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.

Emerald Serpent Cohort chased from Paradorn to Vandrax

In the early part of 11.017M42 the loyalist imperial forces continued to prosecute their war against the forces of Chaos in the Paradorn system. Chaos forces had been cleansed from the system in 10.017M42, but on 02.11.017M42 Magnus himself returned at the head of the "Emerald Serpent Cohort", a force which included daemons as well as the traitorous Darrantine Guard. Initially, Magnus once again tried to wrestle control of the Paradorn system from Imperial control, but a violent battle against the Lycaon Guard on Paradorn 1 put an end to the daemon Primarch's hopes of gaining a significant hold of the system. The imperium was simply too strong in the system.

Aided by his alliance with Tzeentch, Magnus concocted a new plan. If Paradorn could not be taken, where the Imperium were united, then Vandrax seemed vulnerable. Leaving an obvious trail for the loyalists to follow, Magnus transitted through the warp to the Vandrax system where the Crusade had already made a significant base on Vandrax 3, now named Cybixx Alpha. Landing on Vandrax 2, far from the initial invasion of the Crusade, Magnus now waited. The Imperial Fists took the bait and arrived in system some days later. However Magnus was ready and in a brutal opening engagement the forces of chaos inflicted a significant defeat on the Astartes, forcing them to withdraw. Magnus now dug in, hoping that the presence of the Imperial Fists would result in more clashes between the Crusade and the Loyalists. He would not be disappointed.