Sunday, January 27, 2013

Veers establishes Mordecai bridgehead

With Moonface defeated on Corticant General Veers was aware that the Imperium once again had the initiative over the forces of chaos in the Perseus Deeps. Veers hastily assembled a task force of fifteen Guard regiments, led by Librian and Praetorian contingents, and convinced the Imperial Navy to send a battlegroup to the outer reaches of the Mordecai system.

The target was Mordecai Tersius, a sparsely inhabited agri world on the fringe of the Mordecai system, outside the orbit of Mordecai Primaris and Secundus, which boasted formidable defences. The forces of chaos didn't regard Tersius as worth defending, as although it provided much of the systems food, a foothold on the outer world would be easily shifted once its presence were known.

However, with chaos suffering serious defeats the imperial lord General reasoned that he could overcome a counter attack and remain firmly lodged on the agri world. Once the world had fallen, he would use it as a springboard to launch a further invasion of the inner fortified worlds. The Imperial battlegroup arrived in late 01.013M42 and made landfall on the west of the main continent. For two days the imperial forces managed to land without incident, and quickly established a perimeter. Then. on 1801.013M42 the battlefleet in orbit messaged the commander on the ground, informing him of a rapidly approaching fleet of vessels. As per his standing orders, admiral Beattie withdrew his forces to deep space, leaving the guard on the ground to fend for themselves.

True to their battle plan the forces of chaos landed in strength to repulse the imperial invaders. Led by the Iron Warriors, hundreds of thousands of cultists joined the fray, and Lorek added to the chaos host by summoning a force of daemons to use as shock troops. The plan was to pound the imperial front lines, driving a hole in them, linking up with the daemons of Lorek and splitting the invasion in two. The drop site could then be taken, sealing the doom of the imperial foothold.

As the two sides met the battles raged with higher and higher intensity. In the middle of the imperial line the Librian mechanised and armoured regiments were furiously assaulted by the finest elite troops the Iron Warriors could spare, but the traitor marines found the going difficult against so much imperial armour. Unable to cope with the sheer weight of tanks, the chaos assualt began to flounder. It almost turned into a rout when their reinforcement arrived in a piecemeal and unco-ordinated fashion, the chaos terminators notably failing in their mission to destroy the Librian artillery batteries. Facing so much firepower the Iron Warriors were first stopped, then forced to retreat.

This left the daemonic assault to the rear of the imperial lines in extreme peril. Soon after they had materialised the malign warp intelligence behind Lorek's forces knew they were cut off with no hope of rescue. The plan was in disarray but in their fury the daemons attacked anyway. They turned east, assaulting the Praetorian 42nd regiment who had been assigned to guard against such an attack. The fighting was bitter as Lorek's daemons fought tooth and claw to get past the Praetorians and into the rear areas of the imperial defences. However the stoic Praetorians held fast, and they barred the way despite their casualties until finally, three days after the chaos counter-attack had began, the daemons winked out of existance and the offensive fizzled out.

Veers now had his bridgehead on Mordecai Tersius. Now the race was on to reinforce. The imperial general wanted to take the planet quickly, build it up as a base and move the war forward to Mordecai Primaris. The chaos forces, though defeated, now raced to gather reinforcements and hold the imperium on Mordecai Tersius. Even a stalemate would suit their plans. The most difficult part of the campaign for Mordecai now began.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Enceladus Subsector (Perdita)

Catechism raid on Corticant fails

Following ongoing failed attempts to establish any kind of a bridgehead on Mordecai, General Veers knew his plans to take the fight to the enemy would have to be put on hold at least for the time being. Although Veers was now painstakingly readying his massive army, now that Bastien had finally been fully pacified, his logistics train had almost run out. His superior, Thaddeus Roover, was still dealing with the competing demands of Veers in the Deeps and Brooke in the Zadoc subsector, while toying with the idea of a campaign into the Enceladus subsector, now warp conditions had calmed somewhat. This led to insufficient forces all round for the objectives set for Roovers' generals.

By early 013M42 the political situation in the Aleph sector was changing. For many years the sector had had no overall political structure since the death of Cardinal Sheriden and the fall of the Aleph subsector. Since then the subsectors had run themselves and imperial high command had tried to meet the competing demands. On 0101.013M42 the new lord of the Aleph Sector was announced, appointed by the segmentum political hierarchy, who had finally found out the capital of the subsector had been lost. The new Lord Sector Commander would arrive sometime in the middle of 013M42, but little else was known about him or his priorities. Roover assumed that when he got here he would start making decisions about where to concentrate his military efforts. Until then however Roove continued as best he could with the forces at hand, responding reactively to new threats and frustrating Veers, who felt that a renewed push into the Perseus Deeps would wrestle the momentum of events back into imperial hands.

Veers expected an attack from the forces of Chaos following the raids on Mordecai. Lorek, the Iron Warriors and the Catechism had all regained their strength since their appalling defeats of the last few years, and with Moonface reportedly back in action once again, the general knew an attack on one of the Crusade's gains would be likely. On 2001.013M42 it fell on Corticant.

Veers had taken precautions. He knew that the imperial navy couldn't be everywhere at once and that the Catechism had access to the mysterious "device", so an invasion may come with little warning. As it happened it was Moonface himself who led the charge on Corticant, attacking outlying settlements on the imperial world and adding as many as he could to his cultist forces. While a raid, Moonface clearly intended to establish a bridgehead for a later invasion.

Veers' defensive plans meant the 85th Librian mechanised regiment were on hand to respond to the enemy presence, and the chimera borne veterans of the Bastien and Parthenope campaigns set off at first light, backed up by hellhound flame tanks and Leman Russ squadrons. In addition, Veers made sure the navy provided air support for the attack, not risking the loss of another regiment to insufficient air cover.

The tow forces met on the open plains of Corticant near to an oil refinery complex. Moonface split his forces, his mobile bike formations attacking the Librian right wing, while holding a defensive posture behind defence lines on the Librian left. On this wing the Librian armour was deployed, and their heavy shells caused havoc in the enemy ranks, particularly mauling the chaos spawn sent to deal with the armoured threat, especially once the imperial sentinels had outflanked the chaos position.

On the right, unsupported by the rest of his army, Moonface's bikes were quickly annihilated by the imperial strategic reserve of meltagun wielding mechanised infantry and hellhounds. Plasma equipped guardsmen were also deployed, but in a horrific turn of events all turned out to be equipped with a fault batch of plasma cells, the result being the total annihilation of all personell equipped with these unreliable weapons, as they overheated catastrophically.

The imperial air support made its own useful contribution, engaging in dogfights with enemy hellblades, while artillery support was provided by manticore batteries. The Catechism forces were taking a severe pounding from the Librian heavy guns, and Moonface knew he needed to remove them. Late on that day he decided to deploy his obliterators to remove the armoured threat. Unfortunately the gods decided not to favour their champion on this occasion, and the Catechism's entire host of obliterators failed to materialise, lost in the warp. With his reserve gone, Moonface realised the battle was lost, and disappeared without a trace, seconds before a demolisher shell landed where he had stood, obliterating his traitor legion retinue.

Abandonned by their leader, there was little the cultist forces could do, as they were mercilessly hunted down, burned or shelled to death by the Librians. None were allowed to live, and few managed to escape into the hinterlands of the planet. The chaos attack had been repulsed with only moderate casualties, and the threat of a full scale chaos invasion had been lifted, at least for now.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tyranteous war escalates

For weeks the daemonic threat which persisted in the besieged city of Hollydale had been largely bottled up by strong imperial forces holding a perimeter some twenty miles outside the settlement. The inquisition was keen to avoid valuable regiments from getting too close to the taint of the ruinous powers, so the guard duties were mainly carried out by Tyrantean PDF regiments, supported by Librian and Zadocian heavy artillery batteries, which continued to pound the city, day and night.

By 01.013M42, with the Tau invasion in the north confirmed, General Denham held a council of war with the Zadocian, Librian and Tyrantean commanders, as well as the captains of the Blood Angels and Apocalypse Riders Astartes, who had recently joined the imperial forces on the world. The council decided to put an end to the chaos uprising once and for all while simultaneously launching a strong counter attack against the tau in the north. The Astartes would lead the way, breaking both enemy forces and allowing the Guard a simple job of mopping up.

In the north the space marine forces planned their attack meticulously, with the Blood Angels launching an all out assault on the heavily defended Merenda ridge, defended by the forces of commander Moonshine. The snow covered hills provided an ideal vantage point for the tau, and they had constructed formidable fortifications. As the Blood Angels attack developed, Moonshine was forced to request the tau mobile reserve to hold them off, which was the signal for the Apocalypse riders to attack.

The fast moving space marine chapter was ideally suited to the task in hand. So far in the war against the tau the advanced shielding devices fitted to the tau hammerheads had been a serious problem for the imperial guard regiments, so Denham had requested that in their attack the heavy support units be top priority for the genetically enhanced warriors of the emperor. Always happy to accept a challenge the Apocalypse Riders launched themselves into a furious assault, penetrating the tau lines and engaging Shadowstrike's forces at close range. During the encounter the astartes suffered heavy casualties, but their mission was a success. Several hammerheads were left burning wrecks, their distortion fields useless at the close range the space marines chose to fight at. The Riders then withdrew back to imperial defences, but the tau had suffered serious losses. Shadowstrike realised the line he now held was untenable, and began falling back in good order towards the north, eagerly followed by Denham's guard units. The tau invasion of Tyranteous was now looking seriously in doubt.

Meanwhile on Hollyden the Apocalypse Riders prepared for a final showdown with the traitors in the ruins of Hollydale. The imperial guns fell silent as the space marines roared towards the city on their bikes and land speeders, tempting the heretics to show themselves and fight. They were not disappointed. Early in the morning on 1301.013M42 a host of daemons appeared before the space marine force, and soon a vicious and deadly firefight developed, before both sides closed to lethally short range. In the ensuing melee the Apocalypse Riders were forced back by the daemons of Lorek, and it seemed that the expedition to rid the city of the evil which had taken hold there was doomed.

As the shadows lengthened and the number of astartes dwindled as the battle continued, it became apparent that the Riders were doggedly holding on to their objectives. These were the entrances to the sewer network of the settlement, still intact, through which agents of the inquisition had made their way to the centre of the chaos held city. With their ammunition almost spent and half their brothers killed by the daemonic entities, the Apocalypse Riders held on long enough for the inquisition to reach their goal. With an unholy screech the daemons of Hollydale simply vanished, leaving nothing more than a metallic taste to the air. The agents had destroyed whatever icon or object was being used to summon the daemons, and the host had been abruptly ripped from reality and cast back into the warp.

With the daemons gone, the imperial guard were finally allowed to enter the city. The remaining population, generally unarmed, put up little resistance to the invading forces, and were slaughtered wherever they were encountered. The city's population of 50,000 was ruthlessly annihilated, buried in mass graves then the whole city torched. By the end of 2001.013M42 nothing remained of the settlement but rubble.

While the imperial governor Diana Selken took heart at the news from the north, she was merely content with events on Hollyden. She knew the city could not be saved as soon as it became apparent that daemons had been summoned, but even so the news of its destruction brought the governor no joy. Then, on 1701.013M42 terrible news arrived at the capital Jutesburgh. Without warning, new enemy forces had appeared and quickly overwhelmed the defenders at Weybridge Crossing. They were definitely traitor legion in origin, but at the time the true nature of events was poorly understood. All Selken and the imperial general in command knew was that the vital crossing had been lost once more, and dispatched the veteran Librian 11th mechanised regiment to deal with the threat.

The Librians, a full mechanised regiment supported by Leman Russ battle tanks and mobile artillery, moved into position to attack Weybridge from the east. They were granted priority air cover by the Imperial navy, and squadrons of thunderbolts stood ready to intervene if called upon.

The Librians attacked the small settlement directly, but soon found it defended in strength by Death Guard forces. Forced to slow down, the Librians then found themselves under counter attack by elite units of the traitor legion, led by Land Raiders and mutilators, which smashed through the Librian tank units with appalling ease. Hellhound tanks burned out cultists, but the Death Guard themselves proved to be rather tougher, implacably joining the counter attack and advancing on the lead elements of the Librian infantry.

The Librian colonel called for airstrikes, but confusion and poor communications meant that when it did show up the imperial navy was unprepared for the anti aircraft fire put up by the defenders. Several thunderbolts were lost before the navy pulled out of operations over Weybridge, having achieved little. Losing troops and equipment with alarming speed, the Librian colonel ordered a withdrawal, surrendering the town and its vital crossing to the Death Guard. While General Denham ordere reinforcements to the area and wondered how the traitor marines had arrived on the world, the first reports of a new sickness sweeping Hammerton and Jutesburgh began to land on the governor's desk...