Sunday, May 20, 2012

Calliden Current

Stalemate on Gabriel's World

During the latter half of 05.012M42 General Pollack was unable to make headway against the Orks. On 1705.012M42 a sudden surprise attack out of the southern mountainous region, taking the Red Angel company stationed at the southern extreme of Imperial control by surprise. As usual the Red Angels lacked significant vehicle support, which was the primary reason why Pollack requested the Astartes act as sentries, and as the day wore on the massed horde of Greenskins began to overwhelm the Astartes positions. The Red Angels were only saved by the sudden onset of darkness and the planet's ionizing radiation, which made continuing the advance impossible.

During the night the Red Angels withdrew. As the morning of 1805.012M42 began the extent of the greenskin assault became apparent. The low hills where the mountains reached the plains were overrun with Orks and their equipment, and the army created huge plumes of smoke and dust around it. From the city of Gabriel's landing the entire Ork horde then came into view as the mass of aliens poured onto the plain, supported by Stompas and hundreds of crude tanks.

Fortunately Pollack had an ample reserve force to deal with such an attack. Finally the orks had shown their hand and appeared on terrain favourable to his forces, although the size of the ork force caused more than a few raised eyebrows.

Pollack could call on the help of two companies of Salamanders, several Guard regiments and three precious titans from the Legio Crucius, and in the ensuing battle the actions of the Reaver and two Warhound companions were critical.

The ork horde charged forward on a broad front, entering the outskirts of Gabriel's Landing on 1905.012M42. Pollack decided to send the Salamanders out in front to blunt the Ork attack, while keeping his Guard in reserve. Supported by the titans, the veteran space marines performed well, but were almost overwhelmed by the savagery of the ork attack. In the end superior firepower from the titans (if not superior accuracy from the Reaver) turned the tide, thinning out the ork mobs and allowing the Salamanders to break them up. Gabriel's Landing had been saved, but with Da Verminator's forces joining those native to the Vastrid subsector, Pollack now had a war to fight.

Sentinel falls to the Eldar

Alarming news reached General Ritchie at his Sentinel HQ on 1605.012M42 as both his own scouts in the Librian 87th and the Space Wolves reported sighting mighty Eldar warmachines which could only be titans. This could only mean the Eldar were preparing a major offensive, and Ritchie gathered a council of war with the Colonels of his Librian and Praetorian regiments, the Space Wolves and the Red Angels, who still managed to field a company despite recent losses.

The strategic position was poor, with the main Eldar force apparently massing between the spaceport and the main Sentinel compound. If left unchecked, a determined Eldar thrust would be able to force its way through the gap and bisect Imperial forces. The loss of Sentinel would then be inevitable without significant reinforcement, and General Veers on Corticant was not at liberty to provide such rescue.

The senior staff on Sentinel discussed battle plans, initially favouring the plan put forward by the Colonel of the Librian 19th Armoured regiment. This plan would see the bulk of the Imperial tanks, supported by three super heavy vehicles, plugging the vulnerable plain and launching an all out charge on their enemy. Then the Space Wolves would drop behind the Eldar and take the spaceport. It was a high risk strategy which put the Librians at risk of having their tanks decimated, but the Imperial Colonel was adamant it would work.

In the end however General Ritchie baulked at such a risk. The titans tipped his decision in favour of a rolling defence. The Space Wolves would still drop in behind enemy lines to capture the vital spaceport, but the new plan was centred around a robust defence of the Imperial compound by the Praetorians. The Librians would be held mostly in reserve to hit the Eldar on the counter attack as they committed their forces.

On 1905.012M42 the final showdown for Sentinel began. As the Eldar appeared through the mist it was obvious the reports had been right, as the warhost was supported by two Revenant titans, which stalked over the battlefield like angry gods. As expected the Praetorians took heavy punishment, but Ritchie still had his reserves and the Space Wolves were waiting in orbit for the opportunity to strike.

As the day wore on, the Praetorians took more and more punishment from the Eldar, a situation not helped by the sudden appearance of the Shattered Silence kabal of Dark Eldar. Throughout the battle Eldar and Dark Eldar fliers dominated the skies, and Ritchie's army suffered greatly from a lack of anti-aircraft fire or air support. Gritting his teeth and with a scowl on his face, Ritchie called on the Librians to advance and take the Eldar in the flank.

Before the command could be obeyed, the Imperium was thrown off balance by a sudden flanking manouevre by the Eldar themselves. Wraithguard and Wraithlords suddenly appeared behind the Librian lines, wiping out much of the lead armoured elements and one of the super heavy tanks. Furious, Ritchie committed the first wave of his reserves. At first this was successful, as armoured fist squads quickly dealt with the Eldar flanking force. The two Shadowsword super heavy tanks however were totally outclassed by the Eldar titans and super heavy Lynx skimmers. Both succumbed to withering firepower before they could do much damage to the titans in return.

As night approached it was clear the Imperial forces were in trouble. The Praetorian defences at the Imperial Compound had collapsed, and Eldar were swarming all over the shattered ruins. In desparation Ritchie sent in his remaining reserves to help the hard pressed Praetorians, but his Hellhounds and Leman Russ were quickly annihilated by the fury of the Revenant's guns. The rest were torn apart by the Shattered Silence, whose sadistic killers were now butchering the guard squads as they tumbled from their ruined transports. The Praetorians died where they stood in disciplined ranks, and the colonel of the Librian 87th was cut down as he fled from single combat with a Dark Eldar lord.

Late in the day the Space Wolves enacted their part of the plan, successfully taking one of their two objectives. However it was far too little, too late. The Imperial guard had been annihilated, and the two titans now stalked the battlefield unchallenged. Ritchie's plan had utterly failed, and Sentinel had been lost. As his time ran out he blamed his own troops, his equipment, and the superiority of the enemy forces, but deep down he knew it was his plan. He should have been bolder and less intimidated by the titans, and it was a mistake which had cost the lives of thousands of his men, and his own. As the Eldar approached the Imperial HQ and the Space Wolves evacuated for the last time, Ritchie knew how he would die as he heard the sound of jackboots approach calmly behind him. The commissar had arrived.

Necron unstoppable advance

As 05.012M42 progressed, the Necron advance didn't slow, and the alien warriors pushed ever deeper into Chaos held territory. More refugees fled to the supposed safety of the cities in the east, and Lucius and Velorur soon became swamped by terrified people, many of whom were accidentally freed slaves, set free by their masters once they themselves had moved north and east. Many were less fortunate, slaughtered out of hand by their overlords to prevent their use by the advancing Necrons.

Once again the Iron Warriors tried to bolster the defences of the Chaos forces in southern Calliden, but they were hampered by the factional nature of the world's government, as well as the eldar invasion in the Midland region. Even so, the Iron Warriors made a determined stand at Lucius, once again without success, and the city was quickly surrounded and taken. Much of the Chaos force was however evacuated to Seguinius, an island off the southern continent, thanks to the Iron Warriors stubborn resistance.

By 2005.012M42 the Iron Warriors had been forced back to the narrowest part of the landmass connecting Midland to Tarsh, following another heavy defeat in the plains in front of Velorur. Here the forces of Chaos were given a respite as the Necrons consolidated their gains and made plans for a renewed offensive. If the Necrons were to be held it would have to be here, before they took the whole of the south.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

New offensives in the Radeon Cluster

In early 05.012M42 the on-off war in the Vastrid sector once again erupted into life as General Pollack was keen to make progress in the Radeon Cluster. The cluster contained several key worlds which if held by the enemy, would provide them with a convenient "back door" to the vital worlds of Vastrid and Gateway.

The arrival of the Prozan Regiments in the sector provided Pollack with the fresh forces he needed to retake the initiative, particularly on the contested system of Gabriel's World. For months the planet had been locked in a stagnating war, with the Imperium controlling the lion's share of the habitable zones, while orks continued to infest the more rugged terrain to the north and south of the equatorial zone. More problematic was the Shattered Silence kabal, who had established a base in the cave system of Hadrada, only 100km from the main Imperial settlement.

Pollack decided to turn north and to defeat both his enemies in a simultaneous offensive. The Librian Guard he had were sent in to contain and destroy the Dark Eldar, while the Orks would face the wrath of the airborne Prozan Cavalry. The assault was a moderate affair, but important to Pollack. He yearned for a larger role in the campaign and hoped one day to take over from General Veers in the Perseus Deeps, a hope ignited by Veers' failure to keep up the momentum of the Crusade.

The Librians engaged the Shattered Silence in the ruins of an old settlement around the mouth of the cave system, before hellhound tanks could get their murderous muzzles into the caves themselves. The Dark Eldar attacked in a tight formation, driving a hole in the Librian line and threatening to split the advance in two. However the Librian armour was a difficult nut to crack, and concentrated fire from hellhounds and Leman Russ ensured that the Dark Eldar, despite their initial success, were unable to push the Imperials back. They came very close to a total defeat, but just as it seemed the Librians would mop them up, the aliens withdrew into the caves. Sometime later penal squads were sent in to investigate, finding no trace of the xenos. Clearly the Shattered Silence had decided against maintaining a presence on the world, now that Pollack had reinforced.

The attack against the Orks went less well. The Prozans flew into battle as heroically as ever, but the Orks responded by charging out of their defended positions towards the flying tanks. This ought to have sealed their doom, but the presence of a deranged mekboy quickly explained why much of the firepower launched against the greenskins seemed to have no effect. The Mek's kustom forcefield protected enough of the Orks for the Waagh! to take hold, and those Valkyries and Vendettas unfortunate enough to be shot down had their crews and passengers savagely butchered. The remaining Prozan troops eventually abandonned the attack after several hours of dogged fighting, allowing the Orks to occupy territory a little closer to the Imperial settlements. Pollack would need more than one regiment of Prozans to root out the greenskin filth and claim the world as pacified in the name of the Emperor.

While the Imperium was fighting on Gabriel's world, the Shattered Silence were once again trying to remove the Necron force from Drift in order to secure it as a base of operations. They had tried before and failed, and on 0805.012M42 they tried again, using the reinforcements from Gabriel's World to launch a major assault against the main Necron tomb complex. Once again they were defeated, as the Necrons implacably defended their stronghold. The irony was that the necrons weren't even particularly interested in the Vastrid subsector, as their major axis of advance was still centred on the Perseus Deeps and would be for some time. Perhaps defeating the Dark Eldar and scuppering their plans merely appealled to whatever was left of the Necron sense of humour.

Imperial defeats in the Perseus Deeps

As 05.012M42 began Veer's had been optimistic. Although Gamador had been invaded by the Necrons, he finally had the forces to deal with them, while on Sentinel, the forces of Chaos had been vanquished and the Eldar had suffered defeats. Now he tasked General Ritchie with the final drive to rid Sentinel of the Xenos, while on Gamador he asked the Prozans to deal with the Necron threat.

Unfortunately the Prozan cavalry had never faced the Necron xenos before, and their attack from Port Secundus ended in disaster. The Valkyries of the regiment were easily swatted from the sky by the Necron weaponry, and the infantry stood no chance against the aliens. After just three hours of fighting the Prozan assault had been all but annihilated, and the Necrons moved swiftly to capitalise on their victory, overrunning Port Secundus, leaving Port Tertius as the only remaining servicable spaceport.

Veers received further bad news from Sentinel only a day later. While Ritchie was planning his next move the Rillietan Eldar somehow managed to get past the Imperial sentry points during the hours of darkness, and as dawn broke, launched a devastating assault on the south of the space port complex. The Librian Mechanised regiment was caught completely by surprise, and losses were horrific. Despite losing almost all their vehicles in practically the opening volley, the Colonel of the XXX regiment led his men in an heroic, if vain fight back, personally charging a mighty ELdar wraithlord.

The initial losses had been too severe however, and the regiment was all but wiped out. In response Ritchie had no option but to abandon the south of the Space port complex once more, once again cutting off precious supplies from his army.

Chaos suffer further losses

The bitter fighting on Calliden continued as 05.012M42 began, as the Necrons continued their seemingly unstoppable offensive. With the failure of their daemonic plans, the lords of Bellatrix were deposed in spectacular style by the sorcerer's of the city, their golden palace reduced to glowing slag by the force of psychic energy thrown against it. With their leaders removed, the populace of Bellatrix called for aid, and the Iron Warriors, desparate to maintain their supply bases on Calliden, reacted swiftly.

The traitor marines counter-attacked the Necrons south of the Neck, covering hundreds of miles to the west in a few days as the Necron resistance was found to be much lighter than expected. Then, on 0405.012M42, the aliens attacked again, from the east. Unknown to the Iron Warriors the Necrons had bypassed Bellatrix then swept south, behind the main Iron Warriors' force. Realising too late, the chaos legion turned and faced their enemy, desparate to break through the noose which was now bwing tightened around their position. After a week of brutal fighting there was barely anything left of the Iron Warriors' force, and the defenders of the rapidly shrinking Tarsh pocket seemed more doomed with every passing hour. With the Iron Warriors' counter attack smashed to pieces, the Necrons faced little resistance as they moved into Bellatrix, finding much of the city deserted as its citizens had mostly fled before the alien onslaught.

Further north the Eldar continued to expand their bridgehead, finally reaching the sea of Tarsh on 0605.012M42, and laying the three cities of ?,? and ? under seige. The Eldar battered the re-equipped Covenant of Damnation forces on the plains of the Neck, leaving a swathe of scorched earth, littered with burning vehicles and equipment. Although the Eldar had been unable, or unwilling, to take any major city, their deployment now lay directly across the Necron advance and put all the Chaos forces of the south in dire peril.

Raid on Carnage

The Chaos world of Carnage came under sustained attack between 0605.012M42 and 1505.012M42, as Dark Eldar raiders suddenly appeared out of previously unkown warp gates, destroying installations and taking hundreds of indentured workers captive. These appeared to be the usual raids and not related to the Eldar or the Rillietan, but if the Dark Eldar were looking for an easy target, they had underestimated the defences of Carnage, a lesson which they soon learnt when the Iron Warriors and two full regiments of the Covenant of Damnation moved in to put an end to the orgy of destruction.

The Iron Warriors ruthlessly annihilated the Dark Eldar, before the Covenant of Damnation forces mopped up the rest. Presumably the Kabal carrying out the raid had failed to gather sufficient intelligence on their target, as Carnage had been substantially reinforced from Grimlock and Mordecai, as the Iron Warriors attempted to fortify all the worlds under chaos control, reacting to the invasion of Calliden and assuming, probably correctly, that the other worlds they controlled would be on the Necron target list. Whatever the reason, the Dark Eldar suffered a horrible setback, and the raids soon stopped.