With the Imperium asserting their dominance in space, General Cunningham authorised a new offensive on Tarsis, a “bite and hold” mission of attrition in the northern sector on Merrin, where the Praetorians were a lot more optimistic about a final Imperial victory than many in Cunningham’s camp.
This refusal to give up was evident in their attack as wave after wave of highly disciplined infantry marched into battle against Strongspear’s Tau on the north Mertock plain. Aided by artillery from the Mertock Mountains initially, the Imperial advance went well and on 2004.010M42 they had marched over 50 miles from their starting lines as the Tau withdrew rather than face taking horrendous casualties. This of course was the Imperial casualties, to trade lives for territory, something which proved successful. A month after it had started the Imperium had advanced nearly 100 miles, gained nothing of strategic significance and lost over 30,000 men. However they had achieved a victory and losses on the Tau side were not insignificant, as Strongspear had been forced to put up a fight to prevent the ex-Iron Warrior fort, a key strategic point on the front, from falling to the Imperium. Only an unexpected crack in Praetorian discipline, most notably in the ogryn units, had prevented the fortress from falling and the Imperium gaining a key strategic victory.
Fortunately Strongspear just did enough to prevent a meaningful Imperial success, while in the continent of Tuva Shadowstrike had bigger problems. Resupplied from space Cunningham’s Librian forces were preparing a new offensive, and another space marine strike cruiser had been detected in the Tarsis system.