Saturday, November 26, 2016

Libria System: Current Status

Libria V: Controlled by Crusade
Libria IV: Controlled by Alliance
Libria III: Controlled by Alliance
Libria II: Controlled by Loyalists
Libria I: Contested Crusade/Loyalists

Libria III: Aftermath

The collapse of the crusade in Cartasia left the alliance with a simple job mopping up the genestealer uprising. However in east Cartasia the alliance forces were thinkly spread, leaving the genestealer cults in de facto control of Pardula Bay, Grabell and Berdysion Point. The crusade lost significant forces, as unable to evacuate, guardsmen and equipment in particular were left stranded on the world, while the alliance faced several months at best of clearing the xenos infestation, hoping that a tyranid hive fleet had not been psychically called...

The decisive battle for Libria III had left the alliance with the world, and control over Libria III and shortly Libria IV, as the loyalists launched their evacuation attempt. Meanwhile the crusade were left with Libria V and were fighting hard on the innermost planet of Libria I, against the loyalists, who controlled Libria II. The alliance had consolidated their position in the system, controlling the major world, and despite the intervention of the genestealers were now able to consider offensive operations against the rest of the imperial worlds.

Libria III: Assault on Canaur

The battle proper was joined on the Cartal plain, between the Cenaur hills and Cartasi Mountains. These two geographic obstacles effectively framed the battle, with the tau of commander Shadowstrike and Windgather backed up by rebel Librian and Lycaon guard forces. The crusade held most of the defensive positions, forcing the alliance to advance across open ground, but the Tau'Naur suits proved most effective, as did the eldar, who used the webway to close the difference and immediately strike against the mechanicum war engines.

Early fire from the crusade force was ineffective, and the alliance made up the ground well. However, commander Shadowstrike remained skeptical about the objectives the alliance attack had been set, as taking Cartal and all the installations on ther plain in the required timescales would be difficult to achieve. As the second day of the battle dawned, despite inflicting heavy casualties on the crusdade, with the tau super weapon proving its worth, the alliance had still failed to reach their key objectives on the Cartal plain. Shadowstrike prepared a behind the lines strike, but still had major reservations.

It was at this point that an unseen enemy appeared. Taking advantage of the war on Libria III, the tyranid xenos had been insiduously poisoning the populous within the crusade held zones. While the crusade priests purged the population of their heretical alliance with the foul tau xenos, they managed to miss the rise of genestealer cults, mascarading as flagellant redemptionist cultists. This oversight immediately crippled the crusade, as all over Libria III, responding to an unseen psychic call, the cults rose up in the major centres of population.

Genestealers, hybrids and other xenos abominations attacked behind the crusade lines, using the battle against the alliance as a distraction. In cities across Libria III the genestealers took control. In Cartasia the capital itself was rocked by savage closs quarters actions, and this allowed the alliance to quickly overwhelm the crusade forces, devastating their positions in Cartasia. Cartal fell to the crusade on 1811.016M42, and by 2211.016M42 the alliance had broken the back of the crusade, reaching the coast. Quattria, Aegon and Rhallor fell in a week and the crusade prepared to abandon the world. Those qwho could, fled. Those who could not, died.

Libria III: Preparation for battle

With the Crusade bogged down in a protracted war on Libria I, and the catastrophic naval defeat at the hands of the loyalists, the alliance realised that there was a narrow window of opportunity to end the stalemate on Libria III and claim the planet for the alliance. Shadowstrike contacted Windgather, and by using the webway portals of the eldar the tau commander and his xenos allies were able to reinforce the sepratist forces on the Cartal plain. Here, with the bulk of the crusdade forces, the alliance planned a decisive strike through Cartal and to the south coast, breaking crusade resistance in a short decisive campaign.

The crusade were well aware of the military build up in front of them by mid 11.016M42, but were powerless to reinforce their own positions. However, on 1611.016M42 unexpected help arrived. Springing forth from an unseen point of egress, a necron emissary from the Charnovokh Dynasty met with Vorushko herself. Despite her monodominant stance on Xenos, the Inquisitor lord was receptive to their overtures, as the Charnovokh requested nothing in return. Instead the necrons simply wanted the chance to crush their old foe - the eldar - who they knew had arrived with Windgather to aid the alliance.

Now the crusade was more than able to match the formidable force arrayed against them, and expecting the intervention of the Tau'naur battlesuits the crusade prepared their own defences. Mighty Warhound titans and Knights joined the lines, and the crusade prepared to rebuff the imminent alliance attack.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Libria I: Current Strategic Position

Libria I: Voscians retake Freeburg

While Zhukov continued a relentless push against the crusade in the east, in the west the Volscians counter attacked on 1611.016M42. The Space Wolves remained in the area, and responded immediately, realising that the loss of Freeburg would allow the Crusade to reconnect the cities of Selmer and Blaydon with the rest of the Crusade held territory, following their isolation with the loss of Ranch to the Novgorod advance.

The Space Wolves were unprepared for the ferocity and determination of the Volscian attack, and it was abundantly clear that by now the Volscians considered the Space Wolves themselves heretics, in line with the teachings of the Crusade Ecclesiarchy. In addition, the Volscian soldiers knew they were cut off and that this was their one and only opportunity to break out of their isolated pocket. Fighting hard, the guard regimanets managed to first blunt the Space Wolf counter attack, then inflict massive casualties on the astartes, forcing them to withdraw. By 2011.016M42 the link with the rest of the Crusade via the Ansonville road had been re-established and the crusade had bought themselves a much needed respite.

Libria I: Enqvist and Zhukov take eastern cities

On Libria I General Zhukov continued his plans to drive the crusade forces out of the east of Libria I. His plan called for mass bombardments from orbit of Carteret, Kent City, Laureles and Ranch, softening up their defences before a massive Imperial guard advance by his Novgorod forces. To accomplish this Jellicoe released Admiral Enqvist, Novogord born himself, to take his battlegroup in system to the innermost world of the Libria system.

For many months no-one had meaningfully challenged the loyalist hold on the Librian system itself. The alliance fleet were still running convoy missions when they could, sometimes interdicted by Jellicoe's pickets, but with the departure of Apollo's fleet the tau and Federacy were unwilling to commit large naval resources to the system. Meanwhile the crusade, while having a "fleet" of sorts, found their many vessels spread out all over the Libria system, with most being protected from attack around the crusade controlled Libria V. There was a lot of system between Libria V and Libria I, and Inquisitor Vorushko, leader of the crusade - at least in theory - did not have enough ships. It was time, she decided, to change the playing field.

On board her Inquisitorial blackship - a modified heavy cruiser design - Vorushko approached admiral Barham's battlegroup patrolling the Perseus run. She requested an audience with the rear admiral and, escorted by several units of adeptus sororitas of the Order of the Crimson Veil, requisitoned the entire battlegroup in late 10.016M42. Barham, spineless and eager to please, did not object. He also agreed not to inform his superiors, so when his battlegroup arrived at Libria I on 1211.016M42 it took Admiral Enqvist completely by surprise.

The Novgorod admiral however took no chances, and it was fortunate that as soon as Barham's fleet began closing in attack formation, he judged them to be hostile. Unfortunately for Barham Enqvist did not hesitate or waver, and the headlong charge into the loyalist fleet resulted in catastrophic carnage for the crusade. In the space of just over an hour, the imperial ships exchanged fire with one another, but Barham, overconfident in his new "righteousness", came of far worse. The loyalists suffered one cruiser damaged, while Vorushko's new battlegroup was heavily punished. One cruiser was lost, while Barham's flagship Leviathan was crippled, along with two more capital ships. Barham quickly disengaged, and though shaken, the loyalist fleet continued its duty.

Admiral Jellicoe was notified of the incident, but fell short of reprimanding Barham. Instead he considered the admiral now a "hostage" of Vorushko, finally committing himself to the loyalist cause. On Libria I itself the Novgorod offensive went ahead as planned, and the massive bombardment from space seriously hampered the crusade's ability to respond. Lacking astartes help and now reliant on their requisitioned guard units, it was the cadian mechanised forces who suffered the most as the eastern cities fell one by one. By 1811.016M42 the operation had come to an end and all four eastern cities were now in loyalist hands.

Mordecai Tersius Strategic Position

Ultramarines counter-attack on Mordecai

Stahl revelled in Thok's victory, as he believed this now meant that he in turn would be able to blockade the Imperials over Mordecai Tersius. However, after unloading a reasonably small force of Khorne Bezerkers who had requested a chance to slay the hated Imperium, Thok simply left. Stahl ordered him to stay, but Thok merely replied that if the Warsmith had need of a naval blockade, then he might do well to use his own fleet. Stahl could not and would not leave Minos defenseless, so had to leave the space around the planet uncontested once more. At least, he thought, the imperial fleet would be unable to meaningfully intervene in his operations. Even so, he took precautions.

Instead of holding the line close to the Imperial beachhead at Voytein, as the Imperials would expect, Stahle retreated back to Crassen behind the protective high ground around Mt Harender. Here he began to fortify, planning the long war against an enemy he believed would not abandon the assault so easily as they had done in 013M42. No, the Imperial retaliation would come, and the Khorne Bezerkers would be the ideal bait.

The Ultramarines had been informed of the naval defeat at Mordecai and decided to intervene once more in the emerging war with traitor forces in the Perseus Deeps. Knowing Thok had left the area the astartes sent a formidable force in the form of two companies. Arriving by strike cruiser the imperial forces watched with awe as the marines carried out a spectacular full force drop pod assault on the chaos lines, believing they had Stahl's traitor forces in their grip.

Stahl meanwhile watched from a safe distance as the Khorne marines - ill equipped and hopelessly outclassed - were slaughtered in an orgy of frustration as the Ultramarines realised their intended prey had escaped. IT was a victory, of sorts, and one which boosted the morale of the imperial forces on the ground, but such valuable strategic resources had been squandered for such little gain, and the Ultramarines knew it.

Thok defeats Craddock at Mordecai Tersius

Thok received the "order" from Warsmith Stahl and was about to treat it with justifiable contempt. Although Thok regularly utilised the naval docks at Mordecai he had little interest in the petty imperial invasion of Mordecai Tersius. Stahl had his own fleet, he could come to the aid of his ground forces if he deemed necessary, why should Thok risk his vessels on a fruitless errand. However, Stahl's communication also included information about the imperial invasion which suggested the battleships Resolution was in orbit blockading the third inhabited planet in the Mordecai system. Perhaps, thought Thok, Jellicoe himself would be on board? Thok resolved to launch a surprise attack on the imperial fleet at Mordecai. Not for Stahl, but for revenge. He personally took command on the bridge of the now fully operational Gotterdammerung and set course for the Mordecai system.

Thok arrived without detection, and using the asteroid fields that surrounded Mordecai Tersius, was able to get within weapons range before the imperial lackeys even realised they were under threat. Fooloshly, the imperials had believed the asteroids would provide a defensive obstacle, and had arranged their escort patrols and minefields accordingly. Thok was now in range and directly behind the imperial battleship. Only a cluster of asteroids stood between him and total victory.

The chaos admiral ordered the fleet forward, and was somewhat dismayed as the Acheron class Beowulf slammed into a large floating rock. His mood only worsened as the Beowulf reported herself too heavily damaged to continue, and became positively enraged as the pilot of the Gotterdammerung herself slammed the mighty vessel into another piece of floating debris, causing minor damage. After removing the pilot from his sight with a bolt shot to the head, the mad admiral ordered Beowulf to disengage and pressed on with the attack.

Meanwhile the sudden explosive flaring of shields in the asteroid field had alerted the Imperium to the presence of hostile forces. Admiral Craddock aboard Resolution ordered his ship and her consort Albion to power all weapons, and the escort patrols to fend off the chaos fleet for as long as possible, but it was to no avail. The Gotterdammerung's weapons batteries opened up on the hapless patrolling swords, and the rest of the chaos fleet did the rest. Already one of the two escort patrols deployed by Craddock had been vapourised and his fleet was still in no position to fight the oncoming chaos fleet.

Craddock attempted to wheel his capital ships around the planet of Mordecai Tersius itself, but after a few near misses from the traitor battleship's devastating main cannon, a direct hit crippled the Resolution. Albion, a imperial grand cruiser, had already been heavily damaged by the chaos fleet as their long ranged weaponry found the orbiting capital ship an easy target. Reluctantly Craddock ordered his remaining vessels to abandon station and slip into the black depths of space.

In the short engagement the chaos fleet had achieved total victory. At the cost of one crippled cruiser the Imperium had lost several escort vessels and suffered heavy damage to four capital ships including the Resolution herself. Only the light cruiser Daring managed to escape with no damage, and the blockade of Mordecai Tersius had been lifted. Thok however was not jubilant. He looked at the defensive precautions taken by the imperial fleet and their conduct in the battle and judged that no, Jellicoe had not been present. He had inflicted a defeat on one of his underlings certainly, but Thok wanted one thing above all else. Jellicoe.

The Battle of Mordecai Tersius

Warsmith Stahl, the Master of Chaos forces in the Aleph Sector, had become enraged with his fractious subordinates. The Imperial invasion of Mordecai Tersius had stalled Stahl's own schemes. Arriving on Mordecai Tersius he first vowed to break the backs of the Imperials filth soiling his world and then bring to heel the “incompetent fools” that had allowed the invasion to happen. In mid 11.016M42, having ordered the fleet of Admiral Thok to secure space from the Imperial Navy, Stahl coordinated the counter-attack against the Imperial invasion.

The Iron Warriors intended to decapitate the Imperial forces who had set up in defensive positions of a dense city ruin. Nereus and his Havoks volunteered to eliminate Tank Commander Cleitor, the overall commander organising their next big push. At mid day on 1211.M42 the Iron Warriors attacked in force. The defensive line of the Lycaon Guard was well prepared to protect their tank companies and Imperial Knight support against the armoured assaults Stahl's Iron Warriors were now famous for. In the opening moments the Iron Warriors' gambit struck. Having disembarked from their camouflaged Rhino, Sorcerer Oapius opened a tear in reality. Havoks stepped through behind enemy lines and executed Cleitor and his command tank with concentrated melta gun fire.

If the Iron Warriors were expecting their decapitation strike against the Lycaon Guard to collapse the Imperial defence, they were woefully mistaken. The Imperial Guard were utterly inflexible to the viciousness of the Iron Warrior assault and continued to lay overlapping fire into their enemy. Despite their resilience the unrelenting fire took its toll upon the Iron Warriors, with the Daemon Engines taking the brunt of enemy fire. As both sides settled into a battle of attrition, the Iron Warriors earned their old moniker of Corpsegrinders well, pushing through continuous bombardment from both sides. For hours the attrition warfare ground on, inflicting horrific casualties as both sides pressed on regardless.

Slowly the day wore on and the Lycaon Guard momentarily saw the battle more in their favour. However momentum was short lived as the violent destruction of Imperial Knight and Enginseers started to break the will of the Imperial defence. The Iron Warriors continued to grind down the Lycaon Guard with continual artillery bombardment and counter-attacks, Honourable Kupfer of the Iron Warriors held the right flank alone for several hours, having killed the the lieutenant who took command of the Lycaon Guard and Primaris Psyker who had coordinated the Imperial firepatterns. Finally as the day drew to a close Imperials ordered the tank company to retreat, while ordering infantry units to hold back the tide. In return, the Iron Warriors vindictively dropped ordinance onto the Lycaon infantry, leaving only Sergeant Euaemon surviving, Imperial propagandists keen to turn the defeat into victory have spread a tale of valour, saying his last words over the vox were “stand fast and die like Guardsman”; whether this is true is unknown. What is true is the Iron Warriors after a bloody day have turned the tide against the Imperial invasion.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Libria III: Cenaur taken by Crusade

For many months the front lines on Libria III had remained fairly static, as the crusade focussed on crushing the loyalists, then turned to defence on Libria I. Vorushko could not afford to mount any offensives on the most important world of all, as the three sides in the Librian war continued to jockey for the other four planets. By early 11.016M42 the loyalists had secured Libria II, the crusade had Libria V, Libria IV had all but fallen to the alliance and the crusade battled the loyalists on Libria I. On Libria III, the alliance and the crusade faced each other on many fronts, with typically up to a hundred miles of no-mans-land between them.

On 0511.016M42 however the crusade mechanicus forces near Cenaur took the initiative. Without informing Vorushko the mechanicus force in the Cenaur Hills noted that the tau defences of the city had been whittled down to an absolute minimum. Now only a few of Skyfall's cadres remained, and the crusade mechanicus, led by five powerful Knights, led the chardge into the city. Skyfall's tau forces were ill-prepared to face this kind of superiority in war machines, and despite putting up a robust defence, the tau forces soon realised they faced annihilation if they remained. The alliance moved back to the Barrel mountains allowing Vorushko's forces to capture the imperial city. Overall however the strategic initiative remained the same, with neither side in a dominant position on Libria III.

Libria I: Loyalists inch forward

Ultramarines and guard assault Kent City. U-marines take ground but Angels Repentant counter attack forcing the loyalists out of the city after the U-marines disengage. Meanwhile Space wolves push back Crusade mechanicus in the north, taking Freeburg back from the Crusade.

The crusade had managed to stall the loyalist advance on Libria I by late 10.016M42, thanks to the timely intervention of the Order of the Crimson Veil and the Angels Repentant. Now General Zhukov was keen to regain the momentum in the war and retake the planet before the end of the year.

Zhukov had a large force of Imperial guard supported by the Ultramarines and Space Wolves, both of which had been instrumental in the loyalist resurgence in the Libria system. Zhukov agreed with the astartes captains on the general plan, and on 0111.016M42 the loyalists began their offensives both east and west. In the east, the Space wolves launched their attack on the recently captured cities of Freeburg, Blandon and Selmer. The Wolves didn't have enough forces to take all three in one operation, but chose the obvious target, the nearby city settlement of Freenurg. Another reason for this target was the knowledge that the crusade mechanicus forces were defending Freeburg in strength, and these were forces the astartes knew were best dealt with by themselves.

The Space Wolf plan went to plan, and the crusade mechanicus were swept aside by the astartes, with the loyalists reaching the Selmer sea by 0411.016M42. In the west however, the loyalists managed to secure a foothold in Kent City thanks to the Ultramarines, who once again found themselves fighting their brother astartes in the Angels Repentant. Unable to stay however, the Ultramarines withdrew and the imperial guard took over the recently seized positions. The Angels Repentant had no intention of giving up Kent city easily, and the crusade astartes mounted a second successful assault against loyalist positions, pushing them out of the city. The loyalists were still advancing, but the pace had slowed considerably since the heady days of 09.016M42, and wild optimism was replaced by a realisation that Libria I was far from within the loyalist grasp.

Alliance break resistance on Libria IV

After the decisive push into the heart of Porthaven by Shadowstrike's forces, the end wasn't long in coming for the loyalists on Libria IV. The imperial forces tried their best to reorganise their defence but just days later, as 11.016M42 began, the cadres of commander Skyfall launched a devastating attack on the Porthaven power plant. Knowing this facility was pivotal to the defence of the city, the Novgorod guard defenders fought tooth and nail in order to stall the tau advance.

The highly mobile tau force eventually managed to secure the Power plant, but losses for Skyfall were significant and the Novgorod managed to withdraw in good order. However the power plant had been lost, and the alliance now held all key installations in the city. The strategy of "picking off" key locations and abandoning the broad front approach had worked well, and now the remaining loyalists were out of power, water and general supplies.

While General Zhukov continued to lead the charge on Libria I, the alliance had finally broken the back of imperial control of Libria IV. Now the imperium scrambled to put together a rescue fleet, in order to retrieve the remaining loyalists from the planet, in order to reinforce their positions elsewhere. It remained to be seen whether the alliance would attempt to intervene.

Perseus Deeps: Imperial Invasion of Mordecai Tersius

Following the failed raids of the World eaters the Imperium once again looked to take the fight to the forces of Chaos. Minos, fortified by Stahl and of relatively low strategic value, would wait. There was no point in smashing the imperial armies against the Warsmith's well constructed walls and bastions. Instead the Imperium under General Veers, once again returned to the invasion of Mordecai.

Mordecai, along with Kendrenec, represented the last strongholds of independent chaos in the Perseus Deeps. Both Kendrenec and Mordecai boasted formidable defences and hosted vast space installations. However, While Kendrenc was rules by the tyranical Lord Tragean, and his forces were closely deployed around the main planet of Kendrenec itself, Mordecai was different. Mordecai's space fleet was absent, as the fleets of Shaidar Haran, Moonface and The Arch Cleric had long since abandonned the sector. Stahl's fleet patrolled near Minos. Tragean kept his at Kendrenec and Thok, well Thok was once again causing havoc in the Norsefire Empire.

This left Mordecai wide open for invasion. In addition the Lords of Mordecai were little more than petty warlords, commanding armies only over their own domain. Mordecai I and 2, the important inner planets, would take a gargantuan effort to invade, but Veers once again favoured the previous unsuccessful strategy. Take Mordecai Tersius. Establish a foothold in the system. Contest the space around Mordecai and deny the forces of chaos an easy base.

The initial invasion of Mordecai Tersius was uncontested, and the few cultist forces encountered on the march south only put up cursory resistance. The initial invasion was conducted by the Space Wolves, but the Volscian Guard were the main forces deployed to secure the planet. While the Volscians moved south from the bridgehead, Jellicoe's battlefleet remained in orbit along with a Space Wolves Strike cruiser. Nothing would get past the Imperial Navy.

Except Warsmith Stahl. He still had access to the "device", and upon learning of the Imperial invasion the Warsmith assembled an army to blunt the Imperial advance. Stahl didnt' want to fight a full scale war to defend Mordecai Tersius, but he did want to buy some time. If the invasion could be slowed, this would pin Jellicoe in place for Tragean or his own fleet to counter.

The force sent through the device portal was able to deal a powerful blow to the Volscians. Advancing over open ground the highly mechanised imperial forces soon found themselves under heavy artillery fire, before being assaulted rapidly by chaos bikes and spawn. The Iron Warriors force minimised the use of elite legionairies, and focussed on numbers and diverse firepower. This counter attack slowed the Imeprial march south, but could not stop it. Stahl was forced to withdraw before the vastly superior numbers of the imperium overrun his device position.

Satisfied with the tactical victory, Stahl withdrew. However the Space Wolves launched an immedite counter assault. Not finding Stahl's forces instead the astartes fell upon ill-equipped chaos forces. Despite summoning a host of daemons to help them, the cultists were routed and the Imperial push to the southern settlements of Mordecai Tersius continued.