Sunday, March 18, 2012

War on Sentinel

The war on Sentinel ramped up significantly as 03.012M42 progressed. General Veers had finally convinced his superiors that the Iron Warrior/Enraptured, and now eldar threat were significant, and Veers was given two regiments of Librian Guard on top of the Cerberex regiments he already had deployed. Also concerned by the alien intervention, the Space Wolves committed a battleforce, while the Dark Angels were appalled by the re-appearance of the Iron Warriors, and matched the Space Wolf commitment.

No sooner had the new Imperial forces landed than the eldar struck. From the Vaderim mountains a mobile force of eldar swept into the plain of Nireen, outflanking the Dark Angels who were moving towards the Ning'bo tomb complex. The Dark Eldar moved to counter this threat, but were unable to prevent the aliens from taking the complex and forcing the Dark Angels into full retreat.

General Ritchie, a veteran of Imperial successes on Bastien and Parthenope, was sent to command the Imperial Guard forces on Sentinel. His first act was to deploy the well equipped 41st Librian mechanised regiment to the spaceport, while keeping the 386th Infantry close to the Governor's Palace out of fear of attack from the Iron Warriors to the north. The 41st regiment, aided by the heavy guns of Leman Russ, and boasting full transport capacity, were well able to deal the eldar a heavy blow if they attacked the spaceport. On 1703.012M42, the eldar did attack, but instead of facing the all too familiar yellow of the craftworld eldar operating in the Perseus Deeps, the purple and black garb worn by their enemy identified them as the much feared Rillietan. Ritchie now had a real fight on his hands.

The Imperial guard defending the spaceport were aided by the dense terrain they were defending, as the eldar had to cross open ground to make their assault. They paid dearly in blood for this first assault, as raiders and smaller vehicles were swatted from the sky by accurate Leman Russ fire and massed multilaser s which lit up the dawn sky with their fiery glow. However, as the Rillietan reached the now ruined infrastructure around the spaceport, the extra cover protected them from the worst of the Imperial fire, despite some imaginative use of windows by at least one Leman Russ tank commander.

As the battle wore on, the Librians found they could not deal the killing blow they needed to against the eldar, and at close range the Librian tanks began to suffer. Several were destroyed and Ritchie was forced to order a retreat from the southern end of the spaceport. He realised that to lose the spaceport would be to invite disaster on Sentinel as it would render supply all but impossible. The veteran general immediately began plans to retake the vital installation.

While Ritchie prepared a counter attack, the Rillietan had moved north and west, striking swiftly and without warning at the key objective of the Sentinel Prime compound, held by the forces of chaos. Here they found the way barred by the Iron Warriors, who doggedly gave battle in the ruined streets of the city. However it was on the plains to the west of the city that the key battle took place, and the Iron Warriors were barely able to halt the advance of the eldar. By 2003.012M42, much of the compound had fallen to the aliens, and the Iron Warriors were retreating back towards the scrap recycling facility.

Further east the Iron Warriors enjoyed more success. The Space Wolves had arrived intent on dealing with the eldar, but upon deploying at the Caverns of Aargash, they found the forces of chaos already infiltrating the vast underground chambers and overground warren of tangled hills and valleys. Here the Space Wolves attacked, but the Iron Warriors were well equipped and stubborn. In a few days fighting the commander of the Space Wolves realised he was losing the battle of attrition, and retreat to more defensible positions was the only viable option. By 2003.012M42 the caverns were in the hands of chaos.

Ritchie's counter-attack took place on 2103.012M42, led by the mobile elements of the 41st mechanised regiment which he had kept back in the Alenia hills. This armoured assault across the rolling plains to the south west of the Alenia hills represented Ritchie's only mobile reserve. Victory was essential. Ritchies armoured spearhead soon encountered a fully mechanised eldar force defending the open ground to the south of the spaceport. A furious tank battle ensued, but the highly manouverable eldar tanks proved difficult targets for the Imperial gunners, and their holofield technology confounded all but the most dogged and persistant shots.

Although the eldar proved difficult to pin down, they in turn found it difficult to overcome the thick armour defending the Imperial tanks, and as the battle wore on it became evident that neither side was achieving any great success. In a calculated gamble, the eldar threw in their infantry anti tank teams, hoping to smash the chimeras carrying the Imperial infantry, depriving the Leman Russ of their support and massacring the guardsmen inside. It didn't work. For some reason the Fire Dragons failed utterly in their mission, not managing to destroy even one enemy vehicle, and just immobilising one. Imperial hellhounds made short work of the eldar infantry, and the action brought the eldar tanks into short range for the Librian heavy armour. Finally Ritchie's tanks began hitting their mark, and one by one the eldar vehicles were reduced to wrecks. Seeing the battle had turned against them, the eldar used their superior speed to withdraw from the field, yielding the spaceport and the Ning'bo road to the Librians.

By 2203.012M42 the situation on Sentinel was confused. The Imperium had crucially held on to the Spaceport, but the eldar now controlled the majority of the Sentinel Prime compound, and the Ning'bo Tomb Complex. Chaos still held the Scrap recycling facility and the Caverns of Aargash, but the front lines were tangled and unclear. The Imperium had the upper hand, but the three way war was far from over.

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