“The Battle of Lake Kro’gar proved decisive, but the ecological cost was massive. Millions of tons of dirt, smoke, and ash were thrown into the atmosphere, creating a cloud that quickly engulfed the entire planet.”
“Without sunlight, vegetation withered and temperatures dropped. It would be years before the planet’s biosphere returned to any semblance of normality.“—“The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign” by Aun’el Mor’kan Tal’is’ta, Ethereal caste, Dal’yth Sept, (689-776.M41).
Death From Above
Fierce fighting continued for several weeks, and by 6 121 741.M41, the orks had managed to reduce the Tau bulge to only 20 kilometers wide. It was clear that the orks would have the 11th Cadre surrounded within days.
That’s when Broadsword sprang his trap.
That night, moving as stealthily as possible, tends of thousands of Fire Warriors slipped south, leaving hundreds of automated gun turrets to delay the inevitable greenskin attack in the morning.
When dawn arose the next day , the orks renewed their attacks, and they were surprised to find their advance met only by automated gun turrets and pre-programmed gun drones.
They were even more surprised by what happened next. That same night, the entire Tau fleet had moved into a position directly above Kra’gor Lake where, according to Tau surveillance satellites, nearly 2 million orks were crowded into an area of less than 2,500 square kilometers,
At 06:00, the fleet launched more than 1,000 missiles at this heavily concentrated ork army.
The combined detonation of these missiles released 400,000 petajoules of energy—or the equivalent of thousands of high-yield nuclear bombs. The entire target area was consumed by a fireballs as hot as the planet’s primary star, the ground fused into glass, and the nearly 2 million orks vaporized in an instant.
Despite extensive precautions, the confusion of battle made it impossible to ensure every Fire Warrior was safely out of range of the bombardment’s zone of effect. At least 9,100 Tau warriors died in the blast, 12,000 suffered burns or went blind, and 50,000 suffered minor injuries.
Such are the demands of the Greater Good.
All military activity ceased within 150 kilometers of the bombardment for at least 24 hours—the sheer impact of the massive explosions leaving both combatants stunned. Farther afield, however, the bombardment was the signal for a continent-spanning offensive by the Tau.
Indeed, with 30 minutes after the bombardment’s worst effects began to wane, reports were arriving at the Tau Command Center that the offensive was advancing quickly all along the front. So many orks had been drawn to the fighting around Lake Kra’gor that the ork lines elsewhere were thin, and the greenskins lacked the numbers to prevent a general Tau advance.
The gambit at Lake Kra’gor broke the back of the ork army. With many warlords incinerated, and Tau forces breaking through the ork lines across the continent, the greenskins found it impossible to organize an effective defense. Although ork forces fought ferociously, they fought independently and without cohesion or strategic purpose.
Having stockpiled large quantities of munitions, Tau forces were, on the other hand, free to use their superior firepower to devastating effect. Bypassing small pockets of resistance, the Tau advanced steadily across the northern half of the main continent. Although it took six months, by 6 693 741.M41, the 2nd Hunter Cadre had the honor of reaching the northern coast.
The only significant resistance during this campaign came in the Po’kath Forest. For reasons not entirely clear, ork forces in this region were significant in number and well organized, and the 12th Hunter Cadre made little progress against a relatively sophisticated system of trenches and a higher-than-normal concentration of weapons batteries hidden beneath the forest canopy.
Once the rest of the continent was subdued, however, Bloodsword ordered the 1st and Hunter Cadres to join this final battle. The fighting was bitter, lasting four months, and Tau casualties were so significant that Bloodsword called off what was becoming a new battle of attrition.
Fortunately, supply ships arrived on 6 700 741.M41, restocking the Tau fleet with the armaments and allowing it to bathe the forest with second orbital bombardment. The Po’kath Forest was set aflame, fire tornadoes rising 10 kilometers in height and drawing such volumes of fresh air to feed the flames that winds climbed to 180 kilometers per hour.
It is estimated that at least 300,000 orks were killed in this attack, but actual casualties are impossible to determine. There were only a few thousand survivors of the bombardment, mostly badly burned and executed without record, found after Tau forces entered the charred remains of the region. Untold tens of thousands of greenskins are assumed to have been utterly consumed by the fierce flames.
Despite such successes, it took until 6 775 741.M41 to hunt down the last organized resistance by the orks—and for fire teams to sweep the continent to burn out infestations of reproductive fungi that could give rise to a new generation of orks.(Despite such eradication efforts, spores would occasionally produce a small outbreak of primitive greenskins in the years ahead.)
Yet, despite their stunning success, the campaign had taken its on warriors and equipment, and the Tau invasion force required time to regroup, rearm, and reinforce before launching the next phase of its invasion. Other than bombing attacks by Tau aircraft, which targeted industrial and naval resources on the smaller ork-held contienents, the Tau army spent the final months of 741.M41 regrouping.
As the year came to a close, Broadsword assumed the worst of the fighting was over. The smaller continents appeared to lack the warriors or industrial capacity to be a major obstacle, and the orks in the rest of the Al’gel System seemed safely blockaded by the Tau fleet.
That assumption proved inaccurate. The warlord Greenclaw had somehow survived, escaping to the second-largest continents on the planet to rally the orks to new heights of aggression. What’s more, a motley crew of ork Freebooterz were secretly organizing a ramshackle fleet on the outskirts of the system.
The Al’gel Campaign was far from over.
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Categories: Al'gel Campaign