Saturday, November 22, 2014

Imperial reversals on Hylas

On Hylas the orks kept up the pressure on Van Dorn's men after the fall of Sarina. By 2211.014M42 the imperial general had managed to redeploy a number of regiments to the north, including the Novgorod Guard, sacrificing any chance of continuing the advance on the three settlements bordering the Saltmarch - Desmond, Finlay and Benger. Van Dorn had hoped to wrestle these out of the orks' grip, but now Von Bismork was making a headling thrust towards Seaford.

The Novgorod Guard were able to deploy across the Seaford road, blocking the orks advance on the Seaford peninsular. However Von Bismork's boyz attacked the imperial positions with enthusiasm, and despite their heavy artillery, the relatively static infantry of the Novgorod regiments found it difficult to react to Bismork's "armered" assaults. By 2511.014M42 the Novgorod regiment had been pushed back nearly one hundred miles, and the settlements of Seaford were now at risk. Van Dorn urgently put into action the plans he had to defend Collingwood, as the loss of this city would split the imperial forces in two and guarantee an ork victory without intervention from elsewhere.

Van Dorn also sent astropathic messages urgently requesting aid, he needed a strike force, astartes perhaps, which could deal with Von Bismork and destroy the ork army's elite forces. However, his astropaths soon informed Van Dorn that the system was swarming with greenskins. The "Bork" fleet had arrived, and was gradually moving in system. This meant even more orks to deal with and behind closed doors Van Dorn was convinced the war would be lost.

Hopes for the imperium rested on Admiral Pendragon's fleet. Although the battleship Sir Gallahad was in the Perseus Deeps along with several other cruisers, a large cruiser force led by the grand cruiser sir Bors had been shadowing the orks for nearly a month, following their redeployment from Bastien. Jellicoe had split Pendragon's forces between the Deeps and the Mabb nebula, along with his standing battlegroups, but it was Pendragon's fleet who were finding the enemy while Jellicoe's other commanders were left chasing shadows. The exception being admiral Beattie, who Jellicoe dearly wished had not in fact found the enemy...

Jellicoe was soon rueing another naval debacle, as the imperial fleet approached the orks, led by a massive mishapen space hulk. Pendragon's subordinate, in charge of the cruiser fleet, put into practice the same tactics as used previously against Da Verminator, hoping to prove that the defeat in 02.014M42 was down to poor torpedo spread and macrocannon accuracy, as his commander had claimed. In fact, Pendragon had got his tactics wrong in the previous encounter with the orks, but the admiral refused to admit it and instead blamed his crews. His subordinates accepted this, and Jellicoe had failed to reprimand their commander, which culminated in disaster on 2411.014M42.

Pendradon's vessels charged the orks head on, aiming to use their frontal armour and a massive torpedo spread to split up the ork fleet. The move put the imperial fleet in front of some of the heaviest firepower in the sector, and within an hour of fighting all but one of the imperial cruisers had exploded, been knocked out of action or were severely damaged. One cruiser fled rather than reinforce failure - a small mercy - but the imperial defeat was comprehensive. The orks lost just one rok and had a cruiser damaged. The massive hulk remained intact and within a week lay in orbit around Hylas, disgorging thousands more greenskeens onto the surface.

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