Sunday, December 22, 2019

Iron Warriors brush of daemonic attack

Despite the recent attack by the Death Guard, the Iron Warriors of Warsmith Stahl still refused to leave their fortresses, content to hoard their resources, munitions and military assets to themselves.
Having not only offended the disciples of Nurgle, the god Slaanesh now demanded Stahl fight, but as before, Stahl refused.

Outraged at being denied, Slaanesh sent its daemonic host to teach to stubborn Warsmith the error of his ways. On 2112.019M42 a host of Slaaneshi daemons ambushed Stahl and his bodyguard. Clearing the distance between the two forces rapidly the Daemons chittered and giggled as they threatened the mortals, in response, Stahl ordered his warriors acquire firing solutions while marching the slaves forward to block the daemonic charge. The Iron Warriors and their mortal slaves opened fire with Chaincannon, autogun and boltgun obliterating the Seekers and Fiends in a hail of shell and Daemonic gore.

The remaining Daemons struck the mortals in a single wave and literal fountain of gore erupted from the Iron Warriors mortal slaves. The mortal slaves died screaming, the few survivors desperately trying to flee but Stahl simply activated the slaves explosive collars, killing them and some of the Daemonettes. The Daemons dominated the battlefield and it looked for a moment like they would reach Stah, but rather than falter the Iron Warriors charged forward to meet them. Daemon were cut down in concentrated overlapping fire, Terminators, ordered to reinforce the position, teleported into the centre of the battlefield and added their weight of fire to the slaughter. Stahl himself charge the Daemon Prince leading the host and tore the heart out, capturing its soul.

Just as rapidly as it started, the ambush was over, the Slaanesh Daemons wiped out for the loss of expendable mortal slaves.

Over the coming days and weeks, reports began to come out of Minos and Enceladus. Daemon forges burned hot and troop transports ferried Astartes from their fortresses. Whatever had stirred them, the Iron Warriors were, once again, marching to war. The question was, who was the source of their ire this time?

Stahl sighed as he placed the Warp flask containing the heart of the Daemon Prince alongside the squealing flask of Marcus of the Emerald Serpent.

“Will they ever let us be?” the Warsmith asked to no one in particular.

At that moment the door to his sanctum whirred open as Norros entered with the data Stahl had ordered retrieved.

“The Dark Mechanicum concur with you Lord, it can be done”

Stahl closed his eyes, for a moment feeling the full weight of 10,000 years of ceaseless war and insane entities that called themselves gods. They had left the Eye for hatred, revenge, for freedom, but only found the insanity of a universe that worshipped a corpse that equalled the insanity of the Eye. They would all burn. Everyone that had crossed the IV would burn in the fires of his vengeance. He opened his eyes and glowered at his subordinate.

“Muster the Grand Battalion Norros. Iron Within”

“Iron Without Warsmith”.

Kel Sandros unable to prevent Hussaria advance

The strategic situation for the Alliance had continued to deteriorate. Still reeling from the loss of Palantir the Tau and Federacy had been unable to prevent the Imperium counter-invading Hussaria and establishing a beachhead. Keen to capitalise on their surging fortunes the Imperium declared a holy crusade to retake those planets that had fallen under the sway of 'the heretic and the xenos'.

This further setback did little to shore up the confidence of Kel Sandros' ruling council where support for the Alliance project was rapidly waning. The prevailing mood was that it would be folly to continue to spend Aeldari lives in support of allies that had repeatedly squandered every advantage provided to them. This was further compounded by the galactic situation as a whole. Those that argued that the Rhana Dandra was imminent and that the focus should be on winning it rather than delaying it were gaining increasing traction in council debates.

In desperation those still behind the Alliance sent a warhost to Hussaria in an attempt to stop the rot. Their hope was that a clear victory would give the Alliance time to recover and counter-attack, keeping alive the dream of stabilising the region and allowing the Tau Empire to gradually supplant the Imperium.

The warhost rapidly deployed to the planet's surface and moved to head off a determined advance spearheaded by elite human soldiers. Well equipped and reeking strangely of stale incense and self-righteousness these female warriors attacked the Eldar without hesitation, singing angry dirges as they advanced relentlessly forwards. The battle was closely fought with casualties high on both sides but the Eldar gradually found themselves unable to maintain sufficient dominance of the area of engagement. Tarquil was forced to admit that this was not the clear cut victory he had hoped for and that it would be better to withdraw now and preserve his forces rather than continue to engage the humans in a battle of attrition they must ultimately lose. Events on Hussaria would only serve to re-enforce the positions of those that argued for a far more desperate path.

Emerald Serpent raze Hobbiton

General Percival, overall commander of Imperial forces in the Hadron Expanse, had retaken the Palantir system from the Alliance after heavy fighting in 11.019M42. Just weeks later, a massive fleet was detected making the translation to realspace in the outer reaches, but this was not the Alliance counter attacking. Instead, a huge chaos fleet was making its way towards the most important world in the system, Hobbiton.

Why the Emerald Serpent chose now to invade was a mystery, but the forces at the Serpent's disposal easily outmatched Percival's meagre resources. Konev and his forces were still at Hexis, now a useless scrap of a world, with all his attendant fleets and supporting logistics, while Palantir could only muster a company of Space Marines and a single Knight Lance. The Imperium had however a reserve force for just such a surprise attack, although they had expected the assault to come from the Tau system of Echo Reach. Caught rather off guard by the offensive from Boltarean, the chaos forces had landed in force on Hobbiton before the reserves could arrive, wiping out the small Imperial garrison. Once again, Hobbiton was under occupation.

The Imperial counter attack came in late 12.019M342, with the arrival of a Legio Titanicus Warhound Titan, several lances of House Corvus, and three companies of the Sky Lords chapter of space marines, led by chapter master Potitus himself. Landing to the west of the chaos positions around Hobbiton's only major city settlement, the loyalist force prepared to assault the Emerald Serpent forces at dawn the following day, while the Imperial Fleet, smaller than that of the heretics, was forced to abandon their position in support above the world. This Potitus knew would mean an orbital strike would be out of the question, and intelligence had suggested that once again the enemy were fielding a terrifying warlord titan.

The attack on Hobbiton began on 1812.019M42, with the land raiders and repulsors of the Sky Lords fanning out in front of the longer ranged knight and titan forces, while the ominous shape of the chaos warlord titan loomed out of the mist. On the imperial right flank, daemons appeared, led by the apparition of tzeentch primarch and arch traitor Magnus the Red, but his form was quickly banished back to the warp. Knight forces exchanged fire, as the Aether Striders, fighting for the Emerald Serpent, were focussed by Potitus' men and the imperial Warhound. One by one the giant walkers died to the imperial firepower, and the loyalist advance appeared to be making good ground. Casualties remained light, despite the havoc wrought by the warlord titan every time it fired its main weaponry.

However, the power of the warlord titan could not be undone. As the imperial forces reached their objectives and decimated the smaller chaos war engines, so did Astralis Invictus reach its enemy, pounding its mighty armoured fist and crushing many astartes under its feet. Land Raiders were tossed into the air by the power of the titan, and despite chapter master Potitus now ordering all available weaponry to fire at the titan, the mighty war engine's void shields flared as they deflected much of the ordnance harmlessly away. Astralis Invictus then looked slowly down at the diminutive figure belowing commands at the imperial forces. With one enormous sweep the giant power fist smashed down, crushing Potitus and his retinue, leaving nothing but a smear of blue and red behind.

The loss of the chapter master stunned the remaining imperial forces, who began to retreat to their landing zone. The imperial warhound - "Warspite" - covered the imperial retreat, but despite damaging the warlord, there was no way the smaller titan could ever hope to win a duel with Astralis Invictus. The faster imperial force managed to outpace the giant lumbering enemy titan however, and much of what was left of the invasion force managed to escape certain death at the hands of the heretic god machine.

The news of the defeat on Hobbiton and the lost of the Sky Lords' chapter master came as a shock to general Percival, and he fully expected the Emerald Serpent to go on to conquer the rest of the system in short order. They had overwhelming forces in space and on the ground, and nothing now stood between the chaos army and taking both Dale and Bree. However, the chaos forces simply remained on Hobbiton. Why Percival did not know, but he used the time to organise a relief force from Konev's army at Hexis, and planned a counter invasion for 020M42.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Massive raid lays waste to Parthenope

While the Imperium were still grinding their way forward on Mordecai Secundus, they were taken somewhat off balance by a massive raid conducted by the Emerald Serpent in early 12.019M42. The raiding force appeared without warning above Parthenop, depositing a large force of chaos marines, and traitor knights and Titan forces between the cities of Centosar and Dalisac. It was obvious that the target was the massive and secret library of Parthenope, which the Emerald Serpent had attacked in force only a year before. That time they only employed a regiment of Darrantine Guard. In 12.109M42 the force was overwhelming, and looked likely to overrun much of the Imperial world.

Fortunately the Imperium had a rapid reaction force at the ready. Just two days later, a massive force of Imperial Guard and the astartes of the Space Wolves chapter arrived to oppose the chaos force, which was now laying seige to the ancient library fortress. On the plains of Parthenope the Imperium felt sure they would crush even this mighty force, as they had the numbers. However, as they began their counter attack to relieve the library, they suddenly realised the Emerald Serpent were not alone.

Having signed a pact to share the knowledge of the Parthenope library, the Emerald Serpent had been joined by the Necron Harakhty Dynasty, and now the two sides were evenly matched. As the armies prepared to do battle on the dusty plains, the outcome was far from certain. The Imperial force immediately called for more assistance, but any reinforcements would take days to arrive. Until then, the guard, Space Wolf, Knight and titan force would need to take the fight to the enemy and break the siege before the forces of chaos breached the fortress' walls.

The Imperium attacked with aggression, but despite disciplined fire from the guard, the chaos terminators remained in their positions on a rise overlooking the battlefield, seemingly impervious to mass firepower, Meanwhile, the mighty Warlord Titan "Astralis Invictus", fighting on the side of the traitors, took a terrible toll on the loyalists, annihilating their Warhound Titan and despatching four knights.

Despite the unwavering faith and bravery of the Space Wolves, who sold their blood dearly, the imperial force was unable to break through the chaos stranglehold on the library. A single Knight Gallant did manage to break through to the Warlord Titan, but was ineffectual, meeting the same fate as his comrades. The Space Wolves made their presence felt, wiping out three daemon princes and crushing the chaos sorceror in the space of scant minutes, and even though the Shard of Magnus the Red was sent back to the warp by none other than Bjorn the Fell-Handed, the Emerald Serpent held the line easily, breaking into the Library of Parthenope and ransacking its contents.

Just days later, as the Imperial reinforcements arrived in the Parthenope system, the chaos force reembarked onto their waiting ships, after also laying waste to the nearest imperial settlements. The Emerald Serpent and the Necrons had what they came for, and the library of Parthenope stood as a lonely cratered ruin amongst the dead of both sides. Why the chaos faction had chosen this moment to launch such as massive raid against the library remained unkown, but now the forces of chaos had secrets and knowledge with which to inflict serious harm on the Imperium.

Genestealer uprising in the Deeps

In 12.019M42 the Alliance suffered dual reverses. At the same time as the system of Hussaria was re-invaded by the Imperium, a massive genestealer uprising on Lucardium in the Perseus Deeps suddenly rocked the Tau Empire. Sensing weakness, the genestealer cults had been planning their overthrow of the tau for many months, but the eldar hoped to head them off.

Having received visions of imminent xenos action, the eldar farseers drew up their forces, intercepting the cults before they had chance to assault the unsuspecting tau. However, the cult was stronger and better equipped than the eldar had anticipated, and the eldar ambush was shrugged off. The Genestealers then went on to attack and take several outlying tau settlements, routing one tau army as they moved ever inward to the central city and spaceport on the small tau colony. The cult of the four wheeled emperor had now been detected on Lucardium, Morecai and at least two other worlds in the Perseus Deeps, and a general uprising was now expected.

Imperium progress on Mordecai

With the chaos fleet vanquished in the Perseus Deeps, and the genestealer threat taken care of in the west, General Kutuzov resumed his main offensive east. The strategic assets that needed to be taken to turn the tide on Mordecai Secundus were the mines and cities, but the city of Festergax Primus and the Abrax mines first required two of the chaos defences to be taken out. First, the mighty Fortres at Abruphus would need to be neutralised, and second, the chaos defences running east to west across Kutuzov's axis of advance, their "red wall" would need to be breached and overcome.

Once again the astartes would be needed against such well defended assets. On the north, Fort Abruphus was attacked by the Hammers of the Emperor, who took the fight to the defenders, facing the Emerald Serpent and Ahriman for the first time in the Moredecai campaign. The Emerald Serpent once again showed that they would leave the Death Guard to do the main fighting, but their sorcerous tower did not prove unassailable, with the loyalist astartes smashing apart the Serpent's army defending the fortress, rendering it useless.

Further south and west the main attack went in, led by the Imperial Fists and the Salamanders. The Fists encountered stiff resistance all along the chaos defences, but with much sacrifice and losses on both sides, Captain Gregor was able to lead his yellow liveried warriors to victory, breaching the chaos wall and moving the Imperial forces forward.

On the west flank, the Salamanders had an easier time, but still had to deal with stubborn Death Guard resistance along the chaos defensive line. However, the defences crumbled from east to west as the news of the loss of Fort Abruphus filtered along the front lines. By 1712.019M42 the way stood open for the Imperium to drive into the northern mining heartlands of the planet, potentially accelerating the process of victory for Kutuzov and the Emperor's loyal followers.

Hussaria re-invaded

Following on from the success at Paradorn, the Imperium was resurgent in the Hadron Expanse, and keen to catch the Alliance on the back foot. Just weeks later, the Imperial fleet returned to the system of Hussaria, now garrisoned by units of Federal Guard.

The Hammers of the Emperor led a frontal assault on the capital Orebro, intending to take the city and rapidly advance to sever the lines of communication of the defenders before the Alliance could react. The assault however encountered much stiffer Federal resistance than was expected, and the battle around and for Orebro raged for days, with both sides taking horrendous casualties. Both sides lost their commanders in the struggle, but eventually the super-human astates warriors secured the city and established a secure perimeter. The Imperium had returned to Hussaria.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Foramen Ignotum collapses

On 1012.019M42 the reason for fighting over Hexis, the necron device powering the Foramen Ignotum, abruptly stopped working. The consequences were immediate, as the stable channel that sliced through the Cicatrix Maledictum collapsed, plunging any vessel in the channel into the madness of the warp. Thousands were killed, as were hundreds more on Hexis, as the ground above the device chamber, where many were working on analysing the energy flux from the device, or stationed nearby to protect the inner city, gave way. The earth shook for many minutes, with a force that was felt in general Konev's HQ. When the shaking stopped, the centre of Praxis had disappeared into rubble, and the energy signatures from the device had shut off completely.

Shock soon turned to recrimination in the Imperial HQ. How had this happened? Who had disabled the very artefact the Imperium had shed so much blood to control? Sadly, General Konev already knew. Days before, an Inquisition party had arrived, bearing orders from Inquisitor Vorushko, to "investigate" the device for the good of mankind. Konev had no choice but to acquiesce to their orders, and while the Grey Knights secured the device chamber, the small party made its way secretly to the device chamber and there, somehow shut down the artefact.

The Inquisition did not explain what or why they had carried out the act, but the collapse of the Foramen, they said, was "necessary" for the good of mankind and the Imperium. The inquisiton then left as quickly as they had arrived, leaving a war torn planet and the inert remains of a now useless alien device, buried under a mile of rock.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Novgorod Guard defeat Genestealers on Mordecai

The constant threat from the xenos on Mordecai could no longer be ignored, so in early 12.019M42 General Kutuzov ordered a general attack in the direction of the last known position of the genestealer cults. The Novgorod regiments formed up and began their movement to the north west, only told that their enemy were "heretic cultists". It did not matter to the rank and file whether the heretics were xenos or chaos worshippers, all needed to be purged, but Kutuzov's senior officers did receive a briefing beforehand from the Ordos Xenos, informing them of the new "cult's" tactics and likely equipment.

The attack fared well, and soon the Novgorod had established a strong perimeter, expanding the bridgehead to the north west and encountering little in the way of organised resistance. There were no chaos forces here, as the rugged foothills of the Mekken plateau were of next to no strategic value. However, the threat to Kutuzov's rear could not be ignored if he was to carry out his main assault on the Abraz complex later in the month, an operation which saw the continued build up of Knight, astartes and Titan forces, waiting for the order to attack.

The Novgorod were counter attacked less than a week into the operation, as bikers and other irregular forces once again careened into the imperial lines. The guard however continued their disciplined advance, overmatching their enemy in firepower and proving implacable in their advance. By 1212.019M42 much of the northern plains for over 200km north of Kutuzov's HQ had been cleared of the xenos threat, allowing the imperial general to plan his new phase of operations against his main foe.

Hexis: skirmishes continue

Despite the victories for the Imperium across Hexis, and the securing of the Device chamber, skirmishes between multiple factions continued in the narrow corridors and tunnels beneath the cities of Praxis and Menthoteph. Several skirmishes in the ruined cities saw the dark eldar, or Drukhari enter the fray, as the lure of battle and the varied specimens available for capture to sell on in the slave markets of Commoragh proved too much of a temptation.

The Drukhari raids were moderately successful, and the Mechanicum forces found themselves assailed by Xenos attack, while the tyranids of hive fleet R'lyeh also found themselves mere sport for the debased aliens. This stirring of the tunnels under Praxis caused the loss of several sections of the city under investigation by the Adeptus Mechanicus, as the tyranids began to infest more of the ruins. This however was of little concern to General Konev. As far as he could see the main war on Hexis was all but over, and the enemy would surely be crushed by new reinforcements setting off from Macragge.

Fleet battles at Mordecai

After the success of Admiral Stark in defeating the Emerald Serpent the imperial fleet knew the threat from the chaos fleet remained very real. Since the Mordecai invasion had begun, it had become clear that the Emerald Serpent fleet had grown hugely, and that it now posed a significant ongoing threat. To counter this, Admiral Gorshkov's fleet was added to the Mordecai expedition, stripping the Foramen of some of its defences, but the overall fleet commander felt the risks worthwuhile.

Gorshkov's fleet first encountered their chaos opponents in earlt 12.019M42 with a series of engagements. First, two battlegroups both heavy in attack craft and carriers met each other in the outer reaches. The engagement lasted for several hours, with huges battles in the space between the two fleets between the respective attack craft air wings, but the battle itself was indecisive. Both sides lost one of their carriers, but neither side was able to inflict serious damage on the other.

The tone of the battle changed in the second week of 12.019M42 as Gorshkov investigated anomalous energy readings from beyond the comet cloud of the system. Thinking this was the Emerald Serpent bringing in reinforcements the admiral was shocked to find a chaos battlegroup containing a terrifying capital vessel. Somehow the Emerald Serpent had managed to lay their hands on or build a "planet killer" class vessel, similar to the Gotterdamerung in Thok's fleet, and now the enormous juggernaut was bearing down on Gorshkov's vessels.

Gorshkov was not about to face this monster vessel, and he quickly turned his fleet around. In the process he managed to hulk a devastation class cruiser, but the initial engagement or "run to the south" was effectively and inconclusive affair. However, Gorshkov quickly surmised that the slower planet killer would not be able to pursue his fleeing ships, but that the chaos fleet would be unable to resist taking the bait and engage in a stern chase.

Predictably the chaos vessels obliged, and close to Mordecai Tersius Gorshkov turned about, facing an enemy fleet on now much more favourable terms. In this second engagement the imperial fleet scored a significant victory as the Emerald Serpent walked into Gorshkov's trap. Five chaos capital vessels were lost, including a despoiler class battleship. Gorshkov had secured yet another glorious victory for the Imperium, but it now seemed likely that the chaos forces could make good their losses. For now the fleet action at Mordecai had decisively given the Imperium the initiative, in space and on the ground.

Death Guard fail to force Iron Warriors hand

Since the Imperial “Operation Thunderbolt” in 07.019M42 the forces of Warsmith Stahl had disappeared. Returning to their fortress worlds Warsmith Lycurgus Stahl has ignored all requests for aide from Chaos forces, even other Iron Warrior warbands.

“Let them suffer and wallow in their manifold failures, I shall have no part in it” was rumoured to be Stahl words upon quitting Mordecai.

Most of the rival warbands were satisfied to be rid of the unpredictable Warsmith, who was often as likely to attack his allies in “punishment” for perceived failures as take the war to the Imperium.

Not all were willing to accept this state of affairs however.

The Death Guard had been facing the brunt of the fighting against the Imperium since the 144th’s absence, and had suffered the brunt of the casualties. Unwilling to tolerate Stahl’s arrogance, or his hoarding of resources that could go towards the war effort, the Death Guard sent a parley force to the Iron Warriors fortress on 0712.019M42.

Deploying a show of force the the Death Guard demanded the Iron Warriors “do their part” or face the consequences. The Iron Warriors made clear their opinions of the Death Guard threat by immediately opening fire with all guns available, destroying half their Plagueburst Crawlers, damaging the rest and slaughtering their Poxwalkers.

The Death Guard rallied quickly and advanced on the Iron Warriors, cutting down the forward squad with an aim to encircle the main force. Slave Workers of the Iron Warriors were forced forward as the heavy weapons of Havoc squads lay down constant hail of Chaincannon and Lascannon fire, shredding infantry and armour alike. Worse for the Death Guard, the Iron Warriors had voxed command and Stahl had personally responded with a cohort Obliterators and Terminator bodyguards, who destroyed all on the flank and were then bearing down of the Emissary of the Death guard.

The Death Guard were resilient, reinforcing their own position with Blightlords, they slaughtered yet more Iron Warriors and the remaining Foetid Bloat Drones showed supernatural resilience beyond insanity.

Yet, for all this, for mounting casualties, the Iron Warriors simply reloaded, herded their cannon fodder forward, while chanting Iron Within! Iron Without!. The Death Guard Emissary tried to rescue the situation and cut down several Iron Warrior Terminators trying to get to Stahl; Stahl in return ruthlessly cut him down along with his bodyguards.

The Death Guard were spent, and retreated with the dead and dying they could retrieve.
Rumours are abound in the forces of Chaos that this action by Death Guard has roused Stahl and his warriors from their solitude. Whether they come to attack the hated Imperium, the Xenos, or the forces of Chaos themselves for the temerity of approaching Stahl, remains to be seen.