“Hastily trained troops may hold when attacked from the front, but they most certainly will run as soon as the enemy is behind them.“—Qin Zheng, undefeated general, Greater Asian Confederation. (Circa mid-M4.)
NEWS REPORT, Imperial Daily Bulletin to Citizens
Imperial troops retreat south toward Aruna
By Amicia Gellena
Bulletin Staff Writer
An entire company of PDF troops was wiped out yesterday after being surrounded by Tau forces to the south of the Omao Plantation. Only a single tank and 25 guardsmen managed to break out of the enemy encirclement and reach friendly lines.
Enemy forces are now advancing rapidly south toward Port Aruna, one of the major cities on the main continent of Dar Sai.
“At this time, Imperial forces are withdrawing south, and we expect them to successfully redeploy within the fortifications that surround Port Aruna,” announced Captain Stevrous Stark, who commands Imperial troops on Dar Sai. “While the situation is unfortunate, we are confident that the enemy can be stopped short of the city.”
As of this morning, the 2nd Battalion of the 728th Cadian Regiment, the 3rd Armored Company, and the 19th Dar Sai PDF Regiment are engaged in a fighting withdrawal, according to military authorities. Surviving elements of the 17th PDF Regiment, which suffered severe casualties in the initial Tau attack, reportedly have routed.
The current debacle began on 3 324 740.M41 when a significant Tau force attacked the fortified Imperial line just south of the Omao Plantation. After a fierce battle, the right flank of the 17th PDF Regiment was shattered, and the rest of the regiment was forced to withdraw to avoid encirclement by advancing enemy troops.
The withdrawal of the 17th left the rest of the Imperial army at risk, and a general withdrawal was ordered, Stark said in a press conference earlier today.
“The vast majority of our forces are still at peak operational capacity,” he explained. “But you cannot allow the enemy to get behind you. So, the standard response is to fall back and set up a new line of defense.”
Tau advance quickly
The speed at which Tau forces advanced, however, has made it impossible to set up that new defensive line, according to several senior officials who requested anonymity.
“Tau aircraft bombed key roads and bridges, and enemy troops in combat suits made aerial drops behind our lines,” one officer said. “That prevented withdrawing troops from getting where they were needed, and enemy troops were able to exploit the lack of troops in key positions and race south.”
Unable to secure their flanks, Imperial troops were forced to continue their withdrawal, sources said. What’s more, the continued enemy attacks, coupled with the stress of withdrawal, sapped troop morale. In an attempt to control increasing displays of panic among the troops, regimental commissars were forced to resort to summary executions on the field .
The destruction of Ceti Company of the 17th PDF Regiment occurred near the tiny village of Makena, approximately 55 kilometers north of Port Aruna. On 3 345 740.M41, the company was withdrawing “in some disorder,” one officer said, with a Tau armored force advancing on their position.
“The company could not hope to defeat the Tau,” another officer explained. “The goal was simply to slow down the enemy. While some troops held up the enemy, the rest fell back and set up a new defensive line.”
Repeating this tactic over and over again, the officer said, Ceti Company hoped to slow the Tau advance but never become so committed to a defensive position that they could be defeated.
“Stand long enough to force the Tau to deploy for battle, then slip away. That was the play,” the officer continued. “The Tau would advance again until they ran into the next Imperial defensive line, stop to ready an attack, and Ceti Company would fall back again.”
This plan, which could have held the Imperial flank long enough for other troops to escape, failed because of the superior mobility of the Tau. A xeno armored column discovered an old logging trail to the east, which allowed the xenos to slip behind Ceti Company and attack from the rear. Meanwhile, xeno combat suits conducted an aerial drop behind the company’s right flank.
“Ceti Company was hit from multiple flanks by enemy troops,” Stark said. “It was an impossible situation for a defending force, and a disaster in the making.”
The battle began when Tau armor struck the front line of Ceti Company. Hammerhead tanks and a Riptide targeted a squadron of armored Sentinels in the center of the Imperial line, while Tau Fire Warriors, backed by Pathfinders, slaughtered a squad of infantry defending a wooded hill on the right flank.
Recognizing the danger of the Pathfinders and their laser-targeting systems, artillery and armored support focused their fire on the enemy position and destroyed the xeno scouts.
As company assets were preparing to withdraw, enemy troops descended from the sky and appeared to the rear of Imperial troops. Although one team of Crisis Suits were destroyed when they landed amidst a heavy concentration of infantry, others landed successfully. Supported by gun drones, teams of Crisis Suits quickly gunned down dozens of troopers.
Command control was lost in this attack. One Crisis Suit, armed with a Fusion Blaster, destroyed a Chimera transporting the company commander. The commander managed to disembark from the burning transport but was killed by another Crisis Suit armed with a Burst Cannon. This left the disordered company without its commander.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.