Monday, July 23, 2018

Federal Forces in the Hadron expanse

Overall Commander Combined Operations: Commander Fletching (Tallax)
Admiral of the Fleet: Admiral Khanna (Aleph 4)
Commander Ground Forces: General Asgard (Hartak)

Federal Fleet:
- Hand of Freedom
- Liberation
- Spirit of Hope
- Spirit of the Republic
- Various Escorts

Air Forces
- 3rd Air Wing (Liberation)
- 4th Air Wing (Mimir - New Titania)
- 11th Air Wing (Echo Reach)
- 8th Air Wing (Dnatha Prime)

Ground Forces
- 3 Tallaxian Storm Corps Batallions
- 8 Librian Regiments
- 1 Librian Superheavy Tank regiment
New Titania
- 2 Tallaxian Storm Corps Batallions
- 2 Sartosan Ranger Batallion
- 6 Librian Regiments
- 2 Librian Superheavy Tank regiments
Echo Reach
- 2 Hartak Regiments
- 1 Tallaxian Storm Corps Batallion
- 1 Cerberex Guard Regiment
- 2 Sartosan Ranger Batallions
- 6 Librian Regiments
- 1 Aleph Guard Regiment
- 2 Librian Superheavy Tank regiments

Total front line strength: 250,000 troops + equipment, 400 aircraft, 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, various escorts, supply ships and tenders

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mordecai: Emerald Serpent fail to rescue Marcus

Lycurgus Stahl glared at the incorporeal, twitching and screaming with a thousand mouths and yet more terrified faces, as it was rendered down into component essences suitable for the production line of currently dormant machines.

“zo'ta yiz y'nao'quna iai'ae o maenz niksq iq's dae'ziqiaer oz aeunx zaere'dabbi” The drone of the Dark Mechanicus echoed in the chamber.

“Marcus, you failed me, now you serve as a machine.”

A klaxon alarm screamed throughout the complex and Stahl, knowing what it meant, opened his comm-channel.

“The Emerald Serpent, they are here! Repel them!”

“Warsmith...” A tentative reply came. “The Primarch of  the XV is with them.”

An unfamiliar flicker of emotion rushed through Stahl. Fear.

“You heard my orders, Darrix, now carry them out. Unleash everything and repel them, even the Primarchs must serve.”

On 2107.018M42 a brief and bloody civil war raged on Mordecai, centred around the Daemon forge and fortress of the Iron Warriors of the 144th Grand Battalion.

The Emerald Serpent, outraged at the brutal attack by Warsmith Stahl, made preparations for the rescue of their beloved Daemon Prince Marcus. Throughout the warp the Sorcerers and Daemon Princes of the Emerald Serpent could sense the screams of Marcus' essence being rendered and bound into the Daemonic Engines of the Iron Warriors. Pleas and sacrifices were made to Tzeentch in their thousands, which were finally answered by his chosen son Magnus the Red. The long range defences ensured that attacking from distance was suicide even for the Rubrics, Daemons and Knights of the Emerald Serpent. The skeins of fate spoke of an opportunity, should the Emerald Serpent reach the walls of the Daemonforge unmolested.

On the Night side of Mordecai, the Magnus and a cabal of Sorcerers tore a gaping hole in the warp that passed directly through to the Fortress of the Iron Warriors. An enormous host of Land Raiders, Knights, Daemons, Sorcerers and Rubrics, all headed by Magnus the Red, marched through. The creation of the Warp tear lashed out with eldritch fire into the ranks of the Iron Warriors, cutting through the ranks of the human slaves and Thorakitai soldiers. The remaining humans were either lobotomised or even more terrified of the Iron Warriors than the horrors assailing them. Magnus and the Sorcerers glided over and the Knights strode over the tank traps and razor wire without hindrance, while the Land Raiders were slowed by navigating the treacherous defences. Even with the assembled Sorcerers and Daemonic experiments of the Iron Warriors, they were hopelessly outmatched in warpcraft. Magic was the easy victor at this point in the battle, as the Predators and a Hellbrute were annihilated, their violent explosions scything through the Iron Warriors lines. Not done, Magnus charged through the storm of fire at the Iron Warrior Knight, his staff scything through a Vindicator, but as Magnus raised his staff high to cleave the Knight in two the Sorcerer Darrix leaped forward and stabbed out with force sword. Magnus roared in fury and pain and his attention was momentarily focussed on the Darrix.

With Magnus momentarily distracted, the Helldrakes screamed overhead and set Magnus alight. The entire Iron Warrior force pointed every single gun at him and turned Magnus into a ball of exploding munitions and light. For an age Magnus' form was seen fighting through the cacophony of fire, enough to obliterate a whole regiment of Astra Militarum. But finally, with a frustrated scream, Magnus was cast back to the warp.

If the Emerald Serpent were shocked by the loss of Magnus they did not show it, rather they redoubled their efforts. Daemons tore into reality as the Scarab Occult appeared in the back lines of the Iron Warriors, ready to push on to rescue Marcus. The Emerald Serpent Knights charged, gutting the Iron Warriors line of defence, while the Castellan Knight and Daemonic Flamers roasted the whole slave host of the Iron Warriors who died screaming as the forms dissolved in changing fire. In return the daemonic engines of the Iron Warriors were hurled forward in counter charge, the Defiler grabbing and pinning the Castellan in place as a Maulerfiend leapt on and tore chunks out of the massive Knight's frame. On the right, the Knight Errant came under the war calculations of the Iron Warriors. Scrap code infesting the Knight's systems and overloaded its Ion shield just in time for Autocannon and Lascannon fire to bisect it. In response, the Knight Gallant uppercut the Iron Warriors' Knight and tore off its entire carapace.

As the 3rd line of the Thousand Sons closed in and further Knights emerged from the Warp gate, the Iron Warriors hurled their own reserved into the fray, as Hellbrutes charged into battle. A Hellbrute known as Kuarack the Insane first carved through the Scarab Occult, then the Flamers. The Knight Gallant on the left kicked the Hellbrutes aside and attempted to charge beyond to rescue Marcus but Kuarack would not be stopped, spearing the smoking Knight dead with its twin Lascannon. The Daemon Prince only known as “Experiment LXIV” soared through the air and, along with the Sorcerer Nicator, cut down their wounded counterparts. With their deaths the Warp gate began to flicker, its tether to reality cut. The Emerald Serpent were forced to flee, leaving the Iron Warriors severely battered but victorious.
Stahl looked over the ruins of the fallen Knights and, along with his coterie, appraised each of the broken hulks.

“These three will walk, this one is fit only for salvage.” A blurt of machine code gave agreement.

A faint breathing from beneath some shattered rubble caught Stahl's attention; kicking aside fallen masonry he came upon Daxis, his armour utterly shattered and his body akin to a broken mass of blood, like a blister that had burst. He had been kicked into the side of the building by the Knight Gallant and it didn't take Stahl's training as an Apothecary to tell him Daxis was as good as dead without help far beyond what the Imperial lap dogs could ever hope to receive.

“I will rebuild you Daxis, you will see the Empire of Iron reforged. Iron Within, brother”.

Imperial Fists consolidate gains at Dnartha

Dnatha was becoming an escalating warzone by mid to late 07.018M42. Having initially been claimed by the Tau, the system had already changed hands twice since its discovery as the Imperium and Alliance wrestled over the strategically important worlds. Lying on the warp lane between the Aleph Sector proper and the outer Expanse, the Imperium wanted a world for resupply. The Tau and Federacy similarly needed the system, as otherwise Echo Reach and Mimir would be dangerously close to hostile forces, their supply lines made that much more difficult.

Admiral Barham moved in strength on the Dnatha System, escorting an entire company of Imperial Fists, recently arrived from the Perseus Deeps. Their intent was to remove the weakened Librian forces from Dnatha following their extremely costly "victory" over House Eagleclaw to claim Dnatha Prime.

Since the battle for the main world the Imperium and Librian forces had been skirmishing on the ice world of Dnatha II, as the small federal fleet attempted to establish dominance over the imperial forces now based on the outer worlds. These forces had recently been reinforced with elite Librian and Tallaxian mechanised regiments in order to tackle the rough ground and freezing temperatures of Dnatha's outer systems.

The Imperial Fists were hoping for a simple return to Dnatha, but with the presence of the Federal fleet at Dnatha Prime, they knew that a landing would prove difficult and would be unlikely to deliver a knockout blow at the Federal position. The Astartes could not afford a long drawn out engagement, so instead decided to secure the outer worlds, effectively besieging Dnatha Prime. Meanwhile Admiral Barham's fleet and the federal battlegroup maintained their stand, neither side yet willing to risk their ships.

On the ground the Federal force defending the Dnatha II base was well prepared, but the initial bombardment from the astartes strike cruiser destroyed much of the static Librian defences. The Imperial Fists then made a text book night attack, assaulting the federal positions in bitter cold and pitch black conditions. The Space Marines, immune to the cold but somewhat easier to spot in the darkness made good progress, until a concealed Librian Baneblade annihilated their Spartan command tank as soon as the imperial force came into range. The astartes knew this battle would now be all the more difficult.

Despite the darkness and cold neither side withdrew, and a fierce firefight developed outside the ruined base. Heavy weapons soon eliminated the federal baneblade, which detonated, causing severe damage to nearby Librian buildings, and doomed one unit of Primaris plasma gunners as the huge Baneblade turret flew off, scattering onto their unfortunate position before they could so much as look up.

Despite these losses the durability of the space marine infantryman once again made the difference. The Librian tanks did inflict damage on the Fists, as did the basilisk artillery battery, but their shooting was often eratic and hampered by the cold dark conditions. In addition, a high proportion of the Librian armour caught fire and exploded, once again raising concerns over the safety of these vehicles both in manufacture and maintenance. After the battle the Federacy ordered an inquiry by the Federal Health and Safety Board (FHSB).

With the main base overrun and the Librians having lost all their heavy equipment, the scramble was now on to rescue what they could before the cold ended all hope of escape. Several large shuttles were able to leave for Dnatha Prime and the safety of the Federal Fleet, but hundreds of Librians were not so lucky.

The smaller scale action was nonetheless strategically important for the Imperium, as Barham's fleet began its blockade of the Dnatha System, while the Imperial Fists instructed their enginseers to begin work on "Gregopolis" - a set of fortifications and defence lasers on the second world securing it from light orbital assault. The Imperium would dig in, and plan its next move to conquer the system.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Emerald Serpent defeated at Ceti

The reason the Emerald Serpent were regrouping at Mordecai and were easily attacked by Stahl's forces lay far to the galactic east. Using the arcane knowledge of the warp only accessible by the devotees of Tzeentch, the forces of chaos had arrived at the Ceti system to intercept a probing force of Novgorod Guard, sent in a small task force by Admiral Barham and General Chuikov to establish a base at Ceti.

Ceti lay on the main warp route between Vanir and the Echo cluster, and Barham needed a base in the system to ensure continued and uninterupted monitoring of the Necron threat. Currently hibernating, should the necrons awaken without warning and intercept the fleet at Ceti the result would be disastrous.
Chaos also needed more bases in the Hadron Expanse and were keen to prevent the imperium from improving their supply lines to the Echo Cluster, which the Emerald Serpent also had designs on. This led to a prolonged skirmish between the infantry scouting forces of the Emerald Serpent and those of the imperial guard. However, the Omsk Cavalry made the decisive impact, driving of the traitor forces again and again, eventually forcing the remnants of the patrol force back through the warp to Boltarean, then onward to Mordecai, where they were planning to raise followers for their next offensive.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Imperium return to Palantir

Following the discovery of Palantir the Imperium had been devastated by its loss to chaos. It was only a matter of time before the Imperium would mount a counter invasion and with the power of Chaos apparently waning and the arrival of Lycaon and House Eagleclaw reinforcements, Admiral Enkvist escorted a significant force of imperial knights and guard to the outer reaches of the Palantir system in early 07.018M42.

Finding no resistance in space, the fleet moved inwards, landing a Knight Retinue and several Guard Regiments on the world of Hobbiton, near to the main settlements - a series of villages and towns inhabited by the short abhumans of the world. The imperial army soon found the inevitable tragedy of a world shackled to the chaos gods. The abhumans had been forced into slavery, and their previously idyllic country lifestyle had been destroyed, with ore mines and factories now belching smoke across what had once been fields and glades.

The Knights led the vanguard of the battle to free the citizens of Hobbiton, which were now under the gruesome slaver hand of the Death Guard. Infected and downtrodden, the inhabitants of the planet were shocked to see the Knights of Eagleclaw striding into the main settlements, seeking out their Nurgle oppressors. Eventually the Death Guard mounted a serious counter-attack, but the Knights were well prepared. Using their missiles to take out the vile nurgle sorceror, despite the interventions of Mortarion's Sons the Death Guard were quickly dispatched by the rampaging Knights, with the Imperial Guard following up. On 1707.018M42 the liberation of the abhuman settlements was complete and the Imperial commander was able to give the signal "Hobbiton Stands!"

Federacy contest Dnatha after bloody battle

While the rest of House Eagleclaw and the battlefleet of Enkvist headed to Palantir, and Barham remained at Vanir, the alliance took the opportunity to make their move. Escorted by the Federal battlegroup headed by Hand of Freedom, the Federacy made landfall on Dnatha Prime, the small colony and outpost set up by the Imperium after Barham had moved through to discover Vanir and the Tau defeat to Legio Dominus. Believing the base to be relatively undefended, the federacy led the assault, with the Librian Guard supported by their super heavy battle tank division.

Unfortunately for the alliance, the Imperium had left considerable strength behind on Dnatha, as not only was there a garrison of Lycaon Guard, but a significant force belonging to House Eagleclaw, which the Imperial Expedition had added to their force following the detente between the Crusade and Loyalist factions in the Hadron Expanse.

Now acting as a somewhat unified force, the Imperial defenders soon arrived to prevent the federal tanks from crossing the river between their landing zone and the small city-base. A bloody battle ensued, and although two of the giant war engines were taken out by the Librian Shadowsword, they were unable to stop the largest Knight, a Valiant, from getting to the federal lines.

The awesome close combat weaponry of the Imperial construct - something the Federacy had no access to, now tore through the Librian tanks, wrecking even the baneblade that tried to smash into the giant walker. Desperation set in, as the Librian infantry ran for cover, until at the last second the general stepped forward. Yelling "for freedom" at the top of his lungs, General Chamberlain ran to the base of the towering monstrosity, using his ancient heirloom power sword to hack away at the cables around the base of the Knight. Almost unbelievably the attack worked, as the loss of power to one of the war engines titanic feet caused the Valiant to topple over, crashing into the almost wrecked baneblade, detonating both of their plasma reactors in an explosion rivalling a nuclear blast.

Not surprisingly Chamberlain did not survive. However his sacrifice destroyed the remaining heavy unit defending the base, and despite having no vehicles left of their own, federal reinforcements quickly surrounded the imperial base, leading to its surrender. Although the Librian losses were immense, shocking the alliance planners, they now had a base at Dnatha, and at least one captured Knight pilot. The controller of a Crusader was quickly put into a coma before he could commit suicide, while the heretic tech-adepts of Tallax began trying to unravel the technological mystery of the war engine and its MIU.

In orbit the federal fleet could not remain however, as they received news that Admiral Barham, having dropped off a force at Ceti, was now inbound to the Echo Cluster. Uncertain of his intentions, the Hand of Freedom was forced to return to the Federal base at Mimir, leaving a small garrison on the newly won base at Dnatha Prime. Whether the Librian Sacrifice had been worth it would remain to be seen.

Emerald Serpent punished by Stahl for failure

The forces of Chaos had suffered an unfortunate turn of fortunes as of late, going from within a hairs breadth of cutting the Imperium in two throughout the sector, to losing all of their gains at Paradorn. For years this had been a repeating pattern, Stahl cursing the failures of his allies. Over the years he had been forced to decimate more than one warband for their foolishness and in 1407.018M42 his wrath fell upon Marcus and the Emerald Serpent.

Knowing the Emerald Serpent were regrouping on Mordecai, Warsmith Stahl took a force of Iron Warrior veterans, all true sons of Perturabo and a horde of mortal expendable flesh to punish Marcus; no monstrous creatures of the Warp would taint the IV's revenge.

The forces of the 144th Grand Battalion crested the frozen hills, as the flesh screened the Havocs, and Rhinos transporting Iron Warriors held in reserve. In the early morning gloom the dull armour of the Iron Warriors was silhouetted against the rising sun, the cacophony of their heavy weapons shattering the armour a number of Rubrics announced their presence.

The Emerald Serpent immediately knew what the Iron Warriors attack meant and commanded the Scarab Occult Terminators forward into the teeth of the Havocs guns absorbing much of the fire using magicks to speed their advance. Stahl callously drove forward the horde of Expendable Flesh; many captured Imperial citizens, to slow down the Scarab Occults advance. Hundreds of pitiful humans were slaughtered, but the Iron Warriors had already redirected their fire into the Rubric Marines on the left of the column, with a storm of concentrated Heavy Bolter and Autocannon fire the Rubrics were cut down. Marcus, the remaining Rubrics and Sorcerers butchered the last of the mortals and began to resume their march, only too late to realise the kill zone that the Iron Warriors had lured them into. A storm of precision fire bisected the Scarab Occult terminators Cataphracti armour, who returned fire even as they fell, felling some of the Iron Warriors. The Emerald Serpent Thousand Sons continued to march, attempting push through the fire into the Iron Warriors left flank, Stahl had accounted for this and sent a second wave of flesh to their flank and even allowed Tong the Younger, a Hellbrute, to charge forward into Marcus, who had been holding the centre. The machine and the daemon clashed, Marcus far more skilled but Tong clearly more ferocious.

For those more concerned with the glory of the gods, this would have been an epic clash, but Stahl had no interest. The last of his forces started to move forward, the Thousand Sons pinned and now completely trapped. Marcus and his Sorcerers were captured...

Amid the broken ruin of the Hellbrute, Marcus was bound to the earth in Rune marked chains, his twitching and inconsistent form desperately trying to break free, with only his two eyes remaining constant and locked with a mix of fury and fear upon the approaching Legionaire.

“I'm sorry I broke your pet” hissed Marcus sarcastically, nodding towards the broken form of the  emaciated creature hanging out the Hellbrute Sarcophagus.

“Tong is not quite dead yet, not to me, I do not let those who have wronged me release so easily” Stahl replied, glowering at the shifting form of the Daemon.

“Wrong? We did nothing wrong-”

“YOU LOST PARADORN, YOU LOST THE BASE AT MORDECAI! Our entire offensive ruined by you and your wretched kinds failures.”
“It all proceeds as the Great Changer wishes”
Stahl sighed and shook his head.
“Your broken essence can contemplate those words in the forge” Stahl looked to his own assembled Iron Warriors “The rest of these fools, they will be reforged , Decimate the living survivors”.

“And perhaps we can have some tools that are something approaching reliable” thought Stahl despairingly.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Hadron Expanse strategic positions

Legion Dominus defeats Tau at Dnatha

The discovery of Vanir in the Hadron Expanse gave Admiral Barham's expedition pause for breath. The loyalist forces now had a base of operations in the Expanse, and the arrival of Admiral Enkvist strengthened the imperial position further. The Crusade on Arawath and Hussaria showed no aggressive tendencies towards the loyalists, as it was clear that whatever Barham's exploration force was doing, it didn't run contrary to the aims and intentions of Inquisitor Vorushko. In the Hadron Expanse, the Inquisition War no longer really applied.

The Imperium recieved further aid in early 07.018M42 as the imperial battlegroups had a chance meeting with a force travelling in the other direction. A legio explorator fleet was encountered crossing the northern expanse having been seeking contact with the Imperium proper since the coming of the Interdictum. On board the massive adeptus mechanicus fleets was half a titan legion and the entirety of the Knight Household of House Corvus.

Admiral Barham and General Chuikov were delighted at the arrival, and a meeting was convened to discuss whether Legio Dominus and its attendant Knights would join the Hadron expedition. Happy to have made contact with the rest of the Imperium the Mechanicus agreed, and analysis of the situation soon determined that to bolster the imperial presence in the region, more bases would be needed. The tau appeared to be the weakest faction, hemmed in on all sides by the forces of chaos and vulnerable to attack.

Drawing up the new (and possibly first!) coordinated Hadron assault plan, the loyalists were splut into two battlegroups. Admiral Enkvist escorted Legion Dominus to Dnatha in the Echo Cluster, while the bulk of Barham's fleet moved massive imperial guard assets to the chaos held Palantir system.

The invasion of Dnatha went extremely well. Finding that the tau had begun to colonise the outer worlds, the imperial battlegroup bombarded the smaller bases from space, utterly destroying them. At the world of Dnatha itself the imperium found a much stronger force of tau and began a concerted invasion by land. The tau, commanded by one of Skyfall's devotees, were well equipped with Riptides and giant Storm Surge battlesuits. These the tau placed carefully around their primary base, where they felt their firepower would be more than enough to repel any imperial attack.

Initially the Tau faced the Knights of House Corvus, and the tau scored an early success bringing down a Knight Errant as the imperial army moved in range of the massive tau firepower. The tau were unaware however that Legio Dominus had sent a Warhound titan to aid the invasion, and the arrival of the scout war engine caused dismay in the tau ranks, who had been unaware of how fast such an imperial war engine could be. Very soon the Warhound Titan "Warspite" was amongst the tau forces, using its apocalyptic weaponry to simply obliterate its foes. A storm surge was simply vapourised in one shot by the titan's Quad Turbo-lasers.

Alarmed by the giant war engine, the tau called in their reinforcements, concentrating their entire firepower against the imperial war machine. This paid dividends, as the Warspite's void shields were quickly overloaded and the massed firepower blasted against the scout titan's armour. Within minutes this punishment resulted in an ominous glow from the Warhound's engine housing, then in the middle of the battle, Warspite's reactor detonated in a runaway reaction that was visible for hundreds of miles. The damage from the explosion was severe. Although the tau base itself survived, many tau were killed or wounded and several battlesuits took heavy damage.

The concentration of firepower on the warhound allowed House Corvus and its support forces, notably a baneblade supplied by the Imperial Guard, to close on the tau lines. Kroot infantry were massacred and although several Knights were toppled, the tau based was overrun. Lacking in numbers to reclaim the installation, the remaining stealth suits and tau infantry disappeared as best they could amongst the rivers and swamps of the nearby oasis, hoping to evacuate by piranha during the hours of darkness. Some managed this, as the Knights were unable to easily prevent nocturnal small unit movements in the wilderness. The tau base however had been taken, allowing the Imperium to land guardsmen and members of the administratum on all the planets of the Dnartha system. The tau attempt to dominate the Echo Cluster was now under threat from the Imperium as well as the traitor forces.

Abortive raid on Palantir by loyalists

The raid on Palantir by the imperial forces in earlu 07.018M42 was part of a two pronged assault on the Echo Cluster from their new base at Vanir. The intent was to soften up chaos forces in order to prepare the way for a reclamation invasion later in the month. However the raid did not result in victory for the Imperium. 

Unknown to the Novogorod Guard selected for the assault on Dale, the chaos forces had recently been reinforced by the Aether Striders, a renegade Knight household which had now taken up residence in the service of the Emerald Serpent. With Knights to contend with the Novgorod found themselves under-gunned and over stretched very swiftly, and the raid caused little to no actual damage to the capacity of chaos to defend their possessions.

Realising the imperium would need a lot more strength to defeat the chaos forces at Palantir the Novogord force was evacuated from the surface a mere 36 hours after its landfall, ignominiously retreating once more from the colony which they had once claimed to be saving.

Malkaor lands at Mimir

The alliance situation at Mimir was becoming critical as mid 10.018M42 approached. With chaos dominating the worlds around New Titania the federal forces were coming under increasing pressure to do something to defend their new colony. Until the arrival of the alliance chaos had mostly left the colony alone, and some in the New Titania government began to blame the Federacy for the sudden invasion by the forces of ruin.

The Alliance Expansion Council - or AEC, decided to act, sending Malkaor's forces to Mimir in order to halt the encroaching enemy forces. Malkaor had already faced difficulties against the Aether Striders, but this time the Tau would land on the outer worlds and prepare bases before moving onto the the middle worlds where the forces of chaos were already entrenched.

Warsmith Stahl was made aware of the Tau intentions, and while initially reluctant to aid his chaos allies in the Hadron Expanse, he realised that a resurgent Tau Empire in the Expanse would potentially hamper his ambitions in the Foramen Interdictum, not least because it might draw forces away from his theatre to what he regarded as an unecessary conflict in the galactic east. It might be better to finish the war quickly, and deal a rapid defeat to the alliance before the war expanded.

Stahl was only able to send limited forces to the Mimir system, and even this was a struggle. Using the ancient necron "device" or "soul hole" gained from the daemon prince "Moonface", Stahl was able to send some forces to the fourth planet of the Mimir system. Unfortunately the vaguries of the warp were not to favour the Warsmith, and rather than ambush the Tau, Stahl was forced into a pitched battle against the Xenos, who had already created a defensive perimeter. The battle became bloody quickly, and Stahl could sense that the quick victory he craved would not be achievable. The Tau managed to defend their base against the chaos forces, and the Iron Warriors commander was forced to abandon his intervention.

Cursing his allies once more for failing to focus on the Foramen theatre, failing to defend Mordecai and now prosecuting a (as he saw it) pointless war in the Echo Cluster, the Warsmith left, dooming many of his mortal followers to annihilation at the hands of the tau. New Titania was still beseiged by chaos, but now the alliance had operational bases near the system's jump point, and the chaos themselves were now also surrounded by hostile forces.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Paradorn reclaimed by Imperium

The situation on Paradorn had changed drastically following the destructive and decisive raid on Mordecai. With Tragean and Thok gone, many of the other forces which could only be described as "hangers on" in Stahl's prosecution of the war, similarly began drifting away. By late 06.018M42 the Warsmith only had his own forces and a detachment of Knights known as the Aether Striders he could rely on, as the Emerald Serpent and others had begun to pursue their aims further afield.

The Lycaon Guard meanwhile, morale sky high, began to take the fight to the enemy. Supported on Paradorn II by fleet support, the Aether Striders soon found themselves in difficulty. Despite having access to murderous firepower, this could now be matched by the Imperium. and the loyalists had the numbers. Over the course of a week the Knights of Valar were forced ever further back, until eventually Stahl agreed to rescue them by the use of his own necron device. By the end of 06M42 Stahl's forces were limited to controlling the inner planet of Paradorn, and D'oyly-Hughes' battlegroup was inbound to invade.

Stahl decided to personally intervene, as the stubborn warsmith was unwilling to give up on territory won so dearly. However, the Lycaon guard landed in huge numbers, and Stahl was not willing to risk his fleet in a potentially decisive engagement in space. Sending in his elite forces, the warsmith was able to hold the Lycaon at first, stalling their advance and inflicting severe casualties. However, the Iron Warriors could not seriously hope to beat the guard on attrition, and by 0207_018M42 Stahl ordered a withdrawal from Paradorn. The system was given up to the loyalist imperium, who had now fully come back from the brink of annihilation. Stahl, still master of chaos, raged at his incompetent allies and began to plan other ways to achieve his aims.

Echo Reach: Dark Eldar ransack Tau archeological dig

The Tau-Federal alliance found their expedition into the Hadron Expanse hard going by the beginning of 07.018M42. At Vanir the loyalists had seen off their attempt to add the human colony to their Union, while at Mimir the world of New Titania was coming under threat from chaos forces. Echo Reach, the bastien of the expansion, heavily defended by Tau and Federal forces both on the ground and in space, seemed almost impregnable. Or so the alliance thought.

Despite the eldar of Kel Sandros having deliberately aided the expansion of the Tau Empire, Farseer Tarquil remained troubled. Now in the skeins of fate he saw a new terrible possible future revolving around the results of a joint Federacy-Tau archaeological investigation on the main planet of Echo Reach itself. Under the surface the humans and Tau had discovered ancient necron ruins, including a device of immense power. Once part of the Bahotek Dynasty's communications network, the Eldar became concerned that were the Federacy to get their hands on the device, then eventually the humans would become the pre-eminent force in the Tau-Federal alliance. This would have disastrous consequences.

The Eldar could not intervene directly. Tarquil would be unable to persuade the Tau to abandon their investigations, nor would interference in internal Tau-Federal dealings be welcomed. However the Craftworld Eldar did not want to make enemies of the alliance, so reluctantly contacted their dark kin. Vlokarion was once again faintly amused by the Eldar Farseer's request, and demanded a most unpalatable price for his intervention. The Drukhari would carry out Tarquil's bidding, but at a cost which suited them.

The kabal of the Crimson Blade attacked the Tau without warning, utilising webway portals opened for them by the Kel Sandros, just one of the Archaon's demands. The Tau, stunned by the ferocity and speed of the assault, quickly fell back, leaving the archaeological site undefended. The Necron device was secured swiftly, and then the Dark Eldar extracted the rest of their bargain price. Thousands of Tau and Federal citizens were slaughtered, and thousands more were rounded up and enslaved by the Drukhari. Depraved wanton butchery was observed by the alliance who pleaded with the Aeldari to intervene on their behalf. The Kel Sandros Craftworld remained silent.

The destruction of the archeological site brought to an end hopes of accelerating space travel in the sector by utlising the alien technology, and dented Alliance confidence and morale. However Echo Reach remained a core base for Tau and Federal forces, as none of her defences were impacted by the precision raid. Tarquil cast his gaze into the future once more and was satisfied by the new possibilities his actions had crafted.

Vanir discovered by Loyalists

By the end of 06.018M42 the situation in the Hadron Expanse was complex. Chaos forces were attempting to dominate all the inhabited systems, while the Imperium - both loyalist and crusade - looked for human worlds cut off for Millenia. the crusade had fortuitously encountered two heavily industrialised worlds and added them to their cause, but Barham's expedition, even with the arrival of Admiral Enkvist, had struggled to find any systems of value.

The Tau and Federacy had secured Echo Reach, while the alliance managed to convince New Titania in the Mimir system to be part of the expanding Empire, thought nominally part of the Federacy. This however was now coming under attack from chaos factions and remained largely beseiged.

on 2206.018M42 Barham's scouting forces relayed an astropathic message that the system of Vanir harboured a significant human population willing to rejoin the Imperium, and the loyalist fleets slipped their moorings at Vespae in order to secure the loyalty of their new system. Bouyed up by news from Spinward, the loyalists set off with morale at a new high.

The eldar however were less keen on the Imperium from reclaiming their worlds in the Expanse. For Tarquil of the Kel Sandros Craftworld the unification of the Imperium, and much worse its expansion, would only feed the chaos gods for millenia. In order to pursue his destruction of the chaos gods, Tarquil "arranged" for the news of the imperial movements to reach the alliance. However, the eldar underplayed the loyalist strength, ensuring the correct alliance response - an expedition to intercept and claim the Vanir system for themselves.

Upon arriving at the Vanir system the Tau set down and created a beachhead, unaware that they had actually arrived first. While they were expanding this perimeter and surveying the planet for resources, the Imperium arrived, driving off the smaller Tau fleet and leaving the Tau hunter cadre on the ground having to fend for itself. Admiral Enkvist landed one Novgorod regiment to hunt down the tau, while meeting with the planetary leaders to sign the official treaty of reunion.

Once they had encountered the Tau, the Novgorod guard advanced straight up the centre of the battlefield on mass with hundreds of infantry. There was a brief firefight between them and a Tau Huntre Cadre which advanced to meet them before the heavily outnumbered and outgunned Tau were overwhelmed. Rather than continue to fight on decidedly unequal terms. the Tau then changed to hit and run tactics, picking off the Novgarod's supporting vehicles and drawing the bulk of the attackers off in different directions. This was successful in blunting and eventually stalling the main attack by the Imperium but the Tau suffered heavy casualties and were unable to stop the Guard from taking their key objectives or mount a meaningful counter attack against them. As more imperial forces landed on the world, the remaining Tau fled into the hinterlands of the planet, and awaited an uncertain fate. Either they would be rescued by stealth missions to retrieve them or die in the wilderness.

The addition of the prosperous colony to the loyalist Imperium was a significant triumph for the Imperium and especially for Lord Hathek. The loss of Paradorn or Barham's expedition would have almost certainly have seen his total fall from grace, but the Imperium had endured and overcome. The discovery of Vanir was also a blow to Vorushko, who now had temporarily at least lost the focussed aid of the Grey Knights, as both Crusade and Loyalists pulled together to prevent catastrophe in the Foramen Interdictum. Seeing this success, many on the loyalist and crusade side wondered if the time for squabbling between Inquisitors would now be at an end.

Chaos forces advance towards New Titania

Despite the reversals the chaos forces were experiencing in the Foramen Interdictum, the alliance remained firmly on the backfoot in the Mimir system in the Hadron Expanse. After initial success with the discovery of New Titania by the Federacy, the Tau reinforcements sent to the system had been experiencing significant reversals at the hands of the traitor legions.

Having lost control of the outer worlds the Tau under Malkaor continued to withdraw to the inner worlds and the relative safety of Sunstrike's fleet, based at New Titania. However in early 07.018M42 the Tau made a stand at Mimir III, the orbiting barren rock closest to the civilised world itself. Previously a mining colony, the Tau moved through the ruins carefully, expecting the forces of chaos to follow up their retreat.

The alliance didn't have long to wait, as the renegade Knights of Valar landed and took the fight to the tau. Several traitorous engines were spotted, and with their Federal allies the Tau were able to know the names of these once loyal defenders of humanity. Foebreaker, a Gallant class Knight, was soon knocked out of action by concentrated xenos weaponry, but Titan's Hand - the crusader - while taking fire, managed to charge and dismember the Tau heavy support. Valar Triumphant meanwhile was able to close the distance, its shields holding against a storm of fire from the tau lines. Once in close combat, the battle was never in doubt. The Y-Tide holding the main defensive intersection was destroyed, and with it the Tau defence crumbled. Realising their small force could not endure against the war engines of the traitor House, the Tau removed their remaining forces from the world. Now the alliance were effectively besieged as chaos forces dominated the outer worlds of the Mimir system.