The Cytherian Annexation

The Escape from Herzen Ridge

The Escape from Herzen Ridge


Chaos reigned as Imperial resistance collapsed at Herzen Ridge. Command structures were decimated as officers were slain while leading units that were being torn asunder by superior Tau firepower. The men of Catachan remained courageous, but the devastation wrought by an enemy enjoying conditions so favorable to their tactics and technology simply unraveled any Imperial opposition. As the surviving line officers and sergeants realized that there no longer were commanders alive to give the order to fall back, it fell to them to organize some sort of escape.

Such a wild, piecemeal retreat would have probably resulted in the slaughter of every guardsmen were in not for the heroic actions of Captain ‘Anvil’ McAfferty of the Lurking Cobras. Sensing what was happening around him, he managed to organize those surviving squads he could still reach in a suicidal rearguard action. Approximately 70 Catachan guardsmen from third company, XXVI Regiment rallied around the ‘Anvil’ and defiantly poured fire into Tau aggressors while their fellows made good their escape. None of those taking part in the rearguard survived what would be reverently be referred to as “the last laugh of the third” by those who survived the battle.

Amongst those who made their escape due to the Anvil’s heroics, were several guardsmen from Bravo platoon, 4th company of the same regiment. A particularly intelligent and far-sighted officer, Lt. ‘Winter’ Drake, convinced his platoon’s assigned Commissar Zathial Garr that the best course of action was to honor the Anvil’s sacrifice and fall back. Their Emperor had given them a mission, and only by regrouping in the jungle could the survivors re-organize themselves and carry on that mission. “The Tau invaders would not release their hold on Cytheria with all the Emperor’s guardsmen dead”.

The escape had still been a harrowing affair, and most of the survivors were cut off from each other as they were chased under fire deep into the Cytherian jungles. During the rout, Lt. Drake linked up with ‘Crazy Legs’ Mitchell, a Sentinel pilot from the mechanized recon company that had been cut off from the rest of his squadron. At one point their cause seemed lost, however; as a pack of Kroot sprung an ambush on the harried platoon. The Catachan were crafty, but in their current state Bravo platoon was so exposed the Kroot would have cut them down to a man were it not for the timely intervention of Nolavich Tassk – Primaris Psyker attached to the (now deceased) Black Vipers command group.

Hungry for the kill, the Kroot had in turn been taken by surprise by the psyker. A lighting storm of witchcraft tore into the feral xenos, turning the tables and allowing Bravo platoon to push through.

Bravo platoon kept traveling as deep into the jungles of Cytheria as they could, knowing the dense, dangerous foliage would be their best protection from Tau pursuit groups. Knowing the technologically superior xenos would use vox traffic against them, Lt. Drake ordered total radio silence and set about working out a plan to get in touch with other survivors of Herzen Ridge.

Although the 97th had been all but wiped out earlier in the invasion, the other regiments should all be represented by survivors who had made it to the jungles – and the 56th should even have many deep jungle operations centers set up beyond the reach of Tau forces.

The Catachan had taken a licking following the desperate commands of the Priesthood, but as long as there were survivors the war wasn’t over. Not only were there many Catachan alive, but the were now in their element. The war had simply entered its next phase, a guerrilla warfare phase of survival, evasion, resistance and consolidation.

Journal Entry 1


I have reflected much on this word lately; its significance, what it means to be branded a traitor, and whether or not the title justly applies to me. Have my decisions and actions made me a traitor to my kin, to my superiors? Has my course betrayed His will? Have I betrayed my Lord, the God-Emperor?

These are dark reflections and I know my thoughts should not linger upon them. My regiment was ordered to make a foolish last stand at Herzen Ridge and I disobeyed that order. The priesthood were in a state of panic, their research facility was as good as lost already. So I decided to keep my regiment alive.

I alone amongst six regimental commanders made that decision. I alone ordered my regiment to push deeper into the jungle while others accepted their fate – their command – and stood in defense of the priesthood’s facility. My regiment alone survives.

I am not burdened by guilt. Had the Sidewinders stood amongst the other regiments at Herzon Ridge, we would have been routed with the rest of them. The superiority of the xenos’ firepower on an open battlefield was overwhelming.

Perhaps the priesthood hoped for a miracle, seeing no use in us anyway if their facility was lost? It matters not, for I have a different view. I believe the death of man’s enemies is a far worthier cause than giving up our lives for a shrine of knowledge that was doomed regardless. And so I refused the sacrifice of my regiment in favor of bleeding the invaders. After what I witnessed, after my vision, I don’t believe I really had a choice.

The Battle of Herzen Ridge is history now. It unfolded precisely as expected. The remnants of the five Catachan regiments were routed and the facility was overrun. Survivors fell back towards the jungle in the south, but they were disorganized and desperate, continuously harried by xenos hunter patrols. I estimate losses at 85-90%. Those that still live, however; have made it to the jungle. That has changed the situation.

I know I must deny myself these dark reflections of loyalty and betrayal. I must maintain a tight grip on my faith and stay the course of my decision. I must focus my being on bleeding these foul xenos. My mission, the mission I fervently believe is the will of my Emperor, is to make these hated Tau regret ever hearing about this world.

I will make it their hell.

First I will gather what survivors I can. Those who made it to the jungles must be found, protected, and integrated into the 56th. I must consolidate our forces here, in the deepest reaches of the jungle, where the weakling Tau cannot hope to come and survive.

Furthermore, I must sting their hunter-patrols, those who pursue my brothers. I must make the xenos fear the jungle.

Once consolidated, we can take the fight to the Tau. I might not have the resources to drive them from this planet, but I have time. And in time we’ll suffer any pain to make them hate this place as they hate the deepest, darkest hells of their own foul myths.

This is how I will prove my devotion to the God-Emperor. This is how I will enact my loyalty to Him. This will be my vindication and penance for disobeying orders and leaving my brother regiments to die.

Colonel Gareth “Blackback” Young
Catachan LVI Sidewinders

Journal Entry 2

Our offensive has begun.

We picked up a vox signal station Dog-88. Lieutenant “Jack Knife” Garrath is leading a band of remnants, mostly troopers of the 26th and 51th it seems. When he came across the Dog-88 he risked a single burst of data calling any Catachan recipients to a rally point.

“Jack Knife” encoded the position, but if the Tau picked up and translated the transmission their air cover will be able to cover enough ground to make detection a very possible threat. If there is going to be any survivors left to rally we must act now and bring these boys home. Dog-88 is just at the northeastern boarder of the Centralian jungles, so we can assume the majority of survivors are now making their way out of the plains and into the bush. That’s jungle territory – our territory.

I ordered several flights of Valkyries and Vendettas to head north-northeast up the broad Lucitian valley. The plan was for the formation to break at grid 432.81/248.12 so that the smaller wing formations could swiftly get in, provide air cover, and facilitate the escape of surviving forces. We do not have enough aircraft to evacuate more than the most critical of personnel, but I’m counting on the fact that given hope and a rally point the surviving jungle fighters will fade into the bush and make it back here.

The Tau did intercept up the signal, and managed to pick up the position of Jack Knife’s force. By the time Bravo and Delta wings had reached their position, the remnants were engaged with a sizable patrol of xeno battlesuits and skimmer tanks. The Emperor was with our pilots, however; their surprise attack pushed the Tau back momentarily. This allowed Sergeant “Knock” Jackson to make contact with Jack Knife and brief him on the situation.

Some of Knock’s men, all veteran drop troopers of Gemma Company, volunteered to lead Jack Knife’s force on foot in order to make room for the wounded. Accompanying the wounded, to my surprise; was Lord Commissar Thorgar H. Ghest. I praise the Emperor’s gracy for his survival, but I must confess I am less enthused about his imminent company. Explaining my actions to a Lord of the Commissariat will be… challenging. However, for the moment I must simply ensure the continuation of this operation – I’ll have to make sure the good Commissar sees the wisdom of favoring a post-war court martial over a summary battlefield execution.

Colonel Gareth “Blackback” Young
Catachan LVI Sidewinders

Journal Entry 3

The ball is rolling.

The first stage of our campaign is a success. We’ve managed to make contact with two ad hoc formations of survivors and directed their escape, our birds faring well against an enemy that seems surprised at our airborne resources. However, during their flight back several pilots reported seeing Tau elements moving in on Jionairo. A couple pilots risked a closer look and picked up short.range vox transmissions from friendlies down in the ruined city.

Jionairo is a hell-hole, an overgrown ruin of a city that used to be frequently visited for aggressive training maneuvers. It doesn’t surprise me that other survivors might have rallied in that nightmare. Good Catachan thinking: If it is bad for us, imagine what it’s like for the enemy?

However, the blueys don’t seem to be taking any chances of this. The forces spotted spoke of overwhelming firepower. I can only conclude that the Tau mean to encircle and level the place.

Time is short, and if we are to offer any hope for the survivors holed up in Jionairos I need to get a flight up there as soon as possible. It is frustrating to know that we have more than enough aircraft, there are hundred of them mothballed in the underground storage facility here. The limitation is pilots, and more critically the number of Mechanicus priests present to awaken their machine spirits and prepare them for battle. I have attempted to convey my sense of urgency to Frer Xacarph – the priest in charge – but his response leads me to believe that there is nothing to be gained by repeating myself. That situation is in the hands of the Emperor and his techpriests.

The first few wings have been refuelled, refitted, and directed back to Jionairos. My orders are to hit the Tau hard, disrupt their movements, and allow the survivors time to fall back further into the jungle. I have a feeling the battle of Jionairos will be a pivotal part of this phase of the war.

Colonel Gareth “Blackback” Young
Catachan LVI Sidewinders

Journal Entry 3

(The Battle of Jionairos)

Colonel Gareth “Blackback” Young
Catachan LVI Sidewinders

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.


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