Tuesday, April 30, 2013

War in the Perseus Deeps

In the Perseus Deeps during late 04.013M42 the Necrons continued to make gains, while the forces of chaos suffered an unexpected blow in the Mordecai system. On Corticant, General Veers was denied permission to leave the planet and ordered to take "all necessary steps" by his superior in order to prevent the Imperial base from falling to the necrons.Heavy fighting continued between the imperial guard, Red Angels and the necrons in Lochford, and a narrow strip of imperial controlled road kept open supplies flowing to the two regiments of guard cut off from the rest of Veers' forces in Violetwind coast.

In order to relieve this deadlock, general Veers used his influence to pursuade the Blood Angels and Dark Angels, who had for some time based their operations in the Deeps at Corticant, to intervene. A combined strike force attacked the necron forces at Bymarsh with the intention of sabotaging necron operations further east, thus giving the defenders of Lochford a chance to fight back.

The raid itself was conducted by a force of company strength with representatives from both chapters. Working well together, initially the necron invaders were sent reeling from the shock of the astartes assault. Unfortunately, the space marines were unable to hold onto this advantage, and then at a critical juncture were forced to abandon the mission and embark for more important duties elsewhere. The necrons, although shaken by the lightning raid, recovered and by the end of 04.013M42 had secured the rest of Lochford, trapping the Corellian Storm Guard regiment and the Librian 42nd regiment at Violetwind Coast. Veers was furious and lost faith with the space marine chapters after the incident, which permanently soured relations between the two chapters and the veteran general.

Meanwhile at Mordecai, the forces of chaos suffered an awful shock when a vast host of eldar turned up on Mordecai Tersius, which had only recently been evacuated by the imperium. Using their knowledge of the ancient webway, the eldar warhost ripped into hastily prepared defences on the chaos world, which had seen its garrison forces much reduced since the imperial evacuation.

The main battle came at Slaydon, as the eldar had poured out of the Vaylin mountains from their secluded webway portal, and quickly beseiged the town. A significant response was sent by the local garrison commander, and a battle involving mighty war engines and several eldar titans took place in the middle of the city itself. After several hours of bitter fighting the chaos forces were soundly defeated, and the eldar swept into the city before driving west to threaten the already wartorn region of Skrime.

Chaos in retreat on Tyranteous

As 04.013M42 drew to a close, the mobile warfare continued on Tyranteous with movement on key fronts and action on land, in the air and in space.

The Imperium were heartened by the relatively successful Operation Sledgehammer, and continued to press their advantage against chaos gained from recent victories in the western sector of the front line. Having pushed the traitor forces back to Weybridge Crossing, general Mikell Denham looked at possibilities to immediately launch an assault on the settlement, but his subordinate commanders were less than enthusiastic. Weybridge crossing had been considerably fortified and a direct assault on the settlement could lead to losses the imperium could ill afford, and hand the initiative to the tau.

The space marines operating in the Zadoc subsector offered assistance. The dark angels and blood angels, having split their forces into small battle units across the sector, were working more and more together as a combined astartes force, and now offered to launch a punitive strike on Weybridge. Their targets would be fortifications, military installations and anything of potential value to the traitor forces, which would make a subsequent follow up attack much less bloody. General Denham accepted the offer and a few days later an elite strike force of humanity's super human warriors launched themselves against the chaos defences.

Initially the chaos forces were sent reeling by the ferocity of the imperial raid, leading to the forces defending Weybridge to implore their dark gods to help. Their patrons answered, and soon the space marine force found itself facing a dread daemon host. However, unlike previous encounters with the daemonic legions allied to the arch-traitor Lorek, this time the warp connection to reality seemed unstable, with the daemons flickering in and out of focus, their powers diminished.

Even so the force arrayed against the dark angels and blood angels was still potent, but gradually the loyalist marines gained the upper hand, before finally crushing the daemon host. Eventually Lorek's forces managed to redeploy their conventional forces from Hollyden, but by then the small astartes force had long gone, leaving a mass of destruction in their wake.

General Denham now knew the forces on his left flank to be weak. Unable to break out and launch an offensive of their own and liable to fold if attacked. He now had the luxury of deciding on his axis of attack before launching his next major offensive.

Seeking to redress the balance of power on Tyranteous, which was now rapidly shifting against him, Lorek conceived a new bold plan. Having secured the support of Admiral Tragean, he now knew that a force of six capital ships had succesfully transitted the warp from the Perseus Deeps, arriving in the Zadoc system far sooner than Jellicoe's battlegroup thanks to some help from the gods themselves. Tragean was entrusted with completing the takeover, or destruction of the tau base on Tyranteous moon, where Kor'O Pureheart was keeping the bulk of the tau fleet assigned to the invasion.

On 2804.013M42 Tragean's forces, led by the desolator class battleship Irredeemable Apostate, were able to shield their energy emissions behind an asteroid belt, allowing them to take their enemy by surprise. The two protector class vessels on picket duty that day, Sentinel and Salvation, were suddenly fired on by the bulk of the chaos fleet emerging from the darkness directly astern of them, while the rest of the tau fleet hung in high orbit above the planetoid of Tyranteous Moon. Very quickly Tragean capitalised on his surprise, crippling Sentinel and leaving Salvation a battered, powerless and drifting hulk.

Kor'O Pureheart scrambled to get the rest of his fleet alert and responding to the threat, and most vessels came on line rapidly, pushing themselves away from the approaching chaos vessels and using the moon to slingshot back to face the enemy threat. The two carriers Deliverance and Liberator were soon launching all Mantas they had to harry the chaos fleet until the tau could bring their guns to bear. The custodians took far longer to get in formation and join the fight, but the smaller Wardens were soon advancing on the chaos fleet launching volleys of torpedoes.

The rest of the battle was dominated by the superior tau technology. Despite some glitches, the mantas and torpedoes performed well, and soon both the slaughter class cruisers Reaver and Doomblade were crippled and burning. Their captains tried to disengage but their heat signatures were all to easy for the tau scanners to detect, and soon both ships had been wrecked. The hades class battlecruiser also suffered and was forced to disengage, the tau pilots and gunners aboard the larger vessels deliberately targeting the command decks of the chaos vessels with devastating results.

No fewer than three of Tragaen's cruisers had their command structures decapitated in this way, and this cost the chaos admiral dearly. With his vessels leaderless they were unable to make their escape and by the end of the battle he had lost three of his capital ships and had another two severely damaged. As the tau battleships came around the Tyranteous Moon and faced the remaining chaos vessels head on, the admiral disengaged the remainder of the fleet, leaving the tau to lick their wounds and complete the cleansing of their base on the planet below.

Lorek was unaware of the defeat of his ally in the Tyranteous system when he simultaneously launched the next part of his plan. On the planet's surface itself he knew he was too weak to launch an offensive against both the imperium and the tau at the same time, so he planned accordingly. In the north he would take ground off the tau and threaten their base, while the imperium would also suffer a devastating raid, this time on the Fallowvale oile refinery far from the front lines. With a fuel shortage, General Denham would have difficultly making good on the initiative he had so recently been handed by the astartes.

Both strands of Lorek's plans unravelled before him. His hand picked small squad of elite traitor marines, supported by a small host of summoned daemons, failed abysmally in their raid in the south. The imperium had been sensible enough to guard their vital military installations appropriately, and the alarm was soon raised. A single squad of veteran guardsman, helped by two sentinel walkers were easily able to fend off the chaos raid, catching their enemy unprepared out in the open.

In the north Lorek's forces once again summoned a host of daemons to defeat their enemy, but the tau fought hard and with tenacity. Mid way through the battle commander whitefire was given the news from Shadowstrike that Pureheart had defeated chaos in space and those hunter cadres fighting chaos forces on Tyranteous Moon would soon be able to join the tau army on the planet itself. Having access to this knowledge, which Lorek did not, Whitefire was able to pin his enemy down before committing his reserves to outflank then envelope his foe.

Lorek had not accounted for the tau being able to commit their reserves, and his position in the north became untenable. The daemonic host was banished, and the rest of the traitor army was soon in full retreat, with the victorious tau making their lives a misery as they surrendered much of North Vale, leaving the settlement of Hammerton surrounded and cut off.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

War on Zoggot

Da Verminator was unable to halt the progress of the forces of chaos by himself ont he minor world of Zoggot. The ork warboss found his forces stretched to thinly, and was forced to ask for help in ridding Zoggot of the Catechism invasion. Asking for help is never easy for an ork, but Da Verminator "sold" the idea to his fellow ork warlords by advertising "da best fightin in da sekta" and that the other orks would miss out if they didn't join in.

Only Uzfang responded with anything more than derision. Na'Porkleon was brooding in his forts on Hylas, waiting for his forces to be built up for his next big strike, while Krumpgutz and Snazzgubbins had clearly wandered off elsewhere. Uzfang didn't believe the advertised scrap to be all it was cracked up to be, nor did the ork warlord have any interest in the Enceladus subsector, at least not now. However, Warboss Hawkfoot was becoming annoying so Uzfang was more than happy to let his underling go on an adventure far away from the real glory. Hawkfoot set off in mid 03.013M42 and arrived in late 04.013M42. His forces immediately deployed as requested by Da Verminator, ready to face the massed Imperial guard and traitor marine forces of the Catechism.

Unfortunately for the orks, the Catechism did not attack. Instead the greenskins found that Moonface had secured the support of a number of powerful daemon princes of the empyrean itself, and now these led a horde of warp spawned entities against the enemies of Moonface, starting with the recently arrived Hawkfoot. Uzfang's lieutenant soon began to regret his decision to join in the "adventure" on Zoggot, as his army was systematically annihilated by the daemonic host. The orks struggled to find an answer to the forces of the warp, who tore the greenskins, particularly Hawkfoots elite biker formations, limb from limb in an orgy of violence.

After several days of seriously one-sided combat, Hawkfoot abandonned Da Verminator, and the rest of his army, and hot footed it as quickly as possible back to the Zadoc subsector, where he would be greeted by an irate Uzfang. Meanwhile Da Verminator found his forces surrounded in the settlement which passed for the ork capital. The daemons dissipated, but the greenskins were now penned in by the conventional forces of chaos. Zoggot looked almost certain to fall within weeks.

Tyranteous: Imperium almost make breakthrough

General Denham came under increasing pressure as 04.013M42 went on from his immediate superior General Brooke. Brooke, responsible for what was left of the imperial sector, knew that if the tau advance was not checked, it would gain its own inevitable momentum and lead to another Melberg or Tarsis Major. Tyranteous must not be lost. Denham complained at lack of troops but with the tau fleet in orbit around Tyranteous Minoris it was difficult to see how he could be reinforced before Jellicoe's fleet removed the threat, and the battlegroup was still in transit.

Fortunately the imperium could already call on Tyrantean and Zadocian PDF, who while ill equipped proved to be tenacious in the defence of their homelands, but more importantly the front Line Librian and Corellian regiments had been augmented by the arrival of the Blood Martyrs and a small contingent of Grey Knights. The daemon hunting astartes were led by an inquisitor, who immediately consulted with General Denham. After a discussion, the Corellians were moved to the left wing of the North Landing front, and prepared to launch the first phase of Operation Sledgehammer.

The unimaginatively named operation was designed to push back both the forces of chaos and those of the tau empire, in order to gain time for the imperial fleet to break the stranglehold the tau now had over reinforcements. In the east the Corellians objective was to cut off the chaos held settlement of Weybridge crossing, while pushing north to threaten the major city of North Vale. In the east the Librian and Corellian forces would push on a broad front against the tau, in an attempt to relieve Hammerton and potentially surround Fallenvale on three sides. The Corellians were assigned the coastal sector, while the Librians and the Blood Martyrs faced the main van of tau forces.

In the west the attack north against chaos proceeded well. By 2204.013M42 the Corellians had broken through the chaos lines and were moving swiftly on their objectives. Lorek attempted to summon a daemonhost in front of the main axis of imperial advance but that was the cue for the daemonhunting inquistor and the grey knights of the ordo malleus to make their entrance. Unable to stand before the faith of the emperor's most devout subjects the daemons were swiftly banished and the Corellians reached the Fennerton Sea. By 2504.013M42 they had pushed as far north as Fallenvale itself and were closing on Weybridge crossing from the east.

In the centre the Librian regiments, assisted by units of the Blood Martyrs chapter of space marines made similar impressive progress. The combined firepower of Librian artillery and Blood Martyrs' land raiders quickly dealt with tau heavy armour, and even their Riptides proved less of a threat than in previous engagements, though the tau themselves suffered several malfunctions with their new and untried technology which severely hampered their effectiveness.

Realising the advance in the centre could not be stopped, commander Whitefire ordered a retreat. In some places this became a rout, and significant portions of the tau army in the centre were annihilated by eager pursuing Librian and astartes forces. This almost opened an opportunity for Denham to smash the tau occupation of Tyranteous but Whitefire remained calm. As the Corellian units advanced on the imperial left wing he waited patiently until the Merndin Massif cut off their communication with the advancing Librians. Then he counter attacked.

Whitefire was a lot more fortunate in his engagement on the imperial right, and was facing an enemy less experienced than Librians with the tau way of doing battle. As a result the tau commander was able to keep the imperium at arms length, destroying their armoured transports from range and effecting a devastating ambush. This time their new technology worked, and their specially adapted anti aircraft broadside units proved particularly effective against the Corellian's Vendetta support.

By 2204.013M42 the Corellians were in serious trouble, and Denham authourised a withdrawal. However their right flank had been breached and now the southern portion of North Landing was effectively indefensible. Realising this Denham stabilised the front along a north south axis from the Merndin Massif to the Strait of Jute, the natural barrier of the Allengrove Narrows putting a halt, at least temporarily, to Whitefire's advance.

Operation Sledgehammer had been a partial success for general Denham. Despite losing the south of North Landing the tau breakout had been halted and the rpessure on the strategically vital city of Hammerton had been relieved. However the pressure on Hammerton had been lifted and the forces of chaos dealt a severe blow. Overall General Denham and his forces had bought time for Jellicoe's fleet to come to the rescue. Now they had to wait to see if the imperial navy could tip the odds in their favour.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tau launch new offensive on Tyranteous

After several patient weeks the tau were confident enough that their initial bridgehead was secure to launch their new offensive against the Imperium. Events on Tyranteous' Moon by the forces of Lorek had put their schedule back and reduced the overwhelming force the tau could deploy, but the tau commanders were happy with their plans.

The first assault came in the east, as Commander Moonshine was given the task of clearing the region of Odinvale. This operation was vital, if not directly of strategic use to the tau, because of the threat to the tau flank even a small number of forces in the east posed to their position. Moonshine moved his troops forward and Tyranteous and Zadoc regiments were easily routed. Detecting a renewed offensive, General Denham responded quickly to the renewed activity, resulting in the Space Wolves deployed to Tyranteous springing into action. Dropping from orbit, the space wolves confronted the main vanguard forces of Moonshine in the Odin Valley south of the Merdin Massif. After a protracted and vicious battle the Space Wolves realised they would be unable to stop the tau advance and risked getting surrounded unless they pulled out. With the astartes forces gone the imperial resistance in Odinvale was fatally compromised and the imperium soon lost their best opportunity to threaten the tau hold on the north.

Following Moonshine's success the second phase of the operation swung into action. A large force of hunter cadres attacked the imperial lines west of the Merndin Massif, where Denham had deployed his best troops and strongest defences. The resulting battle, occurring in an obvious tau line of advance, was bloody and costly to the tau. The attack stalled, then fell apart, and for a while Denham's headquarters were hoping for a breakthrough to launch their own counter attack.

While Imperial HQ were preparing to mobilise the Prozan Air Cavalry to launch a decisive blow in the north, word came of attack by Commander "Windgather" (a name given to him by the Imperium) in the south. The tau had skilfully deployed new forces on the shores of the Kethick Sea, and now these highly mobile forces, using the latest in tau technology including two formidable "Riptide" battlesuits, launched a ferocious attack against the Librian Guard.

The Librians, used to fighting Tau, were none-the-less taken by surprise by the new alien technology, and many mistakes were made. Despite eventually destroying the tau battlesuits the Librians suffered heavily at the hands of the tau army, falling prey to effective combined arms tactics from an alien enemy which had learned a great deal from previous encounters with the Librians.

By 1604.013M42 the position was dire, and Denham ordered all forces back to defend Hammerton. He was just in time, and the Corellian and Prozan units executed a skillful fighting withdrawal to extricate themselves from a rapidly closing trap. By 1804.013M42 the line had been stabilised, but much of North Landing had now been lost, and the tau were knocking on the door of Hammerton itself.

Relentless necron advance on Corticant

The war on Corticant continued throughout 04.013M42, with the first half being dominated by necron successes in the same vein as on a succession of worlds during the Harakhty Dynasty expansion. Initially General Veers was loathe to take the Necron invasion in the far west of the world's inhabited strip seriously. Surely it was a raid testing out the imperial defences? It couldn't be a full scale invasion as the invasion fleet itself could not be found. With this reasoning Veers and his staff remained resolutely in Fort Bastion and tasked Librian Colonel Bryers to contain the situation and analyse the threat posed by the necron "incursion".

Unfortunately for Veers he was quite wrong in his assessment of the necron mission on Corticant. The Harakhty dynasty fully intended to overrun Corticant but were unwilling to risk their fleet against the Imperial starbase and attendent warfleets stationed in the system. This was in fact the reason behind their invasion so far away from the centre of power on the Imperial world. The necrons had used an old webway portal to establish a landing force and now were using the same portal to continually reinforce their position on the world. This did mean the Imperium would be free to reinforce from space, but the necron lord by now had a very low opinion of his enemies, and barely considered that a risk to his plans.

His confidence in his troops appeared to be well founded as the Librian Guard forces sent to "contain" the necrons ran straight into trouble on the Blackhollow to Fairmont road. Attacking across the broad plains of Corticant the necrons made their attack at dawn, catching the Librians off guard in an abandonned mining complex. Very quickly the necrons neutralised the most serious threats to their forces, and by daybreak the shattered Librian forces were in full retreat, abandonning Blackhollow and calling for immediate reinforcement.

The Blood Angels and Red Angels responded, with the severely under-equipped Red Angels taking up a defensive stance in the settlement of Lochford, while the Blood Angels launched an aggressive assault to slow down the necrons. However the Blood Angels once again proved to be difficult allies, refusing to attempt to retake Fairmont of Blackhollow and immediately embarking on an apparently random and punitive raid on their enemy in the scrubby hills to the north of the main settlements. Why they chose this strategy the Blood Angels did not reveal to Colonel Bryers, as it was a selfish one. By now the Blood Angels were close to recovering their ancient suit of Sanguinary armour lost in the Deeps several centuries before. It just so happened they were looking on Corticant, and the necrons got in the way. In fact the Blood Angels had deliberately changed their plans to search on the world before it was lost to necrons, though this they did not share with any outside their own brethren.

Despite gaining the element of tactical surprise the Blood Angels found the necrons well prepared for counter attack, and despite making initial gains were unable to dislodge the aliens from their positions. Cutting their losses the Blood Angels withdrew, having done nothing to halt the advance of the necrons on the next settlement, Lochford.

The Red Angels fought bitterly for every street and house as the Harakhty dynasty advanced implaccably on the Imperial settlement, but lacking in equipment and any support the space marines once again found themselves fighting a lost cause. By 1804.013M42 the Imperium had lost three settlements and effectively control of Corticant west of Lake Hartford. The Librians were now cut off at Violetwind Coast, their armoured units unable to cross the marshy ground to the north and east and the necrons blocking all other excape routes. General Veers now scrambled to arrange a defence line on the southern shore of Lake Hartford, in order to halt the necron advance before his own base was overrun. Meanwhile he contacted his superior, General Roover, for permission to evacuate his command and all its staff to the space station in the Corticant system.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Necrons make slow gains

As the early part of 013M42 continuted, renewed necron offensives in the Deeps proved they were still more than capable of conducting a multi-front war, and their strategic position within the Perseus Deeps remained superior to the other factions. During 03.013M42 the Harakhty dynasty had established a foothold on Corticant, and the war on Parataea against the alliance of Tau and Eldar continued. With necron resources already committed to two warzones it seemed unlikely the emergent empire would commit to another invasion while the other two were in progress. This is however exactly what the necrons did.

On 0504.013M42 the defenders of Mordecai Tersius, fresh from having defeated the Imperial invasion, received a nasty shock. Reports soon came in of massacres near Crassen from forces which had almost literally appeared from nowehere. Chaos scout forces soon found a necron army waiting for them on the slopes of Mount Harender, poised to move south to strike at the city. The Iron Warriors, unable to redeploy swiftly enough from the scorched lands after recent fighting there, turned to Lorek.

The chaos champion was able to respond to the part request, part challenge thrown down to him by his ally and hated rival Warsmith Stahl of the Iron Warriors. Despite having only limited forces in the region while he pursued his own ends on Tyranteous, Lorek promised the support of his daemonic patrons. The daemons of Lorek appeared north of Crassen itself and pushed up the slopes of the mountain, only to find accurate anti aircraft fire hampering their aerial assault. One daemon prince was immediately banished back to the warp and another injured. Then, with the remaining horde of daemons rushing forward as fast as they could, the battlefield echoed to the screeching engine noise of night scythes, who soon shot down another of the larger daemons. Another of the larger monsters was finished off by the necron forces firmly dug in on the mountain slopes, leaving the daemon host effectively decapitated.

There was but one hope left for Lorek's force as a great unclean one strode into the midst of the necron lines. realising the danger the necron lord himself charged the giant abomination, and soon the other-worldly beast became enraged at the attentions of the mind shackle scarabs. With the great unclean one effectively neutralised, the rest of the necron army began the task of banishing the lesser daemons. This they managed with ruthless efficiency, and within a day it was clear the daemonic attack had petered out. Lorek's host evaporated back to the warp, allowing the necrons to march triumphantly through Crassen, their lord waving to the hastily assembled crowds (on pain of death), who cheered him loudly (also on pain of death).

The necron dynasty now had a foothold on both Mordecai and Corticant, and they underlined their strategic superiority by launching another attack on the tau colony of Parataea. The tau had fortified the Ak'ra isthmus heavily, so the necrons decided to assault Kau'tra to reach the eastern shore of the Soilent Sea. The tau however were ready for this manouevre as well, and managed to ambush the advancing necron forces. The sudden tau assault neutralised much of the necron mobility, and the advance slowed. Gradually however, and at great cost, the forces of the Harakhty dynasty managed to stubbornly inch their way forward. By 0904.013M42 although they hadn't taken the small tau settlement, they had reached the eastern shore of the Soilent Sea, and were able to launch striked to the rear of the tau lines on the Ak'ra isthmus, threatening the tau city of Ak'ra itself.