Charlie: Today we have a guest post from Tom, the other player in the Samalut IX campaign. I understand he will also be posting in the comments section with his out-of-character thoughts on the campaign. If you enjoyed Jeff's after-action report from the Blood Angels, this is a chance to see things from the perspective of the Raven Guard. Commencing inter-legion bants in 5... 4... 3... 2...
+++TRANSMITTED: Salamut IX; Achernar Sector
+++RECEIVED: Deliverance; Segmentum Tempestus.
+++TELEPATHIC DUCT: Adept Mae Zerbe; Sable Sword
+++REF: RGV/ 4e978830e745
+++AUTHOR: Captain of the 5th Aremis Yiraka; Master of the Marches.
+++DESTINATION: Kayvaan Shrike; Master of Shadows; Chapter Master of the Raven Guard.
+++SUBJECT: Summary of learnings, Salamut IX intervention.
The Sable Sword is currently en-route to Deliverance for a major refit as we have taken heavy damage. The hull damage is only a minor inconvenience, but without a functioning void shield generator we are unable to project the Reflex Shield and thus intolerably vulnerable. A full report will follow upon our arrival but I felt it prudent to send a brief summary of our learnings from our intervention on Salamut IX.
Salamut IX is an important agri-world in the Handrothian Cluster of the Achernar Sector, so when we received word that Salamut IX was under attack and needed assistance to hold out until Imperial Navy and Imperial Guard reinforcements could arrive, we made all speed to assist. Along the way we learned that the 3rd Company of the Blood Angles Chapter were also responding. Since they have a reputation for propriety, I deemed it best to announce our presence in advance to prevent some foolish upset were they to discover us later on.
>>ATTACHED PLANETARY DATA DOWNLOAD: Samalut IX<<>>PROCESSING<<
As we entered the system together, with system status and enemy disposition still unknown, the Blood Angels’ ship Sabre of Baal lit its beacons and announced its presence on a broad spectrum transmission. This kind of behaviour I soon leaned would be typical of the Blood Angels. We engaged Reflex Shields and dropped back to counter-attack whatever forced the Sabre drew upon itself.
Fortunately for the Blood Angels we faced Orks, and we detected the five capital ships and numerous escorts long before they detected us. The Sabre of Baal rapidly shut off its beacons and dropped into low emission mode. My initial appraisal of my ally therefore was that whilst they lacked caution, at least they were not entirely lacking in sense.
It was only when we started to plan groundside operations together that I learned that the 3rd company were operating entirely without scouts. This at least explained their eagerness to communicate with the local Imperial forces, since without the ability to deploy scouts (or the skills to infiltrate the local datanet) they were entirely unable to gather intel on their own. Curiously the Blood Angels claim to follow the Codex Astartes, or at the very least adhere to it far more closely than we do ourselves, and yet this would seem to be a contravention against its rules.
Fortunately the 5th Company is well named as The Watchful and we brought 35 scouts, equipped with Land Speeders for transport and led by Veteran Sergeant Khira. When the Blood Angels learned that the Governor was a captive of the Orks, I was unconvinced as to the value of her rescue, however Captain Machiavi was insistent that it would help moral planet-wide and buy us goodwill. I therefore had Veteran Sergeant Khira lead a mission to locate and rescue the Governor; this proceeded without incident.
|Strategium display: Raven Guard infiltration units assigned to Tarno; other|
units assigned to retake auspex relays 33 and 34.
|Raven Guard scouts (bottom left) approaching the hab-block where Governor Singe|
was being held captive.
The Blood Angels also seemed to struggle with the implementation of hit and run missions. They offered to assist in a raid on Ork-held imperial artillery around the besieged city of Tarno, but they were unable to infiltrate any units forward in advance for a surprise blow. Once the mission was completed, with a far stronger Ork resistance than anticipated, they simply fled the field of battle with no rearguard. We took heavy fire, and the Stormeagle Kutcha was shot down protecting the retreat. The Blood Angels did at least divert their Land Raider to collect our downed pilot and passengers. Techmarine Jadyr later led a mission to retrieve the Kutcha and had her flying combat missions again before the campaign was concluded.
|The Kutcha picks up Squad Maun following a successful raid on captured basilisk|
|...and is then shot down moments later by pursuing orks.|
Despite a lack of tactical nuance, the fighting prowess and bravery of the Blood Angels cannot be questioned. When we send the Damocles to coordinate an orbital strike upon an Ork army heading towards the city of Bacca the Blood Angels volunteered some of their Predators to act as bodyguard, and further agreed to hold station to gain a second shot in full knowledge that the entire formation was likely to be wiped out. In the end both predators were destroyed, although the crew managed to escape on board the Damocles.
Whilst Brother Solaro was smart enough not to mention it to the Blood Angles at the time, he later noted that the Orks seemed to be particularly attracted to the bright red tanks with big guns and completely overlooked his (ultimately far more dangerous) Damocles. During the escape the Blood Angel drivers also tinkered with his engines to gain more speed, and upon later inspection Techmarine Jadyr revealed that the infamous Lucifer pattern engines of the Baal predator may be nothing more than a deliberate gimmicking of the safety limiters on the engine overdrive function.
|Raven Guard aircraft and Blood Angel tanks hold off waves of ork speed freaks|
while the Damocles provides targeting data for strike cruisers in orbit.
Of course bravery must be tempered. Whilst the five Vanguard marines charging across the field of battle towards the Ork lines was indeed heroic and noble, the fact that four out of five were casualties by the end of the battle is telling of the worth of such endeavours. Nevertheless, I have highlighted here the moments where their heroism seemed to be more rash than rational, and for balance I must add that the Blood Angels have proven themselves to be honourable to a fault and peerless warriors. I am told by those who witnessed it that Captain Machiavi taking on the xenos warlord and its retinue with his thunder hammer was a sight to behold.
As noted above, Captain Machiavi insisted on communicating and coordinating with the local Imperial forces. Personally I felt there was nothing to be gained from such a manoeuvre, and nothing that happened on Salamut IX has changed my opinion. The locals had very poor intel when we arrived, and their datanet was sloppy so what little information they had was ours for the taking.
Even after rescuing the Governor, which I was assured would buy us goodwill from the inhabitants, the local commander Lord General Nayeli refused our request to divert troops to better defend her planet. Indeed it seems she had been so afraid of losing men that she had not even scouted the strength of the Ork forced that were bottling her up in Apis.
Further, when we did manage to get PDF forces redeployed to garrison the Auspex Relay stations that we had recovered for them, they did not take our warnings about Ork Kommandoes seriously and the troops were subsequently wiped out to a man. Once the relay stations were retaken yet again, further troops were more willing to listen to the advice of my Scouts who I sent to teach them basic concepts such as cutting down the trees to clear line of sight on the approach and other basic military strategy.
Whilst the local Imperial forces were somewhat wanting, I cannot fault the actions of the Imperial Navy reinforcements led by Vice Admiral Ortano. His arrival in-system was most timely and we immediately requested his aid in clearing out the Ork fleet, as it appeared that a bombardment of the capital Sathis was imminent. With his greater experience in direct naval combat I attached the Sable Sword to his command, as Captain Machiavi did likewise with the Sabre of Baal. Under his command the Sword took a fair amount of damage but he succeeded in destroying or driving off a numerically superior enemy fleet in a difficult situation.
|Vice Admiral Ortano's flotilla approaches the ork fleet bombarding Sathis.|
The motivation of the Orks on Salamut IX is still unclear. An agri-world is not a typical target for an Ork invasion, with little in the way of enemies to fight or resources to capture. Further we seem to have discovered a new kind of Ork, or rather a combination of two known types. The stealthy Kommandos combined with the rocket-pack bearing Stormboys combined into units we dubbed the StormKommandos. Discovering a highly mobile yet stealthy warband of elite Orks was like looking into some perverse twisted mirror of the Raven Guard.
Whilst they were first reported to us by the Blood Angels, once we learned about them I made it a personal mission to eliminate them. In the final defence of Tarno I personally led The Unkindness in a decapitation strike, deploying from Thunderhawk to counter-attack their ambush upon the right flank. The leader, apparently named “Bozzgit Kawsmash” I killed myself.
Four days into the campaign my scouts investigated reports of some wildlife wiping out a town. Whilst wildlife attacks would normally be a local issue of no bearing on the campaign, my concern was that it was some form of squiggoth. The reality was much worse. The scouts’ report clearly indicated some form of malefic entity. Captain Machiavi and I agreed and gathered all of our Terminators and both of our librarians for a teleport strike, and I deployed a Stormhawk Interceptor to find it and coordinate the teleport strike.
The entity was powerful. After calling in the location, Stormhawk Fechín only made a single pass as the creature was airborne. The creature received a full volley of ordinance and still nearly smashed the Fechín out of the air. Nevertheless the strike force, led by our Librarian Nironen and Blood Angel Librarian Gabriel was successful. Before it was banished completely, Nironen learned the creature’s name was “Baraqiel”. Nironen has further intelligence upon this creature but that will be compiled in a separate report to the Librarius.
During this battle Librarian Gabriel was extremely badly wounded and subjected to a mental assault. With the permission and support of Blood Angel Apothecary Israfael, Nironen did a deep scan of Gabriel’s soul to check for taint. Whilst he confirms that Gabriel’s soul was untainted by the malefic, the nature of Gabriel’s soul was slightly worrying. He reports a barely contained battle rage like some kind of feral beast desperate to be unleashed.
This revelation has placed some other information in a new light. The Blood Angels volunteered to retake Auspex Relay 34 alone, but when Veteran Sergeant Khira was patrolling the site later his assessment was that there were more Blood Angels deployed than were accounted for. Our current working hypothesis is that the Chapter may suffer from a much more severe variation of the Sable Brand. I believe it is in all our best interests that, if true, this does not come to light. Veteran Sergeant Khira removed all traces under the pretence of a precautionary sweep for boobytraps.
I am well satisfied with the performance of the men of the 5th. We lost four scouts and three marines; their Corvia will be returned to Kiavahr. Unfortunately all three of the Marines were from the elite Sternguard unit, Squad Maun. Sergeant Maun’s men are the best of the 5th and regularly take on the hardest assignments. In particular their stubborn defence of the right flank in the defence of Tarno when overwhelmed by Kommandos was heroic. The fact that most of the squad actually survived underneath piles of Ork corpses even after the Kommandos were purged by massed assault cannon fire elevates their actions to those of legend. Chaplain Bran has already recorded it for submission to the Chapter honours.
The scouts also performed admirably. Their intelligence gathering skills were the pride of the Chapter as they demonstrated again and again their ability to slip in an out unnoticed and recover valuable intel that neither the Blood Angels nor the PDF were capable of. They also worked well supporting and directing local resistance forces in Tarno, and coordinating the defences of the auspex relays. Finally they proved themselves in direct combat, standing shoulder to shoulder with their power-armoured brethren. I am recommending the surviving scouts of squads Aajz, Oradias, Gherith, Zeed, Koryn and Binalt be recognised as full battle brothers. Squad Syras performed acceptably but still require more battlefield experience.
|The ork vanguard approaches the astartes line in Drover Square during the last|
stages of the Battle of Tarno.
|Ork infantry and walkers advance behind the vanguard while lobbas (centre right)|
provide light artillery cover.
The Salamut IX campaign was a success, and it could not have been so without the Blood Angels. For all that I may find their methods simplistic and crude; they are very effective at what they do. The sheer stopping power of an entrenched line of tactical marines backed by tanks is quite a sight to behold, and together we held the line. For my part I look forward to being able to field more tactical squads once the scouts have been initiated, and I may even speak with the Master of the Forge to see what tanks we have available for deployment.
On the other hand I hope Captain Machiavi has seen the value of our more cautious approach to battle, and he did admit to me that he was hoping to add some scouts to his battlegroup; although I fear that may be slightly more to do with the envious looks he gave our Land Speeder Storms and their potential to rapidly deliver scouts into combat than their value in intelligence gathering. Likewise I believe he was rather taken with our aerial units and the ability to deploy the firepower of a tank wherever and whenever we like.
See you on Deliverance, or if not, good hunting Kayvaan,
P.S. Governor Singhe requested permission to raise some statues to the Raven Guard and the Blood Angels. I saw no harm in it so I acquiesced. From the tone of Captain Machiavi’s response I understand this is quite normal practice for him.