Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Earlier than anticipated, in the dead of night, a small force of Tau began a reconnaisance against the Librian positions. In the darkness a number of Armoured units were taken out immediately, and the Tau began to push inland across the half completed tench lines and fortifications. Concerned this was a new offensive Cunningham now made a fateful decision, throwing in his Librian reserves against the breakthrough, leaving his right flank, manned by the Porphyrians, dangerously exposed.
A day later, just as Cunningham realised that Elan Ro's assault was a probing feint, Shadowstrike's main force landed directly infront of the hastily erected Porphyrian defences. After a brief stand off Shadowstrike's forces broke the line and rolled over the remaining Porphyrians like a speed bump.Three days later the grand Tau tactic of manouevre and encirclement had been employed to the full and Cunningham's Librians were forced to retreat to the natural barrier of the border heights mountains. Meanwhile the Porphyrians and Tarsis PDF were forst ever westwards, forming a new defense line just to the east of Maybourne. In just a few days all the hard work of the previous weeks had been undone. General Du Prez was left asking some serious questions, and his high commander asking some even more serious ones of him.
Realising he could not force a breakthrough against the Praetorians he deftly moved a significant force overnight to the east of the city. On 2003.009M42 a massed charge by his boyz surprised the defenders and broke a hole in the Imperial line where the Trebbians were defending. Panic filled the streets and Du Prez and the governor had to evacuate to Coldside. By the end of the week only the western pocket of Reinna remained, defended by the Praetorian 43rd and the Librian 19th.
Dear Alizabeth, Being so far away from you and the children these past months has been so hard. Everyday I am terrified that something might have happened to you, I thank the Throne that Coldside has been been spared the horrors of battle that have torn across the rest of the world. It seems your Mother may have been right about it being a safer place to raise the kids than Tarsis Prime!
Speaking of which, our attachment here has finally come to blows with the vile xenos. Three days ago the greenskin charged our walls; they came through an industrial sector that the commander had deliberately left seemly unsecured. We caught them by surprise, as they charged into the city we opened fire from the cover of the broken buildings. Hundreds of the filthy creatures fell to our firepower; truly we made the Emperor Himself proud. The fight was hard on our regiment, we lost fully a third of our brave founding. Indeed, I am truly blessed to be able to write to you today, a bullet meant for me was stopped by the thick hide of Grim’ed, one of the ogryn abhumans of the Praetorians seconded to our commander. I fear I must recant my earlier disgust of these mutants.
We believe that the greenskin have been pushed back into the foothills, from what I understand the commander has requested that the marines of the Scions of Ra pursue them to assassinate their warlord. If they are successful perhaps their taint may be purged from our land for once and for all.
In mention of the ork menace, I am concerned by the glow in the sky you have written about coming from the other side of Tuva Bay. We can but pray to the throne that this is not some manner of xeno weapon.
Please write to me soon, your letters are the only thing that buoys my spirits in these dark times. Thank you so much for the dried meats you sent, it made a refreshing change from the ration packs we’ve eaten for six months now. Lieutenant Gander thanks you as well for you concern, he’s back on his feet again now. The doctors think he should be back in the field again in less than a week, much to Gander’s chagrin!
Tell Franz and Mika that Daddy loves them both very much, and tell make sure Franz knows how sorry I am I couldn’t be there for his birthday. Was he pleased with the helmet? You wouldn’t believe how hard that was to get off the quarter-master, he’d better look after it.
Remember me in your prayers, Alizabeth. Throne-willing this threat will pass soon. I love you so much, I can’t wait to see your face again.
- From the personal effects of Sergeant Heller Adolphus, Tarsis PDF. (Missing In Action)
The Orks stood little chance against the daemon horde, and the Catechism got their revenge on Da Verminator, forcing his army back to its original landing zone on the planet. The destruction did not end there however, as the daemons then ran amok, destroying everything and everyone, razing settlements to the ground and murdering even Chaos followers who had been sheltering from the Orks, mistakenly believing the daemons had been sent to save them. Moonface let them have their fun, as to him Tyndareous was a minor concern. He was already planning his next move in the Rim Worlds.
Even so their actions proved useful to the campaign as a whole, as the Dark Angels established a base on Tyndareous, removing the forces of Da Verminator and landing on Coronus, where the Dark Angels had previously had a major base. This latter action proved the most significant as Coronus was Nazghat's primary base in the Shadow worlds. This slowed the Ork advance on Fort Sparcos as forces were redirected, and by late 03.009M42 the imminent danger to Alphe and Betor from Waaagh! Nazghat had been downgraded, thanks largely to the Dark Angels' actions.
Just three days later more bad fortune hit the Porphyrians, who's time in the Zadoc subsector was becoming an epic tragedy. This time a regiment which had stayed loyal to the Emperor and moved to Sartano for rest and recouperation, was suddenly set upon by a strong force of Dark Eldar. Once again the Imperial Guard garrison was caught woefully unprepared and the slaughter was almost total. For the next week the Dark Eldar rampaged up and down the southern island chain of Sartono, killing thousands and abducting thousands more. When PDF reinforcements arrived a few days later, there was no trace of the Dark Eldar and almost all the settlements in the south had been razed to the ground.
Their first encounter came against the Dusk Raiders on Fort Sparcos. Unhappy with their refusal to cooperate with their Chaos brethren and disturbed by an earlier attack on the encumbent Iron Warriors force in the sector, the force set about raiding the Dusk Raiders' supplies and teaching them a lesson. Unfortunately their enemy was wise to this fact and defended their positions admirably, forcing the new Iron Warriors force to seek their vengeance elsewhere.
While their leader was having a set-to with the Dusk Raiders a second force attempted to opportunistically raid the Trebbians defending the fort itself. They underestimated the Trebbian defences however and were similarly defeated, leaving the Iron Warriors fuming. The force left the Sparcos system on 1103.009M32 and set course for the Rim Worlds.
Their first visit was to Typhon, where the Night Lords were putting the finishing touches to their new city "Rim World Prime", built from slave labour and intended to rival the cities of the Imperium. It was in effect the first part of their plan to reconstruct their own Imperium by their own rules, and the Night Lords did not appreciate the arrival of the new Iron Warriors force. After a brief angry encounter between the leaders of the forces, battle soon commenced.
If the Iron Warriors had intended to take the small planet for themselves they had underestimated the Night Lords' will to defend their new Empire, and once again the Iron Warriors were defeated with no new information and no secure base from which to launch their raids. It had been a hard shock to the system, but they had at least discovered that in general, the other Chaos forces were generally hostile to the Iron Warriors in general, who they blamed, often innacurately for failures on Aleph 4 and Tarsis Major.
The Catechism forces penetrated deep into the Tau compound, leading with their elite Traitor Marine forces, sending forces under Fastblade reeling. The Tau, obviously unnerved by the chanting troops facing them, found it hard to concentrate and some of the shooting was wild indeed. Though the railguns on the Hammerheads were accurate, marines on foot proved too difficult for Fastblade's Aornis Cadre, and they withdrew.
Shadowstrike's Aornis forces were the next to feel the might of Moonfaces' army, but away on Tarsis he was unable to intervene personally. On 2403.009M42 the Tau commander of Aornis realised the game was up and ordered an evacuation, destroying any Tau installations which the Catechism might find useful. By the end of 2703.009M42 all the Rim Worlds were under the control of Chaos and the Catechism announced the presence of a new City, named after Moonface himself, raised up in triumph on Priam following their string of victories.
The Tau, including commander forces under Or'es Kais, resting from their exploits on Tarsis, first noticed the power spike in the foothills of the massive mountain chain which ringed the planet. Immediately the Tau mobilised and moved towards the disturbance, sending a scouting group forward. The small force didn't get far however, as a host of daemons, summoned by the Catechism , appeared in their midst, wiping out the Tau force. The last thing their commander saw before he dies was the great hole in real space created by "the Device", and thousands of Catechism troops marching and chanting onto the surface of Aornis.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The roving expedition met with little success in 03.009M42 as it was beaten first by Necrons on a thought to be uninhabited world, then by the Dusk Raiders on Sparcos as they attempted to “relieve” them of some of their equipment.
Between 1103.009M42 and 1703.009M42 the Orks under Snazteef launched their first assault against the capital, Tarsis Prime. Fearful of the consequences of its loss, General Du Prez had put veteran commander Arbuthnot of the Praetorian 42nd in command and the thin red line stretched along the north of the city, awaiting the arrival of the greenskins.
The Orks arrived, but were met with lasgun and bayonet, not to mention heavy weapons fire from the Praetorians’ tanks support. Under their guidance, the Tarsis PDF also began to open fire, and with the counter charge of the Praetorian Ogryn units, the Orks were thrown back from the city in disarray. Tarsis Prime had been saved and the bells in the Emperor’s Cathedral were rung to the cheering of the crowds.
However, Snazteef had played a trick on the Imperium. The Orks fled the city and, thinking they could be routed, permission was given for a company of Space Marines of the Scions of Ra! Chapter to follow up this victory, supported by Tarsis PDF.
Once the marines had advanced away from the protection of Imperial air support and artillery, the Orks sprung the trap, charging the mustard armoured Imperial soldiers. The supermen of the Scions of Ra! Fought bravely, but the fight was in vain. It was the Imperium who were routed and by the end of 1703.009M42 the Orks were once again knocking at the door of the Imperial capital, much to the frustration of the Imperial overall commander who was heard to say of Snazteef “Who will rid me of this meddlesome Ork?"
The Imperial high commander General Du Prez, aware of the impending attack, and his diminishing reputation, appointed General Cunningham to personally oversee the defence of Tuva from the Tau, while General Arbuthnot of the Praetorian Guard took personal command of the defence of Tarsis Prime from the Orks.
Cunningham however was given superior resources. Not only could he count on the three Librian divisions and an army of PDF, but Du Prez allocated three crack Praetorian regiments to his command, along with two Super heavy tank regimants from both Libria and Praetoria. This would mean Baneblades, kept on Tuva, would see action for the first time.
Cunningham and his Praetorian counterpart decided on a simple plan. The peninsular the Tau had invaded was fortified, and the heavy industrial zones turned into obstacles for the Tau to overcome. He spread out his troops in depth along the front, with half the Baneblades supporting a Praetorian infantry advance, and the other half in deep reserve, able to react to any devious Tau tactics.
On 1203.009M42 the Tau attack began, with combined forces of Elan Ro and Shadowstrike pushing out from their bridgehead, aided by over a regiment’s worth of Porphyrian Guard, who had declared their allegiance to the Tau. Shadowstrike was perhaps hoping that fielding traitor Guard would unsettle his opponents, though it is more likely he was using them as an expendable resource.
As predicted the Tau faced difficulties, penned in and unable to manoeuvre, they had to accept an attritional battle. This tactic had been used by Cunningham on Melberg and quickly began to pay dividends as the Tau advance ground to a halt. Then the killing began.
Determined to engineer a breakout and convinced the Imperial line was about to crack, the Tau continued to throw in their resources. An entire cadre of Elan Ro’s troops were wiped out in the furious battle, while Shadowstrike’s cadres fared little better. The Porphyrians suffered badly too, as the loyalist guard units delighted in demolishing their traitors with lasgun, lascannon and battlecannon.
On the second day Shadowstrike managed to infiltrate a large number of kroot into the Imperial lines, but the arrival of the reserve baneblade regiment annihilated the reptilian creatures utterly. The stench of shredded krootflesh hung about the battlefield, a ruined, rubble strewn wasteland awash with burning vehicles and dead bodies.
On the third day Elan Ro and Shadowstrike co-ordinated a mass drop by crisis suit, causing carnage amongst the Librian infantry and destroying most of their Leman Russ battle tanks. Further north the Praetorian slow advance was finally checked by dogged defending, but the Tau had little answer to the Baneblades, which slowly ground them into submission.
Five days after the attack had began the Tau were utterly spent, withdrawing from Tuva to their base on Sapphire Harbour. The Imperium had won their first victory on Tuva in months and had pushed the Tau off the main continent.
The cost however was astonishingly high. Though the Imperial Baneblades had suffered little damage, the Librian and Praetorian regiments involved in the fighting had been badly mauled. Including PDF losses the five day battle had seen 150,000 casualties, almost half that taken in the entirety of the Merrin fighting. The Tau too had suffered badly, losing 31,000 troops, including some 20,000 Tau, their worst losses of the war and approaching those lost in the appalling attritional battles on Melberg.
Doenitz was to arrive with a dozen capital ships, including the Emperor Class battleship, Malleus Trebbia, upon which he flew his flag. However, as the fleet jumped towards the Tarsis system, it was noticed. Grand Admiral Thok readied a large portion of his fleet, including the fast battleship Ragnarok, and headed out in search of more Imperial prey.
The Imperial fleet found itself in action once more, this time against a well disciplined and highly experienced foe. Waves of torpedoes and mantas together with precision fire concentrated on each ship in turn before moving on to the next. First the dictator class, reduced to a hulk, then, the Malleus Trebbia herself.
Vs. Tau Losses:
(no losses to Tau)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Chaos invasion of New Sparta had, in a round about way, led to the invasion by Orks of the one remaining world in the Shadow Worlds loyal to the Catechism. A useful outpost, Moonface was keen to keep it, and used the device one more time to send a small force to aid the garrison on the planet.
It was no use. The blood of the Orks was up and they quickly overwhelmed the small elite force sent by Moonface. Da Verminator’s green hordes marauded across the inhabited parts of Tyndareious, wrecking infrastructure and slaughtering the inhabitants. By 1003.009M42 half the planet was in Ork hands and Da Verminator contemplating a new Stompa construction facility.
The Tau were shocked at the sudden appearance of the Chaos legions, naive to the warp technology that Moonface was employing in the device, but they realised the importance of the colony to the general campaign in the Zadoc subsector. One of Elan Ro’s recently promoted sub commanders was in charge of the garrison and fought hard to prevent the Catechism troops from overrunning the main Tau base while he called for reinforcements. Though taking heavy casualties, the Tau managed to fight the Catechism to a draw, enabling reinforcements to be landed on the planet.
The fight was however in vain. Despite the reinforcements the Catechism, who’s rhinos were destroyed in quick succession by the Tau railguns, resolved to walk towards their opponents. Pulse rifle fire was no match for aeons old armour, as this army was the elite, the cream of Moonface’s forces, and millennia old Space Marines ripped Tau bodies apart when they reached their lines.
The gritty heroic defence was of no use and on 0803.009M42 the garrison was abandoned by the Tau. Now Chaos controlled all the Rim worlds and Moonface had a solid base to launch further campaigns. Meanwhile the Tau put into action a plan to maintain their supply routes to Tarsis Major.
By 0703.009M42 Nazghat himself was back in the Shadow worlds. Forced to abandon his attempts to capture fort Sparcos for the time being, Nazghat was keep to prevent the new Tau force from taking any more of his empire in the Mabb nebula. However the Tau had the element of surprise, and he was powerless to prevent them from landing on Hylas in force.
Hylas had not been held by the Orks for long and their defences had not been repaired. With the Ork fleet mostly in orbit in the Sparcos system the Tau had free reign and landed in strength. They found the human population working as slaves for the Orks and realised they could turn this to their advantage.
In the end however there was very little need, as the fierce fighting was over in three days, the remaining Orks fleeing into the hills. Hylas had been taken by the Tau task force and the inhabitants hailed the new Xenos as saviours. Shadowstrike’s operation on Tarsis Major, opposed by some, now had a second supply route. Nazghat meanwhile had suffered his first reversal in months.
Elan Ro was the first to suggest a second supply route be opened by an attack through the Shadow worlds. These systems, mostly occupied by Nazghat’s Orks, would link Tarsis Major and operations there, to the recently acquired base of Melberg, and ease the pressure on the Aornis-New Sparta route.
The idea, backed by Fastblade, was considered but shelved, until the Catechism arrived on New Sparta on 0103.009M42. Immediately the Tau organised a task force and dispatched forces to Memnon and Hylas, considered the most vulnerable by their commanders.
The attack on Memnon by Ol Cha, one of Elan Ro’s subordinates, went well and the Orks were unprepared for such an organised assault. The planet, defended by Da Verminator, fell in just three days and the Ork Warlord was forced to abandon his new base, taking his incomplete Stompa with him. Unfortunately for Chaos the renegade Ork warlord was about to make an unscheduled visit to the neighbouring system of Tyndareous.
Never-the-less the Tau now had a foothold in the Shadow worlds. As they celebrated, the second phase of the operation swung into action on Hylas.
For three days it looked like the latest assault would turn into a rout, as defence line after defence line fell to the Orks. There was panic in the capital city as rumours of the Ork advance reached the general populace, and several incidents in the city led to arrests and injuries.
Meanwhile on 0603.009M42 Jamieson’s army was finally getting a grip on the situation. They had fallen back, but the Ork advance had run out of steam, and their latest high water mark had been reached. By 0703.009M42 the Orks, who had been within 12 miles of the capital, had been pushed back to a distance of 35 miles. Here the Librians dug in and hoped that reinforcements would turn the tide against the green tide threatening to overrun the seat of power on Tarsis Major.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
This turned out to be an unfortunate decision. On 2702.009M42 the Imperial commanders on the front reported a large beam of light shoot up from somewhere in the Ork occupied zone. About an hour later the sky was lit by burning fire, before an asteroid, 100 metres in length, smashed into the Porphyrian marshalling area north of Tarsis Major.
The damage was immense. Where there were ammunition yards, equipment sheds and barracks now lay a smoking crater, one mile wide. Just as the Imperium were relating this impact to the beam of light from the Orks, Snazteef attacked.
The latest assault quickly overran the stunned Porphyrians, who put up a brave, if uncoordinated defence. Suddenly Du Prez was worried. The Orks on Tarsis obviously had a weapon capable of mass destruction, and were now only 100 miles north of the capital, Tarsis Major. Something had to be done about Snazteef, and soon.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
On 2002.009M42 Shadowstrike called his other commanders to a hasty planning meeting. With the catechism gone resistance in the north was seen as weak and the Tau commander had identified an opportunity to make major gains against Chaos for the first time since the start of the war. With the strategic situation in relation to the imperium the best it had ever been following the capture of Sapphire Harbour it was also a good time for a major push in the south. All tau cadres were mobilised and preparations made for operation Poseidon, with the aim of rolling back both fronts and making major gains in a lightning Blitzkrieg.
Assault on Chaos
After his successful attack out from Sapphire Harbour Elan Ro was once again mounting up his force into Mantas and relocating. This time he was placed against what remained of the Chaos forces. While he’d been off planet the might of Chaos had crumbled, and Shadowstrike intended to capitalise on this.
What Elan Ro found was an entrenched force of Iron Warriors ready to try and repel his advance. His mechanised units moved forwards and Stealth units in advance of the main force began to harry the defenders. The Iron Warriors were lacking in long range anti-tank weaponry, only as small contingent of Predators, which were suppressed and then systematically annihilated.
As ever however Shadowstrike had chosen well in his selection of the conservative and patient Fastblade. The Tau commander moved his forces to the endge of the city by night, minimising casualties, then began the methodical process of destroying the Iron Warriors, and much of the city, with indirect firepower.
Closing the Gap
It was actually the advance by Or'es Kair, the least experienced commander, which started the momentum of the Tau in the south. Shadowstrike had called for a limited encirclement against the mighty river Fuller, but as Kais moved her forces forward, she found the defences rather lighter than anticipated. Cautiously the Tau continued to advance, but critically, kept their flanks from being exposed. Then the Ultramarines sprung their trap.
Following the dramatic and astonishing advance by Or’es Kais, the Tau brought forward their timetable, moving their forces quickly and efficiently, deploying Elan Ro’s main force, which has been in the north, south to take advantage of the lightning advance, not allowing Cochrane’s battered forces to regroup.
Operation Poseidon eventually ended on 0603.009M42, not because of effective enemy resistance but because the Tau were exhausted. There were no more fresh cadres to throw into gaps in the enemy lines and supplies of ammunition and fuel were almost exhausted leaving the tau incapable of mounting further offensive opperations for the time being.
General Cochrane meanwhile was stuck, defending a small pocket of ground on the Merrin coast with just over five divisions. His supply lines untenable, he was still expected to fight to the last. The force, mainly Trebbian and Librian, was ordered to reject the surrender terms proposed by Shadowstrike. Cochrane then attempted to negotiate a withdrawal from Merrin.
Elan Ro was keen to accept this, but Shadowstrike overruled him. He could not allow five divisions and their equipment to be redeployed as they would need to face them again in subsequent fights. The negotiations were ended and the Tau prepared the final massacre.