Friday, April 24, 2009

Tau Broaden Horizons

During 04.009M42 the Catechism were not the only force looking to consolidate their holdings in the Aleph sector. The Tau too, following their scare over supply to the war on Tarsis, became increasingly aware of the need for more waystations and bases between Tau space and the Aleph expansion sphere. Their bases on Cernunnos and Lucardium in the Perseus deeps, while now large and efficient, could not be supplied quickly or regularly enough via the existing supply route through the Aurelis deeps, and a second, joining up with Melberg was desired by the Tau high command.

The Ethereals entrusted this task to the experienced and ageing Sunstrike, who was almost due for retirement, hoping his experience would be a match for the difficult logistical task. Shadowstrike however had a hand in the ground commander, while Admiral Swiftstar chose his protege Brightsun, to lead the expedition in space.

The operations started well, with the Tau fleet brushing aside Imperial and Necron fleets also present int he Deeps, allowing the Tau ground forces to mop up and establish a number of bases in the near Aurelis Deeps close to Melberg. Chaos forces were the most common foe, with the Norsefire Empire once again sending fleets out against the Tau, though Admiral Thok had left years previously.

While the Tau made good headway as they pushed a new route through the Deeps, they were being tracked all the while by a large Dark Angels fleet. They were tracked landing hunter cadres on the small world of Parnesh, and they were followed half way to the Tau Empire past the system of Voldemus. Then, in the dim glow of the red dwarf star Annulus, the Dark Angels sprung their trap.

The Dark Angels had chosen to pursue silently and, with their ground forces in action on Alphe in large numbers, knew destroying the Tau on the ground would be difficult. Instead, five strike cruisers and a multitude of escort vessels ambushed the main Tau fleet as they prepared to go into combat against a formidable Chaos force.

Using the system's gas giant to conceal their approach the Space Marine vessels didn't even bother to open fire, closing rapidly with the lumbering Tau vessels and boarding each in turn. By the end of 2604.009M42 Brightsun's fleet and the Admiral himself had been annihilated, with eight Tau capital ships left as drifting hulks, many of which crashed into the gas giant world.
The Chaos force, surprised at this, took the opportunity to punish the Dark Angels, inflicting serious damage and forcing the Space Marines to flee. However the Dark Angels had effectively thwarted the Tau attempt to open a second route to the Aleph sector and had destroyed a significant portion of their fleet. Though not entirely a failure, the accomplishments of the mission fell far short of what the Tau had hoped for.

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