Friday, April 04, 2008

Siege of Corunium lifted

Commander Sunstrike was unimpressed with Elan Ro's failure and immediately asked his most trusted general, the mysterious Shadowstrike, to relieve the situation and break out of Corunium before Cunningham had the chance to storm the city. Immediately several Tau Hunter Cadres moved stealthily by night, air-dropping into the heart of the now ruined city. Less than two days later Shadowstrike's forces were ready to strike.

On the Imperial side Lord General Lenord knew very well that Shadowstrike was now in Corunium with extra forces, and was more than a little irritated at the Navy for their failure to intercept the Tau airdrop. The Navy claimed foul play was involved as their tracking equipment had been unable to detect their presence.

Lenord met with his generals and the leaders of the Melberg armies. The majority reasoned that Shadowstrike would almost certainly strike west or south. If the strike was west the Tau could re-open a land corridor back to their forces occupying Gwendel. If they struck south they could endanger the oilfields of the Corona peninsular. Only Cunningham offered up the idea of a strike to the capital, Atlas Prime, and he was shouted down.

Cunningham drew up his defences, bolstering the forces in the narrow corridor between the river Stridius and Corunium. Meanwhile he began planning the attack on the ruined city. On 0304.008M42 the Tau attack began, catching the Imperial forces off guard. Shadowstrike was attacking north-east, into the green farmland country the Atlas belt, a wide area of provincial villages to the south west of the capital known as the garden of Melberg.

Cunningham permitted himself a wry smile as units of the Librian 5th and Librian 8th Grenadiers, along with the Army of Coronia and the remnants of the Central States Pact army (CSPA) were obliterated by overwhelming Tau firepower. A lot of the fighting took place in small villages, some of theoldest settlements on Melberg. This was all vineyard territory with narrow roads, thickets and tall hedgerows, and the Imperial forces found tracking the Tau very difficult in the terrain.

Local commanders pleaded for Hellhounds to burn the Tau out of the cover,but Shadowstrike had ordered that Hellhounds were the priority targets.Soon hundreds were burning in the fields. The Tau used their speed and manoeuvrability to good effect and the battle soon threatened to become a massacre.

For a time it looked like Shadowstrike's lightning assault would reach the Capital, and frantic rumours began spreading in Atlas Prime. A state of emergency was declared and the government prepared to leave. Meanwhile rioting on the streets as the inhabitants were stopped from leaving was brutally put down by the Whettis security forces.

Soon however, the Tau began making mistakes and their advance slowed.Cunningham ordered a fighting withdrawal, ordering his tanks not to show themselves in the close terrain unless they had a "cast iron" chance of destroying a valuable enemy asset. The Tau meanwhile spent too much time causing carnage amongst the Imperial Troops and too little time focusing their efforts in a combined move to continue the push north. On day one they gained nearly fifty miles. On day two they advanced just seven.

This delay, partially through Cunningham's conservative strategy and partially due to an over enthusiastic Tau blood lust, allowed the Imperial troops to withdraw to the outer defences of Atlas Prime long before the Tau had a chance to catch them by surprise. The Tau had made gains, but what had started so promisingly for Shadowstrike now looked rather less striking.

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