Monday, May 16, 2011
The second invasion of Parthenope began on 1105.011M42 and was much stronger than the first. The strike force included five Librian Guard regiments, two companies of Grey Knights Astartes and a company of Space Wolves. Veers still had total superiority in space and used this to good effect, and the entire Imperial Guard force landed without incident in the southern steppes, just to the east of Cradossi.
The Space Wolves landed with the Guard, intending to act as a mobile reserve should the task force encounter any surprises, while the Librian regiments quickly took Cradossi. The Grey Knights meanwhile assaulted Centosar, a city believed to be the centre of daemon worship on the planet, but they got more than they bargained for.
Imperial intelligence had noted several units of Anticross and Claws of Lorek Traitor Legions on the planet, as well as large formations of traitor guard, most notably those of the Covenant of Damnation. However the Grey Knights soon found out that Imperial Intelligence had completely missed the strong Shadow Suns presence on Parthenope.
The Shadow Suns quickly reacted to the appearance of the Grey Knights, taking the daemon hunters completely by surprise. Seizing the initiative of the engagement, the Shadow Suns quickly reduced the Grey Knights transports to burning wrecks and inflicted heavy casualties on the foot troops contained within. The shock was so bad the commander of the company seriously considered pulling his entire force out, but duty made him and his forces stand and fight the traitors. Unfortunately the situation didn't get any better for the Ordo Malleus force and by the end of the day their attack on Centosar had collapsed, their force all but wiped out.
General Ritchie, in overall command of the new invasion, did not immediately find out about the disaster in Herescia and his Librian regiments made good progress, smashing through to Dalisac, a major city, before pursuing the Covenant forces all the way around the Brackeri sea into Konossa. The carnage amongst the traitor guard forces was horrendous, as Librian forces quickly eliminated their armoured formations with accurate, if somewhat lucky lascannon shots from their own Leman Russ tanks and heavy weapons platoons. Still the Covenant did not give up and they threw wave after wave of infantry against the mechanised Librians. By the end of 1405.011M42 the Imperial advance had slowed as ferocious if suicidal counter attacks took their toll on the loyalist guard units. In the first phase of the battle 5,850 Librians were killed or wounded, but the losses of their enemy are believed to total around 15,000 after less than a week.
While the Librians ground the Covenant forces down General Ritchie also received some welcome news. Disorder had broken out in the Chaos ranks with a set of skirmishes erupting in the west between Anticross and Covenant forces. Presumably over supremacy of command, the battles only aided the invasion and by 1405.011M42 the second invasion was going to plan. The Claws of Lorek mounted a night attack against Cradossi on 1505.011M42, encountering the second company of the Grey Knights. The action however was a confused and sporadic affair made worse by the poor lighting conditions. This attack petered out, but much worse was to follow for the Imperial invasion.
Since their rout of the Ordo Malleus, the Shadow Suns had once again been either overlooked or lost by Imperial intelligence, who were still playing down their overall threat to the campaign. Never had the Shadow Suns proved themselves to be a significant fighting force, and recent defeats to them had been put down to bad luck. Now those views were about to change. The Shadow Suns struck on 1605.011M42 with a lightning strike running west to east. They cut the Imperial supply lines between Dalisac and Cradossi before charging headlong into the rear of the Librian advance, encountering the Space Wolves company deployed to meet this very threat.
As the marines of Fenris moved out to give battle, they were suddenly appalled by the numbers and organisation of the Shadow Suns. Led from the front by a chaos lord and khornate retinue in an ancient Land Raider, the rest of the army was far from a disorganised rabble. Instead an elite fighting force of traitor marines tore into the Space Wolves, who knew immediately they were outclassed, but fought on valiantly none-the-less. Casualties were horrific, with the Space Wolves suffering their worst loss in the sector to date, much of the carnage caused by the chaos lord and his retinue. Eventually the Wolves were forced to withdraw, allowing the Shadow Suns to loot and pillage, cutting the Imperial Invasion into three pieces. Now General Ritchie faced a difficult siege and the second invasion's survival hung in the balance.
General Veers and the Space wolf captain attached to the crusade laid the blame squarely at the feet of Imperial intelligence. How had the strength of the Shadow Suns been so underestimated? Who was the chaos lord leading their army and leaving destruction in his wake? they had butchered the Grey Knights, Dark Angels and Space Wolves on Parthenope in little over a week. Who could now stop them?