Despite the overwhelming victory achieved in orbit against the be’gel, the ground invasion of Al’gel II proved problematic. The initial landing met unexpectedly fierce resistance, and while a beachhead was successfully established, our fire warriors failed to reach their first-day objectives.
This was to have a devastating impact on future operations, as the initial perimeter was only 20 kilometers in diameter–and nowhere within the Tau beachhead was safe from xeno artillery fire.—”The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign” by Aun’el Mor’kan Tal’is’ta, ethereal caste, Dal’yth Sept, (689-776.M41).
The initial landing on Al’gel II began in the pre-dawn hours of 6 687 735.M41, less than 30 decs (45 Terran hours) after the be’gel (ork) fleet was largely destroyed in orbit.
Manta missile destroyers and orca dropships transported three regiments of fire warriors and a company of Hammerhead tanks to the surface. The landing site was a high-altitude plain in an isolated corner of the largest continent of the ork-held planet.
Around this landing site, six Crisis Suit Teams and 12 Stealth Suit teams deployed from low-altitude-flying transports to designated points—forming a thin perimeter that guarded likely avenues for an ork coutnerattack. Their mission: to buy time for the second wave of landings to arrive undisturbed.
That was not to be. Although relatively isolated, a medium-sized ork settlment was approximately 40 kilometers distant, and within six hours, a sizable ork force arrived at the southwest edge of the Tau perimeter. The Crisis Team defending the position killed approximately 400 ork warriors and three battlewagons before being outflanked and forced to withdraw. In a running retreat, however, they managed to slow the ork advance by two hours, allowing reinforcements to be rushed to the spot.
Within eight hours after the initial landing—and in the midst of the second wave of 20,000 Tau troops—ork artillery fire began falling upon the landing site. Two orca dropships were destroyed, with all embarked troops, and three others damaged. This forced future landings to be spread out across the Tau-held beachhead and greatly slowed the deployment of troops and distribution of supplies.
Over the next few hours, Tau forces struggled mightily to expand the perimeter of their beachhead, but these efforts were stymied by repeated wave attacks by hundreds of orks with little thought of preservation but a fierce desire to kill. Almost all of these attacks were repulsed with grievous xeno losses, but efforts to advance were slowed by continued if sporadic resistance.
The worst fighting occurred in the southwest region, where a second, larger attack by 4,000 orks and two gigantic ork war engines (gargants) nearly broke through the line. To stop it, Shas’El Phor’Yinn, a promising commander, led a Hunter Cadre in a counterattack that annihilated the orks but cost him half his command.
By the end of the first day, Commander Bloodsword’s forces had nowhere reached within 15 kilometers from their intended objectives, and casualties exceeded 2,000 warriors—three times the projected Day One losses. As serious, the shrunken perimeter meant that the main landing site was still in range of ork artillery—and key command centers, supply depots, and medical facilities were vulnerable to harm.
The Tau attack already was in trouble.
Private Journal, Shas’o Mont’yr Vral (Commander Bloodsword)
Day One, Ala’gel II
I have fought the be’gel before—and, while hate is a state of mind that does me no honor, I cannot deny my hate of these creatures.
Our invasion of Al’gel II has begun poorly. The ferocity of the be’gel resistance left our carefully conceived plans in tatters. Indeed, it already may be too late to save those who now hold our beachhead on the planet.
Why? It is not the Tau way of war to fight a battle of attrition, yet the speed and ferocity of the first day’s fighting has put our forces on the defensive—and we have no room for maneuver. To hold onto this ground will surely lead to defeat.
I must find another way, even if it means abandoning our troops on the ground and attempting another landing elsewhere. For the Greater Good, I will sacrifice all of our fine fire warriors, for if we lose this war, the orks will rally under their natural bloodlust and take the fight to us. And their target would be our beloved Dal’yth Sept.
This will not happen as long as I breathe.
Artwork (“Communications Array”) courtesy of Ameen Naksewee. Visit Ameen’s website at ameeeeba.deviantart.com.