Friday, March 25, 2022

Rifts of Hecate current situation


Pyrrho Zeta secured by chaos

The Death Guard had finally settled on setting up a base on the world of Pyrrho Zeta in late 03.022M42 as a place to develop new pathogens to unleash onto the Imperium from a secure location away from prying eyes. By this time, the world was largely in the hands of chaos forces, with a number of factions having set up bases of operation on the main inhabitable world. The Deathwatch space marine chapter meanwhile, under the orders of the Ordo Xenos Inquisition, had observed the heretic astartes clashing with the tyranids, and became concerned that the worshippers of nurgle may be using Xenos biology in order to cross-mutuate a number of their pathogens.

This concern led to a small Deathwatch force investigating the chaos bases of Pyyrho Zeta with only minimal support from the rest of the Imperium. Upon landing however, their presence was detected, and the Death Watch moved to intercept them. The space marines then found themselves spending much of their time running from the chaos forces, before eventually being cornered at an old abandoned mining complex. Unable to flee further, the Deathwatch were defeated in a close run engagement, forcing the survivors to abandon the planet. The Deathwatch reported their findings (or lack of) to the high command on Ferrosiun, and the system of Pyyrho Zeta was labelled chaos controlled.

Imperium fight back on Helos Majoris

By late 03.022M42 the Imperium had established a strong base on Ferrosiun Secundus, although no overall general had been put in charge of Imperial forces. The Imperium had several astartes and other elite forces operating somewhat independently and pursuing their own agendas without an overall plan for the Rifts, and this was exemplified by the Adeptus Mechanicus, who had landed several forces on Lodax and Helos Majoris, searching for ancient lost STCs and other valuable resources.

On Helos Majoris the initial expedition had found the world already infested with tyranid creatures, and the Mechanicum deployed extra forces to the world in order to control the infestation. A large engagement took place on the plains of the main continent as 03.022M42 drew to a close, with the well equipped Adeptus Mechanicus army succeeding in driving off the large alien creatures. Exposed to heavy firepower on the plains of Helos Majoris, the tyranids were cut to shreds, and the remaining xenos creatures were pushed back into the rugged terrain of the central mountains. For now, and for the purposes of the Adeptus Mechanicus aims, this was sufficient.

Tyranids defeated at Mendesum

Despite the aliens' success at Candic Minor, the hive mind of the tyranids knew that the more habitable systems they could devour, converting the scarce organic matter into living organisms ready for further conquest, the faster they would be able to completely exploit the Rifts of Hecate, defeating the armies that opposed them then moving on to the Hardon Expanse proper.

Their next target was Mendesum, but although they had managed to seed the world with enough spores to create a small army, the Death Guard also had designs on this world. The location was close to a warp rift and presented the ideal site away from the war between the Orks and Imperium, to set up a base and begin experimenting on new diseases with which to spread the love of Nurgle through the Imperium.

To the outsider, both the tyranids and the traitor astartes had similar goals - spreading their own biological infestations across the galaxy, but their agendas were therefore completely in opposition. A clash was inevitable and on 2403.0M42 a large Death Guard army faced the tyranid vanguard force in open battle. Brutal bloody fighting ensued with victory eventually going to the Death Guard. However, the worshippers of Nurgle decided to abandon Mendesum for now, expecting a renewed attack from the tyranids, instead setting up a base on Pyrrho Zeta.

Tanis Battles intensify

On Tanis the Tau and Imperium continued to scout out the planet with minimal resources in mid to late 03.022M42. The Imperium had established a small base on one continent and would regularly send out patrols to try to work out whether the Tau were serious about the planet or system, or whether their raids were merely disruption attempts. They were bolstered by a small force of Grey Knights, who were investigating the level of psychic disturbance in the native nomadic human population. Unaware they were being tracked by the Tau and sensing something mysterious of a psychic nature, the Grey Knights got embroiled in an inconclusive firefight, forcing both sides to withdraw.

Later, the Deathwatch chapter of space marines followed this up. Unknown to the Imperium the Tau had established a number of bases dotted around the world, hidden from view and shielded by stealth technology from human sensor equipment. The Deathwatch then found evidence from the local tribesmen that the tau intended to attack the prometheum refinery, recently constructed by the Adeptus Mechanicus to ensure self sufficiency for the expedition to Tanis Prime.

This was a deliberate ploy by the Tau, and as the Deathwatch moved to defend the refinery, a pathfinder team attacked the small band of astartes. The Tau lured half the deathwatch away with a feint attack, then rapidly moved in from a different direction, forcing the deathwatch to take cover under a hail of pulse carbine fire. Having suppressed the astartes, the pathfinders then planted demolition charges on the main storage tanks, utterly destroying them. By the end of 03.022M42 the position of the imperial scouting forces on Tanis Prime was becoming precarious.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Tyranid threat gains in strength

As 03.022M42 drew to a close, the Tau began to move away from their newly established base on Garmenes, sending small but agile forces out to investigate other systems in the Rifts of Hecate. Avoiding the hotly contested worlds of the hubward cluster (Mendrus Mundi, Ferrosiun and Helos Majoris), the Tau soon anded on Candic Minor, investigating the world for a possible colony site.

Unfortunately for the Tau, the tyranids had already infested the world and rapidly attacked the newcomers. Although the hive fleet itself remained undetected, it had become apparent to all the races in the Expanse now that a major infestation existed in the Rifts of Hecate, and the arrival opening of the Hecate Gap had spurred the alien hive mind on to devour resources quickly and craft a new hive fleet.

The Tau were overwhelmed and forced to withdraw, losing their commander and fleeing into deep space. Recognising the threat that the consumption of Candic Minor represented, the eldar now took action. They intended to overwhelm a small portion of the tyranid infestation near key hive nodes, disrupting their command and control and slowing down the consumption of the world. The tyranids however proved more alert to the threat than the eldar had bargained for, and easily defended their hive nodes. Battered, the remaining eldar retreated into the webway, leaving the tyranids to feast on the biomass of Candic Minor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Hadron Expanse Activity

Mid 03.022M42 saw continued activity and skirmishes of varying size in the Rifts of Hecate. While the eldar had by now intervened in an attempt to slow the progress of the other races, they had only met with limited success. Having secured their base on Ferrosiun Secundus the Imperium had made gains on Helos Majoris, but now expanded their efforts to the system of Lodax, a particularly resource rich system with two habitable, and more importantly exploitable worlds.

The Imperium already had a small foothold on the inner world, but were aware that ork forces were also prowling the system. Deciding to commit a regiment of Novgorod Guard proved prudent, as on 1203.022M42 a major ork attack took place against the imperial base. The orks were defeated by disciplined ranks of the imperial army, and the construction of mining complexes continued.

Meanwhile on Pyrrho Zeta the forces of chaos were gaining the upper hand despite some bizarre encounters with alien forces and infighting between chaos factions. On one continent, small warbands of chaos cultists investigated an ancient alien tomb, but not before they inadvertently triggered the awakening of the necrons who slumbered beneath the ground, necessitating the summoning of a demon horde to suppress them. In this engagement the daemons were wiped out, but being incorporeal this was of no consequence to the chaos mortals. The daemon host had bought enough time for the cultists to enter the tomb, pillage its contents and leave the surviving necrons with no base from which to operate.

On the other side of the planet the tyranid threat was present, but here various factions of traitor guard and chaos forces also clashed with the Iron Warriors. Seeing an opportunity, the Iron Warriors took advantage of a battle between a disconnected splinter of the hive mind and worshippers of slaanesh they did not wish to have gain control of the world. In a cold and calculating move, the followers of Perturabo opened fire on the Slaanesh force and their traitor guard support while they were engaged with the hive tyrant coordinating the tyranid attack. The hive tyrant was eventually killed by mass deployment of deathstrike missiles, but the Iron Warriors were succesful in driving off the Slaanesh force from where they were constructing their own base of operations.

From the outside, the world of Pyrrho Zeta was now for all intents and purposes "controlled by chaos", but the factional infighting for control *within* the forces of chaos would continue.

Tanis skirmishes continue

On Tanis Prime although neither the Tau nor Imperium were as yet willing to deploy large numbers of troops, the skirmishing between patrol forces continued into mid 03.022M42 as both sides sought to establish control over the world with minimum resources. In previous engagements the Sky Lords had managed to send a signal to their chapter before their squad was eliminated, indicating that the Tau may have greater numbers on the world than at first thought.

This message was intercepted by the Deathwatch chapter who had a number of motivations for sending - as they did - a squad of their finest marines to the Tanis system. First, their purpose was to stand as a shield between the Imperium and the alien races that would threaten the divine right of humanity to rule the stars. More specifically, the inquisition wanted to know the Tau intentions in the Hadron Expanse. They knew that the Tau were building a "Hadron Expansion Sphere", but the activity on Tanis, so far from their base at Echo Reach, indicated a desire to expand into the Rifts of Hecate. The inquisition wanted to know how many forces the tau were willing and able to commit, and whether they intended a full colonisation of the Tanis system, rather than just the construction of a forward base.

The Deathwatch would not be successful in finding this out for them however, as the Tau managed to conduct an ambush on the astartes as they began exploring the site where the Sky Lords had been eliminated. Underestimating their enemy, the Deathwatch put up a strong fight, but were eventually surrounded and killed by the superior firepower of the xenos force. The Tau intentions at Tanis remained for now unknown.

Mordecai: Imperial Titans reclaim Festergax

Having successfully surrounded Festergax in 02.022M42 the Imperium on Mordecai Secundus had managed to trap a significant chaos army within the pocket. During 03.022M42 general Kutuzov knew it was important to mop up these forces before they regrouped and conducted a breakout. The corridor that separated the encircled pocket from the rest of the chaos armies was narrow, and a breakout might mean the intended strategic aim of retaking the city would not be achieved.

More worrying for Kutuzov was the composition of the encircled chaos force. While not managing to trap the mighty warlord titan "Astralis Invictus", several other traitor war engines from Legio Mortis and Legio Furians were present within the pocket, and the imperial general knew that a conventional "mopping up" operation would likely lead to unacceptable casualties or worse, lead to defeat.

Kutuzov appealed to the Collegia Titanica for aid, and the response was relatively swift. By mid 03.022M42 two factions - Legio Praesagius and Legio Astorum had arrived and unloaded their mighty war engines onto the barren plains of Mordecai Secundus. Legio Praesaguis attacked from the west, while Legio Astorum's mighty titans marched towards Festergax from the east. The two pronged attack would result in two titanic clashes as the huge war engines on both sides battled one another across the plains - ideal terrain for titans to unleash their full firepower on one another.

Both engagements were brutal, and resulted in victory for the loyalist war engines. Hulks of destroyed chaos titans dotted the basaltic terrain as testament to the fury of the fighting. Without their titan support, and facing titans themselves, the rest of the chaos force within the pocket was quickly eradicated by Kutuzov's armies, and by 1903.022M42 Festergax was once again in imperial hands, effectively undoing the Fotta Rhan offensive.

Imperium repulse raid at Ferrosiun

As 03.022M42 progressed, the eldar continued to try to intervene in the Rifts of Hecate. Several factions had by now gained footholds on many worlds, and up to now the eldar had managed to cause setbacks for chaos, tau and ork forces. On 1203.022M42 they turned their attention to the Imperial held world of Ferrosiun Secundus, where the forces of humanity had by now created a strong presence and were coordinating their activity across the region.

The initial raid went to plan as the harlequins added speed and agility to the already manoeuvrable eldar forces, and soon a number of outposts on Ferrosiun Secundus went silent. The Imperium however was not without a rapid reaction strike force, as a small force of Adeptus Custodes had been assigned to the crusade in the Rifts. The Custodes saw the expansion of imperial rule into the Rifts of Hecate as a continuation of the Crusade conducted after the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum, and whether their presence had been obscured from the witch sight of the eldar farseer's or not, the intervention of the finest astartes appeared to take the xenos by surprise.

the arrival of the Custodes in the heart of the eldar forces quickly overpowered the alien army, with only their swooping hawks able to extricate themselves from the bloodbath. The eldar force was driven off or destroyed, and the imperial base on Ferrosiun was strengthened.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Tanis - raids on Tanis Prime

While the Rifts of Hecate saw ever increasing activity and larger battles during the start of 022M42, the war in the Tanis System between the Tau and Imperium had reached somewhat of a stalemate. The Tau had established bases on the worlds of Tanis I, III, IV and V, but had recently suffered defeat in a raid to the eldar. The Imperium had made efforts to gain some of these less important worlds but had been unsuccessful, while their base on the outer ice world of Tanis VII remained fairly secure and a constant thorn in the side of Tau plans.

The main world in the system was however Tanis II. This world was habitable, if a little cold, with one large continent ripe for colonisation. It wasn't entirely uninhabited but the human population amounted to less than a million, scattered across the world and living a backward life in the shadow of the ruins of their former civilisation. The Imperium had little information on the planet, but it seemed as if Tanis II was once am imperial or pre-imperial world before some cataclysm befell them.

Neither the Tau or the Imperium were in a position to send regular forces onto the world without an immediate response from the other, leading to probable inconclusive and costly confrontations, potentially undermining their holds on the other worlds. Instead, both sides had begun to send in much smaller forces to scout, establish links with the human communities and gradually build up their forces. 

The first engagement on Tanis II came on 05.022M42 as a tau stealth team came across a squad of Sky Lords astartes who were patrolling near one of the ruined settlements. the Sky Lords had sent several small squads to support the Librian Guard, who had gradually been building up their presence on the world. This scouting force, amounting to no more than an infantry regiment's worth of troops across the entire planet, was dispersed to key locations, and the Tau determined to take them out one by one.

The first engagement saw the stealth teams swiftly overcome the Sky Lords, who were taken by surprise by the powerful and accurate firepower of the Tau. Having dealt with the astartes, the Tau called in pathfinders as they could see two Imperial Guard squads moving in to investigate the situation. What followed was a confused and bloody firefight that saw neither side victorious, and as both withdrew to assess the situation it marked the opening salvo in a small war between relatively small armies, scattered across a vast planet. There would be no front lines and major military operations on Tanis II, as both sides tried to use their minimal resources to establish dominance over key objectives, to take control of the world without having to employ excessive forces. Tanis II simply wasn't worth it.

Tanis II (Physical)

Eldar make presence felt in Hadron Expanse

Until early 022M42 the eldar had remained disinterested in the affairs of the other races in the Rifts of Hecate. There was nothing of value to the ancient race in the region, and they had no goals of their own to pursue. However the Ynnari and the Rillietan saw via their farseers a different threat. While the rich resources and ancient artefacts were not something the eldar race had any interest in exploiting, should any of the other races achieve dominance in the area, the consequences for their own planes could be dire.

A tyranid resurgence would pose a significant threat, while the prospect of a new Waagh! filled the ancient race with a sense of dread. If the Emerald Serpent achieved their aims or the forces of Nurgle uncovered new ways to spread plague, the outcome would be intolerable, and the march of the utterly infantile Mon-Keigh into the Rifts of Hecate also may have disastrous consequences. As the expeditions into the Rifts grew in strength the Ynnari decided they could not merely sit back and watch.

The eldar attacks appeared without warning against several foes in a simultaneous action that at first targetted the tyranids, the orks and even the Tau - their sometime allies - at Tanis. Ynnari and Harlequin forces fell upon the tyranids at Candic Major, destroying their warriors and taking out several key hive nodes, setting back the hive mind's progress on that world, while the Masque of the Morning Crescent battered the ork speed freak warband that had arrived at Mendesum - removing the greenskins from that world.

On Tanis, the Tau were shocked to be suddenly attacked by Ynnari forces, but the eldar had good reason. They did not desire the Tau to join in the exploration of the Rifts as there were secrets there they had decided were not appropriate for the younger race to learn, so they decided on "direct" pursuasion. The battle on Tanis V was hard fought, with losses on both sides, but the base of operations was razed to the ground, setting back Tau plans to send stronger forces to the Rifts of Hecate - as the eldar had hoped.

Questions were raised as to the priorities and aims of the eldar intervention by Ynnari and craftworld eldar alike, but while the leaders of the Ynnari sect did not reveal all their insights, the instructions were clear. Delay, disrupt and destroy, and above all do not let one faction establish dominance in the Rifts of Hecate.

Chaos make progress at Pyrrho Zeta

 In the Rifts of Hecate the forces of chaos had not been making as much progress as they would have liked by early 022M42. They had sent only small forces into the Rifts to persue their own factional objectives. The Emerald Serpent were seeking ancient scrolls to help with their ongoing cataclysmic war in the Perseus Deeps, while the forces of Nurgle had been researching plague secrets. Other factions were generally no more than roving warbands looking for opportunities, and this had allowed the Imperium and the orks to get a major foothold, while the increase in activity had stirred up the dangerous and predatory nature of the hive mind.

As 03.022M42 began the Emerald Serpent struck back - pooling their resources with a small warband of Iron Warriors in order to gain a proper foothold in the Pyrrho Zeta system. Here, the Iron warriors dealt with an emerging tyranid threat, while the Thousand Sons were deployed to "discourage" the Imperium from its expansion beyond Ferrosiun. The Imperium had a strong base of operations in the Ferrosiun system and were in conflict with the Tyranids on Helos Majoris. They continued to send out scouting expeditions to other worlds and had established small bases on Lodax and Mezria, and the Thousand Sons were aware of an Adeptus Mechanicus exploration at Pyrrho Zeta.

In the ensuing engagement the Adeptus Mechanicus forces were comprehensively beaten, as the Emerald Serpent conducted near simultaneous operations against the forces of mankind and the emerging ork threat. The orks they dealt with in similar fashion, though more forces were required to complete this operation and chaos losses were not insignificant. However by the middle of 03.022M42 the worshippers of the dark gods had established control over half the sparsely populated world.