Saturday, June 16, 2018

Aeldari strike at Imperial Targets

Eldar and Dark Eldar force defeat Ad Mech and Novgorod Guard at Vespae, securing necron ruins.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Hadron Expanse 06_018M42

Ancient necron ruins found at Vespae

Admiral Enkvist had been unable to find Barham's fleet because the loyalist forces had now pushed into the very heart of the Hadron Expanse, beyond the range of astropathic communication. Alarmed by this, many of the senior staff in the expedition now felt it was time to turn back. Palantir had been lost, and the Crusade still had grudges to bear against the Novgorod Guard which made up the bulk of the imperial ground forces.

Lacking astartes support a meeting was called while the fleet sailed through the warp. However, eventually the expedition decided to press on, influenced by a group of shadowy individuals who revealed their inquisitorial seal to the admiral and ground commanders. The expedition would go on.

The next system the imperial fleet encountered appeared to be a dead system. There were many worlds capable of supporting life, but all the augur arrays detected were dust covered ruins. Landing a small party on the outer ice world to investigate anomalous readings, the rest of the fleet pushed on to the innermost terrestrial world, known as Vespae according to ancient star charts.

The planet itself appeared lush and verdant, ideal for colonisation, but no intelligent life was found. However, the Inquisition party directed the fleet to the outer moon, where extensive ruins of a past civilisation were evident. Landing a large force of Novgorod Guard on the moon, the Inquisition and their Adeptus Mechanicus team began searching and exploring the ruins, which were clearly necron in origin. 

After  several days of exploration, the imperial perimeter suddenly and unexpectedly came under assault by Xenos forces. Recognising them as Drukhari - of the Crimson Blade Kabal, the inquisiton ordered the Novgorod to make a fighting withdrawal while trying to gather as much information as possible. The expansive ruins made ambushes and lightning assaults all the more easy for the Dark Eldar, who systematically tore the Novgorod Guard apart in the shadow of the necron structures.

On 0606.018M42 the inquisition ordered the remaining members of the landing force to evacuate, leaving Vlokarion to exploit the ruins for his own ends. Declaring the inner worlds Perdita, the Inquisiton force took Barham's fleet back to the outer reaches to consolidate and regroup. Meanwhile they urgently tried to get a message through to their patron, Inquisitor Huron of the Ordo Xenos.

Imperium cling on at Paradorn

Following the raid at Mordecai by Imperial forces, the situation on Paradorn was not immediately relieved. The raid caused a great deal of damage and fractures in the chaos alliance began to appear, but Warsmith Stahl and the Emerald Serpent were able to convince Admiral Thok and Lord Tragean to keep their fleets in the Paradorn system, although both admirals felt their anchorage was under threat and it took a great deal of persuasion.

With time pressing, the forces of Chaos launched a new offensive on Imperial Forces on the third planet at Paradorn. Although chaos held the inner planet, there was still hard fighting in the system, and General Patreus, now in overall command at Paradorn, was already reorganising his Novgorod and Lycaon forces to better defend the Imperial position.

On the ground, the Emerald Serpent had limited forces at their disposal. Constant daemonic incursions were challenging, so the latest offensive would be undertaken by the traitorous Darrantine Guard, a former imperial force that had completely gone over to the side of the Ruinous Powers following the coming of the Cicatrix Maledictum.

Opposing this offensive, the Lycaon Guard fought with stubbornness and tenacity, and although the offensive started well for the traitor forces, within days the advance had stalled, and the Lycaon army began relentlessly pushing the Darrantine army back, encircling them. Tragean and Thok meanwhile were unwilling to leave the safe orbit of Paradorn I, fearing another raid by the astartes which could take their only base in the Paradorn system from under them.

Without support from space, the Darrantine Guard on Paradorn III were relentlessly ground down by the loyalist forces, before being entirely encircled and eliminated. By early 06M42 General Patreus was pleased to report that the planet was now fully under the control of Imperial forces. The situation still remained bleak however, with three chaos fleets in the system preventing any realistic move to take the inner worlds. Meanwhile the eldar simply watched events unfold from their stronghold at Paradorn II.

Crusade inch forward at Boltarean

While the battle for the Foramen raged in the spinward region of the Aleph Sector, the imperial battlegroups, mostly under the command of the Crusade, continued their war in the Hadron Expanse. The inner worlds of the Boltarean system had already been conquered by chaos, but the crusade were growing concerned that the system lay on the only reliable warp lane to the Zadoc subsector, where Hylas and New Cerberex maintained a tenuous supply route back to Corticant and Bastien in the Perseus Deeps. The Crusade resolved to take Boltarean from chaos, however long it took.

The Angels Repentant and the Volscian Guard agreed to take on the mission, as they already had a reasonably secure foothold on the outer ice planet. Their plans were boosted in 06.018M42 with the arrival of Enkvist's fleet. Without Jellicoe in overall command of Imperial naval forces in the sector since his defeat to Thok, the battlegroups of the sector were now left without central command, at least temporarily, so Enkvist took it u[on himself to bring much needed aid to imperial forces in the Expanse.

Unable to find Admiral Barham of the loyalist expedition, and largely ambivalent to the squabbles between Inquisitors Vorushko and Hathek, Enkvist arrived at Boltarean and immediately lent his support to the Crusade, allowing the Astartes to conduct a full on invasion of the ice planet of Boltarean III.

The defenders of the world were garrison forces of the Emerald Serpent - the Darrantine Guard, who fought hard, but ultimately could not prevent the Crusade from establishing a foothold on the planet. The next day the combined Volscian and astartes force launched their main assault at the only populated settlement, and outpost base on the western hemisphere of the frigid planet. With air support and astartes forces, the Darrantine Guard soon folded, abandoning the base and yielding the world to the Crusade Imperium. Those traitorous guard that did escape the fighting, were either hunted down in the weeks to come or died in the inhospitable wilderness of the frozen world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Astartes conduct brutal raid at Mordecai

With the Imperial strategic situation in such a poor state and with leadership from Vastrid, now the sector capital, severely lacking, in late 05.018M42 the Adeptus Astartes decided to take matters into their own hands. Identifying the chaos "capital" Mordecai as the linchpin of the chaos supply network, the Space Wolves and Grey Knights agreed on a cooperative strike to hamper the ability of the various chaos forces to prosecute their war effort, hopefully buying enough time for Imperial forces across the sector to regroup. With the chaos fleets now at Paradorn, there was a chance that such a mission could be successful.

Despite the Grey Knights having operated with the Crusade, and the Space Wolves having fought for Hathek on occasions, there was no enmity between the astartes chapters. While they did not always agree with the actions of the two inquisitors, both astartes chapters were united in their hatred for the ruinous powers, and it was in the interests of both the Crusade and loyalist forces to see the traitor forces hampered.

With this in mind the Grey Knights and Space Wolves made the dangerous passage to the Mordecai system, now on the edge of the Cicatrix Maledictum. From here the Space Wolves made the initial insertion, preparing the way for members of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The plan was simple. The Mechanicus had brought with the atomics, which would be detonated underneath the defence shield of the Fortress World of Moredecai Primaris, taking out weapons stores, manufactoria, and crucially fuel and ammunition supplies for the warfleets of Thok, Tragean and Stahl.

The Grey Knights hoped that the Space Wolves insertion would be met with a significant response from the forces of chaos, and the manifestation of their hated daemonic foe. Perhaps even a daemon Primarch would show their hand, giving the Ordo Malleus an opportunity to banish or even slay one of these enemies of the Imperium.

Utilising ancient stealth technology the tiny imperial fleet managed to penetrate into the heart of the Mordecai system, landing on the fortress worlds and establishing a perimeter. As the Adeptus Mechanicus got to work preparing the necessary rituals to ensure a successful detonation, the Space Marines fought a furious battle as the forces of chaos reacted in strength to this intrusion into their heartlands. As the Space Wolves desperately held on, the ruinous powers realised the threat and the Emerald Serpent appeared from the warp, accompanied by the Death Guard. Led by the dread Primarch Mortarion this was the moment the Grey Knights had been waiting for, and they joined the battle in support of their battle brothers.

The Death Guard and Thousand Sons fought with savagery against their hated foe, and the imperial forces knew they would have to retreat. However they needed to buy time for the Mechanicum and deal as much damage to the hated foe as they could before making good their withdrawal. The astartes fought stubbornly, and the Grey Knights banished many a daemon back to the warp, even forcing Mortarion himself to flee back to his infernal domain lest his eternal soul be annihilated by the Emperor blessed weapons of the Ordo Malleus. 

After many hours of savage fighting the astartes were able to make one last gasp effort, using a rhino to block the entrance way to the underground cavern where the Mechanicum had almost completed their rites of blessing to the Omnissiah. At 19hrs on 2805.018M42 the message was received by the Space Wolves captain. ++IT IS COMPLETE++

The astartes and mechanicus forces then managed a successful fighting retreat, as their enemies closed in around them. Using the teleportaria aboard their cloaked vessels, the majority of the valuable assets were evacuated from the planet, escaping into deep space. Only a few tech adepts remained, whose sacrifice was deemed an acceptable trade for the success of the operation. As the astartes strike cruisers raced for the Mordecai jump point, pursued by the few chaos vessels still in the system, behind them an enormous set of explosions blossomed on the surface of the chaos world. The damage to the chaos supply network was devastating, destroying years worth of fuel and enough ammunition to supply an entire warfleet for decades. When Stahl was informed he raged at the incompetence of his chaos "allies" once more. Allies who had allowed the Imperium to conduct a surgical strike at the heart of the chaos realm in the Aleph Sector when the total victory of Chaos was almost at hand.

Chaos clash with Tau at Mimir 3

While the Federacy aided their tau allies at Echo Reach, they were only be able to leave enough forces in the Mimir system to defend the new federal colony of New Titania. This necessarily meant leaving the outer planets without defences, allowing the forces of chaos an easy transit to Mimir III. The Emperors Children had already established a presence in the system, but increased activity detected by federal listening bouys alarmed the alliance. A meeting was called. 

In order to pay back the federacy for their help at Echo Reach, it was arranged that the tau would lead the assault to clear the rogue chaos warbands from the outer reaches of the system. In reality this was also borne of political necessity. With the federal presence at Echo Reach the tau needed to “help” at Mimir so that both systems were “alliance”. 

Malkaor’s expedition duly set off and landed at Mimir 3. Expecting ill equipped and disorganised chaos warbands they were soon shocked as the whole of the elite Emerald Serpent turned out in force to oppose the tau. The battle was hard fought but the tau were unable to deal with the core might of the tzeentch dedicated daemonic armies. In only 24 hours the tau had withdrawn leaving chaos in control of the small rock world of Mimir III. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

New Sector Map

Click to go to a larger image.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Foramen Interdictum Strategic Map

Paradorn Invaded by Chaos

With Tarlius secured apart from the remaining eldar zone on Tarlius II, Warsmith Stahl felt confident enough to move onto the next phase of his plans. Having expanded his empire to include now two important systems - Minos and Tarlius - near to the entry way to the Foramen Majoris, the next target was obvious - Paradorn.

The Paradorn system was situated at the other end of the Foramen Majoris. Holding both ends with the support of the chaos fleets of Thok, Tragean and Stahl would effectively block passage through the Foramen Majoris for the Imperium, and anyone else for that matter.

The alliance now had an alternative route through the Cicatrix, but the Foramen Minoris remained contested between the loyalists and the Crusade, who held their fleet at Vandrax, effectively denying passage to the loyalists. In addition to that, the Minoris crossing involved a much longer and more tenuous route, and risked interception by Federal and Xenos forces. Only a strong battlegroup would be able to traverse this route, not the trade convoys the loyalists badly needed.

With the strategic situation so obviously poor, an invasion of Paradorn had to be obvious, and yet when Stahl, Tragean and Thok moved in force to the Paradorn system, they faced no resistance from the Imperial navy, now leaderless with Jellicoe missing, and apparently content to remain on the defensive guarding Farport, with D'Oyly-Hughes somewhere in the Perseus Deeps.

The Iron Warriors fell upon the Imperial ground forces on Paradorn I, and despite a spirited resistance from the Novgorod Guard, who had fought Stahl so many times at Minos, with chaos enjoying total air supremacy their defence lasers were no help. Stahl simply bombarded them from space, then deployed his army on the ground. Stahl's forces then systematically destroyed the Vostroyan units, before annihilating the imperial installations on the barely habitable rock world.

By 2105.018M42 Stahl's Iron Warriors had moved on to Paradorn III, neatly avoiding the eldar on the second planet, who for now remained impassive to the massive conflict now erupting in the system. Imperial High Command seemed paralysed. On 2305.018M42 Titus Luthor returned from his pilgrimage to Terra, to find the Imperial cause in an absolute shambles.

Chaos infighting but Palantir is overrun

With loyalist forces almost annihilated by the initial Palantir invasion by the forces of chaos, Dale now lay wide open and defenceless to the unstoppable chaos assault. THe backward population tried to flee before the mortal and daemon legions of the Emerald Serpent, with some escaping into the wilderness as villages burned and thousands of prisoners were rounded up to be worked in the name of the Dark Gods. Hell had come to Dale, but the Deamon Prince S'Sith'rak decided he wanted a share of the spoils.

Arriving at the head of a Slaanesh daemon army, the Daemon Prince was not welcomed by the Emerald Serpent, and old enmities erupted as the chaos forces, with no-one else to fight on Dale, instead fought each other. Civilians suffered just the same, but the other-worldly slaughter brought new horrors to the population. The Emerald Serpent succeeded in enforcing their will, and the prince of Slaanesh and his warhost were banished to the warp, allowing the system to be dedicated to Tzeentch. Not however, before S'Sith'rak had looted his own share of the booty - both inanimate and living, from the wreckage of the once peaceful world.

Hadron Expanse: Federal Battlegroup secure Echo Reach for Alliance

After consolidating their hold over New Titania, the Federal battlegroup led by the Battleship Haskell then moved on to Echo Reach, keen to aid the Tau in their conquest of that system. Echo Reach itself was already under the control of the Tau, but they had been involved in running battles against crusade forces, and now Vorushko's troops had gained a foothold on the third planet - Echo III.

Echo III had been inhabited since the great crusade, although much of it now lay in ruins. With the permission of the Tau commander of the Hadron Expansion Sphere, the Federacy and Tau decided to pool their efforts "for the greater good". In return for their help, the Federacy would be allowed to oversee the rebuilding of the dilapidated human colonies on Echo II, III and IV, while the Tau would complete the colonisation of the warm swampy planet of Echo Reach itself.

The Federal battlegroup found no resistance in space, the Crusade fleet being far smaller than the warfleet led by the Retribution class battleship, enabling the overall commander of ground forces, Commander in Chief Jakub Kuwalski,  free reign in landing his troops around the large settlement where the Volscian Guard held their headquarters on the dusty planet.

The Librian 101st regiment, newly reformed from the ashes of the Librian army that had fought against the Tau in engagements across the sector, now moved forward in strength against the Imperium instead, finding that the centre of the city was not only defended by the Volscian Guard, but by units of the astartes chapter "Angels Repentant".

Colonel Bowman, commander of the 101st, did not hesitate in moving forward in strength however, bouyed by recent Federal success at the Mimir system. He had overwhelming firepower, employing a battalion of artillery, Leman Russ battle tanks, and Hellhounds, supported by infantry. Even so the astartes launched a counter attack with predictable ferocity, employing Storm Raven gunships to deliver troops to the heart of the fighting.

From the start the astartes took heavy casualties, with the Death Company taking heavy fire from battle tanks, artillery and Hellhounds, while the airborne units were quickly dealt with. All the Crusade airborne vehicles were shot down, and those troops that did reach the Federal lines were cut down by gunfire and enthusiastic and disciplined charged by the Librian Infantry.

It was not all plain sailing for the Librian Colonel however. The federal fleet detected Crusade strike cruisers inbound, causing a flurry of communications from the overall command for Bowman to "get on with it". The Volscians put up determined resistance, and although the Librians enjoyed a firepower advantage, after a day of fighting the advance was behind schedule with the Crusade strike cruisers moving in force towards Echo III. If the Crusade garrison could hold out for just another day, they may yet be rescued. Admiral Eberhardt warned Bowman that she would not be able to support his troops on the ground and fight a battle in space, and the loss of air cover would prove disastrous for the Librians on the ground. 

Time was pressing, and the Colonel ordered all units to advance, heedless of casualties. Rushing forward with the Hellhounds leading the way, the Librians began pushing the astartes back, causing horrendous losses to the Crusade forces, but the Volscians and Angels Repentant then began a fighting retreat which at one point looked like succeeding. With minutes to spare as the Crusade strike cruisers approached maximum weapons range however, Colonel Bowman was able to report that the settlement and its vital defence lasers had been captured, and all Crusade resistance annihilated. Relieved, Eberhardt pulled her fleet into the cover of the defence lasers and invited the Crusade strike cruisers to engage. Realising this would be futile and nothing could be saved on the planet, the Crusade withdrew.

The defeat of the garrison at Echo III opened the way for Tau and federal forces to land on the remaining worlds of the system, establishing bases and defences against the return of Imperial forces. By 2205.018M42 the Echo system was fully under alliance control.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hadron Expanse strategic position

End of loyalists at the Tarlius system

In mid 05.018M42 the imperial presence at Tarlius was clearly untenable. General Patreus requested evacuation, but although Hathek and the imperial command agreed this would be the best course of action, with Tragean’s fleet in orbit around Tarlius II the situation looked dire. 

Stahl was content to wait for the loyalists to die of hunger, but not all the Chaos forces engaged in the fighting agreed. Notably Khepri, leader of the Prophets of Sotek, favoured immediate decisive action. 

The chance for Khepri came on 1205.018M42, when the Ultramarines, led by a new Primaris Captain, arrived in the system and proposed a daring rescue plan. Able commanders like Patreus and the remaining guard forces should not be allowed to die if they could be rescued. Guilliman needed every man he could get in the fight against the dark forces of chaos. 

Hathek was grateful for the aid, but reluctant to give up command to the Ultramarines. In the end he acquiesced, avoiding a political standoff and clearing the way for the Astartes plan. 

The initial phase of the plan went without mishap, as two strike cruisers leading five fast transports made it successfully to the planet, catching Tragean’s fleet unprepared and out of position. However the Prophets of Sotek quickly realised what the Ultramarines has planned and launched an immediate and bloody offensive against the imperial pocket in the northern hemisphere of the blighted world. 

Khepri use his connection to the warp to deal a devastating blow to the leader of the Ultramarines during an intensely violent conflict. In mere hours the Ultramarines had been decisively beaten by the chaos force, and the loyalists were unable to construct the perimeter needed for the rescue. By the time the imperial transports has got into position to load their precious cargo, there was nothing left to save. Tarlius II was abandoned by the Imperium and one end of the vital Foramen passage now lay in chaos hands, making supplying the Imperium Nihilis all the more difficult. 

Barham's expedition reaches Dnatha

While the loyalist bases at Awarath and Palantir were being overrun, the exploration fleet continued on into the Expanse, apparently blithely unaware of the parlous state of their supply lines. The Imperial fleet was now without any base in the Hadron expanse and was reduced to scattered bases with no provision for resupply and repair.

Nevertheless Barham's fleet ploughed on, reaching the Dnatha system in mid 05.018M42. Here they found the Crusade force already entrenched on several planets, and upon landing on Dnatha 4, the Novgorod Guard were almost immediately pitched into brutal conflict against the Angels Repentant. The astartes tried to disrupt the construction of the loyalist base on the cold icy steppes of Dnatha 4, but the Novgorod fought hard, managing to use their numbers to fend off the space marines.

By 1505.018M42 the Space Marines had withdrawn to the crusade base on the innermost planet, while Barham's fleet moved in to support the loyalist encampment. It had been a victory for the loyalists, but the Ad Hoc nature of the Expanse exploration, with no clear plan or direction, was beginning to finally draw criticism from High Command of the Aleph Sector.

Drukhari raid loyalist base at Awarath

Following the violence at Palantir, which ultimately led to the fall of the system from the loyalist grip, the Drukhari continued their raiding unabaited in 05_018M42, following up with yet another raid on exposed Imperial assets. This time the small base at Arawath, set up to monitor the Crusade on the larger world, was brutally attacked by the Crimson Blade Kabal. Vlokarion clearly had an eye for easy targets and arrived without warning.

The Lycaon detatchment detailed to protect the monitoring post did eventually respond, but despite being able to inflict damage on the raiders the base was completely annihilated before the Drukhari withdrew under heavy fire. The Dark Eldar had conducted another highly profitable raid, and inadvertently aided the Crusade, who now dominated the Awarath system free from loyalist spying.

Chaos take Palantir base from Loyalists

Following the destruction of the Palantir system the Drukhari, the forces of chaos were quick to take advantage of the mess the loyalists were in by launching an immediate assault on the system. Avoiding Dale, which was already a devastated wasteland, the forces of the Emerald Serpent descended upon the smaller world of Bree.

The loyalists however made a strong stand at Hobbiton, defending the smaller abhumans from the onslaught of chaos. At first it seemed that the Last of Sycorax would make a successful defence, as their inquisitor dealt the final blow to the manifestation of Magnus the Red that once again led the charge for chaos.

However, the guard were unable to celebrate their victory for long, as a horde of bloodletters appeared from the warp, carving a bloody path through the centre of the imperial lines deep into the loyalist rear guard. Carnage followed but the imperials still did not falter in their duty. Desperately the Imperial commander called for aid from Barham's fleet, but the ships of the Emperor had already pushed on to Dnatha, once again failing to adequately protect their supply lines. By the end of 01305.018M42 the small Imperial presence on Hobbiton had been wiped out, leaving the abhumans, so recently reunited with the Imperial, to be enslaved by the Chaos Gods.