Thursday, February 26, 2015

Libria III: Alliance take Parth

As 02.015M42 drew to a close the alliance continued to make gains on Libria III. On 2502.015M42 the Iron Warriors launched a determined assault against the city of Parth, the last of the three cities standing in the way of a breakout into the plains of Cartasia, a key industrial centre of the imperial defenders. Despite losing a large number of men from withering Novgorod fire, the alliance force was able to take the city after a bloody close quarters melee in the city streets. With Parth taken the morale of the imperial forces reached a new low, and the commander of the loyalist forces grew concerned that mass desertions to the rebel side would be inevitable. Vorushko decided to intervene in person.

Libria V: Minotaurs smash loyalists

While imperial fleets clashed in the Libria system and the alliance made what appeared to be relentless gains on Libria III, the Minotaurs decided to put pressure on Abrahams' loyalist forces on Libria V in an attempt to secure the world as a base for the crusade. With the innermost and outermost worlds under the crusade's control, it would make further interference by Hathek and his allies on Libria III all the more difficult, and the imperial forces on the most populated world would surely fall into line and accept inquisitor Vorushko's edict.

With this in mind the Minotaurs fell upon the Novgorod guard defending the capital of Libria V, Louxin city. The ferocity of the attack broke the Novgorod defenders and took the capital in just days, leaving the loyalist forces with just a toehold on the main inhabited land mass. However, the battle for Louxin City raised some difficult questions in itself.

Fighting alongside the Novgorod guard were a few warriors of the Adeptus Sororitas. During the battle many witnesses testified to seeing a living saint appear on the battlefield, which signified the emperor's approval of the loyalist cause. Until now the only Sisters of Battle in the Libria system had been fighting alongside the crusade, and several times the appearance of a shining aspect of the emperor's faith had come to their aid. Now it appeared the emperor was blessing both sides, which apart from making no sense, was clearly heretical. The end of 02.015M42 saw a number of massacres undertaken in Louxin City as the Minotaurs systematically eradicated anyone who had witnessed or been made aware of the ridiculous claims of the Sororitas sect, and their findings were passed on to the Order of the Crimson Veil for analysis.

Admiral Doenitz crushed by Pendragon

Inquisitor Vorushko's Crusade received an unexpected boost in late 02.015M42, when the battlefleet commanded by Admiral Doenitz arrived in the system. Doenitz had arrived under orders from the segmentum command to reinforce Jellicoe's battlefleet in its war against the forces of chaos and the alliance on Zadoc. However the fleet had become scattered by a warp storm and a journey which should have taken weeks ended up taking more than a year to complete. Upon arrival at the Libria jump point the admiral was surprised to find the war on Zadoc already lost and Libria itself under threat of invasion by the tau. As soon as Doenitz's vessels translated into realspace they were hailed by a patrolling Charcharadon strike cruiser. Realising their luck, Doenitz was soon visited by Vorushko herself.

the lord inquisitor explained the treachery of the Librians, and the traitorous actions of Inquisitor Hathek in countermanding her edict. She went on to explain that the so-called "loyalist" forces on Libria V would soon be reinforced by more of Hathek's misguided men, and even the navy had turned against the imperial light. Filled with Vorushko's words the admiral dutifully began the blockade of the system, aided by the small force of strike cruisers and escorts already allied to the inquisitor's cause.

Admiral Pendragon, en route to Libria V to deliver supplies to the beleagured forces of General Abrahams, was surprised to find Doesnitz's fleet barring his way. A tense standoff followed while the two admirals engaged in brief communications. Doenitz demanded that Pendragon's forces withdraw, which only irritated Pendragon. He was aware of Jellicoe's desire to stay out of the escalating civil war, but he would not yield or recognise the authority of his fellow admiral. He had orders from his superior and no-one would stand in his way.

The two fleets closed rapidly and aggressively and it is unclear who fired the first shots in the encounter. Either way Pendragon used his recent hard earned experience to batter Doenitz's fleet, destroying at least three capital vessels and forcing the rest, some heavily damaged, to withdraw. Pendragon had scored a victory over the crusade and at the loss of only teo damaged cruisers, but he knew the imperium had lost overall as a result. He railed against the senseless loss of good imperial warships and sent an urgent message to Jellicoe on Vastrid, asking him to take a clear stance on the Librian matter. If the imperial fleet threw its weight behind one of the inquisitors, perhaps the war could be contained and further unpleasant incidents averted.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Libria III: Iron Warriors take Regina

Following the defeat of the Mechanicum and Sisters of Battle, the alliance forces continued to roll forward, pushing back the loyalist librian guard forces and threatening to break through. The next key objective, the city of Regina, fell to the alliance forces, led by the Iron Warriors, on 2002.015M42. Fearing a total collapse of the loyalist line, Vorushko ordered in her newest arrivals, the psychotic and dangerous Minotaurs chapter of space marines.

The Minotaurs needed no encouragement and set about planning the razing of the city of Regina. First of all however, they would have to deal with the Iron Warriors, who had taken up defensive positions around the city, aware of the arrival of the new astartes chapter in orbit.

The Minotaurs launched a characteristic orbital strike, utilising drop pods and Caestus assault rams to land in the heart of the enemy positions. Lacking air cover, the Iron Warriors simply had to wait, but their defences were strong and their forces highly mechanised, as their commander Apollo taught the creed of the "mobile fortress", and as the Minotaurs arrived the ten thousand year old doctrine proved very useful.

The Minotaurs, despite fielding impressive short ranged firepower and unleashing their shock troops, struggled to deal with the tought ceramite and adamantium shielded heresy era vehicles which the Iron Warriors loveingly maintained. although the crusade force dud eventually to damage or disable a number of tanks and troop carriers, by then the withering fire of the defenders had decimated the Minotaurs assault force. By 2402.015M42 it was clear that the alliance forces could not be dislodged, and the remaining Minotaurs retreated to imperial territory, south of the Regina sea.

Disciples of Y'nead defeat Von Bismork in raid

As 02.015M42 drew to a close, the eldar stepped up their activity in the Vastrid sector. This time the ork world of Keprok was targetted in a set of precision raids which appeared to single out the forces loyal to Von Bismork. Most of these orks were new to the sector, having fallen out of the warp on the way to Hylas, where the greater concentration of Von Bismork's boys were preparing for a showdown with the Imperium. Well equipped, these new orks proved a difficult test for the wraith dominated army of the Disciples of Y'nead.

The reason for attacking the new arrivals was clear to the eldar. They knew that if Von Bismork's lieutenants were able to gain control over the orks of the subsector using their "flashier gear" and "shiny kit" to impress the locals, the orks of Vastrid could unite, not only posing a direct threat to the eldar ambitions in the region, but also sucking in more imperial troops and potentially leading to the reclamation of Ares, Drift, Gabriel's World and Sentinel by the Imperium.

The eldar acted swiftly and decisively, getting in close to the orks and using their devastating short ranged firepower. Taken by surprise, the ork fire was desultory at best, and the eldar were fortunate not to take more casualties. Much damage was caused to the ork equipment, but crucially, Von Bismork's troops' reputation also suffered, and the threat of a unified ork "nation" in the Vastrid subsector receded drastically. The eldar returned to their domain satisfied, turning their thoughts to the next stage in their plan.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Libria III: Alliance and Crusade intervene in civil war

A new stage of the Librian campaign opened in mid 02.015M42. Having been defeated on Libria V, the alliance, now just the Federacy and the Tau, moved significant forces towards the system capital Libria III, a world of over a billion and the key to the entire system. The alliance move was anticipated however, and Vorushko's spies soon found out the exact date and time of the alliance intervention on Libria III. It would come in the north, near the strategically important loyalist held cities of Parth, Santo and Regina.

The alliance landed tau forces including Hunter Cadres under commanders Skyfall and Windgather, as well as a substantial force of Iron Warriors legion troops, now representing the Federacy while the federal fleet was still en route. Their objectives were for Windgather and the Iron Warriors to aid the rebels in taking Santo and if possible, a breakout to the strategically vital Tameron-Ocano industrial complex. Meanwhile Skyfall would move on Parth, and if possible surround Regina from the south.

Realising that such a defeat for the loyalists could see the alliance take Libria III and make her squabble with Hathek irrelevant, Natalia Vorushko acted swiftly. She convened with her crusade council and it was decided that the loyalists would be given support, and that her least homicidal forces would take part in the defence of Libria for the emperor, at least until the alliance situation was brought under control. Her agents contacted the senior commander on the ground days before the attack, so when it came the imperium was ready and waiting. At the same time, to throw the rebels off balance, the Lunar Guard attacked in force further south in South Vale.

The South Vale attack went well for the imperium, thanks to some strategic brilliance on behalf of the Lunar Guard commander, who had assumed command of the entire South Vale front. As the attack began the imperial general realised the rebels wouldn't be able to resist a counter attack if his line showed weakness. The Lunar Guard then made it appear that their lines were becoming stretched, leaving larger and larger gaps between units. The Librian rebels took the bait and threw their armoured reserve into the supposed weakness. Once the armoured columns had penetrated ten miles into the Lunar Guard lines, the loyalist general unleashed his reserves, which had been carefully hidden in selected terrain features. Demolisher battle tanks and veteran squads armed with melta guns smashed into the flanks of the rebel armoured column, cutting off its head and causing horrendous casualties.

The loss of the rebel reserve broke their lines, and only stubborn defence and careful tactical withdrawals prevented the defeat from becoming a rout. The Lunar Guard, who had performed so well in setting up the victory, now appeared to squander the chance for a decisive breakthrough, taking too long to follow up the retreating librians and allowing them to reform the line. Never-the-less the loyalists had a victory and the rebel city of Lazarus was now cut off from support.

In the north east the results for the imperium were not so good. In the far west the Dark Angels landed a small force to bolster the defenders of Parth, but the overwhelming firepower of commander Skyfall, who was trialling new Riptide configurations, caused intolerable casualties to the astartes and they were forced to withdraw. Parth did not fall, but the imperial lines were pushed back to the the city limits.

In the centre the main fight developed between the imperium, now backed by the Sisters of Battle and Mechanicum, and the main alliance forces under commander Windgather. Although Windgather himself was once again seen to withdraw his person from the battlefield early on, this was put down to strategic considerations, though it attracted the derision of the Iron Warriors in support. The battle then became intense and close matched, but eventually the forces of the alliance managed to gain the upper hand, pushing the imperial forces back and reching the Regina sea. This was critical, as now the imperium were split into two forces. Quickly the imperium managed to shore up their lines to prevent the Tameron-Ocano complex from coming under threat, but this meant sacrificing the city of Santo, which fell on 1902.015M42.

The alliance and Crusade forces had now arrived on Libria II. So far Vorushko was more concerned with defeating the alliance than with those who would disobey her edict, and the alliance, although victorious in their first actions in helping the rebels, were not able to achieve the decisive breakthrough which would shorten the war.

Shattered Silence raid Vastrid outposts

While the alliance in the Zadoc subsector had broken down, the eldar continued to pursue their own agenda in the Perseus Deeps and Vastrid subsector. During 02.014M42 two major raids were conducted on Achreom by the eldar faction known as the Disciples of Y'nead. On both occasions the Lunar guard, garrisoned on the imperial outpost, were tasked with defending the world from the alien interlopers.

The first raid was a failure for the eldar, as they had underestimated the strength of the imperial presence on Achreom. The Imperium had in fact begun a policy of fortification in the Vastrid sector, as it was clear to even the most dull of strategist that the activity of the eldar in the Radeon Cluster had to be linked to theor activities in the Perseus Deeps. Gradually, almost imperceptably, the eldar were making gains in the spinward region of the Vasrid subsector, and Achreom and Spinitus looked particularly vulnerable.

The eldar learned fast however, and a second raid less than 24 hours later smashed the Lunar Guard defenders and inflicted significant damage on the imperial base on Achreom. At the sector capital, Vastrid itself, the raids were enough for Titus Luthor to order an immediate investigation, and slowly the wheels of the gargantuan human bureaucracy began moving agains the eldar.

The Librian Situation

By 02.015M42 the Librian situation had become complicated. To an outside observer it appeared that Libria had rebelled, and that a war was now being conducted to crush the rebels, recently joined by the federacy and the tau. Few people were aware of the different factions of the Crusade and Loyalists, and it suited both sides to keep the disagreement within the borders of the Librian system, at least for now.

For the alliance, their predicament wasn't good. Having lost their foothold on Libria V to the Crusade, the remaining tau and federal forces had fled the workd with a handful of rebel Librian units, leaving the remaining rebels to be captured by the loyalists, or butchered by the Crusade. The Federal fleet had returned to Hartak for refitting, and the Federal Council was facing a revolt from peace factions who were vociferous in their opposition to the war in Libria.

For the tau stalemate on Zadoc ensured they were unable to commit their full weight to the campaign on Libria, but the tau remained ideologically committed to the addition of Libria to the federacy, while strategically this would secure their holdings in the Zadoc subsector. Already the Federacy and the Tau Empire had carved up the worlds of the subsector between them in a secret agreement.

The eldar however had little interest in the ongoing war on Libria, and gradually the alliance began to fracture. Apart from a few eldar whose loyalty to commander Windgather baffled observers by being close to fanaticism, the eldar mostly disappeared from the Zadoc battlefields to pursue their agenda in the Perseus Deeps.

By 1002.015M42 after weeks of indecision, the Federal cCouncil agreed to send more troops and another fleet to the Librian cause, after the tau agreed to fund the expedition. A few days later the federal warships made the jump from Hartak and proceeded to the Librian system. The tau meanwhile continued to supply a slow build up to the system, deciding that the next blow would fall where it really mattered, on Libria III.

The Crusade meanwhile were pondering their options. Already in possession of Libria I, Libria II remained devoid of large forces and essentially neutral. While Libria III represented the main struggle with the rebels, Libria IV had become the base and home of her biggest obstacle, General Abrahams, who led the coalition of Imperial forces which had been sequestered by Lord Inquisitor Hathek, her nemesis. Vorushko's forces had managed to interfere on Libria V, both removing the dangerous alien presence and at the same time ensuring the outermost planet did not easily fall into Hathek's grip. Such an eventuality would have effectively bottled her forces up in the inner system, denying her forces easy access to the jump points.

With the Alliance vanquished, at least for now, Vorushko's thoughts turned to Arbrahams and the loyalists, and the rebels on Libria III. The loyalists, so long as they made no attempt to remove her Crusade forces, could be ignored for now, but the rebels had to be broken before the alliance could intervene. Then on 1402.015M42 her Mechanicum allies reported a large fleet entering the system, and two smaller forces heading for Libria III. These were identified as the Iron Warriors (a recent addition to the alliance) and the tau under commanders Skyfall and Windgather. Vorushko reacted quickly, allowing the more "moderate" forces at her disposal, the Mechanicum and Adeptus Sororitas, to intercept and destroy the alliance forces. This meant supporting the loyalists on Libria III, but the commander on the planet was amenable to Crusade help, as he had been far too busy fighting the rebels on the surface to involve himself in the inquisition squabble.

For General Abrahams, the start of 015.042 had been fraught with difficulty. His commander on Libria III, General Harris, had been fighting a back and forth campaign against the rebels, only occasionally being reinforced by the odd off world regiment. His base on Libria IV had been raided by alliance astartes forces, and on Libria V his forces loyal to Hathek had been unable to prevent Vorushko's forces from taking the capital. In addition, the loss of Sororitas support had been particularly galling for the imperial commander.

Now at last Abrahams had some good news. With the alliance gone from Libria V there was an uneasy truce on the planet, once more under imperial control, if via two factions. This suited his plans, as soon Admiral Pendragon would arrive with reinforcements from Vastrid, which should ensure enough forces to retake the outermost world from the clutches of the Crusade. Then with the control of the jump point the Crusade could be contained then crushed. Meanwhile Inquisitor Hathek himself had arrived at Vastrid and demanded an audience with Sector Governor Titus Luthor to explain the real situation in the Librian system...