Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chaos in retreat on Tyranteous

As 04.013M42 drew to a close, the mobile warfare continued on Tyranteous with movement on key fronts and action on land, in the air and in space.

The Imperium were heartened by the relatively successful Operation Sledgehammer, and continued to press their advantage against chaos gained from recent victories in the western sector of the front line. Having pushed the traitor forces back to Weybridge Crossing, general Mikell Denham looked at possibilities to immediately launch an assault on the settlement, but his subordinate commanders were less than enthusiastic. Weybridge crossing had been considerably fortified and a direct assault on the settlement could lead to losses the imperium could ill afford, and hand the initiative to the tau.

The space marines operating in the Zadoc subsector offered assistance. The dark angels and blood angels, having split their forces into small battle units across the sector, were working more and more together as a combined astartes force, and now offered to launch a punitive strike on Weybridge. Their targets would be fortifications, military installations and anything of potential value to the traitor forces, which would make a subsequent follow up attack much less bloody. General Denham accepted the offer and a few days later an elite strike force of humanity's super human warriors launched themselves against the chaos defences.

Initially the chaos forces were sent reeling by the ferocity of the imperial raid, leading to the forces defending Weybridge to implore their dark gods to help. Their patrons answered, and soon the space marine force found itself facing a dread daemon host. However, unlike previous encounters with the daemonic legions allied to the arch-traitor Lorek, this time the warp connection to reality seemed unstable, with the daemons flickering in and out of focus, their powers diminished.

Even so the force arrayed against the dark angels and blood angels was still potent, but gradually the loyalist marines gained the upper hand, before finally crushing the daemon host. Eventually Lorek's forces managed to redeploy their conventional forces from Hollyden, but by then the small astartes force had long gone, leaving a mass of destruction in their wake.

General Denham now knew the forces on his left flank to be weak. Unable to break out and launch an offensive of their own and liable to fold if attacked. He now had the luxury of deciding on his axis of attack before launching his next major offensive.

Seeking to redress the balance of power on Tyranteous, which was now rapidly shifting against him, Lorek conceived a new bold plan. Having secured the support of Admiral Tragean, he now knew that a force of six capital ships had succesfully transitted the warp from the Perseus Deeps, arriving in the Zadoc system far sooner than Jellicoe's battlegroup thanks to some help from the gods themselves. Tragean was entrusted with completing the takeover, or destruction of the tau base on Tyranteous moon, where Kor'O Pureheart was keeping the bulk of the tau fleet assigned to the invasion.

On 2804.013M42 Tragean's forces, led by the desolator class battleship Irredeemable Apostate, were able to shield their energy emissions behind an asteroid belt, allowing them to take their enemy by surprise. The two protector class vessels on picket duty that day, Sentinel and Salvation, were suddenly fired on by the bulk of the chaos fleet emerging from the darkness directly astern of them, while the rest of the tau fleet hung in high orbit above the planetoid of Tyranteous Moon. Very quickly Tragean capitalised on his surprise, crippling Sentinel and leaving Salvation a battered, powerless and drifting hulk.

Kor'O Pureheart scrambled to get the rest of his fleet alert and responding to the threat, and most vessels came on line rapidly, pushing themselves away from the approaching chaos vessels and using the moon to slingshot back to face the enemy threat. The two carriers Deliverance and Liberator were soon launching all Mantas they had to harry the chaos fleet until the tau could bring their guns to bear. The custodians took far longer to get in formation and join the fight, but the smaller Wardens were soon advancing on the chaos fleet launching volleys of torpedoes.

The rest of the battle was dominated by the superior tau technology. Despite some glitches, the mantas and torpedoes performed well, and soon both the slaughter class cruisers Reaver and Doomblade were crippled and burning. Their captains tried to disengage but their heat signatures were all to easy for the tau scanners to detect, and soon both ships had been wrecked. The hades class battlecruiser also suffered and was forced to disengage, the tau pilots and gunners aboard the larger vessels deliberately targeting the command decks of the chaos vessels with devastating results.

No fewer than three of Tragaen's cruisers had their command structures decapitated in this way, and this cost the chaos admiral dearly. With his vessels leaderless they were unable to make their escape and by the end of the battle he had lost three of his capital ships and had another two severely damaged. As the tau battleships came around the Tyranteous Moon and faced the remaining chaos vessels head on, the admiral disengaged the remainder of the fleet, leaving the tau to lick their wounds and complete the cleansing of their base on the planet below.

Lorek was unaware of the defeat of his ally in the Tyranteous system when he simultaneously launched the next part of his plan. On the planet's surface itself he knew he was too weak to launch an offensive against both the imperium and the tau at the same time, so he planned accordingly. In the north he would take ground off the tau and threaten their base, while the imperium would also suffer a devastating raid, this time on the Fallowvale oile refinery far from the front lines. With a fuel shortage, General Denham would have difficultly making good on the initiative he had so recently been handed by the astartes.

Both strands of Lorek's plans unravelled before him. His hand picked small squad of elite traitor marines, supported by a small host of summoned daemons, failed abysmally in their raid in the south. The imperium had been sensible enough to guard their vital military installations appropriately, and the alarm was soon raised. A single squad of veteran guardsman, helped by two sentinel walkers were easily able to fend off the chaos raid, catching their enemy unprepared out in the open.

In the north Lorek's forces once again summoned a host of daemons to defeat their enemy, but the tau fought hard and with tenacity. Mid way through the battle commander whitefire was given the news from Shadowstrike that Pureheart had defeated chaos in space and those hunter cadres fighting chaos forces on Tyranteous Moon would soon be able to join the tau army on the planet itself. Having access to this knowledge, which Lorek did not, Whitefire was able to pin his enemy down before committing his reserves to outflank then envelope his foe.

Lorek had not accounted for the tau being able to commit their reserves, and his position in the north became untenable. The daemonic host was banished, and the rest of the traitor army was soon in full retreat, with the victorious tau making their lives a misery as they surrendered much of North Vale, leaving the settlement of Hammerton surrounded and cut off.

No comments: