“On a galactic scale, the battles were minuscule: A few dozen Astartes against several thousand xenos. Yet, the fighting was fierce. In a heroic defensive action that lasted weeks, the Knights of Altair conducted a fighting withdrawal that bled the Tau invaders dry. Still, by the end of the campaign, the xenos finally reached the outskirts of the port city of Aruna on the moon of Dar Sai.”—Chronicle of the Tau invasion of Dar Sai, published 753.M41.
Excerpts from Chronicle of the Tau Invasion of Dar Sai
Advance on Aruna
The Tau advance on Aruna was a military campaign that occurred on 3 454-660 738.M41, approximately three-and-one-half years after the initial Tau invasion of the moon of Dar Sai in the Sculptor System.
Approximately 5,000 xenos—Tau fire warriors and Kroot auxiliaries—conducted a series of five attacks on the Imperial lines, pushing back Imperial forces nearly 1,000 kilometers before the xenos reached the fortified defenses of the port city.
The first battle of the campaign involved a Kroot vanguard that swept aside the 17th PDF Battalion that served as a “trip wire” garrison watching Tau forces in the Hanui Valley. (See Tau advances south on Dar Sai.)
This initial assault, on 3 454 738.M41, was ultimately stopped on 3 660 738.M41 by the Knights of Altair, a Space Marine chapter based in the Corvus Cluster, which had sent its Fourth Company to bolster beleaguered Imperial forces fighting both Tau and ork invasions in the Sculptor System. (The fighting of the Knights are documented in this excerpt.)
(Editor’s Note: The story, “A sniper’s work is never done,” recounts the adventures of Private Tyesha Levers, whose Baker Company, 6th Battalion, 728th Cadian Regiment, engaged the Kroot after the defeat of the 17th PDF Battalion but before the battles with the Knights of Altair. Pvt. Levers’ experiences were little more than a skirmish action, and thus it is mentioned only in passing in this august chronicle.)
After the Knights of Altair stopped a Tau attempt to seize the port city of Pradeep in mid-737.M41, the Tau offensive on Dar Sai was stymied. While the Imperial Navy was ferrying in Imperial Guard reinforcements to the beleaguered moon, an Imperial blockade was blocking Tau attempts to reinforce their invading force.
The blockade began to lose its effectiveness after the Tau attempted to break the Imperial Navy’s control over the moon. Although the Tau were repulsed in a naval battle on 3 820 737.M41, the loss of Imperial destroyers and frigates—along with the need to counter a growing threat of ork raiders—forced the Imperial Navy to spread its forces thin.
The weakening of the blockade created the opportunity for the Tau to launch a series of daring missions to reinforce Tau forces on Dar Sai. Over the course of the next year, several Tau ships managed to slip through the blockade and conduct a close fly-by of Dar Sai, wherein the Tau managed to launch a number of troop transports and supply craft that successfully reached the moon’s surface.
At the same time, the Tau leader on Dar Sai, Commander Swiftstrike, decided that the defenses surrounding Pradeep were too strong to defeat. He spent much of early 738.M41 secretly withdrawing troops from the Pradeep front and sending them back to the Hanui Valley, the staging ground of a new campaign aimed at the port city of Aruna.
Under normal circumstances, such troop moments would have been identified by overhead surveillance satellites, but the Tau cleverly hid their redeployment under the thick forest canopy that covers the western half of the main continent of Dar Sai. As a result, the Tau achieved complete surprise when it began its campaign on Aruna on 3 454 738.M41.
Tau vs. Knights of Altair – First Clash
3 590 738.M41
After the defeat of the 17th PDF Battalion south of the Hanui Valley, Tau forces began a slow advance south toward Aruna. Although it took some weeks to deploy, the 4th Company of the Knights of Altair eventually engaged the Tau approximately 800 kilometers north of the city.
The battle began with Astartes Drop Pods landing on the Tau right flank, threatening the xenos’ armored forces, consisting of Hammerhead tanks and Riptide battle suits.
Exiting these Drop Pods were two dreadnoughts, Boras and Gallus, who targeted their multi-meltas and storm bolters at the enemy armor.
Meanwhile, an armored column of Space Marines struck the Tau left flank, seeking to take advantage of the distraction caused by the dreadnoughts. The goal was to shatter the weaker xeno flank, but the Tau responded by air-dropping nine Crisis Suits to the rear and flank of the Astartes armored vehicles.
This threat was countered by the arrival of the Space Marines’ tactical reserves that brought heavy firepower against the Tau, ultimately wiping out the Crisis Suits and supporting Fire Warriors and Devilfish transports. Alas, the Crisis Suits managed to destroy several Predator tanks and fatally delay the armor attack.
At the same time, the two dreadnoughts deep within Tau territory were unable to destroy the Tau armor support, allowing the Tau to maintain control of the battlefield. The Knights of Altair grudgingly withdrew.
Scenario: Big Guns Never Die
Space Marine Victory Points: Slay the Warlord (1 v.p.) and Linebreaker (1 v.p.) = 2 v.p.
Tau Victory Points: Two objectives (6 v.p.), two heavy units destroyed (2 v.p.), and First Blood (1 v.p.) = 9 v.p.
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