“The Tau invading force became increasingly aggressive in early 740.M41, despite an Imperial naval blockade creating huge logistical challenges for the xenos. This aggression first revealed itself when the Tau general, Commander Swiftstrike, led his troops against the strategically important town of Sandeep.”—Chronicle of the Tau Invasion of Dar Sai, published 753.M41
Second Battle of Sandeep
3 156 740.M41
Dar Sai, Sculptor System
Excerpt: Chronicle of the Tau Invasion of Dar Sai
The Imperial campaign to target the Tau leadership in late 739.M41 was devastating to the xenos. In a series of bold raids, Astartes kill teams captured two Ethereal leaders visiting fire warriors on the front lines, leading to a severe decline in xeno troop morale.
To distract his troops from the implications of this disaster—and, hopefully, to reinvigorate their confidence in the Tau’s so-called “Greater Good”—Commander Swiftstrike decided to strike at the town of Sandeep, one of the few major industrial areas on the planet.
The buildup of Tau forces in the arid landscape around Sandeep could not be hidden from orbital surveillance satellites, so Imperial generals were well aware of the xeno threat. They also were fortunate: The orks of Hegira were showing no signs of mounting a significant military action, which allowed elements of the 4th Company of the Knights of Altair Space Marine Chapter to redeploy on Dar Sai and challenge the upcoming Tau offensive.
It was not the nature of the Knights to sit back and wait for the xenos to attack. As the Tau moved their attack forces closer to the front lines, the commander of the Knights’ detachment, Brother-Chaplain Arnaud Sévin, launched a preemptive strike in hopes of catching the Tau off guard.
Leaving a small force to guard his lines of communication, the Space Marines charged directly at the xeno army. A plasteel wall of Predators and Rhinos raced forward, with Assault Squads equipped with jetpacks running behind them.
At the same time, a pincer movement swung to the east and then north to plunge into the Tau left flank, targeting a key supply depot of the xenos. This force consisted of Razorbacks screened by a squadron of Land Speeders.
The Tau hastily formed a battle line in response to this unexpected attack, but as the Astartes closed on the xenos, a drop pod descended from the sky like a fiery meteor to land amidst the xeno force. Out strode Ancient Brother Vander Gallus, a mighty dreadnought armed with a multi-melta.
Targeting a Hammerhead tank, Gallus fired into the rear of the xeno vehicle, penetrating its armor and severely damaging the vehicle and stunning the crew. Alas, the vehicle remained operational.
The shaken Tau responded quickly to the aggressive Astartes attack. A Sky Ray Missile Defense Gunship fired a Seeker Missile at Gallus, tearing off a piece of his front armor and stunning the dreadnought.
Fight at the Depot
A team of Fire Warriors deployed along the edge of their supply depot and poured plasma fire into the Devastator Squads that disembarked from the Razorbacks. The Astartes’ armor deflected the xeno attacks, but the heavy cover around the depot also protected the Tau Fire Warriors, and the firefight stretched into a stalemate.
That didn’t last long. A second drop pod landed nearby, and out strode a tactical squad that quickly suppressed a Fire Warrior team on the western edge of the supply depot. Meanwhile, drawn by a homing beacon on an advancing Land Speeder, a squad of veteran Space Marines in Terminator Armor teleported adjacent to the Devastator squads. Striding forward, their stormbolters blazing, the Terminators rained fire upon the Tau on the eastern edge of the depot and forced them to withdraw.
Harassing this withdrawal was Brother-Librarian Aelius Galan, who cast Electrosurge upon the fleeing Fire Warriors and encouraged their retreat.
Toward the center of the battle, not far from the stunned Brutus, yet a third drop pod landed. Out poured another tactical squad that cut off these withdrawing Tau and largely slaughtered the fleeing xenos.
The xeno depot was in Imperial hands.
But the Tau were not yet ready to admit defeat. A squadron of Devilfish transports roared forwarded, positioned themselves near the tactical squads and disembarked Breacher Teams. Armed with Pulse Blasters, a shotgun-like weapon that’s deadly against even heavily armored opponents at close range, these assault-trained xenos fired volley after volley into one tactical squad and annihilated it.
Tau armored assets also were on the move. The massive Riptide walker, accompanied by a Broadside Battlesuit, advanced down the center of the battlefield in an effort to to get behind the Astartes’ armored center. Meanwhile, a Hammerhead exchanged fire with a Predator tank. Despite firing at medium range, neither armored vehicle was able to suppress or destroy its opponent.
Meanwhile, Gallus was beset by Piranha skimmer craft armed with Fusion Blasters. With support of a Razorback, Gallus was able to fend off the Piranha attack, although he was eventually outflanked by a score of gun drones released by the skimmers. With drones swarming around him like angry insects, Gallus could not protect his less-armored rear, and a plasma round ultimately struck his power reactor and put him out of action.
To respond to the xeno response, the Astartes center divided its forces. Many of the Rhinos stopped and poured heavy bolter fire at the Tau Breacher Teams, while the Razorbacks and remaining Predators joined the gun battle with the Hammerhead or targeted the Piranhas.
An Attack Squad, led by Brother-Chaplain Arnaud Sévin, left its position behind the armored column and charged into a nearby copse of trees, where a team of Fire Warriors was gathering for an attack against the Rhino flanks. Accepting the risk of using their jetpacks in woods, the Assault Squad slammed into the Fire Warriors from up high and slaughtered them.
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