Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nemesis launches new offensive

On 0811.011M42 the Imperial battlegroup under Clinton-Baker had arrived at Caitlen Station, taking up position around an outer planet while all manner of resupply ships from the station itself brought much needed spares and crew to the waiting vessel. However, just days after their arrival strange surveyor reading readings should have alerted the Commodore to an imminent threat, but the readings were vague and unrecognised. Then without warning a mass of vessels appeared, strange living vessels bearing bioweaponry and vicious looking claws. Hive fleet Nemesis had arrived.

The appearance of the tyranids at Caitlen station was a complete surprise. The hive mind had acted with great and unexpected strategic planning. Instead of waiting above Alphe to be attacked by Commodore Clinton-Baker's battlegroup, the tyranids had ambushed their attackers in a situation favourable to them.

The hive fleet attacked directly, and despite the Imperial vessels coming to full alertness almost immediately, Clinton-Bakers ships were not in an ideal tactical formation and were far too close to their enemy. A violent battle erupted, with Nemesis losing a vast number of their smaller ships. Early on in the battle the light cruisers Arethusa and Galatea were overwhelmed and destroyed, but as the battle progressed the victory of the alien fleet was by no means certain. However Nemesis triumphed at last when the Oberon class battleship Hercules, stuck at the rear of a hastily deployed formation, faced the full fury of the tyranid battlefleet. Hercules' shields were overwhelmed and the mighty vessel was pummelled from bow to stern. The ancient battleship blew up with all hands and the rest of the fleet was forced to retreat back to the safety of Caitlen Station's Ramilles class starfort. Nemesis did not pursue, but the planned mission to Alphe was cancelled, the planet and its defenders left to their fate until more forces could be spared.

Meanwhile on Alphe, listening posts and orbital surveillance satellites on Alphe had been maintaining a status of high alert ever since the discovery of Tyranid bioforms on the western archipelagos. Imperial intelligence believed the infestation was merely an advanced tendril of nemesis, sent to gather information and secure a beachhead for a full invasion. General Percival had ordered that all anomalous sightings were to be investigated, so when a meteor shower was sighted over the Alpmaadow Downs a company of Guard was dispatched to investigate. The sighting was far from the infested zone and the Pryford Meadows region was considered a rear echelon area. It was garrisoned only by the 24th Islandawandas, a large but poorly equipped regiment of light infantry almost entirely without vehicle and artillery support.

It was only when the company investigating the impact site failed to report in or answer hails that concerns were first raised at High Command and Percival ordered a surveillance satellite to be hastily repositioned to overfly the 24ths last known co-ordinates. What was shown on the orbital feed horrified him. Infra-red imagining showed millions of teaming xenoforms swarming around an impact site that was already obscured by an extensive hive node. The images barely had time to sink in before the satellites sensors detected an unidentified craft nearby and the feed went dead.

One by one the command post lost contact with all its satellites and orbital installations. The Hive Fleet had at long last arrived. Hours later all contact was lost with Pryford. A last panicked vox transmission reported a sea of Tyranids coating the plains in a heaving mass of chitin. Percival immediately ordered the redeployment of Guard regiments to contain the invasion and prayed that it would be enough.

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