Saturday, June 25, 2011

Xanthus bid to coerce Aethor fails

With the loss of Ares to his cause, inquistor Xanthus attempted to sway Aethor to his side during 06.011M42. Aethor lay on the critical Perseus Run warp route, and Xanthus desperately needed a secure supply route from sectors towards the Imperial Hub and his base on Sentinel. Hathek and Huron had made sure he couldn't have Ares, so Aethor would have to do. Xanthus' position was bolstered by the arrival of half a company of Blood Martyrs space marines, but the Inquisitor lord remained marginalised and isolated.

Lords Hathek and Huron hadn't been blind to the move on Aethor, and had made provisions for its defence should Xanthus try anything. So it cam as no surprise when on 1906.011M42 the Grey Knights discovered that a small squad of Blood Martyrs had attempted to force their way into Aethor's main communications array. They had no idea what the purpose of this raid was, but pursued the Blood Martyrs into the wilderness of the world, finding themselves bitterly opposed by the astartes chapter forces. In a brief skirmish the Blood Martyrs lost half their team, but the outnumbered Grey Knights disengaged first, realising they could not afford to lose men at the hands of fellow space marines, and the remaining Blood Martyrs escaped.

Only later did Hathek learn what Xanthus' agents had been up to. Without warning the population of Aethor suddenly found their normal vidcast programmes interrupted by an address from High Priest Garrett Van Buerden, extoling the virtues of the emperor and imploring all to follow His will. Realising this was turning into a propaganda coup for Xanthus, Hathek immediately asked the Grey Knights to shut down the broadcast. No-one outside the council yet knew of Van Buerden's rift with the Crusade and Hathek, and the wrong words now could uncover the rift and start a civil war as the general population of the world, or even the sector, took sides. This had to be stopped.

Unfortunately the communications station was defended by units of the Prozan Cavalry, leading to an unfortunate firefight between the two Imperial forces. The Grey Knights couldn't explain why they had to destroy the communications array, nor could they merely say it was on the orders of Hathek, or suspicions would be raised. The unfortunate Imperial guardsmen were slaughtered and the broadcast stopped before too much had been said, and Inquisitor Hathek "explained" the situation to the planetary governor. Suitably impressed and trusting of the high inquisitor, the world of Aethor pledged its support to Hathek's position and another world was lost to Xanthus' cause.

War on Glossop V

During 06.011M42 the war on Glossop V, under-resourced and neglected by the Imperium, continued. The world wasn't of massive strategic significance and only a few regiments of Imperial Guard held the line between the human colonists, numbering 500,000, and the ever growing green tide of Waagh! Krumpgutz.

Unexpected help did arrive on 1806.011M42 in the form of a handful of Grey Knights units. The Ordo Malleus had a growing interest in the Cerrack Nebula with the recent appearance of chaos forces on Triam and Quim. As the only Imperial held world in the nebula the choice of Glossop V as a base was obvious, and the astartes forces agreed to help the guard defend the world from the orks. To this end the Imperial forces planned and executed several small raids against the ork horde, searching for weaknesses.

The Grey Knights were reasonably successful, establishing the size, disposition and weaponry of the ork forces arraid against the Imperial perimeter, but the Prozan cavalry suffered at the hands of the greenskins. One raiding force found itself completely cut off and surrounded by angry orks, with a desperate airborne rescue only able to extract one or two of the elite commandos. The war on Glossop would continue, largely forgotten by the rest of the sector.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Inquisition war hots up

Although the Inquisition dispute between Hathek, Huron and the council on one side, and Xanthus on the other, had cooled off after the Astartes settled the score on Ares, neither side was content to leave things as they were. Xanthus was now effectively outlawed, cut off from his usual endless resources and only commanding a few regiments of guard and a flotilla of Jellicoe's ships. Xanthus needed to sway more governors and Imperial representatives to his side, and to do that he needed to discredit the other two inquisitor lords.

To this end the Ordo Hereticus inquisitor once again planned to disrupt the Imperial-Tau alliance. Through still loyal agents, Xanthus gave false information to the Grey Knights, suggesting that a daemonic incursion was imminent on the Tau held world of Skera. Unfamiliar with the Tau dispositions in the Perseus Deeps and not bothering to check with the council, the hot headed Astartes immediately set out for the Tau system. Their strike cruisers easily evaded Tau warships and deployed a force of Grey Knights on the planet, close to the suspected daemonic outbreak centre. Unsurprisingly they found nothing, except an angry Tau force who asked why they had been assaulted. Pride quickly got in the way of negotiation and the Grey Knights soon found themselves under attack. After a brief skirmish the Ordo Malleus strike force abandoned its attack and fled the system, but the alliance still held thanks to swift interevention from Inquisitor Hathek once again. The Tau informed him however that he was on his final warning.

Hathek then directed the Grey Knights to Ares, recently retaken by the Imperium but still reporting minor intrusions from the warp. On Ares however the Grey Knights met with a government hostile to their presence, and the recently installed planetary governor refused to allow them to land, The Astartes did anyway, and found the Blood Angels already on the world pursuing their own aims. The Grey Knights demanded that the Blood Angels confirm their alliegance to the Crusade council and declare Xanthus a traitor. When they refused the Grey Knights found themselves in another uneccessary battle, although this time the Blood Angels were forced to withdraw, complaining bitterly that the Knights were exceeding their remit.

Hathek meanwhile began machinations of his own. Realising the governor of Ares was hostile to his faction, the inquisitor resolved to remove him. He reasoned, correctly that the Grey Knights could be easily swayed and used as a tool in his plans. He planted the suspicion that the government of Ares were complicit in the recent daemonic incursions on the world, and planet suitably damning evidence. On cue the Grey Knights declared the governor a heretic and attacked the capital. The ill-equipped 24th Islandlwanfa found themselves in the way and were defeated in short order by the Knights, suffering apalling casualties. The governor, all the time protesting his innocence, was summarily tried and executed under Hathek's supervision. The inquisitor then replaced the entire government with his own sympathisers, cutting another link in Xanthus' supply chain.

Parthenope Secured

General Veers' Crusade in the Perseus Deeps received an unexpected boost from the Blood Angels in late 05.011M2 when they arrived in orbit around Parthenope. Veers met with their commander, and although their quest was unrelated to the cleansing of the planet, the forces of the Astartes agreed to co-ordinate their strikes with an all out offensive planned by Veers to take the Vregal peninsular.

The Blood Angels dropped from orbit on 2905.011M42, landing near Gand and on the Lone Isles. Searching for ancient artefacts it is believed the Blood Angels were successful, but for the Imperial high command the real good news was the destruction of Anticross and Shadow Suns traitor Astartes forces.With the elite soldiers of chaos smashed apart by the fury of the Blood Angel's attacks, the door to Gelanath and Torradi now lay open. Veers assembled his best regiments of Librian Guard and deployed the feared Cerberex mechanised regiment he was keeping in reserve for the final push. The Imperial guard advanced on a narrow front, the tanks of Libria and New Cerberex punching deep behind enemy lines and by 0106.011M42 the remaining chaos forces prepared for their final stand.

Just east of the settlement of Cayal the forces of chaos played their last card, summoning a huge gibbering mass of other-worldly daemons in the path of the advancing troops, aiming to blunt the spearhead and allow the traitor marines units to recover from their defeat at the hands of the Blood Angels, and drive into the flanks of the Imperial advance.

The daemons appeared in a concentrated mass, right in front of the Librian main firepower, and were punished severely. Leman Russ tanks and massed multilaser fire proved devastating to the daemonic host, and the Punisher variant of the Librians' main battle tanks proved particularly adept at blowing apart the warp-beasts.

While the Librian regiments bottled up the daemonic horde, the Cerberex mechanised force managed to drive forward through the chaos lines and deliver a decisive blow. Too late the chaos commanders realised this had left the Cerberex right flank almost undefended, but the forces summoned to exploit this weakness were insufficient to prevent a decisive Imperial victory.

The battle lost, the daemons disappeared back to their blasphemous realm, leaving the Imperium to mop up the final defenders of Parthenope. Thousands of cultists were put to the sword, but few traitor marines were ever discovered, most having used their daemonic pacts to depart from Parthenope when it became clear all was lost.

Veers had another victory and finally secured the Farport region of the Perseus Deeps. Now however the crusade faced a crisis. What now? Where next? The council soon fell into argument. Many suggested redirecting troops to the Cerrack Nebula to respond to the activity there while others were more bullish, recommending an all out attack on Mordecai or Calliden. Some in the military ranks preferred the Rim worlds to be the next focus of the campaign, while others felt it was time to draw a line under the Perseus Deeps crusade. This against the backdrop of simmering discontent within the Inquisition made General Veers far more downcast than a conquerer of worlds had any right to be as 06.011M42 progressed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vastrid Subsector War

During the second half of 05.011M42 and early 06.011M42, small forces in the Cerrack nebula were reinforced, and a general escalation of hostilities began to take place. With the invasion of Glossop V by orks, the Imperium responded by sending two regiments of Prozan Cavalry, but the greenskins of Waagh! Krumpgutz proved a difficult opponent, and the airborne regiments were defeated and forced to retreat. The orks now had the initiative on the world, despite the rather unexpected appearance of eldar aircraft in the world's atmosphere on 0306.011M42.

The Orks intercepted the incomming Eldar Sky Host and a fast moving airborne engagement eventually resulted in the Eldar withdrawing when it became apparent they would be unable to penetrate the swarming ork fightas without suffering heavy casualties. The aim of the raid wasn't apparent to the Imperium, but may have been a reconnaisance mission. The interevention however only seemed to stir up the ork aggression even more than before, perhaps the real intention of the aliens.

Meanwhile newly arrived regiments from the world of Islandlwanda found themselves posted to the supposedly safe world of Hogan's Fall, established as a base by Inquisitor Cicerus in M39. However within weeks of their arrival daemons loyal to Lorek suddenly swarmed out of nowhere and fell upon the guardsmen, who were entirely unprepared to deal with such an attack. Though the Islandlwanda tribesmen fought with zeal and faith, the Imperial line was forced to pull back, allowing chaos to gain an important foothold on the planet.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Dark Angels prevent Warp Rift

With the threat of civil war averted for now and tensions returned to a low simmer, Captain Angelus redeployed his company in support of the invasion of Parthenope. The war was proceeding well. The Librian Guard had advanced deep into the Vregal Peninsula when forward reconnaissance reported a spatial distortion ahead. Conditions on the ground were too risky for mere guardsmen, many of the scouts had already gone insane and needed to be put down. Fearing daemonic incursion Ritchie requested the aid of the Dark Angels.

A task force was immediately dispatched. It was headed by the 4th's Company Chaplian, Azurath El'Ressius, to ensure the mental fortitude and purity of spirit of the expedition. The mechanised column deployed onto the planets surface some distance from the anomaly and advanced cautiously. This caution proved well founded – daemons began pouring out of the warp rift as soon as the task force had visual contact. Rather than the usual tide of lesser daemons Azurath counted not one but five greater daemons and princes of chaos, their bloated forms sustained by the unnatural energies of the portal. The task force opened fire but their weaponry, whilst accurate, seemed powerless against such terrible entities.

Azurath lead his brothers in prayer, calling forth the power of the Emperor to aid them against the dread forces arrayed against them. Lifted by the power of their faith and devotion to the god-emperor of mankind the Dark Angels raced forward, unleashing a torrent of firepower into the colossal daemons. Bolter rounds seemed to glow with a holy radiance and Azurath's Crosius crackled with arcane balefire. In a matter of moments all but one of the mighty daemons fell and scores of lesser minions were slaughtered. Only one dark champion remained and he bellowed his devotion to the blood god Khorne and charged into the Dark Angel's ranks. For a moment the battle hung in the balance as Khorne's champion set about an unholy slaughter, but its rampage was brought to an end when Brother Kaleal of the Ravenwing fearlessly skidded his bike between the daemons legs and hamstrung it with his power fist. The daemon fell.

The Dark Angels had carried the field but the remaining lesser daemons still had to be hunted down. The daemons were cunning and spiteful and it was dark before the last was banished. Many battle brothers lay dead or injured. Chaplain Azurath was heavily wounded in the fighting and Brother Kaleal of the Ravenwing fatally eviscerated by a Blood Letter's blade. His bravery had secured the Dark Angel's victory so his dying body was recovered to be interred in a mighty dreadnought. When the fighting finally ended a Thunderhawk brought down Librarian's Metatron and Bartharion who sealed the warp rift. The battered task force were carried back to the Strike Cruisers orbiting Parthenope.