Monday, March 24, 2014

Zadoc: Chaos & Imperium in heavy fighting

While the political situation in the Libria system preoccupied the minds of many in Sector command during the latter part of 03.014M42, the war continued on Zadoc. General Wavell felt as if the imperium had already given up on the sector capital when Beattie's battlegroup, which had been shadowing the Tau in the Zadoc system, abandoned their station to head for the crisis at Libria. Never-the-less the general kept on fighting, although his forces were dwindling.

The general was therefore surprised on 1203.014M42 when three regiments of Krieg Death Corps, along with amore than a company of Raven Guard arrived on Zadoc. These reinforcements were greatfully recieved, although the Raven Guard made it clear that since they had been working closely with the Krieg units for sometime, they did not fall under the direct control of Wavell. Legally questionable, the general was happy to accept the terms of the arrangement, since the Raven Guard were more than happy to be directed to problem areas or have suggestions made to their operations. Wavell immediately pointed to the Isle of Aso and the north Foregi pocket. The Raven Guard agreed and deployed their forces accordingly.

On 1803.014M42 however, there was another blow to imperial morale when the city of Larrano fell. The main settlement on the Isle of Aso had been an obvious target for the forces of chaos, since their invasion of the islands earlier in the year. To counter the obvious next offensive the Raven Guard had deployed a third of their forces, including a full regiment of Death Corps to defend the city. Larrano had a narrow avenue of defence, lying on an isthmus on the shores of the Tucciomua sea, and the defences were strengthened in the week before the assault.

The Arch Cleric had no intention of taking the city by conventional means. Prior to the assault by his regular marines and cultists, a small insertion force of elite traitor astartes moved forward, calling on their master's dark pacts with the dark gods and unleashing a daemonic horde on the defenders. Although this had been considered a possible strategy by both Wavell and the Raven Guard, with the withdrawal of the imperial fleet the forces of the Emperor had given up even a token attempt to control the skies over Zadoc, and the flying daemons had free reign. After three days of fierce fighting, Larrano fell, with the survivors of the battle evacuating by ship to Riontas.

In the east however the Raven Guard had been putting their minds to the difficulties faced by the imperial units stuck in the north Foregi pocket. Cut off from the rest of the imperial force, the Foregi pocket needed to breakout, and to facilitate this the Raven Guard deployed two thirds of their strength including two regiments of Death Corps, mostly via a daring low level supply flight over the Mesoli sea, right under the noses of the alliance on Pizario, who were taken completely by surprise by the move. In concert with their brother astartes, the Apocalypse Riders, the Raven Guard planned a daring mission to take back the northern Isle of Anorigo and the city of Andiselie. The retaking of Andiselie had a number of attractive elements. First, it would secure a supply base for the Foregi pocket defenders. Secondly, it would cut the chaos forces in two and make naval and air supply to their armies on Aso and around the Pera Sea extremely difficult. Finally, it was unlikely the alliance would be able to take advantage of any imperial success, since their forces were tied down on the southern front.

The operation began on 2003.014M42 with the Raven Guard and well equipped Krieg units driving north from the imeprial held territory. They faced little resistance until they made the crossing by barge from the north of Foregi to the coast of Anorigo, a journey which took nearly a day of navigating perilous marshes and narrow channels of deeper water. Once the imperial force had arrived at Anorigo, the imperial guard had been pounding the city of Andiselie for over a day, ensuring the chaos forces knew well of the counter attack. The defenders, not the Arch Cleric or Iron Warriors' first rate units, found themselves resorting to daemonic defence once again, summoning a powerful host of warp spawned things, led by a daemon lord of tzeentch.

For a while the battle hung in tha balance, as the mystical powers of the chaos god protected his "children" from harm. Then for a brief period, no more than mere minutes, the power of the warp waned, and the daemons flickered. The Raven Guard commanders quickly realised what was going on and immediately ordered all units to attack at full strength. The murderous firepower of the imperium, coupled with the sudden weakening of the warp eliminated the daemon force, and Andiselie fell almost immediately.

On the left flank of the new offensive the Arch Cleric reacted by launching a counter attack. On 2303.014M42 a daemon host appeared north of Chettalo, moving east to cut off the Imperial offensive. However the Apocalypse Riders had been stationed as a rapid reaction force, and now moved to counter this new threat.

The Riders countered the Arch Cleric's move skillfuly. Using their highly mobile bike mounted units the astartes force pursued a policy of "infiltrate, isolate, destroy". Their twin linked boltguns fired a wall of shot into the skies, forcing many daemons to dive to the ground to take shelter. There they were vulnerable and one by one the larger beasts were finished off by the marines. One however appeared invincible, but rumour abound of the sudden appearance of the legendary "legion of the damned", who engaged the unholy daemon prince in an epic struggle, eliminating the beast as a threat and allowing the Apocalypse Riders to finish the job they had started.

The Arch Cleric found his forces, including a great unclean one and helldrakes scanning the skies, too slow and unwieldy to adequately contain the astartes force. The Riders proved skilled on their bikes, dodging the ungainly larger daemons and even able to take shelter from the helldrakes above. Eventually they found themselves charged by cultist units, but to little effect. After fierce fighting for the better part of a day, the daemon force had been cut to pieces, and had become strung out and disorganised trying to catch their enemy, who now held all the key objectives on the battlefield. Admitting defeat the Arch Cleric returned his forces to the warp, sealing the fate of any remaining cultists in east Chettalo.

By 2603.014M42 the victory of the Foregi pocket, led once again by astartes forces, but this time backed by a crucial imperial guard element, had given the commanders on Zadoc something to cheer about. Despite losing Lerrano, the imperium were close to victory over chaos in the north. The world hadn't yet been meekly abandoned to the alien and the heretic.

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