There was only ever going to be one target for the invasion, Melberg. Sitting out on its own, halway between the Zadoc subsector and Tau space, the Imperial human society of Melberg was the ideal dropping off point for Tau convoys on their way to the Perseus Deeps and the new Tau colonies there. With a population of 1.9 billion however, the Tau knew that conquest of this world would be one of their largest undertakings in recent years.
Melberg had been the target for diplomatic missions for many years but every time the governor had rejected the Tau overtures. Govenor Ernest Schroeder knew that with a well equipped PDF numbering close to one million men, and with the Blood Martyr’s homeworld only a week away, the Tau would have to mount something special to take the planet.
Given the strategic importance of the system the Tau were planning something special and put together a massive invasion force. Unfortunately for the Tau this huge force needed a huge fleet, and as soon as the armada left Tau space and started its slow jumps towards Melberg, its enormous warp signature was picked up by every astropath within one hundred light years, even being detected as far away as Cerberex.
It was clear from the size of the fleet and its direction that an invasion of Melberg was imminent and the Imperial response was swift. Knowing the Imperial fleet to be up to five times faster than the Tau, the Imperial high command had some time to consider their options. One strategy favoured attacking the Tau before they invaded but this was deemed risky as the Tau fleet may evade detection in the crossing of the Melberg Deeps, the northern end of the Aurelis Deeps.
A second strategy proposed allowing the Tau to land and then sending a massive counter invasion force but this plan was also rejected. Lord Xertes did not want the Tau to be allowed to fortify the Melberg system before his forces’ arrival.
The final plan was to send what forces that could be mustered to bolster the Melberg PDF. Then the fleet would await the Tau arrival and contest the invasion. The forces available were scarce, but the regiments being evacuated from Myrentas II were the first to be earmarked for the defence of Melberg, along with others transferred from other nearby garrison worlds. These would be reinforced later by new regiments arriving into the Aleph sector at the request of Inquisitor Lord Le Pen. The Blood Martyrs 5th, 7th and 8th companies also responded to the threat and had arrived in system by mid 05.007M42.
Sunstrike’s Call to Arms
+++General communication from Commander Sunstrike to the Fire Caste warriors of
the Aleph Expansion+++
Brothers and Sisters of the Fire Caste, hail.
We have struggled on behalf of the Empire for many kai'rotaa, and though we have met with setbacks the Aleph Mission has been an overall success; three colonies now exist in the sector, the Aurelis Deeps have been opened to the Kor'Or'Vesh, and trade with the our allies continues to grow.
Now comes a great challenge; the planet of Melberg is all that stands between our fledgling colonies and union with the Empire. To bring this world into our sphere would consolidate and make safe all that you have fought so hard to achieve.
I call upon you, my borthers and sisters, to steel yourselves in furthering the effort to bring the Aleph Sector under the dominion of the Empire. The imminent invasion of Melberg must be undertaken with vigour and relentless determination. Commander Longstride has been newly appointed to oversee the operation, and after her recent successes on Parataea, Commander Whitefire will spearhead the invasion.
We can no longer treat and parly with our enemies, as we did on Myrentas; they have shown themselves to be ruthless and arrogant in their abilites. There can be no respite in the assault on Melberg, no amnesty granted to the foe; the time for diplomacy is over, too much Tau blood has been spilled... Now is the time for conquest!
I know that you will all fight with skill and courage as you have so many times before. The hearts and minds of everyone in the Empire go with you. Do not rest until the entire planet submits to the Greater Good!