Saturday, May 14, 2016

Libria: Roundup

While the war on Hylas ground to a familiar halt, the war on Libria also began to peter out as 016M42 reached its middle. Libria V had fallen to the Crusade, along with Libria I. Libria II remained "neutral" but was in reality under the sway of the crusade. Libria III was deep into a long ground war between the Crusade and the Alliance, while Libria IV was slowly being won off the loyalists by the Alliance.

During the Librian "summer", when the variable star pulsed into a higher luminesence, from 05-09.016M42, very little changed. In that time the Alliance Mechanicum and their Iron Warrior Federal allies, made significant gains on Libria III, devastating the elite forces of Vorushko and pushing the crusade back. The Minotaurs and Carcharadons took heavy punishment, and by 09.016M42 it was clear that the space sharks astartes were no longer an effective fighting force. They departed the subsector leaving Vorushko with no option other than to go over to the defensive on Libria III.

Meanwhile the Loyalists managed to reinforce their presance on Libria II, removing the "crusade compliant" governor and stiffening the loyalist resolve by deploying a company of Ultramarines on the world. The Crusade immediately reacted however, conducting a lightning strike by the Minotaurs chapter, who devastated the ultramarines and their equipment deployed on the planet. Soon after the Ultramarines found themselves raided by Vlokarian's dark eldar in an opportunist attack. Morale of the loyalists on Libria II fell to a new low.

Hylas: Beng beseiged by Von Bismork

After finally gaining some momentum on Hylas with the Ultramarines retaking Beng, Van Dorn was pleased to recieve the news that the Carcharadon and Sky Lords chapter of space marines would be able to carry on the fight against the greenskin menace led by the tyrant Von Bismorck. This allowed Van Dorn to release the Ultramarines from the front line on 0805.016M42. However, their withdrawl from defensive positions around the perimeter of Beng immediately precipitated a counter attack by the ork forces, who realised the astartes were the strongest opponents they would face.

Van Dorn expected this and had been assured that the arrival of the crusade forces would quickly prevent a breakthrough. However the Sky Lords were still days away and the Carcharadons, despite being in orbit around the planet, inexplicably failed to materialise before Desmond and Finlay on the flanks of Beng, had been overrun. Then finally the Space Sharks appeared. Their intervention was too late however, and the orks were now entrenched in their positions. After a brief violent struggle the Carcharadons withdrew allowing the mechanised Sky Lords to take over the assault, while Van Dorn raged in private about the incompetence of his crusade forces.

The Sky Lords were unable to do much better. Although they were well equipped and met the orks head on on the road to Beng, their attempt at breaking the siege of the settlement was unsuccesful. Despite the carnage caused by the astartes and their Knight detachment, there were always more orks to fill the breach, and try as they might the crusade force could not quite open a gap in Von Bismork's lines. Following this both sides dug in, and the astartes withdrew altogether, as Van Dorn went over to the defensive until later in the year.

Libria V falls to crusade

The end on Libria V came surprisingly swiftly in the end. With their supply lines cut and the crusade fleet in orbit around the planet, massive reinforcements were landed for the crusade. Yellowdale had remained a bastion for the loyalists, but with complete control of space air superiority followed, then the crusade mechanicus were landed to the south of the Novgorod loyalist positions. Unable to deal with this new threat, the Novgorod regiments were simply crushed by Knights, skitarri and other mechanicum weaponry. Yellowdale fell on 0305.016M42.

The position for the loyalists was now hopeless. The remaining beseiged cities fought on in pockets, but by mid 05.016M42 the war on Libria III had become a mop up exercise for the crusade. Now the loyalists had just a small foothold on Libria III and de jure control of Libria II, but with no way to enforce it.

The fall of Libria V also meant the crusade had control over the outer system and its jump points, as well as the inner system. In between a fierce war continued to rage between the alliance and imperial forces, but nowhere did the alliance have a secure base from which to launch offensives. Vorushko certainly had the upper hand in the Librian system as the middle of 016M42 approached.

Libria System: Dark eldar interfere

Following the battle in the depths of the Librian system the loyalist and crusade fleets had more to worry about than just each other. Lurking in the shadows and asteroid fields in the system the Shattered Silence kabal of dark eldar were waiting to make a healthy profit from the weakened human fleets.

Unconvinced of the profitability of the venrture, the kabal's leader refused to give his overt support to the enterprise, and this attitude looked to be the correct one as the dark eldar's first encounter with the Crusade ended with a bloody nose and no rewards. Sticking together when the xenos attacked, the crusade fleet weathered the attempted ambush, then began dealing massive damage back to the alien ships. The Shattered Silence withdrew to attempt to fix the damage.

Knowing a fall from grace awaited him upon his return to Commoragh, the commander of the fleet decided to try again. This time his fleet encountered Enkvist's loyalist fleet. Unlike the crusade, Enkvist's vessels were ill equipped to deal with their elusive foe, and the dark eldar were able to disable, board and loot more than one imperial vessel before disappearing into the darkness.

In the end the expedition to the Libria system had not been a complete success, but neither had it been entirely unprofitable. As usual the Archon Kurokenshi was able to take credit for the success, but blame others for the failures. Key skills in remaining top of a kabal in Commoragh.For the imperium howver, the results ensured Enkvist would be unable to intervene in what was about to happen on Libria V.

Libria III: Alliance halt Vorushko's advance

By the end of 04.016M42 the alliance were in a sorry state on Libria III. Although holding more than two thirds of the territory they had been unable to break the crusade, and were now suffering attrition they could not afford. At the same time, the people and infrastructure of Libria II suffered, and Cartasia had become a virtual wasteland devoid of useful resources and no longer producing meaningful output for the imperium.

The crusade advance however had reached its zenith. the crusade forces hit hard on the attack but suffered vulnerabilities when having to command whole swathes of territory. Made up chiefly of astartes and other elite formations, it usually fell to Librian "converts" and the Vannaheim Guard to hold Vorushko's gains. And the alliance knew it.

The alliance first struck back at Santo, knowing this was not defended by astartes forces. By deploying their elite Mechanicum formations, the alliance quickly crushed the Vannaheim defenders and retook the city and began to move south towards Cartasia once more.

Libria System: Crusade fleet gain control

The continued presence of the military wing of the Crusade fleet in the Libria system was a thorn in the loyalist side as they attempted to maintain a hold on the two outer planets of the system. By 05.016M42 they had lost Libria I, Libria II was all but ungoverned, Libria III was contested between the crusade and Alliance and they were losing on Libria IV and V. With Vorushko's latest offensive on Libria V, Inquisitor Hathek demanded Jellicoe respond, or face the consequences.

Reluctantly Admiral Jellicoe declared the Crusade fleet apostate and despatched Admiral Enkvist to deal with the problem. On 3004.016M42 the loyalist and crusade fleets clashed in the outer reaches of the Librian system for ultimate control of the space near Libria V. The battle began with a largely ineffective long range torpedo duel, but the area was littered with asteroids and debris, and this phase of the battle was largely uneventful. Soon however the two fleets approached to within lance and gun battery range, and battle was joined in earnest.

The crusade fleet was able to manoeuvre their hunter escort squadrons into position behind the loyalist emperor class battleship. This in turn was swiflty crippled by a mass torpedo salvo, critically imparing the loyalist admiral's ability to control the battle. Fearful of risking the loss of an entire battlegroup Enkvist disengaged, allowing the crusade to control the space around Libria V. The loyalists had come close to victory however, as the Ecclesiarchy Shrineship Ex Cathedra was successfully intercepted by waves of loyalist assault boats. The damage however was largely superficial, and the crusade admiral was able to maintain command of his vessels

Betor expedition finds Nemesis alive

It had been years since tyranid hive fleet Nemesis had ravaged the Zadoc subsector, consuming a score of worlds and arguably precipitating the Imperial collapse in the region. Inquisitor Huron was keen to re-assess the threat, as the xenos had not been encountered for a long time, and the imperium had all but written off the tyranids as lost in the void. Huron knew they hive fleet may have scattered, but likely lurked still in the depths of space between inhabited systems.

Inquisitor Vorushko was also keen to assess the Xenos threat, as her plan to create a buffer of dead worlds between the Tau empire and the remaining imperial controlled subsectors in the region depended on the denial of any inhabited colonies in the Zadoc subsector. Alpeh and Betor had been consumed, but if the tyranids had left the worlds the tau would be able to establish bases, and eventually colonies on the dead husks of the former agri worlds. This could not be tolerated.

Huron was given a division of Vannaheim guard and the assistance of the Sisters of Battle in his first exploration of Betor, once a prime fishing world now reduced to a lifeless husk, devoid of all life. Or so he thought. On arrival at Betor Huron was surprised to encounter a world with its atmosphere intact, and its seas remaining. Previous experience with the extra-galactic aliens had led Huron to believe the tyranids simply consumed the world once it had been pacified, but here this was not the case.

Landing on the world the Sisters of battle found a dead world. Bioliogical life had gone, but the tyranid process of consuming all resources had not been completed. Inquisitor Huron was unable to complete his investigations however, as no sooner had the imperial force landed, than they were attacked and overwhelmed by a horde of Nemesis warriors. The Xenos took heavy casualties, but the Sisters of Battle could not hold back the tide. Huron and his force managed to escape largely intact, but it was clear that whatever Nemesis was upto, they didn't want to be interrupted.

The Fall of Minos

Early morning on 3004.016M42 the Iron Warriors finally breached the walls of the Minos' Space Port and faced the last stand of the Imperial defenders. At the time key personnel from the Administratum and Ecclesiarchy were being extracted, although this process was painfully slow due to civilians riots. To delay the Iron Warriors, the last defenders, a Volscians Armoured Company, physically blocked the breach with tanks, aiming to stop, or at least delay the Iron Warriors long enough for the evacuation to complete.

In the early morning dark the Iron Warriors assault advanced though the breach in the morning gloom, their supporting artillery unable to accurately target the Volscians. In return, the Volscians concentrated their fire upon the Maulerfiends and a third were soon reduced to blazing wrecks. The imperial Ogryns and supporting infantry advanced along the right flank with the Spawn countering, but the abhumans bludgeoned the monstrosities without difficulty. The Ogryns then broke through the Iron Warrior lines and after managing to take down forward Rapier emplacements were set upon by diseased brain dead slave workers. At the Space Port walls the Iron Warrior assault annihilated the the Volscian Armoured Company. As the sun rose the Agema artillery began their bombardment, destroying their counterparts before they could effectively fire. Despite the carnage, the Volscians infantry refused to break and had to be slaughtered to a man. The final act of the Iron Warrior leader was to callously bombard both the Ogryns and his own slaves into oblivion, killing both. With the breach finally cleared, the Iron Warriors broke into the Spaceport. Over the coming days the Iron Warriors systematically wiped out all remaining resistance, and put the populace to work fortifying their new conquest.