Thursday, August 26, 2021

Mordecai: Hammers push forward front but Ur'Ghar surrounded

As 08.022M42 progressed the war on Mordecai continued to be a slow grind with advances and reversals on both sides. In the centre of Kutuzov's line, the Hammers of the Emperor spearheded an offensive against the Death Guard defences. By now, opportunities to breakout and encircle were limited as the front lines were very long, straight and backed up by deep defences, trenches and emplacements that did not lend themselves to the battles of manoeuvre that once characterised the war for Mordecai Secundus.

In addition to the front line being more static, both sides now had adequate logistics, with Admiral Bova Magnus' fleets keeping up the supply runs, and the forces of chaos now had open portals via the daemon world of Astralis. Both sides controlled significant strategic assets on the ground, and there was little difference in the numbers of soldiers or amount of equipment on both sides. Going into the latter part of 022M42, things were finely balanced.

The offensive against the Death Guard in the middle of the front was a success. The speed and hard hitting close combat power of the Hammers of the Emperor, as well as their resilience, were a match for the Nurgle Worshipping forces arrayed against them. Their assault drove deep into the chaos lines, although the casualty rate was high, as the loyalist astartes had to run a gauntlet of pestilent fire to close with their foe, where their special capabilities at close combat warfare made the difference. Both sides suffered losses, but the battle took place where the Imperium wanted, allowing the Imperial Guard to swiftly follow up. When the fighting died down, Kutuzov had moved the front line forward some 100 standard miles.

In the south however, Imperial intelligence had not spotted that the Emerald Serpent were amassing significant forces near the city of Ur'Ghar, and they had assembled a number of Contemptor Dreadnoughts armed with the deadly twin Volkite Culverins. these were unleashed on an unsuspecting imperial guard force to the west of the city - recently captured by Kutuzov's forces. Within hours the guard force crumbled, and the Thousand Sons reached the shore of the Kuneus Lava Sea, cutting off the city of Ur'Ghar and tempering the celebratory mood at Imperial HQ.

Necrons push back chaos on Hexis

Hexis, the forgotten warzone, flared into life once more in 08.021M42. Having lost ground to the Imperium with Konev's latest advance onto the Haknur Plateau, the Skareth Dynasty were becoming frustrated with their brethren from the Bahotek Dynasty who seemed to not have the same concentrated focus as the lords of Skareth. The Necron overlords disagreed on the prosecution of the campaign against the lesser races since the reawakening of their race in the Aleph Sector, and the necrons themselves still faced significant logistical difficulties.
The Harakhty Dynasty had been the first major force to reanimate in the region, but their return to power, while swift, had led to an equally dramatic demise, as the machinations of the old foe, the Aeldari, had resulted in the sudden rehibernation of fast numbers of necron warriors, halting the reconquest of the Harakhty Empire. Now the tombworlds of the Perseus Deeps were once more barren and lifeless, devoid of any civilisation. The Charnovokh had attempted to intercede to stop this decline, but were forced to abandon this pursuit with the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum.
In the far eastern fringes of the sector, the necrons had awoken more slowly, and were still far from reaching full strength. Forces of the Bahotek dynasty had reanimated and minor lords began small raiding actions, but the Skareth, not native to the sector, had less interest in reconquering the Expanse, and far more interest in protecting the secrets of their race from the vermin that now infested their once mighty empire. Even more satisfying would be having all those valuable assets under Skareth control.
With acquisition in mind, the Skareth Dynasty deployed a strong force on Hexis, arriving at the gate on the Haknur Plateau. Rather than aiding the Bahotek against Konev's imperial forces however, the new necron force launched a major assault off the heights towards the south west of Praxis. the plateau itself was of no value, other than tactical and strategic location. What the overlords of the Skareth wanted, was in Praxis itself.
A fierce battle erupted as the necron forces swarmed into the ruins of south west Praxis, which soon saw a strong force of Death Guard terminators take up its defence. The construction of their base on the moon of Hexis was well advanced, and the traitor astartes were in no mind to relinquish the valuable necron technology they had been painstakingly studying in the catacombs under the city. The necron force however was agile and fast, and though the Death Guard proved a stubborn foe, eventually the Skareth Dynasty was able to isolate them into pockets and grind down the nurgle worshipping traitor marines. The Death Guard were forced to yield the south western ruins, and the necrons acquired at least part of the underground tomb complex. Now the necron lords had to decide whether to take the valuable artefacts, or move forward to take the rest of Hexis for themselves.

Dark Eldar raids in Expanse escalate

The dark eldar Archon known as "Stitch" or sometimes "Baron Stitch" had been making a name for himself in Dark Eldar society in 022M42. Known for his provision of exotic Xenos creatures, sometimes of his own "creation", his was one of the more depraved minds even within the Drukhari. Other Archons and Dark Eldar nobles had noted this upstart, and while his contribution to the depravity of Commoragh society couldn't be overlooked, there were some who secretly despised this avaricious and gauche faction of their civilisation.
Stitch and his forces had been taking advantage of the network of basis that had been installed by the patient hard work of Vlokarion in years past, and had been emboldened by the relative weakness of the Imperium and Chaos forces who remained distracted by their war at Mordecai. The Drukhari had found the Tau Empire more difficult to challenge, but the Hadron Expansion Sphere was now in a period of consolidation, and Malkaor was content to simply make the Tau look like the least tempting target for Stitch's raids.
The necrons, only partially reawakened and disorganised, were a prime income source for the Drukhari raiders, and this was proved once again when a raiding force plundered the tomb world of Ceti 6539 in 08.021M42. The Skareth Dynasty moved quickly to pretect key artefacts given the main force of the Bahotek remained slumbering beneath the surface, but their intervention was unsucessful. Despite taking down the raiding party's commander and inflicting some damage on the Dark Eldar raiders, the Drukhari battered the necron force, and made off with a substantial loot.
By 1008.022M42 the raids of Dark Eldar were growing in intensity, so much so that the Grey Knights became concerned that the loyalty of Vanir, one of the only remaining bases for the Imperium in the Expanse, would fail, as General Pervical seemed unwilling or unable to dedicate sufficient garison forces to the world. In order to prevent a revolt, and the loss of a strategic system, the Grey Knights deployed a strike cruiser full of elite astartes, and waited.
The wait was not long. Within days of their arrival the Grey Knights found two Drukhari raiding forces materialising from the webway, which then embarked on a spree of pillaging and enslaving across the northern hemisphere settlements. Deploying rapidly from orbit, the astartes force dealt with each in turn, in two decisive engagements that severely damaged both raiding parties, forcing them to flee and abandon their booty of raw materials and human slaves. The Grey Knights had sent a clear message to Stitch - Vanir is not your playground and the Imperium will defend its territory.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Adeptus Mechanicus hold off Necron threat

In the Hadron Expanse the Imperium had been on the defensive for some time by 08.021M42, as more and more resources were diverted to the escalating conflict in the Mordecai system. However, although general Percival had limited forces at his disposal, the Imperium were not as vulnerable as some had caluclated.

The necrons, recently but not fully awoken in the Expanse, had been infuriated and offended by the other races defilement of their worlds, and were determined to rid the infestation and reclaim their own lands and treasures. Recent raids had not gone well, but now the Necrons amassed a large army on Hexis, aiming to strike at the heart of general Konev's defences and drive north from the Haknur plateau.

Facing this new army however was not the Imperial Guard but a force highly motivated to stop the necrons from reclaiming their lost treasures and artefacts, the Adeptus Mechanicus. Not under the direct control of Percival or Konev, the Mechanicum had been diverting significant forces to the Hadron Expanse, a fact the spies of the enemy had not taken into account. When the Necrons moved down from the Haknur Plateau and into the Imperial defences, they met a very stubborn resistance.

The armies of Ryza fought valiantly and with determination. Gradually the xenos attack faltered, then reversed, and by 1208.021M42 not only had the Necrons been forced to abandon their offensive, but the Imperium now had a foothold on the plateau itself. Had it not been for the Adeptus Mechanicus interest in the artefact riches of the Expanse, the situation for Konev, Percival and their armies could have been very different. 

Disciples continue to harass Kutuzov's forces

Following the success of the Imperial raids it didn't take long for the grand chaos alliance on Mordecai Secundus to respond. Their planned offensive had been delayed, and the Imperium had rebuilt their defences. In the southern sector of the front line, one which now stretched almost from pole to pole, the Sisters of Battle were becoming a thorn in the side to the Death Guard, and the Disciples of Belakor, now largely based in the south, decided to once again disrupt the plans of their ancient enemy.

The followers of chaos undivided struck once more at the Sathugar mines, destroying recently repaired fortifications and forcing the Adeptus Sororitas into open battle. A brutal melee then erupted, that resulted in heavy losses for the Sisters of Battle, who retreated back to fort Celestine. As both sides tried to wrestle the initiative off one another, the bloody war on Mordecai had entered a deeply attritional phase.

Imperium retake initiative on Mordecai

By 08.021M42 Imperial intelligence was well aware of the rising power of chaos on Mordecai especially with the arrival of the particularly effective Disciples of Belakor. On his war council, there was some disagreement over how to proceed. Should the Imperium merely hold and wait for the inevitable chaos offensive, or should proactive measures be taken?

In the end Kutuzov decided on a moderate counter offensive to disrupt the chaos lines, particularly where intelligence had noted a large build up of enemy forces. In the south, this was conducted by the Sisters of Battle, who were facing off against the bulk of the Death Guard armies that massed around the Sarkar Traps, while in the north, the Adeptus Mechanicus prepared to conduct offensive missions against the forces of chaos massing on the Northern Howl.

In the north the Adeptus Mechanicus carried out their mission with technical precision, disrupting the chaos build up for their offensive and returning to the Imperial lines with their forces largely intact. Further south,  the Adeptus Sororitas took the Death Guard by surprise, sending in their flamer retributors with devastating effect. Poxwalkers and plague marines massing for their own offensive were obliterated, and although Typhus himself was on hand with a large force of elite terminators, his intervention was distracted by constant harrassment by rearguard forces, and the elite of the Death Guard were not in position to change the course of the battle. As they chased smaller forces around the ruins of Burroneus, the rest of the Sororitas continued to blast apart the sons of Mortarion.

Having severely disrupted the chaos offensive plans, the Imperial forces retreated to their own lines. Both missions had been successful, but Kutuzov knew that he had only bought his forces time. Time they badly needed to shore up the lines and rebuild their ruined fortifications.