Although severely wounded in the corridor fighting, several Marines insisted they were ready to continue the advance, and Apothecary Gauthier used combat stimulants to improve their combat readiness. Others were too wounded to continue, and one Marine was left to guard them.
The depleted Squad Quintas moved forward and met no further resistance until it reached its ultimate objective: the primary reactor control room.
A quick glance into the chamber revealed to Quintas that a sizable number of Tau defended the area, and many had taken up position on the upper tiers of the chamber. This provided the xenos with an excellent line of fire. Once his squad entered the room, he realized, its shield wall would be hard-pressed to defend against the amount of enemy fire, as well as fire from above.
Quintas decided to improve the odds. He ordered the formation of yet another shield wall but stopped his squad short of entering the chamber. By his reckoning, staying in the corridor allowed his men to fire at the Tau directly facing the entrance on the main level of the room.
But, by staying just back from the entrance, the Fire Warriors on the upper tiers could not draw a line of sight into the corridor. Half the xeno firepower was negated.
Both combatants opened fire immediately. The Space Marines quickly killed a number of Fire Warriors, and the remainder ducked out of sight. No doubt the xenos hoped to tempt the Astartes into advancing into the open.
Under normal circumstances, the Tau would have held the tactical advantage. If Squad Quintas entered the chamber, the hiding Tau would have resumed fire, and the Fire Warriors on the upper tiers would have been able to finally bring their weapons to bear. The deadly crossfire is would have overwhelmed the Space Marines.
Yet, if Squad Quintas did not advance, the xenos would continue to control the main reactor.
But this dilemma had been foreseen. Having temporarily suppressed the Fire Warriors on the main level, Quintas ordered the advance. For a precious few seconds, his squad crossed the chamber with enemy fire coming only from the upper tiers of the chamber.
It wasn’t long before the remaining Tau rose and joined the fighting. Beset by powerful weapons from every angle, even the shield wall did not provide adequate protection. Two Marines quickly fell.
But, to regain the tactical advantage, Quintas knew he needed only advance a dozen meters into the chamber. At that point, his squad came with reach of a large, empty space in the center of the control room.
That had been brother=sergeant’s objective all the time. Once within range, the Quitntas activating a homing device and tossed it into the center of this empty space—and, a few seconds later, a bright light flashed.
As that flash faded, the Tau were horrified to see that five new Space Marines—clad in Terminator Armor—had appeared. One of them was Captain Nevarre, his arms equipped with the finest and most powerful lightning claws in the armory of the Knights of Altair.
Without a second’s hesitation, these Terminators advanced, shaking off the torrent of xeno fire that quickly turned on them. Rushing forward, the Terminators engaged the xenos in hand-to-hand combat. Lightning claws, power swords, and Thunder Hammers struck down the Fire Warriors as easily as a guardsman would swat away an annoying insect.
Meanwhile, the shield wall advanced closer to the upper tiers where Fire Warriors were firing down. Although more Marines fell, the still-standing Astartes began to throw frag grenades upwards at the Fire Warriors, forcing the xenos to scamper for cover or risk death.
By this point, half the Tau were dead, including their commanding officer, and the xeno defenses began to collapse. Half the surviving Fire Warriors on the main level turned to flee. Two managed to escape through a maintenance hatch in the back of the chamber, but the majority were slaughtered by the Terminators.
Those in the upper tiers had nowhere to run, and all these xenos could do were huddle in cover as the shield wall kept up a constant flow of fire with shotguns and more grenades.
With the main level under their control, the Terminators took to the stairs, fighting their way through the upper tiers and completing the slaughter.
From start to finish, the battle lasted less than four minutes. The station’s main reactor was in Imperial hands.
Although the actions of Squad Quintas have receive the majority of public attention, it is worth noting that three other tactical squads participated in the liberation of the mining base.
It took approximately three hours for this Astartes force to eliminate the xeno infestation aboard the space station. Alas, some human miners captured during the initial Tau attack years ago were still alive. Having bought their lives by serving the xenos since then—and thus betraying the God-Emperor—all were put to death.
The mining base suffered significant damage where the boarding torpedoes struck the hull, and there was moderate damage to the station’s command chamber, where two full tactical squads were needed to force entry and deal with a sizable Tau defense force. But, otherwise, the station was relatively undamaged, and it is expected to be operating at 70-percent capacity as soon as new miners arrive.
Although more than a dozen Marines were wounded in the close-quarters fighting, no Astartes deaths were reported.
To ensure the mining base remains in Imperial hands, a squadron of Imperial Navy destroyers have been deployed to bolster the mining base’s existing defenses. Meanwhile, the Knights of Altair reportedly have redeployed into the inner Sculptor System, although it is not know whether they will return to the fighting on Hegira or neighboring Dar Sai.
+ + End Voxcast + +
TheGM: I had never forgotten the 2018 battle (whoops, sorry, 738.M41 battle) when the Tau seized the mining base. I just couldn’t think of a suitable follow-up to that fight.
But, by the beginning of 741.M41, I had built enough “space corridors” to allow for a boarding action, and I also had painted up a small Assault Squad with breacher shields and shotguns. I also had acquired a strike cruiser for Battlefleet Gothic. All of this gave me the pieces necessary for a combined naval battle/boarding action.
As I use Shadow War: Armageddon for my skirmish gaming, I had to fudge the stats for some units. Although there are stats in the rulebook for Chaos Space Marines , the points cost for Terminators and breacher shields aren’t provided. I made my best guess.
The first battle of this little campaign was a slaughter. The Tau had no chance, despite both sides having equal points of troops. The Tau just didn’t have the room to stay away from melee with the Space Marines, and that skewed the results.
The second battle in the corridor could have gone either way. There were only three Marines standing at the end, and just a single bad Leadership roll would have led to a Tau victory.
The third battle was simply not fair. In Shadow War, there is no point cost for Terminators, so including five Terminator-equipped Space Marines required pure guesswork on what they should cost. I didn’t price them high enough. With a modicum of luck (and two saving throw rows for each hit), the Terminators were untouchable.
But no one said every battle is a fair fight. In fact, the whole point of warfare is NOT to fight your enemy in a fighting chance.
So, while the Tau-side of my brain cries “foul,” the Imperial side says: “Tough luck. War isn’t fair. We win, and we get to write the history books.”
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Battle Report (Narrative)