Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tarsis Major - Operation Neptune

As 10.009M42 drew to a close, the Imperium found itself increasingly stretched on Tarsis Major. The recent failure of the Silverbrook offensive and the ongion war against Chaos elsewhere in the sector had sapped the strength of Cunnigham's army, as reinforcements reduced to a trickle. Much of Cunningham's reserves had been used up in the attack on Silverbrook and the Tau had regained the initiative, smashing the Porphyrians and reaching the capital.

Now, Shadowstrike took over, moving Strongspear to protect the eastern flank, and bringing up Ol Cha to his right. Operation Neptune began shortly after. Shadowstrike's main thrust drove straight at the ruins of Tarsis Prime, a city ravaged twice by orks. The battles raged for three days as General Cunningham deployed his experienced Librian 101st and 4th Armoured regiments, but during fierce street battles the Imperial forces faired badly, despite initial success with their dug in anti-tank batteries against Shadowstrike's hammerheads.

Bitter hand to hand fighting developed, with Shadowstrike personally leading the assaults, demonstrating that this time, territory mattered and the city would fall to the Tau. Many of the Librians, despondent at apparently losing their third war to the Tau, began falling back in the face of massed rail gun fire. Only the tank support remained steadfast, but even that faltered, the wrecks of Demolishers littering the Square of Faith. Worse was to follow on the 29th when several Leman Russ battle tanks were lost in a failed flanking manouevre, their heavy weight sinking into the soft ground of Tuva after it had been churned by weapons fire and then subjected to heavy rain. Tarsis Prime was officially abandonned on 0311.009M42, and the government moved to Coldside.

Ol Cha was even more successful, fighting a series of actions on the right flank of Shadowstrike's advance. The PDF units stationed there fled almost immediately, and only two small companies of space marines - Reaper Angels and Dark Angels - stood in the way of Ol Cha's mechanised cadres. Using experience learned painfully against the Astartes foes, the Tau almost annihilated the Reaper Angel company before outflanking and decimating the Dark Angels. Seeing the superhuman defenders falter the Imperial Guard and PDF retreat turned into a full scale panic, and several thousand surrendered on the spot. Ol Cha never paused, hounding the Imperial forces all the way across the Tuvan plain and the central forest, before finally running out of steam at the shores of the Merrin Strait. A swathe of Tuva the size of Sartano had fallen in just seven days and the capital had been lost. Cunningham was hard pressed to shore up his collapsing defences.

Imperial HQ was moved to Coldside, and serious consideration was given to an armistice. If the Tau could be pursuaded to allow the remaining Imperial forces to leave the system, some 2 million troops, not to mention the Adeptus Astartes units, would be free to fight other, more pressing wars elsewhere. Tarsis could be retaken at a later date once the resurgent Chaos threat had been dealt with. This sentiment, close to heresy, was soon stamped out with a combined warning from the Inquisition, Commissariat and at least two Space Marine chapters. No. This time there would be no armistice, no peace deals, no retreat. It may take years but Tarsis would be retaken and the Tau made to regret their invasion. Besides, pointed out the Imperial Tacticae, retreating here would allow the Tau to pursue their other aims elsewhere, which may involve more Imperial worlds. The war on Tarsis would go on.

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