Sunday, October 26, 2014

Raids continue in the Vastrid subsector

Following her ultimatum to the Biel Tan, the princess of the Corsairs followed through on her threat. The warlike eldar were insulted and refused to leave, effectively daring here to declare war on her own kin. Instead Princess Motoko Kusanagi did something far worse. Through her contacts with the Shattered Silence kabal the outlaw eldar arranged for a force of dark eldar to ambush and expell the Biel Tan from Gabriel's world. This was an extreme act, and one which even her own followers had doubts about, but it achieved its goal. Horrified and taken by surprise, the Biel Tan were defeated by the dark eldar and abandoned the world.

Meanwhile the eldar and dark eldar launched raids on Aethor with unprecedented ferocity. The dark eldar of the Shattered Silence had turned up for easy profit, raiding the imperial guard forces on the planet, defeating the Vanaheim regiment stationed there and capturing over one thousand for slave labour. The Biel Tan also launced a raid and were similarly successful, although no slaves were taken. It seemed as if the eldar and their dark kin were once again working in concert, and the sighting of an eldar fleet in the system convinced General Veers, commander of the Perseus Deeps, that Aethor was now the target of a major eldar invasion.

The Dark Eldar decided to raid Protogonus once again in late 10.014M42. Following the defeat of the Shattered Silence another kabal decided to try their luck. If they could conduct a successful raid on the tau colony then they kabal would receive prestige as well as profit, in succeeding where the powerful Shattered Silence had failed. However when the dark eldar arrived on Protogonus they found the tau ready and prepared, and once again the tau discipline and firepower proved superior to dark eldar speed and agility. Despite suffering heavy casualties during a raid which lasted several hours, the tau force defending the main colony refused to surrender and kept on fighting to the last man. Their heroic defence was just enough to give the tau time to deploy reinforcements, and the arrival of Mantas over the battlefield swiftly led to the disappearance of the dark eldar invaders. Once again Protogonus had held out against the raiding dark eldar, although at heavy cost.

Mabb Nebula: Orks in retreat

While the Libria and Zadoc theatres of war grabbed headlines and the attention of senior commanders, the Mabb Nebula with its cluster of minor worlds saw an increase in hostile activity as the wars for the major worlds spilled over into the wider region. The tau, all too aware of their dangerously stretched supply lines, resolved to retake Memnon. To do that the tau knew that Bothorion, the other ork settled world in the region, would be a thorn in their side, and it was in fact a major reason why Memnon was lost in the first place.

Rahvan Malkeor was selected to be in overall command of the operation following his defence of Protogonus. With the help of the eldar alliance Malkeor was able to personally oversee preparations, utilising the webway to cross the sector in mere minutes. Although the tau were prevented from using the webway to transport armies, the eldar understood that allowing commanders more freedom of movement would improve the alliance without putting the webway itself at risk.

The tau force was only small, but large enough to deal with the ork threat, or so it was hoped. Things went well in the early assault however, as Malkeor was able to land his force without interception in space. Following their landfall the tau did find their way barred by orks loyal to Buzgob, a fact which in itself was alarming, once again demonstrating the wide reach of ork warlords in the sector. The tau were able to overwhelm the rather surprised greenskins however, and within a few days the first objectives of Snikfug and Duffrot had been secured for the greater good.

While the orks found their world of Bothorion invaded by the tau, they also suffered a reverse on Hylas. General Van Dorn launched yet another offensive on the planet following the success of the Mechanicum, taking Sarina on 2210.014M42 with Librian forces. Taking the city was the easy part, holding it against Buzgob's orks was more difficult. The counter attack came almost immediately, and while the Librians had initial success with their armoured units, the orks soon closed the gap between themselves and the human army, ripping apart units which stood in their way.

Fortunately for Van Dorn's offensive, the orks didn't have it all their own way. On their right imperial firepower caused the greenskins to flee, easing pressure on the imperial left. In the centre concentrated Kill Kannon fire did next to nothing thanks to woeful inaccuracy, and on their left the orks found themselves chasing shadows as the Librians, led by their commander, simply fled as fast as they could from the raging ork warlord, using the terrain as cover and refusing to face the orks in close combat if at all possible.

The cowardly human tactics bought the imperium time, and by 2810.014M42 Van Dorn had brought up reinforcements and dug in along the Sarina suburbs. Buzgob was forced to retreat, although the Librians suffered extremely heavily for the meagre gains. Nevertheless the imperium had now taken the initiative on Hylas, and once again started to believe they could win this long war after all...

ZADOC: Chaos continue advance

On Zadoc the war was now a straight battle between the forces of chaos, a conglomeration of armies loyal to three seperate factions who were for the moment united in their goals, and the alliance, another force comprised of different factions with different agendas. Self styled Warmaster Stahl had the initiative on Zadoc however, as the Arch Cleric's eye wandered once more to the Perseus Deeps. Stahl was concerned with the war at hand however, and on 2210.014M42 launched an assault on the Tau at the city of Arenoli.

The offensive was not the largest to have been launched by chaos on Zadoc, but the Iron Warriors were in this war for the long haul, determined to take down the alliance with a succession of grinding assaults which would eventually win them the war. Their assault on Arenoli was typically brutal and full frontal, immediately causing the tau, led by Aun Shayr, to go on to the defensive. However the tau knew that to defeat the Iron Warriors they needed to secure a number of strategically important objectives, and moved their heavier Riptide units forward to do this. The Iron Warriors then sprung their ambush, Maulerfiends pouncing on the tau battlesuits causing them to flee. Following up, the rest of the Iron Warriors gave the tau no time to fire on them from their carefully prepared defensives. and the rush caught the tau off guard.

Moving swiftly through the forests which surrounded the city, the tau struggled to achieve their usual overwhelming firepower, and were obliged to retreat or face certain doom in close assault. Attempting to keep the Iron Warriors at arms length the tau fell back, but Stahl's forces had their own heavy firepower, vindicators obliterating the retreating fire warriors as they attempted to reach the safety of their second line defences. Eventually the watching ethereal realised that to fight on was hopeless, and Arenoli was abandoned to the advancing chaos force. Now the alliance controlled only one more major city than their enemy, and they were decidely on the back foot.

Bastien: Iron Warriors defeat Imperial Fists but Arch Cleric defeated in space

Although the war on Zadoc against the alliance was far from decided, the defeat of the imperium on the subsector capital spurred on the Arch Cleric to put into effect the next part of his plan to reclaim the chaos empire. The alliance on Zadoc was an annoyance, but the plan all along had been to weaken the imperium to allow the recapture of the worlds in the Perseus Deeps - Bastien and Parthenope in particular, which had fallen to Veers crusade. the necrons had also claimed three chaos worlds for themselves, but the well defended Harakhty Dynasty had ceased its expansion and launching an attack on any of their worlds would almost certainly result in horrible defeat.

The Arch Cleric and the Word Bearers were in any case set on overthrowing the false emperor's servants, almost to the exclusion of all else. with this in mind the plan for the re-invasion of Bastien began to take form. Warmaster Stahl was at first unimpressed. The war on Zadoc was not concluded and the Iron Warrior leader was insistent that a new campaign in the Deeps would take great resources and weaken the position fo chaos. In addition his advisors favoured a gradual approach to retaking the Deeps, taking away the imperial supply bases one by one until Bastien was isolated and cut off. Stahl proposed an invasion of Minos, but the Word Bearers were adamant. A frontal assault would be launched, against Bastien. The Iron Warriors reluctantly agreed, and sent an initial force of ten thousand men to aid in the initial invasion. This force included over a hundred traitor marines and would help pave the way for the landings to come, but first the target needed to be softened up.

The Iron Warriors arrived at Bastien and were able to slip through the imperial defences with a small elite force travelling in chaos escort vessels. They landed near to the missile defence silos in the northern hemisphere and soon found their target defended by a large forec of Imperial Fists, who had arrived on Bastien as a precaution following the loss of Corticant station. Their hunch had been right and Bastien was the next target.

The Imperial Fists had deployed in a thin yellow line to the front of the main missile installation, the only viable path of attack open to any would be invader. The Iron Warriors accepted the challenge and advanced on the imperial positions, but before the Iron Warriors assault sections could strike the Imperial Fists opened up with a withering hail of fire, crippling Rhinos in an attempt to stall the advance. Despite the initial fusillade the Iron Warriors were already dug in and no significant damage was taken to the Maulerfiends and no Iron Warriors fell.

The chaos attack consisted simply of a headlong dash across no mans land into the teeth of the Imperial Fists' guns. Then the Imperial Fists realised their errors. On the left flank, in an attempt to secure a section of old ruins an Imperial Fists combat squad had left itself out of position and in range of a Maulerfiend, who gleefully attacked tearing them apart. On the right the Imperial Fists had also advanced, in an attempt to stall the advance of the Iron Warriors. Instead this simply allowed the Spawn to attack all the quicker, trapping the Librarian and the Marines in a brutal battle of attrition.

The Codicier commander in the centre was quickly losing control of the battle, with the Iron Warriors overrunning the left, right and about to attack the centre. He felt the build up of pressure within the warp, having lost more than half his force already and Hellbrute reinforcements about the close the trap he sounded the retreat. Moments later, the Codicier was torn apart by the Maulerfiends. The loyalist casualties mounted as the retreat became a full rout and the Iron Warriors took their opportunity to vent their hatred on the Imperial Fists.

The defeat of the space marines at the Bastien Missile Silo meant the orbital defences of the world had suffered a serious blow. Only the imperial fleet now stood between the forces of chaos and a full invasion of the most important imperial asset in the region. In the weeks since the imperial fleet's defeat against Tragean, Admiral Jellicoe had re-organised his battlegroups. He now had four larger battlegroups instead of the previous six. The battlegroups were assigned to the Vastrid and Zadoc subsectors, and one remained in the Deeps. Admiral Pendragon's fleet, under rapair at Vastrid, was kept as a rapid reaction force.

Jellicoe placed Admiral beattie in charge of the fleet in the Zadoc subsector, giving command of the Vastrid battlegroup to Admiral Cardale. The Perseus Deeps command he kept himself, and two battleships including Iron Duke were assigned to the region. However as 10.014M42 came to an end Jellicoe still had three of his battleships in refit or under repair, and he was forced to split his forces to cover various threats in the Perseus Deeps. To Bastien he assigned a powerful flotilla of six cruisers and three sword class excorts. No sooner had the force arrived, than the Word Bearer's fleet appeared at the Deep Space jump point.

The Arch Cleric had not brought his full invasion fleet. The chaos vessels were at Bastien with one purpose; clear the system of imperial vessels to pave the way for invasion, and as soon as they reappeared from their warp transit the six cruisers and one battleship of the chaos fleet moved in system to face their enemy.

The chaos fleet followed standard doctrine, forming a traditional battle arc across the imperial "T", bringing their long range weapons batteries and staggering lance fire into play as soon as possible. The imperial fleet, led by the battlecruiser Valiant stuck to their own naval standing orders, facing the enemy and firing their three nova cannons at the enemy to break up his formation. The results went badly for the imperium early on as Valiant took crippling damage from the ferocious chaos lance fire, while the Illustrious, Benbow and Implacable were unable to land telling hits with their massive firepower. As the fleets slowly converged the Valiant disengaged, burning, and the carrier Drake found herself exposed on the starboard wing of the imperial fleet. The salvaged dictator cruiser took hit after hit, and she seemed unable to disengage and more prone to damage than would be expected of a standard imperial cruiser. At 14:23 local time the ex-rogue trader vessel detonated spectacularly, but fortunately the rest of the imperial fleet was able to get well clear of the explosion and avoided damage.

The loss of Drake had not been the first casualty of the battle. The hades class Sword of Ajax had decided to close directly with the imperial fleet to ensure all her lances were able to come to bear on the imperial fleet, but this move exposed her to the full firepower of Jellicoe's vessels, and eventually she was obliterated in an enormous fireball.

The battle continued with the imperial fleet attempting to edge behind the main chaos battle line while the Word Bearer's strove to keep the imperial fleet at arms length at a range where their own weapons could fire but the shorter ranged imperial batteries were unable to reply. However this tactic allowed the imperium to repeatedly pummel the chaos vessels with nova cannon fire, and the battleship Savage Messiah took heavy damage before quitting the battlefield. Worse was to follow for the chaos fleet, as the imperium first hulked the Fortress of Hate after finishing her off with waves of bombers from Illustrious, and a lucky salvo of nova cannon fire reduced Divine Anarchy to wreckage in scant minutes.

The gothic class Hogue was badly damaged in the engagement, but at 16:00 the chaos admiral abandoned the attack leaving the imperial fleet in control of the Bastien system. The imperial fleet had won a substantial victory and prevented the invasion of the world at least for the time being.

Order of Battle

Valiant (Crippled)
Hogue (Crippled)
Drake (Exploded)
3 swords

Savage Messiah (Crippled)
Sword of Ajax (Exploded)
Fortress of Hate (Hulked)
Warp Revelator
Divine Anarchy (Hulked)
Agonising Demise
Unholy Flame

Vastrid raids

The Vastrid subsector continued to see increased activity as 10.014M42 progressed, stirred up mostly by the arrival of the Biel Tan to the subsector in force, and the discovery of the latent tyranid threat. Both the Biel Tan eldar and dark eldar forces raided the ork world of Aspaster, with the Biel Tan motivated by a need to find out the strength of the greenskins in the region. Their motives were unclear, and in any case orks loyal to warlord Buzgob gave the alien interlopers a bloody nose, further adding to the woes of the eldar warhost. The dark eldar, keen to restock their slave resources, carried out a far more successful strike on Aspaster however, carting off several thousand bellowing greenskins to serve their industries in Commorragh. The Vastrid sector was becoming a more expensive venture, but one with tantalising rewards, and various kabals began vying for pre-eminence in the exploitation of the region.

The Biel Tan also fell foul of a raid themselves. Warmaster Stahl, keen to understand why the eldar had arrived on the left flank of his domain, sent a small force of his own to their last known location, the corsair eldar held planet of Gabriel's World. Sure enough a force of eldar remained on the planet, and were swiftly defeated in an ambush from which Stahl was able to take valuable eldar prisoners. The presence of yet another hostile force on her domain was the last straw for Princess Motoko Kusanagi, and the Corsair leader gave the warriors of Biel Tan an ultimatum. Quit the world or she would remove them herself.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chaos advance on all fronts

During 10.014M42 the activities of the servants of the dark gods indicated that their power was once again rising, although only a few realised it. The eldar perhaps forsaw the machinations of chaos, and some in the inquition were certainly becoming alarmed, although with the librian heresy ongoing and the new threats rising in the Vastrid sector, their warnings largely went unheaded by the head of the sector, Titus Luthor. Luthor was in fact pre-occupied with attempting to bring the Crusade and loyalist forces back together, though with little success. Inquisitor Vorushko warned Luthor not to aid her enemy, Hathek, but the imperial commander was in a tight spot indeed, caught between two warring inquisitor lords.

While Luthor vascillated, Chaos acted. The Arch Cleric struck again in the Zadoc subsector. After the Word Bearers and their daemonic allies had failed on Tyranteous, they had moved on and taken half of the subsector capital itself, although the Alliance had become involved and thwarted his plans, at least for now. This time the chaos despot put in motion a new plan, attacking the orks on Fort Aerin. The Arch Cleric knew that control of this strategic location would threaten the alliance supply lines in the Mabb nebula, so on 2010.014M42 the now familar daemonic hordes fell upon the greenskins of Otto Von Bismork, who was using the base to tranfer his forces into the Zadoc subsector from the Vork Ork Expanse. The orks, taken by surprise, were routed, allowing the Word Bearers to gain a foothold on the fortress world.

Meanwhile Warsmith Stahl was not to be outdone by his chaotic rival. The Iron Warriors leader launched a new offensive on Zadoc, attacking the city of Andisele which had recently been seized by the alliance. Stahl had received intriguing intelligence from a despised but useful tzeentch sorcerer, whose scrying had determined that while the alliance were engaged in finishing off the imperium in the west, they had left Andisele relatively unguarded. Lacking sufficient troops to effectively garrison all their cities on the world, the Rillietan had arranged for the Shattered Silence to hold the city while more tau forces were brought up. This was unfortunate for the alliance however.

The Archon of the Shattered Silence, already under threat from rivals within in his own domain, used this as an opportunity. Although publicly defending his daliance with the alliance, the Archon of the dark eldar kabal grew tired of his obligations to the harlequins, and the forces he sent to Zadoc were untried in battle, and lead by a particularly ruthless and hot headed commander who saw himself as a future leader of the kabal. The dark eldar occupation of Andisele was particularly unpleasant for the inhabitants, though thankfully brief. For three days the twisted kin of the eldar ransacked the city, enslaving thousands and carting them off into the webway, before the Iron Warriors attacked. The dark eldar commander, rash and overconfident, immediately attacked the chaos forces, allowing Stahls men to get up close and personal. The battle was brutal and brief. After the lead elements of the dark eldar were annihilated, the remainder fled into the webway. The dwindling residents of the former imperial city now had one despotic and brutal regime replaced by another, as the city was claimed by chaos.

The next blow fell in an unexpected place. For weeks the imperial navy had been covering up the fact that in 08.014M42 admiral Cardale's battlegroup had been ambushed near Mordecai with the loss of the battleship Resolution, the Oberon class battleship having been reduced to a hulk by Lord Tragean's fleet. While Jellicoe had the venerable battleship towed to Vastrid, he kept secret from Titus Luthor the fact that a powerful battlegroup was now at large in the Perseus Deeps. In accordance with both Stahl's and the Arch Cleric's plans, Lord Tragean moved on to Corticant, where the Necron forces had lapsed into an attritional trench war against the imperial forces. However it was not for Corticant itself that Tragean's forces arrived at Corticant on 1910.014M42, but for the large and strategically vital space station in the system. A station which served as a supply base for imperial fleets acting in the Deeps.Jellicoe had suspected such a move, and had Admiral Pendragon's fleet return from the Vastrid subsector for repairs at Corticant. If Tragean moved against the station there, his fleet would be waiting.

The chaos warfleet detected the imperial battlegroup and immediately went to battle stations. Pendragon's vessels attempted to close quickly, but confusion and miscommunication meant the imperial vessels became strung out, closing with the chaos fleet one at a time rather than in a coherent formation. Worse, their dominator class vessel, Sir Tristran, was well off the mark with its long range nova cannon, and the mighty weapon did next to no damage throughout the engagement. One by one Pendragon's vessels were crippled from the massive macrocannon and lance fire of Tragean's fleet, and were forced to disengage. The grand cruiser Sir Bors landed a few hits before being crippled, but the imperial fleet had four capital vessels badly damaged, while Tragean's fleet were left with only superficial damage. It could have been far worse however, as the shooting on both sides was particularly inaccurate, and Pendragon was in fact lucky not to lose at least one capital vessel. The battered imperial fleet limped back to dock at Farport, abandoning the station at Corticant to its fate.

The result was inevitable. The Corticant station was no fighting installation, and though it fired its weapons at the advancing chaos fleet, they had no effect as the chaos vessels simply stood off at long range and pummelled the imperial installation to ruins. Once disabled, the chaos admiral allowed his khornate worshippers the final kill, and thousands of imperial navy personell met their end hacked apart by chain axes, claws and clubs in the ensuing boarding actions. The forces of chaos, acting together, had taken out a key imperial installation, and the imperium waited and wondered where they would strike next. They didn't have long to wait.

Libria III: Rebels launch offensive

While the alliance continued to fight on Libria V, the librian separatists continued to fight alone with the resources they had to hand. Fortunately the rebels still held the northern province of Ljung Juin, which contained the vital industrial complex at Shenzen. With this strategic asset the rebels were able to continue production of Leman Russ battle tanks and other military vehicles at a prodigious rate, which had the effect of prolonging the conflict, which since the opening moves had degenerated into a bloody stalemate.

The imperial commanders, their HQ currently based on the loyalist Libria IV, were able to send only meagre forces to Lord General Josiah Garrett in command on Libria III, thanks to the continued alliance blockade of the system. Despite this iron grip, the UFP and tau fleets couldn't be everywhere at once, and admiral Jellicoe allowed a small number of fast escorts, mostly cobra class destroyers, to run the gauntlet of the alliance forces. A steady if small stream of imperial ground forces therefore trickled into Josiah's theatre of war, the most recent arrivals being two regiments of Vanaheim guard. Along with these forces Garrett received an additional boon when the adeptus mechanicus managed to smuggle in a small force of their own.

Seeing this slow build up, the Librian rebels decided to launch an offensive against these untested forces, and in mid 10.014M42 they attacked without warning into South Vale towards the megacity of Lazarus. Rebel General Waltham, in command in the south, threw his highly mechanised forces into the fray, attempting to split the loyalist forces in two at the Varus Isthmus. In this they were succesful, as their armoured thrust proved difficult to stop for the Vanaheim army, despite the support of Mechanicum equipment.

The Vanaheim forces made a number of inexperienced mistakes, such as their infantry being caught in the open against oncoming Leman Russ, but the rebel artillery support from their basilisk batteries proved the decisive weapon. Coming under sustained and accurate bombardment as the rebels advanced, the Vanaheim troops were unable to mount a significant counter attack. The Mechanicus forces acquitted themselves well, accounting for a high casualty rate amongst the rebels, but by 2210.014M42 the rebels had reached the Genedal Sea and were shelling the outskirts of Lazarus itself. Back on Libria IV, there wasn't much General Abrahams could do about it. Even so, without external intervention, the war on Libria III looked like lasting a very long time indeed.

Imperial strike back on Glossop V

The Biel Tan invasion of Glossop V was dealt with ruthlessly by the imperium once the reinforcements had arrived. In addition to an imperial guard regiment General Pollack now had two companies of Astartes ready to engage the enemy, and an Adeptus Mechanicus task force. After a brief discussion a plan was agreed. The Biel Tan would be dealt with first and the advance guard of hive fleet Medusa second.

The Astartes were the first to strike, with both the Dark Angels and Imperial Fists organising their forces into small patrols in order to locate the enemy and pin them down for the larger Mechanicum and guard forces to mop up. Both astartes chapters were succesful in their mission, with both the Imperial Fists and Dark Angels successfully engaging and destroying Biel Tan forces and allowing the Mechanicum to engage the main eldar warhost. In two subsequent actions the Adeptus Mechanicus forces battered the eldar back to their warp gate, and the xenos were obliged to abandon their bridgehead on the world. After 2010.014M42 no further eldar forces were encountered and the world was declared free of one of the two xenos species which had recently been discovered. Now the imperium turned their attention to the tyranid threat.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The end of the Imperium on Zadoc

The end of the imperial presence on the subsector capital was both bloody and shameful, as the imperium, now leaderless, suffered one final ignominious defeat as Windgather's army arrived at Hannuse island. The tau forces landed on both sides of the island, catching a regiment of Vanaheim guard in a vice they could not excape. Though they fought with tenacity, the imperial soldiers were outgunned and outmanouvered once again, as the tau showed their mastery over the servants of the emperor.

As the Vanaheim Guard died in a heroic struggle to hold Montene for as long as possible, the Novgorod Guard, used so often as cannon-fodder by imperial generals, finally revolted as they realised that the evacuation of imperial forces from Montene included their equipment, but not the men. The Imperial Fists were called in to protect the remaining space port from their own side, and a ring of yellow clad super humans formed the last line of defence of the imperium on Zadoc. The Novgorod regiment attacked them none-the-less, and a brutal bloody engagement left thousands dead and left the tau and chaos forces on Zadoc in no doubt that the imperium was finished on the world. The last imperial citizens escaped on 2010.014M42, leaving the planet to be fought over by the alliance and ruinous powers.

Medusa arrive on Glossop V

In mid 10.014M42 the arrival of the Biel Tan on Glossop V had taken the imperium by surprise and allowed the eldar to gain a foothold on the small imperial colony. However the outbreak of violence on the planet stirred into life the advance guard of the tyranid hive fleet "Medusa", as the hive mind realised that an escalation of hostilities between the eldar and imperium would inevitably lead to an escalation of forces on both sides. This was detrimental to the plans of Medusa, which had been patiently building up its biomass in order to swamp the defenders in one overwhelming assault.

Medusa's plans now changed, and on 1210.014M42 tyranid forces ambushed and slaughtered a patrol of the eldar on the plains between their own webway portal and the imperial lines. The arrival of Medusa on Glossop V caused alarm in imperial circles, but General Pollack, commander of Cerrack Nebula operations, determined that the Biel Tan were now vulnereable. He requested reinforcements, and within days a Dark Angels strike cruiser, a force of Imperial Fists and the Adeptus Mechanicus had arrived in orbit above Glossop V. The tyranids had defeated the eldar, but precipitated the start of a military build up on Glossop V which threatened their insidious plans in the Cerrack Nebula.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shattered Silence raid Protogonus

While the alliance continued their campaign in the Zadoc subsector the Shattered Silence kabal decided to take the opportunity of a potential profit making venture in the depths of space between the subsectors. Far from the Aleph expansion sphere and won from the imperium in .006M42, Protogonus had grown into a small but succesful tau colony. It was however in the middle of nowhere and not strategically useful to the tau. To the dark eldar it was situated in an ideal position from where raids could be launched across the sector. With this in mind the Archon of the Shattered Silence sanctioned an exploratory assault.

Truth be told however the leader of the kabal was not having everything his own way. His dalliance with the Rillietan and his acceptance of their missions on behalf of the alliance had led to private scorn and derision of his leadership. Where was the profit in helping the tau and eldar? Several lieutenants were now openly challenging the Archon's right to rule, but rather than challenge them, he sought a more ingenious way to assess their danger.

And so it was not the Archon himself who led the raid on Protogonus, and critically the leader of the Shattered Silence had failed to inform his lieutenant of the exact strength of the tau defending their remote outpost. The dark eldar suffered a mauling on the tau colony, and the reputation of the Shattered Silence was temporarily dented. However one challenger to the Archon's leadership had been effectively neutralised.

Libria V: Tau drive deeper into Acronia Valley

Additional tau forces arrived on Libria V during 10.014M42 as the alliance, almost free from fighting a two front war on Zadoc pushed more resources into the Librian venture. The Federacy were unwilling to commit significant troops without almost guaranteed success, and the Librian rebels were bogged down in an attritional stalemate on Libria III. The Crusade forces had for now discontinued their assaults on the loyalists on Libria I, so general Alexander was free to concentrate on the alliance invasion of Libria V, despite the fact that Admiral Jellicoe's forces were unable, or unwilling, to break the alliance blockade of the system.

The tau reinforcements immediately showed their worth in a textbook assault of Gold River, the last imperial stronghold in the north. The tau forces were inexperienced, which allowed the loyalist Librian forces to score early successes, especially when Demolisher siege tanks caught tau fire warriors in the open. However the tau soon learned from this, and their aggressive strike by tau battle suits into the heart of enemy lines proved decisive. The Librians took too long dealing with this threat, and lost vital ground as the tau moved up to consolidate their positions. Gold River was almost abandoned and Alexander now found his forces in the north cut off from the rest of his army south of the Gold River.

Analysis by the imperium pointed to a lack of air and artillery support as being critical to losses against the tau, and the Departmento Munitorium put out an urgent request for additional units of Basilisks and Wyverns. Air support was more difficult, for as long as the alliance remained in control of Librian space, the tau would continue to enjoy complete air supremacy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Biel Tan assault Glossop V

Following the uncovering of Hive Fleet Medusa by the Biel Tan, the Corsair princess Kusanagi had been less than gracious to her kin. She barely acknowledged them on what she considered her world, and in any case there was no love lost between the two factions. The Biel Tan hadn't arrived to save the corsairs, but to prevent Medusa from gaining a foothold in the Cerrack Nebula from where it would be in easy range of attacking the Biel Tan's own target, Glossop V.

The Biel Tan farseer had long decided that Glossop V, along with several other worlds on the eastern rim, should once again belong to the eldar race, and that the time to rebuild the ancient empire had come. It would take a long time, but the eldar have patience in abundance. Now the imperium was showing weakness, the conquest of Glossop V would be all the easier.

Activating long thought dormant webway portals the Biel Tan began amassing forces on the surface of the imperial outpost. Knowing the planet was far too large and sparsely populated for the imperium to cover all of it with reconaissance, and trusting in their own stealth technology, the Biel Tan believed they would be able to amass overwhleming force before striking the planet's capital in a surprise attack. However, the imperium already knew they were coming.

Using her contacts, the princess of Gabriel's World gave word of the Biel Tan attack to Inquisitor Carmillas of the Ordo Xenos, a human she had had dealings with before. Though her relationship with the inquisitor was shrouded in secrecy, she none the less tipped of the imperium to her kin's plans. When Biel Tan arrived, Inquisitor Carmillas was waiting.

A furious action erupted around Carmillas' small task force, which suffered heavy casualties before withdrawing. By attacking forcefully the eldar had managed to gain a foothold, but now time was of the essence as the inquisitor had alerted the imperial defenders. With as much haste as they dared the Biel Tan craftworld rapidly deployed as many fast moving units as they could, while watching all the time for the imperial approach. Some hours later the first imperial column arrived in the wilderness, searching for their enemy and first contact was made.

Unfortunately for the imperium, despite the warning from Carmillas, it takes time for a co-ordinated response to be mounted, and with Vastrid such a backwater, Titus Luthor had generally deployed he least well equipped and least experienced forces to the region. As such the imperial guard sent to search for the invading xenos squarely blundered into an eldar ambush, and the Biel Tan made light work of them. The imperial governor appealled for off world intervention as the Biel Tan systematically took out the listening posts dotted around the small imperial colony. By 1310.014M42 all contact with outlying settlements had been lost, and only the capital and spaceport remained in imperial hands.

Imperium: Zadoc "almost certainly lost"

The response by the forces of chaos to the new offensive by the alliance on Zadoc was swift, but didn't involve an immediate attack on tau or eldar forces. Instead a large force of Emperor's Children, Iron Warriors and Word Bearers was assembled on the chaos held Ascobabria. On 1010_014M42 they launched a major assault over the Saregri Ocean, utilising their daemonforge located in the north to construct hundreds of airborne engines which swiftly carried their armies over the sea. Blanketed in blasphemuos fog and daemonic energies, the task force was attacked en route by the imperial navy, to little effect. Within hours the forces of chaos had made their landing on the south of Riontas and were driving towards Rodenze.

Wavell, alarmed at the failure of the navy to prevent such a coordinated attack, deployed his guard regiments on the obvious routes of advance to the imperial capital.The Raven Guard also joined the imperial defenders at the Garviel installation, a massive manufacturing complex which provided almost ten percent of the planet's imperial tithe on its own.

The forces of chaos did indeed make Garviel a focal point of their advance, and concentrated elite forces to take the installation, while cultist and traitor guard forces confronted the imperial army, now mainly consisting of the Zadoc PDF, defending Rodenze. At Garviel traitor marines of the Emperor's Children and Iron Warriors legion went into battle personally, while the Arch Cleric unleashed a host of daemons who eagerly joined the fray.

The Raven Guard, expecting this, launched their own pre-emptive strike against the purple liveried Emperor's Children, attempting to separate their forces from the rest of the host. Meanwhile the Librian and other guard forces marched forward bravely towards the Iron Warriors.

Unfortunately for the imperium, the Raven Warriors' strike was unsuccessful, and the daemons of Nurgle thwarted the attempt to gain a key objective on the left flank of the imperial line. While the Raven Guard attempted to push home their attack, suffering ever increasing casualties, on the imperial right, Iron Warrior forces accompanied by Emperor's Children terminators scythed throught the imperial lines. Thousands of guardsmen were massacred and the Librians began to break, many throwing down their weapons and running for their lives. The armoured units suffered badly as well, as Iron Warrior Mauler Fiends strode over the ruined shell of Garviel complex, seemingly immune to massed melta, lascannon and vanquisher cannon shells. Eventually both monstrous engines were felled by overwhelming firepower, but not before the imperial forces had been well and truly dislodged from the installation.

By 1210.014M42 the Garviel complex was lost, and the imperial retreat cut by fast moving daemonic forces. The imperial force had fought bravely, but in vain, as the overwhelming pressure on the defence lines around Rodenze finally collapsed. General Wavell disappeared, his fate unknown, while the remaining imperial forces on Riontas attempted to flee or surrender to the alliance. Few were able, as flying daemons soon made hiding impossible, and there was much consternation as the tau on the northern coast simply watched as the massacre unfolded, judging the risk too high and any gains too small to justify intervening.

By mid-10.014M42 the remaining city belonging to the imperium on Zadoc was Montene, itself a ruin, defended by a few regiments of Guard and a few hundred space marines who themselves were considering whether or not it made sense to continue fighting in this way on Zadoc. On Vastrid, Titus Luthor recieved the grim news but refused to send reinforcements while the situation was still so volatile on Libria. It was now almost certain that Zadoc would be lost to the imperium, at least for the time being - the second subsector capital of the sector to slip out of the imperium's hands.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Hive Fleet Medusa

The tyranids found by the eldar on Gabriel's World were not confined to the eldar planet. Although the eldar and imperial forces did not exchange intelligence willingly, both sides listened in on each other's business and both were soon to become aware of the nascent threat facing both in the Cerrack Nebula. Just days after the botched eradication attempt on the Corsair world, the tyranid menace surfaced on the imperial held world of Quim.

Quim had been quiet since its suppression in 012M42, so the imperial guard stationed there were not expecting to fight, nor were they well equipped to deal with the sudden and furious assault by the alien creatures. As a small outpost, Quim had one large settlement and several smaller ones, protected by a ring of forts and regular imperial patrols. It was one such patrol that faced a sudden ambush on 0610_014M42, and after a fierce close quarters struggle, only a few remnants of the imperial patrol managed to stagger back to the capital, Camiel.

It was now clear that hive fleet Nemesis, although apparently in decline, was not the only tendril of the tyranid menace active in the sector. Another had been discovered and the evidence was passed back to the Inquisition, who made a positive match with some of the biological samples acquired on Quim. By the end of 10.014M42 the hive fleet had a designation "Medusa".

Hylas: Von Bismork defeated, Mechanicum reverse Imperial losses

During 10.014M42 the long war on Hylas continued on the northern plains, with the arrival of a new ork Warlord to the region, styling himself as "Otto Von Bismork". Already engaged on Zadoc, the greenskin leader decided it would be a good idea to get involved in the war on Hylas, particularly if he could win it for the ork race and steal the glory from Na'Porkleon and Kogh. He managed to convince his fellow ork warlords that he was the ork of the moment to swing the war decisively in the orks' favour, mainly by shouting loudly and getting his boyz to fire wildly into the sky. Nonplussed, the other greenskin warlords were content to let Bismork's boyz "have a good scrap", since both knew that the Mechanicum had recently arrived on Hylas in order to protect their interests - notably a research facility - in Seaford in the far east of the continent of Hylas.

For several months the war had gone quiet on Hylas as both Na'Porkleon and Kogh were wary of their new foe's abilities, and while longing for a fight, were not stupid enough to throw away years of work if the new humans had some underhand "kunnin". So they were more than happy to let Bismork test out the threat.

In the end the threat turned out to be imperial guard forces with added support, but this none-the-less was adequate to defeat Bismork's first assault. Na'Porkleon and Kogh were pleased. The threat had been assessed as manageable, and with insignificant loss of territory or boyz. Well their boyz anyway.

Biel Tan arrive in Vastrid subsector

War returned with a vengeance to the Vastrid subsector as the eldar of the Biel Tan craftworld began acting more aggressively towards various forces in the region. At first the attacks were small and unsuccessful, with the Novgorod regiment posted to Glossop V easily fending off the surprise attack which occurred on 0410.014M42. The success was short lived however, as the eldar forces returned in larger numbers and with more powerful forces, destroying another imperial guard force at one of the outposts protecting the capital and only spaceport. The eldar then melted away into the vast wilderness areas of the largely uninhabited world, but the commander on the ground suspected they would be back.

At the same time another force of Biel Tan arrived unexpectedly on the Corsair planet of Gabriel's World, although they had not been contacted by their brethren and made no attempt to communicate with them. As soon as they had landed the eldar host moved swiftly towards their objective, uncovering a previously unknown minor tyranid infestation. By their actions however, the previously covert actions of the tyranids soon turned more aggressive, and the alien creatures launched a ferocious defence, almost annihilating the Biel Tan host that had come to eradicate them.

The actions of the Biel Tan resulted in a swifter than usual response from the imperial navy. Concerned by the recent attacks and convinced there must be a significant eldar naval presence in the area, admiral Jellicoe consented to the dispatch of Admiral Pendragon's fleet as well as Commodore Sommerville's battlegroup. The combined fleet, the largest deployed to the Vastrid subsector in many years, soon found more than they had bargained for. By their deployment the dark eldar of Drift became alarmed that their activities would be uncovered, and that they may even lose Slaughterpoint station, which although did not belong to the Shattered Silence kabal, was still coveted by their Archon.

The imperial fleet soon found itself being shadowed by the dark eldar of the Shattered Silence, and attempted to bring their combined force to bear on the smaller xenos fleet. However just as battle was joined, a large host of Biel Tan warships, the very ones the imperium had been looking for, arrived and quickly entered the fray. The imperial vessels were totally outmaneuvered by their opponents, and were sooon chasing shadows as they weaved crazily across the void, all the while being harassed by the combined eldar/dark eldar force. During the engagement the imperium lost three vessels, all reduced to hulks, while the rest were either crippled or fled the field. Only Pendragon's flagship, the Sir Gallahad, escaped with no damage at all, and the remaining battered fleet returned to dock at Vastrid, where admiral Jellicoe administered a stern rebuke to his subordinate. For now the eldar had the upper hand in the Cerrack Nebula, and Jellicoe had few resources to spare hunting down the eldar threat.

Zadoc: Alliance gains

After months of relative quiet on Zadoc, the alliance, despite being heavily engaged in the Librian Heresy, launched dual campaigns against their enemies. It began a new phase of violence of Zadoc as the tau high command, in concert with their eldar allies, decided to force the issue on Zadoc. It was time for all out war.

The main thrust of the campaign came without commander Windgather, who had transferred his forces west for the initial thrust against the Imperium on the island continent of Riontas. Instead new tau units were thrown in to the assault against chaos, with the aid of the eldar who had been on Zadoc throughout. The attack came in early 10.014M42 against the last city on mainland Zadoc held by the Arch Lector's forces, the strategically vital Jordosett, which had been fought over and changed hands several times in the campaign. The build up was obvious to the forces of chaos, and the Arch Lector was able to enlist the help of some allies in the defence of the city.

Following the victory of chaos over the orks on Zoggot, word of the battle had swiftly spread amongst the greenskins of the sector. Greenskins being greenskins, they were far more amenable to the overtures from the Arch Lector having heard of his forces defeat of fellow orks, and the ork warlord styling himself as "Otto Von Bismork" saw an opportunity to enhance his image and get one over on his rival Na'Porkleon by throwing in his lot with chaos, at least for the time being. Soon the orks began flooding in to the Zadoc system, their ungainly craft largely making it through the tau blockade thanks to their sheer numbers and random arrival. Several ork roks were destroyed, but thousands of orks crash landed north of Jordosett ready to join in the coming scrap.

The assault itself was a violent battle, as the alliance brought overwhelming firepower to the battlefield. During the engagement the entire city of Jordosett was practically levelled, and the alliance inflicted serious losses on the Arch Lector's armies. Even so the sheer number of orks slowed the alliance advance, but by 0810.014M42 the Arch lector had lost the city and his forces were confined to a small bridgehead on the mainland.

In the far west Windgather executed an almost flawless landing on the imperial held isle of Riontas. The Novgorod guard, now veterans of the Zadoc campaign, defended the city of Arenoli with bravery, despite being no match for the alliance firepower. Almost inevitably Arenoli fell just a few days after the landings and the imperial line was bent back towards the heart of Riontas. The imperium now had only one city left, Rodenze, and despite vowing to counter attack, General Wavell was staring utter defeat in the face, and with the Librian Heresy occupying much of the imperial high command's attention, he knew that reinforcements would not be forthcoming. The imperium had entered the end game on Zadoc.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Battle of Zoggot

For months the uneasy truce between chaos and ork forces had held in the Zoggot system. Although posessing no significant resources, the position of this inhabitable system and related facilities made it a crucial waystation - as it once was in the days when mankind controlled the subsector aeons ago. for years the orks of the Vork Ork expanse and the traitor legions who controlled much of the Enceladus subsector had vied over the system, but in 013M42 the Iron Warrior's leader captain Stahl had arranged a ceasefire in order to pursue his campaigns in the Zadoc subsector.

With the Iron Warriors largely dug in and and on the defensive on Zadoc and the Arch Cleric now leading the chaos forces, both sides decided that the cease fire was no longer desirable, and both sides drew up plans to ensure they controlled the Zoggot system going forward. For the orks there was less strategy at work. There were no critivcal supply lines running through the area, but the orks were certainly bored, and had lots of new war toys to play with...

The battle of Zoggot which developed was therefore out of all proportion, in terms of forces committed, to the actual worth of Zoggot. For the Arch Cleric the Emperor's Children committed almost half their strength, including a mysterious yet powerful figure rumoured to be the Primarch Fulgrim. The Arch Cleric himself deployed several armies of cultists, supplemented by a large daemonic outbreak, chiefly of large and particularly violent greater daemons and daemon princes. The Iron Warriors even supplemented this force with daemonic war engines.

The chaos forces were attempting to bring to bear overwhelming force, but the orks had been building up their forces simply because it was in their nature. When the Arch Cleric attacked in 09_014M42, he found a host of orks ready and willing to do battle, supported by Stompa war machines and hordes of boyz. Several warbands from Waagh! Kogh and Waagh! Na'Porkleon had also joined in for some fun, as the chaos build up had soon got round the local ork forces, and greenskins began flocking to the system in anticipation of a "good fight". The chaos forces even picked up on this, choosing to launch their offensive several days early and before they had reached their full strength.

The result was an evenly balanced pitch battle along a very long front. Violence raged for days along a three hundred mile line delineating the ork and chaos held sections of Zoggot. But this wasn't about territory, this was a brawl to the death.

At the start the forces of chaos made the most gains, destroying ork vehicles and massacring boyz at a rate which seemed to suggest a quick victory, but after the initial successes, withering fire from lootas and Stompaz checked the chaos advance. Of particular note was the Mekboy Stompa, which employed a rarely encountered "Lifta-Droppa", accounting for the loss of the elite chaos forces in their land raiders and spartans. Soon the battle became a series of hand to hand melees, with chaos marines and greenskins slugging it out while Maulerfiends clashed with Stompas and mega-armoured nobz.

Along the length of the front the orks began to gain ground on the forces of chaos, who after a few days of fighting found themselves in a perilous state. The Emperor's children had lost nearly half their strength, more perhaps, and their leader had finally been cut down in no-mans-land having defeated the ork warboss in single combat. On the right flank the orks had managed to turn the chaos line, while on the left they shold have, but the Stompas on this flank were too slow and lacadaisical to press home the obviously growing advantage.

Fortunately for the traitor forces, the orks' morale gave out first. The greenskins too had lost significant numbers and on 2909_014M42 most decided Zoggot wasn't worth fighting for anymore and started to leave. The ork assault fizzled and by early 10_014M42 the orks were in full retreat, leaving the battered survivors of the Arch Cleric and Emperor's Children to mop up stragglers and claim the world in the name of chaos.

The price had been extremely high, but at least now the chaos supply lines had been secured for the ongoing campaigns in the Zadoc subsector. For the orks the material loss was insignificant, but the defeat ensured the greenskins lost interest in an immediate conquest of the Enceladus subsector and instead fixed their eyes hubward, towards the possessions of the Imperium and Tau empires.