Monday, October 30, 2017

Tarlius current

Tarlius: The Dark Angel's Assault

Now free of Inquisitor Constantine's meddling the Dark Angels were free to return to their primary objectives and continue the fight against the heretic Astartes plaguing the sector. Acting on intelligence of a high value target in the Tarlius system the Dark Angels deployed a rapid strike force with the goal of eliminating it.

The target was a mastadon, a mighty super heavy transport dating back to the dark age of technology, now daemonically possessed and put to foul usage by the traitor legions of the heretic Astartes. Annihilating it and its deadly cargo would deal a severe blow to the Chaos efforts on Tarlius.

The Dark Angels attacked with their customary speed and ferocity, focused beams of lascannon energy slamming into the might war machine as the Ravenwing sped forwards to engage it. Crippled and boxed in amidst the dense ruins the mastadon disgorged its cargo, a wave of enraged and blood crazed Bezerkers who sprinted towards the Dark Angel's positions.

Wave after wave was mown down and the traitor forces sustained severe casualties, but so did the Dark Angels who were unable to match Khorn's chosen warriors in unbridled rage. Despite being heavily crippled in the opening seconds of the engagement the mastadon proved impervious to further harm, seemingly blessed by its foul patron. As the Dark Angel's casualties mounted they shifted their fire away from it, hoping to preserve their forces and retain control of the battlefield. In this they were partially successful but it came at the cost of ending the mastadon's vile existence.

Accepting that to persist would only result in their own destruction the Dark Angels reluctantly withdrew and left the forces of Chaos battered but triumphant.

Carnage at Tarlius - The Iron Warriors make gains

Sector Commander Titus Luthor realised the rising threat in Tarlius system, after the Novgorod Guard had managed to stall the Iron Warriors without support, Luthor was confident that with in system support they could smash the Chaos advance. Answering their call for aid the Dark Angels sent in a Strike Cruiser for the fresh offensive.

On 2810.017M42 the strike force advanced in system. The Novgorod made planetfall their assault upon the Iron Warriors. The Imperial plan was a hammer and anvil assault, the Novgorod occupying traitor forces while the Dark Angels attack broke through elsewhere.  The Novgorod attack went initially as planned, preliminary bombardments provoking a response from the Iron Warriors who inflicted heavy casualties in return. Colonel Mikhailov in the field callously ordered his Conscripts into the path of the Iron Warriors who obligingly slaughtered them before tearing into the veteran Novgorod. Novgorod cavalry outflanked but were too caught out by the Iron Warriors. It appeared that stalemate of attrition and slaughter would once again repeat as planned. However Stahl had heavily fortified and supplied his positions, meaning constant resupply and rearmament utterly outclassed the Guardsman who found themselves rapidly overwhelmed despite inflicting casualties. The last pict recordings of the battle to command was from Colonel Mikhailov’s ocular implant as he was beheaded by a Berzerker. 

In a simultaneous battle the Dark Angels fared little better, expecting little resistance the Dark Angels were confronted by a single massive Mastodon Assault Transport. The Dark Angels directed all their firepower into the monstrous vehicle damaging but not destroying it. The Khornate Bezerker horde within charged from the Mastodon, first crashing into the Raven Wing screening the main force then into the line itself. The Mastodon was heavily damaged but any hope of a break through attack was an abject failure and the Dark Angels were forced to withdraw.

Rather than slow the Iron Warrior advance, the Imperial forces instead strengthened the Stahl’s position as further Chaos forces were drawn under Stahl’s banner, the planet and fortified. Activated defence lasers that began targeting the orbiting Imperial fleet forcing a full withdraw from the Tarlius system.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Foramen Campaign: Latest events

Cybixx aids Ultramarines in defence of Destino

Despite the Crusade being involved in open war with Hathek’s “loyalists” in the Vandrax system, Vorushko and her allies were still fiercely loyal to the Imperium. In late 10.017M42 Archmagos Dominus Cybixx informed Inquisitor Vorushko, now making her way to the Foramen war zone from the Hadron Expanse, that Hathek had been taxing Titus Luthor’s forces to the point where both the Destino and Tarlius system’s were becoming vulnerable to external threats. Cybixx had already used his knowledge of the Foramen to swiftly deploy and prevent the Iron Warriors from consolidating their hold on Tarlius, but now turned his attention to Destino. Taking a considerable risk, Cybixx returned from Tarlius then immediately embarked on a new mission, hearing that the Ultramarines had engaged the Necrons on Destino 1. 

The Ultramarines learned of the necron victory over the Imperial guard force on the innermost planet of the Destine system and despatched much of their strength to counter the alien threat. The Ultramarines assault went well, with the Charnovokh defeated and sent into full retreat, but this left the outer systems vulnerable to the Federal Battlegroup. Realising this, General Elliott of the Federal Task force immediately seized on the opportunity and landed in strength on the outermost terrestrial world of the system. However, by this time Cybixx battlegroup arrived. Faced with a superior Mechanism fleet the Federal vessels were obliged to withdraw or risk critical damage to their task force, but warned their troops on the ground to dig in and expect immediate attack.

The attack duly came, led by Cybixx himself, but the Librians, supported by the Tallaxian Air Force which gave valuable spotting information, were prepared. The Federally had an elaborate agent network within the Imperium, and they knew Cybixx’s preferred methods and strategies. Immediately the battle robots came under concentrated fire, and the lighter mechanics ground forces took terrible punishment from Liberian small arms fire. The Mechanics still managed to put up a hail of fire themselves however, with the Knight in their army performing a critical role dealing with Liberian armour. Soon the Liberians had lost their entire tank compliment, but almost managed to break the Mechanicus assault by instigating a well timed air drop of elite Tallaxian stormtroopers. The federal force fought hard, inflicting serious harm on the Mechanics, but eventually Cybixx himself and the Knight were the difference between the two armies. 

By 2310.017M42 the Federal force had run out of heavy weapons and armour to deal with the giant walker, and soon found themselves in full retreat. Most were rescued by the Tallaxian Air Force who managed to airlift the remaining Librians and rejoin the fleet, but were forced to abandon their equipment and remaining tanks. Cybixx, the job done, did not waste any time consolidating his position. By now the Loyalist fleet were aware of the battle on the planet and would be moving to investigate. Unsure how the Destino fleet would react to the Crusade presence, Cybixx left for Vandrax. He had prevented the Federally from gaining a foothold and potentially helped the Loyalist cause, but if Vorushko’s plan should fail, then better for the Imperium to control the Foramen Minors than the heretical Federacy and their Tau allies. Meanwhile the morale in the Federal Battlegroup reached a new low, as the Alliance considered their response to yet another failure.

Lycaon offensive smashes chaos at Paradorn

After repeated engagements with the forces of Chaos the Lycaon Guard removed the final chaos presence from Paradorn 1 in a series of small engagements in mid 10.017M42. This now left Paradorn 3 as the major site in the system remaining with a chaos presence.

The warp strength in the Foramen operated within normal level thanks to the influence of the Necron Device on Corticant, meaning the chaos forces were subject to the physical laws of logistics and resupply. This was in fact the promary reason for Magnus' interest in the world. He aimed to claim Paradorn as a staging post to domination of the Foramen, before assaulting Corticant itself, already a warzone, and removing the device.

The Lycaon's however landed on Paradorn 3 with a large force, supported by the Imperial battlegroup which gavce them total command of the air. Regiments of Lycaon bore down on the heretic Darrantine Guard, and despite the appearance of Magnus himself at the head of a host of daemons, sheer overwhelming firepower was brought to bear on the traitor forces and within hours the main assault had smashed the chaos forces on the world.

Thousands of Darrantine were rounded up and executed, while Magnus fled once again to the warp, his plans in tatters. By the end of 10.017M42 the loyalist imperium were in control of most of the system's planets, and had begun construction of several outposts and bases. Next Titus Luthor planned the construction of a space port and to turn the system into an imperial base, securing one end of the Foramen. However first he would have to deal with the Eldar...

Novgorod continue offensive on Hylas

Van Dorn's offensive on Hylas continued in 10.017M42 with a drive south into the plains of West Coast towards Berkeley. Out on the rolling open plains the Novgorod Guard spearheading the offensive found the greenskin counter rushes easier to deal with, as artillery and massed lasgun fire cut down the orks in swathes.

Van Dorn did note however that the orks he was encountering were not Von Bismork's and that Warboss Kogh had sent at least some of his boyz back to Hylas. This was unsettling to the Imperial General, as he had hoped to close out the war against the orks by the end of 017M42. Now that was looking increasingly unlikely.

Even so as the Novgorod war machine rolled into Berkeley there was cheering from the remaining human population, who had been put to work as slaves for the greenskin race. Ugly alien "modifikashuns" to buildings were torn down, remaining Xenos were hunted down and mercilessly dispatched, and the war on Hylas continued to tip in the favour of the Imperium.

Iron Warriors face resistance at Talius

After the raids against their Manufactoria in the Tarlius system, the Mechanicus, no longer trusting the capabilities of the Astra Militarum, tightened their defences, with Archmagos Cybixx himself making the short warp jump from Vandrax to Tarlius via the Foramen. Having laid a trap the next Iron Warrior raiding force took the bait on 2210.17M42. The Archmagos had taken personal command of the Mechanicum forces and directed the early fusillade against the Iron Warrior landing zone, obliterating two thirds of the Legionaries mortal cohort in the opening minutes. Simultaneously a Callidus Assassin briefed to infiltrate the traitor forces launched an attack in an attempt to replace Stahl's lieutenant. The Callidus failed in her mission, being caught by the remaining cultists and though she took most their number down she was beaten to death with rifle butts. 

The Iron Warrior Berzerkers raced forward in armoured carriers as Havocs return fire crippling the Mechanicum’s knightly support. The Berzerkers tore into the Mechanicums centre line as cultist reinforcements flooded the area, the Archmagos had momentary pause as the sheer slaughter brought by the blood mad killers threw off it's calculations. Wrecked robots lay at the Berserkers feet as one scaled the side of the Knight to rip it's pilot from her hatch and take her skull. New orders circled the noosphere and the Mechanicum reformed, recalculated and reloaded, cutting down the Berzerkers finally stopping the chaos assault. Bloodied and crippled, the Iron Warriors abandoned their raid on Tarlius 1. The Mechanicum, having put down the raids in the Tarlius system, returned to Vandrax. Cybixx had no interest in the system for the Crusade, but without a significant reinforcement he understood that the efforts of Vorushko in her crusade would be for nothing if chaos took the northern route of the Foramen. Cybixx returned to the fortification of Vandrax, while notifying loyalist forces nearer to Tarlius.

Within 24 hours, the Iron Warriors had returned, but this time the Loyalists had arrived. A force of Novgorod Guard had been sent to prevent the undocumented system from falling into chaos hands. On an unnamed planet in the system, Imperial and Iron Warrior forces both moved to secure it for themselves, having found a human settlement existing on the world outside the rule of the Imperium. Two Novgorod regiments landed opposed by Iron Warrior Legionaries. For days both sides laboured on earthworks, trenches and fortifications around a forgotten city, punctuated by defensive shelling of their opposites and sending civilians fleeing the now ruined hab blocks. On the 8th day the Novogorod scouts reporting the IV Legion were preparing to assault, and so pre-emptively launched a preliminary bombardment. The traitors in response rose up and charge forward, the Warsmith commanding his pet Helldrake to teach the human general a lesson. 

The Helldrake screeched from the skies and roasted the Novgorod General alive before tearing into the offending Basilisks responsible for the bombardment. To their credit, or more accurately the Commissars, the Novgorod kept their heads. Conscripts and Cultists flooded the ruined city, as Obliterators tore a hole in reality to unleash fire upon the Novgorod tank support. The left flank of the Novgorod was at risk and the cavalry scouts appeared behind enemy lines, with half their number appearing behind the Iron Warriors on their left flank. With Berzerkers screaming into Novogorod conscripts and support teams the day was a slaughter, punctuated by retreats, firefights and barked orders. The Novogorod Cavalry succeeded in taking the Iron Warriors right flank but the Iron Warriors tore through the Guard centre, heedless of casualties. As the Guard and Cultists fell upon each other all semblance of order left the battle. The slaughter went on for half a day seemingly driving all blood mad, one notable where a company of Novgorod, bouyed by their regimental priest performed a massed bayonet charge into Khorne Berzerkers, who beheaded everyone including their irksome priest before moving onto the Commissars. Neither side could get the upper hand and as night fell the battered remnants of the armies fell back, neither making any headway save for slaughter and carnage. Khorne was pleased, as regardless of victory, the blood flowed.

Realising that the Warsmith Stahl had a significant force in the system and these were not just raids, Sector Commander Titus Luthor readied yet another battlegroup to move into the Tarlius system. Meanwhile the Novgorod withdrew, fearing becoming trapped in system with no fleet support. Meanwhile Lord Inquisitor Hathek continued fortifying the planets he already had a foothold on, conscious now that Vorushko was far from his only threat.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Foramen Campaign Latest Events

Vandrax 1: Dark Angels and Vostroyans clash

By 1810.017M42 the inner planets of the Vandrax system had come under invasion from Crusade forces following the completion of the space port on Vandrax 3. Vandrax 2, the planet most likely to form the basis of a colony in the system, had already been landed upon by the Crusade, but on Vandrax 1, a hot mostly barren world of endless savannah, the Crusade did not arrive first. Hathek, determined to encircle the Crusade to "contain" the threat sent a force of Vostroyans to set up a listening post on the world, and to establish the beginnings of a base for future expansion and colonisation.

As with the Cerberex Guard on Vandrax 2, the Vostroyans were immediately beset by a host of daemons, as the denizens of the warp clearly felt that mortal imperial domination of Vandrax could not be allowed to go uncontested. However the necron device creating the Foramen also limits the amount of time Daemons can exist in the real world within the pathway, so although the daemonic hordes attacked aggressively, they were unable to deal with disciplined ranks of Imperial guard and overwhelming Vostryoan firepower.

Inquisitor Vorushko soon found out about the daemonic incursions on Vandrax 1 and 2, through astropathic communication with Inquisitor Constantine. The Cerberex Guard, she concluded, were low risk, but the Vostryans would likely need to be purged following their contact with daemons, as well as the obvious fact that Hathek was now laying the foundations of bases in order to encircle her and the Crusade base on Vandrax 3. It was Constantine who suggested that she, along with her accompanying Dark Angels company, could make a landing on Vandrax 1, demand the Vostroyans submit to cleansing and should they refuse, eliminate the force.

Vorushko thought about this suggestion. Clearly Constantine was allying herself to the Crusade and Vorushko's cause. She had also suggested a way that might allow the Dark Angels, while officially not taking sides in the Aleph Inquisiton War, could lend support to the Crusade for which they had overwhleming sympathy - without crossing swords with other astartes chapters. It would also allow a vacant Vandrax 1 to be occupied by Crusade forces. The question was, what did Constantine have to gain from this?

Upon landing there was a tense standoff between the Vostroyans, the Dark Angels and Constantine, and for a while it looked as if the Guard were willing to submit to "cleansing". However this wasn't something Constantine actually wanted, so the Inquisitor gave the harshest terms imaginable to the Novgorod general. More than 75% of the regiment were to be "purified" and the Vostroyans had 30 standard minutes to reply. This was enough time for the Novgorod commander to contact Hathek, who countermanded the inquisitorial order with some surprise. Who was Constantine? Outranking her considerably he flatly rejected what he considered to be a lacky of Vorushko, and ordered the Vostroyans to resist any action by the Inquisitor.

However, critically, the Novgorod failed to inform Hathek of the Dark Angels presence, and on 1510.017M42 the astartes force, led by Constantine moved aggressively towards the Novgorod lines. Eventually there came a decision point and with no other options, the loyalist guardsmen opened fire on Inquisitor Constantine and her retinue. The Dark Angels immediately ordered them to desist in further attacks and return to barracks, resulting in the Novgorod launch an all out attack against the them. Massively outnumbered the Dark Angels were defeated, the last of them forming a ring against a horde of guardsmen in brutal close quarter fighting. Inquisitor Constantine and many wounded Dark Angels were then taken prisoner by the Novgorod Guard. Constantine's own assassin escaped into the wilderness and the Dark Angels Chaplain who commanded the force also escaped, managing to make his way back to the rest of his company to make a full report.

The Dark Angels and inquisitor Constantine were handed over some hours later to a rather exasperated Inquisitor Lord Hathek. Amid furious calls from the Dark Angels for the immediate and unconditional return of their Marines, calling the action on Vandrax 1 a "traitorous rebellion we shall name the Vostroyan Heresy" deserving of the "Emperor's justice", Hathek had no choice but to respond by immediately returning the astartes prisoners to their chapter, stating:

"The Vostroyan "heresy" is no heresy. Perhaps the Dark Angels should investigate Inquisitor Lord Vorushko's own heresy and the renegade Adeptus Mechanicus she has building her a base on Vandrax 3. A base the Ultramarines have attempted to investigate twice and been fought by the Mechanicum. Or perhaps Vorushko's forces apparently trying to prevent the Imperial Fists from establishing a base on the outermost planet?"

The Dark Angels made no reply. Constantine meanwhile remained in the custody of Hathek, while he attempted to ascertain who she was and more importantly - what connections she had...

Crusade launch invasion of Vandrax 2

Now the Crusade base on Vandrax 3 was fully operational, the commander of Crusade forces in the system agreed that the neighbouring planet, designated merely Vandrax 2, was the next target. Rich in resources and a potential colony, this planet would be the target of Federal and loyalist attacks. The crusade had no intention of settling the system but full control of the planets of Vandrax was required to allow the Mechanicum to continue their work to close the Foramen Majoris - Vorushko's unintentional accessory pathway.

The Cereberex Guard were selected to escort the Mechanicum survey team to the planet, and it was fortunate they did, as soon strange readings were detected from near the landing site. Within hours a tear in reality overcame the power of the Foramen, and the daemonic hosts of Nurgle appeared, angry at what the Crusade - or rather Vorushko herself - had done to Papa Nurgles plans.

The Cerberex forces set their defensive line on a ridge overlooking the plains where the forces of Nurgle had materialised and ordered their men to open fire. A ferocious hail of fire smashed into the daemonic lines, but the majority of the nurgle beasts endured. Relentlessly the misshapen nightmares of the warp closed on the Cerberex guard lines, until they met in gruesome hand to hand combat. Eventually the overwhelming firepower of the Imperial Guard told, and the remnants of the daemonic horde were banished back to the warp, but not before many hundreds of Cerberex guard had been slain. Worse still, according to edict 17 of the Ordo Hereticus, the Cerberex Guard systematically executed every guardsmen who had been in physical contact with the daemons, to prevent contamination and further outbreak. Hundreds more died in this way, but their deaths were recorded as "slain in battle" in the fight against chaos. Meanwhile the crusade had a foothold on Vandrax 2.

Vandrax 5: New Gregoria base founded

While the Ultramarinex conducted their unsuccesful raids on Vandrax 3, the Imperial Fists conducted a raid on the outermost planet, designated Vandrax 5. They had scouted the planet with orbital scans and were satisfied the only presence on the world was a small Crusade Mechanicum force. Following their doctrine to the letter, the Fists decided upon a landing zone with dense cover, including a high rocky outcrop which gave them a commanding view over the Crusade landing zone. The Mechanicum forces were then forced to deal with the Imperial Fists threat looking down on them, and in the ensuing firefight the astartes chapter quickly got the upper hand, using the terrain to their advantage. Unable to put up a meaningful defence of their landing zone the Crusade abandoned the world, and the Imperial Fists got to work creating their own base, christened New Gregoria, starting with scanners and survey equipment. By 1710.017M42 the astartes had complete control of the planet and would have forewarning of any raid or landing assault. This would prove to be an invaluable asset to Hathek's loyalists in the Vandrax system.

Vandrax 3: Cybixx defends Spaceport from Ultramarines strike

Archmagos Dominus Licussian Cybixx had become a key architect of the Crusade following the Noctis Aeterna. Cybixx had joined Vorushko's cause after the events on Corticant opened the Foramen, and now, for reasons as yet generally unknown, he brought his considerable weight in knowledge and Mechanicum forces behind the Crusade. With his small but powerful Mechanicum fleet stationed nearby, Cybixx continued construction of the Space Port on Vandrax 3 while putting in plans to create "further installations" as necessary. 

Inquisitor Hathek, now personally aboard the Sir Gallahad, had the support of the Imperial Fists and Ultramarines chapters, who had been convinced the Mechanicum ad Cybixx at least were up to no good, and should be brought to heel. The Imperial Fists set off for the outermost planet, while the ultramarines prepared a lightning raid against the crusade Space Port to render it ineffective, preparing the way for a loyalist invasion of the world.

The Crusade forces were however ready for this attack, and Cybixx himself personally commanded his forces where the battle was at its most intense. Splitting into two forces the Ultramarines tried a two pronged attack. However on one flank they were fought to a standstill by the Mechanicum, whereas on the other, where Cybixx was involved, the Ultramarines were themselves ambushed and took heavy casualties. The raid on Vandrax 3 was a total failure, and Cybixx continued with his construction, while a badle beaten Ultramarines force returned to the Loyalist fleet.

Destino - Necrons arrive

In mid 10.017M42 Inquisitor Vorushko's worst fears were realised as the loyalist forces in the Destino system, fresh from their victories againts the alliance, made landfall on the innermost rocky planet of the system. Having already established a presence on Destino 4 and a base on Destino 3, Destino 1 looked like a potential site for a space port and major hub at the southern end of the Foramen Interdictum. 

Landing on the world was easy enough, but soon the perimeter of the Imperial guard forces accompanying the explorators and tech adepts came under ferocious assault from the armies of the Necron Xenos. It was unclear which dynasty these necrons belonged to, but despite the imperial guard's best efforts to hunker down into a defensive posture, the aliens eventually gained the upper hand, breaking through the imperial defence perimeter and annihilating the entire landing party. The overall commander of the Destino expedition now had two enemies to be on her guard against, the alliance and the necrons.

Warsmith Stahl arrives on Tarlius

Since the unleashing the Cicatrix Maledictum, there had been no sign of the Iron Warriors in the Aleph Sector. Warsmith Stahl's position was far more precarious with resurgence of Chaos forces and some hoped he'd been deposed by his own treacherous forces. These hopes were dashed in the later months of 17M42. In the dead of night a Mechanicum manufactorum came under attack from the Stahl's forces; the only warning being the opening fusillade which left their regions tank commander dead. From horizon to horizon a tide of human traitors, cultists and madmen hurled themselves at the Volscians. The Iron Warriors pressed their human slaves forward heedless of casualties determined to choke the Volscian guns with bodies. The Volscians, unable to pick out the Havoc and Predator positions in the dark, suffered as Leman Russ tanks were methodically destroyed one after another. The tide appeared to turn as the Iron Warriors daemonic slavemaster was banished causing the cultists to panic and flee and the Volscians could finally push forward. The IV simply sent in another tide of traitors to choke the Volscians guns once more. As the night drew to dawn it was clear the situation was hopeless for the Imperium. The battlefield was carpeted with corpses. The Imperial defences overrun, and the Manufactorum plundered. In the coming weeks Imperial listening posts in the Tarlius system reported the Iron Warriors had landed on the outermost planet, fortifying and constructing orbital defences, embedding themselves like a barbed hook, a declaration to both Imperial and Chaos forces that the Tarlius system belonged to the Iron Warriors.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Paradorn contested, chaos build base

On Paradorn the situation was far more fluid than at Vandrax or Destino. At Vandrax the crusade were locked in a war with the Loyalists as Inquisitor Hathek tried to prevent the destruction of the Foramen Maxoris by Vorushko, while the Federacy fought the Imperium as a united entity at Destino. On Paradorn however, the most critical system, the war had already become one with four sides. The Alliance had been unable to gain a foothold, while the Imperial Fists had all but secured Paradorn 1 after stopping Magnus the Red from performing his arcane ritual.

On Paradorn 2, the eldar had so far eliminated anyone straying too close, but had not as yet made a move elsewhere in the system. Paradorn 4, the outermost system had seen the successful installation of an Imperial base, but Paradorn 3 was now the realm of the Thousand Sons. Realising the threat of having a chaos controlled world between their base and the inner planets, the Adeptus Mechanicus sent a small probing force to the planet to analyse the situation. Unfortunately they were soon discovered by the forces of chaos and slain to a man, although they did manage to report to the Imperium that the Thousand sons had not been idle. There was now a small base on Paradorn 3 which had the potential of becoming a thorn in the side of Imperial ambitions to control the system, and thus control the entrance to the Foramen Interdictum.

Vandrax: Archmagos Cybixx begins construction

On Vandrax Inquisitor Vorushko's forces continued to construct their base on Vandrax 4. Inquisitor Hathek, deciding that chasing the Inquisitor across half the galaxy would not result in a swift outcome, decided instead to attempt to destroy the Crusade's foothold on the planet by sending in the Novgorod Guard. However, upon landing the Loyalist force found the planet already undergoing significant defensive works, and could see that a Spaceport was being constructed by the Mechanicum loyal to the Crusade. Upon hearing this Hathek ordered an immediate attack. The Crusade could not be allowed to build a space port on Vandrax 3 as this would give them a commanding position over the system.

Recognising the Spaceport as the primary target the Novogorod duly attacked, but found the Mechanicum defenders, led by Archmagos Dominus Licussian Cybixx himself, to be a formidable foe. Despite sending in wave after wave of loyal Novgorod guardsmen, the Crusade Mechanicum force held on, requiring the removal of all remaining loyalist forces by Pendragon's fleet.

The confirmation that Cybixx  had joined Vorushko's crusade was a blow to Hathek. The Archmagos had connections within the Adeptus Mechanicum, and his influence was a risk to his own position. However, Cybixx  was a deeply logical being, so perhaps he could be persuaded to switch sides? Hathek began preparing his case.

Imperium hold off Alliance at Destino

Federal commander Elliott was duly reinforced with a small contingent of Tau forces in early 10.017M42 at the critical system of Destino. The Federal battlegroup was now able to land a significant force on Destino 3 and Destino 4. On the third planet the Librian federal army, comprising of the once proud imperial 101st regiment, landed in force, but found the imperial installations already well under construction and well defended. Worse still, the imperial defenders quickly requested assistance, and soon an astartes strike cruiser was detected in orbit around the planet. Once again the federal fleet was unable to intercede, fearing mutual annihilation in space, a situation neither side wanted at this stage. The Librians would have to hold out against whatever the Imperium threw at them.

The Imperial Fists chapter immediately assaulted the Librian armoured bridgehead and found the heavy guns of the armoured federal forces difficult to deal with. Taking heavy casualties and losing their command Land Raider, the Imperial Fists looked like being broken on the Librian lines, but they persisted. Soon the astartes had managed to secure the rough ground around the federal drop site, and were able to weather the storm of fire long enough to eventually assault the bridgehead itself with their remaining elite shock troops. Leading from the front, the astartes captain personally took the fight to the Librians, cutting down the traitors and opening a gap in the federal lines.

Despite some heroic efforts, including a federal trooper gunning down a charging ancient with his meltagun while his comrades ran for cover, the federal force had been broken and the bridgehead made untenable. The Imperial Fists had taken significant casualties, but they had prevented the Librians from moving on the imperial base long enough for the Lycaons and Novgorod to surround the federal landing site. Once again Commander Elliott had to effect a desperate evacuation, but many Librians were taken prisoner and almost all their equipment lost.

Meanwhile on Destino 4 a small stealth Cadre of Tau landed for a reconnaissance mission. Expecting little or no resistance they found the Imperial battlegroup had already managed to land troops on the cold barren world, and had started building up installations as per Luthor's grand plan. In a fierce firefight, the Lycaon Guard were never in real danger of being destroyed by the Tau, but at times they were hard pressed to stop the alliance force from overrunning critical installations. However the Imperial line held and the alliance had to undertake yet another evacuation.

Three assaults, three evacuations. Now the alliance had to make some difficult decisions as the Imperium had completed their orbital defences around Destino 3 and were well entrenched in the system. However, the system was so important to the alliance they could not afford the Imperium to take it uncontested. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Imperium establishes base on Destino 3

While Vandrax was coming under assault by Loyalist and Crusade forces, the southern system of Destino, at the Federal end of the Foramen Interdictum, had been reached by the Federal battlegroup led by the battleship Haskell. The federal force intended to land forces on the worlds in the system in order to establish a base on the world in order to access the Perseus Deeps. However, upon arrival, the federal forces found the imperium already there, and a sizeable fleet in the vicinity. 

The federal battlegroup included several Tallaxian and Hartak regiments, but also a number of Librian regiments, who had been taken to the Federacy before the coming of the Cicatrix for training and "good will" missions. The Librian forces outnumbered the other federal forces and were keen to take the fight to the imperium, so the federal commander deployed the librians to Destino 3, while staying near the system jump point in case of Imperial intervention from Admiral Enkvist's fleet. The plan to land forces on the other worlds would have to wait.

The Librians landed on Destino 3 and advanced on what appeared to be a small imperial base. However the base was not undefended, and an equal sized Lycaon regiment had been stationed to protect the facility from just such an assault. Both sides quickly engaged in a brutal and unforgiving firefight, with the Librians at first appearing to gain the upper hand. However massed accurate lascannon fire from the Lycaon anti tank weapons quickly neutralised the Librian armour, leaving the infantry dreadfully exposed. Hand to hand fighting in the dense forests of the planet took its toll, with the Imperial numbers and possibly their faith overcoming Librian enthusiasm. In just two days, the Librians were falling back having failed to break the Lycaon defenders. Federal commander Elliot briefly discussed reinforcing the Librians, but was persuaded to evacuate. The Federacy could not hope to win a war of attrition, especially not for one small world of the system. The Librians were evacuated and the Federacy considered its options.

Vandrax comes under Loyalist assault

Inquisitor Hathek soon found out about Vorushko's landing on Vandrax. However his attempts to declare the Inquisitor lord a heretic were met with a muted response from the Indomitus crusade, and a luke warm reception from Titus Luthor. However, Hathek did manage to persuade Luthor to give him access to the Imperial fleet stationed at Farport, and his Inquisitor Lord rank still gave him enough leverage over the administratum to secure several regiments of Imperial Guard. Admiral Jellicoe remained with his fleet in the Vastrid subsector, except those forces at Bastien, while Admiral Barham had been sent with the Indomitus crusade to Paradorn, Enkvist's fleet had been sent to Destino, which left Admiral Pendragon free for Inquisitor Hathek's use.

The Vandrax assault battlegroup comprised of several capital ships, led by Sir Gallahad, recently refitted at Farport. Ground forces comprised of Novgorod Guard and Vannaheim Guard, although the Order of the Crimson Veil, once part of the Crusade, had also joined Hathek, now believing their former actions as errant, and keen to make penance. Hathek's force was boosted however, by a company of Space Wolves who were eager to see the back of Inquisitor Vorushko, and a company of Howling Griffons who Hathek was able to convince of her treachery.

The imperial battlegroup arrived at Vandrax to find the Crusade already entrenched and established on the third and fourth worlds of the system, but their fleet declined to come to battle. Evenly matched, the two fleets would likely mutually annihilate, leaving neither side the victor. Instead the war would be fought on the planets themselves.

The Howling Griffons made planetfall on Vandrax IV, a cold and barren ice world, where they engaged Adeptus Mechanicus forces after their refusal to surrender. The battle was brief and bloody, but ended with Vandrax IV being secured for the "loyalist" imperium. Meanwhile the main force of Hathek's battlegroup landed outside the defensive perimeter of the Crusade outpost, and began a three pronged assault. On the left flank the Space Wolves engaged the crusade adeptus mechanicus, but found the mechanicum forces well entrenched. Despite the fury of the Space marin charge the astartes took heavy casualties and were unable to breach the defensive lines of the crusade. Meanwhile a well equipped Volscian regiment in the centre cut down the Adeptus Sororitas and Vannaheim guard in short order, breaking the loyalist attack. The right flank saw the Cerberex guard hold out under heavy assault from ranks of Novgorod Guard, but in the end this battle, though bloody, was in vain for Hathek's loyalists anyway, as the crusade perimeter had held.

Disappointed with the assault, Hathek pulled his forces back to the battlegroup and moved into orbit around Vandrax 4. Vorushko was not at Vandrax in person, much to Hathek's annoyance, and now the Inquisitor lord needed to decide whether to press home the attack on Vandrax or go after Vorushko herself.

Vorushko's Crusade returns

Aboard her flagship Lord of Light, Inquisitor Vorushko studied the data slate intensely. The translated astropathic message was clear, and worrying. The arrival of a splinter fleet of the Indomitus crusade was not cause for rejoicing to the Inquisitor Lord, and the news that Inquisitor Hathek had made contact with it before her was certainly cause for alarm. Vorushko felt her anger and hatred of hathek rise within her. She had been right all along, and yet the fool was still not listening. Now the old man had convinced Titus Luthor at least that Vorushko was a heretic, and should be excommunicated.

Nothing could be further from the truth of course. Vorushko had legally excommunicated Libria for its dealings with the Tau Empire, and because of Hathek's medling the system had been lost. The remaining imperial worlds of the Perseus Deeps, now in the Imperium Nihilis, had only been saved from certain destruction by the acts of her agents, acts which Hathek had taken credit for despite actively opposing them, and failing. With Hathek now having the sector commander's ear, she could no longer be assured of Luthor's loyalty, and began preparing for the worst.

Vorushko's greates fear was that the Imperium, guided by Hathek, would be able to bring significant forces to bear on the systems crucial to the control of the Foramen Interdictum, the only stable accessway between Terra and the Dark Imperium. The northern channel, between Vastrid and the Deeps, she had little concern over. The Indomitus crusade and imperial forces would hopefully overcome Xenos and heretical forces and keep the channel to Bastien open. However the southern route, which led to the Federacy, she knew would be crucial to the Tau-federal alliance, and from her dealings with Lord Inquisitor Huron, the necrons as well. Huron had left her, travelling into the Hadron expanse in search of more pathways through the warpscar. This "accessory pathway" would need to be removed to ensure a united necron empire and a route between the Federacy and the Tau Aleph expansion sphere could be prevented.

Hathek she predicted, would not agree. The Inquisitor lord was fixated on controlling both pathways, not realising the danger of merely giving the aliens and heretics an opportunity to reunite against the imperium. Her instinct also warned of a possible future alliance between the Federacy, Tau empire and Imperium in the sector, brokered by Hathek. This would be disastrous, and had to be prevented. Vorushko needed to get to the southern route first, create a base and seek ways to destroy the accessory pathway before Hathek got there.

The system of Vandrax was selected for invasion. Vorushko could still count on a number of vessels from Admiral Doenitz's fleet, as well as a small number of inquisition and Adeptus Mechanicus vessels. For ground forces she still had the Volscians, the Angels Redemptive, a force of Adeptus Mechanicus and the Sky Lords chapter of Marines. Other Astartes were hard to come by. Most sided with Hathek, or, like the Dark Angels, sympathised with her position but refused to get involved in internal Inquisition affairs. Others like the Minotaurs and Carcharadons had disappeared during the Noctus Aeterna, or been severely weakened. However the Dark Angels did offer her a regiment of Cerberex Guard, who had stayed loyal to the Imperium despite losing their homeworld to the Federacy.

On 0110.017M42 the fleet assembled and made the short warp jump to Vandrax from Vorushko's base on Bastien. There the crusade immediately encountered energy readings from the third planet, and a force of Mechanicum made landfall. Finding a small scouting force of Necrons from the CHarnovokh dynasty, a short but intense fight eliminated the necron threat, and the landings began in earnest. Vorushko had been right to be concerned, as the necrons had already appeared, no doubt seeking to reunite their shattered empire. The crusade force began building their base, securing a perimeter, and waiting for the inevitable counter assault. But who from?

Friday, October 06, 2017

Inquisitor Constantine arrives at Paradorn

Following their deadly encounter with the Daemon Primarch Magnus the Dark Angels had lodged a full report and begun preparations to mount an all out crusade against the emerging Chaos threat. It was as they made ready to break orbit around a frozen rogue planet in the depths of deep space that the Dark Angels strike force was approached and hailed by an Inquisitorial ship. With poorly disguised ill grace Captain El'Zahariel agreed to receive the Inqusitor aboard his flag ship. 

Brandishing her Inquisitorial seal Inquisitor Constantine informed him that the Dark Angels 4th Company was hereby requisitioned into the service of the Emperor's holy Inquisition with immediate effect. Captain El'Zahariel's irritation at the upstart Inquisitor's arrogance turned to fury when he learned that the proposed target was not the dread forces of Chaos but a newly established Federal bridgehead on Paradorn's fourth world.

Even an agent of so powerful an organisation as the Inquisition would be well advised to be cautious when making demands of the Adeptus Astartes, especially a chapter as proud, secretive and independent as the Emperor's 1st Legion. It is almost certain that without her letters of authorisation signed by the Inquisitorial representative to the High Lords of Terra Inquisitor Constantine would have met with an unfortunate accident involving a faulty airlock.

The proposed target was to be a newly established Federal staging post on Paradorn's uninhabited rocky outer world. With a Federal fleet in orbit above the planet the operation was high risk and of little strategic importance since the Federation had not even begun transferring the bulk of its logistical materials to the planet's surface. El'Zahariel expressed in blunt terms that he considered the operation to be militarily irrelevant and a pointless risk of resources but Inquisitor Constantine was insistent.

The objective was to retrieve an Inquisitorial asset that had been operating within the Federacy for some time and was believed to have invaluable intelligence on the Federacy's intentions along with information on the loyalty of its new Librian regiments. Not considering the matter worthy of his further attentions El'Zahariel left the operation under the command of the company's Chaplain with clear instructions that the priority was to minimise casualties and that if her interference were to jepordise this then Inquisitor Constantine was to be executed as discretely as possible.

What they lacked in enthusiasm the Dark Angels made up for in experience and competence. Stealthily inserting their forces using Thunderhawk Gunships the Dark Angels launched a ferocious surprise attack on the staging post. The experienced Librian troops reacted with admirable professionalism and immediately counter attacked with what forces they could but such was the speed and aggression of the Dark Angels assault that the troops guarding the base were devastated within minutes. The Librian's fate was further sealed by sabotage from within as their communications systems failed in the opening seconds of the engagement.

Smashing through the Librian lines the Dark Angels quickly devastated what little of the base had been established and recovered Inquisitor Constantine's asset - a polymorphined assassin who had begun running rampant through the Librain's artillery once the engagement begun.

Rather than try to re-enforce their already devastated base the Librians were making gains elsewhere, making an armoured thrust towards the Dark Angel's own assembly point. If the idling gunships were driven off there was a risk the strike force could be trapped on the planet. With their core objectives achieved the Dark Angels simply withdrew. If Inquisitor Constantine noticed the manner in which the Dark Angels failed to press their overwhelming advantage or further engage the Federal forces she was wise enough to say nothing.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Federal invasion of Paradorn falls flat

The coming of the Cicatrix laid waste to the Federal PLanets of Ravitane and Myrentas II, although much of the population were saved by timely evacuations of the populations, thanks to the Tallaxian scientists correctly predicting the catastrophic event. Nevertheless the Federacy suffered a great loss of life, and the ensuing daemonic incursions on Tallax were only halted once the Federal shield - a string of anti-psychic floating fortresses - were set up to protect the core worlds of the Federacy.

Even then the war was not over. The interventions at Libria and several joint wars with the Tau had left a substantial fleet in the Dark half of the galaxy, with no way of re-crossing the Cicatrix to return to the Federacy. The Tau had also been cut in two, and though the alliance stood firm, there were tensions in the alliance over whether Libria should be added to the Tau empire or to the Federacy. Eventually the Tau agreed to Libria officially joining the Federal worlds, but demanded permanent bases, while Tarsis Major remained a conquest of the Tau Empire.

Both the Tau and Federacy needed to secure passage through the Cicatrix however, and the appearance of the Foramen Interdictum gave them an opportunity. From the galactic south, the Federacy agreed to push towards Destino, steeling themselves against opposition from the Necrons and forces of Chaos, while joint Tau/federal forces would assault Paradorn, where analysts expected the fighting to be toughest.

The Tau fleet would be weeks away from being able to launch an assault on Paradorn, and the Federacy still needed time to forge ahead from Federal SPace itself, but a significant force, led by the Battleship Haskell and the Battlecruiser Pride of Tallax, left Librian space with six divisions of Librian troops, eager to prove themselves in battle for the alliance.

The Federal force landed on the outermost planet of Paradorn, designated Paradorn IV, and with the Federal fleet in orbit did not expect the surprise attack that came. The Dark Angels however had an elite strike force on one Strike Cruiser, and this was able to slip past the Federal Fleet unseen, deploying Thunderhawks on the opposite hemisphere then flying to the Federal Drop Zone. The Federacy had not even managed to start building a base before the Imperial attack, the fury of which immediately destroyed valuable mechanised equipment. Fast attack units including land speeders, bikes and assault marines crashed into the Librian defenders almost securing victory in the first few minutes of the attack.

By the time the Librians recovered from the initial shock of the onslaught, the possibility of remaining on the world had gone, and although they were defeated, the guard units put up a stubborn rear guard action, ensuring the bulk of the remaining troops and equipment were evacuated from the planet.

Intelligence indicated the Dark Angels had with them an unidentified Inquisitor, and the Federal Fleet responded by bombarding the landing site for many hours after the evacuation. However it is unlikely they hit anything, as the Dark Angels had almost certainly withdrawn. Detecting astropathic signals from the planet, and fearing being caught in orbit by an Imperial fleet, the Federal Battlegroup retreated into the shadows of the outer system to plan their next move.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Foramen Campaign: Factions descend on Paradorn

In late 09.017M42 the system of Paradorn became the focus of several task forces seeking control over probably the most important system in the sector, after Corticant itself. Paradorn, situated in a commanding position at the end of the Foramen Interdictum, contained several planets which while resource poor, could be home to installations and bases.

The first arrivals on Paradorn were the Thousand Sons, led by Magnus himself, although when he found Ahriman on the world he was less than impressed, and once again banished his ancient colleague from his sight, briefly leading to a flare up of daemonic infighting. However, this infighting was but a prelude to the battle to come, as a splinter fleet of the Indomitus crusade arrived in the Aleph Sector and immediately identified the Foramen of incalculable importance.

The Crusade were greeted with rapturous joy on Vastrid, and the head of the crusade met with Titus Luthor after a tickertape parade through the planet's capital. However, festivities were short lived, as the fleet deployed into the Foramen Minoris, bypassing Tallius for the moment in their haste to reach Paradorn and secure the far end of the channel. Their haste was quickened by the reports from the Dark Angels of a malevolent presence in the system.

The crusade fleet found no enemy fleets and quickly moved into the inner planets, deploying a small force on the small rocky second planet, and sending the main force to the largest most promising looking world. Where they found Magnus...

The Imperial Fists led the assault against the traitor legion, finding to their horror that the Darrantine Guard had gone over to the heretics and were now aiding the forces of chaos. The Darrantine were swiftly excommunicated, before being systematically murdered by the Astartes. 

The arrival of daemons on the battlefield, along with Magnus himself, left the Imperial Fists in serious difficulties, but Belasarius Cawl managed to intervene personally with Adeptus Mechanicus forces, finally forcing Magnis back to the warp and his forces to flee. By 0410.017M42 the Crusade had been mostly successful on the first planet, although the chaos forces had not been entirely eliminated.

This action by Cawl defeated Magnus, but this left the small force on the mid planet largely ill equipped, and the small number of Mechanicum forces deployed to scout the world were quickly eliminated by the eldar harlequins. It appeared that not only the forces of chaos were interested in the system.

The Dark Angels 4th Company decided to make for the outer ice world, having detected more energy signatures near the jump point of the system. Yet another force had entered the Paradorn system...