Sunday, February 23, 2014

Zadoc: Imperium on the run from Chaos

The imperium knew that the next blow against them by the forces of chaos on Zadoc would be an airborne or amphibious assault. Imperial intelligence had known for some time that the city of Gerzonne had been converted into a blasphemous forge and was now pumping out all manner of daemonic war engines. The skies above Zadoc were filled with all manner of fighting aircraft, and the tau and chaos air forces vied for dominance on a daily basis. The imperium had long given up air superiority on Zadoc, and even over the islands they now controlled the skies were often plagued by enemy craft.

General Wavell made his defensive plans accordingly. Wavell was fully on the defensive by now, although his plan to remove the imperium from the Zadocian mainland was vetoed by sector command, lord Titus Luthor reasoning it was better to make the tau and chaos forces fight bitterly over worthless territory. To protect the islands Wavell assigned specific task forces to each. Riontas, the most important, was turned into a fortress, defended by most of his guard units and three companies of marines. Montene on the island of Hannuse was defended by the Zadoc PFD and the Dark Angels, while the Imperial Fists formed the first line of defence on Aso in the north. The minor island of Cariode and Reggia were left with light defences, and Wavell waited for the next attack to come.

When the Iron Warriors made their move on 2002.014M42 the choice of Aso as a target and the vital city of Viorni was no surprise. The Imperial Fists were ready, and although the Imperial Guard fled south in the face of overwhelming odds, the loyalists knew that the land narrowed into an Isthmus midway down the island, and here the forces of chaos could be held by the imperium, so long as the preparations were adequately made.

To prevent outflanking airborne operations the coasts around the Aso isthmus were mined and covered by Imperial defensive weaponry. The Iron Warriors accepted the challenge, being masters in seige craft, and launched a ferocious assault on the Imperial Fists, who had amassed an entire company on foot in the ruins and defences of the Isthmus.

The Iron Warriors advanced rapidly, catching the loyalists rather by surprised. The traitors used the natural contours of the land and what cover the ruins afforded, ensuring the imperial fire was largely ineffective. The battle would necessarily come down to a violent and brutal hand to hand brawl. Aided by airborne power in the form of Helldrakes, which served to prevent imperial reserves from entering a now front-wide close combat, and one which the chaos forces, through brute force, were bound to win. Despite fighting stubbornly to the end the outcome was now inevitable, and by 2702.014M42 the Imperial Fists had been all but wiped out, and chaos had secured their grip on Aso and the city of Vorni. Wavell had stabilised theline south of the Aso isthmus, but the loss of almost a company of astartes was a painful blow to imperial capabilities.

At the same time, the daemonic forces leading the advance in the south along with the Emperor's Children, launched their own offensive. Perhaps the Iron Warriors had coordinated with their demonic allies in order to tie down forces in Mascata while the Iron Warriors assaulted Aso, but Wavell had always planned to defend the mainland, or what was left of it. Here the Blood Angels were performing a similar role to the Imperial Fists, aiming to halt the daemonic forces almost single handedly, despite being outnumbered and lacking any air cover. This would at least allow time for the imperial forces to dig in on a secondary front line should the first line of defence be penetrated.

The daemonic attack was violent and forceful, and despite their best efforts the Blood Angels were unable to hold the chaos horde for long. After two days of fighting the Blood Angels had to withdraw, allowing the traitor army to move into Mascata. The Imperial line had to be held much further west than they had intended, and by 2802.014M42 the armies defending against the Tau on the Nanali Sea front were in serious peril. The chaos and tau front lines were now a mere 100 miles apart, and one thrust would pinch out this pocket, isolating several hundred thousand imperial troops. Wavell now had an escape to prepare.

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