Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Slow progress to Corunus victory

Back on Coronus the Imperial fleet had been recalled to Caitlen Station. This meant leaving their regiments of Imperial Guard behind and four were deployed alongside the Space Marines of the Dark Angels chapter on the surface of the planet. In an effort to impress their Astartes allies, the Librian Guard units immediately made plans for an attack on the Ork forces to the north of the Dark Angels’ base, but the Orks attacked first.

Nazghat sent his troops, mainly on foot, across the low hills and wetlands of the planetary surface, and realised quite soon that his nemy was Guard, not Marines. Seeing this as an opportunity, the Orks attacked at first light.

Initially the Imperial Guard of the Librian 21st Infantry regiment were caught off guard, and they were hard pressed to hold the tide of green approaching them. However within minutes heavy armour arrived in the shape of Leman Russ main battle tanks and hellhounds, which caused incredible casualties amongst the greenskins. Even so enough got through to put several flame tanks out of action.

The main attack came in the form of mega-armoured Nobz assaulting the main Imperial positions of the Librian forward base. As the sideshow of outflanking sentinels versus Ork dreadnoughts raged in the distance, the main fighting became desperate in the narrow confines of the Imperial base complex. The Ork Nobz refused to die despite withering fire from the humans, and an ill-fated assault by the commanding officer did nothing to raise Imperial morale.

Despite this the Imperial Guard infantry fought doggedly, and finally a unit from the 57th Grenadiers managed to finish off the Ork warboss in charge of the assault and hold on to the forward base. Their leader broken, the Ork attack became sporadic and finally petered out. It had been a successful, if bloody first encounter with Waagh! Nazghat on Coronus, and the Imperial forces began to believe they would eventually secure the world for the Emperor.

Fleets clash in Caitlen outer reaches

At the end of 08.008M42 the Imperial fleet once again met the forces of Lord Traegan’s renegade warfleet, now receiving its orders from Admiral Thok and Lord Raziel of the Night Lords. The strategy was the same, probe the Imperial defences, catch ships and isolate them, thus wearing down the Imperial strength in the subsector. Once again it could not have gone more wrong for the Chaos forces.

The renegades were first detected by the Gothic class Aboukir as a Styx class cuiser emerged from the cover of a small planetesimal in the outer rim region of the Caitlen system. Clearly outclassed, the Aboukir fled, thankful that the Edematous Maximus did not immediately launch her bomber waves. Instead the gothic cruiser was allowed to escape and she immediately called for reinforcements.

Chaos ships, with their higher speed, arrived first, and at one point the Aboukir was tempted to disengage, but Admiral Jellicoe looked at his charts and urged her to continue her flight, she was leading the Chaos forces into a well prepared trap.

The Aboukir led the Chaos force, now joined by the carnage class vessels Retaliation and Pestilent Miasma onward for nearly an hour, before to her captain’s great relief, the signatures of the grand cruiser Canopus and her consort Repulse appeared ahead of her. The game was now afoot.

Even before the Chaos ships got into range they suffered their first disaster as the Edematous Maximus was crippled by a single lucky shot from Repulse’s nova cannon. Almost immediately the styx class vessel was forced to turn hard to starboard and flee the battle. This left the two carnage class vessels to face the three Imperial cruisers, and they paid heavily. Pestilent Miasma was the first to feel the Imperial wrath, and she took several hits from Canopus, supported well by Aboukir, now attacking abeam with her primary lance weaponry.

The carnage class shook under the impacts, then detonated in spectacular fashion. Retaliation soon followed, her magazines exploding in a pyrotechnic display which took out at least one Imperial escort! By now the battle was becoming a total rout and only the late arrival of Wanton Ruination, a murder class cruiser, made any amends.

The murder class approached abeam of the Imperial fleet, but her concentrated firepower was enough to cripple the Repulse, which had found herself in an unfavourable position in order to get her main broadside to fire against Pestilent Miasma. This brief high point for the Chaos fleet did not last long however, as the arrival of the carrier Intrepid from the stern of the Wanton Ruination made it clear that the longer the Chaos crusier stayed around, the shorter would be her lifespan.

The final Chaos cruiser was driven off by bombers from Intrepid and the heavy guns of Canopus, but she escaped serious damage. Cutting her engines and drifting into a nearby asteroid belt, the Chaos cruiser escaped the carnage inflicted that day. In the encounter the Chaos fleet lost two more cruisers, as well as having their second battlecruiser crippled. The ratio of seven to one losses in favour of the Imperium could not be sustained, the Chaos tactics would have to change, as their numerical advantage was being eroded at a tremendous rate.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Battle of Caitlen Outer Rim

Last four battles (Imperium vs Chaos)

Imperial ships lost:
Black Prince (hulked)

Chaos ships lost:
Hand Of Loki (exploded)
Nebelung (exploded)
Brunhilde (hulked & captured)
Wyrmfire (hulked)
Skogul (hulked)
Retaliation (exploded)
Pestilent Miasma (exploded)

Imperial ships crippled:

Chaos ships crippled:
Edematous Maximus
Dark Omen
Ragnarok (fast battleship)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aornis: Imperial assault flounders

Following the arrival of fresh troops on 0808.008M42 the Imperial commander on Aornis was ready to launch his major assault to remove the Tau forces, under Starfire, from the planet.

His assault was to focus on he major industrial zone around the capital of Aornis, a sprawling city of some half a million. Aornis, a small outpost, boasted only three settlements, and for once the Tau would have to hold their positions in the city of Arcturia, rather than fighting their preferred hit and run battles.

After a furious initial bombardment the troops of the Librian 19th Regiment moved forward in force, using the dense cover of the city to protect them from the awesome Tau firepower. It almost worked. The Tau found it difficult to hold the Imperial troops and several times the commander of the Tau forces considered a withdrawal. However their persistence paid off. After a disasterous outflanking manoeuvre by their Kroot units, the stealth suits infiltration paid dividends, and the Imperial assault floundered when their heavy armour was destroyed by close range fire.

The Imperial commander, bitterly disappointed, ordered a withdrawal from the city, as his troops were exhausted and unsupported, just yards from their objective. The Tau, having weathered the initial assault, now had the advantage on Aornis.
Intercepted Tau communication:
> Encrypt Code Tetra Four
> From: Star Fire
> FAO: Hawk Eye
> Message Reads:
> Strong Zulu attack on FOB 27 repulsed. Light casualties sustained.
> Imperial casualties also light with heavy armour losses. Our LFO extended
> to marker 3750, FOB 28 established. Recommend immediate mechanised assault
> to exploit this breakthrough, recon elements report no fixed defences
> between FOB 28 and Zulu landing zone. Intel recommends vigorous and
> immediate exploitation could finish this campaign. Many Kroot died to
> obtain this victory, we honour their sacrifice.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thok attacks Imperial Fleet

The attack on 0608.008M42 by chaos forces was not an isolated raid. Shortly after, on 0808.008M42 another fleet was detected near Caitlen station, this time in the Caitlen system itself. Admiral Jellicoe was alarmed when the astropaths reported the signatures of at least five capital ships in the system. Hurridly, Jellicoe redeployed the fleet, moving ships from Zadoc and abandoning the Dark Angels on Coronus. Jellicoe’s redeployment shifted half his fleet to Caitlen, and the other half to Tarsis Major, following reports of Chaos and Tau incursions into Tarsis space.

This redeployment would take time, so on 1508.008M42 the fleet Admiral had only Tiger, the newly commissioned fast battleship, and the three ageing gothic class, Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy to meet the Chaos incursion, with an escort of three sword frigates. He hoped it would be enough.

Under the command of Commodore Dewar, the battlegroup approached the outer rim of the Caitlen system and formed up around their flagship. Using dense gas clouds and asteroid fields the Imperial fleet drew the faster Chaos vessels into the orbiting flotsam of the Caitlen sun, trying to use the gas and dust to their advantage.

The Chaos force immediately closed to give battle, their force made up of the fastest vessels in the Chaos warfleet, two slaughters, two up until now unknown light cruisers, and a fearsome Blasphemer class fast battleship, Ragnarok. Dewar feared he was outgunned.

The initial engagement saw Tiger concentrate her fire on her counterpart, conscious that she outranged the chaos vessel and that the Ragnarok was the greatest threat. It worked. Before the other Chaos vessels were even in range the blasphemer class vessel was burning, turning to starboard and limping out of the battle line.

Then came the Chaos response, as the slaughter class closed on the gothics. However the two slaughters, Ymir and Skoll, were unable to concentrate their fire simultaneously, and found the armoured prows of the Imperial vessels difficult to penetrate. Meanwhile the Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy were able to launch torpedoes on closing, damaging the nearest slaughter, and then fire their lances unimpeded through the gas clouds.

All the while Tiger provided support from further out, using her faster speed to get behind the Chao fleet, firing at the enemy crusiers in their rear aspect. The effect was devastating, and Ymir became the next Chaos casualty, exploding in a flash of light and plasma as she took multiple lance hits. Soon the heretic class light cruiser Skogul was reduced to a hulk and the remaining two Chaos cruisers were forced to flee as the Imperial fleet completed a wide arc around the rear of their battle line. Their position was hopeless and only a lucky shot from Hildr which crippled Cressy prevented a total rout.

The losses were overwhelmingly in the Imperial favour once again, and Commodore Dewar was hailed as a hero on Caitlen station when his flotilla returned. In less than a week the Imperial fleet had destroyed two Chaos capital ships and put three out of action for some time, for the loss of only two ships badly damaged. However, analysts still put the Chaos fleet with an advantage of 3 to 2 over the Imperials, and little did they know that the Chaos raid had been part of a much grander plan to smash the Imperial fleet in the subsector.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Daedalon falls to Chaos

Following the departure of Commander Hawk Eye from Daedalon, it fell to Light Spear alone to defend the small Tau outpost from Chaos attack. Light Spear knew the Night Lords and their newly created legions of supporting troops were on the planet in force, and the Tau were under no illusions as to how difficult it would be to maintain their hold on Daedalon.

On 1208.008M42 a ferocious assault from the lead elements of the Night Lords' forces surprised the Tau forces and penetrated deep into the Tau defence zone before they reacted to the threat. The early stages of the fighting were characterised by unusually poor marksmanship from the Tau, which cost them in the long run. Hammerheads, broadsides and pathfinders were all unable to hit their targets as the Chaos vehicles closed, and by the time they did manage to destroy the Chaos armoured vehicles it was too late. The marines had got close and were able to pile out of their wrecks and assault the Tau defences in fierce hand to hand fighting.

Despite this the battle was by no means a one sided affair. The Tau put up stubborn resistance, falling back in order and fighting a punishing rear guard action which inflicted serious casualties on the advancing Chaos marines. It was in vain however, as Light Spear realised his defensive perimeter had been compromised and he would be unable to hold off a second wave of attacks from his enemy. Grudgingly Light Spear re-embarked his troops onto their Mantas and abandonned Daedalon to its fate. Another world fell to Chaos.

The Catechism takes Tarsis Base

While the fleet of Lord Traegan was busy occupying the Imperial fleet at Caitlen Station, the first signs of the Catechism's next move came on 0808.008M42 as contact was lost with an outlying asteroid base in the Tarsis Major system. The asteroid was mainly used as a waystation for ships exiting the main jump point in the system, and was known to be well armed. Fragmentary messages received the following day revealed the three companies of Trebbian Guard had been brutally massacred by Chaos Marines and cultists who arrived via dreadclaw assault boats.

Images of their final stand in the hydroponics dome, the asteroid base's only vegetation, were briefly broadcast to a stunned population on Tarsis Major, before the Commissariat declared military law and a state of emergency. The Moonface Catechism had arrived in a major Imperial system, and preparations for its defence had to be made.

Templars Angelus “Tresspass” on Mael Kithlann

On 0608.008M42 the Templars Angelus appeared again in the Mabb Nebula, following their own agenda once more. This time they landed on the world known to the Imperium as PXY772-L, a planet of marginal potential colonized briefly several millenia ago. Then contact with the outpost was lost and no-one had set foot on the world since those early settlers. Clearly there was something of value on the planet to the Templar Space marines, and they landed close to set of human ruins which appeared to have the remains of a building constructed for the veneration of the Emperor. Clearly this was the Templar's objective.

The planet however was also known by another name, "Mael Kithlann" to the Eldar, who claimed it as their own. Of course the humans who settled it were not to know, nor were the Space Marines to understand why they came under attack from Eldar forces just hours after their arrival. Once again their appearance on a planet had led to their enemies coming out to meet them, but this time that suited the Marine commander as he used his firepower well to inflict a terrible punishment on the aliens. They withdrew and the Marines were able to complete their business and leave unmolested. Meanwhile Imperial agents desperately tried to contact the wandering Marine chapter in order to secure their assistance as the Imperium hold on the entire subsector wavered.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dark Angels Strike Back!

Under cover of night a task force under the command of Company Chaplain Gabreal El'Zekial embarked aboard Thunderhawk gunships and made orbit, uncontested by Ork air forces, to rendezvous with the Strike Cruiser Dark Dominion. For too long foul xenos and the polluted followers of the primordial annihilator and been allowed to rampage across Imperial worlds uncontested while Imperial forces gave ground on all fronts. No more!

Making good time the Dark Dominion emerged from the warp under a week later to insert the tiny task force onto the planetary surface of Bothorion. Acting on orbital intelligence the Dark Angels quickly identified concentrations of Tyranid and moved in to attack at dawn. What followed was a deadly game of cat and mouse as the adversaries stalked each other through the ruins of Imperial settlements. It was a game where the Dark Angels had the edge, using the terrain to their advantage to pick away at the xenos a bit at a time. Finally, with the integrity of the swarm critically weakened elements of the Ravenwing struck deep into the heart of the Tyranid horde to assassinate the Hive Tyrant steering it. With the Hive Mind brutally severed the Tyranids were effectively finished on Bothorion and the victorious Marines quickly established their beachhead, installing base facilities and cleansing the last traces of Tyranid contagion before the sun had even reached noon.

Meanwhile a fast moving armoured column sallied forth from the fortified zone of Coronus, making its way deep into Ork held territory to strike at several supply dumps and outlying camps. Ork Speed Freaks sought to hunt down and quash this annoyance, little realising they were heading into a trap. Even so, the Dark Angels were amazed by the speed and aggression of the Ork assault. Any other army would have been dismayed by the suddenness of the Ork charge, but not the Emperors finest! Leaping forwards the Dark Angels matched the ferocity of the Orks, hurtling straight into close quarters combat with the vile aliens, their target the Ork warlord leading the attack. The air shimmered as Deathwing Terminators under the command of Librarian Metatron El'Zurias teleported directly into the path of the Ork advance from the Orbiting Strike Cruiser Angelic Deliverance.

Casualties on both sides were horrendous but within minutes the warlords bodyguard were allfelled and even an influx of fresh Ork warriors was unable to prevent their warlord being torn from his warbike and crushed under the righteous boots of the angels of vengeance. The gene seed enhanced strength, unparallel skill and indefatigable power armoured resilience of the marines allowed them to triumph over the Orks. The heart had been ripped from the Ork force and although they fought on they did so in vain. But the cost to the Dark Angels had been high, with many battle brothers slain or crippled. Enraged at the loss of so many noble brothers the Librarian Metatron strode through the carnage like an avenging angel, exterminating the xenos filth with blasts of pure unadulterated rage so that none dared stand before this vision of destruction incarnate!

The arrival of fresh forces under the command of Captain Angelus El'Zahariel capitalised on the gains Metatron had won and soon half the planet was once more in Imperial hands. No more would the Dark Angels hide behind fortified walls, Coronus would be the Emperors world!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Current Fleet Strengths (Zadoc Subsector)

Imperium: 4* Battleships, 12 Cruisers (1 under repair)
Chaos: 5 Battleships, 19 Cruisers (2 under repair)
Tau: 3 Battleships, Cruisers 12

*Includes “Fast Battleship” Tiger

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Imperial Fleet encounters Traegen at Caitlen Station

On 0608.008M42 Admiral Jellicoe received intelligence reports that a Chaos task force under the dreaded Lord Traegan, had left the new base of Typhon under the control of the Night Lords, and was on course for the Caitlen system. Jellicoe realised from the size of the reported fleet that this would not pose a significant threat to the Starfort at Caitlen, but would need dealing with, or the shipping routes between Zadoc and Tarsis Major would come under serious threat.

Jellicoe could not count on his entire fleet to intercept the Chaos vessels, as several had set out for Aornis, following reports of a Tau landing there. Instead he was left with the new grand cruiser Canopus, the carrier Intrepid, and the dominator class cruiser Renown.

With these assets Jellicoe gave command to captain Grant of the Canopus who moved his fleet to the neighbouring system of Aranos, an uninhabited red dwarf star system. There his astropaths had predicted the Chaos fleet would be intercepted. They were right, and early on 0908.008M42 the enemy appeared.

Grant organised his fleet into a tight pack, with Canopus using her long range firepower to protect the shorter range cruisers. Grant’s fleet faced three large chaos cruisers, identified as the styx class Horrific, the slaughter class Dark Omen and the long range carnage class Retaliation.

Early in the battle Grant realised he was facing an inexperienced commander, as the chaos cruisers immediately closed at different speeds, with Dark Omen leaving the other two cruisers behind. She immediately came under sustained fire from Grant’s battlegroup and sustained early damage. Both sides escorts engaged in a furious battle, suffering major damage before disengaging. Meanwhile Retaliation brought herself into the fray, causing damage to Renown. Unfortunately for the Chaos fleet she turned to starboard to bring her main guns to bear, while the Horrific and Dark Omen continued to close.

This action caused the carnage class to actually move away from the battle, in the opposite direction to the Imperial ships, which maintained their battle line, giving full broadsides to the Dark Omen, which was forced to disengage having been crippled, then Horrific, which suffered the same fate.

The Chaos fleet did inflict damage on Grant’s battlegroup, causing serious damage to Renown who sheared out of line to limp home to Caitlen station, but after two hours of battle they were left with Retaliation to face the undamaged Canopus and Intrepid alone. This was a battle she could not win and the Chaos cruiser disengaged.

The battle had been little more than a skirmish but the Imperium once again established her dominance over the fleets of Traegan and Thok, something the Imperial fleet had been able to do for two years without loss to the forces of Chaos. The action also allowed the other Caitlen based ships to successfully reconnoitre Aornis unmolested.

For the Chaos fleet it was a hard lesson in battle tactics, and the damage inflicted ensured that Horrific and Dark Omen would be out of action for at least a month, while the facilities at Caitlen allowed the Imperium to repair Renown in just two weeks. The worry for the Imperium was that the fleets of Traegan and Thok would learn from their mistakes.

Victory Points: Chaos 75, Imperium 163

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hylas: Moonface’s forces take the glory

Just a week following the Night Lords' landing on Hylas the Catechism also sent significant forces to the Shadow Worlds to increase their influence there. It transpired that the Nigth Lords did not ask for this intervention, nor did they necessarily welcome it, but for the time being the two Chaos forces' aims were aligned, strengthening their alliance. However the fact that Moonface dod not confer with his ally, Lord Raziel, on sending troops to Hylas, would not be forgotten.

The Catechism landed on Hylas and encountered Ork Speed Freaks, vanguard scouting forces for Nazghat, terrorising one of the many small Hylas settlements. Upon seeing the Chaos forces the Speed Freaks headed straight for the Catechism's elitist elements, desperate to proove their worth in front of their Warboss. It was however an unfortunate tactical decision. Using no tactics at all the Orks simply ran at the Chaos forces who mowed them down in turn. The Catechism units never lost their resolve, perhaps bolstered by the almost deafening chants broadcast across the battlefield. By the end of 0608.008M42 the Orks had been routed and the Catechism controlled as much of Hylas' territory as did the Night Lords.

The Eldar were appalled by this turn of events and resolved to stop Chaos from taking Hylas, and its important information about the exodite colonies in the Mabb nebula, as well as the intact webway portal. Saim Hann units appeared on the world on 0808.008M42, attempting to flank the Catechism and take them by surprise. It didn't work. Almost lazily the Chaos army turned to meet the new threat, cutting it down and inflicting a heavy defeat on the Eldar. The aliens were forced back through their webway portal while cultists for the Catechism began the work of converting the five million inhabitants of the small colony into useful elements of their war machine. On 1008.008M42 the Imperium declared Hylas lost to the Dark Gods.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tau land on Aornis

On 0208.008M42 Commander Hawk Eye withdrew his units from Daedalon in order to help establish an advanced base on Aornis. Worn down after Melberg the Tau had been late to begin their campaign for the Rim Worlds and Hawk Eye was determined that the Tau would be first on Aornis to gain a vital advantage. The Tau Fleet, carrying reinforcements under the personal command of Shadow Strike were on their way, ready to start a major campaign of conquest in the region by taking Caitlen Station and preying on the Imperial shipping lanes. Aornis was to be a safe staging post for this.

Once again the Imperial fleet completely missed this new axis of attack by one of its enemies and the landings went unopposed by Imperial forces, though the Tau had to fight off an unexpected ambush from Eldar units. Why the Eldar would attack their sometime allies remained a mystery to the Tau, though two Inquisitorial spies knew the real reason. They had been tracking the movements of this particular Eldar group and had surmised that they had not given up on their quest to obtain the Solar Enslaver.

Lightspear clears Tyranids from Daedalon but Chaos pressures Hawkeye

Commander Lightspear was given overall command of the campaign on Daedalon on 2908.008M42, and his forces landed on the planet without serious difficulties. They were immediately deployed on Hawkeye’s right and began the task of clearing the proposed colony zone of Tyranids. This they did with aplomb, though the topughness and resilience of the creatures of Hive Fleet Phoenix surprised the Tau. Clearly they had evolved better protection from Tau weaponry since their last encounter a year ago.

Meanwhile the Night Lords, irritated by the constant success of the Catechism, were spurred on to take Daedalon for themselves, and launched an attack on the centre of the Tau line. An overwhelming concentration of force was amassed then thrown against Hawkeye’s troops.

After long a bitter fighting Shas'El Hawk Eye was forced to withdraw his troops from Daedalon under intense pressure from the chaos forces of Lord Raziel. As the Night Lords tried to capitalise on their advantage the canny Tau commander infiltrated Tau Piranha, drone squadrons and stealth teams deep into enemy lines, attacking and destroying vital fuel and supply depots. Without these assets the traitor marines were forced to limit their gains whilst they waited for resupply and dealt with the frustrating raids in their rear areas.

Meanwhile the Catechism, also active on Daedalon, found itself fighting the Tyranid menace of Hive Fleet Phoenix. The fighting was hard and deadly and the aliens almost forced the Chaos forces to withdraw, particularly following the death of a notable Lord of the Catechism. The Chaos forces just held on, before driving the Tyranids back into the darkest recesses of Daedalon’s forests. To all intents and purposes Daedalon was free of the Xenos threat by 1008.008M42.

Templars Angelus unable to halt Orks on Bothorion

By 0108.008M42 the Imperial presence in the Shadow worlds had been reduced to a small base on Coronus. On Bothorion the local human population thought that the Emperor had finally delivered them from the Ork and Tyranid menace when a company of the Templars Angelus Chapter arrived to re-establish links with the beleagured Imperial population there. They visited the Holy Shrine on mount Ersin to pay their respects at one of the oldest temples tothe Emperor in all of the Aleph Sector.

Though the Shrine had fallen into disuse some ten thousand years ago when the population of Bothorion was ravaged by an Ork invasion, the Templars treated it with due dignity and respect. However, whilst venerating thier God the Orks of Waagh! Nazghat arrived, having been drawn out by the prospect of a "gud fite" with the best of humanities warriors. The Templars however were not about to allow Nazghat to complete what the Orks had started millenia ago.

The assault by the Orks was bloody, and as the battle escalated the Orks threw more and more of their kind into the fray, headless of the terrible casualties inflicted, but it was their Nobz that took their toll on the Space Marines. Clearly the elite of Naghat's army had turned out to fight against the Astartes, and the mega-armoured veteran Orks proved extremely resilient. Realising his chapter was taking too many losses the Captain of the Templars Angelus withdrew, but not before they had removed several important and holy artefacts from the Shrine.