Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Long drawn out affair

By 08.009M42 the war on Tarsis was approaching its second year. The forces of Chaos and greenskins had been defeated and eradicated from the planet, but the war between the Imperium and Tau seemed to edge towards stalemate every day. Despite a better strategic position, holding tow of the three vital industrial zones and Sapphire Harbour, as well as the outer planet Tarsis Minor, the Tau could not force the Imperium into final surrender, at least not quickly.

The Tau, now with Shadowstrike in overall command, faced a number of problems. The Imperium was united and had a strong leader in General Cunningham. They faced re-invigorated Imperial Guard formations with the Librians, Cerberex Guard and the Praetorians all showing improvement since the start of the campaign. This in turn fed down to the larger PDF formations. In effect, Cunningham had a united, effective army which he did not have in Melberg.

During the Melberg campaign the system's proximity to the Aurelis Crossing had meant supply lines had been short, and it was possible for the Tau to gain Space superiority in the system. With the elongated supply lines in the Tarsis Campaign and the need to defend their bases in the Mabb nebula, the Tau could not claim the same, allowing supply convoys on both sides to get through to the armies in the field.

Both sides on Tarsis maintained the ability to produce the weapons of war. The Tau had successfully converted the human factories to Tau war production, while the vast industrial power of the Sartano river valley and the Tuva Plain allowed the Imperium to churn out tanks and guns at a steady rate. It did however limit the scope of offensives on both sides.

By 08.009M42 the Imperium and Tau both had their eyes fixed on events in the Shadow Worlds, as hive fleet Nemesis threatened their bases and the Eldar became resurgent. Tarsis was downgraded in the priorities of both the Tau Empire and the Administratum on Terra. The war's outcome would have to wait.

This suited the Imperium more than the Tau. For weeks the war cooled off with little more than bombing raids and skirmishes. The Tau sat back, using automated defences which the Imperium would occasionally probe. Then, on 1008.009M42 the Praetorian Guard launched the next major offensive of the war from their bridghead on Merrin.

Since landing on Merrin the Praetorians had been stuck behind and to the north of the Mertock Mountains, their positions overlooked by Tau sentries. This often brought sudden death and destruction from a seeker missile launched from the other side, guided by a stealth team markerlight. These long range seeker missile attacks were causing havoc so the Imperial commander decided to remove the Tau from the mountains.

The Praetorian Guard launched their attack, sending wave after wave of men, supported by Ogryn assualt squads and heavy tanks, up the steep slopes of the mountains. the fighting was brisk and a number of furious firefights errupted in the cragy terrain, which in places reached 7000ft above sea level. Gradually the Praetorians forced the Tau to give ground. The Tau hadn't stationed large forces in the mountains, but now their preferred method of reacting to Imperial moves went awry, thanks to some careful tactical planning.

The Imperial Navy, though inferior in numbers and lacking the ability to challenge the Tau for air superiority, did have a large number of Valkyrie, Vendetta and Vulture gunships. In the mountainous terrain, flying low, these were almost impossible to track by the aliens and they soon found their mobile hunter cadres, called in to deal the counter blow, shot to pieces by gunships hugging the terrain.

The Imperial Navy, though few in number, delayed the Tau reserves, allowing the Praetorians to advance fifty miles south and entrench themselves in the mountains, this time in strength. By 1508.009M42 the attack was being scaled down as the lead elements of the Praetorians reached the plains of Merrin and faced an onslaught of Tau fire. Now however the tables had turned, with the Tau positions overlooked by Imperial artillery, which started shelling the towns of Medulla and Stockton, forcing the Tau to abandon them as forward observation posts and making the lives of the inhabitants a living hell

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