Saturday, October 27, 2007

Apocalypse on Melberg!

Operation "Northern Thrust"
The operation to take the northern territories in the Terris Kingdom was always part of Longstride's overall plan for Melberg, but the thrust towards Atlas Prime was taking priority.

Then an unexpected turn of events meant that the scheduled push to Terracon suddenly received immediate attention. Since the defeat of Jeffries' armes in Narmala the Tau had unwittingly passed over an Eldar Webway portal. On the eve of the 23rd a cloaked figure arrived at the Tau forward HQ, bypassing the security around the complex.

The very next day Commander Longstride had agreed with Shadowstrike that the help of the Eldar would be accepted, even though the aliens were opposing their efforts in the Perseus Deeps. The Eldar had assured the Tau that they wanted nothing in return and that they only wished to see the Tau victorious on Melberg. They didn't say why.

On the 27th a hastily prepared attack began, with the Eldar attacking troop formations along the coast while Tau Hunter Cadres penetrated deep into Terris Kingdom. Initially the Imperium fell back rapidly, alarmed at the sudden intervention of the Eldar, but finally an immense battle coalesced out of the confusion around the city of Terracon. Three Space Marine Chapters also came to the aid of the Imperium as they desperately tried to halt the allied alien advance. The Dark Angels massed in strength, bringing more than half their chapter to bear in the north, while the Templars Redemptus and Emerald fists also bore the brunt of the fighting.

The massed forces of the Tau and Eldar converged all around the city and the largest set piece battle of the war so far unfolded around the city. Lord Commander Lenord threw his entire northern defence force into the battle, including the Librian 101st, 57th, 7th and 8th Grenadiers, as well as the Whettis and Terris Kingdom armies. Several thousand armoured vehicles took part in an apocalyptic and devastating tank battle in the plains outside the city.

The Tau were badly mauled in the battle as the Space Marines held the centre ground, but Lenord's armoured thrust, aimed at delivering a fatal blow to the Xenos alliance was suddenly and brutally blunted by massed and manouverable Eldar forces. Hundreds of Jetbikes and othe Eldar vehicles, supported by a mighty and rarely seen Revenant Titan tore into the Imperial armou, destroying more than two thirds of their number. At the same time two Super-Heavy tanks detonated in a shower of debris and fire.

The apocalyptic battle raged for hours with utter carnage on both sides until the Imperial forces were spent. The remaining Marines, mostly Dark Angels, fell back into Terracon, now reduced to rubble, as the Emerald Fists and Templars Redemptus forces tried to assess just how bad their losses had been. Of the Whettis and Terris Kingdom armies there was very little left. The Imperial Guard and PDF forces withdrew north and south, leaving Terracon surrounded as the Tau beseiged the city. Then, just as suddenly as they had arrived, the Eldar left, leaving their broken and twisted remains of their alien equipment littering the battlefield among the hundreds of burning Imperial tanks. The Carnage had also hurt the Tau badly, but now the entire northern half of Melberg was almost in their grasp.

Operation "Xyston"
While the Eldar assisted Shadowstrike in the north, Commander Longstride began the mch awaited assault towards Atlas Prime. He had no Eldar support but was confident he could overcome the forces of General Cunningham in the South. Cunningham however had also received support from the Emerald Fists and Dark Angels chapters and just as the Tau began their assault he launched his own counter-attack.

The eastern front had been so quiet for so long that the Tau hadn't realised just how strong the Imperial forces had become. The battle started with an accurate artillery barrage from the Basilisks of the redeployed 14th AVR regiment. In contrast to the woeful accuracy of the Librian artillery the Basilisks of the 14th AVR took a heavy toll on the Tau hammerheads and crisis suits as they waited in their attack positions.

The battle developed in a confusing and fragmented way along a broad front. Reeling the Tau tried to make good their shaky start to operation Xyston but were all too soon reacting to events rather than shaking them. Crucially the Tau forces deployed to meet the threat of the 7th Coronia Armoured Regiment which threatened to break through their left flank, rather than concentrating their forces towards the trategic objectives in the centre of the front which were weakly defended by the Imperium. By the time they did, belatedly, realise their mistake the Imperial high command had brought in fresh reserves, deployed by drop pod, in the centre of the front running across Coronia.

In the south the Tau faired badly as the 14th AVR massacred thousands of Tau fire warriors using massed Hellhound and Stormtrooper attacks. Already by the end of the first day Operation Xyston was a shambles and the Tau were in retreat. Though taking severe casualties the Imperial forces, aided by Astartes units, had done terrible damage to the armies of Longstride, devastating his Hunter Cadres and eliminating hundreds of Tau skimmer tanks.

Using members of the Officio Assassinorium to confuse and disorient the Tau. The Imperial commander had gained the strategic upper hand and soon began to exploit the weakness in the Tau centre. By dawn on 291007 the Imperial forces had cut a swathe into the Tau lines, broken through and reached the Gulf of Gwendelia. Once again the oilfields of the Coronia peninsular were in Imperial hands and Corunium was in danger of being cut off.

In the north and south the bloody fighting tailed off as both sides tried to consolidate their lines and forces. Though they had lost a huge swathe of territory in the north the Imperium had successfully turned the war in the south into a war of attrition, something the Tau could not afford to let happen. While Longstride tried to shore up his southern front Shadowstrike was already planning the next phase of the war. It would not be just yet however as the Tau no longer had sufficient forces to mount a significant offensive on any front, though fortunately for them, neither did the Imperium. The bloody war on Melberg would go on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

C.H.E.E.S.E. campaign - Key Systems...

SKERA - A New Tau colony?

The Skera system was colonised long ago during the first expansion of humanity. It resides in the Perseus Deeps, far from stable warp lanes and close to strange anomalies in the depths of the dangerous area. Skera has one habitable planet which is very close to Earth in its climate and size, probably du to terraforming. In the distant past the system was lost from the Imperium and its once great cities fell into ruin. Now, during the Tau exapnsion into the Deeps Commander El Shi has found a small medieval level population of humans, nestling close to the ruins of their ancient civilisation.

The Tau have immediately incorporated the planet into their sphere of influence, ruled from Cernunnos. However they have been beset by Eldar and Chaos raids as all races search for the Solar Enslaver. There are clues on the planet as beneath the ground giant and ancient alien caverns signal that once Skera was home to a Necron population. As the Tau excavate these ruins, Eldar and Chaos forces frequently raid from unknown bases in the deep forests of the planet.

Without Melberg, and the subsequent conquest of the Zadoc subsector, the Tau will be hard pressed to expand further into the Deeps, having already added Skera, Manir and Parius to their set of small colonies. With these new bases, Cernunnos is at ful stretch governing, and protecting them, and the existing new colonies of Lucardium and Paratea.

KENDRENEC - Chaos world and location of the trumpet

Kendrenec was once a lush and green world before its collision with an asteroid some 10 millennia ago. The impact was enough to destabilise the planet's orbit, bringing Kendrenec closer to its sun. Ever since the has been a scorched desert, devoid of all life, but still its atmosphere contains oxygen, as it will for a few million more years.

Kendrenec was founded as a penal colony some 300 years ago and soon developed a reputation for harbouring some of the most twisted and evil criminals of the sector. The inmates' lives were usually short and violent, forced to mine the planet for the few minerals it contained. Kendrenec was nonetheless one of the most productive planets per head of population, until two years ago.

Using an uprising by the prisoners to good effect, the Chaos traitor Tragaen (calling himself lord) overthrew the few Adeptus Arbites on the planet and claimed it as his own. The prisoners found themselves no better off than before, and conditions on the planet have deteriorated since the invasion. Lord Tragaen's history can be found elsewhere. The traitor controls a significant fleet and army of plague marines and from Kendrenec has launched several attacks into Imperial territory over the last few years. The planet is considered a major threat and is the source of the warp gate attacks which crippled Aleph 4.

Kendrenec is now too powerful to retake and is a potential launch pad for a black crusade into the sector. However recent abortive assaults by the Iron Warriors and Dark Exterminators have lessened the Chaos threat and reduced the Chaos fleet to a shadow of its former self.

However, the Kel Sandros Eldar have placed the Trumpet, part of the Solar Enslaver, deep within the fortress world's capital, a haven of Chaotic forces and Traitor Marines. Many have left to join the Moonface Catechism, but the city of Kel'Ahir is still heavily guarded and fortified. Only the Eldar know that it also harbours part of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy.

Longstride's call to Arms - Melberg

To my Brothers and Sisters of the Fire Caste, The planet of Melberg has been the focus of a significant Tau military build-up, and now we are ready to launch Operation Xyston; an attack east towards the Imperial capital city, Atlas Prime. This strike will see our forces clash with the Imperium of Man on a scale never before seen in the campaign. Our victory here will consolidate the foothold on Melberg, deal a crippling blow to the Imperial war-effort, and ensure the ultimate triumph of the Greater Good. Commander Longstride.

Friday Night - Apocalypse!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Melberg: Army Group North surrenders

Narmala Airlift

Over one thousand planes took off on the first day of the airlift, transporting over 500 tonnes of supplies on 1210.007M42. It was as if the entire Imperial Navy, fighters, bombers, transports and troop carriers had all sortied together in one giant wave, which wasn’t far from the truth. The bold act, sending up practically the entire force, caught the Tau completely by surprise. Most of their air crews were resting when the airlift began at dawn, and even by the end of the first day the Tau had only mounted a piecemeal response.

32 Imperial aircraft were shot down on 1210.007M42 out of over a thousand. However the next day things began to change. Realising the Imperium did not intend to abandon Army Group North to its fate the Tau high command attempted to take the initiative, throwing up a wall of Barracudas in the path of the supply convoy. It still wasn’t enough. By the end of the second day the Imperium had lost 57 more aircraft but another 718 tonnes of supplies had got through.

In a final gambit the Tau air caste put up their entire force, including those defending the fleet, determined to destroy the Imperial Navy once and for all. Fully two thousand craft swirled above the skies of Narmala on the 13th and 14th, with carnage over the plains. On this day the battle was bloody. Only 23% of Marauders, and 34% of Valkyries got through with their cargo and only 312 tonnes of supplies were delivered to the troops in the pocket.

However, despite shooting down 318 aircraft the Tau also suffered losses, losing over 300 of their planes. Neither side could hope to sustain such casualties and on the 15th only a small night convoy of transport aircraft delivered 60 tonnes.

It was now obvious that the Imperium could not hope to supply the trapped men indefinitely, but they had bought them some time. The Blood Ravens had landed in the pocket, their Thunderhawks left unmolested as the air battle raged around them. The Adeptus Astartes would now be able to carve a supply route into Terris Kingdom and Whettis, if only they could destroy the Hunter Cadres holding the narrow strip of land which separated Army Group North from the rest of the Imperial Command.

Meanwhile the air supply train continued, gradually increasing back up to the levels seen in previous days. Then, on the 20th, the Tau launched one final attack on the Imperial Navy.

This attack took the Imperial Navy by surprise and centred on the Airfields around Terracon. Despite barve and heroic efforts the Tau air caste massed co-ordinated assaults on the Imperium and by the end of 2210.007M42 the Imperial Navy had lost over two thirds of their strength. No more supplies got through and on 2710.007M42 General Jeffries met with Commander Longstride where he offered the surrender of Army Group North. Longstride accepted and over 100,000 men were led into captivity.

C.H.E.E.S.E. Campaign

+++Agent 57 Communication+++
+++Subject: Perseus Deeps Activity+++

My lords, the situation in the Perseus Deeps is becoming desperate. Already the Eldar, from the Saim Hann craftworld and another, as et unidentified group, have discovered the location of part of the device. I am certain of it. What they plan to do is uncertain but agents who have infiltrated their ranks (no mean feat) have discovered that they are massing in the webway, destined for Kendrenec, the Chaos fortress.

Additionally a number of races have encountered the Tyranids in their investigations, and few, save the Eldar, have bested them. It is the Tau however who, after the Eldar, are making more discoveries.

The Tau now have foothold bases in the Manir system, having defeated a Blood Ravens scoutin force. They also hold the Parius system, the enigmatic commander Hawkeye having seen of Chaos and Eldar threats. Now we see the Eldar attacking their one time allies. On Skera the situation is less clear cut as El Shi and another Tau Shas'O have been in action against both the Death Guard traitor Chapter and the mysterious Eldar. Something of note must exist on that planet, but what?

As ever I will keep you informed. If the Tau were to harness the power of the Solar Enslaver I fear for the delicate balance of power in the sector, even against the might of the old foe. We might find Tau natural allies, but I still harbour misgivings over their expansionist policies, even though they have been checked in the Aleph sector by the UFP, the one force taking no interest in the Deeps! Perhaps our agents should contact them and warn them?
+++Message Ends+++

Librian V - Acronia Valley Cleansed

On 2210.007M42 the Blood Ravens landed on Libria V to rapturous applause. Three companies then advanced through the debse swampy vegetation in the Acronia valley, systematically wiping out all Tyranid creatures they came across. At one point they were assaulted by some of Hive Fleet Triton's most powerful creatures, but the marines took them down in close combat after using lascannon wielding dreadnoughts to obliterate a winged Hive Tyrant. In one day, with minimal losses, the Acronia valley was cleansed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Libria V - Hive Fleet Triton's latest target - Map

C.H.E.E.S.E. Update

Coravus falls. Army Group North surrounded

Unfortunately for Tau planners the Navy didn't show up. Anti-aircraft defences were bolstered and air raid procedures introduced in the North, but the Imperial Navy kept its planes in their concrete bunkers. Not only were the Imperial forces already running low on fuel they knew that the Tau were trying to achieve air supremecy for something special. Imperial planners decided they would need all their airborne defenders when that "something special" materialised.

On 1010.007M42 it did, but not in the way Imperial high command had anticipated. In the end, when the airdrop came, it came in low, and quietly from the sea. Rushing in from the North West, barely ten metres above the waves of the Great Melberg Ocean, fifty Mantas and over two hundred Barracudas unleashed a storm of firepower on the shoreline of Coravus, the Capital of the Isle of Cor.

The Tau had caught the Imperial defenders completely by surprise, having dropped from orbit on the other side of the planet and flying several thousand miles at wavetop height. This feat required extra fuel for the Mantas to carry, reducing the amount of troop carrying capability available, but the Cadres that landed quickly secured a beachhead.

These troops were followed by reinforcements carried by Orcas and soon the western portion of the city was under Tau control. Then, the Cora Defence Force under General Brooke launched a counter attack. Units of The Defence force attacked the Tau forces as they fanned out across the city. The firefight became an extended and confused affair with a great deal of inconclusive fire exchanged between the two forces. However by the end of the day the Tau had managed to partially encircle Brooke's men in the city and he was forced to abandon it to the Tau.

Meanwhile Jeffries' army charged towards the northern coast, attempting to secure the Hanibus straits before the Tau could. The hope was a forlorn one though, as when the first elements of Army Group North arrived, they could see Tau forces securing the port of Dechanel on the southern shore of the Isle of Cor. Infiltrating stealth units had sabotaged the docks during the night and low flying mantas delivered fire warriors to mop up once daybreak arrived. The port of Dechanel, Jeffries' last supply point, had been cut off.

The next few days allowed the Tau to mop up the remaining resistance within the confines of the Isle of Cor. The army of the Islanders, some 200,000 in total, surrendered when it found itself surrounded and unable to form a coherent defence. Now, Army Group North was surrounded in northern Narmala, and out of supply. The Imperial Navy, which had so far not intervened while the Tau took Cor from the air, now planned an airborne armada to resupply the trapped half a million men and their equipment, preparing them for their breakout.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fleets Clash in Perseus Deeps

While the various powers increased their investigations into the CHEESE device it was inevitable that their fleets would collide. The first such action took place on 0610.007M42 as two Imperial cruisers from the Vastrid subsector, carrying the 223rd Vastridian Guard to aid Inquisitor Huron in his investigations, accompanied by a Dark Angels strike cruiser, were ambushed by three Chaos cruisers while navigating the Perseus run.

The three Chaos ships were clearly part of Lord Traegen's fleet, rather than those of Grand Admiral Thok at Mordecai which was a worrying development. The encounter itself saw the Dark Angels cruiser seriously damaged and the Invincible reduced to little more than a hulk. The Intrepid, carrying the Vastridian 223rd was obliged to withdraw, fleeing back to Port Canuck just on the edge of the Deeps.

On the Chaos side the heavy cruiser Plagueclaw, badly led and apparentley inexperienced, was crippled by a bombing run which took out her bridge. After that her manouevring deteriorated and she was blown up by fire from the three Imperial vessels. This was the only Imperial success and it was bittersweet as the shockwave from the vessel's detonation was responsible for the loss of Invincible.

The result of the engagement was significant, as with bases on Kendrenec and Mordecai the Chaos forces had now effectively sealed off the Perseus run, preventing forces from reaching the remaining loyalist planets in the Aleph subector. By the end of the month this had led to the capitulation of Banderossa and Pirinar to the UFP. It also impeded the investigations into the Solar Enslaver, as the Imperium could not now penetrate the southern and eastern portions of the vast area.

C.H.E.E.S.E Campaign intensifies

+++Agent 57 Communication+++
+++Subject: Perseus Deeps Activity+++

It is with some trepidation that I report that the situation in the Perseus Deeps is deteriorating. The various powers in the sector are sending ever larger forces in their efforts to obtain the Solar Enslaver. What they will do with it should they find the device does not bear thinking about.

The Tau:The Tau have been by far the most organised in their investigations, searching each system in turn, spreading out with four small fleets under Fastblade, Hawkeye, El Shi and another as yet unidentified Shas'O. These forces have been searching the systems closest to the Aleph Expansion sphere though Fastblade has yet to encounter enemy forces. El Shi, having defended his position on Skera from marauding Chaos marines this week came under attack from the Blood Martyrs chapter. However the Tau noticed the Imperial landing zone and launched their own devastating attack. What few marines escaped were forced to flee to their strike cruiser which was pursued out of the system by the Tau.

Commander Hawkeye on Parius was once again attacked by Chaos marines, this time the Penetrators whose presence is always a portent of bad thigs to come. In the ruins of Kath'A dor, an ancient and abandonned Imperial city, the Tau defeated the traitor marines and continued their search of the ruins.

Meanwhile in the Manir system the Dark Angels uncovered another Tau investigation force apparently intent on excavating the ruins of Dargore, an ancient Necron tomb system. The Dark Angels sent a small force to dissuade them but succumbed to accurate Tau fire and were forced to withdraw. The Tau investigations continue in this region of the deeps and several Waystations have already been setup.

The Eldar:The old race has finally shown its hand in two fierce engagements in the Cerelium and Arastos systems. On the planet of Cerelium itdelf amongst the decaying ruins of an old human settlement two chapters of Space Marines, as yet unidentified were apparently investigating strange readings emmanating from the planet's core. However one they landed a lage force of Eldar from at least two separate craftworlds appeared as if from nowhere and launched a ferocious attack. Once again the Imperial forces were obliged to withdraw from the system without uncovering the mystery of the emmanations.

On the Arastos system the Eldar encountered the Sons of Chaos and defeated them. It seems the Eldar are intent on preventing any investigation of this barren system.

The Necrons:The Necrons have been awakened on the Imperial outpost of Enosh where the Silurian Guard had landed after the local governor had reported strange sightings on the planet. Unfortunately this heralded the awakening of the Necrons on that world and all contact was lost during a viscious battle between hordes of the metal warriors and the Imperial defenders. I shall attempt to regain contact with agent 34 but I am not hopeful.

I will as ever continue my observations, but it is becoming increasingly difficult as each race becomes more suspicious. It may lead to our operations being uncovered. We must not allow any of these races to discover our agents and our dealings in the Perseus Deeps.
+++Message Ends+++

Monday, October 01, 2007

Quicksword killed by Templars Redemptus

On 2909.007M42 the Tau learned that the Blood Martyrs were not the only Space Marines on Melberg. The little known Templars Redemptus chapter were also active on the planet having landed some three days earlier. Unlike the Blood Martyrs they did not discuss their plans nor general strategy as a whole with the Imperium and Lord General Lenord. It appeared that they had their own agenda, so when they chose to strike it came as much as a shock to the Imperium as it did to the Tau.

The first the Tau knew of the attack on their base in Kearnos, in central Gwendel, was the distinctive sound of Thunderhawks roaring overhead. The Templars Redemptus quickly established a perimeter around the Tau base which was packed full of supplies and was the main communications hub of Quicksword's Hunter Cadres. In fact on this day, Quicksword was there in person.

Speculation continues as to the motives behind the attack. The nature of the strike suggests either an attempt to gain valuable intelligence or a surgical assassination attempt on the Tau commander Quicksword. The later would seem more likely though why the Marines would go to such lengths to assassinate the least capable Tau commander is a point of much contention. Some suggest Tau agents gave away Quicksword's position in an attempt to remove him "for the greater good".

In any case the Templars were successful. Striking hard and fast the Marines used the terrain against the aliens, advancing their elite assault units under cover. While the Tau were able to blast away at the Marine vehicles the genetically engineered warriors closed with the Tau with ease. In addition one Hammerhead in particular proved singularly inept, failing to damage the Templar's Predator Destructor tank in a duel which should have been woefully one sided.

The Marines managed to get close to the Tau without taking too many casualties and then charged. The Tau stood no chance and any who were met in hand to hand combat were cut down by the super humans. In a desperate attempt to halt the Marines Quicksword himself charged into the fray, only to be brutally scythed in two by a power fist of the command squad's veteran sergeant.

The Tau were obliged to withdraw to regroup, allowing the Templars enough time to steal valuable information, maps and supplies, loaded into the holds of their Thunderhawks before lifting off, vainly pursued by the Tau air caste's Barracudas. A victory for the Imperium had been achieved and embarrassment caused to the Tau Empire, but not everyone in the Tau fire caste was in mourning for the loss of Quicksword.