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.