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The Fortress of Vraks, also called the Citadel, housed the headquarters of the Vraksian Planetary Defence Forces, the Master of the Administratum's offices, the great Basilica of Saint Leonis the Blind, the Cardinal's Palace and the Citadel's own garrison barracks. By the time the Imperial siege of the world began, 3 defensive lines had been constructed to the north, west and south of the Citadel by the rebel forces, with the rest of the area to the south and east defended by gorges and canyons, rendering it unsuitable for a massed attack. At the time of the uprising, work had not been completed on the outer defensive lines, providing the Death Korps' forces a target for the first strike against the Heretics' fortress when they finally arrived on the world in 812.M41.
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It had been nine years since the Siege of Vraks had begun. By now the 88th Siege Army should have been entrenched at the inner defence ring having cracked the defences of the first two rings, and it should have had the Citadel itself within the sights of their heavy artillery. But nine years of war had not gone entirely to plan. The 88th Siege Army had been forced to request more men. The success of the Dark Angels attack gave cause for new hope, and Lord Zuehkle saw the chance to redeem earlier failures with a decisive breakthrough. The addition of a new line korps with three fresh new regiments gave his commanders on the ground the extra forces they needed to mount an unstoppable offensive. Lord Zuehkle was running out of time, he had been given twelve years to complete his mission and the resources of Krieg had poured onto Vraks in vast quantities. He ordered the three new regiments, and those already in the line to plan and execute a big push, an all out offensive that applied constant and sustained pressure on the second defence lines over its full frontage. This would draw in the enemy's reserves and then destroy them under the artillery bombardment or in powerful infantry attacks. By sustaining the pressure, the enemy would eventually have to break somewhere. When they did an assault korps would be ready to pour into the gap and smash through to the inner defence line. If the breakthrough attack was fast enough they might even be able to drive into the inner defence line and establish a foothold before the enemy had a chance to dig himself in again.
The first major tactical problem the Inquisitor Lord and his newly emplaced staff had to tackle was no different from that which Marshall Kagon had already been wrestling with. One look at the strategic holo-map would show even a first year student of an officer cadet training academy that the siege could not be completed whilst the eastern flank remained wide open The encirclement of the citadel was incomplete and whilst it remained so the enemy would have an escape route. Even the capture of the Citadel might not see the war end if the enemy could withdraw to fight again another day. Also the current position meant that 30th line korps was tied down having to act as a rear guard to the 1st line korps against attack from behind. Useful regiments and guns were being tied down on the defensive.
Internal diversions within the Imperium could not stop the siege. Now Lord Rex had fewer guardsmen, tanks and shells at his disposal, but the enemy were at last showing signs of cracking. The remaining line korps were reassigned new positions along the front. The mission of taking the sector 579-459 gate was now handed to the 12th line korps, who were ordered to make one full strength regiment available for the operation. They provided the 143rd regiment, who moved into position and began the preliminary arrangements for an assault upon the curtain wall. It took time, weeks to get all the artillery into place, and even more weeks for the engineer companies to dig their sap trenches, but by 412.828.M41 the regiment was ready to begin.
The regiment chosen to be the first wave up the slopes was the 261st siege regiment, under the command of veteran Colonel Tyborc. Throughout the war Tyborc had risen through the ranks to lead the 261st On Vraks his name had become something of a legend. He had led the attack that was credited with breaking the first defence line, now some 14 years ago. His heroic efforts had seen him cut off and fighting for three days without aid. He had been wounded five times in that battle alone In the ensuing years he had risen to command of the regiment, his predecessor being killed at the frontline when an enemy mortar shell had trepanned the top of his head off - the fractured part-skull now resided in a reliquary on the regimental banner Colonel Tyborc continued to lead from the front, and had been wounded in action another four times, each time surviving - although an enemy chainsword had taken his left arm during the Kagori offensive. Still, he now had a bionic replacement and had returned to lead his regiment during the push through the curtain wall and across the battlefields that had led to the Citadel rock. Now his regiment would be committed en-masse in the first bid to capture the three main gates of the Citadel. Tyborc was summoned to the Inquisitor's command post and given his orders. He must have known what it meant instantly - the probable destruction of his regiment, but he never flinched, accepting the mission with a simple salute. Death in the cause of the Emperor was all he had ever expected, now he would get his wish.
Lord Rex knew that scouring the Citadel would take days, perhaps weeks of hard fighting. The daemons soon came again, the crackling warp rifts spilling more of their hated kind into the world to shriek and chant, leaping amongst the rubble piles, hacking and lashing with glee at the Space Marines and guardsmen. For days the battle was a confused and bloody mess, but the enemy was no longer a coordinated, well-equipped and determined army, it was now just a rabble of desperados who knew their downfall had come. There were few Traitor legionnaires left now. Most had abandoned Vraks, even Zhufor had gone, his slaughter complete.