Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Blood Martyrs massacred at Breaklen

Having taken the Grabell Highlands in late 05.015M42, it was obvious that Breaklen would be the next target for the crusade in the north. The city itself, home to nearly ten million in the extended urban sprawl, sat on a flat plain between the highlands to the south east, the Fulmar mountains to the west and the rolling hills of bennia to the north. The Varrus Isthmus, and the alliance armies, lay to the south west.

The Crusade had already secured the northern and southern arms of the Grabell Highlands, already cutting Breaklen off from the city of Pardle bay. The southern arm of the mountain chain, with peaks above 7000m, was the more rugged terrain, but the northern arm dominated the northeastern approaches to the city itself, with sumits of 4000m less than 100km from the city centre. The crusade's forces were concentrated in the Pardle gap, an area of lower terrain and many mountain passes, and the strategically important road to Grisk.

Launceston counted himself fortunate however. The axis of attack was obvious, as any attack from the southern highlands would have to cross the breaklen plain, a vast stretch of open farmland, which would be easy to defend against utilising the imperial artillery. An attack from the northern highlands would require significant redeployment into the mountainous terrain, across the Pardle gap, while orbital strikes were currently not an option, with pendragon's fleet remaining in orbit. Added to this a company of Blood Martyrs space marines, and the Knights of Cyprarcaea, an Adeptus Mechanicus & knight world in the Valitane subsector, had recently arrived to aid the loyalist cause, while Inquisitor Hathek remained on Vastrid in an attempt to direct more resources to help.

Breaklen represented the last major city held by Launceston's forces. Losing Breaklen would mean losing the region of Bennia, and leave the loyalists in control of largely barren wasteland and smaller settlements. The Blood Martyrs and the Knights immediately took position to defend the city from attack which on 0806.015M42 duly materialised.

The assault on Breaklen did indeed come from the Pardle Gap, lead by the Sisters of Battle and the "Knights of the crusade", a detachment of imperial knights who appeared to owe their allegiance directly to the ecclesiarchy. In support, indentured Vannaheim, Librian and even Lycaon "converts" swelled Vorushko's army, who advanced on a broad front towards the city. Initially the loyalist defence plan went well, as the astartes were able to pick the timing of the main engagement, simply waiting for the enemy to come into range then launching their armoured counter offensive. The initial shots from the loyalist counter attack were less than impressive, but the response from the crusade was crippling and immediate.

Melta equipped short ranged sororitas squads weathered heavy fire from the Cyprarcaean knights before unleashing devastating and accurate fire on the giant war engines. Within minutes the Knight units assigned to the defence of breaklen had been reduced to wreckage, while the crusade behemoths continued to close with the defenders. Worse followed as the Blood Martyrs' counter assault was quickly battered by combined guard and sororitas firepower. However it was the crusade knights which made all the difference. Equipped with fearsome power claws the knights were able to simply pick up and hurl the Blood Martyrs' vehicles, while shrugging off intense melta, lascannon and multimelta fire. One knight is known to have hurled and destroyed a land raider, a predator annihilator and a whirlwind in the space of a few minutes, crushing space marines with debris and critically confusing the Blood Martyrs' assault.

Apparently paralysed by the overwhelming enemy force, the Blood Martyrs' assault collapsed. Most of the astartes were simply slain, but many fell back, some even shamefully running from the combat. The sight of adeptus astartes fleeing the battle broke the imperial will to fight, and by 1006.015M42 the loyalists were in full rout. Thousands died in the open ground to the north of Breaklen as they tried to flee, and an entire Librian army group was annahilated. General Launceston barely escaped from the debacle, and although a new defence line was set up to the north of the Grabell Highlands between the mountains and the sea, bu 1306.015M42 the region of Benia and the Fulmar mountains had simply been surrendered to the crusade. It was a black day in the Blood Martyrs' history and a severe setback for the loyalists on Libria III.

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