Saturday, June 16, 2018

Aeldari strike at Imperial Targets

In the Hadron Expanse, the loyalist forces of Admiral Barham's battlegroup had suffered a setback at Vespae, but Inquisitor Huron of the Ordo Xenos arrived in mid 06.018M42 in order to take command of the expedition. Huron wanted to find out as much as possible about the necron ruins, which he knew to be of the still dormant Bahotek Dynasty. If any of the Xenos tech could be salvaged, it might provide Huron with the power to create safe faster than light travel, free of the predations of chaos, something which would save the Imperium - he believed - from its otherwise certain demise at the hands of the ruinous powers.

Huron instructed General Chuikov, the Novgorod commander of ground forces in Barham's Hadron Expedition, to begin investigating the ruins on two of the systems worlds. No sooner had they sent down landing teams however, the Aeldari attacked. Led by the Rillietan or Harlequins, the xenos force brutally slew both landing parties before Huron decided to land in force on the third planet. Believing these to be mere xenos raids he felt a show of Imperial force would check their boldness, but the Inquisitor Lord was to be sorely disappointed. 

The larger force of Novgorod and Adeptus Mechanicus landed in good order but were soon engaged by a surprisingly large force of Aeldari. More worrying for Huron was that the eldar involved appeared to be both Harlequin and Drukhari, or Dark Eldar. Clearly something about these ruins was important enough for the usually contemptuous dark kin of the eldar to make common cause with the Rillietan, and the combined Xenos force showed no mercy to the human interlopers.

Brutal fighting saw many lives lost on both sides, with the eldar for once willing to trade lives for ground. It was clear from their savage assaults that they were determined the "mon keigh" should not set foot in the ancient ruins. After losing more than two thirds of their landing force General Chuikov was able to pursuade the lord Inquisitor to evacuate. The remaining imperial forces were hastily withdrawn from the planet and the Aeldari claimed two of the systems worlds for their own.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Imperium Destroy Mordecai Base

Following the first raid on Mordecai the Astartes forces in the Perseus Deeps realised their work was not done. Despite inflicting considerable damage to the base at Mordecai, the fleets of Tragean and Thok remained in orbit around the besieged planet of Paradorn 3. If the chaos alliance of Stahl, Tragean and Thok was not broken, then Paradorn would fall leaving the entirety of the Foramen Majoris in the hands of chaos. The Vastrid sector would be cut off from the Deeps and the Hadron Expanse, and Imperial survival in the Imperium Nihilis would be under direct threat.

The Grey Knights led the planned assault, but this time 
received help from the Imperial Fists. Despite the two astartes forces having been on either side of the Inquisition war, both knew that the survival of the Imperium in the Aleph sector was at stake, and both chapters acted with the utmost faith and professionalism, planning a detailed raid against Mordecai II, which would render the space docks in orbit above unusable for a long time.

The first raid had destroyed the supply docks at Mordecai Primaris, but this raid would target Mordecai Secundus, where mining operations provided the raw materials for the maintenance of the mighty chaos fleet. If production here were destroyed, the base would be redundant, as it would be a floating fortress without the ability to service and repair Thok and Trageans fleets.

The operation was not without risk, as to prevent forewarning of the chaos forces, the imperial force would have to avoid the usual jump points and enter the system a lot closer to the baleful orb of the Mordecai star. This immediately led to problems, as while the Imperial Fists strike cruisers arrived on time at their scheduled jump point, the operation was delayed for some time as the Grey Knight's navigators made a critical error, leading to the fleet being lost in the warp for a considerable period.

This time allowed the chaos forces of the Emerald Serpent to intervene, lending much needed support to the defenders of the Mordecai system - the Venturi Cataphractii led by the chaos abomination Lord Malinda. Now the imperial force faced a significant defence as the element of surprise had been lost.

Without fleet defence however, the forces of chaos were powerless to prevent the astartes from landing where they chose, and although the traitor army reacted as best they could, by the time battle had been joined the damage had already been done. Massive stockpiles of materials protected from bombardment by void shields were destroyed from below, as the astartes rapidly created breaches in the facilities' defences, allowing the adeptus mechanicum to set off massive demolition charges.

Then the astartes forces had to escape. Barring their way Magnus himself appeared from the warp, enraged by this second trespass into the very lair of chaos in the Deeps. However, the Imperial Fists commander stood before him, and many then attest to a miracle occurring. Despite the impossibility of such an event, all witnessed the space marine captain take on the appearance of their lost Primarch, Rogal Dorn himself, who stood in a shining halo of light battling his brother in single combat as the rest of the astartes forces made good their escape. Magnus was struck down and once again banished to the warp, as the vision of Dorn watched over his sons as they escaped into the waiting strike cruisers. 

The raid annihilated the mining stations on Mordecai Secundus, wrecking the facilities of the system itself. Realising now that the situation was becoming intolerable, Lord Tragean and Thok broke with Stahl, with Thok moving his fleet immediately to his anchorage, where he would need to spend months repairing the damage done by the astartes actions.

Tragean, fearing a similar raid at his base on Kendrenec, similarly fled the Paradorn system. Now Warsmith Stahl found himself alone, with his fleet facing the newly arrived battlegroup under Admiral D'Oyly-Hughes. The situation on Paradorn had changed drastically, and Stahl's hope to close off the Foramen Majoris from the Imperium had suffered a huge setback. Thanks to the actions of the adeptus astartes, and the "miracle of Dorn", the Imperium had been saved from the brink of annihilation.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Hadron Expanse 06_018M42

Ancient necron ruins found at Vespae

Admiral Enkvist had been unable to find Barham's fleet because the loyalist forces had now pushed into the very heart of the Hadron Expanse, beyond the range of astropathic communication. Alarmed by this, many of the senior staff in the expedition now felt it was time to turn back. Palantir had been lost, and the Crusade still had grudges to bear against the Novgorod Guard which made up the bulk of the imperial ground forces.

Lacking astartes support a meeting was called while the fleet sailed through the warp. However, eventually the expedition decided to press on, influenced by a group of shadowy individuals who revealed their inquisitorial seal to the admiral and ground commanders. The expedition would go on.

The next system the imperial fleet encountered appeared to be a dead system. There were many worlds capable of supporting life, but all the augur arrays detected were dust covered ruins. Landing a small party on the outer ice world to investigate anomalous readings, the rest of the fleet pushed on to the innermost terrestrial world, known as Vespae according to ancient star charts.

The planet itself appeared lush and verdant, ideal for colonisation, but no intelligent life was found. However, the Inquisition party directed the fleet to the outer moon, where extensive ruins of a past civilisation were evident. Landing a large force of Novgorod Guard on the moon, the Inquisition and their Adeptus Mechanicus team began searching and exploring the ruins, which were clearly necron in origin. 

After  several days of exploration, the imperial perimeter suddenly and unexpectedly came under assault by Xenos forces. Recognising them as Drukhari - of the Crimson Blade Kabal, the inquisiton ordered the Novgorod to make a fighting withdrawal while trying to gather as much information as possible. The expansive ruins made ambushes and lightning assaults all the more easy for the Dark Eldar, who systematically tore the Novgorod Guard apart in the shadow of the necron structures.

On 0606.018M42 the inquisition ordered the remaining members of the landing force to evacuate, leaving Vlokarion to exploit the ruins for his own ends. Declaring the inner worlds Perdita, the Inquisiton force took Barham's fleet back to the outer reaches to consolidate and regroup. Meanwhile they urgently tried to get a message through to their patron, Inquisitor Huron of the Ordo Xenos.

Imperium cling on at Paradorn

Following the raid at Mordecai by Imperial forces, the situation on Paradorn was not immediately relieved. The raid caused a great deal of damage and fractures in the chaos alliance began to appear, but Warsmith Stahl and the Emerald Serpent were able to convince Admiral Thok and Lord Tragean to keep their fleets in the Paradorn system, although both admirals felt their anchorage was under threat and it took a great deal of persuasion.

With time pressing, the forces of Chaos launched a new offensive on Imperial Forces on the third planet at Paradorn. Although chaos held the inner planet, there was still hard fighting in the system, and General Patreus, now in overall command at Paradorn, was already reorganising his Novgorod and Lycaon forces to better defend the Imperial position.

On the ground, the Emerald Serpent had limited forces at their disposal. Constant daemonic incursions were challenging, so the latest offensive would be undertaken by the traitorous Darrantine Guard, a former imperial force that had completely gone over to the side of the Ruinous Powers following the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum.

Opposing this offensive, the Lycaon Guard fought with stubbornness and tenacity, and although the offensive started well for the traitor forces, within days the advance had stalled, and the Lycaon army began relentlessly pushing the Darrantine army back, encircling them. Tragean and Thok meanwhile were unwilling to leave the safe orbit of Paradorn I, fearing another raid by the astartes which could take their only base in the Paradorn system from under them.

Without support from space, the Darrantine Guard on Paradorn III were relentlessly ground down by the loyalist forces, before being entirely encircled and eliminated. By early 06M42 General Patreus was pleased to report that the planet was now fully under the control of Imperial forces. The situation still remained bleak however, with three chaos fleets in the system preventing any realistic move to take the inner worlds. Meanwhile the eldar simply watched events unfold from their stronghold at Paradorn II.

Crusade inch forward at Boltarean

While the battle for the Foramen raged in the spinward region of the Aleph Sector, the imperial battlegroups, mostly under the command of the Crusade, continued their war in the Hadron Expanse. The inner worlds of the Boltarean system had already been conquered by chaos, but the crusade were growing concerned that the system lay on the only reliable warp lane to the Zadoc subsector, where Hylas and New Cerberex maintained a tenuous supply route back to Corticant and Bastien in the Perseus Deeps. The Crusade resolved to take Boltarean from chaos, however long it took.

The Angels Repentant and the Volscian Guard agreed to take on the mission, as they already had a reasonably secure foothold on the outer ice planet. Their plans were boosted in 06.018M42 with the arrival of Enkvist's fleet. Without Jellicoe in overall command of Imperial naval forces in the sector since his defeat to Thok, the battlegroups of the sector were now left without central command, at least temporarily, so Enkvist took it u[on himself to bring much needed aid to imperial forces in the Expanse.

Unable to find Admiral Barham of the loyalist expedition, and largely ambivalent to the squabbles between Inquisitors Vorushko and Hathek, Enkvist arrived at Boltarean and immediately lent his support to the Crusade, allowing the Astartes to conduct a full on invasion of the ice planet of Boltarean III.

The defenders of the world were garrison forces of the Emerald Serpent - the Darrantine Guard, who fought hard, but ultimately could not prevent the Crusade from establishing a foothold on the planet. The next day the combined Volscian and astartes force launched their main assault at the only populated settlement, and outpost base on the western hemisphere of the frigid planet. With air support and astartes forces, the Darrantine Guard soon folded, abandoning the base and yielding the world to the Crusade Imperium. Those traitorous guard that did escape the fighting, were either hunted down in the weeks to come or died in the inhospitable wilderness of the frozen world.