Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alliance in total war

Increasing violence in the Mabb Nebula began to snowball and escalate as 10_013M42 continued, with the Tau-Eldar alliance, now formally brokered, facing war on a number of fronts. From now on the eldar and tau would see their fate ever more closely interlinked, as what happened to one race deeply affected the other.

- Chaos on the back foot

Against chaos the alliance made good progress. Initially an Iron Warriors force, backed by other forces, landed on Calabris, defeating a tau garrison and establishing a significant bridgehead. Realising that the possession of Calabris would effectively cut the supply of the Aleph expansion sphere from the rest of the empire, this was intolerable and the alliance responded with brutal aggression.

Commander Windgather and his eldar allies were once again called upon to be the alliance "firefighter", and one hunter cadre of troops swiftly redeployed to Calabris, leaving a hunter cadre in the Zadoc subsector and another in the Perseus Deeps. The tau relief force faced forces loyal to the Arch Cleric who had been requested to defend the drop site while the Iron Warriors pushed on to the command and control centres of the world. Windgather took advantage of this, crushing the Word Bearers and followers of the Cleric, leaving the Iron Warriors out of supply and unsupported. Furious the Iron Warriors leader abandonned his assault, blaming his allies for the failure.

The eldar meanwhile sought to prevent a future threat to Calabris by attacking the nearest chaos bases which had been implicated in the recent invasion. The eldar fell upon Odr, finding it defended by Death Guard forces. The battle raged for nearly a day as the Death Guard stoically faced the Rillietan forces, expecting the eldar to eventually quit their raid and withdraw. However this time they did not. Instead tau forces followed up the eldar assault along with more of the aliens. As the Death Guard retreated to more defensible positions it was clear a full scale invasion of the Norsefire Empire by the alliance was now underway.

Tensions mounted on Odr, and the welcome for the Arch Cleric's forces upon their return to the Norsefire empire was not warm. Accusing them of bringing the invasion upon them the Death Guard attacked the Word Bearers and their allies, leading to a bloody battle on the neighbouring world of Fyrrd. The Arch Cleric's forces were eventually decisive victors and for now at least the chaos alliance held. However Warsmith Stahl of the Iron Warriors had by now learned of the debacle with the alliance, and had resolved to personally settle the matter.

- Memnon almost overrun

In the Mabb Nebula the tau were less successful, suffering serious setbacks on Memnon. Na'Porkleon's "Gen-rall Mawr-o" launched another attack across the Straits of Smersh, facing a combined eldar and tau defence. Despite putting up a brave fight, the eldar wraithguard and accompanying crisis teams could not hold the greenskin advance, and Run'Eldi and Run'Fio fell in quick succession, before the greenskin army turned south.

The alliance would have been able to put up a stronger resistance to Mawr-o's attack, but at the same time the orks were driving north, a much more malign menace once again appeared out of the Vastooth heights. Hive fleet Nemesis, dormant on the planet for months, chose the worst - or best - possible moment to strike at the tau. Desperately the tau fought to hold their lines, as commander Sky Fall's men were called on to emulate their great forbear, commander Longstride, in defending a tau world form the menace of the tyranids.

Nemesis was given a hard lesson in tau firepower, before sheer weight of numbers told and the tau defences were breached. The fighting had been extremely bloody and Nemesis had been made to pay a heavy price for the tau settlements of Va'Tanoi and Tol'Uash. However the settlements had in the end been overrun. Now the tau had the orks to the north and tyranids to the south, as they prepared to make a last stand at Duran Demlock.

- Necrons defeated

While the situation on Memnon was dire, the truth was that while a new tau colony world, Memnon was not strategically vital to the tau. The same could not be said of Parataea, a tau colony in the Perseus Deeps without which trading with the Federacy would be seriously impared. Since early 012M42 the necrons had been present on the planet, and the tau-eldar alliance had only occasionally been able to make headway against the re-awakened enemy. However the arrival of one of the Windgather cadres allowed the tau and their eldar allies to plan a new offensive which they then conducted with clinical efficiency.

Between 0710.013M42 and 1510.013M42 the alliance forces gradually pushed the necrons into a smaller and smaller pocket around Sin'Kau'Mek, finally tightening the noose intolerably for the necrons, who abruptly vanished, phasing out and allowing the alliance to retake the city and relieve the beleagured Yosh'Ioki. This was another reversal for the Harakhty dynasty on Parataea, but with the war having already gone on for over five hundred days, there was no reason to expect a swift conclusion.

- Ares setback

Finally on Ares the war of brutal attrition continued. In the last major action the eldar had finally pushed out of Ares city and began advancing up the road towards Hellebron, taking Caeralon to the east and securing their rear before being stopped by the Corellians. Unable to attack, the imperial guard under Vasilevski had dug in, and for a few months the front had been stable. Then on 0210.013M42 the ultramarines arrived and promised to take the war to the enemy.

In a coldly efficient and highly planned set of manoeuvres, the Ultramarines dropped a force from orbit at the settlement of Caeralon, while driving directly up the Hellebron highway towards the now ruined capital. The eldar fought hard, but could not hold the imperial shock troops. By 0810.013M42 Caeralon was imperial once more and the astartes had established a foothold in the worthless ruins of Ares City. The campaign here had been reset to its position a year previously, and with greater concerns in the Zadoc subsector and elsewhere, it looked doubtful that the war on Ares would be resolved soon.

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