Thursday, October 31, 2019

Paradorn shrouded by Aeldari

The Empress of Quartz was frustrated. Despite growing the Sisters of Quartz to a more well-rounded size, training a fleet of vehicles and promoting another Shadowseer, the Princess of Quartz, to their ranks, they seemed to be struck down far too quickly by any enemy they faced. However, she refused to give up, and when an opportunity arose to attempt a takeover of the Chaos-controlled region on Paradorn, the Sisters volunteered.

A battalion of Emerald Serpent was the remaining force on the planet, and they were out collecting airdrops of supplies when the Eldar attacked. The battle that followed was a bitter fight for both these supplies and for blood, with every kill the Sisters made being swiftly retaliated by the overwhelming psychic capabilities of the Chaos foe. However, in the battle of wills the Eldar reigned supreme, as every woman pressed on despite their Troupe members falling around them; intimidated by this unrelenting advance and unpredictable nature of battle style, several Chaos guardsmen fled for their lives rather than facing the laughing faces of death that approached them. 

Those Emerald Serpent that did remain, however, once again seemed to take an advantage as they kept up with the pace of the Harlequins, dodging waves upon waves of close-combat attacks that to the Sisters were normally the difference between winning and losing a battle. As the Chaos forces prepared a final barrage of psychic power, however, the Empress and Princess began to show off their own abilities, denying several attacks and retaliating with their own. Whilst the Empress was then seriously wounded, the remaining handful of Sisters stayed determined and the desperation of such a close battle caused them to become refined. Suddenly they could dodge better, dance better, and most importantly hit better. In one final push they claimed both the supplies and the victory, the remaining Chaos succumbing or surrendering, allowing the Eldar to not only take the base, but shroud the planet, and the Paradorn system entirely.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Intercepted message from Dnatha Prime

+++Incoming Transmission++++
+++++Ident Confirmed ++++
++++Agent Mathious +++++

Lord Inquisitor Hathek.

I come with ill news. The recent pacification of Dnatha has been completed however it’s stabilisations of system has been Jeopardised. As per Amalthian practice set by yourself, the Ecclisiarchy had set to strengthen its hold over the planet. The Hammers of the Emperor, having agreeable religious doctrine to the Ecclesiarchy had been called to aide in the task of ensuring stable religious observance, as per your orders and had committed a small task force to the cause headed by a Captain Kask, a fanatical, if obstinate Captain. 

On 1910.019M42 an urgent transmission from Captain Kask was received, though heavily garbled with interference. Kask was calling for emergency reinforcements after coming under heavy fire.

By the time local PDF reinforcements could arrive, the Hammers were wiped out. No initial trace of which hostiles engaged the Hammers were found, no bodies, though there was plenty of evidence to show there were casualties on the attackers.
Logis Investigatari report the enemy had lured the Captain and his command staff into what my attached Militarum describe as a “kill box”, where the officers were clearly targeted by sniper fire from an elevated position, Biologis confirm mass reactive rounds originated from elevated positions from multiple vectors.

Early indicators are the weaponry of Ultima founding origin so unless the lauded Primaris can indeed fall we are at a loss as to what has happened.

Your servant
++++++message end++++++

+++Incoming Transmission ++++
+++++Ident Confirmed ++++
++++Agent Mathious +++++

Lord Inquisitor Hathek

Apologies for the second transmission on this matter but the tidings I bear are grave. I took the liberty of employing local Mechanicus agents to try and uncover the vid capture from the Astarte Auto senses of what the locals are now calling the “Massacre”, which, I confess, I cannot naysay.
Most recordings are corrupted beyond what one would expect. Someone tried to cover their tracks, but was clearly in a hurry. Even so, the Hammers of the Emperor for the most part could not ascertain a clear ident of the assailants. However what we can ascertain is the following:
These were definitely Primaris Marines
The Livery they bear, crossed Magenta and Teal armour not unlike the Howling Griffons does not correspond to any Ultima Founding Chapter.
They emblem may be a single sword con not unlike those common to the Dark Angel successors Chapters.

With your permission, I will attempt to ascertain through restricted records

Your Servant
+++++Message Ends++++++

++++Response: Activate Access Primus Selucio++++
+++++Authorisation: =][= Lord Inquisitor Hathek+++++
+++Incoming Transmission ++++
+++++Ident Confirmed ++++
++++Agent Mathious +++++

Lord Inquisitor Hathek

The Dnatha massacre, I thought I had ascertained the identity of the Primaris Marines that attacked the Hammers of the Emperor, but, even with your access codes sire, I am sorry sire. I cannot.

The Hammers of the Emperor are incensed, they are refusing further garrison duty, stating flatly they will not sit on their hands while heretics are at large, they have pulled all their garrison troops on each of the worlds they have presence. Sire, they are launching an attack. The Ecclesiarchy are demanding a “crusade” be launched. Sire this is bad. I can confirm, the Chapter exists, ident I could only find was a cryptic reference was connected to another Inquisitorial action 57 years ago. All other information is beyond my ability to access. I cannot even find the Chapter designation.

Sire, whoever attacked the Hammers of the Emperor, another Inquisitor was involved.
Please relay further instructions.

Your servant
+++++Message Ends++++++

Mordecai Secundus: Chaos counter attack

Up till now General Kutuzov’s invasion of Mordecai Tersius had been preceding smoothly. However on 2810.019M42 the imperial army suffered its first reversal. The Iron Warriors launched a counter attack from the south, probing the imperial defences and finding their left flank - held by the adeptus mechanicus, to be the weakest link in Kutuzov’s front line. 

Attacking on a broad front the Iron Warriors achieved tactical victory, pushing the imperial front line back towards their landing zones by up to 50km in places before the attack stalled. Kutuzov continued to land fresh forces for the next assault, as he learned that the commander of chaos forces on the world appeared to be the Death Guard. This was an ill omen, as his Departmento Munitorum assistants began to steadily increase the expected attrition rates and degradation factors for the front line troops. Far from a soft target, it appeared Mordecai Secundus would be as difficult to take as any major chaos world. However, it was his duty.

Mordecai Secundus: Imperial breakout.

Having secured the bridgehead on Mordecai, the Novgorod guard began arriving in force, expanding the imperial zone of control and slowly but deliberately moving south towards the Abrax mines, a key strategic objective of the early campaign. At first resistance was light, but soon the guard found themselves up against traitor astartes forces in the shape of the Iron Warriors. 

The sons of Perturabo on Mordecai Secundus were not however those commanded by Warsmith Stahl, and the planet had become a base of operations loyal to Captain Apollodorious, who did not share Stahl’s vision for the sector or galaxy. These iron warriors relied less heavily on daemon engines, and were accompanied by what appeared to be “regular” chaos army forces, who seemed similar in organisation to the imperial guard. In addition the traitor astartes forces seemed in organisation very similar to the iron warriors of the time of the heresy. 

The Novgorod Guard were able to gain the strategic initiative early on in the engagement as they surprised and disrupted the iron warriors’ attack. Using their super heavy tanks and discipline bolstered by commissars, the Novgorod steadily overwhelmed the Iron warriors, achieving a breakout and establishing an imperial zone of control over two hundred kilometres across.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Imperium launch invasion of Mordecai Secundus

After the rather unsuccessful invasion of Mordecai Secundus by the Imperial Guard, the element of surprise had been lost. General Kutuzov was given overall command of the invasion force in the Mordecai system, and given the backing of strong and powerful fleet assets freed up from the Tarlius campaign, now that was largely won. However, the chaos fleets had also redeployed and now a force of roughly equal numbers faced each other in the Mordecai system.
The chaos forces kept close to their primary base at Mordecai Secundus, while reinforcing theor ground troops on both the remaining worlds. Only the major world was protected by the space docks and system defences however, and the traitors were not about to throw away their advantage in a battle in space on equal terms. The imperium would be allowed to try to invade Mordecai Secundus, but would have to fight for it, hopefully exhausting themselves in the process. Then, if an invasion of Mordecai Primaris was attempted, the combined chaos fleets and the space defences would strike together to crush the invasion.
Mordecai Primaris was on Kutuzov's "later" list in any event. First he wanted to secure the innermost world, rich in resources, in order to further strangle the primary chaos base further away from the baleful glow of Mordecai's malevolent star. To do this, the initial invasion was conducted by the Imperial Fists, Novgorod Guard regiments, and the Adeptus Mechanicum. The battle for Mordecai Secundus, a hot and unforbidding mining world covered in magma seas, would be fought by all the arms of the Imperial military.
The Imperial Fists landed at the same time as the Novgorod Guard, moving out from the initial beachead in the northern plains, known as the "Northern Howl" due to the fierce winds whipped up by the temperature differential between the magma seas and the northern lattitudes. Their target was the closest military installations to the imperial zone, but it soon became clear that the entire planet was heavily defended as the Imperial Fists' scouts spotted a Death guard Army - part of the "Host of Eschar" moving up to challenge the loyalist astartes.
The Imperial Fists took up positions as the Death Guard approached, destroying some of the traitor daemon engines with well placed and disciplined volleys of fire. However the nurgle devotees proved difficult to put down permanently, and before them a host of poxwalkers added to the difficulty of quickly taking down the enemy army. Air support was provided by the Imperial Fists' Storm Ravens, but these found themselves quickly under fire.
As the battle progressed the Imperial Fists started to lose their early advantage. A lord of contagion suddenly appearing behind their lines caused disruption to the Imperial battle plans, while the nurgle astartes showed themselves well able to vigorously charge their opponents, despite their shambolic appearance. One Storm Raven began to hover close to the enemy in order to maximise its firepower, but in a show of outrageous bravado, one of the Death Guard's noxious blightbringers charged the hovering vehicle, throwing his plague bell into the engine intake of the aircraft, ensuring its destruction.
These setbacks infuriated the Imperial Fists' captain, who momentarily appeared to forget his objectives. Instead of ensuring the area was secured, the astartes began to take the fight to any remaining Death Guard, apparently overcome by their desire to get to grips with the traitors. Just in time, the Fists' commander realised his error, and quickly redeployed his forces to secure the high ground and critical assets in the area. Finally exhausted, the remaining chaos host withdrew, while the astartes reflected on how close to compromising the imperial perimeter the chaos forces had come.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Hexis: Airborne operations destroy chaos base

General Konev on Hexis still lacked the resources to coordinate a major offensive on Hexis, as his armies regrouped from the sudden and horrific appearance of large Tyranid forces on the world that had cut his armies in two. In order to prevent the chaos forces from taking advantage of the imperial setback, Konev pushed forward with his bombing campaign against the chaos HQ and the Ork airfields protecting it. 

The first phase of the operation saw the imperial navy fighters take to the air to bait out the Ork fighters. This tactic was successful, and the air over the southern wastes of Hexis soon became streaked with contrails as the two sides clashed in furious aerial battles. 

The imperial pilots soon gained the upper hand, as experience and skill counted over numbers and aggression. During mid 10.019M42 the Ork fighter cover was cleared from the skies of Hexis, and on 1910.019M42 Konev sent in the bombers. 

The bombing mission, led by marauder destroyers and escorted by thunderbolts soon ran into furious Ork opposition, and this time the imperial fighters were caught escorting the slower bombers. The nimble Ork fighters dealt with the thunderbolts, but the marauders got through to attack their targets. The chaos base was wrecked and one of the Ork airstrips was knocked out of action, although the imperial bombers had difficulty hitting their targets and accuracy was poor. The remaining bombers limped back to Konev’s air bases. The raid had been costly, but the damage had been done.

Bree retaken by Federacy

The war in the Hadron Expanse between the Alliance and the imperium continued as 10.019M42 progressed. The armies at Palantir had still received no official reinforcement from the overall commander of the Hadron Expanse, as the war on Hexis and defence of the Crusade world of Awarath took precedence. 

The Alliance once again sent in House Chardonnay, who had become champions of the little people of Hobbiton, attempting to secure them a free future. The knights landed on Bree, which had reduced in its defences, ironically in order to launch an invasion of Dale some weeks earlier. The Hammers of the Emperor chapter immediately responded in force, but were savagely attacked by the enemy war engines. Charging into the astartes lines the knights caused almost as much damage at the point of their demise as they did fighting. The Hammers soon realised they could not sustain such casualties and abandoned Bree. Now only Dale remained in imperial hands.

Chaos counter raids at Tarlius

The assault on Mordecai Secundus was less successful. Due to fears of a counter attack the Imperial Fists returned to Tarlius 2 and began to besiege the Iron Warriors fortress. There they found yet another force of the Emerald Serpent. The Iron Warriors base was more than just a mighty citadel, as deep within the forces of chaos had installed their own chaos tainted device, allowing them to transfer troops directly from other worlds onto the battlefield of Tarlius. After defeating this latest army, the Fists began to construct mighty siege world around the massive chaos bastion. Taking the citadel would be a difficult undertaking, and the imperium were taking no chances. 

The withdrawal of the Imperial Fists had a serious knock on impact. The Cadian regiments dropped as part of Operation Sledgehammer on Mordecai Secundus had no way of knowing the enemy strength. Instead of a lightly defended world, arch heretek Cybixx had begun to make the world his second forge after Vandrax, and the Cadian were swiftly massacred on their landing grounds. The landing was quickly abandoned and the survivors were hurriedly withdrawn.

Imperium take Tarlius I

The assault on Tarlius I proceeded on schedule and as planned, with the Hammers of the Emperor landing directly at the defence laser installation that protected the space port from large scale attack. Imperial guard and other slow landers would be soft targets for the chaos defences, so the astartes struck first in order to eliminate the threat. 

The loyalist space marines managed to land unopposed then travel over land in an armoured column reaching the defence lasers some hours later. Resistance here was strong, as the Aether Striders and forces of nurgle put up a stubborn defence. The fighting was brutal, and in the end neither side were able to claim victory. However late on 1910.019M42 the imperial fleet drew into range of the planet. Fighting outside the void shields of the space port meant annihilation, so the chaos forces reluctantly withdrew, leaving the all important laser cannons in the hands of the imperium. 

Following this development, Bessas ordered in the main attack. Waves of Lycannon guard and House Eagleclaw Knights dropped just outside the range of the chaos defence lines then moved in for the all important assault on the space port. Once again the imperium had the strategic advantage, but had to dislodge the enemy from their positions behind the void shields. 

The imperial force faced stiff resistance from Cybixx’s traitor mechanicum, but the loyalists gradually pushed the enemy back, taking key objectives early in the battle. Eventually, by 2110.019M42 the chaos forces had retreated to beyond the cover of their void shields, and the imperial navy mopped up the stragglers with a devastating show of firepower. Tarlius I had been captured. Now Stahl’s fortress remained the only chaos stronghold left in the system.

Operation Sledgehammer

Following the capture of Tarlius II the Imperium has reached a new high point in their campaign in the system. Never before had they managed to restrict the forces of chaos to the innermost system, and overall commander Martin Bessas was eager to strike at the last remaining system and its all important space port. 

In order to split the chaos defences, and with agreement from Titus Luthor himself, a joint operation in the Foramen and Perseus Deeps was drawn up. At Tarlius, the Hammers of the Emperor would target and take out the chaos ground defences, while the Lycannon Guard and House Eagleclaw would launch an all out assault on the space port, effectively taking out all resistance on the planet. 

The Imperial Fists and the Cadian 9th would then simultaneously strike at Mordecai. This attack - on Mordecai Secundus, was preceded by a bombardment from space and a fleet movement, shadowed by the forces of chaos, and effectively preventing the chaos fleets from interfering at Tarlius. Operation Sledgehanmer began on 1810.019M42.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

West Tarlius cleared by Hammers of the Emperor

The last phase of warfare in the Western Hemisphere of Tarlius II was conducted by the Hammers of the Emperor, who took on the responsibility of clearing forces loyal to Cybixx from their prepared positions. 

The astartes scouts managed to get close to Cybixx’s lines to monitor their enemy, before the Hammers launched their attack with a narrow armoured thrust. The mechanicum defenders quickly took out the astartes heavy tank support, but this gave the imperial devastator units time to deploy from rhinos and unleash devastating volleys of fire into the enemy robot constructions. 

Meanwhile the Hammers’ scouts dealt with Cybixx’s hover bike “constructions”, before the heretic forces unleashed their Onager Dunecrawlers into the heart of the Hammers’ lines. The astartes veterans responded, and a melee developed which overwhelmed the mechanicum walkers. 

Having broken the main enemy counter attack, the Hammers managed to finally claim their objectives, so that the following imperial guard could exploit the breach and shatter the remaining chaos resistance in western Tarlius. Both sides took significant casualties, and the commanders on both sides were killed, with the Arch Magus being annihilated by lascannon fire after the tank he was hiding behind blew up.

Some claimed this was Cybixx himself, but reports of his certain demise had been reported before, only for him to return at another location, sometimes light years away. As the chaos forces in western Tarlius were crushed, the loyalist mechanicum began to wonder whether Cybixx had strayed into the forbidden dark heresy of mind bio transference.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Imperial make gains on Tarlius II

Martin Bessas, commander of Imperial forces in the Foramen Interdictum was keen to continue recent advances in the Tarlius system. Avoiding the difficult task of unloading entire Imperial Guard armies and risking a chaos fleet intervention, Bessas relied on his elite forces to crush the chaos forces on the barren wastelands of Tarlius II, a world that had seen unimaginable horrors already in the previous years of fighting in the Foramen. The Iron Warriors had still not shown their hand, but rather than assault their fortress directly, Bessas agreed with his council of war that the other chaos forces should be dealt with first, in order to isolate Stahl's men in their citadel.

To this end the knights of House Corvus began the sweep west from the astartes bridgeheads, crossing the plains of Tarlius and hunting out areas of resistance. One industrial area, of the few that were scattered across the otherwise worthless planet, was clearly of strategic importance, and the knights were charged with capturing vital supply caches which would cripple the ability of the traitor forces to conduct effective coordinated operations against the imperium.

The knights did not know the exact location of the supply dumps, but began their move on the industrial area confident that their firepower would overwhelm their enemy. As the Death Guard appeared, along with a large number of heretical daemon engines, the mighty Castellan war engine opened fire. Unfortunately, its targeting systems seemed to malfunction, as the impact of the knight's initial volley was next to negligible, although one rocket did manage to land a damaging salvo on one of the enemy war engines.

In response, the Death Guard advanced, but they too suffered a number of equipment malfunctions, as their blight grenades appeared ineffective against even the smaller knights fielded by the Imperium. The Imperium however had the crucial stroke of luck which meant the engagement would end with victory for House Corvus. Their attack had - completely by chance - attacked from the direction of the main chaos supply caches, and the devotees of nurgle had hardly been able to react to the attack before finding that their supplies had been captured by the enemy. Facing the might of three helverins and a fully functional Castellan, it was always going to be unlikely that the chaos force would be able to recapture the cache without being obliterated by the Dominus class knight.

Eventually House Corvus made good their malfunctioning ordnance, and the Death Guard took horrendous casualties as they tried in vain to dislodge the enemy war engines. After hours of hard fighting the remaining traitor forces quietly withdrew, allowing the Knights to secure a haul of promethium and ammunition which crippled the traitor forces' ability to defend the eastern plains of Tarlius II.

The Knights reported their engagement to Bessas and the war council, but on finding that House Corvus had not annihilated the nurgle force and it was now retreating across the western hemisphere along with daemon engines, the Grey Knights took matters into their own hands. Dropping to the west of the retreating enemy host, the expert daemon hunters ambushed the nurgle force and utterly destroyed it, punching a giant hole in the already stretched chaos defences. The remaining chaos forces on Tarlius II retreated to settlements and low hills in the west, where Arch Heretik Cybixx had prepared a defence line, or tried to get to the protection of the Iron Warriors' citadel which dominated the flat plains in the equatorial region. The remaining stragglers were mopped up by astartes patrols. The war on Tarlius had certainly now swung in favour of the Imperium.

Tyranid and Genestealer uprising on Hexis

For months the Imperium had been dealing with a "minor" alien infestation on their northern flank on Hexis, but in reality the expeditions into the wastes north of Menthoteph had barely scratched the surface of the reality of the growing hive mind on the planet. Bolstered and reinforced by an emerging Genestealer cult, dedicated to the worship of their god "R'Lyeh", the tyranids were now ready to put into action the second phase of their alien plan.

On 1410.019M42 a massive tyranid force surged out of the wastelands and immediately overwhelmed the Imperial Guard picketing force on General Konev's northern positions, while genestealer cults conducted spoiling raids across the Imperial lines. In one of these raids, an Adeptus Mechanicus patrol was overwhelmed near to the Nuclear Artillery, and critically the artillery was briefly overrun by the cult. Konev was now unable to turn the artillery on the attacking Xenos, and he appealed to the astartes for help in containing the offensive. The Ashen Sons chapter, a successor to the Salamanders, responded, and to the north of Menthoteph a critical engagement took place. For hours hive fleet R'Lyeh sent wave after wave of bio constructs and alien infantry against the space marines, and eventually the numbers told. Before Konev was able to set up a coherent defense line, the astartes defence had collapsed, and the Xenos were swarming across the plains to the east of Praxis.

Konev had no choice but to withdraw his forces in order to re-establish control and coordination. Gradually the tyranid advance ran out of momentum, but by the end of 1910.019M42 the imperial forces on Hexis had been cut in two. Konev's 1st army was now separated and cut off from Andreyivich's 3rd army in the south east, and the nuclear artillery had been lost. On the eastern outskirts of Praxis, the tyranids had reached the chaos lines, and the situation on Hexis had now become extremely confused.

Ork Air Force defeated on Hexis

Returning to the air once more, the imperial navy thunderbolts flew several sorties over the Haknur plateau in mid 10.019M42, in order to gather more intelligence, but also to deal with the emergent threat of the Ork air waagh that had now joined the forces of chaos. Given the distance of the new Ork air bases and chaos headquarters, Konev had been drawing up plans for a bombing campaign against these enemy installations, but first he needed to establish air superiority. 

Several of the sorties drew a blank, but eventually the orks were baited into fighting. This was an error, as Konev had made sure his most experienced navy pilots would be sent against the naive orks, and in the twisting air battles that followed, the orks found themselves at a disadvantage over and over again. Even when the orks did get clean shots at the imperial fighters, their shots were wild, or the rugged frames of the imperial craft simply shrugged off the impacts of heavy bolter fire. 

By the end of 1410.019M42 the air campaign was going well. Since this new phase began, no imperial losses had been incurred, although some craft had been damaged, while the orks had been cleared from the sky each time they engaged. However, this was only a prelude to the real objective, the bombing of the enemy bases.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Corticant: imperium probe eldar defences

Many months had passed since the Imperium and eldar forces clashed on Corticant, the world on which the very device holding the Foramen Interdictum open was in place. The eldar still held the device chamber and much of the planet was under the control of the Xenos. Instead of a standing army however, any attempt to move into the Aledari controlled zones was met swiftly by xenos attacks, and General Veers, starved of resources as the focus shifted to the Foramen itself and the war in the Hadron Expanse, was unable to conduct any meaningful offensives to change the situation.

In mid 019M42 the Hammers of the Emperor, now fully re-equipped and deployed at near chapter strength in the Aleph Sector, sent a company to Corticant. They knew they did not have the numbers to immediately take control of all eldar held territory, but they agreed with Veers that a series of engagements could gradually eat away at the eldar zones, forcing the aliens to decide just how much they wanted control of the device chamber. The eldar had not tampered with the device nor removed it, and it was unclear how hard they would fight to retain possession of it.

The Hammers launched patrols along the Iron Road towards the abandoned town of Ironhaven, finding the wreckage of imperial equipment and buildings from previous engagements. At Ironhaven the eldar attacked. A mix of craftworld and harlequin forces faced the astartes, and the fighting was intense. However the eldar suffered at the hands of the emperor's finest and their initial attacking force was wiped out. The Hammers themselves took casualties, including their commander, but as the space marines prepared for a second wave, they received intelligence that eldar forces following up were now retreating back across the Arid Plateau. Clearly the Aeldari had decided that the Imperium could have Ironhaven, at least for now, but would the xenos forces become more resolute as Veers and his new supporting marines moved ever closer to the Device Chamber?

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Hexis Current Positions

  • Greghaz is cut off in Menthoteph as the Orks are pushed out by Imperial scouts and Tau kill teams
  • Chaos Pact base is rebuilt in the east after successful air raids and Death Guard skirmishes
  • R'lyeh remains a threat in the Imperial north east

Air war over Hexis

Having received intelligence that the chaos forces were constructing a new base of operations on the Haknur plateau, general Konev was desperate to receive accurate information as to the nature and strength of any new installations. The mechanicum had failed to infiltrate the chaos lines, having been massacred by the Death Guard, so Konev turned to the navy. 

The imperial navy were confident they could overfly the chaos base and gather information, as they were unable to penetrate chaos shielding and heavy cloud from their ships in space. They didn’t expect any serious opposition in the skies over Hexis, as no significant chaos Air Force had thus far been encountered. However as small squadrons of Thunderbolt fighters began missions to overfly the plateau, swarms of Ork Dakkajet fighters rose up to meet them, shocking the imperium with their speed and eagerness to engage their opponents. 

The first two missions to overfly the chaos lines met with disaster as the Thunderbolts were shot down by the reckless Ork fighters. Many Ork aircraft were shot down in turn, but there were always more. Eventually one squadron got through and sent back images to Konev. In the ruins of an old city on the Haknur plateau, the chaos base had been built anew, with fortifications and, to the concern of imperial high command, a fully operational Ork airfield. The chaos forces lacked air cover, but the orks it seemed were quite content to fight for the forces of chaos, so long as they were given a chance to fight an enemy.

Astartes take back ground at Palantir

With the defeat of Federal forces on Bree, the Hammers of the Emperor decided to go on the offensive in the Palantir system, despite the lack of strategic assets available to the imperium in the Hadron Expanse. Their target was Dale, and extremely sparsely populated world of farmers with little in the way of natural resources, but strategically significant in controlling the system.  Palantir’s jewel was Hobbiton, but the imperium lacked the strength to retake a world of a hundred million. The astartes however feigned an invasion of the major world, and this display of strength forced the alliance to concentrate on its defence, leaving Dale wide open. 

The Hammers easily took control of the critical locations on the world, but the alliance reacted quickly, sending in the highly mobile tau to remove the invaders. There was no front line as such, instead the two sides fought a series of running mobile battles across the rolling landscape of Dale in the first week of 10.019M42, but the astartes refused to play into their enemies hands, maintaining a defensive posture around the planet’s key locations. 

Eventually the tau were forced to conduct a frontal assault on the Hammers’ positions, and this suited the space marines force. Lacking their own fleet support, the alliance were unable to bring to bear overwhelming force, as they were still unsure whether the invasion of Dale was the main invasion or a diversion. The tau were defeated at a small settlement which passed as the capital of the world. The alliance made no immediate move to reinforce this difficult position, and continued to fortify Hobbiton until they could establish the strength of imperial assets in the Palantir system.

Skirmishes continue on Hexis

The front lines on Hexis had gone quiet following the recent imperial advance, at least from a strategic perspective, but all sides continued to conduct smaller scale operations as 0410.019M42 began. 

The largest engagement occurred in the blasted wastelands south of the ruins of Menthoteph as a squad of Ashen Suns astartes - new to the sector - began a sweep into the no mans land between the imperial and chaos front lines. South of Menthoteph, the orks - allied to chaos - still remained, and the space marines soon ran into mobs of roving greenskins. The orks weren’t alone however, as it soon became apparent that other creatures were lurking amongst the ruins. With lightning speed the xenos attacked, horrific hybrid creatures part Tyranid part human. Clearly the genetics of hive fleet R’lyeh had now mixed with those of man, producing a genestealer cult which the Ashen Suns had now discovered. In truth, for months the stream of deserters on both sides of the front line had been seduced by their new deity - R’lyeh - and now the Tyranids had found a more insidious way to spread their tendrils across the battered world. 

The genestealers were quickly dealt with, caught in the crossfire between the space marines and orks, but the marines in particular struggled to hit their marks, and once the genestealers had withdrawn, they entered into a protracted and ineffective firefight with the greenskins. Then the tau struck. 

The appearance of alliance forces on the battlefield was a surprise, as the imperium had mistakenly believed that all tau and eldar forces had withdrawn with the federacy, but in reality small teams of tau and eldar had remained behind, intent on harassing their enemies and causing destruction out of proportion to their force commitment to Hexis - a world the alliance no longer had interest in. 

The tau attack swiftly dealt with the orks, clearing them from the field, before turning their attention to the remaining imperial forces. The astartes found themselves no match for the xenos special forces, much to the despair of their commander, and despite taking down the tau crisis suit, the tau forced the astartes in turn to retreat northward. 

The tau didn’t remain in place however. Satisfied at the disruption caused, the alliance force left, and the Grey Knights found no trace of the enemy as they followed up behind the Ashen Suns. Penetrating deeper, and cutting off a portion of the chaos forces near the old fort, the Ordo Malleus astartes did come into contact with a small team of heretic mechanicum, blasting them apart and securing general Konev’s southern front.

Further west, imperial intelligence suggested that the chaos forces were rebuilding their bases on the Haknur plateau, out of range of Konev’s nuclear artillery. Concerned at these reports, the mechanicum sent a force in order to investigate. However, the Death Guard responsed robustly to the infiltration by imperial forces, wiping out the scouting group. General Konev would have to find other methods to find out the extent of the new base being constructed by the enemy.