Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bothorion bridgehead annihilated, alliance withdraws

For almost a Terran year the forces of the alliance had kept watch on the orks from their bridgehead on Bothorion. For the most part the orks ignored them, as the eldar forces usually sent out to patrol would simply refuse to fight if challenged by the greenskins. The alliance was content to watch the orks and monitor any change in activity, but during 08_014M42 the ork warlords Na'Porkleon and Kogh seemed to come to an agreement, and had begun building up their forces on Bothorion dramatically.

Alliance intelligence suggested similar build up in ork activity across the sector, and the banners of Waagh Kogh and Na'Porkleon were being held aloft in the same locations, a clear sign that the two ork warlords had decided to work together. This was particularly alarming to the tau. All their experience with orks had suggested they were a brutal race with low intelligence. Nothing had prepared them for Na'Porkleon's "kunnin" and the Blood Axe way of being orky. They knew that if a Waagh! swept through the Mabb nebula and they lost their colonies of Tyndareous and Va'Doran, their entire position in the Zadoc subsector would be compromised. The Zadoc and Librian campaigns would have to be scaled back, and relations with the Federacy could be permanently damaged. Even the alliance with the eldar might cease to be of value to their more ancient comrades...

The tau decided to act, sending a large force to Bothorion in 08.014M42. Unfortunately the alliance had underestimated the strength of the orks, and soon the forces of Skyfall were hard pressed to contain a spirited and boistrous counter attack from the greenskins. The tau had sent what they thought was enough of a force to consolidate a defensible bridgehead as a base to launch further attacks, and at first the counter attack was held, until an ork Stompa arrived.

Surprised that sarch a large war engine even existed on such a small and unimportant world, the tau had no answer to the new threat. The massive clanking mechanical idol of the ork Gods careened through the tau lines, rocket fire pinging off its steel hull and raining sparks down on friend and foe alike. Scorched and blackened, the Stompa could however not be halted, and soon the entire tau perimeter was compromised. Few made it back to the orca dropships as the ork boyz followed their talisman of war into battle with frenzied confidence.

The alliance did not go back to Bothorion. Monitoring of the orks was now left to remote monitoring stations and drone arrays, while the tau leadership pondered what to do about their withering supply lines across the Zadoc subsector.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Libria V: Daralon Massacre

For several months since the intervention of the Tau in the Librian system, barring the unfortunate incident at the Mid-Belt space station, the crusade forces had been largely quiescent, with very little new offensives on Libira I, and no punitive raids carried out. To General Abrahams this was a blessing, to Hathek a worry. What was Vorushko up to?

Never-the-less Hathek and Abrahams had Libria V to concentrate on. Since 07.014M42 the Tau-Eldar and rebel forces had suffered a number of defeats seeing their territory shrink to a small bridgehead in the now snow bound north of the planet. Only the settlement of Jutesberg and its space port remained in alliance hands. Abrahams believed that one more push would secure the city and drive the tau off the world.

Defeat at Libria V would mean a terrible blow to the Federal aspirations of the librian rebels. It would also make the acquisition of Libria as a friendly system a much harder task to achieve by invasion alone and might convince the Federacy that involvement in tau wars was no longer profitable. This outcome was unacceptable to the tau ethereals, and without the knowledge of the imperium, commander Windgather and commander Frostblade landed on Libria V at the beginning of 08.014M42.

During the first week or so of 08.014M42 the tau commanders watched as the Librian loyalists built up huge forces of men and equipment to start their offensive on Jutesberg. The build up was slow and obvious, and by a stroke of good fortune the tau even found out the date and time of the beginning of the offensive and acted accordingly.

The Abrahams plan was to conduct a frontal assault on Jutesberg preceded by a ferocious artillery barrage. The infantry would attack in force, while the Librian armour would outflank the city across the snow covered Jute Plain south of lake Silverwood. On 1008.014M42, minutes before the attack was due to start, the tau launched their own offensive...

More than three regiments of Librian guard were caught out by the tau surprise attack. Attacking in poor weather and sub-zero temperatures, the Librians found the tau forces perfectly adapted for cold climate fighting, and it became apparent that a new commander had been brought in who had experience of polar terrain.

The tau quickly dealt with the imperial artillery, the biggest threat to Windgather's forces, in an efficient manner which Skyfall had failed to do, to his cost. With the artillery neutralised, the tau were then on the lookout for the Librian armour, but as the hours went on, the armoured force failed to materialise. Meanwhile, out on the snow plains of the north, the Librians died in their thousands, most unaware of where the killing shot came from, as the tau poured overwhelming firepower into the infantry formations whose snow camoflauge was useless against such a technologically advanced foe.

General Abrahams frantically tried to contact the Librian armour, who should still have been in their positions to outflank the tau. However a ferocious blizzard had now blown in, and visibility around the tanks was down to just a few feet. The armoured units were blind and helpless, and were simply bypassed by alliance forces. By the time the blizzard cleared the imperial tanks were completely surrounded by tau and rebel Librian forces, and were forced to surrender.

In the centre of the Actonia Valley the massacre was complete. Three Librian regiments had been wiped out and the tau swept into the settlement of Daralon on 1408.014M42. The alliance had pushed into a long salient cutting off North Springley from the rest of the region while dealing a crushing blow to imperial pride and resources. Abrahams had thought on 0908.014M42 that one more push would break the Libria V invasion, now it looked like the war would go on for some time. Worse still the success of the alliance had fomented more riots and rebellion across the planet, and each day more PDF regiments sided with the alliance. The bulk of Librians still remained loyal however, at least for now, but with over 2/3 of the imperial strength on Libria comprising of Librian regiments, Abrahams feared a general collapse of morale if victory was not delivered swiftly.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nemesis withdraws from minor campaigns

As 014M42 wore on, hive fleet Nemesis, which had by 08.014M42 devoured no fewer than six inhabited worlds in the Zadoc subsector, had apparently run out of steam. For many months the hive fleet itself had not been spotted in strength, and the Shadow in the Warp had become noticeably more fragmented and weaker. Inquisitor Huron and the local Ordo Xenos scholegium now considered the possibility that the hive fleet was beyond its peak and posed less of a threat than had been feared.

Already it had been reported that the Ork world of Memnon, formerly a tau colony, was no longer in contact with the tyranid menace. On New Cerberex, which had encountered the first vanguard elements of an infestation, engagements with the tyranids had become sporadic, then non existant from the beginning of 08.014M42. The planet was then declared "clean". Already in 013M42 the tendrils of the hive fleet had been repulsed from Bastien, and the Perseus Deeps had been cleared of the alien menace, but not Huron believed that the grip of nemesis had been loosened, perhaps permanently.

On Fort Sparcos against the orks, and on Grimlock, where nemesis had the forces of chaos besieged, the war went on, but the intensity of nemesis's attacks had lessened. This was almost too late for Grimlock, which had been ravaged nemesis, with much of the world turned barren and its atmosphere irevocably polluted. Fort Sparcos, lacking much in the way of natural life anyway, had suffered less, but the world was strewn with the ruins of fortifications, some active and some destroyed - with orks it is often hard to tell.

Inquisitor Huron did not believe the hive fleet would withdraw permanently from the sector. The hive fleet, though perhaps spent by the the long wars on Grimlock and Fort Sparcos, was still undefeated and at large, somewhere in the vast voids between worlds. Tired perhaps, and needing to rest, but until the hive fleet itself was brought to battle and annihilated, the threat from nemesis would remain very real.

Zadoc: Montene assaulted by Blood Angels

Soon after the defeat to commander Fastblade, the chaos forces suffered another setback on Zadoc. In the north west, the islands of Carriode and Hannuse had now been in traitor hands for nearly three months, and following a lull in the fighting on the world, the Imperium had been given enough breathing space to regroup and contemplate offensives once more.

The Blood Angels had faired less badly than other forces in the war on Zadoc, and were the first units able to respond against chaos. Seeking to hit back against the traitors where their small numbers would not hinder them, the astartes force targeted the city of Montene, the most important settlement in the north west, which had fallen to chaos on 0106.014M42.

Since the city had fallen the Arch Cleric had removed the majority of his forces from Hannuse to face the increasing threat of the alliance, and Montene was now defended by cultist forces and a small contingent of Emperor's Children. It was the traitor marines the Blood Angels targetted, rightly reasoning that a crushing blow against the genetically engineered supermen would precipitate a crushing collapse in enemy morale.

The Angels of Death lived up to their name as they performed a terror raid on Montene. During the engagement some traitor units gave a good account of themselves, but it became apparent that the Emperor's Children themselves did not believe that Montene was defensible. Across the city units of chaos astartes withdrew rather than face the Blood Angels' wrath, and in under two days the city had been reclaimed for the emperor, with the cultists fleeing into the hills of Hannuse and the Emperor's Children retreating off the island to the chaos hinterlands further east. Now the Imperium sent in the imperial guard, who would spend the next two weeks hunting down the cultists in the wilderness to the north of the city.

Friday, August 08, 2014

HYLAS: Sarina falls to Kogh

Hylas had by 07.012M42 become a forgotten conflict. The war against the greenskins had ground on for nearly two years and the front lines had been static for months. General Van Dorn, low on numbers and equipment had dug in across the planet, and the front lines had narrowed to two passable tracts of land north and south of the virtually impassable Hylas plateau.

In the south the Imperium had arranged a set of formidible defences which had not been breached in over a year, anchored on their left by the ocean and to their right by swamps, watched over by trained veteran units. In the north the ground was more open, and on these plains Warlord Kogh launched his new offensive on 0208.014M42, deep in the Hylas winter.

The orks approached the imperial defences across snowbound plains, and their advance was obvious from the plumes of white kicked up by the orkish vehicles, as well as the general noise and commotion of the greenskin advance. the Librian guardsmen were ready and waiting, and opened up with a ferocious barrage of fire.

Around the settlement of Sarina the orks took terrible punishment as they advanced, and soon the snow was littered with ruined ork vehicles and greenskin corpses. The Librians wondered why the orks continued to rush at them, but the effect was to pen the Librians in, isolating defensive positions. The imperial forces, despite their overwhelming firepower were just unable to turn the tide of the battle. Eventually on 0608.014M42 Sarina was abandoned as Van Dorn was concerned his remaining forces would be encircled. The imperial defenders retreated, giving up precious territory to the orks, little knowing that the greenskins had committed their reserves and one last resolute push may have broken the assault altogether. The ork gamble had paid off.

Libria: Encounter at Mid-Belt Defence Network

In late 07.014M42 a strange four sided engagement occurred at the Mid Belt Defence Network, a vast installation consisting of six interlocking space stations. Large enough to generate its own weak gravity field, the station, simply referred to as Mid-Belt, had been the bastion of defence for the Librian system for thousands of years. Even though Libria was collapsing from within, the station was crewed by loyalists who were preparing for an alliance attack, still oblivious to the crusade forces conducting their own war on Libria I. The last thing they expected was an attack by the forces of chaos.

The distress call was picked up by loyalist, crusade and alliance forces, and the news that the Mid-Belt station had taken in just a few hours by chaotic and daemonic forces was alarming to all sides. Within hours, all sides were preparing a response, ignorant of the fact they were about to run into each other as they fought for the strategically important station. The alliance decided to use the webway, sending a force of Biel Tann eldar. The Crusade despatched a force of Raven Guard, while the Blood Angels independently prepared to retake the station themselves.

The engagement itself was confused and violent. The Raven Guard arrived first but soon found themselves beseiged by an aggressive eldar assault. Judging that a hard and fast attack would put the engagement beyond question, the Biel Tann forces launched themselves at the chaos forces and Raven Guard, effectively penning them in to defensive positions. Then the Blood Angels arrived.

The chaos forces seemed stunned at the sudden invasion by four forces, and faired the worst in the engagement. The Raven Guard didn't manage to make significant inroads into the station, as the Blood Angels, enraged by the apparent disloyalty of fellow astartes, fought ferociously to ensure they didn't make progress. The eldar secured much of the station, but as the chaos forces and Raven Guard abandoned their positions and retreated, the xenos forces realised they had taken too many casualties to hold on to their gains in the face of an unbowed Blood Angels force. Disappearing into the webway the forces of Biel Tann made good their escape, leaving the loyalists to reclaim the Mid-Belt installation in the name of the emperor.