Sunday, December 12, 2010
Veers planned to end the campaign by smashing the chaos forces once and for all in the plains of mid-Bastien. To ensure the Claws of Lorek and their followers would dance to his tune, Veers assembled the largest force he had yet deployed on Bastien and drew up his battle plan. Veers planned to advance on a wide flank on the road to Damnation, the most vital remaining chaos stronghold. To lose it would mean certain defeat for the forces of chaos so Veers was sure he would be met by everything the traitors had.
The land between Meshuggah and Damnation was general open and rocky, with scattered settlements and scrubby woods. From 0812.010M42 to 0912.010M42 the Imperial Guard marched forward without meeting much in the way of resistance, and Veers began to worry that the Claws of Lorek were going to resort to guerilla warfare and a slow lingering defeat, rather than the decisive victory he needed. This all changed on the 11th, when the forces of chaos made their final stand half way to the city of Damnation.
The Claws of Lorek had decided to make their stand in a specific location, knowing without any doubt that Veers had been planning an all out attack. Lorek could not have missed the arrival of the Lamenters and Red Angels, nor could he have failed to notice the deployment of so many guardsmen and warhound titans. Sure of Veers tactics, Lorek had set up his own armies barring the road to Damnation. In addition he had arranged for his very own "doomsday device" to be brought into the fray.
The device was similar to the one used in the early phase of the campaign which had proved to be a complete failure, however the design had been improved, and now Lorek had a powerful new weapon with which to meet his enemy. Backed by over a million guardsmen including the Covenant of Damnation, Lorek managed to assemble his own marines as well as those of two lesser legions, plus the help of the daemonic allies of the Anticross. Lorek deployed the Covenant on his right flank, opposite a region of scrubby woodlands, while his own forces protected the centre. On the left flank his elite marines prepared to smash the Imperial forces who had retreated into a defensive compound, while the killing fields of the central plains would be crossed by the brave, and expendable forces of his lesser rivals.
Lord General Veers had a simple battleplan once contact had been made with the enemy. He immediately withdrew his right flank where there were defensible positions available, aiming to hold the flank with Red Angel and Lamenter forces. A violent and bloody contest would erupt here, but the marines had but one job, hold the line and prevent Veers' army from being outflanked.
In the centre Veers deployed his Imperial Guard infantry, the Librians and Praetorians, backed up by Leman Russ battle tanks, basilisks and the might of the Legio titanicus. Here he would push forward slowly, bombarding the chaos centre and taking ground in a "bite and hold" operation. The main thrust however would come from the west. Whole regiments of mechanised Cerberex Guard as well as the mechanised elements from Libria and Praetoria, were being assembled behind the lines for a massive mobile flanking manouvre through the scrubby forests and the now ruined settlement of Skaep. Supported by two super heavy baneblade tanks, Veers hoped that this thrust would smash the forces of Chaos and turn the rest of the campaign into a mopping up operation.
The battle raged for a week over the mid Plains of Bastien. After initial success destroying Lorek's lesser marine rivals, Veers' forces suffered a setback as the first armoured thrust in the west was anihilated by the shock appearance of the Anticross, their soulgrinders wreaking havoc in the Imperial lines and smashing the first attempt to turn the chaos flank. In the east the Red Angels were suffering and the Lamenters captain died ignnominiously fighting an Obliterator. For hours Veers became depressed and morose, convinced the battle was lost, but his generals urged him to remain determined. The second wave would break the Covenant of Damnation in Skaep and the Adeptus Astartes would not let him down.
His generals were right. By 1312.010M42 the chaos assault on the defences in the east was faltering. Despite the appearance of greater daemons the marines had held the line bravely, with the most battle honours going to the captain of the Red Angels who personally slew a Bloodthirster in hand to hand combat. Meanwhile accurate fire from the Imperial battle tanks and baneblades had destroyed many of the soulgrinders and chaos armour, and the second wave of tanks and troop carriers, supported by a praetorian baneblade were making inroads into Covenant forces in Skaep, picking through the ruins of their own failed first attack.
The Chaos Doomsday Device was more effective than in previous engagements, and took its fair share of casualties. However it was unable to stop the Legio Titanicus and the Warhound titan in the centre of the Imperial line marched forward, Librian and Praetorian infantry in tow. Having dealt with a feeble chaos counter attack the Librians and Praetorians in the centre now rushed to the aid of the embattled Space Marines in the east, and by 1512.010M42 the chaos forces had been broken on both flanks.
Lorek, bitterly disappointed, realised the game was up. The rest of 12.010M42 became a scramble to evacuate as many forces as possible from the planet. The elite chaos marines were generally rescued, while the chaos traitor guard units were left to their fate. Entire regiments fled to the mountains of Bastien, where they were obliterated by concentrated lance fire from orbitting Imperial warships. Bastien had been taken back from the enemy and now the work of the Ecclisiarchy began to turn the inhabitants of the planet back to the Emperor's light.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
The offensive began well, and the Khornate units defending Reaverton soon crumbled before the Caldon guns. Meanwhile Claws of Lorek forces defending Meshuggah soonfound themselves overwhelmed by the highly mechanised guard units from Cerberex, and on 0312.010M42 Veers received news that both cities had fallen to the Imperium. The Cerberex guard had even pushed north as required into the mid plains. Then came the inevitable counter attack.
The Khorne marines proved to be more ferocious and had more forces than anticipated, and soon the Cerberex Guard on the mid plains found themselves defending themselves against a furious counter attack. Unable to set up defensive positions in the harsh desert conditions they were forced to retreat, surrendering much of the territory they had gained. However as the Khornate forces approached Meshuggah Imperial resistance grew more determined, and by 0712.010M42 their counter offensive had stalled. Veers continued preparations for his main assault, scheduled for the following week. The Claws of Lorek however had also been husbanding resources and preparing a surprise for Veers' "final phase".
As 12.010M42 began the campaign on Bastien increased in intensity as both sides sought to achieve final victory. Both the forces of chaos and the Imperium wanted to finish off Bastien and turn their attention, at least temporarily, to the emergent Necron threat. Both sides launched major offensives in early 12.010M42, with the Imperium concentrating their forces in the south, while the Covenant of Damnation focussed all their attention on taking back Imperious, or Heretic, in the north.
The initial Chaos assault took the Imperium by surprise. The main forces of Veers' crusade, including the Librian regiments, were stationed outside the city, and only a company of Space Marines known as "the Watch", and some reserve forces now guarded the psychologically significant, though strategically now worthless ruins of the city.
The traitor guard attack was so ferocious that within a day the Covenant had surrounded the marines sheltering in the ruins, and quickly oevrwhelmed them. Veers, embarrassed once again by the loss of the city, immediately responded, sending the Librian Guard into the ruined streets. When the loyalist troops met the traitors, the battle was savage, but the largely infantry based Covenant forces suffered badly in the now mostly flattened settlement. Leman Russ tanks and veteran guardsman mounted in chimeras, supported by disciplined ranks of infantry, mowed down the traitor infantry in droves as they pressed home futile counter attacks. By 0412.010M42 the Imperium had retaken the city once more.
The Imperial hold on Nova Imperious remained precarious however, as late on 0612.010M42 Imperial forces including the Red Angels chapter of space marines were outflanked, and seriously beaten just to the north of the city. The Librians and other guard regiments now holding the city remained in a dangerously surrounded salient of Imperial control.
The Necrons didn't have it all their own way however, as a lightning raid by the Rillietan eldar damaged their installations on Cathasaea and possibly delayed the full employment of the Necron fleet. Why the eldar chose to attack the Necrons remained a mystery, although the Inquisition knew enough of the history of both species to understand the deep hatred which existed between them. The Eldar raid had bought all the other races some time, but nothing more. The Necron offensive was still gaining momentum. Huron advised Veers on 0712.010M42 that if the crusade on Bastien wasn't brought to a successful conclusion before the year ended, they may face a war on two fronts which they had little hope of winning. Veers disagreed, pointing out the Necrons had so far kept their attacks to Chaos worlds, but Huron warned that this would not continue indefinitely. In the meantime Huron began searching the Deeps for signs. Which worlds would the Necrons claim as their own?