Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Battle of Bastien: analysis

The Battle of Bastien occurred on 1212.014M42 with the largest clash of imperial and chaos fleets since 11.011M42. By early 12.014M42 a sizeable fleet of chaos warships had assembled at Bastien and had been blockading the system ever since the disastrous rout of Admiral Beattie's battlegroup in mid 11.014M42. Gradually Thok's fleet had been joined by elements of Tragaen's and the Word Bearers loyal to the Arch Cleric. Now the chaos fleet in the Bastien system numbered sixteen or so capital ships, and the overlords of the ruinous powers were confident that their enemy, Admiral Jellicoe, would not be able to muster the forces to challenge their supremacy in the Perseus Deeps.

Admiral Jellicoe did indeed have some serious problems. In trying to protect the Vastrid subsector, the beleagured forces in the Zadoc subsector and maintain a strong presence in the Perseus Deeps, the imperial fleet was split across the sector. Beattie's battlegroup, or what was left of it, was heading for dock at Farport for major repairs, while Admiral Pendragon's force had been all but annihilated at Hylas. Jellicoe could only spare one battleship and a handful of cruisers to break through the Bastien blockade, not nearly enough.

Help came however in the form of other imperial agencies as it had done in 011.M42. Once again the Dark Angels turned up in force, with three strike cruisers and a host of escorts, pledging to break the blockade to the planet they had shed so much blood to wrestle from the grip of the archenemy. Similarly, four cruisers and a battleship arrived from the adeptus mechanicus. Now Jellicoe had more ships than his enemy, although fewer capital vessels. He knew the chaos admirals well, and judged they would field no escorts, and that his smaller forces may be able to turn any battle in his favour. On 0712.014M42 the mixed imperial fleet left its secret rendezvous and headed for Bastien.

Five days later the imperial fleet arrived at Bastien, much closer to the planet itself thanks to the advanced technology of the adeptus mechanicus. Immediately Jellicoe's warships detected the chaos fleet, which was travelling in three divisions towards them on the other side of the planet, following a routine sweep of the inner biosphere. Keen to avoid making the same mistakes that cost him victory three terran years previously, Jellicoe consulted his colleagues in the astartes and mechanicum and a plan was devised. The Adeptus Mechanicus fleet took the left wing, Jellicoe took the middle, and the Dark Angels deployed on the right wing.

Opposing this deployment the chaos fleet of lord Tragaen quickly moved to oppose the mechanicus, while admiral Thok and the Word Bearers intended to join up to form a large fleet near the planet itself. The combined firepower would then be enough to prevent Jellicoe and the Dark Angels from breaking through, while Tragaen dealt with the Mechanicum.

The battle started in earnest around 14:00 local system time with the adeptus mechanicu fleet scoring early successes against lord Tragaen's vessels with their long range nova cannons. Jellicoe had deliberately grouped these long ranged monsters together, and soon much of the chaos battlegroup was taking evasive manoeuvres. its progress toward the imperial fleet slowed as the imperial admiral had intended. Despite weaving to and fro, the nova shells eventually took their toll. Doombringer was crippled by a direct hit at 14:16 and then Rapturous Agony took multiple hits as Tragaen's fleet gradually closed the gap between themselves and the Adeptus mechanicus, exploding in a dramatic plasma drive detonation at 15:06. Doombringer veered off and took no further part in the battle. The Mechanicum had reduced their opponents to four vessels, but the fast chaos vessels still packed a punch, and soon the Adeptus Mechanicus vessels found themselves under heavy fire. Suppono was soon heavily damaged and only just managed to limp away.

While the Mechanicum and Lord Tragaen's battlegroup were locked in a struggle on the imperial left, on the right the Dark Angels had sent a lone squadron of torpedo escorts to the rear of the Word Bearer's fleet, fully aware that the forces of chaos had no way of dealing with the fast and agile vessels. This action bore fruit at 15:50, with the crippling and subsequent disengaging of Unholy Flame. The Word Bearers did not turn to deal with the threat behind them, indeed they could not. The fleet had already been slow to form up with Admiral Thok's, and needed to form a battle line before the van of Jellicoe's fleet arrived.

In the centre of the battlefield the main Dark Angels battlegroup now came into range of Admiral Thok's fleet, and quickly Blue squadron lost several ships and was forced to disengage. However there were plenty more escorts and strike cruisers left, and combined close range Dark Angels fire quickly reduced Dagnr to a wreck, before the stricken chaos cruiser exploded at 16:29. Meanwhile Admiral Jellicoe's battlegroup had initially turned slightly to help the Mechanicum against Tragaen, but at 16:30 Jellicoe gave the order to turn to starboard and head for Bastien itself. The imperial plan was working. On the left Tragaen and the mechanicus fleet were evenly matched and slugging it out at close quarters. Valente Deo was crippled at 16:50 but Pustulent was similarly heavily damaged by an escort strike at 16:59 before exploding at 17:54. On the right the Dark Angels had veered away from the Word bearer's battlegroup to engage Thok before the Arch Cleric could arrive, and now Jellicoe made the decision to aid the astartes. With any luck Thok could be dealt with and neutralised before the Word Bearers' arrival, and then their fleet would be dealt with in turn.

Initially Thok's vessels weathered the storm of fire from the two imperial battlegroups, and it was the lead elements of the Word Bearers' fleet that suffered first. Straining to catch up with Thok, Immolator was caught in a severe crossfire as she appeared over the limb of the world of Bastien itself, taking heavy damage at 17:24. Minutes later Warp Revelator suffered a similar fate as the astartes escorts behind the chaos fleet took aim at their second target of the day. Immolator however could not escape, and thunderhawk gunships were sent in to finish her off. The chaos cruiser's fire slackened and fell silent at 17:29, the ship now a drifting hulk.

Jellicoe's fleet did not get off without any damage however. At the head of Jellicoe's formation the light cruisers Phoenix and Firedrake found themselves in a storm of fire, with Phoenix suffering heavy damage at 17:38. The dauntless class cruisers turned away sharply and retreated, but the cruiser Intrepid was late to notice their move, and soon found herself isolated as the nearest imperial vessel on the chaos starboard bow. The chaos fleet, despite locked in battle with the Dark Angels at close range, now found some sport for their starboard batteries, and Intrepid was badly damaged before she was able to turn away.

By 18:00 however the situation heavily favoured the imperial side. Lord Tragaen's remaining battered ships disengaged at 18:27, leaving the Adeptus Mechanicus vessels free to rejoin the main imperial fleet (although this would take them some time). In the centre Jellicoe had his fleet broadside on to Thok and the Word Bearers', while the Dark Angels were heavily engaged ont he chaos left. The Word Bearers' were also suffering from appearing one by one over the planet Bastien itself, and the tactical situation was dire despite the numbers being relatively even.

The imperial fleet soon started making their tactical position count. Wyrmfire was quickly destroyed by the might of Jellicoe's guns at 18:22, and at 18:24 Thok's flagship took heavy hits from Vanguard, causing heavy damage. Warp Revelator followed, with Jellicoe's torpedoes crippling her at 18:26. The battle was becoming a rout as Jellicoe's vessels mangled the oncoming chaos fleet. Pyre of Darnath and Savage Messsiah were also heavily damaged and forced to retreat by the combined firepower and ordnance of the imperial and astartes fleet before at 18:55 the chaos vessels turned towards the asteroid fields around the planet and disengaged en masse. The imperial fleet formed up around Bastien and began transferring reinforcements to the planets' surface.

The Battle of Bastien had been a decisive victory for the imperium, one which Jellicoe had failed to achieve in 011M42. The forces of chaos had lost five capital ships and had a further six crippled. Despite the loss of nine escorts, the imperium hadn't lost a single capital ship, and only four had suffered significant damage. The chaos fleet had been driven from the field and the imperium were left in control of the system. Jellicoe was praised for his actions, although the glory had to be shared between the imperial navy, the mechanicum and the Dark Angel's chapter of astartes. Nervertheless the result was a much needed morale boost to imperial forces across the sector, and in the short term it led to a dramatic shift in the strategic balance sectorwide. With three major chaos fleets out of action, supplies and reinforcements were able to get through to Aethor and Bastien, and within weeks the eldar had been ejected from Aethor and Bastien had been wiped clean of the chaos taint. General Veers even had ideas of going onto the offensive in the Perseus Deeps.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Riders raid Ares

While the crusade forces battled aliens and humans alike on Libria V, the smaller contingent of astartes associated with the crusade continued to aid their fellow imperial forces in the Perseus Deeps. For the crusaders this was not a contradiction. The crusade was limited simply to carrying out the lawful edict of Inquisitor Vorushko - where it applied on Libria. Hathek had stood in the way of the Inquisitor Lord and tried to overturn her judgement. In the Deeps no such unloawful acts had taken place, and the astartes remained a useful tool for General Veers.

Following the defeat of the eldar on Aethor the Apocalypse Riders went over to the offensive, following the tell tale warp signature of the dark eldar vessels as they left the system. The navigators aboard the Riders' strike cruiser successfully determined the forces of the Kabal of the Glass 5 were regrouping on Ares, and the astartes decided to disrupt them by launching a lightning raid.

The Apocalypse Riders' strike cruiser arrived in the Ares system just days after the dark eldar had retreated. Before the xenos could react to the interloper in their system, the space marines had landed a small but powerful raiding force of bikes and land speeders on the surface of the planet. an orgy of destruction followed, with the dark eldar sustaining heavy losses, although the Apocalypse Riders too suffered high casualties, and in the end the raid failed ot penetrate the outer defences of the main strategic objective, the munitions and equipment store of the kabal on Ares.

Eldar reinforcements were soon being tracked converging on the space marines' location, and the Apocalypse Riders were quickly evacuated by Thunderhawk. The mission was considered not to have met its objectives, and the effect on the overall strength of the combined eldar-dark eldar military machine in the upper Perseus Deeps was negligible.

Libria V: Crusade push for the capital fails

The next push by the Crusade on Libria V came in a series of thrusts into the streets of Louxin City, between 1612.014m42 and 2212.014M42. The crusade attack was launched by the Vannaheim Guard and their Adeptus Sororitas leaders. The Vannaheim were now easily the most numerous force the crusade could wield, with almost 30,000 troopers and almost 5000 tanks and artillery pieces on Libria V alone. However in terms of effectiveness the Crusade was still reliant on small elite astartes and adeptus sororitas elite forces, and it was the Sisters of Battle who led the assaults into Louxin city as 014M42 drew to a close.

Initially the imperial guard defenders were forced to retreat before the onslaught of the new crusade offensive, but general Abrahams had plenty of logistical support. He was able to call on massed artillery bombardments from the eastern suburbs of the city, and soon accurate barrages were raining down on the crusade forces, wrecking most of the Vannaheim tanks taking part in the assault. After three determined thrusts into the city were repulsed, the crusade forces were forced to make a retreat, allowing the loyalist defenders to recapture all of the capital.

One point of note ws the presence of the Dark Angels in the attack. Previously the chapter had maintained a steadfast neutrality, refusing to associate with either side. Now at least one company appeared to be working alongside the Adeptus Sororitas, aiding them against imperial guard forces whereas before the Dark Angels had fought alongside the same guard troopers against the alliance. General Abrahams was worried, but Inquisitor Hathek assured him he would personally intervene in order to ensure the Dark Angels stayed out of the war.

Monday, December 22, 2014

No respite on Libria V

The pace of the war on Libria V did not slow as the end of 014M42 approached. Following the astartes encounters in Mistshire, there was no immediate reaction by the space marines on either side. Very little was mentioned to non astartes, and it seemed both the Imperial Fists and Apocalypse Riders were keeping their own council. Officially the astartes in the loyalist armies claimed no antipathy nor any loyalty to the crusdading forces, and their remit was to take the fight to the emperor's enemies. Officially the non crusade astartes would simply not get involved over disputes between inquisitors, but the stubbornness of the Imperial Fists and arrogance of the Apocalypse Riders had change things forever. Marine had fought marine and now pride was at stake.

The next move however was by the loyalist marines. A force of Imperial Fists, Ultramarines and Dark Angels launched an attack on a broad front against the southern flank of the alliance salient, driving towards Daralon. The loyalist force was well equipped, and although it faced a heavy concentration of Librian tanks and eldar, the sheer aggressiveness of the space marine attack soon had the alliance on the back foot. The eldar and Librian forces sustained heavy losses in close quarter firefights in the timberhill region, and within a week of the start of the attack the alliance had pulled back, surrendering territory in exchange for time.

At much the same time the crusade took advantage of the loyalist attack, attacking Skyfall in the north and pinning down a large number of tau forces. This move ensured no tau reinforcements could come to the aid of the beleagured alliance defenders further south, contributing to the Librian success. It seemed Vorushko and the crusade would still rather have a loyalist victory than lost the planet to the tau. However, the crusade had other objectives in mind.

As the loyalist forces made swift progress north against the alliance, the Imperial Fists watched the crusade forces warily. Since the encounter with the Apocalypse Riders the Fists had maintained their vigil on the loyalist-crusade front. They were now personally affronted and unwilling to yield any more territory to the "illegal actions" of Inquisitor Vorushko. They didn't have to wait long for the next move from the crusade.

On 1812.014M42 the Carcharadon Astra chapter launched a deeply penetrating airborne assault against the loyalist forces, easily breaching the imperial guard defences. Without hesitation the Imperial Fists reacted, moving swiftly to the Space Shark's positions, and without any communication, both sides engaged in a bitter and violent engagement. Seeing a chance to break the front wide open, the Carcharadons reoriented their airborne assault and drove straight at the Imperial Fists. The loyalist marines opened up with everything they had, but somehow the Space Sharks' sleek grey craft managed to avoid the fire. Soon their payload of super humans had been deployed, and the Imperial Fists found themselves in serious trouble.

The initial Carcharadon assault was so brutal the Imperial Fists were all but knocked out in one afternoon. Almost half a company were either killed, wounded or captured by their enemy, and by 2012.014M42 the Carcharadons had managed to reach the Libria V capital, Louxin city. In the north the loyalist assualt halted as General Abrahams struggled to redeploy forces to stem the collapse of his southern and western flanks, and the loyalists were only saved by the logistical problems always faced by the small Crusade army. Louxin city was partially recaptured by the loyalists, but the crusade forces now held all of Mistshire, and threatened to cut the loyalist armies off from their one supply base in the capital. In addition, some twenty or so Imperial Fists were now the captives of the Carcharadons.

The saviour of the loyalist cause on the main continent of Libria V was in actual fact tau commander Skyfall. Following the Apocalypse Riders' raid, Skyfall went over to the offensive, deciding to clear out the northern Acronian badlands south of North Springvale, thus preventing further raids from having such a dramatic effect on the alliance positions. The fast moving hunter cadres quickly made gains, as the numerically inferior crusade forces couldn't possibly defend all areas at once. However once the tau had taken their positions, they had to wait for the inevitable counter attack.

The crusade attempt to dislodge Skyfall from the northern hills came on 1812.014M42, just as the Carcharadons launched their devastating assault in the south. Led by the Adeptus Sororitas and supported by their indentured Vannaheim Guard regiments, the crusade counter attack smashed the initial tau defensive line, and began to inflict heavy casualties on Skyfall's infantry in particular. The Vannaheim artillery in the shape of Wyvern batteries was particularly painful to endure, but the tau commander held doggedly on to the hard won ground, knowing that to retreat now would invite disaster. With the loyalists putting pressure on the alliance southern flank, Skyfall knew the alliance could not afford their salient to become even narrower.

Eventually logistics and a lack of crusade ammunition, particularly melta and artillery rounds brought the crusade assault to an end. Had it continued, Skyfall may well have been forced to abandon his position, but in the event the sacrifice of so many tau lives had bought the alliance a strategically vital position and ensured their continued participation in the fight for the planet.

Chaos infighting on Zadoc

With the invasion of Bastien a complete failure, tensions soon rose on Zadoc, where the Emperor's Children repeatedly mocked their brother legionairies in the Iron Warriors for participating in such an ill thought out and poorly planned strategic move. This was partly one-up-manship, but in reality the Emperor's Children were frustrated that the Arch Cleric and Stahl had started an "adventure" in the Perseus Deeps when the war on Zadoc remained unfinished, the alliance unbowed. In their opinion Zadoc should be finished first, but they simply lacked the resources to lead the chaos cause.

The tension boiled over in mid 12.014M42, with the Iron Warriors mounting a surprise assault against the Emperor's Children, stealing several legion banners and other paraphernalia associated with the Emperor's Childrens' honour. Easily slighted, the legion declared a vendetta against the Iron Warriors, and for two days the chaos occupied zone of Zadoc was witness to ferocious in fighting. Eventually, after a set of bloody encounters, the Emperors Children were forced to admit defeat. The Iron Warriors were too numerous and skilled at defence to be overcome. The Iron Warriors complimented their foes' marshal ability, but kept their historic items in order to ensure the loyalty of their comrades.

Bastien invasion crushed by imperial forces

Following the reinforcement of the imperial forces on Bastien, as 12.014M42 it became obvious that without a strategic shift, the invasion of the world by the Arch Cleric and Iron Warriors was doomed. too few had landed to breakout of their bridgehead, and with the imperial fleet in orbit around the world, there was no hope of resupply. Warsmith Stahl, realising the futility of reinforcing failure, declined to employ the "device" or any other ethyric engine to open a warp conduit to Bastien. It simply wasn't a good use of resources.

Abandoned to their fate, the remaining traitor astartes fought stubbornly, but on 1212.014M42 the Vannaheim Guard and Adeptus Sororitas which had been deployed to Bastien were now thrown in to finish off the chaos forces. The new arrivals moved in force on Meshuggah, and an intense battle developed for the city. The Vannaheim Guard surrounded the city, while the Sisters of Battle charged towards their most hated enemy. Their faith helped, but overwhelming firepower and logistical support was the major factor in ending the chaos invasion, at least for now. Bastien was once again back securely in the hands of the imperium.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

LIBRIA V: Crusade smash loyalists, take Ashdown

For weeks the Crusade forces had avoided outright confrontation with the loyalists on Libria V, preferring to consolidate their positions in the west of the inhabited zone of the planet. By 12.014M42 the crusade held the west, penning in the alliance forces who dominated the central plains of the Springley plain, Timberhill, and Daralon and its surroundings. In the south of the main continent the loyalists still held Ashdown, most of Mistshire and the capital, Louxin City.

Inquisitor Vorushko was no strategic fool. She knew that the successes in the Perseus Deeps could soon see a large reinforcement of the loyalist position. To offset this she sent her fleet to the interstellar jump point of the Librian system, ready to intercept any inbound troop convoys, from the loyalists or the tau. The Federal fleet had vanished, presumably to restock supplies, while Vorushko hoped that any loyalist reinforcements would simply be diverted on her authority without any bloody battles.

On the ground, Vorushko's crusade needed access to the left flank of the alliance front line. Without this, the alliance would simply roll up the loyalists and take the capital anyway, so on 0212.014M42 the crusade, acting on the orders of their lord Inquisitor, demanded that all loyalist forces abandon Ashdown and turn it over to the crusade. General Abrahams vascillated, but inquisitor Hathek, now on Libria V, refused, ordering the Novgorod Guard to take up defensive positions against the crusade, and the Imperial Fists, angry at the excess of their fellow astartes, pledged to defend the city of Ashdown themselves. No one expected the space marines to begin fighting one another.

Which is exactly what happened. The Apocalypse Riders arrogantly rode forward towards the Imperial lines, the yellow power armour of the Imperial Fists clearly visible. Neither side attempted to communicate and a showdown seemed inevitable. The Riders were keen to prove themselves while the Fists were determined to uphold honour. Vorushko had chosen her forces deliberately, and on 0312.014M42 the powder keg went off. Its unclear which side fired first, but soon a violent battle erupted between the two astartes sides outside Ashdown. The battle became rapidly very bloody, with neither side giving ground. However, Inquisitor Vorushko hadn't left things to chance. Midway through the engagement, her assassins appeared.

Before the loyalists knew what was going on, a Culexus assassin had dispatched the Imperial Fists' captain, and an Eversor assassin was ripping through the remaining marines. The Master of the Forge temporarily held up the progress of the assassins, but after several hours of fighting it was clear the loyalist marines were a spent force. They retreated, allowing the Apocalypse Riders, now supported by the Sisters of Battle, to assault the city directly.

The Apocalypse Riders now fell upon the Novgorod Guard defending Ashdown itself. Despite some imaginative defensive tactics including wheeling seige guns around the city in order to outflank the attacking astartes, the imperial guard were horribly outmatched. In addition the arrival of the Sisters of Battle and their indentured Vannaheim Guard, led to the swift collapse of the Novgorod positions. A massacre followed, and by 1212.014M42 the entirety of Ashdown was under Crusade control.

While the loyalists fought furiously for Ashdown, the Sky Lords moved swiftly south to outflank the loyalist positions and reach the coast. In this they were successful, although the imperial guard defending this part of Mistshire proved able and competent, managing to inflict heavier than anticipated losses on the astartes force, inclusing a venerable Land Raider Redeemer. In the end the power armour of the Sky Lords made the difference, and the imperial guard fell back.

The Dark Angels briefly probed the Crusade defences but were savagely defeated at the Chapel of Mists on 0812.014, but by 1012.014M42 the south west portion of Libria V was firmly in Crusade control. Now however the war had escalated, and astartes had fought astartes, with bitter enmity now festering between the Imperial Fists and the Apocalypse Riders in particular. However, far more disruptive events for the Imperium still lay ahead.

Crusade forces help annihilate eldar on Aethor

The effects of the Imperial victory at Bastien were far reaching. The defeat of the chaos fleet in the Perseus Deeps allowed the admiral Jellicoe to divert precious resources to other theatres. One of these was the nearby world of Aethor. With the chaos threat temporarily removed, jellicoe dispatched a task force of five cruisers to Aethor, as well as transports carrying a number of imperial guard regiments.

Prior to their arrival at the beleagured world however, a strike force of Inquisitor Vorushko's Crusade forces had already landed. The Carcharadons and Adeptus Sororitas, the latter intent on reclaiming their shrine, landed behind the main eldar forces in strength. Both forces landed in the north, eschewing normal attack routes and choosing to assault the eldar from the mountains, catching the Biel Tan forces in the flanks. By 0812.014M42 the northern Vale of Ice had fallen, and the highly mobile Carcharadon forces were already launching air striked against positions in Middlevale and even further south.

The Biel Tan took heavy casualties, withdrawing to the webway portal. The collapse of the northern flank of the eldar force left the south under the jurisdiction of the dark eldar alone. Without pausing to consider, the Kabal of the Glass five and the Shattered Silence immediately quit the world, taking with them as many slaves and useful resources as they could. The dark eldar were willing to fight alongside their kin for the good of both their races, but they weren't about to fight to the last against overwhelming forces.

Shortly after the dark eldar had quite the field, the Dark Angels arrived and with intelligence from the forces on the ground attempted to locate the eldar webway portal. Realising what was at steak the Biel Tan fought furiously, and at great cost were able to prevent the astartes from locating their point of egress to the world. This was one small victory, but for now the eldar - who had come so close to total victory on Aethor, would have to think again.

ZADOC: Calogne taken by Tau

The next move in the long war on Zadoc came from the Tau. With the imperium gone and the forces of chaos involved in a titanic struggle in the Perseus Deeps, the Arch Cleric had little in the way of fleet capability in the Zadoc subsector, and this fact was taken advantage of by the alliance, as more and more tau forces were shipped in as each month passed. In addition with Warmaster Stahl leading his vanguard forces on Bastien, the remaining chaos forces were led by lesser, more defensive commanders.

The tau launched a new assault attacking on a narrow front in the extreme south of Zadoc, along the strip of habitable land north of the polar regions. Their target, the city of Calogne, was defended by the Iron Warriors, who had fortified much of the surrounding area. Seeing the forces of Rahvan Malkeor approaching, the Iron Warriors hunkered down into their objectives, hoping to lure in the tau then strike with teleporting terminators into the heart of the enemy positions.

The tau however were well equipped to deal with this kind of tactic, and had faced the traitor legions before. Although Malkeor was held up by the stubborn Iron Warrior defence, the chaos counter strike was obliterated by tau firepower, and after a few days the forts defending the city were destroyed or bypassed. In general the weaker cultist forces simply fled before the tau assault, and soon the tau were advancing steadily across the Mida plain. Calogne fell on 1012.014M42, with the tau firmly in control.

Hylas: Vannaheim Guard push orks back in the north

The see-saw situation on Hylas continued into 12.014M42, as General Van Dorn was finally given some reinforcements in the form of two Vannaheim guard regiments and a company of Adeptus Sororitas. The Vannaheim regiments and Sisters of Battle were now working so well together that the sector Abbess decided to formalise the arrangement. This put almost ten Vannaheim Guard regiments at the disposal of the Ecclesiarchy, something which alarmed a number within Imperial sector command, but Inquisitor Vorushko quickly ratified the decision, stating the dubious fact that the Adeptus Sororitas were merely working in partnership with the imperial guard, and not commanding it. Inquisitor Hathek saw through Vorushko's words, but the head of the Librian loyalist cause, was too busy trying to keep a foothold on Libria V to take any action.

The reinforcements had a dramatic effect, although Van Dorn's preplanned assault on the northern plains was disrupted by an early counter-atttack by Von Bismork's enthusiastic boyz. The main action took place on the flanks of the gigantic continent spanning Mount Flynn, and the ground was exceptionally rough, with a number of mechanised units on both sides becoming bogged down or otherwise immobilised in the terrain. Never-the-less enough of the Sororitas Rhinos got through to blunt the ork advance, and within a few days the orks had been forced into a retreat.

Von Bismork, aware that his gambit had not paid off, now sought to keep his army intact, ordering a tactical retreat. The orks under his command however did not understand the tactical situation, and several units, particularly those commanding his looted armour, chose to ignore the command. The result was a disaster for the orks, whose army effectively split in two and crushed piecemeal. Those units who chose to turn and fight were particularly badly mauled by the Adeptus Sororitas units, whose meltas and flamers extinguished the ork assault. By 1212.014M42 much of the Sarin plain had been retaken by the imperium, and the city of Sarina was once again in sight.

BASTIEN: Guard reinforcements defeat Iron Warriors

The space battle above Bastien yielded immediate results on the ground. With the imperial fleet in orbit thousands of Guardsmen were able to be deployed to reinforce Veers'defence against the recently landed chaos forces. Now isolated, the chaos defenders chose to dig in and defend their positions until the situation changed, with the Iron Warriors quickly organising the defence of Reaverton and Messhuggah. However Veers was not put off, and on 0912.014M42 launched an offensive on a broad front against Reaverton.

The Iron Warriors had expected this axis of advance and had defended accordingly. The imperial guard were forced to march across relatively open ground towards the chaos defenders, and once again the forces of chaos had the option of teleporting elite terminators into the heart of the imperial force.

Unfortunately for chaos, Veers had done his homework and planning well. The guard forces which advanced on Reaverton weer highly mechanised and possessed mass firepower, and no individual part of the army was the key to breaking it. Therefore when the elite astartes counterstrike came, it would have limited effect. In the event the teleportation went badly wrong, ensuring the Iron Warriors' counterstrike was even less effective than even Veers had hoped.

The battle for Reaverton became a slog which the Iron Warriors could never win. Outnumbered and outgunned, as night fell the forces of chaos withdrew to prepared positions around messhuggah, their last significant settlement still within the chaos bridgehead. Unless the imperial fleet could be dealt with, the forces of chaos on Bastien stood no hope of success.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Battle of Bastien

Battle of Bastien

Chaos Losses:

Capital ships lost
Rapturous Agony

Capital ships crippled
Savage Messiah (battleship)
Pire of Darnath
Warp Revelator
Unholy Flame

Escorts lost

Imperial Losses:

Capital ships lost

Capital ships crippled
Valente Deo

Escorts Lost
9 of various classes

Battles rage on Libria V

Following their dramatic arrival on Libria V the forces of the crusade continued their advance as 11.014M42 came to an end. In the north, the Adeptus Mechanicus quietly removed the last vestige of Loyalist resistance in the Gold River region, jamming communications before the attack to make the identity of the attackers unclear. The Novgorod guard represented the main force in Gold River still obeying the orders of General Abrahams & Inquisitor Hathek, and by 0112.014M42 the actions of the Mechanicum had eradicated them as a fighting force. The crusade had now secured their left flank, although by now the imperial high command had realised the Crusade were active on Libria V and following their own agenda.

Worse followed however, as on 2711.014M42 the alliance launched a major attack against the loyalist forces, aiming to push into the gap between the Dirtshine mountains and the highlands of Timberhill. The settlement of Daralon fell to commander Windgather after just a few days of fighting, despite a heroic - if ill fated - defence by the Imperial Fists.

Abrahams then started recieving disturbing messages, both digital, had written and astropathic. He was warned to lay down his arms and hand over Inquisitor Hathek, or else face the same certain destruction as the Librians themselves. Abrahams ignored the stream of communications, and on 0112.014M42 the Sisters of Battle attacked several imperial guard units, denouncing them as heretics. These appeared to be carried out against the forces on Abrahams' left wing, destroying equipment and reducing the efficiency of the loyalist troops, especially the local Librian forces and guard regiments stationed near them.

Abrahams dared not retaliate against the Adeptes Sororitas, lest he begin a religious schism. Frantically he tried contacting the sister superior, but clearly Vorushko had got their first. Fully half the Vannaheim regiments turned against him too, and by 0312.014M42 the Dirtside Mountains were invaded wholesale by the Sky Lords & Mechanicum forces. However following the arrival of the Crusade forces proper, the Adeptus Sororitas denied they were part of any Crusade, merely that Inquisitor Vorushko had notified them of recidivist elements within Abrahams' command which needed eliminating. Never-the-less relations were now soured between the Sororitas and Abrahams' commanders.

Commander Windgather acted swiftly. He could not allow the crusade to establish a foothold, especially on the strategic hieghts on his right flank. As soon as the Mechanicum forces deployed they were attacked by Windgather's elite forces. A furious battle in the hills developed, and the tau push south against the loyalists was halted as the alliance put all their effort onto their right flank. By 0412.014M42 the Crusade had been forced to retreat, yielding a third of the strategically vital territory. The war on Libria V had taken a violent turn, with factional disputes threatening to tear the imperial defence apart.

Mechanicum push back eldar on Aethor

Despite the setbacks on Aethor the Mechanicum were not about to accept the loss of an imperial outpost, and the valuable installation at Vaustfall, without a fight. The eldar however were too strong, given the imperial forces at their disposal, to initiate a direct assault on Vaustfall itself. Instead the Mechanicum attacked in the north, realising the Biel Tan were apparently the weakest of the eldar forces present on Aethor, and that the Valley of Ice represented the best chance for the imperium to strike back. On 0312.014M42 the Adeptus Mechanicus attacked with the few elite units they had remaining, making contact with the Biel Tan in the northernmost valley out of Clade.

The engagement certainly caught the eldar by surprise, and the Biel Tan appeared to be unable to deal with the Mechanicum equipment and weaponry. In the space of a few hours eldar grav tanks were left burning across the valley bottom, as the Mechanicum pushed steadily west. By the end of the first week of 12.014M42, the imperium had regained around half the territory they had lost in the north, but the middle and southern valleys remained firmly in the hands of the eldar alliance.

Tyranids assault eldar in Vastrid subsector

Despite the removal of the Tyranid threat from Glossop V, the aliens had not vanished completely. In the void of space the hive fleet lurked, all but invisible but for its psychic warp shadow. Although in no way as large as Nemesis, the warp shadow suggested that what had been designated Medusa was merely a tendril of a far larger entity, and it was inevitable that the full weight of the hive fleet would fall upon the Vastrid subsector in the future.

The next planet to come under the influence of Medusa was a small uncharted and unnamed world in the depths of the Cerrack nebula. Uninhabited, but rich in natural flora, the world was in fact a former eldar maiden world, now overgrown and untended. The Biel Tan Farseers sensed the approach of the alien fleet, and sent a vanguard force to assess the strength of the invasion, and whether a larger response would be required. Unfortunately the Biel Tan force were ambushed and annihilated on arrival, drawing the attention of the hive mind to the webway portal on the world. To their horror the minds of the eldar psychics realised that Medusa was now aware of the webway and its purpose. The eldar shut down access to the maiden world immediately, consigning it to oblivion, but this was more acceptable than the invasion of the webway itself.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Daemons banished by Blood Angels on Bastien

On Bastien, the arrival of chaos had re-ignited previously inactive or dormant chaos cults, and General Veers was forced to divert some of his precious forces to control of the population, as the Adeptus Arbites became overwhelmed. Worse still, in the south the fall of Messugah and Reaverton to chaos led one cult in particular to attempt a summoning. Manipulated by the denizens of the warp, the cult managed to succeed in their quest, although they were all part of the sacrifice required for the manifestation. A large host of daemons materialised north of the chaos sector and south of Damnation.

The daemonic host had appeared behind the imperial lines, and threatened to wreak havoc. Fortunately a force of Blood Angels were on hand in the system, and mere hours after the daemonic manifestation, a rapid reaction force had arrived and engaged the daemons. This was fortuitous, as this prevented the imperial guard from having direct contact with the daemonic entities, and Veers and the inquisition were keen to suppress the reappearance of daemons on Bastien. In addition the Blood Angels were able to contain the outbreak, hunting the remaining daemons down and sending them back to the warp, minimising the damage and giving general Veers some much needed good news.

Libria V: Crusade forces take the fight to the alliance

Following the raid by the Apocalypse Riders the alliance forces swiftly took action. Commanders Shadowstrike, Skyfall and ethereal Aun Shayr decided to go over to the offensive, despite the lack of eldar support. The Alliance still held the balance of power in space, thanks to the federal fleet and the complete lack of a meaningful attempt by the imperium to shift them, although the crusade fleet was lurking somewhere in the system, able to deploy small units rapidly by fast escort.

The tau increased their forces and began a new offensive on 2211.014M42, making gains at Gold River by defeating the Novgorod defenders. Shadowstrike's forces found the going arduous against the mainly infantry imperial force, and many times the battle devolved into close combat skirmishes with bayonets and pulse rifle butts - something the tau found rather unsettling. Even so Shadowstrike made moderate gains.

Further south Skyfall encountered a patrol of guard moving north. An engagement briefly erupted north of Jutesberg, but the imperial regiment soon withdrew without explanation. Skyfall, wary of a trap, waited for reinforcements from Aun Shayr and Shadowstrike, who joined him and stabilised the front on 2411.014M42. The front line was now well defended, and a portion of the imperial force cut off, but the tau plans to continue south were suddenly interrupted from an unexpected direction.

The tau barely noticed the fast moving astartes strike cruiser and mechanicum escort craft moving in at 80 degrees to the ecliptic plain. When they were detected the federal fleet were engaged to intercept, but the adeptus mechanicus and space marine forces were able to rapidly deploy, then withdraw their spacecraft to the relative safety of the Librian cloud, a halo of dust and gas which made detecting enemy vessels extremely difficult. The federal fleet declined to pursue, although this led to the decision to employ a close blockade of the planet from then on.

The astartes forces were new to the sector and did not bother to acknowledge General Abraham's command of imperial forces on the ground. The Sky Lords chapter simply deployed their elite forces along with a powerful force of mechanicum, north of Gold river, effectively creating a second front against the tau. It was obvious this force was a new addition to the crusade, and Inquisitor Vorushko was now making her play for Libria V.

Vorushko was trying to be cunning. If she could defeat the tau in the north or at least consolidate a bridgehead, then she would attempt to defeat the tau more slowly than the alliance defeated the loyalists in the south. In this way she could be rid of both her enemies and be left in control of the planet - both ends of the system would be sewn up.

The mechanicum forces quickly dealt with Aun Shayr, cutting him down in a withering hail of fire at the start of the battle, although it is unknown whether the tau ethereal was actually killed. The tau then gave a good account of themselves, with Skyfall's troops at the heart of the action. The fast moving land raider borne force of the Sky Lords ensured the tau never even got close to the long range firepower units at the adeptus mechanicus' disposal, ensuring the tau were struggling with close combat at the same time as being bombarded by the best weaponry of the imperium.

On the right, the tau managed to prevent a breakthrough, and on the left, a diversion by Sky Lords tactical marines ensured the tau had to commit reserves - any astartes was a threat to the tau. The fight here was evenly balanced, though the tau came off worse in terms of casualties. However in the centre of the battle line the tau were first pushed back, then broken, despite destroying an imperial knight an eliminating a Sky Lords' land raider. Crisis suits and broadsides were brushed aside by the elite of the imperium, and by 2711.014M42 the alliance had been forced to cede Gold River to the crusade and fall back to their own bridgehead. The tau now had a two front war to deal with, while the first part of Vorushko's plan had been achieved.

Aethor setbacks continue

The imperial reversals on Aethor continued as the end of 11.014M42 approached. In the north the Vale of ice remained in eldar hands, although the Sisters of Battle were loathed to leave the Shrine of Celeste in xenos hands, especially after the brave last stand of the sisters who had defended it for the emperor. On 2011.014M42 they undertook their own mission independent of the rest of the imperium, launching a significant raid on the Biel Tan who had deployed around the shrine.

The Biel Tan may have expected a counter assault by the imperium, but the fury of the sisters' assault, backed up by a small force of Vannaheim imperial guard indentured to their service, tool the eldar by surprise. A furious skirmish erupted, and after a few hours the holding force of eldar were soundly defeated. The imperial force did not spend long at the shrine, just long enough to recover the precious holy relics then withdraw. Though a local victory, the overall strategic situation had not been changed by the daring raid.

Later on the same day imperial fortunes took a turn for the worse as the Shattered silence moved forward from their positions on Middlevale towards the capital of the world. The first line of defenders were the Novgorod Guard, dug in on the hills overlooking the valley as it narrowed to the neck before widening into the broad plain infront of the capital, Clade. Here the largely infantry based guard with heavy artillery support, at first managed to deny the Shattered Silence kabal any ground, as the dark eldar struggled to outflank the imperial positions.

Eventually however the relentless attacks from the xenos forces wore down the Novgorod defenders, and by 2311.014M42 the positions at the Neck were surrounded and cut off. The imperium retreated to their second line of defence, and the three valleys were cut off from the capital.

In space, Admiral Pendragon on his flagship Sir Gallahad detected an unidentified fleet in the Aethor system. Moving to investigate, he discovered a force of Shattered Silence cruisers. A brief skirmish developed, with inconclusive results, but elements of the imperial fleet were driven off by the xenos vessels, and it became clear that the system itself was now contested. This would make reinforcing the imperial forces on Aethor more challenging, as the threat from raids was now clear, while the eldar were able to use the webway with impugnity.

Imperial reversals on Hylas

On Hylas the orks kept up the pressure on Van Dorn's men after the fall of Sarina. By 2211.014M42 the imperial general had managed to redeploy a number of regiments to the north, including the Novgorod Guard, sacrificing any chance of continuing the advance on the three settlements bordering the Saltmarch - Desmond, Finlay and Benger. Van Dorn had hoped to wrestle these out of the orks' grip, but now Von Bismork was making a headling thrust towards Seaford.

The Novgorod Guard were able to deploy across the Seaford road, blocking the orks advance on the Seaford peninsular. However Von Bismork's boyz attacked the imperial positions with enthusiasm, and despite their heavy artillery, the relatively static infantry of the Novgorod regiments found it difficult to react to Bismork's "armered" assaults. By 2511.014M42 the Novgorod regiment had been pushed back nearly one hundred miles, and the settlements of Seaford were now at risk. Van Dorn urgently put into action the plans he had to defend Collingwood, as the loss of this city would split the imperial forces in two and guarantee an ork victory without intervention from elsewhere.

Van Dorn also sent astropathic messages urgently requesting aid, he needed a strike force, astartes perhaps, which could deal with Von Bismork and destroy the ork army's elite forces. However, his astropaths soon informed Van Dorn that the system was swarming with greenskins. The "Bork" fleet had arrived, and was gradually moving in system. This meant even more orks to deal with and behind closed doors Van Dorn was convinced the war would be lost.

Hopes for the imperium rested on Admiral Pendragon's fleet. Although the battleship Sir Gallahad was in the Perseus Deeps along with several other cruisers, a large cruiser force led by the grand cruiser sir Bors had been shadowing the orks for nearly a month, following their redeployment from Bastien. Jellicoe had split Pendragon's forces between the Deeps and the Mabb nebula, along with his standing battlegroups, but it was Pendragon's fleet who were finding the enemy while Jellicoe's other commanders were left chasing shadows. The exception being admiral Beattie, who Jellicoe dearly wished had not in fact found the enemy...

Jellicoe was soon rueing another naval debacle, as the imperial fleet approached the orks, led by a massive mishapen space hulk. Pendragon's subordinate, in charge of the cruiser fleet, put into practice the same tactics as used previously against Da Verminator, hoping to prove that the defeat in 02.014M42 was down to poor torpedo spread and macrocannon accuracy, as his commander had claimed. In fact, Pendragon had got his tactics wrong in the previous encounter with the orks, but the admiral refused to admit it and instead blamed his crews. His subordinates accepted this, and Jellicoe had failed to reprimand their commander, which culminated in disaster on 2411.014M42.

Pendradon's vessels charged the orks head on, aiming to use their frontal armour and a massive torpedo spread to split up the ork fleet. The move put the imperial fleet in front of some of the heaviest firepower in the sector, and within an hour of fighting all but one of the imperial cruisers had exploded, been knocked out of action or were severely damaged. One cruiser fled rather than reinforce failure - a small mercy - but the imperial defeat was comprehensive. The orks lost just one rok and had a cruiser damaged. The massive hulk remained intact and within a week lay in orbit around Hylas, disgorging thousands more greenskeens onto the surface.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Current Aleph Sector conflicts

Admiral Thok destroys Beattie

The next encounter in the Bastien system occurred on 1511.014M42 with the arrival of Admiral Thok. This signalled an escalation of the conflict as now Tragean, Thok and the Word Bearers were known to be in the system. In response, admiral Jellicoe had ordered his entire Zadoc fleet to Bastien to bolster the Perseus Deeps battlegroup. This left the Zadoc subsector largely undefended, but Jellicoe knew that such a concentration of chaos naval forces represented a serious threat to imperial control of the upper Deeps.

It was admiral Beattie's command, led by the fast battleship Tiger, which intercepted Thok's force which had penetrated to the outer biosphere of Bastien system with ease. Thok's ships took up the favoured crescent formation, presenting their massive long range firepower to the oncoming imperial battle group.

Beattie split his fleet around an asteroid field. Although this was against the usual imperial doctrine, his plan was to lure Thok into a trap. He positioned Tiger at the head of the chaos fleet, intending to cross the "T" of the chaos fleet then withdraw to port while the remainder of the imperial fleet would be allowed to take up position diretly behind Thok's vessels, ready for a torpedo run as well as utilising Glorious' nova cannon.

The second part of Beattie's plan went well, as Thok's fleet gleefully moved in on Tiger. However Beattie had made a fatal misjudgement, and this coupled with some bad luck, would doom the imperial fleet. Tiger was a "fast battleship". heavily armed, large, but lightly armoured, and now the untested design revealed its vulnerabilities as a speculative volley of torpedoes from Jormungandr closed in.

The torpedoes were intercepted by Tiger's turrets, but the short ranged guns hadn't been calibrated properly, and all the torpedoes got through. The armoured prow of Tiger also proved to be somehow defective, as four torpedoes ripped through the plating, detonating inside. The ship was plunged into darkness and all weapons systems failed. Tiger was now a sitting duck, crippled by a volley of torpedoes which would not usually threaten even a cruiser.

While the rest of the imperial fleet moved into position, Tiger, unable to escape, was pounded with fire until inevitably the ship exploded dramatically. Her consort, the Invincible, a tyrant class cruiser, was soon reduced to a smoking wreck as she two tried to escape the clutches of the chaos fleet, and by the time the imperial fleet had got themselves behind Thok's fleet the Agincourt had been crippled, and miscommunications between the remaining imperial vessels ensured that by the time they were in position, the chaos fleet had reacted. Now the remaining imperial vessels were outnumbered, ougunned and facing destruction. Assuming command, Commodore McManners ordered a general retreat, an order which undoubtedly saved the imperial fleet from further damage. The imperial vessels had landed hits on the chaos vessels, but no ship had suffered anything more than superficial damage.

Overall the encounter was a total disaster for Jellicoe's fleet. One bright point in the whole affair was the fact that Beattie had been killed in the detonation of the Tiger. If he hadn't, Jellicoe would have had him court martialled and executed anyway, for such reckless actions and conceiving a battle plan which exposed the vulnerabilities of the fast battleship, and required the careful co-ordination of his fleet. Beattie had been aiming to repeat his previous victories over Admiral Thok, but instead he paid the ultimate price of failure. Strategically Jellicoe now faced three chaos fleets in the Bastien system, and the world was now under blockade.

Imperial disaster on Aethor

The violence on Aethor escalated in mid-11.014M42 as the eldar increased the pressure on the imperial defenders. It was clear that just like Sentinel, the eldar had now completed their probing missions and the all out offensive had begun. The eldar attacked in three distinct spearheads, each one driving down one of the three valleys which represented the bulk of the populated area of the imperial world. Aethor was largely mountainous, and the capital, Clade, lay at the western end of these valleys, where they joined into a broad plain.

The imperial regiments from Vannaheim and Novgorod had been bolstered by a small force of Adeptus Sorotitas and more than a company's worth of Imperial Fists and Dark Angels astartes. The Adeptus Mechanicus also had a presence on the world, though their forces immediately took position around their installation of Vaustfall in the southern Valley of Clay.

The Imperial Fists and Dark Angels were held back as a rapid reaction force, while the guard regiments took positions along the valleys. In the north, in the Vale of Ice, the Sisters of Battle were also deployed near to the Shrine of Saint Celeste, where revered holy relics were held and subject to the yearly pilgrimage of hundreds of devotees of the Saint.

Middlevale, the widest and most populous valley was expected to be the primary axis of attack, and on 1511.014M42 in the early hours, the imperial guard reported fast moving dark eldar forces moving through their positions. The imperial commander hesitated to commit his reserve, fearing this to be a diversion, but eventually the Imperial Fists took matters into their own hands and moved forward towards the fighting.

The astartes came across a large force of dark eldar identified as being from the Shattered Silence kabal. Well equipped and numerous, the xenos forces easily contained the Imperial Fists' armoured assault, and soon the astartes found their flanks compromised. The imperial guard had already fled, and convinced this was in fact the main eldar attack, the Dark Angels launched their own action.

The Shattered Silence were initially stunned by the astartes counter attack. Not expecting such an immediate response from the imperium, their advance was temporarily checked, and a furious and finely balances melee developed in the middle of a small settlement on the floor of Middlevale. Here was the fulcrum of the battle of the central valley, and gradually the dark eldar began to gain the upper hand. In an exceptionally bloody encounter, the Dark Angels' lead elements were wiped out, although they bought enough time for the Imperial Fists to extricate themselves and managed to inflict severe casualties on the dark eldar. The result however was that the imperial forces fell back to their last defence line, surrendering Middlevale to the eldar forces. Worse still, this wasn't the main attack.

In the north, a series of skirmished between the Biel Tan and imperial forces confirmed the craftworld's entry into the campaign on Aethor. Acting in concert with the other eldar forces, the Biel Tan disrupted the ability of the imperial forces to reinforce Middlevale from the north, tying down forces in unproductive and bloody raids, which could otherwise have bolstered the imperial defence further south. The Novgorod Guard faced the largest concentration of Biel Tan forces, and were soundly beaten at Gorget's pass. meanwhile the Imperial Shrine to Celeste came under direct attack on 1611.014M42.

The Biel Tan had a mission to loot the relics of St. Celeste, as their farseer had managed to discern that one was in fact an eldar spirit stone. Perhaps this was the primary reason for the involvement in the Aethor campaign, but in any case the speed and skill of the eldar attack caught the imperial forces off guard and very quickly the shrine, defended by a small force of Adeptus Sororitas, was soon cut off. Initially it appeared the eldar would wipe out the small band of sisters, but the appearance of a living saint and the fiery oratory of the priest commanding the unit inspired a counter attack. This very quickly inflicted horrific casualties on the attacking eldar, who only just managed to escape with their prize.

the defeat in Middlevale had been bad, compounded by events in the north, but it was in the south that the Kabal of the Glass Five broke the back of the imperial defence of Aethor. The key battle came at Vaustfall, a forge and Adeptus Mechanicus installation. Here the Mechanicum themselves defended their assets, with a force which was both well equipped and prepared for a fight. The dark eldar attacked with speed and withering firepower, but the Mechanicus did not falter. Here the fight was even and both sides gave an excellent account of themselves. After two days of fighting, the dark eldar commander took a risk. He knew that the fight in Middlevale was in the balance. If he surged forward now in an effort to take the mechanicum installation, he was gambling that the Dark Angels' defence further north would crumble. If not, the Mechanicum would be able to counter-attack, and the assault would fail.

Fortunately for the kabal, the Dark Angel's withdrew on 1711.014M42, just hours after the dark eldar had made their bid to take Vaustfall. The Adeptus Mechanicus counter attack never came, as their forces were urgently needed to block the Shattered Silence from rounding breaking through in the centre and taking Vausfall from behind. The Mechanicum gone, the Kabal of the Glass Five took the opportunity to exploit their victory, defeating the imperial Vannaheim regiment stationed immediately to the rear of the Mechanicum, and pushing back the imperial line still further.

The eldar & dark eldar assault finally lost momentum on 2011.014M42, but by now Clade itself was surrounded, and the imperium barely held on to the Valley of Ice. Both southern valley's had fallen and now the xenos controlled more than two thirds of the planet. Reinforcements were badly needed on Aethor or the planet would fall before the end of the year.

Riders move on to Libria V

With their success on Libria I and the Carcharadons preparing to strike the fatal blow, the Apocalypse Riders moved their one active company in the Librian system towards the outer rim. The crusade determined to leave the heavily populated Libria II until last, as any landing would be hotly contested by both loyalist and rebel alike, and the crusade was not yet strong enough to take on two opponents. Instead, the Apocalypse Riders decided to strike at a much more immediate threat.

Despite attacking imperial forces on Libria I, the Apocalypse Riders and the Crusade in general saw no contradiction in aiding the loyalist imperial forces on Libria V. On the outermost world of the system the imperial forces were in combat with the alliance, a mixture of tau, eldar, federal and rebel librian forces. The Crusade forces still believed their first task was to rid the Librian system of Xenos, and to do that the Apocalypse Riders launched a surpirse raid on the tau on 1511.014M42.

The raid was conducted with the usual speed and efficacy now expected in their assaults. The tau were defeated and significant damage done to the emerging alliance infrastructure contributing to their war effort. However it was noticeable that the Riders limited their contact with other imperial units, and didn't even inform General Abrahams of their actions. The crusade forces would help the loyalists where it proved sensible and pragmatic, but it was clear that tensions remained in the imperial faction.

Carcharadons finish off loyalists on Libria I

The end of the loyalist defence of Libria I came on 1711.014M42 with a simultaneous airborne assault of the remaining loyalist settlements by the Carcharadon Astra chapter of space marines. The Apocalypse Riders had already rendered all defence of the loyalist territory largely impossible, and now the Space Sharks finished the job. The Novgorod Guard were the unfortunate remaining force defending, and the assault soon became a massacre. Some of the imperial guardsmen may have tried to surrender, but no prisoners were taken.

by 1911.014M42 all resistance on Libria I had been crushed. The Crusade now imposed its own government on the citizens of the world, doubling the tithe and essentially enslaving the population. The Mechanicum was nominally given control of the forge world, but the government itself was run by the administratum and a new planetary governor, all picked for their zealotry by Inquisitor Vorushko.

Vorushko's edict was carried out and the citizens of Libria I began their servitude. Some rebelled, but with the backing of firebrand priests and a host of inquisition agents, much of the planet complied with the new harsh regime. Vorushko also took the opportunity to remind the other worlds of Libria to adhere to here edict or face the consequences, advising that the imperial guard, navy and the astartes should not dare to threaten her authority again.

Libria III: Lazarus taken by rebels

General Waltham's offensive continued on Libria III in 11.014M42, as he and his well equipped rebel forces continued the momentum gained in the 10.014M42 offensive. On the left wing of the advance Waltham dug in, while concentrating the attack on the Varas Isthmus and the strategically important city of Lazarus.

The loyalists expected an attack from this direction, and deployed their most competent troops, including the Vannaheim imperial guard regiments, in the path of Waltham's assault. However the rebels made extensive use of Leman Russ battle tanks and heavy armour, as well as heavy artillery in the form of Basilisk self propelled guns. This put the loyalists at a distinct disadvantage, but they had allies. The sisters of battle had returned to Libria in its hour of need, determined to return the billions of rebels to the light of the Emperor.

The Rebels showed no hesitation in opening fire on the holy sisters, if any on the imperial side had hoped for such an outcome. For the rebels, while the Emperor remained a god, they regarded His church and His ministers just as corrupt as the government they sought to overthrow, a view shared by the Federacy, which the rebels had by 11.014M42 officially applied to join.

The rebel advance started well, as the Vannaheim units were pushed back by the sheer weight of fire from the rebel forces. The sisters took heavy casualties from massed rebel firepower, and at one point the outcome looked like turning into a rout for the servants of the imperium. However, the Vannaheim troops were inspired by the presence of the Ministorium, and the line stabilised for a while. This was aided by reports of a miraculous resurrection of one of the sisters of battle, and reports of a winged holy figure of pure white light began to circulate around the imperial lines.

Imperial hope was shattered however by a late and forceful thrust by mechanised units of the rebel army. By 1211.014M42 the imperial flank had been turned by General Waltham's chimera borne veterans, and by 1911.014M42 the city of Lazarus was in rebel hands.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Crusade close in on Librian victory

For months the crusade had been largely inactive on Libria I. General Abrahams, preferring to ignore the situation, hoped that with the crusade forces and the mechanicum in control of the industrial complexes in the northern hemisphere, they would be content to leave the remaining loyalist held centres in the south and east alone. This would allow him to concentrate on the war against the alliance on Libria V. He was to be disappointed.

In 11.014M42 the crusade, having musteres their forces, launched their newest offensive. The Apocalypse Riders lead the attack assaulting the cities of Hector and Kent city in an audacious simultaneous operation. The defenders, mostly PDF regiments and an assortment of units Abrahams could spare for an unwanted diversion. The results were predictable. Although some units performed well, the Apocalypse Riders showed their fellow subjects of the Emperor little mercy. The cities were soon surrounded and taken, with inquisition agents and ministorum priests following up to perform judgement on the citizens. Many were found wanting, and the trials put on by Vorushko were broadcast across the world, generating a religious fervour and turning Librian against Librian.

Shattered Silence contribute to Aethor venture

With the success of eldar forces on Aethor the Shattered Silence were not slow to exploit the opportunity. The other eldar accepted this help, for the danger of Aethor falling into the wrong hands would cause disaster to both the eldar and their dark kin. The eldar craftworld in the vicinity of the imperial outpost was just one of the reasons for the eldar invasion. In addition to this threat was the much more immediate concern of the webway portal. This portal, the farseers had established, could not be closed, and while the imperial world was in the hands of the Mon-keigh, the danger was low. However the farseers of several factions had determined that in the near future Aethor would fall. In fact with the current situation in the Aleph sector it didn't take a farseer to predict the downfall of the imperium.

The webway portal also gave access to Aethor for all eldar including the denizens of Commorragh. The Shattered Silence fell upon the imperial defenders with little warning. The dark eldar forces used their greater manoeuvrability to great effect, surrounding the Vannaheim defenders and mercilessly cutting them down. The raid was all over within hours, and as well as contributing to the overall campaign, the Shattered Silence had taken with them a significant haul of slaves. For once the greater good of their race and an opportunity for profit had coincided, and the Shattered Silence were not about to allow other kabals secure a lead.

Mixed fortunes on Bastien

During early 11.014M42 the war on Bastien continued to gain momentum as the imperium realised the Iron Warriors had not come to raid, but that the powers of chaos intended to retake their former empire. After establishing a bridgehead the Iron Warriors set about fortifying their positions against an imperial counter attack, but general Veers was in no position to launch one. Instead he reinforced Meshuggah as he determined this was the most likely axis of attack.

in fact, the chaos planned a blitzkreig campaign involving several of their units. The overall strategy would be to continually outflank Veers guard formations by employing fast moving units in conjunction with a pinning force of astartes and various daemon engines. Naturally the Iron Warriors would be the pinning force, and they led the frontal assault on Meshuggah, as expected by Veers. Meanwhile the emperor's children performed the first outflanking manouevre, moving south to block the imperial retreat along the Aquilus road.

The Iron Warriors' assault consisted of another dawn attack, which hampered the ability of the Librian defenders to accurately pin down their enemy. Despite fielding a large array of artillery pieces, the shells somehow managed to miss the fast moving bikers on the imperial left flank. Realising these units must not be allowed to reach imperial lines, the local commander ordered everything he had against the chaos bikers, eventually destroying them to a man. However, the cost of this was to limit available firepower along the rest of the front, and on the right in particular the forces of chaos were soon in amongst the imperial defenders. Despite accurate fire from imperial heavy weapons teams against the maulerfiends - who had been taught to immobilise these dreadful war engines by firing at their legs, the imperial front was soon overrun and the imperial army was obliged to retreat northward towards damnation.

Meanwhile the Emperor's Children had started their move towards Aquilus. If successful, the chaos bridgehead would be secured against encirclement, but no sooner had they moved across their perimeter, than the Apocalypse Riders launched a lightning ambush. Taken completely by surprise the Emperor's Children fought as hard as they could, but were soon driven back to the chaos landing grounds by the fury of the astartes attack. Only the arrival of a large and well equipped army loyal to the Arch Cleric saw the end of the Apocalypse Riders' attack, the loyalists withdrawing, satisfied with the damage they had wrought on their enemy.

The Apocalypse Riders' raid had bought the imperium time on Bastien. Veers had lost ground and the city of Meshuggah, but his army was not in a rout. The chaos forces had not yet secured their southern flank and the system warp jump point was still under the control of the imperial navy. Reinforcements will flow for the loyalists, while the traitors would have to run the gauntlet of Admiral Pendragon's forces every time they pushed in system.

The first attempt to break the imperial hold on space took place on 1011.014M42 with the arrival of the Word Bearers' fleet. There were no troop transports. Instead every vessel was a warship, though these themselves carried thousands more troops for the campaign on Bastien. Pendragon immediately closed with the chaos fleet, and a cagey and inconclusive battle took place. Both sides, wary of past horrendous losses, were less than keen to keep ships in battle once they had started to take damage, and several of the Arch Cleric's vessels even disengaged undamaged if they found themselves in a tactically unfavourable position, rather than give any advantage to the enemy.

Pendragon's flagship the Sir Gallahad was singled out early on, seriously damaging the battleship and forcing a withdrawal from the battlefield. While Pendragon attempted to transfer his flag, the leaderless imperial fleet managed to cripple the Immolator and Pire of Darnath with expert shooting, before the imperial fleet found itself in a less than favourable tactical position. Without any other guidance the imperial fleet disengaged. Numerically the chaos fleet had taken more damage, although it is hard to compare a severely damaged battleship with two crippled cruisers. However, by disengaging, the imperial fleet allowed the remaining chaos vessels in system. The Arch Cleric was able to reinforce his numbers on the ground before making the return trip. Of course, the imperial fleet was still intact and waiting.

Hylas: Von Bismork halts imperial advance

The recent ork defeats on Hylas had given the Imperium a much needed morale boost, and General Van Dorn was on a high as 11.014M42 began. However there were already warning signs that his latest offensive had overreached its capabilities. Van Dorn had launched attacks in the north and south, advancing many hundreds of kilometres, but this had the effect of extending his front lines. This was especially true in the plains of the north, made worse by the transfer of Librian regiments in the north to the south, leaving a thin screen of Vannaheim troops to defend the elongated front line now stretching out in front of Sarina.

The inevitable counter attack came on 0911.014M42, with a large force of mechanised orks attacking the Vannaheim regiments outside the city. Over stretched the guardsmen fought well, but were unable to stop the battlewagons and other vehicles of Von Bismork's boyz from reaching, then breaching their lines. In a few hours it became obvious that the front was crumbling, and there was no time whatsoever to redeploy any troops to the north. Reluctantly Van Dorn ordered an organised retreat, but by the time the order had been received, the Vannaheim regiments had already fled and Sarina had fallen once again into greenskin hands.

Sunday, November 02, 2014