“Senior Captain Gylo Cassia will go down in history as a great hero of the Imperial Navy. That’s what happens when you die in battle. If he’d lived, he’d be court-martialed for incompetence. His decision to split his fleet during the Tau attack was idiotic.“—private comments, Commodore Gadea Hennard, commander of Fleet Corvus.
NEWS REPORT, Imperial Daily Bulletin to Citizens
Blockade of Tau forces on Dar Sai is broken
by sneak attack on Imperial Navy
By Amicia Gellena
Bulletin Staff Writer
In a short but decisive battle, an attack by Tau naval vessels yesterday broke the two-year-old Imperial Navy blockade over the agri-moon of Dar Sai.
Although the vast majority of Imperial warships withdrew undamaged, the breaking of the blockade has significant strategic significance, said military sources that insisted on anonymity.
“For two years, we’ve been able to deny the Tau invaders a steady stream of supplies, reinforcements, and orbital support for their military operations,” one officer explained. “Without proper support, the Tau have struggled, and Imperial forces on Dar Sai have managed to hold against the xenos.”
With Tau vessels now orbiting the planet, Imperial ground forces themselves now face a cut-off of support, while xeno forces can be bolstered by open supply lines. It’s also feared that xeno leaders may use their orbiting warships to bombard Imperial positions.
“The Imperial Navy was reluctant to conduct orbital bombardments, as naval weapons are tremendously destructive and could affect the agriculturally beneficial ecosystem of the moon,” said Galene Lydos, an esteemed scholar of xeno behavior. “But the Tau may be less concerned about massive destruction to the moon and more driven to do anything to take control.”
The Tau naval attack began on 3 305 740.M41 when the xeno force of 17 war vessels, including five cruiser-equivalent ships, managed to approach within 5 million kilometers of Flotilla DS-1 before it was detected.
“The xenos picked the perfect time to attack,” said Marcus Speakeman, press attaché for Fleet Corvus, the Imperial Navy force responsible for protecting the Sculptor System.
A divided fleet
“Due to increased ork attacks in the system, Fleet Corvus had divided into several flotillas,” he explained. “The largest remained over Dar Sai, while other flotillas were assigned to an aggressive search-and-destroy mission against orks in the Asteroid Belt. The Tau apparently saw an opportunity to strike—and did so successfully.”
It is not clear how the Tau managed to advance so close to Dar Sai without being detected, Speakeman said. “Gunships are constantly on patrol to warn the fleet of xeno movement, and there are stealth scanning satellites across the system. We will be seeking to determine how this xeno movement went unnoticed.”
The attack was not a true surprise attack, at least on a tactical level, naval leaders said, as Flotilla DS-1 detected the xeno approach in time to go to battle stations and break orbit around Dar Sai.
“DS-1, under the command of Senior Captain Gylo Cassia, was moving at combat speed and able to form a battle formation before the enemy fired,” Speakeman said.
Denied by Speakeman, but confirmed by several naval sources, is a growing consensus that Captain Cassia made a fatal tactical mistake as the Tau threat became clear.
“Given the nature of Tau weaponry, the conventional tactic is to trade long-range military fire with the xenos before closing for the kill,” one officer explained. “Many of the Tau ships are older, slower, and with shorter-range weaponry.”
It appears that was Captain Cassia’s intentions when he ordered his flotilla to split in two. The flotilla’s capital ships, which included a grand cruiser and two cruisers, turned to starboard and moved away from the Tau force. The flotilla’s sizable force of frigates and destroyers, a dozen strong, turned to port.
Splitting one’s forces is a dangerous maneuver, another naval officer explained. “Your firepower is dramatically reduced, your ships cannot support one another, and the enemy can concentrate his entire force against only part of yours.”
It is speculated that Captain Cassia intended to draw the Tau after the capital ships, thus allowing the more maneuverable smaller ships to turn behind the Tau and destroy a second wave of naval vessels consisting of older, outdated warships—vessels particularly vulnerable to Imperial fire. Their destruction would have dramatically reduced the firepower of the xeno force.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.