Mortars fired. The bombs were landing around Y Company’s rear, causing casualties. Squads scattered to avoid the stonk, seeking cover in the rubble. The forward positions, already in cover, found their movements constrained by sporadic but effective sniper fire. Tanks that had moved up only hours before raked the likely vantage points with Heavy Bolter and Heavy Stubber fire. Troop Commanders tanks fired up their engines and joined in with las cannons. Third Battalion’s own mortars fired stonks into the buildings in front of Y Company’s position. The Battalion’s embedded Vostroyan liaison Officer managed to raise a fire mission from the Death Korps to the north, raining Thudd Gun and Heavy Mortar fire into the city beyond the Valhallan’s own light mortar stonk.
The seven or eight minutes of fire taken by Y Company resulted in thirty eight minutes of fire from various sources supporting the Valhallans.
Purple rain began to fall. Weird meteorology had begun about four months ago and steadily increased in frequency as 72AG advanced on Xyphonica. None of those involved in the ground campaign thought anything of it. However, at that moment their attention was on the stricken Devastator strategic bomber. Carrying a full load of 31.5 tonnes of unguided HE and incendiaries, the 78 tonne bomber was on its outward journey to the East of the City, but now, aflame and with two of the crew having bailed out.
In almost full view of the Valhallans, the burning bomber overflew their positions, still heading into the city, losing altitude all the while. The bomber crashed, its load detonating, two thousand four hundred meters east of Y Company, directly on their line of advance. Valhallan sub unit commanders were swift to raise their men, issuing their orders to be ready to move just before 1* General Polkovnik Komenichi, the commanding officer of 540th Kado Regiment of the Valhallan Imperial Guard, told them to. 3* General Tolstoy, 17 Korps Commander, was already talking to his other Divisional Commanders. 903 Div would advance into the gap torn by the crash. If it met significant resistance, it would halt or fall back to its prepared positions. If it found a commensurate gap in the PLA’s defences, the rest of 17 Korps would immediately redeploy in support, allowing any opportunity to be exploited.
In the space of three hours the Valhallans were beginning to dig in at the eastern extreme of the Devastation wrought by the crashed bomber. Comrade Major Puchov wryly commented to his second in command that rarely had the Imperial Navy managed something so idiomatically eponymous with one of its assets. Resistance was light, although signs that the enemy had invested a great deal in protecting this approach into the city were evident. Places not blasted by the explosion had been subject to a brief but violent firestorm, which had robbed the oxygen from confined spaces such as bunkers and their interconnecting tunnels even if the fire had not touched those inside. In more than one place the exits from bunkers were blocked with the bodies of men who, on experiencing what might only have been partial asphyxiation, had panicked.
Engineer assets, those immediately available, began clearing routes to the furthest extent of the Valhallan’s advance. As other formations reached what had been the Valhallan positions earlier in the day, the DMPC sorted them out – recce units, especially those on foot and walkers were waved straight through. Engineer assets were immediately directed to assist with route clearance. All others had to wait for their lines of advance to be cleared.
General Tolstoy has then informed 72AG of this possible breakthrough and requested support from Army level assets. A detachment of half a dozen Knights from the Legio Astoria’s allied houses is sent to secure and reinforce the breach. It will take them another eighteen hours at flank speed to reach the FLOT.
To the south, 18 Corps, reaching its objectives for the first day of the Operation, began to dig in, but its perimeters were not secured. Bloodpact infantry began to infiltrate imperial lines. In post event analysis, it became evident that they were not immediately engaging 18 Corps front line positions, except to force small local breaches. 23 Inf Div had been thoroughly penetrated and the entire TAOR degenerated into fire fights between platoon and company sized units on both sides, thoroughly intermingled in depth. 3rd Sacon Line Regiment had been in the van and seemed to be less thoroughly compromised than other parts of 23 Div. General Robbeme (Cadia) had ordered the Sacon to begin to turn its reserve companies around to face back into what should have been Imperial territory in preparation for eliminating the infiltrating Blood Pact.
The reserve companies had just made the turn and were facing west when a large force of Emperor’s Children struck the forward lines. Large numbers of annihilator and exterminator pattern predators swept through the front lines, supported by numbers of space marines armed with sonic weapons as well as more usual marine arms. Un-warned of the possibility of traitor marines, where ever they appeared, resistance was only offered after the marines had begun their attacks.
Accompanied by more shadowy, unconventional elements, the Blood Pact and the Emperor’s Children shattered 23 Inf Div in a matter of hours. The 2nd Urdeshi, the highest quality, hardest fighting part of 23 Inf Div was particularly hard hit saving Vitrian Highlands and Brimlock Dragoons. If 72AG was going keep the ‘Rowin’ Industrial District, 23 Inf Div would not be leading the charge.
Meanwhile the rest of 18 Corps braced itself for a possible counter offensive.
 A detachment of the Armageddon 22 Armd Regt
 Along with increasing losses of allied aircraft. As the PLA’s air brigades were beaten, by now reduced to possibly ten viable airframes or less, enemy action was not suspected until the matter came to the attention of Inquisitor Gibbs of the OM; his savants analysed the available data and predicted that Hellblades (of the cursed forgeworld of Xana II) were responsible, making their attacks under the cover of their weather-bending side effects. This would later prove to be true as the battle for Xyphonica unfolded.
 The ‘Rowin’ Industrial District, the objective of 38 Corps.
 Out of nine. There is no record of these two crewmen, or any sign thereof, being found during the campaign, despite having bailed out over the centre of 17 Korps positions.
 The Korps Recce assets are already on the move to the Valhallan FLOT, the Korps reserve, 904 Div are immediately ordered to move up to what are currently the Valhallan’s positions. The DMPC are immediately told to facilitate the immediate moves and also work out how to move them though 903 Div when the time comes.
 18 Corps staff were not forewarned that Traitor Space Marines might be on Devos IV. At Battalion level, the notion that traitor marines might even exist was generally suppressed by the Commissariat as bad for morale.