01.40: Traitor sentries are arrayed around the critical Relay Station. Loyalists will be attacking from the west:
+++01.46 Western outskirts of Relay Station AN-09 outpost+++
The forward ground-based Pathfinder elements of Strike Force Glaive raced through the dark, heading for the target coordinates. They had been dropped in enemy territory by lone Valkyries several hours before the main drop assault would commence. Their job was locate the targets and use their tracking beacons to guide the main drop forces in the dark. The command Tauros and one squadron of recon bikers made straight for the target, approaching from the west, while a second squadron of motorcycles broke off for a flanking attack from the south. As the blinking red lights on the antennas of the Relay Station came into view, the Tauros commander switched on his tracking beacon.
"Not a moment too soon," he thought as he heard the distant approach of Valkyries.
It had been difficult to reach the site. AA fire had forced his Sky Talon to drop him farther out than planned and avoiding Traitor patrols had taken time. Now that the first Valkyries were screaming by overhead and making their drops, he flipped his headlights on and gunned his engine toward the tower. At this signal, the bikers on his right did the same and their engines roared as they headed for the southern bunker. The Tauros tried to spot the enemy sentries in order to assist with the drop assault, but they could not see a thing in the blackness around the Relay Station outpost.
The Tauros leads two squads of recon bikers to find the target and mark the drop site in the dark:
+++01.49 Outpost North Bunker+++
In accordance with standard Xhorik drop troop combat protocol, the first units dropped into a hot combat zone are Tarantula sentry guns to secure the drop zone before the men arrive. A lascannon team landed right next to the northern bunker. The mechanical legs unfolded and the targetters immediately locked onto a nearby Leman Russ Vanquisher. The weapons automatically started firing and damaged the Traitor battle tank, the las weapons creating a blind flash in the darkness of the outpost.
A lascannon Tarantula team strikes a Traitor tank at the relay station outpost:
At the same time, a heavy bolter team dropped to the east of the relay station and began firing into the grenadier sentries.
Even the utter darkness, the Tarantula targeting arrays spot the Traitors and the guns open fire:
01.50: Xhorik recon elements approach from the west. Tarantula sentry guns drop into action, revealing the locations of several Traitor units:
+++01.52 Relay Station AN-09+++
While the heavy bolter Tarantulas were following their programmed logic to fire upon the nearby infantry, the mass of a Traitor Leman Russ Demolisher was crawling up from their flank. At this close range, even the darkness could not prevent the gunner from landing a shot right in the midst of the weapons platforms, destroying one and damaging another. The damaged sentry gun was finished off by the Grenadiers of Squad Beta.
A Demolisher Cannon shell lights up the night and destroys a Drop Tarantula:
+++01.55 South Bunker+++
On the other side of the outpost, the Traitor guards had become aware of the motorcycle squadron approaching behind the cover of the southern bunker. One of the Leman Russ tanks engaged its idling engines with a roar of black smoke and rolled south to cut off their attempted flanking attack. Despite the speed and evasive riding of the bikers, the explosive radius of the battle cannon was large enough to ensure one motorcycle was destroyed.
A militia battle tank fires into approaching recon bikers, destroying one:
With explosions erupting all around the outpost, the Commander of the Traitor garrison force makes a vox call for reinforcements.
01.55: Traitor armor mobilizes and begins firing into the attackers:
++01.58 Relay Station AN-09++
As the Valkyries of the reinforced 2nd platoon race to the drop site, heavy AA fire forces several of the transports off their planned route in order to avoid taking too much flak. The closely synchronized nature of the attack starts to fall apart as the Valkyries are forced to spread out. The elite Stormtrooper Valkyrie heads straight through the incoming fire, relying on the skill of their veteran pilot to make it through. Arriving at the drop site on time, they found they were alone. But they had a mission to accomplish and made their jump, landing just south of the objective. They landed near a surprised squad of Traitor Grenadiers along with an officer. The Stormtroopers of the 501st immediately opened fire, inflicting several casualties, although the Traitors' Protectron medical robot was able to patch up several wounded Grenadiers and get them back in the fight.
Stormtroopers of the 501st make a precision drop and attack traitor militia grenadiers with superheated plasma.
++01.59 Relay Station AN-09++
The only other Xhorik forces to arrive are a second squadron of Recon bikers, as part of the flanking attack from the south. Both squadrons of bikers attack the Traitor Leman Russ holding that side of the outpost with demo charges and breacher charges, managing to inflict enough damage to shake the concentration of the crew.
++01.59 North Bunker++
Meanwhile, at the north end of the outpost, the lascannon Tarantula team continues its automated firing protocol and destroys the Traitor Leman Russ Vanquisher, turning the battle tank into a smoking wreck.
A Traitor Vanquisher battle tank burns as advance elements of the drop force encircle the objective:
02.00: The Stormtroopers arrive at the objective alone and attack the Traitor Grenadiers. Tarantula guns destroy a Vanquisher tank while recon bikers harass the southern flank:
++02.01 North Bunker++
Preceded by a monstrous clanking rumble, a Malcador heavy battle tank crawls out of the darkness surrounding the outpost, drawn to the flashes of light erupting around the Relay Station. The steel behemoth immediately opens fire on the Tarantula sentry guns from point blank range, blowing two of them into a cloud of debris that lights up the night in a fiery burst.
Traitor reserves arrive from the north and two Tarantulas are destroyed, neutralizing their anti-tank capabilities:
++02.03 Relay Station AN-09++
Quickly recovering from the initial shock of the Stormtrooper attack, the Traitor commander orders both squads to inject their combat drugs, making them nearly fearless. They launch a viscous counter attack on the Stormtroopers of the 501st, bathing the entire unit in waves of noxious chemical flames. As the elite Loyalist commandos were struggling under the torrent of fire, two salvos of lasgun fire from the Grenadiers finished them off. The pile of corpses continued to smolder and burn in the darkness.
Led by their commander, Traitor grenadiers launch a fierce counterattack against the Stormtroopers of the 501st. Their flamers are particularly deadly against the closely-packed Loyalists:
02.05: The Traitor Malcador enters from the north, punishing the Tarantulas as the Grenadiers clear the area around the Relay Station of the first wave of drop troopers.
++02.08 Relay Station AN-09++
To the relief of the recon ground forces, the bulk of the drop forces of Strike Force Glaive finally arrived, although ten minutes later than scheduled. They make their combat drops mostly along the northern edge of the outpost where there appears to be a clear path to the Relay Station. Half of melta stick is dropped to the south in an attempt to neutralize the Leman Russ battle tank there. The Drop Sentinels are tasked with destroying the Leman Russ Demolisher and managed to land in a flanking position and damage it slightly with their multimeltas.
With the crew of the southernmost Leman Russ distracted by the damage from the breacher charge, the two units of Xhorik recon bikers took advantage of the opening to race past the tank and engage the Grenadiers around the objective. Both squadrons charged into the fray, lasguns blazing. As they approach in the darkness, one biker inadvertently rides over a Traitor landmine and the explosion tears the bike apart in a slew of frag. The bikers then engage the Grenadiers in a vicious melee.
In a hard-fought melee between the bikers and the Grenadiers, the Traitor Commander kills the lead biker with a white-hot blast of plasma from his pistol. :
02.10: The 2nd platoon finally arrives, dropping mostly along the northern side of the outpost:
++02.11 South Bunker++
With an entire platoon of drop troopers arriving and heading for the Relay Station, things suddenly looked desperate for the Traitor sentry force. They needed to quickly clear the area of attackers.
The Leman Russ battle tank at the southern edge of the outpost backed away from the meltagun squad that had been attacking it and fired its battle cannon into their midst. When the smoke cleared only a single trooper out of the six remained uninjured and able to continue the fight.
++02.12 North Bunker and North Hills++
On the north side of the outpost, the mighty Malcador turned its attention away from the Tarantulas and toward the drop trooper infantry that was now threatening to overwhelm the vulnerable Relay Station. A salvo heavy weapons fire crippled 1st Infantry Squad, but the few remaining soldiers held their nerve and refused to fall back. The Leman Russ Demolisher crew was unable to muster an effective counterattack against the drop Sentinels as they were mostly busy putting out fires and engaging auxiliary power systems due to the damage from the multimelta hit.
++02.14 Relay Station AN-09++
The Traitor commander knew he had to protect the tower at all costs. Over the din of the ongoing melee, he ordered his unengaged Grenadiers of Squad Beta to the eastern side of the tower to help attack the 1st Infantry Squad that had landed almost on top of the Relay Station and was close enough to start planting demo charges. He and his men of Squad Alpha then injected a massive dose of their combat chems and surged over the Xhorik bikers like madmen, ripping several from their bikes and stabbing them repeatedly with bayonets as they lay on the ground. The surviving bikers desperately tried to turn their bikes to flee the crazed Traitors. In the confusion, the White Bolt squadron was swarmed and destroyed while the Black Bolt squadron managed to flee the deadly melee.
02.15: The Traitors counterattack the newly-arriving drop troopers and win the melee in the center:
++02.17 South Hill++
The last transport finally arrived over the battlefield and Captain Xhaer and his command squad made their drop. They landed in a clearing to the south of the Relay Station near a small hill. Xhaer knew his men had to act fast to complete their objective before massed Traitor reinforcements arrived. The delay in reaching the drop zone had disrupted their coordinated attack and cost them precious time.
At the sight of their commander dropping in nearby, the recon bikers of the Black Bolt squadron regained their discipline and regrouped in preparation to support the final push on the central tower.
++02.18 Relay Station AN-09++
Xhaer ordered all units to assault the central objective while the Sentinels engaged the tanks. The 2nd Infantry Squad made a short drop as their Valkyrie slowed down to hover near the Relay Station. It lit up the area with its searchlight while the door gunners rained down heavy bolter fire into the Traitor Grenadier Squad Beta on the near side of the tower. Many Traitors fought on despite taking horrendous injuries that would kill a man, thanks to constant medical work from their Protectron and massive amounts of painkillers. Their resilience forced all all the nearby infantry squads to focus their fire on Squad Beta as well until the Traitor unit was finally wiped out. Although their refusal to die easily prevented most of the Loyalists from reaching the Relay Station.
Sensing his opening, Lieutenant Tarvar ordered his small platoon command squad to run for the tower. They scrambled up the rocks and through the gap held by the remnants of 1st Infantry Squad on one side and the Tauros on the other. Despite the distance and the hard climb, the men's training had paid off; they reached the Relay Station and prepared to set their explosives. They were the first to arrive and could accomplish the mission if they could just hold out long enough.
The Valkyrie floods the battlefield with light from its searchlight as Xhorik infantry attack the Traitor Grenadiers.:
02:20: The Loyalists surround and destroy Traitor Grenadier Squad Beta while the platoon command squad reaches the Relay Station and prepares to destroy it:
++02.23 Relay Station AN-09++
Seeing the Loyalist forces reach the Relay Station, the Traitor Commander gritted his teeth in anger and fear. He knew that if he failed in his duty to protect the tower, his fate at the hands of his superiors would not be pleasant. He sent a direct order to the crew of the Malcador that all fire be concentrated on the platoon command squad. "Bring them down!" he barked.
The tank crew responded by landing a battle cannon shell right in the midst of the squad, killing or maiming them all, leaving their explosive charges un-set and thereby preventing the destruction of the Relay Station.
For Lieutenant Tarvar, everything went black...
The Malcador destroys the platoon command squad with its battle cannon, saving the Relay Station, at least for now:
++02.23 Relay Station AN-09++
The Commander then turned his men's attention to the Tauros assault vehicle that had been attacking them with grenades. Plasma fire from the plasma gunner and his own plasma pistol combined to turn the lightly-armored vehicle into a heap of smoldering slag.
02.25: The situation is desperate for the Traitor garrison but they manage to destroy the platoon command squad before they can set their charges:
++02.26 Northern Hills++
The battle between the Sentinels and the Leman Russ Demolisher came to a climax when a multimelta blast penetrated the front armor of the tank and started a chain reaction of explosions, eventually engulfing the tank in a massive eruption.
One drop sentinel lights up the Traitor Demolisher with its searchlight and the other scores a direct hit with its multi-melta, obliterating the tank in a massive explosion as a Valkyrie screams past overhead:
++02.29 Relay Station AN-09++
Captain Xhaer instructed his vox operator to give the order for all units to advance on the Relay Station. The remaining recon bikers open up their throttles and charge into Grenadier Squad Alpha and the Traitor Commander. Their task is to tie them up so they cannot defend the tower. All remaining squads of second platoon charged up the central hill to the Relay Station.
As the Valkyrie lights up the area, the 2nd platoon infantry charge up to the Relay Station from all directions and prepare to plant their demolitions:
02.30: Loyalist forces assault the Relay Station in an attempt to set the demolitions:
++02.32 Relay Station AN-09++
In a final effort to stop the Loyalists from accomplishing their mission, the remaining two Traitor battle tanks pound the drop troopers with a salvo from their battle cannons. The drop troopers were closely packed together as they worked to rig the charges and the blasts were devastating. Two entire squads were taken out of action with all members badly wounded or killed outright.
But when the smoke cleared, a handful of shaken and temporarily-deafened drop troopers still stood and continued their task.
In furious rage, the Traitor Commander cuts down one of the recon bikers his unit is engaged with. He knows he cannot stop the Loyalists now.
Xhorik infantry is caught in a cross-fire between two battle cannons that takes 14 men out of action:
02.35: Traitor battle tanks pour fire into the drop troopers and kill many, but survivors emerge from the smoke, determined to fulfill their mission.:
++02.36 Relay Station AN-09++
Captain Xhaer stumbled forward, his ears bleeding and his vision swimming. At the last second, one of his men had shoved him down and thrown himself on top of him, shielding him from the worst of the shrapnel. When the explosion subsided, he had rolled the dead man's bleeding body off of himself and struggled to his feet. All around him where the bodies of his men, torn apart from the blast. He tried to clear his vision and ignore the ringing in his ears and keep his focus on the mission. He saw a handful of men left standing in the area between the two massive blasts. With a shout, he called them back to their senses and they finished installing their explosive charges.
The surviving drop troopers then dove for cover as the detonation began.
The surviving Xhorik drop troopers detonate their charges on the objective:
For a moment, the darkness of night is replaced by a light brighter than the sun as Relay Station AN-09 erupts in a blinding flash:
02.40: Infantry of the Xhorik 87th 3rd company, 2nd platoon plant their demolition charges on the Relay Station and destroy it, accomplishing their mission objective: