Northern Front: Battle of the Islands
In the north the first few weeks of 06.014M42 saw co-ordinated attacks by the forces of chaos against the imperial controlled islands of Cariode and Hannuse. Launching operations from Reggia, the Iron Warriors landed a significant force on the more southern and populous island, aiming to take the important city of Montene. Cariode was simultaneously attacked by the Arch Cleric, who used a small insertion force to summon a daemonic host which quickly overwhelmed the imperial garison.
The response by the imperium to the daemonic incursion on Cariode was swift, with the Apocalypse Riders launching an immediate counter assault. They soon found their daemonic enemy and used their land speeders for long range fire support, while their highly mobile bike squads sped towards the enemy. The astartes took the fight to the enemy daemon princes, using a line of bikers to feign defeat, drawing their enemy into the open. Then the Apocalypse Riders launched a devastating - if late - flanking attack, with deepstriking elite infantry adding to the confusion. The highly mobile imperial force was able to use this ability to its advantage and the daemon army was gradually carved up and dealt with in turn. The commander of the Riders proved particularly heroic, leading his command squad against the fiercest of enemy foes and taking down two daemon princes and finishing off a Great Unclean One. By the end of 0406.014M42 the island was declared clean of daemons, and the few cultists left on Cariode were enthusiastically hunted down and slaughtered.
Further south and west on Hannuse things were not going as well for the Lunar Guard and Imperial Fists, who had been detailed to defend the city of Montene against the Iron Warriors. The Lunar Guard heavy armour, including a number of venerable Executioner Leman Russ should have been a deciding factor against the traitor forces, but their gunnery was exceptionally poor. A counter attack by the Imperial Fists who had commandeered several Vendettas floudered as Helldrakes ripped the navy craft from the sky, while foul magicks employed by the heretics obscured critical assets from view, allowing them to close with the imperial line. Overwhlemed by the assualt in less than two days the city and the rest of Hannuse was overrun. The Imperial Fists evacuated while the Lunar Guard were left to their - unpleasant - fate. Having watched their expendable minions and constructs destroy the enemy, the Iron Warriors themselves secured the city and began the usual practice of fortification.
Breakout from Aso Bridgehead
For several days the bridgehead on southern Aso had been held by the alliance against repeated probing attacks by the imperial defenders. During that time they had managed to open a webway portal and use their dominance of the skies to build up their forces in the Larrano pocket. On 0206.014M42 the breakout began as the alliance made their bid to wipe the imperium from Aso.
The alliance advance was split into two thrusts. In the east commander Windgather led his combined tau and eldar forces up the east coast towards Flavi, where he encountered strong Lunar Guard resistance and a counter attack from a company of Imperial Fists, but this was brushed aside and running battles developed along the road to Vorni. The remaining imperial defenders made a last stand at Serianna but were wiped out in a battle lasting just over three days.
On Windgather's left flank, commander Skyfall was tasked with protecting Windgather's advance. This nearly went disasterously wrong as the Novgorod Guard launched a strong offensive just as Windgather was making his breakout towards the north. The imperial force ground forward with relentless momentum, and the tau, despite inflicting horrendous casualties, were force to retreat. Tau high command became alarmed. If Skyfall did not stop the retreat Windgather would be cut off from his supply, and the assault on Aso would become a debacle.
Skyfall did not panic. Instead he continued to yield ground against the Novgorod while preparing his own outflanking manouevre. On 0406.014M42 Skyfall landed a hunter cadre to the north of the Gordinia road and launched an attack on the imperial supply line, protected by the Librian 23rd Armoured and 14th Infantry regiments. In the ensuing battle the tau rode their luck somewhat, as their Riptide in particular proved especially resilient to the imperial firepower. the tau were also lucky in catching the librians at watch change, a fortuitous event which allowed Skyfall's forces to sieze the initiative and deal a greater deal of damage early on than could have been reasonably expected. However it was the tau force's mobility which proved decisive. Early on the tau were able to capture key objectives, effectively pinning the Librians in place. Despite fighting hard the imperial forces were unable to escape the trap, and slowly the remining resistance on the road was eliminated. By 0606.014M42 the Novgorod Guard were feeling the effects. Cut off from supply and with the enemy on three sides their push into Larrano was abruptly ended. Now the remaining guardsmen dug in, preparing for the inevitable tau counter attack.
It never came. With no further meaningful imperial resistance the tau captured the rest of Aso by 1006.014M42 except for the remaining pocket of Novgorod guard. After refusing to surrender the imperial infantry were slaughtered in just over two days by a leisurely stand off bombardment by alliance forces. Any survivors were captured and led away to re-education camps. Aso had been secured and the chaos controlled city of Vorni was put under siege.
Alliance push on Andiselli
While the forces of chaos and the alliance battered the imperium from all sides, the alliance chose to launch a probing attack against the chaos front line in fromt of Andiselle. Both sides were now realising that before long the battle of Zadoc would be a fight between chaos and the alliance but until the imperium was eliminated there seemed to be little interest in prosecuting the war against one another in any meaningful way. On 0306.014M42 the alliance sent a relatively small Biel Tan force against the Arch Cleric, who responded with an equivalent force of summoned daemons. Over the next few days the battle raged over the valley protecting Andiselle, with the eldar forces eventually prevailing. However the alliance, having made gains, did not press home their attack, happy to have established their dominance, at least for now. The Arch Cleric similarly did not escalate. He had lost a battle, but he had not been caught out by the eldar. For now the front line againat the alliance was vastly overshadowed by the war against the imperium.