Friday, August 28, 2020

Hobbiton invaded by Death Guard

While the focus of imperial attention remained firmly fixed on the Mordecai theatre, general Percival remained in overall command of the Hadron Expanse theatre. Overall his forces had been depleted, with most guard formations being concentrated with Konev's army on Hexis. Hussaria had been lost, but the Imperium still held onto Goreen, Arawath and Vanir. Although the strategically important system of Palantir now had a chaos presence on Dale, Percival had his eyes fixed towards the Tau empire and its allies, as his intelligence suggested that the Emerald Serpent at Boltarean was no longer a threat.

Percival was unaware however of the Death Guard's ambitions in the Hadron Expanse. Rather than simply aid the forces at Mordecai, Mortarion's children had decided to spreadh their forces widely to maximise the pressure - and plague - they could spread. It came as a complete surprise to Percival when in late 08.020M42 the garrison commander of Hobbiton reported an invasion by plague marines.

The Death Guard were supported by the fleets of Thok, not the Emerald Serpent, and Admiral Craddock was forced to withdraw. The Imperial Navy could not risk a space battle with so much of their strength supporting Kutuzov at Mordecai. The garrison was quickly overun but fortunately the Space Wolves were in the vicinity and organised their own counter offensive. The Wolves initially surprised the traitor astartes who had not been expecting such a response from the Imperium, but the stubborn and unnatural durability of the plague marines eventually carried them to victory, and the Space Wolf counter attack faltered. By the end of 08.020M42 much of Hobbiton had once again been overrun by chaos forces, and Percival was facing a war on two fronts, with limited resources.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Malkaor's Tau establish foothold at Boltarean

In the Hadron Expanse the Tau and alliance forces had been regrouping and refitting following their success at Hussaria. Now they were once again ready to prosecute the war once more, establishing the Hadron Expansion Sphere for the greater good. On their list were the imperial systems of Arawath and Palantir, but the war between the chaos forces and the Imperium on Hobbiton indicated to the Tau command that the chaos forces in the subsector could not be ignored.
Malkaor suggested a considered plan. Instead of an all out assault against the chaos forces, he proposed to set up a base in the Boltarean system on the outer planet of Portega. Weakly defended, this world should fall rapidly, as the ice planet only had a few inhabited zones. If a base could be set up here, then a way-station built, the chaos forces of Boltarean could be effectively bottled up, allowing the Empire to expand without interference.

The plan was approved, and Malkaor's appearance at Boltarean caught the defenders completely by surprise. A Darrantine regiment had been posted to defend the outer world, equipped with a Deathstrike missile system intended to obliterate anything that came too close for comfort. Malkaor's troops were too swift and too brutal however, and the battle was over before the countdown sequence had even completed. The Deathstrike never fired, and the outer planet of Portega fell to the Tau. Part one of the Tau plan to neutralise chaos in the Hadron Expanse had been completed.

Mordecai: Novgorod and Imperial Fists stabilised eastern front


Following the loss of territory on Kutuzov's eastern front, the forces of chaos were keen to keep up the momentum before the imperial armies could regroup and form a new defensive line. The Emerald Serpent forces were already over extended to the north, so it fell to the Death Guard to keep raining blows on the beleaguered Mordecai Invasion Army. 

The Death Guard advanced from the south, but their advanced was slowed by the difficult terrain of lava fields to the north of the Abrax mines. This allowed Kutuzov to react, and he began to deploy his faster moving Novgorod Cavalry regiments to oppose the enemy axis of advance, but even that would not be quick enough. The imperial armies needed time to prepare their lines, and only the astartes could blunt the traitor legion's advance and prevent a breakthrough that would threaten Kutuzov's HQ and supply areas.

The Imperial Fists took up the challenge, fighting a series of defensive engagements culminating in a major battle to the north of the Abrax lakes. The Death Guard attack was halted, giving the Imperium enough time to prepare their own counter offensive. The Fists withdrew from the line and Kutuzov gave the order for the cavalry regiment to attack. After a sustained artillery bombardment and an armoured push which softened up the already weakened Death Guard army, the Novgorod general deployed his cavalry and charged.

On the imperial left the cavalry made good progress, overrunning the chaos forces and penetrating deep into their rear areas. However, on the right, a unit of Myphitic Blight-hauler, blessed by the psychic energies of nurgle broke the imperial charge. This posed a serious threat, but the second line of infantry held firm until the Novogorod colonel could swing his cavalry around to help ease the pressure. By 2908.020M42 it was clear that the Death Guard had not achieved their objectives. Kutuzov's new line had held, and the Imperial Fists began helping the creation of a series of fortified positions. Meanwhile, the Imperium looked for ways to improve Kutuzov's desperate supply situation.

Tyranids beaten back on Hexis

On Hexis, the battles continued to rage despite the fact the world itself was no longer of any value. The Lysis system still marked an important way-station astride two warp lanes however, and control over the system would allow further expansion in the Hadron Expanse in the future. More importantly the armies of general Konev were under orders to prevent the tyranids from gaining any method of leaving the planet. R'lyeh appeared to be without a hive fleet, but was searching for a way off the world. If they found one, and managed to reach a world or worlds with rich biomass, the end results could be catastrophic for the Imperium.

In order to secure his own defensive position, Konev ordered his Gregorian airborne regiments to secure the hotly contested no mans land between Menthoteph and Praxis. The airborne regiments went in, hoping for a swift success, but what followed was an attritional struggle described by the Gregorian commander  as a "hot mess for the ages". The battle was bloody and expensive for both sides, but eventually the Scions, helped by the support of an Imperial Knight, were eventually able to secure the corridor between the two cities, joining up the two imperial sectors and forcing the tyranids back to the badlands to the north of the ruins.

Aeldari continue search for Nexus Arrangement

The aeldari continued their search for clues for the nexus arrangement in 09.020M42, raiding several imperial bases across the Hadron Expanse causing significant disruption to general Percival’s logistics train, particularly damaging a force of Scions who were being held in reserve. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Mordecai: Kutuzov's east flank collapses

Following on from the assault in the south, the chaos forces on Mordecai struck again in mid 08.020M42. Having secured the Sathugar mines, they now faces significant defences on Kutuzov's southern flank. In order to continue the advance, the Emerald Serpent led by Ahriman himself disguised a number of troop movements to the eastern front of Kutuzov's lines. Here, away from the strategically vital locations near the lava fields near the equator, the imperial defence was more thinly spread, defended by screening patrols with the Imperial Fists acting as a rapid reaction force in case any offensive should come from this quarter. The Emerald Serpent intended to take a swathe of territory in the east, which while having no strategic value in itself, would force general Kutuzov to divert forces away from the vital southern front, or risk his headquarters at Fort Vengeance being outflanked.

The chaos assault started well, as the Emerald Serpent made swift gains, but the Imperial Fists put into action a well drilled counter offensive in order to block this move, surround the attacking forces then reduce them peicemeal. Ahriman saw the threat as the astartes took key objectives in this counter assault. Unless he acted personally and immediately, the chaos offensive would collapse and his plans would be undone.

Ahriman and his trusted exalted sorcerer travelled to the heart of the fighting. By this stage the Imperial Fists were in control and the chaos assault had stalled. Making himself as visible to his troops as possible, Ahriman personally took the lead, cast psychic spells to propel him into battle with a squad of Primaris marines, and cut down his enemies with a mix of tzeentch sorcery and his own will. Meanwhile, his sorcerer comrade was equally valiant, using his own mastery of the warp to materialise next to a squad of bikes that held a vital flank, charging them with aplomb and cutting them apart with his martial skill.

Seeing the acts of the two sorcerers of Tzeentch, the forces of chaos rallied, and the Imperial Fists knew their plan to envelop the attacking enemy forces had been undone by the timely intervention of two heretics. The astartes withdrew, ordering the rest of Kutuzov's eastern front to retreat to a more defensive line. Ahriman smiled, knowing that Tzeentch himself has been with him on the battlefield in order to change fate itself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ynnari uncover necron secrets on Grimlock

In the Zadoc subsector the Ynnari had finally established the location of the missing device. They already had the device from Corticant, the one located previously at Hexis and they had gained control of a third at Einmyrria. Yvraine knew there were five in total, and that the last would be the hardest to retrieve, the device taken and perverted to the service of the dark gods by the forces of chaos. Once she had all five, the next phase of her plan could start, using the devices against her true foe, the chaos god Slaanesh. It pained her to have to use the artefacts of the ancient enemy in this way, but for the Ynnari to obtain the last Crone Sword from the Palace of Slaanesh, they represented hope of achieving the Seventh Path.
Before tackling the problematic fifth device, the Ynnari needed to locate the fourth missing device, lost by the inquisition during a space battle with the Emerald Serpent. By 08.020 the Aeldari faction had located the missing artefact, which had phased out to it's ancestral resting place on Grimlock. Now, they only had to defeat the forces of chaos to retrieve the inactive device.
The Ynnari struck the chaos forces around the entrance to the tomb complex on Grimlock. Realising at last what Yvraine was pursuing, the Thousand Sons under the direct orders of Magnus the Red, immediately countered this move. The tzeentch worshippers had no particular love for Slaanesh, but the Master of Change did not want the Ynnari to succeed in their plans. The Thousand Sons attacked the Ynnari but were soon counter attacked themselves by the sudden appearance of Harlequin forces. These supreme elite warriors of the Laughing God used their superior mobility and agility to run rings around the Rubric Marines, and the force sent to intervene in the Ynnari plans was wiped out. Yvraine now controlled four of the necron devices, only one remained. First however, the Ynnari needed to stop the other races from obtaining the Nexus Arrangement.

Chaos offensive retakes the Kuneus coast on Mordecai

With Kutuzov's armies strangled by lack of resources, the forces of chaos once again launched a series of powerful offensives as 08.020M42 progressed, pressing hard against the imperial defences. In the south, on the coast of the Kuneus Traps, Death Guard and Thousand Sons forces managed to make a breakthrough, pushing the imperial army away from the shore and retaking much of the Sathugar mines.

The Death Guard forced the opening in Kutuzov's lines by battering the imperial defences held by the Valdograd mechanised guard regiments. Hosts of nurglings were thrown into the attack, and despite the Valdorgrad being equipped with heavy flamers on their chimeras, they were unable to clear the diminutive daemons fast enough. While occupied with the nurglings, the Death Guard Artillery conducted particularly effective and accurate counter battery fire, neutralising the imperial Basilisks and Manticores. With the Valdorgrad army tied up with daemons and unable to effectively counter the traitor legion from afar, the Death Guard had forced an opening in the imperial defences.

 The Emerald Serpent now exploited this gap in Kutuzov's lines, breaking through and rushing into the imperial rear. As the imperial guard withdrew to a defensive line further north, the Hammers of the Emperor tried to blunt the advance of the chaos forces. At the spearhead of the chaos advance were the two daemon primarchs themselves, Mortarion and Magnus. their appearance together on Mordecai showed the power of Astralis and the determination from the chaos side to retake the system for the dark gods. The Hammers pressed their attack anyway, managing to force both daemon primarch's back into the warp, but this was not enough. Later on, Kutuzov threw in his own mobile reserve in the form of airborne Scion formations, but these two were cut to ribbons by the chaos forces now moving up through the breach in the imperial lines. The Sathugar mines had been lost, and imperial command was forced to hastily prepare new defences facing the new threat to the south.

Ynnari raid Imperial bases

Even thought the Ynnari were now well on their way to finding the secrets of the Nexus Arrangement and the missing chaos device, the psychically attuned perception detected that the Imperium may still impede them. In order to tip the skeins of fate in their favour, the Ynnari launched a series of raids against the Imperium, with the main action falling upon a growing build up of Tempestus Scions forces on Hexis, who they believed were guarding important information as to the overall imperial intentions. To ensure the battle went favourably, the Ynnari sent in Aeldari forces, who deftly and deliberately gave away their positions, inviting the Scions to launch an attack.
The Scions took the initiative, moving their aircraft aggressively into the Aeldari lines. However, they found the Xenos vehicles to be surprisingly durable and hard to hit and merely scratched their paint work. The Aeldari counterpunch was swift and brutal taking out several air assets and the scions that dropped from their transports. The imperial forces reacted, trying to regroup and execute a  second all out push with reinforcements joining the main force. Just like before however, their efforts failed to gain them any ground, only managing to fell a small hover craft and a single small wraith construct.
The Aeldari once again capitalised on their opponents' vulnerable position, and their shooting was so devastating as to allow no further resistance from the elite Scions. The Aeldari mopped up the remaining imperial units and acquired the vital intelligence from the data terminals at the site. Everything was once again going according to the Ynnari plan.

Fleet action at Mordecai throttles Kutuzov

As Kutuzov struggled to keep the forces of chaos at bay on the ground, the imperial fleets at Mordecai had been in a tense standoff with the battlegroups of the Emerald Serpent for some time. Only limited supplies were getting through, as the Mordecai space docks prevented the imperium from asserting any kind of control over the inner system. With the arrival of the daemon world Astralis, this became all the more difficult.
In early 08.020M42 Admiral Gorshkov decided to run the blockade, hoping that a small battlegroup would be able to draw off the Emerald Serpent's fleet long enough for a significant convoy to get through. As his battlegroup travelled towards the inner system, an enemy force came out to meet him from the protection of the docks. Gorshkov attacked agressively, but his carriers and cruisers mistimed their launches, and instead of a combined wave of coordinated torpedoes and bombers, the imperial ordnance went in piecemeal. The bombers were subject to heavy turret fire, and many of the torpedoes were shot down before impact. Having failed to land a decisive blow, the imperial cruisers were now subject to a withering hail of return fire from the heavy guns and lance batteries of the Emerald Serpent vessels. Using an asteroid field, Gorshkov was able to escape the vice he now found himself in, but three capital ships recieved heavy damage.
On the chaos side, their was only light damage. Realising this battlegroup now threatened the convoy, Gorshkov abandoned the operation. Kutuzov's forces on Mordecais Secundus would remain desperately short of food, fuel and ammunition, just as the chaos pact of the Emerald Serpent and Death Guard prepared to launch another major offensive.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Mordecai "Battle of the Bulge" straightens Imperial line

Following the chaos breakthrough in the middle of the Imperial line, a dangerous salient had developed that threatened to cut the Imperium off from the southern part of their controlled territory, isolate the southern forts and deliver the Sathugar mines back into chaos hands. Kutuzov knew that a major offensive was out of the question given the state of the Imperial strategic situation, but a local counter attack was possible, and the salient gave him the opportunity to do so.

On the nothern flank of the salient the the semi mechanised Novogorod Hussars were employed, striking a deep thrust into the chaos held territory with their tanks followed for the first time with large cavalry formations. As they pushed south towards their objectives, the imperial forces soon met major resistance in the form of the Death Guard, and air support was used extensively, with Voss pattern lightnings swooping down to destroy the traitor astartes rhinos. This allowed the plague marines to be whittled down by imperial guard armour and general fire, before the cavalry dealt the final blow. The Hussars reached their objective on time, and half the salient was cut off. Now everything hinged on the southern pincer attack.

In the south of the "bulge, the Hammers of the Emperor had to contend with a lance of chaos knights. Charging in using their impulsors, the Hammers took punishment from the longer range chaos weaponry, and the lead repulsor executioner was unfavourable exhanged for just one War Dog. However, once the Hammers had closed the range and were able to engage in close combat, the superhuman strength and combat weapons of the combined astartes company were more than a match for the chaos war engines. With the chaos knight lance defeated, the chaos defences were penetrated, and the Hammers met the Novgorod on the shores of lake Talissa on 0108.020M42. The net had closed, and within a week the trapped chaos forces in the pocket, mostly cultists, had been eradicated. Kutuzov's line was straightened, and the Imperial general once again began entrenching his forces in order to resist further attacks. Meanwhile, the Imperium searched desperately for a way to improve the strategic situation.

Fort Diligence falls to Death Guard

On Mordecai the forces of chaos continued to pile on the pressure as 08.020M42 began. Fighting was incessant along the entire front, but generally the line in the south had held. In order to prevent Kutuzov from moving reinforcements for a counter attack at the newly created salient in his lines, the Death Guard once again attacked along the southern coast of the lava sea known as the Kuneus Traps. Here the fighting reached a crescendo around the first line of defence at Fort Diligence, as the elite forces of the Death Guard were opposed by the Hammers of the Emperor.
Preferring to meet the attacking traitor astartes in open battle rather than risk a prolonged seige, the Hammers blocked the only path to the fort. The Death Guard, eager to take the fight to their bitter loyalist enemies obliged, and a bloody struggle erupted in front of the gates af the fortress, as the Hammers' indominus bladeguard fought to the death against Death Guard terminators. Plague Marines and even a Daemon Prince of nurgle joined the fray, and gradually the Hammers' defence was worn down. As chaos units on the flanks mopped up any other resistance, they too joined the colossal struggle in the centre. Eventually the Plague worshippers, with their unnatural resilience, outlasted the loyalist astartes, and with no way to supply the fort, Kutuzov ordered it to be abandoned.

The loss of Fort Diligence was a blow, and the fort itself was turned over to the ruinous powers, becoming a sick parody of its former self, a plague fort. The penetration by the chaos forces was however limited by Kutuzov's strategic planning, and now the focus shifted north, to the chaos "bulge" that had developed.

Ynnari prevent Imperial Fists accessing Webway

While the Ynnari were preparing their raid on Grimlock, the Imperial Fists were making their own attempts to wrestle back control of the Device stolen from Hexis. The Fists had intelligence of the location of the device, deep in the webway. However, this did not stop the astartes chapter from attempting to invade the secret realm of the Aeldari, and as luck would have it they came across the location of a webway portal. Intending to use their own librarians to navigate the strange alien dimension, the Space Marines prepared a force to make an entry into the webway.

The eldar, being psychically attuned, were pre-warned of the intentions of the astartes and launched their own preemptive strike against the insolent humans who would dare violate their realm. Sending in a host of fast moving Ynnari warriors, the followers of Ynnead ambushed the Imperial Fists as they approached the portal. A protracted engagement ensued with the loss of the Fist's company commander, before the Aeldari forces called of the attack. After the battle, what was left of the astartes force found no trace of the webway portal, and any chance to take back the Hexis device had been lost.