Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chaos advance on all fronts

During 10.014M42 the activities of the servants of the dark gods indicated that their power was once again rising, although only a few realised it. The eldar perhaps forsaw the machinations of chaos, and some in the inquition were certainly becoming alarmed, although with the librian heresy ongoing and the new threats rising in the Vastrid sector, their warnings largely went unheaded by the head of the sector, Titus Luthor. Luthor was in fact pre-occupied with attempting to bring the Crusade and loyalist forces back together, though with little success. Inquisitor Vorushko warned Luthor not to aid her enemy, Hathek, but the imperial commander was in a tight spot indeed, caught between two warring inquisitor lords.

While Luthor vascillated, Chaos acted. The Arch Cleric struck again in the Zadoc subsector. After the Word Bearers and their daemonic allies had failed on Tyranteous, they had moved on and taken half of the subsector capital itself, although the Alliance had become involved and thwarted his plans, at least for now. This time the chaos despot put in motion a new plan, attacking the orks on Fort Aerin. The Arch Cleric knew that control of this strategic location would threaten the alliance supply lines in the Mabb nebula, so on 2010.014M42 the now familar daemonic hordes fell upon the greenskins of Otto Von Bismork, who was using the base to tranfer his forces into the Zadoc subsector from the Vork Ork Expanse. The orks, taken by surprise, were routed, allowing the Word Bearers to gain a foothold on the fortress world.

Meanwhile Warsmith Stahl was not to be outdone by his chaotic rival. The Iron Warriors leader launched a new offensive on Zadoc, attacking the city of Andisele which had recently been seized by the alliance. Stahl had received intriguing intelligence from a despised but useful tzeentch sorcerer, whose scrying had determined that while the alliance were engaged in finishing off the imperium in the west, they had left Andisele relatively unguarded. Lacking sufficient troops to effectively garrison all their cities on the world, the Rillietan had arranged for the Shattered Silence to hold the city while more tau forces were brought up. This was unfortunate for the alliance however.

The Archon of the Shattered Silence, already under threat from rivals within in his own domain, used this as an opportunity. Although publicly defending his daliance with the alliance, the Archon of the dark eldar kabal grew tired of his obligations to the harlequins, and the forces he sent to Zadoc were untried in battle, and lead by a particularly ruthless and hot headed commander who saw himself as a future leader of the kabal. The dark eldar occupation of Andisele was particularly unpleasant for the inhabitants, though thankfully brief. For three days the twisted kin of the eldar ransacked the city, enslaving thousands and carting them off into the webway, before the Iron Warriors attacked. The dark eldar commander, rash and overconfident, immediately attacked the chaos forces, allowing Stahls men to get up close and personal. The battle was brutal and brief. After the lead elements of the dark eldar were annihilated, the remainder fled into the webway. The dwindling residents of the former imperial city now had one despotic and brutal regime replaced by another, as the city was claimed by chaos.

The next blow fell in an unexpected place. For weeks the imperial navy had been covering up the fact that in 08.014M42 admiral Cardale's battlegroup had been ambushed near Mordecai with the loss of the battleship Resolution, the Oberon class battleship having been reduced to a hulk by Lord Tragean's fleet. While Jellicoe had the venerable battleship towed to Vastrid, he kept secret from Titus Luthor the fact that a powerful battlegroup was now at large in the Perseus Deeps. In accordance with both Stahl's and the Arch Cleric's plans, Lord Tragean moved on to Corticant, where the Necron forces had lapsed into an attritional trench war against the imperial forces. However it was not for Corticant itself that Tragean's forces arrived at Corticant on 1910.014M42, but for the large and strategically vital space station in the system. A station which served as a supply base for imperial fleets acting in the Deeps.Jellicoe had suspected such a move, and had Admiral Pendragon's fleet return from the Vastrid subsector for repairs at Corticant. If Tragean moved against the station there, his fleet would be waiting.

The chaos warfleet detected the imperial battlegroup and immediately went to battle stations. Pendragon's vessels attempted to close quickly, but confusion and miscommunication meant the imperial vessels became strung out, closing with the chaos fleet one at a time rather than in a coherent formation. Worse, their dominator class vessel, Sir Tristran, was well off the mark with its long range nova cannon, and the mighty weapon did next to no damage throughout the engagement. One by one Pendragon's vessels were crippled from the massive macrocannon and lance fire of Tragean's fleet, and were forced to disengage. The grand cruiser Sir Bors landed a few hits before being crippled, but the imperial fleet had four capital vessels badly damaged, while Tragean's fleet were left with only superficial damage. It could have been far worse however, as the shooting on both sides was particularly inaccurate, and Pendragon was in fact lucky not to lose at least one capital vessel. The battered imperial fleet limped back to dock at Farport, abandoning the station at Corticant to its fate.

The result was inevitable. The Corticant station was no fighting installation, and though it fired its weapons at the advancing chaos fleet, they had no effect as the chaos vessels simply stood off at long range and pummelled the imperial installation to ruins. Once disabled, the chaos admiral allowed his khornate worshippers the final kill, and thousands of imperial navy personell met their end hacked apart by chain axes, claws and clubs in the ensuing boarding actions. The forces of chaos, acting together, had taken out a key imperial installation, and the imperium waited and wondered where they would strike next. They didn't have long to wait.

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