Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fortress Zadoc

**To assault Fortress Zadoc a special mission will be required. In addition all wins will gain the attacker only one square as the islands have been heavily fortified.**

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Librian Heresy: Descent to war

The events leading up to full scale war between imperial factions were complex and remain confused. By the middle of 04.014M42 the Adeptus Mechanicus had siezed Ansonville and Fort Cobb on Libria I. Natalia Vorushko had realised that Inquisitor Hathek would not recognise her authority, nor would he join her in her crusade against Libria. Vorushko now had powerful allies and a crusade force was being formed to strike fear into the hearts of any man, but on its own it would not be able to secure and hold the entire system. The Inquisitor needed more men.

She had approached Titus Luthor, commander of the sector, with whom she had a strong personal relationship. This relationship also meant Luthor was able to explain his predicament. Inquisitor Hathek also bore the same rank as Vorushko, and he would not get involved in a war between inquisitors. Luthor had sent forces under General Abrahams to the Libria system with orders to help crush the rebellion. They would continue that mission.

Natalia Vorushko left Vastrid on 1204_014M42 en route to the Libria system. She realised she would have to travel in person to organise her crusade. Luthor had made it plain that only the defeat of Hathek himself would allow the imperial guard to unambiguously follow her orders. She had replied that this would lead to bloodshed between the imperium as she intended to follow through on her edict, no matter the cost. The sector commander had merely shrugged. That was the last time the two had spoken.

The plan now was straightforward, if complicated by Hathek's intervention. The crusade force would secure Libria I for the Mechanicum, using its vast resources and one billion population to create a new crusade army under her control. Once complete, the fleets of the Minotaurs, Carcharadons, Sky Lords and the Mechanicus should be sufficient to mount an invasion of Libria III and win the war, even if the navy made a stand, which she doubted. Then she could begin the systematic exploitation of the entire system for the good of mankind.

Her first task following the conquest of the system would be to squeeze every last drop of wealth out of Libria. Mining, manufacturing and the exploitation of natural resources would be stepped up on a gigantic scale. Over the course of ten years Libria would be stripped clean. Vast fleets would carry that wealth away to safer worlds and its people would be inducted into the imperial guard or other vital services. No one would remain. After this ten year period Libria, and surrounding systems supporting biological life, would be subjected to the Exterminatus, rendering them lifeless and barren.

This was Vorushko's grand plan, and one she had envisaged long before she arrived in the sector. She would create a "fire break" between the imperium and the alien, halting the main tyranid advance and preventing further encroachment of the tau empire. She had approval from her superiors in the inquisition, but also enemies, She knew if she failed, the fall of the rest of the sector would only be hastened. Sacrifices, however horrific, were needed to ensure the future of her race.

First Libria I had to be captured. The Lunar Guard - a loyalit force under General Abrahams - had been badly mauled by her allies. Abrahams had been contacted by Hathek, who had succesfully convinced the general that there were now "seditious elements" in the inquisition who had powerful allies. Hathek was determined to thwart Vorushko - as he had thwarted the dangerously unstable Inquisitor Xanthus. From now on the loyalist forces under Abrahams were effectively Hathek's.

While the imperium descended inexorably into civil war on Libria, the Federacy were discussing at length their response. Representatives from Hartak and Aleph V were keen to send a strong force to Libria. Their brothers and neighbours had asked for help, surely the Federacy must answer. Others, notably those from Cerberex and Tallax, remained less convinced. If the Federal fleet suffered losses at Libria, who would defend the home worlds? War was still raging on Cerberex and the forces the Federacy could muster could be easily swept aside if the imperium was to exercise her full might. Debates continued during 04.014M42, but the federal fleet was mustered at Hartak.

The Tau also coveted Libria, though they knew that a combined effort with the Federacy gave them their best chance of success. For years they had been proping up a failing regime in the system, but this had been uncovered too soon by the inquisition. Fortunately the imperium had decended into petty internal squabbling, giving the rebels a breathing space. However the tau were also in no position to immediately aid their new friends on Libria. War continued on Zadoc, and the orks and tyranids posed a significant threat to the tau right flank in the Zadoc subsector. With the establishment of "Fort Zadoc" and the vast swathe of the planet under chaos dominion, the war would take some time to conclude. Even so, the tau were unwilling to throw away the opportunity which now presented itself. On 1604.014M42 they sent a high ranking ethereal and members of the water caste for talks with the Federacy on Hartak. The question was whether the alliance would now show its hand in the Librian conflict.

Nemesis launch major offensive on Fort Sparcos

After months of inactivity the battle between hive fleet Nemesis and the orks on Fort Sparcos flared into life once more during 03-04.014M42. In a renewed and violent offensive, the tyranids threw themselves at the ork defences, breaking them at their weakest points and forcing their way into the outer perimeter of the now heavily modified fort, suggesting Nemesis had been spending a great deal of time identifying the most efficient method of breaking into the gigantic fortification. Da Verminators forces were quickly routed, and the orks fell back to a tighter ring of defences. The tyranids had tightened the noose and now quiet fell over the devastated ruins of the once proud imperial fortification, preparing for the next move in the ongoing long running seige.

Mechanicum assault Libria I

The opening shots of the Librian Heresy had already taken place with the Dark Angels uncovering of the Heresy in late 013M42. However, in early 04.014M42 the war took the first sinister turn, when one set of imperial forces fought another on Libria I. Neither were Librian.

During the first few months of 014M42 the Librian crisis had led to a brief civil war on Libria I and II which, thanks to the energy and directin of Lord Inquisitor Hathek, had been won by "loyalists", who executed the leaders of those wishing to join the Federacy, a known ally or even client state of the Tau Empire. On Libria III the civil war had devolved into stalemate, with the military coup unable to pacify all of the civilised world. Battle lines had been drawn and to aid the loyalists, the Imperial guard had been mobilised with hundreds of regiments directed to the system. Admiral Jellicoe had dispatched Admiral Beattie's battlegroup to help the operations and protect the transitting guard forces. In addition to the imperial guard, the Crimson Fists, Imperial Fists and Blood Martyrs had already pledged support for the liberation of Libria III from the rebels, under lord Hathek's direction. However, Hathek wasn't the only Inquisitor with an interest in Libria.

As an amalthian, Inquisitor Lord Hathek aimed to salvage as much as he could from the Librian situation. The Dark Angels had uncovered the dark secret at the heart of the system, but now the good people of Libria had risen up against their leaders. He felt sure Inquistior Vorushko, who had declared the entire system excommunicate traitoris, would now rescind the order, despite her initial unyielding remarks. He couldn't have been more wrong.

Unfortunately for Hathek, Vorushko subscribed to the tennets of Istvaanianism, believing the imperium was at its strongest during conflict. She had also decided that the war in the Aleph sector could only be won with absolute commitment and the exploitation of all resources at the imperium's disposal. Libria to her was not just an asset, but a vast resource to be plundered. By declaring the system traitor, she had planned to terrorise the population into submission, then enslave them through crippling tithes and proclamations. This she surmised, would be enough to turn the tide against the imperium's enemies. She would gladly sacrifice Libria (which she felt was liable to fall anyway) in order to stop the tyranids, the orks, the tau...

Vorushko already had several astartes in her "crusade", the Carcharadons chief among them, and planned to use them to ensure Libria toed the line and accepted its fate. With the sector governor Titus Luthor effectively under her direction, she felt no threat from the imperial guard, and she knew that whatever she decided the imperial navy would not get involved in matters of politics. She had however sorely underestimated Lord Hathek, who she now bitterly resented for ruining her careful plans.

Natalia Vorushko was nothing if not a quick thinker however, and she quickly adapted her plans to meet the new situation. So hathek had a force of guard and some astartes flocking to his cause, but she knew that strategy would win the battle, not sheer numbers. The battle for Libria would now be all the more bloody, but in the end she was sure her aims would be met, and there would be a greater number of veteran imperial guard units to boot...

The next part of her plan now swung into action. On 0304.014M42 the Adeptus Mechanicus deployed their forces on the forge world of Libria I. They had hoped only to meet local Librian "loyalists", but Hathek had requested a non-Librian unit be stationed on the world as an insurance policy and a reminder to the Librians to keep their word and their place in the wider imperium. A Lunar Guard regiment just happened to stand in the way of the Adeptus Mechanicus and their objectives. The Mechanicum force weighed up the possible approaches they could take, before ultimately calculating that diplomacy would be a waste of time and they would be able to secure their first objective through force. The Adeptus Mechanicus then attacked the Lunar Guard.

The Lunar regiment at first reacted in shock, but recovered their wits quickly, launching a counter attack while all the while protesting their loyalist credentials to their enemy. The Mechanicum didn't listen, merely pursuing their objectives and destroying the mechanised regiment which stood in their way. The Lunar guard were defeated and the survivors fell back, abandoning their positions which had been protecting one of the many factorum settlements on the world, still oblivious as to the meaning of the assault. Some even believed the Mechanicum were agents of the Enemy, or Dark Mechanicus.

In fact the Adeptus Mechanicus had been envious of Libria I for many centuries. As part of its reintroduction to the imperium, the forge world had been able to continue to operate outside of Mechanicum control, under the ancient agreement almost a millenia old. This had been a political move at the time, easing the passage of the wealthy system into the imperium, as Mechanicus involvement into the Librian tradition may well have upset the delicate negotiations. Now it was used as an excuse for war by Inquisitor Vorushko, who informed the tech priests that STC data was present on Libria I, information which had been deliberately withheld by the Inquisition. She then explained her intentions, showing the Mechanicus that in time Libria would fall under her edict in any case, and that early securing of Libria I would be advantageous to her crusade. If the Mechanicum could secure the planet for her, they would get to keep it, and its STC information. It was a proposal the tech priests of Mars could not turn down, and from that moment they committed their forces to her "crusade".

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Thursday, April 03, 2014

"Non Alliance" Eldar continue campaign

The end of 03.014M42 saw the continuation of the eldar sector wide agenda, or more accurately, agendas of disparate eldar groups. The fractious nature of the alien race was now obvious to inquisitor Huron, and it came as no surprise to him when he heard that the Iyanden forces had been taken by surprise and massacred on Sentinel. The former imperial colony had fallen to the eldar in 012M42, after confusing battles which involved the forces of chaos, the necrons and the eldar. Eventually the Rillietan had aided Iyanden and the planet had fallen. The raid on Sentinel was moderate, and involved the summoning of a large daemon host belonging to a group known as Shaidar Haran. Previously a powerful influence in the subsector many had thought Shaidar Haran had disappeared entirely, but their appearance on the eldar world signalled the continued presence of this powerful if capricious entity.

Meanwhile following the Crimson Fists intervention on Gabriel's World, the imperial garrison had been reinforced by a regiment of Lunar Guard, recently brought into the sector by imperial high command. The guard regiments were deployed in a defensive posture, ready for an eldar attack once the astartes had left, and the Disciples of Ynnead didn't disappoint. On 0104.014M42 the eldar attacked again, and this time in even greater numbers. The ferocity of this second attack suggested the first had been merely a probe, and now that the Crimson Fists were not around to thwart them, the eldar crushed the imperial guard arrayed against them. The imperial line fell back, abandoning several outlying settlements to the aliens. The Disciples now had a foothold on Gabriel's World, and Marshall Foche thought about calling for general assistance.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Zadoc: imperial defeats

The Imperium on Zadoc had little time to celebrate the victories of the astartes against the forces of chaos. The Arch Cleric responded swiftly to the loss of Andiselie, moving a large force of cultists and summoned daemons to the front line. The cultists died in droves but they served their purpose, by now the daemons had been summoned and began ripping into imperial lines.

Since the astartes had been redeployed following their successful mission, the defenders of the newly won city were the Darantine Guard, who had been moved onto the island of Anorigo via Vendetta and Valkyrie. Indeed their access to aircraft led to their deployment on the northern island. The Darantine regiment were well equipped to deal with many threats, but the daemonic force which fell upon the city on 2503.014M42 was particularly potent. The battle was exceptionally bloody and soont he city had been surrounded. Any who could escape did, mostly by daring flights by Darantine pilots. Those who remained died.

By 2703.014M42 Andiselie had been retaken by the Arch Cleric and the battle lines had been returned to close to their original positions. It was a bitter blow for General Wavell, but in the south, the imperium were about to experience a rollercoaster of emotions in the space of 24 hours.

The southern imperial salient had been an obvious area of advance for the alliance forces on Zadoc for some time. Sine 013M42 over a million imperial defenders were in positions which would be isolated if the tau and their allies could reach the southern ice cap in force. Trapped between the Nanali Sea and the ice cap, the Zadocian and Librian forces defending the region of Cata. Cata itself was a cold plain featuring many small lakes and seas, and difficult enough to transport troops across. Defences in the east against the tau had been strengthened, but in the west permanent defences were hard to maintain given the terrain. South of Pereggor only 100km separated the tau front line and the impassable ice cap, and it was here the alliance planned to make their move.

Commander Shadowstrike took the responsibility of the new offensive, and dealt with the Rillietan directly. The eldar seemed keen that the tau get on with defeating the imperium and were able to provide a significant force. The eldar would drive east, into the pocket, while Shadowstrike would overwhelm the Librians defending the narrow strip of land to the south of the ity which dominated the southern plains. Windgather was to be held in reserve as a rapid reaction force should anything go wrong. The plan decided, the alliance troops moved into positions.

The alliance had no idea that the Apocalypse Riders knew of commander Windgather's location until a force of astarted roared out of some scrubland close to his headquarters. Reacting quickly, Windgather drew up his forces and attempted to deal with the small imperial force now making a nuisance of itself, but this was a carefully planned astarted trap.

The Apocalypse Riders and Raptors had identified commander Windgather as an intolerable threat to the imperium after several defeats. Now, as Windgather personally led his forces out into the field the Legion of the Damned suddenly appeared. Concentrated fire took down two of Windgather's bodyguard while the broadsides next to him were also taken out. Worse still more bikes appeared, dropping the tau riptide and heading straight for the tau leader. With the eldar - and importantly their mighty Wraithknight - lured forward to deal with the bikers who had appeared first, Windgather now knew the plan the astartes had for him.

For the first time since arriving in the subsector Windgather was in serious danger. He heeded his bodyguard's advice and fled the battle, narrowly escaping death before jumping out of the murderous fire arcs of the Apocalypse Riders. His forces, and his eldar allies, would now have to fend for themselves. In the following hours a nip and tuck battle between the remaining alliance forces and the astartes lead to a tactical victory for the imperium, before reinforcements appeared and the Riders were obliged to withdraw.

Despite not having killed Windgather, he and the other tau commanders were shaken by the realisation that despite their overwhelming technological advantage they were not invulnerable to the imperial elite warriors. Now they knew that the astartes had Windgather as a personal target, this made them all the more uneasy. The planned offensive for early 04.014M42 was accelerated. The alliance needed to strike back swiftly.

Shadowstrike's attack began on 2803.014M42 with the eldar thrust into the Cata pocket. This was an expected move and no sooner had the Zadocian Guard reported contact with the enemy the imperial counter for this move went into effect. The Ultramarines soon arrived in order to turn back the Rillietan force, and for a while it looked possible. However the astartes force was unable to defeat the eldar and a gap opened up in the imperial defences. A gap wide enough for Shadowstrike's force to fit through.

The gap opened up by the Rillietan allowed Shadowstrike to circumvent the imperial defences and attack the Librian defenders in the flank. However Wavell had anticipated this move and deployed his forces in depth. In addition the Librians had recently been reinforced by a Knight Errant which now stood looming over the Imperial Guard units like a protective god.

The local commander on the ground, captain Grendell, was horrified at the sheer scale of the offensive. Shadowstrike had amassed a truly enormous army and was now driving it towards the Librian defenders. The imperial forces were astonished at the number of tau and kroot they were facing, supported by Hammerheads, crisis suits, riptides and Piranhas. It seemed as if the whole tau army was ranged against them.

Never-the-less the Imperium counter attacked, attempting to catch Shadowstrike's forces by surprise, slow them down and allow the Imperial heavy weapons to take their toll. At first this seemed to work, as the Knight drew a huge amount of the tau firepower, enabling the Librian Guard to move forward largely unmolested. Shadowstrike's concentrated firepower quickly overwhelmed the Knight's shielding, and the explosion which followed destroyed many in the tau lines, but doomed the imperial counter attack. Free from having to tackle the imperial war engine, the tau now unleashed their full firepower into the Librian advance, destroying their armoured support and crippling their mechanised advance. The counter-assault stopped in its tracks, and now Captain Grendell found himself losing men rapidly. The tau firepower was awesome to behold, and by 0104.014M42 Grendell's position had been overrun, and he had died with his regiment.

General Wavell now realised that given the size of the alliance attack, it could not be held. Nothing could be done for the million men in the Cata pocket, and after a month, all but a few isolated pockets had surrendered to the Tau. Meanwhile the General sought permission from his overall commander to withdraw. He had a new plan, centred around stubborn defence. Wavel would retreat from the Zadoc continent, using whatever transport he could find and whatever means necessary. It would be a difficult operation, but if he could retrieve his troops from the mainland and build up his defences on the islands that remained under imperial control, he could hold out for years if necessary. By then, with any luck his supply problems would be solved and reinforcements would arrive while the Tau and Chaos forces battled each other on the main continent. All he could do now was hold until relieved.

Given that this was a realistic and sound plan it recieved the assent of the commander of imperial forces in the subsector General Montgomery. Titus Luthor gave his tacit approval ad the inquisition and commissariat made no comment. The way was clear for operation deliverance to begin.