Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tyranteous war escalates

For weeks the daemonic threat which persisted in the besieged city of Hollydale had been largely bottled up by strong imperial forces holding a perimeter some twenty miles outside the settlement. The inquisition was keen to avoid valuable regiments from getting too close to the taint of the ruinous powers, so the guard duties were mainly carried out by Tyrantean PDF regiments, supported by Librian and Zadocian heavy artillery batteries, which continued to pound the city, day and night.

By 01.013M42, with the Tau invasion in the north confirmed, General Denham held a council of war with the Zadocian, Librian and Tyrantean commanders, as well as the captains of the Blood Angels and Apocalypse Riders Astartes, who had recently joined the imperial forces on the world. The council decided to put an end to the chaos uprising once and for all while simultaneously launching a strong counter attack against the tau in the north. The Astartes would lead the way, breaking both enemy forces and allowing the Guard a simple job of mopping up.

In the north the space marine forces planned their attack meticulously, with the Blood Angels launching an all out assault on the heavily defended Merenda ridge, defended by the forces of commander Moonshine. The snow covered hills provided an ideal vantage point for the tau, and they had constructed formidable fortifications. As the Blood Angels attack developed, Moonshine was forced to request the tau mobile reserve to hold them off, which was the signal for the Apocalypse riders to attack.

The fast moving space marine chapter was ideally suited to the task in hand. So far in the war against the tau the advanced shielding devices fitted to the tau hammerheads had been a serious problem for the imperial guard regiments, so Denham had requested that in their attack the heavy support units be top priority for the genetically enhanced warriors of the emperor. Always happy to accept a challenge the Apocalypse Riders launched themselves into a furious assault, penetrating the tau lines and engaging Shadowstrike's forces at close range. During the encounter the astartes suffered heavy casualties, but their mission was a success. Several hammerheads were left burning wrecks, their distortion fields useless at the close range the space marines chose to fight at. The Riders then withdrew back to imperial defences, but the tau had suffered serious losses. Shadowstrike realised the line he now held was untenable, and began falling back in good order towards the north, eagerly followed by Denham's guard units. The tau invasion of Tyranteous was now looking seriously in doubt.

Meanwhile on Hollyden the Apocalypse Riders prepared for a final showdown with the traitors in the ruins of Hollydale. The imperial guns fell silent as the space marines roared towards the city on their bikes and land speeders, tempting the heretics to show themselves and fight. They were not disappointed. Early in the morning on 1301.013M42 a host of daemons appeared before the space marine force, and soon a vicious and deadly firefight developed, before both sides closed to lethally short range. In the ensuing melee the Apocalypse Riders were forced back by the daemons of Lorek, and it seemed that the expedition to rid the city of the evil which had taken hold there was doomed.

As the shadows lengthened and the number of astartes dwindled as the battle continued, it became apparent that the Riders were doggedly holding on to their objectives. These were the entrances to the sewer network of the settlement, still intact, through which agents of the inquisition had made their way to the centre of the chaos held city. With their ammunition almost spent and half their brothers killed by the daemonic entities, the Apocalypse Riders held on long enough for the inquisition to reach their goal. With an unholy screech the daemons of Hollydale simply vanished, leaving nothing more than a metallic taste to the air. The agents had destroyed whatever icon or object was being used to summon the daemons, and the host had been abruptly ripped from reality and cast back into the warp.

With the daemons gone, the imperial guard were finally allowed to enter the city. The remaining population, generally unarmed, put up little resistance to the invading forces, and were slaughtered wherever they were encountered. The city's population of 50,000 was ruthlessly annihilated, buried in mass graves then the whole city torched. By the end of 2001.013M42 nothing remained of the settlement but rubble.

While the imperial governor Diana Selken took heart at the news from the north, she was merely content with events on Hollyden. She knew the city could not be saved as soon as it became apparent that daemons had been summoned, but even so the news of its destruction brought the governor no joy. Then, on 1701.013M42 terrible news arrived at the capital Jutesburgh. Without warning, new enemy forces had appeared and quickly overwhelmed the defenders at Weybridge Crossing. They were definitely traitor legion in origin, but at the time the true nature of events was poorly understood. All Selken and the imperial general in command knew was that the vital crossing had been lost once more, and dispatched the veteran Librian 11th mechanised regiment to deal with the threat.

The Librians, a full mechanised regiment supported by Leman Russ battle tanks and mobile artillery, moved into position to attack Weybridge from the east. They were granted priority air cover by the Imperial navy, and squadrons of thunderbolts stood ready to intervene if called upon.

The Librians attacked the small settlement directly, but soon found it defended in strength by Death Guard forces. Forced to slow down, the Librians then found themselves under counter attack by elite units of the traitor legion, led by Land Raiders and mutilators, which smashed through the Librian tank units with appalling ease. Hellhound tanks burned out cultists, but the Death Guard themselves proved to be rather tougher, implacably joining the counter attack and advancing on the lead elements of the Librian infantry.

The Librian colonel called for airstrikes, but confusion and poor communications meant that when it did show up the imperial navy was unprepared for the anti aircraft fire put up by the defenders. Several thunderbolts were lost before the navy pulled out of operations over Weybridge, having achieved little. Losing troops and equipment with alarming speed, the Librian colonel ordered a withdrawal, surrendering the town and its vital crossing to the Death Guard. While General Denham ordere reinforcements to the area and wondered how the traitor marines had arrived on the world, the first reports of a new sickness sweeping Hammerton and Jutesburgh began to land on the governor's desk...

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