Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vandrax, Paradorn and Destino

Crimson Clouds...

Archmagos Cybixx crawled across the smoking remnants of the battlefield using the last of his mangled appendages. Lower half incinerated, green liquids leaving an oozing trail behind him this was the most he could muster using his scorched, crippled frame. It was morning and the sky was a peaceful light blue, though stained with billowing smoke. Yet, despite his relatively calm surroundings, the techpriest’s mind saw only the freakish apparitions of the night before…


The scholars and adepts of Mars looked up from the figure they were examining so closely. On the table below them the form of a slender female of the Eldar race lay, tubes and appendages poking her corpselike visage. She was clearly malnourished and almost driven mad under the torturous investigations of her captors, yet this didn’t give them even the shade of a pause as tirelessly they worked to uncover every secret of her body, as well as her equipment.

“My lord, we have come to the conclusion that while wonderous, the weapons of this xenos wretch are laughably ineffective” crackled a datasmith, addressing the looming figure of the Archmagos before him.

“This glove emits a high power energy field along its surface,  destabilising the matter around it, resulting in potentially monumental amount of stress induced along the surface of a target it is dragged over. However, this requires immense speed and skill, the forces involved easily capable of rending the user’s arm.”

A servitor brought forward another, now gun shaped, object. “While this, another energy weapon capable of emitting intense bursts of heat, why it is only effective at the range of a few steps away! Laughable really, who creates ranged weapons that have barely more reach than a sword?”

“A race that controlled the galaxy before we even set eyes on the stars!” boomed Cybixx, tendrils twitching as they explored the inner workings of the device. “Do not be deceived, these instruments are lethal when wielded by their warrior-dancers. However, these trifles are not why I had this Eldar captured. I need to know why they interfere with our exploration of this planet, surely they should be delighted that we put to rest the Necron abominations infesting its surface!”

The two adepts turning the captive over on her back looked at each other.

This had all begun when, upon reaching an unnamed planet in the Vandrax system the armies of the Mechanicus became engaged with multiple forces of the xenos named Necrons. After successive victories thanks to overwhelming numbers and the wit of the Archmagos, they encountered an entrance to what looked like a tomb complex. Before they could explore further however, a lone figure of an Eldar warrior made her reveal and asked to speak to Cybixx, commanding him to go no further and turn his back on the tombs and the planet. Naturally the scion of Mars made no such move and instead imprisoned her for further investigation. No one even considered the option of the armies of the Mechanicus running away after some baseless xenos threats.

“You’ll regret this damned mon-keigh! Cegorach weeps for your worthless husk, may you and your works be cursed by the Laughing God!” The pointy eared female buckled and screamed in the servo arms of the adepts.

Cybixx slowly dragged his form to inspect his specimen, his monocle zooming in on a tattoo of a red cloud on her chest.

“No god in your petty pantheon is a match for the miracles of the Omnissiah!” the Archmagos wheezed “Her blasphemous tongue desecrates these halls, cut it out before her lies fill the minds of the untrained!”.

No sooner had the words dissipated that a jarring claxon resounded through the room.

“What is it?!”

Eyes, tendrils and various arm like appendages skimmed through the interfaces on the walls.

“A small detachment of light skimmers has been sighted on the horizon my lord! They are coming this way at a phenomenal velocity and will reach this location in approximately ten minutes”.

Something shook the walls of the underground laboratory.

Outside, crimson clouds hung in the sky.


With the screeching sound of shuriken another ranger fell. The hastily erected barricade between the crumbling structures was doing little to shield the Mechanicus cyborgs against the constant barrage of deadly spinning stars sent their way. The next hail of projectiles tore off a leg from a running ranger, causing his momentum to land him face first on a metal rod.

The ensuing spurt of blood reflected in the polished mask of the death jester aiming from the rooftops, each death played out across the grinning face.
Every death had to be masterfully crafted into an elaborate jest, a symphony of irony, for why should the grim visage of death not have a little humour? Whether it was a mighty warrior tripping over a stone and dying on some carefully placed spikes or a tech crazed fanatic falling prey to his own mechanical limbs as the part of his brain granting control over them was cut out with the scalpel precision of a shuriken flick. Each death was a not so subtle jab at the competence of the enemy and here, their competence was found to be lacking.

Below, skyweavers dived under and between the rounds of the Mechanicus soldiers, easily avoiding the fire of the doomed defenders. It hadn’t taken long, perhaps 20 minutes, half an hour, yet already the humans knew they would face their end here, on this battlefield. You could tell. It was in the frantic shouting and hissing of static between the communication arrays. It was in how an increasing number of their shots ended up veering way off target. It was in the shadows, how each one of them seemed to have a slightly darker hue than expected. The death jester knew what waited in the shadows and he knew that despite his bravado and humour in the face of demise, the thing in the shadows could only ever be regarded with terror.

“Focus fire on the vehicle at position 567, 8930” the screeching voice of Cybixx resounded in every communicator. No sooner had the guns of the Dunecrawler type vehicle started warming up than a band of brightly clothed warriors burst out from the not-space before it. Led by a hooded, faceless psyker the dancers weaved and spun, letting off bright purple shots of energy. A nearby techpriest, oncepriding himself on his fear-stripping augmentations, felt a tinge of the emotion welling up inside. The light streaks warped through and enveloped the Kastellan robots, forcing them to keel over. While ineffective at long range the fusion pistols ensured no such firefight was necessary, shroudingnearby robots and machines in a bright glow, melting through their carapace and inner workings.
Then, came the caresses.

With but a stroke, arms, weapons and faces were shorn apart, the graceful warriors of the Eldar not even looking back to see the damage they caused. The didn’t need to. Each had a part to play in the dance, each one savouring, contemplating or grieving the utter annihilation of the forces arrayed against them. It was all a play, a jest, a performance where the spectators were both the audience and participants and the colour crimson was that of true blood.
The Archmagos grabbed a nearby harlequin warrior by the face and crushed it, mask and all, in his pincer-like grip. He was furious. His army was being decimated, some dying in circumstances that would be comical if they were not so grisly, others tearing out their eyes after witnessing visions brought about by the gas released by that Eldar witch. She would burn, they all would as soon as his reinforcements arrive. Cybixx scuttled forward, trying to separate himself from a duo of especially persistent harlequins. He had one final trick up his sleeve.

Activating the required protocols, the fallen Dunecrawler and nearby robots vibrated slightly, then everything became white as their self-destruct mechanisms set in.
Ringing. A high pitched noise. White, then darkness, then the battlefield slowly returning.

The constructs of the humans had detonated, leaving debris and body parts both Eldar and mechanical scattered around. Not many xenos had survived the explosion.
Synther spun around clutching the stump where his left arm had been. It was barbaric, brutal yet he had to admit, effective. Detonating the robots had given the humans a little precious space from their pursuers, though the explosions had wrought a heavy toll on their forces too. Nearby, a skyweaver had crashed into the ground, the riders drooping over the side, trickles of crimson adorning their masks. Synther staggered to where they lay. While crippled, his senses were quickly coming back to him and he could still make a difference in the battle. Teasing out a zephyrglaive from under the bike, he spun it around, tested the blade and launched himself into a group of rangers still alive.

Not many xenos had survived. Not many, but enough. As Cybixx, slowly rose from the ditch a few glowing shots caught him in the side, he whirled around to face his attackers but all he could see was a shadow. A deep, looming shadow that shifted around the edges in a way that almost seemed to break reality. A shadow with horns.

The Solitaire stalked towards the Archmagos, walking in a straight line, upright, unafraid of any incoming fire. He stopped half a metre away from the techpriest, and regarded him, almost like a spider might regard a fly despite their size difference suggesting the reverse.

“Your test subject, the one you so thoroughly….examined, was my daughter. She can no longer play a vocal role on the grand stage of life, spiralling endlessly in a mute ballet. For that, no matter what deals you may have formed with my brothers and sisters, you must pay”.

A kick smashed into the carapace shielding Cybixx’s back, despite the afterimage of the Solitaire still facing his front. The magos crashed into a wall, systems reporting damage across his whole body.

Then, another.

A flurry of hits, blows, kicks and sweeps of an energy weapon pummelled into the techpriest, reducing parts to a molten slag. Each attack came faster than the next and the force of each would have been enough to buckle Adamantium plate. There seemed no end to their succession nor the damage they caused and with a crunch, his spine splintered and the magos’ upper half flew into the air.

The cold eyes of the shadow scanned over the wheezing husk of the man before him.

“Your part is yet unfinished, mon-keigh. This can only end as a lesson and not the punishment you deserve as for good or evil, the Laughing God requires you still. Yet, know that as soon as your usefulness has come to an end, I’ll be there. May you always watch the shadows and fear the red clouds”.

With a jump the form of the representation of Slaaneshmelded into the surroundings once more. The sounds of battle were dying down, more and more of the brightly clad horrors disappearing through portals to what could only be the webway. It was over.

Across the horizon, dawn broke.

Hell at Tarlius

On Tarlius the Imperial position was given a great boost with the arrival of significantly more Mechanicum forces, bolstering the Imperial Guard and immediately taking on the heaviest front line fighting. In early 12.017M42 the Emerald Serpent had scored a victory, but had failed to remove the Imperial forces from the planet. Now, with the Imperial Guard stuck in defensive pockets around key objectives, the daemonic legions of Tzeentch were called upon once again to dislodge the Imperium.

The first daemonic incursion occured on 0712.017M42, but the fresh Mechanicum forces were able to prevent a breakthrough, rescuing and joining up the Imperial defences on the planet for the first time. Following this, several more incursions were recorded by the Emerald Serpent, with varying results. On one occasion the Emerald serpent were completely decimated, but on another, the Mechanicum force sent to intercept was all but wiped out. By 1412.017M42 Tarlius 3 had become a living hell. Imperial Guard units and loyalist mechanicum forces held on to bases and positions on the dusty plains, but were constantly exposed to daemonic incursions and guerilla attacks from chaos forces, led and organised by the Emerald Serpent. There were no clear front lines, with chaos forces simply melting back into the warp or their mortal troops disappearing into the vast badlands. The Imperium realised that wrestling the planet from the grip of chaos may end up a very difficult proposition.

Eris far from cleansed

Inquisitor Huron's confidence that Eris ad been cleansed of Tyranid activity proved woefully premature, as on 0812.017M42 a massive assault by Xenos of varying genomes crashed into Huron's defensive lines. The Novgorod Guard gave a good account of themselves, but the Nemesis strain of tyranids had targetted them, forcing them back and allowing a horde of what appeared to be Hive Fleet Leviathan - as far as Huron could tell - to assault the Inquisitor's investigation base.

unable to defend indefinitely against this new horde, Huron called for aid. Two days later the Angels Repentant made an orbital drop, although tension between the astartes and the Guard leadership was clear, since they were on opposing sides in the Vandrax theatre. However, humanity came before Xenos, and the astartes lent their aid as best they could. Unfortunately, the Tyranids were too many, and too aggressive, and proved more than the small company of Angels could deal with.

Huron had no choice but to evacuate his front line, call for more forces and attempt to reestablish a new front. His investigations would have to be at an end, as now the tyranids were approaching the last remaining inhabited areas on the world - Eris Prime and the seat of government.

Crusade moves on to Destino

Having all but secured the Vandrax System, the Crusade now moved into their second phase. From her base on Bastien Inquisitor Vorushko communicated her orders to Cybixx and her other Crusade commanders. Take Destino next. meanwhile Vorushko continued her own agenda in the Deeps, while Hathek desperately tried to contain the Crusade itself. Vorushko however had no power to command her Ordo Malleus colleagues, and the Grey Knights continued to pursue their own agenda, however aligned it was to hers.

The Grey Knights did aid the Crusade at Destino however, assaulting and destroying several Loyalist defences on Destino 3, defeating and massacring the defending Lunar Guard regiments which had only recently been installed as a garison force. However, Cybixx's mechanicum and the Angels Repentant were unable to follow up this victory, and the initial landing at Destino was met by a strong and coordinated Novgorod defence, who swiftly forced a crusade withdrawl. The crusade forces now had a presence in the system though, and without a decisive battle in space, which seemed unlikely given both sides' unwillingness to risk their vessels, another assault by the Crusade seemed a certainty.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Harlequins raid Protogonus

While the Imperium fought with itself and chaos for control of the Foramen, the Tau had show little interest in the campaign since its inception. And with the failure of the Federacy to gain a foothold at Destino, the Tau were increasingly hesitant to get involved, preferring instead to search out new pathways between their empire and the Aleph Expansion sphere, still cut off in the Imperium Nihilis.

This action left the Federacy in particular vulnerable. Should Chaos or the Imperium gain control of the Foramen Majoris, or worse, have it destroyed, the Federacy would be on the front line against a myriad of foes, with less than enthusiastic support from the Tau Empire. The Aeldari, particularly the Rillietan, had seen the threat, and the possible outcomes of such Tau disinterest, and decided to act.

Rather than propose an alliance, which they knew would be difficult and uneasy at best following the events in the Perseus Deeps, the Harlequins decided on a more direct approach. To ensure the Tau were ready and their minds focussed, the Tau would need to be hit, and hit hard on their own territory. To make their point the Aeldari prepared a force and conducted a devastating raid on Protogonus on 0212.017M42.

The destruction wrought by the one time allies of the Tau appalled the alien race, who appealed to the Federacy for aid for their furthest flung colony. The Federacy, quite rightly, rejected this request, citing that too many had already been lost in the unsuccessful Destino campaign. Skyfall then intervened, sending his own forces to Protogonus and planning a significant fortification of the colony. Despite his forces initial inability to defeat the Eldar, the Harlequins then withdrew of their own accord, having achieved their objective.

Imperium react to Chaos at Tarlius

Finally, by early 12.017M42 the Imperium realised that the forces of Chaos were not in fact raiding the Tarlius system, but a full scale invasion was underway. Tarlius had a small population, but its position meant it was now critical to securing of the Foramen Minoris - the main space lane between the Imperium and the Perseus Deeps. 

Warsmith Stahl had already created two fully operational bases on the outer planets of the Tarlius system, but seeing his succecss, the other chaos factions decided to lend their "support" to Stahl's campaign. Whether he liked it or not. The Emperor's Children and Thousand sons, led by Magnus himself, landed on Tarlius 3, a rocky cold desert world, intending to expand the influence of chaos to all habitable planets in the system. Creating bases and defences on all of them would render an invasion by the hated imperium much harder.

The Imperium reacted swiftly to the sudden escalation of the Chaos presence in the Tarlius system, sending a full battlegroup and Admiral Jellicoe's fleet. The fleet presence ensured that Stahl's warships did not intervene, while the Mechanicum sent their own forces from Vandrax, this time to aid the Imperium, as the Crusade also wanted to maintain control of the Foramen Minoris, rather than see its destruction.

The Imperial forces landed on Tarlius 3, but found Magnus's "Emerald Serpent" ready and waiting for them, while the Emperor's Children were ravaging the human settlements on the world. Cybixx took the fight to Magnus, while a division of loyalist Librian forces were set the task of hunting down the other traitor legionaries.

The Librians knew they could not hope to track down the Emperor's Children, so instead they set up defensive positions in settlements not yet raided. Sure enough the traitor astartes took the bait, walking into the crossfire of Librian gunfire. Initially the chaos marines found themselves in difficulties, as they lost their transports to withering heavy weapons fire and suffered significant casualties. The super human veteran fighters were not stunned for long however, and soon used the terrain and ruins of the settlement to advance on the Librian positions. Noise marines covered the imperial positions with gunfire inflicting massive casualties on any units caught in the open, before finally closing and dealing with the heavy armour in close combat.

The engagements occurred across the plains of Tarlius 3 for days, but each time the Emperor's Children were unable to break the imperial defences completely, while the Librians were unable to wipe out the chaos threat. A stalemate ensued, and the battle would be decided by the encounter between Cybixx and Magnus. The mechanicum however found themselves in difficulties, and after exchanging heavy fire with the Thousand sons, this time, unlike in other encounters, the Emerald Serpent was able to close with the Mechanicus positions and inflict heavy casualties. Cybixx, unable to respond adequately to the new aggressive tactics, was forced to withdraw, isolating the Librian defenders and making the Imperial hold on Tarlius 3 extremely tenuous by 0912.017M42.

Eris investigated

Following alarming reports from Eris Inquisitor Huron successfully petitioned Sector Commander Titus Luthor to send a task force to the small Imperial Colony. Along with a small fleet Huron's forces comprised of a detachment of Adeptus Mechanicus and two regiments of Novgorod Guard, with the promise of Astartes support should they find Nemesis on Eris in strength.

Upon arrival it was clear that the "Shadow in the Warp" was close, which confirmed there was a hive fleet in the vicinity. It appeared however that the forces encountered previously were just the vanguard, as while no one still lived on Eris the planet had not yet been consumed. Intending to find out more Huron landed his forces near the main settlement, Eris Prime, and began investigating with the help of the Adeptus Mechanicum.

Soon after landfall, the Imperial forces were attacked from multiple directions. The Mechanicum forces swiftly put down the firts assault, but soon the Novgorod forces defending the landing zone found themselves flanked on two sides by Tyranid forces. The Novgorod however, veterans of many campaigns, were able to first deal with the first tyranid attack, then turn and bring their full force to bear on the remaining Xenos. Two days of hard fighting followed, but by 0612.017M42 Huron was confident that the main Tyranid forces on the planet had been cleansed.

Scans however showed some Tyranid biomass remaining, which warranted further invetigation. More worryingly however, Huron and the Mechanicum noted that there were at least two distinct strains of Xenos genomes in the forces they had found. One was unmistakeably Nemesis, but the other bore more resemblence to Hive fleet Kraken. Disturbed by this turn of events Huron set up a permanent watch post on Eris and set out to find the Hive fleet - or fleets themselves. Were two hive fleets working together?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Vandrax latest position

Crusade Forge ahead

The fall of Vandrax 4 left the loyalists in a perilous position in the Vandrax system. The Lycaon Guard were in no fit state to fight a further crusade attack, which left Hathek's forces consisting of two regiments of Novgorod and a small force of loyalist mechanicum forces. Vorushko offered assistance to the Grey Knights, but they assured her that they would need no such help. The Astartes would settle the matter as they had promised.

First the Knights assaulted the strongest force, the Novgorod Guard. Once again the Militarum forces fought doggedly, and the Grey Knights found the engagement hard going. There was no surrender on Vandrax 1, for these Novgorod forces were those who has only recently fought forces of daemons, and defeat meant extermination. However, assisted by total control of air and space the guard forces were outmanoeuvred by the Ordo Malleus Astartes, and eventually succumbed to the pressure. The ugly business of "cleansing" now began.

Shortly after defeating the Imperial Guard, the Grey Knights prepared for their final assault. All the loyalist positions on the sparsely inhabited world had now been neutralised, so the remaining force, of Adeptus Mechanicus loyal to Hathek, were found in the wilderness. They didn't stand a chance. In a lightning strike the Grey Knights landed right next to the Mechanicus forces, wiping them out swiftly. By 0212.017M42 only New Gregoria held out against the Crusade on Vandrax 2. Against orders from Hathek, Admiral Jellicoe ordered Pendragon to move his battlefleet towards the jump point.

Vandrax 4 taken by Crusade

While the Grey Knights battled the Lycaon Guard on Vandrax 1, Vorushko's main forces embarked from Cybixx Alpha and arrived at Vandrax 4 in only a few hours. Vandrax 4, supported by the Imperial Fists from their base on New Gregoria, was garrisoned by several Novgorod regiments, who put up a solid defence when Cybixx's forces landed in strength close to the loyalist main base. Heavy fighting resulted in a stalemate, but the loyalists possessed inferior logistics, and the Novgorod General needed help.

Help arrived in the form of the Imperial Fists, but Cybixx and the crusade had been prepared for such an eventuality. Deploying their reserve to counter the new threat, the Cerberex Guard launched an immediate offensive. Despite fighting valiantly, the Imperial Fists suffered a heavy defeat, leaving the Novgorod forces surrounded and unable to leave the planet. Realising there was nothing more to gain from continued resistance, the Novgorof Guard surrendered their forces to the crusade on 0112.017M42. Vandrax 4 had fallen to the crusade, and the Novgorod Guard were interned.

Vandrax 1: Grey knights assault loyalists

Following the successful capture of Vandrax 3 the Grey Knights agreed to join Vorushko's crusade, citing the meny dubious acts by Hathek and citing the ageing inquisitor as having lost much of his credibility in not dealing with those Guard regiemtns exposed to daemonic taint. In addition, the Grey Knights saw the logic in Vorushko's plan to destroy one of the Foramen pathways, to deny the Imperium's Xenos enemies but also to prevent an imperial Vandrax from becoming an accessway for daemonic incursion. Despite the Foramen, the power of the warp was still strong on Vandrax, and the daemon hunter astartes feared an Imperial base in the Foramen Majoris would soon lead to massive daemonic invasion.

Their goals agreed, the Astartes sent word to Titus Luthor on Vastrid, declaring Hathek a danger, and planning their invasion of Vandrax 1. Vorushko was still short on troops, so her forces would concentrate on Vandrax 4. The Grey Knights would assault "loyalist" forces on the inner planet, destroying them and laying the ground work for a subsequent invasion.

The initial assault on the Lycaon regiments stationed on Vandrax 1 went well. Taken completely off guard, the Militarum forces were all but wiped out as the Grey Knights made landfall. However, the veteran Guard regiments were nothing if not resourceful, and immediately counter attacked, decimating the Grey Knights force and forcing them to retreat to their landing site. Crucially however, the Mechanicum bases on Cybixx alpha and Beta allowed a quick response from the Mechanicum fleet, while Jellicoe's loyalist Naval vessels were forced to stand off in the outer reaches of the system. By 2811.017M42 the situation was finely balanced. The crusade had a foothold but only just.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nemesis Returns

Imperial authorities only began to realise that something was badly amiss on Eris when attempts to contact the astropathic choir there failed to elicit any response. An unwary mind is a gateway to the perils of the warp so it was assumed the choir has been slain in some psychic mishap and a small patrol vessel was dispatched from nearby Farport to re-establish contact. It disappeared without trace.

Investigations conducted by the Adeptus Arbites station on Farport soon established that no ships had arrived from Eris for the past three weeks. This had gone completely unnoticed as the vessel's corporate owners had failed to report the losses, likely due to an understandable reluctance to draw attention to the highly questionable nature of the cargo.

The alarm was finally raised and an alert sent to sector commander Titus Luther who made a formal request for assistance from the Imperial Fists. A task force was dispatched to investigate.

As the Astartes Strike Cruiser neared the planet the true reason for the ominous silence became apparent. The entire region was cloaked by a shadow in the warp, a phenomena  associated with Tyranid Hive Fleets. Unusually for Tyranids all electromagnetic communication with the planet was also blocked, jammed by static from an unknown source.

Unable to contact the planet below a small landing force was put together and air dropped into woodland close to the planets capital. At first everything seemed completely innocuous but as the patrol made its way towards the city the Astartes worst fears were confirmed.

The column came under attack from all sides as a massive horde of Tyranid bioforms launched itself from the surrounding trees, fell from the skies and even burst from the very ground and fell upon the Imperial Fists with such speed they could barely react before it washed over them.

All semblance of tactics or formation fell apart as the Emperor's finest battled for their lives. Any other force would have been annihilated in an instant but years of training, battlefield experience and iron discipline proved their worth as the famously stubborn Marines drew together and fought back the tide of enemies.

Finally the thunderous roars of approaching Thunderhawk Gunships prompted the Tyranids to melt back into the forest as quickly as they had appeared. Casualties had been heavy on both sides but the Tyranids held total dominance of the surrounding terrain and the Imperial Fists quickly withdrew whilst they still had the chance. They would return to warn high command of the disaster that had befallen Eris.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Battle of Vandrax 2: Images

 Novgorod Guard take their positions.
 Eldar intervention

 Sky Lords Thunderhawk attack run.
Grey Knights assault tips the balance.

Battle of Vandrax 2: Aftermath

The outcome of the battle of Vandrax 2 was an extremely costly and narrow victory for the Crusade, although Vorushko's forces had been badly battered in the heavy fighting. The Sky Lords committed little and lost little, but the embarrassing failure of their Thunderhawk was a particular concern. The Grey Knights had now tipped their hand in favour of Vorushko, alarming Hathek, who bolstered his personal security arrangements.

For the loyalists the loss of Vandrax 2 now handed control of the Vandrax system firmly over to the Crusade. The loyalists still had bases in the outer planets, but now Cybixx would be able to continue his research with even more resources. It would still take time, but Vorushko's end game vision was coming closer...

Battle of Vandrax 2: Crusade saved by Grey Knights

On 1811.017M42, in the early hours, the Grey Knights landed en masse in the main settlement on Vandrax 2. Conditions for their landfall were marginal, but through a superhuman effort the elite astartes landed and brought death to the loyalist and eldar forces defending the settlement. They managed to secure key objectives, including the city's main power generator, stunning the loyalist general. Units were cut down by ferocious firepower and in close combat. The battle was turning in the Crusade favour.

However, not all was going well for the Crusade. The centre of their line had seen the mechanicum decimated by unfortunate explosions and in the forests the constant harrassment by eldar forces had seen the Volscian and Vostroyan forces close to collapse. However, it was in the city that the battle was finally decided. The grey Knights stubbornly held on in the face of massive return fire from the loyalist firebases, which now had the astartes in a crossfire. However, at a critical moment when the battle could have been salvaged for the loyalists, the eldar hesitated, apparently unsure as to whether to deliver the victory for the loyalists.

The hesitation by the eldar ultimately cost the loyalists the battle, and then the planet, as the Grey Knights secured the area long enough for enginseers to shut down the power to the city, and establish a teleport homer for significant mechanicum reinforcements. Within a week, the rest of the city had fallen, as realising the battle was lost, the eldar allies of Hathek's loyalists simply melted away.

Battle of Vandrax 2: The Eldar intervene

Believing she had the advantage, Vorushko's guard and mechanicum forces initiated the attack on the major Vandrax city, soon facing concentrated fire from the Lycaon and Novgorod gun line arrayed against them. Early losses on both sides were light however, and the Crusade had the numerical advantage, or so they thought.

It was only when the crusade reached the outskirts of the main settlement that it became apparent that eldar forces of the Rillietan and another unknown Craftworld had intervened on the loyalist side. While this made the Volscians and Vostroyans even more determined, the firepower of the lolyalists combined with their eldar allies soon saw the Crusade assault on the now ruined cities grind to a halt. The loyalist and eldar forces quickly repelled Vostroyan and Volscian advances while in the forests and hills to the north of the settlement, webway portals allowed the eldar to begin harrassing the Crusade rear line, taking out artillery and conducting running battles amongst the trees.

After a day of heavy fighting the Crusade were on the back foot, and unable to secure enough of a clear space between the two armies to put into action the final part of Vorushko's plan. In orbit the Grey Knights waited for an opportunity to intervene decisively, but still the no mans land between the two armies remained covered with crusade guardsmen and eldar skirmishers. Taking matters into their own hands the Grey Knights sent an immediate urgent communication to all front line officers. Clear a path for their arrival and kill anything and anyone in the outskirts of the city.

The Sky Lords intervened to aid this, arriving by Thunderhawk and landing a squad of elite terminators. However the loyalists had an immediate response. After the first pass of the Astartes assault craft, which had not been as successful as hoped, they revealed a previously camouflaged super heavy platoon, comprising of a Baneblade and a titan killing Shadowsword. After being softened up by Manticore AA missiles, the Thunderhawk was swatted out of the sky by the Shadowsword, while the Sky Lords made little impact in the city itself. Eventually however, thanks largely to the mechanicum, the land between the Crusade and loyalist lines was finally cleared, allowing Vorushko to make her last desperate gamble for victory on Vandrax 2.

Battle of Vandrax 2: Prelude to battle

In early 11.017M42 the most important planet in the Vandrax system, Vandrax 2, had been invaded by forces of the loyalists and crusade, in response to Magnus' appearance on the world. The chaos forces had been eradicated from the world, but now the planet was host to two imperial forces with wildly differing agendas.

The indigineous population, numbering just over a million, had seen their world overturned. For centuries the planet, while nominally imperial, had existed outside the Pax Imperialis, centred around one major city, simply known as "the city". Now their home had been all but destroyed. First by the Cicatrix Maledictum, and now, following the opening of the Foramen, by the new arrivals. It was in the city and its surrounding area that the key battle for Vandrax two would take place.

By 1411.017M42 the crusade, by virtue of having their base on "Cybixx Alpha", had amassed a much larger force on Vandrax 2 than the loyalists. Hathek's forces comprised of mainly guard forces, principally regiments of the veteran Novgorod and Lycaon Guard, who had been instrumental in securing much of the imperial gains in the Foramen Interdictum. On the opposing side the loyalist commander knew he was up against fanatical Volscians and at least one regiment of Vostroyans, supported by Cybixx's mechanicum forces. What the loyalists were not aware of, was that Vorushko had managed to secure limited Astartes support from the Sky Lords, and that the Grey Knights had arrived at Vandrax, and were horrified at what they considered a "lax" approach to daemon exposure by the loyalists and Hathek.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Federacy lose Destino II

Having failed to establish a bridgehead in the Destino system, and still avoiding an all out battle with the Loyalist fleet, General Elliott, commander of the Destino task force, found himself in a difficult position. Facing pressure from the Federal Council and lacking any real support from the rest of the "alliance", he knew that he had to make gains before the end of 017M42 or the operation to secure Destino for the Alliance would be over, and the chance to control a vital connection between the Federacy and the Tau Enclave would be gone.

Elliott landed troops on Destino II, backed up this time by the Federal Fleet, hoping to provoke the Imperium. Unfortunately it worked, but it was not only Enkvist's battlegroup that intercepted the federal force, but also a newly arrived force under Admiral Jellicoe himself. Outnumbered 2-1 the admiral of the Federal fleet withdrew, although the Tallaxian air force and storm trooper regiments would remain to provide air cover on the ground on Vandrax II.

With the Imperial fleet dominant over the planet, the Novgorod Guard landed with ease, and soon the battle lines were drawn on the world. Bombardments from both sides failed to inflict significant damage but an early charge from the Novgorod cavalry disrupted the Librian mobile firepower. The Federacy responded, but were unable to match the Imperial firepower, despite landing a precision drop of Tallaxian storm troops.

Thousands of Novgorod conscripts died and the imperium lost valuable tanks, but these could be replaced. Lacking a secure supply line the Librians were unable to hold their objectives and were gradually driven back into the wilderness of the planet. By 1611.017M42 they held nothing of value, and were asked to surrender. Realising there was no hope of escape many of the Librians gave up the fight, with a minority of Federal troops taking to the dusty wastelands of the world, disappearing into the nomadic tribes that roamed the plains. The Imperium had secured yet another planet in the system and the prospects for Federal victory looked bleaker than ever.

Chaos forced out of Vandrax system

Magnus' plan on Vandrax was only partially successful. He had managed to incite full scale war between the Crusade and Loyalists on Vandrax 2, and both sides were drawing up battle lines against each other. However, to leverage the results of this new conflict, Magnus needed to maintain a presence on the world himself. The Imperium knew this, and immediately launched an attack led by the Novgorod Guard into the chaos lines. Cultists were scattered, but soon Magnus arrived with his host of daemons known as the Emerald Serpent Cohort. 

The battle became intense as the Novgorod Guard advanced implacably into the chaos held bridgehead on the planet, and after days of fighting the daemonic entities had been worn down and once again Magnus had been banished back to the warp. Furious at his Iron Warriors "allies", who he accused of abandoning him for their own gain, Magnus was left once again brooding in the Warp as the forces of chaos were forced out of yet another of the important systems in the Foramen Interdictum.

Imperial Command 1611_017M42

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Blood Feud at Tarlius

The Imperial Fists had last engaged Stahl's Grand Company on 10.014.M42 and had lost a whole Battle Company at Bastien, now reinforced by the Indomitus Crusade they were eager for revenge. In early 11.017M42 the Imperial Fists completed translation into the Tarlius system, fighting their way through the blockade flotilla and defence lasers they made planetfall on the night side of the largest systems moon. The Iron Warriors set out to meet the sons of Dorn just beyond their construction sites. The Imperial Fists struck first, their aerial support cutting into Havoc squads who were unable to respond in the darkness, damage to the Iron Warrior Rhino's were swiftly repaired by Warpsmiths though. Both sides, despite their hatred of one another kept disciplined firing solutions. First blood went to the Iron Warriors as targetting augers designated the Dreadnought Fulgencio as a priority target who was left as a broken heap from Lascannon and Krak Missiles. 

Despite the the loss of  Fulgencio, the Imperial Fists had the advantage, and were slowly closing the noose around their bitter cousins. The most bloodthirsty Iron Warriors sprinted the dead ground between two forces with alarming speed into the Imperial Fists lines, cutting down whole squads. Imperial Fists maintained discipline and continued engage the Iron Warriors with a combination of Bolter and blade. The Iron Warriors had pushed back and for a time neither side could truly had the upper hand, the Iron Warriors dark ferocity being matched the Imperial Fists cool bolter drills. The turning point came when an Iron Warrior mortal cohort were able sneak behind the battle lines of the Imperial Fists and encircle them. On their own the cultists were no threat, but along with the Champions of the Iron Warriors assaulting from the front and continual fire from the IV's lines, the Imperial Fists found themselves trapped. 

Score of mortal fanatics beat the Imperial Fist Intercessors into the ground, and along with the maul of an Iron Warrior slave master, collapsed the  Imperial Fists left flank. If the Iron Warriors had broken earlier in the night and retreated when the advantage belonged to the Fists, but the Iron Warriors refused to give in and kept coming, regardless of casualties, their hatred knowing no bounds. The end came when Stahl demanded over the vox to Slave master Barghest to take the Imperial Fist Captains head, charging headlong into the warrior who had already cut down the Sorcerer Dweorgar. Barghest quickly discovered why the Sorcerer had failed as his blows clashed harmlessly off the Captains reinforced armour and was cut down by the Fist leader while the the remaining Imperial Fists charged the horde of slaves with Barghest and cut them down. The Captain success was short lived however, as criss crossing Lascannon fire bisected him, leaving the surviving Fists leaderless.

The morning sun revealed the carnage, yellow and steel bodies littered the battlefield, more Imperial Fists than Iron Warriors. The battered and bloody survivors were forced to retreat to orbit, leaving their slain. The Iron Warriors had gained Geneseed, Primaris corpses for their Warsmith to study and most of all, time to complete their fortifications.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Raid on Federacy aids Imperium

While the Imperium and chaos were embroiled in the war over Vandrax, a new force arrived in the Aleph Sector in 11.017M42. They arrived via the Valitane subsector, after having received astropathic messages from the Dark Angels of Magnus and his daemonic forces in the Foramen Interdictum. The Grey Knights had arrived.

As they approached the Foramen Warzone from the south however, to get to Vandrax they would first have to traverse the Foramen Minoris via Destino, where Federacy forces had repeatedly tried - and failed - to gain a foothold. Although having no involvement with the daemons the Knights were interested in, the Imperial force would still need to ensure their path was not blocked by the Federal fleet or worse, a full on invasion force.

With their transit of the Foramen in mind, the Grey Knights organised a lightning raid against Federal forces on the Alliance base at Protogonus. Here Librian, Tallaxian and other Federal regiments were equipping and training for the next Alliance assault on the Foramen, so on 07.11.017M42 the Grey Knights launched a surprise attack on an unprepared Librian force.

The initial assault shocked the Librian force to the core, with their armoured Leman Russ battle tanks proving unable to deal with the imperial firepower. As the Librians retreated in disarray, the Tallaxian Stormtroopers attempted an aerial assault behind the Knights in order to buy their federal allies some time to regroup. but the Grey Knights simply ignored the Tallaxians and completed the destruction of an entire Librian regiment before evacuating.

To their satisfaction, the Grey Knights noted the Federal Fleet communication as the Alliance pulled their naval assets back to Protogonus, fearing a full scale invasion of a critical strategic outpost. This left the Ordo Malleus task force with no opposition as they made the jump into the Foramen Interdictum. Destination Vandrax.

Stahl aids Magnus at Vandrax, defeated by Crusade

Having a Daemon Primarch active in the Aleph Sector was a matter of consternation for Warsmith Lycurgus Stahl as, along with the Cicatrix Maledictum, they put his position as the Master of Chaos forces in the Aleph sector in serious jeopardy. Matters were only compounded when Magnus sent emissaries to Minos to demand Stahl render aid to Vandrax over furthering his conquest of Tarlius.

Stahl could not afford a war with Thousand Sons, and so agreed to send a force. However Stahl had no intention of simply rolling over for the Cyclops. Under the command of Rybax, a Lord out of Stahl's favour, the Iron Warriors made landfall in the Vandrax system on 04.011.017M42. Within hours the Iron Warriors found themselves ambushed by the Cerberex Guard supported by Valkyries and the Tempestus Scions. Nearly half the Iron Warriors force was cut down before they could even respond, and when they did their heavy weapons were malfunctioning or sabotaged; Lascannons barely scratching the Guard vehicles. Rybax and Slavemaster Cerika attempted to break through the ambush, slaughtering their way through the Tempestus Scions Company and Imperial Guard infantry platoon, only for Rybax to be caught in the crossfire of the Imperial armoured spearhead and obliterated. The raid was a complete failure, Magnus would have to face the Imperium alone at Vandrax.

Vandrax - invasions of Vandrax 2

Closely following the Imperial Fists the loyalist fleet arrived at Vandrax on 05.11.017M42. Their arrival alarmed Archmagos Cybixx, who was unaware of the Loyalist's ongoing struggle with Magnus, and the Adeptus Mechanicus forces loyal to Vorushko's crusade merely interpreted their arrival as a reinforcement of Hathek's loyalist forces. Cybixx decided to strike at the landing Lycaon Guard, and two major set piece battles took place on the plains of Vandrax 2 as the Lycaon landed and began expanding their perimeter.

The Lycaon Guard however had be re-equipped by the fragment of the Indomitus crusade that had arrived in the Aleph Sector, and were well prepared for Cybixx's intervention. Furious battles raged across the front line for two days but the guard were unphased by Cybixx's ancient technology, and dealt the Archmagos two heavy defeats, forcing the crusade back and allowing the Loyalists to secure a significant bridgehead on the planet.

The Adeptus Mechanicus did not try to sway the Lycaon Guard to the Crusade cause, and the Imperial Fists were outraged by the act of unprovoked aggression towards their Imperial brethren. Determined to put the Mechanicum in their place the Astartes then immediately prepared a raid to complete the destruction of Cybixx's recidivist forces on Vandrax 2.

The Imperial Fists' raid was however an unmitigated disaster. Cybixx had forewarning of the attack from spies in the loyalist force and was able to effectively ambush the Astartes force before they were prepared. The initial mechanicum firestorm was crippling, with the Imperial Fists losing much of their armour and equipment. Realising there was no chance of success the remaining space marines withdrew, leaving Vandrax 2 contested between Crusade, Loyalist and chaos sectors of control.

Emerald Serpent Cohort chased from Paradorn to Vandrax

In the early part of 11.017M42 the loyalist imperial forces continued to prosecute their war against the forces of Chaos in the Paradorn system. Chaos forces had been cleansed from the system in 10.017M42, but on 02.11.017M42 Magnus himself returned at the head of the "Emerald Serpent Cohort", a force which included daemons as well as the traitorous Darrantine Guard. Initially, Magnus once again tried to wrestle control of the Paradorn system from Imperial control, but a violent battle against the Lycaon Guard on Paradorn 1 put an end to the daemon Primarch's hopes of gaining a significant hold of the system. The imperium was simply too strong in the system.

Aided by his alliance with Tzeentch, Magnus concocted a new plan. If Paradorn could not be taken, where the Imperium were united, then Vandrax seemed vulnerable. Leaving an obvious trail for the loyalists to follow, Magnus transitted through the warp to the Vandrax system where the Crusade had already made a significant base on Vandrax 3, now named Cybixx Alpha. Landing on Vandrax 2, far from the initial invasion of the Crusade, Magnus now waited. The Imperial Fists took the bait and arrived in system some days later. However Magnus was ready and in a brutal opening engagement the forces of chaos inflicted a significant defeat on the Astartes, forcing them to withdraw. Magnus now dug in, hoping that the presence of the Imperial Fists would result in more clashes between the Crusade and the Loyalists. He would not be disappointed.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tarlius current

Tarlius: The Dark Angel's Assault

Now free of Inquisitor Constantine's meddling the Dark Angels were free to return to their primary objectives and continue the fight against the heretic Astartes plaguing the sector. Acting on intelligence of a high value target in the Tarlius system the Dark Angels deployed a rapid strike force with the goal of eliminating it.

The target was a mastadon, a mighty super heavy transport dating back to the dark age of technology, now daemonically possessed and put to foul usage by the traitor legions of the heretic Astartes. Annihilating it and its deadly cargo would deal a severe blow to the Chaos efforts on Tarlius.

The Dark Angels attacked with their customary speed and ferocity, focused beams of lascannon energy slamming into the might war machine as the Ravenwing sped forwards to engage it. Crippled and boxed in amidst the dense ruins the mastadon disgorged its cargo, a wave of enraged and blood crazed Bezerkers who sprinted towards the Dark Angel's positions.

Wave after wave was mown down and the traitor forces sustained severe casualties, but so did the Dark Angels who were unable to match Khorn's chosen warriors in unbridled rage. Despite being heavily crippled in the opening seconds of the engagement the mastadon proved impervious to further harm, seemingly blessed by its foul patron. As the Dark Angel's casualties mounted they shifted their fire away from it, hoping to preserve their forces and retain control of the battlefield. In this they were partially successful but it came at the cost of ending the mastadon's vile existence.

Accepting that to persist would only result in their own destruction the Dark Angels reluctantly withdrew and left the forces of Chaos battered but triumphant.

Carnage at Tarlius - The Iron Warriors make gains

Sector Commander Titus Luthor realised the rising threat in Tarlius system, after the Novgorod Guard had managed to stall the Iron Warriors without support, Luthor was confident that with in system support they could smash the Chaos advance. Answering their call for aid the Dark Angels sent in a Strike Cruiser for the fresh offensive.

On 2810.017M42 the strike force advanced in system. The Novgorod made planetfall their assault upon the Iron Warriors. The Imperial plan was a hammer and anvil assault, the Novgorod occupying traitor forces while the Dark Angels attack broke through elsewhere.  The Novgorod attack went initially as planned, preliminary bombardments provoking a response from the Iron Warriors who inflicted heavy casualties in return. Colonel Mikhailov in the field callously ordered his Conscripts into the path of the Iron Warriors who obligingly slaughtered them before tearing into the veteran Novgorod. Novgorod cavalry outflanked but were too caught out by the Iron Warriors. It appeared that stalemate of attrition and slaughter would once again repeat as planned. However Stahl had heavily fortified and supplied his positions, meaning constant resupply and rearmament utterly outclassed the Guardsman who found themselves rapidly overwhelmed despite inflicting casualties. The last pict recordings of the battle to command was from Colonel Mikhailov’s ocular implant as he was beheaded by a Berzerker. 

In a simultaneous battle the Dark Angels fared little better, expecting little resistance the Dark Angels were confronted by a single massive Mastodon Assault Transport. The Dark Angels directed all their firepower into the monstrous vehicle damaging but not destroying it. The Khornate Bezerker horde within charged from the Mastodon, first crashing into the Raven Wing screening the main force then into the line itself. The Mastodon was heavily damaged but any hope of a break through attack was an abject failure and the Dark Angels were forced to withdraw.

Rather than slow the Iron Warrior advance, the Imperial forces instead strengthened the Stahl’s position as further Chaos forces were drawn under Stahl’s banner, the planet and fortified. Activated defence lasers that began targeting the orbiting Imperial fleet forcing a full withdraw from the Tarlius system.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Foramen Campaign: Latest events

Cybixx aids Ultramarines in defence of Destino

Despite the Crusade being involved in open war with Hathek’s “loyalists” in the Vandrax system, Vorushko and her allies were still fiercely loyal to the Imperium. In late 10.017M42 Archmagos Dominus Cybixx informed Inquisitor Vorushko, now making her way to the Foramen war zone from the Hadron Expanse, that Hathek had been taxing Titus Luthor’s forces to the point where both the Destino and Tarlius system’s were becoming vulnerable to external threats. Cybixx had already used his knowledge of the Foramen to swiftly deploy and prevent the Iron Warriors from consolidating their hold on Tarlius, but now turned his attention to Destino. Taking a considerable risk, Cybixx returned from Tarlius then immediately embarked on a new mission, hearing that the Ultramarines had engaged the Necrons on Destino 1. 

The Ultramarines learned of the necron victory over the Imperial guard force on the innermost planet of the Destine system and despatched much of their strength to counter the alien threat. The Ultramarines assault went well, with the Charnovokh defeated and sent into full retreat, but this left the outer systems vulnerable to the Federal Battlegroup. Realising this, General Elliott of the Federal Task force immediately seized on the opportunity and landed in strength on the outermost terrestrial world of the system. However, by this time Cybixx battlegroup arrived. Faced with a superior Mechanism fleet the Federal vessels were obliged to withdraw or risk critical damage to their task force, but warned their troops on the ground to dig in and expect immediate attack.

The attack duly came, led by Cybixx himself, but the Librians, supported by the Tallaxian Air Force which gave valuable spotting information, were prepared. The Federally had an elaborate agent network within the Imperium, and they knew Cybixx’s preferred methods and strategies. Immediately the battle robots came under concentrated fire, and the lighter mechanics ground forces took terrible punishment from Liberian small arms fire. The Mechanics still managed to put up a hail of fire themselves however, with the Knight in their army performing a critical role dealing with Liberian armour. Soon the Liberians had lost their entire tank compliment, but almost managed to break the Mechanicus assault by instigating a well timed air drop of elite Tallaxian stormtroopers. The federal force fought hard, inflicting serious harm on the Mechanics, but eventually Cybixx himself and the Knight were the difference between the two armies. 

By 2310.017M42 the Federal force had run out of heavy weapons and armour to deal with the giant walker, and soon found themselves in full retreat. Most were rescued by the Tallaxian Air Force who managed to airlift the remaining Librians and rejoin the fleet, but were forced to abandon their equipment and remaining tanks. Cybixx, the job done, did not waste any time consolidating his position. By now the Loyalist fleet were aware of the battle on the planet and would be moving to investigate. Unsure how the Destino fleet would react to the Crusade presence, Cybixx left for Vandrax. He had prevented the Federally from gaining a foothold and potentially helped the Loyalist cause, but if Vorushko’s plan should fail, then better for the Imperium to control the Foramen Minors than the heretical Federacy and their Tau allies. Meanwhile the morale in the Federal Battlegroup reached a new low, as the Alliance considered their response to yet another failure.