Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Zadoc: imperial defeats

The Imperium on Zadoc had little time to celebrate the victories of the astartes against the forces of chaos. The Arch Cleric responded swiftly to the loss of Andiselie, moving a large force of cultists and summoned daemons to the front line. The cultists died in droves but they served their purpose, by now the daemons had been summoned and began ripping into imperial lines.

Since the astartes had been redeployed following their successful mission, the defenders of the newly won city were the Darantine Guard, who had been moved onto the island of Anorigo via Vendetta and Valkyrie. Indeed their access to aircraft led to their deployment on the northern island. The Darantine regiment were well equipped to deal with many threats, but the daemonic force which fell upon the city on 2503.014M42 was particularly potent. The battle was exceptionally bloody and soont he city had been surrounded. Any who could escape did, mostly by daring flights by Darantine pilots. Those who remained died.

By 2703.014M42 Andiselie had been retaken by the Arch Cleric and the battle lines had been returned to close to their original positions. It was a bitter blow for General Wavell, but in the south, the imperium were about to experience a rollercoaster of emotions in the space of 24 hours.

The southern imperial salient had been an obvious area of advance for the alliance forces on Zadoc for some time. Sine 013M42 over a million imperial defenders were in positions which would be isolated if the tau and their allies could reach the southern ice cap in force. Trapped between the Nanali Sea and the ice cap, the Zadocian and Librian forces defending the region of Cata. Cata itself was a cold plain featuring many small lakes and seas, and difficult enough to transport troops across. Defences in the east against the tau had been strengthened, but in the west permanent defences were hard to maintain given the terrain. South of Pereggor only 100km separated the tau front line and the impassable ice cap, and it was here the alliance planned to make their move.

Commander Shadowstrike took the responsibility of the new offensive, and dealt with the Rillietan directly. The eldar seemed keen that the tau get on with defeating the imperium and were able to provide a significant force. The eldar would drive east, into the pocket, while Shadowstrike would overwhelm the Librians defending the narrow strip of land to the south of the ity which dominated the southern plains. Windgather was to be held in reserve as a rapid reaction force should anything go wrong. The plan decided, the alliance troops moved into positions.

The alliance had no idea that the Apocalypse Riders knew of commander Windgather's location until a force of astarted roared out of some scrubland close to his headquarters. Reacting quickly, Windgather drew up his forces and attempted to deal with the small imperial force now making a nuisance of itself, but this was a carefully planned astarted trap.

The Apocalypse Riders and Raptors had identified commander Windgather as an intolerable threat to the imperium after several defeats. Now, as Windgather personally led his forces out into the field the Legion of the Damned suddenly appeared. Concentrated fire took down two of Windgather's bodyguard while the broadsides next to him were also taken out. Worse still more bikes appeared, dropping the tau riptide and heading straight for the tau leader. With the eldar - and importantly their mighty Wraithknight - lured forward to deal with the bikers who had appeared first, Windgather now knew the plan the astartes had for him.

For the first time since arriving in the subsector Windgather was in serious danger. He heeded his bodyguard's advice and fled the battle, narrowly escaping death before jumping out of the murderous fire arcs of the Apocalypse Riders. His forces, and his eldar allies, would now have to fend for themselves. In the following hours a nip and tuck battle between the remaining alliance forces and the astartes lead to a tactical victory for the imperium, before reinforcements appeared and the Riders were obliged to withdraw.

Despite not having killed Windgather, he and the other tau commanders were shaken by the realisation that despite their overwhelming technological advantage they were not invulnerable to the imperial elite warriors. Now they knew that the astartes had Windgather as a personal target, this made them all the more uneasy. The planned offensive for early 04.014M42 was accelerated. The alliance needed to strike back swiftly.

Shadowstrike's attack began on 2803.014M42 with the eldar thrust into the Cata pocket. This was an expected move and no sooner had the Zadocian Guard reported contact with the enemy the imperial counter for this move went into effect. The Ultramarines soon arrived in order to turn back the Rillietan force, and for a while it looked possible. However the astartes force was unable to defeat the eldar and a gap opened up in the imperial defences. A gap wide enough for Shadowstrike's force to fit through.

The gap opened up by the Rillietan allowed Shadowstrike to circumvent the imperial defences and attack the Librian defenders in the flank. However Wavell had anticipated this move and deployed his forces in depth. In addition the Librians had recently been reinforced by a Knight Errant which now stood looming over the Imperial Guard units like a protective god.

The local commander on the ground, captain Grendell, was horrified at the sheer scale of the offensive. Shadowstrike had amassed a truly enormous army and was now driving it towards the Librian defenders. The imperial forces were astonished at the number of tau and kroot they were facing, supported by Hammerheads, crisis suits, riptides and Piranhas. It seemed as if the whole tau army was ranged against them.

Never-the-less the Imperium counter attacked, attempting to catch Shadowstrike's forces by surprise, slow them down and allow the Imperial heavy weapons to take their toll. At first this seemed to work, as the Knight drew a huge amount of the tau firepower, enabling the Librian Guard to move forward largely unmolested. Shadowstrike's concentrated firepower quickly overwhelmed the Knight's shielding, and the explosion which followed destroyed many in the tau lines, but doomed the imperial counter attack. Free from having to tackle the imperial war engine, the tau now unleashed their full firepower into the Librian advance, destroying their armoured support and crippling their mechanised advance. The counter-assault stopped in its tracks, and now Captain Grendell found himself losing men rapidly. The tau firepower was awesome to behold, and by 0104.014M42 Grendell's position had been overrun, and he had died with his regiment.

General Wavell now realised that given the size of the alliance attack, it could not be held. Nothing could be done for the million men in the Cata pocket, and after a month, all but a few isolated pockets had surrendered to the Tau. Meanwhile the General sought permission from his overall commander to withdraw. He had a new plan, centred around stubborn defence. Wavel would retreat from the Zadoc continent, using whatever transport he could find and whatever means necessary. It would be a difficult operation, but if he could retrieve his troops from the mainland and build up his defences on the islands that remained under imperial control, he could hold out for years if necessary. By then, with any luck his supply problems would be solved and reinforcements would arrive while the Tau and Chaos forces battled each other on the main continent. All he could do now was hold until relieved.

Given that this was a realistic and sound plan it recieved the assent of the commander of imperial forces in the subsector General Montgomery. Titus Luthor gave his tacit approval ad the inquisition and commissariat made no comment. The way was clear for operation deliverance to begin.

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