Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Percivals new Offensive: Dark Angels strike

While the Catechism in south Alphe appeared to be showing no signs of attacking, and the Night Lords consolidated their hold on Snowwald Island, General Percival, unsupplied and running out of fuel, none-the-less wanted to get on with his planned offensive against Chaos on Alphe.

Percival was frustrated at the Imperial Navy’s lack of resupply, and now with the arrival of the Night Lords it appeared the Imperium had lost control of space around the planet. Although he was assured by admiral Jellicoe on a number of occasions that a new fleet was on its way, both men knew that it would take weeks for the fleet to assemble and depart for Alphe.

On 2009.009M42 the fleet had finally assembled, but, hearing the continued frustrated communications from Percival, the Dark Angels once again arrived in force on the planet, evidently agreeing with Percival that an attack north sooner, rather than later, would be preferable.

This was in part down to the nature of the force in northern Alphe. Imperial intelligence knew the Dusk Raiders were a lesser force than the either the Night Lords or the Catechism, and were supported by an alliance with the Dark Eldar. In addition the stories coming out of the Dark Eldar zone of occupation were so horrific, the Imperial army was keen to strike here first.

The Dark Angels agreed and spearheaded the attack on the sparesley populated region of Hulme Island, assisted by largely infantry based regiments of PDF troops, who would follow up and clear out any remaining resistance. The space marine force charged forward, using a fast and mobile force including a number of attack bikes. The Dark Eldar, taken by surprise, fell back, fighting a rearguard, before their force was spilt in two when the Imperial attack reached North Reach. While one force of Dark Eldar successfully disengaged, withdrawing behind Dusk Raiders defences, another force became isolated on the coast.

The aliens, cut off and with no hope of rescue, fought tenaciously and viciously, but were unable to prevent the inevitable. On 2609.009M42 their resistance broke and the entire Dark Eldar force was wiped out. The PDF following up were appalled at the scenes of torture and sadistic brutality, and found almost half the population of Hulme Island had been removed, facing a fate worse than death at the hands of the twisted aliens.

Disaster at Fort Sparcos

While Imperial hugh command under General Thaddeus Roover planned his new offensives in the Shadow Worlds, Tarsis Major and Alphe, his intelligence completely failed to recognise the signs of an imminent disaster. On 1409.009M42 contact was lost with Fort Sparcos on the edge of the Mabb Nebula. Very little attention was paid to this, as temporary losses of communication with outlying settlements were common. However, when three badly damaged supply ships arrived at the docks at Caitlen station on 3009.009M42 their story came as a terrible shock. Fort Sparcos had been lost in a single day.

The survivors, who had just managed to escape from the clutches of the Eldar fleet, or had perhaps been allowed to escape, told of the sudden and unexpected attack by elite alien forces, led, at dawn on the 26th, by powerful Wraithlords and the cream of the Eldar war machine.

The Eldar had synchronised their attacks on the main military bastions and the spaceport itself, so Colonel Anderson was unable to shift his forces to meet the threats in turn. The battle was brutal and exceptionally bloody, with the Eldar vanguard forces taking heavy damage from the Imperial Guard weapon implacements within the fortified positions, and suffering badly at the hands of the Imperial Leman Russ tanks.

In fact, the Eldar plan had gone badly wrong from the start. The attack was late, and the night which protected their initial advance on the fortress was soon lost. In addition the Eldar forces arrived in two distinct waves, rather than the one which their planners had devised. Finally, the outlfanking move by Strikin Scoprion aspect warriors had gone the wrong way, and these shock troops had turned up in the wrong place, totally unable to affect the outcome of the battle.

Despite these shortcomings, the overwhelming force employed by the Eldar had been decisive. The Imperial defenders put up a poor show of firepower initially, and the Eldar had done their homework, employing a large number of anti-tank weapons and fearsome Wraithlords, led by the Avatar of war itself.

After a day of heavy fighting, the resitance of the Imperial Guard had been broken. Many Bastion defences were destroyed by Fire Dragons, reducing the mighty defences to burning slag. Before the end of the day there was very little left of the fort itself, and the remaining Guard soldiers were mopped up by Eldar forces. Very few humans escaped the carnage.

After the loss of the fort, which had been thought of as impregnable, there were a number of questions to be answered. Why were the Imperial forces so underprepared to face an attack at night? Why had their been no warning? The Eldar had arrived by ship and the lack of an Imperial Navy defence demonstrated a fort is no fort at all without control of space and the air. And finally, why had the Eldar attacked at all? And what would happen now to Fort Sparcos itself?

Elan Ro raids Fort Aerin

On 2609.009M42 Elan Ro indicated his intentions of a new campaign in the Shadow Worlds. Though the details are sketchy, it is known that a significant force, including a fleet of several Protector Class vessels arrived, uncontested in the system of what was once the Imperial Fort Aerin. They landed several hunter cadres on the world of Aerin, striking hard and fast against totally unprepared Ork defences.

The destruction of several Ork settlements followed, though the fort itself, which had been extensively "konverted" by the Orks, was left untouched. As soon as the Orks realised what was going on, Elan Ro's forces left as swiftly as they had arrived, their ships hold's crammed full of useful resources with which to continue the expansion of the colony on Danelloth.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome to the Aleph Sector!

The Aleph Sector lies in the eastern quadrant of Segmentum Obscurus. Its position makes it particularly vulnerable to attack from chaos, Tau, tyranid and eldar forces, though orks too are a constant nuisance. In addition there is a warp lane direct from the Eye of Terror to the Perseus Deeps which makes Chaos incursions a frequent and unwelcome occurrence.

The current action is going on in the Zadoc subsector where the many powers pursue their own intentions.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shadow Worlds - The Mabb Nebula

A close up of the current position in the Mabb Nebula.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fleet Comparison - Zadoc subsector

6 Battleships
6 Heavy cruisers
15 Cruisers
4 Light cruisers

(Does not include Astartes vessels)

7 Battleships
9 Heavy cruisers
23 Cruisers
3 Light cruisers

(Admiral Thok, Lord Traegan, Shaidar Haran, Night Lords)

3 Battleships
7 Cruisers
5 Light Cruisers

The Battle of Ephesus Secundus

On 1909.009M42 a major fleet battle occurred near to Caitlen Station, in the Rim Worlds, in a system known as Ephesus. The system itself had no strategic significance, but it was where Admiral Thok's forces, as well as a significant force of new Chaos vessels, had been tracked by the Imperial Navy's intelligence department.

Admiral Jellicoe was very worried when he got the report. What did it mean? Who was in command of these new, unidentified Chaos vessels. While the Imperial Navy Tacticae tried to work this out, Jellicoe realised this was an opportunity to deal the Chaos fleet a major blow.

The Imperial fleet however was split up. Although Audacious and Ark Royal were now available, having been transferred from the vastrid subsector, all of Jellicoe’s battleships and a significant number of his cruisers were on duty elsewhere. He himself, aboad Vanguard, was still in the warp returning from the battle which saw Thok’s fast battleship, Ragnarok, destroyed.

As it happened however, the Imperial Navy had recently been reinforced by a large fleet belonging to the Adeptus Machanicus. These technically advanced vessels had been escorting the Titan Legions from systems hubward of Zadoc, and after a long astro-telepathic meeting it was decided that a joint venture to destroy or capture the Chaos vessels would be undertaken by the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Imperial Navy.

Ark Royal, the Mars class battlecruiser was named flagship, under Vice Admiral Sturdee, was named flagship, and she was accompanied by Renown, Audacious and Repulse, all recently refitted, along with three cruisers and two light cruisers from the Mechanicus fleet. After a three day warp jump the fleet converged on Ephesus Secundus, a gas giant surrounded by a number of gas clouds and rocky rings and arcs, where the Chaos fleet was apparently rendezvousing.

Imperial intelligence speculated that the new ships were a completely new force and not ships of the Warmaster Traegan nor admiral Thok. This was disturbing news, and Sturdee immediately formed up the fleet into close formation and approached the Chaos fleet with the intention of doing as much damage as possible.

The Battle

Battle was joined at 04:15 standard time, with Repules, Renown and Ark Royal embarrassing themselves infront of the Mechanicus with woefully inaccurate Nova Cannon fire. The Chaos fleet immediately formed up and approached the Imperial fleet at a leisurely pace.

The Chaos fleet consisted, fortunately, of no battleships, but could still call upon the firepower of the Grand cruiser Jormungandr, three of Thok’s main cruisers, Fafnir, Sigurd and Naglfar, and four of the unidentified Chaos vessels, which included a very rare Hecate class heavy cruiser.

A large asteroid field of the starboard bow of the Imperial fleet became an important feature in the battle. Most of the Chaos fleet stayed to the left of the field, approaching while firing their long range lance weaponry. However Fafnir, accompanied by escorts, approached from the right, sealing her doom.

As the Chaos fleet closed the Imperial cruisers took the worst of the fire. The tyrant class Audacious was soon crippled and forced to disengage having taken concentrated fire from Fafnir’s squadron. Soon after Renown was reduced to a hulk despite the best efforts of her crew. Worse was to follow as the Imperial cruiser careened into the asteroid field, blowing up spectacularly.

By 04:45 the Imperial fleet, in close formation, had made a turn to the right, blasting the lead elements of the Chaos fleet with broadsides while concentrating most of their firepower against the isolated Fafnir. The result was inevitable and the chaos cruiser was torn apart by lance fire from the Adeptus cruisers Suppono and Potentia. Fafnir then exploded with a devastating warp drive overload which narrowly missed severly damaging the Imperial vessels.

The broadsides of the two dominator class vessels and their escorting swords also damaged Sigurd heavily, and she limped away under cover of a gas cloud. However the Imperial fleet had made a mistake in not finishing her off.

With the isolated Fafnir dealt with the Imperial fleet now found itself in a difficult position. Shielded by the asteroids the Chaos fleet had got round to the rear of the Imperial vessels and was starting to do some damage. Seeing this, the two Imperial commanders ordered their vessels to maximum speed and moved away from the van of the Chaos fleet. The light Adeptus cruiser Praesel however, at the back of the fleet, did not like the odds she was facing and disengaged.

The move away from the Chaos fleet bore fruit for the Imperium however. Eager to engage the enemy the Chaos fleet became strung out, with the cruisers now identified as Semmerhage and Aran’gar now facing the combined broadsides of Repulse, Ark Royal, Scienta and both the Adeptus modified gothics. Thanks to some accurate gunnery from the Mechanicus vessels, both were soon reduced to hulks.

By 05:45 the battle, which had been swinging from one side to the other, now looked good for the Imperium. They had destroyed three enemy cruisers and crippled another, for the loss of one of their own, plus two crippled cruisers, one of which was the light cruiser Corrigere, who was unable to flee behind the safety of the Imperial broadsides. Meanwhile the gothic class Mechanicus vessels were moving at flank speed, attempting to manoeuvre around to the rear of the chaos vessels.

This was however the high point of the battle for the Imperium. Jormungandr, leading the remaining three chaos cruisers in a tight group, now unleashed its firepower on the Ark Royal. This however had little effect, but then the grand cruisers torpedoes, escorted by massed bomber wings from the Chaos carriers, arrived abeam of the Imperial flagship.

Bad luck now played a major part. The experienced Vice Admiral ordered his turret gunners to concentrate on the more dangerous bombers, leaving the torpedoes to acquire their target unmolested. Five out of six hit the ship, which was bad enough, but one managed to detonate inside the Ark Royal’s warp core. The resulting explosion first broke the ship in two, then into a rapidly expanding shockwave which tore through space at a shocking velocity. All the Chaos bombers were lost, but this didn’t matter. Scienta took several hits, causing severe damage and fled, disengaging inside the asteroid field which had shaped the battle. Seeing this disaster, the remaining two Adeptus Mechanicus vessels headed immediately towards jump co-ordinates.

When the survivors of the encounter arrived back at Caitlen station, there was much consternation. Ark Royal, and a very capable Vice Admiral had been lost, as well as another capital ship. The Imperial Navy had been hit hard, and although it was a victory in terms of ships destroyed, two of the Chaos vessels had merely been hulkes, and would most likely be returned to service. Only the Fafnir, scourge of the Imperial navy, had been destroyed for good. Once again Jellicoe had sent out his fleet to engage the forces of Chaos, and been unable to claim a victory.

Losses - Imperial

Ark Royal – exploded
Renown – exploded
Audacious – crippled
– crippled
– crippled
1 battlecruiser 1 cruiser destroyed. 2 cruisers and 1 light cruiser crippled. 2 excorts destroyed.

Losses – Chaos
– exploded
– hulked
– hulked
– crippled
3 cruisers destroyed. 1 cruiser crippled. 5 escorts destroyed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alphe Latest

Unexpected help – Night Lords invasion

After several months “off the radar”, to Imperial Intelligence the Night Lords made a spectacular return to the Aleph sector warzones on 0209.009M42 by landing on Alphe. Whether or not this was in alliance with the Catechism and the Dusk Lords was unknown, but it seemed likely that the forced of Chaos were combining once more to defeat the Imperium on the Agri world.

The first general Percival knew of the new attack was when his Garrison commander in Springbay reported the city was under attack. This came as something of a shock to the Imperial commander and at first he didn’t believe it. Then, when the Imperial Navy attaché reported capital ships in low orbit, he knew the forces of chaos were making another landing.
Governor Torak was furious that the space around his world was left undefended by the Imperial Navy, but Admiral Jellicoe’s fleet could not be everywhere at once, and the Catechism were not known to employ conventional interstellar transport.

His indignance was ignored by Percival, who had more pressing matters to concern him.
Snowwald Island had been the focus of the attack, and Springbay the main objective. The attack had focussed on the water processing plants to the east of the city, near the river Snorval. The garrison of Snowwald Island was lucky enough to include a company of Ultramarines, refitting after their heroics on Betor, and an Imperial Guard super heavy tank brigade. In addition a single Reaver and Warhound titan should have ensured the Island was impregnable.

The defence force however faced a highly versatile, well equipped and motivated force of Night Lords, backed up by a menacing traitor Warlord Titan. In the battle for Springbay it became apparent that the ad-hoc defence force, light on disciplined infantry, could not hope to hold the chaos forces for long. After a three day fight the Titans and the Ultramarines were evacuated. The baneblades had already been destroyed by teleporting terminators, and the Imperial Guard infantry, who had suffered appallingly when caught in the open against the Warlord titan, were left to be massacred by the Night Lords.

Hunt for Ragnarok

For much of mid 009M42 the Imperium had been monitoring the movements of Admiral Thok’s vast renegade fleet. No major incursion had been experienced for some time, but Imperial intelligence had linked the loss of several merchant vessels to Thok’s raiding forces. To counter this, on 0707.009M42 the Imperial navy began the convoy system once again into the Zadoc subsector via the Terra spacelane.

Then on 0208.009M42 the convoy TZC09.17 was completely lost, along with three Imperial escorts and a dauntless class cruiser from the neighbouring sector fleet. Suddenly the raids took on a far higher priority. Intelligence, gleaned from psi-ships and spies, seemed to suggest that more than a few raiding escorts were being employed.

Later in the month more evidence came to light after another convoy was attacked. Witnesses from the surviving merchantmen described a large, powerful yet extremely fast predatory battleship. Jellicoe suspected the fast battleship Ragnarok was once again on the loose in the upper Perseus Deeps, and terrorizing the convoy lanes.

In early 09.009M42 Jellicoe set a trap for the Ragnarok. A decoy convoy was sent from Tarsis to the neighbouring system via the Terra spacelane, escorted by three sword class vessels. Lying in wait nearby were two Imperial cruisers, Conquerer and Repulse, while the battleship Vanguard and the carrier Redoubtable would provide the killing blow once the chaos battleship had taken the bait.

After nearly a week in the warp, the convoy arrived at waystation 459 in interstellar space. While the navigators rested for the next warp jump, augurs on the convoy ships’ escorts suddenly picked up a fearful signal, and the monstrous shape of Ragnarok, escorted by three smaller vessels, suddenly appeared infront of them.

The convoy immediately turned hard to starboard while the swords valiantly defended them. It was to no avail and within minutes the escorts had been crippled or hulked. Jellicoe then sprung the trap.
The two cruisers Conquerer and Repulse were closest and immediately engaged, with the nova cannon of Repulse showing itself up as appallingly inaccurate. Accepting the challenge the Ragnarok changed course and headed for the Imperial cruisers, unaware that behind them, the mighty Vanguard was straining her engines to close up on her prey.

The battle now became a duel between the two Imperial cruisers and the fast Chaos battleship. As the two Imperial vessels closed a direct hit from the nova cannon scored some damage, but the Ragnarok shrugged off a torpedo salvo from Conquerer then gave the Imperial cruiser a full broadside as she passed.

Heavy damage was inflicted on the Conquerer, and she lurched away from Repulse, who by now had dealt with two of the three chaos escort vessels. The final chaos raider however slipped past Repulse and added further damage to the crippled Conquerer.

Then, as Conquerer burned and Repulse fired broadsides at the chaos vessel, the Vanguard and her escorts arrived. Now the commander of the Ragnarok must have realised he had fallen into a trap, and Jellicoe, on the Imperial battleship, gleefully gave the order to fire. Macro weapon fire raked the chaos monster, ripping her from bow to stern and causing horrendous damage. Still though, she fought on.

Turning hard to port the Ragnarok, venting atmosphere and clearly finished, poured her port weaponry into the stricken Conquerer. The Imperial cruiser shuddered and began to spin, her back broken. Seeing the loss of one of his capital ships in this “ambush”, Jellicoe now knew he needed to finish the Chaos vessel.
Vanguard turned slowly to starboard, firing again and again, while the Repulse closed to deliver more fire into the burning, out of control wreck of the Ragnarok. Bombers from Redoubtable were sent in to finish her off while the Imperial fleet converged onthe wreck of Conquerer, taking the hulk in tow.

The Ragnarok had been vanquished, but the bombers sent to finish her off lost track of her in the gas clouds which had provided a haven for the transport vessels, one of which had succumbed to the firepower of the chaos vessel. Jellicoe was deprived of his prize, and the loss of a Lunar class vessel was a high price to pay for the presumed destruction of the dangerous chaos foe.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hive fleet encountered

On 0509.009M42 the Imperial fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Dreyer finally made contact with hive fleet Nemesis, the first contact with the hive fleet proper since the appalling defeat to the xenos suffered by Admiral Doenitz.

Dreyer commanded a significant fleet, but it was tasked with more than hunting down the hive ships of Nemesis. The admiral had one battleship, Iron Duke, five cruisers and several escorts at his disposal, but with that he was expected to face the Tyranid fleets around Betor and supply the war efforts on Tarsis Major and Alphe.

By early 09.009M42 admiral Jellicoe was getting frustrated at the lack of results in hunting for xenos vessels and ordered Dreyer to dispatch a force to Betor. Inquisitor Hathek had signalled that the war was going well, and that now would be the time to strike against the aliens.

Dreyer obeyed, sending much of his fleet to Betor, but keeping Iron Duke and Conquer to fulfill his other duties. This left Captain Dingemans on Intrepid in overall command of the force sent to Betor.

Dingemans split up his force of four cruisers and four escorts and after only a few hours in the system his dispersal of forces yielded results. Aboukir detected a Tyranid hive fleet and reported she was engaging. Facing the abomination head on the Aboukir, her captain knowing his vessel’s lance weaponry would not be enough against the monster, loosed a volley of torpedoes at the beast, rammed her, then fled while the alien vessel attempted to turn.

Dingemans’ fleet took a while to form up on the signal received from Aboukir and the gothic class vessel soon found herself receiving more unwelcome attention from Tyranid escort class vessels. Tentacles lashed the ship and alien organisms were set loose all over the ship, causing the Aboukir to become little more than a drifting hulk for several hours before the crew managed to regain control.

A second hive ship was sighted, along with several smaller vessels. The arrival of the carrier Intrepid and four swords forced a medium sized alien vessel to disengage, and the smaller xenos space organisms took terrible punishment at the hands of the heavy guns of Repulse. However her nova cannons recorded no hits and Dreyer was unable to form an effective battle line.

Two hours into the battle Cressy suffered severe damage to her superstructure and gun decks after taking hits from one salvo of alien weaponry. Its corrosive impact, Dreyer’s lack of a battle line and the ineffectiveness of Intrepid’s bomber waves convinced him that while he had reduced the alien fleet in destroying the Tyranid smaller vessels, a continued and prolonged engagement with the two remaining hive ships would result in the loss of one or more of his cruisers. He withdrew.

Jellicoe was satisfied with Dreyer’s report. The Tyranids had been engaged and much information learned. However the two hive ships were able to continue on their mission, and devoured the small outer planet of Xylross some days later.