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A Strategic Update (Events of 739.M41) – Part 2

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A powerful flanking maneuver by the Tau repulsed an Imperial attack on the Hawi Plantation on Dar Sai.

Dar Sai also settles into uneasy status quo

As the winter of 738-739.M41 turned to spring, Imperial forces on the agri-moon of Dar Sai launched an attack on the Tau-held Hawi Plantation, a large settlement north of the strategic Port Aruna.

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The Imperial attack on the Hawi Plantation was an abject failure.

On 3 061 739.M41, In a river valley surrounded by woods, Imperial and xeno forces engaged in a bloody brawl that saw the Tau commander, Swiftstrike, wounded. Alas, a well-timed flanking maneuver by the Tau sealed the fate of Imiperial forces, which were forced to withdraw. (Imperial drive on Hawi Plantation fails)

Not waiting to allow the Imperials to recover from their repulse, the Tau hastily followed up their victory and advanced southward on Omao Plantation on 3 068 739.M41. Through well-placed aerial attacks by Tau battle suits, coupled with the high-speed maneuvers of Piranha skimmers, the xenos managed to turn the Imperial flank yet again and win a major victory. (Tau counterattack seizes Omao Plantation)

Although only 60 kilometers from the suburbs of Port Aruna, the Tau inexplicably ended military actions on this front for the rest of the year. Imperial intelligence theorizes that, with the Imperial blockade still preventing regular reinforcements and logistical support, the two battles had exhausted the Tau’s offensive abilities.

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A Fire Warrior meets his doom as a Deathwatch Veteran drops from the sky.

Intervention of the Astartes

Alas, given the military demands to hold neighboring Hegira, Imperial forces on Dar Sai also were starved of the men and resources to take the offensive and, for several month, military operations ceased entirely.

On 3 528 739.M41, however, the Tau launched a smaller offensive to the north, as far away from concentrated Imperial forces as possible. In the midst of the arid Sandeep Plains, the Tau made a bid for a key crossroads known as the Sandhurst Oasis.

Lightly defended, the small village had little hope of holding against the xenos. But, at the last minute, a detachment from the 4th company of the Knights of Altair arrived by Thunderhawk and drop pod just as the Tau were approaching the crossroads.

In a short, two-hour battle, the mighty Astartes repulsed the xenos, who suffered heavy vasualties. (Knights of Altair stop Tau at Sandhurst Oasis)

The Space Marines left Dar Sai shortly afterward—their presence was needed elsewhere. So, for the rest of the year, both logistically challenged armies eyed one another with hostility—but with little opportunity to strike a blow at one another. For some months, it seemed as if the war didn’t even exist.

But, as with Hegira, the grand battles may have ended, but there was activity behind the scenes. In two astonishing special operations, a squad of the Deathwatch—the military arm of the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition—conducted raids behind Tau lines and captured two key xeno leaders: the mysterious Ethereals. (Deathwatch capture Tau leader on Dar Sai and (Deathwatch captures Tau Ethereal on Dar Sai)

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Several large targeting arrays were built recently in the sub-arctic regions of Dar Sai to guide the fire of the planet’s polar defense lasers.

The Strategic Situation

Although the Deathwatch work in secrecy, it is believed that the Deathwatch leader, Brother-Chaplain Ortan Cassius, is attempting to undermine Tau military operations by targeting the xeno’s high command. Many believe these raids have played a key role in the lack of Tau military operations.

It is possible that he’s succeeded. Military intelligence suggests that, with limited resources and their leadership disabled (Swiftstrike has yet to return to active duty), the Tau are incapable of offensive activity. It appears the initiative may have shifted to the Imperium, although it remains to be seen when Imperial forces will have the resources to take the fight to the xenos.

One  concern is that the Tau recognize this state of affairs. It is widely understood that the Tau Navy is bolstering its numbers around Media III, most likely with the intent of seeking to break the Imperial blockade over Dar Sai. The result of such a naval action could well seal the fate of the agri-moon one way or the other.

That may be why the Imperial High Command on Dar Sai has built a series of new sensor arrays in the subarctic regions of the moon. Should the Imperial naval blockade over Dar Sai be broken, or if the navy is required to respond to a growing ork threat in the system’s asteroid belt, the moon’s polar laser batteries will need every edge they can get to deal with any orbiting Tau ships. (Rumors of the Underhive: 3 981 739.M41)

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The 18th Skaros Regiment—also known as the “Skaros Scorpions”—defeated a heretic force on the war-torn world of Dozaria.

Death Guard invasion struggles on Dozaria

Although rumors tell of vast armies battling across the industrial world of Dozaria, both distance and poor communications have left much of the Corvus Cluster in the dark as to what is happening on this planet.

Goo-Goblin-credit-2There was a rumor early in the year that the 18th Skaros Regiment—known as the “Skaros Scorpions”—had defeated a Death Guard force . It was said that more than 20,000 Scorpions launched their successful attack on the Warp-tainted invaders, who were defending a manufactorum complex on the planet’s southern hemisphere. (Rumors of the Underhive: 3 151 739.M41)

Another rumor making the rounds tells the tale of a small scout squad of the Knights of Altair that clashed with a heretical cult in the ruins of some unidentified city. It is said that Space Marines made quick work of their opponents. (Space Marines battle heretics on Dozaria)

The lack of information on Dozaria suggests to some that the overall war is going poorly. But that’s not the case. In reality, despite several months of impressive gains by the traitors early in the war, Imperial reinforcements, including contingents from multiple Space Marine chapters, has stopped the traitor advance cold. The planet now is caught up in a horrific battle of attrition.

Indeed, it was to break the stalemate that led to one of the most strategically significant, albeit small fights of the year. In the last month of the year, a Death Guard sorcerer attempted to open a portal to the Warp so Nurgle Daemons could reinforce the traitors and turn the tide of battle.

Fortunately, the Knights of Altair successfully stopped the portal’s opening in a lightning raid and gave the Imperium a real chance of holding the disease-ridden planet. (Knights of Altair stop “Ritual of Pestilence”)

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Not long after the Mograin Crusade entered the Burning Frontier, all communications with Imperial forces were lost.

Silence descends over the Burning Frontier

The early hope and excitement surrounding the Mograin Crusade has faded among Imperial authorities. Late in 738.M41, it was announced that a stable warp route had been discovered to link the Imperium with the long-lost Varrenshall Subsector, a region of Imperial space cut off from the Imperium for half a century.

The Mograin Crusade was launched on 6 136 739.M41, when the Vorpal Swords crossed the only stable warp jump to the Frontier and established a base on the world of Port Halborg. Their goal: With the help of several Imperial Guard regiments, they were to restore order and return Imperial control to numerous worlds that had fallen to xenos and heretics during the time the subsector was cut off.

Alas, after months of effort, Imperial authorities concede they have lost all contact with the Vorpal Swords Space Marine Chapter. The last known communication with the Burning Sector was a routine historical document outlining the fall of Arthys IV to orks in the years before Imperial forces returned to the region. (Strategic situation on Arthys IV)

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Mutant troops swarm over the walls of the besieged Promethium Plant 117 on Morkai.

Civil unrest continues on desert world of Morkai

Despite rumors that the mutants of Ungolath would attempt to overthrow Imperial rule on Morkai, there were only a few small battles in the barren desert to the south of the mutant-held city.

The first signs of trouble arose with an attack on the town of Tayma, which was overrun—and its population slain—by a sizable Ungolath muant army. (Rumors of the Underhive: 3 090 739.M41)

The next major mutant attack came on 3 110 739.M41, when mutants attacked Promethium Plant 117, an isolated facility about 270 kilometers to the southeast of Ungolath.

Using storming ladders, the mutants swarmed over the rusty sheet-metal and crumbling adobe walls around the plant and slaughtered its defending workers. A relief force was sent from the hive city of Charcharoth, but it arrived too late to save the plant’s staff and were forced to withdraw. (Mutants seize promethium plant on Morkai)

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Inquisitor Gideon Locke crosses the hostile desert of Morkai to investigated the Haruspex Cult.

Only days later, this same mutant force sought to exploit its victory and marched southeast toward a number of scattered villages eking out an existence in the desert.  On 3 117 739.M41, the 1st Battalion, Household Guard of House Fenring, intercepted the mutants in the open desert and drove them back. (Mutant horde repulsed on Morkai desert)

After this defeat, no further military actions were undertaken by the mutants, although incidents of terrorism—believed to be the work of Haruspex supporters in the teeming underhives of various cities—have been reported.

All of this has led to increased civil unrest and occasional rioting. The worst riots occurred after a rumor spread that Imperial authorities were considering a pogrom against the mutants, much like the culling of Ungolath a millennium ago, when the rulers of that hive city attempted to slaughter the entire mutant population. The resulting violence led to 8 million deaths.

Given that tens of millions of mutants are believed to reside on Morkai, such rumors have led to predictions that a worldwide civil war is in the offing. (Rumors of the Underhive: 3 151 739.M41)

Indeed, rumors are rife across the planet. One is that there is trouble beneath Cynosore, a radiation-tainted hive city on the desert world of Morkai.

In the mines below the city, far deeper even than the underhive, miners have reported sightings of deformed mutants with heavily ridged heads, mauve to violet skin, and extra, vestigial limbs. (Rumors of the Underhive: 3 026 739.M41)

So rampant are the rumors, and so hysterical the fears of the world’s leaders, that the attention of the Inquisition has been drawn to the planet. Near the end of the year, Inquisitor Gideon Locke of the Ordo Hereticus snuck into the ruined city of Ungolath to learn more about a mutant rebellion and its mythical leader, the “Haruspex.”

Although unable to learn anything about the leader, Locke manages to uncover some useful intelligence that could help stop the rebellion. (Inquisition Investigates Haruspex cult)

Click here to read Part 3 of this year-end summary.

Click here to return to Part 1.

Click here to see more of the great artwork of The-Goo-Goblin.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

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