Monday, December 04, 2006

Operation Clean Sweep 0112.006M42

Operation Clean Sweep began on 0112.006M42 with a simultaneous landing by the Blood Martyrs 3rd company and a fleet action in the Hellheim system. By the end of the day the Imperial military hoped to have crushed the inexperianced Tau fleet and to have landed in force on Cernunnos.

The Fleet Battle
The Imperial fleet (Sword Of Damocles, Imperious, Defence, Fearless, Galileo and Ceres) had finally managed to pin down the tau and a confused engagement took place in the asteroid belt.
It started with the Sword of Damocles engaging two protector class cruisers. The battle was uneven and things were going badly for the tau until the arrival of an Emissary class and three escorts from the Damocle's other flank began to pressurise the battleship. then things swung violently in favour of the imperium as the Imperious and escorts appeared behind the Emissary, crippling her and crippling a protector with her Nova cannon. It seemed that Admiral Jellicoe would have his crushing victory!
Crippled and venting atmosphere one of the two Tau protectors made a last gasp gambit, powering her engines to maximum and hurling herself at the imperial battleship. The Sword Of Damocles was powerless to manouvre out of the way and the protector's shileded prow impacted against the battleship's port side, crippling her. After this the great ship was forced to disengage.
The Tau however were in a serious situation. The Emissary had been hulked and her escorts destroyed by the battlegroup led by the carrier Imperious. Defence and Fearless, two brand new gothic class cruisers had arrived to the stern of the Tau protectors, destroying both of them. With only one newly arrived protector in range it seemed the Tau had been defeated.
Just then the Custodian Tau battleship loomed into view headed directly for Fearless and Defence. High on confidence the two new and inexperienced gothic cruisers headed straight for their enemy in close formation. It was a fatal mistake. This left the two imperial ships moving away from another protector class vessel which launched a salvo of tau torpedoes. Meanwhile the Custodian and three wardens opened fire on the gothics, launched torpedoes and eight squadrons of mantas!
It was more than the Fearless could take and she veered into the path of Defence before blowing up in an enormous warp drive implosion. The shockwave blew the Defence into the asteroid field where she broke in two before her plasma drives detonated, converting the ship into dust and gas.
When the blast cleared the remaining ships, isolated from one another, saw that two of their newest capital ships were gone. They disengaged allowing the Tau to recover their three hulked cruisers.

The Imperium had started well and severely damaged the Tau fleet. The Tau were left with just on Custodian, three wardens and two protectors in the Hellheim system. Their other three capital ships were evacuated to the Tau empire for repairs, which would take at least 6 months. However the imperial fleet had to send the Sword Of Damocles back to Cerberex for a refit, leaving just one battlecruiser and two cruisers in system. This was not enough to defend against the Tau and protect an invasion force. Clean Sweep had failed.

The Blood Martyrs landing
The Imperial plan for Cernunnos was simple. Lacking any droptroops the Imperial Guard would suffer huge casualties on landing unless they had a secure dropsite. The Blood Martyrs 3rd company was entrusted to secure this site and defend the perimeter while the Imperial Guard landed their men and equipment.
Torment launched her thunderhawks and thunderhawk transporters carrying the Blood Martyrs 4th company into the atmosphere of Cernunnos at 01:30 local time. Barracudas were scrambled by the Tau but the landing took place far enough from the main Tau base for the thunderhawks to unload and escape before the Tau fighters arrived. The blood Martyrs, fully equipped with their support tanks, now made the 60km journey to the Tau perimeter.
The marines faced little resistance until they approached the Tau main base itself when they met fierce resistance from a Tau hunter cadre at 03:00 local time. The night attack had been planned by the marines to confuse the Tau, but they were ready. Soon the marine, suffering more in the darkness than their opponents, found themselves outgunned. Before long most of the marines' tanks had been taken out and the 3rd company was forced to withdraw.
Worse was to follow. As the surviving Blood Martyrs made their way back to their defence perimeter they were ambushed by a force of Dark Eldar. The ensuing bloody fight saw the aliens take high casualties, but the ambush turned the marine retreat into a rout. When the Blood Martyrs took off in their Thunderhawks they returned with just 42 men from the original 120, and just 15% of their equipment. These were serious losses.
The plan to establish a bridgehead on Cernunnos had failed, leaving the 6 Imperial Guard regiments in orbit around the planet with nowhere to land.
Then the news of the fleet battle arrived. Torment and her flotilla of troop carriers immediately turned and set course for the safety of the base on Einmyrria. Operation Clean Sweep had failed.

Imperial Plans
With Clean Sweep a total failure operation Caterwaul now looked in jeopardy. The imperial fleet had been reduced in strength and the Tau still occupied Cernunnos. Imperial High Command immediately re-planned. The fleet and the 6 regiments of Imperial guard (60,000 men plus equipment) would be redirected to Myrentas II. This system at least would be taken in the name of the emperor.
Meanwhile back in their secluded craftworld the Kel Sandros Eldar were fairly pleased with the outcome. Their new allies had forced the Imperium off Cernunnos and the eldar had avoided casualties. Myrentas II was being reinforced instead so the eldar needed to make sure the imperium had more enemies than it could cope with. The attack on the orks a week ago had been nullified when the Blood Martyrs had assassinated an ork mekboy, and now the orks were simply standing ready in Rockwell. They needed herding towards the imperium.
The eldar quickly devised a lightning hit and run raid to herd the orks out of the city. However they hadn't reckoned on a new (and competent) ork warlord taking charge. The ensuing battle did not see the orks herded towards the space marines, and the eldar took and uncomfortable number of casualties. Deciding to cut their losses they quit the planet and contemplated letting events take their own course on Myrentas II.

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