Thursday, April 22, 2021

Astartes defend Hexis from Necron threat

The war on Hexis had ground to a stalemate with all sides simultaneously too stubborn to give up their hard won gains and also not willing to invest further resources into a pointless meat grinder. When Imperial Storage facility 1027 Alpha Tertius stopped responding to vox communications it drew concern from theatre command because the sites distance from the front lines made it an unlikely target of enemy action. Fearing a party of traitor Astartes had somehow infiltrated deep behind Imperial lines an alert went out and a mechanised column of Astartes from the Hammers of the Emperor chapter diverted to investigate the facility.

On arrival they found the storage compound eerily quiet and deserted. Where sentries had once stood only small piles of dust remained to show they had ever been there. The armoured column sped into the compound and the Marines inside rapidly disembarked to form a defensive perimeter. Only then did their enemy reveal itself – not the corrupted servants of chaos but xenos Necrons. A carpet of scarabs swarmed through the abandoned buildings and completely surrounded the Hammers of the Emperor. Not waiting to be pinned in place they immediately pushed forward and focused their strength against a single point in the softly rustling scarab carpet in an attempt to break out of their encirclement. As they cleared the way with grenades and swinging hammers they were suddenly beset by heavier Necron forces. Transports exploded and many Astartes fell in the initial ambush but they survivors maintained good order and did not falter. Each Astartes left standing felled a score of xenos as they hacked their way through the encirclement until suddenly the strange xenos faded from existence. Only the fallen bodies of their battle brothers and detritus of spent ammunition casings and weapons impacts remained as evidence that they had ever been there.

Back at theatre command helmet pict recordings of the engagement caught the attention of the Inquisition. The xenos bore a striking livery of aged gold and black marble that didn't match any known dynasty. The Necrons also seemed oddly out of phase with reality, sometimes solid, sometimes faintly transparent and sometimes obscured in bursts of pict static. Although they moved in the typical slow shambling gate of their foul species they would frequently suddenly appear elsewhere but try as they might analysts could find no instance of the means by which they achieved this having been recorded or witnessed. As to the motivation of the strange aliens the Inquisition could only speculate, but it seemed likely they had been drawn to the facility by several storage units that housed miner necron artifacts and relics recovered from the subterranean tombs and kept there for future analysis.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Mordecai: Breakout from Kuneus

On Mordecai Secundus the retaking of Kuneus gave the Imperium a new springboard from which to prosecute their campaign into the broad basalt plains west of the Kuneus laval sea. On the shores of the Sarkar traps, an active geological formation that spewed mountains of molten lava ever single day, the Sathugar mines were Kutuzov's next target.

If the Imperium took advantage of the disorganised state of the chaos armies, Kutuzov hoped for a swift victory that could deny the forces of chaos fully half of their mining assets, potentially decisively turning the war in his favour. To maximise the disorder amongst the enemy, and with the Hammers of the Emperor still recovering from their brutal assault on the city, the Imperial Fists and Grey Knights took the lead. The Grey Knights struck west, straight into the heart of the Death Guard forces, while the Imperial Fists moved south, intending to bring to battle the powerful Emerald Serpent forces. This would split the chaos line and allow Kutuzov's main armies to move in between the astartes assaults, occupying the majority of the mining complexes.

The battles fought by the Imperial Fists and Grey Knights were particularly brutal. The space marine forces deliberately pitted themselves against the best of the enemy forces, tying them up and preventing them from interfering with the Imperial Guard push towards the Sarkar Traps. In the west, the Grey Knights took heavy casualties from their engagement with elite Death Guard forces, with the battle reaching a climax when their Knights Paladin engaged the enemy Blightlord terminators in a ferocious and bloody close combat. 

The Grey Knights suffered heavy casualties, but their mastery of the warp proved decisive. Unlike the traitor legion, who were compelled to use conventional means of transport, the elite imperial force was able to take advantage of their psychic mastery, always able to move forces where they needed to be to cover any threat. Using this advantage to the full, the Grey Knights outmanouevred their enemy and achieved a decisive victory. There would be no threat to the advance from the north west flank.

In the south, the Imperial Fists faced a different challenge as the Emerald Serpent predictably summoned a host of abominable and terrifying daemons from the warp to fight their battles for them. Unphased by these heretical apparitions of tzeentch and even the Thousand Son's Primarch, the loyalist astartes used firepower to overcome the trickery of the enemy. A methodical and stubborn advance took down the denizens of the warp one by one, and despite the slow going, the Imperial Fists' stubbornness ensured that every counter attack, feint and trick played by the followers of Tzeentch was met with implacable resistance.

For a while Kutuzov was worried about the situation in the south, as it was less decisive than the advance elsewhere, but the Fists' commander remained calm, ensuring the imperial general that he was facing the very elite of the enemy force, but that he would prevail. He was correct. Eventually the resistance by the forces of chaos broke, and the Imperial Fists, bloodied but victorious, managed to secure their objectives on time. With both flanks secured a yawning gap opened up in the chaos lines, allowing Kutuzov's troops to push west, overrunning weakly defended outposts and by the end of 04.021M42, securing all of the Sathugar mines for the Imperium.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Kuneus retaken by Imperium on Mordecai Secundus

On Moredecai Secundus the Imperium had been preparing for a month a new offensive to the south having retaken the Abrax mines. This was no time for subtlety so Kutuov's war council agreed on a frontal assault against the city of Kuneus, which represented the gateway to the Sathugar mines and then hopefully the long awaited breakout. To take the city, the astartes of the Hammers of the Emperor chapter selected a mobile force, and began the assault with no preliminary bombardement on 1204.021M42.

The Emerald Serpent defended the city in strength, but were initially caught out by the speed of the Hammer's advance. The astartes rushed the enemy positions, causing considerable damage and singling out the daemonic presence on the battlefield. It almost worked, as the manifestation of the daemon primarch Magnus the Red was almost banished back into the warp with the opening salvoes of melta fire, but the initial assault wasn't quite successful enough.

A protracted struggle then ensued, with the Hammers taking heavy casualties in close quarters fighting in the ruined city. However, as the battle continued, the astartes rush had ensured the battle took place in the Emerald Serpent's lines, rather than allowing the chaos forces to take the initiative. After hours of heavy fighting and with Kutuzov's imperial guard following up, the devotees of the Changer of ways were forced to conceed the city, rather than risk being surrounded.

The Hammers of the Emperor paid a heavier price than they would have liked, but their head on assault had secured the city once more for the Imperium, and Kutuzov now had a strategic platform from which to launch the next phase of his operation.

Tau establish base at Tanis

In order to protect the two remaining imperial systems from attack in the Hadron Expanse, general Percival was forced to allocate more troops away from the small expedition that had been sent to the Tanis system. Far into the Hadron Deeps, Tanis had been the last system the Hadron expedition had reached, and although the Space Wolves had set up a base, the Imperium were now down to a bare bones force that the Tau realised was vulnerable to a surprise attack.

Eventually, the Tau planned a full scale invasion of all the resource rich systems of the Hadron Expanse. However their war on Boltarean had ground to a halt, and they were still refitting after their conquests of Hussaria and Arawath. Oreen and Vanir were too heavily defended, but Tanis was not. Despite the distance from the Hadron Expansion sphere and the base at Echo Reach, the Tau decided to send their own force to the distant system, and fell upon an under-defended base on Tanis 3. The imperial guard stationed there were quickly overwhelmed by massive firepower, allowing the Tau to establish a forward base. Now the Tau had to decide whether to wait to see if their was an imperial response, or push ahead onto full colonisation of the system.

Dark eldar conduct raids in Hadron Expanse

During 03-04.021M42, the strategic focus of the Imperium and Chaos remained fixed on the Perseus Deeps, while the Hadron Expanse became a backwater theatre. Both sides still invested resources in the region, but the relative lack of forces in the galactic east meant it was easier for the smaller factions vying for power in the Aleph Sector. The dark eldar, still led by Vlokarion, were in an uneasy alliance with the Ynnari faction, who were still attempting to uncover and acquire necron technology in their war against the chaos God Slaanesh, began a series of raids against imperial assets.

The Imperium had lost their main bases in the Hadron expanse, save for the systems of Oreen and Vanir, and it was Vanir that came under attack. With only a small garrison of Valdograd guard, the fast moving Dark Eldar were able to surround the imperial force after raiding an outlying settlement. The regiment was all but destroyed, allowing the Dark Eldar to secure a number of slaves, though not much in the way of useful necron intelligence. While the Ynnari wondered whether the Dark Eldar were even working towards their common goal, the warriors of Vlokarion continued to pillage the now helpless imperial outpost until a force of Grey Knights came to their aid.

The elite astartes force was able to track down the Drukhari main force, defeating it in open battle before the remnants of the Dark Eldar disappeared back into the webway. Vlokarion's troops had got greedy, but the need to protect the imperial settlements of Vanir and Oreen with more forces had further consequences.


Friday, April 09, 2021

Death Guard active in Hadron Expanse

During 03.021M42 the Mordecai theatre was not the only active area of operations for the forces of chaos. While the Emerald Serpent led the affairs of the legions of chaos in the Perseus Deeps, the Death Guard, while active in the Mordecai System, had their own sights on domination of the Hadron Expanse. With limited strategic resources their operations were slow, but the devotees of nurgle used that to their advantage. A slow but inexorable rise to power was built into their ethos, and was unlikely to result in an overwhelming response from their enemies, especially the Imperium, until it was too late.

Orbiting around the Hexis star, in the Lysis system, few had paid attention to the second planet of the system, simply labelled "Hexis II" or even, inaccurately, "Hexis moon". By 03.021M42 this was already a major chaos base, but the Imperium and Tau empires had failed to detect how much the base was turning into a much more powerful daemon facility named "Fecus Major" by the Death Guard.

Much of this work had been done by utilising the local resources, but now the sons of Mortarion needed resources the barren world did not have. Rather than risk an obvious supply column, the Death Guard instead launched a series of raids against General Konev's forces on the major world of Hexis. Here the Imperial Guard were still grimly holding on to the now useless territory gained in the pursuit of the neron device, but the Adeptus Mechanicus in particular valued the archeotech of the remaining ruins, so abandoning their positions was out of the question.

Within the Imperial facility the Mechanicum had assets needed by the Death Guard, so while the traitor astartes launched their raids, amongst the destruction small teams of cultists and hereteks worked to retrieve these valuable items, following the Death Guard on their expeditions. In order to disguise their intent, the astartes launched a significant assault on Konev's main defensive lines with the now lawless and uncommanded "chaos sector", appearing to be a new offensive in the ground war. the Imperial Guard were ground down in the attack, and one regiment was all but wiped out. The Death Guard however, did not take any territory, as this was not their intent. Instead, having won the battle, the traitor forces simply left, baffling Imperial command. Only months later would they realise that during the fighting, several precious resources had not only been destroyed, but purposefully removed. Meanwhile, the power of Fecus Major continued to increase.