Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sector map 3012.017M42

Sector situation 0101.018M42

By the beginning of 018M42 the war over the Foramen Interdictum had become well established. In the rest of the sector relative peace reigned, although the war on Hylas between the orks and Imperium seemed to have no end in sight, and the arrival of Nemesis and other Tyranid hive biology kept Lord Inquisitor Huron guessing on Eris.

The forces of chaos, fractured as they were, had failed to prevent the Imperium from taking Paradorn, and now only one of the worlds of the system lay beyond the grip of Titus Luthor, as the eldar ambushed and killed any force that attempted to land on the barren rocky world. The eldar presence was a concern however, as plans for the construction of a major base at Paradorn would have to be delayed until the Xenos presence was dealt with. Clearly the Aeldari did not want the Imperium to control the Paradorn system, guarding one end of the Interdictum.

On Vandrax Inquisitor Vorushko's crusade had established a major base thanks largely to the efforts of Archmagos Cybixx. Cybbix Alpha and Beta were well fortified, and Cybixx had laid the foundations for the arcane mechanism meant - eventually - to destroy the Foramen Minoris connecting the Imperium Nihilus with the Xenos and heretical federal controlled space. There still remained many however who denounced her plan, and Lord Inquisitor Hathek led the campaign against her "crusade", managing to convince several Astartes forces and Imperial Guard regiments to wage war against their fellow man. The Imperial Fists had proved the most useful in this regard, setting up New Gregoria on the outer planet of the Vandrax system, maintaining a constant watch over the Crusade.

The Crusade also faced opposition from the Aeldari, who knew of Vorushko's plan and had set themselves against it. The Xenos had hoped to wage war against the crusade - and imperium - through their proxies, the Tau and Federacy Alliance, but the Alliance led task force under General Elliot had failed miserably to gain a foothold at the Destino system, and the Alliance fleet had withdrawn. The Rillietan had attempted to "poke" the tau into action by attacking their base on Protogonus, but the Aeldari knew they had to buy time for the Alliance to get up to strength again. So the Eldar began raids against the Imperium, both Crusade and Loyalist, trying to hold the might of Mankind off long enough for the Alliance to challenge them once again.

The Forces of chaos, having failed at Paradorn had moved onto Tarlius. More specifically Warsmith Stahl had begun landing forces on the outer worlds and fortifying them from his base at Minos, while Magnus the Red had led several factions into war on the inner worlds. Tarlius 3 had now become a horrendous meat-grinder of a war swallowing more and more of Luthor's resources, but gradually the encroachment of chaos had been halted for now.

Titus Luthor attempted to stay out of the Inquisition war between Hathek and Vorushko, as did Admiral Jellicoe. It seemed that the Inquisitors were fighting chiefly over Vandrax and Destino, so Luthor and Jellicoe concentrated on Tarlius, although Hathek, with his connections and presence on the light side of the Cicatrix, made it impossible for Luthor to do anything other than aid the Lord Inquisitor, and similarly Jellicoe was obliged to assist at Vandrax and Destino with naval battlegroups.

In space, no decisive battles had been fought, and fleets of all sides spent most of the time studiously avoiding each other. All sides knew that even a victory over a foe would leave them weak and vulnerable to a third foe, and all sides needed to keep their supply lines open. Commerce and supply line raiding became the order of the day as 017M42 came to an end.

Meanwhile Inquistor Lord Vorushko had been busy herself. In late 017M42 she arrived on Bastien and began her search for support. Fortunately Luthor himself unwittingly gave Vorushko a lifeline. Veers' second in command, General Patreus, was promoted and sent to oversee the campaign at Tarlius, while Veers saw his position diminished and his forces stripped of their power. Gone was the glory of the crusade against chaos, and Veers felt slightest. This was fertile soil for Vorushko, who by 018M42, had convinced Veers to join her side, along with all forces on Bastien and Parthenope. the Imperium in the Perseus Deeps had effectively become Vorushko's personal domain, although Hathek and Luthor had no idea..

General Veers.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Crusade fail at Destino 3

While the eldar were raiding the Crusade stronghold at Vandrax, they were hampered in their response by their continued efforts to gain a foothold at Destino. However, the Imperial general at Destino had requested support, and the Ultramarines had now responded with a Strike cruiser of their own. General Percival, now promoted Lord Commander, had great faith in his subordinate, Sara Mox, who had proved herself on multiple occasions in the Ranier sector and now sought to further her career in command of multiple regiments in the Foramen Theatre of War. Mox had the smallest force of the various battlegroups, but one that still boasted five capital ships, dozens of smaller crafdt as well as significant ground forces including four Lycaon and six Novgorod regiments, backed up by loyalist mechanicum forces and now, the Ultramarines.

The Crusade meanwhile were only able to commit the Adeptus mechanicus fleet to Destino, just enough to ensure Admiral Enkvist would not invite a full fleet action, lest he risk his capital ships. After the previous failure at Destino 3, Cybixx knew that the Grey Knights were still in system and still looking to support the Crusade wherever they could, but they did not communicate their plans or otherwise associate with Crusade forces, making the task of coordinated effort all the more difficult.

It was the Grey Knights who struck first, landing on Destino 4 and devastating the loyalis Mechanicus forces, destroying the small base's defences. However, having no warning of the assault, the Crusade forces were slow to follow up this strike, and it was almost a week later when the Vostroyan Guard landed on the planet to exploit the damage done. It was too late however, as the Ultramarines, keen to understand the motive behind the Ordo Malleus strike, had already made planetfall the day before. Upon receiving news that "recidivist" guardsmen had landed and were assaulting the Destino 3 installation, the Ultramarines immediately responded, routing the guardsmen and undoing the second Crusade attempt to establish a beachhead in the Destino system.

Loyalists make gains on Tarlius

Sector Commander Titus Luthor was in a quandry in late 12.017M42. Much needed reinforcements had been recieved from the Imperium Nihilus, from Bastien and Parthenope, given over to Luthor by General Veers in order to prosecute the campaigns in the Foramen. Among these regiments of Guard, many were Librian, and Luthor wondered deeply about the value of such assets. Their world had fallen to the Alliance. Could they be trusted? With doubts in his mind the Sector Commander decided to assign the Librian forces chiefly to the hellish Tarlius system, where the war against chaos was now developing into a meatgrinder, and required somewhat expendable assets.

On Tarlius itself, the two outer planets were in the thrall of the chaos forces loyal to Warsmith Stahl, but the Iron Warriors had not yet been able to challenge the Imperial fleet in space. On the inner planets, Tarlius 1 and 3 remained uncontested, their sparse local populations as yet oblivious to the war that was raging all about them, but on Tarlius 2, among the mutant infested nomadic tribesmen, chaos and imperial forces clashed in sporadic but violent engagements across the planet, both vying for control.

The Imperial General in charge of the Tarlius crusade was none other than General Patreus, brought with the Librians and Corellians from bastien, leaving Veers with a much stripped back defensive force. Patreus now had to take control of a chaotic battlezone on Tarlius two, which he did with the enthusiasm and drive that had seen a young Colonel lead many successful crusades against Chaos in the Perseus Deeps.

The Imperial General recognised this task as a promotion, and took his duty seriously. First, he drew out plans for the Imperial Guard to join up their scattered strongholds and form a defined front line against the forces of chaos. Between the strongholds he would construct entrenchments and within erect bastions and other defences, ensuring the security of their landing zone. The region single out for this lay on the broad plains of the temperate zone of the world.

Patreus landed his forces near the settlement of Clayborne, which he designated his HQ and primary base. Librian forces then fanned out heading towards the nearest Imperial strongpoint some 600km away. En route, the Emerald Serpent attacked with their usual ambush tactics, led by daemonic hosts, greater daemons and at the centre, Magnus the Red himself. The initial assault saw Magnus cleave through the Imperial lines with ease, penetrating the Librian defences and destroying armoured units. However, the Librians and Patreus realised that while Magnus was leading the offensive, his force seemed inexplicably weak. Fewer and weaker the daemons were and once the imperial guard overcame their terror, they counter-attacked with determination. Massed gunfire tore apart the daemonic entities and eventually even Magnus himself was banished back to the warp. By the end of 017M42 the Librians had joined up with the Novgorod and other loyalist forces on the western hemisphere of the planet, and a perimeter began to be established.

Harlequins continue raids against Crusade

Following their mysterious appearance in the Vandrax system, the harlequins continued their attacks on Crusade positions. Unknown to Archmagos Cybixx or even Vorushko herself, the Aeldari in general were setting themselves in opposition to the Crusade, as they alone knew of the Inquisitor Lord's plan for the system. The Mon-keigh could not be allowed to carry out their plan, and the Federacy and Tau forces had proved woefully inadequate for the task at hand. Having failed to influence the alliance to further their aims, the Aeldari were now carrying out an elaborate plan, led by the Rillietan themselves.

This time the Masque of the Morning Crescent appeared without warning on Vandrax 4, destroying much of the Crusade base's infrastructure and equipment, before the Angels Redemptive responded to the distress call from the world. Their appearance however, was aggressively resisted by the Rillietan, who savaged the astartes forces for many hours, before the space marines themselves were forced to withdraw to regroup. By the time the astartes returned to the outpost on Vandrax 4, the harlequin force had destroyed every single building in the base, razing it to the ground. Only a few survivors of the thousands of workers were left to tell the tale of the brutal pillaging, which left Vandrax 4 once again effectively uncontrolled.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vandrax, Paradorn and Destino

Crimson Clouds...

Archmagos Cybixx crawled across the smoking remnants of the battlefield using the last of his mangled appendages. Lower half incinerated, green liquids leaving an oozing trail behind him this was the most he could muster using his scorched, crippled frame. It was morning and the sky was a peaceful light blue, though stained with billowing smoke. Yet, despite his relatively calm surroundings, the techpriest’s mind saw only the freakish apparitions of the night before…


The scholars and adepts of Mars looked up from the figure they were examining so closely. On the table below them the form of a slender female of the Eldar race lay, tubes and appendages poking her corpselike visage. She was clearly malnourished and almost driven mad under the torturous investigations of her captors, yet this didn’t give them even the shade of a pause as tirelessly they worked to uncover every secret of her body, as well as her equipment.

“My lord, we have come to the conclusion that while wonderous, the weapons of this xenos wretch are laughably ineffective” crackled a datasmith, addressing the looming figure of the Archmagos before him.

“This glove emits a high power energy field along its surface,  destabilising the matter around it, resulting in potentially monumental amount of stress induced along the surface of a target it is dragged over. However, this requires immense speed and skill, the forces involved easily capable of rending the user’s arm.”

A servitor brought forward another, now gun shaped, object. “While this, another energy weapon capable of emitting intense bursts of heat, why it is only effective at the range of a few steps away! Laughable really, who creates ranged weapons that have barely more reach than a sword?”

“A race that controlled the galaxy before we even set eyes on the stars!” boomed Cybixx, tendrils twitching as they explored the inner workings of the device. “Do not be deceived, these instruments are lethal when wielded by their warrior-dancers. However, these trifles are not why I had this Eldar captured. I need to know why they interfere with our exploration of this planet, surely they should be delighted that we put to rest the Necron abominations infesting its surface!”

The two adepts turning the captive over on her back looked at each other.

This had all begun when, upon reaching an unnamed planet in the Vandrax system the armies of the Mechanicus became engaged with multiple forces of the xenos named Necrons. After successive victories thanks to overwhelming numbers and the wit of the Archmagos, they encountered an entrance to what looked like a tomb complex. Before they could explore further however, a lone figure of an Eldar warrior made her reveal and asked to speak to Cybixx, commanding him to go no further and turn his back on the tombs and the planet. Naturally the scion of Mars made no such move and instead imprisoned her for further investigation. No one even considered the option of the armies of the Mechanicus running away after some baseless xenos threats.

“You’ll regret this damned mon-keigh! Cegorach weeps for your worthless husk, may you and your works be cursed by the Laughing God!” The pointy eared female buckled and screamed in the servo arms of the adepts.

Cybixx slowly dragged his form to inspect his specimen, his monocle zooming in on a tattoo of a red cloud on her chest.

“No god in your petty pantheon is a match for the miracles of the Omnissiah!” the Archmagos wheezed “Her blasphemous tongue desecrates these halls, cut it out before her lies fill the minds of the untrained!”.

No sooner had the words dissipated that a jarring claxon resounded through the room.

“What is it?!”

Eyes, tendrils and various arm like appendages skimmed through the interfaces on the walls.

“A small detachment of light skimmers has been sighted on the horizon my lord! They are coming this way at a phenomenal velocity and will reach this location in approximately ten minutes”.

Something shook the walls of the underground laboratory.

Outside, crimson clouds hung in the sky.


With the screeching sound of shuriken another ranger fell. The hastily erected barricade between the crumbling structures was doing little to shield the Mechanicus cyborgs against the constant barrage of deadly spinning stars sent their way. The next hail of projectiles tore off a leg from a running ranger, causing his momentum to land him face first on a metal rod.

The ensuing spurt of blood reflected in the polished mask of the death jester aiming from the rooftops, each death played out across the grinning face.
Every death had to be masterfully crafted into an elaborate jest, a symphony of irony, for why should the grim visage of death not have a little humour? Whether it was a mighty warrior tripping over a stone and dying on some carefully placed spikes or a tech crazed fanatic falling prey to his own mechanical limbs as the part of his brain granting control over them was cut out with the scalpel precision of a shuriken flick. Each death was a not so subtle jab at the competence of the enemy and here, their competence was found to be lacking.

Below, skyweavers dived under and between the rounds of the Mechanicus soldiers, easily avoiding the fire of the doomed defenders. It hadn’t taken long, perhaps 20 minutes, half an hour, yet already the humans knew they would face their end here, on this battlefield. You could tell. It was in the frantic shouting and hissing of static between the communication arrays. It was in how an increasing number of their shots ended up veering way off target. It was in the shadows, how each one of them seemed to have a slightly darker hue than expected. The death jester knew what waited in the shadows and he knew that despite his bravado and humour in the face of demise, the thing in the shadows could only ever be regarded with terror.

“Focus fire on the vehicle at position 567, 8930” the screeching voice of Cybixx resounded in every communicator. No sooner had the guns of the Dunecrawler type vehicle started warming up than a band of brightly clothed warriors burst out from the not-space before it. Led by a hooded, faceless psyker the dancers weaved and spun, letting off bright purple shots of energy. A nearby techpriest, oncepriding himself on his fear-stripping augmentations, felt a tinge of the emotion welling up inside. The light streaks warped through and enveloped the Kastellan robots, forcing them to keel over. While ineffective at long range the fusion pistols ensured no such firefight was necessary, shroudingnearby robots and machines in a bright glow, melting through their carapace and inner workings.
Then, came the caresses.

With but a stroke, arms, weapons and faces were shorn apart, the graceful warriors of the Eldar not even looking back to see the damage they caused. The didn’t need to. Each had a part to play in the dance, each one savouring, contemplating or grieving the utter annihilation of the forces arrayed against them. It was all a play, a jest, a performance where the spectators were both the audience and participants and the colour crimson was that of true blood.
The Archmagos grabbed a nearby harlequin warrior by the face and crushed it, mask and all, in his pincer-like grip. He was furious. His army was being decimated, some dying in circumstances that would be comical if they were not so grisly, others tearing out their eyes after witnessing visions brought about by the gas released by that Eldar witch. She would burn, they all would as soon as his reinforcements arrive. Cybixx scuttled forward, trying to separate himself from a duo of especially persistent harlequins. He had one final trick up his sleeve.

Activating the required protocols, the fallen Dunecrawler and nearby robots vibrated slightly, then everything became white as their self-destruct mechanisms set in.
Ringing. A high pitched noise. White, then darkness, then the battlefield slowly returning.

The constructs of the humans had detonated, leaving debris and body parts both Eldar and mechanical scattered around. Not many xenos had survived the explosion.
Synther spun around clutching the stump where his left arm had been. It was barbaric, brutal yet he had to admit, effective. Detonating the robots had given the humans a little precious space from their pursuers, though the explosions had wrought a heavy toll on their forces too. Nearby, a skyweaver had crashed into the ground, the riders drooping over the side, trickles of crimson adorning their masks. Synther staggered to where they lay. While crippled, his senses were quickly coming back to him and he could still make a difference in the battle. Teasing out a zephyrglaive from under the bike, he spun it around, tested the blade and launched himself into a group of rangers still alive.

Not many xenos had survived. Not many, but enough. As Cybixx, slowly rose from the ditch a few glowing shots caught him in the side, he whirled around to face his attackers but all he could see was a shadow. A deep, looming shadow that shifted around the edges in a way that almost seemed to break reality. A shadow with horns.

The Solitaire stalked towards the Archmagos, walking in a straight line, upright, unafraid of any incoming fire. He stopped half a metre away from the techpriest, and regarded him, almost like a spider might regard a fly despite their size difference suggesting the reverse.

“Your test subject, the one you so thoroughly….examined, was my daughter. She can no longer play a vocal role on the grand stage of life, spiralling endlessly in a mute ballet. For that, no matter what deals you may have formed with my brothers and sisters, you must pay”.

A kick smashed into the carapace shielding Cybixx’s back, despite the afterimage of the Solitaire still facing his front. The magos crashed into a wall, systems reporting damage across his whole body.

Then, another.

A flurry of hits, blows, kicks and sweeps of an energy weapon pummelled into the techpriest, reducing parts to a molten slag. Each attack came faster than the next and the force of each would have been enough to buckle Adamantium plate. There seemed no end to their succession nor the damage they caused and with a crunch, his spine splintered and the magos’ upper half flew into the air.

The cold eyes of the shadow scanned over the wheezing husk of the man before him.

“Your part is yet unfinished, mon-keigh. This can only end as a lesson and not the punishment you deserve as for good or evil, the Laughing God requires you still. Yet, know that as soon as your usefulness has come to an end, I’ll be there. May you always watch the shadows and fear the red clouds”.

With a jump the form of the representation of Slaaneshmelded into the surroundings once more. The sounds of battle were dying down, more and more of the brightly clad horrors disappearing through portals to what could only be the webway. It was over.

Across the horizon, dawn broke.

Hell at Tarlius

On Tarlius the Imperial position was given a great boost with the arrival of significantly more Mechanicum forces, bolstering the Imperial Guard and immediately taking on the heaviest front line fighting. In early 12.017M42 the Emerald Serpent had scored a victory, but had failed to remove the Imperial forces from the planet. Now, with the Imperial Guard stuck in defensive pockets around key objectives, the daemonic legions of Tzeentch were called upon once again to dislodge the Imperium.

The first daemonic incursion occured on 0712.017M42, but the fresh Mechanicum forces were able to prevent a breakthrough, rescuing and joining up the Imperial defences on the planet for the first time. Following this, several more incursions were recorded by the Emerald Serpent, with varying results. On one occasion the Emerald serpent were completely decimated, but on another, the Mechanicum force sent to intercept was all but wiped out. By 1412.017M42 Tarlius 3 had become a living hell. Imperial Guard units and loyalist mechanicum forces held on to bases and positions on the dusty plains, but were constantly exposed to daemonic incursions and guerilla attacks from chaos forces, led and organised by the Emerald Serpent. There were no clear front lines, with chaos forces simply melting back into the warp or their mortal troops disappearing into the vast badlands. The Imperium realised that wrestling the planet from the grip of chaos may end up a very difficult proposition.

Eris far from cleansed

Inquisitor Huron's confidence that Eris ad been cleansed of Tyranid activity proved woefully premature, as on 0812.017M42 a massive assault by Xenos of varying genomes crashed into Huron's defensive lines. The Novgorod Guard gave a good account of themselves, but the Nemesis strain of tyranids had targetted them, forcing them back and allowing a horde of what appeared to be Hive Fleet Leviathan - as far as Huron could tell - to assault the Inquisitor's investigation base.

unable to defend indefinitely against this new horde, Huron called for aid. Two days later the Angels Repentant made an orbital drop, although tension between the astartes and the Guard leadership was clear, since they were on opposing sides in the Vandrax theatre. However, humanity came before Xenos, and the astartes lent their aid as best they could. Unfortunately, the Tyranids were too many, and too aggressive, and proved more than the small company of Angels could deal with.

Huron had no choice but to evacuate his front line, call for more forces and attempt to reestablish a new front. His investigations would have to be at an end, as now the tyranids were approaching the last remaining inhabited areas on the world - Eris Prime and the seat of government.

Crusade moves on to Destino

Having all but secured the Vandrax System, the Crusade now moved into their second phase. From her base on Bastien Inquisitor Vorushko communicated her orders to Cybixx and her other Crusade commanders. Take Destino next. meanwhile Vorushko continued her own agenda in the Deeps, while Hathek desperately tried to contain the Crusade itself. Vorushko however had no power to command her Ordo Malleus colleagues, and the Grey Knights continued to pursue their own agenda, however aligned it was to hers.

The Grey Knights did aid the Crusade at Destino however, assaulting and destroying several Loyalist defences on Destino 3, defeating and massacring the defending Lunar Guard regiments which had only recently been installed as a garison force. However, Cybixx's mechanicum and the Angels Repentant were unable to follow up this victory, and the initial landing at Destino was met by a strong and coordinated Novgorod defence, who swiftly forced a crusade withdrawl. The crusade forces now had a presence in the system though, and without a decisive battle in space, which seemed unlikely given both sides' unwillingness to risk their vessels, another assault by the Crusade seemed a certainty.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Harlequins raid Protogonus

While the Imperium fought with itself and chaos for control of the Foramen, the Tau had show little interest in the campaign since its inception. And with the failure of the Federacy to gain a foothold at Destino, the Tau were increasingly hesitant to get involved, preferring instead to search out new pathways between their empire and the Aleph Expansion sphere, still cut off in the Imperium Nihilis.

This action left the Federacy in particular vulnerable. Should Chaos or the Imperium gain control of the Foramen Majoris, or worse, have it destroyed, the Federacy would be on the front line against a myriad of foes, with less than enthusiastic support from the Tau Empire. The Aeldari, particularly the Rillietan, had seen the threat, and the possible outcomes of such Tau disinterest, and decided to act.

Rather than propose an alliance, which they knew would be difficult and uneasy at best following the events in the Perseus Deeps, the Harlequins decided on a more direct approach. To ensure the Tau were ready and their minds focussed, the Tau would need to be hit, and hit hard on their own territory. To make their point the Aeldari prepared a force and conducted a devastating raid on Protogonus on 0212.017M42.

The destruction wrought by the one time allies of the Tau appalled the alien race, who appealed to the Federacy for aid for their furthest flung colony. The Federacy, quite rightly, rejected this request, citing that too many had already been lost in the unsuccessful Destino campaign. Skyfall then intervened, sending his own forces to Protogonus and planning a significant fortification of the colony. Despite his forces initial inability to defeat the Eldar, the Harlequins then withdrew of their own accord, having achieved their objective.

Imperium react to Chaos at Tarlius

Finally, by early 12.017M42 the Imperium realised that the forces of Chaos were not in fact raiding the Tarlius system, but a full scale invasion was underway. Tarlius had a small population, but its position meant it was now critical to securing of the Foramen Minoris - the main space lane between the Imperium and the Perseus Deeps. 

Warsmith Stahl had already created two fully operational bases on the outer planets of the Tarlius system, but seeing his succecss, the other chaos factions decided to lend their "support" to Stahl's campaign. Whether he liked it or not. The Emperor's Children and Thousand sons, led by Magnus himself, landed on Tarlius 3, a rocky cold desert world, intending to expand the influence of chaos to all habitable planets in the system. Creating bases and defences on all of them would render an invasion by the hated imperium much harder.

The Imperium reacted swiftly to the sudden escalation of the Chaos presence in the Tarlius system, sending a full battlegroup and Admiral Jellicoe's fleet. The fleet presence ensured that Stahl's warships did not intervene, while the Mechanicum sent their own forces from Vandrax, this time to aid the Imperium, as the Crusade also wanted to maintain control of the Foramen Minoris, rather than see its destruction.

The Imperial forces landed on Tarlius 3, but found Magnus's "Emerald Serpent" ready and waiting for them, while the Emperor's Children were ravaging the human settlements on the world. Cybixx took the fight to Magnus, while a division of loyalist Librian forces were set the task of hunting down the other traitor legionaries.

The Librians knew they could not hope to track down the Emperor's Children, so instead they set up defensive positions in settlements not yet raided. Sure enough the traitor astartes took the bait, walking into the crossfire of Librian gunfire. Initially the chaos marines found themselves in difficulties, as they lost their transports to withering heavy weapons fire and suffered significant casualties. The super human veteran fighters were not stunned for long however, and soon used the terrain and ruins of the settlement to advance on the Librian positions. Noise marines covered the imperial positions with gunfire inflicting massive casualties on any units caught in the open, before finally closing and dealing with the heavy armour in close combat.

The engagements occurred across the plains of Tarlius 3 for days, but each time the Emperor's Children were unable to break the imperial defences completely, while the Librians were unable to wipe out the chaos threat. A stalemate ensued, and the battle would be decided by the encounter between Cybixx and Magnus. The mechanicum however found themselves in difficulties, and after exchanging heavy fire with the Thousand sons, this time, unlike in other encounters, the Emerald Serpent was able to close with the Mechanicus positions and inflict heavy casualties. Cybixx, unable to respond adequately to the new aggressive tactics, was forced to withdraw, isolating the Librian defenders and making the Imperial hold on Tarlius 3 extremely tenuous by 0912.017M42.

Eris investigated

Following alarming reports from Eris Inquisitor Huron successfully petitioned Sector Commander Titus Luthor to send a task force to the small Imperial Colony. Along with a small fleet Huron's forces comprised of a detachment of Adeptus Mechanicus and two regiments of Novgorod Guard, with the promise of Astartes support should they find Nemesis on Eris in strength.

Upon arrival it was clear that the "Shadow in the Warp" was close, which confirmed there was a hive fleet in the vicinity. It appeared however that the forces encountered previously were just the vanguard, as while no one still lived on Eris the planet had not yet been consumed. Intending to find out more Huron landed his forces near the main settlement, Eris Prime, and began investigating with the help of the Adeptus Mechanicum.

Soon after landfall, the Imperial forces were attacked from multiple directions. The Mechanicum forces swiftly put down the firts assault, but soon the Novgorod forces defending the landing zone found themselves flanked on two sides by Tyranid forces. The Novgorod however, veterans of many campaigns, were able to first deal with the first tyranid attack, then turn and bring their full force to bear on the remaining Xenos. Two days of hard fighting followed, but by 0612.017M42 Huron was confident that the main Tyranid forces on the planet had been cleansed.

Scans however showed some Tyranid biomass remaining, which warranted further invetigation. More worryingly however, Huron and the Mechanicum noted that there were at least two distinct strains of Xenos genomes in the forces they had found. One was unmistakeably Nemesis, but the other bore more resemblence to Hive fleet Kraken. Disturbed by this turn of events Huron set up a permanent watch post on Eris and set out to find the Hive fleet - or fleets themselves. Were two hive fleets working together?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Vandrax latest position

Crusade Forge ahead

The fall of Vandrax 4 left the loyalists in a perilous position in the Vandrax system. The Lycaon Guard were in no fit state to fight a further crusade attack, which left Hathek's forces consisting of two regiments of Novgorod and a small force of loyalist mechanicum forces. Vorushko offered assistance to the Grey Knights, but they assured her that they would need no such help. The Astartes would settle the matter as they had promised.

First the Knights assaulted the strongest force, the Novgorod Guard. Once again the Militarum forces fought doggedly, and the Grey Knights found the engagement hard going. There was no surrender on Vandrax 1, for these Novgorod forces were those who has only recently fought forces of daemons, and defeat meant extermination. However, assisted by total control of air and space the guard forces were outmanoeuvred by the Ordo Malleus Astartes, and eventually succumbed to the pressure. The ugly business of "cleansing" now began.

Shortly after defeating the Imperial Guard, the Grey Knights prepared for their final assault. All the loyalist positions on the sparsely inhabited world had now been neutralised, so the remaining force, of Adeptus Mechanicus loyal to Hathek, were found in the wilderness. They didn't stand a chance. In a lightning strike the Grey Knights landed right next to the Mechanicus forces, wiping them out swiftly. By 0212.017M42 only New Gregoria held out against the Crusade on Vandrax 2. Against orders from Hathek, Admiral Jellicoe ordered Pendragon to move his battlefleet towards the jump point.

Vandrax 4 taken by Crusade

While the Grey Knights battled the Lycaon Guard on Vandrax 1, Vorushko's main forces embarked from Cybixx Alpha and arrived at Vandrax 4 in only a few hours. Vandrax 4, supported by the Imperial Fists from their base on New Gregoria, was garrisoned by several Novgorod regiments, who put up a solid defence when Cybixx's forces landed in strength close to the loyalist main base. Heavy fighting resulted in a stalemate, but the loyalists possessed inferior logistics, and the Novgorod General needed help.

Help arrived in the form of the Imperial Fists, but Cybixx and the crusade had been prepared for such an eventuality. Deploying their reserve to counter the new threat, the Cerberex Guard launched an immediate offensive. Despite fighting valiantly, the Imperial Fists suffered a heavy defeat, leaving the Novgorod forces surrounded and unable to leave the planet. Realising there was nothing more to gain from continued resistance, the Novgorof Guard surrendered their forces to the crusade on 0112.017M42. Vandrax 4 had fallen to the crusade, and the Novgorod Guard were interned.

Vandrax 1: Grey knights assault loyalists

Following the successful capture of Vandrax 3 the Grey Knights agreed to join Vorushko's crusade, citing the meny dubious acts by Hathek and citing the ageing inquisitor as having lost much of his credibility in not dealing with those Guard regiemtns exposed to daemonic taint. In addition, the Grey Knights saw the logic in Vorushko's plan to destroy one of the Foramen pathways, to deny the Imperium's Xenos enemies but also to prevent an imperial Vandrax from becoming an accessway for daemonic incursion. Despite the Foramen, the power of the warp was still strong on Vandrax, and the daemon hunter astartes feared an Imperial base in the Foramen Majoris would soon lead to massive daemonic invasion.

Their goals agreed, the Astartes sent word to Titus Luthor on Vastrid, declaring Hathek a danger, and planning their invasion of Vandrax 1. Vorushko was still short on troops, so her forces would concentrate on Vandrax 4. The Grey Knights would assault "loyalist" forces on the inner planet, destroying them and laying the ground work for a subsequent invasion.

The initial assault on the Lycaon regiments stationed on Vandrax 1 went well. Taken completely off guard, the Militarum forces were all but wiped out as the Grey Knights made landfall. However, the veteran Guard regiments were nothing if not resourceful, and immediately counter attacked, decimating the Grey Knights force and forcing them to retreat to their landing site. Crucially however, the Mechanicum bases on Cybixx alpha and Beta allowed a quick response from the Mechanicum fleet, while Jellicoe's loyalist Naval vessels were forced to stand off in the outer reaches of the system. By 2811.017M42 the situation was finely balanced. The crusade had a foothold but only just.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nemesis Returns

Imperial authorities only began to realise that something was badly amiss on Eris when attempts to contact the astropathic choir there failed to elicit any response. An unwary mind is a gateway to the perils of the warp so it was assumed the choir has been slain in some psychic mishap and a small patrol vessel was dispatched from nearby Farport to re-establish contact. It disappeared without trace.

Investigations conducted by the Adeptus Arbites station on Farport soon established that no ships had arrived from Eris for the past three weeks. This had gone completely unnoticed as the vessel's corporate owners had failed to report the losses, likely due to an understandable reluctance to draw attention to the highly questionable nature of the cargo.

The alarm was finally raised and an alert sent to sector commander Titus Luther who made a formal request for assistance from the Imperial Fists. A task force was dispatched to investigate.

As the Astartes Strike Cruiser neared the planet the true reason for the ominous silence became apparent. The entire region was cloaked by a shadow in the warp, a phenomena  associated with Tyranid Hive Fleets. Unusually for Tyranids all electromagnetic communication with the planet was also blocked, jammed by static from an unknown source.

Unable to contact the planet below a small landing force was put together and air dropped into woodland close to the planets capital. At first everything seemed completely innocuous but as the patrol made its way towards the city the Astartes worst fears were confirmed.

The column came under attack from all sides as a massive horde of Tyranid bioforms launched itself from the surrounding trees, fell from the skies and even burst from the very ground and fell upon the Imperial Fists with such speed they could barely react before it washed over them.

All semblance of tactics or formation fell apart as the Emperor's finest battled for their lives. Any other force would have been annihilated in an instant but years of training, battlefield experience and iron discipline proved their worth as the famously stubborn Marines drew together and fought back the tide of enemies.

Finally the thunderous roars of approaching Thunderhawk Gunships prompted the Tyranids to melt back into the forest as quickly as they had appeared. Casualties had been heavy on both sides but the Tyranids held total dominance of the surrounding terrain and the Imperial Fists quickly withdrew whilst they still had the chance. They would return to warn high command of the disaster that had befallen Eris.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Battle of Vandrax 2: Images

 Novgorod Guard take their positions.
 Eldar intervention

 Sky Lords Thunderhawk attack run.
Grey Knights assault tips the balance.

Battle of Vandrax 2: Aftermath

The outcome of the battle of Vandrax 2 was an extremely costly and narrow victory for the Crusade, although Vorushko's forces had been badly battered in the heavy fighting. The Sky Lords committed little and lost little, but the embarrassing failure of their Thunderhawk was a particular concern. The Grey Knights had now tipped their hand in favour of Vorushko, alarming Hathek, who bolstered his personal security arrangements.

For the loyalists the loss of Vandrax 2 now handed control of the Vandrax system firmly over to the Crusade. The loyalists still had bases in the outer planets, but now Cybixx would be able to continue his research with even more resources. It would still take time, but Vorushko's end game vision was coming closer...

Battle of Vandrax 2: Crusade saved by Grey Knights

On 1811.017M42, in the early hours, the Grey Knights landed en masse in the main settlement on Vandrax 2. Conditions for their landfall were marginal, but through a superhuman effort the elite astartes landed and brought death to the loyalist and eldar forces defending the settlement. They managed to secure key objectives, including the city's main power generator, stunning the loyalist general. Units were cut down by ferocious firepower and in close combat. The battle was turning in the Crusade favour.

However, not all was going well for the Crusade. The centre of their line had seen the mechanicum decimated by unfortunate explosions and in the forests the constant harrassment by eldar forces had seen the Volscian and Vostroyan forces close to collapse. However, it was in the city that the battle was finally decided. The grey Knights stubbornly held on in the face of massive return fire from the loyalist firebases, which now had the astartes in a crossfire. However, at a critical moment when the battle could have been salvaged for the loyalists, the eldar hesitated, apparently unsure as to whether to deliver the victory for the loyalists.

The hesitation by the eldar ultimately cost the loyalists the battle, and then the planet, as the Grey Knights secured the area long enough for enginseers to shut down the power to the city, and establish a teleport homer for significant mechanicum reinforcements. Within a week, the rest of the city had fallen, as realising the battle was lost, the eldar allies of Hathek's loyalists simply melted away.

Battle of Vandrax 2: The Eldar intervene

Believing she had the advantage, Vorushko's guard and mechanicum forces initiated the attack on the major Vandrax city, soon facing concentrated fire from the Lycaon and Novgorod gun line arrayed against them. Early losses on both sides were light however, and the Crusade had the numerical advantage, or so they thought.

It was only when the crusade reached the outskirts of the main settlement that it became apparent that eldar forces of the Rillietan and another unknown Craftworld had intervened on the loyalist side. While this made the Volscians and Vostroyans even more determined, the firepower of the lolyalists combined with their eldar allies soon saw the Crusade assault on the now ruined cities grind to a halt. The loyalist and eldar forces quickly repelled Vostroyan and Volscian advances while in the forests and hills to the north of the settlement, webway portals allowed the eldar to begin harrassing the Crusade rear line, taking out artillery and conducting running battles amongst the trees.

After a day of heavy fighting the Crusade were on the back foot, and unable to secure enough of a clear space between the two armies to put into action the final part of Vorushko's plan. In orbit the Grey Knights waited for an opportunity to intervene decisively, but still the no mans land between the two armies remained covered with crusade guardsmen and eldar skirmishers. Taking matters into their own hands the Grey Knights sent an immediate urgent communication to all front line officers. Clear a path for their arrival and kill anything and anyone in the outskirts of the city.

The Sky Lords intervened to aid this, arriving by Thunderhawk and landing a squad of elite terminators. However the loyalists had an immediate response. After the first pass of the Astartes assault craft, which had not been as successful as hoped, they revealed a previously camouflaged super heavy platoon, comprising of a Baneblade and a titan killing Shadowsword. After being softened up by Manticore AA missiles, the Thunderhawk was swatted out of the sky by the Shadowsword, while the Sky Lords made little impact in the city itself. Eventually however, thanks largely to the mechanicum, the land between the Crusade and loyalist lines was finally cleared, allowing Vorushko to make her last desperate gamble for victory on Vandrax 2.

Battle of Vandrax 2: Prelude to battle

In early 11.017M42 the most important planet in the Vandrax system, Vandrax 2, had been invaded by forces of the loyalists and crusade, in response to Magnus' appearance on the world. The chaos forces had been eradicated from the world, but now the planet was host to two imperial forces with wildly differing agendas.

The indigineous population, numbering just over a million, had seen their world overturned. For centuries the planet, while nominally imperial, had existed outside the Pax Imperialis, centred around one major city, simply known as "the city". Now their home had been all but destroyed. First by the Cicatrix Maledictum, and now, following the opening of the Foramen, by the new arrivals. It was in the city and its surrounding area that the key battle for Vandrax two would take place.

By 1411.017M42 the crusade, by virtue of having their base on "Cybixx Alpha", had amassed a much larger force on Vandrax 2 than the loyalists. Hathek's forces comprised of mainly guard forces, principally regiments of the veteran Novgorod and Lycaon Guard, who had been instrumental in securing much of the imperial gains in the Foramen Interdictum. On the opposing side the loyalist commander knew he was up against fanatical Volscians and at least one regiment of Vostroyans, supported by Cybixx's mechanicum forces. What the loyalists were not aware of, was that Vorushko had managed to secure limited Astartes support from the Sky Lords, and that the Grey Knights had arrived at Vandrax, and were horrified at what they considered a "lax" approach to daemon exposure by the loyalists and Hathek.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Federacy lose Destino II

Having failed to establish a bridgehead in the Destino system, and still avoiding an all out battle with the Loyalist fleet, General Elliott, commander of the Destino task force, found himself in a difficult position. Facing pressure from the Federal Council and lacking any real support from the rest of the "alliance", he knew that he had to make gains before the end of 017M42 or the operation to secure Destino for the Alliance would be over, and the chance to control a vital connection between the Federacy and the Tau Enclave would be gone.

Elliott landed troops on Destino II, backed up this time by the Federal Fleet, hoping to provoke the Imperium. Unfortunately it worked, but it was not only Enkvist's battlegroup that intercepted the federal force, but also a newly arrived force under Admiral Jellicoe himself. Outnumbered 2-1 the admiral of the Federal fleet withdrew, although the Tallaxian air force and storm trooper regiments would remain to provide air cover on the ground on Vandrax II.

With the Imperial fleet dominant over the planet, the Novgorod Guard landed with ease, and soon the battle lines were drawn on the world. Bombardments from both sides failed to inflict significant damage but an early charge from the Novgorod cavalry disrupted the Librian mobile firepower. The Federacy responded, but were unable to match the Imperial firepower, despite landing a precision drop of Tallaxian storm troops.

Thousands of Novgorod conscripts died and the imperium lost valuable tanks, but these could be replaced. Lacking a secure supply line the Librians were unable to hold their objectives and were gradually driven back into the wilderness of the planet. By 1611.017M42 they held nothing of value, and were asked to surrender. Realising there was no hope of escape many of the Librians gave up the fight, with a minority of Federal troops taking to the dusty wastelands of the world, disappearing into the nomadic tribes that roamed the plains. The Imperium had secured yet another planet in the system and the prospects for Federal victory looked bleaker than ever.

Chaos forced out of Vandrax system

Magnus' plan on Vandrax was only partially successful. He had managed to incite full scale war between the Crusade and Loyalists on Vandrax 2, and both sides were drawing up battle lines against each other. However, to leverage the results of this new conflict, Magnus needed to maintain a presence on the world himself. The Imperium knew this, and immediately launched an attack led by the Novgorod Guard into the chaos lines. Cultists were scattered, but soon Magnus arrived with his host of daemons known as the Emerald Serpent Cohort. 

The battle became intense as the Novgorod Guard advanced implacably into the chaos held bridgehead on the planet, and after days of fighting the daemonic entities had been worn down and once again Magnus had been banished back to the warp. Furious at his Iron Warriors "allies", who he accused of abandoning him for their own gain, Magnus was left once again brooding in the Warp as the forces of chaos were forced out of yet another of the important systems in the Foramen Interdictum.

Imperial Command 1611_017M42

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Blood Feud at Tarlius

The Imperial Fists had last engaged Stahl's Grand Company on 10.014.M42 and had lost a whole Battle Company at Bastien, now reinforced by the Indomitus Crusade they were eager for revenge. In early 11.017M42 the Imperial Fists completed translation into the Tarlius system, fighting their way through the blockade flotilla and defence lasers they made planetfall on the night side of the largest systems moon. The Iron Warriors set out to meet the sons of Dorn just beyond their construction sites. The Imperial Fists struck first, their aerial support cutting into Havoc squads who were unable to respond in the darkness, damage to the Iron Warrior Rhino's were swiftly repaired by Warpsmiths though. Both sides, despite their hatred of one another kept disciplined firing solutions. First blood went to the Iron Warriors as targetting augers designated the Dreadnought Fulgencio as a priority target who was left as a broken heap from Lascannon and Krak Missiles. 

Despite the the loss of  Fulgencio, the Imperial Fists had the advantage, and were slowly closing the noose around their bitter cousins. The most bloodthirsty Iron Warriors sprinted the dead ground between two forces with alarming speed into the Imperial Fists lines, cutting down whole squads. Imperial Fists maintained discipline and continued engage the Iron Warriors with a combination of Bolter and blade. The Iron Warriors had pushed back and for a time neither side could truly had the upper hand, the Iron Warriors dark ferocity being matched the Imperial Fists cool bolter drills. The turning point came when an Iron Warrior mortal cohort were able sneak behind the battle lines of the Imperial Fists and encircle them. On their own the cultists were no threat, but along with the Champions of the Iron Warriors assaulting from the front and continual fire from the IV's lines, the Imperial Fists found themselves trapped. 

Score of mortal fanatics beat the Imperial Fist Intercessors into the ground, and along with the maul of an Iron Warrior slave master, collapsed the  Imperial Fists left flank. If the Iron Warriors had broken earlier in the night and retreated when the advantage belonged to the Fists, but the Iron Warriors refused to give in and kept coming, regardless of casualties, their hatred knowing no bounds. The end came when Stahl demanded over the vox to Slave master Barghest to take the Imperial Fist Captains head, charging headlong into the warrior who had already cut down the Sorcerer Dweorgar. Barghest quickly discovered why the Sorcerer had failed as his blows clashed harmlessly off the Captains reinforced armour and was cut down by the Fist leader while the the remaining Imperial Fists charged the horde of slaves with Barghest and cut them down. The Captain success was short lived however, as criss crossing Lascannon fire bisected him, leaving the surviving Fists leaderless.

The morning sun revealed the carnage, yellow and steel bodies littered the battlefield, more Imperial Fists than Iron Warriors. The battered and bloody survivors were forced to retreat to orbit, leaving their slain. The Iron Warriors had gained Geneseed, Primaris corpses for their Warsmith to study and most of all, time to complete their fortifications.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Raid on Federacy aids Imperium

While the Imperium and chaos were embroiled in the war over Vandrax, a new force arrived in the Aleph Sector in 11.017M42. They arrived via the Valitane subsector, after having received astropathic messages from the Dark Angels of Magnus and his daemonic forces in the Foramen Interdictum. The Grey Knights had arrived.

As they approached the Foramen Warzone from the south however, to get to Vandrax they would first have to traverse the Foramen Minoris via Destino, where Federacy forces had repeatedly tried - and failed - to gain a foothold. Although having no involvement with the daemons the Knights were interested in, the Imperial force would still need to ensure their path was not blocked by the Federal fleet or worse, a full on invasion force.

With their transit of the Foramen in mind, the Grey Knights organised a lightning raid against Federal forces on the Alliance base at Protogonus. Here Librian, Tallaxian and other Federal regiments were equipping and training for the next Alliance assault on the Foramen, so on 07.11.017M42 the Grey Knights launched a surprise attack on an unprepared Librian force.

The initial assault shocked the Librian force to the core, with their armoured Leman Russ battle tanks proving unable to deal with the imperial firepower. As the Librians retreated in disarray, the Tallaxian Stormtroopers attempted an aerial assault behind the Knights in order to buy their federal allies some time to regroup. but the Grey Knights simply ignored the Tallaxians and completed the destruction of an entire Librian regiment before evacuating.

To their satisfaction, the Grey Knights noted the Federal Fleet communication as the Alliance pulled their naval assets back to Protogonus, fearing a full scale invasion of a critical strategic outpost. This left the Ordo Malleus task force with no opposition as they made the jump into the Foramen Interdictum. Destination Vandrax.

Stahl aids Magnus at Vandrax, defeated by Crusade

Having a Daemon Primarch active in the Aleph Sector was a matter of consternation for Warsmith Lycurgus Stahl as, along with the Cicatrix Maledictum, they put his position as the Master of Chaos forces in the Aleph sector in serious jeopardy. Matters were only compounded when Magnus sent emissaries to Minos to demand Stahl render aid to Vandrax over furthering his conquest of Tarlius.

Stahl could not afford a war with Thousand Sons, and so agreed to send a force. However Stahl had no intention of simply rolling over for the Cyclops. Under the command of Rybax, a Lord out of Stahl's favour, the Iron Warriors made landfall in the Vandrax system on 04.011.017M42. Within hours the Iron Warriors found themselves ambushed by the Cerberex Guard supported by Valkyries and the Tempestus Scions. Nearly half the Iron Warriors force was cut down before they could even respond, and when they did their heavy weapons were malfunctioning or sabotaged; Lascannons barely scratching the Guard vehicles. Rybax and Slavemaster Cerika attempted to break through the ambush, slaughtering their way through the Tempestus Scions Company and Imperial Guard infantry platoon, only for Rybax to be caught in the crossfire of the Imperial armoured spearhead and obliterated. The raid was a complete failure, Magnus would have to face the Imperium alone at Vandrax.

Vandrax - invasions of Vandrax 2

Closely following the Imperial Fists the loyalist fleet arrived at Vandrax on 05.11.017M42. Their arrival alarmed Archmagos Cybixx, who was unaware of the Loyalist's ongoing struggle with Magnus, and the Adeptus Mechanicus forces loyal to Vorushko's crusade merely interpreted their arrival as a reinforcement of Hathek's loyalist forces. Cybixx decided to strike at the landing Lycaon Guard, and two major set piece battles took place on the plains of Vandrax 2 as the Lycaon landed and began expanding their perimeter.

The Lycaon Guard however had be re-equipped by the fragment of the Indomitus crusade that had arrived in the Aleph Sector, and were well prepared for Cybixx's intervention. Furious battles raged across the front line for two days but the guard were unphased by Cybixx's ancient technology, and dealt the Archmagos two heavy defeats, forcing the crusade back and allowing the Loyalists to secure a significant bridgehead on the planet.

The Adeptus Mechanicus did not try to sway the Lycaon Guard to the Crusade cause, and the Imperial Fists were outraged by the act of unprovoked aggression towards their Imperial brethren. Determined to put the Mechanicum in their place the Astartes then immediately prepared a raid to complete the destruction of Cybixx's recidivist forces on Vandrax 2.

The Imperial Fists' raid was however an unmitigated disaster. Cybixx had forewarning of the attack from spies in the loyalist force and was able to effectively ambush the Astartes force before they were prepared. The initial mechanicum firestorm was crippling, with the Imperial Fists losing much of their armour and equipment. Realising there was no chance of success the remaining space marines withdrew, leaving Vandrax 2 contested between Crusade, Loyalist and chaos sectors of control.