Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tyranteous: Imperium almost make breakthrough

General Denham came under increasing pressure as 04.013M42 went on from his immediate superior General Brooke. Brooke, responsible for what was left of the imperial sector, knew that if the tau advance was not checked, it would gain its own inevitable momentum and lead to another Melberg or Tarsis Major. Tyranteous must not be lost. Denham complained at lack of troops but with the tau fleet in orbit around Tyranteous Minoris it was difficult to see how he could be reinforced before Jellicoe's fleet removed the threat, and the battlegroup was still in transit.

Fortunately the imperium could already call on Tyrantean and Zadocian PDF, who while ill equipped proved to be tenacious in the defence of their homelands, but more importantly the front Line Librian and Corellian regiments had been augmented by the arrival of the Blood Martyrs and a small contingent of Grey Knights. The daemon hunting astartes were led by an inquisitor, who immediately consulted with General Denham. After a discussion, the Corellians were moved to the left wing of the North Landing front, and prepared to launch the first phase of Operation Sledgehammer.

The unimaginatively named operation was designed to push back both the forces of chaos and those of the tau empire, in order to gain time for the imperial fleet to break the stranglehold the tau now had over reinforcements. In the east the Corellians objective was to cut off the chaos held settlement of Weybridge crossing, while pushing north to threaten the major city of North Vale. In the east the Librian and Corellian forces would push on a broad front against the tau, in an attempt to relieve Hammerton and potentially surround Fallenvale on three sides. The Corellians were assigned the coastal sector, while the Librians and the Blood Martyrs faced the main van of tau forces.

In the west the attack north against chaos proceeded well. By 2204.013M42 the Corellians had broken through the chaos lines and were moving swiftly on their objectives. Lorek attempted to summon a daemonhost in front of the main axis of imperial advance but that was the cue for the daemonhunting inquistor and the grey knights of the ordo malleus to make their entrance. Unable to stand before the faith of the emperor's most devout subjects the daemons were swiftly banished and the Corellians reached the Fennerton Sea. By 2504.013M42 they had pushed as far north as Fallenvale itself and were closing on Weybridge crossing from the east.

In the centre the Librian regiments, assisted by units of the Blood Martyrs chapter of space marines made similar impressive progress. The combined firepower of Librian artillery and Blood Martyrs' land raiders quickly dealt with tau heavy armour, and even their Riptides proved less of a threat than in previous engagements, though the tau themselves suffered several malfunctions with their new and untried technology which severely hampered their effectiveness.

Realising the advance in the centre could not be stopped, commander Whitefire ordered a retreat. In some places this became a rout, and significant portions of the tau army in the centre were annihilated by eager pursuing Librian and astartes forces. This almost opened an opportunity for Denham to smash the tau occupation of Tyranteous but Whitefire remained calm. As the Corellian units advanced on the imperial left wing he waited patiently until the Merndin Massif cut off their communication with the advancing Librians. Then he counter attacked.

Whitefire was a lot more fortunate in his engagement on the imperial right, and was facing an enemy less experienced than Librians with the tau way of doing battle. As a result the tau commander was able to keep the imperium at arms length, destroying their armoured transports from range and effecting a devastating ambush. This time their new technology worked, and their specially adapted anti aircraft broadside units proved particularly effective against the Corellian's Vendetta support.

By 2204.013M42 the Corellians were in serious trouble, and Denham authourised a withdrawal. However their right flank had been breached and now the southern portion of North Landing was effectively indefensible. Realising this Denham stabilised the front along a north south axis from the Merndin Massif to the Strait of Jute, the natural barrier of the Allengrove Narrows putting a halt, at least temporarily, to Whitefire's advance.

Operation Sledgehammer had been a partial success for general Denham. Despite losing the south of North Landing the tau breakout had been halted and the rpessure on the strategically vital city of Hammerton had been relieved. However the pressure on Hammerton had been lifted and the forces of chaos dealt a severe blow. Overall General Denham and his forces had bought time for Jellicoe's fleet to come to the rescue. Now they had to wait to see if the imperial navy could tip the odds in their favour.

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