Monday, May 31, 2010

Tarsis Major: Colonel Moore ejects Strongspear

Tau commander Moonshine had made the initial landings on Sartano and unlocked the door to the south, but it would be Strongspear's forces, in late 05.010M42 far more numerous than Moonshine's, who would be expected to continue the advance. Once Strongspear's cadres had moved through those of Moonshine, the newer commander withdrew back to Tuva and Strongspear's forces began moving further inland, heading for the industrial capital of Sartano.

Strongspear's forces were highly mechanised and covered ground quickly. The main Imperial strongpoint lay ahead, where the jungle and wetlands of the coastal region gave way to a wide river valley where factories stretched from horizon to horizon. If they were allowed to get into the built up industrial zone, the Imperium would have trouble shifting them, so Cunningham sent in COlonel Moore's Prozan 7th cavalry at the vital crossroads of Farinelli.

Strongspear's armoured spearhead was making its way straight towards the vital strategic objective of Farinelli, and at first only a few units of scouting strom troopers were encountered. The Tau easily dealt with these and the sporadic artillery which was being launched, rather speculatively, from the industrial zone in the valley below Farinelli. However, at 0900 on 3105.010M42 the Prozan cavalry arrived, determined to ensure the Tau did not break through to the Sartano industrial zone.

The Prozans faced difficulties from the start as their Vulture gunships were caught at long range by Hammerheads as they dealt with infiltrating Tau stealth suits. Most were disabled or destroyed. Next a wave of Vendetta gunships raced into the heart of Strongspear's formations, opening up and annihilating the Tau hammerhead tanks but facing the entirety of Strongspear's firepower. Their retribution was swift and the entire wave of Vendettas was lost. The Tau were now without tanks support, but were still moving closer to the crossroads.

As night approached the remainder of the Prozan regiment arrived, moving their Valkyrie transports directly to the vital objectives of the town. There they hunkered down and blew apart any Tau forces which attempted to break into the settlement. The Tau had been stopped. Over the next few days. with the Tau pinned at Farinelli, General Cunningham was able to outflank Strongspear on both sides, and the 7th Prozan Cavalry, despite taking heavy casualties, were involved once more. The regiment had its first victory over the Tau and Strongspear, frustrated, was force to abandon Sartano and the hard won gains made by Moonshine just days earlier.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Perseus Deeps latest

Civil war on Bastien

With losses on all fronts it was almost inevitable that the forces of chaos, unsteady allies at the best of times, would finally fall into fighting with themselves. After defeats on Bastien and elsewhere Lorek finally vented his rage on the Anticross, determined to teach them a lesson for their incompetence.

After verbally abusing the leader of his allies, Lorek launched an attack on their HQ, summoning a horde of loyal daemons to “teach the Anticross a lesson”. The damage to the Anticross headquarters was severe and several high ranking Anticross commanders were killed. Lorek had confirmed his status as the Master of Chaos for now and the Anticross reaffirmed their loyalty to the Claws and their rapidly crumbling empire.

Southern Bastien falls

As 05.010M42 the Imperial advance continued in the same vein as it had since the landings. Veers chose to rest his exhausted Corellian troops and now the Cerberex Guard regiments committed to the campaign were now unleashed. The men of Cerberex, well equipped and with a hatred of Chaos borne of the loss of their homeland, smashed into the defenders in the southern mountains and deserts of the planet.

Hundreds of thousands of guardsmen forged ahead, destroying the poorly equipped traitor guard units and only facing serious resistance where Anticross forces were supported by astartes troops. Even here the mechanised units of the Cerberex Guard were easily up to the task, a fact aided by the absolute superiority in space and the air.

By 0106.010M42 the entirety of southern Bastien was in Imperial hands and the defence line protecting the cities of Meshuggah and Reaverton had been reached. Veers now had his entire crusade force on the ground and the Catechism fleet had not reappeared. With the campaign going so well lord general Roover felt able to bestow more awards, giving medals to the commanders and some troopers of the Corellian, Cerberex, Groznian and Porphyrian regiments who had been instrumental in the campaign thus far.

Tarsis campaign heats up

By 2005.010M42 General Cunningham knew that an Imperial fleet with reinforcements was just weeks away from reaching Tarsis Major. Confident that he would soon be relieved and bolstered by the arrival of no fewer than two companies of Space Wolves, Cunningham drew up plans for a new offensive on the continents of Merrin and Tuva. Meabwhile the Tau too had quietly received commander Moonshine and several new hunter cadres, managing to conceal this arrival through adept use of their stealth technology.

For once both sides managed to surprise their enemy. In the north east on Merrin the Cerberex Guard launched a ferocious attack on Strongspear's forces in the Mertock mountains. The initial attacks by the highly mechanised Cerberex formation destroyed much of Strongspear's tanks and broadside battlesuits in the opening engagements from 26-2805.010M42 and the tau commander was hard pressed to stop the Imperial regiments. Initially he tried to send in reserves, and though these fought bravely they met a similar bloody fate. Fire warriors fell prey to Demolisher siege tanks and Hellhound flame tanks, while those mounted in Devilfish transport faired little better as low flying Vendetta gunships proved almost impossible to counter in the steep sided valleys of northern Merrin.

Unable to bring his air superiority to bear in such terrain Strongspear was forced back, abandonning much of the north western arm of the Mertock mountains and retaking the fort once held by the Iron Warriors earlier in the war. On 3105.010M42 the Cerberex advance finally ran out of momentum, but the Impperium now had a secure bridgehead in the north west and most of the important towns were back in Imperial control.

On Tuva the Space Marines led the charge, breaking a hole in the Tau lines in the Downside Desert, taking the main water pumping facilities and the sparse settlements of the desert following rapid insertion operations. With the Astartes troops taking what were effectively the keystones of the Tau defence, the desert became an untenable position for the aliens. They were forced back and soon took up more defensible positions on the Tuva plain outside the capital Tarsis Major.

While the Tau were being forced back in the north, commander Moonshine was landing his troops in the lush forests of Sartano, much to the surprise of General Culden who commanded the small garrison on the continent. No one had expected an assault on Sartano and the Imperial defences were unprepared, a fact which immediately lost Culden his job. After replacing his commander in the field Cunningham ordered the Prozan Cavalry to throw the Tau back into the Maybourne straits. The Prozan regiment was ideally suited to such an offensive and they deployed effectively using their valkyrie assault carriers to approach Moonshine from the heavily forested Sarton heights. Initially the assault went well, the Imperial mobility proving exceptionally useful against the Tau. However Moonshine's force, which contained a high proportion of Kroot mercenaries, was ideally suited to the terrain, and the Prozan's accuracy of fire was somewhat lacking. After five days of sporadic and highly mobile fighting the Tau clearly had the upper hand and the Prozans retreated to positions around the vital Industrial heartland of the continent.

Space Wolves land in Outer Rim

Although the sacrifice of the Porphyrian Guard bought the defenders time, the desperate and surrounded garrison of the asteroid mining installations around Tarsis could not hope to hold out against Shadowstrike's elite Hunter Cadres. But at the cost of their lives they did succeed in delaying the Tau still further, time which allowed the highly mobile formations of the feared Astartes to respond to this new threat. Thunderhawks launched from a Space Wolf strike cruiser landed packs at key points surrounding the central mining complex.

The tactic of lightning fast strikes falling from each point of the compass in quick succession would have thrown any other enemy into confusion, but Shadowstrike's cadres were veterans of the long and bitter Melberg and Tarsis campaigns. Although their normally textbook perfect patterns of fire and movement were severely disrupted by the densely packed mining rigs and pump houses the Tau managed to concentrate fire on each threat in turn, causing significant casualties on the lead waves. But not for nothing are the Space Wolves feared and renowned amongst the Emperor's enemies. Although largely protected by their stealth fields and countermeasures the cadre's supporting vehicles found themselves constantly disrupted by the Space Wolve's own supporting fire and their fire warriors suffered severe casualties in the brutal fighting for the facility's key central positions.

Held together by inspirational leadership from Shadowstrike's progeny, Shas'el Star Fire, the Tau succeeded in repelling the Space Wolves from the central areas, but the outskirts remained under Imperial control. Although the fighting gradually ground down into stalemate the Tau received reports of transports carrying supporting forces of the Imperial Guard inbound. Star Fire released his position was in danger of becoming untenable.

The Tau see no shame in abandoning an unfavourable position for tactical advantage and Star Fire understood that if he were to succeed in capturing the asteroid mining facilities he must conserves his forces and await the right time to strike. The Tau abandoned the wreckage of the mines to the humans for more secure positions in the labyrinth of caves that riddled the asteroids.

Tarsis Major Latest

Valboris Map

Valboris: Trinity infested

The reavers and pirates who pledge fealty to the chaos powers are not known for their community spirit, so it was weeks before anyone noticed or cared that no contact could be made with remote Frontiersville, situated in the planet's barren North Reach region. It was only when an armed warband sent to probe the settlement disappeared without trace that the interest of the traitor legions operating out of Valboris was aroused. Fearing rebellion and dissent, the Anticross faction dispatched a mechanised column to reconnoitre the settlement and make an example if necessary.

When they arrived on the outskirts of Frontiersville the traitor marines found the settlement ruined and its streets deserted. Cautiously they made their way deeper into the maze of rubble and hollow shells. Even so, they were caught by surprise when their lead vehicles were set upon and destroyed. Identification of the attackers was soon made: Tyranids!

The Anticross responded by launching a concerted and effective counter attack, bringing down the ambushers only to run into a second and much larger wave of Tyranids boiling out of the town's heart. With their lead elements being ripped to shreds and reports of further Tyranids arriving from behind them, The Anticross began a disciplined retreat from the jaws of the ambush, mauling the Tyranids attempting to cut off their retreat before escaping into the surrounding badlands on foot to await extraction, their transports and vehicles having been reduced to smouldering wreckage.

With much of their strength deployed to Bastion in their ongoing war with the Imperium the Traitor Legions were unable to contain the Tyranid threat as the tendril's of Nemesis spread across the Northern Reach and infested much of neighbouring Trinity before an effective defence could be mustered. The minions of chaos now faced a war on two fronts.

Betor: Tyranids strike south

By 05.010M42 the war against the Tyranids on Betor had almost become a forgotten war. With General Veers' crusade in the Perseus Deeps going well general Dempsey was denied all but the scantest of resources. Inquisitor Hathek lobbied for more, but his influence cut no ice with Imperial head quarters on Farport. To them the war against the Tyranids had been all but won once already, with fewer troops, Dempsey had more than adequate resources to prevent the loss of Betor and he should just get on with it.

While other Imperial agents continued to insist that hive fleet Nemesis was no more than an inconvenient splinter fleet, Tyranids boiled over the vast plains of Betor, swamping from all directions an isolated regiment of Groznians that attempted to slow their progress on Munchefeld. All contact was abruptly lost with the regiment and as far as anyone knew there were no survivors. Worse still the very planet itself seemed to be affected by the Tyranid presence, its tectonic stability degenerating and outbrakes of mass hysteria and insanity appearing amongst the civilian population and remaining defenders. An aide to Betor's High Command was even found sobbing uncontrollably in a broom cupboard screaming "The Hunger! The Hunger! IT THIRSTS!!!".

Nemesis cleansed from Lucardium

The Tendril of Nemesis which had reached Lucardium in late 009M42 had been mostly dormant since the initial planetfall, but the Tau commanders on Cernunnos were concerned the infestation could spread. Since then the Tau had been unable to mount a significant mission against the Tyranids in the deep valleys of Lucardium until the situation on Minos had been nrought under control. Following Moonshine’s victory over the Imperium on the smaller colony, a portion of his force was sent to Lucardium to clear xenos, while the rest were redeployed to Tarsis Major to reinforce Shadowstrike.

The fighting on Lucardium against the Tyranids was difficult and bloody, with the Tau taking heavy casualties. However with the Tyranids cut off from the rest of their hive mind, their attacks, though locally vicious and successful, were uncoordinated and ultimately futile. By 2805.010M42 the Tau had cleared the valleys and rid themselves once again of the alien menace.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Betor Current

Aganthus landings

While Sentinell was being brought back to the Emperor’s divine light, the Blood Angels were landing on Aganthus, where Imperial intelligence of the highest secrecy had uncovered a link between the eldar fleet plaguing the Perseus warp lanes and the third planet of the system. Landing in force the Blood Angels initially faced no resistance, but soon the Imperial intelligence was proved correct as eldar forces were sighted.

The Blood Angels gave battle and their faith proved decisive as many of the aliens were ripped apart by bolter fire and chainsword. The initial force sent to rid their world of the Imperial invaders was utterly destroyed, and with Imperial guard support the Blood Angels widened their landing zone, determined to hunt down the xenos enemy and find out where the dangerous eldar fleet was coming from.

Sentinell seized

While the Imperial crusade on Bastien proceeded with astonishing speed and with almost unbelievable success, General Veers also had his eye on other worlds in the region. On Sentinell a small bridgehead had been established, and now the Raven guard were sent in to finish the job. The 5th Company, led by Shadow Captain Corvus arrived in the Sentinell system on 2305.010M42 and after an initial bombardment landed right on top of the Chaos headquarters in a lightning assault of shock and awe. Taken completely by surprise the Anticross forces, which had been much denuded to defend Bastien, were given no chance. Before they knew what hit them their vehicles were destroyed by fast moving assault squads, and the battle was over almost as soon as it had begun.

Sustaining minimal casualties Corvus led his company to glory personally, ripping apart armoured vehicles with his armoured limbs and hacking apart traitor marines with a righteous zeal. After the Anticross traitor marines had been dispatched, chaos resistence collapsed with alarming speed and the planet was soon under the control of the Imperium. Immediately Veers ordered the construction of defences and a base to provide even more support to the Perseus Deeps crusade.

Bastien: Chaos counter attack founders

Moonface’s four cruisers disappeared after forcing the Imperial fleet to disengage and the invasion of Bastien continued as 05.010M42 progressed. With the risk of attack from space still present Admiral Dreyer could not afford to abandon the continuing landings and urged General Veers to accelerate the campaign on the ground.

Veers now had most of his forces on the ground but even the lord general was astonished at how quickly events were progressing. Vaden had fallen quickly and Gehenna had been taken so swiftly there were hardly enough troops to garrison the hive. Further south the expected slaughter outside Bastien Primus had not occurred and Petraeus’s forces had simply swept all before them. Now Admiral Dreyer wanted them to go even faster...

The Imperial crusade was now well ahead of schedule and the forces of Chaos had proved to be far more disorganised, if just as numerous, as first thought. Now Petraeus was ordered to mount a blitzkrieg assault on Hades to take advantage of the awesome momentum the Imperium had built up.

To continue the advance with supply lines so stretched meant that Veers changed the drop zone for his last ten regiments. Instead of being deployed near Heretic, now renamed Imperius, the 100,000 Imperial guardsmen were landed outside Sanctum Nova, the new name of Bastien’s capital, leaving the eastern flank of the Imperial zone weakly defended by just four regiments, including the worst equipped – those of Grozny and Porphyria.

Veers new it was a risk but ignored the protestations of several under his command, arguing that the Chaos forces under Lorek would defend Hades to the last and try to stop the advance in the south. Lorek however had other ideas.

On 2205.010M42 the elite of the Anticross, supported by over half a million cultists, attacked the Imperial line in the north, supported by a host of summoned daemons. At first Veers believed it to be a diversion, but the ferocity of the assault soon convinced him otherwise. Crisis meetings were held in General Veers’ new HQ in Sanctum Nova as it seemed the Groznian 1503rd and Porphyrian regiments would soon buckle under the pressure, but just as Imperial high command began to make plans to call a halt to the advance on Bastien, news from the front began to arrive.

Outside the city of Imperius the Porphyrians and Groznians were working well together, with the better equipped armoured forces of the Porphyrians pouring long range fire into the daemonic host assembled outside the settlement, while the Groznians fought with admirable faith and zeal against the Anticross in the city itself. Backed up by the Adeptus Sororitas the Imperial Guard regiments refused to give ground, and the Porhyrians used their experiences on Tarsis Major to good effect, blasting apart the heretical hordes and cleansing the land outside the newly blessed city.

Veers meanwhile, greatly encouraged by the news from the north ordered a full assault on Hades, which was defended only by poorly equipped cultist followers. Mere days later Hades had fallen to Petraeus’s armoured divisions, and mopping up operations had begun. By 2705.010M42 the Chaos counter attack on Imperius had been smashed, with traitor casualties numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Capitalising on this the Porphyrians led the way in a counter attack of their own, breaching the defensive Damnation line and reaching the outskirts of the city by 3005.010M42 while the Groznians were withdrawn for rest and replenishment.

By the end of 05.010M42 even the most zealous of traitors was having doubts about the ability of the Chaos alliance of the Anticross and Claws of Lorek to defeat the Imperium alone. Without the help of others, of Tragean, Thok, Shaidar Haran and particularly the Catechism, Bastien would fall. The question before all was would Lorek swallow his pride, and would Moonface listen?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Moonface breaks Bastien blockade

With Admiral Thok failing to reach Bastien with his fleet, the ever opportunistic Moonface considered that now would be a good time to test out his new fleet. Imperial intelligence had utterly failed to find out that the Catechism now had capital ships and so it came as an unpleasant shock when five enemy cruiser, broadcasting the litanies of Moonface across all channels, appeared in the Bastien system.

Admiral Dreyer knew he could not afford to leave station with Iron Duke as his fleet was engaged in supporting the ground offensive. Instead he dispatched the cruisers Glorious, Cressy, Indomitable and Audacious to hold off the new arrivals. He hoped that his experienced crews would be able to gain the upper hand against the numerically superior Chaos fleet.

The Catechism vessels were engaged at the outer edge of the Bastien system some days later on 1505.010M42. Belying their inexperience the Chaos ships approached in tight formation abeam to the Imperial cruisers, and were quickly able to cripple the gothic class Indomitable. Even so the largest Chaos vessel, a grand cruiser of unknown designation, was singled out by Captain D'Oyly-Hughes aboard Glorious. She took multiple lance and gun battery hits before torpedoes and bombers finally overwhelmed her.

Unfortunately any hope of a decisive victory for the Imperial fleet died with the Chaos vessel, as the ensuing explosion wrought havoc amongst the Imperial vessels closest to the detonation. Several bomber wings, en route to other targets were destroyed along with several firestorm escorts.

The Catechism fleet, despite losing their grand cruiser, now hammered the imperial battle line. Glorious and Audacious were both put out of action and had to disengage, and soon Cressy was left on her own, without escort, facing four of the best Chaos cruisers, two carnage class, a devastation and an Acheron heavy cruiser.

Captain Johnson aboard the Cressy decided against a suicidal charge and disengaged, leaving the remaining four cruisers of the Catechism fleet free to approach Bastien. Now only Iron Duke and the two dominator class vessels Repulse and Black Prince stood between the Catechism and the Imperial landings. Jellicoe ordered Cressy to join them, while recalling the three damaged cruisers to Corticant for urgent battlefield repairs. At Bastien Dreyer wondered if Moonface would risk his vessels against his Emperor class battleship and two nova cannons.

Chaos smashed on Bastien

Rather than pull back and defend the capital, Bastien Primus, the Claws of Lorek and their allies had chosen to make their stand at Vaden, concentrating their forces in and around the city, and it soon became evident why. Massive power signatures from the centre of the city indicated the forces of Chaos had something special in mind for their guests.

The Imperial formations, led by the Lamenters chapter of space marines, approached the city over the rough scrubland around Vaden. The Chaos forces were sheltering in the ruins of Vaden, which had been mercilessly pummelled for hours by Imperial artillery. The super heavy detachments of the Librian and Corellian forces had an almost unrestricted view of the city which nestled in a broad valley, and they spearheaded an armoured column the like of which had not been seen together in many years.

As the Imperial guard of Corellia, Cerberex and Libria neared the city the expected counter attack from Chaos came. Obliterators and the daemons of Shaidar Haran appeared suddenly behind the main Imperial line, briefly causing anxiety and confusion amongst Imperial ranks. Special weapons squads and units of Grey Night terminators were on hand however as General Veers was quite aware of the pact between Lorek and the daemons of Shaidar Haran.

Exposed and appearing too far from their allies in Vaden, the daemonic hordes which appeared were quickly banished by overwhelming Imperial gunfire, and the forces of Lorek and the Anticross failed to take advantage of the brief halt in the Imperial advance. Lacking any long ranged firepower the traitor astartes were forced to watch helpless as Valkyries and Vendettas of the Imperial navy roared about the countryside around Vaden, annihilating the daemonic beings.

Lorek’s forces now prepared for a street fight. Here the Imperial tanks and guardsmen would surely be ill-equipped to deal with the legions of traitor marines defending the city. However Veers and Patraeus had expected this, and the roar of drop pods split the sky as the Lamenters descended upon Vaden itself. Engaging the marines in violent close quarter fighting the marines, though taking heavy casualties, allowed the Imperial guard units to make good ground, and in under a day the Imperium had surrounded Vaden.

Brutal fighting continued for days and the Cerberex regiments and Lamenters chapter took the heaviest casualties, but the massacre in Vaden was total. Thousands of traitor marines, some millennia old, were cut down, with the Claws of Lorek suffering particularly badly. On 1905.010M42, hopelessly surrounded by superior forces, the last remnants of the defenders, mostly from the Anticross faction, fled the ruins of Vaden.

After tha battle the Adeptus Mechanicus found the source of the energy signature. A mighty weapon which could have levelled the city, friend and foe alike, had been primed to go off the minute the Imperial forces had stepped foot in the city. However something had gone wrong and battle damage from shelling had meant the “doomsday device”, which would have wiped out almost a quarter of Veers’ men, had failed to detonate. Its charred pieces were taken away for study by the crusade’s tech priests.

While the Inquisition descended on Vaden, once again sorting the loyal from the heretical, ultimately leading to the deaths of over one million of Vaden’s citizens, the invasion of Bastien continued. While the hug set piece battle around the city had rages, separate forces were landed neer Gehenna and Bastien Primus. Had the battle of Vaden been lost these forces would have been annihilated, but with their lines of supply cleared across the vast wastelands of the planet, the Imperial assaults on both cities were over within just a week. Some mopping up was required but Lorek’s gamble at Vaden had seriously denuded his defence lines around the capital.

The Imperial success had come at a price, nearly 200,000 men had died and thousands of tanks destroyed. Losses on the Chaos side probably numbered in the millions amongst the poorly equipped traitor PDF units, and some of Lorek’s finest warriors had also fallen. Worse still the capital of Bastien had fallen, and the Chaos lord had himself lost face in front of his fellow Chaos commanders. Hastily a new front line was drawn up around the massive Hades hive city, as Veers’ crusade forces prepared for their next offensive.

“The skies are scorched and the air tastes of ash, but soon the darkness shrouding this planet will be lifted, the dawn will cleanse the land and the people will praise the Emperor with choruses of worship” - Unknown Corellian officer

Shadowstrike retakes initiative on Tarsis

With the Imperium concentrating all its efforts on Bastien and the Perseus Deeps campaign, commander Shadowstrike decided to retake the initiative in the Tarsis campaign. In Tau circles there were mumblings about the failure to successfully complete the campaign, and some influential Tau commanders were beginning to question the continued war on the planet, as it had become clear that the Tau supply lines were largely inadequate to exercise overwhelming force in the campaign.

Shadowstrike organised an elite strike force to attack and take the mining colony on the outer rim of the Tarsis system, knowing that the facility was only defended by largely ill equipped Porphyrian troops, sent as far away as possible from the front lines following their comrades’ defection in 009M42. The Tau commander took a chance that the Imperial fleet would not be present in the system and brought his fleet from its base on Cernunnos. His gamble paid off as only two transports were present, loading more cargo to aid Cunningham’s war effort on Tarsis Major. After dispatching these when they foolishly opened fire rather than surrendering, Shadowstrike landed his Cadres on the mining colony.

In the low gravity and inhospitable atmosphere around the main facility the Porphyrians found themselves outgunned and outmanoeuvred in a savage but brief battle. Even so the Imperial regiment put up enough of a fight to warn their comrades in the facility itself, and by 1805.010M42 the last defenders of the outpost were holed up in the facility itself, waiting for rescue. That rescue would hopefully take the form of Commodore Cardale’s battlefleet which embarked for Tarsis as soon as reports came in that the Tau fleet had arrived in Tarsis space. A showdown was inevitable.

Bastien: Latest

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Battle of Vaden

After facing minimal and weak resistance as Major General Petraeus' armoured columns advanced across the wastelands of northern Bastien, Petraeus soon encounted more determined and aggressive resistance as he approached the outskirts of the hive city of Vaden. The armoured units became locked in war of attrition in the dense urban terrain as remnant PDF units threw themselves into battle with increasing desperation and disregard to life. Fearing the loss of speed of his lightning war would enable the enemy to regroup and encircle them, Petraeus quickly set about organising a desisive offensive to take Vaden. Super-heavy tanks from the 4th Armoured company were brought forward to the front of the advance and reserves pouring in from the inital landing areas were to secure the perimeter

The two large concrete towers in the centre of the city housing arrays of flak guns and surface-to-air missile defenses prevented any major aerial operations, so Force Recon units started to test the defenses of the city, trying to find a weak point. After days of mapping the districts and fortifcations surrounding the city, an area to the north with minimal defense batteries was chosen as the assault point. Reinforced by units of Librians and the 1st Ultramarine Company, the Task Force was hastily organised and prepared to launch their offensive.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thok sends aid

With chaos losing on all fronts in the Perseus Deeps, especially in the systems closest to the Vastrid subsector, Admiral Thok decided to send a task force to aid his beleagured sometime ally on Bastien. A large force of cruisers along with the recently refitted battleship Mjolnir was sent to Bastien, via the Perseus run. Between Ares and Aethor however a force of Imperial warships commanded by Commodore Rawlings aboard the armageddon class Valiant was detected shadowing Thok's force. Thok immediately detatched the cruisers Rheintochter and Hyrrokin, along with two other cruisers, and these engaged the Imperial task force in deep space.

Rawlings, commanding Valiant, along with the jovian class Bulwark, tyrant class Centurion and dauntless class Firedrake, headed for the chaos force, keeping the under-armed carrier to the rear while attempting to bring the chaos fleet into battle on favourable terms. The commander of the chaos fleet however was very canny, keeping his fleet together in tight formation after realising the Imperial force had no nova cannons, and fighting abeam, firing lances from long distance and launching fighters to protect his fleet from torpedo attacks.

By keeping the Imperial fleet at arms length the chaos commander turned the battle into one of broadsides, something that at long ranges the Imperium could not win. The combined firepower of two devastations, a carnage and an Acheron battlecruiser was too much for the Imperial cruisers, as the Firedrake, unable to get into range before coming under concerted attack from the chaos escorts, was hulked early on. The chaos commander then concentrated his firepower against the Valiant, and when she was crippled Rawlings was forced to disengage his force or risk annihilation. Three chaos escorts were destroyed but the chaos cruisers suffered only minor damage. Worse still, the bulk of Thok’s force was now on course to intercept Admiral Dreyer’s battlegroup around Bastien.

It now seemed that deliverance was about to come for the defenders of Bastien, and Admiral Thok must have gloried in the idea of his position as the saviour of the Claws of Lorek. Even though Dreyers force outnumbered his own, they would have to protect the invasion force and would not be able to manoeuvre effectively. Just as he prepared to exit the warp near Bastien, he was alarmed to receive reports of a large Tau fleet in the vicinity.

The Tau had somehow managed to slip a battlefleet of three explorer class and two hero class capital ships past both the Imperium and the chaos augurs, no doubt due either to Tau stealth technology or their lack of psykers. Suddenly Thok was forced to break warp (not even the Grand Admiral was mad enough to accept battle in the immaterium) and face a fleet of equivalent size.

Battle was joined with the Tau battlefleet maintaining close cohesion. Even so the Grand Admiral was able to get his fleet into a good position, but crucially, fatally, the order to fire was delayed as uncertainty about the exact range to the enemy caused Thok to hesitate. He was swiftly punished. Finding their range with precision using their messenger class escorts, a massive barrage of railgun and ion cannon fire ripped into Thok’s vessels. Minutes later the mantas arrived and after scant minutes the chaos fleet was badly mauled. Although Thok did manage to destroy one of the Tau capital ships, the chaos fleet suffered worse. Two cruisers exploded and the veteran Queen Hel was crippled. Angry and frustrated Thok fled, leading his vessels back into the warp and back to Mordecai, the Tau having ruined any chance in his becoming the saviour of chaos.

Perseus Deeps - Current Status

Imperial operation to secure minors continues

While Battlegroup Apocalypse began the invasion of Bastien the forces of the Imperium were in action across the Perseus Deeps to protect the flanks of this latest thrust. Three separate operations were undertaken to bolster the Bastien invasion, against three different foes, the intention being to prevent any of these enemies of the Imperium putting the invasion of Bastien in jepoardy.

The Blood Drinkers chapter were in action once again, this time conducting a lightning raid on Aornis, the closest planet of the chaos empire controlled by Moonface. Forces were dropped following a bombardment of the planet's major settlement although at first it seemed the raid - intended to inflict maximum damage on the Catechism - would be a failure, as the Blood Drinkers landed some distance from the rebel guard units defending the settlement. However the astartes forces quickly made up the ground, braving heavy gunfire, before falling upon the Catechism forces and inflicting a large amount of damage to the installations on Aornis which would prove critical if Moonface decidded to come to Bastien's aid.

Meanwhile on Gamordal, the most heavily fortified Ork planet in the Deeps, Cereberex guard units were deployed to expand the bridgehead secured by the Blood Drinkers in the previous week. Once again the Cereberex loyalistsproved their worth, delivering a crushing blow to the Ork forces of Da Verminator and taking three key Ork settlements, breaking the Orks' main defensive line. By 1005.010M42 the Imperium had managed to secure more than half the inhabited settlements of the minor planet, putting several hundred thousand greenskins to death and routing the remaining enemy forces.

The Blood Angels arrived at Minos, a Tau minor colony beseiged by the Imperium a day later, but found the Tau prepared and ready for their landing. With only 500,000 Tau on the planet conquered by commander Fastblade in 008M42, it seemed as if the Blood Angels, though small in number, would defeat the alien defenders with their superior fighting prowess. However a new commander had recently arrived, undetected by Imperial intelligence, which significantly bolstered the Tau defences. In a savage battle outside the single Tau settlement the Blood Angels were comprehensively defeated and forced to abandon their mission without inflicting significant damage, and only narrowly avoided the returning Tau fleet - also unknown to the Imperium until this moment.

In general, despite the reverse suffered on Minos, the Imperial operation against the Imperium's most dangerous foes had been a success, while the forces of Chaos faced a much tougher challenge in their attempts to secure dominance in the region. An ill fated mission by the Anticross to raid or set up a base on Gamador only brought more gloom to Lorek on Bastien. With further troops preparing to disembark to consolidate the bridghead on Bastien, now everything rested on the claws of Lorek and their allies being able to halt, and reverse the imperial crusade.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Tarsis Major Latest

Tarsis Major: Hopes of early Tau victory fade

On 0805.010M42, following a series of strike missions by the Tau Air Caste, remote sensors and orbital imagery pinpointed a powerful energy source at one of the target sites within the barrier mountains. Tau planners immediately dispatch a mobile task force under Shas'el R'mirr to investigate the source, situated close to the Imperial held Grenton mines.

On reaching the ruined settlement the task force advanced with caution, having identified the energy source as a damaged plasma reactor, an ancient artefact dating back to the dark age of technology. Sensors and advanced reconnaissance teams showed the site to be undefended but the Tau's caution proved well founded. As they drew close to the reactor the air shimmered as the bulky forms of the Imperium's feared Space Marines materialised around the reactor site.

Operating from a strike cruiser orbiting Tarsis Major, Marines of the Blood Angels chapter were able to beam directly into the combat zone with pinpoint accuracy thanks to a lock on the reactor's energy signature. Even so, their boldness cost them as one squad was lost in a teleporter mishap. Soon vicious close quarter fire fights erupted throughout the settlement with the Blood Angel's sustaining heavy casualties before closing with the Tau to engage them in hand to hand combat. They might have won the day against less experienced opponents, but this cadre were hardened veterans of the long running Tarsis campaign and they maintained strong fire discipline even as their comrades were butchered. Their numbers diminished, the Blood Angels had no choice but to fall back and try to slow the Tau from reaching the reactor with hit and run attacks. Shas'el R'mirr gave the order to scour the ruined settlement and the Tau under his command methodically cleared each cluster of buildings, flushing out their prey with barrages of smart missiles and gunning down the survivors as they were forced into the open.

As dusk turned into night the Tau finally secured the reactor, which was supplying power to the nearby mining operations at Grenton. When orbital surveillance identified a column of armoured vehicles exiting Grenton the Tau destroyed the reactor rather than risk it falling back into Imperial hands.

Even as Shadowstrike prepared for a new Tarsis offensive he realised that the Imperium's overwhelming dominance of space would have to be challenged. Fortunately, even as the fighting intensified on Tarsis new cadres and ships had arrived in the region to aid his efforts.

Shadowstrike’s plans for a new offensives were abruptly cut short on 0905.010M42 when the storm broke on the northern sector of the Tuva front. Three regiments, including the Librian 101st and 57th attacked in fast moving narrow thrusts, forcing the Tau to withdraw or be encircled and pushing the aliens away from the strategically vital Grenton mines. The advance was greatest in the north where Colonel Jeffries’ 101st advanced over 150 miles into Tau territory – land lost in the previous few months after the collapse of the Groznian defences.

Now came the test. Many times before the Imperium had captured territory using armoured columns, but had then surrendered that territory to perfectly timed counter attacks launched by Shadowstrike’s forces. This time it would be different.

As in previous offensives the Imperial assault ran out of steam and Shadowstrike launched his highly mobile counter offensive, attacking the Imperial forces from three directions with carefully timed manoeuvres. The fighting was intense, but Jeffries’ had planned for the assault, being a veteran of the Tau wars and Shadowstrike in particular. This time his troops were arranged in mutually supporting dispositions, preventing the Tau from picking off his units when they were overextended. In stead of holding onto as much ground as possible, Jeffries retreated a little to strongpoints and then allowed the Tau to attack.

The fighting came to a head on the flanks of Jeffries’ salient, where strong Tau armoured formations, led by Hammerhead tanks, were prevented from breaking through by brave assaults from veteran units. With this armoured assault blunted and Tau crisis suits bottled up in a stalemate in front of the Librian main positions, the right flank became crucial. Kroot mercenaries and fire-warriors formed the main assault here, but Hellhound flame tanks decimated the kroot lines, blunting that attack as well.

By the second day the Librians were beginning to become desperate. The battle seemed to rage with ever greater intensity and neither side seemed willing to give up. The Librians were losing men at a horrific rate and it seemed as if the Tau would once again force an Imperial retreat, but just as the Librians were down to their last rounds the morale of the Tau cracked and the commander on the ground ordered a retreat from the Imperial positions.

The fighting subsided and with a great cheer the PDF reinforcements arrived to consolidate the Imperial victory. Casualties were heavy on both sides but this time the Librians had recorded a substantial, if not overwhelming victory over commander Shadowstrike. With the Imperial dominance in space and the chances of a swift victory on the ground dashed, Shadowstrike now knew that he would need reinforcements to finish off the Imperium on Tarsis.

Tarsis Major: Praetorians push south

With the Imperium asserting their dominance in space, General Cunningham authorised a new offensive on Tarsis, a “bite and hold” mission of attrition in the northern sector on Merrin, where the Praetorians were a lot more optimistic about a final Imperial victory than many in Cunningham’s camp.

This refusal to give up was evident in their attack as wave after wave of highly disciplined infantry marched into battle against Strongspear’s Tau on the north Mertock plain. Aided by artillery from the Mertock Mountains initially, the Imperial advance went well and on 2004.010M42 they had marched over 50 miles from their starting lines as the Tau withdrew rather than face taking horrendous casualties. This of course was the Imperial casualties, to trade lives for territory, something which proved successful. A month after it had started the Imperium had advanced nearly 100 miles, gained nothing of strategic significance and lost over 30,000 men. However they had achieved a victory and losses on the Tau side were not insignificant, as Strongspear had been forced to put up a fight to prevent the ex-Iron Warrior fort, a key strategic point on the front, from falling to the Imperium. Only an unexpected crack in Praetorian discipline, most notably in the ogryn units, had prevented the fortress from falling and the Imperium gaining a key strategic victory.

Fortunately Strongspear just did enough to prevent a meaningful Imperial success, while in the continent of Tuva Shadowstrike had bigger problems. Resupplied from space Cunningham’s Librian forces were preparing a new offensive, and another space marine strike cruiser had been detected in the Tarsis system.