Sunday, October 30, 2011

Necron implacable advance

The Necron threat in the perseus Deeps increased in magnitude as 10.011M42 drew to a close with increased activity on two worlds. The first, Blight, a chaos daemonworld once called Sullidaan, saw an upsurge in fighting as Necrons began to advance ever closer to the world's capital on the western hemisphere. The Necrons were determined to retake their old empire, and this world they considered their own, no matter what daemonic entity now claimed it.

The Necrons faced mostly daemonic armies loyal to the faction known as the Covenant of Damnation, but some astartes warbands were also present. After initial gains the Necrons suffered a determined counter attack, buying the forces of Chaos at least time to deal with the threat, but with Chaos on the back-foot on all fronts across the region, losses in men and equipment were hard to replace. Again and again they were forced to rely on daemonic summonings to do their bidding, and these were often risky and capricious, and couldn't hold territory for long. This was made worse as the Necrons advanced, the daemonic grip on Blight loosening with every Necron gain.

While events played out on Blight, the weakened tau colony of Skera soon came under unexpected attack. Only weeks before the Tau had suffered at the hands of Dark Eldar raiders, and were ill-prepared to meet this latest invasion, which came in great strength. Bravely the Tau sacrificed themselves for the greater good, giving ground where they could and attacking ferociously where they could not. However the Tau found the Necrons particularly hard to deal with, noting in horror how the mechanoid race simply withstood firepower which would shatter the advance of other races.

Reading the transcripts of the commander of Skera's call for aid, Commander Shadowstrike realised that the commander with responsibility for the Tau colony world was out of his depth. Shadowstrike immediately dispatched a veteran commander and his hunter cadre to deal with the situation, but when they arrived the situation was dire. The Tau landed their forces amidst scenes of near panic as the colonists of Skera scrambled to get off-world as soon as possible. Advancing straight into battle Shadowstrike's cadre soon found itself on the end of withering firepower from the Necron invaders, and could do no more than delay the inevitable. They held on long enough for the colonists to escape, then enacted a fighting withdrawal, engaging in desperate firefights as the last of the Tau dropships made for orbit. Skera was beyond hope. Which world would be next?

Raids continue in Perseus Deeps

Raids by Eldar and Dark Eldar continued, even intensified in the last week of 10.011M42, as the Vastrid subsector saw a number of small actions involving most factions vying for control of the Cerrack Nebula. A new Kabal, as yet unseen in the Perseus Deeps carried out three separate incursions with mixed results. One against Thrugnik's Orks on Aspaster was unsuccessful, but another, as well as a raid on Chaos held Trian, yielded better results and a healthy tally of captives.

Meanwhile in the Deeps the Lamenters found themselves under attack by the Shattered Silence while investigating the remains of a Necron civilisation on an unimportant world near Corticant. The Shattered Silence did not seem to want captives, so why they attacked the Lamenters remains a mystery, although speculation hints that there was something there the Dark Eldar didn't want the imperium to find.

Never-the-less the Dark Eldar raid was easily beaten of by the Astartes forces and the Kabal withdrew to lick its wounds in the webway, allowing the Lamenters to continue their reconnaissance unmolested.

Later in the month the forces of Chaos found themselves on the wrong end of a raid by the Rillietan on Calliden. This was the first time the Eldar of the Harlequin faction had raided a major Chaos world, and the action was quite unexpected and without apparent motive. Several Chaos installations were destroyed and the Chaos legion guarding them took heavy casualties.

Nemesis reaches end game on Valboris

The slow but unstoppable advance of the Tyranid horde on the Chaos world of Valboris continued in 10.011M42, with the hive mind apparently willing to take its time in digesting its current meal. No new hiveships appeared, but there was no need, as long as they kept pushing the defenders back.

After taking Main Crossing and Mount Silston in the previous month, despite a momentary setback, Nemesis was on the move again in 10.011M42. By the middle of the month reports of Tyranid activity had reached the settlement of Purgatory, and fighting resumed. The Chaos forces deployed all they had against the invader, which in truth wasn't much in terms of men and equipment, but for a time dogged resistance held up the Tyranid advance. It was a forlorn hope however, and by the end of the month half the settlement had been infested.

The defenders of Valboris now faced certain death. Without massive reinforcement from Chaos forces - which were in retreat across the sector - Nemesis would have its prize. But the worshippers of the dark gods refused to go quietly and without a fight, and the doomed struggle on Valboris continued.

Quim taken by Imperium

In the last week of 10.011M42, the Cerberex Guard under General Pollack began preparations for their final assault against the last Chaos stronghold on Quim. The Chaos defenders had only a handful of traitor astartes and fewer than a few thousand cultists, and Pollack was assured of an easy victory.

Unlike other Imperial commanders, Pollack was not so arrogant or dull witted to believe the forces of Chaos would give up the world so easily. Born and raised on Cerberex before its invasion by Moonface and the UFP, Pollack had seen what Chaos could unleash and had been trained to expect the worst from his enemies. He was right.

As his forces advanced the Covenant of Damnation unleashed a daemonic horde against the attackers, but because of his careful attention to detail and deep experience of his enemy, the General's advance was not slowed. Over a thousand guardsmen perished in the Cerberex regiments sent to extinguish the Chaos presence on Quim, but before the month was out, Quim was safely back in Imperial hands, thanks to a well co-ordinated and executed effort from all parts of the mighty Imperium of mankind.

Chaos secure Trian

As Quim fell to the Imperium, the forces of Chaos avoided being wiped out in the Vastrid subsector as they successfully saw off wave after wave of Ork infantry attacks on their base on Trian. The war here had been going on sporadically for months, but in late 10.011M42 the Ork leaders decided to bring the fighting to a conclusion.

Believing the Chaos forces to be fatally weakened the Orks launched an all out attack, throwing in all their reserves and overwhelming the Chaos lines. Forced back the small band of Chaos marines tried desperately to halt the green tide, but just as it seemed the Orks were about to wipe their enemy from the face of the world, the Ork horde broke. Their leaders, or Nobz, had led the charge, but a small band of astartes had stubbornly refused to yield. In addition the Ork shooting was even more woeful than usual, the greenskins too eager to celebrate victory than aiming their shots.

Suddenly realising the Chaos Marines would not break, the Nobz fled, and that was the catalyst for a general collapse in greenskin morale. By 0111.011M42 the orks had fled into the hills or been wiped out, and Trian and its small bases was now back under the control of Chaos, their last foothold in the Vastrid subsector.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Raids spread to Vastrid subsector

In mid to late 10.011M42 the raiding forces of the Aleph sector broadened their scope to the Vastrid subsector, and the Dark Eldar in particular launched a concerted operation on the Ork-Chaos contested world of Trian. Speculation suggests that Commoragh had initiatied a "tournament" or some kind of competition, challenging each Kabal operating in the region to take as many slaves as possible from the war-torn world.

The Shattered Silence Kabal began the operation, launching a small raid against a chaos warband deep behind the front lines. The skirmish resulted in a minor victory for the Dark Eldar, although the Shattered Silence were unable to take any slaves as the stubborn Chaos Marines refused to give up even when utterly surrounded, enabling the forces of Chaos to evacuate non combatant personell - or their own slaves - to areas far from the raiders grasp.

Another Kabal attempted to conduct a small raid against the Ork held portion of the planet, but found the area they chose for their assault guarded by Thrugnik's elite guard. The force was seen off, again with no slaves taken. The Shattered Silence were more successful later on however, taking a great haul of Orks as play-things following a much larger raid on the Ork encampments. They had chosen a softer target, far from Thrugnik's camp, and the Kabal emerged as the winner of the competition of Trian. What happened to the slaves taken in the raids no-one can say.

The Rillietan were also in action on Trian in the same month. Following a minor daemonic uprising in Chaos held territory, the full force of the eldar harlequins was unleashed on daemons loyal to the Covenant of Damnation, who were utterly massacred just before their planned attack on the Orks. Why the eldar intervened, essentially on the Ork side, remains a mystery, as the Rillietan continued to pursue their own and apparently unfathomable objectives across the sector.

Steady gains on Quim

Thanks to the victories of the Adeptus Mechanicus fleet in the Quim system, annihilating the Claws of Lorek and deterring the Catechism from becoming involved, General Pollack was now able to launch his latest offensive on the two Chaos strongholds still left on the ground. Pollack now decided to throw in his reserves, mostly consisting of Cerberex regiments, against his enemy, in an attempt to regain the initiative on the surface of the now battle scarred minor world.

On 1810.011M42 the attack began, Pollack using his superior numbers to attack on the widest front possible, and initial gains were swift. Soon after the attack had started however, the Covenant of Damnation summoned a daemonhost, and the fighting became particularly intense. Having faced such enemies before however, without suffering an inquisition purge thanks to Lord Inquisitor Hathek's personal intervention, the Cerberex regiments were not phased by this turn of events. Relying on superior firepower and support from the Mechanicus fleet now in orbit, the first Chaos bastien was overrun in three days. Casualties were heavy, but the daemonhost was banished back to its other-worldly realm. Now Pollack had just one Chaos stronghold to deal with, and Quim would be his.

Rillietan raid Tau on Tyndareous

The war on Tyndareous, which had fallen into sporadic fighting during 10.011M42, took a bizarre twist on 2110.011M42, when the main Tau base between Cranburg and Vallerander, came under unexpected attack from the Rillietan faction of the eldar.

Led by the avatar of the laughing god, backed up by eldar skimmer vehicles, the Rillietan appeared from nowehere and moved swiftly towards the Tau positions. They had already done significant damage to the Tau installation before the Tau responded, and when Fastblades Cadre deployed to counter the eldar attackers, the situation didn't really improve.

Despite the Tau being armed with broadsides and plenty of Hammerhead gunships, the Tau faired badly against their enemy. Eldar Fire Prisms took their toll on the broadsides, and inaccurate railgun fire didn't help. Fastblade was forced to give ground, allowing the Eldar to sabotage more of their equipment, and a last ditch effort by deep striking crisis suits was little more than a disaster. The leader of the Cadre, inexperienced at dropping from Orca, missed his drop zone by a wide margin, and then proceeded to fire wildly at the Eldar, doing little damage. He then fled the harlequins who attempted to engage him and his bodyguard in close combat, before being obliterated by the Eldar farseer himself.

The Tau now had nothing left to throw at the Eldar and were forced to abandon much of their base and withdraw to the safety of the inner compound. After several hours of wanton and apparently meaningless destruction, the Rillietan withdrew, leaving the Tau baffled as to the purpose of the attack. Why would they interfere on the side of the Imperium, and why were they interfering at all? The questions remained unanswerable, and Shadowstrike was urged to return to re-organise the Tau war on Tyndareous, which was fast becoming a fiasco.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Raiding Dark Eldar and Necrons plague Empire builders

With Imperial resources slowly being swung into action against the increasing threat of Nemesis, and the downsizing of the Imperial crusade against chaos, an area missed by the Imperial planners appeared to be defence against raiders. Already Veers' forces in the Deeps had suffered numerous dark eldar raids, and on 1810.011M42 the Rillietan, most mysterious of all eldar, once again came for Corticant.

This time the target was the Space Wolves, who took significant casualties but were able to avoid defeat and prevent the dark eldar from getting past their defensive perimeter. Their losses were heavy however, and among non-astartes forces morale continued to steadily drop. Questions were asked more and more about the security of Imperial bases, as the raiders seemed to appear with no warning and disappeared just as quickly.

Meanwhile the Necrons were making steady progress on Zog, defeating the Red Angels to claim more than half of the settlements on the small, but strategically important world. As Zog fell ever more under the thrall of the ancient race, Thrugnik was having more success against the Necrons in the Vastrid sector. On 2110.011M42 a force of Necrons appeared on Aspaster, but Thrugniks massive army was preparing for invasion of new worlds, and easily crushed the alien incursion. This action whipped the Orks into a frenzy and very soon it became obvious that the green tide, so recently cleared from Glossop V and ???, would likely soon be making a return...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Claws of Lorek annihilated in space above Quim

The Claws of Lorek, not content with their victories on Quim, moved to consolidate their hold upon the planet by dispatching substantial raiding fleets to secure the resource rich planets in the inner system. A battlegroup of seven cruisers led by the Acheron class Messiah of Pain was deployed to clear the meager planetary defenses under the cover of a particularly violent solar storm. Able to approach undetected they unexpectedly stumbled upon the Adeptus Mechanicus battleship Magos Vaspasian and her attendant cruiser escort, dispatched to the sector to test a newly found STC archeotech flare shield. The Chaos fleet rushed the Mechanicus, trying to capitalize on their surprise appearance, but were unprepared for the ferocity of the solar storm.

Radiation waves wracked the Chaos fleet, and tentacles of photospheric matter grasped the heavily ionized hulls of cruisers, disrupting communications and torturing the corrupted machine spirits. The Claw’s battlegroup was thrown into disarray and flew into a salvo of nova cannon fire, immediately losing a significant portion of their carrier strength, as the carriers Defiler and Fury of Chaos were crippled. Unable to communicate with his fleet, and prevented from ordering a general disengage, the Warmaster proceeded with the assault forcing his fleet forward into the waiting Mechanicus battlecruisers. The Mechanicus capitalized on this disarray and swept into the chaos formation. The Magos Vaspasian led the wedge into the center of the chaos fleet, magazines and lances blazing as her augmented weapons found their mark on chaos cruisers at her broadsides. Assault craft bays, engines and power relays were shattered in the initial assault before the chaos crews had properly braced them for battle. Following the lead of the battleship, the Mechanicus cruisers Esto Perpetua and Scienta drove straight into the crippled chaos cruisers expending ordnance, lance energy and batteries at a prodigious rate and taking full advantage of the enemy’s inability to react to the rapidly deteriorating tactical situation.

Haloed by the titanic solar emmissions from the Querros Star, the chaos fleet was unable to disengage and was rapidly dismantled by the radiation hardened Mechanicus cruisers. The Heavy cruiser Messiah of Pain managed to effect her escape using the rapidly expanding debris cloud left of her sister ships, but left the rest of the chaos fleet hulked and waiting for the Mechanicus ships, eager to explore the lost archeotech bounty left for them. The Chaos fleet faced a painful butcher’s bill as the cruisers Iron Juggernaut, The Defiler, Fury of Chaos, Prince of Murder, Harbinger of Pain, Black Wolf were lost to the Mechanicus salvage teams and towed for refit, for little battle damage on the part of the Mechanicus fleet.

The planet Quim was soon to be assaulted again however, as the Catechism fleet engaged the Adeptus Mechanicus on what was to be a far fairer field of battle. The Chaos Fleet was led by a Desolator class Battleship and was much better gunned than the previous raider fleet the Adeptus had faced. Two Acheron class heavy cruisers were escorted by two carnage class, whilst two devastation class carriers provided strike craft support to the battlegroup.

The body of the Adeptus Mechanicus fleet concealed their advance under the cover of a dense asteroid field whilst the cruisers Valente Deo and Gothic class Potentia drew the attention of the chaos fleet with Nova cannon fire at a stand off range, scoring a lucky hit on a devestation class and nearly crippling the chaos cruiser. The chaos warmaster was forced to close quickly with the cruisers to negate their range advantage, but left his fleet strung out with an opening for the Magos Vaspasian, Esto Perpetua and Scienta to drive through his center, unloading both broadsides into the staggered elements of the fleet. The Desolator launched a crippling salvo of torpedoes into the armoured prow of the dictator class Valente Deo, whose uprated turrets were unable to cope with the onslaught, collapsing her shields and forcing the cruiser to hide in the center of the Mechanicus Formation, where she managed to cripple another Catechism heavy cruiser with a lucky Nova Cannon shot before disengaging.

The Gothic class Potentia fared no better as a tentative shot from the devastation class vessel crippled the cruiser and inactivated her nova cannon. Potentia was forced to disengage as were three Chaos vessels, a devastation, acheron and carnage class, whilst the remaining chaos vessels focused fire on the Scienta and crippled her drives.

The Magos Vaspasian used her monstrous broadsides to cripple the leading desolator and another Acheron class vessel resulting in both the Acheron and the Scienta disengaging; leaving the Catechism fleet with an undamaged carrier, crippled battleship and a carnage limping its way around the system. The engagement devolved into a slugfest as the Esto Perpetua disengaged undamaged and left the heavier armoured and gunned Retribution class Magos Vaspasian to chase off the remnants of the chaos fleet.

Red Angels carry out punitive raid for Xanthus

Following the raid on the Drk Angels by the Space Wolves in early 10.011M42, Inquisitor Xanthus was keen to uncover the slightest hint of heresy or treason within the ranks of Erik Morkai's company. To do this he employed the Red Angels, who were loyal Astartes and had fortunately had little contact with Inquistor Hathek in the preceding months. Citing possible heresy and deviation from the Codex Astartes, the Inquisitor Lord eventually managed to convince a very skeptical captain of the Red Angels to conduct a reconaissance against the Space Wolves on Hogan's Fall.

The Red Angels arrived on 1910.011 and began their investigation. However on the 21st they were discovered and forced to retreat from the Space Wolves' base. Suspecting enemies, and having had no communication with the intruders, the Space Wolves sent out a military force to track them down. Due to lack of communication and pride, ince again two Astartes forces clashed, with the Red Angels coming off much worse in the short engagement. After evacuating the Red Angels reported back no issues with the Space Wolves, and their skepticism quickly became cynicism. They did however blame the Space Wolves for opening the engagement, and enmity persisted between the two marine chapters for some time.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Vastrid Subsector: Orks beaten on Glossop but defeat on Quim

The war in the Vastrid subsector continued on in 10.011M42, for most a distant war in the far flung reaches of the Cerrack Nebula on worlds of little importance. Few of the teeming billions of the Imperium were aware of the war, and even the major worlds close to the war-torn region were generally unconcerned by the ongoing fighting.

Overall command for the Cerrack Nebula fell to General Pollack, a subordinate to the military commander of all forces in the Vastrid subsector, Lord Commander Foche. This status was equivalent, in principle, to a garrison commander of a major imperial world, but the resources at Pollack's disposal remained meagre. However in 10.011M42 another company of Space Marines arrived, this time from the Blood Angels chapter, and their presence was immediately felt as they took the fight to the Orks on Glossop V. Leaderless and unco-ordinated, the remaining orks on Glossop were savagely dealt with, and within days of their arrival the Blood Angels had brought an end to the campaign on the minor world. Now Pollack needed to build up its defences in case of retaliatory attack from the nearby orks on Aspaster.

On Quim however the Claws of Lorek launched a major new offensive, determined to secure a permanent and uncontested base of operations in the Vastrid subsector. Lorek's two pronged attack came up against the Blood Angels in the south, while in the north Lorek's larger force ran into the Space Wolves of Erik Morkai, who had just redeployed from Glossop. In a savage battle the Space Wolves held their positions tenaciously, and the forces of Chaos found it impossible to secure their objectives. Further south however the Imperial line broke after the Blood Angels were defeated and forced to retreat. Both Astartes forces and a few thousand Imperial Guardsmen now held a small scrap of land on the world. Pollack now scrambled to move his resources from Glossop V to Quim to prevent a total defeat there, hoping that the Claws of Lorek fleet would not arrive in force.

Perseus Deeps: Dark Eldar and Necron Menace grows

The ancient races of the galaxy continued to plague the Imperium in 10.011M42, and each other, as it became increasingly clear to General Veers, leader of the Perseus Deeps campaign, that just holding on to his recent gains would be a challenge, let alone push further into the great dark and largely unknown void of the region. In early 10.011M42 further Dark Eldar raids plagued Imperial possessions on Corticant, while the Dark Angels, based on Sentinel, were inexplicably attacked without warning by the mysterious harlequin led eldar of the Rillietann. The eldar did significant damage to installations on Sentinel, but Inquisitor Xanthus believed he had discovered the meaning behind the alien attack. The eldar had been looking for something which apparently he possessed, a suspicion further enhanced by the strange data crystal left behind, apparently by mistake, by the aliens. It would take Xanthus weeks to decode the xenos information, but then he would have his answer.

Meanwhile the Necrons were pushing the Imperium back on Zog. The Dark Angels were called in by a panicked Imperial commander, whose Imperial guard were woefully ill-equipped to deal with the skeletal warriors. The Astartes arrived soon after, since Zog was just a few days travel from Sentinel. However their attack was abortive and the Necrons continued their implacable advance across the world which was once theirs.

It wasn't only Inquisitor Xanthus that came under alien attack either. Uncaring of the petty internal Imperial squabbles, the Dark Eldar launched another raid on Inquisitor Hathek's base of Corticant on 0810.011M42, and although the Space Wolves attempted to intervene the Dark Eldar managed to hold them off long enough to complete their slave raid, capturing a significant proportion of the inhabitants of Shadowshore and Lochford. Fearful, the population of Corticant began to move to the well protected cities, adding a refugee problem to Veers' already faltering crusade. Even with a fleet of ten capital ships and millions of men under arms, Veers appeared powerless to defend even his own base.

On Gamador meanwhile, the aeons old war between eldar and necrons continued, with a successful raid by the Shattered Silence Kabal on the necron tomb world of Gamador. Whether this second raid in as many weeks was a deliberate act of war on the necrons or an act of internal one-upmanship remains unknown.

Inquisition War: Dark Angels sent in against Space Wolves

After weeks of quiescence the Inquisitorial dispute between Xanthus & Hathek flared once again in 10.011M42, culinating in an unfortunate engagement between the Space Wolves and Dark Angels. Hathek had been concentrating on shoring up the Perseus Deeps crusade, while Xanthus was now deeply mired in the campaign on Tyndareous. He had his war with the Tau and it wasn't going all that well. Even so, the Tau-Imperial truce held in the Perseus Deeps, and wider conflagoration of the kind Xanthus was looking for, failed to materialise.

Lacking Inquisitor Lord Hathek's significant naval and Imperial Guard resources, Xanthus was always looking for ways to improve his situation. He still coveted the mysterious Catechism "device", called the "soul hole" by Moonface's demented followers, after his close encounter with it in 007M42 on Myrentas II. For months he had been gathering information on the device, and seeking the components which, he hoped, would allow him to construct one of his own.

Few knew what the Inquisitor Lord was up to. Many, including the Adeptus Mechanicus, would consider his "work" heresy, and Hathek considered such investigations as extremely dangerous and another reason Xanthus needed removing from the Inquisition in general. In 10.011M42 Hathek received word that Xanthus was building a heretical device, and asked the Space Wolves to investigate. They agreed and deployed a force to Sentinel, Xanthus' base. Sentinel was however also the main base of the Dark Angels, and when the Space Wolves arrived they were not welcomed. The Dark Angels considered the investigation of an Inquisitor Lord as inappropriate and an unlawful operation to carry out, even if another inquisitor lord had requested it. In addition, the Dark Angels considered Hathek a traitor for entreating with Aliens.

Pride and suspicion then ensured combat followed. The Space Wolves attacked the Dark Angels and, after putting up a determined resistance, gave way to their fellow Astartes. The Space Wolves found nothing however, as the delay had allowed Xanthus to flee the world. Hathek bitterly regretted his request. Now Xanthus was missing, somewhere aboard his Inquisition vessel in the depths of the void, and two space marine chapters had again come to blows, though neither actually sustained any fatalities. The Dark Angels and Space Wolves managed to reconcile their differences following a martial tournament of arms, and both now became extremely cynical of the behaviour of both Inquisitors. Even the actions of the third Inquisitor Lord in the sector, Huron, was now viewed with skepticism.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Nemesis tighten grip on Valboris

On Valboris the Tyranid infestation had long been lethargic, expanding its control of the planet only sporadically to exploit weaknesses discovered in the Chaos battle lines. A series of co-ordinated attacks had repulsed the Tyranids from Mount Silston and cleansed much of Batertown. When there was no reprisal the defenders began to speculate that the infestation on Valboris had already reached its zenith, that exhausted and expended the threat posed by this tendril of Hive Fleet Nemesis was finally over.

Such hopes proved false. Without warning the Tyranids on Valboris suddenly went into full offensive. Swarms of bio-killers flowed out of the central Appolooso Mountains in unending waves to crash into the prepared positions of the Chaos defenders. The fighting was fiercest in Batertown, where determined not to give up their hard won gains Traitor Marines of the Claws of Lorek dismounted from their transports to entrench themselves in the still smoking ruins of the city.

The fighting was bloody and brief. The forward positions of the Claws of Lorek barely had time to realise they were under attack before swarms of gargoyles lead by a massive winged Tyrant landed amongst their positions. The fire support they had been expecting failed to materialise, their covering Havock teams suddenly assailed from behind by genestealers. These were repulsed with minimal casualties but it was already too late. Despite a desperate counter attack that slaughtered many of the aliens the Chaos defences collapsed completely and the Tyranids began rampaging through the Claws of Lorek's positions.

Soon the reason for the sudden Tyranid onslaught became apparent. Fresh from completing its consumption of Betor a large Hive fleet had appeared in the Valboris system. As they took up positions in orbit millions of Tyranid spores began to rain down on Valboris, blanketing the western continent. What had begun as an orderly retreat became a route. The highly mobile and well equipped traitor marines loyal to Lorek managed to escape into the east but thousands of cultists were cut off and slaughtered as the skies turned black. Batertown fell first, then Mount Silston and Main Crossing. With a space of a day all of western Valboris lay under the control of the Hive Mind. The situation looked grim for Valboris' defenders, but all was not yet lost. One of the Hive Ships had been crippled in a space battle in the system's outer reaches and the orbital blockade of the planet was incomplete. Re-enforcements could yet arrive from off world.

Tyndareous: Imperial offensive continues

Only a week after the Space Wolves had regained the initiative on Tyndareous, the Cerberex Gaurd, Inquisitor Xanthus' elite loyal force, were sent in to make good the gains won by the Astartes forces.

The difficulties in maintaining the level of equipment supplied to the Cerberex regiments following their exile from their homeworld had by now become apparent. Losses in the field meant that the organisation's use of Vendettas and heavy tanks was now restricted to a few veteran regiments, while the rest made do with whatever could be scavenged from the scant resources Xanthus could put their way.

This fact saw the division which went into the Ranier Pass equipped with a host of equipment. While the regiment could still call upon heavy tank support and the use of flame tanks, cavalry were also employed, and most men, unlike in other Cerberex formations, went into battle on foot. Despite this the initial attack by the Cerberex men caught the Tau off guard, and succeeded in destroying a number of the defenders' infantry carrying skimmers, thanks in part to a very well placed initial artillery bombardment.

The Tau then put up a stiff defence, destroying the enemy tanks with accurate railgun fire, and using crisis suits to deep strike behind the enemy positions. At one point it looked like the attack had been beaten off, but the Cerberex Guard continued their offensive without pause until late on 0210.011M42 the pressure finally told and the Tau line broke. This was mainly due to the massive casualties sustained in the centre of their line and the Imperium had their victory, if the end result flattered a little.

The Tau were barely able to scramble back to defensible positions in the mountains, and their hold on the western portion of the Tyndareous starport and military base became untenable. Now the Imperium and Inquisitor Xanthus had the upper hand. One more concerted push would see the Tau assault on Tyndareous end in defeat.

Raiders extend reach

In early 10.011M42, following the raid by the Shattered Silence, more Dark Eldar raids followed, and this time they were reported much further afield, as far as the Vastrid subsector as political intruiging and the desire for power in Commorragh drove the amoral aliens to ever more frequent assaults.

The Shattered Silence Cabal led the assaults, attacking Ork settlements in the Cerrack nebula, who were woefully unprepared for the sudden and lethal attacks launched from the webway. Following these successful raids, and apparently not wishing to be outdone, another Cabal launched its own series of raids, one of which resulted in an unfortunate encounter with the Necrons on Gamador. Unfortunate for the necrons that is, whose force was forced to retire after receiving a heavy mauling from the Dark Eldar.

Meanwhile the Claws of Lorek found themselves under concerted attack from the strange and capricious Rillietann eldar or "harlequins", who themselves appeared to bear some resemblance, or were using the equipment of the dark kin of the eldar.

The eldar attack was initially held, but the Rillietann quickly regained the upper hand in the raid on Blight, and by 0710.011M42 the unusually sustained eldar attack forced Lorek's forces to abandon several settlements to their fate. A week later they were able to return, the Rillietann having vanished as quickly as they had come. Three settlements were now completely devoid of their population, and an important library on Blight, containing thousands of arcane books, had been completely stripped of its contents.