Sunday, July 08, 2012

Rhesius Invasion

By early 07.012M42 General Alexander had managed to build up the forces of his battlegroup to go on the offensive in the Zadoc subsector. Alexander was acutely aware of the scrutiny he was now under from his superiors and the Commisariat. At his disposal Alexander had the naval battlegroup of Commodore Clinton-Baker, led by the powerful Oberon class battleship Royal Sovereign. His ground forces had swelled to include twelve Librian regiments, five Prozan regiments, several specialised reserve companies and the aid of at least two Space Marine companies from the Dark Angels and Ultramarines chapters.

Although this force sounded formidable, Alexander was still forced to fight a war on many fronts and two main theatres. He knew this wasn't something he could do simultaneously. His naval forces would have to be concentrated to achieve overwhelming force, and even then a concerted attack from his enemies may overwhelm Clinton-Baker's battlegroup.

In the Mabb nebula Imperial forces were fighting hard to maintain their bridgehead on Va Doran, but wider strategy made the Rim worlds a higher priority. By striking the last vestige of the Chaos Empire, Caitlen Station would be relieved of its constant watch against Moonface and his allies, and Grimlock could be invaded. If Grimlock could be taken, the Zadoc subsector would be cleared of the Chaos threat, and General Veers would be able to re-start his campaign in the Perseus Deeps, as the remaining Chaos strongholds in the region would be totally isolated. In the Mabb Nebula defeat of the Tau and Orks was desirable, but would take more careful planning and thought. For now the Imperial forces on Va Doran would have to wait to be resupplied.

Imperial strategists determined that Rhesius would make the ideal base of operations. The hot and mainly desert covered world was once a home for pirates and outlaws, before its invasion by the Tau in 008M42. That occupation itself only lasted three months, before the Night Lords established their dominance and set up a Chaos worshipping government. However, since the decline of the Chaos Empire's power, Imperial intelligence estmated that the belligerent forces on the world had dwindled to perhaps a company or two of Traitor Marines and less than a regiment of planetary defeders. As a Chaos world, there remained the danger of summoned daemons, and as Alexander's battlegroup approach, there was a heated discussion over what to do with Imperial regiments should they be exposed to the denizens of the warp.

The battleplan for the invasion was simple and centred around the two major settlements that the half a million strong population of Rhesius clustered around. The capital Simius, and the second city McCak, were situated close to the equator near tropical oases, the only sources of water on the otherwise barren world. In addition, Alexander knew that to take the world quickly, he would need to neutralise the threat from the defence lasers which covered the twin cities.

The Ultramarines chapter were sent in just ahead of the main force, peeling away from the fleet and speeding towards their target. The Astartes warriors landed on 0507.012M42 and began a lightning assault against the Rhesius defence lasers. The Conquerers of Gorgoroth reacted swiftly, counter attcking using their highly mobile elite marines, but the Ultramarines were able to block their advance. Vicious fighting erupted, but the defence lasers were destroyed, allowing Alexander's main battleforce to deploy and set up a defended perimeter between the major cities.

The next phase of the invasion saw a double advance. Intelligence identified that the major enemy force concentrations were situated in the city of McCak, so Alexander sned the bulk of his invasion force, the Librian 86th and the Dark Angels, towards this objective. Meanwhile the Prozan Cavalry were detailed to launch a lightning assault against the capital, as the defenders there seemed to consist of a few thousand poorly equipped cultists.

The assault on McCak started well, but the expected counter assault happened as the Imperium reached the ruins of the original Rhesius Tau base. Forces of the Anticross and the Claws of Lorek attacked in a wide front, advancing towards the Imperial forces across the jungle terrain. The Chaos forces however lacked significant long range firepower, and the Dark Angels and Librian forces worked together to maximise their effectiveness. The Imperial Guard forces were able to outflank the Claws of Lorek while the Dark Angels fought a vicious action in the centre of the front line. Meanwhile on the left flank Anticross forces wiped out the thinly spread Librians, but this had been the intention all along. The Anticross, despite the utilisation of the corruptig power of the warp, were unable to redeploy their forces quickly, and massed battle cannon fire from Librian Leman Russ battle tanks caused carnage in their ranks.

By 0707.012M42 Alexander's invasion force had captured the city of McCak with fairly light casualties, while decimating their enemy. Unfortunately in Simius the Prozan Cavalry were suddenly surprised by the summoning of a daemonic host, as Alexander had feared. The battle centred on an important icon of Chaos which the Imperium had identified was the reason so many daemons could be summoned so easily, but despite repeated attacks the Prozans were unable to wrestle the arcane device from the Chaos forces defending the city. Even so the Prozan's fought tenaciously and the majority of the daemonic forces were obliterated. However the Prozan's lost a large number of men and most of their airborne equipment, and the assault on the capital was called off. Alexander surrounded the city and began preparations for a second assault, hoping the failure of the Prozan attack wouldn't allow time for Admiral Thok or the Catechism fleet to intervene on Rhesius.

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