Exemplary Battle third draft.
It's a bit long. The pre-existing exemp is a little short so it balances out a bit buy I might cut out a bit of the pre-battle stuff. Not sure about numbers or timespan.
The Salvation of Vendris
The Vendrisan Confederation was a minor human civilization that had begun to sprout in the latter days of the Age of Strife. Its cities stood tall and hosted a refined culture even as wary sentries stood guard upon its boundaries. Like many such civilizations it would come into the fold of the Great Crusade willingly. Unlike most it would be its ships that came across Imperial worlds first and in desperate search of aid.
The Burners of Halderoth were named after the first world the Vendrisans recorded them as having destroyed. Since then they had cut a swathe across the Confederation's territory. Their terrible war machines and genetically twisted warriors tore through all resistance and razed every city and settlement before them. For all their societal sophistication the Vendrisans were near helpless. As it became clear that the war as it stood could only end one way, courier ships were flung forth from the border furthest from the xenos incursion to seek any form of help that they could find. It was an act of desperation, but a successful one.
Detailed analysis of the limited information brought by the courier vessels identified both the Vendrisan holdings as an asset to the Crusade and the Burners of Halderoth a viable threat should they continue their rampage unopposed. The forces required to eradicate the Xenos empire entirely were not immediately available, according to the best estimations based on the data provided, but if the Vendrisans could be reinforced their remaining worlds could serve both as a buffer between the Xenos and the Imperium and as staging ground for later xenocides. To this end a significant taskforce of the Imperialis Armada and the Imperial Army were drawn from surrounding garrisons and nearby fleets. From further afield came the Fire Keepers tribe of Intarabus; more than eighteen thousand Astartes from a Legion specialized in siege craft. Leading them was Chief Captain Hadzor at the appointment of Niklaas himself.
By the time the taskforce had mustered, set out and arrived in Vendrisan space the situation had only worsened. The beleaguered confederation had lost two thirds of its territory and only a belated rearguard action stood between the xenos horde and the capital planet of Vendris itself. This was where the Tenth determined that they would make their stand. Seeing their only hope of salvation, let alone victory, the Vendrisans were eager to oblige the ceramite clad giants at the head of the reinforcing fleet.
Often it is in the heat of battle that the Astartes are most lauded, where their full war-sculpted nature comes to the fore. It would however be negligent to focus solely upon the battle itself when it was as much the preparations the Fire Keepers made beforehand that carried the day. Once the main body of the relief force had been deposited upon the planetary surface the bulk of the fleet was dispatched to the faltering rearguard actions in the Aventi system. They were under orders to slow the enemy advance and cover the extraction of veteran units fighting running battles across the wastelands, preferably whilst avoiding heavy casualties themselves. Meanwhile, Hadzor was overseeing mass fortification upon Vendris itself. Outlying and ill defended outposts were abandoned and their locations marked for later bombardments. Cities and vital facilities became fortresses girded by the flattened zones of killing grounds. Where feasible such enclaves were made as self sufficient as possible. Where not their supply lines became bastions in their own right. Vendris would become a fortress.
Under the Chief Captain’s authority resources were stripped from the well trained but unblooded troops of the planetary army and were re-allocated to newly formed units conglomerated from the survivors of colonies now in ashes. These veterans knew the foe best. Survivors who had fought in the earliest days of the wars now found themselves holding important tactical and advisory positions for the Fire Keepers. Those civilians not engaged in construction or other vital tasks were trained and armed to a lesser standard, often more in the hope of raising their morale and limiting the numbers necessary to defend them rather than through any genuine expectation that they would prove useful. Hundreds from each bastion became shell loaders for artillery or the like.
Despite this it was the accompanying Imperial Army regiments that the Tenth would rely upon the most, for they had greater discipline and experience than the local forces and greater numbers than their offworld kin. The vast majority were ensconced firmly in fortifications that they had helped to build, readying themselves for a brutal war of attrition over an indeterminate time period. A smaller number - shock troops, mechanised and armoured detachments all - became what were in essence strategic flying squads to reinforce where needed and seize opportunities to sally forth against the enemy. All of this at Tribe Intarabus’ behest.
The Legionaries themselves were dispersed across the planetary defense network. To the natives the iconography upon their hulking forms represented the flames of hope and their eventual triumph. Workers redoubled their toils in their presence while militia found themselves emboldened. Veterans were more cynical and thought instead of the flames that had consumed their homes as xenos monstrosities tore through them. Nevertheless, the presence of the Astartes was an undeniable boon that stoked the mortal’s desire for vengeance. Out of all the mortal warriors the soldiers of the Imperial Army knew the Fire Keepers best and simply obeyed orders in the knowledge that the sons of Obsailes would hold the breach. All this preparation took place within three weeks. Upon the fourth the same blaze that claimed Halderoth fell upon Vendris.
The six months that followed held many battles, glorious victories and bitter retreats alike. At first the Xenos marauders utilised the same tactics that had brought them victory countless times before, shock assaults inflicting carnage that sent Vendrisans scampering and against which even the confederation's veterans could do little more than hinder as they fell back. This time was different. Where the Imperial Army regiments stood the line held. Where the Fire Keepers stood the natives rallied and the line first broke their aggressors then hurled them back. The records of both the Fire Keepers and the Vendrisans cover the numerous engagements of the siege extensively. For the sake of maintaining the focus of this work I will depict one of the few significant engagements that the Fire Keepers participated in a concentrated manner.
It would later be known as the sally upon the Valsen Plain. With Vendris proving a far more difficult target than anticipated the Burners of Halderoth began to set down their own structures upon the planets surface in anticipation of a drawn out siege. Early on these were entirely logistical in nature and minimal in defense, something that the Chief Captain would make them pay for. The largest of these was the Valsen Plain compound. It held significant quantaties of ammunition and formed barracks for the surrounding xenos war packs but lacked defenses anywhere near the scale of those constructed by the Fire Keepers. As soon as the Xenos' incaution was apparent a strike force was assembled from Samadaur Shock Trooper and Naskine Ferrophract regiments. The spearpoint of the operation would be the bulk of the Intarabus' heavy tanks supported by select infantry formations. With the Xenos still complacent in their superiority the attack was entirely unanticipated. While Astartes warmachines burst through the compound’s comparatively flimsy structure and Maveshalak heavy weapons specialists poured fire into clustered Xenos struggling to respond, mortal regiments swept around the facility's flanks and fullisaded any enemy that revealed itself to them. It took but a brief time for nearby detachments of the incensed Xenos to bring their own engines of destruction to bear as they launched a fierce counterattack. The Legionaries took heavy casualties holding the rubble of the cast down stucture as their supporting units withdrew. Only when the Auxilia were well adanced in their withdrawal did Hadzor signal the retreat. Even then they formed a stalwart fighting retreat. Though Astartes and mortals alike had eventually been forced to withdraw, the strike disrupted the Xenos assault in that sector for weeks. Months later and the pyres built from the corpses of the creatures slaughtered there smouldered for days as part of the victory celebrations.
When a full Imperial Expeditionary fleet finally arrived at Vendris they found the planets vital facilities preserved and their foe’s strength sapped by a war that had drawn on for longer than they were prepared for. The Imperial forces had not escaped unscathed:The Tenth’s dispersed deployment had resulted in numerous casualties and some regiments such as the 12th Odoacerian Foederati were reduced to below half strength. In places it was only the rising capabilities of the native forces as they were exposed to war that prevented yet more severe losses. Regardless, Vendris was intact. Despite sustainining injuries himself, Chief Captain Hadzor was satisfied with the outcome. The Fire Keepers of Tribe Intarabus were celebrated as heroes not merely for their strength as warriors but for their skill at siegecraft. Long after the Fire Keepers had departed to finish what they had begun on the Valsen Plain, the walls of Vendris remained manned and maintained. Such lessons proved to be the Fire Keepers' second salvation of Vendris when, decades later, these bastions stood against forces of the Insurrection.
Edited by Beren, 23 October 2018 - 06:52 PM.