Monday, October 21, 2013

Tau held on Tyranteous

Following their impressive southerly breakout the tau continued to advance as 10.013M42 progressed. The tau had identified a large salient of imperial troops trying to reform in Badvale and a swift and decisive blow here would eliminate this salient and potentially wipe out almost a third of the remaining imperial armies on Tyranteous. The imperium realised this as well and looked to the Astartes to prevent the collapse. The Salamanders and Apocalypse Riders responded to the threat while a new offensive by the Novgorod Guard from the Praetorian Wall in the east was prepared in order to lessen the pressure in the west.

While commander Windgahter paused to regroup after his lightning dash, it was commander Skyfall's armies who surged south from Lake Renbow, attempting to cut off supply to Cunningham's army in Badvale. In the south, the Salamanders prepared to prevent the encirclement, while the Apocalypse Riders knew they had to stop the tau from pushing up the main road into Grent, or else the tau would be able to get behind the imperial defences at the Praetorian Wall.

In the east the Apocalypse Riders deployed their forces in secret either side of the main highway with another force directly in the path of the tau advance. The main highway travelled through the Grent pass, a long narrow valley which was strategically vital to any army wanting to enter the eastern regions of Tyranteous. The tau meanwhile advanced confidently, backed once again by their tau allies, apparently unaware of the Astartes company in their path.

The tau-eldar alliance force was taken completely by surprise by the imperial force, and the tau were unable to perform their usual deft battlefield manouevres. The Riders closed the range at alarming speed, nullifying the tau firepower, and soon engaged in violent close combat at which they excelled. Casualties on the alliance side mounted and the battle would have turned into a rout, but for the extreme bravery of the tau commander, who held up the imperial warriors by engaging in hit and run tactics, before finally being blasted to pieces by the Master of the Hunt himself.

The decisive victory in the east for the defenders could have made an important impact to the campaign on Tyranteous, but in the west commander Skyfall was having a much better time against the Salamanders. The tau overwhelmed the marine force with superior firepower and within hours the brave stand by the company had been neutralised, with the astartes suffering heavy casualties. Despite the Apocalypse Riders' victory the salient in Badvale was cut off, though further west than had been feared. Even so, with no prospect of rescue the imperial armies in the west, mostly Librian, Tyrantean and Zadocian regiments, were forced to surrender, netting the tau empire over half a million prisoners.

The Apocalypse riders did make an attempt to break through to the west however, throwing a significant force into commander Skyfall's flank and pushing the tau away from the Renbow refinery. Their real mission however was to retrieve a vital piece of Adeptus Mechanicus hardware, something which had quite unexpectedly fallen into enemy hands and, if lost, would spell the end for the imperium on Tyranteous if not the subsector.

Thus motivated, the emperor's finest warriors charged the tau lines, their vanguard force of bikes taking horrendous casualties. However the broad frontal assault focussed the tau attentions, and a small unit of marines managed to retrieve the artefact for the imperium. Too late the tau realised what was going on and initiated a counter attack, but the timely arrival of the Riders' land speeders blunted their assault, and allowed the badly mauled astartes company to escape back to Grent.

The Apocalypse Riders had bought the imperial defenders under General Cunningham some time, but now the focus shifted to the north, where General Chuikov proudly announced the start of his "grand offensive". The lines of Novgorod Guard lined up along the Praetorian wall before moving out into no mans land, and into a hail of tau and eldar firepower.

Once again an exceptionally bloody encounter occurred as the emotionless general threw wave after wave of imperial guardsmen against the tau-eldar forces. For a while it looked like the tactic would prevail, as the enemy struggled with the sheer numbers the Novgorod forces were deploying against them. Eventually however the aliens' overwhelming firepower told and gradually, starting at the southern end of the line, the imperial advance faltered. By 1810.013M42 the guard forces, having suffered another thirty thousand casualties in three days, had begun to fall back. Now the tau counter-attacked.

With lightning speed and impressive flexibility, the tau-eldar alliance force shifted its focus to the vulnerable south of the line, breaking through the Novgorod lines and taking the southernmost fortress of the Praetorian line. By 2210.013M42 the alliance had established themselves in the southern fort and were beginning to work their way around the rear of the defensive line, at the same time capturing the incredibly valuable Renbow Refinery. Cunningham's position on Tyranteous was now dire, although the Apocalypse Riders had prevented total collapse for the time being.

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