Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Zadoc: Assault on Aso

In 05.014M42 the alliance forces on Zadoc were facing a dilema. Since the invasion had begun progress had been remarkable, but the recent invasion of Vieto, however brief, had brought some realism back to the tau command who if anything were becoming complacent about their ultimate victory being assured. The reality was that although the Tau controlled much of the world, the north and east was still firmly in the grip of chaos, while the Isles of Aso and Riontas were becoming imperial fortresses. The alliance decided to act quickly to prevent the fortification of Aso, which they viewed as likely to prolong the war to unacceptable timescales.

The plan was code-named "Operation Proteus", and brought together a large concentrated force to strike at the rear of the imperial advance against chaos. The operation would see tau and eldar forces land and secure the area around the city of Larrano who would see of counter attacks as the major land forces were landed in the city. The Imperial supply line would then be cut, and the securing of Aso should be straight forward. The operation would then move into a second phase, with a two pronged assault by air and overland on the chaos city of Vorni. Aso would be secured for the alliance and the tau, and the eventual defeat of both chaos and the imperium would be brought ever closer.

The operation started well, as on the morning of 2105.014M42 alliance forces secured strong positions around the city of Larrano. The garison of the city fell quickly, and Proteus command distributed their forces in the hills around the city. In the south and west, facing the ocean and Aso archipelago, commander Skyfall's troops were supported by two distinct eldar forces including the Rillietan and forces from the Craftworld of Biel Tan.

In the north and east, the main line was held by commander Windgather, with the eldar acting as rapid response units and a mobile reserve. They didn't have to wait long as just a few hours later the highly mobile astartes of the Carcharadons and Raven Guard led tha vanguard of a ferocious imperial counter attack.

General Wavell had found out about operation Proteus. For once enhanced listening devices employed by the Adeptus Mechanicus all over the south of Aso had picked up the very conversations of the tau commanders, allowing them to pinpoint the time and location of the alliance attack. This was critical intelligence and allowed the imperium to devise a counter attack. Wavell and his commanders knew they would not be able to prevent the landings without suffering horrendous casualties. Accordingly they planned to allow Larrano to fall before launching a counter operation.

The imperial plan called on the cooperation of four space marine chapters and a large contingent of Librian Guard. The elite Librian armoured formations would support operations by the Carcharadons, Raven Guard, Apocalypse Riders and Ultramarines. The plan called for the astartes to keep the alliance forces busy, allowing the Librians to drive through the middle to secure the city.

The Carcharadon and Raven Guard strike was a total success. In the southern and western sectors the astartes wrought havoc amongst the alliance forces, destroying much of Skyfall's heavy equipment and dealing the Rillietan a heavy blow. The alliance line collapsed, and the astartes secured their objectives in the south west of Larrano. At the same time the Librians, supported by the Ultramarines launched their attack overland in the north, but faced stiff resistance from Windather's tau. As per their own plans, Windgather's forces called up their eldar support, and the concentrated eldar counter attack in conjunction with tau firepower obliterated the imperial advance. The imperial armour was wrecked and the ultramarines took heavy casualties. The central attack had failed.

With the imperial thrust to the north defeated, the Biel Tan eldar moved their forces south and west, as the remaining ultramarines had joined up with the Apocalypse Riders and had penetrated the alliance line in the west and north west. The Biel Tan attempted to reinforce commander Skyfall, whose battered forces were now facing the onslaught of a second attack. Unfortunately their arrival came to late, and the Apocalypse Riders and Ultramarines tore apart Skyfall's remaining forces forcing the eldar to retreat licking their wounds. Now the entirety of west Larrano was under imperial control, but the last action turned what could have been a decisive imperial victory into an unsatisfactory stalemate.

As evening fell on 2305.014M42 the battle had been raging for two days. Operation Proteus was going badly wrong and now the Apocalypse Riders with Librian support threatened to cut the alliance bridgehead in two. If they succeeded the operation would have to be abandoned, and this would rate as the worst alliance defeat of the war. Once again commander Windgather came to the rescue. Along with the Rillietan the tau commander and his eldar allies met the imperial spearhead head during the night of the 23rd and in the morning of the 24th.

The battle went badly for the imperium as the tau firepower proved accurate and deadly. Wave Serpents and Fire Prisms took their toll, and the Librian Armour proved vulnerable to tau firepower if the tank commander accidentally turned anything other than the Leman Russes heavy front armour to the attacker. The imperial forces also found taking cover in the buildings and rubble of Larrano was no use, as the advanced alien weaponry found them anyway. The Apocalypse Riders attempted a deep strike, but the enemy forces poured overwhelming firepower into the assaulting marines. By the end of 2405.014M42 the imperial spearhead had been wiped out and Wavell was consolidating his positions. The alliance forces held the east of Larrano and the imperium the west. After days of heavy fighting and serious casualties neither side was pleased with the outcome. The Imperial hold on Aso hung in the balance, but the tau had failed to get their quick victory.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Zadoc: Tau retake Vieto, imperial advance against chaos continues

On Zadoc the momentum generated by the Raven Guard on Aso against the forces of chaos was instrumental in the continued offensive towards the chaos held city of Vorni. For months the power of chaos had been waning. The Iron Warriors brooded within their fortress of Gerzonne, while the Arch Cleric himself had not been seen in person for a long while. Central co-ordination of chaos forces had broken down, and now actions were sporadic and usually defensive in nature.

The toe-hold on Aso was quickly flooded by guardsmen, and the Novgorod regiments begain their attritional grind up the island towards the city of Vorni. Casualties, as ever, were high, but the stoic infantrymen kept on pushing forward. They even encountered elite units of the Emperor's Children, ancient warriors from the dawn of the imperium, but such was their numbers, even these elite forces were crushed underfoot. By 2205.014M42 the imperial forces had reached the outskirts of the city, and began preparations for a long seige. The war here was going to plan.

Further south the foothold the astartes had made ont he mainland against the tau drew an inevitable counter attack from Windgather's forces once the Apocalypse Riders had been forced to withdraw to re-arm. In the south the tau had numbers, and with their eldar allies the alliance forces pushed back strongly from Perregor. The Imperial Fists and Lunar Guard took up positions where they felt they would delay the enemy for the longest, but the alliance were more than equal to any defensive plan put together by the imperium.

The tau-eldar forces advanced relentlessly in the week 14-2105.014M42. By 2205.014M42 it was obvious that Vieto could not be held. With regret, General Wavell ordered a withdrawal and the entire peninsular and island chaine was abandoned to the tau by 2405.014M42, save for some guerilla and special ops forces. Once again the tau had ejected the imperium from the Zadoc mainland, and Wavell had to think again.

Carcharadons advance on Libria I

While the Carcharadons and Apocalypse Riders debated what to do about the revelation that the Mechanicum had been acting in concert or even alliance with the Tau, the crusade forces continued their lightning advance against the loyalist forces on Libria I. The Carcharadons were particularly keen to secure as much of the world as possible, to give themselves a better position should hostilities break out within the crusade forces.

The Carcharadons struck without warning against the cities of Derwood, Gratiot and Novato. The attack was mainly airborne and simultaneous, causing the maximum amount of disruption and confusion amongst the imperial guard defenders. However the loyalists, expecting an attack, were well equipped, and the Librian forces in particular fought with a stubborn resolve to defend their homeland.

The battle hinged on the aerial assault. Despite being kitted out with a large amount of AA weaponry and Punisher battle tanks, the loyalists could not hold back the astartes. The Carcharadon command flier was even shot down by Librian forces, but somehow the elite of the astartes forces survived the crash, then survived withering fire from the defenders as the entire front line opened up on the crash site. Ignoring the storm of fire, the Carcharadons launched a close assault, their combat prowess easily overcoming the imperial guard defenders of the main defence lines.

The close assault won the battle for the Carcharadons, and the Librian defenders were taken apart at close range. Within a day the loyalist defence of the three cities had collapsed, and by 2105.014M42 the Carcharadons, who had taken moderate losses, were mopping up the remaining defenders. It had been a consumate display of astartes superiority, and the loyalists were now confined to the cities of the south east, and General Abrahams was unwilling to reinforce further failure. The loyalist forces on Libria 1 were isolated and alone.

Eldar close to victory on Gabriel's World

As the end of 05.014M42 approached, General Pollack faced significant challenges on Gabriel's World. His appeals for reinforcements had been ignored by Sector command. Events in the Zadoc subsector and the Perseus Deeps were far more important and Pollack was told to use what he already had, which in truth wasn't much. Eventually Pollack managed to wrestle some new forces out of Titus Luthor in the shape of half a regiment of Lunar Guard and one company of Imperial Fists. Upon their arrival the fresh forces went straight into action, as the Disciples of Ynnead had attacked once more on the planet.

Gabriel's Landing was now under siege by eldar forces, and the Lunar Guard and astartes had a tough time deploying into the battle, although the astartes immediately tried to breakout and force the aliens back from the perimeter of the city. The result was an unco-ordinated imperial counter-attack, leading to horrific casualties among both the astartes and Lunar guard. Both fresh forces were effectively expended in just a few hours, and the seige remained. Morale plummeted, and the loss of Gabriel' World to the Imperium now looked likely.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Federacy arrives at Libria

With events moving apace on Libria the Federacy decided to act in late 04.014M42. In a close vote the Federal council decided to send the Tallaxian fleet, consisting of four cruisers and one battleshio, to the Libria system. Intelligence suggested only Admiral Pendragon's forces were present in the system, and Beattie's forces would not be arriving for a month or so. The fleet set sail and arrived some weeks later, immediately encountering the similarly sized Pendragon battlegroup in the Deep Space region of the Libria system.

Confident in his fleet's abilities the Federal Admiral, Cassin Kinkaid, immediately attacked. At first his fleet's shooting was unimpressive, but gradually the federal fleet found its range and was able to out-manouevre the imperial force, enveloping the enemy in a murderous crossfire. During the battle the federal losses were light, although the cruiser Liberator was badly damaged by the imperial battleship, who singled the mars class vessel out for specific punishment.

The FSS Haskell was less than impressive in her shooting, but the battleship's laxity was made up for by the brave gunners and pilots of the rest of the fleet, although the last bombing run carried out by the federacy force was conducted by cadets, their run failing to achieve any hits on the enemy at all and allowing a heavily damaged imperial cruiser to escape.

The final losses in ships were small, but the damage was extremely unequal. The federacy lost one escort along with damage to the Liberator but the imperial fleet suffered far worse and were forced to disengage. Pendragon lost a lunar class, Sir Gareth, while four other vessels were badly damaged. Pendragon withdrew his battered fleet to Libria V, while Kinkaid now controlled the system jump point. Taking the hulk of Sir Gareth in tow, he sent Liberator and his prize back to Hartak. Now he waited for reinforcement following the initial victory.

ZADOC: Astartes launch new imperial offensive

Despite the Crusade alliance between the Tau-eldar and the Mechanicum, there was no such love lost on the subsector capital, as the Apocalypse Riders and Imperial Fists planned an offensive on Zadoc against the alliance forces. In the previous month the Raven Guard had taken fight to Chaos in the north, and now the Vieto Isles became the target for the imperial forces. A meeting was held between General Wavell's command team and the astartes, and a plan drawn up. On Zadoc the imperium fought as one, while the different forces and commanders shared very different opinions on the war for Libria. However, these opinions were not mooted, and no inquisitors were present at Zadoc to meddle in affairs.

The astartes led the attack, with the Imperial Fists assaulting and capturing the city of Vieto. Further west the Apocalypse Riders attacked the most dangerous enemy formation, that of Windgather's tau-eldar forces, to prevent them intervening and reinforcing the beleagured tau forces in the city. In Vieto the Imperial Fists made light work of the tau force, forcing the remainder to withdraw. This allowed Wavell to follow up and take the Isles themselves, mopping up any tau resistance.

Further east Windgather was once again locked in a furious battle against the Apocalypse Riders, who were succesfully preventing any link up with the tau defenders in Vieto. Once again the Riders went for the critical command and control nodes of the tau-eldar force, and were able to capture vital intelligence during their mission. Their assault threw the tau-eldar alliance into disarray for several critical hours, ensuring the invasion of Vieto passed off as planned. However within the intelligence the Apocalypse Riders found irefutable evidence of cooperation between the tau and the Crusade forces on Libria. This certainly shocked them, but how they would react no one could guess...

LIBRIA I: Carcharadons enter the fray

On Libria I the crusade forces continued to push the loyalists back. In the far west the Carcharadons landed without warning, just as the Tau-eldar forces left the Mechanicum in control of the central northern cities. Once again the Lunar Guard were in the front line edfending the loyalist cause, but the ferocity of the astartes attacj could not be challenged. In three days the cities of Selden, Blandon and Freeburg fell to the Space Sharks, surrendering all the north of Libria I to the Crusade. There was nothing the loyalists could do.

On Libria III General Abrahams was growing increasingly concerned by the overwhelming power of the Crusade. Somehow the loyal soldiers of the Imperium had become the enemy, and the Crusade of Natalia Vorushko had even allied itself to its mortal enemies to overcome his forces. Such was the apparent hate for Lord Inquisitor Hathek, who advice Abrahams had been following. Now the lord general began to doubt his loyalties, although the power of the Inqusition seal still ensured his continued obedience to Hathek's orders.

For now Abrahams concentrated on defeating the rebels on Libria III, suppressing news of events on Libria I and effectively allowing it to happen. This was not a state of affairs which could continue for long.

Necrons make fresh gains on Corticant

In early 05.014M42 the necrons once again launched an offensive on Corticant in a war which had become far from dynamic. With the Imperium disctracted elsewhere, the necrons should have easily brushed aside resistance on the world if they had put their mind to it, but for some reason the necron lords were content to carry out the war at a leisurely pace. One effect of this, perhaps deliberate, was that Veers was unable to earmark significant forces for the defence of Corticant, givent hat the necron progress was so slow. Instead, the lord general saw his assets stripped as the situation on Zadoc and Libria deteriorated.

The necrons attacked in the south this time, pushing forward to Ironhaven, forcing the Imperial forces, mostly Novgorod guard to retreat north towards the more heavily defended imperial hinterlands. It was a bitter blow to the defenders however, who had so recently liberated Ironhaven from the eldar threat. Veers became increasingly concerned and withdrawn, keeping his own counsel and being seen less and less, despairing that events in the Zadoc subsector risked the loss of all he had gained in the hard fought crusade.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Libria III: Loyalist offensive

On Libria III in early 05.014M42 the first of the loyalist reinforcements began arriving on the world. These were left unmolested by the as yet quiescent "Crusader" naval presence, as Vorushko certainly didn't want a rebel victory on the primary world of the Libria system, The first regiments to arrive were five from Praetoria, including the Praetorian 42nd, and five from the Lunar Guard forces now deployed in the sector. These were quickly sent to key fronts in the battle for Libria III.

The Lunar Guard were immediately deployed to South Vale, just to the west of the Lazarus Inlet, where rebel forces threatened to cut off the Isthmus from loyalist forces to the north. This would be a serious blow so three of the Lunar regiments were thrown into an attack just to the east of the Cerran Mountains, with the intention of breaking out and sweeping east to the Anaken inlet, trapping several formations of rebels in a pocket.

Initially the armoured attack went well, but this early progress was stymied by librian armour used as the rebel strategic reserve. Both sides suffered losses in the ensuing tank duel, although the Lunar regiments proved to be the better shots, their Vanquisher tanks in particular notching up an impressive number of kills. By 0605.014M42 burning rebel Librian tanks littered the Cerran plain, but the Lunar regiments had been unable to breakthrough. The rebels now committed their reserve and the loyalist attack floundered and the threat of a Librian counter attack now loomed large.

Further north the Praetorians, led by the veteran 42nd, landed in the Broken lands, a front largely neglected by the rebels as it was thought any crossing of the Straits of Glem would prove to difficult. Never-the-less on 0505.014M43 the Praetorians crossed in force, setting up a bridgehead on the Island of Grenidis. Librian forces counter attacked, but the Praetorians were ready, and the first shots of the encounter decapitated the Librian army, killing the colonel in command outright with the first barrage of Praetorian firepower.

The Praetorians continued in the same vein, pouring accurate artillery fire on the hapless rebels, and even used a deathstrike missile to blast a hole in the centre of the Librian line, destroying their Vanquisher battle tank contingent. As the battle wore on infantry out in the open quickly fell prey to mortar fire and the armoured units succumbed to deadly accurate Praetorian attacks. Three days later the loyalist forces had mopped up the rebel counter assault and secured a solid bridgehead on the Vestan peninsular.

Libria I: Northern cities fall to allied advance

In the Librian system the adeptus mechanicus assault on "loyalist" forces continued. In an attempt to prevent further bloodshed General Abrahams attempted to contact Inquisitor Vorushko and the Mechanicum directly, but his attempts were unsuccessful. Inquisitor Hathek, now by Abraham's side, told the general this was Vorushko's private agenda and that he would resist her at all costs. Some of Abraham's senior commanders advised him to surrender on Libria I, but the lord General was unmoved. He was the commander on the ground and would not be moved while an Inquisitor lord was instructing him to resist. The troops on Libria I would continue resisting what Abrahams considered an illegal action by the Mechanicum, fuelled by their own greed and ambition to acquire the forgeworld.

The war on Libria I took an even more sinister turn on 0105.014M42 when the Crimson Fists deployed to the planet in order to stiffen the defences of the loyalist forces. The astartes chapter concurred with Hathek, considering the Vorushko and the Mechanicum acting beyond their remit. Perhaps a deployment of Astartes would deter them. In fact only two days after their deployment, the Crimson Fists were asaulted, by a force of Tau and Eldar connected to Commander Windgather, taking them completely by surprise.

The Tau-Eldar force made swift progress, forcing their way through the Imperial front lines. At the same time reports came in that further north the Mechanicum had broken through, a sure sign the Xenos were acting in concernt with the Adeptus Mechanicus. After the inital shock the loyalist forces regained their composure, and were able to oppose the combined enemy force near Carteret. If the tide could be turned here the northern settlements of Slater & Kell could yet be saved. The Crimson Fists added their strength to a large force of Novgorod Guard, who squared off against the Mechanicum force, which now had Windgather's troops on its left flank.

The battle was a bloody and attritional affair, but the loyalist force was unable to halt the enemy assault. Thousands of Novgorod Guard died to punishing Mechanicum fire and accurate Xenos volleys. Carteret fell and the loyalists fell back to the capital Hector. Almost half the planet had been lost and now it appeared they were facing the tau on two sides of the same war. Confused, the loyalists looked for meaning in the alliance.

In fact Vorushko and her "Crusade" positively loathed the tau and the eldar, and her long term plan was to annihilate them and their designs on the Imperium. The inquisitor was however not stupid. She could not afford, yet, to engage the rebels, the tau amd the imperial loyalists. When the tau force arrived along with its eldar allies, Vorushko offered an alliance of convenience. For now Vorushko wanted Libria I to begin her plan to create an army capable of assaulting Libria III. The tau and eldar meanwhile knew that if the Crusade failed to have a significant impact, the loyalists would overwhelm the rebel forces on Libria III. All their hard work would be undone to take Libria from within. The Crusade had to present a serious threat, allowing the tau to intervene on Libria III before Vorushko had her army.

It was a gamble, with both sides attempting to take advantage of one another, and Vorushko showed she wasn't above any means to achieve her goals. It was particularly galling to Hathek, who had been accused of heresy for arranging an alliance with the tau and eldar in the past, by agents of Vorushko herself.

Even more dangerous news then arrived on 0905.014M42. While the loyalist forces at Hector built up their defences against the inevitable onslaught, the Apocalypse Riders appeared, attacking the Novgorod Guard across a broad plain which had been turned into a quagmire overnight by unseasonable rainstorms. It took a few minutes for the Novgorod units to understand what was happening, but then a wall of fire erupted from the loyalist lines as the astartes charged in.

On the left and centre of the attack, the Riders quickly got into difficulties in the muddy ground, and were beaten back by the loyalist firepower, suffering significant casualties. However on the right flank, firmer ground allowed a drive directly at the main battlefield strategic positions. The astartes force swept round to assault the Guard armoured units and command structure, leaving mere conscripts holding one key position but the remaining bikers occupying two. Their defensive perimeter compromised, the Guard were now vulnerable to direct assault.

Zadoc: Assault on Aso

In early 05.014M42 the imperium had withdrawn from their untenable salients on the Zadoc mainland. For over a month the high command under General Wavell had built up the defences of Riontas, but the Raven Guard were keen on going on the offensive. They felt that the fight should be taken to the enemy, aggressively, and launched into their own operation to regain a foothold on the isle of Aso.

The Raven Guard offensive took the chaos forces of the Arch Cleric ompletely by surprise, and Larrano was taken within hours of the assault. While Wavell rushed in Guard reinforcements to secure the bridgehead, the Arch Cleric counter attacked with traitor legionaries and a host of daemons. The Raven Guard were ready however, and their stoic defence soon turned into a further offensive, breaking the chaos attack and securing the Imperial hold on southern Aso.

Wavell was able to tell the good news to his overall commander, Lord General Montgomery. Montgomery was pleased, but worried at the same time, as he had just heard that the Raven Guard had also arrived in the Libria system and had not made contact with the loyalist forces under General Abrahams, forces which were now engaged with the Adeptus Mechanicus on Libria I. Could the Raven Guard be joining Vorushko's crusade in the Libria system.

Eldar advance on Gabriel's World

While the focus of the Imperium was fixed on events in the Zadoc subsector, the eldar continued their war on Gabriel's World in the Vastrid subsector. Their motives as yet still unknown, the Disciples of Ynead launched a second major offensive against the under-strength and under-equipped imperial garrison defending the vast but sparsely populated expanse of the world.

A regiment of the Novgorod guard had been posted to Gabriel's World by general Pollack, but no one had expected the ferocity of the attack launched by the eldar forces. The guard were torn apart and forced to retreat, and slowly the imperial commanders came round to the idea that the eldar may be serious about taking the world, rather than a corsair raid. However, with imperial forces hard pushed in the galactic east, it would be some time before significant reinforcements could be redirected to the strategically less important regions, if at all.