Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Admiral Tragean Breaks out of Kendrenec

For several Terran months following the defeat of Jellicoe at Bastien by Admiral Thok and the Gotterdammerung, the imperial fleet had searched the vast and dangerous Perseus Deeps region of the Aleph sector for the dangerously powerful war engine and her escorting fleets. Aware of the power of the vessel, Jellicoe had ensured that he kept his forces together, preferring to leave some areas exposed rather than risk part of his fleet being cut off and devoured by the Gotterdammerung.

This policy of concentrating his forces meant the main bulk of the imperial fleet, save for admiral Pendragon's force (including Admiral Somerville) at Libria spend most of its time at Farport. Only escorts and light cruisers, capable of getting away from the chaos fleet were sent out, ranging far and wide to search - in vain - for Admiral Thok.

Fortunately for Jellicoe the eldar and necrons seemed uninterested in their usual raids, while the forces of the alliance were concentrated in the Zadoc subsector. The tau in particular were unable to take the opportunity presented by Jellicoe, as they desperately needed their fleets to protect their holdings and convoy routes.

Admiral Tragean however needed bottling up in Kendrenec. Since the overwhelming defeat of chaos at Bastien in 014M42, Tragean had not ventured out of the Kendrenec system, and it was widely believed his vast space docks were also home to the majority of the remaining fleet of the Arch Cleric. However time had past and by mid 015M42 Jellicoe knew that the forces at Kendrenec would now be much restored, and at least part of his fleet would be needed to maintain the blockade.

Jellicoe made his case to the segmentum command of the imperial navy directly, and just weeks later Admiral Collingwood appeared with a battlegroup of cruisers and cobra destroyers. This welcome force was immediately added to the blockade at Kendrenec, allowing Jellicoe to maintain his large fleet at Farport.

Tragean was accutely aware of the blockading fleet's and Jellicoe's difficulty, for he had worked with Thok on the new plan to wrestle the naval initiative away from the Imperium. With the naval blockade weakened, the chaos warlord decided to probe the imperial defences, and sent a force of five cruisers on a blockade run. They immediately ran into Collingwood's newcomers, and an engagement took place on 1007.015M42.

The imperial fleet approached prow on, adhering to standard imperial naval strategy when confronting chaos, while Tragean's forces formed a tight arc bringing their formidable broadsides to bear. In the first exchange of fire the chaos fleet managed to avoid serious damage, while Unicorn, a tyrant clash cruiser, was quickly hulked. Tragean then launched his escorts, five iconoclasts, through an asteroid fields for a surprise attack. Unfortunately two out of the five were lost in collisions with rocks, seriously blunting the attack. Only one escort survived the battle.

Collingwood now sent in his cobra escorts on a torpedo run. The chaos vessels however did not turn away from the onrushing destroyers, and the cobras faced the full weight of the enemy firepower. All were destroyed and Collingwood found himself on the back foot. The exchanges continued, with Doombringer and Unforgiveable crippled, but the two carnage class vessels remained largely undamaged and able to pour continuous withering fire on the imperial vessels. Collingwood too had two more capital ships severely damaged, and outgunned, was forced to disengage the remainder of his fleet.

The blockade had been broken, and although the result wasn't one sided, the imperium had suffered a strategic defeat allowing Tragean and his allies to leave the Kendrenec system. Jellicoe now feared that Tragean, Thok and the Arch Cleric might form up again, and with the Gotterdammerung be a force that only overwhelming superiority in numbers could defeat. Forced to concentrate his forces at Farport, Jellicoe effectively left the rest of the Perseus Deeps open to raiding by the forces of chaos.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Libria III 0607_015M42

Libria III: Loyalist retreat continues

While the crusade made significant gains against the alliance, the loyalists continued to retreat. In the south their toe hold on Farran isle was finally wiped out by the Iron Warriors in mid 06.015M42, the Novgorod guard largely surrendering with some even joining the rebel cause. Further north the Minotaurs were able to make gains against Launceston's forces, taking the region of Hodor from the Novgorod defenders.

The last offensive however involved orbital drops, and soon Launceston was protesting and appealling for admiral Pendragon to intervene against the crusade when they attacked what he considered "imperial" forces. Jellicoe however ruled that there was to be no intervention, although the fleet would only provide supplies as directed to Launceston's men. This irked Vorushko, who was loathe to stand by and watch as the imperial fleet unloaded supplies to her enemy, but since the defeat of Admiral Doenitz she had nothing with which to seriously contest Pendragon, and by extension Jellicoe's fleet. Her few strike cruisers and escorts could not be risked in an engagement against the imperial navy, so for now she was forced to stand by as troops, equipment and supplies made their way down to General Launceston's forces.

Libria III: Crusade sweep through Cartasia

The assault on Cartal was swiftly followed up. Utilising their full orbital strike capability, a sweeping and complex operation lasting nearly three weeks swung into operation. Strike cruisers from the Sky Lords and Minotaurs chapters supported the push north through the centre of Cartasia, with the Minotaurs and Order of the Crimson Veil launching an aggressive offensive towards the city of Grisk and the important industrial heartlands of the south.

Performing multiple drops the astartes were able to continuously outflank and outmanoeuvre their opponents, which were mad up of Apollo's retreating Iron Warriors and elements of rebel Librian and even novgorod guard. Unable to counter the Crusade's ability to redeploy rapidly, Grisk soon fell, and Apollo was already warning of worse to come, with the three cities of Regina, Parth and Santos now under dire threat from the Crusade army, which was rapidly exploiting its breakthrough.

Vorushko wasn't about to let the opportunity go begging. Knowing her astartes forces were not going to suffer from fatigue, the Sky Lords now joined in, deploying their forces by Thunderhawk for the assault on the three cities. The Sisters of Battle and Vannaheim Guard went for Santo, the closest of the cities and one which did not require orbital support. Simultaneously the Minotaurs prepared a drop on Regina in the centre, while the Sky Lords, supported by the Minotaurs, focussed on Parth.

In the event Parth fell relatively quickly, with Minotaurs astartes ripping apart the kroot and Riptide formations defending the city. The Iron Warriors' mobile forces were able to intervene, destroying a number of Sky Lords' Land Raiders, but never looked likely to retake the city itself. Further east the Sisters of Battle and Vannaheim Guard had a sporadic engagement with Skyfall's tau forces in Santos, but it was in the centre where the main fighting took place.

Both sides had bet that Regina would be the key to the battle, and both sides focussed their efforts their. Imperial Knights were wielded on both sides, and Apollo committed his heaviest tank forces to the engagement. Initially the losses, particularly on the left wing of the Adeptus Sororitas formation were severe, as combined armoured firepower ripped through the crusade forces. The Minotaurs then intervened, dropping their lethal dreadnoughts from strike cruisers, with almost all of them surviving their decent and ripping into the Iron Warriors' armoured forces.

With the battle in the balance the Sky Lords mounted Thunderhawk support missions, delivering thunder hammer equipped terminators into the fray, and lack of air cover once again proved decisive as the crusade were able to dictate the flow of the battle. Despite heroic stands by the elite alliance forces, they were unable to hold and on 0607.015M42 the crusade had effectively captured all three cities. The crusade had inflicted a devastating reversal on the alliance, but overall the tau, Iron Warriors and rebel forces still held more than half the planet.