Sunday, September 30, 2012

Salamanders quash Tau plans of Tyranteous invasion

With the Imperium fighting orks on Hylas and preoccupied with what the tau considered an uprising on Tyranteous, the tau high command in the Aleph Sector began to consider their options. Their long term strategy had been on hold for a while, but with the fall of Tarsis Major it was now becoming possible for the total isolation of the Zadoc subsector to become a reality. This, they hoped, would convince the powerful worlds of Zadoc, and particularly Libria, to join their cause.

The loss of Alphe and Betor to the tyranid menace had both positive and negative impacts on the tau strategy. on the plus side, the loss of food imports to Zadoc was causing widespread civil unrest, and the Imperium were responding by brutally forcing the inhabitants of Tyranteous to produce more goods, leading to a rebellion here. Both worlds would now be receptive to the messages of the greater good.

On the other hand the uprising had called more forces, especially the astartes to the area. In addition there was general concern that Nemesis, although it appeared to have passed coreward of the Tau interests, bypassing the Mabb Nebula and Tarsis, would return and attack the tau colonies directly.

The tau deliberated for a considerable amount of time before eventually giving the go ahead for an expedition to Tyranteous. The plan was to invade the agri-world while the Imperial forces were occupied at Hollydale, gather an army of disenchanted farmers behind them and hope the Imperium was too weak to interfere against a meaningful tau assault.

Unfortunately for the tau the Imperium was well aware of this plan. Whether through spying or a traitor in the tau midst, General Brooke had become aware of a military build up at Waystation 240, a barren system once thought to be inhabited but now a tau staging post. Brooke couldn't mount much in the way of a strike, but the Salamanders accepted the challenge and within days were in orbit around the tau base.

The tau were not expecting a pre-emptive assault, and their fleet was in transit collecting more forces when the Salamanders' strike cruiser arrived. Lead by captain Fafnir the Salamanders landed and drove rapidly for the centre of the tau base, the tau attempting to put space between themselves and their fast moving adversaries. There was nowhere to retreat to however, and despite maintaining mastery of the skies, the astartes forces ripped the tau apart in close quarter fighting, the strategy to get in close with their enemy working exceptionally well.

After devastating the tau base itself the Salamanders quickly evacuated, leaving a handful of destroyed vehicles behind but very few marine casualties. The tau base was ravaged, putting back the tau invasion plans by weeks and leading the tau high command to question once again their strategy for sustainable expansion in the Aleph Sector.

Uzfang leads the charge on Hylas

In late 09.012M42, while General Brooke was coming to terms with his new promotion to overall commander of the Zadoc subsector, and wondering whether this was indeed a promotion or a death sentence, the orks continued their renewed advance in the Mabb Nebula.

Ork Warlord "Na'Porkleon" had already landed several thousand troops and taken the cities of Brockley and Finlay in an orgy of bloodshed, pushing the Imperial guard back hundreds of miles from the original ork "drop zone" (crash zone). Now, on 2809.012M42, new forces identified as loyal to Uzfang began a terrifying assault on the town of Desmond, which if succesful would take all of West Hallen and firmly entrench the greenskins on the planet.

With the Imperial Guard reeling at the ferocity of the ork attack, it was left to the astartes to halt the tidal wave now breaking over the defenders. Brooke detailed General Gault to take overall command on Hylas, and the veteran of the Vork Ork wars of 989M41 quickly set up a defence line south of Collingwood in the east, and another protecting Benger in the south. Here he would wait for the next ork attack. In the meantime the Ravenguard determined to retake Desmond, eliminating several key members of the ork leadership in the process.

The Ravenguard attack was a disaster. The insertion of the astartes went well but the marines were soon overwhelmed by a very responsive ork army, and found themselves in an attritional fight they couldn't hope to win. Suffering heavy casualties, the Ravenguard abandonned the venture, much to the delight of the orks and the despair of General Gault.

Necrons gain on Gamordal

The war against the Necrons on Gamordal had been largely quiet for over a month, but in that time the Imperium had not made any attempt to counter attack, and their reinforcements had been limited to one company of Aurora Angels, who arrived in late 09.012M42 after General Veers made it clear he was unable to send extra Imperial Guard regiments to the system until the situation on Ares had been resolved.

Unfortunately for Veers the Necrons launched their latest offensive on Gamordal only days after the eldar had been defeated on Ares. Therefore the existing Imperial forces, with the addition of the Aurora Angels, were all the Imperium had to meet the renewed alien aggression.

The Necrons attacked on a narrow front, and instead of hammering at the capital of the world, as the Imperial commander expected, the aliens pushed rapidly north along the Tersius road from Southrine, quickly enveloping the Wericke farming collectives and pushing into the outskirts of Fort Tersius. Realising the Imperial positions would soon be cut off with the road in Necron hands, the Aurora Angels launched an immediate counter assault to recapture Wericke, but as soon as they arrived they found the necrons waiting for them.

Unfortunately for the Imperium, the necrons had clearly expected such a move by the astartes, and the Aurora Angels found themselves in the middle of a carefully laid trap. The company fought bravely, but suffered terrible losses atempting to extricate themselves from an impossible position. The counter attack had failed, and unless they were stopped soon, the necrons would have the city of Gamordal surrounded and the remaining Imperial forces in an untenable position on Gamordal.

Eldar raid Corticant

In early 10.012M42 the eldar returned to their usual ways. With victory on Ares the Imperium were unable to rest, as corsairs executed a series of successful raids on Corticant, even defeating a force of Red Angels sent to deal with the problem. Appearing from nowhere the eldar ran rings round the imperium, before disappearing once more. It seemed the eldar still had designs on imperial worlds in the Perseus Deeps

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nemesis consume Rhesius

The tyranid invasion of Rhesius went down in sector history as something of an imperial fiasco. By late 09.012M42 it was obvious to everyone in imperial intelligence that Nemesis was steadily progressing through the Rim worlds consuming all in its path. Despite evidence to the contrary however, General Alexander was determined to underestimate Nemesis and believe the Xenos threat was now bogged down in a lengthy battle against chaos on New Sparta.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Nemesis had indeed left forces on New Sparta - enough it believe to finish its consumption, but the rest of the hive fleet had moved on. Thanks to a cantankerous relationship between General Alexander and his admiral of the fleet, the imperial battlegroup had made little provision for an attack by Nemesis and had been blindly preparing for an assault against Grimlock, Alexander's next step in his "grand plan".

It cames as something as a terrible shock then, when the greater part of the hive fleet splinter in the Rim Worlds arrived in the Rhesius system. Alexander immediately panicked and abandonned the world, leaving two chapters of space marines of the Salamanders and Dark Angels behind. The astartes refused to simply abandon the world to the aliens and were determined to make a stand here, killing as much of the tyranid biomass as they could. In addition, they needed to buy time so certain information and genetic coding could be eliminated from the Rhesian environment so that Nemesis would be unable to take advantage on it.

The tyranid swarm came on frighteningly quickly and with overwhleming force. The two space marine chapters did not work well together and the Salamanders quickly found themselves isolated. Chosing attack as the best form of defence they soon found themselves in serious trouble. Most of the vangaurd forces were wiped out and a hasty evacuation was organised for th rest of the Salamanders.

The Dark Angels faired little better. They were unable to stop the rapid build up of alien forces on Rhesius and after costly battles with the aliens they too abandonned New Sparta, much of the sabotage work left undone.

The consequences of Alexander's shameful retreat and botched operations finally led General Roover to take decisive action against his subordinate. Alexander had too many friends in high places to simply dismiss, but Roover soon posted him to the Valitane subsector - a peaceful region where he could do little harm, at least for the moment. Roover then brought the capable General Alayn Brooke in as his replacement, and Brooke immediately set about reshaping imperial strategy in the Zadoc subsector, which up till now had been an unmitigated disaster.

Space Marines surround heretics on Tyranteous

Following the successful intervention of the Dark Angels in early 09.012M42, Inquisitor Hathek arrived in person on Tyranteous. With the two crossings into Hollyden in Imperial hands and enjoying total air supremacy, the rebellion of Hollydale was securely contained, unless the cultists managed to breach the siege which had been enforced upon them, by force or by stealth.

The seige of Hollydale was aided by the terrain. The narrow Isthmuses at either end of the state meant only a small force was needed to prevent a major outbreak, and this could be manned by Astartes troops, thus minimising the deleterious effects of daemonic exposure to Imperial Guard units. However, by late 09.012M42, after several bombing missions against Hollydale, which was reduced to rubble, the heretics showed no signs of capitulation. The Astartes were becoming irritated by their use as "border guards" and began to lobby strongly with Lord Hathek to launch the final invasion of the rebel state.

Despite having nominal command over the astartes chapters, Hathek could do little except agree, and on 2209.012M42 the Ultramarines chapter launched their assault against the heretics in Hollyden. The traitors now had an array of astartes against them, including the Dark Angels, Raven Guard, Blood Martyrs, Blood Angels and now the Ultramarines, with the Salamanders en route to the system. Such was the concern of a daemonic uprising on the only remaining viable agri-world in the sector, and such was Hathek's influence.

The Ultramarine led assault was a success in the end, and the marines led the astartes across the plains of Hollyden to the capital itself. However here the marines faced dogged and persistant resistance aided once again by repeated daemonic incursions. By the end of 09.012M42, despite the presence of five astartes companies, half a chapter, the rebels had not been crushed. More battles would need to be had before the last remnant of chaos taint was expunged from Tyranteous.

Victory on Ares

After an extended struggle, General Veers finally had something to cheer about as 09.012M42 drew to a close. The war against the Eldar on Ares, with frequent skirmishes up and down the length of the Hephath valley, had been in a stalemate for months. Repeated intervention by Space Marine chapters helped keep the Eldar at bay, but the imperial commander persistantly failed to complete the job as forrays into the broken ground to the north of Ares City always invited lethal eldar ambushes.

Eventually the Dark Angels agreed to finish the job they had started, and on 2009.012M42 launched a series of raids which rooted out the eldar on Ares. Probing attacks by the marines provoked various levels of response, allowing the Dark Angels to determine with some accuracy the location of the webway portal. The final assault was viciously defended by the eldar as the Dark Angels homed in on the source of the eldar invasion, but by 2609.012M42 the eldar were in full retreat. The planet was declared clear of Xenos threat by 2909.012M42.

The Dark Angels were unable to determine the precise location of the portal however, so the threat remained. Even so the eldar invasion of Ares had been defeated for the time being, and General Veers could now release some of his forces stationed there. A small garrison was left to monitor the location of the webway entrance. Veers now turned his attention to the Necron problem on Gamordal.

Eldar Machinations

The eldar and their dark kin remained active throughout the later part of 09.012M42, and their attacks became more widespread as the month went on. Despite losing on Ares, the eldar had more success against the other races, defeating the orks in a clinical raid on 2209.012M42 on the ork world of Bothorion. The reason for the raid was unclear, but it didn't stop the feverish ork activity in the Mabb nebula, and their assault on Hylas remained unchecked.

On Carnage the eldar appeared once again, this time causing considerable damage and loss of life before the chaos overlords were able to summon daemons to stop the raid. Even then the eldar continued to cause destruction and managed to defeat the daemons before disappearing into the webway once more. Suspicions grew that the eldar were planning a major strike against Carnage in the near future.

The Salamanders meanwhile found themselves called into action once again, when the Shattered Silence Kabal returned to raid Corticant. For many months Corticant had been spared significant dark eldar predations and the Shattered Silence were believed to have moved off into the Vastrid subsector for good, but the raid on 2609/012M42 proved otherwise.

General Veers' listening posts and enhanced defences stood up to their first test, and the dark eldar had barely arrived when warning signals began to bark loudly in the imperial high command centre at fort Bastion. The Salamanders, ready and willing to respond, sent forces against the dark eldar and were able to stop the raiding aliens in their tracks, their first meaningful success since their arrival in the sector.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Perseus Deeps modifiers

Parius cleansed

In late 08.012M42 the combined forces of the tau and their eldar allies turned their attention to the infestation of Parius by hive fleet Nemesis. They knew they had a limited window of time to remove the tyranid menace from the world before the necrons would once again resume their expansion, having reorganised from their triumph on Calliden. The alliance even managed to convince the Federacy to send a small force of Hartak legionnaries to help them. With the force build up complete, the operation to cleanse Parius began with a devastating volley of railgun fire on 0109.012M42.

The attack was carefully planned, with Moonshine's forces attacking from the north in a frontal attack from Hai'Lan, while Shadowstrike and the Federacy contingent pushed west towards Kel'Naumi from the Lar'Medea peninsular. While the tyranids reeled from this shock and turned to face the tau, the eldar would strike from the south, cutting the tyranid swarm into three and enabling mopping up operations to exterminate the remaining tyranid presence on the world.

The operation started exceptionally well. Moonshine was successful in drawing Nemesis into carefully placed mobile defences, using the "Kauyon" or "patient hunter" strategy. The waves of alien creatures smashed into his lines, expending their strength, before Moonshine's own forces delivered a devastating counter blow which almost decapitated Nemesis' forces on Parius.

With Moonshine exceeding expectations in the north, Shadowstrike's forces pushed in from the west. They faced stiff resistance however, and the fighting became very intense along the Kel'Naur isthmus, where the tau were unable to use manouevre to their advantage. The attack soon got bogged down as Nemesis counter attacked with savagery, but a decisive intervention by the Hartak 8th Legion, personally led by the Federal Ambassador, broke the back of the tyranid assault, the ambassador himself slaying a tyranid monster in hand to hand combat.

With Nemesis wavering in the north and unable to halt the tau in the west, the Rillietan delivered the much anticipated coup-de-grace a day later. The eldar had managed to quietly pick their way through the broken ground and marshland to the south of Kel'Naumi, and lanuched a series of precision strikes on 02-0309.012M42. This attack slaughtered the tyranid synapse creatures, and by the end of 0409.012M42 it was clear the remaining tyranids were fighting like animals. Realising the cost of taking Parius was not worth the value of the world, the hive mind had withdrawn from the world, abandoning any remaining creatures to their fate. It would take weeks of mopping up, but Parius had been saved.

Ork violence increases

The inhabitants of the Zadoc subsector - those in the know anyway - watched with alarm the military buildup of Ork forces during the middle of 012M42. By the end of 08.012M42 Ork raids across the sector were becoming more brutal and ever increasing in scale. Once such raid occurred on Aornis on 0109,012M42, when a huge force of orks led by Uzfang dropped into realspace just days from the planet. By 0309.012M42 the ork fleet had had begun landing troops on Aornis, who immediately began looting and pillaging everything they could find. Whether the raid on Aornis was by design or by accident is still not known. It is known that the ork Warlord's Uzfang and Na'Porkleon couldn't agree on where to strike next, and so the two settled their differences in the only way orks know how, by fighting.

The outcome of the ork battle was a decisive victory for Uzfang, and just a week later Uzfang's forces, as well as those loyal to Na'Porkleon were raiding Aornis. It's not a huge leap of imagination to infer that Uzfang was keen to raid chaos, while Na'Porkleon wanted to concentrate on the Mabb Nebula, especially as it became obvious the ork warlord was massing troops on Bothorion.

The raid on Aornis was abloody affair, as the Claws of Lorek were forced to raise daemons to defend their bases. This led to violent close quarter fighting, with Na'Porkleon's forces suffering heavy losses, before Uzfang's arrived to smash the daemonic hordes. While the battle raged, gretchin were busy taking anything of value from Aornis, which they all but picked clean before disappearing on their ramshackle craft, back to the Vork Ork Expanse.

Despite Uzfang's defeat of Na'Porkleon, it seemed there were no hard feelings. Na'Porkleon, as well as warlord Krumpgutz continued to build up their forces in the Mabb Nebula, and it seemed a new Waagh! would be inevitable. The Tau preferred to await developments, hoping the orks would strike Imperial worlds, and they didn't have enough strike power in the region following their wars on Hylas and Va'Doran to even attempt to stop the orks. The eldar however, concerned that their exodite worlds would once again be at risk, launched a punitive strike on Krumpgutz on Bothorion in early 09.012M42, which was successful in damaging several key ork installations. This probably delayed the subsequent ork offensive.

Later in 09.012M42 the orks on Bothorion were attacked once again, this time by the Salamanders chapter of Space Marines responding to a request for aid from General Alexander. He now rightly considered his existing forces inadequate to defend imperial interests against the combined threats in the subsector, so the company of Salamanders who arrived in the subsector were gratefully received. The Salamanders quickly sized up the situation in the Mabb Nebula and prepared for a raid against Na'Porkleon on Bothorion. Lacking any sizeable force to invade the ork held world, the space marines would wreck as much as possible to slow their build up to invasion.

The Salamanders identified key targets, with their primary objective being the main ork telyporta which would be crucial to the ork invasion plans. If this could be knocked out, or better still, stolen, the ork plans would be set back weeks. In the end however the raid on Bothorion was a terrible fiasco, as Na'Porkleon's forces had chosen to defend the telyporta with strong forces. By the time the Salamanders realised this it was too late, and crippling Loota fire quickly pinned most of the marine force. The main charge for the objective by the Salamander's elite terminators in Land Raiders was interecepted by one the ork warlord's warbosses, and despite managing to cut down the mega armoured giant and his retinue, the terminators suffered badly from heavy fire once their vehicles were destroyed. The final blow was delivered by ork air support, as careening and wildly firing dakka jets finished off the Salamanders' insertion force. Days later, on 1909.012M42 Na'Porkleon's ramshackle fleet arrived in the Hylas system, much to the relief of the tau, and began unloading troops on the planet's surface. The new ork Waagh! was underway.

Battles on Ares

Following the intervention of the Dark Angels in 08.012M42 the eldar of Ares had been pushed back to the mountainous region around Hephath Station, but the commander of Imperial Guard regiments was unable to shift the aliens from their positions in the difficult terrain, which allowed the eldar to ambush any would be attacker, and reconnaisance by air was rendered all but impossible due to accurate and persistent anti aircraft fire. The Imperial commander was content to wait until the eldar made their next move, but when the Blood Angels arrived without prior communication, the Imperium was offered an opportunity to deal with the alien threat on Ares once and for all.

The Blood Angel captain briefly met with the Imperial commander to understand as well he could the situation on the ground. Then the astartes chapter drew up their own plans which involved a direct strike on the eldar positions in Hephath Station, and another assault on the caves where the eldar were believed to be based. The Imperial staff were rather perplexed by the strategy, as the strike on Hephath seemed irrelevant. If the eldar could be removed from the mountains and their webway portal identified, there would be no need to attack the occupied imperial settlement. The Blood Angels merely stated they had "other business", and went ahead with their plans.

The strike on Hephath was countered strongly by the Rillietan faction of the eldar, but the Blood Angels had committed the greater strength of their company to this battle, and caused severe damage before disengaging from the fight. The battle in the caves was less successful, with the Blood Angels finding the eldar a tough opponent to root out of their positions, and by 0109.012M42, a week after they had arrived, the Blood Angels prepared to depart, the aliens still entrenched on Ares.

The failure of the Blood Angels to clear the alien threat brought accusations from the Imperial staff that the astartes company had only half-heartedly attempted to destroy the eldar on Ares, and that their main concern had been their undisclosed "other business". However, this charge was made long after the Blood Angels had left. The campaign on Ares was becoming an irritating diversion, with the eldar presence a constant thorn in the Imperium's side.

Dark Angels intervene on Tyranteous

in early 09.012M42 the Dark Angels arrived on Tyranteous, adding a third company of astartes to the forces on the planet, where the insurrection centred around Hollydale was still ongoing. The Imperial Guard units had deliberately been pulled back from the front line at the request of Inquisitor Lord Hathek, who was concerned at the level of daemonic exposure the guardsmen were experiencing, which would eventually lead whole regiments to become "non combat effectove". Hathek was keen to keep purges of his own much needed troops to a minimum, so he was more than pleased when the Dark Angels arrived on the agri-world, despite the sometimes open hostility between himself and the astartes chapter.

The Dark Angels immediately identified that the retaking of Weybridge crossing was critical to the defeat of the insurrection and the purging of daemonic forces. Securing the crossing would prevent further spread of the chaos contamination, and the space marines threw themselves at the enemy lines loudly and visibly. As hoped, the peasants manning the crossing panicked, and their overseers once again summoned a host of daemons to deal with the attack. This inspired the Dark Angels hatred towards the chaos gods, and their attack became ever more savage. After a few hours the daemonhost was defeated and dissolved back into the warp. The Dark Angels then ruthlessly mopped up any remaining cultists, slaughtering them and burning the bodies. With Weybridge retaken, Hollydale and the whole region of Holleyden, centre of the revolt, now lay open for a final assault.