Monday, May 25, 2009

Push North

Having secured Maybourne Elan Ro regrouped his forces, adding additional elite units to his force, and prepared for the next phase. This was going to be a big push, so he enlisted the help of Aloh Va, a new commander in the Aleph Sector, and advanced. The Imperial forces under General Cunningham simply abandoned peninsular to the south west so the attack force swept northwards.This was deliberate. Cunningham knew a push on Tarsis Prime would likely end the war, and with his forces on the defences he couldn't afford another army being surrounded in the south Tuva peninsular as happened on Merrin.

As the Tau forces swept north towards the Tarrano river, they were met by the brunt of the Imperial force. Several guard regiments, Librian and Porphyrian, were there to oppose the Tau advance and prevent an advance into the Downside Desert. Elan Ro split his force into two, aiming to hammer the guard on the flanks and the crush them in the centre. The centre of the guard line was the Porphyrian infantry with Librian armour in support. On the right were Librian mechanised and armoured regiments, and more Porphyrian Infantry on the left, supported by Porphyrian armour. Cunningham meanwhile supported his infantry with Leman Russ and artillery support, intent on driving forward and pushing the Tau back towards the Border Heights.

Cunningham had three Librian regiments and two Porphyrian, along with the Tarsis PDF, but it was the Librian 4th armoured division and the Porphyrian regiments, newly replenished with reinforcements from Porphyria, which saw the brunt of the fighting near the town of Garrick, on the Tarrano River.

In the opening phases of the battle Elan Ro ordered the Fire Warriors to hold back, allowing suits and hammerheads to engage the enemy. On the right Aloh Va’s hammerheads obliterated the Porphyrian armour in short order. Conversely on the left Elan Ro’s hammerheads were much less effective as they failed to make a dent in the Librian 4th Armoured division. The guard advanced as one towards the Tau lines, securing the centre of the battle field and their right flank. Librian Leman Russ proved as ineffectual as Elan Ro’s hammerheads as the two forces exchanged fire to little effect.

Aloh Va’s stealth and Kroot units emerged on the Imperial left flank, tearing apart their advance. Elan Ro’s stealth units attempted to do the same on the right, but were counter attacked and driven off by Porphyrian Storm Troopers before they were in turn eliminated by one of Elan Ro’s Crisis units. Librian Sentinels managed to get behind Aloh Va’s hammerhead unit, taking it out as Prophyrian heavy weapon teams neutralised his Broadsides, leaving the Tau right flank without any railguns and Librian armour moving in. The reserve Fire Warriors smashed the Sentinels in retaliation, but the damage was done.

Cunningham meanwhile was struggling with communication issues. The Porphyrian regiments in the area had recently been reinforced with new recruits and apparently many of these new recruits were not given proper language instruction. This led to difficulties when orders were passed between the Librian and Porphyrian units, and made the co-ordinated use of both forces a challenge. Additionally the Porphyrian IIX Light Tank company was given incorrect co-ordinates, and was unable to arrive on the battlefield on time to seriously affect it’s outcome. After the battle Colonel Abbas announced that investigations would be undertaken to find out who was responsible for these errors.

In the centre a large force of Porphyrian infantry was dug in, daring the Tau to try and dislodge them from the central tower, a focal point which had commanding views of the town and the battlefield. Elan Ro had no intention of fighting them, instead aiming to take the objectives on the flanks, surrounding the Porphyrians and taking the town. A breakout from Garrick to the north could then take place, encircling the PDF units on Cunningham'r right flank. Upon hearing that there were no railguns on the left Elan Ro ordered an unusual tactic. Aloh Va and his Kroot and stealth units were to engage the Librian armour in hand to hand combat. Without any ranged weapons capable of harming the tanks only the strength of their alien allies and battlesuits stood a chance of damaging them.

Aloh Va set about the task with vigor, ripping into the Librian armour and doing significant damage. Seeing the success of Aloh Va’s units in combat Elan Ro ordered his units to do the same, as the Hammerheads and Leman Russ were still failing to damage each other. The Crisis Suit, which had just dispatched a squad of Storm Troopers in combat, charged in and drove his suit’s fist into the tank’s engine, causing it to explode. Librian mechanised troops replacing those that had been driven off by Crisis units avenged the tank by dispatching the Crisis unit with melta fire.

By the end of 2405.009M42 both sides had committed all their reserves and the battle drawing to a close. Elan Ro finally committed his Fire Warriors, who had been waiting for the rest of the Tau to weaken the enemy before engaging. On the right flank there was still half of the Librian armour that Aloh Va and his brave assaults had failed to dispatch. A unit of Fire Warriors deployed behind the tank, but failed to destroy it, as did the ongoing attacks. Simultaneously Librian Hellhounds deployed and incinerated half the Fire Warriors. In an attempt to stop Aloh Va’s continued attacks on the Librian armour, their command unit charged into combat, only to watch the Tau dispatch all of the body guards and wound the commander, who promptly fell back. He was then hunted down and killed by drones.

On the Tau left the remaining Librian Armour targeted the Devilfish having failed to damage the Hammerheads, knocking half out of the sky. The remaining got through with Crisis unit support and engaged Librian and Prophyrian mechanised units in a close quarter fire fight. Seeing that his right flank was a mess and the left a stalemate he could no longer allow the Imperials to have the centre uncontested. Lacking any other support Elan Ro and his second in command Ol Cha personally charged into a mass of Porphyrians alone.

Concentrated lasgun fire overloaded Elan Ro’s suit, but Ol Cha moved in, cleared the Ratlings from the central tower and stood boldly atop it, weathering a storm of fire from the Prophorians. Rather than being left unsupported Devifish that had deployed their squads moved to support. Aloh Va’s suit was also damaged from a Hellhound blast that drove off the last of the Fire Warriors on the right flank, which was now little more than a mix of wrecked vehicles and charred bodies. One the left the fire fight between Librian and Porphyrian mechanised units and Elan Ro’s Fire Warriors was inconclusive, as both sides took cover and dug in.

Eventually the commanders on both sides saw that the battle was over. Cunningham was unable to breakthrough to the coast and the Tau could not break out to the north. The Tau advance had been stopped, and Elan Ro and Aloh Va’s forces had taken a terrible battering. However, it was not a victory for the Imperium as the regiments that faced the Tau had been mauled just as badly. As Elan Ro’s suit was recovered he allowed himself a small smile. While his advance had been halted, he’d held the Imperium back, allowing Shadowstrike to slip past the main Imperial force towards Silvebrook.

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