Monday, October 08, 2018

Astartes invade Mordecai System

The Imperium had long desired to take out the Mordecai system from under chaos control. As a major industrial and fleet base the system had rose to pre-eminence following the loss of Bastien to the Imperium and Calliden to the Necrons. The raids by the Grey Knights and Imperial Fists in 018M42 and the securing of Paradorn had led to a strategic situation in the Perseus Deeps which now made a concerted effort to invade the system at least possible. Thok remained at Mordecai, but with the combined fleets of Barham and D'Oyly-Hughes arrayed against him, as well as space marine vessels, Thok declined an all-out battle for the outer planet, preferring to stay over Mordecai Primaris and await the outcome of the war on the ground.

The Emerald Serpent, now fighting on two fronts - in the Expanse and in the Perseus Deeps, could not afford to defend the initial landings by the Imperial Forces, which now consisted of several guard regiments waiting for the astartes to create a bridgehead. Crucial would be the pacification of Slaydon and its command and control centre. Without Salydon, the Imperium would be at the mercy of the ICBM system controlled from the city raining munitions on them as they tried to make planetfall en-masse.

The Imperial Fists and Grey Knights were joined by the Space Wolves on this assault, making the invasion a truly Imperial astartes effort, although the tension between the Grey Knights and the Wolves was palpable. In order to remedy this, in the vanguard assault on Slaydon, the Grey Knights and Imperial Fists used their less trusted allies as bait to draw out the enemy guns' positions. The Imperial main force then arrived, crippling a shadowsword a hellhammer and destroying many leman Russ battle tanks arrayed in defensive positions around the city. Tzeentch then showed his real hand as a warhound titan, three knights from the Aether Striders and a baneblade appeared, coming to reinforce their brethren, while one knight successfully outflanked the imperial advance and began tearing into the Space Wolf armoured vehicles. A short time later, the Thousand Sons of the Emerald Serpent appeared with the thrice accursed Ahriman and a daemon prince at their head, swiftly taking control of vital objectives.

In response, the Imperial Fists advanced from their fortified positions while continuing to lay down heavy fire on the enemy super heavy vehicles. However, even with the vision of their primarch Rogal Dorn leading them their fire power did not have the desired effect. A strike force of grey knight paladins used their psychic might to destroy the crippled hellhamer and then attempted to reposition themselves in order to go after the warhound. In a stroke of bad luck this failed but the paladins were able to assault a knight valiant, avoiding its powerful flamer thanks to the psychic powers of Lord inquisitor Hector Rex leading them. They quickly despatched the war engine only to find themselves surrounded by cultists with a warhound towering overhead. In the centre, the space wolves own group of elite terminators crashed into the thousand sons lines, the memories of prospero seeming to give their attacks extra weight. Crusaders and ministorum priests clearly corrupted by chaos then advanced, attempting to clear grey knight strike squads off of critical objectives but with only moderate success. The outskirts of Slaydon had by now become a bloodbath of wrecked vehicles and maimed bodies, but neither side held the initiative. The battle was in the balance.

In the final stages off the battle the paladins were finally laid low by the warhound. The thousand sons, their durability boosted by chaos magicks began to turn the tide on the elite space wolf terminators and with the help of a baneblade destroyed most of their number leaving only the leaders alive. The very last remaining space wolves managed just barely to once again wrestle control of the central objective from the thousand sons, the gate to the underground missile silo, while the imperial fists cleared the remaining cultists in the centre, taking more vital ground. At the same time, the chaotic crusaders were finally brought down by the Grey Knights while the Ordo Malleus transports heroically blocked the path of an Aether Strider's knight for long enough for them to seize and hold that objective.

The Space Marines had held on, just barely, to their objectives, long enough for elite teams to get inside the subterranean vaults and lay charges on the missile silos. As the astartes forces made a hasty retreat, a giant mushroom cloud outside the city signalled the end of Mordecai Tersius' planetary defensives, and the astartes commanders signalled to the overall Imperial Guard commander, General Cherenkov, to begin unloading his guard forces. The Imperium had made a successful landing on the chaos world.

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