Saturday, January 26, 2019

Hexis Current Positions

Battle of Valitane Run

While war raged far to the trailing arm of the Aleph Sector at Lysis and the Hadron Expanse, the forces of chaos took the opportunity to probe Imperial defences elsewhere. In the wider strategic picture, the warlords of the dark gods reasoned that if the Imperium was embattled from the Foramen Interdictum all the way to the Expanse, they may find a weakness elsewhere. Admiral Thok, keen to once again be a thorn in the Imperial Navy's side, had intelligence that the Valitane subsector was undefended, and began moving a sizeable cruiser force to the subsector. If he could break through and perhaps bombard Praesul, the only Imperial world in the Reach - then he could cause panic in Valitane which would force Admiral Hughes to redirect his forces Rimward.

What Thok did not know, was that he had already reinforced Admiral Cardale at Valitane with a division of ships led by Admiral Hector, a veteran of campaigns in the Perseus Deeps. Present at the battle of Calliden, Hector was no stranger to Thok, and when the mad admiral's cruisers arrived at Valitane Reach, Hector's force was there to meet him.

The battle that followed was a cagey affair, as neither side was willing to recklessly throw away their forces in an all out engagement. Thok's fleet, having better range than Hector's. formed up into a crescent, keeping the imperial fleet at a distance, realising that only one of his opponent's fleets was equipped with a nova cannon. This paid off initially, as long range firepower took its toll on Hector's ships, especially the light dauntless class. These vessels were unsuited to such fleet engagements and were more of a hindrance than an aid, and the imperium lost the Medusa and had three other light cruisers badly damaged.

However, Hector was not only equipped with dauntlesses. His flaghsip Apollo, and Oberon class battleship, and his two Exorcist class grand cruisers were far more suited to long range engagements, and eventually, with help from the Dominator Morpheus, Hector's remaining vessels started to chip away at Thok's battlegroup. As the Imperial fleet edged around the chaos fleet's rear, the slaughter class Skoll was destroyed, while Mimir and Sigurd took heavy damage. Realising the battle was no longer going in his favour, the chaos admiral withdrew.

The battle of Valitane Run had been a long engagement with little in the way of decisive results. Both sides lost a capital ship and sustained heavy damage on other vessels, but neither fleet was dealt a fatal blow. The engagement can only be described as a draw, but importantly Hector had not lost, ensuring that Praesul and beyond it Valitane were kept safe from the predations of the chaos armies in the Enceladus subsector for the time being.

Imperial Losses:
 - 1 dauntless (Medusa) destroyed
 - Grand cruiser and 3 dauntlesses crippled

Chaos Losses:
 - Skoll
 - Mimir and Sigurd crippled

Deathwatch establish base at Goreen

While the war dragged on at Hexis, new forces arrived in the Hadron Expanse in late 01.019M42. The Ordo Xenos, led by an Inquisitor searching for his missing colleague, Huron, had dispatched a significant force to the Expanse following reports of various alien activity. 

The force was small but powerful, comprising of a strike cruiser and a small but mobile independent flotilla of support ships and escorts. The core of the ground force was a company of Deathwatch astartes, but supported by imperial guard and a detachment of knights, the battle group punched well above their weight in numbers. 

The Ordo Xenos force arrived first at Goreen, intending to set up a base of operations, independent of imperial command. At Goreen the imperium already had a small base, but were in constant running battles across the many planets of the system against both orks and chaos forces. The outer system was controlled by the Emerald Serpent, who maintained forces there in order to threaten the flanks of the key imperial worlds of Hussaria and Arawath. 

The guard forces arrived first, deploying against the chaos forces. The Emerald Serpent reacted swiftly, sending in rubric marines to deal with this latest incursion by the imperium. However, the chaos forces were undone by the sudden arrival of the Deathwatch, supported by knights. The small elite force of chaos marines was summarily butchered, leading to the fall of the outer worlds of the system and removing the Emerald Serpent from the Goreen system. 

Iron Warriors regain device chamber

With stretched resources and waging war on every front, the Imperium had left the defence of the Device Chamber to the Imperial Cult, confident even this rabble could not screw up such a simple task while Chaos were in retreat. This however was a fatal mistake that Honourable Horozhka exploited to the fullest. 

The Iron Warriors set up within sight of the Imperial Cult with a clear kill zone. For all their righteous fervour bordering on madness, the Imperial Cult were not stupid and took advantage of cover as they rapidly advanced, looking to charge into combat, but unable to find a way close to the Iron Warriors without facing their guns. Hozoshka sent a single flamer armed Thorakitai forward to bait the Cult, who obliged, incinerating him first and advancing onto the Iron Warrior defensive line. In return, the Iron Warriors unleashed a storm of disciplined fire as planned, cutting down half the Imperial Cult as they attempted to charge, who retreated in disarray. Iron Warrior hunter teams continued to dog the Imperial Cult far from the device chamber as Honourable Horoszhka once again turned the Device and the new Foramen back to Enceladus.

Imperium break siege of Menthoteph

The bombardment from space, done deliberate and some not, and the furious air battles over Hexis, had severely taxed both imperial and chaos  air forces. Worse for chaos, the region south of Menthoteph had suffered the crushing impact of one of Admiral Kanin’s cruisers. The destruction had been complete, with a crater over twenty miles wide now full of burning wreckage. Chaos forces near to and under the impact site had been utterly obliterated. 

This event, although accidental and representing a severe loss to naval forces, nonetheless presented an opportunity to Konev’s ground forces. The Imperial Fists recognised this too, and having a fully functional battle company ready to conduct an assault, sought to take advantage of the disarray in chaos lines. 

Moving forward in strength, the imperial fists took their infantry forces south, driving a wedge into the forces of the archenemy to the west of Menthoteph. A successful operation would secure the ground lost by the Sky Lords and reconnect the imperial defenders of Hexis’ second city, and the precious entrance to the underground catacombs. 

Regular chaos forces were easily brushed aside, as the devastation from above had wrecked their supply lines, but the traitor army was not about to give ground so easily. On 2601.019M42 a host of daemons was summoned to throw back the invaders, and the yellow clad warriors found themselves beset by a host of horrific daemons of Slaanesh. 

The daemonic horde crashed into the astartes lines but found the loyalists unyielding. Primaries marines - the emperor’s finest equipped with the latest plasma weaponry - tore the other-worldly beings apart, although some malfunctions led to unfortunate losses. Despite losing their company commander, and the appearance of a dread greater daemon of Slaanesh, the astartes withstood the onslaught. By 3001.019M42 the attack had petered out and left the imperium in control of northwestern Menthoteph. 

Stahl asserts dominance

All along the Western and Northern fronts, the forces of Warsmith Stahl had fought and bled to claim Hexis for the forces for their nascent Empire. Indeed, if you were to listen to words of the sons of the bitter brother, their empire would already be claimed if not for the unreliability of their corrupted and unreliable allies. In 2601.019M42, Lycurgus Stahl’s gaze fell once again on his allies, seeing a frustrating lack of activity on the Eastern front. Line Captain Zhorisch of the southern defences was dispatched with a Dekathlea to seize the Ancient Fort, and punish any allies that got in their way.

Enroute to the Ancient Fort, Thousand Sons of the Emerald Serpent, still wary of Stahl since the imprisoning of their daemon prince, Marcus, moved to intercept the Iron Warriors. The Iron Warriors immediately took defensive positions as the Thousand Sons advanced, their Sorcerer's demanding they explain their presence. In return to the demands the Iron Warriors unleashed a storm of Autocannon, bolt and plasma fire, cutting down several Rubicae. Cursing the fickle nature of the Iron Warriors, the Sorcerers wove magics to obfuscate their most valuable units and hurled the Contemptor Dreadnought forward who ripped through several Legionaries. The Thousand Son’s appeared to have the upper hand but the Iron Warriors doggedly refused to abandon their position.

Everything proceeded according to Tzeentchs Great Plan, or at least that is what they say; the leader of the Thousands Sons cursed this as daemons tore at his mind as he attempted to weave his magicks. Things went from bad to worse as Line Captain Zhorisch and his Terminators teleported behind the Thousand Sons line and cut down the Sorcerer with a storm of plasma fire. Zhorisch then charged into the Rubicae line. With the attack of the Terminators, the left flank of the Thousand Sons was collapsing, though the Contemptor had almost single handedly secured the right.  Once again weaving their magicks, the Thousand Sons walked through the warp to reinforce the beleaguered left - and catch Zorisch in the same trap he launched. Bolt after sorcerous bolt slammed into Zhorisch, but he refused to fall, bellowing his rage as he charged the Rubricae lines once more along with his surviving Terminators.

The Thousand Sons gambit would prove to be their undoing, the Chosen of the Iron Warriors moved from their defended position to attack receiving covering fire from Havoc autocannons. Together they cut down all the Rubicae and Sorcerers, leaving half the battlefield in the Iron Warriors hands. The surviving Sorcerer's wounded Zhoirsch out of spite, who finally collapsed, but they knew they were beaten. The Iron Warriors continued to pump fire into the Thousand Sons, destroying the Contemptor and cutting down even more of the Rubicae as they pulled back. The remaining Iron Warrior forces advanced into the Ancient Ruins unmolested, having once again asserted their dominance over the forces of Chaos. 

The Battle of Hexis

Battle is joined

The battle between the Tau and Imperial fleet began early on 2501.019M42. Admiral Swiftstar was almost due for retirement, and the old tau commander had serious reservations about attempting to fight the imperial fleet in close proximity to the surface of Hexis. Nevertheless the tau fleet formed up into a tight formation attempting to use the planet as cover from imperial nova cannons. Meanwhile Kanin split his fleet into divisions, with the nova cannon equipped Sevastopol on his left flank, and the other nova cannon vessels on his right, with his flagship Leipzig in the centre. 

The early action was inconclusive. In contrast to Stark’s success with the long range imperial weaponry, the nova cannons from Kanin’s vessels were largely inaccurate, doing little if any real damage to the tau. Kanin kept the range however, denying Swiftstar the ability to quickly close and deliver a powerful first strike on his fleet. 

Swiftstar, seeing that the tyrant class cruiser Konary was about to enter low orbit, detached a protector - Red Moon - from his cruiser force, and with the Castellan escorts providing cover for his right flank, decided that he would lead the defence of the tau base on Hexis to his flagship and its multiple wings of attack craft. The battleship Vigilance, accompanied by Red Moon, followed Konary, leaving his remaining ships to deal with Kanin’s remaining vessels. 

The tau suffered a set back early on, as Sun Sword got herself out of position. Facing the combined firepower of the imperial fleet she was quickly crippled and unable to disengage, became the first casualty of the battle. Now the main fleet action pitted the hero class Longstride and the protector Guardian against Kanin’s flagship and two cruisers. The tau however could call on escort support, while Kanin’s own sword class vessels, unused to his command on loan from another battlegroup, had suffered at the hands of tau torpedo waves and been forced to disengage. 

Fleet actions above Hexis

The imperial fleet quickly lost their advantage in ships above Hexis. Sevastopol was still far to the rear and now unable to fire her nova cannon as the tau cruisers slipped behind the limb of Hexis. Then, Cape Sarych was forced to break out of the imperial line as she came under focussed fire from the tau fleet and waves of torpedoes and mantas. 

The Tau cruisers now saw an opportunity, closing on Leipzig as she approached an asteroid field. Longstride and Guardian, supported by six tau escorts now delivered a barrage of close range firepower, with Longstride’s volleys proving deadly in their accuracy. Kanin’s flagships shields were overwhelmed, and tau munitions punched through her armour, destabilising her plasma drive generators. The imperial flagship then disappeared in a cataclysmic explosion, leaving the imperial fleet leaderless and throwing debris thousands of kilometres at tremendous speeds. 

The tau cruisers were caught in the blast wave, and Guardian took heavy damage. The damage to Longstride was lighter, but now the hero class faced a new threat, as the cruiser Kirpen closed with the tau vessel, intent on boarding her to get revenge for the loss of their flagship. Unfortunately for the imperium however, the turrets of Longstride proved an effective defence, and the human cruiser was crippled at close range by the tau short range firepower. 

Kirpen did not disengage however, and now Longstride was two imperial cruisers alone, as both the tau escort squadrons had been forced to disengage, losing four out of six vessels. Faced with an impossible situation, the tau cruiser disengaged, leaving admiral Swiftstar and his two vessels alone against three imperial cruisers. 

Low orbit action 

The battle in low orbit began shortly after the Vigilance and Red Moon followed Konary into the buffeting atmosphere of Hexis. By now the air war was in full swing over the planet, but Swiftstar wanted to catch the imperial cruiser while it was vulnerable. Unfortunately the atmosphere of the planet proved difficult and neither side was able to land a telling blow. Lances from the planet flashed up, adding to the chaos but eventually the Konary was crippled and began to slowly fall towards the surface. 

After nearly an hour in low orbit the imperial cruisers that remained in the system came to the Konary’s aid. It was too late for the tyrant class, but the Sevastopol, still undamaged, began targeting the Red Moon with her nova cannon. The tau were appalled as the imperium recklessly engaged their most dangerous weapon in the atmosphere of a world, and their horror was proved justifiable, as the stray first shot impacted with the planet itself, immolating thousands of imperial guardsman in a heartbeat. Swiftstar did not get time to rejoice however, as the second shot proved deadly. The Red Moon evaporated as the huge energies of the imperial super weapon ripped apart the protector class cruiser. As the wreckage fell to the ground, another devastating explosion caused even more carnage amongst imperial formations on the surface. 

Vigilance was still in good shape, and by now despite the arrival of the other heavily damaged cruiser, the tau weapons batteries finally finished off the Konary. The imperial cruiser crashed to earth in flames, this time impacting in the region of chaos forces, wiping out regiments of the southern army. 

Swiftstar believed by now that the battle was lost. Unable to do anything with Vigilance other than power away from the grip of Hexis’ gravity, the tau admiral’s legendary temper showed itself once more as he raged about the bridge of his flagship, powerless as the two remaining imperial vessels pummelled his ship. However, the Vigilance was able to power clear of the planets surface and escape into the depths of the Lysis system, where he regrouped with his damaged cruisers, finally learning of the total destruction of the imperial flagship. 

The air war over Hexis 

The battle of Hexis was not only fought between mighty capital ships. Admiral Stark had ordered his naval assets on the ground to assist with the destruction of the tau base in line with Kanin’s attack, and had been given the chaos base as a secondary target. Meanwhile, prior to the battle, Stahl himself had been tipped off that the imperium would be sending their naval forces to the planet, by the tau. Swiftstar made an arrangement with the forces of chaos. He would not take any aggressive actions against the forces of chaos, leaving Stahl’s forces a free hand against the imperium. Swiftstar kept to his word, and for once so did Stahl. 

The arrival of Konary in low orbit was the signal for imperial bomber wings to strike the tau base. The tau, forewarned, immediately launches their own fighters to protect their ground assets. However, the imperial forces took the shortest route towards the tau - over chaos held territory. This was met by an immediate response from the traitor forces, and squadrons of helldrakes shot down or drove off the first imperial bomber wave. 

Sensing a plot, or collusion between the alliance and chaos, the imperial commander on the ground switched his main target, and the second wave launched against the chaos base instead. Assault boats launched from Leipzig then entered the battle, taking out the formidable lance defences Stahl had built up around the chaos zone. The second bomber wave got through, although their attack was largely ineffective. In the meantime, the chaos forces had sent their own strike forces towards the imperial base. 

Hours of air battles followed, but the imperial defences held, and the damage to their bases and installations was slight. Stahl’s bases faired far worse, with wave after wave of imperial bombers pounding warehouses, ammunition stores and the landing grounds in the shifting sands. The chaos base was finally put out of action by a nova cannon strike from Sevastopol, before the imperial cruisers retreated back to deep space late on 2701.019M42. Meanwhile the tau launched one half hearted assault against the imperial base, which was unsuccessful. With the imperial fleet leaving low orbit, the air battles died down, leaving the chaos base a smoking ruin. 


Initially Admiral Swiftstar, ever the pessimist, believed he had lost the battle of Hexis. The facts were however that the imperium has lost their emperor class battleship and a rear admiral, as well as a tyrant class cruiser. Only one imperial capital ship had escaped with light damage and although the tau had lost two of their own capital ships, they could better make good their losses. 

On the ground the imperium had lost thousands of men due to explosions and falling debris, while the chaos base was a mass of wreckage and destroyed supplies. The alliance had suffered almost no casualties on the ground and later in the day Kanin’s remaining ships, now under the command of Commodore Sergey Gorshkov, were forced to make the jump back to imperial bases in the Hadron Expanse. The tau fleet had taken a battering, but would soon be relieved by federal vessels. 

Admiral Stark’s gamble had not paid off, although the destruction of the chaos base was a strategic success. However the alliance remained in fighting condition and Stark knew he would not get the chance to deal another blow to Swiftstar’s fleet before the arrival of the federal battlegroup. He had lost an Emperor class battleship and a rear admiral, the latter being fortunate as it was Kanin who would take the blame for what was an imperial defeat. 

Imperial Losses:
- Leipzig (Battleship) - Kanin killed
- Tyrant class cruiser
- 2 escorts
- 2 cruiser crippled 

Tau losses:
- 2 Protectors destroyed
- 4 escorts
- Custodian crippled
- 1 protector crippled

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Battle of Hexis: Prelude

Admiral Swiftstar had been monitoring fleet activity in the Lysis System for some time. With chaos and imperial fleets in the system the tau commander had been unwilling to risk a set piece battle, and had concentrated on maintaining supply lines to the planet’s surface. 

With Stahl’s battlegroup forced out of the Lysis system, the alliance were reasonably confident that the status quo could be maintained. However in mid 01.019M42 the alignment of the Foramen changed, allowing a new battlegroup to rapidly arrive from Ultramar. 

The new arrival was not a fleet of astartes, but a fleet of warships led by rear admiral Vasily Kanin. Kanin had been put in command of one of Enkvist’s battle groups before the admiral has set off on his ill fated expedition to the Hadron Expanse, and had raised his flag aboard the Emperor class Leipzig in mid 018M42. Kanin was ordered to the galactic rim to aid in the wars around Ultramar, but when the Foramen realigned he suddenly found himself the closest imperial division able to reinforce at Hexis. 

Rear admiral Kanin was pleased to see action in a decisive theatre. Reasoning that with Enkvist’s disappearance he would be adding the rest of the admirals forces to his command the mood was upbeat for the short warp jump to the Lysis system. Not only had the realignment of the Foramen allowed the crossing of the Cicatrix, but warp travel times had been accelerated by an order of magnitude for the region of space over which the necron technology held sway. 

Kanin was deep in the middle of arranging his plans for the execution of his naval strategy when he arrived in the system on 2302.019M42. However news of Stark’s promotion to full admiral after his decisive victory over the iron warriors fleet only reached him as his fleet materialised into real space at Lysis. Kanin was appalled. To him, Stark was as reckless as Enkvist, who’s tactics had lost an entire imperial division and got the admiral himself killed. 

Just as Kanin was adjusting to this new state of affairs, and before the rear admiral could discuss the imperial strategy with Stark, he was given immediate orders to attack Hexis in order to bring the Tau to battle. Kanin protested, arguing that a more conservative strategy would be more prudent, but Stark would not be swayed. To him, the only way to bring Swiftstar to battle was to threaten alliance assets on the surface of the planet. The attack would go ahead, and soon. 

Kanin didn’t understand why Stark was so keen to bring the Tau to battle. A slower strangling of the alliance forces - and those of chaos - would surely bring results in time, and at less risk. However, Stark was concerned that unless Swiftstar was dealt with soon, and decisively, the eldar or their dark kin might involve themselves in order to frustrate the plans of the imperium. Stark wanted a decisive victory, to demoralise the tau and perhaps break the alliance. 

Stark was correct in his assumption that Swiftstar would be forced to take action if the imperial fleet threatened tau ground forces. Despite his own reservations about the risk of opposing a full fleet potentially in the atmosphere of a planet, the tau commander could not stand idle while his brethren were bombarded from space. As soon as data from tau sensor drones indicated that a new imperial fleet was on a direct course for the inner biosphere, Swiftstar began shadowing the enemy vessels. The scene for the battle of Hexis was set. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Imperium take device room, realign Foramen

Having gained the knowledge to redirect the necron device, the imperium were keen to retake the device room and realign the Foramen as quickly as possible. With the imperial cult undergoing training by the Grey Knights and Konev recovering from the recent chaos advance in the east, the regular imperial army could not launch an assault against the centre of Praxis. Besides, a heavy handed imperial assault would likely face stubborn resistance from the entrenched chaos forces. A surgical strike was needed. 

The Ultramarines agreed to send in a small force, no more than half a company of astartes, to move swiftly and secure the main arterial routes - such as they were - and the device room itself. Meanwhile, the alliance had already landed, secretly, a small force of Librian specialists with their own plan to infiltrate the device room via the catacombs, while the forces of chaos under Stahl had replaced the unreliable orks with the elite units of the Iron Warriors, led by the “honourable” Horozhka. 

The Ultramarines easily cleared out the eastern and northern approaches to the device room, but on 1901.019M42 the ultramarines simultaneously encountered the elite Iron Warriors as well as the lead elements of the Librian stormtroopers who had made their way quietly around the catacombs and emerged close to the centre of the ruined city. 

The Ultramarines found themselves in a potentially deadly crossfire as the Iron warriors approached from their front while the Federal forces set up fire positions on their flanks. However, the Librian plasma fire was poor, many shots missing and those shots that did land near to a marine failing to penetrate their ancient armour. To the front, the Iron Warriors engaged in exchanges of fire with the loyalist marines, which did more damage, taking down at least two of their battle brothers with well placed heavy weapons. 

The Librians meanwhile took advantage of the bitter struggle between the astartes forces, moving forward in strength and engaging with the iron warriors on their right. Once again however their weaponry failed them, and they were unable to dislodge the traitor forces from their positions. On the left, inaccurate and ineffective fire blunted the federal assault, effectively putting an end to the alliance chances of securing the device room. 

The skirmish outside the ancient necron chamber reached fever pitch as the sun set on the city, with the Iron Warriors getting the upper hand. However in their eagerness to engage in close combat with their hated brothers, Horozhka’s squad took a risk, abandoning their strong positions in order to cut down their enemy. The gamble did not pay off, and the aggressive charge was held by the loyalist marines, and the iron warriors soon realised that their failure to deal with this squad quickly now risked other loyalist forces cutting them off from their lines. Reluctantly the chaos forces abandoned the centre of Praxis. The imperium now had control of the device. 

Within hours the Ultramarines had visitors from the Adeptus Mechanicus, who began their ministrations to the xenos artefact. By 2001.019M42 the work was complete and the Foramen Ignotum changed its alignment once again, condemning hundreds of supply ships en route from the Enceladus subsector to a horrific end as their ships were cast into the raging madness of the Cicatrix. The new alignment had created a new stable warp route to Ultramar. Now the device room had to be held, else any supply ships from the imperial held realm of Macragge would face a similar fate. 

Stark’s bold gambit defeats chaos fleet

Battle of Lysis Deeps

Commodore Stark had arrived in the Lysis system in early 019M42 with a replacement fleet for admiral Enkvist’s battle group. Less experienced than the missing admiral, Stark was nonetheless eager to prove his worth in battle, and vindicate Enkvist’s controversial theories and tactics regarding the use of Viper class torpedo escorts. 

At the same time, a portion of Tragean’s fleet had been replaced by warships of Warmaster Stahl, as the forces of chaos made use of the alignment of the Foramen Ignotum. The tau fleet under Swiftstar kept its distance, but with two chaos fleets now in the Lysis system, Commodore Stark decided to take action before Tragaen and Stahl could link up and make their strength in numbers tell against the imperial force on Hexis. 

Stark set up his ambush in the deep space region of the system, hiding his viper class destroyers behind asteroid fields and forming JP his nova cannon cruisers around the battleship Kirov. Stahl meanwhile formed up his fleet line astern - traditional tactics for heavy gun battery equipped chaos cruisers. Stark would need boldness and luck to prevent the massed gun batteries from simply blasting away at his ships from long range. 

Stark began the engagement with long range nova cannon fire, immediately crippling a carnage class cruiser and forcing it to disengage. More good nova cannon accuracy followed, damaging more of the chaos vessels. Now the imperial commander took an enormous risk, ordering his escorts all ahead full through the asteroids to deliver a devastating torpedo strike to the chaos line. 

Few commanders would have ordered this move, as there was a high likelihood of the destroyers simply smashing themselves apart on the space rocks, but Stark had trained his captains in this manoeuvre. Even so, one of the Vipers failed to navigate amongst the spinning asteroids, the ship detonating spectacularly in the deep space debris. Unfortunately for Stahl, every single one of the remaining escorts completed the operation unscathed, and as planned, eleven Vipers unleashed a devastating wave of torpedoes, aided by more from Kirov, who had herself bludgeoned her way through the asteroids. 

Stahl’s fleet had taken precautions against such a strike, launching fighters to intercept the torpedo waves, but the sheer amount of ordnance now heading towards his ships was overwhelming. Many of the hundred metre long projectiles were shot down, but the rest crashed into the chaos lines, destroying a hades class battlecruiser and another carnage class cruiser. 

Having dealt the crippling blow, the battle risked becoming a rout. The remaining chaos vessels, with the daemonship Ghost of Rofocale now beginning to materialise in the imperial lines, focussed their gun batteries against the Kirov, but they lacked the firepower to do anything other than light damage against the imperial flagship. Worse still, the nova cannons of Vorskla and Seelow Heights continued their accurate bombardment, crippling the enemy flagship and another cruiser, while massed broadside fire crippled the chaos slaughter class that had closed the range to unleash its ferocious firepower. 

At this point, barely an hour after the battle had begun, Stark was looking at an unprecedented victory. However, total annihilation of Stahl’s fleet was denied him, as the chaos vessels quickly disengaged under the cover of the debris from the furious action. Only the lead carnage class now remained, but her captain took the opportunity to exact a high price for Stark’s victory, charging into the lines of Viper destroyers and firing both broadsides at point blank range. Only one of Stark’s eleven destroyers survived the onslaught, and thousands of highly trained torpedo specialists were lost as a result. 

With this final action the remaining chaos vessels disappeared into the blankness, the daemonship not even bothering to fully materialise seeing the rest of the fleet disengaging. The imperium had won a famous victory, and both sides now regrouped to count the cost. 

Stahl’s fleet attempted to flee back to the Norsefire Empire, but the changing direction of the Foramen forced them instead to remain in the Hadron Expanse, retreating to Boltarean for repairs. Commodore Stark’s fleet remained intact, although the loss of so many escorts and their trained crews did cause some alarm in imperial circles, though with Stark’s win, the commodore was promoted admiral. More Vipers were allocated to the new admiral, although their crews and captains were not informed of the horrendous attrition rates of destroyers under Enkvist and Stark’s commands. Whether admiral Stark would continue to regard his escorts as expendable remained to be seen. 


Imperial Losses
- 11 viper class destroyers 

Chaos Losses
- Two cruisers hulked 
- Three cruisers crippled 

Imperium find means to activate device.

In late 01.019M42 a chance discovery turned the Hexis campaign on its head. The imperium had twice captured the device room already, but both times the Adeptus Mechanicus had failed to unlock the secrets of the ancient artefact, despite extensive records shared with them by inquisitor Vorushko. 

By 1501.019M42 the imperial cult forces who had previously occupied the centre of Praxis had been pushed out by the combined efforts of the Chaos Pact, with mercenary orks dealing the final blow. The Foramen had been activated and changed alignment once already, with the chaos forces apparently learning the secrets of the xenos technology. This alarmed the imperium, but also gave the Mechanicum renewed drive to solve the problem. The imperium lacked information however. This changed on 1801.019M42, when the Grey Knights accidentally discovered the imperial cult had the vital intelligence all along. 

The Grey Knights initially took a deep dislike to the imperial cult, seeing them as reckless and borderline heretical forces, not under the direct control of imperial command. Konev however was a skilled diplomat, and over time managed to convince Inquisitor Hector Rex of the faithfulness of the cult, as well as their military worth. This took time as all communications with Rex had to be sent and received by astropath, as the inquisitor lord was still at Destino investigating Cybixx. Eventually though, the Ordo Malleus agreed to accept the cult and even provide them some training, after they had been subject to a thorough investigation by his agents and the Grey Knights. 

The training proved to be sorely needed, as while the imperial cult had been successful at small scale engagements and the guerrilla warfare in the tight streets of central Praxis, they suffered badly at the hands of the astartes in a pitched battle scenario. However, the investigation by the inquisition found that the cult had collected several strange looking artefacts of xenos origin, which they intended to have delivered to the Ecclesiarchy for their destruction. These artefacts were confiscated by the inquisition, and the cult told that any further items of interest must be immediately handed over to the Mechanicum. Amongst these items were crucial pieces of evidence which finally gave the Adeptus Mechanicus the knowledge they lacked. Deeply heretical nonetheless, the inquisition decided to oversee all further work on necron technology, much to the irritation of the Mechanicum. Now though, the imperium believed they could finally control the device, and plans were hastily put in place to retake control of Praxis city centre. The faster they could change the alignment of the Foramen the better. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hexis Positions

Ghostsight’s shadow ops continue

During early 01.019M42 Commander Ghostsight continued to perform covert operations on the surface of Hexis. The planet was now entering its wet season, and small rivers and lakes had begun to appear on the surface, with ancient trees springing back into leaf, and the surface away from the city becoming covered in mosses and grasses. However, the surface remained far from verdant, although the problems caused by the dust and sand were now easing for all forces. 

On 1001.019M42 a small team of tau forces was able to penetrate the imperial lines, resupplying the small tau forward base at Valkaim gate. The tau managed to circumvent the major imperial formations but had to force their way past the imperial cult. Despite furious attacks the tau weaponry overcame imperial faith, and the small recon force were successful in their resupply effort, preparing the way for Shadowstrike’s major offensive. 

Two days later, another force of Ghostsight’s recon units were intercepted by a squad of Sky Lords well to the east of Tau held territory. It became clear that the tau commanders forces were now spread across the planet, intent on disrupting the other powers on the surface. The Sky Lords however took up strong firing positions, catching the tau team in the flank while they pushed forward. Ghostsight’s team had much more difficulty dealing with the elite astartes and very few of the tau escaped. The space marine victory ensured that the tau were prevented from further disrupting the imperial efforts behind their lines for the rest of the month. 

Chaos redirect device

While the push of Line Captain Dazkov was underway the Death Guard had repeatedly been found to be out of position, moving of their own accord through the city. Stahl had soon had enough, having grown notoriously intolerant of unreliable allies as the Emerald Serpent had found to their cost. The order came down to Warpsmith Dimas, the closest to the Death Guards latest sighting to investigate. Accompanied by the his apprentice, Sorcerer Khozarian, Thorakitai and his armoured century, Dimas intercepted intercepted the Death Guard within Old Town. Calling over all vox channels Dimas demanded in the name of Stahl that the Death Guard return to the front, to be returned only with static. With a shock Dimas realised the enhanced Augaries of Ancient Kolar detected an unusual Xenos signal within the ruins, instantly recognising the pattern as a “Key” to the Necron device, an ancient xenos artefact that would give control over the device itself. Without word the Death Guard began their slow advance, seemingly knowing at that moment Dimas had become aware of their secret. Battle was joined in late morning on 1201.019M42.

At first the tangle ruins of Old Town prevented either side from getting a clear shot, however Dimas ordered his 3 Hellbrutes forward to cover the choke point where a narrow street intersected a boulevard. The Iron Warrior Hellbrutes charged Blight Lord Terminators, and the Death Guard were unprepared to fight a foe as resilient as themselves. Hellbrutes crushed Terminators and tore hunks of flesh from their diseased bodies only for them to rise, deadened to the pain, while the maces and axes of the Death Guard severed cables and tore armour plates. The armour however would then begin to run like mercury as the Warpsmiths repair cabling took effect. It was an attritional war that seemed to favour both sides and yet neither. 

The Death Shroud Terminators advanced into the centre, along a narrow alleyway where the key was located. While Ancient Kolar advanced to a side street, spitting Butcher Cannon Rounds and supported by the Decimator war construct, the second Blight Lord Terminator squad counter charged into the Kolar. Meanwhile the Thorakitai, no match for the Death Shroud, were more adept at picking through the debris in the alleyway and snuck unseen and were able uncover the key. In response the enraged Deathshroud butchered the cloned humans, only for Dimas, now clutching the Key, and Khozarian to counter charge, momentarily pushing the first one back into the line of the Decimator’s fire. The iron warrior construct then emptied its entire ammunition store from his Butcher Cannons, reducing the terminators to chunks of necrotising flesh and armour. 

Some of the Blight Lords, after a long fight, managed to bring down Ancient Kolar, his Contemptor chassis crippled, but the Hellbrutes managed to drive back the the rest. The second squad, advancing along the same alleyway, met Dimas, who clutched the key in his fist while leveling his Meltagun, Flamer and, daemonic Bolter. The remaining Death Guard, realising that defying Stahl was now hopeless, backed away, leaving the Key in the hands of the Warsmith at last.

With the Key in Stahl’s possession and knowledge finally his, he redirected the Xenos tech to his stronghold in Enceladus, and another of his fleets set out to reinforce the system to bring fresh supplies and ammunition. If the forces of the Imperium and Alliance thought the Chaos forces spent, they were sorely mistaken. 

Tau retake western suburbs

Although a crisis had been averted for now the Alliance was still under heavy pressure to stabilise its position before commanders could even consider once again establishing a presence within the city boundaries of Praxis. Following their successes in the south the veteran special forces that had spearheaded the assault were swiftly ferried into the western suburbs by Orca dropship and once more inserted under cover of darkness. The area had been lost to Imperial forces only a week previously and Tau command hoped that the Imperial war machine would not yet have had time to entrench itself and turn the conflict to the brutal defensive meat grinder the humans seemed to favour so much.

For once it seemed the Alliance was in luck as the Stealth teams moved through the ruins unopposed by anything except roving patrols. Most of the picket forces were silently eliminated but as more failed to respond to vox Imperial commanders began to mobilise their forces and as the sun rose troops were finally sighted advancing through the streets.

The Tau's initial reaction was one of complete bafflement. Instead of the massed infantry formations they expected to meet they instead beheld men on horseback, armed with lances and wearing heavy armour like warriors from some pre-industrial age. The cavalrymen seemed completely unaware of the stealth teams concealed amidst the dense ruins and after reconfirming all available sensor data to make sure that this was not some form of bizarre trap the Tau sprang their ambush.

The first lines of cavalry were gunned down before they even knew they had encountered the enemy. As the remainder charged forward more fell but a few made it to the Tau lines, concealed cybernetic enhancements and a cocktail of combat drugs allowing them to shrug off anything but the most serious of wounds.

Those that made it fought with great valour and ferocity, laying about themselves with energy lances and power fists before the Tau battlesuits fired up their thrusters and fell back, leaving behind their dead and spitting fire into the last remnants of the charge. More cavalrymen turned up on the flanks but the initial charge had already been defeated and their approach was detected by concealed firesight marksmen. They were designated by invisible markerlight beams and the stealth teams quickly recalibrated their fire to face the new threat.

The Tau pushed forward to occupy vital strategic points without encountering further organised resistance. Although they had destroyed the main body of the attack the Tau had sustained casualties, including a might Ghostkeel battlesuit. Despite their appearance and mode of warfare it seemed the cavalrymen were not the primitives the Tau had first assumed. They also had to be constantly alert for lone survivors who would suddenly charge from the rubble and try to pick off key commanders. As the fighting subsided waiting mechanised formations once again moved in to secure the ground taken.

As Tau high command began pondering their next strikes news came in that the pathway leading through the Cicatrix to the Tau Empire had collapsed as mysteriously as it had appeared. It was clear things would have to be done the hard way if the Alliance were to realise its aims.

Operation Black Hammer

Line Captain Dazkov was absent mindedly grinding rockcrete in his fist while overseeing his Line Company take up positions. As each one took their defensive positions, his lips moved in perceptively, muttering calculations for fire patterns. It was at moments like this his mind was taken away from the pressure within his chest, the imagined one, the despair that crept upon him.

“Squad Bharkar, in the upper ruins, move Lascannon 3 47cm right, elevate Lascannon 2 3 degrees” he called into the vox, the data from their autosenses updating on his own feed.

Perfect, it was as close to perfect as he could make it, at least with Nicator and Razkho there. He could not bear their presence, two wild variables in a perfect pattern, it made him despair. It reminded him of old wars, of Istvaan, unsuspecting weaklings, running into their planned out patterns, teaching them their error for abusing them.

“Enemy sighted! Astartes Heavy Armour Column! Ultramarine thinbloods” came a call into the vox.

Armoured column, it was as expected. The firing pattern was set with an expectation of heavy counter attack, a kill box that did not look like a kill box, a crack in the stone.

“I’m attacking!” Came an arrogant hiss into the vox.

“Razkho, If you move out of position you will find yourself in a sarcophagi by my hand, do not move.”

Even Razkho was not stupid enough to openly disobey a direct order, not publicly anyway, his petulance continued over the private channel, Dazkov simply cut the link and switched to command channel, so the Line Company could hear.

“At my signal, you have your orders, we make war in the old way my brothers, not with Daemonic entities or madmen, but as proud warriors of the VI! On my signal, show Guilliman’s Bastard spawn why they should fear the Sons of Perturabo! Iron Within!”

“Iron Without!” came the bellowed reply that echoed around the city.


The cabin of the Sky Lords Land Raider was filled with a dull, jade glow from the sensorium display. Chapter Master Potitus checked the disposition of his troops and the enemy who had taken up refuge within the ruined plaza. A large number of infantry, the kind of defensive position the Iron Warriors had employed in the north against the Imperial Guard, but they faced Astartes now.

“Based upon numbers present, suspect small number of Traitor Astartes supporting a main body of human traitors” reported Sergeant Tricario.

“The Iron Warriors are using the same tactics again, driving their Cultists forward into our guns while the Marines take the real objectives.” grumbled Cyprian, “they’re in for a shock if they think that’ll work on us!”

“Aye, the sons of the Eyrie will purge them in the Emperor's name” replied Potitus.

1 minute till deployment, Potitus breathed deep, he was looking forward to this, Hexis had been hard on his Chapter, and to blood it against traitors once more would bring heart to the men.


The 9th Line Company, 3rd Grand Battalion had marched into the eastern plaza of Praxis City under the orders of Line Captain Dazkov in earliy 1201.019M42 . Dazkov had convinced his superiors of a critical weakness in the Imperial lines, the “Crack in the Stone” and was keen to exploit this it. In response to the threat, the Sky Lords launched a blistering counter attack of Terminators and Land Raiders - led by none other than their Chapter Master Lucius Potitus. Flanked by the experienced hand of Lieutenant Danae the Imperial forces were confident they could not only blunt the assault but use the Sky Lords as a spear tip to push back into the city.

The first sign that the Sky Lords plan would go awry was a garbled communique from Sergeant Decius, leader of the forward scouts. Decius warned the Sky Lords that it was not a cultist horde but in fact a whole Company of Iron Warriors marching west and to expect heavier resistance than first anticipated. Potitus was undeterred and ordered the advance, though requesting further aerial support from base. As a Stormhawk interceptor screamed overhead Danae on the Sky Lords left was the first to see the error of the Chapter Masters orders. Dazkov had spent hours preparing the perfect firing pattern now each bolt and las round expended in a symphony of destruction. As the Stormhawk Interceptor banked into its attack run 4 lascannon shots perfectly speared the duel engines with unerring accuracy sending it plummeting to the ground. Seconds later, 4 more Lascannon blasts sent the Land Raider Redeemer carrying Terminator Assault Squad Olennius careening to the left, only for a second 4 shots to punch through the now exposed side, causing explosions to rip through the internal cabin. 3 of the 5 Assault Terminators managed to tear their way free, only to be cut down by a storm of bolt and plasma rounds, again placed with unerring precision, punching fist sized craters in their armour. 

As suddenly as it had started, the firing ceased, and across in the ruins, Dazkov allowed himself a smirk of satisfaction at the destruction as his Line Company reloaded. His foe, Potitus, then ordered his own barrage, with a storm of fire from high orbit that wounded Dazkov and cut down a number of Legionaries.

“Advance” was the single order given as the IV’s left flank started to march. Storm Squad Berican were already ahead, Dazkov having callously placed them in a position to receive the now dead terminator charge. Razko was boasting that he would take the head of the Sky Lord Chapter Master.

If the Iron Warriors were expecting an easy fight they were mistaken however. The Sky Lords were no longer able to smash through but they could break their foe. On the Iron Warrior flanks scout squads broke from hiding spots to assault both sides and Terminator squad Antius tore into the middle, attacking the Chosen veterans of the Iron Warriors. Squad Antius’ bull charge into the Chosen swatted half the squad to the ground, though the attack was blunted by the equally heavily armed chosen who had power weapons aplenty to counter charge, along with the Sorcerer Nicator, eager as always to kill corpse god worshippers. Between the Chosen and Nicator 4 Terminators were cut down leaving only Sergeant Antius who deftly parried each blow, only to killed by Nicator who pulped his skull with a psychic gesture.

On the left and right - Squad Belicose’s Iron Warriors were stuck in a stalemate with the Scouts, unable to bring their Plasma guns to bear, Storm Squad Berican had no such issues however and ripped apart the young Astartes with ease. The Iron Warriors began to march towards the remaining Sky Lords once more.


Lieutenant Danae knew the situation was bad - the Iron Warriors were about to overrun the centre and the Chapter Master was refusing to yield, Potitus knew the battle was lost so why fight on? Danae banished the thought.

“To doubt our superiors is Heresy to the Emperor” he muttered, cursing himself for his doubts. They were born to fight, and they fought until they died, and that was it, the highest cause was to die slaying the Emperor's enemies.

The whip crack of displaced air and stink ozone told of another teleport strike, this time it was the enemies’ terminators who had set upon the Land Raiders - their only long range support.

“With me Sky Lords! We Slay our enemies and Reach for the Sky to his hand!” 

Danae charged speeding towards the four baroque Iron Warrior Terminators as they blazed away fire but were too slow to catch him. His chainsword, “Cruel Wing” revved to life. It was no ordinary chainsword, it’s teeth inlaid with a rare alloy that acted as a superconductor, allowing a powerfield to spark through its mass despite its complex machinery - the perfect meld of power and chainblade - perfect for destroying the foul armour and the meat inside. Lightning sparked across the blade as he took it in a wide arc and brought it down to crush the skull of his foe - the foul creature bellowed “Iron Within” as it raised its Power axe to block the blow, not fast enough to stop it, only enough to deflect it into his pauldron. The world slowed in that moment for for Danae, Cruel Wing, first cut into the pauldron like butter, passing without hindrance, but then, a black light more akin to ink boiled from inside the armour, arcing along the sword. This all occurred in a microsecond, far faster than a human could see, but to Daenae it happened in slow motion and he was helpless to stop it.

Pain speared through his body, the source, his sword. It electrified every nerve ending and every port where his body interfaced with his armour, every cell. He let go, as that was all he could do. Danae collapsed to the ground as his vision darkened with the enemy warrior standing over him, drawing the still imbedded Cruel Wing from his pauldron which ran like hot wax over the wound and closed. Daenae refused to let the darkness take him and went to draw his bolt pistol, hoping his brothers would be just behind, but they were not and the monstrous Terminator severed his arm at the elbow before he could fire. The bastard “brothers” were laughing while stabbing with their weapons, Danae’s vision a mess of falling axes as the first Terminator took his Sword two handed over his chest and drove it through his hearts.

As Danae’s vision began to fade and his blood pool into the Hexis dirt, he realised why his brothers joined him in his charge. They had not heard him, his comms must have been down without his knowledge. Only now were his brothers turning to attack as the Iron Warrior counterparts turned to face them. The laughter hadn’t stopped, Danae’s last thought was the horrifying realisation that it was not the Iron Warriors that were laughing, but, someone, something else.


The centre now belonged to the Iron Warriors, though the Sky Lords still refused to give in to the traitors. Sergeant Quirinus and his terminators moved to push into the gap where Antius fell. Dazkov, seeing his opportunity to rid himself of one irritation ordered Nicator to charge but his Chosen to hold ground, leaving the Sorcerer unprotected. Expecting support Nicator charged headlong into Quirinus, only to be backhanded by a Terminator through the air, and through the tangled mess of rockcrete and promethium pipe relays. Nicator, bloody and battered but still alive made to stand as the squad of Terminators sent a stream of Bolt shells into his position, igniting the leaking promethium in a huge fireball, seemingly killing the venomous Sorcerer. Satisfied that Nicator was dead, Dazkov ordered Squad Quirinus to be surrounded and cut down. Storm Squad Berican were unable to comply, Chapter Master Potitus and his Tactical squad had led a daring counter charge. Left and right Potitus hacked into the mutated Marines, cutting down half the squad and expecting to sweep through into the main body of Iron Warriors. Berican ordered his warriors side step to the ruins giving a clear line of fire. Against Razko’s screamed to let him take the head of the Chapter Master but the Iron Warriors, loyal to Dazkov, opened fire upon the Tactical Marines and Potitus, cutting them all down in a hail of bolt and plasma. 

Finally free to enact Dazkov’s orders, the Iron Warriors swarmed Quirinus and his Terminators who stood no chance against 40 marines armed with Chainswords, Power Swords, axes and fists.

The Land Raider Helios, following the final orders of Chapter Master Potitus, continued a dogged defence, and fighting retreat, but it was to no avail. The seemingly blessed Terminators that had been harrassing the Land Raiders for the whole battle finally caught up with it and destroyed it with a well placed melta shot. Drakov’s plan had been executed, and the Sky Lords were wiped out, with nothing to stop the Iron Warriors advancing into the ancient ruins.


Lucius Potitus was not an easy man to kill, others had learned this over his long career, and now the mad human cultists called the “Thorakitai” were learning this terrible lesson. They had arrived long after the Iron Warrior Legionaries had moved on. His Sus-an Membrane had become active as he had fallen to unconsciousness. He should have been dead, even Astartes do not endure the barrage he did, his dead brothers were testament to that. These “Thorakitai”, were accompanied by robed, partly mechanical dregs, each going to marines and painstakingly removing the Progenoids from each, Sky Lord Progenoids. He would not allow the gene-seed of Guilliman be defiled by those wretches, not while he drew breath. His blade was broken, but it did not matter, his bare fists were enough to slaughter the humans, if they could be called that anymore. He took pleasure in it, he did not look like a Sky Lord by the time he had stumbled back to the Imperial lines, the dirt, blood and gristle had stained his armour to be nearly unrecognisable. He was lucky that an Imperial Officer had read his briefing and remembered his face. He had survived the slaughter of his brothers, but there would be a terrible vengeance wrought upon the Iron Warriors


Lord Bezhok was pleased with his second in command. The Western front had expanded to the walls of the ancient fort, soon he would surround the Imperial dogs in the ruins and finish the Imperials once and for all, he gave Dazkov a wry smile.

“You have done well Dazkov, though, you have left out the casualty reports?”

“My apologies sire, I believe them beneath your interest. Casualties were light sire, 80% of the Line Company remain at combat readiness, the remaining 20% will take 1 to 2 weeks to recover from injuries or from rotation of troops from the south.”

“Anything else of note?” asked Bezhok.

Before Dazkov could say anything the door of the bunker swung open and standing there was Nicator, his armour damaged nearly beyond repair and whine of damaged servos and half functioning power plant.

“You bastard Dazkov! You sent me to die!”

Before Nicator could say anymore, the Line Captain drew his plasma pistol in one swift motion from its holster, its whine denoting that it had cycled to full power.

“Are you questioning the orders of a superior officer, ‘Codicier’”? Asked Dazkov, addressing Nicator by his old Librius title with all the venom and scorn his tired soul could manage. 

In the old Legion, before the Seige of Terra, Codicier had been a lesser rank to a line Captain, the Iron Warriors viewing psychic might as just another weapon of war. Nicator, still enraged, looked for a moment like he would lunge for the Line Captain, but his body posture changed, shrinking away from the Line Captain.

“You are dismissed, ‘Codicier’, get your armour fixed, it’s a disgrace” called Bezhok. 

He was also clearly enjoying Nicator’s suffering, who glowered darkly before stomping away.

Both the Line Captain and Commander shared a momentary chuckle at Nicator’s misery, a moment of levity among the damned.

“Now Line Captain.” Began Bezhok, but before he even begin his sentence the door to the bunker swung open again. 

“Nicator I told you to f-” began Bezhok, before realising it was Legionary Behenna. 

“Sir I bring urgent new from the eastern front! Commander Gerghaz request reinforcements, the Emerald Serpent has been overrun by Malkaor and have pushed on Old Town.”

“MALKAOR?! WHO THE F-... WHO IS MALKAOR!? Spat Bezhok almost beside himself with anger.

“New reinforcements from the Tau Empire sire! The Warsmith is aware and has said that Old Town cannot be allowed to fall” Behenna replied dutifully.

In a fit of rage Bezhok brought his fists in an overhead double handed strike down on the hololith table, shattering it into pieces.

“DAMMIT NOT AGAIN!” roared Bezhok in frustration.