Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bastien: Iron Warriors defeat Imperial Fists but Arch Cleric defeated in space

Although the war on Zadoc against the alliance was far from decided, the defeat of the imperium on the subsector capital spurred on the Arch Cleric to put into effect the next part of his plan to reclaim the chaos empire. The alliance on Zadoc was an annoyance, but the plan all along had been to weaken the imperium to allow the recapture of the worlds in the Perseus Deeps - Bastien and Parthenope in particular, which had fallen to Veers crusade. the necrons had also claimed three chaos worlds for themselves, but the well defended Harakhty Dynasty had ceased its expansion and launching an attack on any of their worlds would almost certainly result in horrible defeat.

The Arch Cleric and the Word Bearers were in any case set on overthrowing the false emperor's servants, almost to the exclusion of all else. with this in mind the plan for the re-invasion of Bastien began to take form. Warmaster Stahl was at first unimpressed. The war on Zadoc was not concluded and the Iron Warrior leader was insistent that a new campaign in the Deeps would take great resources and weaken the position fo chaos. In addition his advisors favoured a gradual approach to retaking the Deeps, taking away the imperial supply bases one by one until Bastien was isolated and cut off. Stahl proposed an invasion of Minos, but the Word Bearers were adamant. A frontal assault would be launched, against Bastien. The Iron Warriors reluctantly agreed, and sent an initial force of ten thousand men to aid in the initial invasion. This force included over a hundred traitor marines and would help pave the way for the landings to come, but first the target needed to be softened up.

The Iron Warriors arrived at Bastien and were able to slip through the imperial defences with a small elite force travelling in chaos escort vessels. They landed near to the missile defence silos in the northern hemisphere and soon found their target defended by a large forec of Imperial Fists, who had arrived on Bastien as a precaution following the loss of Corticant station. Their hunch had been right and Bastien was the next target.

The Imperial Fists had deployed in a thin yellow line to the front of the main missile installation, the only viable path of attack open to any would be invader. The Iron Warriors accepted the challenge and advanced on the imperial positions, but before the Iron Warriors assault sections could strike the Imperial Fists opened up with a withering hail of fire, crippling Rhinos in an attempt to stall the advance. Despite the initial fusillade the Iron Warriors were already dug in and no significant damage was taken to the Maulerfiends and no Iron Warriors fell.

The chaos attack consisted simply of a headlong dash across no mans land into the teeth of the Imperial Fists' guns. Then the Imperial Fists realised their errors. On the left flank, in an attempt to secure a section of old ruins an Imperial Fists combat squad had left itself out of position and in range of a Maulerfiend, who gleefully attacked tearing them apart. On the right the Imperial Fists had also advanced, in an attempt to stall the advance of the Iron Warriors. Instead this simply allowed the Spawn to attack all the quicker, trapping the Librarian and the Marines in a brutal battle of attrition.

The Codicier commander in the centre was quickly losing control of the battle, with the Iron Warriors overrunning the left, right and about to attack the centre. He felt the build up of pressure within the warp, having lost more than half his force already and Hellbrute reinforcements about the close the trap he sounded the retreat. Moments later, the Codicier was torn apart by the Maulerfiends. The loyalist casualties mounted as the retreat became a full rout and the Iron Warriors took their opportunity to vent their hatred on the Imperial Fists.

The defeat of the space marines at the Bastien Missile Silo meant the orbital defences of the world had suffered a serious blow. Only the imperial fleet now stood between the forces of chaos and a full invasion of the most important imperial asset in the region. In the weeks since the imperial fleet's defeat against Tragean, Admiral Jellicoe had re-organised his battlegroups. He now had four larger battlegroups instead of the previous six. The battlegroups were assigned to the Vastrid and Zadoc subsectors, and one remained in the Deeps. Admiral Pendragon's fleet, under rapair at Vastrid, was kept as a rapid reaction force.

Jellicoe placed Admiral beattie in charge of the fleet in the Zadoc subsector, giving command of the Vastrid battlegroup to Admiral Cardale. The Perseus Deeps command he kept himself, and two battleships including Iron Duke were assigned to the region. However as 10.014M42 came to an end Jellicoe still had three of his battleships in refit or under repair, and he was forced to split his forces to cover various threats in the Perseus Deeps. To Bastien he assigned a powerful flotilla of six cruisers and three sword class excorts. No sooner had the force arrived, than the Word Bearer's fleet appeared at the Deep Space jump point.

The Arch Cleric had not brought his full invasion fleet. The chaos vessels were at Bastien with one purpose; clear the system of imperial vessels to pave the way for invasion, and as soon as they reappeared from their warp transit the six cruisers and one battleship of the chaos fleet moved in system to face their enemy.

The chaos fleet followed standard doctrine, forming a traditional battle arc across the imperial "T", bringing their long range weapons batteries and staggering lance fire into play as soon as possible. The imperial fleet, led by the battlecruiser Valiant stuck to their own naval standing orders, facing the enemy and firing their three nova cannons at the enemy to break up his formation. The results went badly for the imperium early on as Valiant took crippling damage from the ferocious chaos lance fire, while the Illustrious, Benbow and Implacable were unable to land telling hits with their massive firepower. As the fleets slowly converged the Valiant disengaged, burning, and the carrier Drake found herself exposed on the starboard wing of the imperial fleet. The salvaged dictator cruiser took hit after hit, and she seemed unable to disengage and more prone to damage than would be expected of a standard imperial cruiser. At 14:23 local time the ex-rogue trader vessel detonated spectacularly, but fortunately the rest of the imperial fleet was able to get well clear of the explosion and avoided damage.

The loss of Drake had not been the first casualty of the battle. The hades class Sword of Ajax had decided to close directly with the imperial fleet to ensure all her lances were able to come to bear on the imperial fleet, but this move exposed her to the full firepower of Jellicoe's vessels, and eventually she was obliterated in an enormous fireball.

The battle continued with the imperial fleet attempting to edge behind the main chaos battle line while the Word Bearer's strove to keep the imperial fleet at arms length at a range where their own weapons could fire but the shorter ranged imperial batteries were unable to reply. However this tactic allowed the imperium to repeatedly pummel the chaos vessels with nova cannon fire, and the battleship Savage Messiah took heavy damage before quitting the battlefield. Worse was to follow for the chaos fleet, as the imperium first hulked the Fortress of Hate after finishing her off with waves of bombers from Illustrious, and a lucky salvo of nova cannon fire reduced Divine Anarchy to wreckage in scant minutes.

The gothic class Hogue was badly damaged in the engagement, but at 16:00 the chaos admiral abandoned the attack leaving the imperial fleet in control of the Bastien system. The imperial fleet had won a substantial victory and prevented the invasion of the world at least for the time being.

Order of Battle

Valiant (Crippled)
Hogue (Crippled)
Drake (Exploded)
3 swords

Savage Messiah (Crippled)
Sword of Ajax (Exploded)
Fortress of Hate (Hulked)
Warp Revelator
Divine Anarchy (Hulked)
Agonising Demise
Unholy Flame

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