Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Perseus Deeps: Mordecai Tersius expedition fails

While the war for the Libria system continued to rage in the Zadoc subsector, General Veers was still brooding about his failure to gain a foothold on chaos held Mordecai. In 01.015M42 an initial landing had been bloodily repulsed, but two terran months later, Veers wanted to try again. In truth, General Veers was facing serious problems. His fortress world on Corticant remained a necron domain, although for some reason known only to the ancient aliens, his last stronghold of fort Bastion had not been assaulted. Never-the-less Corticant was for all intents and purposes, a necron world. Now, with vital resources going to the Libria system, sequestered by either Hathek or Vorushko, General Veers, whose campaign has seen the imperium smash chaos in the Deeps, was sidelined.

Admiral Jellicoe vehemently opposed a return to Mordecai. He knew that following the victory over the chaos fleet at Bastien, lord Tragean had not ventured out. However his intelligence indicated that Thok still had a large fleet operable, and its location remained unknown. There were also rumours of something far worse, almost impossible, being constructed in the warp for the deranged admiral.

Titus Luthor, sector commander and ultimate authority in the matter, overruled the imperial admiral's concerned. Disctracted and concerned by the catastrophic escalation in the Libria system, he was in no mood to be harangued by General Veers, so simply authorised the operation to take Mordecai Tersius. Jellicoe pointed out the flaws in the plan including the lack of astartes support, unknown disposition of the chaos fleet, and the fact the Iron Warriors were known to have fortified the outer world. He was ignored. Then on 1203.015M42 Jellicoe received news that a small battlegroup of Thok's cruisers had been confirmed in the Mordecai system by imperial spies. At least he might get to diminish yet more of the rogue admiral's fleet in the operation.

Jellicoe raised his flag aboard Iron Duke and led a flotilla of capital ships into the warp escorting transports carrying largely Novgorod Guard forces. Veers intended to swamp the small traitor legion forces and their fortifications with infantry, and as ever the Novgorod regiments came in handy for such a loveless task. On 2003.015M42 the imperial battlegroup broke into realspace close to the orbit of Mordecai Tersius, finding no enemy battlefleet close to the jump point. Veers landed his troops once more and began an advance on the Mordecai Tersius installations around the city of Skryme.

Several Novgorod Regiments were ordered to take the Iron Warrior forward positions. The Novgorod approached the city initally without difficulty setting up defensive positions within the rocky outcrops that dotted the landscape. Through the night conscripts snuck into forward positions, digging trenches for miles across the newly formed front until the city was encircled. Finally the Novgorod brought up artillery designed to destroy the Iron Warrior armoured divisions. The Iron Warriors, who were clearly concious of events, merely waited.

The early morning gloom of 140315.M42 commenced Artillery bombardment upon the Iron Warrior positions although unfortunately the Iron Warrior casualties were surprisingly light. Soon after the initial bombardment, the chaos forces sent their assault sections across the newly formed no-mans land in an attempt to get to grips with their attackers. On the Western flank and centre the Iron Warriors simply shot their way through the Novgorod conscripts, and in the East, Spawn attacked, dragging the conscripts further from the Western flanks and creating a yawning gap in the imperial lines. Into this gap the Iron Warriors charged. At the this point the Novgorod Colonel was forced to commit his reserves, consisting of elite special weapons teams and Rough Riders.

The Rough Riders, attempted to outflank the Iron Warrior assault commander, riding through thick woods, this proved disastrous with over half their number falling the in the woods including their Sergeant. The survivors, believing themselves to have been ambushed, retreated, leaving the Eastern flank undefended, sealing the Imperial forces' fate. Soon after the Imperial western flank also began to buckle. The morale of the Novgorod shattered turning into a full rout, although with nowhere to run the carnage on Mordecai continued for the rest of the day. Last reports from the landing force suggested the Colonel leading the invasion attempted to save Novgorod and imperial honour by challenging a Daemon Prince to single combat. Once again the landing on Mordecai had been defeated with few survivors. Veers came close to ordering in a second wave, but by the second day of the invasion the imperial commissar had had enough. He relieved Veers of command and ordered a retreat.

During the two day fiasco on Mordecai Tersius, Admiral Jellicoe had sent out his escort squadrons far and wide looking for Thok's vessels, to no avail. Then, just as the flotilla of transports was preparing to leave the system, scout vessels reported contact with a squadron of several cruisers. Jellicoe immediately detached his main battle force and set a course to intercept.

As Iron Duke led the imperial battlegroup into the asteroid fields surrounding Mordecai Tersius, his sensorium reported a massive power spike. Initially the senior tech priests dismissed such readings as implausible, but as ship after ship recieved the same augur returns, it became clear that something massive and powerful was accompanying the fleet. Very soon an enormous vessel, identifying itself as "Gotterdammerung" came into visual range. The "ship" was huge, almost twice the mass of a normal battleship, and it's strange spire like weaponry crackled with witchfire. Momentarilly stunned, Jellicoe was slow to react to warnings to disperse his fleet, and an impossibly bright beam of energy shot out of the front of the enemy vessel, scything through Valiant and damaging the flagship.

Crippled, Valiant tried to escape, but the rest of the chaos fleet quickly reduced the vessel to a wreck, and before long Iron Duke was badly damaged by the massive conventional weaponry which covered every inch of the massive vessel's infrastructure. Jellicoe recovered his wits quickly however, ordering Benbow and Implacable to cross the enemy fleet' "T" to their front, while the smaller vessels and light cruisers were sent to cut round the back of the main imperial fleet. Thok however had been planning this encounter for years however, and had carefully arranged his fleets' deployment. Many a night he had spent obsessing about his encounter with Jellicoe, running scenarios and playing war games with his subordinated in order to perfect his battle plan.

Now the mad admiral laughed as Jellicoe tried to escape his trap. Gotterdammerung swung in from port, while the rest of the fleet approached from the opposite wing. The massive chaos vessel opened fire once more, scything apart Firedrake and forcing the imperial escorts to flee. Implacable and Benbow managed to damage Brunhilde, but it was an unequal contest. Soon Benbow was wrecked and Implacable attempting to disengage. Iron Duke too managed to limp away and hide amongst the asteroids while Thok searched in vain for his adversary.

Admiral Thok hadn't managed to eliminate his most hated foe, but he had given Jellicoe and the imperial fleet a bloody nose. Thok laughed again as he imagined the panic which would soon be manifest at naval headquarters on Farport. His imagination turned out not to be far from the truth, as Commodore Cardale's fleet was immediately withdrawn from the Vastrid sector to reinforce Jellicoe's battered fleet. The lord Admiral himself was shaken by the encounter, but realised the new threat from Gotterdammerung was real indeed. The events in the Mordecai system had all but reversed Jellicoe's great victory and handed the initiative to the forces of chaos.

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