Sunday, February 27, 2011

Raiders in the Deeps

With the Catechism making a re-appearance and his own forces tasting nothing but bitter defeat, Lorek's position as Master was becoming more vulnerable. Fortunately for the chosen of Chaos however, no other Chaos faction was strong enough, numerous enough or had the will to take over. Lorek had seen to that, using his allies as cannon fodder in the Bastien campaign. The Anticross were a spent force, the Night Lords had left the region, Lord Tragean and Shaidar Haran showed no sign of leaving their own heavily defended systems and Admiral Thok's grand plan of a Chaos summit had so far come to nothing. And since the fiasco of the Farport invasion Moonface and his Catechism had retreated back to their holdings in the Rim Worlds, for the most part.

Even so Lorek still felt uneasy in his mastery of Chaos. The orks were untrustworthy allies at best, and had been eradicated from the Deeps by the Imperium and Tau. Lorek needed better allies, and he thought he had found them in the Dark Eldar.

The Master of Chaos could not have been more wrong. The invitation for an alliance had not even been officially made when a fast moving raiding force arrived without warning at the lightly defended system of Sulidaan, renamed Blight by the forces of Chaos. The twisted, cold hearted aliens showed no mercy, killing hundreds and enslaving thousands before Lorek's followers summoned daemons from the warp to defend their world. Blight had been dedicated to the Chaos gods and belonged to them, but the Dark Eldar were almost scournful in their contempt for the force summoned to meet them. Lorek's daemons were banished and the Dark Eldar returned to their lair with their holds full of fresh sacrifices and play things.

Slow gains on Ares

As 02.011M42 came to an end the Claws of Lorek were struggling to halt the inexorable advance of the Imperial crusade in the Perseus Deeps. Lorek's adventure into the Vastrid sector had so far achieved nothing, and the Master of Chaos was once again forced to concentrate on the war on Ares.

General Veers was still hoping for a quick conclusion to the campaign given the smaller number of troops involved in the fighting, but he was unable to release the thousands of Guardsmen required to snuff out the Chaos defence, as they were still required to hold down rebellions on Bastien following Inquisition purges of the populace, deemed "necessary" by Inquisitor Lords Huron and Hathek. This meant the Space Wolves remained the vanguard force on Ares, with very little guard support.

On 2402.011M42 Lorek's daemonic hordes were soundly defeated at Hephath Station, despite losses of armoured equipment to the sharp claws of daemonettes, and the great company's runepriest personally slew a bloodthirster of Khorne in single combat. This could have led to a general collapse of the chaos defence of the world, but an unexpected return by Catechism forces - significantly traitor Cerberex Guard units - brought the Space Wolf advance to a grinding halt.

The sudden reappearance of the Catechism caused alarm on the Imperial Crusade Council, but it was soon seen that their leader, the strange and capricious creature known as Moonface, was not among the chaos forces. Neither were his legions. Instead traitor guard units, the remnants of the Catechism's campaign on Cerberex, had appeared to aid the Master of Chaos.

Even so the counter attack was unwelcome news to General Veers, as was a surprise raid on the Space Wolf base on Aethor by the Eldar. This time the Eldar forces were prevented from reaching the main Imperial base and the surprise raid soon turned into a costly stalemate for both sides before the Eldar disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. By the beginning of 03.011M42 the Ares campaign was still ongoing, but slow progress to an Imperial victory was finally being made.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Aleph Sector - Current Map

The Vastrid Subsector

Eldar reclaim Saim Lann

The Eldar still had unfinished business in the Shadow Worlds in 02.011M42. The colony of Saim Lann was still infested by the tyranid menace of hive fleet Nemesis, though the hive fleet itself had seemingly long since moved on. Even their attacks on Betor had become more sporadic and the war there had entered a dormant phase.
Even so the Eldar lacked the resources to defeat even the small infestation of their exodite colony, and with the Tyranids still there they couldn't complete their ultimate goal, re-hiding their Shadow Worlds colonies, cloaking them once again from the threat of outsiders.

One farseer however knew how this could be achieved. The world of Saim Lann harboured an ancient eldar defence mechanism, though the workings of it were incomplete and the Tyranids swarmed around the sacred ground where the warlocks of the eldar would be able to reactivate it. For weeks the eldar had been raiding their old territories searching for clues as to where the ancient artefacts necessary to fix the defence mechanism were situated. Now they knew.

The Eldar fell upon the Imperial colony of Aganthus, one of their ancestral homes, and attacked the Space Wolf force there taking them completely by surprise. The Imperial superhuman warriors put up strong resistence after their initial shock, but the raid bought the eldar enough time to retrieve an ancient artefact from a series of ruins close to the main Imperial base.

Now the eldar had the means to defeat the Tyranids and moved against them in as much force as they could muster. The battle around the ancient defence control station raged for several hours as the hive mind of Nemesis realised the intent of the eldar and the significance of the three control stations for which they were fighting to control.

Nemesis mustered as much force as they could against the eldar, but the swiftness of the children of Asuryan was too much for the tyranids to counter. At the climax of the battle a mighty Tervigon clashed with the incarnation of the bloody handed god himself, but the divinity of avatar of Khaine would not be stopped. Nemesis threw more creatures at the living god but it destroyed them all.

With the tyranid horde occupied with the titanic struggle against the avatar the rest of the eldar army captured one of the main control sites governing the eldar defence mechanism and with a horrific scream which echoed around the planet every alien beast dropped dead instantly, leaving Saim Lann in the caring hands of the eldar once more.

Chaos on the backfoot

As 02.011M42 wore on the battle for Ares raged on without showing signs of the swift conclusion the crusade council, particularly General Veers, were hoping for. Veers' prosecution of the campaign had now come under the close scrutiny of a new shadowy inquisitor lord who refused to divulge his identity, who began to suggest that another leader may have taken the minor planet by now.

Irritated, Veers requested aid from the Astartes, and the Dark Angels agreed to help, sending in a company of marines and quickly taking the capital, Ares City. The Dark Angels fleet around the planet soon found themselves under attack however, as Admiral Thokk's forces suddenly appeared without warning on 1902.011M42. Fortunately the commander of the Dark Angels' fleet, consisting of five strike cruisers and a multitude of escort craft, was well experienced with the renegade admiral's tactics. The brief fleet battle which followed saw the chaos fleet come of much worse, losing a cruiser and having several other capital ships crippled before it fled back to Mordecai.

Although a failure, Thokk's attack bought the chaos forces much needed time on the surface, as the Dark Angels pulled back to protect their fleet. A company of Blood Angels was quickly rushed in to take up the vacated defences but before the handover was fully complete Lorek's daemonic forces launched a powerful counter attack ejecting the Imperial Astartes warriors from the settlement of Hephath station. It seemed that the capture of Ares would drag on for some time yet.

Meanwhile Lorek was planning a new campaign. Growing increasingly frustrated at losses to both Imperial and Necron armies, the Master of Chaos turned his attention to the disorganised and disunited ork worlds of the Cerrack nebula in the nearby Vastrid sector. If these could be taken or the orks convinced to follow him, the strategically vital hive world of Vastrid would be at his mercy. Where Moonface had failed at Farport, Lorek could succeed at Vastrid.

The initial invasion was however a fiasco. Lorek's troops landed in force on the sparcely inhabited human world of Glossop V. Here he intended to set up a base and launch further attacks on the ork minor world of Aspaster, then if successful use this performance as a bargaining tool with the main ork forces on Magark. Glossop V was nominally Imperial, but the few hundred thousand backward inhabitants and the planet's proximity to ork space meant the Imperial forces hadn't been here in centuries. The landing proceeded well, but just days after the initial invasion, Da Verminator arrived.

Although the Ork warlord was by no means in charge of the Orks of the Cerrack Nebula, he knew Lorek, or at least had encountered the chaos forces before while losing all his holdings in the Perseus Deeps. Now Lorek's armies had arrived in the Vastrid subsector, and presented Da Verminator with an opportunity for revenge, to prove himself and above all for a good fight.

The greenskins landed in a haphazard manner but were able to form up into a cohesive army before launching themselves on Lorek's forces. In two days of battle no quarter was given, but the short supply lines of the Orks compared to the overstretched ones of the chaos forces was telling. After just two days the Claws of Lorek and their daemonic allies were wiped out, and Lorek's grand strategy had fallen apart before it had even begun.

Necron War starts in earnest

Fastblade's plea for help on Skera was heeded and thanks to extensive investment in waystations and the base at Cernunnos, help came relatively quickly. Tau Covert Orbital Observation Teams and allied agents of Federacy Military Intelligence had been monitoring the emerging Necron threat in the Perseus Deeps with growing alarm. The discovery of major tomb worlds close to Tau and Federacy controlled space was of great concern to the two allies. When stealth drones began transmitting data showing significant activity and energy emissions from the surface of Malius, Scallius and Cathasaea it could only mean that an attack was imminent.

The Federacy had enjoyed a considerable period of peace and its military forces were not ready to come to the aid of the Tau on such short notice. The nearest available re-enforcements were stationed on Tarsis. Fortunately the war there remained quiet and the Imperials even showed signs of preparing a withdrawal.

Shadowstrike immediately mobilised some of his elite Emergent Threat Cadres under Shas'el Starfire to re-enforce the Tau colonies nearest the tomb worlds. More cadres would be forthcoming but they would require time to mobilise. By 1802.011M42 hunter cadres of commander Moonshine and commander Starfire had arrived at the Tau nase. The assistance came none too soon aswell, as no sooner had the reinforcements landed the Necron assault came in full force.

The Necrons attacked on a narrow front, refusing one flank in an attempt to use a massed force of destroyers to break the tau centre. Moonshine's forces soon found themselves facing little resistance on their flank and moved quickly to regain contact with the enemy. Meanwhile in the centre and particularly on the Tau left flank where Shadowstrike's forces were concentrated, the Necrons quickly threatened to break through. Half flesh half machine monsters tore through the tau ranks and only Shadowstrike's armoured forces managed to escape the onslaught. Fastblades force just barely managed to hold the centre and as the first day of the Necron assault ended the tide had turned, Moonshine's crisis suits and kroot warriors turning up on the right flank just in time, turning the Necron line and forcing them into retreat, the Tau hammerheads and Devilfish making the difference against the implaccable metallic aliens.

The Necrons now appeared to realise that the Tau had become too strong for their initial landing force and abandonned the planet. Shadowstrike however feared their return, as did his colleagues Moonshine and Fastblade, so the Tau commanders began to draw up plans for the fortification of Skera and Paratea.

The Necron threat had been repulsed for the time being, but the Tau urgently needed to fortify their outposts on the edge of the Perseus Deeps. Some re-enforcements had been transferred from Tarsis but many more were needed, along with munitions and equipment. The supply bases lying between the Tau Empire and the Deeps were of critical importance, so when sensor towers detected crude ships landing (although crashing would seem a more apt term) on Hylas the Tau garrison forces were quick to react.

Infiltrators quickly located a small Ork force heading towards the main supply dump and a task force headed to intercept them. The clumsy greenskins didn't realise their presence was known until energy pulses, guided missiles and plasma rounds began bursting amidst them. With a terrific sonic boom a railgun round split the air and the heavily camouflaged form of a Hammerhead gunship slipped into view. Although a backworld the forces on Calabris had been using their quiet posting to drill remorselessly and included many veterans rotated out for recovery. Their fire was unfailingly precise yet few orks fell to the ambush. Much of the incoming fire simply bounced off the dome of a massive force field in the middle of the Ork horde amidst a shower of light and explosions.

The Orks let out a loud cry of “Waaaaagh!” and charged forward. The Tau kept up their assault but the force dome seemed impenetrable. Fearlessly the Kroot auxiliary concealed ahead of the Ork attack sprang from their positions and leapt within the force dome, slaughtering the greenskins heading the charge only to be overwhelmed by a second wave. Still the Orks came on and the Shas'el commanding the garrison saw that his fire warriors would be overwhelmed if he did not act. He sacrificed himself for the greater good, cleansing dozens of the orks with fire and airbursts.

Still the Orks advanced but their luck had run out. The force field finally overloaded and a missile found its way through to the dreadnought leading the attack. The Bigmech's personal bodyguard dropped one by one around him as he sought something to vent his rage on. He finally fell to a pulse rifle round to the face only a yard in front of a relieved fire warrior. With the supply base unharmed the Tau began shoring up their outposts in the Deeps.

Meanwhile the Necrons again attempted to probe the Imperial defences on Aganthus, knowing that their main strength was still focussed on General Veers' crusade. The Necrons found however that the Space Wolves of Erik Morcai's great company had arrived in force. They at least had recognised the Necron threat as real and had anticipated the return of the aliens. The Necrons soon found that the Space Wolves were ready and waiting for them, and barely two hours after they had made contact with the xenos they had once again mysteriously disappeared.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Suppression of Zog

With the increasing Necron activity in the Perseus Deeps and the offensive on Ares stalled, General Veers turned his attention to the final Ork held system in the region, known as Zog (no doubt from the gutteral ork language). Gamordal had already been surpressed but increasing raids by Ork pirates on the crusade's supply routes led the crusade council to decide that Zog needed surpressing as well.

Zog was known to have a large concentration of Ork roks, but the ground forces on the main habitable planet were not considered to be large. With this in mind Jellicoe appointed Rear Admiral Craddock aboard the Retribution class battleship Resolution to command a fleet to root out the Roks, while Wolflord Bran Redmaw's great company of Space Wolves would decapitate the ork forces on the ground. Craddock was given the Jovian class Bulwark as carrier support, as well as Repulse, Agincourt, Conquerer and Phoenix to clear the system, while the Space Wolves would make their own way there.

On 1002.011M42 the Space Wolves landed on Zog itself and quickly annihilated the ork leaders. Some of the greenskins put up a hard fight but within two days the ground war was over and Redmaw signalled that Imperial Guard troops could now land to mop up the remaining Orks who had fled into the vast wilderness zones of the planet.

Meanwhile in space Craddock's vessels soon found themselves with a difficult task on their hands. Instead of a handful of Roks the orks had managed to construct eighteen of the asteroid gun platforms and had immediately reacted to the arrival of the Imperial fleet by launching an all out massed attack on Cardale's forces. The rear admiral had no option but to fight and in the ensuing battle nine of the ork bastions were destroyed, but not without loss. In attempting to clear a path through the massed ork formation Craddock managed to split the ork forces, avoiding the worst of their firepower. However the Repulse was reduced to a hulk by massed ork gunfire, while Conquerer and Phoenix were crippled. The loss of Repulse was a bitter blow to Craddock, who had to abandon the attempt to destroy the remaining ork vessels and return to Corticant for repairs. The Resolution's poor shooting was notable and may have been a contributing factor to the loss of the Repulse, though the hulk was towed back to Corticant for salvage.

Overall the supression of Zog was a success, and the remaining Roks disappeared, though that in itself became a cause for concern to Jellicoe, and the fear of nine or more ork gun platforms appearing in nearby systems without warning became a nagging doubt in the Crusade council's collective mind.

Repulse hulked
Conquerer crippled
Firedrake crippled

9 (of 18) Roks destroyed
2 others crippled

Necron gains and losses

Following their invasion of Blight the Necrons continued their aggressive expansionist actions as 02.011M42 progressed. News of their foothold on Aganthus reached the Imperial Crusade HQ on Corticant and the Dark Angels took it upon themselves to rid the Imperial world of their taint, and by 1302.011M42 they had succeeded, the Necrons phasing out and disappearing rather than face annihilation.

Meanwhile on Blight the war had become one of attrition. The Covenant of Damnation, depleted in forces since the Bastien war resorted once again to raising a host of daemons to counter their enemy, but they only barely managed to conatin the Necron advance from their beachhead. The war on Blight would continue for some time yet.

The Necron menace came to the Tau a few days after they had moved against the forces of chaos. It was obvious to all that Skera and Parius were perilously close to the main Necron worlds but the Tau failed to prepare, hoping, rather than expecting that the Necrons would confine their attacks to Imperial and chaos targets. In all honesty the Tau knew they were likely to face the Necrons, but had little in the way of spare resources to protect their new colonies in the Deeps.

On the very edge of the Aleph expansion sphere the thinly spread Tau fleet were unable to defend the smaller colonies, but Skera boasted two full hunter cadres. However the Tau expected, naively, some kind of warning from their sensor drones at the edge of the system, failing to understand the sophistication of Necron technology. On 1002.011M42 the Tau found to their horror that the Necrons had already landed on Skera and advancing on the main settlement.

Commander Fastblade, in command of all forces on the minor colonies of the Deeps, prepared the Skera defence forces to meet the Necrons well away from the main Tau colony, but the battle went badly for the inexperienced Tau. The forces of Fastblade were totally outclassed by the alien invaders and soon the badly battered Tau were in full retreat back to the main compound where preparations were hastily made for a last defence. Meanwhile Fastblade sent out an urgent request for reinforcements.

Eldar aid Veer's crusade

Lorek's failing fortunes in the Perseus Deeps received another blow in mid 02.011M42 when the eldar unexpectedly raided Carnage. Unknown to the forces of chaos, the eldar had their reasons, and their successful raid enabled them to hide their exodite world of Shelwe Agir in the Shadow Worlds. How they did this is unknown, but the Claws of Lorek are known to have lost an important artefact from one of their shrines on the daemonworld.

Lorek's forces faired extremely badly when they attempted to counter attack on Carnage, and yet another daemonhost was defeated by an enemy. This time the eldar forces ripped apart the daemons who arrived in an uncoordinated fashion and failed utterly to stop the eldar from accomplishing their mission.

The failure of Lorek's forces led to rebellion amongst the pantheon of chaos forces loyal to the "master of chaos" and very soon he was forced to reassert his position. Fortunately the Covenant forces in the vanguard of the rebellion failed to unseat Lorek's position, being crushed in turn by Lorek's daemons. Later in the month guerilla tactics on Ares managed to retake Ares city from the Imperium, but the Claws' position as the pre-eminent leader of all chaos in the Deeps still hung by a thread.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stalemate at Gamordal

on 0902.011M42 Admiral Thokk, renegade psychotic admiral of Mordecai, tried again to break in to the inner defences of the Perseus crusade. Admiral Jellicoe had carefully arranged his fleet so that Corticant and Bastien were protected, as well as the all important Farport warp lane which served as the main supply line for the crusade since the capture of Bastien.

Thokk decided against a direct attack and by early 02.011M42 the Imperial admiral received intelligence that the chaos admiral was up to mischief in the Gamordal system, an ork controlled region which if captured would secure the Upper Perseus Reach warp lane for the powers of chaos.

Admiral Jellicoe sent Admiral Cardale to investigate and if possible bring the chaos fleet to heel. Cardale's forces included the Apocalypse class battleship Agamemnon, the tyrants Audacious and Centurion, the lunars Agincourt and Conquerer and the battlecruiser Valiant. Despite lacking any attack craft ordnance, Cardale's fleet packed a significant punch.

Cardale arrived on 0802.011M42 but deployed in a cautious manner, aware that the orks had constructed a number of Roks in the system. After a day of scouting with his firestorm escorts it became apparent that Thokk was already well in system and had set about destroying the ork defences. By the time Cardale accelerated his battlefleet to full speed and made contact with the enemy fleet, Thokk's forces had already destroyed three Rok's, ensuring that the renown of the forces of chaos remained impressive in the eyes of the orks. Imperial high command and admiral Jellicoe himself would be critical of Cardale's caution despite the events which followed, as the strategic initiative would have been better served if Thokk's fleet had been driven off before their propaganda coup in front of the greenskins.

Battle was joined between the two fleets at 20:12 local time, and the nova cannon of Agamemnon soon proved its worth, crippling the slaughter class Skoll in just a few salvoes. The two fleets were on opposite parallel courses, and both admirals began turning their ships into the other's amid the mass of asteroids which typified the outer reaches of the Gamordal system.

Thokk handled his fleet well, and Jormungandr and her consorts successfully crossed admiral Cardale's "T" by navigating without too much incident through two large asteroid fields. This was unexpected by the Imperial commander, who had managed to form up his fleet, although Valiant, the armageddon class battlecruiser, had managed to drift waywardly out of formation.

Despite the tactical advantage Thokk had managed to secure, luck was not on his side. The Chaos forces fired full broadsides at the Imperial prows, but Cardale's forces, protected by thick frontal armour and launching torpedo waves, were up to the challenge. The crossing of the "T" was an impressive move, but had little real effect. Even so Audacious was crippled and forced to disengage. Agamemnon too took heavy damage, but turning to port and locking on to the chaos fleet her lance batteries raked the chaos ships. The two lunars then joined in and before long Rheintochter and Midgard were crippled.

Worse was to follow for Thokk however as Hyrrokin found herself exposed on the right flank of the chaos formation as Cardale's forces passed in formation behind his enemy. Unable to disengage, Hyrrokin felt the full fury of the Imperial guns and before long exploded in a flash of plasma.

As the fleets separated they lost contact. Admiral Cardale. his flagship damaged and several of his cruisers running low on ammunition, returned to Corticant for repairs. Thokk is believed to have returned to Mordecai. On paper the battle of Gamordal was an Imperial victory, but the strategic position remained unchanged, and the orks were allowed to refortify their system.

Imperial Losses:
Audacious crippled
3 firestorms destroyed

Chaos Losses:
Rheintochter crippled
Skoll crippled
Midgard crippled
Hyrrokin destroyed
3 escort vessels destroyed

Thokk destroys 3 ork Roks.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Necrons invade Blight

While the forces of Chaos main forces were still facing off against the Imperial threat, they were unaware of a new force moving against them. The Necrons had already landed on Aganthus in 01.011M42, but their landing on the Chaos world of Blight was the strongest invasion force yet seen.

Accompanied by Necron fleet vessels for the first time the ancient menace quickly gained a foothold on the planet, but before long the armies of Lorek and the covenant of Damnation had responded. Once again the depleted Chaos forces were forced to raise daemon hordes to make up the numbers, and the rather ad hoc formation which met the Necrons on Blight fared rather badly in the initial battles.

The Necrons found that to stand off and shoot the monstrous hordes was an effective tactic, and the loss of two Soulgrinders and a daemon prince at the very start of the engagement didn't help the defenders. The battle, fought over the ruins of a once Imperial settlement saw the chaos hold off the Necrons on their left flank, largely thanks to the high concentration of dedicated followers of Khorne. On their right however, Necron Monoliths and destroyers proved too strong. The battle eventually climaxed when a mighty bloodthirster of Khorne was slain in single combat by a seldom seen C'tan.

By 0902.011M42 the Necrons had nearly a third of the planet under their control, and the inhabitants of the Necron zone soon found themselves herded like cattle onto waiting Necron ships. The rest of the Chaos world prepared for more battles, while Imperial and Tau agents shuddered at the news that a C'tan was abroad in the perseus Deeps.

Space Wolves secure Hellebron

Two days after the attack on Ares the Space Wolves attacked with unparallelled ferocity on Ares, obviously attempting to demonstrate that such raids would bring their enemy nought but destruction. The Wolves attacked the remaining quarter of Hellebron still occupied by Chaos forces, and the Covenant of Damnation troops were quickly overwhelmed. In response the Chaos master of Ares summoned a host of daemons but even the denizens of the warp couldn't halt the Astartes' lightning advance. By 0802.011M42 Hellebron had fallen and the Imperium were marching on the capital.

Lorek raids the Deeps

With the Imperial advance in the Deeps temporarily stalled the Master of Chaos took the opportunity to further retard progress by increasingly turning to hit and run tactics across the region. Lorek's forces and allies had dwindled significantly, and now some chaos outposts in the Deeps had no defenders at all, save for a handful of cultists who could on occasion summon some daemonic help. Help which would often lead to their own demise as well as their enemy's...

on 0302.011M42 the Claws of Lorek sent a small raiding party to Ares on a vessel disguised as a privateer merchentman. The vessel succeeded in circumventing the Imperial fleet stationed there and landed its small specialist force onto the planet. In an orgy of sabotage the Claws small band managed to wreak havoc in the Space Wolf base before escaping unseen back to their transport. The Space Wolf base was heavily damaged and would take two weeks to repair, tying up valuable resources which Veers could have used elsewhere.

The Claws' second raid was less successful however as the Necrons on Cathasaea proved more of a challenge. Difficult to take by surprise the Necrons responded swiftly to the arrival of the small Chaos band and whatever the purpose of the raid, it was not successfully accomplished. So far Lorek's change in strategy had produced mixed results.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Perseus Deeps Campaign suffers setback

As 01.011M42 drew to a close the Imperial crusade in the Perseus Deeps was in a good position. Bastien had been liberated and the new offensive on Ares had got off to a good start, but the council leading the crusade, made up of generals, admirals, space marine company captains, Inquisitors and other senior ranks within the power structures of the Imperium, was about to suffer a setback.

First the offensive on Ares which had been proceeding so well suddenly ground to a halt when the Claws of Lorek raised a host of daemons as the Space Wolves attempted to take the final sections of the city of Hellebron. The daemons inflicted severe casualties and by the end of a two day rampage much of settlement which had previously been in Imperial hands had been reconquered in the name of Chaos.

At the same time news from Alphe, while on the face of it an Imperial success, reached General Veers on Corticant. General Percival reported that the remaining Chaos forces there which had been in stalemate with his armies for over a year had suddenly vanished. Overnight the Alphe campaign had been won and now Percival’s armies were retaking the chaos held sectors, rooting out blasphemy and cleansing the planet of the taint of the chaos gods. This would likely take months.

The withdrawal, presumably via the use of the mysterious chaos “device”, could only mean one thing. The Master of Chaos had decided to reinforce his retreating armies in the Perseus Deeps, happy that the savage destruction wrought on Alphe would keep a significant Imperial force tied up for several months while his forces would feel the full benefit of the redeployment.

With the Ares offensive stalled and intelligence suggesting new forces at Lorek’s disposal, the news of another Dark Eldar raid on Aethor could not have been less welcome. Worse still the Space Wolves took it upon themselves to attack the Lamenters when they arrived on Aethor, an act which infuriated the non space marine members of the crusade council. The Dark Angels and other space marine chapters however refused to criticise the act, and the Space Wolves actions drove a wedge between the Imperial Guard and the Adeptus Astartes which the Inqusition now had to try hard to close.

The unnecessary Space Wolf attack may have led to the Dark Eldar raid, the aliens taking advantage of the confusion on the planet, although once the attack had started the Space Wolves eventually managed to intervene before the xenos raiders did too much damage. The events on Ares however began to overshadow Veers’ crusade and the good work which he had accomplished threatened to come to nothing.

The Claws of Lorek tried to add to Veers’ woes, sending in a small force to raid or sabotage the Imperial base on Aethor, but were detected in good time by the Groznian guard stationed there. More good news was to follow on 2801.011M42, when an attempt to break the Imperial blockade of the Deeps by Admiral Thok’s fleet was foiled by Admiral Cardale on the battleship Vanguard.

Despite struggling initially against a more manouverable enemy, the cruisers of Thok’s fleet were unable to damage the massive battleship, and despite causing damage to the cruisers under Cardale’s command, the chaos fleet were forced to return to Mordecai without forcing a passage to Parthenope, their suspected intention.

Although the Imperial fleet delivered a much needed victory for the crusade, by the beginning of 02.011M42 the continuing advance of the Imperium in the Deeps had come to grinding halt, at least for the moment.