Friday, November 29, 2013

Release the hounds...

Lord Titus Luthor stared at the images and text scrolling past on his vid screen. The latest reports from the Zadoc subsector did not make easy reading. The final surrender on Tyranteous was disappointing, but not entirely surprising. Now the focus was on Zadoc, the capital of the subsector. Half overrun by the forces of chaos and counter invaded by the alliance. At least the capitulation of Tyranteous left a window of opportunity. 

With the fall of Tyranteous, the alliance had found itself with a great army on the agri-world which needed transport. Leaving behind just a few escorts the tau had departed the Zadoc system, allowing the Imperium to reinforce without interference. Luthor had reacted swiftly, ordering Admiral Jellicoe to reinforce Zadoc from forces in the Perseus Deeps. Twenty Librian, four Novgorod and several other regiments had been hastily dispatched, and would arrive in days. Along with them the Corellians were sent, and help from the astartes had been confirmed, although strangely the Apocalypse Riders had not responded to the request. 

Luthor pressed icons on his console and the images changed. Flickering before the lord of the sector was a holographic image of the Perseus Deeps, showing Corticant invaded by Necrons and eldar, Ares fallen and the worlds hard won by General Veers beseiged on all sides. Bastien, largest world in the region, glowed purple, identifying Xenos infestation. 

A knock at the door of Luthor's cabin aboard the Iron Duke broke the Lord's concentration. 

"Come in". 

A graceful figure, hooded and robed entered the room. Pulling down her hood to reveal long flowing blond hair, Inquisitor Lord Natalia Vorushko sat down silently in the chair across from Luthor's desk. In the sector, only Natalia had the rank and privilege to treat Luthor as an equal, but the veteran politician didn't mind. Over the past year the two had forged a close partnership, not quite a friendship but a deep respect and recognition for one another. 

"So", began the inquisitor lord, "I gather we're still losing." 

A wry smile crossed the Lord Governor's face before fading into stern concentration. Luthor hadn't looked up from his screen and had barely acknowledged the presence of one of the most powerful agents of the segmentum. 

"Ares is lost, Tyranteous is lost, Bastien invaded. We carry on like this and there won't be anything left in a few years, but on Zadoc we strike back." 

"Ah yes, your plan for a double strike against the alliance and the heretics." Natalia paused and gradually leaned forward. Luthor finally turned his gaze towards her and saw the look of concern in her face. "I need to talk to you about that." 


General Brooke was angry. The reinforcements had arrived on time and he was halfway through planning a great offensive, and now everything had to change at short notice. The commander of all forces on Zadoc paced up and down the ornate hall of the manor house he had commandeered for his forward HQ. His aide simply stood to attention, ready for the inevitable outburst from his senior commander. 

"Imperial intelligence requires of you a change in dispositions", the general read from the paper in his hands, shaking his head in irritation and stopping mide pace. 

"Tell me why do they always find the least convenient time?" 

The aid remained silent, recognising the rhetoric nature of the question. Brooke resumed his pacing. 

"So, the eldar have come to Zadoc. No wonder the tau felt they could abandon the system and collect their troops from Tyranteous." 

The general sighed and finally addressed the aide directly. 

"Get me the comanders of the Librian, Corellian and Novgorod forces and request an audience with the captain of the Raven Guard. I know Erik Morkai's wolves will go wherever the fighting is thickest but..." The general paused, "see if you can contact these Carcharadons. Who are they? Why do the other astartes go silent when I ask? What are their intentions? I need to know if they are going to be a problem." 

"yes sir." 

The aide nodded briefly and immediately set to his task, leaving General Brooke to his thoughts. The alliance had shown its hand now on Zadoc and intended a major strike. He would ensure they would meet the best the Imperium had on the plains of Zadoc. The Iron Warriors and the cursed Arch Cleric would have to wait. 


"Brooke isn't happy" 

Titus luthor contemplated the general's mood while taking in the magnificent view from the admiral's quarters of the planet of Farport shining in the blackness of space. It had been eight days since Natalia had informed him that the eldar were deploying in strength on Zadoc. Now she had come to him again. The inquisitor lord sat in the shadows of Luthor's quarters, reviewing a data slate. 

"We don't need him to be happy, we need him to do his duty. I'm sure the general will acquit himself well in his new task." 

Luthor raised his eyebrows, knowing that if he didn't Brooke would find himself without a command, and possibly without a future. There had been too many failures in Zadoc command, several by him. One more and that would be it. 

"Anyway, I have news on the astartes." 

The Lord Governor turned to look at Vorushko, his interest piqued. 


"The Apocalypse Riders are pulling out from conventional operations. I have spoken with their chapter master and they are certainly keen. Being of such a recent founding they feel the need to prove themselves, but I have found a different use for their aggression." 

Luthor simply looked at the inquisitor lord, marvelling at her cold beauty and the resolution behind her ice blue eyes. He knew that over the last year, the Apocalypse Riders had taken heavy casualties and taken criticism for their hot headed tactics, but time and again the situation had been salvaged because of their intervention. He was concerned at the prospect of losing such an asset. Natalia sensed his irritation and smiled. 

"Don't worry, I'm not removing them from the subsector. I have put them in contact with Lias Issodon of the Raptors chapter. At my request the remaining riders and the contingent of Raptors in the sector will form a new force. This new force is tasked with co-ordinating our new strategy." 

Luthor straightened up as realisation dawned. For some time he and the inquisitor lord had been considering ways to repair the strategic situation in the sector without being caught in open battle, where the imperium's many enemies were winning. Too many astartes forces were having to bail out the imperial guard and being sucked into the main line of battle. This was a waste of the emperor's finest and they needed to be used where they were most effective. 

"I see. So our guerilla war is to begin at last. Will the Raptor commander be able to coordinate the effort?" 

"Issodon has an exceptional record in strategic command lasting many hundreds of years and he may command enough respect to keep the Apocalypse Riders from self destructing. This new force will have access to the fastest ships we can find. They will strike hard, fast and without warning." 

Luthor smiled. "Release the hounds..."

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