Friday, February 24, 2023

Aleph Sector Strategic Situation 023M42

Fig 1: Faction dispositions, Aleph Sector 2402.023M32

+++Date: 2402.023M42+++

+++Access point: Farport Station Astropathic Relay+++

+++Security Clearance: Gamma Epsilon+++

+++Ref: ALEPH-SECTOR-BRIEFING 02_023M42+++

+++Originator: Throne Agent <redacted>+++

+++Recipient: Cardinal Valentina Schumadz

+++Thought for the day: A coward always seeks compromise.+++


My Lord Cardinal,

As you have instructed the reorganisation of Imperial Command in the Aleph Sector is now complete. General Baran Price (Vastrid) has taken over command of all Astra Militarum forces and has made the following changes. General Alexander remains in command of Valitane Subsector. General Foche takes command of Vastrid subsector forces. Zadoc and Perseus commands have been consolidated into Army Group Perseus under the command of General Veers. General Kutuzov remains in charge of 3rd Army to prosecute the vital Mordecai campaign. General Mikel Denham takes command of newly formed Army Group Hadron, with General Maximus in command of 8th (crusade) Army in the Rifts of Hecate.

The general situation is much unchanged from that of 019M42. In the Hadron Expanse the Imperium seeks to reconnect with lost worlds and extend its influence and control of resources into the Eastern rim while denying those resources to the enemy. However, supply lines are long and insecure, and without a pathway across the Cicatrix Maledictum under the control of the Imperium, missions in the Imperium Nihilis remain challenging and fraught with danger.

To this end the imperial forces remain invested in the capture of the critical supply system of Mordecai, with its mining and industrial resources. Control over this system will ensure the success of the missions now underway in the Hadron Expanse, and make possible the retaking of worlds in the Zadoc subsector lost to us. In addition, a future assault into the Federacy can only be made possible by success in the Perseus Deeps and what was the Zadoc subsector.

The enemy pursue their own heretical agendas, though specific mention should be made of the renewed Tau activity in the "Hadron Expansion Sphere", as well as a renewed xenos threat particularly from the greenskins known as the "Blood Fangs". The forces of chaos, led in the most part by the Emerald Serpent continue to oppose us at every turn, but with faith and perseverance we shall overcome in the name of the Emperor.

Your faithful servant.

+++End Message+++

Fig 2: Imperial dispositions, Aleph Sector 2402.023M42

Orks gain more ground on Haven

On Haven, the orks were still the largest and most dangerous faction vying for control of the world. Unlike the other factions with the exception perhaps of the Tau, the orks had not attempted to occupy both Haven and Ergura's Fall. Whether this was a strategic decision, guidance from the ork gods or simple chance was known only to the greenskins, and they weren't telling. However in late 02.023M42 the orks had noticed the threat, or interesting shiny things to kill and loot, in the shape of the chaos forces, and the Blood Fang tribe set out to investigate the chaos sector.

Led by Waagh Boss Grimskul Bloodfang and Hope Killer MkIII, a new or perhaps reassembled ork Stompa, the orks soon came into contact with the chaos forces. Surprised, the chaos cultists summoned a host of daemons including a Lord of Change and a Keeper of Secrets. Despite a group of Storm Boyz suffering an unpleasant fate, first being caught in a warp storm then brutally shredded by screamers of Tzeentch, the orks charged fearlessly into combat with the daemonic horde. The Mega Nobz suffered at the hands of Tzeentch Horrors, but Hope Killer lived up to its name, crashing into the main chaos line, eliminating the greater part of the daemon threat and casting two greater daemons back into the warp.

By the end of the battle the orks had spread their influence further over the surface of haven, looting the chaos encampments and strengthening their forces still further. The greenskin presence was beginning to alarm general Maximus, the forces of chaos and other factions alike, and now all began plans to bring down the Blood Fangs including the monstrous Hope Killer once and for all.

Mordecai: Chaos Eastern Front Offensive

While the imperial forces on Mordecai were pushing west towards fort Parganath, the forces of chaos had massed significant assets on the Eastern Front. Having been pushed out of the Abrax mines in previous months, the chaos army enlisted help from the World Eaters space marines and a lance of chaos knights, intending to smash through the imperial front lines then drive deep into the strategically important mines area.

the Imperium hadn't managed to erect significant defences in the east since retaking the Abrax mines, so the initial assault by the traitor marines easily overran the imperial lines. In response, the recently rested Hammers of the Emperor chapter of loyalist marines launched a counter attack. the battle was violent as the two astartes forces clashed. The World Eaters emerged victorious, taking the mines close to fort Abruphus, and ensured the astartes would be unable to assist in the battles further south.

Near the shores of the Kuneus Traps, the chaos knights advanced. Again the chaos forces easily overran the initial defences, but were soon opposed by a loyalist knight force. the two sides engaged in a titanic clash of war engines, but the aggression of the chaos forces overcame imperial resistance. Within hours every imperial knight had been reduced to scrap, and the chaos forces drove deep into imperial lines, taking a significant portion of the Abrax mines before they had to pause to allow their infantry to catch up and hold on to the recently won ground. By the end of 02.023M42 however, chaos forces had once again taken three quarters of the Abrax mines complex from the Imperium, slowly degrading the logistical advantage Kutuzov had so painstakingly built up. Now the chaos fleets would need to do their part in turning the war on Mordecai in the favour of the Dark Gods.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Ergura's Fall operations

In 02.023M42 the Imperium were in a reasonable position on both Haven and Ergura's Fall, though not the dominant faction on either world. On Ergura's Fall the local commander subordinate to General Maximus had been concentrating his efforts against the Tau, but recent reports of fighting between the necrons and forces of chaos presented the Imperium with a problem. Their positions on the world were overlooked by a large plateau to the south east, which if either the chaos forces or necrons gained control over, would threaten the Imperial sector on two fronts, potentially making control of the planet untenable.

To investigate this threat the Imperial commander sent an Imperial Guard patrol into the area of necron activity, hoping to find the xenos merely a dormant and reactive garrison force, but when the patrol advanced on some ancient ruins including the tell tale xenos monoliths, they were ambushed. Skorpekh destroyers advanced into a hastily prepared killing zone and were cut down, but the implacable advance of a phalanx of immortals escorting a cryptek proved impossible to stop. The imperial guard patrol was wiped out to a man.

The guard patrol did manage to get off a series of increasingly panicked communications before their demise however, and hearing the screams over the vox network, a task force of Adeptus Custodes homed in on the signal. By now the necron force had increased, and a lengthy engagement around a line of monoliths ensued. Neither side were able to overcome the other, but the Custodes were operating beyond their logistic supply limits and were forced to withdraw. the necrons too retreated to regroup.

Realising the necrons posed a significant force in the east, general Maximus demanded more troops be sent to deal with the threat. However, the crusade general was informed no astartes forces were available as they were committed to missions already, and that all the experienced Novgorod regiments were similarly tied down on the two theatres of operations. With reinforcements dribbling in over a very long supply line through the Hadron Expanse, Maximus only had a green force of Imperial Guard to commit to Ergura's Fall, the Librian 18th Mechanised division.

This was not a force Maximus wanted to use, as the Librians were still both of questionable loyalty to the Imperium following the world's loss to the Federacy, and the regiments in question were inexperienced even if they had the newest equipment available. Nevertheless it was all the general had, and Maximus just had to hope the necrons were a spent force.

They weren't. As the mechanised force rolled into necron territory they were confronted by a mass of xenos infantry. Rather optimistically the division commander ordered the Librians to engage, overwhelm the necrons and take their rear supply lines. These orders were not credible given the strength of the force that opposed them, although the Leman Russ battle tanks in particular proved effective against the necron force. The mechanised infantry faired far worse however, as the necrons piled into the imperial force engaging them at close range with combat weapons.

Gradually, despite taking moderate casualties, the imperial guard were themselves overwhelmed, and the Librians retreated in disorder. The nerons advanced onto the high plateau, putting the imperial garrison and main supply base on Ergura's Fall in serious danger.

Meanwhile in the northern hemisphere the forces of chaos had turned to deal with the tau on their western flank. Once again a small force of cultists were deployed to bait out an enemy reaction, and when the tau army arrived a horde of daemons was summoned in front of them. Bloody combat ensued and the tau Hunter Cadre and the xenos force was overwhelmed. The tau retreated and the chaos forces established a new perimeter, now controlling nearly a third of the sparsely populated territory on Ergura's Fall.

Mordecai Offensives

On Mordecai as 02.022M42 progressed, general Kutuzov had now regained the momentum, but his imperial guard forces were largely spent following hard fighting. In order to keep the offensive going, the imperial high command proposed a direct assault on Nazugral, where chaos forces seemed to be small in number although of high quality. Requesting astartes aid Kutuzov found that the space marines were also in the process of rebuilding their forces, and the main astartes chapter in the sector, the Hammers of the Emperor, would not be able to mount offensive operations for some weeks.

Fortunately a small force od Adeptus Custodes remained attached to the imperial forces in the Mordecai system and offered to carry out the direct assault. Kutuzov then placed his best mechanised regiments behind this force in the hope of a breakthrough towards Fort Parganath if the Custodes found the defences at Nazugral weak.

The Custodes force smashed their way through the thin defences around the city but then found themselves face to face with a daemonhost of Slaanesh and Tzeenth. It was then the Imperium realised the forces of chaos had feigned weakness in order to trap the imperial army in a disastrous battle within the city. They had not however reckoned with the Adeptus Custodes, and the Emperor's finest troops smashed the daemon horde although this came at the expense of the death of their commander. Within days the daemons had been eliminated and the city had been claimed for the Imperium, but hopes of a breakthrough had been dashed for the time being.

More fighting on Ergura's Fall

Events on Ergura's Fall between the Tau and Imperium, as well as the second Imperial landing on Haven caused the forces of chaos to rethink their strategy. Instead of focussing on Haven, the worshippers of the dark Gods realised that the conflict on Ergura's Fall now presented an opportunity, and a small force of cultists was shipped to the world in order to carry out a new offensive for the chaos domination of the Hecate Gap.

While their forces on Haven consolidated their positions, waiting for an opportunity to advance, the cultists on Haven performed a dark ceremony, summoning a daemonhost and smashing into the necron lines to their south. The battle caught the necrons by surprise, and the ancient xenos were forced back, placing the chaos forces in a commanding position to take the high ground in the southern hemisphere.

Meanwhile the Dark Eldar, with no particular interest in the strategic situation of the Hadron Expanse, opportunistically raided the Tau forces. The engagement was brief, but the Tau were defeated, forcing them to withdraw forces from the front line with the Imperium. 

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Heavy fighting on Ergura's Fall

As 02.023M42 began and Maximus ordered a new landing on Haven, he bolstered his forces on Ergura's Fall by deploying a lance of House Taranis knights. The imperial forces had established that on Ergura's Fall, though there were some necron forces, and a significant number of chaos, the main adversary was the Tau Empire. the Tau had also realised that the Rifts of Hecate would only be exploitable if they controlled the Gap. Worse, failing to control the Gap or at the very least contest it, would put the Hadron Expansion sphere under threat, and risk the halting of the expansion of the Tau Empire in this direction.

The Tau high command understood it would be impossible given their logistics situation, to immediately occupy both systems, and decided to focus on Ergura's Fall. Seeing new imperial forces arrive on the world, the Tau attacked before they had a chance to deploy on the shifting and sparse front line between the Tau and imperial sectors. The Tau attack utilised their most experienced troops, and heavy fighting erupted in the no mans land between the main bases of the two factions. The fighting was brutal, and after an extended engagement the Tau wiped out an entire Guard formation. It was somewhat of a pyrrhic victory however, as the Tau had taken heavy losses in both men and equipment, and now were exposed to a strong counter attack.

The counter attack was not long in coming, as House Taranis launched a reconnaissance in force against the flanks of the Tau army. Encountering a Hunter Cadre, a fluid battle erupted with both sides having to react quickly to events. The flexibility and firepower of the knights overcame the technological superiority of the xenos however, and the Tau force was wiped out. This defeat made the Tau forward positions untenable, and they withdrew to their defensive positions further north, while the Imperium extended their territorial control westwards. Ergura's Fall was quickly becoming a battle between the Imperium and the Tau for control of this vital system.

Imperial Guard make second landing on Haven

In the Rifts of Hecate the imperial strategy was not subtle. Inquisitor Esquerra had issued an order that no more exploitation of the Rifts of Hecate was to take place, and that the Hecate Gap was to be secured. The inquisitor had concluded that the safest option for the Imperium would be to hold the Hecate Gap long enough for the Gap itself to be sealed off, utilising necron technology (or rather destroying it), to prevent tyranid, ork and necron forces from sweeping into the Hadron Expanse and potentially into the sector more widely.

Since this order however, the inquisitor had travelled away from the region on urgent business, leaving inquisitor Huron to modify the edict. Seeing that the forces of the orks, tyranids and necrons were not perhaps as strong as Esquerra had judged, Huron visited the commander of all forces in the Hecate Region, general Justinian Flavius Maximus, who still hadn't moved his HQ from Helos Majoris in the Rifts of Hecate. Using his inquisition power, he reorganised the region, placing Maximus in charge of all forces in the Hadron Expanse, placing General Percival and his forces in the wider expanse under the command of the Crusade General. He then informed Cardinal Shumadz, and overall commander of sector forces, General Price at Vastrid, of the changes to the command structure. Huron did not inform his fellow inquisitor.

With Maximus now in command, he decided both Haven and Ergura's Fall should be taken and occupied by imperial forces, allowing the Imperium exclusive access to the exploitation of the Rifts of Hecate, rather than sealing the Rifts off. With this as the new objective Maximus stripped Percival of his Novgorod units and made a second landing on Haven. Once landed, the Novgorod Cavalry found themselves ambushed by a genestealer cult coming from the northern region of the main continent. The well equipped cavalry were able to defeat this attack, despite swarms of genestealers rushing the commander and his retinue of cavalry. The Novogord commander survived this assault though was later killed by a cultist sniper. The cultist however were unable to meaningfully threaten the Novgorod heavy armour, and they were killed in droves as they tried to rush the tanks, before being finished off by he cavalry's frag tipped lances. The landing on Haven had been secured.

Later on, the newly arrived cavalry advanced west towards the greenskin controlled area, expecting their heavy armour to once again tip any engagement in their favour. However the orks were ready, and managed to get the jump on the imperial force utilising jet pack kommando units. These fell upon the imperial artillery, neutralising the imperial heavy firepower, leaving the rest of the army unable to halt the onrushing greenskins. The battle resulted in a significant defeat for the imperial forces and they were driven back to more defensive lines. Overcoming all resistance on Haven now appeared more difficult than Maximus had at first judged.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Novgorod Guard retake Abrax Mines

Following the chaos offensive in the east the forces of the Emerald Serpent were now over extended. Daemonic forces could not be manifested indefinitely and the Iron Warriors were brought up to defend the flanks of the salient into the Abrax mines. The position was still difficult however, and general Kutuzov acted quickly to redeploy regiments of Novgorod Guard, equipped with fresh tanks, to deliver a blow into this area, in order to reach the Kunues Traps and cut off the forces now entrenched in the captured Abrax mines. This was made possible by the continuing supply situation on Mordecai Secundus. Although the daemon world of Astralis still made it impossible to cut the chaos supply routes, the imperial navy were by now able to conduct logistics missions to Mordecai Secundus without too much harassment from the chaos fleets, which remained bottled up at Mordecai docks, unwilling to challenge Admiral Jellicoe's naval superiority.

The Novgord tanks advanced in early 02.023M42, chewing up the chaos front lines. The Iron Warriors responded by sending in their elite infantry, holding their terminators back until their enemy had committed their mounted cavalry. This the Novgorod guard did, sending in their mounted troops on the right flank and in the centre of the imperial advance. The terminators were now deployed on the left flank, attempting to exploit imperial weakness here, but the imperial tanks had survived the initial engagement and now had a clear field of fire to pound the elite traitor astartes units. Taking heavy casualties the Iron Warriors fell back to the east, allowing the imperial forces to reach the shores of the Kuneus Traps. This cut off the remaining traitor units in the Abrax mines and over the following days these were mopped up by second line forces. In less than a month Kutuzov had re-stabilised the eastern front and restored the original front lines.