Friday, December 08, 2023

Success for Imperium in Hadron Expanse

Towards the end of 023M42 the Imperium were still holding onto many bases in the Rifts of Hecate, as well as progressing with the campaign to remove the ork menace from the Hecate Gap. The order to retreat had been overturned and general Maximus sought new forces to prosecute his campaign into the Eastern Fringe.

At the imperial base of Helos Majoris, the Novgorod Imperial Guard regiment displayed unwavering courage and tactical brilliance as they successfully defended the Imperial base from yet another Tyranid raid. With disciplined ranks clad in their distinctive uniforms, the guardsmen fortified the perimeter upon receiving intelligence that another spore cloud of tyranids was incoming, laser-focused and resolute. 

As the Tyranid swarm descended upon them, the Novgorod regiment employed a well-coordinated defence, utilizing the rugged terrain to their advantage. Infantry squads held crucial chokepoints, while armoured support from Leman Russ battle tanks and Basilisks rained devastation upon the encroaching bioforms. Commissars inspired valour in the face of the alien onslaught, and the guardsmen fought with a determination that mirrored the indomitable spirit of the Imperium. As the last echoes of battle subsided, the Imperial base on Helos Majoris stood defiant, a testament to the Novgorod Imperial Guard's triumph against the ever-persistent Tyranid threat.

On Haven, the Adeptus Mechanicus demonstrated their formidable technological might as they decisively defeated an Ork army of the Blood Fang tribe. Facing the ork horde on the wide plains of the lightly populated northern continent, the disciplined ranks of Skitarii Vanguard moved with calculated precision, engaging the brutish Orks in relentless volleys of precise gunfire. 

The Mechanicus forces, under the strategic guidance of their Tech-Priest Magos, deployed advanced war machines, whose neutron lasers cut through the Ork vehicles with surgical precision. Enginseers led squads of combat servitors, providing a sturdy front line, while Sicarian Infiltrators infiltrated Ork positions, disrupting command structures. The culmination of disciplined strategy, advanced technology, and unwavering determination resulted in the Adeptus Mechanicus emerging victorious, though the advance was not enough to secure the planet for the Imperium.

By the beginning of 024M42 imperial fortunes in the Rifts of Hecate had improved, and the crusade general began looking for opportunities to push forward into the rest of the region.

Perseus Deeps: Imperium Establish bridgehead on Enaloth

By late 023M42 general Veers had finally been given the all clear by sector high command to pursue his campaign in the Perseus Deeps. For years the general had been sat on Bastien with no forces to command in direct battle. Though technically General Kutuzov's immediate superior, it was the latter who received the lions share of reinforcements to prosecute the campaign against chaos on Mordecai, and Veers, with little to do operationally, had become increasingly frustrated.

Though Imperial politics had prevented him from gaining the glory on Mordecai, Veers was now able once again to go on the offensive with the opening of the Foramen Nova between the Vastrid subsector and Bastien. Reinforcements were flooding through the passage, and over several months the general scraped together a force of Imperial Guard, as well as assistance from astartes chapters, in order to conduct a new offensive. This time while Kutuzov battled it out on Mordecai, the second wave of the Veers crusade in the Perseus Deeps would be aimed squarely at the necrons of the once active and deadly Harakhty Dynasty.

Why the necrons of the Perseus Deeps had apparently returned to dormancy remained unknown, but to Veers it didn't matter. This was his opportunity to gain systems for the Imperium of Mankind and one he was keen to take. The first target was the world of Enaloth, just to the galactic north east of Mordecai. If the necrons were weak, then he knew that he must go on the offensive, or the Tau would get there before him. With minimal preparation a task force reached the Enaloth system in 12.023M42 and immediately began landings on the planet.

In the first drop, the Adeptus Custodes faced off against far more active Necron forces than was anticipated, and the landings did not go to plan. The Custodes, clad in their gleaming golden armour, stood as paragons of martial prowess, while the Necrons, with their undying metal forms, brought ancient and formidable technology to bear. The battle unfolded with both sides fighting furiously, as it appeared Veers might have underestimated the capability of the Necrons to put up an effective defence. The Necrons, leveraging their advanced weaponry and reanimation protocols, managed to outmanoeuvre the Custodes, securing a tactical advantage that the Custodes struggled to respond to. The Custodes fought valiantly, their Guardian Spears clashing with the energy blades of their metallic adversaries, but despite their resilience, the Necrons' sheer numbers and otherworldly technology allowed them to claim a hard-fought victory, forcing the elite astartes force to withdraw from the planet.

Meanwhile the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter achieved a decisive victory against the ancient Necron forces during the initial invasion. Led by their indomitable Chapter Master, the Dark Angels executed a meticulously planned assault against the northern Necron tomb complexes. The Deathwing Terminators spearheaded the assault, breaching the Necron defenses and engaging in close-quarters combat with the mechanical horrors. The Ravenwing provided crucial reconnaissance, pinpointing hidden tomb entrances and neutralizing key Necron units. As the battle reached its crescendo, the Dark Angels unleashed overwhelming firepower from their Primaris forces, exploiting weaknesses in the Necron phalanxes. The once-invulnerable Necron constructs crumbled before the might of the Dark Angels, marking a significant triumph and securing a bridgehead on Enaloth against the ancient mechanical threat.

Further south, the Imperial Guard faced off against the mysterious and formidable Necron forces, resulting in a resounding victory for the Novgorod regiments taking part in the initial landings. The Necrons, led by an Overlord, deployed with an array of fearsome units, including imposing Monoliths.  Amidst the chaotic skirmish, a squad of Lascannons emerged as unsung heroes, engaging in a protracted duel with a Monolith. Despite the massive firepower directed at them, the Lascannon squad displayed remarkable resilience, dodging the Monolith's energy beams with uncanny agility. Their precision shots gradually chipped away at the Monolith's formidable defences, ultimately securing a notable victory by destroying the fearsome xenos war machine. The Novgorod regiment, although losing their commander in the heat of battle, emerged triumphant, ensuring the Dark Angels' initial success was exploited to the full.

By early 024M42 the Imperium had secured a sizeable foothold on the necron world and began feverish preparations and logistical build-up for the next assault. General Veers was once again in the driving seat of an imperial advance.

Mordecai Primaris - Imperial Breakout

On Mordecai the war was progressing slowly, far more slowly than imperial high command would have liked. Although Kutuzov now had the strategic advantage in logistical supply, actually delivering, marshalling and organising the millions of men and millions of tons of supplies necessary to prosecute a war on a planetary scale, was taking its time.

By late 023M42 the Imperium had established two bridgeheads, one centred on the joined sprawling cities of North Averbrike and Westosa, and the other near Menoria. The latter bridgehead remained quite small, and Kutuzov was unable to load Guard supplies directly into the pocket as fire from the surrounding chaos held hive sprawl posed a serious threat to the transport landers. To mitigate this and provide the Imperium with two zones of Imperial Guard build up, the Hammers of the Emperor conducted an all out offensive to expand the imperial zone of control in late 12.023M42.

The assault was almost textbook, with the astartes bulldozing their way across the front lines and dealing deftly with a daemonic army summoned to block their advance. By the end of the year enough of Menoria had been cleared by the Hammers to facilitate a rapid build up of forces and supplies, signalling a renewed frontal offensive to begin some time in early 024M42.

Tau progress on New Cerberex thanks to Eldar

Having failed to take New Cerberex quickly as planned, the Tau were finding it difficult to finish off imperial forces on the world despite the strategic situation favouring the Empire. In late 011.023M42 the tau skirmished with a marines force from the Inheritors of the Hunt chapter, who had arrived in small numbers to bolster the Dark Angels' positions. The astartes were proving a nuisance for the Tau, holed up on mount Bone, a series of ravines and rugged ridges where the space marines were now engaging in guerilla tactics, launching raids from their fortress.
The astartes could wait however. If the rest of the planet fell then the space marine threat could be contained at least, or dealt with via overwhelming orbital firepower. With this in mind the Tau forced their way south testing the imperial defences. The Librian mechanised forces opposed the Tau at every step, but despite inflicting casualties on the xenos, the Librians were unable to stop their remorseless advance. In particular the intervention of the Kel Sandros Eldar proved pivotal, as a raid then a full scale ambush of Librian forces using their grav tanks and highly mobile infantry forces.
Although the Imperial Guard were able to give as good as they got against the eldar infantry, the grav tanks proved exceptionally devastating, with many tanks of the Librian Mechanised 8th regiment reduced to scrap by fire prisms. By the end of 023M42 the Librians were almost out of vehicles and heavy equipment, and were now holed up in the inner defences of Feducia itself.

Tau Invade Zadoc

The Tau had been planning an invasion of Zadoc for some time by very late 023M42, with a blockade placed around the planet and invasions of the outlying bases and space docks. Preparations by the Tau empire then started to land somewhere on the planet, waiting to see if there was any retaliation from chaos forces to the blockade, but the Emerald Serpent and other major factions seemed occupied with events elsewhere. Confident that the landing would not be opposed in space, the Tau launched their planet fall in late 11.023M42.


The initial battles around Chettalo were fierce but one sided, until the chaos defenders summoned a host of daemons to slow the xenos down. This proved more of a challenge to the invading forces under commander Malkaor, but by late 12.042M42 the daemons had been banished, and the tau were moving out of the Chettalo area. By the Beginning of 024M42, the Tau empire had a solid bridgehead on Zadoc.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Rifts of Hecate 2411.023M42


Astartes take the fight to Xenos

As 11.023M42 came to an end, the Dark Angels and Angels of Vengeance added to the defence of the Imperial bases on Helos Majoris and Ferrosiun, by taking the fight to the enemy. Having been tipped off that the tyranids were massing on an uninhabited world the Dark Angels sent a strong force, hoping to destroy some hive ships. None were found, but the astartes did manage to land a significant force on the world and hunted down a swarmlord as well as other critical synapse creatures, reducing the threat to imperial bases.

Meanwhile the Angels of Vengeance investigated intelligence that an uncharted world harboured a vast tomb of necrons, which the Sautekh dynasty were intending to awaken. Sure enough the necrons were immediately encountered and a firece and hard fought battle took place outside the entrance to the tomb complex. The Angels of Vengeance managed to hold on to their position, preventing the necrons from gaining access to the tomb below, and following the fall of their overlord the alien constructs retreated. The cost to the astartes was significant however, with their captain seriously injured as well as dozens of battle brothers killed; a not insignificant casualty rate for an astartes chapter.

Overall however the imperial bases in the Rifts of Hecate were secure at least for the moment. Of more concern was the situation on Haven, and the continued stripping of strategic assets from the campaign theatre, to counter enemies elsewhere.

Having gained control of much of the frontier world of Phyrro Zeta in the Rifts of Hecate, the forces of chaos didn't appear to be planning anything for the world out of the ordinary until late in 11.023M42 the psykers attached to the imperial forces began raising the alarm. It appeared the forces of chaos were planning a ritual to dedicate the planet to Slaanesh, which would not only increase the power of that chaos god within the pantheon, but also increase the threat from chaos in the region, by setting in motion the path towards a new daemonworld and possibly another warp rift akin to the cicatrix maledictum.

The Hammers of the Emperor mounted an immediate rapid response, making planetfall on 1011.023M42, and slowly pushed forward through the host of daemons that were desparate to protect the ritual. In the battle the daemonic alliance of Syll Lewdtongue and the daemon monarch Esske was seen in the sector for the first time, though the combined daemon(s) of Syll'Esske was banished in the fighting by the loyalist astartes.

The Hammers almost made it to the ritual in time, but the unexpected and timely intervention by the forces of tzeentch tipped the balance and allowed the world to be dedicated to Slaanesh. What motivated the Architect of Fate to intervene remained unknown. Perhaps the Changer of Ways was merely bored, but it seemed to imperial high command that there might be a growing alliance between the two great powers, at odds with the entropic plans of nurgle.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Imperium battle Xenos in Rifts of Hecate

As 11.042M42 progressed the Imperium still showed no intention of leaving the Rifts of Hecate. Despite having his resources and strategic supply reduced, general Maximus still managed to consolidate his hold over Helos Majoris and Ferrosiun. On Helos Majoris the Dark Angels continued to respond to remnant tyranid infestations following several raids by Hive Fleet Poseidon. The Dark Angels were aided in this by detachments of Novgorod guard, who deployed in small combat formations to hunt down and destroy dangerous infestations of the hinterlands.

On Haven, the orks launched their first offensive for months, taking the Hammers of the Emperor by surprise and inflicting a shock defeat on the Imperium. This had now become a critical situation as the loss of Haven would threaten imperial supply routes through the Hecate Gap. Maximus ordered his forces to dig in and requested urgent reinforcement, hoping the orks would not strike again before they were available.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Rifts of Hecate: Xenos raids

Despite the Inquisitional order to retreat from the Rifts of Hecate, by late 023M42 the Imperium still retained strong forces in the region, as crusade general Maximus was less than inclined to effectively give up his command. Meanwhile the Aeldari were regarding the escalating situation in the Rifts with some alarm. In secret, the Aeldari had communicated with the Imperium via the Inquisition, believing they had an accord with the Mon'Keigh that they would leave the region and allow the dangerous combination of orks, tyranids and necrons to fight one another, while the Aeldari worked on cutting the region off from the rest of the sector.

Now it appeared the discussions had been for nothing, so the Aeldari arranged a number of dark eldar raids and Ynnari attacks to encourage the Imperium to leave the Rifts of Hecate. Unfortunately for the xenos, the dark eldar raid on the imperial base of Ferrosiun was met by a savage counter attack by the Hammers of the Emperor, which lead to the rare event of the Imperium taking drukhari prisoners. At the same time the Ynnari investigated the extend of tyranid infestation on Lodax. The first mission into tyranid territory went badly, with the extra-galactic ambushing the Aeldari and systematically removing their ability to counter the hordes of creatures that now fell upon the eldar. Initially the Ynnari fled, but Yvraine rallied her followers, killing the largest tyranid hive creature while the Death Jester took out a Norn Emissary. The Yncarne also appeared, killing a Neurotyrant, and with their command and control nodes destroyed the tyranid assault fizzled out. The Aeldari plan to influence events in the region was not going well.

Iron Warriors interfere with Imperial Plans

In late 023M42 the forces of chaos were heavily engaged with the Imperium in the Mordecai system, with the planet of Mordecai Primaris now the site of vigorous imperial military build up. The Iron Warriors, lacking the strategic resources of the Emerald Serpent, nonetheless saw an opportunity to raise their status and frustrate the Imperium's plans, by striking in two places at once. In the Rifts of Hecate against the imperial outpost on Pyhhro Zeta a company of Iron Warriors attacked and defeated the imperial guard garrison, threatening the imperial foothold on the world, while the Imperium were busy dealing with xenos raids.

In the Perseus Deeps a second company of Iron Warriors launched an assault on hanger bays of the Mordecai Docks. Despite the imperial fleet patrolling the area and with no fleet support from chaos naval assets.The traitor astartes managed to achieve surprise and overwhelm the local imperial garrison that had been entrenched on the station. The Mordecai Docks being vast, the Hammers of the Emperor had originally established an imperial foothold then handed this over to naval personnel. The plan had been to build up forces before launching an assault on the rest of the station, which was still holding out and had years of supplies stocked.

The imperial plan was overturned by the Iron Warriors' assault, and even the intervention of the Space Wolves could not hold the chaos forces back. Bitter fighting in the hanger bays resulted in chaos victory, and the Imperium had to abandon their foothold on the installation. Now the options were to try again, lay siege to the docks or gradually obliterate them with the combined firepower of the imperial fleet.

New Cerberex: Rideau and Vincennes fall to Tau

On New Cerberex the presence of the Dark Angels had paused the Tau offensive, which had been based around a lighting attack to catch the Imperium off balance before they could create a stable defensive line. As that hadn't happened, the Librian Guard had been able to erect defences, particularly around the capital of New Feducia.

The tau based their next offensive to take advantage of the relative weakness of the Librian left flank, and in 10.023M42 drove an entire hunter cadre into the Vincennes valley, quickly pushing the Librian front line back and threatening to encircle the capital. The imperial force responded with a highly mobile armoured and mechanised force, but found the tau vehicles in particular difficult to take out. The tau used the terrain well, keeping their hammerheads well concealed, and the overall tau force had been created with the possibility of facing either mechanised or astartes forces.

The battle developed favourably for the tau who were able to destroy many of the Librian vehicles, establishing a commanding position over the Vincennes valley. The remnants of the Librian force withdrew, ceding the town of Vincennes to the Imperium and resulting in the encirclement of the capital, for only moderate or "acceptable" casualties.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Hive Fleet Poseidon makes gains

In early 10.023M42 the real extent of the threat posed by the tyranids in the Rifts of Hecate began to dawn on several factions active in the Hadron Expanse. For several months the Tau had been fending off repeated tyranid incursions on Garmenes assuming that the hive mind didn't have any real plan and was acting on instinct. However, as the latest force of tyranids arrived on the world, it became abundantly clear to the Tau that hive fleet Poseidon had been repeatedly testing the defences of Garmenes to work out what combination of force they would need to establish a bridgehead.

On 0810.023M42 the hive fleet did just that, by landing further tyranid creatures on Garmenes by spore, indicating that somewhere in the system there must be lurking hive ships. The Tau launched a pre-emptive strike against the landing tyranids, and successfully eliminated their large synapse beasts in the opening moments of the engagement. However, they were unable to stop wave after wave of smaller gaunts from overwhelming the Tau positions, and were hampered by opportunistic hit and run attacks from independent tyranid units in their rear areas. Despite maintaining good discipline and inflicting punishing losses, the Tau were unable to hold onto their positions, and withdrew, allowing the tyranids to finally gain a foothold on Garmenes.

Elsewhere the Aeldari on Lodax faced the sudden appearance of a genestealer cult, believed to be associated with Poseidon on Lodax. This caught the eldar by surprise, and destabilised their position on the secondary world, causing a general withdrawal of Aeldari forces from the world. At roughly the same time, they aliens of the hive mind deliberately delved into ancient necron tombs on the world, waking the necrons and causing a retaliatory strike from the necrons of an unknown dynasty. This appeared to be what the hive mind intended, as the necrons were defeated then forced to abandon their tombs. With the necrons removed and the Aeldari having retreated, the tyranids wasted no time in consuming the world of Lodax II and converting it to useable resources.

With Lodax II, Candic Minor and Mezria IV now absorbed by hive fleet Poseidon, even the imperium now realised that the threat from this new hive fleet was serious. Discussions immediately turned to the defence of Ergura's fall, as the loss of the gateway to the Hecate Gap would doom the imperial operation in the rifts, and might threaten the wider Hadron Expanse.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

The Aleph Sector 0110.023M42

Welcome to the Aleph Sector 40k (universe) campaign. This is a sector wide "pick up and play" campaign which is largely narrative, but now has a number of specific theatres to cater for different campaign styles.

Sweeping conflict between Chaos and the Imperium in the Perseus Deeps is an ongoing and apparently endless struggle between the warriors of the Emperor and their hated traitors. The campaign theatre supports all 40k universe games including 40k, Kill Team, Battlefleet Gothic, AI and Epic. The main "campaign system" allows players to simply find an opponent, play the game then record the results with the GM - this generates "points", which the overall faction commander (or the GM if there isn't one), can spend on territory, strategic raids, fortifications or anything else feasible within the campaign. The larger the game - the more points, but the better your faction is doing gives you a bonus to your win. The Perseus Deeps is the main theatre of war in the sector, as it is close to the Cicatrix Maledictum and is key to the control of the sector.

More information on the "system" can be found here (you don't need to know any of this at all, but the GM (Duncan) works with faction commanders to make best use of their wins, and acts as an advisor, warning against strategically "unwise" moves - though is often ignored!)

In the Perseus Deeps and Zadoc subsectors the Tau, Imperium, Necrons, Orks and Chaos forces are battling one another for control over the region as the Tau launch their Perseus and Zadoc expansion sphere campaigns.

Meanwhile in the Hadron Expanse, a new campaign theatre has opened up. The Tyranids, Orks and Necrons are seeking to pour through the Hecate Gap - a passageway through a set of warp storms that once sealed them off from the rest of the sector - while the imperium, chaos and Tau forces try to stop them, and the eldar try to seal off the region once and for all.

The whole map is however "live" and players who want to get into the narrative can drive their own plots and perhaps even trigger the next major theatre of war. Any and all games from matched play to one off narratives can be played - its as much as you personally want to make of it.

More information 

The Imperium

The Forces of Chaos

The Tau & Federacy

The Orks

The Necrons

The Tyranids

The Aeldari and Drukhari

And if you want background - there is a ton on this blog to delve into. The campaign has been running now since 2001, and the blog since 2006. In this campaign - there really is only war...

Friday, September 29, 2023

Hive fleet Poseidon invades ork world of Mendrus Mundi

Ordo Xenos Report: The splinter of hive fleet Poseidon has been observed for some time while a threat it is not close enough to imperial space to warrant the substantial resources needed to destroy it. It may be a blessing or a curse that the fleet picked a massive Ork Waagh-world to invade. This world was a heavily fortified base for the Bloodfang Tribe and raiding base for WAAGH Bloodfang fleets which had recently towed a massive space hulk “Mork’s Gift” into High orbit for “Orkification”.

The space battle would begin with the ambushing of the Terror Ship “Hunta” by the Poseidon Fleet burring out its bridge with pyro acid and scattering the escorts securing the fleets path into the system. It seamed the rest of the Bloodfang fleet was only emboldened by this as “Gork’s Little Toe” a “Battlekroozer” heretically fashion from remains of a space marine Battle Barge and the newly constructed “Grin” Killa Krusier closed fast with Nids instantly destroying one Razor Fiend “transport” cruisers using massed gun batteries while the escorts were bombed into the void by crude Ork fighter craft.

The Ork left flank would soon crumble and 2 Razor Fiends would get past Gork’s Little Toe heading straight for the planet. In the centre 1 hive ship would be destroyed by the heroic? Act of the Grin’s Captain ordering his burring wreck of a ship into a full-scale collision that left both ships as drifting hulks. Finally, the space hulk hand pondered into weapon range. It began spewing fighta-bombaz and crude torpedoes to intercept the Razor Fiends. This successfully destroyed one of the breakthrough vessels but the other would hide behind a small moon and escape to the planets surface.

Gork’s Little Toe would be overwhelmed but the remaining Hive ship and final Razor Feind with waves of assault bugs burrowing into the hull until almost as a final act of defiance from the imperial machine spirit its plasma drives detonated leaving only a crippled hive ship behind.

On the planet Ork in orbit fighters and Missile batteries would shoot bomb the Razor fiend to death but in had managed to sin low enough that waves or harpies would make it to the planet’s surface and start clearing a LZ for the hive ship that outran the space hulks bomber wings to the planet and crashed itself securing spawning pools on the planet. 

The ground war has begun.

Mordecai - Battle for Menoria Hive

Having gained a foothold on Mordecai Primaris in 06.023M42 the Imperium had taken their time to build up supplies before breaking out of their bridgehead. General Kutuzov was planning a regular ground offensive from the North Averbrike hive sprawl, using mechanised units to take swathes of territory before attempting to take another city, but in 09.023M42 the Angels of Vengeance, a successor chapter to the Dark Angels, offered Imperial command an alternative plan.

Using their elite strike forces the astartes promoted the idea of a direct assault on Menoria hive. If successful the capture of this second strategic location relatively close to the existing bridgehead offered the opportunity to attack any chaos forces in the plains from two directions, while doubling the supply logistics if the city could be taken intact. The operation was high risk, as a direct assault on Menoria would likely result in direct intervention from the Thousand Sons from Astralis, but general Kutuzov was convinced by the arguments made by the Angels' chapter master.

The assault on Menoria started with a drop directly into the chaos held hive sprawl, and it wasn't long before Magnus the Red himself intervened, a large force of Thousand Sons arriving to defend the city. There would be no retreat from this battle, either the Angel's of Vengeance would take the city or its space port, or die trying.

The battle for Menoria was ferocious, with the Angels of Vengeance deploying their most elite forces including their Chapter Master, facing off against the strongest forces the Thousands sons could field, including a daemonic apparition of Magnus himself. The deathwing knights held the line against a storm of sorcery and daemonic energies, and after several hours of brutal combat, the Angels of Vengeance had broken the back of the chaos resistance in the hive, destroying the Thousand Sons forces and sending Magnus and his chief sorcerer back to the warp. The Imperium now had a bridgehead at Menoria, and efforts now turned to consolidating the separate areas of imperial control and joining them up to move forward across the rest of Mordecai Primaris.

Calthingum Raid

With the forces of chaos now engaged in a number of battles across the sector and the tyranid threat occupying the minds of many in the galactic east, in 09.023M42 the Drukhari decided to increase their raiding, first taking on the chaos forces on Calthingum. The dark eldar expected the chaos controlled world to be lightly defended, but soon found to their dissatisfaction a force of Iron Warriors on the world. Rather than withdraw and return another time when conditions were more favourable for a raid, the drukhari pride and bloodlust drove them to engage anyway, eager to test their skill against the traitor astartes. Things then became even more complex as the Ynnari arrived in support of the dark eldar, pursuing their own agenda, while the Iron Warriors themselves summoned a host of daemons to strengthen their defences.

After an initial assault by the Ynnari failed to deal with a host of nurglings, the Iron warriors used daemon shock troops to counterattack with elements of the warband into the ambush from the strange mix of eldar forces overrunning their lines. Digging in with their legionaries, the 121st siege battalion then threw back any melee attempt from the eldar to dislodge them. the dark eldar and Ynnari force suffered significant casualties, while the chaos forces proved far more resilient than the aeldari had hoped. With the raid driven off, the Iron Warriors proceeded to fortify the world.

Tau prepare for Zadoc Invasion

Having taken the Zadoc moon base in 06.023M42 the Tau had been preparing their invasion of Zadoc proper for some time. It came as no surprise that the next target for the Tau would be the trading outpost of Adriante, as this installation on the cold outer planets of the Zadoc system was strategically vital to incoming supply traffic to the system. Given the time between the creation of the initial bridgehead and the assault on Adriante, there had been plenty of time for the forces of chaos to react to the Tau presence in the system. 

Using arcane sorcery fuelled by the daemonworld of Astralis, the Thousand Sons, led by Ahriman and a projection of Magnus the Red prepared an immediate counter attack to any move the Tau made, and when in mid 09.023M42 that time came, the traitor astartes deployed in strength against the hunter cadre sent to take the trading post. The Tau however had anticipated this kind of response, and their attack force was well equipped to deal with the strong counter attack from the daemon led space marines force. Although individually powerful, the Thousand Sons did not have great numbers, and the Tau had brought maximum firepower. Fire warriors deploying from devilfish supported by crisis suits, hammerheads and larger battlesuits overwhelmed the ancient astartes and their sorcery, inflicting a heavy defeat on the Thousand Sons and banishing Magnus back to the warp. Now the Tau had the planet of Zadoc itself surrounded and cut off from outside supply, barring the warp conduit to the Astralis daemonworld. It was only a matter of time before they would make planetfall.

Tyranid Menace plagues Rifts of Hecate

While the Imperium concentrated on the invasion of Mordecai Primaris, and the Tau launched their new offensive in the Zadoc subsector, the Tyranid threat began increasing in scale in the Hadron Expanse. The hive mind had already consumed Candic Minor and Mezria IV, and now exploratory probes were becoming more frequent and violent. One such splinter fleet arrived at Helos Majoris in mid 07.023M42. With the Imperial Fleet guarding the Hecate Gap there was no way to prevent the tyranids from making planetfall, but the combined actions of the Grey Knights and Dark Angels, still stationed at the most important imperial base in the region, were able to drive back the xenos assault.  The Grey Knights held the line against gigantic alien creatures, while the Dark Angels pursued the stragglers remorselessly, hunting down and burning every last creature and seeking out any spore nodes to prevent the aliens from using the biomass of the planet to generate more warriors. By the end of 08.023M42 Helos Majoris was once again free of the tyranid threat.

The Tau too faced another tyranid invasion, having cleared one previously, as more xenos craft arrived from Mezria IV to land an army of alien creatures on Garmenes. The Tau, having decided to make the world a bastion against alien incursions from the galactic fringe, were however well placed to meet this assault. Deploying large numbers of crisis suits the firepower of the Tau overwhelmed the invaders, and the tyranid threat was eliminated within a week.

At the less heavily defended system of Lodax however, the tyranids had more success. No faction held either Lodax Prime or Lodax Secundus outright, and both worlds only had small garrison or patrol forces stationed there. On Lodax Prime the world played host to an eldar garrison and an imperial outpost. The imperial garrison was quickly overrun, with the Imperial Fists attempting to intervene. It was too late however, and the small force of astartes sent to deal with the threat found themselves seriously outmatched. Of the company of Fists sent to investigate the loss of the imperial outpost, only a pair of terminator armoured space marines returned, severely denting imperial strength in the Rifts of Hecate. 

The eldar faired little better. The tyranid swarm overwhelmed them and while they tried to conduct a fighting withdrawal to their webway portal for a while, this eventually became a headlong rout as the eldar warriors fled from the overwhelming power and numbers of the approaching alien horde. By the end of 09.023M42, while the major bases had held against the tyranid onslaught, Lodax Prime was now almost overrun.

Battles at Hylas reach installation

In the Zadoc subsector the Tau were making progress on New Cerberex but the advance had stalled due to the presence of the Dark Angels. At the same time the Imperium were rushing forces towards the subsector as it was now clear the Tau were launching major operations in the region while the Imperium were busily engaged in the Hadron Expanse and at Mordecai in the Perseus Deeps.

Forces would be slow to assemble in the area however, and the first to arrive in the region was a regiment of Praetorian Guard. Acting on intelligence that suggested Demiurg forces allied to the Tau were seeking to take the Imperial outpost of Hylas Reach, a space station in orbit around a gas giant protecting the warp lane to Hylas itself, the Praetorians decided to deploy on the station in order to head off the xenos assault.

Unfortunately neither the Demiurg nor the Imperium were aware that the orks were also on the move in the Zadoc subsector. Ever since the loss of Zadoc and Tarsis Major, the Imperium had allowed the defences of their two remaining worlds and associated outposts to fall into disrepair, and unknown to the Praetorians the space station had been abandoned. When they did arrive in late 06.023M42, instead of heading off the Demiurg they found themselves in a three way battle on the decks of Hylas Reach between themselves, the orks and the Demiurg.

The battle for Hylas Reach raged for almost a day as the imperial forces tried to gain a foothold. The aggressive orks charged into the praetorian lines holding them back, just as the Demiurg force arrived. The Federacy had been tasked with taking the installations, while the Tau concentrated on the major worlds, but the Demiurg were also not prepared for a fight against two enemies. The Praetorians suffered the most, caught between two hostile alien forces, and were quickly forced back to their breaching locations, while the orks swarmed over the abhuman Leagues of Votan forces. It was not clear to the Imperium where these abhumans originated, but it was widely suspected that this was a force from Hartak, rather than a new expedition from the galactic core, and imperial intelligence continued on the assumption that these forces were part of the Federal-Tau alliance, referring to them using the derogatory term "squats" in the official reports.

The orks didn't care. The greenskins simply swarmed all over their new enemies and soon had taken all the strategic locations on the station. With reports of ork spacecraft in the vicinity both the Praetorians and Votann forces evacuated. Hylas Reach would need to be dealt with in another way.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Drukhari raids increase in Rifts of Hecate

In 07.023M42 the Imperium was beset by new problems in the Zadoc subsector and the focus of high command shifted back to the Perseus Deeps with the invasion of Mordecai Primaris. This also continued to drain the forces of chaos, but both the imperium and the followers of the dark gods had outposts in the Hadron Expanse and into the Rifts of Hecate, which were looking like tempting targets from the masters of opportunism, the Drukhari.

The Dark Eldar, lacking in any particular central strategy other than to gather slaves and inflict pain, were however strongest in the galactic east thanks to the prior work of Vlokarian's cabal, and now the Drukhari struck once again, this time in the Rifts themselves, raiding the imperial base at Helos Majoris, and the chaos world of Mendesum. 

The raid against the Imperium, whose forces under general Maximus had been stripped following the suddent invasion of New Cerberex and the redeployment of Admiral Craddock's fleet was a success. The imperial garrison was quickly overwhelmed and even the intervention of a crusading force of Sisters of Battle was unable to prevent the dark eldar from devastating one imperial base and taking thousands of slaves. On Mendesum however the Drukhari were less fortunate, and ran into a strong force of Iron Warriors whose presence on the world had not been expected. The Drukhari were forced to retreat as they lost their commander and cabal leader, with the Iron Warriors taking steps to reinforce the world against further raids.

Tau launch invasion of Gamador

With the Imperium and chaos threats focussed on Mordecai and the Tau having pulled back from the Rifts of Hecate, the strategic situation in the Aleph Sector in 07.023M42 was looking favourable for the Tau Empire. Commander Dawn Strike had already launched a new campaign in the Zadoc subsector, but the Perseus Expansion Sphere was also now favourable for continuing the plans of the Empire. The Tau already had strong bases on Lucardium and Parius, and a secure route to resupply both via the Foramen Ancilla and to the major hubs of Libria and Tarsis Major. In addition the Tau had noted the lack of activity from the Necron worlds of the Perseus Deeps and launched an exploratory expedition to Gamador.

Their initial landing was unopposed. Instead of a strong and active necron world the hunter cadre sent to the system found the ancient xenos dormant and unprepared for invasion. This didn't last, as the ancient race soon mustered a force to oppose the interlopers, but the counter attack was far from cohesive or overwhelming. After a brisk engagement the necron counter attack was repulsed, and the Tau reported a successful bridgehead on the world. On Lucardium, the centre of Tau operations, plans began to be drawn up for the conquest of the Charnovokh dynasty in the Perseus Deeps.

Battle of New Cerberex

Prelude to Battle

The battle of New Cerberex was a major fleet engagement between the Imperium and the Tau Empire in the Zadoc subsector which took place on 0207_023M42. By this time the Imperium's defences of their worlds in the subsector had been neglected for some time, and the Tau Empire had taken the opportunity of invading the world of New Cerberex, a home of refugees from the original world of Cerberex which was taken over by the Federacy many years before. Despite the Tau having the strategic advantage, the Imperium were not willing to give up New Cerberex without a fight, and had been conducting a defensive effort on the world until Admiral Craddock could arrive and hopefully break the Tau blockade.

Both sides were eager to give battle. Craddock knew that his fleet was not alone, and by bringing the Tau fleet to battle, a subsequent strike by a full chapter strength Space Marine fleet that had secretly made its way to the Mabb nebula, would finish the Tau dominance in the region. However, Craddock and Imperial intelligence were unaware that the Tau fleet was itself supported by a powerful Federal fleet, and the Tau admiral had a similar idea.

Upon arriving in system the Imperial fleet, led by the retribution class battleship Vanguard, was able to slip past the Tau pickets and take up station in the solar flare region of the system. The tau ships moved to intercept, and the battle would be played out amongst the confusing radiation burst and solar flares of the New Cerberex star.

Imperium order of battle
Vanguard - Retribution class battleship (Admiral Craddock commanding)
Redoubtable - Dictator class cruiser
Aboukir - Gothic class cruiser
Indomitable - Gothic class cruiser
Agincourt - Lunar class cruiser
Conqueror - Lunar class cruiser
3 sword class escorts

Tau order of battle
Serenity - Custodian class battleship
Enterprise - Protector class cruiser
Endeavour - Protector class cruiser
Voyager - Protector class cruiser
Discovery - Protector class cruiser
Providence - Protector class cruiser
Messenger class escort
3 Castellan class escorts

The Battle
Both fleets engaged head on, with Craddock somewhat surprised that the Tau had split their fleet into two divisions, though these divisions were placed in mutually supporting positions. The imperial admiral decided to tackle the smaller division to port first with a head on torpedo run, while showing his fleet's powerful broadsides to the other group. Meanwhile the Tau admiral prepared to fight the engagement relying on torpedoes and manta waves, despite the risk from solar flares. What follows is a transcript of events from the surviving cogitator banks on Redoubtable.

15:02: Fleets engage. Admiral Craddock turns to port intending to use gunfire against the larger tau group and torpedoes against the smaller.
15:07: The first torpedo wave from the larger tau group arrives and proves accurate, crippling the cruiser Indomitable.
15:14: The Tau fleet successfully reloads for more torpedo waves.
15:25: Aboukir is crippled by the second wave of torpedoes and mantas from the Tau fleet.
15:27: On the imperial left flank the imperial escorts are destroyed by accurate fire from the smaller Tau formation. 
15:35: Yet another wave of torpedoes and mantas assaults the imperial fleet with devastating accuracy, crippling Craddock's flagship. 
15:44: The Imperium torpedo and bomber wave finally arrives at the Tau fleet with starhawks severely damaging Endeavour
15:45: Imperial torpedoes arrive, destroying the protector class Endeavour but blast markers detonate imperial torpedoes saving the Discovery
15:48: A further bomber wave, unseen by the imperial fleet manages to evade turret fire from Vanguard, and the subsequent bombing run leads to a catastrophic plasma drive overload, killing all hands, leaving the fleet leaderless and scattering plasma across the battle zone.
16:00: Heavy fire from Redoubtable and Aboukir destroy two castellans but the third escapes. 
16:06: The lunar class Conqueror now succumbs to another manta bombing wave.
16:11: Another Tau torpedo wave cripples the Indomitable. Agincourt takes minor damage but loses her shields.
16:11: Agincourt, struggling with minor damage but with here shields down suffers a critical hit from a sudden solar flare, crippling her.
16:13: Worse still for the imperium the wreck of the Endeavour explodes due to impact of the solar flare, the resulting explosion sets the imperial cruiser Indomitable on fire, crippling her.
16:16: Conqueror, drifting and burning, now wanders into the Tau fleet, exploding and crippling the Tau protector class Enterprise.
16:18: Having suffered severe damage and unaware of the battle progress, the cruisers Aboukir and Agincourt successfully disengage from battle.
16:21: On the left flank the Imperium are still in the battle, and Discovery is crippled by weapons battery fire.
16:23: The tau decide to disengage Discovery to protect her from further harm, but contentiously keep Enterprise in the fight. 
16:28: Indomitable is reduced to a hulk by the combined force of Tau which have now almost joined up.
16:32: Redoubtable launches a final bomber wave, destroying the Enterprise.
16:33: Enterprise, set on fire, now explodes, crippling her sister ship Voyager.
16:37: Combined fire from the Tau fleet now cripples Redoubtable, who is facing the remaining Tau ships alone. Suffering serious damage the dictator class vessel disengages, bringing an end to the battle. 

Imperial losses: 1 battleship destroyed, 2 cruisers destroyed, 3 cruisers crippled, 3 escorts lost
Tau losses: 2 cruisers destroyed, 2 cruisers crippled, 2 escorts lost

The imperial fleet was shocked by the loss of Vanguard and the heavy losses, as well as the certain death of a respected admiral. Three capital ships destroyed, two irrevocably, and three severely damaged far from a fleet base represented a devastating blow to imperial power in the subsector, and risked the campaign on New Cerberex. However, Lord Admiral Jellicoe took some comfort from the destruction of two tau cruisers, and hoped the Space Marine Fleet of the Sky Lords would be able to break the Tau stranglehold over the system. At this stage, still unaware of the Federal fleet presence, it was decided that the remainder of Craddock's ships would return to Bastien for refit and replacement, while the space marines would be able to deal with the now damaged Tau fleet.

The Tau aim was to inflict heavy losses on the Imperial fleet to force it to withdraw from the Zadoc subsector, giving Alliance forces total space dominance. To this end they had been willing to sustain losses in pursuit of this goal, having struck a deal with the Leagues of Hartak for direct military support in exchange for human inhabited worlds in the Zadoc subsector being allowed to join the Federacy.

Post action analysis by the Tau forces determined losses were "within acceptable parameters" and the operation was a success. Kor'O Ke'lshan Ria'en, commander of the Tau fleet received praise for her decision to split the fleet into two mutually supporting elements and for her strong training regime for fleet ordnance assets but was criticised by some within the Tau command hierarchy for what they saw has her reckless decision to keep Enterprise in the line of battle after it sustained heavy damage, leading to its destruction.

The Leagues of Hartak cruisers Sentry and Outrider joined the Tau task force at New Cerberex. The remaining Votann fleet mobilised and departed from Hartak, destination unknown, on 0707_023M42, presumed to be carrying significant ground force complement by imperial spies. No abnormal signs of mobilisation from the Federal or Tallaxian fleets were detected, which remained on defensive postures.

The priority for the Tau-Federal alliance now were to try to complete the conquest of New Cerberex before the Imperium could move any more fleet assets to the region.The Leagues of Hartak also wanted to secure as many space stations in the Zadoc subsector as possible for use as fleet bases and invasion launchpads, with Hylas firmly in their sights.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Mordecai Primaris: Imperial Breakout

Shortly after establishing a bridgehead on Mordecai Primaris, imperial high command fully expected a strong counter attack now the Imperium had made clear where it would be landing. Kutuzov was unable due to resource constraints and the speed of the invasion to effect more than one landing, so the single bridgehead would be the only one for the time being at least. The plan now was to break out towards Westonia and take the hive sprawls and their resources before conducting any subsequent phases south or north, that would come with their own challenges.

While planning this breakout, scheduled for early 07.023M42 imperial intelligence came across information that was alarming. In Westonia it appeared Emerald Serpent forces were not just massing for a counterstrike, but that a psychic ritual was taking place. The reason was unknown, but Kutuzov and his command team decided to move forward the breakout in order to take Westonia and to disrupt whatever heretical activity was going on.

To push east across the partially ruined landscape Kutuzov could count on several Valdograd and Novgorod Guard regiments, which were particularly well equipped with super heavy tanks and artillery. Once again Kutuzov would put his faith in the big guns of the imperial guard, but he would not have to rely on them alone. For this segment of the operation the Sky Lords chapter of space marines had committed a full company including several squads of their elite terminator 1st company. Even more surprising was the assistance of a small contingent of Blood Martyrs space marines, thought destroyed following the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum. Along with this Astartes help, the adeptus mechanicus provided a warhound titan to give extra fire support.

The enemy had amassed a large force of traitor guard to oppose Kutuzov's advance, with the signs of corruption even more evident on the Darantine Guard's vehicles. Along with heavy armour and chimera borne mechanised infantry, the traitor guard were backed up by Thousand Sons traitor astartes, as well as the familiar form of the Warlord Titan, Astralis Invictus. It was clear the chaos forces were very keen on the Imperium not taking Westonia, or were preparing their own counter offensive.

On 2506.023M42 a massive battle erupted in the ruins of the hive sprawl between New Averbrike and Westonia, as the Imperial guard started their slow push forward supported by massed artillery fire. At the same time a massed terminator teleport strike smashed into Westonia itself, driving back the chaos guard regiments and slamming into the enemy armoured units. On the right, the Imperium were unable to contest the power of Astralis Invictus as the mighty war engine reduced several imperial vehicles to scrap, but it was in the centre where the crucial battle took place. Mechanised traitor guard units contested the all important centre part of the front with space marine tactical squads and Novgorod infantry. The chaos units took massive fire from the imperial line, and eventually broke, forcing the intervention by the Warlord Titan.

Kutuzov's men were unable to prevent the mighty war engine from taking the centre ground, but the battle had gone on long enough by now for the Sky Lords to have mopped up the left flank, and a pincer movement began to develop that threatened to envelop the Warlord Titan and the Thousand Sons. Realising their position had at last become untenable, the Emerald Serpent force withdrew from the Hive Sprawl in good order. Casualties had been high on both sides, but the Imperium were now in control of Westonia and had successfully disrupted whatever psychic plan the sorcerers of Tzeentch had been planning. The chaos forces had not been decisively beaten however, and now the Imperial army would have to make plans to conduct offensives across the unforgiving harsh plains between the hive cities.

Imperium make planetfall on Mordecai Primaris

Having secured a foothold on the space docks in the Mordecai System general Kutusov was keen to make planetfall on Mordecai Primaris as soon as possible. He would have control of space to perform the landings, thanks to the landings made on the Mordecai Docks by the Hammers of the Emperor astartes chapter. In addition, the fleets of the Arch enemy no longer seemed to show any interest in challenging the imperial fleet for dominance in the Mordecai system.

On 1706.023M42 the Imperial navy began a mass campaign to gain air superiority, focussing on the mid latitudes away from the heavily fortified north pole, but close to the hive sprawls of North Averbrike and Westonia. Kutuzov's plan was to land centrally, where there were adequate resources to create a stable bridgehead, before systematically moving north and south to capture the other major settlements and finally the heavily defended fortresses of the north. The Ring, the system of orbital docks and settlements in orbit around the world would for now remain unmolested.

The air war was strongly contested by the forces of chaos, but the Imperium were able to land significant imperial guard forces to the west of the city of North Averbrike. The first assault was led by Valdograd mechanised infantry, and the attack quickly became a disaster as a strong counter attack by chaos armoured forces broke the guard advance and sent the regiment retreating in disarray.

The initial success by the chaos guard forces defending North Averbrike was short lived however, as air cover made sure their heavy tanks were not give freedom of movement, and a huge artillery strike by bombards shattered the main enemy tank formations. With their heaviest units shattered from above, the imperial guard second wave of infantry was able to gain a foothold in the city, and cavalry support soon rendered the chaos positions in the main city untenable.

The cost of the initial invasion had been higher than desired, but within a week Kutuzov was able to disembark imperial guard regiments, elements of the titanicus as well as astartes support, all aided by round the clock air cover provided by the navy. By 2406.023M42 the general was able ready to conduct a breakout from his bridgehead, but by now the chaos forces had reacted, and the Emerald Serpent was about to oppose him in strength.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Drukhari battle daemons as new secret uncovered

For the most part the eldar and dark eldar had been content to allow the other races battle for control over the Rifts of Hecate rather than intervene directly. The Drukhari occasionally launched raids against the imperial, chaos and tau forces for slaves, but overall the ancient xenos raced showed little interest in the ongoing campaign. the exception was the Kel Sandros Craftworld, whose farseer had seen shadows of doom to come were the Rifts not re-sealed from prying eyes, but were unable to as yet determine the reason why.

This changed in 06.023M42 following a raid by the Drukhari on Calthinghum. The dark eldar had intended to conduct yet another slaving mission to the chaos world, as the settlements were ill defended by their masters, and there were plenty of poor and desperate amongst the human population whose fear was particularly appealing to the eldars' fallen kin. However on this raid, the Archon noticed all was not well on Calthinghum, as great numbers of the population were being herded together for apparent sacrifice. This enraged the Drukhari as they saw it as loss of resources, and instead diverted their force to attack whatever ceremony was being performed.

It was at this ceremony they discovered what the forces of chaos had been working on for months. A portal from the Rifts of Hecate, to the Enceladus subsector, connecting the heart of chaos power in the region to the area, no doubt to start another war on the galaxy from a new direction. Realising they had been discovered, the chaos cultists summoned a host of daemons to oppose the Drukhari, but the dark eldar were just able to escape from the clutches of the horde, though at great cost including their leader. The Drukhari returned to their lairs but, in deference to old allegiances, made known the secret to the eldar of Kel Sandros, and the Ynnari. A new warp link from the heart of the Enceladus subsector to the Hadron Expanse would be serious news indeed if it were not prevented.

Imperium stave of assaults by Tyranid swarms

By mid 023M42 the Imperium had established a strong base in the Rifts of Hecate and had gained control over the Hecate Gap, save for the rather difficult problem of a greenskin horde occupying much of Haven. However the Imperium retained superiority in space, so for now the convoy routes to Helos Majoris and Ferrosiun were open.

This was just as well, as the tyranid swarm that landed on Helos Majoris at the end of 05.023M42 was not the last. Two more waves of tyranid infestation arrived in 06.023M42 and both were numerous and powerful. The adeptus mechanicus biologis as well as the Ordos Xenos, posited that because admiral Sommerville had been withdrawn to the Hadron Expanse to cover the move of Craddock to the Zadoc subsector, Barham's remaining fleet was unable to cover all lines of advance into the system, and it now looked highly likely that the number of tyranids in the region may have been far higher than first estimated.

The Sisters of Battle were the first to be called on to defend imperial bases, as a swarm of tyranids and bio-artillery appeared in the open area around one of the cities garrisoned by the Imperium on Helos Majoris. The Sisters of battle, their attached stormtroopers and Frateris Militia pushed hard through the city to reach the front lines, with the imperial navy air wings and orbital strikes from Minotaur softening up the waves of enemy creatures. Casualties were high amongst the Sisters as they stubbornly held the main gaits of Helios in the face of the hive fleets largest and most potent xenomorph monsters, but by the second week of 06.023M42 the alien threat had been contained and the city cleared of alien presence.

Only a week later a third wave of tyranids crashed down onto Helos Majoris, further into the wilderness zones of the planet. Unwilling to let the hive mind gather its strength before attacking the main city of Helios again, the Hammers of the Emperor deployed deep into the wilderness away from their supplies, willing to sacrifice their lives to keep the alien threat at bay. In the following battle without support, the Hammers devastated the tyranid menace but at heavy cost in terms of losses. Helos Majoris was declared xenos free on 2306.023M42 but General Maximus was now growing concerned at the strength of the alien forces opposing him in the Rifts.

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.