Sunday, September 30, 2018

Skirmishes in the Hadron Expanse

In 09_018M42 the lure of the Foramen Ignotum and the strategic benefits its discovery and control would bring, led to the dispatch of small teams from various powers into the Hadron expanse. A large expedition would be expensive, inflexible and might illicit a response from either the necrons or another enemy. In addition, no one knew where the Ignotum was, or whether it even existed, so the hunt for the last Foramen was undertaken by forces that could slip under the radar.


Archmagos Cybixx send his own team, informing Inquisitor Vorushko that he would seek to prevent the Foramen Ignotum from being discovered or opened, and by 1009_018M42 the Archmagos had several teams actively hunting for information, based around a single Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator vessel. They soon discovered they were not the only force in the Expanse however, as the Emerald Serpent engaged one of Cybixx's teams, forcing them away from a world in one uncharted system. Indeed the Crusade Mechanicum found the exploration of the expanse tough going in 09.018M42, as an elite force of Novgorod Guard sent by Hathek on the same mission ended up following Cybixx's teams and attacking them wherever they could, proving a thorn in the side of the mechanicum. The Crusade force did however manage to find one lead in the presumed dead system of HE-199478/C, but they also discovered a small tomb full of necrons from the Bahotek dynasty, and were only just able to make good their escape, killing the necrons which had awoken and quarantining the world.


The other force intent on finding the Ignotum passageway was the Emerald Serpent. The tzeentch dedicated faction sent its own teams of Thousand sons warbands, often aided by the Wraiths of Prospero, who unfortunately encountered loyalist Adeptus Mechanicus forces, wiping one of the Emerald Serpent's investigations. Other warbands were more successful however, as the traitor marines overcame a squad of Hammers of the Emperor who had tracked them to the fourth world in system HD-X334-1.


Progress of the Imperial and chaos factions was however impacted from an unlikely source. A space hulk, already encountered in the expanse, had mysteriously disappeared, only to reappear out of the warp near the Rifts of Hecate. Wondering whether the movement of the hulk had a relationship with the Foramen Ignotum, the Emerald Serpent and their death guard allies boarded the Hulk. The chaos forces had almost no opportunity to explore however, as the genestealers attacked both teams with unprecedented fury, driving them both off and inflicting heavy casualties. The chaos forces had however established that the Hulk did indeed hold a clue to the mystery of the Ignotum, but as yet, no one had been able to retrieve it.

Tarlius: Darnath's Folly invaded

The end of 09.018M42 heralded a resurgence in Crusade activity in the Foramen Interdictum. Cybixx, now de facto leader of the Crusade outside the Hadron Expanse, had already initiated raids on chaos (for his own benefit), and the Grey Knights and Dark Angels had begun the pacification of the Destino system, which had already resulted in the clash with fellow astartes.


Now the Dark Angels and Grey Knights, satisfied that the foothold had been secured in the Destino system, moved into the Foramen Majoris and lent their aid to the loyalist cause against the forces of chaos. Here in the Majoris, the Crusade had little in the way of differences to fight over, except over Hathek's dubious policy of allowing daemon exposed Guard units to remain intact. At Tarlius, although on the same side as the loyalists, even the Imperial Fists gave the newly arriving Crusade strike cruisers a cold welcome following the clash at Destino.


Unsupported but confident, the Grey Knights and Dark Angels conducted a two pronged assault on the defenders of Tarlius III (Darnath's Folly), with the Grey Knights assaulting the Iron Warriors forces, and the Dark Angels launching a bloody attack against the Wraiths of Prospero - a thousand sons force allied to the Emerald Serpent. On Tarlius II, the main Iron Warrior strength was being held in a defensive posture, so the forces encountered on the outer planet were not of the same caliber. Nevertheless the Grey Knights found the going tough against the forces of chaos, but after a protracted battle all their objectives were secure.


The Dark Angels similarly took all their key objectives in the first 24 hours, a move which meant coordinated defence of the bases on the world would now be impossible for the Iron Warriors and their allies. The fighting continued for a few more days, before the Iron Warriors withdrew to defensive positions around the main settlement. The Crusade had established a secure bridgehead for the Imperium on Tarlius III, aiding its reconquest.

Boltarean secured for chaos

While the Emerald Serpent was making plans to invade the loyalist system of Dnatha, they still needed to finish off the Imperium and secure the system of Boltarean. To do this the forces of chaos feigned weakness, leading to the Imperial forces planning an invasion of Boltar III. The imperial commanders had no idea that the Aether Striders Knight household and a refitted warhound titan "Terminus Rex" were lying in wait, shielded from the Imperial scanners by the arcane blessings of Tzeentch.


The Imperium had landed their own force of Knights and Legio Dominus, to conquer the flat and mostly featureless terrain - ideal for the Imperial war engines. Within hours of their arrival the Aether striders challenged House Corvus, and although the Imperium were able to start shooting first, their long range fire was poor, and the majority of the chaos devoted engines were able to close the range, unleashing a devastating volley of fire.


Worse was to come for the Imperial force as the Warhound Terminus Rex then appeared, reducing the Imperial Castellan Knight to slag in seconds, and severely damaging another knight. In severe trouble, House Corvus called for reinforcements, and the loyalist Warhound Titan Warspite appeared on the scene. Before Terminus Rex could react, Warspites two twin turbo lasers neatly decapitated the titan, bringing its reign of terror to an end. However, Warspite herself was not to survive the encounter, as the Aethor Strider's outflanking combat Knight arrived crippling the imperial war engine. Unable to effectively fight back the warhound was swiftly felled, Warspite's legs severed at the knee. With no titan support on either side the Emerald Serpent now had the upper hand, and one by one the remaining knights of House Corvus were surrounded and destroyed. The Aether striders and the Emerald Serpent had suffered severe losses, but the imperium had been removed from Boltar III.


The invasion of Boltar III had been a failure, and with their forces drastically reduced and reports that the forces of chaos had reached Dnatha, the remaining Imperial forces were evacuated from Porega, abandoning the Boltarean system entirely to chaos. The Emerald Serpent had finally achieved their secure anchorage in the Hadron Expanse.

Invasion of Dnatha

While the Imperium battled the Emerald Serpent in the Boltarean system, believing that the Emerald Serpent had limited access to Titans (perhaps only one), the Chaos forces led by Andreos were actually already making plans to outflank the Imperial forces at Palantir and invade the much softer (they believed) system of Dnatha, recently conquered by the Imperium from Alliance control.

In late 018M42 the alliance, the forces of chaos (led by the Emerald Serpent) and the Imperium, were all making their own plans to dominate the worlds of the Echo Cluster, thus dominating the Hadron Expanse and the link between the (predicted) Foramen Ignotum and the rest of the sector. While the Imperium were unaware that the Emerald Serpent were launching an invasion of Dnatha with the aid of several traitor Legio engines, the host of the Knight Household of the Aether Striders as well as a warfleet from Lord Tragean, the followers of the dark gods were similarly unaware that Dnatha had been significantly fortified and reinforced following the arrival of the Tau.

The commander of the Hadron Campaign, as the unified Imperium had dubbed it, was indisputably Lord General Chuikov, assisted by Admiral's Enkvist and Barham, with the support of several astartes companies and the aid of Inquisitor Vorushko and Lord Huron. Common cause in the Hadron Expanse once again saw the Imperium acting as a unified and brutal force, and the Aether Striders with their Titan support were more than a little shocked to find their initial landing on the outer world of Dnatha IV immediately and brutally opposed by the Hammers of the Emperor.

The superhuman warriors of the adeptus astartes lived up to their reputation. Without war engine or artillery support, the power armoured marines took the fight to the traitors none-the-less, engaging Knights and the warhound titan sent to support the initial landing. In a brutal assault, the Aether Striders and their Titan were obliterated, the Emerald Serpent being rebuffed having expected a simple or unopposed landing to create a base of operations. The remaining chaos forces were hastily withdrawn to the safety of Tragean's fleet, while Admiral Enkvist moved in to block Tragean from threatening the ongoing fortification of the inner worlds. What Malkaor now made of the situation from his isolated tau-alliance bridgehead on Dnatha III could not be imagined.

Cybixx Raids Chaos

Archmagos Cybixx had been bottled up in the system of Vandrax for some time, with little contact with Inquisitor Vorushko. Outwardly the Inquisitor Lord was confident the Archmagos would keep his word and see to the destruction of the Foramen Minoris, but secretly she wondered how much of a trustworthy ally Cybixx really was.

The Archmagos Dominus however was keeping busy. By 09.018M42 his plans were far advanced. For the defence of Vandrax and the furthering of the Crusade goals, he had begun a massive project; to build a battlestation which would be nigh on impregnable. Strong enough to deal a crippling blow to a battlefleet on its own, Cybixx's small mechanicum fleet would now be enhanced by this monstrous war engine. His enginseers protested that the endeavour would take a century to build, but Cybixx had other ideas.

Keeping the real truth to himself, the leader of the Crusade Mechanicum led his forces to Mordecai, falling upon the The unprepared defenders and beating off a concentrated counter attack from the Wraiths of Prospero - a force of Thousands Sons allied to the Emerald Serpent and Admiral Thok.

The defeat of the Wraiths on the sun scorched surface of the Mordecai Forge World bough Cybixx enough time to complete the objective of his raid, to steal Dark Mechanicus technology and arcanery in order to artificially speed up the construction of his battle station. Vorushko would never have to know...

Hive fleet clash in the Hadron Expanse

Inquisitor Huron of the Ordo Xenos had been investigating the necrons of the Hadron Expanse, but in 09.018M42 he became aware of an even greater threat. The necrons off the Bahotek Dynasty appeared to remain in their slumber, at least for now, although his investigations had been seriously curtailed by the arrogance and stubbornness of the Eldar at Vespae. 

However, the tyranid xenos, previously thought not to have touched the expanse, was noted on a distant world by probes set up by his Magos Biologis. The tyranids, far from simply consuming a lush world, were in fact warring with one another. It became clear as the information flowed in through the arcane Mechanicum instrumentation, that here were two warring strains of the xenos, and one at least - the victor which went on to consume the otherwise unremarkable world in an unimportant system - appeared to show biomarkers for lineage to the Hive fleet known as Nemesis...

Grey Knights pursue White Hands

Having made contact with the mysterious White Hands and having driven them off once, the Grey Knights pursued them into the depths of the Hadron Expanse, almost as far as the Rifts of Hecate. Although the information was sparce, eventually the Ordo Malleus tracked their foe down to an uncharted system where at least one White Hands vessel appeared to be resupplying. Wishing to investigate close at hand, the Grey Knights engaged the rebel astartes on the ground rather than challenging them in space. Besides, the Grey Knights only had one vessel. How many the White Hands numbered the Imperium did not yet know.

Once again the White Hands denied the divinity of the Emperor, accusing the Grey Knights of religious fanaticism. Although the imperial space marines took this as a compliment, the heresy of the White Hands could not be denied, and once again the small force of rebels was driven off by the zealous Grey Knight assault. As the White Hands retreated further into the Rifts of Hecate, a small ship followed, bearing with it a representative from the Federacy and an emissary from the Tau empire.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Theatres of war

As the Aleph campaign raged into late 018M42 two theatres of war became critical focus points for all factions in the region. 

The Foramen Interdictum

The Foramen Interdictum constitutes two stable warp pathways across the Cicatrix Maledictum, between the Vastrid subsector and the Persues Deeps. The two channels (Majoris and Minoris) are held open by arcane technologies on Corticant, but control of key systems - Tarlius and Paradorn for the Majoris, Destino and Vandrax for the Minoris, means control of the passageways. Should any faction gain outright control of either, the strategic benefits are great.

In 018M42 Paradorn had been successfully secured by the "loyalist" imperium, but Tarlius remained a warzone, such is its proximity to Warsmith Stahl's domain and heavily fortified base at Minos. Stahl and the forces of chaos desperately want control of the Foramen Majoris as it would link their empire and divide the Imperium. They almost succeeded in mid 018M42, but last minute intervention by the Imperial Fists and Grey Knights averted disaster.

Inquisitor Vorushko and the "Crusade" control Vandrax, but Vorushko's plan - so vehemently opposed by Lord Hathek, is to take Vandrax and Destino (currently dominated by the loyalists) and destroy the Foramen Minoris. This Hathek sees as heresy, while Vorushko considers it heresy not to, since the ancilliary pathway is too much of a risk to keep open.

Meanwhile the eldar have managed to lay claim to a world in each system, watching and threatening to intervene should any single power claim dominance over the Foramen. They would prefer no one had control. The focus in this theatre is all out war and the securing of the four key systems for the main powers, although strategic battles around the key worlds continue to affect the campaign.

The Hadron Expanse (and the Foramen Ignotum)

The Hadron Expanse is a relatively recent discovery following the effect of the Cicatrix calming long standing warp storms separating the area from the rest of the galaxy. Rediscovery of long lost human worlds tempts the Imperium, and in the expanse the loyalists and crusade forces are for now at least working together in common cause. The tau also seek to expand here, having declared the "Hadron Expansion Sphere" in alliance with the Federacy, and with more than a little help from the Kel Sandros Eldar.

Necrons and other dangers lurk in the area however, and the forces of chaos - especially the Emerald Serpent - are seeking their own base of power. Lastly, the lure of the predicted fourth channel through the Cicatrix - the Foramen Ignotum, spurs on all powers in the region into finding and controlling this accessway.

The focus in the Hadron Expanse is control, domination and construction of settlements and defences in newly secured worlds. In addition small groups* are being sent out for clues as to the whereabouts of the Foramen Ignotum

*Kill Team battles will gain clues.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Malkaor establishes landing at Dnatha

With two failed attempts to invade the alliance system of Echo Reach, the alliance council decided to attempt to take the pressure off their main system in the Hadron Expanse by reinitiating their expansion goals. Having rebuffed the imperium twice, the alliance now felt strong enough to bring the war to the neighbouring system of Dnatha, under Imperial control.


With Admiral Barham's fleet engaged at Paradorn and Boltarean fighting chaos, and with Enkvist still recovering from his fleet's encounter with Sunstrike, Tau commander Malkaor did not have to worry about fleet engagement, and the invasion force arrived in the Dnatha system close to the second outer planet. The outermost planet was deemed of little value, and Malkaor wanted to disrupt imperial plans by taking out the Imperial base and laser defences on the second outer planet.


Landing in force the tau quickly overwhelmed the Imperial garrison, but the Ultramarines swiftly responded having deployed a company to the Hadron Expanse during the previous month. The astartes however were driven off by the combined fire of the xenos force, Malkaor showing once again his strength as a defensive commander. Having exhausted the Imperium's initial response, the tau now waited to see what the next move by the Imperium would be.

Adeptus Custodes secure Porega

The request for aid by the Imperial garrison at Porega in the Boltarean system was met surprisingly swiftly. Less than a week after the fall of Boltar IV the Imperium were reinforced by a small contingent of Adeptus Custodes, who had been returning from a crusade in the Imperium Nihilis. The emperor's finest launched into immediate assault, not even waiting to introduce themselves until after the Thousand Sons had been dealt with. Shocked by the sudden appearance of the Emperor's bodyguards the Thousand Sons put up a brave fight, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the fury of the Custodes. By 2809.018M42 the imperium had completed the scan of Porega and declared the world free of chaos. For now at least the Imperium clung on to their one remaining world in the Boltarean system.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Boltarean: New Chaos forces push back Imperium

The system of Boltarean had been largely in control of the Emerald serpent for many months, but the Crusade had established a presence on the outer worlds of Boltar IV and Porega. With the detente in the Hadron Expanse between Vorushko's crusade and the rest of the Imperial forces, a unified Imperium once again posed a significant threat to the goals of the traitors in the region. The Emerald Serpent had been content to allow the Crusade presence on the outer worlds, but in mid 09.018M42 the arrival of fresh troops and the construction of bases on the desert world of Boltar IV meant that Chaos could no longer ignore the emergent threat.

The Emerald Serpent, unable to deploy significant marine or daemon forces at Boltarean, were forced to rely on their Guard forces, notably the Darrantine Guard, but had also been reinforced by the Warhound Titan "Terminus Rex". These forces were landed on Boltar IV avoiding the Imperial fleet, but were then forced to trek mostly over land towards the Imperial bases.

The Imperium had set up a significant force including half a regiment of the Last of Sycorax and a compliment of House Corvus Knights, but the first scouting engagement on the vast plains of the world was fought mainly between scattered infantry units supported by Leman Russ battle tanks. The armour took a hammering, but the Imperium gained the advantage early on, causing heavy casualties, although the Darrantine heavy weapons teams managed to somehow weather the incoming storm of fire by sheltering among the sparse rocky outcrops of the landscape.

The Darrantine commander bravely tried to rally his troops, charging headlong at the Imperial lines, but was cut down in spectacular fashion by a loyalist lascannon. The Imperium had cause to cheer as the chaos assault seemed to have been dealt with, but a small force of chaos troops managed to outflank the imperial positions, assassinating the imperial commander with lascannon fire and throwing the Imperial line into disarray.

Having lost the initial engagements the Imperium were still confident in turning back the chaos advance. One badly mauled regiment of traitor guard would not be a problem for the Knights of House Corvus, but as the imperial war machines advanced through the desert, deeply disturbing energy signatures gave the Questor Mechanicus cause for alarm. Looming out of a Sandstorm a mighty Warhound titan suddenly appeared before them. Until now no Legio Titanicus force had ever been associated with the Emerald Serpent, so the appearance of the Warhound - identified as "Terminus Rex" suddenly changed the situation on Boltar IV dramatically.

Nevertheless the Knights advanced towards their hated foe, although one Errant class vehicle was quickly vapourised by the awesome firepower of a dual turbo-laser. The Castellan landed shots on target as the remaining Errant closed, but in general the Imperial fire was disappointing, with many shots blocked by the Titan's void shields. The Knight Errant managed to get into close combat with the scout titan, its reaper chainsword ripping apart conduits and critical mechanical components of the Warhound's legs, crippling it, but was destroyed in the process. By now the badly damaged Warhound was close to total collapse, but somehow the chaos engine remained standing. A duel with the Castellan then developed, as the loyalist Knight - also badly damaged - limped towards its foe. With just seconds to spare before the imperial engine could deliver the final blow to its monstrous enemy, the Warhound managed to deliver a final accurate shot, decapitating the Castellan which crumpled ignominiously just short of Terminus Rex. 

The loss of the knights and the failure to stop the Chaos Warhound left the remaining imperial forces on Boltar IV horribly vulnerable. Assuming the titan could be repaired in the field to an acceptable level of operation, the consequences of it making it to the Imperial base did not bear thinking about, and the commander of the garrison immediately requested withdrawal. This was granted, and the Imperial forces evacuated to Porega in the outer reaches. Upon landing on the ice world however, it became clear that the Thousand Sons had made a secret landing. The Imperial Guard called for aid and waited for the chaos attack.

Chaos gains marked with dashed lines

Destino: Crusade launch new offensive against loyalists

Despite the thawing of relations in the Hadron Expanse between Crusade and loyalist forces, Inquisitor Vorushko remained implacably opposed to Lord Hathek's insistance that the Foramen Minoris - the channel through the Cicatrix between Destino and Paradorn, remain open and controlled by the Imperium. Control of the Foramen Majoris - from the Vastrid Subsector to the Perseus Deeps - was desired by both, but Vorushko regarded the secondary pathway a dangerous mistake, one which would inevitably see invasion by the Federacy, Tau or chaos forces, or even a resurgence in the Necron dynasty. Vorushko desired its destruction, in order to let the Cicatrix form a secure flank between the Perseus Deeps and the rimward subsectors. Vorushko also knew of the Enceladus subsector and had gleaned the long term plans of Warsmith Stahl. With the Imperium moving forward against chaos at Tarlius, the Inquisitor Lord felt that now was the time to exert control over the Foramen Minoris, prior to its final destruction.


Destino had been in the control of the loyalist faction for some time. With Hathek apparently away overseeing business elsewhere, Vorushko hoped that a show of force by astartes forces would quickly deliver the system to her control. The Grey Knights and Dark Angels were requested to perform this action, following Vorushko's agreement to divulge her ultimate plans to the space marine chapters. This she did, and both chapters agreed it was a prudent course of action. Upon arrival however, things started to go horribly wrong. First, the astartes were told the system was under imperial control already, and when the commander gave the Grey Knights a manifest of the forces defending the system (as ordered), the Ordo Malleus astartes, noting the presence of Novgorod Guard (cavalry regiments from Omsk), demanded their surrender. The imperial commander refused this command from the astartes, having been pre-warned by Hathek that the Grey Knights were "murderous thugs barely loyal to the Imperial Creed".


The Grey Knights, not asking twice, simply fell upon the Novgorod Guard. The Omsk Cavalry were equipped with a large number of aerial vehicles, and a dramatic battle took place in the skies over Destino V, before the Grey Knights landed and the ground war began. Despite repeated cavalry charges by the Novgorod regiments, the Grey Knights were simply superior, and by 2009_018M42 the Novgorod resistance on the world had been eliminated. The planet's garrison commander was replaced, and the planet claimed for the Crusade.


The Dark Angels meanwhile made their presence felt at Destino V, but the action against the Novgorod had once again incensed the Hammers of the Emperor chapter, who finally declared Vorushko a traitor to the Imperium. Whether or not Hathek planned this remains unknown, but now an astartes chapter had publicly accused an Inquisitor Lord of Heresy. Immediately the Dark Angels reacted by denouncing the Hammers and various insults were exchanged before the inevitable occurred. A violent battle on Destino V between two astartes chapters. This was certainly not Vorushko's plan and the fighting was bitter and intense. The two sides exchanged fire from carefulyl constructed fire bases, as the Hammers advanced over the dead ground between the two forces. Eventually the battle was decided by a successful assault by the Dark Angel's Deathwing, despite the loss of the Dark Angels' commander.


The Hammers of the Emperor were eventually forced to cede control of Destino V to the Dark Angels, and the Crusade, but the Crusade war had now resulted in astartes fighting between each other, a shocking development which brought the sector closer to all out "civil" war.

Grey Knights encounter mysterious astartes

By late 09.018M42 the Grey Knights had several task forces active in the Aleph Sector. One was performing operations in the Foramen near to the Cicatrix Maledictum, as well as fighting against chaos in the Perseus Deeps. Another, in the Hadron Expanse, encountered strange signals from a region not yet explored near the rifts of Hecate. Braving the difficult war storms near the rifts, the small Ordo Malleus force made contact on an uncharted planet with a small band of astartes calling themselves the "White Hands". Finding no record of the chapter to hand the Grey Knights demanded the unknown marines swear their loyalty and devotion to the God Emperor of Mankind. Unfortunately the White hands responded with an unsatisfactory response, declaring the Emperor was merely a powerful man, and that worship of gods was against the Imperial Truth.


This of course did not go down well with the Grey Knights, who engaged the White Hands, driving them off, but unable to eliminate them completely they then sent a full report via astropath to Inquisitor Vorushko. This astropathic message was intercepted by the Federacy, who realising they had potential allies in the White Hands, began preparing a discovery mission to intercept and win over the renegade space marines, and to assess just how many there were.

Vespae : Eldar prevent further exploration of Necron ruins

In late 09.018M42 the Imperium tried once again to establish a base on Vespae, as the Adeptus Mechanicus were now convinced there existed a wealth of Xenos knowledge just under the surface of several planets in the system. At every turn however the Imperium had been challenged by the Aeldari of every faction, and it was clear the Xenos did not wish the humans to disturb the ancient ruins.


The next expedition landed on the dark and foreboding outer planet simply classified as "Vespae IV". A core team of explorators were accompanied to the surface by Knights of House Corvus, in an attempt to ward of any eldar intervention. Within hours however fast jetbikes of the Rillietan were spotted, and the landing party went to high alert.


While the explorators were evacuated for their own safety, fast bikes and agile harlequin vehicles sped into the canyon where the Mechanicum had been conducting their investigations. The might of the Knights caused significant casualties among the Xenos, but they closed relentlessly. One by one the giant war machines were cut down - either by the advanced weaponry of the aliens or the elegant but lethal close combat displays by the harlequin troupe themselves.


Eventually every knight was taken down, and the last of the explorators looked back on the scene of carnage as the dim sun set over the dark canyon walls, only to be brilliantly illuminated by the final death throes of the Castellan Knight, whose detonation slew many of the Aeldari warriors. Never-the-less, as the shuttle pulled away to the waiting Adeptus Mechanicus vessels in high orbit, yet another attempt to investigate and harvest the riches of the Vespae system had ended in failure. How much longer would the Imperium persist in their attempts to claim it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Aleph Sector: Current Situation


+++Date: 1809_018M42+++
+++Access point: Farport Station Astropathic Relay+++
+++Security Clearance: Gamma Epsilon+++
+++Ref: ALEPH-SECTOR-BRIEFING 09_018M42+++
+++Originator: Inquisitor Vayron+++
+++Recipient: Imperial Commander #####
+++Thought for the day: A coward always seeks compromise.+++

My Lord,

Since you are to begin undertakings in the Aleph Sector, this is your primary briefing. Further information can be accessed on the attached encrypted files. May the Emperor protect us all.

The Aleph Sector

Sitting on the far eastern fringe between Ultramar and the Tau Empire the region has been rent by the Cicatrix Maledictum.The Imperial Governor of the sector, Titus Luthor, has decreed the time of the "Noctis Aeterna" to be void, and the date is 09.018M42. The sector itself is divided into several subsectors and regions. The most important are detailed below:

Cross-reference-data-file: Aleph Subsectors

The main theatres of war are currently in the Hadron expanse, a region of re-discovery and wealth since the warp storms separating that region were blown away by the coming of the Great Rift. Here, the Imperium is battling with the forces of chaos, the Tau-Federacy Alliance, and a far more ancient foe.

Main Theatres:

File: The Hadron Expanse
File: The Foramen Interdictum
File: The Perseus Deeps

Main Factions
The Imperium of Mankind: In the Aleph Sector the Imperium has been losing ground for sometime. The Aleph and Vastrid subsectors are all but lost, and this has led to an ongoing schism within the Imperium, between the monodominant Inquisitor Vorushko and her opponent, amalthian Inquisitor Hathek. These powerful inquisitor lords have had major differences recently, leading to the Librian War, and the ongoing situation in the Foramen Interdictum, where Vorushko opposes Hathek's quest to control the access points across the Cicatrix himself. In the Hadron Expanse and elsewhere however, the two "sides" usually work together in common interest.

The Forces of Chaos: The Iron Warriors, Warsmith Stahl, The Emerald Serpent, The Emperor's Children, Admiral Thok, Lord Tragaen, The Death Guard. Just some of the names associated with the ever present threat of chaos in the region. Chaos recently came close to securing the Foramen Interdictum themselves, cutting off access to the Imperial worlds in the Perseus Deeps, however for now this has been averted.

The Alliance: Although not all factions of Eldar appear wholeheartedly behind the Kel Sandros Craftworld's plans to defeat chaos through the Tau, their alliance with the Xenos, and their alliance with the sepratist Federacy have crafted a faction of great power. It is against the alliance that the Imperium are fighting in the Hadron Expanse, as this area lies close to the Tau heartlands. Thanks to the machinations of the eldar, the Federacy also have secure passage through the Cicatrix.

The Xenos Threat: Many other Xenos pose a significant risk to the sector. In the Perseus Deeps the Harakhty and Charnovokh necron dynasties appear to be dormant, at least for now, while in the Hadron Expanse the Bahotek dynasty is showing signs of re-awakening. The orks may have found a new leader in "Russtoof", while the hive fleet "Nemesis" is so far "missing" - last seen in deep space. Vigilance must be kept against these threats as none can ever be said to have been vanquished entirely.

The enemy within: Cults and uprisings are an ever present danger to the Imperium. Not least on the hive world of Farport, where the capital of Dirtside seems to be falling prey to greater lawlessness and gang warfare with every passing day.

File: Dirtside-Gangs

This is merely an introduction. Please see the attached data files for a more thorough examination of the Aleph Sector.

+++End Message+++

Want to get involved? SImply turn up, play and let the GM know how you got on - simple as that! Want to do more? Find out how the campaign "works" here: Campaign Primer

Monday, September 17, 2018

Palantir fully retaken by Imperium

Despite the (re) invasion of Palantir being nominally a loyalist venture, the Grey Knights had no qualms about aiding their imperial comrades in order to deal chaos a fateful blow. Already aware of the malign influence of chaos in the Hadron Expanse, the astartes chapter had told Vorushko in no uncertain terms that where the "loyalists" had goals in line with their own, they would assist them. Vorushko understood this position and in any case never considered the Grey Knights to be truly part of her "Crusade" - or her argument with Hathek. Only the Inquisitor lord's penchant for allowing guardsmen who had fought daemons to survive had drawn the Knights to her side.

The Grey Knights made no explanation for their arrival at Palantir, but Barham's battlegroup were not particularly aware of the Crusade war going on in the Foramen in any case, and cheered the arrival of the Emperor's finest. Dropping simultaneously on Bree and Dale, the astartes found pockets of resistance, mainly from the Emperor's Children. It seemed as though the Emerald Serpent had not been keeping the system particularly defended, and the Orde Malleus marines made short work of the few traitor marines and daemonic entities they found. Having secured the remaining planets, the Grey Knights ordered all settlements which had come into contact with daemonic beings to be cleansed. The liberation of the inner planets soon became almost as hard to bear as the chaos invasion itself.

Echo Reach invasion thwarted by Alliance

In mid 09_018M42, after the abortive initial invasion by Barham's battlegroup, Admiral Enkvist arrived with his fleet, escorting a Hammers of the Emperor Strike Cruiser and several transports carrying fresh Novgorod forces. In overall command on the ground, general Chuikov would allow the astartes to take the initial action, this time against the Federacy held outer world of Vostar. First however, the space lanes needed to be cleared.

In order to prevent Admiral Sunstrike from interfering with the invasion of Vostar, Enkvist deliberately took his warships, complete with a new Dominion class battlecruiser and two nova cannon equipped Dominators into a thretening position near to the tau base at Naitonaito. Swiftstar could not allow the Imperial Fleet to come within bombardment range, so for the first time in the Hadron Expanse Sphere campaign the tau gave battle. Approaching cautiously, Swiftstar was careful to keep his fleet togehter to maximise firepower, but this allowed the dominator class Tsushima an array of targets, and the battle opened with the protector class Sun Sword being ripped apart by explosions as a devastating volley overwhelmed her shields.

The battle then became a stalemate, as neither side were able to land telling blows. All Enkvist's vessels had upgraded turret protection, neutralising the threat from Swiftstar's mantas and torpedoes, while the Imperial Vipers were unable to get their own torpedoes through the accurate and numerous tau close action weaponry. Gradually the fleets got closer and closer, before the distance became uncomfortable for even the Imperium. One imperial cruiser attempted to board Dawn Sight, but accurate weapon fire and repeated manta wave attacks had crippled her, and the action was repulsed by the Xenos.

As the two fleets passed by each other the tau were able to overwhelm the imperial defence turrets by timing their torpedo and manta attacks, finally wrecking Tanenberg and Vorskla. In return however Dawn Sight, which had spent much of the battle taking evasive manouevres dodging incessant lance fire from the battleship Kulikovo, finally succumbed, exploding dramatically after internal safety mechanisms failed, leading to her plasma core overheating. At the same time the battle between the escort forces was no less dramatic, with all but one of Enkvist's Vipers taken out of action, the last one lucky to escape concentrated fire from the tau fleet. The tau too lost their escorts, and as the fleets drew away a final volley from Kulikovo heavily damaged the tau battleship Vigilence. The tau also lost the emissary class Lightfoot, although her battered hull was later recovered and towed back to Echo Reach.

As both fleets drew away from one another both sides rescued what they could, and Enkvist briefly considered pressing the attack. Two of his cruisers had been put out of action and he had lost all his escorts, so instead the Novgorod admiral returned to the system jump point. Although an inconclusive action, the imperial admiral knew he had at least done enough to ensure the next part of the operation would not suffer interference from the tau fleet.

Imperial Losses
Vorskla hulked
Tanenberg hulked
Several Viper escorts destroyed

Tau Losses
Vigilence crippled
Sun Sword destroyed
Dawn Sight destroyed
Lightfoot destroyed
Several escorts destroyed

With the space above Vostar cleared, the Imperial transports moved into orbit. First however the Hammers of the Emperor launched their planned attack on the main federal bases on the planet. These needed taking out, otherwise the ensuing guard landing would turn into a massacre. Landing a fair distance away from the federal defences, the Hammers then made their way overland towards their enemy, keeping their elite captains in Thunderhawks ready to charge into the action where they were needed the most.

Once contact was made, the marines soon set up a firebase in one of the outer buildings of the federal complexes, breaching the line before the federal Librians were even fully aware of the attack. The Librians rallied however although many of their Leman Russ battle tanks were taken out in the opening minutes of the main firefight. Charging forward the hellhounds subjected the charging astartes to horrendous casualties, and in the centre of the battle line the Librian infantry fought valiantly against superior foes, despite eventually being overcome by the genetically engineered enemies in brutal hand to hand fighting.

Now the Hammers sent in their captains, while their firebase continued to wreak havoc against the Librian armour. Only the Librian artillery, carefully deployed out of sight, was not eliminated. This would prove costly. As the astartes captains and the remaining marines dealt with the rest of the Librian infantry, the artillery began pounding the Federacy's own lines. shells poured in from above, with the Librians using their few spotting aircraft to home in on even the lone captains. The marines at the firebase were then ordered to move forward and take the objectives, but they too were cut down by incessant and accurate Basilisk fire. 

By the end of 1809_018M42 the remaining space marines had been cut down, or escaped during the long night of Vostar. Casualties were high, but the Federacy had taken terrible punishment from the astartes raid. Nevertheless, Chiukov had to reluctantly admit that despite the damage, the main federal bases were still intact, and no landing would be possible. The operation to take Vostar was postponed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Necrons subdued at Ceti

In mid 09.018M42 the Imperial forces at the Ceti system began probing deeper into the system, landing expeditionary forces on the rocky planet of Ceti 1, still giving Ceti 2 or "Bal of Bones" a wide berth. Hoping to excavate long abandoned ruins of the ancient necron civilisation the expedition was joined by an Inquisition force, believed to be acting on behalf of the Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Lord Huron. Eager to learn the secrets of the ancient race, the inquisition were also joined by senior Adeptus Mechanicus agents, as well as a company of Hammers of the Emperor astartes.

The addition of the Space Marines would prove fortuitious, as on 1209_018M42 the excavation teams opened up what they thought to be an inert chamber, only to find the inner voids home to thousands of dormant necron warriors. The necrons, awoken by the interference of the intruders, quickly reanimated and eliminated the investigation team.

The alarm reached the Hammers of the Emperor at the newly constructed Imperial base of operations, and they immediately launched a ferocious pre-emptive assault against the re-awakened tomb. Fortunately for the marines, the necrons still appeared to be operating below their optimal capacity, and after a day of intense fighting, the aliens were eliminated. The imperial forces rejoiced and began expanding their base, but secretly the Inquisition had become aware that a signal had been sent back to Bal of Bones itself. How long would the far larger tomb world remain in hibernation? How many necrons lay slumbering on the neighbouring world?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Foramen: Tarlius base retaken by chaos

With the Imperial Fleet now firmly in control of the outer system and Stahl fortifying the inner worlds, there remained an Achilles heel to the Imperial foothold in the Tarlius system within the Foramen Majoris. The outermost world was only lightly defended and host to a single imperial installation. If the forces of chaos could take this through stealth, the Imperium would find themselves with a hostile force behind their lines. Not a great threat on its own but a vital aid to Stahl and the chaos cause in monitoring Imperial build up, troop and fleet movements.

The Imperium had not completely neglected the outer world's defence, stationing a squad of astartes of the Hammers of the Emperor Chapter to maintain a vigilant watch over the facility. However, they did not expect to come under attack suddenly and without warning by a small but elite force of Death Guard. By using the arcane "device", of which only a few Imperial commanders were aware, the small force was deposited on the outer world from the inner sanctum of Stahl's domain. The hardiest of soldiers, the Death Guard were then able to infiltrate the base before ambushing the small squad of loyalist astartes.

A vicious firefight developed inside the cramped confines of the outpost facility, but the Death Guard overcame the defenders, killing the space marines and putting the workers to the sword, save for those who were kept on in order to maintain its function. The imperial forces were alerted to the chao presence, but now had to decide whether to spend valuable resources retaking the facility, or to simply blast it from space. However they knew now that even if destroyed, the chaos forces could return and install yet another listening post. Either a force needed to be established on the ground or a permanent watch by naval vessels, a patrol the Imperial navy could scarcely afford. The naval option looked attractive compared to the landing of troops on what was otherwise a lifeless worthless rock, but Admiral D'Oyly-Hughes was hesitant to split off a force of escorts lest they become prey for a larger chaos force of ships. The Death Guard act had driven a serious thorn into the loyalist invasion plans of the rest of the Tarlius system.

Echo Reach: Malkaor repulses Imperial Invasion at Naitonaito

On 1009_018M42 the Imperial forces in the Echo cluster were in a strong position. Having taken Dnatha and with only mopping up to do at Palantir, Admiral Barham's battlegroup moved to the next strategic objective. Echo Reach itself. Barham was give overall responsibility for the Echo System while General Chuikov planned the ground invasion. Barham's task was simple. By placing the fleet in the outer reaches of the system he challenged the Tau to battle. They declined, knowing that to give battle now would be to invite Enkvist to arrive at Echo Reach itself unopposed. Instead the Tau remained in defensive formations around their primary base.

The strategic position dictated the Imperium's next move. The main planet was unassailable, so Chuikov chose to challenge the Tau by landing and taking Echo IV or "Naitonaito" as it had been named by the Tau. Bypassing the ice giant of Vostar, the Imperial battlegroup made for the smaller Tau world hoping to take it and establish a fortress. Leading the intial assault were House Corvus, as knights had been shown to be devastatingly effective against the Tau, supported by the Imperial Navy and loyalist Librian Stormtroopers. Once the main tau fortifications had been overrun the Novgorod and Lycaon forces would be sent in to finish off any remaining Tau resistance.

Malkaor had no intention of surrendering Naitonaito however, and prepared a defensive strategy at key points on the planet. Three main tau bases existed, but Malkaor knew the lynchpin of these would be the main tau settlement and command post. Taking this would almost guarantee an Imperial victory. As the Imperium landed in the frozen wastelands, the tau deployed with defence in depth, providing a killing ground, then layered defences in order to slow, then halt the imperial advance.

The prepared defences proved their worth in the opening minutes of the engagement, as the tau were immediately able to disable a Knight Errant, but the imperial general had committed almost all of House Corvus to this assault, so the tau faced a seemingly endless stream of giant war engines lumbering into view through the driving snow. However, unable to concentrate the knights before the assault, the imperium suffered dearly as the tau were able to pick them off one by one. Nonetheless, the Helverins decimated the tau infantry, and some of the larger Knights were able to close with the tau and engage in close combat. In close quarters fighting the tau technological advantage showed once more. Although the weaponry on the Knights Errant were terrifying, tau shield technology held, allowing Riptides to escape from the knights' clutches again and again using their jet packs. Chuikov became concerned that the Tau were more difficult to remove than he had considered. 

The Librian infantry did manage to penetrate the tau defences by an airborne drop, and held out for some time, waiting for their ground forces to link up with them. However House Corvus, struggling to dispatch the Riptides, was unable to make the link up before the same Riptides appeared over the Librian positions. Withering fire from tau battlesuits gradually whittled down the Librian defenders, whowere eventually slain to a man. Gradually the imperial assaults became ever more desperate as the sun began to fall below the horizon. Soon the temperature would plummet and all advances would have to cease until the morning, giving the tau time to repair their defences and reorganise their troops. The tau however were running low on defenders, as they had taken massive casualties from the relentless assault. As night fell a few Riptides and battlesuits were all that stood between the imperium and the central command base, but it was enough.

As the temperatures plummeted to -150C as the sun set, Chuikov recalled his remaining troops. The assault had failed and now the loyalist forces had to regroup and decide on their next steps. Creating a beachhead would be possible, but costly in terms of resupply, and it would pin the imperial fleet in place allowing the tau free reign. The strategy had hinged on a quick victory at Naitonaito, and with that no longer possible Chuikov would have to think again.

Hadron Expanse Hulk explored again

Following the Ultramarines' abortive investigation on the space hulk in the Hadron space lanes, history would repeat itself just weeks later when the hulk was located again by imperial ships. Reporting its position a freighter gave it a wide berth, before a strike cruiser arrived with a squad of Deathwatch marines intent on exploring the giant wreck. Sadly the Ultramarines had failed to report their findings, an ommission which may have avoided the unfortunate events from unfolding just moments later, as the Deathwatch squad encountered the same foul Xenos as soon as they set foot on the hulk.

Unaware of the genestealer presence, the Deathwatch were unprepared for the ferocity of the aliena assault, and within scant minutes the squad was ripped to shreds, with none making it back to the cruiser. This time however the hulk was reported to the imperial command authorities, and the hulk was named Perditious on charts.

Malkaor removes chaos threat from Mimir

With the bulk of the Emerald Serpent elite forces carrying out the invasion of the Goreen system and the Emperor's Children so few in number, the bulk of the defenders of the chaos worlds in the Mimir system were made up of Darrantine Guard formations, with support from the traitor Knight House the Aether Striders. These were thought sufficient by the Chaos factions to defend their holdings from the beseiged federal forces on New Titania, but Malkaor was able in mid 08.018M42 to send a significant task force to the system via the warp lane from Echo Reach.

The combined strength of the tau and federal fleet at Mimir left the chaos forces isolated on their worlds, and separate assaults were carried out on each world almost simultaneously. Despite having access to powerful equipment and a number of Knight phallanxes, the Emerald Serpent had no defensive positions or fortifications, and were caught in the open against withering Tau firepower supported by the air cast and imperial navy. On all three worlds the battles became a shooting gallery, and within a week all three were pacified and returned to alliance control.

Chaos had been removed from the Mimir system, and the Tau immediately began work on bases and fortifications on the newly named worlds, Asashin ha, Shinda kishi and Yukan'na shobo-shi. The Federacy would have to accept once again that they needed the Tau in order to prosecute successful operations in the Hadron Expansion Sphere. 

Emerald Serpent penetrate "Goreen"

In mid 08.018M42 the Emerald Serpent, having lost control of Palntir, sought to outflank the Crusade forces in the Hadron Expanse, who had already established bases on the outer worlds of the Boltarean System. Unable to directly attack the strongholds at Arawath and hearing of riches in the Orenn - now "Goreen" system, the forces of Tzeentch made a concerted attack on the outer worlds of the system. Here the forces of chaos faced stiff resistance on the second outer world, as orks including looted imperial super heavies and a Stompa, which caused the Emerald Serpent considerable concern.

Once again however the sorceries of Tzeentch were able to successfuly summon a shard of the Thousand Sons Primarch, and the might of Magnus the Red turned the tide of battle. The orks and their equipment were no match for a daemonic Primarch, and soon all ork resistance on the outermost world had crumbled, with the orks retreating to cave systems in the hills of Goreen V. For the forces of chaos it was a start, but they still had a lot to do to create a meaningful base of operations, let alone subdue the whole system.