Monday, March 24, 2014

Zadoc current

Eldar pursue sector wide agenda

While the alliance continued to fight on Zadoc, the eldar were in action across the sector in a series of encounters which baffled the Imperium. Inquistor Huron of the Ordo Xenos took it upon himself to investigate the aliens and their actions, thus taking the opportunity to avoid the conflict which was brewing between his peers over Libria.

Huron recieved a number of reports of recent eldar activity and tried to make some sense of them. During 03.014M42 the eldar had made two significant raids not centred on any alliance objective. Eldar forces had attacked Aethor in strength, caused serious damage to the Apocalypse Riders, then melted away into the uninhabited hinterlands which dominated the world. Meanwhile on Garbriel's World, another forec of the aliens had been encountered, and defeated, by a company of Crimson Fists. To the untrained eye it would seem as if the eldar were either attacking at random, or planning a masasive attack on the imperium. Huron, being exceptionally trained, knew this wasn't the case.

Huron used vid picts and other evidence to analyse the recent actions. Far from a unified race acting with one mind, the eldar were divided into factions. Those in action on Aethor matched those implicated in the loss of Ares, and were present on Sentinel. These eldar were almost certainly from the craftworld of Iyanden, and in the Aleph sector they had never been seen outside the Perseus Deeps. They clearly had an agenda and were aided on occasions by the Rillietan and others, but Huron believed - at least for the time being - this eldar force would remain operating in the Deeps.

The eldar defeated at Gabriel's World were different again. These eldar, employing a large number of Wraithlords, were certainly the Disciples of Ynnead, a little known group of eldar which could loosely be described as a religious cult. They believe that when the Infinity Circuits hold all the spirits of their race, all of the Craftworlds will unite into one Infinity Circuit, and the collective spirits of the Eldar will join to form a new Power in the Warp that will battle and subdue Slaanesh, so that Eldar spirits may once more be able to merge with it and form a single, balanced entity.

Whatever their beliefs, Huron doubted they were acting in concert with Iyanden, although their reason for assaulting a world of little value in the Vastrid sector remained unkown. The Disciples had often been seen in action with Corsair eldar, and both of these factions had in the recent past aided the forces of Iyanden, most recently on the imperial world of Corticant, where they had suffered defeat to the Librian Guard and Carcharadons. The Disciples and Corsairs had also been associated with attrocities and raids by the dark eldar kabal the Shattered Silence, although the relationship between the eldar and their dark kin remained confusing.

Huron then looked at the alliance. Only one group of eldar had been seen acting in close cooperation with the tau, and always in the presence of commander Windgather. Whether this amounted to a special importance of the tau commander remained unknown to the imperial lord inquisitor. The Rillietan themselves had fought with the tau during the early stages of the Zadoc campaign, but in the critical battles even the corsairs and the dark eldar had made their presence felt against the imperium.

As 03.014M42 drew to a close Huron was far from uncovering anything close to the true nature of the eldar actions in the Aleph sector, but it was certainly clear they were not a united force. This view was confirmed when the inquisitor uncovered evidence that on at least two occasions the tau-eldar alliance force of commander windgather had itself been attacked by eldar forces, and he had reasonable confidence that the attackers were the forces of Iyanden and Ynnead. Did this mean the alliance was split? The Rillietan - or to Huron the "glue" which held the tau-eldar alliance together - had not been encountered for quite some time. Huron had more questions and continued to watch and wait, realising the folly of attempting to second guess the mind of the alien.

Zadoc: Chaos & Imperium in heavy fighting

While the political situation in the Libria system preoccupied the minds of many in Sector command during the latter part of 03.014M42, the war continued on Zadoc. General Wavell felt as if the imperium had already given up on the sector capital when Beattie's battlegroup, which had been shadowing the Tau in the Zadoc system, abandoned their station to head for the crisis at Libria. Never-the-less the general kept on fighting, although his forces were dwindling.

The general was therefore surprised on 1203.014M42 when three regiments of Krieg Death Corps, along with amore than a company of Raven Guard arrived on Zadoc. These reinforcements were greatfully recieved, although the Raven Guard made it clear that since they had been working closely with the Krieg units for sometime, they did not fall under the direct control of Wavell. Legally questionable, the general was happy to accept the terms of the arrangement, since the Raven Guard were more than happy to be directed to problem areas or have suggestions made to their operations. Wavell immediately pointed to the Isle of Aso and the north Foregi pocket. The Raven Guard agreed and deployed their forces accordingly.

On 1803.014M42 however, there was another blow to imperial morale when the city of Larrano fell. The main settlement on the Isle of Aso had been an obvious target for the forces of chaos, since their invasion of the islands earlier in the year. To counter the obvious next offensive the Raven Guard had deployed a third of their forces, including a full regiment of Death Corps to defend the city. Larrano had a narrow avenue of defence, lying on an isthmus on the shores of the Tucciomua sea, and the defences were strengthened in the week before the assault.

The Arch Cleric had no intention of taking the city by conventional means. Prior to the assault by his regular marines and cultists, a small insertion force of elite traitor astartes moved forward, calling on their master's dark pacts with the dark gods and unleashing a daemonic horde on the defenders. Although this had been considered a possible strategy by both Wavell and the Raven Guard, with the withdrawal of the imperial fleet the forces of the Emperor had given up even a token attempt to control the skies over Zadoc, and the flying daemons had free reign. After three days of fierce fighting, Larrano fell, with the survivors of the battle evacuating by ship to Riontas.

In the east however the Raven Guard had been putting their minds to the difficulties faced by the imperial units stuck in the north Foregi pocket. Cut off from the rest of the imperial force, the Foregi pocket needed to breakout, and to facilitate this the Raven Guard deployed two thirds of their strength including two regiments of Death Corps, mostly via a daring low level supply flight over the Mesoli sea, right under the noses of the alliance on Pizario, who were taken completely by surprise by the move. In concert with their brother astartes, the Apocalypse Riders, the Raven Guard planned a daring mission to take back the northern Isle of Anorigo and the city of Andiselie. The retaking of Andiselie had a number of attractive elements. First, it would secure a supply base for the Foregi pocket defenders. Secondly, it would cut the chaos forces in two and make naval and air supply to their armies on Aso and around the Pera Sea extremely difficult. Finally, it was unlikely the alliance would be able to take advantage of any imperial success, since their forces were tied down on the southern front.

The operation began on 2003.014M42 with the Raven Guard and well equipped Krieg units driving north from the imeprial held territory. They faced little resistance until they made the crossing by barge from the north of Foregi to the coast of Anorigo, a journey which took nearly a day of navigating perilous marshes and narrow channels of deeper water. Once the imperial force had arrived at Anorigo, the imperial guard had been pounding the city of Andiselie for over a day, ensuring the chaos forces knew well of the counter attack. The defenders, not the Arch Cleric or Iron Warriors' first rate units, found themselves resorting to daemonic defence once again, summoning a powerful host of warp spawned things, led by a daemon lord of tzeentch.

For a while the battle hung in tha balance, as the mystical powers of the chaos god protected his "children" from harm. Then for a brief period, no more than mere minutes, the power of the warp waned, and the daemons flickered. The Raven Guard commanders quickly realised what was going on and immediately ordered all units to attack at full strength. The murderous firepower of the imperium, coupled with the sudden weakening of the warp eliminated the daemon force, and Andiselie fell almost immediately.

On the left flank of the new offensive the Arch Cleric reacted by launching a counter attack. On 2303.014M42 a daemon host appeared north of Chettalo, moving east to cut off the Imperial offensive. However the Apocalypse Riders had been stationed as a rapid reaction force, and now moved to counter this new threat.

The Riders countered the Arch Cleric's move skillfuly. Using their highly mobile bike mounted units the astartes force pursued a policy of "infiltrate, isolate, destroy". Their twin linked boltguns fired a wall of shot into the skies, forcing many daemons to dive to the ground to take shelter. There they were vulnerable and one by one the larger beasts were finished off by the marines. One however appeared invincible, but rumour abound of the sudden appearance of the legendary "legion of the damned", who engaged the unholy daemon prince in an epic struggle, eliminating the beast as a threat and allowing the Apocalypse Riders to finish the job they had started.

The Arch Cleric found his forces, including a great unclean one and helldrakes scanning the skies, too slow and unwieldy to adequately contain the astartes force. The Riders proved skilled on their bikes, dodging the ungainly larger daemons and even able to take shelter from the helldrakes above. Eventually they found themselves charged by cultist units, but to little effect. After fierce fighting for the better part of a day, the daemon force had been cut to pieces, and had become strung out and disorganised trying to catch their enemy, who now held all the key objectives on the battlefield. Admitting defeat the Arch Cleric returned his forces to the warp, sealing the fate of any remaining cultists in east Chettalo.

By 2603.014M42 the victory of the Foregi pocket, led once again by astartes forces, but this time backed by a crucial imperial guard element, had given the commanders on Zadoc something to cheer about. Despite losing Lerrano, the imperium were close to victory over chaos in the north. The world hadn't yet been meekly abandoned to the alien and the heretic.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Librian Heresy

The "Vorushko edict", as the inquisitorial order dated 0902.014M42 had become known, was the start of a chain of events which led to increasing bloodshed in the populous and strategically critical system of Libria. Since the Dark Angels had found the evidence, the Inquisitor lord had declared the entire system heretic, ordered its leaders replaced, and had judged that her population be subjected to one hundred years of peninant servitude. The first born of every mother would be given to the penal legions and the tithes would be doubled for the next one hundred terran years. Libria was to be exploited to the maximum for the imperial benefit.

The judgement was anaethema to the followers of Law on Libria. Different worlds reacted differently, and on the staunchly imperial Libria I and II there were moves by the local governments, who had never seen any of the benefits of trade with the Federacy nor even known about it, to cede from the rule of Libria III, the most powerful of the planets in the system. This sentiment was soon stirred up further with the arrival of Inquisitor Lord Hathek, who during 03.014M42 convinced governor Alec Corwin and governor Keven Steiger to declare their loyalty to the Imperium. They rejected the alliance, the Federacy and the lordship of Grand Judge Darius Voight, declaring him heretic. In return, a relieved Hathek pardoned the populations of the two innermost planets.

Inquisitor Hathek had realised the danger of Vorushko's policy toward Libria. Having discovered the heresy Vorushko, Hathek believed, had deliberately allowed it to fester, allowing her to excommunicate the entire system when the time was right. This would allow her to exploit the comparatively wealthy system easily, giving justification to the ruthless exploitation of over a billion imperial citizens. In this supposition Hathek was indeed partially right, the new inquisitor lord saw an opportunity to bolster the flagging imperial armies with men and equipment, but Vorushko had other motives.

In any case Hathek was determined to salvage what he could of Libria before the whole system fell into civil war. He knew that arbitrary judgement was something the Librian movement would not tolerate easily, and so offered an escape route. If the traitors were overthrown and their loyalty proven, the people of Libria might yet escape the terrible judgement hanging over them. Having convinced the loyalist Librian inner mining worlds, Hathek moved on to Libria III.

Libria III, home to over half the population and the most important world, had benefited most from the agreement with the Federacy, and its leaders knew in great detail that they had dealt with traitors and aliens. Grand Judge Darius Voight and his government could not back down nor profess their loyalty, as their guilt was now well known, however the arrival of Admiral Beattie's powerful battlegroup on 0303.014M42 had the desired effect. On the following day the government fled the capital as a military coup led by Lord General Josiah Garrett overthrew the leaders of Libria III, declaring themselves the new government on 0803.014M42, and denouncing the agreements with the Federacy.

Voight however was not finished. Across Libria III he had supporters, including members of the armed forces, who had harboured ancient enmity towards the imperium and now saw the latest arbitrary judgement from Vorushko as proof that the imperium was a lawless despotic organisation, and one which should be abandoned. They saw their future within the Federacy, who had assured them their laws and customs would be respected, under the protection and alliance with the tau empire.

Unrest soon broke out as disorder soon gripped the planet. Both sides had access to the vast military caches of the system and civil war soon followed with neither side looking particularly likely to gain a quick victory. Voight now chose to officially request aid from the Federacy and the alliance, stating that the Librian system under his leadership, ceded from the Imperium and requested membership of the Federacy. Libria IV followed, declaring itself free of the Imperial yolk. Libria V stayed quiet.

Although the civil war was unfortunate, Hathek now had a large portion of the system loyal to the imperium and his cause. To finish the war quickly, Hathek petitioned General Montgomery, commander of the Zadoc subsector, to send more troops. When he declined, citing the state of affairs on Zadoc, Hathek went to Titus Luthor himself. The imperial navy responded, agreeing to send another battlegroup, but Hathek grew concerned when the response from Luthor was vacillatory in the extreme. Hathek sensed something was amiss and on 1103.014M42 he found out just how deep the divisions were within his own Inquisition.

On 1103.014M42 Natalia Vorushko issued a second edict. She criticised Inquistor Hathek for his interference and stated that the sudden repentance and professed loyalty of some of the Librians was now irrelevant. They had been judged and found guilty and by her authority would lay down their arms or face the consequences. All on Libria would submit to the edict and her own crusade forces or pay the price. Lord Inquisitor Hathek now realised what kind of inquisitor this new arrival truly was.

ZADOC: Gyennt falls to the alliance

The war on Zadoc had fallen into a brief lull at the beginning of 014M42 as the tau and imperial sides at least drew breath. This however led the forcs of chaos to launch further raids along its borders, with flying daemons and daemonforge constructs causing havoc along the regions closest to the chaos occupied zones. By 03.014M42 the tau had had enough, and drew up plans to defeat the chaos threat.

Commander Windgather was called on once more to lead the assault, and he immediately launched his forces on an invasion of the southern region of Mida, towards Gyennt. His forces made rapid progress, the chaos forces seemingly unprepared for such an axis of attack, but at the gates of Gyennt itself a large daemonic force, identified as that of the fickle daemonic entity Shaidar Haran, shimmered into existence.

The daemons were led by the heralds known as "Moonface", "Birdface" and "Pugface", to both their followers and their enemies alike. Their appearance certainly gave Windgather's forces pause for thought, but rather than fleeing in terror the alliance army put its faith once again in total and overwhelming firepower. Between them the eldar and tau units unleashed a storm of weapons fire into the host of daemons, and despite being the stuff of the warp itself the daemons were obliterated. Windgather's losses were slight, and Gyennt surrendered following the defeat of the daemonhost.

Five days later the armies of the alliance reached the southern ice sheet, cutting of the chaos forces to the west and seeing their swift collapse. Windgather had captured a key city and onyl two more remained before the alliance could claim mastery of the main continent of Zadoc.

Shaidar Haran's defeat saw the daemons of the Arch Cleric swiftly rise to challenge the power of the daemonic entities. Hoping to increase their influence the entities of the Arch Cleric soonbecame embroiled in a violent struggle as internal chaos rivalry spilled over onto the battlefields of Zadoc. A butal daemonic slaughter took place in the chaos regions, causing unpleasant effects to all those sensitive to the warp throughout the system. Shaidar Haran was victorious however, and the Arch Cleric was put in his place.

Meanwhile in the outer reaches of the system the Apocalypse Riders were lurking. Eager to aid the imperial forces on the planet the Riders knew open warfare was to invite annihilation, and so they continued their strategy of raiding. On 1303.014M42 the eldar defending the Zadoc trading post found themselves attacked without warning. A bloody battle ended in an imperial victory, the astartes force causing maximum damage before retreating back into the shadows of the system. At the very least the Riders had bought the forces of Wavell more time, at best they had started the long road back to recovery of the system.

MORDECAI: Necron invasion of Mordecai Tersius

Signs of further necron resurgence took place on Mordecai Tersius during 03.014M42. The previous year all signs of necron invasion had been removed from the chaos world, but on 0703.014M42 a major necron incursion took place, sacking a number of settlements. In response a daemonhost was summoned to deal with the interlopers and an intense and highly mobile battle soon developed.

The daemons found little difficulty in defeating the necron warriors on foot, but superior firepower and mobility, afforded to them by extensive use of Night Scythes and Doom Scythes resulted in the daemons being forced to surrender ground to the aliens. By mid 03.014M42, after several further skirmishes it was now clear the necrons had returned in force to Mordecai.

HYLAS: North Eton Falls

The defeat of Admiral Pendragon's fleet in 02.014M42 and the deployment of Beattie's battegroup at Libria seriously weakened the overal position of General Van Dorn on Hylas. Da Verminator controlled space and while Waagh! Uzfang was apparently no more, the forces of Na'Porkleon were being joined by ever greater numbers of greenskins loyal to the warlord "Koghk".

On 1003.014M42 the highly mobile forces of Koghk launched an all out assault on the imperial lines defending North Eton and the north easter portion of West Coast and the Shifting Isles. The orks, largely Bad Moons, made swift progress and Van Dorn soon found his forces beseiged on Etonia, and although the bridge had been blown, Da Verminator's fleet were able to use "tellyportas" to move en masse a large force of Greenskins behinf the Imperial lines.

Cut off, the forces in north Eton dug in as best they could, but faced overwhelming numbers. Then, two days into the offensive a company of Raven Guard landed in the centre of North Eton in order to prevent the settlements fall to the seemingly endless greenskin tide. Time and time again the greenskins threw themselves against the defences of the city but were thrown back by the astartes, but always the warlord Koghk had more in reserve. Eventually his elite forces broke through the perimiter and the Raven Guard caught. At the critical moment their courage seemed to fail them, and this was their undoing. While attempting to retreat from encirclement many of the superhumans were cut down by the greenskins. What was left of their forces abandoned the defenders odf the city to their fate and returned to their strike cruiser, lurking amongst the asteroids in the fringes of the system.

North Eton had fallen, but Van Dorn still had hope. He still controlled the west of the planet, and would fight hard for every inch of imperial soil. He badly needed resupply however, as he realised his stockpiles of food and ammunition were now falling critically low. With only four major cities remaining under his control, much of Hylas was now firmly in ork hands, and without external assistance the fall of the rest of the planet would occur in fifteen months, according to the tacticae.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

New Necron advance on Corticant

After months of quiet stalemate on the necron front on Corticant, early 03.014M42 saw a return to violent conflict, with a series of bloody actions which pushed the imperium back over one hundred miles, and saw another major settlement fall to the invaders.

It appeared that the necrons had waited for the forces under general veers to deal with the threat posed by the eldar, before renewing their offensive, but the forces faced in this latest assault were different from those faced before. Necron warriors and vehicles displaying never before encountered iconography smashed into the imperial front line on 0103.014M42, encountering first the entrenched positions of the Darantine Guard at Arrenhal junction

The rocky and wooded terrain on the Hartford plain saw the first significant defence by Veers troops, with the Darantine guard putting up stuff resistance to the necron advance. Annihilation barges fell victim to imperial firepower, while canoptek wraiths were destroyed by storm troopers dropped from Valkyrie into the heart of the action.

The necron army was notable for its heavy use of flying vehicles, and the skies above the battlefront were soon swarming with Night Scythes. The Darantines responded with flights of Vendettas, and an aerial battle developed while the necrons consolidated their positions on the ground. Despite the spirited defence however, the imperial forces were slowly pushed back, and on 0303.014M42 the strategically important Arrenhal junction fell to the alien invaders.

The advance pushed on, with one arm of the necron army advancing easily along the iron road, only slowing through the need to avoid becoming over stretched. In the north a second larger force pushed on to Shadowshore. Here the Adeptus Mechanicus forces counter attacked, and their mobile guard units, supported by astartes warriors, looked like halting the necrons at first.

On the right wing of the attack the Mechanicum had superiority in terms if numbers, but the presence of annihilation barges, whose quantum shielding proved a source of constant annoyance, held up the imperial advance long enough for the necron air forces to tip the balance of the battle in their favour. With virtually no air cover the Mechanicum army was easy meat for the aliens, and after a brutal battle the imperial forces were obliged to beat a hasty retreat, leaving the settlement of Shadowshore to the necrons.

In just a week the necrons had expanded their territory on Corticant by 30%, and had pushed Veers' forces back almost to the gates of fort Bastion itself.

New Cerberex: Astartes defend spaceport

Following the invasion of Ne Cerberex to Nemesis, the Apocalypse Riders send a force to aid the Imperial effort. The force arrived swiftly, and without delay initiated an attack on the space port. This quickly gained ground, before Nemesis reacted to the interlopers.

Within hours of the initial gains the hive mind sent waves of alien creatures against the hastily erected imperial defences. The alien counter attack was sluggish, but their numbers were large, easily enough to overwhelm the Riders' positions. Realising this after inflicting a significant amount of damage to their enemy, the astartes withdrew from their untenable positions at the spaceport. So far the space marine intervention had not decisively turned the tide on New Cerberex.