Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hylas: West coast falls, Berkeley lost to orks

Despite the Ultramarine success, General Van Dorn still didn't have enough forces to hold the extended line into Berkeley. This was demonstrated when Na'Porkleon attacked all across the Tennys coast front line just a few days after the city had been retaken. Massed ork attacks from the Sump Sea to the coast soon ensured the imperial positions in Berkeley became untenable, and Van Dorn retreated to straighten his line.

The local Novgorod Guard commander offered to prove his new arrivals' mettle by counter attacking to halt the ork advance. Surprised but intrigued Van Dorn agreed, pleased that at least some of his commanders were showing a positive attitude to the war which had now ground on for 413 days. The Novgorod Guard deployed in their positions and didn't have to wait too long for Na'Porkleon's hordes to show up.

The battle of West Coast lasted from 28-3110.013M42. During those three days both sides sent in waves of infantry with very little in the way of support, and for once the greenskins even found themselves outnumbered. Each ork assault slew thousands of men, but the Novgorod Colonel simply threw in more battalions, headless of the losses.

After three days of the slaughter, Van Dorn had had enough. He ordered a withdrawal to the north, fearful that the Novgorod units would soon break or be annihilated, allowing the orks to breakthrough. He didn't want a repeat of the fall of the west and was horrified at the colossal loss of life in his guard units. By the end of 10.013M42 the imperial line had retreated fully out of the West coast region, shortening the imperial line and providing some respite from the fighting for the exhausted guardsmen. Nevertheless the Novgorod commander maintained that had he been allowed to continue his meatgrinder tactics, the orks would have broken first. Van Dorn had clearly disappointed his new Colonel, but he simply couldn't afford such attritional tactics while supply lines to Hylas remained blocked by the ork fleet.

Covenant grind forward on Zadoc

By the end of 10.013M42 the imperial forces on Zadoc were beginning to show some resolve. Although they did retreat further the chaos assault slowed, and their losses steadily increased. The Arch Cleric now turned to his old allies, the Covenant, who were first noted on Zadoc on 2910.013M42, as daemonic forces and cultists bearing the mark of the Covenant were identified taking part in the assault on Gredau. On the imperial side the local PDF and imperial guard units began to work well together, supported by marine detachments and forces of the adeptus mechanicus in a more unified force. It seemed General Brooke was finally halting the unstoppable chaos advance, and soon his reinforcements would arrive, or so he was told.

Windgather breaks Praetorian wall

Until the very end of 10.013M42 the Praetorian wall had held on Tyranteous. Defended by the imperial guard it had prevented the tau from breaking through and almost certainly ending the war on Tyranteous. The tau had been unwilling to expend too many lives trying to breach this formidable defence, so they simply went around it.

The outcome of the winter offensive in the west had been disasterous for the imperium and General Cunningham's troops. Half his army was gone, captured or destroyed, Fernal and Badval had fallen and the adeptus mechanicus facility at Thraxicon was beseiged. Only the Apocalypse Riders had managed to hold the tau in two critical engagements along the Grent Pass, preventing the Praetorian wall from being taken from behind. Now however Lightspear had broken through in the south, and the Apocalypse Riders were called on once again to repeat their actions and push the tau out of Grent.

The Apocalypse Riders moved out with confidence and high expectations, but commander Windgather and his eldar allies were waiting. Tau high command expected this move by the Imperium and placed their most dangerous and effective formations accordingly. As soon as the astartes came into range the tau-eldar alliance opened up on the Riders, killing their leader and throwing their charge into disorder.

With no meaningful artillery or air support the space marine bikers raced bravely but ultimately suicidally towards the tau lines. Few returned from the charge and by 2910.013M42 word had reached Cunningham of the slaughter of the Apocalypse Riders. The news crushed the general, who is said to have laughed wryly. He knew the writing was now on the wall for Tyranteous, and the position could not be saved. Two days later the tau had reached the Kethwick Sea, encircling the Praetorian wall from behind and cutting his remaining forces in two. Only a few regiments stood between the tau and the last two imperial cities. Cunningham remained outwardly defiant but in Ashwater and Yellowmouth the many agents of the Imperium began moving sacred relics and destroying valuable equipment and artefacts. The end game on Tyranteous had arrived at last.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Zadoc war escalates

By mid to late 10.013M42 the situation on Zadoc was poor for the Imperium and Lord General Brooke's forces. His immediate superior, Lord General Montgomery, whose role Brooke had so recently performed himself, promised reinforcements for Zadoc from the security of Vastrid, but failed to come up with a specific timetable or list of units to be made available. This vexed Brooke, who felt his demotion to Zadoc command had been unwarranted, as it had been Roover who had run down the Imperium's forces, and Veers' crusade into the Deeps hadn't helped matters.

The disposessed factions of the Deeps, worshipers of chaos forced out of the Deeps by the necrons and Imperium had flocked to the Arch Cleric's banner, while the Iron Warrior leader Marshall Stahl had not been slow to pick up on the growing power of chaos and the opportunity it presented. Together, the Iron Warriors, Word Bearers and the Arch Cleric had devastated much of the east of Zadoc already and the Imperium was in full retreat. This continued during late 10.013M42 as the Arch Cleric launched a major offensive to the south of Ascobabria.

The chaos forces were numerous and well equipped, once again calling on the denizens of the warp to aid their progress. Against them the Novgorod Guard were once again in evidence, as well as native Zadocian units and other hastily thrown together formations. High on manpower, low on equipment and training, the imperial forces put up an admiral defence, their commanders trading lives for time as the chaos advance fell behind schedule. Try as they might the chaos forces found it hard to penetrate the imperial defence in depth, despite horrific casualties especially amongst the conscript units.

Unfortunately for the imperial guardsmen and general Brooke, the god themselves then intervened, and suddenly the rent between realspace and the warp surged open, allowing hordes of daemons to materialise. Although this was a brief manifestation, the effects were dramatic. The Novgorod defence broke and the breakthrough could start. By 2610.013M42 the Word Bearers had reached the south coast of Ascobabria, cutting off three regiments on Gontina and making landfall on Antonerni. By 2910.013 Carelian had fallen to the dark gods and the chaos forces were moving south towards Gredau.

The continuing advance of chaos on Zadoc had not been ignored back on Vastrid. Jellicoe had been orderd to put together a fleet to reinforce the system, and thirty regiments of guard had been ordered to join the task force. On top of these Astartes companies had pledged their aid, and the Inquisition were preparing to take measures against daemonic incursion. The Dark Angels provided the most immediate support, announcing their intention to cripple the chaos fleet blockading the Zadoc system. Lord Tragaen had been joined by vessels of other warlords, bringing the strength of the fleet at Zadoc to over eleven capital vessels, but the blockade meant this force had to be split up. On 2810.013M42 the Dark Angels intercepted part of this blockading force in deep space. It is unknown how much damage the Dark Angels inflicted on the chaos fleet as they gave no record, only confirming the task had been completed and the fleet portion defeated. However this was not the only fleet action of the day.

The tau had also been alarmed by the rapid chaos advance on Zadoc. They coveted Zadoc for themselves, and as they had intervened on Tyranteous, now the tau prepared to land on Zadoc, much earlier than planned. The intention had been to allow the war on Zadoc to run on, until the invasion of Tyranteous had been completed, but with the imperium losing so badly, the tau decided to act sooner. Within days a sizeable warfleet had arrived in system, slipped through the chaos picket ships appearing near the Zadoc moon itself, where Tragaens close blockade couldn't fail to intercept them.

The tau fleet, led by two custodians, three protectors and a host of escorts, closed on the chaos fleet which had adopted line astern. With their superior range the chaos fleet achieved the first casualties, destroying half the Castellan squadron which were then forced to flee. At the end of the chaos line the two slaughter class vessels Reaver and Doomblade were caught out of position, and concentrated firepower, torpedo runs and manta attacks soon removed the two vessels from the fight, destroying Reaver.

in the centre of the battle line both Tragaen and the tau suffered from poor gunnery and disappointing ordnance attacks. the battle soon became a war of attrition as one by one the chaos vessels were put out of action or forced to retreat, with one of the carnage class vessels eventually being reduced to millions of tons of floating junk. The tau suffered too, having one custodian crippled, a protector badly damaged and the unfortunate loss of every single warden escort when they happened to drift across the gunsights of the remaining carnage and the chaos flagship.

After several hours trading blows both fleets retreated, with the tau able to claim a minor victory. Tragaen was forced to retreat in the the outer reaches and await repairs, while the majority of the tau fleet were able to push in system, establishing a base of operations on Zadoc moon. The invasion planning then began in earnest.

Imperial defeat on Tyranteous

With the Praetorian line retaken the Ultramarines moved south into Grent, as news had emerged that a new aggressive force had appeared under commander "Lightspear", a known follower of the teachings of Farsight. This new commander was known to have aggressive, often brutal tactics which drew the attention of the astartes chapter. They didn't have to wait long.

On 2310.013M42 the tau launched yet another offensive into Grent, once again attempting to encircle imperial forces there. Once again Grent pass became critical to the outcome of the offensive and this time the Ultramarines barred the way of the tau forces. Lightspear's troops were not phased however, and subjected the highly mechanised marines to a bombardment of anti tank munitions which decimated their defence. Only once the fighting power of the marines had been severely reduced did the tau advance, butchering any survivors and opening the road into Grent. Cunningham was forced once again into retreat, and a new more unsavoury force of tau had shown its hand on the plains of Tyranteous.

Battles in the Perseus Deeps

In the Perseus Deeps the end of 10.013M42 saw another eldar assault on Ares, where Vassilevsky had deployed the Cerberex Guard in place of the Ultramarines in Ares city. Confident of their ability the imperial commander initially didn't worry too much when the eldar attacked once again, but their assault was determined and highly orchestrated. As the days wore on the Cerberex commander kept Vassilevsky updated, but the news wasn't good. The eldar firepower was too strong and for the fourth time the Imperium lost control of their capital. The eldar then took positions once more in Caeralon, the imperial army retreating to fixed defensive lines they had occupied only weeks before.

Elswhere in the Deeps a company of the Apocalypse Riders, en route to Ares, was unexpectedly ambushed by Dark eldar following its deployment on the world. Initially the eldar were thought to be part of the alliance and the new attack caused much concern, but imperial intelligence finally proved their worth, identifying the Xenos as the "Kabal of the Venom Drake", and not known as part of the Rillietan alliance.

The Apocalypse Riders however didn't care. They were aliens to be purged. As usual the riders responded to misfortune by aggressively going over to the attack, to the point of recklessness. Despite the raid having little strategic significance, the astartes company went "all in", charging the dark eldar lines at some risk, and sustaining heavier than necessary casualties. This headstrong recklessness drew criticism from imperial command and even the Ultramarines, who incurred the ire of the Rider's chapter master by pointedly suggesting pages in the codex astartes on deployment and tactics.

The Apocalypse Riders were once again saved by the bravery and tenacity of their land speeder pilots. They showed their skill on Ares against the dark eldar, using the terrain to evade incoming firepower while accounting for several enemy units and causing the aliens much distress. This display by just a handful of astartes allowed the remaining Riders to escape the raid, although the nearby supplies depot was completely ransacked by the Kabal.

War in the Mabb Nebula

In the Mabb Nebula the orks suffered setbacks as 10.013M42 came to a close. In deep space the tau fleet finally encountered the mighty "bork" - a fleet of ork Rok's and a space hulk led by the same ork warlord as that now orbiting Hylas. The tau engaged the orks, though less than willingly, but the tau admiral had little choice, since the fleet now posed a significant threat to Tyndareous, which if invaded, would cause even more issues for the tau in the Mabb nebula.

The tau closed in an oblique line, attempting to maximise their firepower on the ork right flank. Although this achieved some success, with a number or roks destroyed, before long the tau vessels had been badly damaged by massed ork firepower, and withdrew for repairs. No tau vessel had been lost, but the orks still posed a threat to tau posessions in the region, causing more headaches for the tau command, facing war on two fronts already, and planning a third on Zadoc.

On Hylas Na'Porkleon's run of advances was brought to an abrupt end when the Ultramarines 6th company moved into Berkeley overnight on 2410.013M42, catching the troops stationed there by surprise. Na'Porkleon ordered a counter attack which took place in the early hours. The Ultramarines however had expected this move, and swiftly blunted the assault, taking out the ork battlewagons in the darkness. They followed this up with a rolling withdrawal, rarely allowing the orks to close while pounding them with vindicator fire. Eventually the orks were able to deal with the vindicators, but the losses in the footslog across the open ground rendered the ork charge ineffective against the marines, who counter attacked with elite terminators in land raider assault vehicles.

By 2810.013M42 the ork assault had run out of steam, and the imperium had Berkeley back again, at least for the time being.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Iron Warriors encircle Imperium on Zadoc

Following the Arch Cleric's victory at Sartignay, the much anticipated follow up by the Iron Warriors came on 2110.013M42 with an obvious but none-the-less expected thrust south from Foregia towards the city of Gyent. In this region General Brooke was only able to field Novgorod Guard regiments while he reorganised from the defeat in Ascobabria, and the Iron Warriors made short work of the massed guard formations. The city of Gyent was soon surrounded and taken by the forces of chaos, cutting the imperial defence in two.

Ultramarines retake the Praetorian Line

The imperial response to the recent tau offensives was to immediately attempt to regain the Praetorian line. Cunninghame knew his only chance would be to hold the tau along the line using Lake renbow as part of his defences. If the Praetorian line remained breached, Cunningham would have to retreat deep into East Grent, on a line just west of Ashwater to Mount Kedalwing, where the front line would be shortest. This however would surrender the vitally important Renbow refinery, which would ensure reconquest of the rest of Tyranteous would be almost impossible without a full scale re-invasion.

The Ultramarines agreed to take on the mission of retaking the Praetorian Line and liberating Renbow. The marines moved out in force on 2110.013M42 and soon a thick fog descended on the region. There followed a confused engagement, where somehow the tau under commander Dawnstride managed to leave a portion of the line completely undefended, and the Ultramarines easily retook the fort at the southern end of the line before the tau realised what was going on. The tau at Renbow, now cut off, were forced to evacuate via orca over lake Renbow. Fortune had smiled on the imperium for once, and the tau had carelessly surrendered an important strategic gain.

Parataea cleared of Necrons

Following on from the Rillietan victory on Parataea commander Shadowstrike arrived in late 10.013M42, adding more force to the alliance defences on Parataea. By now the necrons had been pushed back into a small pocket in norther Parataea, and the tau had liberated their populated settlements. On 2210.013M42 Shadowstrike's cadres delivered the coup-de-grace to the necrons, driving into the northern highlands of the world. Here they encountered the remaining necrons and launched a well co-ordinated assault. After some heavy fighting the necrons finally phased out, leaving the world of Parataea to the alliance.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tau held on Tyranteous

Following their impressive southerly breakout the tau continued to advance as 10.013M42 progressed. The tau had identified a large salient of imperial troops trying to reform in Badvale and a swift and decisive blow here would eliminate this salient and potentially wipe out almost a third of the remaining imperial armies on Tyranteous. The imperium realised this as well and looked to the Astartes to prevent the collapse. The Salamanders and Apocalypse Riders responded to the threat while a new offensive by the Novgorod Guard from the Praetorian Wall in the east was prepared in order to lessen the pressure in the west.

While commander Windgahter paused to regroup after his lightning dash, it was commander Skyfall's armies who surged south from Lake Renbow, attempting to cut off supply to Cunningham's army in Badvale. In the south, the Salamanders prepared to prevent the encirclement, while the Apocalypse Riders knew they had to stop the tau from pushing up the main road into Grent, or else the tau would be able to get behind the imperial defences at the Praetorian Wall.

In the east the Apocalypse Riders deployed their forces in secret either side of the main highway with another force directly in the path of the tau advance. The main highway travelled through the Grent pass, a long narrow valley which was strategically vital to any army wanting to enter the eastern regions of Tyranteous. The tau meanwhile advanced confidently, backed once again by their tau allies, apparently unaware of the Astartes company in their path.

The tau-eldar alliance force was taken completely by surprise by the imperial force, and the tau were unable to perform their usual deft battlefield manouevres. The Riders closed the range at alarming speed, nullifying the tau firepower, and soon engaged in violent close combat at which they excelled. Casualties on the alliance side mounted and the battle would have turned into a rout, but for the extreme bravery of the tau commander, who held up the imperial warriors by engaging in hit and run tactics, before finally being blasted to pieces by the Master of the Hunt himself.

The decisive victory in the east for the defenders could have made an important impact to the campaign on Tyranteous, but in the west commander Skyfall was having a much better time against the Salamanders. The tau overwhelmed the marine force with superior firepower and within hours the brave stand by the company had been neutralised, with the astartes suffering heavy casualties. Despite the Apocalypse Riders' victory the salient in Badvale was cut off, though further west than had been feared. Even so, with no prospect of rescue the imperial armies in the west, mostly Librian, Tyrantean and Zadocian regiments, were forced to surrender, netting the tau empire over half a million prisoners.

The Apocalypse riders did make an attempt to break through to the west however, throwing a significant force into commander Skyfall's flank and pushing the tau away from the Renbow refinery. Their real mission however was to retrieve a vital piece of Adeptus Mechanicus hardware, something which had quite unexpectedly fallen into enemy hands and, if lost, would spell the end for the imperium on Tyranteous if not the subsector.

Thus motivated, the emperor's finest warriors charged the tau lines, their vanguard force of bikes taking horrendous casualties. However the broad frontal assault focussed the tau attentions, and a small unit of marines managed to retrieve the artefact for the imperium. Too late the tau realised what was going on and initiated a counter attack, but the timely arrival of the Riders' land speeders blunted their assault, and allowed the badly mauled astartes company to escape back to Grent.

The Apocalypse Riders had bought the imperial defenders under General Cunningham some time, but now the focus shifted to the north, where General Chuikov proudly announced the start of his "grand offensive". The lines of Novgorod Guard lined up along the Praetorian wall before moving out into no mans land, and into a hail of tau and eldar firepower.

Once again an exceptionally bloody encounter occurred as the emotionless general threw wave after wave of imperial guardsmen against the tau-eldar forces. For a while it looked like the tactic would prevail, as the enemy struggled with the sheer numbers the Novgorod forces were deploying against them. Eventually however the aliens' overwhelming firepower told and gradually, starting at the southern end of the line, the imperial advance faltered. By 1810.013M42 the guard forces, having suffered another thirty thousand casualties in three days, had begun to fall back. Now the tau counter-attacked.

With lightning speed and impressive flexibility, the tau-eldar alliance force shifted its focus to the vulnerable south of the line, breaking through the Novgorod lines and taking the southernmost fortress of the Praetorian line. By 2210.013M42 the alliance had established themselves in the southern fort and were beginning to work their way around the rear of the defensive line, at the same time capturing the incredibly valuable Renbow Refinery. Cunningham's position on Tyranteous was now dire, although the Apocalypse Riders had prevented total collapse for the time being.

Chaos take Sartignay on Zadoc

With the Iron Warriors landing on south east Foregia, the imperial forces remaining on Ascobabria now found themselves fighting a war on two fronts. Lord General Brooke was forced to redeploy his Librian units south to defend his left flank, leaving the Legio Gryphonicus in reserve and the newly arrived Novgorod Guard units in the front line facing the hordes of the Arch Cleric. On 1810.013M42 the attack came, with the Arch Cleric leading a host of daemons, cultists and traitor marines against the imperial city of Sartignay. The Novgorod guard died in droves as usual, but were unable to make their sacrifice count as the hordes of chaos broke through the imperial lines in a number of places.

Too late Brooke realised the danger. The Arch Cleric was bypassing the city and forging ahead to the coast, attempting to cut off the Zadocian and Librian forces in the Ascobian peninsular to the south west, trapping the imperial forces if they reached the coast of the Gontina Sea. The Librians, closest to Sartignay, were able to escape the trap but three Zadocian regiments, some thirty thousand men, were trapped in the salient. This could have been much worse, but the Iron Warriors and Arch Cleric had now joined up, and a concerted drive south from Warlord Stahl would see imperial resistance on Zadoc cut in two.

Meanwhile the continueing chaos success on Zadoc was alarming to the tau, who were straining to complete the rout of the imperium on Tyranteous so they could begin the "liberation" of Zadoc. Now the tau had to consider fighting the imperium and chaos on Zadoc at the same time as finishing off Tyranteous and facing the orks and tyranids in the Mabb nebula. Something the tau wondered if they could support. If they didn't the whole of Zadoc may fall to chaos Irreparably before the alliance could rush to its peoples' defence.

Battles in the deeps

The alliance's mixed fortunes in the Zadoc subsector were reflected in the Perseus Deeps with victory on Parataea but defeat on Ares. By mid to late 10.013M42 the long running war on Ares had once again turned in favour of the Imperium, and Vassilevsky in overall command was benefiting from having a united force of marines and imperial guard. On 1510.013M42 he launched a new limited guard offensive into the shattered ruins of Ares city, gaining ground and occupying a few more precious miles of rubble. Gradually the imperium was clawing back the eldar gains and costing the eldar many lives. The battle of wills continued.

On Parataea the necrons had been in retreat for some months, and now the Rillietan turned up in force to reinforce the tau forces, launching their own offensive towards the necron controlled tau settlement of T'Varsh. The necrons appeared sluggish to react, and it seemed that the Harakhty Dynasty might not be all that serious about the invasion of Parataea, or its interest had waned, and b y 1810.013M42 the settlement was back in alliance hands, its slaves free once more.

Ork fleet arrives at Hylas

The war on Hylas had seen some advances by the imperium during 10.013M42. Following Na'Porkleon's destruction of West Coast and Birego, the Adeptus Mechanicus push south was further built on by the Crimson Fists, who with only a small force achieved victory over the orks north of Berkeley. This allowed the imperium to gradually push forward, and by 2010.013M42 the ongoing gradual retreat of the orks in the north had annoyed Na'Porkleon enough to do something about it.

The erratic ork Warlord transferred several "divi-juns" to the northern front, bashing several warbands on the way to knock them into shape. One such warband gave the warlord a shock, as during the skirmish Na'Porkleon's elite troops were more than once seen to be making "taktikal with-draw-alls" in the face of such horrors as units of grots... However despite these embarrassments the ork warboss successfully transferred a large force to the northern front, intent on wiping out remaining imperial resistance on Hylas.

The Dark Eldar were also active on Hylas, appearing unexpectedly and launching mostly unsuccessful or downright disasterous raids on the Crimson Fists and orks from somewhere in the broken country around the massive mount Flynn. The motives were unknown, but data brought back to the imperial intelligence and inquisition positively identified the force as nothing to do with the Shattered Silence kabal.

In space there was far worse news for the imperium. Jellicoe's fleet led by the Iron Duke herself reached the Hylas system in 10.013M42 expecting to find a few roks. These would be cleared then supply lines re-opened to the planet. However when Jellicoe's powerful force arrived, the Iron Duke and her five cruiser battlegroup found to their horror perhaps a dozen roks and a giant space hulk.

Jellicoe had no choice but to try to break through the ork line, which formed and immediately closed with the imperial formation. During the battle several ork roks were reduced to rubble and in a close in engagement the Iron Duke duelled with the hulk, inflicting significant damage but taking crippling hits in the process. Warspite was reduced to a wreck and several other vessels were crippled. Worse still one fifth of the Iron Duke was taken over by an ork boarding party, and the battles in the lower decks would continue for weeks. Jellicoe's battlegroup, badly mauled was forced to return to Caitlen station for repairs, leaving the orks to make good their repairs in system, and adding to the difficulties faced by Van Dorn on the surface of Hylas.

Tyranids appear on Bastien

If events in the Zadoc subsector weren't troubling enough for Titus Luthor, new Lord Governor of the sector, the news from Bastien that the tyranids had reached the upper perseus deepscame as a devastating blow. Although only a vanguard force, as the hive fleet had not been detected as yet, the confirmation that tyranids were present on the so recently won world was made following several mysterious slaughters in the northern continent. PDF forces were sent in only to be similarly massacred. In 10.013M42 the Salamanders advanced on the area prepared for the worst, only to be ambushed by a force of Xenos which matched the genetic pattern of Hive Fleet Nemesis.

Since 011M42 small tyranid vessels, tendrils of the main hive fleet, had been sweeping ahead of the main force. They had avoided the Necrons on Gamordal, and now arrived at Bastien after a long trip through the darkness of the Perseus Deeps. The Salamanders deployed in force and met the tyranids head on, but found themselves soon overwhelmed by the tyranid vanguard force, and few of the marines returned. In private Luthor was becoming worried about the Salamanders. They had suffered serious losses and were now down to half the strength they originally deployed in the sector. No one could fault their bravery, but all too often they threw themselves at the enemy when a tactical withdrawal would have been more prudent.

In any case Luthor was now forced to redeploy much needed force to the Perseus Deeps. With the necrons still on Corticant, the eldar on Ares, and the chaos worlds of Kendrenec and Mordecai still unbowed, the arrival of Nemesis could spell doom for Bastien and the worlds beyond. Titus Luthor now had some hard decisions to make...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zadoc current map

Zadoc subsector: Imperium in deep trouble

By the middle of 10.013M42 the Imperium was in serious trouble in the Zadoc subsector. On Hylas, just days after a modest offensive, Warlord Na'Porkleon's "Gen-rall Doo-Pwee" launched a massive offensive in the west. Several armies charged across the Birego Plains while several more conducted a lightning advance along Tennys Coast. It was clear the orks would soon surround Tennyson so General Van Dorn dispatched what forces he could to the beleagured settlement. A heated debate took place in the high command at Collingwood as the imperial hierarchy realised it did not have anything it could realistically throw in the ork warlord's way. Eventually the Adeptus mechanicus volunteered to defend the city.

The mechanicus troops along with a small contingent of marines defended the city for several days as Doo-Pwee's orks massed around the city. Both sides found it difficult to fire on one another amongst the factories in the outskirts of Tennyson, and the fighting devolved into bloody hand to hand skirmished in the industrial complexes. At first the difficult terrain around the city hampered the ork advance, as did the sacrifice of the marines helping to defend the city. Eventually however the imperial force was overwhelmed by the greenskins, and Van Dorn gave permission for a general withdrawl from the west of Hylas. Now imperial control of the planet was limited to the eastern third of the world.

On Zadoc the Iron Warriors made use of their Daemonforge, landing a significant force on Foregia to the south of the main imperial-chaos battle line. They made good progress and the Crimson Fist company sent to deal with the new incursion was all but wiped out.

On Tyranteous the tau, aided by the eldar, smashed the imperial line near Thraxicon, causing the entire imperial defence of Fernal in the far west to collapse. The tau took over 300,000 prisoners and at a stroke the imperium lost almost a quarter of its fighting force. The tau under commander Windgather then drove south into Badvale, once again coming into contact with General Chuikov's Novgorod forces. Once again the imperial general launched an immediate counter attack which at first stunned the tau. However the aliens then took up defensive positions, and were easily able to mow down the Novgorod conscripts as they charged over open ground. Again the imperial casualties were astounding, with ten thousand falling in a single day. Cunningham called of the Novgorod attack and moved all imperial forces east into Badvale, where a dangerous salient had now built up which the tau were threatening to encircle.

The grim news from the Zadoc subsector was received by a very subdued imperial council on Vastrid. Titus Luthor was even handed with his generals, and Brooke and Montgomery retained their jobs. It was clear however that the situation in the subsector was out of hand, and contingency plans were begun for the evacuation of New Cerberex and Caitlen Station, with a possible halt line at Libria. This would mean abandoning the rest of the subsector, something which was not a popular suggestion with the inquisition.

Tyranteous current map

Hylas current map

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alliance in total war

Increasing violence in the Mabb Nebula began to snowball and escalate as 10_013M42 continued, with the Tau-Eldar alliance, now formally brokered, facing war on a number of fronts. From now on the eldar and tau would see their fate ever more closely interlinked, as what happened to one race deeply affected the other.

- Chaos on the back foot

Against chaos the alliance made good progress. Initially an Iron Warriors force, backed by other forces, landed on Calabris, defeating a tau garrison and establishing a significant bridgehead. Realising that the possession of Calabris would effectively cut the supply of the Aleph expansion sphere from the rest of the empire, this was intolerable and the alliance responded with brutal aggression.

Commander Windgather and his eldar allies were once again called upon to be the alliance "firefighter", and one hunter cadre of troops swiftly redeployed to Calabris, leaving a hunter cadre in the Zadoc subsector and another in the Perseus Deeps. The tau relief force faced forces loyal to the Arch Cleric who had been requested to defend the drop site while the Iron Warriors pushed on to the command and control centres of the world. Windgather took advantage of this, crushing the Word Bearers and followers of the Cleric, leaving the Iron Warriors out of supply and unsupported. Furious the Iron Warriors leader abandonned his assault, blaming his allies for the failure.

The eldar meanwhile sought to prevent a future threat to Calabris by attacking the nearest chaos bases which had been implicated in the recent invasion. The eldar fell upon Odr, finding it defended by Death Guard forces. The battle raged for nearly a day as the Death Guard stoically faced the Rillietan forces, expecting the eldar to eventually quit their raid and withdraw. However this time they did not. Instead tau forces followed up the eldar assault along with more of the aliens. As the Death Guard retreated to more defensible positions it was clear a full scale invasion of the Norsefire Empire by the alliance was now underway.

Tensions mounted on Odr, and the welcome for the Arch Cleric's forces upon their return to the Norsefire empire was not warm. Accusing them of bringing the invasion upon them the Death Guard attacked the Word Bearers and their allies, leading to a bloody battle on the neighbouring world of Fyrrd. The Arch Cleric's forces were eventually decisive victors and for now at least the chaos alliance held. However Warsmith Stahl of the Iron Warriors had by now learned of the debacle with the alliance, and had resolved to personally settle the matter.

- Memnon almost overrun

In the Mabb Nebula the tau were less successful, suffering serious setbacks on Memnon. Na'Porkleon's "Gen-rall Mawr-o" launched another attack across the Straits of Smersh, facing a combined eldar and tau defence. Despite putting up a brave fight, the eldar wraithguard and accompanying crisis teams could not hold the greenskin advance, and Run'Eldi and Run'Fio fell in quick succession, before the greenskin army turned south.

The alliance would have been able to put up a stronger resistance to Mawr-o's attack, but at the same time the orks were driving north, a much more malign menace once again appeared out of the Vastooth heights. Hive fleet Nemesis, dormant on the planet for months, chose the worst - or best - possible moment to strike at the tau. Desperately the tau fought to hold their lines, as commander Sky Fall's men were called on to emulate their great forbear, commander Longstride, in defending a tau world form the menace of the tyranids.

Nemesis was given a hard lesson in tau firepower, before sheer weight of numbers told and the tau defences were breached. The fighting had been extremely bloody and Nemesis had been made to pay a heavy price for the tau settlements of Va'Tanoi and Tol'Uash. However the settlements had in the end been overrun. Now the tau had the orks to the north and tyranids to the south, as they prepared to make a last stand at Duran Demlock.

- Necrons defeated

While the situation on Memnon was dire, the truth was that while a new tau colony world, Memnon was not strategically vital to the tau. The same could not be said of Parataea, a tau colony in the Perseus Deeps without which trading with the Federacy would be seriously impared. Since early 012M42 the necrons had been present on the planet, and the tau-eldar alliance had only occasionally been able to make headway against the re-awakened enemy. However the arrival of one of the Windgather cadres allowed the tau and their eldar allies to plan a new offensive which they then conducted with clinical efficiency.

Between 0710.013M42 and 1510.013M42 the alliance forces gradually pushed the necrons into a smaller and smaller pocket around Sin'Kau'Mek, finally tightening the noose intolerably for the necrons, who abruptly vanished, phasing out and allowing the alliance to retake the city and relieve the beleagured Yosh'Ioki. This was another reversal for the Harakhty dynasty on Parataea, but with the war having already gone on for over five hundred days, there was no reason to expect a swift conclusion.

- Ares setback

Finally on Ares the war of brutal attrition continued. In the last major action the eldar had finally pushed out of Ares city and began advancing up the road towards Hellebron, taking Caeralon to the east and securing their rear before being stopped by the Corellians. Unable to attack, the imperial guard under Vasilevski had dug in, and for a few months the front had been stable. Then on 0210.013M42 the ultramarines arrived and promised to take the war to the enemy.

In a coldly efficient and highly planned set of manoeuvres, the Ultramarines dropped a force from orbit at the settlement of Caeralon, while driving directly up the Hellebron highway towards the now ruined capital. The eldar fought hard, but could not hold the imperial shock troops. By 0810.013M42 Caeralon was imperial once more and the astartes had established a foothold in the worthless ruins of Ares City. The campaign here had been reset to its position a year previously, and with greater concerns in the Zadoc subsector and elsewhere, it looked doubtful that the war on Ares would be resolved soon.

Zadoc war intensifies

During the second week of 10_013M42 the war for Zadoc intensified once more. The Iron Warriors were once again in action as a force of Space Marines and Adeptus Mechanicus troops landed on the southern shore of the now chaos controlled Vasto in order to put a stop to heretek activity. In the settlement of Gerzonne the Iron Warriors were fortifying, but in addition a new industry was taking root in the city. Putting the enslaved workforce to good use, Warsmith Stahl managed to secure the help of the Dark Mechanicus, who began work on a daemon forge, a hideous fusion of warp power and conventional industry, enabling the Iron Warriors to equip their army with all manner of daemon engines.

The Adeptus Mechanicus, horrified at this, launched an immediate punitive strike, intending to wipe out their mortal enemies and cleanse the settlement of Gerzonne. However no sooner had they established a perimeter the imperial forces came under sustained attack from the Iron Warriors and their allies. Blasphemous fusions of daemon and steel assaulted the loyalist lines, although the mechanicus were able to put an end to many of the abberations fielded by Stahl's army, the Helldrakes shot from the sky by astartes storm talons.

Unfortunately the imperial forces were unable to move forward, and gradually the Iron Warriors took the initiative, outflanking the imperial positions and rendering the imperial beach head untennable. The mechanicus were forced to withdraw leaving the daemonforge intact.

As a direct result of this raid the Wordbearers, led by the "Truthbringers" faction launched an assault on Ascobabria against the imperial centre. Here the loyalists were supported by the Legio Gryphonicus and the Salamanders chapter, but now with the Daemonforge up and running the word bearers were able to field a far larger number of forge beasts, putting the imperial defences under strain. A huge battle erupted around the city of Sangnauy which the imperium managed to defend, much of it reduced to rubble, but gradually the forces of chaos were grinding forward in greater and greater strengths. Losses in the traitor ranks were high, but there were always replacements.

The second week of 10_013M42 also saw another fleet clash in the outer reaches of the Zadoc system. This time Tragaen once again sent a significant force, this time of five cruisers, to the system to reinforce the Arch Cleric on the ground and to bring much needed supplies. Again the imperium intervened, this time with a battlegroup from the neighbouring sector, brought in by Titus Luthor and the Adeptus Mechanicus to bolster Jericho's fleet. The squadron, comprising of two lunar class vessels, a mars and a retribution class battleship and the Mechanicus Arch Magos Navos, met Tragaen's numerically superior force outside the Zadoc narrows. A brutal close in firefight developed which saw one chaos vessel hulked and two crippled, but the imperium were obliged to withdraw after the loss of two cruisers and the crippling of their battleship. This was a victory for chaos, albeit at a cost, allowing Tragaen to maintain control of the system and resupply the forces on the ground.

HYLAS: Long war continues

On Hylas as mid 10_013M42 approached, the ongoing war on Hylas continued to progress nearly four hundred days after the initial ork landings. By now a myriad of ork warlords had flocked to Uzfang's banner, and the imperium under General Van Dorn were struggling to contain the orks following recent defeats. In addition the more important wars on Tyranteous and Zadoc were draining Van Dorn of much needed supplies, and gradually the orks were gaining the upper hand.

On 1210_013M42 the Adeptus Mechanicus force available to Hylas launched its own offensive in the West Coast region. RFelatively fresh troops, the Mechanicus were able to take on the greenskins north of Berkeley, and they planned to push on towards teh strategically vital city. However resistance proved stiff, and the Mechanicus forces were unable to commit a significant strategic reserve. After securing modest gains the offensive ground to a halt, well short of the main objective, but it was an imperial victory none the less.

1310_013M42 Sector roundup

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tau advance on Tyranteous. Eldar intervention shocks Imperium

During early 10.013M42 the imperial position on Tyranteous went downhill rapidly. After a relatively static period the tau launched a new offensive utilising a number of battlegroups. Commander Windgather struck west, while in the east Dawn Stride prepared his forces to assault the Praetorian Wall, now defended by reinforcements brought by the influence of the sector commander, Titus Luthor.

In the east the Tau suffered. The defences of the wall were manned largely by the Novgorod Guard regiments, lead by General Chuikov. Chuikov worked well with overall commander General Cunningham, although his tactics of attrition appalled the veteran Librian. While Cunningham was used to deploying highly trained and well equipped regiments backed by artillery and tank formations, Chuikov sent wave after wave of poorly trained men at an enemy with frightening firepower.

The losses from 0410 to 1110.013M42 were horrific, with thousands of guardsmen cut down every hour by Dawn Stride's forces. The Novgorod regiments however were nothing if not numerous, and Chuikov always had a reserve to throw in. After over a week of attritional warfare against the defences of the wall, the tau pulled back, their attempt to break through a failure.

Meanwhile in the west Windgather had more success. The city of Hawkshill was surrounded quickly as the Zadocian PDF resistance crumbled. With Windgather able to call on eldar allies apparently at will, even the Crimson Fists, who deployed in company strength to defend the city, were unable to stop the tau forces from breaking through. Hurridly the 450th Orbital Drop Force was redeployed to defend the city, using its Vendetta flyers to break the stranglehold the tau now had on the imperial settlement.

Despite the imperial guard forces acquitting themselves well and even taking down a terrifying eldar Wraithknight, the aerial reinforcements were brutally shot out of the sky by tau broadsides, once again demonstrating the superiority of tau weaponry. The whole western front now looked close to collapse, with Cunningham presiding over yet another defeat to the tau.

Later in the same week the eldar appeared again, this time independently and far from the tau front line. Clearly acting in support of their tau allies, the eldar, identified this time as the particularly dangerous Rillietan faction, launched a devastating raid on the supposedly secret Adeptus Mechanicus base at Thraxicon in the Granite Hills. The Adeptus Mechanicus defended themselves as best they could, calling on their space marine allies for help.

In the thick of the fighting the Chapter Master of the marines managed to get close enough to the eldar command group to launch a daring attack on the eldar farseer herself. He managed to cut the alien spiritual leader down, but his triumph was short lived, the laughing god immediately exacting his revenge on the hapless astartes warrior. This left effective command to the Adeptus Mechanicus and their commissariat representative. The commissar himself showed extreme bravery in standing upright as an example to the men, even managing to shrug of a direct hit from a Fire Prism thanks to his refractor shield. He pointed upward and declared this as a sign the emperor was with them, before being shredded by accurate and overwhelming shuriken cannon fire...

After four hours the battle was over and the eldar had disappeared. Thraxicon was in ruins, as was the principle armourer and manufacturer of vehicles for the planet. This was disastrous for Cunningham, who was once again contemplating the prospect of surrender or evacuation. For the sector commander and Inquisition the arrival of the eldar on Tyranteous signalled a deepening of the alliance relationship. Whether the eldar had decided to officially throw in their lot with the tau was still unknown, as at least some eldar had deep misgivings about wholeheartedly supporting the younger race. At present however it seemed the majority of eldar in the sector were now working for the alliance under the auspices of the Rillietan. Very bad news indeed for the imperium.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Zadoc subsector in flames

Tragaen defeats Raven Guard Fleet

Following the crushing defeat suffered by the Word Bearers' fleet in 08_013M42, chaos lord Tragaen agreed to aid the self appointed "Master of Chaos" warsmith Stahl to land a force of his own followers on Zadoc. Tragaen knew that the imperial fleet had been forced to split up to protect convoys and now sensed an opportunity to strike back at the Imperium. Stahl meanwhile was keen to land a force on Zadoc to "help" with the invasion. In reality the warsmith was keen to take his share of the spoils and honours once the planet was pacified into the service of the dark gods.

Tragaen's fleet set out from Kendrenec in early 09_013M42 and arrived almost a month later after picking up the Warsmith's forces. The fleet, led by the battleship Irredeemable Apostate and boasting six capital class vessels, did not find itself with an easy ride to the system's inner biosphere. Unknown to the fleet admiral, the Raven Guard had deployed in force to Zadoc, and their substantial fleet of warships was now on an intercept course, covering the path to the sector capital and forcing an action.

Lord Tragaen's forces did not decline the action, and a battle ensued close in to the planet of Zadoc itself. True to form Traegan was cautious, never allowing any of his ships to face the full might of the closing space marine fleet for two long, and concentrating his vessels' fire on one enemy at a time. The battle lasted hours with the chaos fleet managing to maintain tactical position over their enemies. However their shooting was poor and the Raven Guard vessels armour largely held. The imperium lost four escorts and a strike cruiser during the engagement, with another strike cruiser badly damaged. The Raven Guard battlebarge took no damage whatsoever, but the chaos fleet whethered its main attack run, the hades class "Unforgiveable" somehow managing to avoid major damage from a close range bombardment cannon broadside.

Tragaen's fleet suffered superficial damage in the main, although the devastation class carrier was put out of action. After several hours of confused and sporadic fighting the chaos fleet opened the range between the two fleets and began to turn towards the space marines once again. The space marine commander realised the odds were now stacked against him and withdrew to the outer reaches of the system, allowing the Iron Warriors to make a landing on Zadoc. The outer mining colony was to suffer the worst however, as Tragaen's fleet took great pleasure in bombarding the moon base as they passed, destroying it utterly

Mabb Nebula erupts in new violence

The Mabb nebula erupted with a new wave of violence as 10_013M42 began, with the orks launching new offensives on Hylas on Memnon, while the Tau-Eldar alliance launched their own invasion, establishing a bridgehead on the ork controlled world of Bothorion.

On Hylas the region of South Shore fell following a brave but futile defence by the Crimson Fists. Further east the Space Wolves were called in to stop a renewed offensive by Na'Porkleon towards Tennyson. The ork horde was vast and surprisingly well equipped, and the Space Wolves soon found themselves in trouble, taking heavy casualties from loota fire and struggling to contain a concerted assault on their left flank. While their elite forces did manage to halt the orks, the Space Wolf left flank eventually collapsed after an unfortunate friendly fire incident, and heavy casualties forced a general withdrawal of the imperial line. The front moved back towards Tennyson once again and much of Tennys Coast came under the greenskin yoke.

Possibly reacting to the upsurge in Na'Porkleon's Waagh! the eldar launched a series of raids against Bothorion. These were largely successful and a force of Corsair eldar captured the ork settlements of Bukrag and Dregork, cleansing them of greenskins and establishing a perimeter around their bridgehead. The tau were informed and indeed took part in the inital raids on Bothorion. It was hoped that an attack on Bothorion would draw off some of Na'Porkleon's forces and force the ork warlord to weaken his defences on Hylas. This in turn would allow the imperium to go on the offensive, preventing abandonment of the world and subsequent reinforcement of Tyranteous.

As usual it was a complex and convoluted strategy employed by the alliance, but this time it didn't pay off. Rather than take the bait, Na'Porkleon ignored the small bridgehead on Bothorion and launched a savage and unexpected attack on Memnon. The Tau remain convinced the invasion was accidental, the ork roks missing their intended system by several light years, but in fact this was all part of the wily ork's "kunnin plan" to set every world in the nebula afire with ork violence.

Taken by surprise the tau managed a hasty defence, calling on the forces of Commander Skyfall to defend the small colony. The orks landed haphazardly, on Peschek island and quickly overran Va'Ya and Klak'La. On the narrow Derevan Isthmus the tau made their stand, but the ork horde was once again fast and carrying extreme firepower.

The battle raged furiously with the ork lead elements quickly succumbing to tau weaponry, but the tau commander and elite forces were late arriving, allowing the ork vanguard to plough into the centre of the isthmus and putting the tau on the back foot. A tau Riptide did manage to keep the orks from overrunning the tau positions until the tau elite forces finally turned up.

Unfortunately the tau reserves, while powerful, were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of orks, and worse was to follow as the Riptide suddenly reported an "itching sensation" before falling on its side inert, falling prey to an unlikely shokk attack gun salvo, the snotlings materialising inside the pilot.

The rest of the tau then pulled out, making their way across the straits of smersh, abandoning Derevan to the greenskins. They did manage to kill the ork warboss however, a railgun round turning him to green mist as he charged the last remaining hammerhead to hold its ground.

The tau now had a difficult conundrum. Press their advantage on Bothorion or defend their existing colony, or both. Either way Na'Porkleon would be happy.




Iron Warriors resume offensives

In early 10_013M42 Warsmith Stahl, having managed to gain access to an invasion fleet, landed the first contingent of forces on Zadoc. This vanguard force managed to secure access to the "Device", landing a large force of marines and cultists on Vasto, which then proceeded to move out towards Gerzonne. On the way the Iron Warriors found themselves ambushed by dark eldar of unknown origin.

The ambush took the chaos force by surprise, and this quickly lead to the loss of a number of their heavier units, including vindicator support tanks. Worse, the Daemon Prince leading the army was temporarily banished by the unexpected assault. The Iron Warriors soon recovered however and began to systematically take apart their enemy, leading to a rout of the dark eldar army.

The surprise attack did however buy time for an ultramarines force to make planetfall on Zadoc. This force immediately interposed itself between the chaos forces and the settlement of Gerzonne. Although fighting bravely the marines found themselves outmanouvred and out thought by the battle hardened chaos forces, and vital objectives were taken before the ultramarines could react. The imperial forces counter attacked, but were met with a hail of fire from an enemy now firmly entrenched on the ring of hills surrounding Gerzonne. There was no hope now of saving the city as Helldrakes and other chaos craft blasted the city from above. The ultramarines focussed their remaining energy on holding the chaos forces at bay for as long as possible, while the imperial authorities conducted a perilous rescue attempt over the Lagiaca Sea. Hundreds of ocean going vessels evacuated nearly 100,000 people from Gerzonne, landing on the west coast of Ascobabria and as far north as Anorigo. However losses were high and almost double this perished in the evacuation attempt.

Warsmith Stahl now had a secure base from which to launch further assaults, although for the moment at least his forces remained bottled up on the island of Vasto.