Wednesday, December 10, 2014

LIBRIA V: Crusade smash loyalists, take Ashdown

For weeks the Crusade forces had avoided outright confrontation with the loyalists on Libria V, preferring to consolidate their positions in the west of the inhabited zone of the planet. By 12.014M42 the crusade held the west, penning in the alliance forces who dominated the central plains of the Springley plain, Timberhill, and Daralon and its surroundings. In the south of the main continent the loyalists still held Ashdown, most of Mistshire and the capital, Louxin City.

Inquisitor Vorushko was no strategic fool. She knew that the successes in the Perseus Deeps could soon see a large reinforcement of the loyalist position. To offset this she sent her fleet to the interstellar jump point of the Librian system, ready to intercept any inbound troop convoys, from the loyalists or the tau. The Federal fleet had vanished, presumably to restock supplies, while Vorushko hoped that any loyalist reinforcements would simply be diverted on her authority without any bloody battles.

On the ground, Vorushko's crusade needed access to the left flank of the alliance front line. Without this, the alliance would simply roll up the loyalists and take the capital anyway, so on 0212.014M42 the crusade, acting on the orders of their lord Inquisitor, demanded that all loyalist forces abandon Ashdown and turn it over to the crusade. General Abrahams vascillated, but inquisitor Hathek, now on Libria V, refused, ordering the Novgorod Guard to take up defensive positions against the crusade, and the Imperial Fists, angry at the excess of their fellow astartes, pledged to defend the city of Ashdown themselves. No one expected the space marines to begin fighting one another.

Which is exactly what happened. The Apocalypse Riders arrogantly rode forward towards the Imperial lines, the yellow power armour of the Imperial Fists clearly visible. Neither side attempted to communicate and a showdown seemed inevitable. The Riders were keen to prove themselves while the Fists were determined to uphold honour. Vorushko had chosen her forces deliberately, and on 0312.014M42 the powder keg went off. Its unclear which side fired first, but soon a violent battle erupted between the two astartes sides outside Ashdown. The battle became rapidly very bloody, with neither side giving ground. However, Inquisitor Vorushko hadn't left things to chance. Midway through the engagement, her assassins appeared.

Before the loyalists knew what was going on, a Culexus assassin had dispatched the Imperial Fists' captain, and an Eversor assassin was ripping through the remaining marines. The Master of the Forge temporarily held up the progress of the assassins, but after several hours of fighting it was clear the loyalist marines were a spent force. They retreated, allowing the Apocalypse Riders, now supported by the Sisters of Battle, to assault the city directly.

The Apocalypse Riders now fell upon the Novgorod Guard defending Ashdown itself. Despite some imaginative defensive tactics including wheeling seige guns around the city in order to outflank the attacking astartes, the imperial guard were horribly outmatched. In addition the arrival of the Sisters of Battle and their indentured Vannaheim Guard, led to the swift collapse of the Novgorod positions. A massacre followed, and by 1212.014M42 the entirety of Ashdown was under Crusade control.

While the loyalists fought furiously for Ashdown, the Sky Lords moved swiftly south to outflank the loyalist positions and reach the coast. In this they were successful, although the imperial guard defending this part of Mistshire proved able and competent, managing to inflict heavier than anticipated losses on the astartes force, inclusing a venerable Land Raider Redeemer. In the end the power armour of the Sky Lords made the difference, and the imperial guard fell back.

The Dark Angels briefly probed the Crusade defences but were savagely defeated at the Chapel of Mists on 0812.014, but by 1012.014M42 the south west portion of Libria V was firmly in Crusade control. Now however the war had escalated, and astartes had fought astartes, with bitter enmity now festering between the Imperial Fists and the Apocalypse Riders in particular. However, far more disruptive events for the Imperium still lay ahead.

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