Saturday, February 13, 2016

Perseus Deeps: Eldar raid Aethor

While the war continued in the Libria sytem things were far quieter in the Perseus Deeps. The Necron empire had apparently returned to slumber, and the war on Minos between Stahl and the Novgorod regiments had ground to a halt. The eldar however, released from their alliance commitments, now continued their other agenda within the Deeps.

Aethor was the next target of the Disciples of Y'nead, and aided by their dark eldar kin the xenos descended in force on the Imperial colony on 1002.016M42. The government of Aethor immediately sent an astropathic request for aid, which was picked up by the Ultramarines. The astartes force were just getting into position to contain the eldar incursion when another unexpected set of would be rescuers turned up. A force of Iron Warriors, loyal to Apollo and the Federacy, announced their intention to lend a hand in Aethor's defence.

The ultramarines had little experience with the Libria campaign, and had become aware that without help the eldar would certainly overrun Aethor anyway. In the past the Federacy had professed to be part of the Imperium, and it took little time for them to decide to allow the Iron Warriors to aid in the defence of the world. The Iron Warriors for their part were equally dissatisfied with the situation. They had hoped to come to the rescue of Aethor and thus add the world to the Federacy by the back door. In fact this particular element of Federal forces had been patrolling the Deeps for some time assessing the defensive capabilities of various worlds. The Aethor attack had seemed like an opportunity, but the arrival of the Ultramarines was unfortunate.

In the event however the allied space marine force soon found itself in deep trouble, as the extent of the eldar/dark eldar incursion became evident. This was no raid, but an invasion. Attacking in force and with their most elite forces, the Disciples of Y'nead and the dark eldar kabal aiding them very nearly slaughtered the Iron Warriors and Ultramarines, and by 2002.015M42 almost one third of the colony had been overrun by the aliens. Questions of control and acquisition of another imperial world would have to be put on hold as the Iron Warriors found themselves embroiled in a war with their former allies.

Libria IV: Winter campaign sees Tau close in on victory

As 015M42 became 016M42 the prevailing situation in the Libria system remained unchanged. In space, the Crusade fleet vied for supremacy with the Loyalists, but the Iron Warriors maintained their stranglehold over the immediate area above Libria IV. The alliance control of the planet's atmosphere made a coordinated counter attack by the Imperium almost impossible, but the tightly packed buildings of Porthaven meant that short of levelling the planetary capital, the alliance were obliged to fight for the city one street at a time.

In late 015M42 commander Skyfall continued to put the pressure on the Imperium. Having taken the Imperial HQ, the tau moved from their stronghold in the East Commercia district towards the central Commercia Zone, knowing that Westbury Junction amd the Factorum district, critical to the continued defence of Libria IV, would lay beyond. As part of the alliance "wide front" strategy, Skyfall was careful not to accept too many losses, and by the end of 015M42 the southern road into Porthaven has become the no mans land between the imperium to the west and the tau to the east.

The main casualties in the defence of East Commercia were the Lycaon Guard, the Lunar Guard and Imperial Fists. Overall Skyfall's casualties were moderate, and once again reliance on technology over man power (namely experimental Riptides) ensured the attrition rate for the tau was kept to acceptable levels. Casualties among the guard were predictably high, but both the Lycaon and Lunar regiments remained a fighting force on Porthaven.

Further North, the Imperial Fists and Lunar Guard were supported by a large Mechanicum contingent in the defence of the Perlinary region of the city. The mechanicum were the first to feel the renewed alliance advance in early 016M42, as Windgather's forces advanced ahead of Apollo, striking to the west of Mossley slums. The mechanicum were forced to give ground, but the apparent lack of coordination between Windgather and Apollo's Iron Warriors just behind allowed the Imperial Fists to take advantage of the situation.

Without warning the Imperial Fists, supported by the Lunar Guard, launched a strike on Mossley slums. thinking Windgather would inform him, Apollo was entirely taken by surprise to the assault, and the first minutes of the attack rendered his positions untenable. Although Apollo was able to stop a general collapse of the alliance defence and only cede the slums to Imperial control, the defeat put the northern arm of the alliance advance at risk of encirclement.

Imperial intelligence also became aware in the early part of 016M42 of possible dissent within the alliance camp. By now the eldar had left the alliance completely, but some continued to fight for Windgather himself. When asked to let these forces go, Windgather refused, and it was even suspected that Skyfall, who had been sent in to enforce the edict of the alliance council, was met with force by Windgather and forced to withdraw. However Windgather's forces were significant, and a key element to the alliance success. Despite these altercations the alliance remained a cohesive force, at least for now, but the cracks were beginning to show.