Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Battle of Bastien: analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Riders raid Ares

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

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

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

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

Libria V: Crusade push for the capital fails

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

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

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

No respite on Libria V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chaos infighting on Zadoc

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

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

Bastien invasion crushed by imperial forces

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

LIBRIA V: Crusade smash loyalists, take Ashdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crusade forces help annihilate eldar on Aethor

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

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

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

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

ZADOC: Calogne taken by Tau

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

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

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

Hylas: Vannaheim Guard push orks back in the north

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

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

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

BASTIEN: Guard reinforcements defeat Iron Warriors

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2014

Battle of Bastien

Battle of Bastien

Chaos Losses:

Capital ships lost
Rapturous Agony

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

Escorts lost

Imperial Losses:

Capital ships lost

Capital ships crippled
Valente Deo

Escorts Lost
9 of various classes

Battles rage on Libria V

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

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

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

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

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

Mechanicum push back eldar on Aethor

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

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

Tyranids assault eldar in Vastrid subsector

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

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