Monday, June 05, 2023

Imperium defeat Tyranid incursion on Helos Majoris

As 06.023M42 began the Imperium remained overstretched despite the victory on Mordecai Secundus. Inquisitor Cyrus Esquerra had advocated for pulling back from the Rifts of Hecate, but was overruled by Lord Inquisitor Huron who wanted to continue the crusade to the Eastern Fringe. The "crusade" was not in any way a large force, but the Ordo Xenos Lord Inquisitor had his own reasons for continuing the expansion of the Imperium despite the logistical problems.

The invasion of the Zadoc subsector forced Lord Admiral Jellicoe to pull back fleet assets from the Hadron Expanse, leaving the region dangerously exposed, but the withdrawal of the Tau from Ergura's Fall ensured Huron's view prevailed.

The Imperial bases in the Rifts of Hecate centred on the systems of Ferrosiun and Helos Majoris. In early 06.023M42 the latter system came under assault from a splinter of Hive Fleet Poseidon. The splinter force was particularly large and without a fleet to prevent the xenos from landing on the world, the Imperium were forced into a ground war as the alien creatures flooded onto the world. Fortunately for the Crusade, general Maximus had assigned a large proportion of his Imperial Guard to Helos Majoris, and they were able to construct significant defences.

The xenos creatures repeatedly smashed into prepared trench lines, taking heavy casualties, but biovore artillery gradually thinned out the defenders. A counter attack using a hades tunnelling drill failed to achieve its objective, but the battle was eventually turned by the army commander, and his command staff including a commissar. their company of one hundred men was whittled down to just five, but they held onto a key defensive position despite repeated xenos assaults. Unable to break through the imperial lines the Hive Mind withdrew, abandoning their remaining creatures which were exterminated in short order. Helos Majoris had been defended from the Tyranids for now, and general Maximus ordered the defences enhanced.

Fierce fighting on Caitlen Station

The fighting on Caitlen Station and the discovery of Tyranids on board attracted more astartes to join the battle against the foul xenos. In early 06.023M42 the Dark Angels committed a number of squads to join the Hammers of the Emperor, and they quickly encountered creatures of the hive mind as they pushed deeper into the station.

The first encounter favoured the astartes as the tyranids were pushed back in brutal close quarters fighting, but a subsequent counter attack further into the base caused heavy casualties. It was clear the Tyranids were not going to be removed easily from the derelict and strategically vital space installation.

Tau launch invasion of Zadoc

With the Tau invasion of New Cerberex still unresolved the Tau in the Zadoc subsector decided to move forward with their overall plan anyway. The strategic situation was highly favourable as the Tau controlled Tarsis Major, had a good supply route via the Federacy and Libria, and with Caitlen Station contested, almost a complete logistics stranglehold on the subsector.

The next target for Tau forces was the major world and subsector capital of Zadoc. The world had fallen to chaos following the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum, and now the world was ripe for a takeover by the Tau. To facilitate this, rather than launching an immediate invasion of the world, the Tau, led by commander Bright Moon, planned a series of assaults on other system installations and outposts. The two key locations were the orbital trading post and the Zadoc-g Moonbase.

On 0106.023M42 a full Hunter Cadre deployed on the Trading post installation on the frozen planet of Adriante. They were opposed by a force of Thousand Sons, though it is unknown whether these traitor astartes were working for the Emerald Serpent or intervened for other reasons. In the battle however, a manifestation of Magnus the Red was encountered, which posed a significant threat to the Tau invasion. Overwhelming firepower was swiftly employed by the xenos force, and the shard of Magnus was obliterated back to the warp. With their leader and a key chaos sorcerer eliminated, the remaining Thousand Sons were soon surrounded and pushed back, evacuating on 0206.023M42 and leaving the Trading Post in Tau hands.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Zadoc Subsector: Battles on Caitlen Station

In late 05.023M42 the Tau invasion of New Cerberex had stalled thanks to the superb defensive fighting skills of the Dark Angels. Further afield, having been lost in the warp for several years following the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum, the powerful space station and naval docks of Caitlen Station, once a bastion of imperial power in the sector before the fall of Tarsis Major, Zadoc and Libria, and the consumption of Alphe and Betor by the hive fleet known as Nemesis, suddenly reappeared. The station was still fully intact, but devoid of life, apparently abandoned.

This news quickly spread and the astartes of the Hammers of the Emperor chapter quickly moved in to investigate. They were not alone however. The forces of chaos had already sent a strike force to the station from their bases on Zadoc, only to find that the station wasn't entirely derelict. Inside the cramped passageways and ducts, an alien threat lurked. As the Death Guard force moved through the station they were suddenly assaulted by tyranid creatures. The Death Guard put up fierce resistance but were ultimately seen off by the marauding xenos entities.

The Hammers of the Emperor faced a different threat, immediately coming into contact with the abhumans knowns (derisively) as squats. The abhuman force was dealt with after an intense close quarters fight, and the astartes found their enemy to be well equipped and competent fighters. This was the first engagement with the abhumans for many years, and concern grew that the Federal world of Hartak may be preparing to involve itself in the affairs of the Zadoc subsector. The information was passed back to imperial command, and unfortunately word got out.

As rumours spread about the Votann, local imperial commanders were quick to dismiss the armed confrontation with "squats" aboard Caitlen Station as merely a minor engagement against a kinband engaged in looting and salvaging. Imperial intelligence meanwhile, raised concerns about unusual fleet activity at Hartak in the Federacy that might indicate mobilisation, and reported that two cruisers, Sentinel and Watchmen had already broke system several weeks ago and their whereabouts was unknown.

Tau continue to root out xenos on Garmenes

Despite having abandoned the Hecate Gap, the listening post of Garmenes was still an important system for the Tau to control, in order to monitor events in the region. By late 05.023M42 the Tau believed that the tyranid threat had been expunged from the world, but investigations by the Tau water caste indicated that all was not right with the indigenous if small population of humans they had now gained control over.

After several reports of changes to the human population's behaviour, and observations of a new religious cult emerging in some settlements, the Tau deployed in strength to investigate. Instead of a new human religion they quickly realised the activity was centred on one particular "preacher", who had apparently discovered religion rather recently, and was spreading a message involving a "many armed god".

This didn't fool the Tau, and the fire caste deployed a full Hunter Cadre against the main settlement where the cult was preaching, soon finding a full genestealer cult in residence. In the following brutal engagements the cult was eliminated in its entirety, and the settlement of Ang'Por burnt to the ground. The Tau then established water caste "advisors" to all the human settlements to monitor the local populace for the taint of the xenos infestation going forward.

Mordecai: Astartes launch preparation for invasion of Primaris

By the end of 05.023M42 the Imperium had successfully secured Mordecai Secundus. Immediately thoughts turned to the invasion of Mordecai Primaris, the jewel in the crown of the system and the necessary final struggle for Imperial control over the vital strategic location. With Mordecai Secured, the warp lanes from Bastien to the Zadoc Subsector would be significantly easier to traverse, although there was still a need to open a new passage through the Cicatrix Maledictum.

General Kutuzov wanted an early invasion to prevent the forces of chaos from building up their defences. Astralis could not be assaulted directly, but the defences of Mordecai Primaris would need softening up, as well as the capture or neutralisation of the powerful Mordecai Naval Docks.

The Hammers of the Emperor proposed astartes strikes on both the defences of Mordecai Primaris, most notably the missile silos that would endanger any landing force, and to take out the space docks by launching a space marine led invasion of the facility. That way the docks could not be used, but if successful, they may proove useful to the Imperium instead, speeding up the conquest of the major world around which it orbited.

The Hammers of the Emperor dispatched a company strength force to neutralise the missile silos of Mordecai Primaris, while sending a smaller force to board the Mordecai Docks. Meanwhile General Kutuzov began preparations for the full scale invasion of Mordecai Primaris, liaising between the navy, the Adeptus Mechanicus and imperial guard contingents of the planned assault force.

The Hammers of the Emperor performed multiple bombing runs against the missile silo targets, but quickly realised a land force would be necessary to confirm their destruction. The astartes then performed an assault drop, but found the silos defended by a strong force of World Eaters. A furious battle then developed, with the Hammers of the Emperor making use of their close range firepower while keeping out of range of the berserk fury of the traitor astartes dedicated to Khorne.

It almost worked, but in the end the Hammers had not accounted for a force of Brass Scorpions entering the fray, and these units of the arch enemy held onto key locations long enough to deny the loyalist astartes their objectives. With reinforcements on the way, the Hammers of the Emperor were forced to abandon the mission, and the missile silos remained intact.

At Mordecai Docks the imperial fleet under High Admiral Stark supported the Hammers' boarding parties in case of a reaction by the chaos fleet. None was forthcoming, as the chaos vessels would be outnumbered two to one versus the Imperium, and chose not to engage at such unfavourable odds. The station itself put up heavy fire, but the boarding torpedoes and assault boats weathered the storm of fire and breached the fortress walls in several locations. Vicious close range fighting now took place on the station itself, as traitor astartes from the House of Eschar faction of the Death Guard fought bitterly for every corridor. 

The Hammers of the Emperor took heavy casualties from close range employment of plague sprayers by the Death Guard's Foul Blightspawn, which burnt through the Primaris marines' armour, killing many of them. An intervention from the Death Guard Terminators, teleported from Astralis made things even more difficult for the loyalist astartes, but the Hammers of the Emperor sent in their own elite assault troops and eventually cut through the tainted traitors.

By the end of 05.023M42 around a quarter of the Mordecai Docks had been taken by the Hammers of the Emperor, but at a great cost. They would now need assistance from elsewhere to take the rest of the facility, although for now the docks were no longer able to interfere with the imperial invasion of Mordecai Primaris.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Hadron Expanse sees Tau cleanse Garmenes

In mid 05.023M42 it had become clear that the Tau empire was not benefiting from the campaign in the Rifts of Hecate and a rethink of Tau strategy across the sector had already been advocated for by commander Dawnstrike. The Tau commander had proposed to concentrate the Empire's aims in the sector on the Zadoc Subsector and the Hadron Expanse, realising the other factions were committed to major theatres in the Perseus Deeps and the Rifts of Hecate.

With this aim in mind on 2005_023M42 the Tau abandoned the world of Ergura's Fall, leaving the Hecate Gap system in imperial hands. This improved the supply and logistics position for the Tau and would hopefully encourage the Imperium to focus on the Rifts of Hecate as a crusade, lessoning the risk of an attack in force to defend New Cerberex and Hylas, which were to the Imperium, strategically insignificant.

In the Rifts themselves, the Tau were unwilling to give up their new base on Garmenes, as this would provide a useful watching station to inform the Tau command of the situation in the region. Since 01.023M42 a tyranid infestation had been present in the forests of the world, and in 05.023M42 the Tau took the fight to the xenos in the jungle. The battle to hunt down and destroy the remaining hive nodes scattered in the wilderness areas of the planet was long and drawn out, but eventually the tyranid threat was eliminated from Garmenes.

Meanwhile the forces of chaos, though not contesting the Hecate Gap worlds of Haven and Ergura's Fall, took the opportunity to consolidate their positions in the Rift worlds. On Calthinghum they had to once again fight off a necron raid, but a host of daemons was summoned to deal with the ancient race, who found it difficult to deal with the slaanesh manifestations. Chaos forces had less success against the greenskins, but the orks did not show any signs of orchestrating a significant campaign adains their worlds of Mendesum and Calthingum. For now at least, the forces of the dark gods had a secure position in the Rifts of Hecate to act as a base for further operations.

Dark Angels stubbornly defend New Cerberex

The initial phase of Operation Zephyr had gone well despite spirited resistance. The Tau had been highly successful in locating, engaging and destroying Imperial formations and those that remained had fallen back into defensive positions and began to dig in. This left the initiative completely in the hands of the Tau and in time victory would surely be assured.

Despite this there remained a risk. If Imperial forces could continue to hold out they might buy sufficient time for re-enforcements to arrive and turn the conflict into a bloody war of attrition. Dawnstrike wanted to prevent this at all costs, Tau hopes in the sub-sector rested on securing a swift series of victories whilst their enemies were distracted.

The key to breaking the Imperial defence lay in destroying the Astartes base near Mount Bone. If the Space Marines could be removed as an effective fighting force Dawnstrike was confident resistance on New Cerberex would collapse entirely. Under cover of darkness hunter cadres made up of Mu'Gulath Bay veterans moved in on the base from multiple directions with the aim of staging a decisive Mont'ka. The plan was sound and carried out almost to perfection but despite this they had underestimated their post-human opponents. The Dark Angels were well versed in the Tau methodology of war and had been expecting exactly this move.

As the lead mechanised elements of the Tau entered the outskirts of the settlement they found themselves ambushed by infiltrators. Before they could fan out to deal with the unexpected threat the swift moving forces of the Ravenwing launched their own assault, bottling up the Tau and pinning them in place. In time the Tau could have dealt with this nuisance, but time was something they did not have. Reconnaissance drones spotted the lumbering forms of bone armoured terminators pushed out of the buildings in a long skirmish screen. By the time the Tau had extricated themselves from the ambush it would be too late.

Realising that there could be no victory here Dawnstrike ordered his forces to retreat. They could inflict some damage on the humans, but the cost would be the total loss of the cadres committed to the operation and the Tau could not countenance such a poor exchange. With the Astartes proving an intractable obstacle for the time being Dawnstrike knew they would have to find a different approach to regain the momentum on New Cerberex.

Mordecai Secundus falls to imperium

The war for Mordecai Secundus which started on 2710.019M42 officially ended on 2005.023M42, three and a half standard imperial years after it had begun. Following the collapse of the East Front, general Kutuzov wasted no time in pushing fresh units through the gap for the final drive on Talo'khar. Resistance on the way to the city was almost nil, with only a few disorganised cultists giving any meaningful resistance in the conquest of the remaining Jurukai mines. It was expected that the fight for the city would be much harder, but the chaos defences had been completely unhinged by the offensive in the east, destroying the capability for the Emerald Serpent or the Death Guard to put up any meaningful resistance. the only force of note available to defend Talo'khar was the Night Lords, who chose not to fight in the city itself, instead hoping to ambush and destroy what appeared to be a fresh and potentially green formation of imperial guard leading the offensive.

The force that drove towards Talo'khar was made up predominantly of the Lunar Guard, an experienced and well equipped fighting force that had seen action on Libria and Hylas before being redeployed after the coming of the great rift. Now the Lunar Guard, fully re-equipped with fresh equipment and a new organisation, were tougher than ever, and took the fight to the attacking night lords. Using heavy mortar batteries to soften up the enemy traitor astartes, the Lunar Guard followed up with a devastating combined armoured and infantry assault, breaking the Night Lords and surrounding the city of Talo'khar. Tentatively the imperial force moved into the city, but found no significant defences. The last chaos stronghold and supply centre of the enemy army had been taken.

With no spaceports, and no centres of industry left, the chaos forces on Mordecai Secundus now held nothing other than worthless lava plains. Their only supply route was the warp link with Astralis, and as general Kutuzov prepared for a bloody struggle to remove the remaining forces from the planet, imperial intelligence noted that the warp link to Astralis was now being used to evacuate the arch enemy's elite forces. The Death Guard, the Darrantine Guard, Emperor's Children and Thousand Sons all abandoned the world, no doubt regrouping via Astralis to the world of Mordecai Primaris, which would now be the next invasion target for the Imperium. Kutuzov couldn't meaningfully interrupt this evacuation, so watch on as millions of enemy troops left the world.

The war for Mordecai Secundus was over. The cost had been high, almost eight million had been lost all told in the battle for the mining world, in three and a half years. Initial projections of winning the world in six months had been dashed by the arrival of the daemon world of Astralis, and on a number of occasions the success of the invasion had hung in the balance. Historical Analiticae of the Tactica Imperialis would study the campaign for years to come, but for now imperial high command collectively drew breath, and celebrated the capture of a key world for the Imperium of Mankind. After millennia, Mordecai Secundus was once again under imperial rule.

The war for the Mordecai System was not over however. Astralis still hung like a sickly orb in the skies over all the worlds in the system, and the Mordecai space docks remained intact, and a powerful fleet base with an array of lethal defences. Above all however, the fortress world of Mordecai Primaris and its sprawling cities, harbouring a total population of over a billion, remained the main target for the overall Mordecai campaign, and it was still in the hands of the arch enemy. Both sides paused in 05.023M42, as the Imperium prepared its plans for the next invasion, and the forces of chaos built up their defences to meet the next assault.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Mordecai Secundus: East Front collapse

Having broken the back of the chaos defences on the East Front, and taking the Teleor mines, the Imperium knew it had to continue the pressure and not give the forces of the enemy any time to regroup. The rush across the Howl and the taking of the mines had been such a spectacular success, but by 1605.023M42 the Librian armoured regiments were in no position to continue the push, there were no astartes on hand, and the Novgorod Guard were fully committed against the elite forces of the Emerald Serpent on the Central, Southern and Northern sectors. General Kutuzov conducted many meetings looking for any available force, and eventually managed to persuade the Adeptus Mechanicus to force a passage to Malnath, and down the broken coast into the Jurukai mines.

As the Adeptus Mechanicus force deployed directly to the Teleor mines area from orbit, without any threat of aerial interdiction, intelligence came in that nurgle forces were reinforcing the tzeentch forces around Malnath. The Mechanicum responded by diverting a significant force in the shape of a Mechanicum Knights Household to Malnath to cover their other forces who moved south with little opposition into the Jurukai mines.

The main fighting erupted around the city itself, with tzeentch and nurgle daemons attempting to defend the city from the Mechanicum knights. Early success by the beasts of nurgle wiping out a Helverin was soon reversed, as an explosive chain reaction laid low a Soul Grinder, a Lord of Change and a Warglaive around the centre of the main fighting, allowing a Questoris Knight Styrix known as "Dreadnought" to break the chaos lines, banishing a horde of flamers of tzeentch and slaying a Great Unclean One in single combat.

With their main daemon leaders slain, the remaining lesser daemons became unstable and vanished from the area, leaving the battlefield, and the city of Malnath in the hands of the Imperium, the Knight Crusader named "Warspite" marching triumphantly into the city on 1705_023M42. With the East Front now completely in disarray, only the city Talo'Khar remained in chaos hands, and the chaos forces on the other fronts now found themselves almost completely out of supply. If Talo'khar fell, the war on Mordecai Secundus would be over.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Imperial Breakthrough on Mordecai Secundus

Following on from the advance in the central sector on Mordecai Secundus, led by the Hammers of the Emperor, the forces of chaos rushed to shore up their defences to prevent a headlong rush by the Imperium across the Mekken Plateau, which would threaten the last area of strategic worth currently under chaos control. The Jurukai and Teleor mine complexes, along with the major settlements of Malnath and Talo'khar, represented the last great centres of chaos control, and were clearly now the target for the imperial offensive.

Imperial high command expected this move, and had prepared an alternative. Disguising their build up as much as they could, the Dark Angels were assigned a breakthrough mission in the north east, smashing through the chaos lines in order to let the newly arrived and significantly reinforced Librian mechanised regiments to push through in an unexpected and rapid advance across the Northern Howl, then turning south the take the Te'leor mines.

The Dark Angels quickly smashed the chaos front lines on 1305.023M42, creating a hole in the enemy defences over 50 kilometres wide. In response the forces of the dark gods raised an army of daemons in their path, but the Dark Angels cut them down, banishing the horde back to the warp. The Librian armoured forces now rolled through the gap as infantry from multiple regiments surrounded pockets of chaos defenders in the rear areas, gradually degrading them and wiping them out.

In the path of the main advance the cultists defending this sector, unprepared for the Librian armour now rolling inexorably in their direction, summoned yet another daemonhost and charged into the imperial tanks. The imperial armour of the Librians however proved to be too much for even the greater daemons of the warp to stop, as a Keeper of Secrets found its other worldly powers no match for the adamantium reinforced hull of the Librian Leman Russ, and even fiends of Slaanesh found themselves unable to break through the armour of the imperial tanks. 

Knowing the enemy well after their previous battles agains daemonic forces, the Librians concentrated their firepower first on the more numerous daemonettes, leaving the larger entities with no support, before focussing their firepower on the greatest threat, a lord of Change. With this great entity banished back to the warp, the armoured force rolled over the remaining daemonic forces, and by 1605.023M42 the Teleor mines were now in imperial hands. The war on Mordecai Secundus had entered the end game.

Fighting in the Hadron Expanse

Fighting in the Rifts of Hecate continued as 05.023M42 progressed. On Calthingum the Death Guard finally turned the static war against the greenskins decisively in their favour, destroying the remaining ork cohesion and effectively clearing the world from the greenskin threat. Meanwhile the tyranids, fresh from their consumption of the resources on Mezria IV, moved ever forwards, tendrils of the hive fleets now reaching Ferrosiun. Lacking in any meaningful fleet protection while both the Orks and Imperium geared up for their final showdown at Haven in the Hecate Gap, small bioships and pods were able to get through to the surface of both Ferrosiun Prime and Secundus. On Ferrosiun Prime inconclusive fighting did little to shake the greenskin grip on the planet, and on Ferrosiun Secundus, the site of a sizeable imperial base, the tyranid incursion was dealt with decisively by the Novgorod Guard. These were but the first tendrils however, and the other factions fighting in the Rifts of Hecate waited nervously to find out where the hive fleet would strike next.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

The Aleph Sector 0705_023M42

Tau Launch Operation Zephyr

With the T'au presence on New Cerberex now revealed Dawn Strike knew that they needed to press their advantage to the maximum before the Imperium could begin to redirect forces back to the Zadoc subsector. The full strength of the T'au fleet moved into orbit around New Cerberex and the battleships began full orbital deployment of forces whilst the cruisers took up geostationary positions so as to be available for bombardment missions.

The biggest problem facing the T'au was what to do with the Dark Angels base on the world. More reckless sub-commanders argued for the adoption of Mont'ka in order to knock out the elite warriors at the start of the campaign but Dawn Strike respected the human Astartes too much to believe it would be an easy victory. With the element of surprise now gone Dawnstrike instead opted to dispatch a hunter cardre under Commander Bright Moon to pin down Dark Angels whilst his other forces spread out from the beach head with the intent of crushing the scattered and weaker Militarum formations whilst they were still scrambling to organise themselves.

In the south battle was soon joined with the remaining Librian mechanised formations as a hunter cadre under Commander Sure Strike attempted to move into the planet's vital space port. Once again the Librians put up a fierce fight and initially had the advantage over their T'au opponents. The Librians faced the T'au with a wall of armoured fighting vehicles and tanks, and a vigorous exchange of fire forces the T'au to close and try to silence the big guns in close combat. Although they were successful and caused major casualties amongst the supporting infantry, outflanking Hellhounds backed by Chimera transport vehicles caused carnage amongst the T'au and kroot infantry, with only the T'au Ghost Keels proving a difficult challenge for the Librian armoured regiment.

With all his cunning and patience, Sure Strike maintained the pressure and as night fell the fighting finally died off. The T'au had made no progress but the Librian's stocks of ammunition and fuel were exhausted and they were given no choice but to fall back into the city of New Feducia and dig in for a final stand whilst the T'au claimed the port facilities and surrounded the city.

Meanwhile Dawn Strike's own cadres sped across the northern lowlands and down into the western coastal region. To their surprise they met little opposition and began to fear a trap had been set for them. The cadres broke up into smaller forces so they could cover more ground and a small hunter cadre finally located the enemy in the beautific coastal village of Laurier. Realising that only a small enemy force opposed him the fireblade commanding the cadre chose to attack immediately rather than wait for re-enforcment and risk the possibility his enemy might dig in or slip away.

It proved to be a sound decision. A hammerhead tank formed the bait of the Kauyon as it exchanged fire with a large and hitherto unknown class of Imperial tank. As the two vehicles duelled a lone ghostkeel slipped around the flank and destroyed the formidable heavy tank that was the linchpin of the Imperial position. T'au fire warriors advanced whilst laying down disciplined volleys of fire and the Imperial defences began to crumble before collapsing entirely. The T'au encountered no further opposition and they continued to sweep south down the coast. Either the Imperials had concentrated all their forces in the capital or they had chosen to withdraw to avoid being cut off and surrounded by their more mobile enemy.

The attack on the Dark Angel's base under Commander Bright Moon was repulsed with heavy losses, with the T'au commander succumbing bizarrely to a random psychic event that neither side were able to explain. Dawn Strike hadn't allowed himself to hope they would destroy the elite Astartes but the casualties had proved more costly than he had feared, the post human warrior's having prepared their own Kauyon. Rather than break out the Dark Angels dug in and strengthened their position. Their numbers were few and it was clear they believed the defence of rest of the planet to be untenable in the face of the T'aus overwhelming advantage in mobility, logistics and momentum. They would make their stand at the base of Mount Bone until re-enforcements could reach them or else die gloriously for their corpse emperor. Either way the T'au would have to deal with them before they could claim control of the planet. 

In Imperial High command there was significant consternation at the T'au progress and the slowness of the Imperial response. Lord Admiral Jellicoe had for weeks been concerned at the lack of fleet presence in the Zadoc subsector, and at the initial invasion had ordered Admiral Craddock to the area from the Hadron Expanse. Now the battleship Vanguard and four other capital ships had arrived at Hylas, and prepared to make the warp jump to the New Cerberex system. Meanwhile General Gort was appointed by Lord Commander Baran Price, to immediately prepare an army to reinforce the New Cerberex system, or if necessary, reinvade.

Battles in the Rifts of Hecate

As 05.023M42 began the fighting in the Rifts of Hecate continued. The Imperium and Tau were less active as they fought their other wars in the Perseus Deeps and Zadoc subsector, but the other factions were no less active in their quest for domination over the key worlds near the Hecate Gap. 

On Mezria IV the orks landed, presumably with the intention of finding another world to plunder, but ran straight into a horde of xenos creatures. The tyranids had not been inactive in the Rifts and had been preparing the world for consumption by the Hive Mind. The orks battled furiously but where quickly overwhelmed by the tyranids and destroyed. This action raised the alarm amongst the necrons who realised that significant necron artefacts would be lost were the planet to be consumed by the alien menace. Launching a raid into the Mezria IV system the necrons attempted to obtain their ancient artefacts before the tyranids destroyed the world for good, but they were unsuccessful in the face of overwhelming tyranid force. Having dealt with the orks and necrons the tyranids proceeded with their plan, and by mid 05.023M42 the worlds of Mezria IV had been utterly consumed, their biomass and surface crust turned into building blocks for more tyranid life forms.

Mezria IV wasn't the only world to suffer raids as the necrons became increasingly concerned by the lower races' activity in the region. Lacking the strength to simply push their enemies aside the lords of the necron race decided on a strategy of search and retrieval, and another force was sent to the chaos controlled world of Calthingum to rescue more tomb secrets from a world that had once been part of their mighty empire in ages past. This time the necrons were successful, forcing aside an Iron Warriors army that had been investigating the ruins of the necron civilisation. One tomb at least had been saved from the predations of the lesser races.

the necron raid presented the Drukhari with an opportunity, or so they thought. With the main armed forces of chaos distracted by the necrons, the chaos settlements clustering around the tomb complex on Calthinghum's southern hemispheres ought to be easy pickings for a slave raid. However the dark eldar had miscalculated, and as soon as their raiders left Commorragh and appeared on the world, they found the cultists were not as defenceless as they had believed. A host of daemons was summoned to oppose the raiding Drukhari, and despite taking down a Keeper of Secrets, the host of other worldly beings devastated the dark eldar raiders, and few escaped back into the webway.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Chaos battle on in Rifts of Hecate

While the Imperium made progress in the Perseus Deeps, and the Tau started a new axis of offensives in the Zadoc subsector, the forces of chaos were still battling in the Rifts of Hecate. The ruinous powers appeared to have no overall command or plan for the campaign in this region, rather individual chaos warbands were fighting for their own goals. The Emerald Serpent and the Death Guard - the two largest organised chaos factions in the sector, had withdrawn their support from the Hadron Expanse, making no attempt to contest the Hecate Gap. However the individual warbands still represented a significant force and posed difficult obstacles for the other powers in the region.

On Calthingum, nominally a chaos controlled world, the cultists that held sway over the meagre settlements had been disrupted by an ork invasion, and in early 05.042M42 raised a host of daemons to counter the greenskin threat. Despite wielding giant war engine contraptions, the daemons battered the orks into submission, driving them away from important locations on the northern hemisphere of the sparsely populated world.

Elsewhere the tendrils of the hive fleet once again started to launch small exploratory missions to a number of worlds. One nest of Tyranids was discovered on Calthingum and eliminated, before the night lords then launched their own investigation mission to Mezria VI. Finding the world all but overrun by the xenos hive mind creatures, a fierce battle erupted. Both sides engaged in a closely fought engagement before the Night Lords, having realised the extent of the tyranid invasion, reasoned that they had successfully scouted the world, and tactically withdrew. The tyranids had only suffered minor damage overall, and the engagement led to no useful gains for either side.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Tau invade New Cerberex - Zadoc subsector

The T'au Empire had been patiently watching and waiting as the Imperium became more and more overstretched. With the Imperium sinking most of its resources into the Hecate Gap crusade and the grinding war of attrition on Mordecai, and what little strength was left busy fighting fires across an entire sector, the Zadoc subsector was left virtually undefended. Any re-enforcements would have to be withdrawn from other critical warzones. Plans to initiate a new expansion sphere were already well underway when Farseer Tarquil from Kel Sandros arrived to pledge his craftworld's full military and diplomatic assistance to such an endeavor provided the Tau would agree to avoid certain areas of nearby space the Aeldari had proscribed as off limits.

With the last Imperial fleet suddenly being withdrawn and dispatched to the Valitane sub-sector the T'au knew there would never have a better opportunity to attack. A fleet entered the New Cerberex system and took advantage of gaps in the Imperial sensor net to build up a considerable bridgehead in the unpopulated wilderness areas of the planet. The first Imperial forces knew of the Tau presence was when a vital power relay station came under orbital bombardment from a cloaked Tau battleship. Astra Militarum defenders began rushing to defend the station only to find Tau ground forces already there.

Commander Dawnstrike, living up to his moniker, attacked out of the morning mists with a sizeable force of armoured vehicles and battlesuits. His intention was to ensure the destruction of the hardened power substations which mostly lay buried beneath the surface. His mont'ka was perfectly executed and the lead Leman Russ tanks detonated as they were ambushed at point blank range by crisis teams and enfiladed by Hammerhead tanks.

Despite the initial success things soon started to go wrong for the Tau as Imperial resistance proved unexpectedly effective. The Librian regiments stationed at the plant, thought to be poor quality rear-echelon units, instead showed a high level of training and co-ordination despite the dire circumstances and re-enforcements began arriving from all directions. Soon it was the Tau that were surrounded and fighting for their lives.

Casualties began to mount and Dawnstrike himself was surrounded and pounded by small arms until he was forced to burn his thrusters and disengage by launching his coldstar battlesuit like a ballistic missile into the skies. After hours of fighting the battered remnants of the hunter cadre fell back and ceded the field to the Librians, but they had completed their task. The relay stations were smoking ruins and much of New Cerberex's defence infrastructure now lacked power.

As Dawnstrike floated in his convalescence tank he made a note to upgrade his assessment of the planet's defenders, but also noted that for all their competence the Librians had exhibited poor morale and seemed little inclined to die in the cause of an Imperium which treated them with hatred and suspicion following their worlds defection to the Federacy. Maybe words could achieve the Tau aims more cleanly than force?

Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Battle of Primaris Run - Decisive Imperial Victory

Prelude to Battle
Admiral Stark was quick to attempt to capitalise on the success of defeat of the two chaos cruisers that had tried to disupt the convoy route, and sent his plans by astropathic message to Jellicoe back at Vastrid. The Lord Admiral sent back a response approving of Stark's next action, aware that if anything went wrong it would be Jellicoe, not his subordinate who would shoulder any blame directed at battlefleet Aleph. Many in battlefleet Ultima were still not impressed at the unexpected removal of the late Lord Admiral Bova Magnus, and the mysterious reappearance of the presumed dead Jellicoe, so he reasoned that Stark could be protected from the political machinations of the Imperial Navy, leaving his admirals to get on with the job of fighting the enemy.

Stark's hunch was that the enemy would not have sortied with only one or two cruisers, but that the appearance of chaos heavy ships attacking the convoy was aimed to provoke an imperial response, such as a cruiser force to protect the convoys, as he had discerned that the enemy's plan was likely to pick off portions of the imperial fleet piecemeal, until the numbers were less unfavourable to the forces of chaos. Stark however, planned a surprise for this fleet. The ships had been positively identified as those loyal to Tragean, or rather traitor admiral Khazia, and the imperial admiral knew that this likely meant the rest of his fleet would be loose in the system, but not, probably, those of the Emerald Serpent. It was a risk, but one Stark thought worth taking. He took his own battlegroup headed by the battleship Kirov, and headed in system, attempting to bring the faster chaos fleet to battle under favourable circumstances, if there was in fact any fleet at all.

What then followed for Stark on 1604.023M42, was a series of events that were part providence, and part tactical brilliance by the imperial admiral, not just because of his masterful knowledge of imperial tactics, but because he read his opponent correctly. His experienced crew then provided the final edge which put the chaos fleet at an appalling disadvantage before the first shot had even been fired. As soon as long range augur probes detected the enemy fleet, admiral Stark recognised the characteristic cross formation, indicating the chaos forces would try to envelop him. Quickly he ordered the imperial fleet to form into a protective sphere, but as the chaos fleet moved towards him, now obviously accepting battle, the admiral changed his plan again, outmanoeuvring admiral Khazia to end up enveloping the chaos fleet.

This, was risky. As the two fleets approached the imperial fleet detached Tannenberg and Tsushima, leaving them facing the chaos fleet with their powerful prow nova cannons, while the rest of his fleet now moved up the chaos left flank, putting Kirov and the rest of the imperial battlefleet prow on and ready to strike. This was a dangerous ploy, as if the chaos fleet detected the imperial vessels as they moved amongst the gas clouds and asteroid belts cluttering the space between Mordecai Primaris and Secundus, he would be facing the entire enemy fleet's broadsides before Stark could charge in with a torpedo strike. Now he had to hold his nerve and trust in the frontal armour of his ships.

The Battle
The opening salvoes of the battle of Primaris Run took place at 15:20 local system time, and it was the imperial fleet that fired first. The chaos fleet of admiral Khazia had finally become aware of the enemy's plans but were slow in powering up weapons systems, and before they had managed to come to full readiness, the imperial fleet was opening fire and had loosed their first wave of torpedoes. The battle of Primaris Run had started.

Imperial report excerpt follows:

15:24 - Torpedoes launched from Narva, Eagle, Viper squadron and Kirov towards van of enemy fleet. Narva and Eagle detached to move round enemy's rear, firing macro batteries and lances at enemy from their port quarter. Enemy fleet seen to take evasive manoeuvres. 
15:50 - Nova cannon fire from Tsushima, Izmail and Tannenberg is accurate. Decisive shot believed from Tsushima. Enemy grand cruiser Pestilent Miasma heavily damaged and seen breaking off action.
15:51 - Torpedo wave arrives at chaos fleet. Enemy hades class Doombringer seen on fire and crippled by mass torpedo salvoes.
15:53 - Chaos fleet returns fire but believed hampered by clouds of gas, radiation and debris from imperial fire. Various chaos vessels taking evasive action from torpedoes. Chaos fleet focusses flagship but return fire is poor and largely inaccurate due to our surprise strike. Kirov focussed but damage is not critical.
15:56 - Report all ships reloaded torpedoes. Eagle preparing to send bomber wave to chaos fleet. Flagship will be target.
15:59 - Enemy flagship Mutable Transfiguration focussed with torpedoes, bombers and weapons batteries from our van. Kirov recovering from damage. Chaos flagship confirmed heavily damaged as a result of our actions. Enemy heavy cruiser Doombringer out of control and on fire.
16:10 - Enemy flagship Mutable Transfiguration has lost shields and is trying to disengage.
16:12 - Confirm enemy flagship on fire and out of control. Suspect total power failure. Doombringer confirmed out of action and drifting.
16:14 - Tannenberg and Tsushima closing with enemy fleet from the port bow.
16:16 - Tannenberg rammed by enemy cruiser Unbridled Depravity, Captain of Tannenberg reporting minimal damage but under heavy fire from chaos fleet. Enemy wave of assault boats seen inbound on Tannenberg's position.
16:18 - Tannenberg reporting loss of all weapons to enemy assault boat attacks. Have given permission for disengagement. Rapturous Agony duelling with Eagle and Narva.
16:19 - Narva reports Rapturous Agony heavily damaged and disengaging. By the Emperor I think we may be in for a stunning victory.
16:20 - Tsushima reports accurate nova cannon shot. Devastation class cruiser Unbridled Depravity disengages from battle.
16:25 - Tannenberg reports successful disengagement from battle.
16:30 - Doomblade only chaos ship remaining hostile. Have regrouped fleet to give her full broadside. Viper squadron ordered to torpedo her.
16:41 - Viper squadron torpedo run successful. Enemy carnage vessel Doomblade suffers plasma drive overload. No damage to imperial vessels.
16:45 - Confirm no enemy hostile vessels remain. Receiving damage reports. We have secured tremendous success here today.

The final result of the battle of Primaris Run could not be described as anything other than a stunning imperial victory. For the price of light damage to the battleship Kirov, and the heavily damaged Tannenberg, admiral Stark had secured the loss of three enemy capital ships including a heavy cruiser and a battleship, as well as heavy damage to a grand cruiser and two more cruisers. The Imperium celebrated this success with sector wide broadcasts, and Lord Admiral Jellicoe publicly announced admiral Stark's promotion to High Admiral, along with the highest campaign medal he was able to bestow on his subordinate, the Star of Ultima.

The fate of Khazia the Schemer was less glorious, as, on his drifting and battered ship the Mutable Transfiguration, the millennia old worshipper of the dark gods found to his cost, the price of failure. His body writhing in agony as the chaos gods withdrew their patronage, mutations running wild, Khazia the Schemer became Khazia, the cursed, chaos spawn of Tzeentch.

In the Mordecai system the strategic value of this victory was immense and immediate. The crippled chaos ships not only fled, but Tragean withdrew his remaining vessels from the entire system, leaving only the Emerald Serpent now to oppose the imperial vessels and supply train. Even more significant, the diminishing threat from chaos raiders allowed Stark to send Admiral Hughes' powerful fleet, with many squadrons of fighters and bombers, to provide air support and bombardments to Kutuzov's army. For the first time, the Imperium now looked in a strong position to actually finish the campaign on Mordecai Secundus.

Order of Battle

Imperial Fleet (Admiral Stark)
Kirov - Retribution class battleship - light damage
Narva - Gothic class cruiser
Tsushima - Dominator class cruiser
Tannenberg - Dominator class cruiser - crippled
Izmail - Dominator class cruiser
Eagle - Dictator class cruiser (attached from admiral Dreyer)
3 Viper class escorts

Chaos Fleet (Khazkia the Schemer)
Mutable Transfiguration - Despoiler class battleship - hulked
Pestilent Miasma - Repulsive class grand cruiser - crippled
Doombringer - Hades class heavy cruiser - hulked
Doomblade - Carnage class cruiser - exploded
Rapturous Agony - Carnage class cruiser - crippled
Unbridled Depravity - Devastation class cruiser - crippled

Imperial convoys attacked at Mordecai

For many months the chaos fleet had been holed up in their base at Mordecai docks. The docks themselves were too powerful and too close to Astralis for the imperial fleets to challenge, but the fleet "in being" was making almost no contribution to the war in the Mordecai system. At the docks two fleets remained, those of the Emerald Serpent but also two battlegroups who pledged allegience to Lord Tragean, lord of Kendrenec. Tragean himself had grown tired of the war on Mordecai, and although his two fleets remained in situ in the system, he gave overall command to the fleets to the chaos lord Khazia the Schemer, while Tragean himself pursued his pursuit of power with the dark god Tzeentch, uninterested in the fate of Mordecai or that of the Emerald Serpent. Mad admiral Thok had also not been seen for many years, and Warsmith Stahl hadn't been seen since the debacle at Hexis, having apparently returned to the Enceladus subsector to brood, and imperial intelligence were now confident that the forces they had deployed in the system would be difficult to challenge.

The Imperium was not without its own difficulties, as Admiral Hector had been withdrawn from the sector, and Jellicoe had to ensure the entire remit of his domain was adequately protected, which given the reach of the extended campaigns was a serious challenge, but by 04.023M42 the admiral was reasonably confident that the Imperium had a three to two advantage in capital ships in the system, though the power of Astralis and the actual fleet numbers at the disposal of the Emerald Serpent was difficult to accurately assess. Jellicoe also had confidence in the overall command of the four battlegroups at Mordecai, which he gave to Admiral Stark. Stark was a bold and confident admiral, something Jellicoe admired, and the lord Admiral had good reason to be confident as his subordinate had regularly delivered decisive imperial victories.

Admiral Stark, with his flag aboard the Kirov, a mighty retribution class battleship, had three other battlegroups under his command, making four in total. His own personal command was reinforced by admiral Dreyer's and that of admiral Hughes, while his own protégé admiral Gorshkov commanded another force, which had now been tasked with escorting the vital convoys from the system's jump point to the warzone at Mordecai Secundus. Stark himlelf along with Dreyer, stood guard against any sortie by the chaos fleets from their anchorage, while admiral Hughes was assigned to patrol the outer reaches of the system and crucially the jump points into the system.

In mid 04.023M42 the change in chaos posture within the system became evident with multiple contacts being picked up by a convoy as it transferred men and materiel to the armies of Kutuzov. The cruisers Narva, a gothic class and the Eagle, a dictator class on loan from admiral Dreyer's fleet moved in swiftly to investigate while ordering the transports to form up into a single squadron for mutual defence. Soon attack waves of bombers appeared to harass the convoy, but these were easily dealt with. More worryingly, no sooner had the chaos attack craft been dealt with than the augurs detected what appeared to be two capital class chaos vessels.

The commodore aboard the Narva ordered battle stations, and soon engaged in a duel with a carnage class vessel that did not appear to be loyal to the Emerald Serpent. The Narva joined battle quickly, but not before the enemy vessel had taken down two of the eight transports. Then, a squadron of chaos escorts materialised in front of the Eagle, with yet another contact appearing off the dictator class's bow. The captain of the Eagle wasted no time for confirmation of the contacts and launched all bomber waves against the escorts, while issuing orders for a full broadside. Meanwhile, taking a risk, he ordered the torpedoing of the unknown contract off the bow, before setting all ahead full to deal with this new unidentified enemy.

The Eagle's bold move took the chaos escorts completely off guard, and they were quickly destroyed. Meanwhile the duel between the carnage class and the Narva reached a crescendo, with the chaos vessel concentrating on the transports the Narva was unmolested as it patiently took aim with its massive lance batteries. The Narva's accuracy was creditible, and although the chaos cruiser managed to take out a third transport, the enemy vessel was driven off, heavily damaged by Narva's guns and a torpedo strike. While the Narva duelled the carnage class, the Eagle now saw what the enemy contact was, as the hasty torpedo salvo detonated against the thick hull plating of a hades class heavy cruiser. Not expecting the sudden appearance of torpedoes while still apparently hidden from the imperial vessel, the hades barely made any move to avoid the torpedoes, and the damage was severe. With one salvo the eagle had crippled the enemy heavy cruiser, and to add insult to injury the captain of the imperial ship moved in, silencing the enemy ships guns and boarding the vessel. 

Having dealt with the two cruisers and escorts, the engagement then turned to mopping up. A few more attack waves were spotted and dealt with, and the remaining five transports, who themselves had acted creditably in the action using their limited gun batteries to aid the Narva, made it safely to Mordecai Secundus. As a bonus, the Eagle sent the now captured badly damaged hades class back to the imperial docks as a prize of war, while messaging admiral Stark. Stark immediately judged that this meant lord Tragean's subordinate, Khazia the Schemer, was probably at large in force, and sent Dreyer to Mordecai Tersius in case of a sneak attack, while he ordered Eagle and Narva to rendezvous with him near Mordecai Secundus, where a sudden strike by one chaos battlefleet would be the most damaging.

Orks eliminate Ferrosiun Prime Bridgehead

As 04.023M42 began, the decisive battles for the Hecate Gap worlds had still not taken place. The Tau prepared for the imperial assault on Ergura's Fall, while the Imperium continued to prepare to take on the Orks at Haven. In the meantime the war for the Rifts of Hecate worlds continued as Inquisitor Huron urged general Maximus to pursue an "all fronts" strategy and not to wait until success in the Hecate Gap.

This strategy suffered a setback in the Ferosiun system however in early 04.023M42, as the imperial bridgehead won by the astartes on Ferosiun Prime, came under unexpected attack from the greenskins as the imperial guard were deploying to take the offensive to the orks.

unexpected, because instead of their larger brethren, the greenskin attack was led by the diminutive "grots", who attacked in overwhelming numbers. Imperial intelligence had clearly underestimated the combat strength of this force as it became known to general Maximus that they had known about the grot horde, but merely considered it a non combat formation. This error would cost many imperial lives as well as the future prospects of the imperial intelligence cadre working for the crusade general.

Wave after wave of greenskins overwhelmed the imperial defensive lines, and each time their lines were cleared there were fewer defenders, and with the orbital landers unable to reinforce to make good these losses, it was only a matter of time before those imperial defenders left on Ferosiun Prime were overrun and the imperial bridgehead lost. Unwilling to reinforce failure and cost more lives, the imperial battlegroup retreated away from the inner planet, leaving it to the greenskins for now, and consigning any imperial prisoners to a short brutal life as a slave to the greenskin race.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Mordecai Secundus: Hammers of the Emperor Breakthrough

By late 03.023M42 the forces of chaos were decidedly on the back foot following victories by the Imperial Guard and the ever increasing supplies now reaching the system thanks to the protection of no fewer than four imperial battlegroups in the system. The power of Astralis maintained the chaos logistics but the inactivity or inability of the chaos warfleets to oppose the imperial fleets had ensured that as the armies of general Kutuzov expanded their control over the vital resources of Mordecai Secundus, the gap between the chaos forces reinforcements and those of the Imperium of Mankind continued to widen.

To capitalise on this Kutuzov asked his council of war for new plans for a breakthrough, and the Hammers of the Emperor, having fully recovered from their losses in previous actions offered to decisively break the chaos lines and drive deep into enemy territory, on two fronts simultaneously, in three carefully planned operations.

In the central sector the Hammers drove swiftly west, hoping to take the chaos forts of Parganath just north of the Sarkar Traps, and fort Mekken, guarding the high ground of the Mekken plateau. In the east, a smaller operation would drive the chaos forces out of the Abrax mines once and for all, and in both cases the Imperial Guard would follow up behind and dig into new defences.

The success of these operations would break the chaos forces in the central sector, while shoring up the east front. If the astartes achieved their objectives, the way would be open for a grand offensive over the Mekken plateau and down into the Jurukai mines, all but ensuring victory for the Imperium on Mordecai Secundus.

In all three operations the Hammers quickly overwhelmed the light forces holding the front lines, but were opposed rapidly by elite chaos knight formations that threatened to block the astartes advance and undo the whole operation. At fort Parganath, the astartes faced two blocks of enemy war machines, but were able to utilise their speed and mobility to focus down one flank, then turn their attention to the other. Fort Parganath fell in hours and the Imperial Guard began moving up behind.

On the east front, the marines were also successful, although the battle was far less one sided. The knights took a terrible toll on the marines but were forced to withdraw having lost all but one of their mighty war engines. The sacrifice of many marines was worth it however, as the Abrax mines were retaken and the east front shored up.

Fort Mekken was a different story however. Once again the chaos knights deployed in two supporting echelons, but this time the Hammers were unable to separate them as they supported one another. The fighting bogged down into violent close range melee, and the marines found themselves now surrounded and in desperate straits. The Guard, realising the fort would not fall dug in where they were, in case of a breakthrough, though the Hammers and chaos logistics prevented this from happening. A company of astartes was all but wiped out however, and fort Mekken stayed in chaos hands, stubbornly holding out and preventing any massive imperial breakthrough.

Despite the setback at Mekken, the Imperium had made good, if not spectacular progress, and while the chaos central sector hadn't completely collapsed, fort Mekken was now the last bastion of chaos force preventing the Imperium from driving west in strength.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Rifts of Hecate update

By 04.023M42 the Imperium had gone on the offensive once again in the Rifts of Hecate. Encouraged by Inquisitor Huron general Maximus saw an opportunity to enhance his flagging career having been demoted by the newly appointed overall commander of astra militarum forces in the sector - Baran Price. However as this news filtered back to the sector capital on Vastrid this caused some disquiet. Supply lines to the Hadron Expanse remained overstretched, the war on Mordecai was far from won and the Imperial Navy did not have enough forces or reliable warp lanes to adequately provide the logistics for a proper campaign, and protect the Imperial interests in the Hadron Expanse.

Worse, the Imperium hadn't yet achieved victory in the Hecate Gap. Granted recent battles had seen the forces of chaos, the tyranids and necrons abandon the attempt to gain control over the gap, at least for now, but the Tau and orks remained entrenched, and the eldar were increasingly worried that an overstretched Imperium was not aligned to its overall goals. While the Imperium kept winning this didn't seem to be an imminent threat, but Sector Cardinal Valentina Schumadz sent an urgent message to general Maximus, demanding he secure the gap and that all further offensive operations on new world must first be cleared with high command on Vastrid.

Mordecai: Central Sector Advance

In 03.023M42 the Imperium opened a new offensive on Mordecai Secundus with the help of the Dark Angels. Their supply lines now in much better shape compared to their enemy on the planet, major operations could once again be resumed, and the new offensive targeted the forts opposing the imperial lines of the central sector. The plan by general Kutuzov was to take at least one of these forts using the astartes, before following up with the imperial guard, and in time perhaps cut off, or force the withdrawal of, chaos forces occupying the narrow strip of land west of Nazurgal and fort Pargenath.

The operation went well, although the fighting between the Dark Angels and Night Lords for the chaos forts was intense and brutal. Neither side were in the mood for giving any quarter, and for the Dark Angels it was also a matter of pride, their forces having suffered a defeat at the hands of their traitorous brethren in recent months. After a hard fight however, the Night Lords force was eliminated, opening up the chaos defensive line next to the northern Sarkar Traps and allowing the other imperial forces to exploit the gap. By the beginning of 04.023M42 the chaos forces in the narrow land strip to the south were now at risk of encirclement, and the advantage on Mordecai continued to slip gradually in favour of the Imperium.