February 27, 2009
Eager to capitalise on this confidence General Saladin approached Lord General Du Prez with a plan to open a "second front" against Chaos. Du Prez analysed the plan and approved it. It called for a seaborne invasion of Merrin with fifteen of Saladin's thirty Porphyrian regiments, with support from the Tarsis PDF and Navy. On 1902.009M42 some 300,000 men and their equipment embarked from Sapphire Harbour in over two hundred vessels of all sizes, troopships, gigantic gun boats, missile cruisers and smaller escort vessels.
Two days later the fleet had crossed the Merrin Strait and excecuted a perfect amphibious landing. Secrecy had been maintained thanks to air patrols over the sea and superiority in space, and the Chaos forces were only able to mount a counter attack some hours after the Porphyrians had landed. By then it was too late. The overwhelming numbers and firepower of the Imperial Guard caused devastation in the Chaos defenders, and more than two companies of ancient and irreplacable Iron Warriors were wiped out in the assault. Beaten, the forces of Chaos had to yield the Merrin mines and retreat north. By the end of 2602.009M42 the Imperial landing had been consolidated and Saladin's Porphyrians were in sight of the Mertock mountains some 200 miles north of their landing zone.
General Du Prez was extremely pleased with the operation, which saw Saladin awarded the Crux Imperialis for his troops' victories over Chaos. In addition the Tau, also exceptionallyy pleased at the second front opened against Chaos, sent a bouquet of flowers to the Porphyrian general, which were immediately burned by the regimental Commissar!
During mid 02.009M42 ferocious air battles and dogfights were a common sight near the front lines, and even a Blood Martyrs Thunderhawk came under attack from the Orks. However, the escorting Lightnings and Thunderbolts usually obliterated the Ork craft before they could do much damage. The Orks showed a lack of experience, naive tactics and, most of all, terrible aim. By the end of 02.009M42 hundreds of Ork aircraft had been shot down and the sporadic air attacks died out. The Imperium was unsure whether this meant that the Ork air waagh! had been defeated or the Orks were massing for an all out attack.
First he needed a base - a world which was not under the control of one of Nazghat's lackeys. One such world was Memnon. Here the Orks were disorganised after repeated fights with Chaos, but with the arrival of Da Verminator the greenskins on the small world were galvanised with a new purpose. With fresh reinforcements and plenty of looted equipment the new Waagh broke the Chaos defences and forced them out of their base. Most of the Traitor Marines left while those loyal to Chaos and unable to leave fled for the barren hills of Memnon. Now Da Verminator had a base, a world of his own, from which to launch the next phase of his plan.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Fastblade's fast moving, highly mechanised forces quickly began encircling portions of the Imperial front line, but gradually their pace slowed as the Porphyrians put up a dogged defence to the west of the River Mer. The Porphyrians had realised that with the Tau destroying the few bridges across the wide river by air, if they lost the vital supply centre around the Merrin Mines, they would be cut off and isolated.
The pace of Fastblade's attack slowed, but the Tau pressure never relented, and they methodically pursued their objectives. By 1802.009M42, despite a gritty defence, the Porphyrians had their backs to the river and had run out of fuel and ammunition. Several thousand had to surrender, while a few managed to escape by swimming the river. By 2102.009M42 all territory east of the river Mer was in the hands of the Tau.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The effect was immediate. Soon Elan Ro's forces were fighting a life or death battle at the base as the Catechism's highly mechanised forces tore into them. By 1802.009M42 Ro realised the game was up and removed his force from the base, leaving it in the hands of the Catechism once again.
The cruisers Conquerer and Redoubtable, escorting the convoy, soon went into action against the Ork raiders, which consisted of a number of small escort vessels and a large Ork Kroozer. By the end of the engagement the Imperial vessels had destroyed about a dozen small ork escorts, and the Kroozer, for the loss of two Firestorm frigates and four of the eight transports. Conquerer took heavy damage in the engagement.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Orks landed with enthusiasm on 0702.009M42, with the Eldar taken totally by surprise. They tried to affect a counter attack but by the time they had marshalled sufficient force, the Orks were too many in number to remove with the forces available to them. Reluctantly the Kel Sandros Eldar on Memnon withdrew, ending their immediate hopes of securing the planet and hiding the Maiden worlds. It was a bitter blow.
The Chaos strategic position deteriorated markedly in 02.009M42 as did their hopes of a quick victory on Tarsis Major. While the Catechism were waiting for the snow to clear in the north and huge set piece battles raged in the south, the forces of Chaos found their supply chains under threat.
Thanks to the Imperial victory over the Night Lords’ fleet, and the non appearance of Admiral Thok in several months, the Imperial and Tau fleets were able, for the most part, to protect their supply routes and waystations from alien or pirate attack, and the raiders knew it. They went for softer targets.
Both the Tyranids and Orks attacked Chaos holdings in the Rim worlds and the Shadow worlds in 01.009M42 and 02.009M42, with the Tyranids ravaging Typhon and Tyndareous coming under attack from Ork raiders. Caught off guard and defended by some of the Chaos forces’ least battle ready troops, they suffered badly. Typhon was razed to the ground, though the alien menace moved on, and Tyndareous was unusable as a base for several weeks.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
In addition Raziel had massed several regiments of rebel Guard, and more than a legion of traitor marines, all aligned to the Night Lords’ banner. Now Raziel planned to use this force to strike east and south, annihilating the Imperial defenders and clearing the second front the southern theatre was facing.
On 0602.009M42 the expected attacked began, the Ork horde pouring out in front of regiments of well ordered Traitor Marines. The pace of the advance, led by Gargants and Chaos titans was swift, as Raziel knew the Ultramarines had landed at Southbourne a week previously.
The Ultramarines had left, moving the bulk of their forces by Thunderhawk to Southbourne, as they perceived that the next Chaos attack would come towards the main city on Sartano. Obviously the forces of Chaos had realised fighting on two fronts was a bad plan.
This left Cunningham with precious few resources. Most of the PDF armies were ill equipped for an organised attack and the Librian Guard units were still re-equipping after painful attritional battles. The only force available were the relatively inexperienced Trebbians, several regiments of which had recently arrived with the Porphyrians.
The Trebbians had a bad record, and Cunningham knew it. Hoping that surprise would win out however he ordered the Guard into battle. Amazingly lightning managed to strike twice and the Chaos forces were in total disarray when the Trebbian units landed on the west of Sartano. They then made rapid progress, breaking through in the south and driving the rebel forces back towards their base in central Sartano. Briefly the Chaos position in the south looked perilous. Then came the main Chaos attack...
Cunningham was not stupid however, rather he was a ruthless General who’s cold mind analysed every tactical situation and worked out the best possible result, even if that meant wholesale slaughter. On Melberg he had been the cheif proponent of the attritional strategy which almost bore fruit, even though it cost the lives of nearly one million Guardsmen.
Cunningham had been ordered by Du Prez to attack Sapphire Harbour, a strategically vital objective which the Chaos forces had occupied since the first day of the invasion. Cunningham considered this a foolish attack with little hope of success. After all the base was on an Island and heavily defended. With this in mind he ordered the Porphyrians to attack it. If they were massacred to a man, no great loss.
It was late on 0702.009M42 that Imperial intelligence became aware of something quite astonishing. The Chaos forces guarding the base had clearly not considered such a bold attack reasonable, certainly not by Imperial Guard forces, and their defences were not as strong as first thought. In addition the Porphyrians attacked on a broad front with skill and determination, which stetched the Iron Warrior defenders to the limit.
By 0902.009M42 the Iron Warriors had taken severe casualties to the heavy weaponry of the Porphyrian Guard, and they abandoned the Harbour, much to the disgust of Raziel and his Night Lords. The Porphyrians however were jubilant, and the Imperial high command, ever quick to capitalise on the psychology of success, allowed the bells to be rung up and down the continent of Tuva in honour of their newest heros, the Porphyrians... Cunningham of course, was quick to take the credit...
Aided by their accurate mortar fire, the Praetorians quickly gained the Orks’ respect, and Nazghat was infuriated by his troops lack of progress. While the Praetorian’s continued to hold out the Administratum organised the evacuation like clockwork. Even the Praetorian withdrawal was a masterpiece of tactical planning.
Despite this, Fort Aerin fell on 0902.009M42 and Nazghat added another planet to his growing Empire. Immediately he dispatched a force to Keprok, informing the local Orks they were now part of Waagh! Nazghat, while another, larger force was sent hubward, deep into the Mabb Nebula to conquer the remaining Shadow Worlds.
While most of the sector’s attention was focussed on Tarsis Major, the Ork Warlord Nazghat continued to pursue his campaign in the Mabb Nebula. The commander of Fort Aerin received reinforcements in early 01.009M42, with a Porphyrian and a Praetorian regiment bolstering the defences.
However the Porphyrians were inexperienced and had never fought Orks before. Nazghat’s veteran troops smashed into the front lines, causing chaos in the Porphyrian lines, and massacring over half of the regiment’s troops. The formation was quickly pulled out of the line and replaced with the tougher Praetorian Guard.
By now the Imperium realised that holding onto fort Aerin would be practically impossible. All they could do was hope the Praetorians could hold the line long enough for an evacuation to be effected.
The move seemed unwise soon after, as on 1601.009M42 the Orks launched their latest offensive. Taken by surprise the Porphyrians were massacred, losing nearly a third of their number before retreating some one hundred miles. Between 1801.009M42 and 0802.009M42 Snazteef’s Orks managed another good push, defeating the Porphyrians once again, before the Imperial commander ordered his forces behind their defences, and the Ork advance was halted. Snazteef’s goading remarks, accusing the Imperium of “Kowardiss”, had no effect.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
The plan had initially been to attack in the north, towards East Plainbrook, but Shadowstrike learned that to the south the Imperium had brought in new, fresh reinforcements, the Porphyrians. Analysis proved the Tau had never faced the Porphyrians and Shadowstrike would use this to his advantage.
The Porphyrians were warned of the Tau’s rapid and mobile battle tactics, but they had little chance to absorb the new information, for just 48 hours after their deployment to the Merrin front, the Tau attacked. Shadowstrike struck with perfect timing and the Tau soldiers carried out their orders with amazing precision. Using the river Fuller to prevent the Librians and Tarsis PDF from interfering the Tau subjected the Porphyrians to a devastating “left hook”.
The flank attack forced the Porphyrian commander, who’s units were fighting valiantly, if in vain, to order a general withdrawal. Even so the Porphyrians lost some 5,000 troops and a further 15,000 captured as Shadowstrike’s first advance of 009M42 forced the Imperium back some 500 miles in just ten days.
The Space Marines hoped that the sudden appearance of a reaver and a warhound titan would stall the Chaos advance, but to their horror the Chaos forces unleashed their own monstrous perversion of a warlord titan in response, while deep striking traitor Terminators destroyed the warhound titan and forced the rest of the Imperial forces into a slow and bloody retreat.
It was the first Chaos victory for several months in the south, and the two Chaos sectors on Tuva and Sartano were now once again joined up. General Cunningham was disappointed, while Lord Raziel of the Night Lords was desparate for a victory of his own before Moonface took over command on the southern fronts. Raziel hated Moonface and his allies, but to maintain his independence Raziel needed to prove the Night Lords and those loyal to him were a force worthy of respect. Early 009M42 saw the first steps of this revival.
The base was strategically important, as while the Chaos forces were not using it to resupply, they were using its defence lasers to put off the Tau from reinforcing the planet except from the far side. This cost them time and effort. Elan Ro would take the base, allowing their convoys to approach from any angle, allowing them to slip past roving Imperial and Chaos raiders far more easily.
Elan Ro’s troops arrived in stealth and in small numbers. Furious firefights in the cramped corridors of the vast facility followed, sporadic small actions taking place all over the installation. After gaining a bridgehead near the main landing pad however, Elan Ro found himself besieged and unable to make further progress. He appealed to the Tau high command for further forces but with cold logic, the ethereal judged that his invasion force had effectively put the base out of action for the time being, and taking the base was not a priority. The fighting for Peraph would go on.