Monday, December 22, 2014

No respite on Libria V

The pace of the war on Libria V did not slow as the end of 014M42 approached. Following the astartes encounters in Mistshire, there was no immediate reaction by the space marines on either side. Very little was mentioned to non astartes, and it seemed both the Imperial Fists and Apocalypse Riders were keeping their own council. Officially the astartes in the loyalist armies claimed no antipathy nor any loyalty to the crusdading forces, and their remit was to take the fight to the emperor's enemies. Officially the non crusade astartes would simply not get involved over disputes between inquisitors, but the stubbornness of the Imperial Fists and arrogance of the Apocalypse Riders had change things forever. Marine had fought marine and now pride was at stake.

The next move however was by the loyalist marines. A force of Imperial Fists, Ultramarines and Dark Angels launched an attack on a broad front against the southern flank of the alliance salient, driving towards Daralon. The loyalist force was well equipped, and although it faced a heavy concentration of Librian tanks and eldar, the sheer aggressiveness of the space marine attack soon had the alliance on the back foot. The eldar and Librian forces sustained heavy losses in close quarter firefights in the timberhill region, and within a week of the start of the attack the alliance had pulled back, surrendering territory in exchange for time.

At much the same time the crusade took advantage of the loyalist attack, attacking Skyfall in the north and pinning down a large number of tau forces. This move ensured no tau reinforcements could come to the aid of the beleagured alliance defenders further south, contributing to the Librian success. It seemed Vorushko and the crusade would still rather have a loyalist victory than lost the planet to the tau. However, the crusade had other objectives in mind.

As the loyalist forces made swift progress north against the alliance, the Imperial Fists watched the crusade forces warily. Since the encounter with the Apocalypse Riders the Fists had maintained their vigil on the loyalist-crusade front. They were now personally affronted and unwilling to yield any more territory to the "illegal actions" of Inquisitor Vorushko. They didn't have to wait long for the next move from the crusade.

On 1812.014M42 the Carcharadon Astra chapter launched a deeply penetrating airborne assault against the loyalist forces, easily breaching the imperial guard defences. Without hesitation the Imperial Fists reacted, moving swiftly to the Space Shark's positions, and without any communication, both sides engaged in a bitter and violent engagement. Seeing a chance to break the front wide open, the Carcharadons reoriented their airborne assault and drove straight at the Imperial Fists. The loyalist marines opened up with everything they had, but somehow the Space Sharks' sleek grey craft managed to avoid the fire. Soon their payload of super humans had been deployed, and the Imperial Fists found themselves in serious trouble.

The initial Carcharadon assault was so brutal the Imperial Fists were all but knocked out in one afternoon. Almost half a company were either killed, wounded or captured by their enemy, and by 2012.014M42 the Carcharadons had managed to reach the Libria V capital, Louxin city. In the north the loyalist assualt halted as General Abrahams struggled to redeploy forces to stem the collapse of his southern and western flanks, and the loyalists were only saved by the logistical problems always faced by the small Crusade army. Louxin city was partially recaptured by the loyalists, but the crusade forces now held all of Mistshire, and threatened to cut the loyalist armies off from their one supply base in the capital. In addition, some twenty or so Imperial Fists were now the captives of the Carcharadons.

The saviour of the loyalist cause on the main continent of Libria V was in actual fact tau commander Skyfall. Following the Apocalypse Riders' raid, Skyfall went over to the offensive, deciding to clear out the northern Acronian badlands south of North Springvale, thus preventing further raids from having such a dramatic effect on the alliance positions. The fast moving hunter cadres quickly made gains, as the numerically inferior crusade forces couldn't possibly defend all areas at once. However once the tau had taken their positions, they had to wait for the inevitable counter attack.

The crusade attempt to dislodge Skyfall from the northern hills came on 1812.014M42, just as the Carcharadons launched their devastating assault in the south. Led by the Adeptus Sororitas and supported by their indentured Vannaheim Guard regiments, the crusade counter attack smashed the initial tau defensive line, and began to inflict heavy casualties on Skyfall's infantry in particular. The Vannaheim artillery in the shape of Wyvern batteries was particularly painful to endure, but the tau commander held doggedly on to the hard won ground, knowing that to retreat now would invite disaster. With the loyalists putting pressure on the alliance southern flank, Skyfall knew the alliance could not afford their salient to become even narrower.

Eventually logistics and a lack of crusade ammunition, particularly melta and artillery rounds brought the crusade assault to an end. Had it continued, Skyfall may well have been forced to abandon his position, but in the event the sacrifice of so many tau lives had bought the alliance a strategically vital position and ensured their continued participation in the fight for the planet.

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