Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strongspear drives north

With the front line secured following Shadowstrike's victory over the Venorators, the Tau planned an immediate offensive on Tuva to regain the initiative and exploit the fact that following recent activity, Cunningham's forces were depleted and understrength. This indeed was true. The overall commander of Imperial forces on Tarsis Major had been forced to withdraw a number of units for refit and general rest. This meant that underequipped PDF and Porphyrian units had to be put into the front line.

Realising this Cunningham deployed two Porphyrian regiments, some 20,000 men, in the centre of the line defending the approach to Tarsis Prime, with strong Librian regiments on both flanks. He knew this was a risk, but hoped the densely wooded rolling hills of the Central Forest would prevent a major breakthrough by the Tau, at least until the Porphyrians could be supported.

Tau intelligence, helped by several deserters, also knew of Cunningham's dispositions, and invited Commander Strongspear, his troops fresh and ready to fight, to take the opportunity. Stronspear accepted and his forces drove deep into the Central forest before meeting any meaningful resistance, but eventually the Imperial Guard began to put up stiffer resistance some 150 miles south of Tarsis. Infantry units, supported by a few Leman Russ battle tanks, Griffon mortar carriers and som heavy weapons squads, tried to halt the highly mechanised Tau attakcks, but massed Hammerhead fire made short work of what armour the Porphyrians had and singled out their anti-tank guns for special attention. Within minutes of each encounter the Porphyrians often found themselves with little more than a few missile launchers with which to combat Hammerheads, crisis suits and devilgish.

Seeing the front cracking, the Porphyrian Guard commander ordered in a massed drop of his storm troopers behind the enemy advance. This suicidal mission he hoped would deflect the Tau and stall their forward momentum. The mission however went terribly wrong, and the Stormtroopers were dropped miles off course, most landing directly on Tau formations where they were cut to ribbons. Meanwhile at the front line many Porphyrian units chose to flee or surrender rather than face an overwhelming foe. Only sporadic attacks from Chimera borne veteran units made any real impression, and by 2410.009M42 Strongspear had come to within 40 miles of the Tarsis capital. While the government prepared to move to Coldside, Cunninghame moved his best units back to defend the city.

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