|Betalis III Campaign|
|Attacking Commander||Farseer Bel-Annath|
|Defending Commander||General Myndoras Odon, Wolf Lord Bran Redmaw|
|Theatre||Betalis III, Talis Munus Sector, Segmentum Solar|
|Strength (attackers)||Craftworlds Mymeara, Alaitoc, Eldar Corsairs - Void Dragons, Sky Raiders, Sunblitz Brotherhood, & Harlequin Company - Masque of the Winter Sun|
|Strength (defenders)||Cadian 6th Armoured Regiment, Elysian 22nd Drop Troops Regiment, Space Wolves Redmaw Great Company, Demi-Legio Legio Gryphonicus|
|Casualties (attackers)||Total number unknown; moderately heavy|
|Casualties (defenders)||Heavy, presumed to be in the hundreds|
|Status||Pyrrhic Imperial Victory|
|Outcome||Eldar withdraw after achieving their mysterious objectives.|
Ghosts in the ShadowsEdit
Opening Moves 024894.M41Edit
Located deep within the glacial fields of Betalis III's eastern continent, Relay Station NX87-04 formed part of the global surveillance network that kept permanent watch over the Ice world's vast uninhabitable wastelands. That it had functioned without issue for centuries in such harsh conditions was a testament to the consummate skills of the Adeptus Mechanicus tech-priests who had seeded the planet with scores of such installations during its transformation into an Imperium mining colony. On the eve of its four hundred and fifth year of perfect operation the relay station abruptly ceased transmitting.
The logis-adept monitoring the relay station thousands of kilometres away at the planet's spaceport, port Ryira, instantly went into cerebral shock and let out a soul-piercing scream; the sudden loss of data collapsing its higher brain functions which had exclusively devoted to processing NX87-04's constant stream of tech-scripts and binary ciphers its entire life. Its death cry sent a shock wave through the living, breathing bio-processor it was physically and mentally connected to, rendering five other adepts catatonic and leaving vast tracts of the planet's eastern-most continent unmonitored until repairs could be affected and the damaged bio-components replaced
On a world where temperatures had been sub-zero for millennia and lethal ice storms whipped up with little warning, the malfunction of NX87-04 was initially blamed on local conditions, and it was left to the trans-mechanic specialists of the Adeptus Mechanicus on-site to resolve the issue and revive the relay station's machine spirit. It was only when a Sentinel patrol from a nearby garrison was ordered to investigate the still silent facility two days later that the isolated relay station was found to have been attacked and destroyed. The frozen bodies of its massacred trans-mechanics were lain scattered throughout the station's charred remains, the horrific injuries consistent with those caused by monofilament projectile weapons. A report of the patrol's grisly discovery was immediately dispatched to port Ryira and as alarms blared throughout the facility, the planet's defence forces steeled themselves for further attacks.
Over the weeks that followed the ice world's global surveillance network was targeted by more raids; each facility being attacked under cover of darkness and with little, if any, warning. The motive for the attacks completely eluded Betalis III's Planetary Governor, Jamuel Escava, and the representatives of the noble mining families who oversaw production of the ice world. The planet was of little strategic importance and of only minor economic worth to the sub-sector.
Aside from the sixty-two million citizen-workers and their families living in settlements clustered around the planet's ore mines and refineries, and the fifteen thousand Administratum support staff based at Port Ryira, the planet was a desolate wasteland devoid of life. One of only two planets fit for habitation in the system, it was a stark contrast to the neighbouring industrial world of Betalis IV. Even the aristocratic families granted mining charters on Betalis III generations before by the Administratum rarely visited their distant dominion. Instead their will was imposed by hundreds of petty bureaucrats, prefects and stewards charged with meeting the planet's annual Administratum tithes and ensuring that every last bit of profit possible after that was ground from the planet's bedrock and the unfortunate souls who lived upon it.
The escalating raids were quickly attributed to the Eldar Corsairs that the system's Imperial Navy fleet had previously encountered in the Betalis system's outer asteroid belt and the Karina Nebula beyond it, The Corsairs, identified as being aligned to the Void Dragons cadre, had posed a serious threat in the past to the colonists of Betalis III, launching attacks upon isolated communities whenever the opportunity had presented itself. Regular patrols by the system's fleet had kept them in check in recent years, but it was now obvious from the increasing sightings reported by the crews of cargo transports travelling to and from the system that those circumstances had changed.
Meanwhile, on Betalis III, as the profile of the raids on the ice world differed little from the Corsairs' modus operandi, Planetary Governor Escavor dispatched his forces as he had done previously. Now though these joined by men from the Cadia 6th Armoured Regiment, elements of which had been recently transferred to the planet to undergo hostile environment training. With their skills and experience, Planetary Governor Escava desperately hoped that, maybe, the fighting men of Cadia would put an end to this persistent problem once and for all.
Even with the aid of the vastly more experienced Cadian squads, hunting down the raiders was not as simple a matter as Planetary Governor Escava thought. As soon as a report of a raid was received, the Guardsmen were immediately dispatched in squadrons of Arvus Lighters across the frozen landscape. Of the raiding party though there would be no sign, only the destruction it had wrought upon yet another relay station or isolated outpost and indication of its passing. On the rare occasion there were terrified beyond rational sense, babbling incoherently about lights in the darkness before mercifully succumbing to their wounds.
The horrific game of cat and mouse was to go on for weeks; the planet's overseers and stewards voicing their concerns ever louder with each attack, fearful that the situation would soon hamper their ability to meet the mining cartels's Administratum obligations. And so it might have continued had not greater military minds been watching events unfold on Betalis III from afar.
The Return of a Warrior 032894.M41 Edit
A month after the attack on Relay Station NX87-04, a shuttlecraft set down on the primary landing strip at Port Ryira. Onboard was General Myndoras Odon, commander of the 6th Cadian Armoured Regiment and a decorated veteran of over thirty campaigns fought in the name of the Emperor. Recovering from the injuries he'd received whilst commanding the regiment in its successful defence of the Agri-World , Saras VII, the General had abruptly cut short his rehabilitation, giving only two hours notice of his impending arrival to the now nervously waiting Planetary Governor Escava.
Striding past the fawning diplomats from the mining cartels that had hastily gathered to greet him, the General's first action was to reassume commanding of all divisions of the Cadian 6th garrisoned on the planet. Bowing to the general's superior military expertise, some might suggest almost too eagerly, Planetary Governor Escava put the planet's defence forces at the Imperial Guard commander's disposal.
Only a few hours behind the General's ship but already filling long-range pict-screens at Port Ryira was an armada of vessels, on board which was the remainder of the Cadian 6th Armoured Regiment. Their headquarters had been temporarily based on the system's primary planet, Betalis IV, and the General had issued orders whilst en-route that they were to redeploy to Betalis III; his assessment of the situation was that events unfolding on the planet were serious enough to warrant their immediate relocation.
General Odon's long years of tactical training and battlefield experience had led him to conclude that the seemingly indiscriminate attacks were neither random nor the actions of opportunists taking advantage of what the General saw as a woefully poorly defended system; an abomination he would be taking up with the commanders of its Imperial Navy fleet forthwith. Each attack had been planned by minds infinitely greater than those they had been toying with, and were undoubtedly, in his opinion, part of a much wider initiative. Although none of the facilities attacked were directly connected, by plotting the raids and then projecting where the next one would most likely occur, General Odon had realised that a tipping point would soon be reached where Betalis III's entire global surveillance network would be rendered inoperative with the removal of just four more relay stations thousands of kilometres apart form each other. With the planet unmonitored, and units from the 6th Cadian Armoured Regiment and Planetary Defence Forces spread too thin across its surface chasing ghosts, the world would be utterly unprepared for the much larger invasion General Odon believed the attacks were a prelude to. Betalis III's custodians had been foolishly dancing to someone else's tune and General Odon had arrived to put a stop to it.
Knowing that time was a precious commodity he could now ill afford to waste and with not enough men or armament to protect the entire planet, General Odon ordered that all Imperial Guard and planetary defence forces be recalled from the less populated southern and western continents with immediate effect. This raised a heated storm of protests from the cartels' representatives who feared what would happen if they lost the total control they currently exerted over the belligerent population, still bitter over what they saw as the 'twisted' promises made to their ancestors centuries before. If the workers were not kept in check it was feared that riots would soon break out, affecting production rates and preventing the cartels from meeting the planet's stringent Administratum tithe.
But during times of war rarely do the priorities of the common man, their Imperial overseers and the might of the military concur, and whilst the cartels petitioned furiously for him to rescind his order, the General had far greater concerns. He believed that what they would all soon face was far worse than a barely restrained militant population or the Administratum's vast chapters of auditors and bureaucrats. General Odon suspected that whoever was behind the raids was already massing its forces in the unmonitored glacial wastelands, and should they gain a foothold on Betallis III, then the infinitely more valuable industrial world and staging point of Betalis IV would be their next target. Betalis III was nothing more than a stepping stone, in his eyes, to the indispensable strategic gem that hung in its heavens.
The Dies Is Cast 040894.M41Edit
The decision to recall the Imperial Guard squads from the southern and western continents achieved far more than a storm of protests from the planet's prefects; it also provoked the enemy into action, something General Odon had been counting on.
As the last Guardsman were shuttled back to Port Ryira, a cargo vessel flying supplies between the mining facilities on the southern ice plains of the continent was attacked and destroyed. Before his ship disappeared from Port Rayira's screens, the pilot relayed back a single pict-image of his pursuers. It showed two sleek craft clearly of Eldar origin; each with their weapons illuminated with an unearthly glow as they powered up to blast the cargo ship from the skies
The message from the planet's assailants was loud and clear. The war for Betalis III had begun.
The Search for Arms and Armour Edit
Even with thousands of Imperial Guard regiments in a constant state of readiness, the wheels of bureaucracy within the Departmento Munitorum grind woefully slowly. The order for the Hammer of the Emperor to strike may not be issued for weeks, months, or even years once a request for aid is first received as it makes its way through the seemingly endless chain of command. Those seeking assistance are therefore wise to look to their own defence in case they do not receive reinforcements in time or at all. Therefore, invoking his full powers as Consul Militant of the Betalis system, a position granted to him upon his return to active service, General Odon first issued a system wide decree that all resources, both military and otherwise, were now part of the building war effort. Attached to this decree was notice that anyone who dared to object would be swiftly transferred to the ranks of the Arbites penal battalion, charged as traitors for supporting the Eldar cause.
As the superior military force on the planet, the Cadian 6th Regiment would form the core of the army, but what the regiment delivered in terms of experience and ability it lacked in equipment. It was sorely in need of tanks and had only half of its usual complement available. The remainder had not yet been replaced after the were destroyed in the war against the Orks on Saras VII.
The Cadia 6th Regiment's officers first scoured Betalis III for anything with tracks and armour they could use. All of Betalis III's heavy armour, what little there was of it, was immediately stripped from the Planetary Defence Force and added to that of the Cadian regiment, along with its squadrons of Malcador Infernus flamer tanks and Crassus armoured assault transports
General Odon's next action was to gain consensus from the system's Imperial Navy commander that all non-essential flights be grounded on the planet to protect what little air support he would have to call upon during the conflict. The Imperial Navy's small defensive air fleet comprised little more that a squadron of Marauder Destroyers and another of Thunderbolts, with the majority of its 'civilian' craft being Arvus cargo shuttles and bulk transports. General Odon knew that the Eldar would first and foremost seek superiority in the skies before committing any ground troops. With little to match their craft in terms of speed or manoeuvrability, this would be a hard battle for the Betalis system fleet, but one it would participate in regardless.
Then the General's staff turned their attention to the colonists of the ice world. The Planetary Governor had been in the process of building up and training recruits to meet the planet's Departmento Munitorum manpower tithes. THe recruits, men and women mostly drawn from the Planetary Defence Force and workers militia, had been given the temporary title of the 28th Betalis Rifles. They had virtually no equipment or heavy weapons, but had already undergone training with the Cadian 6th and were considered battle ready. General Odon gave the order for their reassignment. Theses near-raw recruits had little experience but he needed the manpower. If nothing else they would free up more experienced Guardsmen from garrison and security duties. Their commander, Colonel Empteda, was a capable and loyal officer who had achieved good results in training the conscripts, and General Odon saw no need to replace him.
The search for troops also led directly to the cells of the Adeptus Arbites. The life of the common man of the Imperium is rarely an easy one.War and disease take all too many from the Emperor's light to soon and those who survive will likely endure such hardships that each day is a constant struggle with little reward or comfort other than what can take, whether willingly or otherwise, from another.
On Betalis III the descendants of the original colonists survived their grim existence with their ancestors' bitter hatred for their overseers bred deep into their psyche. With absolute control over their lives, the cartels' enforcers made sure there was little time between work shifts for them to dwell upon their discontentment. Still though, tempers regularly ran high and even minor scuffles or disagreements frequently escalated into riots among the general populace, and the swift, harsh penalties dealt out for even the smallest infraction meant there were was rarely a cell empty in the many Arbites compounds on the world. It was to these that the General's staff turned next, and each prisoner, regardless of his rime or sentence, was armed and given the chance to redeem himself.
The final addition to the burgeoning defence force was the primary mining cartel family's personal guard. The absent cartel family's representative on the planet, Lord-steward Vlaar, was a practical man, who recognised that the sooner the Eldar threat was removed from Betalis III, the quicker normal operations would resume. The cartel's personal guard consisted of a thousand troops granted for ceremonial duties and protection should the members if the noble mining family who owned the Administratum mandate ever visit. The guard looked smart on the parade ground and had their own squadrons on Leman Russ and Chimera, but like the Betalis 28th had never seen any combat action. The General's staff took them any way. In return Lord-steward Vlaar lobbied for and, to the surprise of many of the rival cartel families' representatives, was given the rank of colonel.
Having exhausted what Betalis III could offer, the General's staff then turned to other sources of manpower. Neighbouring Betalis IV, also now on high alert, was currently the staging point of the Vaust 14th Armoured Regiment. The Vaustian commander was ordered to turn control of the regiment over to the Cadians; theirs was the senior force and the needs of the Betalis system overrode his previous orders. The regiment comprised men conscripted from Vaust's hive gangs and workers, and although they lacked the Cadian's tradition of service and sacrifice, the regiment was well-equipped with Chimeras and Leman Russ. It also had a heavy tank company of ageing but fully-functional Macharius battle tanks. These would be essential, especially as the Cadians had little in the way of truly heavy armament, just a few surviving battle-worn squadrons of Baneblades, Stromblades and Shadowswords.
A flotilla of vessels used by the mining cartels had already been prepared for the regiment's immediate transfer when its young colonel, in command of the regiment through nothing but sheer fluke of birthright, sent his response. Although he sympathised with the predicament that General Odod faced, he would not deviate from his original orders until sector command sent new instructions. The Vaust 14th would stay on Betalis IV. A skirmish on some backwater planet was not part of the Vaustian colonel's current concerns.
The Intervention 048894.M41Edit
The defiance of the Vaust 14th's commander ended with the arrival of Inquisitor-lord Hestaphus Danzk at Port Ryira. The Inquisitor-lord, an agent of the great institution of the Ordo Xenos, swept into General Odon's command room unannounced and unchallenged. Accompanying the Inquisitor-lord was his retinue: three Cadian Guardsmen, an Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-priest upon whose arm perched a huge black bird, cables from the implants upon its skull linking it with its creator, and two Ogryns. Dragged unceremoniously between the two megalithic thugs was the pitiful sight of the young Vaustian colonel, all evidence of his former rank ripped unceremoniously from his soiled uniform.
The Vaust 14th Armoured Regiment was immediately redeployed to Betalis III and within days their Leman Russ, Chimeras, Macharius and Ogryn Auxila Company were reassigned to reinforce the Cadian squads. Some of the Cadian 6th Regiment's officers were also distributed throughout the new regiment's ranks, replacing the inexperienced officers drawn from the hive world's ruling families with much more experienced Cadian sergeants and veterans. Commissars were also posted amongst the platoons to quash any dissent with their customary finality.
As well as providing a solution to the army's lack of ground troops, the Inquisitor-lord had also called upon other resources, some even the new Consul Militant did not have access to. Also in the vicinity of the Betalis system was a convoy destined for the Yarant system, containing a Titan transport of the Legio Gryphonicus — the War Griffons. General Odon forwarded an astropathic request to the War Griffons home world requesting its temporary reassignment. The request was approved and in addition a strike force of Elysian Drop Troops accompanying the convoy was also diverted. The Elysians, under the command of a Captain Isarta, would provide their own airborne transports and form a mobile reserve for the defence force. Enroute to the system Inquisitor-lord Danzk had also petitioned the Space Wolves Chapter for aid. There had been reports of their presence in a neighbouring system, and if the Space Marines heeded the call for reinforcements, then their added might would see a formidable force assembled for the defence of the planet.
With all available options exhausted and the Eldar Corsairs now openly mounting daylight raids on the other two continents, their populations left to fend for themselves by the order of the General, the Beltais III defence force was split into three battle groups.
Colonel Empteda would take command of the first. His battle group was ordered to immediately head to the Bregan Glacier, The glacier loomed over the entrance to the Tarundor Peninsula, and if it were to fall into enemy hands then movement on and off the peninsula, where the Imperium's forces were based, would be severely restricted. It was essential that it was in Imperial hands before the war began.
Meanwhile, the two other battle groups would remain on alert at Port Ryira. Only when the full scale of the enemy's forces and its intentions were absolutely clear would the largest battle group, led by General Myndoras Odon, deploy. The last of the three battle groups, commanded by Colonel Vlaar, would remain at the space port unless the deployment of its reserve forces was deemed absolutely necessary.
Until that time, the defenders of the ice world of Betalis III prepared for war.
The Silence Ends 053894.M41Edit
The colossal blue star of the Betalis system was an ancient traveller. It had passed across the western spiral arms of the galaxy for billions of years trailed by a ghostly shroud, and had figured in the myths and legends of the region in many guises. To the worlds of the Pashek Consortium it was the all-seeing eye of a terrifying cyclopean god that constantly watched and judged their every move. But to the Bad Moon Ork Warlord Gobteef Fangmaw, it had been a huge sparkling jewel dropped by the Ork god Gork (or possibly Mork) himself. Driven by his insatiable greed to possess the star-sized gem, the Ork warlord had swept across the sector at the head of a gargantuan WAAAGH! millions of Orks strong; his murderous rampage only being halted when he was slain by a rival Goff Ork Warlord.
To the Imperium the Betalis star was none of these things. What they found instead when their survey ships examined and catalogued it was just another seething ball of plasma and radiation like so many others within the Emperor's domain. The star was nothing more than a minor sun that had been spewing its stellar matter out into the voids of space for millennia before it converged together again in a vast cloud of star dust nearly a light year away.
Known as the Karina Nebula, the Betalis Dust Cloud or simply EPN31953 by Imperial xeno-cartographers, to the Eldar the hazy expanse was the Maiden's Veil. Nothing more than an insignificant smudge on the star charts of the Imperial Navy, to the fathomless minds of the Eldar it was a place avoided by those few who lived upon the Craftworlds who were privy to its terrible secret. But for the young Eldar who sought a life free of the restrictions and constraints of the Eldar star palaces, it held no such fear. Instead for millennia it drew them like moths to a flame to join other such outcasts of their slowly dying race within its gossamer veil, and where now a massive Corsair fleet was massing in preparation for its assault upon Betalis system.
Eyes Wide in the WildernessEdit
The destruction of Betalis III's global surveillance network by the Eldar Corsairs put General Odon's forces at a serious disadvantage. Without it vast stretches of the eastern continent could not be monitored, nor could they platforms. The platform's sensors had been designed to penetrate the highly reflective stellar matter that poured through the system from the Betalis sun. It would require many days of delicate recalibration by tech-adepts before they could be refocused on the planet, let alone provide images of sufficient quality for the battle group's commanders to use.
Again Inquisitor-lord Danzk provided the solution. Amongst his retinue was an Adeptus Mechanicus tech-priest, Mydeaus, whom the Inquisitor-lord had rescued over thirty years before from a Chaos cultist uprising on the hive world of Hemisphere .With the relay stations and power systems of the surveillance network damaged too far beyond even the tech-priest's ability to repair by the Eldar raids, he set to work on an alternative. Working without rest for two days and nights, the tech-priest put the now redundant monitoring system at Port Ryira to a new purpose. From its bio-mechanical components he created scores of surveillance servitors, mostly static devices but some even capable of low level flight. These were then distributed to key locations across the eastern continent by the Inquisitor's retinue; the three Cadians and tech-priest facing the very real risk of discovery at any moment by the increasing patrols mounted by Eldar jetbike squadrons.
Within hours of the last of the devices being activated, the full scale of the Eldar incursion was realised. Monitoring the feeds from the servitors on the banks of pict-screens in his command Chimera, Inquisitor-lord Danzk informed General Odon that the defenders of Betalis III faced not one but two massive Eldar Battle host.
The Battle For the Betalis System Edit
The early warning systems on the Watchful Saviour, Betalis III's primary orbiting defence platform, burst into life as the Corsair armada crossed into the system's outer reaches. As one the dour robed figures of its choir rose up from their ornately carved wooden stalls and began to chant the Canticle of the Observant Son; the low droning call to arms a sombre contrast to the shrieking sirens that had also been triggered by the approach of the enemy ships.
Far above them in the Watchful Saviour's towering spires, its gun crews prepared for battle. Scores of Imperial Navy indentured workers heaved the platform's massive macro cannons and lance weapons forward into their firing positions; the bundles if chains they hauled them along with cutting deep into their hands and shoulders as they strained with the mammoth effort required of their task.
Many levels below, deep in the core of the platform, Adeptus Mechanicus adepts blessed the workings of the station's plasma generator, the long black filaments of their elector-brushes smearing holy oils and unguents thickly upon its age-stained cogs and arcane gears. Then, only when they were satisfied they had bestowed upon them sufficient blessings and anointments, did the worshippers of the Omnissiah each take hold of one of the generator's primary valves and, with a softly whispered prayer, awaken the dormant machine spirit within.
Two hours after its sensors had detected the approaching Corsair ships, the gun crews of the Watchful Saviour opened fire at maximum range, their blinding beams of light slicing deep into the flight path of the oncoming fleet. Their efforts went unrewarded thought as the beams harmlessly dissipated beyond the swarming ships. Again and again the crews fired but to little effect, the defence lasers glowing red hot as their crews laboured to track and hit the elusive targets whose holo-fields redirected and dispersed the shots with ease.
Then, from behind the second moon of the ice world, the system's Imperial Naval fleet joined the battle - dozens of Fury interceptors, defence monitors and system ships, their numbers pitifully few in comparison to the massed Eldar craft. The Fury interceptors accelerated once they were clear of the moon, the fastest in the small fleet their orders were to lure the Eldar off their current course and onto the guns of the slower but better armed and armoured system ships. In response the first wave of Corsairs immediately engaged them.
Twisting and spiralling through space, the Eldar craft flew directly at the oncoming formation, paying scant regard to the barrage of lascannon shots and missiles the Imperium's interceptors fired as they closed the range. Then, each turning their sleek vessels through near impossible angles, they arced back round upon the flanks of their prey; the xenos pilots obliterating most of the Imperial Navy squadrons in a synchronous attack that was as prefect in its coordinated execution as it was deadly. With the first wave devoted to destroying the remnants of the Fury squadrons of Aconite and Hellebore frigates advanced to engage the Imperium's system ships and defence monitors formation; the long elegant xenos escort ships stubbed with pulsar lances and torpedo launchers.
The Holy Retribution , one of the few system ships assigned to the Betalis fleet, was the first to suffer their attentions. Weapons battery after weapons battery was fired by the Holy Retribution guns crews; the ratings and indentured workers inside the ship preparing the next volley the instant their weapons were discharged. Then, as the ship's trajectory curved past the moon, the long range lance fire of the Watchful Saviour joined its salvos. Caught within the firestorm dozens of Corsair craft were laid to waste; their blasted remains soon drifting amongst those of the Fury interceptors that had been destroyed minutes before.
For almost an hour the battle raged. First the Corsairs edged ever closer towards the ship and in return would be caught up in its intense gunfire or trapped within the lancing beams of the Watchful Saviour. But as time wore on Eldar weapons fire took its toll upon the Holy Retribution. With insufficient Fury squadrons to protect it, the agile and powerful Eldar Darkstar fighters inflicted enough damage to overload its shield generators, and dove in to strafe its gun decks and command spire the moment they failed.
With external bulkheads compromised and the fractured metres-thick panels of armour-glass surrounding the command deck threatening to breach any moment, the Holy Retribution's commander, Flag-Captain Mevuen, gave the order for his dying vessel to be turned towards the one area of the system's outer reaches that all Imperial vessels had so far given a wide berth. Entering the region with the Corsairs still strafing his vessel, Flag-Captain Mevuen opened up the ship wide vox-network and started to recite the Common Prayer of the Fleet, the sound of the centuries old ship tearing apart clearly audible around him. The venerable flag-captain had no gotten far through his sombre liturgy when an Eldar Darkstar fighter, its alien identity not recognised by the remnants of the minefield seeded in the Betalis system centuries before by the Divine Unification, triggered one of the abandoned mines. As the power generation crystals on the Eldar craft shattered and its hull fragmented, its debris field set off further mines, critically damaging the Holy Retribution and scores of other Corsair vessels that had swarmed around the dying ship.
The explosions tore through the Holy Retribution, causing its shields to fail and its bulkheads to be ripped apart, sending thousands of Imperial Navy crewmen into the cold vacuum of space. In the few areas of the vast ship where the crew were not immediately ejected into the void, men fought amongst themselves for places in the few undamaged salvation pods. Those fortunate to escape were either immediately targeted and destroyed by Eldar Corsair vessels or slowly drifted through the system until they reached the safety if one of the inhabited planets.
Whilst the destruction of the Holy Retribution played out across the edge of the Betalis system, the rest of the Corsair fleet maintained their course towards the Watchful Saviour and the last few remaining Fury squadrons and system ships that now stood guard over it.
Virtually unopposed, the first wave of Darkstars scored multiplem direct hits, their shots punching through its shields and critically damaging the platform's gravitic-stabilisers. With a sickening motion, the massive platform began to list, and anything no securely fixed down began to roll and slide across the decks, crushing all in its way as the Watchful Saviour tilted and began to drift out of its geo-stationary orbit.
The effects were devastating. Gun crews and ratings were drowned as the huge vats of chemicals that hung over the defence lasers, their toxic contents used to prevent the weapons from overheating, broke free from their mounthings, engulfing the frantically fleeing men in an acidic tidal wave. In the apothecarium, the Watchful Saviour's surgeon-master was near-fatally maimed when shelves storing surgical implements tipped over him mid-operation, their razor-sharp blades slicing him from head to toea with scores of incisions. A worse fate though was to befall the crews who worked in the bays permanently exposed to the outer void. As soon as the Watchful Saviour had begun to list, the bulkhead doors leading to the open sections of the platform automatically sealed shut. With their escape routes cut off, hundreds died when the protective energy field between the crew and space fluctuated for a few seconds, exposing them to the intense radiation of the Betalis system's star.
Volleys from a third Corsair wave finished off the stricken platform, its return fire slackening as pyres raged within it and its compartmetns flooded with toxic smoke. With defeat imminent and his guns falling silent one by one, Flag-captain Basas, the Watchful Saviour's commander, ordered the plafrom evacuation. Salvation pods were frantocally loaded with the wounded and the lucky few unscathed survivors and the ejected towards the planet below.
The few Imperial Navy ships that had survived the first assault retreated into the outer regions of the Betalis star, its radiation shielding them form the sensors of the Corsair fleet that now dominated the Betalis system.
Having won the battle for the skies above Betalis III, the Eldar immediately turned their attention to the planet below
The Battle At Alnitac Prime 0555894.M41 Edit
- "O Eternal God-Emperor; who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the warp; Who hast compassed the void with bounds until day and night come to an end; Be pleased to receive in Thy Almighty and most gracious..."
- —Last transmission of the Holy Retribution. All eight thousand and thirty-two souls consigned to the Emperor's grace at the Battle fo the Betalis System.
The first major land offensive of the Betalis III war took place at Alnitac Prime, a vast facility that refoned chem used in the production of promethium, and that stretch for over fifty kilometres across and through the Bregan Glacier. Flowing down from the Escarta mountain range at the infinitesimal speed of less than half a metre a century, the glacier, its ice marbled with the dark grey ash that constantly fell like snow from the refinery's forest of chimneys and cooling towers, loomed omniously over the eastern edge of the Alacian Plains.
The plains were little more than an icy wilderness but across them lay the entrance to the Isthmus of Tarandor, the land bridge which connected the north-easteren peninsula, and ultimately Port Ryira, to the rest of the eastern continent. The two Eldar forces, that of Alaitoc in the south of the continent and the other from Mymeara speeding eastwards from its portal near the western coast, were expected to converge on the Alacian Plains. General Odon was preparing his battle group to oppose them there, and whoever controlled the glacier would hold an advantage in the battle to come.
Dispatched in a fast moving convoy of Leman Russ, Malcador, Praetors and Crassus armoured assaults transports and taking advantage of the road networks that fed the facility's instaibel appetite for Betalis III's raw materials, Battle Group Empteda deployed on the glacier on the evening on the third day of its departure from Port Ryira. As Colonel Empteda watched over the battle group's preparations, already thousands of workers and their familiies had left their hab blocks behind and set out on the perilous trek to seek shelter elsewhere, heading either fo the northern and eastern highway tunnels or the networks of the canyons and caves in the surrounding mountains. Each man, woman and chiled knew the enemy was coming; the only question was when would it arrive?
True to form, the Eldar did not keep the defenders waiting long. In the pre-dawn hours of the fourth day, as the battle group's Sentinel forward reconnaisannce squads patrolled the southern most regions of the glacier, the came under fire from squadrons of Eldar Grav-tanks and Vyper Jetbikes that had flown ahead of the main Mymeara force, skimmng low across the Alacian Plains and up over the leading edge of the ice wall. Near invisible in the darkness, they registered as little more than faint smudges on the Sentinels' sensors as one by one the walker squadrons were annihilated; Eldar Rangers already concealed in the surrounding ice canyons expertly guided their ari-borne brethren in.
Joining the Mymeara craft shortly after, the first wave of Corsair vessels began their attack run on the facility. The battle group was ready and waiting for them though. As the Nightwings, Phoenix and Vampires soared down, they were met with a tremendous firestorm of las shot and artillery shell. What heavy armour his commmand staff could muster, but he had not sent the young colonel into battle empty handed. Prior to leaving their base on the neighbouring industrial world, the officers of the Cadian 6th had ordered their men to completely strip its resupply depots of all the guns, ordance and ammunition they could lay their hands on. Little remained by the time the final Cadian sqiad left fo the Ice World. Each ship in the fleet had been stacked to the gunnels with enough armament to defend the planet for months, and amongst this huge arsenal had been a consignment of defence platforms due to be disributed to wars elsewhere in the sector. Now, a large stretch of the glacier bristled with the barrels of those guns as they unleashed salvo upon salvo into the oncoming Eldar attack formation.
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pp.
- White Dwarf Weekly #54 (07, Feb 2015) - "Parade Ground - Masque of the Winter Sun," pp. 25-30