Sunday, April 29, 2018

Hadron Expanse: Echo Cluster

Orks found at Oreen

The next system to be investigated by the loyalist battlgroup was the system of Oreen. Oreen had once been an imperial world but upon arriving in system Barham's fleet found to their alarm no sign of human habitation. In fact what they did find was an ork infested world where the Emerald Serpent were already engaged in heavy fighting.

The Thousand Sons and the Daemon prince known as "Marcus" knew well of the Imperial aim to get to Oreen, and used their knowledge of the warp to get their first. However, instead of setting a trap for the inbound imperial forces, the traitors found themselves assaulted by hordes of greenskins chanting "Rustoof", the presumed leader of the orks. The overwhelming numbers simply washed over the small elite forces the Emerald Serpent had committed to the landing, and in short order the invasion was abandoned.

Following the defeat of the forces of chaos, the orks were somewhat delighted at the arrival of more enemies and the prospect of more fighting. The loyalists, foolishly believing the ork chaos encounter they witnessed from orbit to be a meeting of disorganised rabbles, planned to land in force, create a perimeter and claim the main planet in the name of the emperor.

Rustoofs orks however appeared legion, and the landing imperial force was similarly overwhelmed by greenskin boyz. Even massed imperial firepower from the Imperial Guard regiment "Last of Sycorax" was unable to halt the tide, and the imperial landing was a complete disaster. The imperium and chaos forces had underestimated the greenskins, and had now poked a hornets nest. gathering his nobz about him and ordering his minions to loot the worlds of the system, the orks - in actual fact numbering millions, began preparing for a Waagh!

Kel Sandros open the Foramen Ancilla

With the key finally in Tarquil's possession it only remained to activate the Necron device that would bridge the rift of the Cicatric Maledictum. But in this matter the elderly Farseer was powerless to act directly, the blackstone artefact's influence over the warp was anathema to any being with witch sight and such was the birthright of every Aeldari. Instead another would have to be persuaded to act on the Eldar's behalf.

Emissaries were sent to the T'au Empire where water caste diplomats were quick to see the implications of Tarquil's plan. The Tau were desperate to open up lines of supply to their stranded holdings in the Zadoc subsector. If a fresh bridge across the Cicatrix were to fall into their hands they would not only be able to relieve the pressure on their isolated colonies but once more continue their expansion deep into the vulnerable worlds of the Imperium Nihilus.

So eager were the Tau they tasked none other than a member of their Ethereal caste with the completion of the plan and sent with him one of Shadow Strike's elite special operations cadres. It was suicide for the warp blind Tau to attempt to pilot a fleet into the Cicatrix so they would have to be guided through the narrow, labyrinthine backwaters of the webway by Eldar rangers. Travelling light and without the support of large battlesuites and armoured vehicles they arrived on Einmyrria where they were greeted by Tarquil and set about the final leg of their journey through a maze of caves and natural passageways deep into the heart of the Necron tomb complex.

As the Tau cadre took up positions within the vast central chamber they were confronted with the reanimated legions of the Necrons, awoken from their long slumber not so long ago by the clumsy, ignorant intrusions of the mon-keigh.

The Eldar hadn't come so far to see their plan fail at the last moment. Without warning the lurking Aeldari warhost struck from the shadows. Agile jetbikes and flying aspect warriors launched themselves into the flank of the Necron legion, their attack accompanied by the siren screaming of the banshee to signal that death came to claim their ancient enemies.

Although their right phalanx had been thrown into disarray the rest of the Necron legion pressed home their own attack and the Tau cadre's own flank collapsed under the onslaught of destroyers even as the massive glowing form of a monolith slowly crept its way towards the plinth housing the device.

Mobilised to action by the Ethereal's stern gaze and the barked orders of their fireblade the disciplined fire warriors closed ranks and lay down overlapping fields of fire, their storm of pulse rounds lent added potency by Tarquil's magics. The Tau lines held firm and the attack was repelled until finally only the menacing form of the monolith remained, looming over the device. Bereft of heavy equipment it seemed like the massive construct might be impossible to destroy but the Aeldari mystics found the strands of fate that would spell its doom. Suddenly even small arms fire seemed to unerringly strike critical components and key locations. Racked by internal explosions the mighty monolith fell.

As Tau and Eldar alike erupted into cheering Tarquil allowed himself a smile of satisfaction. All had proceeded as he had foreseen. Only one strand of fate was left to be resolved. Wordlessly he drew his shuriken pistol, turned and shot the Necron assassin between the eyes even as he stepped out of the shadows that cloaked him.
It was with a sense of huge relief Tarquil watched the Ethereal Aun Sa'vesh activate the device aided by her team of earth caste scientists. In nearby federal space a huge Tau expedition fleet awaited the formation of the new pathway through the Cicatrix, ladened with re-enforcements and supplies for the isolated Tau colonies. Soon the T'au Empire would once more be able to expand into the galactic north, this time into space deprived of the Emperor's guiding light and far from the focus of the Imperial leadership on Terra. One day, Tarquil hoped, the Tau would establish a galactic empire that would calm the warp, deprive the dark gods of their power and thus ensure the survival of the galaxy.

 - Rick Lloyd

Stahl renews push on Tarlius Ii

The Loyalist Imperial forces on Tarlius II had been hard pressed by the forces of Chaos, but the Crusade forces had escaped Stahl's attention. This dramatically changed on 2804.018M42 when forward listening bases on the southern continent, held by the Crusade, suddenly went silent. The defence lines were readied by the Volscian Guard who, though lacking heavy armour support, had dug in with significant infantry divisions and fixed gun emplacements and mobile artillery. They believed themselves ready for the heavy armour assaults Stahl's Grand Company were known for.

Emerging from the preliminary bombardment unscathed the mortal cohorts of the Iron Warriors were pressed forward, with the Rhinos of Iron Warriors pushing at full speed. As the Volscian lascannon and rapier teams readied aim to cripple the assault, the Iron Warriors' own carefully calculated firing solutions opened up, destroying the anti armour emplacements. The Volscians had expected a headlong rush and were not expecting targetted long range fire and were even less prepared for the Helldrake aerial support that swooped upon the Basilisk artillery tanks. To the Volscians' credit, they maintained their focus,but their coordinated return fire was frustrated by smoke launchers and Iron Warrior warp crafted interference. In an instant the Iron Warriors and their mortal slaves were amongst the Volscian line, slaughtering all in reach and quickly overwhelming the defenders. Within hours, the Iron Warriors had brought further reinforcements, were tearing through the Crusade supply lines and were pushing rapidly to the Crusade command upon Tarlius II with nothing to stop them. The Crusade had been caught on the back foot and were forced to flee from the planet and quit their aspirations at Tarlius. The Iron Warriors further reinforced their positions, making clear that Tarlius would belong to Stahl and Stahl alone.

 - Mike Durrant

Tau in bitter fighting at Echo Reach & Palantir

With Malkaor's Expedition now becoming established at Echo Reach, the second T'au fleet, led by Skyfall, arrived at the Echo Cluster in mid 04.018M42. Rather than jumping straight to aid Malkaor however, Skyfall decided that to protect T'au lines of supply, establishing a waystation in the Palantir system would be crucial, as that system stood at a Nexus of warp lanes and stood in the way of easy passage to the new colony at Echo Reach.

Skyfall's cadres however were unaware of the significant Imperial presence, and upon landing on Dale faced an immediate counter assault from the Novogorod guard, who had arrived recently to pacify the local populace into righteous veneration of the Emperor. Stunned by the size of the loyalist force, the T'au fought a fighting retreat, attempting to halt the Imperial forces and establish a perimeter. Skyfall was willing to fight for Dale, but he needed a secure landing site.

Unfortunately for the T'au, the Novgorod advance did not falter, and by 2304.018M42 the invading xenos forces were eradicated. Many escaped, but the landscape of Dale was now scarred with the wreckage of the aborted T'au invasion. Disappointed, Skyfall prepared to jump to Echo Reach, fearing now for the isolation of his brethren at the T'au colony.

At roughly the same time, the Crusade fleet headed to Echo Reach from Hussaria, as they attempted to spread Vorushko's influence to the neighbouring systems. Sitting at the end of the nearest warp lane from the Crusade major world, Echo Reach soon faced the Dark Angels and Grey Knights as they poured in from the jump point.

With the least warning, the outer planet of Echo III, with only a small T'au force garrisoning the world, was ill prepared for the Dark Angel's assault. Nevertheless, the battle that erupted was extremely bloody, and both sides wrought devastation on each other. However, the base on Echo 3 was soon overrun by the astartes, and the remaining T'au were forced to surrender by the Dark Angels. Immediately the crusade forces began following up, and base construction began in earnest, complete with defence lasers, fortifications and the beginning of a space port.

On Echo II, the Grey Knights attempted a similar lightning assault on the T'au, but here, closer to the T'au fleet at Echo Reach itself, and given more warning than those at Echo II, the xenos were more prepared. The Grey Knights dropped from orbit into a storm of fire, and soon their advance on the enemy positions stalled, then bogged down completely. The battle had become a static firefight with the Ordo Malleus pinned down and taking heavy casualties. A contributing factor had to be that the Grey Knights were unable to perform their trademark "close drop", as their enemies had become wise to this tactic, and now the astartes were forced to make a landing further away, then advance over land. This soon led to unacceptable casualties and on 3004.018M42 the Grey Knights abandoned the invasion, with the T'au fleet moving in on the second world.

Echo Reach had been saved, and the Crusade prevented from expanding their influence for now. However Malkaor's expedition was isolated and at the nexus of warp lanes leading to loyalist, Crusade, and Chaos controlled worlds

Loyalist repel raid at Hussaria

Following on from the initial events at Hussaria, the crusade were aware that the loyalists still controlled Hussaria Minoris, garrisoned by a force of Novgorod Guard. The Dark Angels set off for the smaller world to remove the loyalist presence and capture more guardsmen for Inquisition interrogation, but they found the Novgorod well prepared for the assault.

Outnmumbering the Dark Angels significantly, the Guard used their numbers to their advantage, and bitter fighting soon bogged down the astartes assault. The Crusade had hoped for a quick victory, decapitating the loyalist command structure then mopping up the rest. However, the Novgorod made this strategy impossible, and by 3004.018M42 the assault was called off. The Dark Angels withdrew having reduced the Novgorod Numbers somewhat, but the loyalists remained stubbornly in control of the second world of the system.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hadron Expanse: Echo Cluster

All Campaign Modifiers!

This shows all modifiers - the difference between you and your opponent (if positive) is added to the number of points you gain (plus any extras shown on the individual map). 

Global modifiers: Beating your opponent inflicts a -1 on them*. You get to "clear" a modifier with a win (ergo a faction that keeps losing goes very negative!). 

*Not if you take Magnus, Drago, Typhus, a Lord of War or other such nonsense it doesn't :)

Space: +2 for winning in space! -2 for losing.

The modifiers are then *further* modified by what strategic assets you have, and they compound. Thus if you have lots of power in the Foramen, lots of worlds in the Perseus Deeps and lots of bases in the Hadron expanse - you're likely to get lots of bonuses.

To see what the modifiers are when you play (and thus how many points you'll get for a win - or your enemy will get for a win!) look at the box on the right vs. the campaign theatre you are playing in. Note: Nihilis is everything right of the cicatrix. Global is everywhere else. Foramen applies to the Foramen campaign and Hadron to the Hadron expanse campaign...

Tip: Look for ways to efficiently boost your faction's modifiers!

Crusade arrive at Dnatha

The  next move for the Tau was to the neighbouring system of Dnatha. Once again the tau scouting force had identified a world ripe for colonisation. Similar to Echo reach the world was sparesly populated by nomadic primitive human tribes who roamed across the spongy terrain of moss that carpeted much of the world. Once again however the augur returns of the messenger class vessels sent to investigate found intriguing signs of alien energy signatures, pointing once more to a valuable find of alien technology.

By this time however the Crusade, having completed the pacification of Hussaria and Arawath, had fanned out, with the Grey Knights encountering the Tau as they explored the terrestrial planet of Dnartha. Finding the xenos, the Grey Knights launched a strike against the small Tau scout group, and despite suffering heavy losses, were able to disrupt Tau communications enough to prevent the xenos from overwhelming them.

Frustrated, the Tau withdrew, before realising they had actually done a great deal of harm to the astartes. The fire caste urged for a counter attack, but the opportunity had been missed. As the rest of the Crusade fleet arrived in system, the Tau fell back to Echo Reach, leaving Dnartha and its valuable archeotech to the Crusade.

Chaos gain control of Boltarean

After the initial invasion of Boltarean, the Emerald Serpent faced new opposition in the form of the Crusade, as the Adeptus Mechanicus finally showed their hand in the fighting. Accompanying the Crusade Mechanicum was a small contingent of none other than the Carcharadon Astra. It had been thought that the most brutal of Vorushko's "hounds" had been lost in the Noctis Aeterna, but here was living proof that the astartes had returned and rejoined the Inquisitor's side.

The Emerald Serpent however were not overawed by the return of the astartes chapter, and the initial assault by the Crusade was an abject failure. Facing certain slaughter and being surrounded by both mortal and daemonic forces, the Crusade quickly abandoned the landing, having grossly underestimated the size of the chaos force now in possession of the main planet. Meanwhile, a small Crusade outpost was installed on an outer world, a foothold from which later strikes may be launched.

The eldar too finally intervened as Magnus and the Emerald Serpent built up their base on the barren world of Boltarean, and came ever closer to uncovering the secret of the Necron device that lay beneath the surface. Alarmed, the Kel Sandros Craftworld called upon its allies to investigate, but Magnus had been listening. He called in his own allies, and instead of arriving in secret on Boltar 3, the eldar emerged from the webway to face an angry and violent Word Bearer warband. Brutal fighting erupted at the gateway, and the eldar were forced to withdraw. Magnus was making sure no one interfered with his plans for Boltarean.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Malkaor's Expedition Cadre arrives at Echo Reach

The Tau, having been forewarned of the dangers of the Naegleria system by the Eldar, were able to find a route through to the Hadron Expanse from the Aleph expansion sphere. Cut off from the rest of the Tau nation, they were desperately searching for a way through, all the while oblivious to the fact that the Eldar were working in their favour, guiding them towards a way through - as soon as they had managed to create one...

The first planet the Tau reached was Echo's Reach, a small nondescript world covered mostly fungi, but nonetheless a target for colonisation. Here Malkaor's Expeditionary Cadre arrived in late 04.018M42, and citing the planet as ripe for colonisation, began to construct the first of many bases on the world.

During this time, the tau stumbled across an artefact of immense power, but one they could not figure out. It appeared ancient and extremely alien, but the Tau started scientific investigations immediately. No sooner had they uncovered the gargantuan device however, the forces of chaos turned up. Led by the tzeentch dedicated Prophets of Sotek, the chaos force was a mixture of mortal and daemonic beings, but their attack came with such surprise and savagery that it was clear they were after the alien artefact. Putting up a strong defence, Malkaor's troops were able to see off the chaos incursion, securing the device for themselves.

The defeat was disappointing for the Prophets, but not entirely a disaster. While the Tau were under
attack on Echo Reach itself, they did not notice the small band of Thousand Sons landing on the second moon - where a second device was located and secured by the forces of chaos...

Crusade establish important bases

The Crusade entered the Hadron Expanse via the northern warp channel, led by the Inquisition battleship Lord of Light, and accompanied by a Sky Lords Strike Cruiser, several Adeptus mechanicus vessels and a Grey Knights contingent. Very soon after entering wilderness space they were joined by the Dark Angels, who had now joined Vorushko's battlegroup in earnest.

The Grey Knights and the Dark Angels both had scores to settle. Following events in the Foramen campaign, both chapters had come to the decision that Inquisitor Hathek was wildly exceeding his remit, and that several Imperial Guard regiments had come into "unacceptable contact" with the forces of Chaos. Since those regiments had also been recycled to some extent, Vorushko and her Astartes allies both felt that the Lycaon and Novgorod regiments, some of whom were now part of Barham's battlegroup, were running an unacceptable risk of chaos contagion which would be disastrous if "loyalist" forces were able to establish a foothold in the newly declared "Hadron subsector".

The first system the Crusade arrived at was Arawath, where they found an Imperial world still loyal to the emperor after centuries of isolation, and still of value to the Imperium. With a population of several million and abundant resources, Vorushko was keen to exploit the system, but found that the Novgorod Guard had already landed and were in the midst of negotiating with the Arawathians. Immediately the Dark Angels launched their attack, stunning the Novgorod but eventually having to commit to a hard fight as the loyalists refused to surrender. While the Astartes took the fight to the imperial guard, Vorushko and her agents met with the planetary leaders, explaining the situation (or at least her version) and declaring the other imperial battlegroup heretical and at the mercy of a renegade Inquisitor. Faced with the Inquisition seal after nearly one thousand years of myth and legend, and seeing the fabled space marines smash a well equipped army, the Awarathians declared their allegiance to the Imperium - and to the Crusade. The remaining Novgorod forces were summarily rounded up and imprisoned. The Dark Angels suggested execution, but Vorushko instead placed the loyalists under guard with her Adeptus Mechanicus and Inquisition agents, to assess the depth of any chaos taint.

Meanwhile the Sky Lords and Grey Knights arrived at Hussaria, another world still loyal to the Emperor and in contact with Awarath. Here in the Echo Cluster, it seemed the values of the Imperium had remained, and there was a great deal of faith still to be found in the civilisation. Hussaria, governed by a planetary lord with a population of nearly a billion, had its seat of power at Ã–rebro, and Vorushko's agents had already been negotiating for some days when news of the arrival of Novgorod forces on the outer world of Hussaria Minoris was delivered by the orbitting fleet.

The Sky Lords reacted first, but underestimated the mounted regiment they faced on the ice planet. The Novgorod mounted force, from the Novgorod world of Omsk, tore into the Space Marines, and despite suffering heavy casualties all but wiped out the astartes force. Their confidence raised by this victory, loyalist agents then arrived at Hussaria, but were immediately imprisoned by the Hussarian military. Vorushko's Inquisition seal had once again swayed the local governor.

The Grey Knights then assaulted the Novgorod Guard on Hussaria Minoris, and delivered a much needed victory. Hussaria became part of the crusade but Vorushko's forces were unable to immediately unseat the loyalists who remained, battered and somewhat marooned on the minor world. For the crusade the addition of the systems of Awarath and Hussaria was a significant boon, as now Vorushko had a strong base from which to penetrate deeper into the expanse. The loyalists meanwhile had been diplomatically outmanoeuvred by the agents of the Inquisition, losing two potentially vital systems. 

Loyalists gain ground on Palantir

Unaware of the issues at Boltarean, the Imperial explorator fleet continued on, next finding the system of Palantir. Ancient star charts suggested Palantir was a human settlement, but there had been no contact with the system for centuries. 

The loyalists landed on the outer world finding it to be relatively homely. Although the world was mostly a global ocean, the landscape of the small landmass on the western hemisphere was dominated by grassy moorland and populated by stunted abhumans. Although initially repulsed at the sight of these tiny people, the loyalists eventually agreed (after several enforced autopsies by the Mechanicum Biologis) that they were of acceptable levels of mutation. The world was christened "Hobbiton" and claimed for the Emperor, and the small human settlements were immediately incorporated into the new founding of the "Hadron Subsector".

The abhumans also told the Imperial forces they were not alone on the world, and they had been fighting an endless war against greenskinned monsters for centuries. Recognising the ork xenos, the loyalist force, led by the Lycaon Guard quickly penetrated the difficult terrain of the western uplands, although they found the going tough due to the tangled undergrowth. In the western heights they found a significant number of orks.

The greenskins - mostly boyz without much in the way of equipment, charged at the Lycaons, but were in turn hampered by the tussock grass and bogs covering the wet moorland. This gave the imperial force ample time to simply mow down the Xenos, and the battle of the uplands soon became a massacre. Returning triumphant to the abhuman villages, the new arrivals were hailed as saviours, and Hobbiton willingly re-joined the Imperium of Mankind.

Chaos forces gain dominance on Boltarean

The first world encountered by Barham's loyalist fleet was in the system of Blotarean. Although no longer inhabited by any meaningful population, and resource poor, there were readings from the innermost world which suggested valuable Xenos artefacts were to be found. Despite the heavy radiation from the Boltarean yellow sun, the Imperial expedition began landing forces on the outer worlds, not realising that the forces of Chaos had got there before them.

On the inner planet the forces of Magnus the Red were already fighting - each other - over claims to the alien devices. Clearly Necron in origin the Prophets of Sotek and Emerald Serpent had both used Magnus' knowledge of the warp to arrive at the world before any Imperial fleet, and were now locked in combat over who would claim the items. Eventually Magnus grew tired and irritated over the infighting, and sided with the Emerald Serpent, smashing the Prophets of Sotek and claiming the devices for himself. Satisfied that the inner world was now under the control of Chaos, the Emerald Serpent were detached to the outer planets, where the Imperial Guard had landed and were establishing a base.

Magnus deigned to accompany the mission, appearing in daemonic form at the head of the chaos army. Catching the Guard forces as they deployed, the Imperial forces were ill-prepared to face the onslaught of a daemon primarch, and suffered heavily. Hours of fighting saw the guard routed, forced back into the barren wastelands of the outer rock planet, watching helplessly as their base was systematically ransacked by the forces of the Emerald Serpent. The forces of Chaos had established their dominance, now the loyalists had cause for concern. Perhaps the entire Expanse had become a haven for the heretical followers of the chaos gods.

Strange goings on at Naegleria

For many of the explorator fleets heading into the Hadron Expanse, a strange signal from the world simply marked as Naegleria on maps began calling out to them from the void. The crusade, loyalists, orks and necrons all heard the call, and each one became convinced they had found one of their own worlds, cut off by the warpscar but now ready for rescue.

To cartographers, astropaths, weirdboyz and even the Necron overlords, the system appeared to be sitting on the edge of the Cicatrix, but untainted by it, and many of the factions of the sector sent forces to investigate. The eldar, and by their communication the tau, were not taken in, and the eldar warned their allies to stay away at all costs.

Naegleria was a trick. The world was in fact completely under the control of the chaos gods, and to advance their own interests Tzeentch and Nurgle had entered into an unlikely alliance and set up a trap, designed to lure the mortal races to their doom.

Naegleria was simply a daemonworld, infested by billions of accursed poxwalkers. Originally a human settlement, the planet had been in the midst of a war with local ork warbands at the time of the great rift, and both human and ork had been transfigured by nurgle into a pustulent morasse of rotting flesh, Now, the machinations of Tzeentch transported the leaders of the investigating forces to the centre of the former capital of the world, right into the heart of the zombie plague.

Part grand strategem and part entertainment for the gods, the leaders of Crusade. loyalist, Necron, Ork and even an unpopular member of the Emerald Serpent were thrown together, forced to cooperate or die at the hand of the legions of nurgle. Together the leaders somewhat cooperated, putting aside their hatred of one another to defeat the common cause and escape the daemonworld. However, at a crucial moment the loyalist faction betrayed the Grey Knights commander, obeying the plans of Inquisitor Hathek and removing a significant member of the Crusade hierarchy.

The ork and necron commanders, unwilling to cooperate, were also slain, allowing the loyalist members to band together, repair a discovered abandoned Rhino and escape the accursed city. From here they were able to reach a place where the loyalist fleet, now in orbit under Commodore Craddock, were able to transport them to safety. Meanwhile, the champion of Tzeentch passed his test, and similarly escaped the hell world.

The overall effect of the Naegleria distraction was to decapitate any meaningful Necron intervention in the Hadron Expanse, at least for the inital stages of exploration, while the Crusade suffered a heavy blow. The loyalists were able to extricate themselves from the situation and continue on, but the Naegleria excursion had caused significant delays. The system was declared Perdita on 2504.018M42, while Tzeentch and Nurgle laughed boisterously from the warp.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hadron Expanse: Factions breach the void

The initial clashes in the Hadron Expanse were not long in coming, as several battlegroups were already either in the Expanse or on their way by mid 04.018M42. The Imperium were once again split into the loyalist and Crusade factions, as Lord Inquisitor Hathek attempted to prevent Vorushko from consolidating her holds in the Imperium Nihilis. He wanted to make sure Vorushko didn't create her own Empire. However, the Grey Knights, Sky Lords and Dark Angels Astartes refused to accept Hathek's unilateral act, and strike cruisers of all three chapters joined the Inquisitorial battlebarge Lord of Light.

The Crusade battlegroup was made up of a mix of Inquisition, Adeptus Mechanicus and Astartes vessels, whereas the loyalists had a much more homogeneous force, led by Admiral Barham's naval battlegroup. In terms of ground forces the loyalists had more men, though lacked the elite forces of the crusade, with their core force based around Novgorod and Lycaon regiments.

The Tau had also set off from the Aleph Expansion Sphere, with Malkaor's Expedition Cadre teaming up with Admiral Swiftstar to launch and exploration into the depths of the unknown, with the objective of colonisation, and to fins another path through the Cicatrix Maledictum. Ork forces had already penetrated the Expanse by this time, and the forces of chaos, eager to expand their influence, were gathering at Naegleria under the watchful gaze of Magnus the Red.

Hadron Expanse: Initial exploration


Strategic Map

Updated Rules: Hadron expanse rules

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Eldar complete search on Einmyrria

...Tarquil gazed out over the frozen wastelands of Einmyrria. The demented mutating aurora of the Cicatrix coloured the ice fields in a nauseating display of garish pinks, blues and purples. The aged Farseer couldn't shake the feeling that this planet was testing them. First had come the servants of the Dark Prince. After them the children of decay. Now arrayed before them were the diverse minions of the Changer of Ways. Tarquil vowed if they were to be tested at the perverse whims of the chaos gods then they would not be found wanting...

The Aeldari's intense interest in Einmyrria had not gone unnoticed. Magnus the Red was determined to find out what was so precious it could draw the Eldar to a barren daemon world and claim it for himself. His body blurring with warp gifted speed he leapt into the middle of the Eldar warhost and with a single effort of will ripped the heart from it, slaying the Autarch and her bodyguards with a single thought. The Aeldari witches, normally masters of the psychic domain found their sorceries denied by the will of Tzeentch and were unable to stop Magnus' murderous rampage. But something was wrong, the pacts Magnus had made were betrayed and the daemonic host he had bargained for did not materialise. Quickly recovering from their shock the Aeldari warhost moved to envelope daemonic primarch and brought the full weight of their firepower to bear. With a roar of fury at the treachery done to him Magnus was banished from the material realm and the resurgent Eldar moved to mop up his leaderless minions.

...Tarquil felt a sickening lurch in his stomach as the fabric of reality was torn asunder and the twisted forms of daemons materialised onto the battlefield all around the warhost. Baying their hatred these daemons served the Lord of Skulls. The fourth and final test was upon them...

Racing forwards and fuelled by all the fury of their dark patron the daemons of Khorne washed over the outlaying elements of the Eldar warhost and massacred it in seconds. Tarquil realised there was only one way to save what was left of the host and ordered all units that were able to to fall back and establish a new firing line. Those that could not were to press forwards and meet their fate in whatever way they saw best so that the rest might live. Stranded amidst the baying daemons Tarquil himself knew that this was the moment of his death. Drawing his witch blade he accepted his destiny and stepped forward to meet it.

...Frantically Tarquil hacked at the tide of daemons that surrounded him, determined to die with honour despite the futility of the situation. With a scream of jet engines the sleek craft of a Crimson Hunter soared overhead, its weapons spitting death. Suddenly Tarquil felt the power that denied him communion with the warp lifted and knew that whatever had drawn Tzeentch's blessing to this place was now banished. With the last of his strength he cloaked himself in mystifying warp energy and stumbled injured through the snow before collapsing into the entrance of an ice cave. He could still hear the roars of the daemonic host outside along with the distant sound of Aeldari weaponry as the battle continued. Gazing towards the back of the cave he recognised the unmistakable markings of a Necron obelisk. As the last of his strength left him he realised that their search was over. He had found the key they sought...

 - Rick Lloyd

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thok destroys Jellicoe at Glaurung

For years Admiral Thok had stayed with his fleet at Mordecai, happy with his success over Admiral Craddock but rueing the fact that his main foe, Admiral Jellicoe, who had smashed the chaos fleet at Bastien many years before, had never given him the opportunity to exact his revenge. Jellicoe had stayed at Vastrid, protecting the Imperial spacelanes to Terra following the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum, and Admiral Thok had to be content with raiding, and the all important work of maintaining his fleet at Mordecai docks. With the opening of the Foramen, the mad admiral once again sensed an opportunity to defeat his nemesis, but without a secure space lane and control of both Paradorn and Tarlius, any attempt at a breakout into the Zadoc subsector would be suicide. Even thok wasn't that mad.

Then, in 04.018M42 Thok was shaken out of his despondency upon recieving news of an exciting development. With Lord Tragean moving on Tarlius, Admiral Jellicoe had been forced to reinforce the Imperial fleet in the Foramen, and it came to his attention that Jellicoe was with his fleet, in person, at Paradorn. Thok now needed a plan to lure Jellicoe away from the defences at the Imperial base, and into the guns of his waiting fleet. He knew there was one bait which Jellicoe would be unable to resist. The Gotterdammerung.

Imperial intelligence recieved unwelcome news shortly after the fleet had arrived at Paradorn. The Gotterdammerung, based on Abaddon's "planet killer", had been sighted cruising around the Mordecai system, clearly fully operational. This came as somewhat of a shock to the Imperium, who hadn't counted on the Mordecai space docks being able to repair the ship so quickly after it had been reduced to a hulk at Libria, although the ship had been sighted partially repaired in 016M42, when Thok had annihilated Admiral Craddock's fleet.

Jellicoe held a counsel with his officers. He suspected a trap, but if the Gotterdammerung were to appear at Paradorn in the company of the entire chaos fleet, the entire system could be lost, and with it the only reliable route between Farport and the Imperium Nihilis. The Imperial fleet would have to take the bait, and destroy the planet killer, at any cost.

Jellicoe's fleet formed up and headed for the moon of Glaurung, close to the star of Hespidies, where the mighty chaos vessel had last been tracked. Splitting his fleet up, although risky, would maximise the chance of finding the Gotterdammerung, and Jellicoe was confident that the planet killer itself was not supported by the rest of Thok's fleet, which had been reported as at the space docks at Mordecai. Unfortunately for the imperial admiral, this was a lie, spread by Thok's agents in order to encourage Jellicoe to search for his flagship. His fleet would be waiting in the shadows ready to pounce. Aboard Skoll, an elite company of traitor marines had been deployed, ready to board the imperial flagship Iron Duke, and take prisoner of Thok's most hated foe.

At 14:20 local time on 1404.018M42 the Gotterdammerung was spotted by the cruisers Hogue and Repulse, who immediately closed on the giant vessel, hoping to take it by surprise. Unfortunately, after ineffective nova cannon and torpedo fire, the chaos flagship immediately responded with a crippling strike on Repulse. The imperial vessel's shields held against the conventional firepower of the mighty vessel, but the armageddon gun easily ripped through void shields and armour, badly damaging the imperial vessel.

Straining at maximum power, Jellicoe's flagship Iron Duke simply made for the flashes of gunfire, and arrived within range at 14:34, although the opening salvoes were hampered by the glare of Hespidies, and the initial wave of Shark Assault boats did little to reduce the effectiveness of the giant chaos behemoth. At 14:53 the second volley from its primary weapon ripped through Repulse, sending her spinning off blazing from prow to stern. The Gotterdammerung then replied with her main batteries against the Iron Duke, instantly crippling her engines and leaving her drifting slowly. This was only thought to be a minor setback however, and with the rest of his fleet heading towards the moon of Glaurung, Jellicoe was confident that although he may suffer losses, Thok and his blasphemous flagship would finally be dealt with.

At 15:05 however, Jellicoe recieved a nasty shock. Powering up almost dead astern, the slaughter class Skoll suddenly arrived, and Hogue reported that another chaos vessel, identified as the powerful Acheron class Beowulf, had been detected. The intelligence had been wrong. Thok was here with his fleet, and the trap had been sprung. Skoll closed to boarding range, with the traitor astartes teleporting across to Iron Duke. However the crew of the imperial flagship fought back valiantly, and though the fighting was heavy, the traitor legion were unable to get past the defenders and capture the admiral. As Skoll drew alongside, Iron Duke opened up with her port battery, and a lucky shot penetrated the main belt of the chaos cruiser, setting off multiple internal explosions. In one salvo Jellicoe had evened the score.

On the Gotterdammerung Thok flew into a rage at the failure of his Astartes and the loss of Skoll, but as the planet killer approached the moon, its firepower, coupled with terrifying lance salvos from Beowulf, soon reduced Hogue to a smoking wreck, as Repulse finally succumbed to internal fires and blew herself up. Cobra class escorts arrived for the Imperium, but did little damage before Beowulf contemptuously smashed them to wreckage. Iron Duke meanwhile had finally fixed her engines and was slowly getting underway. 

Thok now resolved that if he couldn't capture his enemy, he would kill him. Using the gravity of Glaurung, the Gotterdammerung swung round the moon, aiming its devastating weapon at the now badly damaged imperial flagship. He would have only one more shot of the armageddon gun before it had to be fully recharged, so this one would need to count. Powering up to maximum, the super-weapon tore into the Iron Duke, but although crippled, the imperial flagship remained operational. Fearing his quarry would once again escape, he ordered in his escorts. At 15:43 a wave of torpedoes from the Jotun squadron crashed into Jellicoe's ship, detonating her plasma reactor. Thok leapt out of his admiral's chair with glee, silhoueted against the death throes of the Iron Duke. 

Aboard Illustrious, Captain D'Oyly-Hughes was alarmed that he was no longer getting a response from the ships in action at Glaurung. After a few minutes of deliberation, he ordered the remaining Imperial vessels to cease pursuit and regroup at the warp jump point. The rest of Jellicoe's fleet duly obeyed the Mars' class commodore's orders, not wishing to suffer the same fate as the Iron Duke. Believing Jellicoe to be dead, the imperial fleet fled.

Jellicoe however was not dead, and Thok watched as escape pods from the aft half of the wrecked Iron Duke spiralled into the thin atmosphere of the Ice Moon of Glaurung. Elated, the chaos admiral realised he may have his reckoning after all. The rest of his fleet managed to recover Skoll and take the wreck of Hogue as a valuable hulk. Sending for recovery ships, the rest of his fleet now transited to Paradorn, while search teams began looking on Glaurung to recover his most precious prize. Admiral Jellicoe himself.

The Hadron Expanse

The Hadron expanse lies to the galactic east on the eastern rim of the galaxy. Some postulate that the Cicatrix has an end, and that finding this end will allow safe passage around the warpscar. Others believe there are hidden passages or "fords" across the raging maw, but there are many parsecs of space to cover, much of it barren wilderness, and until recently completely inaccessible to warp travel.

For millenia, warp storms have raged around the Expanse, and the area has been effectively cut off from exploration. For the Imperium information is scant, but it is known that human colonies lie beyond the storms waiting do be rediscovered, if they survived. The Tau view the area as untapped resource, while the eldar webway, while extending to planets in the Expanse, has been shut off with psychic wards, warning all not to break the seal.

What exactly lies in the Hadron expanse is unknown, but with the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum and the Noctis Aeterna, the warp storms raging about the Hadron expanse stuttered, then became completely calm. The Hadron expanse was once again accessible to the rest of the galaxy, but initially the factions of the Aleph sector had bigger things to worry about. The Hadron Expanse went un-noticed.

The Hadron Expanse now lies in the Imperium Nihilis, an area of the galaxy where the astronomicon no longer shines. Through the Foramen Interdictum however, a weak shaft of the emperor's light pierces the darkness, illuminating the Imperium's last holdings in the sector, and shining faintly towards the Expanse. With the war over the Foramen reaching stalemate, the Imperium are now seeking a second path across the Cicatrix, but they are not alone. The Tau, encouraged by the eldar, are seeking their own path to reconnect their scattered enclaves, cut off by the warpscar, while the forces of chaos are eager to exploit this new realm in order to encircle the Imperium. There is much to discover, and from mid-018M42 onwards, expeditions of exploration and conquest began to be assembled to cross into the Hadron expanse.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Inconclusive engagement at Destino

A week after the action at Tarlius Admiral Enkvist had recovered the Kirov, which was now hiding in the outer reaches of the Tarlius system as it was prepared for a warp jump back to the naval docks at Farport. The ship would fight again, but not for a significant time period. Meanwhile Enkvist himself joined the fleet in Leipzig, now ready for their transfer to Destino, where Admiral Barham had reported some strange readings from the outer system.

Enkvist's journey took less than a standard week using the Foramen, and he arrived on 1204.018M42. Initial investigations of the outer reaches detected nothing of interest, until a previously unmarked asteroid field drew the attention of the tech adepts aboard Leipzig. Not only should the asteroid field not be there, but it was behaving in a decidedly unnatural way. This was soon confirmed as the imperial fleet approached, as the asteroids opened fire upon them. Rather than an asteroid field, Enkvist had stumbled on the Bork.

The Bork fleet were a previously known force of space dwelling orks, who had been known to assist other warbosses invasions of worlds, by design or by accident. They had been present in the battle of Calliden in 011.M42, and now they had turned up in force at Destino. Aboard Leipzig Admiral Enkvist chose to attack, but as jellicoe himself had found at Farport, it was far from easy to deal with the massed Rok formations, within which other ork vessels and carriers lurked. Charging into this hornets nest Enkvist was able to deal some damage, but eventually the admiral withdrew rather than wasting precious ammunition on the orks. Once he had disengaged he was alarmed to notice the remaining orks forming back up into an asteroid field, and simply using traktor beams to reassemble their broken roks. It now seemed Destino had an ork infestation which would be difficult to remove.

Tragean defeats Enkvist at Tarlius

For many months the fleets in the Foramen Interdictum had avoided serious clashes. Apart from the occasional convoy or supply raid, the fleets of the various forces maintained a careful distance from the major worlds of conflict, knowing that to risk direct conflict with one of the other factions would be to give the advantage to a third power. So the fleets in the Foramen mostly kept apart.

This stance changed as 018M42 began, as the threat from the Federal fleet and tau empire receded. The alliance abandoned their attempts to establish a path through the Foramen, and began searching to the far east of the galaxy for a way through the Cicatrix. With the Eldar mostly using the webway and the Crusade fleet concentrating on supporting Vandrax, this left the forces of chaos and the loyalists the only two major naval factions contesting the Foramen. Realising this, Jellicoe made plans to reinforce his battlegroups and give his forces much needed naval support on the ground.


However, while Jellicoe was carefully reorganising his fleets, the forces of chaos acted. Lord Tragean agreed to move his fleet to Tarlius, Allowing Stahl to keep his in the defence of Minos. Meanwhile Admiral Thok began threatening moves from Mordecai, pinning down the crusade fleet at Vandrax and forcing Admiral Barham to cover Destino. Admiral Pendragon's force was still shadowing the crusade at Vandrax, leaving Tarlius and Paradorn somewhat at risk of a chaos strike. Jellicoe resolved to move a battlegroup led by himself to Paradorn, while Admiral Enkvist was selected to deal with Tragean at Tarlius, before relieving Admiral Barham at Destino.


Lord Tragean had moved his fleet to the inner Tarlius system, and by late 03.018M42 was supporting his forces on the ground with devastating bombardments and air strikes. His fleet, consisting of Irredeemable Apostate, the Desolator class flagship, two Carnage, two Devastations and a Hades class cruiser, was significant, and Enkvist would only be able to meet him on equal terms, as his flagship, Leipzig, would not be battleworthy for more than a week. Jellicoe couldn't wait that long.


Collecting the force he had, Enkvist sent a sub commander aboard the Retribution class Kirov, towards the chaos fleet near Tarlius II. The imperial force comprised of an awesome assembly of torpedo capable vessels, with a large squadron of missile dedicated Viper class destroyers escorting two gothic class and a dictator class cruiser. As the imperial fleet approached the chaos lord aboard the Desolater seemed contemptful of the danger, as the chaos vessels lazily formed up into formation to meet the inbound threat.


The loyalist admiral ordered all ahead full, and the subsequent massed torpedo wave caused panic in the chaos lines. The imperial force made a good start, crippling Rapturous Agony at 13:56 local time, and forcing the leading Carnage class vessels to shear out of line. In addition the entire screening force of Iconoclast class escorts simply vanished in a roiling cloud of plasma as the Vipers' payload hit home. The initial success of the loyalist strike however had been more visibly dramatic than material. Although Tragean had lost his escorts, the screen had detonated an enormous torpedo wave which did not penetrate through to his capital ships beyond. Now Tragean struck back, destroying the escorts and pouring his entire fleet's firepower into the Kirov at the head of the line.


At 14:07 the massed bombardment of the loyalist flagship had badly damaged the vessel, but the imperial admiral still came on, eventually ramming the chaos battleship at 14:26, causing considerable damage. By now the two fleets were practically intermingled, and both sides launched teleport attacks, with the Imperium even launching an ill advised boarding action against the Pestilence at 14:49. Taking significant close range punishment, the two Carnage vessels fleed, crippled, but the next blow was dealt by Tragean, as the two devastation class carriers finished off the Kirov and reducing her to a burnt out floating hulk at 14:44. No longer under her own power or control, the ship drifted aimlessly shedding her atmosphere. To avoid a similar fate, Tragean aboard the heavily damaged Irredeemable Apostate follwed his Carnage's into the inky blackness of the outer reaches of the Tarlius system, while his remaining cruiser force crippled the gothic class Narv at 15:05.


The two fleets now drew apart, three cruisers remaining on both sides. Tragean had three capital ships badly damaged, including his battleship, but the damage to Enkvist's force had been more significant, with Kirov reduced to a wreck. Eventually the imperial fleet made for the jump point, while Tragean returned to orbit over Tarlius II. The attempt to remove Chaos dominance of the system and the skies of the contested worlds had been a failure.

Fleet movements: Enkvist's Journey

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Aeldari maintain presence at Tarlius

In the aftermath of the battle for Tarlius II the Eldar now controlled an enclave of territory in the planet's equatorial region. Frustrated by the meddling Xenos' intervention Stahl vowed to crush the pocket with fire and blood.

To this end he dispatched his most brutal instruments, frothing beserkers of the World Eaters who screamed benefactions to the God of blood and skulls, and alongside them uncountable multitudes of cultists, scum and corrupted humanity.

Constrained by the dense maze of the industrial zone that blocked their approach the attack began to break up, the mechanised World Eaters pulling away from the thronging mass of humanity that accompanied them. As their mechanised column emerged into sunlit open ground the lead transports instantly exploded in showers of wreckage under a meticulously prepared crossfire of lethal missiles and laser beams.

Their rage no longer held in check the Beserkers disembarked from their transports and ran screaming towards the Aeldari positions which were focused around an ancient Imperial bunker on a commanding hilltop. Rapidly closing the ground Khorne's favourites began tearing their way through the thin screens of aspect warriors that were all that stood between them and the bunker.

Not trusting in the World Eater's brutally direct method of war alone Stahl unleashed his second wave. Holes were ripped into the fabric of real space and obliterators emerged onto the flank of the Aeldari's position, their heavy weaponry spitting death.

For all the assaults fierce brutality all was proceeding as the Eldar had forseen. At a signal from their Autarch yet more warrior aspects plummeted from the skys or emerged from secret entrances to the webway. In seconds the attack on the bunker was completely surrounded, its beserk warriors gunned down mercilessly at point blank range. On the open field the obliterators found themselves ambushed and pinned down by swift moving grav vehicles and the bounding, graceful forms of Banshees who channelled all of their hatred for the servants of She Who Thirsts into their paralysing screams. Only a single warrior made it to the bunker, hacking down the Autarch leading the warhost with all of his hatred and rage before being annihilated by the vengeful xenos that surrounded him. Leaderless and seeing that all was lost the cultists scattered back into the dense maze of piping of the industrial complex. 

Despite the obvious opportunity presented to them by the failure of the attack the Aeldari made no move to exploit it. They seemed content to control the ground they already had, seeing no purpose in throwing precious lives away in the grinding trench warfare favoured by the Iron Warriors and Imperium. This planet was worthless to them. For now it was sufficient that the Aeldari presence here pushed the conflict towards a stalemate and denied any side full control of a world that was strategically critical to them both.