Moonface’s four cruisers disappeared after forcing the Imperial fleet to disengage and the invasion of Bastien continued as 05.010M42 progressed. With the risk of attack from space still present Admiral Dreyer could not afford to abandon the continuing landings and urged General Veers to accelerate the campaign on the ground.
Veers now had most of his forces on the ground but even the lord general was astonished at how quickly events were progressing. Vaden had fallen quickly and Gehenna had been taken so swiftly there were hardly enough troops to garrison the hive. Further south the expected slaughter outside Bastien Primus had not occurred and Petraeus’s forces had simply swept all before them. Now Admiral Dreyer wanted them to go even faster...
The Imperial crusade was now well ahead of schedule and the forces of Chaos had proved to be far more disorganised, if just as numerous, as first thought. Now Petraeus was ordered to mount a blitzkrieg assault on Hades to take advantage of the awesome momentum the Imperium had built up.
To continue the advance with supply lines so stretched meant that Veers changed the drop zone for his last ten regiments. Instead of being deployed near Heretic, now renamed Imperius, the 100,000 Imperial guardsmen were landed outside Sanctum Nova, the new name of Bastien’s capital, leaving the eastern flank of the Imperial zone weakly defended by just four regiments, including the worst equipped – those of Grozny and Porphyria.
Veers new it was a risk but ignored the protestations of several under his command, arguing that the Chaos forces under Lorek would defend Hades to the last and try to stop the advance in the south. Lorek however had other ideas.
On 2205.010M42 the elite of the Anticross, supported by over half a million cultists, attacked the Imperial line in the north, supported by a host of summoned daemons. At first Veers believed it to be a diversion, but the ferocity of the assault soon convinced him otherwise. Crisis meetings were held in General Veers’ new HQ in Sanctum Nova as it seemed the Groznian 1503rd and Porphyrian regiments would soon buckle under the pressure, but just as Imperial high command began to make plans to call a halt to the advance on Bastien, news from the front began to arrive.
Outside the city of Imperius the Porphyrians and Groznians were working well together, with the better equipped armoured forces of the Porphyrians pouring long range fire into the daemonic host assembled outside the settlement, while the Groznians fought with admirable faith and zeal against the Anticross in the city itself. Backed up by the Adeptus Sororitas the Imperial Guard regiments refused to give ground, and the Porhyrians used their experiences on Tarsis Major to good effect, blasting apart the heretical hordes and cleansing the land outside the newly blessed city.
Veers meanwhile, greatly encouraged by the news from the north ordered a full assault on Hades, which was defended only by poorly equipped cultist followers. Mere days later Hades had fallen to Petraeus’s armoured divisions, and mopping up operations had begun. By 2705.010M42 the Chaos counter attack on Imperius had been smashed, with traitor casualties numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Capitalising on this the Porphyrians led the way in a counter attack of their own, breaching the defensive Damnation line and reaching the outskirts of the city by 3005.010M42 while the Groznians were withdrawn for rest and replenishment.
By the end of 05.010M42 even the most zealous of traitors was having doubts about the ability of the Chaos alliance of the Anticross and Claws of Lorek to defeat the Imperium alone. Without the help of others, of Tragean, Thok, Shaidar Haran and particularly the Catechism, Bastien would fall. The question before all was would Lorek swallow his pride, and would Moonface listen?