Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Mordecai Secundus: Burroneus besieged

Following the push south by the astartes on Mordecai Secundus, the Black Templars took over from the Dragon's Sons in a coordinated effort to keep the pressure on the Death Guard near to the city of Burroneous. The Black Templars rapidly achieved their objectives, cutting off Burroneus from the rest of the chaos forces and beginning a protracted seige. The Death Guard responded, with hordes of shambling pox walkers obscuring the elite forces of the devotees of the plague god from fire. Death Guard terminators entered the fray, securing key objectives on the chaos right flank, but were unable to make progress against a determined defence on the left.

Without shifting the Black Templars from key positions on both flanks, the narrow corridor of imperial control persisted, allowing general Kutuzov to move engineers and imperial guard regiments into the breach. By the end of 12.021M42 the corridor had been widened and the chaos counter attacks had stopped. Now the work began to slowly starve out the city before making an attempt to claim the settlement for the Imperium. Events elsewhere however were about to overtake general Kutuzov and the imperial campaign.

Dark Eldar raid imperial bases in Hadron Expanse

With the expeditions by the Imperium and other factions into the Rifts of Hecate taking up significant resources, the lords of Commoragh quickly spotted an opportunity for profit. The Drukhari had several bases in the Hadron Expanse, and although Archon Vlokarion was no longer concentrating on the exploitation of the Aleph Sector, plenty of his rivals were, and one faction reminded the Imperium of the power of the Dark Eldar in late 021M42.

Appearing from seemingly nowhere, using their advanced knowledge of the webway and emerging from unseen portals that dotted the world, the drukhari raiders fell upon the colonists of Vanir without warning. With general Percival's forces at full stretch, it took time for the Imperium to organise a response, and by then several settlements on the populated world of Vani had been burnt to the ground and their citizens enslaved. When the Novogorod Guard did eventually attempt to push back against the xenos invasion, the unweildy guard formation was unable to contend with the fast moving highly mobile raiding force, and suffered accordingly. At times it seemed the dark eldar were merely toying with the human troops, as they withered them with highly accurate fire before charging in to finish off the battered survivors.

Fortunately for the Imperium, this was only a raid. Satisfied with a most profitable expedition, the drukhari left the world and their destruction behind them, while the Imperium, and especially general Percival were left with difficult questions to answer about their ability to protect all their worlds while prosecuting so many campaigns.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Final Offensive secures Hexis for the Imperium

Having rid the surface of Hexis of chaos forces and pushed back the tyranid and ork threats from Konev's base of operations north of the city of Praxis, continuing reinforcements and the increasing importance of having a secure base of operations in the lower Hadron Expanse, put a renewed focus on the securing of the world for the Imperium of Mankind. This impetus was further aided by the disappearance of the daemon-moon of Fecus Major from the skies of the planet. If Hexis could be completely secured, then a facility of operations could be constructed, a large amount of troops and equipment could be freed up to be used elsewhere, and the Adeptus Mechanicus would be free to explore the tomb complexes without fear of being disrupted.

the main threats left on Hexis were xenos. the orks still occupied much of Menthoteph, the tyranids infested the northern hills and to the south, the necrons posed an obstacle to securing the city of Praxis itself. The necrons were made up of a number of factions which did not have the same aims, but this was unknown to the Imperium who drew up battle plans to sweep out of their territory sector and force an engagement with the three xenos enemies. As it turned out, the centre of the resistance occurred as the imperial forces drove north and west from their front lines in Menthoteph, led by astartes and House Stroganov knights, the imperial guard followed closely behind giving strong fire support to the Imperium's elite elements.

The main decisive engagement in this imperial offensive took place in between the cities of Praxis and Menthoteph in a place known as "Old Town". General Konev's main offensive had been to use General Andreyevich's 3rd army that was based in the Great Sand Sea, rather than advancing from the more predictable direction - Ivanovich's 1st army in the north, which was still recovering from the battles against chaos. This new offensive put the tyranids on the imperial right flank, which met endless swarms of the smaller creatures and struggled to progress. On the let flank, House Stroganov charged into the orks holding south Menthoteph, immediately encountering the Bloodfang orks' most dangerous foe a hulking, clanking giant "Stompa".

The Imperial Fists chapter led the central assault, through the ruins of the city of Praxis and straight into the heart of the necron counter attack that was by now developing to counter the imperial move. A ruined mining complex separated the tyranids on the right from the orks and necrons, so general Konev had the advantage. His forces were connected and working together, while his enemies' were not. The orks and necrons allied in opposing the imperial advance, but the tyranids worked to their own agenda, and for a time successfully held off the imperial drive north. In the centre and on the left flank, imperial guardsmen were surprisingly effective in their bayonet charges against the soulless necrons, and the Imperial Fists became an immovable fortress, centred on a Spartan tank, that was the fulcrum about which the imperial assault now hinged. The charge of House Stroganov had been costly, as they lost an entire phallanx of mighty war engines, but it had been effective. The orks had been checked, their enthusiasm for the fight not diminished, but their ability to pose a threat to the imperial offensive now definitely was.

The necrons also faced their own problems. The warriors and vehicles which turned up were not from the Skareth dynasty. The lords of the Library of Silence did not see the point of wasting great resources on a pitched battle, and preferred to "await developments". Those necron forces that did take part in the battle seemed to be suffering from the ill effects of recent re-animation, as time and again shots were missed and fire was generally inaccurate. This cost them dearly and over the course of 10-15.021M42 the xenos forces were overrun. The orks were cleared out first, then the necrons were completely pushed out of the city. The tyranids took a lot of effort to hold, but once the orks and necrons had been sufficiently dealt with, Konev launched a second assault, declaring the planet "clean" of tyranid infestation some weeks later.

By late 12.021M42 the Imperium had fully secured Hexis, at least sufficiently to now proceed with the creation of a base, space port and various installations in the Lysis system to act as a jumping off point for wars in the Hadron Expanse. After many years fighting over the devastated ruined planet, Hexis was now in imperial hands... almost. Although the Imperium considered the planet now theirs, the Skareth Dynasty still had their own plans and both they and the eldar knew of webway portals the Imperium did not. Yes the Imperium could build a base, there was no question now of conquering the planet, but the fight under the surface for the riches of the necron tombs was far from over.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Ongoing activity in the Rifts of Hecate

The war on Hexis had become important once more because of the ongoing campaign to explore and exploit the Rifts of Hecate. During late 021M42 the various factions already in the Hadron Expanse continued to pursue their aims in the newly uncovered region, and clashed frequently. The forces of the Tau empire, building their own base of exploration on Garmenes, clashed with the Hobgobbos of Grunk Prime while trying to gather resources from Ferrosium. Garmenes was deficient in easily obtainable metals, while the tau had become aware that Ferrosium was in fact a large scrap planet. Millenia before this world had been occupied by humanity, and though now uninhabited, there were plenty of resources to be plundered. The tau overwhelmed the orks with their firepower, collected a large haul of metallic components and returned to Garmenes, their base construction much advanced.

Meanwhile on Ferrosium, the Dark Angels had noted there were two factions of orks looting the ruins of the larger world. They had not come into conflict as yet, but the Dark Angels followed an intelligence lead to where the "Bloodfang" tribe were based. The astartes made a lightning assault on an ork encampment, dispersing the greenskins and uncovering the Bloodfang orks' plans to construct a fleet of space vessels. Rather than simply attach weapons to asteroids to make unweildy ork "roks", these orks had their sights set on a mighty fleet of "kroozers" and even a "deadnot" - a giant battleship that if completed, would present a real threat not only to the Imperial aims in the Rifts, but wider in the Hadron Expanse.

More skirmishes continued throughout the rest of 021M42, with even reports of a confused engagement between the Death Guard, Adeptus Mechanicus and Imperial Guard elements. Reports of how this came about were difficult to obtain, as it appeared the Adeptus Mechanicus involved were pursuing their own agenda, and were not part of the overall Imperial effort to create a bases at Ferosium and Helios Majoris. the Imperial Guard reported back to the HQ on Ferossium Secundus that the Death Guard had been contained and the Adeptus Mechanicus had withdrawn, and the matter was officially closed and marked secret. If there was an agenda to be uncovered it was for the Inquisition to discern it.

Hadron Expanse - Lysis system, Percival raids Moon of Hexis

In the Hadron Expanse, while the Imperium had made great advances on the world of Hexis itself, the chaos presence on the Moon of Hexis was a constant thorn in the side of General Konev. In 11.021M42 the Imperium didn't really understand what the Death Guard were even doing on the moon, and decided to send a strong force, led by the Stroganoff house of Imperial Knights, to find the chaos forces and destroy them.

Konev and his force expected the Death Guard base on the Hexis moon to be far less organised and well equipped than the one they encountered. In addition, they noted that the moon itself had started to change. Not only were the Death Guard well entrenched, but the very surface of the moon was clearly undergoing a daemonic transformation. Tentacles writhed from rocky outcrops and pools of hydrocarbons had morphed into lakes of puss and bile. Too late, the forces of the Imperium realised they had landed on an emerging daemon world.

The Knights, driven by their honour, charged into the Death Guard lines anyway. They found themselves continually battered by accurate and overwhelming firepower from Plagueburst Crawlers, as well as assaulted by the deamon prince Gavinus of House Eschar. Empowered by the daemonic energies the devotees of nurgle had unleashed on the moon, the Death Guard concentrated their fire on each knight one by one, overwhelming their shields and melting through armour.

The defeat of the knights precipitated an immediate withdrawal of all their supporting forces, who fled back to Hexis itself. Expecting the worst, Konev watched from the major planet as the moon took on a sickly green hue. On 0112.021M42 Fecus Major was born, a new daemon world dedicated to the worship of the god of decay. Then, without warning, the world blinked out of existence - disappearing from the skies of Hexis into the warp. Where it had gone, the Imperium did not yet know, but the threat of chaos invasion of Hexis now seemed to be over.

Mordecai: Astartes push south

In late 021M42 the war on Mordecai Secundus remained finely balanced. With Astralis holding a dominant strategic position and the chaos forces having pushed forward on the central sector, neither side appeared to be able to make large strategic moves to progress their aims. Both sides however, intended to make significant efforts to change the strategic situation, particularly regarding the control of the system, in 022M42.

In the central sector, the opposing sides made several "sabre rattling" movements by conducting military exercised behind the front. Knight forces engaged in mock battles with the Ultramarines, while in response, the Iron Warriors - now no longer under the control of Warsmith Stahl - clashed in mock battles with the World Eaters, as the Imperium and Chaos forces displayed their strength.

Ultimately this suited the Imperium, as it disguised their intention to retake the now ruined city of Ur'Ghar, which the Dragon's Sons initiated at the beginning of 012.021M42. The Death Guard forces put up a strong defence, but the loyalist astartes were able to force a passage into the city, retaking it for the Imperium by 1012.021M42. As 021M42 drew to a close, the Imperium had retaken the key city on the shores of the Kuneun Traps, but until the strategic situation changed, neither side would be able to make any large gains at the expense of their enemy.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Apocalyptic clash on Hexis results in Imperial victory

Prelude to Battle
By the end of 11.021M42 the Imperium under general Konev had amassed significant forces on Hexis. Realising the strategic importance of the system in relation to the newly discovered region of the Rifts of Hecate, imperial high command had decided to force the issue and clear the planet of two major enemies, the forces of chaos and the tyranids. To do this the Imperial Fists had taken over overall command and had begun to erect defences prior to a major assault. A warhound titan had been deployed, and it was obvious to the Imperium's enemies that a major offensive was coming.

The forces of chaos, more or less leaderless since the abandonment of the campaign by the Iron Warriors, now had the Emerald Serpent take control. Using their psychic forces they managed to secretly increase their own strength, which now centred around a massive warlord titan. Before the major battle of Hexis, the Emerald Serpent gathered as many chaos forces to their banner, and also looked elsewhere for allies. They once again managed to convince the ork tribes to follow them into battle, promising a good fight and a share of the imperial scrap, while in an unusual turn of events, the worshippers of tzeentch managed to communicate with the tyranid hive mind. The tyranids had no reason to ally with the chaos forces, as it was their intention to build up enough bio-warriors to consume every living thing on the planet in order to create their own hive ships to escape the world and begin a new feeding cycle. However, the sorcerers of chaos tried to convince the tyranids that they would not be prevented from consuming as much of the imperial flesh as they desired, although the hive mind did not answer explicitly as to whether the chaos appeals had been successful.

Imperium's enemies launch massive frontal assault
On 2911.021M42 the forces of chaos, led by the mighty warlord titan, launched a massive offensive against Konev's outer defences. Using the power of the warp to create dust storms and electrical interference, the imperial defenders had no warning of this impending attack, and were quickly overwhelmed. The chaos forces were joined by ork tribes, which crashed over the imperial trenches decimating the guard units on the front line. Worse still for Konev's men the tyranids launched their own attack at the same time, apparently in a coordinated attempt to eliminate the loyalist forces from Hexis. Only the necrons, who the Emerald Serpent did not try to convince, stayed away from this assault, content to watch events unfold.

In the Imperial HQ an urgent meeting was convened, where several imperial guard regiment commanders recommended falling back to the newly built inner defences, but the chapter master of the Imperial Fists took control of the situation. Gregor Dessian proposed to meet the incoming enemies head on, with the full force of the Imperium now deployed on the planet. Overruling general Konev, Dessian now commanded the imperial forces and began to place them directly in the path of the oncoming assault.

Imperium sally forth
Gregor made his plans simple enough for the diverse imperial forces to follow. On the imperial left, the Fists themselves would charge forward into the chaos lines, inviting the enemy to assault them. The Fists' chapter master knew that he had to secure critical objectives before the chaos forces, then break the oncoming tide against the mass of the imperial armies. In the centre, the Lycanon guard would lead the advance, although this meant almost certain death, while the warhound titan and heavy firepower of the guard tank and artillery regiments would provide massive fire support.

The battle grew in intensity as the two sides clashed on the plains of Hexis, close to the ruins of the northern suburbs of Praxis. On the imperial left the Imperial Fists had to face swarms of tyranid creatures, while holding off the enemy warlord titan. In the centre, chaos knights obliterated the Lycanon mechanised force, but there were always more guardsmen to pour into the breach. The orks on the right flank proved difficult to contain, but mass firepower and the sacrifice of thousands of guardsmen held them at bay.

The Warlord titan was able to dominate the centre of the battlefield, but the chaos forces, surprised and checked by the imperial sally forth, were unable to shift the imperial forces from the critical objectives. The Fists took heavy casualties, and the Lycanon guard elite infantry contingent were almost wiped out, but the Imperial gun line was never reached. Having expended significant forces in trying to overwhelm Dessian's "wall of bodies", the Emerald Serpent now had too few units left in good fighting condition to run the gauntlet into Konev's heavy guns. The warlord titan was also taking a heavy battering from imperial firepower, and the commander of the chaos forces knew that to continue this attritional struggle would mean the loss of one of their most prized assets.

Imperium sweep into Praxis & Chaos withdraw from Hexis
Having broken the back of the chaos and allied assault on Konev's lines, the Imperial Fists had won the battle of Hexis, and passed over control to general Konev for the next phase of the operation. While the Lycanon guard tried to regroup, and the astartes paused to recover their precious gene seed, the rest of the imperial army swept into the city of Praxis, keeping the retreat of the chaos forces going all the way to the south of the city. This necessarily meant they were unable to deal with the orks surrounding the city of Menthoteph or the tyranid hive nodes in the desert of Cralth, but the focus of this assault was to secure the city of Praxis and remove the chaos forces from the planet.

The imperial force also began pursuing the enemy warlord titan. In this endeavour the Adeptus Mechanicus now deployed their assets, driving forward into the Shifting Sands region in an attempt to hunt down and deal with this ancient and powerful traitor. In this they were joined by the orks who, having realised the chaos forces were now not going to deliver them prize scrap, decided to hunt for chaos scrap instead. For this chase phase of the battle, the orks and Mechanicum managed to ignore one another, as they chased down the enemy titan. Realising they now had the imperium and the orks to deal with, the remaining chaos forces began to evacuate the planet, and the remaining battle worthy heavy units from the Emerald Serpent contingent now fought an effective rear guard to prevent the titan - believed to be the mighty "Astralis Invictus", from falling into enemy hands.

The chaos forces were successful in meeting this objective, and the gigantic war engine managed to escape, teleported back to the chaos staging post on the Hexis moon and from there back via the warp to the shadow realm which the imperium could not access. By 0312.021M42 all chaos forces on Hexis had been eliminated. The orks and tyranids still remained, though weakened, and now after years of hard fighting the Imperium had a commanding hold on the surface of Hexis. The war was not over however, as the necrons still remained a credible threat, but for now the security of Hexis as a staging post for expeditions into the eastern fringe and the Rifts of Hecate had been significantly improved. The strategic effects were only minor for the Emerald Serpent however. They had failed to advance their agenda against the Imperium and had suffered heavy losses, but by successfully withdrawing they had prevented their retreat from turning into a rout.

Hexis 0312_021M42

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Orks clash with Tyranids on Hexis

On Hexis, the war was clearly escalating in late 11.021M42. With the opening of the Rifts of Hecate the strategic importance of the world had increased, and all races realised that although the necron device and the Nexus Arrangement had been removed off world, there were still great riches to be found in the tombs below the surface. The orks and tyranids did not care so much about the strategic significance of the world however. The orks, brought to Hexis by the forces of chaos, were simply spoiling for a fight, while the hive mind desparately desired enough biomass so it could begin construction of hive ships as a way to leave the planet.

The orks, excited by the prospect of a "bug hunt" launched their own aggressive assault into tyranid held territory in late 11.021M42, crashing into the alien lines and thoroughly enjoying the slaughter that followed. Attacking without a motive the hive mind could discern, the orks overwhelmed the xenos creatures, tearing down the larger beasts while gleefully exterminating the smaller beasts. By the end of 2011.021M42 the scene of carnage in west Menthoteph was complete, as the orks massacred the tyranid lifeforms that had pushed in from the northern wastes.

Meanwhile, as the orks celebrated their victory, the Imperium had begun to plan for renewed action on Hexis. Finally recognising the importance of the world, general Percival arranged for a large reinforcement of Konev's lines, aided by the Imperial Fists. Konev and his new allies would secure and fortify their positions before building up for a massive offensive against all their enemies. This would secure the world as a base for the exploration of the Rifts, while allowing the full exploration of the tombworlds below the surface. As the forces built up in late 11.021M42 however, the Emerald Serpent decided it was now in their interests to strike at Konev first.

Corsairs interfere with Imperial plans

While the Imperium continued the war on Mordecai against chaos, several Aeldari farseer's determined that the ongoing expeditions in the Hadron Expanse, especially those led by the Adeptus Mechanicus, were a danger to the plans of the eldar. The Imperium had not given up on Hexis, and now looked likely to reinforce their positions there following the opening up of the Rifts of Hecate. This risked the humans uncovering several ancient Necron artefacts, as well as Aeldari knowledge the xenos race decided the Mon-Keigh should not have.

To disguise their intent, the eldar employed raiding corsairs in the Hadron Expanse. Over the course of 11.021M42 the corsairs conducted a number of raids on imperial outposts, which resulted in the Ecclesiarchy worrying about the faith of the imperial citizens in the region. Acting swiftly, the state religion of the Imperium of Mankind deployed a number of Adeptus Sororitas units to key outposts, bolstering the faith of the people by their visible presence, while also acting as a shield against eldar aggression. In late 11.021M42 the two sides finally came to blows when the corsairs launched a raid against the seat of imperial power in the region - Vanir.

The corsairs were taken by surprise by the appearance of the Sisters of Battle, and had to fight with skill and intelligence to outmatch the ferocious assault led by the female human warriors. The raid itself had been a success, but now the eldar risked being cut off from their webway portal and trapped. This fact meant the xenos had to fight hard and not give ground, resulting in heavy casualties and an extremely close battle. Though they did not know it the Sisters came within touching distance of the portal, before finally the corsairs were able to force the imperial force to retreat. Battered, the eldar force managed to withdraw, and the eldar suspended raiding operations for the time being.

Jade Serpent continue to acquire vital aetheric relics

Across the blistering windswept world of Ferrosium Secundus the forces of The Jade Serpent and the Penal Explorator Fleet Redemptus met in a ruined town, within one of the world’s bleak deserts. Hoping to capitalise on their foe again and make for a swift victory, the Thousand Sons were surprised to find the Mechanicum Forces leader, "Mechasapient" Harquen Valdor, waiting for them. Seeing the hesitancy of the Thousand Sons, the Techpriest seized the opportunity to steal the initiative and engaged with the Thousand forces, sending blistering Phosphor rounds and unleashing an Archaeopter Fusilave at the traitor legion. Within the opening engagements, the Thousand Sons’ various transports were crippled. Identifying the source of the enemy’s strategy, Aradak, The Ever-Changer, The Horror of Abaxian, The Breaker of Shields, The Wielder of The Stave of Barbs, Sunderer of Areez the Prophet of the Waagh launched himself across the battlefield. Moving quicker that the targeting computers of the Ad-Mec could justify, the lord of the Thousand Sons came crashing down upon Harquen Valdor and through shearing through the armoured plates, destroyed the machinery designed to keep the Techpriest alive.

Though the retribution of the remaining Admec forces was swift upon Aradak, the damage had been done. Unable to comprehend the magiks used by the Jade Serpent sorcerers, the soldiers and robots of the Penal Explorator Fleet Redemptus began to be whittled down. Trying to focus on crippling the Thousand Sons forces, the Mechanicum launched attack after attack at the land raider, the Crystal Pyramid, however the will of Tzeentch was strong this day, and rounds that should have sundered the vehicle merely bounced off harmlessly or fizzled into nothing. The Archaeopter Fusilave, Ingenuity Mars-Pattern Synchronopter, damaged from earlier in the fighting, attempted to ram both The Crystal Pyramid and the rubric marines, the Eyes of Radak III before it’s flight cogitator gave out, but this was a move the Thousand Sons were expecting and they unleashed searing warp fire upon the vehicle, destroying it. Flying through the inferno, the remains of the Archaeopter Fusilave crashed upon those it sought to ram, killing the rubric marines underneath and severely damaging the land raider, but not destroying it.

With the Mechanicum forces’ attention focused elsewhere, the other twin, Radak, The Golden Eye’d Cyclops, was able to focus on acquiring the next aetheric relic from amongst the ruins. A manuscript, no larger than a handheld data slate, hummed with warp potential within the debris of the ruined town. With it now secure, and their objective achieved, the remaining Jade Serpent forces withdrew out of range, victorious once again within the Rifts of Hecate...

Jade Serpent raid orks in the Rifts of Hecate

After seeing off the scout force of the Imperial Fists, The Twins Radak and Aradak of the Thousand Sons’ Jade Serpent cult set about preparing the next stages of their ritual that would see the worlds of their enemies isolated. The first step was to acquire components for the ritual; A task not lightly taken as many of the Thousand Sons’ enemies have laid claim to worlds in the Rifts of Hecate with the resources needed for the undertaking. The forces of the HobGrobbos of Grunk Prime, Engineerz of da Great Stompa Waaagh were the first to meet the wrath of the Jade Serpent.

On the planet of Ferrosium Prime, the Ork Warboss Areez, the Great Green Grobbo, Prophet of the Waaagh suddenly found themselves under attack as warp portals were ripped open within their ramshackle settlement. Furious that anyone would dare come into his territory, the Warboss Areez ordered all of his nearby forces to kill the intruders and bring any remaining scrap back to his workshop. Needing little encouragement, the Orks of the Great Stompa Waaagh climbed into their vehicles and sped towards the commotion. Hollering and roaring, the Orks of the Areez didn’t realise they’d come into the cross hairs of the Thousand Sons land-raider, The Crystal Pyramid until it was too late. Beams of light from twin las-cannons scythed across the battlefield and brought down many of the Scrap-jets and Deff Dreads before they’d had time to react. Enraged by the toll his war machines were taking, the Ork Warboss Areez, took to the field himself, ready to kill the interlopers. 

This was all the opportunity Aradak, The Wielder of The Stave of Barbs, needed. Flying through the air on a disc of Tzeentch, the Exalted Sorcerer of the Thousand Sons shot across the battlefield towards the towering ork Warboss. Compelling the nearby Rubric Marines to fire upon the warlord with a mere thought, the forces of the Thousand Sons overwhelmed the Mek Boss’ defensive systems long enough for Aradak to sweep in. The battle between the two warlords was as fierce as it was decisive. Guided by the will of Tzeentch, a lucky bolt shot from Aradak’s pistol blinded the Ork long enough for the sorcerer to dispatch him with The Stave of Barbs and felled his opponent. Gathering the relic material which the Ork Warboss had unknowingly added to his armour, the Thousand Sons withdrew before ork reinforcements could arrive. With a decisive blow dealt to the orks, a victorious Aradak returned to his twin who was already preparing the next strike against the Adeptus Mechanicus on the nearby world...

The Jade Serpent

Even before the Wolves descended upon Prospero, the twin brothers Radak and Aradak were master warriors and scholars in service to the 15th legion within the Cult of Pyrae and Cult of Pavoni respectively. Their loyalty to their Primarch and legion was unshakeable, so it was no surprise that when the Executioner’s sword dangled above their home world, they were at the front line in defence of it. Though the mighty world was sundered, the forces of Magnus the Red were saved and retreated into the Warp. After swearing fealty to the Changer of Ways, and with the Rubric of Ahriman complete, Radak and Aradak began to forge their path through the Cosmos. Tasked by Magnus himself, the twins have been sent to the Rifts of Hecate Sector to discover any valuable artifacts that may be of use to the Thousand Sons and to spread the influence of Tzeentch across the worlds there.

Radak, The Golden Eye’d Cyclops, The Burner of Theolis, The Slayer of the Red Wyrm, The Wielder of Blue Flame is a man of ambition and dedication. With the fall of Prospero, and the re-emergence of The Planet of Sorcerers and Astralis, Radak has been seen throughout the imperial worlds waging wars, seemingly at random, but in reality with a hidden agenda. Where his brother has submitted himself to Tzeentch’s Aspect of Change, Radak has devoted his life to Tzeentch’s Aspect of Knowledge. Drawing upon the power of the Great Ocean, Radak unleashes warp fire upon his foes, setting both their physical bodies and their mortal souls ablaze. No foe is beyond his reach, and by using his aether sight, Radak can single out the most important enemies on the battlefield and like a surgeon, excise them. Those who meet Radak without his helm find that his left eye is missing entirely and his right eye has been replaced with a golden and brass eye with intricacies that would make the most deft of the Mechanicum’s servants weep. To look upon this eye is to see the warp, as Radak has spent his life focusing his power through this single artifact. It is said that nothing is hidden from this eye, and woe betide those who fall under his gaze.

Aradak, The Ever-Changer, The Horror of Abaxian, The Breaker of Shields, The Wielder of The Stave of Barbs, Sunderer of Areez the Prophet of the Waagh, is a force to be reckoned with. Where Radak is the lockpick that unlocks the door to the flaws of the enemy, Aradak is the Thunder-hammer that smashes down the gate house. He is unsubtle as he is ferocious and through his martial prowess has slain many a foe that thought he little more than a scholar playing at soldiery. Tzeentch’s influence moves over all of sentient creatures of the galaxy, but it is only those with a will like Aradak that are able to harness this limitless potential. Aradak’s body is ever changing; sometimes it is hard and rigid like the hull of a battle titan, other times, it is malleable and deft like oil. Only through concentration that would seem impossible to mere mortals does Aradak keep his body in a usable form that would benefit himself and his lord, Magnus. When engaging in combat, Aradak will adapt his physiology to better fight his opponent at the time, making it near impossible for an enemy to gain the upper hand. Those that do engage Aradak in melee have more than just his shifting physiology to deal with, however; The Stave of Barbs is a relic created by Aradak himself. Like its master, the weapon is everchanging, and those who believe that they have expertly parried a blow from a Force Stave are often surprised to see a broadsword, or a Prosperine Khopesh embedded within them as the weapon adjusts its form to the will of its master. Such is the will of The Ever-Changer.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Hadron Expanse: Tau secure Tanis, Imperium complete Ferrosium Base

By mid 11.021M42 the Imperium had established their presence in the Rifts of Hecate and began sending exploratory forces to nearby star systems. This lead to the Aeldari perceiving a threat to their plans, as there was much the ancient alien race did not want the Imperium to find in the region, and clashes began to occur between imperial forces and the eldar. One such engagement was a raid by the eldar on the Imperial base at Ferrosium. The eldar were keen to disrupt and delay the build up of imperial forces in the system, but the Dragon's Sons chapter quickly responded and drove off the xenos threat. By late 11.021M42 the Imperium had established a strong base, and now began to construct a fleet servicing base to act as a jumping off point for further expansion.

The tau meanwhile took the opportunity to take advantage of the multiple distractions the Imperium now had in the Hadron Expanse. General Percival and his allies now had multiple fronts to supply, with Konev needing more troops to defend his positions on Hexis, and the expedition into the Rifts of Hecate stretching his logistics. This made the Adeptus Mechanicus expedition to Tanis vulnerable, and Tanis was a key part of the tau strategy. Striking swiftly, the tau fell upon the Mechanicum on the innermost world of the system, battering the skitarii defenders and ravaging the imperial installation. This forced the Imperium off the inner world and secured the Tau a base of operations on four worlds of the system. Now it would be very difficult for the Imperium or the orks (currently infesting Tanis VI), to interfere with the planned tau colonisation of Tanis II, the virgin terrestrial world rich in resources and ripe for exploitation.

Ultramarines successfully degrade ork defences on Magark

In the Vastrid subector the Imperium had begun to put together a strike force with the intention of invading the ork worls of Magark. Having secured the smaller ork system of Aspaster, Magark was the next logical target. For many centuries the orks had infested the Cerrack Nebula, and forts around the region protected the important imperial planets nearby. With the intelligence given to Lord Titus Luthor however, the Imperium could no longer simply ignore the ork threat. A Waagh! was brewing and eradicating the ork threat in the Nebula seemed preferable to waiting for the storm to break over the sector capital and it's nearby worlds.

While the army of invasion was being assembled at Aspaster, the astartes began systematically degrading the defences of Magark. This would take a number of missions, and the astartes and other elite forces were preferred to attempting to bombard the planet with the imperial fleet. The orks didn't have a huge fleet themselves, but they did have a number of lumbering roks, and the appearance of the imperial fleet too soon, would encourage the orks to construct their own vessels in response, something the orks had proven they could do rapidly and effectively.

Instead, elite raids were conducted. The first, involving an imperial knight, had been unsuccessful, but the Ultramarines launched their own attack in mid 11.021M42, evading the unwieldy ork "fleet" and landing on the populous ork world. Their aim was to establish a perimeter around a set of powerful ground based lasers, which would be a real threat to troop landers, then destroy them before the orks could organise a response. This they achieved, although the ork response was more swift than expected. The astartes chapter however were known for their technical adherence to the codex astartes, and this time it served them well. The ork leader was killed in combat, disrupting the greenskin counter attack and allowing the defense lasers to be eliminated before returning to their strike cruiser. Several more raids would be needed, but for now the operation to soften up Magark was going well.

Hexis: Tyranids embattled and necrons fail to enter tomb complex

On Hexis, the Imperium had become alarmed by the sudden ressurgence of the Tyranids as their work to uncover the secrets of the ruins of Praxis was not yet complete. The Adeptus Mechanicus in particular exerted their own political influence in order to secure more forces for the Imperial armies on Hexis, using their contacts to appeal far and wide. Help was not long in coming, as General Percival, aware that his armies were entirely dependent on the Mechanicum's good will to service his equipment and war engines, quickly re-routed two regiments of Imperial Guard to the planet that had been earmarked for the Rifts of Hecate. In addition to this force, the Grey Knights also committed one company to dealing with the Xenos threat, as they themselves recognised the loss of Hexis would compromise their aim to track down the Thousand Sons who they knew were active in the Hadron Expanse.

The news that new regiments were on their way prompted general Konev to launch an offensive against the xenos beasts now occupying the northern districts of the ruined city, that had cut off the imperial held central areas of Praxis. The tyranids were a challenging foe, but the Novgorod Guard managed to clear the area of the enemy, linking up once more with the isolated imperial sector protecting the vital works of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Soon after, the Grey Knights attacked, attempting to strike a decisive blow against the hive mind and key synapse creatures. They appeared to have been successful, as the great tyranid host reeled from the ferocity of the astartes assault, allowing the newly arrived elite Lycanon Guard to move forward into positions the Imperium had not held for many months.

This victory was fleeting however, as the departure of the Grey Knights back to their strike cruiser in orbit heralded a counter attack by the hive mind. Hordes of xenos creatures led by tank-like larger beasts crashed into the Lycanon lines. Despite the improved armour characteristics of their Leman Russ battle tanks, the Lycanon regiment could not hold back the alien tide in the north eastern suburbs of the city, and were forced back once more to the more defensible ruined urban districts of Hengrist. The Imperium had checked the tyranid assault on the cuty of Praxis, but the threat remained to Konev's forces.

Meanwhile, in the western wastes of the planet, a patrol of space marines from the Sky Lords chapter had been searching for the eldar webway portal, believing it to be a possible link into the necron tomb complexes themselves. During this patrol, they were unable to locate the portal, but they did stumble across a small force of necrons who they were able to drive off after a short firefight. What the necrons were doing so far north the astartes did not know, but it confirmed their suspicion that somehow the necron tomb complexes and the eldar webway were somehow linked. Under the surface, no matter how hard the Adeptus Mechanicus tried, the layout of the tombs just didn't make rational sense. The necrons themselves knew very well of the non-cartesian nature of the tombs and their link to the webway, but their encounter with the Sky Lords had not allowed them to secure an entry into the underground labyrinth as they had desired.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Mordecai: Adeptus Mechanicus hold the line

On 0911.021M42 the Adeptus Mechanicus forces on Mordecai Secundus came under another sustained offensive by the forces of chaos. This was the main counter attack in the south that Kutuzov and his war council had been expecting, striking west into the Sathugar mines from the cities of Burroneus an Ur'Ghar. Defeat here would represent a serious strategic setback, as the loss of the mining complex would not only unseat the imperial positions in the southern sector, but strangle imperial supply. In order to prevent this, imperial HQ had deployed the Mechanicum forces directly in the way of this axis of attack.

The battle developed into a close and hard fought engagement, with the manifestation of Mortarion leading the Death Guard forces, demonstrating the importance of this front with respect to the overall strategic position. The Adeptus Mechanicus were able to deal with this apparition however, thanks to overwhelming firepower, and after days of pitched battle with significant losses, it became clear the imperial line would hold. the chaos attack died down, and in response, Kutuzov ordered the construction of defences and a fort to protect the main avenues of advance into the vital mining complexes. The Imperium had weathered the counter attack in the south, but the strategic position was still not in their favour. There would be hard times ahead before the Imperium could consider a renewed offensive.

Tyranids strike back on Hexis

On Hexis, the tyranids had been comin under pressure from the orks and eldar. Having been stirred up by these attacks, the xenos hive mind now struck back. Rather than counterattacking the orks and unable to even hit back against the Aeldari, the tyranids moved west instead, swarming over the defences of the Imperium and striking directly into the ruined city of Praxis itself.

The area of the city that came under assault was Hengrist, where the Adeptus Mechanicus were investigating several ancient complexes both human and necron. They also guarded the supply route into the city centre, where the main work to uncover necron secrets was taking place. On 0611.021M42 the tyranids attacked, overrunning the imperial lines and putting the Adeptus Mechanicus defenders in a difficult situation. The imperial force trued to hold back the alien swarm, but the larger creatures in particular proved difficult to take down. By the end of the day the Mechanicum leader had been killed, and the imperial position was impossible to hold. The Adeptus Mechanicus fell back, cutting off the imperial force in the centre of the settlement, with tyranids now swarming over the ancient ruins. The purpose of this attack the Imperium could not discern, but it was clear the tyranid threat on Hexis could not be dismissed.

Skirmishes in the Rifts of Hecate

As 11.021M42 began, the Imperium continued to establish their base at Ferrosium, naming it Ferrosium Secundus and beginning to build up a significant installation on the second inhabitable world of the system. Largely driven by the agenda of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Stygies Forgeworld continued to send small but agile raiding forces to the larger world that was infested with the greenskins, in order to liberate as many resources they could while dealing with the "Hobgobbos" and preventing them from becoming a full blown "Waagh!"

Several expeditions to the inner planet were conducted by the Mechanicum, and there were a few skirmishes which finally led to a pitched battle on 0311.021M42. In this engagement, the skill and discipline of the machine god worshippers proved superior to the raw aggression of the orks, and the "great green gobbo" was himself taken down in the engagement. It was uncertain whether the great ork had actually been killed, but his incapacitation ensured the orks were driven off, and the Stygies Forgeworld uncovered several interesting ancient human artefacts for their efforts.

Further into the Rifts, another Mechanicum force made planetfall on the only habitable planet of the Helios Majoris system. Finding another resource rich world the imperial force set up a base, before being attacked by a xenos threat identified as tyranid in origin. Although the Adeptus Mechanicus force were able to deal with this threat, killing the tyranid hive node creature and scattering the smaller beasts, the appearance of the tyranid threat in the Rifts of Hecate was disturbing. This was further heightened by the discovery of a genestealer cult on Ferosium Prime, as the Imperium observed an inconclusive engagement between the orks and these cultists on 0511.021M42.

It appeared that the human civilisation on Ferrosium, and perhaps more widely, may have succumbed to the tyranid threat. This was not certain however, as no hive fleet had been detected and the biomass had not been consumed. The appearance of the tyranid xenos raised many questions, and work began attempting to trace and link the genetic heritage of these xenos creatures, to see if they were related to the identified strains of tyranids in the sector.

Rifts of Hecate strategic view

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Forces begin exploring the Rifts of Hecate

With the Hecate pass now stable in the Hadron Expanse, 10.021M42 saw the first expeditions to the Rifts of Hecate by several, as yet small, expeditions. The Imperium set up a crusade force that was nominally under the central control of general Percival, but in reality the astartes, adeptus mechanicus and imperial guard forces each had their own agendas. A small force of Imperial Fists were the first to make planetfall at the Calthingum system, as they had been following intelligence that the Thousand Sons were engaging in some activity on the single inhabitable world there. What they were up to was not known, and not relevant, as the Fists were only interested in disrupting them. In this however they were unsuccessful and after heavy casualties during that engagement, the astartes chapter had to re-evaluate whether pursuing the Thousand Sons into the Rifts was worth the risk.

The main engagements in the Rifts of Hecate began in the Ferrosium system, which had two habitable worlds. The larger one appeared to be an abandoned ex-human world, which was resource rich, especially in old technology and artefacts. The Imperium set up a base on Ferrosium II, the smaller, colder world, and began to send expeditions to the larger planet's surface.

Unfortunately they were not alone. Already there was a strange tribe of orks that seemed physically different from most orks previously encountered, identifying themselves as the "Hobgrobbos of Grunk Prime". Led by the strange looking but terrifyingly powerful "Areez the great green gobbo, god of the waagh!", the Ultramarines were the first to encounter this particular band of greenskins. Interupting what appeared to be a salvage mission by the orks, the Ultramarines were narrowly beaten and forced to withdraw, but the Imperial Guard special forces of the Lycanon regiment were able to successfully raid the "Hobgobbos" and determine their intentions before withdrawing to Ferrosium II. It appeared the greenskins (or yellowskins, such was the pallor of this new strain of orks), were salvaging as much scrap as possible, which posed a threat to the small imperial task force. If left unchecked, they would multiply and create giant war engines, and possibly be able to seed a new ork waagh! within the Rifts.

The imperium were not the only forces investigating the ruins of Ferrosium to encounter the orks either. A small warband of chaos astartes known as "Disciples of the red path" also encountered and were defeated by the greenskins on the world, before retreating to their lair in the Mendrus Mundi system, while the House of Eschar - a faction of the Death Guard, were also seen off by the angry orks, as Areez "the great" personally took down and banished the daemon prince "Gavinus" in hand to hand combat, confirming to the orks at least, his divinity.

The Death Guard, experimenting and researching new pathogens to unleash on the Aleph Sector, withdrew from Ferrosium following this defeat, setting up a base on Pyrrho Zeta, while the Imperium continued to establish a much larger facility within the Ferrosium system itself. Knowing the intent of the orks now, the Adeptus Mechanicus of forgeworld Stygies 8, keen to learn all they could about this ork strain and to obtain for themselves the valuable archeotech on Ferrosium I, launched their own raid against the Hobgobbos a few days later. Once again however the power of Areez was demonstrated, and the Mechanicum force was repulsed, allowing the orks to continue their asset stripping of the abandoned settlements on the larger world.

As 10.021M42 came to an end, several forces had set up bases in the Rifts of Hecate, but the Hobgobbos of Grunk Prime were proving to be the most immediate threat to the other task forces as they continued to extract resources from the Ferrosium system.

Hexis: Tyranids come under pressure

 The tyranid threat on Hexis had remained largely quiescent for over a year, as they had tried to rebuild their strength before launching a new offensive to overrun the other forces still in place on the dead world. In 10.021M42, there were signs however that the hive mind was re-awakening, now invigorated by some initially unknown force. Gradually both the eldar and imperial intelligence became aware of the emerging threat from the Tyranids on Hexis, dubbed "hive fleet R'lyeh" by the Imperium.

For years the tyranids on Hexis had been little more than an annoyance, with no hive fleet and no unified hive mind to guide them. During this time the psychic force of the alien species had been signalling to others of its kind, intending to either summon a hive fleet or gain enough biomass to overrun the world and convert it to the production of new hive vessels to begin a new migration.

The result of this was the arrival of several spores from other hive fleets over time, and now "R'Lyeh" was something of a hybrid of genetic stock, and growing in strength by utilising the organic materials of the very rocks of Hexis. In late 10.021M42 both the Aeldari and Imperium launched their own pre-emptive strikes on the Tyranids. The astartes of the Iron Roses chapter engaged in a minor raid to gather intelligence, while the eldar appeared from nowhere, striking at a hive node they had identified in the deep desert of the planet. This caught the alien race of balance, forcing them to respond, and the general increase in violence elicited a response from the orks on the world as well.

As the eldar corsairs were destroying the hive node, the orks around Menthoteph became energised and, always looking for a fight, launched their own attack against the xenos race, attacking with unbridled glee and removing the tyranids from around the city. Whether this was forseen by the eldar is unknown, but the result was to effectively reduce the threat of the tyranids on Hexis, at least for the time being, clearing them from key positions around the important necron tomb complexes and keeping the hive mind at bay for now.

Mordecai: Titan's lead major chaos offensive towards Festergax

In late 10.021M42 the forces of chaos had retaken Kuneus from the Imperium and were looking for ways to further push back the imperial advance on Mordecai Secundus. Both sides had recently deployed giant titans to the planet, and the worshippers of the dark gods were keen to bring these forces into action. The offensive thus planned by the enemies of general Kutuzov was more about destroying the imperial war engines than it was to gain strategic locations.

The Imperium had deployed their titans in the central sector of the front, in preparation for a wide sweeping advance across the flat lands of the Mekken plateau. Using the power of Astralis the chaos war leaders quickly deployed their own titans to face them and launched an immediate surprise attack. Across the vast plateau, close to an old exhausted mining complex, the two forces met in a violent and ground shaking engagement.

Taken somewhat by surprise the imperial titan legion faired badly, losing several of the mighty war engines to their corrupted counterparts, and compromising the entirety of Kutuzov's central front. The chaos titans crashed through and over the imperial trenches, forcing the supporting guard regiments to abandon their forward positions and fall back towards Festergax, leaving behind the burning hulks of their giant war machines as a testimony to the violence that had been witnessed on the plateau. With their own titans destroyed, the Imperium now dug in around the city, although the chaos engines would themselves need to repair and refit before re-joining the advance.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Mordecai Secundus: Kuneus retaken by chaos

The Thousand Sons did not waste time following their advance north to surround the city of Ur'Ghar. Previously the forces of chaos, led by the Emerald Serpent, had been pursuing a strategy of siege against the city, rather than face the Grey Knights in street fighting, which they rightly judged would likely end in defeat. Now that the Grey Knights had repositioned however, they did not hesitate to launch an assault against the city.

The suddenness of the attack caught the Imperium off balance, and the Adeptus Mechanicus forces had no support in their defence of the city. They fought hard for every street and building, but the Thousand Sons had once again redeployed their most powerful assets using the daemonic power of Astralis. Gradually the streets were reclaimed by the chaos army, and the Mechanicum, rather than face annihilation, abandoned the city by making the hazardous crossing of the Kuneus Traps, a vast lava sea that remained passable to the Mechanicum only by their advanced knowledge of technology and their faith in the Machine God.

Kuneus had once again fallen to the forces of chaos, a strategic setback which Kutuzov knew would reinvigorate the enemy, and risked putting the Imperium on the back foot on Mordecai Secundus. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Hadron expanse engagements widen

In the Hadron Expanse, while the eldar and necron forces continued their war to locate and obtain the necron artefacts on the tombworld of Hexis, other forces were active in the wider expanse. Since 020M42 the warp storms that once veiled the region known as the Rifts of Hecate had become increasingly becalmed, and the first tales of strange artefacts and exotic planets were beginning to emerge from those brave enough to make the crossing into an area that still posed a serious danger to anyone who entered. Many expeditions of all races did not return, but by late 10.021M42 it was becoming clear that the Rifts of Hecate may contain sufficient resources and wonders to make control over them, and access to them, strategically significant.

To access the Rifts of Hecate it was necessary to have a jumping off point in the Hadron Expanse. The Dark Eldar had several bases, but were increasingly aware of the threat posed to their favourable position in dominating the space lanes to the Hecate gap, by the Imperial presence on Vanir. This gap was the one navigable pathway into the Expanse, and the Drukhari saw an opportunity to both set back the Imperial encroachment on their access to the Rifts, and to harvest valuable slaves and engage in some wanton acts of savage violence at the same time.

The Dark Eldar raid was brutal and effective. The Adeptus Mechanicus forces had deployed expecting such a raid, but were taken by surprise following a deployment that was particularly vulnerable to a sneak attack. It is likely that the worshippers of the Machine God had put too much trust in their intelligence gathering capability and had relied on being able to react first to the appearance of the Drukhari, but this did not come to pass. The xenos struck first, and managed to enter devastating close combat and destroy vitally important tactical assets before the Mechanicum were able to respond. 

The battle soon became a massacre, and while the Mechanicum forces were able to disengage from the attack, the colonists and Administratum forces on Vanir I were not so fortunate. Fear gripped the more populous world of Vani, as the Drukhari slaughtered and enslaved thousands on the inner planet, destroying infrastructure and threatening Imperial control of the system, before melting back into the webway with the profits of their raid.

Further towards the unexplored Eastern Fringe and closer to the Hecate Gap itself, the Tau were continuing the creation of their own base on Tanis. Having secured a foothold, the Tau, lead by a force not part of the command structure involved with the Hadron Expansion sphere, had established a base. In reality these Tau had no links with Malkaor or the Expansion plans of the Tau Empire, and were acting in partnership with the Federacy, as the leaders of the technically advanced world of Tallax had been energised with the rediscovery of the Rifts of Hecate, and had sponsored an investigation of the region.

The Death Guard, continuing to establish their own presence in the area, and working hard to create the daemonworld of Fecus Major, also recognised the opportunities within the rifts of Hecate and the threat posed by a Tau/Federacy base so close to their own. In late 10.021M42 the forces of nurgle launched a raid to the Tanis system in order to disrupt the Tau operations there and gather more resources for their project in the Lysis system. The Tau deployed considerable forces to meet the chaos threat, but found their firepower severely lacking as the nurgle horde pushed inexorably towards the Tau base on Tanis III. Poxwalkers shambled into the Tau lines on the right flank while Blight Lord Terminators intervened supporting a daemon prince of nurgle in the centre. On the left flank of the engagement an elite force of crisis suits tried to push home a counter attack, but even with their advanced technology were unable to remove the ancient astartes warriors from key objectives. In response, mass Plagueburst Crawler mortar fire and entropy cannons made a mess of the suited Tau warriors, and even the mighty Riptide was taken down after being assaulted on all sides by the slow moving but relentless advance of the House of Eschar Death Guard force.

The Tau lost significant forces and their plans to create a base as a jumping off point to explore the rifts was severely disrupted, while the Death Guard continued to progress their efforts on the moon of Hexis. Soon a new plague planet would be born and the forces of chaos would have an ideal vantage point to further their plague spreading aims in the Hardon Expanse.

Imperial campaign against the orks suffers setbacks

Having secured Aspaster for the Imperium, the next move against the orks came swiftly, as ad hoc forces began probing ork defences on Magark, a large ork world that served as a sort of "capital" for ork forces in the Cerrack Nebula region of the Vastrid subsector. In 10.021M42 the campaign against the orks, ordered by Inquisitor Ezquerra, had not been organised in any strategic sense, and while the wheels of the Administratum started to turn, setting up a base on Aspaster and beginning to select an overall commander and assign Guard units, the probing attacks on Magark were conducted by hastily assembled forces which often had their own agendas.

The Blood Angels, assisted by a Knight household, were the first to test the ork defences of Magark, intending to gather intelligence and cut off the head of one of the more powerful tribes by assassinating its leader. In this at least, they were successful, managing to kill the warlord of an ork tribe in their raid. However their losses were heavy, including a Knight Castellan and their own Blood Angel's company commander, and the end result seemed to stir more orks to action so was not considered a strategic success in any way.

The Adeptus Mechanicus launched their own raid against the orks which was more profitable. Significant intelligence about the nature of the ork forces on Magark was gathered and their defences assessed, and this information was passed back to the emerging command structure on Aspaster for future campaigns against the large and populous greenskin world. The Mechanicum's real motivation however was concealed from other agents of the Imperium, as this particular Forge World was more interested in understanding the ork technology and investigating the ancient xenos ruins, thought to be of necron origin. What data they gathered on this subject they did not share, but gradually a coalition of imperial forces was beginning to come together in the Cerrack Nebula, with the intention of beginning a full scale war against the greenskins in the Vastrid subsector.

Mordecai Secundus returns to stalemate

On Mordecai Secundus following operation Sarkar, general Kutuzov was keen to shore up his right flank following the chaos counter attack into the northern Sathugar mines. Lacking Imperial Guard in this sector, the Dark Angels agreed to step in and attempt to cut off the salient the chaos advance had created.

Launching their elite forces against the Thousand Sons, the Dark Angels soon got into a vicious engagement on the rocky shores of the lava lake that dominated the area. Their Ravenwing and Deathwing units led the charge, and in a few hours the traitor astartes had been severely mauled, allowing imperial forces to cut off the salient and retake the mining complexes once more. This was a significant victory, but further south, the Thousand Sons, using their warp technology and the daemonworld of Astralis to reposition their forces, had launched a new offensive of their own.

The chaos siege of Ur'Ghar had only recently been lifted, allowing the Grey Knights to reposition and forces of the Imperial Guard and the Adeptus Mechanicus to take positions in the city. Defending the narrow corridor between the settlement itself and the rest of the imperial sector were the Adeptus Sororitas, operating out of their fortified complex fort Celestine. The tzeentch worshipping astartes now attacked in strength, and a savage battle took place across the blasted landscape of lava plains, as both sides stubbornly refused to give up easily.

After many hours of fighting, the traitor forces had managed to hold on to key objectives, and gradually the Sisters of Battle were forced back towards their defences around Fort Celestine. Once again the city of Ur'Ghar was surrounded, only now there were no elite astartes forces defending it.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Ultramarines defeat Harlequins on Hexis.

Deeply unsatisfied with their defeat, the Sisters of Quartz took some time to lick their wounds and gather  reinforcements before skulking the plains of Hexis for a rematch. It wasn’t long before they saw the signs of familiar black and gold armour, and they once again positioned themselves to pounce.

However, Captain Vicky of Varsity had been expecting such a counterattack from the bitter Eldar, and with reinforcements of their own managed to make the first move. Elegant Harlequin vehicles were snapped in two by their brutal Marine counterparts, and a lack of secure cover left the fragile Sisters open and vulnerable. What was most concerning was Varsity’s newfound speed – some of the clunky lesser beings somehow moved with more speed and agility than the Sisters and this frightened them as they were quickly surrounded, picked off by bullets and flames alike as they failed to reach with their own weaponry.

They remained stubborn despite the losses, and as if out of pure spite for the Marines the Empress and her Solitaire took several direct hits from heavier and heavier artillery without flinching – perhaps they were smirking, but the blank masks gave nothing away and that arguably made it more unnerving. Captain Vicky was not so lucky in their resilience, their flame-wielding guards shot away by dying troupe members before a Sapphire spearwoman swung by, eliminating them in a surprising turn of the tide.

This minor victory, though, was the Sisters’ last. Out in the open a tank managed to finally mow the Empress down as the Solitaire faced a similar fate from the Dreadnaught she had been locked in combat with, and without enough bodies to secure the site the Sisters tasted loss once more.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Mordecai Secundus: Current Strategic Situation


Dark Angels retake Abrax mines on the Eastern Front

While the main action on Mordecai Secundus was taking place further south, the Dark Angels decided of their own volition to sort out the Eastern Front. It had only been mere weeks since the forces of chaos had overrun part of the Abrax mines complex, and while the chaos forces on this front did not pose a significant risk to Fort Vengeance or imperial HQ (thanks largely to the deep imperial fortifications in the area), the loss of the mining complex was of strategic significance.

The Dark Angels drew up a focussed and limited plan to retake the mines, launching their assault simultaneously with operation Sarkar to minimise the threat of rapid redeployment by the enemy. Using their most elite troops, including their Deathwing and Ravenwing elements, the loyalist astartes were able to grab key objectives then weather the counter attack by the Thousand Sons. Although only a "side show" to operation Sarkar, the reclamation of the Abrax mines was nonetheless a welcome boost for the imperial campaign on the planet.

Chaos counter-attack in the Central Sector on Mordecai Secundus

While general Kutuzov put in place operation Sarkar in the south, this necessarily came at a cost. In the central sector the imperial front line had to be weakened as imperial guard units were sent south for the offensive. To guard against chaos taking advantage of this situation the Ultramarines and Angels of Vengeance were deployed in the vicinity to rapidly counter any chaos offensive in the area.

The forces of chaos did not take long in making the most of Kutuzov's redeployment as a force of Thousand Sons and Death Guard began to rapidly advance on the city of Festergax Primus. Led by the Thousand Sons, with the slower Death Guard following behind, the chaos forces broke through the imperial lines with ease and now Kutuzov's counter strategy came into play.

The Angels of Vengeance, new to the theatre, took on the Thousand Sons. This however went badly, and the relatively inexperienced astartes chapter were all but brushed aside by the worshippers of Tzeentch. Further south-east, the House of Eschar faction of Death Guard moved inexorably forward, countered by the Ultramarines. Initially the engagement was evenly balanced, but the resilience of the Death Guard forces began to take its toll. Unable to take down enough of the nurgle forces, the Ultramarines were slowly enveloped then ground down by the Death Guard, with the intervention of the Blightlord terminators key to unhinging the Ultramarine left flank. Unable to respond to the appearance of the terminators, the ultramarines were gradually taken out, resulting in a massacre which severely dented the chapter's fighting capability on Mordecai.

By 2010.021M42 the forces of chaos had advanced significantly towards the city of Festergax, but the biggest risk was that Kutuzov's southern right flank now lay exposed and vulnerable.

Operation Sarkar: Major imperial advance in the south of Mordecai Secundus

As 10.021M42 progressed there was no sign of an end to the stalemate on Mordecai Secundus. The strategic situation was finely balanced, but general Kutuzov was now ready to launch operation Sarkar in the southern sector of the front. His intention was to break through the chaos lines at Ur'Ghar and west of the Sathugar mines, before pushing south towards the Sarkar traps, a vast lava sea that was impassable for ground troops. This would trap several chaos armies against the shore of the lava sea and enable them to be mopped up by the Novgorod Guard.

The offensive started to the west of Fort Celestine, with the Sisters of battle taking a large formation of Thousand Sons off guard as they advanced west from their positions. The initial engagement was very one sided, with the sisters decisively defeating the chaos force and breaking through the front line.

The Sisters had not finished their role in the operation thought, as a second force was required to reach the shores of the Sarkar traps south of Ur'Ghar, before the Novgorod guard could follow through in the centre and complete the entrapment. This second advance could not be done simultaneously with the first, as the Adeptus Sororitas did not have sufficient forces to conduct these operations in parallel, so as the second offensive got underway, the Thousand Sons in the south had forewarning of the attack.

This second battle was more difficult for the Sisters of Battle, as the chaos forces fought more defensively, aware now of the threat posed and the intentions of general Kutuzov. The imperial force was still successful however, and despite not achieving the same level of victory, the Thousand Sons were obliged to move back to Burroneus. Now to avoid encirclement the Death Guard defending the Sarkar line would have to prevent the Novgorod Guard from reaching the shores of the Sarkar traps.

The final phase of operation Sarkar began with an overwhelming barrage of imperial guard firepower, as once again the Novgorod Guard got the drop on the enemy forces. The initial bombardment was fearsome and accurate, destroying many Death guard elite units and putting plagueburst crawlers - a significant threat to the vulnerable guardsmen - out of action.

The battle continued to develop favourably for the Novogorod Guard, despite the elite force of traitor astartes using their resilience and tactical excellence to full effect. Kutuzov watched from his HQ as his loyal guardsmen managed to shake off a determined counter attack as they pushed on inexorably towards the lava sea. Despite the imperial firepower, the Death Guard were by no means finished, and the success of the whole operation hung by a thread. Eventually however the imperial luck held, and the Novgorod Guard managed just barely to hold on to their positions on the Sarkar traps, cutting off all forces between them and the chaos city of Burroneus.

Operation Sarkar had been a success, and the remaining chaos forces in the pocket, trapped against the shores of the Sarkar traps, were gradually mopped up in the ensuing week of fighting. It was the largest imperial advance on Mordecai Secundus for many months.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Sisters of Quartz return to Hexis

As the Ul'Staer Craftworld continued to exert pressure on the necrons and orks on Hexis, the Aeldari force were not alone. The Sisters of Quartz had once again returned to the world seeking to prevent any of the lesser races from uncovering or using the rare and dangerous artefacts created and stored there by their ancient enemy. External factors beyond their control had lead to the Sisters of Quartz all but disappearing from the Aleph Sector for far too long. But now, reorganised and regrouped, they were back. And they wanted blood. 

A lone company of Marines by the name Varsity were the first lifeforms they encountered. An easy mission, the Sisters felt – their nimble frames could dance in, plunder or destroy their supplies, and dispatch them swiftly before their clunky armoured bodies could raise their guns in response.

And that is how the battle started: a pair of Sapphire bikers reduced a tank to ashes before it could land a single shot, as another unit ploughed through Varsity infantry. However, this success turned to arrogance that later proved their downfall. The Solitaire leapt onto another tank, staring directly into the window… and then failed to shatter the glass. The tank fell back, unscathed, to reveal a line of men with flamers waiting eagerly behind. She never stood a chance.

The Sisters were separated, spread thin in an attempt to take too much at once, and a gruelling back-and-forth of blows ensued. Varsity reinforcements dropped in mid-battle to pick off the wounded Death Jester clinging to one of the supply crates. The Rose Quartz division held another site desperately as a Dreadnaught smashed through them, and even the Sapphire bikers began to buckle under the firepower of the Marines. 

Despite the considerable losses, things were looking hopeful for the Eldar until a single shot rang out that mortally wounded the Empress. Utterly thrown, the remaining Sisters conducted a final rush, causing as much harm as they could before they were forced to retreat, unsuccessful.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Strange reports from the Expanse

The arrival of the Dragon's Sons chapter of space marines had not entirely been welcomed by all imperial forces across the sector. Unlike many other chapters of astartes the Dragon's Sons had not made any representations to the imperial high command on Mordecai and had simply deployed where they felt necessary. The information on them was almost impossible to find, and the other space marine chapters simply refused to talk about them.

General Kutuzov, already having experienced the attitudes of the Carcharadons and the Forgotten Sons' was concerned, but while this new chapter aided his conquest of Mordecai he was content not to push the matter. Further field however, the imperial high command was more concerned as reports of strange actions came in from the Hadron Expanse, where apparently a company of Dragon's Sons had also deployed.

Sector commander Titus Luthor was already borderline paranoid by this point. Inquisitor's Huron and Vorushko had disappeared, the Forgotten Son's had arrived, started attacking Imperial assets as a "warning" then vanished, and he had only recently been made aware that Lord Inquisitor Hathek had now disappeared, leaving a cryptic message that false agents of the Inquisition, backed by rogue astartes chapters, now had him and his high command as a target.

While increasing his own personal security and issuing edicts that no Inquisitor should be obeyed without his express approval (already an order in excess of his remit or power), Luthor's paranoia reached new heights as reports came in of the Dragon's Sons simultaneously battling against necron forces and a company of Dark Angels in the far reaches of the Hadron Expanse. This - Luthor could not make sense of, and the Dark Angels once again abjectly refused to comment. The Sons were victorious, but what the engagement was about, and why the Dark Angels were involved alongside the necrons (or even if this was reliable intelligence), was unknown to Luthor and extremely unnerving.