Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Zadoc: Assault on Aso

In 05.014M42 the alliance forces on Zadoc were facing a dilema. Since the invasion had begun progress had been remarkable, but the recent invasion of Vieto, however brief, had brought some realism back to the tau command who if anything were becoming complacent about their ultimate victory being assured. The reality was that although the Tau controlled much of the world, the north and east was still firmly in the grip of chaos, while the Isles of Aso and Riontas were becoming imperial fortresses. The alliance decided to act quickly to prevent the fortification of Aso, which they viewed as likely to prolong the war to unacceptable timescales.

The plan was code-named "Operation Proteus", and brought together a large concentrated force to strike at the rear of the imperial advance against chaos. The operation would see tau and eldar forces land and secure the area around the city of Larrano who would see of counter attacks as the major land forces were landed in the city. The Imperial supply line would then be cut, and the securing of Aso should be straight forward. The operation would then move into a second phase, with a two pronged assault by air and overland on the chaos city of Vorni. Aso would be secured for the alliance and the tau, and the eventual defeat of both chaos and the imperium would be brought ever closer.

The operation started well, as on the morning of 2105.014M42 alliance forces secured strong positions around the city of Larrano. The garison of the city fell quickly, and Proteus command distributed their forces in the hills around the city. In the south and west, facing the ocean and Aso archipelago, commander Skyfall's troops were supported by two distinct eldar forces including the Rillietan and forces from the Craftworld of Biel Tan.

In the north and east, the main line was held by commander Windgather, with the eldar acting as rapid response units and a mobile reserve. They didn't have to wait long as just a few hours later the highly mobile astartes of the Carcharadons and Raven Guard led tha vanguard of a ferocious imperial counter attack.

General Wavell had found out about operation Proteus. For once enhanced listening devices employed by the Adeptus Mechanicus all over the south of Aso had picked up the very conversations of the tau commanders, allowing them to pinpoint the time and location of the alliance attack. This was critical intelligence and allowed the imperium to devise a counter attack. Wavell and his commanders knew they would not be able to prevent the landings without suffering horrendous casualties. Accordingly they planned to allow Larrano to fall before launching a counter operation.

The imperial plan called on the cooperation of four space marine chapters and a large contingent of Librian Guard. The elite Librian armoured formations would support operations by the Carcharadons, Raven Guard, Apocalypse Riders and Ultramarines. The plan called for the astartes to keep the alliance forces busy, allowing the Librians to drive through the middle to secure the city.

The Carcharadon and Raven Guard strike was a total success. In the southern and western sectors the astartes wrought havoc amongst the alliance forces, destroying much of Skyfall's heavy equipment and dealing the Rillietan a heavy blow. The alliance line collapsed, and the astartes secured their objectives in the south west of Larrano. At the same time the Librians, supported by the Ultramarines launched their attack overland in the north, but faced stiff resistance from Windather's tau. As per their own plans, Windgather's forces called up their eldar support, and the concentrated eldar counter attack in conjunction with tau firepower obliterated the imperial advance. The imperial armour was wrecked and the ultramarines took heavy casualties. The central attack had failed.

With the imperial thrust to the north defeated, the Biel Tan eldar moved their forces south and west, as the remaining ultramarines had joined up with the Apocalypse Riders and had penetrated the alliance line in the west and north west. The Biel Tan attempted to reinforce commander Skyfall, whose battered forces were now facing the onslaught of a second attack. Unfortunately their arrival came to late, and the Apocalypse Riders and Ultramarines tore apart Skyfall's remaining forces forcing the eldar to retreat licking their wounds. Now the entirety of west Larrano was under imperial control, but the last action turned what could have been a decisive imperial victory into an unsatisfactory stalemate.

As evening fell on 2305.014M42 the battle had been raging for two days. Operation Proteus was going badly wrong and now the Apocalypse Riders with Librian support threatened to cut the alliance bridgehead in two. If they succeeded the operation would have to be abandoned, and this would rate as the worst alliance defeat of the war. Once again commander Windgather came to the rescue. Along with the Rillietan the tau commander and his eldar allies met the imperial spearhead head during the night of the 23rd and in the morning of the 24th.

The battle went badly for the imperium as the tau firepower proved accurate and deadly. Wave Serpents and Fire Prisms took their toll, and the Librian Armour proved vulnerable to tau firepower if the tank commander accidentally turned anything other than the Leman Russes heavy front armour to the attacker. The imperial forces also found taking cover in the buildings and rubble of Larrano was no use, as the advanced alien weaponry found them anyway. The Apocalypse Riders attempted a deep strike, but the enemy forces poured overwhelming firepower into the assaulting marines. By the end of 2405.014M42 the imperial spearhead had been wiped out and Wavell was consolidating his positions. The alliance forces held the east of Larrano and the imperium the west. After days of heavy fighting and serious casualties neither side was pleased with the outcome. The Imperial hold on Aso hung in the balance, but the tau had failed to get their quick victory.

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