Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Astartes conduct brutal raid at Mordecai

With the Imperial strategic situation in such a poor state and with leadership from Vastrid, now the sector capital, severely lacking, in late 05.018M42 the Adeptus Astartes decided to take matters into their own hands. Identifying the chaos "capital" Mordecai as the linchpin of the chaos supply network, the Space Wolves and Grey Knights agreed on a cooperative strike to hamper the ability of the various chaos forces to prosecute their war effort, hopefully buying enough time for Imperial forces across the sector to regroup. With the chaos fleets now at Paradorn, there was a chance that such a mission could be successful.

Despite the Grey Knights having operated with the Crusade, and the Space Wolves having fought for Hathek on occasions, there was no enmity between the astartes chapters. While they did not always agree with the actions of the two inquisitors, both astartes chapters were united in their hatred for the ruinous powers, and it was in the interests of both the Crusade and loyalist forces to see the traitor forces hampered.

With this in mind the Grey Knights and Space Wolves made the dangerous passage to the Mordecai system, now on the edge of the Cicatrix Maledictum. From here the Space Wolves made the initial insertion, preparing the way for members of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The plan was simple. The Mechanicus had brought with the atomics, which would be detonated underneath the defence shield of the Fortress World of Moredecai Primaris, taking out weapons stores, manufactoria, and crucially fuel and ammunition supplies for the warfleets of Thok, Tragean and Stahl.

The Grey Knights hoped that the Space Wolves insertion would be met with a significant response from the forces of chaos, and the manifestation of their hated daemonic foe. Perhaps even a daemon Primarch would show their hand, giving the Ordo Malleus an opportunity to banish or even slay one of these enemies of the Imperium.

Utilising ancient stealth technology the tiny imperial fleet managed to penetrate into the heart of the Mordecai system, landing on the fortress worlds and establishing a perimeter. As the Adeptus Mechanicus got to work preparing the necessary rituals to ensure a successful detonation, the Space Marines fought a furious battle as the forces of chaos reacted in strength to this intrusion into their heartlands. As the Space Wolves desperately held on, the ruinous powers realised the threat and the Emerald Serpent appeared from the warp, accompanied by the Death Guard. Led by the dread Primarch Mortarion this was the moment the Grey Knights had been waiting for, and they joined the battle in support of their battle brothers.

The Death Guard and Thousand Sons fought with savagery against their hated foe, and the imperial forces knew they would have to retreat. However they needed to buy time for the Mechanicum and deal as much damage to the hated foe as they could before making good their withdrawal. The astartes fought stubbornly, and the Grey Knights banished many a daemon back to the warp, even forcing Mortarion himself to flee back to his infernal domain lest his eternal soul be annihilated by the Emperor blessed weapons of the Ordo Malleus. 

After many hours of savage fighting the astartes were able to make one last gasp effort, using a rhino to block the entrance way to the underground cavern where the Mechanicum had almost completed their rites of blessing to the Omnissiah. At 19hrs on 2805.018M42 the message was received by the Space Wolves captain. ++IT IS COMPLETE++

The astartes and mechanicus forces then managed a successful fighting retreat, as their enemies closed in around them. Using the teleportaria aboard their cloaked vessels, the majority of the valuable assets were evacuated from the planet, escaping into deep space. Only a few tech adepts remained, whose sacrifice was deemed an acceptable trade for the success of the operation. As the astartes strike cruisers raced for the Mordecai jump point, pursued by the few chaos vessels still in the system, behind them an enormous set of explosions blossomed on the surface of the chaos world. The damage to the chaos supply network was devastating, destroying years worth of fuel and enough ammunition to supply an entire warfleet for decades. When Stahl was informed he raged at the incompetence of his chaos "allies" once more. Allies who had allowed the Imperium to conduct a surgical strike at the heart of the chaos realm in the Aleph Sector when the total victory of Chaos was almost at hand.

Chaos clash with Tau at Mimir 3

While the Federacy aided their tau allies at Echo Reach, they were only be able to leave enough forces in the Mimir system to defend the new federal colony of New Titania. This necessarily meant leaving the outer planets without defences, allowing the forces of chaos an easy transit to Mimir III. The Emperors Children had already established a presence in the system, but increased activity detected by federal listening bouys alarmed the alliance. A meeting was called. 

In order to pay back the federacy for their help at Echo Reach, it was arranged that the tau would lead the assault to clear the rogue chaos warbands from the outer reaches of the system. In reality this was also borne of political necessity. With the federal presence at Echo Reach the tau needed to “help” at Mimir so that both systems were “alliance”. 

Malkaor’s expedition duly set off and landed at Mimir 3. Expecting ill equipped and disorganised chaos warbands they were soon shocked as the whole of the elite Emerald Serpent turned out in force to oppose the tau. The battle was hard fought but the tau were unable to deal with the core might of the tzeentch dedicated daemonic armies. In only 24 hours the tau had withdrawn leaving chaos in control of the small rock world of Mimir III. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

New Sector Map

Click to go to a larger image.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Foramen Interdictum Strategic Map

Paradorn Invaded by Chaos

With Tarlius secured apart from the remaining eldar zone on Tarlius II, Warsmith Stahl felt confident enough to move onto the next phase of his plans. Having expanded his empire to include now two important systems - Minos and Tarlius - near to the entry way to the Foramen Majoris, the next target was obvious - Paradorn.

The Paradorn system was situated at the other end of the Foramen Majoris. Holding both ends with the support of the chaos fleets of Thok, Tragean and Stahl would effectively block passage through the Foramen Majoris for the Imperium, and anyone else for that matter.

The alliance now had an alternative route through the Cicatrix, but the Foramen Minoris remained contested between the loyalists and the Crusade, who held their fleet at Vandrax, effectively denying passage to the loyalists. In addition to that, the Minoris crossing involved a much longer and more tenuous route, and risked interception by Federal and Xenos forces. Only a strong battlegroup would be able to traverse this route, not the trade convoys the loyalists badly needed.

With the strategic situation so obviously poor, an invasion of Paradorn had to be obvious, and yet when Stahl, Tragean and Thok moved in force to the Paradorn system, they faced no resistance from the Imperial navy, now leaderless with Jellicoe missing, and apparently content to remain on the defensive guarding Farport, with D'Oyly-Hughes somewhere in the Perseus Deeps.

The Iron Warriors fell upon the Imperial ground forces on Paradorn I, and despite a spirited resistance from the Novgorod Guard, who had fought Stahl so many times at Minos, with chaos enjoying total air supremacy their defence lasers were no help. Stahl simply bombarded them from space, then deployed his army on the ground. Stahl's forces then systematically destroyed the Vostroyan units, before annihilating the imperial installations on the barely habitable rock world.

By 2105.018M42 Stahl's Iron Warriors had moved on to Paradorn III, neatly avoiding the eldar on the second planet, who for now remained impassive to the massive conflict now erupting in the system. Imperial High Command seemed paralysed. On 2305.018M42 Titus Luthor returned from his pilgrimage to Terra, to find the Imperial cause in an absolute shambles.

Chaos infighting but Palantir is overrun

With loyalist forces almost annihilated by the initial Palantir invasion by the forces of chaos, Dale now lay wide open and defenceless to the unstoppable chaos assault. THe backward population tried to flee before the mortal and daemon legions of the Emerald Serpent, with some escaping into the wilderness as villages burned and thousands of prisoners were rounded up to be worked in the name of the Dark Gods. Hell had come to Dale, but the Deamon Prince S'Sith'rak decided he wanted a share of the spoils.

Arriving at the head of a Slaanesh daemon army, the Daemon Prince was not welcomed by the Emerald Serpent, and old enmities erupted as the chaos forces, with no-one else to fight on Dale, instead fought each other. Civilians suffered just the same, but the other-worldly slaughter brought new horrors to the population. The Emerald Serpent succeeded in enforcing their will, and the prince of Slaanesh and his warhost were banished to the warp, allowing the system to be dedicated to Tzeentch. Not however, before S'Sith'rak had looted his own share of the booty - both inanimate and living, from the wreckage of the once peaceful world.

Hadron Expanse: Federal Battlegroup secure Echo Reach for Alliance

After consolidating their hold over New Titania, the Federal battlegroup led by the Battleship Haskell then moved on to Echo Reach, keen to aid the Tau in their conquest of that system. Echo Reach itself was already under the control of the Tau, but they had been involved in running battles against crusade forces, and now Vorushko's troops had gained a foothold on the third planet - Echo III.

Echo III had been inhabited since the great crusade, although much of it now lay in ruins. With the permission of the Tau commander of the Hadron Expansion Sphere, the Federacy and Tau decided to pool their efforts "for the greater good". In return for their help, the Federacy would be allowed to oversee the rebuilding of the dilapidated human colonies on Echo II, III and IV, while the Tau would complete the colonisation of the warm swampy planet of Echo Reach itself.

The Federal battlegroup found no resistance in space, the Crusade fleet being far smaller than the warfleet led by the Retribution class battleship, enabling the overall commander of ground forces, Commander in Chief Jakub Kuwalski,  free reign in landing his troops around the large settlement where the Volscian Guard held their headquarters on the dusty planet.

The Librian 101st regiment, newly reformed from the ashes of the Librian army that had fought against the Tau in engagements across the sector, now moved forward in strength against the Imperium instead, finding that the centre of the city was not only defended by the Volscian Guard, but by units of the astartes chapter "Angels Repentant".

Colonel Bowman, commander of the 101st, did not hesitate in moving forward in strength however, bouyed by recent Federal success at the Mimir system. He had overwhelming firepower, employing a battalion of artillery, Leman Russ battle tanks, and Hellhounds, supported by infantry. Even so the astartes launched a counter attack with predictable ferocity, employing Storm Raven gunships to deliver troops to the heart of the fighting.

From the start the astartes took heavy casualties, with the Death Company taking heavy fire from battle tanks, artillery and Hellhounds, while the airborne units were quickly dealt with. All the Crusade airborne vehicles were shot down, and those troops that did reach the Federal lines were cut down by gunfire and enthusiastic and disciplined charged by the Librian Infantry.

It was not all plain sailing for the Librian Colonel however. The federal fleet detected Crusade strike cruisers inbound, causing a flurry of communications from the overall command for Bowman to "get on with it". The Volscians put up determined resistance, and although the Librians enjoyed a firepower advantage, after a day of fighting the advance was behind schedule with the Crusade strike cruisers moving in force towards Echo III. If the Crusade garrison could hold out for just another day, they may yet be rescued. Admiral Eberhardt warned Bowman that she would not be able to support his troops on the ground and fight a battle in space, and the loss of air cover would prove disastrous for the Librians on the ground. 

Time was pressing, and the Colonel ordered all units to advance, heedless of casualties. Rushing forward with the Hellhounds leading the way, the Librians began pushing the astartes back, causing horrendous losses to the Crusade forces, but the Volscians and Angels Repentant then began a fighting retreat which at one point looked like succeeding. With minutes to spare as the Crusade strike cruisers approached maximum weapons range however, Colonel Bowman was able to report that the settlement and its vital defence lasers had been captured, and all Crusade resistance annihilated. Relieved, Eberhardt pulled her fleet into the cover of the defence lasers and invited the Crusade strike cruisers to engage. Realising this would be futile and nothing could be saved on the planet, the Crusade withdrew.

The defeat of the garrison at Echo III opened the way for Tau and federal forces to land on the remaining worlds of the system, establishing bases and defences against the return of Imperial forces. By 2205.018M42 the Echo system was fully under alliance control.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hadron Expanse strategic position

End of loyalists at the Tarlius system

In mid 05.018M42 the imperial presence at Tarlius was clearly untenable. General Patreus requested evacuation, but although Hathek and the imperial command agreed this would be the best course of action, with Tragean’s fleet in orbit around Tarlius II the situation looked dire. 

Stahl was content to wait for the loyalists to die of hunger, but not all the Chaos forces engaged in the fighting agreed. Notably Khepri, leader of the Prophets of Sotek, favoured immediate decisive action. 

The chance for Khepri came on 1205.018M42, when the Ultramarines, led by a new Primaris Captain, arrived in the system and proposed a daring rescue plan. Able commanders like Patreus and the remaining guard forces should not be allowed to die if they could be rescued. Guilliman needed every man he could get in the fight against the dark forces of chaos. 

Hathek was grateful for the aid, but reluctant to give up command to the Ultramarines. In the end he acquiesced, avoiding a political standoff and clearing the way for the Astartes plan. 

The initial phase of the plan went without mishap, as two strike cruisers leading five fast transports made it successfully to the planet, catching Tragean’s fleet unprepared and out of position. However the Prophets of Sotek quickly realised what the Ultramarines has planned and launched an immediate and bloody offensive against the imperial pocket in the northern hemisphere of the blighted world. 

Khepri use his connection to the warp to deal a devastating blow to the leader of the Ultramarines during an intensely violent conflict. In mere hours the Ultramarines had been decisively beaten by the chaos force, and the loyalists were unable to construct the perimeter needed for the rescue. By the time the imperial transports has got into position to load their precious cargo, there was nothing left to save. Tarlius II was abandoned by the Imperium and one end of the vital Foramen passage now lay in chaos hands, making supplying the Imperium Nihilis all the more difficult. 

Barham's expedition reaches Dnatha

While the loyalist bases at Awarath and Palantir were being overrun, the exploration fleet continued on into the Expanse, apparently blithely unaware of the parlous state of their supply lines. The Imperial fleet was now without any base in the Hadron expanse and was reduced to scattered bases with no provision for resupply and repair.

Nevertheless Barham's fleet ploughed on, reaching the Dnatha system in mid 05.018M42. Here they found the Crusade force already entrenched on several planets, and upon landing on Dnatha 4, the Novgorod Guard were almost immediately pitched into brutal conflict against the Angels Repentant. The astartes tried to disrupt the construction of the loyalist base on the cold icy steppes of Dnatha 4, but the Novgorod fought hard, managing to use their numbers to fend off the space marines.

By 1505.018M42 the Space Marines had withdrawn to the crusade base on the innermost planet, while Barham's fleet moved in to support the loyalist encampment. It had been a victory for the loyalists, but the Ad Hoc nature of the Expanse exploration, with no clear plan or direction, was beginning to finally draw criticism from High Command of the Aleph Sector.

Drukhari raid loyalist base at Awarath

Following the violence at Palantir, which ultimately led to the fall of the system from the loyalist grip, the Drukhari continued their raiding unabaited in 05_018M42, following up with yet another raid on exposed Imperial assets. This time the small base at Arawath, set up to monitor the Crusade on the larger world, was brutally attacked by the Crimson Blade Kabal. Vlokarion clearly had an eye for easy targets and arrived without warning.

The Lycaon detatchment detailed to protect the monitoring post did eventually respond, but despite being able to inflict damage on the raiders the base was completely annihilated before the Drukhari withdrew under heavy fire. The Dark Eldar had conducted another highly profitable raid, and inadvertently aided the Crusade, who now dominated the Awarath system free from loyalist spying.

Chaos take Palantir base from Loyalists

Following the destruction of the Palantir system the Drukhari, the forces of chaos were quick to take advantage of the mess the loyalists were in by launching an immediate assault on the system. Avoiding Dale, which was already a devastated wasteland, the forces of the Emerald Serpent descended upon the smaller world of Bree.

The loyalists however made a strong stand at Hobbiton, defending the smaller abhumans from the onslaught of chaos. At first it seemed that the Last of Sycorax would make a successful defence, as their inquisitor dealt the final blow to the manifestation of Magnus the Red that once again led the charge for chaos.

However, the guard were unable to celebrate their victory for long, as a horde of bloodletters appeared from the warp, carving a bloody path through the centre of the imperial lines deep into the loyalist rear guard. Carnage followed but the imperials still did not falter in their duty. Desperately the Imperial commander called for aid from Barham's fleet, but the ships of the Emperor had already pushed on to Dnatha, once again failing to adequately protect their supply lines. By the end of 01305.018M42 the small Imperial presence on Hobbiton had been wiped out, leaving the abhumans, so recently reunited with the Imperial, to be enslaved by the Chaos Gods.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Hadron Expanse: Strategic

Drukhari raids ravage Hadron Expanse

The opening of the Foramen Ancilla had done more than just make a stable passageway through the Cicatrix. Within the webway, passages that had become blocked, tainted and twisted when the warp scar ripped across the galaxy, suddenly stabilised, and the wards on the gates of these closed off passages for the first time stopped glowing angry red.

As predicted by Farseer Tarquill, the only Aeldari who would take the risk of exploring these newly stabilised passageways would be the Drukhari. Within hours of the predicted time, the first Dark Eldar raiders appeared in the Hadron Expanse, falling upon an unprepared and vulnerable enemy at Palantir.

The Kabal of the Crimson Blade fell upon the human defenders at Palantir, simultaneously landing raiding forces on the two innermost planets, Dale and Bree. The Lycaon Guard responded to the panicked calls for aid from within the main imperial outpost at Bree, but as soon as the imperial guard moved in force on the now burning settlements, the Drukhari ambushed them. Unable to cope with the fast moving dark eldar forces, the Lycaon were soon pinned down long enough for the base to be entirely ransacked.

Worse still was the killing and enslaving that took place on Dale. The human settlers were taken en masse through the webway portal to the Dark City of Comorragh, while the Novgorod Guard that attempted to intervene were massacred, their own troops adding to the immense profit gained by their leader, Vlokarion.

The Crimson Blade were not only active on Palantir. At around the same time a separate raiding force arrived at Echo Reach, acting on a tip off from an unknown seer they had met in the webway. The seer of course was Tarquill, who set in motion a plan to frustrate Magnus the Red. Magnus and Ahriman were both present on the third planet of the system investigating the ruins of a necron tomb. Both were searching for an artefact of great power, an artefact the Eldar could not allow to fall into the hands of chaos. Attacking with lightning speed the Drukhari sliced through the Chaos lords' retinue and banished Magnus to the warp once again, with Ahriman fleeing - the God of Fate apparently having abandoned the Thousand Sons and the Prohets of Sotek.

The Drukhari completed the desecration of the necron tomb, acquiring many ancient items of extreme value, and one of immense power. Now they wondered how much Farseer Tarquill would pay for such a relic...

Necrons awaken in the Expanse

As the forces of the Imperium and Chaos fought over the western systems of the Echo Cluster, the tau and orks were forging deeper into the Expanse. Rustoof's orks, bouyed up by their victories at Oreen, had formed into a new Waagh, and Rok fleets were being sent out at random from the Oreen system. The Tau meanwhile were attempting to consolidate their hold at the system of Echo Reach, little knowing that the Hadron Expanse, far from empty and waiting to be colonised, contained dangers the like of which the tau had little if any comprehension. The entire region had once been a necron stronghold, and the ancient inhabitants of the former galaxy spanning empire had been in hibernation for millenia, waiting for their time to re-awaken.

As the Tau expanded their exploration of the Echo Reach system, the forces of Shadowstrike took themselves to Echo IV, an uninhabited world that was showing strange energy emanations from the surface. Closer inspection showed that the surface of the planet was covered in ancient ruins, which the Tau took the prudent step of bombarding from orbit.

Investigating the now shattered ruins, the Tau landed and fanned out. Very rapidly however, the Tau came under assault from the necrons, who appeared from the shadows. Taken by surprise the Tau formed a defensive perimeter and used their long range firepower to good effect. The necrons soon found themselves taking unacceptable casualties, and were forced to withdraw. Angered as they were by the cattle race now trespassing on their former domain, the necrons would have to accept the situation, at least for now.

Meanwhile at Oreen, the ancient lost dynasty of Bahotekh was foolishly awoken from their great slumber by an as yet unknown race to them, which nonetheless resembled their old enemy the Chorks made by the Old Ones. The Bahotekh were displeased with the knowledge that remnants of the old ones still existed and had tainted their Great Tomb, so they purged the vermin off their planet with hails of purple gauss fire that blocked the sun it self. The vermin where no match for the Great Bahotekh dynasty as they are nothing but insects to be squashed, and there mere existence was quickly removed from the planet. Now the Bahotekh dynasty looks outward from the Great Tomb of Bal to reclaim what was once theirs, and remove the insects that have infested their domain, led by there great ruler Bal of Bones and their Seer Nephthys the Enchanted.

The orks and tau had in fact stumbled on an ancient realm of the necrons, and the Charnovokh dynasty had attempted, for their own reasons, to keep the Bahotekh in their hibernation, at least for now. 

For more on the Bahotek Dynasty see the Forces Page

Federacy come of age at Mimir

Ever since the failed attempt to break into the Foramen Interdictum the Federacy had withdrawn from active warfare. Instead the council of Aleph had decided to remain on the defensive, having lost all their worlds north of the Federal Shield except for Libria.

It was the fate of Libria that spurred the Federacy once more into action. Without a stable path through the Foramen Interdictum, the world would almost certainly become part of the Tau Empire, just as with Tarsis Major and Melberg. While the Federacy remained allied with the Tau as part of the great alliance, many in the Federacy regretted the fact that Libria had declared for the Federacy, not the Tau Empire, and yet they had no wherewithal to exert sovereignty over the strategically vital system and its five populated worlds.

With the opening of the Foramen Ancilla near Hartak, the Federal fleet immediately made the jump into the Hadron Expanse, linking up with Librian regiments which had formed part of the existing Alliance expedition into the Echo Cluster. The arrival of the Federal Vessels met a luke warm reception from the Tau, but the xenos made no objection to the Librian forces being detached from garrison duty at Echo Reach and forming the first truly Federal expedition into unexplored space.

The Federal force now set course for the ancient system of Mimir, a star system which had in ancient times been home to an Imperial Colony. Upon arrival, the Federal fleet found the world of New Titania in surprisingly good condition, with a technology level on a par with the Imperium, although the inhabitants - some seven million - had lost the capability for space travel.

The Federacy were welcomed with open arms by the human inhabitants, who in their isolation had abandoned much of their previous Emperor worship, a fact which pleased the secessionists. However, it soon became apparent that during the isolation from the Imperium, many chaos cults had gone unchecked, and much of the planet was raided on a regular basis by daemonic incursions.

The arrival of the Federacy resulted in the chaos god Slaanesh sending the largest known incursion to the world of New Titania, with a full Slaanesh daemonhost appearing near to the capital of the colony. The Librian force prepared in a defensive posture and waited for the onslaught.

The daemons charged across the ruins of the outer city, long since abandoned by the populous, indicating the predations of the warp had reduced the population of New Titania by at least two-thirds over the last thousand years. Leman Russ battle tanks, hellhounds and artillery pounded the daemonic army, but even so some were able to reach the disciplined lines of guardsmen defending the heavy equipment. Here the fighting turned into a brutal melee, but the Librians fought a fighting retreat, pounding the daemons for every guard life lost.

The appearance of a Keeper of Secrets, known as S'sith'rak, almost caused the Librian general to waver, but the firepower of the Federal tanks banished the greater deamon before the army lost its nerve. Having withstood the inital charge it now became clear that the denizens of Slaanesh, though violent, were no match for the awesome firepower of a Librian armoured division, and the battle moved quickly towards a slaughter. Every single daemonic entity was hunted down and banished without mercy, and Federal agents landed on the world intent on shoring up the planet's psychic stability. Dangerous psykers were interned for treatment and study, while beacons of Tallax were set up to prevent daemonic incursions from happening without warning.

Meanwhile the Emperor's Children made a secret landfall on the outer world known to the God Slaanesh and his followers as !£@?*&:o). S'sith'rak's warhost had done well to distract the armies of the Federacy from the more valuable prize on the outer world, which the traitor legion now began harvesting.

Boltarean: Crusade intervene

With the Crusade established at Arawath and Hussaria Inquisitor Vorushko, now based at Ã–rebro on Hussaria, became increasingly concerned with the goings on at Boltarean. Although both Crusade systems had small loyalist bases, places where even in the Hadron Expanse Inquisitor Hathek had his spies, for now the greatest threat to the Crusade position in the Expanse appeared to be the legions of chaos now building their forces at Boltarean.

Strategically positioned in the rear of the Crusade supply lines, Vorushko was anxious to prevent the total domination of the system by chaos. Her Astartes captains agreed, and the Dark Angels, keen to exact more revenge on traitors to the Imperium, volunteered for the mission.

The Dark Angels strike cruiser arrived unseen in the Boltarean system and landed at company strength on Boltarean 4. Their auxiliary support soon began constructing a base, and within a few days the Emerald Serpent had reacted to this trespass on their domain. 

The Emerald Serpent this time was led by Daemon Prince Andreos Cain, at the head of a host of chaos creatures and the heretical Darrantine Guard. The attack was as brutal as the Dark Angels expected, but the Astartes were prepared. Aided by their strike cruiser in orbit, the Space Marines saw off the chaos attack, forcing the Emerald Serpent to withdraw - at least for now. Vorushko had her outpost and foothold in the Boltarean system. After the easy capture of the valuable Hussaria and Awarath, now came the hard part, fighting on the ground against hostile enemies far away from the Emperor's light.

Loyalists tighten hold at Destino

While the fighting in the Hadron expanse continued and Barham's loyalist expansion fleet pressed on into the unknown, the loyalists at Destino decided to head the strategic warning from the Adeptus Administratum, and put together an operation to clear the Crusade and ork forces from the outer worlds. 

General Percival organised the small fleet resources he had, and landed a significant force of Guard led by the Last of Sycorax on Destino 6. Meanwhile the Novgorod Guard made landfall on the outermost world, a barren rock planet with a barely breathable atmosphere. Here they knew the orks were entrenched, but the Bork fleet had so far not been encountered.

The operation was a major success for General Percival. The Last of Cycorax made headway on Destino 6, despite the intervention of the Carcharadon Astra and elements of the Crusade Adeptus Mechanicus. The Crusade fought hard, but without logistical support were unable to hold off the relentless guard offensive. By 0505.018M42 the planet was in loyalist hands.

On the barren world of Destino 7, the Novgorod Guard faced wave after wave of ork boyz throwing themselves at the guard lines. Days of hard and bloody fighting followed, but the Novgorod never wavered, always reporting updates to General Percival that the situation was "in hand". 

By 0605.018M42 the loyalist forces had broken the back of the ork hordes and had moved into seek and destroy missions. Across the barren planet pyres were lit of burning ork bodies as the imperial forces removed the taint of Xenos from the world. The loyalists now controlled every world in the system, and importantly had fortified the planets giving them a strategic base of operations. The Bork had not been found, but the orks had been eradicated from the worlds of the system. Now only the eldar on "Alarielle's Triumph" needed to be dealt with.

The War of Stone and Iron: The battle for Gregland

Warsmith Lycurgus Stahl had received disturbing news, First Captain Darneth Lysander of the Imperial Fists had returned to the Aleph Sector, once again with the 3rd Company of the Imperial Fists. Worse, they had snuck into the Tarlius system and deployed at full strength on Gregland, formerly Tarlius III, fortifying around the defence lasers and spaceport. For Stahl, this would not stand and the Iron Warriors with take their iron to the stone of the Imperial Fists. The Iron Warriors diverted some their fleet from Minos to Tarlius and escorted the heavy landers carrying fresh troops. For days the defence lasers on Gregland traded fire with Stahl's ships, but without any Imperial fleet support there could be only one outcome - on the early morning of 0505.18M42 heavy landers deployed the Iron Warrior forces just outside the fortified spaceport.

The Imperial Fists deployed in their positions, an Aegis Defence line the mark that the Iron Warriors must not cross. Quickly in the gloom the Iron Warriors made their makeshift fortifications in the ruins opposite, with armoured divisions moving up soon after. Despite deploying at Company strength, the Imperial Fists had been unable to deploy much in the way of heavy armour and so, only a handful of Dreadnoughts along with a Deredeo provided armour support. In contrast, the Iron Warriors had deployed daemonic Decimators, Predators and Land Raiders, flanked by Rhinos, all filled with the madmen of the Forlorn. Stahl finally deployed himself, stepping from the Land Raider he elected to direct the fire of the predators and Havocs.   The Legionne Astartes of Stahl's Iron Warriors were outnumbered by Adeptus Astartes of the Imperial Fists, but they more than made up for this with armour and mortal slaves. 

Identifying the Dreadnoughts to be a danger, a Helldrake deployed from high-orbit and screeched across the battlefield blazing into one Dreadnoughts and engaging the other as the Land Raiders, Rhinos and Cultists all surged forward. The Daemon Prince swooped alongside and obfuscated the Land Raider from targetting augers as Rhinos deployed smoke against counterfire. The Iron Warriors opened fire, destroying a Dreadnought and injuring another.  Recognising the danger the Helldrake presented to the Imperial Fists defence, they directed the mass of their fire at it, bringing it down amongst their line with explosive results, causing further casualties to the fists. 

Bolter fire erupted from the Imperial Fist line, as Lysanders men engaged in bolter drill. The berserkers of the Forlorn,the Daemon Prince and cultist horde charged, many were cut down but not nearly enough as the entire line erupted into bloody melee. From his command position with the Havocs, Lygcurgus Stahl calmly directed the Charybdis Thorakitai to take key strategic positions throughout the area, preparing for future battles and fortifications, all the while the Imperial Fists fought for their lives. The Havocs laughed as they took shots of opportunity against the Imperial Fists, not caring if they hit the expendable mortals or Forlorn.  The Imperial Fists were pushed back. For two hours the melee raged until the bloodied Imperial Fists took  the defence line back and the last Berzerker cut down. However the carnage had given the time the Iron Warriors needed, bringing in even more reinforcements, it was clear the day was won and the planet lost. More than three quarters of the Imperial Fists 3rd Company had been cut down in the fighting, which had only recently been rebuilt from it's disastrous loss at Bastien four years ago, which was also at Stahl's hands. Despite the clear loss, Lysander refused to give ground, charging and crushing the skull of the Daemon Prince then out beyond the defence line, determined to avenge the loss of the 3rd Company. The heavy armour in the Iron Warriors, moved forward to meet him, cutting down the company ancient and the 3rd company banner, methodically closing their grip on the Imperial Fists. The Sorcerer Nicator met Lysanders charge with magics and blade, dodging the slower, grieving warrior and driving his Force sword directly into the Captains primary heart. Moments before Lysanders soul was torn from his body the Strike Cruiser Dorns Justita Fides teleported the near death Captain away.
The day nearing it's end the Imperial Fists surviving Astartes refused to give ground and were gunned down mercilessly by the laughing Iron Warriors. The Techmarine, the last surviving Imperial Fist, was cut down protecting the fallen Deredeo.

The defences of the Space Port overrun and the utter annihilation of the Imperial Fists left Gregland helpless. It was said in the coming days Warsmith Stahl would hurl the newly installed planetary Governor, the one that named the planet, from the highest building as a warning to any who dared defy him. As a last act of venom, Stahl broadcast that Tarlius III was to be known as “Darnath's Folly”, an insult to Darnath Lysander who still lived despite the Sorcerer Nicator's blade.

 - Mike Durrant

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Strategic Dispositions: Aleph Sector

+ + + +TRANSMITTED:Vastrid
+ + + + + RECEIVED:Farport
+ + + +DESTINATION:Farport
+ + + + + + + DATE:3337018.M42
+ +TELEPATHIC DUCT:Lucius Aramir
+ + + + + + + +REF:ADM/4000.321.100/b
+ + + + + + AUTHOR:Adept Marceus. Administratum Analyticae
+ + + + + +SUBJECT:Strategic dispositions Aleph Sector
+ + + + + +THOUGHT:For the foes of Mankind, the only mercy is a swift death

My Lords,

Herein is the requested analyticae report regarding the strategic dispositions of the Aleph Sector, faithful, heretic and xenos.

The Blessed Imperium of Mankind:
Imperial force disposition has been greatly hampered in the Aleph Sector by the continuing disagreement between Lord Inquisitors Vorushko and Hathek. Vorushko has styled herself leader of the "Crusade", while Lord Hathek has taken upon himself the role of leading "loyalist" forces. I shall not describe the source of disagreement here, however the fact that needs drawing to the attention of my lords is that currently there are two warring Imperial factions in the sector.

The Crusade:
++ATTACHED FORCES DOWNLOAD++: Carcharadon Astra: Sky Lords: Dark Angels: Grey Knights: Inquisition battlebarge "Lord of Light": Volscian Guard: Adeptus Mechanicus x/ref: Cybixx

The Crusade have significant holdings in the Perseus Deeps, having secured Bastien, Corticant and Parthenope and swayed them to their cause. They have also crossed into the Hadron Expanse and secured significant worlds: Hussaria and Awarath. In addition Archmagos Cybixx has established a major base at Vandrax in the Foramen Interdictum.

Overall their position appears strong, but they lack logistical supply lines and have suffered military reverses in the preceding months. They also lack the sheer numbers His Imperium can bring to bear on His enemies. The Crusade worlds in the Perseus Deeps are in particular vulnerable to assault from heretic and xenos forces.

The loyalists:

++ATTACHED FORCES DOWNLOAD++: Battlegroups Jellicoe, Barham, Pendragon, Enkvist: Novgorod Guard: Lycaon Guard: Last of Sycorax: Ultramarines: Space Wolves: Imperial Fists

Loyalist forces are aided by the support of Admiral Jellicoe's fleet. However Lord Hathek has been interfering at a strategic military level of late, and lack of overall strategic command with proper advice from the Adeptus Administratum and failure to adhere to the doctrines of the Tacticae Imperium should be noted with alarm. The loyalist forces are stretched to the limit everywhere. While they are present in all four key systems of the Foramen Interdictum they hold none, and the loss of Paradorn would lead to catastrophic consequences beyond the Cicatrix Maledictum. They have no major fortified bases in the Foramen, and no major supply centres in the Imperium Nihilis. They are weak everywhere, strong nowhere.

The "Alliance":
++ATTACHED FORCES DOWNLOAD++: Tau: cf: Skyfall, Malkaor: Federacy: Kel Sandros Eldar

I have grouped Federal, Tau and Eldar forces into one here, although while it is clear the Kel Sandros Craftworld are actively aiding the Tau and Federacy alliance, it is uncertain whether the eldar or Aeldari race are in fact united in this purpose. Previous history would suggest this is unlikely. The Alliance of at least these three however is extremely strong thanks to the actions of the Kel Sandros Eldar in opeining the Foramen Ancilla. How this was achieved is unknown, although Xenos tech is implicated. Nevertheless, the Tau now have a stable warp passage between their empire, the Federacy, and the Aleph Expansion Sphere - previously cut off beyond the warp scar.

The control of this pathway is key to the Alliance strategic strength, yet individually the Federacy is weak, and although the Tau have major worlds in the Zadoc Subsector, they are besieged at Echo Reach in the Hadron Expanse. However, it should be noted that the alliance overall position is extremely potent in the Aleph Sector.

Traitor Forces:
++ATTACHED FORCES DOWNLOAD++: Iron Warriors: cf: Stahl: Emerald Serpent: Death Guard: Word Bearers: Emperor's Children: Lord Tragean: Admiral Thok: Prophets of Sotek

The forces of the ruinous powers are by no means a united force with the same objectives, but of late they have been acting as such. Lord Tragean and Admiral Thok's victories in the Foramen have aided Warsmith Stahl in tightening their grip over the Tarlius System. The complete conquest of Tarlius looks likely, and Paradorn must surely be next. Analyticae report that a subsequent invasion of Imperial (Crusade) worlds in the Perseus Deeps would likely lead to catastrophic losses.

Unhnindered by the Cicatrix Maledictum, the forces of Chaos are equally strong in the Hadron Exapanse, where the forces of the thrice accursed Magnus the Red have already been encountered. The only saving grace thus far is that although not fighting one another, the disparate forces of chaos have not as yet focussed their efforts.

Other Forces:
++ATTACHED FORCES DOWNLOAD++: Orks: Rustoof: Necrons: Charnovokh Dynasty: Tyranids

Other Xenos are a lesser threat. The Necrons in the region are a shadow of their former glory, having been split asunder by the coming of the Cicatrix. However, they should not be underestimated, as they have unseen holdings and can transit across the sector by means the Adeptus Mechanicus do not fully understand. Their capacity for expansion would seem limited however.

The orks are an enduring threat to the Imperium. In the Foramen, they have been sighted in the Destino system, and in the Hadron expanse a new Warlord has emerged known as "Rustoof", who has succeeded in unifying the greenskins locally and holds a dominating presence at Oreen. Care should be taken with the greenskin race, as the emergence of a new Waagh! cannot be ruled out.

The tyranids have apparently vanished once more into the void, but the presence of Nemesis splinter fleets cannot be ruled out. Should one emerge at the wrong place and time, the consequences to the already thinly stretched Imperial supply lines would again be disastrous.

Overall message: The Imperium stands on a knife edge in the Aleph Sector: Present everywhere but fractured and disunited. I implore my lords to heed this warning and take charge of the situation before it is too late.

Adept Marceus. Administratum Analyticae