Friday, October 30, 2015

Libria V: The 12th Kalvor Expeditionary force

The interception of loyalist communications mentioning a great skitarii host fighting alongside alliance forces caused a great deal of alarm amongst the higher ranks of the 12th Kalvor Expeditionary force, currently aiding Inquisitor Vorushko in her crusade. The leader of the 12th, Archmagos Phos, immediately relayed the new information back to Kalvor where the well oiled cogs of bureaucracy began to turn. Fabricator Locum Nulaati authorised the immediate commencement of recon missions to locate the rumoured forces. Meanwhile word had also reached Kalvor’s Fabricator General, Mekios, who was at that time seeing to his assets on mars. After analysing the available data Mekios ordered the dispatch of more Kalvor forces to the Libria system. These forces comprised of yet more skitarii and even knights and battle-automata from the Fabricator General's own retinue.

Given the go ahead, the 12th expedition mobilised for war and set off to the outer Librian planets to begin the systematic search for the traitorous disciples of the machine god causing havoc on loyalist forces. This exercise was kept secret from the war hungry Inquisitor, who would care not for the death of the so called loyalists. The Adeptus Mechanicus would deal with it’s own.

While conducting operations the advanced sensor equipment detected incoming forces near the settlement of Daralon in the Acronia Valley. Believing they had the advantage of surprise, the Space wolves and guard allies moved into position, preparing to unleash the fearsome might of their imperial knight upon the mechanicum. The element of surprise was however, not on the side of the loyalists. The mechanicus struck first raining down firepower upon the imperial positions without warning. The Wolves of Fenris took the firepower and struck back, their guard allies not fairing as well. The Thunderwolf leader valiantly led the charge into the mechanicus lines, smashing into the Knight atrapos. The loyalist knight followed them in but Archmagos Phos tapped into his forge world's immense data banks to find every detail about the enemy knight. using this information he was able to highlight weaknesses in its shielding which the kalvadorians then pummeled with wave after wave of firepower. The shields gave way and a wave of autocannon shells smashed the knight into a lifeless hulk. The wolves attempted to strike down the mechanicus knight in a similar fashion, but their thunder hammers couldn’t seem to hit the right places, the Knights attacks also struggled to make contact with the agile thunderwolves. The combat was eventually decided by a decisive charge into the fray by the squad of battle automata nearby whose attacks knocked the wolves off their mounts and incapacitated them. While imperial firepower has taken a toll on the recon force, casualties were light and the 12th drove back the loyalists, who suffered horrendous casualties.

After the engagement Phos received communication from Mekios. The Mars high command had deemed it necessary to send additional forces to help eradicate the new threat. Kalvor's only moon would become a new base of operations for Archmagos Inquisitus Voß. This would provide a stable footing from which the Mechanicums inquisitorial branch would remove the traitors. Coming with Voß were a multitude of forces who would join the 12th expedition including multiple tech priest assassins and a feared annihilator of heretic machines, the Atrapos.The primary operation of the 12th would be changed. No longer would their purpose to be to protect the forges of Libria and to continue the inquisitors plan. The new mission was simple, and in an instant uploaded to every member of the 12th. The mission from Mars high command simply read “SEARCH AND DESTROY”.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Libria III - current status

Libria III: Alliance retake Santo

While the alliance were continuing to make gains in Porthaven on Libria IV, the war on Libria III was far from over. Vicious fighting over the middle territories of Cartasia had already reduced Grisk, Santo and much of the rich industrial complexes to rubble, but now the battle had become ideological as well as a war for resources and territory. Implacably opposed to one another, the alliance and crusade faced each other in a bloody stand off neither would ever back down from.

On 2510.015M42 the alliance struck, deliberately targetting the Apocalypse Riders' positions without regard for the strategic significance, apart from the obvious damage to one of Vorushko's elite fighting forces. Deep in the plains of West Cartasia the battle developed with heavy casualties on both sides. Apollo's legion devastated the crusade astartes early on, but then had to face a concerted counter attack. Iron warrior after Iron warrior fell to the onslaught, but the alliance elite force would not be shifted, and the Apocalypse Riders were eventually forced to give up, exhausted. The alliance made modest gains, but the Iron Warriors were losing men and equipment at an alarming rate. Equally the losses in the Apocalupse Riders were becoming critical.

Libria IV: Eldar strike in the north

Shortly after the success in the south, a combined eldar & dark eldar force appeared unseen from the webway in the Mosely slums. This time the dark eldar were kept in check by the eldar, their excesses curbed, but still thousands of humans, mostly the dregs of librian society, were taken back to Commoragh. In return the dark eldar struck hard and fast against the Novgorod regiments defending the northern routes into the city of Porthaven. With their eldar kin backing them up the Kabal of the Glass Five annihilated the Novgorod regiment holding the loyalist defences and allowed alliance forces to move around the north of the city. The noose around general Dersky's neck was tightening.

Libria IV: Iron Warriors close the pocket & Shadowstrike holds on

On 2410.015M42 the federal Iron Warriors began their inevitable assault to re-establish contact with the alliance forces cut off by the Ultramarines' strike. General Dersky was well aware of the Iron Warriors' build up of force near Verder, and assumed, correctly, that Apollo would strike the Space Wolves holding the area before driving south into the Librians in East Commercia and South Park. This would relieve the tau forces in East Commercia and crush his remaining loyalist forces in the south. To prevent this Dersky ordered his most well equipped Librian units to converge on East Commercia and wipe out the tau before the Iron Warriors could arrive. The tau, mostly forces under Shadowstrike's command, would have to face newly organised Librian mechanised and armoured units, designed for fighting the tau.

In the north Apollo's assault, though predictable, proved unstoppable. Superior leadership, technology and an iron will to achieve ensured that in a matter of hours the Space Wolves defending Verder were all but annihilated, and the road south lay open. Further south the tau struggled, At first the Librians pushed into the East Commercia district, reaching their objectives and pushing the alliance forces back. The federal forces - Hartak elite units - were especially hard hit, with Punisher gatling cannons used indiscriminitely against the alliance infantry.

As the battle raged on it became a more evident that the tau, although taking casualties, were slowing the imperial advance. A moment of heroism then followed, as the federal fleet commander realised the only way to rescue a vital piece of intelligence from falling into enemy hands, would be to use the fleet teleporters. Although he managed to contact the orbital fleet, only his personal signal was strong enough to allow teleportation with that degree of precision. Bravely the officer teleported across to the location, right infront of the loyalist lines. Once there he placed the teleport homer on the critical intel and it was beamed to safety. Not even given a chance to surrender, the fleet officer was then targetted by the loyalists and executed in the most grim fashion imaginable, by Punisher gatling cannon.

As the day wore on Shadowstrike's tau forces held, denying the Librians a victory or a breakthrough, As the night drew in the fighting lessened as both sides assessed the cost. The Librians had come perilously close to breaking through to their comrades in the south, but the line had held. The next day Apollo's forces drove south and annihilated the Verder-South Park pocket once and for all. The alliance was once again free to advance on the imperial HQ.

Minos: Apocalypse Riders continue fight back

Following the losses inflicted on warsmith Stahl's Iron Warriors on Minos by recent imperial attacks, the leader of the chaos forces was forced to fill his defence lines with less than optimal reinforcements as 10.015M42 drew on. Unable to easily resupply his position, Stahl had no option but to agree pacts with daemonic entities in order to shore up the chaos lines. Silently detesting this, the warsmith was comforted at least by his use of daemons as cannon fodder. At least he wouldn't weep over their destruction.

With the Apocalypse Riders still maintaining a full company on Minos the imperial forces saw no reason to continue their advance against their retreating enemy. However on 1910.015M42 guard formations came under attack from daemonic entities and found themselves in difficulty. The Apocalypse Riders intervened once more, delivering a lightning assault at the heart of the chaos daemonic incursion. They did not have things all their own way however, and the daemonic hordes proved rather resilient. Several days of hard fighting were required with the battle in the balance on a number of occasions. Nevertheless by 2510.015M42 the incursion had been dealt with and more of Minos returned to the emperor's light.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Libria V: Minotaurs retake Daralon

On Libria V the fight for the strategic settlement of Daralon, gateway to the Acronia valley, escalated in intensity. The Sisters of Battle had already held the latest imperial assault, led by the Novgorod guard. Now the Minotaurs re-entered the fray. It seemed to outsiders that the Minotaurs were far more interested in defeating the loyalist forces rather than the alliance on Libria III, and they had already achieved a reputation for ruthlessness the rest of Vorushko's forces had not.

The Minotaurs struck from orbit, delivering marines and powerful dreadnoughts straight into the loyalist lines. With no fleet to protect them and the alliance fleet busy strangling Libria IV and III, the fast and agile astartes vessels were once again able to evade their enemies and deliver a decisive strike to the heart of the loyalist cause. Had the alliance fleet detected the Minotaurs' move to Libria V, they would likely have left them to it anyway.

Within mere minutes the battle was over and the Novgorod regiments had been crushed by the Minotaurs' assault. Leaving destruction in their wake the astartes departed once more, staying long enough only to allow the Vannaheim regiments to shore up the defences. Daralon was once again firmly in crusade hands, and the Acronia Valley was theirs for the taking.

Libria IV: Ultramarines cut off alliance advance

Thousands of troops had been cut off by alliance forces by the alliance in the "Verder-South Park" pocket. It would take at least a week for him to organise a significant counter attack. His Librian forces were being brought up to the front line, including fresh armoured companies, but his front line troops, mostly Novgorod and Volscian regiments, were all but spent, and could only be relied upon for defensive duties.

Fortunately the Ultramarines were on hand, and the astartes quickly established that a strike against the Dark Eldar would be the most likely to yield results. They knew of the divisions within the alliance and planned to take full advantage of it. Within 24 hours of the cut off the Ultramarines launched their offensive, striking hard in the Main Road district against the Guilded Blade kabal. The dark eldar, apparently still caught up in a wave of pillaging and enslavery, delivered a lacklustre defence. Within hours the dark eldar had simply withdrawn, leaving a 20km hole in the alliance line, and releiving the Librian defenders in Verder.

Now the tables had been turned. Vital supplies were delivered to the loyalists in the south east of the city, but further west, alliance forces, mostly tau and rebel librians, were themselves cut off. The Ultramarines were unable to hold the line against the expected counter attack however, as their numbers would be too small. Still unable to form a meaningful guard formation up to the job, the Space Wolves on Libria IV began preparing for the inevitable alliance assault.

By 2010.015M42 General Dersky was under severe pressure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Disciples of Y'nead raid Lucardium

While the alliance continued their unbroken string of spectacular victories on Libria IV, the tau base of Lucardium in the Perseus Deeps found itself wholly unprepared for a surprise raid by the eldar knoiwn as the Disciples of Y'nead. On 1810.015M42 the eldar appeared from a hidden webway portal and immediately destroyed several training compounds and arms stores. In response the tau advanced to meet their foe, and were shocked to find their attackers belonging to the same race as their erstwhile allies.

The engagement which followed was totally one-sided, with the eldar brushing aside the tau defenders wth ease, despite their advanced battlesuits and equipment. After the massacre the Disciples of Y'nead continued their destruction before escaping into the webway in the face of superior numbers. The raid soon got raised at the alliance council, with the tau now angry at the eldar delegate. The hooded xenos, flanked now by amred guards simply shrugged, saying he was not accountable for the actions of all eldar, and that the matter was irrelevant to the Librian campaign in any case. This angered the normally calm and pateint tau, who now raised the question of whether any information about the tau base at Lucardium had been shared with the Disciples of Y'nead, but the eldar delegate remained silent, turned and left.

Following the eldar delegate's departure a furious argument erupted in the alliance council. Some hoped to retain the eldar in the alliance, as their military aid had been extremely useful, but the general mood was ugly. The future of the alliance now lay in significant jepoardy.

Libria IV: Apollo's advance

Following the success of the recent alliance offensives in Porthaven the commander of the "federal" Iron Warriors was keen to give the loyalists no opportunity to regroup. His forces were fresh, and had recently been augmented by Adeptus Mechanicum forces from a forge world loyal to Apollo's legion. This Forgeworld, as yet unknown to the Imperium, had sworn fealty to Apollo over ten millenia ago, and now honoured their allegiance, sending massive knight war engines to Libria IV. Three of these beasts were sent into the fighting on Libria IV and their effect was immediate. Apollo knew the Novgorod Guard had similar knights, but backed up by the might of the Legion itself Apollo was confident the lines could be broken once more.

General Dersky had been placed in command of all forces on Libria IV after the suicide of the previous commander . Dersky however deferred to the Imperial Fists in terms of tactical command, and the Imperial Fists themselves had committed a large force to stopping the alliance from entering Porthaven, So far they had failed. Nevertheless the astartes were once more present in the city, attempting to stall the alliance advance long enough for the imperial fleet to arrive with reinforcements.

Apollo's offensive into the East Commercia district was devastating, and the Novgorod defenders died in droves to the onslaught. There was little the Imperial Fists could do but they refused to retreat. IN two days of heavy fighting one of the imperial knights was destroyed, and the Novgorod massacred. The loyalist astartes took heavy casualties too, while none of the federal knights suffered significant damage. By the end of 2010.015M42 the alliance forces had broken through the Commercia district entirely and reached the sea port, cutting off thousands of Librian and Voslscian defenders in the "Verder-South Park" pocket. The loyalists would need to counter attack and quickly to save more of their dwindling forces defending Porthaven.

Libria IV: Apollo's advance

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Libria IV: Alliance follow up

With the Dark eldar strikes opening gaps in the loyalist defences, the tau and federal forces now took the opportunity to push into the centre of the town. The Imperial Fists tried their best to halt the advance of Skyfall's forces, but the elite tau formations easily dealt with the armour of the astartes, forcing the loyalists to pull back. The Imperial Fists hoped that Skyfall would have to pause to recover his strength, but more forces lay in reserve for the alliance, forces not seen in the system for some time. Those of the feared commander Shadowstrike.

Once spearheading the Tau expansion in the sector there had been no confirmed sightings of Shadowstrike or his Ksi'm'yen Sept cadres for some time. In their absence overall command seemed to have devolved to other commanders and the bulk of the fighting conducted by Cadres from their own Septs. The attacks on the centre of Porthaven represented the first re-appearance of warriors of the Ksi'm'yen Sept in the Aleph sector and long range surveillance showed them being deployed to various staging posts in large quantities. They appeared to be freshly equipped and Imperial Intelligence speculated they were withdrawn after years of fighting in order to be re-organised and re-supplied with new recruits and the latest technology. These new Cadres seemed to be the first to integrate Federal forces as embedded auxiliaries rather than as separate formations. One such Cadre was thrown directly into the fighting on Libria IV in order to continue the breakthrough started by the established forces there. The Federal forces appeared to be well practised and trained in Tau military doctrine, acting as bait to draw the Imperial Fists into a counter attack against what they thought was an isolated Federal reserve force, only to be ambushed and surrounded in a kill zone by hidden Tau forces. Not one of the Federal troops fell, laying down a withering hail of fire before teleporting out as the Imperial Forces finally reached their position and leaving them to the mercy of the Tau.

In addition to the forces of the Ksi'm'yen Sept, the alliance also forced a breakthrough in the south with rebel Librian forces, well equipped with the latest vehicles and armaments leading some in the loyalist camp to speculate that the rebels were now being supplied by the Federacy itself. Their performance against the Volscian loyalist forces was brutal, with the Librian armoured companies ripping through thr Volscian infantry with massed firepower. The alliance were now within a few kilometres of the main imperial supply base.

Libria IV: Dark Eldar strike

For many months the eldar had attended the alliance council meetings with their Federacy and Tau allies. Often a single hooded alien advisor would turn up, say nothing then leave, and mistrust of the motives of the eldar had been growing, especially amongst the human and squat members of the coucil. When they did speak, the eldar delegates' responses were often vague and condtradictory, but it was clear that on the battlefields of Libria very few actual eldar were fighting and dying for the alliance cause.

Instead the eldar arranged that their dark kin, the dark eldar, were at the forefront of the offensives. Quite what arrangement the eldar had come to with their kin was concealed from the council, and only later did it become apparent that the dark eldar were being paid in blood, the blood of the civilians on the many worlds of Libria. Something the eldar knew would be abhorrent to the Federacy, but they showed little if any regard for the suffering of the human population.

In mid 10.015M42 the dark eldar of a number of kabals were active on Libria IV. Their impact was immediate, as the fighting in the sprawling city of Porthaven had started to degenerate in vicious hand to hand streetfighting, something the tau at least were keen to avoid. As the loyalists were beginning to stabilise the front lines, three separate dark eldar kabals suddenly appeared, conducting lightning strikes against the imperial defenders. In the factorum disctict the Kabal of the Venom Drake overran the Volscian lines and their Ultramarine allies, while further north the kabal of the Guilded Blade, new to the sector, massacred a detachment of space wolves. Between these two assaults another kabal smashed the newly arrived Volscian regiments, opening a whole several miles wide in the imperial lines, allowing the tau and federal forces to once again begin sweeping offensives into the heart of the city.

Some eldar forces were also present, but they took little in the way of casualties and looked on impassively as the slaughter and capture of thousands of civilians began following the initial advances. The tau simply shrugged, recognising the military aid the dark eldar were providing, but the federal and rebel librian forces were aghast, demanding something be done about the excesses of their bloodthirsty allies

Friday, October 16, 2015

Libria V: Loyalists held at Daralon

On Libria V the fighting between the loyalists and Crusade forces continued, although the planet had become a minor theatre compared to the wars on Libria IV and III. Vorushko's crusade forces were mostly committed to defeating the alliance, but the crusade had left a large force of Vannaheim Guard lead by the Adeptus Sororitas order of the Crimson Veil.

In recent weeks the Novgorod Guard supported by the adeptus mechanicus had seen heavy fighting around Daralon, and in mid 10.015M42 the loyalist forces led a counter attack against the crusade. Initially this assault was successful, with the Novgorod units making significant games against the Vannaheim guard. The Sisters of Battle were forced to call in their strategic reserve, and a ferocious engagement developed around the outskirts of the city as the Imperial Mechanicum forces entered the fray.

After more than a day of fighting the imperial forces were halted from further andvance but the crusade were unable to turn the tide. Both sides dug in and the Acronia-Daralon salient had become the critical front for control of Libria V.

Libria III current status

Blue: Alliance
Orange: Crusade

New alliance offensive in southern Zadoc

After several months of inactivity on Zadoc the alliance had amassed enough forces to once again take the fight to the enemy. Their unchallenged supremacy in space ensured their forces could be built up and resupplied while the forces of chaos were limited to what they had, plus small reinforcements from roving warbands and use of the chaos device.

In mid 10.015M42 the alliance attacked in the south towards the city of Calogne. The Iron Warriors of Apollo spearheeded the assault, facing off against nurgle forces of the Arch Cleric defending the city. The battle was intense, but the weapons of the alliance proved superior to the nurgle army. Even so the devotees of chaos held on surprisingly well, using a daemon prince of nurgle as a diversion, charging the centre of the space marine lines. Eventually the Iron Warriors overcame the daemonic forces of chaos and retook the city.

Meanwhile in the cold plains to the south the Word Bearers faced the fast moving forces of the Guilded Blade kabal. These new mercenary forces, now fighting for the alliance, took to their task with enthusiasm, and despite the traitor legionaries stubborness the chaos army found their positions untenable. By the end of 1710.015M42 the alliance were once again on the offensive on Zadoc, although the alliance council appeared in no hurry to finish the campaign.

Libria IV - Alliance advances

Minos: Iron Warriors face new opposition

On Minos, the forces of Warsmith Stahl's Iron Warriors had been led on the ground by Sorcerer Ashoka, who till now had not suffered defeat. Fearing the rising power of Chaos, the imperial high command despatched an execution force of Assassins to eliminate Stahl's Lieutenants and draw the elusive Warsmith into the open. On 1010.015M42 the execution force launched their strike on Minos aided by the Apocalypse Riders. Ashoka sensed the presence (or lack there of) of the Culexus Assassin and attempted to keep as far from it as possible. Unbeknownst to Ashoka, the Callidus senior assassin was stalking him and struck without warning. The apparent loss of the the Sorcerer was the signal the Apocalypse Riders had been waiting for to launch their ambush. The Iron Warriors, despite mounting pressure maintained a counter assault, however with the apparent death of the overall commander along with being outflanked and outmanoeuvred meant they could not hope to win. Against these odds, after inflicting horrific casualties on the Apocalypse Riders themselves the Iron Warriors begrudgingly retreated from the Minos capital. The siege had been broken

The string of bad fortune continued to bedevil the Iron Warriors with their next attack on the imperial lines on 1310.015M42. The Iron Warriors attempted a dawn assault as they had done in the past against the Novgorod positions, only to find the massive figure of an Imperial Knight reinforcing the Imperial line. The apprentice of recently deceased Sorcerer Ashoka leading decided to stick to the plan, however his inexperience at such command allowed the Novgorod to spot the now typical tactic and launch a pre-emptive strike.

The initial fusillade succeeded in only causing moderate damage, but the Knight was the largest threat - having advanced right in front of the Iron Warriors primary assault section. The Maulerfiends of the Iron Warriors attacked, throwing themselves at the Knight. Despite suffering significant damage, the massive war engine remained standing and destroyed both the Maulerfiends and several Iron Warriors nearby. All the while the Novgorod themselves maintained their devastating bombardment upon the Iron Warriors' positions.

Ashoka's apprentice called for reinforcements but several mishaps in teleportation meant only two thirds of the Hellbrutes arrived. The Hellbrute equipped with melta weaponry meant the end of the Knight but the damage had been done. The Novgorod themselves were unscathed and despite the loss of their commander in the field, and suffering horrific casualties once again, these were far less than previous engagements. The Iron Warriors, cursing their misfortune, abandoned their attack leaving the battle of Minos far from over.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Libria IV: Porthaven tactical assessment

Libria IV: Alliance force their way into Porthaven

On Libria IV the alliance bridgehead had been secured by mid 09.015M42, and by the beginning of 10.015M42 the outskirts of Porthaven had been reached. Already the alliance had a foothold in the city thanks to disruptive raids carried out on the Novgorod Guard by the kabal of the Venom Drake, and the Iron Warriors followed up these spoiling raids, driving into the north east of the city. The guard were supported by a powerful combat knight, but the alliance forces found this no obstacle.

Meanwhile in the south a company of Space Wolves and a company of Ultramarines held a defensive line against rebel guard and tau forces. The combined astartes force successfully blunted the alliance attack for several hours, but eventually the defence lines were over come. The rebel guard units and their tau allies were able to push first west then north, linking up with the Iron Warriors on 0410.015M42 and isolating a division of Librian Guard.

The next blow came from the east. Skyfall's tau now joined in the attack, aggressively attacking the Librian defenders in the eastern suburbs. After taking out the Librian artillery the imperial forces found it difficult to deal with Skyfall's highly mechanised forces, and once again the advanced shielding deployed on Skyfall's riptide suits proved its worth.

Having nullified the Librian capacity to deal damage the tau now took their time, knowing the guard regiments had nowhere to retreat to. There was no need to sacrifice any more tau lives than was necessary to complete the mission, although the kroot were given permission to conduct a flanking attack, with limited success. By 0610.015M42, cut off and surrounded, the remaining Librians in the pocket of the eastern suburbs surrendered to Skyfall.

Worse was to follow for the loyalists. On the same day as the Librian surrender in the east, Windgather's forces attacked from the west, having deployed another KX139 Ta'unar Supremacy suit to the planet. The deployment of such a monstrous battlesuit caused horrendous casualties amongst the Novgorod guard, who were not expecting an assault from that direction. The tau pushed in, establishing a new bite out of the imperial territory within the beseiged city. At the current rate of advance Porthaven would fall before the end of the year, yielding Libria IV to the alliance.

Libria III: Vicious fighting over Grisk

By early 10.015M42 the crusade had largely captured Cartasia and were closing on Grisk. With the Apocalypse Riders advancing on the city from the south the alliance were forced to deploy commander Windgather to the area, but his arrival was delayed by logistical problems. Windgather was recieving the new KX139 Ta'unar Supremacy Armour, and its first deployment was intended to be against the crusade advance.

While the tau were struggling to get to Grisk, the alliance turned to their eldar allies for help. Unable to send their own forces the eldar did "arrange" for the city to be defended, employing the Venom Drake kabal of dark eldar. to the alliance the kabal were simply another faction of Xenos, one who were not particularly pleasant and there were reports of abductions and sporadic violence to the remaining population of Grisk even before the attack on the city by Vorushko's forces. Complaints were raised with the eldar delegate to the alliance council, but the delegate remained unmoved. The goal was to defend Grisk, what did a few human lives matter?

The attack on the city came on 0310.015M42 with a sustained artillery bombardment by Vannaheim forces, followed by a mechanised attack by the Sisters of Battle fighting for Vorushko. The dark eldar performed badly, lacking cohesion or an apparent will to fight, and the defenders of Grisk were easily brushed aside, with only minimal resistance given at the Tamaron-Ocano industrial complex.

The defeat and its manner caused bitterness and irritation in the alliance council, but the tau were now ready for a counter attack. Just as the Sisters were taking Grisk, Windgather attacked into the flank of the crusade spearhead, engaging the Apocalypse Riders who were now deployed at almost chapter strength.

The engagement between Windgather and the Apocalypse Riders was the most violent to date, with the tau commander leading the fight personally, killing an astartes caprtain in single combat. Meanwhile the Chapter Master of the Apocalypse Riders faced an insurmountable task fighting an eldar wraithknight, and the head of the astartes chapter was gravely wounded after being stepped on by the giant alien construct. The deployment of the KX139 Ta'unar Supremacy Armour added to the alliance firepower, and by 0510.015M42 the crusade attack had been broken, and the shattered ruins of Grisk retaken by the alliance.

Libria III: Crusade forge ahead

As 09.015M42 drew to a close the crusade were in the ascendency on the western continent of Libria III. Here, where Vorushko's forces were strongest, the alliance was in retreat. On 2209.015M42 a new offensive spearheaded by the Apocalypse Riders ran into significant resistance from the Adeptus Mechanicus of the Iron Warriors fighting for Apollo and the Federacy. Very quickly the astartes forces found themselves in trouble, as skitarii managed to ambush the marines at close range, annihilating a command squad in a hail of fire. The Riders' chapter master was forced to intervene, charging them and engaging them in close combat. However the adeptus mechanicus forces held their ground, delaying the leader of the Riders' for a significant time.

As the battle progressed the astartes began to regain the initiative, as the bikers' skills made a mockery of the incoming fire from the rest of the mechanicus army. Reserves were called in in the shape of Stormtalons, and the alliance soon took heavy casualties, their walkers and ruststalkers shredded by the aerial firepower. Finally the only significant unit remaining was the alliance Knight, which although damaged, could not be circumvented. Knowing that speed was of the essence and having a such a war engine behind their advance was not tolerable, the chapter master contacted Vorushko. Within minutes the Knight had been dealt with, destroyed from orbit by a precision strike. The Crusade had been able to use secret cloaking technology on at least one of their vessels, allowing a strike cruiser to enter low orbit without alerting the alliance picket forces. This new tactical ability came as a shock to the alliance and threatened to make a mockery of the alliance ascendency in space. The crusade advance continued.