Monday, May 05, 2014

Libria I: Northern cities fall to allied advance

In the Librian system the adeptus mechanicus assault on "loyalist" forces continued. In an attempt to prevent further bloodshed General Abrahams attempted to contact Inquisitor Vorushko and the Mechanicum directly, but his attempts were unsuccessful. Inquisitor Hathek, now by Abraham's side, told the general this was Vorushko's private agenda and that he would resist her at all costs. Some of Abraham's senior commanders advised him to surrender on Libria I, but the lord General was unmoved. He was the commander on the ground and would not be moved while an Inquisitor lord was instructing him to resist. The troops on Libria I would continue resisting what Abrahams considered an illegal action by the Mechanicum, fuelled by their own greed and ambition to acquire the forgeworld.

The war on Libria I took an even more sinister turn on 0105.014M42 when the Crimson Fists deployed to the planet in order to stiffen the defences of the loyalist forces. The astartes chapter concurred with Hathek, considering the Vorushko and the Mechanicum acting beyond their remit. Perhaps a deployment of Astartes would deter them. In fact only two days after their deployment, the Crimson Fists were asaulted, by a force of Tau and Eldar connected to Commander Windgather, taking them completely by surprise.

The Tau-Eldar force made swift progress, forcing their way through the Imperial front lines. At the same time reports came in that further north the Mechanicum had broken through, a sure sign the Xenos were acting in concernt with the Adeptus Mechanicus. After the inital shock the loyalist forces regained their composure, and were able to oppose the combined enemy force near Carteret. If the tide could be turned here the northern settlements of Slater & Kell could yet be saved. The Crimson Fists added their strength to a large force of Novgorod Guard, who squared off against the Mechanicum force, which now had Windgather's troops on its left flank.

The battle was a bloody and attritional affair, but the loyalist force was unable to halt the enemy assault. Thousands of Novgorod Guard died to punishing Mechanicum fire and accurate Xenos volleys. Carteret fell and the loyalists fell back to the capital Hector. Almost half the planet had been lost and now it appeared they were facing the tau on two sides of the same war. Confused, the loyalists looked for meaning in the alliance.

In fact Vorushko and her "Crusade" positively loathed the tau and the eldar, and her long term plan was to annihilate them and their designs on the Imperium. The inquisitor was however not stupid. She could not afford, yet, to engage the rebels, the tau amd the imperial loyalists. When the tau force arrived along with its eldar allies, Vorushko offered an alliance of convenience. For now Vorushko wanted Libria I to begin her plan to create an army capable of assaulting Libria III. The tau and eldar meanwhile knew that if the Crusade failed to have a significant impact, the loyalists would overwhelm the rebel forces on Libria III. All their hard work would be undone to take Libria from within. The Crusade had to present a serious threat, allowing the tau to intervene on Libria III before Vorushko had her army.

It was a gamble, with both sides attempting to take advantage of one another, and Vorushko showed she wasn't above any means to achieve her goals. It was particularly galling to Hathek, who had been accused of heresy for arranging an alliance with the tau and eldar in the past, by agents of Vorushko herself.

Even more dangerous news then arrived on 0905.014M42. While the loyalist forces at Hector built up their defences against the inevitable onslaught, the Apocalypse Riders appeared, attacking the Novgorod Guard across a broad plain which had been turned into a quagmire overnight by unseasonable rainstorms. It took a few minutes for the Novgorod units to understand what was happening, but then a wall of fire erupted from the loyalist lines as the astartes charged in.

On the left and centre of the attack, the Riders quickly got into difficulties in the muddy ground, and were beaten back by the loyalist firepower, suffering significant casualties. However on the right flank, firmer ground allowed a drive directly at the main battlefield strategic positions. The astartes force swept round to assault the Guard armoured units and command structure, leaving mere conscripts holding one key position but the remaining bikers occupying two. Their defensive perimeter compromised, the Guard were now vulnerable to direct assault.

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