Friday, February 27, 2009

Tau airborne assault

With Saladin and his Porphyrians occupied in the landing against Chaos, Shadowstrike was quick to realise there was a potential opportunity in the making. Intelligence suggested that only two regiments of Guard had been left in the vicinity of Sapphire Harbour, and the Imperial Navy was busy bombing and strafing in the north in conjunction with their landings.

Hurridly a plan was drawn up and the Tau air cadre quickly prepared a landing force. Shadowstrike would insert a strong force by air and seize Sapphire Harbour, while Elan Ro, removed from activities in space for the time being, would land once the Harbour was taken and force the Porphyrian regiments off the Island and with luck, establish a landing zone on the eastern shore of Tuva.

It was an ambitious plan but the Imperium had its eyes fixed elsewhere. On 2302.009M42 the Tau air armada arrived at Sapphire Harbour. Imperial Navy fighters were scrambled and a vicious dogfight took place in the air. A large number of Tau bombers, more lumbering than the Baracudas, succumbed to concentrated fire from ground defences and Imperial Lightnings.

However the greater part of the air force got through and Orcas dropped several Hunter Cadres on to Sapphire Harbour itself, overwhelming the defenders and seizing the port in less than four hours. The Orcas themselves suffered terribly on the return journey, encountering fighters returning from the invasion in the north. Their surprise gone, less than one in ten Orcas made it back to their bases, but the damage had been done.

Later on the same day Mantas from the Tau fleet arrived and disgorged Elan Ro's entire force, which quickly launched an attack on the Porphyrians who had so far been unable to mount an effective counter attack on the captured base. Within two days the fast moving mechanised forces of Elan Ro had forced the Porphyrians off Sapphire Island and on 2602.009M42 the Tau made their landing on Tuva. Despite fierce resistance from the Tarsis PDF and Porphyrian troops the Tau would not be dislodged, and Shadowstrike had his beachhead on the main continent. From here he could strike southwest towards Maybourne or southeast into Sartano. General Cunningham, a veteran of Melberg, immediately called a crisis meeting to plan the defence against this new enemy.

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