Sunday, August 21, 2011

Necrons resume activity

The Necrons of the Perseus Deeps had been almost inactive since the short Necron-Tau war of 02.011M42, which ended in defeat for the ancient race. For the Necrons however, who had existed for aeons, such a timespan represented less than an eyeblink to mere mortals. And, in 08.011M42 the Necrons appeared in action again. Having already reclaimed almost a third of the chaos world of Blight, the Necrons now appeared on the Tyranid infested world of Enaloth. Whether or not the planet had originally been a Tomb world remains uncertain, but a splinter of Nemesis had infested Enaloth since 010M42, and on 1808.011M42 Necrons and Tyranids engaged each other on the otherwise now uninhabited world.

It is presumed that Nemesis had failed to complete consumption of Enaloth because its main hive fleet was still many light years away in the Zadoc subsector. The hive mind was now readying itself to consume the valuable biomass of that subsector, which consisted of many more nutrient rich systems than the relatively barren Perseus Deeps. In any case, the Tyranids on Enaloth remained relatively isolated from the rest of Nemesis, and the Necrons appeared to take advantage of this, securing a spectacular victory against the bioloical enemy and establishing themselves on the world.

Shortly after the Necrons had resumed their activities in the Deeps, they themselves came under concerted attack on their tomb world of Gamador. In two apparently co-ordinated raids, the Eldar and their dark kin ravaged several Necron tombs, causing massive damage and forcing Necron forces to phase out on two separate occasions. Both forces attack with violent hatred, a pathalogical detestation passed down from generation to generation over countless millenia.

Of most concern to Imperial analysts however was the apparent co-ordination by two forces who many in the Imperium naively considered bitter enemies. If the strange Harlequin led Eldar were prepared to work with the Dark Eldar on this mission, what would it take for them to work together - against the Imperium - on other occasions?

Less than a week later, on 2408.011M42 the Dark Eldar appeared on Corticant once again, catching the Imperial defenders off balance by appearing from an area the Inquisiton of the Ordo Xenos had considered "safe". The Grey Knights were quick to respond, but as ever failed abysmally to counter the alien threat. Inquisitor Hathek then received intelligence that the Dark Eldar had appeared from an almost unknown Eldar webway portal. Perhaps the eldar had "repayed" their dark kin by showing them new ways to raid the lesser races of the Perseus Deeps.

Alphe Invasion

Nemesis Vanguard reaches Alphe

With the loss of the Peraph asteroid base in 07.011M42 Imperial commander General Percival readied his defence of Alphe. Coming only months after the withdrawal of chaos forces from the planet the news that Tyranids were encroaching on the Alphe system came as a bitter blow, and the news was kept secret from the general populace, even from the governor, Albers Torak. Percival had Imperial Guard regiments readied and the PDF re-mobilised under the pretext that chaos forces had still not left the system. A lie, but one which kept the system on a state of alert. Forces from the Salamanders, Lamenters and Blood Martyrs chapters arrived by early 08.011M42, and Percival pursuaded them to make themselves visible to the troops on the ground, thereby increasing morale. The Imperium braced itself for the inevitable onslaught, which then failed to arrive.

For much of 08.011M42 augurs searched the void of space and the warp for indications of the hive fleet arriving en masse, but nothing appeared. Admiral Jellicoe kept his fleet on alert at Caitlen station, but continued his usual fleet duties. Where were the Tyranids? Then, on 1508.011M42 worrying news reached General Percival. Since the 8th, there had been reports of general disorder, rioting and "beast attacks" from the Island settlement of Linshore, which had been devastated in the chaos invasions of 09-10M42. These were shrugged off at first, there were still outbreaks of mutation and even daemonic possession across the world, and the local adeptus arbites forces had become well used to handling such outbreaks, usually brutally.

On 11008.011M42 contact with Linshore was lost, something unremarkable on a world where so much infrastructure had been ravaged by war. However, when contact hadn't been re-established by the 15th, Percival sensed something was wrong. The Salamanders agreed to investigate, landing near the city of Linshore on 1908.011M42. At first they found nothing, then as they investigated the city itself, this very discovery became alarming. The entire population of over one million had disappeared without a trace, and the city, ruined by shelling, had almost disappeared amongst creeping vines and floral overgrowth. Very quickly the Salamanders realised what this meant, and hastily withdrew, signalling to Percival that the tyranids had indeed arrived. Then the monsters appeared.

The Tyranids had arrived on Alphe apparently by stealth, something which was not in keeping with their usual mode of operation. Nemesis, Imperial intelligence realised, was different, employing a breadth of strategy not usually encountered in the extragalactic menace. The Salamanders fought bravely, but the forces of Nemesis had taken the by surprise, cutting their forces off from their Thunderhawks. Within a day, contact was lost with the Astartes company.

The Lamenters immediately declared their intention to rescue their battle brothers from the alien hordes, despite the objections of Percival, who desperately wanted to keep the marines from hot-headed action. He managed to pursaude the Blood Martyrs from throwing in their lot with the Lamenters and began the process of quarantining Redkeep Island. on 2108.011M42 Inquisitor Darell Yintard arrived with instructions from his mentor and overseer, Inquistor Hathek. Yintard was to restart Hathek's investigations into Nemesis while Hathek dealt with the rogue Xanthus in the Perseus Deeps. Meanwhile the Lamenters went ahead with their rescue mission, and met ferocious resistance from the aliens. Few of the battle brother survived the assault, much as Percival had predicted.

Tau forces secure Vallerander

Following the successful if desparate air attacks on the Tau by the Imperial air force, the Imperial garrison was strengthened on the ground by a company of Salamanders. The overall position of the Imperium on the ground was however, pretty dire. The Tau had greater numbers and more equipment, and the destruction of the Librian guard units now left the commander of the theatre with just one Zadocian Guard regiment, a handful of PDF units and a few companies of marines. Tyndareous needed Imperial Guard reinforcement desperately, but that was weeks away, and the Tau new it.

Realising the opportune moment was now, the Tau attacked Vallerander in force, hoping for an easy victory against poorly equipped planetary defence troopers. What the Tau didn't know was that the Salamanders had identified Vallerander as a key strategic position and had moved quietly into position on the night of 1808.011M42. As soon as they attacked, the Tau came up against concerted resistance and began taking losses they did not expect. They were however of the Ksi'm'yen sept, by now the most respected Tau fighting force of the whole Aleph expansion sphere, and their experience and tactical knowledge against Imperial tactics proved invaluable, while the Salamanders, undoubtedly humanity's finest warriors, lacked exposure to Tau fighting methods.

After a bitter struggle lasting more than a day, the Salamanders grudgingly gave up Vallerander and moved off the high ground. There was no sense in losing their entire strength and they had at least inflicted significant casualties on their enemy. The commanders on Tyndareous now wondered how many reserves the Tau had, as their own forces were looking rather thin on the ground.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tyndareous 2008.011M42

War in the Air

On Tyndareous, with the Tyndar Plateau secured, the Tau forces now moved to expand their territorial holding on the Imperial world, to prevent the Imperium from wiping them out with one concerted Space marine strike. Their next target was the remote region known as the Vallerander Heights, and several air drops using Orcas, supported by Baracudas, were drawn up in early 08.011M42.

The initial scouting landings went well, but soon follow up drops were intercepted by Imperial navy fighters based out of Arrenton and Burbeck Bay. The Tau pilots however showed their experience, as many had fought in the Tarsis campaign of 08/09, while many of their Imperial adversaries had never seen combat - certainly not against the Tau. The landings succeeded and the Imperium lost many fighters, and the crucial road intersection of Pardle Junction were secured by 1208.011M42. The Tau now planned to move on the rest of the central high ground to isolate Vallerander.

Frustrated by their losses, Air commodore Stewart requested pilots to be sent planetside from the carrier Intrepid, which had recently arrived in the system along with a number of other Imperial vessels, in order to find the Tau vessels which had initiated the invasion. Captain Dingemans agreed, and after a short orientation course on their new aircraft, the experienced fighter pilots of the Imperial Navy began to make a difference.

on 1708.011M42 the Imperium struck back, assembling a rather ad-hoc force of fighters and bombers to attack the newly constructed Tau base on the Vallerander heights. The Tau air cadre responded with force against the Imperial bombing mission, but this time the Imperial pilots were equal to them, and the Tau lost many Barracudas before breaking off. They did manage to inflict significant damage on the inbound Imperial wing, but the Tau base was heavily damaged. The Tau postponed their plans to take Vallerander. For now the Imperial air force had earned a stay of execution.

At the same time, another Imperial attack was taking place, an ill-conceived plan which saw a small force, including the Mars class battlecruiser Glorious, travel to New Sparta in the Rim Worlds. The Imperium considered the chaos defences of the world to be weak, and New Sparta ripe for the taking. Such a victory would see the crusade started with renewed vigour, and the weakened Catechism could be eradicated. In addition, a base in the Rim worlds would eas pressure on Caitlen Station, and allow more forces to be directed against the Tau in the Mabb nebula.

The first stage of operation Albatross called for the destruction of any chaos air power, though none was actually anticipated. The Imperium could not have been more wrong, The Catechism air forces appeared almost as soon as the Imperial craft entered the atmosphere, and attacked with gleeful abandon. Of the 300 aircraft sent in to defeat the Catechism, only 46 returned, and the operation was called off amid much embarrasment.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Imperium launch assault on Tau Base

The battle of the Tyndar Plateau took place on Tyndareous on 0108.011M42 between the Tau forces which had dug in on the Imperial world, and a hastily formed conglomerate of Imperial troops, which were thrown against their enemy with such speed that the Tau were taken completely by surprise. The Tau found themselves isolated and without air support. The Imperium, under the direction of Inquisitor Lord Xanthus, had managed to secure the support of the Lamenters, the Blood Angels and two regiments of Zadoci Guard, as well as a large amount of Librian equipment. The Librians themselves, who could not be trusted, were interred for the duration of the war on Tyndareous.

Lamenters scouts established the position of the base some days before the battle, skillfully avoiding the alien perimeter patrols, and began planning the attack. The plan called for the Imperial Guard regiments to take the brunt of the Tau firepower, attacking head on towards the main Tau watchtower. Meanwhile the Astartes troops would attack from the flanks, isolating the Tau base from support and ensuring its capture, along with the vital intelligence and important personell the Imperium knew were present.

The attack went as planned, with the Imperial assault soon threatening the inner sanctum of the Tau base. The Lamenters and Blood Angels in particular were murderous, slaughtering all who stood in their way, and hundreds of Kroot and Tau fire warriors died appalling deaths at the hands of the space marines. The Imperial Guard meanwhile suffered badly at the hands of Tau railguns. Tanks were blown apart and the Imperial assault began to stagger.

At the height of the battle the Astartes forces looked like breaking through the Tau defences, and the xenos desperately tried to evacuate their personell before the Imperium overran the base. While calling for air support and significant reinforcement, the Tau commander on the ground knew that only intervention from the Hunter Cadre of the Ksi'm'yen sept could save them from certain disaster. The cadre of the Ksi'm'yen sept, stationed some kilometres away, were one of Shadowstrike's own, and the Tau commander's legendary promotion of rapid deployment and manouvre now came into play. Shadowstrike's forces counter attacked at the height of the battle, and in a desperate attempt to rescue the ethereal who remained in the watchtower with the troops of Fastblade. completely uncaring of casualties, Shas'el Swift Tide lead the rescue attempt and died in the fighting, while Commander Moonshine's forces attempted to stave of a furious assault from the Lamenters on the Tau left. Fastblade's forces too made huge sacrifices, suffering 80% casualties trying to buy time for the evacuation of key personell.

What the Imperium didn't know however, was at the very time they were launching their assault the Tau were already planning their full invasion of Tyndareous. As the outer Tau base fell and the battle raged, fresh troops were being landed by Manta onto the bases' central airfield from the orbiting tau fleet and their arrival, and the threat of aerial attack forced the imperial forces to withdraw.

The Tau had managed for the most part to prevent the Imperium from getting hold of vital intelligence, but at terrible cost. Casualties were horrendous and the sacrifice was immediately hailed and was ranked among the great Tau battles in the sector. The Imperium had inflicted terrible damage on the Tau and learnt some of their motives, but now they found themselves with a determined enemy who now had fresh reinforcements. Xanthus now had a real war on his hands.