Sunday, December 30, 2012

Catechism repel Astartes probe on Mordecai

Following the mixed fortunes of the raid on Mordecai on 1112.042M42, General Veers was struggling to plan the next phase of the Perseus Deeps crusade. Logisticae and imperial intelligence estimated that to overcome Mordecai's formidable defences, an invasion force several times greater than the one used to liberate Bastien would be needed. A three world system, Mordecai was home to the fleets of Admiral Thok and Lorek, with a significant force of from lord Traegen. For a start this force would have to be overcome, and the imperial navy were more than hesitant to risk their strength, especially since it was now down to just two battlegroups in the Deeps.

Veers however believed it would be possible to establish a foothold on the system by landing a force on the outermost planet of Moredecai Tertius. With the fleet base located well in system, close to Mordecai Primaris, Veers believed an invasion force could be delivered to the third planet before the Chaos fleets could react. The ruinous powers would then be forced to engage the imperial force or destroy the valuable planet from high orbit. The Lord General began planning for this immediately, but the preparations would take months. Then, during the latter half of 12.012M42, imperial high command got an astonishing tip off from their intelligence division. Moonface was on Mordecai Tersius.

The news that the leader of the dangerous Chaos force had once again returned to the sector was unwelcome. If the chaos leader could once again unite chaos behind him, the task of taking Mordecai would be all the harder. However Veers was unable to do anything about it. Sensing an opportunity the captain of the newly arrived Apocalypse Riders company set off for the Moredecai system. The highly mobile strike force easily penetrated the outer defences of the chaos held system and landed on the barren planet towards the end of 12.012M42, and it wasn't long before they located the chaos lord and his retinue.

Despite having a highly manouverable force, the Apocalypse Riders soon found themselves in trouble. Though he didn't get involved personally in the battle, Moonface watched from the ranks of his brainwashed cultists as his army encircled and pinned down the fast moving bike army. The loyalist marine commander hacked through the surrounding chaos spawn as the chaos force attacked, but the bikers were whittled down too quickly against the resilient forces of nurgle. Unable to complete their goal the Riders abandonned their mission, returning to Corticant with bad news for Veers.

With Catechism forces entrenched on Mordecai, the invasion plans were altered again, and the date once more went back. Meanwhile the forces of chaos, given respite from the advance of the Harakhty dynasty, had re-organised and re-equipped, as their defence of Grimlock had shown. But Veers was blind to this fact, and as 013M42 began, the recent acquisitions of the crusade were more vulnerable than ever before.

Tau invasion confirmed on Tyranteous

Throughout much of 012M42 the Imperium had been dealing with a number of serious threats in the Zadoc subsector. Alexander's ambitious plans to secure the Rim Worlds and secure Grimlock had gone horribly awry, seeing his departure as overall commander of the subsector. His replacement, Brooke, was a more defensive minded character and his priorities had been to fortify the Imperial position on Zadoc and in the Mabb Nebula in preparation for an obvious tyranid attack, and the war against the orks on Hylas.

Defensive preparations had been going well, and the uprising on Tyranteous had been quarantined. Hollyden was cordonned off and the island of Hollydale had been cleansed. For now it seemed that despite setbacks against the orks, and Veers' disastrous attempt to land on Grimlock, the subsector, or at least what was left of it, was well prepared to meet the threat that hive fleet Nemesis surely posed.

Since the fall of Tyndareous the Imperial planners had been content to ignore the Tau. With their extended supply lines and facing enemies themselves in the Aleph expansion sphere, it looked unlikely that another major war would erupt between the Imperium and the Tau Empire at least for the time being. There had even been attempts to secure an alliance against Nemesis during 012M42, but these talks had largely fallen through.

Until late on in the year, probing attacks by the Tau in the Tyranteous system had been largely dismissed as isolated raids by an overly aggressive faction of the alien race, but during 12.012M42 it became apparent that the Tau had a base somewhere in the system, and had begun landing forces on Tyranteous itself. General Mikell Denham conferred with the Imperial governor, Diana Selken, and agreed to divert three regiments of Librian guard to the frozen northern wastelands to "monitor events". On 1712.012M42 Denham lost contact with one northern outpost, and later in the month units in the north reported a strong offensive by several tau hunter cadres moving south in the snow.

Initially the imperial command was keen to dismiss the reports as over-reactions, but the Librians soon came under strong attack from tau forces from at least two sept worlds. This wasn't a probing attack, this was an invasion! The Librians attempted to put up a stubborn defence, but railgun fire made scrap metal of their armoured units early on, and a counter attack led by Librian mechanised units failed to blunt the tau advance. Stealth suits managed to infiltrate into the Librian defensive positions, and by the end of 012M42, the entire line was falling back.

Unexpected help arrived in the nick of time as it appeared the breach in the imperial lines would lead to disaster. Such was the pace of the tau advance that the Librian regiments became separated and isolated, and the road to Fallowvale lay wide open. Before the tau could exploit the situation however, a company of Apocalypse Riders astartes made planetfall just north of the threatened imperial settlement. The astartes force, largely made up of fast moving bikes and land speeders, had intercepted General Denham's communications to his hard pressed front line commanders on their way to Hylas, and made a diversion. The Apocalypse Riders decided to attach one company of their force to the Zadoc subsector, and another to the Perseus Deeps, operating as a rapid reaction strike force.

The astartes immediately counter attacked the tau, making lightning raids against the aliens but never staying long enough for the enemy to mount an effective counter-attack against their small force. Wherever the marines appeared, the tau assault was stopped in its tracks, and this allowed the imperial generals to regroup their battered formations into a semblance of a stable front line. The three Librian regiments were saved from absolute destruction and Denham reinforced the line with hastily raised PDF divisions. The Riders, their job done, re-embarked on their strike cruiser and headed into the Mabb Nebula.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Imperial plans

Imperial plans

- Perseus Deeps - Lord General Veers

Creation of fortresses (bases) in the Perseus Deeps

1 - Bastien Starbase - 0%

2 - Corticant local fortifications - 0%

3 - Ares local fortifications - 0%

Crusade Offensives:

1 - Mordecai (Chaos)

2 - Kendrenec (Chaos)

Forces Assigned:

Navy: 1st & 2nd Battlegroups (Beattie *Tiger, Jellicoe *Iron Duke)

Farport Guard tithe grade Exactis Secundus

11x Librian Regiments

10x Corellian Regiments

4x Prozan Regiments

2x Praetorian Regiments

2x Raven Guard companies

2x Space Wolf companies

1x Dark Angel company

Ad Hoc Astartes interventions

- Zadoc Subsector - Lord General Brooke

Priorities:

1 - Hylas war (ork invasion)

2 - Fortification of Zadoc & New Cerberex

Forces Assigned:

Navy: 3rd & 4th Battlegroups (Clinton-Baker *Royal Sovereign, Craddock *Vanguard)

Librian Guard (home subsector) tithe grade Exactis Prima

Zadocian Guard (home subsector) tithe grade Exactis Tertius

Tyranteous Guard (Tyran Guard) tithe grade Decuma Tertius

3x Prozan Regiments

2x Praetorian Regiments

2x Corellian Regiments

Ad Hoc Astartes interventions

Legio Gryphonicus (Titan Legion)

Local PDF

- Enceladus Crusade - Overall command TBA

Objectives:

1 - Secure the Hell Stars and create a base.

2 - Retake Protogonus from the Tau

3 - Quarantine the Charybdis Rift

4 - Clear out the Ork Dominion

Aims:

- Threaten the Tau Empire expansion by flanking their warp route to the Aleph sector

- Isolate the Federacy

- Remove entirely the threat of Chaos from the sector

- Destroy the ork menace in the Ork Dominion

- Secure the Valitane subsectors southern flank

Forces assigned:

Navy: 5th Battlegroup (*Agamemnon)

Valitane Regiments (to be raised)

TBA

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Eldar continue to pursue own agenda

As 012M42 drew to a close the eldar continued to pursue their own agenda across the sector. Having failed abysmally to halt the tyranids at Grimlock, the ancient race decided instead to intervene on Aornis. Here hive fleet Nemesis had established a small bridgehead but had not yet spread across the world. The eldar recognised that to bolster their defences on Grimlock the forces of chaos, chiefly the Claws of Lorek and Iron Warriors, had reduced their defence of the smaller world. This they predicted would have dire consequences in the future.

A significant raiding force was sent to the minor world but rather than overtly help their usual enemies the eldar burst from the webway and mercilessly attacked the forces of Lorek on Aornis. Following much bloodshed the eldar established a base of operations in the north and then set about their primary task. The hive mind on Aornis had sensed the arrival of fresh biomass and moved swiftly to counter the threat. They attacked in fast moving waves but the eldar had prepared for this eventuality, creating killing grounds infront of their positions. The tyranids had no option but to rush these defences, losing thousands of individual creatures. This mattered little, but the loss of synapse creatures severely affected the swarm's ability to function as an army. On 2012.012M42 the eldar realised that the tyranids were no longer attacking as a unified force, and their farseers felt the hive mind withdraw from Aornis. Nemesis had given up on the chaos world, at least for now.

Meanwhile in the Perseus Deeps the street fighting on Ares continued amongst the ruins of the capital city. On 1512.012M42 the Salamanders and Raven Guard who had been holding the aliens at bay in Ares City informed General Vasilevsky that they had more pressing business to attend to, and began handing over the defence of the city, especially the spaceport, to the imperial guard. General Vasilevsky, worried by the impact of the loss of two companies of space marines, sent a general request for more astartes aid. On 2012.012M42 his requested was answered, and a company of Dark Angels arrived in system. They agreed that for now Vasilevsky did not have the forces to hold back the eldar, and that the loss of Ares City would be a devastating blow. The space marines immediately began planning for an attack which would secure the city once and for all. Silently the Dark Angels took up what appeared to be defensive positions in the ruins of the once impressive city.

The eldar attacked at dawn on 2212.012M42 but the Dark Angels immediately sprang their trap, suddenly racing forwards on both flanks to encircle the eldar before they could react. Even so, the central eldar position was unassailable due to its overwhelming firepower, so rather than attack it directly the Dark Angels secured positions on the flanks and began picking apart the eldar defences. After extensive goading the eldar launched an all out counter attack, the wraithguard successfully recaptured their right flank, but the attack in the middle was vulnerable outside the protection of their central fire base and was surrounded and destroyed. The Dark Angels then counter attacked viciously, their assault troops destroying the eldar artillery positions, leaving the remaining eldar isolated and forcing them to withdraw. The assault had almost been a total success, but by the end of 012M42 it became clear that two small pockets of resistance in the rubble of the former capital still remained. The war on Ares would continue.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tyranteous: Tau probe imperial defences

With their foothold in the system's outer reaches secure the Tau continued to push forward their plans for an invasion of Tyranteous. With the use of air power a critical staple of the Tau method of war the Tyranteous Coalition aimed to secure air supremacy around the site of the proposed beachhead. Having already established a secret air base amidst the frozen arctic tundra the first priority was to eliminate the rival imperial facility in the region before they became alerted to the Tau's presence.

Under cover of darkness a hunter cadre was airlifted by Manta, flying low and using mountain ranges to mask its presence from the advanced sensor facilities at the air base. Dropped into foothills some distance from the air field the cadre then made its way towards the facility ready to attack at dawn.

The Tau's hopes for an unopposed surprise attack were brutally dashed when sirens began sounding and the piercing beams of spotlights suddenly arced out from the fortifications protecting the base. Tracer fire streamed out from entrenched guns and artillery rounds began landing amidst the Tau's forward positions. Unknown to the Tau their cadre had been detected by an observation post as it advanced on their target and the air bases' garrison was fully alerted and manning its defensive positions.

The Tau suffered heavy casualties in the opening stages of the engagement and their return fire failed to silence the well entrenched artillery and gun positions. Further disaster struck when a sudden white out at the Tau's own air base stopped the launching of the operation's air support leaving the hunter cadre totally isolated.

It seemed the raid would fail utterly but with no chance of extraction there was no choice but to press on. The one thing preventing the utter collapse of the attack was the stealth fields and thick armour that protected the Tau's heaviest guns. Unable to find their targets or advance over the open killing field surrounding their positions the company of Librians defending the base were effectively locked down into their positions. Seemingly immune to harm the Tau Hammerheads were able to probe the perimeter of the facility until they managed to get firing solutions on the Imperial artillery and silence it. As the blizzard finally cleared Barracudas finally began to strafe the Librian's positions, allowing the Tau ground forces to penetrate the bases perimeter.

As contact with their airbase was lost the Imperium became aware of the Tau presence in the system. A probe of the moonbase by Sword class escorts was forced to turn about and flee when they detected Tau capital starships patrolling the outer reaches. The invasion of Tyranteous, until now something only theorised in threat assessments now became a dawning reality for the Imperium.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Cerberex alliance fends of Nemesis probe

At the very time the tau were preparing an invasion of the Imperial world of Tyranteous, they were also working in partnership with the empire of man in the Mabb Nebula. While rarely on good terms and often at war over territory, both the tau and the imperium had a vested interest in preventing the tyranids from overrunning any more worlds in the Zadoc subsector. The tyranids left nothing to conquer or settle, and the continued push by the tendril of nemesis into the Shadow worlds was alarming to both parties.

It was difficult for general Brooke or the imperial guard as whole to discuss mutual assistance with aliens against common enemies. Bound by the inquisition and the iron gaze of the commissariat, lower level field commanders knew better than to fraternise with aliens, and senior commanders were very aware of the various positions the inquisition would take on any overt or covert alliances with the tau. Inquisitor lord Hathek had arranged an alliance with them to fight the necrons, chaos and tyranids in 011M42, but that had ended badly with the imperium fighting itself and the loss of Tyndareous to the Tau empire. Hathek himself had been badly damaged by the affair and had subsequently decided to embark on an expedition into the Hadron Expanse. Without Hathek around, the idea of a tau-imperial alliance appeared dead.

However the astartes were as ever less bound by suspicion and creed, independent of the commissariat, and generally too strong to be pushed around by the inquisition. Therefore when the tendrils of nemesis reached out for New Cerberex, it was not a total surprise when the Knights of Dorn chapter showed up in alliance with a Tau hunter cadre. The allied force had been working together for years, tracking the movements of Nemesis in the depths of inter-sector space, and had finally arrived in the Zadoc subsector. They immediately attacked the tyranid vanguard forces, defeating them and cleansing the Cerberex system of tyranid spores, at least for now. The allied force moved off in late 12.012M42, with the tau having faced much suspicion and distrust from the New Cerberex population which was barely held in check by the presence of the awe inspiring astartes company.

Whether or not the space marine force and their tau allies would be able to stay together for their common good in the hostile and unpredictable political climate of the Aleph Sector remained to be seen, but for now the insidious spread of nemesis had been halted, and perhaps an alliance of tau, imperial and eldar forces united against the great devourer would finally see nemesis broken by force of arms.

TYRANTEOUS: Tau fortify orbital base

The tau are assaulted by the Dark Eldar on a raid on Tyranteous moon base. Moonshine repels the attack and continues to fortify for the main invasion of Tyranteous.

Despite suffering from a lack of resources and difficulties with supply, the Tau in the Zadoc subsector were still keen to advance the cause of the greater good. The tau had the populous nations of Zadoc and Libria among their long term goals, but as yet they did not posess the power to simply invade such fortified and important imperial worlds. Tyranteous however was a different story. The tau had been irritated by the sudden and unexpected uprising by chaos worshippers on Tyranteous however, as this brought unwanted attention from the space marines and imperial high command.

By 10.012M42 the situation had changed. The orks had invaded Hylas, distracting the imperium and allowing the tau to make a lightning assault against the orks controlling the outer fringe moon base in the Tyranteous system. They had succeeded in this and by 12.012M42 they had built up a significant base of operations, still undetected by the Imperium.

The dark eldar however knew of the base, and despite the grand "alliance" holding firm in the Perseus Deeps, the Shattered Silence were still not above opportunist plunder. Embittered by being left "high and dry" on Grimlock, in 12.012M42 the kabal launched a series of raids against the Tyranteous moon base, intending to steal anything of value and capture a few tau or kroot as slaves. However they were unaware of how advanced the Tau preparations were for the invasion of Tyranteous and faced an unpleasant surprise when they arrived.

Commander Moonshine had once again prepared his positions wisely, and using his battlefield expertise the dark eldar were swiftly dealt with. The fortification of Tyranteous Moon base continued, and the tau themselves began to wonder whether Moonshine would ascend to the same level as Shadowstrike in the command hierarchy.

Space Marine Strike force moves on Mordecai

While the Grimlock invasion was still in full swing, General Veers had already been planning his next move, both as contingency plan if Grimlock was lost, and as the next step in the final destruction of chaos in the Perseus Deeps. By mid 12.012M42 the Grimlock venture was going awry, but the commander of battlegroup apocalypse had already sent forces to Mordecai for the preparation of the next invasion. On 1112.012M42 the Salamanders and Raven Guard, who had agreed to aid the new expedition, assaulted the chaos installations on Mordecai Tersius for the first time, evading the powerful chaos fleet arrayed in the system.

The claws of Lorek were ready for them and put up fierce resistance. At the Raven Guard's objectives, which remain unknown to this day, the forces of chaos were pushed back, but the Salamanders were overwhelmed by the ferocity of Lorek's forces, and quickly became separated from them. The situation was becoming difficult, so the Salamanders were extracted from the planet. The Raven Guard followed shortly after, narrowly avoiding the massed gun batteries of Lorek and Thok's battlefleet. Veers was debriefed and informed that many of the automated systems guarding Mordecai had been out out of action, but several remained. Veers would now have to decide whether to launch another raid or to go ahead with the full scale invasion of the system before the damage was repaired.

PARATAEA: Tau slowly pushed back

For nearly two months the war between the tau and necrons on Parataea had been largely static. The tau had made no moves to counter attack the Harakhty Dynasty forces, but neither had the necrons taken much in the way of offensive action. In 12.012M42 however the necrons moved again, this time south and east from their salient in the centre of Parataea towards the settlement of Sin'Kau'Mek. This move would cut the Tau armies in two on the world, and was resisted strongly. The battles raged for a week with neither side making much progress, but in the end the attrition told on the tau and they were forced to withdraw. Even so their hard fighting had ensured the necrons didn't quite manage to achieve their goals in reaching the coast, and a narrow strip of tau controlled land along the H'kai inlet kept the defence of the world joined up, at least for the time being.

ARES: Street fighting in Ares city

The Eldar attack Ares city from their tenuous hold on the city. Salamanders deploy to counter and the fighting becomes intense. Craftworld eldar move into more suburbs. The Raven Guard strike back but the eldar defences hold. The city is now a contested rubble pile. Eldar closing in on the spaceport.
The war on Ares continued to flare up sporadically during 1012.012M42, with the eldar making further inroads into Ares city. As the street fighting intensified the eldar forces encountered became stronger and stronger, and very soon the imperial line was beginning to become stretched out in the city, with pockets of imperial defenders separated by enemy held zones. The Salamanders deployed to rid the now ruined city of eldar forces on 0612.012M42, but their attacks were beaten off by craftworld eldar forces.

A further strike by the Raven Guard was more successful, and the forward momentum of the eldar advance was stopped. Even so much of the ruined city now lay in eldar hands and the aliens were within half a mile of the strategically vital spaceport and transport hub at the centre of Ares City. The imperium were not about to abandon or destroy what was left of it however, as that was what the eldar were fighting would achieve. The apparently endless war on Ares would continue.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Hylas: ork breakout in the west

The orks didn't take the defeat in the north lying down, and by 0512.012M42 Imperial intelligence couldn't fail to notice the enormous force concentration in the south west of the Beng region. It was obvious to Gault that the greenskins, having failed to breakout to the north, would now try to breakout west. There was no particular strategic mind at work, the orks were simply pointing themselves in a direction and charging, but in terms of tactical success, it worked well.

The orks broke out on 0812.012M42 and smashed the Hylas PDF and imperial guard regiments facing them. Gault was unable to predict where the hammerblow would fall and in the broad plains of Birego the imperial commander had simply placed a screening force, which dutifully fled as the orks approached. Now the imperium knew where Snazgubbins and Thrugnik were attacking, the Astartes were called on.

The Space Wolves and Red Angels responded to General Brooke's request to aid his subordinate on Hylas. Working on a plan together it was decided that the Space Wolves would counter attack in the north against Thrugnik's forces, considered the more dangerous ork warlord, while the Red Angels would attempt to halt Snazgubbins' advance, since the chapter had fought that particular warlord a number of times.

The assault by the Space Wolves did not go well, as the greenskins proved able to shrug off the close assaults undertaken by the astartes forces, and the ork airforce once again created havoc above the battlefield. The ork warlord himself was present, representing a serious problem to the Space Wolves, killing the Space Wolf lord in command in single combat. Realising the ork push could not be blunted in the plains the Space Wolves retreated, hoping that the Red Angels would have more success further south.

Snazgubbins' ork horde smashed through the defence lines erected by the Red Angels with comparative ease during the middle of 12.012M42, and it seemed that the experience of fighting one another actually favoured the orks, as the greenskins breached the thin red line the Red Angels placed in front of them. Unable to stop the ork assault, Gault agreed to pull his forces back, but by 1612.012M42 the orks were closing in on Tennyson. Once again the ork Waagh! had the initiative on Hylas.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Grimlock: aftermath

The aftermath of the battle for Grimlock was felt across the sector, with the different factions profiting and losing very differently from each other, and even within factions their were winners and losers.

For the tyranids of hive fleet Nemesis the invasion had been a success. In just a few days of vicious fighting over half of the planet had been overrun by the aliens, and they were beginning to feed on the areas where they had first landed. Only a concerted push by the remaining chaos defenders would now be able to halt the xenos menace, although the planet had not been overcome just yet. The gestalt entity of Nemesis had been the decisive factor in its ability to coordinate its attacks so well, despite the presence of three other major factions on the world. Now the remaining forces of chaos would have to be overcome before the hive fleet proper could move in to devour yet another world in the Zadoc subsector.

Despite not achieving overall victory in the battle for Grimlock, the chaos/ork alliance, forged out of desperation, held its own, fighting off three enemy threats and stubbornly refusing to give ground. Although Lorek and the Stahl, as well as the host of ork warbands which turned up, lured by booty and the promise of a good scrap, didn't always see eye to eye in terms of strategy, they all refused to retreat. Attack was used aas the primary form of defence, and despite losing ground to the tyranid swarms, the chaos forces managed to recover from the initial losses to the Imperium in central Grimlock, recovering the vital region of Atlis and its fortifications. In addition the eldar and tau alliance were brushed aside wherever they appeared, allowing chaos to retain an important foothold on Grimlock, where they intended to hold out till the last...

Unfortunately nearly half of the combat effective forces on Grimlock fighting for Lorek and Stahl were greenskins. The chaos lords knew that if the orks abandoned Grimlock, particularly if they became bored of the fight, the tyranids would achieve victory. Somehow the forces of chaos needed to pursuade the likes of Krumpgutz, Snazgubbins and Da Verminator, that staying on Grimlock was worth the effort. In addition, they needed to work out how to get rid of the orks from the world once the tyranids had been beaten - although that was definitely a future concern. For now the chaos/ork alliance was holding firm against the tyranid threat, having seen off the invasions started by the eldar and imperium.

For the Imperium the battle of Grimlock was a defeat, but a surprising one with strange and unintended consequences. Initial success had then turned to sudden reversals, most tellingly against the forces of chaos. Ground was lost, but then recovered from the tyranids in the north east of the planet, but in the centre, where Veers hoped to land the decisive blow against chaos, the front crumbled, and with the important region of Atlis falling to chaos forces, the general knew to continue the invasion would be folly.

The appearance of the alliance had been a nuisance more than anything else, but one which diverted important forces away from the main fronts against Nemesis and chaos. where they were encountered, the eldar-tau alliance were smashed, but elite formations which could have been used elsewhere were unavailable. Overall the Corellian Storm Guard once again proved its ability and worth, easily crushing all resistance wherever it was deployed, overcoming all factions in lightning battles, often backed up by Bran Redmaw's Space Wolves. Veers used the Corellian formations as firefighters, quickly transporting them from one combat zone to another to counter emergent threats.

This policy of using the Corellians as a mobile reserve worked well, but meant other forces such as the Librians and other Space Wolf companies became embroiled in attritional battles they were ill equipped for. In addition several disasterous interventions via drop pod by the Grand Company of Erik Morkai led to some painful defeats. In general while Redmaw's company worked well with the Corellians, the rest of the Space Wolves suffered badly, even against the alliance.

The Imperial Fists company were similarly defeated, finding themselves ill-equipped to deal with a combined force of orks and chaos, while the Blood Martyrs failed to turn up at all. The Librian regiments involved in the invasion often found themselves encircled by the highly mobile battle, and at least three regiments were destroyed or captured without firing a shot. In one engagement the Space Wolves completed a successful tactical withdrawal without informing their Librian partners on their left flank, leaving them dangerously and eventually fatally exposed to the threat from Nemesis.

The shambolic invasion was eventually abandonned by Veers on 0312.012M42, and remaining forces were re-embarked for a return to Corticant. General Veers suffered as a result of this failure, but he was not replaced. No-one else had anything even closely resembling a successful record in the Aleph sector, and Veers' victories on Corticant, Bastien and Parthenope ensured his continuing leadership of the Perseus Deeps forces. However, since the invasion of Grimlock had failed, Lord General Roover decided to cancel the Crusade, effectively abandoning Grimlock to the tyranids. Roover began re-apportioning his forces, leaving enough to garisson the worlds already won in the Deeps, but reinforcing the Zadoc subsector against the threats now emerging there. The Imperial Crusade against chaos was ended at Grimlock.

The alliance had decided to intervene on Grimlock, initially to help the Imperium. By the end of the furious battle which then ensued, they might have wished that they had stuck with the original plan. The combined forces of three hunter cadres of Tau warriors, the Shattered Silence kabal, several minor kabals, eldar corsairs and craftworld eldar had been an impressive force on paper, and the eldar capability to use the webway to gain an initial foothold on Grimlock would have appeared to give the alliance a decisive edge in the battle for the planet.

The Rillietan were conspicuous by their absence however. It appears that this time the harlequins had disagreed with the craftworld eldar farseer, and had seen fit not to aid their plans. So when the alliance attacked, it was without their lynchpin. The tau were utterly decimated by the orks, imperium and nemesis, losing all their forces. Fortunately the tau had sent the minimum forces they thought they could get away with, as the tau high command themselves believed the invasion of Grimlock to be a fools errand, though they recognised that tying up the tyranids on the world would be advantageous, and that an imperial victory would threaten their holdings in the subsector.

the eldar also suffered defeats, although the dark eldar of the Shattered Silence did manage to come out of the campaign in profit, thanks to their successful defence of the webway portal late on in the short campaign. They were the last of the alliance forces to leave Grimlock, and they used their extra time to cynically loot everything they could from the chaos world, before sealing the portal behind them. Now the alliance became strained as their aims diverged. The tau wished for a quick tyranid victory, so that Nemesis would move on and away from the Zadoc subsector, clearing a dangerous chaos base from near their colonies, while the eldar desired the battle to continue to rage, consuming tyranid and chaos forces alike. Never-the-less for now the alliance held.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Grimlock: Chaos hold out against final tyranid victory

The third week of the Grimlock war saw the final collapse of the alliance on the world, and the abandonment of the imperial crusade for the planet.

Realising the threat posed by Nemesis, general Veers transferred his Corellian formations east, to face the tyranids with a massive attack on Renegium to retake Coldoak. This attack was successful, as the imperial guard pounded the aliens with massed artillery and airpower, obliterating millions of varied xenos creatures in a spectacular assault. However, while the Corellians added to their string of successed, Veers' plan against chaos fell abruptly apart.

The plan was to hold Atils against the inevitable assault from Repsis, while landing a significant force of Space Wolves at Hakun in the south. If successful, the fortified south of Grimlock would be unlocked, and the forces of chaos doomed. The Space Wolves duly carried out their assault, but were too few in number and met fierce resistance from ork and chaos forces. they were only able to secure small bridgheads and by 2012.012M42 were still over one hundred miles from their objective at Bluespring. Meanwhile in the centre the imperial resistance crumbled before the combined armies of Thrugnik and Lorek. Stahl didn't even need to employ his Iron Warriors as the front fell back day after day. Eventually the Imperial Fists made a last stand at Eribank, but were severely mauled by the enemy and were forced to abandon Atlis. With the loss of his hold on the south of Grimlock, Veers knew the imperial invasion was finished.

The alliance already knew they were finished and were simply attempting to extricate themselves from an appalling strategic situation by 1412.012M42. The focus of the fighting took place in the north west of the planet, where the alliance had one remaining webway portal. At this portal the tyranids attacked, but were severely punished by the Shattered Silence and forced to withdraw. However, no sooner had this victory been celebrated then news of further defeats came in. In the south the last tau forces of commander FastBlade were annihilated defending Pendanal from the tyranid onslaught, while Da Verminator landed a massive force at Corcliff. In the ensuing days the alliance were pushed further and further back until their escape routes were cut off. Thousands of eldar, and many more tau were lost as the northwest was overrun by ork and tyranid forces. The tau in particular lost every single warrior sent on the expedition. Now only the forces of chaos stood between the tyranids and final victory.

Grimlock: Alliance collapse, Nemesis irresistable

The second week of the Grimlock was saw the decisive battles take place which would decide the fate of the world. Most importantly between 0712.012M42 and 1412.012M42 the forces of hive fleet Nemesis showed themselves to be more than an irritiation, overwhelming the Space wolves and Librian guard at Renegium and taking the imperial held city of Coldoak. In the south the aliens overan and consumed the region of Cariane after destroying the forces of the Shattered Silence kabal after a long and bitterly contested battle for the webway portal. Eventually the dark eldar, working for the alliance, retreated back into their domain, allowing the tyranids their gains. In the far south the chaos and ork armies defending the western front were forced back hundreds of miles by a rampant tyranid horde. Everywhere the tyranids were gaining, and by 1212.012M42 Nemesis had control of half the planet.

Veers could see things were going horribly wrong for his invasion by this point. Confusion between the space wolves and imperial guard had lost his important base in the north and threatened the landing zone at Haxoa. In the west he had transferred his best forces, the Corellian formations, to deal the eldar a "final blow". In this he was successful, as the forces of the eldar and dark eldar were massacred by the guard and space wolf units, but the conquest of Zuchal left Malicana and Smithtown in the hands of the alliance, thanks to the eldar using their greater maneuverability to deflect the axis of advance of imperial forces to the north, away from the strategically vital objectives. Meanwhile in the south, Lorek led a massive counter attack against Repsis, breaking through the imperial lines to such an extent that even a determined Space Wolf counter attack could not prevent the loss of Tallin and the plains to the north, which had only been claimed by the imperium a week previously. Veers was now on the backfoot.

Meanwhile the tau saw the loss of another third of their forces as their cadres, in alliance with the eldar, fought bitter attritional battles along the coast of Pendanal, as the Iron Warriors and warboss Thrugnik looked for ways to eject the alliance from Grimlock. By the end of week two it was obvious the alliance venture was a total failure, and plans for an organised retreat were well advanced.

Grimlock: Tyranid advances, Chaos losses

For General Veers the Imperial invasion of Grimlock was mostly successful for the first week of 12.012M42, as the Corellians, with the best equipment and aided by the Space Wolves, swept south from Atlis, decisively beating Da Verminator's orks outside the city of Tallin and taking the region of Repsis. In the north the Space Wolves were tasked to take Malicana and the important city of Jannick, but were held by a dogged eldar defence. However signs of things to come were evident in the Enteria pocket, where the imperial guard had become encircled by unfriendly forces. When Nemesis attacked in force the Space Wolves of Erik Morkai attempted a rescue which went badly wrong. The Guard units were swallowed by the tyranid onslaught and Veers lost 15% of his invasion force.

Nemesis also made gains against chaos, overrunning Stahls' men in Ferrundium and forcing the warsmith to retreat to the chaos bastion of the south. Lorek was also forced to abandon the north as the region of Gallo was taken by the aliens who expanded in all directions during the first week of the Grimlock war.

The tau had a nasty shock to start their campaign as the ork warlord Thrugnik smashed into Agun, defeating the tau defenders and pushing them away from the eldar webway portal. One third of the tau forces were destroyed in the first week, and the tau command began to wonder if the potential gains were vastly outweighed by the potential losses.

Invasion of Grimlock - initial moves

The imperial invasion of Grimlock had already been underway for several weeks by the time the main contingent of Librian and Corellian Guard regiments arrived, along with three whole companies of Space Wolves and a company of Imperial Fists. Veers had secured an intitial bridgehead in the region of Haxoa, and in late 11.012M42 began his initial breakout, Renegium and Sumadon fell as planned, along with the important cities of Valpond and Coldoak, but Veers felt success was almost certain when the strategically important peninsula of Atlis fell to imperial forces. Then the other combatants arrived...

The forces of chaos had built up their defences as best they could, but knew that on sheer numbers they would be unable to stand in the way of the imperium. Once again the master of chaos turned to the orks for help, and as before the forces of Da Verminator, Thrugnik and Snazzgubbins heeded the call, in exchange for booty, loot and a good scrap the greenskins would join in common cause with the chaos defenders of Grimlock.

However, Warsmith Stahl and Lorek had more to worry about than a mere imperial invasion. As if triggered by the upsurge in fighting, tyranids burst out of the wilderness zones of Grimlock, indicating that long range spores had been laid by the passing of Nemesis, and now their forces had matured. Within days much of the eastern hemisphere had been overrun by the aliens, with Vastin and the city of Blackdell becoming the forst major city to be consumed by the hive mind. The war was now one of survival.

With the arrival of the tyranids the eldar, who had been openly aiding the imperium in their invasion, changed tack. Contacting their Tau allies they now offered the planet to the Tau. The ethereals, who wanted to avoid a chaos or imperial base close to Tarsis Major, agreed, not realising that the eldar in fact wanted the tyranids to become bogged down in a long and bitter war with their allies, halting their advance. So on 01.012M42 the eldar and tau forces burst out of the webway between the Atal and Errin seas, and in the north west, where they made swift gains. Very soon the chaos forces found themselves confined to pockets, and a defended hub in central south Grimlock. By 0212.012M42 the four way war for Grimlock had began in earnest.

Invasion of Grimlock - raw scores

    W D L %
TYRANIDS
7 0 2 53.7%
CHAOS/ORK
4 2 4 29.6%
IMPERIUM
3 2 4 14.8%
ALLIANCE
1 2 5 1.9%

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Second eldar intervention on Fort Sparcos

On 2611.012M42 the eldar tried once again to interfere with the war on Fort Sparcos between the orks and hive fleet Nemesis. This time a stronger force of craftworld eldar was sent against Thrugnik's forces on the planet, but met with little success. The orks gleefully met the challenge to their authority and defeated the eldar after hard fighting. Little damage was done to the fort, and the repeated attacks merely attracted more orks from Kallack to Fort Sparcos to join in the scrap. However in defeat the eldar suddenly realised their plan might actually be working. By attracting more orks to Fort Sparcos the tyranids would have a harder and harder time to gain eventual victory. This was what they had hope would occur by manipulating events to bring forward the invasion of Kallack. Now the eldar switched tack, planning to keep the war on Fort Sparcos alive for as long as possible, though not with the catastrophic losses they had so far endured.

Nemesis attacks on all fronts

As 011.012 reached a close, hive fleet Nemesis continued to make progress on Fort Sparcos against the orks. Thrugnik's forces were defeated once again in the latter part of the month, although Nemesis had so far been unable to reach the walls of the formidable fort itself, which thanks to the eldar, was growing in power every day. Nemesis, although well supplied by its hive fleet tendril, did not have overwhelming strategic and logistic superiority as it enjoyed in the Rim Worlds here, and the orks were well supplied from Kallack itself. Despite the ferocity of each battle, little progress was made and more orks poured in to reinforce their brethren. It would be a long war to overcome the fortress.

Meanwhile on Aornis the Iron Warriors inflicted the first real setback Nemesis had suffered for many months. Victory on the ground ensured that Sackville was reclaimed by the forces of Chaos, and Nemesis were forced back into the western badlands. For now, given the strategic situation, the Iron Warriors were unable to exploit the victory any further, as all resources were being shipped to defend Grimlock from imminent attack. Nevertheless the tyranids had been beaten, and the doom of another world postponed for a while at least.

Hylas: Salamanders retake Berkley, liberating West Coast

General Brooke had replaced Alexander as commander in the Zadoc subsector for a number of reasons including the fact that Lord General Roover detested Alexander and couldn't wait to get rid of him. Alexander was arrogant, while Brooke seemed eager to please and never made a fuss. However, this did not mean Brooke was a mere lackey. In fact he was an incredibly persuasive, charming and resourceful man who was now ideally placed to make sure the various organisations of the imperium worked together for common cause. Hylas now demanded the general's attention, and all his skill, charm and pragmatism to halt the greenskin advance before it was too late.

The Red Angels and General Gault's regiments of Librian, Prozan and Praetorian guard had so far been unable to halt the advance of the orks. The failure of the imperial navy to prevent the orks from resupplying their invasion was one particular problem, but not one Brooke was going to dwell on. He needed the navy on his side in the sector. The combined forces of Thrugnik, Uzfang, Krumpgutz, Na'Porkleon and Snazgubbins had proved too strong for Gault's men, and he needed reinforcements. Using his contacts, of which he had many in various circles, general Brooke managed to convince the Salamanders and the Legio Griphonicus to send a force to come to the aid of Hylas's defenders, and on 2211.012M42 they arrived at Tennyson, the Salamanders fleet forcing the orks to flee the immediate region of space around Hylas for long enough to land a full company of marines and two powerful reaver titans.

The Salamanders immediately saw an opportunity to disrupt the ork advance. The greenskins had taken Berkeley and advanced north, but their supply line was stretched. If a powerful punch from the west along the Sump Sea could retake the city and reach the impassable slopes of the massive plateau known as mount Flynn, a continent spanning ancient volcano, the ork forces would be cut in half. Those north of Berkeley would then be extremely vulnerable to counter attack from the Librian forces holding the line from Baldwin Bay to the Hylas plateau.

The Salamanders led the attack into Berkeley supported by two reaver titans of the Legio Gryphonicus, and were met by the forces of Da Verminator in strength. This was unwelcome news to the imperium on Hylas, as up till now the forces of that particular warlord had been assumed destroyed following his defeat in the Perseus Deeps. Sadly the warlord somehow managed to survive and even prosper, as was evidenced by the large force at his command. The ork warlord immediately counter attacked, but the Salamanders had moves so swiftly that the battle was raging where they wanted it to, in the streets of the city. Although one reaver was destroyed and the Salamanders lost much equipment, the orks were pinned to the battle in the city, allowing a fast moving reserve to race across the plains to reach the rocky ground further east. In less than a day, the ork advance in the west was cut in two.

With the ork supply lines severed the Librians to the north merely had to bait the orks to attack their defences, and soon the greenskins ran out of ammunition and equipment. Rendered powerless, the imperial guard with the help of the navy completed the job, pushing south towards teh ruins of Berkeley and routing the remaining orks.

Gault could finally report a victory to his superiors, and the greenskins suffered their first serious reversal on Hylas since the invasion began. However the Salamanders had achieved the victory, and it was General Brooke who had garnered their support. In any case the men on the ground cheered as they entered the battered city, but the war was far from over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Current warzones


Librians hold eldar advance on Ares

On 1911.012M42 the Shattered Silence kabal of dark eldar resumed their attack on Ares City, attacking along the Hephath Valley in a lightning assault in the early morning darkness of the Ares night. Despite their speed and advanced weaponry, one thing the dark eldar didn't have was surprise. General Orkar Vassilevsky had been expecting a renewed attack on Ares City, as it was the key objective and the capital of the minor world. Control of the capital would isolate the key settlements of Caeralon and Sindon Station, as well as take out the most important spaceport on the planet.

With this in mind Vasilevsky had prepared well. Aegis defence lines now ringed the city and basilisk artillery sat concealed behind buildings, trained on the forests and plains beyond the settlement's limits. When the dark eldar came, they were met with an accurate and devastating barrage of shells which quickly blunted their attack. With the attack pinned down the imperial general ordered a cautious advance, veteran squads in chimeras accompanied by Demolisher battle tanks and hellhounds, ready to finish of what remained of the Shattered Silence kabal. Then the dark eldar airforce arrived.


Unfortunately for Vasilevsky, in the opening salvoes of the attack the dark eldar had very carefully and deliberately eliminated their enemy's anti aircraft capability, destroying them with modified chemical compounds fired from their usually toxin firing weaponry. This initial strike proved devastating, as although the dark eldar ground forces were in disarray, their aircraft swept over the imperial lines facing determined but inaccurate ground fire from the Librian defenders. The alien craft quickly targetted the basilisk batteries, destroying a few but making it almost impossible for them to maintain effective accurate fire.


As dawn broke over the battlefield the fight was in the balance. The dark eldar had mauled the imperial forces with persistent air strikes, but the aliens were lagging behind on the ground. Brutal close quarter firefights broke out infront of the Librian lines as the dark eldar inched forward. Withering fire from veteran squads and battle tanks kept most of the eldar warriors pinned to the open ground, but somehow the aliens managed to make the most of every undulation of the ground to take cover. Another day of hard fighting followed, but the imperial defenders would not budge. The defence lines had held, although the alien aircraft continued to take their toll on equipment and men alike. By the evening the fighting petered out and the Shattered Silence retreated back into the forests of the Hephath Valley. On paper Vasilevsky had achieved a victory, but in reality his troops had taken a battering in a war of attrition the eldar simply lost the stomach for. The imperial general began reviewing provisions for air defence and requested more squadrons of imperial navy thunderbolts to deal with the threat from above, while waiting for the next inevitable strike from the aliens.


Orks continue advance on Hylas

With the lost of much of the west coast of Hylas, general Gault prepared to meet the next assault from the orks. This necessarily meant concentrating his forces, which the imperial commander did in the north to prevent the orks from breaking out towards Sarin or North Eton.

Unfortunately for Gault, the next ork thrust came from the region of Beng, open country where the orks could use their mobility and speed to rapidly cross the Birego plains.

Gault was unwilling and in any case unable to free much in the way of forces to counter this latest thrust, as he was keen to keep the orks as far south as possible, away from the Sump Sea and an assault on Tennyson. In the end the Red Angels decided to take their own initiative against Thrugnik, and sent in infantry forces on 1811.012M42.

Thrugnik's orks, well equipped and highly mobile with overwhelming air support, confidently drove towards the thin red line of astartes, opening fire long before they were in range. The Red Angels, though returning fire with a stubborn determination, were hopelessly outclassed by the green skin horde and almost strafed into annihilation by the ork air forces.

The south of Beng fell in just two days and within a week the orks were making inroads into the eastern districts of Birego. Gault wasn't overly concerned but his superior, Lord General Brooke, began to ask serious questions about the Red Angels. Why were they always so ill equipped and what made them so insistent on taking on impossible tasks? In the meantime Brooke contacted the Salamanders and the Adeptis Mechanicus. He desperately wanted to reinforce Gault on Hylas and break the orks here, before the Waaagh! Descended on a more important world.


Eldar raid Grimlock

On 2111.012M42 the eldar once again played their hand in a campaign that at first glance they had no interest in. They knew that general Veers had launched his latest crusade, albeit slowly, against the chaos world of Grimlock, the last major chaos world in the Zadoc subsector. They also knew that hive fleet Nemesis would soon turn towards the Grimlock system and attempt to devour it utterly. Once again the ancient capricious race decided to intervene, although their motives were not understood for several weeks.

The eldar corsairs, chosen for their particular skill at hit and run raiding, fell upon the Death Guard at the Hakargh defence complex, deep in the centre of the planet's main land mass. The installation had been one of General Veers' biggest concerns, as it was nigh on impossible to approach undetected, and only a suicide mission would have a chance to put the facility, responsible for the overall command and control of the chaos defences, out of action.


The news that the eldar had attacked this facility came as a pleasant surprise to the imperial general, however some hours later the more depressing news of an eldar massacre at the hands of the Death Guard dampened the old general's spirits somewhat. Hakargh still stood, its communication and sensor arrays intact and undiminished in their capacity to frustrate Veers' developing invasion plans, but the eldar had at least tried. Veers hoped their assistance wouldn't be a one off, and that the aliens would return in greater numbers to aid his campaign against chaos, planned to commence in earnest in just two more weeks.

Orks raid Aornis

As if the Iron Warriors didn't have enough problems with the Tyranid invasion, then in late 011.M42 the orks arrived. Loyal to warboss Thrugnik a large raiding party of greenskins crash landed in shallow seas near Gorton Cove, but despite taking moderate casualties wasted no time in launching assaults on two of Aornis's main settlements. The orks transported themselves by air, boat and tellyporta, far faster than the forces of Chaos thought possible. 

At Walpole, an out of the way settlement but none the less rich in industrial resources, the forces of Thrugnik easily brushed aside the Death Guard defenders and systematically looted the area, plundering the many factoriums and mines which surrounded the city. While the orks made profit here, loading their kroozers in orbit with as much precious cargo as possible, the raid on Baldwin went less well. Here the Iron Warriors had built up the city's defences and Stahl's men were there in person.


The Iron Warriors went about their business of defence with their usual alacrity. The traitor marines were aable to concentrate the ork attacks into well prepared lines of fire, and after several hours of bloody fighting the orks gave up their assault, having seen their vanguard forces annihilated by the guns of the city's defenders. Thrugnik's boyz then left Aornis, satisfied at a moderately successful venture into the Rim Worlds once again, the Iron Warriors unable to pursue them out of orbit with their inferior numbers in space. In ork circles Thrugnik was becoming the warboss on the rise, his waagh! becoming large enough to challenge the rule of Uzfang, while Warsmith Stahl remained unquestionably Master of Chaos, but a master of an ever shrinking and embattled domain.



Monday, November 12, 2012

The trials of Chaos

The final blow on Carnage fell on 1011.012M42 when the necrons made their final push towards the last remaining chaos held settlement. By this time the Claws of Lorek and Iron Warriors had abandonned the world, and it fell to the Death Guard, a relatively minor faction in the Perseus Deeps to hold out for as long as possible as the last important items of equipment and favoured devotees of the dark gods were shipped hurridly off world.

The Death Guard defended admirably, forcing the necrons to advance along corridors of fire they had carefully prepared, and the aliens found them a tougher opponent than many they had so far faced. The blessings of Nurgle kept the necrons at bay for a while, but eventually superior firepower overwhelmed the traitor legion and the last settlement on the world fell. For the remaining half a million cultists and the general population of the minor world of Carnage, a new horror began, the endless servitude and slavery enforced on them by the Harakhty dynasty as Carnage became another outpost in the ever expanding necron empire.

Meanwhile the assault on Grimlock by Veers had not made much progress since the initial reconnaissance landings several weeks earlier. Problems with logistics had slowed the transfer of reinforcements to a trickle, and the initial landing perimeter had barely expanded since the Corellian Guard had established the primary invasion base. The Red Angels had pulled out, so now Veers was forced to wait while the supply chain slowly swung into force.

Much of the problem was the distances involved. The loss of Tarsis Major and Nemesis in the Rim Worlds made it hazardous to resupply from Caitlen Station in the Zadoc subsector. Troop convoys were forced to go the long way round from Corticant and Farport, a journey of weeks rather than days, and the main concentration of forces Veers had allocated to the renewed invasion was still mustering on Bastien. In addition the Iron Warriors had fortified Grimlock and chose to remain behind their defences, making the world a much tougher nut to crack than had been anticipated.

The Space Wolves intervened on 1211.012M42 on their own initiative. Seeing an opportunity to hasten the demise of chaos a significant force of Astartes launched an assault on several defensive installations around the planet, with the main focus being to inhibit as much as possible the Iron Warriors capability to threaten further invasion forces. This inevitably led to violent clashes as the Space Wolves descended on the heavily guarded fortress installations.

The main objective of the Space Wolves, the massive defence laser silos of Khandagar, saw the heaviest fighting. As soon as the genetically enhanced warriors of the imperium had landed, the Iron Warriors launched a swift counter attack, led by Warsmith Stahl himself and his elite guard. This proved a difficult test for the Space Wolves, but one they ultimately passed. Despite fighting heroically in front of their hastily constructed temporary defences, some of the victory gained by the Imperium was down to sheer luck, or possibly the whim of the dark gods. In the heat of the battle, as Stahl ploughed forward like an unstoppable leviathan, something in his biological and technological upgrades, of which he had many, went seriously wrong. The space marines and traitors alike were witness to the bizarre spectacle of the warsmith careering around the battlefield like a maddened grox, thrashing wildly at anything and anyone in his path.

If the sight of their warsmith going out of control affected the Iron Warriors in any way, they didn't display any hesitation in continuing the assault. However, the Space Wolves made the most of the opportunity, refusing to give ground and holding on long enough to complete their mission. Having destroyed the laser silos Grimlock now stood defenceless for a renewed imperial assault. Stahl was last seen thrashing and twitching on the floor, but the imperium doubted the warsmith had suffered a terminal injury.

Nemesis reaches Aornis

Almost a month after the fall of Rhesius and New Sparta, Aornis came under attack from the splinter hive fleet of Nemesis which had been remorselessy driving through the Rim worlds consuming everything in its path. Somehow Daedalon and Priam had been spared, but three inhabited worlds in the cluster had succumbed. The invasion of Aornis came as no surprise to the chaos forces, as it was clear the path the splinter fleet was taking, and the time delay corresponded exactly with expectations.

Aornis itself suffered serious tectonic shifts as the hive fleet approached, giving ample forewarning of the attack. In response the Iron Warriors reinforced the world, sending hordes of fanatical cultists to fight to the last, and units of experienced traitor astartes to try to halt the hive fleet. Thok, Traegen and Lorek were loathe to send any form of fleet assistance however, as they were too busy ensuring the defences of Mordecai were as strong as possible. The forces of chaos would have to defeat Nemesis on the surface of Aornis itself.

The reinforcements were large in number, but the force put on the world in just one day by the tyranids was astounding. Very quickly the Iron Warriors found their outer defence lines overrun and were forced to retreat to secondary bastions. The battles became exceptionally bloody, with the Iron Warriors launching a counter offensive along the entire front line on 1011.012M42. Despite vigorous prosecution of the assault, it was to no avail. The tyranids just kept pouring more and more creatures into the breaches created and very soon the local chaos commander realised the continued offensive was a battle of attrition they couldn't hope to win. The offensive was cancelled and the Iron Warriors retreated behind their defences, determined to make the tyranids pay in considerable biomass for every inch of ground on Aornis.

This in effect was the strategy of many of the races facing the tyranid threat. If Nemesis couldn't be destroyed it could be "convinced" that the price of victory was too high on certain worlds. Unfortunately the strength of Nemesis had so far overwhelmed all opponents, and only on Fort Sparcos were the tyranids finding a more stubborn foe. In imperial circles general Brooke was becoming ever more worried. The loss of Betor and Alphe had been painful, as had the fiasco on Rhesius, but now the splinter tendril in the Rim worlds pointed in an uncomfortable direction, towards the bastion worlds of the subsector, Zadoc and Libria.

Eldar interfere on Fort Sparcos

The continued encroachment of hive fleet Nemesis into the Mabb Nebul had been viewed with growing concern by the eldar as 012M42 drew to a close. The war on Fort Sparcos between the tyranids and the orks had been going on for some time, but ork victories had been few and far between. Nemesis looked likely to eventually consume the world, but instead of pressing home its advantage the hive fleet had recently attacked the tau colony of Va'Doran. Although the tau had successfully defended their world, the eldar worried that Nemesis was somehow losing interest in the orks, and making plans to attack other worlds in the Mabb nebula.

what the eldar feared the most was the hive fleet splinter from Alphe and Betor changing course and discovering the exodite worlds of Mael Kithlan, Shelwe Agir and Saim Lann, which the eldar had spent a lot of time carefully concealing from prying eyes. The tyranids however had senses like no other, and the worlds would eventually be discovered as a potential candidate for consumption unless the fleet's tendrils were kept well away.

The eldar, led by the Rillietan, had been counting on the fall of Fort Sparcos and subsequent invasion of Kallack by Nemesis. The large and populous ork world of Kallack wouldn't fall swiftly, and the eldar would see their two principal threats in the Zadoc subsector pitted against each other in a long and bloody war, one which the eldar hoped to prolong for as long as possible.

The failed invasion of Va'Doran convinced the farseers that the hive fleet's intentions were at odds with their hopes and they resolved to "convince" both the orks and the extra galactic aliens to pursue a long war with each other, one way or another.

The first part of the plan was simple. The Rillietan would strike against the tyranids on Fort Sparcos, dealing them as much damage as possible to make the hive world think the fort was important to them. Previous experience had shown the reaction by the alien organisms was usually aggressive, and Nemesis could be expected to invest more resources into a planetary assault if it was defeated by the eldar.

While the Rillietan conducted this raid, the Shattered Silence and eldar corsairs, allied to the Rillietan cause would strike at Thrugnik's base in the fort itself, causing as much damage as possible before retreating. This should ensure that an envigorated Nemesis would make short work of the defenders and begin the much awaited invasion of Kallack itself.

The first part of the plan went well, with the Rillietan causing significant damage to the tyranid forces found to be ringing the fortress on Sparcos. However in the fort itself, Thrugnik's forces were well equipped and well led. Both raids were defeated by the greenskins, with the corsairs in particular taking heavy casualties. Worse still, the orks decided to take no further risks against their enemies and started an immediate programme to bolster their defences on the planet. The fort became stronger than ever and the eldar plan had failed. There would be no invasion of Kallack in the near future at least.

War on Hylas

Despite defeating the forces of Thrugnik in 10.012M42, large forces loyal to the ork warboss made planetfall in early 011M42, after the imperial navy was forced to return to Hylas reach naval base following their defeat at the hands of the tau. Without enough naval presence in the Hylas system, the orks had almost free reign to reinforce the world with fresh troops whenever they wished.

Thrugnik's forces, though fewer in number than they would have been if it hadn't been for the Blood Angels raid, nevertheless made a significant impact in the war on Hylas very soon after they had landed. Gault had already lost Berkeley to Uzfang some weeks earlier, so the renewed assualt on the West Coast region of Hylas didn't come as a surprise to the Imperial General.

The imperial forces found it difficult to defend on the open plains, validating Gault's strategy of creating bottlenecks to fight the orks, but his attempt to retreat Sarin and Tennys Coast, where the ground was more favourable was denied. Short sighted imperial officials decreed no scrap of ground would be surrendered to the enemy and that the imperial guard must die where they stood. At least in this the guard followed orders.

While Gault's troops did manage to halt the orks west of the Sump Sea, the drive north was opposed by the Librian 212th regiment, a force hastily cobbled together from remnants of other regiments. The force itself was adequately equipped, but lacked any form of air defence. Without any anti-aircraft guns and no cover from the navy, Thrugnik's forces took full advantage. Attacking the Librian positions on the Eton road on 0811.012M42, the battlewagons of the orks rumbled forward. Heavy guns and tanks on the imperial side stopped some, with the demolisher pattern variants proving the most effective against the greenskins. Basilisk artillery was also emploed in force, and when accurate, caused much destruction in the ork ranks.

Shortly after dawn however the first ork air attack came in. Flying low over the battlefield squadrons of ork "Dakkajets" strafed the imperial lines, focussing their attacks on the undefended artillery. The imperial guard were powerless to intervene as their artillery was annihilated in under an hour. Now with their firepower severely curtailed, the Librians were unable to prevent the remaining ork heavy tanks from reaching their lines. Deathrollas, improvised ramming weapons, proved extremely deadly, crushing man and machine as they rolled over the lines. By mid afternoon the imperial line was a scene of carnage, as unable to retreat, the Librians were cut down in close quarter fighting with Thrugnik's Waagh!

The Librian 212th was all but detroyed in the fighting, and West Coast quickly capitulated anyway, despite the imperial orders. Gault prepared his next "halt" line, but without a swift reversal of fortune on Hylas, the world would be lost in a matter of weeks.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Battles in the Deeps

War continued to rage in the Perseus Deeps as 012M42 drew to a close. The invasion of Ares by the eldar once again flared up, with the Imperium suffering heavy losses at the hands of the Shattered Silence kabal of dark eldar. The morale of the guardsmen fighting on the world began to dip, as the war on Ares, previously thought to be won, now became a series of familiar running battles down the narrow corridor of land between Hephath Station and Ares city. The Blood Angels attempted to intervenet to dislodge the dark eldar, but were beaten back. The aliens now had a tenuous foothold in the main settlement of the world, and vicious street battles began.

Meanwhile the blood Angels attempted to turn the tide on Gamordal by striking at crucial necron installations, particularly an active webway portal which the aliens were using to reinforce their forces on the world without needing to use their fleet. If this supply line could be severed the Imperial Guard on the world would have time to dig in and attempt to hold the line, which was steadily falling back to the capital.

Unfortunately the necrons were well prepared for the Blood Angels' attack and the portal was heavily guarded. At one point a brave squad of battle brothers fought their way to the webway entrance itself, but were cut down as they tried to place their melta charges in the few weakspots identified by the Inquisition. With the mission a failure, the imperial forces on Gamordal continued to fight against hopeless odds, and on 0911.012M42 the primary spaceport of Gamordal fell, cutting the remaining imperial defenders off from their supply bases. Though the stranded units promised to fight to the last, without a significant intervention from Veers crusade the world was almost certainly lost to the Harakhty dynasty.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Mordecai under siege

By early 11.012M42 with Carnage almost overrun and the war going badly on Gamordal, it was obvious that the next target in the sights of the Harakhty dynasty would be the chaos fortress world of Mordecai. It was clear the necrons intended to sweep the deeps of their enemies and re-establish their interstellar empire. Mordecai, with its three inhabited worlds and formidable defences, would be a tough nut to crack, but the imperial analyticae thought the necrons would be able to do so within six months, given the strength of the chaos forces in the region, so long as the formidable fleets of Tragean, Thok and Lorek could be put out of action.

The imperium needed to know just how strong the defences of Mordecai were. If the necrons were to gain control of the system then Corticant and Bastien would be next. If it was deemed that chaos were strong, the imperium was more than happy to let the two sides battle it out for years or decades. However, if the chaos defences were found wanting, then General Veers would be directed to cancel the invasion of Grimlock and instead plan for an assault on Mordecai.

Admiral Jellicoe had grave misgivings about this strategy. The chaos fleet had still not been reduced and should they meet once again, the naval vessels of the imperium and chaos risked mutual annihilation, allowing the necrons almost a free hand at Mordecai. However, the loss of Mordecai to the necrons due to the weakness of chaos could not be tolerated in any event, although senior command balked at the idea of aiding chaos in their struggle.

To test the Mordecai defences a small force of Blood Angels agreed to go on a sabotage mission into the Mordecai system, succesfulyy landing on the outer planet of Mordecai Tersius without interception by the chaos fleet. The Blood Angels moved in force against the mining complex known as Khorne's Pit, but found the Iron Warriors present and in numbers. the chaos marines counter attacked this invading force, wuickly overwhelming the small Blood Angel contingent. With great haste the astartes force withdrew, reporting that contrary to reports, the forces of chaos were in far better shape than previously thought. The invasion of Mordecai was shelved for the time being.

The eldar however had no confidence in Mordecai's ability to hold out against the necron invasion, especially considering they knew that beneath the mines of Mordecai Tersius lay a sleeping monster. Once a major world of the necron empire, thousands of dormant warriors and their equipment lay inactive just a few hundred metres beneath the deepest mine. Realising that these forces would ensure the collapse of Mordecai even more quickly, the eldar launched their own raid against the mining outpost, using the webway to deliver their warriors directly into the field of battle.

Once again the Iron Warriors were able to meet the threat, despite the fact the eldar were actually trying to disable their greatest enemy, something the eldar were unwilling to share with the chaos forces. The eldar reasoned that if the Iron Warriors found out about the tomb world, they would try to access it themselves, no doubt waking the hibernating enemy up and generally precipitating their own doom. Arrogant or not, the eldar would have to destroy the sleeping necrons themselves.

The eldar fought with determined vigour as they approached the mines, but were halted in their tracks by a fanatical resistance by the local chaos cultist forces. No matter how hard the eldar tried they could not shift the dogged defenders and gain access to the mines. The delay ensured chaos reinforcements, led by Stahl himself, were deployed against the raiders, blasting them from short range and quickly precipitating an eldar retreat back into the webway.

In the space of a week the Iron Warriors had fought off two raids on their mining outpost. Now, under the orders of Stahl, the fleet was brought up to directly protect Mordecai Tersius, however they were still as yet blind to the fact that beneath their feet there was a timebomb just waiting to be activated. Now at last the eldar considered making this fact more public...