Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hylas: Ultramarines retake Beng

On Hylas, Van Dorn had already received the dubious benefit of Crusade reinforcements, including a strike cruiser of the Carcharadons, the imperium also received aid in the form of a company of Ultramarines. Despite the ongoing crusade war on Libria, and an uneasiness which was palpable at Van Dorn's first council of war since their arrival, the two factions agreed, albeit sullenly, to work together to remove the greenskin menace from Hylas once and for all.

The honour of the next offensive was given to the Ultramarines, who launched their armoured spearhead against the ork held settlement of Beng, which had been substantially "fortified" by the orks. Von Bismork's forces were taken by surprise, and despite fighting furiously in parts of the city, the overall performance of Von Bismork's troops was disorganised and ineffective, and by 3004.016M42 the Ultramarines had secured the city. Van Dorn now contacted his crusade "allies" for the next push west.

Libria V current

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Libria III: Crusade undo alliance gains

While the crusade swept forward on Libria V, recent battles had seen Grisk, Santo and the crucial heartlands of Cartasia once again fall into the hands of the alliance. Vorushko, ever cognisant of the morale aspects with the alliance, ordered her forces, now resupplied and prepared for a counter attack, to retake the ground they had lost. If successful this would be the third or fourth time the region changed hands, depleting federal and tau morale, as neither faction favoured prolonged wars of attrition, while Vorushko was perfectly happy with such an outcome.

The crusade assault, once again led by crusade mechanicum and fresh Minotaurs units, was a complete and devastating success. Skyfall's tau were badly mauled by the advancing mechanicum, and forced to give up control of Grisk on 1804.016M42. Worse was to follow, as the alliance sent in their own mechanicum forces, loyal to Apollo's Iron Warriors to plug the gap. Striking from orbit the Mechanicum caught the alliance forces completely unprepared, and a series of mishaps (including a knight detonating and wiping out significant alliance forces) ensured that the Minotaurs' follow up was particularly bloody.

By 2404.016M42 the destruction of a complete alliance mechanicum army in just a few hours left the alliance with a one hundred mile hole in their lines. There was no other choice but to abandon Grisk, Santo and Regina, pulling back to lines occupied several months previously. the crusade had undone months of alliance work, but had come no closer to taking the entire planet. Vorushko however could wait. Whether the alliance could was another story...

Libria V: Crusade strike decisive blow

In 04.016M42 Inquisitor Vorushko was keen to press the crusade on all fronts. By now the crusade fleet had arrived in force, contesting the space around the Libria system and taking away the alliance advantage. Similarly the presence of so many ships, despite their limited combat worthiness in many cases, ensured Admiral Jellicoe's passivity in pressing for control of the system.

Taking advantage of this the Crusade Mechanicus and Minotaurs made several assaults on Libria V in order to press their advantage to the full. With the Lycaon Guard units moved into reserve following their recent engagements it was the Space Wolves and Novgorod Guard who bore the brunt of the crusade assault.

Timing their attacks with precision, the Minotaurs swept into the remainder of Timberhill, striking from orbit to pin then destroy key positions. The Space Wolves fought hard but were unable to deal with the strategic advantage enjoyed by their fellow astartes, and by mid 04.016 Daralon had fallen and the remainder of the loyalist cities had been besieged.

At the same time the Adeptus Mechanicus moved ever closer to Louxin City, cutting off Jutesberg and Daralon and securing all transport linke between loyalist strongholds on the mainland. The Novgorod guard were unable to halt the mechanicum, despite their numbers, and by 2604.016M42 the position on Libria V was looking dire. Although the loyalists still held three cities, they were cut off and unable to support one another. The loyalist commander urgently called for aid from Jellicoe.

Minos: Stahl closes on victory

After the victory of the Dark Angels, the Imperial defenders of Minos were further bolstered by the arrival of the Ultramarines, reportedly led by Chief Librarian Varro Tigurius. While only a small strike force, they were accompanied by an Imperial Knight Household, all vowing the break the accursed traitors. Despite the Iron Warriors being on the defensive, their artillery train remained fully functional, led by a brutal member of the Stor-Bezashk brotherhood, the death of whome would almost certainly mean the Iron Warriors having to abandon their positions. Stahl was keen to ensure this did not happen as his forces took up positions against the enemy.

At a little after midday, the Ultramarines were deployed alongside an armoured company of Imperial Guard; the plan to split the Iron Warriors between the advancing forces and the drop pod assault. The Iron Warriors were initially caught on the back foot and the Imperial forces advanced unmolested, while Tigurius came in from orbit, but freak atmospheric conditionsthrew the drop pod into a wild spin crashing and killing near half the Ultramarines within.

While the Imperial Knight blazed into the Charybdis Agema Rapier teams inflicting moderate casualties, Tigurius attacked the Earthshaker emplacements commanded by the Stor-Bezashk, but the dug in Agema proved tough to crack. The Imperial artillery strikes proved ineffective against the heavily dug in traitors, who suffered only light damage to their war machines.

Rather than split their assault forces the Iron Warriors surged en masse towards the Imperial lines, while their dead eyed slave workers swarmed Tigurius and his men. Clearly afflicted with the Warp Plague, a gift of despair from Nurgle, hundreds of hands dragged the last two bodyguards down. With no choice but to retreat, Tigurius fled. Alarmingly his own bodyguard, now dead eyed and foaming at the mouth rose to block his path as hundreds of infected slaves dragged him down.

The Maulerfiends attacked the Imperial Knight and after dodging several blows crushed its power plant, destroying both it and the Knight. The armoured company desperately poured fired into the advancing Iron Warriors, but daemonic energies and terrain prevented any meaningful casualties. While spawn were killed through concentrated fire, all Imperial vehicles and men were torn apart with claw and shell. By 16:00 2304.016M42 not a single Guardsman or Ultramarine was left alive of the assault force.

The loss of an armoured company defending Minos’ capital meant the Iron Warriors were quickly able to breach the walls and pour into the city. PDF troops rapidly deserted their post as they, along with civilians fled to Minos’ Governor Palace, where the only remaining Imperial forces on the planet remained.

Hylas: Crusade's arrival helps Van Dorn

By 04.016M42 the crusade fleet had swelled to hundreds of vessels, many of which were merely cargo or civilian craft coopted by the crusade and tagging along behind the military vessels. With Libria contested, inquisitor Vorushko realised that to tip the balance in her favour against the alliance, she would have to threaten the alliance supply lines. After convening with her admirals, it was decided that part of the fleet would split off in order to "spread the good word" across the sector, specifically the Mabb Nebula, where tau bases assured safe passage from tau space all the way to Tarsis Major and Libria. If these supply routes could be threatened, the alliance hold on Libria would be weakened.

A significant portion of the crusade fleet moved out of the Libria system on 0804.016M42 and arrived at New Cerberex on 1304.016M42. Upon their arrival they were quickly informed that the Bork fleet had been sighted at Hylas, and ork pirates were threatening imperial supply routes to Caitlen station. It was clear the greenskins would have to be taken care of before the tau could be harrassed.

A few days later the crusade forces, led by the Ecclesiarchy shrineship Ex Cathedra, finding the Bork fleet in the halo region of Hylas' volatile star. With the very first shot of the engagement the nova cannon mounted on Omnis Perdita Est crippled a Terrorship, setting the tone of the engagement. However, the crusade fleet closed in too early, allowing the ork hulk to exact revenge against the crusade, crippling then reducing Omnis Perdita Est to a smoking ruin.

Fierce close in fighting followed, but in the end it was the flanking attacks by the imperial escorts and the near-untouchable nature of the Ecclesiarchy Ex Cathedra which ensured the orks were driven off from Hylas orbit. Faith in the emperor had defeated the xenos threat, even when the hammer class ork vessel managed a boarding attack on a dictator class vessel, the frenzied half-starved pilgrim fanatics on board simply swarmed the greenskins, repulsing the attack!

Hylas had been saved from the Bork fleet once again, although General Van Dorn was a little concerned by the fanatical nature of the imperial force which had now arrived in orbit.